Saturday, November 26, 2005

An Innocent Man in the Hell of Guantanamo / VIDEO SPECIAL: School of the Americas Protest / More from t r u t h o u t

An Innocent Man in the Hell of Guantanamo

Sara Daniel interviews a Pakistani journalist who was wrongfully imprisoned for over two years, then puts his case in the context of the "gulag of our era."

VIDEO SPECIAL | School of the Americas Protest
A Film by Rebecca MacNeice

Rebecca MacNeice reports from the 16th annual School of the Americas protest at Fort Benning, GA. 20,000 people participated in the protest, including 41 who were arrested. The protesters focused their attention on the School because of its involvement in the training of many Central American military officers who went on to commit human rights abuses.

Padilla Dirty Bomb Evidence Extracted by Torture

The Bush administration decided not to charge Jose Padilla with planning to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a US city because the evidence against him was extracted using torture on members of al-Qaida, it was claimed yesterday.

Bush Faces Dual Challenges on Iraq

As he leads a fierce campaign this month to rebut criticism of the Iraq war, President Bush faces twin challenges - one of them rooted in history, the other in the political realities of the moment.

Stuart Heady | One Small Thanksgiving Story

Alan Pogue and Cole Miller comprise most of No More Victims, an organization that saves one child at a time from the fate of living with untreated war wounds. Why only one child at a time? Because that is one better than none.

The About-Face of a Hawkish Democrat

Of all the Democrats calling for an end to the Iraq war, Rep. John P. Murtha is an anomaly. He's no liberal, like his House colleagues Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio) and Maxine Waters (Calif.). He's certainly the only one to call Vice President Cheney a friend. It's hard to imagine any other Democrat causing such a stir. Republicans privately acknowledge that Murtha is a worrisome opponent because he can hardly be portrayed as a liberal of the Michael Moore stripe.

Jeremy Scahill | Bush Wanted al Jazeera Gone

Jeremy Scahill: Given Washington's record of attacking al Jazeera both militarily and verbally, it is not outside the realm of possibility that the Bush administration could have simply decided that it was time to take them out. What is needed now is for a British newspaper or magazine to publish the memo for all the world to see and if they face legal action, they should be backed up by every major media organization in the world. If true, Bush's threat is a bold confirmation of what many journalists already believe: the Bush administration views us all as enemy combatants.

Kremlin Pushes Measure to Curb Private Groups

Russia moved Wednesday to impose greater government control over charities and other private organizations, including some of the world's most prominent, in a move aimed at restricting foreign support for political activity in the country.

John Pilger | The News Revolution Has Begun

The Indian writer Vandana Shiva has called for an "insurrection of subjugated knowledge." John Pilger writes that the insurrection is well under way. In trying to make sense of a dangerous world, millions of people are turning away from the traditional sources of news and information and toward the world wide web, convinced that mainstream journalism is the voice of rampant power.

Doubts Grow over US Afghan Strategy

It is four years since the fall of the Taliban regime. The United States has spent billions of dollars on its operations in Afghanistan - but what does it have to show for it?

Political Donations, Bribery Reach Level of Criminal Misconduct

Court documents filed by prosecutors lay out an extensive conspiracy in which Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Abramoff, identified in the documents only as Lobbyist A, sought to defraud clients - mainly Indian tribes with gambling interests - and win legislative help from lawmakers in exchange for campaign donations, trips, dinners, greens fees and jobs.

Jonathan Schell | The Fall of the One-Party Empire

Jonathan Schell writes that the most critical question has been whether American democracy, severely eroded but still breathing, would bring down the Republican machine, or whether the Republican machine - call it the budding one-party global empire - would bring down American democracy. This week, it looks as if democracy, after years of decline, has gained the upper hand.

Max J. Castro | Republican Budget Bill Savages the Poor

Max J. Castro writes, "They are at it again. Anyone who hoped that the images of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, which made the extent of squalor in America visible and dramatized the life-and-death consequences of inequality, would stir the conscience of our ruling party was wrong. Dead wrong."

In Mississippi, Time Now Stands Still

No new houses are framed out. No lots cleared. There is just devastation and a lingering stench and a tent city in which hundreds of residents huddle against the first chill of winter and wonder where they'll find the money to rebuild their lives.

Sidney Blumenthal | The Long March of Dick Cheney

Sidney Blumenthal writes that for Dick Chaney's entire career, he sought untrammeled power. The Bush presidency and 9/11 finally gave it to him - and he's not about to give it up.

Cindy Sheehan Back in Crawford with Message for George

"George, my family is spending our 2nd Thanksgiving without Casey, thanks to you and your lies. I am spending the day crying on a plane on my way to Crawford to again ask you for a meeting." - Cindy Sheehan

"Sheehan's Stand" Monument Unveiled in Crawford

Anti-war demonstrators, back in Crawford to protest during President Bush's holiday vacation, unveiled a stone monument Friday with the words "Sheehan's Stand" in honor of the woman who inspired their efforts.

Welcome to t r u t h o u t video podcasting!

What is video podcasting? By using iTunes you will be able to subscribe to our podcasts, and when we post a new video your iTunes will automatically download it and have it ready to play the next time you launch your iTunes studio. For those with the latest iPods that support video you can load our video content onto your iPod as well and view it anytime. Video podcasting is the latest advancement from Apple Computers, but you can enjoy it from a Windows PC as well. Just go to and download iTunes 6. You don't need an iPod to view our podcasts - your iTunes will play the video right on your computer.

Once you have iTunes set up and ready to go, subscribe to our podcasts at and we will provide you with our latest video content.

"We Want to Be French", from Open Democracy

“We want to be French!”
Henri Astier
22 - 11 - 2005

The French youth riots were motivated not by ethnicity or religion, but by a hunger for inclusion in the national community as equal citizens, reports Henri Astier from the Paris, Lille, and Lyon banlieues.

Nadir Dendoune never thought he belonged in France until he left the country. "The best way to feel French with a face like mine is to go abroad”, he says. In the mid-1990s the son of Algerian immigrants left St Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, to spend a few years in Australia. "I became French there. When you are foreign it is easy for people to forget the colour of your skin. I told Australians I was from Paris and was an instant hit." Nobody cared about Dendoune's appearance: he was associated with the “city of light”, Dior and champagne. Everyone loved his accent. He got girls – and jobs.

Nadir Dendoune’s quest for Frenchness is shared by most ethnic Arabs and Africans stuck in France's grim banlieues. During a reporting trip around those high-rise wastelands just before they erupted in the last week of October, I realised that they were not hotbeds of separatism – or communautarisme – as they are often portrayed in France. The deafening message I got from nearly everyone I spoke to was: "I was born French. Why am I not accepted as such?"

Also in openDemocracy on France’s weeks of rage:

Patrice de Beer, “Paris in flames: the limits of repression“

Patrice de Beer, “The message in France’s explosion”

Alana Lentin, “The intifada of the banlieues”

"The kids I work with would love to feel French, but they are made to feel different", says Samia Amara, a youth worker in Gennevilliers near Paris. Some, to be sure, react by looking for an identity in the African land of their forebears. “They don’t know who they are”, says Farid Khelifi, a teacher in Villeurbanne, an immigrant suburb of Lyon. “They are told they are French but they are not given the same rights as others. So they turn their backs on France." Most, however, do not.

Especially among the young who have not experienced the difficulty of fitting in, the default setting is positive. Malek, a 17-year-old student from St Denis, believes he can make it as an accountant. "My name and the place I come from count against me”, he admits. “But I will try to take advantage of every opportunity." Malek's friend Omar, 18, wants to be in sales: “I will have to work harder than others but I will pull through.”

Kadour, from Lyon, is ambitious too. At 20, he is already putting money aside towards starting his own business. "I’m not likely to get a loan from the bank: when you have a brown skin in France you can only rely on yourself to make it."

Those in their 20s and 30s are convinced that the system is stacked against them. But their complaint only underscores their yearning to join society. "With a name like mine I can't have a sales job", Sadek, a 31-year-old from St Denis. A look at the staff in any French store or restaurant suggests he is not being paranoid. Sadek says he was told not to bother applying for a temp job at the post office: the manager had made clear she wanted whites only. Almost everyone in the banlieues has similar stories.

And if low-skill jobs are hard to get for those viewed as "immigrants", skilled employment appears beyond reach, even for those with degrees. "People prefer whites", says Yazid Sabeg, the only Arab head of a big French company. "A CV from someone called Mohammed will go straight in the bin", he adds.

Official statistics lend credence to this claim. Unemployment among university graduates of north African origin stands at 25% – against 5% for graduates of French origin. Overall unemployment among all people of north African origin is 15%, and 9.2% for whites: in other words higher education makes an Arab less likely to have a job.

Racism may not be the whole story. Girls of African or north African origin do much better than boys. And immigrants in the 1950s-60s had no difficulty finding work in France. A significant force working to marginalise the country's "visible minorities", as Sabeg calls them, is a dysfunctional labour market. Stringent rules protecting workers make employers reluctant to create permanent positions. They prefer hiring temp staff – or better still no one. With legions of desperate applicants competing for every job, those who do not quite fit the bill are bound to get the worst ones, if they get any.

France’s urban and social policy has been under intense scrutiny since the riots of October-November 2005 exploded. How has this policy evolved in the last thirty years, what initiatives have been undertaken and reversed, how successful or otherwise have they been?

Two of the most useful, informative articles on these questions are by Henri Astier of the BBC and Alain Woodrow of the Tablet:

Henri Astier, “France’s city policy in tatters” (BBC, 7 November 2005)

Alain Woodrow, “The French ideal goes up in flames” (Tablet, 12 November 2005)

This leads to a vicious circle of underachievement and despondency, with many kids opting out of a pointless education. "At school they tell us: study hard and you will get a good job. But this is a lie", says Hassan, 26. "No wonder kids drop out. They know that in the end they will get a lousy job."

The road to belonging

The anger felt by Hassan and countless others fuelled the three weeks of rioting that began on 27 October. No one – especially among the peaceful majority in the suburbs whose cars and schools were torched – is arguing that violence is a legitimate way to express grievances. What is beyond question is that the rioting was not an affirmation of a distinct identity.

There was no ethnic component to the protests. Very few in the suburbs are saying: black (or brown) is beautiful. Their message is the exact opposite: neither the colour of our skins nor our names should make us less than fully French.

Neither were the riots prompted by religion. True, many urban youths in define themselves as Muslims, in a way that they did not ten or fifteen years ago. It is also correct that the 2004 ban on the wearing of the headscarf in public schools – more accurately, the "law on religious signs" (for the display of Christian as well as Muslim signifiers were prohibited) – still rankles. But this sense of religious grievance was not in evidence during the unrest. There was no intifada. Muslim leaders and virtually all the mosques appealed for calm.

More fundamentally, very few French Muslims challenge the separation of church and state. Mohammed Elhajjioui, a youth in Lille, says the ban negates the original, tolerant spirit of French-style secularism – whose centenary is marked in 2005 and which guarantees religious freedom. Before 2004, courts had upheld the right of girls to wear headscarves in schools. "They had to create a new law to ban them", Elhajjioui points out.

The banlieues may be seething with anger, but that anger has nothing to do with a desire to be recognised as separate. Separateness is endured with resentment, not proclaimed with pride. The violence did not express a rejection of French ideals, but frustration at the fact that those ideals are not being put into practice. "

If you find this material valuable please consider supporting openDemocracy by sending us a donation so that we can continue our work for democratic dialogue"

opendemocracy.netThis article originally appeared on under a Creative Commons licence. To view the original article, please click here.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Fair Vote Canada Election 2006 Needs 1000 Democracy Activists

Election 2006


Dear Friends:

What is the chance the upcoming federal election results will be wildly distorted? That millions of votes will be wasted? That we’ll see yet another record low turnout?

Close to 100 per cent.

What are the odds we can leverage the election results to help win the fight for fair voting and proportional representation?

Best in our lifetime – if you can lend a hand to the Fair Vote Canada campaign.

Two months ago, the Martin Liberal government scuttled an all-party committee agreement to begin a nationwide electoral reform consultation. But the post-election environment may be radically different – if the voices calling for electoral reform grow louder and louder.

If the upcoming election produces another minority Parliament, then an electoral reform process may very well be the centerpiece of a support agreement. If the election produces a phony majority and one party gains unfettered control of Parliament with 40 per cent of the vote or even less, look for a backlash and skyrocketing pressure for reform.

The key for us is to keep the issue of fair voting and proportional representation in front of politicians and the media to reach the largest possible audience throughout the upcoming election.

During the last federal election Fair Vote Canada mobilized an unprecedented national network of volunteers to do just that, and we made a serious impression. It’s time to do it again – but bigger, better, and louder.

We need your help!

Can you volunteer to help Fair Vote Canada with JUST ONE of the following tasks during the upcoming election? Or more, if you have time? You don’t need to be an expert – just a concerned citizen.

1) distribute flyers and ask a question to candidates at an all-candidates meeting;

2) distribute flyers at local conferences, forums or other public events during the election; or in your neighbourhood, community centres, local libraries, etc.;

3) write letters to the editor of your local papers during the election;

4) place an article (provided by Fair Vote Canada) in an organization or association newsletter; or submit an article (prepared by Fair Vote Canada) to your local community paper

5) call radio or TV phone-in shows during the election to talk about the need for voting reform;

6) get some of your friends to help with these tasks, and/or

7) send in a special donation to help fund our campaign activities.

Fair Vote Canada is a national multi-partisan citizens’ campaign. If we raise our voices together we can make a difference.

Can we count on your support? Can you also forward this appeal to your friends and contacts? If you can help in any way, please reply to this email:

Please provide your name, mailing address, phone and email. Tell us how you can help. You’ll become part of our election campaign action network. We’ll send the support materials you need and regular updates on the campaign during the election.

Let’s make this the last unfair election!

Yours for a strong democracy,

Wayne Smith


Fair Vote Canada
26 Maryland Blvd.
Toronto, ON M4C 5C9

Phone: 416-410-4034
Fax: 416-686-4929


** I strongly urge ALL CANADIANS to reply to this important message!! -- Annamarie

URGENT: Your Support is Needed to Counter Missile Defence Lobbyists

This is an urgent email which I received today. Due to its urgency, I've posted it here to provide important information, and ask all Canadian readers for your URGENT SUPPORT of this extremely serious issue:

" Steven Staples, Polaris Institute and founder of

Thursday, November 24, 2005

I have urgent news for you. I’ve put everything aside to send you this letter right now.

This week the corporate and defence lobbies launched their campaign to bring back missile defence for the upcoming federal election.

They are paving the way for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to include joining Bush’s Star Wars program in their platform.

Former Canadian Ambassador to the United States Derek H. Burney told a government committee this week that Canada should contact the Bush administration and “signal our willingness to re-engage on Ballistic Missile Defence.”

His comments were carried on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen and in other news media.

I think we need to form an Election Rapid Response strategy right away to counter any push by the corporate and defence lobbies, or by the Conservative Party, to restart missile defence talks.

That’s why I am writing you today – we need your support in a very critical way. Please consider making a special contribution to our Election Rapid Response strategy by visiting Make your donation now.

There is evidence that the Conservative Party is preparing to make missile defence part of its platform. Earlier this month at a conference in Ottawa on “deep integration” with the United States, Conservative Party trade critic Ted Menzies said he thought Canada should restart missile defence talks as a way to get the Americans moving on softwood lumber (Derek H. Burney was the moderator of the panel).

Derek H. Burney is leading this Star Wars campaign. He is an influential corporate lobbyist for Tom d’Aquino’s CEO group, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. He’s also the former CEO of Canada’s largest defence contractor, CAE Inc., which is helping to build the missile defence system. But he is best known as a chief architect of the Free Trade Agreement when he was Brian Mulroney’s Chief of Staff.

Clearly, this is all part of a well–orchestrated and well-funded campaign to get Canada to join missile defence and achieve even further military integration with the United States.

Burney’s presentation to the government committee was on behalf of the Calgary-based defence lobby group, the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI).

The CDFAI receives funding from weapons corporations, including General Dynamics, the fifth largest defence contractor in the United States. The CDFAI also receives funding from Tom d’Aquino’s Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

We need to act now to ensure that our victory on missile defence holds firm and to push Canada away from Bush’s war machine – but I need your support. I ask that you consider making a special election campaign gift right now. Make your donation now.

Here is my three-point plan for the upcoming election:

We will organize an Election Rapid Response Team of experts and activists. This team will monitor the election and speak directly to journalists, candidates, and especially voters about the dangers of Canadian involvement in missile defence and U.S. war fighting.

We will produce information flyers and talking points for citizens to take to candidates meetings and to distribute to their organizations.

We will use our newly redesigned web site,, so that people can press the political parties to make commitments against missile defence, and to promote Canada’s role in promoting international peace and security – especially through UN peacekeeping.

But we won’t be able to do this work without your support. We need $10,000 to pay for new research, conference calls, press releases, and information flyers for voters. Please visit and make your donation right away.

I will report back on any developments and keep you informed about the campaign.

Thank you so much for your commitment to Canada’s real security.


Steve Staples

Polaris Institute

and founder of

Donations by mail and inquiries may be directed to:

Polaris Institute

Attn. Karen Craine , Program Assistant

180 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa ON K2P 1P5 Canada

Tel. 613 237-1717 Fax 613 237-3359

The Polaris Institute is a public interest research organization federally incorporated as a not-for-profit organization with Industry Canada under the Canada Corporations Act. Unfortunately, donations to the Polaris Institute are not tax deductible.


Maude Barlow and Climate Change Events


Tue Nov 29
7:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Maude Barlow will be speaking on her new book, Too Close for Comfort: Canada's Future Within Fortress North America, about the impacts of Canada's relationship with the U.S. , defence and trade policies with those of George Bush's America. Maude Barlow is the national chairperson of The Council of Canadians, Canada's largest public interest advocacy group. She has recently been awarded the Right Livelihood Award, which is known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. Her latest book is Too Close for Comfort: Canada's Future Within Fortress North America. She is currently on an 18-city tour across Canada speaking about the issues in her book and promoting the Council of Canadians' campaign to stop further continental integration with the United States. Her book is timely and provides critical information on Canada's future.

Location: The First Unitarian Church of Hamilton, 170 Dundurn Street South Hamilton, ON L8P 4K3
Sponsor: Hamilton Chapter: Council of Canadians
Contact Info: John Shymko
905 544 6868

Thur Dec 1
7:00 PM
The forum coincides with the UN Climate Change Negotiations in Montreal (November 28-December 9), the most important international climate negotiation to date. Groups across the globe are taking action against climate change. Please join McMaster in becoming aware of key issues as Brian McCarry, Chair of Clean Air Hamilton and Chair of the Chemistry Department at McMaster speaks on some of the impacts of climate change. Don McLean, Chair of Friends of Red Hill Valley and an active volunteer with CATCH, will speak about local climate change difficulties and solutions.

Location: room 1A1 of the Health Sciences Building at McMaster University, Hamilton
Sponsor: MACgreen and OPRIG
Contact Info: Sam Green

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Price of Freedom / VIDEO: The Power of Nightmares / Fallujah Video Clips / More Headlines from ICH

Today's exceptional headlines, quotes and awesome VIDEO: "The Power of Nightmares", plus the shockingly disturbing Video clips from Fallujah are thanks to the diligent, painstaking work of Tom Feeley of Information Clearing House. Be sure to check his site for daily news from around the globe. Sign up for his email newsletter, and read this newsletter in its entirety on the website, which is updated regularly. Also, please remember to help support this valiant work by your donations, to assist in covering web hosting costs. This wonderful news information site does not receive any funds from corporations or ads, so these expenses are entirely covered by Tom and by readers' contributions.

"Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grand-children are once more slaves.": D. H. Lawrence - (1885-1938)
Liberty can not be preserved without general knowledge among people." (August 1765) John Adams
"We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.": Edward R. Murrow - (1908-1965), American Broadcast Newsman

I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations: James Madison

The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of limitations of government power, not the increase of it. -- Woodrow Wilson, in a speech in New York City, September 9, 1912

** To read this newsletter online, click here


Number Of Iraqi civilians Slaughtered In Bush's War 100,000 +

Number of U.S. Military Personnel Slaughtered In Bush's War 2104


The Power of Nightmares -

I am still having a problem with part 3 of this program. I am working on it an hope to have it online within the next 24 hours.

THIS IS A MUST WATCH DOCUMENTARY! (I've watched it, and it is really an awesome, shocking eye-opener, something you won't see elsewhere, and definitely not anywhere in the US MSM! Thanks to Tom's hard work, now you can see it here! --- Annamarie)

Each program is 58 minutes long - - Real Video - If you only have time to watch one program then please watch part III

Part I
Part II
Part III


Press Freedom or Freedom to Bomb the Press?

The Bush Plan to Bomb Al-Jazeera

By Stephen Soldz

Wars are always dirty. Those engaged in war seldom admit the truth about the brutal means they are using. Those conducting an unpopular occupation are tempted to use all possible means to suppress those who resist occupation.
Read full article

The Price of Freedom

By Timothy J. Freeman

Those who have taken our freedom for granted and have not dared to question authority and think for themselves, those who allowed this nation to be led blindly over the cliff and into the abyss of this unnecessary and unjust war, have not paid the price of freedom.
Read full article

Happy Thanksgiving, Jose Padilla

By Stephen F. Rohde t r u t h o u t | Letter

I'm sure you are thankful for the day in 2003 when the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the government had no authority to hold you, an American citizen, as an "enemy combatant," despite the fact that you still had to remain in that Navy brig as your case was appealed to the US Supreme Court.
Read full story

Bush set to pull out 60,000 troops:

Growing political and public aversion to the war in Iraq is forcing the President’s hand
Read full article

U.S. Signals 2006 troop pullback:

U.S. military officials are eyeing plans to withdraw more than 60,000 troops from Iraq by the end of 2006 amid growing pressure from Americans for an end to the war and rising anxiety among Republican lawmakers seeking re-election.
Read full article

Classified Pentagon Document Described White Phosphorus As ‘Chemical Weapon’ :

A formerly classified 1995 Pentagon intelligence document titled “Possible Use of Phosphorous Chemical” describes the use of white phosphorus by Saddam Hussein on Kurdish fighters:
Read full article

** Video Clips From Fallujah:** [SHOCKINGLY DISTURBING**]

Three Who See the War Clearly:

The three faced the choice of defying Pelosi (and, in McKinney’s case, the CBC leadership’s similar attempts to put forward a face of unity without purpose) or to take advantage of the only chance available since October, 2002 to express an unqualified NO to the Iraq war.
Read full article

UK Vows to Prosecute Editors Over Al-Jazeera Report:

British newspapers Wednesday, November 23, accused their government of threatening to prosecute them if they published a leaked document claiming US President George W. Bush threatened to bomb the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera.
Read full article

Qatar shock at al-Jazeera bombing report:

Qataris, including senior officials, reacted with shock on Wednesday to newspaper reports in Britain suggesting that George W Bush, the US president, had discussed bombing the Doha headquarters of the Arabic satellite TV channel al-Jazeera.
Read full story

Wife To Sue U.S.:

THE widow of an al-Jazeera journalist killed in Iraq by an American attack is considering suing the US Government.
Read full article

Cash transfer to Kurds raises questions about Bremer era :

Kurdistan officials say the secret, lastminute shipment of cash highlighted the sometimes questionable handling of billions of dollars by the United States during the 14 months Bremer ran Iraq.
Read full article

White House 'double-crossed' Blair, says Plame husband:

Tony Blair was "doubled crossed" by US President George W Bush's aides in the run-up to the Iraq war, according to the former diplomat at the centre of a political crisis engulfing the White House.
Read full article

Why Tony Blair must be forced to face a public inquiry into the Iraq war :

Catherine Green, whose pilot brother, Philip, was a British casualty, explains why she backs today's High Court action pressing for an independent investigation into the conflict
Read full story

Romania Base Focus of Secret Prison Probe :

There's not an American in sight, but the sprawling Soviet-era facility has become a key focus of a European investigation into allegations the CIA operated secret prisons where suspected terrorists were interrogated.
Read full story

CIA illegal landings to be investigated:

The CIA planes have been spotted at airports in Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden, raising questions whether they are being used to convey suspects subjected to extra-judicial detention and torture.
Read full story

Tenn. Office Linked to CIA Renditions:

The law office of Douglas R. Beaty sits in a small business park near the city's more prosperous suburbs. Nothing on the front door says anything about the CIA or airplanes.
Read rest of story

CIA 'may have flown prisoners across Austria' :

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) may have flown detained terrorist suspects across neutral Austrian airspace in 2003, said a newspaper report on Wednesday.
Read rest of article

Doubts grow over US Afghan strategy :

It is four years since the fall of the Taleban regime. The United States has spent billions of dollars on its operations in Afghanistan - but what does it have to show for it?
Read full article

Pakistan earthquake:

A tragedy the world forgot : Six weeks after the massive earthquake that devastated parts of Pakistan, the United Nations and relief agencies are racing against time to avert a horrendous, avoidable humanitarian tragedy.
Read full article

Information Clearing House

Canadian Refugee Claimant Faces Death if Deported

The Canadian government is acting in a Bush-like manner in this case. I have not heard valid reasons why Mr. Fuad al-Mansuri should be deported back to Libya, where he faces a "death sentence", Mr. al-Mansuri disclosed. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Joe Volpe has not responded to questions about this case, and so far, no reasons were given as to why al-Mansuri's refugee claim was refused, after having lived and worked in Canada for seven years. They have two Canadian-born children, and had just lost one little son to a fatal illness.

MP Joe Comartin (NDP--Windsor-Tecumseh) and Amnesty International Canada are the only ones looking into this case, and both have grave concerns. The Liberals, as usual, are too wrapped-up in red-tape -- and with the upcoming election -- to pay much attention. Meanwhile this tragedy will unfold, the al-Mansuri family will be uprooted, and they will suffer further injustices, unendurable pain, and possibly more death for this already devastated family.

Those of you readers here who care, please write, call, and let your voices be heard!! Fuad al-Mansuri has been ordered to report to Immigration officials at Pearson International Airport on December 12th! Urgent action is needed to stop this unjust, immoral deportation! Please do whatever you are able! We must not allow Canada to become like the U.S.! Canada espouses 'human rights' and humane treatment, but lip-service is meaningless without appropriate actions to follow it up. --- Annamarie

Mr. Joe Volpe, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration:

Trail Daily Times
Thursday » November 24 » 2005

Death awaits, man fears
Don Lajoie
Windsor Star

Thursday, November 24, 2005

CREDIT: Dan Janisse, Star photo
Nuria Ben Amer, wife of Fuad al-Mansuri, weeps as she discusses the death of her one-year-old son and the looming deportation of her husband. Amer also faces deportation. The couple has lived in Canada for seven years. See Photo

" Two weeks after burying his infant son, a refugee claimant who has lived seven years in Canada says he faces a "death sentence" if he is deported to Libya next month.

Fuad al-Mansuri, 46, of Windsor, has been ordered to report to the Canadian Immigration Centre at Pearson Airport in Toronto Dec. 12 and to hand in his social insurance identification, his OHIP card and his driver's licence before boarding a flight for Tripoli.

Al-Mansuri said the deportation order came days after he buried one-year-old Hisham, who died Nov. 11 from an immunodeficiency disorder.

The boy, who was being treated at London Children's Hospital, died amid efforts by al-Mansuri, his wife and MP Joe Comartin (NDP--Windsor-Tecumseh) to bring one of the child's siblings from Libya for a bone marrow donation.

That effort became bound in the red tape and procedural wrangling with Immigration Canada surrounding Al-Mansuri's bid for asylum.

Comartin called the government's treatment of the family "disgusting."

"This family has gone through hell.... Yet the minister runs around this country saying all he's doing for newcomers."

Al-Mansuri, a former Libyan soldier who works as a welder, is the sole support for his family. His wife, Nuria Ben Amer, was unable to work while she cared for her sick child. She also faces deportation.

The future of their Canadian children, aged four and five, is unclear, though they have the right to remain in Canada. The family also has two children, aged 11 and 15, living with relatives in Libya.

"I can't believe I must leave my child buried in a country I will never see again," said Ben Amer. "We only want to live like anyone else. We did our best to come here because Canada is supposed to care and respect human rights. We want only to have a future, to be left alone."

Comartin said no proof of wrongdoing by al-Mansuri has ever been provided by immigration officials, yet the government seeks to deny the family a future in a country where he has a home and hopes to reunite his family and get them into Canadian schools.

Calls to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Joe Volpe weren't returned.

According to a pre-removal risk assessment issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, al-Mansuri's refugee application was rejected in August after it was determined he would not be in danger of torture, death or "cruel and unusual treatment" if he were deported to Libya.

But Gloria Nafziger, refugee co-ordinator for Amnesty International in Toronto, said the human rights organization has concerns about the fate of failed refugee applicants.

She said that as recently as 2002, asylum seekers tracked by the rights group have "disappeared" after they were returned to the North African desert nation ruled by strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

More recently, the group has determined not all returned refugees are "detained" or held in secret but, at the very least, are kept under surveillance.

One man, who lived in the U.K. for 25 years, was returned to Libya and immediately detained, she said. The family has not heard from him since.

"Asylum seekers could be put at risk if returned to Libya," she said. "There's certainly a history there.... We continue to have serious concerns about their human rights."

Al-Mansuri will not reveal details of his refugee claim, saying disclosure may put family remaining in Libya in danger and place him at further risk upon his return.

He will say only there were orders in the military that he could not follow and he decided to "escape."

Al-Mansuri and his wife came to Canada in 1999 on visitors' visas, travelling through Tunisia.

John Haidar, a board member with Windsor's Arab Canadian Intercultural Orientation Centre, said al-Mansuri has been a good citizen since coming to Windsor.

He is "a workaholic," active in his community and his mosque.

"This needs attention," Haidar said. "He has been without his (Libyan) children for seven years."

© The Windsor Star 2005

Iraq Dispatches: Life Goes On in Fallujah's Rubble

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website **
** Website by **

Life Goes On in Fallujah's Rubble

Inter Press Service
Dahr Jamail

SAN FRANCISCO, California, Nov 23 (IPS)
- A year after the U.S.- led "Operation Phantom Fury" damaged or destroyed 36,000 homes, 60 schools and 65 mosques in Fallujah, Iraq, residents inside the city continue to suffer from lack of compensation, slow reconstruction and high rates of illness.

The Study Centre for Human Rights and Democracy based in Fallujah (SCHRD) estimates the number of people killed in the city during the U.S.-led operation in October and November 2004 at 4,000 to 6,000, most of them civilians. Mass graves were dug on the outskirts of the city for thousands of the bodies.

Last week, the Pentagon confirmed that it had used white phosphorus, a chemical that bursts into flame upon contact with air, inside Fallujah as an "incendiary weapon" against insurgents. Washington denies that it is a chemical weapon, as charged by some critics, and that it was used against civilians.

Compensation payments promised by Iyad Allawi, the U.S.-backed interim prime minister at the time of the operation, have failed to materialise for many residents in the city, who lack potable water and suffer electricity cuts on a daily basis.

"People were paid almost 20 percent of what they were promised by Allawi, which was just 100 million dollars," said Mohamad Tareq al-Deraji, a resident of Fallujah and spokesperson for the city's governing council.

According to Deraji, who is also a biologist and co-director of the SCHRD, Iraq's current prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, had agreed to continue with the second and third compensation payments to people inside Fallujah who had suffered the loss of a loved one or damaged property during the fighting, after he was pressured by the U.S. embassy.

"But now he [Jaafari] has stopped the payments," Deraji told IPS. "So now there is no payment to the people and we all continue to suffer."

This month, U.S. Marine Col. David Berger, who is commander of the 8th Regimental Combat Team and responsible for Fallujah, told reporters, "[Fallujah's residents] don't see any progress, they don't see any action. They hear a lot of words, a lot of promises, but not a lot of product."

Deraji estimates that up to 150,000 of the 350,000 residents of Fallujah continue to live as internally displaced persons due to the lack of compensation, and therefore, lack of reconstruction.

Reports from inside the city indicate that residents are increasingly angry at the situation.

"When I was recently in Fallujah, I didn't see any reconstruction," said Rana Aiouby, a freelance journalist from Baghdad. "Some of the people are rebuilding their own houses, but I'm still finding people outside Fallujah who are refugees from the April attack on the city."

Aiouby, who has been in Fallujah many times, said that she was finally allowed to visit the Shuhada district this past April, after having been previously barred from the area by U.S. forces.

"This is the poorest district of Falluah and where there was some of the worst destruction," she added. "It was at least 95 percent destroyed." Both Deraji and Aiouby said that the power supply is erratic, and that random bursts of fighting continued on an almost daily basis. As recently as Nov. 16, the U.S. military confirmed that a Marine was killed by a car bomb in Karmah, a small city near Fallujah.

"So many schools are either destroyed or occupied by the Americans even now," Abu Mohammed, a resident of Fallujah, told IPS in a telephone interview. "Our children are either going to school in tents or staying at home because we are too afraid to have them outside."

Abu Mohammed, a carpenter and 30-year-old father of five, said that countless residents were sick from drinking dirty tap water. Others were falling ill from the lack of electricity coupled with cold nighttime temperatures that sink as low as 10 degrees Celsius now that winter has arrived in Iraq.

Deraji agreed, saying there were "many new diseases, especially cancers with children and with people who stayed in Falluah during the assault". He told IPS, "Maybe they took big doses from radiation and pollution inside the city during that time, so we have so many medical problems now."

This is complicated by the fact that hospitals in the city are not at full operating capacity.

"Some reconstruction is going on with our hospitals," added Deraji, "But it is very slow and the government is taking some of the money themselves that we've had for it."

Mohammed Khadem, a 55 year-old engineer in Fallujah, expressed frustration at the tight military checkpoints in the city. "With retina scans and fingerprinting still being carried out by the U.S. military at times in order to issue bar-coded identification badges for certain residents, lines waiting to get into the city are quite long," he said.

During a phone call from inside Fallujah, Khadem told IPS that security remained a large problem and fighting occurred "nearly every day at times".

Deraji, speaking for the SCHRD, complained that the "Americans are not letting our police reestablish themselves. They've only allowed 200 Iraqi police to be established from inside Fallujah and this is not enough."

According to the SCHRD and other NGOs operating in Fallujah, a sore spot for residents in the city are members of the Iraqi Army who are with U.S. soldiers.

With Fallujah being primarily Sunni and members of the Shia Badr Organisation militia and Kurdish Peshmerga militia comprising most of the Iraqi Army in Fallujah, reports of humiliating and brutal treatment of residents are common. "Now there are many Iraqi Army men with the Americans and this is a big problem because they are always shooting and taking people as detainees," said Deraji. "They are acting like cowboys in films."

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media . Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.

More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at

Al-Jazeera Probes Bush 'Bombing Memo'

This is Aljazeera's response to the previous article

Aljazeera says it is looking into a report in Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper alleging that US President George Bush planned to bomb the broadcaster's TV station.

Original Article from Al-Jazeera

"In a statement on Tuesday, Aljazeera said it "maintains a set of journalistic practices built on being fair, impartial, and balanced, and as is the standard practice with every story, Aljazeera is going through a due diligence process of verifying the details of the Daily Mirror report".

It added: "Before making any conclusions Aljazeera needs to be absolutely sure regarding the authenticity of the memo and would hope for a confirmation from Downing Street as soon as possible.

"If the report is correct then this would be both shocking and worrisome not only to Aljazeera but to media organisations across the world."

'Serious doubts'

The station added that if the leaked memo was authentic, "it would cast serious doubts in regard to the US administration's version of previous incidents involving Aljazeera's journalists and offices.

"It would also constitute a new chapter in the relationship between two of the most powerful governments in the world and media organisations in general.

"We sincerely urge both the White House and Downing Street to challenge the Daily Mirror report and in the event that the memo is found to be accurate it would be incumbent on them to explain their positions on statements regarding the deliberate targeting of journalists and news organisations," Aljazeera said.

In April 2003, an Aljazeera journalist died when its Baghdad office was struck during a US bombing campaign.

In November 2001, Aljazeera's office in Kabul, Afghanistan, was destroyed by a US missile, although no staff were in the office at the time.

US officials said they believed the target was a "terrorist" site and did not know it was Aljazeera's office. "

Britain Gags Report that Bush Targeted Arab TV

Many un-embedded, independent journalists have known for a long time that the U.S. had targeted Al-Jazeera. The United States has twice attacked Al-Jazeera offices. No one was hurt in the Kabul attack in 2002, while a journalist was killed the following year in Baghdad. The British Daily Mirror story referred to Bush's comments about attacking Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar.

Accusations had also been made in the past that U.S. forces have deliberately targeted foreign and independent journalists. In light of the suppression of this new 'alleged leak' of a government memo, these accusations show more validity. Indeed, more journalists have been killed in Iraq than in Vietnam. The Bush administration stops at nothing to silence those who valiantly report events as they happen, and not their spin versions. There must be a full investigation by Downing Street, the Bush administraton and the world community into this latest report -- and into all the other reports and accusations by journalists against the U.S. -- and if they are found to be valid, those who issued the commands must face criminal charges.

I wonder if the U.S. mainstream media has picked up this story yet, or -- in their neutered state -- are too cowardly to even show any indignation at the deaths of their fellow comrades...

November 24, 2005

The British government has responded sharply to the alleged leak of a government memo that said U.S. President George W. Bush had thought about bombing the Arab satellite TV network Al-Jazeera.

Europe to probe CIA detention centres
The Council of Europe has said it is opening a probe into mounting reports that US intelligence used European airports to transit suspected terrorists held secretly outside US territory. The pan-European body's Secretary-General, Terry Davis, on Wednesday announced "a formal inquiry into recent reports suggesting that terrorist suspects may have been secretly detained in or transported through a number of... member states with the possible involvement of foreign agencies".
Full Story

Austria joins inquiry into CIA flights
A CIA plane allegedly carrying suspected terrorist captives flew through Austria's airspace in 2003, the air force said, as the country joined a flurry of investigations stretching from Scandinavia to Spain. Europe's top human rights watchdog on Wednesday intensified its investigation into alleged secret CIA detention centres and covert flights, with Council of Europe chief Terry Davis urging European countries to provide full information on the issue.
Full Story
EU rejects US tactics on UN reforms
The European Union has rejected a proposal by US Ambassador John Bolton to delay adoption of a two-year UN budget until key reforms are approved by the 191-member General Assembly. In a rare public disagreement with the United States, British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry told reporters on Wednesday that the 25 EU members did not believe in linking the budget to reform issues and jeopardising UN operations. "We are not in favour of holding any individual items or the budget hostage to other issues, but we do say very clearly that by the end of this year we need clarity and a determination to tackle a better management for the United Nations," said Jones Parry, whose country holds the current EU presidency.
Full Story

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tomgram: Jonathan Schell, Welcome to Camp Quagmire

On the cusp of that most American of holidays, Jonathan Schell offers us a "tour" of the American empire -- the global Pax Americana that wasn't -- and asks a simple question: Where exactly are the monuments of that empire? If it is now threatened with collapse, what exactly did it build?

I was Schell's editor on his book The Unconquerable World (published in the spring of 2003), and so, well before the Bush adminstration invaded Iraq, I had no doubt that our attempt to occupy an oil-rich land in the heart of the Middle East was bound to fail disastrously. No one who read Schell's exploration of the last three centuries of organized violence (and the hesitant birth of non-violent possibilities on our planet) could have assumed less. He and I often discussed the nature of the American empire and even exchanged letters on the subject at Tomdispatch back in early 2004 (Jonathan Schell on the empire that fell as it rose). For his latest Nation magazine "Letter from Ground Zero" -- which the editors of that publication have been kind enough to let Tomdispatch post -- I can't think of a better introduction than some eerily prophetic passages from The Unconquerable World. (Then, when you've also read his latest Nation column, take a brief whirl with me past various American imperial ziggurats and ruins.) While assessing the Bush administration's urge for global domination and its belief in what he had already dubbed "disarmament wars" meant to stop nuclear proliferation on the planet, Schell wrote:

"Even if we suppose that the United States will complete the transition from a republic to an empire, there are powerful reasons to believe that it will fail to realize its global ambitions, whether idealistic or self-interested. Any imperial plan in the twenty-first century tilts against what have so far proved to be the two most powerful forces of the modern age: the spread of scientific knowledge and the resolve of peoples to reject foreign rule and take charge of their own destinies. If the history of the last two centuries is a guide, neither can be bombed out of existence…

"It's difficult to believe that the passion for self determination will be any easier to suppress than the spread of destructive technology… Historically, imperial rule has rested on three kinds of domination -- military, economic, and political. The United States enjoys unequivocal superiority in only one of these domains -- the military, and here only in the conventional sphere…

"Most important, in the political arena, the United States is weak, precisely because in the contemporary world military force no longer translates easily into political rule. ‘Covenants, without the sword, are but words,' Hobbes said. Since then, the world has learned that swords without covenants are but empty bloodshed. The Romans in ancient times were able to convert military victories into lasting political power. The United States today cannot. In the political arena, the lesson of the world revolt -- that winning military victories may sometimes be easy but building political institutions in foreign lands is hard, often impossible -- still obtains. The nation so keenly interested in ‘regime change' has small interest in ‘nation-building' and less capacity to carry it out. The United States is mistrusted, often hated, around the world. If it embarks on a plan of imperial domination, it will be hated still more. Can cruise missiles build nations? Does power still flow from the barrel of a gun -- or from a B-2 bomber? Can the world in the twenty-first century really be ruled from 35,000 feet? Modern peoples have the will to resist and the means to do so. Imperialism without politics is a naive imperialism. In our time, force can win a battle or two but politics is destiny."

Now set out to tour the failed imperium with Jonathan Schell as your guide. Tom

The Fall of the One-Party Empire
By Jonathan Schell

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Tomgram: Judith Coburn on the Return of Watergate

The recent revelations about the man often seen as the "moral hero" of the Watergate scandal, the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, have the feel of an interment ceremony. Reading press accounts of how Woodward swallowed the first Plame leak for a mere two-plus years without a peep and then went out on the Larry-King circuit to dismiss the significance of Plamegate, what came to mind was the burial ceremony that, in "committing" a body to the ground, goes, in part, "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." If there were a Watergate/Plamegate version of this, those two phrases might be replaced by "Nixon to Bush, Woodward to Woodward."

It's strange, isn't it, that the two great constitutional crises of the last half century are "gated" because the first became public thanks to a two-bit break-in by political thieves at an apartment complex named Watergate. We've been gated ever since. It's no less strange that Bob Woodward's decision to protect a source bookends both crises -- and, though a source may be a source, the differences between the two moments tell us much about the world we've traversed between Richard Nixon's impeachment in 1973 and today.

In both moments, it would not be wrong to say that a small coterie of high officials, a "cabal" (to use the word of Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson) took control of the government, intent on pursuing a foreign war (though in Nixon's case, one initiated and escalated by Democratic presidents); intent as well on smearing and destroying presidential enemies, especially antiwar ones, on using "national security" to secure political power, and on removing the Constitutional fetters on the president's ability to pursue any policies he may desire.

In the first of those gate-moments, Bob Woodward, an ambitious, young Washington Post reporter, with his associate Carl Bernstein, protected a source dubbed "Deep Throat" (now known to be FBI second-in-command Mark Felt) for dear life. In that case, what the two of them were protecting was the power of Felt's information to potentially bring down a government deeply mired in every sort of misuse and abuse of power. In the Plamegate moment, Woodward, now a star reporter who has feasted off the Washington elite for decades and (on the theory that you are what you eat) has become one of them, is again protecting a source. We don't know who, though one prime suspect is National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

In this case, after a three-decade arc that ended with the Bush administration absorbing parts of the media into its publicity and attack machinery (and cowing much of the rest), Woodward finds himself protecting one of the smearers, a member of the cabal, from exposure for potential misuses and abuses of power of every sort. While the issue -- protecting a source -- seems no different, the stance of the protector has changed radically. For the sake of a new book, Woodward has evidently been willing to protect the American public from various revelations about a government intent on destroying the republic. What a difference a few decades make.

Russ Baker put it this way at

"[T]he very definition of an ‘investigative reporter,' as Woodward is labeled these days ad nauseum, is a pretty elastic one. Meeting a source in a parking garage as a way of identifying abuses and high crimes by powerful insiders is one thing. Dining off that for the next three decades while chumming it up with well-placed insiders for their ‘exclusive accounts' is another."

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Tomgram: An American Tipping Point?

Losing the Fear Factor
How The Bush Administration Got Spooked

By Tom Engelhardt

It's finally Wizard of Oz time in America. You know -- that moment when the curtains are pulled back, the fearsome-looking wizard wreathed in all that billowing smoke turns out to be some pitiful little guy, and everybody looks around sheepishly, wondering why they acted as they did for so long.

Starting on September 11, 2001 -- with a monstrous helping hand from Osama bin Laden -- the Bush administration played the fear card with unbelievable effectiveness. For years, with its companion "war on terror," it trumped every other card in the American political deck. With an absurd system for color-coding dangers to Americans, the President, Vice President, and the highest officials in this land were able to paint the media a "high" incendiary orange and the Democrats an "elevated" bright yellow, functionally sidelining them.

How stunningly in recent weeks the landscape has altered -- almost like your basic hurricane sweeping through some unprotected and unprepared city. Now, to their amazement, Bush administration officials find themselves thrust through the equivalent of a Star-Trekkian wormhole into an anti-universe where everything that once worked for them seems to work against them. As always, in the face of domestic challenge, they have responded by attacking -- a tactic that was effective for years. The President, Vice President, National Security Adviser, and others have ramped up their assaults, functionally accusing Democratic critics of little short of treason -- of essentially undermining American forces in the field, if not offering aid and comfort to the enemy. On his recent trip to Asia, the President put it almost as bluntly as his Vice President did at home: "As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them into war continue to stand behind them." The Democrats were, he said over and over, "irresponsible" in their attacks. Dick Cheney called them spineless "opportunists" peddling dishonestly for political advantage.

Click here to read more of this dispatch

Iraq Dispatches: A Constitutional Referendum that Wasn't

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website **
** Website by **

A Constitutional Referendum that Wasn’t

The Ester Republic
published November 15, 2005 by Dahr Jamail

/Similar to how the invasion of Iraq was wrapped in bright and shining lies in order to be sold to the American people, the lauded constitutional referendum was fraught with inconsistencies, fraud, and poor preparation./

Did anyone else find it interesting that the results of the vote on Iraq’s constitution passing (which occurred ten days earlier) were released on the same day of the announcement of the 2,000th US soldier having been killed in Iraq?

On October 25, the first news of the day about Iraq across most corporate media outlets in the US was that Iraq was celebrating the approval of a new constitution. Just hours after this news, Mr. Bush made a pre-emptive propaganda move in an attempt to blunt the blow of the incoming news of the 2,000 milestone, by telling a group of military wives at an air force base in Washington “This war will require more sacrifice, more time and more resolve.”

Then, less than three hours after this speech, the news of the 2,000th US soldier dying was poured across the headlines; conveniently timed in that the Department of Defense usually has several deaths awaiting confirmation for days before they may be announced publicly.

But that’s old news now. With troop levels soon to be over 161,000 in Iraq (remember when it was 138,000?) and the death toll over 2,030 and increasing daily, more milestones loom as a failed political process is pushed forward. We just passed another, in fact; with at least ninety-three troops killed in October, which made it the bloodiest month since January.

Similar to how the invasion of Iraq was wrapped in bright and shining lies in order to be sold to the people of the United States, the recent constitutional referendum vote in Iraq occurred in a similar vein.

“You cannot wage a war without rumors, without media, without propaganda,” said Samir Khader, a senior producer at the Al-Jazeera Satellite Television Network, “Any military planner who plans for a war, if he doesn’t put media/propaganda on top of his agenda, he’s a bad military.”

The vote had many similarities to the farce which took place on January 30—aside from a repeat of the draconian measures to provide security and quite a large dose of propaganda.

Just prior to the so-called constitutional referendum vote in occupied Iraq, one of my close friends in Baghdad wrote me, “I would like to point out that we are three days away from the referendum, yet very large sectors of Iraqi people couldn’t receive part of the five million copies [of the constitution] from the UN, i.e.—they will not know what the constitution contains...what kind of vote is this?”

His confusion makes sense, considering that only five million copies of the so-called constitution were printed and supposedly distributed to 12.5 million registered voters in Iraq. The spokesman for the White House proclaimed that “tens of millions” of copies of the constitution were printed and distributed, then failed to comment on the fact that hours before the vote occurred a clause was added to the constitution stating it could be amended by the incoming government for four months
after they take power.

This last-minute attempt to garner Sunni support failed to accomplish much, as Sunni leaders were all too aware of the fact that the possibility of amending the constitution, which would require a two-thirds vote by the Shia/Kurdish dominated parliament, would be virtually impossible.

The inconsistencies hadn’t started there, however, because the constitution was to have been completed by August 1. But despite illegal delays which were not even backed by the parliament in Iraq, the controversial portions of the document like federalism and Sharia Islamic Law were not even worked out prior to the vote. Thus, an incomplete draft of the constitution was put to vote, without a vote of
authorization by the Iraqi government.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad even consistently pressured the Iraqi government to accept his own drafts of articles which included words like “oil” and “military bases” in the so-called constitution in the weeks leading up to the vote.

“It is a matter of public record that in the final weeks of the process the newly arrived US ambassador (Zalmay Khalilzad) took an extremely hands-on role,” Justin Alexander, legal affairs officer for the office of constitutional support with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq told me. “Even going so far as to irculate at least one US draft.”

Figures provided by several governorates required Iraq’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to order (under heavy Sunni political pressure) “re-examination, comparison and verification because they [voter turnout figures] are relatively high compared with international averages for elections” of this kind; according to a statement made by the IEC.

This occurred rather inconveniently after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s nearly instantaneous belief and statement that the constitution “has probably been passed,” despite what the IEC referred to in findings showing “that figures from most provinces were too high,” referencing voter turnout.

Huge discrepancies were reported in the Nineveh governorate, which includes Mosul, showing that while sources close to the IEC were quoted saying that fifty-five percent of the voters there voted against the constitution, which meant the constitution was accepted due to not having a two-thirds vote against it. However, Abd al-Razaq al-Jiburi, the secretary general of the Iraqi Independent Front said
contradictorily, “I have been informed by an employee of the electoral high commission in Mosul that the voting for the constitution has been ‘no.’”

He went on to add that his sources within the IEC said the “no” vote in Nineveh ranged between seventy-five and eighty percent, which would have defeated the constitution as Al-Anbar and Salahedin governorates had already voted it down.

This, on top of widespread accusations of ballot stuffing and missing ballot boxes from predominantly Sunni regions reported by Arab outlets such as Al-Ahram and Al-Jazeera, added a dark cloud of confusion and doubt over the entire referendum process.

Nevertheless, now the stage is set for a vote for a new Iraqi government on December 15, which is sure to deepen the divide which is fracturing Iraq. Between the institutionalization of Sharia Law, federalism and the possibility of an increasingly powerful Kurdistan, the Sunni population in Iraq only becomes more disenfranchised.

The idea of political stability seems more of a pipe dream in Iraq now than it did before the recent vote on the constitution.

Hinting at things to come in December, Sunni leader Saleh Mutlaq told reporters: “Violence is not the only solution, if politics offers solutions so that we can move in that direction. But there is very little hope that we can make any gains in the elections.”

Hussein al-Falluji, another prominent Sunni politician, said the referendum was manipulated by Washington, and added, “We all know that this referendum was fraud conducted by an electoral commission that is not independent. It is controlled by the occupying Americans and it should step down before elections in December.”

This is against the backdrop of the recent news of a survey commissioned by the British military in Iraq. The survey found that eighty-two percent of Iraqis “strongly oppose” the continuing presence of coalition troops and forty-five percent of Iraqis felt that attacks against coalition troops are justified.

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media . Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.

More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at:

Dahr Jamail Iraq is now Hosting Daily News Translations from Iraq

Iraq Dispatches: DahrJamailIraq is now hosting daily news translations from Iraq!

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website **
** Website by **

DahrJamailIraq is now hosting daily news translations from Iraq!

Despite the more than 500 Arabic and Persian news outlets reporting
stories from and about the Middle East, there is currently no affordable means for English speakers to gain access to much of this content. aims to close this gap by offering a daily email
newsletter of concise, translated briefs from and about the Middle East.

Through a special arrangement with, we are happy to
announce that we are now hosting MidEastWire's "Daily Iraq Monitor" on the DahrJamailIraq website.

The daily translated news briefs from Iraq are available at:

But you won't have to check on the DahrJamailIraq website to keep
current on the Daily Iraq Monitor. You can subscribe for free! Simply
link to the RSS feed at
with your RSS reader and be informed daily of events in Iraq translated daily from Middle East news sources.

Please consider a paid subscription to to gain
full access to excellent news resources translated daily from the Middle East.

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media . Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.

More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at

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