Torture no longer alleged, PROVED


Documents reveal systematic torture by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan

By Joseph Kay and Rick Kelly
24 December 2004

Official documents made public this week by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [shown earlier this week on this blog site] demonstrate that the US military has engaged in the widespread and systematic torture of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. The material indicates that high-ranking administration officials not only approved of the abuse, but have carried out a systematic cover-up of these activities. The new revelations represent a damning indictment of the Bush administration, and make clear that it is guilty of war crimes.

Much of the material in question was posted by the ACLU on its website on December 20 and 21. They were obtained only after a protracted legal battle. The Bush administration repeatedly stonewalled on a number of Freedom of Information Act requests made from October 2003. A federal court judge ordered the government to release the documents in September 2004.

One email from a Federal Bureau of Investigations official (whose name was suppressed) referred to a presidential Executive Order (EO) authorizing certain measures of torture against Iraqi prisoners. Among the techniques that the author indicates were authorized by the order were “sleep ‘management’, use of MWD (military working dogs), ‘stress positions’ such as half squats, ‘environmental manipulation’ such as the use of loud music, sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc.”

An Executive Order is a presidential edict, which need not always be publicly disclosed, that institutes additional or complementary legal instructions. If there was an EO signed by Bush authorizing such interrogation techniques, it would represent a direct connection between the president and the abuse of prisoners in Iraq.

The White House has denied the existence of any such EO. Whether such an order was ever issued or not, the documents released by the ACLU demonstrate that those involved in the abuse and murder of Iraqis had no doubt that their work was authorized at the highest levels, and understood that they could act with impunity.

One heavily redacted (censored) document is from a Federal Bureau of Investigations official in Iraq to the FBI Director, dated June 25, 2004. It is a report of information provided by an unidentified individual “who observed serious physical abuses of civilian detainees in [redacted] Iraq during the period of [redacted]...He described that such abuses included strangulation, beating, placement of lit cigarettes into the detainees ear openings, and unauthorized interrogations.”

The report states that the individual “was providing this information to the FBI based on his knowledge that [redacted] were engaged in a cover-up of these abuses. He stated these cover-up efforts included [redacted].”

Files from the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID), described a number of other incidents in which the Army apparently sought to cover-up the killing of Iraqi detainees. An ACLU press release stated, “One of the most troubling files relates to the suspected murder of a detainee held in Tikrit [Iraq]. On August 8, 2003, American forces arrested Obed Hethere Radad during a raid. According to the documents, on September 11, 2003 an army specialist shot and killed Radad without any advance warning.” While the CID found that there was probable cause to try the soldier for murder, the Army officers in charge scuttled this process by quickly demoting the soldier and discharging him.

Other emails described cases of mock executions, the deliberate burning of a detainee’s hands, the use of death threats during interrogations, and the shocking of a detainee with an electric transformer. An email from July 28, 2004 noted that an FBI investigation was taking pace into the alleged rape of a young male prisoner in Abu Ghraib. US dog-handlers in the facility competed among themselves to see who could scare detainees into urinating on themselves the fastest.

All of these methods are direct violations of the Geneva Conventions. Anyone determined to have engaged in them or ordered them is guilty of war crimes.

There were also more revelations on US torture of detainees in Guantanamo Bay. Another email from an FBI official, sent in December 2003, described an incident in which Army interrogators used “torture techniques” while pretending to be federal agents. “If this detainee is ever released or his story made public in any way, DOD [Department of Defense] interrogators will not be held accountable because these torture techniques were done [sic] the ‘FBI’ interrogators.”

A January 21, 2004 email stated that “this technique [of impersonating FBI agents] and all those used in these scenarios [that is, the ‘torture techniques’ referred to in the other email], was approved by the Dep Sec Def,” referring to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. A Pentagon spokesman denied that Wolfowitz approved any techniques.

An undated memo from an FBI employee reports that members of the agency had observed the use of “loud music/bright lights/growling dogs” during interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. If true, this would directly contradict previous statements by Major General Geoffrey Miller, who was head of Guantanamo Bay from October 2002 to March 2004, before he was sent to Iraq. Miller said that “we never used the dogs for interrogations while I was in command” at Guantanamo Bay.

An FBI agent reported on May 10, 2004 that in a conversation with Miller, the general defended the Army’s use of certain techniques not allowed by the FBI. The military “has their marching orders from the Sec Def,” he declared, referring to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.

One FBI official recounted in an August 2, 2004 email: “On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more... On another occasion, the A/C had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room probably well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night.”

Another email dated July 20, 2004 described how a detainee was wrapped in an Israeli flag and subject to loud music and flashing strobe lights.

The mountain of material obtained by the ACLU is expected to number in the hundreds of thousands of pages. This week, the organization won a decision in a federal court seeking to force the CIA to turn over documents relating to detainee abuse. The CIA had previously refused to release any information, citing an ongoing internal investigation.

War Crimes

In response to the revelations, the Washington Post published an extraordinary editorial on December 23, under the heading “War Crimes.”

In a major indictment of the Bush administration, it noted: “Since the publication of photographs of abuse at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in the spring the administration’s whitewashers—led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld—have contended that the crimes were carried out by a few low-ranking reservists, that they were limited to the night shift during a few chaotic months at Abu Ghraib in 2003, that they were unrelated to the interrogation of prisoners and that no torture occurred at the Guantanamo Bay prison where hundreds of terrorism suspects are held. The new documents establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false.”

The Post went on to declare that the government will do nothing to address the issue: “The record of the past few months suggests that the administration will neither hold any senior official accountable nor change the policies that have produced this shameful record. Congress, too, has abdicated its responsibility under its Republican leadership: It has been nearly four months since the last hearing on prisoner abuse. Perhaps intervention by the courts will eventually stem the violations of human rights that appear to be going on... For now the appalling truth is that there has been no remedy for the documented torture and killing of foreign prisoners by this American government.”

This is an extraordinary statement. A major voice of the political establishment is directly accusing the White House of sanctioning, if not directly ordering, heinous criminal acts. Not only that: the Post declares that there exists no viable avenue to put a stop to government-sanctioned crimes, let alone bring the criminals to justice. In other words, we have reached the point of a complete breakdown of rule by law and constitutional democracy in the United States.

Having arrived at this conclusion, the Post somehow manages to maintain the pretense that the torture and killings carried out by the government can be separated from the war in Iraq as a whole.

The abuse and killings committed by US forces were not the result of individual transgressions, but rather flowed from the very nature of the war. The entire political establishment and media—including the Post itself—supported the launching of a war which was in violation of international law and from which all subsequent crimes have inevitably followed.

See Also:
David Hicks details abuse in Guantánamo Bay
[18 December 2004]
Official documents vindicate Red Cross report on US torture
[14 December 2004]
International Red Cross charges systematic abuse
Bush’s “Torture Inc.” at Guantanamo

[2 December 2004]

Legal Momentum Gathers in Chile Against Pinochet

Supreme Court Appears Ready to Decide Whether to Allow Trial on Murder and Kidnapping Charges

SANTIAGO, Chile -- In the long struggle to seek justice for victims of human rights abuses committed during 17 years of military rule in Chile, former dictator Augusto Pinochet has repeatedly escaped efforts to prosecute him and bring him to trial. With Pinochet now under house arrest, the country's Supreme Court is said to be ready to announce Monday whether the ailing ex-general will finally be brought to court.

Last Monday, the Santiago Court of Appeals cleared the way for Pinochet, 89, to face trial on murder and kidnapping charges, but the final decision rests with the high court. After the 1973 military coup that brought him to power, an estimated 3,200 Chileans were detained in a campaign to root out Marxist groups and other political opponents. They were either killed or never seen again.

Relatives of the victims celebrated the decision.

"We're ecstatic," said Viviana Diaz, secretary general of the Association of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared. Diaz, who was 25 when her father disappeared in 1976, has devoted more than half of her life to searching for his remains -- and to seeking justice for those responsible.

"Personally, I always believed Pinochet would be tried," she said, stroking the faded photograph of a young, long-haired man pinned to her blouse. "Many times when I said this, people laughed at me. Even judges said, 'Who are you?' We were a helpless cry in the desert." But now that Pinochet is facing specific charges of multiple assassinations, she said, "we have more hope than ever."

The legal momentum that has gathered against Pinochet, coupled with dramatic revelations about past abuses, has also reopened political divisions in Chile, where Pinochet remains revered in some sectors of society for freeing the country of leftist influence. The coup he led overthrew the elected socialist government of President Salvador Allende, who died that day.

Pinochet's supporters and attorneys have termed the legal process a political witch hunt, saying it is inhumane to try a man his age. One of his attorneys, Pablo Rodriguez, last week decried the current court case as "a persecution that aims to injure and denigrate General Pinochet in the eyes of the public."

Ruth Garcia was among the handful of Pinochet supporters who gathered at the courthouse this week, chanting and waving flags.

"This is an injustice for my general," Garcia said. "My general gave his life for this country. He saved us from civil war. And if there were abuses in the process, then we are all guilty, because we were all banging on his door, asking him to save us."

Various court cases have been brought against Pinochet, beginning in the 1990s. In 1998 he was held under house arrest in London and then returned to Chile in 2000 to face charges. But he has avoided prosecution repeatedly by claiming poor physical or mental health, and no case has resulted in a trial or conviction.

The current case, in which Pinochet has been charged with orchestrating several assassinations of opponents overseas, began gaining ground last May, when the Santiago Court of Appeals stripped him of immunity from prosecution. In August, the Supreme Court unexpectedly upheld that ruling, and he underwent psychological and neurological exams. Judge Juan Guzman formally charged him Dec. 13.

Pinochet's health remains an unpredictable factor. He was excused from trial in 2001 by the Supreme Court after tests showed he suffered from mild dementia. Four of the five judges who must decide on his case now were on the panel that excused him then.

Medical exams in October showed that Pinochet's mental health had deteriorated, and last weekend he was sent to hospital after suffering a stroke. Eduardo Contreras, the prosecuting attorney, insisted Pinochet was still competent to stand trial, but some human rights groups say prosecuting him now might be a mistake.

"If Pinochet's real mental state is such that he cannot really mount a defense, he can't recognize the incidents he's been accused of . . . then to try a person in that state is a travesty of what justice is all about," said Sebastian Brett, a researcher for Human Rights Watch here. "So if you've been pushing for these trials . . . and you end up with a travesty of justice, then you end up with sort of a Pyrrhic victory."

Today, few figures in Latin America evoke as much outrage and adulation as Pinochet. He was initially supported by many middle-class and affluent Chileans opposed to Allende's rule, and he gained new support in the 1980s after the country experienced an economic revival. He narrowly lost a referendum in 1988 and handed over power two years later.

But Pinochet's popularity waned over the course of his rule, and it has continued to plunge as new revelations about abuses have emerged.

Until recently, Pinochet had been seen as legally untouchable. But in recent months, several high-profile human rights cases and a financial scandal involving secret bank accounts he held in Washington have appeared to turn the tide of public, and possibly legal, opinion.

"There has been a sort of domino effect, with a cascade of legal actions starting with Pinochet's loss of immunity back in May," said Sergio Laurenti, director of the Amnesty International office in Chile. "The appeals court's decision this week was an extraordinary victory."

In a country that once denied its bloody past, there has been a new drive to confront it. Last month, Gen. Emilio Cheyre, the army commander, took institutional responsibility for abuses committed during the dictatorship, and the Supreme Court struck down Pinochet's 1978 amnesty law for 1,200 disappearance cases, opening the door to a deluge of new charges.

At the same time, a major government report was released with graphic details of 35,000 torture cases under military rule. The government, headed by Ricardo Lagos, responded with lifetime pensions for torture survivors.

Three weeks ago, Pinochet suffered another legal defeat in a separate case, having his immunity stripped by the courts for a second time this year. As a result, he may soon be formally charged for ordering the 1974 murder of Gen. Carlos Prats, a former Chilean army chief, and his wife in Buenos Aires.

Finally, Pinochet is facing yet another Chilean judicial inquiry, as well as a tax evasion investigation, to determine if his secret accounts with Riggs National Bank, which came to light in July, contain any stolen government funds.

All of this points to a government -- and a legal system -- ready to take on what has become a thorn in their side, said Errol Mendes, a Brazilian international law professor.

"There has been a very cautious approach by a democratic government to try and downsize his influence until now, when both the government and the judiciary feel they can launch full-scale attacks," Mendes said. "Pinochet is now becoming synonymous with not only universal jurisdiction against human rights abuses, but universal jurisdiction against bribery and corruption. It's not a legacy that he would want to be known for."

By Jen Ross Special to the Washington Post Saturday, December 25, 2004; Page A16
© 2004 The Washington Post Company

war the only casualty

“You give me the [bullshit] and I'll provide the war”

New York Times Betrays America, Again

Sam Hamod

Showing that they are no longer a newspaper to be trusted, following the bombing in Mosul, the Times went berserk in order to wave the flag of false patriotism, pushing to get more American troops killed in Iraq.

The NY Times, already involved in getting America into the war in Iraq through such columnists as Judith Miller and Tom Friedman, again tried to pull America into its trap of lies. This time, by selecting people who would support more war, and the Bush lines, and the continued drive to totally conquer Iraq, they ran a front page story on why America must go on wiith this war and send in more troops.

Not once has the NY Times been honest about matters in this war. Also, why was the young black man fired for fudging a story when Judith Miller outright lied and got away with it? Why is she still often on the front page? Has the Times totally lost what little integrity it had left? I guess so. There is nothing for their honest writers to do but to either resign or go on strike against the editorial board that has gone made for war--ala Wm. Randoph Hearst and the Spanish American War.

I'll bet if they asked John F.Burns, who is in Iraq, he would not be as sanguine about going futher into war with Iraq. Mr. Burns has seen the truth about Iraq, outside the Green Zone at times, Mr. Burns knows there is no place safe in Iraq for an American and that if we send in more troops there will be more targets for the Iraqi resistance fighters who are defending their families, their homes, their religion and their country.

The bombing in Mosul should be enough to make it clear that Iraqis value their families, homes, religion and country more than the American dollar. America has now become so obsessed with money and power that they don't understnd that part of the world who does not love money as much as America's leaders.

Bush and friends think that all people worship the "Golden Calf" as much as they do--they have forgotten what Moses, Jesus and Mohammed said in their messages from God.

Again, I say, if the NY Times wants more troops and war in Iraq, then they should go to Iraq and fight--and their children with them; Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, all the same, along with Kristol, Perle, Abrams, Ross and the lot of neo-con chicken hawks. Not the people who work on farms, in small town fire departments, in big cities and produce for this country--what has Rumsfeld, Bush, Wolfowitz and the editors of the NY Times ever produced except lies and more lies--or other trash talk to lead our nation into debt, desolation, isolation and despair.

Fie upon the NY Times--it, like the Washington Post is nothing but another rag fit only for use in the bathroom.

Sam Hamod, editor of, former editor of 3rd World News, writes on national and international matters; he may be reached at

Detainees’ allegations ring true

FBI reports said to back claims of Guantánamo Bay detainees

By Carol D. Leonnig
The Washington Post

At least 10 current and former detainees at the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have lodged allegations of abuse similar to incidents described by FBI agents in newly released documents. The detainees' claims were denied by the government but gained credibility with the reports from the agents, their attorneys say.

In public statements after their release and in documents filed with federal courts, the detainees have said they were beaten before and during interrogations, "short-shackled" to the floor and otherwise mistreated as part of the effort to persuade them to confess to being members of al-Qaida or the Taliban.

Some of the detainees' attorneys acknowledged they initially were skeptical, mainly because there's been little evidence that captors at Guantánamo Bay engaged in the kind of abuse discovered at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. But the American Civil Liberties Union on Monday released FBI memos it obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in which agents describe seeing or learning of serious mistreatment of detainees.

"On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position on the floor, with no chair, food or water," an unidentified agent wrote Aug. 2, 2004, for example. "Most times they had urinated and defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18 to 24 hours or more."

Brent Mickum, a Washington, D.C., attorney for one detainee, said that "now there's no question these guys have been tortured. When we first got involved in this case, I wondered whether this could all be true. But every allegation that I've heard has now come to pass and been confirmed by the government's own papers."

A Pentagon spokesman has said the military is investigating torture claims. Pentagon officials and lawyers say the military has been careful not to abuse detainees and has complied with treaties on the handling of enemy prisoners "to the extent possible" in the middle of a war.

Detainees say military personnel beat and kicked them while they had hoods on their heads and tight shackles on their legs; left them in freezing temperatures and stifling heat; subjected them to repeated, prolonged rectal exams; and paraded them naked around the prison as military police snapped pictures.

More than 60 of the 550 men who are detained have filed claims. Some have been held for nearly three years.

© seattle times

The Devil”s Christmas

We celebrate the Prince of Peace in the shadow of war

by Justin Raimondo

I don't believe in God, but the Devil is another matter entirely. Proof of the Malevolent One's existence is all around us, and he's been pretty busy lately – filling the military hospitals with the wounded (30,000-plus so far), torturing and otherwise abusing helpless prisoners of war (the Devil never signed the Geneva conventions), and slowly but surely shrinking the parameters of freedom in this country by pretending to expand them abroad.

All the blood spilled on Iraqi soil is not enough to quench his devilish thirst, and old Lucifer is constantly seeking out new venues for his traveling horror show: Islamofascism, after all, is quite a weak reed on which to hang a new world war.

Osama bin Laden and his ragtag crew nowhere hold state power, and the battle against al-Qaeda requires tactics more akin to police work than to conventional military strategy and the business of moving great armies across the globe. As it dawns on Americans that the Iraq war has only empowered bin Laden, the paucity and relative invisibility of the enemy is a problem for the Luciferians, and they're trying to solve it by restarting the cold war.

The U.S. government-funded organization known as "Freedom House" has recently delivered a Christmas present to Russian President Vladimir Putin: his country has been downgraded, from "partially free" to "not free." Israel, of course, is deemed completely "free," in spite of treating its Arab subjects worse than Sparta ever treated its helots. Putin is no Jeffersonian democrat, but neither has he rounded up and imprisoned an entire people and sought to ethnically cleanse them from their homeland. Freedom House standards are elastic, bending to the dictates of American foreign policy.

In Tony Blair's England, an internal passport in the form of a national ID card has been instituted, you can be arrested for making politically incorrect remarks about officially protected minority groups, and spy cameras are on every corner, yet the Brits get off scot "free." Bollocks.

The Devil is fond of quoting Scripture, and we are inundated with calls for ending "tyranny" not only in Iraq, but also Russia and Ukraine. Yet any reference to the steady erosion of civil liberties in the sainted West is greeted with cries – Luciferian cries, to be sure – of "moral equivalence!" and accusations of "anti-Americanism."

The real anti-Americans are to be found in the front ranks of the War Party: it is they who lied us into a war that has served only to further the interests of a foreign country – namely, Israel. It is they who have repeatedly denied what is obvious to our own FBI and other law enforcement agencies: that Israel has been engaged in a long-term and very damaging spy operation in the U.S., one that involves the major pro-Israel lobbying group, and quite probably reaches into the upper echelons of the U.S. government.

Not only that, but Israel has lately been selling sensitive military technology to China. (Technology, one might add, that was either purchased – with our tax dollars – or stolen from the U.S.) Although, for some reason, we haven't been hearing much about that in the English-language media. The professional super-"patriots" and other "pro-American" neocons, who manage to get themselves worked up over accusations of "treason" – either real or imagined – and the alleged "betrayals" of our allies, have been strangely silent when it comes to Israel's apparent treachery.

Lying is a major Luciferian trait. Just as members of certain Buddhist sects aspire to pray constantly, so the neocons – uh, er, I mean, Luciferians – lie almost without interruption. Deception comes as naturally to them as breathing, and it has come to the point where they clearly don't care about the truth: only "truth" that serves their ideology is to be acknowledged.

A good example of this is the news coverage and commentary surrounding Viktor Yushchenko's performance – which rivals in mendacity anything the Office of Special Plans ever came up with during the run-up to the Iraq war. The Ukrainian election campaign, pitting the former chief central banker and Western favorite against pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich, has been marked by allegations of fraud engineered by the latter – and is the focus of a looming confrontation between Russia and the West.

Yet the biggest fraud of all may be Yushchenko's account of his alleged "poisoning," which he and his supporters attribute to a dinner with Gen. Ihor P. Smeshko, the head of the Ukrainian security services, held at a Ukrainian dacha. The more frenetic members of the new cold-warrior fraternity darkly imply that the Russian KGB was the real culprit.

But there have been numerous problems with the evil-commies-poisoned-Yushchenko narrative from the very beginning, which I have endeavored to point out – here and here – and after the diagnosis of dioxin poisoning was announced, I received a number of "now will you retract your pro-Russian, pro-Yanukovich position" letters, all of them smugly assuming that was the end of the story. But, as it turns out, it isn't the end. Indeed, it may be just the beginning. Because Yushchenko's story is falling apart, as the New York Times reports:

"The most popular theory – that Mr. Yushchenko was poisoned at the dacha – contains flaws, strong enough that even his own supporters raise questions about it. And as investigators seek deeper insight into the case, they say a chief obstacle has been Mr. Yushchenko himself, who has used the poisoning almost as a theme in his campaign, but has not fully cooperated with the authorities, even as the trail of his would-be assassin grows cold."

We learn from the Times that, in spite of numerous "news" stories detailing how an enormous dose of dioxin was put in Yushchenko's soup, soup wasn't on the menu at the dacha dinner that night. We also discover how uninterested Yushchenko seems to be in finding the real cause of his illness: "Yushchenko," writes the Times' C. J. Chivers, "busy with his campaign, has not been of much help." He has also been too "busy" to submit an official statement to the parliamentary commission investigating the charges; no medical evidence has been forthcoming from the Rudolfinerhaus clinic, either. In a meeting with the prosecutor in the case, Yushchenko pledged his cooperation – but not until after the election. In the meantime, the Yushchenko mythos – based on the image of the poisoned martyr to the cause of Ukrainian freedom and self-determination – acquires the aura of truth, if not the substance. Very clever, as Chivers implicitly notes, but perhaps too clever by half:

"Without his cooperation, the case has taken the form of theories, and for the news media the most popular has been the dinner at the dacha. But as details and a greater understanding emerge, that version remains open to question."

To Yushchenko's Western fan club, however, the official mythos is not open to question: to believe that Yushchenko was not poisoned by the KGB is to betray one's membership in "our own domestic axis of evil," as Tom G. Palmer, a senior scholar at the Cato Institute, put it. But Palmer, who also argues that the U.S. government could save money in conquering the world by "peacefully" effecting regime-change in places like Ukraine – thus rendering cruder methods, like outright invasion, unnecessary – lets his newfound neoconservative zeal blur his perception of the facts. As it turns out, Yushchenko became sick before the supposedly fateful dinner date with General Smeshko, and, to complicate matters further:
"A second, more intriguing, complication is that toxicologists say that after a person is contaminated with dioxins, it typically takes three days to two weeks before symptoms appear. Mr. Yushchenko was racked with pain hours after the dacha dinner, which understandably cast initial suspicion on the meal. But the theory was weakened this month when doctors in Vienna announced that the poison was dioxin; his would be the only known case of a dioxin acting thatfast.
"Dr. Arnold Schecter, a specialist in dioxin contamination at the University of Texas, and co-editor of 'Dioxins and Health,' a medical reference, said it was possible but highly unlikely that Mr. Yushchenko was poisoned on Sept. 5. 'It doesn't make sense, medically,' he said. 'I would go back 14 days before that.'"

It doesn't make medical or political sense: why would the Yanukovich camp conspire to make the poisoning seem so obviously their work? Except it isn't so obvious, after all, as the facts begin to contradict the propaganda.

Not that facts ever stopped ranting neocon ideologues from reinterpreting reality to fit their agenda. That's why it had to be the KGB – a theory "which is plausible because it was an old KGB tactic," as Palmer vapidly avers – in spite of the lack of any real evidence. To heck with evidence: that's so September 10th! Neocons require only a mere pretext, and the barest one at that.

Yushchenko's own campaign manager, David Zhvaniya, dismissed allegations that Yushchenko was poisoned at the dacha as "a stupid theory," according to the Times:

"The poisoning could have happened at any moment. He was always touring. He met hundreds of people in hundreds of places. To link it to that evening can be called only paranoia."

Yet this paranoia has been reported in the West as fact, and contrary views of the Ukrainian events – such as Rudolfinerhaus medical director Lothar Wicke's testimony – are ignored. In any event, according to former Communist and now ardent Blairite David Aaronovitch, all dissent from the "approved" view is a "right-wing isolationist" plot engineered by and John Laughland, in league with "anti-American" leftists and the British Helsinki Human Rights Group. In other words: ignore the facts – just look at who's reporting them. But to those of us in the "reality-based community," this just won't do....

In the last, supposedly falsified election round, 90-something percentage point turnouts in pro-Yanukovich districts were underscored as definitive evidence of massive fraud by the blues, yet the orange districts that showed similar turnouts in favor of Yushchenko were never questioned by Western-funded election "watchdog" groups. But to point this out – or question the circumstances surrounding Yushchenko's alleged poisoning – is to incur the wrath of self-appointed commissars of political correctness like comrade Aaronovitch, who, with typical neoconnish arrogance, disdained the BBC for giving Laughland a few minutes to rebut Yushchenko's fairy tales.

Polls sponsored by Western-allied (and U.S.-funded) "pro-democracy" groups have alread announced that Yushchenko is going to be the winner, no question about it. In addition, the leader of the "orange revolution" has recently predicted that there would be a "disruption" of the voting – whether coming from his own camp, or the camp of the pro-Yanukovich "blues," is not clear from his comments. Regardless of the real outcome of the Dec. 26 poll, Yushchenko and his folks look like they aren't going to take no for an answer.

In any case, the Luciferian lies that are being hurled at us, one after the other, are eventually debunked, but it's all a matter of timing. Sure, the myth of Iraqi WMD, Saddam's nonexistent links to al-Qaeda, and all the rest were uncovered as "errors" or outright deceptions, but not in time to prevent us from going to war – and plunging headfirst into the Iraqi quagmire. Yes, it looks like the truth about Yushchenko's dioxin intake is coming out, slowly but surely, but it is highly unlikely that it will be fully known before the election – thanks to the complete refusal of Yushchenko to cooperate with the investigation.

We at definitely do have an ideology, and we don't pretend to be neutral when it comes to the conduct of American foreign policy. But we recognize the difference between news and propaganda, which is why we never reported the poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko as fact until his diagnosis of a dioxin overdose.

To this day, we have given no credence to the various conspiracy theories pointing either to the Ukrainian security services or the Russian KGB – for the very good reason that there is not a single iota of evidence to back any of these theories up: just a lot of wishful thinking, hysteria, and groupthink.

(All typical traits not only of neocons, but of ideologues in general, including some pro-war types who claim to be "libertarians.")

The Yushchenko story is a textbook example of news management, neocon-style: of how the conventional wisdom is created out of very few real facts, and contrary views are kept out of the debate. Instead of questioning the logic of Yushchenko's insistence that he was poisoned by supporters of Yanukovich, and raising alternate explanations, we were supposed to simply echo the politically correct version of the story. Instead of wondering why anyone would use dioxin – a substance that has never been known to kill a single person – in an assassination attempt, we were supposed to just keep quiet, accept the conventional wisdom, and come up with catchy headlines like: Pro-Western Bearer of "Democracy" Martyred by Commie Rats.

Except we didn't – and we won't. The truth about how, when, and why Yushchenko came to ingest a debilitating dose of dioxin has barely begun to unfold, and we will cover it, in these pages, no matter where it goes. What seems clear at this point, however, is that what everyone "knew" to be true – the "poisoned soup" story pushed by Yushchenko and his Western supporters – is definitely not true, and I'm proud to say that we at were not taken in for a single moment.

The "Father of Lies" – another name for His Satanic Majesty – has been coming up with some real whoppers lately. Oh, he's been busy, and not only in the Middle East: the Luciferian lust for war demands a constant supply of enemies, as well as fresh lies, and they are good at creating both seemingly out of thin air.

It's the Devil's Christmas, this year, as the wolves of war bay at the moon, and Lucifer's legions move on every front. Iraq, Iran, Russia, and the Caucasus – they're everywhere, looking for an opening. Christmas, the season of hope, is this year transmuted to the season of fear and ominous foreboding. Even as we celebrate the birthday of the Prince of Peace, the pagan acolytes of the war god plot in the shadows.

And that's where comes in. We work around the clock, debunking and exposing this constant stream of lies, helping you – the reader – discern innuendo from established fact, winnowing through the thoroughly propagandized news media to pick out precious nuggets of truth. It's our continuing Christmas gift to you: just the facts, and some pertinent analysis, delivered to your computer each day.

– Justin Raimondo


US may strike at Ba'athists in Syria

The US is contemplating
incursions into Syrian territory in an attempt to kill or capture Iraqi Ba'athists who, it believes, are directing at least part of the attacks against US targets in Iraq, a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post.

The official said that fresh sanctions are likely to be implemented, but added that the US needs to be more "aggressive" after Tuesday's deadly attack on a US base in Mosul. The comment suggested that the US believes the attack on the mess tent, in which 22 people were killed, may have been coordinated from inside Syrian territory.

"I think the sanctions are one thing. But I think the other thing [the Syrians] have got to start worrying about is whether we would take cross-border military action in hot pursuit or something like that. In other words, nothing like full-scale military hostilities. But when you're being attacked from safe havens across the border – we've been through this a lot of times before – we're just not going to sit there.

"You get a tragedy [like the attack in Mosul] and it reminds people that it is still a very serious problem. If I were Syria, I'd be worried," the senior administration official said.

Another US official said that sentiment reflects a "growing level of frustration" in Washington at Syria's reluctance to detain Ba'athists and others who are organizing attacks from Syrian territory. The official cautioned, however, that whether to take cross-border military action is still a matter of discussion within the administration and that a military incursion is still "premature."

The senior official said US anger increased substantially after a prolonged incursion into Fallujah last month, which revealed "how much of the insurgency is now being directed through Syria." The US has not publicly detailed the evidence it has regarding the extent to which attacks are being organized from within Syria. But a report in The Times of London on Thursday suggested not only that Syria is becoming a base for Iraqis to operate, but that Syrian officials are themselves involved.

The newspaper said Iraq had confronted Syria with evidence that included photographs of senior Syrian officials taken from Iraqi fighters captured during the Fallujah offensive. It also said US marines in Fallujah found a hand-held global-positioning system receiver with waypoints originating in western Syria and the names of four Syrians in a list of 27 fighters contained in a ledger.

On Sunday, the Post reported that the US had provided Syria with a list of people it would like to see detained but that Syrian authorities have so far been unresponsive. The Post quoted a senior government official predicting a confrontation with Syria "unless the Syrians reverse their policy." US forces already operate along the Syrian border with Iraq, conducting air and mobile patrols.

This week, US President George W. Bush warned of possible new sanctions on Syria. "We have tools at our disposal, a variety of tools ranging from diplomatic tools to economic pressure. Nothing's taken off the table," he said.

And in an interview with a Lebanese newspaper, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage echoed the threat of new sanctions. In particular, Armitage said Washington wanted action taken against fugitive officials of the ousted regime, who remained at liberty in Syria and who "seem to us to be responsible for funding anti-US attacks in Iraq." "We want them to turn off this faucet," said Armitage, according to the paper's Arabic translation of his remarks.

Syria says it is doing all it can to prevent insurgents from crossing the Syrian border into Iraq and insists it would need more help to confront the problem. It also says it is being unfairly singled out whereas Ba'athists and others feeding the insurgency are hiding in other countries in the region.

AVNERY: The dog that didn't bark

Uri Avnery

A Wreath For Blair

"The curious incident is the barking of the dog," Sherlock Holmes remarked.

"But the dog did not bark!" exclaimed Dr. Watson.

"That is the curious incident!"

This week's curious incident concerns the wreath of Tony Blair. The wreath that he did not lay on the grave of Yasser Arafat. Elementary, dear Watson.

Blair did go to the graveside. But he omitted the natural and customary thing: laying a wreath. Neither did he bow. He just tilted his head a few centimeters and hastened to get away.

In my imagination, I can hear the frantic consultations before the event. Blair's advisors are discussing it: To lay a wreath? No, no, that will make President Bush angry. To bow? Ariel Sharon won't like it. To tilt the head? Alright. That should satisfy the …. Palestinians.

But how much? Ten centimeters? Too much. Two? Not enough. Five, then? That should do it.

I see Blair practicing in front of a mirror. And, indeed, he did it exactly as planned. To the millimeter.

I had stood at the same place 24 hours earlier, on the 40th day of mourning, a day of special significance in Muslim tradition. The leaders of the Palestinian authority and foreign representatives, including those of the President of Egypt and the King of Jordan, congregated in the hall of the Mukata'ah, tens of thousands thronged the courtyard. A group of Gush Shalom activists, the sole Israeli delegation present, were seated in reservedplaces. After the speeches, we went to pay our respects at
the grave, which was piled with wreaths. The Palestinians walked past, stood in silence for a few minutes, prayed. Many eyes were moist. This is now the central national shrine of the Palestinian people, right after the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

"Every Palestinian loves Arafat," a young man standing there told me, "And each one loves him in his own way."

Blair must have thought that he was doing the Palestinians a great favor by going to the grave at all. But his behavior, that of a person fulfilling an unpleasant duty, was a terrible mistake. In Arab civilization, gestures are more important than words. Not laying a wreath was an insult to the father of the Palestinian nation. After all, compared to Arafat, what is Blair but a political dwarf?

Why did he come at all?

There is much talk of a "window of opportunity" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The world's political celebrities - from Blair to Italy's ex-fascist foreign minister - are swooping down, like birds of prey, to snatch a piece of the peacemaker's glory. It looks rather repulsive, and quite ridiculous, too, because there is no window and noopportunity, not as long as Sharon is in power.

Blair had reasons of his own for the visit. He dragged the UK into the Iraq war, in spite of the opposition of a great many of his compatriots. As clearly foreseen by many, the war has turned into a disaster, which is getting worse by the hour. So why not jump on the Palestinian horse in order to divert attention from the Iraqi debacle? And, to prove that he is not Bush's Poodle, he wants to show that he can develop an independent initiative and drag Bush behind him, for a change.

That's how the idea was born: A big international peace conference will convene in London, and peace between Israel and Palestine will emerge. A dizzying success. Britain restored to her former glory. The Nobel Peace Prize for Blair assured.

But when he hurried over to Sharon, a cold shower awaited him. Sharon is sure of himself, he is much closer to Bush than Blair will ever be. When Blair proposed the peace conference, Sharon told him, in so many words, "shove it you-know-where."

Blair leapt off the horse as quickly as he had mounted it. Peace is Out. Must not be mentioned. There will be just a conference, without peace. Israel will not even go.

So what is it for? To teach the Palestinians how to be deserving of peace. How to fight terrorism, how to make democracy, how to institute reforms. Britain, which just now is infested with sex and bribery scandals, will teach the Palestinians how to behave.

Blair also tried to float the balloon of an Israeli-Syrian peace, but he gave that up quickly, too. Bush does not want Israeli-Syrian peace, and Sharon likes the idea even less. Bush wants to keep open the option of attacking Syria, once the Iraqi mess calms down (he still entertains that hope). Sharon, for his part, has no interest at all in a peace that would entail dismantling settlements and giving back the Golan. God forbid!

So that leaves only Palestinian. Standing next to the massive Sharon and beaming with admiration, Blair declared that there can be no peace process until the Palestinians put an end to terrorism. In free translation: Until the armed opposition to occupation stops, there can be no talk about ending the occupation. Since no Palestinian leadership could possibly "liquidate terrorism" without any prospect of ending the occupation and achieving peace, this means, simply: No peace process.

Until 44 days ago, there was a convenient pretext: Yasser Arafat is the obstacle to peace. Now, with Arafat no longer around, Sharon has fallen back on the other pretext: First of all, the Palestinians must liquidate terrorism. Meaning: when the lamb lies down with the wolf. Blair accepted this enthusiastically.

With this load he arrived in Ramallah, in order to offer Abu Mazen the London No-Peace Conference as a means for the education of the Palestinian people. Blair believes, so it seems, that in their desperate situation the Palestinians would clutch at a Straw.

The anger Blair aroused among the Palestinians was expressed the next day by Prime Minister Abu Ala', who attacked the initiative sharply. But the Palestinian leadership cannot afford to refuse the invitation to the conference, especially if it is backed by Bush. So there will be another sterile conference, number 101. (But who is counting?)

I hope that Abu Mazen will not lay a wreath in London. Let him journey to Churchill's grave and tilt his head, five centimeters exactly.

Eyal Dor-Ofer's checkpoint photo gallery at:

dao sanity

tower in distance, small group of travelers below, mist surrounds

sanity Chinese characters for "sanity"

You are demons.
You are darkness.
Your soul is at stake. Your soul is light.
Dissipation is the threat.
Don't surrender the key. Just dissolve.

The problems of humanity are not metaphysical. They are personal.

Damnation is in you. So too is salvation. You are the prince of darkness. You are also the prince of light. Neither can be cast out of yourself. The valiant coping with that dichotomy is the poignancy of this existence.

The momentum is in favor of darkness. Glory is in favor of light. If you do nothing, you slip toward darkness. If you give the least bit of effort toward the light, you will be helped. Struggle for the light. For the price is dissipation — of the soul, of the mind, of the body, of your very humanity.

The key to all of this is your sanity. You have to struggle to maintain it. It meditates between the light and the dark.

If you want an end to the duality, you must dissolve your sanity into the universal whole. Don’t do this until you are ready, for you cannot come back. There is a tremendous difference between the dissipation of making no effort, and the dissolution that one can accomplish as one's crowning spiritual act.

365 Tao
daily meditations
Deng Ming-Dao (author)
ISBN 0-06-250223-9

Chinese characters for "Shade of tower reach the cliff"
The Tower Reaches The Fog 1961
by Fu Bao Shi

receive a full HTML copy of the daily meditation sent directly to your inbox, please send a note with the words "subscribe tao" in the subject line to duckdaotsu


view o’ de news

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Suicide Suspected
By Eric Umansky
Posted Thursday, Dec. 23, 2004, at 12:22 AM PT

Everybody leads with the military saying a suicide bomber was responsible for the blast in Mosul. Investigators found portions of a suicide vest and an unidentified human torso. "We have had a suicide bomber apparently strap something to his body and go into a dining hall," said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Damage from the explosion also included little holes from ball bearings, which are often packed inside suicide vests to increase destruction.

The Iraqi militant group that initially claimed responsibility for the attack said the bomber was a local resident who had worked at the base for a few months.

One former four-star general slammed the Army's reliance on contractors. "We have a terrible problem," he told the New York Times. "We have all this indigenous labor. We don't wash our dishes, cook our own food. When you bring indigenous laborers into camps, you immediately have a security problem." Halliburton, which operated the cafeteria where the bomber hit, said no Iraqis were employed inside it.

Yesterday, U.S. forces launched a big sweep in Mosul and essentially put the city in lockdown. The mayor warned residents that anybody trying to cross one of Mosul's bridges could be shot.

The papers mention in passing that a car bomb hit an Iraqi national guard checkpoint just south of Baghdad last night, killed nine and wounded 13.

The Washington Post's Josh White tags along with soldiers on raids in Samarra, where he describes a "virtual intelligence meltdown." The GIs—and White—blame guerrillas' increasing intimidation. "They all watch us and follow all of us," said one resident of the insurgents. "This is the fifth time the Americans have put snipers on the roof. Of course we are afraid. Of course we don't want to help." The soldiers are also operating without translators—they all quit after being threatened.

The NYT notices inside that seven countries, led by Canada, are preparing to monitor the Iraqis elections ... from Jordan. "We are not calling this an observation mission," said a Canadian official. "It is an assessment mission."

The Los Angeles Times, NYT, and WP all front the news from the administration rules making it easier for forest service officials to approve logging and drilling. The Post calls it the "biggest change in forest-use policies in nearly three decades" and says it includes "jettisoning some environmental protections" that have been around for 20 years. The revisions, which will cut lots of paperwork, also allow economic-development issues to get equal weight as environmental concerns. The LAT does a bit of digging and notices that three of President Bush's "elite fund-raisers" were timber execs.

The NYT teases word that the government seemingly tightened student financial aid rules, and as a result "college students in virtually every state will be required to shoulder more of the cost of their education." The Times says "at least 1.3 million" students could end up with smaller than expected Pell Grants, and the final number could be far higher: The changes are "expected to have a domino effect across almost every type of financial aid, tightening access to billions of dollars in state and institutional grants." Get to the ninth paragraph and it's a bit less End of Days: "Even with the new rules, spending on Pell Grants, which could easily surpass $12 billion this fiscal year, may continue to increase, and the ranks of recipients will probably grow as well, because so many new students are applying for aid."

The Post's lead editorial sums up the recent torture doc revelations. "Since the publication of photographs of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in the spring the administration's whitewashers—led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld—have contended that the crimes were carried out by a few low-ranking reservists, that they were limited to the night shift during a few chaotic months at Abu Ghraib in 2003, that they were unrelated to the interrogation of prisoners and that no torture occurred at the Guantanamo Bay prison where hundreds of terrorism suspects are held. The new documents establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false." The headline: "WAR CRIMES."

The Wall Street Journal suggests concerns about Aleve are being overblown. One study of it was indeed just stopped. But contrary to many media reports, the seemingly observed increased risk for heart problems was so small as to be "not really" statistically significant, said the researcher who led the study. He explained the study was stopped not because of evidence of problems, but rather because patients in the study started freaking out, refusing to take their pills after hearing about problems with other pain relievers. "Kafka couldn't have written it better," he said.

The NYT fronts former Homeland Security nominee Bernie Kerik resigning from his buddy Rudy Giuliani's consulting firm. He told reporters he didn't want to be a distraction, and he didn't take questions.


The LAT fronts a feature on the increasing pressures Santas face. Among them: children's feet. "You got to protect your private parts," said one Santa. "I don't wear a cup or nothing; it's all in how you sit on your throne."

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate.

Vonnegut and The Kennedy Family


American Christmas Card 2004

By Kurt Vonnegut
December 23, 2004

As a special holiday treat for its readers, In These Times asked Kurt Vonnegut for his thoughts on the Christmas season. Here's what he wrote. Happy holidays from everyone at In These Times.

I met a man in Nigeria years ago,
an Ibo,
who said he had three hundred relatives
he knew by name.
His wife had just had a baby.
They were going to take it
on foot
to be welcomed and marveled at
by as many of those relatives
as they could find,
even though
there was a war going on.
Wouldn’t you love to have been
such a famous baby?
I wish I could wave a magic want
this Christmas,
and give every desperately lonesome
and hungry and lost American
man, woman, or child
the love and comfort and support
of an extended family.
Just two people and a babe in the manger,
given a heartless Government,
is no survival scheme.

I'm a soldier in Iraq -- how about a card or letter from home?

( '? duck note:
(jeez, I didn't know I had a brother!)
I've asked my family to write but they say they're too busy.

By Cary Tennis
Dec. 24, 2004

Dear Cary,

Happy holidays; hope this letter finds you well. I've been reading your column for a long time and respect your advice, so I'm seeking some of it here. The brass tacks of it: I'm deployed in Iraq and I'm depressed as all hell. I would love nothing more this holiday than a card from my family or loved ones, something, anything, and here it is late December, and nothing. I try and talk to my family about this, but every time I go to bring it up I feel like a selfish ass or am reminded how busy everyone is. Help me out, man, am I being a selfish ass? Trust me, I can certainly take a yes and any advice you may have to see another view.



Dear Benjamin,

I forwarded your note to your family. Their response was rather surprising:

"Dear Benjamin,

"How selfish of you!

"Sure, you are getting shot at, having bombs go off in your cafeteria, driving over explosive devices, having your deployment extended with no end in sight, blah blah blah. But don't you realize that we, too, face dangers every day? Who knows when the Internet connection could go down and the whole family can't log on! Who knows when the newspaper might not arrive, and somebody might have to drive to 7-Eleven and buy the paper -- and then: Are you still expected to give the paperboy a tip, or what?

"There are phone calls to make, Benjamin -- important phone calls to friends and not just to any friends either but to close friends -- friends of a kind of closeness that you and your buddies, with your silly risking your lives for each other, wouldn't know anything about! And there are gifts to wrap and give to each other -- did you think all these gifts we're giving to each other just wrap themselves? Cards and gifts. Stuff for each other. That's what we're busy with. Why haven't you received any? Maybe because you're way over there in Iraq. Do you know how far that is? Do you know how inconvenient it's been for us to have to look on a map to see where you are -- I mean a big map, the kind that goes beyond Rockaway Beach?

"Why did you have to go over there in the first place? Don't you think the world's problems would have worked themselves out eventually? But no. You had to go enlist, protect the country, be of service, live by a code of honor, blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda.

"Besides, Benjamin, how can we be thinking of you when you never drop by? Do you expect us to remember you exist when we don't see you for week after week? Now, if you were living next door like our junior life and casualty underwriter for Northwestern Life (you think life and you think casualty but this is life and casualty!) or pursuing a graduate degree in the metaphysics of silicone breast implants or trying to start up your own reality TV show like some cousins we know, maybe you'd be a little more in touch.

"But don't worry, we forgive you. Silly Benjamin, always trying to help. Anyway, we've heard it gets very hot there in the summer, but it's winter now, isn't it? Maybe they'll give you an extra blanket but don't make a pest of yourself. And for God's sake, no matter what you do, don't let them see you shivering in the cold the way you used to when you were a little boy!


"Your Family"

Well, Benjamin, I just made that up. I thought it might make you chuckle, and I figured you could use a chuckle. But seriously I wanted to tell you that most of us over here are awed by the sacrifices you are making on our behalf. We are capable of making the distinction between policies we disagree with and our countrymen and women who are carrying them out. I know that's two ideas to hold in your head at one time, but we can handle it. So for you and all the other soldiers over there whose families are too busy this holiday season: We all love you and care about you back home, and we are deeply humbled by the fact that you're laying your lives on the line so that we can go on watching television, talking on the phone and buying stuff that doesn't make our butts look big.

We'll never be able to thank you enough, so, frankly, we probably won't. You'll just have to know that it's true: In our hearts, we appreciate it more than we can say.

Readers: Want to send this poor soldier boy a letter?
Use that mailto [] link, or send to via your own mail program, making sure "To the Soldier" is in the subject line. I'll forward your mail along to him sometime before midnight on Christmas Eve. That might cheer him up a bit, no?

why the HELL are we staying in Iraq till 2010. two fucking thousand TEN??????????

No peace on Earth during unjust war

One reads in the papers that the Pentagon expects the war in Iraq to continue till 2010. Donald Rumsfeld will not guarantee that it will be over by 2009. How many dead and maimed Americans by then? How many sad obituaries? How many full pages in the papers with pictures of all the casualties?


The reasons change: weapons of mass destruction, war on terror, freedom and democracy for the people of Iraq, American credibility. All are deceptions. This cockamamie and criminally immoral war was planned before the Sept. 11 attack in which Iraq was not involved. It has nothing to do with the war on terror. American-style freedom and democracy in Arab countries are hallucinations by men and women like Paul Wolfowitz and Condi Rice whose contribution to the war is writing long memos -- Republican intellectuals with pointy heads.

One must support the troops, I am told. I certainly support the troops the best way possible: Bring them home, get them out of a war for which the planning was inadequate, the training nonexistent, the goal obscure, and the equipment and especially the armor for their vehicles inferior. They are brave men and women who believe they are fighting to defend their country and have become sitting ducks for fanatics. Those who die are the victims of the big lie. They believe that they are fighting to prevent another terror attack on the United States. They are not the war criminals. The ''Vulcans,'' as the Bush foreign policy team calls itself, are the criminals, and they ought to face indictment as war criminals.

There is an irony in the promise of a prolonged war. The Vulcans believed that, as the world's only superpower, the military might of the United States was overwhelming, irresistible, beyond challenge. In fact, the war into which they tricked us has become a quagmire, 130,000 American troops are at the mercy of perhaps 5,000 true-believer guerrillas and an Iraqi population that doesn't like Americans any more than it liked Saddam Hussein. It is a war in which there is no possibility of victory -- whether it ends in June 2005 or June 2010, whether there are 2,000 American battle deaths or 50,000, whether there are 10,000 wounded Americans or 500,000, whether those with post-traumatic stress are 10 percent of the returning troops or 30 percent.

One of the criteria for a just war is that there be a reasonable chance of victory. Where is that reasonable chance? Each extra day of the war makes it more unjust, more criminal. The guilty people are not only the Vulcans but those Americans who in the November election endorsed the war.

They are also responsible for the Iraqi deaths, especially the men who join the police or the army because they need the money to support their families -- their jobs eaten up in the maw of the American ''liberation.'' Iraqi deaths don't trouble many Americans. Their attitude is not unlike the e-mail writer who said he rejoices every time a Muslim kills another Muslim. ''Let Allah sort them out.''

This time of the year we celebrate ''peace on Earth to men of good will.'' Americans must face the fact that they can no longer claim to be men and women of good will, not as long as they support an unnecessary, foolish, ill-conceived, badly executed and, finally, unwinnable war. If most people in other countries blame the war on Americans, we earned that blame in the November election -- not that there is any serious reason to believe that Sen. John Kerry would have had the courage to end the war. Perhaps if he had changed his mind, as he did about the war in Vietnam, and opposed the Iraqi war, he might have won. Too late now. Too late till 2010 -- or 2020.

Note: Some conservative Catholics -- Republicans, I assume -- are spreading the word on the Internet that I am an ''unfrocked'' (sic) priest. That is false witness. I am and have been for 50 years a priest in good standing of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Call (312) 751-8220 if you don't believe me. False witness is a grave sin and must be confessed before Christmas communion. Moreover, those who commit it are bound to restore the reputation of the one about whom they've lied.

Copyright © The Sun-Times Company December 24, 2004 BY ANDREW GREELEY

America, the Indifferent

It was with great fanfare that the United States and 188 other countries signed the United Nations Millennium Declaration, a manifesto to eradicate extreme poverty, hunger and disease among the one billion people in the world who subsist on barely anything. The project set a deadline of 2015 to achieve its goals. Chief among them was the goal for developed countries, like America, Britain and France, to work toward giving 0.7 percent of their national incomes for development aid for poor countries.

Almost a third of the way into the program, the latest available figures show that the percentage of United States income going to poor countries remains near rock bottom: 0.14 percent. Britain is at 0.34 percent, and France at 0.41 percent. (Norway and Sweden, to no one's surprise, are already exceeding the goal, at 0.92 percent and 0.79 percent.)

And we learned this week that in the last two months, the Bush administration has reduced its contributions to global food aid programs aimed at helping hungry nations become self-sufficient, and it has told charities like Save the Children and Catholic Relief Services that it won't honor earlier promises. Instead, administration officials said that most of the country's emergency food aid would go to places where there were immediate crises.

Something's not right here. The United States is the world's richest nation. Washington is quick to say that it contributes more money to foreign aid than any other country. But no one is impressed when a billionaire writes a $50 check for a needy family. The test is the percentage of national income we give to the poor, and on that basis this country is the stingiest in the Group of Seven industrialized nations.

The administration has cited the federal budget deficit as the reason for its cutback in donations to help the hungry feed themselves. In fact, the amount involved is a pittance within the federal budget when compared with our $412 billion deficit, which has been fueled by war and tax cuts. The administration can conjure up $87 billion for the fighting in Iraq, but can it really not come up with more than $15.6 billion - our overall spending on development assistance in 2002 - to help stop an 8-year-old AIDS orphan in Cameroon from drinking sewer water or to buy a mosquito net for an infant in Sierra Leone?

There is a very real belief abroad that the United States, which gave 2 percent of its national income to rebuild Europe after World War II, now engages with the rest of the world only when it perceives that its own immediate interests are at stake. If that is unfair, it's certainly true that American attention is mainly drawn to international hot spots. After the Sept. 11 bombings, Washington ratcheted up aid to Pakistan to help fight the war on terror. Just last week, it began talks aimed at contributing more aid to the Palestinians to encourage them to stop launching suicide bombers at Israel.

Here's a novel idea: how about giving aid before the explosion, not just after?

At the Monterey summit meeting on poverty in 2002, President Bush announced the Millennium Challenge Account, which was supposed to increase the United States' assistance to poor countries that are committed to policies promoting development. Mr. Bush said his government would donate $1.7 billion the first year, $3.3 billion the second and $5 billion the third. That $5 billion amount would have been just 0.04 percent of America's national income, but the administration still failed to match its promise with action.

Back in Washington and away from the spotlight of the summit meeting, the administration didn't even ask Congress for the full $1.7 billion the first year; it asked for $1.3 billion, which Congress cut to $1 billion. The next year, the administration asked for $2.5 billion and got $1.5 billion.

Worst of all, the account has yet to disperse a single dollar, while every year in Africa, one in 16 pregnant women still die in childbirth, 2.2 million die of AIDS, and 2 million children die from malaria.

Jeffrey Sachs, the economist appointed by Kofi Annan to direct the Millennium Project, puts the gap between what America is capable of doing and what it actually does into stark relief.

The government spends $450 billion annually on the military, and $15 billion on development help for poor countries, a 30-to-1 ratio that, as Mr. Sachs puts it, shows how the nation has become "all war and no peace in our foreign policy." Next month, he will present his report on how America and the world can actually cut global poverty in half by 2015. He says that if the Millennium Project has any chance of success, America must lead the donors.

Washington has to step up to the plate soon. At the risk of mixing metaphors, it is nowhere even near the table now, and the world knows it.

Whitewash investigation begins on Mosul bombing

U.S. general named to head probe into Mosul blast that killed 22

BAGHDAD, Iraq – The brigadier general who investigated abuse at Abu Ghraib prison is heading the U.S. military's probe into how a suicide bomber infiltrated a U.S. Army base near Mosul and detonated a deadly explosion, authorities said Friday.

The team led by Brig. Gen. Richard P. Formica started its work in Mosul as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld paid a surprise Christmas Eve visit to the wounded soldiers at the base, part of a tour that also took him to Tikrit and Fallujah.

"Now we have a pretty good idea that it was a suicide bomber," said Lt. Col. Paul Hastings, a spokesman at the Mosul base. "(Formica) is going to investigate into the how's – how did that happen?"

Formica, an artillery commander, has already investigated detention practices by special forces in Iraq, including allegations of torture and mistreatment of prisoners linked to the Abu Ghraib abuses scandal.

Hastings said the Mosul investigation will be "conducted quickly and thoroughly" but that there was no deadline for its conclusions.

The Mosul blast killed 22 people, most of them American soldiers and civilians – the deadliest single attack on a U.S. base in Iraq. It has prompted the military to reassess security at bases across the country in light of the bomber's success in apparently slipping into the camp and entering a tent crowded with soldiers eating lunch Tuesday.

The suicide bomber believed to have carried out the attack was probably wearing an Iraqi military uniform, the U.S. military said Thursday.

On Thursday, U.S. Marines battled insurgents in Fallujah in the heaviest fighting there in weeks. The clashes erupted as nearly 1,000 residents returned to the devastated city for the first time since a major U.S. offensive last month that drove out most of the militants.

At least three Marines were killed Thursday's fighting. In a rare admission of high casualties among the guerrillas, a posting on an Islamic Web site said 24 insurgents were killed in the batttles. The posting, which could not be confirmed, said 19 of the dead were from non-Iraqi Arabs from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Syria and Jordan, and the rest Iraqis.

On Friday, around 4,000 more displaced citizens returned to Fallujah to inspect their devastated homes. Iraq's interim security minister Kassim Daoud said people were insisting on returning despite sporadic fighting there over the past weeks and unexploded ordinance on the streets. Much of the city remains uninhabitable.

The battle underlined the tenuous security situation as the United States and its Iraqi allies try to bring quiet before national elections Jan. 30. American commanders have hailed the offensive to retake Fallujah as a major tactical victory. But pockets of insurgents remain in the city and many guerrillas apparently slipped out of Fallujah to operate elsewhere.

Meanwhile, a powerful Sunni Muslim group, the Association of Muslim Scholars, renewed its calls Friday for postponing the Jan. 30 elections and called for holding a national reconciliation conference.

"We are not against the elections, but we want fair elections that represent the Iraqi people. Since this is not possible at the time being ... we call for postponing it," senior cleric Sheik Ahmed Abdul-Ghafour al-Samaraie told worshippers at Baghdad's Um Al-Qura mosque during Friday prayers.

Clerics from the association had urged Iraq's Sunni minority to boycott the election to protest the U.S. offensive in Fallujah, calling plans to hold the vote in January "madness."

In new violence Friday, U.S. troops and insurgents clashed in the city center of Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, leaving four civilians wounded, police Maj. Saadoun Matroud said.

In Ramadi, an insurgent hotbed west of Fallujah, a group of gunmen stormed the mayor's office Thursday afternoon and blew it up, destroying a large part of the building, a U.S. military statement said. There were no casualties.

Elsewhere, a lawyer for Tariq Aziz, a former senior aide for Saddam Hussein, said Friday he had met his client, who has been in jail since April 2003.

Aziz, was among 12 defendants, including Saddam, who appeared before a judge to hear charges against them in July. He is expected to be interrogated by an investigative judge soon.

The first two top officials to be questioned – an early phase in the trial process – were Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali for his role in poison gas attacks against the Kurdish minority, and former Defense Minister Gen. Sultan Hashim. They appeared in court a week ago.

Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has been pushing ahead quickly to launch trials for Saddam's inner circle.

By Dusan Stojanovic ASSOCIATED PRESS December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve Resistance to the First US Occupation

December 24, 2004

Florida 1837
Christmas Eve Resistance to the First US Occupation


Some 167 years ago United States Army, Marine and Navy units were engaged in an occupation and pacification of dangerous foes in Florida. The first foreign invasion launched by the new US government began in 1816 and met fierce and prolonged resistance from the multicultural Seminole nation. Part of three Seminole wars lasting to 1858, this "Second Seminole war" was the most cataclysmic Indian conflict in history. It cost taxpayers $40,000,000 (pre-Civil War dollars!), at times tied up half of the Army, and led to 1500 US military deaths. Untabulated were wounded US soldiers and civilians, and Seminole casualties.

The US invasion of Florida led to 42 years of fighting, a quagmire and a failure to subdue the resolute Seminoles. As casualties rise and Iraq spins out of control, this first US foreign venture offers important lessons.

In 1776, when 55 white patriots arrived in Philadelphia, put on white wigs, and crafted an immortal declaration, the Seminole nation also was fighting for its independence. To avoid persecution under Creek rule, Seminoles had fled south to Florida. There they were welcomed by Africans who had escaped from slavery in Georgia and the Carolinas -- and who since 1738 had built prosperous, free, self-governing communities.

Africans began to instruct Seminoles in methods of rice cultivation they had learned in Senegambia and Sierra Leone. Then the two peoples forged an agricultural and military alliance that challenged slave-hunters and then US troops. Some African families lived in separate villages, others married Seminoles, and the two peoples with a common foe shaped joint diplomatic and military initiatives. Africans, with the most to lose, rose to Seminole leadership as warriors, interpreters, and military advisors.

Major General Sidney Thomas Jesup, the best informed US officer in Florida, explained how two dark peoples created a multicultural nation:

The two races, the negro and the Indian, are rapidly approximating; they are identical in interests and feelings. . . . Should the Indians remain in this territory the negroes among them will form a rallying point for runaway negroes from the adjacent states; and if they remove, the fastness of the country will be immediately occupied by negroes." [1]

In 1816 Army Lt. Colonel Duncan Clinch reported on the first US invasion of Seminole settlements on Florida's Appalachicola River bank:

The American negroes had principally settled along the river and a number of them had left their fields and gone over to the Seminoles on hearing of our approach. Their corn fields extended nearly fifty miles up the river and their numbers were daily increasing. [2]

On the Appalichacola Clinch found former slaves ran plantations, raised crops, cattle, horses, traded with neighbors, and brought up their children. His response was to destroy a "Fort Negro" and its 300 inhabitants.

Race and slavery lay at the heart of the Florida wars. Southern slaveholders obsessed with plugging up their leaky labor system saw Florida as a clear and present danger -- a beacon luring slaves from Georgia and the Carolinas, and offering a safe haven. Also, successful free Black communities also destroyed a major justification for slavery.

Slave-catching posses invaded Florida, and masters demanded government action. It was a time when slave owners commanded the White House, Congress, Supreme Court and the military. In 1811 President James Madison, father of the US Constitution, initiated covert military operations against the Seminoles. In 1816, General Andrew Jackson led a major invasion, and three years later Spain [whose ownership rested on a visit by Ponce De Leon and imperial hubris] sold the Florida to the United States.

But the "Seminole threat" remained. Seminoles chose combat to capitulation. Because they fought on their own soil, Seminole forces ran circles around the numerically and technologically superior US armies. US officers were confounded, humiliated and beaten by guerilla techniques that would resurface more than a century later in Viet Nam.

US officers violated agreements, destroyed crops, cattle and horses, and seized women and children as hostages. They tried to racially divide the Seminole Nation. Nothing worked and resistance only stiffened. But these political, ethical and racial blunders would be carried forward to the Philippines in 1898, then Vietnam, and Iraq.

By 1837, the multicultural Seminole Nation had battled the US forces to a standstill. General Jesup concluded, "This, you may be assured, is a negro and not an Indian war." He continued:

Throughout my operations I have found the negroes the most active and determined warriors; and during the conferences with the Indian chiefs I ascertained they exercised an almost controlling influence over them. [3]

On the day before Christmas, 1837 US troops had tracked Florida's dark freedom-fighters to the northeast corner of Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida. An estimated 380 to 480 Red and Black Seminoles, commanded by Wild Cat and his friend, African sub-chief John Horse, waited, their marksmen perched in tall grass or trees. US Colonel Zachary Taylor and his army approached -- 70 Delaware Indian mercenaries, 180 Missouri riflemen and 800 soldiers from the US Sixth, Fourth, and First Infantry Regiments. The Delawares sensed disaster, and fled. Next the Missourians broke and ran.

Taylor then ordered his US troops forward. He later reported that pinpoint Seminole fire brought down "every officer, with one exception, as well as most of the non-commissioned officers" and left "but four . . . untouched." After a two and a half hour battle the Seminole forces took to their canoes and escaped. On Christmas Day Colonel Taylor's men counted 26 US dead and 112 wounded, 7 died for each dead Seminole fighter. US troops captured cattle and horses but no prisoners.

Lake Okeechobee stands as the most decisive US defeat in more than four decades of warfare in Florida. But several days after his decimated army limped back to Fort Gardner, Taylor's declared victory -- "the Indians were driven in every direction." The US Army promoted him.

However, US field officers recognized the unity and strength of the African-Seminole alliance. Said General Jesup, "The negroes rule the Indians, and it is important that they should feel themselves secure; if they should become alarmed and hold out, the war will be resumed." [3]

Proclaiming his "Indian fighter" reputation, Zachary Taylor later was elected the 12th President. Pleased with their victory, most Black and Red Seminoles agreed to migrate to Oklahoma, but defiant others remained.

The US debacle at Lake Okeechobee remains part of a buried and distorted heritage. In The Almanac of American History, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote: "Fighting in the Second Seminole War, General Zachary Taylor defeats a group of Seminoles at Okeechobee Swamp, Florida."

In its first foreign invasion the US sought to vanquish a free people and take possession of their mineral-rich homeland. For 42 years brave Seminoles mounted a valiant resistance, a milestone in the struggle for human liberty. This distant episode should sound warning bells today.

<>William Loren Katz is the author of Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage. He can be reached through his website:
Copyright 2004 by William Loren Katz


[1] Major General Jesup, June, 1837, in American State Papers, Military Affairs, cited in Kenneth W. Porter, The Negro on the American Frontier [New York, 1971] 251, 281.

[2] Report of Col. Duncan Clinch on "the destruction of Fort Negro, on the Appalachicola, July 29, 1816" [Washington: War Records Office, National Archives]

[3] Major General Sidney T. Jesup, Jesup Papers, box 14; 25th Congress, Second session, 1837-1838, House Executive Document, Vol III, no. 78, p. 52.

[4] Major General Jesup, March 26, 1837 in American State Papers, Military Affairs, VII. 835.