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Vice President Cheney said in a statement that he had accepted the resignation (of I. Lewis Libby) with "deep regret...In our system of government an accused person is presumed innocent until a contrary finding is made by a jury after an opportunity to answer the charges and a full airing of the facts," the statement said. "Mr. Libby is entitled to that opportunity."
....Special Counsel Fitzgerald's investigation and ongoing legal proceedings are serious," Mr. Bush said this afternoon. "And now the process moves into a new phase. In our system each individual is presumed innocent and entitled to due process and a fair trial.
(Source: NY Times Oct 28, 2005 websitehttp://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/28/politics/28cnd-leak.html?hp&ex=1130558400&en=176c7a69a4ed8399&ei=5094&partner=homepage).
When it comes to Scooter Libby, their partner in crime, Bush and Cheney pontificate about "due process," the "presumption of innocence" and "our system of government." When it comes to Jose Padilla, an American citizen locked away in a dungeon solely at the command of George W. Bush, and declared guilty by the fiat of the Fourth Circuit Court without any due process whatsoever, there is a different law. As in ancient Babylon, we now have two laws: one for the rich and powerful (White House insiders) and another for the poor and disenfranchised (Jose Padilla).
Why is Libby entitled to a presumption of innocence which Jose Padilla is denied?
Oct. 28, 2005
by Michael A. Hoffman II
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, has demanded that "Israel be wiped out" and Tony Blair is rattling his war sabre. But what goes around, comes around, Tony. We have a US politician on record as saying Mecca should be nuked. Afghan and Iraqi civlians have been "wiped out" in record numbers due to massive US bombing. Earlier it was the schools, hospitals and apartment blocks of the city of Beirut that were heavily firebombed by Ariel Sharon in August of 1982.
More consistent are the statements and policy of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill toward the civilian population of Nazi Germany. Roosevelt declared that the whole German nation was involved in a conspiracy against civilization, and with that he authorized the indiscriminate saturation bombing of the civilian sectors of all German cities of any significance. Churchill made similar remarks and implemented similar policies through "Bomber Command."
Ahmadinejad follows the west's lead. The Iranians regard the Israelis as equivalent to Nazis. He reasons that if the West was justified in attempting to wipe out imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, why not apply the same standard to the Israelis?
He's totally wrong of course, but repudiating the Iranian president requires the complete repudiation of the mass murders perpetrated by those "great statesmen" Roosevelt and Churchill.
The Iranians have learned their lessons in history from western terrorists.
An Orwellian Lexicon (as used by the contemporary media)
Civilians murdered by Israelis = "bystanders"
Israeli censorship = "opacity"
Israeli assassination = "targeted killing"
Israeli apartheid wall = "security barrier"
October 26, 2005
When Bible translation was a matter of state security....
Hoffman's Note: What little attention the establishment media will give to this scandalous arrest of former Max Planck chemist Germar Scherrer ("Germar Rudolf") will be filed under the heading of "incitement to racial hatred." The media will not state the truth about this case: that Germar is being jailed solely because he has offended the New Inquisition by calling into question the legends and lies of official World War II history. Germar's "crime" is a thought crime; a kind of blaphemy. He is a competent and honest scientist who chemically analyzed Auschwitz's purported execution gas chambers and found that no one was killed there. "Racial hatred" has nothing to do with his laboratory research. "Race hater" is a convenient label to hang on Germar in order to preempt civil libertarian protests on his behalf, while shielding tyrants from exposure as censors and repressors of free speech and inquiry. Note bene: Germar's persecution is being handled by the highest levels of the Federal government as a matter of national security. This indicates how much the US government is in thrall to those who fear truth and scientific research. The Auschwitz homicidal gas chamber fraud can only be maintained by imprisoning dissenting scholars. You must not be allowed to hear or read these dissenters, otherwise sacred dogma will stand exposed, because it can only exist through the maintenance of an intellectual monopoly, with only one side of the issue allowed to propagate. As Commissar Deborah Lipstadt has ruled: there can be no debate! And her ruling is backed by the Department of Homeland Security!
Summary of Germar Rudolf's situation by Prof. Arthur R. Butz, October 22, 2005
Based on my telephone conversations with him from jail --this is, up to my abilities to transcribe accurately, his account, not mine. He wants it to propagate widely as an e-mail and web postings. On Oct. 19 Germar and his wife had a marriage interview at the Chicago office of the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service). It went well and ended with the INS certifying that their marriage was real. As they were about to leave, two officers of the INS appeared and claimed that Germar had been sent a letter instructing him to appear at their Chicago office for photographing and fingerprinting, and that he had not complied. Neither Germar nor his lawyer received such a letter, and they have still not been shown a copy of it. The failure to appear would not in itself, however have brought any drastic action; in fact, the INS had had him photographed and fingerprinted long ago at the FBI office in Huntsville. What exacerbated the situation was that recently the German government had made its second request for his extradition and some clerk at the INS, assuming the matter involved a real criminal case, flagged his file. I commented that that is the charitable interpretation. In any case, Germar was detained and sent to a jail about 50 miles from Chicago.
A 1960 law specified that marriage to a US citizen is a valid basis for an adjustment of status for somebody involved in deportation proceedings, even if the marriage takes place during the proceedings. However since 1999 the government has been trying to act as though the law does not exist and has succeeded in this to some extent, getting a favorable ruling in one federal circuit and adverse rulings in three others (a "circuit" is a geographical sub-division of the US, defined only for purposes of administration of federal law). The 11th circuit court in Atlanta, which has Germar's case, has not yet ruled on this legal issue. Normally such a situation results in the matter being appealed to the Supreme Court, which is there to resolve contradictory lower court decisions. However subjects in deportation cases have been poor people who could not begin to mount a challenge in the Supreme Court. That is why the government has not been challenged on this since 1999. The government knows that it would lose in the Supreme Court.
The 11th circuit court wants to hear this case to its conclusion but the highest levels of the executive branch in Washington, in the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, have now intervened and taken over the case from the INS. How the matter passed from an anonymous clerk at the INS to the highest levels of the executive branch is unknown. In view of developments this past week the court has, apparently only verbally, given the INS until Oct. 26 to file its arguments on why it should be allowed to take over Germar's case, presumably to deport him forthwith. Germar's lawyers then have until Nov. 2 to file his arguments. The court will probably rule later in November.
The November ruling will be on whether the court's process will remain in place, or the executive branch will take over. Therefore it appears likely that Germar will win in November, as the court has expressed a wish to follow this case all the way to its conclusion. Why would it rule that its own deliberations are unimportant or irrelevant? Assuming the November ruling is favorable, there is still likely a court hearing around January, which will decide two questions. First, is Germar entitled to political asylum? Second, if Germar is not entitled to political asylum, then is he entitled to an adjustment of status based on his marriage?
I commented on the question of publicity, which Germar is skeptical of but which I believe may be necessary to effectively raise funds in the US. He does not have any name recognition here. Above all, Germar and his lawyers do not want angry denunciation of the INS and/or government. Public demonstrations outside the INS or the court could be fatal.At present his business operation is shut down and it is not possible to buy books from his website. However the website is still functioning. Germar has arranged for certain others to take over some of the publishing and business operations if he is deported.The jail Germar is staying in is not an unpleasant place for a jail, and has an atmosphere resembling an army barracks. It has the lowest level of security and there are TV and games for the inmates' amusement, and books for their study. Food is decent. --Best regards, Arthur R. Butz
Hasidim fill Haifa author's home with mice over book on forbidden love
By Asaf Carmel | Haaretz (Israeli newspaper) October 20, 2005
Ultra-Orthodox extremists have been harassing a Haifa author ever since he wrote a romance novel revolving around an affair between religious and secular protagonists. This is the story of a boiler installer from Haifa who dedicated five years of his life to researching the extremist Toldot Aharon Hasidic sect, and ended up writing a romance novel.
The novel revolves around a story of the forbidden love between a young ultra-Orthodox woman and a secular man. Since the book has been published, its author, Menashe Darash, has known no peace. Ultra-Orthodox extremists, who were Darash's friends until not long ago, have decided to prevent the book from being released. Darash says he has been receiving harassing phone calls since he agreed at the end of last month to stop distributing the book and then retracted what he said was his coerced consent. And on Sunday, someone threw 50 mice into his living room.
Darash, married and a father of three, has been making a living for more than 20 years from a small boiler-installing business. He has difficulty explaining what made him decide five years ago to get inside the Toldot Aharon. "One day I installed a boiler in some building near Kiryat Vishnitz in Haifa, and from the roof of the building the entire neighborhood was spread out before me," said Darash. "That same day, in the evening, I saw a report on TV about a rally by the Toldot Aharon, and I saw that they're very different from the Haredim [ultra-Orthodox] I knew until then. Apparently it was the combination of these two things that did it." Darash began reading everything he could find about the Hasidim who wear striped robes, and made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim. "I put a black skullcap on my head and I landed right in a study hall," he said. Despite his foreignness, Darash, a secular Jew whose parents immigrated from Iraq, was welcomed by the closed Ashkenazi Hasidic group. "I met a very old man and won him over," said Darash. "Through him I met his whole large family, the children and the grandchildren, and they introduced me to the Hasidic stream. The truth is that in the beginning it was a little strange and they asked if I was a journalist, but I explained to them that all I wanted was to collect material for my son's school project. I went to Mea Shearim at least once a month, I bought books, and each time I returned armed with more knowledge."
A few months after Darash started his journeys to Jerusalem, he decided to write a book. He was influenced by a book called "The Daughter of the Rebbelach," which describes Tami Hindele, a pretty ultra-Orthodox woman who tries and fails to overcome her love for a secular man. Darash said several Hasidim knew the kind of book he was writing. "Some told me that the Hasidism would not let it go quietly," he said. "I thought that at most there would be some complaints and curses and the story would be over." The book, which Darash and his wife self-published, was printed in Jerusalem and somehow made its way to Mea Shearim.
Asher Barak, an attorney who represents the Hasidim opposed to the book, said Darash misled them."He received information fraudulently," said Barak. "Their community hosted him, and he presented himself as someone who wanted to become religious. He put in the book all kinds of details that he acquired, such as a document that Toldot Aharon gives to its youths before they get married. This isn't something they tend to talk about in public."
Barak said his clients' greatest concern is that "youths from the community could become interested in the book, and its content could corrupt them. The romance at the core of the book is something that would not be considered in this community."
On September 28 Barak and two Hasidim came to Darash's house and asked him not to distribute the book anywhere; Darash refused, and they left. The next day Barak called to offer a compromise, whereby Darash would be compensated for keeping the book under wraps. Darash and his wife got scared, and that evening Barak and two Hasidim came for an hours-long visit.
"They told me their rabbi would die if he knew the story, that I damaged thousands of children," said Darash. "Later they said, `We're the moderate ones, and it's worthwhile for you to deal with us. We're not responsible for what the radical ones will do.'"
The two parties decided that the Hasidim would pay Darash NIS 50,000 in compensation and that he would delete all references to Hasidism. He also said he would give the Hasidim all copies of the book and show them the amended version at a later date in order to get their approval for its publication. At 3:30 A.M., Darash said, he signed the papers they gave him without reading them. "I just wanted them to leave already," he said.
Israeli novelist Sami Michael, a neighbor of Darash's, witnessed part of the scene. "His daughter was crying, his wife had run upstairs, they told him to turn off the TV and he sat on the side chain-smoking," said Michael.
"I told the attorney and the rabbis right away, as the president of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and as an experienced author, that any agreement made under these conditions is invalid from the start," Michael stated.
The next day Darash said he discovered that the agreement he had made verbally was not reflected in the document he had signed. When he told the Hasidim that he would send them the copies of the book only after the agreement was altered, he began receiving harassing phone calls, he says. One person called and said, "If you don't kill the book, you'll be killed," Darash said. Barak (attorney for the Hasidim) said there was no evidence that Toldot Aharon was involved in the calls.
The case is now at a crossroads, said one of Darash's lawyers: The next step could be legal proceedings or a mutually agreed solution. "Yes, I'm prepared to compromise," said Darash. "But only out of fear."
TILLAWI. Mordechai Vanunu has spent 18 years in an Israeli jail for telling Israeli nuclear secrets. He was lured to Rome by Israeli agents and kidnapped and then sent back to Israel where he spent 18 years in prison and 11 of those years in solitary confinement. Mordechai,what was it that you really felt that you must tell the world about, what was it about the Israeli nuclear program that you felt to yourself, 'you know I cannot continue like this, I cannot remain silent on this, I have got to tell the world about it.' What was it?
VANUNU Well, the most important point is that it was the same situation that we have right now, namely that these people continue to lie and to cheat the world as well as their own citizens by denying the truth, by declaring that they do not have atomic weapons while at the same time I was working there helping to produce them. At that time there were more than 200 atomic weapons, in 1986, and it was at that time that they started to produce the most horrible of all weapons, the hydrogen bomb, all of this in secret, in lying and in cheating the world and all of its citizens. So I said to myself 'It is impossible to keep these secrets. I must report about them and to try and stop it.'
TILLAWI Mordechai, there are a lot of nations that have nuclear weapons. What is it about Israel having them that makes you so nervous?
VANUNU Because Israel wants to use them, to cause genocide and holocaust on other innocent citizens. It has always been a part of Israel's secret policy. And also by having them, Israel will use them as a threat to avoid making peace with the Arab world as well as imposing her policies on those peoples. As long as she has them, she will continue on in her policies of not making peace, of occupation and of neglecting the Palestinian suffering caused by the refugee camps that have existed for more than 50 years.
TILLAWI One of the Israeli professors said a few months ago that 'we have the nuclear capability of hitting every major European city,' is that true to your knowledge?
VANUNU Yes, it is true. They can bombard any city all over the world, and not only those in Europe but also those in the United States, and by this threat what they are doing is to send a secret message to any leader and to any government that they have the ability to use them aggressively and to blackmail them, to blackmail Europe and the United States, every where, in every state around the world. It was Europe and the United States who helped them get this power, and now that Israel has it, she is coming back and saying to them 'We will not obey any orders that you give us. No international law, no international agreement, no UN resolutions,' and all because of these atomic weapons that they have.
TILLAWI Where do you live now Mordechai?
VANUNU Since my release in 2004 I am not allowed to leave the country, all this after serving 18 years. So I decided that I wanted to be someplace where I will not see the ugliness of Jewish society, so I decided to stay in East Jerusalem among Palestinians and among foreigners. Right now I am staying in the guesthouse of St. George's Cathedral, the Anglican Church. I cannot leave Israel, so I am living amongst the Palestinians and under Israeli occupation, because East Jerusalem is part of the occupation since 1967.
TILLAWI You also have converted from Judaism to Christianity...According to some people, you betrayed Israel and in their eyes you are considered a traitor, but that is not what I want to ask you about. What I do want to ask you is this: What is the process that went through your head twice in your life? One of them is when you decided to expose the nuclear capability of Israel, your own country, and the other one which is also profound was when you changed your religion to Christianity. Now, those two things are profound and I do not think that there are too many people in the world who have two major shifts in their lives like these. What made Mordechai Vanunu betray his country and then change his religion?
VANUNU Yes, this is a very good question and very important. You are right, it is not usual to have a person come to these hard conclusions. As far as my conversion, it started at the very early age of 15 or 16. I was raised in the Jewish religion and in a Jewish family. Israel and Judaism were considered as one nation, one big family, one tribe. I began criticizing and rejecting Judaism over the point of view that these Jews are teaching injustice through their Judaism. In the same way that Jesus Christ also criticized Judaism 2,000 years ago, I was unwilling to accept what they teach, and later converted to the opposite of Judaism. The Jewish tribe teaches that there is only one Chosen people of God. They teach of their superiority, taking literally word-by-word the writings in the old bible. And I decided therefore that after 2,000 years these ideas were nonsense. There are 6 billion people around the world, and all of them are equal, all are part of the human race. There is no such thing as a super race. We should all respect and love each other, and that was the beginning of my rejecting Judaism and my accepting of Christianity, of following the teachings of Jesus Christ and of accepting humanity. I am not a religious man, I am not going to become a priest. I did all of this for my humanity and for my beliefs. So, I chose my own way and began criticizing the Jewish faith. Those who teach Judaism run the lives of those under them, telling them what they must do every hour of every day, issuing many orders about everything, from waking up in the morning to going to sleep, but at the same time they do not teach them to respect other human beings, to accept non-Jews and to believe that non-Jews are like them. They teach that only the Jews are the chosen people. So, this is Judaism, a collection of primitive traditions thousands of years old that have not changed. The world has changed in the last 2,000 years and the Jewish people need to accept and understand this change, and especially if they want a democratic country. You cannot have a state and run it as they did 2,000 years ago. They came to Palestine in the name of the Bible and in the name of their god and took this land that was promised to them thousands of years ago. In the name of this god, they took the land, expelled the people and gave them hard, cruel, barbaric lives for the last 60 years. This way of thinking, this faith cannot exist within this new age, and it was this that also led me to expose Israel's nuclear secrets.
TILLAWI Mordechai, you have been living amongst the Palestinians for a while now. What do you think, are they the terrorists that we have all been hearing about?
VANUNU I have been living amongst the Palestinians now for 15 months, but I have been following the Palestinian situation now since the 1980's. Now I am here living among them, watching them, meeting with them, eating with them, enjoying life with them and seeing how the Israelis have succeeded in portraying them all over the world as terrorists. But this is not true. They are very peaceful people and lovers of peace.
TILLAWI What do you think should happen? How do you think that this conflict should be settled?
VANUNU Well, if the Jewish people want a solution, it can happen only by one way, and this is by accepting the Palestinians and by treating them as equal human beings. If the Israelis want peace, then the proof that you want peace is by respecting the people of the other side and seeing them as equals. The Jews must stop seeing themselves as being part of a master race. The only solution is one state, one society where everyone has equal rights and have the same rights in all categories. If the Jews have the right of return based on what happened 2,000 years ago, then the Palestinians have the right of return after 50 years as well. With one state, there will be no more conflict over land and there will be no more enemies. Israel will then not need atomic weapons because she will learn to live in peace with her neighbors instead of trying to live as a racist supremacist state. The Israelis are not willing to accept this though because they want a Jewish state. Therefore, a secular, non-religious state is the only solution.
TILLAWI. What do you think of the Gaza withdrawal?
VANUNU The Gaza withdrawal was nothing but a big piece of propaganda trying to show how the Jews were being forced off their land. Of course, what they do not say is the fact that this land was Palestinian land and that it was taken from them by force. So the Zionists used this for brainwashing the people in the United States into thinking about Jewish suffering. But secretly the plan is to use this as a way of isolating 1.4 million Palestinians. The demographic issue is very strong in the mind of the Jewish people and so what they want to do is to eventually move all the Palestinian people into this very small area. All the while, the Sharon government continues to build more settlements in the West Bank.
TILLAWI Back in 1999, 35 members of Congress wrote a letter to President Clinton a concerning you. His response to that letter was "I share with you your concern over Vanunu's plight and over Israel's nuclear program. We have repeatedly urged Israel to adhere to the treaty and to accept comprehensive international atomic energy safeguards and inspections." To your knowledge, have the Israeli nuclear sites ever been inspected by an international nuclear agency?
VANUNU No, it has never opened its program to international inspections.
TILLAWI So, why are we after Iran then to open its doors to inspections, but no one is asking Israel to do the same? Why is that?
VANUNU This is a very strange situation that has been developed and accepted by the Western states since the 1960's. It goes back about 40 years. My view is that Europe and America are and have been under a long-term agenda of blackmail by the Israelis. In the first case, the Israelis constantly bring up the Holocaust and what happened to the Jews during WWII, blaming the West for it and then using this as the justification for possessing nuclear weapons as a way of preventing this from ever happening again.
TILLAWI. Mordechai, do you know how many Atomic Weapons they possess?
VANUNU At the time that I first revealed Israel's nuclear weapons program, they had more than 200 atomic weapons and were able to produce every year about 40 kilograms of plutonium. This amount can be used in making 10 atomic weapons each year. What that means is that since 1986 they were able to make another 200.
TILLAWI Now, what is your situation? You have a trial coming up soon?
VANUNU My situation now is that they have renewed my restrictions for the 2nd year. I cannot leave the country and I cannot speak to foreigners. I am not allowed to speak to you, but I continue to give interviews, so they came and arrested me on November 11 2004 and questioned me and now have put me in a trial. It began a few weeks ago and will continue on through next year. They are accusing me of giving interviews to foreign media. I also am not allowed to go into the occupied territories, so I cannot go into Bethlehem. That is the situation now. I am facing trial and am under restrictions.
Complete transcript of the interview: http://www.currentissues.tv/VanunuTranscript.html
The Reporter at the Heart of the Karl Rove Investigation--
New York Times Reporter is Ever Loyal to Her Masters in Military Intelligence
By Norman Solomon October 17, 2005 counterpunch.org
More than any other New York Times reporter, Judith Miller took the lead with stories claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Now, a few years later, she's facing heightened scrutiny in the aftermath of a pair of articles that appeared in the Times on Sunday, October 16, 2005 -- a lengthy investigative piece about Miller plus her own first-person account of how she got entangled in the case of the Bush administration's "outing" of Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. It now seems that Miller functioned with more accountability to U.S. military intelligence officials than to New York Times editors. Most of the way through her article, Miller slipped in this sentence:
"During the Iraq war, the Pentagon had given me clearance to see secret information as part of my assignment 'embedded' with a special military unit hunting for unconventional weapons."
And, according to the same article, she ultimately told the grand jury that during a July 8, 2003, meeting with the vice president's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, "I might have expressed frustration to Mr. Libby that I was not permitted to discuss with editors some of the more sensitive information about Iraq."
Let's replay that one again in slow motion. Judith Miller is a reporter for the New York Times. After the invasion, on assignment to cover a U.S. military unit as it searches for WMDs in Iraq, she's given "clearance" by the Pentagon "to see secret information" -- which she "was not permitted to discuss" with Times editors. There's nothing wrong with this picture if Judith Miller is an intelligence operative for the U.S. government. But if she's supposed to be a journalist, this is a preposterous situation -- and the fact that the New York Times has tolerated it tells us a lot about that newspaper. Notably, the front-page story about Miller in the Times on Sunday bypassed Miller's "clearance" status and merely reported: "In the spring of 2003, Ms. Miller returned from covering the war in Iraq, where she had been embedded with an American military team searching unsuccessfully for evidence of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons."
In effect, during the propaganda buildup for the invasion of Iraq, while Miller was the paper's lead reporter on weapons of mass destruction, the New York Times news department served as a key asset of the warfare state.
"WMD -- I got it totally wrong," the Times quoted Miller as saying in a Friday interview. "The analysts, the experts and the journalists who covered them -- we were all wrong. If your sources are wrong, you are wrong."
But analysts, experts and journalists were not "all wrong." Some very experienced weapons inspectors -- including Mohamed ElBaradei, Hans Blix and Scott Ritter -- challenged key assertions from the White House. Well before the invasion, many other analysts also disputed various aspects of the U.S. government's claims about WMDs in Iraq. (For examples, see archived news releases put out by my colleagues at the Institute for Public Accuracy <www.accuracy.org> in 2002 and early 2003.) Meanwhile journalists at some British newspapers, including the Independent and the Guardian, raised tough questions that were virtually ignored by mainstream U.S. reporters in the Washington press corps.
Reporters select sources -- and the unnamed ones that Miller chose to rely on, like the Pentagon's pet Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi, were predictably eager to spin tales about WMDs in order to fuel momentum for an invasion. Yet the official line at the New York Times has been that its news department was fooled with the rest of the media best.
On May 26, 2004 -- more than a year after the invasion of Iraq -- the Times published a belated semi-mea-culpa article by two top editors, including executive editor Bill Keller. The piece contended that the Times, along with policy makers in Washington, were victims rather than perpetrators: "Administration officials now acknowledge that they sometimes fell for misinformation from these exile sources. So did many news organizations -- in particular, this one."
But the Times did not "fall for misinformation" as much as jump for it. The newspaper eagerly helped the administration portray deceptions as facts. The carnage set loose by those deceptions is continuing every day. But the Times' extensive October 16 coverage of its own machinations, with Judith Miller at the center of the intrigue, had nothing to say about the human consequences in Iraq. In elite medialand, the careers of journalists at the New York Times loom large. In contrast, the lives of American soldiers -- and especially the lives of Iraqis -- are more like abstractions while the breathless accounts of press palace intrigues unfold.
The apex of the Times hierarchy has provided no indication of personal remorse or institutional accountability. And the next time agenda-setting for U.S. military action -- against Iran or Syria or wherever -- shifts into high gear, it's very unlikely that the New York Times or other top-tier U.S. media outlets will present major roadblocks.
On June 14, 2003, shortly before he was promoted to the job of executive editor at the New York Times, the newspaper published an essay by Bill Keller that explained why the U.S. government should strive to improve the quality of its intelligence. "The truth is that the information-gathering machine designed to guide our leaders in matters of war and peace shows signs of being corrupted," he wrote. "To my mind, this is a worrisome problem, but not because it invalidates the war we won. It is a problem because it weakens us for the wars we still face."
New York Times, October 20, 2005
WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 - The Pentagon announced Wednesday night that the Army had started a criminal investigation into allegations that American soldiers in Afghanistan had burned the bodies of two dead Taliban fighters and then used the charred and smoking corpses in a propaganda campaign against the insurgents.
The events were shown on an Australian television program, broadcast there on Wednesday night, depicting what is described as an American psychological operations team broadcasting taunts over a loudspeaker toward a village thought to be harboring Taliban fighters and sympathizers, according to a transcript of the program. It was posted on the Web site of the Special Broadcasting Service, http://news.sbs.com.au/dateline/. An American soldier, an Afghan soldier, and two Taliban had just been killed in fighting there, the transcript of the program said.
According to the program's translation of the taunts, which were delivered in the local language by American forces on the scene, a soldier identified as Sgt. Jim Baker, said: "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burned. You are too scared to come down and retrieve the bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be."
After news agencies reported the broadcast, the Pentagon said such acts were forbidden and began the criminal investigation.
Several senior officials said preliminary indications suggested that the video and the program's translation were accurate, and that the incident posed the potential to do further harm in the Islamic world to the image of the United States, already badly tarnished by the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. The reference to the bodies "facing west" appeared to be a deliberate mocking of the Islamic requirement to face Mecca during prayers. The Muslim faith prohibits cremation and holds respect of the body of the dead as a central tenet.
The American soldiers told a freelance photojournalist who recorded the incident that they burned the bodies for hygienic reasons, he said in an interview in the studios of the SBS program "Dateline." But human rights organizations said Wednesday that burning bodies was an act of desecration in the Islamic faith and a violation of the Geneva Conventions. A statement issued by the Central Command said "desecration, abuse or inappropriate treatment of enemy combatants" were never condoned and that they would violate United States policy "as well as the Geneva Convention."
"This command takes all allegations of misconduct or inappropriate behavior seriously," Maj. Gen. Jason K. Kamiya, the American commander of daily tactical operations in Afghanistan, said in a separate statement issued by the Central Command. "If the allegation is substantiated, the appropriate course of action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and corrective action will be taken." General Kamiya continued, "This command does not condone the mistreatment of enemy combatants or the desecration of their religious and cultural beliefs."
In the past, allegations of disrespect for Islam by American forces have sparked heated and even violent reactions in the Muslim world. Pentagon and Bush administration officials said Wednesday night they were trying to determine details of the incident, which the program said happened earlier this month in Gonbaz, a village in southern Afghanistan about 60 miles from the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.
"Really bad news," said an administration official who follows Afghan issues closely. "This is very serious," a senior military official said. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the pending investigation.The program's video was taken by Stephen Dupont, a freelance Australian photojournalist who was embedded in the American unit to document its operations. Mr. Dupont's photographs from the region have been widely published. In a separate interview posted on the network's Web site on Wednesday, Mr. Dupont said soldiers from an unidentified airborne unit appeared to believe they were doing the right thing in laying the corpses of the two dead Taliban toward Mecca, and then setting them on fire.The video shows flames swirling around two charred corpses, their legs and arms outstretched, and a group of five American soldiers watching from a rocky ledge. A spokesman for Mr. Dupont, Robert Pledge, said Wednesday night that the incident took place on Oct. 1, and involved soldiers from the First Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Mr. Dupont said the first group of soldiers told him, "We've been told to burn the bodies; the bodies have been here for 24 hours and they're starting to stink so, for hygiene reasons, this is what we've got to do." But then Mr. Dupont said a second group of soldiers from a psychological operations unit intentionally used the burnt bodies as a propaganda tool. "They deliberately wanted to incite that much anger from the Taliban so the Taliban could attack them," Mr. Dupont said.
In the program, Sergeant Baker's taunt is heard first. Then a second soldier, who was not identified, chimes in singling out several mullahs by name: "Your time in Afghanistan is short. You attack and run away like women. You call yourself Talibs but you are a disgrace to the Muslim religion and you bring shame upon your family. Come and fight like men instead of the cowardly dogs you are."
In the interview with the producers, Mr. Dupont explained that the American soldiers had been trying to bait the Taliban fighters to shoot at them. "They want the Taliban to fight them because they can't find them otherwise."
By Walter Williams
October 19, 2005
President Bush informed the nation, during a press conference, that he might seek to use the U.S. military to quarantine parts of the nation should there be a serious outbreak of the deadly avian flu that has killed millions of chickens and 60-some people in Southeast Asia. That's the second time Bush has expressed a desire to use the military for local policing. The first was in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C. 1385) generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the U.S. National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the U.S. Constitution or Congress.
Enacted during Reconstruction, the purpose of the Posse Comitatus Act was to severely limit the powers of the federal government to use the military for local law enforcement. Would Americans tolerate such a gigantic leap in the federalization of law enforcement? I'm guessing the answer is yes. In the name of safety, we've undergone decades of softening up to accept just about any government edict that our predecessors would have found offensive. Let's look at some of it.
The anti-smoking movement might be the beginning of the softening up process. They started out calling for reasonable actions like no-smoking sections on airplanes. Then it progressed to no smoking on airplanes altogether, then private establishments such as restaurants and businesses. Emboldened by the timidity of smokers, in some jurisdictions there are ordinances banning smoking in outdoor places such as beaches and parks.
Then there are seatbelt and helmet laws that have sometimes been zealously enforced through the use of night vision goggles. On top of this, Americans accept government edicts on where your child may ride in your car. Americans sheepishly accepted all sorts of Transportation Security Administration nonsense. In the name of security, we've allowed fingernail clippers, eyeglass screwdrivers and toy soldiers to be taken from us prior to boarding a plane.
We've accepted federal intrusion in our financial privacy through the Bank Secrecy Act. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, says, "More than 99.999 percent of those [who] had their privacy invaded were law-abiding citizens going about their own personal financial business." Most recently, there's the U.S. Supreme Court Kelo decision, where the court held that local governments can take a private person's house and turn it over to another private person. Politicians have learned and become comfortable with the fact that today's Americans will docilely accept just about any legalized restraint on their behavior.
You say, "Hey, Williams, but it's the law!" In the late-1700s, the British Parliament enacted the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts, and imposed other grievances that are enumerated in our Declaration of Independence. I'm happy that we didn't have today's Americans around at the time to bow before King George III and say, "It's the law." Respectful of the Posse Comitatus Act, President Bush has suggested that he'll ask Congress to amend the law to allow for the use of the U.S. military to enforce regional quarantines. Whether Congress amends the law or not, Bush has no constitutional authority to deploy military troops across the land. Why?
The U.S. Constitution's Article IV, Section 4 reads, "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence." Coupled with the Tenth Amendment, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people," this means short of an insurrection, the U.S. military must be invited by a state legislature or executive. Any federal law that violates these constitutional provisions is null and void and can only be enforced through fear, intimidation and brute military force.
Dr. Walter E. Williams is the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
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