The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
After Sept. 11, a legal battle over limits of civil liberty
Adam Liptak, Neil A. Lewis and Benjamin Weiser, New York Times, August 4, 2002

In the fearful aftermath of Sept. 11, Attorney General John Ashcroft vowed to use the full might of the federal government and "every available statute" to hunt down and punish "the terrorists among us."

The roundup that followed the attacks, conducted with wartime urgency and uncommon secrecy, led to the detentions of more than 1,200 people suspected of violating immigration laws, being material witnesses to terrorism or fighting for the enemy.

The government's effort has produced few if any law enforcement coups. Most of the detainees have since been released or deported, with fewer than 200 still being held.

But it has provoked a sprawling legal battle, now being waged in federal courthouses around the country, that experts say has begun to redefine the delicate balance between individual liberties and national security.

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Backing Bush all the way, up to but not into Iraq
Michael Janofsky, New York Times, August 3, 2002

A lifelong Republican, Tom Meaker worked on Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign in 1964, served as a Marine officer in Vietnam and now owns a small printing company. His vote helped George W. Bush carry Arizona in 2000.

But ask Mr. Meaker about the Bush administration's not-so-veiled hints of plans to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein, and party loyalty evaporates in the afternoon heat.

"How many countries are there in the world?" Mr. Meaker said without waiting for an answer. "How many dictators are there? How many terrible places are there? That's the problem. We pick and choose our evils. There are so many places to go, so why are we going to commit ourselves to this one?"

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FBI leak probe irks lawmakers
Dana Priest, Washington Post, August 2, 2002

FBI agents have questioned nearly all 37 members of the Senate and House intelligence committees and have asked many if they would be willing to submit to lie detector tests as part of a broad investigation into leaks of classified information related to the Sept. 11 attacks, according to officials involved in the inquiry.

Most of the lawmakers have told the FBI they would refuse a polygraph, citing the constitutional separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government and the unreliability of the exam, those involved in the inquiry said.

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The rush to war
Richard Falk, The Nation, August 19, 2002

The American Constitution at the very beginning of the Republic sought above all to guard the country against reckless, ill-considered recourse to war. It required a declaration of war by the legislative branch, and gave Congress the power over appropriations even during wartime. Such caution existed before the great effort of the twentieth century to erect stronger barriers to war by way of international law and public morality, and to make this resistance to war the central feature of the United Nations charter. Consistent with this undertaking, German and Japanese leaders who engaged in aggressive war were punished after World War II as war criminals. The most prominent Americans at the time declared their support for such a framework of restraint as applicable in the future to all states, not just to the losers in a war. We all realize that the effort to avoid war has been far from successful, but it remains a goal widely shared by the peoples of the world and still endorsed by every government on the planet.

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Where is the voice of dissent?
Norman Solomon, Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2002

As prominent senators consider the wisdom of making war on Iraq, truly independent thinking seems to stop at the water's edge. But I keep recalling a very different scene: On Feb. 27, 1968, I sat in a small room on Capitol Hill. Around a long table, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was in session, taking testimony from an administration official. I remember a man with a push-broom mustache and a voice like sandpaper, raspy and urgent.

Wayne Morse, the senior senator from Oregon, did not resort to euphemism. He spoke of the "tyranny that American boys are being killed in South Vietnam to maintain in power." Moments before the hearing adjourned, Morse said he did not "intend to put the blood of this war on my hands.

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The Saddam in Rumsfeld's closet
Jeremy Scahill, Common Dreams, August 2, 2002

Five years before Saddam Hussein’s now infamous 1988 gassing of the Kurds, a key meeting took place in Baghdad that would play a significant role in forging close ties between Saddam Hussein and Washington. It happened at a time when Saddam was first alleged to have used chemical weapons. The meeting in late December 1983 paved the way for an official restoration of relations between Iraq and the US, which had been severed since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

With the Iran-Iraq war escalating, President Ronald Reagan dispatched his Middle East envoy, a former secretary of defense, to Baghdad with a hand-written letter to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and a message that Washington was willing at any moment to resume diplomatic relations.

That envoy was Donald Rumsfeld.

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U.S. returns to theory of Iraq link to Sept. 11
Bob Drogin, Paul Richter and Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2002

Despite deep doubts by the CIA and FBI, the White House is now backing claims that Sept. 11 skyjacker Mohamed Atta secretly met five months earlier with an Iraqi agent in the Czech capital, a possible indication that President Saddam Hussein's regime was involved in the terrorist attacks. In an interview, a senior Bush administration official said that available evidence of the long-disputed meeting in Prague "holds up." The official added, "We're going to talk more about this case." Hard evidence that Hussein was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks would give strong ammunition to the administration in its efforts to build domestic and international support for a military campaign to topple the Iraqi leader. But the CIA and FBI concluded months ago that they had no hard evidence to confirm Czech claims that the Prague meeting took place.

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Terror pact forged by cruise missiles
Alan Cullison and Andrew Higgins, Wall Street Journal, August 2, 2002

In April 1998, shortly after Osama bin Laden called on Muslims everywhere to slaughter Americans, a group of senior U.S. officials traveled to the Afghan capital to try to break the ice with the Saudi exile's Taliban hosts. [...] Behind a facade of Islamic solidarity presented to the visitors raged a bitter struggle between two standard-bearers of radical Islam: the Taliban's Mullah Mohammed Omar and Mr. bin Laden.

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Iraq invites U.N. weapons inspector
Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press, August 2, 2002

Facing an increasing possibility of U.S. military action, Iraq gave the first solid indication in nearly four years that it will allow U.N. weapons inspectors to return and invited the chief inspector to Baghdad for talks. The return of inspectors is a key demand of the U.N. Security Council and especially of the United States, which has accused Iraq of trying to rebuild its banned weapons programs and of supporting terrorism.

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Surveillance rules are needed to save privacy, senators say
Adam Clymer, New York Times, August 2, 2002

Two Democratic senators, Charles E. Schumer of New York and John Edwards of North Carolina, said today that federal and state governments needed to set standards for how they used new surveillance techniques like video cameras and the monitoring of Internet use and called for a commission to propose such standards.

The senators, who do not yet have Republican supporters for their idea, said such surveillance techniques could threaten privacy if not used thoughtfully.

Their proposal is part of a growing concern in Congress about privacy. Last Friday the House voted to prohibit the proposed Department of Homeland Security from developing a national identity card and to block any government agency from using the proposed TIPS (for Terrorism Information and Prevention System) program of an organized corps of citizens reporting suspicious activities.

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Still tilting at windmills, and fighting for rights
Chris Hedges, New York Times, August 2, 2002

Michael Ratner, as a law student at Columbia University, was pushed to the ground and beaten by the police in 1968 as he and other students blocked the entrance to a building occupied by protesters.

This would turn out to be one of those defining moments. Mr. Ratner, who would graduate second in his class, got up, looked at his bloodied fellow protesters and decided to become a rebel.

"That night was crucial," he said. "An event like this created the activists of the next generation. I never looked back. I decided I was going to spend my life on the side of justice and nonviolence."

Three decades later, he is still at it.

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Directed energy: a new kind of weapon
Paul Rogers, Open Democracy, July 31, 2002

The US development of directed energy weapons – designed to advance protection of its forces, control of space, and the capacity to strike foreign targets at will – appears to be a seductive and effective route to guaranteeing US security in the 21st century. But, in the absence of any arms control regime, could the result instead be a higher level of threat?

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America sleepwalks to war with Iraq
Gwynne Dyer, Toronto Star, August 1, 2002

I always kid him and say: Mr. President, there is a reason why your father stopped and didn't go to Baghdad," said Senator Joseph Biden, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "He didn't want to stay for five years."

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Jumping the gun
Michael Byers, London Review of Books, July 25, 2002

'We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge.' Last month, in a commencement speech at West Point, George W. Bush announced an expansive new policy of pre-emptive military action. The graduating students greeted the announcement with enthusiastic applause, thus demonstrating not only their patriotism, but also a certain lack of historic awareness.

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Americans need a national discussion
Senator Joseph Biden and Senator Richard Lugar, International Herald Tribune, August 2, 2002

In recent months, President Bush has made clear his determination to remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power - a goal many of us in Congress share. Without prejudging any particular course of action - including the possibility of staying with nonmilitary options - we hope to start a national discussion of some critical questions.

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What a cornered Saddam might do
Graham T. Allison, International Herald Tribune, August 2, 2002

Imagine, God forbid, that as the United States builds up an invasion force in the Gulf, Saddam sends a secret letter to Bush informing him that he has placed biological weapons in New York, Washington and several other U.S. cities. Where would the confrontation go from there?

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Timing, tactics on Iraq war disputed
Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post, August 1, 2002

An increasingly contentious debate is underway within the Bush administration over how to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, with the civilian leadership pushing for innovative solutions using smaller numbers of troops and military planners repeatedly responding with more cautious approaches that would employ far larger forces.

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Bush urged to gain support for action on Iraq
Richard Wolffe, Financial Times, July 31, 2002

The Bush administration faced questions from Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday about the cost and effectiveness of US military strikes to topple Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.

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War and forgetfulness -- a bloody media game
Norman Solomon, Media Beat, August 1, 2002

Three and a half years ago, some key information about U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq briefly surfaced on the front pages of American newspapers -- and promptly vanished. Now, with righteous war drums beating loudly in Washington, let's reach deep down into the news media's Orwellian memory hole and retrieve the story.

"U.S. Spied on Iraq Under U.N. Cover, Officials Now Say," a front-page New York Times headline announced on Jan. 7, 1999. The article was unequivocal: "United States officials said today that American spies had worked undercover on teams of United Nations arms inspectors ferreting out secret Iraqi weapons programs.... By being part of the team, the Americans gained a first-hand knowledge of the investigation and a protected presence inside Baghdad."

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Bomb Saddam, save the G.O.P.
William Rivers Pitt,, July 30, 2002

Scott Ritter had come to Boston with a political agenda, one that impacts every single American citizen. Ritter was in the room that night to denounce, with roaring voice and burning eyes, the coming American war in Iraq. According to Ritter, this coming war is about nothing more than domestic American politics, based upon speculation and rhetoric and entirely divorced from fact. According to Ritter, that war is just over the horizon.

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King Abdullah: Foreign leaders oppose attack
Glenn Kessler and Peter Slevin, Washington Post, August 1, 2002

Foreign leaders are increasingly concerned that the United States is preparing for war against Iraq, and U.S. officials are making a "tremendous mistake" if they do not heed warnings from abroad against a military campaign, King Abdullah of Jordan said yesterday.

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Patriotism vs. protest
Kris Axtman, Christian Science Monitor, July 31, 2002

No one really knows what motivated John Walker Lindh to fight alongside the Taliban, but a controversial new song tries to figure out why: It begins: "I'm just an American boy raised on MTV/ and I've seen all those kids in the soda pop ads/ but none of 'em looked like me," and ends: "Now they're dragging me back/ with my head in a sack/ to the land of infidel."

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Experts warn of high risk for American invasion of Iraq
James Dao, New York Times, August 1, 2002

In the first public hearings on the administration's goal of ousting Saddam Hussein from the Iraqi presidency, an array of experts warned a Senate committee today that an invasion of Iraq would carry significant risks ranging from more terrorist attacks against American targets to higher oil prices.

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American nuclear scientists tell Bush to ratify test treaty
Julian Borger, The Guardian, August 1, 2002

The US National Academy of Sciences issued a report yesterday strongly backing US ratification of the comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT), in a rebuff to the Bush administration's policy of shelving the agreement.

The report was compiled over two years by a panel that included some of the country's leading nuclear scientists and the former commander of US forces in the Pacific, Charles Larson. It addressed the major security concerns raised by the Senate when it refused to ratify the treaty in 1999, and on each issue judged that the US would face "a more dangerous world" without the treaty.

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Blair is jumping the gun in backing Bush's war on logic
Hugo Young, The Guardian, August 1, 2002

If President George W Bush goes to war against Iraq, the ensuing conflict will be without a close modern precedent. Each of the main western wars of the last 20 years, however controversial, was perceivable as a response to manifest aggression. The Falklands war in 1982 was one such case, the 1991 Gulf war another. The military actions in Bosnia and Kosovo were conducted for the defence of ethnic groups facing aggression at the heart of Europe. Each had a measure of international approval.

A war to unseat Saddam Hussein would proceed on a different basis, encompassed in the seductive word "pre-emptive". The attack would be unleashed to stop Saddam doing something he has not yet started to do with weaponry whose configuration and global, or even regional, potency is hard to determine but might be serious. The Pentagon civilians pressing the case envisage a gratuitous attack - one not preceded by an act of aggression - by one sovereign country on another to get rid of a leader who happens to worry and enrage them.

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Iraq: Why not do nothing?
Marc Lynch, Christian Science Monitor, July 31, 2002

War supporters respond to doubters with a seemingly irresistible argument: What is the alternative? Do you really want Mr. Hussein to get weapons of mass destruction and give them to terrorists or threaten his neighbors? This objection is far less overwhelming than it may appear. Most commentators seem too cowed by the array of politicians and pundits favoring war to make the obvious response: Do nothing.

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The view from Baghdad
Graham T. Allison, Washington Post, July 31, 2002

As preparation for war against Iraq intensifies, the time has come to pause and consider the view from Baghdad. Conclusions from such an exercise are not comforting. But to strike without thinking seriously about what Saddam Hussein could do to us would be irresponsible.

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America forced me out, says UN human rights commissioner
Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian, July 31, 2002

The UN's outgoing human rights commissioner, Mary Robinson, says she was prevented from continuing in the job because of pressure from the US, which she has accused of neglecting human rights during the war against terrorism. "I am not somebody just to walk away," Ms Robinson said. "If I had been hard-pressed, I would have stayed, [but] there seems to have been strong resistance from just one country."

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UN keeps damning report on Afghan massacre secret
David Usborne, The Independent, July 31, 2002

The United Nations went into abrupt reverse yesterday and said it no longer intended to release a report compiled by a team of UN officials who visited the site where a US warplane attacked a wedding party in Afghanistan on 1 July. The change of tack by the UN was apparently the result of pressure from within its own hierarchy, particularly in Afghanistan itself, and from the US not to release the report that allegedly contradicts claims made by the US about the circumstances of the attack.

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In attacks on Bush, Kerry sets himself apart
James Dao, New York Times, July 31, 2002

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was cruising through a Senate hearing on arms control, charming his Democratic adversaries and deftly parrying their questions, when Senator John Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, took the microphone.

In the aggressive style he honed as a prosecutor two decades ago, Mr. Kerry unleashed a barrage of criticism against President Bush's nuclear arms treaty with Russia, saying it "neutered" previous pacts and included a "huge contradiction." Twice, he interrupted a clearly irritated Mr. Powell in midsentence.

For many Democrats, the war on terrorism has made that kind of frontal assault on Bush foreign policy seem risky, if not politically suicidal. But not for Mr. Kerry. A decorated Vietnam veteran and potential presidential candidate, he has lustily attacked the administration on policies like trans-Atlantic relations, Pentagon spending, Middle East negotiations and even Mr. Bush's greatest triumph, Afghanistan.

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Weapons inspections were 'manipulated'
Carola Hoyos , Nick George and Roula Khalaf, Financial Times, July 29, 2002

Rolf Ekeus, head of United Nations weapons inspections in Iraq from 1991-97, has accused the US and other Security Council members of manipulating the United Nations inspections teams for their own political ends. The revelation by one of the most respected Swedish diplomats is certain to strengthen Iraq's argument against allowing UN inspectors back into the country.

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War on Iran is the new nightmare
Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, July 31, 2002

Is Iran next after Iraq? Iranians have good reason to wonder as the Bush administration refines bellicose plans for "regime change" in Baghdad. If George Bush can seriously contemplate an all-out invasion of the next-door neighbours, then Tehran's theocrats must ask what Washington has in store for them. After all, they meet Bush's fatuous "rogue state" criteria with ease.

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Experts say U.S. strategists lack a plan for how to handle post-Saddam Iraq
Warren P. Strobel, San Jose Mercury News, July 31, 2002

Picture U.S. troops advancing up the monumentally wide boulevards of central Baghdad, greeted joyously by throngs of Iraqis who have just overthrown Saddam Hussein and his dictatorship.

What then?

Getting rid of Saddam, as President Bush has pledged to do, may not be easy. But it could be a walk in the park compared with what follows, according to experts on Iraq, U.S. officials and Iraqi dissidents.

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The 'inside-out' solution to the problem of Saddam
Rupert Cornwell, The Independent, July 30, 2002

Maybe, just maybe, this week will provide a few answers to some of the myriad questions about US policy towards Iraq. The basic assumption is not in doubt. President George Bush wants to get rid of Saddam Hussein. To achieve that end, he is prepared to use, as he put it at a press conference on 8 July, "all the tools at our disposal" – economic, diplomatic, financial and military". But the how, the when, the "what happens afterwards" are as unclear today as when this administration started to train its sights upon Baghdad, even before 11 September.

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'UN must sanction' Iraq strike
John Hooper in Berlin and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, July 31, 2002

The leaders of Germany and France highlighted the gap now separating Britain and the US from some of their closest allies on policy towards Iraq yesterday, saying they could not support an attack without a UN mandate. At the end of talks in the German city of Schwerin, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and President Jacques Chirac insisted that clear UN approval was necessary. They reiterated their position amid the growing evidence that George Bush and Tony Blair have agreed in principle on an invasion, perhaps before the year is out.

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Selling out to set stage for an attack on Iraq
Dusko Doder, Baltimore Sun, July 30, 2002

Reports that the Bush administration is prepared to write off the more than $4 billion that Turkey owes the United States could not be a clearer sign that the president's plans for a "regime change" in Iraq are moving into high gear.

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Easing Palestine's humanitarian crisis
Peter Hansen, New York Times, July 30, 2002

A consensus has emerged in the Middle East, among people of otherwise widely divergent views, on one point: something must be done for ordinary families in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They face a crisis of such dimensions that it threatens everyone in the region.

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The madness of war with Iraq
General Sir Michael Rose, This Is London, July 29, 2002

Merely crying "Havoc!" and letting slip the dogs of war is no substitute for clear thinking or the development of a welldefined military strategy. Yet the evidence of the last few days seems to be that we are heading for an assault on Iraq without - on either side of the Atlantic - anything like enough open debate about the moral justification or military practicality of doing so. If we in the West were confident that our reasons for going to war were sound, we would be getting the UN's agreement before doing so. But it seems we're not.

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Is it possible that Mr Blair will not back President Bush over Iraq?
Donald Macintyre, The Independent, July 30, 2002

If there was nothing to talk about at present on Iraq, Tony Blair and King Abdullah II of Jordan would not have discussed it yesterday. That simple fact is part of what fuels the entirely reasonable call for the issue to be debated widely now – a call best expressed by Baroness Williams of Crosby last week when she complained with incontestable logic that it was always too early to debate a war until it was too late. Part of the deep anxiety that she reflects concerns precisely the question of whether Mr Blair's reluctance to engage in such a debate means that he will support the United States whatever it eventually decides to do.

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Profound effect on U.S. economy seen in a war on Iraq
Patrick E. Tyler and Richard W. Stevenson, New York Times, July 30, 2002

An American attack on Iraq could profoundly affect the American economy, because the United States would have to pay most of the cost and bear the brunt of any oil price shock or other market disruptions, government officials, diplomats and economists say. Eleven years ago, the Persian Gulf war, fought to roll back Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, cost the United States and its allies $60 billion and helped set off an economic recession caused in part by a spike in oil prices. For that war, the allies picked up almost 80 percent of the bill. Today, however, as the Bush administration works on plans to overthrow Saddam Hussein, the United States is confronting the likelihood that this time around it would have to pick up the tab largely by itself, diplomats said. Unless the economic outlook brightens, the government could well find itself spending heavily on the military even as the economy recovers falteringly from last year's recession.

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Papers outline a terror detainee's case
Benjamin Weiser, New York Times, July 29, 2002

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the government is believed to have detained about two dozen people under the material-witness law. Because such proceedings are almost always secret, little is known about the detainees or their cases.

But now, new court documents have helped bring one of the cases into focus. The documents reveal that a man — identified only as a foreign citizen jailed for more than nine months — contends that his rights have been violated because he is being detained for listening to someone else's political views.

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The unimportance of being Colin Powell
Jim Lobe, AlterNet, July 29, 2002

Colin Powell has been reduced to little more than a figleaf used to cover the excesses of the most radically unilateralist administration since World War II. So why does he stay?

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Learning to love Big Brother
George W. Bush channels George Orwell

Daniel Kurtzman, July 28, 2002

Here's a question for constitutional scholars: Can a sitting president be charged with plagiarism?

As President Bush wages his war against terrorism and moves to create a huge homeland security apparatus, he appears to be borrowing heavily, if not ripping off ideas outright, from George Orwell. The work in question is "1984, " the prophetic novel about a government that controls the masses by spreading propaganda, cracking down on subversive thought and altering history to suit its needs. It was intended to be read as a warning about the evils of totalitarianism -- not a how-to manual.

Granted, we're a long way from resembling the kind of authoritarian state Orwell depicted, but some of the similarities are starting to get a bit eerie.

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Iran rifts deepen as tension mounts
Jim Muir, BBC News, July 29, 2002

Political tensions are rising in Iran, so much so that some Tehran-based diplomats are openly wondering how much higher the pressure within the Islamic regime can get without serious consequences.

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US accused of airstrike cover-up
Dumeetha Luthra, The Times, July 29, 2002

American forces may have breached human rights and then removed evidence after the so-called wedding party airstrike that killed more than 50 Afghan civilians this month, according to a draft United Nations report seen by The Times. A preliminary UN investigation has found no corroboration of American claims that its aircraft were fired on from the ground, and says there were discrepancies in US accounts of what happened. If the findings are upheld by a second, more detailed, UN investigation, they will cause huge embarrassment to the Pentagon.

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Powell's predicament
John Gershman, Foreign Policy in Focus, July 26, 2002

As Secretary of State Colin Powell prepares to embark on an extended trip through Asia, he is no doubt reflecting upon the difficulties he faces in an administration that has granted the Pentagon pride of place in defining and shaping U.S. policy in the region. Awash with funds and a global mandate to combat terrorism, the Pentagon has marginalized Powell and the State Department, entrenching itself as the dominant player in Asia after September 11th. A reflection of this weakness is that Powell's trip is being met with more enthusiasm in the region than in Washington, where his trip is largely being greeted with a yawn.

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Heavy words or heavy actions: Stop U.S. weapons sales to Israel
Frida Berrigan, World Policy Institute, July 26, 2002

It is time to cut off the flow of weapons to Israel, which is the top recipient of U.S. military aid at $3 billion a year. According to a November 2001 Congressional Research Service report, "Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance," American aid to Israel in the past half century has totaled a whopping $81.3 billion. The F-16 fighter plane used in the attack [on Gaza] was manufactured in the United States by Lockheed Martin and is one of more than 200 F-16s in the Israeli arsenal. They have another 106 on order from the Maryland-based manufacturer. Given that Israel is one of the United States' largest arms importers, it should be investigated whether the 1,000-lb bomb is from the U.S. as well.

The U.S. Arms Export Control Act prohibits U.S. weapons from being used for non-defensive purposes. And there is nothing defensive about dropping a 1,000-lb bomb on a densely populated neighborhood in order to kill one man. Given Israel's violation of U.S. law and the subsequent killing of innocent civilians, it is time for President Bush to take some "heavy handed action" of his own, action that will "contribute to the peace," in the administration's words.

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U.S. exploring Baghdad strike as Iraq option
David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker, New York Times, July 29, 2002

As the Bush administration considers its military options for deposing Saddam Hussein, senior administration and Pentagon officials say they are exploring a new if risky approach: take Baghdad and one or two key command centers and weapons depots first, in hopes of cutting off the country's leadership and causing a quick collapse of the government.

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Blair warned: Iraq attack 'illegal'
British government legal experts say UN mandate is needed for action

Peter Waugh, The Independent, July 29, 2002

Tony Blair has been told by the Government's own lawyers that British participation in an invasion of Iraq would be illegal without a new United Nations mandate.

The advice, which is highly confidential, has led the Foreign Office to warn Downing Street that a fresh UN resolution could be the best means of ensuring Russian and moderate Arab support for any attack against Saddam Hussein.

Senior government sources say the Prime Minister has also received conflicting legal opinion from law officers that current UN resolutions could offer sufficient cover for any military action. But the very fact that even one part of Government has been told an attack could be illegal will delight the many Labour MPs worried that Mr Blair will unilaterally back an American assault.

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There should be no war in Iraq without more jaw-jaw
Menzies Campbell, The Guardian, July 29, 2002

The daily beat of the Washington drum gets louder and more insistent. It is assumed that Britain will answer the president's call to arms against Iraq. Every troop movement or redeployment by the UK Ministry of Defence is interpreted by commentators with urgent and inevitable significance. But before Bush comes to shove, the British government owes the people of the UK a clear explanation of the reasons why British forces may be asked to put their lives at risk.

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The perilous search for security at home
Alison Mitchell, New York Times, July 28, 2002

The ambitious plan to collapse 22 agencies and tens of thousands of employees into a new homeland security behemoth is nothing less than a project to transform American society. The question, as Congress and President Bush wrangle over the details, is into what?

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Risk assessments
Reviews by Peter L. Bergen, Washington Post, July 28, 2002

The real threat posed by violent Islamists is mostly in their own backyards. Wars caused by radical Islamists in Afghanistan during the 1990s destroyed Kabul and killed tens of thousands of people. During the same decade, Algerian Islamists unleashed a civil war causing the deaths of as many as 100,000 of their fellow citizens. And these are but two examples. Undoubtedly, al Qaeda and other violent Islamist groups do threaten Westerners, but it is important to calibrate the threat. On the scale of the challenges posed to the West by Nazism or communism, militant Islam barely registers.

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Bush won't press end to Israeli settlements
Peter Slevin, Washington Post, July 28, 2002

As President Bush develops his latest approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the administration does not intend to make a significant effort to curb the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, one of the most troubling irritants to Palestinians.

The White House routinely calls on the Israelis to stop settlement activity, but U.S. officials have concluded that there is nothing to be gained in further pressing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, an impassioned promoter and defender of a settler population that has grown by two-thirds during the past decade.

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Is terror worse than oppression?
Ahmed Rashid, Far Eastern Economic Review, August, 2002

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has profited from the American view that the world's greatest threat today is terrorism. But within his country there is growing anger that U.S. support is allowing his military regime to delay the promise of democracy.

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Some top military brass favor status quo in Iraq
Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post, July 28, 2002

Despite President Bush's repeated bellicose statements about Iraq, many senior U.S. military officers contend that President Saddam Hussein poses no immediate threat and that the United States should continue its policy of containment rather than invade Iraq to force a change of leadership in Baghdad. The conclusion, which is based in part on intelligence assessments of the state of Hussein's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and his missile delivery capabilities, is increasing tensions in the administration over Iraqi policy.

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Kurds savor a new, and endangered, golden age
John F. Burns, New York Times, July 28, 2002

In this Iraq, the United States and Britain are hailed as liberators, for the daily patrolling of Kurdish skies that has cost the two countries nearly $10 billion to maintain. When children here wave at aircraft tracing vapor trails high above, they are saluting the powers that banished, with the no-flight zone, the terrors of Mr. Hussein. But the Kurds also fear that they are powers now pushing them toward a new confrontation that could threaten all they have gained.

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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.


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