---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 16:45:12 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Antiwar News...(# 22)
(Anti-war links/resources at the end.)
Afghan death toll mounts as US warplanes hit civilian targets
By Patrick Martin
23 October 2001
As many as a hundred people were killed when US and British warplanes
bombed and destroyed a hospital in the western Afghan city of Herat, the
ruling Taliban government in Kabul claimed Monday. The Pentagon did not
initially deny the report, which came after some of the heaviest air raids
of the 16-day war, on the night of October 21-22. Doctors, nurses and
patients were said to be among the dead.
Citing Taliban sources, the French news service Agence France Presse
reported that the hospital in Herat was full of staff and patients when it
was struck by a US bomb during an overnight raid on the city. The
casualties were "very high," AFP said.
Earlier the Afghan news agency Bakhtar reported that US planes bombed the
Nawabad section of Herat, destroying five houses and killing eight to ten
Another attack Sunday left 18 dead and 35 wounded in Tarin Kot, capital of
Uruzgan province north of Kandahar. Five separate attacks took place, and
two health clinics were hit in the town.
The civilian death toll now stands at more than 1,000, according to reports
issued by the Taliban government and verified at least in part by
journalists working inside the country. Anecdotal accounts derived from
interviews with Afghan refugees fleeing the war zone into Pakistan also
confirm the claims of heavy damage to civilian targets and large loss of life.
The Washington Post, in two dispatches from its correspondent in Quetta,
Pakistan, reported a huge surge of refugees from southern Afghanistan after
the stepped up air strikes around Kandahar, with more than 3,500 crossing
the border October 18. The refugees described widespread civilian
casualties in Kandahar. The Post account concluded:
"As reports of civilian casualties and other mistakes mount in America's
war in the skies over Afghanistan, a growing number of Afghans from
different backgrounds and political persuasions are questioning whether the
United States is conducting a war against terrorism and Afghanistan's
ruling Taliban militia or against the Afghan people."
Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, told a press conference
in Islamabad Monday, "It is now clear that American planes are targeting
the Afghan people." He pointed to the remarkable series of "mistakes" by
the US military, which has hit a UN de-mining office, a Red Cross
warehouse, a World Food Program building and other clearly marked health
care and relief facilities, culminating in the destruction of the second
largest hospital in Herat, a large city near the border with Iran.
On October 17, six agencies called for a "pause" in the US bombing, warning
that about 400,000 Afghans would run out of food within a month if aid
deliveries are unable to proceed.
Unreported by either side in the war are the casualties among Taliban
soldiers, who are increasingly the focus of the US and British
attacks. There were intense air strikes against Taliban positions
defending the key northwest city of Mazar-e-Sharif, and the first
significant bombing of the major Taliban troop concentrations north of Kabul.
A Taliban government spokesman said that there were indications that US
forces were using chemical and biological agents, with many wounded people
suffering apparent poisoning. Abdul Hanan Himat of the Information Ministry
told the British news service 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 same
official told AFP, "There are signs of intoxication and doctors suspect
that it may be because of chemical or biological weapons."
The Bush administration and the Pentagon, as they have since the air war
began, dismissed all Taliban claims of civilian casualties as lies. There
has been no official US estimate of civilian casualties, other than a
ludicrous claim by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that there have been
only four confirmed deaths, those of four security guards killed when an
American cruise missile slammed into the office of UN mine-clearing group
Top military officers in command of the air war made little attempt to
disguise the savagery of the bombing campaign. Rear Admiral Mark
Fitzgerald, commander of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in the
Arabian Sea, declared, "Our strategy has shifted from attacking operational
targets such as airfields, air defenses, communication nodes, to tactical
targets such as tanks and troops in the field that support the war-fighting
capability. We are striking targets. We are killing people on the ground.
That's what war is all about."
There was incontrovertible evidence of errant US bombing Monday, when four
photographers for Western news services witnessed US fighter jets drop two
bombs on positions of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. Two F-16s struck
Northern Alliance observation posts, and the opposition soldiers asked the
journalists to "call the Americans and tell them they were making a
mistake," said one photographer. The four witnesses included three
Americans, one working for the New York Times, and a Spanish photographer
working for the New York-based Newsday.
The Pentagon flatly denied Taliban claims that two US helicopters had been
shot down in the course of the weekend raid by Special Forces troops on
targets in Kandahar, but admitted that one helicopter had crashed in
Pakistan, killing two soldiers and wounding three. US officials called the
crash accidental rather than due to enemy fire.
As for the second helicopter, the Arab television station Al-Jazeera showed
film of wreckage found in the southern province of Helmand, near the border
with Pakistan. The debris included tires and a chunk of metal stamped with
the words "Boeing" and "Philadelphia, Pennsylvania," the site of a major
helicopter factory. One chunk of metal was described by experts as the
nosewheel of a Ch-47 Chinook helicopter.
The Special Forces raid involved more than 100 US Army Rangers and smaller
numbers of Delta Force commandos who were dispatched to the residence of
Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar with instructions to assassinate him.
The Washington Post reported that President Bush has signed a National
Security Directive authorizing the CIA to assassinate both Omar and Osama
bin Laden, and authorizing the agency to spend an additional $1 billion to
carry out this task.
More and bigger raids are expected. More than 2,000 US troops are on the
ground in Pakistan, according to press reports, deployed in three airbases
near the Afghanistan border. They are using the airports of Jacobabad and
Pasni as logistical bases and the airport of Dalbandin, nearest to the
border, as a forward operational base.
As the Refugees Crowd the Borders, We'll Be Blaming Someone Else
'It is palpably evident that they are not fleeing the Taliban but our bombs
by Robert Fisk
Published on Tuesday, October 23, 2001 in the Independent/UK
Mullah Mohammed Omar's 10-year-old son is dead. He was, according to Afghan
refugees fleeing Kandahar, taken to one of the city's broken hospitals by
his father, the Taliban leader and "Emir of the Faithful", but the boy
apparently traveling in Omar's car when it was attacked by US aircraft
died of his wounds.
No regrets, of course. Back in 1985, when American aircraft bombed Libya,
they also destroyed the life of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's six-year-old
adopted daughter. No regrets, of course. In 1992, when an Israeli pilot
flying an American-made Apache helicopter fired an American-made missile
into the car of Said Abbas Moussawi, head of the Hizbollah guerrilla army in
Lebanon, the Israeli pilot also killed Moussawi's 10-year-old. No regrets,
Whether these children deserved their deaths, be sure that their fathers
in our eyes were to blame. Live by the sword, die by the sword and that
goes for the kids too. Back in 1991, The Independent revealed that American
Gulf War military targets included "secure" bunkers in which members of
Saddam Hussein's family or the families of his henchmen were believed to
be hiding. That's how the Americans managed to slaughter well over 300
people in an air raid shelter at Amariya in Baghdad. No Saddam kids, just
civilians. Too bad. I wonder now that President George Bush has given
permission to the CIA to murder Osama bin Laden if the same policy applies
And so the casualties begin to mount. From Kandahar come ever more frightful
stories of civilians buried under ruins, of children torn to pieces by
American bombs. The Taliban and here the Americans must breathe a
collective sigh of relief refuse to allow Western journalists to enter the
country to verify these reports. So when a few television crews were able to
find 18 fresh graves in the devastated village of Khorum outside Jalalabad
just over a week ago, the US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could
ridicule the deaths as "ridiculous". But not, I suspect, for much longer.
For if each of our wars for infinite justice and eternal freedom have a
familiar trade mark the military claptrap about air superiority,
suppression of "command and control centers", radar capabilities each has
an awkward, highly exclusive little twist to it. In 1999, NATO claimed it
was waging war to put Kosovo Albanian refugees back in their homes even
though most of the refugees were still in their homes when the war began.
Our bombing of Serbia led directly to their dispossession. We bear a heavy
burden of responsibility for their suffering since the Serbs had told us
what they would do if NATO opened hostilities although the ultimate blame
for their "ethnic cleansing'' clearly belonged to Slobodan Milosevic.
But NATO's escape clause won't work this time round. For as the Afghan
refugees turn up in their thousands at the border, it is palpably evident
that they are fleeing not the Taliban but our bombs and missiles. The
Taliban is not ethnically cleansing its own Pashtun population. The refugees
speak vividly of their fear and terror as our bombs fall on their cities.
These people are terrified of our "war on terror'', victims as innocent as
those who were slaughtered in the World Trade Center on 11 September. So
where do we stop?
It's an important question because, once the winter storms breeze down the
mountain gorges of Afghanistan, a tragedy is likely to commence, one which
no spin doctor or propaganda expert will be able to divert. We'll say that
the thousands about to die or who are dying of starvation and cold are
victims of the Taliban's intransigence or the Taliban's support for
"terrorism" or the Taliban's propensity to steal humanitarian supplies.
I have to admit having been weaned on Israel's promiscuous use of the word
"terror" every time a Palestinian throws a stone at his occupiers that I
find the very word "terrorism" increasingly mendacious as well as racist. Of
course despite the slavish use of the phrase "war on terrorism" on the BBC
and CNN it is nothing of the kind. We are not planning to attack Tamil
Tiger suicide bombers or ETA killers or Real IRA murderers or Kurdish KDP
guerrillas. Indeed, the US has spent a lot of time supporting terrorists in
Latin America the Contras spring to mind not to mention the rabble we
are now bombing in Afghanistan. This is, as I've said before, a war on
America's enemies. Increasingly, as the date of 11 September acquires iconic
status, we are retaliating for the crimes against humanity in New York and
Washington. But we're not setting up any tribunals to try those responsible.
The figure of 6,000 remains as awesome as it did in the days that followed.
But what happens when the deaths for which we are responsible begin to
approach the same figure? Refugees have been telling me on the Pakistan
border that the death toll from our bombings in Afghanistan is in the
dozens, perhaps the hundreds. Once the UN agencies give us details of the
starving and the destitute who are dying in their flight from our bombs, it
won't take long to reach 6,000. Will that be enough? Will 12,000 dead
Afghans appease us, albeit that they have nothing to do with the Taliban or
Osama bin Laden? Or 24,000? If we think we know what our aims are in this
fraudulent "war against terror", have we any idea of proportion?
Sure, we'll blame the Taliban for future tragedies. Just as we've been
blaming them for drug exports from Afghanistan. Tony Blair was at the
forefront of the Taliban-drug linkage. And all we have to do to believe this
is to forget the UN Drug Control Program's announcement last week that opium
production in Afghanistan has fallen by 94 per cent, chiefly due to Mullah
Omar's prohibition in Taliban-controlled areas. Most of Afghanistan's
current opium production comes you've guessed it from our friends in the
This particular war is, as Mr Bush said, going to be "unlike any other"
but not in quite the way he thinks. It's not going to lead to justice. Or
freedom. It's likely to culminate in deaths that will diminish in magnitude
even the crime against humanity on 11 September. Do we have any plans for
this? Can we turn the falsity of a "war against terror" into a war against
famine and starvation and death, even at the cost of postponing our day of
reckoning with Osama bin Laden?
US jets accidentally bomb anti-Taliban positions.
AFP. 22 October 2001.
BAGRAM -- United States fighter jets on Monday mistakenly bombed
opposition posts during their third raid on Taliban frontlines north of
the Afghan capital Kabul, witnesses told AFP.
Four photographers were in an opposition post when two F-16's screamed
overhead. They said they saw at least two bombs land near opposition
posts and another on a Taliban-controlled area near Qalai Nasru, west of
Bagram airbase and situated some 45 kilometres (28 miles) north of
Opposition soldiers accompanying the photographers briefly fled their
positions after the strikes, which came the day after Washington had
called on the Northern Alliance to be more aggressive in fighting the
"They asked us if we had a telephone to call the Americans and tell
them they were making a mistake," said Ron Haviv, a US national working
for the Paris-based Agency VII.
The other photographers who witnessed the strike close up were Peter
Blakely, a US national working for the Saba agency, Tyler Hicks, a US
national with the New York Times and Moises Saman, a Spanish national
working for Newsday.
They said they were around 75 metres (250 feet) from where one of the
bombs hit a Northern Alliance post, one of a string of positions set up
in a maze of mud walls and fields here.
"Maybe they have made a mistake," explained a local commander, Sayed Mir
Shah. "We received two bombs on our side, the others were on the
He said there were no casualties among the opposition troops.
Two fighter jets circled several times over the frontlines and were seen
dropping three bombs at around 4:20 pm (11:50 GMT) as Taliban fighters
responded with light anti-aircraft fire.
The first attack on the Taliban's frontline positions defending the
Afghan capital was late on October 16 and in the early hours of October
17, when a convoy of Taliban troops and a militia post were struck by
The second raid was Sunday, when five bombs struck the Taliban's lines.
The Taliban have concentrated thousands of troops north of Kabul, and
witnesses have reported seeing convoys of additional militiamen
travelling to the lines to evade US-led strikes on Kabul.
General Baba Jan, opposition commander at the Bagram airbase, said the
strikes had yet to have any major effect on the Taliban line.
"America thinks that a few days of bombing will defeat the Taliban. We
have been fighting for 23 years and we have yet to bring peace to
Afghanistan," he said.
No senior opposition officials were immediately available for comment
after Monday's apparently botched jet attack.
Footage of US massacre in Afghanistan
The Taliban has allowed British journalists to film the site of a village that
was leveled by U.S. bombs. It can only be described as a massacre. Here is
the link to the video: ( 6 min, 17.5 sec.)
Pentagon hires image firm to explain airstrikes to world
U.S. TRYING TO REVERSE RISE IN MUSLIMS' OUTRAGE
BY WARREN P. STROBEL
AND JONATHAN S. LANDAY
Mercury News Washington Bureau
Published Friday, Oct. 19, 2001, in the San Jose Mercury News
WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon has hired a well-known Washington
public-relations firm to help it explain U.S. military strikes in
Afghanistan to global audiences, U.S. officials confirmed Thursday.
It's part of a broader Bush administration campaign to try to reverse a
rising tide of opposition in the Islamic world.
The firm, the Rendon Group, has worked in the past for U.S. government
agencies, including the CIA, which paid it to boost the image of the Iraqi
National Congress, a U.S.-backed group of Iraqis opposed to the rule of
President Saddam Hussein.
That effort in the mid-'90s ended with an investigation by the CIA's
inspector general over how a reported $23 million was spent on behalf of the
Iraqi National Congress and its leader, Ahmed Chalabi, current and former
intelligence officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
For the anti-terrorism public-relations war, the Pentagon is paying Rendon
to monitor news media in 79 countries; conduct focus groups; create a
counterterrorism Web site that will provide information on terrorist groups
and the U.S. campaign against terrorism; and recommend ways the U.S.
military can counter disinformation and improve its own public
``The war on terrorism started without notice,'' said Lt. Col. Kenneth
McClellan, a Pentagon press officer. ``We needed a firm that could provide
strategic counsel immediately. We were interested in someone that we knew
could come in quickly and help us orient to the challenge of communicating
to a wide range of groups around the world.''
McClellan said the initial contract, awarded without bidding, is for
$397,000 and lasts 120 days, with an option to extend it for up to one year.
Officials at the company declined comment, citing a confidentiality
agreement in the contract.
The Bush administration has been widely criticized, both at home and abroad,
for being slow to realize the importance of images in the war on terrorism.
It is struggling to counter a widespread perception in the Islamic world
that the war in Afghanistan is a war on Islam and that the United States is
indifferent to civilian casualties.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said earlier this week, ``To the extent we
need to do a better job to make sure that people are not confused as to what
this is about, then we darn well ought to do a better job.''
``We are clearly losing the `hearts and minds' issue,'' said one official
involved in the administration spin effort, describing it as ``not a very
well-organized effort.'' The official requested anonymity.
In recent days, the administration has dispatched waves of officials for
international television interviews, particularly on the widely watched Arab
station Al-Jazeera. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has appeared
on Metro TV in Indonesia, where anti-American protests have been widespread,
and Great Britain's ITN.
But initial analyses indicate that the outreach effort still has a long way
An Al-Jazeera interview of Bush national security adviser Condoleezza Rice
``continued to garner significant press attention,'' but Arabic press
commentators in Morocco and Saudi Arabia ``found nothing new,'' said a State
Department review of foreign media reporting Thursday.
``They claimed that the U.S. is offering Arabs a `false equation,' i.e. the
war against terrorism is not against Islam or Arabs -- nevertheless, it is
Muslims and Arabs who will have to pay for Sept. 11,'' the review said.
The choice of the Rendon Group to advise the Pentagon may not be a
coincidence, given its past work on behalf of the Iraqi opposition
YOU WROTE WHAT? ON A BOMB?
From Holt Uncensored #275
Friday, October 26, 2001
You've probably read the news stories about military personnel writing
messages on bombs before dropping them on Afghanistan.
For example, initials "FDNY" were used to dedicate the bomb on which
they were written to New York firefighters; "Anthrax THIS" was a bit
more aggressive in its assumption that anthrax-laden envelopes are being
mailed by terrorists rather than by "copy-cat crazies," as Susan Sontag
But did you hear about the Associated Press photo that went out on the
wire October 11 but was "quickly pulled when voices rose in protest,"
according to Bob Roehr of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender newspaper
Bay Area Reporter?
The statement that was photographed - scrawled in large chalk letters
on the nose of the bomb aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise,
which was cruising in the Arabian Sea - read "HIGH JACK THIS FAGS."
Hm. Not one of your more articulate statements - certainly the word
"hijack" might have been submitted to some kind of bomb spellcheck, and
use of a comma before FAGS might have turned up on grammarcheck, but the
message was clear:
To really rile 'em in the trenches - in case the enemy looks up in time
to see the bomb descending and can read English well enough to figure
out misspellings and omissions of punctuation - our fighting forces
couldn't accuse Osama bin Laden's followers of anything more hateful
than being a bunch of fairies in the desert.
Of course, "the message is insulting and inappropriate," and "in clear
violation of the United States military's stated policy on harassment
and morale," according to Saharra E. Greer, legal director of the
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which led the protests against it.
And, too, "the Navy was 'stupid' for having let the photo be sent off
the ship through its communication facilities," Roehr quotes openly gay
Arizona state Representative Steve May.
But what incensed GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against
Defamation, was the hasty manner in which Associated press pulled the
photo off the wire.
"This image should be explained and discussed, not hidden from view,"
said GLAAD executive director Joan M. Garry.
"By pulling the photo rather than exploring its content and context, the
AP sends the message that anti-gay bias should be swept under the rug,
not exposed and confronted."
If we're gonna have freedom of expression, let's go all the way. It's
interesting that the really foul racial epithets weren't used;
apparently they were even too reprehensible for Navy personnel - or at
least in terms of showing them to Associated Press photographers. But
it's meaningful why "fags" got through, so let's talk about it. What
could be the harm?
During several exchanges, GLAAD tried to convince AP that a real story
existed in a behind-the-scenes report on acceptable vs. prohibited slang
on an armed missile, and how photographers from a wire service like the
AP are invited to take pictures of it without anybody "noticing" that
something might be wrong.
"If a picture's worth a thousand words," Garry said, "the one word in
this picture is certainly worth a story."
War Details Remain Secret for Years
AP; Reuters. 22 October 2001.
Anti-Terrorism War Could Last Years - UK Military.
WASHINGTON and MUSCAT -- A decade later, Americans still don't know how
far special operations forces went inside Iraq during the Gulf War. Some
parts of the fighting in Kosovo and Vietnam -- even Korea -- remain
Even in conventional wars, the secrets are many.
In the war against terrorism, where special operations forces play a
crucial, almost unprecedented role, the public may never learn more than
a sliver of what happens inside Afghanistan.
"If they catch someone on the most-wanted terrorist list, they might
eventually acknowledge that," said John Pike, a military and
intelligence analyst in Washington. "But not quickly. Anybody they'll
catch, they're going to want to interrogate first" in secret, to help
And when American special ops soldiers die? "They'll tell us that," Pike
said. "But they may not say where -- or how."
Saturday's overnight raids by 100 airborne Army Rangers and other
special forces into southern Afghanistan were the first publicly
acknowledged covert missions of the war -- and a bit of an anomaly.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday that no prisoners were
[N.B.] But he said officials would never again provide such detail.
U.S. officials would not say what the raid's objectives were, beyond
gathering "useful intelligence" on the movements of Taliban leaders,
specifically leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. They wouldn't say what they
found, beyond a cache of weapons and documents. They said two soldiers
were killed in a helicopter crash in neighboring Pakistan, but provided
almost no details.
Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said troops were
still conducting secret operations inside Afghanistan -- including some
operations that will be kept secret even when they're over.
"Some of the invisible operations we will provide information on," said
Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"There will be other invisible operations where we will not say a
Americans were so outraged by the attacks on the World Trade Center and
Pentagon that they will give the military much leeway to wage war, and
will not demand constant accounting, said Ivo Daalder of the Brookings
But over time, "If people don't get a sense of movement, that this is
the direction things are headed, they are going to get extraordinarily
antsy," said Dan Goure, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute.
The military will announce its successes, most believe, perhaps omitting
details of how they happened. But secrecy also allows officials to hide
bad news, at least temporarily.
They might wait to announce troop deaths, for example, until they also
can announce positive results.
Goure noted that many military operations, both special ops and
conventional, become public only when former soldiers tell war stories
-- sometimes decades later.
[N.B.] Details of the killing of refugees at No Gun Ri by Army troops in
1950 took a half-century to surface, Goure said.
[N.B.] Information about Sen. Bob Kerrey's actions as a Navy SEAL in
Vietnam came out more than 30 years later.
Stories of special ops teams hunting Scud missile sites in the Gulf War
have appeared, but there has been no hard information about how far the
teams went into Iraq.
It's still unclear where all the Apache helicopters were based during
the Kosovo air campaign, Pike said.
All of that secrecy will be magnified in Afghanistan -- and beyond.
"Here, almost everything we do will be behind the line of secrecy,"
Meanwhile, Britain's military chiefs said on Monday that the
international war on terrorism could go on for years and they are
planning for the long haul.
The stark assessment was made by Air Force and Navy commanders who flew
into Oman for operation Swift Sword, Britain's biggest military exercise
since the 1982 Falklands War.
It was planned as a war game but now looks increasingly like a dress
rehearsal for the real thing.
Rear Admiral Alan West's assessment was blunt: "I have taken the prime
minister (Tony Blair) at his word that it will go on for years because I
think it will. I have looked at how to maintain levels of commitment for
Air Chief Marshal Sir John Day, commander-in-chief of the Royal Air
Force strike command, agreed: "We are into a long haul but it will
depend on what the government decides it wants to do as its
Operation Swift Sword, which has been four years in the planning [N.B.],
has brought more than 20,000 British troops to this Arabian peninsula
nation just as U.S. and British forces go to war over Afghanistan 600
miles to the north.
Taliban accuse U.S. of 'genocide'
October 22, 2001
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Accusing the United States of "genocide" the
Taliban authorities in Afghanistan said Monday that U.S. aircraft had bombed
a hospital in the western city of Herat, killing up to 100 people.
"It is now clear that America plans on intentionally targeting the Afghan
people," Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan said
He said the dead in Herat included doctors, nurses as well as patients.
Eighteen others were killed when U.S. planes struck two clinics and shops in
other parts of the country, "located far from military places," he added.
Neither claim could be independently verified.
Speaking to reporters in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, Zaeef said the
killing of civilians was a terrorist act on par with the attacks on the
World Trade Center in New York.
"[The] Bush administration is annoying the souls of those killed in New York
by killing innocent men, women and children in Afghanistan," he said.
"In attacking our country on mere suspicions, [the] CIA and FBI have escaped
their failure to find the real culprit by putting the blame squarely on
Afghanistan without any evidence."
The Pentagon said it would investigate the Taliban's claims.
Zaeef said 1,000 Afghans had been killed in the U.S.-led airstrikes since
they began more than two weeks ago.
But he added: "We are telling the Bush administration that you will never be
able to break the will and determination of the Afghans," Zaeef said. "This
is a nation that loves independence and faith more than its life."
"The goal is to punish the Afghan nation for having chosen an Islamic
system," the envoy added.
"America is using, against the Afghan people, sophisticated and destructive
weapons that have never been used before in any war."
Earlier Monday in Kandahar, the Taliban showed CNN and other news
organizations parts of what they said were two U.S. helicopters that were
Zaeef did not present any new evidence to back Taliban claims that it shot
down two U.S. helicopters, but simply repeated the craft had been downed.
The Pentagon has vehemently denied losing any aircraft.
The parts provided for the TV crew were primarily landing gear with markings
in English. Boeing and Loud Engineering could be read on one piece of the
The CNN crew was not taken to the alleged crash site.
When asked what happened to the remains of those who may have been aboard
the helicopter, Zaeef said he did not know but said the soldiers were dead.
U.S. weaponry has been used in various Afghanistan conflicts for decades and
U.S. military hardware has long been available throughout the region.
Taliban officials said the parts came from an area near one of Taliban
leader Mullah Mohammed Omar's compounds.
They said they could not take reporters to the crash site because they said
the area was unsafe due to landmines.
Officials also said they were afraid a group of people standing out in the
open would be a target for U.S.-led airstrikes.
CNN has not been able to independently confirm the source of the parts shown
by the Taliban.
UN Set to Appeal for Halt in the Bombing
by Jason Burke in Peshawar
Published on Sunday, October 21, 2001 in the Observer of London
The United Nations is set to issue an unprecedented appeal to the United
States and its coalition allies to halt the war on Afghanistan and allow
time for a huge relief operation.
UN sources in Pakistan said growing concern over the deteriorating
humanitarian situation in the country - in part, they say, caused by the
relentless bombing campaign - has forced them to take the radical step. Aid
officials estimate that up to 7.5 million Afghans might be threatened with
'The situation is completely untenable inside Afghanistan. We really need
to get our point across here and have to be very bold in doing it. Unless
the [US air] strikes stop, there will be a huge number of deaths,' one UN
The move will embarrass Clare Short, the International Development
Secretary, who said last week that there was no 'cause and effect' between
the bombing and the ability of aid agencies to deliver much-needed food and
Aid workers yesterday strongly rejected Short's statements. 'Basically the
bombing makes it difficult to get enough supplies in. It is as simple as
that,' an Islamabad-based
aid official told The Observer .
Dominic Nutt, a spokesman for the British charity Christian Aid, called
Short's remarks sickening. 'Needy people are being put at risk by
government spin-doctors who are showing a callous disregard for life,' he
said. 'To say that there is no link is not just misleading but profoundly
dangerous.' Christian Aid report 600 people have already died in the
Dar-e-Suf region of northern Afghanistan due to starvation, malnutrition
and related diseases.
Other agencies confirmed that the sick, the young and the old are already
dying in refugee camps around the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
The World Food Program has calculated that 52,000 tons of wheat must be
distributed in Afghanistan each month to stave off mass starvation. Since
the aid program was restarted - on 25 September - only 20,000 tons have
been supplied and 15,000 distributed. The concern is that the coming winter
will make relief efforts more difficult. The first snows have already
fallen on the Hindu Kush mountains and the isolated highlands of Hazarajat.
But though the WFP is accelerating the supply of food, it says it is
unlikely to be able to bring in more than two-thirds of what is required.
And it is clear that little aid is reaching the most remote areas where the
need is greatest.
A new assessment by aid workers on the ground in Afghanistan will be
presented to UN co-ordinators in Islamabad this week. It shows that the
effects of the three-year drought that has hit Afghanistan are far worse
than previously thought. Areas in the north-east are of particular concern.
In the western city of Herat food deliveries are barely keeping up with
demand from the 1,000 people a day who are arriving at refugee camps.
'We are getting a significant amount of food into the country and we are
desperately trying to get it to more remote areas. The usual distribution
networks are hugely disrupted. At the moment a trickle is getting through,'
said Michael Huggins, a spokesman for the WFP.
He said the WFP operation was hampered by a lack of truck drivers willing
to carry food through Afghanistan because of the bombing raids, high fuel
prices and communication difficulties.
The Taliban have also caused problems for aid agencies. A series of offices
have been looted in major cities, prompting French agency Mdecins Sans
Frontires to shut down its entire Afghan operation. There have been a
number of attempts to steal vehicles from aid agencies. The Taliban have
also delayed relief convoys by demanding high taxes on their passage.
Although the expected influx of refugees to Pakistan has yet to occur,
there are signs of larger shifts of population than before. The last three
days have seen more than 10,000 people cross the border from Afghanistan
around the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.
Refugees report a breakdown in law and order in Kandahar. 'It is impossible
to live there now,' one said.
Where the bodies are
by Geov Parrish - WorkingForChange
10.22.01 - Last week, when President Bush traveled to Shanghai for an APEC
meeting, his first venture outside the country since Sep. 11, a few American
reporters noted that some Chinese are skeptical of the current U.S. bombing
campaign in Afghanistan because of the "mistaken" U.S. strike of the Chinese
Embassy in Belgrade two years ago. The U.S. claimed it had relied on
But what virtually nobody -- at least in the United States -- has reported
is that in the two most publicized instances of civilian death in the
two-week-old Afghanistan campaign, the exact same thing appears to have
happened. And that's only the tip of the iceberg. As survivors and refugees,
and their stories, have begun to trickle into Pakistan, the scope of the
civilian destruction the U.S. is creating is only starting to become clear.
In the first abominable incident, four men died when the offices of a United
Nations agency, the Afghan Technical Consultants in Kabul, were bombed on
October 9. The Pentagon has said that the ATC was near a military radio
tower, but U.N. officials say the tower was a defunct and abandoned medium
and short wave radio station that hadn't been in operation for over a
decade. The ATC had even given its address to higher-up U.N. officials to
pass on to the U.S. military, so that it would be spared. One of the
victims, Abdul Saboor, had arrived only two hours before after volunteering
to make the perilous trip from Pakistan into Afghanistan on foot to deliver
much-needed cash salaries to U.N. employees so that they could eat. The cash
was incinerated along with the offices.
The second incident of mistaken identity was far worse. Independent
witnesses have now confirmed that in the northern village of Karam, between
100 and 200 people -- mostly women, children, and old people -- were killed
when bombers made repeated passes and flattened the village during early
evening prayers. This time, the Pentagon said that Karam was once a training
camp for Al-Qaeda. In fact, the site was used to train mujahideen during the
1980s and was run by Sadiq Bacha to train members of the Hezb-i-Islami
faction, with CIA support. Some of those men later joined the Taliban, but
the base was never used by Al-Qaeda. It was closed and abandoned in 1992,
before bin Laden moved to Afghanistan. In the 1990s, families moved in and
built mud and rock houses on the site. During the winter, nomads also made
Karam their temporary home.
Karam is now gone. It's impossible to know how many other villages have
shared its fate, since the Taliban have expelled all western reporters and
Pakistan has closed its border with Afghanistan, making it hard for
reporters to get into the country. Both the U.S. and the Taliban have
incentives to understate casualties. Pakistani border guards are beating
Afghani refugees with sticks and firing guns at them to keep them from
crossing into Pakistan, where their eyewitness accounts may further enrage
the Pakistani populace.
But a few are making it in, and the stories are leaking out, mostly in the
Islamic press but also in Europe -- but, notably, not in the United States.
Here is a small collection of the civilian deaths told to reporters so far.
None of these accounts come from Taliban sources; all are from refugees and
Western or Pakistani reporters.
In Jalalabad, the Sultanpur Mosque was hit by a bomb during prayers, with 17
people caught inside. Neighbors rushed into the rubble to help pull out the
injured, but as the rescue effort got under way, another bomb fell, killing
at least 120 people.
In the village of Darunta near Jalalabad, a U.S. bomb fell on another
mosque. Two people were killed and dozens--perhaps as many as 150
people--were injured. Many of those injured are languishing without medical
care in the Sehat-e-Ama hospital in Jalabad, which lacks resources to treat
More civilian deaths are being reported in the villages of Torghar and
Farmada, north and west of Jalalabad. At least 28 civilians had died in
Farmada, which has an abandoned Al-Qaeda training camp nearby.
In Argandab, north of Kandahar, 10 civilians have died from the bombing and
several houses have been destroyed. The same has happened in Karaga, north
A five-year-old child was killed while sleeping in his family's home outside
Kandahar when two bombs fell on a munitions storage area half a mile away.
The explosion threw shells and rockets in all directions and one of those
shells smashed through the mud-brick wall of his bedroom, slicing open young
Taj Muhammed's abdomen and burning his six-year-old sister, Kambibi. Taj
suffered for 12 hours at a nearby hospital before he died.
On Oct. 7, the first night of the bombing, at least one private residence in
Kabul suffered a direct hit and others were damaged. The U.S. also destroyed
the Hotel Continental in the city's center. On the same night, bombs were
dropped on the houses of Taliban leaders in Kandahar. Two civilian relatives
of Mullah Muhammad Omar were killed: his aged stepfather and his 10-year-old
On Oct. 8, the second night of the bombing, three missiles were aimed at the
airport in Jalalabad, but only one hit the target. The other two went astray
and exploded nearby, killing one civilian, and injuring a second so severely
that he was driven to a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, to have shrapnel
removed from a deep wound in his neck and his spinal injuries treated. He's
not expected to survive. A third 16-year-old boy injured in the same attack
was also taken to a hospital in Peshawar; he lost his leg and two fingers,
and he says that many more people were injured and may have died in the same
On Oct. 11, a bomb aimed at the Kabul airport went astray and hit
Qala-e-Chaman, a village one mile away, destroying several houses and
killing a 12-year-old child. On the same night, another missile hit a house
near the Kabul customs building, killing 10 civilians.
As of Oct. 12, the U.N. had independently reported at least 20 civilian
deaths in Mazar-i-Sharif and 10 civilian deaths in Kandahar.
On Oct. 13, Khushkam Bhat, a residential district between Jalalabad airport
and a nearby military area, was accidentally bombed by U.S. planes trying to
down a Taliban helicopter. More than 100 houses were flattened. At least 160
people were pulled from the rubble and taken to hospitals. In Kabul,
witnesses described a huge fireball over the Kabul airport, indicating
either the possible use of fuel-air bombs, which can cause destruction over
a wide area, or the bombing of an enormous fuel storage facility which can
have the same effect. Casualties are not yet known.
On Oct. 16, two bombs fell on two Red Cross warehouses in the center of
Kabul. The warehouses, bombed in full daylight, were clearly marked with red
crosses on their roofs. U.S. spokesmen claim that the warehouses were hit
because there were military vehicles parked nearby. They were Red Cross
On Oct. 17, a bomb scored a "direct hit" on a boy's school in Kabul, but
fortunately didn't explode. A U.S. plane, however, dropped a bomb at Mudad
Chowk, a residential area of Kandahar, which did explode, destroying two
houses and several shops, and killing at least seven people. In Kabul, four
bombs fell near the city center; casualties are still unknown.
On Oct. 18, a bomb killed four members of a family in the eastern suburb of
Qalaye Zaman Khan when it demolished two homes. A half mile away, another
bomb exploded in a housing complex, killing a 16-year-old girl. The U.N.
reported that Kandahar had fallen into a state of "pre-Taliban lawlessness,"
with gangs taking over homes and looting shops. By the next day, according
to the U.N., at least 80 percent of Kandahar's residents had left the city
to escape the bombing. They are swamping the surrounding villages, where
there are no resources to care for them. Some have moved on to the border
and crossed into Pakistan. One refugee said that there are bodies littering
the streets of Kandahar and people are dying in the hospitals for lack of
drugs. "We know we will lead a miserable life in Pakistan, in tents," he
said. "We have come here just to save our children."
The civilian death toll is probably in the thousands, and sure to rise with
two new developments. U.S. Air Force pilots may now fire "at will" -- at
anything they desire, without pre-authorization from strategists peering at
satellite and surveillance photos. In fact, there are now regions of the
country that have been designated "kill boxes," reminiscent of Vietnam's
"free-fire zones" but without benefit of advance warning to Afghanis. Kill
boxes are patrolled night and day by low-flying aircraft with the mission to
shoot anything that moves within the area.
American planes are also now dropping cluster bombs, an anti-personnel
weapon that disperses small bomblets over a wide area -- essentially,
hundreds of flying landmines, slicing through people, cars, trucks, and even
certain types of buildings. About 8-12 percent of the brightly-colored
bomblets don't explode on impact, leaving behind attractive but deadly toys
for children to play with later.
Or, maybe the United States will drop a food packet on top of one. With
winter coming on and an estimated seven million at risk of starvation,
there's not much time left to kill civilians before they start dying on
New airstrikes on Kabul claim heavy civilian toll
October 21, 2001
Summary of Al-Jazira coverage by Ali Abunimah
The fourteenth day of heavy US airstrikes claimed a number of
civilian lives in the Afghan capital Kabul today, Al-Jazira
The television showed widespread destruction in the neighborhood of
Khair Khana in the north of the city. Many houses were destroyed and
badly damaged. A man who appeared to be in his fifties interviewed
at the site of the attack said:
"We sat down to breakfast about eight o'clock, and then the American
plans came to bomb this area. Many buildings have been destroyed."
Pointing at a devastated building behind him the man added, "seven
families lived in this building. Eighteen people were killed. We
pulled out twelve of them and there are six more still under the
rubble." He said that thirty others had been injured.
The television showed dead people and people with very severe
injuries in hospital. I counted on the screen in the hospital scenes
one dead child, one dead woman, two other bodies completely covered
in sheets, three injured men, one injured woman and seven injured
children. Several children had bandaged heads. One dead child had
suffered shrapnel wounds to the head. A doctor said a bomb had hit
the child's house injuring everyone in it and that the child had
died of his injuries in the hospital.
Another injured child was shown crying next to the body of his dead
mother, who was lying on a gurney covered with a bloody sheet. A man
interviewed in hospital said that in one building in which about
forty people lived he knew of eight who had been killed.
This latest attack accelerated the flight from Kabul and the
television showed people loading belongs on to trucks in preparation
The Al-Jazira correspondent in Kandahar, Yousef Al-Shouli, said that
there had been no bombing in the city of Kandahar itself today but
that there were reports of attacks on outlying villages.
Al-Jazira reported that the Taliban claim that they have found
pieces of an American helicopter and evidence of blood at Jabal Baba
Sahib near Kandahar, where four or five American helicopters
attacked yesterday. The Taliban claimed yesterday that they had hit
and damaged one of the helicopters. The Al-Jazira correspondent is
checking the reports.
In other news: Al-Jazira reports that five Palestinians have been
killed today, Sunday, by Israeli occupation forces. At least eight
Palestinians were killed on Saturday in ongoing Israeli attacks on
Palestinian towns and cities. At least twenty four Palestinians have
been killed since October 18, many of them children and women.
Al-Jazira routinely broadcasts statements and claims from the United
States and Israeli governments, however I do not include these in
the summary as they are widely available elsewhere. The purpose of
these summaries is to provide reported factual details available
through Al-Jazira that are unlikely to be widely reported in the US
5,000 marchers in S.F. protest military actions
Anti-war activists condemn U.S. policy in the Middle East and denounce
President Bush's campaign against Afghanistan in retaliation for the Sept.
BY MARILEE ENGE
San Jose Mercury News
As thousands of anti-war demonstrators marched past him on San Francisco's
Market Street on Saturday, Larry DeSpain held his own private protest on
``One, two, three, four. We don't want your racist war,'' the marchers
chanted. They held signs that read, ``No racist scapegoating'' and ``Peace
Standing near the cable car turnaround at Powell Street, DeSpain held a
large American flag and yelled back at the marchers as they passed him.
``Shame on you,'' he shouted. ``Down with the Taliban regime.''
Two San Francisco police officers posted themselves in front of DeSpain to
avert any confrontations.
So it went at one of the largest, and perhaps the most emotional, anti-war
events to be held in the Bay Area since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. An
estimated 5,000 people walked from the Ferry Building to the Civic Center,
where speakers invoked government conspiracies and denounced U.S. military
action in Afghanistan.
It was a classic San Francisco event, with aging hippies and college
students, socialists, Christians and vegans, all calling for an end to the
bombing. Turnout was smaller than the 20,000 that organizers had predicted,
and few of the demonstrators were of Middle Eastern origin.
Many questioned President Bush's motives for attacking Afghanistan and said
they wanted to see hard evidence of the involvement of Osama bin Laden and
his network. They suggested the events of Sept. 11 were retribution for
U.S. policies in Israel and Iraq.
``Why don't they tell us what proof they have?'' asked Malalai Arsalai, a
22-year-old student at De Anza College and member of the Muslim Student
Association. ``If they're after one person, why would they kill thousands?''
Arsalai said her family fled war-torn Afghanistan when she was 4 months
old. She calls herself a Muslim first and an American citizen second.
``I don't know exactly how to respond,'' to the terrorist attacks, she
said. ``Maybe they should get the troops out of Saudi Arabia. Maybe they
should stop supporting Israel. Maybe they should stop sanctions against Iraq.''
She passed out a flier that showed smoke billowing from the World Trade
Center towers on Sept. 11. ``Why?'' it asks. ``1,200,000 Dead Iraqis.''
But there were more-traditional calls for peace, including one by Father
Louis Vitale, a Franciscan and pastor of St. Boniface Church in San Francisco.
``We've got to stop the hatred,'' he said. San Francisco's patron, St.
Francis, helped change the Europe of his time when he refused to join the
Crusades and fight against Islamic people, Vitale said. ``We're all meant
to be brothers and sisters on this planet.''
The anti-war-protest protesters were less visible than those who
demonstrated against a peace rally in Dolores Park on Sept. 30.
Nevertheless, a handful waved flags and carried signs of support for the
Ira Spivack, who describes himself as a libertarian, argued that the peace
rally was really a front for a leftist, socialist agenda. For a moment he
listened to a Green Party member calling for a sensible energy policy and
supporting a ballot measure that would create a municipal utility district
in San Francisco.
``They are hijacking Sept. 11,'' he said, adding that a municipal utility
district is not about what happened on Sept. 11. ``This is a Socialist
rally masquerading as an anti-war rally.''
That was before the vegans joined the march. Down at Powell Street, a group
opposed to eating animals and animal products was handing out leaflets.
Sharie Lesniak wore orange plastic sneakers, a fuzzy frog backpack and a
straw hat with a ``No Fur'' button. She said the group's views merge with
the anti-war movement because violence against animals only begets violence
``Peace,'' she said, ``really starts on your plate.''
Bastion of Dissent Offers Tribute to One of Its Heroes
October 22, 2001
By EVELYN NIEVES
The New York Times
OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 21 ^ Danny Glover, the actor, called her a hero.
Alice Walker, the writer, called her inspiring. The crowd, 3,500 strong,
awaited her appearance with the giddiness of autograph seekers awaiting
their favorite Hollywood star.
It is not often a fairly new member of Congress is honored so publicly, by
so many, for a single vote. But Barbara Lee, the Democratic representative
of the Ninth Congressional District since 1998, was honored today with
songs, poetry and speeches for being the only lawmaker in the House or the
Senate to vote against granting the president the authority to use military
force against terrorism.
When Mr. Glover walked Ms. Lee to the podium about two hours into the
program, the crowd gave her a Super Bowl touchdown roar.
"We wanted to show the world that Barbara Lee's vote represented her
constituents," said Nancy Nadel, an Oakland City Council member who helped
organize what she called "a community gathering for Barbara Lee" outside
City Hall this afternoon. "We wanted to show that she spoke for us and that
we support her and that the press was not reflecting that. Not to mention,
that we think what she did was so courageous."
Few here would argue that Ms. Lee would have received this hearty a
celebration anywhere in the country. In the weeks since she cast her
dissenting vote on Sept. 14 (because, she said that day, "I am convinced
that military action will not prevent acts of further international
terrorism against the United States") Ms. Lee has received great attention,
but much of it has not been welcome.
Beyond being bombarded with calls, letters and e-mail messages questioning
her patriotism, she has received death threats, enough to cause pause. She
travels with bodyguards these days, and her schedule is secret. (Members of
her local district staff said they did not know if she was in town, when
she was already here.)
And while she has also received plaudits for her vote, or the courage to
cast it, from all over the country, nowhere has that one vote been more
popular than in her own district, a bastion of left-liberal politics where
the two-party system means Democrats and Greens. (Just the other day, the
Berkeley City Council, which had already voted to honor Ms. Lee, officially
called for an end to the bombing in Afghanistan.)
In her district, which includes Berkeley, where the Free Speech Movement
was born, Oakland and the neighboring city Alameda, Ms. Lee would probably
have raised more hackles had she voted otherwise.
"It would have been very surprising if she hadn't voted against the
resolution," said Tim Redmond, executive editor of The San Francisco Bay
Guardian, an alternative weekly that keeps close tabs on the area's
politics. "It was the right thing for her to do as the representative of
one of the most progressive Congressional districts in the country."
Bruce Cain, a professor of political science at the University of
California at Berkeley, said that Ms. Lee's district, where she won 85
percent of the vote, "is the best district in the country to cast that vote."
While the vote has spawned a challenger ^ Audie Bock, a former state
assemblywoman, who hopes to unseat Ms. Lee come the Democratic primary in
March ^ it will also probably earn her votes from the liberal voters who
had considered Ms. Lee not liberal enough, Mr. Cain said.
"There are people so far left of Barbara Lee that they never would vote for
her," he said. "They would vote Green, or Independent."
Ms. Bock, a Democrat who became a Green Party member, then an Independent,
then a Democrat again, has begun a challenge to Ms. Lee based on the lone
vote. Ms. Lee, she said, "cowers behind her bodyguards, knowing she has
wronged both the living and the dead." Ms. Bock has also started a Web
Ms. Lee's supporters say her vote took courage because it could marginalize
her in Congress. But Ms. Lee, a former state assemblywoman and senator who
was former Representative Ron Dellums's chief of staff, has voted alone
before. In 1999, she was the sole House vote against President Bill
Clinton's plan to use force against Serbia. In 1998, she was one of five
House members to vote against bombing raids on Iraq.
She has also pushed for more money for H.I.V. and AIDS treatment in Africa,
opposed military aid to Colombia and protested the Boy Scouts' policy of
excluding gays. A former social worker, she recently introduced legislation
to increase the worldwide affordability of AIDS drugs and to link
international debt relief to the prevention and treatment of H.I.V. and AIDS.
Today, Ms. Lee was honored twice: in front of City Hall and, later, by a
women's group, the Women of Color Resource Center, which honored Ms. Lee
with its third annual award for women who have made significant civic,
cultural, artistic or political contributions to society.
She was clearly moved by the outpouring of support this afternoon at City Hall.
"I want to thank you for being the greatest and most progressive
Congressional district in the country," she said, in her brief remarks to
That received the loudest applause of the day.
5,000 protest bombing by U.S.
Coalition of groups rallies in S.F.
by Pamela J. Podger, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, October 21, 2001
More than 5,000 marchers -- pounding the streets in sneakers, boots and
sandals -- surged through downtown San Francisco yesterday in protest of
the U. S. bombing in Afghanistan.
Organized by the Town Hall Committee to Stop War and Hate -- a coalition of
Muslim, community, political and student groups -- the peaceful protest
railed against the killing of civilians abroad in retaliation for the Sept.
11 terrorist attacks.
Many of the 35 speakers at Civic Center Plaza touched on what they called a
senseless cycle of violence and the complexities of long-standing feuds in
the Middle East. Others called attention to the erosion of civil liberties
Marching at the front of the crowd, Farishta Amani, 21, said this is far
more than a remote political concern. She hasn't heard from her
grandparents, uncles and aunts in Kandahar since the U.S. air raids began.
"I have family in south Afghanistan who are getting bombed -- and I can't
believe the U.S. government would bomb starving people," said Amani, a
freshman at Chabot College in Hayward. "This will not stop terrorism and
will only make people more angry."
The aroma of burning sage and the sounds of drums, tambourines and shrill
whistles punctuated the shouts of the marchers, who said their
demonstration echoed other global protests. San Francisco police said the
crowd numbered more than 5,000 by the end.
People in the crowd urged diplomatic and economic tactics instead of a
military response. They called for humanitarian and economic aid as well as
bringing those responsible for the attacks before an international war
tribunal. Many chanted peace songs and waved signs such as "Mend Your
Fuelish Ways" and "Justice Not Vengeance."
Aloyse Blair, 23, of San Francisco wore nothing but an American flag --
pinned around her body -- and chartreuse sneakers. She said she took pains
to ensure the flag wasn't sewn, cut or touching the ground.
"I'm a true American, and I don't want people to die," she said.
However, across McAllister Street, about 30 people criticized the
demonstrators as unpatriotic.
"I find it ironic that they are enjoying their freedoms and are doing
nothing to preserve it," said Dave Clark, 36, of El Sobrante.
Gale Connor, 43, of San Francisco said he thought the protesters were naive.
"I feel like there are 1,000 Neville Chamberlains out there saying, if we
could just reason with Mr. bin Laden, then we could have peace," said
Connor, referring to the former British prime minister's views on Adolf
But pregnant protester Kristin Cahill, 27, who marched on the day she was
due to deliver her baby, said she objects to war.
"We shouldn't be bombing innocent civilians because of what happened on
Sept. 11," said the Oakland schoolteacher, a Bronx native. "It isn't going
to help people in New York feel any better."
Fred Andres, 39, a chemistry tutor in Richmond, was draped in a modified U.
S. flag that had corporate symbols instead of stars.
"In the past, people fought for a reason," he said. "Now what are we
fighting for? To defend oil companies and George Bush's buddies."
Abel Mouton, 31, of San Francisco said he was concerned about wire-tapping
legislation, as well as the rounding up of immigrants who were being held
"In Washington, I think they are ignoring us and trying to pass as much
reactionary legislation as they can while Bush has support," he said.
E-mail Pamela J. Podger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
900 Afghans Killed or Missing
ISLAMABAD: Top Taliban spokesman says 600-900 Afghans killed, missing
from US raids. Earlier, Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Mulla Abdul
Salam Zaeef said in a statement on Thursday that 400 people have been
died in US attacks. "Under the cover of fighting terrorism, America
is committing state terrorism," Zaeef said in a statement issued from
a location between Helmand and Herat, the embassy said.
He said food and medicine were running short. He urged non-
governmental organisations to send in emergency relief. "Precious
lives were lost every day because of the shortage," the statement
Amir Khan Muttaqi told the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) that 47 people
had been killed in Kandahar in a series of attacks that began in the
early hours of Wednesday morning and continued through most of the
day and night, and into Thursday morning. The toll in Kabul was 13
civilian dead over the same period, Muttaqi said. He told AFP earlier
Thursday that at least 10 others had died in Khogiani, 40 kilometres
south-west of Jalalabad.
Our correspondent adds from Peshawar: A Taliban minister said over 30
civilians were killed and 70 injured in Kandahar alone in US aerial
strikes over the past 24 hours. Talking to The News from Kabul,
Education Minister Mulla Amir Khan Mutaqqi said 12 students were
killed and many more injured when a bomb hit the Mechaniki Madrassa
in Kandahar city. He said civilians were also killed and wounded by
the indiscriminate US bombings in Bagh-i-Pul, Sarpoza and other parts
of the city. He said about 50 houses were destroyed in the attack.
Mutaqqi said several civilians were killed on Thursday when bombs and
missiles fell on a block in the Microryan housing complex and on two
houses in Qala-i-Zaman Khan in Kabul. He said all the family members
living in a house in Qala-i-Zaman Khan were killed.
Mutaqqi said the rising number of civilian casualties had exposed the
US claims that it was targeting only military installations. He said
the US in its frustration was now slaughtering Afghan civilians to
vent its fury after failing to dislodge the Taliban government. He
said the Afghan people were united in fighting the US aggression and
would shed their blood to defend their homeland.
Taliban officials said on Thursday that they hadn't yet been able to
make the Westerner speak after capturing him in Kunduz province
bordering Tajikistan. Talking to The News, Taliban intelligence
officials said the man was apparently pretending that he was deaf and
dumb. They said efforts were on to make him speak because he appeared
to be a soldier from his appearance. They said he could be either an
American or British soldier. When asked if the captured man could be
a journalist, the Taliban officials felt it appeared unlikely.
However, they said investigations would establish the identity of the
Only Poetry Can Address Grief:
Moving Forward after 911
In the middle of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence march in Washington
DC last month, I found myself nose to nose with a line of police
attempting to push the crowd back. I was facing an angry but very
short policewoman so in my case it was actually nightstick to bosom.
"Get back, get back!" she was shouting, but our line was not giving
ground. I explained to her, calmly and I thought, quite reasonably,
that we were not going to get back, because there was nowhere for us
I think of that moment now as a metaphor for where what I
like to call the Global Justice movement is today. We are facing an
array of forces telling us to get back, to disperse, to leave the
scene. The forces of the state, the media, all the powers that
support global corporate capitalism would like to see us go away.
But we have nowhere to go.
We have nowhere to go because the conditions we have been
fighting have not gone away. The disparity between rich and poor has
not grown less, the attempts of the corporate powers to consolidate
their hegemony have not ceased, the environment has not miraculously
repaired itself, and our economic and social systems have not
suddenly become sustainable. We're on the Titanic; our efforts to
turn the course of the ship have just been hijacked, and we're
churning full steam ahead into the iceberg.
We don't have the luxury of defraying action to a more
favorable moment. We need the movement to keep moving forward.
How do we do that in the face of increased repression and
much potential public opposition?
I. Stand our ground:
First, we don't panic, and we stand our ground. Fear is running
rampant at the moment, and every effort is being made by the
authorities to increase and play upon that fear. While the general
public may fear more terrorist attacks, we in the movement are
equally or more afraid of what our governments may do in restricting
civil liberties and targeting dissent. But either way, fear is the
authorities' greatest weapon of social control. When we are in a
state of fear, we're not taking in information, we're unable to
clearly see or assess a situation, and we make bad decisions. We're
more easily controlled.
We can learn to recognize fear, in our own bodies, in our
meetings, in our interactions. When fear is present, just stop for a
moment, take a deep breath, and consciously set it aside. Then ask,
'What would we do in this situation if we weren't afraid?' From that
perspective, we can make choices based on reasonable caution but also
II. Acknowledge the grief:
911 threw us as collectively into a deep well of grief. We have had
to face the awful power of death to intrude on our lives, to sear us
with pain and loss, to reorder all our priorities and disrupt all our
plans, to remind us that we walk the world in vulnerable, mortal
The political task that faces us is to speak to the depth of that
grief, not to gloss it over or trivialize it or use it to further
stale agendas. If we simply shout at people over bullhorns,
recycling the politics, the slogans, the language of the sixties, we
will fail. The movement we need to build now, the potential for
transformation that might arise out of this tragedy, must speak to
the heart of the pain we share across political lines.
A great hole torn has been torn out of the heart of the world. What
we need now is not to close over the wound, but to dare to stare more
deeply into it.
To comprehend that grief, we must look at the possibility
that it was present within us before the 11th, that the violence and
death of that day released a flood tide of latent mourning. On one
level, yes, we mourned for the victims and their families, for the
destruction of familiar places and the disruption of the patterns of
our lives. But on a deeper level, perhaps many of us were already
mourning, consciously or not, the lack of connection and community in
the society that built those towers, the separation from nature that
they embodied, the diminishment of the wild, the closing off of
possibilities and the narrowing of our life spaces. This frozen
grief, transmuted into rage, has fueled our movements, but we are not
the only ones to feel it.
With the grief also comes a fear more profound than even the
terror caused by the attack itself. For those towers represented
human triumph over nature. Larger than life, built to be unburnable,
they were the Titanic of our day. For them to burn and fall so
quickly means that the whole superstructure we depend upon to
mitigate nature and assure our comfort and safety could fall. And
without it most of us do not know how to survive.
We know, in our bones, that our technologies and economies
are unsustainable, that nature is stronger than we are, that we
cannot tamper with the very life systems of the earth without costs,
and that we are creating such despair in the world that it must
inevitably crack open, weep and rage. The towers falling were an
icon of an upcoming reckoning we dread but secretly anticipate.
The movement we need to build now must speak to the full
weight of the loss, of the fear, and yet hold out hope. We must
admit the existence of great forces of chaos and uncertainty, and yet
maintain that out of chaos can come destruction, but also creativity.
III. Develop a new political language:
Faced with the profundity of loss, with the stark reality of death,
we find words inadequate. "What do I say to someone who just lost
his brother in the towers?" a hard core New York activist asks me.
"How do I talk to him?"
The language of abstraction doesn't work. Ideology doesn't work.
Judgment and hectoring and shaming and blaming cannot truly touch the
depth of that loss. Only poetry can address grief. Only words that
convey what we can see and smell and taste and touch of life, can
To do that we need to forge a new language of both the word
and the deed. We on the Left can be as devoted to certain words and
political forms as any Catholic was ever attached to the Latin Mass.
We incant "imperialism" or "anti-capitalist" or "non-violence" or
even "peace" with an almost religious fervor, as if the words alone
could strike blows in the struggle.
Those words are useful, and meaningful. But they're like the
clich that the bad poet turns to. They are the easy first answer
that relieves us of the work of real expression.
Lately I'm hearing some of my most political friends say, "I
can't go to another rally. I can't stand hearing one more person
tell me in angry tones what the answers are."
What if we stopped in the middle of our rallies and said,
"But you know, these issues are complex, and many of us have mixed
feelings, and let's take some time for all the people here to talk to
each other instead of listening to more speeches."
If we could admit to some of our own ambiguities, we might
also find that we are closer than we think to that supposed
overwhelming majority of war supporters, who in reality may have
deeply mixed feelings of their own.
IV. Propose our own alternative to Bush's war:
Defining the September attacks as an act of war rather than a
criminal act has only dignified the perpetrators. Going to war has
turned us into Bin Laden's recruiting agency, rapidly alienating the
entire Muslim world. Bombing Afghanistan has made us look like thugs
to the Muslim world, (and to everyone else with a heart and sense)
and bred thousands of new potential ready-to-die enemies. The
bombing, by preventing relief trucks from delivering serious food
supplies before winter, now threatens to impose starvation on up to
seven million Afghanis.
In spite of what the polls and the media tell us, I don't necessarily
believe that the bulk of the U.S. population is frothing at the mouth
with eagerness for Afghani blood. The phrase I keept hearing is a
plaintive "We need to do something." Bush's program is the only one
laid out for us. The attacks are real, and devastating; simply
calling for 'peace' and singing "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"
does not address their seriousness. If we oppose Bush's war, we need
a clear alternative.
Diplomacy does not mean weakness. It means being smarter than the
opposition, not just better armed. Diplomacy also does not mean
simply issuing ultimatums backed by bombs. It means actually
understanding something of the culture of the people you're
negotiating with. It means actually negotiating, offering a carrot
as well as a stick, being willing to let the other side come out with
something less than total humiliation. If the goal of the war is
truly to get Bin Laden, well, the Taliban just offered to deliver him
to a third country.
This could be moment to switch our policy, to negotiate, to work with
and strengthen international institutions and the U.N., to begin to
deliver massive and meaningful humanitarian aid to the region. Any
or all of those acts would increase our long term security far more
than our present course.
V. Expose the real aims of the war:
We have about as much chance of doing any of the above as I have of
being offered a post in the current Administration. All the
indications are that Bush wants a war, to establish U.S. hegemony in
Central Asia and the East, to forestall an Asian alliance that might
oppose our vested interests with interests of their own, to take
control of rich oil resources of Central Asia and provide a safe
passage for an oil pipeline across Afghanistan, to deflect from the
illegitimacy of his own presidency, to implement the entire right
wing agenda. We need to continue educating the public about those
aims and about the real consequences of the war. To do that, we need
to talk to people-not just at rallies and teach-ins, but in our
neighborhoods, our workplaces, our schools, on the bus, in the
street, on talk shows, with our families. It can be easier to march
into a line of riot cops than to voice an unpopular opinion where we
live, but we've got to do it and to learn to do it calmly and
And while we're talking about the war, we need to make the
connections to the broader issues we were working on before the
eleventh of September. The war can be an opening to challenge
racism, and to spotlight the U.S.'s historic role of training,
arming, and supporting terrorists-including Bin Laden and the Taliban
in previous years. In an age of terrorism, does an economy entirely
dependent on oil-based long distance transport really make sense?
(Especially as it didn't make sense before, but never mind that.)
The Anthrax scares are a perfect opportunity to push for true
domestic security in the form of a well-funded, functioning public
health system, availability of hospital beds and medical care,
support for local food producers, development of alternative energy
resources, etc. The right wing has used the attacks and the war to
justify their agenda, but with a little political judo we can redraw
their picture of reality.
VI. Develop our vision:
Despair breeds fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism.
A world of truly shared abundance would be a safer world.
The policies of global corporate capitalism have not brought us that
world. They've been tried-and found wanting. We need to replace
them with our own vision.
The global justice movement has often been accused of not knowing
what it wants. In reality, we know clearly the broad outlines of
what we want even though we have a multiplicity of ideas of how to
get there. I can lay it out for you in five short paragraphs:
We want enterprises to be rooted in communities and responsible to
communities and to future generations. We want producers to be
accountable for the true social and ecological costs of what they
We say there is a commons that needs to be protected, that there are
resources that are too vital to life, too precious or sacred to be
exploited for the profit of the few, including those things that
sustain life: water, traditional lands and productive farmland, the
collective heritage of ecological and genetic diversity, the earth's
climate, the habitats of rare species and of endangered human
cultures, sacred places, and our collective cultural and intellectual
We say that those who labor are entitled, as a bare minimum, to
safety, to just compensation that allows for life, hope and dignity,
and to have the power to determine the conditions of their work.
We say that as humans we have a collective responsibility for the
well being of others, that life is fraught with uncertainty, bad
luck, injury, disease, and loss, and that we need to help each other
bear those losses, provide generously and graciously the means for
all to have food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, and the
possibility to realize their dreams and aspirations. Only then will
we have true security.
We say that democracy means people having a voice in the decisions
that affect them, including economic decisions.
VII. Develop our strategy:
We might begin by acknowledging that we have had a highly successful
strategy for the past two years. Since Seattle, what we've done is
to oppose every summit, as a means of focusing attention on the
institutions of globalization that were functioning essentially in
secret, and delegitimizing them. Systems fall when they hit a crisis
of legitimacy, when they can no longer inspire faith and command
compliance. Our strategy should continue to work toward creating
that crisis for the institutions of global corporate capitalism. In
the meantime, in spite of all appearances the government may already
be creating that crisis for itself. For ultimately, nothing
delegitimizes a government faster than not being able to provide for
the physical or economic security of its people.
Now our strategy needs to broaden and become more complex.
Contest the summits when and where we can, but perhaps with some new
tactics that clearly embody the alternatives we represent.
Turn more of our attention to local organizing, bringing the global
issues home and making organizing and activism an ongoing, sustained
process. And find ways to make that process as juicy and exciting as
some of the big, global actions.
Find ways to link local issues and actions regionally and globally.
Start to build the alternatives: alternative economic enterprises on
new models, directly democratic systems of governance such as
neighborhood or watershed councils or town meetings, everything from
alternative energy co-operatives to community gardens to local
currencies. Look for ways to let those alternatives delegitimize the
VIII. Organize openly:
In times of increasing repression, the strongest way to
resist is not to hide, but to become even more open in our organizing
and our communications. The more out there we are, the harder we'll
be to brand as terrorists. The more faces they photograph at rallies
and marches, the less meaningful any single face will be. The more
information they collect, the less they'll be able to collate,
analyze and make sense of it all. And if they read my email-they're
welcome to read my email. Somebody ought to, and I don't have time
to read it all myself. Maybe I could pay one of them a small extra
fee to sort it for me and send me a summary of the high points^.
Security culture either has to be so good you can outspook
the CIA, or it simply makes you look like you have something to hide
and attracts the attention of the authorities. And it makes it
extremely difficult to mobilize, educate and inspire people. Yes,
there are actions that depend on surprise, but with a little
cleverness we can figure out how to do that in a basically open
setting. "And tonight, each affinity group spoke receives a sealed
envelope-open it at five A.M. tomorrow and it will give you two
alternative beginning points for your march. Flip a coin to decide
which one to go to^"
IX. Make our actions count:
Political action may well become more costly in the next
months and years. That simply means we need to be more clear and
thoughtful in planning and carrying out our actions. Most of us are
willing to take risks in this work and to make sacrifices if
necessary, but no one wants to sacrifice for something meaningless or
stupid. We can no longer afford vaguely planned, ill considered
actions that don't accomplish anything-and believe me, I've done more
than my fair share of them.
We should never carry out an action that involves significant
risks, unless the following five points are addressed:
1. We know what our intention is-are we trying to raise public
awareness, delegitimize an institution, influence an individual, end
an immediate wrong?
2. We have a clear objective and know what it is--are we trying to
close down a meeting, deliver a petition, pressure an official to
meet with us, provide a service? What are we trying to communicate,
to whom, and how? What would victory look like?
3. We make sure the acts we take, the symbols we use, the focus we
choose and the tactics we use reflect our intentions and objectives.
We resist the temptation to do extraneous things that might detract
from our focus.
4. We have an exit strategy. How are we going to end the action?
How are we going to get out once we get in?
5. We have ongoing support lined up for afterwards-legal, medical,
political support, people willing to offer solidarity if needed.
X. Use tactics that fit the new strategy and situation:
All of us are rethinking our tactics in the light of the
current situation. We often argue tactics on the grounds of
morality-is it right or wrong, violent or nonviolent, to throw a tear
gas canister back into a line of police? To break a window? We
might do better to ask, "Do these particular tactics support our
goals and objectives," and "Are they actually working?"
Those who advocate highly confrontational tactics, such as property
damage and fighting the cops, are generally trying to strike blows
against the system. But at the moment, the system has been struck
harder than we could have imagined, and is reeling toward fascism,
not liberation. In the present climate, such tactics are most likely
to backfire and confirm the system's legitimacy.
Many classic nonviolent tactics are designed to heighten the
contrast between us and them, to claim the high moral ground and
point out the violence of the system. But many of those tactics no
longer function in the same way. Static, passive tactics become
boring and disempowering. Symbolic, cross-the-line arrests don't
seem to impress the public with our nobility and dedication any more,
even when they are noticed at all. Mass arrests may be used to
justify police violence, even when the arrestees were completely
peaceful. When the police cooperate in making the arrest easy and
low risk, the process confirms rather than challenges the power of
the state. When they don't, even symbolic actions are costing
heavily in jail time or probation. The price may well be worth it,
but there's only so many times in a lifetime we can pay it, so our
choices need to be thoughtful and strategic.
We need a new vocabulary of tactics, that can be empowering,
visionary, confrontational without reading as proto-terrorist, and
that work toward a crisis of legitimacy for the system. We also need
tactics and actions that prefigure the world we want to create, but
that do so in a way that has some edge and bite to it.
Here are a few we are already using that could be further developed:
Mobile, fluid street tactics: Groups like Art and Revolution,
Reclaim the Streets, the Pink Blocs of Prague and Genoa and the
Living River in Quebec have brought art, dance, drums, creativity and
mobility to street actions, and developed mobile and fluid street
tactics. Such actions are focused not on getting arrested (although
that may be a consequence of the actions) nor on confrontations with
the cops, but on accomplishing an objective: claiming a space and
redefining it; disrupting business as usual, etc., while embodying
the joy of the revolution we are trying to make. In Toronto on
October 16, snake dancing columns of people managed to disrupt the
financial district in spite of a very tense police presence. The
Pink Bloc has sake danced through police lines. The Pagan Cluster in
Quebec City and and DC was able to perform street rituals in the
midst of a dangerous situations, in ways that allowed participation
by people with widely varying needs around safety. The Fogtown
Action Avengers in San Francisco combined an open, public ritual
which distracted the police from a surprise disruption of the stock
exchange carried out by an affinity group dressed as Robin Hood.
Claiming space: Reclaim the Streets takes an intersection, moves in
a sound system and couches, and throws a party. A Temporary
Autonomous Zone is a space we take over and then exemplify the world
we want to live in, with free food, healing, popular education, a
Truly Free Market where goods are given away or traded, workshops,
conversations, sports, theater.
Street services and alternative services: Groups like Food Not Bombs
have been directly feeding the homeless for decades. One of the most
successful direct actions I've ever been involved with was a group
called Prevention Point that pioneered street based needle exchanges
for drug users to prevent the spread of AIDS. In DC in September,
during the Anti-Capitalist Convergence's Temporary Autonomous Zone
and during the Sunday peace march rally, the Pagan Cluster set up an
Emotional Healing Space that offered informal counseling, massage,
food, water and hands-on healing. The IndyMedia Centers provide
alternative news coverage and a powerful challenge to corporate
media. The medical and legal services we provide during an action
could be expanded. Guerilla gardeners could be mobilized in new
ways. Imagine a convergence that left a community transformed by
community gardens, with toxic sites healing, worm farms thriving, and
streets lined with fruit trees.
Popular education: One of the values of mass convergences has been
the education and training we've been able to provide for each other,
from teach-ins on the global economy to climbing instruction. Almost
every Summit has had its CounterSummit. Most of these have followed
the rough format of an academic conference, with presenters talking
to an audience or facilitating a discussion. But many more
interactive and creative ways of teaching and learning could be
brought into them: role plays, story-telling circles, councils. We
could hold a giant simulation of a meeting, with people role playing
delegations and grappling with the issues on the table, but from the
starting point of our own values.
People are hungry to talk about the war, about their fears and
beliefs and opinions. The Zapatistas give us the example of the
Consulta-a process of going out to the people to both listen to
concerns and mobilize. We might halt the speeches at a rally for ten
minutes to let people talk to each other. Or do away with the
speeches altogether, and instead ask groups to facilitate
smaller-group discussions on their issues and tactics, run short
training sessions, offer games or dances or rituals. And we could
develop ways to create instant Public Conversations as actions and as
education. Caravans can bring discussion and education out of the
urban centers, and could embody alternative energies and
possibilities, running their vehicles on vegetable oil, bringing
solar panels to power sound systems.
These are just a few ideas that can stimulate our thinking and awaken
XI. Renew our spirits:
These are hard times. Many of us have been working intensely for a
long time and are now seeing the possibility of our hard won
political gains being swept away. Fear and loss surround us, and
many forces are at work trying to make us feel isolated, marginalized
and disempowered. At best, the work ahead of us seems overwhelming.
If we are going to sustain this work and regain our momentum, we need
to allow ourselves time to rest, to go to those places we are working
so hard to save and be open to their beauty, to receive support and
love from the communities we are working for. We need to nurture our
relationships with each other, to offer not just political solidarity
but personal warmth and caring. Death and loss rearrange our
priorities, teach us how much we need each other, and make it easier
to drop some of the petty things that interfere with our true
Many activists mistrust religion and spirituality, often for good
reasons. But each of us is in this work because something is sacred
to us-sacred in the sense that it means more than our comfort or
convenience, that it determines all of our other values, that we are
willing to risk ourselves in its service. It might not be a God,
Goddess or deity, but rather a belief in freedom, the feeling we get
when we stand under a redwood tree or watch a bird winging across the
sky, a commitment to truth or to a child. Whatever it is, it can
feed and nurture us as well. For activists who have some form of
identified spiritual practice, now is a good time to seriously
practice it. For those who don't, it might still be worth taking
time to ask yourself, "Why do I do this work? What is most important
to me? What does feed me?"
The answer might be grand and noble, or it might be small and
ordinary, hip hop or sidewalk chalk. Whatever it is, make it a
priority. Do it daily, if you can, or at least regularly. Bring it
into actions with you. Let it renew your energy when you're down.
We need you in this struggle for the long haul, and taking care of
yourself is a way of preserving one of the movement's precious
The goal of terrorists, whether of the freelance or the state
variety, is to fill all our mental and emotional space with fear,
rage, powerlessness and despair, to cut us off from the sources of
life and hope. Violence and fear can make us shut down to the things
and beings that we love. When we do, we wither and die. When we
consciously open ourselves to the beauty of the world, when we choose
to love another tenuous and fragile being, we commit an act of
liberation as courageous and radical as any foray into the tear gas.
There is nowhere left to go, but forward. If we hold onto hope and
vision, if we dare to walk with courage and to act in the service of
what we love, the barriers holding us back will give way, as the
police eventually did in our Washington march. The new road is
unmarked and unmapped. It feels unfamiliar, but exhilarating;
dangerous, but free. We were born to blaze this trail, and the
great powers of life and creativity march with us toward a viable
Hoon warning over anti-war revolt
by Matthew Tempest, political correspondent
Monday October 22, 2001
The anti-war revolt within the Labour party hardened today after a warning
from the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, that there would be "consequences"
for crossing the party whips.
The full blown row - now in its second day - erupted after Shrewsbury and
Atcham MP Paul Marsden revealed details of a blistering meeting with chief
whip Hilary Armstrong.
He claimed that Ms Armstrong compared him and other anti-war MPs with
appeasers of Hitler in the 1930s.
Today Mr Marsden - not previously known for outspoken attacks on the
government - said he was "incensed" by his treatment.
"I will not be silenced and I know that others within the party will not be
"My view is that we should have free and open debate. What on earth is the
government so afraid of? Why on earth can't we have a vote in the Commons?
The last Conservative administration had a vote on the Gulf war."
Bu the growing dispute between the traditional "awkward squad" of hard left
Labour MPs plus more moderate opponents of the war, and the government,
grew when the defence secetary defended the chief whip, Hilary Armstrong,
Mr Hoon said: "The chief whip is responsible for keeping the government
together and all Labour MPs would expect her to be fairly robust in what
was a private conversation with Mr Marsden.
"I suspect that what she said to him was that there are certain
consequences to his behaviour under the rules of the parliamentary Labour
party. That is an internal Labour party matter.
"Labour members know what are the consequences of crossing the whips and
abandoning party policy. I am sure she was simply setting that out for him
and inviting him to consider his options."
Mr Hoon added: "What is important, when British troops are risking their
lives, is that we all stand by them."
The father of the house, Tam Dalyell, also added his voice to the row,
saying: "Does this mean we should suspend our critical faculties and just
acquiesce in our country getting into a worse and worse situation?
"The issue is whether persistent bombing of Afghanistan is a sensible
answer to Bin Laden, and Paul Marsden and I think it is not."
The Labour chairman of the Commons select defence committee, Donald
Anderson, was critical of Mr Marsden's decision to reveal the contents of
But he added: "We should, as democrats, be ready to listen to those other
"There is really a problem of dissent. When one does dissent in times of
war, it can help the enemy. Nevertheless, we have to be ready to respect
those with different views."
David Davis, the Conservative party chairman, said: "This is a syndrome of
manipulation and cover-up and misuse of the situation to forward Labour's
"What whips do is never pretty, but this is quite extraordinary.
"I don't agree for one moment with Mr Marsden's view of this war, but every
parliamentarian should defend their right to have their say. After all,
this is a war about defending democracy."
Labour backbencher Robert Marshall-Andrews, who has also spoken out against
the bombing campaign, threw doubt on Ms Armstrong's performance as chief whip.
He said: "The chief whip started badly with the attempt to rig the select
committees and this appears to be an attempt to bully backbench MPs who are
"Most of us against the bombing campaign are not against military action.
We are against what appears to be an over-reaction and the military
bullying of a defenceless opponent.
"There is an unfortunate parallel, where in a democratic institution like
the House of Commons the whips are apparently attempting to bully MPs who
are representing, probably not a majority view, but a very substantial
minority. That is a very sad thing."
New this issue:
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