Monday, October 18, 2004
Syria, Election, Falluja, Hersh, ......
Nabil's postings from Sunday.....
1) Remember that little mortar exchange last week?
This is a second completely unverifiable story,
planted in the media as a trial balloon for later use.
I am growing more certain that if Bush takes this
election, there will be a US attack on Syria by next
summer. The signs are all there, and they're laying
the seeds even before the election.
To see this story with its related links on the The
Observer site, go to http://www.observer.co.uk
Saddam aide in exile heads list of most wanted rebels
A former Baathist based in Syria has been identified
as the Mr Big behind terrorism
Sunday October 17 2004
A senior Baath party organiser and Saddam Hussein
aide, Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed, has been named by
western intelligence officials as one of the key
figures directing the Sunni insurgency from his
hiding-place in neighbouring Syria.
Sources have told The Observer that Younis al-Ahmed -
who has had a $1 million price tag placed on his head
by the US - is one of between 20 and 50 senior Baath
party figures based in Syria who, they believe, are
involved in organising the guerrilla war against the
US-led multi-national forces in Iraq and against the
new Iraqi security forces.
2) The fangs of "globalization". In order to pay for
profits estimated not to have been gained in the
Kuwaiti market due to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in
1990, the state of Iraq still owes various US
corporations millions of dollars. Still wonder why
they hate the US? One wonders what payments Syria's
going to be made to pay Wall-Mart after Boeing's
products eviscerate thousands of faceless Syrian
Why is war-torn Iraq giving $190,000 to Toys R Us?
Iraqis are still being forced to pay for crimes
committed by Saddam
Saturday October 16, 2004
Next week, something will happen that will unmask the
upside-down morality of the invasion and occupation of
Iraq. On October 21, Iraq will pay $200m in war
reparations to some of the richest countries and
corporations in the world.
If that seems backwards, it's because it is. Iraqis
have never been awarded reparations for any of the
crimes they suffered under Saddam, or the brutal
sanctions regime that claimed the lives of at least
half a million people, or the US-led invasion, which
the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, recently called
"illegal". Instead, Iraqis are still being forced to
pay reparations for crimes committed by their former
Quite apart from its crushing $125bn sovereign debt,
Iraq has paid $18.8bn in reparations stemming from
Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion and occupation of
Kuwait. This is not in itself surprising: as a
condition of the ceasefire that ended the 1991 Gulf
war, Saddam agreed to pay damages stemming from the
invasion. More than 50 countries have made claims,
with most of the money awarded to Kuwait. What is
surprising is that even after Saddam was overthrown,
the payments from Iraq have continued.
Since Saddam was toppled in April, Iraq has paid out
$1.8bn in reparations to the United Nations
Compensation Commission (UNCC), the Geneva-based quasi
tribunal that assesses claims and disburses awards. Of
those payments, $37m have gone to Britain and $32.8m
have gone to the United States. That's right: in the
past 18 months, Iraq's occupiers have collected $69.8m
in reparation payments from the desperate people they
have been occupying. But it gets worse: the vast
majority of those payments, 78%, have gone to
multinational corporations, according to statistics on
the UNCC website.
Away from media scrutiny, this has been going on for
years. Of course there are many legitimate claims for
losses that have come before the UNCC: payments have
gone to Kuwaitis who have lost loved ones, limbs, and
property to Saddam's forces. But much larger awards
have gone to corporations: of the total amount the
UNCC has awarded in Gulf war reparations, $21.5bn has
gone to the oil industry alone. Jean-Claude Aimé, the
UN diplomat who headed the UNCC until December 2000,
publicly questioned the practice. "This is the first
time as far as I know that the UN is engaged in
retrieving lost corporate assets and profits," he told
the Wall Street Journal in 1997, and then mused: "I
often wonder at the correctness of that."
But the UNCC's corporate handouts only accelerated.
Here is a small sample of who has been getting
"reparation" awards from Iraq: Halliburton ($18m),
Bechtel ($7m), Mobil ($2.3m), Shell ($1.6m), Nestlé
($2.6m), Pepsi ($3.8m), Philip Morris ($1.3m),
Sheraton ($11m), Kentucky Fried Chicken ($321,000) and
Toys R Us ($189,449). In the vast majority of cases,
these corporations did not claim that Saddam's forces
damaged their property in Kuwait - only that they
"lost profits" or, in the case of American Express,
experienced a "decline in business" because of the
invasion and occupation of Kuwait. One of the biggest
winners has been Texaco, which was awarded $505m in
1999. According to a UNCC spokesperson, only 12% of
that reparation award has been paid, which means
hundreds of millions more will have to come out of the
coffers of post-Saddam Iraq.
The fact that Iraqis have been paying reparations to
their occupiers is all the more shocking in the
context of how little these countries have actually
spent on aid in Iraq. Despite the $18.4bn of US tax
dollars allocated for Iraq's reconstruction, the
Washington Post estimates that only $29m has been
spent on water, sanitation, health, roads, bridges,
and public safety combined. And in July (the latest
figure available), the Department of Defence estimated
that only $4m had been spent compensating Iraqis who
had been injured, or who lost family members or
property as a direct result of the occupation - a
fraction of what the US has collected from Iraq in
reparations since its occupation began.
For years there have been complaints about the UNCC
being used as a slush fund for multinationals and rich
oil emirates - a backdoor way for corporations to
collect the money they were prevented from making as a
result of the sanctions against Iraq. During the
Saddam years, these concerns received little
attention, for obvious reasons.
But now Saddam is gone and the slush fund survives.
And every dollar sent to Geneva is a dollar not spent
on humanitarian aid and reconstruction Iraq.
Furthermore, if post-Saddam Iraq had not been forced
to pay these reparations, it could have avoided the
$437m emergency loan that the International Monetary
Fund approved on September 29.
With all the talk of forgiving Iraq's debts, the
country is actually being pushed deeper into the hole,
forced to borrow money from the IMF, and to accept all
of the conditions and restrictions that come along
with those loans. The UNCC, meanwhile, continues to
assess claims and make new awards: $377m worth of new
claims were awarded last month alone.
Fortunately, there is a simple way to put an end to
these grotesque corporate subsidies. According to
United Nations security council resolution 687, which
created the reparations programme, payments from Iraq
must take into account "the requirements of the people
of Iraq, Iraq's payment capacity, and the needs of the
Iraqi economy". If a single one of these three issues
were genuinely taken into account, the security
council would vote to put an end to these payouts
That is the demand of Jubilee Iraq, a debt relief
organisation based in London. Reparations are owed to
the victims of Saddam Hussein, the group argues - both
in Iraq and in Kuwait. But the people of Iraq, who
were themselves Saddam's primary victims, should not
be paying them. Instead, reparations should be the
responsibility of the governments that loaned billions
to Saddam, knowing the money was being spent on
weapons so he could wage war on his neighbours and his
own people. "If justice, and not power, prevailed in
international affairs, then Saddam's creditors would
be paying reparations to Kuwait as well as far greater
reparations to the Iraqi people," says Justin
Alexander, coordinator of Jubilee Iraq.
Right now precisely the opposite is happening: instead
of flowing into Iraq, reparations are flowing out.
It's time for the tide to turn.
·Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo, and Fences and
3) Ever notice the antiseptic descriptions used about
Falluja this weekend: "restore control over the city,"
or "obtain al-Zarqawi," or "cleanse the city of
terrorists?" The Fallujans keep saying the demands
are impossible, and no one in the US media asks why
they're saying that. They're saying that because the
Fallujans have never seen Zarqawi, and people are
starting to wonder if the guy even exists. It sort of
sounds like when we invaded Iraq when they failed to
stop their [non-existent] WMD programs.
'They want Zarqawi. They can't kill him so they're
By Kim Sengupta
17 October 2004
The missiles struck at just after 3am with devastating
effect. Eight members of the al-Jabouri family were
killed as they slept, their home destroyed. The
following morning the US military issued a statement
saying that fighters loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,
America's number one enemy in Iraq, had been taken out
in a precision strike in Fallujah.
The town had been pounded nightly for three weeks,
with the Americans insisting that those killed and
maimed were insurgents mainly from Zarqawi's Tawhid
and Jihad group, which kidnapped and murdered the
British hostage Ken Bigley and his two American
colleagues. Repeated protests by doctors in local
hospitals that the vast majority of the casualties are
civilians have been dismissed as rebel propaganda. Now
the town is waiting for an imminent ground and air
assault, amid fears of a bloodbath.
Among the dead in the al-Jabouri family were
26-year-old Atika, who was six months pregnant, her
three-year-old son Omar, her husband Thamir, 28, her
sister Athra and her mother. Atika's prematurely born
baby lived for a few hours after her, but they were
buried in the same grave.
The only member of the family to come out alive was
Atika's five-year-old daughter, Ayisha. She was
asleep, hugging her grandmother, who was killed
instantly. Miraculously the little girl survived, but
she was badly injured, burnt and lacerated by shrapnel
and flying glass. Ahmed Fawzi, Ayisha's uncle,
recalled: "I live nearby and ran over after hearing
the explosions. There was nothing left. We had to
bring out the bodies one by one." Ayisha, with
injuries to her shoulder, arms, back and legs, was
taken to a hospital in nearby Ramadi for treatment.
She is now being looked after by the family of her
mother's uncle, Khalil Hammadi, in a village outside
Fallujah. Lying on a mattress on the floor, she does
not betray the considerable pain she must be under.
But the normally bright and inquisitive girl is very
Mr Fawzi said: "When in hospital in Ramadi, she
overheard some discussion about an operation on a boy
called Omar. She said to us afterwards 'I hear them
talking about Omar'. She did not know at the time he
was dead. That is the only time she had talked about
her brother. She has not once asked anything about her
mother or father. It is very sad, but what can we do?"
Mazin Younis, an Iraqi -born human rights activist
from Manchester who visited Fallujah to investigate
the damage, found that the overwhelming number of
attacks have been on civilian targets. Mr Younis, who
as a legal case worker helped gather evidence of
alleged abuse by British troops in southern Iraq, is
attempting to raise funds so that Ayisha can get
medical treatment abroad, and hopes that the same help
can be extended to other injured children in Fallujah.
"People in Fallujah say they are being punished," said
Mr Younis. "Ordinary people are being killed. I had a
meal in a kebab restaurant called Hajji Hussain. It
was full of families. Two days later it was bombed by
the Americans." The US military maintained the kebab
house was in fact a front for a command and control
centre for Tawhid and Jihad.
There are already 1,000 US troops, backed up by
artillery, tanks and Iraqi government troops,
surrounding Fallujah. The Americans and Iraq's interim
Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, have demanded that the
town hand over Zarqawi, supposedly based there, or
face retribution. Civic leaders have protested that
this is an impossible demand. They point out that the
Americans, for all their military might and a reward
of $25m, have not managed to capture or kill the
Jordanian-born militant. Rahim Haidar Mohammed, a
resident of Fallujah, said: "The Americans have
created a bogeyman in Zarqawi. We haven't seen him.
They can't kill him, so they kill us. We are just
waiting for the big attack."
Many see the Fallujah deployment as retaliation for
last week's bombings in the Green Zone in Baghdad, in
which four Americans were killed. The bitter Fallujah
clashes of last April were also regarded as
retribution, following the lynching of four US
contractors. After a bloody siege for weeks, and 600
Iraqi dead, US-led forces withdrew, leaving the town
to the insurgents.
At the time President George Bush said: "Our military
commanders will do all that is necessary to secure
Fallujah." The commander of the Marines who carried
out the assault later disagreed with that policy of
aggression, saying it destroyed the trust being built
with local people through reconstruction projects.
"We felt we had a method that we wanted to apply to
Fallujah, that we ought to let the situation settle
before we appeared to be attacking out of revenge,"
said Lt Gen James Conway. But he added: "We follow
orders. We had our say ... We saluted smartly and went
about our attack."
4) Remember when the USG said those veterans' sickness
was all in their heads? You should see the photos of
Iraqi birth defects as a legacy of uranium tipped
shells. Well, at least Toys R Us got their's...
Chemicals Sickened '91 Gulf War Veterans, Latest Study
October 15, 2004
By SCOTT SHANE
A panel studying illnesses among the veterans has
concluded that many suffer from neurological damage
caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, rejecting past
5) Check this out -- RNC Chair Ed Gillespie demands
that the Rock the Vote organizers stop using the
potentially imminent draft (note Syria posting above)
as a reason to mobilize young voters. Rock the Vote
responds in a letter on the website (they have a
facsimile image in Adobe of the RNC letter as well):
6) As far as I'm concerned, this election is already
being stolen -- and we just don't realize it yet.
To see this story with its related links on the
site, go to http://www.guardian.co.uk
Any means necessary.
In the 60s, police dogs and billy clubs kept black
Americans from the polls. Today's methods are more
Monday October 18 2004
There is nothing George Bush likes more than extolling
the virtues of democracy in faraway places. On October
8, during the second presidential debate, he promised:
"Freedom is on the march. Tomorrow, Afghanistan will
be voting for a president." Apparently some Afghans
enjoyed their new freedoms so much, they voted for the
US surrogate, Hamid Karzai, several times over, after
the ink used to mark voters' thumbs wore off. By the
middle of the day, all 15 of Karzai's challengers had
withdrawn. Freedom was not even limping let alone
"Today's election is not a legitimate election," said
Abdul Satar Sirat, after he and the other disgruntled
candidates had met in his house. Bush's national
security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, knew better. "This
election is going to be judged legitimate," she said.
"I'm just certain of it." When it comes to fixing
elections, the Bush administration has a way of making
the lame walk.
By Monday an exit poll funded by the US government and
conducted by the International Republican Institute,
which has links to the Republican party, revealed
Karzai as a comfortable winner. After diplomatic
arm-twisting by the US ambassador, the 15 challengers
withdrew their withdrawals. It was a miracle. A few
days later, in the final presidential debate, Bush
would literally claim divine intervention. "In
Afghanistan, I believe that the freedom there is a
gift from the Almighty."
Back in the US, however, the Almighty seems far less
generous. Bush's enthusiasm to export democracy is not
matched by his desire to defend it at home. With just
a fortnight to go to the presidential election,
efforts to obstruct and deny the vote, particularly to
black and Latino voters, are intensifying. Forty years
after the civil rights act enshrined the franchise in
the constitution for African-Americans, freedom is
The group most likely to serve in Iraq and
Afghanistan, where they are ostensibly extending
democracy and freedom - African-Americans - is most
likely to be denied those rights in the US. There is
nothing new in this contradiction. In the cold war,
when the US lectured the eastern bloc on the delights
of democracy, black Americans couldn't vote....
7) Electoral Map estimation -- it's a tossup at the
8) Letter from one of our readers:
I am tired of hearing the Bush Leaguers use the word
"liberal" as an insult, implying that the bearer of
the title "liberal" is a villain and not worth of
I would like my fellow voters to ask themselves if
such great works of legislation as Social Security,
Medicare, Medicaid, Minimum Wages, Regulation of
working hours, worker safety,
etc. came from "conservative" legislators of from
. It would take a long time and a lot of written space
to list all the great things that the United States
does for its citizens in need of help and protection,
thanks to the liberals in Congress.
I feel very proud when a friend refers to me as a
"liberal". I first campaigned,though too young to
vote., for FDR vs. Wilkie.
Very truly yours,
Peter A. Low
221 Windsong Lane
Corrales NM 87048
9) This doesn't happen every day -- ADC actually sort
of endorses a Prince video:
Prince’s Cinnamon Girl Music Video
The musician Prince has released a new music video for
the song “Cinnamon Girl” from his highly-praised new
CD, Musicology. The video, directed by Phil Harder,
visualizes the lyrics of Prince's four-minute song. It
stars actress Keisha Castle-Hughes as an Arab-American
girl driven to the verge of a terrible act, but then
pulling back from the brink and reconnecting with
fundamental human values. This music video will be
airing on MTV and elsewhere.
The video/song follows the hardships and confusion of
an Arab-American teenage girl in the post-9/11
American environment. It deals with several sensitive
matters in an interesting albeit cursory manner, as
the video is only four minutes. The issues running
through the video are: the effects of Sept. 11 on an
ordinary Arab-American girl, the confusing and
contradictory feelings of a teenage girl growing into
adulthood, tensions between generations within
immigrant communities including issues of culture and
religion, and the problem of violence.
In the lyrics, Prince sings, “Cinnamon girl mixed
heritage/Never knew the meaning of color lines/9-11
turned that all around/When she got accused of this
crime.” In the video the girl faces racism, bigotry,
and prejudice from her classmates because of her
ethnicity. She watches as storefront signs written in
Arabic are removed and replaced with signs in English.
She appears to argue with her parent about modesty
and the way she dresses. Her whole world seems to be
conspiring against her unfairly.
In this context, the character’s imagination of a
suicide bombing reflects the torment she feels at
being defined in every aspect of her life by others,
her need to assert her own agency, and her rebellion
against a world that already deems her a “terrorist”
because of her ethnicity. In the end, however, the
character and the video reject the nihilism and
cruelty inherent in violence, in favor of a broader
sense of humanity. Looking at innocent children in
the terminal, the character starts to weep. She has
confronted her rage, and overcomes the desire to lash
Prince’s video may be misinterpreted by some as either
rationalizing violence, or promoting dangerous
stereotypes about Arabs and Arab Americans, but the
artist should be credited with raising serious and
difficult issues. Although a music video may not be
the ideal format for exploring these sensitive and
complex themes due to the time length, this video
should be fairly clear to those who watch it
carefully. Much like the many media treatments of
youth and violence following the Columbine massacre
and other violence in American schools, Prince’s
Cinnamon Girl video is a laudable effort to confront a
number of very serious issues, many of which go
ignored by the rest of the entertainment industry.
You can watch the video at:
You can learn more about Prince via his official
10) Know how everyone blames Arafat for the breakdown
of Camp David 2000? Or how everyone always says "the
Palestinians never miss a chance to miss a chance"?
Here's a counter narrative:
15 October 2004
2425 Virginia Ave., NW Washington DC 20037 Tel:
202.338.1290 Fax: 202.333.7742
The U.S. Role in the Failure of Camp David 2000
Rather than facilitating peace at the Camp David 2000
summit the Clinton administration, for various
internal political considerations but mainly because
it abandoned its role as honest broker and impartial
mediator, facilitated a crisis that continues today.
In his book, “The Truth about Camp David,” former
criminal investigator Clayton Swisher exposes the
critical mistakes made by the Clinton administration
at Camp David and addresses the similar mistakes made
by U.S. officials in mediations with the Syrians. On
both the Palestinian-Israeli and Syrian-Israeli peace
tracks, Swisher explains that it was the Clinton
administration which missed the opportunity for peace
in the Middle East. Voices of dissent from within the
U.S. team over the handling of the talks are heard
throughout the book.
Speaking at a 13 October 2004 briefing and book
signing at the DC-based Palestine Center, Swisher
described his book as a collection of the accounts of
40 U.S., Arab, Palestinian and Israeli officials
involved in both tracks. “It is the truth about Camp
David as I see it based on what was told to me,”
Swisher found that U.S. officials involved in the Camp
David talks were not prepared to mediate a summit that
was expected to end decades of conflict. “The theme
of the Americans not being prepared is something that
is fleshed out almost to the point of nausea in both
tracks,” Swisher said. He found that instead of
coming to Camp David with their own proposals, U.S.
officials allowed the Israelis to influence the
development of the only draft that was ever presented.
Middle East envoy Dennis Ross had been authorized to
draft a proposal by former President Bill Clinton, who
left the summit for a fundraiser on the third day.
Swisher said Barak “watered down” the draft to a point
that it “took out any semblance of honest American
mediation or impartiality.” Ross took things further
by changing in his own handwriting a clause on
Jerusalem thus limiting the Palestinians to a capital
in Abu Dis, a village at the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Recognizing Ross’ handwriting, Palestinian President
Yasser Arafat concluded that the summit was a trap.
The Israelis were surprised that Ross presented Arafat
with the text before showing it to Clinton. By the
third night, both sides had lost confidence in the
The Clinton administration rushed the sides to a
summit based largely on internal political
considerations. President Clinton was coming out of
an impeachment, Hillary Clinton was running for
Congress and Al Gore was going to be nominated by The
National Democratic Convention to run for president.
One external development that encouraged Clinton to
rush to a summit was the election of Ehud Barak in
Israel. Barak defeated hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu
who had reneged on all the U.S.-brokered Wye
agreements and insisted on negotiating new ones. Yet
although Barak ran on a platform of continuing with
the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s peace
efforts, many Palestinians and Israelis and even some
within the U.S. administration were divided over
whether Barak was going to do things differently than
Netanyahu or whether he was going to send everyone on
a “wild goose chase.”
Swisher said Barak set the “wild goose chase” in
motion in May 1999. Clinton officials spent almost a
year pursuing Barak—who had signaled a desire to get a
peace treaty with the Syrians before the
Palestinians—on the issue of an Israeli withdrawal to
the 4 June 1967 line from the Syrian Golan Heights and
Lake Tiberias. In March 2000, after being told by his
advisors that Barak had agreed to the principle of a
withdrawal to the 1967 line, Clinton asked Saudi
Arabia to invite Asad to a summit in Geneva. Asad,
believing this was going to be an end to the conflict
and the start of an new strategic era with Israel and
the United States, headed to Geneva with 150 experts.
When Clinton presented the Israeli proposal, delivered
to him by his Middle East Envoy Dennis Ross, it turned
out that Barak had held on to between 10 meters and
400 meters around Lake Tiberias. The Israelis later
said it was 10 meters, the Syrians argued it was 200
meters and Ross said it was 400 meters. One thing on
which the Israelis and Syrians agree is that the
failure was more due to the Americans than either of
them. The understanding is that the Americans had
deceived the Syrian president.
Months later the same set of circumstances repeated
itself on the Palestinian track at Camp David. Again
the Clinton administration rushed the Arabs to a
summit, offered them a plan that no Arab leader could
accept, a plan that was destine to fail and then
blamed the Arabs for missing an opportunity to make
Swisher stressed that because Barak wanted
deniability, a written offer was never presented at
Camp David. Swisher argued that you cannot rely on
oral agreements presented as a “take it or leave it”
offer when negotiating an issue of such magnitude.
America needs to learn from its mistakes. The nation
is at a critical time in history with a hotly
contested election coming up and the formulation of
the next U.S. policy towards the region. Next time,
America needs to get it right.
The above text is based on remarks delivered on 13
October 2004 by Clayton Swisher, author and consultant
on Middle East affairs for a DC-based firm.
The speaker’s views do not necessarily reflect those
of The Jerusalem Fund or its educational arm the
Palestine Center. This “For the Record” summary may be
used without permission but with proper attribution to
the Palestine Center.
11) Seymour Hersh yet again, in the SF press:
Thursday, October 14, 2004 (SF Chronicle)
Want to get Seymour Hersh excited? Ask him why Abu
Ghraib is important. Then take cover.
Heidi Benson, Chronicle Staff Writer
He's not rumpled, he's a blur.
Even dolled up in a gray chalk-striped suit, sipping
tea to soothe a raw throat in the lobby of a Nob Hill
hotel -- where the employees are not on strike --
Seymour Hersh is in perpetual motion.
He's all over the couch, first with one foot up on the
coffee table, then the other.
"Where's my briefcase?" he hollers to the
author-wrangler who has been shuttling him around town
on the San Francisco leg of his book tour.
A leather case arrives gaping open, despite a shiny
combination lock. Clearly a stand-in for his
Washington office, it never closes.
Hersh starts digging. "It's in here somewhere," he
says as he extracts items from the bag, slamming them
down for punctuation: "Books! Newspapers! Bath soap!"
"Seymour Hersh did not lose that letter," he mutters
Of the many "love letters" he's been getting since his
book came out, this one -- from someone at Amnesty
International -- thanks him for exposing abuse in
Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. Both Amnesty and Human
Rights Watch began reporting problems with the way
prisoners were being treated in December 2001, in
"I can't believe I didn't keep it, because it was so
touching, a lovely little hand-written note. Just
But wait, he's found another treasure. "I just found
something great, you want to see something great?"
He's clutching a cache of documents, recently procured
in London -- internal memos from March 2002 warning
British Prime Minister Tony Blair against invading
Iraq. Seeds of a forthcoming Hersh investigation?
"Shut off that tape recorder."
This is America's archetypal investigative reporter at
work. "Sy" Hersh, 67, has been on the job since the
In 1970, he won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the My
Lai massacre and its cover-up. For Hersh, publishing
was a patriotic act; his critics called it treason.
That story has been credited by some with hastening
the United States' withdrawal from the Vietnam War.
Today, with the nation bitterly riven by another war,
Hersh -- now a staff writer at the New Yorker -- has
again commanded the world's attention, this time
reporting on American policy since Sept. 11.
His best-selling new book, "Chain of Command: The Road
>From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib" (HarperCollins), is an
expansion of his recent reporting, and Hersh is taking
advantage of the obligatory book tour to speak out.
"I get horrified," he said in San Francisco last week.
"Because if Bush is re-elected, he's going to bomb and
bomb and bomb, and that's what scares me. What else
can he do? The only way he can hold [Iraq] together is
On Tuesday, he continued the dialogue -- giving a
noontime talk at the Commonwealth Club, taping an
on-camera interview for local news, giving an
interview to The Chronicle -- and then attended an
evening fund-raiser for Mother Jones magazine.
"Bush believes it's America's mission -- our manifest
destiny -- to bring democracy to the Middle East,"
Hersh said. "There's nothing more frightening than a
president who believes he's doing the right thing in
Wednesday morning, Hersh talked with Michael Krasny on
his KQED-FM show, "Forum," before flying south to
speak at UC Santa Barbara.
"It's my thesis that Bush didn't go to war for Israel
or oil. He went to war because he wanted, through
democracy, to make Iraq 'safe' as a collateral issue,"
Hersh explained. "Once we democratize Iraq and Iran
and Syria, the people who support the Palestinians and
the Palestinians will see the futility of protest and
stop. That's his plan. It's completely mad!"
Thursday night, Hersh was in New York to receive a
Lennon-Ono Peace Prize ($50,000) at a special awards
dinner at the United Nations, where he met
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and was seated between
Yoko Ono and George Harrison's widow, Olivia.
By Friday noon, he boomeranged back to San Francisco
for a discussion with Chronicle reporters and editors
before giving that evening's keynote at a conference
on government secrecy presented by the California
First Amendment Coalition at the UC Berkeley Graduate
School of Journalism.
Between those two events, Hersh grabbed a front-row
seat in the journalism school's library to watch
Friday night's presidential debate on TV with a
hundred or so students, alumni and faculty, including
Dean Orville Schell and the director of the school's
magazine journalism program, Clay Felker.
"I've been writing an alternative history of the war,"
he said. "And my sources are not people with axes to
No journalist is tougher on the military, yet no one
has better inside sources. Why do they talk to him?
"Because I like the military and because people want
to do their job right. The good ones are really good,
and they don't want to send boys off to die in a
stupid war," he said.
"So, over the years, people in the military don't
worry about whether I'm a lefty or a righty or liberal
or conservative. They just care that I'm going to do
it right. I don't burn sources. I don't write stories
that are false, and they know it."
To get to his sources, he keeps odd hours. Late-night
calls and early-morning liaisons are common.
"I'm a vampire," Hersh said. "I don't bother to call
people at work. I go to their houses before their 6:30
a.m. meeting at the Pentagon."
Ask him why the Abu Ghraib scandal is important, and
you'll get an earful. "Why are you asking me that
question? Are you trying to torture me? Is that a
torture question? If you can't answer that question,
I'm not going to answer it." He's picking up speed.
"Why is it important? It's important because -- let me
tell you why it's important, in a nutshell! It's
important because it's a symptom of a lack of care by
the people at the top," he said.
"The president and (Vice President Dick) Cheney and
(Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld dehumanized the
opposition from the beginning -- out of fear, out of
anger, out of want of payback."
A disastrous consequence of that dehumanization, Hersh
says, was a tacit agreement to overlook the Geneva
"You don't mistreat people for the simple reason that
you don't want to ever treat a soldier any different
than you want your soldiers treated.
"People say Abu Ghraib was just horseplay, what am I
worried about? But it's a symptom. When we learn about
Guantanamo, we're going to be shamed.
It's as bad as Andersonville," he said, citing the
notorious Civil War prison where soldiers were
"Let me put it in My Lai terms," he said. "In My Lai,
soldiers executed three to five hundred people,
cold-bloodedly, and in the middle stopped and had
their C-rations for lunch.
"This wasn't that. But in terms of the consequences,
the damage to America's reputation -- particularly in
the Middle East -- it's every bit as devastating,"
"People in the Muslim world who want to be our
friends, who send their children to school here, who
like us -- and Americans are very likable, that's a
reality -- were just horrified by this."
Early this year, reports of abuse were all over the
Internet. Some newspapers picked up the story, Hersh
said, "but the government always denied it." The story
became undeniable only when digital photographs of the
"CBS had the pictures and I knew because I'm sort of
tuned in. I was glad for them. But when they didn't
run the story the first week, even before the second
week I said, 'The hell with it.' I knew where to get
the stuff, so I got it.
"They didn't run the story, by the way, not because
Dan Rather didn't want to run it, but because the
corporate suits at CBS stopped it. The White House
said, 'Don't run it.' "Let me tell you something,"
Hersh says, leaning in close. "Pictures like that,
you could die for."
E-mail Heidi Benson at
12) Unauthorized documentary of Dick Cheney, by a
Subject: Canadian CBC's fifth estate documentary: "In
Dick Cheney's World, what he says is frequently more
fiction than fact"
Date: Sat, 16 Oct 2004 05:18:13 +0000
Click on this link:
The Unauthorized Biography of Dick Cheney
Broadcast C-B-C- TV - 10/06/04
"In Dick Cheney's World, what he says is frequently
more fiction than fact"
This is the story of Dick Cheney's vision of America.
Follow Cheney's Career
ASCENT TO POWER -THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE -
HALLIBURTON YEARS - MR. VICE-PRESIDENT
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this
material is distributed without profit to those who
have expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational
purposes. Information Clearing House has no
affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this
article nor is Information Clearing House endorsed or
sponsored by the originator.)
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