SAM SMITH - Like serial killers, pathological politicians often reveal their true weaknesses in how they display their power. George Bush, for example, has spent his whole life pretending he was something he wasn't: a tough, brave Texas cowboy. An amazing proportion of his public time is spent in projecting this false image - in part to fool us, but also in part to fool himself.

A weak, silly little man, almost pathetic at times, he risks the lives of millions as he struts around the world playing something he will never be - an impressive leader - using childish words and gestures to accomplish in symbols what he is so incapable of producing in reality.

At a time when the whole world knows what America won't admit - that it has become a sordid parody of what it prescribes elsewhere - Bush tells nation after nation how they should behave even as that land over which he properly holds some influence collapses and decays.

And how do the assigned protectors of reality — the press — react?

Mainly by propping up the semiotic fraud by treating it as real and covering domestic and foreign policy as thought they were just some more movies. As if we do not really need peace or a good economy but only the drama surrounding our failure to achieve them.

Consider this small example: Condoleezza Rice arriving in Germany and greeting the troops in a fascistic black outfit with tall dark boots of which Hitler and Mussolini were so fond. The Washington Post's fashion fetishist, Robin Givhan - who writes like Paula Abdul dresses - took on the challenge of explaining what this was meant to mean to the world:
||| Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield on Wednesday dressed all in black. She was wearing a black skirt that hit just above the knee, and it was topped with a black coat that fell to mid-calf. The coat, with its seven gold buttons running down the front and its band collar, called to mind a Marine's dress uniform or the "save humanity" ensemble worn by Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix." . . .

Rice's coat and boots speak of sex and power -- such a volatile combination, and one that in political circles rarely leads to anything but scandal. When looking at the image of Rice in Wiesbaden, the mind searches for ways to put it all into context. It turns to fiction, to caricature. To shadowy daydreams. Dominatrix! It is as though sex and power can only co-exist in a fantasy. When a woman combines them in the real world, stubborn stereotypes have her power devolving into a form that is purely sexual.

Rice challenges expectations and assumptions. There is undeniable authority in her long black jacket with its severe details and menacing silhouette. The darkness lends an air of mystery and foreboding. Black is the color of intellectualism, of abstinence, of penitence. If there is any symbolism to be gleaned from Rice's stark garments, it is that she is tough and focused enough for whatever task is at hand. |||| [full text shown below]

Givhan is not alone in being attractive to such a style. Some years ago Ruth La Ferla wrote in the NY Times:
||| The brute aesthetic of fascism - a blend of classical style and modern functionalism advanced by 20th-century totalitarian regimes - is widespread these days, having muscled its way from the worlds of architecture and fashion photography onto movie screens and runways . . . A smack at convention, fashion's flirtation with fascism has, to be sure, been stripped of its darker political content. Still, the ponderous style identified with tyranny retains an allure.

"Fascism - I hate to say it, but it's sexy," said Ned Cramer, a senior editor at Architecture magazine. The style generally is attractive, he said . . . The aggressive style of totalitarianism retains a power to seduce because it "comes from a lineage of darkness," said Yeohlee Teng, a New York fashion designer . . . Brutal granite and travertine structures, the dictator's pet mode of propaganda, "are all about power," Ms. Teng said, "and power is the greatest turn-on."

Givhan's view also probably well reflects whoever provided Rice with the outfit, but for those want fewer bombs rather than taller boots, the ensemble merely offers another unintentional insight into the true character of the Bush regime.
Condoleezza Rice's Commanding Clothes

By Robin Givhan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 25, 2005; Page C01

Seretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield on Wednesday dressed all in black. She was wearing a black skirt that hit just above the knee, and it was topped with a black coat that fell to mid-calf. The coat, with its seven gold buttons running down the front and its band collar, called to mind a Marine's dress uniform or the "save humanity" ensemble worn by Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix."

As Rice walked out to greet the troops, the coat blew open in a rather swashbuckling way to reveal the top of a pair of knee-high boots. The boots had a high, slender heel that is not particularly practical. But it is a popular silhouette because it tends to elongate and flatter the leg. In short, the boots are sexy.

Rice boldly eschewed the typical fare chosen by powerful American women on the world stage. She was not wearing a bland suit with a loose-fitting skirt and short boxy jacket with a pair of sensible pumps. She did not cloak her power in photogenic hues, a feminine brooch and a non-threatening aesthetic. Rice looked as though she was prepared to talk tough, knock heads and do a freeze-frame "Matrix" jump kick if necessary. Who wouldn't give her ensemble a double take -- all the while hoping not to rub her the wrong way?

Rice's coat and boots speak of sex and power -- such a volatile combination, and one that in political circles rarely leads to anything but scandal. When looking at the image of Rice in Wiesbaden, the mind searches for ways to put it all into context. It turns to fiction, to caricature. To shadowy daydreams. Dominatrix! It is as though sex and power can only co-exist in a fantasy. When a woman combines them in the real world, stubborn stereotypes have her power devolving into a form that is purely sexual.

Rice challenges expectations and assumptions. There is undeniable authority in her long black jacket with its severe details and menacing silhouette. The darkness lends an air of mystery and foreboding. Black is the color of intellectualism, of abstinence, of penitence. If there is any symbolism to be gleaned from Rice's stark garments, it is that she is tough and focused enough for whatever task is at hand.

Countless essays and books have been written about the erotic nature of high heels. There is no need to reiterate in detail the reasons why so many women swear by uncomfortable three-inch heels and why so many men are happy that they do. Heels change the way a woman walks, forcing her hips to sway. They alter her posture in myriad enticing ways, all of which are politically incorrect to discuss.

But the sexual frisson in Rice's look also comes from the tension of a woman dressed in vaguely masculine attire -- that is, the long, military-inspired jacket. When the designer Yves Saint Laurent first encouraged women to wear trousers more than 30 years ago, his reasons were not simply because pants are comfortable or practical. He knew that the sight of a woman draped in the accouterments of a man is sexually provocative. A woman was embracing something forbidden.

Rice's appearance at Wiesbaden -- a military base with all of its attendant images of machismo, strength and power -- was striking because she walked out draped in a banner of authority, power and toughness. She was not hiding behind matronliness, androgyny or the stereotype of the steel magnolia. Rice brought her full self to the world stage -- and that included her sexuality. It was not overt or inappropriate. If it was distracting, it is only because it is so rare.

© 2005 The Washington Post .

Rummy Watch

Rummy Watch

What didn't US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld see and when didn't he see it? Has he developed his boss's aversion to reading? Or has he somehow, despite all the new intelligence powers he's been garnering for the DoD, been squeezed out of the national security information loop?


I first noticed the pattern last year with the Abu Ghraib torture scandal exploding. By now it's beyond a trend. Closer to an established fact. Plain for all to see -- and it suggests a significant breakdown of some unknown sort at the Department of Defense.

On April 28, 2004, with Sy Hersh about to scoop them, the journalists at CBS ran a story about crimes committed by American soldiers at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison on its 60 Minutes II program. It included the now infamous torture photographs as well as information on the military's own "scathing report" on the subject, which would later become known (by its author's name) as the Taguba Report.

About a week later, I began to notice the trend. During a briefing with reporters on May 4, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was asked if he had himself read the Taguba Report. He hemmed and hawed about seeing a summary of it before finally answering "no." Another question followed:

"REPORTER: …given the ramifications of not only what is in this report, the findings specifically, but the pictures, the photographs that you knew, as of a couple of weeks ago, were going to be broadcast, why did you not feel [it] incumbent upon you at that time to ask for the findings, to take a look at the pictures beforehand, so you could perhaps be prepared to deal with some of the world reaction?

"SEC. RUMSFELD: I think I did inquire about the pictures and was told that we didn't have copies.

"RUMSFELD (to staff): Is that correct?

"STAFF: We didn't have them here, that's for sure.

"SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah, I didn't have them."

Could it be, I wondered, that I had the hardware on my desk to burn photo CDs and make copies of reports, but the Pentagon didn't?

On May 5, Rumsfeld did an interview with Matt Lauer of NBC's Today Show and was again asked about not reading the report or seeing the photographs until they aired on television. Rumsfeld sputtered "just a minute" before he confessed that "when I'm asked a question as to whether I've read the entire report, I answer honestly that I have not. It is a mountain of paper and investigative material."

So I wondered, could the problem be the amount of reading involved? Or could the SECDEF be suffering from adult Attention Deficit Disorder?

On May 7, Rumsfeld testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing on the treatment of Iraqi prisoners. There, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham asked him about the video files of torture at Abu Ghraib.
"GRAHAM: Mr. Secretary, have you seen the video?

"RUMSFELD: I have not. The disk that I saw that had photos on it did not have the videos on it. I checked with General Smith and he indicates he does have a disk with the videos on it. I don't know if that means there's two disks with all these photographs or if the photographs are the same and one just doesn't have the video."

Later, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson asked:

"BILL NELSON: …Mr. Secretary, when did you first see the photos?

"RUMSFELD: Last night about 7:30.

"BILL NELSON: Mr. Secretary...

"RUMSFELD: I should say, I had seen the ones in the press. I had seen the ones that are doctored slightly to suit people's tastes. We've been trying to get one of the discs for days and days and days. And I'm told by General Smith that there were only a couple of these, that they were in the criminal investigation process. And we finally, Dick Myers and I, finally saw them last night."

By then I was truly curious: Was it a budgetary problem -- the lack of CD burners, or floppy disks, or available computers at the Pentagon? Or was no one technically capable of making copies for Rumsfeld? Or was there some kind of institutional/personal issue at stake? Were Rumsfeld's underlings, for unknown reasons, engaging in a game of diskette keep-away "for days and days and days" (and right before his big Senate grilling too)?

Since then, I've paid closer attention to Rumsfeld's problems and continued to speculate. Just take a look at a few of the numerous incidents thus far in 2005…

On January 8, 2005, Newsweek broke a story about a high-level debate within the Pentagon on implementing the "Salvador Option" -- that is, the use of "death-squads" like those the U.S. funded in El Salvador during the 1980s -- in Iraq. On January 11th, at a press conference, Rumsfeld finally weighed in:

"The -- on the subject of Iraq, I also have been reading and hearing about this so-called Salvatore -- Salvador option, I think it's called. And I looked all through Newsweek, which apparently was the place it supposedly had appeared. I couldn't find it."

Rumsfeld went on to complain that he couldn't find a copy of the story anywhere and could only read articles about the story. Members of the press corps promised to get him a copy and informed him that it was available in the on-line edition of the magazine. In his defense, Rumsfeld claimed that he only buys the hard-copy of Newsweek.

I wondered how much time he had spent futilely paging through back issues of Newsweek. Had none of his staff thought to look online? Or could it be that they were thumbing their noses at their aging boss as he stared at an unplugged computer? Or was there simply not a single person on hand in the Pentagon who could master a Google search?

Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who commanded troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, made headlines when, on February 1st , he publicly stated, "It's fun to shoot some people." Rumsfeld apparently missed all the morning newspaper accounts and TV reports on this; for, on the afternoon of February 3rd, he told a reporter, "I have not read his words. I don't know what he said precisely…"

On February 10, Axis of Evil Enemy Number One, North Korea, declared for the first time that it definitively possessed nuclear weapons. You'd think an announcement of that sort from a nation with which the United States is still technically at war would warrant some attention from the Secretary of Defense. (I mean, just look at the response Saddam's phantom WMD warranted way back in 2002-03). But Rumsfeld, it seems, didn't even bother to read an account of the announcement, although he was apparently briefed on the fact that such stories had been written. When asked about North Korean nukes, the Secretary of Defense said, "I know I'm told that today in the press they indicated they do [have nuclear weapons]."

On February 16, when fielding questions from the press following a House Armed Services Committee Hearing, Rumsfeld was asked about an intelligence report concerning Al-Qaeda and replied, "I have not seen the paper that you're referring to with respect to the memorandum. It hasn't come to me yet… [To General Meyers:] You haven't seen it either, have you?"

Not surprisingly, Meyers hadn't.

The next day dawned on a near repeat of this incident. At another session with the press, this time following a Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, Rumsfeld was asked about a presidentially-ordered joint CIA/Department of Defense study of paramilitary activities.

"Rumsfeld: [To Myers]: Have you seen it? I have not seen the study.

"Myers: I have not seen the results of the study.I think that's coming over here shortly to us in the department."

Responses like these have come fast and furiously from Rumsfeld since the Abu Ghraib scandal first broke. Obviously, a pattern has developed, involving what looks like a systemic breakdown in information reaching the Secretary of Defense. The question is why? Why do reporters consistently know more than he does? Hell, why had I read the stories (and probably the military's own reports) before Rumsfeld?

I assume he's busy, but given his lack of reading, what exactly is he busy doing? Is he having personal problems? Recent reports indicate that lately Rumsfeld has been increasingly belligerent and cranky; most recently packing up his briefcase and spouting off about his lunch while being questioned by the House Armed Services Committee (where he also replied incoherently to a question about an aide's comments pertaining to the expansion of military retirement benefits with, "I have not… seen the statement that you've quoted in the context that it might have been included").

Other theories exist. Has he developed his boss's aversion to reading? Or has he somehow, despite all the new intelligence powers he's been garnering for the DoD, been squeezed out of the national security information loop. Is he being kept in the dark even about front-page national security news? Could Pentagon subordinates be rebelling against him for unknown reasons by refusing his requests for information, thus making him look uninformed and inept? Or could this be a more general problem of incompetence at the Department of Defense? Okay, maybe you can't expect a 72-year-old Secretary of Defense to be up-to-date on the latest technology, but can no one at the Pentagon figure out how to photocopy a report? Burn a photo CD? Copy a disk? Find an article on-line? Or figure out how to email a file?

Last year the DoD paid out almost $300 million to Battelle Memorial Institute -- whose scientists "played a crucial role in developing the office copier machine (Xerox)" and which holds "more than 250 patents related to the dry-copying process." It paid almost $643 million to PC-maker Dell, and nearly $2.4 billion to Computer Sciences Corporation -- "a leading global information technology (IT) services company… [whose] mission is to provide customers… with solutions crafted to meet their specific challenges and enable them to profit from the advanced use of technology."

You'd think with this kind of spending the people at the DoD could manage to get copies of crucial materials to their chief. But they either can't or won't. They've left Rumsfeld twisting in the wind, forced to admit on a daily basis that he can't get the information he asks for or wants to see in a timely fashion. The implications for national security are obvious. It's time for an inquiry. We need to know what Rumsfeld didn't see, when he didn't see it, and why he is so incredibly uninformed.

Nick Turse is a doctoral candidate at the Center for the History & Ethics of Public Health in the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. He writes for the Village Voice and regularly for Tomdispatch on the military-corporate complex and the homeland security state. Copyright 2005 Nick Turse Courtesy,

Tonight's Suicide Bombing in Tel Aviv


At 11:15 PM Israel time, a suicide bomber blew themselves up at Tel Aviv's Stage Club. As of this letter's writing, four persons are dead and thirty are wounded. According to news sources at Ha'aretz and the BBC, Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad has taken responsibility for the attack, while Agence France Press reports that the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade has also claimed responsibility. According to the Guardian, based on their analysis of recent communications between militants in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories, Palestinian intelligence officials contend that there is strong evidence linking Lebanese Shi'ite organization Hezbollah to today's attack.

Irrespective of what organization is really responsible, three facts are immediately clear: First, that there is no way this suicide bombing can be rationalized, except to argue that it was meant to destroy the current ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians; Second, that this attack will only serve the interests of Israeli and Palestinian hard-liners who oppose a resumption of the peace process; Third, that it will steel the resolve of Israeli settlers eager to show that the forthcoming July withdrawal from Gaza and the northern West Bank will do nothing to curb Palestinian violence.

While we here at Tikkun cannot emphasize strongly enough our solidarity with the victims of today's terror attack, we similarly cannot emphasize enough the restraint we believe the Israeli government will have to show in responding to this event. This cannot be the pretext for another Operation Defensive Shield. We strongly insist that the Israeli government react in the most intelligent and sensitive of ways to what has transpired in Tel Aviv, and not use this as an excuse to collectively punish the Palestinians for what may very well be the act of a single militant organization - Palestinian or Lebanese - that may have carried out today's killings. We hope that you will consider writing or calling your local congressperson's office to tell them this and urge them to continue to support the peace process in Israel/Palestine.

Should the culprits prove to be Hezbollah, we cannot but reflect ironically on what a deep grave this entirely unsympathetic fundamentalist guerrilla organization continues to help dig for itself, and its foreign sponsors, Syria and Iran. Should the culprits turn out to be Islamic Jihad or the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, we would hope that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz not hold the new government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responsible for their actions. Given how much Abbas has achieved these past few weeks, its the least we, as supporters of both Israel and Palestine, can do.

Since his January election, Abbas' peacemaking and security efforts have given both Israelis and Palestinians the only window of hope for a better future we have seen over the course of the past four and a half years of conflict. We owe it to Abbas to recognize his achievements to date. And we owe ourselves the time and the restraint we need to morally weigh how to properly punish the responsible party here, irrespective of the internal political advantages that the Sharon government may gain in order to demonstrate to Israel's right wing that it remains tough on security.

Some supporters of Palestinian rights may believe that this attack comes in response to the recent decisions of the Israeli cabinet to formalize the path of the Wall being built by Israel through the West Bank, to make permanent 120 previously "illegal" settlement outposts, and to build 6,000 new homes in the existing settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim. We oppose the Wall and we oppose the use of the forthcoming withdrawal as a cover to further annex territory already promised to the Palestinians under past agreements.

As we have emphasized over and over again, the only real security is peace. Any attempt to use this event for partisan political purposes will not only help continue the cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians indefinitely. It will similarly cheapen the memory of those Israelis killed by tonight's violence in the service of the immoral ideological objectives expressed by this bloodshed. At every level, this action is wrong and we condemn it unequivocally.

Joel Schalit, Managing Editor
Tikkun Magazine
phone: 510-644-1200

It's not about free speech anymore (was it ever?)

By Mom Anonymous
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Let me start off by saying I am no scholar. I am simply what most Americans would consider a fairly "average" wife, mom, sometimes writer, artist, pretty good friend, middle class, white, suburban (though much less clueless than my SUV driving counterparts) involved in the kiddos' schools (and as a result will be homeschooling as my youngest approaches middle school age), married to a guy who's worked hard to get to middle management. Very little college here, the decision to become a full-time mom meant postponing some things, and now, as I have become a grandmother, I realize I can and have become quite good at gaining an education outside the confines of academia. I may not be intellectual, but one thing I am not is stupid.

So much has been written lately about the "inflammatory" writings and speeches of Ward Churchill that I almost feel it is redundant to add anything further—especially when this site contains the writing of far more scholarly minds with a better recollection of details and formal education than I could ever hope to attain at this point in my life. This lack of credentials sometimes makes it difficult to get someone who has those credentials to take little ol' me seriously.

All I can say to that is I am writing this from the heart of suburbia and it's my understanding that where I am and how everyone around me lives is pretty much "average America." It's where everyone believes in the "American Dream" that's woven all through this country's mythology. I think that kind of gives me a fairly good sense of perspective as to where most people in the U.S. are, generally speaking, as they buzz around making a life for themselves.

However, as I have read through the various essays, news reports, watched various video and listened to various audio clips, one thing is, for the most part, missing. Churchill's current trashing in the media is not about free speech anymore; that ship sailed quite some time ago. The "land that I love" has become seething with hatred and anger, and it's part and parcel of a collective obfuscation of some pretty fundamental truths.

I have long been interested in the history and current struggles of and been supportive of American Indians and indigenous nations of peoples worldwide. Since I was a young girl, it seemed to me that the history and events surrounding the American Indian, those taught in my school and what little I could find as a kid outside of school, were woefully devoid of any point of view from the Indians themselves. This bothered me, and when something sticks in my head like that (my mom calls it stubbornness), I generally don't leave it alone.

My search for the full picture began with rereading Dee Brown's classic, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," as an adult. I had been assigned it in a class in high school, but being a teenager, I also didn't take the time to really absorb the info (I wanted to graduate early to take a job and skated through the last of my classes). About five years ago I really read it again, in doing so I began a whole new journey, just as I was turning 40. I found myself not only physically ill (to the point of vomiting as I processed the horrific details laid out by Brown), but deeply saddened, crushed under the weight and magnitude of the horror. As I read, I realized that Wounded Knee was only one of literally thousands of such "incidents" all over what is now commonly known as North America (though it certainly does not stop or end with this part of the globe). I realized that damn near anywhere my feet hit the ground that this land was soaked in the blood of generations of the slaughter of those "less human" than those conducting the slaughter.

This is the heart of what's really happening here. Denial. What Churchill dares to do is to stop denial, and this is why he's been raked over the coals. Instead of picking apart his "pedigree" (a ridiculous exercise when you consider that "what it means to be an Indian" does not always have a lot to do with how much bloodline one has. Imagine us requiring someone to prove how Irish, Italian, English, German, French, African, Asian, etc., they are on paper before we take them seriously. Requiring people to have pedigrees is to class them as animals, or should I say is part of that classifying). We should be paying closer attention to understanding exactly what the message is before we. as the American public, proceed to attempt to destroy any dissent.

The real bottom line question here is: Who decides who is human enough? Human enough to be considered more than possible collateral damage? Human enough to be able to raise their children on land that is not laid bare and permanently polluted with the most vile substances humans can create? Human enough to have adequate food, medical care, decent shelter and appropriate clothing, clean water? Human enough to live without the daily threat of death from bombs and guns? Human enough to be allowed to grow a small garden to help feed your family? Human enough to be just as valued and valuable as those who make the rules? What "requirements" have to be met so that those less valuable become more so?

I ask, dear readers, who is to make those decisions? Who has the right to? What are the criteria to be considered human enough? (Though truly the question, taken deeper, is who gets to decide the value of any Life? Trees, birds, fish, land, sea, sky, all of it.) A large part of Churchill's work invokes these questions in my heart, and, I am sad to say, that for the most part (speaking in numbers of my fellow "average Americans") these questions are being ignored or attacked when they are asked.

While the issue of free speech is at work here to a certain degree, what's lacking is common sense to look beyond that to see it's far deeper than what you say and your right to day it. Common sense to see that when anyone starts deciding that they are the world's compass, that they are more human than others (and thus more valuable), then it's inevitable that those "Others" will take issue with the value assigned to them by those doing the deciding. When one self-imposed group of "world leaders" decides who is expendable and therefore to be counted as "collateral damage" with no input at all outside their enclaves, is it really so outlandish to expect that those being dehumanized would respond, and not so kindly? What would you do?

Churchill asserts that when large numbers of not-so-white folks are not deemed "fully" human and are therefore expendable, we all suffer the consequences. Just as allowing an abuser to continue abusing is a sure invitation to escalating violence in a family unit, this transfers to the culture at large. Many of our "social problems" in North America are reflected back to us, magnified enormously, in the current "plight" of indigenous peoples worldwide. If, we as a nation began seriously considering all people as human enough and acted on that, walked the walk, so to speak, the "threat of terrorism" would eventually cease to exist. This is the crux of much of what lies in Churchill's work. My family, yours, are not more valuable than a mother and father's in the Middle East or on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, and unless, or until, we as a country take that idea and really act on it (with more than writing a check or protesting), we can be assured that the Revelationists' Self-Fulfilling and Self-Perpetuated Wet Dream of Armageddon is close at hand.

But here's the big threat: to do this, and do it for the sole purpose of restoring dignity and value to all peoples, will require sacrifices most pursuing the "American dream" are not willing to look at or give up. As the U.S., having about 5 percent of the world's population continues to use 25 percent of the world's resources (a large part of which ends up as "waste" in some form or fashion) resentment toward that way of living will continue to grow. If you think for one moment the people who work for mere pittances in horrid conditions to provide "goods" to the U.S. population (and who could never afford to buy the things they are making for that pittance) don't know where the fruits of their labor are going—to you, to me, to the shelves at our stores—is to show, again, a lack of humanity that leads to those "acts of terror" we claim to abhor (when they happen to "good Americans," that is). I don't need a degree or time spent in academia to figure that out. It rarely occurs to anyone claiming to "speak for America" that perhaps all the U.S. corporate entities established globally were not wanted by or seen as "progress" by those who were doing just fine without them.

The mere fact that debate is needed to decide what constitutes genocide, to decide who is human enough, to decide at what point something becomes vile or an atrocity, shows exactly how far removed we are from even wanting to know how to make it stop. Wouldn't common sense tell us that to stop the madness you have to stop the madness?

I realize this is not popular, and as a result I stand to get raked over the coals myself. And while I may lack the reference points, footnotes and so on, often required to be considered of merit, I am speaking from my heart, broken and shattered as it may be.

Mom Anonymous lives in the maddening drone and vapid wasteland of Metro Atlanta with her family. She
can be reached at for those of like mind, to share ideas and form connections..

Attacks on academic freedom, or when exactly did Bushism begin in the USA?

Fifty years from now, historians (if any survive the next 50 years in any fit shape to take time out from foraging for food to scribble and to theorize) will puzzle over this question as Italians still do today over the exact beginning of fascism (roughly, 1920-1943).

Was it with the USA PATRIOT Act? The military tribunals? Nine-eleven—Reichstag fire that some think it was? Florida elections 1998-2000? Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib? Gonzales? Negroponte? PNAC? Panama invasion? Gulf War I? Reagan? NAFTA and the Washington consensus, in general? Chile coup?

Or was it with Hiroshima and Nagasaki—when the US showed the world that it would back its existing economic hegemony with its military death machine?

Hard to say. Some Italian historians say that fascism began when Italian industrialists bankrolled Mussolini's propaganda rag in 1919. Others say it was when Mussolini thugs assassinated liberal parliamentarian Giacomo Matteotti in 1924. Others yet point to the various stages in the process that corrupted elections. Most agree that the object of Italian fascism was to crush the unions, cut wages, and erase the socialist (especially communist) presence from the national scene. At any rate, Mussolini could not have been allowed to rule if he didn't put the state and the treasury at the service of those who felt a right to its ownership and use.

Who benefited? Certainly not the people.The industrialists rejoiced: the work-day was extended to nine hours (reduced again to eight a decade later when unemployment ravaged the economy); wages were immediately slashed by 20 percent; unions were banned. Later, the creaky fascist economy embarked on imperialist ventures: Abyssinia, Eritrea, Ethiopia—complete with poisoned gasses and mass death. Altogether, the victims of Italian fascist occupation in Africa and Europe are said by reliable historians to have amounted to one million (300,000 in Yugoslavia alone). The imperialist phase enriched the armament barons and the industrial/financial oligarchs but wrecked the treasury. Meanwhile, arrests, death-squad beatings and murders, censorship, extrajudicial killings, forcible nationalization and ethnic cleansing in the "liberated" colonies, perversions of the judicial system progressed apace. The fascist right has always operated like this by calumny, defamation, and violence, which it could not do without the assistance of criminalized institutions like the parliament, the press, the courts, the church, the military, and instrumentalized public opinion.

Mussolini's slightly thuggier cousin in the nordic north, Hitler, is said to have decided to invade Poland the moment he was told the German treasury was bankrupt. At this point he had to cover his ass, after all. Having ruled at the biddings of the Krupps and the Thiesses in the shadows, having robbed the people (with their beatific and suicidal consent) of their labor and their wealth, what could a lackey of the bosses do but choose war—so "lebensraum" it was full tilt, and straight into the icy and furious jaws of the victorious Soviets.

Forty million dead in WW II—half of them Soviet!

And for what? Money, of course—but not for the people. No, they got paid in "values"—the same four tawdry pillars of any fascist state: "race" (which soiled them with the crime of genocide), "military training" (which turned them into cannon fodder), "leadership" (which habituated them to obey), and "religion" (which consoled them for the fact that they counted for nothing in this life in which their consent was sought to better exploit them, cretinous dupes of the economic elites who deceived them).

No, I do not think the US is yet a fascist state, but I think that the end is implicit in its beginnings. If later we cannot say when a fascism begins because we see in retrospect so many of its generative moments, it means that we should pay attention now.

Take, for example, the present brouhaha about academic freedom, the Ward Churchill dispute, Bill O'Reilly's televisual witchhunt of anti-American phantoms in academia, the smears of Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz of a "liberal" professoriate, which, in these last years of preventive wars and humanitarian aggressions, of shredding the basic principles of human rights and international law, has exhibited, with a few exceptions (precisely those virulently under attack), the moral courage of a blancmange and the political consciousness of an amoeba—take these symptoms and ask, could this be a hint of the cancer that becomes fascism?

As an educator, I have to take notice. If these attacks succeed, could my dean call me in and ask me to sign an oath of loyalty to . . . to the "regime"? Such an oath was instituted in Italian universities in 1931, based on the argument that teaching could not be done against the objectives of the state. It was, therefore, an ideological oath, through which the signatory promised to fascisticize education by emphasizing the affective, the feeling-centred, and instinctive over the cognitive; by ignoring facts (didn't a senior White House aide deride the "reality-based community" not too long ago?) and inciting faith in the leader, the "race," and God's evident partisan patriotism. In Germany, Munich professors, for example, were warned that it wasn't up to them to decide whether something was true or false but whether is served the Nazi social "revolution." Signing the fascist oath of loyalty to the regime meant agreeing to teach the "wisdom of the cave"—Plato's timeless metaphor for false and illusory knowledge.

Of 1,200 professors, 12 did not sign—three jurists, an"orientalist," a historian, a theologian, a mathematician, a surgeon, an anthropologist, an art historian, a chemist, and a philosopher. Twelve angry men with nothing in common but "an almost physiological repugnance to fascism," a moral intolerance "to fascism's vile rhetoric," or "fascism's apology for violence." Twelve men from different social classes and cultural roots—some religious, others anti-clerical; some socialist and liberal, others monarchists; Jews and Catholics—all with one thing in common, a thick and coherent moral integrity.

One story in particular inspires me. The professor of philosophy was examining a student, who had just been banned by the regime to police-supervised confinement in a remote Italian village. The professor was questioning the student on the ethics of Immanuel Kant, when the absurdity of the situation struck him and he burst out: "But I have no right to be testing you on Kant's ethics. By opposing this regime, you show that you understand Kant's ethics very well. You are the teacher here. Dismissed. Full marks and summa cum laude."

In the 1960s, the writer Ignazio Silone suggested that the names of these 12 dissidents be inscribed in a brick to be inserted in every Italian university. They must have thought he was crazy! For, indeed, academia has never been the place of heroic intellectual freedom—or the hotbed of subversion—it is advertised to be. Make it a generous guess of 12 in a thousand who place their consciences before their careers!

The twelve, earned immediate dismissal, minimal pension, strict and oppressive police surveillance, persecution and professional exile. Those who signed said they "feared hunger more than war:" they had to pay their children's school fees; one memorably cried into his eminent, white beard, "I shall cover my whole work with shame, but I cannot let my children starve." Some stayed at their "fighting post," to prepare a generation of anti-fascists. Many could not give up their profession, an integral part of their identity. Others excused themselves with sophistic reasoning, ("The true act of courage consisted in swearing loyalty," and then went on to sing Il Duce's praises). One kept a glove on while signing and threw the pen down so it splattered black ink on the offending page.

Odd, though, that they should be 12—the good ones. A metaphoric verdict?

Luciana Bohne teaches film and literature at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at


Columbia Implodes!

Proceedings will not be tape-recorded, and the report will not be for the public

There is a one-sided discourse on campus [on Middle East studies]. . . . Why isn't the university interested in open debate? I don't understand why the central administration doesn't see this as a central problem. George Fletcher, a notable independent Columbia Law School professor,
The New York Sun, February 16

I don't want pro-Israel zealots in that department any more than zealots on the other side. What has to be added are scholars with real credibility who have respect for students' academic freedom to question their professors. Alan Dershowitz, a paladin of free speech and a Harvard Law School professor, in a conversation with this reporter.

Jimmy Breslin wrote a novel, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, that came to my mind while covering what is now an international story about charges that some professors in Columbia's Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) bully and intimidate students who don't agree with them. Since one of my beats is education—from pre-kindergarten on—I have covered a number of dysfunctional college and university administrations around the country. But the handling of this controversy by Columbia's president, Lee Bollinger, and provost Alan Brinkley is a model of how to confuse and worsen a situation while trying to resolve its core problems.

In December, Brinkley and Bollinger appointed a special committee to investigate the charges by students in the film Columbia Unbecoming, which brought to widespread light the bullying bias of certain MEALAC professors that has been known on campus for a long time.

Susan Brown, a spokeswoman for Columbia University, told the online edition of The Jerusalem Post: "We take student concerns of this nature very seriously and believe the ad hoc committee will evaluate these charges in a rigorous and utterly objective manner."

As I will show next week, this is largely a rigged rather than an objective committee, and if I were to appear before such a committee, I would demand that I be able to bring my own tape recorder.

But first, let's look at a session of this "rigorous" committee as provided to me by students belonging to Columbians for Academic Freedom, some of whom appear in the film Columbia Unbecoming.

As the members of Columbia's investigating committee were seated at a roundtable, before a student witness, Professor Ira Katznelson, presiding, said, "There will be two reports [by the committee]: an internal report by the committee, which will be full and frank and detailed, and a public summary."

I left a message for Columbia spokeswoman Susan Brown, asking why the Columbia community and the general public would not also be getting a full and frank report. My call to her was not returned.

Professor Katznelson was asked by one of the students in Columbians for Academic Freedom whether there'd be a tape recording of the committee's sessions.

The answer: "Notes will be taken by a professional note-taker but a tape recording will not be made."

The student asked: "Will they be kept internal or will they be transparent to the public?"

The answer: "The notes are for the use of the committee."

Floyd Abrams, the nation's premier litigator on First Amendment issues that come before the Supreme Court, has been appointed an adviser to this special administration committee. So a student asked Katznelson: "Will Floyd Abrams be present in all meetings of the committee?"

The answer: "Mr. Abrams will not be present when the testimony is taken. He has been advising the committee on procedures, and will be meeting with the group regularly as he continues in an active advisory role."

I know Floyd Abrams, and I am confident that if this committee's report is seriously suspect as to its objectivity, Floyd will issue his own independent report. But since he will not be at the sessions, why is he denied an official tape recording of the testimonies so that he can be objectively informed of the proceedings?

Initially, I asked the students whether they would bring their own tape recorders to the committee sessions. But I was told that tape recorders are not allowed by this committee. Professor Katznelson told a student that the committee will "make a full and frank confidential report to the vice president for Arts and Sciences that will be shared with the provost [Alan Brinkley] and president [Lee Bollinger]."

But the report will not be shared with the public. Is this low-level imitation of the Star Chamber—the secret British court centuries ago where due process was dismissed—taking place to protect the privacy of the student witnesses, who have expressed concern that harm may come to their academic careers if they testify?

However, it is in their interest that a "full and frank" report be openly and widely available, lest there be any recriminations for what they said before the committee.

How did I get the exchanges from the committee sessions? When a student testifies, he or she is accompanied by a witness from Columbians for Academic Freedom. The witness can't speak, but can take notes. The students, more than Columbia's administration, believe in transparency.

This rigmarole by this Columbia administration that can't shoot straight is somewhat less opaque than what happened to Joseph K. in Franz Kafka's prophetic The Trial. But this committee's final report is going to raise questions in view of the conflicts of interests of some of its members—to be detailed here next week.

Alan Dershowitz, who has spoken at Columbia on this, as I am scheduled to do, says that if the committee produces "a biased result," and if he sees "a corruption of procedure occurs," there will be need for "another committee appointed by distinguished outsiders who have no position and no stake in the matter."

It would also help clear the increasingly murky air at Columbia if eventually there were a new president and a new provost who know how to shoot straight to assure academic freedom for everyone on campus.



Iraqi women on the verge of a revolution

The election holds both danger and hope for women --
but some Iraqi women's advocates fear the worst.
<>As the Shiite clerics and Kurdish nationalists, who suddenly find themselves in power in Iraq, debate the form and function of the new government, one often ignored group of Iraqis finds itself ambivalent about the future. Although women participated in January's election in unprecedented numbers, a heartening sign that women would have a strong political voice in Iraq, many Iraqi women remain extremely anxious as religious party leaders, with strong ties to Iran, sit down to write a constitution.

Women's rights activists are particularly disappointed by the election. "The results are disturbing indeed," offers Naba al-Barrak of New Hope for Women, an Iraq-based group. "People chose to vote for sectarian reasons, which is very sad." Her group had hoped that voters would find the liberal agenda of the more secular parties attractive, while also trying to break the Arab mentality of supporting one's tribe or clan over one's individual rights. Yet the portrait of the country that emerged from the election, she says, "is the face of tribal loyalties."

What's also dismaying to activists is that the election appears to conflict with what Iraqi women really want. Women for Women International, an American-Iraqi advocacy group, recently conducted a survey of Iraqi women and found that high percentages of them expect a role in the reconstruction of Iraq. "Many Iraqi leaders have claimed that women do not want to be involved in the reconstruction process," Women for Women founder Zainab Salbi said in a statement. "This survey clearly shows that women overwhelmingly believe they should have a seat at the table." The survey also reveals that Iraqi women expect equal rights -- 94 percent want legal protection as women, and 84 percent want to vote on the final constitution.

Perhaps the most outspoken activist is Yanar Mohammed of the Iraqi Communist Party. A petite woman who speaks perfect English from years of living in Canada, Mohammed moves constantly in Iraq due to death threats, and uses a small entourage of armed bodyguards to protect her. "I get the [threatening] e-mails and I know religious extremists want to keep me from talking to women but…" she shrugs.

It's pretty clear why a Shiite ticket, endorsed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and led by a coalition of religious groups headed by Abdul Hakim Aziz, would not be happy with Mohammed, a woman whose newspaper recently used a sardonic editorial to propose that if Iraqi men are allowed to take multiple wives, then Iraqi women should then opt for multiple husbands.

As Mohammed points out, the name of Aziz's group -- Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- and its close relationship to Iranian clerics, hardly bodes well for a secular Iraq. Last year, during efforts to create an interim constitution, SCIRI led a group of conservative Islamicists to overturn much of the family law that Saddam used to grant women equal rights. Far from a feminist utopia, the Baath Party did allow a larger role for women than most Arab countries, in no small part because Iraq's men were being killed by the hundreds of thousands in a series of wars from 1979 until 2003.

"Iraqi women can be quite outspoken," Mohammed says. "And there's not as much fear among them as you see in places like Kuwait, Saudi and other Arab countries." Yet she is cynical about the prospect of women gaining equal rights under a new Iraqi government.

"Our position was to boycott the election because the winner was going to be a cleric from Iran -- bred with its version of Islamic fascism -- or Allawi, a Baathist," she says. "Not one of them will do anything to help women. And how can a people in search of a secular state have an election in which [Sistani] mandated participation as a religious duty?"

Women, Mohammed adds, continue to suffer under religious rule. "The moment Saddam's regime closed down, Iraq became infiltrated by [Sunni] Wahhabi extremists, Iranian intelligence and others, who are heavily funded from outside Iraq," she says. "This is what we see all over the world, political Islam imposing religion on politics. It started with sanctions here [in the 1990s] and continues all throughout the Muslim world. When you are isolated from the rest of the world, religion becomes your way out."

Mohammed says she often tries to reason with Shiite religious leaders. "I ask them about why every woman in Najaf [the site of the shrine of the Imam Ali] wears the abaya [a veil that covers the body and face] and they tell me, 'Oh, it's voluntary,'" she recounts with contempt. "You're telling me every last woman in Najaf wears the abaya because she wants to? None of them are forced by their husbands, by their brothers? All of them? I can't even talk to these people!"

So Mohammed has stopped talking and is now trying to form a coalition of secular, educated Iraqis to fight for a party that will remove all mention of religion from the new Iraqi government. Or at least participate in the next government with those goals in mind.

"I would like a socialist Iraq free of mention of gender, race, and religion," she says. "Start with a secular government and adopt the Geneva Convention on Human Rights. We want to end the American occupation of Iraq, so the Wahhabis and Iranian intelligence people stop coming here."

When I point out that it seems unlikely that the foreign jihadis and Iraqi Sunni and Shiite radicals will retreat from their battles when the Americans leave, she disagrees. "The American presence gives legitimacy to these radicals in the eyes of the people," she argues. "It's like the Americans are a big hive of honeybees. The bear will leave when the honey is gone."

Women for Women founder Salbi, however, says the issue surrounding equality in Iraq is not so black and white. In an interview with Newsweek, she agrees that an Iranian-like government ruled by religion poses a real danger to women. "And if you see what's happening toward women, in terms of the violence that's targeted toward them, in terms of the culture becoming more conservative, then the indicators show that it may be like that," she says. "Religious leaders definitely are the ones to be watched, clearly, but secular leaders as well. 'Religious,' by definition, doesn't mean 'bad toward women,' and 'secular,' by definition, doesn't mean 'good toward women.' We need to look at the substance of both of them."

Real proof of Iraqi's women's political strength, however, will come in the creation of a new constitution much later this year. "The election was not the most critical point," Salbi tells Newsweek. "The constitution-drafting committee, that's the most critical point. If women are not represented in the drafting of the constitution, most critically they're going to lose their rights. And usually these rights are represented through family law: custody, divorce, inheritance, work opportunities, representation -- all of these things."

Right now in Iraq, the days mark the festival of "Moharam," a 40-day event that represents the Shiite mourning period of the defeat of the Imam Hussein, son of Imam Ali, whom the Shiite consider the rightful leader of Islam after the death of the prophet Mohammed. After years of strife, Hussein was slain in battle near the Iraqi city of Karbala almost 1,400 years ago, a moment that relegated the Shiite into minority status in the Islamic world.

At the holy Shrine Imam Khadam in central Baghdad, pilgrims are arriving for the ritual flaying, chest-pounding and hitting themselves in the head with swords, a tribute to the suffering of Hussein to protect Islam. On the eve of taking power for the first time in Iraq, Shiite pilgrims crawl on the street, praying in tribute to Hussein for his and their loss. It's a momentous thing to witness.

To speak to the people about the new Iraq is heartwarming. "We are not like Iran, we are Arab Shiite, we love our Sunna brothers, Christians, Jews," says one man. "We want a government for all Iraqi people." If the Shiite can indeed harness the sense of self-sacrifice that they have shown their leaders for hundreds of years, whether on the field at Karbala or in defying Saddam, and find a middle ground with their political opponents, maybe Iraq does have a chance for a representative, egalitarian government -- one that incorporates lasting and equal rights for women.

Mitchell Prothero is a freelance journalist in Iraq.

monbiot: Protest As Harassment

Once the new crime bill becomes law, it could be used to ban people from handing out leaflets to customers entering McDonald's, whether their contents are defamatory or not. It would permit the police to stop almost any demonstration.

It was the greatest legal victory against corporate power in living memory. Last week, two penniless activists, Dave Morris and Helen Steel, persuaded the European Court of Human Rights that Britain’s libel laws, under which they had been sued by McDonald’s, had denied them their right of free speech. The law will probably have to be changed, depriving the rich and powerful of their most effective means of stifling public protest. So why aren’t they hopping mad about it? The company which sued Dave and Helen will say only that "the world has moved on … and so has McDonald’s."(1) The Confederation of British Industry, so quick to denounce the legal rulings it doesn’t like, hasn’t uttered a word.

They don’t care, and they don’t need to. You can see why by reading the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, which has now passed through the Commons for the third time. What civil law once gave them, criminal law now offers instead.

There has been a great deal of disquiet about this bill, but not because of its effects on protest. The public complaints have concentrated on the clause banning "hatred against persons on religious grounds".(2) This is important, but not nearly as important as the parts almost everyone has missed. Once this bill becomes law, it could be used to ban people from handing out leaflets to customers entering McDonald’s, whether their contents are defamatory or not.

Section 121 of the bill prohibits people from "pursuing a course of conduct which involves harassment of two or more persons", in order "to persuade any person … not to do something that he is entitled or required to do, or to do something that he is not under any obligation to do." Harassment, the bill explains, can involve "conduct on at least one occasion", "in relation to two or more persons". In other words, you need only approach someone once to be considered to be harassing them, as long as you have also approached someone else in the same manner.

The law is left wide open: there is nothing in it to prevent a company from seeking an injunction and damages against someone who has handed out leaflets to two of its customers. To demonstrate harassment, it needs to show that the protester’s conduct has caused its customers "alarm or distress": but again the law grants it as much scope as it could ask for. This bill, like the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act, fails to distinguish between the manner in which information might be presented, and the information itself. If you stood outside a chemist’s shop, telling people that one of the drugs they were using caused mutations in human foetuses, you would be alarming or distressing them even if you behaved with the greatest courtesy.

The bill goes on (sections 122 and 123) to redefine harassing someone in his home in such a way as to permit the police to ban all protest in a residential area. Under the bill you don’t have to go knocking on someone’s door to merit a year inside and a £2500 fine. You merely need to represent to "another individual" (ie anyone) "in the vicinity" of someone else’s home, "that he should not do something that he is entitled or required to do; or that he should do something that he is not under any obligation to do". Which is, of course, the purpose of protest.

If you think these interpretations of the new bill are far-fetched, take a look at how existing laws have been recently been used to scoop up peaceful protesters. All these examples involve animal rights protesters, but there is nothing to prevent other demonstrators from being treated in the same manner.

While the law has also been used to deal with genuine threats, in March last year a protester in Kent was arrested for sending polite emails to a drugs company, asking it not to work with the animal testing service Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Under current law, a "course of conduct" is established if you do something to one person twice: the police maintained that her emails, though courteous, constituted harassment, as one person received two of them.(3) Another protester was arrested at a demonstration in January 2004 for displaying a picture of a dead cat on a poster.(4) In September 2003 the police directed demonstrators against a circus in London to leave on the grounds that the circus people lived nearby (in their caravans), and were therefore being harassed in their homes.(5) One protester, Lynn Sawyer, now faces £205,000 costs after she failed to contest an injunction under the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act.(6)

The implications of sections 121-123 have been missed by most MPs and most of the press (the alternative magazine Schnews is an exception)(7). In the Commons debate on February 7th, the Home Office minister, Caroline Flint, insisted that "we do not intend those who legitimately leaflet against an organisation … to be caught under the new offence."(8) But the Home Office also claimed that neither the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act nor the Terrorism Act 2000 would be used against protesters, and both those claims turn out to have been false. What counts is what the law says, not what the minister claims it says.

But these legal boulders, like the other repressive measures in the bill, have been cleverly hidden behind pebbles by the Home Office. The religious incitement law has become a marvellous distraction from the greater dangers in the bill. The harassment provisions have been tangled up by ministers with the new sanctions against intimidation and threatening behaviour by animal rights protesters (142-146). The measures which the government claims are meant to stop fake butlers breaking into the royal palaces and to prevent the lone anti-war protester Brian Haw from camping on the pavement in Parliament Square (sections 125-135) also have the effect of banning any spontaneous protest outside Parliament or in Trafalgar Square, and of permitting the Secretary of State to ban demonstrations in places "designated" by him "in the interests of national security." Which means they will be used to prevent protests at airbases, arms exhibitions, government buildings and anywhere else of symbolic or practical importance.

Add these measures to those enshrined in the 1986 Public Order Act, the 1992 Trade Union Act, the 1994 Criminal Justice Act, the 1997 Protection from Harrassment Act, the 2000 Terrorism Act, the 2001 Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, the 2001 Criminal Justice and Police Act, the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act and the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act, and you find that there is no kind of protest, of any efficacy whatsoever, that the police or courts will not be able to prevent and punish if they choose. And the last nail is now being driven down without serious public or parliamentary debate.

Do we surrender our freedoms so lightly? Do we turn our backs on those who were stretched and flayed and disembowelled to obtain them? Or is there another Dave Morris and another Helen Steel prepared to fight – for the rest of their lives if necessary – for the freedom to tell the powerful that they are treading on our toes?

1. Geoff Meade, 16th February 2005. McLibel Euro Victory Puts Spotlight on Law. Birmingham Post.
2. Section 124, or Schedule 10.
3. Simon Dally, pers comm, 4th August 2004 and 21st February 2005. Simon Dally acted as legal adviser in this case.
4. ibid.
5. ibid.
6. No author, 29th October 2004. Harassment Life Sciences. Schnews, Issue 471. Justice?, Brighton; Letter from Lynn Sawyer to Animal Aid, 8th November 2004.
7. No author, 4th February 2005, Are You Serious? Schnews, Issue 483. Justice?, Brighton.
8. Hansard, 7th February 2005. Column 1251..

Six killed in Iraq violence; Australia puts Zarqawi on terror list

BAGHDAD - At least two people were killed on Saturday when a bomb exploded near the headquarters of Iraq’s leading Sunni Muslim religious organisation, as four others died in attacks elswhere and a number of Iraqis were reported snatched in a spate of kidnappings.

The violence rumbled on a day after four US soldiers and 13 Iraqis were killed and three British soldiers jailed for abusing Iraqi civilians.

It also came as the extremist network led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al Qaeda supremo in Iraq and one of the world’s most-wanted men, was banned under Australia’s counter-terrorism laws.

Zarqawi’s group has claimed responsibility for bombings, kidnappings and murders in Iraq, including the recent bombing of the Australian embassy in which two Iraqis were killed and two Australian soldiers wounded.

A group linked to Zarqawi claimed responsibility for an attack Friday that killed three of the US soldiers.

A pamphlet handed out north of Baghdad, signed by the Omar al-Hadid Brigade, said “Tarmiya was the tomb of dozens of their soldiers who were given a lesson that they will never forget.” It pledged yet more “painful strikes” against the US Army in the coming five days.

Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock said “the advice is that (Zarqawi’s) organisation has played a significant role in a large number of identified attacks that have occurred in Iraq. Our interest is to have the organisation prescribed.”

Ruddock said any Australian found involved with Zarqawi would be charged.

Amid the daily diet of ambushes and bombings, a US general has ruled out a timeline for a full transfer of security to Iraqi security as the political bargaining for a new government, premier and president lumbered on.

Two people were killed and two wounded in Baghdad when a bomb went off as a car passed near the Umm al-Qura mosque, headquarters of the Committee of Muslim Scholars, which groups Iraq’s senior Sunni clerics, said witnesses and medics.

Three Iraqi women died when mortar rounds struck homes in the area around Dhuluiyah, said security sources.

And on the main road between the northern oil capital of Kirkuk and Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, a Turkish driver burnt to death in the cabin of his truck after it was hit by an anti-tank rocket, police said.

More than 20 other Iraqis were wounded in two mortar attacks near the rebel cities of Samarra and Balad, police and medics said.

South of Baghdad, an insurgent died when when his car exploded prematurely near a police roadblock in the town of Mussaieb, said police.

Meanwhile, police said 11 people, including four women, a policeman and two civil servants, have been kidnapped in a string of abductions since Friday in the same area south of Baghdad, known as the “triangle of death”.

Gunmen snatched the four women in four separate incidents in the towns of Latifiyah and Mahmudiyah on Friday.

Two of them had been travelling back with their families from pilgrimage to the Shiite Muslim holy city of Karbala when they were ambushed on the road.

In Germany, three British soldiers were jailed Friday for abusing Iraqi civilians and were dishonourably discharged from the army.

Corporal Daniel Kenyon, 33, was jailed for 18 months after being found guilty of three charges.

Lance Corporal Mark Cooley, 25, was jailed for two years for disgraceful and cruel conduct for driving a forklift truck with a bound Iraqi suspended from the prongs.

Lance Corporal Darren Larkin, 30, was sentenced to five months in jail after he pleaded guilty to assault. He had been pictured standing on an Iraqi.

Britain’s army chief, General Mike Jackson, and Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon apologized to Iraqis for the soldiers’ behavior.

Jackson said he was “appalled and disappointed” when he first saw photographs of the Iraqis being mistreated at a camp near Basra in May 2003, which emerged at the trial.

As political maneuvring for a new Iraqi government continued back in Baghdad, a US general said there was still no timeline for US troops to fully hand authority to their Iraqi counterparts.

Major General William Webster, who takes over responsibility for security in Baghdad on Sunday, said such a move, a mantra for US officials and military leaders since the 2003 invasion, would be ”event-driven”.

The Iraqi army numbers more than 50,000 soldiers. The government has said it wants 100,000 troops trained by July and 150,000 by year-end.

On the diplomatic front, interim Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawar received an invitation from Algerian National Assembly President Abdul Kader Ben Saleh to attend the March 22-23 annual Arab League summit to be held in Algiers.

Ten killed, 11 kidnapped in Iraq
Attackers blast northern Iraqi oil pipeline
US Marine killed in western Iraq offensive
Marines sweep Haditha in Iraq’s Anbar province
Powell cricises post-Iraq war troop levels


PILGER: The Struggle For Memory In Free Societies

<>How does thought control work in societies that call themselves free? Why are famous journalists so eager, almost as a reflex, to minimise the culpability of political leaders such as Bush and Blair who share responsibility for the unprovoked attack on a defenceless people, for laying to waste their land and for killing at least 100,000 people, most of them civilians, having sought to justify this epic crime with demonstrable lies? What does BBC reporter describe the invasion of Iraq as "a vindication for Blair"? Why have broadcasters never associated the British or American state with terrorism? Why have such privileged communicators, with unlimited access to the facts, lined up to describe an unobserved, unverified, illegitimate, cynically manipulated election, held under a brutal occupation, as "democratic" with the pristine aim of being "free and fair"?

Do they not read history? Or is the history they know, or choose to know, subject to such amnesia and omission that it produces a world view as seen only through a one-way moral mirror? There is no suggestion of conspiracy. This one-way mirror ensures that most of humanity is regarded in terms of its usefulness to "us", its desirability or expendability, its worthiness or unworthiness: for example, the notion of "good" Kurds in Iraq and "bad" Kurds in Turkey. The unerring assumption is that "we" in the dominant west have moral standards superior to "them". One of "their" dictators (often a former client of ours, like Saddam Hussein) kills thousands of people and he is declared a monster, a second Hitler. When one of our leaders does the same, he is viewed, at worst like Blair, in Shakespearean terms. Those who kill people with car bombs are "terrorists"; those who kill far more people with cluster bombs are the noble occupants of a "quagmire".

Historical amnesia can spread quickly. Only ten years after the Vietnam war, which I reported, an opinion poll in the United States found that a third of Americans could not remember which side their government had supported. This demonstrated the insidious power of the dominant propaganda, that the war was essentially a conflict of "good" Vietnamese against "bad" Vietnamese, in which the Americans became "involved", bringing democracy to the people of southern Vietnam faced with a "communist threat". Such a false and dishonest assumption permeated the media coverage, with honourable exceptions. The truth is that the longest war of the 20th century was a war waged against Vietnam, north and south, communist and non-communist, by America. It was an unprovoked invasion of their homeland and their lives, just like the invasion of Iraq. Amnesia ensures that, while the relatively few deaths of the invaders are constantly acknowledged, the deaths of up to five million Vietnamese are consigned to oblivion.

What are the roots of this? Certainly, "popular culture", especially Hollywood movies, can decide what and how little we remember. Selective education at a tender age performs the same task. I have been sent a widely used revision guide for students of modern world history, on Vietnam and the cold war. This is learned by 14 to 16-year-olds in British schools, sitting for the critical GCSE exam. It informs their understanding of a pivotal historical period, which must influence how they make sense of today's news from Iraq and elsewhere.

It is shocking. It says that under the 1954 Geneva agreement: "Vietnam was partitioned into communist north and democratic south." In one sentence, truth is dispatched. The final declaration of the Geneva conference divided Vietnam "temporarily" until free national elections were held on 26 July 1956. There was little doubt that Ho Chi Minh would win and form Vietnam's first democratically elected government. Certainly, President Eisenhower was in no doubt of this. "I have never talked with a person knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs," he wrote, "who did not agree that... 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader."

Not only did the United States refuse to allow the UN to administer the agreed elections two years later, but the "democratic" regime in the south was an invention. One of the inventors, the CIA official Ralph McGehee, describes in his masterly book Deadly Deceits how a brutal expatriate mandarin, Ngo Dinh Diem, was imported from New Jersey to be "president" and a fake government was put in place. "The CIA", he wrote, "was ordered to sustain that illusion through propaganda [placed in the media]."

Phoney elections were arranged, hailed in the west as "free and fair", with American officials fabricating "an 83 per cent turnout despite Vietcong terror". The guide alludes to none of this, nor that "the terrorists", whom the Americans called the Vietcong, were also southern Vietnamese defending their homeland against the American invasion and whose resistance was popular. For Vietnam, read Iraq.

The tone of this tract is from the point of view of "us". There is no sense that a national liberation movement existed in Vietnam, merely "a communist threat", merely the propaganda that "the USA was terrified that many other countries might become communist and help the USSR - they didn?t want to be outnumbered", merely that President Johnson "was determined to keep South Vietnam communist-free" (emphasis as in the original). This proceeds quickly to the Tet Offensive in 1968, which "ended in the loss of thousands of American lives - 14,000 in 1969 - most were young men". There is no mention of the millions of Vietnamese lives also lost in the offensive. And America merely began "a bombing campaign": there is no mention of the greatest tonnage of bombs dropped in the history of warfare, of a military strategy that was deliberately designed to force millions of people to abandon their homes, and of chemicals used in a manner that profoundly changed the environment and the genetic order, leaving a once-bounty ful land all but ruined.

This revision guide reflects the bias and distortions reflect of the official syllabuses, such as the prestiugous syllabus from Oxford and Cambridge, used all over the world as a model. Its cold war section refers to Soviet "expansionism" and the "spread" of communism; there is not a word about the "spread" of rapacious America. One of its "key questions" is: "How effectively did the USA contain the spread of communism?" Good versus evil for untutored minds.

"Phew, loads for you to learn here..." say the authors of the revision guide, "so get it learned right now." Phew, the British empire did not happen; there is nothing about the atrocious colonial wars that were models for the successor power, America, in Indonesia, Vietnam, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, to name but a few along modern history's imperial trail of blood, of which Iraq is the latest.

And now Iran? The drumbeat has already begun. How many more innocent people have to die before those who filter the past and the present wake up to their moral responsibility to protect our memory and the lives of human beings?

First published in the New Statesman -
Feb 26, 2005

Saboteurs Blow Up Iraqi Oil Pipeline

An oil pipeline in northern Iraq was ablaze Saturday after saboteurs blew it up in the latest attack against the insurgent-wracked country's vital oil industry. In the capital, a roadside bomb blast killed two people, officials and witnesses said.

The violence came one day after the government announced the arrest of a man it described as a key figure in the country's most feared terrorist group, and a top official said the noose was tightening around its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The pipeline, which connects oil fields in Dibis with the northern city of Kirkuk, about 35 kilometers (20 miles) to the southeast, was destroyed late Friday, an official of the state-run North Oil Co. said on condition of anonymity. He said it would take at least four days to repair the line.

Insurgents have regularly targeted Iraq's oil infrastructure, cutting exports and denying the country funds badly needed for reconstruction.

In Baghdad, insurgents detonated a roadside bomb in the west of the city, killing two civilians who were passing by in a vehicle at the time. Their slumped bodies could be seen in a small white car littered with holes from flying shrapnel, its windshield smashed in the blast.

It was not clear what the target of the attack was. U.S. Lt. Col. Clifford Kent said a U.S. tank was nearby at the time, but it was not damaged.

``While we were going to work, just we arrived near those tanks, the blast occurred. And as you see, blood soaked us for doing nothing,'' Mohammed al-Duleimi, told Associated Press Television News.

In the northern city of Mosul, residents found the body of Raiedah Mohammed Wageh Wazan, a presenter for the local state TV station who'd been missing since Feb. 20 when she was kidnapped by masked gunmen, her husband Salim Saad-Allah said. Her corpse was found Friday. She had been shot in the head.

A suicide bomber in a car killed an Iraqi national guardsman and injured 7 people, including two civilians, near Musayyib about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Baghdad, Police Cap. Muthana Khalid said .

Earlier a car bomb exploded near a convoy of Iraqi National Guard troops in Iskandariyah, witnesses said, also south of Baghdad. No casualties were reported.

Also Saturday, the U.S. command announced the death a day earlier of a U.S. soldier killed a during operations west of the capital in Anbar province, where the military launched a massive sweep last week to root out insurgents.

Three other U.S. soldiers were killed and nine wounded Friday when insurgents ambushed a U.S. patrol in Tarmiyah, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Another soldier died of ``non-battle injuries'' Friday, the military said, adding it was investigating the incident.

The operation to sweep out insurgents in Ramadi and other Euphrates River cities began Sunday. Witnesses said U.S. forces clashed Saturday with insurgents in central Ramadi. Five wounded were treated at a local hospital, said Dr. Munim al-Alawni.

In Haditha, as in other towns in Anbar province, U.S. military vehicles equipped with loudspeakers drove through streets offering US$25 million (euro19 million) for information leading to the arrest of al-Zarqawi - thought to be one of the masterminds behind a wave of car bombings, kidnappings, and beheadings across Iraq.

``We are very close to al-Zarqawi, and I believe that there are few weeks separating us from him,'' Iraq's interim national security adviser, Mouwafak al-Rubaie, told The Associated Press.

He described the latest alleged terrorist capture as another blow to al-Zarqawi's organization, still reeling from previous arrests and the killing of Omar Hadid, another of his senior aides, in November's assault on the city of Fallujah.

Talib Mikhlif Arsan Walman al-Dulaymi, also known as Abu Qutaybah, was arrested Sunday in a raid by Iraqi security services in Annah, a Sunni triangle town 160 miles (257 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, the government said.

The government said Al-Dulaymi was a top aide to the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi, who has described himself as al-Qaida's leader in Iraq. Al-Dulaymi was responsible for finding safe houses and transportation for members of the terrorist group, according to the announcement.

Also arrested in Sunday's raid was Ahmad Khalid Marad Ismail al-Rawi, identified as one of al-Zarqawi's drivers. Both have family names indicating they are from the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, west of Baghdad.

Iraqi authorities have been eager to promote the message that they are making headway in their fight against the insurgency. Earlier this week, state television broadcast what it said were confessions by Syrian-trained militants.

On Thursday, the government said it had captured the leader of an al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist cell in Baqouba, north of Baghdad, who was allegedly responsible for carrying out a string of beheadings in Iraq. And last week, police said they'd arrested two other leaders of the insurgency in Baqouba, including a top aide to al-Zarqawi named Haidar Abu Bawari.

But al-Dulaymi's role was crucial because he ``filled the role of key lieutenant for the al-Zarqawi network, arranging safe houses and transportation as well as passing packages and funds to al-Zarqawi,'' the government said.

It added that ``his extensive contacts and operational ability throughout western Iraq made him a critical figure in the Zarqawi network.''

According to al-Rubaie, government security services managed to infiltrate al-Zarqawi's network - a possible sign of its growing weakness.

``The Iraqi security forces have managed to insert embedded policemen inside the al-Zarqawi group, and the second element is that the Iraqi people, especially those in the so-called Sunni triangle, became more cooperative in informing the police about terrorists' activities and movement - especially the foreigners,'' al-Rubaie said.

Confronting the violence will be the top priority of Iraq's new government, and the country came one step closer to acquiring a prime minister after Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani endorsed conservative Islamic Dawa party leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari for the job.

The Iranian-born al-Sistani is the country's most powerful Shiite cleric, and his endorsement should solidify al-Jaafari's nomination by the United Iraq Alliance, which emerged the dominant political force in Jan. 30 elections.


Associated Press writer Yahya Barzanji in Kirkuk contributed to this report.
Saturday February 26, 2005 1:16 PM
By SAMEER N. YACOUB Associated Press Writer

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005