The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
Not In Our Name
A Statement of Conscience

Let it not be said that people in the United States did nothing when their government declared a war without limit and instituted stark new measures of repression.

The signers of this statement call on the people of the U.S. to resist the policies and overall political direction that have emerged since September 11, 2001, and which pose grave dangers to the people of the world.

We believe that peoples and nations have the right to determine their own destiny, free from military coercion by great powers. We believe that all persons detained or prosecuted by the United States government should have the same rights of due process. We believe that questioning, criticism, and dissent must be valued and protected. We understand that such rights and values are always contested and must be fought for.

We believe that people of conscience must take responsibility for what their own governments do -- we must first of all oppose the injustice that is done in our own name. Thus we call on all Americans to RESIST the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush administration. It is unjust, immoral, and illegitimate. We choose to make common cause with the people of the world.

We too watched with shock the horrific events of September 11, 2001. We too mourned the thousands of innocent dead and shook our heads at the terrible scenes of carnage -- even as we recalled similar scenes in Baghdad, Panama City, and, a generation ago, Vietnam. We too joined the anguished questioning of millions of Americans who asked why such a thing could happen.

But the mourning had barely begun, when the highest leaders of the land unleashed a spirit of revenge. They put out a simplistic script of "good vs. evil" that was taken up by a pliant and intimidated media. They told us that asking why these terrible events had happened verged on treason. There was to be no debate. There were by definition no valid political or moral questions. The only possible answer was to be war abroad and repression at home.

In our name, the Bush administration, with near unanimity from Congress, not only attacked Afghanistan but arrogated to itself and its allies the right to rain down military force anywhere and anytime. The brutal repercussions have been felt from the Philippines to Palestine, where Israeli tanks and bulldozers have left a terrible trail of death and destruction. The government now openly prepares to wage all-out war on Iraq -- a country which has no connection to the horror of September 11. What kind of world will this become if the U.S. government has a blank check to drop commandos, assassins, and bombs wherever it wants?

In our name, within the U.S., the government has created two classes of people: those to whom the basic rights of the U.S. legal system are at least promised, and those who now seem to have no rights at all. The government rounded up over 1,000 immigrants and detained them in secret and indefinitely. Hundreds have been deported and hundreds of others still languish today in prison. This smacks of the infamous concentration camps for Japanese-Americans in World War 2. For the first time in decades, immigration procedures single out certain nationalities for unequal treatment.

In our name, the government has brought down a pall of repression over society. The President's spokesperson warns people to "watch what they say." Dissident artists, intellectuals, and professors find their views distorted, attacked, and suppressed. The so-called Patriot Act -- along with a host of similar measures on the state level -- gives police sweeping new powers of search and seizure, supervised if at all by secret proceedings before secret courts.

In our name, the executive has steadily usurped the roles and functions of the other branches of government. Military tribunals with lax rules of evidence and no right to appeal to the regular courts are put in place by executive order. Groups are declared "terrorist" at the stroke of a presidential pen.

We must take the highest officers of the land seriously when they talk of a war that will last a generation and when they speak of a new domestic order. We are confronting a new openly imperial policy towards the world and a domestic policy that manufactures and manipulates fear to curtail rights.

There is a deadly trajectory to the events of the past months that must be seen for what it is and resisted. Too many times in history people have waited until it was too late to resist.

President Bush has declared: "you're either with us or against us." Here is our answer: We refuse to allow you to speak for all the American people. We will not give up our right to question. We will not hand over our consciences in return for a hollow promise of safety. We say NOT IN OUR NAME. We refuse to be party to these wars and we repudiate any inference that they are being waged in our name or for our welfare. We extend a hand to those around the world suffering from these policies; we will show our solidarity in word and deed.

We who sign this statement call on all Americans to join together to rise to this challenge. We applaud and support the questioning and protest now going on, even as we recognize the need for much, much more to actually stop this juggernaut. We draw inspiration from the Israeli reservists who, at great personal risk, declare "there IS a limit" and refuse to serve in the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

We also draw on the many examples of resistance and conscience from the past of the United States: from those who fought slavery with rebellions and the underground railroad, to those who defied the Vietnam war by refusing orders, resisting the draft, and standing in solidarity with resisters.

Let us not allow the watching world today to despair of our silence and our failure to act. Instead, let the world hear our pledge: we will resist the machinery of war and repression and rally others to do everything possible to stop it.

Michael Albert
Laurie Anderson
Edward Asner, actor
Rosalyn Baxandall, historian
Russell Banks, writer
Jessica Blank, actor/playwright
Medea Benjamin, Global Exchange
William Blum, author
Theresa Bonpane, executive director, Office of the Americas
Blase Bonpane, director, Office of the Americas
Fr. Bob Bossie, SCJ
Leslie Cagan
Henry Chalfant, author/filmmaker
Bell Chevigny, writer
Paul Chevigny, professor of law, NYU
Noam Chomsky
Robbie Conal, visual artist
Stephanie Coontz, historian, Evergreen State College
Kimberly Crenshaw, Professor of Law, Columbia, UCLA
Kia Corthron, playwright
Kevin Danaher, Global Exchange
Ossie Davis
Mos Def
Carol Downer, board of directors, Chico (CA) Feminist Women's Health Center
Eve Ensler
Leo Estrada, UCLA professor, Urban Planning
John Gillis, writer, professor of history, Rutgers
Jeremy Matthew Glick, editor of Another World Is Possible
Suheir Hammad, writer
Rakaa Iriscience, hip hop artist
David Harvey, distinguished professor of anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center
Erik Jensen, actor/playwright
Casey Kasem
Robin D.G. Kelly
Martin Luther King III, president, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Barbara Kingsolver
C. Clark Kissinger, Refuse & Resist!
Jodie Kliman, psychologist
Yuri Kochiyama, activist
Annisette & Thomas Koppel, singers/composers. Savage Rose
Dave Korten, author
Tony Kushner
James Lafferty, executive director, National Lawyers Guild/L.A.
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, TIKKUN Magazine
Barbara Lubin, Middle East Childrens Alliance
Staughton Lynd
Anuradha Mittal, co-director, Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First
Malaquias Montoya, visual artist
Robert Nichols, writer
Rev. E. Randall Osburn, exec. v.p., Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Grace Paley
Jeremy Pikser, screenwriter
Juan Gomez Quinones, historian, UCLA
Michael Ratner, president, Center for Constitutional Rights
Adrienne Rich, poet
Boots Riley, hip hop artist, The Coup
David Riker, filmmaker
Edward Said
Michael Steven Smith, National Lawyers Guild
Bob Stein, publisher
Gloria Steinem
Alice Walker
Naomi Wallace, playwright
Rev. George Webber, president emeritus, NY Theological Seminary
Leonard Weinglass, attorney
John Edgar Wideman
Saul Williams, spoken word artist
Howard Zinn, historian

Organizations for identification only (signers as of 6/1/02)
Contact the Not In Our Name statement at:

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

John Ashcroft: Minister of Fear
Dick Meyer, CBS, June 12, 2002

Who needs terrorists when we have John Ashcroft to scare us out of our pants? The way the attorney general detonated the “dirty bomber” case this week completes his metamorphosis from a common press hog to a genuine fear monger.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]


COMMENT -- When President Bush announced to the world that the United States would not discriminate between terrorists and those who harbor them, he may not have considered every logical extension of this policy. Washington attorney, Nathan Lewin, uses Bush's logic to advocate a barbaric form of retribution against the families of suicide bombers. Support for Lewin's views may be muted, but anyone who supports the Bush doctrine might find it difficult to explain why they do not also support the Lewin version.

Top lawyer urges death for families of bombers
Ami Eden, Forward, June 7, 2002

A prominent Washington attorney and Jewish communal leader is calling for the execution of family members of suicide bombers.

Nathan Lewin, an oft-mentioned candidate for a federal judgeship and legal advisor to several Orthodox organizations, told the Forward that such a policy would provide a much-needed deterrent against suicide attacks. Under the proposal, which Lewin unveiled in the current issue of the opinion journal Sh'ma, family members would be spared if they immediately condemned the bombing and refused financial compensation for the loss of their relative.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]


Now showing on satellite TV: secret American spy photos

Duncan Campbell, The Guardian, June 13, 2002

European satellite TV viewers can watch live broadcasts of peacekeeping and anti-terrorist operations being conducted by US spyplanes over the Balkans. Normally secret video links from the American spies-in-the-sky have a serious security problem - a problem that make it easier for terrorists to tune in to live video of US intelligence activity than to get Disney cartoons or new-release movies.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]


The boy who kissed the soldier: Balata Camp

Starhawk, Palestine, June 1, 2002

"What source can you believe in order to create peace there?" a friend writes when I come back from Palestine. I have no answer, only this story:

June 1, 2002: I am in Balata refugee camp in occupied Palestine, where the Israeli Defense Forces have rounded up four thousand men, leaving the camp to women and children. The men have offered no resistance, no battle. The camp is deathly quiet. All the shops are shuttered, all the windows closed. Women, children and a few old men hide in their homes.

The quiet is shattered by sporadic bursts of gunfire, bangs and explosions. All day we have been encountering soldiers who all look like my brother or cousins or the sons I never had, so young they are barely more than boys armed with big guns. We've been standing with the terrified inhabitants as the soldiers search their houses, walking
patients who are afraid to be alone on the streets to the U.N. Clinic. Earlier in the evening, eight of our friends were arrested, and we know that we could be caught at any moment.

It is nearly dark, and Jessica and Melissa and I are looking for a place to spend the night. Jessica, with her pale, narrow face, dark eyes and curly hair, could be my sister or my daughter. Melissa is a bit more punk, androgynous in her dyed-blond ducktail.

We are hurrying through the streets, worried. We need to be indoors before true dark, and curfew. "Go into any house," we've been told. "Anyone will be glad to take you in." But we feel a bit shy.

From a narrow, metal staircase, Samar, a young woman with a wide, beautiful smile beckons us up.

"Welcome, welcome!" We are given refuge in the three small rooms that house her family: her mother, big bodied and sad, her small nieces and nephews, her brother's wife Hanin, round-faced and pale and six months pregnant.

We sit down on big, overstuffed couches. The women serve us tea I look around at the pine wood paneling that adds soft curves and warmth to the concrete, at the porcelain birds and artificial flowers that decorate a ledge. The ceilings are carefully painted in simple geometric designs.

They have poured love and care into their home, and it feels like a sanctuary.

Outside we can hear sporadic shooting, the deep 'boom' of houses being blown up by the soldiers. But here in these rooms, we are safe, in the tentative sense that word can be used in this place. "Inshallah", "God willing", follows every statement of good here or every commitment to a plan.

"Yahoud!" the women say when we hear explosions. It is the Arabic word for Jew, the word used for the soldiers of the invading army. It is a word of warning and alarm: don't go down that alley, out into that street.

But no one invades our refuge this night. We talk and laugh with the women.

I have a pocket-sized packet of Tarot cards, and we read for what the next day will bring. Samar wants a reading, and then Hanin. I don't much like what I see in their cards: death, betrayal, sleepless nights of sorrow and regret. But I can't explain that in Arabic anyway, so I focus on what I see that is good.

"Baby?" Hanin asks.
"Babies, yes,"
"Boy? Son?"

The card of the Sun comes up, with a small boy-child riding on a white house. "Yes, I think it is a boy," I say.

She shows me the picture of her first baby, who died at a year and a half. Around us young men are prowling with guns, houses are exploding, lives are being shattered. And we are in an intimate world of women. Hanin brushes my hair, ties it back in a band to control its wildness. We try to talk about our lives. We can write down our ages on paper. I am fifty, Hanin is twenty-three. Jessica and Melissa are twenty-two: all of them older than most of the soldiers. Samar is seventeen, the children are eight and ten and the baby is four. I show them pictures of my family, my garden, my step-grandaughter. I think they understand that my husband has four daughters but I have none of my own, and that I am his third wife. I'm not sure they understand that those wives are sequential, not concurrent - but maybe they do. The women of this camp are educated, sophisticated - many we have met throughout the day are professionals, teachers, nurses, students when the Occupation allows them to go to school.

"Are you Christian?" Hanin finally asks us at the end of the night.

Melissa, Jessica and I look at each other. All of us are Jewish, and we're not sure what the reaction will be if we admit it. Jessica speaks for us.

"Jewish," she says. The women don't understand the word. We try several variations, but finally are forced to the blunt and dreaded "Yahoud." "Yahoud!" Hanin says. She gives a little surprised laugh, looks at the other women. "Beautiful!"

And that is all. Her welcome to us is undiminished. She shows me the shower, dresses me in her own flowered nightgown and robe, and puts me to bed in the empty side of the double bed she shares with her husband, who has been arrested by the Yahoud. Mats are brought out for the others. Two of the children sleep with us. Ahmed, the little four year old boy, snuggles next to me. He sleeps fiercely, kicking and thrashing in his dreams, and each time an explosion comes, hurls himself into my arms.
I can't sleep at all. How have I come here, at an age when I should be home making plum jam and doll clothes for grandchildren, to be cradling a little Palestinian boy whose sleep is already shattered by gunshots and shells?

I am thinking about the summer I spent in Israel when I was fifteen, learning Hebrew, working on a kibbutz, touring every memorial to the Holocaust and every site of a battle in what we called the War of Independence. I am thinking of one day when we were brought to the Israel/Lebanon border.

The Israeli side was green, the other side barren and brown. "You see what we have made of this land," we were told. "And that - that's what they've done in two thousand years. Nothing."

I am old enough now to question the world of assumptions behind that statement, to recognize one of the prime justifications the colonizers have always used against the colonized. "They weren't doing anything with the land: they weren't using it." They are not, somehow, as deserving as we are, as fully human. They are animals, they hate us.

All of that is shattered by the sound of by Hanin's laugh, called into question by a small boy squirming and twisting in his sleep. I lie there in awe at the trust that has been given me, one of the people of the enemy, put to bed to sleep with the children. It seems to me, at that moment, that there are indeed powers greater than the guns I can hear all around me: the power of Hanin's trust, the power that creates sanctuary, the great surging compassionate power that overcomes prejudice and hate.

One night later, we again go back to our family just as dark is falling, together with Linda and Neta, two other volunteers. We have narrowly escaped a party of soldiers, but no sooner do we arrive than a troop comes to the door. At least they have come to the door: we are grateful for that for all day they have been breaking through people's walls, knocking out the concrete with sledgehammers, bursting through into rooms of terrified people to search, or worse, use the house as a thoroughfare, a safe route that allows them to move through the camp without venturing into the streets.

We have been in houses turned into surreal passageways, with directions spray painted on their walls, where there is no sanctuary because all night long soldiers are passing back and forth. We come forward to meet these soldiers, to talk with them and witness what they will do. One of the men, with owlish glasses, knows Jessica and
Melissa: they have had a long conversation with him standing beside his tank. He is uncomfortable with his role.

Ahmed, the little boy, is terrified of the soldiers. He cries and screams and points at them, and we try to comfort him, to carry him away into another room. But he won't go. He is terrified, but he can't bear to be out of their sight. He runs toward them crying.

"Take off your helmet," Jessica tells the soldiers. "Shake hands with him, show him you're a human being. Help him to be not so afraid." The owlish soldier takes off his helmet, holds out his hand. Ahmed's sobs subside. The soldiers file out to search the upstairs. Samar and Ahmed follow them. Samar holds the little boy up to the owlish soldier's face, tells him to give the soldier a kiss. She doesn't want Ahmed to be afraid, to hate. The little boy kisses the soldier, and the soldier kisses him back, and hands him a small Palestinian flag.

This is the moment to end this story, on a high note of hope, to let it be a story of how simple human warmth, a child's kiss, can for a moment overcome oppression and hate. But it is a characteristic of the relentless quality of this occupation that the story doesn't end here. The soldiers order us all into one room. They close the door, and begin to search the house. We can hear banging and crashing and loud thuds against the walls. I am trying to think of something to sing, to do to distract us, to keep the spirits of the children up. I cannot think of anything that makes sense. My voice won't work. But Neta teaches us a silly children's song in Arabic. To me, it sounds like:
"Babouli raizh, raizh, babouli jai, Babouli ham melo sucar o shai," "The train comes, the train goes, the train is full of sugar and tea."

The children are delighted, and begin to sing. Hanin and I drum on the tables. The soldiers are throwing things around in the other room and the children are singing and Ahmed begins to dance. We put him up on the table and he smiles and swings his hips and makes us all laugh.

When the soldiers finally leave, we emerge to examine the damage. Every single object has been pulled off the walls, out of the closets, thrown in huge piles on the floor. The couches have been overturned and their bottoms ripped off. The wood paneling is full of holes knocked into every curve and corner. Bags of grain have been emptied into the sink. Broken glass and china covers the floor.

We begin to clean up. Melissa sweeps: Jessica tries to corral the barefoot children until we can get the glass off the floor. I help Hanin clear a path in the bedroom, folding the clothes of her absent husband, hanging up her own things, finding the secret sexy underwear the soldiers have obviously examined. By the time it is done, I know every intimate object of her life.

We are a houseful of women: we know how to clean and restore order. When the house is back together, Hanin and Samar and the sister cook. The grandmother is having a high blood pressure attack: we lay her down on the couch, I bring her a pillow. She rests. I sit down, utterly exhausted, as Hanin and the women serve us up a meal. A few china birds are back on the ledge. The artificial flowers have reappeared. Some of the loose boards of the paneling have been pushed back. Somehow once again the house feels like a sanctuary.

"You are amazing," I tell Hanin. "I am completely exhausted: you're six months pregnant, it's your house that has just been trashed, and you're able to stand there cooking for all of us." Hanin shrugs. "For us, this is normal," she says. And this is where I would like to end this story, celebrating the resilience of these women, full of faith in their power to renew their lives again and again.

But the story doesn't end here.

The third night. Melissa and Jessica go back to stay with our family. I am staying with another family who has asked for support. The soldiers have searched their house three times, and have promised that they will continue to come back every night. We are sleeping in our clothes, boots ready.

We get a call.

The soldiers have come back to Hanin's house. Again, they lock everyone in one room. Again, they search. This time, the soldier who kissed the baby is not with them. They have some secret intelligence report that tells them there is something to find, although they have not found it. They rip the paneling off the walls. They knock holes in the tiles and the concrete beneath. They smash and destroy, and when they are done, they piss on the mess they have left.

Nothing has been found, but something is lost. The sanctuary is destroyed, the house turned into a wrecking yard. No one kisses these soldiers: no one sings.

When Hanin emerges and sees what they have done, she goes into shock. She is resilient and strong, but this assault has gone beyond 'normal', and she breaks. She is hyperventilating, her pulse is racing and thready. She could lose the baby, or even die.

Jessica, who is trained as a Street Medic for actions, informs the soldiers that Hanin needs immediate medical care. The soldiers are reluctant, "We'll be done soon," they say. But one is a paramedic, and Melissa and Jessica are able to make him see the seriousness of the situation. They allow the two of them to violate curfew, to run through the dark streets to the clinic, come back with two nurses who somehow get Hanin and the family into an ambulance and taken to the hospital.

This story could be worse. Because Jessica and Melissa were there, Hanin and the baby survive. That is, after all, why we've come: to make things not quite as bad as they would be otherwise.

But there is no happy ending to this story, no cheerful resolution. When the soldiers pull out, I go back to say goodbye to Hanin, who has come back from the hospital. She is looking dull, depressed: something is broken.

I don't know if it can be repaired, if she will ever be the same. Her resilience is gone; her eyes have lost their light. She writes her name and phone number for me, writes "Hnin love you." I don't know how the story will ultimately end for her. I still see in the cards destruction, sleepless nights of anguish, death.

This is not a story of some grand atrocity. It is a story about 'normal', about what it's like to under an everyday, relentless assault on any sense of safety or sanctuary.

"What was that song about the train?" I ask Neta after the soldiers are gone.

"Didn't you hear?" she asks me. "The soldiers came and got the old woman, at one o'clock in the morning, and made her sing the song. I don't think I'll ever be able to sing it again."

"What source can you believe in order to create peace there?" a friend writes. I have no answer. Every song is tainted; every story goes on too long and turns nasty. A boy whose baby dreams are disturbed by gunfire kisses a soldier. A soldier kisses a boy, and then destroys his home.

Or maybe he simply stands by as others do the destruction, in silence, that same silence too many of us have kept for too long. And if there are forces that can nurture peace they must first create an uproar, a vast breaking of silence, a refusal to stand by as the boot stomps down. copyright © Starhawk 2002
This story carries the author's copyright to protect her rights to future publication. Permission is given to email it, post it on the Internet, reprint it in relevant newsletters, etc.

About the author: Starhawk is a veteran of progressive movements and deeply committed to bringing the techniques and creative power of spirituality to political activism. A collection of her recent political writings, with new commentary, is forthcoming in September, 2002, from New Society Publishers: Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

New film accuses US of war crimes
Kate Connolly and Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, June 13, 2002

The filmmakers claim that thousands of Afghans, Pakistanis, Uzbeks, Chechens and Tajiks may now be buried at the mass grave. UN and human rights officials have found the grave but have not estimated the number it contains.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]


Airline passenger's rash sets off a smallpox scare

Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, June 12, 2002

Health authorities converged on a Northwest Airlines flight from San Francisco to Memphis after a passenger remarked that a rash on his neck might be a result of smallpox, officials said today. The 40-year-old man Memphis man, whose name was not released, was checked by paramedics, who determined that he did not have smallpox, a deadly, contagious virus that causes a high fever and a rash that scars its survivors. It was simply a case of the hives, and maybe some sunburn, authorities concluded. Nevertheless, the incident made for a good in-flight scare amid the backdrop of recent "air rage" and anthrax cases.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Mr Bush's titanic war on terror will eventually sink beneath the waves
Robert Fisk, The Independent, June 12, 2002

First it was to be a crusade. Then it became the "War for Civilisation". Then the "War without End". Then the "War against Terror". And now - believe it or not - President Bush is promising us a "Titanic War on Terror". This gets weirder and weirder. What can come next? Given the latest Bush projections last week - "we know that thousands of trained killers are plotting to attack us" - he must surely have an even more gargantuan cliche up his sleeve.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Disillusioned delegates walk out of loya jirga
Staff and agencies, The Guardian, June 12, 2002

The loya jirga's politics have left some delegates disillusioned and angry that foreigners and special interests have seemingly usurped their right to plot the nation's future.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Hello? Is anybody getting this down?
Geov Parrish, WorkingForChange, June 11, 2002

U.S. General John Ashcroft announced in Moscow Monday that the Bush Administration can now hold U.S. citizens in prison indefinitely, without charges, access to defense lawyers, or trial. I am not making this up.

And you'd think it would be a screaming headline.

Instead, this little nugget is being buried as, oh, I don't know - one sentence in the sixth paragraph of Tuesday morning's Associated Press story in one of my local papers. The headline, of course, and each of the other 27 paragraphs, dealt with the accusations against Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen and Chicago resident who is said by our government to have been assisting al-Qaeda in its efforts to detonate a "dirty" nuclear bomb in the United States.

The AP story genuinely devoted more lines to Padilla's traffic violations in the '90s than to John Ashcroft's assaults on 213 years of American jurisprudence.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

At checkpoint in Gaza, travelers wait and wait
Tim Golden, New York Times, June 12, 2002

In the West Bank, some Palestinian cities and towns have become isolated enclaves, surrounded by troops and tanks. But the restrictions are nowhere felt more sharply than by the 1.3 million people of the Gaza Strip, which has been effectively cut in half and sometimes into thirds by checkpoints set up in large part to safeguard the travel of Gaza's 7,100 Jewish settlers.
[The complete article - registration required]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The best of enemies?
Thomas L Friedman, New York Times, June 12, 2002

Quick quiz: Which Muslim Middle East country held spontaneous candlelight vigils in sympathy with Americans after Sept. 11? Kuwait? No. Saudi Arabia? No. Iran? Yes. You got it!
[The complete article - registration required]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Plots, plans and panics
The US lacks a serious anti-terror strategy

Lead Editorial, The Guardian, June 12, 2002

By their words and actions, George Bush and senior US administration officials may be doing more to terrify American citizens than the al-Qaida terrorists they have vowed to destroy. In particular, John Ashcroft's assertions about the alleged "dirty bomber", Abdullah al-Muhajir, require close scrutiny. The attorney-general claims a "plot" to attack the US with a radioactive weapon was foiled by Mr Al-Muhajir's arrest. But deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz is more circumspect. "It was not an actual plan," he says. FBI director Robert Mueller is vaguer still. "It had not got, as far as we know, much past the discussion stage, but there was substantial discussion." Is Mr Al-Muhajir to be charged therefore with the hitherto unfamiliar offence of talking? Or is there more substantial evidence to suggest prospective wrongdoing? Unfortunately Mr Ashcroft and his colleagues, by denying Mr al-Muhajir legal counsel and a public hearing and by locking him up indefinitely, have ensured that such questions cannot be answered. This they do in the name of national security. Yet by this and similar actions they undermine their cause, boost al-Qaida's credibility, scandalise the US constitution, and intensify the anxiety all Americans share about possible repeat attacks. Perhaps another terrible outrage really was forestalled. But the point is, how is the public to know?

The Bush administration's feckless attitude to civil liberties and the law, symbolised by its Guantanamo Bay prison camp, is far from being the only frightening aspect of current policy. Mr Bush's West Point speech on June 1 made clear that this administration now feels itself justified in threatening, and attacking without warning, states and individuals anywhere, any time if, in its unaccountable, secretly-sourced wisdom, it judges them to constitute a potential security risk. Mr Bush's aggressive rhetoric about the "evil axis", "unbalanced dictators", "mad tyrants", and unidentified foes seeking the "catastrophic power to strike at great nations" stokes rather than reduces fear. By threatening pre-emptive strikes, even to the irresponsible extent of using tactical nuclear weapons, Mr Bush foments international instability, encourages copycat behaviour by vassal governments, and invites pre-emptive pre-emption by hidden enemies. Thus is international law, like US domestic law, subverted, no doubt to the terrorists' silent delight. This is not leadership. It is scare tactics borne, perhaps, of an unpleasant mix of political calculation and something approaching private panic.

What is needed now is backbone - a little less of febrility in Washington, a little more of fortitude and calm resolve. Nobody doubts the reality of the terrorist menace; the potential horror of weapons of mass destruction in the wrong hands is plain to all. But curbing proliferation means, for example, fully funding the Nunn-Lugar programme for weapons disposal (which Mr Bush initially opposed) and extending it beyond the old Soviet sphere. Beating terrorism requires painstaking collective diplomacy and intelligence-gathering, not go-it-alone militarism. Sound leadership means respecting and building on America's democratic strengths, not emphasising America's vulnerability to justify the undercutting of its traditions. Too much of what Mr Bush and his officials say, including the al-Muhajir case, looks politically-driven, partly by a belatedly rising tide of domestic criticism, partly by a rightwing agenda. Too much of what they do lacks perspective. When fear usurps reason and becomes the ruling principle of governance, terrorism wins.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

On dance, identity and war
Omar Barghouti, Counterpunch, June 11, 2002

Is reconstruction only applicable to devastated buildings, roads, water pipes and electricity poles? How about shattered dreams and shaken identities, don't they need reconstruction as well? I could not but recall John Stuart Mill's definition of humans as "unique," "self-creating," and "creative individuals" who are "culture-bearing."
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Sharon rewrites the peace script
Henry Siegman, International Herald Tribune, June 12, 2002

Sharon's interest in the Palestinian Authority is not its democratic character but its effectiveness in eliminating terrorists and terrorism against Israel. The less transparent such efforts, the more effective they are likely to be. For this purpose a Genghis Khan is a far better president of the Palestinian Authority than a Thomas Jefferson. Yet Sharon had no difficulty getting U.S. and international support for his idea. There is every reason to believe that he will be equally adept at getting Washington to buy into his formulation of Resolution 242, a formulation that, for all practical purposes, erases Palestinian rights to the West Bank and Gaza.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Ashcroft hypes a dirty bomber
Big, bad John

James Rdigeway, Village Voice, June 12, 2002

In announcing this week the arrest of a Chicago-area man for allegedly plotting to set off a radiological bomb, Attorney General John Ashcroft at last did what civil rights activists and lawyers have been demanding for months—he stood up and named someone caught in his post-9-11 dragnet.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Fear itself is the main threat of a dirty bomb, experts say
Matthew L. Wald, New York Times, June 11, 2002

A dirty bomb would be simple — an Oklahoma City truck bomb laced with a few pounds of something radioactive — but the death and destruction would be from the bomb part, not the dirty part, experts say.
[The complete article - registration required]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A U.S. war against Iraq must be prevented now
Jan Oberg and Christian Harleman, Transnational Foundation, June 7, 2002

The problem with the West and its media, including The Wall Street Journal, is that the only Iraqi mentioned among 25 million is President Saddam Husayn. The only approach they have to one of the world's oldest and most sophisticated cultures is devastating sanctions and military enforcement. The only perspective they have is their own and it seems to be beyond dispute that they have a moral right to bomb societies and oust leaders they just do not like. How the Iraqis think and feel after the wars with Iran, with Kuwait, with each other, with the West and after 12 years of utterly inhuman sanctions is of no concern.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A mission to murder: inside the minds of the suicide bombers
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, June 11, 2002

In an investigation into this critical phenomenon, the Guardian interviewed the friends and families of 21 of the suicide bombers, searching for the motivations for those who did the bombing, and the cold calculations of those who sent them. Why have so many Palestinians - women and middle-aged men as well as a majority of young men - lined up to turn themselves into human bombs? And what do their handlers hope to achieve by aiming their violent ends at Israeli civilians?
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The axis of contradictions
Editorial, The War in Context, June 10, 2002

Alliances depend on the perception of mutual interest, on give and take, and on the willingness to compromise. To ally is to share power and by so doing, acquire power. For Americans convinced of this nation's unassailable global authority, does not the notion of sharing power suddenly look instead like giving power away? From this perspective, power shared is power lost.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

White House warmonger
Chris Matthews, San Francisco Chronicle, June 10, 2002

President Bush wants to change the Department of Defense back into a War Department. No longer are the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to defend America and American vital interests. In his speech at West Point last weekend, the president showcased a war agenda that included fighting for 'human liberty' against "terrorists and tyrants" and for "free and open societies on every continent." Who is this guy, Napoleon?
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Justice detained
Editorial, New York Times, June 10, 2002

he Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 assault on civil liberties reached a new low recently when the Justice Department argued in court that an American-born detainee, who may be a United States citizen, should not be allowed to talk to a lawyer. This is the same Justice Department that has refused to release the names and locations of the estimated 1,200 people detained after Sept. 11, and that has insisted on conducting detainees' legal hearings in secret. These policies are blatantly unconstitutional, and in recent rulings, courts have begun saying just that.
[The complete article - registration required]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Gangsters, murderers and stooges used to endorse Bush's vision of 'democracy'
Robert Fisk, The Independent, June 10, 2002

Washington wants the loya jirga to succeed. True, far too many of its pliant warlords – the Pashtun and Tajik gangsters whom the Americans paid in thousands of dollars for their sometimes loyal alliance against Osama bin Laden – have been trying to bribe and bamboozle their own candidates into power once they realised that the "grand assembly" of Afghans would actually be held today. And true, there has been intimidation and delegates murdered.

But a successful interim government – whatever its chances of producing fair parliamentary elections – is vital for the United States. Firstly, it will allow President Bush, despite his failure to capture either Mr bin Laden or the Pimpernel-like Mullah Omar, to claim that America has fulfilled its promise to bring "democracy" to Afghanistan. Secondly – and more importantly – because it is America's ticket out of the country. As an article in the Wall Street Journal, the President's best friend in his "war on terror", put it last week, nation-building "certainly beats keeping crack [sic] US troops on the Afghan-Pakistan border for the next 10 to 15 years".
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

'New' FBI, same old problems
Doug Ireland, In These Times, June 7, 2002

What do you do with a federal agency of notorious incompetence that is also famous for regularly trampling on the Constitution? If you’re George W. Bush, you give it more money and power. That’s exactly what happened when the “reorganization” of the FBI was announced on May 29 by Attorney General John Ashcroft. By giving the FBI carte blanche to spy on speech and ideas—from libraries to the Internet, from religious groups to political meetings—and by opening its files and agents to unprecedented levels of cooperation with the CIA (heretofore prohibited from domestic spying), the Bush administration has taken another giant step toward turning this nation into a garrison state.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]


COMMENT -- Will an FBI serving the Department of Homeland Security operate differently from the FBI of the '60's?

Secret FBI files reveal covert activities at University of California
Bureau's campus operations involved Reagan, CIA

Seth Rosenfeld, San Francisco Chronicle, June 9, 2002

Under the guise of protecting national security, the FBI conducted wide-ranging and unlawful intelligence operations concerning the University of California that at different points involved the head of the CIA and then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, The Chronicle has learned. According to thousands of pages of FBI records obtained by The Chronicle after a 17-year legal fight, the FBI unlawfully schemed with the head of the CIA to harass students, faculty and members of the Board of Regents, and mounted a concerted campaign to destroy the career of UC President Clark Kerr, which included sending the White House derogatory allegations about him that the bureau knew were false.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The warlords are plotting a comeback
Sam Zia-Zarifi, International Herald Tribune, June 10, 2002

Hundreds of delegates from across Afghanistan have arrived in Kabul to take part in the loya jirga, or grand national assembly, that meets from this Monday until next Sunday to select the next government. Contrary to the rules, many of these delegates have been handpicked by warlords determined to defend regional fiefdoms. The fate of the process, and the country, hinges on whether warlord representatives will outweigh delegates who seek a stable civilian government. An institution that promised the start of a democratic future could instead legitimize a return to the abusive past.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The holy name of liberty
Arundhati Roy, New Statesman, June 10, 2002

With each battle cry against Pakistan, India inflicts a wound on herself. As nationalism becomes synonymous with anti-Muslim prejudice, the subcontinent risks repeating the horrors of the Nazi regime.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

"Send in The Weekly Standard"
The Screaming Pundits Assault Corps

"George Sutherland", Counterpunch, June 8, 2002

On the model of the intellectuals who created the international brigades to fight in the Spanish Civil War, our 200 most illustrious war pundits should be formed into a special assault company to take on the tasks the U.S. military is too chicken to perform. Is there a Navy P-3 sitting shanghaied on Hainan Island? The 1st Pundit Assault Company (Special Operations Capable) should be parachuted into the island to blow it up and raise general mayhem among the perfidious Red hordes. Has the CIA overcome its incompetence and located Saddam Hussein in one of his numerous palaces? Send in the 1st Pundit Assault Company to storm the palace, overcome the Republican Guard, and slay the beast in his lair. Since Saddam is the leitmotiv and obsession of the pundits' writings, since he no doubt appears wraith-like in their troubled dreams, we can be sure the pundits would jump at the chance to kill him, even if the cost were their own certain death!
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

'Betrayal' of confused jihadis
Pakistan's shadowy spy agency, the ISI, has run thousands of militants into Kashmir and is now responsible for reining them in

Jason Burke, The Observer, June 9, 2002

Musharraf and his advisers clearly felt that with their new international credibility, gained by joining the 'war on terror', the world would be more sympathetic to their Kashmir policy. They were wrong. 'We knew we would get dumped eventually,' one senior Pakistani official said. 'We didn't think it would be so soon.'

Abdul Sattar, Pakistan's Foreign Minister, resigned on Friday for health reasons. Now the focus is shifting to Pakistan's internal affairs where there is growing anger at what many see as Musharraf's 'surrender' to the West.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Police to spy on all emails
Fury over Europe's secret plan to access computer and phone data

Kamal Ahmed, The Observer, June 9, 2002

Millions of personal emails, other internet information and telephone records are to be made accessible to the police and intelligence services in a move that has been denounced by critics as one of the most wide-ranging extensions of state power over private information. Plans being drawn up by Europol, the police and intelligence arm of the European Union, propose that telephone and internet firms retain millions of pieces of data - including details of visits to internet chat rooms, and of calls made on mobile phones and text messages.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Bush intelligence plan meant to blunt tough questions
James Ridgeway, Village Voice, June 7, 2002

President Bush's proposal for a new homeland security department amounts to dropping a fragmentation bomb on Congress to bust up growing demands for an inquiry into who knew what when about 9-11.
[The complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

HOME  |  ABOUT   |  CONTACT   |    Copyright  © 2002-2004 Paul Woodward     XML        Powered by Blogger Pro™
A daily record of America's post-9/11 impact on the world

Researched, edited and sprinkled with occasional commentary by Paul Woodward
Sign up for weekly email updates
A resource for more information about Iraq, the Middle East conflict, Afghanistan, Korea, nuclear proliferation, war, peace, and the foreign policies of the Bush Administration.


Get a DVD!
USS Liberty Survivors: Our Story

::  Search Site
::  Archives
archives prior to April 21, 2002
Not In Our Name
A Statement Of Conscience