Thursday, July 21, 2005

Czyz Essay, Cole, Chatham, Escobar, AIPAC, Allam, Tancredo, Bubba, Cole, Ratzinger, ACLU, Marx, Roberts, Gitmo

This is probably the last posting for a week or so -- off to the beach:

1) This is an essay on Karl Rove's creation of enemies, by one of this list's readers.

US VS. THEM
by Vincent Czyz

At a speaking engagement on June 22, 2005, Karl Rove was quoted—rather infamously now--as saying “Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said we must understand out enemies.”

I want to examine what Karl said in the context of two films I happened to see in the same week. “Crash,” which stars Don Cheadle among others, is an intricately woven tapestry of Los Angeles tales that portrays what happens (and what could happen) when people of various social classes, races, and ethnicities not only fail to understand one another, but make no effort to do so. The viewer is left to draw the obvious conclusion: if we made that effort, America might actually live up its billing as the Promised Land where race, religion, and ethnic background really don’t matter.

The other film I wanted to mention, also starring Don Cheadle, is “Hotel Rwanda.” As we should all know by now, the Hutus in Rwanda killed some 800,000 of their Tutsi and moderate--I emphasize the word moderate--Hutu neighbors (one can just hear the machetes falling to the rhythm of if-you’re-not-with-us-you’re-against-us). Throughout the movie, the Hutu executioners refer to the Tutsis as “cockroaches”. Why call human beings, many of whom married and had children with Hutus, cockroaches?

I remember watching Holocaust survivor Eli Weisel in an interview on television. When asked how the Nazis were capable of such atrocities, he said—and I have to paraphrase from memory—the Nazis didn’t think of Jews as human beings, they turned them into something less than human, into sub-humans.

Karl Rove turns human beings—many of whom had not the slightest connection to the Twin Towers or resisting American Marines--into “enemies.” Why? Part of the answer by now is obvious: it makes them easier to kill. But there is a more sinister side to Karl’s rhetoric. Most of us would no doubt agree that an enemy is a bad thing and a majority of us would therefore say that a dead enemy is a good thing. But what if the word “enemy,” a mere three syllables, is not applicable? Then President Bush is no longer defending his country, he is a mass murderer. I am not saying this is the case, I am pointing how the definition of a word or the misapplication of a word can both hide and bring into stark relief altogether different realities.

Watching Hotel Rwanda, we learn (or are reminded) that the genocide was spurred by the assassination of President Juvenal Habyarima, a Hutu. His plane was shot down while attempting to land in the Rwandian capital of Kigali. Hutus quickly blamed Tutsi rebels. It now seems more likely, however, that Hutu extremists, who stood to lose power under the peace agreement recently signed by President Habyarima and the rebels, were responsible. “Repraisals” begin—that is, the slaughter of thousands of Tutsis.

In America, the Twin Towers fell. Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi people had absolutely nothing to do with it. The CIA reported it. The FBI reported it. Rumsfeld admitted it. Colin Powell, who resigned from the administration two years too late, admitted it. And yet, nearly two thousand Americans are dead—and thousands more horribly maimed. More than 100,000 Iraqis are dead (the Johns Hopkins study was conducted last fall and the deaths continue). In addition, the US has spent between 250 and 350 billion dollars—estimates vary--which has helped Bush rack up the largest budget deficit in US history (and yet, in the debates, George successfully portrayed Kerry as a liberal who would spend too much!).This war was successfully sold to the American people by insisting Saddam Hussein was somehow linked to Al-Qaeda and that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) he couldn’t wait to use on America.

However, if neither Hussein nor Iraq had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks, how did attacking Iraq become “defeating our enemies” as Karl Rove put it? When it became clear that Iraq was in no way responsible for the attack on America, when it became equally clear the back-up reason—put forth to sway slightly less gullible Americans—that Iraq had WMDs had fallen through, Bush merely changed his story and said, we are spilling lots of American blood, spending hundreds of billions of dollars, and killing tens of thousands of Iraqis so that we can bring the Iraqis freedom and democracy.

Fortunately, the Iraqis have plenty of oil to pay for their freedom and Halliburton is gleefully overcharging Americans to transport it. Who, by the way, are we going to “free” next? (North Korea needn’t worry; although, unlike Iraq, they actually have nuclear capability and a delivery system that can reach US soil, they have nothing we want and we are not likely to be invaded any time soon.)

The war in Afghanistan, while lamentably handled in many ways, at least stands up to the rhetoric: Bin Laden was there and had the support of the ruling Taliban. But suppose the US had given so much as the mere impression of caring about Islamic concerns, of treating Muslim countries fairly? Suppose the grievances of the Islamic world really were listened to and taken seriously by the US and the rest of the west? In such a case, it is almost certain Bin Laden wouldn’t exist in his present form.

For the last ten years, I’ve lived on and off in Istanbul, Turkey. According to several Turkish friends of mine, all well-educated and all connected to universities, the Turkish government warned the CIA—for years--against arming Islamic fundamentalists to fight the Soviet Union and other communist nations. But the CIA went ahead with this practice, failing to understand what the Turks had always understood—that the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. The result was Bin Laden and his followers. If we go back a few decades, we find that we failed miserably to understand the Vietnamese mentality--and we know where that got us.

Karl is not stupid; he makes rather simple-minded statements, but he’s been successful with his black and white, us vs. them approach so why up the sophistication of his rhetoric? I am sure he could, if the need arose. I am equally sure some school teacher or other told him at one time or another that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The fact is, neither he nor this administration is interested in “freedom” and ‘democracy” (except insofar as it gets in their way), they are interested in bolstering their positions and that of their supporters. The war in Iraq was not a tragedy to be averted, but an opportunity which they created.

If, however, we happen to be interested in how tragedies occur, we might return to the movie, “Crash.” One of the subplots in the movie follows the fortunes of a man of Middle Eastern ethnicity (“When,” he asks, “did Persian become Arab?”). He is sure that his store was vandalized because an Hispanic locksmith, trying to cheat him, did not properly fix a door that wouldn’t lock. Insurance will not pay for the damage and the shopkeeper has, as he laments, “lost everything.” Needless to say, he blames the locksmith. Now he’s not going to go over and talk to the guy (their first conversation was a failure because the shopkeeper was a bit on edge and didn’t quite understand that it wasn’t a new lock he needed but a new door), he’s gonna retaliate, the shopkeeper is like Karl, he’s gonna take out the pistol he recently purchased for protection and show that Hispanic homeboy a thing or two.

We in the audience understand what is actually going on, we know the underlying causes of the store-owner’s resentment and frustration, we understand the locksmith and his situation as well--in every scenario, we are aware of what motivates each character’s behavior. When the shopkeeper shows up at the locksmith’s house, we are squirming in our seats saying, “No, no, you don’t understand—“ and desperately wishing someone in the film knew what we knew and would leap to the rescue not with a samurai sword or a laser blaster or a 44 magnum or a cruise missile, but with the simple truth, we wish someone would explain this to the shopkeeper what exactly happened because then he would put down that pistol and we would get our happy Hollywood ending.

Alas, America is not a country of understanding. I recall watching, for the first and last time, Bill O’Reilly while he interviewed a professor of Middle Eastern decent. Bill O’Reilly rudely interrupted the professor’s careful explication of the situation in Afghanistan and said something like, “Frankly, we Americans don’t care about the difference between Pashtuns and Tajiks …” Bill and Karl are just like kids who get a toy for Christmas that requires some assembly; they don’t want to read the instructions, they want to play with it immediately. Only after doing some irreparable damage do they go back and look at the instruction booklet.

Oddly enough, while Bill and Karl aren’t interested in understanding, our courts of law make every effort to understand not only those accused of crimes but convicted criminals as well. No doubt one of them would chime, “And that’s the problem with our courts, all this liberal understanding …” Is it? Are all killings, to single out one crime, equal? If a law-abiding member of the NRA (let’s call him Chuck) shoots a man who has broken into his home and attacked his family with a knife, and if that man dies of gunshot wounds, should we sentence Chuck to life in prison or the electric chair? Well, of course not. Although the Jesus I read about in the Gospels doesn’t sanction self-defense—a point guys like Rove conveniently ignore--our laws do.

The fact is, we have a whole judicial system based not on punishing the criminal, but on understanding what led to the crime and then finding a punishment that is just. The Karl Roves of the world, following the example of Arnaud-Amaury, seem to prefer cutting through all that legal malarkey: “Kill ‘em all,” Karl might say, “let God sort them out!”

I am referring to the infamous Albigensian Crusade against the French Cathars. Deriving their name from the Greek, Katharos, meaning pure, the Cathars renounced worldly pleasures and considered themselves good Christians. They were, however, fiercely resistant to religious authority and to the Catholic Church in particular.

Pope Innocent III considered the sect both heretical and a threat to the Church. The papal bull he issued declared that the lands belonging to these heretics would be distributed among the knights who seized them. Thus, knights who didn’t want to kill for God had the option of killing for land.

An army of some 20,000 crusaders gathered in Lyons under the command of Simon IV de Montfort, a knight who’d been disinherited of his uncle’s estates in Leicester in England. No doubt he thought a fat estate in exchange for eradicating a few thousand heretics was a bargain.

On July 21, 1208 the crusaders reached the town of Beziers and demanded that the Cathars who’d taken refuge there be turned over to them. The town, primarily Roman Catholic, refused. On the following day, the crusaders overran the town’s defenses. When the spiritual advisor to the holy campaign--a papal legate named Arnaud-Amaury--was asked by one of the knights how they were to differentiate between Catholics and Cathars, Arnaud-Amaury delivered his infamous reply, “Kill them all! God will recognize His own!” Within hours, some 10,000 townspeople had been put to the sword although only 200 or so were in fact Cathars.

If the Albigensian Crusade seems barbaric, if you feel outraged, perhaps you should not focus on the Cathars, Arnaud-Amaury, and Simon de Montfort, instead you should remember the Iraqis, Rove, and Bush: to get Saddam Hussein, more than a hundred thousand Iraqis have been killed and Bush’s cronies have gotten control of Iraq’s oil fields.

Let’s suppose, for a moment, we don’t bother to figure out our enemies but now suppose we make an actual and—here’s the tricky part—successful effort to make “our enemies” understand us? Then they’d know we come in peace and mean them no harm---unless they harm us first, then we will toss aside that Christian bit about turning the other cheek and annihilate as many as we see fit. (We need another hypothesis here that states we really DO mean them no harm and we come in peace even if they have the second largest oil reserves in the world.) What if we also make them understand that we really and truly only want what’s best for the world (with the exception, of course, of the present administration, whose key members have openly admitted they want to usher in the Pax Americana and maintain American hegemony around the globe into the foreseeable future). So long as they know we stand for truth, justice, and the American w … I mean, truth, justice, and global peace, then we wouldn’t have had 9-11 in the first place. They (“our enemies”) would know they could come to us, meet with our leaders in Washington, calmly and rationally explain their grievances, and our leaders would do whatever was in their power to help them out.

I don’t think, however, Karl Rove would be too happy about a world in which conflicts aren’t resolved by arms but by negotiations. In such a world, members of the Bush administration—chiefly Dick Cheney--and Halliburton wouldn’t get their chance to be war profiteers; Karl Rove wouldn’t have been able to smear John Kerry by pretending Kerry is weak and doesn’t want to slaughter as many of America’s “enemies” as the most up-to-date weaponry will permit; then, we wouldn’t have “enemies” we would have neighbors in the international community (and how would Bush take our minds off the largest budget deficit in history; with a war in Iraq going on, who even noticed his administration’s decision to reclassify mercury as a non-toxic pollutant)? Then, there would be no collateral damage in Afghanistan numbering in the thousands (my reasoning, just to be clear, is that if we had understood our “enemies,” they would not have been enemies and there would have been no 9/11). Then there would be no dead Americans in Iraq and, in all likelihood, 100,000 Iraqis would still be alive (to say nothing of Iraq’s obliterated infrastructure, razed museums and libraries resulting in an inestimable loss of cultural history, to say nothing of the horribly burned and hideously maimed men and women—mostly civilians of course--who will simply be listed as “wounded”, to say nothing of the roadside bombs going off every week, the fear, the uncertainty, the destroyed homes of the survivors, the chaos and the crime that our overburdened and undersupplied army cannot prevent). Why then, Karl wouldn’t be able to make patriotic speeches about retaliation and enemies, he might have to report something like, we helped fund the construction of another school in Iraq or Afghanistan or perhaps Rwanda--what kind of headline-grabber is that?

For those of us who would rather hear about another school being opened than another roadside bomb going off, it seems one of the first steps is to eliminate labels--cockroaches, Jews, heretics, us, them, enemies, liberals, conservatives (yeah, I’m guilty, too). There are no easy solutions, and even a genuinely kinder, gentler United States may not prompt the rest of the world to follow suit. Nonetheless, that should be our goal. Our aim should not be the destruction of enemies after they have attacked us, it should be to avoid creating enemies in the first place.



2) Juan Cole's article in Salon about Iraq's new government and their cozy relations with Iran. Cole on the mark, as usual:

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/07/21/iran/

The Iraq war is over, and the winner is... IranHamstrung by the Iraq debacle, all Bush can do is gnash his teeth as the hated mullahs in Iran cozy up to their co-religionists in Iraq.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Juan Cole
July 21, 2005

Iraq's new government has been trumpeted by the Bush administration as a close friend and a model for democracy in the region. In contrast, Bush calls Iran part of an axis of evil and dismisses its elections and government as illegitimate. So the Bush administration cannot have been filled with joy when Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and eight high-powered cabinet ministers paid an extremely friendly visit to Tehran this week.

The two governments went into a tizzy of wheeling and dealing of a sort not seen since Texas oil millionaires found out about Saudi Arabia. Oil pipelines, port access, pilgrimage, trade, security, military assistance, were all on the table in Tehran. All the sorts of contracts and deals that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney had imagined for Halliburton, and that the Pentagon neoconservatives had hoped for Israel, were heading instead due east.

Jaafari's visit was a blow to the Bush administration's strategic vision, but a sweet triumph for political Shiism. In the dark days of 1982, Tehran was swarming with Iraqi Shiite expatriates who had been forced to flee Saddam Hussein's death decree against them. They had been forced abroad, to a country with which Iraq was then at war. Ayatollah Khomeini, the newly installed theocrat of Iran, pressured the expatriates to form an umbrella organization, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which he hoped would eventually take over Iraq. Among its members were Jaafari and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. On Jan. 30, 2005, Khomeini's dream finally came true, courtesy of the Bush administration, when the Supreme Council and the Dawa Party won the Iraqi elections. Jaafari, a Dawa Party activist working for an Islamic republic, had been in exile in Tehran from 1980 to 1989. A physician trained at Mosul, the reserved and somewhat inarticulate Jaafari studied Shiite law and theology as an auditor at the seminaries of Qom. His party, Dawa, was briefly part of SCIRI but in 1984 split with it to maintain its autonomy.

Iraq has a Shiite Muslim majority of some 62 percent. Iran's Shiite majority is thought to be closer to 90 percent. The Shiites of the two countries have had a special relationship for over a millennium. Saddam had sealed the border for more than two decades, but throughout centuries, tens of thousands of Iranians have come on pilgrimage to the holy Shiite shrines of Najaf and Karbala every year. Iraqis likewise go to Iran for pilgrimage, study and trade. Although neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz maintained before the Iraq war that Iraqis are more secular and less interested in an Islamic state than Iranians, in fact the ideas of Khomeini had had a deep impact among Iraqi Shiites. When they could vote in January earlier this year, they put the Khomeini-influenced Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq in control of seven of the nine southern provinces, along with Baghdad itself.

It was not only history that brought Jaafari to the foothills of the Alborz mountains. The Iraqi prime minister was attempting to break out of the box into which his government has been stuffed by the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement. Jaafari's government does not control the center-north or west of the country and cannot pump much petroleum from Kirkuk because of oil sabotage. Trucking to Jordan is often difficult. The Jaafari government depends heavily on the Rumaila oil field in the south, but lacks refining capability. Iraq lacks a deep water port on the Gulf and needs to replace inland "ports" like Amman because of poor security. An initiative toward the east could resolve many of these problems, strengthening the Shiites against the Sunni guerrillas economically and militarily and so saving the new government.

The last time Iran and Iraq had really warm relations was the mid-1950s. Iraq then had a British-installed constitutional monarchy, and Prime Minister Nuri as-Said was fanatically pro-Western. The CIA had put Mohammad Reza Shah back on the throne in 1953, deposing the democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh (who had angered the United States when he nationalized the Iranian oil industry). In 1955 Said and the shah both signed on to the Baghdad Pact, a U.S.-sponsored security agreement against the Soviet Union and Arab nationalist Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. The pact proved ill-fated, however. A popular revolution overthrew the Iraqi monarchy in 1958, and Nuri's corpse was dragged in the street. Another popular revolution overthrew the shah in 1979. In 1980-1988, Iran-Iraq relations reached their nadir, as Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and Khomeini's Revolutionary Guards slugged it out on battlefields of a dreary horror not seen since World War I. Jaafari's visit was designed to erase the bitter legacies of that war.
Iraq's Eastern Policy does not come without at least symbolic costs. On Saturday, Jaafari made a ceremonial visit to the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, on which he laid a wreath. In a meeting with Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei on Monday, according to the Tehran Times, Jaafari "called the late Imam Khomeini the key to the victory of the Islamic Revolution, adding, 'We hope to eliminate the dark pages Saddam caused in Iran-Iraq ties and open a new chapter in brotherly ties between the two nations.'" The American right just about had a heart attack at the possibility (later shown false) that newly elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been among the militants who took U.S. diplomats hostage in 1979. But the hostage takers had been blessed by Khomeini himself, to whom Jaafari was paying compliments.

When Jaafari met the head of the Iranian judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, on Tuesday, the two discussed expanding judicial cooperation between the two countries. Shahrudi said that cooperation with Iran's Draconian "justice system" has had a positive impact on other Muslim countries. He called for Iraq to coordinate with something called the "Islamic Human Rights Organization" -- an Orwellian phrase in dictatorial Iran, a state that tortures political prisoners and engages in other acts of brutality. And he urged the Iraqi government to put greater reliance on "popular forces" (local and national Shiite militias) in establishing security.

Jaafari was probably only indulging his clerical host, but his Dawa Party certainly does hope to have Islamic law play a greater role in Iraqi society. The New York Times revealed on Wednesday that the new draft of the Iraqi constitution will put personal status matters, many of them affecting women, under religious courts.
For his polite forbearance as his Iranian hosts boasted of the superiority of their Islamic government and grumbled about all those trouble-making American troops in the Iraqi countryside, Jaafari was richly rewarded. Iran offered to pay for three pipelines that would stretch across the southern border of the two countries. Iraq will ship 150,000 barrels a day of light crude to Iran to be refined, and Iran will ship back processed petroleum, kerosene and gasoline. The plan could be operational within a year, according to Petroleum Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum, whose father is a prominent Shiite cleric.

In addition, Iran will supply electricity. Iran will sell Iraq 200,000 tons of wheat. Iran is offering Iraq use of its ports to transship goods to Iraq. Iran is offering a billion dollars in foreign aid. Iran will step up cooperation in policing the borders of the two countries. Supreme Jurisprudent Khamenei has called for the preservation of the territorial integrity of Iraq. In fact, Iran is offering so much for so little that it looks an awful lot like influence peddling.

The previous week, Defense Minister Saadoun Dulaimi had made a preparatory trip to Tehran, exploring the possibility of military cooperation between the two countries. At one point it even seemed that the two had reached an agreement that Iran would help train Iraqi troops. One can only imagine that Washington went ballistic and applied enormous pressure on Jaafari to back off this plan. The Iraqi government abandoned it, on the grounds that an international agreement had already specified that out-of-country training of Iraqi troops in the region should be done in Jordan. But the Iraqi government did give Tehran assurances that they would not allow Iraqi territory to be used in any attack on Iran -- presumably a reference to the United States.

Iranian leaders pressed Jaafari on the continued presence in Iraq of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian terrorist organization with ties to the Pentagon, elements in the Israeli lobby, and members of the U.S. Congress and Senate. Saddam had used the MEK to foment trouble for Iran. Jaafari promised that they had been disarmed and would not be allowed to conduct terrorist raids from Iraqi soil.

Not surprisingly, the warming relations between Tehran and Baghdad have greatly alarmed Iraq's Sunni Muslims. They know that Iranian offers of help in training Iraqi security officers, and Iranian professions of support for a united, peaceful Iraq are code for the suppression by Shiite troops and militias of the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement. Many Iraqi Sunnis believe that the Sunni Arabs are the true majority, but that millions of illegal Iranian emigrants masquerading as Iraqi Shiites have flooded into the country, skewing vote totals in the recent elections. This belief, for all its irrationality, makes them especially suspicious of Shiite politicians cozying up to the ayatollahs in Tehran. A recent BBC documentary reported that the Sunnis of Fallujah despise Iraqi Shiites even more than they do the Americans, in part because they code them as Persians (in fact they are Arabs).

Although officials in Washington felt constrained to issue polite assurances that they want good relations between Iraq and Iran, the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, and hawks in the Bush administration all have a grudge against Iran, and would as soon overthrow the mullahs as spit at them. But thanks to the Iraq debacle, that is no longer a viable option. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack revealed the true amount of influence Washington has in Baghdad when he admitted that the Bush administration has not "had a chance" to discuss Jaafari's trip to Iran with the prime minister.

The Iranians hold a powerful hand in the Iraqi poker game. They have geopolitical advantages, are flush with petroleum profits because of the high price of oil, and have much to offer their new Shiite Iraqi partners. Their long alliance with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani gives them Kurdish support as well. Bush's invasion removed the most powerful and dangerous regional enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein, from power. In its aftermath, the religious Shiites came to power at the ballot box in Iraq, bestowing on Tehran firm allies in Baghdad for the first time since the 1950s. And in a historic irony, Iran's most dangerous enemy of all, the United States, invaded Iran's neighbor with an eye to eventually toppling the Tehran regime -- but succeeded only in defeating itself.

The ongoing chaos in Iraq has made it impossible for Bush administration hawks to carry out their long-held dream of overthrowing the Iranian regime, or even of forcing it to end its nuclear ambitions. (The Iranian nuclear research program will almost certainly continue, since the Iranians are bright enough to see what happened to the one member of the "axis of evil" that did not have an active nuclear weapons program.) The United States lacks the troops, but perhaps even more critically, it is now dependent on Iran to help it deal with a vicious guerrilla war that it cannot win. In the Middle East, the twists and turns of history tend to make strange bedfellows -- something the neocons, whose breathtaking ignorance of the region helped bring us to this place, are now learning to their dismay.

More than two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, it is difficult to see what real benefits have accrued to the United States from the Iraq war, though a handful of corporations have benefited marginally. In contrast, Iran is the big winner. The Shiites of Iraq increasingly realize they need Iranian backing to defeat the Sunni guerrillas and put the Iraqi economy right, a task the Americans have proved unable to accomplish. And Iran will still be Iraq's neighbor long after the fickle American political class has switched its focus to some other global hot spot.



3) Here's the full Chatham House (Royal Institute forInternational Affairs) report referred to in the previous posting. This is not a bunch of wild eyedleftists saying that invading Iraq has made us a lotless safe:

http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Politics/documents/2005/07/18/Chathamreport.pdf



4) Here's a political analysis of al-Qaida by Pepe Escobar:

By Pepe Escobar
http://www.atimes.com

BRUSSELS - It could be that corner shop selling beer after hours, or that bakery. It could be a kiosk offering cut-rate fees for calls to Morocco or Egypt: they could all be al-Qaeda sleeper cells, only a five-minute walk from Brussels' Gare du Midi - the central train station. European Union terrorism analysts and Moroccan experts on Islamism agree that al-Qaeda's operational headquarters in Europe are now located in Belgium and the Netherlands.

According to Moroccan analyst Mohamed Darif, Moroccans are now positioned at decision-making levels in al-Qaeda cells operating in Europe, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Logistical and financial support networks for al-Qaeda in Europe now transit among the 300,000-strong Moroccan diaspora in Brussels and Amsterdam. Recruitment is on the rise - among the pious as well as among born-again Islamists, among the delinquent as well as among young immigrants who see jihad as the way to redeem themselves from their sins. At the same time, the exodus to jihad lands is also on the rise. It's not only destination Iraq; more and more so-called "white Moors" - white Muslims carrying European Union passports - are leaving for jihad training in Chechnya.

Both German and French secret services are now concentrating on young, EU Muslims who leave for jihad training in Iraq and come back to Europe to join or start sleeper cells. The British for their part are concentrating on individual jihad - extremely autonomous groups who either manage to contact or be contacted by an al-Qaeda operative so they can discuss targets and logistical support.

Abdallah Rami, another Moroccan expert, says there's one thing more important than the rush towards the Iraqi training ground and its wealth of information regarding urban warfare, clandestine networks and the privatization of means of mass destruction. Even more powerful, Rami says, is the appeal of "individual jihad": "Thanks to the Internet, an individual may become radical, acquire a terrorist education and prepare and execute an attack all by himself, without ever being in contact with al-Qaeda." This is what self-service jihad is all about.

The moderate Sunni Arab world could not but panic. The spread of self-service jihad has led major Arab-language media like al-Hayat and Asharq al-Awsat to start debating "Islamo-fascism". But the debate would be more profitable if it concentrated on al-Qaeda's foreign policy. Just like Washington neo-conservatives, al-Qaeda seems to be engaged in regime change - fighting to place rulers, especially in the Arab world, who do not clash with its political ambitions, even if such leaders don't subscribe to al-Qaeda's worldview.

Contrary to the official line of both the George W Bush and Tony Blair governments, it's not hatred of Western values and freedom that drives the Salafi-jihadis. This is a fight for political power. Al-Qaeda is profiting immensely from the fact that average, moderate Muslims in the Middle East as well as in Europe have become so enraged by the excesses of the US imperial adventure in Iraq that for them the only counter-measure is to become a jihadi.

The big pictureAs far as the London bombings are concerned, the al-Qaeda-Pakistani connection is now firmly established. The operation may have been planned in Pakistan in March 2004, immediately after the Madrid bombing. Muhammad Siddique Khan, the oldest of the bombers (it's not proven they were suicide bombers; they may have been deceived) has been linked to Libyan Abu Faraj al-Libbi, a high-profile new generation al-Qaeda operative recently captured in Pakistan.

EU analysts are seriously considering what in intelligence circles is regarded as al-Qaeda's master plan, a document called "Al-Qaeda strategy up to the year 2020", probably written by Egyptian war strategist Muhammad Mekkawi. Mekkawi talks about the establishment of a jihadi battleground ranging from Afghanistan to Syria and Lebanon. Iraq of course is crucial in the overall strategy. Al-Qaeda wants nothing less than control of Baghdad. In the past few days, the numbers once again have proved that what happened one day in London is what reality is all about in Iraq: 17 bombings in 72 hours, more than 40 suicide bombings - and counting - in July alone, including the ghastly spectacle in Musayyib, south of Baghdad, where more than 100 people were killed and 130 injured when a suicide bomber blew up a fuel tanker near a crowded marketplace, right in front of a Shi'ite mosque.

Last week, the interior and justice ministers of the 25 EU members gathered in Brussels for an extraordinary summit on terrorism. They decided to enforce an EU-wide mandate to obtain evidence, keep individual cellphone records for one year, and improve EU-wide information exchanges between police, surveillance and justice bodies.

But the EU is still far from adopting a US-style Patriot Act. EU-based humanitarian or charity organizations are not as controlled as they are in the US.

Dutchman Gijs de Vries, in effect the EU's Mr Counterterrorism, is worried: what has been decided has to be put in practice as soon as possible. Many of the 25 still have not approved their own anti-terrorist legislation. On the other hand, some members, like France, are toughening the police state. Nicolas Sarkozy, France's controversial interior minister, wants to intensify the expulsion of preachers, accelerate the education of "made in France" imams, keep all video-surveillance tapes in stock and expand to the whole EU the conservation of telephone records. French jihadi candidates to Iraq recently discovered in a northern Paris neighborhood might as well relocate, probably by taking the Thalys train to Belgium or the Netherlands.
Most new-generation jihadis didn't care about Islam before they became born-again Islamists. Most are well-educated, middle class and even married - like the London bombers. They may continue to cause terror inside Europe because of the policies of the governments there - be they Spanish, British, Italian or Danish - which they consider humiliating to Muslims, not because they have been indoctrinated by a fiery Salafi cleric in London or Paris. Al-Qaeda has never cared about Western "values" or "freedom". One just has to listen carefully to Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. They've always repeated the same themes: if you bomb our cities, we will bomb yours; if you leave our lands, stop planting corrupt leaders and stop plundering our resources, we will stop.

(Copyright 2005 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us for information on sales, syndication and republishing.)


5) Here's a long story on AIPAC intrigues within Washington circles:

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20050801&s=rozen

The Big Chill
Laura Rozen

A chill has taken hold lately among both government officials and the US media. It comes in the wake of a US district court's decision to jail a New York Times reporter for refusing to reveal to a grand jury her sources in the Bush Administration and the FBI investigation of a Pentagon Iran analyst for leaking classified information to former officials with the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC. As a result, those who engage in what have long been standard Washington practices--reporters ferreting out information from government sources, those sources confiding in policy associates, lobbyists and reporters--have become increasingly inhibited in carrying out their jobs.

Even as a press frenzy surrounds a grand jury investigation of whether top presidential advisor Karl Rove leaked a CIA officer's identity to the press, unease in the Washington policy and journalistic communities is also evident. In the wake of Times reporter Judith Miller's jailing and in fear of government prosecution, the Cleveland Plain Dealer has decided, on the advice of its lawyers, not to publish two major articles based on leaked government information. At a recent gathering in a suburban Maryland living room, the conversation among a handful of foreign policy experts and reporters was about the sense of fear and clampdown. One government expert was convinced office phone conversations were regularly monitored by higher-ups, and reporters noted that senior government sources, intimidated by the Franklin investigation, have become more tight-lipped....


6) Analysis of Friedman:

www.counterpunch.org

Did Thomas Friedman Flunk History?
A Muslim Problem
July 18, 2005
By M. SHAHID ALAM

It appears that Mr. Thomas Friedman has a Muslim problem. He has a great deal of trouble thinking straight when writing about Muslims; and, as the New York Times' resident expert on Islam, he displays this malaise frequently, often twice a week.

In the wake of the recent bombings in London ­ as atrocious as bombings get anywhere ­ Mr. Friedman sums up his thoughts on this terrible tragedy in the title of his column of July 8, 2005, "If it's a Muslim Problem, It Needs a Muslim Solution." The conditional 'If' is merely a distraction. I could say that it is a deceptive ploy, but I will be more charitable. It is perhaps the last gasp of Mr. Friedman's conscience, mortified by his own mendacity.

Always the faithful acolyte of Bernard Lewis, Mr. Friedman interprets every Muslim act of violence against the West (and that includes Israel) as the herald of a clash of civilizations. In his own words, when "Al-Qaeda-like bombings come to the London underground, that becomes a civilizational problem. Every Muslim living in a Western society suddenly becomes a suspect, a potential walking bomb."

First, consider the inflammatory assertion about every Muslim in the West suddenly becoming "a potential walking bomb." If this were true, imagine the horror of Westerners at the thought of some 60 million potential walking bombs threatening their neighborhoods. Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of Westerners did not start looking upon their Muslim neighbors as "walking bombs" after the terrorist attacks in New York, Madrid or London. Despite the high-pitched alarms raised in very high places, the overwhelming majority of Europeans and Americans knew better than Mr. Friedman.

It appears that Mr. Friedman is propounding a new thesis on civilizational wars. 'The Muslim extremists,' he charges, 'are starting a civilizational war. It all begins when they bomb our cities, forcing us to treat all Muslims here as potential terrorists. This is going to pit us against them. And that is a civilizational problem.'
The terrorist acts of a few Muslims are terrible tragedies: but do they have a history behind them? Is there a history of Western provocations in the Muslim world? Does the Western world at any point enter the historical chain of causation that now drives a few sane Muslims to acts of terrorism? The only history that Friedman will acknowledge is one of Western innocence. There is no blowback: hence, no Western responsibility, no Western guilt.

Mr. Friedman speaks on this authoritatively and with clarity. The Muslims world has produced a "jihadist death cult in its midst." "If it does not fight that death cult, that cancer, within its own body politic, it is going to infect Muslim-Western relations everywhere." His two-fold verdict is clear. Inexplicably, the Muslims have produced a death cult, a religious frenzy, that is driving those infected by it to kill innocent Westerners without provocation. Equally bad, the Muslims have done nothing to condemn, to root out this death cult they have spawned.

There is not even a hint of history in these words. The historical amnesia is truly astounding. Does Mr. Friedman know any history? Of course, he does; but the history he knows is better forgotten if he is to succeed in demonizing the Muslim world. The oppressors choose to forget the history of their depredations, or substitute a civilizing mission for their history of brutalities, bombings, massacres, ethnic cleansings and expropriations. It is the oppressed peoples who know the history of their oppression: they know it because they have endured it. Its history is seared into their memory, their individual and collective memory. Indeed, they can liberate themselves only by memorializing this history.

Which part of the history of the Muslim world should I recall for the benefit of Mr. Friedman? I will not begin with the Crusades or the forced conversion of the Spanish Muslims and their eventual expulsion from Spain. That is not the history behind the "jihadist death cult." I could begin with the creation of a Jewish state in 1948 in lands inhabited by Palestinians; the 1956 invasion of Egypt by Britain, France and Israel; Israel's pre-emptive war of 1967 against three Arab states; the meticulously planned destruction of Palestinian society in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967; the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, stretching from 1982 to 2000; the massacre of 200,000 Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s; the devastation of Chechnya in 1996 and since 1999; the brutalities against Kashmiris since the 1990s; the deadly sanctions against Iraq from 1990 to 1993 which killed one and a half million Iraqis; the pogrom against Gujarati Muslims in 2002; the US invasion of Iraq in April 2003 which has already killed more than 200,000 Iraqis. Clearly, there is a lot that Mr. Friedman has to forget, to erase from his history books.

Mr. Friedman's memory only goes back to the latest terrorist attacks of Muslims against Western targets. That is not to say by any stretch that these terrorist attacks are defensible. Clearly, they are not. But they will not be stopped by willfully and perversely erasing the layered history behind these acts. They will not be stopped by more wars and more occupations. If Mr. Friedman would unplug his ears, that is the clear message flowing everyday from the American or American-supported occupations of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Frustrated by what he sees as the unwillingness of the Muslim world to smash the "jihadist (read: Islamic) death cult," Mr. Friedman issues a dire warning: 'Smash your cultists or we will do it for you. We will do it in a "rough and crude way," by denying visas to Muslims and making every Muslim in our midst "guilty until proven innocent."' This clinches my point that Mr. Friedman cannot think straight when he talks about Muslims. Apparently, he does not realize that his proposal to deny visas to nearly a quarter of the world's population would seriously jeopardize globalization ­ his own pet project. Incidentally, this also raises another question. Why wasn't Mr. Friedman pushing his visa proposal after 9-11? But, in those heady days he was too busy peddling the war against Iraq as the panacea for the troubles of America and Israel.

What is Mr. Friedman's agenda in all this? No doubt, he will claim he is a man of peace: no less than George Bush or Ariel Sharon. We know that Mr. Friedman is no naïf; neither are we gullible fools. Mr. Friedman can sense that the history he tries so hard to camouflage ­ the history of Western domination over the Muslim world ­ may change before his eyes. He has been hoping that the United States can forestall this by wars, by occupying and re-making the Arab world, a second, deeper Balkanization of the Middle East that his neoconservative allies have been pushing under the rubric of democratization.

Already that project is in tatters. Despite all their inane rhetoric about fighting the terrorists in Baghdad, the policy makers in Washington know that their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are spawning more terrorists than they can handle, and not just in Iraq and Afghanistan. The terrorists have struck Western targets in Bali, Riyadh, Istanbul, Karachi, Madrid, and now London. The United States could have leveraged these terrorist acts to strike Iran or Syria or both. But these plans are now on hold. Even Mr. Friedman admits that "there is no obvious target to retaliate against." One has to add, the targets are obvious enough, but they look much harder after Iraq.

In desperation, Mr. Friedman has now issued two new threats. He is warning Muslims living in the West, 'If your coreligionists do not stop their terrorist attacks against us, we will hold you hostages here.' To the Muslims living outside the Western world his message is equally sanguine, "Smash the terrorists or forget about ever setting foot in the United States."

Perhaps, judging from the endless rush of visa applicants at US consulates in Muslim countries, Mr. Friedman thinks this will bring the Muslim masses to their senses. In every street, every neighborhood, Arabs, Pakistanis and Indonesians will form anti-terrorist vigilante groups, and hunt down the terrorists. If this works out, it could be the cleverest coup since the marketing of Coke and Pepsi to the hungry masses in the Third World.

Regrettably, the visa proposal will not work. The United States has already mobilized nearly every Muslim government ­ with their armies, police and secret services ­ to catch the Muslim terrorists. Not that the Musharrafs and Mubaraks have failed. Indeed, they have caught 'terrorists' by the truck loads, and dispatched many of them ex post haste to Washington.

In this enterprise, it is the United States that has failed. It has been producing terrorists much faster than the 'good Muslims' can catch them. Perhaps, after Madrid and London the rhetoric about fighting the terrorists in Baghdad is beginning to strain even the ears of the faithful in the red states. Perhaps, the faithful are now ready for a new tune. Perhaps, in time the Muslim world will take Mr. Friedman's advice, suppress terrorism, and deny business visas to Americans unless the United States pulls out its troops from every Muslim country.

After that Mr. Friedman might wish he had thought a little harder about the law of unintended consequences!
M. Shahid Alam, professor of economics at Northeastern University, is a regular contributor to CounterPunch.org. Some of his CounterPunch essays are now available in a book, Is There An Islamic Problem (Kuala Lumpur: The Other Press, 2004). He may be reached at alqalam02760@yahoo.com.



7) The action discussed here may not be as distant or abstract as sane people think, judging from Friedman's opinions:

ADC Action Alert:Congressman Tancredo Advocates Preemptive Nuclear Strike on
Mecca
http://capwiz.com/adc/issues/alert/?alertid=7849551&type=CU

July 18, 2005, Washington, DC - In a radio interview last Thursday, July 14, Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) advocated the United States preemptively strike Mecca with nuclear weapons.

The Colorado Congressman made his comments on the Pat Campbell Radio Show (AM 540, WFLA, online at: http://www.540wfla.com/patcampbell.html) in response to Campbell's statement that terrorists are seeking the means to attack the United States with a dirty bomb. Tancredo suggested that a preemptive attack on Mecca would be enough of a threat to make terrorists think twice about attacking the United States again. Listen to his comments
here:http://www.540wfla.com/timages/page/media/Tancredo_comments_071405.mp3

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is alarmed at Congressman Tancredo's comments advocating an attack on Mecca. It is irresponsible for a member of the United States Congress to advocate destroying the holy site of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims with a nuclear weapon. For good reason members of Congress and the Administration have expressed deep concern at the negative effects of hateful rhetoric directed against the United States in some elements of the Arab and Muslim worlds. But we must also be keenly aware of the damaging and irrational rhetoric against Arabs and Islam expressed by members of Congress, the Administration, and the media.

Statements by members of Congress, just like the legislation they pass, are closely followed around the world. Tancredo's remarks will be widely distributed by media outlets throughout the world and will be seen as representative of the views of the United States government. At a time when the United States is asking religious tolerance of others shouldn’t others expect the same from the United States?

This incident is all the more inexplicable as just last week, on July 14, Congressman Tancredo expressed extreme disapproval at a Chinese government official for his remarks regarding the use of nuclear weapons. Tancredo said "For a senior government official to exhibit such tremendous stupidity by making such a brazen threat is hardly characteristic of a modern nation." For more information, see:

http://tancredo.house.gov/pressers/0714TancredoSlamsSeniorChineseOfficialForNukeThreat2.htm

In a letter faxed to Congressman Tancredo today, former congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar, ADC President said, "While we must do all that we can to find terrorists and end their means to strike again, advocating for a nuclear attack against a holy place revered by the world's 1.2 billion followers of Islam is completely unacceptable and contrary to American values and tradition of freedom and tolerance of religion." Oakar said, "These remarks have no place in the United States Congress."

ADC demands Congressman Tancredo provide an immediate and public explanation for his remarks. We urge ADC members, supporters, and friends to contact the congressman and request a clarification and apology. Additionally, ADC asks members of Congress and the Bush Administration to denounce Congressman’s Tancredo’s comments and to clarify that dropping a nuclear bomb on Mecca is not part of the United States policy to win the war on terrorism.

Congressman Tancredo can be reached at:
Washington Office
1130 Longworth HOBWashington, DC 20515-0606Phone 202.225.7882FAX: 202-226-4623Website: http://tancredo.house.gov/

District Office6099 South Quebec St., Suite 200Centennial, Colorado 80111-4547Phone: 720-283-9772



8) This logic is reversible:

City Councilman ejected from studio.

T. Bubba Bechtol, part time City Councilman from Midland, TX, was asked on a local live radio talk show the other day just what he thought of the allegations of torture of the Iraqi prisoners. His reply prompted his ejection from the studio, but to thunderous applause from the audience.

"If hooking up an Iraqi prisoner's scrotum to a car's battery cables will save one American GI's life, then I have just two things to say":

1. "Red is positive"
2. "Black is negative



9) Juan Cole commentary:

www.juancole.com

Christian Terrorist Rudolph Sentenced

Notorious Christian terrorist Eric Rudolph was sentenced to two life terms on Monday. The one-time fugitive had carried out four bombings that terrorized the southeastern areas of the United States. Among his crimes were the blowing up of an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed a policeman, and a bombing of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.

As his sister-in-law made clear, Rudolph is driven by the ideology of the "Christian Identity" hate group. Terry Nichols of the Oklahoma City bombing was likewise connected to Christian identity and their "Elohim City".
What the Rightwing Press Will not Say :

Thomas Friedman will not write an op-ed for the New York Times about what is wrong with white southern Christian males that they keep producing these terrorists. He will also not ask why Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are not denouncing Eric Rudolph every day at the top of their lungs.

No reporter will interview frightened Iraqis about their fears at hearing that there are 138,000 armed Christians in their country belonging to the same faith as the bomber, Rudolph, some of them from his stomping grounds of Florida and North Carolina.

Daniel Pipes will not write a column for the New York Post suggesting that white southern Christians be put in internment camps until it can be determined why they keep producing terrorists and antisemites.
George W. Bush will not issue a statement that "Christianity is a religion of peace and we will not allow the Eric Rudolphs to hijack it for their murderous purposes."

Frank Gaffney will not write a column for the Washington Post castigating the Republican Party for appeasement in surrendering to the terrorist threats of radical Christians, by now opposing reproductive rights.

Max Boot will not point out that if the United States could only keep the Philippines in the early twentieth century by killing 400,000 Filipinos, than that was what needed to be done, and if the US can only beat back radical Christians by killing 400,000 of them, then that may just be necessary.

Pat Buchanan will not write a column blasting King George III for having promoted the illegal immigration into the American south of criminal elements, whose maladjusted descendants are still making trouble.



10) Ratzinger on the beat:

Read below, a letter written two years ago by then-Cardinal Ratzinger to a German author whose book condemns Harry Potter as anti-Christian.

The original letters in German are here:http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005_docs/ratzingerletter.pdf
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005_docs/ratzingerpermission.pdf

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Vatican City
March 7, 2003

Esteemed and dear Ms. Kuby!

Many thanks for your kind letter of February 20th and the informative book which you sent me in the same mail. It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly.

I would like to suggest that you write to Mr. Peter Fleedwood, (Pontifical Council of Culture, Piazza S. Calisto 16, I00153 Rome) directly and to send him your book.

Sincere Greetings and Blessings,
+ Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger


11) New Orleans ACLU Activist Featured:

http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/metro/index.ssf?/base/news-10/1121662735285640.xml



12) Marx voted top thinker:

Charlotte Higgins
Thursday July 14, 2005
Guardian

In a shock result, Karl Marx has been voted the greatest ever philosopher following a poll by Melvyn Bragg's Radio 4 show In Our Time. In the public's poll, which assessed 20 philosophers, Marx, author of the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, got 27.93% of the 30,000 votes. In second place came David Hume with 12.67%, followed by Ludwig Wittgenstein with 6.8%. Plato trailed in fifth place and Socrates at eighth.
Andrew Chitty, who, at Sussex University, teaches the UK's only MA in Marxist philosophy, said: "This shows that philosophy should take Marxism seriously. It is possible he won because Marxists organised a mass vote; they're much more organised than Hegelians, for instance.

"But I think it's more likely that people understand that in this increasingly capitalist world Marx gives us the best vision with which to understand that world. Marx talks about capital in a philosophical way - he's unique in that."



13) Here's a petition concerning Bush's named appointee to the Supreme Court. This petition drive would probably have happened no matter whom Bush named, but it's still useful to participate. I especially urge non-American readers to participate. If the US government doesn't like your government, it is not shy about interfering. Why should you be?:

In the past weeks, Republicans and Democrats have called on President Bush to nominate a moderate for the Supreme Court--someone who would honor the legacy of independent Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. But last night, President Bush nominated Judge John Roberts, a far-right lawyer and corporate lobbyist, to fill her post on the Supreme Court.

We've got to stop Roberts. He opposed clean air rules and worked to help coal companies strip-mine mountaintops. He worked with Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr), and tried to keep Congress from defending the Voting Rights Act. He wrote that Roe v. Wade should be "overruled," and as a lawyer argued (and won) the case that stopped some doctors from even discussing abortion.

Join our urgent petition to let our senators know we expect them to oppose John Roberts right now at:

http://political.moveon.org/roberts/?id=5817-774276 -8Nf.cDDI4JzQE6SfjIXMQg&t=3

This is one of the most important domestic fights of President Bush's career. We can win--Americans overwhelmingly want a moderate judge. But to win, we need to get the word out early that Roberts is out of the mainstream.

After you've signed, please send this message on to your friends and colleagues. We need to fight back against the misinformation that the Bush Administration is putting out.

John Roberts has little experience as a judge--he was only appointed in 2003. But he's got a lot of experience as a corporate lobbyist and lawyer, consistently favoring wealthy corporations over regular Americans.
Here's a list of some of the things that make Roberts the wrong pick for the Supreme Court:

* Wrong on environmental protection: Roberts appears to want to limit the scope of the Endangered Species Act, and in papers he wrote while in law school he supported far-right legal theories about "takings" which would make it almost impossible for the government to enforce most environmental legislation.

* Wrong on civil rights: Roberts worked to keep Congress from defending parts of the Voting Rights Act.

* Wrong on human rights: As a appeals court judge, Roberts ruled that the Geneva Convention doesn't apply to some prisoners of war.

* Wrong on our right to religious freedom: Roberts argued that schools should be able to impose religious speech on attendees.

* Wrong on women's rights: Roberts wrote that "Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled." He also weighed in on behalf of Operation Rescue, a violent anti-abortion group, in a federal case.
President Bush could have chosen many fair-minded and independent jurists to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. Instead, he chose a corporate partisan loved by Bush's right-wing base but out of step with the rest of the country.

Tell your senators they need to stop John Roberts now, at:

http://political.moveon.org/roberts/?id=5817-774276 -8Nf.cDDI4JzQE6SfjIXMQg&t=4
We'll be in touch soon about next steps. For now, please help us gather as many voices as possible to keep the Supreme Court fair. And thanks for everything you're doing.


14) Another petition about the US Supreme Court:

President Bush has made his choice for the Supreme Court: John G. Roberts, Jr., a federal appeals court judge for the District of Columbia. Now the Senate, keeping faith with its constitutional duty, must carefully and thoroughly review that choice. My Democratic colleagues and I pledge to do just that -- the importance of this moment demands no less.

The American people deserve a justice who understands and respects the views of all the people of this great nation. The Supreme Court belongs to all Americans, including the 49 percent who made a different choice for President. Now that a nominee has been chosen, the debate begins on whether Judge Roberts will be such a jurist. We all have a stake in this process -- and a responsibility to evaluate this nomination on the basis of the facts and the issues of vital importance to ordinary Americans everywhere.

Hearings will begin soon, so we have to use this time to prepare. This new justice will move and shape the Court for years -- and maybe for decades -- to come, with tremendous consequences for all Americans. Our country needs a justice who will unite Americans, not divide us. Sign the petition -- let the Senate know that we want a justice for all, not a rubber stamp.

http://www.democracyforamerica.com/norubberstamps

Supreme Court justices hold their jobs for life. Their rulings profoundly impact civil rights, employment laws, environmental safeguards and reproductive freedoms -- and resonate for generations. Given these stakes, every American has a duty to participate in this all-important debate. Do your part, sign the petition and pass it along to your friends, family, and colleagues to do so as well.

http://www.democracyforamerica.com/norubberstamps

I will continue to speak with you as the debate unfolds in the coming weeks.

Our country needs a justice who respects the values of everyone. By working together, the Senate -- and all Americans - can help ensure that any confirmed nominee meets that standard.

Thank you,
Patrick Leahy
Ranking Democratic Member,
Senate Judiciary Committee



15) Gitmo Interpreters Needed:
These are volunteer or minimally paid positions.....

The Center for Constitutional Rights is seeking foreign language interpreters to assist with litigation related to detainees at the Guantänamo Bay Naval Station. More information is below. Please contact attorney Shayana Kadidal at the Center for Constitutional Rights if you are interested or have questions, at (212) 614-6438 or kadidal@ccr-ny.org. For more information about CCR's work, please see our website at www.ccr-ny.org.
Please forward this to individuals and groups that you think might be interested.

As you know, many of the detainees at Guantanamo have been held for over three years without contact with the outside world, any charges, or the opportunity to challenge their indefinite detention. After a successful Supreme Court appeal in 2004, CCR has been coordinating a group of pro bono attorneys to provide legal support to individual detainees. Lawyers have begun to challenge the U.S. government to provide legal justification for the detention of individual detainees and the transfer of detainees from Guantänamo to other countries. At a more fundamental level, families of detainees are desperate for information about them, and the detainees themselves have been infinitely grateful for the contact with the world outside the base that comes when their lawyers visit. Those who volunteer to be interpreters would be providing a vital service in one of the great human rights causes of our time.

Many lawyers have received security clearances and are ready to meet with their clients, and are held back only by the small pool of interpreters currently available. As CCR's efforts have increased and gained greater attention, detainees and their family members have also sent unsolicited requests for support. We are in need of foreign language translators and interpreters (1) to travel to Guantänamo Bay to interpret conversations between lawyers and their clients, and potentially to foreign countries to meet with the families of detainees; and (2) to translate letters, documents, and other related communication within the United States.
LANGUAGES NEEDEDThe detainees come from dozens of countries-from Afghanistan to Zambia-and so we are in need of interpreters for a great variety of languages. In rough order of importance, the languages we need coverage for are:

* Arabic (both Modern Standard Arabic and local dialects, including Saudi, Yemeni, Moroccan, and Sudanese variants)
* Urdu
* Pashto
* Farsi
* Central Asian languages (Uighur, Uzbek, etc.).

It may be possible to communicate with some detainees in their second languages, so it would be useful for us to have available Italian and Russian interpreters as well.

INTERPRETERS FOR LEGAL TEAMS IN GUANTANAMO AND FOR FAMILIES ABROAD
We are primarily seeking United States citizens willing to work as foreign language interpreters for legal teams during their meetings with Guantänamo detainees. Interpreters would work directly for the many large and small law firms that are handling these individual cases. Interpreters and translators will have to acquire security clearance. This is a time-consuming process, which involves filling out an extensive form (federal form SF-86) which asks for extensive identifying information (SSN, DOB, past addresses, draft registration number, etc.), and asks many intrusive questions (including questions about past and present illegal drug use). You must be a U.S. citizen to receive clearance to visit Guantänamo at the present time.

Interpreters will have to be willing to endure the physical and psychological challenges of working in Guantänamo. Working conditions for visitors at the base are unpleasant, and the detainees' accounts have left an emotional impact on all who have heard them firsthand. Interpreters will be subject to the same rigorous protective order the lawyers on the case are subject to. For example, interpreters and lawyers are not allowed to make any notes on what they have heard outside of the base and a single special secure facility in Washington, DC. Any notes recorded in those locations are considered classified until cleared by the government. Although the lawyers will instruct you on all the rules, interpreters must be prepared to comply with these complex security procedures.

Visits to the base, even to see a single detainee, generally last for several days. At a minimum, interpreters would have to make a commitment to spend several days at the base, as most lawyers will spend two to three days interviewing each client. In addition, some legal teams have tried to meet with the detainees' families in their home countries prior to meeting the detainee (in order to form a basis for understanding the detainee and to make it easier to establish trust with him), and may need an interpreter's assistance for those visits as well. (Interpreters may also be needed for phone calls to family members as each case progresses.) Most firms will want to use the same interpreter for subsequent visits with the same detainee, in order to increase the level of familiarity and trust the detainee has with the legal team.

Individuals concerned about retaliation from the government should know that, to date, many Muslim and Arab interpreters are involved in the cases and none have faced negative consequences or harassment.

INTERPRETERS AND TRANSLATORS TO WORK ON UNCLASSIFIED MATERIALS
We also have a more limited need for interpreters and translators to work on unclassified materials. These individuals would not need to acquire clearance or be U.S. citizens. They would primarily help to translate documents received from detainees and their families by CCR and private firms taking on cases of Guantänamo detainees pro bono.

COMPENSATION
The law firms will in all cases pick up out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel to the base, meals and lodging. Some of the larger firms are capable of paying a salary to their interpreters. Others, especially smaller firms, cannot because they are already picking up significant expenses and taking on cases without compensation. It is therefore essential that we find some persons willing to act as interpreters for little or no pay.


16) Louisiana Prayer:
Louisiana Prayer

Bless this house, oh Lord, we cry.Please keep it cool in mid-July.Bless the walls where termites dine,While ants and roaches march in time.Bless our yard where spiders passFire ant castles in the grass.Bless the garage, a home to pleaseCarpenter beetles, ticks and fleas.Bless the love bugs, two by two,The gnats and mosquitoes that feed on you.Millions of creatures that fly or crawl, in LOUISIANA, Lord, you've put themall!!But this is home, and here we'll stay, So thank you Lord, for insect spray.

HOLD IT.......there's more.............

YOU KNOW YOU ARE IN LOUISIANA IN JULY WHEN. . . .The birds have to use potholders to pull worms out of the ground.The trees are whistling for the dogs.The best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.Hot water now comes out of both taps.You can make sun tea instantly.You learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.The temperature drops below 95 and you feel a little chilly.You discover that in July it only takes 2 fingers to steer your car.You discover that you can get sunburned through your car window.You actually burn your hand opening the car door.You break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 a.m.Your biggest bicycle wreck fear is, "What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?"You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.The potatoes cook underground, so all you have to do is pull one out and add butter, salt and pepper.Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying boiled eggs.The cows are giving evaporated milk.Ah, what a place to call home.God Bless Our State of LOUISIANA!!
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