Wake Up Already. It's 1984! Or Why You Should Be In The Streets This Thursday
Reposts by Joe
18 Jan 2005 20:05 GMT
Wake Up Already. It's 1984! Or Why You Should Be In The Streets This Thursday
The articles below demonstrate why current U.S. policy is the greatest threat to security and freedom in the world.
This madness must end. But how? Will we have a “Venezuela option?” Could loyal and true patriots rise up from the U.S. military? How can our people develop the power and will to turn this disaster around? Might U.S. defeat in Iraq be the beginning of our salvation. The left and all who care about peace, justice and liberty must concern themselves with these questions now. Joe
By Dante Zappala
Dante Zappala is a part-time teacher in Los Angeles.
January 14, 2005
This week, the White House announced, with little fanfare, that the two-year search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq had finally ended, and it acknowledged that no such weapons existed there at the time of the U.S. invasion in 2003.
For many, this may be a story of only passing interest. But for me and my family, it resonates with profound depth.
My brother was Sgt. Sherwood Baker. He was a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard deployed a year ago with his unit out of Wilkes-Barre. He said goodbye to his wife and his 9-year-old son, boarded a bus and went to Ft. Dix, N.J., to be hastily retrained. His seven years of Guard training as a forward observer was practically worthless because he would not face combat. All he needed to do was learn how to not die.
He received a crash course in convoy security, including practice in running over cardboard cutouts of children. We bought him a GPS unit and walkie-talkies because he wasn't supplied with them. In Iraq, Sherwood was assigned to the Iraq Survey Group and joined the search for weapons of mass destruction.
David Kay, who led the group until January 2004, had already stated that they did not exist. Former United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix had expressed serious doubts about their presence during prewar inspections. In fact, a cadre of former U.N. inspectors and U.S. generals had been saying for years that Iraq posed no threat to our country. On April 26, 2004, the Iraq Survey Group, at the behest of the stubborn administration sitting safely in office buildings in Washington, was still on its fruitless but dangerous search. My brother stood atop his Humvee, securing the perimeter in front of a suspect building in Baghdad. But as soldiers entered the building, it exploded; the official cause is still not known. Sherwood was struck by debris in the back of his head and neck, and he was killed.
Since that day, my family and I have lived with the grief of losing a loved one. We have struggled to explain his death to his son. We have gazed at the shards of life scattered at our feet, in wonder of its fragility, in perpetual catharsis with God.
I have moved from frustration to disappointment to anger. And now I have arrived at a place not of understanding but of hope — blind hope that this will change.
The Iraq Survey Group's final report, which was filed in October but revealed only on Wednesday, confirmed what we knew all along. And as my mother cried in the kitchen, the nation barely blinked.
I am left now with a single word seared into my consciousness: accountability. The chance to hold our administration's feet to that flame has passed. But what of our citizenry? We are the ones who truly failed. We shut down our ability to think critically, to listen, to converse and to act. We are to blame.
Even with every prewar assumption having been proved false, today more than 130,000 U.S. soldiers are trying to stay alive in a foreign desert with no clear mission at hand.
At home, the sidelines are overcrowded with patriots. These Americans cower from the fight they instigated in Iraq. In a time of war and record budget deficits, many are loath to even pay their taxes. In the end, however, it is not their family members who are at risk, and they do not sit up at night pleading with fate to spare them.
Change is vital. We must remind ourselves that the war with Iraq was not a mistake but rather a flagrant abuse of power by our leaders — and a case of shameful negligence by the rest of us for letting it happen. The consequence is more than a quagmire. The consequence is the death of our national treasure — our soldiers.
We are all accountable. We all share the responsibility of what has been destroyed in our name. Let us begin to right the wrongs we have done to our country by accepting that responsibility.
Decorated US Marine brings "Fallujah" back to his hometown
By: Ernesto Cienfuegos - La Voz de Aztlan on: 18.01.2005 [04:26 ] (517 reads)
Mexican-American marine who did not want to return to Iraq, kills cop and is killed in shootout
Los Angeles, Alta California, January 11, 2005 - (ACN) A US Marine of Mexican descent home for the holidays from Fallujah, Iraq decided to wage battle yesterday against his own hometown police department of Ceres, California rather than return to Iraq to kill innocent Iraqi civilians. Nineteen year old Andres Raya, a decorated for bravery US Marine out of Camp Pendleton, decided to utilize his superb marine training to take on the entire Ceres Police Department, Sheriff's and the California Highway Patrol in a stunning gun battle that was caught on video tape. In the end, one Ceres cop was killed, another critically injured and US Marine Raya himself laid dead in an alley with over 18 shots in his body.
Andres Raya was only two years out of Ceres High School and the shootout has stunned not only his family but the entire usually peaceful small town of Ceres which is just a few miles east of San Jose and directly south of Modesto. The marine's mother, Julia Cortez Raya said yesterday in Spanish that her son had served in the assault on Fallujah. Mrs. Cortez Raya said, "He came back different."
One can only speculate what horrors Andres Raya experienced in Fallujah. The slaughter by US occupation forces of Iraqi civilians in Fallujah has been compared to the slaughter in Guernica by Nazi forces in 1937. Many US Marines with a conscious have found it very difficult to reconcile the Iraqi civilian murders in their minds and have committed suicide. US Marine Andres Raya decided to take some cops with him. Most probably he was harassed by them while growing up Mexican in this small northern California town.
Andres Raya had return to the United States in September from Iraq to spend the holidays with his family. Raya told his family and friends that he was having awful nightmares and could not sleep. He expressed feelings that he did not want to go back to murder in Iraq. He, however, rejoined his unit at Camp Pendleton on January 2. Something happened between January 2 and Sunday January 9, the last day he was seen at Camp Pendleton. Yesterday, he showed up in Ceres with an SKS assault rifle. He had the shootout all planned out. He knew what he was going to do. He would stage a situation where the cops will respond and he will ambush them with the military precision he learned so well in the US Marine Corps. A security video camera caught most of the action. We have provided a link to the video below so the reader can see for themselves.
The battle raged for about 3 hours, from around 8:00 PM to 11.08 PM. It brought in hundreds of police units from the Ceres, Modesto, Turlock and Newman police departments, as well as the Stanislaus and Merced Sheriff's Departments and from the California Highway Patrol. US Marine Andres Raya, the decorated fighter that he was, had to be shot 18 times before he went down. Andres Raya kept charging police positions set up in an alley, and even though mortally wounded, kept on charging until he dropped dead a few feet form a well entrenched police SWAT Team.
Yes, it appears that the US Marine of Mexican descent decided that his real enemies were not innocent Iraqi civilians on the other side of the world but that they were here in his own hometown, in Ceres, a redneck town notorious for its mistreatment of his people. This is what happened during the Vietnam War and is now happening in this heinous, racist and demonic US War against Iraq.
US Marine Andres Raya was with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Pendleton. He had been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
AVI video clip of first part of the shootout
Iraqis Despair at Struggle of Their Daily Lives
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Price spikes have turned onions into a luxury. There is barely any electricity, and the Iraqi telephone networks are so bad that a call-in show with the prime minister had to be canceled.
"There we were, happy to have Iyad Allawi on air after months of working on an interview," Radio Dijla chief executive Ahmad al-Rikaby told Reuters.
"We called it off because both landlines and cell-phones simply did not work."
An aura of resignation has settled over Iraqis as services deteriorate despite promises of improvement. Not even U.S.-backed government officials expect an upturn any time soon.
Hopes have been dashed that the Iraqna cell-phone system, a subsidiary of Egypt's Orascom that is responsible for the cellphone network in Baghdad and central Iraq (news - web sites), could compensate for a landline network yet to recover from the 2003 bombardment.
Disenchantment has turned into outright hostility.
"Every day we receive complaints and sad stories from doctors, the sick or injured who could not communicate in emergencies and bought phones that don't work," an editorial in the respected al-Mada newspaper said.
"We hear nothing except complaints and curses."
Iraqna officials declined to comment. Iraqi telecom officials say the company is finding it difficult to keep the cell-phone network running in Iraq's hostile security environment.
Faced with constant violence and with everyday life turning into a struggle, many Iraqis who can afford to leave have done so, to countries such as Jordan and Lebanon. People with less money have fled to Syria, which is less picky about the financial position of Iraqis it lets in.
Villa after villa in the affluent neighborhoods of Mansour and Arasat are empty, their windows shuttered, their once pretty gardens overgrown with weeds.
Those who remain have to deal with a lack of fuel and electricity and rising prices that make most things beyond the reach of ordinary people.
Prices have been driven up by power and electricity crises, and insurgents and criminals controlling key sections of the transport network, especially around Baghdad.
Sabotage attacks and violence have crippled refineries and badly disrupted imported fuel flows. Costs of trucking from Jordan have risen at least four times.
Mismanagement has also played a part in the crisis, and daily newspapers are full of stories alleging that Iraqi security forces charged with protecting fuel tankers and petrol stations are profiteering on the black market.
"We do not have a fuel crisis as much as we have a crisis of honesty," said Oil Minister Thamir al-Ghadhban, who has experience in keeping the oil industry going through a quarter of a century of wars and a crushing embargo that drove the economy into collapse.
But even Ghadhban has not seen anything like this crisis.
Gasoline costs 50 cents a liter from hawkers compared with theless than one cent subsided price at state-owned pumps
Gasoline costs 50 cents a liter from hawkers compared with theless than one cent subsided price at state-owned pumps.
A cylinder of liquefied gas for cooking now costs 5,000-10,0000 dinars ($3.50-7) compared with 2,000 dinars two or three months ago and 500 dinars during Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s rule.
The price of tomatoes is up three to four times, the price of onions is two or three times as high, and rations distributed by the government have been short on rice and sugar.
These prices are high in a country where a teacher with five-years' experience makes 250,000 dinars a month after huge postwar salary increases that also helped raise inflation.
"We have simply stopped buying food beyond rations. Our homes are freezing because kerosene is expensive and often not even available," said Raqia, a poor housewife.
"Before we used to curse Saddam Hussein when the electricity went out for a couple of hours a day or so. Now we are lucky if we get that much."
A global gulag to hide the war on terror's dirty secrets
Bush is now thinking of building jails abroad to hold suspects for life
Friday January 14, 2005
Since its establishment after 9/11, the US camp for foreigners at Guantánamo Bay has become a beacon of unfreedom, a kind of grisly competitor to the Statue of Liberty in the shopfront of authentic American images. The trickle of releases of prisoners from its cages has brought direct testimony of the horrors which go on there. So it is no wonder that the Bush administration would like to find less visible places to hold prisoners, and keep them there for ever so that they cannot tell the world.
The Guantánamo prisoners are held by the department of defence, but under the new scheme most foreign detainees are expected to be in the hands of the CIA, which submits to less congressional scrutiny and offers the Red Cross no access. They include hundreds of people who have been arrested in recent weeks in Falluja and other Iraqi cities.
According to the Washington Post, which broke the story last week, one proposal is to have the US build new prisons in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Officials of those countries would run the prisons, and would have to allow the state department to "monitor human rights compliance".
It is a laughable proposition, since the whole purpose of the exercise is to minimise scrutiny. CIA agents would have the right to question the detainees, with or without the aid of foreign interrogators, as they already do at other off-limits prisons at Bagram air base in Afghanistan, on ships at sea, in Jordan and Egypt, and at Diego Garcia.
The US policy of lending detainees to other countries' jailers and torturers, known as "rendition", began during the "war on drugs" as a way of arresting alleged Latin American narco-barons and softening them up for trial in the US. It has expanded enormously under the "war on terror". As one CIA officer told the Washington Post, "the whole idea has become a corruption of renditions. It's not rendering to justice. It's kidnapping."
He could have added that it's kidnapping for life. A senior US official told the New York Times last week that three-quarters of the 550 prisoners at Guantánamo Bay no longer have any intelligence of value. But they will not be released out of concern that they pose a continuing threat to the US. "You're basically keeping them off the battlefield, and, unfortunately in the war on terrorism, the battlefield is everywhere," he said.
Since the attack on Falluja, the US holds 325 non-Iraqis in custody, many of them Syrians and Saudis. Questioned by the Senate's judiciary committee, Gonzales said that the justice depart ment believes that non-Iraqis captured in Iraq are not protected by the Geneva conventions, which prevent prisoners being transferred out of the country in which they are held.
It was revealed last year that Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, had approved the secret holding of "ghost detainees" in Iraq. They were kept off the registers that were shown to the Red Cross and therefore lost the chance of being visited or having other rights. Now many new prisoners will be candidates for a deeper category of invisibility by being sent for detention in secret locations abroad.
While making bland statements during his Senate appearance that he found torture abhorrent, Gonzales gave no clear assurances that its practice would stop. As White House counsel he approved an administration memorandum against torture in August 2002 which was so narrow that it appeared to define it only as treatment that led to "dying under torment". In other words, if a victim survived, he could not have been tortured.
The memo also claimed that torture only occurs when the intent is to cause pain. If pain is intentionally used to gain information or a confession, that is not torture. Thanks to this narrow definition of what is forbidden, US officials have been systematically using inhumane treatment on prisoners - far beyond the few so-called bad apples exposed by the photographs from Abu Ghraib - while saying it did not amount to torture.
A few days before Gonzales's Senate hearings, the justice department hastily rewrote the memo so that a wider category of techniques are defined as torture, and thereby prohibited. But at the hearings Gonzales refused to give a clear negative answer to the question whether, in his view, American troops or interrogators could legally engage in torture under any circumstances.
One of the glories of the hearings was the appearance of Douglas Johnson, director of the Centre for Victims of Torture. He argued that the new memo fails to give clear guidance on what the appropriate standards for interrogation and detention are. He also pointed out that torture does not yield reliable information and corrupts its perpetrators.
Psychological torture was more damaging than physical torture, he said. Interviews with victims show that depression and recurrent nightmares decades later more often relate to memories of mock executions (of the "water-boarding" type) and scenarios of humiliation than to actual physical abuse.
That these points might have impressed the man Bush wants to have as America's top law officer is not to be expected. Nor does anyone in Washington expect the Senate to refuse to confirm him for the job. Happy New War on Terror 2005.
Wake up already! It’s 1984. Joe