[sixties-l] Antiwar News...(# 21) (fwd)

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Date: Wed Oct 31 2001 - 15:38:36 EST

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    Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2001 23:09:41 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Antiwar News...(# 21)

    [multiple items]
    (Anti-war links/resources at the end.)

    Taliban says 100 dead as hospital hit


    Taliban accuse US of chemical attacks

    Staff and agencies
    Monday October 22, 2001

    The Taliban today accused the US of killing 1,000 Afghan civilians since
    the start of aerial bombing raids two weeks ago, adding that up to 100
    people were killed today in a hospital as a result of a US bombing raid
    near the western city of Herat.
    The Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, told a news
    conference that patients, doctors and nurses had been killed after the
    100-bed hospital was bombed by American and British planes.
    The Pentagon told the Reuters news agency that it could not confirm or deny
    the reports.
    Mr Zaeef claimed the Taliban had shot down two US helicopters over the
    weekend - one of which landed crippled in neighboring Pakistan, while the
    other crashed in Afghanistan. The Taliban today showed off wreckage,
    apparently of a downed helicopter.
    The Pentagon has denied any of its helicopters were shot down, though it
    said a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in an accident Saturday in Pakistan,
    killing two US servicemen on board.
    In a statement that echoed the current anthrax fears in the US, the Taliban
    today also accused the US military of deploying chemical and biological
    weapons in Afghanistan.
    An official from the Taliban information ministry, Abdul Hanan Himat, told
    Reuters: "Today in my contact with doctors in Herat and Kandahar, they told
    me that they have found signs that Americans are using biological and
    chemical weapons in their attacks. The effects are transparent on the
    wounded. A state of poisonousness is one of them."
    The Pentagon immediately said that it was "absolutely not true" that the US
    had used biological weapons.
    Today the defence minister, Geoff Hoon, said that British troops were on
    standby to go into Afghanistan "at very short notice" as part of an
    American ground force deployment. The US confirmed for the first time this
    weekend that ground troops had entered Afghanistan on
    intelligence-gathering missions.
    Last night, the US continued to rely on its warplanes, which struck at
    targets near the opposition-held frontlines outside the capital, Kabul, and
    the northern, Taliban-held city of Mazar-i-sharif. The bombing at the front
    lines suggested the start of a more aggressive American campaign on behalf
    of the opposition Northern Alliance.
    In Kabul, the Taliban's official Bakhtar news agency reported heavy bombing
    today at front lines 30 miles north of the capital. Heavy bombardment last
    night marked the most sustained US strikes to date against Taliban
    positions defending Kabul from the Northern Alliance forces, which have
    been stalled for years to the north of the city.
    "We are hoping this will be a big help for the future of our forces," said
    Waisuddin Salik, an opposition spokesman.
    US attacks around Mazar-i-sharif damaged tanks and artillery sites and
    destroyed an ammunition depot, an opposition commander said.
    In Washington, the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, said the US was
    "very interested" in seeing rebel forces take Mazar-i-sharif, but was still
    "continuing discussion" about whether a rebel march into Kabul would be
    "the best thing".
    Pakistan is firmly opposed to the Northern Alliance taking power in a
    possible post-Taliban Afghanistan, and opposition groups face widespread
    doubts about their ability to govern.
    In addition to the hospital in Herat, the Taliban said attacks last night
    on Tarin Kot, the capital of Uruzgan province, killed 18 civilians and
    wounded a further 25 to 35. The province is believed to be one of the
    strongholds of Osama bin Laden.
    Yesterday a US air raid shattered two homes in the city's northern Khair
    Khana district - killing at least 13 civilians, including three women and
    four boys ages 8 to 13. The neighbourhood holds no known Taliban military
    sites, although a Taliban army garrison and other installations are several
    miles away.


    Taliban: US Jets Hit Hospital, Kill 100

    AP; Reuters. 22 October 2001

    Taliban Leader Says He Looks to God for Victory.

      ISLAMABAD -- The Taliban claimed Monday that U.S. and British planes
      struck a hospital in the western Afghan city of Herat, killing more than
      100 people.

      The claim was made by the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam
      Zaeef, who said the dead included patients and hospital staff. He gave
      no further details.

      Zaeef repeated Taliban claims -- denied by the Pentagon -- that Afghan
      fighters had shot down an American military helicopter in southwestern

      "It is now clear that America plans are intentionally targeting the
      Afghan people," he said. "The goal is to punish the Afghan nation for
      having chosen an Islamic system."

      Meanwhile, the spiritual leader of the ruling Taliban, Mullah Mohammad
      Omar, said Monday that with God's help, the U.S.-led military campaign
      in Afghanistan would be defeated, the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic
      Press reported.

      Mullah Omar issued the statement from an unknown location near Kandahar,
      expressing his condolences for those killed in U.S.-led air raids or
      during anti-American protests around the world, AIP said.

      "I hope that Almighty Allah will make the Islamic Emirate (Taliban
      government) victorious over the oppressive American government," AIP
      quoted Mullah Omar as saying in a statement.

      Mullah Omar and the Taliban have been the targets of U.S. military
      strikes as punishment for not handing over Osama bin Laden, accused of
      being the mastermind behind the attacks on New York and Washington last

      Mullah Omar also praised Taliban forces who he said had "achieved
      significant successes recently" without giving any details.

      Mullah Omar also lashed out at President Bush, saying his war on
      terrorism was a war on Islam and Muslims.

    "President Bush has told the truth that this is a crusade against
      Islam," said Mullah Omar, the reclusive leader who lost an eye fighting
      Soviet troops during the 1980s.

      "Therefore, Muslims all over the world should continue their movements
      for their defense," Omar said.

      "Jihad (holy war) fought with sword, tongue and pen is all jihad. Death
      is death and it must come one day," he said.


    Local Afghans Condemn Attacks


    St. Petersburg Times (Russia)
    October 19, 2001
    By Irina Titova

    "This war will ruin both the Afghan nation and an
    ancient civilization along with its culture."

    Thirty-six-year-old Aref used to work at the Afghan
    Ministry of Rehabilitation and Rural Development as
    the chief engineer in the construction department. Now
    he spends his days selling purses and wallets at the
    Zvyozdny market.

    "I've been standing like this for nine years now," he
    said, pointing at his goods with indifference
    bordering on disgust. "I'm not an engineer anymore."

    According to Sergei Tarasevich, head of the St.
    Petersburg Migration Service, there may be as many as
    20,000 Afghan nationals living in and around St.
    Petersburg. Naib Safi, head of the Afghan Citizens'
    Union of St. Petersburg puts the figure at "at least

    According to Tarasevich, however, only about 600 hold
    official documents confirming their refugee status.
    For the rest, this lack of status means an inability
    to get local registration and, with it, access to
    health care, public schools and official employment.

    Aref, who asked that his last name not be published in
    order to protect relatives still in Afghanistan, rents
    a one-room apartment on the outskirts of the city with
    his wife and his baby daughter. Life is particularly
    hard for his wife, who doesn't speak Russian.

    "She is afraid to step away from our building," Aref
    said. "She and our daughter go for walks not more than
    10 meters away from our house."

    Safi, who is a lawyer by profession, also sells
    clothing at the market.

    "What else can I do when my 8-month-old daughter is
    rejected at the local clinic? I have to pay for it,
    for my wife's doctor, for transportation, rent and so
    on," he said, holding a copy of his law-school
    dissertation from the St. Petersburg Police Academy.

    According to Safi, most of the Afghans currently
    living in St. Petersburg came here to study during the
    1980s, when the Afghan government maintained close
    relations with the Soviet Union. After that government
    was defeated by the mujahedin in 1992, it became
    impossible for anyone tied to the former government to

    At the same time, a torrent of refugees who had
    supported or thrived under the Soviet-aligned regime
    abandoned the country, fearing for their lives. This
    group included the bulk of Afghanistan's doctors,
    teachers, engineers and trained military officers.

    When the current conflict erupted, local Afghans were
    unanimous in condemning the attacks on their homeland.

    "We all have relatives and friends back home. Now we
    know nothing about them since there is no connection
    with the country," Safi said.

    On Oct. 8, the local Afghan Council of Elders issued a
    statement on the U.S.-led air strikes against
    Afghanistan, saying, "the Afghan diaspora in St.
    Petersburg condemns the bombing of Afghanistan."

    "This war will ruin both the Afghan nation and an
    ancient civilization along with its culture," Safi

    Safi said that local Afghans do condemn the Sept. 11
    terrorist attacks in the United States and welcome the
    international campaign against terrorism, but they do
    not agree that bombing Afghanistan is an acceptable or
    appropriate response.

    "The world must understand the militant Taliban
    militia consists of just 30,000 people, whereas the
    rest [of the country's estimated 26 million people]
    are civilians," Safi said. "Bombings and other
    military actions seriously hit the civilian
    population, which will die not just from bombs but
    from hunger and disease."

    Now, however, as the campaign against their country
    continues, a new sense of helplessness has gripped the
    community. Local Afghans spend all their time
    listening to the news, trying to find out what is
    happening in the country they still call home.

    Sher Gulakhmet, a representative of the Afghan Culture
    Center, worries about his parents who live in Kabul.

    "They called me on the eve of the war and said that
    they hadn't left the capital. Now I can't reach them
    anymore," he said.


    Anti-war protests in Australian cities


    By James Conachy
    20 October 2001

    Anti-war protests took place in a number of Australian cities last weekend
    reflecting concerns among wider layers of the population about the
    implications of the US bombardment of Afghanistan and Australian support
    for it. The largest protest took place in Sydney on October 13, when around
    3,000 people marched from the Town Hall through the centre of the city to
    Martin Place, where speakers addressed the crowd.
    The rally drew a broad cross-section of people, including professionals and
    workers with their children
    along with university and high school students and a layer of older people
    who had campaigned against the Vietnam War. A diverse range of
    organisations were involved, radical protest groups, green and
    environmental associations, student groups, churches and pacifist
    Members of the city's Afghani community distributed flowers in a call for
    peace and carried banners condemning both the September 11 terror attack on
    the US and the Bush administration's response. An Afghan Australian
    detailed to the rally the horrific consequences the bombing would have on
    the country after more than 20 years of war and under conditions of severe
    food shortages.
    Young people carried placards denouncing the bombing of the Afghani people
    as answering terrorism with more terrorism. Others had hand-made signs
    reading "No War, Global Equity" and "Unite for Peace". Banners called for
    the lifting of sanctions against Iraq and opposing any commitment of
    Australian military personnel to the war. While speakers condemned the war,
    their perspective was limited to calling for bigger protests to pressure
    the Howard government.
    In Melbourne, over 1,000 people assembled at the Arts Centre and marched on
    the US Consulate. An estimated 1,500 protested in Adelaide and 500 in
    Perth. On October 14, women's groups organised a rally of 500 in Melbourne,
    demonstrating against the persecution of Muslim women in the weeks since
    the terror attack.
    The protests last weekend followed several on October 9, when hundreds of
    people assembled in Sydney, Melbourne and other cities immediately after
    the commencement of US strikes.
    Earlier, on October 6, more than 2,500 people marched in
    Brisbane. Originally planned as an anti-globalisation rally at the British
    Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the Brisbane protest was
    transformed in a demonstration against the looming attack on Afghanistan.
    CHOGM was postponed after a number of government leaders, including the
    British and Indian prime ministers, announced it was unlikely they would
    In line with a virtual blackout in the Australian media of any dissenting
    views, there has been very little coverage of any of the anti-war
    protests. Last weekend's Sydney rally, for instance, was briefly reported
    by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, but not in either of Sydney's
    two daily newspapers.
    A common theme in the rallies has been opposition to the racist attacks
    taking place against Australia's Arabic and Muslim communities.
    In Melbourne, the Equal Opportunity Commission has recorded 50 physical
    assaults on Muslims and Arabs. The Islamic Council of Victoria has reported
    two cases of rape and the stabbing of a Middle Eastern boy while at school.
    Sheik Fouad Nachar from a Melbourne mosque told news.com.au: "We live in
    fear here. People try to assault us in markets, streets and in shopping
    Islamic communities are maintaining 24-hour guard on their mosques, schools
    and facilities due to a wave of arson and vandal attacks. On September 22,
    a temporary mosque in the Brisbane suburb of Kurbay was firebombed and
    burnt to the ground. Another Brisbane mosque, in the suburb of Holland, has
    also been bombed. On October 11, arsonists attempted to burn down a mosque
    in Adelaide, causing $20,000 damage. In Sydney, threats have been made
    against the large Lakemba mosque and an arson attempt was made on the
    Auburn mosque.
    Tensions are particularly acute in the Sydney suburb of Bankstown where
    there have been four vandal attacks on mosques in the area as well as the
    firebombing of six churches. Fear of further racist violence has led to the
    cancellation of the Bankstown "Arabic Carnival", a four-week festival
    celebrating Middle Eastern culture. Executive director of the Australian
    Arabic Communities Council, Randa Katten, condemned the "general tense
    atmosphere of anti-Arab sentiments that permeate our lives".
    Prior to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the Howard
    government had already been fuelling racist sentiment through its
    vilification of refugees and its extraordinary measures to prevent those
    aboard the Norwegian freighter Tampa from landing in Australia. In the wake
    of September 11, government ministers further stoked up anti-immigrant
    prejudice by claiming that refugees, particularly from Afghanistan and the
    Middle East, could be terrorists.


    Academics critical of war face harassment in US


    By Shannon Jones
    22 October 2001

    Free speech is under attack on university campuses across the United
    States, with those critical of US policies facing mounting harassment and
    In many cases university officials are caving in to pressure to discipline
    or censure faculty and staff that engage in protests against US militarism
    or express opposition to the patriotic hysteria whipped up by the media and
    government officials since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Professors
    have faced threats and calls for dismissal for expressing even mildly
    oppositional views or engaging in "inappropriate speech." In the majority
    of cases those victimized have been left-wing critics of US foreign policy.
    City College of New York faculty and students who attended an October 2
    teach-in sponsored by the Professional Staff Congress were denounced by the
    media and the City University of New York (CUNY) Board of Trustees. The
    event, "Threats of War, Challenges of Peace," sponsored by the campus
    professors union, was open to all points of view, including support for US
    military intervention in Afghanistan. During the course of the teach-in a
    number of participants attempted to explain the historical context
    underlying the resort to terrorism by Islamic fundamentalists.
    An October 4 op-ed piece in the New York Post, titled, "CUNY vows crackdown
    on Anti-US hatefest," called the event "a hard core America-bashing
    festival." It quoted CUNY trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld who declared, "They're
    fortunate it's not up to me. I would consider that behavior seditious at
    this time."
    CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein denounced the teach-in and announced his
    intention to convene a special meeting of the board of trustees to consider
    resolutions condemning the event.
    At Brooklyn College, the school administration blocked a scheduled public
    meeting on campus opposing the war in Afghanistan organized by the Third
    World Within-Peace Action Coalition. Campus officials imposed additional
    fees and demanded identification checks of all attendees. Further, the
    school issued a warning about holding campus activities that challenged the
    so-called consensus in the US supporting the war against Afghanistan. As a
    consequence organizers were forced to move the event to an off-campus location.
    The University of South Florida placed Professor Sami Al-Arian on
    indefinite leave after he appeared on a TV news program where he discussed
    his previous association with several academics now labeled suspected
    terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Following the TV
    appearance the university received angry phone calls, including death
    threats. The university claimed the suspension was to protect Al-Arian.
    A library assistant at the University of California at Los Angeles received
    a five-day suspension without pay after he sent out an e-mail criticizing
    US support for Israel and the ongoing bombing of Iraq. He was responding to
    a patriotic mass e-mailing by a coworker. In issuing the suspension the
    school cited a policy banning the sending of unsolicited electronic
    communications and a new policy against the sending of political, religious
    or patriotic messages. The suspended staff member, a 22-year employee of
    the university, said he was unaware of the policies and noted that he was
    the only person disciplined in the incident.
    A professor at the University of New Mexico was forced to leave campus for
    one week after he made an off-the-cuff joke in class about the attack on
    the Pentagon the day of the terrorist hijackings. Several state legislators
    called for the academic to be fired. University officials said they were
    conducting an internal investigation of the incident.
    The school's provost defended the administration's actions against the
    professor. "Our position is that faculty members have certain
    responsibilities to their students. It's not a free speech issue, it's a
    professional issue," he claimed.
    The Foundation for Individual Freedom, a Philadelphia-based organization
    that provides legal help to faculty members who feel their rights have been
    abused, said academic freedom of expression has been eroded since September
    11. The group is currently providing assistance to 10 professors who say
    they have been victimized because of their views.
    The fact that the attempt to silence academic free speech enjoys support at
    the highest levels of government was indicated by the reaction to remarks
    made by one New York City school official, Judith Rizzo, deputy chancellor,
    who said the terrorist attacks demonstrated the importance of teaching
    about Muslim culture. She was denounced by Lynne Cheney, wife of US Vice
    President Dick Cheney, who claimed the statement implied the events of
    September 11 were the fault of the United States.
    A number of media reports have noted the attacks on academic free speech
    but have downplayed the incidents, suggesting they are an understandable
    overreaction. They have pointed out that there have also been attempts by
    school officials to censor views deemed excessively chauvinist or racist.
    As history has shown, all suppression of democratic rights, no matter
    against whom it is initially directed, inevitably rebounds hardest against
    the most progressive elements in society. By seeking to crack down on views
    deemed outside the mainstream within the educational establishment, the
    ruling elite and its academic lackeys are seeking to stifle all critical
    thought. Such policies pose a grave threat not just to academics, but to
    the democratic rights of the entire working population.


    Beyond Carnivore: FBI Eyes Packet Taps


    By Max Smetannikov
    October 18, 2001

    Expect the FBI to expand its Internet wiretapping program, says a source
    familiar with the plan.

    Stewart Baker, a partner with law firm Steptoe & Johnson, is a former
    general counsel to the National Security Agency. He says the FBI has spent
    the last two years developing a new surveillance architecture that would
    concentrate Internet traffic in several key locations where all packets,
    not just e-mail, could be wiretapped. It is now planning to begin
    implementing this architecture using the powers it has under existing
    wiretapping laws.
    The FBI has acknowledged a program called Carnivore, which sniffs e-mail
    messages, but the new program is more extensive, Baker says.
    "The FBI has been gradually developing a set of guidelines, standards -
    call it what you will - a list of what law enforcement wants from packet
    data communications systems," Baker said. "And they are in the process of
    unveiling that over the next few months to ISPs and router manufacturers
    and the like."
    ISPs, Web hosters, vendors and other firms handling critical Internet
    infrastructure should expect the FBI trying to schedule meetings to deliver
    the details of their offering, and show the document containing the
    technical specifications, Baker said. He indicated that details of what
    this new surveillance architecture should look like are not clear. It is
    also possible the FBI has retained some well-known data infrastructure
    consulting firms to develop its new technology.
    The new architecture is different from Carnivore because it would likely
    ask for certain types of data communications to be centralized, he said.
    "The goal might be to get companies that use packet data to have those
    packets go to one place for purposes of wiretap and other intercept
    capabilities," Baker said. "It's clear they [the Bureau] have decided that
    in the next year or so they are going to make a big push on packet data and
    they are going to use whatever leverage they can to get people to cooperate
    and to build a set of packet data systems that are more wiretap friendly
    than the ones we have today."
    The FBI spokesman overseeing Carnivore and other wiretapping issues didn't
    immediately return calls seeking comments.
    Whatever the new initiative ends up looking like, the Internet service
    provider community could be more likely to cooperate, shaken up by Sept.
    11, said industry executives. But no one has heard of the FBI going beyond
    Carnivore at this point.
    "The FBI are trying to get Carnivore with a lot more ISPs," said Patrick
    Sweeney, president and chief executive of ServerVault, a Web hosting firm
    specializing in secure hosting.
    Reportedly, the FBI is trying to use sections of Title 18, the wiretapping
    law, to extend its eavesdropping coverage to e-mail, Sweeney said. While he
    was not familiar with the initiative Baker described, Sweeney said Bureau's
    interest in tracking data communications is not shocking, and might go
    beyond the FBI.
    "There are so many agencies that are working on procedures where they can
    make sure than entire comprehensive wireless and wireline tapping can be
    put into place if need be," he said.


    APEC fails to support US forces in Afghanistan


    Ian McPhedran, Phillip Coorey and Damon Johnston

    22oct01 - SECRET US forces have been given a presidential kill order to
    destroy Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda terror network at all costs.

    President George W. Bush's extraordinary command emerged yesterday as US
    commandos opened the ground war in Afghanistan although a meeting of
    Asian-Pacific countries failed to endorse the action.

    A declaration issued yesterday by the 20 leaders attending the Asia-Pacific
    Economic Co-operation forum in Shanghai condemned terrorism unequivocally
    but stopped short of endorsing what the US troops were doing.

    The declaration did not mention the military action, bin Laden, Al-Qaeda,
    Taliban or Afghanistan.

    The nations agreed to collectively stem any flow of funds to terrorists,
    boost customs surveillance, increase air and maritime security and increase
    protection of the energy, transport and communications sectors, with the
    United Nations taking the leading role.

    Prime Minister John Howard, who attended the APEC forum, said he accepted a
    "range of views" from other countries.

    "Some are involved militarily such as Australia and Canada, and others
    involved in different ways," he said.

    "This meeting sends a very important message that the leaders of this region
    and a significant part of the world leadership was determined to get on with
    governing and that the wrong response was not to turn up," he said.

    Indonesia and Malaysia were foremost in deleting references to Afghanistan
    and bin Laden.

    China and Russia took the lead in refusing to support explicitly the US
    military action.

    It emerged yesterday that Mr Bush signed what he hoped would be bin Laden's
    death warrant last month by directing the CIA to launch its most widespread
    and lethal action in its 54-year history.

    "The gloves are off," a senior official said.

    "The President has given the agency the green light to do whatever is
    necessary. Lethal operations that were unthinkable pre-September 11 are now
    under way."

    The Pentagon yesterday released grainy, green images of the first ground
    combat of Operation Enduring Freedom.

    About 120 Rangers raided an airfield, clashing with Taliban forces.

    General Richard Myers said the Americans had a couple of minor injuries.

    "We met resistance at both objectives, the airfield and the other objective.
    It was, I guess you could characterise it as light," General Myers said.

    Mr Howard and Opposition Leader Kim Beazley today will farewell 150 Special
    Air Service soldiers heading from Perth to join US ground forces in

    The political goodbye had been planned for several days and will take place
    at least two days before the troops will deploy in secret.


    APEC refuses to back US attack


    Phillip Coorey in Shanghai

    22oct01 - THE US has failed to get support from its Asia-Pacific neighbours
    for its military action in Afghanistan - to which Australia and Canada also
    are committed.

    The 20 leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in Shanghai,
    China, issued a declaration yesterday condemning terrorism unequivocally but
    stopped short of endorsing what the Americans were doing.

    It did not mention the military action, chief suspect Osama bin Laden and
    his Al-Qaeda group, the Taliban or Afghanistan.

    The diplomatically worded statement, signed by APEC nations including
    Russia, China, the US, Canada, Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia, only
    agreed to "strengthen international co-operation at all levels in combating
    terrorism in a comprehensive manner".

    "Leaders consider the murderous deeds, as well as other terrorist acts, in
    all forms and manifestations, committed wherever, whenever and by whomsoever
    as a profound threat to the peace, prosperity and security of all people, of
    all faiths, of all nations," the statement said.

    The nations decided to collectively stem funding flows to terrorists and to
    boost customs surveillance and air and sea security.

    They also agreed to step up protection of the energy, transport and
    communications sectors, giving the United Nations a leading role. They also
    pledged not to let terrorism threaten already slowing world economies and

    Prime Minister John Howard said he was not surprised by the APEC statement.

    "Given the diversity of countries represented, you're not going to get
    something that in an ideal world you yourself would have wanted," he said.

    Mr Howard, criticised by Opposition Leader Kim Beazley for going to APEC in
    the middle of the election campaign, said the meeting and his presence at it
    showed solidarity against terrorism.

    During negotiations, Indonesia and Malaysia were foremost in deleting
    references to Afghanistan and bin Laden.

    China and Russia took the lead in refusing to support explicitly the US
    military action.

    Mr Howard said it was significant that three of the countries which signed
    the statement were predominantly Islamic. The terror statement was referred
    to briefly in the leaders' communique read by Chinese President Jiang Zemin
    at the end of yesterday's meeting.

    Mr Howard also played down Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri's
    refusal to meet him to discuss boat people and other regional issues despite
    her having private talks with eight other leaders over the weekend.

    "There are no personal difficulties between the President of Indonesia and
    the Prime Minister of Australia," he said.

    "I understand some of the challenges she has in her country . . . it's not
    an easy job being President of Indonesia."


    Sunday strikes kill 8 civilians in Kabul


    Monday Oct 22 2001
    KABUL (Agencies)

    US-LED bombardment hit two homes in Kabul's north on Sunday, killing at
    least eight civilians, including four children, neighbors said.

    An Associated Press reporter at the scene in the Khair Khana residential
    district saw bodies of five of the dead -three women and two small children.

    Corpses of the others, including another two older boys and a man, had been
    taken away, neighbors said. Residents pushed and shoved to get a look at the

    "This pilot was like he was blind. There are no military bases here - only
    innocent people,'' said one resident, Haziz Ullah.

    As the bulldozers searched for more bodies, another jet screamed in high
    overhead and the residents scrambled for cover - with even ambulances on the
    scene roaring away.

    However, no more bombs were dropped by that aircraft.

    The daytime strikes had hit two, concrete houses in the area.

    The neighborhood holds no known Taliban military sites, although a Taliban
    army garrison and other installations are housed several miles away.

    The United States has expressed regrets for any civilian deaths in its now
    two-week-old military campaign, saying it is targeting terror suspect Osama
    bin Laden and his Taliban allies.


    25 US commandos killed, says Taliban


    Monday Oct 22 2001
    KABUL- (Reuters)

    AFGHANISTAN'S ruling Taliban talked defiance today as US war planes began a
    third week of strikes by bombing the capital in blistering raids that
    officials said killed 18 civilians and wounded 23.

    A Taliban minister said the ruling movement's militia had killed 20 to 25 US
    commandos on their first lightning strike of Operation Enduring Freedom on
    Afghan soil, and insisted again they had downed a helicopter with a
    rocket-propelled grenade.

    Our message to the Americans is that if they want to be safe they mustn't
    come to Afghanistan," education minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said, speaking
    shortly after US planes launched a series of attacks against targets in
    Kabul in the early hours of the 15th day of strikes.

    "There have been a lot of planes overhead and I've heard at least seven
    explosions," one witness in Kabul said. Witnesses said the morning raids by
    US planes had appeared to target the entrenched positions of the Taliban
    front line north of Kabul, facing the opposition Northern Alliance.

    Information ministry official Abdul Hanan Himat said 18 civilians,
    including women and children, had been killed and 23 wounded in the raids.

    Taliban fighters fired at the planes mostly with mobile truck-mounted
    anti-aircraft guns that can more easily evade attack.

    Most of their ground air-defences have already been destroyed in two weeks
    of US air attacks, the Pentagon has said.

    The aircraft roared overhead just hours after the Taliban moved fighters
    through the streets of the curfew-bound capital.

    Power was cut as an aircraft that sounded like a helicopter or a propeller
    plane flew low overhead twice and tanks rumbled down the streets
    accompanied by the sound of plain chant religious hymns, apparently
    broadcast by loudspeakers.


    Wounded four times, tortured and exiled again -
    but Abdulsalam keeps on smiling


    By Robert Fisk in Peshawar
    19 October 2001

    In 22 years of war, Abdulsalam Jamalzai has lost count of the number of
    times he has fled Afghanistan.

    As a schoolboy of 14, he watched the first Soviet invasion troops arrive in
    Kandahar to struggle, so he was told, against "international terrorism''. He
    was wounded four times in his country's army while fighting what his
    officers called "terrorism''. He was even tortured by the Afghan communist
    government for disobeying an order to fight pro-American "international
    terrorism''. And now he has arrived back in Pakistan with his wife and eight
    children after fleeing America's war against "international terrorism''.

    Abdulsalam's smile when he tells his terrible story is both infectious for
    his family and shameful for us. He hopes to return to Kabul. His older
    sons born during the Soviet occupation grin broadly. Perhaps they
    understand the irony.

    Perhaps, like Abdulsalam's 35-year-old wife, Nahid, they are just brave.
    While Abdulsalam rotted in a military prison after fighting on the Panjshir
    front line against Ahmed Shah Masood's guerrillas, Nahid wrote a letter to
    her husband: "I pray to God that I will see you in jail rather than

    Abdulsalam's father, Abdulkarim, was a soldier who supported the Afghan
    communist regime. The family didn't join their neighbours to protest against
    the Soviet invasion by crying Allahu Akbar (God is great) from the rooftops
    of Kandahar. "I first saw Russian soldiers in 1979 when they were on their
    way to the airport,'' Abdulsalam remembers. "They were big men on tanks with
    furry hats with a star on the front and huge coats. They were overthrowing
    the despotism of Hajibullah Amin and we thought that with Babrak Karmal
    things would be better. The Russians had come to defend him. The Russians
    had come to rescue our people from dark times."

    Or so Abdulsalam thought. He married Nahid when he was still a 17-year-old
    schoolboy; she was chosen by his parents. Nahid's father had been arrested
    by President's Amin's intelligence services and never seen again. Within a
    year, Abdulsalam had joined the police academy. "It had always been my dream
    to be of service to may people,'' he says now, as innocently as he must have
    said it when the Kabul academy was placed under the intelligence ministry,
    and as innocently as he must have thought it when he was told he had
    volunteered for a three-year training course in the Soviet Union. But when
    he reached the Soviet army base at Tashkent, he found he was being groomed
    as an army commando.

    "They taught us how to use small arms, Kalashnikovs, tanks,'' Abdulsalam
    says with some residual astonishment. The course lasted just six months.
    "When I got back to Kabul, I started work in the Interior Ministry court
    because I was a police officer. Then they said I was in the army. I said I
    was a policeman. They said, 'You have no choice you have to fight
    terrorism.' What could I do?" Within a week, he was defending the copper
    mines of Messaynak in Logar province, watching his first killing as a
    comrade was shot in the face by the American-armed Afghan mujahedin five
    feet from him.

    Back in Kabul, Abdulsalam's first child, Shehsar, a boy, was born. Ordered
    by his officers to undertake a one-day pursuit of Kabul bank officials who'd
    absconded with the day's takings, he found himself on a convoy to Panjshir
    to fight Masood's men. "I don't think there were any bank robbers," he says.
    "It was a lie to get us to Panjshir. I didn't go home for three months."

    When he did it was as a prisoner on a military helicopter. Sergeant
    Jamalzia, as he then was, had disobeyed an order from a Russian advisor to
    take a position with his men 500 metres up a mountain which would have
    exposed him to mujahedin fire. "This is our decision and no more questions,"
    the Russian had told him. When Abdulsalam eventually climbed the mountain,
    he found the guerrillas had turned it into a minefield. Then he refused to
    betray his new position by firing flares into the sky. "One of my soldiers,"
    Abdulsalam says, "was a spy for the Russians and told them I had disobeyed
    the order.'' Freighted back to Kabul, Abdulsalam managed to call his father
    before incarceration in the Centre for the Directorate of the Revolution
    where he was tortured with electricity for "wanting to join the mujahedin".

    Two more children were born Ahmadshah and Zohra, a daughter. His wife and
    family lived with his father, now retired, and mother. The scars of the
    electrodes are still on Abdulsalam's fingers. So are the livid wounds of
    three bullets and a shell burst from his subsequent battles in the army.
    When shrapnel pierced Abdulsalam's leg and shoulder, his blood sprayed over
    his colleagues of the 3rd Battalion in the Pagman Valley. "My heart stopped
    beating for 11 seconds,'' he says.

    In a Kabul hospital Abdulsalam was told Nahid had given birth to his second
    daughter, Sahahbanah. "I had been in the ward for just two days and then
    they told me about the new baby and I forgot everything else in my life."
    Army friends arranged for him to convalesce at home. "They were very kind to
    me," he remembers. Others were not.

    "When the Russians left, Dr Nadjibullah was our president but I saw the
    people didn't trust him. The mujahedin did not accept the 'national peace'
    he had proclaimed. Sometimes I thought of joining them but they were not

    The government split between the Parcham and Khalq parties. "The Parcham
    people thought the intelligence ministry, for whom I worked, was Khalqi. The
    Khalq thought anyone with a bit of an intellect was a Parcham. My officer
    thought I was a Parcham and threw me out. I was put under house arrest, then
    a friend in the Ministry of the Interior warned me to get out of Kabul."
    Abdulsalam was sent back as a soldier to Logar province. Then the mujahedin
    took over the Afghan capital. "I thought I knew them,'' he says. "Things
    were calm. Prices went down. Everyone thought they had a beautiful future.
    Then the mujahedin started fighting between each other. It was the beginning
    of a new tragedy. I had no money. All I could do was walk among the people
    in the city and be a witness to history." Abdulsalam found himself trapped
    in a relative's house in the Kabul suburbs.

    Guerrillas of the Hezbi-Islami heard he'd been in the army and tried to
    arrest him. "They said: 'We must arrest the communist.' My relatives took me
    back by a small road to Kabul."

    The family fled to Pakistan. When they heard there was a ceasefire a month
    later, they returned and hung on for six months. "It was a terrible, cold
    winter. We had no money. Our house was burned. We lost everything. We
    returned to Pakistan." But they went back to Kabul again, this time to a
    cousin's house. But Gulbudin Hekmatyar's guerrillas fired their
    American-supplied rockets into the city. Abdulsalam's elderly father was
    badly wounded. The family set off for the north, to Mazar-e-Sharif.

    Back in Kabul, Abdulsalam and his family began to sell their remaining
    furniture to survive. They had three more children now, Muska and Laima
    twin girls and another daughter, Sadia.

    "On 26 October 1996, the Taliban arrived and they brought peace and we no
    more heard the sound of explosions,'' Abdulsalam says. "But then they put my
    father in jail. The Taliban gave no reason. I pretended to come from the
    Taliban 'capital' of Kandahar because I could speak with a Kandahari accent.
    I got to the Taliban base and said 'my father is from Kandahar.' But they
    said: 'your father says he's from Mandoushah'. So I said: 'No, it's my
    mother that's from Kandahar.' Amazingly, they freed my father. But for us,
    it was the end.''

    Abdulsalam's brother was sent illegally to Moscow to earn money enough to
    send their parents to Pakistan. There was no money for Abdulsalam and his
    family. He worked as a trader in Kabul. "Then the Taliban came to the
    house we are not Pashtun like them. My wife had been teaching some girls
    but the education of women was now forbidden. So the Taliban claimed we were
    trying to convert the women to Christianity.'' After an explosion at Kabul
    airport, many of Abdulsalam's friends were arrested. They sent word that he
    was next on the Taliban's arrest list.

    Leaving his family behind he fled to Pakistan for a month. He was back in
    Kabul when he heard of the attacks on New York and Washington. "I thought
    that if bin Laden was blamed, Afghanistan would be attacked. People were
    panic stricken. I called my father in Peshawar and asked his advice. He said
    it would be all right, that I should stay.

    "He was wrong. When the American attack started, I listened to 'comrade
    Bush' on the Voice of America and he said the attack would continue, that
    his target was clear. I remembered my children and wife who were very
    frightened and three nights later we fled again." Turned round by Pakistani
    guards at the frontier and by a Taliban soldier they went back once more to
    Kabul and then, as American planes streaked over the city, returned within
    24 hours to the frontier, this time on a mountainside. They reached

    "I criticised this attack," Abdulsalam says now. "Osama [bin Laden] is one
    person and his organisation is in every country. These countries are all
    round the world, not just Afghanistan. What can we do? Now they are
    destroying our ruins. I would like to stay here for now. But if it's better
    maybe we should go back to Kabul.''

    It looks as if Abdulsalam Jamalzai has forgotten all of the "international
    terrorism'' he was asked to fight against. Or maybe he'll remember how the
    Russians were first to claim to rescue his people "from dark times''.


    US Considers Torturing Suspects

    Silence of 4 Terror Probe Suspects Poses Dilemma


    By Walter Pincus
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, October 21, 2001; Page A06

    FBI and Justice Department investigators are increasingly frustrated
    by the silence of jailed suspected associates of Osama bin Laden's al
    Qaeda network, and some are beginning to that say that traditional
    civil liberties may have to be cast aside if they are to extract
    information about the Sept. 11 attacks and terrorist plans.

    More than 150 people rounded up by law enforcement officials in the
    aftermath of the attacks remain in custody, but attention has focused
    on four suspects held in New York who the FBI believes are withholding
    valuable information.

    FBI agents have offered the suspects the prospect of lighter
    sentences, money, jobs, and a new identity and life in the United
    States for them and their family members, but they have not succeeded
    in getting information from them, according to law enforcement

    "We're into this thing for 35 days and nobody is talking," a senior
    FBI official said, adding that "frustration has begun to appear."

    Said one experienced FBI agent involved in the investigation: "We are
    known for humanitarian treatment, so basically we are stuck. .
    . . Usually there is some incentive, some angle to play, what you can
    do for them. But it could get to that spot where we could go to
    pressure . . . where we won't have a choice, and we are probably
    getting there."

    Among the alternative strategies under discussion are using drugs or
    pressure tactics, such as those employed occasionally by Israeli
    interrogators, to extract information. Another idea is extraditing the
    suspects to allied countries where security services sometimes employ
    threats to family members or resort to torture.

    Under U.S. law, interrogators in criminal cases can lie to suspects,
    but information obtained by physical pressure, inhumane treatment or
    torture cannot be used in a trial. In addition, the government
    interrogators who used such tactics could be sued by the victim or
    charged with battery by the government.

    The four key suspects, held in New York's Metropolitan Correctional
    Center, are Zacarias Moussaoui, a French Moroccan detained in August
    initially in Minnesota after he sought lessons on how to fly
    commercial jetliners but not how to take off or land them; Mohammed
    Jaweed Azmath and Ayub Ali Khan, Indians traveling with false
    passports who were detained the day after the World Trade Center and
    Pentagon attacks with box cutters, hair dye and $5,000 in cash; and
    Nabil Almarabh, a former Boston cabdriver with alleged links to al

    Questioning of "the two with the box cutters and others have left us
    wondering what's the next phase," the FBI official said.

    One former senior FBI official with a background in counterterrorism
    said recently, "You can't torture, you can't give drugs now, and there
    is logic, reason and humanity to back that." But, he added, "you could
    reach a point where they allow us to apply drugs to a guy. . . . But I
    don't think this country would ever permit torture, or beatings."

    He said there was a difference in employing a "truth serum," such as
    sodium pentothal, "to try to get critical information when facing
    disaster, and beating a guy till he is senseless."

    "If there is another major attack on U.S. soil, the American public
    could let it happen," he said. "Drugs might taint a prosecution, but
    it might be worth it."

    Even some people who are firm supporters of civil liberties understand
    the pressures that are developing.

    David Cole, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center who
    obtained the release of Middle Eastern clients after they had been
    detained for years based on secret information, said that in the
    current crisis, "the use of force to extract information could happen"
    in cases where investigators believe suspects have information on an
    upcoming attack.

    "If there is a ticking bomb, it is not an easy issue, it's tough," he

    Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel during the Clinton
    administration, wrote recently that the Supreme Court distinguished
    terrorism cases from cases where lesser threats are involved. He noted
    that five justices in a recent deportation case recognized that the
    "genuine danger" represented by terrorism requires "heightened
    deference to the judgments of the political branches with respect to
    matters of national security."

    Former attorney general Richard L. Thornburgh said, "We put emphasis
    on due process and sometimes it strangles us."

    In the aftermath of Sept. 11, he said, "legally admissible evidence in
    court may not be the be-all and end-all." The country may compare the
    current search for information to brutal tactics in wartime used to
    gather intelligence overseas and even by U.S. troops from prisoners
    during military actions.

    Extradition of Moussaoui to France or Morocco is a possibility, one
    law enforcement official said. The French security services were quick
    to leak to journalists in Paris that they had warned the CIA and FBI
    in early September, before the attacks, that Moussaoui was associated
    with al Qaeda and had pilot training.

    The leak has irritated U.S. investigators in part because "it was so
    limited," one FBI official said. "Maybe we should give him [Moussaoui]
    to them," he said, noting that French security has a reputation for
    rough interrogations.

    The threat of extradition to a country with harsh practices does not
    always work.

    In 1997, Hani Abdel Rahim al-Sayegh, a Saudi citizen arrested in
    Canada and transferred to the United States under the promise that he
    would tell about the bombing of the Khobar Towers military barracks in
    Saudi Arabia, refused to cooperate in the investigation when he got

    The FBI threatened to have al-Sayegh sent back to Saudi Arabia, where
    he could have faced beheading, thinking it would get him to talk. "He
    called their bluff and went back, was not executed and is in jail," a
    government official said.

    Robert M. Blitzer, former chief of the FBI counterterrorism section,
    said offers of reduced sentences worked to get testimony in the cases
    of Ahmed Ressam, caught bringing explosives into the country for
    millennium attacks that never took place, and Ali Mohammed, the former
    U.S. Army Green Beret who pleaded guilty in the 1998 embassy bombings
    and provided valuable information about al Qaeda.

    The two former al Qaeda members who testified publicly in the 1998
    bombing trials were resettled with their families in the United States
    under the witness protection program and given either money or loans
    to restart their lives.

    Torture "goes against every grain in my body," Blitzer said. "Chances
    are you are going to get the wrong person and risk damage or killing
    them." In the end, he said, there has to be another way.


    Susan Sontag, "The Traitor," Fires Back


    by David Talbot, Salon
    October 17, 2001

    Writer Susan Sontag has produced many texts during her four-decade career,
    including historical novels and reflections on cancer, photography and the
    war in Bosnia. But it was a brief essay, less than 1,000 words long, in the
    Sept. 24 issue of the New Yorker that created the biggest uproar of her life.
    In the piece, which she wrote shortly after the terror attacks of Sept. 11,
    Sontag dissected the political and media blather that poured out of the
    television in the hours after the explosions of violence. After subjecting
    herself to what she calls "an overdose of CNN," Sontag reacted with a
    coldly furious burst of analysis, savaging political leaders and media
    mandarins for trying to convince the country that everything was OK, that
    our attackers were simply cowards, and that our childlike view of the world
    need not be disturbed.
    As if to prove her point, a furious chorus of sharp-tongued pundits
    immediately descended on Sontag, outraged that she had broken from the
    ranks of the soothingly platitudinous. She was called an "America-hater," a
    "moral idiot," a "traitor" who deserved to be driven into "the wilderness,"
    never more to be heard. The bellicose right predictably tried to lump her
    in with the usual left-wing peace crusaders, whose programmed pacifism has
    sidelined them during the current political debates.
    But this tarbrush doesn't stick. As a thinker, Sontag is rigorously,
    sometimes abrasively, independent. She has offended the left as often as
    the right (political terms, she points out, that have become increasingly
    useless), alienating some ideologues when she attacked communism as
    "fascism with a human face" during the uprising of the Polish shipyard
    workers in the 1980s and again during the U.S. bombing campaign against the
    Serbian dictatorship, which she strongly supported.
    Sontag, 68, remains characteristically unrepentant in the face of the
    recent attacks. On Monday, she talked with us by phone from her home in
    Manhattan, reflecting on the controversy, the Bush war effort and the
    media's surrender to what she views as a national conformity campaign.

    Did the storm of reaction to your brief essay in the New Yorker take you by

    Absolutely. I mean, I am aware of what a radical point of view is; very
    occasionally I have espoused one. But I did not think for a moment my essay
    was radical or even particularly dissenting. It seemed very common sense. I
    have been amazed by the ferocity of how I've been attacked, and it goes on
    and on. One article in the New Republic, a magazine for which I have
    written, began: "What do Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Susan Sontag
    have in common?" I have to say my jaw dropped. Apparently we are all in
    favor of the dismantling of America. There's a kind of rhetorical overkill
    aimed at me that is astonishing. There has been a demonization which is
    What has been constructed is this sort of grotesque trinity comprised of
    myself, Bill Maher and Noam Chomsky. In the Saturday New York Times, Frank
    Rich tried in his way to defend us by arguing for our complete lack of
    importance, by saying that any substitute weather forecaster on TV has more
    influence than any of us. Well, it's not true of course. Excuse me, but
    Noam Chomsky is quite a bit more than a distinguished linguist. Our critics
    are up in arms against us because we do have a degree of influence. But our
    own "defenders" are reduced to saying, "Well, leave the poor things alone,
    they're quite obscure anyway. "
    Look, I have nothing in common with Bill Maher, whom I had never heard of
    before. And I don't agree with Noam Chomsky, whom I am very familiar with.
    My position is decidedly not the Chomsky position

    How do you differ from Chomsky?

    First of all, I'll take the American empire any day over the empire of what
    my pal Chris Hitchens calls "Islamic fascism." I'm not against fighting
    this enemy -- it is an enemy and I'm not a pacifist.
    I think what happened on Sept. 11 was an appalling crime, and I'm
    astonished that I even have to say that, to reassure people that I feel
    that way. But I do feel that the Gulf War revisited is not the way to fight
    this enemy.
    There was a very confident, orotund piece by Stanley Hoffman in the New
    York Review of Books, he's a very senior wise man in the George Kennan
    mold, certainly no radical. And I felt I could agree with every word he was
    saying. He was saying bombing Afghanistan is not the solution. We have to
    understand what's going on in the Middle East, we have to rethink what's
    going on, our foreign policy. In fact, since Sept. 11, we're already seeing
    the most radical realignment of policies.
    Bill Maher has abjectly apologized for his remarks, but you don't seem to
    be getting any more docile in the fact of this storm of criticism. Why not?
    Well, I'm not an institution, and I don't have a job to lose. I just get
    lots of very nasty letters and read lots of very nasty things in the press.

    What do the letters say?

    That I'm a traitor. The New York Post, or so I've been told, has called for
    me to be drawn and quartered. And then there was this Ted Koppel show, the
    producer invited me onto the show a week ago. It's not my thing, but I did
    it. And they got someone from the Heritage Foundation [Todd Gaziano], who
    practically foamed at the mouth, and said at one point, "Susan Sontag
    should not be permitted to speak in honorable intellectual circles ever
    again." And then Koppel said, "Whoa, you really mean she shouldn't be
    allowed to speak?" And he said, well maybe not silenced, but disgraced and
    "properly discounted for her crazy views."
    So there's a serious attempt to stifle debate. But, of course, God bless
    the Net. I keep getting more articles of various dissenting opinions
    e-mailed to me; naturally, some of them are crazy and some I don't agree
    with at all. But you can't shut everyone up. The big media have been very
    intimidated, but not the Web.
    I don't want to get defensive, but of course I am a little defensive
    because I'm still so stunned by the way my remarks were viewed. What I
    published in the New Yorker was written literally 48 hours after the Sept.
    11 attacks. I was in Berlin at the time, and I was watching CNN for 48
    hours straight. You might say that I had overdosed on CNN. And what I wrote
    was a howl of dismay at all the nonsense that I was hearing. That people
    were in a state of great pain and bewilderment and fear I certainly
    understood. But I thought, "Uh-oh, here comes a sort of revival of Cold War
    rhetoric and something utterly sanctimonious that is going to make it very
    hard for us to figure out how best to deal with this." And I have to say
    that my fears have been borne out.

    What do you think of the Bush administration's efforts to control the
    media, in particular its requests that the TV networks not show bin Laden
    and al-Qaida's video statements?

    Excuse me, but does anyone over the age of 6 really think that the way
    Osama bin Laden has to
    communicate with his agents abroad is by posing in that Flintstone set of
    his and pulling on his left earlobe instead of his right to send secret
    signals? Now, I don't believe that Condoleezza Rice and the rest of the
    administration really think that. At least I hope to hell they don't. I
    assume they have another reason for trying to stop the TV networks from
    showing bin Laden's videotapes, which is they just don't want people to see
    his message, whatever it is. They think, Why should we give him free
    publicity? Something very primitive like that. Which is ridiculous, because
    of course anyone online can see these tapes for themselves. Although I see
    the BBC, our British cousins who are of course ever servile, are discussing
    whether to broadcast the tapes. We can always count on the Brits to fall in

    Why has the media been so willing to go along with the White House's
    censorship efforts?

    Well, when people like me are being lambasted and excoriated for saying
    very mild things, no wonder the media is cowed. Here's something no one has
    commented on that I continue to puzzle over: Who decided that no gruesome
    pictures of the World Trade Center site were to be published anywhere? Now
    I don't think there was single directive coming from anywhere. But I think
    there was an extraordinary consensus, a kind of self-censorship by media
    executives who concluded these images would be too demoralizing for the
    country. I think it's rather interesting that could happen. There
    apparently has been only one exception: one day the New York Daily News
    showed a severed hand. But the photo appeared in only one edition and it
    was immediately pulled. I think that degree of unanimity within the media
    is pretty extraordinary.

    What is your position on the war against terrorism? How should the U.S.
    fight back?

    My position is that I don't like throwing biscuits and peanut butter and
    jam and napkins, little snack packages produced in a small city in Texas,
    to Afghani citizens, so we can say, "Look, we're doing something
    humanitarian." These wretched packages of food that are grotesquely
    inadequate, there's apparently enough food for a half day's rations. And
    then the people run out to get them, into these minefields. Afghanistan has
    more land mines per capita than any country in the world. I don't like the
    way that humanitarianism is once again being used in this unholy way as a
    pretext for war.
    As woman, of course, I've always been appalled by the Taliban regime and
    would dearly like to see them toppled. I was a public critic of the regime
    long before the war started. But I've been told that the Northern Alliance
    is absolutely no better when it comes to the issue of women. The crimes
    against women in Afghanistan are just unthinkable; there's never been
    anything like it in the history of the world. So of course I would love to
    see that government overthrown and something less appalling put in its place.
    Do I think bombing is the way to do it? Of course I don't. It's not for me
    to speculate on this, but there are all sorts of realpolitik outcomes that
    one can imagine. Afghanistan in the end could become a sort of dependency
    of Pakistan, which of course wouldn't please India and China. They'd
    probably like a little country to annex themselves. So how in the world
    you're going to dethrone the Taliban without causing further trouble in
    that part of the world is a very complicated question. And I'm sure bright
    and hard-nosed people in Washington are genuinely puzzled about how to do it.

    Do you really think it could be done without bombing?

    Absolutely. But it's a complicated and long process, and the United States
    is not very experienced in these matters. The point is, as I said in my New
    Yorker piece, there's a great disconnect between reality and what people in
    government and the media are saying of the reality. I have no doubt that
    there are real debates among military and political leaders going on both
    here and elsewhere. But what is being peddled to the public is a fairy
    tale. And the atmosphere of intimidation is quite extraordinary.
    And I think our protectors have been incredibly inept. In any other country
    the top officials of the FBI would have resigned or been fired by now. I
    mean, [key hijacking suspect] Mohammad Atta was on the FBI surveillance
    list, but this was never communicated to the airlines.
    The authorities are now responding to the anthrax scareto what I think are
    99 percent certain to be just domestic copycat crazies on their own war
    path -- by spreading more fear. We have Vice President Cheney saying,
    "Well, these people could be part of the same terrorist network that
    produced Sept. 11." Well, excuse me, but we have no reason to think that.
    As a result of these alarming statements from authorities, the public is
    terrified. I live in New York and the streets were empty after the FBI
    announced that another terrorist attack was imminent. You have these idiots
    in the FBI saying they have "credible evidence"I love that phrasethat an
    attack this weekend is "possible." Which means absolutely nothing. I mean
    it's possible there's a pink elephant in my living room right now, as I'm
    talking to you from my kitchen. I haven't checked recently, but it's not
    very likely.
    And meanwhile our ridiculous president is telling us to shop and go to the
    theater and lead normal lives. Normal? I could go 50 blocks, from one end
    of Manhattan to another, in five minutes because there was no one in the
    streets, no one in the restaurants, nobody in cars. You can't scare people
    and tell them to behave normally.

    We also seem to be getting contradictory messages about Muslims in the U.S.
    We're told that not all Islamic people are our enemy, but at the same time
    there's a fairly wide dragnet, which some civil liberties defenders have
    criticized as indiscriminate, aimed at rounding up Islamic suspects.

    Well, people are very scared and Americans are not used to being
    scared. There's an American exceptionalism; we're supposed to be exempt
    from the calamities and terrors and anxieties that beset other countries.
    But now people here are scared and it's interesting how fast they are
    moving in another direction. The feeling is, and I've heard this from
    people, about Islamic taxi drivers and shopkeepers and other people, we
    really ought to deport all the Muslims. Sure they're not all terrorists and
    some of it will be unfair, but after all we have to protect ourselves.
    Racial and ethnic profiling is now seen as common sense itself. I mean how
    could you not want that if you're going to take an airplane and you don't
    want a fellow in a turban and a beard to sit next to you?
    What I live in fear of is there will be another terror attacknot a sick
    joke like the powder in the envelope, but something real that takes more
    lives, that has the stamp of something more professional and thought out.
    It could be another symbolically targeted buildingmaybe not in New York
    this time, but in Chicago or some other heartland city that scares the rest
    of the country. And then you could get something like martial law here.
    Many Americans, who as I say are so used to not being afraid, would
    willingly accede to great abridgements of freedom. Because they're afraid.

    You called the president "robotic" in your New Yorker essay. But the New
    York Times, among other media observers, has editorialized that Bush has
    shown a new "gravitas" since Sept. 11. Do you think the president has grown
    more commanding since the terror attacks?

    I saw that in the Times, I love that, gravitas. Has Bush grown into his
    role of president? No, I think he's acquired legitimacy since Sept. 11,
    that's all, I don't call that "growing" at all. I think what we obviously
    have in Washington is some kind of regency, run presumably by Cheney and
    Rumsfeld and maybe Powell, although Powell is much more of an organization
    man than a real leader. It's all very veiled. And Cheney has not been much
    seen latelyis this because he is ill? It's all very mysterious. I hate to
    see everything become so opaque.

    It seems important to the Times and other major media to shore up the
    president's image these days.

    Yes, I just don't understand why debate equals dissent, and dissent equals
    lack of patriotism now. I mean, look, I cry every morning real tears, I
    mean down the cheek tears, when I read those small obituaries that the New
    York Times publishes of the people who died in the World Trade Center. I
    read them faithfully, every last one of them, and I cry. I live near a
    firehouse that lost a lot of men, and I've brought them things. And I'm
    genuinely and profoundly, exactly like everyone else, really moved, really
    wounded, and really in mourning. I didn't know anyone personally who died.
    But my son [journalist David Rieff] had a former classmate who worked for
    Cantor Fitzgerald who died. A number of people I know lost friends or loved
    I want to make one thing very clear, because I've been accused of this by
    some critics. I do not feel that the Sept. 11 attacks were the pursuit of
    legitimate grievances by illegitimate means. I think that's the position of
    some people, but not me. It may even be the position of Chomsky, although
    it's not for me to say. But it's certainly not my position.

    Speaking of your son, he seems to favor a tougher military response to
    Islamic terrorism than you do.

    Well, I don't want to go deeply into it, but clearly we don't see it
    exactly the same way. Whatever David thinks is tremendously important to
    me, but we do start from a different point of view. I feel that it's just a
    difference of emphasis, but without speaking for him, he feels it's deeper
    than that. But he's still the love of my life, so I won't criticize him.
    This is one thing I do completely agree with David on: If tomorrow Israel
    announced a unilateral withdrawal of its forces from the West Bank and the
    Gaza stripwhich I am absolutely in favor of --- followed by the
    proclamation of a Palestinian state, I don't believe it would make a dent
    in the forces that are supporting bin Laden's al-Qaida. I think Israel is a
    pretext for these people.
    I do believe in the unilateral withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian
    territories, which is of course the radical view held by a minority of
    Israeli citizens, but certainly not by the Sharon government. And it's a
    view I expressed when I received the Jerusalem Prize there in May, which
    created quite a storm. But just because I am a critic of Israeli policy,
    and in particular the occupation, simply because it is untenable, it
    creates a border that cannot be defended, that does not mean I believe the
    U.S. has brought this terrorism on itself because it supports Israel. I
    believe bin Laden and his supporters are using this as a pretext. If we
    were to change our support for Israel overnight, we would not stop these
    I don't think this is what it's really about. I think it truly is a jihad,
    I think there is such a thing. There are many levels to Islamic rage. But
    what we're dealing with here is a view of the U.S. as a secular, sinful
    society that must be humbled, and this has nothing to do with any
    particular aspect of American policy. So I don't think we have brought this
    upon ourselves, which is of course a view that has been attributed to me.

    Let me ask you about another part of your essay that has riled your
    critics. You said the hijackers displayed more courage than those,
    presumably in the U.S. military, who bomb their enemies from a safe distance.

    No, I did not use the word "courage", I did use my words carefully. I said
    they were not to be called cowards. I believe that courage is morally
    neutral. I can well imagine wicked people being brave and good people being
    timid or afraid. I don't consider it a moral virtue.
    My feeling about this type of safe bombing goes back to the U.S. air
    campaign against the Serbs in Kosovo, which I strongly supported, though I
    was criticized by many of my friends on the left for being too bellicose. I
    did support the bombing of the Serb forces, because I had been in Sarajevo
    for three years during the siege and I wanted the Serbs checked and
    rebuked. I wanted them out of Kosovo as I had wanted them out of Bosnia.
    When the U.S. campaign in Kosovo began, I happened to be staying with a
    close friend in a town on the tip of Italy, the boot, about 40 miles across
    from Albania, and the Apache helicopters were literally passing over my
    head. They landed at the Tirana air base in Italy, but they never took off
    for Kosovo because it was calculated that they might be shot down and the
    crew killed. And the U.S. was unwilling to accept these casualties.
    But in order to bomb precisely, without hitting hospitals and other
    civilian targets, you have to fly low to the ground with aircraft like
    these. And you have to risk being brought down by antiaircraft fire. So I
    was dismayed by the loss of civilian life in that U.S. bombing campaign,
    which I had hoped would be very precise.
    And so thinking about this, as I was writing my essay for the New Yorker, I
    became very angry. And I wrote, if you're going to use the word "cowardly,"
    let's talk about the people who bomb from so high up that they're out of
    the range of any retaliation and therefore cause more civilian casualties
    than they otherwise would, in what is supposedly a limited military bombing.

    What about those in the antiwar camp who see a moral equivalence between
    the destruction of the World Trade Center and the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan?

    Well, I don't share that view. I'm not a pacifist, but I am against
    bombing. And I do think that if you want to conduct a military operation,
    you have to be willing to take casualties. There are not, strictly
    speaking, very many military targets in Afghanistan. We're talking about
    one of the poorest countries in the world. What they can do is bomb the
    soldiers, the camps where the Taliban soldiers are based. And you can
    imagine who they are, it's a lot of kids. We can drop a lot of napalm, and
    uranium-tipped bombs, and kill many thousands of people. We haven't been
    doing a lot of that yet. That's next. And then we'll get these other awful
    people to come in, this Northern Alliance, and it will be horrible.
    David Talbot is the founder and editor in chief of Salon, where this
    article originally appeared.



    Outlook Magazine | Oct 29, 2001

    The world doesn't have to choose between the Taliban and the US government.
    All the beauty of the world-literature, music, art-lies between these two
    fundamentalist poles.


    As darkness deepened over Afghanistan on Sunday, October 7, 2001, the US
    government, backed by the International Coalition Against Terror (the new,
    amenable surrogate for the United Nations), launched air strikes against
    Afghanistan. TV channels lingered on computer-animated images of Cruise
    missiles, stealth bombers, Tomahawks, 'bunker-busting' missiles and Mark 82
    high-drag bombs. All over the world, little boys watched goggle-eyed and
    stopped clamouring for new video games.

    The UN, reduced now to an ineffective abbreviation, wasn't even asked to
    mandate the air strikes. (As Madeleine Albright once said, "The US acts
    multilaterally when it can, and unilaterally when it must."

    The 'evidence' against the terrorists was shared amongst friends in the
    'Coalition'. After conferring, they announced that it didn't matter whether
    or not the 'evidence' would stand up in a court of law. Thus, in an
    instant, were centuries of jurisprudence carelessly trashed.

    Nothing can excuse or justify an act of terrorism, whether it is committed
    by religious fundamentalists, private militia, people's resistance
    movements--or whether it's dressed up as a war of retribution by a
    recognised government. The bombing of Afghanistan is not revenge for New
    York and Washington. It is yet another act of terror against the people of
    the world. Each innocent person that is killed must be added to, not set
    off against, the grisly toll of civilians who died in New York and

    People rarely win wars, governments rarely lose them. People get killed.
    Governments moult and regroup, hydra-headed. They first use flags to
    shrink-wrap peoples' minds and suffocate real thought, and then as
    ceremonial shrouds to cloak the mangled corpses of the willing dead. On
    both sides, in Afghanistan as well as America, civilians are now hostage to
    the actions of their own governments. Unknowingly, ordinary people in both
    countries share a common bond-they have to live with the phenomenon of
    blind, unpredictable terror. Each batch of bombs that is dropped on
    Afghanistan is matched by a corresponding escalation of mass hysteria in
    America about anthrax, more hijackings and other terrorist acts.

    There is no easy way out of the spiralling morass of terror and brutality
    that confronts the world today. It is time now for the human race to hold
    still, to delve into its wells of collective wisdom, both ancient and
    modern. What happened on September 11 changed the world forever. Freedom,
    progress, wealth, technology, war--these words have taken on new meaning.
    Governments have to acknowledge this transformation, and approach their new
    tasks with a modicum of honesty and humility. Unfortunately, up to now,
    there has been no sign of any introspection from the leaders of the
    International Coalition. Or the Taliban.

    When he announced the air strikes, President George Bush said, "We're a
    peaceful nation." America's favourite ambassador, Tony Blair, (who also
    holds the portfolio of Prime Minister of the UK), echoed him: "We're a
    peaceful people."

    So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is Peace.

    Speaking at the FBI headquarters a few days later, President Bush said:
    "This is our calling. This is the calling of the United States of America.
    The most free nation in the world. A nation built on fundamental values
    that reject hate, reject violence, rejects murderers and rejects evil. We
    will not tire."

    Here is a list of the countries that America has been at war with-and
    bombed-since World War II: China (1945-46, 1950-53); Korea (1950-53);
    Guatemala (1954, 1967-69); Indonesia (1958); Cuba (1959-60); the Belgian
    Congo (1964); Peru (1965); Laos (1964-73); Vietnam (1961-73); Cambodia
    (1969-70); Grenada (1983); Libya (1986); El Salvador (1980s); Nicaragua
    (1980s); Panama (1989), Iraq (1991-99), Bosnia (1995), Sudan (1998);
    Yugoslavia (1999).And now Afghanistan.

    Certainly it does not tire-this, the Most Free nation in the world. What
    freedoms does it uphold? Within its borders, the freedoms of speech,
    religion, thought; of artistic expression, food habits, sexual preferences
    (well, to some extent) and many other exemplary, wonderful things. Outside
    its borders, the freedom to dominate, humiliate and subjugate-usually in
    the service of America's real religion, the 'free market'. So when the US
    government christens a war 'Operation Infinite Justice', or 'Operation
    Enduring Freedom', we in the Third World feel more than a tremor of fear.

    Because we know that Infinite Justice for some means Infinite Injustice for
    others. And Enduring Freedom for some means Enduring Subjugation for

    The International Coalition Against Terror is largely a cabal of the
    richest countries in the world. Between them, they manufacture and sell
    almost all of the world's weapons, they possess the largest stockpile of
    weapons of mass destruction-chemical, biological and nuclear. They have
    fought the most wars, account for most of the genocide, subjection, ethnic
    cleansing and human rights violations in modern history, and have
    sponsored, armed and financed untold numbers of dictators and despots.
    Between them, they have worshipped, almost deified, the cult of violence
    and war. For all its appalling sins, the Taliban just isn't in the same

    The Taliban was compounded in the crumbling crucible of rubble, heroin and
    landmines in the backwash of the Cold War. Its oldest leaders are in their
    early 40s. Many of them are disfigured and handicapped, missing an eye, an
    arm or a leg. They grew up in a society scarred and devastated by war.
    Between the Soviet Union and America, over 20 years, about $45 billion
    worth of arms and ammunition was poured into Afghanistan. The latest
    weaponry was the only shard of modernity to intrude upon a thoroughly
    medieval society. Young boys-many of them orphans-who grew up in those
    times, had guns for toys, never knew the security and comfort of family
    life, never experienced the company of women.

    Now, as adults and rulers, the Taliban beat, stone, rape and brutalise
    women; they don't seem to know what else to do with them. Years of war have
    stripped them of gentleness, inured them to kindness and human compassion.
    They dance to the percussive rhythms of bombs raining down around them. Now
    they've turned their monstrosity on their own people.

    With all due respect to President Bush, the people of the world do not have
    to choose between the Taliban and the US government. All the beauty of human
    civilisation-our art, our music, our literature-lies beyond these two
    fundamentalist, ideological poles. There is as little chance that the
    people of the world can all become middle-class consumers as there is that
    they'll all embrace any one particular religion. The issue is not about
    Good vs Evil or Islam vs Christianity as much as it is about space. About
    how to accommodate diversity, how to contain the impulse towards
    hegemony-every kind of hegemony, economic, military, linguistic, religious
    and cultural. Any ecologist will tell you how dangerous and fragile a
    monoculture is. A hegemonic world is like having a government without a
    healthy opposition. It becomes a kind of dictatorship. It's like putting a
    plastic bag over the world, and preventing it from breathing. Eventually,
    it will be torn open.

    One and a half million Afghan people lost their lives in the 20 years of
    conflict that preceded this new war. Afghanistan was reduced to rubble, and
    now, the rubble is being pounded into finer dust. By the second day of the
    air strikes, US pilots were returning to their bases without dropping their
    assigned payload of bombs. As one pilot put it, Afghanistan is "not a
    target-rich environment". At a press briefing at the Pentagon, Donald
    Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, was asked if America had run out of

    "First we're going to re-hit targets," he said, "and second, we're not
    running out of targets, Afghanistan is..." This was greeted with gales of
    laughter in the Briefing Room.

    By the third day of the strikes, the US defence department boasted that it
    had "achieved air supremacy over Afghanistan". (Did they mean that they had
    destroyed both, or maybe all 16, of Afghanistan's planes?)

    On the ground in Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance-the Taliban's old
    enemy, and therefore the International Coalition's newest friend-is making
    headway in its push to capture Kabul. (For the archives, let it be said
    that the Northern Alliance's track record is not very different from the

    But for now, because it's inconvenient, that little detail is being glossed
    over.) The visible, moderate, "acceptable" leader of the Alliance, Ahmed
    Shah Masood, was killed in a suicide-bomb attack early in September. The
    rest of the Northern Alliance is a brittle confederation of brutal
    warlords, ex-communists and unbending clerics. It is a disparate group
    divided along ethnic lines, some of whom have tasted power in Afghanistan in
    the past.

    Until the US air strikes, the Northern Alliance controlled about 5 per cent
    of the geographical area of Afghanistan. Now, with the Coalition's help and
    'air cover', it is poised to topple the Taliban. Meanwhile, Taliban
    soldiers, sensing imminent defeat, have begun to defect to the Alliance. So
    the fighting forces are busy switching sides and changing uniforms. But in
    an enterprise as cynical as this one, it seems to matter hardly at all.
    Love is hate, north is south, peace is war.

    Among the global powers, there is talk of 'putting in a representative
    government'. Or, on the other hand, of 'restoring' the Kingdom to
    Afghanistan's 89-year-old former king, Zahir Shah, who has lived in exile
    in Rome since 1973. That's the way the game goes-support Saddam Hussein,
    then 'take him out'; finance the mujahideen, then bomb them to smithereens;
    put in Zahir Shah and see if he's going to be a good boy. (Is it possible
    to 'put in' a representative government? Can you place an order for
    Democracy-with extra cheese and jalapeno peppers?)

    Reports have begun to trickle in about civilian casualties, about cities
    emptying out as Afghan civilians flock to the borders which have been

    Main arterial roads have been blown up or sealed off. Those who have
    experience of working in Afghanistan say that by early November, food
    convoys will not be able to reach the millions of Afghans (7.5 million
    according to the UN) who run the very real risk of starving to death during
    the course of this winter. They say that in the days that are left before
    winter sets in, there can either be a war, or an attempt to reach food to
    the hungry. Not both.

    As a gesture of humanitarian support, the US government air-dropped 37,000
    packets of emergency rations into Afghanistan. It says it plans to drop a
    total of 5,00,000 packets. That will still only add up to a single meal for
    half-a-million people out of the several million in dire need of food. Aid
    workers have condemned it as a cynical, dangerous, public-relations
    exercise. They say that air-dropping food packets is worse than futile.
    First, because the food will never get to those who really need it. More
    dangerously, those who run out to retrieve the packets risk being blown up
    by landmines. A tragic alms race.

    Nevertheless, the food packets had a photo-op all to themselves. Their
    contents were listed in major newspapers. They were vegetarian, we're told,
    as per Muslim Dietary Law(!) Each yellow packet, decorated with the
    American flag, contained: rice, peanut butter, bean salad, strawberry jam,
    crackers, raisins, flat bread, an apple fruit bar, seasoning, matches, a
    set of plastic cutlery, a serviette and illustrated user instructions.

    After three years of unremitting drought, an air-dropped airline meal in
    Jalalabad! The level of cultural ineptitude, the failure to understand what
    months of relentless hunger and grinding poverty really mean, the US
    government's attempt to use even this abject misery to boost its
    self-image, beggars description.

    Reverse the scenario for a moment. Imagine if the Taliban government was to
    bomb New York City, saying all the while that its real target was the US
    government and its policies. And suppose, during breaks between the
    bombing, the Taliban dropped a few thousand packets containing nan and
    kababs impaled on an Afghan flag.

    Would the good people of New York ever find it in themselves to forgive the
    Afghan government? Even if they were hungry, even if they needed the food,
    even if they ate it, how would they ever forget the insult, the
    condescension? Rudy Giuliani, Mayor of New York City, returned a gift of
    $10 million from a Saudi prince because it came with a few words of
    friendly advice about American policy in the Middle East. Is pride a luxury
    only the rich are entitled to?

    Far from stamping it out, igniting this kind of rage is what creates
    terrorism. Hate and retribution don't go back into the box once you've let
    them out. For every 'terrorist' or his 'supporter' that is killed, hundreds
    of innocent people are being killed too. And for every hundred innocent
    people killed, there is a good chance that several future terrorists will
    be created.

    Where will it all lead?

    Setting aside the rhetoric for a moment, consider the fact that the world
    has not yet found an acceptable definition of what 'terrorism' is. One
    country's terrorist is too often another's freedom fighter. At the heart of
    the matter lies the world's deep-seated ambivalence towards violence. Once
    violence is accepted as a legitimate political instrument, then the
    morality and political acceptability of terrorists (insurgents or freedom
    fighters) becomes contentious, bumpy terrain.

    The US government itself has funded, armed and sheltered plenty of rebels
    and insurgents around the world. The CIA and Pakistan's ISI trained and
    armed the mujahideen who, in the '80s, were seen as terrorists by the
    government in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. While President Reagan posed
    with them for a group portrait and called them the moral equivalents of
    America's founding fathers. Today, Pakistan-America's ally in this new
    war-sponsors insurgents who cross the border into Kashmir in India.

    Pakistan lauds them as 'freedom fighters', India calls them 'terrorists'.
    India, for its part, denounces countries who sponsor and abet terrorism,
    but the Indian army has, in the past, trained separatist Tamil rebels
    asking for a homeland in Sri Lanka-the LTTE, responsible for countless acts
    of bloody terrorism. (Just as the CIA abandoned the mujahideen after they
    had served its purpose, India abruptly turned its back on the LTTE for a
    host of political reasons. It was an enraged LTTE suicide-bomber who
    assassinated former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.)

    It is important for governments and politicians to understand that
    manipulating these huge, raging human feelings for their own narrow
    purposes may yield instant results, but eventually and inexorably, they
    have disastrous consequences. Igniting and exploiting religious sentiments
    for reasons of political expediency is the most dangerous legacy that
    governments or politicians can bequeath to any people-including their own.
    People who live in societies ravaged by religious or communal bigotry know
    that every religious text-from the Bible to the Bhagwad Gita-can be mined
    and misinterpreted to justify anything, from nuclear war to genocide to
    corporate globalisation.

    This is not to suggest that the terrorists who perpetrated the outrage on
    September 11 should not be hunted down and brought to book. They must be.
    But is war the best way to track them down? Will burning the haystack find
    you the needle? Or will it escalate the anger and make the world a living
    hell for all of us? At the end of the day, how many people can you spy on,
    how many bank accounts can you freeze, how many conversations can you
    eavesdrop on, how many e-mails can you intercept, how many letters can you
    open, how many phones can you tap? Even before September 11, the CIA had
    accumulated more information than is humanly possible to process.

    (Sometimes, too much data can actually hinder intelligence-small wonder the
    US spy satellites completely missed the preparation that preceded India's
    nuclear tests in 1998.)

    The sheer scale of the surveillance will become a logistical, ethical and
    civil rights nightmare. It will drive everybody clean crazy. And
    freedom-that precious, precious thing-will be the first casualty. It's
    already hurt and haemorrhaging dangerously.

    Governments across the world are cynically using the prevailing paranoia to
    promote their own interests. All kinds of unpredictable political forces
    are being unleashed. In India, for instance, members of the All India
    People's Resistance Forum, who were distributing anti-war and anti-US
    pamphlets in Delhi, have been jailed. Even the printer of the leaflets was
    arrested. The right-wing government (while it shelters Hindu extremists
    groups like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal) has banned the
    Students' Islamic Movement of India and is trying to revive an
    anti-terrorist act which had been withdrawn after the Human Rights
    Commission reported that it had been more abused than used. Millions of
    Indian citizens are Muslim. Can anything be gained by alienating them?

    Every day that the war goes on, raging emotions are being let loose into
    the world. The international press has little or no independent access to
    the war zone. In any case, mainstream media, particularly in the US, has
    more or less rolled over, allowing itself to be tickled on the stomach with
    press hand-outs from militarymen and government officials.

    Afghan radio stations have been destroyed by the bombing. The Taliban has
    always been deeply suspicious of the Press. In the propaganda war, there is
    no accurate estimate of how many people have been killed, or how much
    destruction has taken place. In the absence of reliable information, wild
    rumours spread.

    Put your ear to the ground in this part of the world, and you can hear the
    thrumming, the deadly drumbeat of burgeoning anger. Please. Please, stop the
    war now. Enough people have died. The smart missiles are just not smart
    enough. They're blowing up whole warehouses of suppressed fury.

    President George Bush recently boasted: "When I take action, I'm not going
    to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the
    butt. It's going to be decisive." President Bush should know that there are
    no targets in Afghanistan that will give his missiles their money's worth.
    Perhaps, if only to balance his books, he should develop some cheaper
    missiles to use on cheaper targets and cheaper lives in the poor countries
    of the world. But then, that may not make good business sense to the
    Coalition's weapons manufacturers. It wouldn't make any sense at all, for
    example, to the Carlyle Group-described by the Industry Standard as 'the
    world's largest private equity firm', with $12 billion under management.
    Carlyle invests in the defence sector and makes its money from military
    conflicts and weapons spending.

    Carlyle is run by men with impeccable credentials. Former US defence
    secretary Frank Carlucci is Carlyle's chairman and managing director (he
    was a college roommate of Donald Rumsfeld's). Carlyle's other partners
    include former US secretary of state James A. Baker III, George Soros, Fred
    Malek (George Bush Sr's campaign manager). An American paper-the Baltimore
    Chronicle and Sentinel-says that former President George Bush Sr is
    reported to be seeking investments for the Carlyle Group from Asian
    markets. He is reportedly paid not inconsiderable sums of money to make
    'presentations' to potential government-clients.

    Ho Hum. As the tired saying goes, it's all in the family.

    Then there's that other branch of traditional family business-oil.
    Remember, President George Bush (Jr) and Vice-President Dick Cheney both
    made their fortunes working in the US oil industry.

    Turkmenistan, which borders the northwest of Afghanistan, holds the world's
    third largest gas reserves and an estimated six billion barrels of oil
    reserves. Enough, experts say, to meet American energy needs for the next
    30 years (or a developing country's energy requirements for a couple of
    centuries.) America has always viewed oil as a security consideration, and
    protected it by any means it deems necessary. Few of us doubt that its
    military presence in the Gulf has little to do with its concern for human
    rights and almost entirely to do with its strategic interest in oil.

    Oil and gas from the Caspian region currently moves northward to European
    markets. Geographically and politically, Iran and Russia are major
    impediments to American interests. In 1998, Dick Cheney-then CEO of
    Halliburton, a major player in the oil industry-said: "I can't think of a
    time when we've had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically
    significant as the Caspian. It's almost as if the opportunities have arisen
    overnight." True enough.

    For some years now, an American oil giant called Unocal has been
    negotiating with the Taliban for permission to construct an oil pipeline
    through Afghanistan to Pakistan and out to the Arabian Sea. From here,
    Unocal hopes to access the lucrative 'emerging markets' in South and
    Southeast Asia. In December 1997, a delegation of Taliban mullahs travelled
    to America and even met US State Department officials and Unocal executives
    in Houston.At that time the Taliban's taste for public executions and its
    treatment of Afghan women were not made out to be the crimes against
    humanity that they are now. Over the next six months, pressure from hundreds
    of outraged American feminist groups was brought to bear on the Clinton
    administration. Fortunately, they managed to scuttle the deal. And now
    comes the US oil industry's big chance.

    In America, the arms industry, the oil industry, the major media networks,
    and, indeed, US foreign policy, are all controlled by the same business
    combines. Therefore, it would be foolish to expect this talk of guns and
    oil and defence deals to get any real play in the media. In any case, to a
    distraught, confused people whose pride has just been wounded, whose loved
    ones have been tragically killed, whose anger is fresh and sharp, the
    inanities about the 'Clash of Civilisations' and the 'Good vs Evil'
    discourse home in unerringly. They are cynically doled out by government
    spokesmen like a daily dose of vitamins or anti-depressants. Regular
    medication ensures that mainland America continues to remain the enigma it
    has always been-a curiously insular people, administered by a
    pathologically meddlesome, promiscuous government.

    And what of the rest of us, the numb recipients of this onslaught of what
    we know to be preposterous propaganda? The daily consumers of the lies and
    brutality smeared in peanut butter and strawberry jam being air-dropped
    into our minds just like those yellow food packets. Shall we look away and
    eat because we're hungry, or shall we stare unblinking at the grim theatre
    unfolding in Afghanistan until we retch collectively and say, in one voice,
    that we have had enough?

    As the first year of the new millennium rushes to a close, one wonders-have
    we forfeited our right to dream? Will we ever be able to re-imagine beauty?
    Will it be possible ever again to watch the slow, amazed blink of a
    new-born gecko in the sun, or whisper back to the marmot who has just
    whispered in your ear-without thinking of the World Trade Center and

    Anti-war resources:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/studentsnowar/files (members only)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Wed Oct 31 2001 - 15:59:06 EST