Friday, November 17, 2006

Tomgram: Will Daddy's Boys Extend the War?

No Exit?

What It Means to "Salvage U.S. Prestige" in Iraq
By Tom Engelhardt

Things are always complicated. In the Washington Post, for instance, James Mann, author of Rise of the Vulcans recently suggested that it was far "too simplistic" to claim "the appointment of Robert M. Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld [represents] the triumph of Bush the Father's administration over Bush the Son's."

Still, I prefer the analysis of Washington Post reporter (and author of Fiasco) Thomas Ricks. When asked by the Post's media columnist Howard Kurtz whether a Newsweek headline, "Father knows best," was just "an easy, cheap Oedipal way for the press to characterize what's going on," Ricks replied: "Well, just because it's easy and cheap doesn't mean it's wrong."

At a moment when every version of the dramatic arrival of James A. Baker III and Robert Gates on the scene -- and the scuttling of Rumsfeld's Titanic -- is at least suspect, it's still worth considering the bare bones of what can be seen and known -- and then asking what we have.

Sooner or later, failure has a way of stripping most of us of our dreams and pretensions. So let's start with a tiny history of failure. George W. Bush's life trajectory of failing upward has had a rhythm to it -- and a rubric, "crony capitalism." Daddy's friends and contacts helped him into and -- after he failed -- out of the oil business, into and out of the baseball business, into and now, it seems, out of the failed game of global politics. His is, as the Boston Globe's Michael Kranish and John Aloysius Farrell put it back in 2002, "the story of a man who struck out numerous times before being bailed out by big hitters who often were family members, friends, or supporters of his father."

It's appropriate, then, that the man who bailed him out in Florida when he essentially lost the presidency in 2000, Bush family consigliere James A. Baker III, would reappear six years later, in the wake of another failed election, to bail him out again now that he's screwed up the oil heartlands of the planet. Daddy -- we're talking here about former President George H.W. Bush -- has three adopted boys: His former National Security Advisor (and alter ego) Brent Scowcroft, who went into opposition to the younger Bush's Iraq policy even before the invasion of 2003 and now lurks quietly in the wings; his former CIA Director Robert Gates; and Baker.

Like Daddy, Gates was deeply involved in, but never indicted for his dealings in the scurrilous Iran-Contra affair; was later involved in the tilt toward and arming of Saddam's Iraq against Khomeini's Iran, pioneered fertile territory in the late 1980s in terms of manipulating intelligence in the debate over the nature of Gorbachev's Soviet Union, had a hand in the first Gulf War, and most recently held the presidency of Texas A&M, where he was the keeper of the flame for Daddy's library. Could you ask for a better insider CV for taking over the Pentagon from one of Bush elder's rivals in the Gerald Ford era, Donald Rumsfeld.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

DN!: A Debate on Withdrawal//Iraq Reconstruction Corruption

Democracy Now! 10th Anniversary Tour and launch of Amy and
David Goodman's second book STATIC: Government Liars, Media
Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back.
11/16 Stony Brook, NY
11/18 Miami, FL
11/19 Washington, DC
For more tour details and dates, visit
= = = = = = = = =
* Out of Iraq or More Troops? A Debate on Withdrawal with Fmr. Senator
George McGovern, Congressman Dennis Kucinich and AEI's Joshua Muravchik *
As leading Democrats call on President Bush to soon begin withdrawing U.S.
troops from Iraq some Republicans are calling on more troops to be deployed.
We host a debate on the issue with former Democratic presidential candidate
and South Dakota senator, George McGovern, Ohio Congressmember Dennis
Kucinich and the American Enterprise Institute's Joshua Muravchik.
* Battle Brewing in Congress as Bush Admin Seeks Closure of Iraq
Reconstruction Corruption Monitor *
A new battle is brewing in Congress over how the US government monitors the
billions of dollars it spends on the reconstruction of Iraq. Leading
Congressional Republicans recently passed legislation that would close the
Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The special
agency has uncovered several cases of waste and abuse, and has helped indict
several American officials on charges of corruption.
* Headlines for November 15, 2006 *
- US Accused of Killing 30 Iraqis in Ramadi
- Iraq: 40 Hostages Released from Baghdad Education Min.
- US Soldier to Plead Guilty in Iraq Rape, Murder Case
- Israeli Killed by Palestinian Rocket
- Mexican Protesters Target Wal-Mart
- South African Parliament OKs Gay Marriage
- Abramoff Begins Prison Sentence
= = = = = = = = =
Democracy Now!'s daily news summaries are now available in Spanish:
Read Wednesday, November 15, 2006:
To subscribe to these "Titulares de Hoy" by email, send a blank message
= = = = = = = = =
Thursday, November 16, 2006:
* Argentinian human rights activist and torture survivor Patricia Isasa
joins us in our firehouse studio
= = = = = = = = =
* Amy Goodman Launches Weekly Column *
Ask your newspaper to carry it!
Amy Goodman has a new nationally syndicated weekly newspaper column called
³Breaking the Sound Barrier.² Ask your local newspaper to carry it today! If
you'd like to see the column in your paper, call, write a letter, or send an
email to the Op-Ed editor. The paper should contact King Features.
Read her first column, which appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Amy's column this week is the election of the first socialist to the U.S.
Senate, Bernie Sanders. Ask your paper to carry it.
= = = = = = = = =
Amy and David Goodman and the DN! team are on tour. Visit for more information.
Forward tour dates to your friends & family!
11/16 Stony Brook, NY
11/18 Miami, FL
11/19 Washington, DC
12/05 Hewlett, NY
12/07 New York, NY
01/11 Memphis, TN
02/10 Melbourne, FL
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* New stations broadcasting Democracy Now! *
Community Radio Hamilton 1206 AM and 106.7 FM in Hamilton, New Zealand
is now airing Democracy Now! on Mondays at 3 p.m.
KUCO-TV Ch. 6 at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond is now
airing Democracy Now! at 2 p.m., 6 p.m and 11 p.m.
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* New stations broadcasting "Los Titulares de Hoy" (Democracy Now!'s daily
news summary in Spanish) *
Custodia Estereo 102.1, a Radio Station situated in Puerto Inirida, the
Colombian border with Venezuela and Brasil, is broadcasting DN!es from
Monday to Friday at Noon, and on Sunday they are doing a review of the most
important news of the week.
Radio Pachamama in El Alto, La Paz Bolivia, broadcast Spanish Headlines at 6
PM, 10 PM, and 6 AM M-F,
La Voz de Suyapa, 910 AM, airs Spanish HL on the ACONTECER INFORMATIVO
program 7:40 - 8:30 am M-F in Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Radio Santa Rosa, 1300 AM, in Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras airs Spanish
headlines on HOJEANDO LOS PERIODICOS Y ALGO MAS (Paging through the Papers
and a Bit more) at noon, M-F
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NEW FEATURE: Democracy Now! now offers high-quality MPEG-4 video files for
download through the BitTorrent protocol. To learn more, see or get started at
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Now available as a "podcast"! Get the Democracy Now! daily show
automatically downloaded to your computer or portable audio player. Visit to see how.
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Are you a professor, teacher, student, community organizer or home educator
who uses the Democracy Now! (DN!) program as a teaching tool? Do you use the
on line DN! search engine for content about a specific subject? Do you show
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We are gathering information to offer DN! as a resource to educational
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us by writing to (please include your contact info):
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Help promote DEMOCRACY NOW! by handing out fliers at events, such as film
screenings and lectures. Don't leave home without it!
For information on 'The Exception to the Rulers' and a complete schedule of
tour cities, go to:
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Democracy Now! airs on over 420 radio and TV stations, including
Pacifica, NPR, community, and college radio stations; on public
access, PBS, satellite TV stations (DISH network: Free Speech TV
ch. 9415 and Link TV ch. 9410; DIRECTV: Link TV ch. 375); on the World
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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Toronto: Six Nations Benefit Concert, Dec. 1st

The Humanist Centre of Cultures and Songwriters Unite

featuring Bob Wiseman!

Friday December 1st - 8pm
NOW Lounge
189 Church St.
$12 door
$10 door with a camp donation (see website for more

Bob Wiseman, and various singer-songwriters from Songwriters Unite, playing great music to raise funds for the Six Nations reclamation camp in Caledonia.

- background -

Since February 28, 2006, the Six Nations have maintained a camp at Kanenhstaton, in Caledonia, where developers had begun building on their traditional land. This land was given to Six Nations in the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 and was never sold.

Negotiations with Fed and Prov representatives are ongoing (and slow). Until full control over the land is given back to Six Nations, they have vowed to stay on the site. Winter is coming, and the costs to run the camp increase.

What's happening in Caledonia is much more than just a local issue. It's an issue of human rights. It's about trying to put a stop to the historical wrongs perpetrated by our past Canadian governments. It's about people standing up, people who have been the victim of too much violence, for too long. It's about reconciling with one of the many Nations in Canada, so that we may all, native and non-native, move into the future together in peace.

Support the cause, hear some great music, and enjoy a great night out!

[The Humanist Centre of Cultures is a project of the Humanist Movement, working against discrimination and all types of violence, promoting dialogue between all
cultures, and emphasizing the common humanist roots within them. ]

[Songwriters Unite! is a collective of over 400 songwriters run by Russell Leon. For more information, please visit]

Tomgram: Klare, Bush Goes Over to Imperial Defense

In September 2002, Arab League head Amr Mussa warned that an invasion of Iraq would "open the gates of Hell" in the Middle East. Four years later, with those gates -- at least in Iraq -- open wide enough to drive a tank through, the look of the Bush administration is suddenly in rapid flux. (The neocons, having ushered in Hell, are being ushered out the door; while the first President Bush's "realists" and their followers are heading in.) Given the nominee to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the Gates of Hell may soon have a new meaning. Right now, despite all the anticipation about future Iraq policy changes, the good news that accompanies the nomination of former CIA Director (and, as president of Texas A&M, keeper of the Bush family flame) Robert Gates has little to do with Iraq and lots to do with Iran.

In these early post-election days, the Iran rhetoric at the White House has, in fact, remained at the boiling point. As last week ended, White House spokesman Tony Snow labeled Iran and Hezbollah a "global nexus of terrorism." (Paul Woodward, editor of the War in Context website, commented: "The administration is no longer served by playing to the Christian Right, so its out with religious ‘evil' and in with a much more sophisticated, secular, and no doubt bi-partisan, "global nexus of terrorism.") Then, on Monday, the President himself, in a press briefing with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, called for the global "isolation" of Iran and essentially rejected an opening of any sort to that country. ("[I]f the Iranians want to have a dialogue with us, we have shown them a way forward, and that is for them to verify -- verifiably suspend their enrichment activities.").

None of this sounds like good news; but, despite the rhetoric, the Gates appointment certainly lessens the possibility of an air assault on Iranian nuclear facilities early next year (as well as any campaign to "decapitate" the Iranian regime). This had clearly been one of the (mad) policy options that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were entertaining.

Like James A. Baker, co-head of the Iraq Study Group, Gates believes in negotiating with Iran. In the summer of 2004, with former Carter National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, he co-chaired a task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations that argued for opening a dialogue with Iran. Its report, "Iran: Time for a New Approach," contended that the lack of American engagement with Iran had harmed American interests and advocated direct talks with the Iranians. ("Just as the United States has a constructive relationship with China [and earlier did so with the Soviet Union] while strongly opposing certain aspects of its internal and international policies, Washington should approach Iran with a readiness to explore areas of common interests while continuing to contest objectionable policy.")

In addition, Gates -- like Baker one of Daddy Bush's boys -- has clearly been brought in to help clean up Sonny's Iraq mess. Being sane and hard-headed, he knows perfectly well that stirring up a hornet's nest in neighboring Iran is hardly a way to tackle the almost insurmountable Iraqi crisis.

Gates offers another advantage for those who prefer not to go to war again. The American high command (despite the fantasies of some administration critics) would never refuse a direct order from the commander-in-chief to bomb the gates of Hell out of Iran. However, a civilian Secretary of Defense (whose reputation is at stake) might. So the replacement of Rumsfeld is also significant in this way.

Throw in a new Democratic Congress that, as Juan Cole has written, is less likely to grant the necessary funds for such a war (though Time's Tony Karon at his Rootless Cosmopolitan website disagrees), and you have the potential for a genuine ebbing of tensions in the one area where the rash acts for which the Bush administration is by now well known could literally wreck the global economy in a matter of days. For this, a small sigh of relief is in order. Now, let Michael Klare, author of the ever more relevant book Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum, explain the larger picture. Tom

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Tomgram: Chernus on Apple Pie, Mom, and a Story for a Lost War

Here we are just days beyond the strange event that passes for an election in our country. Election Day now turns out to be just the almost-last step in a grueling season of serial elections called "opinion polls," whose fluctuations are meant to tell us ahead of time how we are likely to vote. That trip to your local polling booth is then followed by another kind of voting process called the "exit poll," a series of tea leaves that, when read right, will interpret our vote for us. In the meantime, who even notices that last Tuesday's actual election was attended -- and this was considered high indeed for a midterm event -- by only 40.4% of the voters. In other words, 59.6% of American voters settled up for the serial elections -- or for Lost and Desperate Housewives -- instead.

For all the writing about extreme gerrymandering, scurrilous campaign ads, voter suppression, and voter fraud (and, as far as we can tell, there was enough of all of the above to make you wonder what the real vote might have been), isn't that 59.6% the mega-voter-suppression story of our time. It's a different kind of suppression, of course; it's everything that politicians, their advisors, and a larger culture does to convince Americans who could vote that their vote, or the actual act of voting, simply doesn't matter -- or alternately that the result of even a vote that did matter, in terms of electing a specific politician, would have no effect whatsoever on their lives (or ours). It brings to mind the question: What if you had a democracy and nobody came?

As it happens, you can search your newspapers and the TV news almost in vain for the majority "exit polls," those that told us about the thinking of all the Americans who never entered a polling booth or who, long ago, headed for the exits. At least, thanks to the exit polls (and other studies), we'll know something about those 55% of Catholic voters who went Democratic this time, reversing the 2004 election; or about the lessening "God gap" the Democrats face among "weekly churchgoers." But we'll hear little or nothing about the Catholics or weekly churchgoers who stayed home, or why they did so, or what they think.

In the meantime, Ira Chernus turns to the election we did have and what to make of it, what stories we're telling about it, and what other stories could be told. Think of this, to appropriate the title of a classic children's tale, as the neverending story, one all of us, including that 59.6%, can still help to tell. A Tomdispatch regular and generally canny guy, Chernus knows the importance of a good yarn. In fact, he's just written a book, which I recommend, about the tales the neocons and the Bush administration fed us all on the endless road to war, Monsters to Destroy, The Neoconservative War on Terror and Sin. Tom

The Unfinished Story of Election 2006

We Get to Choose the Ending
By Ira Chernus

Election statistics are like pies. You can slice them up any way you want. And the way you slice them depends on the tool you use. My favorite tool is a nugget of wisdom from Democratic political guru Stanley Greenberg: "A narrative is the key to everything." The party that tells the best story wins. And the recipe for a winning story is simple: Take a few handfuls of fact, throw in a large dollop of fiction, and stir.

But the story of the 2006 election isn't over yet. It's like one of those movies on DVD with several alternative endings. You get to choose the one you want.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Tomgram: Doug Troutman, A Veteran's Day Memorial

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, an armistice was signed that ended World War I, the first great bloodletting of the twentieth century, "the war to end all wars" that proved but the prelude to World War II. Now, here we are at the 11th day of the 11th month of the sixth year of the twenty-first century and another great bloodletting is underway that, despite the recent electoral thumpin' of the Bush administration and the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, has no end in sight. In Iraq, 2,839 American troops have already died, tens of thousands have been wounded, and unknown hundreds of thousands of Iraqis -- military, insurgent, and civilian -- have been killed in every grim and bloody way possible.

The Iraqi killing fields are far from us here in the United States and, as yet, almost completely unmemorialized. Even to get a sense of the carnage is hard, but the website now does a remarkable, if grim, daily job of collating at least what's reported. It puts out a running tally of the dead each day -- including of those nameless bodies found en masse, particularly in the Iraqi capital. ("In the greater Baghdad area, 29 bodies, probable victims of sectarian violence, were discovered late Tuesday into Wednesday…")

Each of these reports in its own quiet, understated way is heartrending. Wednesday's was headlined, "2 GI's, 199 Iraqis Killed or Reported Dead; 3 GIs, 137 wounded." And yet these tallies in words -- which can't account for all the dead who go eternally unreported -- are incapable of catching the anguish of those who cared for the dead or of tallying what the loss of valuable lives cut short means to two countries. How do you take in the American soldier killed Wednesday "in the same incident in Kirkuk Province," or the 8 Iraqis whose deaths in a vast Baghdad slum were relegated to this single sentence: "Mortars killed eight people and wounded 20 when they fell on a Sadr City district soccer game"; or the unnamed duo in this one: "A roadside bomb near a house in Iskandariya killed a man and his 13-year old son."

If only this Veteran's Day were another Armistice Day. Instead, there will be one of those terrible running tallies from Iraq at this Saturday, too. Doug Troutman, a veteran of the Vietnam War (whose son is now a veteran of the Iraq War), worked in the postwar years for the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, and has visited many of the bloody fields of battle of our own history. This is his memorial for the dead this Veteran's Day. Tom

Reenacting War

Reflections on a Country Losing Its Humanity
By Doug Troutman

I've never dealt well with Veterans Day. Perhaps it's because I knew too many men whose names appear on a black wall in Washington D.C.

In Vietnam, letters often took weeks to arrive from home, but technology has changed much about war. My son could telephone or email me instantaneously from Baghdad.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Tomgram: Plebiscite on an Outlaw Empire

Outlaw Empire Meets the Wave

5 Questions for Our Future
By Tom Engelhardt

The wave -- and make no mistake, it's a global one -- has just crashed on our shores, soaking our imperial masters. It's a sight for sore eyes.

It's been a long time since we've seen an election like midterm 2006. After all, it's a truism of our politics that Americans are almost never driven to the polls by foreign-policy issues, no less by a single one that dominates everything else, no less by a catastrophic war (and the presidential approval ratings that go with it). This strange phenomenon has been building since the moment, in May 2003, that George W. Bush stood under that White-House-prepared "Mission Accomplished" banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared "major combat operations have ended."

That "Top Gun" stunt -- when a cocky President helped pilot an S-3B Viking sub reconnaissance Naval jet onto a carrier deck and emerged into the golden glow of "magic hour light" (as his handlers then called it) -- was meant to give him the necessary victory photos to launch his 2004 presidential reelection campaign. As it turned out, that moment was but the first "milestone" on the path to Iraqi, and finally electoral, hell. Within mere months, those photos would prove useless for anyone but liberal bloggers. By now, they seem like artifacts from another age. On the way to the present "precipice" (or are we already over the edge?), there have been other memorable "milestones" -- from the President's July 2003 petulant "bring ‘em on" taunt to Iraq's then forming insurgency to the Vice President's June 2005 "last throes" gaffe. All such statements have, by now, turned to dust in American mouths.

In the context of the history of great imperial powers, how remarkably quickly this has happened. An American President, ruling the last superpower on this or any other planet, and his party have been driven willy-nilly into global and domestic retreat a mere three-plus years after launching the invasion of their dreams, the one that was meant to start them on the path to controlling the planet -- and by one of the more ragtag minority rebellions imaginable. I'm speaking here, of course, of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, of perhaps 15,000 relatively lightly armed rebels whose main weapons have been the roadside bomb and the sniper's bullet. What a grim, bizarre spectacle it's been.

The Fall of the New Rome

But let's back up a moment. After such an election, a bit of history, however quick and potted, is in order -- in this case of the post-Cold War era of U.S. supremacy, now seemingly winding down. In the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, to be followed by the relatively violence-free collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a brief moment of conceptual paralysis among leadership elites in this country, none of whom had even imagined the loss of the "Evil Empire" (in President Ronald Reagan's famous Star Wars-ian phrase) until it suddenly, miraculously evaporated. In this forgotten moment, we even heard hopeful mutterings about a "peace dividend" that would take all the extra military money that obviously was no longer needed to defend against a missing superpower and use it to rebuild America.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

The Blood on Canada's Corporate Doorstep: War Profiteer L-3 Wescam

When Mass Murder Starts in Your Own Backyard:
Wescam, L-3 Communications Canada, and The Blood on Canada's Corporate Doorstep

It appears that Canadian technology built in Burlington, Ontario, contributed to another cowardly act of mass murder from the skies last month. Some 80 Pakistani school kids, most under the age of 15, were murdered October 30 when, according to numerous on-the-ground reports, an unmanned U.S. Predator drone, employing a targetting device designed and
manufactured at Burlington's L-3 Wescam, shot a Hellfire missile into the students' school.

The destructive power of a Hellfire hitting your local school is best illustrated by the fact that Hellfires are meant to slice through heavily armoured tanks. The rationale used for the attack was that a "bad guy," a "legitimate target," was in the area, and that if civilians don't
want to get hurt, they should just stay away from bad guys. It is no small irony that Wescam, which might be considered a legitimate military target or bad guy by any country at war with Canada, is located right next door to an elementary school.

The October 30 missile strike was another illegal act in the endless wars (the Hague Convention's Article 25 states: "The attack or bombardment of towns, villages, habitations or buildings which are not defended, is prohibited."). Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, to name a
few, are simply, like Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and so many others before them, testing labs for warfare, and all the new hi-tech gimmickry coming out of the "aerospace" market is being honed and refined "in theatre," as the generals like to say.


And what of those murdered kids? As then White House deputy counter-terrorism director Roger Cressey told UPI in 2001: "We are going to make mistakes. We are even going to kill the wrong people sometimes. That's the inherent risk of an aggressive counter-terrorism program."
This latest atrocity, a mere blip on the radar screen of the so-called "western" media, provides one more compelling reason for folks in Ontario to attend the November 20 rally, street theatre, and nonviolent civil disobedience at the entrance to L-3 Wescam. Like previous rallies
over the past four years, demonstrators wish to share evidence of what Wescam technology does when it's put to its intended use.

Burlington police recently told Homes not Bombs organizers that Wescam executives have been ordered by their corporate masters at L-3 Communications in New York to refuse our request for dialogue. A refusal to speak with us, however, will not deter us from trying to bring evidence of war crimes complicity to the front door of Burlington's biggest war manufacturer.

Evidence of the October 30 attack would not represent the first time that the blood of Afghanis or Iraqis could be laid at Wescam's doorstep. On February 4, 2002, a Predator drone fired a Hellfire missile at "three tall men" believed to be Al Qaeda members because they were wearing
long robes. Despite Pentagon insistence that the men were "suspected militants," they were in fact poor folks scavenging for metal. The Afghan Islamic Press identified the three dead men as Munir Ahmad, Jehangir Khan and Daraz Khan. "They were standing and chatting when hit by the missile," said village elders. Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clark, when confronted with that reality, stated: "We're convinced that it was an appropriate target...[although] we do not yet know exactly who it was."

According to Professor Marc Herold -- who has diligently documented the kinds of atrocities the Pentagon would just as soon forget -- on May 6, 2002, a Predator fired a Lockheed missile at a convoy of cars in Kunar province, seeking to assassinate an Afghan "warlord," but succeeded only in destroying a school and killing at least 10 nearby civilians.


Perhaps most famously, the U.S. carried out an extrajudicial execution using Wescam technology when six "suspected extremists" were blown to bits while driving in Yemen in November, 2002. There were no arrests, no charges, no trial, no appeal. Just silence, then death. U.S., officials have admitted that on other occasions the Predator has been used
to attack people mistakenly thought to be Osama bin Laden.

In an age when concepts like international law are viewed as an antiquated nuisance for those who would wage war, such incidents are becoming quite common.

On January 31, 2006, Amnesty International wrote a letter of protest to George W. Bush "to express its concern that between 13 and 18 people were killed on 13 January 2006," when Hellfire missiles were fired into three houses in Damadola in Bajaur Agency from an unmanned Predator drone probably operated by the CIA. As per usual, the excuse for the terrorist bombing was that a high-ranking Al-Qaeda official was "in the area." In the related press release, Amnesty International said it was concerned that a pattern of killings carried out with these weapons appeared "to reflect a US government policy condoning extrajudicial
executions. Amnesty International reiterated to the US President that extrajudicial executions are strictly prohibited under international human rights law. Anyone accused of an offence, however serious, has the right to be presumed innocent unless proven guilty and to have their guilt or innocence established in a regular court of law in a fair trial." Amnesty also pointed out that "the fact that air surveillance, witnessed by local people, took place for several days before the attack indicates that those ordering the attack on the basis of this information were very likely to have been aware of the presence of women and children and others unconnected with political violence in the area of the attack."


While hundreds upon hundreds of Canadian companies are reaping huge profits by enabling the murder of human beings in these testing grounds for war (supplying everything from the bullets, machine guns, and grenade launchers to the base material for depleted uranium bullets and light-armoured vehicles), L-3 Communications Canada (Wescam's parent) was
recently named the #1 military firm by the Canadian Defence Review.

L-3, which has grown into one of the largest weapons firms in the world, plays a major role in all parts of the so-called war on terror: interdiction of refugees seeking safety, supply of interrogation teams implicated in torture of Iraqi detainees, provision of the tools ofrepression utilized by police to smash demonstrations, and key components for major weapons systems.

Here in Canada, two of those major systems rely on L-3 Canada technology: the unmanned aerial vehicle Predator, and the Stryker Light Armoured Vehicle.

According to the U.S. Air Force's strategic vision planning document, the future of warfare is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, naming the Predator as a system that "evolved into a formidable combat support and was involved in every major military operation" between 1996
and 2004. Armed with Hellfire missiles, the Predator is described as "one of the military's most requested systems, assisting in the execution of the global war on terror by finding, fixing, tracking, targeting, engaging, and assessing suspected terrorist locations." The UAV is viewed as "a major component of the Army Future Combat System," especially since unmanned vehicles mean increased air time, hovering time, and an ability to operate in "environments contaminated by chemical, biological, or radioactive agents." The Pentagon admits that
politically, using UAV's piloted with video screens based on the US cuts the domestic cost created by bodies coming home.

"Arming the RQ-1 Predator with Hellfire missiles can be compared to the mounting of guns on biplanes early in the last century," gushes the Air Force document.


L-3 Canada has also taken over the old Rexdale, Ontario, Litton plant, infamous for 1980s cruise missile production. Now called L-3 Electronic Systems, the division is currently manufacturing for General Dynamics Land Systems multiple assemblies for the Stryker Brigade Combat Team (BCT)."

General Dynamics describes the Stryker as "the Army's highest-priority production combat vehicle program and the centerpiece of the ongoing Army Transformation.... Stryker is an eight-wheel armored vehicle that is changing the way warfare is conducted on the battlefield....Stryker is an essential element of the Army's effort to transform itself into a
more agile, deployable, survivable and lethal force....Stryker fulfills an immediate requirement to equip a strategically deployable and operationally deployable brigade capable of rapid movement anywhere on the globe in a combat-ready configuration."

So while a majority of Canadians oppose the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is little doubt that they will continue until we confront the economic engine that is driving these wars, the corporations that make a living from killing (along with the many other tentacles of the war
complex, from recruiting in schools to the investment of public pension funds in war profiteers).
The workers at these factories need not lose their jobs. War must become as socially unacceptable as smoking. Both are profitable, and both kill. But now that smoking has been recognized for the grave health hazard it poses (along with huge health care bills), governments now subsidize farmers who used to grow tobacco to plant something else. And so it can be
in the hi-tech sector --instead of pumping billions into bombs, why not provide funding to transform their operations, so that the warlords of the world, from General Hillier on down, are forced to disarm and seek nonviolent means of conflict resolution? One step in that process is continued pressure on corporations like L-3. Please consider joining us for the demonstration November 20. If you cannot make it, drop a line to Wescam President John Dehne, urging that he meet with Homes not Bombs representatives to transform his business. His fax is (905) 633-4100, or send an email from the following site:
(report from Matthew Behrens of Homes not Bombs)

UN special rapporteur about Saddam Hussein's trial and verdict


Press Release


6 November 2006

Leandro Despouy, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, issued the following statement today:

A day after the Iraqi High Tribunal ended its first trial of Saddam Hussein and sentenced him to death by hanging, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Leandro Despouy, reiterates his strong objections regarding the conduct of the trial and expresses his concern about the consequences this judgment may have over the situation in Iraq and in the region.

The following are among the main objections of the Special Rapporteur:

· The restricted personal jurisdiction of the tribunal, which enables it only to try Iraqis.
· Its limited temporal jurisdiction. The competence of the tribunal does include neither the war crimes committed by foreign troops during the first Gulf war (1990), nor the war crimes committed after 1 May 2003, date of the beginning of the occupation.
· Its doubtful legitimacy and credibility. The tribunal has been established during an occupation considered by many as illegal, is composed of judges who have been selected during this occupation, including non Iraqi citizens, and has been mainly financed by the United States.
· The fact that the Statute of 10 December 2003 contains advanced provisions of international criminal law which are to be applied in combination with an outdated Iraqi legislation, which allows the death penalty.
· The negative impact of the violence and the insecurity prevailing in the course of the trial and in the country. Since its beginning one of the judges, five candidate judges, three defence lawyers and an employee of the tribunal have been killed. Moreover, another employee of the tribunal has been seriously injured.
· Finally, and most importantly, the lack of observance of a legal framework that conforms to international human rights principles and standards, in particular the right to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal which upholds the right to a defence.

The Special Rapporteur welcomes the determination of the Iraqi Government to sanction the main authors of the atrocities committed during three decades in the country and its will to see the trial take place in Iraq. At the same time, he deems it essential that this will be expressed through a trial conducted by an independent tribunal, legitimately established, acting in absolute transparency and providing all guarantees for a fair trial, in accordance with international human rights standards. If those conditions are not fulfilled, the verdict of the Iraqi High Tribunal, far from contributing to the institutional credibility of Iraq and the rule of law, risks being seen as the expression of the verdict of the winners over the losers.

The Special Rapporteur urges the Iraqi authorities not to carry out the death sentences imposed, as their application would represent a serious legal setback for the country and would be in open contradiction to the growing international tendency to abolish the death penalty, as demonstrated by the increasing number of ratifications of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.

It is clear that the verdict and its possible application will contribute deepen the armed violence and the political and religious polarization in Iraq, bringing with it the almost certain risk that the crisis will spread to the entire region.

The trial of Saddam Hussein has a particular significance not only for the thousands of victims in Iraq but also for its symbolism in the fight against impunity throughout the world. In this context, the Special Rapporteur reiterates its proposal for the establishment of an independent, impartial and international tribunal with all the necessary guarantees to enable it to receive the support of the United Nations, and which will take advantage of the rich experience acquired by other international tribunals. Since the present verdict is subject to appeal, it opens the possibility to consider the establishment of such an international tribunal which can guarantee a fair trial, either by reopening the present trial or by dealing with the appellate stage. This should be done with urgency, to attenuate the negative impact this verdict already started to produce in Iraq and the proliferation of violence in the region. Another reason for the establishment of such a tribunal is that the current trial is only a stage in a larger judicial process, since it only examines seven charges, which include genocide and crime against humanity, amongst the numerous ones attributed to Saddam Hussein and his close collaborators.

Law Groups Launch second torture prosecution in Germany against U.S. officials


Sunday, November 12, 2006


No state has the right to violate the universal prohibition on torture for any purpose, and all officials who authorize, direct, or execute torture or fail to prevent torture must be prosecuted. All states, including Germany, that are signatory to the Convention against Torture are legally bound—a duty owed to all human kind--to prevent and punish all torture wherever, against whomever and by whoever committed.

Evidence indicates that the torture used at Guantanámo Bay and Abu Ghraib was planned, authorized, and directed by the U.S. President, the Secretary of Defense and other high ranking officials. In the face of overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence of torture coupled with evidence that the U.S. administration will not prosecute, Germany must act to investigate and prosecute those responsible. To do otherwise would make Germany complicit in future torture by U.S. officials and in the denial of remedies for victims.


Lawyers Against the War (LAW) joins in calling on Germany to investigate and prosecute Donald Rumsfeld and other high-ranking U.S. officials for torture. The complaint, to be filed in Berlin on Monday November 13th2006 by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-complainants, names as defendants the architects and directors of the widespread, well reported system of torture used in prisons outside the U.S. against non-U.S. citizens; torture that has continued unabated and unpunished for almost five years and has resulted in many deaths.

In November 2004, LAW joined CCR, The Republican Attorneys and Lawyers Association (RAV) and The International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) in filing a similar criminal complaint in Germany. The German prosecutor dismissed the 2004 complaint on the basis of no ‘indications’ that the U.S. would not prosecute the U.S. officials named by that complaint. LAW again joins in bringing the November 2006 complaint based on new evidence that the U.S. will not prosecute high ranking officials.

The extensive brief filed in support of the November 2004 complaint gave Germany notice of the crimes and the involvement of the alleged perpetrators. The November 2006 brief now puts before the German prosecutor incontrovertible evidence that systematic torture by U.S. officials continues and that the U.S. administration will not authorize the prosecution of those in command.

The named defendants in the November 2006 complaint are:

· · former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,

· · former CIA Director George Tenet,

· · Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Dr. Stephen Cambone,

· · Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez,

· · Major General Walter Wojdakoski,

· · Major General Geoffrey Miller,

· · Colonel Thomas Pappas,

· · former chief White House counsel (and current U.S. Attorney General) Alberto R. Gonzales,

· · former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee,

· · former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo,

· · General Counsel of the Department of Defense William James Haynes II,

· · Vice-Presidential Chief Counsel David S. Addington,

Co-plaintiffs in the 2006 request for investigation and prosecution by Germany are: CCR, RAV, FIDH, LAW, The International Peace Bureau, The National Lawyer’ Guild, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, European Democratic Lawyers, European Democratic Jurists, The Palestinian Center for Human Rights and Veterans for Peace.


LAW laid criminal charges against George W. Bush in Canada for aiding, abetting and counselling torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanámo Bay. These charges, laid in November 2004 under Criminal Code provisions enacted when Canada ratified the Convention against Torture, were rejected in September 2006 by the B.C. Court of Appeal on the grounds that the Attorney General of Canada had not consented to the prosecution. The charges were not rejected on the basis that the torture alleged had not occurred or that George W. Bush was not responsible.

LAW is a committee of jurists and others from fourteen countries who oppose war, promote adherence to international law and oppose impunity for violators.


Gail Davidson, LAW Chair

+1 738 0338

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