"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

My Photo
Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

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

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

War Criminals, BEWARE!

UN signs pact with International Criminal Court opposed by US

UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations has signed a co-operation agreement with the new International Criminal Court, despite objections to the tribunal from the United States.

The pact that would encourage "greater co-operation and consultation" on administration and judicial matters was signed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Judge Phillipe Kirsch of Canada, the court's president.

The 191-member UN General adopted a resolution last month approving the agreement. However, in a nod to the Bush administration, the assembly's resolution says that the world body would be reimbursed by nations supporting the court for any expenses occurred.

Some 97 countries, including the entire European Union, have ratified the 1998 statute creating the court. The last three nations to ratify two weeks ago were Burundi, Liberia and Guyana.

The Bush administration is bitterly opposed to the new court and rescinded former President Bill Clinton's signature to the tribunal's statutes, arguing that it would expose US soldiers and officials to frivolous law suits.

However, supporters of the court say the ICC steps in only when a country is unwilling or unable to investigate, making it highly unlikely US citizens would be targeted.

The court, based at The Hague in the Netherlands, is the first permanent world tribunal set up to prosecute individuals for war crimes, genocide and other gross human rights abuses.

Its first investigations involve war crimes in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where thousands have been killed, raped and tortured.

Another probe centres on leaders of Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army, who have kidnapped and tortured thousands of children in their camps in Sudan.

On Friday, US representative Stuart Holliday warned the Security Council after a vote to increase UN peacekeepers in the Congo that "any expenses resulting from the provision of any co-operation or support to the ICC would need to be on a reimbursable basis."

William Pace, head of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, representing 2000 advocacy groups, said, that "by allowing for crucial cooperation between two of the most powerful global justice institutions, this agreement will play an important role in the fight to end impunity for the perpetrators of the world's most atrocious crimes."


The Eyes That Cannot See Beyond Jabaliya and Samarra

At first glance the violence in Jabaliya in Palestine and in the Iraqi town of Samarra appear to be unconnected. The Israeli army's incursion into northern Gaza looks like just another deadeningly familiar episode in the unending conflict between Palestinians and Jews.
The US-led weekend assault on insurgents in mainly Sunni Samarra seems to be broadly typical of the continuing turmoil in Iraq.

But peer beneath the headlines and it is clear that these ostensibly separate events are far from routine, and are closely linked in many ways, directly and indirectly.

In both Jabaliya and Samarra modern armies with state-of-the-art weaponry and unanswerable air power attacked residential areas, causing numerous civilian casualties.

In both cases the degree of lethal force used was grossly disproportionate to the assessed threat. Three US and two Iraqi battalions - about 5,000 men - were sent against 200-300 insurgents in Samarra.

In Gaza, in order to deter the sort of vicious home-made Hamas rocket attacks that killed two children in Sderot last week, the Israelis have deployed an estimated 2,000 soldiers and 200 tanks, and are threatening an escalation.

In both places, enormous damage has been done to homes and infrastructure, including basic services. The Palestinians are appealing for international assistance for what they say is a developing "humanitarian tragedy".

The Iraqi Red Crescent, reporting that 500 families were forced to flee Samarra, said the Iraqi interim government had asked for emergency aid.

Present horrors apart, Jabaliya and Samarra both offer disturbing portents, and both have considerable political significance.

In Gaza, Israel seems intent on establishing a buffer zone on Palestinian land, the equivalent of the wall with which it is enclosing the West Bank and which, despite official denials, is prospectively just as permanent.

This is linked in turn to the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's controversial unilateral plan to evacuate most of the Gaza Strip next year while consolidating Israel's grip on growing swaths of the West Bank.

The US attack on Samarra, a relatively easy target, appears to be a dress rehearsal for coming attempts to seize control of better defended insurgent strongholds such as Falluja, Sadr City and Ramadi.

On the success of this campaign rests, to a large degree, the Bush administration's strategy for creating a democratic post-Saddam Iraq.

And thus are the personal political fortunes of Mr Sharon and the US president, George Bush, bound up to a critical degree in what happens in places such as Jabaliya and Samarra.

Both men are fighting to convince sceptical electorates, and their own parties, that they know what they are doing. When elected, Mr Sharon promised to achieve security for Israelis. Mr Bush declared victory in Iraq more than a year ago.

Each man has a credibility gap. To fill it, it seems ongoing civilian carnage is not too high a price to pay.

Jabaliya and Samarra may also be seen as linked symbols of a bigger problem. In Iraq and Palestine, two allied occupying powers - and democracies, at that - act with questionable or no legal authority and with evident impunity.

Resolutions and protests from the UN are ignored. European and Arab governments wring their hands impotently. Tony Blair is reduced to hinting at better times to come. Yet the bald fact remains: the US and Israel behave they way they do because they can; there is simply nobody to stop them.

And just as Israel's unbending stance, favouring force over dialogue, threatens a spreading conflict, drawing in Syria and Lebanon, so does an aggressive US policy, confusing power and legitimacy, intensify the risk of an Iraqi fragmentation embroiling Iran, Turkey and other neighbours.

Jabaliya and Samarra, officially, are distinct theatres in the wider "war on terror".

But far from being unconnected, to many in the Arab world they look dismayingly like integral parts of a western crusade against both Muslims and Islam in general, to which violent resistance is the only possible response.

On both sides of the divide this dread downward spiral creates a kind of unseeing rage to which all are held hostage: blind in Iraq, eyeless in Gaza.

Simon Tisdall
Tuesday October 5, 2004
The Guardian

The Nuclear Bomb That Wasn't

Of all the justifications that President Bush gave for invading Iraq, the most terrifying was that Saddam Hussein was on the brink of developing a nuclear bomb that he might use against the United States or give to terrorists. Ever since we learned that this was not true, the question has been whether Mr. Bush gave a good-faith account of the best available intelligence, or knowingly deceived the public. The more we learn about the way Mr. Bush paved the road to war, the more it becomes disturbingly clear that if he was not aware that he was feeding misinformation to the world, he was about the only one in his circle who had not been clued in.

The foundation for the administration's claim that it acted on an honest assessment of intelligence analysis - and the president's frequent claim that Congress had the same information he had - has been steadily eroded by the reports from the Senate Intelligence Committee and the 9/11 commission. A lengthy report in The Times on Sunday removed any lingering doubts.

The only physical evidence the administration offered for an Iraqi nuclear program were the 60,000 aluminum tubes that Baghdad set out to buy in early 2001; some of them were seized in Jordan. Even though Iraq had a history of using the same tubes to make small rockets, the president and his closest advisers told the American people that the overwhelming consensus of government experts was that these new tubes were to be used to make nuclear bomb fuel. Now we know there was no such consensus. Mr. Bush's closest advisers say they didn't know that until after they had made the case for war. But in fact, they had plenty of evidence that the claim was baseless; it was a long-discounted theory that had to be resurrected from the intelligence community's wastebasket when the administration needed justification for invading Iraq.

The tubes-for-bombs theory was the creation of a low-level C.I.A. analyst who got his facts, even the size of the tubes, wrong. It was refuted within 24 hours by the Energy Department, which issued three papers debunking the idea over a four-month period in 2001, and by the International Atomic Energy Agency. A week before Mr. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, in which he warned of an Iraqi nuclear menace, international experts in Vienna had dismissed the C.I.A.'s theory about the tubes. The day before, the International Atomic Energy Agency said there was no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program and rejected the tubes' tale entirely.

It's shocking that with all this information readily available, Secretary of State Colin Powell still went before the United Nations to repeat the bogus claims, an appearance that gravely damaged his reputation. It's even more disturbing that Vice President Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, had not only failed to keep the president from misleading the American people, but had also become the chief proponents of the "mushroom cloud" rhetoric.

Ms. Rice had access to all the reports debunking the tubes theory when she first talked about it publicly in September 2002. Yet last Sunday, Ms. Rice said that while she had been aware of a "dispute" about the tubes, she had not specifically known what it was about until after she had told the world that Saddam was building the bomb.

Ms. Rice's spokesman, Sean McCormack, said it was not her job to question intelligence reports or "to referee disputes in the intelligence community." But even with that curious job disclaimer, it's no comfort to think that the national security adviser wouldn't have bothered to inform herself about such a major issue before speaking publicly. The national security adviser has no more important responsibility than making sure that the president gets the best advice on life-and-death issues like the war.

If Ms. Rice did her job and told Mr. Bush how ludicrous the case was for an Iraqi nuclear program, then Mr. Bush terribly misled the public. If not, she should have resigned for allowing her boss to start a war on the basis of bad information and an incompetent analysis.


Jump to TO Features for Wednesday October 6, 2004

Grief-stricken Mom Collapses, Dies Days After Son Killed in Iraq

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A 45-year-old woman collapsed and died days after learning her son had been killed in Iraq, and just hours after seeing his body.

Results of an autopsy were not immediately released, but friends of Karen Unruh-Wahrer said she couldn't stop crying over losing her 25-year-old son, Army Spc. Robert Oliver Unruh, who was killed by enemy fire near Baghdad on Sept. 25.

``Her grief was so intense _ it seemed it could have harmed her, could have caused a heart attack. Her husband described it as a broken heart,'' said Cheryl Hamilton, manager of respiratory care services at University Medical Center, where Unruh-Wahrer worked as a respiratory therapist.

Unruh, a combat engineer, had been in Iraq less than a month when he was shot during an attack on his unit.

Several days after learning of his death, his mother had gone to the hospital complaining of chest pains, Hamilton said.

She was feeling better the next day but saw her son's body Saturday morning and collapsed that night in her kitchen.

Her husband, Dennis Wahrer _ also a respiratory therapist _ and other family members performed CPR but Unruh-Wahrer was pronounced dead that night.

Autopsy results won't be released until relatives are notified, said Dr. Bruce Parks, Pima County chief medical examiner. There was no immediate response to a call to his office before business hours Tuesday.

Robert Unruh will be buried Friday at the Southern Arizona Veterans' Memorial Cemetery. His mother's body will accompany her son's in the procession to the cemetery.

Associated Press
Posted October 5 2004, 11:41 AM EDT