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Saturday, April 02, 2005

World mourns

Pope's passing

By Denis Barnett

in Vatican CityApril 03, 2005

POPE John Paul II died today after a long struggle against crippling infirmity which inspired Christians the world over.His death ended a tumultuous 26-year reign that shaped world politics and plunged 1.1 billion Roman Catholics into mourning.

The 84-year-old pontiff died at 9.37pm Italian time (5.37am AEST), according to a Vatican statement, two days after suffering heart failure brought on by two months of acute breathing problems and other infections.

"The Holy Father died this evening at 9:37pm in his private apartment," said the brief statement.

"All the procedures forseen by the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici gregis' promulgated by John Paul II on 22 February 1996 have been set in motion."

Church bells rang out across Rome after the news.

News of his death touched not only Catholics from his native Poland to the Americas, from Africa to Asia, but untold numbers of other admirers of one of the most popular and recognisable popes in history.

During his pontificate - the third longest in 2000 years of Christianity - he was a master at reaching the masses through the media, displaying public relations skills unknown to his predecessors while at home at the Vatican, as well as on his visits to 129 countries.

But, after he was rushed to hospital on February 1 with breathing problems, his final illness silenced the voice which had given hope to millions living under oppression while frustrating those who rejected his deeply conservative moral views.

In one of the most poignant moments of his pontificate, he was unable to give his traditional message to worshippers in Saint Peter's Square outside the Vatican on Easter Sunday and could barely raise his hand in silent blessing.
After that, his health worsened quickly. A few days later he was given the Viaticum, popularly known as the last rites.

His health continued to deteriorate. He slipped in and out of consciousness and his heart weakened. His blood pressure fell, but Vatican officials said he remained "serene", accepting his fate.

The first non-Italian pope in four-and-a-half centuries, and the first ever from eastern Europe, Karol Wojtyla was the 263rd successor to Saint Peter as Bishop of Rome.

A warm and earthy figure, he was immensely popular, imposing his own style and agenda on the papacy, eschewing the pomp that surrounded his forebears and seeking contact with ordinary people.

Born in a small town near Krakow, in southern Poland, the son of an army officer, on May 18, 1920, he was brought up by his father after the death of his mother when he was eight. His elder brother, a doctor, died in 1932 during an outbreak of scarlet fever.

He became a parish priest and rose steadily through the Church hierarchy until, as bishop of Krakow, he became widely known to Western ecclesiastical authorities during the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965.

When Cardinal Wojtyla was elected pope in October 1978, he was 58, a robust sportsman and a relative outsider amid the vast bureaucracy of the Holy See.

The advent of a Polish pope provided an immeasurable boost to his countrymen, and the upshot was a reinvigorated anti-communist working class movement, the birth of the communist bloc's first independent trade union, Solidarity, and the steady thaw of the communist glacier that lay over eastern Europe.

Perhaps his finest hour came when he stood before fellow Poles in 1979 and said "Do not be afraid", prompting millions to rally to the cause of Lech Walesa whose "Solidarnosc" movement was fighting to end communist rule in Poland.
In 1981 the pope was nearly killed in an assassination attempt by rightwing Turkish fanatic Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot him at close range in Saint Peter's Square. He survived after extensive surgery, but his health was badly affected thereafter.

At the same time, Church reformers, the young, and Third World congregations in the grip of a devastating AIDS epidemic became dismayed at his refusal to give ground on contraception and the use of condoms.

"For the Catholic Church, this pontificate, despite its positive aspects, has really been a disaster," said Swiss theologian Hans Kung in 2003.

"Many women have turned away from the Church because of the pope's position on contraception and the ordination of women."

In the United States, high-profile scandals involving several pedophile priests shook the foundations of the Catholic Church until the Vatican belatedly sanctioned a policy of "zero tolerance" toward such behaviour.

"There is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young," John Paul said at the height of the scandals.

During two and a half decades as pope, John Paul met almost every significant head of state or government, from US presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton to Kremlin leaders Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, from emperor Hirohito of Japan to Queen Elizabeth of Britain, from the Israeli leadership to Arab monarchs and presidents.

Under his leadership, the Vatican opened diplomatic relations with Israel in 1993 and he was the first pope to pray in a synagogue in 1986.

But Vatican policy-making assumed an increasingly authoritarian stamp. He issued 13 encyclicals, including three on socio-economic questions, and wrote several best-selling books.

In the mid-1990s he became increasingly frail, suffering from Parkinson's disease, arthritis and other ailments.

Despite his infirmities, he continued travelling as widely as possible, making a historic visits to Cuba and embarking on a gruelling program of events for the Church's Jubilee year in 2000.


Nine Dead, Two Hurt in Aussie Copter Crash
1 hour, 44 minutes ago

World - AP Asia
By ROD MCGUIRK, Associated Press Writer
CANBERRA, Australia - An Australian navy helicopter crashed on the earthquake-devastated Indonesian island of Nias, killing nine people, the defense department said Sunday. Two others were rescued but were seriously injured.

The Sea King helicopter crashed Saturday afternoon near the town of Gunung Sitoli, off the west coast of Sumatra, a defense statement said.
The chopper was from an Australian navy transport ship that arrived Saturday from Singapore after a three-month relief mission in Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged province of Aceh.
The two survivors were rescued by a second helicopter from the ship, HMAS Kanimbla, which has a floating hospital, according to the statement.
"They are in a serious condition with leg fractures and other injuries," Kanimbla Commander George McGuire told Australian Associated Press.
McGuire told the AAP that the helicopter was ferrying an emergency medical team to a remote village as part of relief efforts when it crashed.
McGuire said the transport ship was headed toward the crash site on the southern tip of Nias, which was struck by a deadly earthquake on Monday.
The crew on the Kanimbla cried and bowed their heads in shock in the ship's mess room when McGuire broke the news,

AAP reported.

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Friday, April 01, 2005

Why American neocons are out for Kofi Annan's blood

The US is determined to derail the secretary general's progressive reforms

Robin Cook
Friday April 1, 2005
The Guardian

The debate on Darfur in the UN security council last night is a salutary reminder that the only hope for peoples abandoned by their own governments is an effective international community.
It was a Labour government that hosted the conference in postwar London that gave birth to the UN. Now this Labour government has the opportunity to modernise it by taking up the challenge of Kofi Annan's blueprint for a UN for this century.

The UN was founded in an era when most of its present members were not independent states, and even fewer were industrialised nations. Nearly all permanent members got there because they were the victors of the second world war. To this day Germany and Japan have never overcome their initial exclusion as the losers, and the new industrialised giants such as Brazil or India remain in the waiting room.
Not one permanent member represents the Muslim world, although developing a positive, tolerant relationship between the west and Islam is one of the most pressing security issues of our time. The obvious solution is for Egypt or Indonesia to take one of the four new permanent seats that the Annan package proposes for Africa and Asia.

New permanent members will not qualify for a veto, which begs the question: what happens to the veto of the existing five? In truth the British veto is already vestigial. When I first went to the UN I caused consternation by asking when we had last deployed the British veto. After much phoning round retired diplomats, it was established that we had last cast our veto a dozen years before, bizarrely on a matter relating to the Panama Canal, although I never found anyone who could remember what exactly had been so important in Panama that it merited a British veto.

The problem is that to Americans their veto in the UN occupies the same talismanic role as our veto in the European Union. The best hope is a self-denying commitment by the permanent five that they will each cast their veto only on matters of immediate national interest. Britain could start the log rolling by making such a unilateral statement on its own, which should not be difficult as we now do not use our veto at all.

The economic and social council of the UN has never achieved the same status as its security council. The Annan report cogently points out the perversity of this imbalance, as so much of the agenda of the security council is taken up with violent conflicts that have their roots in the failure to promote peaceful development.

This lack of authority on the part of the economic and social council produces a failure to coordinate the UN agencies competing against each other in the same field. It is striking testimony to the difficulty of the UN in exercising leadership on development that in the controversy over the appointment of Paul Wolfowitz it is rarely mentioned that the World Bank is technically a UN body. No one is asking for Kofi Annan to be given a veto over whether Wolfowitz gets the job, but it does not seem unreasonable to demand stronger coordination at the centre to stop the World Bank pursuing neo-liberal policies that are in flat conflict with the development agendas of other UN agencies.

This brings us to the solid concrete roadblock in the path of the Annan reforms. The world is confronted with a choice between two competing models of global governance. The direction signposted by Kofi Annan is to a regenerated UN with new authority for its collective decisions. However, collective decision-making is only possible if there is broad equivalence among those taking part. And there is the rub. The neocons who run the US administration want supremacy, not equality, for America and hanker after an alternative model of global governance in which the world is put to right not by the tedious process of building international consensus, but by the straightforward exercise of US puissance.

There are ways in which this power can be displayed more subtly than by dispatching an aircraft carrier. Over the past six months their influence has been deployed in heavy press briefing against Kofi Annan, to their shame faithfully taken up by rightwing organs in the British press.

There is a breathtaking hypocrisy to the indictment of Kofi Annan over the oil for food programme for Iraq. It was the US and the UK who devised the programme, piloted the UN resolutions that gave it authority, sat on the committee to administer it and ran the blockade to enforce it. I know because I spent a high proportion of my time at the Foreign Office trying to make a success of it. If there were problems with it then Washington and London should be in the dock alongside the luckless Kofi Annan, who happened to be general secretary at the time.

But there is a deeper level of perversity to the denigration of Annan by the American right wing. They have long clamoured for reform of the UN. Kofi Annan has just proposed the most comprehensive overhaul of the UN in its history and is the general secretary most likely to deliver support for it. If they persist in undermining him they are likely to derail his reform package. The suspicion must be that they would rather have a creaking, ineffective UN to treat as a coconut shy than a modern, representative forum that would oblige them to respect collective decisions.

The eccentric selection of John Bolton as Bush's ambassador to the UN is consistent with such a strategy of sabotage rather than reform. His hostility to any constraint on US unilateralism is so deep, (and his life so sad), that he described his "happiest moment" signing the letter to Kofi Annan telling him that the US would have nothing to do with the international criminal court. His relish in the gesture is all the more revealing as the issue was not within the remit of his job, and he pleaded to be allowed to sign as a special favour.

Ironically the first confrontation the US has faced since his appointment was the vote last night on the proposal to refer the war crimes in Darfur to the international criminal court. The problem for Washington unilateralists in trying to stop it was that the brutality and genocide in Darfur is a classic case for enforcement of international law through multilateral process.

To its credit the British government had long made it clear that regardless of what the US did, they would support the French resolution invoking the international criminal court. Such a stand is welcome not only as the right policy for Darfur, but as a demonstration that Britain backs the Annan model of a modern, multilateral system of global governance and this time at least has declined to accept US supremacy.

Special report
United States of America

Veterans Group Calls on Congress to Impeach George W. Bush and Richard Cheney
SOURCE: Veterans For Peace, Inc.

"It is clear that George Bush does not intend to change course in an effort to right this great wrong," said Veterans For Peace president David Cline. "He has had enough time in his second term to begin a shift and he has not. It is time to remove him from office."

ST. LOUIS--On March 30, a national veterans’ organization called for the removal of President George W. Bush and Vice-President Richard Cheney for crimes the group charges were committed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
In a letter sent to each member of the US House and Senate, Veterans For Peace (VFP) stated that “...This administration’s war on Iraq, in addition to being increasingly unpopular among Americans, is an unmistakable violation of our Constitution and federal law which you have sworn to uphold. In our system, the remedy for such high crimes is clear: this administration must be impeached.”

David Cline, a decorated Vietnam War combat veteran and VFP president, said in a prepared statement to the press, "We do not make this call lightly and as former members of the US armed forces, we take our responsibilities as citizens very seriously. For that reason we believe that when our government conducts a war of aggression on Iraq and commits a growing and appalling series of what must legally be considered war crimes and crimes against humanity in the execution of that war, it violates Article VI of the US Constitution, the War Crimes Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. § 2441), and numerous international treaties which are legally binding on our nation."

Cline continued, "We are not the first group to call for impeachment. We have decided to add our voice to the call. All the reasons given for the invasion have shown themselves to be half-truths or misleading. The conflict continues to drag on taking the lives of our soldiers and innocent Iraqis. It is clear that George Bush does not intend to change course in an effort to right this great wrong. He has had enough time in his second term to begin a shift and he has not. It is time to remove him from office."

Veterans For Peace is seeking individual and organizational supporters to work jointly on the effort to impeach the resident.


Veterans Working Together for Peace & Justice Through Non-violence. Wage Peace!

Impeachment Letter
Laws and Treaties Violated by President George W. Bush
Violations Documented

Associate Editor Matt Welch is a columnist for Canada's National Post.

The Pentagon's Secret Stash

Why we'll never see the second round of Abu Ghraib photos

Matt Welch

The images, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress, depict "acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel, and inhuman." After Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) viewed some of them in a classified briefing, he testified that his "stomach gave out." NBC News reported that they show "American soldiers beating one prisoner almost to death, apparently raping a female prisoner, acting inappropriately with a dead body, and taping Iraqi guards raping young boys." Everyone who saw the photographs and videos seemed to shudder openly when contemplating what the reaction would be when they eventually were made public.

But they never were. After the first batch of Abu Ghraib images shocked the world on April 28, 2004, becoming instantly iconic—a hooded prisoner standing atop a box with electrodes attatched to his hands, Pfc. Lynndie England dragging a naked prisoner by a leash, England and Spc. Charles Graner giving a grinning thumbs-up behind a stack of human meat—no substantial second round ever came, either from Abu Ghraib or any of the other locations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay where abuses have been alleged. ABC News broadcast two new photos from the notorious Iraq prison on May 19, The Washington Post printed a half-dozen on May 20 and three more on June 10, and that was it.

"It refutes the glib claim that everything leaks sooner or later," says the Federation of American Scientists' Steven Aftergood, who makes his living finding and publishing little-known government information and fighting against state secrecy. "While there may be classified information in the papers almost every day, there's a lot more classified information that never makes it into the public domain."

It's not for lack of trying, at least from outside the government. Aftergood, for example, sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Defense Department on May 12, asking generally for "photographic and video images of abuses committed against Iraqi prisoners" and specifically for the material contained on three compact discs mentioned by Rumsfeld in his testimony. The Defense Department told him to ask the U.S. Central Command, which sent him back to Defense, which said on second thought try the Army's Freedom of Information Department, which forwarded him to the Army's Crime Records Center, which hasn't yet responded. "It's not as if this is somehow an obscure matter that no one's quite ever heard of," Aftergood notes.

Officials have given two legal reasons for suppressing images of prisoner abuse: "unwarranted invasion of privacy" and the potential impact on law enforcement. The Freedom of Information Act's exemptions 6 and 7 (as these justifications are known, respectively) have been used repeatedly to rebuff the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which since October 2003 has unearthed more than 600 torture-related government documents but zero images.

The privacy objection is easily answered: Why not just obscure any identifying features? The law enforcement question, which has a firmer legal footing, is whether distribution of the images could "deprive a person of a fair trial or an impartial adjudication." Yet even there, the globally publicized photographs of Charles Graner, for instance, were ruled by a military judge to be insufficient grounds to declare his trial unfair. And Graner, sentenced to 10 years for his crimes, is the only one of the eight charged Abu Ghraib soldiers to contest his case in court.

"We've seen virtually no criminal investigations or criminal prosecutions," says ACLU staff attorney Jameel Jaffer, who plans to challenge the nondisclosure in court. "The vast majority of those photographs and videotapes don't relate to ongoing criminal investigations; on the contrary they depict things that the government approved of at the time and maybe approves of now."

Legalities are one thing, but the real motivation for choking off access is obvious: Torture photos undermine support for the Iraq war. In the words of Donald Rumsfeld, "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse."

The Abu Ghraib photos did more to kneecap right-wing support for the Iraq war, and put a dent in George Bush's approval ratings, than any other single event in 2004. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote two glum pieces about "the failure to understand the consequences of American power"; The Washington Post's George Will called for Rumsfeld's head; blogger Andrew Sullivan turned decisively against the president he once championed; and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) warned: "We risk losing public support for this conflict. As Americans turned away from the Vietnam War, they may turn away from this one."

News analyses about the war coalition's crackup competed for front-page space with the Abu Ghraib reports for nearly two weeks, until a videotape emerged showing American civilian Nick Berg getting his head sawed off in Iraq. Suddenly, editorialists were urging us to "keep perspective" about "who we're fighting against."

By that time, the executive and legislative branches had learned their lesson: Don't release images. The day after the Berg video, members of Congress were allowed to see a slide show of 1,800 Abu Ghraib photographs. The overwhelming response, besides revulsion, was, in the words of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.), that the pictures "should not be made public." "I feel," Warner said, "that it could possibly endanger the men and women of the armed forces as they are serving and at great risk."

Just before former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, author of two memos relating to interrogation methods and the Geneva Conventions, faced confirmation hearings to become attorney general, there were press whispers that the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin (D-Mich.), might choose the occasion to force more disclosure of torture photos. It didn't happen. "He and Senator Warner," says Levin spokeswoman Tara Andringa, "are on the same page."

As is, no doubt, a good percentage of the U.S. population. Public opinion of journalism has long since plummeted below confidence levels in government. Prisoner abuse wasn't remotely an issue in the 2004 presidential campaign, let alone an electoral millstone for the governing party. The mid-January discovery of photographs showing British soldiers abusing Iraqis barely caused a ripple in the States. Neither did the Associated Press' December publication of several new photos of Navy SEALs vamping next to injured and possibly tortured prisoners (prompting the New York Post to demand an apology from...the Associated Press).

As The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto put it, with great cynicism and possibly great accuracy, "if the Democrats really think that belaboring complaints about harsh treatment of the enemy is the way to 'score points with the public,' they're more out of touch than we thought."

Looking ahead to the next four years, there is little doubt that the administration, its supporters, and Congress will use whatever legal means are available to prevent Abu Ghraib—the public relations problem, not the prisoner abuse—from happening again. The Defense Department has commissioned numerous studies about America's problem with "public diplomacy" since the September 11 massacre; all those compiled since last May hold up the iconic torture images as the perfect example of what not to let happen again.

"The Pentagon realizes that it's images that sell the story," Aftergood says. "The reason that there is a torture scandal is because of those photographs. There can be narratives of things that are much worse, but if they aren't accompanied by photos, they somehow don't register....The Abu Ghraib photos are sort of the military equivalent of the Rodney King case....And I hate to attribute motives to people I don't know, but it is easy to imagine that the officials who are withholding these images have that fact in mind."

Associate Editor Matt Welch is a columnist for Canada's National Post.


U.S. Soldiers Told to ”Beat the F**k Out of” Detainees

William Fisher

03/31/05 - - NEW YORK (IPS) - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is charging that U.S. Army documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the mistreatment of detainees in Iraq was much more widespread than the government has admitted..

The advocacy group also accused the Army of failing to comply with a court order to release the documents and manipulating the media ”to minimise coverage and public access.”

The ACLU said the reason for the delay in delivering the more than 1,200 pages of documents was ”evident in the contents”, which include reports of brutal beatings, ”exercise until exhaustion” and sworn statements that soldiers were told to ”beat the f**k out of” detainees. One file cites evidence that military intelligence personnel in Iraq ”tortured” detainees held in their custody.

The treatment was reportedly meant to ”soften up” detainees for interrogation. It occurred at the same time guards at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were carrying out similar tactics.

Army officials also released the first full accounting of 16 closed detainee homicide investigations and eight open cases from Afghanistan and Iraq. The list shows that half of the cases (12) occurred in U.S. detention facilities abroad from late 2002 to late 2004.

And the ACLU has disclosed a Sep. 14, 2003 memo signed by Lt. Gen. Ricardo A. Sanchez, then senior commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, authorising 29 interrogation techniques, including 12 which ”far exceeded limits established by the Army's own Field Manual”.

The Sanchez memo allows for interrogation techniques involving the use of military dogs specifically to ”exploit(s) Arab fear of dogs.,” sensory deprivation, and stress positions.

”At a minimum, the documents indicate a colossal failure of leadership,” ACLU attorney Jameel Jaffer told IPS. ”The documents provide further evidence that abuse of prisoners was pervasive in Iraq. The government's contention that abuse was aberrational is completely unhinged from reality.”

The documents were supposed to have been turned over to the ACLU on Mar. 21, but were not released until late on Mar. 25 -- the Friday preceding Easter weekend.

”Select reporters received a CD-ROM with the documents before they were given to the ACLU,” the group added.

The documents -- along with more than 30,000 to date -- were released in response to a federal court order that directed the Defence Department and other government agencies to comply with a year-old request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filed by the ACLU, the Centre for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for Peace. The New York Civil Liberties Union is co-counsel in the case.

The newest documents include:

Evidence of abuse of a teenaged detainee: a high school student had his jaw broken, requiring his mouth to be wired shut, and could eat only through a straw. The victim was told ”to say that I've fallen down and no one beat me.”

The Army report concluded that the broken jaw was caused either as a result of a blow by a U.S. soldier or a collapse due to ”complete muscle failure” from being excessively exercised.

Death of a detainee with no history of medical problems: Abu Malik Kenami died while in detention in Mosul, Iraq. On the day he died, Kenami had been ”punished with several ups and downs -- a correctional technique of having a detainee stand up and then sit-down rapidly, always keeping them in constant motion...and ha(d) his hands flex-cuffed behind his back.”

He was also hooded, with ”a sandbag placed over (his) head.” The file states that ”(t)he cause of Abu Malik Kenami's death will never be known because an autopsy was never performed on him.”

Soldiers were told to ”beat the f**k out of detainees”: Army documents include sworn statements that soldiers were told in August 2003 to ”take the detainee(s) out back and beat the f**k out of them.”

Perceptions of chain of command endorsement of retribution: A military intelligence team saw soldiers kicking blindfolded and ”zipcuffed” detainees several times in the sides while yelling profanities at them. The investigation concludes that at least three military personnel abused the detainees.

It adds that some of the soldiers ”may perceive that the chain-of-command is endorsing 'pay-back' by allowing the units most affected by suspected detainee actions to play the greatest role in bringing those suspects to justice.”

In a separate development, the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which joined the ACLU in the FOIA case, said ”at least 26 prisoners who died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002 were likely the victims of criminal homicide.”

CCR released a series of documents surrounding one unexplained death in Mosul, Iraq, obtained through a FOIA request with the ACLU, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense, and Veterans for Peace. CCR said the documents derive from ”what appears to be a very brief investigation of the death of a prisoner” in December 2003 in an Army Brigade Holding Area in Mosul, Iraq.

One soldier reports, ”He continued to mess with his mask/sandbag so I took his handcuffs off and put them behind his back and smoked him for another 20 minutes before I sat him down.”

At night, the prisoner had to sleep with the sandbag on his head and his hands cuffed behind his back. On the morning of the fourth day, he was found dead in his cell. According to the report, an autopsy was supposed to be performed, but no record of it was provided. As the result of another investigation, the Army has decided not to prosecute 17 U.S. soldiers implicated in the deaths of three prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, according to a new accounting released by the Army last week.

Investigators had recommended that all 17 soldiers be charged in the cases, according to the accounting by the Army Criminal Investigation Command. The charges included murder, conspiracy and negligent homicide.

The Defence Department declined to comment further on any of its reports. (END/2005)
American Civil Liberties Union

Centre for Constitutional Rights
Copyright © 2005 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved

Infinite Injustice

By Chris Floyd

04/01/05 "Moscow Times" - - Today we take up the case of Murat Kurnaz, one of the thousands of innocent captives held illegally in the belly of the new American beast: U.S. President George W. Bush's deadly global gulag, where homicide and torture are quite literally the order of the day.

Kurnaz, a German national of Turkish descent, was grabbed from a bus of Muslim missionaries in Pakistan in October 2001, when Bush was getting his first taste of unbridled blood-and-iron power. Although Kurnaz was far from the battlefield in Afghanistan, he was of course guilty of being one of those swarthy Koraniacs, so he was shoved through the beast's guts before ending up in the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, The Washington Post reported.

There he languished for more than two years until he was hauled before one of Bush's "military tribunals" last fall. The khaki kangaroo court duly ruled that Kurnaz was a heinous terrorist who should be locked up forever -- despite the fact that both U.S. military intelligence and German police had cleared him of any connection whatsoever to terrorist activity anywhere in the world. Completely ignoring almost 100 pages of exculpatory evidence offered by these experts, the kangaroos relied instead on a brief, uncorroborated memo submitted by an unidentified Bush official just before the proceedings began.

The last-minute Bush memo -- clearly intended to keep Kurnaz in chains without charges, without counsel, without appeal, for the rest of his life -- "fails to provide significant details to support its conclusory allegations, does not reveal the sources for its information and is contradicted by other evidence in the record," said a federal judge who examined the case. In other words, it was just lies and unfounded assertions -- the same scam the Bushists used to "justify" their war crime in Iraq.

The judge ruled that Kurnaz's imprisonment, indeed, Bush's whole kangaroo pen, was illegal and unconstitutional. To which Bush -- a staunch defender of law, liberty and civilization -- answered: Who cares? So Kurnaz, 23, remains in captivity: year after year of hellish limbo, his youth sacrificed to the caprice of the prissy autocrat in the White House. Meanwhile, Bush is appealing all of the pending judicial challenges to his arbitrary power, while ignoring or skirting any ruling that goes against him. As we first reported here in November 2001, he continues to assert his right to capture, imprison or even assassinate anyone on earth he designates a "terrorist," without any judicial review or congressional oversight of his decision.

The Washington Post -- normally a willing handmaiden of Bush's abuses of power, marshalling "bipartisan consensus" behind his blood-soaked foreign policy and much of his morally deranged domestic agenda -- seemed uncharacteristically troubled by the Kurnaz case. Perhaps the tyranny was a touch too blatant for the paper's well-wadded consensus-seekers. They brought in an expert on military law to "suggest" that the tribunals might be -- gasp! -- "a sham," where "the merest scintilla of evidence against someone would carry the day for the government, even if there's a mountain of evidence on the other side." Another lawyer wondered why the U.S. government would ever imprison a man it knew was innocent.

Poor lambs. Now that the American Republic has been well and truly lost -- seized by a band of extremist goons after decades of slow rot from corporate and militarist corruption -- a few Establishment worthies are bestirring themselves to express some mild perplexity at the hideous reality that has arisen outside their comfortable cocoons. But their questions come too late. The reality is already entrenched.

Each day brings new revelations of torture, murder and government whitewash in Bush's gulag. At least 108 prisoners have died in Bush's captivity so far; dozens of these have been listed as homicides, CBS reported. But last week, the Pentagon declined to prosecute 17 soldiers for brutal murders of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite the recommendation of Army prosecutors. Army investigators also released 1,200 pages of new evidence last week detailing widespread "systematic and intentional" abuse of prisoners throughout Iraq, especially in Mosul; again, the Pentagon declined to prosecute. A trial of low-ranking scapegoats who, under orders, "pulpified" an Afghan prisoner's leg in a fatal beating revealed that such "compliance blows" were taught by the Pentagon as an "accepted way" of dealing with prisoners, Knight-Ridder reported.

Let's pause here to praise these military prosecutors. Many of them are doing outstanding work in a thankless and dangerous mission: investigating their fellow soldiers for crimes committed in a lawless system established by their own superiors. The Bush Regime has not yet been able to remove all of these honorable soldiers from the ranks, so fragments of the truth are still getting out. But be assured: The Regime is relentlessly bringing forward cadres of mindless zealots to replace them -- and everyone else in government. Another term or two of Bushist Party rule, and there won't be an officer, judge or civil servant left with any loyalty to the old Constitutional Republic.

As for the cocooners' anxious questions -- "Why imprison the innocent? Why the sham tribunals? What's with all this torture stuff?" -- there is a simple answer. Bush's gulag has little to do with "fighting terrorism"; it is itself an instrument of terror -- state terror -- designed to strike "pre-emptive" fear into the hearts of anyone, at home or abroad, who might oppose the Regime's crusade to make the world safe for klepto-plutocracy. Such a system actually requires innocent victims and lawlessness, in order to underscore its arbitrary nature -- an essential element of terror. For Bush, Murat Kurnaz is a more important prisoner than a genuine criminal like Osama bin Laden.


Panel Ignored Evidence on Detainee
Washington Post, March 27, 2005

US Army Says Prison Deaths Were Homicides
Boston Globe, March 26, 2005

US Admits Wider Abuse of Iraqis
Associated Press, March 27, 2005

Knee Blows That Killed 2 Detainees Were Approved
Knight-Ridder, March 26, 2005

Pentagon Will Not Try 17 GIs Implicated in Prisoners' Deaths
New York Times, March 26, 2005

U.S. Troops Tortured Iraqis in Mosul, Documents Show
Reuters, March 26, 2005

Afghan Detainee's Leg Was 'Pulpified,' Witness Says
Los Angeles Times, March 23, 2005

UK Lawmakers Accuse US of Grave Human Rights Violations
Reuters, March 24, 2005

American Homicide
Boston Globe, March 29, 2005

Is No One Accountable?
New York Times, March 28, 2005

Memo Shows U.S. Inmate Interrogation Plans in Iraq
Reuters, March 29, 2005

Interrogation Techniques Approved ty Iraq Commander Violated Geneva, U.S. Standards
American Civil Liberties Union, March 29, 2005

Bush's Death Squads
Ratical.org, Jan. 31, 2002

Bush Has Widened Authority of CIA to Kill Terrorists
New York Times, Dec. 15, 2002

Special Ops Get OK to Initiate Its Own Missions
Washington Times, Jan. 8, 2003

Our Designated Killers
Village Voice, Feb. 14, 2003

A U.S. License to Kill
Village Voice, Feb. 21, 2003

Drones of Death
The Guardian, Nov. 6, 2002

Coward's War in Yemen
Spiked, Nov. 11, 2002
Copyright © 2005 The Moscow Times. All rights reserved.

Nine die as US plane crashes
From correspondents in Tirana
April 02, 2005

ALL nine US military personnel died when their plane crashed in an isolated snow-covered area of Albania, a defence ministry spokesman said today.

"None of the US military personnel has survived the accident late Thursday," said spokesman Agim Doci.
He said that five bodies were found in the wreckage of the C-130 transport plane.

Another four were found early today.The plane hit a mountain after apparently flying too low in an uninhabited region near the town of Gramsh, 150 km south of the Albanian capital Tirana.

An AFP photographer at the scene said wreckage of the plane MC-130H was scattered around the site after the blast that followed the crash.

The plane, which had been in Albania to take part in joint military manoeuvres with Albanian forces, had taken off from Tirana's Rinas military base and was to monitor the mountainous region in the south of the country.

US experts were headed to the scene to investigate the crash.

Earlier today, US ambassador to Albania Marcie Ries thanked the Albanian army for its assistance.

US to free 38 Guantanamo detainees
The Pentagon has decided that 38 detainees held at its prison camp in Guantanamo Bay are not "enemy combatants" and will set them free without charge.

Navy Secretary Gordon England said the Pentagon had completed a review of the cases of all the detainees, who were classified as enemy combatants rather than given the status of prisoners of war (PoW).

Special three-member military panels found that 520 Guantanamo prisoners were properly classified, but determined that another 38, or 7 per cent of those at Guantanamo, were not enemy combatants despite their earlier designation.

"Is the system perfect? It's human beings, so obviously it's not perfect," said Mr England, who oversaw the review which was launched last summer.

"But it is as perfect as we can make the system and as fair as we can make the system for the detainee while protecting America."

He declined to name or give the nationalities of the 38 prisoners to be freed.

Mr England said a common theme among those to be freed was that there was insufficient evidence against them, or what he called "thin files".

The Pentagon created the review panels after a June 2004 Supreme Court ruling that Guantanamo prisoners could go to US courts to seek their freedom.

The United States holds about 540 foreign citizens at Guantanamo, captured in what President George W Bush calls the global "war on terror".

Most were detained up in Afghanistan.

Mr Bush declared these prisoners were not covered by the Geneva Conventions. Enemy combatant status does not guarantee rights required under international law for PoWs.

About 214 other Guantanamo prisoners have been released through other processes, such as diplomatic talks, separate from the status-review panels.

Prisoners were not permitted to have a lawyer during the review process and not allowed to see much of the evidence against them because it was deemed classified.

"A process skewed from the outset to ensure that the maximum number of detainees remain jailed still resulted in a significant percentage being cleared for release," said Amnesty International USA spokesman Alistair Hodgett.

"If the Bush administration actually allowed these detainees to participate in a fair process in which they could confront the evidence against them and call witnesses to support their alibis and their accounts of why they were in Pakistan or Afghanistan, we could only imagine how many of the hundreds still detained might be cleared to walk free," Mr Hodgett added.

Mr England defended the reviews as "open, transparent and available".

He said the State Department was coordinating the return of the prisoners to their home countries, adding that five already had gone home and arrangements would be made for the other 33 to leave "as expeditiously as possible".

The panels finished their hearings in January but final decisions took more time, Mr England said.

The Pentagon has defined an enemy combatant as a person "who was part of or supporting Taliban or Al Qaeda forces, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners. This includes any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported hostilities in aid of enemy armed forces."

Human rights groups have criticised Guantanamo as a "legal black hole" and some former prisoners have said they were tortured there.

Adelaide man David Hicks is still being held in Guantanamo Bay but his trial has been delayed due to legal challenges by detainees in the US courts.

- Reuters




Pakistan successfully test-fires

nuclear-capable missile

3/31/2005 8:00:00 PM GMT

Pakistan successfully test-fired a nuclear capable, shot-range missile, the military said in a statement on Thursday.

The Hatf II, or Abdali missile can reach targets up to 180 kilometers away "and can carry all types of warheads," the statement said. "All desired technical parameters were validated."

"As part of the usual confidence-building measures, prior notification of the test had been given to all concerned," it added.

Pakistan and India, who both carried out nuclear tests in 1998, inform each other before conducting any of their regular missile tests under an unwritten unofficial 1999 agreement.

Earlier this month, Pakistan successfully test-fired a long-range, nuclear-capable Shaheen II ballistic missile.

The two Asian rivals fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947 and almost went to a fourth one in 2002.

Both countries are currently engaged in a 14-month-old peace process and have made a series of peace gestures towards each other in recent years.

Afghanistan cuts sentences

for jailed U.S. Mercenaries

3/31/2005 5:30:00 PM GMT

An Afghan court has shortened prison sentences of three Americans jailed last year for running a private prison and torturing Afghan detainees.

At a closed-door session, the Afghan court upheld the three men’s convictions for torture and operating a private jail, one of four judges hearing the case, Abdul Latif, told reporteres.

But the three Mercenaries failed to overturn their convictions, said a judge.

Jonathan Idema, Brent Bennett and Edward Caraballo were jailed last September after a trial that embarrassed U.S. and NATO forces and exposed the clandestine U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

The three Americans, all civilians, were on a freelance hunt for “terrorists” in and around Kabul before they were arrested last year.

Two of the men, Jonathan Idema and Brent Bennett, are former U.S. soldiers. The third, Edward Caraballo, is a journalist.

The three were arrested in July while holding eight Afghans in a makeshift prison in Kabul. At that time they affirmed that they were operating in concert with top U.S. officials.

However, the U.S. officials denied having any links to the three men. But during his trial, Idema, the ringleader, asserted that those officials were lying.

"We are prepared to show e-mails and correspondence and tape recorded conversations that show that is not true," he said.

Later, it was revealed that the U.S. forces cooperated with the three men. However the U.S. army denied ever directing or condoning its activities, and accused Idema and the other two of deceit.

Idema and Bennett's ten-year sentences were cut in half, while Caraballo's was reduced from eight years to two.

The men will serve out their terms in Afghan prisons.

Judge Latif said that the three appealed to the supreme court as their last recourse.

U.S. army report:

no proof medic killed Iraqi prisoners

WASHINGTON (AP) - A U.S. army investigation found no evidence to substantiate a combat medic's alleged claim to a social worker that he killed several Iraqi prisoners while serving in an intensive-care ward in Iraq, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The soldier later said he had not killed anyone and his initial statements were misinterpreted. The soldier was not identified in investigation documents released by the army. A summary of his case was among reports of dozens of others in 99 pages of documents the army released publicly and to the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The soldier served in the medical ward for a month in Balad, Iraq, during his five-month tour in the combat zone in early 2004. Balad is about 70 kilometres north of Baghdad.

A summary of the soldier's case said he told a social worker at Fort Bliss, Texas, after he returned he "had killed numerous detainees by putting bleach in their IV bags, intentionally cutting their arteries so they would bleed out, punched them and spit in their food. Further, that the death certificates did not indicate any foul play involving their deaths."

However, when investigators interviewed him, the soldier said he was only describing dreams he had and the social worker misunderstood him. He said he was very emotional when he spoke with her but he distinguished his dreams from reality.

"The case was thoroughly investigated," said Lt.-Col. Jeremy Martin, an army spokesman.

"There was nothing to validate the soldier's claims."

The case is closed, he said.

The military has released information of many but not all prisoner deaths in Iraq attributed to various causes. No deaths have been reported at the Balad base.

5 American soldiers

accused of smuggling cocaine in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - Five U.S army soldiers are under investigation for allegedly trying to smuggle about 15 kilograms of cocaine out of Colombia aboard a U.S. military aircraft, American officials said Thursday.

The soldiers were detained Tuesday as a result of the investigation, said Lt.-Col. Eduardo Villavicencio, a spokesman for the U.S. military's Southern Command in Florida. He would not disclose where the five are being held, other than "in the United States."

"The Department of Defence is working closely with Colombian authorities and U.S. law enforcement to conduct a thorough investigation," William Wood, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, said in a statement. "I congratulate our law enforcement agencies for their excellent co-operation in uncovering this drug smuggling scheme." The embassy declined further comment.

Colombia's Defence Ministry confirmed an investigation was underway, but wouldn't discuss details of the case.

The United States has provided more than $3 billion US in aid over the past four years to help Colombia battle Marxist rebels and drug trafficking that fuels the 40-year-old insurgency.

L.A. Police Settlement to Reach $70M

Thu Mar 31, 5:47 PM ET

LOS ANGELES - The city said Thursday it would pay about $70 million to settle lawsuits that alleged misconduct or brutality by corrupt police officers in an anti-gang unit.

Since the allegations surfaced more than five years ago, 214 lawsuits have been filed by mostly drug dealers, gang members and other criminals who said they had been framed, shot and beaten by the unit's officers in the Rampart division.

Twenty-seven claims were dismissed and eight are pending settlements, which are part of the $70 million total payout, said Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for the city attorney's office.

The settlements mark the "end of an unfortunate and dark chapter in our city's history," said City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.

"The rapid and fair disposition of these cases has brought justice to those wronged by a handful of rogue officers," he said.

The Rampart corruption scandal once involved the investigation of 82 incidents involving 50 officers and the reversal of more than 100 criminal convictions tainted by police misconduct.

Racial profiling, excessive force and the Rampart scandal caused the federal government in 2001 to impose a consent decree that mandated reforms in the department.

The payout is considerably less than the $125 million projected in the early stages of the scandal by Mayor James Hahn, who was then the city attorney.

Despite the criminal backgrounds of many of the plaintiffs, city lawyers concluded when reviewing the records of the officers involved that more than three-fourths of the cases were too risky to let them proceed to trial.

"When you have a problem officer, it's very difficult to go forward," Chief Deputy City Attorney Terree A. Bowers told the Los Angeles Times. "This has got to be a wake-up call for the city. It could have been worse."

The average settlement was $400,000. Javier Francisco Ovando, a gang member who was shot by police and left paralyzed, received the largest settlement — $15 million. He had been sentenced to 23 years in prison after two officers testified he was armed when he was shot. His conviction was eventually overturned.

As a result of the scandal, more than a dozen officers left the force. Some were fired and others resigned amid investigations of alleged misconduct.

Many of the allegations were made by ex-officer Rafael Perez, who later emerged as the main culprit after his accusations against other officers were largely disproved. The scandal began when Perez testified about police misconduct after he was caught stealing cocaine from a police evidence room.

Activists see deception

in night arrivals at Walter Reed

Shielding wounded denies cost of war,

say vigil attendees

By Jon R. Anderson, Stars and Stripes

Mideast edition,

Thursday, March 31, 2005

WASHINGTON — Steeling against rain and cold night air, clutching candles and placards, a group of activists are standing nightly vigils at the entrance to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, protesting what they believe is the Pentagon’s attempt to hide the human toll of the war in Iraq.

With wounded troops arriving from Germany, where most receive treatment after being stabilized in the field, flights to the United States are arranged so that soldiers are admitted into Walter Reed for follow on care at night.

“When we first heard about this, we were appalled,” said vigil organizer Gael Murphy, part of nationwide grass roots women’s group dubbed Code Pink. “Why are they bringing them in only at night? Is it because they don’t want the media to cover it? Is it because they don’t want Americans to see the real cost of this war?”

No, say military officials.

“Night arrivals are beneficial to the patient, as they allow for a regular night of sleep, and then for doctors in Europe to make final determination on their ability to make the long flight, move patients from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and board the plane,” wrote Walter Reed spokeswoman Lyn Kurkal, in a prepared statement.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Gary Keck said the arrival times were simply a matter of Air Force scheduling.

A spokesman for Air Mobility Command cited operating restrictions and patient processing in Germany.

Injured troops arrive at Andrews Air Force Base on Aeromedical Evacuation channel missions aboard C-141 Starlifter aircraft.

“These missions are scheduled to depart Ramstein in compliance with airfield operational restrictions and allow patients a restful night before the long trans-Atlantic flight,” the spokesman said in a written response to Stars and Stripes questions.

“The Defense Department has been nothing but forthcoming in reporting the cost of war,” said Jim Turner, another Pentagon spokesman, pointing to press releases on every servicemember killed, plus daily updates on numbers of wounded.

According to a Monday press release from Walter Reed, the hospital has treated 3,985 patients from Operation Iraqi Freedom since the war began, 1,050 of whom have been battle casualties.

But statistics and press releases are one thing, say the activists, the reality of burns and missing limbs quite another.

The activists say the practice seems too much like the White House ban on the filming of honor cordons repatriating war dead to U.S. soil in flag-draped coffins.

“The guys in here are the real cost of the war,” says George Taylor, a former Navy officer and veteran of the 1962 Cuban Blockade, shrugging off the night cold among about two dozen activists outside the Walter Reed gates Tuesday night.

“It’s just shameful that the military would try and sneak them in like this and hope no one notices their wounds,” he adds, as a red minivan sporting a “Support our troops” yellow ribbon passes by. The driver honks the horn, yelling “We support you!” to the activists.

Kevin McCarron, a former Marine intelligence specialist and a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War, said he thinks the late-night admittances are a dishonor to the troops.

“They should be feted as they arrive, honored as heroes, not slipped through the back door like this,” he said.


Thursday, March 31, 2005

Second unmanned Predator aircraft in three days crashes in Iraq

Today: March 31, 2005 at 11:25:14 PST


LAS VEGAS (AP) - For the second time in three days, an unmanned Predator spy plane has crashed in Iraq, officials said.

A military statement from Baghdad said the remotely piloted MQ-1 Predator crashed at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Rawah, northwest of Ramadi, about 60 miles east of the Syrian border.

On Sunday, an MQ-1 Predator crashed near Balad, about 40 miles north of Baghdad.

The cause of the crashes was not immediately determined. The military said boards of officers will investigate.

Both planes were assigned to the 15th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, near Las Vegas.

MQ-1s are equipped with video and infrared cameras and armed with laser-guided Hellfire missiles. They cost up to $3.8 million each.

A Nellis auxiliary airfield at Indian Springs, 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas, is home to the nation's three Predator squadrons and the newly created Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Center for Excellence.

Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal,

Pak refuses Rice's request for US access to AQ Khan

Press Trust of India

Washington, March 30, 200504:45 IST

Pakistan rejected US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's request to allow Americans to question disgraced scientist AQ Khan over his alleged role in Iran's nuclear programme, a report said in Washington on Tuesday.

Rice, who was in Pakistan last week, requested direct American access to Khan "so that the US intelligence community could ask him about his nuclear handiwork in Iran.

"But all she obtained was permission to submit a list of questions to Khan," The Washington Times said.

It also said that both the US and Israel "have contingency plans to launch air strikes against Iran's 12 to 15 nuclear sites, most of them underground."


First India tell Rice and the bush Administration to shove it;

now Pakistan tells them all where to go
Man accused of Bush murder plot

March 31, 2005 - 6:25AM

A Virginia man accused of joining al-Qaeda and plotting to kill US President George W Bush could have an independent medical examination to corroborate his claim that he was tortured, a judge has ruled.

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 24, claims that the US government's evidence against him was obtained through torture while he was jailed in Saudi Arabia.

Federal prosecutors deny Abu Ali was mistreated and say no evidence of torture was found by government doctors who examined Abu Ali last month, when the Saudi government turned him over to face federal charges.

Abu Ali is a former high school valedictorian in Virginia who was arrested nearly two years ago by the Saudi government when he was a college student there. He is in jail in Alexandria, Virginia, awaiting trial under special security measures that restrict his access to visitors.

Abu Ali's lawyer, Ashraf Nubani, has argued that an independent medical examination is crucial to corroborate his torture claims.

Several defence lawyers have said they have seen scars on Abu Ali's back that he claims were inflicted by his Saudi jailers.

Nubani said that any evidence obtained through torture is unreliable and inadmissible in court.

At a pretrial hearing, an FBI agent testified that Abu Ali discussed with other al-Qaeda members a plan in which he would personally shoot Bush or detonate a car bomb.

© 2005 AP

Hicks lawyer questions tribunal changes
March 31, 2005 - 9:59AM

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The American lawyer of Adelaide man David Hicks fears changes to the controversial military tribunals set up to prosecute him and other terror suspects held at Guantanamo will be "too little, too late".

"The problem is it's going to be more of the same," Major Michael Mori, the US military lawyer assigned to defend Hicks, said.

Mori's comments follow reports the US Defence Department is considering changing the military tribunals at the Cuban base after widespread criticism from the US federal court, foreign governments and human rights groups.

Mori said any new system would remain flawed because the prosecutors "are still going to continue to write the rules".

He questioned why Hicks and other Guantanamo Bay inmates were not being tried under established US court systems.

"It's not like they're saying 'we're going to use a court martial system' or 'we're going to use the federal court system' or 'we're going to use a real system' which is what needs to be done," Mori said.it's disappointing that if they try to redo it that they ought to just do it right and say 'there only needs to be one new rule - commissions will be the same as the procedures and rules of courts martial.

"There's no need to write a new manual. We have one written already."

Hicks' case is still on hold awaiting the legal outcome of that of another Guantanamo inmate, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni man accused of being al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's personal driver.

"We're on hold in the commission system. We're on hold in the federal courts," Mori said

US school gunman wounded: police
March 31, 2005 - 10:54AM

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The 16-year-old gunman in the Red Lake High School shootings in the US was wounded by police before retreating to a classroom and taking his own life, according to an account by a sheriff's deputy.

Jeff Weise killed himself with a shotgun after being hit in the hip and leg, according to the emailed account obtained by The Associated Press.

The deputy also said "the entire school" was "covered with blood," and said there were bullet holes "everywhere".

Weise killed nine people in the March 21 rampage, including seven at the high school, before killing himself.

The description by Polk County Sheriff's Deputy James Goss, sent to family members on March 26, was based on a tour he said he was given by an FBI agent while Goss was providing security near the school.

Reached at work Wednesday, Goss confirmed the email was his but said he could not comment further without talking to his supervisors.

An FBI spokesman didn't return a phone call seeking comment.

No court proceedings took place for Louis Jourdain, the 16-year-old son of Red Lake Band of Chippewa Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr.

The teenager was arrested at the weekend as a possible accomplice.

A request for an interview with US Attorney Tom Heffelfinger was referred to a spokeswoman, Karen Bailey, who said authorities could not comment any further because the prosecution is a juvenile matter.

Many people on the reservation have declined to speak to reporters since Louis Jourdain's arrest on Sunday.

Several newspapers reported that Weise and Jourdain were members of a clique known as "Darkers" for dressing in dark clothing, with spiked or dyed hair and piercings.

© 2005 AP

Iraq casualty makes last flight home
March 31, 2005 - 5:00PM

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Australia's first military casualty of the Iraq conflict has been flown home aboard an RAAF aircraft whose crew wanted the honour of carrying their former colleague on his final flight.

The widow of RAF Flight Lieutenant Paul Pardoel was comforted by family members after the plane bearing her husband's body touched down in Canberra.

Kellie Merritt awaited her husband's Australian flag-draped casket as it was carried down the rear ramp of a C-130 Hercules aircraft.

Bearing the coffin were three classmates from the Australian Defence Force Academy where Flt Lt Pardoel graduated in 1991, and three members of the Royal Air Force.

A brief and moving service was then held on the tarmac at RAAF base Fairbairn, where Ms Merritt was flanked by the father of three's parents John and Margaret Pardoel and her own parents, Maurie and Colleen Merritt.

Throughout the service, conducted by RAAF chaplain Air Commodore Peter O'Keefe, a visibly distressed Ms Merritt was comforted by family members.

Air Commodore O'Keefe said Flt Lt Pardoel had paid the supreme sacrifice in his service of freedom.

"We honour and pay tribute to him, respectfully welcome him home with military honours, mourning his great loss to his family and cherishing his memory always," he said.

Flt Lt Pardoel, 35, will be officially laid to rest at a military funeral on Friday next week in Canberra.

He and nine other British servicemen died when their C-130 Hercules transport aircraft crashed minutes after taking off from Baghdad airport on January 30.

Just why the crash occurred hasn't yet been established.

An ongoing British military inquiry has ruled out a number of possible causes including a bomb on board or structural failure, but left open the possibility it was shot down by insurgents.


God be with you and watch over your family
Weapons inspector accuses CIA

March 29, 2005 - 4:40PM

A former Australian weapons inspector today accused the CIA of blatantly attempting to change the findings of an interim report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Rod Barton, a former Australian defence official and expert on biological weapons joined the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) in late 2003 to assist in the hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

By early 2004, the ISG had reached the conclusion that there were no WMD to be found. Its final report said there had been no WMD in Iraq and no programs since the end of the 1991 war.

However, removing Saddam Hussein's WMD was the key justification advanced by the US, Britain and Australia for the 2003 invasion.

Mr Barton said he believed the final ISG report, presented to the United States Congress in October last year, was frank and honest.

"As far as I am aware there was no attempt by any government to censor or in other any interview with the conclusions," he told a Senate committee today.

"Unfortunately this was not the case with respect to an interim report that I was involved with in March 2004."

Mr Barton said he was responsible for coordination and oversight of the interim report which was circulated to Canberra, London and Washington for comment.

He said the Australian comments were constructive and largely editorial.

"London, however, suggested that we add certain material," he said. "I believe these additions were designed to leave the impression that WMD may yet be found. This would have been contrary to our views.

"The CIA also sent suggested amendments. Many of these were quite useful but there were two amendments that were blatant attempts to change our findings.

"To the credit of Charles Duelfer, the head of the ISG, these attempts at changing the nature of the report were rejected."

Mr Barton said it was still a poor report as it did not say what the ISG knew by this time - that there were no WMD.

He said he resigned from the ISG as soon as a the final draft of the interim report was completed.

"In my view the report was symptomatic of a wider malaise in the ISG," he said.

"At that time there was no real objectivity in the investigation and it seemed to me that a lot of the direction, particularly in the chemical and biological areas, was coming from Washington."




Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Posted by Hello
Ind. Business Told to Hide Nude Statues

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

(03-30) 13:50 PST Edinburgh, Ind. (AP) --

The Venus de Milo had better wear a top and Michelangelo's David should put on some pants if they're going to be seen at a yard art business.

Bartholomew County officials told the business near Interstate 65 that it must move cement copies of the classical statues — and about 10 others — out of public view because they are obscene under Indiana law.

"It's not fair to point out our business, and personally, I don't find them offensive," Ginger Streeval, a co-owner of White River Truck Repair and Yard Art, told the Daily Journal of Franklin for a story Wednesday.

Frank Butler, the county's zoning inspector, disagreed.

"They have nudity ... and that should not be in the view of a minor," he said.

Indiana's obscenity law prohibits the display of nudity where children might see it, he said.

The law also stipulates that such material is harmful for minors if, "considered as a whole, it lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors."

The sheriff's department and zoning officials cracked down on the business about 25 miles south of Indianapolis after receiving two complaints about the statues.

But Ken Falk, legal director for the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, said nudity has been part of art for hundreds of years and that using nudity to define obscenity could raise serious constitutional questions.

"Just because something is nude doesn't mean it's obscene," he said. "If that were the case, most Renaissance art would have to be put into back rooms or hidden."


News: Iowa / Illinois

Last Updated: 10:37 am, Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

Survey: 6 in 10 AARP members oppose Bush Social Security plan

By Associated Press
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A new survey shows six in 10 AARP members oppose President Bush's proposal to carve out private investment accounts from the nation's Social Security program.
The poll by the nation's leading lobby for elderly citizens found that 46 percent of members strongly oppose creating private accounts that would divert money from Social Security and another 13 percent oppose private accounts altogether.
The survey also found that nearly half of members age 50 and older believe Social Security has flaws that require an overhaul, but the majority believe in reforming the system rather than replacing it with something else.
``AARP members not only dislike private accounts ... they really dislike them,'' said AARP research director Jeff Love, who released the results of the national survey at a news conference here Wednesday.

Two Weeks In Falluja

They see absolutely no justification for this war and were constantly asking me to explain how the American people can support these acts against a civilian population. For the first time in my life, I was ashamed to be an American.

By Mark Manning

03/30/05 "ICH" - - I got back from Iraq a few weeks ago where I stayed inside the city of Falluja and lived with the refugees of that city for over two weeks. I decided to go there because it seems to be the heart of the trouble in Iraq and the place to see if any sense or peace can be found. I had also heard that the city had 250,000 citizens in it who were told to leave when my government attacked, yet there had been no stories of their situation in our media. As an American, I felt responsible for this and decided to take a look myself.

On February 10th 2005 I flew into Iraq and drove to the city of Falluja. For over two weeks I was a resident and a refugee of Falluja and I am honored and privileged for that experience. They hosted me in their homes, and cared for me because they believed that I was there to listen to them and to honestly bring home their stories to the American people. I came to Falluja without military escort or armed protection in any way. I think because of this they thought I was crazy, but they honored what they thought was courage and they trusted me. Trust means everything there and they look deep into your eyes as they decide who you are. I lived with them and listened to their stories. They told me they do not trust American journalists to accurately tell the story of Iraq. They believe that the American public does not know what is really happening there, and that if they did they would feel differently about the war. They feel that the American people are their brothers and sisters and they are asking them for help. They wanted me to tell you their story.

The horrors of war have been brought to the people of Falluja. The people there say the city had 500,000 people in it, not the 250,000 quoted by our media. The refugees told me that they were given one week notice to leave the city. After three days, they were told they could no longer drive out, they had to walk. No camps were established for them and no refugee location was given. There was no planning by the American government for the people, no food, no shelter and no water. They were just told to leave or be killed. Anyone who stayed in the city after one week would be considered a terrorist and would be killed.

For five months these people have been living in any location they could find, nothing was established for them in the surrounding areas of the Falluja countryside. They are living in tents in the mud, schools, abandoned chicken coups, burned out buildings, cars and other buildings that people were not using or where others have made room for them. The weather is bad, with much rain and it is very cold. When they were told to leave the city, it was summer and they were not dressed for this cold and many could not carry out their clothes. Some lucky children are going to school in tents and all the classes have been shortened to 2 hours per day. Food is short and they are eating what the farmers grow and the surrounding community can spare. Again, even after five months they have received no outside aid from either the American government or the new Iraqi government.

The city itself has been devastated. Most houses have been seriously damaged, with about 65% of them totally destroyed. Evidence of depleted uranium (DU) shells is everywhere. This leaves radioactive contamination behind which has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. (See note1). Unexploded ordinance is a common sight. Many residents who were there speak of chemical weapons, napalm, cluster bombs and phosphorous used by the Americans. These are all illegal weapons and considered war crimes by the international community. Many of the houses were fired, meaning that the troops burned them down after searching them. Many houses with white flags and markings stating "Family Here" were destroyed.

Some families who had nowhere to go stayed in the city during the fighting and have paid dearly. I interviewed many people who were there and their stories will live forever in my mind. Here are some

· A mother whose son was killed by DU shells. He was in his bed sleeping when the shells came through the walls.

· A father who at 65 years of age was shot during a raid of his house, whose son was arrested during that raid and has not been seen since (he states that his son was not a fighter.)

· A 17 year old girl who hid under her bed with her 13 year old brother during a raid of her house and witnessed her father, her cousin, and her two sisters 18 and 19 years old, all shot to death. She hid for three more days with the dead bodies of her family and then they returned and shot her and her brother after finding them under the bed. Her brother died. She survived and told me her story.

· A Family of ten who lived through all the fighting. The kids were 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 12. They were a mess. These kids will never be ok. Their faces were marked with open and oozing sores and they were exhibiting serious signs of emotional damage.

There is presently very little medical aid available to the residents and refugees, and again, no aid has been provided to the refugees in the surrounding area. The medical centers in the city have been destroyed and have not been rebuilt. The main hospital has been reopened, but to get there you have to walk, as the ambulances are still being shot by the Americans and the Iraqi National Guard. The doctors have been beaten and their lives have been threatened by the Iraqi National Guard. These are the security forces that the Americans are training. The new government has warned them not to talk to any journalists about the conditions in Falluja. They understand this threat to be very real and a direct threat on their lives and the lives of their families.

To walk to the hospital you must go through checkpoints, sometimes through fighting, and only at certain daylight hours. The checkpoints are manned by the Iraqi National Guards and they are very hostile to the residents of Falluja. When we were at the hospital, an old man died of a heart attack because he was not allowed through the checkpoint. A woman gave birth in the ambulance because they would not let the ambulance back to the hospital after 5 pm and instead turned it away with her in labor.

We delivered by hand the medical aid provided by some of you to the hospital in Falluja. Me and one Iraqi woman, WE were the international medical aid to Falluja. We carried these boxes one at a time through the checkpoints, across the bridge and into the hospital. They would not let us drive in, we had to walk these boxes in. We did it every day for a week, one box at a time.

All of the people I talked to had messages to the American people. They said: "We did not attack you! We have done nothing to the Americans. Why have you done this to us?"

These are the people who hosted me, fed me, and worried about my safety. They took care of me and I will never forget their generosity, compassion and grace. They want peace with America and they want the fighting to stop. They feel they are the ones being attacked and that the Americans are the terrorists. They see absolutely no justification for this war and were constantly asking me to explain how the American people can support these acts against a civilian population. For the first time in my life, I was ashamed to be an American.

There are so many more stories to tell you and I will be making a film about it all. But for now, what I want you to know is that I spent two weeks in the heart of the beast. The place where our government and media said is the heart of the resistance, terrorists and Saddam Loyalists, and guess what; the place is full of people. People like you and me. Kids are everywhere. The average Fallujan family has 10 people in it. That means about 8 kids. 500,000 people in the city, you do the math. That is a lot of kids.

There are fighters in Falluja. That is a fact. But they are surrounded by some 490,000 innocent people. As a country, we have decided the damage to the innocents is worth the end result, whatever that may be. These people are being shattered by this very serious situation that they have no control over. They are the innocent victims of this war.

I cannot tell you what to do. This is a story of just one area in Iraq. These stories are all over the area we call the Sunni Triangle. But I was there and lived with these people and they taught me about love, forgiveness, truth and compassion. They, after all that has happened to them, still have the ability to differentiate between the acts of an enemy and the people of a nation. They cry out to us to save them from the ignorance that has brought this destruction on them. They have suffered 33 times 9/11. Over 100, 000 Iraqis have died at the hands of the American invasion (note 2) and still they say that they have nothing against the American people. This is grace. I learned from these people how to find peace. By deeply listening to my "enemy" I have found that the real enemy is ignorance and fear and acting from that place of weakness.

I will never forget the people of Falluja. Thank you for listening to them.


1. http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/du.htm ,

2. http://progressivetrail.org/articles/041029Cole.shtml

Iraqi children malnutrition doubled after U.S. invasion

3/30/2005 11:00:00 PM GMT

Speaking to the UN human rights body on Wednesday, Jean Ziegler, a hunger specialist, noted that malnutrition amongst Iraq's young almost doubled since the U.S. led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.

The UN's Human Rights Commission's special expert on the right to food said that by last fall 7.7 per cent of children under the age of 5 in Iraq suffered from acute malnutrition.

Malnutrition, a disease which is exacerbated by the lack of clean water and adequate sanitation, is a major killer of children in poor countries. Children who survive are usually physically and mentally impaired for life, and are more vulnerable to disease.

The situation facing Iraqi youngsters is "a result of the war led by coalition forces," said Ziegler, an outspoken Swiss sociology professor and former lawmaker whose previous targets have included Swiss banks, China, Brazil and Israels treatment of Palestinians.

Overall, more than a quarter of Iraqi children don't get enough to eat, Ziegler told the 53-nation commission, which is halfway through its annual six-week session.

The U.S. delegation and other coalition countries declined to respond to his presentation, which compiled the findings of studies conducted by other specialists.

In reporting the 7.7 percent malnutrition rate for Iraqi youngsters, the Norwegian-based Fafo Institute for Applied Social Science said last November that the figure was similar to the levels witnessed in some African countries

US jury's Bible death sentence quashed

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Wednesday March 30, 2005
The Guardian

The Colorado supreme court has struck down a death sentence because jurors were guided by the biblical "eye for eye, tooth for tooth".
In a 3-2 decision, the court ruled on Monday it was wrong of jurors to take their cue from the Bible. The passage appears in Exodus and Leviticus.

In 1995, Robert Harlan was convicted of raping a cocktail waitress at gunpoint for two hours before killing her; he also shot and paralysed a woman who tried to rescue her. Now 40, he will spend his life in jail without parole.

At his trial, jurors were instructed repeatedly to base their decisions solely on evidence. While there was no specific prohibition against reliance on religious beliefs, the supreme court held that a juror went too far by bringing his Bible into the jury room into persuade a Christian juror who argued the death penalty went against his conscience.
Five jurors were believed to have copied out the passage for their deliberations, before the jury gave the necessary unanimous vote for capital punishment.

"The text may ... be viewed as a legal instruction, issuing from God, requiring a particular and mandatory punishment for murder," the state supreme court said. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Nancy Rice said the ruling was demeaning to people of faith.

Red Lake schoolboy charged

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington

Wednesday March 30, 2005

The Guardian

The teenage son of the chairman of the Indian reservation where 10 people were killed in a school shooting last week has been charged with conspiracy, news reports said yesterday.
The student at the Red Lake high school in northern Minnesota was arrested on Sunday as police investigated the possibility that Jeffrey Weise did not act alone when he carried out the worst classroom shooting since the Columbine massacre in 1999.

The teenager was identified yesterday as Louis Jourdain, aged 16 or 17, and the son of Floyd Jourdain Jr, the chairman of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported yesterday that Louis Jourdain had been able to identify the shooter as soon as he had heard the first shot, although he could not see what was going on.

India spurns US arms

March 30, 2005

India has said thanks but no thanks to the US offer to sell Delhi its F-16 warplanes. Washington made the gesture in a bid to placate India after George Bush last week broke with 15 years of policy by deciding to sell Pakistan the same high-performance aircraft. Pakistan has been after these F-16s for years and the sale is clearly a reward for President Pervez Musharraf for his support for America's "war on terror". But an editorial in the International Herald Tribune takes the Bush administration to task for its initial decision and then compounding the mistake by offering arms to Delhi.

The IHT makes two compelling points. First, the US is wrong to encourage these two nuclear powers, which have already fought three times, to engage in a US-fuelled arms race. Second, selling expensive weapons to Pakistan, an authoritarian state, is hardly the best way to encourage it towards democracy.

There is another point to be made. The US has been badgering the EU - rightfully - not to lift its arms embargo on China. As the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, argued earlier this month, the EU "should do nothing" that alters the military balance of power in Asia through the sale of sophisticated weapons. The EU duly backed off. But, lo and behold, the US a few days later takes a decision that will do just that in south Asia.

Meanwhile, India yesterday announced new defence orders from Russia, Germany, Italy, Israel and even Qatar, worth a total of $746m (£396.5m).

Anybody but the US, India seemed to be saying.

Posted by Mark Tran at March 30, 2005 01:05 PM

Report critical of U.S.
intelligence due Thursday
Bush panel to fault information sharing in wake of 9/11
The Associated Press
Updated: 8:45 p.m.
ET March 29, 2005WASHINGTON
- President Bush’s commission on weapons of mass destruction will castigate U.S. intelligence agencies in a forthcoming report for their continued failure to share information after numerous reforms aimed at improving coordination, federal officials said Tuesday.

One official familiar with the commission’s workings, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the report also goes into great detail on why prewar intelligence on Iraq’s weapons programs turned out to be flawed. The report is scheduled to be released Thursday.

The report examines factors that might have led to errors, the official said, such as whether policy-makers were seeking preconceived conclusions, whether foreign intelligence agencies had reached similar conclusions and whether analysts had little information to work with.

‘Human intelligence’ in short supply

The panel considered a range of intelligence issues going beyond Iraq, including congressional oversight, satellite imagery and electronic snooping. Among numerous soft spots, officials familiar with the findings say “human intelligence” — the work of actual operatives on the ground — is lacking.

War in June
Sleepwalking to disaster in Iran.
by Scott Ritter
The American media today is sleepwalking towards an American war with Iran with all of the incompetence and lack of integrity that it displayed during a similar path trodden during the buildup to our current war with Iraq.

Whether this attack takes place in June 2005, when the Pentagon has been instructed to be ready, or at a later date, once all other preparations have been made, is really the only question that remains to be answered.

Bird flu spreading fast in Asia

March 30, 2005 - 2:29PM

South Korea has sent a message to rival North Korea offering to help it contain its first acknowledged outbreak of bird flu.

The South's Yonhap news agency said North Korean authorities were struggling to control the outbreak, and the disease was spreading quickly to provinces without adequate quarantine controls. The report cited an unidentified official involved in inter-Korean business.

North Korea's official news agency said Sunday that hundreds of thousands of chickens had been slaughtered to combat the outbreak of bird flu at several farms. It said the disease hadn't spread to humans, but gave no further details on what strain of virus was discovered.

Millions of poultry died or were slaughtered after a potent strain of bird flu emerged in Asia in December 2003. The disease jumped to humans, and has claimed the lives of at least 48 people, mostly in Vietnam and Thailand.

The South Korean government offered on Tuesday to send medical supplies and other equipment to the North to help deal with the outbreak in a telephone message left at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, Unification Ministry spokeswoman Yang Jeong-hwa said.

The South also asked North Korea to take steps to prevent bird flu from spreading here, and asked for details about the outbreak and what was being done to counter it, Yang said.

Experts fear that the virus could mutate into a form that is easily transmissible among people, setting off a pandemic. But most of the human cases have been traced to sick birds.

Despite an international standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons ambitions, South Korea has continued offering humanitarian aid to the deeply impoverished North.

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