[sixties-l] Antiwar News...(# 31) (fwd)

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    Subject: Antiwar News...(# 31)

    Antiwar News...(# 31)

    --Information Lockdown
    --Pakistan is in danger of falling apart
    --Don't confuse food parcels with cluster bombs, warns US
    --Don't Ask, Don't Tell... Why
    --Backyard terrorism
    --Support For Attacks Falling In UK
    --Eating The Sword
    --Even Conservatives Need the Anti-War Movement
    --Setbacks in war against Taliban
    --US bomb kills 10 civilians in opposition-held Afghanistan
    --Organizations Call for End to Bombing
    --US plays down casualties
    --Mixed reaction to NYC peace march
    --Target precision eludes an embarrassed military
    --"Forgotten Needs" Of Afghani Women, Children
    --Opposition to US attacks grows in Pakistan
    (Anti-war links/resources at the end.)

    Information Lockdown


    Bruce Shapiro, The Nation
    October 29, 2001

    Viewers of the old spy spoof Get Smart will remember the Cone of Silence --
    that giant plastic hair-salon dryer that descended over Maxwell Smart and
    Control when they held a sensitive conversation. Today, a Cone of Silence
    has descended over all of Washington: From four-star generals to lowly
    webmasters, the town is in information lockdown. Never in the nation's
    history has the flow of information from government to press and public
    been shut off so comprehensively and quickly as in the weeks following
    September 11. Much of the shutdown seems to have little to do with
    preventing future terrorism and everything to do with the Administration's
    laying down a new across-the-board standard for centralized control of the
    public's right to know.
    The most alarming evidence of the new climate emanates from the Justice
    Department. Investigators still hold in custody 150 of the 800 people
    rounded up in the aftermath of the attacks. (One detainee died in custody
    in New Jersey.) No charges have been filed, no hearings convened. The names
    of nearly all those still held remain classified, as do the reasons for
    their incarceration. Lawyers for some of the hundreds cleared and released
    have told reporters of questionable treatment of their clients, ood
    withheld, attorneys blocked from access. Of the 150 who remain detained,
    only four presumed Al Qaeda suspects have been publicly named. FBI agents
    frustrated at the lack of progress in their interrogations of those four
    now mutter in the Washington Post about using sodium pentothal, or turning
    the suspects over to a country where beatings or other torture is used. The
    government's stranglehold on information about other arrests makes it
    impossible to know just how far agents have already gone down that road, or
    whether the dragnet was mainly a public-relations exercise.
    Just as damaging as these detentions is an October 12 memo from Attorney
    General John Ashcroft reversing longstanding Freedom of Information Act
    policies. In 1993 then-Attorney General Janet Reno directed agencies to
    disclose any government information upon request unless it was "reasonably
    foreseeable that disclosure would be harmful." Ashcroft reverses this
    presumption, instead calling on agencies to withhold information whenever
    the law permits: "You can be assured that the Department of Justice will
    defend your decisions," he writes. Ashcroft is in effect creating a "born
    secret" standard; in the words of the Federation of American Scientists,
    the order "appears to exploit the current circumstances" to turn FOIA into
    an Official Secrets Act.
    One after another, federal agencies are removing public data from their
    websites or restricting access to their public reading rooms. Caution is
    understandable, but OMB Watch and Investigative Reporters and Editors have
    both documented egregious examples that seem at best tangentially related
    to terrorism and more likely designed as butt-coverage for mid-level
    bureaucrats. The Energy Department has removed information from its
    web-posted Occurrence Reporting Program, which provides news of events that
    could adversely affect public health or worker safety. The EPA removed
    information from its site about the dangers of chemical accidents and how
    to prevent them, information the FBI says carries no threat of terrorism.
    More relevant than Al Qaeda, it appears, was hard lobbying by the chemical
    industry, which found the site an annoyance. The FAA pulled the plug on
    long-available lists of its security sanctions against airports around the
    country, depriving reporters of their only tool for evaluating the agency's
    considerable failures to enforce its own public safety findings. At the
    Pentagon, news has been reduced to a trickle far more constricted than
    anything during Kosovo, which in turn was more restrictive than during the
    Gulf War. So comprehensive is the shutdown that on October 13, presidents
    of twenty major journalists' organizations declared in a joint statement
    that "these restrictions pose dangers to American democracy and prevent
    American citizens from obtaining the information they need."
    In the short run, the Cone of Silence did most damage at the Centers for
    Disease Control. Could the two (at this writing) Washington, DC, postal
    workers who died of inhalation anthrax have been protected by earlier
    treatment? Did any of the CDC's doctors or scientists recommend a course of
    antibiotics for postal workers along the trajectory of anthrax-laden
    letters? Who knows? With the CDC's staff muzzled, the public and postal
    workers alike were left with politicians as the conduits for contradictory
    and inadequate information about the risk.
    The uncertain dimensions of the Al Qaeda threat make equally uncertain
    which information the government publishes might contribute to another
    attack and what to do about it. But it should be noted that the World Trade
    Center and Pentagon attacks apparently involved data no more confidential
    than an airline schedule. The Administration's response has been to treat
    all information and press access as suspect, an approach that will subvert
    public confidence and undercut legitimate media scrutiny more than it will
    damage Al Qaeda. During Vietnam, the famous credibility gap resided at the
    Pentagon, with briefings and Congressional testimony at odds with
    battlefield evidence. Just weeks into this war, the Bush Administration is
    risking a new credibility gap roughly the size of the District of Columbia.


    Pakistan is in danger of falling apart

    Regional separatism and support for Islamist groups are growing

    William Dalrymple
    Tuesday October 23, 2001
    The Guardian

    A couple of years ago, on a visit to the North West Frontier, I
    called in on Khan Abdul Wali Khan. The Khan had once been one of the
    Pathan's great leaders; but he was now a frail old man. We sat in his
    summer house in the middle of his irrigated garden. The Khan poured
    jasmine tea and asked me about my impressions of the area. I told him
    what I had just seen at the nearby Darra arms bazaar: hundreds of men
    busy manufacturing home-made assault rifles and anti-aircraft cannon.
    "Yes," said the Khan. "There are now more than one million
    Kalashnikovs in this province alone. It has got completely out of
    control." He shook his head sadly. "I feel," he said, "as if I'm
    living on an ammunition dump."

    I thought of the Khan this week as anti-American protests spread
    across Pakistan. Although there has been unrest in Karachi and a bomb
    in Rawalpindi, it is among the Pathans that the rioting has been most
    serious: a cinema, the UN compound and a bazaar burned down by
    Pathans in Quetta, and four more shot dead in a village nearby;
    significantly, the local Baluchis have played virtually no part in
    the riots. Worse still on the frontier, where the Pathans are from
    the same tribes as their cousins in the Taliban, Peshawar has
    disappeared into a miasma of tear gas and police shooting, with at
    least half a dozen dead.

    Machismo is to the North West Frontier what religion is to the
    Vatican. Bandoliers hang over the men's shoulders; grenades are
    nonchalantly tucked into their pockets. I once walked into a Khyber
    tea house to find a group of Pathan mojahedin huddled in a corner
    dismantling a live landmine with a broken screw driver. None of the
    other tea drinkers blinked.

    The Pathans have never been completely conquered, at least not since
    the time of Alexander the Great. They have seen off centuries of
    invaders, and they retain the mixture of self-confidence,
    independence and suspicion that this has produced. Beyond the
    checkpoints on the edge of Peshawar, tribal law - based on the tribal
    council and the blood feud - rules unchallenged. The dominant Afridi
    tribe controls the Afghan heroin trade and kidnapping and murder are
    virtually cottage industries.

    It takes very little for latent discontent of the Pathans with the
    Pakistani government to erupt, but this latest wave of riots is on a
    different scale to anything since partition, raising the perennial
    question as to the future of Pakistan - can the centre hold?

    If many in Pakistan now question the long-term viability of the
    state, it is certain that none would be so ready to separate
    themselves from it as the Pathans. Throughout the 1940s, Wali Khan's
    father, known as Padshah Khan, passionately opposed the creation of
    Pakistan, leading the Pathans to side with Gandhi's Congress against
    Jinnah's Muslim League. During this period the Pathans believed that
    they would gain their own state, allied to India, just as East
    Pakistan - modern Bangladesh - was originally separated by thousands
    of miles from its western wing.

    In the bloodshed of partition, this Pakhtun state never happened, but
    the dashed hopes left the Pathans estranged from the idea of
    Pakistan. Padshah Khan spent the 1960s and 1970s struggling in vain
    for a union with the equally disgruntled Pathans in Afghanistan to
    form a new state - Pakhtunistan, straddling the Durand Line (the
    hated frontier drawn up by the British in 1893 which broke the tribes
    in two). But the Pakhtun nationalist spirit survived his death in
    1988, and has mutated into a very different Islamist form under a
    variety of Taliban-like groups such as the Jamiat Ulema i-Islam
    (JUI). If, as seems quite possible, Afghanistan breaks up in the
    aftermath of the American assault, with the Tajik Northern Alliance
    controlling the north, and a Pathan post-Taliban successor state
    taking the south, then demands for the creation of Pakhtunistan can
    only gain momentum.

    Regional separatism is only one of the problems now faced by
    Pakistan. President Musharraf's decision to support the American
    assault on the Taliban, against the wishes of more than 80% of his
    population, has greatly strengthened Islamist groups, bringing them
    support from swathes of the population not normally part of their

    Serious civilian casualties in Afghanistan or heavy-handed action by
    the Pakistani security forces would further radicalise the
    population. Last week Musharraf sacked two leading pro-Taliban
    generals and placed three pro-Taliban religious leaders (including
    the spiritual leader of the JUI) under house arrest; but after a
    decade of Talibanisation, Pakistan has never been closer to an
    Islamic revolution, or at least an Islamist coup. Such a coup would
    put nuclear weapons into Islamist hands: Bin Laden's wildest dream.
    These strains and tensions within Pakistan can only increase in the
    months ahead. It is likely to be a bumpy ride.
     William Dalrymple is the author of The Age of Kali: Indian Travels
    and Encounters (HarperCollins)


    Don't confuse food parcels with cluster bombs, warns US


    By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
    30 October 2001

    The US has been forced to broadcast radio messages warning the people of
    Afghanistan not to confuse food parcels with cluster bombs that are also
    being dropped over parts of the country.

    In an embarrassing admission of the danger posed by such weapons, the US has
    warned that from a distance the two items could be mistaken both are
    roughly the same size and both are bright yellow

    "Attention, noble Afghan people," starts the message broadcast in both
    Pashto and Dari. "As you know, the coalition countries have been air
    dropping daily humanitarian rations for you. The food ration is enclosed in
    yellow plastic bags. They come in the shape of rectangular or long squares.
    The food inside the bags is halal and very nutritional.

    "In areas away from where food has been dropped, cluster bombs will also be
    dropped. The colour of these bombs is also yellow. All bombs will explode
    when they hit the ground, but in some special circumstances some of the
    bombs will not explode."

    A Pentagon spokesman yesterday confirmed that the broadcasts were being
    carried out but denied there was any embarrassment to the US. "We have never
    had to bomb and drop food at the same time in such close proximity," he
    said. "We are trying to alleviate any possible mistakes."

    Cluster bombs are canisters which break open on impact with the ground to
    scatter, smaller so-called "bomblets". It is estimated that these bomblets
    have a dud rate of about 5 per cent and can lie buried "live" in the ground
    for years until something detonates them. They have been condemned by
    various humanitarian organisations for the indiscriminate way they can
    injure civilians.

    The United Nations has already expressed concerns about using the weapons in
    Afghanistan. Last night, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for
    Refugees said: "The food drops are not the most efficient way of delivering
    food. None the less, in a situation where there is no food coming in, you
    cannot be too choosy. We have urged that any military action should take
    into account the civilian population and that it should be as least harmful
    as possible to this population."

    While Britain has not dropped cluster bombs in Afghanistan, its position on
    their use is no different to that of the US. The Secretary of State for
    Defence, Geoff Hoon, yesterday told the Commons that they had been used in
    Afghanistan on a "limited number of occasions against the particular
    military threat of armoured vehicles".

    Responding to a call from the Labour MP Ann Clwyd to pressurise the
    Americans to stop using the bombs, Mr Hoon added: "They are not used against
    the civilian populations and the number of circumstances in which they have
    been used in Afghanistan has been extremely limited. They are not, either,
    in any way comparable with land mines."

    Ms Clwyd later said: "It is known very well that cluster bombs are,
    unfortunately, anti-personnel mines as well. They can destroy innocent
    civilians in much the same way as land mines."

    The radio message is being broadcast by the US using specially designed
    EC-130E Commando Solo planes bristling with electronic equipment to
    broadcast messages as well as jam other transmissions. It informs the Afghan
    population: "In future cluster bombs will not be dropped in areas where food
    is air dropped.

    "However, we do not wish to see an innocent civilian mistake the bombs for
    food bags and take one away believing that it might contain food. We would
    like you to take extra care and not to touch yellow-coloured objects."


    Don't Ask, Don't Tell... Why


    by Chris Wright (September 2001)

    We have a new forbidden word in these United States. Alongside the various
    swear words we cannot use on television, on the radio, or in print media,
    there is another word which has been banned from public view. WHY. The most
    common word out of the mouths of three year olds happens to be the one word
    that the journalists, the politicians, the pundits, the disc jockeys, the
    priests and ministers, the corporate HR people, and the WWF wrestlers
    cannot, will not, dare not, utter out loud. When children ask it, Bush
    scrambles for excuses. When the act itself screams it, Katie Couric of the
    Today Show immediately deems it unimaginable. WHY?

    You can ask HOW (As in "How did they do this?" or "How will 'we'
    retaliate?") You can ask WHAT ("What did they want?" of "What will we use:
    ground troops, aerial bombing, missiles or other countries' militaries?").
    You can ask WHO ("Who did this?" and "Who is going to get bombed in order to
    slake our thirst for revenge?"). You can ask WHERE ("Where did the other
    bombers target us?" and "Where is Osama bin Laden?" or "Where is
    Afghanistan?"). And you can ask WHEN (as in "When did this happen?" and
    "When will we get revenge?"). But you cannot ask WHY because WHY assumes
    that the people who did this might be real human beings, even if their act
    is monstrous. WHY assumes that rational human beings might hate the United
    States for rational reasons, including the millions of Middle Eastern people
    who had nothing to do with this. WHY raises the problem that this act of
    terror, while inexcusable and murderous, might be explicable. WHY.

    I could list many reasons WHY this happened, and I will. I could list many
    reasons WHY this word is so horrifying to the spin-doctors and opinion
    makers, and I will. I could list many reasons WHY the current reaction of
    the opinion makers and spin-doctors is so rotten, and I will. But first
    spend a moment with me focusing on the word itself. Why. WHY. Why? WHY?

    Now ask yourself, WHY would you kill someone? Because they threatened your
    life? Because they killed people you loved? Because they tried to deny you
    access to the means to live like a human being? Are these good reasons? Now
    ask yourself, WHY would someone want to kill you? Because you threatened
    their life? Because you killed people they loved? Because you tried to deny
    them access to the means to live like a human being? Are these still good
    reasons? WHY?

    1 million people dead in Iraq, mostly women and children, almost all working
    people, almost all hostile to Saddam Hussein. WHY? U.S. embargo on medical
    supplies and the Iraqi economy, which in the context of a shattered post-war
    economy has meant starvation and death from preventable disease. WHY? To
    force a dictator we helped create to allow us to inspect all of his
    installations. WHY? Because we need to disarm him. WHY? Because he might
    kill a million people.

    Tens of thousands of dead Palestinians; millions displaced, often jobless,
    mostly living in camps (we call them reservations in the U.S.) or in bombed
    out ghettoes (we call them ghettoes in the U.S.); constant terror by Israeli
    (and now PLO) soldiers and police, who shoot young boys throwing rocks and
    who beat old women to death with rifle butts, funded by billions of U.S.
    dollars a year to Israel. WHY? Because after World War II, the United States
    and Britain decided that the best way to control Arab oil in the Middle East
    was to have to non-(even anti-)Arab populations police the Middle East: Iran
    on one side and Israel on the other. WHY? Because oil is business. Big
    business. And to control oil, you must control the countries who have it and
    the workers who drill and refine it.

    Iran: a ruthless dictatorship that engaged in murder, torture, massive
    militarization, and other methods of dictatorship. WHY? Because that was who
    the U.S. supported, against the wishes of the Iranian population and despite
    attempts to overthrow the Shah. WHY? Because we wanted cheap oil from the
    Middle East and a militarized state in Iran to control the Arab populations.
    WHY? Because the Arab peoples might not like the U.S. controlling their oil
    reserves. WHY? Would you want someone else controlling your resources?

    Israel: a colonial settler state that came into being by driving the native
    Palestinian population off the land, bulldozing villages, waging constant
    warfare, engaging in apartheid/segregation/Jim Crow, and maintaining an
    armed settler force (just like settlers in the U.S.) who were ready to carry
    out random and not so random acts of terror against any and all Palestinians
    (like settlers against Native Americans here). WHY? Because Zionism was
    willing to work with whatever power would give them military support in
    taking over Palestine and that was exactly what the U.S. and Britain needed.
    WHY? Because we wanted cheap oil from the Middle East and a militarized
    state in Iran to control the Arab populations. WHY? Because the Arab peoples
    might not like the U.S. controlling their oil reserves. WHY? Would you want
    someone else controlling your resources?

    In 1979, the Iranian people overthrow the Shah of Iran. The response? The
    Soviets invade Afghanistan; Iraq, with approval from the U.S., invades Iran,
    and the U.S. refuses to support the forces opposing the Ayatollah Khomeini.
    The U.S. plays Iran and Iraq against each other for nine years in a war
    resulting in 1.5 million deaths from 1980 to 1988. WHY? The revolution that
    overthrew the Shah threatened to infect the Middle East with revolution
    against the monarchies and dictators supported by the U.S., well as against
    the corporations. In fact, soon to be President Reagan made deals with the
    Ayatollah in what would later come out in the Iran-Contra scandal, in which
    Reagan convinced the Ayatollah's regime to keep the U.S. hostages until he
    was elected President. Immediately after his inauguration, the hostages were
    released and arms deals between Reagan and the Ayatollah's regime began.
    WHY? Because dictators are much better for business than popular
    revolutions. WHY? Because dictators usually have a narrow base of support
    and need aid from richer, more powerful foreign supporters, such as
    corporations and governments.

    Thousands of Afghani women tortured, killed in the streets, beaten at will.
    Thousands of Afghani men killed, hung from lamp posts, driven to
    desperation. WHY? First the Soviets invaded and wreaked havoc and war. Then
    the U.S. supported the right wing, ultra-conservative Mujahedeen and Osama
    bin Laden, trained its leaders and soldiers, funded it with the sale of
    heroin, and helped put it in power as... the Taliban. WHY? Control over
    Middle East oil, Middle East resistance, and possible Middle East
    revolutions. WHY? Because popular control, democracy and poor people taking
    control of their lives threatens U.S. oil interests, which are vastly more
    important to the U.S. government than the lives of the peoples of the Middle
    East. See above.

    17,500 Palestinians killed in Lebanon in three weeks in 1982. WHY? Because
    of Israeli and U.S. supported and funded attacks on the Palestinian refugee
    camps by Christian militias. WHY? Support of Israel, which means decimation
    of the Palestinians. WHY? Because U.S. Middle East policy has only one
    reliable, militarily powerful ally by 1982: Israel.

    Thousands of people jailed, tortured, killed, dispossessed, and brutalized
    by monarchies and dictators in Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the
    United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, all of whom were funded and/or politically
    supported by the U.S.. WHY? Oil and the control of Arab workers (especially
    Palestinian in the Arabian peninsula) labor. This would seem to be a
    familiar theme, wouldn't it? WHY? Because oil = money and oil requires
    workers. WHY? Because if workers don't do the work, the oil does not come
    out of the ground and oil that does not come out of the ground will not make
    money. No controllable workforce, no oil; no oil, no money.

    Thousands of Kurdish people murdered by chemical warfare in Turkey, but the
    U.S. does not respond. WHY? Turkey is an ally and allies can kill as they
    please as long as it does not interfere with U.S. interests in the region.
    Thousands of Kurds killed in Iraq during a revolt after the Gulf War, as the
    U.S. ignores the 'no flight' zone and allows the Iraqi army to move in and
    smash the Kurdish rebellion. WHY? Stability and the control of labor is more
    important than freedom for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. WHY? Ask
    Exxon, Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, Texaco, Amoco/Standard
    Oil, and Marathon (the Seven Sisters of the single largest and wealthiest
    industry in the world).

    WHY did the U.S. get attacked on September 11? Because the U.S. threatens
    Middle East peoples' lives. Because the U.S. kills Middle East peoples'
    loved ones. Because the U.S. tried to deny Middle East peoples' access to
    the means to live like human beings. Because the U.S. supports every corrupt
    dictator in the Middle East. Because the U.S. wants to control resources
    that do not belong to them. Because almost every act of torture, murder, or
    persecution in the Middle East is backed by U.S. money, technology,
    diplomacy and training.

    But before you stop here ask yourself this: WHY did the people who bombed
    New York kill so many civilians? Because whoever did this is no less
    monstrous than the U.S. government; they are just a smaller monster. WHY did
    some Palestinians and Arab peoples cheer this horrendous act? Because
    absolute desperation and the thirst for revenge go hand in hand. WHY? If you
    live in the U.S. right now, you should know the answer. Americans are
    desperately seeking for revenge. They want revenge for being the objects of
    revenge. They want revenge for being woken from their slumber. They want
    revenge for being hated by a world that does not see the U.S. as a
    benevolent, liberal, freedom-loving country but as a greedy, gluttonous,
    murderous butcher and bankroller to dictators.

    WHY should we denounce both the U.S. government and the people who bombed
    the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? Because birds of a feather use the
    same methods: murder civilians, murder innocent people, murder people to
    instill terror and/or obedience. Whether it is bombs from planes or planes
    as bombs, it is murder. Both the U.S. government and the people who carried
    out those horrid acts on September 11 make targets of working men and women
    and our children. WHY should we refuse to be a part of the drive to bomb a
    country that is already decimated, to add to the death toll? WHY should we
    say no to bombing Afghanistan? Because if we do not begin to say, "This
    should not happen ANYWHERE", it will continue to happen HERE. And if you
    have watched the media, then you know that the politicians WANT U.S.
    casualties. They want us to 'get over' 'Vietnam syndrome' and accept massive
    loss of American lives. They clearly figure that this is their best chance.

    We have been initiated into the world we have made and it is a bitter,
    deadly, frightening world. If we really want to be a freedom-loving,
    charitable, kind, compassionate people, then we must be everything that our
    government and corporations are not. Then we must be all those things, not
    when it is easiest, but when it is hardest. And the next time you hear the
    politicians, reporters, and their ilk talking about freedom, liberty,
    justice, democracy, compassion, and kindness, remember that even the Devil
    can quote scripture. And remember to ask WHY?, always WHY?


    Backyard terrorism


    The US has been training terrorists at a camp in Georgia for years - and
    it's still at it

    George Monbiot
    Tuesday October 30, 2001
    The Guardian

    "If any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents," George
    Bush announced on the day he began bombing Afghanistan, "they have become
    outlaws and murderers themselves. And they will take that lonely path at
    their own peril." I'm glad he said "any government", as there's one which,
    though it has yet to be identified as a sponsor of terrorism, requires his
    urgent attention.
    For the past 55 years it has been running a terrorist training camp, whose
    victims massively outnumber the people killed by the attack on New York, the
    embassy bombings and the other atrocities laid, rightly or wrongly, at
    al-Qaida's door. The camp is called the Western Hemisphere Institute for
    Security Cooperation, or Whisc. It is based in Fort Benning, Georgia, and it
    is funded by Mr Bush's government.

    Until January this year, Whisc was called the "School of the Americas", or
    SOA. Since 1946, SOA has trained more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers
    and policemen. Among its graduates are many of the continent's most
    notorious torturers, mass murderers, dictators and state terrorists. As
    hundreds of pages of documentation compiled by the pressure group SOA Watch
    show, Latin America has been ripped apart by its alumni.

    In June this year, Colonel Byron Lima Estrada, once a student at the school,
    was convicted in Guatemala City of murdering Bishop Juan Gerardi in 1998.
    Gerardi was killed because he had helped to write a report on the atrocities
    committed by Guatemala's D-2, the military intelligence agency run by Lima
    Estrada with the help of two other SOA graduates. D-2 coordinated the
    "anti-insurgency" campaign which obliterated 448 Mayan Indian villages, and
    murdered tens of thousands of their people. Forty per cent of the cabinet
    ministers who served the genocidal regimes of Lucas Garcia, Rios Montt and
    Mejia Victores studied at the School of the Americas.

    In 1993, the United Nations truth commission on El Salvador named the army
    officers who had committed the worst atrocities of the civil war. Two-thirds
    of them had been trained at the School of the Americas. Among them were
    Roberto D'Aubuisson, the leader of El Salvador's death squads; the men who
    killed Archbishop Oscar Romero; and 19 of the 26 soldiers who murdered the
    Jesuit priests in 1989. In Chile, the school's graduates ran both Augusto
    Pinochet's secret police and his three principal concentration camps. One of
    them helped to murder Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit in Washington DC in

    Argentina's dictators Roberto Viola and Leopoldo Galtieri, Panama's Manuel
    Noriega and Omar Torrijos, Peru's Juan Velasco Alvarado and Ecuador's
    Guillermo Rodriguez all benefited from the school's instruction. So did the
    leader of the Grupo Colina death squad in Fujimori's Peru; four of the five
    officers who ran the infamous Battalion 3-16 in Honduras (which controlled
    the death squads there in the 1980s) and the commander responsible for the
    1994 Ocosingo massacre in Mexico.

    All this, the school's defenders insist, is ancient history. But SOA
    graduates are also involved in the dirty war now being waged, with US
    support, in Colombia. In 1999 the US State Department's report on human
    rights named two SOA graduates as the murderers of the peace commissioner,
    Alex Lopera. Last year, Human Rights Watch revealed that seven former pupils
    are running paramilitary groups there and have commissioned kidnappings,
    disappearances, murders and massacres. In February this year an SOA graduate
    in Colombia was convicted of complicity in the torture and killing of 30
    peasants by paramilitaries. The school is now drawing more of its students
    from Colombia than from any other country.

    The FBI defines terrorism as "violent acts... intended to intimidate or
    coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government, or
    affect the conduct of a government", which is a precise description of the
    activities of SOA's graduates. But how can we be sure that their alma mater
    has had any part in this? Well, in 1996, the US government was forced to
    release seven of the school's training manuals. Among other top tips for
    terrorists, they recommended blackmail, torture, execution and the arrest of
    witnesses' relatives.

    Last year, partly as a result of the campaign run by SOA Watch, several US
    congressmen tried to shut the school down. They were defeated by 10 votes.
    Instead, the House of Representatives voted to close it and then immediately
    reopen it under a different name. So, just as Windscale turned into
    Sellafield in the hope of parrying public memory, the School of the Americas
    washed its hands of the past by renaming itself Whisc. As the school's
    Colonel Mark Morgan informed the Department of Defense just before the vote
    in Congress: "Some of your bosses have told us that they can't support
    anything with the name 'School of the Americas' on it. Our proposal
    addresses this concern. It changes the name." Paul Coverdell, the Georgia
    senator who had fought to save the school, told the papers that the changes
    were "basically cosmetic".

    But visit Whisc's website and you'll see that the School of the Americas has
    been all but excised from the record. Even the page marked "History" fails
    to mention it. Whisc's courses, it tells us, "cover a broad spectrum of
    relevant areas, such as operational planning for peace operations; disaster
    relief; civil-military operations; tactical planning and execution of
    counter drug operations".

    Several pages describe its human rights initiatives. But, though they
    account for almost the entire training programme, combat and commando
    techniques, counter-insurgency and interrogation aren't mentioned. Nor is
    the fact that Whisc's "peace" and "human rights" options were also offered
    by SOA in the hope of appeasing Congress and preserving its budget: but
    hardly any of the students chose to take them.

    We can't expect this terrorist training camp to reform itself: after all, it
    refuses even to acknowledge that it has a past, let alone to learn from it.
    So, given that the evidence linking the school to continuing atrocities in
    Latin America is rather stronger than the evidence linking the al-Qaida
    training camps to the attack on New York, what should we do about the
    "evil-doers" in Fort Benning, Georgia?

    Well, we could urge our governments to apply full diplomatic pressure, and
    to seek the extradition of the school's commanders for trial on charges of
    complicity in crimes against humanity. Alternatively, we could demand that
    our governments attack the United States, bombing its military
    installations, cities and airports in the hope of overthrowing its unelected
    government and replacing it with a new administration overseen by the UN. In
    case this proposal proves unpopular with the American people, we could win
    their hearts and minds by dropping naan bread and dried curry in plastic
    bags stamped with the Afghan flag.

    You object that this prescription is ridiculous, and I agree. But try as I
    might, I cannot see the moral difference between this course of action and
    the war now being waged in Afghanistan.


    Support For Attacks Falling In UK


    Tuesday October 30, 2001

    LONDON (AP) - Public support for U.S.-led military action against
    Afghanistan has fallen, according to a poll published Monday.

    The ICM poll for The Guardian newspaper found that support for the campaign
    had slipped by 12 percent over the past two weeks, from 74 percent to 62

    Despite the fall, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed still back military
    action, and 57 percent support the deployment of British troops on the
    ground in Afghanistan.

    Last week, Britain committed 200 Marines to the U.S.-led coalition for
    special operations, plus 400 in reserve in the United Kingdom.

    President Bush launched the airstrikes on Oct. 7 after the ruling Taliban
    refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept. 11
    terrorist attacks in the United States.

    Some British lawmakers have expressed unease as the military campaign in
    Afghanistan grinds on, with voices of dissent even in Prime Minister Tony
    Blair's governing Labor Party.

    Worries center on the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the reports of
    civilian casualties. The bombings of a warehouse of the International
    Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul also prompted sharp criticism of the air

    The poll found that 54 percent of those questioned would back a pause in the
    bombing campaign to allow aid convoys to reach the needy in Afghanistan.
    Only 29 percent said they would disagree with a pause.

    For the poll, ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,000 adults from across
    the country by telephone, between Oct. 26 and 28. A margin of error for the
    poll was not released.


    Eating The Sword

    By: William Rivers Pitt

    "Pointed threats they bluff with scorn
    Suicide remarks are torn From the fool's gold mouthpiece
    The hollow horn plays wasted words
    Proves to warn
    That he not busy being born
    Is busy dying."
    - Bob Dylan

    On every car and every porch flutters an American flag, symbol of pride and
    strength for the people of this nation. Bumper stickers make declarations
    of unity, and lapel pins speak wordlessly for citizens who still weep at
    the thought of the dead and the lost. As the sun prepares to set on the
    second month of this war, however, it is becoming clear that those symbols,
    so proudly displayed, represent a nation racing towards ignominious defeat.

    We are losing this war, not because of the actions of a clever enemy, but
    because of dangerously poor leadership in Washington D.C. As William
    Shakespeare said, "When valour preys on reason, it eats the sword it fights
    with." There is little reason for the actions George Bush's government has
    taken to date, valorous or otherwise. In the end, we may all be forced to
    eat the sword he is wielding in so cumbersome a fashion.

    In the newest barrage of attacks upon Afghanistan, errant U.S. munitions
    struck yet another civilian village. Eight members of a family were wiped
    off the face of the earth while gathered at the breakfast table. The
    mother, lone survivor of the attack, was quoted by BBC reporters: "What
    shall I do now? Look at their savageness. They killed all of my children
    and husband."

    This is but one instance of the ravaging effect of this war upon
    non-combatants in the region. United Nations relief workers are
    anticipating between 300,000 and one million refugees coming to them in
    dire straits as the winter begins to wind a death shroud around the
    country. These relief workers are helpless before the tide, trapped by the
    knowledge that they will be unable to do much of anything to prevent
    massive death and misery in the coming weeks.

    Beyond the toll this horror will inevitably take upon the soul of this
    nation, the tactical outlook is bleak. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his
    generals have expressed surprise at the resilience and strength of the
    Taliban warriors who have been the main focus of our attacks. The fact that
    history has time and again proven Afghan warriors to be quite good at
    defeating foreign invaders while fighting barefoot in the snow apparently
    has made no purchase within the Pentagon.

    Rumsfeld and his warriors have taken great pains to inform the Afghan
    populace that this war is not being waged against them. This message is
    blunted by an effective Taliban propaganda campaign that uses deaths like
    those described above to good effect. Many fighters in Pakistan do not even
    need to hear well-crafted messages within the media. They can look across
    the border to Afghanistan and see the thousands of civilians living in
    filth after fleeing the bombs.

    10,000 Pakistani warriors have left their homes to join the Taliban forces.
    Armed with Klasnikov rifles, rocket launchers, missiles, grenades,
    anti-aircraft guns and even swords, members of a militant group called
    Tehrik Nifaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi have surged across the border and headed
    for Kabul. Joining their ranks are some 4,000 ordinary villagers who
    volunteered for duty.

    This is the nightmare scenario, one whose rise was all too apparent. Every
    time we kill a civilian, every time we level a house, every time we strike
    terror into the innocents in Afghanistan and cause them to flee into misery
    and death, we give birth to new warriors for the Jihad. Every one of these
    new volunteers must be killed, according to the Bush battle plan, and their
    deaths will give rise to more and more warriors seeking revenge for a lost
    loved one.

    The Greeks feared the Hydra for a reason. Every time one head was cut off,
    another rose snarling in its place. We are creating, every day, more
    enemies who will die in the fight against us. It is clear that the order of
    battle, comprised in haste and fear by the Bush administration, is not only
    failing to defeat the chosen foe, but is in fact making the task more
    difficult by orders of magnitude.

    Even more disquieting is the waning moon, sign that the Muslim holy month
    of Ramadan is fast approaching. Our propaganda has failed to sway nations
    already hardened in hatred against us. Rumsfeld and Bush now seem prepared
    to continue the bombing right through this holy season. The wrath and
    vitriol aimed at us thus far will pale in comparison to what will come if
    we defile these sacred days. The ranks of the Taliban and Al Qaeda will
    swell yet again with men who become convinced by our actions that this is,
    in fact, a war against Islam itself.

    Amazingly, the failures of leadership in Washington are even more evident
    on the home front. The administration, in concert with the CDC, decided to
    publicly play down the threat of anthrax contamination, despite the fact
    that a virulent strain made its way through the postal service to Senator
    Daschle's office. Two dead mailmen later, we see the result of this folly.

    The envelope to Daschle was passed through the mail system, apparently
    spraying spores in all directions. Rather than rush to determine the scope
    of contamination possible when anthrax is passed through a major mail
    processing system, we were told to hush, relax, be at ease, shop. Mail
    carriers were specifically told there was no danger. The administration's
    priorities - calm and soothe before investigation and fact - are clearly
    not effective when facing a genuine threat. One wonders how far the
    contamination spread because of these priorities.

    One wonders how well they will handle an attack with an agent like
    smallpox, which is decidedly more deadly and difficult to contain. Thus
    far, the actions of this administration do not being a sense of safety and
    security. That in itself is a terrible defeat, one that is sure to be
    magnified if another attack does come.

    In the rush to determine who is responsible for these anthrax attacks,
    administration officials have been quick to suggest that Iraq is a likely
    suspect. Certainly, the biological weapons program of that nation is of
    great concern, and the possibility that they or another nation might have
    had a hand in this attack. Focusing on that one possibility alone, however,
    may cause Federal investigators to miss what appears to be the most likely
    set of suspects: home-grown American extremists on the far Right.

    The letters mailed to Daschle and to broadcaster Tom Brokaw were dated
    September 11th but mailed many days later, an apparently craven attempt to
    link their attack to the airplane bombers. The date itself is written in
    the American style, 9-11-01, rather than the European/Arabic fashion,
    11-9-01. The handwriting on the letters slope from left to right; an
    individual schooled in the Arabic style would have handwriting that sloped
    from right to left.

    The extreme American Right, represented by groups like the National
    Alliance, the Army of God, and the Aryan Nation, have long coveted
    biological weapons of mass destruction. Survivalist militiaman and
    microbiologist Larry Wayne Harris successfully placed an order for Yersinia
    pestis, the organism that causes bubonic plague, in 1995. Members of a
    group called the Minnesota Patriots Council were arrested in 1994 for
    making the toxin ricin. There are many examples of these groups making, or
    trying to make, weapons like anthrax.

    These groups have greeted the attacks of September 11th with what can only
    be described as savage glee. Fearful of a Zionist world conspiracy, as
    hateful towards American multiculturalism as the narrowest fundamentalist
    Muslim cleric, many of these groups have decided that the enemy of their
    enemy is their friend. It is not so far out of bounds to believe that one
    group may have gone beyond angry rhetoric to action.

    130 family planning clinics across the country, including Planned
    Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation, received threatening
    letters that contained an unidentified powder during the week of October
    15th. Several of the letters mentioned the Army of God, a virulent
    anti-abortion group that actively espouses the killing of doctors who
    provide abortions.

    According to Attorney General Ashcroft, any act that threatens the use of
    anthrax shall be considered terrorism, and shall be prosecuted to the
    fullest extent of the law. Clinics where women go for prenatal care and
    gynecological exams, as well as for abortions, received 130 of these
    threats. This is by far the largest terrorist act to take place in this
    country since September 11th. Despite his words, no action has been taken
    by Ashcroft to determine who is responsible, nor has the media reported on
    it at all.

    Senator Barbara Boxer was forced to write Ashcroft a public letter
    demanding an investigation into these attacks. The fact that such a demand
    even needed to be made is a colossal failure, and quite possibly an
    indication of the true mindset of Ashcroft's Justice Department. Mr.
    Ashcroft is a known opponent of abortion, and has displayed in several
    publications his affinity for causes and ideals shared by many extreme
    right groups.

    If his political predilections distract him from instigating an
    investigation into groups that could well be responsible for the anthrax
    threats leveled at Washington and these clinics, a deadly enemy within will
    be allowed to range about unpunished and unrestrained. It is difficult to
    imagine a worse failure.

    Yet imagination is a terrible thing, especially when it's darkest
    forebodings burst forth into reality. Calls for unity from the Republican
    leadership, in concert with an effort to quash any questions about their
    handling of this crisis, may shatter under the weight of their own
    hypocrisy. Partisanship must be laid aside, we are told, and the Democratic
    party has surged en masse to salute this ideal. They bear throats begging
    to be slashed by GOP profiteers who are too happy to wield the knife.

    Bush and his allies in the House have passed a $100 billion 'stimulus
    package' that was wrapped securely in the flag and soaked with patriotic
    rhetoric. The package is needed, we are told, to bolster a weak economy
    further damaged by the September 11th attack. The fine print of this bill
    reveals it to be nothing more than the second half of a financial windfall
    promised to Bush's corporate campaign backers.

    Only 30% of the money earmarked for this bill will go to individuals. The
    rest of the money is being delivered to General Motors, IBM, and scores of
    other corporations who were fairing well in the new economic climate. The
    effect of this stimulus plan will be felt most acutely by individual
    states, who will lose billions of dollars in tax revenue because of it. How
    this will generate an economic revival is a mystery, and a betrayal of all
    the states-rights arguments we have heard from the GOP for generations.

    In fact, this package is nothing more than compensation to corporations and
    their lobbyists who supported Bush's enormous and irresponsible $1.35 tax
    cut bill last winter. That bill did not do for these corporations what they
    wanted, and they are being rewarded for their patience with this one. This
    has nothing to do with patriotism, national defense, or the revival of the
    economy. This is old-school patronage passed under the veil of national
    mourning, and it is a travesty.

    This from the people who held up the defense appropriations bill in the
    Senate last week in an attempt to force the Democrats to accept right-wing
    judicial nominations. The attempt failed, as will many aspects of this
    stimulus bill once it reaches Daschle's desk. The very idea that such
    attempts are being made is nauseating, and dangerous. If our political
    unity in the face of this terrorist threat is shattered by the greed of the
    GOP, the nation's safety will be imperiled even further.

    Speaking of imperiled safety, Bush and friends don't want airline security
    jobs to become Federally-controlled, because doing so would swell the ranks
    of the unions. This is, like the stimulus package, a partisan decision that
    affects the safety and well-being of millions of Americans. Federalized
    airport security teams would receive better training and pay, and would go
    a long way towards defending the country against attacks like those that
    came September 11th.

    In Bush's mind, however, more people carrying union cards are a greater
    threat to America than airborne bombs made of jet fuel and people. Better
    to keep them free of union entanglements. Better to have people guarding
    our lives who would, in the words of Democrat Max Cleland, see a job at a
    fast food restaurant as a promotion.

    In one wretched way, the terrorists have already won. The anti-terrorism
    bill that was recently passed under the horribly ironic euphemism of
    PATRIOT gives unprecedented access to personal phone calls and electronic
    messages to both the FBI and CIA. Warrants no longer shall require that a
    person is notified if his home and belongings are searched by Federal
    investigators. This brazen violation of privacy rights is something called
    a "sneak and peek" provision, codified in section 213 of the bill, and is
    in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.

    The anti-terrorism bill deserves a close read by every American, for within
    it lies the death and destruction of so much we hold dear. In many ways,
    the bill marks the end of freedom and democracy in this country. We are no
    longer secure in thought, word and deed. Our homes are open to invasion and
    search without notification. Our email and internet habits are fodder for
    clandestine tapping.

    We are losing this war. Our bombs in Afghanistan are not bringing to
    justice those who perpetrated the acts of September 11th, and are creating
    more enemies who will fight to see us die. We are stumbling about like
    fools trying to deal with the threat of anthrax while mailmen die and
    viable suspects evade investigation. Our tax dollars, vitally needed to
    defend the economy and the country, are being spent to reward corporations
    for their support of the GOP agenda. Our airports remain sieves through
    which more deadly threats may pour unchecked. Our homes and private
    communications are made of glass.

    There is no guarantee that we will win this fight, no guarantee that our
    dead will be avenged by the steady hand of justice. If matters continue as
    the have to this point, we are sure to be defeated. The potential of the
    next American century, so bright a year ago, will fall to dust. Our
    children will never know the rights we so freely took for granted. Our dead
    will rest uneasily.

    Elections matter.
    William Rivers Pitt is a contributing writer for Liberal Slant.


    Even Conservatives Need the Anti-War Movement


    by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
    October 26, 2001

    American citizens who have doubts any doubts about the war have been
    subjected to an amazing barrage of hate and threats in recent days. But if
    you believe the polls that show 90 percent-plus support for this war, it
    seems oddly disproportionate to whip up hysteria against a handful of
    Rather than defend the anti-war position itself, I want to make a different
    argument. If you believe in freedom at all, you should hope that there are
    at least some doubters and protesters, regardless of the merit of their
    case. Even if you think this war is a great and necessary thing to teach
    the terrorists a lesson in American resolve, the preservation of liberty at
    home is also an important value.
    The existence of an opposition movement is evidence that some restraints on
    government still exist. The government, which is always looking for reasons
    to increase its power, needs to know that there will always be an opposition.
    The view that wartime requires complete unanimity of public opinion is not
    an American one it is a position more characteristic of Islamic or other
    totalitarian states, where differences of opinion are regarded as a threat
    to public order, and where the leadership demands 100 percent approval from
    the people. These are also states where the head of government requires
    that he be treated like a deity, that there be no questioning of his
    edicts, that he govern with unquestioned power.
    This is the very definition of despotism. Unpopular government is dangerous
    enough, popular government far more so. When public officials believe that
    there are no limits to their power, no doubters about their pronouncements,
    no cynics who question their motives, they are capable of gross abuses.
    This is true both in wartime and peacetime. The most beloved governments
    are most prone to become the most abusive.
    If you think that such despotism is not possible in the United States, you
    have not understood the American founding. Thomas Jefferson taught that
    American liberty depends on citizen willingness to be skeptical toward the
    claims of the central government. "Confidence is everywhere the parent of
    despotism," he wrote in his draft of the Kentucky Resolves. "Free
    government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence. It is jealousy
    and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down
    those whom we are obliged to trust with power."
    "In questions of power," he concluded, "let no more be heard of confidence
    in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
    Wartime means that government is unleashing weapons of mass destruction
    against other human beings and their property. It is the most terrifying of
    all the powers of government. The war power, which means the power over
    life and death, can create in those who use it a feeling of omnipotence,
    the belief that they have absolute power, which gives rise to absolute
    corruption, as Lord Acton observed. This is true whether the war actions
    are popular or not.
    Now, add to that reality an additional element: The population that
    supports the war power with its taxes is consumed in nationalistic
    fervor to the point that nobody believes that government is capable of
    making a bad choice or of abusing its power. That is a sure prescription
    for abuse, and not only in wartime the government enjoys this uncritical
    attitude, and will demand it in peacetime as well. Typically, in these
    cases, the abuse of peoples' rights is not decried but celebrated.
    We have seen this happen in American history. Writing in the Wall Street
    Journal, Jay Winik reminds us that wartime abuse of presidential power has
    a long history. Lincoln imprisoned anti-war activists, including newspaper
    editors, judges and attorneys, and otherwise suspended all civil liberties.
    Wilson made it a crime to voice dissent on any aspect of the war, including
    the way it was financed. The jails were overrun with independent-minded
    people. Franklin Roosevelt did the same, and even set up internment camps
    for American citizens of Japanese descent.
    Incredibly, even ominously, Winik writes about this in defense of the
    emergency powers that wartime provides. This is why we need to trade
    liberty for security, he says, and he implies that the Bush administration
    needs to go much further to meet the (low) standards set by his predecessors.
    Winik's ultimate defense, however, involves a claim that is just plain
    wrong: "despite these previous and numerous extreme measures," writes
    Winik, "there was little long-term or corrosive effect on society after the
    security threat had subsided. When the crisis ended, normalcy returned, and
    so too did civil liberties, invariably stronger than before."
    It's true that the despotism subsided after the wars ended, if only because
    government has a difficult time trying to maintain the level of public
    support it enjoys during wartime once peace has arrived. But does
    government really return to normalcy?
    In fact, what changes is our definition of normalcy. In no case after a war
    did the government return to its prewar size. The postwar government is
    always bigger, more intrusive, more draconian, more expensive, than the
    prewar government. It feels smaller because the government is no longer
    arresting dissidents. But our standard of what constitutes freedom and
    despotism changes during wartime. Nothing has been as corrosive of American
    liberty as war.
    Wartime tyranny also creates an historical precedent for future violations
    of liberty. Every president who desires more power cites his predecessors
    who enjoyed similar power, just as the bloody legacies of FDR, Wilson and
    Lincoln are being invoked on behalf of Bush today (witness Winik's own
    Jefferson said in his first inaugural address: "If there be any among us
    who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let
    them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of
    opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it." That's
    why, if you hate the anti-war movement and want to see it suppressed, you
    are no friend to liberty, even in peacetime.
    Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. [send him mail], is president of the Ludwig von
    Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, and editor of LewRockwell.com.


    Setbacks in war against Taliban


    Week 4 of US strikes arrives amid mounting civilian toll and death of a
    rebel commander.

    By Scott Peterson and Scott Baldauf | Staff writers of The Christian
    Science Monitor RAQI,

    AFGHANISTAN, AND ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Abdul Wali and his anti-Taliban
    neighbors spent yesterday sweeping up the debris of two shattered homes. An
    American bomb demolished their mud-and-timber houses Saturday, killing two
    women who were inside sewing at the time.
    The ruins of Mr. Wali's house - three miles from the Taliban front lines -
    are a sad monument to a weekend of missteps and setbacks in America's
    three-week-old war in Afghanistan. Pakistani officials and Northern
    Alliance commanders are increasingly saying that US air power isn't enough
    to turn the military - or political - tide against the Taliban.
                              ^ On Friday, Taliban forces caught and executed a
    key rebel commander. The death of Abdul Haq - and the capture of his list
    of names of Taliban moderates and contacts - is considered a major blow to
    creating a political alternative to the Taliban.
                              ^ On Saturday, the US responded to rebel calls
    for heavier bombing raids. In contrast to previous attacks, the US hit the
    front line near Kabul continuously for more than six hours, dropping bombs
    on some targets five or six times each. But not every bomb found its mark.
    And as growing numbers of American munitions go astray - either misfired,
    mistargeted, or mistakenly dropped on civilians or relief agencies -
    support for the US campaign risks being undermined.
    So far, Afghans on this side of the front line - where two anti-Taliban
    villages were struck separately Saturday, causing at least three deaths -
    say the bombing should continue.
    "America is a superpower, and they should only bomb Taliban targets," says
    Wali, covered with dust from the clean-up operation. "They made a mistake.
    We will forgive them this first time. But if they do it again, they are our
    The blasts that shocked civilians in these villages are not the only ones
    to go awry. US planes, for example, dropped eight tons of bombs on
    warehouses of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul last
    Thursday - the second time in a month they were struck by American bombs.
    Red Cross officials called it "astounding" that the depots, packed with
    blankets and food, clearly marked with red crosses on the roof, could be
    hit again.
    Also on Thursday, a United Nations building that shelters German shepherd
    dogs that sniff out land mines was hit, killing two dogs. Some senior UN
    and relief officials have called for a halt to the bombing to allow aid to
    reach needy Afghans as winter begins to set in.
    Such mistakes make it difficult for Washington to keep the public focus on
    getting the accused terrorist Osama bin Laden and his network in
    Afghanistan. They also highlight the limits of air power, just as mounting
    civilian casualties posed political problems during the sustained US-led
    air campaign against Serbia in 1999.
    "It's a race against time," says Lt. Gen. Talat Masood, a retired commander
    in the Pakistan Army and now a defense analyst in Islamabad. "The Americans
    want to prolong the war so that they can achieve their goals. But there are
    ripple effects here in Pakistan and other Muslim countries, as civilian
    casualties increase and as Ramadan approaches, opposition to the war can
    He adds that "you have to give the Americans some credit. They have
    succeeded in creating chaos for the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and there is
    hardly any government left in Afghanistan. But the people don't see any
    alternative yet, to look to or to change sides. There has to be some
    success, either militarily or politically, in the next few weeks in order
    for people to think of changing sides."
    Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has called for 72 hours of worldwide
    protests by Muslims "who feel that holy war is part of Islam."
    President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, a critical ally in the US effort,
    said Friday that the US should switch to a "political strategy," due to
    concern "at all the civilian casualties" and the "miseries" Afghans are
    being put through.
    But the political strategy is also in trouble. Privately, Pakistani
    officials and observers say the past three weeks have shown America's key
    weaknesses - the lack of hard intelligence, a cultural understanding, or
    knowledge of the conditions on the ground. In the eastern mountains, where
    the bulk of Afghanistan's population lives, guerrilla warriors have the
    advantage and the Taliban could conduct hit-and-run attacks long after
    their government falls. In order to defeat the Taliban in these conditions,
    the US would need to have the firm support of local populations. To gain
    that support, particularly among the ethnic Pashtun tribal leaders who are
    reported to be wavering in their support of the Taliban, America would need
    to offer something in return, especially the promise of continued safety
    from revenge attacks by pro-Taliban forces.
    It is for this reason that the capture of top anti-Taliban leader Mr. Haq
    last week is such a public relations disaster. Haq, a member of the Pashtun
    ethnic majority and hero of the mujahideen war against the Soviets,
    returned to his native Afghanistan. Some relatives say he was on a "peace
    mission," while others say he had gone to Afghanistan to avenge the murders
    of his wife and daughter last year, in an attack attributed to Taliban
    Abdul Qadir, a leader in the opposition-held town of Golbahar, says he was
    "surprised" that his brother had moved so quickly into Afghanistan, and had
    pleaded with him to delay his trip. He wanted them to enter their
    respective tribal areas together, to win over wavering Pashtuns from the
    "He could have mustered 2,000 or 3,000 warriors, but he came with only 25,"
    Qadir says. "He was on a mission of peace, not to fight."
    The Taliban, for their part, say Haq had come to launch an
    anti-Taliban rebellion in his home province of Nangrahar. Tipped off by
    their intelligence network along the border, the Taliban captured Haq
    within hours of his arrival and executed him that very day.
    In addition, the Taliban claim they have Haq's list of names and phone
    numbers of tribal leaders and other Afghans presumed to be ready to join a
    post-Taliban government - including possibly members of the Taliban
    government. If true, more executions are likely to follow, and the American
    effort to create a broad-based government of Afghans will have suffered a
    devastating blow.
    "Setback is an understatement. This is a fiasco, a debacle," says Rifaat
    Hussein, chairman of the Defense and Strategic Studies department at
    Quaid-I-Azam University in Islamabad. "In a way, this destroys the whole
    idea that if you engage with the Taliban, and play ball with them, you can
    find some moderate elements that you can work with. Now, short of the
    physical destruction of Afghanistan, there is no way to achieve the goals."
    In this way, Haq's execution could be a turning point in the war, Hussein
    says, as the political option of negotiation and nation-building are set
    aside and the military option becomes the only viable option. But dropping
    the political option altogether may have massive repercussions in Pakistan,
    he adds.
    "The hawks will say that without a full-scale military effort, there is no
    way to remove the Taliban," Hussein says. "But here in Pakistan, people say
    the military option hasn't produced any results after three weeks and the
    political option should move faster. With Haq's execution, this will
    definitely deter those who are thinking of leaving the Taliban," he says.
    On Sunday, it was as if the Pentagon were reassessing their strategy in
    adherence to the old Chinese maxim: "No military plan survives contact with
    the enemy." It was eerily quiet across the Shomali Plain north of Kabul.
    Only one reconnaissance plane flew across the sky, residents of Raqi said,
    at six o'clock in the morning.
    But even as people here buried their dead, picked through the debris for
    belongings, and began to rebuild their lives yesterday, they said they
    favored US military action - with more accuracy.
    "They should know which village is Northern Alliance, and which village is
    Taliban, says Shahbuddin, who lives 100 yards away from the blast site.
    "The bombings should continue. But they should take time to show pilots
    which village is which."


    US bomb kills 10 civilians in opposition-held Afghanistan


    (Kabul, October 28)

    A stray US bomb killed at least 10 people Saturday when it hit a northern
    Afghan village in territory controlled by anti-Taliban forces, a medical
    source said.

    An ambulance driver who went to the village, which is three kilometres (two
    miles) from the Taliban frontlines northeast of Kabul, said 10 civilians
    were killed instantly by the bomb and at least another six injured.

    A foreign ministry official from the opposition Northern Alliance confirmed
    a US bomb hit the village of Khan Agaha at the mouth of the Kapisa valley at
    4.30 pm (1200 GMT) in territory it controlled.

    The misguided strike occurred during the heaviest day of US bombing on the
    ruling Taliban regime's frontlines north of the Afghan capital.

    In morning and afternoon raids Saturday, US warplanes dropped up to 35 bombs
    at the mouth of the Kapisa valley, 80 kilometres northeast of Kabul, and
    near Bagram airbase, about 40 kilometres north of the capital.

    A source at a hospital in the nearby Panjshir valley, which is run by the
    Italian relief agency Emergency, said up to 16 people may have been killed
    in Saturday's attack on Khan Agaha.

    However an official spokeswoman for the hospital refused to confirm or deny
    the toll and said a press conference would be given at 11:30 am Sunday.

    Emergency's hospital is two hours drive north of Khan Agaha and is where
    many of the opposition's war wounded are taken.

    The misguided strike adds to the steadily growing list of tragic US bombing
    blunders during the 21-day military offensive against the Taliban.

    In one of the worst previous independently reported incidents, the United
    Nations said nine civilians were killed on Monday when US warplanes dropped
    cluster bombs on a village in the Taliban-controlled western Afghan city of


    Organizations Call for End to Bombing

    New York Times
    October 29, 2001

    A group of American Muslim organizations has called for the United States
    to halt its bombing campaign in Afghanistan and instead develop "a more
    effective and long-term policy" to counter terrorism.

    The document was signed by 15 groups, primarily small ones, but including
    two prominent organizations, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and
    the Islamic Circle of North America. The statement was posted on the
    IslamiCity.com Web site.

    In an interview, Naim Baig, general secretary of the Islamic Circle of
    North America, said the statement was drawn up at a meeting on Oct. 20 and
    21 in Washington.

    Mr. Baig said it reflected a concern among some American Muslims that "this
    bombing is not going anywhere, and more and more civilian casualties are
    going on." The United States began bombing Afghanistan on Oct. 7.

    The statement, signed by groups representing public-policy organizations,
    students and journalists, among others, voices an "unequivocal
    condemnation" of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and calls for the
    perpetrators to be brought to justice. But it says the bombing campaign is
    not in the interests of the United States or the rest of the world.

    "The bombing victimizes the innocent, exacerbates the humanitarian disaster
    and creates widespread resentment across the Muslim world," the statement says.

    The statement also says its signers believe it their "civic duty" to speak
    out in favor of the nation's long-term interests.

    "We strongly reject the suggestion that opposing a certain policy of our
    government is tantamount to disloyalty," it says.

    But in a sign that the bombing has produced differences in opinion among
    Muslim organizations, several major groups did not sign the statement,
    among them the American Muslim Council, Islamic Society of North America
    and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

    Aly R. Abuzaakouk, the American Muslim Council's executive director, said
    the organization stood by a statement it made on Oct. 8, expressing support
    for the Bush administration's campaign against terrorism and its pledge to
    avoid civilian casualties.

    "We did call on the administration to really limit and concentrate on the
    campaign, which is against the terrorists, and safeguard the lives of the
    civilians," he said.

    Mr. Abuzaakouk said he hoped the campaign would be over by the Islamic holy
    month of Ramadan, which begins Nov. 17, although administration officials
    have said the campaign is not likely to be ended by then. Mr. Abuzaakouk
    also said the administration needed to emphasize that the United States
    cares about the Afghan people.

    Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council,
    said his organization had studied the statement asking for a halt to the
    bombing but decided not to sign, in part, he said, because it did not offer
    "practical alternatives" to the military campaign.

    "We support the president's initiative to defeat terror," Mr. Al-Marayati
    said. "The country was attacked, and we want the perpetrators brought to

    Officials of the Islamic Society of North America could not be reached for

    Speaking for the Islamic Circle of North America, Mr. Baig said the
    statement represented a shift, as the organization had not originally
    opposed the bombing, as long as there were no Afghan civilian casualties.
    But reports of such casualties persuaded the organization to change its
    stand, he said.

    He said the organization was concerned that the bombing of Afghanistan
    would ultimately work against American foreign policy interests.

    "It's going to breed more anger" among Muslim nations, Mr. Baig said.


    US plays down casualties

      From AFP

    WASHINGTON: The United States has played down mounting concern over the
    civilian casualties of its Afghan campaign as unrest in Pakistan reached
    dramatic proportions, with 18 Christian worshippers shot dead.

    Even as beleaguered Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf protested that the
    civilian toll in neighbouring Afghanistan was "excessive", top US and
    British officials insisted the military action would continue, possibly for

    Hundreds of civilians are believed to have died in three weeks of air
    strikes over Afghanistan.

    But US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused Afghanistan's ruling
    Taliban of lying about the toll and of using mosques and schools as
    ammunition depots and command centres.

    At the same time, he praised Musharraf for coping with "a very difficult

    Pakistan, a key ally in the US-led campaign, has faced an increasingly
    violent backlash from Islamic fundamentalists.

    Three unidentified gunmen killed 18 people yesterday when they opened fire
    on a protestant congregation in Bahawalpur, in what was widely seen as an
    act of revenge against the US bombings.

    Jordan's King Abdullah II, said the massacre underscored concerns that
    "Osama bin Ladens" around the world were trying to pit East against West.

    The United States claims bin Laden and his Afghanistan-based al-Qaeda
    network masterminded the September 11 airborne suicide attacks that killed
    about 5000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

    In the south-western Pakistani city of Quetta, near the Afghan border,
    three people were killed and 25 injured when a bomb exploded on a bus.

    In the North West Frontier Province, Pakistani authorities also tried to
    control thousands of armed Pashtun tribesmen massed on the Afghan border in
    a bid to join the Taliban - whom the United States accuses of supporting

    Abdullah Abdullah, foreign minister for the opposition Northern Alliance,
    said he believed some militants had already crossed into Afghanistan and
    demanded that Pakistan stop them.

    Other tribesmen were blocking the historic "Silk Road" to China in protest
    at the US attacks, stranding hundreds of cars and trucks and threatening to
    blow up any vehicle that attempts to force its way through.

    A Muslim radical party threatened to stage a mass sit-in in Islamabad to
    force Musharraf to resign, while two Muslim youth groups said they would
    kill supporters of Afghanistan's former king, Mohammad Zahir Shah.

    But Rumsfeld expressed confidence Musharraf would continue to support the
    US-led military action.

    "Pakistan is not going to pull out," Rumsfeld told the ABC network,
    praising the Pakistani president for "doing a terrific job" and "managing
    in a very difficult situation."

    Rumsfeld, as well as British Foreign Secretary Jack

    - also interviewed on ABC - dismissed claims the US-led campaign was
    foundering in the face of stiff resistance from the Taliban and mounting
    civilian casualties.

    "We feel that the air campaign has been successful," said Rumsfeld.
    made a similar assessment, saying the destruction of the Taliban's air
    capability meant "it's now possible to infiltrate ground troops into
    Afghanistan to fight the Taliban".

    Northern Alliance commanders have said US air strikes along the front lines
    were inefficient and had failed to shake the ruling militia's resolve.

    Yesterday US warplanes opened up a new front, dropping bombs for the first
    time on Taliban positions in north-east Afghanistan, close to the Tajik
    border, a top opposition general said.

    US and British officials insisted the campaign was on target and stressed
    it would continue, despite calls for a cease-fire during the Muslim holy
    month of Ramadan, which starts in mid-November.

    Calls for a halt to the bombing came amid mounting criticism of the cost
    the civilian population is having to pay for the air strikes that forced
    hundreds of thousands of people to flee their home.

    The Taliban claimed last week that more than 1000 civilians died in US
    raids countrywide - a figure Washington has rejected - and an AFP tally of
    civilian deaths compiled from non-Taliban sources stands at 390.

    Among the latest victims were 10 civilians killed in Kabul when a US bomb
    destroyed three houses in the impoverished Char Qala neighbourhood,
    residents said.

    The US-led coalition had already suffered a blow when opposition commander
    Abdul Haq, a hero of Afghan resistance to the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation,
    was captured and executed by the Taliban on Friday.

    The ruling militia refused to allow Abdul Haq's body back into Pakistan for
    burial next to his wife and children and buried him instead in his home
    village, an aide said.

    The Washington Post said that when he entered Afghanistan last week, Abdul
    Haq had expected to find anti-Taliban support in border villages, but found
    instead people outraged with the US campaign.

    He was cornered while attempting to escape on horseback with a party of 19
    and asked for US helicopters to rescue him but they never arrived, an
    associate told the Post.

    But US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the United States did try to

    Abdul Haq "requested assistance and received it," Rumsfeld told ABC,
    adding: "The assistance unfortunately was from the air, and he was on the
    ground. And regrettably, he was killed."

    In New York, thousands of friends and relatives attended an emotionally
    charged memorial service for those who died when two hijacked jetliners
    slammed into the World Trade Centre.

    The interdenominational service was held in full view of the still
    smoldering rubble of the twin towers that until September 11 were among the
    best known New York landmarks.

    Meanwhile, US authorities reported another victim in a string of
    bioterrorist attacks in the United States, saying a New Jersey postal
    worker was diagnosed with anthrax.

    Three people have died and a further 12 have been infected with the rare
    bacteria that has been mailed to media organisations and political offices
    in the United States.


    Mixed reaction to NYC peace march

    By Joseph Winter
    BBC News Online correspondent in New York

    Three weeks after the United States started to drop bombs on Afghanistan, a
    wide coalition of groups marched through central New York beating drums and
    shouting: "You say 'Bomb', we say 'No'. The racist war has got to go."

    "Our grief is not a cry for war," read one banner.

    On a bitterly cold October afternoon, they only numbered around 1,000, but
    espoused causes from Palestine to the US Green Party, anarchy to
    Yugoslavia, black civil rights to socialism.

    US security forces around the world are on high alert and there were almost
    as many police officers as demonstrators.

    Before the march even left its Times Square rallying point, a convoy of
    fire engines drove up and parked right next to the protesters, sounding
    their sirens in order to drown out the anti-war speakers.

    One fireman, with a look of absolute disgust in his eye, told BBC News
    Online: "You couldn't print what I think about them. I wonder how many
    people they know who are dead, who are buried over there."

    After a few tense minutes, the firefighters left, but only after using a
    public address system to urge the demonstrators to go home.

    Minute's silence

    Some of the marchers said that they had indeed lost friends, relatives and
    colleagues at the World Trade Center.

    They started with a minute's silence for those who died on 11 September
    "and also for those who have died in Palestine and as a result of US
    foreign policy".

    Moshe Rothenberg, a middle-aged member of a group called Jews for Racial
    and Economic Justice, said that the suicide attacks were just a pretext for
    the war in Afghanistan.

    "We're going to war for oil. Afghanistan is a critical country right next
    to Iran and Bush wants a friendly government there," he said.

    "The US ignores terrorism in Africa and elsewhere. Why? Because there's no

    The International Action Center which helped organise the march says that
    US oil companies want to build a pipeline from the oil-rich Caspian Sea to
    the Indian Ocean - through Afghanistan - and this is why the Bush
    administration is trying to topple the Taleban.

    Organisers also condemned the "racist" arrest of hundreds of Muslims and
    Arabs in the US and elsewhere since 11 September and voiced concern that
    the Anti-Terrorism Act, made into law on Friday would be used to intimidate
    government critics such as themselves.


    So how should the US Government respond to the suicide attacks on New York
    and Washington?

    "I was hoping something would be worked out through the United Nations,
    then he [President Bush] went on his little crusade," said David Huggins,
    carrying a banner declaring that he had sacked Mr Bush.

    "I'm against the US putting its nose in places where it doesn't belong,"
    said spiky-haired high-school student Alex Cowan from Washington DC.

    "That's what made people hate us, want to kill us in the first place."

    As they marched through central New York to an anti-war "teach-in", some
    shop owners locked their doors in case the protest became violent, but it
    passed off without incident.


    Most other New Yorkers ignored them, while a few shouted either insults or
    the occasional word of encouragement.

    A few people even turned up to mount individual "counter-protests".

    John Cutter walked up and down next to the demonstrators waving a small US

    "These people are fools, dreamers and anti-Americans," he said.

    Looking at one of the banners, postal worker Vincent Minicagello told BBC
    News Online: "I believe in justice, not war, but we can't allow people to
    kill Americans and get away with it."

    Street sweeper Desmond Antubam from Ghana could not believe his eyes as he
    watched the marchers troop down 8th Avenue with their police escort.

    He said that he knew friends and colleagues who had died on 11 September
    and called the marchers "a disgrace".

    "There's too much freedom here," he said.


    Target precision eludes an embarrassed military

    Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer
    Sunday, October 28, 2001

    It's a recurring -- and bloody -- military embarrassment:

    When a war starts, the military touts its "precision bombing" as a
    relatively humane, and much faster, way to win the conflict.

    The media run stories about "smart" bombs savvy enough to "fly down chimneys."

    In reality, many high-tech "smart" bombs go off course, killing civilians.
    Red-faced, the brass admit that "precision bombing" -- although it has
    gotten more precise over the years, thanks to innovations including laser-
    and satellite-guided bombs -- remains imprecise.

    And fatally so, as revealed by recent deaths of Afghans killed by errant U.
    S. bombs.

    "The bottom line is that in some ways we have become victims of our own
    hype. The term 'surgical air strike' remains an oxymoron," said Professor
    Conrad Crane of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. He is a leading
    authority on the history of air power and precision bombing doctrines who
    received his doctorate in history at Stanford University.

    Friday's explosion near a Red Cross compound in Kabul was the latest
    instance of wayward U.S. bombs -- including one whose guidance system
    apparently failed -- landing on the wrong target in Afghanistan. The result
    was a blaze in a warehouse filled with humanitarian goods. The same
    compound was hit by U.S. jets Oct. 16.

    Referring to wayward bombs in general, Crane said: "They always call these
    errant bombs. (But) even bombs that are not errant can kill civilians. You
    can't predict blast effects. . . . A 1,000- or 2,000-pound bomb has large
    blast effects; you can't (control) where the shrapnel and debris go."

    The technology of precision bombing isn't a total delusion, said Crane,
    author of "Bombs, Cities, and Civilians: American Airpower (in) World War II."

    "Precision bombing has made extraordinary advances since World War II,"
    Crane said. "In World War II, in order to hit a target, 12 aircraft (might
    bomb) a square mile and destroy the factory they were aiming at. Now, we've
    developed laser-guided bombs and cruise missiles that are much more accurate."

    Result: fewer unintended civilian casualties.

    On the other hand, "we've just oversold expectations," Crane said.

    "Precise" bombing can still be frustrated by a wide range of factors:

    -- Wind can nudge bombs off course.

    -- Poor intelligence can mislead the military about the location or
    identity of targets. That's how U.S. forces in the Bosnian conflict
    accidentally bombed the Chinese Embassy.

    -- Enemy forces can abandon cities, which otherwise contain ideal targets
    for "smart" bombs such as government and military headquarters and factories.

    -- The enemy can take shelter in targets that attackers are reluctant to
    bomb. For example, Taliban forces are reportedly hiding in mosques.

    -- The enemy can fool an attacker into wasting bombs by erecting fake
    targets, such as "tanks" made of wood.

    Despite their technical shortcomings, why doesn't the military use smart
    bombs all the time? Most of the bombs dropped in the Afghanistan war are
    old- fashioned "dumb" bombs that obey only one rule: the law of gravity.

    For one thing, "the smart bombs are expensive and you don't have a lot of
    them in stock," Crane said. Also, in some military engagements, a general
    may wish to unleash a less precise, more devastating attack for
    psychological reasons.

    "The most fearsome weapon in the world besides a nuclear weapon is a B-52
    (bomber)," Crane said. "You come in with a B-52 with 100 bombs and the
    ground shakes -- the psychological impact is phenomenal."

    Ironically, at the dawn of the air age almost a century ago, visionaries
    foresaw aerial bombing as a more humane way to fight war. Bombers, they
    theorized, would penetrate enemy lines and quickly destroy the economic
    basis of enemy power -- munitions factories, electric power plants and
    military headquarters.

    That way, the war would end relatively fast, saving countless thousands of
    lives on both sides.

    In World War II, one of the most publicized bombing innovations was the
    Norden bombsight, which supposedly allowed bombardiers to target their
    bombs more precisely. Newspapers of the day claimed the bombsight made it
    possible to drop a bomb "into a pickle barrel."

    Even so, U.S. bombers wrought terrific damage all over the place, much of
    it unintended. During the U.S. aerial assault on Monte Cassino in Italy in
    1944, one observer joked darkly: "They were dropping them all over the
    landscape. Maybe it was true that they could hit a pickle barrel with that
    Norden bombsight, but there were no pickle barrels in the Liri Valley that
    day. "

    Despite "extraordinary" advances in bomb targeting since then, Crane said,
    absolute precision remains elusive: "American air power is never as bad as
    its critics claim. But it's never as good as its supporters claim."
    E-mail Keay Davidson at kdavidson@sfchronicle.com.


    "Forgotten Needs" Of Afghani Women, Children

    Oct 27, 2001
    by Candace Hammond, UN Wire, Oct. 23


    U.N. Population Fund officials yesterday highlighted
    the "forgotten needs" of Afghan women and children who
    are caught up in the midst of the current humanitarian
    crisis in Afghanistan, but expressed optimism that the
    agency will be able to obtain the $4.5 million it is
    seeking from international donors for an emergency
    reproductive health effort. The UNFPA launched the
    appeal a few weeks ago as part of its largest-ever
    humanitarian operation to assist Afghan women.

    Pam DeLargy, manager of the UNFPA's Humanitarian
    Response Group and senior coordinator of the UNFPA's
    response in Afghanistan, told reporters during a
    special media briefing yesterday that because of the
    large-scale refugee movements currently taking place
    in the country, women already in precarious situations
    due to lack of food and sanitation are also
    experiencing a need for proper prenatal care, iron
    supplements to combat anemia, safe blood transfusions
    in the event of traumatic miscarriages and emergency
    obstetric care when they are forced to give birth in

    Currently, 99 percent of births in Afghanistan are
    unattended, and the maternal mortality rate of 17
    deaths per 1,000 women is the world's second-highest.
    In the next 12 months, 20,000 women are expected to
    need medical treatment for miscarriage or other serious
    obstetric and gynecological problems, according to the

    DeLargy said Afghan women are also at risk of sexual
    violence, domestic violence, sexual exploitation and
    unsafe abortions during this chaotic period, adding
    that young people in particular are vulnerable during
    the crisis to risky behaviors that can lead to being
    infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted
    diseases. DeLargy also said that while many don't
    want to discuss it, women in Afghanistan also
    desperately need the most basic hygiene products,
    supplies that "can easily get forgotten" during
    humanitarian crises. "It should be fairly obvious
    that all reproductive-age women and girls continue to
    be women and girls even if they are also refugees,"
    she said.

    Phyllis Oakley, former U.S. assistant secretary of
    state for population, refugees and migration and a
    board member of the U.S. Committee for UNFPA, said a
    long history of deprivation and a lack of nutrition
    among women in Afghanistan exacerbates their current
    health condition. The ruling Taliban "has become
    increasingly repressive towards women," she added.
    And while Afghanistan has always been "one of the
    poorest countries in the

    world, ... most people feel that it has never been as
    intolerant as the government has become now," she said.
    Oakley warned that the health care system for Afghan
    women has deteriorated to "nonexistent" or
    "rudimentary" levels.

    UNFPA Representative In Pakistan Alarmed About

    Dr. Olivier Brasseur, UNFPA representative in Pakistan,
    said at the briefing yesterday that "the current
    situation is very, very worrying." Brasseur said that
    while the borders are closed and the UNFPA is not
    allowed access into the country, some supplies are
    still being channeled into the country through active
    local nongovernmental organizations. But he added
    that for the UNFPA in Pakistan, due to escalating
    security issues and a growing need for reproductive
    health services, "it is getting increasingly difficult
    to provide support inside Afghanistan."

    Brasseur also said that from what he has personally
    witnessed at the borders, women are arriving in what
    Brasseur called "a state of total misery," suffering
    from anemia, infection, starvation and exhaustion.
    Children are also dangerously at risk, Brasseur said,
    saying thatone in four children will die before their
    first birthday. Brasseur said that the U.N.
    agenciesare presently trying to gear up for a massive
    influx of refugees -- up to 1 million in Pakistan,
    500,000 in Iran and thousands more elsewhere. "We are
    trying to preserve their rights and preserve their
    dignity," he said.

    The $4.5 million requested by the UNFPA will be used
    over a six-month period for basic equipment,
    supplies, training and education for safe motherhood
    issues, HIV prevention programs and other similar
    ventures, DeLargy said. The UNFPA is particularly
    interested in distributing "home delivery kits,"
    which include sterilized items that can be used during
    unattended deliveries to help prevent infection in
    newly delivered infants.

    When asked by UN Wire about whether the UNFPA is
    concerned about the potential response from
    international donors for reproductive health efforts in
    Afghanistan, particularly because there are so many
    facets to the humanitarian crisis, DeLargy said, "I
    would have answered this question quite differently six
    months ago, because in fact we've

    had trouble in the past in many other crises getting
    attention to these issues. But I think that globally,
    people are so aware of the plight of Afghan women, that
    it's kind of opened people's eyes to these issues and
    to women's special needs in emergencies. And I hope

    that when or if this problem is solved, people's eyes
    won't close again to these issues."

    DeLargy also said that compared to other appeals by
    U.N. agencies, such as the U.N. High Commissioner for
    Refugees, the UNFPA appeal is "very small" and so far
    donors have responded quickly. "I have to say that
    we're very, very pleased that a number of donors have
    responded very quickly and very positively to our
    appeal," she said


    Opposition to US attacks grows in Pakistan


    Monday, October 29, 2001

    ISLAMABAD -- A mounting civilian death toll and growing unrest in key ally
    Pakistan marked the start of the fourth week yesterday of the US-led
    military campaign on Afghanistan.

    Despite protests by beleaguered President Pervez Musharraf that the civilian
    toll was "excessive," Islamic opposition to the US campaign took alarming
    proportions in Pakistan.

    Six unidentified gunmen killed at least 16 people when they sprayed a
    protestant congregation in Bahawalpur, and three more died when a bomb
    exploded on a bus in Quetta, near Pakistan's southwestern border with
    Afghanistan, police said.

    A Muslim radical party threatened to stage a mass sit-in here to force
    Musharraf to resign over his support for US attacks on Afghanistan, and two
    radical Muslim youth groups in Pakistan's tribal regions publicly threatened
    supporters of Afghanistan's former king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, with death.

    "Any person who works for the return of the ex-king or takes part in
    attempts to overthrow the Taliban government will be killed, his house
    burned and his family expelled from the zone," the groups said.

    Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the head of the Jamaat-i-Islami party, told a rally in
    Lahore that the sit-in here, for which he did not give a date, would result
    in the ouster of the Musharraf government and be the catalyst for an Islamic

    The killings in Bahawalpur and Quetta, unclaimed by any group so far, came
    as Pakistani authorities tried to control thousands of armed Pashtun
    tribesmen massed on the Afghan border in a bid to join the Taliban against
    the US-led anti-terror campaign which they say is a war against Islam.

    Abdullah Abdullah, foreign minister for the opposition Northern Alliance,
    believed some militants had already begun crossing into Afghanistan and
    demanded Pakistan stop them.

    "Whatever it is, it has to be stopped,"Abdullah told reporters in Jabal
    Seraj. "Pakistan cannot claim to co-operate with the international alliance,
    get debt relief and then allow thousands to cross and fight the people of

    In a parallel move, other tribesmen have since Thursday -- the start of the
    gathering on the border -- blocked the historic "Silk Road" to China in
    protest at the US attacks, stranding hundreds of cars and trucks and
    threatening to blow up any vehicle that attempts to force its way through.

    Police said they believed the massacre in Bahawalpur -- the worst attack
    ever against Pakistan's Christian minority, condemned by Pope John Paul II
    as a "further tragic act of intolerance" -- may have been an act of
    terrorist revenge against the US bombings.

    The killings, commented Jordan's King Abdullah II, underscore concerns that
    "Osama bin Ladens" around the world are trying to pit East against West.

    Among at least 10 civilians killed in Kabul yesterday when a US bomb
    destroyed three houses in the impoverished Char Qala neighbourhood were
    eight children, six of them from the same family, residents said.

    The Taliban claimed last week that more than 1000 civilians died in US raids
    countrywide -- a figure Washington has rejected -- and an AFP tally of
    civilian deaths compiled from non-Taliban sources stands at 390, 37 of them
    in Kabul.

    Pakistani police said the bearded gunmen who arrived by motorcycle burst
    into the Bahawalpur church just before the end of the weekly service
    yesterday and sprayed the praying crowd with fire from AK-47 assault rifles.

    Among the dead was a policeman standing guard outside St Dominic Catholic
    Church, shared with the region's protestants.

    Walls were awash with blood, some 2000 friends and relatives wept, some of
    them overcome with anger that repeated appeals for extra security had been

    "We will commit suicide and start a campaign of self-immolation if the
    killers are not arrested soon," Shehzad Masih, whose son was wounded in the
    attack, told provincial Law Minister Khalid Ranjha, who visited the church.
    "We are Pakistanis," said a nun, Sister Barkat. "We have nothing to do with
    the US attacks."

    A police officer at the scene of the Quetta bus bombing said two of the dead
    were soldiers and nine of the 25 wounded were in a serious condition.

    In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair prepared to urge a confused
    British public to show "moral fibre" by holding firm in the fight against
    terrorism, as ministers stressed Britain was committed "for the long haul".

    "Britain is a very moral nation with a strong sense of right and wrong, and
    that moral fibre will defeat the fanaticism of the terrorists and their
    supporters," Blair was expected to tell the Welsh Assembly tomorrow,
    according to Downing Street.

    The US-led campaign has been foundering in the face of stiff resistance from
    the Taliban, mounting civilian casualties that have sparked anger among
    Muslim allies, and a growing tide of refugees.

    A further blow came on Friday when opposition commander Abdul Haq, a hero of
    Afghan resistance to the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation, was captured and
    executed by the Taliban.


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