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John Kerry, and fellow swift boat commander William Rood in Vietnam during the war
A LESS THAN BRIGHT, NOT EXACTLY SHINING LIE
Campaign attack ads by President Bush's supporters in the self-styled political action group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, began to fall apart over the weekend when William Rood, a fellow Swift Boat commander, broke his silence and testified that he had seen Kerry in action when he won his silver star. Rood's 1700-word piece in the Chicago Tribune, makes for riveting reading.
(for Rood's account, click here--requires free registration)
•Larry Thurlow, who has insisted that the action which earned Kerry a Bronze star had occurred without enemy fire, also watched his story fall apart when navy documents showed that Thurlow's own bronze star, awarded for the same incident, stated that there had, in fact, been heavy enemy fire. (click here...)
•Richard Nixon tried to use John O'Neill, currently a driving force behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, to undercut the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The White House tapes reveal that Nixon considered Kerry to be an impressive political force which he was determined to destroy. (click here...)
•Kerry's testimony to the Senate concerning Vietnam in 1971 (C-span)
•Kerry's testimony in pdf format
•Kerry's debate with John O'Neill on the Dick Cavette Show in 1971
MUSLIM RELIGIOUS LEADERS WARN OF FALLOUT FROM IRAQ FIGHTING
Ali Gumaa warns that if the U.S.-led attack against the shrine of Ali in Najaf continues, the U.S. can expect to see the explosion of a "volcano of anger." Gumaa, the Mufti of Egypt, is the second highest ranking religious voice in the most populous country in the Middle East. (Al Jazeera, August 21, 2004)
ANTHONY CORDESMAN RECOMMENDS A REALIST APPROACH FOR DEALING WITH IRAQ
In a 34-page study, Cordesman points out that the U.S. has inherited the results of decades of mismanagement by Saddam Hussein, but has added to the problem with its own management mistakes, which included an absence of prior planning combined with a tendency to hire personnel on short-term contracts largely because of their ideological bias. Combine that with inaccurate and frequently false reporting by contract agencies in Iraq, and you have a recipe for disaster. Cordesman recommends focusing on short-term aid and accepting real world challenges and living with them. (Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 6, 2004)
IRAN PROFITS FROM IRAQ'S TURMOIL
Beirut's Daily Star notes that Iran may want peace in Iraq for security reasons, but at least at the moment, with Iraq's oil production slowed to a trickle, Iran is making a tidy profit.
(Beirut Daily Star, August 21, 2004)
SAUDI ARABIA CHOOSES EUROPE, RUSSIA AND CHINA TO DEVELOP ITS NATURAL GAS, LEAVING THE U.S. OUT IN THE COLD...
With relations are still strong between Washington and Riyadh, but careless remarks from the Pentagon and right-wing think tanks--not to mention hints at "regime change"--may be encouraging diversification of allies. ( Gawdat Bahgat, Middle East Economic Survey, August 23, 2004)
MORE U.S. TROOPS FOR CENTRAL ASIA?
Donald Rumsfeld visited the Baku, shortly before announcing that 70,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Europe. Baku's newspapers are now filled with gossip about new U.S. bases and American G.I.s flooding into Azerbaijan--a critical transit point for future oil pipelines. The government in Baku remains evasive. "You don't build bases over night." (with links to relevant background material) (Eurasianet.org, August 23, 2004)
SHIITE REBELLION IN YEMEN FUELS RUMORS OF ANTI-U.S. FRONT
The Shiite uprising in the mountains of northwestern Yemen is feeding rumors that Iran may be opening a new front in order to pressure Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Salih into curbing his pro-American politics. In actual fact, Yemen's radical Sunnis may turn out to be more of a problem. Salih has been using his American connection to roll back democratic reforms and that is increasing internal unrest. (Dr. Andrew MacGregor, The Jamestown Foundation, August 24, 2004)
RELIGIOUS-BACKED TERRORISM IS TWICE AS MURDEROUS AS THE 1980S
By 1993, Shia Islamic terrorist groups were accounting for only 8% of the world's terrorist incidents, but those incidents produced 30% of the world's casualties. Most religious terrorist groups mix their fanatacism with secular political goals. This is enhanced when religion and national identity are combined. The Center for Defense Information analyzes the phenomenon. (CDI, August 2004)
ROBERT KENNEDY ASKS WHY THE MEDIA SEEMS TO COLLUDE IN IGNORING VITAL ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES...
In his new book, Crimes Against Nature, Kennedy notes: "
Ocean fisheries have dropped to 10 percent of their 1950s levels, the earth is warming, the ice caps and glaciers are melting, and sea levels are rising. Asthma rates in this country are doubling every five years.... Nearly 3 billion people lack sufficient fresh water for basic needs, and over 1 billion are threatened with starvation from desertification... Why is the media barely covering such a vital public policy issue? ... in 1988, Ronald Reagan abolished the Fairness Doctrine as a favor to the big studio heads that had supported his election. The occasion was a case involving a Syracuse, N.Y., television station that had broadcast nine paid editorials advocating the construction of a nuclear power plant. When the station refused to air opposing viewpoints, an anti-nuke group complained. The three Reagan appointees who ran the FCC sided with the TV station...." (Robert Kennedy in Salon, August 24, 2004)
MISREADING THE MIDDLE EAST
Barry Rubin, director of Israel's Global Reasearch in International Affairs Center notes that up to now wishful thinking has clouded much of the analysis of the Middle East. (Barry Rubin, GLORIA,August 17, 2004) .
DYING IN DARFUR
Politics, inertia and oil have kept the international community from putting an end to the latest genocide. (Samantha Power in the New Yorker, August 23, 2004)
•The International Crisis Group reports that Khartoum is underreporting refugees and creating the worst bottlenecks hindering supplies
THE EASTERN CONGO RISKS A NEW ERUPTION
Armed bands are spreading mayhem once again, and Burundi, Rwanda and the Congolese are renewing old grievances. (The Economist, August 23, 2004)
Sadism at Abu Ghraib resulted from a lack of supervision in a chaotic and confused situation
U.S. MILITARY POLICE ALLEGEDLY ENGAGED IN SADISM AGAINST ADOLESCENTS AT ABU GHRAIB
The Washington Post reports that the upcoming report by General George R. Fay includes an account of U.S. Military Police using attack dogs to terrify 15-year old prisoners as part of a sadistic competition to force the teenagers to urinate on themselves. That behavior had nothing to do with military interrogations, but was apparently done for personal amusement. (Josh White and Thomas Ricks, The Washington Post, August 24, 2004)
CONFUSION AND LACK OF LEADERSHIP AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS ULTIMATELY LED TO SADISM
"... The independent four-member panel headed by former defense secretary James Schlesinger found that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs of Staff failed to exercise proper oversight over confusing detention policies at U.S. prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. " The Washington Post reports
on the independent investigation on where the Pentagon went wrong, (Washington Post, August 24, 2004)
•PUBLISHED TEXT OF THE FAY REPORT ON U.S. INTELLIGENCE AT ABU GHRAIB
•Washington Post analysis
•PUBLISHED TEXT OF THE INDEPENDENT REPORT ON ABU GHRAIB
•Selected excerpts from the BBC
•Human Rights Watch wants a higher level commission to look into administration responsibility
THE LANCET EXPLORES THE TROUBLED LEGACY OF THE U.S. ARMY MEDICAL CORPS AFTER ABU GHRAIB
Stephen Miles, writing in the current issue of the Lancet, notes :"...Pentagon officials offer many reasons for these abuses including poor training, understaffing, overcrowding of detainees and military personnel, anti-Islamic prejudice, racism, pressure to procure intelligence, a few criminally-inclined guards, the stress of war, and uncertain lengths of deployment. Fundamentally however, the stage for these offences was set by policies that were lax or permissive with regard to human rights abuses, and a military command that was inattentive to human rights.
Legal arguments as to whether detainees were prisoners of war, soldiers, enemy combatants, terrorists, citizens of a failed state, insurgents, or criminals miss an essential point. The US has signed or enacted numerous instruments including the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and US military internment and inter-rogation policies, collectively containing mandatory and voluntary standards barring US armed forces from practicing torture or degrading treatments of all persons...." (The Lancet, August 2004-Requires free registration)
ROBERT JAY LIFTON ON U.S. MEDICAL DOCTORS AND TORTURE IN IRAQ Lifton writes in the New England Journal of Medicine:"There is increasing evidence that U.S. doctors, nurses, and medics have been complicit in torture and other illegal procedures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. .... To be a military physician is to be subject to potential moral conflict between commitment to the healing of individual people, on the one hand, and responsibility to the military hierarchy and the command structure, on the other...American doctors at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere have undoubtedly been aware of their medical responsibility to document injuries and raise questions about their possible source in abuse. But those doctors and other medical personnel were part of a command structure that permitted, encouraged, and sometimes orchestrated torture to a degree that it became the norm — with which they were expected to comply — in the immediate prison environment. The doctors thus brought a medical component to what I call an "atrocity-producing situation" — one so structured, psychologically and militarily, that ordinary people can readily engage in atrocities. Even without directly participating in the abuse, doctors may have become socialized to an environment of torture and by virtue of their medical authority helped sustain it. In studying various forms of medical abuse, I have found that the participation of doctors can confer an aura of legitimacy and can even create an illusion of therapy and healing...."(Robert Jay Lifton, in the New England Journal of Medicine, July 29, 2004)