War dissected: an interview with Danny Schechter


War d i s s e
c t e d

When it comes to the war in Iraq, Americans aren’t getting the whole story, Danny Schechter says. And he would know. Since the war in Iraq began in March 2003, he’s focused his daily News Dissector media criticism and analysis, posted at, on how that war was presented to Americans — and how most news organizations fell far short, acting more as salespeople for the government than as sleuths for the truth. His blog entries became a book, Embedded: Weapons of Mass Deception — How the Media Failed To Cover the War on Iraq. And now he’s made the book into a documentary, Weapons of Mass Deception, which highlights aspects of the war that were largely overlooked by American journalists — such as human-rights abuses, civilian casualties, and other issues that have more to do with them than with us.

On the phone from his New York office, Schechter talked about the war Americans never got the chance to see, why they need to see it, and why he’s the one to show it to them.

Q: Why did you decide to put the observations from your book and your blog into a film?

A: The war was sold with images, and that kind of integration of show biz and news biz on television — most people get their news from television. So I felt that you have to fight fire with fire in order to really convey the impact of how there was more selling than telling. And as a former network producer, I felt I was in a good position to illustrate the techniques that we used to promote the war as news.

Q: As narrator, you’re very much a part of the film. Why did you choose to put yourself in a central role?

A: It’s a personal film in the sense that I’m trying to confront, in a sense, a failure of journalism. I felt in order to make a credible case, I had to let the audience know who I was and what my background is — you know, that I’ve been in journalism for 30 years. That I worked at CNN and ABC News, that I’ve made many documentaries. Basically, I’ve been in the news business. So I’m bringing to the film an insider’s experience and an outsider’s perspective. I’m not trying to be another Michael Moore. On the other hand, I feel like one of the things I want to see in the media is personal responsibility by journalists, not hiding behind their corporate logos.

Q: Where did you get the footage for the film?

A: We filmed interviews all over the world, in the United States, with journalists, with people who have been to Iraq who could tell us more about what they saw and did. Then we reached out to broadcast organizations, and we were able to get a response of footage from the BBC, from the CBC in Canada, from Al-Jazeera, from Germany, from South African Broadcasting. We wanted to show Americans what other people saw that they didn’t see. And these other networks basically agreed and provided material. Then we went to independent filmmakers, like the Guerrilla News Network, Robert Young Pelton, Gwendolyn Cates, who was an embed working as a freelancer for People magazine. And they provided us with footage that, again, has not really been seen on television.

But then we used, under what we consider to be legitimate fair use, network footage in order to show what the networks did, how the news was packaged, compressed, and spun.

Q: When you compare the international footage with American broadcasts, what are some of the differences?

A: We have a Pentagon media adviser in the film who says there were five wars going on. One was the one the military saw, the other was the one Americans saw, the third was what Europe saw, the fourth was what the Middle East saw, and the fifth was what the rest of the world saw. And they monitored all this and found that they were never in sync. So basically five wars were happening, to which we added a sixth — the war within the media and between media outlets.

What it came down to is: in other countries, how people suffer in war was the focus; in our country, technology and our boys was the focus. In other countries, the policy of pre-emptive invasion was the focus; in our country, the WMDs and crimes of Saddam Hussein was the focus. In other countries, there was an effort to show, for example, prohibited weapons, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, and human-rights abuses by American forces. In our country, for the most part, there wasn’t until the Abu Ghraib scandal.

So by using this mix of independent sources, international sources, and kind of a critical approach, I think I’m able to show the war Americans never saw.

Q: Have you noticed any changes in how the media have covered the war since March 2003?

A: Well, first of all, the media never really prepared us for what was to come. When the statues of Saddam came down, for most in the media, it was game over, we won, mission accomplished — that was the media frame. Until we realized that it was just halftime and that the real war was beginning. So media coverage, however dramatic, of the invasion, failed to really report what was really happening, help us understand this war. It wasn’t a regular war, it was an irregular war. That’s part one.

Part two is that we then went through a period where incidents replaced any sort of assessment of what was happening. You know, eight dead today, five dead tomorrow, three dead the next day. Basically a catalogue of killings became the news frame.

Now, with the US invasion of Fallujah, we saw a return of embedded reporters. And again, the reporting was dramatically different. In England, they’re talking about napalm being used, and other prohibited weapons, and as many as 6000 dead. In the United States, the focus has been on insurgent, quote-unquote, attacks on our soldiers. So in a sense, the news frame hasn’t changed from the coverage of the war. It’s all about us. What’s happening to the Iraqi people and their lives and their country is sort of off the radar screen for most American journalists. Not all, but a lot.

In a sense, the template that I document in WMD is not just about the coverage of the war in Iraq, it’s about the way in which perceptions in America are managed, the way in which policy is sold through deceptive language imagery, and the way in which the media system has sort of been welded, if you will, to the political system. What we have, increasingly, is a kind of state-run media system. Not always on every story, not without exceptions by exceptional journalists, but by and large, the framework and pattern has been a continuity of what we were seeing.

What we’re seeing is a different kind of media system than we’ve ever had before — extremely polarized, extremely, quote, patriotically correct, failing to really analyze American policies in any kind of way.

Media is, in a sense, the central contradiction now in our culture. It’s the issue that touches a nerve for people throughout the political system, left and right. The right has been bashing so-called liberal media forever, and now people on the progressive side are beginning to recognize that we can’t have a democracy if our media doesn’t inform us. That’s why WMD is so relevant, in my point of view.

Q: The film has been compared with Fahrenheit 9/11. How do you compare with Michael Moore?

A: I like Fahrenheit 9/11. I admire him; I think he’s a success. You know, his film — half a billion dollars and counting — opened the market and opened the door for other documentaries as well, and I certainly admire him for that.

But I’m trying to go in a slightly different direction here. Michael has been more of a commentator on American life. I’m still trying to be, sort of, a journalist. And I think what I’m doing is reporting and analyzing, or as I call it, dissecting — which is something I started doing in Boston in 1970 and haven’t stopped yet.


Returning soldiers find reintegration difficult

Returning soldiers find reintegration difficult

Sufficiency of mental health services questioned

Within the first summer of the war in Iraq a sergeant of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Delta Force and his wife were found dead in their home at the Fort Bragg military complex in North Carolina.

The case, largely suspected of being a murder-suicide, represented the last of a string of four similar instances that summer of returned soldiers killing their wives and then themselves.

Despite efforts at and since that time by major military figures and institutions to assign responsibility specifically to the individual soldier in question, many within the field of mental health services suggest such severe behaviors are indicative of larger issues.

According to psychiatrist and UC Davis professor Rick Maddock, the most startling of these larger issues relates to the 20 to 30 percent of soldiers who are, only after extended periods of combat, clinically diagnosed with some psychological abnormality.

"Combat is so extreme [that] it does harm on the person's understanding of how the world works," Maddock said. "It's a fragmenting of life experience [whereby] the narrative doesn't make sense any more and the [returned soldiers] can't put the first book of their life with the new chapters."

The central challenge of the veteran's reintegration becomes rediscovering a sense of purpose amid a life once so far removed. Even while the joy of returning home is immense, many veterans are overwhelmed by grief, anger, depression and guilt.

Maddock described these reactions as a direct function of the traumatic experiences of war: seeing fellow soldiers killed in combat, the challenge of distinguishing civilians from enemies, combating enemy insurgency and living up to the extreme pressures of military duty.

In any combination, these reactions recurrently lead to post-traumatic and/or acute stress disorders which in turn manifest negatively through substance addiction, homelessness, emotional and communicative numbness or physical illness.

Though no one is immune to the effects of war, some soldiers are simply better equipped for coping with painful stressors. Those who aren't too frequently go unnoticed for extended periods before and after deployment.

Ted Puntillo, a Davis city councilmember and Vietnam veteran, cited the U.S. Military's inadequate screening of these "people who can't cope" as a principal factor in the proliferation of posttraumatic psychosis.

"Half of the people I talk to who come back [from the Iraq War] have some sort of PTSD," Puntillo said.

Even Puntillo himself, who maintains a positive remembrance of his Vietnam experience, struggled for a period with episodes of hyper-vigilance -- a common symptom for nearly all newly returned soldiers.

"When I first got back I went through a shock," Puntillo admitted. "I'd be looking for dead bodies and bullet holes everywhere I went."

The predominance of guerilla-style warfare -- with no definitive front line or clearly distinguishable enemies -- intensifies the soldier's struggle to reintegrate.

Even after actively seeking discipline and self-improvement both physically and scholastically, Dan Wolrich, a UCD student and veteran sergeant with the 15th Marine Expenditure Unit in Iraq, quickly found the atmosphere of war to be "unbelievably exhausting."

"Life over there was unpleasant in every sense," Wolrich said. "War really sucks [when] you see friends suffer, [and] Iraqis suffer."

Still, Wolrich ultimately defined his military career as a Russian cryptologic linguist as "fortunate," especially in hindsight. However, much of Wolrich's good fortune and success as a veteran is due in part to the clinical attention provided to him before and after deployment -- attention not necessarily provided as readily to less specialized reservists.

Soldiers who are identified early on as having some mental health issue can take advantage of a range of social work programs in and around military bases. These programs operate under a practical paradigm of prevention and treatment of the problem through pre-deployment briefing and post-deployment therapy.

Whether out of volition or requirement, Puntillo considered that "just having someone to talk to can help."

Yet despite all that is offered, many feel that undiagnosed soldiers still slip through the cracks.

Last May over a dozen members of Congress addressed this growing concern in a signed letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld demanding more ample mental-health services for active-duty and reserve personnel and their families.

Since then, two programs in particular, Courage to Care and Operation Comfort, have established both actual and web-based mental health services: networking psychiatrists, therapists and other such professionals in the mental health field.

These programs strive to achieve stable-minded veterans like Puntillo and Wolrich.

"When I graduate I hope to get a job that really matters," Wolrich said. "If there's something I can do to help prevent suffering, it is definitely high on my list."

DAVID ASEN can be reached at

Evidence From Torture Is Usable, U.S. Asserts

Tribunals reviewing detention of foreigners as enemy combatants are free to rely on results from such tactics, an official tells court.
U.S. military panels reviewing the detention of foreigners as enemy combatants would be allowed to use evidence gained through torture in deciding whether to keep them imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the government said in court Thursday.

The acknowledgment by Deputy Associate Atty. Gen. Brian Boyle came during a U.S. District Court hearing. Boyle said, however, that he did not believe any torture had occurred at Guantanamo.

The hearing was held on lawsuits brought by some of the 550 foreigners imprisoned at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

The foreigners' lawsuits challenge their detention without charges.

Attorneys for the prisoners argued that some were held solely on evidence gained through torture, which they said violated fundamental fairness and U.S. due process standards.

But Boyle argued in a similar hearing Wednesday that the detainees "have no constitutional rights enforceable in this court."

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon asked whether a detention would be illegal if it were based solely on evidence gathered by torture, because "torture is illegal; we all know that."

Boyle replied that if the military's combatant status review tribunals "determine that evidence of questionable provenance were reliable, nothing in the due process clause [of the Constitution] prohibits them from relying on it."

Leon asked whether there were any restrictions on using evidence produced by torture.

Boyle replied that the United States would never adopt a policy that would have barred it from acting on evidence that could have prevented the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, even if the data came from questionable practices, such as torture by a foreign power.

Evidence based on torture is not admissible in U.S. courts. Leon asked if U.S. courts could review detentions based on evidence from torture conducted by U.S. personnel.

Boyle said torture was against U.S. policy and any allegations of it would be "forwarded through command channels for military discipline."

He added, "I don't think anything remotely like torture has occurred at Guantanamo."

But Boyle noted that some U.S. soldiers there had been disciplined for misconduct, including a female interrogator who removed her blouse during questioning.

Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times

The way our country treats returning soldiers is a national shame

Supporters of our invasion of Iraq cheerlead from their armchairs for the women and men of our military. Some folks send packages of goodies and letters to soldiers and sailors. Veterans for Peace stand on a street corner each week asking to bring our troops home. These are all examples of different ways we express our support for U.S. soldiers.

But what about support when they come back? While some historical references reflect an effort to support our soldiers upon their return from battle, our history of neglecting soldiers also flourishes and seems to be getting worse.

For example, in 1693 Plymouth Colony offered support with an order that any disabled soldier injured while defending the colony would be maintained by the colony for life. And in 1780, the Continental Congress offered half pay for seven years to officers who served until the end of the war.

However, the Continental Congress also promised some soldiers land in exchange for their service. Looking at genealogy sites on the Internet, one can find desecendants of these soldiers still trying to collect on those unfulfilled promises.

In 1917, Congress authorized disability compensation, insurance and vocational rehabilitation to help support the 200,000 wounded and 5 million returning soldiers from World War I.

On the other hand, in 1924, these same World War I veterans were promised a bonus payment of $1,000. In July of 1932, during the Great Depression, between 12,000 and 15,000 veterans and their families marched in Washington, D.C., to demand immediate payment of their bonus. They camped in shantytowns along the Anacostia River until their numbers grew to 25,000. At one point, 20,000 veterans walked slowly up and down Pennsylvania Avenue for three straight days protesting the government decision not to pay their bonus. By late July, riots began after police shot two of the marchers. Gen. Douglas MacArthur then led a machine-gun squadron, troops with fixed bayonets and a number of tanks to destroy the shantytowns and disperse the marchers with tear gas, injuring hundreds of veterans in the process.

In 1944, the GI Bill of Rights was enacted. Veterans were supported by providing money for education, low-interest mortgage loans and $20 a week while looking for employment.

While some of these benefits are still available today, nearly 300,000 current veterans can be found homeless each night, and more than 500,000 veterans will experience homelessness sometime during the year.

Korean and Vietnam veterans received little of the support and recognition that previous veterans received. Thirty years after being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, and suffering numerous medical problems, a neighbor of mine finally began to receive compensation from our government's admission that Agent Orange is toxic.

Because of situations like this, nearly three times the number of Vietnam veterans died after coming home than died during the war.

Today, there are reports of U.S. soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, being secretly transferred from Andrews Air Force base, under the cover of darkness, to military transport planes and dispersed out to military hospitals across the country. Why? So that we do not see them.

Coffins of dead U.S. soldiers cannot be photographed returning home. Why? So that we do not see them.

Is this the kind of support we want to give to our soldiers? Hiding them from the public eye? Relegating them to the streets to fend for themselves? Are we trying to hide something?

Is it easier to support the mythical, invisible image of a brave soldier fighting for "glory" and "freedom" than it is to support the very real limbless, psychologically damaged or lifeless person returning from Iraq?

Why are we increasing spending in Iraq to make more disabled veterans, and then cutting spending to care for them when they come home by closing VA hospitals and decreasing benefits?

Come on. We can do better than that.

If we really want to support our soldiers, let's demand proper medical care and compensation when they come home. Let's make sure that every soldier returning from duty in a war zone is evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) so that we can detect and treat the estimated 1 in 3 Iraq veterans who will have it.

Let's assure that all U.S. soldiers from the Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq are tested for exposure to the wind- dispersed, depleted uranium (DU) that is suspected to have caused numerous illnesses in more than 200,000 Gulf War veterans, and has caused and will continue to cause birth defects, cancer and early deaths for decades to come.

Support our troops? Yeah, bring them home and help them heal.

Tim Pluta is a veteran currently living in Mars Hill. He can be contacted at

Smoking while Iraq burns, by Naomi Klein

A Los Angeles Times photographer shot this photo ofLance Cpl. James Blake Miller smoking a cigarette in Fallujah,Iraq, Nov. 9 after U.S. forces punched into the center of the insurgent stronghold. (Photo : AP/L.A. Times, Luis Sinco)

Iconic images inspire love and hate, and so it is with the photograph of James Blake Miller, the 20-year-old marine from Appalachia, who has been christened “the face of Falluja” by pro-war pundits, and the “the Marlboro man” by pretty much everyone else. Reprinted in more than a hundred newspapers, the Los Angeles Times photograph shows Miller “after more than 12 hours of nearly non-stop, deadly combat” in Falluja, his face coated in war paint, a bloody scratch on his nose, and a freshly lit cigarette hanging from his lips.

Gazing lovingly at Miller, the CBS News anchor Dan Rather informed his viewers : “For me, this one’s personal. This is a warrior with his eyes on the far horizon, scanning for danger. See it. Study it. Absorb it. Think about it. Then take a deep breath of pride. And if your eyes don’t dampen, you’re a better man or woman than I.”

A few days later, the LA Times declared that its photo had “moved into the realm of the iconic”. In truth, the image just feels iconic because it is so laughably derivative : it’s a straight-up rip-off of the most powerful icon in American advertising (the Marlboro man), which in turn imitated the brightest star ever created by Hollywood - John Wayne - who was himself channelling America’s most powerful founding myth, the cowboy on the rugged frontier. It’s like a song you feel you’ve heard a thousand times before - because you have.

But never mind that. For a country that just elected a wannabe Marlboro man as its president, Miller is an icon and, as if to prove it, he has ignited his very own controversy. “Lots of children, particularly boys, play army, and like to imitate this young man. The clear message of the photo is that the way to relax after a battle is with a cigarette,” wrote Daniel Maloney in a scolding letter to the Houston Chronicle. Linda Ortman made the same point to the editors of the Dallas Morning News : “Are there no photos of non-smoking soldiers ?” A reader of the New York Post helpfully suggested more politically correct propaganda imagery : “Maybe showing a marine in a tank, helping another GI or drinking water would have a more positive impact on your readers.”

Yes, that’s right : letter writers from across the nation are united in their outrage - not that the steely-eyed, smoking soldier makes mass killing look cool, but that the laudable act of mass killing makes the grave crime of smoking look cool. Better to protect impressionable youngsters by showing soldiers taking a break from deadly combat by drinking water or, perhaps, since there is a severe potable water shortage in Iraq, Coke. (It reminds me of the joke about the Hassidic rabbi who says all sexual positions are acceptable except for one : standing up “because that could lead to dancing”.)

On second thoughts, perhaps Miller does deserve to be elevated to the status of icon - not of the war in Iraq, but of the new era of supercharged American impunity. Because outside US borders, it is, of course, a different marine who has been awarded the prize as “the face of Falluja” : the soldier captured on tape executing a wounded, unarmed prisoner in a mosque. Runners-up are a photograph of a two-year-old Fallujan in a hospital bed with one of his tiny legs blown off ; a dead child lying in the street, clutching the headless body of an adult ; and an emergency health clinic blasted to rubble.

Inside the US, these snapshots of a lawless occupation appeared only briefly, if they appeared at all. Yet Miller’s icon status has endured, kept alive with human interest stories about fans sending cartons of Marlboros to Falluja, interviews with the marine’s proud mother, and earnest discussions about whether smoking might reduce Miller’s effectiveness as a fighting machine.

Impunity - the perception of being outside the law - has long been the hallmark of the Bush regime. What is alarming is that it appears to have deepened since the election, ushering in what can only be described as an orgy of impunity. In Iraq, US forces and their Iraqi surrogates are no longer bothering to conceal attacks on civilian targets and are openly eliminating anyone - doctors, clerics, journalists - who dares to count the bodies. At home, impunity has been made official policy with Bush’s appointment of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general, the man who personally advised the president in his infamous “torture memo” that the Geneva conventions are “obsolete”.

This kind of defiance cannot simply be explained by Bush’s win. There has to be something in how he won, in how the election was fought, that gave this Administration the distinct impression that it had been handed a "get out of the Geneva Conventions free" card. That’s because the Administration was handed precisely such a gift--by John Kerry.

In the name of "electability," the Kerry campaign gave Bush five months on the campaign trail without ever facing serious questions about violations of international law. Fearing he would be seen as soft on terror and disloyal to US troops, Kerry stayed scandalously silent about Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. When it became clear that fury would rain down on Falluja as soon as the polls closed, Kerry never spoke out against the plan, or against the illegal bombings of civilian areas that took place throughout the campaign. Even after The Lancet published its landmark study estimating that 100,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the invasion and occupation, Kerry repeated his outrageous (and frankly racist) claim that Americans "have borne 90 percent of the casualties in Iraq." His unmistakable message : Iraqi deaths don’t count. By buying the highly questionable logic that Americans are incapable of caring about anyone’s lives but their own, the Kerry campaign and its supporters became complicit in the dehumanization of Iraqis, reinforcing the idea that some lives are insufficiently important to risk losing votes over. And it is this morally bankrupt logic, more than the election of any single candidate, that allows these crimes to continue unchecked.

And this is Kerry’s true gift to Bush : not just the presidency, but impunity.
You can see it perhaps best of all in the Marlboro Man in Falluja, and the surreal debates that swirl around him. Genuine impunity breeds a kind of delusional decadence, and this is its face : a nation bickering about smoking while Iraq burns.


Humanitarian law groups' petition at OAS officially registered

Association of Humanitarian Lawyers
December 4, 2004


“Petition N° P-1258-04 United States”.

Los Angeles-based Humanitarian Law Project/International Educational Development (HLP/IED and San Francisco-based Association of Humanitarian Lawyers (AHL), submitted a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States on behalf of “unnamed, unnumbered patients and medical staff both living and dead” at the medical facilities in Falluja. The OAS has registered the lawsuit, given it a number: "Petition No. P-1258-04 United States." and are investigating. The Commission had authority to investigate human rights violations committed by a member State of the OAS and to seek remedies for victims.

“Attacks on hospitals and medical personnel are truly shocking. We hope that this will result in the immediate improvement of the situation of the patients and staff, to additional remedies for these victims, and an end to the United States violations of human rights and the Geneva Conventions in Iraq,” stated Lydia Brazon, Executive Director of the United Nations credentialed HLP/IED.

The Geneva Conventions prohibit attacks on any medical facility or medical personnel, whether civilian or military. “Imagine the outrage if the opposition in Iraq attacked one of the medical facilities for American wounded. There would be calls for war crimes tribunals,” stated Karen Parker, the attorney in this action. “Rather than being “quaint” as administration Attorney-General nominee Gonzales has said, the Geneva Conventions and human rights agreements are meant to prevent acts of barbarity in war. Besides preventing atrocities, they are meant to protect GIs from the psychological damage that afflicts people who carry out this type of action.”

In addition to the evidence already attached to their document, the Petitioners will submit New York Times photographer Shawn Baldwin’s photograph of patients lying on the floor with their hands tied behind their backs, and a number of other photos and stories about the tragedy. They also informed the Commission that weapons containing depleted uranium, declared illegal weapons by a United Nations human rights body, might have been used near the hospitals, placing the victims at further risk of serious harm.

The Petition was filed under the Commission’s emergency provisions, enabling the Commission to order the United States to undertake measures to prevent “irreparable harm” to victims. The Petitioners also requested the Commission to visit Falluja for a first-hand assessment.

Contact: Karen Parker: 415.668.2752 / 415.533.1066 -









Karen Parker
154 Fifth Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118
415.668.2752 tel. and fax
415.533.1066 cell
Attorney for Petitioners











Tab 1. Statement of Louise Arbour,
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 16 November 2004.

Tab 2. B. Dominick, “In Fallujah, U.S. Declares War on Hospitals, Ambulances,” The New Standard (Australia), 12 November 2004.

Tab 3. “Aid convoy barred from “starving” Falluja,” Al-Jazeera, 15 November 2004.

Tab 4. M. Georgy, K. Sengupta, H. McGavin, [News stories], The Independent (UK), 15 November 2004.

Tab 5. United Nations, Emergency Working Group -- Falluja Crisis, “Up-date Note,” 11 November 2004 and 13 November 2004.

Tab 6. “Hospitals hit as fighting rages in Falluja,” Al -Jazeera, 9 November 2004.


On Sunday, 7 November 2004, troops belonging to the United States Special Forces seized the Falluja General Hospital in Falluja, Iraq. The hospital patients were taken from their rooms, ordered to lie on the floor and they had their hands bound behind their backs. There are also credible reports that a medical clinic was attacked, killing 20 doctors and unnumbered patients. Survivors are presumed in urgent need of attention. Organizational Petitioner files this Petition on an emergency basis as provided by Article 25 of the Rules of Procedure of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Rules). Organizational Petitioners allege that the reports of the impact of that attack on patients and medical staff, in conjunction with current conditions at the hospital and clinic, if true, justify Article 25 remedies and constitute violations of Articles I (right to life, liberty and personal security); Article V (right of freedom from abusive attacks on personal life); Article XI ! (right to preservation of health and well-being); and Article XXV (right to protection from arbitrary arrest) of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, adopted by the 9th International Conference of American States (1948)(American Declaration).

The United States is a member of the Organization of American State and is therefore bound by the American Declaration.

Petitioners have not raised the issues presented herein in a forum that would invoke the duplication doctrine set out in Article 33 of the Rules.


The Association of Humanitarian Lawyers (AHL) is a California Organization duly registered with the California Secretary of State, and has private, non- profit status under United States law. Formerly known as International Disability law, its mission is to educate about and seek compliance with human rights and humanitarian law. AHL specifically seeks to protect the rights of persons injured or disabled in armed conflict and to protect medical personal, medical facilities and medical supplies from harm.


Organizational Petitioner alleges that it complies with Article 23 of the Rules, which allows petitions on behalf of third persons by groups legally recognized in a member State of the Organization of American States. Organizational Petitioner assets that the to-date unnamed and unnumbered Individual Petitioners are precisely the persons that AHL seeks to protect and that the acts in questions are those that AHL seeks to prevent or remedy.


Article 25 of the Rules provides for measures to be undertaken in emergency situations. This rules provides, in pertinent part:

1. In serious or urgent cases, and whenever necessary according to the information available, the Commission may, on its own initiative or at the request of a party, request that the State concerned adopt precautionary measures to prevent irreparable harm to persons.

Organizational Petitioner is convinced that the situation is sufficiently grave to assume that surviving Individual Petitioners are at great risk of loss of life and other irreparable harm.


Petitioners allege excuse from exhaustion of domestic remedies as required by Article 31 of the Rules because this is an urgent case governed by Article 25 of the Rules. Petitioners also assert that United States domestic law does not provide remedies for victims of violations of human rights that occur during armed conflict and will make a showing of that if so requested by the Commission.


Respondent State does not deny that at about 10:00 p.m. Sunday, November 7, 2004 its Special Forces stormed Falluja General Hospital, and both patients and staff were ordered to sit or lie down. Their hands were then bound behind their backs. The front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, November 8, 2004 has a photograph taken by N.Y. Times photographer Shawn Baldwin at the hospital showing the United States forces guarding a number of patients who are lying on the floor with their hands bound. This operation was admitted by Respondent to be among the first one undertaken by its military forces in its goal of seizing Falluja away from the hands of the enemy. There is strong evidence to indicate loss of life, injury, worsening of medical condition and other ills for the patients and staff at this hospital due to the conduct of Respondent.

Petitioners allege that the information regarding the clinic is sufficiently reliable to indicate that the Respondent’s military forces carried out an aerial bombardment on a medical trauma clinic, killing perhaps up to twenty doctors and unnumbered patients. In this regard Reuters has issued a photograph of a sign reading “Nazzai Emergency Hospital” that is all that remains of that facility and two adjacent building used my medical care providers. The opposition forces have no capacity for aerial attacks.[1] American officials have allegedly defended these acts by claiming that Falluja General Hospital is an “enemy field hospital” but Petitioners assert that facts available to the Respondent clearly indicate that this facility is a civilian one, and statements issued at other times by Respondent indicates this knowledge.[2]

There are numerous accounts, as well as photographs,[3] of American forces shooting at or destroying ambulances.

On Monday, November 15, 2004 the Iraqi Red Crescent allegedly tried to bring badly needed supplies to injured civilians, including the patients, but were barred from doing so. Its convoy retreated to the surrounding camps of internally displaced persons.

There is clear evidence that Abrams tanks are being used in military attacks near and around the medical facilities, thereby possibly further endangering patients and remaining medical staff as these tanks have been used to fire weapons containing depleted uranium. Depleted uranium weapons are radioactive, have a devastating effect on life and health of all persons in the area, and will continue to have a deadly effect long after the conflict is over. It is for this reason that in 1996 the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights found use of these weapons “incompatible” with existing human rights and humanitarian law standards.

The urgency of the situation is indicated by an appeal of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who issued a statement in this regard.


Petitioners allege the above acts show violations of Articles I (right to life, liberty and personal security); Article V (right of freedom from abusive attacks on personal life);

Article XI (right to preservation of health and well-being); and Article XXV (right to protection from arbitrary arrest).

War can provide an exception to certain of these rights. For example, an enemy soldier killed in battle does not have a right of action under the right to life provisions in human rights law. In some instances civilian casualties may be viewed as “incidental” ones and not, therefore, violations of either human rights or humanitarian law. However, when a military force carries out an illegal military action, then the resulting violations are simultaneously violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Thus, in order for the Respondent Government to defend against the charges brought by Petitioners, applicable humanitarian law must be consulted to see if there are exceptions that relate to this Petition. There are not.

The violations alleged by Petitioner result from military operations that are specifically forbidden in applicable humanitarian law. Article 18 of Geneva Convention IV of 1949 provides, in pertinent part:

Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.

Article 19 of the same convention provides:

The protection to which civilian hospitals are entitled shall not cease unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy. Protection may, however, cease only after due warning has been given, naming, in all appropriate cases, a reasonable time limit, and after such warning has remained unheeded.

The fact that sick or wounded members of the armed forces are nursed in these hospitals, or the presence of small arms and ammunition taken from such combatants which have not yet [been] handed to the proper service, shall not be considered to be acts harmful to the enemy.

The facts clearly show that Falluja General Hospital was at all times a civilian hospital and that the Respondent had to have known this. Further, Respondent has publicly admitted that the attack on Falluja General Hospital was a key part of its first phase of military operations to seize Falluja. Various accounts attribute a rational of preventing opposition forces from obtaining medical care. In any case, there was clearly no Article 19 warning. And while some enemy wounded were in the hospital, Article 19 provisions to not allow that facts to be construed an act harmful to the enemy. Thus, the Respondent may not invoke an exception to the right to life and security of the person and other American Declaration Article I rights.

Even if Falluja General Hospital were an enemy field hospital, Respondent could not legally carry out what it did. This is clear from Article 19 of Geneva Convention I of 1949, which provides, in pertinent part:

Fixed establishments and mobile medical units of the [enemy’s] Medical Service may in no circumstances be attacked, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.

Petitioners further conclude that the attacks on the medical facilities show violations of the right to freedom from abusive attacks as provided in Article V, violations of the right to health as provided in Article XI, and, as many patients and doctors were detained for some periods of time, a violation of the right freedom from arbitrary arrest as provided in Article XXV. The failure of the United States to provide for or allow provision for immediate, emergency relief for the unnamed, unnumbered Petitioners is an on-going violation of Article XI, and places them all at great risk of loss of live, irreparable harm and further violations. The possible use of illegal weapons containing depleted uranium would indicate an aggravated violation of the right to health and well-being as hospital patients would likely be particularly effected by exposure to DU radiation.[4]


Petitioners respectfully request the Commission to take appropriate action on this Petition with due consideration of the urgency of the matter. At a minimum, Petitioners urge the Commission to require of the Respondent full compliance with the American Declaration as it is to be interpreted during armed conflict invoking humanitarian law. Petitioners also request the Commission consider an on-site investigation under its

Applicable authority. Petitioners also request leave to submit additional documentation as this becomes available, and asserts a willingness to address any issue raised by the Commission for further examination or argument.

Respectfully submitted,

Karen Parker, J.D.

Attorney for Petitioners


[1] Petitioners assume that Nazzai Emergency Hospital is the “trauma clinic” referred to in other accounts, but it may be that two clinics were attacked.

[2] As will be apparent under the discussion of the violations, Petitioners would still file this Petition even if Falluja General Hospital were an “enemy field hospital.”

[3] Petitioners are collecting photographs that will be submitted separately.

[4] If the facts show that DU weapons were in fact used in Falluja, Petitioners will provide the Commission with United Nations resolutions and reports on these weapons.

Courtesy of Dirk Adriaensens

Read the full article / Leggi l'articolo completo:

Navy Probes New Iraq Prisoner Photos


photos and descriptions
shown below are explicit

The U.S. military has launched a criminal investigation into photographs that appear to show Navy SEALs in Iraq sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees, and photos of what appear to be bloodied prisoners, one with a gun to his head.

Some of the photos have date stamps suggesting they were taken in May 2003, which could make them the earliest evidence of possible abuse of prisoners in Iraq. The far more brutal practices photographed in Abu Ghraib prison occurred months later.

A photo found posted on a commercial photo-sharing Web site operated by
a woman who said her husband brought the photos from Iraq after his tour
of duty appears to show a subject constrained by U.S. military personnel.
The Navy SEALs have launched a criminal investigation into photographs
that appear to show commandos sitting on hooded and handcuffed
detainees, and photos of what appear to be bloodied prisoners. (AP Photo)

An Associated Press reporter found more than 40 of the pictures among hundreds in an album posted on a commercial photo-sharing Web site by a woman who said her husband brought them from Iraq after his tour of duty. It is unclear who took the pictures, which the Navy said it was investigating after the AP furnished copies to get comment for this story.

These and other photos found by the AP appear to show the immediate aftermath of raids on civilian homes. One man is lying on his back with a boot on his chest. A mug shot shows a man with an automatic weapon pointed at his head and a gloved thumb jabbed into his throat. In many photos, faces have been blacked out. What appears to be blood drips from the heads of some. A family huddles in a room in one photo and others show debris and upturned furniture.

Photos that appear to show commandos in Iraq sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees are seen on a commercial photo-sharing Web site operated by a woman who said her husband brought the photos from Iraq after his tour of duty. The Navy SEALs have launched a criminal investigation into the photographs. Date stamps on some photos suggest they were made in May 2003, which could make them the earliest evidence of possible abuse of prisoners in Iraq. (AP Photo)

These photographs raise a number of important questions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs) and detainees," Navy Cmdr. Jeff Bender, a spokesman for the Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, said in a written response to questions. "I can assure you that the matter will be thoroughly investigated."

The photos were turned over to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which instructed the SEAL command to determine whether they show any serious crimes, Bender said Friday. That investigation will determine the identities of the troops and what they were doing in the photos.

Some of the photos recall aspects of the images from Abu Ghraib, which led to charges against seven soldiers accused of humiliating and assaulting prisoners. In several of the photos obtained by the AP, grinning men wearing U.S. flags on their uniforms, and one with a tattoo of a SEAL trident, take turns sitting or lying atop what appear to be three hooded and handcuffed men in the bed of a pickup truck.

A reporter found the photos, which since have since been removed from public view, while researching the prosecution of a group of SEALs who allegedly beat prisoners and photographed one of them in degrading positions. Those photos, taken with a SEAL's personal camera, haven't been publicly released.

Though they have alarmed SEAL commanders, the photographs found by the AP do not necessarily show anything illegal, according to experts in the laws of war who reviewed photos at AP's request.

Gary Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor and judge who teaches at the United States Military Academy, said the images showed "stupid" and "juvenile" behavior - but not necessarily a crime.

John Hutson, a retired rear admiral who served as the Navy's Judge Advocate General from 1997 to 2000, said they suggested possible Geneva Convention violations. Those international laws prohibit souvenir photos of prisoners of war.

"It's pretty obvious that these pictures were taken largely as war trophies," Hutson said. "Once you start allowing that kind of behavior, the next step is to start posing the POWs in order to get even better pictures."

At a minimum, the pictures violate Navy regulations that prohibit photographing prisoners other than for intelligence or administrative purposes, according to Bender, the SEALs spokesman.

All Naval Special Warfare personnel were told that prior to deployment, he said, but "it is obvious from some of the photographs that this policy was not adhered to."

A photo found posted on a commercial photo-sharing Web site operated by a woman who said her husband brought the photos from Iraq after his tour of duty apparently shows a U.S. military member posing with hooded prisoners in a photo date stamped May 2003. The Navy SEALs have launched a criminal investigation into photographs that appear to show commandos sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees, and photos of what appear to be bloodied prisoners. (AP Photo)

The images were posted to the Internet site The woman who posted them told the AP they were on the camera her husband brought back from Iraq. She said her husband has returned to Iraq. He does not appear in photos with prisoners.

The Navy goes to great lengths to protect the identities and whereabouts of its 2,400 SEALs - which stands for Navy Sea, Air, Land - many of whom have classified counterterrorist missions around the globe.

"Some of these photos clearly depict faces and names of Naval Special Warfare personnel, which could put them or their families at risk," Bender said.

Out of safety concerns, the AP is not identifying the woman who posted the photos.

<> The wife said she was upset that a reporter was able to view the album, which includes family snapshots. Hundreds of other photos depict everyday military life in Iraq, some showing commandos standing around piles of weapons and waving wads of cash.

The images were found through the online search engine Google. The same search today leads to the Web page, which now prompts the user for a password. Nine scenes from the SEAL camp remain in Google's archived version of the page.

"I think it's fair to assume that it would be very hard for most consumers to know all the ways the search engines can discover Web pages," said Smugmug spokesman Chris MacAskill.

Before the site was password protected, the AP purchased reprints for 29 cents each.

Some men in the photos wear patches that identify them as members of Seal Team Five, based in Coronado, and the unit's V-shaped insignia decorates a July Fourth celebration cake.

The photos surfaced amid a case of prisoner abuse involving members of another SEAL team also stationed at Coronado, a city near San Diego.

Navy prosecutors have charged several members of SEAL Team Seven with abusing a suspect in the bombing a Red Cross facility. According to charge sheets and testimony during a military hearing last month, SEALs posed in the back of a Humvee for photos that allegedly humiliated Manadel al-Jamadi, who died hours later at Abu Ghraib.

Testimony from that case suggest personal cameras became increasingly common on some SEAL missions last year.

Dec 3, 5:32 PM (ET) By SETH HETTENA
© 2002-2004 My Way

The Battle of Ideas Over Iraq"

"Resistance or Retrogression?
The Battle of Ideas Over Iraq"

Peter Hudis, News & Letters

The U.S. occupation of Iraq has turned into a quagmire of nightmarish proportions, with many now calling it the most serious setback for U.S. foreign policy since the Vietnam War. This is seen in everything from the way western Iraq has come under the control of Taliban-like fundamentalists to the fact that jihadists from neighboring lands are flocking to Iraq to take advantage of hatred of the U.S. occupation and to further their effort to create a reactionary "Islamic state" upon its ruins. Clearly, the U.S. occupation of Iraq — which would have continued even if Kerry won the presidential election — created fertile ground for reactionary and terrorist forces to take root and flourish.

At the same time, many left-wing critics of the war have fallen into an ideological quagmire by failing to acknowledge the reactionary character of much of the Iraqi "armed resistance." Some are even speaking out in its defense. The most egregious examples are recent comments by Naomi Klein and Arundhati Roy, long considered leading spokespersons of the movement against global capital.

Tailending Fundamentalism

At the time of the protests at the Republican National Convention in New York last August, Klein wrote in an article "Bring Najaf to New York": "Muqtada al-Sadr and his followers are not just another group of generic terrorists out to kill Americans; their opposition to the occupation represents the overwhelmingly mainstream sentiment in Iraq."(1)

The statement is patently false. Al-Sadr's militia has fought U.S. troops in the name of a reactionary, fundamentalist agenda that opposes women’s rights, gay liberation, and workers’ self-emancipation.

In April, when al-Sadr ordered workers in aluminum and sanitary supply plants in Nasariyeh to hand over their factories for use as bastions to fight the U.S. military, the workers refused, stating: "We completely reject the turning of workers and civilians’ work and living places into reactionary war-fronts between the two poles of terrorism in Iraq: the U.S. and their allies from one side, and the terrorists in the armed militias, known for their enmity to Iraqi people’s interests, on the other."(2)

Klein and others fail to distinguish between the fundamentalist agenda of the Shi’ite and Sunni militias and the views of many independent Iraqis. As Frank Smyth, a freelance journalist who has covered Iraq, wrote, "Neither the resistance groups cheered by many on the American Left nor the governing parties championed by the American Right seem to reflect the views and aspirations of most Iraqi people, who seem to be hoping for the rise of groups independent of both Saddam’s regime and the increasingly dictatorial Allawi government."(3)

Arundhati Roy has also fallen into the trap of failing to distinguish between reactionary and progressive opponents of U.S. policies. She recently wrote in her "Public Power in the Age of Empire": "The Iraqi resistance is fighting on the frontlines of the battle against Empire. And therefore that battle is our battle...Terrorism. Armed struggle. Insurgency. Call it what you want. Terrorism is vicious, ugly, and dehumanizing for its perpetrators as well as its victims. But so is war. Terrorists...are people who don’t believe that the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence." (4)

Nowhere does Roy mention that these "terrorists" whose "battle is our battle" oppose women’s rights, democracy and self-determination for national minorities. Nowhere does she mention that they want to create a totalitarian religious-based state that makes the reformists she rightly scorns, like Kerry in the U.S. or Lula in Brazil, look like angels by comparison. And nowhere does she mention the genuine liberatory forces inside Iraq, like the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions (FWCUI) or the Organization for Women’s Freedom (OWFI) — both of which have come under increasingly sharp attack by both the U.S. occupiers and right-wing Islamists.(5)

How can such a vocal supporter of women’s rights express virtually uncritical support for reactionary forces in Iraq? She writes of the Iraqi resistance: "Like most resistance movements, it combines a motley range of assorted factions. Former Baathists, liberals, Islamists, fed up collaborationists, communists, etc. Of course, it is riddled with opportunism, local rivalry, demagoguery and criminality. But if we are only going to support pristine movements, then no resistance will be worthy of our purity."

Liberation movements are never "pristine." But that hardly defines al-Sadr, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (the Jordanian-born terrorist behind many attacks on U.S. forces) or Lashkar-e-Taybe — the Pakistani Sunni group that in the past few months has sent hundreds of "holy warriors" to Iraq. Their problem isn’t (as Roy says) that they suffer from "the iconization of leaders, a lack of transparency, a lack of vision and direction." They know their "direction" only too well — they want to destroy anything that comes in the way of a totalitarian control of society by religious extremism. Which is why they target not just U.S. soldiers but also Iraqi civilians, feminists, and anyone else who happens to oppose their reactionary agenda.

In this respect the fundamentalist militias fighting the U.S. in Iraq closely resemble the Christian Right in the U.S., which wants to roll the clock back on everything from women’s rights to freedom of expression. One of the supreme ironies of our times is that many leftists who are worried to death about the power of the Christian Right in the U.S. are making excuses for forces in the Islamic world which share its basic agenda!

All Roads Lead Back to Bosnia

Moreover, some of the same people now making apologies for Islamic fundamentalists, on the grounds that "liberation" movements are never "pristine," refused to solidarize with the Bosnians and Kosovars in the 1990s against the genocidal policies of Serbia’s Milosevic on the grounds that they were "nationalists" and "not truly revolutionary." Where was the argument that liberation movements are never "pristine" when it was time to defend the Bosnians and Kosovars (or the Rwandans for that matter) from genocide?

It isn’t that Klein and Roy are uninformed observers. They are surely capable of understanding the reactionary nature of the Iraqi militias. So why are they and so many others falling into such an ideological quagmire? The answer is that they have one standard for judging those who openly oppose the U.S. and another for those who do not. Overwhelmed and frustrated at the failure thus far of mass protests to halt the U.S. drive for world domination, they ally themselves with ANY force, no matter how reactionary, so long as it opposes the U.S.

That such a standpoint is taken by figures who are revered by many in the movement against global capital points to a serious barrier WITHIN the struggle. The collapse of the state-capitalist regimes that called themselves "Communist" between 1989 and 1991 disoriented many radicals, but history didn’t come to an end. New freedom struggles emerged, even if they did not speak in the language of revolution. Of foremost importance in this regard were the national liberation struggles in Bosnia and Kosova in the 1990s. Tragically many anti-Stalinist leftists — from Noam Chomsky to Howard Zinn — failed to support them. The crisis in the Balkans was hardly noticed by the Western Left until the U.S. belatedly intervened in Kosova in 1998.

It may have seemed that the Seattle protests of 1999 put such contradictions to rest. A large, multidimensional movement emerged that challenged the idea that "there is no alternative" to capitalism. But the failure of many in the movement against global capital to recognize what happened in Bosnia and Kosova came at a great price. It left a festering contradiction that has not gone away, but resurfaces every time a new political crisis emerges — be it September 11 or the occupation of Iraq. By not taking issue with the view that movements are to be judged solely by whether they oppose the U.S., irrespective of their actual political or liberatory content, many have left themselves open for the ideological quagmire that now defines the positions of Klein and Roy.

What Next?

In the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election, we can expect such ideological pollution to get worse. The reason is the sense of desperation that afflicts many U.S. radicals. Desperation over how many crimes Bush has been able to get away with. Desperation over the failure of the Democrats to project a principled opposition to U.S. foreign policy. Desperation over the fact that even when mass protests do emerge (be it a Million Man March or worldwide anti-war protests), capitalism still manages to maintain the ideological initiative with its claim "there is no alternative."

The politics of desperation leads to the politics of tailendism. It was bad enough in the days when that meant tailending repressive state powers that claimed to be "socialist," like Russia or China. It is far worse today when it means tailending Islamic fundamentalists and former Baathists in Iraq who have nothing to offer in the way of an alternative to capitalism.

The politics of desperation that leads many on the Left to ally with any force that opposes the U.S. cannot even put a dent in capitalism’s ideological hegemony, because it skips over the work of articulating a positive alternative. It only hands the Right the moral high ground by presenting "anti-imperialism" as lacking any positive, affirmative human dimension.

All that is left is mere empty negation, what G.W.F. Hegel called in his Phenomenology of Spirit "a pure negation entirely devoid of mediation, the negation, moreover, of the individual as a factor existing within the universal. The sole and only work and deed therefore death — a death that achieves nothing, embraces nothing within its grasp; for what is negated is the unachieved, unfulfilled punctual entity of the absolutely free self."(6)

Hegel’s words not only anticipate the "empty negativism" of a bin Laden or al-Zarqawi who "oppose" the U.S. without the slightest alternative in view — unless by an "alternative" one means the imposition of an authoritarian religious state aimed at opposing individual freedom and collective self-development. Hegel’s critique of standpoints that "produce neither a positive achievement nor a deed; there is left for it only negative action" is just as applicable to today’s left-wing critics who are willing to ally with any force that tries to bring down the U.S. "Empire." The only thing that will result from this is a further discrediting of the Left and a strengthening of the power of the Right.

Those opposed to the kind of viewpoints articulated by Klein and Roy need to realize that a merely POLITICAL response to such ideological retrogression is insufficient. That is because the problem facing us is not only political, but most of all PHILOSOPHIC — specifically, a lack of a philosophically grounded concept of an alternative to capitalism. Those who want to see Iraq — and the world — free of the forces of U.S. imperialism and religious fundamentalism need to get down to the hard work of articulating a comprehensive, detailed and positive alternative to this alienated, dehumanizing world. If we fail to do so, we will cede the ideological ground to the Kleins and Roys just as they, unwittingly, are conceding it to the Right.


  1. "Bring Najaf to New York," by Naomi Klein, The Nation, August 13, 2004.
  2. This is discussed in "World Crisis and the search for alternatives to capitalism," News & Letters, July 2004, p. 5. The Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI) should not be confused with the Federation of Iraqi Trade Unions (IFTU), which has compromised itself by critically supporting the Allawi government.
  3. See "Who are the Progressives in Iraq? The Left, the Right, and the Islamists," by Frank Smyth.
  4. "Public Power in the Age of Empire," by Arundhati Roy, The Hindu, August 2004.
  5. For more on the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq, see "Eyewitness view of women in Iraq," by Yanar Mohammed, News & Letters,August-September 2004.
  6. Phenomenology of Spirit, by G.W. F. Hegel, translated by J.B. Baillie (London: Allen & Unwin, 1931), p. 605.

[This essay originally appears in News & Letters, November, 2004.]

Jail the War Party For treason

Jail the War Party For treason

by Justin Raimondo

It was very obviously a well-planned operation, executed with military precision: the FBI moved in on a nondescript office building near the Capitol, Wednesday morning, arriving at 10, and staying until past 4 p.m. According to one source, "this was a massive raid – the FBI surrounded" the place and carted away a load of evidence. "This is no joke," the source told journalist Laura Rozen.

Another raid on an Islamic charity with alleged ties to terrorists? A drug bust? A hit on a child porn ring? No, none of the above: instead, the G-men's target was the Washington headquarters of what Fortune magazine has rated the second most powerful lobbying outfit in the nation's capital: the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

This will make the second time this year that the feds have come knocking on AIPAC's door: the first was in late summer, when the Larry Franklin case first surfaced and was trumpeted on major news media outlets, including CBS. Franklin, a mid-level Pentagon official, had been caught red-handed supplying Israeli government officials with classified information via two AIPAC officials, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman. As the story began to come out, it became apparent that Franklin was just a small fish in a much larger aquarium, and had been scooped up in this web of intrigue almost by accident. As Laura Rozen and Jason Vest relate in The American Prospect:

"In late July, as this debate raged, a Pentagon analyst named Larry Franklin telephoned an acquaintance who worked at a pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)."

Franklin, who works in the policy shop run by the neocons' man on the ground, Douglas Feith, told his AIPAC friend that he was worried about U.S. government inaction in the face of alleged attempts by Iran to penetrate southern Iraq and counter growing Israeli influence in Kurdistan. A meeting was arranged. A few weeks later, as Rosen and Vest report, FBI agents showed up at the door of Franklin's friend, asking about the Iran analyst in what seemed like a routine background check.

In truth, the agents were interested in far more than Franklin: the FBI's counterintelligence unit had been eavesdropping on AIPAC for over two years, in what appears to be a wide-ranging and rapidly developing investigation into Israeli penetration of U.S. government agencies. Franklin had been swept up in a massive and ongoing counterintelligence operation aimed at a cabal of high-level Israeli moles.

The Franklin affair was leaked to the media, and the FBI, which had been hoping to catch bigger fish than a mid-level analyst, was forced into action: they raided AIPAC's headquarters, copied computer disks belonging to Rosen and Weissman, and conducted interviews with a number of employees. Rosen and Weissman soon stopped answering questions, however, and demanded legal counsel.

The story gathered headlines for a few days, and then disappeared off the radar screen as quickly and mysteriously as it had appeared – until now. In this latest raid, the feds not only carried away bales of evidence, but they also came bearing gifts: four subpoenas summoning AIPAC's executive director, Howard Kohr, managing director Richard Fishman, research director Raphael Danziger, and Renee Rothstein, the group's communications director, to testify before a grand jury. The investigation, formerly conducted by FBI counterintelligence czar David W. Szady, was transferred to the jurisdiction of U.S. attorney Paul J. McNulty, in Alexandria, Virginia: the Financial Times reported, just before the presidential election, that agents were being told to turn down the heat. But the heat is on again, and there is every prospect that it will get much hotter for AIPAC and Israel's amen corner in the U.S. even as the winter cold sets in.

The simple reason for a sudden change in the weather is that, as one official put it, "This is no joke." What is involved here is nothing less than treason – a spy ring far more sophisticated and dangerous to U.S. national security than the infamous Jonathan Pollard espionage operation conducted by Israel in the 1980s. The AIPAC spy scandal goes way beyond Franklin, as the Washington Postreported back in the beginning of September:

"The FBI probe is actually much broader, according to senior U.S. officials, and has been underway for at least two years. Several sources familiar with the case say the probe now extends to other Pentagon personnel who have a particular interest in assisting both Israel and Chalabi, the former Iraqi dissident who was long a Pentagon favorite but who has fallen out of favor with the U.S. government."

Post reporters Robin Wright and Thomas E. Ricks identified "at least two common threads" in this complex and multi-pronged investigation:

"First, the FBI is investigating whether the same people passed highly classified information to two disparate allies – [Ahmed] Chalabi and a pro-Israel lobbying group. Second, at least some of the intelligence in both instances included sensitive information about Iran. The broader investigation is also looking into the movement of classified materials on U.S. intentions in Iraq and on the Arab-Israeli peace process, sources added."

The Chalabi aspect of the probe surfaced after a visit by Iraqi government officials to the Baghdad headquarters of the Iraqi National Congress. Wright and Ricks report that classified U.S. intelligence material was discovered in the May raid, a widely-publicized incident that marked the meteoric decline of Chalabi, once the darling of the U.S. occupiers, and his descent into disgrace. Long in thrall to the Iranian government, Chalabi had somehow obtained access to the most closely-held secrets regarding U.S. intelligence sources and methods, revealing to Tehran that the U.S was monitoring the Iranians' internal communications.

On November 20, Washington hit out again at the neocons' Iraqi poster boy, raiding four INC offices, utilizing the good offices of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior and some "American contractors." Now they're bitch-slapping the AIPAC crowd with subpoenas, grilling them in front of a grand jury convened to hear evidence of Israel's American fifth column in Washington. The timing of these two raids is, as they say, no coincidence.

Wright and Ricks point out two threads of this investigation, and draw out the implications with what limited information they have been able to discern from a very close-mouthed U.S. attorney and a few anonymous insiders. These two trails – the Iranian spy angle, and the AIPAC aspect – lead to the same group of individuals, but there are plenty of sub-trails and footpaths to follow, all of which point to the very same crowd – a powerful faction in this administration, one credited – if that is the word – with steering us into war with Iraq and trying mightily to navigate us into a conflict with Iran: the neoconservatives.

Centered mainly in the upper reaches of the Pentagon's civilian leadership, and in the Office of the Vice President, the recent history of this group is defined by its fervor for a new war in the Middle East. The conquest and occupation of Iraq, and the "liberation" of the region (excepting Israel, of course) has long been the announced aim of such worthies as Paul Wolfowitz, RichardPerle, and Douglas Feith. They filled the middle reaches of the national security bureaucracy with their underlings and ideologues – like Franklin – who were strategically placed to doctor the intelligence and stovepipe lies in two directions: to the general public, and to the White House (as well as funnel U.S. secrets to Israel).

The "Office of Special Plans" (OSP) – created by Wolfowitz's command and presided over by Feith – was the locus of lies when it came to rationalizing the invasion of Iraq. Not trusting the CIA or any of the other intelligence-gathering agencies to come up with the required "proof" of nonexistent Iraqi WMD and "links" to Osama bin Laden, the War Party did an end run around the U.S. intelligence community and built up their own parallel agency, one capable of churning out the "right" answers. The INC, on the take for millions, fed them a steady diet of fables, forgeries, and the tall tales of phony "defectors." Julian Borger of the Guardian, Robert Dreyfuss (writing in the Nation), and Karen Kwiatkowski, a former Pentagon analyst who worked alongside many of these people, including Franklin, have all pointed to direct Israeli involvement with the OSP.

Franklin was caught trying to hand over a copy of a draft presidential directive on Iran to Israeli agents, but the other threads of this investigation involve the decision to go to war in Iraq. November was the worst month yet in terms of the U.S. casualty rate, and as the ugliness of this war takes on new and more grotesque dimensions, the question of who lied us into war is increasingly on the minds of Americans.

The wives and mothers of the dead and horribly wounded lift up their eyes to heaven and raise their voices in a plaintive cry:

Who did this to us?

Who gained from this war – aside from Osama bin Laden, that is? It's a valid enough question to ask in trying to determine how policy was formed, and how we came to fall into the Iraqi quagmire. But it's less than half the story: and that's the significance of the AIPAC spy scandal.

For the first time, we have solid evidence that the Israeli government has actively sought, with some success, to penetrate the policymaking apparatus that steers the U.S. ship of state. The neocons have often been accused – including in this space – of hijacking American policy in the Middle East and utilizing U.S. military power to Israel's advantage. Now we are beginning to get the full picture of exactly how – with the full knowledge and active collaboration of the Israeli government – this was done.

The implications of the AIPAC affair are enormous. For instance: we are told that Condoleezza Rice, our putative Secretary of State, was briefed on this investigation when the Bush II crowd first came to Washington, along with her aide, Stephen Hadley – now slated to take her place as the president's national security chief. While Hadley's position doesn't require confirmation, Condi will face the Senate, and we wonder if there isn't just one senator who will ask her how this knowledge colored her handling of intelligence matters when it came to "evidence" of Iraqi WMD. How did so much get by her – and what did she know about the sources of alleged "intelligence" that was being fed to the White House by various interested parties?

We know what she knew, although the exact contours of that knowledge have yet to be fully revealed, and we know when she knew it. What inquiring minds want to know is why she didn't act on her knowledge, and take measures to counteract the covert cabal whose tentacles had slithered into the White House.

There are all sorts of other angles to this tale of spy vs. spy, and I don't have space to cover them all in one column. In any event, the AIPAC affair – in the course of its slow but steady development from a dark suspicion to a grand jury investigation and finally to a full-blown court case and cause célèbre – is going to reveal some hard truths about the recent course of our disastrous foreign policy, and may even motivate some radical changes, in the long term. In the short term, however, it's going to be an awful lot of fun watching the cockroaches scramble for cover, skittering across the floor in a frantic effort to avoid being squished.

The jailing of the War Party – they said it couldn't be done. I can't tell you how many wacked-out letters I've gotten telling me that "they" will never let this happen, that the investigation into the AIPAC spy nest – and the Plame affair, the Niger uranium forgeries, etc., etc. – would sink like so many stones, never to be seen or heard of again. To them I say: you're wrong. There is no all-powerful conspiracy that controls the U.S. government and has the power to bury this treason forever. There are patriots, yet, in our midst – yes, even in the government! – who will not stand idly by as traitors run rampant in the corridors of power.

And they have just begun to fight….


The sinister history of Israel's secret war against America didn't start with the Franklin Affair, or AIPAC passing off classified materials to Israeli government agents: it reaches all the way back to the origins of our seemingly endless "war on terrorism." My short book, The Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection, chronicles the story behind the "official" narrative of the worst terrorist attack in American history – and exposes the dark secret at the core of the U.S.-Israeli "alliance." The Terror Enigma will help you understand how and why Israel launched a major covert operation on American soil – and change the way you think about 9/11. Buy it today.

–Justin Raimondo