Saturday, December 17, 2005

Where do the Party Leaders Stand on Torture Issue?

Some of my questions were answered during the first two leaders' debates. However, the issue of torture -- and should the Canadian government be complicit in this inhumane practice -- were questions not asked or talked about so far, even though there have been reports that indicate Canada's complicity. I see that I am not alone in bringing up this important, disturbing topic.

"Government's role worth discussion.
Here's another issue no party leader is talking about in this election campaign: Should Canada's federal government aid and abet torture? Unfortunately, this isn't an academic question. I wish it were. But there have been too many disturbing reports that indicate this country is complicit in torturing people that one government or another thinks are terrorists." by Thomas Walkom full column

Iraq Dispatches: Iraq Informational Video and Interview

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

The Truth is Out: 7.5 minutes of Dahr Jamail

*December 9, 2005 -
Dahr Jamail's talk at CIIS in San Francisco is
recorded and edited by to make a hard hitting 7.5 minute video*

VIDEO SPECIAL | Dahr Jamail: Reporting on Iraq
A Film By Sari Gelzer
Dahr Jamail shares the stories of Iraqi civilians he interviewed while spending 8 months in occupied-Iraq as an independent journalist. Through his reports of torture, and a healthcare system that is being impeded by American troops, Dahr reveals the urgency for withdrawal from Iraq. A good summary of the information Dahr gave during his September-November speaking tour throughout the US.

Dahr Jamail speaks in San Francisco Dec 9 2005

Quicktime - 56K

Quicktime - 512K

Windows - 56K

Windows - 512K

RealMedia - 56K

RealMedia - 512K

*Server busy? - *Download the .torrent file

Try the .mov on our server

Learn about BitTorrent and see all of our torrents


Saul Landau interviews Dahr Jamail on "Hot Talk"

*November 11, 2005 -
Saul Landau interviews Dahr Jamail on "Hot Talk"*

On the last days of a presentation tour throughout the East and West Coasts of the US, Dahr Jamail speaks with Saul Landau about the true nature of the situation in Iraq. In this 1/2 hour video, the two discuss a wide range of topics including: US forces deliberately targetting and silencing the journalists who were reporting the truth of the November 2004 siege of Fallujah, the US use of phosphorus weapons on civilians, some of the truths of the US sieges of Fallujah, the deteriorating
conditions in Iraq, the realities of everyday life for Iraqis and much more.

Dahr Jamail Interviewed by Saul Landau November 11, 2005

See the Interview! - Streaming Windows Media - .asx high bandwidth

Streaming Windows Media - .asx low bandwidth

Windows Media - .wmv file on our server (20 megs)

*Server busy? -*Download the .torrent file"Learn about BitTorrent and see all of our torrents

(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

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Short History Lesson: Eight Facts About Iraq

Many people do not know the basic historical facts about Iraq. Hence I've posted a well-written, straightforward article from, in which writer Laurence M. Vance gives a concise history lesson and also points out the U.S. intervention in the region.

*Eight Facts About Iraq
by Laurence M. Vance

" The Bush administration, its accomplices in the news media, and the conservative talk show hacks who do the bidding of the Republican party have sold America a bill of goods. The invasion of Iraq was justified, we have been led to believe, because Saddam Hussein was the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler, Iraq was in the position of Germany on the eve of World War II, and the "elite" Republican Guard was the equivalent of the German Wehrmacht. According to the president himself: "We will end a brutal regime, whose aggression and weapons of mass destruction make it a unique threat to the world."

Right wing Christians too, who ought to know better, have also been duped because of their misplaced trust in the state just because it is currently controlled by the Republican party (the same Republican party that is expanding government at a rate not seen since the Democratic administrations of Lyndon Johnson and Franklin Roosevelt).

Located at the northern tip of the Persian Gulf, and encompassing the land of ancient Mesopotamia, as well as the biblical Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the country of Iraq, which until recently could not be located on a map by most Americans, is now the focus of all Americans. But because most Americans are woefully ignorant of history, and especially the history of U.S. intervention into other countries; and because most Christians are just as ignorant of history, and especially Christians who spend all their time believing what they read in the newspaper, hear on the radio, and see on television, some facts about Iraq are in order.

Fact Number 1: There was no country of Iraq until it was created by the British in 1920. In 1534 the Ottoman Turks conquered the area of what is now Iraq. Here the Ottoman empire ruled until its defeat in World War I because Turkey sided with the Central powers. After World War I, the French and British divided up the formerly Ottoman-controlled lands in the Middle East. France was given a League of Nations mandate over Syria and Lebanon; Great Britain was given the same over Palestine, Transjordan, and Iraq. The modern state of Iraq was created out of the three Ottoman provinces of Basra, Mosul, and Baghdad. The defeat of the Turks may have brought to an end the Ottoman empire, but it began a century of Western imperialism.

Fact Number 2: The United States already sponsored two previous regime changes in Iraq. Under their League of Nations mandate, the British
installed King Faisal as the ruler of Iraq. But even after its independence, Iraq was still controlled by Britain. Faisal's dynasty lasted until his grandson Faisal II was executed in a 1958 coup. The Hitler in Iraq in the early 1960s was Abd al-Karim Qasim. After deposing the Western-allied Iraqi monarchy in 1958, Qasim was seen by the U.S. as a counter to Gamal Abdel Nassar of Egypt. But after he was perceived as too much of a threat to Western oil interests, Qasim was killed in February 1963 in a CIA-sponsored coup by the anti-Communist Baath party. American firms soon began doing business with Baghdad. All was not well, however, in the Baath party, for in 1968 an internal coup brought to power General Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr, who was succeeded by Saddam Hussein in 1979. These regime changes in Iraq were both accompanied by bloody reprisals.

Fact Number 3: Saddam Hussein was an ally of the United States until the first Persian Gulf War. The U.S.-Hussein connection actually goes all the way back to the late 1950s. Hussein was part of a group that tried to assassinate Abd al-Karim Qasim after he seized power in 1958. Fleeing Iraq, he eventually settled in Cairo, Egypt, where he was courted by the CIA. During the 1980s, when Iraq was at war with Iran, military intelligence was provided to Iraq because the United States sought to do whatever was necessary to prevent Iraq from losing its war with Iran. The U.S. problem with Iran stemmed from decades of American intervention that backfired when radical Shiite Muslims overthrew the Shah and installed the Ayatollah Khomeini. The United States has a bad habit of collaborating with tyrants who later come back to bite us. Who can forget that Joseph Stalin, one of the bloodiest killers who ever lived, was our "ally" in World War II?

Fact Number 4: Iraq got its "weapons of mass destruction" from the United States. This started after the Baath party coup of 1963, when the U.S. sent arms to the new regime. But during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, when, under the successive administrations of Reagan and Bush I, Saddam Hussein was our ally against Iran, it was not just arms that were provided to Iraq. According to the 1992 U.S. Senate committee report on U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq, "the United States provided the government of Iraq with 'dual use' licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile-system programs." This included anthrax, VX nerve gas, West Nile fever germs, botulism, salmonella, and E coli.

Fact Number 5: Iraq was a liberal Muslim state. Iraq is made up of three major groups: the Kurds, the Shiites, and the Sunnis. The Shiites, which are in the majority, are the more radical Muslims. The ruling Baath party was more closely associated with the more moderate Sunnis, which make up about 35 percent of the population. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Iran, and most other Muslim states, Iraq was not controlled by a fundamentalist Muslim government, something that is now a possibility. One could even purchase a drink in Baghdad. The Baath government tolerated both Jews and Christians, something not to be seen in Muslim countries like Indonesia, Turkey, and Iran.

Fact Number 6: Iraq was not responsible for the 9-11 attacks on the United States. Many Americans who supported the war with Iraq did so because they were led to believe that the U.S. was retaliating for the terrorist attacks on September 11. Yet, none of the hijackers of the airplanes on September 11 were from Iraq (or Afghanistan). They were mainly from Saudi Arabia, our supposed Muslim ally in the Middle East. No connection has ever been proved between Iraq and al-Qaeda or Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. There is even evidence that the invasion of Iraq was planned before the September 11 attacks. A September 2000 document issued by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC)entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources For A New Century," drawn up by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz, shows that Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Persian Gulf region regardless of whether Saddam Hussein was in power.

Fact Number 7: Iraq was not a threat to the United States. Although Bush's initial justification for war was that Iraq was a "threat to the United Nations" (certainly no reason for the U.S. to go to war), this was soon shifted to Iraq being a threat to the United States. But even though Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld insisted that "no terrorist state poses a greater and more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq," the condition of Iraq said otherwise. Not only was Iraq's army considerably weaker than it was during the first Persian Gulf War --­ a war in which Iraq only managed to kill 148 Americans --­ but Iraq had no navy or air force. Iraq's economy was in ruin after a decade of sanctions -- ­ sanctions that destroyed its water supplies. The GNP of Iraq was not even 15 percent of that of the state of Washington. The only time in history when Iraq did actually attack the United States --­ an Iraqi warplane attacked a U.S. ship in the Persian Gulf in 1987 resulting in the killing of dozens of U.S. sailors --­ we did nothing because Iraq apologized for its "mistake." No, the greatest threat to freedoms of the American people is not Iraq. The greatest threat to the freedoms of the American people is not some country six thousand miles away; it is our own government. How is it that in a country with such a heritage of individual liberty like the United States, one can smoke in a restaurant in Baghdad, but not in Manhattan? How is it that in a country with a Christian heritage like the United States, one can buy a gun in Baghdad, but not in Washington D. C.? If Iraq's neighboring countries did not feel the need to send troops to Baghdad, then why did we?

Fact Number 8: Iraq is the Mideast's second largest oil producer. Although this is a fact that everyone knows, it is downplayed by all proponents of the war with Iraq. But if oil has nothing to do with the U.S. intervening in Iraq, then why hasn't the U.S. intervened in Sudan, where 2 million Christians have been killed during the past decade? What about the persecution of Christians in Indonesia? Why hasn't the U.S. intervened in Zimbabwe, where the Marxist tyrant Robert Mugabe has been confiscating the country's farmland? Why has Fidel Castro --­ 90 miles away from our shores -- been untouched for 40 years? Why didn't the U.S. instigate a "regime change" when Idi Amin was killing thousands of his own black people in Uganda in the 1970s? Why didn't the U.S. instigate a "regime change" when the Tutsis were slaughtered by the Hutu government of Rwanda in 1994? Would things have been different if Sudan, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Uganda, and Rwanda had significant oil reserves?

These sobering facts, unknown to Americans who get all their news from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX, and CNBC, should cause every citizen, and especially every Christian, to question the motives of the state the next time it is insisted that we should invade another country. They should also cause all Americans to question the necessity of the United States maintaining 184 military bases in over 100 countries around the world. God never appointed the United States to be the world's policeman. "

Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] is a freelance writer and an adjunct instructor in accounting and economics at Pensacola Junior College in Pensacola, FL. Visit his website.

Copyright © 2004

South Africa and Iraq: The Missing Example

In this article from Open Democracy, David Mikhail draws lessons for Iraq from South Africa's history. Mikhail is a scholar and teacher of South African affairs.

South Africa and Iraq: the missing example
David Mikhail
15 - 12 - 2005

The successful transition to democracy in South Africa could be an inspiration to Iraqis struggling with their own legacy of violence and dictatorship, says David Mikhail.

" A nation is liberated and its tyrannical past withers into history. After a period of political and sectarian violence an interim constitution is drafted. The provisional government consists of one party possessing a 63% majority which peacefully coexists with a number of other political parties, including ethnic-based organisations. Within two years a final constitution is drafted, approved by the country’s supreme court, and ratified into law. The country celebrated the ten-year anniversary of its inaugural elections and will soon celebrate the ten-year anniversary of its permanent constitution.

This is not – except in the idyllic perception of some of the Iraq war’s architects and advocates – a vision of the Iraqi state in 2013. Rather, it is a description of the most successful process of democratisation in recent political history – that experienced in South Africa. While the world was transfixed by the spreading Iraqi insurgency in 2004, South Africa was celebrating a decade of democracy that had not been aborted even by the viciousness of civil war. In 2006 the country will mark a decade since its permanent constitution was installed. " ...Read rest of this article here

The First Debate Goes to Layton

While watching the leaders' debate in French tonight, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Jack Layton mention "democratic voting reform with proportional representation". I strongly support this issue, and felt encouraged by Layton's mention. The others said nothing about this.

Layton's answers were direct, unequivocal, forthright, intelligent. He injected a few personal experiences which gave it a 'down-to-earth' touch. All in all, I feel that Jack Layton came out ahead in this debate.

I wonder how many other viewers agree with my humble opinion.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Homes Not Bombs Report


1. An end to Canada's role in the military occupation of Afghanistan and its complicity, with U.S. forces, in illegal detentions, torture, and murder of detainees.

2. An end to Canada's shameful role in Haiti, from its facilitation of the coup against legally elected Haitian President Aristide to its subsequent support for an illegitimate regime and reign of terror against the country's poorest citizens and democracy proponents.

3. An end to the production and export of weaponry, a multi-billion dollar industry that sees millions of Quebec's SNC-TEC bullets, Kitchener, Ontario's Diemaco machine guns, and Montreal's Bell-Textron "Hunter-Killer Copters" used in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other places.

4. An end to our permanent war economy which will soon see $20- billion a year spent on war while millions scrape by in poverty without affordable housing, accessible daycare, and other vitally needed social supports.

5. An end to the shady role of overseas "trainers" provided by RCMP and Canadian police forces for Iraqi and other security forces, many of whom are subsequently implicated in human rights abuses.

6. An end to Canada's ongoing role in the development and production of space warfare, and an end to this country playing the role of testing ground for military forces from around the world.

7. An end to the powerless Canadian thinking that such demands are impossible to achieve. To paraphrase an old saying, we should continue to demand the impossible so long as those who are currently possible remain possible.

For more information on related issues (war economy, star wars), visit our website at

" Homes not Bombs is an all-volunteer, Ontario-wide coalition of people who use nonviolent direct action in an attempt to confront institutional and personal violence, seeking a transformative solution which results not in winners versus losers, but in a society which becomes more equal and loving, more just and compassionate.

While much of our focus is based on campaigns which highlight the fact that Canada spends well over 700% more on war than on affordable housing, we act on the very clear links between militarism and poverty as well as the connections to sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, and all related forms of discrimination.

Whether we are dressed as Santa Claus emptying toy store shelves of war toys. organizing long-distance walks to support the families of Muslim men facing secret trials in this country, creating a festival of life outside of a war show, trying to transform Moss Park Armoury into housing for the homeless, or occupying the entrance to the War Department, our actions and campaigns are rooted in three basic concepts: they are confrontational, they are transformative, and they are nonviolent in word and deed. "

Harper Misses the Point on "Democratic Reform"

December 15, 2005 Press Release issued from Fair Vote Canada:


The Conservatives have completely missed the point on democratic reform, according to Fair Vote Canada, a multi-partisan citizens’ group for fair voting reform, and are dodging the real issue. Stephen Harper’s democratic reform package, announced yesterday, included no commitment to changing the way we vote to elect our MPs.

“Surely the first thing we need,” said Fair Vote Canada president Wayne Smith, “is a fair voting system for Canada.”

Ironically, the current first-past-the-post voting system has been the single most important factor keeping Mr. Harper’s party from breaking through in Ontario and Quebec.

“In 2004, the Conservative Party got more votes in Ontario than they did in B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan combined,” Smith said, “but they won only 24 seats in Ontario, compared to 61 in those three western provinces. In fact, their 301,000 votes in Quebec elected no one at all in the last election, while 178,000 votes in Saskatchewan elected 13 Conservative MPs. Our voting system systematically marginalizes the Conservative Party while shutting the west out of power.

“But Stephen Harper is hanging on for a phony majority government. He thinks this time it will be the Conservative Party that gets 40% of the votes, 60% of the seats, and 100% of the power. Mr. Harper had better wake up and smell the coffee.

“Before a single ballot is cast in the upcoming election, we already know the outcome,” said Smith, “Approximately six million voters will cast wasted votes that elect no one to represent them in Parliament. Some parties will get far more seats than their votes warrant, and others will win too few, or none at all. The resulting Parliament will not represent the electorate accurately, which means the resulting Government will not be accountable to Canadian voters.”

Fair Vote Canada is calling on all parties to follow the lead of the B.C. and Ontario governments on electoral reform and establish a citizen-driven process that will allow Canadians to learn about modern, proportional voting systems and choose a fair voting system for Canada in a binding referendum.

“We need a fair voting system now,” said Smith, “and we need Canadians themselves—not politicians—to identify and choose the best system for Canada.”

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

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


Tomgram: Nick Turse Offers the Seasonal Shopping List from Hell

We all know the feeling. After your last minute holiday gift-giving near-disaster in 2004 (surprisingly similar to the one in 2003), you made that firm New Year's resolution yet again -- this time you were determined to buy those Christmas presents in July. The Monday after Thanksgiving at the absolute latest. They would all be wrapped and carefully hidden away in the back of your closet under the old skates and the family photos. Well, don't even bother to look. You know you didn't. Fortunately, there are sites -- Tomdispatch for one -- with your seasonal well-being in mind. And so it's with particular pleasure that, in the very nick of time, Tomdispatch presents its third annual opportunity for you, the Xmas gift-giver, to partake in some small way of an all-American, globally generous spirit of giving. Open your hearts, open your wallets, and shop til you drop. It's the Homeland Security way of life! Tom

p.s. One small gift you might actually consider picking up is an amusing collection of bumper stickers ("Be nice to America or we'll bring democracy to your country") and bumper facts, a little stocking stuffer of a book by two young progressives, Actions Speak Louder Than Bumper Stickers.

All-American Christmas
By Nick ("Tongue Firmly in Cheek") Turse

It's that time of year again. A time for family and friends to gather. A sacred time. A time to look back and reflect on what really matters most. And, honestly, what matters more than Tomdispatch's third annual holiday list of the season's best gifts?

Back in 2003, there were those "Hot as Depleted Uranium Toys for a New Imperial Age"; in 2004, we gave you the inside scoop on how to "Make It a Merry Military-Corporate Christmas." This year, it's all about timeless American values, like militarism, jingoism, and barbarism. So if you've been wringing your hands, worried that you'll never find that last minute holiday gift for the special someone on your list, today is your lucky day!

The Spirit of the Season

Does it seem like every year you have more and more people to buy presents for? Well, here's a gift idea that wants to be part of the solution, not the problem: the "America Is Full" T-shirt. Now, when the recipient of your gift heads out, people will know exactly what s/he thinks about those tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free. And if there was any shred of doubt, the reverse side reads: "The Borders… It's Closing Time."

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

New Video from IWT: Gore Vidal, Naomi Klein, Phil Donahue

This is the email I received today from Paul Jay, IWTnews. It includes a short, informative video, and more info about Independent World Television (IWT).

" Corporate television news is undermining your right to know.

Thousands of people have died, and are still dying, in a war that a majority of people believe is based on half truths and misinformation. U.S. Congressman John Murtha said, "We've increased terrorism in the Middle East... We've increased instability in the Middle East." The world is a more dangerous place for all of us.

Canadian troops fight in Afghanistan with little national debate about their mission, following a policy set in Washington. The problems of social injustice, the health care system and environmental degradation receive superficial treatment while government corruption goes mostly unaccountable.

We have a right to know the truth, but corporate television reports on propaganda as if it's reality. This leads to public support for policies that have little to do with the facts.

Watch the new 3 minute video with Gore Vidal, Phil Donahue, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein and Paul Jay at
See their take on how corporate TV news failed on the Iraq story from the start and how IWTnews is building an independent television network brave enough to report the truth.

Democracy depends on an independent and responsible media that reports the facts and stands up to power with the truth. With your support, Independent World Television will be such a network. Being free from advertising, corporate control and government funding makes it possible. That's why your support is so important.

Help us cut through the bull. Go to and donate to help us produce independent journalism.

Major donors Susan Adelman and Claudio Llanos have offered a challenge to IWTnews supporters. They will match, dollar for dollar, funds we raise before December 31st, up to $25,000.

We're creating production units in Iraq, Afghanistan and New Orleans. IWTnews will produce short current affairs documentaries that deliver the uncompromising journalism we so urgently need. Our flagship news show - IWTnews Nightly - will be an hour-long news program, fearlessly reporting on the world as it is. It will be seen on cable, satellite and the web. Your support makes it possible.

Tell the world that your right to know is worth fighting for. Tell the world it's time for independent journalism that will stand up to power. It's time for all of us to step up to the plate and build the kind of news network that defends our right to know.

Help us break the monopoly on information. Bring independent fearless journalism to public view. Donate now at "

Canada Wants to Protect Itself from the Patriot Act

I came across this interesting article from which was originally published in Le where you will find it in French. t r u t h o u t's French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher translated it into English.

Canada Wants to Protect Itself from the Patriot Act
From Le Devoir

Monday 12 December 2005

Ottawa - According to a federal proposition, a Canadian governmental agency could annul a contract with an American company should the latter transmit personal information concerning Canadians to American agencies in the fight against terrorism.

This measure aims to respond to the fear that the American FBI can now access confidential Canadian data that the government supplies to American companies working with the Federal Ministries in Ottawa.

The Patriot Act, adopted in the United States following the attacks of September 11, 2001, allows the FBI broader access to the files maintained by US companies. Thus, the FBI can ask an American court to force a company to reveal its files - including those containing information concerning Canadians - in order to assist its investigations that aim to prevent terrorism or espionage. That means that American authorities could have access to information on Canadians through the intermediary of American companies or their subsidiaries, even if that data were stored in Canada.

The Treasury Council has charged a work group to elaborate special dispositions that would have to be included in future documents and business contracts to reduce this risk. According to the preliminary proposal, federal data bases containing confidential information created by businesses would have to be situated in Canada and accessible only from inside the country. The government suggests that businessmen not be able to conclude a contract until they have committed to respect Canadian privacy laws.

Iraq Dispatches: BBC Newsnight Stages "War Crimes Trial"

Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist from Anchorage, Alaska. He has spent eight months reporting from occupied Iraq, and recently has been giving presentations about Iraq around the U.S. He regularly reports for Inter Press Service, and contributes to the Independent, the Sunday Herald, and Asia Times as well as He maintains a website at:

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

Dahr Jamail will be participating as a witness regarding war crimes in Fallujah and the torturing of Iraqis in US military detention centers in Iraq.

*With ongoing controversy surrounding the conduct of the war in Iraq and
the treatment of terror suspects in the wider "War on Terror", Newsnight is to stage a special programme entitled: "The Allies on Trial"*

Allegations about the allies' conduct of war in Iraq, counter-insurgency measures and claims of torture in the "War on Terror" - plus the use of "extraordinary rendition" by the US - continue to surface.

Jeremy Paxman will chair a special programme exploring whether the allies are guilty of war crimes.

The programme, to be broadcast on Wednesday, 14 December will take the form of a trial, with advocates arguing the case for the prosecution and defence with the help of witness and expert testimony.

Clive Stafford Smith - the Legal Director of Reprieve; a charity that defends prisoners facing the death penalty - will lead the prosecution. Barrister John Cooper will argue for the defence.

A jury of specially chosen undecided members of the public will give their verdict.

Over the coming days we are inviting viewers to submit their opinions and evidence to the programme.

The program will be broadcast at 2230 UK time, Wednesday, December 14th.

(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

Note: All of Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches are republished here with the kind, explicit permission of the author.

Tomgram: Dahr Jamail on the Missing Air War in Iraq

From the destroyed Japanese and German cities of World War II to the devastated Korean peninsula of the early 1950s, from the ravaged South Vietnamese countryside of the late 1960s to the "highway of death" on which much of a fleeing Iraqi army was destroyed in the first Gulf War of 1991, air power has been America's signature way of war. Once, it was also a major part of Hollywood's version of war-making on the "silver screen." More recently, however, air war has largely disappeared from consciousness. It simply hasn't been part of war, as Americans see, read about, or imagine it, on-screen or off. This is strange.

It's true that, with the exception of a small number of helicopters downed by rocket-propelled grenades, the present air war in Iraq has been fought without (American) casualties; it's also been fought largely without publicity and almost completely without reporters. It's true as well that there are certain obvious disadvantages to covering an air war rather than a ground war. You can't follow in the wake of a plane heading at supersonic speeds for a target many miles away; and it's harder to "embed" reporters in the backseat of a jet, no less an unmanned predator drone, than in a Humvee. This was true even during the Vietnam War, although reporters there regularly hitched rides on military helicopters to bases and hotspots around the country. As a result, despite our memory of a single iconic photo of a napalmed Vietnamese girl running screaming down a highway (and she had been seared by a South Vietnamese plane), the fierce American air campaign in South Vietnam was seldom given the attention it deserved. I know of only a single exception to this: In 1967, the young Jonathan Schell managed to talk himself into the backseats of Cessna O-1 forward air control planes flying "visual reconnaissance" over a heavily populated coastal strip of Vietnam's Quang Ngai province and in his New Yorker series and subsequent book, The Military Half, he provided as vivid and devastating an account as exists of the destruction of the Vietnamese countryside from the air and ground.

It's worth remembering that the U.S. began its war of choice in Iraq with a massive (and massively promoted) "shock and awe" air and cruise missile attack on Baghdad. The administration was then proud of our one-sided ability to inflict massive, targeted damage on that country's capital and happy to have it televised. But ever since, the air war and its urban destruction have been kept in the shadows, which might be considered, if not evidence of the military equivalent of shame, then at least, of an "out of sight/out of mind" mentality. Whether by design or not, the U.S. military seems to have kept reporters off air bases and aircraft carriers (after, at least, that first burst of air assault was over). And with the exception of a few helicopter rides over Iraq granted to favored reporters and pundits, usually with their favored generals, reporters simply have not been up in the sky, nor have they -- for reasons I find hard to fathom -- bothered to look up for the rest of us (as Dahr Jamail indicates in the piece that follows). As 2004 ended, one TV journalist wrote me:

"My own experience of Iraq is that while we're all constantly aware of the air power, we're rarely nearby when it's deployed offensively. Perhaps that explains why we don't see it. One does ‘hear' the airpower all the time though. Fighters and helicopters used to protect convoys; helis shipping people back and forth to bases, or hunting in packs across towns; AWACS high up. I've even watched drones making patterns in the sky. So why don't we film it?"

It's a question that still hasn't been answered -- or even asked in public.

Yet our air power has been loosed powerfully on heavily populated cities and towns in a country we've occupied. This has been done, in part, because American generals have not wanted to send American troops -- any more than absolutely necessary -- into embattled cityscapes in an ongoing guerrilla war in which they might take heavy casualties (which, in turn, would be likely to cause support for the war to drop at home even more precipitously than it has). Still, it remains amazing to me that Seymour Hersh's recent important report in the New Yorker, Up in the Air, is the first significant mainstream account since the invasion of Iraq to take up the uses of air power in that country. The piece certainly caused a stir here, becoming part of the suddenly quickening tempo of debate about American withdrawal; but, as readers may have noticed, the air war itself has received no more attention since its publication two weeks ago than previously, which is essentially none. As I wrote back in August 2004, "You might think that the widespread, increasingly commonplace bombing of civilian areas in cities would be a story the media might want to cover in something more than the odd paragraph deep into pieces on other subjects." You might think so, but based on recent history, don't hold your breath.

As a result, strangely enough, it has largely been left to writers and reporters not in Iraq to look up and give Americans a sense of what's going on in the skies -- as Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist who until recently covered the war from Baghdad and is now back in this country, does below. Tom

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Bird Flu Site Tracks Spread of H5N1 Avian Flu Worldwide

Bird Flu Beacon discovers most damaging evidence to date of an alleged bird flu cover-up in China.

Bird Flu Beacon tracks the spread of bird flu worldwide, summarizes and archives avian flu news coverage, and offers tips for preventing infection and for protection in case of bird flu infection.

Recently the site posted startling news from Guan Yi, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong. While the Chinese have only reported 5 human deaths from bird flu, Dr. Guan Yi accuses the government of failure to admit the virus is in every corner of the country. He states he has direct evidence of H5N1 viral infection in provinces that have never announced any outbreak.

Only one Chinese lab, which is directly controlled by the government, is officially allowed to conduct bird flu tests, and its findings are not openly shared with foreign experts. Over 100,000 bird flu samples from Chinese provinces have been collected through private sources and tested by Dr. Guan, who accuses the Chinese government of attempting to block his research.

Unauthorized bird flu reporting is prohibited and visits to affected regions tightly restricted. Apple Daily, a Hong Kong newspaper, documented the arrest of a farmer in Anhui province for alerting higher government authorities of an outbreak of more than 2,000 chickens.

Bird Flu Beacon has identified 5 key obstacles to gathering accurate data on avian flu. Now it is adding 4 more to the list:
The government is not doing bird flu surveillance studies.
Farmers may be arrested locally for reporting bird flu infections to higher authorities.
The one Chinese lab doing H5N1 testing is controlled by the government.
Officials giving accurate information may lose their jobs (many did with SARS).

The other key factors are: Farmers in regions with reported infections have their flocks killed. Few people, including doctors, can identify bird flu symptoms. Medical services are almost non-existent in rural areas. The collection, shipment and analysis of blood samples is extremely difficult and expensive. A repeat of reported human outbreaks might lead to widespread panic and economic loss as it did with SARS.

“Failure to track the progress of H5N1 in China is a huge threat to the entire world. China has the largest number of reported outbreaks in birds, is a major point for bird migration, and has the largest population on earth,” said Dr. Shoshana Zimmerman, a founder of Bird Flu Beacon. “The 1918 bird flu pandemic raged out of control, killing 20-50 million people, when the virus was spread through human-to-human contact. Lack of surveillance coupled with news suppression is valid cause to fear a pandemic,” she added.

Bird Flu Beacon reports factual information, thoughtful analysis and bird flu news you can trust. It also features a blog, which reports news and commentary.

Second Night of Racial Violence in Sydney, Australia

Even though this was the second night of racial violence, Australian Prime Minister John Howard refused to call Australians racist.

Armed Gangs on Rampage

By Malcolm Brown, Les Kennedy, Jared Wormald and Robert Wainwright
The Sydney Morning Herald

December 13, 2005

SYDNEY erupted in a second night of racial violence last night as Middle Eastern mobs fired shots into the air, attacked women and smashed shops around Cronulla, while up to 600 young men - armed with guns and crowbars - prepared for a battle.

In a terrifying escalation of the conflict, up to 70 cars from Hurstville and possibly Lakemba invaded Cronulla and Brighton-le-Sands to launch revenge attacks, following the vicious attacks by Cronulla locals on people of Middle Eastern appearance on Sunday.

Click here to read rest of this article.

BuzzFlash Guest Contributions: Cindy Sheehan and An American Still Fighting for His Country

The following are two poignant, heartfelt, compelling BuzzFlash guest contributions. The writer of the first one, Cindy Sheehan, needs no introduction. She is in London, writing about her keen observations about a peace activist friend -- and more about the movement there -- in this impassioned article.

The second article is simply signed, "An American Still Fighting for His Country". It is an intelligent piece, which gives Bush a white flag for everything he surrendered that was important to the country. Bush's 'flags' find their well-deserved mark with cogent accuracy, points well made.

December 12, 2005
Comfort Zones

by Cindy Sheehan

"If you do nothing for peace and justice in the world, start doing something. If you are doing something, do more. Our survival on this planet demands immediate.

Now is the time to leave our comfort zones and make a difference."

"Today was bitterly cold as I walked from the Charing Cross Tube Station to Parliament Square in London. I was heading there with my traveling companion, Julie, to go and visit Brian Haw after several exhausting, but productive days in England and Scotland.

Brian is a peace activist and exceptionally compassionate man who has been camping out and vigiling in Parliament Square since June 2, 2001. He was so enraged by the sanctions of the United Nations against Iraq that were supported by the US and his government that he felt like it was the only thing to do.

While I was vigiling and camping out in Crawford by George Bush's ranch because of my outrage at the continued and unnecessary killing of Iraqis, Americans and coalition troops, Brian sent me a letter. Part of it reads:

We stand beside you as family, and you can be sure of our love no matter what. Now let's help the rest to understand, sort the mess in the quickest possible time. I don't want another day, another child to come home in a body bag, nor do you. Well, let's get through to the rest of our folks pretty damn quick. Amen?!

Your brother Brian, in Jesus name xxx

Click here to read rest of this article

December 12, 2005
It’s Not Our White Flag Mr. Bush

by A BuzzFlash Reader
An American Still Fighting for His Country

"It’s yours. It’s your war. You decided to start it, we didn’t. You decided to lie to congress and the American people to get your war. We are not surrendering Mr. Bush, you are:

You surrendered the claim that there were WMD in Iraq. Perhaps you’d like to resurrect it? After all, it is how you “justified” all of this.

You surrendered your claim that the revenue from oil would pay for the reconstruction. Perhaps you’d like to return several hundred billions of dollars back into the United States treasury? No? Now you’ve waved two white flags in front of the world. But there is more. A lot more.

You surrendered your claim that there was a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. You admitted there wasn’t, before you continued making the claim through your proxies. What do we call someone who waves a white flag and then has someone else start shooting again? Three white flags.

You surrendered your administration’s claims that we’d “probably be out of Iraq in 12 weeks.” Three months has turned into three years. The price has been the lives of more than two thousand two hundred of our children; the ones you lied to. Four white flags, yet the bodies of our children still stack up every week like grotesque firewood on the kindling of your lies.

You surrendered our economy; you surrendered a multi-trillion dollar surplus to the communist government of China, whom you’ve placed the American people in debt to for trillions more. Five white flags."

Click here to read rest of this article

Fight ignorance, read BuzzFlash

Canada Needs a Fair Voting System

"Canada has a voting system which exaggerates regionalism and threatens national unity", says Fair Vote Canada, a nation-wide citizens’ movement for fair voting reform in Canada.

President Wayne Smith forecast in an election statement that half the votes cast on January 23, 2006 will be wasted, simply because they favour losing candidates. A truly representative democracy would not scorn half the electorate every time out, he suggested.

“Parties with regional concentration of support do well under the antique, winner-take-all system of voting we still use,” said Smith, “while parties with national constituencies are marginalized by the voting system. If you’re a Liberal voter in Calgary or a Conservative voter in Quebec, well too bad for you. You’ll never elect a representative to Parliament under this system. The Bloc Quebecois hold the balance of power and the NDP do not, although the NDP have more than twice the votes. Half a million Green Party voters elected nobody in the last election.

“Most of us vote for people who don’t get elected,” said Smith, “so we end up with a government that most of us didn’t vote for.”

The next election results won’t come any closer to accurately reflecting voter intentions, he warned.

“We don’t know the outcome of this or any election,” said Smith’ “but we do know this much—there will be a fresh crop of horror stories. Millions of votes will be wasted. We won’t get the government we voted for.”

He urged Canadians to join Fair Vote Canada at www.FairVote.Ca, to educate themselves about fair voting reform, and to take action for democracy.

“During this election campaign,” he said, “individual citizens can make a difference. Meet the candidates, from all parties. Ask them to stand up for democracy and let Canadians choose a fair voting system for Canada.”

“Let’s make this the last unfair election!” said Smith.

I couldn't agree with him more. A truly fair voting system in Canada is indeed long past due. Please go to this website, and sign on! In the interest of true democracy in our country, we must stand united and let our voices be heard, regardless of the party you support. Democracy is a non-partisan, people's issue!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Tomgram: Yaghmaian on the Unknown Victims of September 11th

To read customer reviews or to purchase this wonderful book, click here

This latest Tomgram is partially republished here with the kind, explicit permission of its author, Tom Engelhardt. Read more of his timely, poignant, insightful Dispatches and Tomgrams at

Last week and this one at Tomdispatch are devoted to a look back at the period before and after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and at the ways in which, ever since, our world has shut itself down and sealed itself up. On that sealing up, Behzad Yaghmaian is an expert. American and Iranian, he approaches this subject from the perspective of the poor and desperate of the Muslim world, many of whom, despite all the talk about a "clash of civilizations," are desperate to enter our world and yet find themselves largely clashing with it. These Afghans, Iranians, Iraqis and other Muslims are migrants who, since 9/11, we in the West have been especially anxious to keep out. Yaghmaian is the author of Embracing the Infidel, Stories of Muslim Migrants on the Journey West, a fascinating book Kirkus Reviews has called "an El Norte or Grapes of Wrath for the Muslim world." He is also a man "profiled" in two worlds (ours and his original Iranian one), which gives him a unique perspective on what 9/11 has meant here, in Europe, and in the Middle East. His is a voice we should listen to carefully. Tom

Suspected and Feared
Muslim Migrants after September 11th

By Behzad Yaghmaian

It was a beautiful and sunny day that September 11th and I was in New York's Central Park biking when I saw the helicopters flying south. Sirens and more helicopters followed. Sensing that something troubling had happened, I headed for home.

On my way into my building, I was stopped by a harmless, mentally-impaired man, a street regular in our neighborhood. With a frantic look, he stuttered out, "Did you hear? The Arabs have attacked!" Then he said it again. "The Arabs" was what I heard as I headed for my apartment, hoping he was wrong. What could he know? I thought, only half-convinced.

By midday, of course, everyone was talking about the Muslims, the Arabs, the Middle Eastern terrorists. I remained in my room, avoiding suspicious neighborhood eyes, watching the Twin Towers crumble again and again on screen. I had lived in the United States for years, but already I feared I had somehow become an outsider -- a suspected outsider. I feared the start of a witch-hunt against people who looked like me. Some of my American friends, who had the same fears, called offering, for instance, to drive me to work the next day. "Nobody will bother you if you're with me," said one. "Stay here with us and you won't have to drive at all," said another who lived near the college where I taught economics.

Long before September 11, I had decided to write a book about the journey of millions of desperate migrants seeking in the West a life free of violence and poverty. The attacks of September 11th narrowed my focus to Muslim migrants who were now regarded as potential terrorists and a threat to national security. As the months passed and the President's "war on terror" began, I prepared for a long eastward journey of my own in order to follow Muslim migrants west in search of new homes. Expecting to be away for at least two years, I visited Quebec in May 2002 to say farewell to friends.

Early on a Saturday morning, bidding my friends in Quebec goodbye, I drove towards the U.S. border less than an hour away. Lining up behind the other cars, I reached over and unzipped the side pocket of my knapsack, got my American passport out, checked all my documents, and slowly approached passport control. A middle-aged woman with short blond hair and a blank face took my passport.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Racial Violence Erupts in Sydney, Australia Suburbs

Riotous assembly … a mob assaults a man with beer bottles at North Cronulla yesterday. By last night, youths of Middle Eastern background were out for revenge, which included vandalising more than 100 cars at Maroubra.
Photo: Andrew Meares

Racial violence reared its ugly head again, this time in several Sydney, Australia suburbs. Caucasian Australians violently clashed with those of Lebanese, Middle Eastern and Aboriginal origins. The violence followed a week of simmering tension after an attack the previous Sunday on two lifesavers.

Race riots spread to suburbs
By Les Kennedy, Damien Murphy, Malcolm Brown and Tim Colquhoun
December 12, 2005

RACIAL violence erupted in several Sydney suburbs last night in retaliation for a rampage by thousands of young residents through Cronulla that turned the seaside suburb into a battlefield.

Political, community and religious leaders joined stunned locals to condemn an afternoon of violence by a crowd that turned on people of Middle Eastern appearance and those trying to protect them, with police and ambulance officers also attacked.

Click here to read rest of this Sydney Morning Herald article

Thugs ruled the streets, and the mob sang Waltzing Matilda
December 12, 2005
Damien Murphy describes what he saw in the middle of the Cronulla violence.

"Yesterday's violence had been brewing for months. It came to a head last weekend when some Lebanese Australian men attacked members of the North Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club after they asked the visitors to stop playing soccer because it was disturbing other beach users."

BARECHESTED youth in Quiksilver boardshorts tore the headscarf off the girl's head as she slithered down the Cronulla dune seeking safety on the beach from a thousand-strong baying mob.

Up on the road, Marcus "Carcass" Butcher, 28, a builder from Penrith, wearing workboots, war-camouflage shorts and black singlet bearing the words "Mahommid was a camel f---ing faggot" raised both arms to the sky. "F--- off, Leb," he cried victoriously.

It was one last act of cowardly violence on a sad and shameful day that began as a beach party celebrating a kind of perverted nationalism that was gatecrashed by racism.

Click here to read rest of this Sydney Morning Herald article

Bloggers of Ontario Unite!

[ Prev 5 | Prev | Next | Next 5 | Random | List | Join ]