[sixties-l] Antiwar News...(# 34) (fwd)

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Date: Tue Nov 20 2001 - 19:32:29 EST

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    Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2001 12:57:33 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Antiwar News...(# 34)

    Antiwar News...(# 34)

    --US and UK Bombs Create Terror in Afghanistan
    --A War Against Civilians?
    --Afghanistan bombing still not justified
    --Demonstrators in Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh protest bombing
    --Misdirected air strikes kill more civilians in Kabul
    --CNN staffers are told to blame Taliban
    --Anti-war protesters target Government building
    --Acts of Hypocrisy: Why They Hate Us
    --Taliban's Foes Say Bombing Is Poorly Aimed and Futile
    --Afghanistan's biggest power station hit
    --War without witnesses
    --List of incidents where US bombs have struck non-military targets
    --Drop in support for war
    --CNN Says Focus on Civilian Casualties Would Be "Perverse"

    Also of interest (links only):
    (Anti-war links/resources at the end.)

    US and UK Bombs Create Terror in Afghanistan

    Bombing Mud Houses, Buses and Hospitals

    by Heather Cottin

    The war in Afghanistan is creating what United Nations official Stephanie
    Bunker is calling, "the most serious, complex emergency in the world ever."

    "As many as 100,000 more children will die in Afghanistan this winter unless
    food reaches them in sufficient quantities in the next six weeks," said Eric
    Laroche, UNICEF spokesman in an interview with the Times of India on October
    29th. "If you have turned on the television over these past few days, you
    have seen injured bodies of young children, I ask you all: What could be

      "If you are a child born in Afghanistan today, you are 25 times more likely
    to die before the age of five than an American or a French or a Saudi Arabian
    child." Laroche said. More than half the children in Afghanistan were
    already malnourished and 300,000 children died each year from preventable
    causes inside the country.

    Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries of the world. Their infant
    mortality rate is 165 per 1000 births. Their life expectancy is 46. UNICEF
    statistics show the problem of stunting affecting over 50% of all children.

    The American press is nearly devoid of information about the conditions of
    the impoverished Afghanis. The British press is slightly better. The British
    tabloid, The Mirror is usually supportive of British foreign policy. But
    author and former Mirror editor John Pilger wrote a scathing critique of
    Downing Street's Afghan policy. "One of the poorest, most stricken nations
    has been terrorized by the most powerful - to the point where American pilots
    have run out of dubious "military" targets and are now destroying mud houses,
    a hospital, Red Cross warehouses, lorries (buses) carrying refugees".

    The London Observer on October 28th, reported that US warplanes hit a
    residential area in the Afghan capital of Kabul killing at least 13 civilians
    and virtually wiping out one family.

    In Islamabad, Stephanie Bunker confirmed that a hospital was hit in the
    Afghan city of Heart in an air raid carried out by American military
    aircraft. Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Sallam Zaeef, stated
    that there were around one hundred victims among the doctors, nurses, and
    patients when the hospital received a direct hit from a bomb dropped during
    a US air raid over the city.

    Every time the Afghanis claim that there are civilian casualties, the United
    States government discounts the reports. Yet According to United Nations
    officials up to 70 percent of the populations of the towns of Herat and
    Kandahar have now fled from bombing raids.

    Agence France Presse reported on October 12 that Britain's International
    Development Secretary Clare Short on Friday denied Taliban reports that the
    US-led bombing campaign in Afghanistan had killed hundreds of innocent

      The staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) countered that
    claim. People arriving at the Pakistan border told of seeing dead and
    starving children and many homeless and desperate families. And they expect
    the situation to worsen. According to UNHCR spokesman Yusuf Hassan, the
    60,000 refugees presently fleeing will climb to 300,000 within weeks and up
    to 1.5 million in the longer term.

    When the snows begin and temperatures plummet to 20 degrees below zero, the
    situation for those who remain in their homes and for the refugees on the
    run who are now starving and homeless will be horrific.

    Already, conditions in the villages where poor peasants and workers live far
    from Taliban positions have become nightmarish. By October 25, stories began
    to emerge which horrified the British.

    "Not long after 7 PM on Sunday, Oct. 21 the bombs began to fall over the
    outskirts of Torai village. Mauroof saw a massive fireball rising from the
    ground." He realized that "bombs had fallen over the little cluster of
    houses a mile away where his sister and his other relatives were living." So
    wrote the Times of London, describing the destruction of an entire family.
    "The roll call of the dead read like an invitation list to a family wedding:
    his mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law, three brothers-in-law, and four of
    his sister's five young children, two girls and two boys, all under the age of

      A Killing Field in a Canister

    The agony of Afghanistan is intensified by the use of weapons known as
    cluster bombs. The Times of London writes, "Prime Minister "Tony Blair
    constantly parades his humanitarianism. This must extend to the
    choice of bombs. Of choice in the US/UK bombing raids "is a CBU-87/B,
    containing bright yellow submunitions. for attacking soft target areas
    (including human beings) with detonating bomblets".

    The cluster bombs also serve as land mines and detonate later, even years
    later, when they are unearthed. The Times noted that the US lobbied at a
    landmine conference some years ago against classifying cluster bombs as
    landmines. But they serve this secondary and murderous purpose. "35,000
    unexploded bomblets in Kosovo still kill one person a week." They are still
    killing people in Laos, 30 years after the war there ended.

    The Times added. "Unexploded cluster bombs are a horror, (since) the bright
    yellow coloring of the canisters makes them horribly appealing to children.
    As reported in The Times, these weapons are "a killing field in a canister,
    designed to massacre anything within 100 feet."

    Such a massacre took place in the village of Shakar Qala. The UN confirmed
    that eight people had been killed immediately when the village was attacked.
    A ninth person died after picking up the parachutes attached to the cluster

    "He went to look at the object, touched it and it blew up," Stephanie Bunker
    said. Fourteen others were injured and 20 of the village's 45 houses were
    destroyed or badly damaged.

    The endless exodus from major cities and little hamlets of Afghanistan is
    growing. As a "humanitarian gesture," the United States has dropped
    approximately one million packages of food on the refugees. But because it
    is wrapped in yellow packaging, and because US planes have also bombed
    refugee columns, unsuspecting and starving refugees have grabbed yellow
    cluster bombs, thinking they were food. The result has been death and

    To counteract this, the US has dropped pamphlets explaining the difference
    between the bomb canisters and the food packets, said the BBC. Since most
    Afghanis are illiterate, it is doubtful they understand the written
    instructions., which begin, "Attention, noble Afghan people," and conclude
    with the statement." Do not confuse the cylinder-shaped bomb with the
    rectangular food bag,"

    Reports on Refugees

      To make the situation more ghastly, US planes is dropping food into the
    largest minefield in the world, a leftover from the mining done during the
    ten years of war the US funded against the Marxist government of

    Pravda reported that "refugees arriving in the Pakistani city of Qetta
    yesterday claimed that a column of refugees trying to escape the bombing
    after their houses had been destroyed was strafed, also by American aircraft,
    and that 20 members of the column, including nine children, had been killed.
    The incident took place at Tarine Khot, near Kandahar. One refugee who
    witnessed the event stated that there were no Taliban bases within a radius
    of three kilometres from where the homes were destroyed.

    Eyewitnesses stated that a 1,000-pound bomb had been dropped on October 23rd
    in a field near an old people's home near Kandahar. The British Ministry of
    Defense admitted that there had been military activity against Taliban camps
    in the area on that day.

    Although Pravda calls reports by the Taliban suspect, labeling the "Taliban
    pathological and compulsive liars," the paper admitted, "reports of
    collateral damage are true."

    The Times of India reported on Thursday, November 1 that 'The Kajaki
    hydro-electric power station in Helmand province was bombed on Wednesday
    afternoon," October 31. "So far water has not started gushing out of the dam
    but any further bombing will destroy the dam. It may cause widespread
    flooding, putting at risk the lives of thousands of people," said an Afghani
    spokesman. The electricity the dam generated has been cut.

    So now Afghanistan is without electricity to two major cities, and water
    processing facilities have also been destroyed.

    When the death toll reached 1500, the United States began to complain about
    the unreliability of the reports, and CNN began to downplay the visual
    depictions of the anguish of Afghanistan. As US military action in this
    beleaguered nation intensifies, as Condoleeza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld
    escalate their shrieks for revenge, the victims multiply.

    Collateral damage

    The weapons the US is using in Afghanistan are already causing injuries
    consistent with those caused by Depleted Uranium and other chemical weapons
    used in Iraq and Yugoslavia. Pravda noted "Deputy public health minister,
    Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, said the government did not having testing
    facilities," and urged outside observers to view the injuries from the
    bombing attacks.

    The Pentagon has admitted this week bombing an old people's home in Herat
    but claimed a "targeting error". Two weeks ago, bombs killed dozens in the
    village of Karam. Steven Gutkin, Associated Press writer, reported Thursday,
    Oct. 25 from KORAK DANA, Afghanistan of a U.S. attack on Kandahar which hit
    a bus at the city gates Thursday, killing at least 10 civilians in a fiery

    The AP reported on October 26. "In separate raids late Thursday and early
    Friday, F/A-18 jets dropped two one-ton bombs on the Red Cross warehouse
    complex, the Defense Department said in a statement." They claimed this was
    an error, but the bombing took place in broad daylight and the Red Cross was
    clearly painted on the roof of this building. This was the second time these
    facilities had been bombed, and the supplies, now destroyed, would have fed
    and clothed many Afghans.

    The genocidal bombing and heartless devastation of the Afghani people is
    part of the "great game" of the great powers, which has nothing to do with
    "fighting terrorism." As Pilger points out, "The "war on terrorism" is a
    cover for this: a means of achieving American strategic aims that lie behind
    the flag-waving facade of great power."

    The Great Game

    In the book, The Grand Chessboard, Zbigniew Brzezinski urged a major role
    for the US in Central Asia and the Middle East. Brzezinski was Jimmy Carter's
    national security advisor, and was he who instigated the CIA's arming and
    training of the Mujahadeen in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was his policy
    that helped to create those fundamentalist pawns including the Taliban. They
    were organized to overthrow Afghanistan's Marxist government and to draw the
    USSR into a terrible quagmire. This policy was instrumental in fomenting the
    destruction of socialism in the USSR.

    "For America" after the Cold War, Brzezinski wrote, "the chief prize is
    Eurasia." Why? Because it contains the "Central Asian region and the Caspian
    Sea basin, known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those
    of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea."

    Brzezinski warned against "a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps
    Iran" as "the most dangerous scenario." What nation stands in the middle of
    those three nations? Afghanistan.

    It was Brzezinski who was a leading architect for the expansion of NATO. He
    wrote, "A comprehensive U.S. policy for Eurasia as a whole will not be
    possible if the effort to widen NATO, having been launched by the United
    States, stalls."

    So the war in Afghanistan is a continuation of the wars on Yugoslavia. And
    it continues to expand the reach of NATO eastward. Brzezinski even called
    Central Asia the "Eurasian Balkans" and noted that they are "infinitely
    more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of
    natural gas and oil reserves located in the region, in addition to important
    minerals, including gold . . . "

    John Pilger in the Mirror wrote, "the overwhelming majority of the Islamic
    peoples of the Middle East and south Asia have been victims of the West's
    exploitation of precious natural resources in or near their countries." As
    George W. Bush and Tony Blair blather on about terrorism, millions of people
    are watching them murder Afghani children.

    The war is one month old and a peace movement is burgeoning in over 20
    countries. This is an anti-imperialist movement which understands this war
    is about the profits of British and US oil companies. It is clear to all who
    look: the Great Game is based on murder of innocents and plunder of

    In the 19th century Britain attempted to take over Afghanistan. It bogged
    down and one of its leading generals said, "Mark my words, it will not be
    long before there is some signal catastrophe." The war for Central Asia may
    prove to be imperialism's "signal catastrophe." Pilger writes, "the British
    Royal Marines, who will do the real dirty work, will be little more than
    mercenaries for Washington's imperial ambitions."

    The British 19th century poet,Thomas Campbell, writng about another
    imperialist war and the men who died for Britain penned,

    "The snow shall be their winding sheet,
    And every turf beneath their feet
    Shall be a soldier's sepulchre."

    As the snows of winter descend on this tragic nation, they may well prove to
    be the winding sheet of imperialism. Support for the US/UK war in
    Afghanistan is waning worldwide as the death count rises.


    A War Against Civilians?


    November 2, 2001
    by Mark Weisbrot

    President Bush has declared a "war on terror," and political leaders such as
    House minority leader Dick Gephardt insist that "this is not a strike
    against the people of Afghanistan."

    But the evidence is accumulating that our current military campaign is
    indeed, as most of the world sees it, being waged against the Afghan people.

    Consider this statement from Admiral Michael Boyce, Chief of the British
    Defense Staff. Referring to the bombing campaign, he said, "The squeeze
    will carry on until the people of the country themselves recognize that this
    is going to go on until they get the leadership changed."

    It seems clear from this statement that Admiral Boyce sees the punishment of
    Afghan civilians, including their children, as an important part of the
    US/British strategy. On September 16 the New York Times reported that our
    government had demanded from Pakistan "the elimination of truck convoys that
    provide much of the food and other supplies to Afghanistan's civilian

    Food shipments fell drastically, although the border has remained porous,
    especially to those who pay bribes. The Taliban is even able to make money
    by exporting things as big as logs.

    In recent weeks the UN World Food Programme has increased its shipments.
    But these are still far short of the amount needed to prevent mass
    starvation during the winter. The increased risk to truck drivers, the
    breakdown in law and order, and other disruptions due to the war are taking
    their expected toll.

    There are currently about 5.3 million people receiving food aid, and this is
    expected to increase to 7.5 million in the near future. In about two weeks
    winter will begin, many roads will become impassible, and people will have
    to rely on stockpiled food. Relief groups have called for a halt in the
    bombing so that food as well as blankets and medicines can get through
    before it is too late. But their appeals have so far gone unheeded.

    And everyone acknowledges that the air drops of food from US planes are so
    small that they are little more than an exercise in public relations.

    What is terrorism? Edward Herman, Emeritus Professor from Pennsylvania's
    Wharton School of Business, has offered a politically neutral,
    straightforward definition of terrorism that is difficult to argue with:
    "the use of force or the threat of force against civilian populations to
    achieve political objectives."

    A strategy to "squeeze" Afghanistan, through bombing and starvation, "until
    the people of the country themselves . . . get the leadership changed"
    would certainly qualify as terrorism under this definition.

    Most Americans would like to see Osama Bin Laden, and anyone else that was
    responsible for the atrocity of September 11, brought to justice. But they
    would certainly be ashamed if they knew that their government was pursuing a
    strategy that involved starving hundreds of thousands, and possibly even
    millions, of innocent people.

    Of course this is not the first time that our government has used collective
    punishment, or terrorism, in order to achieve its political goals: there was
    Nicaragua in the 1980s, Vietnam prior to that, and many other examples. In
    fact, by any objective definition of terrorism one that includes the
    terrorism of states as well as individuals the United States has been its
    largest single sponsor over the last half-century.

    This war is different, in that it originated with a horrific terrorist
    attack on Americans. But the collective punishment of the people of
    Afghanistan is no more excusable than the crimes of September 11. As such,
    it will only inspire more hatred and terrorism against us.

    There is no military solution to the problem of terrorism within our
    borders. We will have to change our foreign policy, so that our government
    does not make so many enemies throughout the world. Those who collaborated
    in the crimes of September 11 will have to be pursued through legal and
    political channels, including the United Nations.

    A good start would be to cut off the major source of Bin Laden's funding and
    support, which is not in Afghanistan but in Saudi Arabia. The Bush
    Administration has done very little on this front, due to a combination of
    big oil and other "geopolitical" interests. Our government is willing to
    risk American lives, at home and abroad, and kill any number of innocent
    Afghanis, but it is apparently not willing to risk disturbing its relations
    with the Saudi royal family.

    Going the legal route won't boost the President's approval ratings the way a
    war does, nor will it make the world fear our military power. But at least
    we won't be fighting terrorism with more terrorism, and fueling an
    escalating cycle of violence.
    Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research
    in Washington, DC.


    Afghanistan bombing still not justified


    The Irish Times
    Wednesday, October 31, 2001
    By Vincent Browne

    There is so much else to write about - the failure in
    Northern Ireland to resolve conclusively by far the
    most important issue: policing; the deepening poverty
    here and the widening of the inequality gap; the
    continuing nonsense of the Garda obsession with
    cannabis and their "triumph" with the "biggest ever
    haul"; the disappearance of the Celtic Tiger almost
    overnight; the impact of the recession on the media.

    But how can we divert our horrified gaze from the
    awfulness of what is going on in Afghanistan? After
    nearly 24 days of bombardment you wonder what is there
    left to bomb in Afghanistan? They are dropping
    hundreds of bombs per day - say 300, each of about
    2,000 lbs: that's 600 times per day what was detonated
    at Omagh and for each of 24 days. We know now they
    have twice bombed the warehouse of the International
    Committee of the Red Cross, they have bombed a mosque,
    a hospital, a village, wiped out a family: that's what
    is admitted. The Taliban says there were more than
    1,000 civilians killed in the first week. We can
    discount that but are we to believe that only a
    handful have been killed by these "surgical strikes",
    when we know the strikes are not "surgical" and we
    know the explosives used are anything but "surgical"?
    I am referring particularly to the thousands of
    "cluster bombs" that are being dropped every day.

    These bombs were used extensively in the 78-day
    bombardment of Yugoslavia two years ago. A House of
    Commons Defence Committee report, Lessons of Kosovo,
    commented on these cluster bombs: "Each of these
    weapons contains 147 bomblets, primarily firing a
    plasma-jet able to penetrate armour but having a
    secondary anti-personnel effect with over 2,000
    sharpened pieces cutting into the casing." The report
    states that between eight and 12 per cent of these
    cluster bombs (i.e., between 42 and 64 bombs), each
    with 147 bomblets and 2,000 shrapnel pieces, failed to
    explode and therefore are lying around on the ground
    in Yugoslavia. It quotes a report which states that
    only 31 per cent of these cluster bombs hit their
    targets and a further 29 per cent cannot be accounted

    So we can believe that about 70 per cent of these
    bombs, each with 147 bomblets and 2,000 shrapnel
    pieces, do not hit their target and that thousands of
    them have been dropped in the last 24 days? How could
    it be that thousands of civilians have not been maimed
    by these bombs? How could it be, even if the bombing
    stopped now, that thousands more civilians will not be
    maimed or killed by the unexploded "bomblets" that
    will lie around on the ground for years to come?

    One of my correspondents (having got 330 emails after
    my column of two weeks ago I got over 400 to last
    week's column, this time most of them supportive of
    the anti-war stance) has challenged me on what my
    attitude would be if a loyalist gang had hijacked
    three Aer Lingus aircraft and flown them into office
    areas of Dublin, killing 5,000 people, and if this
    gang was harboured by a loyalist government in
    Northern Ireland, that the gang had gone on to call
    for a holy war to kill all Catholics, including all
    Catholics in the South, what would be my attitude
    then? Would I favour the kind of response to the
    Northern state that the Americans are making to the
    Taliban regime in Afghanistan, assuming that the
    Dublin government had the military prowess to respond?

    The answer is: I do not know how the emotional trauma
    of that event would colour my judgment but how should
    I respond? I believe it would be wrong to bomb
    Northern Ireland in the way that the Americans and
    British are bombing Afghanistan. I believe it would be
    wrong to use cluster bombs or any other kind of
    indiscriminate weapons. I believe that before anything
    was done militarily every effort should be made to
    secure the extradition of the culprits either to the
    Republic or to an agreed third state. And I think that
    would be the right response even if my own children
    were victims of the attack on Dublin (although, of
    course, in that event my judgment would be entirely
    overwhelmed by the catastrophe that had occurred).

    But what is going on in Afghanistan is worse than just
    the killing and the maiming caused by the bombing.
    There is also the vast humanitarian crisis. More than
    six million people were "causing concern" to the aid
    agencies prior to the commencement of the bombing -
    "causing concern" is a nice way of saying on the verge
    of death from starvation. Surely thousands of these
    have died by the withdrawal of aid since October 7th,
    when the bombing started? And, as I have written
    before, what is the point of it all? John Ashcroft,
    the US Attorney General, said last week the attack on
    America of September 11th was planned in Germany. Most
    of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia and a few from
    Egypt. Some of these may have been in Afghanistan at
    some time, but so what? They could not have learnt any
    skills in Afghanistan relevant to what they did on
    September 11th. Their fundamentalism was engendered
    not in Afghanistan but in Saudi Arabia (the major
    centre for that kind of fanaticism but that can't be
    mentioned because of the oil) or Egypt or Germany.


    Demonstrators in Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh protest bombing

    Associated Press
    Friday, November 02, 2001

    Mardan, Pakistan -- Urging the army to overthrow President Gen. Pervez
    Musharraf, thousands of Islamic militants marched in this northwestern city
    Friday to protest their government's support for the U.S. military campaign
    in Afghanistan.

    "Musharraf is a risk for Pakistan," Islamic cleric Qazi Hussain Ahmad told
    the crowd of 10,000, many of them ethnic Pashtuns, the largest ethnic group
    in neighbouring Afghanistan.

    Qazi said Musharraf -- an army general who seized power in 1999 -- should be
    deposed. "The sooner, the better," the cleric said.

    The protest in Mardan was the largest of several throughout Pakistan on
    Friday, the Muslim holy day and the usual time for pro-Taliban
    demonstrations against the United States.

    Smaller rallies were also held in the cities of Lahore, Karachi and Quetta.

    Musharraf has endorsed the U.S.-led military campaign, and allowed Americans
    to use Pakistani bases for what his government says is logistical support.

    The overwhelming majority of Pakistan's 145 million people are Muslim, and
    the anti-U.S. rallies have attracted relatively modest numbers considering
    the national population.

    However, Islamic militants have vowed to step up protests against Musharraf
    and pledged a countrywide civil disobedience campaign Nov. 9.

    At Mardan, protesters cheered when Qazi asked if they were ready to join a
    holy war against America. They raised their hands, volunteering.

    "Bush has waged war against Islam and we will defeat him with the power of
    faith," Qazi said. "It is the duty of every Muslim to support Taliban who
    are fighting against a mighty power."

    Qazi, president of Pakistan's main Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, insisted
    his call for a coup was not designed to cause a rift in Pakistan's military.

    "I have just asked the generals to protect the country's last disciplined
    and organized national institution by removing Musharraf, who wants to use
    it for appeasing America," Qazi said.

    Police and paramilitary troops stood guard by the hundreds at the rallies,
    keeping the protests in check.

    Meanwhile, anti-U.S. rallies attracted thousands of protesters Friday in
    Bangladesh and Indonesia.

    After a night of special prayers, nearly 2,000 Muslim men and children in
    flowing white robes and prayer caps held a protest rally outside Baitul
    Mokarram, the main mosque in downtown Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh.

    Another group of about 600 marched toward the U.S. Embassy, but were stopped
    by police outside Dhaka's diplomatic enclave and they dispersed peacefully.

    Chanting anti-American slogans and holding placards in support of the Afghan
    people and the Taliban militia, the protesters demanded an immediate stop to
    the bombing, saying it is "killing innocent civilians."

    Some burned paper and straw effigies of President George W. Bush.

    In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, some 3,000 people
    protesting the U.S. attacks marched through the country's second-largest
    city, Surabya, after midday prayers, chanting "God is Great."

    That demonstration came a day after Indonesian President Megawati
    Sukarnoputri called on Washington to halt the military campaign during the
    Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which starts in mid-November.

    Bush rejected that notion in remarks Friday in a question-and-answer session
    at the White House.

    "The enemy won't rest during Ramadan and neither will we," Bush said.


    Misdirected air strikes kill more civilians in Kabul


    Monday, October 29, 2001
    By Kathy Gannon, The Associated Press

    KABUL, Afghanistan -- American airstrikes meant to punish the Taliban
    spilled over yesterday into residential neighborhoods of the Afghan
    capital, killing 13 civilians, witnesses said. It was the second time in as
    many days that missiles have accidentally hit homes and killed residents.
    Later yesterday, U.S. jets were back over the skies of the beleaguered
    Afghan capital, and strong explosions could be heard in the direction of
    the main road from Kabul to the opposition-controlled Bagram air base.
    Weeping families buried their dead hours after the morning bombardment,
    apparently aimed at Taliban targets to the north and east of Kabul. "I have
    lost all my family. I am finished," said a sobbing woman in the Qali Hotair
    neighborhood on Kabul's northern edge.
    In Washington, Pentagon spokesmen had no immediate comment on the latest
    strikes and civilian casualties involved. It has stressed repeatedly that
    civilians are never deliberately targeted.
    Three weeks after the U.S.-led air assault against Afghanistan began,
    British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed confidence the allies would
    prevail. However, his foreign secretary, Jack Straw, told the British
    Broadcasting Corp. that the war could drag on "indefinitely" and that the
    coalition was considering a pause during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan,
    which begins around Nov. 17.
    When asked about a pause in bombing for Ramadan, Pentagon spokesman Jim
    Turner pointed to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's comment earlier in
    the day that "the northern alliance and the Taliban fought through Ramadan
    year after year."
    "There was a Middle East war during Ramadan. There is nothing in that
    religion that suggests that conflicts have to stop during Ramadan,"
    Rumsfeld said on CNN's "Late Edition."
    In neighboring Pakistan, where the government has had to work to keep a lid
    on pro-Taliban unrest, there was growing concern over civilian casualties.
    "We feel the military action should possibly be short and targeted in order
    to avoid civilian casualties," Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf,
    said after meeting German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
    Pakistan's government has allied itself with the United States in the
    confrontation over Osama bin Laden, chief suspect the Sept. 11 terror
    attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
    In a token of that cooperation, Pakistani officials said yesterday they had
    turned over to U.S. officials a man wanted in connection with another bin
    Laden-linked attack, the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. The handover
    of the suspect, a Yemeni microbiology student, was the first known arrest
    outside Yemen in connection with the Cole attack.
    Elsewhere in Pakistan, at least 16 Christian worshippers were killed in the
    southern town of Behawalpur when attackers suspected of belonging to a
    fundamentalist Muslim group sprayed the church with gunfire.
    It was not known if the attack was related to the U.S. air campaign. But
    the parish priest, Rev. Rocus Patras, suggested it was linked to tensions,
    saying, "Whenever something happens with America, they attack Christian
    Pakistan's main radical Islamic party vowed to step up the challenge to
    Musharraf, saying it and other religious groups would meet Monday to plan a
    10-day protest in the capital to topple the president.
    Qazi Hussain Ahmad, head of the Jamaat-e-Islami, said the protest would
    involve a march into Islamabad and a sit-in.
    Elsewhere in Pakistan, hundreds of armed pro-Taliban Pakistanis seized a
    remote northern town yesterday, demanding that the government stop
    supporting the U.S.-led strikes, witnesses said. The rebels, armed with
    rocket launchers, Kalashnikov assault rifles, handmade guns and swords,
    took over most government offices in Chilas about 200 miles northeast of
    In yesterday morning's airstrikes, witnesses said 10 people were killed in
    the Qali Hotair area. An Associated Press reporter saw six bodies, four of
    them children.
    A wailing father hugged the dead body of his son, who looked barely 2.
    Bereaved women slapped themselves with grief.
    Three other people died near an eastern housing complex called Macroyan,
    witnesses said.
    In Kabul's Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital, a semiconscious 13-year-old named
    Jawad did not yet know that all eight other people in his family had been
    "He asked me, 'How is my family?'" said a neighbor, Mohammed Razi, ushering
    a journalist out of the boy's hospital room. "I said, 'They are all OK. You
    were walking in your sleep, and you fell down the well by your house, and I
    rescued you.'"
    In the Pakistani frontier city of Peshawar, another memorial for the dead
    took place yesterday, but without the corpse.
    The Taliban refused to return the body of Afghan opposition figure Abdul
    Haq, executed Friday after he crossed over into Afghanistan in hopes of
    drumming up support for the anti-Taliban cause. The Taliban said they had
    buried Haq in his home village in Afghanistan.
    The strikes that hit Kabul came only 12 hours after stray bombs landed
    Saturday evening behind the rebel military alliance's battle lines north of
    the capital. Areas behind Taliban lines were also reported hit.
    Eight or nine civilians were killed, most of them in alliance-held areas,
    according to witnesses.
    In the opposition-held village of Ghanikheil, villagers said a 20-year-old
    woman died in the ruins of her mud-brick house, and six were hurt. Four
    others were injured in a nearby house, they said.
    "The sound was huge. The plane swooped downI could hear it dive," said an
    eyewitness, Amin Ullah, 70.
    Rebels confronting Taliban troops north of the capital had been complaining
    publicly that the American airstrikes weren't doing enough to advance their
    cause. It wasn't known if Saturday's heavy raids were in response to that.
    The opposition's spokesman, Abdullah, who uses only one name, called the
    damage to the Taliban front lines from Saturday's raids significant and
    said if such heavy bombardment were routinely employed, "the objective of
    eradicating terrorism could be achieved much quicker."
    The civilian deaths, he said, were an unfortunate mistake.
    "Of course we know this wasn't a deliberate targeting," Abdullah said. "We
    have to coordinate."


    CNN staffers are told to blame Taliban

    Nov 1 2001

    NEW YORK (Variety) - In an effort to balance reports of
    significant civilian casualties in Afghanistan, CNN began
    emphasizing to viewers on Wednesday that the Taliban leadership
    is to blame for the situation.

    An internal memo from the network's standards and practices
    department was issued to all CNN staffers on Tuesday suggesting
    "we must remain careful not to focus excessively on the casualties
    and hardships in Afghanistan that will inevitably be a part of this
    war, or to forget that it is the Taliban leadership that is responsible
    for the situation Afghanistan is now in."
    The memo -- which was circulated after CNN News Group
    chairman/CEO Walter Isaacson raised the issue of editorial
    balance -- said that since it could be difficult for correspondents
    inside dangerous areas in Afghanistan to make these points,
    anchors should be sure to follow each of the reports with a

    Standards and practices suggested that while reporters should put
    the commentary in their own words, they might want to note that
    "these U.S. military actions are in response to a terrorist attack
    that killed close to 5,000 innocent people in the U.S."

    On CNN's Web site, transcripts of reports from Nic Robertson in
    Kandahar, Afghanistan, and Bill Delaney in Islamabad, Pakistan,
    both had a new editor's note at the bottom, which read:

    "The Pentagon has stressed that it is trying to minimize civilian
    casualties in Afghanistan. The U.S.-led coalition launched its
    offensive on Oct. 7 after Afghanistan's ruling Taliban refused to
    hand over members of the Al Qaeda terror network, which is
    suspected of orchestrating attacks in the United States that killed
    close to 5,000 people."

    After Robertson's report was aired, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer
    instructed viewers that the Taliban restricted Robertson's access.
    A CNN spokeswoman noted that "this is certainly something we
    were doing even before the memo," adding that the memo served
    as a reminder to staffers since Robertson was going to be in
    Kandahar when the U.S. was likely going to increase collateral

    In recent days, U.S. newsies have begun to put increased pressure
    on the Bush administration to explain civilian deaths and injuries in
    Afghanistan. The administration has, no doubt, noted that
    worldwide support for the U.S.-led military action has been
    eroding as international TV channels carry images of relentless
    bombing raids in Afghanistan.

    One Capitol Hill insider says the Bush administration is especially
    skittish about CNN, since journalists around the globe rely on the
    24-hour channel as a source for breaking news. CNN has been
    carrying footage provided by the Arab satellite news channel
    Al-Jazeera, which is one of the few networks up and running in

    TV newsies have been on the frontlines in the propaganda wars,
    with the Bush administration asking news executives to think twice
    before airing Taliban or Al Qaeda statements.


    Anti-war protesters target Government building


    Fri, 2 Nov 2001

    Anti-war protesters have occupied a Government department demanding an end
    to the bombing campaign in Afghanistan.

    Some members of the action group "Justice not Vengeance" have chained
    themselves to railings inside the Department for International Development
    in Westminster.

    Reporters are being kept out of the building by police, but a spokesman for
    the group said there are 12 people protesting peacefully against the
    bombing and calling for more food aid to be delivered to the Afghan people.


    Acts of Hypocrisy: Why They Hate Us


    The Black World Today
    October 22, 2001
    By Rufus G. W. Sanders <rgws@aol.com>

    During this unprecedented period of national trauma I have
    been asked time and time again why do so many other nations,
    especially many in the Arab world, hate Americans so much.
    Many of my inquisitors have been young people who are
    seriously historically and politically clueless.
    Unfortunately, it is usually only during times of grave
    international turmoil that we Americans take the opportunity
    to step back and take an honest introspective view of
    ourselves and what others really think of us.

    Of course from our perspective, we are the greatest nation
    on the face of the earth. We believe that we are the
    greatest society that has ever existed. We have been the
    most generous, sensitive, and caring country of any
    nation-state on the planet. Of the 39 different forms of
    democracy within the global community we consider ours to be
    the best and the most unique. We find it very easy to extol
    our virtues of patriotism and freedom, disseminating our
    values around the globe in an arrogance matched only by the
    legendary Pax Romana.

    We extol the values of Democratic Capitalism, but those
    values are actually an oxymoron of both language and
    morality. Because for every group that thrives under the
    American system of capitalism there is a larger group that
    suffers injustice at the hands of that same system.
    Therefore, in reality, what America actually exposes is a
    double standard. This is the beginning reason why we are
    hated so much by other nations. It's the economic and social
    exploitation that we perpetuate, while preaching democracy
    and human rights for all, that makes us so politically
    vulnerable. The world wonders openingly, how can America
    talk about global human rights when we won't even discuss
    Reparations for African-Americans? Of course, bar none, not
    only is that our greatest shame and sin, but it is also our
    greatest hypocrisy.

    How can America call the Taliban terrorist, they wonder,
    when we have always permitted terrorism in the Middle East
    by our major allies against displaced Palestinian people?
    How can we sit silently by and watch the Indian government
    commit acts of terrorism in disputed Kashmir against
    Pakistan and then blame Pakistan for defending herself? Why
    did we not do anything when the Soviets rushed in to
    terrorize the Afghan people in the first place? It was
    America who then helped to foster the growth of the Taliban
    to terrorize the Soviets. It was America who funded the
    Taliban terrorist operations. Something we continued to do
    right up to the September 11th attack.

    It is America's inherent hypocritical policies that make us
    such a hated people. America talks human rights, but we then
    allow Saudi Arabia, one of our major Arab allies, to
    practice some of the same human rights violations against
    their people that we demonize the Taliban for. We bomb the
    Iraqi people for supporting Saddam Hussein, but there was a
    time when we closed our eyes as Hussein repressed his own
    country. Our concerns seem to have been, as long as he did
    not threaten our oil interests, he could do whatsoever he
    wanted. It was only when Saddam invaded Kuwait and
    threatened American oil claims that we went after him and
    then labeled him an evil man. And why won't we go after the
    Russians for the acts of terrorism that they are committing
    in Chechnya? We are hated because of our glaring and
    infamous foreign policy double-standards of economic and
    political imperialist arrogance.

    We are hated because we are viewed by much of the Arab
    world, who are used to terrorism, as using September 11th as
    an excuse to further our imperialist hegemony worldwide in
    the name of combating terrorism. After all, we have always
    known that Osama bin Laden was diabolical, but for years we
    have sat back and watched him amass power and influence and
    did virtually nothing to stop him until recently. Now we are
    bombing the Afghanistan people to smithereens in an attempt
    to flush him out of hiding.

    We are hated because some Arabs see these bombings as an
    excuse to get the kind of control over the rich oil routes
    of Afghanistan, which the Soviets wanted so desperately, as
    well as the Iranians and the Pakistan government. Unknown to
    most Americans is the fact that, "Afghanistan's significance
    from an energy standpoint stems from its geographic position
    as a transit route for oil and gas exports from Central Asia
    to the Arabian Sea. This potential includes proposed
    multi-billion dollar oil and gas export pipelines through
    Afghanistan." Many Arabs feel that the only time the Arabic
    world is of any importance to America is when oil is the

    It's time that the United States take another look at her
    foreign policies, in the Middle East, but especially
    throughout the Arab world. Because until we fairly deal with
    the issues that cause this hate against us, it will be
    America that is actually helping to keep the global
    community a place of instability.


    Taliban's Foes Say Bombing Is Poorly Aimed and Futile

    New York Times. 2 November 2001.

    CHAGATAI -- At first glance, the scene along the Taliban front lines
    appeared to be one of utter devastation: huge circles of charred earth,
    the footprints left by a daylong assault by American B-52's.

    And then, rising from the ashes, came a Taliban soldier in his black
    turban, alive and armed.

    "All day they have been shooting at us," said Muhammad Shah, a 20-
    year-old Northern Alliance soldier at his front-line post.

    "The American bombs were the biggest I have seen in my life, but they
    missed the Taliban."

    All along this stretch of rolling hills two miles south of the
    Tajikistan border, where Taliban and Northern Alliance soldiers are
    separated in some places by no more than a few hundred yards, the
    soldiers gave identical reports: that the waves of American bombs that
    fell here today delivered plenty of flash and thunder but appeared to
    have largely missed their targets.

    Shells and bullets flew out of the Taliban positions almost as soon as
    the smoke had cleared, the soldiers said, and hardly let up through the

    The reports from the front were amplified today by a senior official of
    the Northern Alliance, who complained that the American bombing campaign
    appeared increasingly misguided and ineffectual.

    In an interview at his headquarters just a few miles from the Taliban
    targets that the American bombers were trying to destroy, the alliance's
    deputy defense minister, Atiqullah Baryalai, complained that the
    American use of heavy bombers to strike Taliban targets was a largely
    futile enterprise.

    "Mr. Rumsfeld chooses the targets in America," Mr. Baryalai said,
    referring to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "This is our country.
    We know it best. If I were the defense minister of America, I could use
    his weapons better than he."

    [N.B.] Still, Mr. Baryalai gave a somewhat rosier view of today's
    American airstrikes than many of his local commanders, who said as few
    as 3 bombs out of 30 had struck Taliban positions.

    But he said the B-52's -- the heaviest bombers in the United States
    arsenal -- were too lumbering to hit the zigzag pattern of Taliban
    positions, and were unable to fire into hillsides where many Taliban
    soldiers hide in caves.

    Mr. Baryalai said the B-52's were showing the same disappointing results
    on the Taliban lines near Kabul, the capital, where, he said, they
    apparently missed all their targets.

    Taliban soldiers appeared defiant.

    Mr. Shah, the Northern Alliance soldier, said he was wakened before dawn
    by the first bombs, which landed near the Taliban post a few hundred
    yards in front of him. The ground shook, his dug-out began to cave in,
    and flames shot into the sky.

    "It was like an earthquake," Mr. Shah said, crouching in his trench.

    When the bombs fell, he said, he allowed himself a moment of

    Then the Taliban troops started firing.

    "I grabbed my gun," Mr. Shah said, "because I thought they were going to


    Afghanistan's biggest power station hit



    ISLAMABAD/KHWAJA BAHAUDDIN: US bombs severely damaged Afghanistan's
    biggest dam and power station, cutting electricity to two major cities,
    a Taliban minister was quoted as saying by Afghan Islamic Press on

    The Kajaki hydro-electric power station in Helmand
    province was bombed on Wednesday afternoon and
    electricity supplies to the cities of Kandahar and
    Lashkarga have been completely halted, a Taliban
    official told AFP in Kabul.

    But Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban education minister,
    told the Pakistan-based AIP that the dam has also been
    badly damaged.

    "So far water has not started gushing out of the dam
    but any further bombing will destroy the dam. It may
    cause widespread flooding, putting at risk the lives
    of thousands of people," Muttaqi was quoted as saying.

    Earlier, the Taliban said they had repulsed a major
    opposition attack Thursday on their positions in a key
    valley in northern Afghanistan, the Afghan Islamic
    Press (AIP) reported.

    A Taliban spokesman was quoted as saying that an
    offensive in the Dara-e-Souf valley, about 70 km south
    of the northern bastion of Mazar-i-Sharif, started
    just after midnight.

    The attack came after US warplanes had heavily bombed
    the Taliban frontlines, said the AIP report.
    "Opposition forces failed to advance an inch," the
    spokesman told the Pakistan-based agency. "There is no
    change in the frontline."

    Fighting raged for three hours, said the report. One
    Taliban fighter was killed and five wounded, according
    to the spokesman. There was no estimate of losses on
    the side of the opposition Northern Alliance.

    Meanwhile, US B-52 bombers pounded Taliban positions
    on the northeastern frontline close to the border with Tajikistan early
    on Thursday, opposition officials said.

    It was the third time the key frontline area in
    northeastern Afghanistan has come under attack from US warplanes after
    similar raids on Tuesday and Sunday.

    The latest pre-dawn attack which started around 4 am
    seemed to be the heaviest so far with the explosions
    shaking the town of Khwaja Bahauddin and shattering
    windows some 25 km away.

    General Baryalai, deputy defence minister for the
    opposition Northern Alliance, said by telephone that
    about 15 bombs had been dropped on the same Taliban
    positions targetted earlier this week. More than four
    hours later the raids were continuing.

    But Taliban foreign minister Wakil Ahmed Mutawakel
    made a rare appearance in front of foreign reporters
    in the militia's headquarters of Kandahar late on
    Wednesday to insist the regime's leadership was
    determined not to give in to the military assault.

    The foreign minister, who has been at the centre of
    rumour that he might be at the centre of a breakaway
    movement, said: "There is no split in the Taliban.
    This is the claim of our opponents."

    He added: "Afghanistan is passing through a crucial
    phase. We are compelled to defend ourselves because
    nobody will give us protection."

    Normally a prominent Taliban spokesman, Mutawakel has
    been quiet since the start of the US-led airstrikes
    against the militia over its alliance with alleged
    terrorist Osama bin Laden.

    His absence led to rumours he had gone to Pakistan to
    defect or hold secret negotiations. But he strongly
    denied this and said fighting the United States was
    the only way left for the Taliban.

    "The time for talks with the United States is over,"
    he said. "They want a military solution and they have
    closed the door on negotiation."

    US warplanes have pounded Kandahar since air strikes
    started on October 7. Reporters were taken to one
    dispensary where the Taliban said 13 people were
    killed in a dawn raid on Wednesday.

    The militia now says the death toll from more than
    three weeks of bombing had risen to 1,500 civilians,
    500 more than previously claimed.

    The United States has strongly contested the figures
    and said on Wednesday its bombing was causing
    crippling damage to the Taliban command.

    "I can say that their command and control has been
    cut, severely degraded," Rear Admiral John
    Stufflebeem, deputy director of operations of the US
    Defence Department's Joint Staff said in Washington.
    "They are having extreme difficulty communicating one
    to the other."

    Taliban forces still looked to Mullah Mohammad Omar as
    their leader, but were having difficulty communicating
    with him and getting re-supplied and reinforced, he

    "We believe that puts a terrific amount of stress on
    their military capabilities, as their regional
    commanders who have been used to a lot of top-down
    control may not be getting that now," he said.

    US warplanes rained bombs on Taliban forces on
    Wednesday as US forces stepped up strikes in support
    of opposition forces in the north, defense officials

    A B-52 Stratofortress bomber was seen in action in the
    heaviest bombings to date on the Taliban frontlines
    north of Kabul, reporters said.

    Stufflebeem, while not commenting directly on
    Wednesday's strikes, said B-52s had and would be used
    to carpet Taliban positions with unguided bombs.

    "That is part of our campaign, it is part of our
    capability," he said. "We do use it, we have used it
    and will use it when we need to."

    Meanwhile, the huge flow of refugees heading away from
    the major cities suffered a new blow when Pakistan
    suspended the humantarian entry of sick, injured and
    hungry refugees.

    UN High commission for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman
    Yusuf Hassan said the order to halt processing was
    given after a temporary camp near the Chaman border
    post, in southwest Pakistan, started to overflow.

    Hundreds of refugees, mostly women and children, were
    told to return to the nearest Afghan town across the

    Pakistan had agreed to allow the most desperate Afghan
    refugees into the country with some 500 women and
    children crossing the border on Tuesday and more than
    500 on Wednesday.

    The refugees were to be housed at a temporary site at
    Killi Faizo, outside Chaman, before being sent to
    permanent sites. However, Hassan said the camp had
    already exceeded its capacity of 325 families.

    Hassan said on Wednesday that up to 130,000 Afghan
    refugees had fled into Pakistan since the terror
    attacks on the United States on September 11. The
    figure had previously been put at 80,000.


    War without witnesses

    Every war needs its writers. But as long as they are excluded from the
    battle zone the Afghan conflict will never capture the popular imagination
    - and we will never know the truth

    Robert McCrum
    Sunday October 28, 2001
    The Observer

    The war in Afghanistan is a puzzle. Barely three weeks old, it has inspired
    a mass of images, soundbites and commentary. Despite this intense scrutiny,
    it remains remote and mysterious, as enigmatic to the West as the country
    in which it is being fought.
    Objectively, the Afghan war is terrifying. Not only has America deployed
    state-of-the-art military hardware from Tomahawks to Stealth bombers, its
    response to 11 September has roused the spectre of biological warfare. More
    generally, the assault on Osama bin Laden and the Taliban threatens a
    showdown between the worldwide forces of Islam and the equally determined
    forces of American consumerism.

    Despite, or perhaps because of, this awesome threat, and the wall-to-wall
    media coverage it has sponsored, the war itself seems not yet to have
    captured the popular imagination. Subjectively, it is strangely
    uninvolving. There are many possible explanations. Confusion is one.
    Perhaps our uncertainty about our military deployment has something to do
    with the fact that, when you examine it from a literary perspective, the
    Afghan war has virtually no points of comparison with the historic wars of
    a uniquely bellicose and bloody twentieth century, notably the First and
    Second World Wars, Korea and Vietnam. This is not as abstract or as
    pointless as it might sound. Literature is always a reliable guide.

    Each of those wars, whose legends are imprinted on our consciousness, threw
    up a memorable and influential literature, from Graves and Owen to Mailer
    and Herr. As the children of a century of war, our imaginations have been
    shaped by a voluminous, slightly dog-eared library which has profoundly
    affected our approach to any understanding of international conflict. Say
    what you like about those war stories, and many of them are probably best
    forgotten as expressions of sentiments many intelligent readers are now
    ashamed of, they none the less add up to a formidable inherited grammar of
    international conflict.

    So perhaps part of the trouble with the current war is that when one
    consults the anatomy of war we grew up with, expressed in the classic
    journalism of reporters like George Orwell and William Shirer, in countless
    war poems, war novels, war memoirs and war films from Goodbye to All That
    to Apocalypse Now , one finds almost no connection with what's happening in

    First of all, there's been no foreboding, no eerie premonition. There were,
    no doubt, experts in Muslim affairs who warned of the menace of the
    al-Qaeda organisation, but they went unheard. By contrast, the wars of the
    last century were characteristically preceded by as much as a decade of
    steadily escalating nervous tension. Throughout the 1900s (and 1930s),
    writers and intellectuals all over Europe shared a sense that war would come.

    Popular fiction, reflecting a pervasive nationalism, articulated popular
    fantasies of future war. Thrillers like Erskine Childers's The Riddle of
    the Sands traded on widespread English fears of invasion and sponsored a
    genre of 'invasion scare' fiction. At a more elevated level, Childers's
    fellow Irishman, W.B. Yeats, typical of his generation, dreamt of violence
    in a way that was echoed widely among the poets of continental Europe.

    In Germany, among the poets affected by a half-heard drumbeat of imminent
    catastrophe, Alfred Lichtenstein, who was to die on the Western Front in
    1914, wrote 'Prophecy' in 1913:

    Soon there'll come - the signs are fair -
    A death storm from the distant north.
    Stink of corpses everywhere,
    Mass assassins marching forth.

    The war we're fighting now had no such harbingers. It came, seemingly, out
    of nowhere. While it's probably true to say that one had only to study
    Osama bin Laden's vengeful rhetorical programme to realise that a day of
    reckoning was due, the hard fact is that the CIA, the Foreign Office, the
    FBI, the Pentagon and the secret intelligence agencies within MI5 and MI6
    had no inkling of 11 September. Unlike Sarajevo, unlike the invasion of
    Poland, it came, literally, out of a clear blue sky.

    In the aftermath of the World Trade Centre atrocity, and before the bomb
    ing and shooting began, this war did have at least one thing in common with
    the onset of twentieth-century wars - hysteria. Bush and Blair share this
    with Asquith and Woodrow Wilson, Neville Chamberlain and FDR. They were
    propelled into action by a tide of outraged public opinion that insisted on
    a mobilisation of the Anglo-American war machine.

    America, certainly, has been touched by a defiant, patriotic fervour
    similar to the war fever that swept Europe in August 1914. But here, too,
    there are important differences, and they help to explain why this war is
    quite unlike its twentieth-century precursors.

    The young men who so eagerly enlisted in the summer of 1914 were supremely
    patriotic in a way that their Stars and Stripes-waving great-grandchildren
    are not. They were joining up to be heroes and to risk death in the service
    of their country. Their patriotism was wholehearted, even naive. The
    patriotism of 1914 was glorious, honourable and uplifting. Rupert Brooke,
    who has come to represent, unfairly, the voice of traditional jingoism,
    wrote, famously, of 'swimmers into cleanness leaping', of young men purging
    the corruption of the Edwardian age in the 'release' of belligerent action.

    It would be interesting to know what the men of the 82nd Airborne think
    about their deployment from the flight deck of the USS Kitty Hawk, but it's
    a fair bet they are not turning 'glad from a world grown old and cold and
    weary'. More accurately, they are the military expression of the Western
    world's sense of outrage at the horror of 11 September.

    Ther were many components to that outrage - horror, shock, fear, grief. The
    decision to go to war has not yet unleashed a frenzy of killing. Rather, it
    was preceded by an unimaginable slaughter. In this topsy-turvy scenario,
    grief has ushered in warfare, not been sponsored by it.

    In the twentieth-century wars we remember on Armistice Day, grief (and an
    accompanying guilt) is the terrible, unappeasable legacy the survivors have
    to work through. In Testament of Youth, a typical interwar memoir, Vera
    Brittain explores the life of a young woman blighted by the deaths of both
    her brother and her fianc. The widows and orphans from the World Trade
    Centre will identify with Brittain's account of that bereavement: 'I began
    to cry Edward! Oh Edward!' in dazed repetition, as though my 'persistent
    crying and calling would somehow bring him back'.

    But the essential contrast between then and now is that the agony of loss
    occurred as a consequence of war, and was not a cause of it. Which brings
    us to another crucial difference. From the day the first troopships steamed
    across the Channel in 1914 to the moment the last US marine scrambled
    aboard the hovering Huey on the US embassy rooftop in Saigon 1975, the wars
    that shaped our imaginations involved a colossal and tangible mobilisation.

    Not for a minute do I underestimate the astounding feat of organisation
    involved in getting the Anglo-American task force into position around the
    borders of Afghanistan, but for the average man or woman living in London
    or New York, Birmingham or Pittsburgh, the current mobilisation has
    involved almost none of the social dislocation we traditionally associate
    with warfare. By the standards of warfare in living memory, this is,
    mercifully, still a phoney war.

    Nor are we seriously exposed to what the military historian John Ellis has
    called 'the sharp end of war'. To the Vietnam War photographer Tim Page:
    'This war is closer than any conflict we've ever seen to a virtual reality
    computer game. It's very abstract, even more than Kosovo.' Technologically,
    its remoteness comes easily. In 2001, it is possible to be a spectator at a
    daring night raid on a Taliban bunker outside Kandahar without stirring
    from our armchairs. Like the Gulf War, but unlike the other
    twentieth-century wars, this is a living-room war and our experience of the
    front line has become a new kind of voyeurism.

    Another celebrated war photographer, Don McCullin, who spent time in
    Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, and who says that 'the Americans
    have got themselves into a terrible mess', also believes that this is
    partly due to new limitations of public tolerance: 'War has become tailored
    to suit public taste,' he says. 'Especially in America, we want our wars to
    be public relations successes... but the truth is that it's impossible to
    have a war without civilian casualties.'

    We have watched every moment of this crisis, from its horrific beginnings
    to its quotidian military development, on television. And the writers who
    have responded to it in print, the Austers and the McEwans, have been
    articulating thoughts inspired by television images.

    It's a far cry from Stephen Crane (The Red Badge of Courage) or John Reed
    (Ten Days That Shook the World). Here is Crane describing the aftermath of
    a battle in the Spanish-American War of 1898: 'Pushing through the throng
    in the plaza, we came in sight of the door of the church, and here was a
    strange scene. The church had been turned into a hospital for Spanish
    wounded who had fallen into American hands.'

    Traditionally, there were two kinds of report from the front line: the
    testimony of soldiers in letters home, in poetry and in memoir (the Sassoon
    response) and the reportage of journalists (the pioneering William Russell
    of The Times) sent to cover the conflict. A hundred years ago, the ratio of
    Sassoons to Russells was at least 10 to one.

    The experience of the Suffolk farm-boy Leonard Thompson, who found himself
    at Gallipoli in June 1915, is typical. He writes: 'We arrived at the
    Dardanelles and saw the guns flashing and heard the rifle fire... later
    that day, we marched through open country and came within a mile-and-a-half
    of the front line. It was incredible. We were there - at the war! The place
    we had reached was called "dead ground" because it was where the enemy
    couldn't see you. We lay in little square holes, myself next to James
    Spears from the village.'

    In the present war, that Sassoon-Russell ratio is reversed. Military news
    management ensures that we have virtually no knowledge of what the troops
    are actually experiencing. At the same time, in page after page of
    newsprint and roll after roll of videotape, there is a seemingly endless
    supply of commentary. W.F. Deedes, who first went to war in 1935 when he
    covered the Italian-Abyssinian War, believes that it's precisely the
    novelty and uncertainty of the war that's encouraging speculation and
    commentary, rather than reportage.

    'In a war of conflict like the First or Second World Wars, it's much harder
    to speculate because the facts are clearly established. This is a war
    without landmarks, it's much more amorphous.' Would he call it a war in the
    accepted sense of the word? Deedes hesitates. 'N-n-n-no. I don't think I
    would. Whatever else it is, it's certainly the vaguest war we've ever been
    involved in.'

      From a journalistic point of view, this vagueness is punctuated less by
    reporting than by long-range photographs. In the present crisis, the
    significant military event that has been on all the front pages is the
    pre-dawn parachute drop of the US Rangers on a Taliban stronghold near
    Kandahar, an operation that was narrated in a series of arresting
    photographs. With a few exceptions, notably Robert Fisk in the Independent
    and some of the reportage in the New Yorker, the hi-tech character of this
    war, combined with the iron control of the military authorities, has
    reduced much print journalism to the level of caption writing.

    It was not always like this. In 1854, W.H. Russell began his report on the
    Battle of Balaclava and 'the Charge of the Light Brigade' with the words:
    'I shall proceed to describe what occurred under my own eyes, and to state
    the facts which I have had from men whose veracity is unimpeachable.'

    Russell's heirs are not so fortunate. They get little or no access to the
    troops; they must rely on briefings and are vulnerable to military 'spin'.
    William Shawcross, the author of Sideshow, an expos of America's secret
    bombing of Cambodia, recalls what he calls the 'glory days' of
    late-twentieth-century war journalism. 'It was incredible. The US military
    gave you this MACV card [which I still have]. This card, which assigned the
    war correspondent the rank of major, guaranteed you a seat on any US
    military aircraft, going anywhere. So, in Vietnam, you could be right
    inside the war zone. It was Liberty Hall. Nowadays, I think reporting is
    much harder. Now you couldn't do the things we used to do. They [the
    military] learnt their lesson, of course.'

    Tim Page, who also saw twentieth-century war at first-hand in Vietnam,
    complains that 'you can't verify anything. We don't know what the hell is
    going on in there'. Reporters today are rarely, if ever, granted the kind
    of exposure to combat that enabled Russell to report how 'soon after eight
    Lord Raglan and his staff turned out and cantered towards the rear of our
    position'. Later in the same report, it was Russell, the journalistic
    eyewitness, who so brilliantly described the flashing sabres of the Light
    Brigade as 'like the turn of a shoal of mackerel'.

    McCullin is even sceptical about many reporters' actual exposure to the
    conflict. 'There are people claiming to be at the front but I get the
    impression that they were bused there in groups and don't have much
    freedom... everyone is being manipulated and controlled.' Page agrees.
    'We're getting as good a picture as we're intended to have. It's all

    McCullin adds that the further problem of this 'armchair war' is that the
    absence of firsthand experience extends to the planners. 'When the troops
    actually get down there on the ground, I can tell you from experience that
    their biggest problem is going to be the millions of anti-personnel mines.'
    This, of course, is the deadly legacy of the Russian occupation of the
    1980s, another slightly distorted point of contact with the wars of the past.

    In the Crimea, the Russians were the enemy. In the Great War, the Russians
    began as dynastic allies and ended as Bolshevik pariahs. In the Second
    World War, Stalin became an uneasy (and opportunistic) ally who eventually
    ushered in an era of Cold War. Vietnam was, at least in part, inspired by
    the misguided belief that the 'domino effect' of south-east Asian
    'communism' had to be stopped in Indochina.

    In the anatomy of war we have inherited from the twentieth century, the
    declaration and prosecution of international war seems always to involve
    facing up to Russia, and perhaps China, and to involve acute geo-political
    risk, notably a nuclear exchange. In 2001, post-Soviet Russia is a passive
    member of Bush's Grand Alliance and the risk of bombing Kabul and Jalalabad
    does not include the threat of reprisals from Moscow or Beijing. At this
    moment, indeed, the chief reprisal seems to be the still-unsourced threat
    of anthrax poisoning.

    It gets stranger still. We have been told that 'Muslim fundamentalism' is
    the enemy, yet President Bush, after his fumbling and inept invocation of
    'crusade', has subsequently been at pains to stress that America has no
    quarrel with the Muslim world at large.

    Contrast this with the morale-boosting anti-Nazi rhetoric of Winston
    Churchill in June 1940: 'We must defend our island, whatever the cost may
    be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds,
    we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the
    hills; we shall never surrender.'

    Part of Churchill's blood-tingling certainty derived from his bizarre but
    instinctive sense of destiny. More important, and quite different from the
    Bush-Blair position of October 2001, the sureness of his rhetoric derived
    from the breathtaking simplicity and clarity of his war aims.

    Where the Allied powers of the Second World War were committed to
    eliminating the evils of Nazism, starting with Adolf Hitler and ultimately
    extending to the rackety apparatus of the Nazi state, the Allied powers of
    2001 are loosely united against an ill-defined 'terror network' and are
    unable, really, to answer convincingly some quite simple questions: who,
    exactly, are we fighting? How, and where, will we engage them in combat?
    How will we know when we have won?

    What's more, allied spokesmen are terrified, rhetorically speaking, of
    alienating moderate (ie pro-Western) sections of Muslim society. As the
    veteran BBC reporter Charles Wheeler has pointed out: 'Official statements
    about the war and its aftermath throw up more questions than answers. Are
    the Taliban now the main enemy? What of bin Laden? Does Washington know
    that he is still in Afghanistan? Or is that no more than a working
    assumption?' In Afghanistan, we seem to have exchanged the fog of war for
    the fog of communiqu.

    W.F. Deedes, who says he accepts the Bush-Blair line that the West is up
    against a uniquely malevolent enemy intent on destruction, notes: 'Nobody
    has developed a war aim. This is paradoxical because this is the first war
    [in his experience] in which there is absolutely no room for negotiation.
    No accommodation is on offer. There are simply no terms on which this
    conflict could be settled.'

    Where previous wars have been characterised by tub-thumping rhetorical
    flourishes, the war against Afghanistan has been prosecuted with the softly
    spoken soundbites and fuzzy answers appropriate to television.

    Television, the medium by which we have acquired our knowledge of the war,
    and the medium that first brought us the dreadful news of 11 September is,
    famously, a 'cool' medium. Perhaps it will only be when the experience of
    the war finds its way on to the pages of books and before that into
    newspaper and magazine pieces based on a real experience of what Deedes
    calls the 'formidable terrain' of Afghanistan that it will begin to grip
    our imagination and become intelligible.

    Not until the confusion begins to be organised into words and we begin to
    draw a literary map of this experience will this peculiar war start to make

    What the reporters say

    Maggie O'Kane, The Guardian
    The other day, 5,000 metres up the Hindu Kush mountains, after six days of
    climbing from Pakistan into Afghanistan, the last 24 hours non-stop, I sat
    down on a rock and cried hard bloody tears. There must be easier ways to
    cover a war than this.

    But the reality is that except for desperate measures like Yvonne Ridley's
    [the Express reporter held captive after being smuggled in wearing a burqa]
    we are simply not covering what appears to be the most reported war in
    world history. The catchline: 'so and so reporting from northern
    Afghanistan' is somewhat misleading as we stand on mountain tops and watch
    for puffs of smoke. Remember the market place bombing in Sarajevo that
    finally moved Clinton's hand on peace in Bosnia? The world powers involved
    in this war have decided that those kind of horrors offer, as Asquith said
    to the former Guardian editor C.P. Snow about the First World War, 'too
    much reality'.

    There is, is there not, something terribly uncivilised about what a
    Tomahawk missile does to human beings when it blows their bodies apart. And
    this after all is the battle of 'civilised nations' against international
    terrorism. Isn't it?

    Robert Fisk, The Independent
    When you don't have access to the real facts in a situation you have to
    rely on sources such as al-Jazeera TV and Pentagon generals - and you can't
    cross-question these people. This means there is a tendency for
    journalists, when they are not allowed to report on a situation 'on the
    ground', to become mouthpieces for authority.

    The war has to be covered and we have a duty to to cover it but this is
    probably the most undercovered war I've come across in my life as a
    journalist. It's not the fault of the reporters who are not being allowed
    in Afghanistan. But it means the Taliban can claim 100 dead civilians under
    US bombing and the Americans can deny it, and we are not there to check.
    I'm really not certain how one gets round this situation. Increasingly,
    since Vietnam, wars involving major powers have become more and more
    difficult to cover.

    The real tragedy is that we are unable to give first-hand accounts of the
    suffering of Afghan civilians inside the country who are being killed and
    wounded by the bombing and who are fleeing in a state of starvation. These
    people are just as innocent as those who died in the crimes against
    humanity in New York and Washington. But our inability to get inside the
    Taliban-controlled areas means that they are not real to us, they are vague
    statistics that the Taliban can manipulate and the Americans can deny.

    Jason Burke, The Observer
    What has become absolutely clear to me is that the US is prepared to go as
    far as it can without lying to obfuscate what is really going on. Again and
    again we've had a situation in which there have been reports of civilian
    casualties and the US has called the Taliban liars and then had to admit
    that the original claims by the Taliban were accurate. I've got to the
    point where I'd be more inclined to believe what the Taliban is saying than
    what the American authorities are telling us.

    There is also absolutely nobody from either the UK or the US on the ground
    in Pakistan telling us what's happening - everything comes from the
    Pentagon or Whitehall. Anything we find out on the ground comes from the
    direct accounts of refugees and the two stories differ to the extent that
    Clare Short can claim - astonishingly - that the refugees her
    representatives have spoken to don't report any casualties whereas those we
    speak to report casualties on a considerable scale.

    Christina Lamb, The Sunday Telegraph
    This war is different from any other I've covered in that they've banned
    all foreigners from Taliban-held Afghanistan and those who have tried to
    get in have been caught. They've threatened to hang anyone using a
    satellite telephone. Usually there are some rules with regard to respecting
    journalists but that isn't the case here. You're relying on speaking to
    people coming in and out of the area and most of the people are
    anti-Taliban, so you're getting a slanted view.

    We can't know what they are actually doing on the ground as there is no
    independent verification of what they've done and Afghans love to tell
    stories. When I covered the conflict there with the Russians in the
    Eighties, they'd claim to have shot down a helicopter only the day before
    but of course when you asked where the wreckage was it had just been
    cleared away. It's a similar situation with the Pentagon's 'before and
    after' photos - there was nothing in Afghanistan to start with. Even the
    airports were incredibly primitive. So you are always left wondering quite
    what they are doing.

    Interviews by Molloy Woodcraft.


    List of incidents where US bombs have struck non-military targets

    Jordan Times

    ISLAMABAD (AFP) ^ The UN reported Thursday that nine Afghan civilians had
    been killed when a US warplane dropped a cluster bomb on their village on
    October 22.

    Taleban officials said over 1,000 civilians have died since US airstrikes
    began on October 7. Only a handful have been confirmed independently.

    Following is a list of incidents where there is some evidence from
    witnesses or non-Taleban sources to support claims that non-military
    targets have been hit by US bombs:

    October 23

    VILLAGE BOMBING: At least 52 civilians killed in the bombing of Chakoor
    Kariz village, near Kandahar, according to Taleban officials. The Arabic
    news station Al Jazeera put the death toll at over 90 and broadcast film of
    victims of the attack in hospital in Kandahar. The Taleban claims the
    village was mistaken for a training camp, as others have been.

    October 22

    VILLAGE BOMBING: Nine people died in the village of Shakar Qala near Herat
    after US warplanes dropped a cluster bomb on it, the UN said. Eight died
    instantly and a ninth was killed after picking up one of the bombs,
    according to a UN demining team which visited the village after the attack.

    October 22

    HOSPITAL BOMBINGS: A US bomb struck a military hospital in a military
    compound in Herat, western Afghanistan, according to the UN. The US
    acknowledged a bomb went astray over the city and landed near an old
    people's home. The Taleban says a 100-bed civilian hospital in the city was
    destroyed by bombing, as well as the military clinic.

    October 21

    REFUGEE CONVOY: At least 20 civilians, including nine children, killed when
    the tractor and trailer on which they were fleeing US attacks on the
    southern town of Tirin Kot was bombed, according to survivors of the attack
    now hospitalised in Pakistan. The Taleban reported two similar incidents
    near Kandahar and Jalalabad, both on October 17.

    October 21

    KABUL: A stray US bomb lands on the neighbourhood of Parod Gajaded in the
    Khair Khana district of northeastern Kabul, killing ten people, nine of
    them from the same extended family, witnesses told an AFP reporter who
    visited the scene shortly after the bombing.

    October 18

    KABUL: Five members of the same family are killed when six houses are
    destroyed by US bombs in the Kalae Zaman Khan area of Kabul, witnesses and
    relatives told AFP at the scene. An eight year old girl was killed in the
    eastern suburb of Macroyan. Other residential areas were struck the same
    day but casualties could not be confirmed.

    October 16

    RED CROSS WAREHOUSES: US bombs hit warehouses of the International
    Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul, destroying supplies and injuring at
    least one worker. The compound had a large red cross on the roof. After a
    Red Cross protest, the US admitted dropping a 1,000 pound bomb close to the
    warehouse, saying Taleban vehicles were in the area. A World Food Programme
    warehouse in Kabul has also been damaged in raids.

    October 13

    KABUL AIRPORT: a US bomb missed a target at Kabul airport and struck a
    nearby village, killing at least four people, according to witnesses. The
    Pentagon confirmed the bomb had gone off course due to technical error.

    October 11

    VILLAGE BOMBING: At least 160 people reported killed in Kadam, a mountain
    village near Jalalabad. An AFP reporter who visited the remote village saw
    dozens of collapsed houses, one unexploded bomb and more than 18 fresh
    graves. But the numbers of dead could not be confirmed. The US said it had
    attacked caves in the area which were packed with ammunition.

    October 11

    KABUL: Residents of a village near Kabul airport said a 12-year-old girl
    died when a bomb landed near her house, causing it to collapse.

    October 9

    KABUL: Office of a UN-backed demining agency in Kabul is bombed, killing
    four security guards. US expressed regret following UN protest.

    October 7-25

    UTILITIES: Since the start of the campaign US attacks have targeted power
    plants, telecommunications facilities and broadcasting infrastructure.
    Power in Kabul has been intermittently cut. Kandahar has been without power
    or water since the start of the second week of bombing. Kabul's telephone
    exchange has been badly damaged and the Taliban's Radio Shariat has been
    forced off air.


    Drop in support for war

    Hindu - India's National Newspaper October 31, 2001
    By Hasan Suroor

    LONDON, OCT. 30. An emotional offensive by the British Prime Minister, Mr.
    Tony Blair, today against the critics of the war in Afghanistan was
    overshadowed by contradictory signals from the political establishment
    and the military brass even as a new poll showed a drop in public support
    for continued military action. A majority, according to the poll in The
    Guardian this morning, want a pause in the bombing to allow humanitarian
    relief to reach the people.

    ``It provides clear evidence that there has been a significant change in
    the mood of the country towards the war and explains why Ministers have
    spent the past weekend trying to shore up public opinion...,'' the
    newspaper said. The media also highlighted the conflict between London and
    Washington over a bombing pause during Ramadan with the U.S. Defence
    Secretary, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, ruling it out, a day after the British
    Foreign Secretary, Mr. Jack Straw, said such a move was being considered.
    The Times said Mr. Rumsfeld's statement ``put him in direct conflict with
    London where senior Ministers and government officials have discussed the
    desirability of a temporary halt to hostilities.''

    In another embarrassing development, two high-ranking British army
    officers contradicted official claims about the role of ground troops,
    earmarked for action in Afghanistan and their preparedness. Rear Admiral
    James Burnell-Nugent, commander of a British task force committed to the
    U.S.-led coalition, triggered a controversy saying the role his personnel
    were expected to play was not clear. ``I do not think that it is clear in
    anyone's mind...That is the challenge,'' he was quoted as saying,
    contradicting the Defence Secretary, Mr. Geoff Hoon's claim that the
    Marines were ready to go ``immediately''.

    Another officer, Brigadier Roger Lane, voiced concern about the quality of
    intelligence on the ground. ``It's a concern...and that may limit exactly
    what we do,'' he told journalists in Oman. Mr. Hoon blamed the media for
    taking the remarks out of context and insisted that the Government and
    military brass were on the same wavelength, but critics seized on the army
    officers' comments to question the U.S.-led coalition's war aims and
    strategy. A former Labour Armed Forces Minister, Mr. Doug Henderson, said
    there seemed to be no strategy, and the decision to commit British troops
    was ``partly a political act'' to show solidarity with the U.S. The
    intelligence on the ground, he claimed, was ``so flimsy'' that there was
    nothing specific for British personnel to do. He described the continued
    bombing as ``counter- productive'' which was likely to ``alienate'' even
    moderate Muslim opinion around the world.

    The novelist, Mr. Martin Amis, said Mr. Blair's defence of the war was
    ``hollow'' and questioned its direction. ``We are flailing,'' he said. The
    Prime Minister, in a widely publicised speech in Wales today, made what
    one newspaper termed as an ``unashamedly emotional appeal'' to the critics
    of the war not to forget what happened in New York and Washington on
    September 11. ``It is important that we never forget why we have done this
    (launched military action), never forget how we felt as we watched planes
    fly into the trade towers, never forget those answer-phone messages, never
    forget how we imagined how mothers told their children they were going to
    die, never forget the firefighters and police who died trying to save
    others,'' he said ahead of yet another diplomatic mission to West Asia to
    bolster support for the coalition. But his appeal was preempt by The
    Guardian poll showing a 12-point drop in public support for the war in the
    past fortnight with 54 per cent favouring a pause in bombing.

    Mr. Robin Cook, leader of the Commons, dismissed the fall in support as
    ``tiny'' and said the majority were still behind it


    CNN Says Focus on Civilian Casualties Would Be "Perverse"

    November 1, 2001

    According to the Washington Post (10/31/01), CNN Chair Walter Isaacson "has
    ordered his staff to balance images of civilian devastation in Afghan cities
    with reminders that the Taliban harbors murderous terrorists, saying it
    'seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in

    Post media reporter Howard Kurtz quotes a memo from Isaacson to CNN's
    international correspondents: "As we get good reports from
    Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, we must redouble our efforts to make sure we
    do not seem to be simply reporting from their vantage or perspective. We
    must talk about how the Taliban are using civilian shields and how the
    Taliban have harbored the terrorists responsible for killing close to 5,000
    innocent people."

    The memo went on to admonish reporters covering civilian deaths not to
    "forget it is that country's leaders who are responsible for the situation
    Afghanistan is now in," suggesting that journalists should lay
    responsibility for civilian casualties at the Taliban's door, not the U.S.

    Kurtz also quotes a follow-up memo from Rick Davis, CNN's head of standards
    and practices, that suggested sample language for news anchors:

    " 'We must keep in mind, after seeing reports like this from
    Taliban-controlled areas, that these U.S. military actions are in response
    to a terrorist attack that killed close to 5,000 innocent people in the
    U.S.' or, 'We must keep in mind, after seeing reports like this, that the
    Taliban regime in Afghanistan continues to harbor terrorists who have
    praised the September 11 attacks that killed close to 5,000 innocent people
    in the U.S.,' or 'The Pentagon has repeatedly stressed that it is trying to
    minimize civilian casualties in Afghanistan, even as the Taliban regime
    continues to harbor terrorists who are connected to the September 11 attacks
    that claimed thousands of innocent lives in the U.S.' "

    Davis stated that "even though it may start sounding rote, it is important
    that we make this point each time."

    The New York Times reported (11/1/01) that these policies are already being
    implemented at CNN, with other networks following a similar, though perhaps
    not as formalized, strategy. "In the United States," the Times noted,
    "television images of Afghan bombing victims are fleeting, cushioned between
    anchors or American officials explaining that such sights are only one side
    of the story." In other countries, however, "images of wounded Afghan
    children curled in hospital beds or women rocking in despair over a baby's
    corpse" are "more frequent and lingering."

    When CNN correspondent Nic Robertson reported yesterday from the site of a
    bombed medical facility in Kandahar, the Times reported, U.S. anchors "added
    disclaimers aimed at reassuring American viewers that the network was not
    siding with the enemy." CNN International, however, did not add any such

    During its U.S broadcasts, CNN "quickly switched to the rubble of the World
    Trade Center" after showing images of the damage in Kandahar, and the anchor
    "reminded viewers of the deaths of as many as 5,000 people whose 'biggest
    crime was going to work and getting there on time.'"

    If anything in this story is "perverse," it's that one of the world's most
    powerful news outlets has instructed its journalists not to report Afghan
    civilian casualties without attempting to justify those deaths. "I want to
    make sure we're not used as a propaganda platform," Isaacson told the
    Washington Post. But his memo essentially mandates that pro-U.S. propaganda
    be included in the news.

    ACTION: Please tell CNN to factually report the consequences of the U.S. war
    in Afghanistan without editorializing. Including a justification for the
    bombing with every mention of civilian casualties risks turning CNN from a
    news outlet into a propaganda service.

    CNN, Walter Isaacson, Chairman and CEO
    Phone: (404) 827-1500
    Fax: (404) 827-1784

    As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if
    you maintain a polite tone. Please cc fair@fair.org with your

    For further details, see Howard Kurtz's full Washington Post story:


    Also of interest:

    David Cassel, AlterNet
    An abandoned Taliban building in Kabul contained an alarming
    document that apparently described how to make an atomic bomb.
    But a webmaster recognized it as a 1979 parody.

    Anti-war resources:

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

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