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Friday, September 03, 2004

U.S. Press Puts Iraq Dead on Back Pages

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. newspapers are moving stories of American troops dying in Iraq to the back pages, the Washington Monthly has reported.

The magazine noted in its September issue that on July 9, the Los Angeles Times put the story of five soldiers being killed on page 7 and the New York Times put it on page 8.

On July 22, the magazine said, The Washington Times headlined a story "U.S. Troops Dying Two Per Day Since Turnover in Iraq," but only put it on page 10.

Also, "stories of the wounded, nearing 6,000 at last count," need to be told," Washington Monthly founding editor Charles Peters wrote. "Many Americans have no idea of the terrible injuries that have been suffered, and of the impact those injuries are having on the lives of the wounded as they return to the civilian world."

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.
All rights reserved.

Serving Two Flags: The Bush Neo-Cons and Israel

Since 9-11, a small group of "neo-conservatives" in the Administration have effectively gutted--they would say reformed--traditional American foreign and security policy. Notable features of the new Bush doctrine include the pre-emptive use of unilateral force, and the undermining of the United Nations and the principle instruments and institutions of international law....all in the cause of fighting terrorism and promoting homeland security.

Some skeptics, noting the neo-cons' past academic and professional associations, writings and public utterances, have suggested that their underlying agenda is the alignment of U.S. foreign and security policies with those of Ariel Sharon and the Israeli right wing. The administration's new hard line on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict certainly suggests that, as perhaps does the destruction, with U.S. soldiers and funds, of the military capacity of Iraq, and the current belligerent neo-con campaign against the other two countries which constitute a remaining counterforce to Israeli military hegemony in the region--Iran and Syria.

Have the neo-conservatives--many of whom are senior officials in the Defense Department, National Security Council and Office of the Vice President--had dual agendas, while professing to work for the internal security of the United States against its terrorist enemies?

A review of the internal security backgrounds of some of the best known among them strongly suggests the answer.

Dr. Stephen Bryen and Colleagues

In April of 1979, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Robert Keuch recommended in writing that Bryen, then a staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, undergo a grand jury hearing to establish the basis for a prosecution for espionage. John Davitt, then Chief of the Justice Department's Internal Security Division, concurred.

The evidence was strong. Bryen had been overheard in the Madison Hotel Coffee Shop, offering classified documents to an official of the Israeli Embassy in the presence of the director of AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. It was later determined that the Embassy official was Zvi Rafiah, the Mossad station chief in Washington. Bryen refused to be poly-graphed by the FBI on the purpose and details of the meeting; whereas the person who'd witnessed it agreed to be poly-graphed and passed the test.

The Bureau also had testimony from a second person, a staff member of the Foreign Relations Committee, that she had witnessed Bryen in his Senate office with Rafiah, discussing classified documents that were spread out on a table in front of an open safe in which the documents were supposed to be secured. Not long after this second witness came forward, Bryen's fingerprints were found on classified documents he'd stated in writing to the FBI he'd never had in his possession....the ones he'd allegedly offered to Rafiah.

Nevertheless, following the refusal of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to grant access by Justice Department officials to files which were key to the investigation, Keuch's recommendation for a grand jury hearing, and ultimately the investigation itself, were shut down. This decision, taken by Philip Heymann, Chief of Justice's Criminal Division, was a bitter disappointment to Davitt and to Joel Lisker, the lead investigator on the case, as expressed to this writer. A complicating factor in the outcome was that Heymann was a former schoolmate and fellow U.S. Supreme Court Clerk of Bryen's attorney, Nathan Lewin.

Bryen was asked to resign from his Foreign Relations Committee post shortly before the investigation was concluded in late 1979. For the following year and a half, he served as Executive Director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and provided consulting services to AIPAC.

In April, 1981, the FBI received an application by the Defense Department for a Top Secret security clearance for Dr. Bryen . Richard Perle, who had just been nominated as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, was proposing Bryen as his Deputy Assistant Secretary! Within six months, with Perle pushing hard, Bryen received both Top Secret-SCI (sensitive compartmented information) and Top Secret-"NATO/COSMIC" clearances.

Loyalty, Patriotism and Character

The Bryen investigation became in fact the most contentious issue in Perle's own confirmation hearings in July, 1981. Under aggressive questioning from Sen. Jeremiah Denton, Perle held his ground: "I consider Dr. Bryen to be an individual impeccable integrity....I have the highest confidence in [his] loyalty, patriotism and character."

Several years later in early 1988, Israel was in the final stages of development of a prototype of its ground based "Arrow" anti-ballistic missile. One element the program lacked was "klystrons", small microwave amplifiers which are critical components in the missile's high frequency, radar-based target acquisition system which locks on to in-coming missiles. In 1988, klystrons were among the most advanced developments in American weapons research, and their export was of course strictly proscribed.

The DOD office involved in control of defense technology exports was the Defense

Technology Security Administration (DTSA) within Richard Perle's ISP office. The Director (and founder) of DTSA was Perle's Deputy, Dr. Stephen Bryen. In May of 1988, Bryen sent a standard form to Richard Levine, a Navy tech transfer official, informing him of intent to approve a license for Varian Associates, Inc. of Beverly, Massachusetts to export to Israel four klystrons. This was done without the usual consultations with the tech transfer officials of the Army and Air Force, or ISA (International Security Affairs) or DSAA (Defense Security Assistance Agency.

The answer from Levine was "no". He opposed granting the license, and asked for a meeting on the matter of the appropriate (above listed) offices. At the meeting, all of the officials present opposed the license. Bryen responded by suggesting that he go back to the Israelis to ask why these particular items were needed for their defense. Later, after the Israeli Government came back with what one DOD staffer described as "a little bullshit answer", Bryen simply notified the meeting attendees that an acceptable answer had been received, the license granted, and the klystrons released.

By now, however, the dogs were awake. Then Assistant Secretary of Defense for ISA, (and now Deputy Secretary of State) Richard Armitage sent Dr. Bryen a letter stating that the State Department (which issues the export licenses) should be informed of DOD's "uniformly negative" reaction to the export of klystrons to Israel. Bryen did as instructed , and the license was withdrawn.

In July, Varian Associates became the first U.S. corporation formally precluded from contracting with the Defense Department. Two senior colleague in DOD who wish to remain anonymous have confirmed that this attempt by Bryen to obtain klystrons for his friends was not unusual, and was in fact "standard operating procedure" for him, recalling numerous instances when U.S. companies were denied licenses to export sensitive technology, only to learn later that Israeli companies subsequently exported similar (U.S. derived) weapons and technology to the intended customers/governments.

In late1988, Bryen resigned from his DOD post, and for a period worked in the
private sector with a variety of defense technology consulting firms.

Bryen and the China Commission

In 1997, "Defense Week" reported (05/27/97) that, ...." the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence reaffirmed that U.S.- derived technology from the cancelled [Israeli] Lavi fighter project is being used on China's new F-10 fighter." The following year, "Jane's Intelligence Review" reported (11/01/98) the transfer by Israel to China of the Phalcon airborne early warning and control system, the Python air-combat missile, and the F-10 fighter aircraft, containing "state-of-the-art U.S. electronics."

Concern about the continuing transfer of advanced U.S. arms technology to the burgeoning Chinese military program led, in the last months of the Clinton Administration, to the creation of a Congressional consultative body called the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The charter for the "The China Commission", as it is commonly known, states that its purpose is to...."monitor, investigate, and report to the Congress on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the Peoples Republic of China." The charter also reflects an awareness of the problem of "back door" technology leaks: "The Commission shall also take into account patterns of trade and transfers through third countries to the extent practicable."

It was almost predictable that in the new Bush Administration, Dr. Stephen Bryen would find his way to the China Commission. In April 2001, with the support of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) Bryen was appointed a Member of the Commission by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Last August, his appointment was extended through December of 2005.

Informed that Bryen had been appointed to the Commission, the reaction of one former
senior FBI counter-intelligence official was: "My God, that must mean he has a "Q
clearance!" (A "Q" clearance, which must be approved by the Department of Energy, is the designation for a Top Secret codeword clearance to access nuclear technology.)

Michael Ledeen, Consultant on Chaos

If Stephen Bryen is the military technology guru in the neo-con pantheon, Michael Ledeen is currently its leading theorist, historian, scholar and writer. It states in the website of his consulting firm, Benador Associates, that he is "...one of the world's leading authorities on intelligence, contemporary history and international affairs" and that...."As Ted Koppel puts it, 'Michael Ledeen is a Renaissance man....in the tradition of Machiavelli.'" Perhaps the following will add some color and texture to this description.

In 1983, on the recommendation of Richard Perle, Ledeen was hired at the Department of Defense as a consultant on terrorism. His immediate supervisor was the Principle Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, Noel Koch. Early in their work together, Koch noticed with concern Ledeen's habit of stopping by in his (Koch's) outer office to read classified materials. When the two of them took a trip to Italy, Koch learned from the CIA station there that when Ledeen had lived in Rome previously, as correspondent for The New Republic, he'd been carried in Agency files as an agent of influence of a foreign government: Israel.

Some time after their return from the trip, Ledeen approached his boss with a request for his assistance in obtaining two highly classified CIA reports which he said were held by the FBI. He'd hand written on a piece of paper the identifying "alpha numeric designators". These identifiers were as highly classified as the reports themselves....which raised in Koch's mind the question of who had provided them to Ledeen if he hadn't the clearances to obtain them himself. Koch immediately told his executive assistant that Ledeen was to have no further access to classified materials in the office, and Ledeen just ceased coming to "work".

In early 1986, however, Koch learned that Ledeen had joined NSC as a consultant, and sufficiently concerned about the internal security implications of the behavior of his former aide, arranged to be interviewed by two FBI agents on the matter. After a two hour debriefing, Koch was told that it was only Soviet military intelligence penetration that interested the Bureau. The follow-on interviews that were promised by the agents just never occurred.

Koch thought this strange, coming as it did just months after the arrest of Naval intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard on charges of espionage for Israel. Frustrated, Koch wrote up in detail the entire saga of Ledeen's DOD consultancy, and sent it to the Office of Senator Charles Grassley, then a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which had oversight responsibility for, inter alia, the FBI.

A former senior FBI counter-intelligence official was surprised and somewhat skeptical, when told of Koch's unsuccessful attempts to interest the Bureau in an investigation of Ledeen, noting that in early 1986, the Justice Department was in fact already engaged in several on-going, concurrent investigations of Israeli espionage and theft of American military technology.

Machiavelli in Tel Aviv

Koch's belated attempts to draw official attention to his former assistant were too late, in any event, for within a very few weeks of leaving his DOD consultancy in late 1984, Ledeen had found gainful (classified) employment at the National Security Council (NSC). In fact, according to a now declassified chronology prepared for the Senate/House Iran-
Contra investigation, within calendar 1984 Ledeen was already suggesting to Oliver
North, his new boss at NSC...." that Israeli contacts might be useful in obtaining release of the U.S. hostages in Lebanon." Perhaps significantly, that is the first entry in the "Chronology of Events: U.S.- Iran Dialogue", dated November 18,1986, prepared for the Joint House-Senate Hearings in the Iran-Contra Investigations.

What is so striking about the Ledeen-related documents which are part of the Iran-Contra Collection of the National Security Archive, is how thoroughly the judgements of Ledeen's colleagues at NSC mirrored, and validated, Noel Koch's internal security concerns about his consultant.

-- on April 9, 1985, NSC Middle East analyst Donald Fortier wrote to National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane that NSC staffers were agreed that Ledeen's role in the scheme should be limited to carrying messages to Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres regarding plans to cooperate with Israel on the crisis within Iran, and specifically that he should not be entrusted to ask Peres for detailed operational information;

- on June 6, 1985, Secretary of State George Shultz wrote to McFarlane that, "Israel's record of dealings with Iran since the fall of the Shah and during the hostage crisis [show] that Israel's agenda is not the same as ours. Consequently doubt whether an intelligence relationship such as what Ledeen has in mind would be one which we could fully rely upon and it could seriously skew our own perception and analysis of the Iranian scene."

- on 20 August, 1985, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense informed Ledeen by memorandum that his security clearance had been downgraded from Top Secret-SCI to Secret.

- on 16 January, 1986, Oliver North recommended to John Poindexter "for [the] security of the Iran initiative" that Ledeen be asked to take periodic polygraph examinations.

- later in January, on the 24th, North wrote to Poindexter of his suspicion that Ledeen, along with Adolph Schwimmer and Manucher Ghorbanifar, might be making money personally on the sale of arms to Iran, through Israel.

During the June 23-25, 1987 joint hearings of the House and Senate select committees' investigation of Iran-Contra, Noel Koch testified that he became suspicious when he learned that the price which Ledeen had negotiated for the sale to the Israeli Government of basic TOW missiles was $2,500 each.

Upon inquiring with his DOD colleagues, he learned the lowest price the U.S. had ever received for the sale of TOWs to a foreign government had been a previous sale to Israel for $6,800 per copy. Koch, professing in his testimony that he and his colleagues at DOD were not in favor of the sale to begin with, determined that he--Koch--should renegotiate the $2,500 price so that it could be defended by the "defense management system." In a clandestine meeting on a Sunday in the first class lounge of the TWA section of National Airport, Koch met over a cup of coffee with an official from the Israeli purchasing mission in New York, and agreed on a price of $4,500 per missile, nearly twice what Ledeen had "negotiated" in Israel.

There are two possibilities here--one would be a kickback, as suspected by his NSC colleagues, and the other would be that Michael Ledeen was effectively negotiating for Israel, not the U.S.

Like his friend Stephen Bryen (they've long served together on the JINSA Board of Advisors) Ledeen has been out of government service since the late1980s....until the present Bush Administration. He, like Bryen, is presently a serving member on the China Commission and, with the support of DOD Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith, he
has since 2001 been employed as a consultant for the Office of Special Plans OSP). Both involve the handling of classified materials and require high-level security clearances.

The Principals : Perle, Wolfowitz and Feith

One might wonder how, with security histories like these, Messrs. Bryen and Ledeen have managed to get second and third chances to return to government in highly classified positions.

And the explanation is that they, along with other like-minded neo-conservatives, have in the current Bush Administration friends in very high places. In particular, Bryen and Ledeen have been repeatedly boosted into defense/security posts by current Defense Policy Council member and former chairman Richard Perle, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.

As previously mentioned, Perle in 1981 as DOD Assistant Secretary for International Security Policy (ISP) hired Bryen as his Deputy. That same year, Wolfowitz as head of the State Department Policy Planning Staff hired Ledeen as a Special Advisor. In 2001 Douglas Feith as DOD Under Secretary for Policy hired, or approved the hiring of Ledeen as a consultant for the Office of Special Plans.

The principals have also assisted each other down through the years. Frequently. In 1973 Richard Perle used his (and Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson's) influence as a senior staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to help Wolfowitz obtain a job with the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. In 1982, Perle hired Feith in ISP as his Special Counsel, and then as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Negotiations Policy. In 2001, DOD Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz helped Feith obtain his appointment as Undersecretary for Policy. Feith then appointed Perle as Chairman of the Defense Policy Board. In some cases, this mutual assistance carries risks, as for instance when Perle's hiring of Bryen as his Deputy in ISP became an extremely contentious issue in Perle's own Senate appointment hearings as Assistant Secretary.

Every appointment/hiring listed above involved classified work for which high-level security clearances and associated background checks by the FBI were required. When the level of the clearance is not above generic Top Secret, however, the results of that background check are only seen by the hiring authority. And in the event, if the appointee were Bryen or Ledeen and the hiring authority were Perle, Wolfowitz or Feith, the appointee(s) need not have worried about the findings of the background check. In the case of Perle hiring Bryen as his deputy in 1981, for instance, documents released in 1983 under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the Department provided extraordinarily high clearances for Bryen without having reviewed more than a small portion of his 1978-79 FBI investigation file.


Perle came to Washington for the first time in early 1969, at the age of 28, to work for a neo-con think tank called the "Committee to Maintain a Prudent Defense Policy." Within months, Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson offered Perle a position on his staff, working with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

And within months after that--less than a year--Perle was embroiled in his first security inquiry. An FBI wiretap authorized for the Israeli embassy in Washington picked up Perle discussing with an Embassy official classified information which he said had been supplied by a staff member of the National Security Council. An NSC/FBI investigation to identify the staff member quickly focused upon Helmut Sonnenfeldt. The latter had been previously investigated in 1967 while he was a staff member of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, for suspected to an Israeli Government official of a classified document concerning the commencement of the 1967 war in the Middle East.

Perle's second brush with the law occurred in 1978. He was the recipient of a classified CIA report on alleged past Soviet treaty violations. The leaker (and author) of the report was CIA analyst David Sullivan. CIA Director Stansfield Turner was incensed at the unauthorized disclosure, but before he could fire Sullivan, the latter quit. Turner urged Sen. Jackson to fire Perle, but he was let off with a reprimand. Jackson then added insult to injury by immediately hiring Sullivan to his staff. Sullivan and Perle became close friends and co-conspirators, and together established an informal right-wing network which they called "the Madison Group," after their usual meeting place in--you might have guessed--the Madison Hotel Coffee Shop.

In 1981, shortly before being appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (ISP)--with responsibility, inter alia, for monitoring of U.S. defense technology exports, Richard Perle was paid a substantial consulting fee by arms manufacturer Tamares, Ltd. of Israel. Shortly after assuming that post, Perle wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Army urging evaluation and purchase of 155 mm. shells manufactured by Soltam, Ltd. After leaving the ISP job in 1987, he worked for Soltam.


In 1973, in the dying days of the Nixon Administration, Wolfowitz was recruited to work for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA). There was a certain irony in the appointment, for in the late 1960's, as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, Wolfowitz had been a student and protege of Albert Wohlstetter, an influential, vehement opponent of any form of arms control or disarmament, vis a vis the Soviets. Wolfowitz also brought to ACDA a strong attachment to Israel's security, and a certain confusion about his obligation to U.S. national security.

In 1978, he was investigated for providing a classified document on the proposed sale of U.S. weapons to an Arab government, to an Israel Government official, through an AIPAC intermediary. An inquiry was launched and dropped, however, and Wolfowitz continued to work at ACDA until 1980.

In 1990, after a decade of work with the State Department in Washington and abroad, Wolfowitz was brought into DoD as Undersecretary for Policy by then Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney. Two years later, in 1992, the first Bush Administration launched a broad inter-departmental investigation into the export of classified technology to China. O particular concern at the time was the transfer to China by Israel of U.S. Patriot missiles and/or technology. During that investigation, in a situation very reminiscent of the Bryen/Varian Associates/klystrons affair two years earlier, the Pentagon discovered that Wolfowitz's office was promoting the export to Israel of advanced AIM-9M air-to-air missiles.

In this instance, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, aware that Israel had already been caught selling the earlier AIM 9-L version of the missile to China in violation of a written agreement with the U.S. on arms re-sales, intervened to cancel the proposed AIM (-M deal. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the time was General Colin Powell, currently Secretary of State.

Wolfowitz continued to serve as DoD Undersecretary for Policy until 1993, well into the Clinton Administration. After that, however, like most of the other prominent neo-conservatives, he was relegated to trying to assist Israel from the sidelines for the remainder of Clinton's two terms. In 1998, Wolfowitz was a co-signer of a public letter to the President organized by the "Project for the New American Century." The letter, citing Saddam Hussein's continued possession of "weapons of mass destruction," argued for military action to achieve regime change and demilitarization of Iraq. Clinton wasn't impressed, but a more gullible fellow would soon come along.

And indeed, when George W. Bush assumed the Presidency in early 2001, Wolfowitz got his opportunity. Picked as Donald Rumsfeld's Deputy Secretary at DoD, he prevailed upon his boss to appoint Douglas Feith as Undersecretary for Policy. On the day after the destruction of the World Trade Center, September 12, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz raised the possibility of an immediate attack on Iraq during an emergency NSC meeting. The following day, Wolfowitz conducted the Pentagon press briefing, and interpreted the
President's statement on "ending states who sponsor terrorism" as a call for regime change in Iraq. Israel wasn't mentioned.

Douglas Feith: Hardliner, Security Risk

Bush's appointment of Douglas Feith as DoD Undersecretary for Policy in early 2001 must have come as a surprise, and a harbinger, even to conservative veterans of the Reagan and George H.W. Bush Administration. Like Michael Ledeen, Feith is a prolific writer and well-known radical conservative. Moreover, he was not being hired as a DoD consultant, like Ledeen, but as the third most senior United States Defense Department official. Feith was certainly the first, and probably the last high Pentagon official to have publicly opposed the Biological Weapons Convention (in 1986), the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (in 1988), the Chemical Weapons Convention (in 1997), the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (in 2000), and all of the various Middle East Peace agreements, including Oslo (in 2000).

Even more revealing perhaps, had the transition team known of it, was Feith's view of "technology cooperation," as expressed in a 1992 Commentary article: "It is in the interest of U.S. and Israel to remove needless impediments to technological cooperation between them. Technologies in the hands of responsible, friendly countries facing military threats, countries like Israel, serve to deter aggression, enhance regional stability and promote peace thereby."

What Douglas Feith had neglected to say, in this last article, was that he thought that individuals could decide on their own whether the sharing of classified information was "technical cooperation," an unauthorized disclosure, or a violation of U.S. Code 794c, the "Espionage Act."

Ten years prior to writing the Commentary piece, Feith had made such a decision on his own. At the time, March of 1972, Feith was a Middle East analyst in the Near East and South Asian Affairs section of the National Security Council. Two months before, in January, Judge William Clark had replaced Richard Allen as National Security Advisor, with the intention to clean house. A total of nine NSC staff members were fired, including Feith, who'd only been with the NSC for a year. But Feith was fired because he'd been the object of an inquiry into whether he'd provided classified material to an official of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. The FBI had opened the inquiry. And Clark, who had served in U.S. Army counterintelligence in the 1950's, took such matters very seriously.....more seriously, apparently, than had Richard Allen.

Feith did not remain unemployed for long, however. Richard Perle, who was in 1982 serving in the Pentagon as Assistant secretary for International Security Policy, hired him on the spot as his "Special Counsel," and then as his Deputy. Feith worked at ISP until 1986, when he left government service to form a small but influential law firm, then based in Israel.

In 2001, Douglas Feith returned to DoD as Donald Rumsfeld's Undersecretary for Policy, and it was in his office that "OSP", the Office of Special Plans, was created. It was OSP that originated--some say from whole cloth--much of the intelligence that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have used to justify the attack on Iraq, to miss-plan the post-war reconstruction there, and then to point an accusing finger at Iran and Syria.....all to the absolute delight of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Reason for Concern

Many individuals with strong attachments to foreign countries have served the U.S. Government with honor and distinction, and will certainly do so in the future. The highest officials in our executive and legislative branches should, however, take great care when appointments are made to posts involving sensitive national security matters. Appointees should be rejected who have demonstrated, in their previous government service, a willingness to sacrifice U.S. national security interests for those of another country, or an inability to distinguish one from the other.

Stephen Green is a freelance journalist in Vermont.

[Editors' Note: This is a slightly updated version of a ground-breaking essay exposing the relationship of the neo-cons embedded in the Bush administration with the government of Israel.]

The West Can No Longer Ignore the Violence and Killings in Chechnya

A terrible lesson from a classroom in Beslan

Children make it different. Like the tragedies of Columbine and Dunblane, the terror that stalks the classrooms of besieged Middle School 1 in Beslan, North Ossetia, is uniquely disturbing.
Who in these torrid days of random, global violence has not become accustomed, even inured, to the suicide bombings in Iraq or a host of other troublespots? Yet who, anywhere in the world, is not touched, angered or frightened - or all three - by the thought of young kids traumatised by masked killers wearing bomb-belts?

When the victims are children, the sort of horror on show in Beslan, real or threatened, represents the adult world's ultimate betrayal of innocence, its final failure to nurture and protect. Here is a shared disgrace, borne of a universal grief. Here is an international crying shame, beseeching an urgent remedy.

The Chechen conflict, in which the Ossetian siege is inextricably bound up, has become internationalised in many other ways since it reignited, in its modern incarnation, in the early 1990s. Like Czechoslovakia in a different time, the Caucasian lands of Chechnya, North and South Ossetia, Ingushetia and Dagestan cannot be dismissed as distant countries of which we know little and care less. What happens there matters here.

"Their suffering is our suffering," Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, said yesterday. "The awesome responsibility of President Putin and his government is our responsibility, too."

The mere fact of non-stop international media coverage makes Beslan school a shared reality around the world. The inescapable fact that the Chechen conflict once again pits Muslim peoples against Christians or plain non-believers, setting "Islam" against the "west", sounds an only too familiar post-9/11 global echo.

Putin pins the blame for the escalating crisis, perhaps the gravest of his presidency, not on home-grown Chechen fighters but, primarily, on an international Islamist conspiracy linked to al-Qaida.
The evidence for his contention is thin and often contradictory. But one thing is undoubtedly true. Since plunging recklessly back into Chechnya in 1994, Putin, his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, and the once proud Red Army have caused such untold misery, such rank injustice, such fury and despair that, like the Americans in Iraq, they created a breeding ground and magnet for the religious extremists they struggle to extirpate.

In effect, it was Russian generals and their turncoat allies who internationalised a war that should never have begun and which could have been peaceably resolved long ago. For this foolishness, Russia's conscript soldiers still pay a terrible price.

The risk of a spreading, regional conflagration grows with every outrage, every unanswered act of blood - and with every broken child. Since the time of the tsars, the mountain tribes of the Caucasus have fought for land, faith and just for the hell of it. In A Hero Of Our Time, novelist Mikhail Lermontov wrote admiringly in 1840 of the bravery of his opponents along Russia's lawless southern flank.

But now Caucasian instability threatens ever more broadly. Neighbouring Georgia, home to last November's "rose revolution", is no model of stability. And by coincidence, the Beslan siege has forced the postponement of a presidential visit to Turkey, Russia's historic Ottoman rival. Putin wants to build up trade and other links. But primarily, he needs Turkey as a southern bulwark of stability and security in a region sliding dangerously beyond Moscow's control.

Ten long years of destructive, on-off conflict, egregious human rights abuses, massive refugee displacements and blatant flouting of international law have also rendered Chechnya a matter of undeniable international concern. Organisations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the OSCE have kept a brave and faithful tally of the human toll and political cost of Russia's heedless policy. Again and again, campaigners have lobbied western governments to draw a diplomatic line, to sponsor a political process, to honestly recognise Chechnya for what it ever more evidently is - a threat to international peace and security, as defined by the UN. Again and again, those same governments, including Britain's, have mostly preferred to look the other way.

When Tony Blair talks of Britain's "moral responsibility" in Darfur and Iraq; when he speaks, as most famously in Chicago in 1999, of the criteria for intervention; when he sends troops dashing off to Kabul and Freetown, where in all this is there a thought for Chechnya? Ten years of conflict, tens of thousands dead and no end remotely in sight.

When Straw yesterday spoke of the "expanded range of issues" on which the UN will now consider the use of outside force under chapter VII - including "the overthrow of democratically elected government, terrorism, large-scale human rights violations, humanitarian catastrophe (and) refugee crises" - can he credibly exclude Chechnya which, in truth, arguably qualifies in all categories?

Russia has always maintained that the Chechen conflict is an internal matter, to be resolved internally. But now that Putin, by asking for international support, has for the first time effectively invited the security council to consider the issue, western leaders have a clear choice.

Britain and others can hide behind the pretence that, as Putin maintains, violence in the Caucasus is just another front in the US-led "war on terror" - and close their eyes to causes and remedies. They can give Putin what he wants, which is carte blanche to do whatever he deems necessary. Or they can find the courage to change the habit of the past decade. They can dispense with the sort of mealy-mouthed, turpitudinous shuffling-about indulged in by France's Jacques Chirac and Germany's Gerhard Schröder at their recent meeting with Putin. And they can insist instead that in return for active western support, Russia must finally accept the obvious: that Chechnya is a pressing, international problem requiring an agreed, collective, non-violent, international response.

Is it so absurd to suggest that EU troops, or even forces organised through Nato, be deployed under a UN peacekeeping mandate? Is it practically impossible to set in train some form of externally mediated peace dialogue, currently absent?

Chechnya offers a key test of how, if at all, new, much-discussed post-Iraq rules governing future humanitarian and security interventions can be made to work. Certainly Chechnya is a devilish hard case to crack. Certainly it would be a fraught undertaking. But it is surely worth it - if only for the sake of the children.

Simon Tisdall
Friday September 3, 2004
The Guardian

100 Bodies Found in Russian Gymnasium

BESLAN, Russia - Commandos stormed a school Friday in southern Russia and battled separatist rebels holding hundreds of hostages, as crying children, some naked and covered in blood, fled through explosions and gunfire. More than 100 bodies were reportedly found in the gym where hostages had been held.

The extent of the casualties was not immediately known. The militants, who had been demanding independence for nearby Chechnya (news - web sites), had been holding up to 1,500 hostages Â? mostly women and children Â? in the sweltering gymnasium for more than two days.

A cameraman for the British network ITN reported seeing around 100 bodies in the gym. The correspondent for Russia's Interfax news agency reported that there were dozens of bodies in the school, including about 100 in the gym, and that some were killed when the building's roof collapsed from an explosion.

Other casualties were reported when militants opened fire on hostages as they fled the building and in fighting that went on for several hours afterward. More than 400 people were wounded, including at least 180 children.

MIKE ECKEL, Associated Press Writer

Behind The Israeli Mole Affair -The Point Of Maximum Danger Of War With Iran Approaching

News of the investigation of Larry Franklin, a middle-level functionary working for the Wolfowitz-Feith-Luti-Shulsky clique in the Pentagon, indicates that we are now approaching a critical choice-point on the road to war with Iran, and towards a synthetic terrorism attack inside the US which would be used as an additional pretext to start such a war.

The probe of an Israeli mole in the Pentagon was made public by CBS news last Friday evening. The Saturday edition of the Washington Post named Larry Franklin as being identified by sources as the person under investigation. In Sunday,s Washington Post, it was confirmed that Lawrence A. Franklin was the person at the center of investigation.

As seen in the excerpt below, this same Larry Franklin was named in my June 6 news release, "Rogue Bush Backers Prepare Super 9-11 False Flag Terror Attacks. Franklin was indicated as one of the vulnerable links in the neocon network which finds itself in a hysterical flight forward to try to salvage the debacle of their Iraq war by expanding that war to neighboring countries, notably Iran. The threat of a new round of "own goal synthetic terrorism, quite possibly in the ABC dimension, was linked to the preparation of that wider war. The logic at work was that of an "October surprise, this time on the scale adequate to shock the post 9-11 world.

The best working hypothesis to understand the new mole investigation is that neocon networks in the Pentagon may be very close to embroiling the United States in a war with Iran. This would likely come as an Israeli or US pre-emptive bombing attack on Iran,s nuclear facilities, possibly combined with a terrorist attack inside the US using weapons of mass destruction, which the corporate controlled media would immediately blame on Iran.

Whatever forces are behind the naming of Franklin, it must be assumed that their main aim is to break up neocon preparations for a surprise attack on Iran, which the neocons have been boasting about in the media with special emphasis for some weeks. Backing the Franklin probe may well be military factions who have no desire to be fed into the Iranian meatgrinder, and who not fancy neocon fascist dictatorship. The immediate goal would be to knock Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Bolton, Rice, Abrams and their cheering section in the media and think-tanks onto the defensive. While the exposure of Franklin is a positive step, it is far from decisive, and the neocons are still in a position to unleash the dogs of war over the next days and weeks.

We are therefore now most probably on the brink of war with Iran, and at the same time entering a period of steadily increasing danger of synthetic terrorism designed to steal or cancel the November elections, and thus freeze the current neocon clique in power for the foreseeable future. The calculation of the rogue network operating behind the scenes is evidently that terrorism taking place a few days before the elections will stampede the electorate to support Bush, while terrorism well in advance of the elections will give the public time to recover enough to advance recriminations and demands for accountability on the part of the administration. We are now entering the time frame when the terrorist controllers can expect the maximum impact of their handiwork, either in stampeding the electorate, or in calling off the elections completely.


On August 19, Martin Sieff of UPI warned: "Forget an October Surprise, a much worse one could come in September: Full-scale war between the United States and Iran may be far closer than the American public might imagine.

Sieff quoted remarks made by Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani on August 18 which bluntly warned that if Iranian military commanders believed the United States were serious about attacking Iran to destroy its nuclear power facility at Bushehr, or to topple its Islamic theocratic form of government, the Iranian military would not sit back passively and wait for the U.S. armed forces to strike the first blow, as President Saddam Hussein in neighboring Iraq did in March 2003. They would strike first.

"We will not sit to wait for what others will do to us," Shamkhani told al-Jazeera. "Some military commanders in Iran are convinced that preventive operations which the Americans talk about are not their monopoly," he added. With this, the Iran-Iraq border became a new line of hair-trigger confrontation in the restless war agitation of the neocons.

One day earlier, neocon Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton told an audience at the Hudson Institute in Washington that it was imperative that the Iranian nuclear program be brought before the U.N. Security Council. "To fail to do so would risk sending a signal to would-be proliferators that there are no serious consequences for pursuing secret nuclear weapons programs," said Bolton. "We cannot let Iran, a leading sponsor of international terrorism, acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to Europe, most of central Asia and the Middle East, or beyond," Bolton added. "Without serious, concerted, immediate intervention by the international community, Iran will be well on the road to doing so." Similar threatening noises have come from Condoleezza Rice at the Bush National Security Council.

Iranian public opinion had been shocked by a raving, psychotic column by Charles Krauthammer in the July 23 Washington Post: Krauthammer wrote: "The long awaited revolution (in Iran) is not happening. Which [makes] the question of pre-emptive attack all the more urgent. If nothing is done, a fanatical terrorist regime openly dedicated to the destruction of 'the Great Satan' will have both nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them. All that stands between us and that is either revolution or pre-emptive attack." Iranian observers compared this to the US propaganda campaign which had preceded the attack on Iraq.


Competent US military commanders dread the prospect of war with Iran. Iran is four times the area of Iraq, and has three times the population. Its infrastructure was not destroyed during the Kuwait war in the way that Iraq,s was, and Iran has not been subjected to 13 years of crippling UN sanctions on everything, including food and medicine. The Iranian military forces are intact. In case of war, Iran could be expected to use all means ranging from ballistic missile attacks on US and Israeli bases to asymmetrical warfare. The situation of the US forces already in Iraq could quickly become extraordinarily critical. Shamkhani alluded to this prospect when he said that "The U.S. military presence will not become an element of strength at our expense. The opposite is true because their forces would turn into a hostage."

For purposes of analogy, the Iraq war so far could be compared to the first months of the Korean War, from June to November 1950. By provoking Iran to go beyond logistical support for guerrillas and the sending of volunteers, and come into the war with both feet, the neocons would be inviting a repeat of the Chinese intervention and the disastrous US retreat south from the Yalu to south of Seoul, which still stands as the longest retreat in US military history. Just as Chinese entry into the Korean conflict in late November 1950 created a wholly new and wider war, Iranian entry into the US-Iraq war would have similarly incalculable consequences. The choices might quickly narrow to the large-scale use of nuclear weapons or defeat for the current US hollow army of just 10 divisions.


In the case of Iran, the use of nuclear weapons by the US would have a dangerous complication: Iran is an important neighbor and trading partner of the Russian Federation, which is helping with Iran,s nuclear power reactor program. The threatened US/Israeli raid on Iran might kill Russian citizens as well. Such a US attack on Iran might prod the Russian government into drawing its own line in the sand, rather than sitting idle as the tide of US aggression swept closer and closer to Russia,s borders, as one country after another in central Asia was occupied. In other words, a US attack on Iran bids fair to be the opening of World War III, making explicit was already implicit in the invasion of Iraq. The Iran war project of the neocons is the very midsummer of madness, and it must be stopped.

War with Iran means a military draft, just for starters. If Iran can close the Straits of Hormuz, it might mean rationing of food and fuel. Bloated speculative financial structures could hardly survive.

The Israeli mole investigation seeks to explore the intersection of the Valerie Plame affair, the Chalabi affair, the Niger yellowcake forged documents scandal, and some key policy documents passed to the Israelis. According to a CIA veteran interviewed by CNN, the probe reaches into the National Security Council as well as the Pentagon. On June 6, I had identified Larry Franklin in these terms:

At the root of the Valerie Plame affair is the role of her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, in refuting the baseless claim that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium yellowcake from Niger. This story was buttresses by documents which turned out to be forged. A prime suspect in this regard is Ledeen, and the accusation is made more plausible because the faked documents first surfaced in Rome, where Ledeen possesses extensive contacts. A federal grand jury is probing this matter. Ledeen, like so many Bush officials, is an alumnus of the 1980s George H. W. Bush-Poindexter-Abrams-Oliver North Iran-contra gun-running and drug-running scandal, and appears to have mobilized these networks as part of the post 9-11 assault on Iraq. In December 2001, Ledeen moved to revive the Iran connection, setting up a meeting between two Pentagon civilian neo-cons and Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms dealer whom the CIA called a criminal and liar. Three days of meetings in Rome involved Harold Rhode, Larry Franklin, Ghorbanifar, and two unnamed officials of the Iranian regime. After the conquest of Iraq, Rhode was sent to Baghdad as the contact point between the Office of Special Plans and Chalabi. Ghorbanifar, in a Dec. 22, 2003 interview with Newsweek's Mark Hosenball, reported that he maintained contact with Rhode and Franklin "five or six times a week through June 2003, when he had a second meeting with Rhode in Paris. This back channel to the Iranians is now also under intense scrutiny.

In the June 6 release, I also showed that, for Bush, the notion of a confrontation with Iran was closely linked to the hypothesis of a new wave of synthetic terrorism. I pointed in this context to a key speech in which Bush had escalated his threat of both:

A dramatic turning point on the way to the current emergency came on April 21, when Bush delivered two speeches which represented a palpable escalation of the tone of his usual demagogy of terrorism and fear. In the afternoon, he assured the Newspaper Association of America, composed of newspaper editors, that Iran "will be dealt with if they pursue a nuclear development program. Bush went on to characterize the United States as "a battlefield in the war on terror. He was at pains to build up the stature of Al-Qaeda, whose members he emphatically characterized as "smarttoughand sophisticated. Because the terrorists are so formidable, Bush said the United States "is a hard country to defend. Our intelligence is good. It,s just never perfect, is the problem. We are disrupting some cells here in America. We,re chasing people down. But it is we,ve got a big country. Later, Bush spoke to the same themes at a closed-door gathering at the White House: "...On Tuesday evening, Bush told Republican congressional leaders during a meeting at the White House that it was all but certain that terrorists would attempt a major attack on the United States before the election, according to a congressional aide. The leaders were struck by Bush's definitiveness and gravity, the aide said... (Washington Post, April 22, 2004)

The general thesis of the June 6 release was this:

Washington DC, June 6 Intelligence patterns monitored here now point conclusively to the grave threat of an imminent new round of ABC (atomic-bacteriological-chemical) terror attacks in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and possibly other nations. These attacks could include nuclear detonations, radiological dirty bombs, poison gas and other chemical weapons, or biological agents, to be unleashed in such urban settings as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Vancouver BC, or London. The goal of these operations would be to produce a worldwide shock several orders of magnitude greater than the original 9-11, with a view to stopping the collapse of the Bush administration, the Wall Street-centered financial structures, and the US-UK strategic position generally. The attacks would be attributed by US/UK intelligence to controlled patsy terrorist groups who would be linked by the media to countries like Iran, Syria, Cuba, North Korea, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia, thus setting these states up for attack. The organizers of the attacks would in reality be substantially the same secret command cell in the United States which set up the 9-11 events and its associated networks, which has been able to continue in operation because of the abject failure of all 9-11 investigations to date to identify it. These forces are now in a desperate flight forward to escape from their current increasingly grim position. Their goal is now to establish a neocon fascist dictatorship in the United States, complete with martial law, special tribunals, press and media censorship, and the full pervasive apparatus of the modern police state.

As of the end of August, 2004, this threat is now more urgent than ever.

These issues will be discussed in my upcoming book, 9/11 Synthetic Terrorism: The Myth of the Twenty-First Century, to be published by Progressive Press. For information, please contact info@progressivepress.com.

Webster Griffin Tarpley

Commentary: Republicans Insult Wounded Veterans

A wounded combat veteran awarded the Purple Heart is outraged that Republicans have mocked his Purple Heart medal and dishonored all Americans wounded in war.

The Purple Heart medal was established by George Washington in 1782 to honor soldiers wounded in the Revolutionary War. The sole criterion for being awarded this decoration is being wounded in war by the enemy. The Purple Heart honors not heroism, then, but personal sacrifice. It is the “grunts” badge recognizing sacrifice of body for your country, the democratic award that honors all troops equally for their combat wounds. That is the way George Washington wanted it.

Yet, on the floor of the Republican National Convention, Republican delegates proudly sported band-aids with little purple hearts in an attempt to diminish the significance of John Kerry’s military record and his three Purple Hearts--which stand in stark, embarrassing contrast to George Bush’s avoidance of the Vietnam War and his “yellow heart.”

The Associated Press reported: “The bandages were handed out by Morton Blackwell, a longtime GOP activist from Virginia, with the message: ‘It was just a self-inflicted scratch, but you see I got a Purple Heart for it.’”

These Republicans want Americans to believe John Kerry’s wounds were not serious enough to be taken seriously. Many military veterans resent their mocking of a Purple Heart recipitant and his decorations, charging the Republicans' behavior is reprehensible.

“This symbol [Purple Heart] is a very moving one,” said Korean War veteran and Congressman Charles Rangel. “In many of the homes of the survivors that’s all they have to remember their loved ones. Some survivors can’t see and some can’t walk. All they ask is a little dignity.”

According to retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, 3,700 Purple Hearts have been awarded in Iraq. Are Republicans mocking all 3,700 of our servicemen and women wounded in Iraq? Or only those they determine were not sufficiently wounded?

According this former Marine grunt, how dare they laugh at my Purple Heart?

George Washington was correct: a wound is a wound, and that entitles one to the award. The Purple Heart is not about the depth of the wound, not about the wound’s length, not about the quantity of blood that came from the wound. This decoration recognizes the personal sacrifice of our troops without regard to the severity or the nature of the wound. This has been the official position of the U.S. military since the days of George Washington, and this is the correct position today.

When did it become acceptable in America for our Purple Hearts to be used as political stunt to garner votes? When did veterans wounded in war become fair game for ridicule? When did slight wounds become props for political advantage? And this from Republicans (few of whom served in our military, and fewer who were wounded in war) who support a president who never went to a war that he strongly supported but took actions to avoid. This reeks of hypocrisy, and I am outraged.

The fact is, the Republican Party is out of control. Vicious and hateful, it is disrespectful and desperate, a political party that is now attacking America’s wounded veterans. And the leadership of this Party remains quiet, behind the scenes it actively works to trash our veterans. First they attacked John McCain, claiming the former POW was unfit to be President because he had been a prisoner in Vietnam; then they insisted that Max Cleland, who lost three limbs on the battlefield in Vietnam, did not sacrifice for his country; then they smeared John Kerry’s military service and dismissed his sacrifices for America. Now, Republicans are insulting all veterans who are Purple Heart recipients, every American wounded in a war.

Never could I have imagined this happening in America. Never have I witnessed antiwar demonstrators insulting military veterans as these so-called patriotic Republicans are insulting our wounded veterans. Never could I have imagined.

Stewart Nusbaumer is editor of Intervention Magazine. You can email him at Stewart@interventionmag.com

Posted Thursday, September 2, 2004

Look Again, Gandhi

Effective non-violent resistance is dependent upon conditions the
politician-generals of the State of Israel systematically and
consciously destroy, writes Jonathan Cook

"I am coming to speak about peace and non- violence," Arun Gandhi,
Mahatma Gandhi's grandson, told the Jerusalem Post newspaper shortly
before he arrived in the Middle East to preach a message of mutual
respect, love and understanding to two conflict-weary publics,
Israeli and Palestinian.

At his first rally in East Jerusalem last week, Gandhi led thousands
of Palestinians, including Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, and a handful
of Israeli peace campaigners on a march against the wall being built
across the West Bank. Under the banner "No to violence, yes to
peace", the protest was designed to promote the path of Palestinian
peaceful resistance to Israel's military occupation.

After four years of armed Intifada, the US- based group that
organised his visit -- Palestinians for Peace and Democracy --
believes that the philosophy of non-violent struggle can be exported
to the West Bank and Gaza where it will mobilise the Palestinian
masses to find new ways to oppose the occupation.

But what Gandhi and his supporters fail to understand is that a non-
violent struggle requires specific conditions that are not present in
this conflict.

The first and most obvious condition is that non-violence should
carry with it the moral weight that makes violent retaliation
unconscionable. But if there is one lesson from the first and second
Intifadas, a lesson learned at a high price, it is that non-violence
by Palestinians both in the occupied territories and inside Israel is
rarely reciprocated by the Israeli security forces.

During this Intifada, for example, 13 unarmed Palestinian citizens
were shot dead inside Israel, in the Galilee, for organising largely
peaceful demonstrations. And the first victims across the Green Line
in the West Bank and Gaza were scores of children hit in the head by
sniper bullets. Most were throwing stones ineffectually at tanks and
military installations, or just watching -- maybe not quite Gandhi's
vision of non-violence, but hardly armed insurrection either.

Today most Palestinian men, women and children have slunk back to
their homes, to lives under curfew or military siege, leaving the
resistance to the young men of the Palestinian militias (their
seniors more than often dead or in jail).

The lesson dealt by Israel's military chiefs has been absorbed in
different ways on both sides of the Green Line. In Israel, where
resistance is far less critical to daily survival, Palestinian
citizens say if non-violent protest gets you killed, better not
protest. In the occupied territories, Palestinians say if non-violent
protest gets you killed, either better not protest or better go down
all guns blazing.

The second, and most important, condition for non-violent resistance
in pursuit of national objectives is that actions must be collective
and popular. Realistically, an unarmed population only has the
courage to face down soldiers and tanks when it has the numbers on
its side. But, with the brief interlude of the first Intifada,
Palestinians, whether in Nazareth or Nablus, have rarely been able to
organise effective mass demonstrations. Increasingly, factions have
been pursuing their own limited or competing agendas, often relying
on the heroics of small groups of militants or lone suicide bombers.

The reason is not, as some Western writers, academics and politicians
like to imply, related to a rogue Arab gene, a failure of the "Arab
mind" or an excess -- or lack -- of guns, but to the specific
circumstances that have followed the Palestinians' dispossession and
dispersion. Theirs is a unique legacy of colonial misrule, and the
lessons of India or any other colonised state cannot easily be
translated to their case.

Israel, after all, was not created in a vacuum. The Jewish national
project emerged and grew strong just as other colonial movements were
dying, and it learned from their mistakes. Most relevantly it allied
itself with, but (until now) avoided replicating the worst excesses
of, South African apartheid.

In both South Africa and Israel, the goal was the theft of land and
underground resources from the native population -- in Africa's case
the mineral wealth, especially diamonds, and in Israel's case, the
aquifers and precious water supplies.

Some common approaches adopted by the two countries are discernible.
Both South Africa and Israel absorbed the core strategy of colonial
Britain: that the necessary condition for ruling another people,
dispossessing them and exploiting their resources, is a policy of
divide and rule, of fragmenting the native population so that all
forms of resistance can be suppressed more effectively.

But South Africa and Israel also learned from the colonising nations'
failures. The main lesson was that to reinforce the colonisation
project it was better to install a settler population in the place of
the dispossessed natives. These settlers should be committed to the
national project and to the occupied territory in a way that, for
example, British army officers on a tour of duty could never be.

So why, taking up Gandhi's implied criticism, did the black South
African population eventually find a successful way to resist and end
their occupation while the Palestinians seem no nearer liberation?

Many factors must be taken into account. The excesses of South
African apartheid were more visceral; the black populations in Europe
and the US grew more influential from the 1970s and racism
increasingly became synonymous with discrimination against black
people; white rule in South Africa and the boycotts it provoked
marginalised the country's significance in the global economy; and
the white Boer population demonstrated an impressive lack of
political sophistication.

In contrast, Israel has many advantages. It has endlessly exploited
Western guilt over the Holocaust; it has successfully used the fear
of anti-Semitism to silence most high-level criticisms of its
policies; its strategic Middle Eastern alliance with the US remains
strong; it is still seen in Washington as an effective bulwark
against Arab nationalism and the threat that poses to the oil supply;
and it has a vigourous lobby working for its interests in the
corridors of Congress.

But perhaps most importantly, Israel's leaders, unlike South
Africa's, have never lost sight of the necessary condition of
occupation: the fragmentation of the enemy, the indigenous population.

Even the apartheid wall -- which will eventually make life so
unbearably difficult for almost all Palestinians that it may breed
some sort of collective consciousness -- should be able to contain
the threat it conjures up. For the wall, combined with Israel's
military system of curfews and checkpoints, is physically entrenching
the cantonisation of the West Bank. Mass action will become
impossible when neighbours are cut off from each other.

The wall is the summit of Israel's ever- evolving policy of divide
and rule. At each stage of the occupation -- whether the original
1948 form or the later 1967 incarnation -- Israeli strategists have
devised new and more effective ways to prevent the Palestinians from
challenging their power. It is worth briefly surveying how this has
been achieved.

First, the native Palestinian population was largely fragmented by
the time the institutions of the newly created Israeli state
conquered much of the territory that had been Palestine. Even before
the Jewish state was declared in May 1948, Palestinian elites had
largely abandoned the cities of Jaffa, Jerusalem, Acre, Nazareth and
Haifa for the safety of neighbouring Arab states. Under the weight of
growing Jewish terror and the British mandatory authorities'
clandestine support for the Zionist enterprise, the middle classes
had decided to cut their losses and sit out the impending war.

With them went the Palestinian entrepreneurs, intellectuals and
politicians. After 1948, the new Jewish state was confronted with a
leaderless, largely dispersed Palestinian society, which lacked the
tools needed to organise resistance to Israel's project of
consolidating Palestinian dispossession by transferring land and
property to Jewish immigrants.

After their victory, Israel's military and political planners were
far from complacent, however. Their main fear was that given the
chance the Palestinians under their rule would sooner or later pick
up the pieces and reassert themselves. Israeli officials therefore
worked tirelessly to subdue and terrorise the rump of the Palestinian
population who were now citizens.

The instrument they used was the military government imposed on the
Palestinian minority in Israel's first two decades. It rigidly
controlled their lives with a system of permits, it developed an
extensive network of informers and it crushed all political and
social dissent. Since 1967 that system has been replicated in the
occupied territories.

The consequences for ordinary Palestinians are equally evident on
either side of the Green Line. Collective action has been made all
but impossible. The wider the circle extends, and the more
Palestinians are included in any direct action -- whether violent or
non-violent -- the more likely an informer will be included in the
circle and the enterprise will be destined to fail through Israeli

Out of necessity, unelected, unaccountable cliques rule in
Palestinian society. Powerful, independent and populist leaders have
not been able to emerge. When they have looked close to doing so, as
the Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Raed Salah did inside Israel and
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin did in Gaza, they have been either jailed or
assassinated. Marwan Barghouti might have achieved much the same in
the West Bank had he too not been imprisoned.

The conditions allowing these unaccountable cliques to prosper --
including the biggest of them all, the Palestinian Authority -- have
been encouraged by the social, economic, political and ideological
divisions Israel has created, sustained and exacerbated in
Palestinian society. They are almost too numerous to classify.

Inside Israel, for example, the main rival sub- groups within
Palestinian society are: the Druze and Circassian communities, which
uniquely are obligated to serve in the army; the Bedouin in the
Negev, who to this day live under an unofficial but enduring military
government, regulated by special institutions like the paramilitary
police force the Green Patrol and the Bedouin Education Authority;
the Christians, who have been offered limited financial and economic
protection by virtue of their association with the international
churches; the 250,000 internally displaced citizens, also known
as "present absentees", who along with other refugees lost rights to
their homes and property in 1948; the Palestinian citizens living in
the so-called mixed cities, which in fact are marginalised and
depressed urban ghettoes; Palestinian citizens living
in "unrecognised villages", communities deprived of all public
services such as water, electricity, schools and medical clinics.

Many Palestinian citizens belong to multiple groups, shaping their
identities and loyalties in complicated ways.

All these Palestinians share a common Israeli citizenship but their
experience of what it means to be a citizen is entirely different,
making it impossible to organise collectively. Factional manoeuvring
for more of the limited resources available to each group within the
minority is a far more common strategy.

Exactly the same pattern is discernible in the occupied territories.
The West Bank, Gaza and annexed Jerusalem are precisely more of those
markers of difference Israel encourages. Even during Oslo, this
process exacerbated with the creation of Areas A, B and C, occupied
zones that fell under different forms of control. Today, the
cantonisation of Palestinian towns and villages into an even larger
number of separate units, through the erection of the wall and
numberless checkpoints, isolates and factionalises the community
still further.

As well as these territorial divisions, ideological splits
(particularly between the secular and religious) and the
marginalisation of women from the struggle have served to weaken
possible resistance to the occupation.

Instead, the Palestinians have resorted to factionalism. The
instances of coordination between the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades,
Hamas and Islamic Jihad are easily outnumbered by examples of rivalry
and competition.

It is worth remembering that in the late 1970s Israel helped to
create the Islamic Movement, from which Hamas was born, as a
counterweight to the increasing popularity of Fatah. A strong Islamic
faction in the occupied territories, it was rightly assumed, would
dissipate the energy being harnessed by Fatah and accentuate
differences within Palestinian society.

Instructively, as Israel stands on the brink of approving a
unilateral disengagement from Gaza, the question being discussed by
Gazans is not how the Palestinians will pick up the pieces after the
settlers are gone but who will pick up the reins of power.

The third and final condition for successful non-violent resistance
to occupation is the support and solidarity of left-wing groups
within the oppressor nation. But in Israel's case, the politician-
generals have just as effectively neutered the Jewish left-wing as
they have the Palestinian resistance.

The Israeli left has been factionalised and left impotent by a
similar policy of divide and rule. How is the left to appeal to
a "consensus" about the country's future when Israeli leaders have
encouraged deep fault lines in the Jewish population, between
different visions of Zionism, between the European Ashkenazi elite
and the Mizrahi proletariat, between the Zionist mainstream and the
non-Zionist ultra-Orthodox, between the secular revellers of Tel Aviv
and the fanatical settlers of Itimar, between the development towns
and the kibbutzim?

The left has instead tried to pander to as many of these mainstream
groups as it can without entirely abandoning its left-wing
credentials. Even so, in the case of the most visible groups like
Meretz and Peace Now it is often hard to identify what is still left-
wing about their agendas -- beyond a message that discrimination and
oppression must be lessened, if only as a strategy to maintain the
legitimacy of the Zionist mission.

Maybe this is the ultimate success of the colonial project planned,
organised and executed by Israel's politician-generals. Colonised
peoples always rely for their liberation, at least in part, on
dissident groups within the colonising nation, on factions within the
colonisers who work slowly to change the environment in which the
colonial project is judged, both within their own societies and in
the international arena. They hold up the mirror to their society,
eventually giving legitimacy to indigenous resistance movements and
their struggle for liberation.

In this respect, Israel's left must be judged an absolute failure. It
still speaks in tongues to its chosen disciples, other Jews, too
often preferring the language of Hebrew for criticism so that
outsiders will not learn about what is really taking place. Its
debates are only meant for internal consumption.

This was not the way South Africa was liberated from apartheid.
There, in the end, a rainbow coalition of blacks, coloureds and
whites stood firm against the apartheid regime. Different black
tribes largely put aside their differences and worked for a common
agenda against a common enemy. They were assisted by South Africa's
whites, who both inside the country and in the Diaspora were not
afraid to speak out loudly and to the rest of the world about the
injustice of apartheid.

If Gandhi has any message for the peoples of Israel and Palestine,
let it be this.

Official: Clinton to Have Bypass Surgery

NEW YORK -- Former President Bill Clinton will undergo heart bypass surgery after complaining of mild chest pain and shortness of breath, his office said Friday.

Clinton was being admitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia, a statement said. He had seen a doctor first on Thursday, and additional tests Friday revealed the need for the surgery, it said.

Clinton canceled a two-day joint trip with his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, across upstate New York.

The senator and the couple's daughter, Chelsea, will be with the former president in New York City, the statement said.

Clinton, 58, had a cancerous growth removed from his back shortly after leaving office in early 2001. It turned out to be basal cell carcinoma, the most treatable form of skin cancer. In 1996, he had had a precancerous lesion removed from his nose and a year before that had a benign cyst taken off his chest.

Other than that, Clinton has had the normal health problems that often accompany aging -- periods of slightly elevated cholesterol and hearing loss -- and an appetite for junk food. In 1997, he was fitted with hearing aids. He has also suffered from allergies.

In Little Rock, Ark., Clinton's mother-in-law, Dorothy Rodham, said Clinton had called her to tell her about his chest pains.

"He sounded wonderful as usual and very upbeat as he always is," she said. "I just told him how much I love him."

She said she didn't know if he was in the hospital when he called.

There was no official word on when the surgery would take place. A source said the surgery was not likely to take place Friday, but instead at a later date.

An angiogram given to Clinton revealed "significant blockage," said a Democratic official, who had discussed the condition with the former president's staff. It did not appear that Clinton suffered a heart attack, he said. Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity.

The statement by Clinton's office said the former president "went to Northern Westchester Hospital yesterday afternoon after experiencing mild chest pain and shortness of breath. Initial testing was normal and he spent the night at home in nearby Chappaqua, N.Y. After undergoing additional testing this morning at Westchester Medical Center, doctors advised he should undergo bypass surgery."

Hillary Clinton is gearing up for a 2006 re-election bid seen by many as a prelude to a run for president in 2008 should John Kerry fail in his bid for the White House this year.

The Clintons had planned a stop at the State Fair in Syracuse on Friday afternoon and then had been expected to head north for stops in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties near the Canadian border on Friday night and on Saturday.
Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press

Associated Press Writer
Published September 3, 2004, 12:18 PM CDT

Secretive Pentagon Office (Office of Special Plans) Target of FBI Probe

An unorthodox Pentagon outfit responsible for much of the Bush administration's discredited intelligence on Iraq is the target of a broad FBI national security probe, sources told the New York Daily News Wednesday.

The secretive Office of Special Plans and a related project are being investigated over how they obtained top-secret intelligence and whom they shared it with, according to four federal sources.

"It involves the improper transfer of information," said one source briefed on the case. "A lot more is going to come out."

The Office of Special Plans was overseen by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, the Pentagon's No. 3 and a close aide to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Feith's team has been blamed by Democratic lawmakers and others for sexing up uncorroborated intelligence on Iraq's arsenal from Iraqi dissident Ahmed Chalabi and other sources, including a bogus informant code-named "Curveball."

The Senate Intelligence Committee is examining those charges.

The office also sought to establish links between Iraqi deposed dictator Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida after Sept. 11.

Many details of the FBI case are still fuzzy. It came to light after the disclosure last week that agents stumbled on a possible spy case involving a Feith aide.

Larry Franklin, a Pentagon Iran analyst, allegedly was caught on tape by the FBI offering classified information to officials of a pro-Israeli lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.


New York Daily News

Unmitigated Gall

Stephen Colbert, correspondent for "The Daily Show," the only news program to watch during the Republican convention, found the theme of this convention like a homing pigeon: "Unmitigated gall."

This convention alone would be enough to convince me that John Edwards is right about "two Americas," except I don't think he's gone far enough. These folks are in from another planet. They're living in an alternative reality. When is a fact a fact to these people? When did anyone ever find evidence Saddam Hussein had dog to do with Sept. 11?

It's all very well to claim our invasion of Iraq may yet bring about peace and democracy in the Middle East – hey, miracles happen – but when Rudy Giuliani assured us this "idealism" is in fact triumphing as he speaks, one must question the man's grip on sanity. Even the president is now claiming the disastrous occupation is the result of "catastrophic success." That seems to mean he thinks we won the war too fast.

Speaking of what Bush means, what a dumb flap over his obviously accidental misstatement that we can't win the war against terrorism. As I have often noted, even when Bush misspeaks you can usually tell what he meant to say. This little doozy was "clearified" the next day – on that mighty organ of reliable information, The Rush Limbaugh Show – only to be followed by Democrats chanting, "Flip-flop."

That level of stupefying pettiness over nothing should be legally limited to Republicans. Meanwhile, note that Bush is back to being "a war president." Just a few weeks ago, he was going around claiming to be "the peace president" every 10 minutes, after months of claiming to be "a war president." So that makes the new shift a flip-flip-flop.

One of my favorite moments of non-reality came from Education Secretary Rod Paige, formerly school superintendent in Houston, where the stats on student performance have been so badly twisted it is now a national scandal. It was Compassion Night at Madison Square Garden, so we were celebrating Republican domestic achievements, a short list unless you just make stuff up, such as, "All across America, test scores are rising, students are learning, the achievement gap is closing, teachers and principals are beaming with pride." Now you tell me if this guy is living in Never Never Land.

The party platform, written in large part by Phyllis Schafly and her Eagle Forum, condemns stem cell research, women's right to decide whether to bear a child under any circumstances, and gay people. Just as a historical curiosity, I present the fact that at the Republican Convention in New Orleans in 1988, Mrs. Schafly gave a party with the theme "Let the Good Times Roll," thus proving the enduring role of irony at political conventions.

The real theme of the convention is "George Bush Makes Us Safer," as dubious a proposition as Madonna's virginity. Tom Ridge is not only not speaking in primetime, he's not addressing this convention at all – he's a non-person. In the current issue of Mother Jones magazine is a must-read by Matthew Brzezinski called "Red Alert." The "pull quote" is: "It was billed as America's frontline defense against terrorism. But badly underfunded, crippled by special interests and ignored by the White House, the Department of Homeland Security has been relegated to bureaucratic obscurity."

Brzezinski reports, "... the administration's misplaced priorities – - particularly its obsession with Iraq – - have come at the expense of homeland security." What a mess. What a waste of money. What colossal ineptitude. It's so dispiriting to read about it, one can't even work up a Henry Higgins-like: "Safer? Ha!"

While I was prepared to listen to much rhetoric about Bush's stalwart firmness as he steers the ship of state in the wrong direction, I was startled to hear Giuliani try to make points over our falling out with so many allies.

Look, the Coalition of the Willing is a public embarrassment, a monument to diplomatic witlessness, not to mention open bribery. To blame others for our diplomatic failure is both fatuous and offensive. Then to repeat Bush's obnoxious little bully line, "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists," is both stupid and dangerous.

The perception that we lack a decent respect for the opinions of mankind itself contributes to terrorism. Why encourage Americans, many of whom are already dangerously xenophobic, to treat the arguments of other nations with contemptuous dismissal? Especially when so many of them have been proved right?

Loved the Schwarzenegger speech and apologize again for having accidentally misappropriated the wonderful line of Clive James', the Australian journalist: "He looks like a condom stuffed with walnuts."

Molly Ivins is a best-selling author and columnist who writes about politics, Texas and other bizarre happenings.

Molly Ivins, AlterNet.

Wider FBI Probe Of Pentagon Leaks Includes Chalabi

FBI counterintelligence agents are investigating whether several Pentagon officials leaked classified information to Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, according to a law enforcement official and other people familiar with the case.

Senior White House officials, including national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, have been apprised that Chalabi is part of the investigation, according to a senior U.S. official. The inquiry is part of the larger counterintelligence probe that was disclosed last week -- the scope of which is not yet clear.

Initially, news reports revealed that the FBI was investigating whether Lawrence A. Franklin -- a mid-level analyst specializing in Middle East issues in the Pentagon office of Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy -- had passed a draft presidential directive on Iran to AIPAC, and whether the group had passed the information to Israel. AIPAC is an influential lobbying group with close ties to the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The FBI probe is actually much broader, according to senior U.S. officials, and has been underway for at least two years. Several sources familiar with the case say the probe now extends to other Pentagon personnel who have a particular interest in assisting both Israel and Chalabi, the former Iraqi dissident who was long a Pentagon favorite but who has fallen out of favor with the U.S. government.

The sources and others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is highly sensitive and involves classified information.

There appears to be at least two common threads in the multi-faceted investigation. First, the FBI is investigating whether the same people passed highly classified information to two disparate allies -- Chalabi and a pro-Israel lobbying group. Second, at least some of the intelligence in both instances included sensitive information about Iran.

The broader investigation is also looking into the movement of classified materials on U.S. intentions in Iraq and on the Arab-Israeli peace process, sources added.

U.S. officials said the alleged transfer of classified intelligence to Chalabi has been part of the FBI investigation at least since a raid in May by Iraqi officials on the Baghdad compound of Chalabi's party, the Iraqi National Congress. Classified U.S. intelligence material was found in that raid, a senior official said.

This spring, U.S. officials alleged that Chalabi and a senior Iraqi National Congress official had passed critical intelligence to Iran, including extremely sensitive information about recent U.S. intercepts of official communications within the Iranian government. The intelligence allegedly shared by Chalabi's group with Tehran also included information on how the United States had deciphered encrypted Iranian messages, U.S. officials said.

As a result of that leak, the U.S. intelligence community has been forced to undertake costly and extensive repairs to U.S. signal capabilities, another senior U.S. official said.

Francis Brooke, an American aide to Chalabi's organization, vigorously denied that any classified data had been leaked to the organization. "The sooner they get finished with the investigation, the happier we'll be," he said. "No classified information flowed from the United states to the Iraqi National Congress. That's not the nature of the program."

John Markham, an attorney for Chalabi, added that he had sent two letters to the Justice Department and to the FBI months ago offering to have Chalabi discuss the issue with investigators.

"We have heard absolutely nothing from anybody," Markham said. "We've offered to make him available, and they've ignored us." He said that is inconsistent with how he saw federal investigators operate during several years he spent as a prosecutor.

An early part of the inquiry focused on the activities of a U.S. military reservist who was serving at the U.S. Embassy in Israel, a senior intelligence official said. It could not be determined last night if that reservist was Franklin, who has served for about two decades in the Air Force Reserve and has done some short tours at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Israel and AIPAC have strongly denied any involvement in espionage activities against the United States.

Bryan Whitman, a senior Pentagon spokesman, said that "it would be inappropriate for the Defense Department to comment on an ongoing Justice Department investigation."

The revelation that Franklin was under investigation has focused attention on the policy branch of the Pentagon, which is overseen by Feith. His office has long rankled other parts of the U.S. foreign policy community, where it is seen as pursuing its own agenda.

One former CIA officer who has helped formulate U.S. policy on the Middle East complained that a number of officials in the Defense Department have difficulty distinguishing between U.S. interests and the goals of Chalabi and Israel.

Another official, an ideological ally of Feith's, said, however, that the investigation is part of an effort by some in the intelligence community to discredit Pentagon hawks. "This is part of a civil war within the administration, a basic dislike between the old CIA and neoconservatives," the official said.

Feith did not return a call seeking comment yesterday. Franklin, who officials say is cooperating with authorities, has also declined to comment.

Staff writers Dan Eggen and Walter Pincus contributed to this report.

Robin Wright and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writers

Feel the Hate

I don't know where George Soros gets his money," one man said. "I don't know where - if it comes from overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from." George Soros, another declared, "wants to spend $75 million defeating George W. Bush because Soros wants to legalize heroin." After all, a third said, Mr. Soros "is a self-admitted atheist; he was a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust."

They aren't LaRouchies - they're Republicans.

The suggestion that Mr. Soros, who has spent billions promoting democracy around the world, is in the pay of drug cartels came from Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, whom the Constitution puts two heartbeats from the presidency. After standing by his remarks for several days, Mr. Hastert finally claimed that he was talking about how Mr. Soros spends his money, not where he gets it.

The claim that Mr. Soros's political spending is driven by his desire to legalize heroin came from Newt Gingrich. And the bit about the Holocaust came from Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of The Washington Times, which has become the administration's de facto house organ.

For many months we've been warned by tut-tutting commentators about the evils of irrational "Bush hatred." Pundits eagerly scanned the Democratic convention for the disease; some invented examples when they failed to find it. Then they waited eagerly for outrageous behavior by demonstrators in New York, only to be disappointed again.

There was plenty of hatred in Manhattan, but it was inside, not outside, Madison Square Garden.

Barack Obama, who gave the Democratic keynote address, delivered a message of uplift and hope. Zell Miller, who gave the Republican keynote, declared that political opposition is treason: "Now, at the same time young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief." And the crowd roared its approval.

Why are the Republicans so angry? One reason is that they have nothing positive to run on (during the first three days, Mr. Bush was mentioned far less often than John Kerry).

The promised economic boom hasn't materialized, Iraq is a bloody quagmire, and Osama bin Laden has gone from "dead or alive" to he-who-must-not-be-named.

Another reason, I'm sure, is a guilty conscience. At some level the people at that convention know that their designated hero is a man who never in his life took a risk or made a sacrifice for his country, and that they are impugning the patriotism of men who have.

That's why Band-Aids with Purple Hearts on them, mocking Mr. Kerry's war wounds and medals, have been such a hit with conventioneers, and why senior politicians are attracted to wild conspiracy theories about Mr. Soros.

It's also why Mr. Hastert, who knows how little the Bush administration has done to protect New York and help it rebuild, has accused the city of an "unseemly scramble" for cash after 9/11. Nothing makes you hate people as much as knowing in your heart that you are in the wrong and they are in the right.

NY Times

Heads in the Sand

When asked this week on CNN how long the U.S. military is likely to remain in Iraq, Senator John McCain replied "probably" 10 or 20 years. "That's not so bad," he said, adding, "We've been in Korea for 50 years. We've been in West Germany for 50 years."

Reporters have come to expect candor from Senator McCain, and in this case he didn't disappoint. But there weren't any speakers mounting the podium at the Republican National Convention to hammer home the message that G.I.'s would be in Iraq for a decade or two.

That's not the understanding most Americans had when this wretched war was sold to them, and it's not the view most Americans hold now.

If Senator McCain is correct (and the belief in official Washington is that he is), then boys and girls who are 5 or 10 years old now will get their chance in 2015 or 2020 to strap on the Kevlar and engage the Iraqi "insurgents" who, like the indigenous forces we fought in Vietnam, will never accept the occupation of their country by America.

Marcina Hale, a protester who came to New York this week from suburban Westport, Conn., said she has two teenage boys and that Iraq "is not a war that I'm willing to send my sons to." As the years pass and the casualties mount, that sentiment will only grow.

The truth is always the first casualty of politics. But there was a bigger disconnect than usual between the bizarre, hermetically sealed perspective that was on display in Madison Square Garden this week and the daunting events unfolding without respite in the real world.

Iraq is a mess. While the cartoonish Arnold Schwarzenegger was drawing huge laughs in the Garden and making cracks about economic "girlie men," reports were emerging about the gruesome murder of 12 Nepalese hostages who had traveled to Iraq less than two weeks earlier in search of work.

At the same time, an effort to disarm insurgents in the militant Baghdad slum of Sadr City collapsed, and the death toll among American forces in Iraq continued its relentless climb toward 1,000.

The Los Angeles Times noted yesterday that a report by the respected Royal Institute of International Affairs in London has concluded that Iraq will be lucky if it avoids a breakup and civil war. The often-stated U.S. goal of a full-fledged Iraqi democracy is beyond unlikely.

In Afghanistan, a legitimate front in the so-called war against terror, much of the country remains in the hands of warlords, and the opium trade is flourishing. Experts believe substantial amounts of money from that trade is flowing to terrorist groups.

In Israel, 16 people were killed by suicide bombers who blew themselves up on a pair of crowded buses on Tuesday. In Russia, a series of horrific terror attacks, in the air and on the ground, have cast a pall across the country.

Despite all the macho posturing and self-congratulating at the Republican convention, the wave of terror that's been unleashed on the world is only growing. The American-led war in Iraq is feeding that wave, causing it to swell rather than ebb.

Any serious person who looked around the world this week would have to wonder what the delegates at the G.O.P. convention were so happy about.

The Republican conventioneers spent the entire week reminding America that we were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. But interestingly, there was hardly a mention by name of those actually responsible for the attacks - Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Discussions about the nation's real enemies were taboo. We don't know where they are or what they're up to. The over-the-top venom of some of the speakers and delegates was reserved not for Osama, but for a couple of mild-mannered guys named John.

What Americans desperately need is a serious, honest discussion of where we go from here. If we're going to be in Iraq for 10 or 20 more years, the policy makers should say so, and tell us what that will cost in money and human treasure. The violence associated with such a long-term occupation is guaranteed to be appalling.

Vietnam tore this nation apart. As we've seen in this campaign, the wounds have yet to heal. Incredibly, we're now traveling a similarly tragic road in Iraq.

NY Times

Judge Reverses Convictions in Detroit 'Terrorism' Case

A federal judge threw out the terrorism convictions of two Arab immigrants on Thursday, undoing what the Justice Department once proclaimed was its first major courtroom victory in the war on terror.

The department itself requested the dismissal this week in an extraordinary filing that savaged its own legal strategy against what it had characterized as a sleeper cell plotting acts of terrorism.


The judge, Gerald E. Rosen, acceded to the government's request for a new trial only on document fraud charges, ending the terrorism case against the men, Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi, 38, and Karim Koubriti, 26, both from Morocco.

Judge Rosen was sharply critical of the prosecution of the case, citing a pattern of misconduct, though he did not mention Richard G. Convertino, the former lead prosecutor.

"Although prosecutors and others entrusted with safeguarding us through the legal system clearly must be innovative and think outside the conventional envelope in enforcing the law and prosecuting terrorists, they must not act outside the Constitution," the judge said in his decision. "Unfortunately,'' he added, "that is precisely what has occurred in the course of this case."

While criticizing the government's handling of the case, Judge Rosen praised the prosecutors who recently took it over and moved to disown it.

Mr. Elmardoudi and Mr. Koubriti remain in custody and face a new trial on the fraud charges. A third Moroccan, Ahmed Hannan, 36, convicted of document fraud, was released this year to a halfway house on an electronic tether. A fourth man was acquitted last year.

Three of the men were picked up in a raid six days after the Sept. 11 attacks. The group was eventually accused of forming a terrorist cell based in Detroit and collecting intelligence for terrorist plots.

But Judge Rosen said prosecutors developed early on a theory about what happened "and then simply ignored or avoided any evidence or information which contradicted or undermined that view."

The judge's comments echoed the Justice Department's sharp rebuke of Mr. Convertino, who was removed from the case late last year and is being investigated for possible misconduct. The department said in its filing that Mr. Convertino withheld a substantial amount of evidence from the court that undermined every critical aspect of his terrorism case.

Lawyers for Mr. Convertino, who is suing the department, have vigorously disputed that he knowingly withheld significant evidence and said that the department was retaliating against him for cooperating with a Congressional inquiry into the nation's antiterrorism strategy.

Judge Rosen said in his decision that "the prosecution materially misled the court, the jury and the defense as to the nature, character and complexion of critical evidence that provided important foundations for the prosecution's case."

Though the government's filing, and the judge, found fault overwhelmingly with Mr. Convertino, some observers saw other problems.

"The case fits into a broader pattern of the Ashcroft Justice Department overplaying its hand in terror cases and making broad allegations of terror without the evidence to back it up," said David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University.

Judge Rosen, who was nominated to the federal court by the first President Bush, praised the prosecutor who led a nine-month post-trial review of the case, Craig S. Morford. Mr. Morford was dispatched from the federal prosecutor's office in Cleveland last year to lead the review, which was ordered by Judge Rosen after the government revealed evidence not disclosed before or during the trial. Last month, Mr. Morford was appointed the top federal attorney in Detroit after Jeffrey G. Collins, who led the office during the prosecution of the case, resigned.

"The position the government has now taken,'' Judge Rosen said, "confessing prosecutorial error and acquiescing in most of the relief sought by the defendants, is not only the legally and ethically correct decision, it is in the highest and best tradition of Department of Justice attorneys."