"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A Long History: Israeli Espionage Against the US

[This survey of Israeli spying on the US was compiled in 1997.]

The Washington Post reported in a front-page story on May 7th, 1997 that US intelligence had intercepted a conversation in which two Israeli officials had discussed the possibility of getting a confidential letter that then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher had written to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. One of the Israelis had commented that they may get the letter from "Mega"-- apparently a codename for an Israeli agent within the US government.

This revelation has been treated by much of the press as something of an aberration, as Israeli officials have claimed that they do not spy on the US. Israel Foreign Minister David Levy told the Washington Post (5/8/97) that "Our diplomats all over the world, and of course specifically in the US, don't deal with such a thing." Prime Minister Netanyahu's office declared: "Israel does not use intelligence agents in the United States. Period."

Here is a sampling of the public record of Israeli espionage and covert actions against the US:

According to Time magazine (5/19/97), the US ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, last year "complained privately to the Israeli government about heavy-handed surveillance by Israeli intelligence agents, who had been following American-embassy employees in Tel Aviv and searching the hotel rooms of visiting US officials."


Three relevant documents were made public in early 1996:

1) A General Accounting Office report "Defense Industrial Security: Weaknesses in US Security Arrangements With Foreign-Owned Defense Contractors" found that according to intelligence sources "Country A" (identified by intelligence sources as Israel, Washington Times, 2/22/96) "conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally." The Jerusalem Post (8/30/96) quoted the report, "Classified military information and sensitive military technologies are high-priority targets for the intelligence agencies of this country."

The report described "An espionage operation run by the intelligence organization responsible for collecting scientific and technologic information for [Israel] paid a US government employee to obtain US classified military intelligence documents." The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Shawn L. Twing, April 1996) noted that this was "a reference to the 1985 arrest of Jonathan Pollard, a civilian US naval intelligence analyst who provided Israel's LAKAM [Office of Special Tasks] espionage agency an estimated 800,000 pages of classified US intelligence information."

The GAO report also noted that "Several citizens of [Israel] were caught in the United States stealing sensitive technology used in manufacturing artillery gun tubes."

2) An Office of Naval Intelligence document, "Worldwide Challenges to Naval Strike Warfare" reported that "US technology has been acquired [by China] through Israel in the form of the Lavi fighter and possibly SAM [surface-to-air] missile technology." Jane's Defense Weekly (2/28/96) noted that "until now, the intelligence community has not openly confirmed the transfer of US technology [via Israel] to China." The report noted that this "represents a dramatic step forward for Chinese military aviation." (Flight International, 3/13/96)

3) The Defense Investigative Service circulated a memo in late 1995 warning US military contractors that "Israel aggressively collects [US] military and industrial technology." The report stated that Israel obtains information using "ethnic targeting, financial aggrandizement, and identification and exploitation of individual frailties" of US citizens. (Washington Post, 1/30/96) (This report was criticized by several groups for allegedly implying that Americans Jews were particularly suspect.)


From New York Times December 22, 1985, by David K. Shipler:

Many American officials are convinced of Israel's ability, on a routine basis, to obtain sensitive information about this county's secret weapons, advanced technology and internal policy deliberations in Washington...

The F.B.I. knew of at least a dozen incidents in which American officials transferred classified information to the Israelis, [former Assistant Director of the F.B.I.] Mr. [Raymond] Wannal said. The Justice Department did not prosecute.

"When the Pollard case broke, the general media and public perception was that this was the first time this had ever happen," said John Davitt, former chief of the Justice Department's internal security section. "No, that's not true at all. The Israeli intelligence service, when I was in the Justice Department, [1950-1980] was the second most active in the United States, to the Soviets."


From "The Samson Option," by Seymour M. Hersh
[Page numbers are from the Vintage paperback edition, 1992.]

The name "Mega" in the recent Washington Post story may be noteworthy:

[I]llicitly obtained intelligence was flying so voluminously from LAKAM into Israeli intelligence that a special code name, JUMBO, was added to the security markings already on the documents. There were strict orders, [Ari] Ben-Menashe recalled: "Anything marked JUMBO was not supposed to be discussed with your American counterparts." ("The Samson Option," pg 295)

After Jonathan Pollard was arrested for selling secrets to Israel, the Israeli leadership denied all knowledge. Hersh provides several sources indicating that they did know. Here's one:

The top leadership, of course, knew what was going on. One former Israeli intelligence official recalled that Peres and Rabin, both very sophisticated in the handling of intelligence, were quick to ask, as the official put it, "Where are we getting this stuff?" They were told, the Israeli added, that Israeli intelligence 'has a penetration into the U.S. intelligence community.' Both men let it go. No one said: 'Stop it here and now.'" ("The Samson Option," pg 296)

One of the little-known aspects of the Pollard case is that information was passed along by the Israelis to the Soviets:

For Shamir, the Israeli added, the relaying of the Pollard information to the Soviets was his way of demonstrating that Israel could be a much more dependable and important collaborator in the Middle East than the "fickle" Arabs: "What Arab could give you this?" ("The Samson Option," pg 299)

The Pollard information helped in Israel's ability to exercise "The Samson Option" -- to threaten the Soviet Union, and therefore the US, with nuclear war if they didn't get their way in developments in the Mideast. Disclosure of information to the Soviets also apparently led the Soviets to track down US agents:

One senior American intelligence official confirmed that there have been distinct losses of human and technical intelligence collection ability inside the Soviet Union that have been attributed, after extensive analysis, to Pollard. "The Israeli objective [in the handling of Pollard] was to gather what they could and let the Soviets know that they have a strategic capability--for their survival [the threat of a nuclear strike against the Soviets] and to get their people out [of the Soviet Union]," one former CIA official said. "Where it hurts us is our agents being rolled up and our ability to collect technical intelligence being shut down. When the Soviets found out what's being passed"--in the documents supplied by Pollard to the Israelis--"they shut down the source." ("The Samson Option," pg 300)


A portion of a 1979 CIA internal report, "Israel: Foreign Intelligence and Security Services" (from The Nation, "I Spy, You Spy, We All Spy," December 14, 1985, by Alexander Cockburn) included the following:

In one instance Shin Beth [the Israeli internal security agency] tried to penetrate the US Consulate General in Jerusalem through a clerical employee who was having an affair with a Jerusalem girl. They rigged a fake abortion case against the employee in an unsuccessful effort to recruit him. Before this attempt at blackmail, they had tried to get the Israeli girl to elicit information from her boyfriend.

Two other important targets in Israel are the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) with headquarters in Jerusalem. There have been two or three crude efforts to recruit Marine guards for monetary reward. In the cases involving UNTSO personnel, the operations involved intimidation and blackmail.

In 1954, a hidden microphone planted by the Israelis was discovered in the Office of the US Ambassador in Tel Aviv. In 1956, telephone taps were found connected to two telephones in the residence of the US military attache.


In March 1978, Stephen Bryen, then a Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer, was overheard in a DC hotel offering confidential documents to top Israeli military officials. The F.B.I. found Bryen's fingerprints on the documents in question, and he admitted to having obtained them the night before the meeting with the Israelis. Bryen was forced to quit his job, but was never indicted. He was later brought on to the Defense Department as a deputy to Reagan Administration Assistant Secretary Richard Pearle. There Bryen was in charge of such matters as overseeing technology transfers in the Mideast. (See "The Armageddon Network" (Amana Books) by Michael Saba, an officer of the National Association of Arab Americans when he overheard Bryen offer the documents to the Israelis.)

As late as 1992, Stephen Bryen was serving on board of the pro-Israeli Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs while continuing as a paid consultant -- with security clearance -- on exports of sensitive US technology. (Wall Street Journal, 1/22/92, Edward T. Pound and David Rogers)


* "The Lavon Affair": In 1954, Israeli agents attacked Western targets in Egypt in an apparent attempt to upset US-Egyptian relations. Israeli defense minister Pinchas Lavon was removed from office, though many think real responsibility lay with David Ben-Gurion.

* In 1965, Israel apparently illegally obtained enriched uranium from NUMEC corporation. (Washington Post, 6/5/86, Charles R. Babcock, "US an Intelligence Target of the Israelis, Officials Say.")

* In 1967, Israel attacked the USS Liberty, an intelligence gathering vessel flying a US flag, killing 34 crew members. See "Assault on the Liberty," by James M. Ennes, Jr. (Random House).

* In 1985 Richard Smyth, the owner of MILCO was indicted on charges of smuggling nuclear timing devices to Israel (Washington Post, 10/31/86).

* April 24, 1987 Wall Street Journal headline: "Role of Israel in Iran-Contra Scandal Won't be Explored in Detail by Panels"

* In 1992, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israeli agents apparently tried to steal Recon Optical Inc's top-secret airborne spy-camera system. (1/17/92, Edward T. Pound and David Rogers).

* In early 1997, an Army mechanical engineer, David A. Tenenbaum, told investigators that he "inadvertently" gave classified military information on missile systems and armored vehicles to Israeli officials (New York Times, 2/20/97).

* For detailed analysis of the Israel-US relationship, including covert operations, see "Taking Sides: America's Secret Relations with a Militant Israel" by Stephen Green (Amana Books). Also see "Dangerous Liaisons" by Andrew and Leslie Cockburn (Harper Collins).

* For information on economic espionage see "War By Other Means: Economic Espionage in America" by Wall Street Journal reporter John Fialka (Norton). Also see "Israel's Unauthorized Arms Transfers" in Foreign Policy, Summer 1995, by Prof. Duncan Clarke of American University.


Questions For Michael Moore Regarding Saudi Involvement in 9/11

Question 1: If Saudi Arabia were behind 9-11, why didn''t they leave the United States BEFORE the attack? It is an established fact that companies like Odigo received an advance warning of the 9-11 attacks before the hijacked planes had even left the ground, as reported in Ha''Aretz and the Washington Post. If the Saudis were behind 9-11 and were kind enough to warn Odigo, then why did they themselves wait until AFTER the attacks before they left, when the requirement for special permission from Bush would only call attention to their departure?

Question 2: Is Michael Moore aware that the video tape of Osama "confessing" to 9-11 has been proven a fake?

Question 3: Is Michael Moore aware that just ten days after 9-11, the FBI stated (and CNN reported) that the 9-11 perpetrators were using skillfully made fake IDs with identities stolen from Arab men?

Question 4: Is Michael Moore aware that FBI Director Robert Mueller has admitted in public that there is actually no evidence that proves the named 9-11 hijackers were actually on the aircraft?

Question 5: Calling attention to the Anthrax letters case, in which letters which appeared to to be written by Arab Muslims contained Anthrax spores identified as coming from a US Government laboratory. Is Michael Moore aware that neither of the two suspects in the case, Dr. Stephen Hatfill or Dr.Philip Zack, are Arabs, and doesn''t this case prove that Arabs are being framed for terror attacks in the United States?

Michael Moore rightly condemns the US Government for the USAPATRIOT act''s draconian assault opon our rights. However, one of those rights is that nobody shall be declared guilty of a crime without proof beyond a reasonable doubt. As Michael Moore professes a deep respect for American values, he should not glibly declare that someone is guilty of a crime without being able to make his case beyond that reasonable doubt.

There is a reasonable doubt.

And if Michael Moore is a reasonable man who respects American principles, he must acknowledge that.

Memes | August 30 2004

God is Not a Republican. Or a Democrat; Christian Leaders Refute Religious Right's Claim that Bush is God's Candidate

More than 40 Christian leaders and 40,000 faithful citizens signed a petition declaring that "God is not a Republican...or a Democrat" and that the Religious Right does not speak for them. The petition refutes claims by Jerry Falwell that "Evangelical Christians...need to get serious about re-electing President Bush" and by Pat Robertson that "George Bush is going to win in walk...the Lord's just blessing him." The petition calls for all Christians to take back their faith and appears as a full-page ad in Monday's The New York Times, paid for by nearly 3,500 supporters of Sojourners, the national Christian magazine and organization that initiated the petition.

The petition, found at http://www.takebackourfaith.org, further declares that Christians acting on personal conviction can choose to vote for any candidate, and that they should consider a range of moral issues in this election, rejecting single-issue voting. It notes that: "We believe all candidates should be examined by measuring their policies against the complete range of Christian ethics and values."

Rev. Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine, explained: "When poverty has risen each of the past three years -- that's a religious issue. The war in Iraq -- that's a religious issue. Taking care of the environment -- that's a religious issue." Rev. Wallis added, "This behavior by the Religious Right -- ordaining George W. Bush as 'God's candidate' -- is theologically outrageous. How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro- rich and pro-war? They've tried to hijack our faith -- it's time to take it back."

In the two weeks since the campaign's launch, more than 40,000 people have signed the online petition. The ad includes 45 prominent signers, including heads of denominations, presidents and professors of Christian seminaries and colleges, pastors, and authors. The diverse signatories include prominent Christians from across the theological spectrum, including best-selling evangelical author Philip Yancey, Yale theologian Miroslav Volf, Fuller Theological Seminary ethicist Glen Stassen, Evangelical Covenant Church president Rev. Glen Palmberg, Candler School of Theology professor of social ethics Dr. Robert M. Franklin Jr., Baptist minister and evangelical speaker Tony Campolo, Reformed Church in America general secretary Rev. Wes Granberg- Michaelson, Benedictine author Joan Chittister, Duke theological ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas, and Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM.

Due to an outpouring of responses from people across the nation, the petition is also appearing as a full-page ad this morning in The News & Advance (Rev. Falwell's local newspaper in Lynchburg, Va.) and The Virginian-Pilot (Mr. Robertson's local newspaper in Hampton Roads, Va.). In response to thousands of individual donations, Sojourners is also establishing a fund to help people of faith place the ad in their hometown newspapers.

Rev. Brian McLaren, popular Christian author and pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Maryland, described the petition's purpose this way: "The Religious Right has a powerful hold on many individuals and churches in our country. Many of them have never even heard a responsible counterpoint expressed by thoughtful, biblically rooted Christian thinkers and leaders."

Placement of full-page ads on the first day of the Republican National Convention follows the delivery of a similar message by Rev. Wallis to the Democratic National Convention in an address to a luncheon on faith and politics in Boston that week and in a Boston Globe op-ed in which Rev. Wallis declared that "the best public contribution of religion is precisely not to be ideologically predictable or a loyal partisan."

About Sojourners Web: http://www.sojo.net

Sojourners is a voice and vision for social change and publisher of award-winning Sojourners magazine, SojoMail e-zine, and Sojo.net web site. Founded in 1971 as a faith-based organization, Sojourners provides an alternative perspective on faith, politics, and culture through its monthly magazine, e-mail services, Web site, media commentaries, and public events. Ecumenical and progressive, Sojourners lifts up the biblical connection between social justice and spiritual renewal and nurtures community by bringing together people from the various traditions and streams of the church. Sojourners also hosts an annual program of voluntary service now in its twenty-first year.

Text of Petition Follows:

God is Not a Republican. Or a Democrat.

"It is the responsibility of every political conservative, every evangelical Christian, every pro-life Catholic, every traditional Jew, every Reagan Democrat, and everyone in between to get serious about re-electing President Bush." -- Jerry Falwell, The New York Times, July 16, 2004

"I think George Bush is going to win in a walk. I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. The Lord has just blessed him...It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad..." -- Pat Robertson, AP/Fox News, January 2, 2004

These leaders of the Religious Right mistakenly claim that God has taken a side in this election, and that Christians should only vote for George W. Bush.

We believe that claims of divine appointment for the President, uncritical affirmation of his policies, and assertions that all Christians must vote for his re-election constitute bad theology and dangerous religion.

We believe that sincere Christians and other people of faith can choose to vote for President Bush or Senator Kerry-for reasons deeply rooted in their faith.

We believe all candidates should be examined by measuring their policies against the complete range of Christian ethics and values.

We will measure the candidates by whether they enhance human life, human dignity, and human rights; whether they strengthen family life and protect children; whether they promote racial reconciliation and support gender equality; whether they serve peace and social justice; and whether they advance the common good rather than only individual, national, and special interests.

We believe that poverty-caring for the poor and vulnerable-is a religious issue. Do the candidates' budget and tax policies reward the rich or show compassion for poor families? Do their foreign policies include fair trade and debt cancellation for the poorest countries? (Matthew 25:35-40, Isaiah 10:1-2)

We believe that the environment-caring for God's earth-is a religious issue. Do the candidates' policies protect the creation or serve corporate interests that damage it? (Genesis 2:15, Psalm 24:1)

We believe that war-and our call to be peacemakers-is a religious issue. Do the candidates' policies pursue "wars of choice" or respect international law and cooperation in responding to real global threats? (Matthew 5:9)

We believe that truth-telling is a religious issue. Do the candidates tell the truth in justifying war and in other foreign and domestic policies? (John 8:32)

We believe that human rights-respecting the image of God in every person-is a religious issue. How do the candidates propose to change the attitudes and policies that led to the abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners? (Genesis 1:27)

We believe that our response to terrorism is a religious issue. Do the candidates adopt the dangerous language of righteous empire in the war on terrorism and confuse the roles of God, church, and nation? Do the candidates see evil only in our enemies but never in our own policies? (Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 8:12-13)

We believe that a consistent ethic of human life is a religious issue. Do the candidates' positions on abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, weapons of mass destruction, HIV/AIDS-and other pandemics-and genocide around the world obey the biblical injunction to choose life? (Deuteronomy 30:19)

We also admonish both parties and candidates to avoid the exploitation of religion or our congregations for partisan political purposes.

By signing this statement, we call Christians and other people of faith to a more thoughtful involvement in this election, rather than claiming God's endorsement of any candidate.

This is the meaning of responsible Christian citizenship.

US Newswire | August 30 2004

Not About Tiddly-Dee nor Tiddly-Dum

They don't have permits to demonstrate, and they don't want them.

"We don't ask for permission," said John Flannigan, a member of the A31 Coalition, the anarchist group so named for the dozens of protests it has organized for today, Aug. 31.

The protests are not about ousting George W. Bush or promoting John Kerry. For the organizers, today's plans of direct action and civil disobedience across the city are about challenging the nature of modern politics.

"We feel permits are part of the problem here," said A31 member Eric Laursen. "We're challenging a system that requires you to get a permit in order to speak your mind."

Among some of the events the anarchists are planning for today are actions at the Manhattan office sites of companies that the group feels have benefited from the war, such as the Carlyle Group, Rand Corporation, Hummer and Chevron. In addition, people who want to join the group's events are invited to meet up at 4 p.m. at Union Square.

Anarchists bristle at the idea of regimented authority and have been loosely banded to exchange ideas and plans, so it's unclear exactly what could happen Tuesday.

In preparation for the convention, anarchists have met in coffee shops and art lofts, churches and Internet cafes for more than a year planning a spectrum of action -- everything from street theater, die-ins and teach-ins to a convergence on the Garden and disruption of RNC events.

One action will remain a secret until moments before its execution. Anarchists will text message one another when the location is determined.

"As many people as there are in the street, there are going to be that many different kinds of civil disobedience," Flannigan said. Police officials say that, as with earlier protests, officers will not engage protesters unless they have to and do not want to create conflict where it's not necessary.

"We're aware of them and we have appropriate measures in place as part of the overall security plan," a police spokesman said.

A police source was more blunt.

"If they do bad things we're going to stop them," the source said.

Laursen recognizes confrontation may be inevitable. But he hopes the din of conflicts and arrests does not drown out A31's central message.

"This is part of building a movement," he said. "It shows people that you can take charge of your own dissent. You don't have to let a politician speak for you."

Staff Writer
August 30, 2004, 8:30 PM EDT

War Crimes in Indochina And Our Troubled National Soul

Swift Boat veterans' attack on John Kerry dishonors themselves and every brave soldier who spoke out against the atrocities committed in Vietnam.

We live in a time in which truth has become increasingly irrelevant. Reality is indistinguishable from spin, not only from politicians but sports figures, church leaders and business executives. It seems almost pointless to note the latest untruths - who has the time to research the facts amidst the welter of accusations, attacks, ripostes and counter-attacks?

There are certain lies so monstrous, so odious, so malignant, and so significant, however, that they cry out to heaven for rectification. One of these is the claim of the "Swift Boat Veterans" in their latest ad: that John Kerry lied when he stated that the U.S. had committed widespread war crimes in Indochina as a matter of policy as well as individual wrongdoing.

This nation has no greater moral failing that our ongoing refusal to take responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of Indochinese peasants whom we killed in violation of the laws of war. Those who shape opinion in this country have no higher duty to history or nation than to research the facts of U.S. war crimes in Indochina, and to educate our people and children about them. How can we teach "personal responsibility" to our children, for example, if we refuse to take responsibility or even admit our illegal murder of innumerable innocent Indochinese? Doesn't true patriotism call for perfecting our democracy by admitting our crimes and ensuring they never happen again, rather than remaining silent and repeating them?

We cannot understand the true nature of our nation unless we grapple with the contradiction that we are both the greatest democracy on earth and have committed in Indochina the most protracted and widespread violations of the rules of war of any nation since the end of World War II. Our children cannot understand who they really are unless they grasp the grotesque fact that their parents' generation not only killed innumerable innocent Indochinese peasants in Indochina, but have tried to deny this reality for more than 30 years now.

The clearest U.S. violation of the rules of war was the widespread U.S. bombing and use of artillery against villages throughout Indochina, in violation of Article 25 of the U.S.-ratified 1907 Hague Convention which states that "the attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended, is prohibited." Uncounted Indochinese peasants were burned alive by our napalm, buried alive by our 500 pound bombs, shredded by our anti-personnel bombs, and obliterated by our artillery shells. By simply declaring non-combatants to be either combatants or their "supporters", the military justified illegal bombardment of populated areas, making millions of Indochinese peasants fair game for U.S. bombing and/or shelling.

Jonathan Schell described in The Village of Ben Suc, a book which strongly influenced the young John Kerry, how U.S. planes would fly over vast inhabited areas declared "free fire zones" by U.S. officials, and bomb villages and villagers alike. Equally devastating bombardment occurred from the millions more tons of ground artillery fired from army bases and navy ships upon undefended towns, villages, dwellings and buildings.I personally interviewed over 2,000 peasants who had escaped from U.S. bombing in Laos. Every single one said that their villages had been leveled by American bombing, and the evidence of this is still apparent to those who visit the Plain of Jars in northern Laos today. Most of this bombing was directed at undefended villages, since Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese guerrillas traveled through jungles so thick that their movements could not be detected from the air.

In Cambodia, U.S. officials claimed that they would not bomb a village unless the "Bombing Officer" at Nakhorn Phanom airbase in Thailand certified that enemy soldiers were present. This was a baldfaced lie. I tape recorded conversations between pilots and their controllers while bombing was being conducted that showed definitively that the Bombing Officer was not consulted before villages were bombed, as reported by Sidney Schanberg in the New York Times in May 1973. I later interviewed the Bombing Officer at Nakhorn Phanom airbase. He said his only task was to ensure there were no CIA teams in the area where the bombing occurred. Undefended villages throughout vast areas of Cambodia, inhabited by two million people according to the U.S. Embassy, were leveled by U.S. bombing.

The United States dropped 6,727,084 tons of bombs on 60-70 million people in Indochina, more than triple what it dropped on hundreds of millions of people throughout Europe and the entire Pacific Theater in World War II. It fired an equally massive tonnage of ground artillery. We will never know how many innocent Indochinese peasants died from this massive and unprecedented U.S. firepower, but former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamera has estimated that 3.4 million Indochinese died during the war. Since the vast majority of these were killed by U.S. munitions, estimates of the innocents who died must begin in the hundreds of thousands.

John Kerry stated on Meet The Press in April 1971 that "I committed the same kinds of atrocities as thousands of others in that I shot in free fire zones, fired 50-caliber machine bullets, used harass-and-interdiction fire, joined in search-and-destroy missions, and burned villages. All of these acts are contrary to the laws of the Geneva Convention, and all were ordered as written, established policies from the top down, and the men who ordered this are war criminals."There is no serious doubt that this is a factual description of what occurred in Indochina, and that Kerry showed transcendent moral courage in stating it aloud - just as those who have remained silent about our war crimes, such as Bob Dole, Colin Powell, John McCain, Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush, have dishonored themselves and their nation. The dozens of soldiers who testified to having committed such war crimes at the Detroit "Winter Soldier" hearings, which so affected Kerry just prior to his Meet the Press appearance, had little reason to implicate themselves other than a desire to tell the truth.

Swift Boat veterans dishonor themselves as well as these brave young men, who so movingly described their participation in war crimes at considerable emotional cost to themselves, by claiming that they were lying. The Swift Boat veterans are also insincere in claiming that they are personally hurt because John Kerry is maligning their service in Vietnam. Neither Kerry nor anyone else has ever claimed that all, or even most, U.S. soldiers were personally guilty of war crimes. The reason that U.S. war crimes in Indochina were so massive is because they were the result of overall policy which did not adequately distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, and the major responsibility for these crimes of war thus lie with superiors who created and implemented these policies, not individual soldiers who carried them out. The responsibility of policy-makers includes not only the policies they created, but their failure to change them even when incontrovertible evidence existed that they were resulting in the widespread murder of civilians.

The Toledo Blade won a Pulitzer in 2003 for reporting that elite Army paratroopers murdered hundreds of civilians in a 7-month rampage in South Vietnam with the encouragement of superiors, and that high U.S. officials including Donald Rumsfeld were informed about their crimes but failed to bring charges against the guilty.

Official CIA involvement in widespread assassination and torture in Vietnam is also a matter of public record. CIA head William Colby testified to Congress that the CIA's Phoenix Program routinely assassinated thousands of civilians. At no time has he or any other CIA official presented any evidence that those civilians they murdered were in fact guilty of the crimes of which they were accused. And numerous Operation Phoenix operatives have testified that in fact local assassination teams were given quotas by Colby of the number of people they were to murder weekly, and that there was little evidence that their victims were in fact Viet Cong cadre. And the CIA's notorious "Office of Public Safety" funded and participated in the torture and murder of prisoners in a Kafkaesque South Vietnamese prison system far worse than Abu Ghraib.

As a result of "victor justice", no high-ranking U.S. official has ever been punished, or even reprimanded, for the crimes of war that they committed in Indochina. On the contrary. People like Henry Kissinger, who bears a major responsibility for laying waste vast portions of Laos and Cambodia, have been honored by our society. We do not teach our children that our nation is capable of the same kinds of violations of the rules of war as those we despise, or that American officials who commit crimes of war bear any responsibility for their actions.

This is not only a further outrage against the innocents we killed and to history. It also harms our national self-interest. Had high officials been punished for their war crimes in Indochina it might have made today's crimes like the prison scandal at Abu Ghraib less likely. This would reduce the growing Muslim hatred of America which has caused - and will continue to cause - so much killing of Americans.

But there is a far deeper issue at stake here. The success of America's foreign policy - and its ability to remain a healthy society at home - ultimately rests on its moral authority, on remembering that not only we but those foreigners we seek to influence have the same inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as do we. Post-war Germany acknowledged its responsibility for World War II crimes of war not only for the sake of its victims, but for itself. It understood that a nation that does not admit its failings to its children and the world cannot regain its moral center.

Tring Cong Son, the poet-troubador of Vietnam's Calvary, has written these words: "Corpses float on the water, dry in the field, on the city rooftops, on the winding streets. Corpses lie abandoned under the eaves of the pagoda, on the road to the city churches, on the floors of deserted houses. Oh, springtime, corpses will nourish the plowed soil. Oh, Vietnam, corpses will lend themselves to the soil of tomorrow."

The very fact that the issue of U.S. war crimes is at the center of a U.S. presidential race three decades after the end of the war is proof that we have not yet laid these ghosts of Indochina to rest. We can deny our crimes there, pretend that they never occurred. But we cannot erase them from our troubled national soul.

The basis of healing is the importance of acknowledging our wrongs, and making amends. America will neither regain its moral standing nor ability to improve the world until we teach our children that we created many of these corpses in violation of the rules of war, and that each had a name, a family, dreams and aspirations, and as much of a right to live as do we. If America is to become a nation based on truth again, let it begin with one of the most important verities of all: that we bear responsibility for the civilian deaths we caused in Indochina and need to make amends for them.

We have not even apologized to the families of our victims, let alone taken even such minimal steps as cleaning up the tons of unexploded ordnance we left behind that still kills dozens of Indochinese peasants yearly. It is to our honor that we have a Holocaust Museum in Washington to remember the innocent victims of World War II. It is a national disgrace that we ignore our own crimes against the innocents of Indochina. America will never be made whole again until we face the awful truth of what we did there.

Fred Branfman, as Director of Project Air War, exposed U.S. bombing of civilians in Indochina as it was occurring after interviewing thousands of refugees in Laos. He is currently a Santa Barbara-based writer

Fred Branfman, AlterNet. Posted August 30, 2004.

A No-Win Situation

Everyone wants to go to Baghdad; real men want to go to Tehran." That was the attitude in Washington two years ago, when Ahmad Chalabi was assuring everyone that Iraqis would greet us with flowers. More recently, some of us had a different slogan: "Everyone worries about Najaf; people who are really paying attention worry about Ramadi."

Ever since the uprising in April, the Iraqi town of Falluja has in effect been a small, nasty Islamic republic. But what about the rest of the Sunni triangle?

Last month a Knight-Ridder report suggested that U.S. forces were effectively ceding many urban areas to insurgents. Last Sunday The Times confirmed that while the world's attention was focused on Najaf, western Iraq fell firmly under rebel control. Representatives of the U.S.-installed government have been intimidated, assassinated or executed.

Other towns, like Samarra, have also fallen to insurgents. Attacks on oil pipelines are proliferating. And we're still playing whack-a-mole with Moktada al-Sadr: his Mahdi Army has left Najaf, but remains in control of Sadr City, with its two million people. The Christian Science Monitor reports that "interviews in Baghdad suggest that Sadr is walking away from the standoff with a widening base and supporters who are more militant than before."

For a long time, anyone suggesting analogies with Vietnam was ridiculed. But Iraq optimists have, by my count, already declared victory three times. First there was "Mission Accomplished" - followed by an escalating insurgency. Then there was the capture of Saddam - followed by April's bloody uprising. Finally there was the furtive transfer of formal sovereignty to Ayad Allawi, with implausible claims that this showed progress - a fantasy exploded by the guns of August.

Now, serious security analysts have begun to admit that the goal of a democratic, pro-American Iraq has receded out of reach. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies - no peacenik - writes that "there is little prospect for peace and stability in Iraq before late 2005, if then."

Mr. Cordesman still thinks (or thought a few weeks ago) that the odds of success in Iraq are "at least even," but by success he means the creation of a government that "is almost certain to be more inclusive of Ba'ath, hard-line religious, and divisive ethnic/sectarian movements than the West would like." And just in case, he urges the U.S. to prepare "a contingency plan for failure."

Fred Kaplan of Slate is even more pessimistic. "This is a terribly grim thing to say," he wrote recently, "but there might be no solution to the problem of Iraq" - no way to produce "a stable, secure, let alone democratic regime. And there's no way we can just pull out without plunging the country, the region, and possibly beyond into still deeper disaster." Deeper disaster? Yes: people who worried about Ramadi are now worrying about Pakistan.

So what's the answer? Here's one thought: much of U.S. policy in Iraq - delaying elections, trying to come up with a formula that blocks simple majority rule, trying to install first Mr. Chalabi, then Mr. Allawi, as strongman - can be seen as a persistent effort to avoid giving Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani his natural dominant role. But recent events in Najaf have demonstrated both the cleric's awesome influence and the limits of American power. Isn't it time to realize that we could do a lot worse than Mr. Sistani, and give him pretty much whatever he wants?

Here's another thought. President Bush says that the troubles in Iraq are the result of unanticipated "catastrophic success." But that catastrophe was predicted by many experts. Mr. Cordesman says their warnings were ignored because we have "the weakest and most ineffective National Security Council in post-war American history," giving control to "a small group of neoconservative ideologues" who "shaped a war without any realistic understanding or plans for shaping a peace."

Yesterday Mr. Bush, who took a "winning the war on terror" bus tour just a few months ago, conceded that "I don't think you can win" the war on terror. But he hasn't changed the national security adviser, nor has he dismissed even one of the ideologues who got us into this no-win situation. Rather than concede that he made mistakes, he's sticking with people who will, if they get the chance, lead us into two, three, many quagmires.

NY Times

The US Needs a Radical Change in Foreign Policy

Whether George W. Bush or John Kerry wins the US presidential election next November, a radical change of course in American foreign policy will be urgently required. The blunders of this administration, especially in the Middle East, have been breathtaking. They have spread mayhem around the world, gravely endangering the national security of the US and its major allies.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair bears a special responsibility for the disastrous state of affairs because, instead of restraining Bush - as he could and should have done on the key issues of Iraq and Palestine - he rashly followed in his wake, lending his seal of approval to America's follies.

The result is a revolt by Islamic militants, many of them ready to die for the cause, as has been seen in several terrorist outrages. The Sept. 11, 2001, attack is so far the most spectacular, but governments in many parts of the world are also in the firing line. No doubt the Islamic revolt against the arrogance and brutality of the West has been brewing for a very long time - perhaps ever since the carve-up of Arab Asia by Britain and France after World War I and the subsequent encouragement of Zionist colonization in Palestine - but actions in the past three or four years by the Bush administration and the Sharon government in Israel have poured fuel on the fire.

America's war in Iraq and its tolerance of Israel's destruction of Palestinian society have aroused unprecedented anger and protest in many parts of the world. In the Arab and Islamic world, the US and its Israeli ally are today seen as the source of all evil.

Even though the Middle East is a long way from US, the American public is at last waking up to the sharp deterioration in its country's international standing in a vital region, on which the US depends for its energy supplies. According to the Pew Research Center, foreign policy has displaced jobs and healthcare at the top of American concerns. A poll earlier this month revealed the most striking shift in American opinion since Vietnam: 46 percent of Americans consider foreign policy the most important problem, whereas only 26 percent give priority to the economy.

As casualties and costs soar, support for the war in Iraq is declining steadily. This awakening to the dangers of the outside world could have a considerable impact on the coming election, probably favoring Kerry. When he called for a more "sensitive" foreign policy in the "war on terror," Vice-President Dick Cheney ridiculed him. "A 'sensitive' war will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans,' Cheney said. But it is precisely the hard-boiled approach of men like Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that has drawn America into a quagmire.

Forget, for the moment, the fraudulent reasons for waging the Iraqi war, the faulty intelligence, the poor planning for the post-war era, the gutting of the Iraqi state, the large-scale killing and wounding of civilians in Fallujah, Najaf and other places, the wanton material destruction, the use of heavy weapons against built-up areas, the sadistic torture of prisoners. These might be described as failures of execution, the blundering of a careless superpower, drunk on its bloated military budget and trapped in the belief that overwhelming force can solve complex political problems.

But events have shown that military means alone are unable to quell a shadowy, organization such as Al-Qaeda or a nationalist insurgency such as the US is battling in Iraq. No effective strategy for either type of conflict has yet been devised by the US. Instead, Bush's doctrine of preventive war - which favors armed intervention over containment and seeks to impose America's will unilaterally - has driven a coach and horses through international legality. It has estranged some of America's main European allies, triggering a crisis in trans-Atlantic relations that will take years to heal. It has also enraged the Muslim world.

At the heart of America's failure lies the administration's refusal to recognize that the contemporary roots of Islamic terror are to be found in American policies. Although the whole world sees terrorism as essentially a response to US policy, senior American officials - and particularly the neoconservative friends of Israel among them - angrily reject any such link. For them, hostility to the US is the product of backward Muslim societies, "failed states" and an inherently violent religion. It has nothing to do, they argue, with America's wars or Israel's brutal occupation. More effort should be made, they say, explaining American values to Muslim opinion!

The committee investigating the Sept. 11 attacks recommended that the US government provide "much larger resources" to support broadcasts to Muslim audiences; rebuild scholarship and exchange programs; help fight high illiteracy in the Middle East; do more to encourage economic development and trade - in fact do every thing except change American policies!

Not only is this approach fundamentally wrong-headed, but it provides the US with an alibi for not addressing the "roots of terror" - that is to say the anger, desperation and rampant political grievance which cause men and women to want to hit back against their tormentors, even at the cost of their lives. For example, instead of stopping Israel's infamous separation wall and its expanding settlements - as it alone could do - the US is doing the exact opposite!

The Iraqi war was clearly a terrible mistake that is continuing to infect the whole region. The American dilemma - which a future president will have to face - is that that it cannot afford either to pull out or to stay. Both courses are extremely perilous. In the meantime, battles like those in Najaf or elsewhere risk turning the mass of the Shiite population against the US, with potential repercussions far beyond Iraq.

The war in Iraq compounded the error of 13 years of punitive sanctions that shattered Iraqi society and brought the country to its knees. Future historians might well conclude that had the US - and Iraq's Gulf neighbors - handled Saddam Hussein more intelligently after the Iraq-Iran war, he would not have invaded Kuwait in 1990, and the whole cycle of violence and destruction might have been avoided.

Having contained Iran in a bitter eight-year war, Saddam wanted to be recognized as America's prime interlocutor in the Gulf. With skilfull diplomacy he might have been tamed and even converted into a responsible statesman. Overthrowing him was not a vital US national interest, and certainly not a British one. But Israel and others saw him as a threat to be confronted and brought down.

The US may be about to make a similar error in its relations with Iran. Many Iranians, including leading figures in the conservative camp, are ready for a serious dialogue with the United States. But, instead of engaging with Iran - the one power, with Syria, which could help stabilize the situation in Iraq - the US accuses Iran of meddling in Iraq and threatens it with sanctions, or worse, if it does not give up its nuclear ambitions. As in the case of Iraq, Israel seems to be inciting the US against Iran. Anxious to retain its regional nuclear-weapons monopoly, Israel has even hinted it may attack Iranian plants, in the same way as it destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. Amazingly, the US has failed to warn Israel publicly against such madness.

America is poorly served by its two major allies: Britain has done too little to influence American policies, while Israel has arguably done a great deal too much.

Patrick Seale, a veteran Middle East analyst, wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR