National Guard under fire for anti-Islam display

Posted on Mon, Jul. 11, 2005

National Guard under fire for anti-Islam display

Mercury News Sacramento Bureau

Already under scrutiny for setting up a controversial new intelligence unit and keeping tabs on a Mother's Day anti-war protest, the California National Guard is taking new heat for an anti-Islamic flyer that was hanging in its Sacramento headquarters.

Islamic groups and anti-war activists criticized the Guard on Monday after learning that one Guard soldier had a historically suspect flyer touting World War I General John J. Pershing as a hero for executing Muslim terrorists with bullets dipped in pig's blood to deny them entry to heaven.

``Maybe it is time for this segment of history to repeat itself, maybe in Iraq?'' states the flyer that was posted outside a cubicle in the Guard's Civil Support Division. ``The question is, where do we find another Black Jack Pershing?''

The flyer, which has circulated since Sept. 11 as a hard-line tale for fighting Islamic terrorists, raised concerns for some activists about the mind-set of Guard soldiers.

``It's troubling to see a governmental organization dedicated to the security of our country promoting culturally and religiously insensitive ideas,'' said William Youmans, media relations manager for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Santa Clara. ``It's very possible to combat terrorism without offending the cultural values of a major world religion.''

Initially, a Guard spokesman defended the flyer Monday as ``historically accurate,'' but called back later to say that it had been removed because of concerns raised by the activists.

``Evidently,'' said Lt. Col. Doug Hart, ``somebody didn't like it so they took it down.''

Below the Pershing tribute is a second flyer with the wings and tail of a bomber forming the legs of a peace sign with the slogan: Peace the old fashioned way. There's also a cartoon from a Web site known as that depicts a Red Crescent ambulance stuffed with weapons and a cartoon figure that looks like the late-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat unloading the cargo.

The flyers came to light after a group of anti-war activists were invited to tour the Guard headquarters last week to allay their concerns about a new intelligence unit that has been given wide latitude to set up new anti-terrorism projects in California.

State Sen. Joe Dunn is investigating the program, first reported last month by the Mercury News, as well as the Guard's monitoring of a Mother's Day anti-war rally near the State Capitol.

During the tour, CodePink activist Jackie Thomason snapped a quick photo of the display and said she was shocked to read the Pershing tribute.

``It makes it sound like what we are doing is some sort of religious war,'' said Thomason, who is also a volunteer on the GI Rights Hotline, a coalition of nonprofit groups that offers advice and help to soldiers.

The Pershing flyer recounts a tale -- which may have been embellished or entirely woven of legend -- that resurfaced after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. According to the tale, Pershing captured 50 Muslim extremists before World War I while stationed in the Philippines. He tied 49 of the men up, slaughtered two pigs in front of them, dipped bullets in the pig's blood and had the men executed, believing that by doing so they would doom the men to hell.

The extremists were then buried in pig's blood and parts while one survivor was set free to relate the horrifying tale. For the next 42 years, the flyer states, there were no Muslim terrorist attacks in the world.

Whether the story is true remains unclear. Pershing is said to have threatened to bury Philippine rebels in pig skins and splatter pig's blood on their houses, but some historians have been unable to verify the story of Pershing overseeing the controversial execution.

The Guard incident is not the first time the tale has raised a protest. Two years ago a Massachusetts state senator distributed the same story to colleagues and later apologized after Islamic groups voiced outrage.

Since Sept. 11, the United States has had to defend itself against several incidents in which the military used degrading efforts to humiliate Muslims, including forcing prisoners in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison to masturbate and smearing faux menstrual blood to get an inmate at Guantanamo Bay to talk. Most recently, a now-retracted report that guards at the island prison flushed a Koran down the toilet sparked deadly riots in Pakistan.

On Monday, Islamic, Arab-American and anti-war groups called the Pershing flyer reprehensible. They praised the Guard for taking the flyer down, but said more may need to be done to educate the citizen soldiers.

``Muslims are not our enemies,'' said Ruth Robertson, a member of Raging Grannies who saw the flyer. ``I'm sure some Muslims are members of the National Guard.''

Contact Dion Nissenbaum at or (916) 441-4603.

Media Death Toll Still Mounting in Iraq

Media Death Toll Still Mounting in Iraq
by Aaron Glantz
July 12, 2005

t's time the U.S. military stopped shooting journalists.

In the last three weeks, American soldiers have killed at least four journalists in Iraq – each while the reporter was driving his car.

Two of the cases are especially telling.

There is the case of Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi correspondent for Knight Ridder newspapers. He was driving alone in his own West Baghdad neighborhood when an American sniper's bullet pierced his windshield and struck him in the head as he approached a U.S. military patrol.

Four days later, a news producer for Iraq's independent (that is, not controlled by the occupation) TV-station, al-Sharqiyah, was shot to death as he drove to his in-laws home in southern Baghdad. The Associated Press reports U.S. soldiers fired on his car 15 times when he failed to pull over for an American convoy.

Those killings, plus the shooting death of a Baghdad TV editor and a stringer for a Western news agency, bring the total number of journalists killed by U.S. forces in Iraq to 17, according to the International Federation of Journalists.

So much for freedom of speech and democracy.

Unembedded journalists in Iraq are also frequently arrested by the U.S. military. On June 17, the director of the daily newspaper al-Sabah (which is funded by U.S. taxpayers) was detained by American soldiers during one of the military's regular security sweeps. A week later, U.S. troops detained an Associated Press Television News cameraman in Fallujah. Both have since been released, but the situation in Iraq is hardly free. The most important Arab media outlet, al-Jazeera television, remains banned from Iraq.

Hearing these stories, I think about my own time as an unembedded journalist in Iraq. In six months reporting from the ground, I never once had a gun pointed at me by an "insurgent," but on two occasions I felt personally threatened by an American soldier's machine gun.

The first incident occurred at the beginning of the occupation. I had just arrived in Baghdad in a beat-up orange and white checkered taxi and was pulling up to a meeting at the al-Fanar hotel across the street from the mammoth Palestine Hotel, where many military contractors were staying. The soldier, who had to be younger than 20, was under orders to block all Iraqis from entering the hotel compound. When I got out of the car to explain that I was an American journalist, my brown hair and mustache giving me the appearance of a native, he cocked his gun before I spoke. Fortunately, my traveling companion was a blond. When the soldier saw my friend, disaster was averted.

A year later, when insurgents blew up the Lebanon Hotel in Baghdad, I faced death again. Rushing over to cover the explosion, I grabbed my camera and tape recorder. But when I lifted my camera to photograph an American soldier on top of a tank, he cocked his gun and screamed, "No photos! No journalists!"

What are we to make of all these stories? At the very least, the Pentagon owes journalists an explanation because to date, no American soldier has been punished for killing or arresting a reporter.

And the obvious: U.S. soldiers need to stop shooting journalists.

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Iraq suspects suffocate in heat

Iraq suspects suffocate in heat

Nine building workers have died in Iraq after being arrested on suspicion of insurgent activity and then left in a closed metal container.

Three men survived the ordeal, police sources said, despite being left for 14 hours in the burning Iraqi summer heat.

They had apparently been caught up in a firefight between US troops and Iraqi gunmen, and were detained after taking an injured colleague to hospital.

Police commandos face numerous claims that they abuse and torture detainees.

Meanwhile, gunmen have attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint north of Baghdad, killing at least nine soldiers.

Scorching heat

Police sources told the BBC that at least 12 men had been arrested on Sunday after they had taken a colleague to hospital in Ameriya with gunshot wounds.

A local resident, thinking they were insurgents, called the police, who sent commandos to arrest the men.

At about midday, they were put into a metal container and by nightfall eight prisoners were dead and three were in a critical condition.

The survivors were taken to a central Baghdad hospital where staff said a ninth man died.

The Iraqi capital suffers scorching heat during the summer months, with temperatures often reaching 50 degrees.

A doctor told the BBC that one of the survivors had said he had been given repeated electric shocks by the commandos.

The survivors were kept under police guard as they were treated and were taken away without being allowed to speak to journalists.

Recent UK press reports have alleged police commandos systematically torture and abuse detainees. The security forces themselves are the target of much of Iraq's insurgency violence.

Checkpoint ambush

Gunmen struck early on Monday at Iraqi army checkpoint in Khalis, near Baquba, about 65km (40 miles) north-east of the capital.

The raid began shortly after dawn and lasted more than 30 minutes, with gunmen using assault rifles, mortars and machine guns during the attack.

As reinforcements were sent to the scene a car bomb exploded, causing casualties among both soldiers and civilians. Nine soldiers were killed.

The BBC's Joe Floto in Baghdad says this kind of infantry-style assault by insurgents is uncommon, but it demonstrates their ability to gather in armed units and mount coordinated and relatively well-resourced attacks.

Two US marines were killed on Sunday during security operations in the town of Hit, 150 kilometres (90 miles) west of Baghdad, the US military has announced.

In Baghdad, relatives have buried a mother and eight of her children who were killed in their beds in the Baladiyat area on Sunday.

Neighbours said the victims - Shias, the youngest of whom was two years old - had all been shot in the head. The father, who slept outside the house that night, said he believed the attack had sectarian motives.

Blair's responsibility

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update - 11:02 11/07/2005
Blair's responsibility
By Akiva Eldar

The reaction of Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair proves that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's instincts - which led his ministers to make do with expressions of shock, condolence and concern over the convalescence of the victims of the explosions in England - did not mislead him. The global advice of Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the preaching of Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, did not make an impression on Blair. In an interview he gave the BBC he suddenly turned Israel from a partner to a common fate to a partner in blame. He declared that "the solution cannot only be security measures," and put promotion of peace in the Middle East in second place on the list of the deep-seated causes of terrorism, which we "must start to pull up by the roots."

Terror looks different from 10 Downing Street. A year ago, when Sharon visited there, Blair heard that the eradication of the terror organizations and the removal of Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat were a condition to any progress in the political channel. At the time, he was not in a rush to handle the Middle Eastern conflict, or the separation fence or the illegal outposts. He was concerned with the attacks against his soldiers in Iraq and with the attacks against him for abandoning them in a war that wasn't theirs. He was grateful to the guest who sent his people to tell the British journalists that the findings about the Iraqi weapons of destruction were "certified and genuine."

In late 2004, Blair stood in the White House and nodded his head when he heard another meaningless declaration by his partner to the war, U.S. President George W. Bush, regarding his willingness to work together with a Palestinian leadership that would be committed to the war against terror and to democratic reforms. Blair returned to London without Bush's consent to an international peace conference. The British leader, who is eating crow because of his support for the problematic U.S. war against Iraq, took back his proposal to appoint a high-ranking presidential envoy to promote the "road map" peace plan. He took it back and remained silent.

Six months ago, when Blair came to Jerusalem, Sharon did not have to make much effort to convince his guest that in our case, dealing with terror takes precedence over dealing with the conflict. He announced publicly and in front of a group of journalists that "there will be no successful peace negotiations without an end to terror." Haaretz reported that in closed talks, Blair was even more outspoken. He promised to tell the Palestinians that if the terror did not end, they could forget about assistance and political support. PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), who was then taking his first steps in the Muqata, picked up the gauntlet and came out strongly against the violent intifada. Blair, like the other European leaders, the patrons of the road map, aligned himself with the policy delineated by Bush: Quiet, we're disengaging.

The Al-Qaida attack on the United States erased the dividers between Palestinian terror, which is directed against the occupation, and Islamic terror, which is directed against Western culture. The situation has changed to such an extent that Bush and Sharon are preaching democracy to people who are living under the occupation of foreign armies. It's a shame that the message got through only after the disaster occurred at home. Hopefully, 7/7 will put an end to 9/11 and be the start of a proper campaign in the struggle against terror.


Scores killed in Pakistan train crash

Pakistani villagers and rescuers gather
around the wreckage of three trains
following a crash in Ghotki.
Photograph: Aamir Qureshi/Getty

Wednesday July 13, 2005

Three passenger trains collided in southern Pakistan early this morning, killing over 100 people, local police said.

The accident occurred at about 4am local time when a train sitting in a station near Ghotki, in the southern Sindh province, was hit by a second train. The collision caused several carriages to derail and spill over onto another track, where they were struck by the third train, causing further derailment.

"So far, we have taken out at least 120 bodies," police official Shabbir Billo told Reuters from near the scene of the crash.

"It is a very gruesome situation," police official Aga Mohammed Tahir told Associated Press.

"Rescue workers have started to pull the dead and injured out. There were many people inside and there are a lot of casualties."

Mr Tahir said that at least 13 train carriages derailed, and that the injured were being taken in ambulances and cars to area hospitals.

"They are being pulled out every minute," he said.

Ghotki is about 370 miles north-east of Karachi, in the remote Sindh province. Aziz said rescue teams had been dispatched, but that it could take some time for them to reach the site in force.

A second railway official, Sajjad Ahmed, said the train in the station was the Quetta Express, which was bringing passengers from the eastern city of Lahore to the south-western city of Quetta when it developed a technical problem.

Technicians were working on the train when it was hit by the Karachi Express, a night-coach passenger train from Lahore to the southern port city of Karachi.

The impact pushed three carriages onto an adjacent track, and they in turn were hit by the oncoming Tezgam Express, which was bringing people from Karachi north to Rawalpindi, near the capital.

Pakistan's railways are antiquated, and dozens of people have been killed in train accidents in recent years.

On March 5, five people were killed and 25 injured when a passenger train derailed in eastern Punjab province. In September 2003 a train hit packed bus in central Pakistan, killing at least 27 people and injuring six others.


In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that foreign-flag cruise ships operating in U.S. waters were places of "public accommodation" under the Americans with Disabilities Act and must remove barriers impeding disabled passengers unless the removal of a barrier would adversely impact the safety of the vessel.

A group of disabled passengers and their traveling companions booked cruises departing from Houston in 1998 and 1999 on ships owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd.

After returning from their cruises, the passengers filed a class-action lawsuit against Norwegian in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, claiming the cruise ships were not fully accessible to disabled passengers in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Title III of the law prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals in the full and equal enjoyment of public accommodations.

Entities providing public accommodations must, among other things, "remove architectural and structural barriers, or if barrier removal is not readily achievable, must ensure equal access for the disabled through alternative methods," the law says.

The plaintiffs complained that the ships' coamings, the raised edges around exterior doors, impeded access to people who use wheelchairs or scooters to get around.

U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey granted Norwegian's motion to dismiss the passengers' barrier claim and the passengers appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which affirmed the lower court ruling.

On the issue of Title III's applicability to foreign-flag ships, the 5th Circuit determined that Title III did not apply in U.S. waters based on rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court in Benz v. Compania Naviera Hildalgo S.A., 353 U.S. 138 (1957) and McCulloch v. Sociedad Nacional de Marineros de Honduras, 372 U.S. 10 (1963).

In those decisions, the appellate court said that without a clear indication of congressional intent, general statutes do not apply to foreign-flag ships. Therefore, the court found that Title III did not apply in this case.

The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed in a 5-4 decision.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy delivered the decision for the majority, which included himself and Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen G. Breyer.

Justices Antonin Scalia, Sandra Day O'Connor, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist dissented in a separate opinion.

The majority ruled that Title III is applicable to foreign-flag ships operating in U.S. waters because the ships are a "public accommodation" and a "specified public transportation" under the law. The justices based their decision on "conventional principles of interpretation."

However, the majority ruled that cruise ships would not have to remove coamings under the ADA's barrier-removal provisions if the removals would fundamentally alter the structural design of the ship or conflict with safety provisions of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.

The dissenting justices said the majority had impermissibly stretched Title III to cover foreign cruise ships. Justice Scalia wrote the dissent, joined by Rehnquist, O'Connor and Thomas.

Justice Scalia was troubled by the majority's conclusion that even though Title III did not explicitly include foreign-flag ships in its coverage, they applied it to foreign-flag ships absent clear congressional intent.

"Title III of the ADA stands in contrast to other statutes in which Congress has made clear its intent to extend its laws to foreign ships," he said. Since there is no clear indication that Title III applies to foreign-flag cruise ships, Justice Scalia said the court should have concluded that Title III did not apply.

Spector v. Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd., No. 03-1388, 125 S. Ct. 2169 (U.S. June 6, 2005).
Disability Litigation Reporter
Volume 02, Issue 09
Copyright 2005

'They wanted to be known': Suicide bombers had IDs

'They wanted to be known': Suicide bombers had IDs
By Jose Martinez
Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - Updated: 11:33 AM EST

A worried mother's phone call from Leeds to police hours after explosions ripped through the London Underground and a double-decker bus gave the first clue as to who was behind Western Europe's first-ever suicide bombings.
His name was Hasib Hussain, 19, a youth from Leeds whose decapitated head was found at Tavistock Square - a tell-tale sign he died clutching the 10-pound backpack of explosives used to destroy the No. 3 bus.
Investigators believe his mates, all about the same age from the same northern city, used similar bombs to blow themselves up aboard crowded subway trains Thursday morning. Two militant Islamic groups have claimed responsibility for the bombings that killed at least 52 people and injured more than 700. Fifty-six people remained hospitalized.
Police had no need of DNA evidence to identify the suspected bombers as the men were all carrying personal documents.
``It is as if they wanted their identities to be known,'' a police source told the Times of London. ``Their names will never be forgotten.''
Based on the documents found at the bomb sites, authorities yesterday raided several homes in the suburbs around Leeds, an ethnically diverse city with a large Muslim population about 185 miles north of London.
Khalid Muneer, 28, a spokesman for the Hyde Park Mosque in Leeds, said the community was surprised by the raids and police claims that the bombers may have come from there.
``I've seen no calls in this area for jihad against British or American forces. You will not get that sentiment expressed around this mosque,'' he said.
British soldiers blasted their way into what turned out to be an unoccupied row house, and authorities executed search warrants on five other homes in the area in search of computer files and explosives. One of the bomber's relatives was arrested, according to the British news agency Press Association.
``This is not good for Muslims,'' Mohammed Iqbal, a town councilor who represents the City-on-Hunslet section of Leeds, told The Associated Press. ``We have businesses here. There will be a backlash.''
Investigators believe 24-year-old Shehzad Tanweer rented a Nissan Micra and drove to Luton, where he joined the other three aboard a Thameslink commuter train to King's Cross. They arrived about 8:30 a.m. and, according to the Times, can be seen conferring on the concourse before moving out, each carrying a rucksack.
Hussain is clearly visible in the distinctive shirt described to police by his mother, who said her son said he was bound for London to see friends.
Investigators have not said who they believe made the military-grade explosives or whether the four bombers had outside help.

First Muslim killed in feared backlash against London bombings

First Muslim killed in feared backlash against London bombings

London, July 13, IRNA

London Bombings-Muslim Killed
A 48-year old man from Pakistan has been beaten to death outside a corner shop by a gang of youths in what is believed to be the first Muslim killed in a backlash against last week's bombings in London.

Kamal Raza Butt, who was visiting family and friends, died in hospital after being attacked while buying some cigarettes in Nottingham, central England on Sunday afternoon.

According to the Guardian newspaper Wednesday, the gang of youths shouted anti-Islamic abuse, first calling him 'Taliban' before being beaten unconscious.

Nottinghamshire police were said to have described the incident as racially aggravated, but the Muslim Safety Forum, which has evidenced over three hundred faith and hate crimes against the Muslim community since last Thursday, said it was Islamophobic.

The BBC also reported that nine people were being questioned by the police over what was being described as a "racially-aggravated murder" without making any reference the backlash to the London bombings.

Communities leaders are thought to be concerned about publicizing the killing for fear of heightening the anxiety and alarm among Muslims.

The attack was before police announced on Tuesday that they suspected four British-born Muslims for the London bombings, which some fear will provoke an even greater backlash.



Terrorism Comes with Empire
by Jacob G. Hornberger, July 8, 2005

Question: Why didn’t the terrorists strike Switzerland instead of England? After all, the two countries share the same “freedom and values,” don’t they?

Answer: The Swiss government didn’t attack Iraq. It doesn’t meddle in the Middle East. It didn’t participate in the brutal sanctions against the Iraqi people. It doesn’t maintain an empire of overseas bases. It doesn’t go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. The Swiss government minds its own business.

That’s why the terrorists did not strike Switzerland.

Of course, the same cannot be said of England, whose foreign policy in the Middle East can be summed up as follows: Whatever the U.S. government does, the British government supports and joins. Thus, the British government participated in President Bush’s recent war on Iraq — a war against a sovereign and independent country that never attacked the United States or England or even threatened to do so. It is a war that has produced the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people — not just American and British soldiers, but also Iraqi soldiers and civilians — none of whom had anything to do with the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the United States.

That’s why the terrorists struck in London instead of Bern.

That’s also why the terrorists struck in New York, both in 1993 and 2001, and at the Pentagon.

The terrorist retaliations are rooted in anger and hatred not for American and English “freedom and values,” as President Bush and Prime Minister Blair maintain, but instead in anger and hatred for U.S. and British foreign policy.

Why would it be otherwise? Why should foreigners — especially radical, violent ones — react any differently to the killings and maiming of their family, friends, and countrymen than Westerners do when their family, friends, and countrymen are killed or maimed by foreigners?

Consider the torture, rape, sex abuse, and murder scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Why wouldn’t Middle Easterners react in much the same way that Americans would react if American men were treated in a similar manner in some foreign prison?

What will be the response of government officials to the terrorist strikes in London? You guessed it: more severe government crackdowns on civil liberties to protect us from the terrorists, which not surprisingly was the same position that they were taking before the terrorist strikes in London.

Americans must make a choice — a choice between freedom and peace, on the one hand, and the continuation of the U.S. military empire, on the other hand. They cannot have freedom and peace and the empire. They must choose which is more important to them.

If people choose to continue the empire — and the diplomatic and military glory that comes with being the world’s sole remaining empire — then they must resign themselves to the fact that their lives and freedom will be under perpetual assault by both terrorists and government officials.

For those who want lives of freedom, normality, peace, prosperity, and harmony, there is but one solution: Dismantle the empire; bring the troops home and discharge them into the private sector; stop meddling in the affairs of other nations; stop trying to dominate and control the world; stop going abroad in search of monsters to destroy; stop trying to be the world’s policeman.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.

Galloway speaks on the bombings

From Hansard – House of Commons, 7th July , 4.29pm,

Mr. George Galloway (Bethnal Green and Bow) (Respect): The hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) said that it is a funny old world, and that is certainly true with regard to the issue that he raised. I am, I think, a longer-serving Member of this House than he is, and I remember when the Labour Benches were littered with members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Indeed, Members who wear different badges today used then to sport daily the badges of CND.

Mr. Kevan Jones: Some of them are in the Cabinet.

Mr. Galloway: Indeed; the Cabinet is full of them. That was a time when Britain was facing a Soviet Union and an eastern Europe bristling with thousands upon thousands of intercontinental ballistic missiles, all aimed at us. Now that there is no such adversary, those same Members have swapped their badges. I have no doubt that they will comprehensively vote down the motion tabled by the hon. Member for Pendle at the parliamentary Labour party meeting. As he is a gentle soul, I fear for his safety on that occasion if the reports I hear of the PLP are anything like accurate.

I have been sitting through the debate feeling not that it is a funny old world but that it is another world. The sort of complacent consensus that has crept by osmosis through the Chamber as the hours have passed is so utterly different from, and in contradiction to, the attitude outside in the country and around the world that I became more persuaded than ever that the House of Commons is out of touch with reality.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Gosport (Peter Viggers) is no longer in his place. He may well be an expert on defence procurement matters but, in his mini discourse on Islam, he reminded us of the universal truth that a little knowledge is dangerous. His "Reader's Digest" analysis of Islam and the people of the Muslim world—more than 1,000 million strong—illustrated the chasm between the east and the powerful here in the west.

At least one, perhaps two of the explosions this morning took place in my constituency. Many of those caught up in the events were my constituents, heading to work in the City and the west end. I spent four hours or so this morning at the Royal London hospital in my constituency where the medical staff are toiling, without a break, to deal with the casualties who are being brought in in their scores—perhaps, by now, in their hundreds.

I walked among the emergency workers, including the fire brigade staff, in the very stations that have in the past few weeks had fire engines taken away from them as economy measures. I refer to the fire station at Bethnal Green in my constituency and the fire station in the King's Cross-Euston area—the two places where the fire services are stretched almost to breaking point in dealing with the consequences of this morning's events. The people of the east end and the emergency workers are going about their business calmly and stoically in the way for which our country is famous.

I condemn the act that was committed this morning. I have no need to speculate about its authorship. It is absolutely clear that Islamist extremists, inspired by the al-Qaeda world outlook, are responsible. I condemn it utterly as a despicable act, committed against working people on their way to work, without warning, on tubes and buses. Let there be no equivocation: the primary responsibility for this morning's bloodshed lies with the perpetrators of those acts.

However, it would be crass to do other than what the Secretary of State for Defence in a way invited us to do. We cannot separate the acts from the political backdrop. They did not come out of a clear blue sky, any more than those monstrous mosquitoes that struck the twin towers and other buildings in the United States on 9/11 2001. The Defence Secretary said that we must look at the causal circumstances behind the problems of security and defence in the world. I insist that we do so.

If Members examine our debate tomorrow in the cold light of day they will discover a self-evident truth: many Members of Parliament find it easy to feel empathy with people killed in explosions by razor-sharp red-hot steel and splintering flying glass when they are in London, but they can blank out of their mind entirely the fact that a person killed in exactly the same way in Falluja died exactly the same death. When the US armed forces, their backs guarded, as a result of a decision by our politicians, by our armed forces, systematically reduced Falluja, a city the size of Coventry, brick by brick and killed an unknown number of people—probably the number runs to thousands, if not tens of thousands—not a whisper found its way into the Chamber. I have grown used to that. I know that for many people in the House and in power in this country the blood of some people is worth more than the blood of others.

Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) (Con): Will the hon. Gentleman clarify a whisper that has come to the House? Did he say elsewhere today that Londoners had this coming? Is it true that he said that?

Mr. Galloway: That is a despicable smear.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): Order. I remind all hon. Members that we are debating the fourth report of the Defence Committee.

Mr. Galloway: The Minister of State says from a sedentary position that it is more or less right. I take it that that means that it is not right. I have never uttered any such words. The words that I am speaking now are my words. If the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) would care to listen, he can disagree with me, but he should not attempt to put into my mouth words that I have never spoken. Madam Deputy Speaker, I ask for your protection. [Hon. Members: "Oh!"] It is either that, or I shall keep speaking and no one else will—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I have already asked hon. Members to debate the motion on the Order Paper. Perhaps we would all do well to confine our remarks to that.

Mr. Galloway: The exchanges that we have just heard are further evidence of my point that in this bubble people just do not get it. If I cannot touch the heart of the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead with what happened to the people in Falluja, I shall move on to firmer ground.

Does the House not believe that hatred and bitterness have been engendered by the invasion and occupation of Iraq, by the daily destruction of Palestinian homes, by the construction of the great apartheid wall in Palestine and by the occupation of Afghanistan? Does it understand that the bitterness and enmity generated by those great events feed the terrorism of bin Laden and the other Islamists? Is that such a controversial point? Is it not obvious? When I was on the Labour Benches and spoke in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I said that I despise Osama bin Laden. The difference is that I have always despised him. I did so when the Government, in this very House, gave him guns, money and encouragement, and set him to war in Afghanistan. I said that if they handled that event in the wrong way, they would create 10,000 bin Ladens. Does anyone doubt that 10,000 bin Ladens at least have been created by the events of the past two and a half years? If they do, they have their head in the sand.

There are more people in the world today who hate us more intently than they did before as a result of the actions that we have taken. Does this House understand that the pictures from Abu Ghraib prison have inflamed and deepened that sense of hatred around the world and made our position more dangerous? Do Members of this House not understand that Guantanamo Bay has contributed to the sense of bitterness and hatred against us around the world? Does nobody in this House understand that when Palestinians' houses are knocked down, their olive trees cut down and their children shot by Israeli marksmen, an army of people who want to harm us is created? To say that is not to hope that they succeed—I started by making clear, I hope, my utter rejection and condemnation of the events in London this morning.

It does not matter whether Britain replaces the Trident submarine system with another. The threat now, as the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (John Smith) made clear, is not the intercontinental ballistic missiles of other countries but the asymmetrical threat of angry people who hate us and who are ready to exchange their lives for several of ours, or hundreds of ours, or thousands of ours, if they can do so. Is that really so hard to grasp?

Given that one cannot defend oneself against every angry man among the enrag├ęs of the earth, it follows that the only thing we can do is address what the Secretary of State called the causal circumstances that lie behind these events. That means trying to reduce the hatred in the world and trying to deal with the political crises out of which these events have flowed. If, instead of doing that, we remain in this consensual bubble in which we have placed ourselves, we will go on making the same mistakes over and over again. We will go on with Guantanamo Bay. We will go on as we are doing, making Abu Ghraib not smaller as we were told would happen after the photographs were published, but bigger. We will go on with occupation and war as the principal instruments of our foreign and defence policy. If we do that, some people will get through and hurt us as they have hurt us here today, and if we still do not learn the lesson, that dismal, melancholic cycle will continue.

It ought to be common sense that people start from the standpoint that the only thing that matters is whether what we plan to do will make things better or worse. I listened to the Secretary of State lay out the success story of Afghanistan and Iraq, and his account bore no relationship to the truth or reality. He talked about Afghanistan as a success story and about the President of Afghanistan, when everyone knows that Karzai is the president of the congestion charge area of downtown Kabul and no more. He talked about an Afghan army—it is a fantasy. Afghanistan is a patchwork quilt of warlordism, where the warlords' armies dwarf the so-called Afghan national army. He talked about drugs and narcotics: before we invaded the country those lunatics of the Taliban were reducing heroin production in Afghanistan, but the people whom we have put into power there have increased production by 800 per cent. Our armed forces are in Afghanistan and our taxes are being used to support a political structure that is producing 90 per cent. of the junk that ends up in the veins of our young people in Glasgow, east London and many other places in the world.

The Secretary of State talked about Iraq—as if Iraq were any kind of success story. I could not believe my ears as he described, in that complacent, orotund manner, progress over 12 months, 18 months or two years. Iraq is going backwards, not forwards. It is impossible for the Secretary of State to say we shall withdraw in any given time frame, because Iraq is getting worse, not better. There are more people being killed in Iraq now than there were before. More military operations are being conducted by the Iraqi resistance than before. Last Saturday alone, 175 military operations were mounted by the Iraqi resistance on one day.

American soldiers are dying in such numbers that there is now more appreciation of the mistake of the war in Iraq over the pond in the United States than there appears to be here in the British House of Commons. The kind of debate that we have had today would not happen in the US Congress, because US politicians understand the scale of this disaster far better than the politicians in this Chamber appear even to have begun to do.

One thousand, eight hundred American boys, conscripted by poverty, unemployment and poor opportunities, have lost their lives as a result of the pack of lies that was the case for the invasion of Iraq, and 17,000 American boys have been wounded. Ten per cent. of them are amputees, who will have to go around with no legs for the rest of their lives as a result of the pack of lies on which we went to war in Iraq.

Eighty-nine of our own boys, including the son of Rose Gentle from Glasgow, 19-year-old Gordon, were sent to die in Iraq on a pack of lies. The Prime Minister will not even meet Gordon's mother. He will not meet the mother of a 19-year-old boy who was sent to die in Iraq. Last Monday, I was on a television programme and a call came through from the mother of a 17-year-old soldier who was leaving for Iraq the following Monday. He is 17 years old, and he is being sent to Iraq, into that quagmire. The 19-year-old Gordon Gentle is dead. Eighty-eight other young men from this country are dead as a result of this, yet our Ministers roll out their jokes and their cod philosophy here today. They have absolutely no grasp of the gravity of the situation, or of how unpopular their stand has become outside these walls. They have learned nothing from the fact that they lost a million votes as a result of what they did in Iraq, or from the fact that millions in Britain marched against them and begged them not to do this.

The hon. Member for North Durham (Mr. Jones), in an otherwise fine speech, described today's events as "unpredictable". They were not remotely unpredictable. Our own security services predicted them and warned the Government that if we did this we would be at greater risk from terrorist attacks such as the one that we have suffered this morning.

London Patsies: A Replay Of The Pristine 9/11 Passport

London Patsies: A Replay Of The Pristine 9/11 Passport

Jon Rappoport | July 13 2005

The cover stories are flying thick and fast as British investigators try to put some kind of cap on the London attacks.

It turns out, if you believe the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale, that actual IDs of bombers were found in separate piles of rubble at the sites of the blasts.

These IDs must have been engraved deeply in three-foot-thick steel.

Remember the 9/11 hijacker passport that floated out of the crashing jetliner on 9/11 and landed intact on a New York street?

Here is a Sky News report out of London. There are too many points to make up front, so I've inserted comments in caps and brackets as you go:


It is "highly likely" one of the Tube bombers died in the attacks on the Underground network, police say. [LATER IN THIS PIECE WE'LL LEARN THAT IT'S LIKELY ALL THE BOMBERS ARE DEAD.]

The suspected bombers travelled down from the West Yorkshire and met at Kings Cross station shortly before the attacks were launched on Thursday morning, police said at a press conference.

Their images were captured by CCTV cameras.

Personal documents have been found at all four bomb scenes and although the four attackers are thought to have died [OH THEY'RE ALL CONVENIENTLY DEAD BUT THE BOMBS THEMSELVES WERE ON TIMERS, WHICH WOULD HAVE GIVEN THE KILLERS TIME TO WALK AWAY FROM THE BOMBS---I SEE---IT WASN'T SUICIDE BOMBINGS, IT WAS JUST FOUR COINCIDENTAL SCREW-UPS BY THE TERRORISTS THAT RESULTED IN THEIR DEATHS] police were careful not to say whether Britain had suffered its first suicide bomb strike.

Anti-terror police said they had traced the bombers and six arrest warrants have been issued for addresses in West Yorkshire.

Police said there was forensic evidence that meant it was "very likely" the bomber responsible for the train explosion at Aldgate died there. [WHAT EVIDENCE? WILL WE EVER SEE IT?]

One of the four men had been reported missing by his family on the day of the attacks and his property was found at the bus blast scene. The second man's property was found at the scene of the Aldgate blast and the third man's property at both the Aldgate and Edgware Road blasts. [PROPERTY? PLANTED BY OPS AGENTS? DESKS, CHAIRS, JEWELRY? ENCASED IN STEEL VAULTS?]

One man has just been arrested in west Yorkshire in connection with the attacks. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of Scotland's Yard anti-terrorist branch, said: "The investigation quite early led us to have concerns about the movement and activities of four men, three of whom came from the West Yorkshire area. "We are trying to establish their movements in the run-up to last week's attack and specifically to establish whether they all died in the explosions. [THEY'RE ALL LIKELY DEAD. NO MAYBE NOT. LOOKS LIKE YES. WE CAN'T TELL. BUT WE HAVE THEIR 'PROPERTY' RIGHT THERE AT THE BLAST SCENES. MAYBE IT WAS PLANTED SO THEY COULD ESCAPE. TYPICAL AL QAEDA. PRETEND TO BE A SUICIDE BOMBER AND THEN ESCAPE. FORGET THE OTHER COVER STORY ABOUT THE AL QAEDA MO BEING SUICIDE AND GOING TO PARADISE. THIS IS DIFFERENT. BUT IT'S THE SAME. IT'S AL QAEDA.] We executed six warrants under the Terrorism Act at premises in the West Yorkshire area."

These included the home addresses of three of the four men. A detailed forensic examination will now follow and this is likely to take time to complete." [THE PUBLIC HAS NO RIGHT TO LEARN THE DETAILS OF THAT EXAMINATION. NOT NOW. NOT EVER. WE'LL ONLY RELEASE THE CONCLUSIONS.]

He continued: "We know that all four of these arrived in London by train on the morning. We have identified CCTV footage showing the four men at King's Cross Station shortly before 8.30am on that morning, July 7. [THEY POSED FOR A JOINT PICTURE FOR THE CAMERAS? BUT THEY WERE BRIGHT ENOUGH TO LEAVE 'PROPERTY' AT THE BLAST SCENES AS EVIDENCE OF DEATH, AFTER WHICH, WITH THEIR MUGS ON CAMERA, THEY ESCAPED. SURE, THAT MAKES SENSE.]

"One of them who had set out from West Yorkshire was reported missing by his family to the casualty bureau on July 7. We have been able to establish that he was joined on his journey to London by three other men. We have since found personal documents bearing the names of three of those four men close to the seats of three of the explosions." [IN PRISTINE CONDITION, NO DOUBT, WITH LARGE RED ARROWS POINTING TO THE NAMES, RIGHT THERE AT THE VERY CENTERS OF THE BLAST SCENES. IMMORTAL IDs.] As regards to the man who is missing, some of his property was found on the route 30 bus in Tavistock Square. Property of a second man was found at the scene of the Aldgate bomb and in relation to a third man property with his name was found at the Aldgate and Edgware Road bombs." [BUNDLES OF CLOTHING WITH HIS NAME SEWN ON LABELS? CLOTHING MADE OF ASBESTOS?] We have strong forensic evidence that it is very likely that one of the men from West Yorkshire died at the explosion at Aldgate."



It was the discovery that the bus bomber was likely to have died in the blasts that triggered the raids. [AREN'T AMERICAN NEWS OUTLETS CLAIMING THE REAL CLUE WAS PROVIDED BY A PHONE CALL ON THE 7TH FROM A FAMILY IN THAT NEIGHBORHOOD? CAN'T THEY KEEP THEIR COVER STORIES STRAIGHT?] Hundreds of people were evacuated from the area around Hyde Park Road, Burley.

No one was in the house at the time but armed officers had been used as a precaution. Five other homes in Leeds had earlier been raided by police hunting the terrorists behind last week's attacks.

Neighbours at one of the addresses said a 22-year-old man who lived there with his family had gone missing. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said the raids were "directly connected" to Thursday's atrocity.

Hours later, police evacuated Luton railway station and car park to recover a vehicle suspected of being linked with the terrorist attacks. The car was blown up in two controlled explosions. [BLOWN UP WHEN? BEFORE OR AFTER EVIDENCE WAS OBTAINED FROM THE CAR. SEEMS LIKE THE AUTHORITIES ARE BUSY BLOWING UP KEY EVIDENCE. WAIT A FEW MINUTES. THEY'LL BLOW UP AREAS OF THE SUBWAY SYSTEM WHERE THE BLASTS WENT OFF.]

end Sky News article

This has to be one of the most transparent and amateur efforts at stitching together cover stories I've ever run across. Right up there with 9/11 and the OKC bombing.

Jailed for Justice

Having spent almost three decades offering legal service to immigrants, Chinese American immigration attorney Manlin Chee is now getting used to serving time instead.

Chee had been a nationally recognized lawyer for her work with immigrants, some of it pro bono, and much of it for Muslims, but things soured for her soon after she appeared on a panel discussing the PATRIOT Act in March 2003.

The public forum at the main library in Greensboro, North Carolina was televised and attracted a large audience. Chee argued passionately that the PATRIOT Act violated the Bill of Rights and threatened the civil rights of immigrants and U.S. citizens.

"I'll never forget when Manlin joked that she had good news and bad news for the audience," recalls Tim Hopkins, an attendee. "She said that the bad news is that those people taking pictures of the audience are from the FBI. The good news is that they are coming after the panelists first. It was prophetic."

Indeed, within weeks the FBI began investigating Chee, says her attorney Locke Clifford. Clifford says the FBI had no record of complaints against her. But the agency began combing through thousands of Chee's case files. They even went back to her own citizenship application. The agents interviewed her clients and employees for over a year, until they indicted Chee for immigration fraud on June 26, 2004.

It was a dramatic fall for the successful attorney who once had offices in three cities and thousands of clients. The American Bar Association awarded Chee its public service award in 1991, which was presented to her by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. She also received the 1990 William L. Thorp Pro Bono Award by the North Carolina Bar Association. The Triad Business News called her "one of the foremost immigration attorneys in North Carolina if not the country."

Many think that it was her political views that caused Chee's troubles.

"She was outspoken about the impact of the PATRIOT Act on the Muslim community and American citizens," says Badi Ali, President of the Islamic Center of the Triad and Muslims for a Better North Carolina. Chee also demonstrated her support of the Muslim community by wearing Muslim garb on Fridays, says Chee's youngest daughter, Leia Forgay. Forgay says it was symbolic. "She was letting people know that she will stand with them figuratively and literally."

However, fellow Greensboro immigration attorney, Gerry Chapman, questions whether Chee was targeted for her views. "There are attorneys in North Carolina who have spoken out against the PATRIOT Act and against targeting of Muslims, and the vast majority of them have not been investigated and indicted." He adds that he thinks Chee overextended herself. "Manlin's got a good heart, but she was trying to do too much for too many people."

Attorney Anita Earls, director of Advocacy of the University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights in Chapel Hill, points out that "other immigration attorneys have engaged in worse practices -- and they were not investigated." She believes Chee was "singled out because of a combination of the clients she served and the fact that she was outspoken in her opposition to the war."

The FBI's strongest evidence came from two sting operations, the first one within weeks after Chee had participated in the PATRIOT Act forum, says Clifford. The informants posed as needy Muslims. One informant wanted to pretend he was gay so he could seek asylum, and the other informant wanted a sham marriage to get his green card. Chee was indicted for filing papers on behalf of both.

According to Forgay, the informants wouldn't stop asking for Chee's help: "My mom told them that there's nothing I can do, but they kept coming back to her and she couldn't say no. She always tries to help -- she went ahead and submitted the papers to try. She would feel worse if she didn't try."

Chee's former client and good friend, Melinda Macasero agrees. "Manlin had a hard time when she first came to the U.S., so she knows how hard it can be," Macasero says. "If you're an immigrant and you're a client of hers, she would go the extra mile to help."

Says Clifford, "Manlin never said no to anybody and the FBI probably said to themselves that if we run someone in there with a sad story, Manlin will probably take the bait."

Chee now admits she was "foolish" for succumbing to the sham entreaties. She describes one informant as being "intimidating," constantly calling, going to her office, and badgering her when she avoided filing the papers for months. Feeling "pushed" and suffering from an anxiety disorder, Chee finally relented under the pressure.

"Manlin did have some depression," says her close friend, Amelia Leung. "Her mental health does affect her sense of judgment sometimes."

During Chee's prosecution, a diverse group of community members rallied around her and formed the Manlin Chee Defense Committee, taking out a full-page ad in the local paper in her support. Notably missing, however, was a public outcry from the local Chinese community.

Meiling Yu, cultural promotion director of the Greensboro Chinese Association, says her organization just didn't know enough. "Because the charges are about her practice, which we are not familiar with, we didn't feel we had enough information to speak out in support of her." She notes the impression that Chee was targeted for her outspokenness, but as a nonprofit, they did not feel they could make a political statement.

"I can understand why they wouldn't speak out," says Macasero. "You are dealing with the government, and [people] are afraid they are going to get in trouble."

Ultimately, Chee pleaded guilty to the charges from the stings. Her daughter Leia, insists Chee pleaded guilty to keep her family together. The FBI had also indicted and charged Chee's oldest daughter, Chernlian, because she was a paralegal in Chee's office. Chernlian, who has an upcoming wedding, decided to cooperate with the prosecution: She would get probation if she pleaded guilty, but she would have to testify against her mother.

The anger in Leia's voice is palpable when she discusses the effect of her sister's decision. "My mom did the selfless thing and pleaded guilty to keep our family from tearing apart because she felt that this was a time when we needed to stick together. ... The hardest thing is not living without my mom, but living with the tension in the house because of my older sister and what happened."

Chee, however, fought all charges involving her work for real clients. Calling those charges "horsefeathers," Chee states, "I would rather rot in jail than to plead to charges where I prepared documents like every other lawyer in the country." Immigration expert Ira Kurzban agreed, testifying at Chee's sentencing hearing that her labor certification filings were like those of other attorneys.

Chee never went to trial. The federal prosecutor suddenly dropped all remaining charges against her, after she decided to plead guilty. On March 3, 2005, Judge James A. Beaty sentenced Chee to a year and a day in prison beginning April 22 at Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia (better known as Martha Stewart's prison). Chee will be unable to attend her daughter Chernlian's wedding in September.

A former U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights attorney, Earls believes the government was making an example of Chee.

"The U.S. Attorney's office was certainly trying to send a message," she says. "Bringing down someone who previously had a strong reputation as an aggressive advocate is much more attractive to the U.S. Attorney's office than someone who doesn't aggressively stand up for immigrant rights."

Chee has been on disability inactive status since April 2004 with the State Bar of North Carolina due to her mental health issues, and cannot practice law. However, her youngest daughter, Leia, seems fiercely determined to take up her mother's torch and fight for the rights of immigrants. "Immigrants are often neglected in the law and in the community," Forgay observes. "You can't just leave out certain groups just because there are tensions with their community."

The sixteen-year-old admits that previously, she did not want to be a lawyer because she hardly saw her mother, who was working all the time. Forgay has changed her mind. "Now, after seeing what happened to my mom, they may be able to stop her, but they can't stop me from helping people who need it."

Jailed for Justice
By Yu-Yee Wu, AsianWeek
© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

Smelling like a Rove

The Bush administration said it would fire anyone involved in outing Valerie Plame. Even Karl Rove?

By Farhad Manjoo

July 12, 2005 | Karl Rove, George W. Bush's chief political strategist, has not been having an especially happy second term. His boss's political fortunes are in the dumps, and nothing Rove plans -- the Terri Schiavo fight, or the Social Security whistle-stop tour, or the president's recent prime-time speech, offering more non-answers on Iraq -- has righted Bush's sinking ship. Now Rove himself has the law breathing down his neck.

The law in this case is Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor appointed by the Justice Department a year and a half ago, to determine who leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent to Robert Novak, the conservative syndicated columnist. The undercover operative is Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who questioned the veracity of Bush's claim that Saddam Hussein had been seeking uranium in Africa. In the summer of 2003, Wilson wrote an Op-Ed column for the New York Times, revealing that in 2002 he'd been sent by the CIA to Niger to investigate the uranium claim -- and found nothing.

The leak to Novak of Plame's identity looked like an attempt by the White House to punish Wilson for speaking out, and Wilson has accused Rove of being involved in the effort to reveal Plame's identity. In the fall of 2003, the Justice Department opened an investigation into the matter. Since then, Fitzgerald has been quietly assembling his case. But the public has only begun to get some hint of investigation's status in the past few months, as Fitzgerald has pressed two Washington journalists -- Matthew Cooper of Time and Judith Miller of the New York Times -- to testify about their conversations with White House sources regarding Wilson's claims. Miller was sent to jail last week when she refused to speak.

It's what Rove said to Cooper -- who suddenly agreed, under mysterious circumstances, to testify -- that's now got the strategist in trouble. According to reports of conversations between Rove and Cooper, Rove appears to have disclosed Plame's identity -- while not specifically her name -- to Cooper. But what this means for Rove -- whether he'll be fired, or jailed for what he did -- is a matter of furious speculation. This doozy of a case is not, as you may have guessed, easy to get your mind around. So we've prepared this handy primer.

Is Karl Rove going to jail?

Don't know yet. It's clear from recent reports in Newsweek and the Washington Post that Rove was involved in, and possibly headed, a White House effort to discredit Wilson. What's not clear is whether Rove committed a crime, either by leaking Plame's identity, or by lying to investigators who are trying to determine whether he leaked Plame's identity. Even if Rove did violate the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which prohibits divulging an intelligence agent's identity, investigators may lack the necessary evidence to charge him. Rove continues to deny any wrongdoing.

What do we know about Rove's involvement?

We know that on July 11, 2003 -- the Friday after Wilson's article, What I Didn't Find in Africa," was published in the Sunday New York Times -- Matthew Cooper, who'd just started covering the White House for Time magazine, called Rove to ask what he made of Wilson's story. After the conversation, Cooper sent his editor an e-mail describing what Rove had said. Cooper, who moonlights as a stand-up comedian in Washington, labeled the e-mail "double super secret background." Newsweek obtained it after Time decided to hand it to prosecutors.

The e-mail suggests that Rove gave Cooper an earful. Rove warned the reporter not to "get too far out on Wilson" -- that is, not to put too much stock in what Wilson had written -- because Wilson's trip to Africa, Rove attested, had not been authorized either by George Tenet, the director of the CIA, nor Vice President Dick Cheney. Wilson had only been sent to Niger to check out claims that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium there because, Rove told Cooper, "wilson's wife, who apparently works at the [Central Intelligence] agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues" had "authorized the trip." In other words, Rove was telling Cooper, Wilson only got the assignment because of nepotism, so there's no reason to believe what he's saying about Saddam.

Rove, Cooper added, said that not only was the "genesis of [Wilson's] trip ... flawed an[d] suspect," but so were Wilson's conclusions about Saddam's WMD search in Africa. Rove "implied strongly there's still plenty to implicate iraqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m] Niger."

Close readers will spot what Rove did not tell Cooper: Valerie Plame's name. It's not clear whether Rove went into detail about Plame's status at the CIA; she was an operative who often worked undercover and so needed her identity to remain cloaked. In the legal case against Rove, this omission is key, as Rove's attorney says that because Rove didn't name Plame, Rove didn't do anything wrong.

Is that true? Or did Rove violate the Intelligence Identities Protection Act?

Again, it's not cut and dried. As the Washington Post pointed out, "To be considered a violation of the law, a disclosure by a government official must have been deliberate, the person doing it must have known that the CIA officer was a covert agent, and he or she must have known that the government was actively concealing the covert agent's identity."

Based on Cooper's e-mail with Rove, it isn't clear that Rove knew Plame's name. But even if Rove did know Plame's name, which is likely, that fact is not as important as knowing her CIA status. In pointing out her occupation and association to Wilson, Rove was clearly identifying Plame. Was he then knowingly and deliberately disclosing a CIA operative? For that, Rove would have had to know that Plame was undercover. If he didn't know that fact -- if Rove knew Plame simply as Wilson's wife who happened to work on WMD at the CIA -- he didn't commit a crime.

So to stay out of the slammer, can't Rove simply say he didn't know who Plame was?

Yes, and that's essentially Rove's defense. Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, told the Washington Post on Sunday that Rove had no idea who Plame was, other than that she was Wilson's CIA wife. Luskin says that Rove's conversation with Cooper "was not an effort to encourage Time to disclose her identity. What he was doing was discouraging Time from perpetuating some statements that had been made publicly and weren't true." Those allegedly untrue "statements" are claims made by some at the time that Wilson's trip was Cheney's idea; according to Luskin, Rove only mentioned Wilson's wife to show that it was her idea, not Cheney's, for Wilson to go to Africa.

That said, we don't know what Rove told other reporters; specifically, we don't know whether Rove gave Plame's name to Robert Novak, the first journalist to name Plame, who appears to have talked to the prosecutor. But it's a fair guess when you look at the similarity between what Rove told Cooper and what Novak said Bush administration sources told him, and the fact that Cooper spoke to Rove on July 11, a Friday, and Novak's column was published the next Monday.

Here's what Novak wrote in his column outing Plame: "Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report [which suggested an effort by Saddam to buy uranium in Africa]. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him."

To recap: Novak was talking to "senior administration officials" around the same time that Cooper was talking to Rove. Novak got the same story from "senior administration officials" that Cooper got from Rove. As we're pretty sure they don't say in Texas, the whole thing sure does stink of turd blossom. And here's where it could get hairy for Rove. If Novak did get Plame's identity from Rove, and if Novak has said as much to special prosecutor Fitzgerald, with whom he's allegedly cooperating, Rove may yet face legal troubles.

So if Novak sings, does Rove go to jail?

Could be. But there are caveats to that, too. Even if Rove -- or anyone else in the White House -- did reveal Plame's name and undercover status to the media, that act may still not qualify as a technical violation of the law. Victoria Toensing and Bruce W. Sanford, two Washington lawyers who helped draft the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, wrote in the Washington Post in January that the law was meant to protect agents who were truly "covert," meaning that the agent's "status as undercover must be classified, and she must have been assigned to duty outside the United States currently or in the past five years. This requirement does not mean jetting to Berlin or Taipei for a week's work. It means permanent assignment in a foreign country." But because Plame had been "living in Washington for some time when the July 2003 column was published, and was working at a desk job in Langley (a no-no for a person with a need for cover), there is a serious legal question as to whether she qualifies as 'covert,'" Toensing and Sanford wrote.

Even if the prosecutor determines that outing Plame was a crime, he will have to prove that Rove did so knowingly and deliberately. And many on the right argue that Rove's defense on this point -- that he was only mentioning Plame to show that Wilson wasn't recommended for the job by anyone really important, like Cheney -- was corroborated by last year's Senate intelligence committee report on Iraq-war intelligence failures. That report quoted the CIA as saying that Wilson was sent to Niger only because Plame "offered up" his name for the job, which Rove would argue is essentially what he told Cooper about Wilson.

Yet the Senate report doesn't completely support Rove's tale because it still leaves the possibility, as Wilson argued, that Cheney asked the CIA to look into the Niger case, and the CIA then asked Wilson to look into it. In his book, "The Politics of Truth," Wilson described his meeting with the CIA to arrange his Niger trip. "My hosts opened the meeting with a brief explanation of why I had been invited to meet with them," he writes. "A report purporting to be a memorandum of sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq had aroused the interest of Vice President Dick Cheney. His office, I was told, had tasked the CIA to determine if there was any truth to the report. I was being asked now to share with the analysts my knowledge of the uranium business and of the Nigerian personalities in power at the time the alleged contract had been executed, supposedly in 1999 or 2000."

Wilson says that his wife had nothing to do with CIA's decision to send him to Niger. He asserts that the White House had no right to talk about his wife in its discussions with reporters regarding his Niger claims.

Even if Rove didn't knowingly divulge Plame's name, isn't inadvertently disclosing her identity bad enough?

Well, yes. In talking to Cooper, Rove disclosed Plame's occupation to a reporter in the service of a political hit job on a White House critic. At the very least, he was careless with sensitive information, which isn't a quality to be prized in a deputy White House chief of staff. To punish Rove's carelessness, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, the New Jersey Democrat, said in a statement today, "the President should immediately suspend Karl Rove's security clearances and shut him down by shutting him out of classified meetings or discussions."

Or as Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, recommended in a statement today, Bush should fire Rove. "I agree with the President when he said he expects the people who work for him to adhere to the highest standards of conduct," Reid said. "The White House promised if anyone was involved in the Valerie Plame affair, they would no longer be in this administration. I trust they will follow through on this pledge. If these allegations are true, this rises above politics and is about our national security."

Reid's right. Looking at Bush's statements on the case, you'd expect that Rove might be in some trouble with his boss. "If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is," Bush said last year. Bush has never discussed the details of the case, but he's suggested that he believes that leaking an operative's name, perhaps even accidentally, is not something he'd tolerate. "I want to know the truth -- leaks of classified information are bad things," he said last year.

Any chance that Bush would fire Rove?

Who knows what Bush will do. Scott McClellan, Bush's press secretary, has decided not to answer any questions on the case. In a remarkable press briefing on Monday -- remarkable for the tenacity with which reporters kept at McClellan -- the press secretary refused to say whether he believed Rove had committed a crime, whether Bush had lost confidence in Rove, and whether Bush was aware that Rove had spoken to Cooper about Wilson. McClellan, citing the ongoing investigation of the case, repeatedly declined to answer anything. "Well, those overseeing the investigation expressed a preference to us that we not get into commenting on the investigation while it's ongoing. And that was what they requested of the White House. And so I think in order to be helpful to that investigation, we are following their direction," McClellan said.

As Tim Grieve points out in Salon's War Room, this excuse hasn't stopped McClellan from commenting on the case in the past. The press secretary has previously cleared Rove of any involvement in the case: "Let me make it very clear," McClellan said in October 2003, "as I said previously, he was not involved, and that allegation is not true in terms of leaking classified information, nor would he condone it. So let me be very clear."

Today, reporters pointed that out to him. "You're in a bad spot here, Scott," one reporter told McClellan, "because after the investigation began -- after the criminal investigation was under way -- you said, October 10th, 2003, 'I spoke with those individuals, Rove, [deputy national security advisor Elliott] Abrams, and [Dick Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis] Libby. As I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this.' From that podium. That's after the criminal investigation began. Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation?"

McClellan responded: "And we want to be helpful so that they can get to the bottom of this, because no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the President of the United States. I am well aware of what was said previously. I remember well what was said previously. And at some point, I look forward to talking about it. But until the investigation is complete, I'm just not going to do that."

So where does that leave us?

Lawyers observing the case have said that the prosecutor, who's known for being tough, may be looking to charge someone for some lesser crime than leaking an undercover operative's name, namely perjury or obstruction of justice. But because we don't know what Rove has said to the grand jury or to investigators, it's impossible to tell whether he's the subject of these investigations, either.

At this point, then, it's distinctly possible that Rove -- the same Rove who recently called liberals soft in their response to the 9/11 attacks -- may face no punishment at all for outing the identity of a CIA agent.

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About the writer
Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer.

Imperfect martyr

Imperfect martyr

Many refuse to rally behind jailed, controversial New York Times reporter Judy Miller. But anyone who truly supports freedom of speech needs to.

By Andrew O'Hehir

July 13, 2005 | "New York Times reporter Judith Miller is sent to jail for contempt of court, but not for writing months of front-page fiction about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction," a reader in California recently wrote to Salon. "Al Capone did time in prison for tax evasion, but not for murder. I guess you have to take what you can get."

That letter, which I quote in its entirety, pretty much sums up the response so far from Salon's readers (and much of the lefty blogosphere) to our two recent news stories about Miller, who is now serving a prison sentence for refusing to identify to federal prosecutors the confidential White House source who leaked information about CIA agent Valerie Plame, wife of a former U.S. diplomat highly critical of the Bush administration.

At least on the leftward half of the political spectrum, there is a wide gulf between the way the media is telling the Miller story and the way the public understands it. "I suppose the journalistic breast-beating over Miller going to jail was to be expected," wrote Elizabeth Bass, in a letter we published a few days ago. "No profession loves to trumpet its own importance more. But am I alone in just not giving a shit?"

Bass is by no means alone in her cynicism, nor completely unjustified. We can learn things by gazing into this abyss between the press and the public, but the sense of vertigo is not especially comforting.

Many readers have been less temperate than the author of the Capone letter, not to mention less amusing and less succinct. Salon also received at least two letters suggesting, with apparent seriousness, that Miller deserves not just prison time but the death penalty for her journalistic sins. (Salon published one of those, which I think might have been a failure in judgment.) A more lenient correspondent suggested a life sentence, while many others seemed to share one reader's pithy but less specific sentiment: "I hope she rots." (Most of the letters I am quoting in this article have not been published, and in those cases I am not identifying the authors by name.)

To describe the whole Miller-Plame affair as murky, or profoundly ironic, doesn't even halfway do it justice. As Salon reporter Farhad Manjoo wrote after the June 27 Supreme Court decision that all but ensured Miller would go to jail, the tangled narrative "is like something out of Kafka." One of the things that enraged readers, it seems, is the fact that the first wave of stories about Miller's legal peril (Manjoo's included) judiciously avoided confronting what another of our letter-writers called "the elephant in the middle of the room."

That elephant, of course, was Miller herself, and the notorious role she played during the Bush administration's buildup to the war in Iraq. I myself wrote an article last December suggesting that Miller and her newspaper, having been thoroughly hustled by Ahmed Chalabi (possibly at taxpayer expense), bore more responsibility for the Iraq misadventure than anyone this side of George W. Bush. I'd be lying if I said I'd never felt any childish moments of schadenfreude, or any feeling that karmic justice was being dispensed, as she got closer and closer to prison. Miller is also spectacularly ill-suited for the role of poster child for the use of confidential sources or First Amendment freedoms in general because, as numerous commentators have noted, the source she's now protecting wasn't some selfless, embattled whistle-blower, but rather "a high government operative determined to stab a whistle-blower in the back," as a Salon reader from Washington put it. (At this point, we'd all be shocked if her informant wasn't Karl Rove, or someone right next to him.)

So it was reasonable to expect at least some anti-Miller letters in the wake of Manjoo's and freelance reporter Michael Scherer's Salon stories about the Miller case. Like virtually everyone else in every branch of the media, Manjoo and Scherer reported Miller's impending and then actual imprisonment as a dark day for press freedom. Also like almost everyone else in the media, both stories sought to put the bizarre details of Miller's dilemma in context, while dancing around its most uncomfortable elements: Miller's tarnished record and the presumed involvement of Rove, dark prince of the George W. Bush White House.

But it's safe to say that everyone here was surprised by the consistently enraged tone of the letters -- furious might be a better word -- and by the insistence of many writers that Salon's coverage had fundamentally missed the story. Of the dozens of letters we have received on this issue over the last few weeks, no more than a half-dozen have supported the general tenor of Manjoo and Scherer's reporting, or indeed have seen the Miller case as in any way a matter of fundamental freedoms.

"What a steaming load of treacle and crap," the Washington reader wrote about the latter story, describing it as "laying on the sentimental details with a trowel" in an attempt to evoke reader sympathy for Miller as she was led off to jail. "I've had my objections to Salon articles before but this is unquestionably the worst piece you've ever run on any subject."

I think that criticism is fundamentally unfair, and probably based more on ideology than on the facts of the story. Scherer's piece in particular straightforwardly addressed the ironies of Miller's current role, and her past as a mouthpiece for Chalabi and, in effect, for the Bush administration's WMD disinformation. If the reporter going to prison had been freelancer Greg Palast, who has argued that Bush stole the 2004 election, or former Salon reporter Eric Boehlert, who has written extensively about the mainstream media's weak-kneed response to the White House, those same "sentimental details" might have brought our Washington reader to tears.

But I do think that the tide of powerful reader emotion we've seen at Salon, even though it's impelled by the Manichaean political climate of the moment, stems from a legitimate source. Journalism as a profession -- if, that is, it can even be described as a profession -- is facing a crisis of public confidence, and the wounds are partly self-inflicted. Scherer referred to the recent opinion poll that discovered "as many Americans consider Rush Limbaugh a journalist as Bob Woodward." Manjoo quoted Burton Glass, of the Center for Investigative Reporting, who explained that reporters "who in the past were seen as stewards of the public interest now are seen as the enemy or as part of the problem. If the public doesn't see the connection between protecting anonymous sources ... and their own public interest, I think our democracy is weakened."

On one hand, many members of the public -- especially liberals who ought to be staunch defenders of the Bill of Rights -- seem unable or unwilling to grasp the idea that a matter of fundamental principle might be at stake, even in the murky and seemingly bottomless waters of the Miller-Plame-Rove affair. Compelling a reporter to reveal his or her sources to the police turns that reporter into a police agent, and that's not acceptable, even in unsavory circumstances like these. No reporter can be expected to check out the legality or ethics or motivations of all sources in advance. All sorts of surprising people talk to reporters when they probably shouldn't, for all sorts of personal and political and psychological reasons. If journalists can only receive confidential information from the saintly and the pure of heart, the entire enterprise might as well become "The View."

It's worth suggesting that Judy Miller might be the Skokie case of press-freedom issues. It was back in 1977 when a small band of neo-Nazis from the South Side of Chicago launched a year-long legal battle by applying for a permit to march in Skokie, Ill., a suburban community with a majority Jewish population and a large number of Holocaust survivors. The neo-Nazis were a pack of losers with no coherent political ideology and little message beyond hate speech; their proposal to march in Skokie was pure provocation. But the various ordinances Skokie officials passed to try to stop the march were transparently unconstitutional, and the ACLU took the Nazis' case all the way to the Supreme Court, winning at every stage. Jewish members of the civil liberties group resigned by the thousands -- nationally, the ACLU lost 15 percent of its membership -- and some tension between Jewish organizations and the ACLU lingers to this day.

It should go without saying that for civil-liberties advocates and constitutional scholars, the issue was never whether the Nazis were repugnant (they were) or had anything to say (they didn't). Instead, it was a question of what legal precedent was being set. "If we had lost, a brand new set of First Amendment law would have been created," David Hamlin, then the executive director of the Illinois ACLU, said a few years later. "Any community in the country would have had the legal power to pass laws like Skokie's that would stifle not just Nazis but anyone they didn't like."

There's no need to draw the parallel out further, except to observe that the principle here is not approximately the same, but exactly the same. Even if you believe that Judith Miller is nothing more than "a shill for the Bush administration" (a Florida reader) or "a co-conspirator in a government coverup" (a Missouri reader), she's still entitled to the same constitutional protections as Greg Palast and Amy Goodman. Even, God help us, as Robert Novak, who seems to have peed his drawers and spilled the beans the moment the independent prosecutor rattled his cage. The First Amendment covers all members of the press, without regard to truthfulness, integrity or their perceived similarity to sub-reptilian life forms.

But the public's baleful view of the press is not totally without merit. Media insiders have become so obsessed by their own internal debates and so mesmerized by their own pseudo-professional codes of conduct that they've failed to notice how badly they've lost the public trust. The Times' near-sanctification of Miller upon her imprisonment is a perfect case in point. While the paper's profile of Miller finally, in backhanded fashion, connected her name to reporting on "supposed weapons of mass destruction" -- something that never happened in the Times' wobbly May 2004 apology for its Iraq coverage -- it also seemed like a transparent attempt to rehabilitate her image with the paper's moderate-to-liberal base.

The problem is that the journalistic establishment has no way of dealing with someone like Miller, who screwed up massively, but did so within the rules the profession has set for itself. Unlike the far less significant case of Jayson Blair, who became the subject of an enormous ritual purification exercise, Miller reported what she thought was the truth. She was led astray, one presumes, by some combination of ideological bias and journalistic hubris. The scary part about that -- the part the Times has never even tried to confront -- is that if a skilled veteran reporter like Miller can get so thoroughly hustled out of her shorts by a White House bagman, then exactly who in the media can we trust? One letter writer from New York stated this plainly: "If reporters and editors are wondering why the public has lost much of the respect for the media that they once received, they need to investigate no farther than Judy Miller."

A constant tide of right-wing complaints about the media's alleged liberal bias has also taken its toll on mainstream institutions like the Times, CNN and CBS News, which have tried to triangulate toward some ever-receding middle point in the political discourse. Like so much that the media does, this intellectually empty strategy is based on a misreading of public intelligence; Americans may be increasingly cynical, and not well-informed as a whole, but they're also not dumb. The right will of course continue to discern traces of "cultural elite" snobbery in mainstream media coverage, while the left will feel that the press has abandoned critical thinking and capitulated to mindless nationalism. For once, both sides will be right.

Even Monday's extraordinary White House spectacle, in which the press corps savaged press secretary Scott McClellan over the administration's hypocritical handling of the Rove-Plame affair, was really just another example of pack mentality in action. Sure, it's encouraging to see White House reporters behaving as if they might theoretically possess some stones, no matter the circumstances. But it's easy to play Woodward-and-Bernstein with a colleague in jail and a presidency now perceived as being on the ropes. These are the same guys and gals who spent four years dutifully copying down everything McClellan and Ari Fleischer said and telling us it was true; only the script has changed. Their anger seemed a measure of the tragically misplaced trust they had put in the Bush White House to always tell the truth.

Then there's the fact that a great deal of journalism basically has become "The View." The public may be forgiven for "not giving a shit" if the media establishment wants to wrap itself in the First Amendment with one hand and bleat about our precious freedoms while dispensing stories about shark attacks and Natalee Holloway with the other. It's not necessarily clear that a press engaged in a tabloid-esque race to the bottom, consumed by sensationalist pseudo-stories, nuggets of McNews and flag-waving rhetoric, is a free press in any meaningful sense of the term.

There's no quick-fix solution available for any of this; it's not like we can, or even should, swear off Paris Hilton and Tom Cruise forever, ditch the snazzy color graphics and go back to the mostly imaginary era of so-called serious journalism. Good reporting, solid writing and sound critical thinking are not limited by genre or topic; I suspect that Salon's TV critic, Heather Havrilesky, has more to say about the state of contemporary America than your average dozen earnest lefty bloggers. The problem is not "hard" vs. "soft" news, but canned and conventional infotainment vs. courageous reporting and independent thinking.

Nor do I think that the public wants us to dispense condescending lectures about Tom Paine and the First Amendment mixed into the Sunday funnies, or wants to sit still for public forums where journalists mull the value and risks of anonymous sourcing, or debate exactly how Judy Miller became Ahmed Chalabi's stooge. But I do believe that journalists have to become more self-critical and more willing to listen to outside criticism -- from readers, from the bloggers who zealously pick apart our deadline-frazzled copy, from whomever -- even when it violates the semi-professional norms we have so pretentiously internalized.

Frankly, if we want the public to respect our constitutional rights, we have to defend them by doing our jobs better and by explaining ourselves better. As a reader from California, who felt he had to read between the lines of Salon's Miller coverage for the real story, put it, "Whatever is happening here, I expect more accurate interpretation of all the nuances involved -- about the media, by the media, and for the American public. This is not my job, it's yours. And I expect you to do it."

My interpretation of the Miller case is that like the Skokie affair it's a kind of test. If you can't resist the feeling that Miller is being punished for her sins by a God who moves in mysterious ways, hey, I'm right there with you. Shed no tears for Judy. But this is a classic case of the poisoned chalice -- tastes great now, kills you later. The price we will all pay for this karmic redistribution of justice is not going to be worth it in the long run.

But it's only fair to let readers have the last word. After our second boatload of anti-Miller letters, Mark Hughes Cobb of Alabama responded in disbelief: "Absolutely amazing. Salon letter-writers who disdain freedom of the press. Perhaps a little reading of the Bill of Rights (certainly not a re-reading in any of these cases) would be helpful. The free press belongs to everyone; not just the New York Times, not Time, and not even to Salon and the blogosphere. If an out-of-control special prosecutor decides to come after your comments next, I'll be sure and write in with scathing remarks on your unfitness to wield freedom."

A student journalist from San Francisco, Daniel Jimenez, was more sad than angry, but his questions capture why even those in the media who believe Judith Miller did immeasurable damage to our profession don't think she belongs in jail. "Do we really want to add the United States to the list of nations whose governments use their power to punish political opponents, including perceived enemies in the media?" he asked. "Do we want the penalty for bad reporting, or at the least, falling victim to deceptive sources, to be not a correction or professional censure, but prison?"

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About the writer
Andrew O'Hehir is a senior writer for Salon.

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