The War in Context  
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Iraqi Shia leader promises new government
NDTV, October 11, 2003

Iraq's prominent Shiite leader Moqtada Al Sadr claimed he will form a new government in the country today.

According to the announcement made during yesterday's Friday prayers, the government will be a republic without terrorism and without occupation. It will include a ministry of religious endowment, apart from regular ones like finance and foreign affairs.

"Although this declaration will be dangerous for me, I have established and created a new government, with new ministers. Our new country will be dignified, free and will give people their rights," the leader said. [complete article]

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U.S. told to avoid main Shia area in Baghdad
By Charles Clover, Financial Times, October 10, 2003

A powerful Shia Muslim movement warned US troops on Friday not to enter Baghdad's largest Shia neighbourhood after a gun battle there on Thursday night killed two US soldiers and two Iraqis.

It was the worst clash yet between Iraqi Shia militiamen and US troops. Shia leaders on Friday were calling for restraint from their followers even as they branded America a "servant of Israel". US forces are keen to avoid alienating Iraq's Shia population, who until now have not joined in attacks against US forces seen mainly in Sunni areas. [complete article]

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'A gift from God' renews a village
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, October 11, 2003

The surging water from the Euphrates River first quenched the desiccated soil around this village. Then, with a steady crescendo, it smothered farming tracts, inundated several homes and enveloped the landscape to the horizon.

"Hamdulillah," intoned Salim Sherif Kerkush, the stout village sheik. Thank God.

Thin reeds now sprout on the glassy surface. Aquatic birds build nests on tiny islands. And lanky young boys in flowing tunics spend the first few hours of each day as generations of adolescent males in their families have: gliding across the water in narrow wooden boats to collect fish trapped in homemade nets.

"The water is our life," Kerkush said as he gazed at the marsh that now comes within a few feet of his house and stretches as far as the eye can see. "It is a gift from God to have it back." [complete article]

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Secrets of the scandal
By Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, October 11, 2003

Like any good spy story, the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson is far more complex than it seems on the surface.

I know Mrs. Wilson, but I knew nothing about her C.I.A. career and hadn't realized she's "a hell of a shot with an AK-47," as a classmates at the C.I.A. training "farm," Jim Marcinkowski, recalls. I'll be more careful around her, for she also turns out to be skilled in throwing hand grenades and to have lived abroad and run covert operations in some of the world's messier spots. (Mrs. Wilson was not a source for this column or any other that I've written about the intelligence community.)

Those operations remain secret, but there are several crucial facts that can be made public without putting anyone at risk -- and together, they leave everybody looking bad. [complete article]

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Iraqi Shiite anger raises new fears for U.S. soldiers
By Ian Fisher, New York Times, October 11, 2003

Shiite Muslim anger against Americans spilled into Friday Prayers in Sadr City, the poor Baghdad district where two Iraqis and two American soldiers were killed Thursday night.

The violence and subsequent public outrage raised fears of new dangers to United States troops from the followers of Moktada al-Sadr, a young anti-American Shiite cleric. Up to now, the main threat to American forces has come from loyalists to Saddam Hussein.

A seething throng of perhaps 10,000 people gathered on Friday to pay respects to the two men they believe were killed by American forces the night before. [complete article]

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Crime puts Iraqi women under house arrest
By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, October 11, 2003

Amina is putting her beauty salon up for sale. She has recovered from the episode last June when armed men burst in and robbed her clients of cash and jewellery, and she has learned to live with the gunfights that erupt with regularity at the coffee shop next door.

But within the space of a month, she says her teenage apprentice narrowly escaped abduction, a customer was held at gunpoint in another kidnapping attempt, and one of her regulars was dragged away by the hair and gang raped.

Such is the pace of events in post-war Baghdad, where the US occupation has ushered in an explosive rise in crime which has wreaked havoc on once genteel areas, and driven women indoors. [complete article]

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One-woman machine who took on Iran's clerics
By Dan De Luce, The Guardian, October 11, 2003

She is small in stature but a force of nature in and out of the courtroom. Shirin Ebadi is a one-woman human-rights machine, inspiring students through her law faculty lectures, forcing judges to acknowledge contradictions in Iran's legal code and lobbying parliament to protect the rights of children born out of marriage.

She has already embarrassed the conservative clerics ruling Iran but yesterday's announcement from the Norwegian Nobel committee will make life more awkward for the defenders of the country's rigid laws. For Ms Ebadi and her colleagues the peace prize is like a shot in the arm for their efforts. "I think this prize gives me and Iranian people more courage to work for human rights and peace," she told the BBC in Paris. [complete article]

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Clashes resume between Afghan rival militias
By Amir Shah, The Guardian, October 10, 2003

Hundreds of rival militiamen with tanks and artillery faced off along a narrow front line in northern Afghanistan yesterday, as the government scrambled to stop what it described as the worst fighting in months.

Clashes broke out on Wednesday 30 miles west of Mazar-i-Sharif and the town of Maimana between warlord Atta Mohammed's Jamiat-e-Islami faction, and fighters loyal to northern Uzbek commander Abdul Rashid Dostum. One warring side said 60 were killed, the other said it was many less.

The UN said it did not know the exact toll, but there were "high numbers of casualties". [complete article]

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Rumsfeld's $9 billion slush fund
By Fred Kaplan, Slate, October 10, 2003

For all the debate over President Bush's $87 billion supplemental request for military operations and economic reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq, no one seems to have noticed that the sum includes a slush fund of at least $9.3 billion, which Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld can spend pretty much as he pleases.

Last week, the congressional armed services committees -- and this week the House Appropriations Committee -- marked up the supplemental, excising a few hundred million that Bush had requested for new hospitals, housing, and sanitation. But the committees didn't touch a nickel of the slush fund -- and there's a cravenly wink-and-nudge reason why they didn't. [complete article]

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Amid Iraq unrest, a force of children takes over security
By Todd Richissin, Baltimore Sun, October 9, 2003

On the street corner 50 yards from a group of U.S. soldiers, a giggling 10-year-old boy clutched an AK-47 assault rifle, which was fully loaded and ready to fire.

The rifle, once the property of the U.S. military, would not be fired in the direction of the soldiers on this night, but soon would be. Muhammad al-Jurany got the weapon from a member of the new Iraqi security apparatus, the Facilities Protection Service, a force of 14,500 armed guards who are to protect hotels, government buildings and oil pipelines, among other fixtures.

The man who handed the rifle to him to play with, Haider Kadhim, who claimed to be 20, stood at his post along the Tigris River, unarmed, dressed in baggy jeans and sneakers, dancing to music blaring through his headset.

As the U.S. military works to quell unrest in Iraq, it is relying on help from people like Kadhim, young men and women rushed into security service with little training and no real uniforms but armed with the powerful weapons that are now a fixture in this country. [complete article]

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. . . and the infighting
By David Ignatius, Washington Post, October 10, 2003

Because this administration covers its tracks so well, it's hard to be sure about the Iraq reassessment. But here are some developments looming amid the fog of postwar:

First, there is growing tension between occupation czar L. Paul Bremer and the Iraqi Governing Council, which he appointed. Some leading members want the council to become a provisional government that can assume sovereignty; Bremer thinks the council isn't ready.

What's interesting is that some key administration officials disagree with Bremer and think the provisional government approach has merit. Arab sources tell me, for example, that Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, was briefed recently on a plan for a provisional government formulated by Lebanese political scientist Ghassan Salameh.

A second trend is that Ahmed Chalabi, a member of the Governing Council and once the Pentagon's favorite Iraqi, has fallen from favor. One insider told me Chalabi "has burned most of his bridges" in Washington. He quarreled too often with Bremer, to the point that even his friends in the administration concluded that he was making a difficult situation in Iraq worse. [complete article]

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U.S. State Department protests televangelist's nuclear threat
Agence France-Presse (via Yahoo), October 10, 2003

The US State Department has lodged a vehement complaint with prominent conservative televangelist Pat Robertson for comments suggesting that its Foggy Bottom headquarters should be destroyed with nuclear weapons, officials said.

Spokesman Richard Boucher called the remarks -- which Robertson made last week on his nationally televised "700 Club" program -- "despicable" and a senior department official said a protest had been made "at the highest level."

"I lack sufficient capabilities to express my disdain," Boucher told reporters when asked about Robertson's comments. "I think the very idea, though, is despicable."

The senior official said Robertson had been made aware of Secretary of State Colin Powell's extreme outrage at the tone and content of the remarks. [complete article]

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Guantanamo detentions blasted
BBC News, October 10, 2003

A senior Red Cross official has launched a rare attack on the US detention of al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

Christophe Girod told the New York Times it was unacceptable that the 600 detainees should be held for open-ended terms without proper legal process.

His criticism came as a group of American former judges, diplomats and military officers called on the US Supreme Court to examine the legality of holding the foreign nationals for almost two years, without trial, charge or access to lawyers. [complete article]

See also 'Justice denied' at Guantanamo

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A Shi'ite warning to America
By Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, October 11, 2003

There are many reasons for Muqtada's widespread popularity, though. The main one is that he is the son of grand ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, murdered by Saddam's regime in 1999. In addition, he delivers fiery speeches - widely available on video compact disc in Baghdad - against the occupiers: he derides the Governing Council as puppets; and he has nothing but contempt for the traditional Shi'ite religious leaders congregated at al-Hawza, which both Khoei and al-Hakim were. Muqtada insists that the marjaaiyya - the top Shi'ite clerics - have no popular base. His model is Ayatollah Kazim al-Husseini al-Haeri, an ultra-conservative Iraqi Shi'ite still based in Iran. [...]

At least for the moment, the chief US administrator in Iraq, L Paul Bremer, the Iraqi Governing Council and the marjaaiyya in Najaf are all adopting a "wait and see" attitude toward Muqtada. They know they cannot neutralize him at the moment because he is capable of putting a million very angry people on to the streets of Baghdad: nobody else can. The Shi'ite middle class also knows very well that although Muqtada is intolerable, he cannot be easily dismissed. It's even possible that the controversial Turkish decision to send troops to Iraq - as the Americans badly wanted - might be the opening Muqtada and his backers in Iran were waiting for. Sunni Sheikh Abdel Sattar Jabar, a member of the Governing Council, went straight to the point: "Turkey, a Sunni country, is called for a military intervention in a Sunni area. So the Shi'ites also may have the right to demand Shi'ite troops deployed in their area." Which means troops from Shi'ite Iran.

All Iraqis know that if Turkey sends troops to Iraq, this will mean the dreaded opening of a Pandora's box. Shi'ites may have been very patient so far, but not a single one of them has forgotten that the Turks are descendants of the hated Ottoman colonial power. [complete article]

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No money, no play: U.S. on the brink in Iraq
By Herbert Docena, Asia Times, October 10, 2003

This coming October 23 to 24, the United States will be sitting down with rich creditor countries, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) during an international donors' conference on Iraq in Madrid. The IMF, the World Bank and the UN have estimated that Iraq will need US$36 billion for reconstruction within the next four years, in addition to $19 billion for other nonmilitary needs calculated by the American occupation regime. [1] With few options left, the US will be passing the hat.

This meeting could be a turning point in the occupation because whether the hat goes back to the US full or not will determine whether the US can afford to stay. The decision of donor countries to cough up cash will depend, in turn, on whether this continues to be a unilateral or multilateral economic takeover of an occupied country. [complete article]

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Man of the Year [5763]: Wolfowitz
Jerusalem Post (via Khilafah), October 10, 2003

No question: This was Paul Wolfowitz's year. On September 15, 2001, at a meeting in Camp David, he advised President George W. Bush to skip Kabul and train American guns on Baghdad. In March 2003, he got his wish. In the process, Wolfowitz became the most influential US deputy defense secretary ever - can you so much as name anyone else who held the post? And he's on the shortlist to succeed Colin Powell as secretary of state.

Not that this alone qualifies Wolfowitz as the Jerusalem Post's Man of the Year. The war in Iraq had many authors: Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair, George Bush. Wolfowitz may have been an early and vocal advocate, but he was cheering from the second row.

What's not in dispute is that Wolfowitz is the principal author of the doctrine of preemption, which framed the war in Iraq and which, when it comes to it, will underpin US action against other rogue states. [complete article]

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Bible and sword: U.S. Christian Zionists discover Israel
By Donald Wagner, Daily Star, October 9, 2003

There is little record of significant political backing [in the U.S.] for the Zionist cause after [fundamentalist Christian writer and lay-preacher, William E.] Blackstone's initiative [-- a national campaign launched in 1891 supporting the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine --], as fundamentalists began to withdraw from political activity following the Scopes trial and battles over evolution. However, after a 50-year hiatus, gradual change began occurring after World War II. Two post-war developments galvanized conservative Christians: the establishment of Israel in 1948 and the Cold War. A previously small and marginalized school of Biblical interpretation called "premillennialism" began to assert itself within the larger evangelical Protestant community. Israel and the Cold War were usually linked by premillennial preachers and authors who interpreted them using selected prophecy texts. According to their prophetic timetable, as the end of history approached an evil global empire would emerge under the leadership of a mysterious world leader called the "Antichrist" and attack Israel, leading to the climactic Battle of Armageddon. Israel was understood by conservative Christians to be at the center of these Biblical events, and thus commanded unconditional financial and spiritual support.

When Israel captured Jerusalem and the West Bank (not to mention Gaza, Sinai and the Golan Heights) in the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war, conservative Christians sensed that history had entered the latter days. L. Nelson Bell, the father-in-law of evangelist Billy Graham and editor of the influential journal Christianity Today, wrote in July 1967: "That for the first time in more than 2,000 years Jerusalem is now in the hands of the Jews gives the students of the Bible a thrill and a renewed faith in the accuracy and validity of the Bible." [complete article]

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From triumph has sprung murderous fiasco. Ignoring Iraqis comes with a terrible price
By Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, October 10, 2003

Six months after US tanks roared triumphantly into the centre of Baghdad and the statue of Saddam Hussein was famously toppled, the US has turned military victory into political defeat in Iraq.

The US might have expected yesterday to be a day on which Iraqis would celebrate the overthrow of a despot. Instead it brought more bloodshed and death to foreigners and Iraqis allied to the US, including the assassination of a senior European intelligence agent.

Consensus is growing that the US has failed because it ignored Iraqis, allowed the state to dissolve and disbanded the army. [complete article]

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Iraqi schism could delay constitution
By Dan Murphy, Christian Science Monitor, October 10, 2003

US Secretary of State Colin Powell says Iraq's new constitution could be written in six months. The US sees that as the first step in a transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis within a year. The 24-person Iraqi Governing Council opened formal talks Wednesday in Baghdad on how to select a new constitution for Iraq.

But interviews with council members and aides this week reveal a sharp divide within the council - between Shiite Islamists who want a national vote for a constitutional convention and the Kurds and Sunni Arabs, who worry their interests would be drowned out by a sea of Shiite voices. [complete article]

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Sharon's target is not Arafat, but Palestinian solidarity
By Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, October 10, 2003

Not long after Bush's big speech last summer, in which he called for two states, Israeli and Palestinian, living side by side in peace, important negotiations began. There were the talks between the US, the EU, Russia, and the UN which produced the "road map" for progress towards a final settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. But there were also more clandestine and equally critical encounters between the two main political and military forces in Palestinian life, Fatah and Hamas. [complete article]

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Iraq deployment seen as high-risk gamble for Turkey
Agence France-Presse (via SpaceWar), October 8, 2003

Turkey's decision to send troops to Iraq is a high-risk political gamble for the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as it neither guarantees better Turkish-US ties nor alleviates Ankara's worries over Kurds in northern Iraq, observers said Wednesday.
"The cons of this decision seem to be more than the pros. The government took a very serious risk as none of the benefits it expects are guaranteed," said Hasan Unal, scholar of international relations at Bilkent University. [complete article]

See also, Why Turkish troops are going to Iraq? and Turkey, U.S. at odds over Iraq troop base.

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Arafat's illness
By Tony Karon, Time, October 9, 2003

Yasser Arafat's gaunt, fragile appearance during last weekend's inauguration of an emergency cabinet for the Palestinian Authority has raised a flurry of speculation over the state of the 74-year-old leader's health. Palestinian officials on Wednesday denied rumors that Arafat had last week suffered a mild heart attack and explained that Arafat has been suffering from a bad case of the flu or an intestinal infection. But according to a source inside the compound, the recent working diagnosis is that Arafat is suffering from stomach cancer. [complete article]

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U.S. 'empire' and its limits
By Ann Scott Tyson, Christian Science Monitor, October 9, 2003

Throughout US history -- from the 1898 Spanish-American War to Vietnam -- nearly every major conflict has produced some domestic political backlash as the public debates the legitimacy and cost of military action.

It's a pattern of democratic dissent that has curbed use of US military power, historians say. And Iraq is no exception. As the death toll among US forces steadily rises and bills for the occupation roll in, support is eroding not only for the scope of involvement, but for the overall US strategy of preemptive war, experts say.

In essence, Americans seem to be asking: "Can we afford the Bush Doctrine?" [complete article]

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Stationing Turks in Iraq could endanger region
By Rajan Menon and Henri J. Barkey, Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2003

The Bush administration is making a mistake by seeking Turkish soldiers for duty in Iraq. Confronted by a guerrilla war -- waged by Saddam Hussein loyalists and Islamic militants from outside Iraq -- and a U.S. Congress and public increasingly skeptical about the logic behind the war and its costs, the White House understandably wants to reduce the toll in blood and treasure being paid by the United States. But recruiting Turkey to help stabilize Iraq will create more problems than it solves. [complete article]

See also, Iraqi leaders condemn plan for troops from Turkey.

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There are no short cuts to democracy in Iraq
By David Phillips, Financial Times, October 7, 2003

Despite demands by the United Nations for a timetable for the restoration of Iraq's sovereignty, the Iraqi governing council is warning it may take a year to draft a constitution. There is no quick fix. Pressure to move quickly could delay progress by exacerbating conflict and undermining consensus between Iraqis.

The US state department set up its Future of Iraq project to assist postwar planning. The democratic principles working group, on which I acted as adviser to Iraqi opposition groups, foresaw many of the current problems, including whether Iraq will be a secular or religious state, choosing between a presidential or parliamentary system, and the role of federalism. [complete article]

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At least 10 dead in Baghdad blast
Agencies, The Guardian, October 9, 2003

A suicide car bomber drove through the gates of a Baghdad police station this morning, causing an explosion that killed at least 10 people and left scores wounded.

The attack appeared to target a police station in Sadr City, an impoverished Shia suburb formerly known as Saddam City in north-east Baghdad.

Five civilians and at least three policemen died in the explosion, along with the suicide bomber and his passenger. At least 28 people were wounded. [complete article]

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Shiites again protest arrest at mosque
By Theola Labbe and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, October 9, 2003

The U.S. military squared off with angry Shiite Muslim protesters for the second straight day Wednesday after thousands marched to the headquarters of the U.S.-led administration in Iraq to demand the release of a local religious leader arrested this week by U.S. forces.

More than 3,000 Shiites shouting "No! No occupation!" snaked through the city streets carrying religious banners as OH-58D Kiowa helicopters hovered overhead. After a nearly three-hour walk, the crowd reached the Presidential Palace, and some protesters laid in front of military vehicles and refused to move. [complete article]

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Spending on Iraq sets off gold rush
By Jonathan Weisman and Anitha Reddy, Washington Post, October 9, 2003

As the House today takes up President Bush's $87 billion spending request for Iraq and Afghanistan, the debate over the bill is increasingly focused not just on the amount of money but also on who will get it.

Of the $4 billion a month already being spent in Iraq, as much as a third is going to the private contractors who have flooded into the country, said Deborah D. Avant, a political scientist at George Washington University and an expert in the new breed of private military companies. The flow of money will increase greatly if Congress approves Bush's request. [...]

Avant said that as many as 1 in 10 Americans deployed in Iraq and Kuwait -- perhaps 20,000 -- are contractors, a group larger than any of the military forces fielded there by Britain or other U.S. allies. Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Vice President Cheney's former firm, Houston-based Halliburton Corp., has an exclusive contract to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure. San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp. is the prime contractor for much of the infrastructure reconstruction.

The Iraqi gold rush has raised concerns on Capitol Hill that the administration may be losing control of the taxpayers' money. As the task of rebuilding shifts from government employees to for-profit contractors, members of Congress are worried that their oversight will diminish, cost controls will weaken and decisions about security, training and the shape of the new Iraqi government will be in the hands of people with financial stakes in the outcome. Avant calls it "the commercialization of foreign policy." [complete article]

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Pakistani cities hit by riots after killing of Muslim leader
By Phil Reeves, The Independent, October 8, 2003

Violence erupted in two Pakistani cities yesterday, compounding the woes of Pervez Musharraf, the military ruler, just as he is under intensifying pressure from his neighbours and Washington to crush Islamist militancy.

The general's security forces were on alert last night amid fears of an explosion of bloodshed between Sunni and Shia Muslims after the assassination of Azam Tariq, the leader of a banned Sunni group and parliamentarian, on Monday.

Mr Tariq's supporters, many of them religious students, rampaged through the usually quiet capital, Islamabad, smashing cars and shop windows, and setting fire to a Shia shrine and one of the city's few cinemas. They also ran amok in Mr Tariq's stronghold, the city of Jhang in Punjab, where his body was flown by helicopter for burial. They burnt down a Shia mosque and destroyed a petrol station. Some 25,000 people gathered in a sports stadium to mourn his death; Shots rang out in the crowd.

Pursued by police firing shots into the air, rioters in both cities chanted anti-Shia slogans and vowed to avenge the death of the Sunni leader, killed when gunmen opened fire on his car in Islamabad, which also left his driver and three bodyguards dead.

The assassination occurred on the same day that General Musharraf was assuring his latest foreign visitor, Richard Armitage, the US Deputy Secretary of State, that Pakistan was doing everything possible to contain Islamist militancy in the name of what Washington calls its "war on terror". [complete article]

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We must compromise our dreams
By Avraham Burg, The Guardian, October 9, 2003

My resume is no secret. My mother was born in Hebron in 1921, a seventh generation Hebron Jew. I am the eighth generation. My family's deep link to the city of the patriarchs was cruelly severed in the summer of 1929, when rioters slaughtered half my family. The other half - my grandfather, uncles, aunts and my mother - was saved by their Arab landlord. Ever since, my family has been divided in half. One half will never again trust a Palestinian. The other half will never stop searching for neighbours who seek peace. [complete article]

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Christian Zionists, Israel and the 'second coming'
By Donald Wagner, Daily Star, October 8, 2003

The term Christian Zionism is of relatively recent vintage and was rarely used prior to the early 1990s. Self-proclaimed Christian Zionist organizations such as the International Christian Embassy-Jerusalem and the US-based Bridges for Peace, both with offices in Jerusalem, have been operating for 20 years, but were under the radar of most Middle East experts and the mainstream media until after Sept. 11, 2001. [complete article]

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Democrats stand with Bush on Syria attack
By E.J. Kessler, Forward, October 10, 2003

The top Democratic presidential candidates, who have differed sharply with President Bush over his conduct of the Iraq war, are registering their agreement with him over his support for Israel's bombing of a terrorist target in Syria. [complete article]

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Chill in U.S.-Syria ties helps clear way for Israeli raid on terror camp
By Ori Nir, Forward, October 10, 2003

Syria has in recent weeks stopped supplying Washington with valuable intelligence, which in the past was helping the United States in fighting Al Qaeda and terrorism in Iraq, congressional, diplomatic and intelligence sources told the Forward.

The Syrian reversal appears to have played a major role in the Bush administration's sympathetic response to the Israeli bombing last Sunday of a deserted terrorist training camp in Syria, following the suicide bombing at a Haifa restaurant the day before in which 19 Israelis were killed. [complete article]

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An abiding faith in force
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz, October 9, 2003

Israel's policy in the conflict with the Palestinians can be summed up in 10 words: What doesn't work with force will work with more force. At the beginning of the year, there was still belief at the top of the security and political echelons that the decision would be made otherwise, in the wake of the American assault on Iraq or an upheaval in the Palestinian leadership. But those hopes were dashed and Israel is back to its old belief that military force will defeat the Arabs. [complete article]

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'Frontline' explores U.S. winning war, losing peace
By Richard Leiby, Washington Post, October 9, 2003

As the White House launches its latest PR blitz to convince Americans that all is going well in Iraq -- no matter what the media say -- along comes "Frontline" to spoil things. PBS's eminent investigative series kicks off its new season tonight with a devastating documentary on how the Bush administration sold the war and got rid of Saddam Hussein (well, almost) but seems to have overlooked the need for a plan after declaring victory. [complete article]

Truth, war and consequences
Most PBS Stations, 9PM, October 9, 2003

FRONTLINE traces the roots of the Iraqi war back to the days immediately following September 11, when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered the creation of a special intelligence operation to quietly begin looking for evidence that would justify the war. The intelligence reports soon became a part of a continuing struggle between civilians in the Pentagon on one side and the CIA, State Department, and uniformed military on the other-a struggle that would lead to inadequate planning for the aftermath of the war, continuing violence, and mounting political problems for the president. [complete description]

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A binational Israel-Palestine
By Helena Cobban, Christian Science Monitor, October 9, 2003

Politically, it would now be almost impossible for any Israeli government to suggest that [the Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza] move back to Israel - or to leave them where they are under a Palestinian ruler. But if they stay where they are, and under Israeli sovereignty, then the land left for the Palestinians can never provide the basis for a viable Palestinian state. As with the "Bantustans" created by the old apartheid regime in South Africa, the Palestinian-ruled area would be resource-starved and totally under the control of the stronger power. No recipe there for long-term stability - for white South Africans, or for Israelis.

This lesson in history does, however, suggest an approach to peacemaking that might work if, indeed, there is no hope for a two-state solution.

In South Africa, once supporters of apartheid figured out that no amount of repressing or fencing off blacks and no amount of punishing military raids against the country's neighbors could bring them peace, they finally settled for that good old standby of democracies: a one-person-one-vote system within a unitary state. [complete article]

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Everywhere and nowhere, Saddam retains his grip on Baghdad's imagination
By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, October 9, 2003

Next week that familiar moustachioed face will begin to disappear from the Iraqi dinar following the issue of new banknotes by the occupation authority. Last week headteachers presiding over the start of the new term were told to encourage students to rip the once-obligatory photo of Saddam from their textbooks.

A more substantial assault on Saddam's legacy is under way in the Republican Palace, where the occupation authority is making preparations to dismantle the food distribution system which gave free rations of flour, rice, cooking oil and other staples to every Iraqi.

Described by the UN as the world's most efficient food network, the system still keeps Iraqis from going hungry. But the US civilian administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer, views it as a dangerous socialist anachronism. The coalition provisional authority (CPA) is planning to abolish it in January, despite warnings from its own technical experts that this could lead to hunger and riots.

Such haste in obliterating all traces of Saddam is disconcerting for many Iraqis, especially the educated elite who were part of his bureaucracy. Many say the US has yet to appreciate how that bureaucracy functioned, and they fear that their national history is being replaced with another, without their consent. [complete article]

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The Iraq sanctions worked
By Fred Kaplan, Slate, October 7, 2003

David Kay's interim report on whether Saddam Hussein had a serious program to build weapons of mass destruction -- an investigation that Kay and 1,500 agents from the Pentagon's Iraq Survey Group have been conducting for three months now -- is a shockingly lame piece of work.

President Bush has insisted that the report proves Saddam "was a danger to the world" and thus vindicates the war. Secretary of State Colin Powell chimed in that the Kay report left him "even more convinced that we did the right thing."

These statements were mustered to counter criticisms from Democratic senators who, upon reading the report, proclaimed that it proves only that Bush had no basis for whipping up prewar fears of an imminent Iraqi danger.

A close reading of the actual, unclassified report -- which Kay delivered as testimony on Oct. 2 to a panel of several congressional committees -- reveals not only that Bush's critics are closer to the mark, but something much more significant: that Saddam wanted and, in some cases, tried to resurrect the weapons programs that he had built in the 1980s, but that the United Nations sanctions and inspections prevented him from doing so. [complete article]

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In their Iraqi mountain hideaway Turkey's most wanted men stay loyal to the cause
By Michael Howard, The Guardian, October 8, 2003

The route up to Osman Ocalan's headquarters, nestled in the rugged cliffs of the Qandilmountain high on the Iraq-Iran border, is treacherous yet surprisingly busy. Mule trains bearing the party faithful weave their way up precipitous paths, through dwarf oak and wal-nut trees, sheets of corrugated iron lashed across their backs like metal wings.

"We are preparing for winter, not war," says Mr Ocalan as he bends to scoop water from the mountain stream rushing past his squat, stone cottage. He says that the corrugated iron, hauled up from the valley hundreds of feet below, will make valuable roofing material.

Mr Ocalan seems oddly relaxed for someone at the top of Turkey's most wanted list. It is difficult to believe that his fate, and that of the 5,000 battle-hardened guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers party (Kadek, formerly the PKK) under his command, may just have been sealed by politicians in the capital, Ankara.

Yesterday the Turkish parliament approved a government motion to send up to 10,000 Turkish troops to Iraq, and Mr Ocalan and the PKK, which fought the Turkish state in a bloody guerrilla war for Kurdish rights in the 1980s and 1990s, were key bargaining points in discussions with Washington, which has been urging Turkey to send forces across the border. [complete article]

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How Blair lost by winning
By Geoffrey Wheatcroft, New York Times, October 8, 2003

On BBC radio the other morning, there was a poignant moment when the Pentagon adviser Kenneth Adelman was talking about the war in Iraq. "It bothers me that people in Britain don't see it as people in America see it," he said. "We did a beautiful thing."

He is quite right in supposing that most people here don't see that. The trans-Atlantic gulf has grown wider since the invasion of Iraq, regardless of what Prime Minister Tony Blair likes to think. And now, with Mr. Blair's popularity at an all-time low, his temporary political success on Iraq looks ever more like a self-inflicted wound. [complete article]

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U.S. can't locate missiles once held in Iraq arsenal
By Raymond Bonner, New York Times, October 8, 2003

The United States military has been unable to locate a large number of shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles that were part of the arsenal of Saddam Hussein, officials say, compounding the security risks for airports and airlines in Iraq and around the world.

The lack of accounting for the missiles -- officials say there could be hundreds -- is the primary reason the occupation authorities have not yet reopened the Baghdad International Airport to commercial traffic, officials said. The terminal has been rebuilt and the runways repaired, and Australian soldiers are running the air traffic control system.

But portable missiles were fired at incoming planes several times in recent weeks, one senior official said. Most of those incidents have not been reported to the public. The missiles missed their targets widely, suggesting that the people who fired them had not been extensively trained. [complete article]

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Neo-con fingerprints on Syria raid
By Jim Lobe, Asia Times, October 9, 2003

The neo-conservatives in and around the administration of US President George W Bush may be on the defensive, but Washington's reaction to the Israeli attack on Syria on Sunday shows that they remain in the driver's seat at the White House.

The fact that Bush has himself refused to in any way criticize the Israeli attack - the first on Syria since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war - shows how far the neo-cons have succeeded in aligning US policy with the right-wing government in Israel, a key goal going back to the first Likud government of the late Menachem Begin and, more recently, since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon won elections in early 2001. [complete article]

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Support grows for sanctions on Syria
By Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, October 8, 2003

The Bush administration is lifting its objections to legislation that would impose sanctions on Syria until the country has ceased support for terrorist groups and halted development of chemical and biological weapons. The move suggests U.S. officials are adopting a tougher policy toward Damascus.

Although the bill has long enjoyed broad support in both parties and in both the House and Senate, for nearly two years the administration had prevailed on congressional leaders not to bring it up for a vote. Officials had contended it would affect Middle East peace efforts and could diminish Syria's cooperation in the war against al Qaeda.

Some State Department officials also had feared the legislation would be viewed as anti-Arab and reinforce the perception that the administration has a policy of regime change throughout the region. [complete article]

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Damascus defiant in face of air strike, but options are limited
By Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, October 8, 2003

Syria's youthful president sounded resolute and defiant yesterday in his first public comment on the Israeli air raid that struck deep into his country's territory.

"We can, with full confidence, say that what happened will only make Syria's role more effective and influential," he told the pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat. "We are not a superpower, but we are not a weak state either. We're not a country without cards ... We are not a state that can be ignored."

In the face of an onslaught from neo-conservatives in the US and a new threat from the Israeli prime minister to hit enemies "in any place and in any way", Bashar al-Assad, 38, may still have some cards to play but few would deny that he holds a weak hand. [complete article]

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Telephone bomb threat follows campus debate
By Jakob Schiller, Berkeley Daily Planet, October 7, 2003

Berkeley Police officers escorted Alison Weir, founder of If Americans Knew, into her organization's South Berkeley office Monday afternoon, three days after a voicemail threat warning her to stay away from her office at 2 p.m. Monday or risk losing her life.
Weir was one of four panelists who spoke during a debate Thursday on the UC Berkeley campus where participants presented contrasting views of the Israeli/Palestinean crisis -- with Weir as a representative of the Palestinian perspective.

She said If Americans Knew was created to inform and educate the American public about issues she says are unreported, underreported, or misreported in the American media.

The anonymous caller claimed to have attended the campus debate and expressed outrage at Weir, who he claimed was helping to "destroy Israel." The voice on the message -- which she replayed for reporters -- sounded young, American, and intense, with long heavy breaths in between words.

"Hi. I heard your speech today in UC Berkeley; the debate. And I'm telling you this right now. On Monday, at 2 p.m., you better not be in your office. Because me and my buddies, who were trained in the Israeli Army, will come and kill every single one of you sons-of-bitches for what you are doing to destroy Israel. So watch out, this is not a joke. On Monday you better watch out. Don't come to work. And close your organization or you're going to die," the message said. [complete article]

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Tensions ally Sunni-Shiite
By P. Mitchell Prothero, UPI, October 7, 2003

U.S. troops have faced large demonstrations here [at the al-Bayaa Mosque in Baghdad] almost everyday for the past week, culminating in Monday's detention of the local imams, Sheikh Jalil al-Shemari and Sheikh Moaed al-Khazraji, by American troops.

Both men -- aligned with al-Sadr's movement -- have been accused of storing guns and explosives at the mosque in addition to making public statements threatening violence against U.S. troops for a series of raids at the building.

On Oct. 1, U.S. troops raided the mosque, leading to a three-way gunfight among occupation forces, armed men in the mosque and local Iraqi police, who were shooting at the Americans, according to journalists at the scene. At the next Friday noon prayer, al-Khazraji warned American troops during his sermon that the initial raid was an offense that would be dealt with violently if there was no apology.

"We demand an apology from the American officer in charge of this raid," he told the faithful, kneeling outdoors before the doors of the mosque.

"It is forbidden for them to enter a mosque in this manner and we will not accept being offended," he added.

"No, no, no to America," the crowd responded.

On Monday night, according to witnesses interviewed by United Press International, the American forces invited both clerics and other local elders to a meeting. Their ensuing arrest and closure of the mosque was not exactly an "apology." [complete article]

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Rumsfeld 'not told' of postwar shake-up
By Peter Spiegel, Financial Times, October 7, 2003

Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, said on Tuesday he had not been told by President George W. Bush or the National Security Council that the White House was to restructure the handling of postwar Iraq before the media were briefed on the plan by NSC officials.

Mr Bush has ordered the creation of an "Iraq Stabilization Group," which will be run by Condoleezza Rice who is head of the NSC, which co-ordinates foreign policy in the White House.

In an interview with the Financial Times and three European news organisations, Mr Rumsfeld insisted that the new NSC role appeared to be no different from the policy-co-ordinating structure that had existed for more than a year. [complete article]

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Message over medium?
By Shaun Waterman, UPI, October 5, 2003

It is bad enough -- as has been alleged -- to deliberately release information that might compromise [Ambassador Wilson's wife, Valerie] Plame -- and everyone she has ever had even innocent contact with -- for spiteful political ends.

But what has happened is even worse than that. Plame's outing, whomever did it, has damaged the very effort the White House said it was pursuing in going to war in the first place.

A very important line has been crossed here. The integrity of the policy goals -- non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction -- is now seen by at least some in the White House as less important than the integrity of the message -- we didn't exaggerate the case against Iraq.

But actually, I think that line was crossed some time ago.

Consider the recent hagiography on the administration's response to Sept. 11, 2001, by Watergate alumni Bob Woodward. In it, he quotes verbatim from meetings of the National Security Council. This -- unless he spoke to a Cabinet official with an eidetic memory -- would tend to suggest that the minutes of those meetings had been made available to him.

As disturbing as it may be to think that the administration would show top secret documents to a journalist so he could write a fawning account of the White House response to the Sept. 11 attacks, it becomes more disturbing still if one considers the other half of the equation.

The minutes of meetings of the self-same NSC from before the attacks have been sought by both the congressional inquiry into the intelligence failures that preceded them, and the much broader national commission that the president finally agreed to set up when backed into a corner by Congress and the victims' relatives.

Neither has been granted access to them -- although the commission says it is still negotiating. [complete article]

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Turkish parliament OKs troops for Iraq
By Louis Meixler, Associated Press, October 7, 2003

Parliament voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to give the government permission to send Turkish peacekeepers to Iraq, but members of Iraq's interim council opposed the move, a sign of the problems Washington faces as it tries to assemble a peacekeeping force. [complete article]

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Iraqi guerrilla gives U.S. a dire warning
By John Daniszewski, Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2003

The man who gave his name as Commander A and the deputy who called himself Commander B agreed to meet with an American journalist and discuss their activities, offering a rare glimpse of what may be the thinking behind the insurgency against U.S. forces in Iraq.

The clandestine meeting was brokered by an Iraqi journalist from Fallouja who has covered the resistance for Arab television networks and worked in the Hussein-era Information Ministry. Although the two reputed resistance fighters were boastful and prone to exaggerated assertions of their effectiveness, their knowledge of recent operations, their wariness and their connections to Hussein's intelligence service lent some credence to their claims.

They said that the guerrillas are preparing to expand beyond the so-called "Sunni triangle"; that their group aims to abduct U.S. servicemen and give them to Osama bin Laden to barter for the Al Qaeda prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and that they are starting to develop into a full-fledged underground army that could take over as soon as they drive U.S. forces from Iraq. [complete article]

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Israel's new dread: Spreading war to Syria
By Bradley Burston, Haaretz, October 7, 2003

Three years of blood running in its streets, restaurants, and demolished commuter buses have steeled Israelis to an astonishing range of horrors.

Three years of grief and hopelessness in Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur observances had prompted many to hope that, if nothing else, they had already been witness to the worst.

But as they marked the 30th anniversary of the most emotionally devastating war in their history, Israelis emerged from the solemn Yom Kippur fast with a new fear on the horizon: the prospect that the actions of their own government could drastically widen an already unbearable war. [complete article]

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Attack, demonstrations leave Baghdad in turmoil
By Steven R. Hurst, Associated Press (via Washington Post), October 7, 2003

Insurgents killed three U.S. soldiers with roadside bombs, the military reported Tuesday, and former Iraqi intelligence officers demanding jobs hurled stones and charged American forces guarding occupation headquarters in the capital.

Large sections of Baghdad were in turmoil. There was an explosion inside the Foreign Ministry compound about a half mile from the confrontation outside the U.S.-led occupation headquarters.

Across the city, U.S. solders were met with a demonstration by Shiite Muslims after closing a mosque and allegedly arresting the imam. Late in the afternoon, U.S. troops fired percussion grenades and shots in the air to disperse the crowd, which grew by the hour. [complete article]

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Study: Wrong impressions helped support Iraq war
By Frank Davies, Knight Ridder, October 2, 2003

A majority of Americans have held at least one of three mistaken impressions about the U.S.-led war in Iraq, according to a new study released Thursday, and those misperceptions contributed to much of the popular support for the war. [complete article]

Full report, Misperceptions, the media and the Iraq war (PDF fromat).

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In the lands of the Cyclopses
By Rana Kabbani, The Guardian, October 7, 2003

Of all the cities within Israel proper, Haifa, with its old-world Mediterranean douceur, had the best record of Arab-Israeli entente. It was also the area from which many Palestinians living in the Jenin refugee camp were forced out 55 years ago. The tragic carnage that took place in Haifa at the weekend - carried out by a young woman from Jenin - will only make the lives of Palestinians even more horrible than they already are.

I have for years argued that violence against civilians will not get the Palestinians the statehood they desperately need. Neither will Israel survive in the long term if its only methods of diplomacy are murder, siege and occupation. Military force and arrogance can easily decimate populations, but they can never create security, as both Israel and the US must soon discover. As Sharon builds his ghetto wall with American taxpayers' money, Israelis would do better to ask themselves, in Robert Frost's words, what they were walling in or walling out.

The US and Israel have managed to make themselves more hated and despised in today's world than ever before. They already have far more insubordination and chaos on their hands than they can possibly handle. Yet they continue to behave like the newly blinded Cyclopses, groping for more enemies to kill. Hitting Syria, as the Israelis have just done, or Iran, as the Americans keep threatening to do, is not the answer - reading the writing on the wall is: occupation never lasts. [complete article]

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A war short on substance, long on form
By Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times, October 8, 2003

"In recent days there have been some rather significant activities that the Pakistani forces have taken against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and I think this is a very good omen and I have no doubt it will continue," [Under Secretary of State, Richard] Armitage told reporters in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

A nice soundbite for people back home in the US, and for the US's favorite "ally" in the "war on terror", Pakistan, but the hard truth is that neither operation [in Angoor Adda, a small Pakistani town on the border with Afghanistan in South Waziristan Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Diamir area of northern Pakistan] achieved anything of consequence, and the US is still essentially shooting in the dark in Afghanistan. [complete article]

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Resolute Iranian pilgrims meet awed G.I.'s
By Ian Fisher, New York Times, October 7, 2003

The fall of Saddam Hussein has undammed a flood of Shiite Muslims across Iran's rough border here into Iraq, driven not by the desire to fight Americans but by a religious devotion that United States soldiers here are finding hard to contain or even comprehend.

In just over a month, American forces have stopped more than 17,000 people sneaking into Iraq near here with the goal of making a pilgrimage to the holy city of Karbala south of Baghdad.

As many as 1,000 cross on any day -- wobbly old men and women, young mothers, babies -- into the hands of American soldiers, who are awestruck by the risks the pilgrims are taking. Carrying almost nothing, they can walk for a day or more across minefields, mountain passes and the hot desert. [complete article]

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A sense of betrayal
ABC News, October 6, 2003

As the Justice Department investigates allegations that the White House maliciously leaked the name of a CIA operative, five former CIA officials told ABCNEWS' Nightline the scandal could have far-reaching consequences for American security and the international war on terror. [...]

Speaking to Nightline on condition of anonymity, with her voice digitally manipulated to avoid recognition, an undercover intelligence officer said the implications of the leak were grim.

"Just a few months ago, this administration went out of its way to tell us how important human intelligence is," she said. "We cannot find Saddam Hussein because we have no human intelligence. We cannot find Osama bin Laden because there is no human intelligence. And here you are, you have a case officer who is gathering human intelligence, who is running agents, and here you are exposing her and everyone that she came in contact with." [complete article]

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Israel is losing
By Richard Cohen, Washington Post, October 7, 2003

For a people of the book, for a country created by history as well as by men, Israel acts as if nothing that went before has any bearing on what is happening now. But history admonishes Israel. The only places where a Western culture has successfully transplanted itself are those where great population pressure and genocidal methods were used to extirpate the indigenous peoples. This is what happened in the United States.

Genocide is out of the question. Neither the world nor Israeli morality would permit it. Yet Israel keeps lengthening the odds against itself. Instead of withdrawing to where Jews are a clear majority, it continues to cling to settlements where Jews are outnumbered. Every settlement, every day of occupation, puts Israel in greater and greater danger. [complete article]

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Islamic Jihad denies Syria camp
But former terrorist says he received training there

By Matthew Kalman, San Francisco Chronicle, October 7, 2003

Syria claims that Ein Zaheb, the area near Damascus bombed by Israeli warplanes Sunday, is a Palestinian refugee camp in a peaceful rural area. But a former fighter in a Palestinian terrorist group told The Chronicle the bombed site was a key training facility and arsenal for Palestinian extremists based in Syria as recently as two years ago.

Israeli intelligence sources say they attacked the facility because it is "supported by Iran and is used for operational training for Palestinian terrorists." [complete article]

Training camp closed long ago
By Bassem Mroue, Associated Press, October 7, 2003

Villagers swept up shattered glass and rubble from their homes yesterday near a building ravaged in an Israeli bombing raid on a reputed militant training camp. Residents told Associated Press the camp was abandoned years ago. [complete article]

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Iraqi business ties raise questions
By Craig Gordon and Knut Royce, Newsday, October 5, 2003

The former law partner of the Defense Department's architect of Iraq's post-war planning has teamed up with the nephew of Ahmed Chalabi, a Pentagon-anointed leader in the country, to profit from the multibillion-dollar rebuilding of the war-ravaged nation.

L. Marc Zell, a Jerusalem-based attorney, is the former partner of Douglas Feith, the Pentagon undersecretary who was a major force behind the push for war.

Chalabi's nephew, Salem Chalabi, has set up a law firm in Baghdad and has boasted of daily contact with his uncle, who has emerged as a powerful figure in the new Iraqi interim government. Chalabi is a favorite of Pentagon hawks, including Feith, who pushed for Hussein's overthrow. [complete article]

For additional background on Marc Zell, see Brian Whitaker's article, Zionist settler joins Iraqi to promote trade.

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Prising open the Syrian file
By Paul Reynolds, BBC News, October 6, 2003

By extending their arm to attack a Palestinian camp near Damascus, the Israelis might also be hoping to prise open the file on US President George W Bush's desk marked "Syria".

Syria has for long been a rhetorical target of hawks in Washington, but it has been lying low recently. President Bashar al-Assad has hinted that economic and other reforms are on the way. Syria says it has closed offices used by Palestinian groups.

"Israel has successfully put Syria on the agenda of the neo-conservatives in Washington and wants to keep it there. Vice-President [Dick] Cheney and Defence Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld are gunning for Syria. It is a huge move in this conflict," Hania Farhan, Middle East director of the Economist Intelligence Unit in London, told BBC News Online. [complete article]

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Act of desperation or a cynical ploy?
By Chris McGreal, The Guardian, October 7, 2003

It was, the Israelis insisted to the UN security council when not invoking Osama bin Laden, a small thing: a limited strike not aimed at Syria at all. But the international outcry against the deepest Israeli raid into Syria for 30 years, accompanied by warnings of escalation, will not displease Ariel Sharon. After all, he would like Israelis to believe that he has once again taken bold action against what he calls "the terror" and not to dwell on the erosion of past promises.

Mr Sharon's critics are divided on whether Sunday's missile strike against a largely disused Palestinian base north of Damascus was an act of desperation by a government unable to deliver a much-promised victory over the Palestinians, or a cynical calculation to redefine and widen the conflict knowing that it will do little to curb attacks by Islamic Jihad or Hamas. [complete article]

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George W. Bush, news junkie
By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker, October 6, 2003

Bush said he insulates himself from the "opinions" that seep into news coverage by getting his news from his own aides. He said he scans headlines, but rarely reads news stories. "I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news," the president said. "And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world." -- The Associated Press, September 22.

8:10 a.m.: During a breakfast briefing in the Oval Office, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld informed the President that, according to the Cibola County, New Mexico, Beacon, members of the Cibola County 4-H performed well during junior week at the New Mexico State Fair. After the President pressed him for more details, Mr. Rumsfeld revealed that Cody Mirabal was named "reserve grand champion" in the over-all swine category, besting four hundred and eighty of the top hogs in the state. Mr. Rumsfeld agreed with Mr. Bush that Mr. Mirabal's hog must have been some hog. [complete article]

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Love of Taliban in Pakistan's southwest
Agence France-Presse, October 6, 2003

An old white mosque straddles the dusty border between southern Pakistan and Afghanistan, less than two kilometers (one mile) from here. Worshippers can enter from the Afghan side and step out into Pakistan, unchecked.

This sacred slipway is just one example of the porousness of the 1,200 kilometer (744 mile) frontier between Afghanistan and Pakistan's vast southwest province Baluchistan -- a frontier which Afghan officials say is criss-crossed at will by resurgent Taliban forces and their al-Qaeda allies waging a bloody guerrilla campaign inside Afghanistan. [complete article]

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'Reprisal' attack on Syria tinder for a real war
By Gwynne Dyer, New Zealand Herald, October 7, 2003

Hanadi Tayseer Jaradat, who walked into Maxim's restaurant in Haifa on Sunday and blew herself up, killing 19 other people and injuring 50, was born and raised in the West Bank city of Jenin and never left Israeli-ruled territory in her life.

Nobody can cross the heavily fortified border between Syria and Israel except the United Nations team that has observed the demilitarised zone since 1973.

So why did Israel "retaliate" for the atrocity she committed in Haifa by bombing Syria for the first time in 30 years?

Israel's attack on what Damascus calls a civilian area and Jerusalem calls a Palestinian training camp was a small action militarily, but it is a very big deal. A 30-year ceasefire has been breached, and a precipice beckons. [complete article]

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Jerusalem's growing web of walls
By Nicole Gaouette, Christian Science Monitor, October 6, 2003

Jamal Dirawi jolted awake to the thunder of fists pounding his front door. 1 a.m. He shared a tired glance with his wife and got dressed. This had happened before. In the weeks to come, it would happen again.

That July night, Israeli border police arrested Mr. Dirawi and 15 others in his village for entering Israel illegally. Dirawi was born here, just south of East Jerusalem. He was living here in 1967 when Israel declared the area part of greater Jerusalem. The villagers weren't told until 1992. When they applied for proper identification as Jerusalem residents, they were denied, making them illegally present on land they had never left. Now they are trapped.

Dirawi and his neighbors don't have the ID to enter Jerusalem, to the north. An Israeli settlement hems them in on the west. To the south and east, Israel's new security barrier cuts them off from Bethlehem, their urban hub, and the West Bank beyond. And as bulldozers blazed the barrier's path, the border police raids began. [complete article]

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Secrets and leaks
By Evan Thomas and Michael Isikoff, Newsweek, October 13, 2003

It's not likely that anyone will go to jail for outing Valerie Plame Wilson as an undercover spy for the Central Intelligence Agency. But the leak -- from unnamed "senior administration officials," allegedly in retribution for her husband's accusing the Bushies of "twisting" intelligence -- has stirred a scandal that casts light on a dark side of the Bush administration. All presidents deplore leaks in the strongest terms, and then wink at (or, in some cases, personally authorize) leaks that serve their purposes. No one is accusing George W. Bush of reincarnating Richard Nixon. Still, this administration has been particularly secretive and manipulative, at once condemning and seeking to stop "unauthorized disclosures" while putting out its own selective version of the truth. [complete article]

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George W. Bush's medieval presidency
By Neal Gabler, Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2003

It should have been an embarrassing admission for him and a flabbergasting one for us: President Bush told Fox News recently that he only "glanced" at newspaper headlines, rarely reading stories, and that for his real news hits, he relied on briefings from acolytes who, he said flippantly, "probably read the news themselves." He rationalized his indifference by claiming he needed "objective" information. Even allowing for the president's contempt for the press, it was a peculiar comment, and it prompted the New York Times to call him "one of the most incurious men ever to occupy the White House."

But in citing this as a personal deficiency or even as political grandstanding, critics may have missed the larger point. Incuriosity seems characteristic of the entire Bush administration. More, it seems central to its very operation. The administration seems indifferent to data, impervious to competing viewpoints and ideas. Policy is not adjusted to facts; facts are adjusted to policy. The result is what may be the nation's first medieval presidency -- one in which reality is ignored for the administration's own prevailing vision. And just as in medieval days, this willful ignorance can lead to terrible consequences. [complete article]

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'Road map' setbacks highlight U.S. pattern
By Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, October 6, 2003

The road map's failure highlights a pattern that has characterized the administration's approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, say current and former officials and outside experts. The pattern is one of engagement and disengagement -- a burst of publicity about new initiatives or special envoys, followed by policy drift and an unwillingness to push either side, especially the Israelis, to take big steps toward improvement. Eventually, the effort goes dormant, sometimes for months, until yet another approach is crafted. [complete article]

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A question of naming names
By Howard Kurtz, Washington Post, October 5, 2003

There are at least six people in Washington who know the answer to the city's most politically charged mystery in years. And they're not talking.

That's because they're journalists.

Whether they should maintain their silence -- and whether they might be legally compelled to break it -- lies at the heart of a burgeoning debate about media ethics and the whispered transactions with government officials that shape the daily flow of news and opinion. [complete article]

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Wilson says he fears CIA leak about his wife put her life in danger
By William C. Mann, Associated Press, October 5, 2003

The former diplomat whose wife's identity as a CIA officer was disclosed by the Bush administration said Sunday that the leak has put her life in danger, and the government is not protecting her.

"There have been a number of other people who've come out and suggested that perhaps this does make her a target," Joseph Wilson said.

"We, of course, as a consequence of that, have begun to rethink our own security posture," he told CBS' "Face the Nation." [complete article]

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White House to overhaul Iraq and Afghan missions
By David E. Sanger, New York Times, October 6, 2003

The White House has ordered a major reorganization of American efforts to quell violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and to speed the reconstruction of both countries, according to senior administration officials.

The new effort includes the creation of an "Iraq Stabilization Group," which will be run by the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. The decision to create the new group, five months after Mr. Bush declared the end of active combat in Iraq, appears part of an effort to assert more direct White House control over how Washington coordinates its efforts to fight terrorism, develop political structures and encourage economic development in the two countries. [complete article]

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'We can't lose Jerusalem'
By Nathan Guttman, Haaretz, October 4, 2003

It had been a very tough day for evangelical preacher Ed McAteer. That afternoon he had been busy getting together dozens of his friends, who, like him, are evangelical Christian clergy, for a meeting with Israeli Tourism Minister Benny Elon in the building of a Christian college in Memphis. Afterward, he tried to fit in some time in the minister's tight schedule for a tour of McAteer's latest project: billboards.

McAteer, a middle-aged man who, on that day, wore a tie bearing a Star of David and a menorah, brought Elon to a junction where one of the billboards had been erected. Alongside advertisements for cars and traffic signs was a giant billboard that read: "And the Lord said to Jacob ... unto thy offspring will I give this land. Pray that President Bush honors God's covenant with Israel. Call the White House with this message." The billboard provides the telephone number of the White House.

McAteer is proud of the new project that he has launched and for which he has raised the funding. There are 114 such billboards throughout America's Bible Belt, a region in the American South that stretches from Virginia and the Carolinas in the east to the Midwest. The Bible Belt contains the power centers of America's evangelical churches. McAteer loves to talk about how he left his job as a senior marketing executive for Colgate-Palmolive, exchanging the toothpaste business for the chance to realize a dream: seeing to the welfare of the State of Israel. [complete article]

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Administration offers muted response
Perle: Airstrike on Syria "will help the peace process"

By Glenn Kessler and Mike Allen, Washington Post, October 5, 2003

The Israeli attack on an alleged terrorist camp inside Syria today helped punctuate a message the Bush administration has been sending to Syria for months: stop supporting terrorist organizations. But analysts said it could also lead to a widening of the Arab-Israeli conflict, thus threatening the administration's efforts to stabilize Iraq and foster peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. [complete article]

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Will Syria reply via Lebanon?
By Nicholas Blanford, Christian Science Monitor, October 6, 2003

The Lebanese-Israeli border, the traditional venue for Syria to settle scores with its arch enemy, was bracing yesterday for a possible flare-up of violence after Israeli jets bombed a Palestinian camp in Syria.

"The aggression against Syria is considered a defiance of international conventions and law and is a dangerous escalation," Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Sharaa said in a statement. He called for the UN Security Council to meet to "deter the Israeli government from taking more provocative action."

The airstrike, the first by Israel against targets this deep into Syria since the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war, signals an escalation in the long-simmering conflict between the two countries. [complete article]

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In search of security

By Mark Sedra, Foreign Policy in Focus, October, 2003

On May 1, 2003, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, on a visit to Kabul, triumphantly declared that "major combat activity" in Afghanistan was over and that the "the bulk of the country is now secure." Rumsfeld scoffed at those analysts and critics who dared to challenge this optimistic assessment, derisively labeling them "armchair columnists." Four months later, on September 7, 2003, during a return trip to Kabul, Secretary Rumsfeld delivered a very different message. He was in the Afghan capital to shore up an increasingly fragile Afghan Transitional Administration (ATA), beset by insecurity and struggling to advance a sputtering reconstruction process.

The defense secretary's surprise visit to Kabul, and Baghdad before that, reflects growing unease in Washington that the two U.S.-led state building projects are faltering. As in Iraq, events in Afghanistan over the past three months have been alarming. August marked the bloodiest month there since the fall of the Taliban. Within a two-day period, on August 12-13, 2003, over 50 Afghans were killed in several isolated incidents across the country. [complete article]

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Bremer's administration accused of corruption
By Patrick E. Tyler and Raymond Bonner, New York Times, October 4, 2003

Last month the Iraqi Governing Council questioned why the American occupation authority had issued a $20 million contract to buy new revolvers and Kalashnikov rifles for the Iraqi police when the United States military was confiscating tens of thousands of weapons every month from Saddam Hussein's abandoned arsenals.

On Wednesday the Iraqi council, in a testy exchange with the occupation administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, challenged an American decision to spend $1.2 billion to train 35,000 Iraqi police officers in Jordan when such training could be done in Iraq for a fraction of the cost. Germany and France have offered to provide such training free.

These decisions are being questioned by Iraqi officials as Congress is also seeking to examine how the American occupation authority and the military are spending billions of dollars here. Iraqi officials and businessmen charge that millions of dollars in contracts are being awarded without competitive bidding, some of them to former cronies of Mr. Hussein's government.

"There is no transparency," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the Governing Council, "and something has to be done about it.

"There is mismanagement right and left, and I think we have to sit with Congress face to face to discuss this. A lot of American money is being wasted, I think. We are victims and the American taxpayers are victims." [complete article]

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In a country where non-citizens are dubbed "aliens," it is small wonder that little concern is expressed for human rights. Most Americans have heard of the Bill of Rights but few are familiar with the Declaration of Human Rights. This jealous regard for the rights and freedoms of Americans that coexists with ignorance or indifference about the rights of others has provided a broad foundation for John Ashcroft's repressive measures. If the fear of a threat to civil liberties can only be awakened when it is the liberty of Americans that is at stake, then the efforts being made to protect freedom are in a sense just as narrow-minded as the legal measures being used to curtail freedom.

Un-American activities
By Anthony Lewis, New York Review of Books, October 23, 2003

The harsh treatment of aliens since September 11 has had little political attention. Relatively few Americans know or care much about it. In this powerful book, Enemy Aliens, David Cole shows why we should care, as a matter not only of humanity but of self-interest. He lays out the Bush administration's policies in the way they can best be understood, in their impact on individual aliens. His tone is measured, his legal hand sure. He lets the facts speak, and the result is gripping. Cole gives the most convincing view that I have read of the legal and bureaucratic threats that now face immigrants and visitors to America. But then he goes on to make an even more important point. The repressive measures that President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft first took against aliens are now being applied to citizens. [complete article]

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Bush under fire
By Paul Harris, The Observer, October 5, 2003

The first email was already waiting for most White House staffers when they switched on their computers last Tuesday. It was terse. The Justice Department was investigating the leak of the identity of an undercover CIA officer. Staff were ordered to 'preserve all materials that might be relevant'.

A second email, sent late last Tuesday night, was longer but brutally specific. It demanded emails, phone records, letters, diary entries and calendars all be saved. Just to hammer home the point, the email added 'even if (their) destruction might otherwise be permitted'.

The message was simple; a witch hunt is going on in Washington. A fall guy - or two - needs to be found to explain who blew the cover of CIA operative Valerie Plame as an act of revenge against her anti-war husband.

It sounds like an obscure row, but it is not. The scandal goes to the heart of an administration that is now widely seen as in crisis. Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, had gone public with allegations that the Bush administration had exaggerated its case for war against Iraq. In the Bush White House there can be no bigger sin. [complete article]

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Leak of agent's name causes exposure of CIA front firm
By Walter Pincus and Mike Allen, Washington Post, October 4, 2003

The leak of a CIA operative's name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company, potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday.

The company's identity, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, the case officer at the center of the controversy, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore's presidential primary campaign.

After the name of the company was broadcast yesterday, administration officials confirmed that it was a CIA front. [complete article]

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Libby and Abrams deny leak
New York Times, October 5, 2003

As the Bush administration worked to assemble records sought by the Justice Department in the inquiry into who leaked the identity of an undercover C.I.A. operative, the White House on Saturday added to the list of senior officials who it said had disclaimed responsibility.

Spokesmen said I. Lewis Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, and Elliott Abrams, the director of Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, were not sources of the leak. The White House has said the same of Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser. [complete article]

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Study: Misperceptions about Iraq war contributed to support for it
By Frank Davies, Knight Ridder, October 2, 2003

A majority of Americans have held at least one of three mistaken impressions about the U.S.-led war in Iraq, according to a new study released Thursday, and those misperceptions contributed to much of the popular support for the war.

The three common mistaken impressions are that:

-U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

-There's clear evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein worked closely with the Sept. 11 terrorists.

-People in foreign countries generally either backed the U.S.-led war or were evenly split between supporting and opposing it. [complete article]

See the complete report, Misperceptions, the media and the Iraq war (PDF format).

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Profile of the Haifa suicide bomber
By Arnon Regular, Haaretz, October 5, 2003

Hanadi Tayseer Jaradat, the female suicide bomber who killed 19 people when she blew herself up in Haifa's Maxim restaurant Saturday afternoon, left her home in the morning for the Jenin office where she worked as an attorney, relatives told Haaretz.

It is still unclear how the 29-year-old single woman arrived at the site of the attack from her office.

Jaradat was the older sister of Fadi Jaradat, an Islamic Jihad militant who was killed in June along with his cousin, Salah Jaradat, a senior figure in the military wing of the "Jerusalem Brigades" organization. [complete article]

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Israel hits Palestinian 'camp' in Syria
BBC News, October 5, 2003

Israeli warplanes have attacked a Palestinian "terrorist training base" inside Syria in response to Saturday's suicide attack in the northern port city of Haifa.

An Israeli army statement said the attack had targeted the Ein Saheb camp, near Damascus, which it said was used by several Palestinian militant organisations, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

One person is reported to have been injured in the raid - believed to have been the first for about 20 years inside Syrian territory.

There has been no official reaction so far from the government in Damascus, but Syrian media are describing the site as a Palestinian refugee camp. [complete article]

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