VATICAN CITY, JUNE 2, 2003 - Here is the address John Paul II delivered today when receiving the letters of credence of Oded Ben-Hur, the new Israeli ambassador to the Holy See.
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I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence appointing you Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Israel to the Holy See. Your presence here today is a testimony to our common desire to work together to build a world of peace and security, not only in Israel and the Middle East, but in every part of the globe, for all peoples everywhere. This is a task which we undertake not alone but with the whole international community: indeed, perhaps unlike any time in the past, the entire human family today feels the urgent need to overcome violence and terror, to expunge intolerance and fanaticism, to usher in an era of justice, reconciliation and harmony among individuals, groups and nations.
This need is probably nowhere more acutely felt than in the Holy Land. There is absolutely no question that peoples and nations have the inherent right to live in security. This right, however, entails a corresponding duty: to respect the right of others. Therefore, just as violence and terror can never be an acceptable means for making political statements, neither can retaliation ever lead to a just and lasting peace. Acts of terrorism are always to be condemned as true crimes against humanity (cf. Message for the 2002 World Day of Peace, 4). Every State has the undeniable right to defend itself against terrorism, but this right must always be exercised with respect for moral and legal limits in its ends and means (cf. ibid., 5).
Like other members of the international community, and fully supporting the role and efforts of the larger family of nations in helping to resolve the crisis in the Middle East, the Holy See is convinced that the present conflict will be resolved only when there are two independent and sovereign States. As I said earlier this year to the Diplomatic Corps: "Two peoples, Israeli and Palestinian, are called to live side-by-side, equally free and sovereign, in mutual respect" (Speech to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 13 January 2003, 4). It is essential that both parties give clear signs of their determined commitment to bring this peaceful coexistence about. By doing so, a priceless contribution will be made towards the building of a relationship of mutual trust and cooperation. In this context, I am pleased to note the Israeli Government's recent vote in support of the peace process: for all involved in that process, the Government's position is a positive sign of hope and encouragement.
Of course, the many issues and difficulties raised by this crisis must be dealt with in a fair and effective manner. Questions concerning Palestinian refugees and Israeli settlements, for example, or the problem of setting territorial boundaries and defining the status of the most sacred places of the City of Jerusalem, need to be the subject of open dialogue and sincere negotiation. By no means should a decision be made unilaterally. Rather, respect, mutual understanding and solidarity demand that the path of dialogue never be abandoned. Nor should real or apparent failures lead the partners in dialogue and negotiation to be discouraged. On the contrary, it is precisely in such circumstances that "it is all the more necessary that they should consent to begin again ceaselessly to propose true dialogue, by removing obstacles and by eliminating the defects of dialogue". In this way, they will walk together the path "which leads to peace, with all its demands and conditions" (Message for the 1983 World Day of Peace, 5).
Mr Ambassador, as you have noted, it was ten years ago that the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel was signed. It is this Agreement that paved the way for the subsequent establishment of full diplomatic relations between us and which continues to guide us in our dialogue and mutual exchange of positions regarding many issues of importance to both of us. The fact that we have been able to reach an accord on the full recognition of the legal personality of the Church's institutions is a source of satisfaction, and I am pleased that an accord also appears close at hand regarding related fiscal and economic matters. Along these same lines, I am confident that we shall be successful in drawing up useful guidelines for future cultural exchanges between us as well.
I would further express the fervent hope that this climate of cooperation and friendship will allow us to deal effectively with other difficulties that the Catholic faithful in the Holy Land face on a daily basis. Many of these problems, such as access to Christian shrines and holy sites, the isolation and suffering of Christian communities, the dwindling of the Christian population due to emigration, are in some way connected to the current conflict, but that should not discourage us from seeking possible remedies now, from working now to meet these challenges. I am confident that the Catholic Church will be able to continue to promote good will among peoples and to advance the dignity of the human person in her schools and educational programs, and through her charitable and social institutions. Overcoming the difficulties mentioned above will serve not only to enhance the contribution that the Catholic Church makes to Israeli society, but will also strengthen the guarantees of religious freedom in your country. This in turn will reinforce the feelings of equality between citizens, and each individual, inspired by his own spiritual convictions, will thus be better enabled to build up society as a common home shared by all.
Three years ago, during my Jubilee Year pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I remarked that "real peace in the Middle East will come only as a result of mutual understanding and respect between all the peoples of the region: Jews, Christians and Muslims. In this perspective, my pilgrimage is a pilgrimage of hope: the hope that the 21st century will lead to a new solidarity among the peoples of the world, in the conviction that development, justice and peace will not be attained unless they are attained by all" (Visit to Israeli President Ezer Weizman, 23 March 2000). It is precisely this hope and this concept of solidarity that must ever inspire all men and women -- in the Holy Land and elsewhere -- in working for a new world order based on harmonious relations and effective cooperation between peoples. This is mankind's task for the new millennium, this is the only way to ensure a future of promise and light for all.
Your Excellency, I ask you kindly to convey to the President, Prime Minister, Government and People of the State of Israel the assurance of my prayers for the nation, especially at this critical moment in its history. I am certain that your term of service as representative to the Holy See will do much to strengthen the bonds of understanding and friendship between us. Wishing you every success in your mission, and assuring you of the full cooperation of the various offices of the Roman Curia in the fulfillment of your high duties, I cordially invoke upon you, your fellow citizens and all the peoples of the Holy Land an abundance of divine blessings.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
The Associated Press reported the following:
The top U.S. disaster official waited hours after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast before he proposed to his boss sending at least 1,000 Homeland Security workers into the region to support rescuers, internal documents show.
Part of the mission, according to the documents obtained by The Associated Press, was to ``convey a positive image'' about the government's response for victims.
Acknowledging that such a move would take two days, Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29.
Before then, FEMA had positioned smaller rescue and communications teams across the Gulf Coast. But officials acknowledged the first department-wide appeal for help came only as the storm raged.
Brown's memo to Chertoff described Katrina as ``this near catastrophic event'' but otherwise lacked any urgent language. The memo politely ended, ``Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities.'' (No pagination)
Michael Brown is not the only one with a bull's eye on his chest. Former Clinton advisor Sydney Blumenthal also got in on the fun, placing blame squarely on the President's shoulders:
In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war. (No pagination)
Many in the mainstream media have interpreted these revelations the same way: gross incompetence on the part of the government. Apparently, Uncle Sam cannot get a thing right these days. What the media has completely missed (or ignored) is how certain factions within government could use the Katrina catastrophe to introduce social changes previously unthinkable. There is a discomforting possibility that Americans must consider in light of the fact that there is no one else looking out for their best interest. It is the possibility that warnings were ignored and assistance was intentionally delayed to create a pretext for unprecedented government growth.
One supporter of this contention is Paul Craig Roberts, the former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. On the 5th September 2005 Alex Jones show, Roberts: "agreed that FEMA has deliberately withheld aid, and cut emergency communication lines, and automatically made the crisis look worse in order to empower the image of a police state emerging to 'save the day'" (Watson and Jones, no pagination). Steve Watson and Alex Jones also report:
Roberts further commented "There is no excuse for this, we have never had in our history the federal government take a week to respond to a disaster...this is the first time ever that the help was not mobilized in advance. The proper procedure is that everything is mobilized and ready to go." (No pagination)
Roberts can hardly be called a conspiracy theorist. The former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury has recognized a certain game plan at work in the Katrina situation. This game plan has been used for centuries. Researcher Ralph Epperson elaborates:
The first step consisted of having the conspiracy's own people infiltrate the government (the "pressure from above.")
The second step was to create a real or alleged grievance, usually through either an action of government or through some situation where the government should have acted and didn't.
The third step consisted in having a mob created by the real or alleged grievance that the government or the conspiracy caused demand that the problem be solved by a governmental action (the "pressure from below.")
The fourth step consisted in having the conspirators in the government remedy the real or alleged situation with some oppressive legislation.
The fifth step is a repeat of the last three. The government does not solve the problem and the mob demand more and more legislation until the government becomes totalitarian in nature by possessing all of the power. (37)
If this method were fully implemented, it would be no exaggeration to describe the end result as being a Soviet-style America. One of the government agencies that have much to gain from the execution of this technique is FEMA.
Michael Brown may become a sacrificial lamb. However, the Agency he heads, FEMA, has much to gain from the Katrina catastrophe. The hurricane disaster may lead to calls for increasing FEMA's budget and power. In a hopes of silencing his critics, the President may favor such a move. America would then fall back to sleep, believing FEMA had its back covered in the event of another disaster. However, several researchers have recognized that FEMA has little to do with emergency relief. One such individual was deceased researcher Jim Keith. In his book, Black Helicopters Over America, Keith noted the following concerning FEMA:
FEMA is intended to assume the powers of government during "emergencies," even to the extent of taking over the powers of the President, if the situation is believed to warrant it. The organization is located in the top secret National Security Agency facility in Fort Meade, Maryland. In its more benign aspects, FEMA is seen as an "umbrella" agency that, during times of disaster or natural cataclysm, will step into to throw the stricken populace life preservers. But there are aspects of FEMA which have some worried, one being that only a small percentage, less than 10% of FEMA employees according to a Congressional investigation, is engaged in anything having to do with disaster relief. So what the hell is FEMA doing behind those closed doors at Fort Meade? Among other things, the agency is engaged in compiling computer records on millions of Americans, to provide a database for CAPS, Crisis Action Programs, to be deployed whenever the non-elected bureaucrats of FEMA anticipate something which might compromise almighty COG, what they term the "Continuity of Government." (108)
Was Keith merely being an alarmist when he penned these words? In his book The Triangle of Death, former DEA agent Michael Levine records a conversation he had with a CIA agent that reinforces Jim Keith's contention:
"How can you be so good at what you do and have so little understanding of what really pulls your strings? Don't you realize that there are factions in your government that want this to happen - an emergency situation too hot for a constitutional government to handle."
"To what end?" I asked.
"A suspension of the Constitution, of course. The legislation is already in place. All perfectly legal. Check it out yourself. It's called FEMA. Federal Emergency Management Agency. 'Turn in your guns, you antigovernment rabble rousers. And who would be king, Michael?" (353)
In an interview with William Norman Grigg, Levine made it clear that this account was not fictitious:
According to Levine, this shocking exchange is not the product of an imagination fed by alarmist myths. "That scenario…came from a specific conversation I had with a CIA officer in Argentina in 1979," Levine informed The New American. "There was a small group of us gathered for a drinking at the CIA guy's apartment. There were several Argentine police officers there as well; at the time, Argentina was a police state in which people could be taken into custody without warning, tortured, and then 'disappeared.'"
"At one point my associate in the CIA said that he preferred Argentina's approach to social order, and that America should be more like that country," Levine continues. "Somebody asked, 'Well, how does a change of that sort happen?' The spook replied that it was necessary to create a situation of public fear - a sense of impending anarchy and social upheaval…"(11)
The lack of response on the part of the government to hurricane Katrina created a situation just like that described by Levine's CIA acquaintance. An August 31, 2005 WWLTV news report seems to suggest that the situation had the desired effect:
Disgusted and furious with the lawlessness of looters who have put fear into citizens, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared Martial Law in the city and directed the city's 1,500 person police force to do "whatever it takes" to regain control of the city.
Nagin said that Martial Law means that officers don't have to worry about civil rights and Miranda rights in stopping the looters. (No pagination)
With the proper pretext now in place, FEMA could enter the scene. Lieutenant-general Carl A. Strock of the Army Corps of Engineers informed the press that FEMA was heading up the federal response: "Ultimately, the corps is directed, along with 15 other agencies, by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 'It is FEMA who is really calling the shots and setting priorities here,' General Strock said" (Revkin, no pagination).
Indeed, FEMA is calling all the shots in New Orleans. In the event of a larger crisis, the agency's powers could be further augmented by Executive Order 11051. This Executive Order would allow FEMA to enact other Executive Orders, extending the organization's control over numerous state and federal functions. This control would overarch education, welfare, and health services (Executive Order 11051, no pagination). In addition, FEMA would wield substantial authority over America's financial institutions. The agency would regulate wages, credit, salaries, and the flow of capital (Executive Order 11051, no pagination). The nation's means of production and distribution would also be commandeered (no pagination). In short, the infrastructure of the United States would be effectively controlled by one omnipotent governmental entity. FEMA is a dictator's wet dream, and with Katrina it is starting to be given teeth.
The lesson to be learned from Katrina is fairly obvious. In the event of a catastrophe, we cannot depend on the government to be our savior. The politics of disaster are not about relief for the victims. They are about the acquisition of power.
- Blumenthal, Sydney. " Former Clinton Advisor: 'No One Can Say they Didn't See it Coming'." Spiegel Online, 31 August 2005.
- Epperson, Ralph. The Unseen Hand. Tucson, Arizona: Publius Press, 1985.
- Executive Order 11051: PRESCRIBING RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE OFFICE OF EMERGENCY PLANNING IN THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT. 27 September 1962.
- Grigg, William Norman. "Battle Lines in the Drug War." New American, October 27, 1997: pg. 11-16.
- Keith, Jim. Black Helicopters Over America: Strikeforce for the New World Order. Lilburn, Georgia: Illuminet Press, 1994.
- Levine, Michael and Laura Kavanau. The Triangle of Death. New York: Delacorte Press, 1996.
- Revkin, Andrew. " Gazing at Breached Levees, Critics See Years of Missed Opportunities." New York Times, 2 September 2005.
- Unsigned document. "FEMA Chief Sent Help Only When Storm Ended." Associated Press, 7 September 2005.
- Unsigned document. "Nagin declares Martial Law to crack down on looters." WWLTV.com, 31 August 2005.
- Watson, Steve and Alex Jones. " Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury on New Orleans: 'Americans Are Being Brainwashed'" Prison Planet.com, 6 September 2005
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The announcement last month by the Groningen Academic Hospital came amid a growing discussion in Holland on whether to legalize euthanasia on people incapable of deciding for themselves whether they want to end their lives - a prospect viewed with horror by euthanasia opponents and as a natural evolution by advocates.
In August, the main Dutch doctors' association KNMG urged the Health Ministry to create an independent board to review euthanasia cases for terminally ill people "with no free will," including children, the severely mentally retarded, and people left in an irreversible coma after an accident.
The Health Ministry is preparing its response to the request, a spokesman said, and it may come as soon as December.
Three years ago, the Dutch parliament made it legal for doctors to inject a sedative and a lethal dose of muscle relaxant at the request of adult patients suffering great pain with no hope of relief.
The Groningen Protocol, as the hospital's guidelines have come to be known, would create a legal framework for permitting doctors to actively end the life of newborns deemed to be in similar pain from incurable disease or extreme deformities.
The guideline says euthanasia is acceptable when the child's medical team and independent doctors agree the pain cannot be eased and there is no prospect for improvement, and when parents think it's best.
Examples include extremely premature births, where children suffer brain damage from bleeding and convulsions; and diseases where a child could only survive on life support for the rest of its life such as spina bifida and epidermosis bullosa, a blistering illness.
The hospital said it carried out four such mercy killings in 2003, and reported all cases to government prosecutors - but there have been no legal proceedings taken against them.
Catholic organizations and the Vatican have reacted with outrage to Groningen's announcement, and U.S. euthanasia opponents contend that the proposal shows the Dutch have lost their moral compass.
"The slippery slope in the Netherlands has descended already into a vertical cliff," said Wesley J. Smith, a prominent California-based critic, in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Child euthanasia remains illegal everywhere. Experts say doctors outside of Holland do not report cases for fear of prosecution.
"As things are, people are doing this secretly and that's wrong," said Eduard Verhagen, head of Groningen's children's' clinic. "In the Netherlands we want to expose everything, to let everything be subjected to vetting."
According to the Justice Ministry, four cases of child euthanasia were reported to prosecutors in 2003. Two were reported in 2002, seven in 2001 and five in 2000. All the cases in 2003 were reported by Groningen, but some of the cases in other years were from other hospitals.
Groningen estimated the protocol would be applicable in about 10 cases per year in the Netherlands, a country with 16 million people.
Since the introduction of the Dutch law, Belgium has also legalized euthanasia, while in France, legislation to allow doctor-assisted suicide is currently under debate. In the United States, the state of Oregon is alone in allowing physician-assisted suicide, but this is under constant legal challenge.
However, experts acknowledge that doctors euthanize routinely in the United States but that such practice is hidden.
"Measures that might marginally extend a child's life by minutes or hours or days or weeks are stopped. This happens routinely, namely, every day," said Lance Stell, professor of medical ethics at Davidson College and staff ethicist at Carolinas Medical Center in the United States. "Everybody knows that it happens, but there's a lot of hypocrisy. Instead, people talk about things they're not going to do."
More than half of all deaths occur under medical supervision, so it's really about management and method of death, Stell said.
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12.00pm - By ANDY McSMITH and JO DILLON
Britain seeks new powers to attack rogue states
LONDON - British Prime Minister Tony Blair is appealing to the heads of Western governments to agree a new world order that would justify the war in Iraq even if Saddam Hussein's elusive weapons of mass destruction are never found.
A Downing Street document, circulated among foreign heads of state who are in London for a summit, has provoked a fierce row between Mr Blair and the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder.
Mr Blair has involved British troops in five conflicts overseas in his six years in office, and appears to be willing to take part in many more.
The document echoes his well-known views on "rights and responsibilities" by saying that even for self-governing nation states "the right to sovereignty brings associated responsibilities to protect citizens".
This phrase is immediately followed by a paragraph which appears to give the world's democracies carte blanche to send troops anywhere there is civil unrest or a tyrant who refuses to mend his ways.
It says: "Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect."A political row with the German Chancellor will add to Mr Blair's difficulties at a time when the American and British intelligence services have fallen out with each other over the question of whether Saddam was seeking to construct a nuclear bomb before he was overthrown.
In Washington, the US government has withdrawn the claim that Iraqi agents were in Niger trying to buy uranium.
The head of the CIA, George Tenet, has accepted the blame for allowing this claim to be included in President George Bush's State of the Nation speech, in which it was attributed to British intelligence.
The former foreign secretary Robin Cook has challenged Mr Blair to publish any evidence Britain has to back up the uranium story.
He told The Independent on Sunday: "The longer they delay coming up with it, the greater the suspicion will become that they don't really believe it themselves.
"There is one simple question the Government must answer when the Commons meets on Monday: why did their evidence not convince the CIA? If it was not good enough to be in the President's address, it was not good enough to go in the Prime Minister's dossier.
"A month ago I gave Tony Blair the opportunity to admit that in good faith he had got it wrong when he warned of the uranium deal.
Now that President Bush has made just that admission it looks as if Tony Blair would have been wise to get his in first."But Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, insisted yesterday the information did not come from British intelligence but from some other, unnamed country, and that it was accurate.
In a letter to the chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, Donald Anderson, Mr Straw said: "UK officials were confident that the dossier's statement was based on reliable intelligence which we had not shared with the US."This public disagreement with the CIA, coupled with anger in Britain over the fate of British suspects held at the US base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, forms an awkward background for Mr Blair's visit to Washington on Thursday, when he will meet President Bush.
Dr Hans Blix, the former head of the UN weapons inspection team in Iraq, has told the IoS that he believes the British government "over-interpreted" the available intelligence about Iraq's weapons.
Dr Blix was particularly scathing about the claim made in a British government dossier, released last September, that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons "deployable within 45 minutes".
"I think that was a fundamental mistake.
I don't know how they calculated this figure of 45 minutes.
That seems pretty far off the mark to me," Dr Blix said.
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, Menzies Campbell, said: "Day by day the case for an independent scrutiny of the lead-up to the war against Iraq becomes irresistible.
Only full disclosure can restore the reputation of this Government."The failure to find the weapons is damaging public trust in the Prime Minister and his relations with the Labour Party, with many backbench MPs who supported the decision to go to war in March now saying they might have changed their minds if they had known that the weapons might never be found.
The former international development secretary Clare Short, who resigned after the war, will urge the Prime Minister in an interview broadcast on GMTV today to resign before things get "nastier".
This brought a strong rebuke yesterday from the Home Secretary, David Blunkett.
He said: "Clare Short is being typically self-indulgent.
It is important to get behind the Prime Minister and focus on the things that matter to people, like decent opportunities and economic prosperity.
I do not understand why people would plot to try to change the most successful leader in the Labour Party's history."There was also support for the Prime Minister from his old ally, Bill Clinton.
At a London conference organised by Mr Blair's ally Peter Mandelson and attended by Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and hundreds of Labour Party supporters, the former US president urged the left to stop attacking the Prime Minister or risk the renaissance of conservatism.
"If we want to prevail we will have to learn how to make our case better," he said.
"We're living in a new world in which we will be swallowed whole if we do not, and all the evidence of the good we have done will be lost if we give in to inter-party squabbles on the left and lay down in the face of attacks from the right."
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Flight 93 and 175, Just Recently Taken Off FAA 'Active' List. Are Both Jetliners (From the Archives)
Two 9/11 Airliners, Flight 93 and 175, Just Recently Taken Off FAA 'Active' List. Are Both Jetliners Still Flying in United's 'Friendly Skies'?
FAA records for four years listed both 9/11 United jetliners as still on the 'active' list. Now planes only 'deregistered' in September after snoopy researchers questioned FAA officials a month earlier.
25 Nov 2005
By Greg Szymanski
Two of the 9/11 airliners were never ‘deregistered’ and remained on the ‘active’ flight list until Sept. 28. 2005, the classification officially changing only a month after two inquisitive flight researchers made repeated calls to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), inquiring about the strange irregularity.
The two planes in question were Flight 93 and Flight 175, both owned and operated by United Airlines and, according to the official story, both destroyed on 9/11, one in
Usually a normal procedure after an airliner is destroyed, why it took United more than four years to ‘deregister’ the airplanes and fill out the official FAA paperwork remains a mystery and never has been fully explained by the FAA, United or the government.
In fact, in stark contrast, a check of FAA records shows the two other American Airline flights, Flight 11 and 77, both were ‘deregistered’ and classified as ‘destroyed’ only months after 9/11 on Jan. 14, 2002.
Why the late filing by United?
“My brother and I both wrote the FAA in August about this situation and asked why the planes were not deregistered. The FAA said that an owner does not need to deregister an aircraft,” said one of the researchers named Roger, who preferred only to use his first name. “Ironically, a couple of months after I wrote the FAA, the planes were deregistered. What's up with that?
“Although the planes are deregistered, they are not listed as cause destroyed but rather as cause cancelled. The American airplanes are clearly listed as cause destroyed but not so the United planes.
“There is a guy who was saying on a web posting that he knew one of the United planes was still in service in
“Two planes destroyed and two planes still flying? Are you familiar with the
A recent check of FAA records proves the flight researcher’s statements correct as Flight 93 identified as N591UA and Flight 175 as N612UA, both were taken off the active FAA list in September with a reason given as ‘cancelled’ not ‘destroyed.’
The FAA again was contacted this week, giving the same answers given to the two researchers back in August regarding the late deregistration. And in regards to listing both United flights as ‘cancelled not destroyed,’ FAA officials also gave no further explanation.
Besides the FAA deregistration issue, solid evidence has also come forward that two of the 9/11 flights, Flight 11 and 77, never even existed at all, according to Bureau of Traffic Safety (BTS) records.
According to BTS statistics, both 11 and 77 officially never took-off on 9/11. The meticulous data kept on every airliner taking-off at every airport in the country also showed no elapsed run-way time, wheels-off time and taxi-out time, not to mention several other categories left blank on 9/11 concerning the two flights.
Although Flights 11 and 77 have the above data meticulously logged on 9/10, it was suspiciously absent on 9/11, even when every other plane that took of that day had been recorded and logged by the BTS.
Why the discrepancy? No one has ever given an official explanation for the BTS missing flight data, even though it is well known that airports are extremely concerned about recording accurate BTS data for each and every flight in and out of its airport for liability purposes.
More importantly critics contend this is another clear indication Flight 11 and 77 were only ‘phantom flights,” adding even further doubt to the credibility of the official government story concerning 9/11.
Besides the FAA and BTS irregularities, the official flight lists from all four flights have been a serious bone of contention for 9/11 critics, who call attention to the glaring errors and conflicting passenger numbers on many of the flight lists released, many coming from unverified sources.
On Flight 11, for example, American Airlines released two different lists containing 77 and 75 names the day after 9/11, but the Washington Post published 89 names the same day while the Boston Daily published 89 names with conflicting names, however. Remember, complicating matters worse, Fox News all along was still claiming that only 81 names were confirmed a week later.
Through out the years, not only have the numbers conflicted but so have the names on the lists. Gerald Holmgren, a 9/11 researcher who has spent much time and effort researching the flight irregularities found one of the most glaring errors never explained by the airlines or the government.
Holmgren, whose compilation of 9/11 flight data can be found at indymedia, uncovered that four of the alleged passengers on American Airlines Flight 11 with the last names of Ward, Weems, Roux and Jalbert also mysteriously and unexplainable were also listed as passengers on Flight 175 that struck the South Tower.
Holmgren in his 2004 article had this to say:
“What a mess! This crime - the murder of approximately 3000 people, and the excuse for two wars and alarming attacks on civil liberties - and presumably more to come - is supposed to have been properly investigated and documented? Why should we be expected to believe who the hijackers were, when the spin doctors can't even do a credible fabrication job of a list of innocent victims?
“It's previously been demanded by many skeptics that we need to see a verifiable official passenger list which actually contains the names of the alleged hijackers. We can now take the implications of that further and point to the absence of any passenger list documentation for AA11 which stands up to scrutiny as a credible document. We have nothing which could support the existence of any of the alleged passengers on the alleged flight.”
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[Warning: Extremely rude language is contained in this story]
From Capitol Hill Blue
Bush's Obscene Tirades Rattle White House Aides
By DOUG THOMPSON
Aug 25, 2005, 06:19
While President George W. Bush travels around the country in a last-ditch effort to sell his Iraq war, White House aides scramble frantically behind the scenes to hide the dark mood of an increasingly angry leader who unleashes obscenity-filled outbursts at anyone who dares disagree with him.
“I’m not meeting again with that goddamned bitch,” Bush screamed at aides who suggested he meet again with Cindy Sheehan, the war-protesting mother whose son died in Iraq. “She can go to hell as far as I’m concerned!”
Bush flashes the bird, something aides say he does often and has been doing since his days as governor of Texas.
Bush, administration aides confide, frequently explodes into tirades over those who protest the war, calling them “motherfucking traitors.” He reportedly was so upset over Veterans of Foreign Wars members who wore “bullshit protectors” over their ears during his speech to their annual convention that he told aides to “tell those VFW assholes that I’ll never speak to them again is they can’t keep their members under control.”
White House insiders say Bush is growing increasingly bitter over mounting opposition to his war in Iraq. Polls show a vast majority of Americans now believe the war was a mistake and most doubt the President’s honesty.
“Who gives a flying fuck what the polls say,” he screamed at a recent strategy meeting. “I’m the President and I’ll do whatever I goddamned please. They don’t know shit.”
Bush, while setting up for a photo op for signing the recent CAFTA bill, flipped an extended middle finger to reporters. Aides say the President often “flips the bird” to show his displeasure and tells aides who disagree with him to “go to hell” or to “go fuck yourself.” His habit of giving people the finger goes back to his days as Texas governor, aides admit, and videos of him doing so before press conferences were widely circulated among TV stations during those days. A recent video showing him shooting the finger to reporters while walking also recently surfaced.
Bush’s behavior, according to prominent Washington psychiatrist, Dr. Justin Frank, author of “Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President,” is all too typical of an alcohol-abusing bully who is ruled by fear.
To see that fear emerges, Dr. Frank says, all one has to do is confront the President. “To actually directly confront him in a clear way, to bring him out, so you would really see the bully, and you would also see the fear,” he says.
Dr. Frank, in his book, speculates that Bush, an alcoholic who brags that he gave up booze without help from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, may be drinking again.
“Two questions that the press seems particularly determined to ignore have hung silently in the air since before Bush took office,” Dr. Frank says. “Is he still drinking? And if not, is he impaired by all the years he did spend drinking? Both questions need to be addressed in any serious assessment of his psychological state.”
Last year, Capitol Hill Blue learned the White House physician prescribed anti-depressant drugs for the President to control what aides called “violent mood swings.” As Dr. Frank also notes: “In writing about Bush's halting appearance in a press conference just before the start of the Iraq War, Washington Post media critic Tom Shales speculated that ‘the president may have been ever so slightly medicated.’”
Dr. Frank explains Bush’s behavior as all-to-typical of an alcoholic who is still in denial:
“The pattern of blame and denial, which recovering alcoholics work so hard to break, seems to be ingrained in the alcoholic personality; it's rarely limited to his or her drinking,” he says. “The habit of placing blame and denying responsibility is so prevalent in George W. Bush's personal history that it is apparently triggered by even the mildest threat.”
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Friends of the Earth International
November 23, 2004
US TO LEGALIZE BIOTECH CONTAMINATION
US sets out plan to allow contamination of the world's food supply with experimental GM crops
WWW, 2005 (archived) WASHINGTON, DC (US) / BRUSSELS (BELGIUM), November 23, 2004 A new proposal to allow contamination of human food crops with biotech or genetically modified (GM) experimental crops grown on "test" sites will be published tomorrow (Wednesday) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) .
It is already impossible to test for the presence of experimental GM food crops in foods imported from or processed in the US, because over two-thirds of US experimental GM crops contain genes classified as confidential which therefore can't be detected.
Juan Lopez from Friends of the Earth International said: "The Bush Administration, with the active support of the biotechnology industry, is about to force their untested genetically modified experiments into the world's food supply. This proposal should be ringing alarm bells in every consumer, every food company and every food agency of the planet."
Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe added:
"Because of the secrecy behind experiments in the United States, no one not food companies, not even governments will be able to test food products or food imports for contamination because they won't know what to test for. This will leave consumers worldwide exposed to new risks from genetically modified foods."
Experimental GM crops are currently permitted to be grown on a minimum of 23,000 hectares in the United States, and some individual releases are over 400 ha in size. The approved acreage for GM crop tests since the late 1980s is over 200,000 ha. They include crops engineered for herbicide or insect resistance, altered nutritional properties, or sterile pollen or seeds. Other crops generate pharmaceuticals or anti-fungal compounds that resemble proteins that cause food allergies. The US government is not proposing any maximum threshold for "inadvertent" contamination of food, feed and seed stocks from experimental sites.
The new policy sets out loose "safety assessment" guidelines under which a company may voluntarily consult with the FDA to have its experimental GM crop material deemed "acceptable" as a contaminant in food. The "safety assessment" is based on paperwork and two inadequate tests that the FDA estimates will take companies just 20 hours to complete. The proposed review also excludes testing for unintended effects caused by genetic modification. This inadequate review would grant biotech companies the legal cover to allow their experimental GM crops to enter the American food supply. And the US biotechnology and grain industries are already calling on the US government to "vigorously promote global adoption" of this policy 
Bill Freese, Research Analyst with Friends of the Earth US said: "Allowing conventional food to be contaminated by experimental crops is a recipe for disaster. What is even more unbelievable is that the Bush Administration wants to promote this policy around the world as an international model."
Since over two-thirds of experimental GM crops grown in the US contain genes classified as confidential, there is little public information about what genes are being tested. Without this basic information, laboratories will be unable to look for their presence in food products. This will have serious consequences for food companies wishing to avoid such contamination and Governments carrying out checks on imports. Neither will be able to detect the contamination as they won't know what they are looking for.
The FDA policy comes in response to a 2002 initiative by the Bush Administration. FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford describes the policy as "a high priority for the Administration and the industry, to enhance public confidence, avoid product recalls, and provide an international model" for similar policies around the world 
In January, the US Dept. of Agriculture proposed a similar policy for its sphere of GM crop regulation (plant pest risks). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to issue its own contamination approval policy applicable to pesticide-producting GM crops in the near future.
A briefing paper with more information is available at: http://www.foei.org/publications/pdfs/contamination.pdf
FOR MORE INFORMATION
William Freese in the US, 301-985-3011 e-mail: email@example.com Adrian Bebb, Friends of the Earth Europe, +49 1609 490 1163; email firstname.lastname@example.org Juan Lopez, Friends of the Earth International, +39-333-1498049 (Italy);
 FDA release of the policy was announced at: http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/2004/ANS01327.html
FDA's draft policy is available at: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/bioprgui.htm.
 3US Grain Industry, BIO Urge US Government to Expedit, "Trace-Amounts" Policy for Biotech Products, press release, Biotechnology Industry Organization, National Grain & Feed Association, and other trade groups, April 7, 2004, www.bio.org/newsroom/newsitem.asp?id=2004_0407_01
 Lester M. Crawford, Acting Commissioner of the FDA. Speech before The U.S. Vatican Mission's Conference "Feeding A Hungry World: The Moral Imperative Of Biotechnology," September 2004 www.agbioworld.org
This GMO news service is underwritten by a generous grant from the Newman's Own Foundation and is a production of the Ecological Farming Association http://www.eco-farm.org/
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by Fintan Dunne, Editor
Research KathyMcMahon EXCLUSIVE
If you thought the new video game inviting players to try their virtual skills at assassinating JFK was tasteless, hold on to your hat. A just-released mission in the Kuma wargame series is themed “Fallujah: Operation al-Fajr." It re-creates the recent assault on Fallujah, which may have left thousands of civilians dead.
Players join U.S. Marines and Army soldiers in their attack on the Jolan district in Fallujah. For the making of “Fallujah: Operation al-Fajr,” Kuma Reality Games used detailed satellite imagery of Jolan.
Publicity material for yesterday's new game says players "dodge sniper fire and protect civilians," while fighting to secure the Jolan district.
Perhaps the action isn't really that "realistic" after all. Civilians in Fallujah outnumbered rebels by perhaps thirty to one. They bore the brunt of a relentless US bombardment of Jolan. News media reports say this included 2,000-pound bombs, helicopter gunships and artillery.
Independent journalists and Arab media say napalm-like weapons and poison gas were also deployed. Reporter, Dahr Jamail told BreakForNews.com that witnesses saw people poisoned, fall to the ground and die. Other reports describe firebombs spewing lethal contents which adhered to skin and burned unquenchably.
Only later did the soldiers --the real ones-- come to root out any "resistance" left alive. This involved the use of cluster bombs and grenades tossed into homes, with devastating results in at least one case. Cowering inside was a family - not virtual terrorists. A young boy was hospitalized with grenade fragment injuries.
Don't expect that kind of realism from the latest Kuma offering. “Fallujah: Operation al-Fajr,” is the sanitized electronic world of good guys and bad guys. Just like Bush's war. And you can guess who the good guys are.
The Kuma /War series is lovingly following the action around Iraq, and modeling game chapters on set-piece recreations of real military operations. Players have battled the Medi army in the south and hunted down Uday and Qusay Hussein. We are now up to Mission #28.
In the coming weeks, game subscribers will get missions that re-create current combat in Fallujah and elsewhere in Iraq.
Many missions are being developed in cooperation with the US military.
“Fallujah: Operation al-Fajr” even contains a discussion with Major General Thomas L. Wilkerson, USMC (ret) on the strategy behind the fight for control of Fallujah. The last mission before Fallujah, was "Ramadi Convoy Exercise,"
based on the same training mission KumaWar modeled for CASCOM - the US Army Combined Arms Support Command.
Kuma Reality Games has just opened voting for its "Stories from the Front" contest. The contest asked soldiers to contribute stories from their actual experiences in the battlefield. The winner's story will become an upcoming mission. The winner will be featured with three friends as characters in the re-creation of the winning story
The eligible entries have been slimmed to finalists like: Beneath the Saddam Mosque, the story of a rescue team searching for a kidnapped woman in the tunnels beneath a mujahedeen-controled mosque; Baghdad Cowboy details an ambush on enemies to rescue a troubled Fallujah convoy; and Saddam City Shocker centers around a squad that fights its way across a bridge into Saddam City.
This is the seamless integration of military gaming and real military action. The two have become one. Virtually. A seamless virtual reality whose barbarity and insensitivity is puzzling to the "reality-based" community.
In Fallujah, during the bombing families could hear the screams from those whose homes had been hit, but they had to keep their heads down and pray.
Kuma should have taped those screams.
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The acknowledgment by Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle came during a U.S. District Court hearing on lawsuits brought by some of the 550 foreigners imprisoned at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The lawsuits challenge their detention without charges for up to three years so far.
Attorneys for the prisoners argued that some were held solely on evidence gained by torture, which they said violated fundamental fairness and U.S. due process standards. But Boyle argued in a similar hearing Wednesday that the detainees "have no constitutional rights enforceable in this court."
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon asked if a detention would be illegal if it were based solely on evidence gathered by torture, because "torture is illegal. We all know that."
Boyle replied that if the military's combatant status review tribunals (or CSRTs) "determine that evidence of questionable provenance were reliable, nothing in the due process clause (of the Constitution) prohibits them from relying on it."
Leon asked if there were any restrictions on using evidence produced by torture.
Boyle replied the United States would never adopt a policy that would have barred it from acting on evidence that could have prevented the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks even if the data came from questionable practices like torture by a foreign power.
Evidence Based on Torture
Evidence based on torture is not admissible in U.S. courts. "About 70 years ago, the Supreme Court stopped the use of evidence produced by third-degree tactics largely on the theory that it was totally unreliable," Harvard Law Professor Philip B. Heymann, a former deputy U.S. attorney general, said in an interview. Subsequent high court rulings were based on revulsion at "the unfairness and brutality of it and later on the idea that confessions ought to be free and uncompelled."
Leon asked if U.S. courts could review detentions based on evidence from torture conducted by U.S. personnel.
Boyle said torture was against U.S. policy and any allegations of it would be "forwarded through command channels for military discipline." He added, "I don't think anything remotely like torture has occurred at Guantanamo" but noted that some U.S. soldiers there had been disciplined for misconduct, including a female interrogator who removed her blouse during questioning.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday it has given the Bush administration a confidential report critical of U.S. treatment of Guantanamo detainees. The New York Times reported the Red Cross described the psychological and physical coercion used at Guantanamo as "tantamount to torture."
The CSRT panels, composed of three military officers, usually colonels or lieutenant colonels, were set up after the Supreme Court ruled in June that the detainees could ask U.S. courts to see to it that they had a proceeding in which to challenge their detention. They have finished reviewing the status of 440 of the prisoners but have released only one.
The military also set up an annual administrative review which considers whether the detainee still presents a danger to the United States but doesn't review enemy combatant status. Administrative reviews have been completed for 161.
Boyle argued these procedures are sufficient to satisfy the high court and the detainee lawsuits should be thrown out.
Noting that detainees cannot have lawyers at the CSRT proceedings and cannot see any secret evidence against them, attorney Wes Powell argued "there is no meaningful opportunity in the CSRTs to rebut the government's claims."
Leon asked, however, "if the judiciary puts its nose into this, won't that lead us into reviewing decisions about who to target and even into the adequacy of information supporting the decision to seize a person?"
Leon said he thought an earlier Supreme Court ruling would limit judges to checking only on whether detention orders were lawfully issued and detention review panels were legally established.
Leon and Judge Joyce Hens Green, who held another hearing Wednesday on detainees' rights, said they will try to rule soon on whether the 59 detainees can proceed with their lawsuits.
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Detainee death chamber studied
By Matthew Hay Brown San Juan Bureau
Posted June 6, 2003
Plans for an execution chamber at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba are being studied by the U.S. military as it prepares to bring suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists to trial later this year.
A Pentagon spokeswoman said Thursday that the base's prison commander is discussing whether to include the death chamber in possible plans for a permanent prison.
However, Lt. Cmdr. Barbara Burfeind stressed that the proposals being put together by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller still have to be submitted to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush.
About 680 people captured during the war in Afghanistan are being held at the base in the makeshift prison known as Camp Delta.
Burfeind said Miller was being prudent in planning for all the elements that military tribunals could bring -- including long-term prison sentences or even death penalties -- once they start. The trials could start later this year.
At Guantanamo, prison-camp spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said authorities have started preparations for the trials. Several old offices at the base are being spruced up for use as courtrooms, and base commanders are discussing a permanent facility to house prisoners for years. In addition, Johnson said, the base command has discussed building a death-row facility and a chamber for execution by lethal injection.
That prospect is hardening opinion against the way the United States is handling the foreign detainees, who have been held indefinitely as "enemy combatants," without access to lawyers, courts or relatives.
"Now the captors are planning how to execute them," said Vienna Colucci of Amnesty International.
With courtroom rules finalized and military prosecutors and defense attorneys selected, the tribunals -- the Pentagon calls them "commissions" -- now await the go-ahead from Bush, who will make the final call on individuals to be considered for charges.
Maj. John Smith, a judge advocate assigned to the commissions, said it is premature to talk about executions.
"We don't even have a person under jurisdiction or charges filed," he said.
But Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said such preparations would make sense.
"It certainly shouldn't surprise anyone that the necessary steps might be taken, since the death penalty is provided for in the order establishing the commissions," Fidell said.
Administration officials have indicated plans to refer about a dozen detainees to the tribunals. Under rules developed by the Pentagon, the president would identify the individuals to be tried, prosecutors would draft charges and the secretary of defense would appoint the commissions to try them.
Cases would be argued by military prosecutors and defense attorneys before panels of three to seven officers. Defendants could retain civilian counsel, but such attorneys would have to be U.S. citizens, would be responsible for travel to and from the commission and would have to achieve at least a "secret"-level security clearance -- and still they could be excluded from sensitive information presented before the tribunal.
The panels would vote on verdicts and sentences. Cases could be appealed to a military review panel and on to the president, but no appeal is allowed through the traditional judicial system.
Legal analysts, rights advocates and others have criticized the Bush administration for refusing to declare the detainees either prisoners of war or criminal suspects and honor the rights that would apply in either case. Now they say the commissions fall short of basic fair-trial standards.
"It's not the military-justice system; it's not the criminal-justice system -- it's a thing unto itself," said Elisa Massimino, director of the Washington office of the Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights. "Repressive dictators would like to copy this."
Colucci, of Amnesty International, called the tribunals a "parallel justice system that is essentially accountable only to the executive branch."
"There's no meaningful right of appeal, no appeal outside of the system," she said. "Conceivably, someone who is not guilty, who has been subjected to an extended period of interrogation under coercive circumstances, could be brought before the commission, [which] doesn't meet fair-trial standards, convicted and put to death."
Massimino said restrictions on civilian counsel make it unlikely that competent attorneys would be able to participate. Holding the tribunals at Guantanamo would make it difficult for the public to gain access to any proceedings not closed on national-security grounds, she said.
"There are a lot of rules, a lot of words," Massimino said. "But the bottom line is that there could be a trial pursuant to all those rules that wouldn't look anything like what we would think of as fair."
Smith, the military lawyer, said the presumption of innocence, the burden on the prosecution to present proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and other standards familiar to the criminal- and military-justice systems should protect the rights of defendants.
"There's been criticism, but the proof will be when you see how the trials will be conducted," he said. "There are safeguards and procedures that will guarantee a fair trial."
Smith said civilian attorneys have expressed interest in serving as defense counsel, but none has filed an application yet.
Col. Will A. Gunn, the acting chief defense counsel, said in a news briefing last month that he was looking for attorneys who would fight hard for the detainees.
"We believe in this country, and we believe in what this country espouses as its key values," Gunn said. "And among those key values is the concept that every individual accused of a crime is presumed to be innocent."
"We've all represented individuals that others may have despised, others may have been leery of, but we had a job to do," he said. "We have a job to do."
Fidell, a retired Coast Guard judge advocate who practices in Washington, D.C., and has taught military justice at Yale Law School, said constraints on defense counsel and the lack of an independent appeals process could limit public confidence in the tribunals.
"This increasingly complex canvas that we're watching may change dramatically," he said. "Large parts of it continue to be unknown."
Burfeind said Pentagon investigators now are preparing information on potential defendants for review by Bush. She said it probably would not be until this summer, at the earliest, before Bush signs an executive order identifying individuals to face trial.
One potential candidate is Zacarias Moussaoui, the suspected 20th hijacker from Sept. 11, 2001. In a federal appeals court this week, attorneys for the French citizen argued his right to call a captured al-Qaeda member as a witness in his federal trial. If the courts rule in his favor, the government is expected to move his case to a military commission.
Under current rules, only non-U.S. citizens may be tried by military commission. The Justice Department earlier this year proposed a measure that would allow the attorney general to strip U.S. citizenship from individuals for supporting a terrorist group.
"Some attention should be paid to that," Massimino said. "That may make some people take greater interest."
Richard A. Serrano of the Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Publishing newspaper, contributed to this report. Matthew Hay Brown can be reached at 787-729-9072 or email@example.com.
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Iraq raids are 'ugly business'
Operation nets innocent people and a few of the most wanted.
By William Booth / Washington Post
TIKRIT, Iraq -- The roosters were just beginning to crow in that lost hour before dawn when Lt. Col. Steve Russell of the Army's 4th Infantry Division ordered his men to "go dark" and roll their Humvees up to the edge of a lone farmhouse here.
It was quiet, the village shuttered by a curfew. Desert wind rattled dry grass. One of the U.S. soldiers in the shadows lit a match to his cigarette. Then the radio sputtered, barely audible, a report from the reconnaissance patrol. "Movement on the roof."
The troops smashed an M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle through the front gates. This is the unfinished work of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
In an operation dubbed Desert Scorpion, U.S. forces gather intelligence from Iraqis by day then head out on raiding parties at night, hunting senior leaders from the government of former President Saddam Hussein. The operation began in part to stanch the string of attacks on U.S. troops that have killed 17 soldiers since May 1, according to the Pentagon and news reports.
It is, Russell said, "an ugly business, but it is the business we are in."
Russell's men come in like SWAT teams, ramming down compound walls. Children cry, women are terrified, and men are handcuffed and led away, sometimes with nylon bags over their heads.
More often than not they are innocent, or family members of the targets, or housekeepers or guards, and later released. Sometimes, as in last week's capture of Abid Hamid Mahmud, Saddam's trusted aide, they are among the most wanted men in Iraq.
By day, U.S. troops put on what one soldier in Russell's unit called "the smiley face." By night, during a raid, Lt. Chris Morris, leader of the scout patrol, said, "if I see some guy sticking his head around a wall, and he doesn't show me his hands, and then he pops out again, he's likely to get shot."
Here in Saddam's hometown, their efforts have produced results. In the past week, they snared not only Mahmud but a senior bodyguard for Saddam, a former brigadier general and a nephew of Saddam's who was caught with a gym bag filled with $800,000 in cash. In a raid at a farmhouse, they uncovered $8 million in $100 bills and plastic tubs filled with jewels.
Russell said he believed the money was used in part to pay for the low-level "triggermen" who are carrying out most of the attacks at the behest of former senior Baathists in hiding. Soldiers have found weapons caches buried in orchards and fields, including rocket-propelled grenade launchers and sniper's rifles, as well as night-vision goggles.
Yet the hunt also has turned up "dry holes," Russell said. On Saturday night, his men stormed a house in Tikrit, seeking the son of one of the 55 Iraqis who are most wanted by U.S. officials and whose pictures have been placed on playing cards. But the target had left the house three days before.
U.S. military intelligence officials suspect former Iraqi authorities are hiding out in Tikrit and its surrounding villages, especially the walled town of Auja, where Saddam and many of his closest aides and bodyguards were born.
Here, the search is being led by troops from the 1-22 Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, out of Fort Hood, Texas, with a Special Operations group moving throughout the region.
Their headquarters is a former Saddam palace on a bluff above the Tigris River. During the day, Russell and a few of his men make the rounds, visiting Iraqi police, officials in the interim government, tribal sheiks, friendly merchants and others who might be hearing about possible targets.
On a warm summer evening in Auja, Russell and his three Humvees pulled up to a mansion on the Tigris to meet with Sheik Mahmud Needa, an elderly leader of a large and powerful tribe. Just so Russell would understand whom he was dealing with, the sheik produced an autographed photograph of the late King Hussein of Jordan. "My brother," Needa said.
Russell played the courteous commander, drinking cups of strong Turkish coffee with Needa. Russell was willing to trade such things as weapons permits, or assistance for Auja's police chief, to receive information and build trust.
Needa's palace overlooks the lands where Saddam was born. The two are relatives, and their farms abut each other. "Everything will be better here," Needa told Russell, "when you catch Saddam Hussein."
Needa said his tribal council members had decided they would turn over to police anyone they suspected of plotting to harm Americans.
Russell told him, "I appreciate the great respect you have from your people and your efforts to secure a better Iraq for the future."
Russell said obtaining the cooperation of sheiks -- especially in Auja, one of the towns most hostile to U.S. occupation -- shows that the remnants of Saddam's government may be facing their final days of freedom.
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Children as young as 11 are claimed to be among those locked up for 24 hours a day in rooms with no light, or held in overcrowded tents in temperatures approaching 50C (122F).
Despair: Ghania Hassan says that her eldest son is being held as a looter for eating a biscuit given to him by a US soldier
NEVER again did families in Baghdad imagine that they need fear the midnight knock at the door.
But in recent weeks there have been increasing reports of Iraqi men, women and even children being dragged from their homes at night by American patrols, or snatched off the streets and taken, hooded and manacled, to prison camps around the capital.
On the edge of Baghdad International Airport, US military commanders have built a tent city that human rights groups are comparing to the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Remarkably, the Americans have also set up another detention camp in the grounds of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad. Many thousands of Iraqis were taken there during the Saddam years and never seen again.
Every day, relatives scuff their way along the dirt track to reach the razor wire barricades surrounding Abu Ghraib, where they plead in vain for information about the whereabouts of the missing.
The response from impassive American sentries is to point to a sign, scrawled in red felt-tip pen on a piece of cardboard hanging on the barbed wire, which says: “No visits are allowed, no information will be given and you must leave.”
Some, like Ghania Hassan, sink to their knees in despair. She holds a photograph of her eldest son, Mohammed Yasim Mohammed, a 22-year-old student. She said that he was walking through al-Shaab market with friends when passing troops saw him eating biscuits from an American military ration pack and accused him of being a looter. Allegedly he was pushed face down on the street while his friends tried to explain how a soldier a couple of streets away had given them the biscuits.
A month later nothing has been heard of the young man. His mother showed a fistful of letters and petitions that she has collected from US officials, local magistrates and a Muslim cleric, but she and the rest of the complainants were told at gunpoint to move away from the prison gates.
Such behaviour merely fuels the growing hostility between local people and the soldiers they had welcomed barely three months ago.
Families will naturally protest the innocence of their relatives, but the accounts, such as that of Aliah Khadoum, who describes how her son went out to buy cigarettes on June 1 and was arrested for breaking curfew, are rarely allowed to be tested by the local magistrates, who have begun daily court hearings in the capital.
Elizabeth Hodgkin, of Amnesty International, who has a bulging case file of arrests, said: “I cannot believe the Americans are so stupid and insensitive as to behave like this after all the trouble they have had over Guantanamo Bay. They must treat their detainees humanely and let them have visits from family and lawyers.”
Amnesty claims that 80 minors have been detained, accused of petty offences including writing anti-American graffiti or, in the case of two teenage boys, climbing on the back of a US troop carrier to hitch a lift through a main street in Baghdad.
One of the most disturbing incidents concerns Sufiyan Abd al-Ghani, 11, who was with his uncle in a car that was stopped near his home in Hay al-Jihad at just after 10pm on May 27. The boy’s father heard a commotion and rushed outside to see him sprawled face down on the road with a rifle muzzle pressed against his neck and US officers shouting that someone in the car had shot at them.
Sufiyan was made to stay on the ground for three hours, while more than 100 soldiers poured into the neighbourhood, searching houses and cars. Eventually he was taken away with his hands trussed behind his back and a hood draped over his head. No weapon had been found. The boy said that soldiers dug rifle butts into his neck and back and that the first night he was handcuffed and left alone in a tiny room open to the sky.
The following day he was moved to the airport, where he said for eight days he shared a tent with 22 adults, sleeping on the dirt, with no water to wash or change his clothes.
Sufiyan said that he was pulled from the tent one morning, hooded and manacled again, and driven to Sarhiyeh prison, to be kept in a room with 20 other youths aged 15 or 16 — regarded as minors by the Geneva Convention.
A woman inmate took his name and details and when she was released she alerted Sufiyan’s family. On June 21, the family obtained an injunction from a judge ordering the boy’s release, but they were told at the prison that the signature of an Iraqi judge no longer had legal authority. Even when an American military lawyer demanded his freedom, US troops refused to release him until the lawyer appeared at the prison. Privately US military lawyers say that they are appalled at how some of the arrests are being carried out.
At the gates of Abu Ghraib, frustration and anger force men such as Adnan Akhjan, 38, a former civil servant, to shout abuse at the US guards.
Mr Akhjan, whose 58-year-old father was arrested three weeks ago for driving a truck with no doors or headlights, said: “People are so sickened by what is happening they talk of wanting Saddam to come back. How bad can the Americans be that in three months we want that monster back?”
US officials say that they are struggling to cope with the continuing looting, as well as attacks on troops. They say that until the fledgeling Iraqi police force is fully operational and jails are repaired, they represent the only law and order.
Each morning at the Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad there is a silent line of Iraqis queueing to find out where a relative might be. The American authorities have said that they will not inform the Red Cross about detainees until 21 days after they have been arrested. The International Committe of the Red Cross has been allowed to see some of the prisoners, but says that it cannot even begin to guess at the numbers detained.
An Iraqi exile who had been in Baghdad for only three days after living in Denmark for the past 27 years found himself caught up in an American swoop after a shooting in a street market. Not realising that the man could read English, his interrogator made no attempt to cover up his case file, which described him as “suspected assassin”.
The man, who was held for more than 30 days, is afraid to give his name and says that he is now considering leaving Baghdad for good.
Shoot to kill, plead academics
Looters in Iraq should be shot and killed, according to experts working in partnership with the British Museum (Jack Malvern writes). Academics from the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, which has lost 13,000 objects to thieves, said that force was needed to protect Iraq’s heritage. Professor Donny George Youkhana, director of research at the museum, said: “We need armed helicopter patrols. They will need to shoot to be effective.”
Professor Elizabeth Stone, from Stony Brook University, in New York, said that all of Iraq’s 10,000 archaeological sites had been looted. “I would like to see helicopters flying over there shooting bullets so that people know there is a real price to looting this stuff. You’ve got to kill some people to stop this. It is a major problem.”
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No word yet from the newly liberated Iraqi people about some of them being summarily found guilty of theft, forced at gunpoint to strip, having a racist phrase written on their bodies, and then made to walk naked in public. No doubt the Arab/Muslim world is impressed by this display of "democracy," "freedom," "due process," and "no cruel or unusual punishment."
We wonder if the soldiers will be using this technique on their comrades who stole $13.1 million in Iraq. Or the journalists who looted Iraq's art.
All photos by Tomm W. Christiansen
The Daily Mirror (London):
SHAME OF U.S. TROOPS' IRAQI STREET JUSTICE: Apr 28 2003
Suspects stripped and paraded at gunpoint From Chris Hughes In Baghdad
STRIPPED at gunpoint and publicly branded as thieves a gang of suspected Iraqi looters are humiliated by US troopers' street justice.
After being hauled before a kangaroo court, the men had the words Ali Baba Haram - Arabic for "dirty thief, he stole" - scrawled on their chests with a marker pen.
They were then paraded in front of a jeering Baghdad crowd before fleeing to safety.
The "appalling" affront to dignity outraged human rights organisations who say it broke the Geneva Convention which protects prisoners against "insults or public curiosity".
It fuelled Iraqi resentment at the US "occupation" of their country, provoked dozens of demonstrations and flew in the face of guidelines aimed at winning over the locals.
But the trooper allegedly responsible was defiant. First Lieutenant Eric Canaday of Delta Squadron's 10th Engineer Corps said: "I don't think this kind of action is excessive.
"We've done it once before to another man we found looting and it worked perfectly."
Raw justice was handed down when the US soldiers arrested four men in Baghdad's Zawra Amusement Park on suspicion of looting.
After questioning and searching the suspects - and with the prison system in chaos - the troopers were at a loss to know where to take them.
So they made their own brutal law. Lieutenant Canaday allegedly asked a group of watching Iraqis how the men should be punished.
Troops said they were told the best way would be to brand them as thieves and strip them.
The fearful suspects were shoved at gunpoint into a tent where they were stripped.
With the help of a Muslim soldier in the unit they were then daubed with insults and forced into the street to brave a crowd screaming "Ali Baba!" One of the men, Zian Djumma, 20, said later: "It was horrendous.
"Now I want to find a hand grenade and throw it at the soldiers. I hate them for this."
He said he and his friends had entered the park, used by Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard for weapons storage, to search for one of their young brothers.
Troops said the men were carrying a bag with spare parts for weapons.
Coming on top of an explosion at a US arms dump in the city which killed up to 40 Iraqis and seriously injured 60, the degrading scenes brought an explosion of fury.
Demonstrating outside the city's Palestine Hotel Adil Al-Harni, 41, said last night: "This is a disgusting way to treat people without trying them. How do we know these men were thieves?
"Even if they were, this is no way to treat them. If this is US democracy, they can keep it.
"It's just another way of keeping people in their place. I believe it will cause big trouble."
Amnesty International said: "It was an appalling way to treat prisoners. Such degrading treatment is a clear violation of US responsibilities.
"The US authorities must investigate this incident and publicly release the findings."
The Red Cross added: "The Americans have a responsibility to give good treatment to all prisoners, whoever they are."
US Central Command has pledged a probe.
At the heart of the row is a cultural split over looting. The Americans see it as a breakdown of order. Locals say they are only taking a share of what Saddam stole from them.
Baghdad markets now sell goods at four prices - for locals, for foreigners, for those who want to pay less for looted goods and for ultra-religious Muslims who condemn looting and will not buy stolen goods.
Ask a stallholder how much he wants for a pair of trousers, and he will reply: "Looted, sir, or unlooted?" Army trousers, robbed from government stores cost just $2. Unlooted cost $10.
But no one in Baghdad can guarantee they have not benefited from looting since no one is sure where goods come from.
When a religious leader re-opened a mosque in Baghdad's lawless Saddam City, he told a 400-strong crowd: "You can come in if you are unarmed and can swear on the Koran that you are not looters, former looters or have not benefited from looting."
Refusing to lie, the devout Muslims returned home.
The "Ali Baba" row is the latest in a string of embarrassing incidents for the US military in which troops have flouted guidelines on how to win Iraqis' "hearts and minds".
US troops have raised the Stars and Stripes at captured sites on several occasions, most notoriously on a statue of Saddam during the last push into Baghdad.
But allied forces were specifically ordered against such displays as it was believed the population would feel humiliated by the sight of a foreign flag flying in their homeland.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE News Flash
AI Index: MDE 14/097/2003 (Public) News Service No: 103 25 April 2003
Iraq: Stripped naked and humiliated by US soldiers
Amnesty International expressed concern today at the disturbing article and images portrayed in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet which show American soldiers escorting naked Iraqi men through a park in Baghdad. The pictures reveal that someone has written the words 'Ali Baba - Haram(i)' (which means Ali Baba - thief) in Arabic on the prisoners' chests.
The article quotes a US military officer as saying that this treatment is an effective method of deterring thieves from entering the park and is a method which will be used again; another US military officer is quoted as saying that US soldiers are not allowed to treat prisoners inhumanely.
"If these pictures are accurate, this is an appalling way to treat prisoners. Such degrading treatment is a clear violation of the responsibilities of the occupying powers," Amnesty International said today.
"Whatever the reason for their detention, these men must at all times be treated humanely. The US authorities must investigate this incident and publicly release their findings."
Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention clearly states that "Protected persons are entitled in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manner and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity".
To link to the article from Dagbladet please go to: http://www.dagbladet.no/nyheter/2003/04/25/367175.html
For a full copy of Amnesty International's report: Iraq: Responsibilities of the occupying powers please go to: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engmde140892003
Public Document ****************************************
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web: http://www.amnesty.org
Suspected Iraqi Thieves Stripped by US Soldiers: Journalists
Agence France-Presse Fri Apr 25, 7:17 PM ET BAGHDAD (AFP) - US soldiers stripped four suspected Iraqi thieves naked and burned their clothes before pushing them into the street, journalists from a Norwegian newspaper who witnessed the incident told AFP.
The soldiers also wrote "Ali Baba. Haram" in Arabic across the Iraqis' chests in a crude reference to the tale of "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves," said Line Fransson from the Oslo-based Dagbladet daily.
The phrase translates roughly as slang for "sinful thieves."
"We suddenly saw four naked Iraqi guys with four American soldiers," said Fransson, on her way with a photographer in the early morning to do a story about the suffering of animals at Baghdad's zoo in Zawra park amid the war.
"We thought they were going to the bathroom. They went into a building and a minute later (the soldiers) pushed them out into the main street," she said.
"Then the naked guys ran as fast as they could" to a friend who was waiting in a nearby car, she said. Photographs taken by the newspaper and shown to AFP appear to confirm the incident.
One of the Iraqis, who gave his name as Ziad and said he was 20, spoke to the reporters once he managed to find a pair of shorts. He claimed he and his friends were in the park to search for his missing younger brother.
The commanding army officer at the scene, First Lieutenant Eric Canaday, confirmed his men had stripped the Iraqis. He said he had been having trouble with young Iraqi men trying to steal light weapons being stored in the park.
He claimed he got the idea to strip them from people in the neighborhood.
"They gave us the idea so we took their clothes and burned them and then we pushed them out with thief written on them," Canaday was quoted as telling the journalists. He confirmed their clothes had been set on fire with gasoline.
"It has actually been pretty successful," he said, claiming that as many as 100 people had been trying to steal the weapons, including Kalashnikov rifles, which are being stored to eventually re-arm Iraq's security services.
"It's not as bad as it seems," a laughing Canaday was quoted as saying, "we only do it to the people who are stealing weapons."
"A little public shaming; no physical damage and everything will be fine tomorrow," he said. "Hopefully they will be embarrassed enough not to come back."
Canaday said his soldiers, who wrote on the Iraqis with a black marker, had "done this one time before" but that time "we only did it with one person."
He said he intended to continue the policy.
Fransson said that when the US soldiers pushed the Iraqis into the street they were shouting after them: "Ali Baba, Ali Baba."
"Ziad said he was so angry being humiliated by the soldiers that the only thing he wanted to do was find a grenade and throw it at the American soldiers and all the other ones in the city," she said.
The chief of US army public affairs, Colonel Rick Thomas, said it "certainly does not sound like the type of incident we have seen during this operation," but declined further comment. He could not say if an investigation would be opened.
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John Paul II's Address to New Israeli Ambassador to the Vatican
Calls for 2 Sovereign States in Holy Land
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 2, 2003 - Here is the address John Paul II delivered today when receiving the letters of credence of Oded Ben-Hur, the new Israeli ambassador to the Holy See.
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-2- The Babylon Observer has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of the articles nor is The Babylon Observer endorsed or sponsored by the originator.