Saturday, April 7, 2007

Why is Arab criticism always labeled as conspiracy to destroy Israel?

Editor's note: I am moving to post at the secondary blog(also see new articles below).


Fifth column forever?

Abir Kopty

Published: 04.07.07

The Arab-Israeli public recently marked "Land Day." This event originated in 1976, when thousands went on strike and protested the government's intention to expropriate land in northern Israel in order to establish Jewish communities. Six Arab citizens were killed during these protests, and since that time the Palestinian people and broad sections of the Arab people have been marking "Land Day" on March 30 every year as a symbol of the struggle against discrimination and aspiration for peace and equality.

In the psyche of the majority of the Jewish public, "Land Day" has been etched as a baseless, motiveless emotional storm. Superficial news stories on television and in the press, several photos from the march, a paragraph or two, and perhaps another sound bite all serve to reinforce the impression that Arab citizens are disconnecting from the State. Mostly there is no mention of the circumstances that gave rise to the event or their importance in the Arab narrative.

The second public platform used by the Jewish public to view the Arab public is the many declarations of politicians who present the Arabs as an existential threat. For example, Avigdor Lieberman's declaration that the Supreme Arab-Israeli Monitoring Committees "supports Israel's destruction."

This year, "Land Day" was marked against the backdrop of several documents that present harsh criticism and concrete proposals on a pact regarding relations between the State and its Arab citizens. These documents have been perceived to reflect a threat. For example, the Shin Bet security service characterized Arabs in Israel as a "strategic threat."

Rhetoric of 'extermination'

Whenever Arabs speak up and voice criticism that does not flatter Israel's policies, this criticism is labeled as an attempt to destroy and exterminate. Every time the question of the relationship between the State and its Arabs citizens is on the political and media agenda in Israel, many opinion leaders choose to consistently make use of rhetoric of "extermination."

This use is not casual: It is connected to the most painful experience in the Jewish collective memory and arouses difficult connotations. The rhetoric and myth regarding the "threat" are used to reject any criticism or proposal for change. This even shapes to a large extent the perception of the Arab public being an "enemy" and apparently legitimizes the continuation of hostile policies towards it instead of reaching a mutual understanding.

However, the constitutional proposal we raised, just like other documents published recently, did not only feature criticism but also alternatives that take Jewish citizens into consideration. The documents attempted to propose arrangements that would provide equality for all, both Jews and Arabs. The elimination and "extermination" of Jews is not what the offers care most about, but rather, possible ways for creating a common future. Moreover, those who drafted the documents constantly emphasize that we are talking about a basis for dialogue, rather than "red lines."

The exclusion of Arabs from the media and other public circles in Israel limits the possibility of the others to be exposed to new information about Arabs and prevents them from finding out, in depth, what Arabs really think.

Thus, without direct contacts and with the absence of fair reporting, the Jewish public is left with stereotypes and a one-dimensional picture that are very difficult to disprove. And this process is like the "chicken or the egg" debate – the Arab public, which is increasingly marginalized, is undergoing natural processes of alienation from its country of residence. The obstacles are only growing among both sides. In order to break through them we need work that would replace the rhetoric of "extermination" by "change" and "threat" by "cooperation."

A Jewish Plea

Exclusively serialized by Palestine Times every day this week, this essay is part of a forthcoming collection to be published in Nubar Hovsepian (editor), The War on Lebanon: A Reader (Interlink Publishing, Spring 2007).

by Sara Roy

Part 1 – “We have nothing to lose except everything.” Albert Camus

During the summer my husband and I had a conversion ceremony for our adopted daughter, Jess. We took her to the mikvah, a Jewish ritual bath where she was totally submerged in a pool of living water – living because it is fed in part by heavenly rain – and momentarily suspended as we are in the womb, emerging the same yet transformed. This ritual of purification, transformation and rebirth is central to Judaism and it signifies renewal and possibility.

The day of Jess’s conversion was also the day that Israel began its pitiless bombing of Lebanon and nearly three weeks into Israel's violent assault on Gaza, a place that has been my second home for the last two decades. This painful juxtaposition of rebirth and destruction remains with me, weighing heavily, without respite. Yet, the link deeply forged in our construction of self as Jews, between my daughter’s acceptance into Judaism and Israel’s actions—between Judaism and Zionism—a link that I never accepted uncritically but understood as historically inevitable and understandable, is one that for me, at least, has now been broken.

For unlike past conflicts involving Israel and the Palestinian and Arab peoples this one feels qualitatively different—a turning point—not only with regard to the nature of Israel’s horrific response —its willingness to destroy and to do so utterly—but also with regard to the virtually unqualified support of organized American Jewry for Israel’s brutal actions, something that is not new but now no longer tolerable to me.

I grew up in a home where Judaism was defined and practiced not so much as a religion but as a system of ethics and culture. God was present but not central. Israel and the notion of a Jewish homeland were very important to my parents, who survived Auschwitz, Chelmno and Buchenwald. But unlike many of their friends, my parents were not uncritical of Israel. Obedience to a state was not a primary Jewish value, especially after the Holocaust. Judaism provided the context for Jewish life, for values and beliefs that were not dependent upon national or territorial boundaries, but transcended them to include the other, always the other. For my mother and father Judaism meant bearing witness, raging against injustice and refusing silence. It meant compassion, tolerance, and rescue. In the absence of these imperatives, they taught me, we cease to be Jews.

Many of the people—both Jewish and others—who write about Palestinians and Arabs fail to accept the fundamental humanity of the people they are writing about, a failing born of ignorance, fear and racism. Within the organized Jewish community especially, it has always been unacceptable to claim that Arabs, Palestinians especially, are like us, that they, too, possess an essential humanity and must be included within our moral boundaries, ceasing to be “a kind of solution,” a useful, hostile “other” to borrow from Edward Said.1 That any attempt at separation is artificial, an abstraction.

By refusing to seek proximity over distance, we calmly, even gratefully refuse to see what is right before our eyes. We are no longer compelled—if we ever were—to understand our behavior from positions outside our own, to enter, as Jacqueline Rose has written, into each other’s predicaments and make what is one of the hardest journeys of the mind.2 Hence, there is no need to maintain a living connection with the people we are oppressing, to humanize them, taking into account the experience of subordination itself, as Said would say. We are not preoccupied by our cruelty nor are we haunted by it. The task, ultimately, is to tribalize pain, narrowing the scope of human suffering to ourselves alone. Such willful blindness leads to the destruction of principle and the destruction of people, eliminating all possibility of embrace, but it gives us solace.

Why is it so difficult, even impossible to incorporate Palestinians and other Arab peoples into the Jewish understanding of history? Why is there so little perceived need to question our own narrative (for want of a better word) and the one we have given others, preferring instead to cherish beliefs and sentiments that remain impenetrable? Why is it virtually mandatory among Jewish intellectuals to oppose racism, repression and injustice almost anywhere in the world and unacceptable—indeed, for some, an act of heresy—to oppose it when Israel is the oppressor, choosing concealment over exposure? For many among us history and memory adhere to preclude reflection and tolerance, where, in the words of Northrop Frye, “the enemy become, not people to be defeated, but embodiments of an idea to be exterminated.”3

What happens to the other as we, a broken and weary people, continually abuse him, turning him into the enemy we now want and need, secure in a prophecy that is thankfully self-fulfilling?

What happens to a people when renewal and injustice are rapturously joined?

Sara Roy is a Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University.

Captain Ward Boston and the USS Liberty Investigation/Cover-Up

April 05, 2007

Hesham Tillawi's Current Issues TV

Captain Ward Boston, Senior Counsel to the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry investigation into the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was ordered 40 years ago not to say anything about the investigation...

Captain Ward Boston felt obliged to reveal what he knew of the attack in the Navy Times after U. S. Federal Bankruptcy Judge Jay Cristol in Florida published articles and gave talks which supported the official Israeli Government version. Cristol made 13 trips to Israel before publishing the Jewish Party Line.

A couple of days ago he spoke to Mark Glenn, American Free Press reporter who is writing a story on the USS Liberty.

Both men will be with us this Tuesday April 3 to discuss the biggest US naval loss since WWII.

With the US Navy in the Persian Gulf, will there will be a replay of this scenario if Israel bombs Iran?

Hour One of Hesham Tillawi interview with Ward Boston: Click here.

Hour Two of Hesham Tillawi interview with Ward Boston: Click here.


franklin lamb- WHO ISN'T BUT SHOULD BE ON IT?

It was a sign of the times last week (March 27) when House Armed Services Committee Staff Director Erin Conaton declared in a memo to committee staffers that the powerful committee was scrapping the Bush Administration shop worn phrase, Global War of Terrorism. Conaton’s boss, Rep. Ike Skelton,( D-Mo) the new Chairman of the Committee commented that “the overused label had become an embarrassment and had lost its meaning”.

Recent research in Lebanon has turned up information previously unavailable which sheds light of the misapplication of the Terrorism label by the Bush administration.

The” T word” is often misapplied as former National Security Advisor Brzezinski reminds us as he tours the country promoting his new book, Second Chance and focusing on the “catastrophic leadership” crisis caused by the Bush administration’s foreign policy.

Another area that would benefit from discarding the “terrorist label” is the Bush administration’s ongoing campaign against Hezbollah. There is considerable doubt among international lawyers whether Hezbollah should ever have been classified as a terrorist organization.

At the urging of U.S. and Israel, Canada classifies Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, which limits the group’s ability to raise funds and travel internationally. . A Canadian peace coalition called Tadamon Montreal is working to remove Hezbollah from the Terrorism list in Canada.

Australia and the UK distinguish between Hezbollah’s security and political wings, and other countries like China, Russia, and member states of the European Union and the United Nations have refused US/Israel demands to label Hezbollah a terrorist organization at all.

The process for putting an organization on the “Terrorism list” is as follows: The Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the U.S. State Department (S/CT) monitors the activities of groups active around the world considered potentially terrorist to identify potential targets for designation. When reviewing potential targets, S/CT looks not only at the actual terrorist attacks that a group has carried out, but also at “whether the group may be inclined toward future acts of terrorism or retains the capability to carry out such acts”.

As of April 2007, a plurality (39%) of the organizations on the US Terrorism list represent Muslim groups recommended for inclusion by, among others, AIPAC and their friends in Congress. According to former AIPAC Director of Congressional Relations, Steve Rosen, soon to start his trial for passing classified information to Israel, “AIPAC owns the ‘T’ list!”

The US State Department definition of terror is a broad one: “the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends

Suspected terrorist groups are thereby defined as such by the means they use to pursue their objectives. To describe an organization as terrorist is not a comment on its political goal or ends, which may be laudable ones such as national liberation or resistance to occupation.

The common saying that ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ is rejected by this student of the subject because it is simplistic and even nonsensical. To whit, a terrorist can also be a freedom fighter struggling for justice and a freedom fighter can fight for freedom by using terrorist means.

Placed on the “T” list in 1999, Hezbollah was taken off the list a couple of years later following Hezbollah’s strong condemnation of the 9/11 attack on America. Hezbollah was returned to the list when Dick Cheney opined that a “presumed Hezbollah operative” probably met with an Al Qaeda representative in South America in 2001. Similar to Cheney’s Saadam Hussein-Al Qaeda ‘contacts’ claim.

Lebanese officials including Lebanese President Emil Lahoud contemptuously dismissed reports of such a meeting as Israeli-sponsored propaganda. According to Lahoud: “The media campaign, which is conducted by Israeli circles, seeks to exploit the September 11 attacks to slander the Lebanese resistance by stigmatizing it with the image of terrorism”. Lebanon continues to reject US/Israeli demands that they freeze Hezbollah’s bank accounts and force it to stop providing social services.

A study undertaken at the American University of Beirut in January- February 2007, benefiting from research and surveys from a variety of international and Israeli human rights organizations, tabulated no fewer than 6,672 acts of Israeli state terrorism directed against Lebanon and Palestine between the years 1967-2007. Not only is Israel absent from the US State Department Terrorism list, Israel appears to determine who is on it.

The case against Hezbollah presented in a draft by AIPAC for the State Department is virtually identical to the one finally issued by the State Department. It claims that Hezbollah bombed Americans at the US Embassy, the Marine barracks in 1983, and held a number of Americans hostage during the 1980’s. Or, as Hezbollah’s rap sheet currently appears on US and Israeli government computers:

“Hezbollah (as of April 3, 2007): Suicide bombings, hijacked 1985 TWA Flight 847; rocket attacks against Israel in 2006.”

(The latter item re the “rocket attacks against Israel in 2006”, is examined in the just released volume, The Price We Pay: A Quarter Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons against Lebanon.)

Hezbollah is accused by Israel and the Bush administration of a type of Islamist Terrorism similar to Al Qaeda but used in the context of National Liberation, just like Hamas. Both of which have fought Israel in the Lebanese and Palestinian contexts, respectively.

However, unlike al Qaeda, their enemy, Hezbollah and Hamas are complex social and political movements. They use different types of force, including guerrilla tactics which are legitimate under international law. They are also different from al Qaeda in that their alleged terrorist activity aims to liberate Palestine and Lebanon, as opposed to being part of a ‘global struggle’ against the United States with undefined objectives.

Was Hezbollah involved in the attacks against Americans a quarter century ago? Hezbollah has consistently denied these charges ever since it published its “open letter” announcing its foundation in 1985, years after the first attacks.

The results of an investigation conducted entirely in Lebanon including interviews with some who claim to have been personally involved with the “rap sheet” events do not credit Bush administration claims.

What the record to date shows, pending the Bush administration release of claimed evidence to the contrary, is the following:

1) When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 and quickly routed much of the PLO resistance, more than 30 local resistance groups formed. Some were no doubt inspired by the success of the Iranian Revolution three years earlier and took advantage of available political and physical training. Arms were available from the soon to depart PLO, and other sources, sometimes as gifts and sometimes for cash.

For example, in late August 1982, as Fateh was preparing to depart Beirut for Greece and goodbyes were being said, two American researchers in Beirut were given (‘for safe keeping’) 250 brand new Chinese made Ak-47’s wrapped in thick grease and heavy plastic. Not knowing exactly what to do with the gifts in the ‘wild west’ atmosphere of the time, the Americans, doing what came naturally, hastily buried them at night. The weapons were never found by the advancing Israelis but were discovered 15 years later when the Commodore Hotel in Hamra was enlarged and workers dug up that vacant lot to its south! Who has them now is anybody’s guess!

The goal of these new groups in the 1980’s was to drive Israel and its foreign sponsors from Lebanon. The local and regional political situation of the early 1980’s was very tolerant of militant modes of actions and many groups adapted and acted because no single force, power or obstacle stood in their way.

‘Operations’ were sometimes carried out by part of a group without the knowledge, participation or liability or the particular organizations command.

Teams of foreign assassins were active those days including one traced to Israel which tried to assassinate one of America’s most competent Ambassadors to Lebanon, John Guenther Dean on August 27, 1980. The weapons used in the failed attempt were traced to a shipment made from the US to Israel. Dean’s crime was getting too chummy with Yassir Arafat and his deputy Abu Jihad, who were helping Dean to get the American Embassy hostages released from Iran.

Another “operation” during this period was the CIA funded attempt of March 8, 1985 to assassinate Sheik Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah. The car bomb killed eighty, mostly women and children and wounded 256. As Bob Woodward points out in his book, Veil, the CIA’s William Casey mistakenly thought Fadlallah was the spiritual leader of Hezbollah. To this day Fadlallah is quite independent of Hezbollah although he is probably Lebanon’s most revered cleric due in no small measure to his scholarship, his three decades of social service work, and his passionate defense of human rights.

2) An exhaustive review, by American researchers, of the nearly 80 Western kidnapping cases, organized by a staggering variety of groups in Lebanon between 1975 and 1990 concluded that more than 100 Western detainees were taken, released, killed or exchanged. As for the Lebanese themselves, thousands were kidnapped; many by Israel and their allies and hundreds are still unaccounted for.

According to some who claim to have participated in one way or another, in some of these kidnappings, active groups sometimes declared responsibility and sometimes were silent. Among the groups admitting their actions at various times were: The Organization of Socialist Revolutionary Work, the Armed Revolutionary Factions in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad, the Organization of the Oppressed in the World, the Revolutionary Justice Organization, Holy Warriors for Freedom, the Khaibar Brigade, the Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine, the Blessed Resistance, the Islamic Liberation Organization, the Organization of the Mujhahideen for Freedom, the Revolutionary Cells, The Organization of the Islamic Dawn, The Organization of Militant Revolutionary Cells.

These were some of the ‘main stream’ groups, there were others, some for whom kidnapping was a cottage industry. Some functioned much like the current US and the UK hired mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan. In some cases contracts were drawn up with individuals willing to “hire out” for certain specific abduction projects. Given the available labor pool there was sometimes intense competition for a contract. For some groups, westerners were snatched for no other reason than the ransom money was good. Often those involved would use the ransom money to start a legitimate business, pay for family needs such as medical care or their children’s tuition fees. Sometimes Western companies paid for the release of their employees and in other cases governments would pay.

The largest payment for hostages during this period was the Arms for Hostages deal worked out by the Reagan administration when it provided missiles and spare parts to Iran to use against Saddam Hussein’s army after the same administration had supplied the Iraqi regime with chemical weapons to use against Iraqi Kurd, Shiites and Iranians.

Lebanese Islamist groups, and others, who in the 1980’s were resisting Israel’s attacks did not feel that their acts were nearly as reprehensible as the US responsibility for what Israel was doing to their people and country.

For example, once it became clear to them that the US Marines had abandoned their initially claimed neutrality as ‘peace keepers’ and instead began the shelling of Lebanon with 2,700 lb. shells from the USS New Jersey, most of these groups felt it their duty to repulse the US attacks.

Interviews with some of these now middle aged resistance fighters in Lebanon, who were active in this period, make plain that these groups felt that their military actions against the foreign forces constituted legitimate self defense, protecting Lebanon’s population from attacks by foreign forces.

While the military legitimacy of fighting the American and French forces was clear to the Lebanese during the early 1980’s, what about bombing the American Embassy? International law has protected Embassies since the 1815 Congress of Vienna, extending protection to foreign plenipotentiaries.

Safe passage for diplomats is not always honored, and as recently as February 2007, the United States government has been accused by Iraq and Iran of unlawfully kidnapping Iranian diplomats

The evidence from the 1980’s suggests that Hezbollah stayed out of the kidnapping game and concentrated on building its organization which they formally announced in an ‘open letter’ on Feb. 14, 1985.

Would the founders of Hezbollah have heard of something on the street, village or family level, of who may have been responsible for some of the high profile western kidnapping cases? One assumes so. Did neighborhood gossip attach an obligation to get involved on behalf of their viewed oppressors, including the US, and rescue their hostages? Should this have been disregarded In order to avoid some future ‘terrorism’ list?

The evidence suggests that Hezbollah is on a “political list” called the “terrorism list” because Israel wants it there, not because there is proof that it engaged in terrorism against Americans 25 years ago.

Using the scare tactic of ‘kidnapping Americans’ and ‘terrorism’ without proof, adds to the international ridicule of Bush’s policies.

In the nearly empty Lebanese Parliament building these days, the gossip is that the Bush administration wants to bargain with Hezbollah to remove it from the ‘T’ list if Hezbollah gives up its objective of liberating Palestine and cancels its opposition to the Bush/Olmert backed Siniora government

Given this kind of Bush administration offer, many view Hezbollah’s spot on the ‘T list’ as a badge of honor . Yet, respect for international law would suggest that the Bush Administration ought to show their ‘evidence’ or remove Hezbollah from the list.

When pressed in early April, 2007 by a former House Judiciary Committee staffer, one lawyer in the State Department Office of the General Counsel commented, “Its not that Hezbollah is terrorist per se, actually we know they are pretty clean, they are ok, but you must realize that they do associate with shady characters to their east, if you know what I mean.”

Hezbollah’s view of the April 17, 1983, Embassy bombing is different from some militias operating during this period. Hezbollah has consistently opposed attacks on foreign civilians. It was one of the first to condemn the 9/11 operation as well as the 1997 attack at the Temple of Hatshepsut at Luxor, Egypt which killed 58 civilians as “bloody and terrible, calling them crimes against Islam. Hezbollah also condemned the Cairo attacks on the Greek tourists, and the Algerian killing of 7 trappist monks in Algerian by claimed Islamists.

Despite Hezbollah’s view, which is based on the Koran’s prohibitions against harming innocent civilians, was the 1983 US Embassy attack terrorism against an internationally protected structure, or had the Embassy become a legitimate military target? In the assertion of one individual, a former member of Islamic Jihad, interviewed by American researchers during the spring of 2007, his group had nothing to do with Hezbollah during the Embassy operation or at any other time. He claims his associates knew in advance (Soviet intelligence passed to Lebanon via Syria) that the eight CIA operatives assigned to Lebanon were holding meetings in the Embassy and using its diplomatic protection for cover to plot assassinations and attacks on Lebanon. The entire CIA contingent was indeed meeting on the 6th floor of the Embassy at the time of the attack. The same source claims that the Embassy was also being used to feed targeting information to the USS New Jersey, visible offshore from the upper floors of the Chancery.

The view that the American Embassy was a legitimate target on April 17, 1983, cannot be summarily dismissed without careful review because principles of International law tend to support it. Once an Embassy is used for aggressive military purposes its protection collapses and it becomes what Donald Rumsfeld calls a “legitimate target of opportunity”.

Where is the proof that has been demanded for more than two decades? Is the only reason Hezbollah is on the ‘terrorism list’ is because Israel wants it there and a desire by some in the Bush administration to settle old scores without proof of who was responsible?

Organizations such as Islamic Jihad, Organization of the Oppressed on Earth and the Revolutionary Justice Organization are considered by the Bush administration and Israel to be synonymous with Hezbollah. That grouping appears to be a clumsy and inaccurate conclusion designed to support political objectives. No proof has ever been offered to establish that these groups were part of Hezbollah during this period rather than adversaries or competitors.

As one Hezbollah supporter commented:

“In America as you built a resistance to the British invaders and occupiers, were all the groups neatly organized? Were some ‘terrorists’? Did the ones who did operations such as the Boston Tea Party’ give their names and address to the occupiers? Or did some hide their identity and even dress like natives? Did George Washington and his staff know everything that was going on or did some groups just form and decide it was better to work on their own liberation project? That is what it was like here in Lebanon during this period. We should leave that period and concentrate on working together to solve today’s problems in Lebanon and the Middle East. All parties talking and meeting”

In denying Hezbollah involvement in operations targeting American civilians, their leader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah has stated:

“The truth of the matter is that there was something other than Hezbollah, called the Islamic Jihad, who kidnapped the hostages. There exist videocassettes, communiqués that bear the signature of the Islamic Jihad. It is independent from the party. It is absolutely incorrect that the Islamic Jihad is a cover name for Hezbollah.

Hezbollah remains on the US and Israel ‘terrorism’ list for purely political reasons and to punish the organization for its resistance to Israeli aggressions against Lebanon and Bush administration plans for the region.”

It is time for the Bush administration to present its case and prove what terrorism Hezbollah has actually used against the American people in the 1980’s in light of US government admissions that since 1999 there is no evidence that Hezbollah has engaged in ‘Terrorism’.

It’s time for the poker players to reveal their cards, or as they say down in Crawford.. ’ y’all show ‘em er fold ‘em!

Franklin Lamb has been in Lebanon researching a book for the past nine months. Hezbollah: a Brief Guide For Beginners is expected in early summer, 2007. He can be reached at

EFP's made in Iraq, not Iran: Pentagon lies, again

Iraqi, US forces sweep through volatile city, fight Sadr backers

Published: Saturday, 7 April, 2007, 08:50 AM Doha Time

DIWANIYA, Iraq: Iraqi and US forces clashed with Shia militia loyal to the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr yesterday in a dawn operation aimed at returning the volatile city of Diwaniya to government control. In Ramadi, west of Baghdad, a truck bomb killed at least 10 people and wounded 24 in the latest in a string of attacks that have spewed poisonous chlorine gas into the air, three Iraqi police officers said. A fourth officer put the toll at 35 dead.

The Iraqi government said this week it was extending a seven-week-old US-Iraqi security crackdown in Baghdad to other cities as it seeks to halt the slide to sectarian civil war.

While the crackdown has succeeded in reducing the murder rate in Baghdad, the government says militants forced out of the capital have turned other areas into new “killing fields”.

Iraqi and US troops fought militiamen in southeast Diwaniya, a stronghold of Sadr’s Mehdi Army, which the Pentagon says poses the greatest threat to peace in Iraq. The head of Sadr’s office in the city blamed rogue gunmen.

Pamphlets dropped by US helicopters warned police, who are suspected of being infiltrated by the militia, to stay off the streets. Any found carrying weapons would be shot.

A US military spokesman said three to six “enemy fighters” were killed, five wounded and 17 captured. US and Iraqi forces suffered no fatalities, Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Bleichwehl said.
A Mehdi Army leader said six women and children were wounded when a US helicopter fired on a hostel in the city. Bleichwehl said the report was untrue. The militia leader also said four men on motorbikes were shot dead by US and Iraqi troops.

Resident Qassim Abid said he saw two armoured vehicles damaged by roadside bombs and a third by rocket-propelled grenades. There was no independent confirmation.

The director of Diwaniya’s health directorate, Hameed Jaati, said the local hospital had received one body and 15 wounded.

“Iraqi army soldiers swept into the city of Diwaniya early this morning to disrupt militia activity and return security and stability of the volatile city back to the government of Iraq,” the US military said in a statement.

Bleichwehl said troops, facing scattered resistance, discovered a factory that produced “explosively formed penetrators” (EFPs), a particularly deadly type of explosive that can destroy a main battle tank and several weapons caches.

Residents said a curfew had been imposed as troops blocked streets and conducted house-to-house searches.

“It is good they have started this operation because we have been living in fear recently,” said Ali Hassan, 45, a worker with seven children. “We could not go out after dark or allow our children to go outside on their own.”

In Ramadi, capital of western Anbar province that is the heartland of the Sunni Arab insurgency, police colonel Tareq al-Dulaimi said the chlorine truck bomb targeted a police patrol, killing 35 people and wounding at least 45 more.

But Captain Louay al-Dulaimi and two colleagues from a police station near the explosion put the death toll at 10.

There has been a spate of chlorine truck bomb attacks, mainly in Anbar. US commanders and Iraqi police have blamed Al Qaeda militants for several of the attacks.

Police in Basra indicated an explosion that destroyed a British armoured fighting vehicle, killing four soldiers and a translator on Thursday, was caused by a new type of bomb.

“We found two bombs ... that were similar to the bomb that exploded targeting the British troops,” Major General Mohamed Moussawi said. “These are new bombs that haven’t been used and do not have a precedent in southern Iraq.”

The bomb blast left a crater several metres across and a metre deep in the road.
US and British forces have accused neighbouring Shia Iran of supplying Shia militias with EFPs, which are normally placed on the side of the road and fire a metal projectile embedded in the device into the target at high speed.
But a Western explosives expert in Iraq said it appeared from photographs of the crater that the blast had been caused by a commercial landmine buried in the road, not by an EFP. – Reuters

The Brutality of Rudy Giuliani

Thursday, April 5

Today former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is often painted as "America's Mayor" after his decisive response to the attacks on September 11, 2001.

What is often forgotten and ignored is the well worn streak of brutality and totalitarianism that runs like a river through both his public and private actions. Let us look back to before the 9/11, to 1999 and Giuliani's dramatic reforming of the NYPD for both the better and the worst.

From Human Rights Watch.

New York is enjoying a dramatic drop in violent crime, with some attributing it to the police department's emphasis on more minor, "quality of life," crimes, such as graffiti, squeegee windshield washing, and subway turnstile-jumping, pursued as a way to demonstrate control of the streets and to apprehend individuals who may have outstanding arrest warrants against them.


Police abuse experts have wondered why, if the police leadership is eager to stop crime by aggressively pursuing minor criminals and crimes, it is failing to demonstrate the same aggressiveness in dealing with officers before they commit more serious offenses.

In 1997 the Giuliani dichotomy of being tough on civilians who commit minor offense and light on police who abuse their authority gradually began to be exposed and led to several tragic incidents.

First there was the wrongful arrest, torture and sexual abuse of Abner Louima by NYPD officers who mistakenly thought he had insulted one of them outside of a night club.

A federal court jury in Brooklyn convicted three New York City cops March 6 of conspiring to cover up the 1997 station house torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.

Thomas Weise and Thomas Bruder each face five years in prison on the charge of conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation into the savage assault on Louima. The third cop, Charles Schwarz, was convicted in a previous trial as an accomplice with Justin Volpe in torturing the immigrant worker inside the bathroom of the 70th Precinct in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.

Volpe, convicted of sodomizing Louima with a broken piece of a broomstick, tearing a one-inch hole in his rectum and bladder, was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Schwarz, who was found guilty of holding Louima down during the attack, faces up to a life sentence.

The three cops greeted the verdict with disbelief and rage. "They're f—-ing liars; this is f—-ing bullshit," exclaimed Schwarz, who turned his wrath on his lawyer. As he was taken back into custody he slammed the wall and shouted out other obscenities.

Let me point out again that Louima wasn't even the guy they were looking for in the first place! This kind of brutality doesn't just happen, there has to be a permissive attitude in play at the department in order for anyone - let alone several officers - to believe that kidnapping and assaulting someone this way, not to mention intimidating witness and the victim to "keep quiet" could possibly work.

And how did Rudy react at the time? (From Human Rights Watch)

In August 1997, after the alleged torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima by police officers made national headlines and outraged city residents, the anti-crime record of the mayor and police department was tarnished. In uncharacteristic fashion, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Police Commissioner Howard Safir condemned the officers implicated in the incident as well as those who reportedly did nothing to stop it or report it.2 These were welcome condemnations, but conflicted with the mayor's persistent and seemingly automatic defense of officers accused of abusive treatment - even when he lacked a factual basis to do so - in his first term.

So did Rudy then take decisive steps to correct the problem? Not really.

Even when the mayor himself asked a task force to review police-community issues following the alleged beating and torture of Abner Louima, he immediately criticized the task force's majority report: "Some of the things [recommended] we've already done. Some of the things I've opposed in the past, I'll continue to oppose them. And some of the things are unrealistic and make very little sense."

Two years after Louima, another high profile police misconduct case landed on Rudy's lap - the murder of Amadou Diallo.

In February 1999, four New York City policemen searching for a rape suspect knocked on Amadou Diallo's door to question him. When he came to the door he reached inside his jacket, at which point the officers shot at him 41 times, hitting him with 19 bullets. The object Diallo was reaching for turned out to be his wallet.

Many New Yorkers were incensed and began to raise cries of W.W.B. - "Walking While Black!"

In New York City under Rudy Giuliani, we have seen the terrible resurgence of officially condoned police racism. Not long ago, a black cast member of a Broadway play was arrested and held overnight, missing his performance. Like Diallo, his only "crime" was that of being a black man in his own building at a time when it came under police attention. Ask any young black man in New York City, neatly dressed teenager or even a computer consultant wearing a suit, how many times he has been stopped and harassed by the police.


Giuliani's first Mayoral campaign began in a police riot, which no-one today remembers. The cops were demonstrating in front of City Hall, then inhabited by a black mayor, David Dinkins. Giuliani stood on the steps and delivered a speech so incendiary that the cops, many of them already drunk, began beating journalists and blocking traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. It is heavily ironic that Giuliani no longer permits demonstrations on the steps of City Hall.

After Diallo, there was also the case of shooting of Patrick Dorismond:

On March 16, 2000, an undercover New York City narcotics officer approached Haitian-American Patrick Dorismond to solicit marijuana. Dorismond reportedly grew upset at officer's request, and scuffled with Detective Anthony Vasquez, who fatally shot Dorismond. Dorismond was later found to not have any drugs or weapons on him.

As he had done before, Giuliani blamed the victim.

Before Patrick Dorismond's body was cold, the Giuliani administration launched an obscene campaign to vilify the dead security guard and all but portray him as someone who had a police bullet coming to him. Having little to work with, Giuliani ordered Police Commissioner Safir to unseal a juvenile record on the man, disclosing that he had been arrested for robbery and assault in 1987, when he was 13.

The charge, reportedly stemming from a childhood fist fight over a quarter, was dropped and his record sealed because he was a child. But Giuliani's legal advisers took the position that once he was dead, Dorismond's right not to have police records from his childhood publicized by the mayor died with him. It allowed Giuliani to declare that Dorismond was no "altar boy" and that his previous brush with the police "may justify, more closely, what the police officer did."

As for the cop who shot the security guard, Giuliani praised him for his "distinguished" career as an undercover officer, declaring that in going out and shooting an innocent, unarmed man to death in the street he "put his life on the line in the middle of the night to protect the safety and security of this city."

But then 9/11 happened washed all this away from our collective memories, remaking Rudy into a brand new golden boy for the G.O.P.

He became a key speaker at the G.O.P's 2004 Presidential Convention even while NYPD officers continued their suppression tactics and even engaged in political espionage. Milking the situation for every ounce of juice Rudy wrote to the Republican faithful in an RNC mass-mailing on the eve of the 2004 elections repeating what he'd stated on the Convention floor.

On September 11, our nation faced the worst attack in our history.

On that day, we had to confront reality. Our people were brave in their response.

At the time, we believed we would be attacked many more times that day and in the days that followed. Spontaneously, I grabbed the arm of then Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and said to Bernie, "Thank God George Bush is our President." I've been saying that every day since.

We needed George Bush then; we need him now; and we need him for four more years!

That conversation has since been shown to have been a complete fabrication, while Bernard Kerik who Giuliani had been pushing as the new head of Homeland Security has since been unceremoniously tossed off the bus in the wake of ethics issues and alleged ties to organized crime.

Skip forward to the here and now.

I have recounted all the above in such detail in order to provide context for what may be some of the most chilling aspects of Rudy Giuliani radical authoritarianism to be yet revealed : His belief in absolute Presidential Authority.

From Glenn Greenwald.

Rudy was asked about the Iraq supplemental. He said he finds it "irresponsible and dangerous." Then he began to muse about, after a veto, "would the president have the constitutional authority to support them [the troops], anyway?" He said he's a lawyer so he wouldn't offer an opinion "off the top of his head," then he proceeded to do just that.

He seemed to suggest that Bush could fund the Iraq war without Congress providing funding, but it was confusing. In an interview with a New Hampshire TV reporter after his remarks, he seemed more categorical and said, since the war had been authorized by Congress, the president has "the inherent authority to support the troops." But he added, "You have to ask a constitutional lawyer."

Glenn Greenwald is a Constitutional Lawyer, and he's not down with this.

Not only does Rudy believe that the President has some magic ability to fund a War on his own (ala Iran/Contra) but he also believes that the President has the authority to imprison American Citizens without charges, justification or review.

This view flies totally in the fact of Hamdi v Rumsfeld which clearly called for Judicial Review in such cases:

It would turn our system of checks and balances on its head to suggest that a citizen could not make his way to court with a challenge to the factual basis for his detention by his government, simply because the Executive opposes making available such a challenge. Absent suspension of the writ by Congress, a citizen detained as an enemy combatant is entitled to this process.

Following Hamdi the 109th Congress via the MCA effectively suspended the writ for foreign combatants - but it did not suspended for U.S. Citizens and the President certainly does not have that power independent of Congressional authority.

Giuliani may simply be confused on this point - but I doubt it since also think the President has the inherent power to defy the will of Congress.

In fact, it may well be this very long and clearly defined authoritarian streak of Giuliani's that is making him the darling of the Neo-Con Sect, causing them to brush aside his pro-abortion, pro-gay stances even among the deepest, darkest hearted of the red-staters. Especially among them.

For you see, they love nothing so much as a whip-cracking, brutal authoritarian in those parts. Just listen to what Katie O'Beirn and Rich Lowry have said about how Giuliani "women issues" have actually helped him. Lowry via Greenwald...

Have been talking to some smart people today about Giuliani. Two of them said independently that the appeal of Giuliani is he'd be "a tough SOB -- for you," and that he'd be "a d*head -- for you." Another said . . . that a Giuliani supporter he knows considers the nasty divorce a kind of asset because it speaks to his toughness. . . .

I think it's clear he'd be a "tough dickhead son of a bitch" for somebody - but there's no guarantee that it's going to you.

Greenwald on O'Beirn:

O'Beirne passed along an email from a friend which stated: "Contrary to popular speculation, the apparently brutal public dumping of Donna Hanover can only bolster the popularity of the man with conservatives." O'Beirne also suggested that an old Giuliani campaign ad showcasing his lovely family could be revised to say: "Don't worry. I dumped them all because I am that tough guy."

The Past is Prologue.

If you look back, the signs are all there. With a Giuliani Presidency we can not expect to see an actual moderate Republicanism, we will not see "Compassionate Conservative" finally realized, instead we can expect to see an even more extreme version of the Unitary Executive Theory than we have from John Yoo, more corruption and cronyism (Kerik), and even more excuses and justifications of racial profiling (against Muslims, Blacks and probably Latinos), illegal detainment of suspects and possibly even torture than we've seen so far from President Bush.

And that's saying something.

Even back in 1998 in response to Louima and Diallo - some New Yorkers saw it all clearly. He is George Bush Redux.

The kind of mayor I want for my city would be deeply agitated by the killing of Amadou Diallo and would ask why he had such poorly trained, highly strung "heroes" patrolling in plainclothes. Giuliani, on television, merely seemed pained, as he always does. Undoubtedly he wishes it had not happened, but only because it is a nuisance to deal with and (had it gotten out of control,

Yes, exactly how George Bush looked pained by the aftermath of Katrina - not because he was sorry that it had happened to all those who lost their lives and homes, but that it had happened to deeply embarrass him.

More from 1999:

Rudy Giuliani is a dictator in waiting. He is self righteous, absolute, has no sense of humor, and will go to any lengths to punish his enemies. He is temperamentally completely unsuited to be senator [As he was vying at the time], as it is a job requiring negotiation, collegiality, and charm. I believe he is interested in the job for one reason only: as a stepping stone to the Presidency. If so, he would be the most dangerous president since Richard Nixon. In fact, I think he would be more dangerous: Nixon doubted himself and sometimes hesitated at the opportune moment; Giuliani feels no doubt and will not hesitate.

He feels no doubt and would not hesitate, as Bush continues to "feel no doubt" about his decision to attack, invade and occupy an unarmed Arab nation?

This "lack of doubt", his self-righteous and authoritarian nature is exactly why he continues to be the rights true darling, and why should he succeed in claiming the Republican nomination he should be opposed by all who abhor neo-con fascists at all costs.


A Child in War: Detaining Omar Khadr Violates Our Moral and Legal Principles

Legal Times
April 2, 2007

When my co-counsel and I first visited Omar Khadr, our client in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, he was a gangly, somewhat awkward and shy, but friendly 18-year-old whose voice was changing. His wisdom teeth hadn’t come in yet, and his beard was scraggly and thin.

That was in November 2004, a few months after the Supreme Court had ruled, in Rasul v. Bush, that detainees at Guantánamo had a right to have access to lawyers and to the U.S. courts.

Omar and his family, all Canadian citizens, lived in Kabul at the time the United States took military action against the Taliban in Afghanistan in October 2001. He was separated from his parents and siblings as they tried to make their way to Pakistan, and he was taken into U.S. custody in July 2002. He was severely wounded in a confrontation with U.S. and U.S.-supported troops during which a U.S. soldier died.

He was 15 years old when captured, a child by any measure. He spent the first several months of his detention at the U.S. air base at Bagram, Afghanistan, where he was aggressively interrogated, including questioning on a hospital stretcher and without the benefits of pain medication. Then he was sent to Guantánamo in October. Brutal and virtually continuous physical and psychological interrogation continued after his transfer and throughout most of 2003.

Omar passed his 16th, 17th, and 18th birthdays in virtual isolation, cut off from all but the most rudimentary communication with his family or anyone else in the outside world until our first visit with him. In addition to the most basic protections of children against improper assaults, he was denied the medical attention and other health care, diet, education, and recreation that all children deserve and are entitled to as a matter of fundamental human rights.

Omar is 20 years old now, having lost nearly a quarter of his life in custody. He was recently charged with “murder in violation of the law of war,” a charge related to the death of the U.S. soldier, and four other alleged war crimes. He faces trial at Guantánamo by a reconstituted but still-broken military commission. His will be the first trial by U.S. military commission for alleged war crimes committed as a child since at least World War II.

Omar’s home country, Canada, has been conspicuously silent on the return of its child citizen. History, law, and morality all dictate that his trial by the U.S. military for crimes allegedly committed as a child should not proceed.

Under the international law of war, children in armed conflict are “protected persons” entitled to special respect, whether as civilians, prisoners, or criminal defendants. Regardless of alleged wrongdoing, a child found on the battlefield must be treated with special care based on age alone.

As early as 1924, the League of Nations adopted the Geneva Declaration on the Rights of the Child. In 1954, the United Nations followed suit, recognizing that a child, “by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection.” In 1974, the United Nations adopted a declaration on the protection of children in armed conflict, calling on governments “involved in military operations in foreign territory . . . to spare women and children from the ravages of war.” Children, the declaration recognized, were and are “the most vulnerable members of the population” during wartime, especially when separated from their families.

New global standards on juvenile justice — the Beijing Rules in 1985 and the Riyadh Guidelines in 1990 — were designed to assure for children all across the world “a meaningful life in the community, which . . . will foster a process of personal development and education,” as the Beijing Rules declare. Thus, these are not just American but global principles.

Except for Omar’s case, U.S. policy and practice has been to give special protection to children in war. In 1998, Congress adopted a resolution calling for the release, rehabilitation, and reintegration into society of children taken into custody on the battlefield.

In 2002, the United States ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, calling for similar treatment. Canada and the United States played leading roles in the drafting and adoption of that treaty. In answer to a question from Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) at Senate hearings, the State Department representative answered that “the United States actively supports activities to assist children affected by war, including demobilization, rehabilitation, and integration into civilian society.” A Defense Department witness, in the same hearings, noted that the treaty “offers important foreign-policy benefits.”

Marines have begun to receive training under the treaty, which calls on our soldiers to “avoid and limit” casualties among children in armed conflict; to fire for shock effect only; to use nonlethal weapons where possible; and to “welcome” child soldiers who escape or desert from opposing forces.

And in the past few years alone, the United States and Canada have spent millions of dollars on the rehabilitation of child soldiers in Afghanistan, all while Omar languishes in Cuba, waiting in total isolation for a trial that has yet to occur.

These funds in Afghanistan go to infrastructure projects such as school construction, but the most important focus of programs such as the New Beginnings Program is on “DD&R” — disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration. Demobilization includes the downsizing or disbanding of armed forces, both formal and informal, through release or discharge. Reintegration, which is recognized as the most crucial but most complex of the steps in the process, involves assistance to bring about the economic and social re-entry of children and their families into civil society.

The United States has certainly disarmed Omar. But where is his demobilization and reintegration?


No child of Omar’s age at the time of his alleged misconduct has ever been charged with war crimes before any international war crimes tribunal. The statute of the new International Criminal Court bars the prosecution of children under 18, and the international war crimes tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia have not prosecuted a single child under 18, though they have the power to do so.

Similarly, the prosecutor in the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where child soldiers have committed horrendous atrocities, has declined to prosecute children under 18 despite the statutory authority to do so. The reason was that trying children would not meet the court’s requirement to prosecute “those who bear the greatest responsibility.”

And in January 2006, a major report on military courts flatly recommended that “in no case” should a child under 18 ever “be placed under the jurisdiction of military courts” anywhere in the world.

Not all children at Guantánamo have been treated like Omar. In April 2003, after sharp inquiries from the press and public, the Pentagon revealed that there were several children in detention at Camp Delta.

Subsequent investigation revealed three Afghan children there who had been captured at ages 10, 12, and 13. Gen. Richard Myers, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a press conference at the time that “despite their age, these are very, very dangerous people. . . [T]hey may be juveniles, but they’re not on a Little League team anywhere, they’re on a Major League team, and it’s a terrorist team.” These younger children at Guantánamo, however, were separated from the adult detainees and put into a separate facility — Camp Iguana — where they received education and comfortable treatment before their nearly immediate transfer back to Afghanistan and their families.

Not so with Omar Khadr. Age 16 at the time of his arrival in Cuba, he was arbitrarily classified as an adult and designated as an “enemy combatant” in a hearing without a lawyer that he declined to attend. The government argues that there is no lower age limit to the enemy-combatant designation, and thus no minimum age limit on commission jurisdiction to try Omar as an adult.

In fact, there is no affirmative provision of U.S. law, now or ever, whether in the statutory scheme for military commissions or for courts-martial, that sets an age limit that permits a 16-year-old detainee to be kept as an adult and tried for war crimes committed at age 15, while 10-, 12-, and 13-year-old detainees are sent home as juveniles. This despite passage of recent congressional enactments dealing with Guantánamo detainees such as the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006, either of which could have specifically granted such authorization if Congress wished.


Were he to be tried in the federal juvenile justice system, Omar, as a child under 18 years of age at the time of his alleged wrongs, would at least be entitled to a hearing, with counsel and possibly a guardian ad litem, before possible transfer into adult jurisdiction for criminal trial as an adult. His own best interests as a child would be paramount in the decision to transfer, and he would be entitled to constitutional due process of law in any such determination.

Forty years ago this year, the Supreme Court said, in its landmark In re Gault decision on juvenile rights in the criminal process, “under our Constitution, the condition of being a boy does not justify a kangaroo court.” The Gault Court recognized that a child certainly should not face criminal charges with less protections than an adult, given our concerns with the best interests of children.

Yet Omar faces that very prospect today, with trial by a military commission whose legitimacy is seriously questioned by many within Congress, the legal academy, and the military itself.

Remarkably, newly adopted rules for the reconstituted military commission process do contain provisions that make appropriate concessions for youth.

All, however, relate to children participating as witnesses or victims in the process. The rules recognize that a child — defined as anyone under the age of 16 — is entitled to special treatment before these military tribunals. The rules explicitly recognize that children are different than adults because they are more impressionable. Children, the commentary to the rules states, are particularly susceptible to fear, pressure, or intimidation.

The Supreme Court has recognized these developmental issues in its acknowledgement of new advances in the study of cognitive brain function in adolescents. In Roper v. Simmons (2005), the justices struck down the death penalty for minors under 18 at the time of their offenses. The Court found that these children “have diminished capacities to understand and process mistakes and learn from experience, to engage in logical reasoning, to control impulses, and to understand the reactions of others.”

Surely this is no less true for a child defendant in a military commission trial, but neither the Military Commissions Act nor the new rules make any concession for the youth of the accused, whether in trial or in sentencing.

The impending trial of Omar Khadr by U.S. military commission is unprecedented and wrong — historically, legally, and morally. In January, the United Nations adopted Resolution 61/146, which calls on all countries to implement measures for children involved in armed conflict. These measures are not for trial, but for “rehabilitation, physical, and psychological recovery and reintegration into society.”

Canada must call for the return of its son and citizen to his home and family. And the United States must set an example for the world. Rather than a vindictive and vengeful trial of a child for alleged war crimes, it should send Omar home.

Rick Wilson is a law professor and director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at American University in Washington, D.C.

U.S. court ruling lifts freeze on Palestinian bank authority funds

Last update - 18:43 07/04/2007

By Reuters

A New York court has ordered e30 million in Palestine Monetary Authority funds unfrozen and allowed it to resume operations in the United States after a court fight stemming from a 1996 Hamas attack.

At a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the Authority said on Saturday an April 2 ruling by the Supreme Court of the State of New York cleared the way for it to carry out functions as the Palestinian central bank.

It had been unable to access the funds or carry out U.S. dollar transactions since 2005 because of a years-old court case brought by the family of Yaron Ungar, an American who was killed along with his wife in the 1996 shooting in Israel.

The suit alleged that the Palestinian Authority was culpable because it failed to take steps to stop Hamas militants from carrying out such attacks.

The Supreme Court of the State of New York said the Palestine Monetary Authority "is a separate entity from the Palestinian Authority and the money in its name ... should be released."

"We're very, very pleased it's over," said George Abed, the Palestine Monetary Authority's governor.

"The PMA will now proceed to reengage in its full range of statutory responsibilities of safeguarding monetary and financial stability and promoting economic growth," he said.

Abed said the order would take effect within days.

"We are now free to operate in dollars in the U.S. and elsewhere," he said.

Abed said the lawsuit had prevented the authority from performing the normal functions of a central bank. Both the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Monetary Authority were established by the 1994 Oslo Accords.

The court had ruled that the monetary authority performs many of the functions of a national central bank, such as insuring the soundness of the banking system, maintaining monetary stability and encouraging economic growth.

Ungar was a Brooklyn-born rabbinical student in Israel, where he lived with his wife and two young children.

His wife, Efrat, also was killed in the attack.

In 2005, a federal court in Rhode Island ordered a freeze of all U.S.-based assets of the Palestinian Authority after the Palestinian government failed to pay e116 million in damages imposed by the court in 2004, according to legal documents.

Jundullah: Iran-Contra Crimes Revisited

Friday April 06th 2007, 9:39 am

It is part Contra, part “al-Qaeda,” and part Taliban. “A Pakistani tribal militant group responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005,” reports ABC News. “The group, called Jundullah, is made up of members of the Baluchi tribe and operates out of the Baluchistan province in Pakistan, just across the border from Iran…. U.S. officials say the U.S. relationship with Jundullah is arranged so that the U.S. provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or ‘finding’ as well as congressional oversight.”

Congressionally approved funding is not an issue, as Jundullah’s leader, Abd el Malik Regi, is not only “part Taliban, part Sunni activist,” but a drug smuggler as well—a not uncommon profession for “activists” working for the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI. “Regi is essentially commanding a force of several hundred guerrilla fighters that stage attacks across the border into Iran on Iranian military officers, Iranian intelligence officers, kidnapping them, executing them on camera,” explained Alexis Debat, a senior fellow on counterterrorism at the Nixon Center and an ABC News consultant.

Not that you’ll hear a peep about this in the corporate media, now so obsessed with the Iranian release of British “hostages,” that is to say admitted military intelligence operatives working for the Royal Marines.

Jundullah members captured in Iran after blowing up a bus with members of the Revolutionary Guard onboard back in February “said they had been trained for the mission at a secret location in Pakistan.” Back in 2003, the CIA established “secret bases” in Pakistan, ostensibly to hunt for the dead Osama bin Laden and his dour pranksters, that is to say patsies and mental deficients.

Of course, this is but the latest effort in a long and sordid relationship between the CIA and ISI, stretching back into the 1980s when “the ISI’s Covert Action Division received training in the US and many covert action experts of the CIA were attached to the ISI to guide it in its operations against the Soviet troops by using the Afghan Mujahideen, Islamic fundamentalists of Pakistan and Arab volunteers,” according to B. Raman, writing for the South Asia Analysis Group. As we know, select members of the “Islamic fundamentalists,” particularly the “Arab volunteers,” later became “al-Qaeda,” the CIA spawned terrorist group named after a Mujahideen database.

“Some former CIA officers say the [Jundullah] arrangement is reminiscent of how the U.S. government used proxy armies, funded by other countries including Saudi Arabia, to destabilize the government of Nicaragua in the 1980s,” ABC continues.

In the Contra operation, drug smuggling played a central role, as it did in Afghanistan. “In 1984, stories began to emerge about a secret Nicaraguan Contra network run by a Lieutenant Colonel in the basement of the White House and financed by the importation of large amounts of cocaine,” write Dennis Bernstein and Julie Light. “It was soon revealed that the name of the Lieutenant Colonel was Oliver North and that there was in fact a secret illegal network that was pieced together by the Central Intelligence Agency,” a fact “actively suppressed by Democrats and Republicans alike” during the Iran-Contra hearings. The late Gary Webb, writing for the San Jose Mercury News, documented in “a three-part well-documented story … how the Contra network created, supervised, and funded by the CIA, had run for 10 years a cocaine supply line by transshipping from Central America through San Francisco and down to Los Angeles thousands of kilos of cocaine,” in essence creating the crack cocaine epidemic.

As noted in Volume II of the CIA’s Inspector General’s report, complicity in drug smuggling and the crack cocaine epidemic runs deep—either by direct participation or facilitating a cover-up—including such insiders as Richard Armitage, Frank Carlucci, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Michael Ledeen, Ed Meese, Adm. John Poindexter, Richard Secord, Casper Weinberger, and James Woolsey.

“For criminal organizations, participating in covert operations offers much more than money. They may get a voice in selecting the new government. They may get a government that owes them for help in coming to power. They may be able to use their connections with the United States government to enhance their political power at home,” explains Jack Blum, the former Chief Counsel to John Kerry’s Subcommittee on Narcotics and Terrorism in 1996 Senate Hearings, a subcommittee chaired by Arlen “Magic Bullet” Specter. “I think that if people in the government of the United States make a secret decision to sacrifice some portion of the American population in the form of … deliberately exposing them to drugs,” Blum added.

Naturally, sacrificing “some portion of the American population” is no big deal for the U.S. government—although we are told, most recently during the hysterical reaction to the comments of Rosie O’Donnell, that our government would never do such things, never mind ample evidence, from CIA biological weapons experiments conducted upon unwitting citizens to the plans detailed in Operation Northwoods to “sacrifice some portion of the American population” through terrorism and thus hopefully undermine the government of Fidel Castro. As well, history is littered with instances of the U.S. government sacrificing hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers—to say nothing of millions of victims in targeted countries—in “military adventures” stretching back to the Spanish-American War in 1898 and continuing to this day in Iraq, Afghanistan and, if the neocons have their way, Iran.

In effect, the undeclared “secret” war against Iran, well underway as the “story” on Jundullah reveals, is simply the latest episode of this long and sordid history.

It should come as no surprise the effort against Iran is a pet project of Dick Cheney. “ABC cited Pakistani government sources as saying the secret campaign against Iran was on the agenda when Vice President Dick Cheney met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in February,” notes a post on the Indian-Muslims website.

Finally, so enamored are the neocons with Cheney, they want to run him as president in 2008, as none of the Republican selectees currently dominating the field are “hawkish” enough, that is to say they apparently lack the required degree of murderous psychosis.

“Mr. Cheney has virtues as a candidate in his own right. He has foreign policy experience by virtue of having served as defense secretary,” an op-ed appearing in the New York Sun assures us. “His wife, Lynne, would be an asset to the ticket in her own right,” as her connections to the military-snoop-industrial complex and the neocon “think tanks” run deep. Dick’s unflagging desire to expand the neocon “war” into Iran, as evidenced by his working closely with the dictator Musharraf to spawn yet another CIA created terrorist group, according to the neocon organ the New York Sun, is a “contrast to the carping over tactics that has infected some of the Republican field and to the fever among the Democrats for cutting off funds for our GIs and sounding a retreat.”

Dick Cheney is the neocon choice for president, never mind he may well keel over dead from a heart attack before the “election” come 2008. In that case, the neocons will need settle for one of the other “contenders,” none of them as blood-thirsty and sadistic as Dick.

IMF can't keep dictating policies

By Mark Weisbrot

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Page 5
2007-04-06 12:15 AM

It's a rite of Spring in the nation's capital as winter fades and the cherry blossoms burst into their pale pink splendor - the International Monetary Fund and World Bank hold their annual meetings.
It was not so long ago, in the pre-September 11 world, that the event attracted protestors, police crackdowns, and pre-emptive strikes against them.

"Better the finance meeting had been held offshore, like other nefarious cartels do, than to reinforce the image of our nation's capital as a two-bit capitalist dictatorship," wrote Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy in 2000, after the police rounded up scores of bystanders, including tourists, and threw them in jail.

Today the IMF attracts relatively little attention, mostly because it has become a shadow of its former self. The protests - among many others throughout the developing world - helped bring about this historic change by shining some light on an organization that has spent most of its 63 years operating under the radar.

The Fund's portfolio of loans has been sharply reduced: from US$96-billion as recently as 2004 to just US$20 billion today. About half of that US$20-billion is owed by Turkey. But much more importantly, the Fund has lost its enormous power to pressure middle-income developing countries to adopt a whole set of economic policies that were often not in their interests.

The IMF's power was based on an informal arrangement that put the Fund at the head of a powerful creditors' cartel. A government that didn't meet the Fund's conditions wouldn't be eligible for most loans from the World Bank, other multilateral lenders such as the Inter-American Development Bank, rich country governments, and sometimes even the private sector. This gave the IMF enormous leverage: often it could present governments with an "offer they couldn't refuse."

U.S. influence

Since the U.S. Treasury Department holds a veto over IMF decisions, this power was even more concentrated, and was in fact the major avenue of U.S. influence over the economic policies of developing countries.

That power began to erode after the East Asian Financial crisis in the late 1990s, where the IMF's intervention was widely seen as having increased the regional economic damage and imposing unwanted conditions on the affected countries, such as South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand. These countries and others have since accumulated large international reserves and will never have to go back to the Fund.

The Fund's contribution to Argentina's economic collapse in 1998 and its unwillingness to help with the country's recovery further damaged the IMF's reputation. Argentina also showed that the IMF and associates' that "help" was unnecessary, disregarding their advice to become the fastest-growing economy in the Western Hemisphere over the last five years.

Then Venezuela began to make billions of dollars of its international reserves available to neighboring countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and others. This broke the back of the creditors' cartel by offering an alternative source of credit with no strings attached.

The Fund sees itself as a victim of its own success - the world hasn't had any major financial crises in recent years and developing countries can borrow from private sources at relatively low interest rates. Some economists think the Fund will regain its power when the next crisis hits.

But it won't. The IMF has lost power because its policy prescriptions didn't work. The areas where it had the most influence, such as Latin America and Africa, have experienced profound economic growth failures.

The fastest growing countries in the world over the last 25 years - China, Vietnam, and India - were free from the Fund's influence.

The next important step will be for the poorest countries in the world, which are still in the grip of the IMF's cartel, to become independent.

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the nonpartisan Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. (, and co-author of "Political Forecasting: The IMF's Flawed Growth Projections for Argentina and Venezuela."

In His Own Words: Captured Marine Says We Were Gathering Iran Intelligence - Transcript

In His Own Words

Updated: 17:22, Thursday April 05, 2007

Captain Chris Air of the Royal Marines revealed to Sky News that he and his colleagues had been gathering intelligence on the Iranians.

Here follows the full transcript of that interview.

Captain Air: "This is what's called an IPAT - an Interaction patrol whereby we come alongside or even board the fishing Dhows and basically interact with the crew.

"It's partly a hearts-and-minds type patrol, whereby we'll come along and speak to the crew, find out if they have any problems and just sort of introduce ourselves, let them know we're here to protect them, protect their fishing and stop any terrorism and piracy in the area.

"Secondly it's to gather int (Intelligence). If they do have any information because they're here for days at a time, they can share it with us whether it's about piracy or any sort of Iranian activity in the area because obviously we're right by the buffer zone with Iran

Jonathan Samuels "This Dhow had been robbed by some Iranian soldiers about 3 days ago, they had some money taken off them and apparently it's happened quite a lot of times in the past so it's good to gather int on the Iranians."

Sky Correspondent Jonathan Samuels: Is the captain happy to talk to you?

"Yes he is yeah. They're generally very compliant and friendly. We have a translator onboard who's a great help - sort of helps to break the ice - and we're obviously learning Arabic as well.

"It's good to help them just get relaxed and it's a very friendly and de-escalatory approach we adopt."

JS - Any dangers?
"At the moment we haven't encountered anyone who's been anything other than compliant (interrupted).

"We are capable of doing non-compliant boardings as well, however I think they'd be a bit stupid to start being aggresive with us because obviously we've got seven armed Marines and generally that's not a problem with us coming aboard because they understand we're here to help them at the end of the day."

JS - Any real risks?

"There can be yes, and we're not complacent about what we do so we make sure that we do take all the necessary security measure before we go jumping on a Dhow. We'll assess the situation and make sure it's secure before we come aboard."

No Saddam 'al-Qaeda'Link: Full Pentagon report


Liberals push to impeach Bush

By Christina Bellantoni

Published April 6, 2007

Congressional Democrats say their constituents are clamoring for something even the most liberal lawmakers promise they won't pursue: President Bush's impeachment.

"I get one call after another saying, 'Impeach the president,' " said Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat and one of Mr. Bush's most relentless critics on the Iraq war.

"It's a simple process but a very divisive thing," Mr. Murtha said. "You've got to measure what it's going to do to the country, and at this point I don't see that happening. Instead we'll fight it out on the issues."

Some members speculated that the Democratic takeover of Congress and passage of Iraq withdrawal timetables in both the House and Senate have emboldened liberals across the country who want to see the president embarrassed during his final 21 months in office.
"The timing is all wrong," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat. "If this were the first two years of his administration I would advocate impeachment. A lot of people at home say impeachment, and I'm sure he committed a lot of impeachable offenses, but think about it practically."

Mr. Nadler said impeachment hearings would be pointless and would only distract the country from the presidential election next year.

Democrats say their constituents also want them to target such administration figures as Vice President Dick Cheney, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's chief political adviser.

Rep. Diane Watson, California Democrat, said she hears calls for impeachment from every crowd.

"They say, 'Democrats: Do something. Get Cheney, Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales.' They are saying impeachment. I am hearing that more and more and more," said Ms. Watson.
She said she has been receiving "nothing but kudos" for being one of just a few Democrats to vote against the party's Iraq spending bill on the premise that Congress should not keep funding the war.

Although she said she would support impeachment, she speculated that it is "not a strategy our new leadership would want to start with."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, pledged last year not to seek impeachment hearings if her party won control of Congress.

"Democrats are not about impeachment," Mrs. Pelosi said on NBC's "Meet the Press" in May. "Democrats are about bringing the country together."

An online "Impeach Bush" movement has received 861,000 votes, and the president's approval ratings hover below 30 percent nationally, according to polls.

Few of those surveys ask about impeachment, and a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll conducted in January showed less than 1 percent think a Bush impeachment should be a "top priority" for Congress.

A December 2005 Rasmussen Reports poll found that 32 percent of Americans think Mr. Bush should be impeached.

Several congressional Democrats told The Washington Times in an informal survey last week that they think impeachment is the wrong strategy.

"The Republicans showed their true colors when they impeached President Clinton," said Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat.

He called the Whitewater investigation of the Clintons' Arkansas real estate dealings a "witch hunt" that wasted thousands of hours and "so much of the public's money."

"We Democrats have to show the people of this country that we're better than that," he said.
Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, last year authored a resolution calling on Congress to censure Mr. Bush for his warrantless wiretapping program. He told The Times that he is unlikely to reintroduce the bill or push for impeachment hearings.

"The election in many ways was a censure of the president and his performance in a number of these areas," Mr. Feingold said, noting that voters want Congress to tackle Iraq policy, health care and government accountability.

"Impeachment might make it look like we don't care about the other stuff," he said. "I don't think it serves the American people well, even though if there ever was a president that deserved to be removed, this is probably the guy."

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, backed censure last year but said the focus now should be on oversight. "It's a chance to change the administration's behavior, not just to express disappointment," said Kerry spokeswoman Amy Brundage.

Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat and Judiciary Committee chairman, has backed off his impeachment calls and has not reintroduced his bills to censure Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.
A Conyers spokesman said the chairman has "no plans to resubmit" the bills, but declined further comment. Mr. Conyers' campaign Web site once implored visitors to "demand an investigation of administration abuses of power" and consider impeachment.

Mr. Conyers is still no fan of the Bush administration, as is evident on the site now, but his calls for impeachment have been removed.

Dozens of comments posted as recently as yesterday urge Mr. Conyers to seek impeachment.
"At what point do the Democrats in Congress agree with the American people that impeachment is viable and warranted?" read one comment.

Mark A. Jeror Sr. echoed that thought and commented on the Conyers site, "Sooner or later, the biggest issue won't be the Iraq war. ... It will be the fact that the Democrats have all the evidence they need to impeach Bush, and they are too afraid to do anything."

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, said he thinks impeachment has merit. In a video on his 2008 presidential campaign site, Mr. Kucinich tells supporters: "We need to reevaluate the direction of this administration by looking at its conduct in office, by determining whether it has faithfully followed the laws of our nation. I'm prepared to
start that process."

Even as Africa Hungers, Policy Slows Delivery of U.S. Food Aid

April 7, 2007

MULONDO, Zambia — Traveling to school in wobbly dugout canoes, Munalula Muhau and her three cousins, 7- and 8-year-olds whose parents had died from AIDS, held onto just one possession: battered tin bowls to receive their daily ration of gruel.

Within weeks, those rations, provided by the United Nations World Food Program, are at risk of running out for them and 500,000 other paupers, including thousands of people wasted by AIDS who are being treated with American-financed drugs that make them hungrier as they grow healthy.

“Not to put too fine a point on it,” said Jeffrey Stringer, an American doctor who runs a nonprofit group treating more than 50,000 Zambians with AIDS, “but it will result in the death of some patients.”