Bush must be stopped before starting war with Iran

Dandelion Salad

By Joe Parko
July 28, 2008

The Bush administration, in rhetoric that is eerily similar to that used to build the case for a war against Iraq, asserts that the Iranian Quds Force is arming anti-U.S. groups in Iraq and providing them with high-tech roadside bombs and sophisticated rockets.

It dismisses the National Intelligence Estimate conclusion that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program.

The White House has not provided evidence to back up its claims. I suspect it never will. And when Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz tells the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth an attack on Iran is “unavoidable” if Tehran does not halt its alleged nuclear weapons program, what he is really telling us is we should prepare for war.


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To Provoke War: Cheney Considered Proposal To Dress Up Navy Seals As Iranians & Shoot At Them

The NYT: Making Nuclear Extermination Respectable

If Iran is Attacking It Might Really be Israel By Philip Giraldi

Plain Facts About Iran’s Military By Eric Margolis

Acts of War By Scott Ritter

Call on AP to retract false reporting on Iran

The possibility of a retaliatory attack by Iran on US bases in the region


Held Hostage For Six Years In Gitmo, Sami El Haj Tells His Story

Dandelion Salad

By Silvia Cattori
08/02/08 “ICH”

Standing straight and tall, an impressive and deeply introspective man, Sami El Haj walks with a limp and the help of a walking stick. Neither laughter nor smiles light up the refined face of this man, old before his time. A deep sadness pervades him. He was 32 years old when, in December 2001, his life, like that of tens of thousands of other Muslims, became a horrific nightmare.

He endured horrendous suffering. Weakened by a hunger strike which lasted 438 days, set free on the 1st May 2008, he greets you attentively and with a gentle manner. He calmly tells you of a world whose paralyzing, suffocating horror is beyond your comprehension.

He is the first of the released detainees from the camps built by the Bush administration at the Guantánamo Bay naval base to be authorised to travel.

“I came to Geneva, the city of the United Nations and freedom, [1] to ask for the law to be respected, to demand the closure of the Guantánamo camp and secret prisons, and to demand that this illegal situation be brought to an end”, he says calmly. The word has been uttered. Everything is “illegal”; everything is false, manipulated, absurd and Kafka-esque in this war waged essentially against those of the Muslim faith.

We now know many things; most notably that many of the terrorist attacks since 1996 which have been attributed to Muslims were financed and manipulated by secret agents of MI6, the CIA and Mossad. It was brave witnesses like the former German minister, Andreas Von Bülow [2] in particular, who discovered and denounced this kind of criminal activity, practiced by the superpowers. Apart from the new media, which journalist has ever spoken of the revelations made by this great man, Andreas Von Bülow?

In Guantánamo, spurred on by his passion for justice and his conviction that every journalist’s mission is to bear witness to what he sees, Sami El Haj had the psychological strength to carry on, resisting the worse abuses and putting his own suffering to one side. His experiences were extremely painful but he was able, even in the worst moments, to cling to the hope that he would get out alive. And knowing that he had to observe everything in order to be able to tell the world helped him to bear the unbearable.

Moreover, it was through viewing this horrific place which could have been his tomb, created by President Bush, with the objective eye of the journalist that Sami El Haj was able to survive and remain sane. Others, who were not as lucky as he was, died or became insane, and so were unable to recount their experience.

With neither pencil nor paper, Sami El Haj forced himself to memorise everything in order, even in a cage, to carry on his work as “an Al Jazeera journalist covering a story”, as he put it.

Today he is driven by the idea of bringing to the world’s attention these tens of thousands of prisoners who are still suffering inhuman treatment in the prisons of Guantánamo, Bagram and Kandahar. He replies tirelessly and with good humour to all the journalists who interview him, hoping that his words will allow those who no longer have a voice to be heard.

His account is crucial. Like the other detainees, also wrongly labelled as “terrorists”, Sami El Haj was never tried and was never informed of the charges against him. Which demonstrates that President Bush, and the journalists who supported his theories, must have invented the “Islamic terrorists”. Human beings like Sami El Haj could never have been arrested or remained hostages of this barbarism, for the simple reason that they are Muslims, without the complicity of European governments and those Islamophobic propagandists under the orders of Tel Aviv and Washington who, for decades, have been misinforming public opinion and influencing the powers that be with their lies.

Silvia Cattori : How do you feel, just a few short weeks after your liberation?

Sami El Haj : I feel fine, thank you. When I see people committing themselves to saving human beings and fighting to defend their rights, it gives me great comfort. Of course, when I left Guantánamo, two months ago, I was in a very bad way. But now I feel better, discovering that people outside are fighting and not losing sight of the main goal – achieving peace and freedom for everyone.

Silvia Cattori : After those painful years spent in the camps, what are your strongest feelings and greatest hopes?

Sami El Haj : Of course, I am happy to be free again. I have been reunited with my family, my wife and my son. For six and a half years he did not see me, and had to go to school without me. He waited for me and said,“ Dad, I have missed you for so long! I was so unhappy, especially when I saw my school friends, with their fathers, and they asked me where my father was. I had no answer to give them. That’s why I asked my mum to take me to school in the car, because I didn’t want them to keep asking me that question”.

I said to my son, “Now, I could take you to school, but you must understand that I have a message to give, a just cause to defend. I want to fight for the cause of human rights, for those who have been deprived of their freedom. I do not want to fight alone. There are thousands of people who are standing up and fighting wherever human dignity is attacked. Do not forget that we are fighting for peace, to defend rights whenever they are denied, for a better future for you. Perhaps one day we will achieve this, and then I will be able to stay with you and take you to school”.

I do not know if he understood, because he is still very young, but he smiled at me. My wife did not want me to leave again either. But when I reminded her of the horrific situation those imprisoned in Guantánamo find themselves, and that they also have a family, sons, daughters, a wife whom they miss terribly, and that if I do not fight these people will remain imprisoned even longer, she understood that I must carry on travelling, adding my voice to all the other voices, so that the detainees can return home as soon as possible. She gave me her full support. On the way to the airport she said to me, “I will pray for you”.

Silvia Cattori : So, by going to Afghanistan to film the massacres of civilians, victims of President Bush’s war, you yourself became one of his victims? Are you not afraid of what could happen to you again?

Sami El Haj : For me, there is no question – I will continue my work as a journalist. I must continue carrying a message of peace, no matter what. For my part, I have spent six years and six months in prison, far from my family, but for others it was so much worse. I lost a very dear friend, a journalist with Al Jazeera: he died in Baghdad, killed when the hotel where he was staying was bombed. I also lost a colleague who was working with me at Al Jazeera, whom I consider a sister: she too died in Baghdad.

Many people have lost their lives because of this war. You must know that the Bush administration wanted to prevent coverage by the free media, like Al Jazeera, in the Middle East. The Al Jazeera offices in Kabul and Baghdad were bombed.

In 2001, when I left my son and my wife to film the war initiated by the USA against Afghanistan, I had to expect finding death during a bombing raid. I went there fully aware of the risks. Every journalist knows that he is carrying out a mission and must be ready to sacrifice himself in order to bear witness to what is happening, through his films and writing. And to help people understand that war brings nothing but the death of the innocent, destruction and suffering. It is on the basis of this conviction that my colleagues and I went to countries at war.

Now, after all these years in captivity, I can once again do something to help bring about peace. I am going to commit myself to this goal, until it is achieved. I am sure that one day, even if I do not personally reap the fruits, we will succeed in achieving peace and the respect of human rights, as well as the protection of journalists throughout the world. I am sure that we will see the day when journalists are no longer tortured or injured doing their job, defending people’s rights to information and highlighting human rights abuses.

Silvia Cattori : You said at the beginning that you are feeling fine. But after such a terrible experience, and given that you were released with no apology whatsoever from your torturers, how are you able to talk about all this without resentment or bitterness?

Sami El Haj : Of course, what happened to me was very hard and my personal situation is difficult. But when I think of those who are still in Guantánamo, and their families that they miss very much and who have no news at all of them, I tell myself that my situation, as difficult as it is, is better than theirs.

I cannot forget that in Guantánamo I have left behind brothers who have been crushed, who have gone mad. I am thinking in particular of a Yemeni doctor who now lives naked in his cell because he has lost his mind.

Silvia Cattori : What kind of torture did they subject you to?

Sami El Haj : All kinds of physical and psychological torture. As all the detainees were Muslim, the camp administration subjected them to many forms of harassment and humiliation linked to religion. With my own eyes I saw soldiers tearing up the Qur’an and throwing it in the toilet. I saw them, during interrogation sessions, sitting on the Qur’an until their questions were answered. They insulted our families and our religion. They made fun of us by pretending to ring our God, asking him to come and save us. The only Imam at the camp was accused of complicity with the detainees and was sent away, in 2005, for refusing to tell visitors that the camp respected religious freedom.

They beat us up. They taunted us with racist insults. They locked us in cold rooms, below zero, with one cold meal a day. They hung us up by our hands. They deprived us of sleep, and when we started to fall asleep, they beat us on the head. They showed us films of the most horrendous torture sessions. They showed us photographs of torture victims – dead, swollen, covered in blood. They kept us under constant threat of being moved elsewhere to be tortured even more. They doused us with cold water. They forced us to do the military salute to the American national anthem. They forced us to wear women’s clothes. They forced us to look at pornographic images. They threatened us with rape. They would strip us naked and make us walk like donkeys, ordering us around. They made us sit down and stand up five hundred times in a row. They humiliated the detainees by wrapping them up in the Israeli and American flags, which was their way of telling us that we were imprisoned because of a religious war.

When a detainee, filthy and riddled with fleas, is taken out of his cell to be submitted to more torture sessions in an attempt to make him collaborate, he ends up not knowing what he is saying or even who he is any more.

I was interrogated and tortured more than two hundred times. 95% of the questions were about Al Jazeera. They wanted me to work as a spy within Al Jazeera. In exchange, they offered American citizenship for myself and my family, and payment based on results. I refused. I told them repeatedly that my job is a journalist, not a spy, and that it was my duty to make the truth known and to work for the respect of human rights.

Silvia Cattori : Today, can you find it within yourself to pardon your torturers?

Sami El Haj : Of course I will pardon them if they close Guantánamo. But if they continue to cause suffering, I will go to the courts and take action against them.

Although I know that the Bush administration has done so much harm, I still think that it’s not too late for these people to make up for their mistakes.

A distinction must be made between the administration and the people. The Guantánamo detainees know that they have friends in America, like the lawyer who came to Guantánamo and fought for my case.

Silvia Cattori : Am I right in thinking that they were not able to break you?

Sami El Haj : Because I am not alone, and there are people supporting me, this feeling gives me strength. In prison, I drew my strength from the belief that no free man can accept being in this position of inferiority and dehumanization. You feel pain and sorrow but you are determined to keep alive the hope that there will be an end to it; and the idea that even in prison, it is possible to carry on your work as journalist, makes suffering easier to bear.

Silvia Cattori : When you were in Guantánamo, did you know that outside there where people who were fighting for you to be released?

Sami El Haj : In fact I didn’t know about them, because in prison it is very difficult to receive news, even if you have a lawyer, because he is not allowed to tell you anything. Now I do know those who work for human rights, and those who do not agree with the Bush administration. I think that every day their voice becomes stronger.

Silvia Cattori : Your brother, when he saw you again, said that you looked like an old man. Is that how you feel?

Sami El Haj : Personally, it is my heart that counts, and not my face or my body. I feel that my heart is as young as ever, and stronger than before.

Silvia Cattori : So it was a very painful experience, but in fact you have emerged from it with unforeseen benefits?

Sami El Haj : That’s right. I have been able to reap some benefits from my time spent in Guantánamo. Before going there, I only had a small family. Now I have a large family as I have gained hundreds of friends from around the world. This is very positive: I may have lost six and a half years but now, I have more friends.

Silvia Cattori : Are you still considered an “enemy combatant” [3]?

Sami El Haj : I don’t know, but when they released me, they said: ”Now you are no longer a danger to America”.

Silvia Cattori : And your name is not on the “terrorist list” any more?

Sami El Haj : I don’t know. I think that for them, all the people they labeled as “terrorists” will remain so. And that now they are afraid of us because they made us suffer for no reason.

Silvia Cattori : Do you think CIA agents will still spy on you?

Sami El Haj : Yes. The truth is that I have nothing against the country and its people. If the Bush administration makes amends for its errors, I will have nothing to complain about.

Silvia Cattori : Were you surprised when, as you were leaving, an officer from the Pentagon who saw you with a walking stick accused you of being manipulative?

Sami El Haj : The Pentagon officials claim that the Guantánamo detainees were criminals, but in fact five hundred of them have now returned home. How could they have been allowed to leave if they really were criminals? They are still lying.

Silvia Cattori : Two other Sudanese men were released at the same time as you – Amir Yacoub Mohamed al Amin and Walid Mohamed. How are they now?

Sami El Haj : The Sudanese government has treated them very well. They greeted all three of us personally at the airport. Despite the fact that the Americans had taken my passport, I was given a new one within two hours, and they did not prevent me from travelling outside Sudan.

Silvia Cattori : In Guantánamo, did the soldiers call you by your name or by your detainee number, “number 345”?

Sami El Haj : They never called me by my name, just “three, four, five”, my prison number. Towards the end they called me “Al Jazeera”. Only the Red Cross officials called me by my name.

Silvia Cattori : Did these officials visit you often?

Sami El Haj : When they were authorized to visit us, every two or three months. I talked to them and they brought me letters from my family.

Silvia Cattori : The Bush administration and the officers who had the job of torturing you knew that you were a good man, a journalist merely trying to expose the brutality with which they were treating the Afghan people, not a “terrorist”. Do you know why they treated you so badly?

Sami El Haj : Most of the soldiers there were following orders from their superiors. They carried out torture with no conscience. But to be true to what happened I must say that some of them were good men. Some soldiers did use their brains.

Silvia Cattori : The CIA agents wrote a report on the torture in Guantánamo. When they were torturing you, did you feel that they were observing you, carrying out experiments on you?

Sami El Haj : We were under the constant supervision of military psychologists. They were not there to treat us, but to take part in the interrogations, observing the tortured prisoners so that no detail of their behaviour would escape them. The interrogations were the responsibility of Colonel Morgan, a specialist psychiatric doctor. This colonel was stationed in Guantánamo from March 2002. He had served at the Afghan prison in Bagram from November 2001. He gave instructions to the officers who were torturing us, studied our reactions, then noted every detail in order to be able to adapt the torture techniques to each detainee, which had profound psychological consequences.

I spoke to them. I told them that the mission of a doctor is an honourable one, to help people, not torture them. They replied, “We are military personnel and we must follow the rules. When an officer gives me an order, it is my duty to carry it out; otherwise I will be imprisoned just like you. When I signed a contract with the army, I realised at the time that I must obey all orders”.

Silvia Cattori : Amongst the torture techniques used at Guantánamo, I see similarities with those used in Israel on Palestinian political prisoners. Sleep deprivation, for example, is their speciality.

Sami El Haj : I think that most of the world’s intelligence services came to Guantánamo. I saw British and Canadians. They came to find out about the interrogation techniques, and also to supply the CIA and FBI with advice on how to torture and interrogate from what they had learned.

Silvia Cattori : Are you able to sleep easily?

Sami El Haj : Not like before Guantánamo. I only sleep 3 to 4 hours now. Today, when I met people from the Red Cross, I asked them to help me to overcome my problems and recommend a doctor who could help me. Seven years is not a short period of time.

Silvia Cattori : Wasn’t going on hunger stick a kind of self-inflicted torture? Why did you do it for such long periods, while your jailers took advantage of it to inflict even more suffering and humiliation on you?

Sami El Haj : Because we felt we couldn’t stay silent – we had to do something. That is the only way we had of making our voices heard. Going on hunger strike is of course a very painful way of taking action and is difficult to endure. But when your freedom is taken away you have to fight to restore it. It was our last resort for telling the Bush administration that a detainee has dignity that he cannot live on bread alone and that freedom is more important.

Silvia Cattori : What was it like when they force-fed you?

Sami El Haj : When there were more than forty detainees on hunger strike, the administration of the camp tried to break our resistance by subjecting us to more torture. We were locked in cold rooms, stripped naked, and prevented from sleeping for long periods. Twice a day the soldiers tied us to a special chair. They put a mask over our faces and inserted a large tube into our noses, not into the stomach. The normal ration was two cans but they punished us by injecting twenty four cans and six bottles of water. Having shrunk through long hunger strikes, the stomach cannot hold such quantities. They added products which induce diarrhoea. The detainee, now sitting on that chair for more than three hours, would vomit continuously. They left us in the vomit and excrement. When the session was over they would rip the tube out violently, and when they saw the blood flowing they laughed at us. As they use infected tubes which are never cleaned, the detainees suffer from untreated illnesses.

Silvia Cattori : Is it thanks to that long hunger strike that you were released?

Sami El Haj : Not only because of that, but it was one of the factors that led the administration to release me.

Silvia Cattori : What should one make of Khaled Sheik Mohamed’s confessions [4], where he admits to organising more than thirty terrorist attacks in seventeen countries?

Sami El Haj : It is possible that they tortured him to the point where he was no longer himself. I never met him because they put him in a special camp. An officer told me that he was very badly injured. I’m sure you can imagine – they subjected him to horrific torture.

Silvia Cattori : When America says that he is the “number 3 Al Qaida terrorist”, does that bear any resemblance to the truth?

Sami El Haj : Quite honestly I believe nothing that comes from the Bush administration. Because I was also accused of being a “terrorist”. And I know better than anyone what the truth is. Those people lie too much. I never believe a single word coming from that government. I know a prisoner who was tortured so much that in the end he said, “I am Osama Bin Laden”. He said what they wanted to hear so that the torture would end.

Silvia Cattori : So, is Al Qaida a creation of the western intelligence agencies?

Sami El Haj : As far as I’m concerned, I have never in my life met anyone who has said to me, “I belong to Al Qaida”.

In Guantánamo, I met most of the detainees because the policy of the guards was not to allow the prisoners to live together for a long time in the same cell. They transferred us every week. So we got to know other people. The men I met there are all peaceful people.

Since I left, I have spoken to over a hundred of them. Those who were married have picked up their lives again and the others have got married.

Silvia Cattori : Do those who draw strength from prayer have a better chance of escaping madness?

Sami El Haj : Of course! If you feel that someone is there with you, especially God, you will be patient and always aware that God is more powerful than human beings. I must pray to God and thank him. I must also thank all those who supported me. I think that even if I spent my whole life saying thank you, I would not manage to thank them all. Now, through my work concentrating on human rights, perhaps I will be able to contribute to making other people’s lives happier.

Silvia Cattori : I feel that the media and the NGO’s in this country have not given the importance that was due to defending the rights of these Muslim prisoners [5]. For a long time denouncing the abuses committed against them was seen as a sign of sympathy for the “terrorists”. Did you know that the leaders of “Reporters without borders”, for example, whose mission is to protect journalists, were criticised for waiting five years before talking about your case [6]?

Sami El Haj : Unfortunately people believed whatever the Bush government told them Now they know this wasn’t true, they will put the record straight. As I have already said, if someone makes a mistake, it’s not a problem: the problem lies in pursuing the mistake.

If journalists do not feel concerned when other journalists are imprisoned carrying out their job, perhaps one day those very journalists will find themselves in prison and there will be nobody to defend them. We must work together, taking up each and every case. So if we find out that a journalist has been imprisoned it is our duty to support them, no matter what their colour or religion.

As a journalist, I want to commit myself to supporting journalists who work to defend rights and freedom. There is an enormous amount of work to do. We must stop at nothing to ensure the liberation of those who are locked away in Guantánamo and the countless secret prisons where the Bush government is depriving tens of thousands of others of their rights.

That experience in Guantánamo affected us profoundly. What I want to focus on is the need for and the importance of the defence of human rights. After all the damage that has been done, everyone now feels more concerned, I think. It is not acceptable to abandon these people who are suffering. We have an urgent responsibility to show solidarity with them.

Al Jazeera hopes to work with the free media to gather information relating to human rights and freedoms. I ask all journalists to cooperate with us in this. There were more than fifty nationalities in Guantánamo – it is a worldwide issue, and not just about individual detainees.

It is shameful that in our society, innocent people who have been sold find themselves locked in cages, and that this violation of basic rights should be the doing of a country which claims to be the guarantor of rights and freedoms.

I feel no hatred. We respect the citizens of the USA. It is their present government which should take responsibility for the consequences of these actions.

Human rights and security are inseparable – there can be no security without the respect of fundamental rights.

Silvia Cattori : You are right to call on decent people and journalists not to accept the violation of international laws and the cruel and degrading treatment of human beings. But this policy could not have lasted if it had not had the tacit support of the superpower governments – it was with their consent that those labelled “enemy combatants” were tortured [7]. The “Patriot Act”, for example, passed after the 11th September in the US, was supported by all the European countries. It was within the framework of these secret agreements that CIA and FBI agents were able to kidnap and torture thousands of innocent men like you in Europe.

Sami El Haj : I want to say this to you: I do not believe in the actions of governments. Because any government, in any country, prefers to govern without confronting the people’s real problems. It may, at times, speak out in support of a certain cause, but in reality it does not support it. It is only for opportunistic political reasons that governments speak out. And they may even, through political expediency; claim to support something in which they do not believe. Forget governments, because they have their own agenda. Yes, we must keep working hard to defend the rights and freedoms of everyone.

Silvia Cattori : Is it fair to conclude that the “terrorists” as presented to us by the Bush administration and the media do not exist?

Sami El Haj : I can assure you that the Guantánamo detainees that I met are not “terrorists”. I had the opportunity to talk to them and get to know them – they are pacifists.

Silvia Cattori : So you were arrested then, because it had to be proven to the other European countries that the Muslim “terrorists” really existed?

Sami El Haj : We were arrested after the attacks of the 11th September, for which no one has yet been able to find those responsible. President Bush did not want to say: “I have made mistakes; I was not able to maintain national security”. He said: “We are going to start a war against terror”. The outcome is that he has brought security to no one.

He bombed Afghanistan, sent soldiers to wage war against whole nations, but did not arrest the people that he set out to arrest. He paid the Pakistanis in return for starting to arrest people and hand them over to his administration.

89% of the prisoners in Guantánamo were bought, for hard currency, from the Pakistani authorities. Where did they find them? They found them in Pakistan, not Afghanistan.

Silvia Cattori : These prisoners were then tortured with the promise that it would end if they accepted becoming spies for the CIA!? What a terrifying system!

Sami El Haj : Yes. Let’s wait for President Bush to leave power. When he has left his seat, I am sure that many people will have something to say about his wrongdoing.

Silvia Cattori : Your testimony is very important. Your youth has been destroyed. And yet you have the magnanimity to transform this disaster into something constructive. You refuse to see yourself as a victim. You are truly amazing! So many prisoners must be hoping for help from people like you.

Sami El Haj : We must work hard, so that all those who continue to support the Bush administration feel ashamed of their actions. At that point, no one will help them. And when no one helps them, they will stop.

The whole Guantánamo episode is a huge black stain. The Bush administration tried to deceive the public by saying we were terrorists. But the great majority of those men, who were imprisoned, are innocent, like me.

Silvia Cattori : Thank you for giving us this interview.

Translation from French for Cageprisoners by Sue Bingham:

Original in French: http://www.silviacattori.net/article469.html

[1] Sami El Haj was invited to Geneva by the “Alkarama for Human Rights” Foundation. See “Sami El Haj achève une intense visite à Genève” (“Sami El Hajj successfully ends his visit to Geneva”), Alkarama for Human Rights, 1 July 2008.

[2] See “Andreas von Bülow: “Our priority should be the fight against manipulation” ”, Red Voltaire, 15 January 2006.

[3] According to Dick Marty, rapporteur of the Commission for Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Council of Europe charged with investigating the existence of secret CIA prisons in Europe, a “secret agreement, drawn up in October 2001 between the US and their NATO allies, set up the framework which allowed the CIA to incarcerate high profile detainees in Europe. It is this agreement which authorises grave violations of rights, including torture”.

[4] Khalid Cheikh Mohammed was arrested in Pakistan in 2003. Accused of being number 3 in Al Qaida, he was detained in various secret sites before being placed in isolation and brutally tortured from 2006 in Guantánamo. His farcical trial before a military tribunal, along with 14 other Al Qaida members, took place in June 2008.

[5] The “Arab Commission for Human Rights ” fought from the start for the closure of Guantánamo. See http://www.achr.nu/

[6] See “Reporters without Borders remembers (lately) Sami Al HajRed Voltaire, 2 March 2006.

[7] The status of “enemy combatant” and “illegal combatant”, allowing the US government to detain detainees categorised as such indefinitely and without civilian jurisdiction emanates from the “Patriot Act”, a law of exception designed to “unite and strengthen America by supplying the tools necessary to seek out and oppose terrorism” voted by US Congress and signed by George W. Bush, on 26 October 2001.

[8] The daily newspaper “24 Heures” wrote on 27 June 2008, “Sami El Haj is in Geneva to denounce the senseless blunder of the huge American antiterrorist machine”.

[9] See “Why did they treat me like that?”, by Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 6 July 2008.

See also “Full account of Muhammed Omer’s hair-raising encounter with the Shin Beth”, by Khalid Amayreh, 1 July 2008.

[10] On his internet site, Youssef Nada reveals the role played by some journalists in his destruction based on lies. See: http://www.youssefnada.ch/

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Ron Paul: Drop Federal Penalities for Marijuana

Dandelion Salad



SHEAR NOW! http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/alert…
NORML is pleased to report that H.R. 5843, an “Act to Remove Federal Penalties for Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults,” has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Barney Frank and Ron Paul.

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Vital unresolved anthrax questions and ABC News by Glenn Greenwald + McCain video

Dandelion Salad

by Glenn Greenwald
Aug. 1, 2008

(Updated below – Update II – Update III – Update IV – Update V – Update VI)

The FBI’s lead suspect in the September, 2001 anthrax attacks — Bruce E. Ivins — died Tuesday night, apparently by suicide, just as the Justice Department was about to charge him with responsibility for the attacks. For the last 18 years, Ivins was a top anthrax researcher at the U.S. Government’s biological weapons research laboratories at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, where he was one of the most elite government anthrax scientists on the research team at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID).

The 2001 anthrax attacks remain one of the great mysteries of the post-9/11 era. After 9/11 itself, the anthrax attacks were probably the most consequential event of the Bush presidency. One could make a persuasive case that they were actually more consequential. The 9/11 attacks were obviously traumatic for the country, but in the absence of the anthrax attacks, 9/11 could easily have been perceived as a single, isolated event. It was really the anthrax letters — with the first one sent on September 18, just one week after 9/11 — that severely ratcheted up the fear levels and created the climate that would dominate in this country for the next several years after. It was anthrax — sent directly into the heart of the country’s elite political and media institutions, to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt), NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, and other leading media outlets — that created the impression that social order itself was genuinely threatened by Islamic radicalism.



Countdown: Anthrax Attacks Inside Job? + The Long Road + Wal-Mart

  • **

After 9/11, McCain Linked Anthrax to Iraq


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“Bleeding Afghanistan” By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
07/31/08 “ICH”

Interview with Sonali Kolhatkar

1–Mike Whitney: On a recent stopover in France, Barack Obama said, “We must win in Afghanistan. There is no other option.” Recent polls, however, show that public support for the war in Afghanistan has fallen off sharply. In fact, many American’s don’t even know why we are still there. Is there a big difference between what “winning” means to the Bush administration and what it means to the people of Afghanistan? Also, have you seen any indication that the Bush administration intends to keep its promises and establish security, rebuild the country’s infrastructure, spread democracy, remove the warlords, liberate women, and “modernize” Afghanistan or was that all just a public relations smokescreen to promote the invasion?

Sonali Kolhatkar: I’m really not sure what Bush, Obama, and McCain mean when they say they want to win in Afghanistan. And, I’m not sure they know either. It’s probably just a public-relations gimmick to sound “tough on terror.” But, judging from what we’ve seen, they seem to think that “winning” means killing every last “terrorist” in Afghanistan. That sort of thinking is based on false assumptions and it’s an unattainable goal. As far as the Afghans are concerned; I think they would like to see an end to the fighting and a safe Afghanistan where human rights are respected. They also want justice for past crimes. For the US to achieve this, they will have to denounce their proxy soldiers, the Northern Alliance, and support a “justice and accountability” process led by the Afghan people.

The US will also have to address the widespread poverty and provide long-term economic solutions that give Afghans hope for the future. The US will also have to create viable alternatives to the production of heroin, so that poor farmers don’t have to depend on the sale of illicit narcotics to survive. That means Bush will have to support multi-lateral peacekeepers to protect the Afghan people from the Northern Alliance and Taliban. Most importantly, the US will have to end the occupation and withdraw its troops. But of course, that probably won’t happen any time soon. After all, the real goal of the invasion was vengeance for 9/11. All the promises of liberation and democracy were a just “PR-ploy” to make Americans feel better about seeking revenge.

2–MW: Critics of the invasion say that it had nothing to do with Al Qaida or “liberating” the Afghan people from the Taliban, but with establishing military outposts in a geopolitically strategic part of Central Asia in order to surround China, intimidate Russia, and open up pipeline corridors to the resource-rich Caspian Basin. So, what is Obama up to? Why is he calling for more troops and greater commitment from the other NATO members? Is he serious about spreading democracy and fighting Islamic extremism or is the war on terror just a smokescreen so he can carry out an imperial agenda?

Sonali Kolhatkar: I think the primary goal of the war was always vengeance, but the neocons also wanted to pave the way for an attack on Iraq. Bush wanted to go to Iraq even before 9/11. Unfortunately for him, Al Qaeda was holed up in Afghanistan so he had to invade there first and build support for attacking Iraq. It’s true that the long term goals could be military bases (John McCain said last year that he wanted permanent military bases in Afghanistan), and pipeline corridors (Clinton was most closely linked to supporting pipeline contracts between US corporations like UNOCAL and the Taliban before 2000). But I’m not sure how much Bush cared about those long-term objectives even though future presidents will surely capitalize on them.

As far as Obama’s motives, I think he just wants to get elected. But he knows that he cannot be against all wars, only an unpopular one. He knows that a candidate that is against all wars will not win in November.

He’s talked about withdrawing from Iraq, but that’s because it’s a popular position with the public. But he’s also planning to increase troop levels in Afghanistan because he is not being pressured by the American people. Americans may be unclear about why our troops are there, but they are not organized or speaking out against the Afghanistan war. Obama needs a war like Afghanistan, because it was a haven for Al Qaida and that makes him look “tough on terror.” That will help him win more votes from anti-Iraq war conservatives and independents.

3–MW: The United States has occupied Afghanistan for seven years now. Has life gotten better for the people or worse? Is there any security beyond the capital of Kabul or are the US and NATO troops stretched too thin? Do the people generally support the ongoing occupation or are they getting frustrated by the lack of progress and want to see the US go?

Sonali Kolhatkar: Initially, life got better for many Afghans, particularly in Kabul. That’s because the Taliban had been routed and the people felt somewhat safe as well as relieved. But as the warlords took over positions of power, attitudes changed. It has gotten much worse, now that the Taliban have returned and the occupation forces are killing more civilians than the Taliban.

Kabul is a bit more secure than the rest of the country. But Kabul is also the warlords’ seat of power. Most of them are even members of Parliament, so people are frequently abused and live in fear.

Beyond Kabul, things vary dramatically depending on where you go. In the parts of the country with the heaviest concentrations of US/NATO troops; Afghans are frequently rounded-up, detained, tortured, bombed, or shot by foreign troops just as in Iraq.

In other parts of the country, where the Taliban are strong; girls schools are blown up, civilians are killed in suicide bombings, and journalists, teachers, and elected officials are harassed or murdered.

Those areas controlled by warlords are ruled with an iron hand, where extreme interpretations of sharia law rule the day, and women suffer rape and degradation.

No matter where you go in Afghanistan, there is utter, grinding poverty. The US occupation has not changed that at all. People are very frustrated, particularly with the US puppet Hamid Karzai. They blame Karzai for the high number of civilian casualties. They also dislike the way he has pardoned some of the warlords and Taliban leaders.

As far as the occupation goes, people were somewhat supportive of it originally, but as conditions have deteriorated, they have begun to see the presence of foreign troops as a big part of the problem. I would say that a majority of Afghans now want the US and NATO to leave as soon as possible.

4–MW: Is the US military mainly fighting the Taliban or is the the armed-resistance more complex than that? I read recently that the so-called Taliban is actually a confederation of about a dozen disparate groups and tribes that have bonded together with the common goal of ending foreign occupation and that the main reason their ranks are swelling is because of the US military’s indiscriminate killing of civilians? Could you clarify this point?

Sonali Kolhatkar: It’s hard to understand the nature of the anti-US resistance, but it’s a very important issue. Unfortunately,the media coverage only makes it more confusing. The fighters that are called the “Taliban” are actually a mix of “former” Taliban and newly enlisted Pashtun fighters trained in Pakistan. Many of them are just disgruntled Afghan civilians whose families and loved ones have been killed and/or tortured by US/NATO forces. Recruiting is always easy when you can show that foreign soldiers are killing more civilians that the “so-called” enemy. But we should be careful to not glorify the resistance. It is strictly fundamentalist and would not be a good option for Afghans in terms of future leadership. The vast majority of Afghans are moderate Muslims who strongly disagree with the Taliban’s extremist ideology, but they have joined the struggle to bring an end to the occupation. But, of course, their troubles won’t disappear just because the American forces leave. They’ll still be stuck with the Taliban and the warlords. When the Soviet occupation ended in the late 1980s, the US-backed warlords began their reign of terror on the people between 1992 to 1996. That could happen again. These same warlords (or Taliban) could once again spread misery and death across Afghanistan. War is an entropic force that cannot be undone by simply hitting a rewind button.

5–MW: What will happen if the US military leaves Afghanistan? Is withdrawal the best solution or do you see another, perhaps, less bloody, alternative?

Sonali Kolhatkar: There are always less bloody alternatives, but withdrawal is the first step in a long and complex process. As I’ve said before, Afghanistan’s solutions do not fit neatly on a placard. Perhaps that’s why anti-war activists don’t take a clear stand against this war. The withdrawal of US/NATO forces must be accompanied by other developments, like disempowering the warlords in parliament who have a long history of US-supported impunity. This disempowering must include an “Afghan-led” disarmament of their private militias; removing them from political power, and holding them accountable for their past crimes through criminal prosecution of some sort.

There must also be a “transitional” UN peacekeeping force that maintains security and protects ordinary people the fundamentalists (Taliban and Northern Alliance) But they must make sure that they don’t target civilians.

There must also be economic justice in the form of reparations (matching the money that has been spent on weapons since 1979, dollar-for-dollar) and a plan to build up local industries, create jobs, and provide alternatives to poppy farming.

There must be political justice so that dissidents can come out of the shadows and run for office or participate in the rebuilding their national institutions. When the Afghan people decide that it’s time for the peacekeepers to leave; they should go.

Can such a solution work?

Perhaps. But for this, or any other idea to work, the US occupation must end. That’s the first big step to recovery.

6–MW: There is a very brave and outspoken woman in the Afghan parliament, named Malalai Joya. She has repeatedly put her own life at risk by denouncing the warlords and calling for an end to the US occupation. She has consistently called out for human rights and real democracy. Has the Bush administration done anything at all to promote or protect courageous women who embody “liberal values” like Malalai Joya?

Sonali Kolhatkar: Women like Malalai Joya are “inconvenient” for the Bush administration. That’s because Joya echoes the will of her people in calling for an end to warlords, AND an end to the US occupation. Bush and his cohorts like to promote the type of women who quietly accept the US narrative and show gratitude for being “saved by the Americans.” In fact, there are very few such women like that in Afghanistan. Joya speaks for millions of Afghan women when she denounces the warlords. And she has repeatedly put herself in danger. She has nearly been killed at least four times! What this means is that women’s rights are available only to women who do not exercise their rights. And it not just Malalai Joya who is putting herself at risk due to her political activism. I have personally worked very closely with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), and they have been saying the same things for years. Still, RAWA cannot operate openly without putting themselves in danger of physical harm; so they must carry out their work underground.

RAWA has NEVER received any offer of help from the US government (although they would refuse it if it anyway to remain politically independent) Like Joya, the women of RAWA are inconvenient – they do not need to be “saved” by America. But they do need a safe Afghanistan and they deserve international solidarity for their brave human rights work.

7–MW: The invasion of Afghanistan was promoted as a humanitarian intervention to save the Afghans from the brutal Taliban regime. How would you advise people who now think we should take similar action in Darfur to stop the killing there? Is military invasion an acceptable way to address injustice or spread democracy?

Sonali Kolhatkar: I’m not sure I have a definitive answer to that question, but I do think it is one that progressives need to grapple with. Too often, we in the West are very selective when it comes to the causes we support. Only when the US is directly involved do activists choose to oppose a regime. Before the US war in Afghanistan, when the country was being destroyed by the warlords and then the Taliban, it was not seen as a cause worth taking on by American activists. But if the people are being oppressed by someone else, we ignore it. The sad truth is that until progressives come up strategies for dealing with repressive regimes, we’ll always just be reacting to unjust interventions by our government.

Military options are always the worst. Even so, diplomacy can be nearly as corrupt if it means compromising with criminals and warlords and giving them whatever they want in exchange for peace. Peace without justice is meaningless. We could have peace now in Afghanistan if we were willing to give the warlords and Taliban ultimate power. In fact, there was a kind of “peace” under the Taliban. But is that what we want?

If we want real justice we need to figure out a reasonable way to deal with injustice. We need to create alternatives that involve people-to-people solidarity and democracy that can transform society. For example, one way we could have dealt with the Taliban without invading would have been for individual Americans (not our government) to financially and morally support the subversive (and non-violent) work of groups like RAWA. That way, Afghans would have been able to change their country by themselves without foreign intervention and massive destruction. Indeed, RAWA supports change from within and have called on their people to rise up. But their effectiveness has limited by a lack of resources to help them get the word out while organizing underground. Solidarity with groups like RAWA (and there may be similar ones in Darfur) is one long-term, progressive alternative to foreign intervention.

BIO: Sonali Kolhatkar is the host and producer of Uprising, a popular radio program through Pacifica Network, that airs on stations around the country. She is also the Co-Director of Afghan Women’s Mission, a US-based non-profit organization that works in solidarity with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). She is the co-author, with James Ingalls, of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence (Seven Stories 2006). More information at www.afghanwomensmission.org, www.rawa.org.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

William Pepper: The Execution of Martin Luther King (2003)

Dandelion Salad


Talk by William Pepper author of “An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King” and “Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King” given February 27, 2003 in Seattle.

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Hegemony Everywhere But At Home By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
07/31/08 “ICH”

What explains the fantastic amount of resources that Americans have thrown into combating a nonexistent Muslim threat to the United States, while acquiescing to decades-long encroachment by illegal aliens?

According to economic and budgetary experts, the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq will cost Americans in excess of $3 trillion. And that might only be the beginning. Currently, the US military is violating Pakistan’s sovereignty by conducting military strikes within Pakistan’s borders, and the political regime in Washington, pushed by its Israeli overlord, has been preparing the American people for an attack on Iran.

Meanwhile, Southern California has been lost to Mexico, and Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico are not far behind. Indeed, there are now large Mexican communities almost everywhere in the United States.

How in the face of the facts did the American political mind get focused on a fabricated threat half a world away while being blinded to the cultural loss of vast chunks of US territory? Is the “war on terror” a distraction from the silent invasion that is transforming the US?

In Los Angeles County, 5.1 million people speak English; 3.9 million speak Spanish. Forty percent of all workers in Los Angeles County are illegals working for cash. Two-thirds of births in Los Angeles County are to illegal Mexicans.

Some people accept what they regard as the inevitable return of the southwest to the peoples from whom white immigrants stole it. But what this argument leaves unexplained is why the US government is so much more determined to impose its hegemony abroad than within its own borders?

In the United States, internal security is focused entirely on the airports. It is American citizens who are accosted, strip-searched and abused. The airport security gestapo are proud that there have been “only” 110,000 complaints from mistreated airline passengers.

Airport security claims to have “screened” two billion airline passengers, but the US government cannot keep one to two million illegals from crossing illegally into the US each year.

Neoconservative propagandists and their dupes exclaim: “We have to fight them over there before they come over here.” But between the US and Muslim countries there are many national borders and wide oceans.

Moreover, no Muslim organizations exist that lay claim to territory within the 50 US states.

There are organizations of Mexicans that claim the US southwest. Shall we invade Mexico to keep them from coming here?

The mindlessness of those who say “we have to fight them over there” is apparent. The American invasion of Iraq has displaced millions of Iraqis, many of whom will find their way “over here.” Without the invasion of Iraq, hardly any would have found their way “over here.”

I sometimes wonder if Americans have enough sense to justify their continued existence as an independent country.

Americans have proven themselves to be incapable of dealing with any threat unless it can be hyped as a terrorist one.

If the loss during the Bush regime of three million US manufacturing jobs were attributed to terrorism, Americans would get riled up.

If the inability of American college graduates to find jobs in the technical and scientific areas in which they are educated was the consequence of a terrorist plot, outraged Americans would demand action.

If the erosion of US civil liberties were due to an Osama bin Laden plot, something would be done about it.

As it is, no real American problem can be faced, because the neoconservatives and the interest groups that they serve have Americans bamboozled about the “terrorist threat” from people in distant lands, who had rather fight one another, and who have no way of reaching Americans except through the troops that we place on their territory or as displaced persons on US immigrant visas.

While the Empire seeks hegemony over distant lands, it is losing its hegemony within its own borders. But before we get all worked up over it, does anyone think the Mexicans would produce worse political leadership than what we have now?
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Why Are Neocons Attacking Turkey?

Dandelion Salad

by Avni Dogru
Global Research, July 31, 2008
Foreign Policy In Focus – 2008-07-24

Some neoconservatives in Washington are obsessed with attacking Iran before President Bush leaves office at the end of this year. Hence, they have been pushing the Bush administration for increased economic and political isolation of Iran in order to weaken its current regime. Crucial to this plan is the support of Turkey, a traditional U.S. ally and an increasingly critical player in the region.

But to the enormous frustration of the neoconservatives, such an attack does not align with Turkey’s interests given its newly enhanced regional ties, maturing democracy, and new foreign policy. Instead, Turkey plays the negotiator role and favors diplomacy and direct talks to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.

With neoconservatives pressing for an attack on Iran and Turkey maneuvering to play a mediating role, which way will U.S. policy swing?



Inside Story: Turkey’s political medley


Inside Story: Turkey’s political medley

Dandelion Salad


The EU has expressed relief at the decision by Turkey’s Constitutional Court’s not to ban the ruling AK Party. Turkey has a history of making life difficult for those who seem to mix their religion and their politics. On Wednesday, the country’s top court narrowly decided against disbanding the ruling party over accusations that it was planning to impose Islamic rule. But the court did cut off millions of dollars in state aid to the party. The decision averted political turmoil but exposed the vulnerabilities of western style democracy in Turkey.

Robert Lang: Idea + square = origami

Dandelion Salad

I better not watch this twice or I’ll be writing that Origami book I always wanted to write (and not posting the news).  I used to teach Origami and have read well over 35 books on it including ones by Robert Lang.  Fascinating video here, hope you enjoy as much as I did.  ~ Lo

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Bill Moyers Journal: Capitol Crimes

Dandelion Salad

Bill Moyers Journal

Aug 1, 2008

Capitol Crimes

With former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is already serving five and a half years, expected to be sentenced on other charges next month, Bill Moyers takes viewers back to the scene of the crime in this update of “Capitol Crimes.” The program examines the web of relationships, secret deals and political manipulation that exposes the use and abuse of power in American politics.

Video link and transcript

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4





Jack Abramoff

Homeland Security: We can seize laptops for an indefinite period

Dandelion Salad

by Declan McCullagh
Aug 1, 2008

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has concocted a remarkable new policy: It reserves the right to seize for an indefinite period of time laptops taken across the border.

A pair of DHS policies from last month say that customs agents can routinely–as a matter of course–seize, make copies of, and “analyze the information transported by any individual attempting to enter, re-enter, depart, pass through, or reside in the United States.” (See policy No. 1 and No. 2.)


Here’s a guide to customs-proofing your laptop that we published in March.


h/t: CLG

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Countdown: Anthrax Attacks Inside Job? + The Long Road + Wal-Mart

Dandelion Salad

Aug 1, 2008


Anthrax Attacks Inside Job?

Keith talks to David Willman of the LA Times about the recent news on the anthrax investigation.

Anthrax, The Long Road

Keith talks to Gerald Posner about the anthrax case and whether we’ll ever get an answer about what happened.

Wal-Mart, The Republican Brand

Keith reports on the intimidation of employees that was going on at Wal-Mart and their opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. Chris Hayes from the Nation talks to Keith about why the company’s actions prove exactly why the Employee Free Choice Act is needed since it keeps employers from being allowed to intimidate employees and force them to watch anti-union propaganda if they want to join a union and how the DOL has turned into an establishment bent on busting unions rather than protecting workers.


Apparent suicide in anthrax case h/t: CLG

Anthrax scientist Bruce Ivins stood to benefit from a panic h/t: CLG