Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Who's Watching, Sheehan, Cities, Zangana, Fisk, WTI, Gaza, Letter, Met, Pipes

1) Looks like folks are watching when we protest, dangerous folks. The person who posted this site is a friend of one of this list's readers, so take it as an eyewitness account:

http://www.mindspring.com/~wpoe/RoveCard.htm


2) I think the people who belittle Cindy Sheehan literally have no shame -- blowhard overweight males calling this politically charged and bereaved mother a "nut"? Hmm. Gender overtones, anyone? That'll play well with security moms AND soccer moms. For detailed discussion of this little snatch of Americana, check out www.dailykos.com:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1550643,00.html

US right targets anti-war mother
Gary YoungeWednesday August 17, 2005The Guardian

Rightwing criticism of a bereaved mother who is camped outside President George Bush's Texas ranch in protest at the conflict in Iraq intensified yesterday as her campaign struck a nerve with growing anti-war opinion in the country.

Pro-war commentators characterised her as a "nut" who was being manipulated by the left. The internet gossip Matt Drudge inaccurately claimed that Cindy Sheehan "dramatically changed her account" of one meeting she had with Mr Bush. That claim was then picked up by Fox News and repeated on Slate's website by the columnist Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens accused Ms Sheehan of "spouting piffle" and lambasted her protest as "dreary, sentimental nonsense".

Personal attacks on her were set to grow yesterday after her husband of 28 years filed for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences". Patrick Sheehan, who was her high school boyfriend, is seeking a share of insurance money and benefits awarded by the US government after their soldier son's death in Iraq.Ms Sheehan, 48, whose vigil in Crawford, Texas, has attracted huge media coverage throughout the US, has become a lightning rod for both pro- and anti-war campaigners during the past two weeks.

Her son Casey was killed when his unit was attacked by insurgents in Baghdad in April 2004. She wants to meet Mr Bush to discuss the war.

Several other parents who have lost their children in the conflict have joined her protest, as polls show public opposition to the war growing. However, Ms Sheehan has constructed a formidable media machine of her own.

TrueMajority, an anti-war group founded by Ben Cohen, one of the founders of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, has hired a Washington public relations firm to work with Ms Sheehan. And Joe Trippi, the man largely credited with Democratic hopeful Howard Dean's early success in last year's presidential election campaign, organised a conference with Ms Sheehan and liberal internet bloggers.

Despite her domestic rift, Ms Sheehan, from Vacaville, California, refuses to leave her makeshift peace camp in Crawford, which has been dubbed, "Camp Casey" until Mr Bush meets her.
The president, who is spending his summer holiday at the ranch, has expressed sympathy for her, but refuses to meet her. He did however send the national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, and the deputy White House chief of staff, Joe Hagin, to talk to her for 45 minutes.
Ms Sheehan was not impressed. "I think they thought I'd be very impressed and intimidated that these two high-level officials came to talk to this little grieving mother, and that I'd leave," she said.

Her presence has become a growing problem for the White House, which does not wish to seem heartless to a bereaved mother, but does not wish to be seen giving in to a demand from anti-war protesters.

Tension increased around her campsite yesterday after a pickup truck ran over wooden crosses erected at it, and residents petitioned county leaders to prevent large gatherings near the president's ranch.



3) More on Cindy Sheehan:

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article306158.ece

The grieving mother who took on George Bush Cindy Sheehan's soldier son Casey was killed nearBaghdad. Now her one-woman protest at the gates of theUS president's Texas ranch has become a metaphor for anation's increasing unease about involvement in anunwinnable conflict.

By Rupert Cornwell
Published: 16 August 2005

Something strange is taking place deep in the heart ofTexas, where the President of the United States isholed up at his Prairie Chapel ranch, a few miles fromthe town of Crawford. There, in the space of a fewdays, a middle-aged Californian, whose soldier sondied in Iraq, has become arguably the best-known womanin the US.

On one level, the attention generated by 48-year-oldCindy Sheehan - from the hitherto obscure town ofVacaville, an hour's drive north-east of San Francisco- merely proves the old adage that, like nature, thenews business cannot tolerate a vacuum.

Obedient to the tradition that an American Presidentmust be covered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year(including holidays) dozens of White House reportersare having to spend this sweltering August on theplains of central Texas as George Bush takes hiscustomary extended summer vacation.

Normally, hard news barely extends beyond barbecuefund raisers, a few minutely choreographed butcontent-free trips to "meet ordinary Americans," andthe odd Presidential excursion to a little leaguebaseball game. This year however manna has descendedin the desert for the media mini-horde.

What started as a one-woman protest has turned intometaphor for a country's growing disillusion at anincreasingly unwinnable war. Ms Sheehan, personable,sincere, articulate, and bereaved of a son, has turnedinto the human face of this disillusion.

The Lone Star State too has been contributing an extradash of colour - most notably on Sunday when LarryMattlage, a local farmer who rents his land tonetworks for a view of the President's 1,600 acrespread, fired his shotgun twice into the air, sendingreporters into a frenzy and an ever-nervousPresidential secret service into apoplexy.

He claimed he was merely warming up for the dovehunting season: "I ain't threatening nobody, and Iain't pointing a gun at nobody," he said. "This isTexas." But in the next breath Mr Mattlage made clearthe real source of his exasperation, the human dovesat Ms Sheehan's camp which is now in to its 10th day."Five weeks of this is too much," he complained,referring to Ms Sheehan's vow to remain throughout thePresident's holiday unless he talks to her.

But her "camp-in" is anything but a hollow summerstunt. Never has the Iraq war been so unpopular. MostAmericans now think the US-led invasion of 2003 was amistake, and by a margin of almost two to onedisapprove of Mr Bush's handling of it. Like MsSheehan, they want some or all of the 138,000 UStroops in Iraq brought home, and soon.

Even Republicans are becoming queasy at theimplications for next year's mid-term elections, ifthe present violence and bloodshed continues. Atelling sign is how even conservative talk-show hostssuch as Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, normally the mostreliable of cheerleaders for the administration, havebecome withering in criticism of Donald Rumsfeld, theDefence Secretary.

Casey Sheehan, 24, was killed in a firefight when hisunit was attacked by Shia militias south of Baghdad on4 April 2004, just a fortnight after he arrived inIraq. When he died, the public mood about the war wasstarting to waver, but was still broadly supportive.That is no longer.

The loss of 14 Marines in the roadside bombing nearHaditha on 3 August - the deadliest incident
yet ofits kind - brought home as never before therelentlessly rising cost of a conflict in which almost1,850 US soldiers have now died.

Three days after Haditha, Cindy Sheehan set up camp ata junction in the road three miles south of thePresident's ranch - as near as the Secret Servicewould permit. As the national media latched on to thestory, "Camp Casey" grew. By Sunday evening more than100 people were camped there, including some who haddriven 1,000 miles or more. A few leave, but othersarrive to take their place. For several hours duringthe day, their numbers were swollen by hundreds ofanti-war protesters.

Small white crosses bearing the names of dead soldiersmake an impromptu roadside shrine. Banners havesprouted on the trees, while supporters across thecountry send daily consignments of flowers. Half adozen dark green Porta-Potties now give a temporarypermanence to the scene - as have the local policeofficers urging sightseers to move on. At least onecelebrity has shown up too, in the person of ViggoMortensen of Lord of the Rings fame.

As public attention has grown, Ms Sheehan's protesthas acquired a highly-professional veneer. She is aco-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, ananti-war group that has demanded the impeachment of MrBush, and is no media neophyte. A PR firm fromWashington has is on the spot to co-ordinate andmaximise press coverage.

On Saturday - the day after Mr Bush's motorcade sweptpast Camp Casey without stopping, en route to a $2mfundraiser for Texas Republicans - Gold Star Familieseven spent $15,000 on a television advert. In theadvert, Ms Sheehan declares: "All I wanted was an hourout his extended vacation time, but he's refused tomeet with me and other military families. We just wanthonest answers."

Meanwhile Joe Trippi, the 2004 Presidential campaignmanager of Howard Dean, has organised pro-Cindy blogs,while Michael Moore, director of Fahrenheit 9/11 and aprofessional anti-Bush agitator, has made over hiswebsite to the cause. The protest moreover may bespreading: a rally in support of Camp Casey wasscheduled for yesterday afternoon in Union Square,Manhattan.
The stakes are growing, and supporters of Mr Bush aremounting their own counter offensive. Across the roadfrom Ms Sheehan and her followers, more than 200supporters of the President staged their own rally onSunday, holding signs branding Ms Sheehan a traitor.Bill O'Reilly's diatribes against Mr Rumsfeld have notstopped him labelling her "treasonous," while othershave seized upon divisions within the Sheehan family.

Ms Sheehan and her husband separated because of theirdifferences over the war and her increasing activismafter Casey's death. Last week, some of her in-lawsissued a bitter statement accusing Ms Sheehan of"promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety atthe expense of her son's good name." Other opponentshave noted that she did indeed meet Mr Bush, in June2004 and seemed then well satisfied with theencounter. So why, they ask, has she suddenly changedher tune, accusing the President of being callous anduncaring when he met her? Ms Sheehan explains that herjudgement a years ago was still blinded by grief. Theargument is squalid and demeaning. But it is a sign ofjust how nasty this fight may yet become.

In public, the White House is hoping to ride out theembarrassment. The day after Ms Sheehan arrived, itsent out Stephen Hadley, the President's nationalsecurity adviser to talk to her. She described themeeting as "pointless". But the White House plainlyreckons it has done enough. Mr Bush last week said hehad thought "long and hard" about Ms Sheehan'sposition.

But there has been no indication he will bow to herdemand for a face-to-face session - at least not incircumstances that smack of a media circus.

Whether this "do-nothing" strategy succeeds depends onevents. A PR battle with a grieving mother who haslost a son in a controversial war and who comes acrossso well on television is one no President wouldrelish. On the other hand, even a White House presscorps with little else to report may become bored.Perhaps some new crisis at home or abroad will sweepCamp Casey off the front pages. Or an encampment ofwar supporters may sprout forth, as a rival focus forthe media.

Perhaps the growing professionalism of the Sheehanmovement will have the public come to see it as justanother political campaign, akin to the "Swiftboat"controversy that engulfed Vietnam war hero John Kerrybefore the 2004 election, or the current rowsurrounding the leak of the name of CIA agent ValeriePlame.

On the other hand, another Haditha might transform MsSheehan's protest into a national movement. A fewdozen more US servicemen dead, and yet more Americanswould be wondering why on earth their young soldiersare fighting and dying in Iraq, at the hands of aninsurgency that seems to draw strength and inspirationfrom the US military presence. Mr Bush's ratings woulddecline further, and "Camp Casey" might go down inhistory as the moment when this President lost Americaand, with it, his war.

Cindy Sheehan herself is under few illusions about thelimits of her mission, how even she may not escapeAndy Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" rule. "Somethingmight happen and this won't be the story anymore," sheadmits. But I don't want this to end. Ending the waris the story."
Something strange is taking place deep in the heart ofTexas, where the President of the United States isholed up at his Prairie Chapel ranch, a few miles fromthe town of Crawford. There, in the space of a fewdays, a middle-aged Californian, whose soldier sondied in Iraq, has become arguably the best-known womanin the US.

On one level, the attention generated by 48-year-oldCindy Sheehan - from the hitherto obscure town ofVacaville, an hour's drive north-east of San Francisco- merely proves the old adage that, like nature, thenews business cannot tolerate a vacuum.

Obedient to the tradition that an American Presidentmust be covered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year(including holidays) dozens of White House reportersare having to spend this sweltering August on theplains of central Texas as George Bush takes hiscustomary extended summer vacation.

Normally, hard news barely extends beyond barbecuefund raisers, a few minutely choreographed butcontent-free trips to "meet ordinary Americans," andthe odd Presidential excursion to a little leaguebaseball game. This year however manna has descendedin the desert for the media mini-horde.

What started as a one-woman protest has turned intometaphor for a country's growing disillusion at anincreasingly unwinnable war. Ms Sheehan, personable,sincere, articulate, and bereaved of a son, has turnedinto the human face of this disillusion.

The Lone Star State too has been contributing an extradash of colour - most notably on Sunday when LarryMattlage, a local farmer who rents his land tonetworks for a view of the President's 1,600 acrespread, fired his shotgun twice into the air, sendingreporters into a frenzy and an ever-nervousPresidential secret service into apoplexy.

He claimed he was merely warming up for the dovehunting season: "I ain't threatening nobody, and Iain't pointing a gun at nobody," he said. "This isTexas." But in the next breath Mr Mattlage made clearthe real source of his exasperation, the human dovesat Ms Sheehan's camp which is now in to its 10th day."Five weeks of this is too much," he complained,referring to Ms Sheehan's vow to remain throughout thePresident's holiday unless he talks to her.

But her "camp-in" is anything but a hollow summerstunt. Never has the Iraq war been so unpopular. MostAmericans now think the US-led invasion of 2003 was amistake, and by a margin of almost two to onedisapprove of Mr Bush's handling of it. Like MsSheehan, they want some or all of the 138,000 UStroops in Iraq brought home, and soon.

Even Republicans are becoming queasy at theimplications for next year's mid-term elections, ifthe present violence and bloodshed continues. Atelling sign is how even conservative talk-show hostssuch as Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, normally the mostreliable of cheerleaders for the administration, havebecome withering in criticism of Donald Rumsfeld, theDefence Secretary.
Casey Sheehan, 24, was killed in a firefight when hisunit was attacked by Shia militias south of Baghdad on4 April 2004, just a fortnight after he arrived inIraq. When he died, the public mood about the war wasstarting to waver, but was still broadly supportive.That is no longer.

The loss of 14 Marines in the roadside bombing nearHaditha on 3 August - the deadliest incident yet ofits kind - brought home as never before therelentlessly rising cost of a conflict in which almost1,850 US soldiers have now died.

Three days after Haditha, Cindy Sheehan set up camp ata junction in the road three miles south of thePresident's ranch - as near as the Secret Servicewould permit. As the national media latched on to thestory, "Camp Casey" grew. By Sunday evening more than100 people were camped there, including some who haddriven 1,000 miles or more. A few leave, but othersarrive to take their place. For several hours duringthe day, their numbers were swollen by hundreds ofanti-war protesters.

Small white crosses bearing the names of dead soldiersmake an impromptu roadside shrine. Banners havesprouted on the trees, while supporters across thecountry send daily consignments of flowers. Half adozen dark green Porta-Potties now give a temporarypermanence to the scene - as have the local policeofficers urging sightseers to move on. At least onecelebrity has shown up too, in the person of ViggoMortensen of Lord of the Rings fame.As public attention has grown, Ms Sheehan's protesthas acquired a highly-professional veneer. She is aco-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, ananti-war group that has demanded the impeachment of MrBush, and is no media neophyte. A PR firm fromWashington has is on the spot to co-ordinate andmaximise press coverage.

On Saturday - the day after Mr Bush's motorcade sweptpast Camp Casey without stopping, en route to a $2mfundraiser for Texas Republicans - Gold Star Familieseven spent $15,000 on a television advert. In theadvert, Ms Sheehan declares: "All I wanted was an hourout his extended vacation time, but he's refused tomeet with me and other military families. We just wanthonest answers."

Meanwhile Joe Trippi, the 2004 Presidential campaignmanager of Howard Dean, has organised pro-Cindy blogs,while Michael Moore, director of Fahrenheit 9/11 and aprofessional anti-Bush agitator, has made over hiswebsite to the cause. The protest moreover may bespreading: a rally in support of Camp Casey wasscheduled for yesterday afternoon in Union Square,Manhattan.
The stakes are growing, and supporters of Mr Bush aremounting their own counter offensive. Across the roadfrom Ms Sheehan and her followers, more than 200supporters of the President staged their own rally onSunday, holding signs branding Ms Sheehan a traitor.Bill O'Reilly's diatribes against Mr Rumsfeld have notstopped him labelling her "treasonous," while othershave seized upon divisions within the Sheehan family.

Ms Sheehan and her husband separated because of theirdifferences over the war and her increasing activismafter Casey's death. Last week, some of her in-lawsissued a bitter statement accusing Ms Sheehan of"promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety atthe expense of her son's good name." Other opponentshave noted that she did indeed meet Mr Bush, in June2004 and seemed then well satisfied with theencounter. So why, they ask, has she suddenly changedher tune, accusing the President of being callous anduncaring when he met her? Ms Sheehan explains that herjudgement a years ago was still blinded by grief. Theargument is squalid and demeaning. But it is a sign ofjust how nasty this fight may yet become.

In public, the White House is hoping to ride out theembarrassment. The day after Ms Sheehan arrived, itsent out Stephen Hadley, the President's nationalsecurity adviser to talk to her. She described themeeting as "pointless". But the White House plainlyreckons it has done enough. Mr Bush last week said hehad thought "long and hard" about Ms Sheehan'sposition.

But there has been no indication he will bow to herdemand for a face-to-face session - at least not incircumstances that smack of a media circus.

Whether this "do-nothing" strategy succeeds depends onevents. A PR battle with a grieving mother who haslost a son in a controversial war and who comes acrossso well on television is one no President wouldrelish. On the other hand, even a White House presscorps with little else to report may become bored.Perhaps some new crisis at home or abroad will sweepCamp Casey off the front pages. Or an encampment ofwar supporters may sprout forth, as a rival focus forthe media.

Perhaps the growing professionalism of the Sheehanmovement will have the public come to see it as justanother political campaign, akin to the "Swiftboat"controversy that engulfed Vietnam war hero John Kerrybefore the 2004 election, or the current rowsurrounding the leak of the name of CIA agent ValeriePlame.

On the other hand, another Haditha might transform MsSheehan's protest into a national movement. A fewdozen more US servicemen dead, and yet more Americanswould be wondering why on earth their young soldiersare fighting and dying in Iraq, at the hands of aninsurgency that seems to draw strength and inspirationfrom the US military presence. Mr Bush's ratings woulddecline further, and "Camp Casey" might go down inhistory as the moment when this President lost Americaand, with it, his war.

Cindy Sheehan herself is under few illusions about thelimits of her mission, how even she may not escapeAndy Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" rule. "Somethingmight happen and this won't be the story anymore," sheadmits. But I don't want this to end. Ending the waris the story."




4) Here's an Iraqi reader complaining to Juan Cole about US media coverage of Iraqi politics, and he's right on (and Juan Cole is even sometimes guilty of the same simplification detailed below). Basically, Iraq is not just about Sunni, Shi'i, and Kurd. Not by any stretch:

www.juancole.com

It's the Cities, Stupid

An Iraqi reader writes in to complain about thetendency of Western analysts to focus on "tribes" intheir political analyses. He says the action is in thecities, where urban elites are the future of thecountry.

' It is remarkable how the "experts" on Iraq ignorethe most important section of Iraqi society: thenon-tribal millions centred in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul,Kirkuk and some other large cities. These may wellbelong to tribes and may even be religious, but aretotally independent. They regard their Sheikhs [triballeaders], if they know who they are, almost as a lowercast: Asha'ir (Tribal people) who are consideredclumsy, thuggish, and worst of all obeying the tribesrather than following their principles or thecountry's institutions.

Until the 1980's Iraq enjoyed the best health,education and other governement service, while thetribal areas were, and still are, quite backward andeven primitive, while the cities were as advanced assouth western Europe. The non-tribal Iraqis, call themNationalist if you like, have had no place in Bush'sIraq because the Americans promoted tribalism from dayone in the hope of controlling Iraq by buying itsSheiks and Mullahs. This policy worked in Afghanistanand Kurdistan because these are collections of self-ruled tribal areas, and not real countries, but have failed in Iraq's large cities with their complex relationships and mobile population.
These urban Iraqis are critical for the future of Iraqbecause of their skills and patriotism - do notconfuse them with the corrupt Ba'athists though. TheIraqi ministries now are paralysed by the corrupt andincomptent relatives and friends appointed by theMullahs and Sheikhs who now rule Iraq, which is beingtransormed into a failed state. The militias andterrorists decide what happens to the people of Iraq.The Constitution and state Institutions are irrelevantno matter how much fuss is made about them.

The Nationalists, who are more likely to be highlyeducated professionals do not have militias, but canleave the country in droves. Thousands already have,and the country can not function without themregardless of who is in power. The bizzare collectionof "Iraq Leaders" today are fighting over spoils thatdo not exist. The Oil money is not enough even forbasic needs, and the failed economy and services willsooner or later trigger national revolt. Unlike othernations, millions of ordinary civilians have AK47s intheir homes, and plenty of military training. '


5) Haifa Zangana on Women's Rights, Western NGOs, and the great US experiment in Iraq. Having been associated with Western NGOs in Iraq...I see her point:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1550651,00.html

Chewing on meaningless words

The battle over the constitution is regarded by mostIraqi women, confined to their homes by theoccupation, as an irrelevance

Haifa Zangana
Wednesday August 17, 2005
The Guardian

A prominent group of Iraqi women who backed theUS-British invasion recently met the Americanambassador in an effort to pressure the politiciansdrawing up Iraq's constitution not to limit women'srights. Western feminist groups and some Iraqi womenactivists fear that Islamic law, if enshrined as amain source of legislation, will be used to restricttheir rights, particularly in relation to marriage,divorce and inheritance. The US claims to share thisconcern. Iraqi women generally do not.

To understand why, perhaps we need to remember thatthis constitution is being written in a war zone, in acountry on the verge of a civil war. This process isdesigned not to represent the Iraqi people's need fora constitution but to comply with an imposed timetableaimed at legitimising the occupation. The draftingprocess has increasingly proved a dividing, ratherthan a unifying, process. Under Saddam Hussein, we hada constitution described as "progressive and secular".It did not stop him violating human rights, women'sincluded. The same is happening now. The militias ofthe parties heading the interim government areinvolved in daily violations of Iraqis' human rights,women's in particular, with the US-led occupation'sblessing. Will the new constitution put an end to thisviolence?

Most Iraqi women try to cope sensitively with thepredicament of dealing with the occupation and therise of reactionary practices affecting their rightsand way of life. This applies across the political andclass spectrum, to the secular left as much as tomoderate Islamists and nationalists. Most also feelthat the constitution is not their priority, and thatthose writing such a crucial document should be ableto think clearly, to think of tomorrow. To do that onemust be free of today's fears and able to enjoy basichuman rights, such as walking safely in the streets.Iraqi women cannot.

Despite all the rhetoric of "building a newdemocracy", Iraqis are buckling under the burdens andabuse of the US-led occupation and its local Iraqisub-contractors. Daily life for most Iraqis is still astruggle for survival. Human rights under occupationhave proved, like weapons of mass destruction, to be amirage. Torture and ill-treatment - even the tortureof children in adult facilities - is widespread.Depleted uranium and other banned weapons have beenused against Iraqi cities by occupying troops.

Iraqi women were long the most liberated in the MiddleEast. Occupation has largely confined them to theirhomes. A typical Iraqi woman's day begins with thestruggle to get the basics: electricity, petrol or acylinder of gas, water, food and medication. It endswith a sigh of relief at surviving death threats andviolent attacks. For most women, simply to venture onto the street is to risk being attacked or kidnappedfor profit or revenge. Young girls are sold toneighbouring countries for prostitution.

In a land awash with oil, 16 million Iraqis rely onmonthly food rations for survival. None has
beenreceived since May. Privatisation threatens freepublic services. Acute malnutrition among children hasdoubled. Unemployment, at 70%, has fuelled poverty,prostitution, backstreet abortions and honourkillings. Corruption and nepotism are rampant in theinterim government. Gender is no obstacle: LaylaAbdul-Latif, the minister of transport in AyadAllawi's administration, is under investigation forcorruption.

A quota system imposed by Paul Bremer, the former headof the Coalition Provisional Authority, ensureswomen's participation in the interim government, thenational assembly and the committee appointed to writethe constitution. Iraqi women's historical struggleagainst colonial domination, and for national unity,social justice and legal equality, has been reduced tobickering among a handful of "women leaders" overnominal political posts.

Powerless, holed up in guarded areas, venturing out indaylight only with armed escorts, and lacking anycredibility among Iraqi women, the failure of these"leaders" is catastrophic. Like their male colleagues,they have adopted a selective, largely US-orientedapproach to human rights. The suffering of theirsisters in cities showered with napalm, phosphorus andcluster bombs by US jets, the death of an estimated100,000 Iraqis (half of them women and children), ismet with rhetoric about training women for leadershipand democracy.

Documents released in March by the American CivilLiberties Union highlight more than a dozen cases ofrape and abuse of female detainees, and reveal that noaction was taken against any soldier or civilianofficial as a result - and that US troops havedestroyed evidence, to avoid a repetition of lastyear's Abu Ghraib scandal.

The silence of female National Assembly members andinterim-government and US-financed women's NGOs isdeafening. In Iraq, "women's rights" is an absurddiscourse chewing on meaningless words. No wonder thatthe US-funded NGOs, which preach western-style women'srights and democracy, are regarded as vehicles forforeign manipulation and are despised and boycotted,even when they recruit liberal or left personalities.

Iraqi women know that the enemy is not Islam. There isa strong antipathy to anyone trying to conscriptwomen's issues to the racist "war on terror" targetedagainst the Muslim world. Most Iraqi women do notregard traditional society, exemplified by theneighbourhood and extended family, however restrictiveat times, as the enemy. In fact, it has in practicebeen the protector of women and children, of theirphysical safety and welfare, despitelowest-common-denominator demands on dress andpersonal conduct. The enemy is the collapse of thestate and civil society. And the culprit is theforeign military invasion and occupation.

· Haifa Zangana is an Iraqi-born novelist and formerprisoner of Saddam's regime; a version of this articleappeared in the Cairo weekly Al-Ahram

haifa_zangana@yahoo.co.uk



6) Robert Fisk is back in Iraq, providing eyewitness accounts from the ground. He's can sometimes be melodramatic and less than careful with details, but he's there and we're not:

http://www.robert-fisk.com/

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article305558.ece
http://www.selvesandothers.org/article10933.html

There’s the wreckage of a car bomb that killed seven Americans on the corner of a neighbouring street. Close by stands the shuttered shop of a phone supplier who put pictures of Saddam on a donkey on his mobiles. He was shot three days ago, along with two other men who had committed the same sin. In the al-Jamia neighbourhood, a US Humvee was purring up the road so we gingerly backed off and took a side street. In this part of Baghdad, you avoid both the insurgents and the Americans - if you are lucky.

Yassin al-Sammerai was not. On 14 July, the second grade schoolboy had gone to spend the night with two college friends and - this being a city without electricity in the hottest month of the year - they decided to spend the night sleeping in the front garden. Let his broken 65 year-old father Selim take up the story, for he’s the one who still cannot believe his son is dead - or what the Americans told him afterwards.

"It was three-thirty in the morning and they were all asleep, Yassin and his friends Fahed and Walid Khaled. There was an American patrol outside and then suddenly, a Bradley armoured vehicle burst through the gate and wall and drove over Yassin. You know how heavy these things are. He died instantly. But the Americans didn’t know what they’d done. He was lying crushed under the vehicle for 17 minutes. Um Khaled, his friends’ mother, kept shouting in Arabic: "There is a boy under this vehicle."

According to Selim al-Sammerai, the Americans’ first reaction was to put handcuffs on the two other boys. But a Lebanese Arabic interpreter working for the Americans arrived to explain that it was all a mistake. "We don’t have anything against you,’’she said. The Americans produced a laminated paper in English and Arabic entitled "Iraqi Claims Pocket Card" which tells them how to claim compensation.

The unit whose Bradley drove over Yassin is listed as "256 BCT A/156 AR, Mortars". Under "Type of Incident", an American had written: "Raid destroyed gate and doors." No one told the family there had been a raid. And nowhere - but nowhere - on the form does it suggest that the "raid’’ destroyed the life of the football-loving Yassin al-Sammerai.

InsideYassin’s father’s home yesterday, Selim shakes with anger and then weeps softly, wiping his eyes. "He is surely in heaven," one of his surviving seven sons replies. And the old man looks at me and says: "He liked swimming too. "

A former technical manager at the Baghdad University college of arts, Selim is now just a shadow.He is half bent over on his seat, his face sallow and his cheeks drawn in. This is a Sunni household in a Sunni area. This is "insurgent country" for the Americans, which is why they crash into these narrow streets at night. Several days ago, a collaborator gave away the location of a group of Sunni guerrillas and US troops surrounded the house. A two-hour gun-battle followed until an Apache helicopter came barrelling out of the darkness and dropped a bomb on the building, killing all inside.

There is much muttering around the room about the Americans and the West and I pick up on this quickly and say how grateful I am that they have let a Westerner come to their home after what has happened. Selim turns and shakes me by the hand. "You are welcome here," he says. "Please tell people what happened to us." Outside, my driver is watching the road; it’s the usual story. Any car with three men inside or a man with a mobile phone means "get out". The sun bakes down. It is a Friday. "These guys take Fridays off," the driver offers by way of confidence.
"The Americans came back with an officer two days later," Selim al-Sammerai continues. "They offered us compensation. I refused. I lost my son, I told the officer. ’I don’t want the money - I don’t think the money will bring back my son.’ That’s what I told the American." There is a long silence in the room. But Selim, who is still crying, insists on speaking again.

"I told the American officer: ’You have killed the innocent and such things will lead the people to destroy you and the people will make a revolution against you. You said you had come to liberate us from the previous regime. But you are destroying our walls and doors.’"

I suddenly realise that Selim al-Sammerai has straightened up on his seat and his voice is rising in strength. "Do you know what the American said to me? He said, ’This is fate.’ I looked at him and I said, ’I am very faithful in the fate of God - but not in the fate of which you speak.’"

Then one of Yassin’s brothers says that he took a photograph of the dead boy as he lay on the ground, a picture taken on his mobile phone, and he printed a picture of it and when the Americans returned on the second day they asked to see it. "They asked me why I had taken the picture and I said it was so people here could see what the Americans had done to my brother. They asked if they could borrow it and bring it back. I gave it to them but they didn’t bring it back. But I still kept the image on my mobile and I was able to print another." And suddenly it is in my hands, an obscene and terrible snapshot of Yassin’s head crushed flat as if an elephant had stood upon it, blood pouring from what had been the back of his brains. "So now, you see," the brother explains, "the people can still see what the Americans have done."
In the heat, we slunk out of al-Jamia yesterday, the place of insurgents and Americans and grief and revenge. "When the car bomb blew up over there," my driver says, "the US Humvees went on burning for three hours and the bodies were still there. The Americans took three hours to reach them. Al the people gathered round and watched." And I look at the carbonised car that still lies on the road and realise it has now become a little icon of resistance. How, I ask myself again, can the Americans ever win?



7) Although it's hard to know if this World Tribunal on Iraq will accomplish much in the end, it's good to see people still beating the drums -- these are the same folks who held the late June WTI in Istanbul. Next meeting, NYC:

Dear friends and signers of the NION statements,

We are very excited to announce that we will be sponsoring an International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration.

As the charter for the commission states, "When the possibility of far-reaching war crimes and crimes against humanity exists, people of conscience have a solemn responsibility to inquire into the nature and scope of these acts and to determine if they do in fact rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity." (see http://www.nion.us/Commission/call-charter.htm)
We intend to fulfill that responsibility with your help.

The commission will meet in New York in October and will consider evidence on four specific issues: 1) Wars of Aggression, with particular reference to the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. 2) Torture and Indefinite Detention, with particular reference to the abandonment of international standards concerning the treatment of prisoners of war and the use of torture. 3) Destruction of the Global Environment, with particular reference to systematic policies contributing to the catastrophic effects of global warming. 4) Attacks on Global Public Health and Reproductive Rights, with particular reference to the genocidal effects of forcing international agencies to promote "abstinence only" in the midst of a global AIDS epidemic.

The commission's impact will flow from its rigor in the presentation of evidence, and the stature of its participants. Our goal is to continue to build the impact of the Not In Our Name statements and the World Tribunal on Iraq by holding a court of inquiry that will both frame and fuel a discussion that is urgently needed in this country: Is the administration of George W.
Bush guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity?
With your help we intend to prove it before a panel of distinguished legal experts and voices of
conscience. We are currently pulling together attorneys and well-known experts in the various fields to draw up indictments. The proceedings will be streamed live on the internet and will be available to the entire world.

We need to make a down payment on a major venue this week if this is to happen on the scale that is demanded. We urge you to go to our web site an make a generous contribution to make this happen (http://www.nion.us/NSOC/sign.htm). We are suggesting a minimum contribution of $100 because the costs are enormous, but all contributions are welcome and deeply appreciated.

As we say in the second Not In Our Name statement: "No election, whether fair or fraudulent, can legitimize criminal wars on foreign countries, torture, the wholesale violation of human rights, and the end of science and reason." Let us now act to make good on our commitment.
Thanking you for your continuing support,

Tony AlessandriniBrian DroletLarry EverestClark KissingerBarbara OlshanskyEmna Zghal
The commission working group(you may contact us at commission@nion.us)



8) Here's a fairly solid analysis of what's to be done with Iraq:

What America Needs to Do to Achieve Its Foreign Policy Goals ...Dealing with Terrorism
WILLIAM R. POLK
http://hnn.us/articles/14132.html
What is now being done about terrorism has proven ineffective. We begin with misunderstanding what “terrorism” is.1 It is not a thing, a place or a group. To speak of waging war on it is vacuous. It is simply a tactic which is used in desperation by those who do not have power comparable to those they regard as their enemies. It is the weapon of the weak....

9) Gaza Withdrawal and Palestinian Politics:

Daily Star "impressed by the sensible attitude" of ATFP

An unsigned editorial in today's edition of the Daily Star (Lebanon) praises the position taken by the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) regarding the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank. The editorial can be read online at:

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=17&article_id=17619

The Daily Star (Lebanon)Monday, August 15, 2005

The Gaza withdrawal is right because it conforms to international law.

The Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Gaza Strip that should be finalized this week has triggered a range of opinions of biblical flood proportions, with sensible advice coupled with some truly bizarre perspectives. Some commentators have stressed the pain that the withdrawn settlers feel. One particularly extreme Israeli newspaper, Hatzofeh, reminded its readers this weekend that "Today is the Ninth of [the Hebrew month of] Av, the day of the destruction of the Temples, and we are on the verge of a new destruction - the destruction of the communities of Gush Katif." The paper also noted that the 1492 decree which expelled the Jews from Spain also took effect on the Ninth of Av and added that "a little over 500 years later and Jews are again being expelled from their homes."

This kind of Israeli self-centered, masochistic extremism is precisely the wrong approach to take in analyzing the Gaza withdrawal. It is also a major reason why Israelis and Arabs have been waging war against each other for a century.

The plain fact is that the Israeli colonization of Gaza and the West Bank is contrary to international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions, and with every decade of occupation and colonization a more radical and militant Palestinian resistance movement has developed in response.

It is a shame that no Israeli government official has summoned the courage and honesty to say that Israel should withdraw from Gaza because compliance with international law is the route to peace with the Palestinians.

This is why we are impressed by the sensible attitude of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), whose president this weekend issued a statement urging all parties to take the necessary measures to ensure a coordinated and effective Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, so that the process of peace-making can proceed quickly.

ATFP President Ziad J. Asali said: "We call on all three national leaderships involved - American, Palestinian and Israeli - to do everything within their power to ensure that these important changes not only are managed in a smooth and orderly manner, but that they lay the basis for continued progress towards an end to the conflict based on the creation of a Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace."

The is the right thing to do because it conforms with the rule of law, ensures all concerned their national rights, and helps promote peace, security and development for all the region.



10) The London Metropolitan Police really don't look very good here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/attackonlondon/story/0,16132,1550565,00.html

New claims emerge over Menezes death

· Brazilian was held before being shot· Police failed to identify him· He made no attempt to run away

Rosie Cowan, Duncan Campbell and Vikram Dodd
Wednesday
August 17, 2005
The Guardian

The young Brazilian shot dead by police on a Londontube train in mistake for a suicide bomber had alreadybeen overpowered by a surveillance officer before hewas killed, according to secret documents revealedlast night.

It also emerged in the leaked documents that earlyallegations that he was running away from police atthe time of the shooting were untrue and that heappeared unaware that he was being followed.

Relatives and the dead man's legal team expressedshock and outrage at the revelations.
Scotland Yardhas continued to justify a shoot-to-kill policy.

Jean Charles de Menezes died after being shot on atube train at Stockwell station in south London onJuly 22, the morning after the failed bomb attacks inLondon.

But the evidence given to the Independent PoliceComplaints Commission (IPCC) by police officers andeyewitnesses and leaked to ITV News shows that farfrom leaping a ticket barrier and fleeing from police,as was initially reported, he was filmed on CCTVcalmly entering the station and picking up a freenewspaper before boarding the train.

It has now emerged that Mr de Menezes:

· was never properly identified because a policeofficer was relieving himself at the very moment hewas leaving his home;
· was unaware he was being followed;
· was not wearing a heavy padded jacket or belt asreports at the time suggested;
· never ran from the police;
· and did not jump the ticket barrier.

But the revelation that will prove most uncomfortablefor Scotland Yard was that the 27-year-old electricianhad already been restrained by a surveillance officerbefore being shot seven times in the head and once inthe shoulder.

The documents reveal that a member of the surveillanceteam, who sat nearby, grabbed Mr de Menezes before hewas shot: "I heard shouting which included the word'police' and turned to face the male in the denimjacket.

"He immediately stood up and advanced towards me andthe CO19 [firearms squad] officers ... I grabbed themale in the denim jacket by wrapping both my armsaround his torso, pinning his arms to his side. I thenpushed him back on to the seat where he had beenpreviously sitting ... I then heard a gun shot veryclose to my left ear and was dragged away on to thefloor of the carriage."

The leaked documents and pictures showed the failuresin the police operation from the time Mr de Menezesleft home.

A surveillance officer admitted in a witness statementthat he was unable to positively identify Mr deMenezes as a suspect because the officer had beenrelieving himself when the Brazilian left the block offlats where he lived.

The police were on a high state of alert because ofthe July 7 and July 21 bombings, and had been briefedthat they may be called upon to carry out new tactics- shooting dead suspected suicide bombers in order toavoid another atrocity.

The IPCC investigation report states that the firearmsunit had been told that "unusual tactics" might berequired and if they "were deployed to intercept asubject and there was an opportunity to challenge, butif the subject was non-compliant, a critical shot maybe taken".

But it now appears, that contrary to earlier claims,Mr de Menezes was oblivious to the stakeout operation.On the morning of July 22, police officers were inScotia Road, Tulse Hill, watching a property theybelieved contained one or more of the would-be bomberswho had tried to detonate four bombs on Londontransport less than 24 hours before.

One firearms officer is quoted as saying: "The currentstrategy around the address was as follows: no subjectcoming out of the address would be allowed to run andthat an interception should take place as soon aspossible away from the address trying not tocompromise it."
But the report shows that there was a failure in thesurveillance operation and officers wrongly believedMr de Menezes could have been one of two suspects.

The leaked papers state: "De Menezes was observedwalking to a bus stop and then boarded a bus,travelling to Stockwell tube station.

"During the course of this, his description anddemeanour was assessed and it was believed he matchedthe identity of one of the suspected wanted forterrorist offences ... the information was passedthrough the operations centre and gold command madethe decision and gave appropriate instructions that deMenezes was to be prevented from entering the tubesystem. At this stage the operation moved to code redtactic, responsibility was handed over to CO19."

CCTV footage shows Mr de Menezes was not wearing apadded jacket, as originally claimed, and that hewalked calmly through the barriers at Stockwellstation, collecting a free newspaper before going downthe escalator. Only then did he run to catch thetrain.

A man sitting opposite him is quoted as saying:"Within a few seconds I saw a man coming into thedouble doors to my left. He was pointing a small blackhandgun towards a person sitting opposite me. Hepointed the gun at the right hand side of the man'shead. The gun was within 12 inches of the man's headwhen the first shot was fired."

A senior police source last night told the Guardianthat the leaked documents and statements gave anaccurate picture of what was known so far about theshooting. But the IPCC refused to confirm thedocuments were genuine adding: "Our priority is todisclose any findings direct to the family, who willclearly be distressed that they have receivedinformation on television concerning his death."

The home secretary, Charles Clarke, said: "It iscritically important for the integrity of theindependent police investigating process that nopressure is put upon the IPCC before their full reportis published and that no comment is made until thattime."

Harriet Wistrich, lawyer for the family, said: "Thereis incompetence on the part of those watching thesuspect and a serious breakdown of communication."

Asad Rehman, spokesman for the family's campaign,called for a public inquiry. "This was not anaccident," he said. "It was serious neglect. Clearly,there was a failure both in police intelligence and onan operational level."


11) Here's a twist on the Nigerian Bank letter scams. Apparently, THE PEOPLE WANT A CUT!:

Good day to you.

My name is FRANK HUSSEY i am an American soldier, I amserving in the military of the 1st Armoured Division in Iraq, we havejust been posted to leave Iraq and go back to Germany. I am now in South Africa at the mean time, I and my superior moved funds belonging to Saddam Hussein, the total is $25,000,000.00 (Twenty Five million US dollars) this money is being kept safe in a security company.

Click on this link to read about even that took placehere
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2988455.stm

Basically since we are working for the government wecannot keep these funds, but we want to transfer and move the funds to you, so that you can keep it for us in your safe account or an offshore account. We will divide the total funds in three ways, since we are 3 that is involved. This means that you will take 30%, I will take 30%, and my superior will take 30%. 10% will be kept aside for expenses.

This business is confidential, and it should not bediscussed with anyone. There is no risk involved whatsoever. If you are interested I will send you the full details, my job is to find a good partner that we can trust and that will assist us. Can I trust you? When you receive this letter, kindly send me an e-mail signifying your interest including your most confidential telephone/fax numbers for quick communication also your contact details.

This business is risk free. Please reply me via thisemail address:

Respectfully submitted hussey_frank@hotmail.com

YOURS SINCERELY,Sgt. FRANK HUSSEY



12) And to think, this fellow was on the board of directors last year for the US Institute of Peace. Nobel prize for Pipes, anyone?:

The End of Treason
by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
August 16, 2005
http://www.danielpipes.org/article/2865

News reports from Britain indicate that three Islamist leaders in that country – Omar Bakri Mohammed, Abu Uzair, and Abu Izzadeen – could face treason charges.

The first two of them said, after the July 7 attacks in London, that they would not warn the police if they knew of plans to carry out another bomb attack in Britain. The third praised the London bombings for making the British "wake up and smell the coffee."

But are treason charges realistic? Not terribly, For starters, Mr. Mohammed has fled and some Islamists are not British citizens. For another, as an official, Lord Carlile, pointed out, there is probably not "a lawyer still alive and working who has ever appeared in any part of a treason case." Indeed, Britain has seen no application of the Treason Act - originally passed in 1351 - since 1966, except for two minor instances.

This absence points to a deeper reality: the crime of treason is now as defunct as blue laws, prohibition of alcohol, or laws banning miscegenation. I predict that, short of radical changes, no Western state will again prosecute its citizens for treason.

Until recently treason was a powerful concept. The U.S. Constitution defines it as "levying war against [the United States], or in adhering to [its] enemies, giving them aid and comfort." Famous traitors in history include Benedict Arnold, Vidkun Quisling, and Lord Haw-Haw.
The law of treason was always difficult to apply but now it is impossible, as illustrated by the case of the American Talib, John Walker Lindh. Captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan bearing arms against his countrymen, treason charges clearly applied to him. But he was charged with lesser offences and pled guilty to even more minor ones such as "supplying services to the Taliban."

Why this collapse? Because the notion of loyalty has fundamentally changed. Traditionally, a person was assumed faithful to his natal community. A Spaniard or Swede was loyal to his monarch, a Frenchman to his republic, an American to his constitution.

That assumption is now obsolete, replaced by a loyalty to one's political community – socialism, liberalism, conservatism, or Islamism, to name some options. Geographical and social ties matter much less than of old.

The Boer War of 1899-1902 marked an initial milestone in this evolution, when an important segment of the British public vocally opposed its government's war arguments and actions. For the first time, a faction dubbed "Little Englanders" openly defied the authorities and called for ending the war effort.

Another bellwether came during World War I, when the incompetence of the Allied military leaders led to a massive alienation from government. A third came during the French war in Algeria, when angry intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre effectively called for the murder of their fellow-citizens: "To shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses."

This alienation reached full florescence during the Vietnam war, when American dissidents waved Vietcong flags and chanted pro-Hanoi slogans ("Ho ho, Ho Chi Minh, NLF is gonna win").
Israel offers an extreme case of internal subversion. Arabs, one-sixth of the population, owe little allegiance to the Jewish state and sometimes openly call for violence against it or oppose its very existence. Some Jewish academics have also called for Arab violence. This climate has even led to several cases of Jews assisting Arab terrorists.

At present, loyalty to one's home society is no longer a given; it must be won. Conversely, hating one's own society and abetting the enemy is common. "Traitor," like "bastard," has lost its stigma.

This new situation has profound implications. In warfare, for example, each side must compete
to attract the loyalty of both its own and the enemy's population. In World War II, the Allies fought Germany and Japan; now, they focus not on whole countries but on the Taliban or Saddam Hussein, hoping to win Afghan or Iraqi allegiance.

This can lead to novel complexities: in the build-up to the Iraq war of 2003, anti-war organizations in the West effectively took Saddam Hussein's side, while the coalition in turn emphasized its Iraqi supporters. In the war on terror, the battle to win allegiances looms large and is fluid.

Treason as a concept is defunct in the West. To succeed in war, governments need take this change into account.

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