American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, December 07, 2002
Palestinians arrest Israeli agents posing as al-Qaeda
Palestinian security forces have arrested a group of Palestinians for collaborating with Israel and posing as operatives of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network, a senior official said yesterday.

"The Palestinian Authority arrested a group of collaborators who confessed they were working for Israel, posing as al-Qaeda operatives in the Palestinian territories," said the official, on condition of anonymity.

He said the alleged collaborators sought to "discredit the Palestinian people, justify every Israeli crime and provide reasons to carry out a new (military) aggression in the Gaza Strip."
Asaf's Letter to the IDF recruitment office requesting to appear before the CO committee

Re:Request for exemption from military service as a conscientious objector in accordance with paragraph 36 of the Military Service Law (unified version) -1986

I, Asaf Shtull-Trauring, a 17 year old high school student, hereby present to you my request for exemption from military service (compulsory and reserve) for reasons of conscience, under the appropriate statutes.

I hereby declare that my political world view and basic values prevent me from serving in the IDF. I see in my refusal to serve in the Israel Defense Forces a basic democratic right, and my duty as a citizen. I cannot allow myself to be a soldier in the IDF, just as I would not allow myself to be a soldier in the South African army during the Apartheid regime. I cannot see myself being part of any military organization that uses its weapons and force against civilians, human rights, democratic rule and a just society.
[more]

Salvaging the Wreck

The Likud election results. Attacks in Kenya. More dead in Gaza. President Bush saber rattling about Iraq. Our unquenchable thirst for oil poisoning Spain's beaches and sea birds. Israeli soldiers killing UN officials and getting away with it. The largest US defense budget in history passes with little protest. Henry Kissinger and Elliott Abrams, criminals from years past, return to public office. The world is spinning towards war, hatred, chaos and uncertainty.
[more]

Persian Gulf—or Tonkin Gulf?
Illegal "no-fly zones" could be war's trip wire.

In a pair of editorials after the 1991 Gulf War, one of them titled "Don't Shoot Down Iraqi Aircraft," The New York Times called the plan to create vast "no-fly zones" (NFZs) in Iraq "legally untenable and politically unwise." The editorials, based on a careful reading of United Nations resolutions, were explicit: "The [cease- fire] accord permits Iraq to fly all types of aircraft and sets no restriction on their use. Shooting them down would put the United States in the position of breaking an accord it is pledged to uphold." Saying that Washington was entering "new and dangerous territory," the Times warned, "The purpose [of the NFZs] is unclear, probably unwise and maybe even illegal."

In fact, no UN resolution or other international authority exists to legitimize the NFZs, which are currently the scene of an intensifying air-to-ground firefight between an armada of U.S. and British warplanes and an ineffectual Iraqi defense system. The British-American presence over Iraq is a case of might-makes-right, and Iraq's feeble attempts to defend its skies are justified under international law. Yet the NFZs are immeasurably more explosive now because a unilateral U.S. interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 1441, adopted on Nov. 8, provides a pretext for launching the war that President George W. Bush wants.
[more]
Friday, December 06, 2002
For educational purposes, check out what you would have received last week in your email box had you been an employee of the Department of Justice:
The Attorney General
Washington D.C.
November 2002

Dear DOJ Family,

As Americans prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the many blessings made possible by the sacrifice of generations that have gone before us. In their first years in the New World, the Pilgrims suffered and sacrificed, paving the way for the America that now exists.


During one particularly harsh time, known as "The Starving," each Pilgrim was allocated a mere five (5) kernels of corn per day. Nothing more was eaten except the seafood which was caught. That disciplined, sacrificial hardship protected the seedcorn that was necessary for future plenty.


This Thanksgiving in America, as I thank God for His blessings and the sacrifices of those who have gone before me, I also give thanks for you. I am grateful for our opportunity to work together to promote freedom around the world. May God bless and protect you, your family and America.


Sincerely,

John Ashcroft

Historical memory: In the run-up to the American War in Vietnam, there was considerable debate within LBJ's government about the best strategy to pursue. There was almost no debate about whether or not to escalate the war, despite the fact that Johnson had run for election on the grounds that Goldwater would dangerously escalate the American involvement in Vietnam. The JCS wanted an all-out war from the start, including the option to use nuclear weapons, while the civilians in DOD favored a slow build-up. While it is always dangerous to argue from historical parallels, it is nevertheless instructive to recall that debate today, in the context of the current run-up to war with Iraq. I am a student of the Vietnam War(s) & while there are a number of texts we might consult (particularly Jeffrey Record's The Wrong War) nothing I have read traces the internal politics of the Johnson administration's war planning with anything approaching the detail & nuance of Daniel Ellsberg's memoir, Secrets. Even while denouncing Goldwater's suggestion that field commanders be given authority to use tactical nuclear weapons, Johnson had already given his military a (more limited) authority to use such weapons under particular circumstances, such as an inability to communicate with Washington. Several members of Johnson's Joint Chiefs of Staff, especially Curtis LeMay, secretly supported Goldwater's position. Throughout this process, many civilian analysts in the Defense Department, including, according to Ellsberg, Robert McNamara, not only opposed the use of nuclear force, but also took seriously LBJ's declaration, "We seek no wider war." The picture Ellsberg pains is of an administration that at its highest levels was bent on pursuing a policy of escalation even while many (though by no means all) of its own policy intellectuals were deeply skeptical of such a policy.

The mendacity & duplicity that resulted from this situation effectively shut the Congress & the American people out of the debate. Guys like Ellsberg (he says) saw the Congress as an obstacle to be circumvented rather than as a representative of the American people. In fact, the one thing that all the participants in the debate agreed on was that democratic institutions were not all that well-suited to their agendas, whatever they were. And so everybody who knew anything simply lied to the people's representatives & to the press. Secrecy was seen as a virtue closely allied with loyalty. Reading Ellsberg's account, it becomes clear that all of the significant debate about the war took place within the executive branch of the government, the legislative branch having been effectively frozen out of the process. What's more, information about the war was manipulated in order to achieve political ends. When the Viet Cong attacked American interests at Pleiku & Qui Nhon in February of 1964, plans had already been developed for systematic bombing of North Vietnam. That is, the US government was looking for a pretext to attack, despite the fact that LBJ had not authorized any action except tit-for-tat raids in response to specific incidents. Ellsberg reports that after the Qui Nhon raid, he spent the night in the Joint Chiefs War Room in the Pentagon, where he was given an open line to Saigon so that he could gather atrocity stories for McNamara to take to Johnson the next morning.

I do not mean to minimize the loss of lives, American & Vietnamese, that occurred in Vietnam at this time; the point I'm trying to make here is political. Instead of a debate about the merits of escalating American commitment in Southeast Asia, there was a defense establishment that, despite its own lack of unanimity, configured itself to expand the war even while the world was being told that was not the case [The Pentagon Papers, Vol 3 pp 193, 559]. Ellsberg says he acted out of loyalty & that only later did he come to see that this loyalty was misplaced. He thought, he says, that McNamara & the president were committed to a limited war, a war of containment that would avoid large-scale bombing campaigns.

Now, from what we poor citizens can tell, there is also a debate going on in the highest reaches of our government. And the news this week seems to indicate that the administration is looking for an excuse to start a war in Iraq. The roles appear to be reversed this time, with the military showing considerably more reluctance to go to full-scale war than the civilians in DOD. One can debate the merits of the war & it is dangerous to draw historical analogies; the similarity here is mendacity. Then & now, the American government, especially the executive branch, demonstrated a profound lack of faith in the democratic institutions that are the foundation of American liberties. We have been down this road before.
Senator Daniel K. Inouye speaking of John Poindexter and Oliver North during 1987 Senate Hearings on the Iran-contra affair. He is disucssing their riding rough should over our constitution.

"This is a dangerous world," they said. That my fellow citizens is an excuse for autocracy, not policy. Becuase no times were more danerous than when our country was born, when revolution was our midwife. Our system of government has withstood the tests and tensions of civil conflict, the depression and two world wars, times hardly less challenging than our own present. Indeed as our greatest military leaders, such as Washington, Marshall, and Eisenhower, have recognized, our form of government is what gives us strength. It must be safeguarded, particularly when times are dangerous and the temptation to arrogant power is the greatest. Vigilance abroad does not require us to abandon our ideas of rule of law at home. On the contrary, without our principles and without our ideals we have little that is special or worthy to defend.

How soon we forget and how little things change.
Thursday, December 05, 2002
Poor Forgotten As Digital Divide Still Gapes: " . . . today, only 25 percent of American households earning less than $15,000 per year have Internet access, while nearly 80 percent of families earning $75,000 or more have access in the home."
Jeb Bush to Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau: "Walk softly."
Photographer Arrested For Taking Pictures Of Vice President's Hotel: "When Maginnis refused to admit to being any sort of terrorist, the Secret Service agent called him a 'raghead collaborator' and a 'dirty pinko faggot.'"
Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Bhopal disaster has no parallel in human history

It all began 18 years ago during the night of 2 December 1984 when 40 tonnes of lethal gases leaked from Union Carbide Corporation's pesticide factory in Bhopal, India. People just did not know what had hit them. There was no warning. Before anyone could realize the full impact of the disaster an area of about 40 square kilometres, with a resident population of over half a million, was engulfed in dense clouds of poison.

People woke up coughing, gasping for breath, their eyes burning. Many fell dead as they ran.

Monitoring Colonization Activies on the West Bank
In order to make room for the new 'outpost colony,' land was taken from Haj Shahin, his homes were demolished, and a new Jewish-only road was built in their place.
Eyeballing Total Information Awareness
The SF Weekly's column by Matt Smith in the Dec 3 issue points out that there may be some information that John M. and Linda Poindexter of 10 Barrington Fare, Rockville, MD, 20850, may be missing in their pursuit of total information awareness. He suggests that people with information to offer should phone 1 301 424 6613 to speak with that corrupt official and his wife. Neighbors Thomas E. Maxwell, 67, at 8 Barringon Fare ( 1 301 251 1326), James F. Galvin, 56, at 12 ( 1 301 424 0089), and Sherrill V. Stant (nee Knight) at 6, may also lack some information that would be valuable to them in making decisions -- decisions that could affect the basic civil rights of every American.
Monday, December 02, 2002
This kind of thing should come as no surprise to anybody...
who's been paying attention to the shenanigans of that gang in the white house...
One 36-year-old U.S. law can be broken, it seems.
Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who is sworn to enforce all laws,
has told federal employees that they can bend -- perhaps even break --
one law, and he will even defend their actions in court.
That law is known as the Freedom of Information Act.

MORE?
then there's this item on same subject from a few month's ago.
and then, oh yessssss....
there's that Kissinger business.


Erstwhile Warblogger Watcher Roy Edroso continues to kick ass and take names - specifically those of Andrew Ian Dodge, Scott W. Johnson and John H. Hinderaker. Absent permalinks on the AlicuBlog where the below was posted, I reproduce "Throwing Back Some Race Bait" in full:
Andrew Ian Dodge (in real life a splendid fellow) links enthusiastically to the Claremont Institute which, he avers, has the goods on "left-wing bias against black gun crime." I was not at sure first what Andrew meant by the phrase--why would anyone be biased in favor of black gun crime?--but I followed the link and found that the source of the confusion was Claremont itself.

In a piece interestingly titled "The Silence of the Liberals," the Institute posits a crime wave in Minneapolis (evidence presented: two murders), and is certain that the reason the city fathers have allowed it to flourish is that "The gangsters themselves are largely black, and Minneapolis's political culture is absorbed in a crusade against the reality that blacks are arrested and incarcerated in numbers that substantially exceed their proportion in the general population."

The reason for the title, and the continuing menace, says Claremont, is that none of the liberals in authority are willing to admit that these dark hordes are to blame: "That the numerical racial disparities rather obviously arise from underlying racial disparities in criminal behavior is taboo--a fact (or hypothesis) that is simply banished from public discussion."

I was prepared to concede, at this point in my reading, that no leftists, to my knowledge, had blamed crime, in Minneapolis or anywhere else, on a disproportionate number of black criminals, and I was anxious to see what remedies the Claremont posse would bravely propose to their breathless public.

Alas, in the home stretch Claremont loses the courage of its overtly racial convictions: "As Rudy Giuliani proved within months of taking the helm in New York City, dedicated and skilled executive leadership combined with appropriate law enforcement can take back the streets and restore the city's neighborhoods to their rightful owners. The techniques used by Mayor Giuliani and his police chiefs are well known; they need only be implemented and pursued with vigor."

Wait a minute. What happened to the black people? Having been called the problem, why are they absent from the solution?

The community policing efforts that, Giuliani and his people have always insisted, led to a steep drop in our crime rate were supposed to be about arresting "quality of life" offenders, not citizens of color. Not even James Q. "Broken Windows" Wilson referred in his writings to any such Black Peril as Claremont sees. Nor do I recall Giuliani ever forthrightly stating that he was targeting black citizens.

Could it be that they were dissembling, and Claremont knows better?

Here is an opportunity for Claremont or any of its ideological soulmates to break this "Silence of the Conservatives," if they will. Let them say, loudly and proudly, that New York was pacified by a sweep targeting black people specifically on the grounds that they cause all the trouble. Go ahead, fellas. Take that final, bravely "politically incorrect" step.

Or admit that the race flag is just a ruse conservatives use to portray their political opponents to a certain class of voter as--well, in the hinterlands they use a baser name; since we liberals are all about euphemisms, let us just say, "lovers of people of color."
Sunday, December 01, 2002
In Terror War, 2nd Track for Suspects
Those Designated 'Combatants' Lose Legal Protections

The Bush administration is developing a parallel legal system in which terrorism suspects -- U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike -- may be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system, lawyers inside and outside the government say.

The elements of this new system are already familiar from President Bush's orders and his aides' policy statements and legal briefs: indefinite military detention for those designated "enemy combatants," liberal use of "material witness" warrants, counterintelligence-style wiretaps and searches led by law enforcement officials and, for noncitizens, trial by military commissions or deportation after strictly closed hearings.
License To Chill -- Hackers Hamstring Rights Violators
SUMMARY: International hacker organization issues software license that
allows the group or its licensees to take human rights violators to court
.

CROSSHAIRS: This story is important for anyone interested in hacking,
human rights, information security, open-source software, Internet censorship, international law, international politics, or technology transfer.
It's already started

Reuters reports bombings in Iraq - an oil plant targeted, four killed. Meanwhile UN inspectors were busy visiting "an agricultural facility and military complexes near Baghdad". And the official reply from the U.S. Central Command? "We have nothing on it". Apparently it's not the first strike of this pre-officially-declared-war phase (there's always been on and off bombings during all the past ten years too). But formalities have to respected - so, it's not war yet. Presumably it takes a much higher frequence of air strikes to qualify as such.

The formal game continues, and this time it's not (yet, at least) Iraqis blocking inspections but inspectors blocking journalists from entering the facilites with them. It must be only for security reasons, of course...
"God is being invoked in many lands these days, my lord. What about the enemy's God?" -- Greta Garbo as Queen Christina in QUEEN CHRISTINA (1933).

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