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Friday, March 04, 2005

Nut Case Sam Johnson (R-TX)

Member Of Congress Calls for Nuking Syria


03/02/05 Washington, DC -- Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) has advocated for attacking Syria with nuclear weapons. Rep. Johnson was quoted telling a recent church gathering, "Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on 'em and I'll make one pass. We won't have to worry about Syria anymore." The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is outraged at Rep. Johnson's statement advocating for mass destruction and genocide and views this as a sad day in our country's tradition when an elected member of the United States Congress openly advocates for attacking another country with nuclear weapons.

ADC calls upon Rep. Johnson to provide an immediate and public explanation for his remarks. Additionally, ADC calls on the White House to publicly distance itself from such un-American views. In a letter faxed to Rep. Johnson today, former congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar, president of ADC, said, "While we recognize the current differences between the Bush Administration and the Syrian Government, these differences should be addressed in negotiations at the conference table, in coordination with our international partners, rather than confrontation in the battle field by using nuclear weapons," Oakar continued, "Advocating for genocide by nuclear attack against any country is completely unacceptable and contrary to our American values and traditions."

Oakar said, "These remarks have no place in the United States Congress."

Rep. Johnson can be reached at:

District Office- 2929 North Central Expressway
Suite 240
Richardson, TX 75080
Phone (972) 470-0892
Fax (972) 470-9937

Washington Office- 1211 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone (202) 225-4201
Fax (202) 225-1485

Padilla's Indefinite Detention Puts Your Rights At Risk

Picture yourself in this scenario.

You're a U.S. citizen landing at a major airport from abroad. You're pulled out of line at customs, arrested, thrown in jail for a month and then spirited off to a military prison.

Nearly three years later, you're still there, never charged with any crime. The government claims it can hold you forever without answering to any judge or court.

The scenario is not fiction. It's happening now. Only a federal judge in South Carolina is standing in the way. At stake is the constitutional guarantee of every American to be free from arbitrary imprisonment.

Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen born in Brooklyn, N.Y., was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport in May 2002. He's still being held. No charges have been filed.

Despite the clear language of the Constitution that prohibits detention without trial, the Bush administration insists that it can indefinitely hold Padilla - or anyone else it chooses - as an "enemy combatant" without trial or even formal charges.

Padilla is one of a handful of Americans known to have been swept up in the war on terror, but he is the lone suspect not released or handled by the courts. So far, he has received only indictment by press conference - and with dubious credibility at that.

The Justice Department first claimed Padilla was sent home by al-Qaeda to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" in Washington. That scenario was downplayed last year in favor of new allegations: An alleged plan to blow up high-rise apartment buildings using natural gas. Still no charges, still no trial.

In South Carolina on Monday, U.S. District Judge Henry Floyd ordered the government to either try Padilla or let him go. Floyd, a Bush appointee, ruled that the government had failed to cite any law or legal precedent to justify holding him indefinitely.

Defenders of the administration argue that Padilla is dangerous. Putting him on trial, they say, could endanger intelligence sources that provided evidence against him.

Perhaps he is a threat. Perhaps there's reason for suspicion but not enough evidence to convict. Or perhaps the government erred in arresting him and would rather not admit it. Without a trial, there's no way to find out.

For obvious reasons, the Constitution denies the president or his aides the power to decide by themselves that a citizen can be imprisoned indefinitely without judicial review. Armed with such power, an administration could imprison its political opponents or silence them with the threat.

Yes, there is a risk that if Padilla is freed he might make trouble. But tracking potential criminals is a job intelligence and police agencies can handle. The cost of setting a precedent that presidents can jail whomever they choose would be far greater.

This case is not just about Jose Padilla. It's about every citizen's liberty. If the foundations of freedom crumble under the stresses of the war on terrorism, the terrorists will have won.

Copyright: USAToday.com

Vietnam War Victims of Agent Orange Poisoning Sue US Chemical Companies

Vietnamese citizens who say they have suffered a lifetime of health problems after being poisoned by Agent Orange during the Vietnam War are suing the American chemical companies that provided the Pentagon with the toxic defoliant.

The case has huge implications. If successful it could open the way for claims against companies that produce weapons such as depleted uranium-tipped munitions, which have been strongly linked to cancer.

In the lawsuit filed this week, it was alleged that up to four million Vietnamese suffered persistent respiratory and reproductive problems as a result of being contaminated by Agent Orange. They are seeking compensation that could run to billions of dollars from 30 companies, such as Dow Chemical and Monsanto. One of the plaintiffs, Dr Phan Thi Phi Phi, told the court in New York she had worked in an area that was heavily sprayed with the defoliant and suffered four miscarriages during the early 1970s. "We did not know what happened to us, what was the cause of it, so we were very sad because we had so many miscarriages and we could not have children," she said.

US forces routinely sprayed the defoliant to clear areas of jungle where they believed Communist forces were hiding, and to destroy their crops.

Although $300m (£160m) has been paid out to American troops who fought in Vietnam, there has never been any compensation paid to the Vietnamese. Scientists have stated that the defoliant can cause cancer, diabetes, birth defects and other problems.

Jonathan Moore, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said: "The companies ... knew Agent Orange contained high levels of dioxin and did not care because ... they figured the only people getting sprayed were the enemy."

The firms have sought to dismiss the claim. This week their lawyers argued that the US courts had no power to penalise companies for executing the orders of a president exercising his powers as commander in chief. Lawyers also stated that companies normally enjoyed exemption from criminal and civil liability for alleged war crimes. The Justice Department also sought dismissal of the lawsuit, arguing that opening the US courts to former wartime enemies could threaten presidential power to wage war. The US government has argued that the effects of Agent Orange are not supported by direct evidence.

District Judge Jack Weinstein questioned whether presidential orders exempted the firms, citing the actions of German corporations during the Second World War.

Dave Cline, of Vietnam Veterans against the War, supported the action. He said US veterans had fought for years to receive compensation for 11 separate conditions and illnesses linked to Agent Orange. "In Vietnam they say three million people still suffer," he said.

No one from Dow Chemical was available to comment.

Andrew Buncombe in Washington
04 March 2005
The Independent