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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

FBI Tactics Chilling Political Speech

(FindLaw) -- The FBI, no longer content with working to maintain order at political events, is now preemptively identifying and interrogating ("interviewing") possible demonstrators. It has summarized this strategy in a memo.

To make matters worse, the Department of Justice blessed the FBI strategy in its own memo -- suggesting that no First Amendment concerns are raised by the interrogations.

As I will explain in this column, however, the truth is quite to the contrary: The strategy, as outlined in the memo, is a serious threat to free speech.

Protest used to be part of the fun of politics
Throughout the Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton presidencies, and even to some extent during the Richard Nixon years, politics was fun. At least, political protesting had its lighter moments. (Nothing was really fun during the dour Jimmy Carter administration, and George H. W. Bush's presidency was, well, pretty boring except for the first Gulf War.)

Who can forget the great costumes and Nixon face masks that appeared at many political rallies and other events during the 1960s and early 1970s? Reagan and Clinton masks, the latter sometimes adorned with long, Pinocchio-type noses, added color and a bit of levity to political demonstrations throughout most of the 1980s and 1990s. There was, in a word, tolerance.

Reagan, with his constant good humor, almost always disarmed protesters with his wit. Conservatives wearing anti-Clinton T-shirts frequently showed up at Clinton rallies. The worst they might face from the then-president's supporters were scowls.

This atmosphere didn't mean security was absent; it was very present. In the 1960s through the end of Clinton's second term in January 2001, everyone knew if you caused disruption, Secret Service agents would be on you in an instant, as they should be.

But during that period, you didn't feel you were doing something criminal if you simply decided to show up at a rally with a protest T-shirt on, or lugging around a sloppy paperboard sign criticizing the president. You didn't feel intimidated.

Now, things are very different. The Administration and campaign of George W. Bush is squelching any possible hint of disagreement or protest at every political rally or gathering.

For example, people with T-shirts that hint at disagreement are not allowed anywhere near the events, nor even on the route traveled by the presidential motorcade. Think what they'd do to you if you showed up in a -- shudder -- mask.

But it's gotten even worse than that.

FBI memorandum on preemptive interrogation
As the New York Times has reported, in an October 2003 memorandum to law enforcement agencies, the FBI expressed great concern over the possibility that marches and rallies in Washington and San Francisco might become "violent, destructive, or disruptive."

The memo went on to urge law enforcement to monitor the Internet, because "protesters often use the Internet to . . . coordinate their activities prior to demonstrations." It also urged law enforcement to watch out for protesters who use cell phones to "coordinate . . . or update colleagues."

In the memo, law enforcement agencies at all levels of government are warned to be aware of "possible indicators of protest activity."

Moreover, even though the memo does not cite any evidence of violence likely to take place at "possible protests," the Bureau's memo concluded by telling law enforcement agencies to "report any potentially illegal acts to the" FBI (italics added).

Justice blessing of FBI memo
Doubtless, the Department of Justice, aware of the FBI memo, was concerned that it would be seen as urging law enforcement to begin monitoring persons who might be contemplating staging political protests protected by the First Amendment. So several months later, in April 2004 -- as the New York Times also reported -- the Department of Justice, which oversees the FBI, issued its own memo -- addressing, and dismissing, these constitutional concerns.

The memo came from DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). In the memo, OLC concluded, not surprisingly, that the monitoring, interrogating and gathering of evidence on potential political protesters raised no First Amendment concerns.

In addition, it went on to conclude that even if, hypothetically, such activities did raise concerns, any "chilling" effect would be "quite minimal" and would be far outweighed by the overriding public interest in maintaining "order."

Evidence suggests interviews at home and office
No chilling effect? In the last few months, evidence has been mounting that special agents are showing up at the homes and offices of potential protesters -- casting suspicion upon them in front of bosses, colleagues, family, friends and neighbors. This activity apparently has increased as the Republican Convention and the November election draw near.

If that's not a chilling effect, I don't know what is. The price of free speech should not be a high-profile FBI visit that makes all who know you wonder if you may be a criminal.

During these visits, the special agents "interview" the potential protesters to determine if they -- or anyone they know -- might be planning any political demonstrations. Of course, the "anyone they know" is especially worrisome -- hints of McCarthyism.

Also according to the New York Times, the final question the FBI agents ask is this: Does the interviewee know that withholding information on whether they know anyone else who might be planning a demonstration or "disruption" is itself a crime?

One can only imagine how this parting shot plays out: "Oh, by the way, ma'am, before me and my armed partner here leave your house, we'd like to remind you that if you haven't told us if you know someone else who might be planning a demonstration, you have committed a crime and we can prosecute you for not telling us that. Have a good night, ma'am."

This, of course, is pure intimidation.

Justice: Interrogation is not interrogation
The FBI, seemingly, takes an absurdly narrow view of what kind of tactics would, in fact, chill speech -- a view that excludes its own plainly chilling measures.

For instance, Joe Parris, an FBI spokesman, told the New York Times that, because "no one was dragged from their homes and put under bright lights," interviews of potential demonstrators are not "chilling."

So now we know the Administration's new First Amendment standard: So long as the government agents don't "drag you from your home" and interrogate you "under bright lights," you have nothing to complain or worry about.

The fact of the matter is, tactics such as those contemplated in last year's FBI memo, and approved by the Justice Department this past spring, do chill free speech. They do intimidate.

And, self-justifying memos by government lawyers notwithstanding, such tactics usher in an era of intolerance and fear that has no place in American politics.

Bob Barr, FindLaw columnist
Special to CNN.com
Wednesday, August 25, 2004 Posted: 3:23 PM EDT (1923 GMT)

Bob Barr served in the U.S. House of Representatives from January 1995 to January 2003. He was a senior member of the Judiciary Committee. He now practices law, writes extensively, works with the American Conservative Union, and consults on privacy matters with the ACLU



Widow's Bush Treason Suit Suppressed by the US media

"The decision 'not to do the story' appears to be multiplying all over the
nation." -- Fred Powledge, ACLU

A Grieving New Hampshire widow who lost her man on 9/11 refuses the
government's million dollar hush money payoff, studies the facts of the
day for nearly two years, and comes to believe the White House
"intentionally allowed 9/11 to happen" to launch a so-called "War on
Terrorism" for personal and political gain.

She retains a prominent lawyer, a former Deputy Attorney General of
Pennsylvania, who served with distinction under both Democrats and
Republicans and was once a strong candidate for the governor's seat.

The attorney files a 62-page complaint in federal district court
(including 40 pages of prima facie evidence) charging that "President Bush
and officials including, but not limited to Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice,
Ashcroft and Tenet":
1.) had adequate foreknowledge of 911 yet failed to warn the county or
attempt to prevent it;
2.) have since been covering up the truth of that day;
3.) have therefore abetted the murder of plaintiff's husband and violated
the Constitution and multiple laws of the United States; and
4.) are thus being sued under the Civil RICO (Racketeering, Influence, and
Corrupt Organization) Act for malfeasant conspiracy, obstruction of
justice and wrongful death.

The suit text goes on to document the detailed forewarnings from foreign
governments and FBI agents; the unprecedented delinquency of our air
defense; the inexplicable half hour dawdle of our Commander in Chief at a
primary school after hearing the nation was under deadly attack; the
incessant invocation of national security and executive privilege to
suppress the facts; and the obstruction of all subsequent efforts to
investigate the disaster. It concludes that "compelling evidence will be
presented in this case through discovery, subpoena power, and testimony
[that] Defendants failed to act and prevent 9/11 knowing the attacks would
lead to an 'International War on Terror' which would benefit Defendants
both financially and politically."

Press releases detailing these explosive allegations are sent out to 3000
journalists in the print and broadcast media, and a press conference to
announce the filing is held in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia
on November 26th (commemorating the end of the first futile year of the
independent National 9/11 Commission).

Imagine the world-churning implications of these charges. Imagine the
furor if just one was proved true. Imagine the courage of this bribe-
shunning widow and an eminent attorney with his reputation on the line. Then
imagine a press conference to which nobody came.

(Well, more precisely, imagine a press conference at which only FOX News
appears, tapes for 40 minutes, and never airs an inch.)

Now imagine the air time, column inches and talk show hysteria that same
night devoted to the legal hassles of Michael, Kobe, and Scott Peterson,
and divide that by the attention paid to our little case of mass murder,
war profiteering and treason. (OK, this is really a trick question because
no number divided by zero yields any answers whatsoever, which evidently
in this case is the result preferred.)

When you present documented charges of official treachery behind the
greatest national security disaster in modern history and the press
doesn't show, doesn't listen, doesn't write - just what in fact is really
being communicated? That despite all the deaths, lies, wars, and bizarre
official actions that flowed from 9/11 there's actually nothing there to
be investigated at all? That addressing desperate victim families' still
unanswered cries for truth is not a legitimate journalistic concern? That
news will now be what the corporate media say it will be, so drink your
infotainment Kool-Aid and kindly shut up?

(While the 9/11 blackout is the most flagrant sign of current media
dysfunction, it hardly stands alone. Where, for example, was our free and
press when Pentagon powerbroker Richard Perle confessed to a
London audience last month that yes indeed, our war on Iraq was illegal as
hell? He calmly explained that "in this case international law stood in
the way of doing the right thingâ?| [it] would have required us to leave
Saddam Hussein alone, and this would have been morally unacceptable."
(Guardian/UK, 11/20/03) And what news have we seen of the thousands of
Depleted Uranium deaths and birth defects now desolating Afghanis, Iraqis
and our own Gulf War troops? And whose looking into the $1.2 trillion the
Pentagon admits is "missing" or the half trillion in laundered funds now
propping up our banks? And how many times have you seen it reported that
unbid Iraq contracts have pushed the worth of VP Cheney's 433,333
Halliburton stock options to $26 million plus? But to return to 9/11, the
funny business has just begun. If you thought press performance after
JFK's death was a cynical farce, you ain't seen nothing yet.)
A few years back Harold Evans of the London Sunday Times, observed that
the challenge facing American newspapers "is not to stay in business -- it
is to stay in journalism.'' As corporations' authoritarian, profit-driven
consciousness comes to dominate both media and governance, you can expect
a lot more serial celebrity scandals and even less news on the way things
work or anything that really counts.
There is a clear method and message in this obscurantist madness. All this
media consolidation and tightening control is strategically aligned with
deregulation, privatization, social program-gutting deficits and free
trade regimes. They are all convergent tactics to enforce corporations'
full spectrum dominance over democratic humankind. If your progressive or
conservative instincts bid you to arise against this coup, standing with
our 9/11 widow is a good place to start. Her name is Ellen Mariani, her
lawyer is Phillip Berg and their complaint is now online at
http://www.nancho.net/911/mariani.html. Read it and weep, wail, or whack
out a dozen letters to the editors around your town, but for god's sake
make some noise. When 9/11 bombshells fall silent in the corporate
media's forest it's up to us to make them resound.

W. David Kubiak is director of Big Medicine, a research and education

institute studying the corporate takeover of our country, culture and


David Kubiak

Hamm Should Hand Over Gold

Something didn't seem right during the three-day equestrian team event last week in which Germany beat out France for gold. Upon further review, the judges on site determined that German rider Bettina Hoy crossed the start line twice on the show jumping course.

As a result, they docked Germany 14 points for the violation, which knocked it out of any medal, and elevated France to gold, Great Britain to silver and the United States, which would've finished empty-handed under the on-the-field ruling, to bronze.

The Germans protested, however, and an equestrian appeals committee reversed the judges' decision.

That was when the United States stepped in.

It joined France and Great Britain in an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The argument, simple: The original score was incorrect, as the judges admitted, and, therefore, Germany should relinquish its gold.

The Court of Arbitration agreed and the appeals committee's decision was overturned. France got gold, Great Britain got silver and the United States got bronze.

That was the right thing to do.

And that is why U.S. Olympic officials look like the biggest bunch of hypocrites in Athens right now. Dick Pound, move over.

The gold medal American gymnast Paul Hamm won last week in the all-around competition, making him the first American man to do so, came due to a scoring error. Korean Yang Tae-Young should have won it, but the judges entered the wrong start values for his routine, and he wound up totaling only enough for bronze. Hamm should've received silver.

None of that is in dispute. To be sure, three gymnastic judges were suspended in the aftermath for the screw-up. One of the judges suspended was American George Beckstead, who was overseeing the other judges.

Unfortunately, the gymnastics federation doesn't have an appeals process quite like equestrian. In fact, it barely has one at all.

It said the results could not be changed and would not be changed, even though it admitted the error, and that gold would not be taken from Hamm and given to the deserving winner from Korea.

That left only two solutions to the problem, a bureaucratic one and an honorable one.

The bureaucratic answer is for the Koreans to get a ruling in their favor from the Court of Arbitration. They were said to be debating whether to file a protest the other day. But the Court of Arbitration indicated to The Associated Press that it was unlikely to take the case because it doesn't rule on "field-of-play" decisions. The ruling it issued on the equestrian controversy, it clarified, was on the jurisdiction of the appeals committee to overturn the on-the-field judges' decision.

So that leaves only the honorable solution: Hamm should give the gold to its rightful winner.

It is amazing that this has even grown into a controversy. There was a mistake in the scoring. The wrong guy won. Fix it. Why is that so hard to do?

And forget for a moment that Hamm's exchanging gold for silver would be the absolute fair thing to do. How could he be more proud of what essentially is a stolen gold medal than an earned silver?

What a shameful affair this is for the United States. The most powerful country in the sporting world ought to be above accepting awards it didn't fairly win, especially when it just waged and won a complaint in its own best interest on essentially the same sort of issue.

This is yet another reason the United States is often so disliked by other sports fans around the world. It isn't that it wins so much as that it seems to get its way when others do not.

"I personally feel I was the Olympic champion that night," Hamm told the AP on Sunday night.

He didn't say he was giving up his gold.

The United States' stance is utterly disingenuous, and Hamm's is hardly in the spirit of the Olympics.

The Olympics ultimately are supposed to be about fair play. At least that was the idea of the modern Games' founder, Pierre de Coubertin, who believed that sport was the foundation of mankind's moral strength.

The International Committee for Fair Play every year honors some athlete with a trophy in Coubertin's name for upholding the ideal of fair play. This year's winner was Tana Umaga, a New Zealand international rugby player. He was awarded for ceasing an attack in order to aid a Welsh player who lay injured and in danger of swallowing his tongue.

They call that sportsmanship, apparently a foreign word to our Olympic officials.

11:55 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Neocon Treason

Having experienced the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, do
Americans wish they had elected Patrick J. Buchanan president? Was
Buchanan America's last chance to put a true patriot in the Oval Office?

America was meant to cultivate its own garden, to steer clear of
foreign entanglements and permanent alliances, and to serve as an example to
others. Instead, the U.S. has become a "democratic imperialist."

In a new book dedicated to Ronald Reagan, Where the Right Went Wrong:
How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the
Bush Presidency, Buchanan rues the rise of Jacobin America. A
neoconservative cabal allied with Israel's right-wing Likud Party has captured our
government and initiated a new crusade against Islam.

In a chapter that is must reading for every American who thinks
President Bush should be reelected, Buchanan asks: "Who are they, the

When you find out, you will want nothing further to do with the
president who sponsored them and gave them unbridled power to launch America
into permanent war in the Middle East.

The neocons have declared America at war with 1 billion Muslims who
have done us no harm. Simultaneously, the neocons destroyed our
traditional alliances. Instead of isolating a terrorist enemy, neocons have
isolated America.

Al-Qaeda is not a state or a country. It is a non-governmental
organization that rejects America's decadent culture and opposes the
U.S.-Israeli alliance that brutally oppresses Palestinians to the shame of all

It is impossible to fight al-Qaeda by invading and occupying Muslim
countries. Bush's invasion of Iraq has achieved nothing for the U.S. but
death and expense. For al-Qaeda it has radicalized the Muslim world and
created recruits.

"The neoconservatives," writes Buchanan, "are marinated in conceit, and
their hubris may yet prove their undoing. And ours as well."

The failure of the U.S. occupation in Iraq has certainly demonstrated
the limits to U.S. hegemony. Despite limited armed opposition, U.S.
military forces do not seem able to control a single Iraqi city. If
rebellion were to become general or if Iraqis had effective weapons against
tanks and air power, the U.S. would have to withdraw its army.

Buchanan explains how the neocons used the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on
the World Trade Center to put into operation their preconceived plan,
drafted years prior to Sept. 11, to invade Iraq.

In 1996, neoconservatives currently serving in the Bush administration
wrote a policy paper for Israeli right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu. In the policy paper, Douglas Feith (currently undersecretary of
defense), David Wurmser (VP Cheney's staff) and Richard Perle (Defense
Review Board) called for "removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq ¨C
an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right."

Today the entire world, with the exception of the propagandized
American public, knows that Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with the Sept.
11 attack on the U.S. But for "Washington's Likudniks," that was beside
the point. It was Israel's interests that they had in mind, not
America's. Osama bin Laden got away while the U.S. was diverted into invading

In 1997 Feith wrote in his "Strategy for Israel" that the U.S. and
Israel should conquer Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Moreover, Israel should
reoccupy "the areas under Palestinian Authority control," though "the price
in blood would be high."

We are now watching this neocon strategy unfold. Iraq has been invaded.
Israel's Likud Party, with U.S. complicity, is grabbing more of the
Palestinian West Bank. Last week, neocon Undersecretary of State John
Bolton began beating the war drums against Iran for allegedly possessing
weapons of mass destruction that "pose grave threats to international

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, neocon Max Boot defined support for
Israel as a "key tenet of neoconservatism." What, asks Buchanan, about
support for America? America's interest should be the focus of the Bush
administration. When did America's interests become subsumed in the
interests of Israel's right-wing Likud Party?

If Americans don't want a generation of sons dying in Middle Eastern
deserts, they had best take Buchanan's question to heart.

Paul Craig Roberts


Not since the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and the Nazi takeover in
Germany has a western nation seen the kind of collapse of individual
freedom that the United States of America is currently seeing. Under
President George W. Bush, the constitutional protections of our liberties
are speedily vanishing. News reports of the demise of our freedoms are so
common it is difficult to keep up with all of them.

For example, the August 16 edition of Newsweek reports, "Rep. Porter
Goss, President Bush's nominee to head the CIA, recently introduced
legislation that would give the president new authority to direct CIA agents
to conduct law-enforcement operations inside the United States -
including arresting American citizens.
"The legislation, introduced by Goss on June 16 and touted as an
'intelligence reform' bill, would substantially restructure the U.S.
intelligence community by giving the director of the Central Intelligence (DCI)
broad new powers to oversee its various components scattered throughout
the government."
Another report of America's dissolving liberties was published by World
Net Daily on June 21, 2004. It said, "President Bush plans to unveil
next month a sweeping mental health initiative that recommends screening
for every citizen and promotes the use of expensive antidepressants and
antipsychotic drugs favored by supporters of the administration."

Can anyone imagine anything more Orwellian than allowing the federal
government to be given the power to "screen" every American citizen? This
is right out of Huxley's "Brave New World."
Another disturbing report comes from The New American. It told how the
U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the "right" of President Bush to suspend
habeas corpus protections of U.S. citizens. The vote was 8-1 with only
Justice Antonin Scalia dissenting.
The New American report said, "In an unusually pointed dissent, Justice
Antonin Scalia condemned the majority decision for eviscerating the
habeas corpus guarantee, which prevents the government from indefinitely
imprisoning individuals without formal criminal charges or legal
"Invoking Alexander Hamilton's warning against Americans 'resort[ing]
to repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy
their civil and political rights,' Scalia observes: 'The Founders
warned us about the risk, and equipped us with a Constitution designed to
deal with it.' However, he concludes, 'the Court has proceeded to meet
the current emergency in a manner the Constitution doesn't envision'- one
that may ultimately prove deadlier to our system of ordered liberty
than anything al-Qaeda could inflict on us."
All Americans need to remember that it doesn't matter one iota whether
it is a fascist-leaning conservative or a socialist-leaning liberal who
attempts to steal our God-given liberties: each is equally a tyrant and
should be vigorously opposed by liberty-loving people everywhere! Well
did Benjamin Franklin say, "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."
The American people also need to realize that we are in a fight to
preserve our liberties and that the major source of this attack against our
freedoms is coming, not from Baghdad, but from Washington, D.C.
Therefore, be they Democrats or Republicans, men or women, whites or
blacks, conservatives or liberals, Christians or pagans, all who attempt
to use their political or judicial offices to trample our
constitutionally protected liberties must be met with unyielding resistance!
© 2004 Pastor Chuck Baldwin - All Rights Reserved

DU Syndrome Stricken Vets Denied Care

Pentagon Hides DU Dangers to Deny Medical Care to Vets

Far from the radioactive battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, another war is being waged. This war, over the use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons, is being fought between the military top brass and the men who understand the dangers of DU: former military doctors and nuclear scientists.

This war is for the truth about uranium weapons, and the consequences of their use, and has been waged for more than 13 years—since the U.S. government first used DU weapons against Iraq. Most Americans, however, are unaware of this historic struggle, because the Pentagon has used its power to prevent information about DU from reaching the public.

John Hanchette, editor of USA Today from 1991 to 2001, in a recent interview with anti-DU activist Leuren Moret, said he had written several news stories about the effects of DU on gulf wars veterans. Every time he was ready to publish a story about the devastating illnesses afflicting soldiers, however, the Pentagon called USA Today and pressured him not to publish the story. Hanchette was eventually replaced as editor and now teaches journalism to college students.

Dr. Doug Rokke, 37-year Army veteran and former director of the Army’s Depleted Uranium Project, has become an outspoken “warrior for peace” in the war against DU weapons. Rokke is fighting for medical care for all people exposed to DU: active soldiers, veterans and civilians, including Iraqis, and for “remediation” or cleansing of all DU-contaminated land.

“Anyone who demands medical care and environmental remediation faces ongoing and blatant retaliation,” Rokke told AFP. “Anybody who speaks up—their career ends.”

During Gulf War I, Rokke was theater health physicist with the 12th Preventive Medicine Command professional staff and served on three special operations teams. Rokke and members of his teams were exposed to large amounts of uranium during recovery of U.S. tanks and armored vehicles mistakenly hit by DU weapons.

Today, Rokke is fighting to get the Pentagon to abide by its regulations regarding care for individuals exposed to uranium and remediation of contaminated areas.

The military records of one of Rokke’s comrades, who suffers from the effects of DU exposure, have been completely “gutted” from Army archives, Rokke told AFP.

“They [defense officials] willfully ignore existing Department of Defense directives that require prompt and effective medical care be provided to ‘all’ exposed individuals,” Rokke says.

Rokke points to a U.S. Army Medical Command memo dated April 29, 2004, from Lt. Gen. James B. Peake about medical management of Army personnel exposed to DU. The memo, which says “all personnel with actual or potential exposures to DU will be identified, assessed, treated (if needed), and assigned a potential exposure level (I, II, or III),” reiterates the U.S. Army regulations originally written by Rokke in 1991, he said.

“A radio bioassay has to be done within a few days of exposure,” Rokke said. “This means nasal and pharyngeal swabs being taken and 24-hour urine and fecal analysis.

“Today,” Rokke writes, “although medical problems continue to develop, medical care is denied or delayed for all uranium-exposed casualties while Defense Department and British Ministry of Defense officials continue to deny any correlation between uranium exposure and adverse health and environmental effects.”

Rokke said the individuals at the Department of Defense are engaged in a “criminal” conspiracy to deny the toxicity of DU weapons. “The lies by senior Defense Department officials are designed to sustain use of uranium munitions and avoid liability for adverse health and environmental effects,” he said. According to Rokke, a recent Gulf War Review reported that only 262 vets had been treated for DU poisoning through September 2003.

The military’s strategy of lies and concealment about DU began in March 1991, shortly after the first widespread combat use of DU weapons by the U.S. government in Iraq, Rokke said.

On March 1, 1991, Lt. Col. Michael V. Ziehmn of Los Alamos National Lab wrote a memo about the effectiveness of DU penetrators. The “future existence” of DU weapons should be ensured by active “proponency” by the Department of Defense, Ziehmn wrote.

“If proponency is not garnered, it is possible that we stand to lose a valuable combat capability,” Ziehmn wrote. “I believe we should keep this sensitive issue at mind when after-action reports are written.”

When American Free Press began this series on DU weapons, the U.S. Army alerted the Centers for Disease Control, an Atlanta-based agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The CDC is going to do a whitewash on DU,” Marion Fulk, a former nuclear chemical physicist at Lawrence Livermore Lab, said. Fulk told AFP he had received this information directly from CDC officials.

AFP asked Stephanie C. Creel of the CDC about its position on the toxicity of DU. Creel said the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) on-line “fact sheet” would provide the “most in-depth information” on the subject.

The ATSDR fact sheet: “The radiation damage from exposure to high levels of natural or depleted uranium are [sic] not known to cause cancer.”

“No apparent public health hazard,” the CDC assessment of Livermore lab, published June 29, said about local exposure levels to tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, Fulk said.

“It’s nonsense,” Fulk said. “It’s been dumped all around the area. It goes through glass and steel.”

Depleted uranium is a misnomer, according to Fulk. Depleted uranium, mostly U-238, is uranium that has had the naturally occurring fissile material, U-235, removed. DU is very radioactive, however. While one gram of U-235 emits 81,000 alpha particles per second, U-238 emits 12,000 per second. These high-energy particles coming from DU particles lodged in the body cause the most damage, according to Fulk and others.

“Depleted uranium dust that is inhaled gets transferred from the lungs to the regional lymph nodes, where they can bombard a small number of cells in their immediate vicinity with intense alpha radiation,” said Dr. Asaf Durakovic, former Pentagon expert on DU.

Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), a defense contractor in San Diego, published an extensive article about the dangers of DU six months before President George H.W. Bush waged war against Iraq in 1991.

“Under combat conditions, the most exposed individuals are probably the ground troops [who] re-enter a battlefield following the exchange of armor-piercing (DU) munitions,” SAIC published in its July 1990 magazine.

“Short-term effects of high doses can result in death, while long-term effects of low doses have been implicated in cancer,” SAIC wrote.

AFP submitted written questions to the U.S. Army Medical Command asking how the Army can claim that DU exposure is harmless when military documents have stressed its lethal toxicity.

Mark A. Melanson, of the Army’s Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine in Aberdeen, Md., responded in an email: “The two positions are not opposing. As with all potentially hazardous material, the amount determines the risk.”

Melanson wrote that the Army was complying with its own regulations regarding medical care for DU exposure, saying: “Soldiers are being screened by completing the post deployment health questionnaire upon demobilization. Troops identified as being at potential risk for DU exposure are directed to provide a urine bioassay for analysis.”

Rokke said: “That is too late. Hence they find a way out.”

AFP repeatedly tried to speak to Melanson about the quantity of DU that the Army considered hazardous. He did not return phone calls.

“An individual could [safely] breathe in up to a gram per year every year for 50 years,” Melanson recently told The New York Daily News.

“That’s absolutely absurd,” Fulk said. Fulk said the number of alpha particle emissions from a gram of DU lodged in the body over a year would be about the same as one-10th of all the cells in his body.

The inhaled DU particles have a tendency to bind with phosphate in the human body, found in the bones and the DNA. The alpha particle being emitted to the cells nearby “is doing the dirty work,” Fulk said.

Painful breathing and respiratory problems are the first and most common symptoms of DU inhalation, Rokke said. Dr. Janette Sherman told AFP she met a 31-year-old female former soldier at a Maryland veteran’s hospital who had recently served in Kuwait. Sherman, a toxicologist, was shocked when the young woman told her that she required a lung transplant.

Christopher Bollyn

© American Free Press 2004

Police Brace For Unauthorized Convention Protest In Central Park

Police Brace For Unauthorized Convention Protest In Central Park

NEW YORK -- Officials are quietly making plans to police spontaneous protests in Central Park on the eve of the Republican National Convention -- expecting thousands of demonstrators to converge on the vast urban parkland regardless of the outcome of this week's court battles.


RNC Section:




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"We believe they're going to the park," a high-ranking police source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday. "You can't keep them out."

Officially, the New York Police Department has stood by its demands that a massive anti-war demonstration on Sunday conclude on a stretch on highway on the western fringe of Manhattan. Protest organizer United for Peace and Justice has fought that plan in court, arguing it has a right to stage a rally on the Great Lawn in Central Park following a march past the convention site, Madison Square Garden.

Lawyers for the group told a judge Tuesday that it would cancel the rally if it is denied a permit, but large groups of demonstrators are still likely to gather in Central Park throughout the day.

United for Peace and Justice has argued that the rally would continue in the tradition of a 1981 concert by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel that drew at least 400,000 fans, and a 1982 anti-nuclear demonstration attended by more than 750,000 people, considered the largest protest in the city's history.

Park officials counter that no gatherings of that magnitude have taken place on the Great Lawn since the area was restored, from 1995 to 1997. Organizers of a free Dave Matthews concert last September controlled the crowd by issuing 70,000 tickets and hiring 400 security guards, they said.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, when asked this week about a possible unauthorized rally following Sunday's march, said that police have no plans to restrict access to the park.

"People are free to enter Central Park," he said. "We'll deal with situations as they arise."

Kelly didn't elaborate, and a Parks Department spokeswoman declined comment.

But police officials are assuming that protesters, even if denied permission to use the park, will end up there anyway on Sunday, and perhaps Saturday as well, said three police sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The department expects demonstrators, after marching past the arena on Seventh Avenue, will disperse and migrate to the Great Lawn or elsewhere in the park, the sources said. Police believe the turnout for an unauthorized protest -- which would lack a stage and sound system -- could be much smaller than what organizers have projected, they added.

Police would respond by dispatching an undisclosed number of uniformed and plainclothes officers -- some on bicycles and scooters -- to the park. Protesters would risk arrest only if they became disorderly or tried to disrupt other park activities, another source said.

"We don't want to be confrontational," one of the sources said.

The sources declined to detail any other possible enforcement measures.

The protesters would compete for space with between 150,000 and 200,000 people -- the average turnout in Central Park each day on summer weekends. This Sunday, games are scheduled on eight softball fields on the Great Lawn, along with a half marathon on roadways within the park.

Central Park, which opened in 1859, covers 843 acres between West 59th and West 110th streets.
© 2004 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Coalition of the Coerced

America’s allies rethink their Iraq commitment.

The Persian king Xerxes summoned his vassals to war against Athens in 426 B.C. thus: “… we shall bring all mankind under our yoke, alike those who are guilty and those who are innocent of doing us wrong. If you wish to please me, do as follows: when I announce the time for the army to meet together, hasten to the muster with a good will, every one of you; and know that to the man who brings with him the most gallant array I will give great gifts …”

Xerxes did a splendid job of browbeating scores of satraps and vassal kingdoms into sending troops to join his expedition against Athens, which the Persian emperor warned was a dangerous, lawless, insolent state that threatened the civilized world. Unfortunately for Xerxes, his invasion of Greece proved a military disaster.

President George W. Bush’s crusade against Iraq was just the opposite: it managed to convoke only an embarrassingly skimpy assemblage of vassal states, but the invasion proved a smashing military success, if a subsequent disaster.

Now, over a year later, many of America’s 32 allies, tributaries, supplicants, and camp followers that sent a total of 22,000 troops to Iraq are wishing they had never become involved and are seeking escape or giving thanks they are well out of the growing carnage in Mesopotamia.

For many of them, involvement in Iraq became a political poisoned chalice that enraged voters and threatened to undo governments from Tokyo to Tegucigalpa. What initially seemed like an easy, risk-free way of currying favor with Washington and obtaining more foreign aid, cheap oil, or White House photo ops has become a grave electoral liability, a diplomatic minefield, and a nightmare filled with car bombs and head-chopping fanatics.

Originally trumpeted by the Bush administration as the Coalition of the Willing, the grab-bag of military contingents dispatched at enormous U.S. expense was widely viewed across the world as a fig leaf to cover naked Anglo-American aggression against Iraq.

The incessant repetition of the coalition mantra by the White House, Pentagon, and the U.S. mainstream media was designed to portray the occupation as a humanitarian mission instead of what it really was, an old-fashioned imperial adventure that violated international law and the UN Charter. “Coalition of the shilling” was a more accurate sobriquet. Never has so much bought so little.

Only two nations sent militarily meaningful numbers of troops to Iraq: the U.S., 140,000 and Britain, 9,000. Add to this Anglo total roughly 40,000 U.S. and British-paid mercenaries, known in Orwello-Pentagonese as “civilian contractors.”

George W. Bush and Tony Blair are currently reaping a political whirlwind for the unnecessary war they started in Iraq. A majority of Americans and Britons now believe the war was a terrible mistake. Yet in another shameless political whitewash, an official inquiry in Britain just cleared Prime Minister Blair of any culpability, concluding that everyone, and thus no one, was responsible for “intelligence failures.” Most Britons greeted this fraud with the scorn and contempt it deserves. Blair’s fortunes are still cloudy as a result of Iraq, but he looks likely to hang on for now. President Bush remains on more solid political ground, to the astonishment of the outside world that cannot understand why Americans have not reacted more angrily to being duped into a bloody, expensive fiasco.

Other contributors of troops to the Iraq occupation are also feeling intensifying heat from their voters. The example of Spain is a vivid reminder to supporters of Bush’s Iraq crusade of what can happen to leaders who lose touch with their people. Spain’s hard-line conservative leader, Jose Aznar, ardently backed Bush on ideological grounds, while over 90 percent of Spaniards bitterly opposed their nation’s dispatch of troops to Iraq.

The bombs that killed 200 people in Madrid just before the March elections did not terrorize Spaniards into quitting Iraq, as enraged American neocons falsely claimed. This attack crystallized public anger over the misbegotten Iraq expedition. Spain’s new Socialist prime minister, Jose Luis Zapatero, made good on campaign pledges by immediately joining the Coalition of the Unwilling by withdrawing troops from Iraq, a move that was wildly popular in Spain. Honduras and the Dominican Republic followed suit.

Italy’s conservative prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has also come under intensive popular pressure to pull his nation’s 3,000 troops out of Iraq. Over 80 percent of Italians oppose military involvement there. But ideological solidarity between Berlusconi’s coalition partners on Italy’s neo-fascist and neo-Mussolinist far Right and the Pentagon’s neocons is helping keep Italy committed, though doing so has caused Berlusconi’s popularity to drop sharply.

After none of the fabled WMD were found, Poland’s former prime minister expressed grave doubts over keeping 2,460 troops in Iraq, but elected, in spite of intense domestic opposition, to maintain them until the middle of next year, a decision likely encouraged by lavish stipends from Washington. The Netherlands has announced it will withdraw its 1,100-man contingent by mid-2005.

Norway, New Zealand, and Thailand, all smarting from public protests, will pull their token units out of Iraq by this September. Ukraine, which sent 1,600 soldiers to forestall U.S. criticism of its egregious political corruption, is considering a pullout. By contrast, South Korea is grudgingly sending 3,700 more men, in spite of violent objections by its people and the beheading of a hapless Korean hostage.

Australia has only 250 men left in Iraq, but even this small number has become a major issue in its forthcoming election. Prime Minister John Howard is looking vulnerable on Iraq as a majority of Australians oppose his Middle Eastern adventure. In a memorably piquant Aussie phrase, antiwar Labor Party challenger Mark Latham described Howard and the other coalition leaders that sent troops to Iraq as “a conga line of suck-holes.”

The rest of the coalition is an opera bouffe collection of tiny states that sent token units to Iraq to curry favor in Washington. These include such martial titans as El Salvador (361 men), Denmark (420), Hungary (300), Mongolia (160), Lithuania (118), Georgia (70), Estonia (31), Kazakhstan (25), Macedonia (37), Moldova (50), Latvia (120), Slovakia (102), Azerbaijan (150), the Philippines (51), and Canada (maybe 31, which Ottawa claims are not really there). Most voters in these nations opposed sending troops to Iraq. Two exceptions: rent-a-states Romania and Bulgaria, which sent 700 and 480 troops respectively, in hopes of getting into NATO. The last Romanian military triumph was protecting German flanks at Stalingrad.

The only truly voluntary contributors—i.e., not bribed or bullied—were the Netherlands, in thanks for aid in World War II; Denmark, for obscure ideological reasons having to do with either right-wing politics or herring; and tiny Albania, in recognition of America’s salvation of Kosovo’s Albanians from Serb ethnic cleansing and massacres. Further strengthening the U.S.-Albania axis, Tirana’s neo-communist regime just announced that it will send 200 more soldiers to Iraq.

Hungary and other Eastern European states felt a deep of gratitude to the U.S. for their liberation from Soviet rule, though helping Bush’s occupation of Iraq may not be the best way to express their rapture over freedom from imperialism. Notably absent are any Arab nations.

The most interesting contributor is Japan, with 240 “non-combat” troops. This tokenism is the small price Japan pays for America’s security umbrella, which protects it from China and North Korea. It is also a subtle way for Junichiro Koizumi’s conservative government to begin acclimatizing Japanese to overseas commitments of their “self-defense” forces under the guise of peacekeeping and good works; Japan’s small but expensive armed forces are constitutionally forbidden to operate beyond the home islands. But recent Upper House elections in Japan went heavily against Koizumi’s LDP, in good part because of voter anger over sending troops to Iraq. This unease will go critical once Japanese troops are killed and wounded.

The Philippines just announced it would withdraw its 51 soldiers from Iraq after the kidnapping of one of its civilian workers, igniting fury in Washington. Other coalition members are trying to figure out how to get their men out of Iraq, which was sold them as a peaceful, money-making occupation—without incurring Washington’s wrath.

Most of the Coalition of the Willing were promised cheap Iraqi oil by Washington, or oil concessions. But as resistance forces sabotage Iraq’s oil pipelines, these promises are coming up short, and plundering Iraq’s wealth is turning out to be a challenge.

Ironically, far from building a powerful coalition to garrison Iraq under U.S. command, what President Bush has really managed to do is to provide formerly rudderless left-wing parties around the globe with a red-hot new cause with which to rally and electrify their supporters. At the same time, he has made himself the most detested man in world affairs. Those conservative governments that continue to support him and the U.S. occupation of Iraq do so at their peril and are becoming alienated from their own voters.

In short, Mr. Bush has done more to electrify the international Left and give it a sense of common purpose than anyone since Che Guevara. That’s true coalition building—just not the kind Washington had in mind.

Eric S. Margolis is the author of War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan and Asia, and a columnist, commentator, and war correspondent.

Eric S. Margolis
August 30, 2004 issue
Copyright © 2004 The American Conservative

Experts Call for Mass Medication to Curb Britain's 'Silent Killer'

A Government agency calls today for the mass medication of the British population to protect against a "silent killer" that is threatening the lives of 40 per cent of adults.

High blood pressure affects 14 million people in the UK and is a major cause of heart attacks and strokes, but almost 10 million receive no treatment despite the availability of cheap, reliable drugs, specialists say.

In the most far-reaching drug intervention ever recommended by an official body, new guidelines launched by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (Nice) call for the extension of treatment to the millions at risk to save lives.

A spokesman said: "This is by far the biggest impact guideline we have issued because so many people have high blood pressure."

The World Health Organisation said in 2000 that high blood pressure was the single most prolific cause of preventable deaths. It damages blood vessels in the eyes, the heart and the kidneys and is a major cause of cardiovascular diseases, which account for 30 per cent of all deaths in the UK.

But despite the havoc it wreaks, most people with high blood pressure feel well and are unaware their health is at risk. One-third of the 14 million people with the condition in the UK do not know they have it, and a further third who do know are not being treated. Of the four to five million people receiving treatment, one third are not being adequately controlled by drugs, Bryan Williams, professor of medicine and director of the cardiovascular research unit at the University Hospitals NHS Trust, Leicester, said.

Professor Williams, who was involved in drawing up the guidelines, said they were among the most robust ever issued. "Hypertension is often referred to as the silent killer because it does not present symptoms until it has already taken hold and caused damage," he said. "We hope the impact of these guidelines will mean fewer people will have strokes and heart attacks. If the population is to live longer, giving treatment to prevent disease is the best option even though it takes a long time to realise the benefits. I think this is the way to go and it is long overdue.

"There is more data on the treatment of hypertension than on any other treatment in medicine. We can answer the question of what works with a high degree of certainty."

Although no estimate has been made of the cost of extra drug treatment, he said it was "highly likely to be cost effective" because of the saving in treatment for heart attacks and strokes. He denied that Nice was promoting the use of drugs that could cause side effects for a symptomless condition. Even treatment with a single drug could cut heart disease by 20 per cent and the drugs had few side effects, he said.

Wendy Ross, a GP in Newcastle who helped devise the guidelines, said: "Once people start treatment they are likely to be taking tablets for the rest of their lives. Most are quite keen to avoid that and want to find out what they can do [about changing their lifestyle]."

The guidelines would lead to more people taking more drugs, she said. "There are still a lot of people out there taking one or two drugs who are not very well controlled. They need three or four drugs," she said. The NHS spent £840m on drugs for high blood pressure in 2001, accounting for 15 per cent of the cost of all drugs prescribed by GPs. Andrew Dillon, chief executive of Nice, said spending was set to rise sharply as a result of the guidelines but the amount had yet to be calculated.

Nice also publishes guidelines for the treatment of dyspepsia (indigestion) today, with a recommendation that most patients can be helped to care for the problem themselves with over-the-counter drugs.

* One in six hospitals does not have a stroke unit, which is "unacceptable", the Royal College of Physicians said yesterday. A national audit of stroke treatment found that although the care of patients was improving, it still fell short of the care given to heart patients.


* People with at least three blood pressure readings above 140/90 mmHg, taken on separate occasions, should be offered advice on how to reduce it by changing their lifestyle, and assessed for their risk of heart disease.

* This may involve changes to the diet, reducing weight and increasing exercise. Cutting back on alcohol, salt and caffeine and practising relaxation may also help to lower blood pressure. Stopping smoking does not reduce blood pressure but is important to cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

* If lifestyle changes do not work, drug treatment should be offered to those with a significantly increased risk of heart disease, based on blood and urine tests and family history.

* People with persistently high blood pressure of 160/100 mmHg or more should automatically be offered drug treatment.

* Drug treatment should begin with a diuretic, which increases urine production, and further drugs such as beta-blockers, calcium channnel blockers and ACE inhibitors should be added as necessary until the target blood pressure is reached.

* The drugs are off patent, available in cheap, generic form and are safe with few side effects

Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor
25 August 2004
Independent co.uk

Medical Care for the Atomic Bomb Victims in the United States

Profound physical, emotional and financial hardships characterize the socially neglected lives of....survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb catastrophes living in the United States no less than similar hibakusha in Japan. These victims, principally US citizens of Japanese ancestry who were studying or working in Japan when World War II began, and postwar brides of US servicemen, have long been engaged in a tenacious struggle to obtain adequate medical care.

Until recently, the poorly understood maladies of these A-bomb survivors were considered idiosyncratic even in advanced non-military medical circles of North America. The Japanese term hibakusha, literally "A-bomb received person," is now entering general use to designate all victims of nuclear radiation. The serious nuclear reactor accident at the Three Mile Island power station, and the medical claims of U.S. servicemen and civilians exposed to radiation at the Defense Department's nuclear weapons testing sites have led many others to realize that they are also hibakusha. The need for sophisticated knowledge about radiation exposure, and the treatment of radiation-related illness, is now more urgent than ever.

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims residing in the US are a special group among the nearly 370,000 survivors of the August 1945 onslaughts who have been medically registered as A-bomb sufferers by the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Japan. Since they were strong enough to break their roots and emigrate, their number automatically excludes the grossly injured and sufferers of acute radiation diseases. Their daily lives are for the most part manageable, but as the hibakusha reach their middle and later years, they report greater susceptibility to disease, and a slower recovery rate from illness. They vividly recall the monstrous injuries, deaths and lingering radiation poisoning of the A-bomb shocks. They find their terrible pains for the most part undiagnosed by the medical profession, and cannot avoid attributing their complaints to the holocaust. Any symptom, to the hibakusha, is a possible sign of premature death, and their worries are heightened by apprehension that their children and grandchildren may suffer serious health deficiencies and physical deformities.

And yet, if the hibakusha openly reveal their tragic histories and distressing psychic trauma, insurance companies may cancel or raise the cost of their health coverage, or amend policies to exclude infirmities resulting from the atomic bombings.

An Exclusion' Clause in many Blue Cross Plan health insurance contracts disallows claims resulting from "war injury," which would encompass the many radiation and other A-bomb afflictions in the hibakusha of 1945. (Moreover, Blue Cross corporations specifically absolve themselves of claims resulting from "atomic explosion or other release of nuclear energy" occurring after the effective date of the insurance agreement. This would bar insurance protection against future radiation release from nuclear misfortunes such as Three Mile Island.) The extent to which anemia or more serious blood diseases, such as leukemia, which debilitate the hibakusha are insurable with Blue Cross is unclear. Needy hibakusha subscribers may also find it difficult to obtain, through Blue Cross, Medicare and Medical insurance policies, the preventative medicine services they require.

Owing to the frustrating, decades-long inability of the survivors to obtain medical services in the US, the "Committee of Atomic Bomb Survivors in the United States of America," centered in Los Angeles and San Francisco, has invited two specialized medical teams from Japan to conduct examinations and lay the basis for future treatment. In March-April 1977, a mission from the Hiroshima Prefectural Medical Association and the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (formerly the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission), Hiroshima, was assisted by the Los Angeles County Medical Association and the Japanese-American Medical Association in examining 100 of the survivors in California. The Hiroshima physicians, through comprehensive medical examinations and screening by a survey and questionnaire, found that hypertension occurred in about 27 percent of the females and 10 percent of the males, that the incidence of female gynecologic surgery appeared high, and that a significant number of the hibakusha had low white blood cell counts. According to Dr. Thomas Noguchi, Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner, and one of the US physicians best informed on hibakusha symptomatology, the weakened blood formation systems of the hibakusha have led to a high degree of nutritional anemia, and there appears in addition to be a greater incidence of breast and uterine cancer than among the general female population.

(The herein above article, "Medical Care for the Atomic Bomb Victims in the United States" from the Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, Vol. 12, 1980 - and see "On the hibakusha in Japan", see the Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars. Volume 10. No. 2, April-June, 1978 , pp. 28-37 presented in compliance withe the Fair Use Doctrine for educational and discussion purposes.)

Stephen Salaff

When Truth Dies in Battle

Hermiston, Ore. — Amid the confusing debate over John Kerry's Vietnam record, one thing is clear: war - particularly the trauma of war - corrodes memory.

My father was killed in Vietnam in 1966, when I was 9. There were two official Army reports regarding his death. One said he was killed by friendly fire. The other claimed he was struck down by enemy fire. Newspaper accounts in the local newspapers (we were living in Tennessee) said my father, a career soldier, a staff sergeant with nearly 20 years of experience, was operating the howitzer that killed him. Then there was a nasty rumor that he had been decapitated.

Several years ago, I set out to see if I could figure out what really happened. I traveled all over the United States and to Vietnam. I gathered documents and conducted interviews. In a remote Kentucky town, I met my father's commanding officer. In Nebraska, I found his gunner. In New Jersey, I discovered the man who had issued the radio call for medical evacuation. In Georgia, I found a private who had been awakened by my father's screams as he bled to death. "It sounded like a wildcat," he recalled. And just when I'd given up on tracking him, the medic who had identified my father's body called me.

Each of these men remembers the events of July 24, 1966 differently. They all agree that not long after 5 a.m. a mortar round exploded in a muddy spot, nobody remembers exactly where, in the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam's Central Highlands. My father, his commanding officer and a medic were asleep in the same tent; their cots only a few feet apart. All three sustained injuries. The commanding officer was hit with hot shrapnel. "It looked like I'd run through a briarpatch," he said. The medic took a round in his buttocks. The daily log lists the last victim, my father, as "third man down." Bad weather delayed his evacuation. He died long before the chopper arrived.

From then on, though, the stories get convoluted. The commanding officer insisted the mortar round was incoming; so did the sergeant who was outside operating the howitzer for their battery that morning and said he heard the round come in.

But my father's gunner has always insisted that the round came from friendly fire. According to him, the sergeant was conducting routine harassing and interdictory fire that morning. One of the shells misfired and exploded in camp, near my father's tent. This version is supported by several of the men who were in the battery that day.

Rather than clarify matters, the autopsy report created more confusion. It stated that my father had a "possible GSW from back to abdomen." In others words, one former Army mortician explained, "Your father was shot in the back with an M-16." A small wound like that, the mortician insisted, could not have been mistaken for mortar shrapnel. It had to have come from a gunshot at close range. The commanding officer, however, maintained that the wound was the result of flying shrapnel.

I'm not sure I understand the events that led up to my father's death any better today than I did when the young lieutenant in the Army jeep pulled up in front of our home at Slaughter's Trailer Court in Rogersville, Tenn. and started my mother crying. Still, my search wasn't in vain. I learned that my father was a good soldier, well-loved and respected by those who fought alongside him.

"There's nobody I'd have rather have gone to war with," said Gary Catlett, my father's driver, whom I tracked down in California. "He was so confident. He had experience. He was the kind of guy that could walk through a minefield and have mines exploding all around him and he'd still be calm. He knew how to keep morale up. We respected him."

So, then, what about John Kerry and the Swift boat crew? Enough already. There are some things we'll never know. But there are also some things that are beyond dispute - even in the chaos of war. Mr. Kerry went. He served. Lucky for him, he got to come home and raise his daughters.

Karen Spears Zacharias is the author of the forthcoming "Hero Mama."
NY Times

Vast Force Is Deployed for Security at Convention

The New York Police Department and the largest armada of land, air and maritime forces ever assembled to provide security at a national political gathering are being deployed in New York for the Republican convention, according to federal, state and local officials. They said yesterday that they were planning an intentionally huge response to intelligence that Al Qaeda hoped to carry out an attack to disrupt this year's elections.

The country's terror alert level, which was raised early this month, will remain at orange status, or high alert, throughout the Republican National Convention and probably well beyond, according to several senior intelligence officials. They said they were increasingly concerned about an attack, even though there was no specific intelligence indicating a strike during the convention, which begins Monday.

"Have we collected intelligence that there is going to be a hit in the financial district during the Republican National Convention?" said Pasquale J. D'Amuro, the assistant director in charge of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "No. But intelligence we have collected indicates that Al Qaeda still desires to attack both domestically and abroad. They want to kill Americans."

With the alert level ratcheted up, even in the absence of a specific threat, thousands of Republicans arriving in New York are likely to be subjected to a new round of potentially confusing public warnings about the risk of attack alongside soothing official exhortations to enjoy the party, which will take place inside a security envelope surrounding Madison Square Garden.

"Attacking Madison Square Garden would be like pulling a bank job at Fort Knox," a senior counterterrorism official said, referring to the security measures being put into place this week. "It will be the hardest target in the world."

Officials from the National Security Council quietly visited New York last week for briefings with the local authorities. Today, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge will inspect arrangements for the convention.

The backbone of security is being provided by the 37,000-member New York Police Department, which has a budget larger than all but 19 of the world's standing armies. To prevent an attack, the department will flood the streets with officers and employ high and low technology, from seven surveillance helicopters to plainclothes detectives traveling the subways and eyeballing other riders.

Up to 10,000 officers, many reassigned from narcotics and other duties, will be part of an enormous show of force around Madison Square Garden. That display will include special heavily armed "Hercules" antiterror squads, snipers and phalanxes of officers set up around the arena to search buses and trucks before they enter the area. In addition to the helicopters, several of which can feed close-up video surveillance images to mobile command centers on the ground, 26 launches will patrol waterways, and officers will use 181 bomb-sniffing dogs, many of them borrowed from other law enforcement agencies.

"We can cover all the bases with 37,000 police officers," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said yesterday. "As big as the R.N.C. deployment is, we have a reserve on top of that. New York would be a poor choice for the malicious-minded to try anything, especially now."

Mr. Kelly has said that virtually the entire department will be mobilized next week, when in addition to the convention, the department will police the United States Open tennis tournament, and baseball games at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and Shea Stadium in Queens.

Not counting the costs incurred by federal agencies, security in New York is estimated at about $60 million, out of a convention budget of about $166 million, as concerns have broadened to cover not only the week of the convention, but also the weeks before and after it. Police are girding for protests, including a planned march on Sunday, which organizers have predicted will attract as many as 250,000 people, and more spontaneous demonstrations.

The Secret Service is coordinating security arrangements, but more than two dozen federal, state and local agencies will contribute personnel and equipment. Those agencies include the Long Island Rail Road, the Postal Service and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or Norad, which will help monitor the airspace over New York.

The Department of Homeland Security will contribute bicycle and motorcycle officers, helicopters crews, explosives-detecting dog teams, undercover agents, mobile communications experts, hazardous materials teams, intelligence analysts and Coast Guard teams trained in boarding suspicious watercraft. The federal government's costs will run in the millions, most of it from money allocated for special events.

Five officials who had been briefed on the latest intelligence analysis discussed the overall threat level as Republicans prepared to arrive in New York and as intelligence analysts searching for clues to Al Qaeda's intentions pored over computer materials seized during recent arrests in Britain and Pakistan. American officials have said since early July that they have received intelligence suggesting that Al Qaeda hoped to carry out an attack to disrupt the elections.

The officials said that an investigation of eight men charged with terrorism-related offenses in Britain had provided a clearer picture of the surveillance operations at five American financial institutions. The authorities now believe the surveillance was carried out by Issa al-Hindi. They said he traveled to the United States along with two confederates, Nadeem Tarmohammed and Quaisar Shaffi, who were arrested on Aug. 3 by the British authorities. Investigators have concluded that they stayed in Manhattan hotels during the surveillance.

The American authorities are compiling timelines that show Mr. Hindi traveled to the United States in 2000 and 2001 at the same time as Mr. Tarmohammed and Mr. Shaffi. The authorities are continuing to investigate whether other people helped the reconnaissance missions. They could include Adnan G. el-Shukrijumah, an associate of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the chief architect of the Sept. 11 attacks who was captured last year and is being held in an undisclosed location.

Mr. Kelly said that F.B.I. agents, police detectives and other investigators on the Joint Terrorist Task Force were working to learn where Mr. Hindi was, whom he was with and what he was doing during his time in New York City.

"Obviously what al-Hindi did in the U.S. and who he did it with is of concern," Mr. Kelly said. "So there is this examination of his whereabouts and his contacts in this county. That's ongoing."

Among the thousands of computer discs and other materials seized during the British arrests are bank account records, telephone numbers and credit cards that appear to have been used in the United States. That suggests that the surveillance group may have closer ties to the United States than was previously understood. So far, links to people in the United States are not clearly understood, but no one in the United States has been arrested, the officials said.

Investigators appear to be divided on the overall purpose of the surveillance group, which conducted detailed vulnerability studies of financial institutions in New York, New Jersey and Washington. There is little information in the voluminous cache of documents to suggest that the group had gone beyond the surveillance missions to starting preparations to carry out a plot, according to some officials.

But others investigators believe that impression may change. They said Mr. Hindi appeared to have spent time in the spring updating the three- and four-year-old surveillance reports on the financial institutions, possibly preparing to launch a plot against them. In addition, the officials said, there have been recent reports that Mr. Hindi may have studied improvised explosives in the spring in Pakistan.

Published: August 25, 2004
NY Times