zaterdag 14 april 2007
De Washington Post bericht:
Marines Used "Excessive Force" in Afghan Civilian Deaths
By Ann Scott Tyson and Josh White
The Washington Post
Saturday 14 April 2007
Afghan report on killings of civilians is called consistent with US findings.
A platoon of elite Marine Special Operations troops reacted with "excessive force" after an ambush in Afghanistan last month, opening fire on pedestrians and civilian vehicles along a 10-mile stretch of road and killing 12 people - including a 4-year-old girl, a 1-year-old boy and three elderly villagers - an investigation by an Afghan human rights commission alleges.
The investigation, based on dozens of eyewitness interviews, found that Marines in a convoy of Humvees continued shooting at at least six locations along the road, miles beyond the site where they were ambushed by a suicide bomber in a van. They fired at stationary vehicles, passersby and others who were "exclusively civilian in nature" and had made "no kind of provocative or threatening behavior," according to a draft report of the investigation obtained by The Washington Post.
In addition to the 12 Afghans killed, including at least two women, 35 were wounded, and one Marine was injured by shrapnel.
U.S. officials familiar with the report by the constitutionally mandated Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said its findings are "troubling" and consistent with the U.S. military's preliminary investigation, which led this week to the opening of a criminal investigation into the March 4 shootings in Afghanistan's eastern Nangahar Province.
Together, the reports contain "more than sufficient evidence of wrongdoing" by the Marines, said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House panel that oversees U.S. Special Operations forces. "There is very troubling information in those reports that must be investigated," said Smith, who was briefed Thursday by Maj. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, head of the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command.
"All available evidence and reports suggest that the ... response at the very least employed excessive force against civilians as it was almost certainly disproportionate to any threat faced," according to the human rights group's report, which also alleges that other U.S. forces later arrived and cleaned up evidence of the shootings while denying Afghan police access.
Adm. William J. Fallon, head of the U.S. Central Command, is expected to name a senior military officer who would be the convening authority for any criminal or administrative proceedings that could arise, U.S. officials said. Central Command legal officers are "sorting through" the military's initial investigation now, said Lt. Cmdr. Scott Miller, a spokesman for the command. Marine Corps and Naval Criminal Investigative Service officials declined to comment because investigations are ongoing.'
vrijdag 13 april 2007
'Kinderen verkocht voor aanslagen’
Van onze buitenlandredactie
BAGDAD - De Verenigde Naties melden in een rapport hoe Iraakse families hun gehandicapte kroost verkopen aan Al Qaida.
De dromen van de 13-jarige Barak Muhammad over een normale jeugd kwamen abrupt ten einde toen zijn vader hem voor 10 duizend dollar (7450 euro) verkocht aan militanten van Al Qaida. Als geestelijk gehandicapte werd Barak door zijn familie slechts als een last gezien. ‘Ze vertelden mij dat ik beter mijn waardeloos leven kon offeren voor Irak.’
Dus begeleidt Barak nu terroristen van Al Qaida bij nachtelijke aanvallen en fungeert als afleider bij aanslagen op Amerikaanse militairen en Iraakse politieagenten. Volgens een deze week verschenen rapport van de Verenigde Naties is Barak niet de enige.
Tientallen kinderen met een geestelijke stoornis zouden door families in Irak zijn verkocht of zelfs weggegeven aan Al Qaida, die hen bij aanslagen in met name Diyala, Ramadi and Falluja zouden inzetten.
Daarnaast maken de VN melding van veel door Al Qaida ontvoerde gehandicapte kinderen. Het terreurnetwerk zou juist deze kinderen kidnappen omdat hun families vaak niet direct aan de bel trekken als ze verdwijnen.'
De lezeres schreef het volgende:
De Volkskrant bericht: ‘Kinderen verkocht voor aanslagen’
Van onze buitenlandredactie
BAGDAD - De Verenigde Naties melden in een rapport hoe Iraakse
families hun gehandicapte kroost verkopen aan Al Qaida. http://www.volkskrant.nl/buitenland/article415246.ece
Het bericht komt oorspronkelijk van de organisatie IRIN, dit artikel: http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=71257
De enige bron die hierin wordt vermeld is een spokesperson van een
NGO die anoniem wil blijven.
About IRIN (op hun website): "IRIN (Integrated Regional Information
Networks) is part of the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs, but its services are editorially independent.
Its reports do not necessarily reflect the views of the United
Nations and its agencies, not its member states."
Dus gaat het hier helemaal niet om een 'rapport van de Verenigde
Naties' !!! Wat is dat voor een 'buitenlandredactie' ?!!!
Bij Reuters staat er nog netjes:
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this
article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are
the author's alone.
En dat nog even afgezien van de inhoud, waarin een geestelijk
gehandicapte jongen zich bijkbaar zo goed kan uitdrukken dat je denkt
dat hij een Harvard diploma in zijn achterzak heeft...
Ik heb dit stukje opgestuurd naar mijn collega's van de Volkskrant met de volgende vragen:
'Geachte collega's van de Volkskrant: Waarom heeft u geen exacte bronvermelding gegeven zoals gebruikelijk is in de journalistiek? Waarom bericht u dat dit een VN-rapport is terwijl u had kunnen weten dat 'IRIN (Integrated Regional Information
Networks)'weliswaar 'part [is] of the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs, but its services are editorially independent.
Its reports do not necessarily reflect the views of the United
Nations and its agencies, not its member states.' Vanwaar uw stelligheid dat het hier een officieel VN-rapport betreft? Op deze manier is er sprake van op zijn minst tendentieuze berichtgeving.
In afwachting van uw antwoord,
stan van houcke'
donderdag 12 april 2007
So I was intrigued when, last summer, I read in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Shlomi Michaels had become the subject of an Israeli government investigation for allegedly operating in Iraq without the required authorization from the Israeli authorities. Not only had I known about Michaels for two years, I had spent about as long trying to understand if the Bush administration would embrace the regime-change policy of its Iran hawks, who believe that the solution to Iran's nuclear ambitions is to promote mass uprisings of ethnic minority and dissident groups such as the Kurds.
For much of the past year, I have been digging into the story of Shlomi Michaels' operations in Kurdistan, and his connections in Israel, the United States, and around the world. My investigation took me to Israel early last fall, shortly after the Israeli war with Hezbollah, to talk with Israeli officials investigating Michaels, as well as one of Michaels' long-time American associates, and Michaels' business partner, the former Mossad chief Danny Yatom.
What I found was not the story I had expected. Instead of Michaels being part of a covert operation to set up anti-Iranian proxies in Kurdish Iraq, I discovered that Michaels and his associates were part of an effort by the Kurds and their allies to lobby the West for greater power in Iraq, and greater clout in Washington, and at the same time, by a group of Israeli ex security officials to rekindle good relations with their historical allies the Kurds through joint infrastructure, economic development, and security projects. It was, in other words, a story about influence-building, buying, and profit, albeit with subplots that were equal parts John le Carre and Keystone Kops, and a cast of characters ranging from ex-Mossad head Yatom to a former German superspy, with Israeli counterterrorism commandos, Kurdish political dynasties, powerful American lobbyists, Turkish business tycoons thrown in - not to mention millions of dollars stashed in Swiss bank accounts.'
Leahy Doubts Bush Aides on Lost E-Mails
By Laurie Kellman
The Associated Press
Thursday 12 April 2007
President Bush's aides are lying about White House e-mails sent on a Republican account that might have been lost, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy suggested Thursday, vowing to subpoena those documents if the administration fails to cough them up.
"They say they have not been preserved. I don't believe that!" Leahy shouted from the Senate floor.
"You can't erase e-mails, not today. They've gone through too many servers," said Leahy, D-Vt. "Those e-mails are there, they just don't want to produce them. We'll subpoena them if necessary."
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said there is no effort to purposely keep the e-mails under wraps, and that the counsel's office is doing everything it can to recover any that were lost.
"The purpose of our review is to make every reasonable effort to recover potentially lost e-mails, and that is why we've been in contact with forensic experts," he said.
"I've got a teenage kid in my neighborhood that can go get 'em for them," he told reporters later.
Senate Democrats continued to toughen their stance against the White House over the firings of eight prosecutors over the winter.
After his speech, Leahy's committee approved - but did not issue - new subpoenas to compel the administration to produce documents and testimony about the firings.'
Lees verder: http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6552441,00.html Of:
'480 US nuclear warheads in Europe
Earlier today a truck bomb explosion on a bridge in Baghdad killed as many ten people and sent several cars plunging into the Tigris River below. The blast partially destroyed the Sarafiya Bridge, a major artery linking east and west Baghdad.
The violence comes one day after the International Committee of the Red Cross is warning in a new report that the conflict in Iraq is inflicting immense suffering on the entire population and is steadily getting worse. The Red Cross says “civilians are bearing the brunt of the relentless violence and the extremely poor security conditions that are disrupting the lives and livelihoods of millions.” The report found that hospitals are overstretched, malnutrition is rising and power outages are intensifying.
The ICRC still has a presence in Iraq despite the bombing of its Baghdad offices three and a half years ago. It has over 400 Iraqis working for it in the country and has an additional 57 international staff based in Iraq and Jordan.'
· Cheney sanctioned covert operations, says leader
"Dick Cheney [US vice president] has given orders for a covert war against Hizbullah...there is now an American programme that is using Lebanon to further its goals in the region," Sheikh Naim Qasim, Hizbullah's deputy secretary general, told the Guardian in an interview in a safe house deep in Beirut's Hizbullah-controlled southern suburbs.
The accusation follows reports in the US and British media that the CIA has been authorised to take covert action against the militant Shia group, which receives substantial military backing from Iran, as part of wider strategy by the Bush administration to prevent the spread of Iranian influence in the region.
According to the reports, US intelligence agencies are authorised to provide "non-lethal" funding to anti-Hizbullah groups in Lebanon and to activists who support the western-backed government of Fouad Siniora.
But Hizbullah accused the Lebanese government of arming groups across the country. "This happens with the knowledge of the prime minister and is facilitated by the security forces under his command," said Sheikh Qasim.
The Bush administration recently set aside $60m (£30m) to fund the interior ministry's internal security force, which has almost doubled in size to 24,000 troops. Sheikh Qasim said there was a growing anti-Hizbullah bias in the security services. "The internal security forces have not succeeded in playing a balanced role... The sectarian issue is very delicate when it comes to the security services."'
As the TV pundits on the networks gab about the tens of millions of dollars raised by the top presidential candidates, what they don’t talk about is where that money is going: to their own networks.
Money is now considered the single most important factor in our electoral process. Ideas and issues take a back seat to the bottom line. This prostitution of our electoral process has one key culprit: television advertising.
Political advertising makes or breaks candidates, and it takes a huge amount of money to implement a national advertising strategy. Now more than 20 states are piling onto Feb. 5, 2008, as their primary day, including states like California and New York with large, expensive media markets. The early, deciding role of money and television advertising in determining who gets to run for president is secure.
The costs of running for federal office have been skyrocketing. More than $880 million was raised by the 2004 presidential campaigns. The 2008 election is expected to cost more than $1 billion. Sixty percent will be spent on advertising.
The citizens are the losers, and the broadcasters and elite political consultants are the winners. We ought to turn this around. The public owns the airwaves that are being used by the big corporate broadcasters. The broadcasters, like NBC, ABC and CBS, have an obligation to use those airwaves “in the public interest, convenience and necessity.” These profitable corporations take these public airwaves for free, then peddle them for exorbitant advertising rates.'
Isaiah J. Poole is the executive editor of TomPaine.com.
Soon, the Don Imus groveling and penitence tour sparked by his jaw-dropping description of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed ‘hos” will come to an end. And then what?
Does Imus say, in the words that the Rev. Al Sharpton used when Imus appeared on his radio show Monday, “let’s get past that, go on to the next commercial, and I live to curse another day”?
If the past is any guide, that is a sure bet. Imus has a long and sordid history of trafficking in racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. And a lot of people who consider themselves reputable—both Democratic and Republican politicians, political consultants, journalists and pundits—have shacked up in this seedy AM radio motel as if it were a five-star forum for serious political discourse. They knew better, as did the advertisers who bankrolled this enterprise and the networks that broadcast it. They have no one to blame but themselves for the soil on their own images as a result, and for whatever consequences they face if they go back in.
Imus keeps saying that he is a “good person” who said “a bad thing,” but that’s not the full truth.
As far back as 2000, TomPaine.com was chronicling the sewage spewing from Imus’ microphone in a series of articles by Philip Nobile and others that reached back into programs that aired years before. TomPaine.com published an ad in The New York Times and even bought time on Imus’ show to raise the issue, and Nobile wrote an article in 2000 for the Columbia Journalism Review.
In one article posted May 16, 2000, Nobile wrote,
Just about anything goes—from saying that [African-American former basketball player] Larry Johnson ruined [white female TV news personality] Willow Bay for white men, to asking the borough president of the Bronx if he felt “like the mayor of Mogadishu.” Epithets like “brillohead,” “dark meat,” “dingos,” “mandingos,” and “Uncle Ben” are okay on Imus.'
By William Scally, CQ Staff
The fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that rising Earth temperatures raises the specter of widespread floods, water shortages and species extinction.
But some key findings in the report had to be changed in order to obtain the required consensus agreement from the more than 120 nations taking part.
“We believe that this was unprecedented in the history of the IPCC since 1988, and was an ugly and damaging development. To our knowledge there have been no similar acts in the history of the IPCC,” the environmental group Greenpeace said.
Changes in a 23-page Summary for Policymakers on climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability omitted a scenario showing the potential impact of policy on climate change and toned down the level of confidence that regional climate changes are affecting natural systems.
The authors of the report had wanted to assert that “based on observational evidence from all continents and most oceans, there is very high confidence that many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases,” according to Joel Smith, a drafting author and former deputy director of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Very high confidence means nine out of 10 chances. China and Saudi Arabia wanted the language downgraded to “high confidence” (eight out of 10 chances).
The three authors proposed putting “very high confidence” into a footnote, Smith said in an interview from Brussels.
But ultimately the United States led a group to work out a solution — removing the reference to confidence level and omitting a footnote.
“It was almost splitting hairs,” Smith said.'
By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
The U.S. military announced yesterday that it has opened a criminal investigation into whether an elite Marine Special Operations platoon used excessive force in reacting to a suicide bombing in Afghanistan last month, an incident that left at least eight Afghan civilians dead.
Army Maj. Gen. Francis H. Kearney III, who commands U.S. Special Operations Forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, determined after an initial review of the March 4 incident that "the escalation of force might have been too high" and warranted an inquiry by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, said Lt. Col. Lou Leto, a spokesman for Kearney's command.
"We deeply regret the loss of life and casualties that resulted from the [suicide vehicle] attack and the actions that followed," Leto said. "General Kearney wanted to really stress that our goal is the safety and security of the Afghan people."
A platoon of about 20 to 30 highly trained reconnaissance troops was traveling in a convoy of six vehicles in Afghanistan's eastern Nangahar province on March 4 when it was ambushed by fighters using a bomb-rigged vehicle and small-arms fire, according to U.S. military accounts. The troops fired back in self-defense.
Afghan witnesses said the Special Operations troops fired recklessly at passing vehicles and pedestrians along the crowded highway, which was flanked by markets. The U.S. military initially said 16 civilians were killed but changed the estimate to eight, with 35 others wounded. Local hospital officials said 14 people died.'
Het voorstel leidde tot grote opwinding onder de vakbonden en het personeel. Vooral de nieuwe commissaris bij ING, oud-premier Wim Kok moest het ontgelden. De man die als premier de salarisstijgingen aan de top als ‘exhibitionistische zelfverrijking’ had betiteld, moest dit voorstel toch afwijzen?
woensdag 11 april 2007
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t Report
Wednesday 11 April 2007
A damning report issued last month by the nonpartisan research arm of Congress says the Department of Defense continues to overstate its financial needs, by tens of billions of dollars, to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The agency also casts serious doubt on President Bush's statements that money to fund the war will dry up by the end of the month if his budgetary demands are not immediately met.
The 45-page report, "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," prepared for Congress by the Congressional Research Service, warned lawmakers that before they release additional funds to the Pentagon for the Iraq war, they should first demand that Defense Department officials provide an accurate accounting of how the money is being spent.
Since 2001, the Pentagon has grossly mismanaged the $510 billion spent thus far on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; has used money earmarked for equipment upgrades to finance fighting on the battlefield, and has refused to provide Congress with a transparent accounting of the money it has spent and intends to spend, according to the CRS report.
"Congressional leaders have promised more scrutiny of the administration's requests for a [fiscal year] 2007 supplemental and [fiscal year] 2008 war costs. The [fiscal year] 2007 supplemental requests an additional $93.4 billion for war costs, which would bring DOD's annual war cost to $163.4 billion, the highest to date and 40 percent more than in 2006. If enacted, cumulative war costs would reach $607 billion," the report says. "Thus far, Congress is receiving fairly detailed quarterly reporting on various metrics for success in Iraq ... but cost is not one of those metrics."'
Lees verder: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/041107J.shtml
Washington, 11 april. Het Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington en de zoekmachine Google zijn samen een project begonnen om de oorlog in de West-Soedanese regio Darfur meer onder de aandacht te brengen.
Bezoekers van de website van het Holocaustmuseum kunnen een bestand downloaden dat icoontjes zichtbaar maakt op satellietbeelden van Darfur van Google Earth. De icoontjes geven verwoeste dorpen weer als vlammen en vluchtelingenkampen als tenten. Wie op een vlam klikt krijgt de naam van het dorp te zien en gegevens over de schade. Er is ook een icoontje dat verbinding maakt met een presentatie van het museum over Darfur.'
‘Perverse’ fondsen schokken de Kamer
Door onze redacteuren Heleen de Graaf Roel Janssen
Den Haag, 11 april. De Tweede Kamer hield vandaag een hoorzitting over de opmars van financiële opkopers in de Nederlandse economie. „Deze sector is te groot geworden om vrij te laten."
De toezichthouders op de financiële sector moeten vaker de „rode vlag” hijsen als activistische beleggers of opkoopfondsen bedrijven met een te hoge schuldenlast opzadelen.
Jan Kalff, ex-topman van ABN Amro, zette vanmorgen de toon op een hoorzitting in de Tweede Kamer over de invloed die private equity en hedgefondsen hebben op het Nederlandse bedrijfsleven. In een afgeladen zaal van het parlement luisterden bankiers en bedrijfsbestuurders ademloos naar zwaargewichten uit de financiële wereld. „Deze sector is te groot geworden om vrij te laten”, aldus Kalff. Hij pleitte voor meer regulering, extra waakzaamheid en grotere transparantie ten aanzien van opkoopfondsen.
De Kamer is bezorgd over recente ontwikkelingen rond bedrijven waarin private equity of hedgefondsen een belang hebben genomen en waar ze de bedrijfsstrategie willen beïnvloeden. Recente voorbeelden zijn Ahold, ABN Amro, Stork en PCM.'
Lees verder: http://www.nrc.nl/economie/article685750.ece/
Ik ben bereid om de grootst mogelijke onzin serieus te onderzoeken, maar dit gaat werkelijk zelfs mij te ver. Gelooft de NRC-redactie werkelijk dat kapitalistische speculanten of zoals in de NRC staat "Perverse" fondsen werkelijk de Kamer schokken? Met andere woorden dat 150 volksvertegenwoordigers niet weten hoe het kapitalisme dagelijks functioneert? Als het waar zou zijn dat er in het parlement 150 onnozele hansworsten zitten dan moet de krant onmiddellijk een onderzoek instellen naar de vraag hoe dat komt. Elke doorsnee stemmer van links dan wel rechts weet namelijk wel dat het kapitalisme concurrentie haat en daardoor naar een monopolie streeft en daarnaast dat onze kapitalistische economie gebaseerd is op de wetmatigheid dat met een minimum aan inspanning een maximum aan resultaat wordt behaald. Met andere woorden: dat men met concerns speculeert en dat de meerderheid van de beurstransacties niets meer te maken heeft met goederen of diensten, maar met speculeren. Hedgefunds bestaan al tientallen jaren en al die tijd benen deze speculerende fondsen bedrijven uit om nog meer winst binnen te slepen. Daar is niets nieuws aan. Nieuw is ook niet dat onze westerse volksvertegenwoordigers niets tegen het speculeren willen doen. Integendeel, het bedrijfsleven krijgt overal ruim baan van onze parlementsleden. Niet voor niets staat 70 procent van alle Europese hoofdkantoren van Amerikaanse concerns in Nederland. Met dank aan onze volksvertegenwoordigers die de wetten hebben gemaakt waardoor deze Amerikaanse bedrijven allerlei belastingvoordelen opstrijken. En dit is maar 1 voorbeeld van de talloze manieren waarop onze parlementsleden het bedrijfsleven steunen. En nu wil de NRC, notabene de krant die de nuance zoekt voor managers en ambtenaren ons doen geloven dat de Kamer geschokt is. Kom op, collega's, ook onnozelheid kent grenzen.
Nu we toch bezig zijn: wat is er pervers aan die fondsen? Die doen niets anders dan speculeren. En dat is nu juist de kern van het kapitalisme. Of denkt de redactie van de NRC werkelijk dat iemand door hard werken rijk wordt? Allemensen, hoe onnozel kan men zijn? En de Kamer is bezorgd? Oef, ik doe een gokje: de overgrote meerderheid van de Kamerleden zal het niet in haar hoofd halen om ook maar iets tegen de hedgefunds te ondernemen. Om in de gedachtenwereld van onze socialistische minister van financien te blijven: dat zou heel slecht zijn voor de concurrentiepositie van ons land of woorden van gelijke strekking. In een kapitalistische samenleving bepaalt niet de volksvertegenwoordiging, maar de managers van banken en de grote concerns het lot van de mensheid. Dat jullie jezelf bedriegen is begrijpelijk, jullie inkomen is er van afhankelijk, maar hoe lang denken jullie je lezers te kunnen bedriegen?
Oke, speciaal voor mijn collega's bij de NRC dan maar een citaat van de Britse politicoloog Ralph Miliband uit zijn wereldberoemde studie The State in Capitalist Society (ook vertaald in het Nederlands): 'For indoctrination to occur it is not necessary that there should be monopolistic control and the prohibition of opposition: it is only necessary that ideological competition should be so unequal as to give a crushing advantage to one side against the other. And this is precisely the position which obtains in advanced capitalist societies... with the state mainly providing the required balance between coercion and consent.'
Revealed: a new counter-insurgency strategy to carve up the city into sealed areas. The tactic failed in Vietnam. So what chance does it have in Iraq?
Published: 11 April 2007
Faced with an ever-more ruthless insurgency in Baghdad - despite President George Bush's "surge" in troops - US forces in the city are now planning a massive and highly controversial counter-insurgency operation that will seal off vast areas of the city, enclosing whole neighbourhoods with barricades and allowing only Iraqis with newly issued ID cards to enter.
The campaign of "gated communities" - whose genesis was in the Vietnam War - will involve up to 30 of the city's 89 official districts and will be the most ambitious counter-insurgency programme yet mounted by the US in Iraq.
The system has been used - and has spectacularly failed - in the past, and its inauguration in Iraq is as much a sign of American desperation at the country's continued descent into civil conflict as it is of US determination to "win" the war against an Iraqi insurgency that has cost the lives of more than 3,200 American troops. The system of "gating" areas under foreign occupation failed during the French war against FLN insurgents in Algeria and again during the American war in Vietnam. Israel has employed similar practices during its occupation of Palestinian territory - again, with little success.
But the campaign has far wider military ambitions than the pacification of Baghdad. It now appears that the US military intends to place as many as five mechanised brigades - comprising about 40,000 men - south and east of Baghdad, at least three of them positioned between the capital and the Iranian border. This would present Iran with a powerful - and potentially aggressive - American military force close to its border in the event of a US or Israeli military strike against its nuclear facilities later this year.
The latest "security" plan, of which The Independent has learnt the details, was concocted by General David Petraeus, the current US commander in Baghdad, during a six-month command and staff course at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Those attending the course - American army generals serving in Iraq and top officers from the US Marine Corps, along with, according to some reports, at least four senior Israeli officers - participated in a series of debates to determine how best to "turn round" the disastrous war in Iraq.'
Lees verder: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article2439530.ece
dinsdag 10 april 2007
>> Click here to watch the 9 minute clip.'
Featuring Norman Solomon (2006) IN PRODUCTION - COMING SPRING 2007
In this section:SummaryLogistical InformationBiographical SummaryReviews and CommentsScreenings and FestivalsArticles
War Made Easy brings to the screen Norman Solomon's insightful analysis of the strategies used by administrations, both Democratic and Republican, to promote their agendas for war from Vietnam to Iraq. By familiarizing viewers with the techniques of war propaganda, War Made Easy encourages us to think critically about the messages put out by today's spin doctors - messages which are designed to promote and prolong a policy of militarism under the guise of the "war on terror." Based on the book by the same title.
Approx. 45 minutes
Norman Solomon is a nationally syndicated columnist on media and politics. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a national consortium of policy researchers and analysts. His columns have appeared in such publications as the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and USA Today. Solomon has appeared on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and CSPAN's Washington Journal and Book TV, and has been a guest on various National Public Radio programs. His last book, Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn’t Tell You, has been translated into German, Italian, Hungarian, and Korean.'
Torture: Read it in the Israeli press
The Electronic Intifada
Thanks to the Israeli press, people in Israel are informed regularly about their government's mistreatment of the 4.5 million Palestinians under their rule. Most of the information regarding the occupation of Palestine and the oppression of its people is well documented and accurately reported in the Israeli press. But even the most serious offenses are given a "kosher" stamp, so to speak, once the word "security" is attached to them.There are ample examples of this, but few are as striking as the one provided in the March 23rd issue of the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot. In this issue, there is an interview with the retired Chief Interrogator of the Shabak, Israel's internal secret security service, 79-year-old Arieh Hadar. Mr. Hadar admits to acts taken by the Israeli internal secret security service that have never before been revealed publicly.Were Israel to be the democracy it claims to be, this man would be put on trial, or at least beg for amnesty in exchange for the damning testimony he provided. If Israel had the least amount of respect for human and civil rights, this interview would lead to an investigation and perhaps even arrests. But in the Jewish democracy men and women of this kind are above the law, and beyond incrimination. In Israel, the security apparatus is a sanctified system that no one dares to question, it is a world of shadowy heroes to whom Israelis are made to believe they owe their lives. Mr. Hadar is interviewed as a hero who served his country instead of a villain that brought it shame.Most of the interview deals with violations of civil rights of Israelis, violations that took place in the early years of the state due mostly to the paranoia and McCarthyist tendencies of Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion. Examples of blacklisting civil servants and military personnel who did not tow the line with Ben Gurion's party Mapai; opening voting ballots to ensure that retribution followed dissent; and breaking and entering to dig up information on people deemed by Ben Gurion and others in the party as "enemies of the state."'
Lees verder: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6768.shtml
Israelis Torturing Palestinian Children
The Electronic Intifada
DHEISHEH REFUGEE CAMP, Occupied West Bank, Apr 10 (IPS) - Mohammed Mahsiri, a resident of Dheisheh refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, sits in a crowded cafe, a red kuffiyeh wrapped around his neck and an iconic portrait of Che Guevara emblazoned on his black t-shirt.About a year and a half ago, he tells IPS, he and his friend were walking down the street when Israeli military jeeps surrounded them, shouted at them in Hebrew to stop, and forced them inside a jeep."I was taken to a detention centre and interrogated," Mohammed says. "The interrogation would begin at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and would finish after eleven pm. I was beaten all the time, especially if the soldiers did not get the answers they wanted."I was sent to be beaten by other soldiers and forced to stand in the rain with only thin clothes on. They would try to convince me that I did something that I did not do in order to get the confession they wanted. After being tortured at the detention centre for one month, I was in prison for 13 months."Shocking photographs of torture at U.S. military bases and detention centres in Iraq and Afghanistan outraged people across the globe, but Palestinians say they have endured similar treatment inside Israeli interrogation centres since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.But Mohammed Mahsiri's story is different. He endured considerable physical and psychological torture by Israeli interrogators and prison guards when he was just short of 17 years old.What is being witnessed and documented within the detention centres and prison camps is widespread, systematic violation of international laws experienced by Palestinian children under 18 years old, including torture, interrogation, physical beatings, deplorable living conditions and no access to fair trial, according to reports by human rights groups and legal observers.'
Lees verder: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6782.shtml
After receiving what he deemed an insufficient response from the State Department, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) is reiterating his request for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to appear before the panel on April 18 to answer questions about administration claims that Iraq tried to buy enriched uranium from Niger.
Waxman wants Rice to answer questions about what she knew about the assertion that Iraq tried to buy uranium before the U.S. invasion, according to a letter the chairman sent Rice on Monday.
The claims, which have since been proved false, were the basis for a now notorious line in President Bush's State of the Union in 2003 address to justify the invasion of Iraq. That claim eventually led to the outing of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA agent, who has already testified before Waxman's committee.
In his most recent letter to Rice, Waxman lays out the four questions he would like Rice to answer:
1. Whether she knew if Bush "cited forged evidence about Iraq's efforts to procure uranium from Niger in the State of the Union Address";
2. Whether she was aware of doubts raised by CIA and State Department officials questioning the veracity of those claims before Bush delivered his speech;
3. Whether there was any factual basis for Rice's reference in a 2003 op-ed to "Iraq's efforts to get uranium from abroad";
4. Whether Rice "took appropriate steps to investigate how the Niger claim ended up in the State of the Union address after it was revealed to be fraudulent."
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/041007L.shtml Of: http://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0407/
By Alissa J. Rubin and Edward Wong
The New York Times
Baghdad - Nearly two months into the new security push in Baghdad, there has been some success in reducing the number of death squad victims found crumpled in the streets each day.
And while the overall death rates for all of Iraq have not dropped significantly, largely because of devastating suicide bombings, a few parts of the capital have become calmer as some death squads have decided to lie low.
But there is little sign that the Baghdad push is accomplishing its main purpose: to create an island of stability in which Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs and Kurds can try to figure out how to run the country together. There has been no visible move toward compromise on the main dividing issues, like regional autonomy and more power sharing between Shiites and Sunnis.
For American troops, Baghdad has become a deadlier battleground as they have poured into the capital to confront Sunni and Shiite militias on their home streets. The rate of American deaths in the city over the first seven weeks of the security plan has nearly doubled from the previous period, though it has stayed roughly the same over all, decreasing in other parts of the country as troops have focused on the capital.
American commanders say it will be months before they can draw conclusions about the campaign to secure Baghdad, and just more than half of the so-called surge of nearly 30,000 additional troops into the country have arrived. But at the same time, political pressure in the United States for quick results and a firm troop pullout date has become more intense than ever.
This snapshot of the early weeks of the operation, which officially began on Feb. 14, is drawn from American and Iraqi casualty data and interviews with military commanders and government officials.
Already in that time, the military and political reality has shifted from what American planners faced when they prepared the Baghdad operation, continuing a pattern of rapid change that has become painfully familiar since the 2003 invasion.
In the northern and western provinces where they hold sway, and even in parts of Baghdad, Sunni Arab insurgents have sharpened their tactics, using more suicide car and vest bombs and carrying out successive chlorine gas attacks.'
Nachtwey laat de kijker de omstandigheden van mensen zien, en weet ze tegelijkertijd op een respectvolle manier vast te leggen.'
'Hamas geeft Israël lijst honderden gevangenen voor ruil.
Van onze correspondent Alex Burghoorn
JERUZALEM - De islamistische Hamas-beweging heeft Israël een lijst overhandigd met de namen van zeker enkele honderden Palestijnse gevangenen die Hamas wil ruilen tegen Gilad Shalit, de Israëlische soldaat die tien maanden geleden bij de grens van de Gazastrook is ontvoerd…
Strijders van Hamas hebben Shalit in juni op Israëlisch grondgebied ontvoerd. Nadat een groots legeroffensief in de Gazastrook zijn bevrijding niet dichterbij had gebracht, is Israël met Egyptische bemiddeling onderhandelingen begonnen.'
Twee opmerkingen: Waarom gebruikt Alex Burghoorn de kwalificatie 'ontvoerd' voor een krijgsgevangen genomen zwaar bewapende Israelische tankschutter die onderdeel uitmaakte van een leger dat de Palestijnse burgers in Gaza terroriseerde? Vanwaar die verdraaiing van feiten? Ook Burghoorn weet dat volgens het internationaal recht een volk zich gewapend mag verzetten tegen een bezetter. Dat gebeurde hier. Israel bezet Palestijns gebied al bijna 40 jaar lang en negeert daarmee al vier decennialang VN-resoluties. Dit is de kern van het conflict. Aangezien de Palestijnen zich tegen het Israelische leger mogen verzetten, kan er ook geen sprake zijn van ''ontvoeren.'' Tegelijkertijd is het zo dat het ontvoeren van Hamas-ministers door Israel wel in strijd is met het internationaal recht. Israel heeft geen rechtsgrond om democratisch gekozen volksvertegenwoordigers te 'arresteren' zoals de Volkskrant en de andere Nederlandse commerciele massamedia dit noemden. Nee, die ministers werden nu juist 'ontvoerd.' Hoe komt het dat dit niet tot Alex doordringt? Een maand of negen geleden schreef ik:
'Terwijl de propaganda van Olmert ongeclausuleerd door Alex en andere westerse correspondenten wordt doorgegeven, confisqueert Israel nog meer Palestijns gebied op de Westbank. Maar ook dat verzuimt Burghoorn te melden. De Volkskrant wil het beeld oproepen dat onschuldige jongens ineens vermoord, gewond of ontvoerd zijn door gewelddadige Palestijnen. Notabene een jongen van negentien met een bril. Vandaar dat de Volkskrant in een commentaar schrijft; “Dat Israel de Palestijnse overval niet over zijn kant laat gaan, is begrijpelijk.’ Dit is geen journalistiek meer, maar propaganda. De Volkskrant gedraagt zich als de Pro-Israel lobby. Blokker heeft gelijk. Het wordt tijd om te vertrekken bij de Volkskrant, hij als columnist en wij als abonnee.' Zie: http://stanvanhoucke.blogspot.com/2006/07/de-volkskrant-6.html
'Ook het gebruik van het woord ''ontvoering'' is tekenend voor de gekleurde manier waarop bericht wordt. Worden militairen ontvoerd in een gewapend conflict? Nee, ze worden gevangen genomen, krijgsgevangen. Van ontvoering is pas sprake als het een burger betreft. Deze 19-jarige korporaal is een militair zodra hij achter zijn machinegeweer op een tank zit.' Zie:
Burghoorn kwalificeert de terreur van het Israelische leger tegen de Palestijnse burgerbevolking als 'een groots legeroffensief.' Groots??? Hoe groots? Bedoel je grootscheeps Alex, of bedoel je groots, prachtig, fier? Volgens mij heb je je helemaal laten meeslepen, en is dit een schitterende Fehlleistung. Een Freudiaanse slip of the pen. Kijk de dikke Van Dale er nog eens op na, Alex, dan weet je tenminste wat je schrijft. Legeroffensief??? Hoe nu Alex? Een legeroffensief is tegen een ander leger gericht, met tanks en veldslagen. Een zwaar bewapend leger dat tegen licht bewapende milities en een burgervolking in actie komt, is niet bezig met een offensief maar met een slachtpartij. Dat heb ik met eigen ogen kunnen zien Alex. Beste collega, misschien is het goed als je een keer bezet gebied ingaat en van daaruit enkele maanden bericht. Of jaren, net als Amira Hass, de joods-Israelische verslaggeefster van de Israelische kwaliteitskrant Haaretz die in bezet gebied leeft en uit eigen ervaring bericht over de dagelijkse terreur van het Israelische leger en de Israelische bezettingspolitiek. Neem een voorbeeld aan haar, in plaats van de berichten van de internationale persbureaus over te schrijven en het nakwaken van de Israelische overheidspropaganda. Stel je in godsnaam een beetje onafhankelijk op.
maandag 9 april 2007
By Tom Engelhardt
How the Bush Administration destabilized the "arc of instability."
One night when I was in my teens, I found myself at a production of Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author. I had never heard of the playwright or the play, nor had I seen a play performed in the round. The actors were dramatically entering and exiting in the aisles when, suddenly, a man stood up in the audience, proclaimed himself a seventh character in search of an author, and demanded the same attention as the other six. At the time, I assumed the unruly "seventh character" was just part of the play, even after he was summarily ejected from the theater.
Now, bear with me a moment here. Back in 2002-2003, officials in the Bush administration and their neocon supporters, retro-think-tank admirers, and allied media pundits, basking in all their Global War on Terror glory, were eager to talk about the region extending from North Africa through the Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the former SSRs of Central Asia right up to the Chinese border as an "arc of instability." That arc coincided with the energy heartlands of the planet and what was needed to "stabilize" it, to keep those energy supplies flowing freely (and in the right directions), was clear enough to them. The "last superpower," the greatest military force in history, would simply have to put its foot down and so bring to heel the "rogue" powers of the region. The geopolitical nerve would have to be mustered to stamp a massive "footprint" - to use a Pentagon term of the time - in the middle of that vast, valuable region. (Such a print was to be measured by military bases established.) Also needed was the nerve not just to lob a few cruise missiles in the direction of Baghdad, but to offer such an imposing demonstration of American shock-and-awe power that those "rogues" - Iraq, Syria, Iran (Hezbollah, Hamas) - would be cowed into submission, along with uppity U.S. allies like oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
It would, in fact, be necessary - in another of those bluntly descriptive words of the era - to "decapitate" resistant regimes. This would be the first order of business for the planet's lone "hyperpower," now that it had been psychologically mobilized by the attacks of September 11, 2001. After all, what other power on Earth was capable of keeping the uncivilized parts of the planet from descending into failed-state, all-against-all warfare and dragging us (and our energy supplies) down with them?
Mind you, on September 11, 2001, as those towers went down, that arc of instability wasn't exactly a paragon of ... well, instability. Yes, on one end was Somalia, a failed state, and on the other, impoverished, rubble-strewn Afghanistan, largely Taliban-ruled (and al-Qaeda encamped); while in-between Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a severely weakened nation with a suffering populace, but the "arc" was wracked by no great wars, no huge surges of refugees, no striking levels of destruction. Not particularly pleasant autocracies, some of a fundamentalist religious nature, were the rule of the day. Oil flowed (at about $23 a barrel); the Israeli-Palestinian conflict simmered uncomfortably; and, all in all, it wasn't a pretty picture, nor a particularly democratic one, nor one in which, if you were an inhabitant of most of these lands, you could expect a fair share of justice or a stunningly good life.'
Lees verder: http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=183573 Of:
Fearing more car-bombings timed to coincide with the anniversary, authorities in Baghdad and in Najaf announced a 24-hour ban on vehicles in both cities. "No, no, no to America. Muqtada, yes, yes, yes," the protesters chanted as they streamed towards Najaf.
Iraq will be the focus of the American presidential campaign this week when Senator John McCain, once considered an all-but certainty to become the Republicans' 2008 presidential candidate, seeks to re-launch his campaign with a high risk strategy - claiming the US can achieve a military victory. Mr McCain will further link his name to the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq by insisting that progress is being made and that a failure there would be "catastrophic" for the US.
The centrepiece of his effort will be a speech at the Virginia Military Institute on Wednesday.
In a transcript of an interview with CBS, the Senator said: "I believe we can succeed." A year ago many people would have assumed that Mr McCain, a former prisoner of war, would easily win the Republican nomination for the 2008 race. But as the situation in Iraq has worsened, Mr McCain's support for President Bush's policy - he remains one of the few senior Republicans to generally back Mr Bush - has seen his own support crumble.
The impression that Mr McCain may be out of touch with the reality of the chaotic situation in Iraq was further cemented last week when he travelled to Baghdad and claimed that a visit he and other senators made to a market was proof that progress was being made. Incredulous journalists pointed out the senators had been accompanied by 100 heavily armed troops, a convoy of helicopters and were wearing body armour.
The Arizona senator has been eclipsed by the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is anywhere between 10 and 15 points ahead of him according to the most recent polls. He is also being pressed by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and the former Tennessee senator and television actor, Fred Thompson, the first choice of many on the right.'
Recent research in Lebanon has turned up information previously unavailable which sheds light of the misapplication of the Terrorism label by the Bush administration.
The “T word” is often misapplied as former National Security Advisor Brzezinski reminds us as he tours the country promoting his new book, Second Chance and focusing on the “catastrophic leadership” crisis caused by the Bush administration’s foreign policy.
Another area that would benefit from discarding the “terrorist label” is the Bush administration’s ongoing campaign against Hezbollah. There is considerable doubt among international lawyers whether Hezbollah should ever have been classified as a terrorist organization.
At the urging of U.S. and Israel, Canada classifies Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, which limits the group’s ability to raise funds and travel internationally. A Canadian peace coalition called Tadamon Montreal is working to remove Hezbollah from the Terrorism list in Canada.
Australia and the UK distinguish between Hezbollah’s security and political wings, and other countries like China, Russia, and member states of the European Union and the United Nations have refused US/Israel demands to label Hezbollah a terrorist organization at all.
The process for putting an organization on the “Terrorism list” is as follows: The Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the U.S. State Department (S/CT) monitors the activities of groups active around the world considered potentially terrorist to identify potential targets for designation. When reviewing potential targets, S/CT looks not only at the actual terrorist attacks that a group has carried out, but also at “whether the group may be inclined toward future acts of terrorism or retains the capability to carry out such acts”.
As of April 2007, a plurality (39%) of the organizations on the US Terrorism list represent Muslim groups recommended for inclusion by, among others, AIPAC and their friends in Congress. According to former AIPAC Director of Congressional Relations, Steve Rosen, soon to start his trial for passing classified information to Israel, “AIPAC owns the ‘T’ list!”
The US State Department definition of terror is a broad one: “the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends.
Suspected terrorist groups are thereby defined as such by the means they use to pursue their objectives. To describe an organization as terrorist is not a comment on its political goal or ends, which may be laudable ones such as national liberation or resistance to occupation.
The common saying that ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ is rejected by this student of the subject because it is simplistic and even nonsensical. To whit, a terrorist can also be a freedom fighter struggling for justice and a freedom fighter can fight for freedom by using terrorist means.'
By Robert Parry
What makes George W. Bush and Dick Cheney such extraordinary threats to the future of American democracy is their readiness to tell half-truths and outright lies consistently without any apparent fear of accountability.
While other politicians might spin some facts in a policy debate or tell a fib about a personal indiscretion, President Bush and Vice President Cheney act as if they have the power and the right to manufacture reality itself, often on matters of grave significance that bear on war and peace or the future of the nation.
Even in the face of growing public skepticism, Bush and Cheney continue to invent new lies and retell old ones, seemingly with the goal of at least keeping their gullible right-wing "base" behind the faux reality depicted on Fox News, the Rush Limbaugh radio show and other right-wing media outlets.
So, on April 5, Cheney showed no hesitancy in telling Limbaugh's listeners both an old canard about how Saddam Hussein's Iraq was in league with al-Qaeda terrorists and a new one about how a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq would "play right into the hands of al-Qaeda."
Cheney surely knows that U.S. intelligence analysts have reached the opposite conclusions on both points - that there was no operational relationship between Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda; that terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was based in a section of northern Iraq outside Hussein's control; and that the U.S. occupation of Iraq has been a boon to al-Qaeda that the terrorist group wants to extend, not end.
As one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants, known as "Atiyah," wrote more than a year ago, "prolonging the war is in our interest." The letter, dated Dec. 11, 2005, and obtained by U.S. intelligence after Zarqawi's death in June 2006, urged that Zarqawi's jihadists in Iraq show patience and restraint in deepening their ties to Iraqi Sunni insurgents.
[To read the "prolonging the war" passage from the Atiyah letter at West Point's Combating Terrorism Center, click here and then scroll down to the bottom of page 16 and the top of page 17.]'
Lees verder: http://consortiumnews.com/2007/040607.html Of:
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