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Monday, 9 August 2004

Egypt shaken by major theft of explosives from warehouses
Monday, August 9, 2004
CAIRO √ A massive supply of explosives stolen from Egyptian warehouses last week could have found its way to either Al Qaida or Palestinian terrorists.
Egyptian security sources confirmed that a large amount of explosives was stolen from a warehouse of an oil company in the Western Desert near the Mediterranean coast. The sources said authorities have conducted an intensive investigation and detained hundreds of employees and guards of the company.
The Egyptian government has not announced the theft.
The sources said authorities were concerned that the explosives were stolen to fulfill an order by Islamic or Palestinian insurgents. They did not rule out that some of the explosives could be headed for the Gaza Strip.
Another scenario was that the explosives would be used for a major Al Qaida-inspired attack in either Egypt or another North African ally of the United States. Over the last year, Egypt has arrested hundreds of Islamic suspects connected to the Muslim Brotherhood or Al Qaida-inspired groups.
On Aug. 4, the opposition Egyptian Al Ahali daily quoted a security source as saying that 1,062 pieces of explosives went missing from an unidentified foreign oil exploration company in Marsa Matrouh northeast of Cairo. The newspaper said the explosives could be detonated by remote control, So far, 1,000 people, including guards and employees of the company as well as local residents, were arrested, Al Ahali reported.
Later, security sources confirmed some details of the Al Ahali report. But they said about half of the amount reported by Al Ahali was stolen. They also said the explosives were owned by Al Salam Petrol Services in Marsa Matrouh, about 500 kilometers northwest of Cairo.
About 100 pieces of explosives were found, the sources said. So far, none of the thieves were captured, they said.
Egypt has been cited as a leading source of weapons and explosives to the Palestinian insurgency in the Gaza Strip. Western diplomatic sources said a large amount of Cobra rocket-propelled grenade launchers was stolen from Egypt's state-owned defense industry and smuggled to the Gaza Strip.
Copyright ╘ 2004 East West Services, Inc.

Saudi Reformists Stand Trial for Dissent
The Associated Press
Monday, August 9, 2004; 6:34 PM
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - In a rare open court hearing, three advocates of democratic reform appeared before a judge Monday on charges arising from their criticism of the kingdom's political and religious life.
Saudi trials are normally held behind closed doors, but Monday's hearing was attended by about 200 people.
The defendants - Matrouk al-Faleh, Ali al-Dimeeni and Abdullah al-Hamed - are charged with sowing dissent, creating political instability, printing political leaflets and using the media to incite people against the government, according to two political activists who attended.
The activists, Abdul Rahman al-Lahem and Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb, said the three asked the judge for two weeks to study the indictment. The judge granted the request.
The open trial is the latest of a series of moves toward limited reform in Saudi Arabia, the boldest of which is a pledge to hold municipal elections starting in November.
The pace of reform has been fitful, reflecting the government's need to conciliate conservative and progressive strands in society. Conservatives say reform will undermine the traditional power structure and strict Islamic orientation. Liberals view reform as vital to stem Islamic militancy and to meet the desire for greater freedom among young people.
The three defendants are the last remaining detainees of a group of 13 reformers arrested March 17 who had openly criticized the kingdom's strict religious environment and slow pace of reform.
Some of the 13 had signed a letter to Crown Prince Abdullah calling for political, economic and social reforms, including parliamentary elections.
The detentions caused tension between Riyadh and Washington after the U.S. State Department condemned them as "inconsistent with the kind of forward progress that reform-minded people are looking for." The Saudi Foreign Ministry replied it was "disappointed" by the U.S. reaction.
On Monday, activist al-Mugaiteeb hailed the hearing as "a landmark."
"It is the first public trial of its kind, and it is positive in the sense that it validates the principle of freedom," said al-Mugaiteeb.
Al-Mugaiteeb, who leads a group called Human Rights First, said the state should release the defendants: "They are prisoners of conscience. They should be at home. They are not criminals or arms bearers."
The hearing was adjourned until Aug. 23.
? 2004 The Associated Press

Riggs Investigation Prompts Inquiry Into 3 Oil Firms
By Kathleen Day
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 5, 2004; Page E01
Federal regulators are probing at least three of the nation's largest oil companies -- Marathon Oil Corp., Amerada Hess Corp. and ChevronTexaco Corp. -- for possible violations of securities law prohibiting bribes to foreign government officials.
The Securities and Exchange Commission notified the companies of the probe by letter within the past two weeks, following the release of a Senate report that described transactions handled by Riggs Bank involving the oil companies and the dictator of Equatorial Guinea and his family, spokesmen for the companies confirmed yesterday.
A grand jury in the District is also investigating Riggs's handling of the Equatorial Guinea accounts.
The Senate inquiry, which included the report and a subsequent hearing, is part of a series of ongoing investigations by Congress, bank regulators and the Justice Department into Riggs Bank and its once-prestigious embassy banking division for long-standing violations of laws designed to prevent money laundering.
The report by the Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations concluded, "Oil companies operating in Equatorial Guinea may have contributed to corrupt practices in that country by making substantial payments to, or entering into business ventures with, individual Equatorial Guinea officials, their family members, or entities they control, with minimal public disclosure of their actions."
The report found that Riggs may have allowed Equatorial Guinea, its largest customer, and the country's dictator, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, to siphon millions of dollars in oil revenue into his personal accounts. Federal regulators also have said Riggs failed to report hundreds of suspicious transactions in more than 150 accounts held by officials of Saudi Arabia. The Senate report also found that the bank helped former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet hide millions of dollars from foreign prosecutors.
Marathon Oil, the nation's fourth-largest oil company, disclosed the probe in a filing with the SEC. Jay R. Wilson, a spokesman for Amerada Hess, the nation's fifth-largest oil company, confirmed that it, too, is a subject of the SEC inquiry. Marathon, Amerada Hess and Exxon Mobil Corp., the nation's largest oil company, are the largest oil companies operating in Equatorial Guinea, according to the report.
ChevronTexaco is the second-largest oil company in the United States but has a much smaller presence than the other three in Equatorial Guinea.
A spokesman for Exxon Mobil said it has not been contacted by the SEC in connection with Equatorial Guinea. Spokesmen for Marathon, Amerada Hess and ChevronTexaco said their companies are fully cooperating with the inquiry.
SEC investigators will seek to determine whether the companies broke anti-bribery laws and whether they committed securities fraud by failing to properly disclose disbursements made to a foreign government or official, according to lawyers familiar with the probe who spoke on condition that their names not be used because of the sensitivity of the investigation.
"Amerada Hess has received a letter from the SEC requesting our voluntary cooperation in an informal inquiry into payments made to the government, government officials and persons affiliated with government officials in Equatorial Guinea," spokesman Wilson said. "We will fully cooperate with the SEC."
Marathon, in its SEC filing, said, the SEC "notified Marathon that it was conducting an inquiry into payments made to the government of Equatorial Guinea, or to officials and persons affiliated with officials of the government of Equatorial Guinea. This inquiry follows an investigation and public hearing conducted by the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which reviewed the transactions of various foreign governments, including that of Equatorial Guinea, with Riggs Bank. The investigation and hearing also reviewed the operations of U.S. oil companies, including Marathon, in Equatorial Guinea."
Marathon spokesman Paul Weeditz said, "We have conducted our business with full compliance with the law."
The SEC probe is an informal investigation, which means the companies are being asked to voluntarily answer questions, submit records and provide other information. If the SEC staff finds evidence that it needs to investigate further, the next step would be for the agency's five commissioners to approve a formal investigation, which would allow SEC staff to issue subpoenas.
? 2004 The Washington Post Company
Japan Nuke Plant Accident Kills 4 People
Associated Press Writer
MIHAMA, Japan (AP) -- Japan suffered its deadliest nuclear power plant accident Monday when a bursting steam pipe killed at least four workers and injured seven in another blow to the industry in an energy-poor country already worried about nuclear plant safety.
No radiation was released when the boiling water and steam exploded from a cooling pipe at the plant in Mihama, a small city about 200 miles west of Tokyo.
But the steam leak followed a string of safety lapses and cover-ups at reactors, and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi vowed to launch a thorough investigation into the accident. Fears about the safety of the country's 52 nuclear power plants soared in 1999, when a radiation leak northeast of Tokyo killed two workers and exposed hundreds to radiation.
Monday's leak was caused by a lack of cooling water in the reactor's turbine and perhaps by significant metal erosion in the condenser pipe, said the plant's operator, Kansai Electric Power. The pipe's wall, originally 10 mm thick, had become as thin as 1.5 mm in the 28 years since the reactor was constructed.
After the accident, Kansai Electric officials found a hole in the pipe that was believed to be the source of the leak. They did not say how big the hole was.
The water flowing through the pipe at the time of the accident was about 300 degrees Fahrenheit, said Akira Kokado, deputy plant manager.
Four workers died after suffering severe burns. Of the seven injured workers, two were in critical condition, three were in serious condition and the remaining two suffered minor injuries.
"The ones who died had stark white faces," said Yoshihiro Sugiura, the doctor who treated them at the Tsuruga City Hospital. "This shows they had rapidly been exposed to heat."
Investigators prepared to inspect the accident site Tuesday, and Japanese newspapers reported the government might be forced to shelve plans to build 11 new plants.
"In Japan, it's virtually impossible to build new nuclear facilities now," the national Asahi daily said in an editorial Tuesday. "But facilities are wearing out, and there are worries about increasing problems with corroding pipes, rupturing valves and the reactor core."
All the workers were employees of Kiuchi Keisoku Co., an Osaka-based subcontractor of Kansai Electric. They were all inside the turbine building to prepare for regular inspections of the plant, which began operating in 1976.
Government officials said there was no need to evacuate the area surrounding Mihama, a city of 11,500.
The plant's No. 3 nuclear reactor automatically shut down when steam began spewing from the leak. Its two other reactors were operating normally.
Yosaku Fuji, president of Kansai Electric, apologized for the accident as he bowed deeply before reporters at a televised news conference.
"We are deeply sorry to have caused so much concern," Fuji said. "There is nothing we can say to the four who lost their lives. We pray for their souls from the bottom of our hearts and offer our condolences to their families. We are truly sorry."
Kokado told a news conference that the metal erosion in the pipe was more extensive than Kansai Electric had expected. An ultrasound test might have detected the thinning but Kansai Electric never carried out such inspections, Kokado said, adding the company may have to review the way it conducts checkups.
Security guards closed the road leading to the seaside plant after the accident, which the city's residents said caught them off guard.
"I was so shocked. At first, I didn't think it was such a major accident," Naoki Matsubara, a 26-year-old office worker. "I'm so relieved there was no radiation leak."
Resource-poor Japan is dependent on nuclear fuel for nearly 35 percent of its energy supply, and a government blueprint calls for building 11 new plants and raising electricity output from nuclear facilities to nearly 40 percent of the national supply by 2010.
The deaths in Mihama also come as Japan is bidding to host the world's first large-scale nuclear fusion plant, the $12 billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER. But the project's sponsors - the European Union, the United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea and China - remain deadlocked over whether to build the plant in Japan or France.
The government vowed to quickly find out what happened on Monday.
"We must put all our effort into determining the cause of the accident and to ensuring safety," Koizumi said. He added that the government would respond "resolutely, after confirming the facts."
The United States had a similar accident at the Surry nuclear power plant in southern Virginia almost two decades ago when an 18-inch steel pipe burst and released 30,000 gallons of boiling water and steam, killing four people.
In Japan's 1999 accident, a radiation leak at a fuel-reprocessing plant in Tokaimura, northeast of Tokyo, killed two workers and caused the evacuation of thousands of residents. That accident was caused by two workers who tried to save time by mixing excessive amounts of uranium in buckets instead of using special mechanized tanks.
Several major power-generation companies have since been hit with alleged safety violations at their reactors, undermining public faith in nuclear energy and leaving Japan's nuclear program in limbo.
A 2002 investigation revealed that Tokyo Electric Power, the world's largest private utility, systematically lied about the appearance of cracks in its reactors during the 1980s and 1990s. The company later temporarily shut down all 17 of its reactors for inspections to reassure the public they were safe.
In February, eight workers were exposed to low-level radiation at another power plant when they were accidentally sprayed with contaminated water. The doses were not considered dangerous.
? 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Iran Denies Providing Missile Test Site
The Associated Press
Saturday, August 7, 2004; 4:25 PM
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran on Saturday dismissed allegations it was providing test sites for North Korean long-range missiles designed to deliver nuclear warheads, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
A Bush administration official claimed earlier that North Korea was getting around a self-imposed missile test ban by sharing technology information with Iran, which is allegedly carrying out missile tests on Pyongyang's behalf.
Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani rejected the claim, saying, "Iran does not cooperate with North Korea in missile technology and it does not need to."
President Bush has labeled Iran and North Korea as being part of an axis of evil, accusing both of pursuing nuclear weapons programs.
A leading military publication, Jane's Defense Weekly, reported recently that North Korea was developing two new ballistic missile systems that have "appreciably expanded the ballistic-missile threat."
Shamkhani said Iran is developing its Shahab-3 missile as a measure against Israel's missile power, which Tehran concluded tests of last year.
The missile is thought to be capable of carrying a 2,200-pound warhead over a distance of some 800 miles, which would put Israel within its range.
While Shamkhani denied any kind of nuclear military activity by Iran, he said his country would not leave its people without defense.
"That's why we have to invest on nuclear defense preparation," he added without elaborating.
Washington is working with South Korea, Japan, China and Russia to negotiate an agreement with North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program.
With Iran, the White House has been trying to haul Tehran before the United Nations Security Council based on accusations that the Persian state has been trying to build nuclear weapons against its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations.
Iran maintains its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, geared toward production of nuclear energy.
? 2004 The Associated Press


Iran seeks to improve Shihab-3 missile as US officials say Bush diplomacy failing to slow down Tehran nuclear program
08-08-2004, 08:07
Iran aims to soon test an improved version of its Shihab-3 medium-range missile, Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani said, following Israel's boosting of its anti-missile missile capability.
"We will improve the Shihab-3 and when we test it, in the very short future, we will let you know," what improvements have been made, said the minister, who was quoted by ISNA student news agency.
"These improvements do not only concern its range, but other specifications as well," Shamkhani said, without providing further details.
Late last month, Israel successfully tested its Arrow II anti-missile missile in the United States. It was the seventh time the missile has worked, but the first time it destroyed a real Scud missile.
Shamkhani insisted the Shihab-3 was intended for defensive purposes.
"The Israelis are trying hard to improve the capacity of their missiles, and we are also trying to improve the Shihab-3 in a short time," Shamkani said, denying the Islamic republic was working on a more advanced Shihab-4.
When asked if the army was involved in Iran's nuclear program, Shamkhani said that its "only intervention in the nuclear area, is nuclear protection," referring to possible attack from Israel's suspected nuclear arsenal.
"If a military operation is carried out against us, we cannot do nothing, so we are investing in nuclear protection," he said.
Meanwhile, according to a report in the New York Times, US intelligence officials and outside nuclear experts have reached the conclusion that the Bush administration's diplomatic efforts with European and Asian allies have "barely slowed the nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea over the past year", and that both have made "significant progress".
In a tacit acknowledgment that the diplomatic initiatives with European and Asian allies have failed to curtail the programs, high-ranking administration and intelligence officials said, according to the report, that they are seeking ways to step up unspecified covert actions intended, in the words of one official, "to disrupt or delay as long as we can" Tehran's efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. (
Israeli officials admit ''Arrow'' system should be upgraded in order to intercept Iranian missiles
"There is a need to upgrade the capabilities of the Arrow missile so that it can intercept the Iranian Shihab missile; its interception ability is currently limited", according to representatives of the Arrow missile program that briefed the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, on the experiment that took place last weekend in the United States.
Head of the Arrow project, Yair Ramati, thanked the committee during the Tuesday meeting for its success in convincing the U.S. congress to add $82 million to the mutual production of the Arrow by the Israeli Aircraft Industries and Boeing Company in the U.S.
In a test that took place last week, an Arrow missile successfully intercepted a Scud missile, which was launched from a vessel in an experimental field of the U.S. navy in California. In the course of the experiment, the Arrow was launched from an island in the Pacific ocean, located dozens of kilometers from California's shores.
The Arrow Interceptor is the first missile that was specifically designed and built to destroy ballistic missiles on a national level. It is aimed at becoming the first anti-ballistic missile system able to intercept its targets so high in the stratosphere. The Arrow ABM system was designed and constructed in Israel with financial support by the U.S. in a multi-billion dollar development program.
The system was designed and constructed after the massive failure of the anti-aircraft Patriot missile system to properly intercept and destroy the Scud missiles fired by Iraq during the first Gulf War in 1991.
Iran's Shihab-3 ground-to-ground rocket has an effective range beyond 1,300-kilometers, meaning it can reach Israel.
Iran has also plans for two longer-range missiles: a Shihab-4, with a 2,000-kilometer range and a Shihab-5, with a 5,500-kilometer range. (


Bush Says Iran `Must' Abandon Nuclear Weapons Ambitions
WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- Iran must abandon any plans it has to develop nuclear weapons, President George W. Bush said Monday.
However, Bush didn't outline any steps the U.S. might be willing to take to halt Iran's nuclear program other than to say the U.S. and its allies will continue to put pressure on Tehran.
The first step in halting any nuclear weapons program in Iran is to get the world to unite behind the idea that such a development would be unacceptable, Bush said.
"The first (step) is to make it clear to the world that Iran must abandon its nuclear ambition," Bush said.
"We've got to continue to keep pressure on the government (of Iran) and to help others keep pressure on the government so there is universal condemnation of illegal weapons activities," Bush said.
Bush made the comments in Annadale, Va., in response to a question from an audience of supporters.
Bush praised the actions of the U.K., Germany and France for helping deliver the message to Iran that the U.S. won't tolerate its nuclear weapons program. The three countries reached an agreement last year with Iran that opened up its nuclear program to greater outside scrutiny and included an agreement by Iran that it would halt development of its ability to enrich uranium.
Iran recently abandoned the agreement, saying it hasn't received help with its civilian program as promised.
Bush appeared to rule a military option to halt Iran's nuclear program, at least for the moment.
"Every situation requires a different response," Bush said in an apparent reference to the decision to topple former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
"We tailor our responses based on the reality of the moment," he added.
One response, Bush made clear, is to fan popular discontent among the Iranian people with the government in Tehran.
"The United States does have an opportunity to speak clearly to those who love freedom inside of Iran and we are," Bush said.
The president noted there is a "significant" number of Iranian-Americans "who long for their homeland to be liberated and free and we are working with them to send messages to their loved ones and relatives through different methodologies."
In addition, Bush noted that many radio broadcasts that originate in the U.S. are being received in Iran which say "free societies are possible."
Bush said he has few direct actions he can employ against Iran. Not only does the U.S. have no diplomatic relations with Tehran but "we have totally sanctioned them," Bush said.
"We are out of sanctions," Bush added.
On Sunday, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice offered much stronger comments on Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
"I think you cannot allow the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon. The international community has got to find a way to come together and to make certain that that does not happen," Rice said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
She said the U.S. hasn't ruled out any options that it may use but also indicated that at the moment the U.S. is content to pursue a diplomatic approach. She predicted that in September the International Atomic Energy Agency will issue a strong statement that will leave Iran isolated.
-By Alex Keto, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9256;
Dow Jones Newswires
Copyright (C) 2004 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Rice Cites International Concern Over Iran's Nuclear Intentions
By William C. Mann
Associated Press
Monday, August 9, 2004; Page A16
With Iran stepping up its nuclear program, a top White House aide said yesterday the world finally is "worried and suspicious" over the Iranians' intentions and is determined not to let Tehran produce a nuclear weapon.
National security adviser Condoleezza Rice also said the Bush administration sees a new international willingness to act against Iran's nuclear program. She credited the changed attitude to the Americans' insistence that Iran's effort put the world in peril.
She would not say whether the United States would act alone to end the program if the administration could not win international support.
Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, announced a week ago that his country had resumed building nuclear centrifuges. He said Iran was retaliating for the West's failure to force the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency to close its file on possible Iranian violations of nuclear nonproliferation rules.
Kharrazi said Iran was not resuming enrichment of uranium, which requires a centrifuge. But, he said, Iran had restarted manufacturing the device because Britain, Germany and France had not stopped the investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"The United States was the first to say that Iran was a threat in this way, to try and convince the international community that Iran was trying, under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, to actually bring about a nuclear weapons program," Rice said on CNN's "Late Edition."
"I think we've finally now got the world community to a place, and the International Atomic Energy Agency to a place, that it is worried and suspicious of the Iranian activities," she said. "Iran is facing for the first time real resistance to trying to take these steps."
President Bush, in his 2002 State of the Union address, included Iran with North Korea and Iraq in an "axis of evil" dedicated to developing nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
Since then, North Korea has publicly resumed its nuclear development program. In Iraq, invading U.S.-led forces have found no such programs since President Saddam Hussein was deposed.
Iran announced in June that it would resume its centrifuge program. Afterward, the U.S. official whose job is to slow the global atomic arms race, Under Secretary of State John R. Bolton, told Congress that Iran was jabbing "a thumb in the eye of the international community."
On NBC's "Meet the Press," Rice reasserted that the world has fallen in line on Iran and said she expects next month to get a strong statement from the IAEA "that Iran will either be isolated, or it will submit to the will of the international community."
She also said: "We cannot allow the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon. The international community has got to find a way to come together and to make certain that that does not happen."
? 2004 The Washington Post Company

Iran Seeks Support on Nuclear Technology
Associated Press Writer
VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- Iran is demanding Europe's leading powers back its right to nuclear technology that could be used to make weapons, dismaying the Europeans and strengthening Washington's push for U.N. sanctions, a European Union official and diplomats said Monday.
Declining to respond to a list of demands presented by Iran last week - whose contents were made available to The Associated Press - the Europeans are urging the Iranian government to instead make good on a pledge to clear up suspicions about its nuclear ambitions.
But diplomats said Iran's demands undermine the effort by France, Germany and Britain to avoid a confrontation. They had hoped to persuade Tehran to give up technology that can produce nuclear arms, but now are closer to the Bush administration's view that Iran should be referred to the U.N. Security Council for violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the diplomats said.
The Iranian list, presented during talks in Paris, includes demands that the three European powers:
Support Iran's insistence its nuclear program have access to "advanced technology, including those with dual use," which is equipment and know-how that has both peaceful and weapons applications.
-"Remove impediments" - sales restrictions imposed by nuclear supplier nations - preventing Iran access to such technology.
-Give assurances they will stick by any commitment to Iran even if faced with "legal (or) political ... limitations," an apparent allusion to potential Security Council sanctions.
-Agree to sell Iran conventional weapons.
Bush says it's important that the Iranian government listen to global demands that it not go nuclear.
-Commit to push "rigorously and systematically" for a non-nuclear Middle East and to "provide security assurances" against a nuclear attack on Iran, both allusions to Israel, which is believed to have nuclear arms and which destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in a 1981 airstrike to prevent it from making atomic arms.
France, Germany and Britain last year had held out the prospect of supplying Iran with some "dual use" nuclear technology, but only in the distant future and only if all suspicions about the Iranian program were laid to rest.
With Iran still under investigation, the demands stunned senior French, German and British negotiators, said a European Union official familiar with the Paris meeting.
Ignoring the list, the Europeans instead urged Iran to act on its leaders' pledge to clear up suspicions about their nuclear ambitions by Sept. 13, when the International Atomic Energy Agency meets to review Iran's nuclear program, the official said.
The Paris talks ended "with the two sides talking past each other," said a diplomat familiar with the meeting, who - like the other diplomats and the EU official - agreed to discuss the matter only if granted anonymity.
In London, the Foreign Office declined to comment on the negotiations with Iran, but said Britain is "not prepared to stand by and watch them collect the necessary technology to make a weapon."
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi insisted in Tehran that the international community has no reason to be suspicious about his country's nuclear plans.
"Iran has not violated any of its commitments to international treaties in its nuclear program," Kharrazi was quoted as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
The Bush administration insists Iran wants to make nuclear weapons, despite Tehran's claims that it is interested in uranium enrichment and other "dual use" technology only to help generate electricity.
During a campaign stop Monday, President Bush said U.S. officials are working with other nations to make sure the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency based in Vienna, asks Iranian officials "hard questions" about their weapons activities.
"Iran must comply with the demands of the free world and that's where we sit right now," Bush said in Annandale, Va. "My attitude is that we've got to keep pressure on the government, and help others keep pressure on the government - so there's going to be universal condemnation of illegal weapons activities."
Iran agreed last October to suspend uranium enrichment and cooperate with the IAEA investigation of its nuclear activities in exchange for a promise from the France, Germany and Britain to provide technology for peaceful nuclear programs once all open questions had been answered.
It subsequently stopped enrichment, but continued related activities. That fell short of a demand from the Europeans that it permanently renounce the process, which can both produce fuel for generating electricity and create the core of a nuclear warhead.
While enrichment remains suspended, Iran announced last week that it has resumed full-scale manufacture of centrifuges, which are used in uranium enrichment. It said the move was a reaction to the Europeans not persuading the IAEA to end its investigation.
Past American attempts to have the IAEA refer Iran to the Security Council foundered in part because of European resistance. But the hardline Iranian stance has emboldened U.S. officials.
A U.S. official in Washington, who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity, said the Paris meeting was a factor in the Bush administration's stronger confidence that it will get support for an IAEA board resolution asking for Security Council action against Iran.
On the Net:
International Atomic Energy Agency:
? 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Pakistan slams US for 'mind-boggling' envoy sting (09/08/2004)
ISLAMABAD (AFP) Pakistan angrily accused its close ally the United States of endangering the life of one its top envoys in a reported sting operation, describing it as bizarre, dangerous and regrettable.
It was responding to claims that a US secret agent posed as a terrorist seeking to buy missiles to kill Munir Akram, Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations, in a bid to catch potential money launderers.
"At one level this is a bizarre story; at another quite dangerous," government spokesman Masood Khan told a weekly press briefing about the New York Times report.
The projection of a fictitious threat to a senior envoy from a close ally of the US was "regrettable," Khan said. "It is mind-boggling why they could not use the name of an American functionary," he said.
Khan added: "This has increased our ambassador's and our mission's vulnerability. This technique and methodology is tantamount to autosuggestion and could have endangered the life of our ambassador."
The Pakistani government, one of Washington's most pivotal partners in the war on terrorism, has lodged a complaint with the US embassy in Islamabad.
"We hope that the US will realise its mistake and give instructions for rectifying this faulty methodology," Khan said.
Two men were captured in the operation and are being held by US authorities.
Pakistan's outburst came in the midst of a high-profile crackdown on suspected top Al-Qaeda operatives hiding out in the world's second most populous Muslim nation.
The July arrests of Tanzanian terror suspect in the 1998 east Africa US embassy bombings Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani and Pakistani computer whizz Naeem Noork Khan have led to the uncovering of a worldwide Al-Qaeda wing which was plotting fresh terror attacks in Britain and the US.

Elite veterans prowl Pakistan
By Rowan Scarborough
The United States, on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, is augmenting counterterror operations in Pakistan with scores of former special-operations warriors who work for the CIA and other agencies under contract.
Thousands of U.S. troops are openly fighting in Afghanistan along the Pakistan border. The stated U.S. policy, however, is that no American troops are inside Pakistan pursuing bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorists or advising local troops.
The reality is there are "a load of contracts" with U.S. agencies attracting veterans of Special Forces and other elite units to Pakistan, one source told The Washington Times.
The official ban is in deference to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, whose solid alliance with the United States in the war on terror stops short of allowing American ground troops in his country.
Asked at a March press conference whether U.S. troops were inside Pakistan hunting for Osama bin Laden, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld responded, "The U.S. Department of Defense people? I doubt it. Not that I know of."
But Washington is getting around the ban by signing up former Delta Force commandos, SEALs and Green Berets and assigning them to special duties in Pakistan, according to two sources close to the special-operations community.
"There are a load of contracts going on for ex-SF [Special Forces] types there for every alphabet agency there is," one of the sources said.
The source said the former covert warriors joined CIA operations in Pakistan and train local soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques.
The de facto deployment of U.S. troops is an example of how far Pakistan -- an acknowledged nuclear power -- has come in its global alliances. Once a backer of the al Qaeda-supporting Taliban regime in Afghanistan, Islamabad has become one of Washington's most essential allies.
There was a time when such cooperation seemed impossible.
In the early days of President Bush's term, Dan Gallington, then a senior adviser to Mr. Rumsfeld, received a courtesy call from a former top Pakistani defense official who told him that the Taliban was sure to finally defeat the Northern Alliance and conquer all of Afghanistan. More alarmingly, this person predicted that his country also would fall to Islamic militants -- making it the first theocracy to own the world's most powerful weapon.
Three years later, Pakistan is the setting for the third hot war in the global war on terrorism, joining Afghanistan and Iraq as places where the military hunts and battles al Qaeda and other terrorists.
Bush administration officials say, in an odd twist, bin Laden's September 11 attacks might have saved Pakistan. Gen. Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 coup, saw his hold threatened by Islamic militants who were infiltrating more organs of government, especially the powerful intelligence service.
"Musharraf has clawed his way back, aggressively supported by the United States," said Mr. Gallington, an analyst at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. "We saved Musharraf in the nick of time. Pakistan is the focal point in that part of the world, and Musharraf understands that."
September 11 forced Gen. Musharraf to pick sides under pressure from Mr. Bush. He chose the United States.
During the invasion of Afghanistan in December 2001, the Pakistani president allowed his soil to be used by U.S. special-operations forces and the Predator spy drone to begin missions across the border.
During the subsequent counterinsurgency that continues today, he took an even bigger step. For the first time in memory, a president of Pakistan sent government troops into the vast tribal lands bordering Afghanistan. They are hunting for bin Laden and, in the process, confronting and killing bands of al Qaeda terrorists.
Pakistan's close working relationship with the CIA and FBI produced the arrests this summer of key al Qaeda members who use the country as a base from which to plan attacks and conduct worldwide communications. One key capture was Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who was indicted in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa.
On the ideological front, Gen. Musharraf's government has begun dismantling the network of harsh schools or madrassas that teach the young to hate. They are being replaced by public schools funded by the United States.
Pakistan served as sanctuary for bin Laden and his network for more than a decade. The teeming neighborhoods of cities such as Karachi and Islamabad serve as perfect hiding places.
Now, Gen. Musharraf is allowing CIA and FBI personnel to infiltrate those haunts, as his troops mount incursions into no man's land. It is all part of a risky attempt to methodically weed deadly militants from his country, while keeping the larger population in check.
Mr. Rumsfeld, in an Aug. 3 interview with Atlanta-based radio talk-show host Neil Boortz, described the alliance.
"We have thousands of troops in Afghanistan that are working along that Afghan-Pakistan border in close cooperation with the Pakistan government," the defense secretary said. "And the belief continues to be that Osama bin Laden and some of his senior operatives are possibly in Pakistan or in parts of Afghanistan from time to time."


Top trainer at al Qaeda camp captured
By Paul Haven
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- In a new blow to al Qaeda, authorities in the United Arab Emirates captured a senior operative in Osama bin Laden's terror network who trained thousands of militants for combat and turned him over to Pakistan, the information minister said yesterday.
Qari Saifullah Akhtar was secretly flown to the eastern city of Lahore, where he was being interrogated, a Pakistani intelligence official said on the condition of anonymity.
Pakistan, a key ally of the United States in its war on terror, has arrested about 20 al Qaeda suspects in less than a month -- including a top figure sought by the United States. The arrests prompted a series of raids in Britain and uncovered al Qaeda surveillance in the United States.
Akhtar once had run a vast terror camp in Rishkhor, Afghanistan, that was visited by bin Laden and Taliban chief Mullah Mohammed Omar. The camp -- a sprawling complex of shattered barracks and dusty fields about 10 miles south of the Afghan capital, Kabul -- trained 3,500 men in combat skills, including assassination and kidnapping.
Akhtar disappeared in the hours before the United States started bombing Afghanistan in October 2001 and had not been heard from since.
"Yes, we can confirm that we have Qari Saifullah," Pakistani Information Minister Sheik Rashid Ahmed said.
Akhtar was arrested in Dubai "in the past week" and turned over to Pakistan, the minister said, without giving any details about the arrest.
Officials in Dubai had no comment.
In Washington, the head of the White House's office of counterterrorism said Akhtar's arrest was significant and that he was thought to be involved in two December attempts to assassinate President Pervez Musharraf.
The arrest is "very important, particularly for Pakistan," Frances Townsend said on "Fox News Sunday."
Asked whether Akhtar is thought to be involved in current al Qaeda operations, Mrs. Townsend said, "Absolutely. Absolutely."
But Mr. Ahmed said it was "premature" to link Akhtar to the assassination attempts.
Akhtar is said to have been active in several Kashmiri militant groups, including the Harakat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami, whose Muslim fighters have fought as far afield as Chechnya and Bosnia.
"He had a hand in various cases," Mr. Ahmed said of Akhtar, without elaborating.
Pakistan's Geo television reported yesterday that authorities also had arrested Kashmiri militant Maulana Fazl-ur Rahman Khalil on charges of sending militants to Afghanistan to join the Taliban.
Khalil is said to be the leader of Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, a group linked to Harakat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami and one of several Kashmiri militant groups banned by Gen. Musharraf on suspicion of ties to al Qaeda.
Khalil also helped organize a clandestine 1998 trip by about a dozen Pakistani journalists to interview bin Laden in Khost, Afghanistan -- one of the last interviews he granted.
Senior government ministers had no comment on the Geo report, which did not say when or where Khalil was arrested.
Mr. Ahmed said the arrest of Akhtar was not linked to the recent capture of two other al Qaeda operatives, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani and Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan.
Information gleaned during those arrests helped lead to a terror warning in the United States and a sweep in Britain that has netted about a dozen suspects.

Lebanon suspends all investment plans in Iraq
Lebanon has suspended all investment plans in Iraq as a result of the latest wave of kidnappings, which included five Lebanese hostages. The nabbed Lebanese comprised of a businessman and four drivers whose trucks have also been hijacked along with a big load of power generators, An Nahar newspaper reported Sunday.
It quoted the chairman of Lebanon's Industrial Association, Fadi Abboud, as saying in an interview that Iraq's rickety security conditions "have led to halting any Lebanese planning to invest in Iraq."
"The Lebanese were eager a year ago to move into Iraq's industrial sector, because of the low cost of energy, which is almost non existent and the low costs of labor," Abboud conveyed.
According to him, the plan was to invest in the fields of plastics, power generating, air conditioners, petrochemicals and prefabricated houses. "But all this planning has now come to a standstill after the targeting of Lebanese in Iraq," Abboud said.
He stated Lebanon's exports to Iraq have ebbed between 30 and 35 percent as a result of the latest kidnappings. (


Salem Chalabi Denies Murder Accusation
from All Things Considered, Monday , August 09, 2004
Salem Chalabi, nephew of former U.S. adviser Ahmed Chalabi, denies allegations that he was involved in the June murder of the Iraqi finance ministry's director. An arrest warrant has been issued for Chalabi, who is currently overseeing the special tribunal for prosecuting Saddam Hussein. Hear Salem Chalabi and NPR's Melissa Block.


The UN Betrayal
Produced on 08/09/04
Listen to the story
800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus perished in Rwanda's genocide. It's been more than 10 years since the slaughter and there's much unfinished business. One case involves Callixte Mbarushimana. The charges against him are shocking, even in the context of the horrors that engulfed Rwanda. Mbarushimana worked for the United Nations there. He's accused of lending UN resources to the mass killing and even murdering co-workers. Michael Montgomery of American Radio Works produced our story in cooperation with the PBS program Frontline.
One final note on this story. Callixte Mbarushimana is suing the United Nations for back pay, reinstatement and damages. A UN advisory board has recommended that Mbarushimana receive back pay. But the matter is currently pending before the UN Administrative Tribunal.
During the Rwanda genocide ten years ago the UN's small contingent of foreign workers struggled to save lives. Men, women and children were being butchered by the thousands each day. Hutu extremists went to great lengths to track down and kill minority Tutsis working for international organizations like the United Nations.
Gregory Alex is a veteran aid worker in Africa. In April, 1994, Alex was working for the UN Development Fund or UNDP. He chose to stay in Rwanda during the genocide to lead emergency relief operations and try to protect his Rwandan colleagues. Alex says he was especially concerned for a UNDP employee named Florence Ngurumpatse. She was a Tutsi who was loved by many UNDP workers. Because of her ethnicity she was targeted by extremists.
Alex is a stocky man with a crew cut and an intense gaze. He steers his SUV through the center of Kigali. The streets are quiet as he passes freshly painted government buildings that served as the nerve center of the genocide ten years ago. He approaches a dirt lane and stops before a single story house surrounded by lush trees. Florence Ngurumpatse lived here. During the genocide it was just half a mile from a UN safe haven.
Gregory Alex: She was there with I think it was 10 children she was taking care of. I think there was a hope because of who she was that maybe she might be able to get out and save the children.
Ngurumpatse had taken in the children, mainly teenage schoolgirls, because she thought her UN status would give them protection. Surrounded by militiamen, she telephoned friends and UN officials, pleading for help in escaping. Alex says her voice grew increasingly desperate.
Gregory Alex: And she is saying they came again today, they threatened to kill us, they threatened to rape the girls. You know it was every day a terror. Kind of like the false execution torture where they say we are coming back later and we are going to kill you. So you spend the entire day terrorized that they are going to come and then they say `naw we are going to kill you tomorrow but we are going to rape you first before we kill you.'
Some UNDP workers were already dead. Tutsis in hiding or under UN protection told Alex they suspected a fellow UNDP worker, a Hutu, was behind the killings. His name is Callixte Mbarushimana. In 1994, Mbarushimana was 30-years old and working for the UNDP as a computer technician. During the genocide he assumed control of the UNDP compound after international staff was evacuated. Witnesses told Alex they saw Mbarushimana directing Hutu death squads.
Gregory Alex: The first thing they would tell me is don't give any information to Callixte. He's the one that is looking for us. And he had this, what I sensed from them, this desire to make sure he completed his task, which was to eliminate all Tutsis working for the UN.
Two weeks into the genocide Alex says he encountered Mbarushimana at the UNDP compound. He was armed.
Gregory Alex: And he came over with this angry look on his face and unprovoked he said "Nous eliminarans tous." And he had a paper in his hand and he slammed his fist into his other hand and he said no.....we will eliminate them all and he was referring to the Tutsis.
Three weeks later, in mid-May 1994, the UN finally authorized a rescue of UNDP employee Florence Ngirumpatse. But hours before UN armored vehicles were dispatched, Hutu militiamen invaded Ngirumpatse's house.... armed with knives and machetes.
Gregory Alex: I Imagine that all those people down at the checkpoints said, hey...and I'm sure there were people on the inside knowing what was happening, that the rescue operation was being mounted said `hey tomorrow's the day, you'd better do it today.' So they came in and they just cut them all to death. Women and children.
Alex suspected Callixte Mbarushimana tipped off militiamen to the impending rescue. But he didn't have the chance to find out. Like thousands of other Hutus, Mbarushimana fled Rwanda after the genocide. UNDP officials stationed in Africa say they were aware of allegations against Mbarushimana immediately after the genocide. But there is no record of any investigation by the UNDP into the killings of its staff or the possible use of its resources by the extremists. Not only did the UN fail to investigate Mbarushimana at the time ...he remained on the UN payroll seven years later. Charles Petrie is a senior UNDP official who served in Rwanda.
Charles Petrie: What infuriated me and others is that somebody like that could continue working for the UN. He was an international civil servant responsible for the murders of our colleagues.
In 2001, Callixte Mbarushimana was discovered still working for the Kosovo. Prompted by newspaper reports, the UN detained Mbarushimana and a complex legal battle followed. In the end, a Kosovo court rejected an extradition request from the Rwandan government. Mbarushimana was released and eventually moved to France. The story seemed to end there. But hidden from the public, the UN war crimes tribunal for Rwanda launched a secret investigation of Mbarushimana in May 2001.
Torny Grieg: The initial reaction was that, we are embarrassed at this story.
Torny Grieg is a lawyer from New Zealand who led the UN investigation. He is speaking publicly about the case for the first time.
Torny Grieg: It is a shocking story. Here is a man who was our colleague, who killed our colleagues, and we must not be seen to be sitting on our hands. We must get him.
Greig interviewed more than 20 witnesses in Rwanda and across Africa and Europe.
Torny Grieg: The picture we built up was that for some time prior to April 1994, Mbarushimana had formed a militia, and had done drill and weapons training in the months leading up to the genocide. They had attended party meetings which from the description seemed to resemble Nuremberg rallies that had been used to whip up feelings and hatred.
Witnesses told Greig that in addition to providing cash, vehicles and satellite phones--all UN property--to militias and the army, Mbarushimana was present at massacres of possibly hundreds of people, allegedly shooting some of the victims himself. Some witnesses were Tutsi survivors who told Greig they recognized Mbarushimana. Others were Hutus like this man who says he took part in the massacres alongside Mbarushimana.
Anonymous: There were two kind of people among us. Some of us joined the militia because we had to. Then there were people who really wanted to be there. People who had a desire to kill and would keep a list of the dead and the ones left to be killed.
This witness, who asked that his name not be used, is a 33-year-old carpenter who says he was given a club and ordered to help hunt down Tutsis. He remembers Callixte Mbarushimana as one of the top militia authorities in his neighborhood.
Anonymous: Callixte was a vicious and cruel man. He had lists and would direct the militias to homes. Most of the victims in this area were killed under Callixte's orders
American RadioWorks obtained a copy of a secret indictment drafted by a senior lawyer with the UN war crimes tribunal in the fall of 2001. It charges Mbarushimana with genocide and crimes against humanity. The document lists Florence Ngurumpatse, Callixte's former co-worker, as one of his targets. Mbarushimina would have been the first UN employee ever charged with war crimes by an international tribunal. But instead of signing the indictment, Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte closed the investigation. In an order of dismissal, Del Ponte said there was insufficient evidence to support the charges. Prosecutor Del Ponte declined to discuss the case but Torny Grieg, who has since left the tribunal, says her decision ignored strong evidence against Mbarushimana.
Torny Grieg: I had eyewitness accounts, I had parties to his acts, I had their accounts. There was corroborative evidence from impeccable sources and there was evidence still lying in the ground literally waiting to be dug up, had anyone wanted to do so. The evidence was there. It stacked up and it compared with other cases that I had dealt with.
A senior official with the UN Tribunal who requested anonymity agrees that there was enough evidence to prosecute Mbarushimana but declined to elaborate on why the case was dropped.
Payam Akhavan: It is somewhat suspicious. Payam Akhavan is a former legal advisor to the UN war crimes tribunal. He left the tribunal prior to the Mbarushimana investigation and is now a senior fellow at Yale law school. Akhavan says that while the tribunal has sought to prosecute only the top leaders of the genocide, and not lesser figures like Mbarushimana.-- the UN had a special responsibility in this case because it involved a UN employee.
Payam Akhavan: What is strange in this case is that the prosecutor has gone out of her way to issue an order for dismissal which I find very unusual. Usually an investigation is simply dropped. There is no reason to have a specific order.
Speaking through his lawyers, Callixte Mbarushimana strongly denied playing any role in the genocide. Mbarushimana confirmed he was living with his family in Kigali during the genocide and coordinated work at the UNDP compound. But he says he too was attacked by gunmen during the genocide. Mbarushimana says the UN violated his rights during his detention in Kosovo. And in a further twist, he is now demanding back pay, reinstatement and an unspecified amount in damages before the UN administrative tribunal in New York. As for the allegations against him, Mbarushimana suggested they were part of a vendetta.
Charles Petrie: It's not a vendetta against Callixte. It's a moral responsibility towards those colleagues that we worked with who were killed.
Charles Petrie is now the UNDP's country representative in Burma.
Charles Petrie: The fact that somebody like Callixte and that affair can remain active ten years after 800,000 people were massacred is symptomatic of the fact that maybe the lessons haven't been learned and systems haven't been established to insure that something like that wouldn't happen again.
Petrie is now pressing the UNDP for a high level inquiry into the hiring of Mbarushimana, his activities during the genocide and the possible misuse of UNDP assets. He also wants to know why the UN war crimes tribunal dropped the indictment. Petrie says there is growing concern inside the UN that the organization might reach a financial settlement with Mbarushimana.
Charles Petrie: The UN is not a government. We have no armies. We basically are able to assert ourselves in difficult situations because of a moral authority. Were the UN to back down or not to pursue this to a new level then I think it would harm the moral authority.
UN officials in New York would not discuss Mbarushimana, citing the case pending before the UN administrative tribunal. But sources close to the case say the organization is resisting any large payment to Mbarushimana. Payam Akhavan says Secretary General Kofi Annan should order an inquiry.
Payam Akhavan: If there is an allegation of bribery or embezzlement or financial wrongdoing by a UN staff member, clearly the SG is under an obligation to order an inquiry. I would suggest that the case for an inquiry is thus much more compelling where the allegation is that a UN staff member was involved in the mass killing of thousands of innocent people.
Thousands, even tens of thousands of cases of murder remained unresolved in Rwanda. This is the poisoned legacy of genocide. 33 of the Rwandan victims worked for the UN Development Program. In Kigali, a column carved with their names stands in the courtyard of the UNDP compound.
Gregory Alex: You know you can come by here every day. You don't think of, you try not to think of what took place.
Gregory Alex, who left the UN and now works in Africa for the World Bank, still comes to this place to mourn his murdered colleagues.
Gregory Alex: You can see Florence. You can see my drivers. You look at the names here and you just think of, these are people that had skills and were people that represented a future for this country, and they're all gone.
This past spring the Rwandan government added Callixte Mbarushimana to its list of top genocide suspects living outside the country. Rwandan officials say they are discussing the case with authorities in France and will likely press for his extradition. But relations between Rwanda and France are poor. Meanwhile, a ruling from the United Nations Administrative Tribunal is expected in the coming weeks. For the World and American RadioWorks, I'm Michael Montgomery.
American RadioWorks is the documentary unit of American Public Media. Michael Montgomery and Stephen Smith produced this story in cooperation with the PBS program FRONTLINE.
For photographs and primary documents relating to the case visit:


U.N. to Report on Iraqi Oil Corruption
Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The panel investigating "serious" allegations of corruption in Iraq's oil-for-food program hopes to report on accusations of U.N. involvement by mid-2005, chairman Paul Volcker said Monday.
At a news conference releasing the committee's first quarterly report, the former Federal Reserve chairman said he doesn't know how long it will take to complete the investigation, which he estimated will cost at least $30 million over the next year.
The committee's report states that "the allegations of misconduct and maladministration are serious" and Volcker told reporters, "I think clearly there's a lot of smoke." He refused to speculate on what the investigation might find.
"If you really wanted to wrap this up, in the sense of chasing down every contractor involved here and what happened to the money, I think we'd be here until the next century," he said. "Obviously, we want to investigate enough of these cases to have an understanding, as best we can, of what happened."
The oil-for-food program, which began in December 1996 and ended in November, was launched by the U.N. Security Council to help Iraqis cope with U.N. sanctions.
Saddam Hussein's regime could sell unlimited quantities of oil provided the money went primarily to buy humanitarian goods and pay reparations to victims of the 1991 Gulf War. Saddam's government decided on the goods it wanted, who should provide them and who could buy Iraqi oil - but the Security Council committee overseeing sanctions monitored the contracts.
Volcker, the former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, initially predicted that the Independent Inquiry Committee would produce some results on the U.N.'s internal operation of the humanitarian program in six to eight months. But he said there is a massive amount of documentation to examine just in the United Nations - "10,000 boxes ... with millions of pages" - plus critical material in Iraq and thousands of contracts.
Volcker said the committee's priority is "to make the definitive report" on the U.N.'s administration of the program and the accusations of corruption involving U.N. officials.
"We would certainly want to get that part of it done in the first half of next year - no later than the middle of next year," he said. "But that does not mean the investigation as a whole will be completed because there's so much going on outside the U.N. that we have to follow up on as well."
Volcker said there's "a lot of competition" in investigating allegations of payoffs, bribes, kickbacks, overcharges and undercharges by companies and individuals who bought Iraqi oil and sold Iraq goods.
The U.S. Congress has launched five investigations, the U.S. Justice Department is investigating, the U.S. attorney's office in New York is interested in potential corruption by American companies, Britain is investigating a company that reported some involvement, and Iraq's interim government has launched a major probe in hopes of getting some money back, Volcker said.
Allegations of corruption in the oil-for-food program surfaced in January in the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada, which published a list of about 270 former government officials, activists, journalists and U.N. officials from more than 46 countries suspected of profiting from Iraqi oil sales that were part of the U.N. program.
Volcker's committee has taken custody of the U.N. files and he told reporters it will only give out information to other inquiries that it feels will not prejudice its own investigation or be prejudicial to particular individuals. He said the committee's 50-member staff was already "well advanced" in organizing the U.N. documents and has started conducting interviews.
? 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
China's PLA: 7-carrier exercise signals U.S. strategic shift 'from Atlantic to Pacific'
The global naval exercise known as Summer Pulse 2004 represents a new strategic U.S. military trend, the Chinese military publication PLA Daily stated last week. Seven aircraft carrier battle groups have put to sea simultaneously around the world, including two in the Pacific, as a show of multiple carrier operations. The report maintained that the focus of the exercise was for the U.S. to contain its Asian "potential opponent."

U.S. replaces troops departing South Korea for Iraq with a 500-man Patriot missile unit
N. Korea letter to UN threatens war, calls U.S. force reorganization 'massive arms buildup'
Election-year politics impact U.S. strategy for 6-nation talks on N. Korea
Starving masses plus a cornered but well-fed leadership equals desperation for N. Korea
Saudi Arabia arrests senior ''militant''
A "militant of the deviating group" called Faris bin Ahmed bin Showeel Al-Zaharani and an individual accompanying him were arrested on Thursday evening while Saudi security men were hunting down members this group, an official source at the Ministry of Interior stated.
The source described to SPA on Friday Al-Zahrani as one of the leading terror suspects, who denounces people as infidels, calls for bombings, lambastes Ulema, and instigates other individuals to kill security men, noting that it will not disclose the identity of the second person for security reasons.
The source pointed out that the security men detained the two swiftly and efficiently so that they could not use the weapons they were carrying, indicating that no one was injured in this incident. (


Syria frees scores of political prisoners
Syria has freed 90 political prisoners this week, including three who have been in jail for more than 20 years, a Syrian human rights group said Wednesday.
The Human Rights Association in Syria said the government had released 35 political prisoners on Monday. A member of the association, lawyer Anwar al-Buni, told The Associated Press that another 55 political prisoners were released on Tuesday.
The Monday releases included Syria's longest serving prisoner, Imad Shiha, who was jailed in 1975 for belonging to the outlawed Arab Communist Organization, as well as two members of banned Islamic groups, Abdul-Qader Ahmed and Mohammad Hallak. Ahmed was imprisoned in 1979 and Hallak in 1982.
Shiha was imprisoned in connection with his alleged involvement in bombings. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour by the Supreme State Security Court (SSSC). During the initial stage of detention he was reportedly tortured and ill-treated, apparently to force him to confess to the charges brought against him.
Al-Buni said the prisoners were freed as part of last month's amnesty by President Bashar Assad to mark the fourth anniversary of his July 2000 accession to power.
Al-Buni said most of the prisoners freed this week were affiliated to Islamic groups and had already served their sentences. He added that four were seriously ill.
Some 160 prisoners jailed for common crime or military desertion have been freed during the past two weeks, al-Buni added. (
N.Korea Asylum Activist Released from China Jail
Monday, August 9, 2004; 5:50 AM
BEIJING (Reuters) - A Japanese man accused of helping North Koreans flee abroad via China has been released from Chinese custody and allowed to leave the country, a Japanese embassy spokesman said on Monday.
Takayuki Noguchi, of the Tokyo-based rights group Life Funds for North Korean Refugees, was arrested last December in the southern region of Guangxi while trying to help two North Korean asylum seekers escape to Cambodia.
Noguchi was jailed for eight months and fined $2,400.
"He was freed today and they let him go home," the embassy spokesman said.
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees said the pair he tried to help, who had returned to North Korea from Japan in 1960 during a mass repatriation of North Korean nationals, had been sent back to the closed Stalinist state.
Activists say that as many as 300,000 North Korean refugees are hiding in northeast China after fleeing hunger, poverty and repression in their impoverished homeland. Defectors say North Korean refugees who are sent home may face imprisonment, torture or death.
Activists have orchestrated a series of mass defections at foreign diplomatic missions across China to try to pressure Beijing to reverse its policy of viewing North Koreans as economic migrants instead of refugees.
China, which fought alongside the North in the 1950-53 Korean War, has an agreement with its neighbor to repatriate illegal migrants. In recent years, however, it has allowed scores of North Korean asylum seekers who managed to enter foreign embassies and consulates to travel to South Korea via third countries.
? 2004 Reuters

In Search of "Righteous Arabs"
Robert Satloff
Robert Satloff is the director of policy and strategic planning at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. His "What Do Arab Reformers Want?" appeared in our December 2003 issue. * A case in point is the Arab professor of English literature who contributed a brilliant essay to an Internet-based "virtual symposium" on Arab views of the Holocaust. See hoped to conquer. That included a great Arab expanse in North Africa, extending from Casablanca to Tripoli and onward to Cairo--a region that was home to a half-million Jews. Indeed, the countryby- country plan of extermination laid out at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin in January 1942 makes sense only if the wildly inaccurate figure for the Jews of unoccupied France--700,000--is understood to include France's North African possessions: the colony of Algeria and the protectorates of Morocco and Tunisia.
In the brief period when they had a chance, the Germans and their allies made a significant start toward their murderous goal for North Africa's Jews. For three years--from the fall of France in June 1940 to the expulsion of German troops from Tunisia in May 1943--the Nazis, their Vichy French collaborators, and their Italian Fascist allies applied in these areas many of the same tools that would be used to devastating effect against the much larger Jewish populations of Europe. These included not only statutes depriving Jews of property, education, livelihood, residence, and free movement, but also forced labor, confiscations, deportations, and executions. Virtually no Jew in North Africa was left untouched. Nearly 10,000 suffered in labor camps, work gangs, and prisons, or under house arrest. By a stroke of fortune, relatively few perished, many of them in the almost daily Allied bombings of Tunis and Bizerte in the winter and spring of 1943 when the Germans forced Jewish workers to stay at their jobs clearing rubble. But if U.S. and British troops had not driven the Germans from the African continent in 1943, the 2,000-year-old Jewish communities of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and perhaps Egypt would almost certainly have met the fate of their brethren in Europe. Many Arabs today would respond that all this has nothing to do with Arab history. It has to do, rather, with the history of colonialists who played out their designs on Arab soil; Arabs had no part in it, they would say. But they would be wrong. Just as in Europe, most members of the local populace stood by and did nothing; a few helped--the Arab world, too, had its "righteous Gentiles"; and some made matters demonstrably worse.
The story of the Holocaust in Arab lands has three main divisions: the extension of Vichy's "state anti-Semitism" to France's North African possessions; the imposition of Mussolini's anti-Jewish regime in Libya; and the six-month occupation of Tunisia by German and Italian troops. OtherFrench possessions in the Levant--Syria and Lebanon-- were affected by Vichy, but to a much lesser degree and for a considerably briefer time. There was also the special case of Iraq, which in 1941 witnessed a rapacious campaign against Jews in the course of a short-lived military coup by Rashid Ali al-Gaylani, a Nazi sympathizer; but neither the Germans nor their other European partners were central actors in that drama.
Particularly hard hit was Tunisia, the only Arab country to come under direct German occupation. In just six months, from November 1942 to May 1943, the Germans and their local collaboratorsimplemented a forced-labor regime, confiscations of property, hostage-taking, mass extortion, deportations, and executions. They required thousands of Jews in the countryside to wear the Star of David, and they created special Judenrat-like committees of Jewish leaders to implement Nazi policies under threat of imprisonment or death. Tunisia was also the training ground for some of the most notorious Nazi killers--like SS ColonelWalter Rauff, who had earlier invented the mobile death-gas van.
Nevertheless, of the three European countries that brought the Holocaust to Arab lands, the most malevolent by far was France. In Morocco and, especially, Algeria, France implemented strict laws against local Jews, expelling them from schools, universities, and government employment, confiscating their property, and sending a number of local Jewish political activists to harsh labor camps. In some respects, Vichy was more vigorous about applying anti-Jewish statutes in Arab lands than in metropolitan France.
Not content with this, Vichy also dispatched more than 2,000 European Jews to forced-labor camps in North Africa. The origins of this tale lie earlier, in the 1930's, when France's relatively liberal Third Republic provided safe haven to thousands of Central European Jews fleeing their homelands while they still could. Many of these new arrivals promptly joined the French army. Indeed, when war arrived in 1939, a Jewish veterans' organization operating out of a single office in Paris reportedly registered 10,000 volunteers, all noncitizens, in a mere ten days. But none of this made any difference. The collaborationist government established in 1940 under Marshal P?tain turned the Jews, both foreign and native-born, into ready scapegoats for France's shameful collapse at Nazi hands. As recent scholarship has definitively shown, the persecution of Jews under Vichy originated as a French, not a
In Search of "Righteous Arabs"
Commentary July-August 2004
German, affair; eventually, thousands of French Jewish citizens would be herded into cattle cars, sent to notorious transit stations like Drancy, and then on to death camps in "the east." It was, however, the foreign Jews living in France who first felt the brunt of the French defeat. For Vichy, the thorniest problem was presented by those who had volunteered for military duty and had been led to believe that their service to France would be repaid with legal residency and perhaps citizenship. Even hardened anti-Semites blanched at the idea of discharging Jewish soldiersone day and consigning them to death the next.The deserts of France's Arab possessions offered a ready solution. One of the first acts of P?tain's government was to revive the old imperial idea of a trans-Sahara railway: a thousand miles of track across the sands that would drastically cut the travel time from Niger to Nice and bring the riches of Africa to the metropolis. To level the dunes, clear the rocks, lay the tracks, and mine the considerable deposits of coal and ore near the route, Vichy summarily dispatched more than 7,000 unwanteds to desolate corners of western Algeria and eastern Morocco. Most were political prisoners of various stripes-- Spanish republicans, Communists, socialists, anti- Nazi Germans, Gaullists; also included were a smattering of Arabs and even a Japanese. More than 2,000 were Jews, who, unlike the rest, were deported not for their politics but for their religion. The places where these unfortunates arrived were concentration camps, conceived by Frenchmen and filled with individuals whose only "crime" had been to flee fascist tyranny for the safety of a once-welcoming France. Soldiers and legionnaires, technically demobilized from their military service, were immediately compelled to sign contracts reclassifying themselves as "wartime labor conscripts," which meant they were subject to military discipline. Though the contracts stipulated the payment of a wage--typically, a few francs a day from the payroll of the Mediterranean-Niger Railway Company--few ever received any money. They were, in fact, prisoners in all but name. Shipped southward by cattle car from the ports of Algiers and Oran, they were herded into camps from which there was no leaving; some died in the attempt. Given little food, water, or rest, they worked from dawn to dusk gathering, breaking, loading, and moving rocks. Medical care was virtually nonexistent. Having built stone casernes to house their French overseers, the prisoners themselves were consigned to tents; smuggled photographs show 40 individuals packed inside tents designed for eight. Their clothes and blankets were threadbare; often, they had no shoes. Torture was common and frequent. According to later testimonies, the camp commandants and senior officers, mostly legionnaires themselves, were vicious anti-Semites, sadistic and often drunk, many of German origin or fascist sympathies. They were assisted by Arab and Senegalese guards, notorious for their cruelty. Any Arab or Berber watchman discovered showing sympathy for the Jews, secretly providing them with extra water, blankets, or rations, was quickly assigned to other duties and replaced by local guards whose ruthlessness was more reliable.
A 1943 British Foreign Office document, "Barbaric Treatment of Jews and Aliens in Morocco," records the testimony of Polish Jewish prisoners who made their way to London after being freedby the Allies. Here is one such testimony, describing a common method of torture: The tombeau--tomb--is a grave dug in the ground, two meters long, 40 centimeters deep and 60 centimeters wide. Men under punishment are confined to this tomb for various periods. . . . The minimum sentence is eight days and nights. The maximum survived was seventeen days and nights. In this case the victimwas a Polish Jew called Rosenberg.Typical of the offenses which earned a man a stretch of tombeau was that of the German Jew Selgo. . . . Like all the others, he had to lie face up night and day. He had no covering,only a tattered Legion uniform with no underclothes. He was not allowed to move or change positions in the tombeau. An Arab was posted over the graves to see that the victims stayed rigidly still. . . .
The only occasion when a man was allowed to raise his head a little was after a rainstorm when the graves filled with water. Then he was allowed a stone for a headrest to save him from drowning. As the subsoil was clay, the waterwould take three days to drain away. . . . [Foreign Legionnaire] Gayer or one of the other guards would bring the men their meals--one liter of water at 0800 hours, 250 grams of bread and a glass of water at 1200 hours, and another glass of water at nightfall. A man was allowed to relieve himself only during these three visits of the guard. If he could not do it then he had to do it in his clothes and lie in it. . . . As the majority of prisoners were suffering from severe and sanguinary dysen- tery, a man lying in his own filth was the rule rather than the exception.
Not many men were able to survive the longer sentences in the tombeaux. They succumbed to the appalling variation in temperature in every twenty-four hours. By day, an egg could be cooked hard in the sand within five minutes. By night the temperatures fell to near freezing point and in winter below it. Another survivor, a German Jew named Harry Alexander whose story has been recorded for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, had managed to escape from Germany to France, where he planned to join the French army. Instead, he found himself on a freight train to Djelfa, a Vichy labor camp in the Algerian desert. "There were many ways to die" at Djelfa, he explained: "You had dysentery. You had malaria. A lack of food. A lack of water. Bitten by scorpions. Bitten by vipers . . . and you're dead in an hour." As for torture, a common form at Djelfa was "the fort," wherein French soldiers and Arab camp guards would tie your arms in the back and hang you on your arms naked for about two, three days. You would hang on your arms and every night they would come in and, when it's the coldest, hose you down with ice water and beat you about. . . . And when you got through hanging there, when they cut you down, you were not able to walk. In fact, you were lucky to be alive. Thus far I have touched but lightly on the role of Arabs themselves in the events I have been recounting. There has been, indeed, scant writing about and little documentation of this side of things. But for the past two years, while living in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, I have tracked down stories of Arabs who played a role in the Holocaust, be they villains or heroes. With the help of researchers and investigators in ten different countries, I have been able to unearth the stories of dozens of such individuals.
Their number includes outright collaborators-- i.e., Arabs who personally participated in the persecution of Jews. Among these were an Arab sadist who commanded a Jewish work brigade in the Tunisian countryside; another Tunisian, Hassen Ferjani, convicted by a French military tribunal of having informed to the Germans on three Jews fleeingacross Allied lines, an act leading to their deportation and eventual beheading; Arab patrolmen who tracked down Jewish escapees from forced-labor camps; Arabs who walked alongside German soldiers, pointing out Jewish homes and property for confiscation; the Arab accomplice to a German soldier who raped a Jewish woman in La Marsa, outside Tunis; and Arab camp guards who urinated on the heads of Jewish forced laborers as they lay buried to their necks in the sands of Algeria. In addition to these individuals were the hundreds of Arabs who volunteered to join Axis and pro-Axis forces like the Phalange Africaine, the Brigade Nord Africaine, and the German-Arab Training Battalion. And then there were the nameless thousands throughout North Africa who extorted money and property from Jews at their moment of abject weakness.
As for the heroes who helped save Jews from pain, injury, indignity, and perhaps death, they included:
* the Bey of Tunis and, more famously though less conclusively, the Sultan of Morocco, both of whom bucked their Vichy and German overlords to provide vital moral support to their Jewish subjects, as well as practical help to a number of Jewish personalities and their families;
* the Arab country squire who opened his farm to 60 Jews escaping from an Axis forced-labor camp in Tunisia's Zaghouan valley;
* a middle-aged Arab notable in the Tunisian seaside town of Mahdia who, upon learning that a German officer was bent on raping a local Jewish woman, a mother of three, whisked away the entire family in the middle of the night and kept them hidden on his farm for several weeks until the Germans quit the town;*
* the Arab politician who secretly warned and offered shelter to his longtime Jewish friends when Nazi SS troops were planning raids against the Jewish leadership in Tunis;
* religious leaders in Algiers who forbade any Muslim from serving as a Vichy-appointed conservator of Jewish property;
* Arab inmates of a prison camp in the Algerian desert who forged an anti-fascist bond with their Jewish prison mates;
* Arab soldiers whose response to shoot-to-kill orders was to fire wide, purposely missinghelpless Jewish laborers;
* and, in faraway Paris, the rector of the municipal mosque, Si Kaddour Bengabrit, who is said to have given Jewish children counterfeit certificates of good standing as Muslims, thereby enabling them to escape deportation. * In October 2003, this woman's daughter, Anny Boukris, told her family's story in detail for the first time to an interviewer I arranged to visit her in Palm Desert, California; she died eight weeks later. I was able to confirm key details of the story in a May 2004 visit to Mahdia.
In Search of "Righteous Arabs"
Commentary July-August 2004
Similarly not to be forgotten are those Arabs who suffered alongside Jews--as prisoners in Vichy concentration camps or, as was the case in Tunisia, as forced-laborers drafted once the Jewish community had exhausted its own manpower. A small number of Arabs and Berbers also participated in one of the war's most daring and overlooked exploits: the takeover of key sites in Algiers by the predominantly Jewish underground, an action that eased the amphibious entry of thousands of U.S. and British troops on the night of Operation Torch in November 1942.
Taken together, this history is rarely told, and the heroes, in particular, have never been recognized. Of the more than 19,000 "righteous Gentiles" honored by Israel's Yad Vashem for rescuing Jews from death during the Holocaust, not a single one is an Arab (though there are a number of Muslims, including Turks, Bosnians, and Albanians). In my view, the reason for this lacuna is dual: few have ever looked for "Arab righteous," and fewer still have had an incentive to be found. For Arabs, the legacy of World War II was soon overshadowed by two other developments: the conflict with Zionism over the fate of Palestine and the struggle for independence against European colonialism. By the late 1940's--and certainly by the time of the Suez crisis in 1956--the blurring of the state of Israel with "the Jews" was already a deeply embedded theme of Middle Eastern politics. For an Arab, there was little to be gained (and much to be lost) by being identified with the defense of Jews or of Jewish interests. Sultan Muhammad V of Morocco and, to a lesser extent, Habib Bourghiba, the secular leader of Tunisia's independence movement, were significant exceptions, noteworthy not least for their rarity. For Jews, the situation was more complex. To many of those remaining in North Africa, memories of their horrible wartime experience were swiftly overtaken by the less systematic but often more violent anti-Zionism that compelled hundreds of thousands to quit their homes for Israel in the late 1940's and 1950's. Once in Israel, wartime memories were further obscured by the tension in that country between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews. To the degree that the former jealously guarded their Holocaust legacy--theirs, after all, had been by far the greater calamity--the latter tended not to focus on theirs. Similarly neglectful were Holocaust historians and institutions; even today, one hears debate in Israel over whether it is even appropriate to use the term "survivors" for Jews from Arab countries who suffered Nazi-era racial laws and punitive actions.
An additional wrinkle concerns the odd position held by the small and still dwindling remnants of once-grand Jewish communities in Arab countries. Less than 2 percent of the wartime Jewish population is left in Morocco and Tunisia today; in Algeria and Libya, the communities are effectively extinct. Navigating between the Scylla of Islamic radicalism and the Charybdis of regime indifference to their fate, Jews in these countries have by and large opted for quiescence. This attitude even extends backward to their past history. Although in the course of my research I did come across Sephardi activists agitating for wider acknowledgement of the history of the Holocaust in Arab lands, none actually resides in an Arab land today. But if these considerations help to explain the obscuring of the Arab encounter with the Holocaust, they hardly excuse it. When I began my research into this hidden history, my secret desire was to organize a commemorative event in May 2003 on the sixtieth anniversary of the Allied liberation of Tunisia. For the obvious reasons, I wanted it to take place in Auschwitz--as it happens, a handful of Tunisian deportees were eventually killed there--and I envisioned a ceremony that would bring together Tunisian government officials, scholars, journalists, local Jewish community leaders, and members of Tunisia's expatriate Jewish community.
My idea died when, traveling to Tunis, I asked my first interviewee, a prominent Arab historian, about the day his country was "liberated" from Nazi occupation. With a quizzical look on his face, he replied: "Liberation? What are you talking about? The departure of the Germans meant thereturn of the French, who were infinitely worse!" And this rebuff was nothing compared with my reception by the children of one of my prime candidates for recognition as a "righteous Arab": Tunisia's wartime prime minister, Muhammad Chenik. Walking a dangerous line between the Germans and his longtime personal friendships with Jews, this Arab notable, according to various interviewees, had used his connections to warn Jewish leaders of impending arrests and had secured dispensations from forced labor for the sons of Jews he knew from his business days. He very likely saved Jewish lives, perhaps at risk to his own. Whatever the motive behind these deeds--personal friendship, old business obligations, simple kindness--they were truly noble. Since I was intending to resurrect the story of this long-forgot- ten statesman, and bring honor to his name, I had expected his family to embrace the revelations I was offering them, or at the very least to thank me for my efforts. And indeed, the family members who gathered in their comfortable seaside villa to hear my tale were polite, generous, and welcoming, plying me with tray after tray of delicious sweets and several rounds of coffee and tea. But through the smiles and handshakes, it rapidly became clear that they wanted nothing to do with my story of their father's exploits. We have never heard about any of this, they insisted, and even if what you say is true, it does not amount to anything significant. Although they urged me to return with irrefutable proof, they offered no help, and it was obvious they hoped never to hear from me again. Perhaps the hardest blow has been the silence that has greeted most of my entreaties to moderate, forward-thinking Arabs to assist in shedding light on this chapter of their history. For every positive response to a phone call or a posting on an Internet message board, there have been a dozen cold shoulders, unanswered faxes, or unfilled promises.
In October 2003, to take one example, I contacted the prominent Egyptian thinker Ahmed Kamal Abulmagd--widely considered one of the most moderate and open-minded of Muslim theologians, and certainly no Holocaust denier--after his appearance before an audience at the American University of Cairo, where he had participated in an exchange with the American ambassador. At one point in their discussion, Abulmagd had turned to the ambassador and said:
We all condemn the policies of Hitler and the Holocaust, but enough is enough. There is a moment of saturation and, let me be very blunt on this, world Jewry is in danger because of the very irresponsible policies of the government of Israel, supported by some unaware leaders of the Jewish community in the United States. I hate to see a day where there is an unleashing of dormant general anti-Semitism, in Europe, particularly, and maybe in the United States. But we Arabs are not part of it. We are not part of the Holocaust. We never persecuted Jews. In contacting Abulmagd, my purpose was not to persuade him to repudiate his remarks. On the contrary, I wanted to ask him to use his good offices in helping me gain access to Egyptian consular records from the late 1930's. Those files, I believe, may contain evidence of an "Arab Wallenberg," an Egyptian diplomat who I suspect provided marriage or birth certificates to German and Austrian Jews, enabling them to flee to Cairo and from there to freedom in London. Though one might think Egyptian officialdom would be eager to exploit proof of a great humanitarian act by an Egyptian diplomat, one that would burnish Egypt's bruised image in the United States, none of my requests to Cairo policymakers--some of whom, at the highest levels of government, I have known for more than fifteen years--has ever been acknowledged. That is why I wrote to Abulmagd--twice. Noting the absence of a single Arab among Yad Vashem's list of "righteous" non-Jews, I begged for his intercession: "Didn't some Arabs help or rescue some Jews?," I asked. "And if indeed some Arabs didrescue some Jews, then isn't this the positive, constructive answer to Arab Holocaust denial?" But the taboo against recognizing any Arab connection to the Holocaust, even in order to celebrate the deeds of a heroic Arab rescuer, is evidently too strong. I am still waiting for an answer.
In Search of "Righteous Arabs"


How would you fix Social Security, Sen. Kerry?
He could legitimately be accused of implicitly endorsing tax increases
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle News Service
When it comes to Social Security reform, John Kerry is clear about what he is against.
``I will not privatize Social Security,'' he declared in his acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention. ``I will not cut benefits.'' The Democratic Party as a whole takes the same position through its party platform: ``Democrats believe in the progressive, guaranteed benefit that has ensured that seniors and people with disabilities receive a benefit not subject to the whims of the market or the economy. We oppose privatizing Social Security or raising the retirement age.''
It is a clear, resounding message... that says absolutely nothing about what Sen. Kerry or the Democrats would do to solve Social Security's looming financial crisis.
Yet Social Security will start running a deficit - spending more money on benefits than it takes in through taxes - in less than 15 years, by 2018, according to the last report of Social Security's trustees. The so-called Social Security Trust Fund, which is supposed to help pay benefits until 2042, in reality contains only government bonds, essentially an IOU. While few people doubt that those benefits will ultimately be paid, the federal government will still have to find the money to pay them.
And a lot of money it is.
In 2018, the first year that Social Security faces a shortfall, the cash deficit will exceed $17 billion. That's almost as much as Kerry has proposed in increased spending on Pell Grants.
By 2022, the annual Social Security deficit will have grown to roughly $100 billion, as much as Kerry would spend for a proposed energy trust, increased veterans benefits, fully funding Head Start and increased spending on homeland security.
By 2027, with the annual deficit approaching $200 billion, you can add inhis proposed increases in aid to state and local governments, his national service plan, and science and technology research.
And so it goes.
Overall, Social Security now faces unfounded liabilities in excess of $26 trillion.
One has to wonder where Kerry plans to get the money.
Actually, it is all too clear where the money will come from. As former President Bill Clinton pointed out, there are really only three options for Social Security reform: raise taxes, cut benefits or invest privately.
Since Sen. Kerry rules out private investment or benefit cuts, he could legitimately be accused of implicitly endorsing tax increases. And mighty big tax increases they would have to be: a 50 percent increase in the payroll tax or the equivalent.
This would be a tax hike far higher than what Kerry would ``save'' by rolling back parts of President Bush's tax cuts - even if he hadn't already promised to use those savings to fund other government spending. Not that financing is the only problem with Social Security. The program already provides today's workers with a low, below-market return on their tax ``contributions'' to the program. The program unfairly penalizes blacks, working women and others. Workers don't own their money or have any guaranteed right to their benefits.
In short, it is a program crying out for reform.
But Sen. Kerry continues to duck the issue.
Frankly, that's not good enough. No one should be running for president if he can't stand up and tell the American people what he would honestly try to do about Social Security.
President Bush has made his position clear. He would allow younger workers to privately invest at least a portion of their Social Security taxes through individual accounts.
You can agree or disagree with that idea, but at least you know where he stands.
If Sen. Kerry plans to raise taxes to prop up Social Security, he should tell us. If he has another idea, he should share it with us. If he believes that the current program, with all its problems, is the best we can do, he should say so. Sen. Kerry says that he has ``reported for duty.'' But on one of the most important domestic issues facing this country, he has been AWOL.
Tanner is director of the Project on Social Security Choice at the Cato Institute. Readers may write to the author at the Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20001; Web site:
Fiscal Follies
Clinton balanced the budget by cutting the military. That's not an option now.
Monday, August 9, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT
In a startling reversal of the usual party roles, John Kerry is staking his White House claim as a defender of "fiscal discipline" to counteract a spendthrift Republican Administration. It's all the more startling because his publicly announced proposals would actually increase the deficit.
Now, there is a certain satisfaction here for those of us who advised President Bush to veto a spending bill or two. His decision to acquiesce to Congress's worst spending impulses, from farm subsidies to Medicare, has given the Democratic challenger a chance to score political points simply by announcing his good intentions. It's true Mr. Bush never campaigned for a smaller government, but after 9/11 he certainly could have argued that the government had to choose between guns and butter. Until this year, he's gone along with both.
But none of this means the Kerry campaign deserves a free pass. According to last month's estimate from the National Taxpayers Union, Senator Kerry is promising to increase net spending by $226 billion in the first year, or $6,066 per taxpayer over four years. And that's a lowball figure. The calculation used the lowest cost estimate of each spending proposal. And it took at face value proposed spending cuts, such as ending subsidies to corporate farmers and reducing federal energy usage by 20%, which may be impossible to implement. Cuts in corporate welfare and the federal travel budget sound good, but they are campaign perennials that never seem to happen.
Even overlooking these flaws, how can Mr. Kerry blow out the budget so badly? It's not hard if you promise to be all things to all people. On top of Mr. Bush's huge education spending increases, the Democrats want to add $75 billion more in the first year alone. Another $56 billion is earmarked for public works and social programs. The Kerry health care proposals will cost another $71 billion that year, or $653 billion over 10, according to a former Clinton Administration economist. His original estimate was nearly $1 trillion until he found some miraculous savings.
Meanwhile, as part of his new image of toughness, Mr. Kerry promises to continue beefing up the military and homeland security, to the tune of $24 billion. Most of that will go for personnel benefits, but it will also pay for 40,000 more active-duty troops and to promote port safety, both respectable proposals.
The Democrats are trying to spark nostalgia for the Clinton era of supposed fiscal discipline. But remember the latter was achieved largely by cutting military spending. As the table nearby illustrates, Bill Clinton and a GOP Congress balanced the budget by withdrawing a "peace dividend" at a time when al Qaeda was declaring war. Mr. Bush, and presumably a President Kerry, must now walk that back up the hill.
Yes, you may be saying, but John Kerry says he can pay for all this by taxing those who make more than $200,000 a year--raking in $860 billion over the next decade. There are just a few problems. Current budget projections are based on current laws, which say the Bush tax cuts will phase out over the next five years unless Congress renews them. So the real take from soaking the rich a few years early will be modest, while the deficit projections will increase by a much larger margin if the middle-class tax cut is made permanent, as Mr. Kerry promises. Over the 10-year horizon his overall tax plan would reduce revenue by $602 billion, according to the Urban Institute.
The biggest canard is that Mr. Kerry will control spending by relying on spending "caps" and restoration of the "paygo" system, which required legislators to find offsets for any new tax cuts or spending. These only apply to the discretionary portion of the budget, not entitlements like Social Security and Medicare. The U.S. has just created the biggest new entitlement in half a century with the drug benefit for seniors, and Mr. Kerry wants to expand health spending still further. So paygo will do nothing to control the biggest sources of new spending.
Paygo really means that when the time comes to make the middle-class tax cuts permanent, there may not be enough money left in the discretionary part of the budget to find the offsets. So promises that tax increases will hit only the rich belong in the same category as Bill Clinton's 1992 pledge to raise taxes only on those making more than $200,000 a year and impose a "millionaire surtax." A year later that turned into a tax hike on those making as little as $114,000, while the definition of $1 million miraculously expanded to include those making as little as $125,000 a year.
While we agree that Mr. Bush has a lousy first-term spending record, he is now saying that in a second term he'd restrain non-defense increases. Mr. Kerry's stated agenda is increased spending nearly across the board and tax hikes. The voters can decide which of these better constitutes "fiscal discipline."

Posted by maximpost at 11:34 PM EDT
Friday, 6 August 2004

The Terror Alert, Pakistan and Presidential Politics listen
Presidential nominee John Kerry has been highly critical of President Bush, but his advisors say there is no evidence that the current terror alert was politically inspired. Meantime, Howard Dean has told interviewers "the administration is manipulating the release of information in order to affect the president's campaign." Based on four year-old computer entries and a "second stream" of intelligence, information on this latest terror threat came from the computer of an al Qaeda suspect captured last month in Pakistan. While that may be good news about Pakistan's participation in the war on terror, today's New York Times reports that militant Islamic groups are still training in Pakistan and launching attacks on US and Afghan forces across the border, and last week's New Yorker reported that the Internet has become a virtual training camp
Pakistan interview (4:30)
Host Marco Werman speaks with Husain Huqqani, former special assistant to three former Pakistani prime ministers, about the United States' complicated relationship with Pakistan. The country appears to be ramping up cooperation with the US war on terrorism, but it also allows militant Islamic groups to train there.

Musharraf steps back from the US
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - "Pakistan is not sending its troops to Iraq." So reads the most recent handout from the Pakistani Foreign Office and the clearest signal yet that President General Pervez Musharraf is finally attempting to distance himself from the United States' sphere of influence, even if only for domestic expediency.
Just days ago Islamabad refused to make such a categorical statement, as demanded by hostage-takers in Iraq holding two Pakistani contract workers. The two men were subsequently beheaded.
Interim Prime Minister Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain even paid a visit to Saudi Arabia, where he announced that the countries were developing a consensus on sending Pakistani troops to Iraq. Earlier, Saudi Arabia had proposed the formation of an all-Muslim force to be sent to Iraq to help with security. Pakistan was to be a key part of this.
And the Pakistani parliament was unable to come up with a resolution calling for troops not to be dispatched to Iraq. Similarly, when US Central Command commander General John Abizaid visited Islamabad last week, apart from pressing Musharraf to deliver "high-value" foreign suspects, he reiterated the US desire that Pakistan send troops to Iraq. Pakistan said it would do this "when the time is right".
For long caught between extremist Islamists on the one hand and US pressures on the other, Musharraf appears now to be distancing himself from Washington, as least as far as troops are concerned. He is still handing over al-Qaeda suspects on a regular basis.
Asia Times Online has been told by security contacts that well before Abizaid's visit, Hussain met with leaders of the influential grouping of six religious-political parties, the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, and asked them to raise a voice against sending the army into Iraq and to hold protest rallies all over the country to "show to US the extreme feeling of dissent" in the country.
An observer from Karachi who was close to Musharraf when he was a major-general and posted as director general of military operations at General Headquarters, Rawalpindi, commented, "Musharraf is susceptible to pressures. He does not have the ability to respond to pressures immediately, and always takes some time before he fights back against the pressures, and only when he is sure that he has the proper support."
Mounting pressures
Islamic militants continue their insurgency in the South and North Waziristan tribal areas, where, under pressure from Washington, the army has been sent to track down foreign militants. The troops are reportedly under daily rocket and missile attacks, as well as assaults from remote-controlled bombs.
Renewed insurgency in southwestern Balochistan province, where anti-Pakistan Baloch tribals, who had been courted by the US to counteract the Taliban, have now regrouped and are inflicting serious casualties on Pakistani troops.
The designation of pro-US banker and present Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz as the next premier, subject to him winning a by-election for the Lower House, has alarmed many as he has no political constituency. This has upset traditional feudal families who have relations in the army and who fear they will lose their political clout.
These developments have caused recent tit-for-tat reactions:
Major-General Ayaz Khattak, in charge of operations in South Waziristan, escaped death in a suicide attack on his office. After the incident, when authorities were inspecting the site, another bomb was detonated by remote control, killing an Intelligence Bureau officer.
Premier-designate Aziz survived a suicide attack in which 11 others were killed.
Feedback from the latest langer gathering. (Langer means feast. The army has traditionally staged feasts for officers, soldiers and their families. They hold frank discussions, and military intelligence then compiles a special report on the chit-chat, which is presented to all corps commanders and the chief of army staff. The mood was completely against sending troops to Iraq.)
In addition, Pakistan's elite intelligence agencies, including Military Intelligence and Inter-Services Intelligence, have repeatedly warned Musharraf about adverse developments in the army, that is, against the leadership. Musharraf has even repeated this in public, notably in connection with an assassination attempt on his life in which army personnel have been implicated.
Intelligence also points to stepped-up attacks by al-Qaeda and its sympathizers, including against prominent federal cabinet members.
Deadlines loom
Two of the most important dates since Musharraf assumed power in a bloodless coup in October 1999 are close. By October 7 he must replace two full generals who are due to retire, and by the end of the year he must choose between either the presidency or chief of army staff, the two positions he now holds.
With these two events in mind, Musharraf has opted to give himself breathing space and take some of the heat out of the political climate by ending debate on sending troops to Iraq, and waiting until he has his new generals in place as they are widely expected to be promoted on the basis of loyalty to Musharraf rather than on seniority. This will cause disaffected - passed-over - officers to resign, further strengthening the general's grip.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's bureau chief in Pakistan. He can be reached at
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)


Free Speaker
Hastert has solid economic ideas. Bush should listen.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert tends to operate behind the scenes. He's not one to make long public speeches or bask in the Washington glow. His image is more of a legislative tactician than a heavy thinker.
But it turns out that Hastert has developed a very clear set of opinions on domestic and economic policy, all of which he reveals in his just-released book, Speaker. In particular, the book has an excellent pro-growth, free-market, pro-competition policy chapter that covers taxes, education, healthcare, energy, and tort reform.
In every case the speaker comes down on the side of the people and markets -- not the government. On medical care he favors health savings accounts. On education he supports magnet, charter, or private schools. On energy he suggests full development of coal, oil, and gas reserves. On trial lawyers he proposes legislative reform to limit class-action lawsuits, especially medical liability and asbestos suits.
If Kerry takes the White House with Senate coattails in November, this worst-case scenario still leaves a Republican House. Hopefully it will act as a bulwark against galloping statism and a growing government footprint on the economy.
Hastert reassures that the House will do just that. He has some great conservative lieutenants in people like Tom Delay, Chris Cox, and David Dreier. And let's not forget that House Ways & Means chair Bill Thomas snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the 2003 tax-cut bill -- legislation that miraculously delivered a 15 percent marginal tax rate for capital gains and dividends, along with a speed-up in the implementation of lower marginal rates on personal income. That tax reform is what really launched the economy into full-scale recovery. It may well be President Bush's savior come November.
Speaking of taxes, Hastert has some very interesting pro-growth ideas. He correctly argues that American jobs move overseas in part because of excess taxes and regulations imposed on U.S. businesses. He also notes that U.S. products are encumbered by corporate taxes and employment taxes, both of which add measurably to a product's cost and price.
"Taxes account for between 23 to 27 percent of the cost of our goods and services," he writes, "but when our products go overseas -- to France, Germany, or Japan -- our taxes stay embedded in our goods or services." European countries, however, rebate their tax burdens to the employing companies, thereby giving them a competitive cost advantage on the world market. "Our widgets have a tax burden," says Hastert. "Their widgets don't."
His tax-reform paradigm looks like this: "For us to return capital and jobs to the United States, we're going to have to change our present tax system and adopt a flat tax, a national sales tax, an ad valorem tax, or VAT. . . . it's one of the most important things we can do over the next few years."
Hastert adds that homegrown U.S. labor costs are excessively high for three reasons: taxation, litigation, and regulation. He also notes studies showing that Americans spend nearly 6.1 billion hours on their taxes annually, and that two-thirds of taxpayers believe the system is far too complex. No one knows just how big these wasteful costs really are, but we are talking about a huge chunk of change.
Hastert doesn't exactly come out for the abolition of the IRS, but he does think it would be a great thing to do down the road. The speaker cites Rep. John Linder (R., Ga.) and his national sales tax proposal. He also cites Michael Burgess, a Republican doctor from Texas, who has introduced a bill that would replace the income tax with a flat tax over a three-year period.
Either of these proposals would enhance productivity and grow the economy more rapidly, doubling national output over the next fifteen years. "The answer is to grow the economy," writes the speaker, "and the key to doing that is making sure we have a tax system that attracts capital and builds incentives to keep it here instead of forcing it out to other nations."
Looks like we have a powerful supply-side mole in the U.S. House of Representatives. The former high-school teacher has already surprised many with his strong management skills and legislative acumen. This is a man who is interested in getting things done rather than hogging the klieg lights on television. A former wrestling coach, he's the quintessential team player. He reminds me of another son of Illinois -- Ronald Reagan.
Speaker is a must read for all of us, but hopefully President Bush will have a chance to turn its pages before his crucial speech at the Republican National Convention and the last leg of the 2004 campaign trail. The plain-speaking Midwesterner has some solid ideas for the Texan's second-term agenda.
-- Larry Kudlow, NRO's Economics Editor, is CEO of Kudlow & Co. and host with Jim Cramer of CNBC's Kudlow & Cramer.


Our Own Worst Enemy
Why scrap a program that identified nine of the 19 hijackers? Ask civil libertarians.

Thursday, August 5, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT
Even as the Bush administration warns of an imminent terror attack, it is again allowing the "rights" brigades to dictate the parameters of national defense. The administration just cancelled a passenger screening system designed to keep terrorists off planes, acceding to the demands of "privacy" advocates. The implications of this for airline safety are bad enough. But the program's demise also signals a return to a pre-9/11 mentality, when pressure from the rights lobbies trumped security common sense.
The now-defunct program, the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, or Capps II, sought to make sure that air passengers are flying under their own identity and are not wanted as a terror suspect. It would have asked passengers to provide four pieces of information--name, address, phone number and birth date--when they make their reservation. That information would've been run against commercial records, to see if it matches up, then checked against government intelligence files to determine whether a passenger has possible terror connections. Depending on the outcome of those two checks, a passenger could have been screened more closely at the airport, or perhaps--if government intelligence on him raised alarms--not allowed to board.
Privacy advocates on both the right and the left attacked Capps II from the moment it was announced. They called it an eruption of a police state, and envisioned a gallimaufry of bizarre hidden agendas--from a pretext for oppressing evangelical Christians and gun owners, to a blank check for discriminating against blacks.
Contrary to the rights lobby, Capps II was not:
* A privacy intrusion. Passengers already give their name, address and phone number to make a flight reservation, without the slightest fuss. Adding birth date hardly changes the privacy ledger: The government and the private sector have our birth dates on file now for social security and commercial credit, among numerous other functions. Far from jealously guarding their name and address, Americans dispense personal information about themselves with abandon, in order to enjoy a multitude of consumer conveniences. (Anyone with a computer can find out reams more about us than is even hinted at in the Capps II passenger records.)
* A surveillance system. Neither the government nor the airlines would have kept any of the information beyond the safe completion of a flight. The government would have had no access to the commercial records used to check a passenger's alleged identity; those would have remained with the commercial data providers contracted to provide identity verification.
* A data mining program. This misunderstood technology seeks to use computers to spot suspicious patterns or anomalies in large data bases, sometimes for predictive analysis. Capps II had nothing to do with data mining; it was simply a primitive two-step data query system.
The advocates' most effective strategy for killing off Capps II was to bludgeon airlines into not cooperating with its development. Northwest Airlines and Jet Blue were already facing billions of dollars in lawsuits for specious "privacy" violations, trumped up by the advocates in reprisal for those airlines' earlier cooperation with the war on terror. No other airline was willing to take on a similar risk and provide passenger data to stress-test Capps II. Without the capacity to be tested, Capps II was doomed.
The Department of Homeland Security has already shown itself a weakling in bureaucratic turf battles; its capitulation to the "privocrats" means it is all but toothless. It was just such a cave-in by the Clinton administration that eased the way for the 9/11 attacks. Under pressure from the Arab and rights lobbies, the Clintonites agreed in 1997 that passengers flagged as suspicious by the then-existing flight screening system would not be interviewed. Allowing security personnel to interview suspicious flyers, it was argued, would amount to racial and ethnic profiling. On 9/11, the predecessor to Capps II identified nine of the 19 hijackers as potentially dangerous, including all five terrorists aboard American Airlines Flight 77. But pursuant to the rights-dictated rules, the only consequence of that identification was that the hijackers' checked luggage was screened for hidden explosives. Had the killers themselves been interviewed, there is a significant chance that their plot would've been uncovered.
Since the demise of Capps II, the privocrats have tipped their hand: Their real agenda isn't privacy, but a crippling of all security measures. Leading advocate Edward Hasbrouck has decried both a voluntary "registered traveler" option, in which passengers agree to a background check in order to circumvent some security measures, and physical screening at the gate. Bottom line: Any security precautions prior to flight constitute a civil liberties violation. It is mystifying why the government should pay heed to people who so disregard the public good.
It is difficult to know where we go from here. There is no way to keep a terrorist from flying without first trying to determine who he is. Yet the most innocuous identity verification system prior to a flight is now seen as tantamount to illegal surveillance. With the rights advocates back in the saddle of national security, al Qaeda can blithely get on with its business.
Ms. Mac Donald is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute's City Journal.


Saigon on the Tigris?
John Kerry's Vietnam experience may be disastrous in Iraq
Michael Young
With all due respect to John Kerry's experiences in Vietnam (where, by his own reckoning in 1971, he committed "the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers"), has anyone really wondered what the moral of that failed venture might mean for a President Kerry in Iraq?
When it comes to Vietnam, it was John Paul Vann who embodied stubborn faith in the possibility of victory in a war most contemporaries considered a lost cause. His biography, A Bright Shining Lie, earned Neil Sheehan a Pulitzer Prize. Yet Sheehan wrote about Vann with the affection, and hard eye, one reserves for the quixotic. Kerry, in contrast, gave up on the whole affair early, and it's fair to wonder whether his faith in victory in Iraq will prove as short-lived.
Kerry would disagree. His campaign website links to a speech he gave last April at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri (where Winston Churchill first mentioned the "Iron Curtain"). In the address, Kerry argued: "[W]e can accomplish the mission. And we must... failure is not an option in Iraq. But it is also true that failure is not an excuse for more of the same." Kerry had Vietnam on his mind when he remarked in a different context: "If we are stuck for a long period of time in a quagmire where young Americans are dying without a sense of [not failing] being... achieved, I think most Americans will decide that's failure."
True enough, but where is Kerry's cutoff point? When would he determine that the U.S. is caught in an Iraqi quagmire? Most importantly, how would this affect his policy--assuming he wins in November--on U.S. troops in Iraq?
In his acceptance speech before the Democratic Party convention, Kerry apparently had February 28, 1968 in the back of his mind. That's when the American commander in Vietnam, Gen. William Westmoreland, requested an additional 206,000 troops from President Lyndon Johnson, as well as the mobilization of reserve units. A little less than a month afterwards, Johnson effectively rejected the request by agreeing only to a token increase in forces, putting an end to major American troop escalations in Vietnam.
For Kerry, and many others, Vietnam taught that just funneling more troops into a conflict is not necessarily a solution. That's probably why he had this to say at the convention: "I will build a stronger American military. We will add 40,000 active duty troops--not in Iraq (italics mine), but to strengthen American forces that are now overstretched, overextended, and under pressure... To all who serve in our armed forces today, I say, help is on the way."
Excellent news, except apparently for those in Iraq. Kerry showed rare consistency by stating a few days after the convention, in response to a query as to whether he would increase troop numbers: "I don't envision it." In fact, on several occasions in the past months he made similar statements. Last September, for example, he said that more soldiers "would be the worst thing. We do not want to have more Americanization. We do not want a greater sense of American occupation."
The only problem was that in December Kerry said just the opposite. He told NBC's Tim Russert: "We cannot fail. I've said that many times. And if it requires more troops in order to create the stability that eliminates the chaos, that can provide the groundwork for other countries, that's what you have to do." In a Washington Post op-ed piece on July 4, posted on his website, he wrote: "We know that a chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Eric Shinseki, was right when he argued that more troops would be needed to establish security and win the peace in the weeks and months after Saddam Hussein's fall."
So, what exactly is Kerry carrying on about? He would increase troop levels by some 40,000, but has said they would not go to Iraq, where, he has repeatedly implied, U.S. forces are overstretched, overextended and under pressure. (Barring soldiers from an American theater of operations must be a military first.) But then again, we're not quite sure what Kerry intends to do in Iraq; in fact, we're not sure whether he even has a transition strategy there, or how American force structures would fit in with political developments.
That's because Kerry almost never speaks of the Iraqis as Iraqis. His denunciation of "Americanization" in Iraq harks back to the Johnson- and Nixon-era policy of "Vietnamization"--which was essentially an effort to place the burden of war on South Vietnam, so the U.S. could quietly head for the exits. If Kerry's goal is gradual "Iraqization", he's not wrong (and finds himself in bed with not a few influential neoconservatives). But shouldn't that mean the U.S. must leave something durable behind in Baghdad, so as not to replicate the debacle of April 30, 1975, when the American order in South Vietnam collapsed ignominiously?
It was remarkable that in his acceptance speech, Kerry mentioned not once what he intended for the Iraqis. Absent, too, was any mention of democracy in the Middle East. Why should a U.S. presidential candidate even bother with this? Because, as 9/11 showed, it has implications for American security. Kerry has largely avoided linking terrorism to political realities in the Middle East. That would mean addressing the neoconservative critique that only by democratizing the region and removing autocratic regimes whose stifling policies have helped generate Islamist violence can the U.S. guarantee its own long-term security.
Kerry needn't agree with the neocon hypothesis, but he must find a justifiable alternative to explain why the U.S. cannot fail in Iraq. The thing is that Kerry sees Iraq as little more than a headache that must be swiftly resolved. The broader implications of the invasion for U.S. national security and for a transformation of the Middle East are almost nonexistent in his campaigning. It may be a Kerry rarity, but he actually seems to mean it when he says that the goal in Iraq is "to get the job done and bring our troops home."
However, that begs the question: If Iraq serves no significant or enduring American objective; if the priority is solely to bring about stability (with the help of allies, Kerry insists, in a plan peddled as a silver bullet) to get out, then isn't that a pretty low threshold to validate remaining in the country if American casualties continue rising? As in Vietnam, a Kerry administration might soon conclude that a pullout short of success might, in fact, not be that damaging to U.S. interests.
Kerry is deluding himself if he thinks the solution in Iraq is bringing in allied soldiers so the U.S. can shrink its presence. No one, whether in Europe or the Arab world, wants to be cannon fodder for John Kerry. Worse, as they contemplate Kerry's absence of ambition in Iraq, as they try to decipher his contradictory statements on U.S. military policy there, as they ponder that his staying power in Iraq may be limited, and as they search for something substantive on the Middle East in his acceptance speech, the allies must be thinking that this is the guy who may turn Baghdad into Saigon, circa April 30, 1975.

Reason contributing editor Michael Young is opinion editor at the Daily Star newspaper in Beirut.
John Kerry's Monstrous Record on Civil Liberties

The Man from Beacon Hill's "New War" on the Constitution
John Berlau
For John Kerry, the specter of Attorney General John Ashcroft trashing Americans' civil liberties has been a useful campaign prop. In campaign stops, Kerry has promised to "end the era of John Ashcroft and renew our faith in the Constitution." In a Kerry administration, he promised the liberal group MoveOn in June 2003, "there will be no John Ashcroft trampling on the Bill of Rights." In his 2004 campaign book, A Call to Service, Kerry accuses Ashcroft and the Bush administration of "relying far too much on extraordinary police powers."
In contrast, Kerry positions himself as a civil libertarian--or at least as a proponent of a reasonable balance between liberty and security. "If we are to stand as the world's role model for freedom, we need to remain vigilant about our own civil liberties," Kerry writes in A Call to Service. He calls for "rededicating ourselves to protecting civil liberties."
Kerry, like every other senator in the chamber except Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), voted for the USA PATRIOT Act in the wake of 9/11. Now he is now co-sponsoring the SAFE Act, a bipartisan measure that restricts some of the powers that the PATRIOT Act granted the government. Furthermore, he is critical of the package of proposals from Ashcroft's Department of Justice (DOJ) that has been dubbed Patriot II. Citing his experience as a prosecutor--he was an assistant district attorney in suburban Boston in the '70s--Kerry writes, "I know there's a big difference between giving the government the resources and commonsense leeway it needs to track a tough and devious foe and giving in to the temptation of taking shortcuts that will sacrifice liberties cheaply without significantly enhancing the effectiveness of law enforcement. Patriot II threatens to cross that line--and to a serious degree."
This isn't the first time Kerry and Ashcroft have been at odds over civil liberties. In the 1990s, government proposals to restrict encryption inspired a national debate. Then as now, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and electronic privacy groups locked horns with the DOJ and law enforcement agencies. Then as now, Kerry and Ashcroft were on opposite sides.
But there was noteworthy difference in those days. Then it was Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.) who argued alongside the ACLU in favor of the individual's right to encrypt messages and export encryption software. Ashcroft "was kind of the go-to guy for all of us on the Republican side of the Senate," recalls David Sobel, general counsel of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
And in what now seems like a bizarre parallel universe, it was John Kerry who was on the side of the FBI, the National Security Agency, and the DOJ. Ashcroft's predecessor at the Justice Department, Janet Reno, wanted to force companies to create a "clipper chip" for the government--a chip that could "unlock" the encryption codes individuals use to keep their messages private. When that wouldn't fly in Congress, the DOJ pushed for a "key escrow" system in which a third-party agency would have a "backdoor" key to read encrypted messages.
In the meantime, the Clinton administration classified virtually all encryption devices as "munitions" that were banned from export, putting American business at a disadvantage. In 1997 Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain pushed the Secure Public Networks Act through his committee. This bill would have codified the administration's export ban and started a key escrow system. One of his original co-sponsors was his fellow Vietnam vet and good friend from across the aisle, John Kerry.
Proponents such as McCain and Kerry claimed that law enforcement could not get the key from any third-party agency without a court order. Critics responded that there were loopholes in the law, that it opened the door to abuses, and that it punished a technology rather than wrongdoers who used that technology. Some opponents argued that the idea was equivalent to giving the government an electronic key to everyone's home. "To date, we have heard a great deal about the needs of law enforcement and not enough about the privacy needs of the rest of us," said then-Sen. Ashcroft in a 1997 speech to the Computer and Communications Industry Association. "While we need to revise our laws to reflect the digital age, one thing that does not need revision is the Fourth Amendment... Now, more than ever, we must protect citizens' privacy from the excesses of an arrogant, overly powerful government."
But John Kerry would have none of this. He had just written The New War, a book about the threat of transnational criminal organizations, and he was singing a different tune on civil liberties. Responding directly to a column in Wired on encryption that said "trusting the government with your privacy is like having a Peeping Tom install your window blinds," Kerry invoked the Americans killed in 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. "[O]ne would be hard-pressed," he wrote, "to find a single grieving relative of those killed in the bombings of the World Trade Center in New York or the federal building in Oklahoma City who would not have gladly sacrificed a measure of personal privacy if it could have saved a loved one." Change a few words, and the passage could easily fit into Attorney General Ashcroft's infamous speech to the Senate Judiciary Committee in late 2001--the one where he declared, "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberties, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists--for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve."
If Ashcroft was encryption advocates' go-to guy on the GOP side in the encryption debate, Kerry played that role for law enforcement among the Democrats. "John Kerry was always a pretty strong proponent of law enforcement and the military, and the NSA was not terribly crypto-friendly, and the FBI was extremely uncrypto-friendly," says Will Rodger, who covered the encryption debate for USA Today and is now public policy director at the Computer and Communications Industry Association. "John Kerry's support for limiting encryption wasn't a real shock to most people who had followed his voting record."
Eventually, the strength of the business and civil liberties opposition--plus the sheer impossibility of keeping up with encryption technology--led the Clinton administration and Kerry to accept relaxed encryption controls. Today it seems laughable that software would ever have been labeled as "munitions"; even Ashcroft's DOJ did not try to include a key escrow system in the PATRIOT Act.
"Get Their Ass and Get Their Assets"
The Bush administration is not likely to point out Kerry's position in favor of encryption control, because it is trying to paint him as soft on crime and terrorism. Kerry does hold many traditionally liberal views on crime, including a consistent opposition to the death penalty. But encryption was just one of many issues in Kerry's Senate career where he and civil libertarians were on opposite sides. And while Kerry is in some respects singing a different tune today on civil liberties, he has never walked away from his statements in The New War. In fact, he displays the book in an ad that began running in late June as evidence that he authored an antiterrorism strategy way back in the late '90s.
Although the encryption fight appears to be over, similar battles are being fought today. For instance, as with encryption, the FBI now wants preemptive design mandates so it can have an automatic mechanism to tap into Voice over Internet Protocol, the fledgling technology that allows people to make phone calls online. Once again, law enforcement wants tech firms to build a "back door" for the police. Wayne Crews, director of technology studies at the pro-market Competitive Enterprise Institute, notes that Kerry has been silent on the FBI's efforts. "The only thing I've heard from Kerry on technology regulation is continued investment from the federal government," Crews says.
This isn't the only issue that could be worrisome for civil libertarians, given Kerry's record in the '90s. In general, whenever the ACLU was aligned with business interests, Kerry took the side of law enforcement against what he called "big money."
An example is the fight over asset forfeiture. In the 1980s war on drugs, the laws were stretched so that property that had been used for criminal purposes could be seized by law enforcement even if the owner of that property was innocent. If a drug dealer rode in your car or your airplane, for example, it was subject to seizure, and you would have to sue to get it back by proving you had no knowledge that a dealer had used it for illicit purposes. This was the case even if you had never been charged with any crime. The resale of impounded property became a source of revenue--and corruption--for local police departments. Even in cases where there were actual criminal convictions, governments would often seize assets that were not related to the crime or to compensating victims.
In the mid-1990s, a bipartisan movement arose to reform the forfeiture laws, with conservative Republican Reps. Henry Hyde of Illinois and Bob Barr of Georgia joining with such liberal Democrats as Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Barney Frank of Massachusetts. They wanted to increase the burden of proof on the government when it seized property. As with encryption, there was stiff opposition to reform from Janet Reno's Justice Department.
What was Kerry's position? He thought U.S. asset forfeiture laws were working so well that he wanted to export them. "We absolutely must push for asset forfeiture laws all over the planet," Kerry wrote in The New War. "In the words of one plainspoken lawman, 'Get their ass and get their assets.'" There was, tellingly, no discussion at all of civil liberties issues.
Kerry added that we can't reasonably expect another country "to assist us in our struggle with crime if it does not see direct benefit for itself, especially if it is among the countries with highly limited funds for law enforcement." It didn't seem to occur to Kerry that, without safeguards, countries "with highly limited funds" might go after the assets of innocent people or third parties with only a tangential relationship to the criminal. Indeed, the only "dark and dangerous underside" of international forfeiture he identified was the possibility that criminals would give up assets in exchange for avoiding jail sentences. "We must ensure that asset forfeitures do not become a substitute for serving time," he wrote. (In 2000, after being watered down by the Reno Justice Department, the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act passed the Senate by a voice vote and was signed into law by Clinton. Kerry did not object on the Senate floor; neither did Sen. Ashcroft.)
Even a semi-sympathetic review in the liberal Washington Monthly called The New War "a kind of international edition of Reefer Madness," referring to the notoriously overwrought anti-drug movie of the 1930s. Kerry is a drug warrior, and after having discovered some genuine instances of bad guys' stashing their money at the $23 billion Bank of Credit and Commerce International, an international financial institution that was shut down in 1991 by various countries' bank regulators, he became a crusader against banks holding "dirty money." (BCCI had dealings with drug lords, Saddam Hussein, the PLO, and the KGB.) While it may be too much to ask a major-party presidential candidate to ponder drug prohibition's contribution to dirty money, Kerry's solution to money laundering was--and is--to deputize banks and force them to spy on all their customers.
Many on the left and right worried about overreach from the federal "Know Your Customer" regulations of 1997-98, which would have required banks to monitor every customer's "normal and expected transactions." Those proposed rules were eventually withdrawn after the ACLU, the Libertarian Party, and other groups generated more than 100,000 comments in opposition. But from his writings and statements, John Kerry seemed worried that the regulations did not go far enough. "If the standards by which banks accept money were lived up to with the same diligence as that by which most banks lend money, the 'know your customer' maxim would have teeth," he wrote in The New War. "But too many bankers pretend they are doing all they can to know what money crosses their threshold and pretend they are not as key as they are to law-enforcement efforts."
Kerry then expressed his belief that bank customers are entitled to essentially zero privacy. "The technology is already available to monitor all electronic money transfers," he wrote (emphasis added). "We need the will to make sure it is put in place."
Has a politician who seven years ago proposed all electronic transfers be monitored changed his views on civil liberties? Officials from Kerry's Senate office and presidential campaign promised to have someone answer questions about his civil liberties positions, but no one ever had. A close look at his campaign's statements on the PATRIOT Act, however, reveals that there is less to his opposition than meets the eye.
As noted above, Kerry is cosponsoring the SAFE Act, which would limit the circumstances under which "sneak- and-peek" warrants can be issued under the PATRIOT Act. (PATRIOT broadened the government's power to conduct such searches, in which the person whose property is examined is not notified.) It also put more brakes on PATRIOT provisions that give the FBI the power to search records on individuals held by third parties--such as libraries, bookstores, and Internet service providers--and the power to require the third parties to keep silent about the search. But Kerry signed onto the SAFE Act only after his right flank was protected; the bill's original co-sponsors included conservative Sens. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) as well as Feingold. More tellingly, Kerry's support is premised on what he calls Ashcroft's abuses of the PATRIOT Act, not on PATRIOT itself. "John Kerry stands by his vote for the Patriot Act," says a March 11 campaign statement. "You can sum up the problems with the Patriot Act in two words: John Ashcroft... The real problem with the Patriot Act is not the law, but the abuse of the law."
In fact, the "real problem" is the law's provisions, which would be troubling in any administration. Responding to Kerry's statement, Gregory T. Nojeim, associate director of the ACLU's Washington National Office, says, "People from the left to the right agree that John Ashcroft is no civil liberties angel, but the problems of sneak-and-peek warrants and an overbroad notion of what constitutes terrorism are dangerous in the hands of any attorney general." Nojeim observes that the definition of terrorism is so broad that it could cover groups practicing civil disobedience, such as the anti-abortion Operation Rescue.
Meanwhile, Kerry continues to support intrusive efforts to stamp out money laundering. His campaign statement points out that Kerry "authored most of the money laundering provisions" in PATRIOT. Those provisions were largely based on an old money laundering bill that Kerry had introduced and which was opposed by economic conservatives and the ACLU. Kerry and other Democrats insisted that the money laundering provisions be attached to the PATRIOT Act. An October 2001 Associated Press article quoted Kerry as accusing Republicans of trying to remove the provisions "by fiat." The article noted that Kerry "underlined the political influence of Texas bankers."
The money laundering provisions, which became Title III of the PATRIOT Act, are some of the most privacy-threatening aspects of the bill. (See "Show Us Your Money," November 2003.) They go beyond the "Know Your Customer" rules of the late 1990s, bringing real estate brokers, travel agents, auto dealers, and various other businesses under the rubric of "financial institutions" that must monitor their customers and file "suspicious activity reports" on deviations from customers' normal patterns.
It was the Title III money laundering provisions that the FBI used in the much-criticized Operation G-String, an investigation of a strip club owner in Las Vegas accused of bribing local officials. The case had nothing to do with terrorism. Tellingly, Kerry--whose provisions allowed it to happen--has not cited this operation as one of Ashcroft's abuses, even though other Democrats have.
We have been told repeatedly that the world has changed since 9/11. Indeed, that is the explanation many have offered for Ashcroft's change of heart on civil liberties. But what about a candidate who, well before 9/11, consistently advocated measures that would have eroded those liberties? Would he be more or less constrained in the middle of a war on terror? To raise the issue is to take Kerry's own advice from his new book--that we "remain vigilant about our own civil liberties."
John Berlau is a writer for Insight magazine.

Slaughters Animals, Burns Down Tiny Village

A veterans group seeking to deeply discredit Democrat John Kerry's military service will charge in the new bombshell book UNFIT FOR COMMAND:
"Kerry earned his Silver Star by killing a lone, fleeing, teenage Viet Cong in a loincloth."
"And if Kerry's superiors had known the truth at the time, they would never have recommended him for the medal."
The book also claims to detail how Kerry personally ordered the slaughter of small animals at a small hamlet along the Song Bo De River.
The book, set for release next week, hit #1 on the AMAZON hitparade after the DRUDGE REPORT revealed details of the book -- a book the Kerry camapign believes is the"the dirtiest of all dirty tricks ever played on a candidate for the presidency."
The Kerry campaign is planning to vigorously counter the charges and will accuse the veteran's groups of being well-financed by a top Bush donor from Texas.
The vets have launched a blistering new TV commercial questioning Kerry's honor and calling him a liar.
George Bates, an officer in Coastal Division 11, participated in numerous operations with Kerry. In UNFIT FOR COMMAND, Bates recalls a particular patrol with Kerry on the Song Bo De River. He is still "haunted" by the incident:
With Kerry in the lead, the boats approached a small hamlet with three or four grass huts. Pigs and chickens were milling around peacefully. As the boats drew closer, the villagers fled. There were no political symbols or flags in evidence in the tiny village. It was obvious to Bates that existing policies, decency, and good sense required the boats to simply move on.
Instead, Kerry beached his boat directly in the small settlement. Upon his command, the numerous small animals were slaughtered by heavy-caliber machine guns. Acting more like a pirate than a naval officer, Kerry disembarked and ran around with a Zippo lighter, burning up the entire hamlet.
Bates has never forgotten Kerry's actions.
UNFIT FOR COMMAND, DRUDGE has learned, claims Kerry "earned his Silver Star by killing a lone, fleeing, teenage Viet Cong in a loincloth."
"They hired a goddamn private investigator to dig up trash!" charged a top Kerry adviser traveling with the senator late Tuesday. "This is pay for play... How low can they go?"
Kerry supporters are comparing the effort by the veterans to the Arkansas State troopers tell-all against Bill Clinton.
John O'Neill, co-author of UNFIT FOR COMMAND, believes that "Kerry's Star would never have been awarded had his actions been reviewed through normal channels. In his case, he was awarded the medal two days after the incident with no review. The medal was arranged to boost the morale of Coastal Division 11, but it was based on false and incomplete information provided by Kerry himself."
According to Kerry's Silver Star citation, Kerry was in command of a three-boat mission on the Dong Cung River. As the boats approached the target area, they came under intense enemy fire. Kerry ordered his boat to attack and all boats opened fire. He then beached directly in front of the enemy ambushers. In the battle that followed, the crews captured enemy weapons. His boat then moved further up the river to suppress more enemy fire. A rocket exploded near Kerry's boat, and he ordered to charge the enemy. Kerry beached his boat 10 feet from the rocket position and led a landing party ashore to pursue the enemy.
Kerry' citation reads: "The extraordinary daring and personal courage of Lt. Kerry in attacking a numerically superior force in the face of intense fire were responsible for the highly successful mission."
Here's what O'Neill and the Swiftees say: "According to Kerry's crewman Michael Madeiros, Kerry had an agreement with him to turn the boat in and onto the beach if fired upon. Each of the three boats involved in the operation was involved in the agreement." O'Neill writes that one crewman even recalls a discussion of probable medals.
Doug Reese, a pro Kerry Army veteran, recounted what happened that day to O'Neill, "Far from being alone, the boats were loaded with many soldiers commanded by Reese and two other advisors. When fired at, Reese's boat--not Kerry's--was the first to beach in the ambush zone. Then Reese and other troops and advisors (not Kerry) disembarked, killing a number of Viet Cong and capturing a number of weapons. None of the participants from Reese's boat received Silver Stars.
O'Neill continues: "Kerry's boat moved slightly downstream and was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. . . .A young Viet Cong in a loincloth popped out of a hole, clutching a grenade launcher, which may or may not have been loaded. . . Tom Belodeau, a forward gunner, shot the Viet Cong with an M-60 machine gun in the leg as he fled. . . . Kerry and Medeiros (who had many troops in their boat) took off, perhaps with others, and followed the young Viet Cong and shot him in the back, behind a lean to."
O'Neill concludes "Whether Kerry's dispatching of a fleeing, wounded, armed or unarmed teenage enemy was in accordance with the customs of war, it is very clear that many Vietnam veterans and most Swiftees do not consider this action to be the stuff of which medals of any kind are awarded; nor would it even be a good story if told in the cold details of reality. There is no indication that Kerry ever reported that the Viet Cong was wounded and fleeing when dispatched. Likewise, the citation simply ignores the presence of the soldiers and advisors who actually 'captured the enemy weapons' and routed the Viet Cong. . . . [and] that Kerry attacked a 'numerically superior force in the face of intense fire' is simply false. There was little or no fire after Kerry followed the plan. . . . The lone, wounded, fleeing young Viet Cong in a loincloth was hardly a force superior to the heavily armed Swift Boat and its crew and the soldiers carried aboard."
DRUDGE learns from UNFIT FOR COMMAND that if Kerry's superior officers knew the truth, they would never have recommended the award:
"Admiral Roy Hoffmann, who sent a Bravo Zulu (meaning "good work"), to Kerry upon learning of the incident, was very surprised to discover in 2004 what had actually occurred. Hoffmann had been told that Kerry had spontaneously beached next to the bunker and almost single-handedly routed a bunkered force in Viet Cong. He was shocked to find out that Kerry had beached his boat second in a preplanned operation, and that he had killed a single, wounded teenage foe as he fled."
"Commander Geoge Elliott, who wrote up the initial draft of Kerry's Silver Star citation, confirms that neither he, nor anyone else in the Silver Star process that he knows, realized before 1996 that Kerry was facing a single, wounded young Viet Cong fleeing in a loincloth. While Commander Elliott and many other Swiftees believe that Kerry committed no crime in killing the fleeing, wounded enemy (with a loaded or empty launcher), others feel differently. Commander Elliott indicates that a Silver Star recommendation would not have been made by him had he been aware of the actual facts."

Filed By Matt Drudge
Reports are moved when circumstances warrant for updates
Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Prickly, paranoid and occasionally pragmatic

Aug 5th 2004
From The Economist print edition
Why is it so hard for Arabs to act together to solve the region's manifold problems, from the humanitarian crisis in Sudan to the turmoil in Iraq and Palestine?
SUSPICION of America runs deep in the Arab world. At a Cairo dinner party this week, a sophisticated Egyptian businessman asks why there is so much noise about the humanitarian crisis in western Sudan. "What is it America wants from Darfur? Is there oil there? Uranium?" On the al-Jazeera satellite TV channel, the Arab world's most popular, an Iraqi commentator suggests that America was behind last week's bombings of Iraqi churches "because they want to taint the noble Iraqi resistance with the crime and create chaos to continue the occupation."
Whether such views are paranoid or, perhaps, cynically savvy, they carry influence. Many Arab governments would sincerely like to help heal festering regional sores such as the mayhem in Iraq and the misery in Palestine and Darfur. Not only would this reduce the risk of infection, it would also improve the strained relations with the superpower. But popular distrust of western, and particularly American, motives keeps getting in the way.
Take the case of Iraq. After meetings last week with Colin Powell, the American secretary of state, and with Iyad Allawi, the Iraqi prime minister, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, suggested that several Arab and Muslim countries were prepared to send an armed force to help police Iraq. By lending Islamic legitimacy to Iraq's transitional government, such a move could do much to quell the lingering hostility to it, both within Iraq and the surrounding region. This would please the beleaguered Mr Allawi and the equally beleaguered American-led coalition backing him. Government sources in Baghdad were quick to announce that six predominantly Muslim countries (Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tunisia and Yemen) had agreed to send troops, with Egypt offering technical support and oil-rich Gulf states some $2 billion to pay for the operation.
Yet scarcely was Mr Powell's plane out of Saudi skies before the caveats blew in. The Islamic force was meant to replace the current coalition, not complement it, elaborated Prince Saud, and even then only at the express request of an Iraqi government that had "the full and clear support of the Iraqi people". Rushing to Saudi Arabia with more cold water, Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, said that it was simply "not possible" for Arab or Muslim intervention forces to operate under anything but a United Nations command. Yemen flatly denied that it had any intention of sending soldiers to Iraq.
To find reasons for the hasty retreat, look no further than the opinion pages in the Arab press. The troops offer was not really Saudi, said the popular London-based daily, Al-Quds al-Arabi, "but rather American orders clothed in Saudi garb so as to be more acceptable to other Muslim and Arab countries who are keen to please the American administration and fend off its official pressure to introduce reforms". Talal Salman, editor of the Beirut daily, Al-Safir, commented acidly: "Washington has discovered that there are `unemployed' Arab armies that have no duties, save to subdue Arab masses, and that those Arab armies could be employed in saving the United States from the Iraqi quagmire."
The Arab response to the Darfur crisis has been similarly fork-tongued. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have dispatched planeloads of aid to the stricken region but also lobbied to ensure that the UN Security Council refrained from threatening sanctions against the Sudanese regime, which is largely responsible for creating the mess. Sudan's Arab neighbours do have an interest in supporting the government in Khartoum. They do not want Iraq-style chaos next door that could ensue if it falls. But they are also exposed to public pressure to prevent another western intrusion into Arab land.
Sudan's interior minister, General Abd al-Rahim Hussein, accuses America of fomenting unrest in Darfur "just as in Afghanistan and Iraq". Another minister suggests America is acting under "Zionist pressure" to intervene. Such views echo widely. The West, insists Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, is exaggerating the humanitarian crisis to find a pretext for invasion. A commentator in Syria's state-owned daily, Al-Thawra, says that while America sheds "crocodile tears", its real plan is to "swallow" another chunk of Arab real estate.
Peace-minded Arab governments have been similarly hamstrung over recent travails in Palestine. Egypt and Jordan, both American allies with strong ties to the Palestinians, have long since quietly concluded that Yasser Arafat has become an obstacle to progress. But Israel's impounding of the Palestinian leader, along with America's support for this and other harsh policies, has made it harder for his old friends publicly to tell him to step aside. This week Jordan's King Abdullah got embroiled in rows among fellow Arabs after accusing the Palestinians' leadership of being weak and divided.
Egypt as middleman
This is not to say that Arab governments have always failed to help resolve such problems, when they can do so discreetly. Egypt is again hosting a round of closed talks to patch up bitter disagreements between Palestinian factions, and has committed itself to helping secure Gaza in the event of an Israeli withdrawal. It has supported France's deployment of troops along the Chad-Sudan border, and itself sent advisers to join the small Darfur monitoring force run by the African Union. The Arab League has also taken a belated interest in Darfur, scheduling an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss the issue. Libya has helped speed relief supplies to the region and now appears to have agreed to sponsor peace talks between the Darfur rebels and the Sudanese government.
Fellow Arabs have also grown more solicitous for the welfare of Iraq. The increasingly indiscriminate savagery of the Iraqi insurgents and their increasingly radical Islamist overtones appear to have persuaded many non-Iraqi Arabs of the need to tame them. However faint-hearted, the Saudi troops initiative was a sign of this new urgency. Mr Allawi also got a warm reception during a recent tour of eight Arab capitals. Kuwait and Iraq have ended a 14-year hiatus in diplomatic relations. Even Syria, which has long been accused of turning a blind eye to the infiltration of jihadis from its territory, has promised to seal its borders better, and perhaps even to expand the capacity of pipelines taking Iraqi oil to its Mediterranean ports.
Obviously, all the region's problems could be dealt with more effectively if there were more trust in the atmosphere. And what would it take to create it? More western sensitivity to Arab concerns and a less blinkered Arab prickliness about the sacredness of sovereignty in countries with vicious regimes--and about the nobility of "resistance" to any government that is friendly to the United States.
Copyright ? 2004 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

U.S., Iraqi forces in major move to secure Syrian border
Wednesday, August 4, 2004
BAGHDAD - The U.S. military, backed by Iraqi forces, has launched its first major operation along the border with Syria.
U.S. officials said Operation Phantom Linebacker has mobilized thousands of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers as well as armored combat vehicles, unmanned air vehicles and helicopters in an effort to stem the flow of insurgents, funds and weapons from Syria into Iraq.
The officials said the operation came in wake of a determination that the Sunni insurgency, including support for Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi, was coming mainly from Saddam Hussein loyalists who have fled to Syria.
The operation began on Aug. 2 and included the Iraqi Border Police and Iraqi National Guard, Middle East Newsline reported.
"Our first priority will be on the Syrian border," Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said, "because we think that's where the former regime leadership and money went, in that direction, and it's coming back in from that direction."
Officials said the operation was the largest by the United States to stop weapons from Syria. Earlier missions involved mainly fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft in pursuit of Sunni insurgents along the more than 500 kilometer Iraqi-Syrian border.
The U.S. Army has not announced Operation Phantom Linebacker. But the military said two marines died in fighting in the Anbar province during "security and stability operations" along the Syrian border. No other details were provided.
Officials said Syrian officials have provided passports and official documents to Sunni insurgents in exchange for hefty bribes. They said the insurgents have also bribed Iraqi security forces deployed along the border.
Operation Phantom Linebacker, which has included the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, has also deployed UAVs as well as U.S. satellites to track the insurgency route. Officials said the first line of operations was being conducted by Iraqi security forces, with U.S. troops providing intelligence and support.
The U.S.-led operation came in wake of several warnings by Baghdad to both Iran and Syria to stem the flow of fighters, weapons and funding to the insurgency in Iraq. Senior Iraqi officials have been more critical of Iran than Syria, accusing the latter of seeking to undermine the new interim government in Baghdad.
On Wednesday, an Iraqi government delegation discussed border security cooperation with Iran. The delegation was said to have been in Teheran for a week and discussed border security and Iranian interference in Iraq.
Officials said the current operation along the Syrian border could press Iran to launch measures to stem the flow of insurgents into Iraq.
They said Saddam loyalists have established a network in Syria to train and fund insurgents to fight the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi government. The loyalists were said to have fueled the insurgency in such Sunni Triangle cities as Faluja, Ramadi and Samara.
In July, Iraq and Syria signed an agreement for border security. But even as the agreement was announced Iraqi officials expressed doubt whether the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad would honor the accord.

Copyright ? 2004 East West Services, Inc.

Projecting western logic on the Beijing regime
By Sol Sanders
August 4, 2004
In the late James Jesus Angleton's "wilderness of mirrors" - geopolitical intelligence - nothing is so tempting but fraught with what Cold War Warriors used to call mirror-imaging than projecting your own logic and motivations. Nor is there a more likely object for such misperception than the Beijing regime.
In a world of logic, China would have fairly clear goals. Economic development for the world's largest and one of the poorest populations. Preserving markets and technological transfer from the U.S. - the largest role in recent rapid development of littoral China. Access for increasing raw materials. Contributing to an environment of international collaboration - at least until Beijing commands real world power. A gradual liberalization of internal controls- if for not other reason than to permit rational economic decision-making.
But that is our logic. Is it the Chinese leaders'?
The continuing problem in trying to answer, of course,is the lack of transparency. That not only includes government but the rigidly controlled media and divining so-called nonofficial spokesmen. If it were not difficult enough, analysis now must include growing competition among China's three principle leaders and their claques. In summer 2004, an additional hazard is whether - like so many inside and outside the U.S. - Beijing is waiting for the November U.S. political decision. Or whether they might indeed believe [from their orthodox Marxist past] there is inevitability about American policy.
The world does not stand still for the American elections, however. Nor has Chinese leadership been able to stop taking positions in the maelstrom of world events.
North Korea: Beijing professes to want a nuclear weapons free peninsula. It convoked the interested parties, a gesture to U.S. policy to avoid bilateral negotiations with Pyongyang. Yet China has simply endorsed Pyongyang's positions. Furthermore, China's continued support of North Korea's economy permits Pyongyang to refuse compromise. That includes American offers of aid for if the bankrupt regime submits to verifiable destruction of its nuclear weapons.
Taiwan: A public rebuke by President Bush for Taiwan's President Chen seems only to have encouraged a harder line by Beijing. It continues to tweak its military buildup toward Taiwan - expensive purchases of Russian aircraft [rather the longer route of domestic development] and a continuing missiles buildup. Yet, the huge Taiwan investment in China and accompanying technical transfer is integral to the relationship. Granted Taiwan may constitute a "domestic" issue for Beijing [its hint of provincial autonomy], the growing economic relationship would be portent of a closer relationship achieved peacefully. The threat of force may eventually intimidate the Taiwanese [and even Washington]. But the evidence so far is the exact opposite effect in Taiwan and aggravation of U.S.-China relations.
Hong Kong: Reversing the policy of keeping the Chinese military garrison in the closet with a show of strength for Army Day July 31 was a clumsy attempt to intimidate the democrats. Rather than permit modification of his stumbling administration, Beijing has endorsed the failed tactics of Governor Tung. Again, perhaps repression will be effective. But it risks eroding a regime of law and minimum corruption from which China has long profited. Surely it suggested itself as a model for growing complexity in the Mainland political-economy. Perhaps destroying the identity of Hong Kong is seen as necessary in Beijing, but it risks killing the goose that still plays a powerful role in China's economic wellbeing.
Oil: With her crude imports climbing more than 20 percent and refined product 40 percent this year, China has been scurrying around looking to tie down new sources. That has included President Hu visiting otherwise insignificant African states. But Beijing has thrown its weight against U.S. efforts to step up security in the Straits of Malacca, the chokepoint through which most of China's imports flow. [And party hacks descended on Singapore for its increasingly close relations with Washington -- and a recent visit by its prime minister-designate to Taiwan.]
Human Rights: Not only has Beijing refused to make any amends for Tiananman - demanded by some of the regime's most loyal adherents - but its crackdowns on the Internet, haphazardly at minor critics, repression of religious groups, and helter-skelter media repression, is a crazy quilt of repression. How to halt the increasing corruption - some like the Bank of China in the highest places - threatening to twist economic development out of shape? How to ameliorate growing peasant and worker protests, some of them to the streets of Beijing, despite draconian controls? The argument most Chinese simply want stability at any cost notwithstanding, can any society remain stable without safety valves for conflict and dissent?
Those are only some of the contradictions.
How much is this confusion in the ranks of a lackluster leadership increasingly beset with myriad problems? How much is it feuding leaders in search of issues to hammer each other? And how much is it a conviction among paranoid Chinese Communist leadership that its real priority is to meet attack in a hostile world?
Sol W. Sanders, (, is an Asian specialist with more than 25 years in the region, and a former correspondent for Business Week, U.S. News & World Report and United Press International. He writes weekly for World

Deng's daughter joins struggle for Chinese reform
By Wang Chu

HONG KONG - With less than two months before what is expected to be a transformative session of the Chinese Communist Party Congress, the struggle for power is intensifying - and the daughter of Deng Xiaoping, the revered father of economic reform, is weighing in on the side of the economic and political reformers. Her message: When Daddy retired, he bowed out and stayed out of politics. By implication, former president Jiang Zemin should do the same.
In one corner of the ring is reformist President Hu Jintao and his ally Premier Wen Jiabao, urging major economic reforms to slow the overheated economy and radical reforms of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) itself, making it more accountable, democratic and transparent. In the other corner is China's "phantom regent," former president Jiang, who clings to power at the age of 78. He is chairman of the CCP's powerful Central Military Commission - the commander in chief. He and his so-called "Shanghai Clique" especially oppose the political reforms that would deprive them of influence.
The party congress will be held in September, but the date has not been announced; many observers expect it to be late in the month.
Deng Lin, the oldest daughter of the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, shared her memories of her father (who died in 1997) in an interview on state-run China Central Television (CCTV) on July 28. Deng was considered the ultimate pragmatist and economic reformer, responsible for China's opening up. "He often had breakfast at 8am and processed documents at 9am. In the early days after retirement, he read only a few of the stacks of documents, and he simply quit it later on. I see that he was sincerely willing to be a man in the street," bowing out of politics, she recalled. Deng Lin has been a successful painter, at one time selling her work to billionaires in Hong Kong.
Deng Lin apparently cited her father in retirement as an example to suggest that other retired leaders should not interfere with the new administration of younger officials. "For another thing, when [my father] handed over the job, he put his trust in the successors and let them grow by working on their own. He believed they would not make progress if there was intervention. That's why I insist that he's right in many ways," she said.
These words may have embarrassed the "regent" Jiang Zemin, who left the office of the CCP general secretary and the Chinese president last year but retained command of the armed forces as head of the military commission. On July 26, Jiang met with representatives of the troops and made a public address that was generally interpreted as endorsing his protege - Shanghai CCP chief Chen Liangyu, who lashed out at the macro-control policy implemented by Premier Wen and President Hu. The macro-controls call for limiting investment in key overheated sectors such as steel, cement and real estate.
For a long time, Jiang has been seeking recognition of his robust health in a bid to maintain his influence. On July 8, he greeted US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice by saying, "You look younger." Perhaps he was expecting a reciprocal "And so do you" from Rice, but she said nothing of the sort. In July 2003 when meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Jaing said: "They say I'm still young."
Besides Deng Lin, Beijing Mayor Wang Qishan is also believed to be joining the Hu-Wen camp. Recently, Wang demanded that the city host a frugal Olympics in 2008, and enacted seven revolutionary regulations to rectify the super-heated construction industry. While most fence-sitters are still vacillating between the reformists and the conservatives, some important figures clearly have already chosen sides.
Jiang's relations with Deng family strained
August 22 will mark the birth centennial of Deng Xiaoping, and large-scale commemorations have been scheduled in Beijing. Some already have gotten under way, almost four weeks before his birthdate. Political observers regard such a high-profile celebration of the reformer Deng as the latest attempts by President Hu to project Deng's influence - he is still revered - to contain his political rival and predecessor Jiang.
According to an informed source, cracks appear in Jiang's relations with the Deng family after Deng Xiaoping died in 1997. The year 2002 marked the 10th anniversary of Deng's inspection tour of southern China and the fifth anniversary of his death. During the tour, Deng successfully pushed through deepening economic reform amid conservative opposition and doubts.
At that time, the Deng family looked forward to some memorials. However, the authorities surprisingly decided to put aside Deng-related commemorations and focus on the seventh anniversary of Jiang Zemin's speech concerning the eight principles regarding Beijing-Taipei relations, delivered in 1995.
In Chinese political culture, the fifth and 10th anniversaries are usually considered more important and meaningful than odd-number anniversaries, such as the seventh. Jiang was said to be the string-puller behind the arrangement that elevated his own address and sidelined Deng. That irritated Deng's family. As a result, its relationship with Jiang soon deteriorated.
In fact, after January 2001, Jiang seldom mentioned the theory of Deng Xiaoping. At a national meeting on propaganda held that January 10, then president Jiang concentrated on his self-invented theory of the "Three Represents" and did not once refer to Deng. Some observed that Jiang appeared ambitious to claim credit for China's achievements and elevate himself to the same levels as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. To his satisfaction, the theory of "Three Represents" was eventually added into the Chinese constitution early this year. However, his name was kept out and not linked to it. Some believed that not mentioning Jiang was the result of intervention by the new President Hu Jintao, who sought to undermine Jiang's influence.
(The Three Represents says the CCP must always represent "the development trend of China's advanced productive forces, the orientation of China's advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people".)
Marked differences existed between Deng and his successor Jiang. As part of the efforts to commemorate the deceased leader, the party's official magazine Ban Yue Tan (China Comment) recently carried an article with some memories of Deng's visit to Guangdong province 12 years ago. According to accounts by an accompanying official, Deng sent out orders to the subordinate governments long before leaving Beijing, in a bid to keep the visit low-profile and minimize the interruption to routine work: no specific reporting by officials, no inscriptions, no media interviews.
In contrast, when touring the south early this year, Jiang's visit was as high-profile as possible, all the way. First, he summoned officials in Guangdong for reporting; a few senior party and military officials who were supposed to attend the plenum of provincial People's Congress chose to accompany Jiang instead. As if to make himself remembered forever, Jiang left inscriptions for various projects or construction sites, and his writing can be found throughout the country. However, sometimes he wrote the wrong words in the wrong place. For example, he once left an inscription for a large project in northern China's Hebei province, but he vowed there to build a massive university complex. Soon the project was implicated in unauthorized massive investment and consequently halted, discrediting the former president in the eyes of many.
Deng's daughter Deng Lin, in her interview with the party's main broadcast mouthpiece CCTV, reaffirmed her father's hands-off approach after retirement and his strong faith in his successors. "I think, from every single perspective, he [was] right in his decision to leave the job entirely to his successor without unnecessary interference. This could help speed up the maturity of the younger generations in the party," Deng Lin said.
Noticeably, she further stressed that Deng Xiaoping set a positive example in power handover and injection of new blood to the leadership. In 1989, on his own initiative, Deng offered to resign as the chairman of the Communist Party Central Military Commission. As early as in 1980, Deng had already proposed to abolish the life term of senior positions of both the government and the party.
Some China experts maintain that the remarks from Deng's daughter, made so close to the upcoming party plenum, puts pressure on Jiang in his power struggle with Hu. It remains to be seen which camp will gain the upper hand in Zhongnanhai, Beijing's seat of power, and how the agenda of the plenum will be affected on issues of political and economic reform.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)
China anti-poverty loans go to favored business
By Lynette Ong
CHENGDU - When one enters the building that houses the Poverty Alleviation Office in a poor county in rural Sichuan, the polished floors and air-conditioned offices catch one by surprise. In no way is the comfortable and well-appointed office indicative of the nature of this organization that has been given the mission of helping the massive number of poor in this "poor county by national standards" with an average per capita income of about 1,000 yuan (US$120).
The definition of a "poor county by national standards" can be misleading and unclear because it depends not only on the poverty level of the area but also the locality's bargaining position in Beijing's elite policymaking circle. Most local authorities lobby for the poor-county title to qualify for soft money from the central government. However, this particular county in Sichuan is indeed "poor by national standards", since its economy depends to a large extent on the remittances from local residents who work in other parts of the country. These migrant workers constitute more than half of the county's total workforce.
Director Yu, giving only his family name, of the Poverty Alleviation Office was quick to impress a foreigner with the massive sum of money the Chinese government has set aside every year to help improve the standard of living of the rural poor, as well as the magnitude of funds the county - despite its poverty it has good representation in Beijing - has managed to secure from the central authority. Allocations from the central Ministry of Finance for poverty-alleviation projects in the county are no less than 15 million yuan ($1.8 million) a year. Poverty-alleviation projects are mostly for infrastructure building, such as construction of roads and water tanks, as well as for health care and education. That aside, another 100 million yuan ($12 million) of subsidized poverty loans has been made available for the county. Yu became reticent when Asia Times Online inquired to whom the poverty loans have been disbursed, and at what loan-repayment interest rates.
The subsidized poverty loan program is a centerpiece of the Chinese government's policies to alleviate poverty and to narrow the wide gulf between the rich and the poor. Since its inception in 1994, its implementation has been plagued with problems, including deciding the agency best suited for delivering the loans, the criteria for selecting the loan recipients, and its very low repayment rate, which is officially estimated at around 50%, but in fact could be as low as 20-30%, according to informed sources familiar with the program.
The Agricultural Development Bank of China (ADBC), a non-profit-making policy bank, was originally charged with delivering the poverty loans. Nonetheless, after a massive corruption scandal in 1998, the delivery was transferred to the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), a state-owned commercial bank. On a nationwide scale, the ABC is responsible for disbursing 10 billion yuan a year to poor agricultural households that are in need of credit for investment in agriculture and animal husbandry. Borrowers pay a subsidized interest rate of 2.88% per year, while the central Ministry of Finance in turn compensates the ABC for the difference in monetary value between the market and the subsidized rates.
Based on my interviews with hundreds of poor households over a three-month period in rural Sichuan, most of them have not even heard of these anti-poverty loans, and very few have actually benefited from the program. Ironically, the beneficiaries are those with good guanxi (connections) with the relevant officials. Some studies suggest that less than 10% of the loans nationwide have actually reached the hands of the households.
A fundamental problem with most subsidized loans is the incentive issue. The borrowers have little incentive to repay the loans since they face no legal consequences for their non-payment, and their delinquency or bad credit does not affect their ability to borrow from other sources. In rural China, where legal enforcement is almost non-existent, collateral and guarantors that are common in Western societies mean nothing to the creditors. On the other hand, the bank officers in charge of disbursing the loans have little incentive to ensure prompt repayment. They probably gain more by colluding with the borrowers who could offer them some rewards in exchange for access to the subsidized credit. In essence, the subsidized loan program in China suffers from serious lack of supervisory and regulatory mechanisms that provide appropriate "carrots and sticks" for both lenders and borrowers.
Another problem with subsidized credit lies with the organization design that is unique to China. The credit program is jointly managed by the Agricultural Bank of China and the Poverty Alleviation Office: the former takes control of the funds, and is in charge of disbursement and collection, while the latter is responsible for giving its formal approval in order for the ABC to obtain interest subsidies from the central finance. The Poverty Alleviation Office is led by the State Council in Beijing, but at the county level, it reports to the Poverty Alleviation Office at the prefecture level (one level above county) as well as to the county party committee and county government.
The "dual leadership" structure, or shuangchong lingdao, is a characteristic of all administrative units in China. In a similar fashion, though all ABC branches throughout the country are managed by the headquarters in Beijing, those at local levels are highly influenced by the local governments. What this means is that loan allocations often suffer from "administrative inference" by local authorities.
In this particular county in rural Sichuan, the totality of poverty loans, about 100 million yuan a year, is now lent to an electricity plant, a major project approved by the county party committee. When Director Yu was asked why this profit-maximizing company instead of the poor households deserves the interest-rate subsidies, he said, "Well, upon completion, the plant is able to contribute significantly to the county government's tax revenue."
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

Energy Independence: The Ever-Receding Mirage
30 years of presidential futility and failure
Ronald Bailey
President Bush and his Democratic opponent John Kerry are both for "energy independence"--like every other president for a generation. That elusive, but ultimately pointless, quest has been a central feature in American politics and policy for the past 30 years, ever since the October 1973 embargo on oil exports to the United States launched by Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and Libya.
By January 1974, oil prices had risen from $3 to $11 per barrel. In response to the embargo, President Richard Nixon did lots of counterproductive things, including imposing oil price controls and lowering highway speed limits. Nixon also launched Project Independence, declaring, "Let this be our national goal: At the end of this decade, in the year 1980, the United States will not be dependent on any other country for the energy we need to provide our jobs, to heat our homes, and to keep our transportation moving." (Automobile aside: Even before the oil embargo, in 1970, Nixon proclaimed in an environmental message to Congress: "I am inaugurating a program to marshal both government and private research with the goal of producing an unconventionally powered virtually pollution free automobile within five years.")
President Gerald Ford moved the date for achieving American energy independence back to 1985. (Auto Aside: Ford signed the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which set federal standards for energy efficiency in new cars for the first time.)
President Jimmy Carter made energy policy the centerpiece of his administration. He notoriously declared on April 18, 1977, that achieving energy independence was the "moral equivalent of war." In August of that year, Carter signed the law creating the United States Department of Energy, intended to manage America's energy crisis.
In late 1978, the beginning of the Iranian revolution caused a shortfall in oil exports, and prices doubled over the next couple of years. Carter, wearing a sweater on national television, urged Americans to turn down their thermostats. "Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977--never," Carter declared in his nationally televised speech on July 15, 1979.
He proposed a sweeping $142 billion energy plan which would achieve energy independence by 1990. Part of his plan included the "creation of this nation's first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000." Carter imposed an import quota of 8.5 million barrels of oil per day and created the $20 billion Synfuels program, which was supposed to produce 2.5 million barrels of synthetic fuels per day by 1990. To his credit, Carter did begin to dismantle Nixon's crude oil price controls. (Auto aside: In his 1979 speech Carter warned: Citizens who insist on driving large, unnecessarily powerful cars must expect to pay more for that luxury.)
In 1991, in the prelude to the First Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush announced a hodgepodge of proposals as a national energy strategy. Naturally one of his strategy's guiding principles was "reducing our dependence on foreign oil." (Auto aside: President Bush, meeting with representatives of the "Big Three" automakers, announced a jointly funded U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium--a $260 million research project to develop lightweight battery system for electric vehicles.)
In 1992, President Bill Clinton proposed a BTU tax on fossil fuels to raise money to reduce the deficit. Clinton's tax proposal would have put a levy on natural gas, coal, and nuclear power of 25.7 cents per million British thermal units. Crude oil would have been taxed at 59.9 cents per million BTU to discourage dependence on foreign oil. The crude oil BTU tax would have raised the price of a barrel of oil by about $3.50, and would have cost the average family between $200 to $400 annually. In 1996, Clinton proposed a comprehensive energy plan that was completely ignored by the Republican-controlled Congress. (Auto aside: In 1993, Clinton launched the $1 billion Partnership for New Generation Vehicles with the Big Three automakers, aiming to produce a prototype car that was three times more fuel efficient than conventional vehicles by 2004.)
California experienced a series of rolling blackouts in the first months of George W. Bush's administration. A national energy task force led by Vice President Dick Cheney notoriously devised a national energy policy, released in May 2001. The task force described America's energy situation in stark terms: "America in the year 2001 faces the most serious energy shortage since the oil embargoes of the 1970s. . . . A fundamental imbalance between supply and demand defines our nation's energy crisis."
"What people need to hear loud and clear is that we're running out of energy in America," said Bush in May 2001. "We can do a better job in conservation, but we darn sure have to do a better job of finding more supply." He added, "We can't conserve our way to energy independence."
Nevertheless, George W. Bush repeated recent presidential history by insisting, in his 2003 State of the Union address, that one of his administration's goals was "to promote energy independence for our country." (Auto aside: In that speech, Bush announced his $1.2 billion FreedomCar proposal to develop hydrogen fueled vehicles.)
John Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential candidate, says he too has a plan for energy independence. "It's time to make energy independence a national priority--and to put in place a plan that frees our nation from the grip of Mideast oil in the next ten years," he intones in a campaign ad.
Among other things, Kerry would retool Gerry Ford's automotive fuel economy standards by raising them to as high as 36 miles per gallon. He would also require that 20 percent of electricity generation come from renewable energy sources by 2020--reminiscent of Carter's bold 1980 plan to supply 20 percent of America's energy by 2000 using solar energy. (Kerry's plan would also doubtless utterly fail to meet its goal, as with Carter's plan and all the other bits of energy planning political hubris mentioned in this article.)
So, is there any real difference between Bush and Kerry on energy policy? Not really. "Both believe that at the end of the policy rainbow is energy independence, and they are willing to move heaven and earth to get there. Both are convinced we need government intervention in energy markets," said Jerry Taylor, the Cato Institute's director of natural resource studies, in the Washington Post. "The difference is emphasis, not policy."
Bush and Kerry should take a lesson from the one president who refused to meddle extensively in energy markets--Ronald Reagan. In January 1981, on the day he became president, Reagan ended the remaining federal regulations on domestic oil supplies and prices, allowing oil prices for the first time since 1971 to fall and rise with world market levels. In December 1985, Reagan signed legislation dismantling the U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corp. What happened when all these government attempts to manage our energy supply were cruelly killed? Oil prices dropped from their peak of $37 per barrel in 1981 to less than $14 per barrel in 1986.
Reagan understood that for most Americans lower gasoline prices and lower home electric bills are all the energy independence they want or need.
Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His new book, Liberation Biology: A Moral and Scientific Defense of the Biotech Revolution will be published in early 2005.



North Korea: And still they starve
By Aidan Foster-Carter
What's news? In my country, apparently, it's the rutting of three unmarried people who work - or did - for England's Football Association. (FA for short, perhaps appropriately.)
Not that such trivia wholly blots out the real world. As ever, crises come and go. Darfur in Sudan is currently the new flavor of the month, and rightly so. But our attention spans are short, and the media circus will soon move on to horrors new. Darfur may still fester, but it will be off our television screens. As TS Eliot said, "Humankind cannot bear very much reality." (So-called "reality TV" is, of course, the exact opposite: arch navel-gazing narcissism.)
After almost a decade, hungry North Koreans are no longer news. But they're still there, and still hungry. On Monday the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported the latest in what seems an annual weather onslaught: usually floods, but sometimes drought.
According to KCNA, the July rains have flooded at least 100,000 hectares of fields, and made 1,000 families homeless. Harvests in affected areas are expected to fall by at least 30%. Roads and railways have also been hit in the center and south of the country.
No specific places were named, so maybe this is a nationwide roundup. The figure for homelessness could be worse, but 100,000 hectares is almost 4% of North Korea's total arable land.
Moscow sends wheat
All of which makes new grain just in from Moscow all the more timely. Also on Monday, but seemingly before this latest flood news (which went unmentioned), the United Nations (UN) World Food Program (WFP) praised its first donation ever from Russia. On Sunday the ship MV Kallisto (Greek for "most beautiful", if memory serves) began discharging 34,700 tonnes of wheat, worth US$10 million, at Nampo, the port for Pyongyang. Moscow had long been a, indeed the, major all-around aid donor to North Korea, mainly in the Soviet era. But this seems to be the first time it has chosen to channel food aid multilaterally.
A week earlier, the other power that sundered Korea in 1945 chipped in too. On July 23 the United States said it would give 50,000 tonnes of grain to WFP. That's a lot less than the 100,000 tonnes it gave last year, let alone the 200,000 tonnes in 2002. Ironically, axis of evil or no, US President George W Bush has kept feeding North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The politics of US farm support plays a part here; plus, as now, the timing is usually political. Bizarrely, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was at one point the top recipient of US food aid in Asia: since 1996 it has received something more than 2 million tonnes.
Yet it isn't enough. As other calls have arisen - Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur - while Kim Jong-il prefers guns (nay, nukes) to butter, donor fatigue has set in. Initially WFP saw its appeals for North Korea almost fully met - although other agencies, like the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), have all along had difficulties securing funding for their far more modest budgets in North Korea.
Donor fatigue
Now WFP is feeling the pinch too. Having appealed for 484,000 tonnes this year to feed 6.5 million of North Korea's most vulnerable - that's almost 30% of the population - with 2004 more than half over, it has received confirmed pledges for just 125,000 tonnes.
I should rephrase that. When aid dries up, it's hungry North Koreans who feel the pinch. For the past two years, falling donations have forced WFP to halt crucial supplemental rations to millions of designated recipients for long periods. In June and July just gone, over 2 million core beneficiaries, including many young children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, went without cereal rations. Thanks to Russia, these can now resume.
But 300,000 elderly people will still have to go without. Nor will the new aid last long. WFP's country director, Richard Ragan, warns that there is "little aid in the pipeline for the latter months of the year ... We urgently need firm commitments to plug that gap."
Some aid comes through other channels. South Korea is giving (lending, in theory) its usual 400,000 tonnes of rice; Seoul may buy some from Vietnam, as part of last week's deal on South Korea's receiving the North's refugees via Vietnam. Some southern rice has already been delivered - overland, which is a first. Japan, once a major donor, will give rice worth $10 million now that Pyongyang has let the children of Japanese abductees leave (though Washington purports to deny any linkage.)
Barely surviving
Still, and though the acute famine of the late 1990s has passed, many North Koreans are barely surviving. Here's what counts as progress in Kim Jong-il's 21st century people's paradise. Whereas a 1998 survey found 60% of children suffering acute malnutrition, by 2002 "only" 40% were so afflicted. Even this gain may be eroded, if food doesn't come.
Adults suffer too. According to WFP, "much of the population is afflicted by critical dietary deficiencies, consuming very little protein, fat and micronutrients." In a country two-thirds urban - yes, North Korea had an industrial revolution, once, before they blew it - the worst-off are city-dwellers outside Pyongyang, the relatively privileged capital.
These people rely on what is left of the Public Distribution System (PDS), the old state rationing system. Once comprehensive, the PDS now provides just 300 grams a day, less than half a survival ration. WFP adds that 70% of households dependent on PDS can't get the daily calories they need.
Meaning, presumably, that they can't afford to supplement this from the private markets that have sprung up in the past two years to bridge the gap - if they could afford them to begin with. Ironically, if typical of transition economies, the belated slow dawning of economic sense in North Korea since mid-2002 has aggravated unequal access to food. Though essential, market principles are no instant panacea; indeed, they create new divisions and vulnerabilities.
Defectors: What aid?
What to do? The humane urge to help - and I do urge you to help - then stumbles on the likes of Lee Kum-kwan, who fled North Korea in 2002 and now works for a South Korean religious group helping North Koreans in China. Lee told the Korea Times on Monday that his first taste of South Korean ramyon noodles was as a security policeman in Pyongyang. Before that, "I'd never heard of or seen international aid, not to mention South Korean food aid. Most North Koreans would be the same."
More privileged still than noodle-eating police, said Lee, 28, were the guys right next door: Kim Jong-il's guard corps, "the most powerful military unit in the North, whose soldiers are only allowed to eat rice". Lee claims that most of the North's national budget and international aid is funneled to Kim's guards - and also that German beef aid was taken back after being handed out, as soon as international monitors were out of sight.
The latter, he admits, is hearsay from an aunt. Even if some such tales are exaggerated, anyone aiding North Korea must do so in full knowledge of some unpalatable truths.
First, all this suffering is the fault of a vicious and obtuse regime. In 2004, Kim Jong-il still chooses guns over butter. Under the Songun (army-first) policy, the military gets the lion's share of resources; the civilian economy just gets the crumbs. Nukes don't come cheap. They also have a huge opportunity cost - meaning aid and investment forgone, or which would flow in if only the Dear Leader Kim Jong-il followed Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and saw the light.
Second, it was lousy policy that created the famine. Even floods aren't just an act of God. Reckless terracing of steep hills caused deforestation and erosion, increasing vulnerability to floods and loss of cropland. Third, whether or not actual food aid is diverted, North Korea obviously is free to send more of its own rice - or that of donors who don't ask awkward questions, like China and South Korea - to the military. To that extent, the diversion debate is a bit of a red herring.
So what to do? To me, the humanitarian imperative - feed my sheep, to coin a phrase - is still paramount. WFP, and the many non-governmental organizations active in North Korea, indubitably save lives. Hopefully, too, they are winning hearts and minds, showing that not all foreigners are the imperialist devils of Pyongyang propaganda.
Indeed, while their own so-called "great leaders" inflicted famine, it was and is foreigners who mainly helped. One day, North Koreans will know this. That should be interesting.
Aidan Foster-Carter is honorary senior research fellow in sociology and modern Korea, Leeds University, England.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)


South Korea's perilous historical revisionism
By David Scofield
Once upon a time, South Korean schoolchildren were taught to draw North Koreans as pigs and wolves, ravening beasts, the "main enemy". Today, however, South Korea makes nice in a kinder, gentler, misguided policy of historical revisionism, reconciliation and engagement. After all, the North Koreans are misunderstood brethren. The real enemies are the United States and Japan.
Now South Korea describes the 468 North Korean refugees who arrive last week as those who escaped economic hardship. South Korea harasses North Korean exiles and dissidents who try to run a radio station telling the truth about the North. It stifles talk of North Korean gulags, and its menacing intelligence agents tell defectors who want to talk about Pyongyang's deadly chemical experiments to keep their mouths shut.
South Korea's policies of engagement with North Korea are predicated on the belief that modifying the perceptions and identities held by the people of South Korea, officially softening how a former aggressor is described and depicted throughout society, will mitigate animosity and, the theory goes, ultimately prompt North Korea similarly to change its views of the South.
It appears very altruistic and humane, but it does leave one important question unanswered. What if the other side doesn't change its views or moderate its stance? What if one side lowers its guard, engages the other as an equal partner and not as a belligerent, but the other side remains hostile? Portraying Pyongyang as an insecure brother, a misunderstood weaker sibling that only needs the right reassurances and enticements to break its half-century of hostility and jingoism toward the South, is a high-stakes gamble. If North Korea does not moderate its perceptions and depictions of its neighbor to the south - and there's precious little evidence that it will - then North Korea will hold a strategic advantage against the overly pliant South - the tail wagging the dog.
In fact, North Korea, which condemned South Korea's admission of the refugee/defectors, has canceled Tuesday's working-level talks on defusing the North's nuclear-weapons programs. It was the third cancellation of the working-level group involving both North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US. It was to be hosted by China.
The changes that Kim Dae-jung's Sunshine Policy and Roh Moo-hyun's Peace and Prosperity Program have made to South Korean society are nothing short of monumental. Prior to Kim's election, the North was widely regarded as dangerous and threatening, an unmitigated evil to those who monitored its human-rights abuses and the famine of the mid- to late 1990s, caused by misguided political ideology. Indeed, some members of President Roh Moo-hyun's affiliated party, OOP (Our Open Party), are protesting the passing of the censorious North Korean Human Rights Act in the US House of Representatives; they hope to get between 80-90 lawmakers' signatures on a protest letter to the US Senate, demanding senators quash the bill.
Now, North Korean refugees, like the 468 who arrived last week in Seoul via Vietnam, are not heralded as survivors of a tyrannical regime, but rather as defectors escaping economic hardship - privations that many South Koreans believe are a direct result of US policies toward the North, not North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's callous disregard for human life. Reasoned discussion of the true political cause of the horrors in the North generally, and analysis of these most recent newcomers specifically, is preempted. The South Korean media and the government have largely abandoned the issue, leaving questions of state persecution and the reasons behind the absence of men in this latest exodus - 90 were women and children - unanswered.
Nor does South Korea's engagement policy encourage discussion of North Korea's gulags, or its illicit trade in human labor, drugs, weapons and counterfeit currency. On July 28, BBC 2 in the United Kingdom ran interviews with two North Korean defectors in Seoul who claim to have first-hand knowledge of human experiments within the North's gulags. One defector, referred to in the piece as Dr Kim, offered the name of the compound used in experiments on North Korean civilians as para-cyano-nitrobenzene, or NP-100. The cyanide-based chemical was being developed for possible use on military and civilian targets in South Korea. Both Dr Kim and a previous defector who came forward with similar testimony in January, Kwon Hyok, declared that they are constantly harassed and threatened by South Korean intelligence services to keep their knowledge to themselves, stories of gas chambers and gulags in the North being less than congruent with South Korea's official depiction of North Korea.
The military too sees a kinder, gentler Pyongyang
Within the South 's military as well, the removal of the designation "main enemy" from South Korea's defense White Paper due to be released this October alters the defense dynamic considerably. The North, long defined as the primary threat or "main enemy" of the South, has now been redefined in line with the policy of softening the nation's collective perception of the North. The result, exemplified by recent Northern Limit Line (NLL, the sea border between North and South Korea) incursions, is a military command reflecting little faith in the government's commitment to defend the South against Northern aggression.
On July 14, a North Korean patrol boat - the same boat that crossed the naval boundary in 2002 and attacked a South Korean naval vessel, killing six sailors - crossed into South Korean territorial waters. South Korean naval forces responded by firing warning shots across the vessel's bow. The North Korean ship retreated, but its navy later protested, saying it had utilized the newly designated radio frequency (a radio "hotline" agreed to in general-level talks between the North and South in late May) to contact the South Korean navy and inform it of the transgression. Of course it did not make the call until it had already crossed the line, but nonetheless the South Korean navy was now in the hot seat.
What emerged from the inquiry and the subsequent resignations of naval Vice Admiral Kim Seong-man and Defense Minister Cho Young-kil is a picture of a navy that feared informing political superiors of the radio transmission for fear they would be ordered to hold their fire. Indeed, North Korean ships have violated the NLL five times since agreeing to use the specified frequency and protocols, a 500% increase over the average of one incursion per month before the communications agreement. What was to have been a step forward for intra-Korean relations may actually be a new strategy to weaken Southern defenses as Northern ships violate the border then send messages effectively preempting a response from the South: a strategy that would buy the Northern side precious time during a preemptive assault, by ensuring hesitation on the part of the South in responding.
The same such strategy may well be tested against South Korean ground defenses along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) after US forces are redeployed from the area at the end of next year. As for the South Korean field officers and the defense forces they manage, it's hard to imagine how they will maintain a seamless defense against the North when senior command members and rank-and-file soldiers are conditioned not to see an enemy in the North. In the immediate aftermath of the deadly attack by North Korea's navy two years ago, a surviving sailor was quoted as saying, "We didn't believe the North would attack us."
Schoolchildren once demonized the North
The pro-North indoctrination of the South Korea's younger generation comes in the form of school curriculum. The previous Kim Dae-jung administration began "updating" the way the texts describe the North, and indeed such a measure was long overdue. South Koreans in their 30s and older tell of being instructed to draw North Koreans as pigs and wolves in primary school. These state-sanctioned activities demonized the North Korean people as a whole, making no distinction between the North Korean people and their despotic leadership.
But today's policies promote wholesale perception change, not a considered, reasoned update of Cold War propaganda. The evil of the North Korean regime has been mitigated; the nation's pampered ruling elite and the starving huddled masses are again one and the same from a policy perspective, and this is not a temporary phenomenon. Most analysts believe that even if the present "progressive" government in Seoul were replaced with a conservative one, there would be little change in the policy. Grand National Party (GNP) leader Park Gun-hye went to visit the North Korean leader before the last election. This move was believed by many to be designed to assure North Korea that the current policies of engagement started by Kim Dae-jung would continue regardless of the person occupying in the Blue House.
South Korean policies of engagement have been successful in changing how South Koreans view the North. Most South Koreans no longer view the North as the primary threat to their security. That designation is increasingly reserved for the United States. These policies of rapprochement have successfully tapped into South Korea's inherent "one blood, one people" view of the world. Teaching graduate students in South Korea, this correspondent was often struck by how deep this blood affiliation goes, as students majoring in NGO (non-governmental organization) development - many self-described human-rights activists - would challenge evidence of atrocities committed by the Northern regime. Students would often assert in so many words: "Prove there are people starving and being tortured, there is no proof ... it's all a campaign by the United States and Japan to demonize the North and weaken Korea."
Politically prickly issues from South Korea's recent past have a history of being buried or politically manipulated, leaving rumors and animosity to fester as a true accounting of events and the reconciliation that should accompany it proves elusive. Perhaps then it's not surprising that many policy architects in the South believe that North-South reconciliation can be achieved while turning a blind eye to the callous indifference to human life so often demonstrated by the leadership in North Korea. But at some point the South will have to answer for its myopia, its refusal even to raise the issue with the North or include the well-documented proof of crimes against humanity in the administration's dialogue with the people. A North-South relationship predicated on denial and half-truths is unlikely to bring lasting peace and stability.
David Scofield, former lecturer at the Graduate Institute of Peace Studies, Kyung Hee University, is currently conducting post-graduate research at the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

No bed of roses for refugees in South
By Ahn Mi-young
SEOUL - "False expectations - that's how I put my life in South Korea, now," said North Korean defector Lee Min-sun, who works in a restaurant here. "It's like a marriage to a lover who makes false promises," recalled Lee (asking that her real name not be used), who made her way to South Korea in 2001.
Admitting that North Korean refugees - more than 460 last week - may have been a humanitarian act, but it was cloaked in secrecy lest the North be offended - and it was. It could have adverse consequences for the six-party talks aimed at defusing the North Korean nuclear crisis. North Korea has already denounced South Korea's "terrorist" crime in admitting the refugees/defectors and said Seoul would bear the consequences. And it said it would not attend talks in Beijing this week involving both Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.
Meanwhile, it's tough for the North Koreans living in the South. The cultural adjustment to a capitalist society is a shock, many are unemployed, and many say they are discriminated against by their Southern brethren.
"It started with a sweetheart who promised a decent house with a fountain spring. But in reality the lover could only give me a hut without even a bathtub," said Lee, 35. "Life's so hard in South. I'm discriminated against because I'm from the North and I can't even get a decent job."
Adapting to life in the capitalist South is a challenge for North Korean refugees. Their difficulties, however, may pale against Seoul's task of balancing its delicate regional diplomacy - warming to North Korea and encouraging it to reciprocate, while not offending Pyongyang by publicizing the 460 refugees who made their way to Seoul last week. They came from an unidentified Southeast Asian country believed to be Vietnam.
North Korea already has accused the South of committing "a terrorist crime" for granting asylum to the North Koreans. Seoul has cloaked the exodus in secrecy partly to avoid provoking Pyongyang.
"South Korea will be held responsible for the aftermath of the operation, and all forces that cooperated with it will pay a high price," the South's Yonhap news agency quoted the North Korean Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland as saying.
For South Korean and Western activists, the suffering of North Koreans in their famine-stricken communist country justifies the dicey diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula.
Seoul fears exodus could mean Pyongyang's collapse
But the South Korean government has a different set of concerns. Topping Seoul's fears are that an exodus of defectors will spark a chaotic Albanian-style collapse of North Korea, bringing hungry refugees southward by the millions.
"We obviously want to take them for humanitarian reasons, but we can't overly or unnecessarily provoke North Korea," a senior South Korean official said.
For Lee, the escape to South Korea began at the Tumen River at the North Korea-China border. She bribed border guards to allow her to cross into China and then paid a contact to take her to the South Korean Embassy in Beijing, where she sought asylum. She then flew to Seoul.
Lee's dramatic journey is typical of the more than 5,000 North Koreans who have risked their lives to reach capitalist South Korea since the Korean War ended in 1953.
North Koreans have defected in growing numbers over the past decade, fleeing poverty and oppression. Most have escaped across the country's long and porous border with China rather than the more heavily fortified frontier with South Korea. However, China, a North Korean ally, has refused to accept them as refugees and the defectors risk being sent back home if caught by Chinese authorities. China doesn't want a flood of poor refugees fleeing into its territory.
But the promise of better life outside tightly sealed communist North Korea isn't always the hoped-for bed of roses.
Having lived in a country where they have little personal freedom, the transition for North Koreans can be overwhelming. One of the biggest problems is unemployment. As many as 50% of defectors have no job, or only part-time work. Many quit their jobs, unable to cope with the competitive atmosphere in the workplace, says Chung Sung-im, a researcher at the Center for North Korean Studies at the Seoul-based Sejong Institute.
"Of the 5,000 or so North Koreans in South Korea, some are leading good lives as successful businessmen, entertainers or journalists," Chung said. "But there are many North Koreans in the South who are struggling to cope with the harsh realities in the capitalist world that seem to confound them."
Capitalist culture shock and discrimination
Chung said many of the refugees feel they are being treated as second-class citizens and also suffer from culture shock.
Kim Mi-ran (not her real name) was a herbalist in North Korea, when she defected to the South in 2001. She was lucky enough to get a job as an herbalist in a small town in her adopted home. But Kim, 37, feels her clients treat her differently when they discover she's from the North.
"I feel miserable when my clients cancel their appointments or switch to another herbalist when they find out I'm from North Korea," she said.
Joon Soon-young remembers the difficult transition she faced when she left North Korea in January 2003. Joon was an actress in Pyongyang and is now a restaurant owner in Seoul, employing with 15 North Korean defectors as workers.
"Of course, I have never regretted leaving the North; and I appreciate the attention and financial support I've received, both from the government and by private donors," she said in an interview. "Despite all the hardship that I have got through, the bottom line is that South Korea is still a better place to live.
"I did not give up. I rose again, and now I love what I am doing. You have to endure hardship if you want to win here," said the former actress. "I had a dream to be free and I wanted it to work."
Last week's cooperation among nations to enable the refugees to reach Seoul has been hailed as a sign that Asian countries are starting to address the defector issue after years of inaction. But the intense secrecy surrounding the operation - Hanoi refused to acknowledge its role and Seoul would not confirm the defectors' arrival - showed regional sensitivities to the issue.
"The massive arrival of Northern defectors is generally expected to compound (and complicate) a peaceful resolution to the nuclear standoff between Pyongyang and Washington, which has kept the Korean Peninsula in the grip of tension since October 2002," said a July 31 editorial in the Korea Times daily newspaper.

(Inter Press Service)

Posted by maximpost at 12:20 AM EDT
Tuesday, 3 August 2004

Report: Pakistan's ISI 'Fully Involved' in 9/11
Arnaud de Borchgrave
Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2004
The Sept. 11 Commission has found troubling new evidence that Iran was closer to al-Qaida than was Iraq. More importantly, and through no fault of its own, the commission missed the biggest prize of all: Former Pakistani intelligence officers knew beforehand all about the September 11 attacks.
They even advised Osama bin Laden and his cohorts how to attack key targets in the United States with hijacked civilian aircraft. And bin Laden has been undergoing periodic dialysis treatment in a military hospital in Peshawar, capital of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province adjacent to the Afghan border.
The information came to the commission's attention in a confidential report from Pakistan as the commission's own report was coming off the presses. The information was supplied with the understanding that the unimpeachable source would remain anonymous.
Pakistan still denies that President Pervez Musharraf knew anything about the activities of A.Q. Khan, the country's top nuclear engineer who spent the last 10 years building and running a one-stop global Wal-Mart for "rogue" nations. North Korea, Iran and Libya shopped for nuclear weapons at Mr. Khan's underground black market. Pakistan has also denied the allegations by a leading Pakistani in the confidential addendum to the September 11 Commission report.
After U.S. and British intelligence painstakingly pieced together Mr. Khan's global nuclear proliferation endeavors, Deputy Secretary of State Rich Armitage was assigned last fall to convey the devastating news to Mr. Musharraf. Mr. Khan, a national icon for giving Pakistan its nuclear arsenal, was not arrested. Instead, Mr. Musharraf pardoned him in exchange for an abject apology on national television in English.
No one in Pakistan believed Mr. Musharraf's claim he was totally in the dark about Mr. Khan's operation. Prior to seizing power in 1999, Mr. Musharraf was -- and still is -- army chief of staff. For the past five years, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence chief has reported directly to Mr. Musharraf.
Osama bin Laden's principal Pakistani adviser before Sept. 11, 2001, was retired Gen. Hamid Gul, a former ISI chief who, since the 2001 attacks, is "strategic adviser" to the coalition of six politico-religious parties that governs two of Pakistan's four provinces. Known as MMA, the coalition also occupies 20 percent of the seats in the federal assembly in Islamabad.
Hours after Sept. 11, Gen. Gul publicly accused Israel's Mossad of fomenting the plot. Later, he said the U.S. Air Force must have been in on it since no warplanes were scrambled to shoot down the hijacked airliners.
Gen. Gul spent two weeks in Afghanistan immediately before Sept. 11. He denied meeting bin Laden on that trip, but has always said he was an "admirer" of the al-Qaida leader. However, he did meet several times with Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban leader.
Since Sept. 11, hardly a week goes by without Gen. Gul denouncing the United States in both the Urdu and English-language media.
In a conversation with this reporter in October 2001, Gen. Gul forecast a future Islamist nuclear power that would form a greater Islamic state with a fundamentalist Saudi Arabia after the monarchy falls.
Gen. Gul worked closely with the CIA during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan when he was ISI chief. He was "mildly" fundamentalist in those days, he explained after Sept. 11, and indifferent to the United States. But he became passionately anti-American after the United States turned its back on Afghanistan following the 1989 Soviet withdrawal and began punishing Pakistan with economic and military sanctions for its secret nuclear buildup.
A ranking CIA official, speaking anonymously, said the agency considered Gen. Gul "the most dangerous man" in Pakistan. A senior Pakistani political leader, also on condition of anonymity, said, "I have reason to believe Hamid Gul was Osama bin Laden's master planner."
The report received by the Sept. 11 Commission from the anonymous, well-connected Pakistani source, said: "The core issue of instability and violence in South Asia is the character, activities and persistence of the militarized Islamist fundamentalist state in Pakistan. No cure for this canker can be arrived at through any strategy of negotiations, support and financial aid to the military regime, or by a 'regulated' transition to 'democracy.'"
The confidential report continued: "The imprints of every major act of international Islamist terrorism invariably passes through Pakistan, right from September 11 -- where virtually all the participants had trained, resided or met in, coordinated with, or received funding from or through Pakistan -- to major acts of terrorism across South Asia and Southeast Asia, as well as major networks of terror that have been discovered in Europe.
"Pakistan has harvested an enormous price for its apparent 'cooperation' with the U.S., and in this it has combined deception and blackmail -- including nuclear blackmail -- to secure a continuous stream of concessions. Its conduct is little different from that of North Korea, which has in the past chosen the nuclear path to secure incremental aid from Western donors. A pattern of sustained nuclear blackmail has consistently been at the heart of Pakistan's case for concessions, aid and a heightened threshold of international tolerance for its sponsorship and support of Islamist terrorism.
"To understand how this works, it is useful to conceive of Pakistan's ISI as a state acting as terrorist traffickers, complaining that, if it does not receive the extraordinary dispensations and indulgences that it seeks, it will, in effect, 'implode,' and in the process do extraordinary harm.
"Part of the threat of this 'explosion' is also the specter of the transfer of its nuclear arsenal and capabilities to more intransigent and irrational elements of the Islamist far right in Pakistan, who would not be amenable to the logic that its present rulers -- whose interests in terrorism are strategic, and consequently, subject to considerations of strategic advantage -- are willing to listen to. ...
"It is crucial to note that if the Islamist terrorist groups gain access to nuclear devices, ISI will almost certainly be the source. ... At least six Pakistani scientists connected with the country's nuclear program were in contact with al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden with the thorough instructions of ISI.
"Pakistan has projected the electoral victory of the fundamentalist and pro-Taliban, pro-al Qaeda Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) in the November elections as 'proof' the military is the only 'barrier' against the country passing into the hands of the extremists. The fact, however, is that the elections were widely rigged, and this was a fact acknowledged by the European Union observers, as well as by some of the MMA's constituents themselves. The MMA victory was, in fact, substantially engineered by the Musharraf regime, as are the various anti-U.S. 'mass demonstrations' around the country.
"Pakistan has made a big case out of the fact that some of the top-line leadership of al Qaeda has been arrested in the country with the 'cooperation' of the Pakistani security forces and intelligence. However, the fact is that each such arrest only took place after the FBI and U.S. investigators had effectively gathered evidence to force Pakistani collaboration, but little of this evidence had come from Pakistani intelligence agencies. Indeed, ISI has consistently sought to deny the presence of al Qaeda elements in Pakistan, and to mislead U.S. investigators. ... This deception has been at the very highest level, and Musharraf himself, for instance, initially insisted he was 'certain' bin Laden was dead. ...
"ISI has been actively facilitating the relocation of the al Qaeda from Afghanistan to Pakistan, and the conspiracy of substantial segments of serving Army and intelligence officers is visible. ..."
"The Pakistan army consistently denies giving the militants anything more than moral, diplomatic and political support. The reality is quite different. ISI issues money and directions to militant groups, specially the Arab hijackers of September 11 from al Qaeda. ISI was fully involved in devising and helping the entire affair. And that is why people like Hamid Gul and others very quickly stated the propaganda that CIA and Mossad did it. ..."
"The dilemma for Musharraf is that many of his army officers are still deeply sympathetic to al Qaeda, Taliban militants and the Kashmir cause. ... Many retired and present ISI officers retain close links to al Qaeda militants hiding in various state-sponsored places in Pakistan and Kashmir as well as leaders from the defeated Taliban regime. They regard the fight against Americans and Jews and Indians in different parts of the world as legitimate jihad."
The report also says, "According to a senior tribal leader in Peshawar, bin Laden, who suffers from renal deficiency, has been periodically undergoing dialysis in a Peshawar military hospital with the knowledge and approval of ISI if not of Gen. Pervez Musharraf himself."
The same source, though not in the report, speculated that Mr. Musharraf may plan to turn over bin Laden to President Bush in time to clinch Mr. Bush's re-election in November.
Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large for The Washington Times and for United Press International.

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Tashkent Terrorists
The al Qaeda allies behind the attacks.
By Andrew Apostolou
The terrorist attacks in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, on Friday are a testament to the continued vitality of the al Qaeda movement. Three suicide-bomb blasts outside the embassies of Israel and the U.S. and the office of the Uzbek state prosecutor killed three terrorists and three innocent Uzbeks. Responsibility for the attacks has been claimed by the Jihad Islamic Group (JIG), a successor to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an organization allied with al Qaeda. The JIG is also known as "Jamoat" (meaning "societies" or "groups" in Uzbek).
The IMU was probably behind car bombs in Tashkent in February 1999 that aimed to assassinate Uzbek President Islam Karimov and that killed 16 persons. In its new guise as Jamoat, the organization issued a statement in April 2004 claiming responsibility for a series of explosions from March 28 to April 1, 2004 that took the lives of 33 terrorists and 14 bystanders and policemen. The trial of 15 suspects from the March and April bombings began on July 26.
The IMU and its successor are a classic example of how the al Qaeda movement formed and then spread its tentacles from its Afghan base. Islamists gravitated towards al Qaeda, which provided funding and training, fought with the Taliban and now have returned to fight their jihad at home.
The history of the IMU began, like that of al Qaeda, with the defeat of Communism. The Soviet republics of Central Asia, in particular Uzbekistan, missed the wave of democratization that swept Eastern Europe and the western republics of the Soviet Union in 1989 and 1991. Instead, the old corrupt Communist-party bosses and their acolytes, men like President Islam Karimov who has run the country since 1989, clung to power.
Attempts to oppose the Communist party by secular groups were crushed. At the same time, small Islamist groups appeared in eastern Uzbekistan. Islam had largely been destroyed by the Communist dictatorship. Most mosques were closed and Uzbeks were largely ignorant of the basic practices of Islam. The radicals had little knowledge of Islam, but claimed to have easy answers to the economic and social crises that accompanied the collapse of Communism and the brutal ethnic unrest then sweeping eastern Uzbekistan.
While the Uzbek authorities successfully closed down the Islamist groups, many of their members fled to the neighboring former Soviet republic of Tajikistan. Some of these Uzbek Islamists participated in the Tajik civil war (1992-1997) on the side of an unusual alliance of Tajik Islamists and secular anti-Communists that fought against the former Communist government of Tajikistan. For most of these years, the Uzbek Islamists were based either in remote mountainous regions of Tajikistan or in northern Afghanistan.
When the Tajik civil war ended in 1997, the Uzbek Islamists found themselves at a loose end. Their Tajik allies signed a peace deal with their former opponents and went into government in Tajikistan. The Uzbek Islamists refused to lay down their arms. Instead, they threw in their lot with the new, dominant force in Afghanistan, the Taliban and their Saudi exile friend, Osama bin Laden.
Al Qaeda and the Taliban, who dreamt of establishing their rule in the historic centers of Islam in Uzbekistan, the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, gave the IMU bases and training. The connection soon bore fruit. The first attacks linked to the IMU were five synchronized car bombs in Tashkent on February 16, 1999. The bombings, which were similar to the attacks on the U.S. embassies in East Africa in August 1998, had all the hallmarks of al Qaeda training.
It was only in May 1999 that the IMU formally announced its existence, broadcasting its manifesto on Iranian radio. The IMU charter advocates an Islamic state along the lines of the Islamic republic of Iran, with nominal participation by the population closely supervised by clerics. The declaration was replete with attacks on the U.S. and anti-Semitism, claiming, for example, that President Karimov of Uzbekistan is a Jew.
The IMU's jihad was a flop. The militarily incompetent IMU launched a series of crossborder attacks into Uzbekistan in August 1999 and August 2000 that were repulsed. Never more than several hundred strong, the IMU was unable to garner any real support in Uzbekistan where the population is largely secular and uninterested in Islamist politics.
After September 11, most of the IMU went down fighting with the Taliban. The U.S., in need of bases in Central Asia, asked Uzbekistan for access to the Khanabad airbase in southern Uzbekistan near the Afghan border. Although never officially acknowledged by the Uzbek government, U.S. forces flew combat operations from Khanabad and the base was the jumping off point for special forces and CIA teams working with pro-US Afghan forces in the campaign against the Taliban and al Qaeda. A similarly well-guarded secret, until recently, were the Predator surveillance flights from Uzbekistan over Afghanistan in 2000.
The Taliban sent the head of the IMU, Jumaboi Khojiev (who used the nom de guerre Juma Namangani after his hometown of Namagan in eastern Uzbekistan) and his men to defend their northern front in October 2001. Most of the estimated 700 members of the IMU's para-military unit were captured or killed in fighting around Mazar-e Sharif and Konduz in November 2001. Namangani himself, who had fought as a Soviet paratrooper in Afghanistan in 1987-1989, reportedly died of wounds sustained during the fighting.
The remnants of the IMU then fled with their al Qaeda allies to the Afghan-Pakistan border area, emerging in March 2002 to fight U.S. and Afghan forces in the Shah-e Kot valley. Others were killed by Pakistani forces in a series of sweeps of the border areas and a few gave themselves up.
A stubborn rearguard, however, following the pattern of the rest of the al Qaeda movement, has returned home and started to recruit. Despite having been allied to the Taliban, the IMU, in its new guise as the Jamaot, has become ideologically flexible, seeking out unlikely recruits. The two suicide bombers who killed themselves, three policemen and a child in Tashkent on March 29, 2004, were women. One of them, Dilnoza Khalmuradova, was just 19 years old. Yet again, al Qaeda and its trainees have shown themselves to be as adaptable as they are fanatical.
Andrew Apostolou is director of research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies a policy institute focusing on terrorism. He has covered Uzbekistan and Central Asia since 1992.


Minister confirms arrest of IT expert
ISLAMABAD, Aug 2: Minister for Information Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has confirmed that a computer expert linked to a terrorist network has been arrested.
APP quoted Sheikh Rashid as saying that terrorists were being arrested all over the country, adding that they were trying to carry out attacks at various places out of sheer frustration. They would not succeed in their nefarious designs, he added.
AFP ADDS: Sheikh Rashid said: "We've arrested a computer mastermind. He is linked to Al Qaeda. We got information from computer and email." He was ambiguous about the place where the man was arrested and said he was captured either in Lahore or Gujrat and declined to reveal his nationality.
The capture of the computer engineer was around the same time as the arrest of Tanzanian-born Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, Sheikh Rashid said, but would not specify the date. Ghailani's arrest also yielded valuable information, the minister said.
"After Ghailani, this is the second important arrest in Pakistan," Mr Rashid later told state television. "We have got valuable information from him," he said.
"We have arrested some more people in addition to these two," he said. Sheikh Rashid said that security agencies hoped to penetrate the terrorist network using the information gleaned from the latest detainees.


Frontier Menace
What are we doing about the terrorists organizing on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border?
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT
ISLAMABAD--A sign outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul reads: "The U.S. Embassy would be grateful if any of our friends who have information on terrorist activity or threats inform us between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday." Written on a big billboard in English as well as in Afghanistan's official languages, Pashtu and Dari, it stands directly across from the main gates of the embassy, which is encased by giant walls topped with rolls of barbed wire and guarded by sentries in sandbag bunkers.
The sign seems absurd. Is information that could help bring terrorists to justice only welcome during a two-hour time slot on working days? Yet it drives home the difficulty that the U.S. faces in gathering intelligence in countries like Afghanistan, where even non-military Americans have to wear bulletproof clothing and can only travel in massively armed convoys.
That means they can only talk to people handpicked for them, often by hosts who don't always want the whole truth told. It also leads to a heavy reliance on drop-ins--those who can muster the courage to face the overwhelming show of security and knock on the embassy gates, and then only during the right hours. That's true not just in Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan, where unaccompanied journeys by U.S. intelligence personnel are equally unthinkable in the country's tribal regions. Instead, the U.S. embassy in Islamabad--another island surrounded by formidable security--places a significant reliance on drop-ins, according to a CIA official stationed there. Other intelligence is bought, by paying locals in these inhospitable regions to speak out.
The sections of the 9/11 Commission report on Pakistan and Afghanistan reflect this intelligence vacuum. The report states the obvious--that the border regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as southern and southwestern Afghanistan, are likely places for terrorists to congregate. It also gives the impression that the former Taliban regime gave birth to the isolated terrorist camps in Afghanistan, and the lawless atmosphere that allowed such activities to flourish.
The reality is that these camps predated the Taliban's September 1996 victory, and flourished unhindered when many of those associated with the current U.S.-backed Afghanistan government were last in power. For example, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a power-broker in Kabul now aligned to the U.S.-led coalition, requested and received Afghan passports for more than 600 Arabs in 1993-94, while he was a faction leader in the pre-Taliban government.
The sort of company that Mr. Sayyaf keeps was made all too clear at a recent press conference, where Ahmed Shah Ahmedzai, a close ally and former lieutenant in Mr. Sayyaf's Islamic Union, announced his candidacy for president. At that press conference, Mawlawi Mufleh, a radical cleric, denounced the presence of U.S. troops in the country and called for the establishment of an Islamic theocracy stretching from Afghanistan to Morocco.
Another region identified by the 9/11 Commission report as an ideal sanctuary for terrorists is the border region of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Again, the reality is that the region is a decades-old route used by drugs and weapons smugglers, in addition to would-be terrorists. A former member of the Taliban's security apparatus told me that this region is still being used to move money, mostly originating in Saudi Arabia, to the Taliban and al Qaeda.
He explained how the chain began with the money being given to Afghan businessmen living in Saudi Arabia, who used an informal money-transferring system to move it to Afghan businessmen in Iran. They, in turn, used their business connections to move the money to al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. A former member of the Taliban regime said that 1,000 al Qaeda operatives, possibly more, were in the border regions of Afghanistan--accessible from Pakistan--while the Taliban were in power, and are most likely still there. That is information that should have been readily available to U.S. intelligence services before 9/11, and which should have been acted on after the collapse of the Taliban.
Terrorists are also active on the Pakistani side of the border, where they are known to have links with local militants and even intelligence officials. But again there would appear to be an intelligence vacuum as far as the U.S. is concerned. For example, Wana in South Waziristan Agency has been the focus of recent antiterrorist operations. Yet no one of significance has been seen in the area, and only Chechen and Uzbek fighters are believed to be present. It seems the Pakistan military may be using the operation as a cover to tame the tribesmen of that area, rather than actually find and arrest significant members of al Qaeda.
A more logical area to focus on would be the Bajour Agency in northwestern Pakistan, which lies just across the border from Kunar and Nuristan regions in northeastern Afghanistan. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the renegade Party of Islam leader wanted by the U.S., is popular in Kunar and Nuristan--where heavily forested mountains make for easy camouflage, and Osama bin Laden was known to have camps before Sept. 11, 2001. While its Pakistani partners keep the U.S.-led coalition busy hundreds of miles to the south, Taliban and al Qaeda move with relative freedom farther north, and in some of Pakistan's most congested cities, including Quetta and Karachi.
The 9/11 Commission report also praises President Bush and Congress "for their efforts in Afghanistan so far." That however deflects from the many problems the country faces. Afghanistan is the world's largest opium-producing country and warlords allied with the government, either directly or indirectly, allow the drugs trade to continue to flourish. The Taliban, soundly defeated in 2001, are becoming increasingly active. Ordinary Afghans, disappointed at the pace of reconstruction, blame the international community for failing to disarm warlords. Many ordinary Afghans and even some in top government posts privately say elections should be postponed until the country has been thoroughly disarmed.
A more productive approach would be to take a hard look at the misplaced support and the allegiances of those the U.S. calls friends in Afghanistan. Why have the private armies controlled by commanders loyal to the Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim not been disarmed? Why has Mr. Fahim refused to hand over his weapons to the central government and been allowed to stymie the development of a national army?
Almost three years after the Taliban fell from power, the gun rules in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai made a courageous decision last week when he chose not to include Mr. Fahim as running mate on his presidential ticket. For many, that was the first real sign of Afghanistan trying to break from its violent past. Yet within 24 hours of that announcement, Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador, was meeting with Mr. Fahim, and publicly promising to heal his wounded feelings.
The 9/11 Commission report says, "The United States and the international community should help the Afghan government extend its authority over the country, with a strategy and nation-by-nation commitments to achieve their objectives." The tragedy is that, unless there is a rethink of existing policies and priorities, the opposite is in danger of happening.
Ms. Gannon, who has reported for the Associated Press from Pakistan and Afghanistan for 16 years, is writing a book about Afghanistan.

An Oil-for-Food Connection?
From the August 9, 2004 issue: On whether any of Saddam's loot made its way into Osama's pockets.
by Claudia Rosett
08/09/2004, Volume 009, Issue 45
IF, as the 9/11 Commission concludes, our "failure of imagination" left America open to the attacks of September 11, then surely some imagination is called for in tackling one of the riddles that stumped the commission: Where exactly did Osama bin Laden get the funding to set up shop in Afghanistan, reach around the globe, and strike the United States?
So let's do some imagining. Unfashionable though it may be, let's even imagine a money trail that connects Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda.
By 1996, remember, bin Laden had been run out of Sudan, and seems to have been out of money. He needed a fresh bundle to rent Afghanistan from the Taliban, train recruits, expand al Qaeda's global network, and launch what eventually became the 9/11 attacks. Meanwhile, over in Iraq about that same time, Saddam Hussein, after a lean stretch under United Nations sanctions, had just cut his Oil-for-Food deal with the U.N., and soon began exploiting that program to embezzle billions meant for relief.
Both Saddam and bin Laden were, in their way, seasoned businessmen. Both had a taste for war. Both hated America. By the late 1990s, Saddam, despite continuing sanctions, was solidly back in business, socking away his purloined billions in secret accounts, but he had no way to attack the United States directly. Bin Laden needed millions to fund al Qaeda, which could then launch a direct strike on the United States. Whatever the differences between Saddam and bin Laden, their circumstances by the late 1990s had all the makings of a deal. Pocket change for Saddam, financial security for bin Laden, and satisfaction for both--death to Americans.
Now let's talk facts. In 1996, Sudan kicked out bin Laden. He went to Afghanistan, arriving there pretty much bankrupt, according to the 9/11 Commission report. His family inheritance was gone, his allowance had been cut off, and Sudan had confiscated his local assets. Yet, just two years later, bin Laden was back on his feet, feeling strong enough to issue a public declaration of war on America. In February 1998, in a London-based Arabic newspaper, Al-Quds al-Arabi, he published his infamous fatwa exhorting Muslims to "kill the Americans and plunder their money." Six months later, in August 1998, al Qaeda finally went ahead with its long-planned bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Bin Laden was back in the saddle, and over the next three years he shaped al Qaeda into the global monster that finally struck on American soil. His total costs, by the estimates of the 9/11 Commission report, ran to tens of millions of dollars. Even for a terrorist beloved of extremist donors, that's a pretty good chunk of change.
The commission report says bin Laden got his money from sources such as a "core group of financial facilitators" in the Gulf states, especially corrupt charities. But the report concludes: "To date, we have not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attack. Al Qaeda had many sources of funding and a pre-9/11 annual budget estimated at $30 million. If a particular source of funds had dried up, al Qaeda could easily have found enough money elsewhere to fund the attack."
Elsewhere? One obvious "elsewhere" that no one seems to have seriously considered was Saddam's secret geyser of money, gushing from the so-called Oil-for-Food program. That possibility is not discussed in the 9/11 report, and apparently it was not included in the investigation. A 9/11 Commission spokesman confirms that the commission did not request Oil-for-Food documentation from the U.N., and none was offered.
Why look at Oil-for-Food? Well, let's review a little more history. When Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990, the U.N. imposed sanctions, which remained in place until 2003, when the United States and its allies finally toppled Saddam. But in 1996, with the aim of providing for the people of Iraq while still containing Saddam, the U.N. began running its Oil-for-Food relief program for Iraq. Under terms agreed to by the U.N., Saddam got to sell oil to buy such humanitarian supplies as food and medicine, to be rationed to the Iraqi population. But the terms were hugely in Saddam's favor. The U.N. let Saddam choose his own business partners, kept the details of his deals confidential, and while watching for weapons-related goods did not, as it turns out, exercise much serious financial oversight. Saddam turned this setup to his own advantage, fiddling prices on contracts with his hand-picked partners, and smuggling out oil pumped under U.N. supervision with U.N.-approved new equipment. Thus did we arrive at the recent General Accounting Office estimate that under Oil-for-Food, despite sanctions, Saddam managed to skim and smuggle for himself more than $10 billion out of oil sales meant for relief.
And the timing gets interesting, especially the year 1998. Not only was that the year in which bin Laden signaled his big comeback in Afghanistan. It was also the year in which Oil-for-Food jelled into a reliable vehicle for Saddam's scams, a source of enormous, illicit income.
Oil-for-Food was set up as a limited and temporary measure, starting operations in late 1996 with somewhat ad hoc administration by the U.N., and a mandate that had to be renewed by the Security Council every six months or so. Less than a year into the program, however, on October 15, 1997, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan consolidated Oil-for-Food into what was effectively a permanent U.N. department--the Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP)--headed by a long-serving U.N. official, Benon Sevan. The Security Council still had to renew the mandate twice a year, but the process became routine.
Saddam began pushing the envelope, and it was quickly clear he could get away with a lot. Just two weeks after Annan set up the OIP, Saddam imposed conditions on the U.N. weapons inspectors that made it impossible for them to operate. Instead of shutting down Oil-for-Food, Annan on February 1, 1998, urged the Security Council to more than double the amount of oil Saddam was allowed to sell, a prelude to letting Iraq import oil equipment to increase production. Annan then flew to Baghdad to reason with Saddam, and on February 23, 1998 (having met in one of those palaces built under sanctions), Annan and Saddam reached an agreement that for at least a while allowed the weapons inspectors to return.
It was a busy time for al Qaeda as well. That same day, February 23, 1998, Osama bin Laden published his "Kill the Americans" fatwa. An intriguing feature of this fatwa was its prominent mention of Iraq, not just once, but four times. Analysts at the CIA and elsewhere have long propounded the theory that secular Saddam and religious Osama would not have wanted to work together. But Saddam's secular style seemed to bother bin Laden not a whit.
His fatwa presented three basic complaints. Mainly, he deplored the infidel presence in Saudi Arabia (i.e., the U.S. troops stationed there during and after the Gulf War). He also cited grievances about Jerusalem, while not even bothering to mention the Palestinians by name. The rest of his attention, bin Laden devoted to Iraq and "the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people" as well as "the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance" and--here is the specific reference to U.S.-led sanctions--"the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war."
Two paragraphs later, bin Laden picked up this theme again, calling Iraq the "strongest neighboring Arab state" of Saudi Arabia, and then citing Iraq, yet again, as first on a list of four states threatened by America--the other three being Saudi Arabia (bin Laden's old home and a big source of terrorist funding), Egypt (birthplace of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood and of bin Laden's top lieutenant, Ayman al Zawahiri, who also signed the fatwa), and Sudan (bin Laden's former base).
UNTIL 1998, Iraq had not loomed large in bin Laden's rants. Why, then, such stress on Iraq, at that particular moment, in declaring war on America? It is certainly possible that bin Laden simply figured Iraq had become another good selling point, a handy way to whip up anger at the United States. But it is at least intriguing that the month after bin Laden's fatwa, in March 1998, as the 9/11 Commission reports, two al Qaeda members visited Baghdad. And in July 1998, "an Iraqi delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet first with the Taliban and then with bin Laden."
Later in 1998, Saddam kicked out the weapons inspectors, and he would keep them out for the following four years. The U.N. in 1999 lifted the ceiling entirely on Saddam's oil exports and expanded the range of goods he could buy. It would keep his deals confidential to the end, and it let Saddam do business with scores of companies in such graft-friendly climes as Russia and Nigeria, as well as such terrorist-sponsoring places as Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Sudan, and such financial hideouts as Liechtenstein, Panama, Cyprus, and Switzerland.
Much of Saddam's illicit Oil-for-Food money has yet to be traced. There are now at least eight official investigations into various aspects of Oil-for-Food, but none so far that combines adequate staffing and access with a focus on Oil-for-Food itself as the little black book of Saddam's possible terrorist links. The same kind of bureaucratic walls that once blocked our own intelligence community from nabbing al Qaeda are here compounded by the problem that Oil-for-Food was not a U.S. program, but on U.N. turf. And though the U.N. is the keeper of many of the records, Kofi Annan has displayed no interest in investigating the possibility that Oil-for-Food might have funded terrorists. Nor has the Bush administration pursued the matter with the speed and terrorist-tracking expertise it deserves. Millions of documents believed to contain details of Saddam's Oil-for-Food deals, quite likely including leads to his illicit side deals, are reportedly locked up in Baghdad, socked away there by Paul Bremer this past spring, awaiting an audit from Ernst & Young that is just now getting underway--and not necessarily focused on possible terrorist ties. The U.N.'s own investigation, led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, seems interested mainly in the U.N. itself. Various congressional investigators who, unlike the 9/11 Commission, are looking at Oil-for-Food, have had a hard time prying even the most basic documents out of the U.N.
The U.S. Treasury Department, in its hunt for Saddam's assets, is not looking specifically at Oil-for-Food, but has provided some of the most telling snippets of information. In April of this year, Treasury released a list of Saddam front companies its investigation has so far uncovered, including a major Oil-for-Food contractor in the UAE, Dubai-based Al Wasel & Babel. Along with trying to procure a sophisticated surface-to-air missile system for Saddam, Al Wasel & Babel did hundreds of millions' worth of business with Baghdad under Oil-for-Food, and was just one of some 75 contractors authorized by the U.N. to deal with Saddam out of the UAE. (As it happens, the 9/11 Commission found that some of the hijackers' funding flowed through the UAE, but working backward from the al Qaeda end, the trail eventually vanishes.)
But enough of facts. Let's return to the realm of possibility. Imagine:
From about 1998 on, Oil-for-Food became Saddam's financial network, a system he gamed to produce huge amounts of illicit income, in partnership with folks who helped him hide and spend it. If some of that money was going to al Qaeda while Saddam was in power, it may still be serving as a terrorist resource today. Amid all the consternation over missed signals and poor coordination leading up to September 11, is it too much to ask that someone versed in terrorist finances, and able to access both the U.N. Oil-for-Food records and the documents squirreled away in Baghdad, take a look--an urgent, detailed, systematic look--at whether Saddam via his Oil-for-Food scams sent money to al Qaeda?
For such a deal, both Saddam and bin Laden had motive and opportunity. And if you read bin Laden's 1998 fatwa with just a little bit of imagination, those mentions of Iraq, at that particular moment, in those particular ways, carry a strong whiff of what is known in our own society as product placement: a message from a sponsor.
Claudia Rosett is journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a columnist for
? Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

Elaborate Qaeda Network Hid 2 Captives in Pakistan
LAHORE, Pakistan, Aug. 2 - In mid-May, a C.I.A. expert on Al Qaeda briefed Pakistani law enforcement officials on the existence of an elusive operative who was said to be eager to attack Americans, according to a Pakistani intelligence official. Nearly two months later, Pakistani officials traced him to the port city of Karachi and then here.
On July 13, they made an arrest in the case, picking up Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, a 25-year-old computer engineer, when he went to the airport to collect a package from his father.
Pakistani officials say the arrest of Mr. Khan led officials to Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian operative of Al Qaeda who is accused of involvement in the bombings of American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and who was one of the F.B.I.'s 22 most-wanted terrorists. Mr. Ghailani was arrested July 25 in the small eastern city of Gujrat, where he had slipped in about six weeks earlier, according to the city's police chief, Raja Munawar Hussain.
The exposure of the two men, one an experienced foreign operative and the other a young Pakistani who is thought to have passed messages for Al Qaeda, illustrates how senior members of the terrorist network, possibly even Osama bin Laden, continue to successfully hide in Pakistan. Both men appear to have been part of what senior Pakistani officials describe as an elaborate and well-equipped underground network the group has established in this country, a critical American ally in fighting terrorism.
Statements by Mr. Khan about his travels and activities also appear to confirm long-running suspicions that foreign members of Al Qaeda have been able to safely operate from Pakistan's remote tribal areas for at least the past 18 months.
It is not yet clear whether Mr. Ghailani was living in the tribal areas before his move about six weeks ago to Gujrat. Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hyat said only that Mr. Ghailani had been successfully hiding in another part of Pakistan "for some time," without providing details.
But in Gujrat, at least, Mr. Ghailani managed to live in comfort with Pakistani help. He lived in a spacious two-story home in a middle-class neighborhood, apparently without raising suspicions in the local police force.
During Mr. Ghailani's time in Gujrat, a young Pakistani man lived in the house with him, apparently buying food and supplies from a nearby market and allowing the fugitive, a black African, to remain inside and go unnoticed, according to Mr. Hussain, the police chief.
Mr. Hussain, who suspended 64 local patrolmen and senior officers for negligence after Mr. Ghailani was arrested, said his officers had received no reports of unusual activity in the neighborhood. The police chief said he was alerted to the presence of a foreign terrorist only when he received an urgent phone call from Pakistani intelligence officials the night of July 24.
After a 16-hour gun battle, Mr. Ghailani, two South African men, three women, five children and a Pakistani surrendered the morning of July 25. Inside the house, the police found two laptop computers, two foreign passports in Mr. Ghailani's name, two satellite phones, maps and chemicals, Mr. Hussain said.
Mr. Khan would have had no trouble blending in. He is from a middle-class religious family in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city. The family lives on the first floor of a two-story house in a middle-class housing complex in the heart of the city. The house is situated near a madrasa, a mosque and a house where a small religious school for women is held.
His father, Noor Khan, an employee of the state airline, said Monday that his son had not been living with him for two and a half years, so he did not know what he had been doing or where he had been living.
"Today's offspring don't care about parents, so Naeem was living separately," he added. He said he did not even know whether his son had been arrested.
Mr. Khan told his interrogators that at a wedding in the 1990's, he met a Saudi man who introduced him to people who eventually sent him to a training camp for militants in Afghanistan, according to a Pakistani intelligence official.
Later, Mr. Khan said, a man he met with in Pakistan's tribal areas, an isolated region near the border with Afghanistan, introduced him to another man who eventually became his Qaeda handler. He dealt with that man's e-mail messages, and became part of an elaborate network for transmitting messages across Pakistan and then posting them in coded e-mail messages or on the Web.
Mr. Khan described several meetings with men believed to be Qaeda operatives - including one in January 2003 in Karachi, and one in July 2003 in the tribal areas, the intelligence official said.
The tribal areas have long been suspected of being a safe haven for members of Al Qaeda, including Mr. bin Laden. American soldiers say the region is used as a staging area for attacks on American forces in Afghanistan.
Mr. Khan told investigators that Qaeda leaders met in the Shakai Valley in the South Waziristan Tribal Agency. Pakistan's military has identified the valley as a stronghold for hundreds of foreign militants, officials say, and Pakistani forces have said they have bombed an important terrorist training facility and meeting center there.
Terrorist attacks carried out since January 2002 also have been linked to the tribal areas. Explosives used in one of two failed assassination attempts on President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan were purchased in the Khurram Tribal Agency there, according to the intelligence official.
An investigator who worked on the disappearance of the American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 in Karachi also said phone records showed that his kidnappers had called the town of Wana in South Waziristan three times.
The failure of Pakistan to act in the tribal areas until recently has led some Pakistani and American analysts to question the seriousness of General Musharraf's efforts, but Pakistani officials insisted Monday that the two recent arrests were evidence of their commitment and success in fighting terrorism.
Amy Waldman reported from Lahore for this article, and Salman Masood from Gujrat. Mohammed Khan contributed reporting from Peshawar, and Zulfiqar Shah from Karachi.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company


Russian parliament votes on controversial social reform
MARIA DANILOVA, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, August 3, 2004
(08-03) 11:25 PDT MOSCOW (AP) --
Russia's pro-Kremlin parliament on Tuesday backed a bill that would replace benefits such as subsidized transportation and medicine with cash payments, dismantling remnants of the Soviet welfare state and affecting millions of vulnerable citizens, including war veterans and pensioners.
The proposed legislation is part of the unpopular and potentially painful reforms President Vladimir Putin has promised to tackle during his second term. It has sparked criticism across Russia, with nearly daily protests in Moscow last week and several rallies held in dozens of Russia's far-flung regions over the past month.
The State Duma supported the bill Tuesday in a 304-120 vote, with one abstention, and was expected to pass it in a final vote Thursday. The bill then must be approved by the upper house, which is also obedient to the Kremlin, before it goes to Putin for his signature.
Advocates of the government-backed bill say substituting cash for benefits will make aid more accurately targeted -- arguing, for example, that public transportation is scarce in rural areas and supplies of subsidized medicines are short. They also say it will put people less at the mercy of the country's laborious bureaucracy.
But opponents of the bill -- which affects over 30 million of the neediest Russians, more than one-fifth of the population -- say the proposed payments, which start at $5 a month, will be eaten away quickly by inflation and will not be paid in full by regional authorities. They also say some privileges, such as job guarantees for the disabled, are not subject to any monetary compensation.
"It's incompatible -- what they are giving and what they are taking away from us," said Mikhail Novikov, an activist for the disabled. He added that the monthly payment of some $35 he would be entitled to won't come close to covering needs such as medicines, regular medical care and sanatorium stays.
While lawmakers debated the bill, activists staged new protests in the vicinity of the Duma, which was cordoned off by police. Several young members of the liberal Yabloko party wrapped themselves in white bandages to resemble mummies and pinned notes on their bodies saying: "This is what we will become after they ban the benefits."
Tamara Kondratyeva, a 76-year-old retiree, who has to survive on an $85 monthly pension said she doesn't know how to make ends meet if free transportation and medical care are canceled.
"It really hurts. We tried so hard to beat those Germans (in World War II) and now they (the Russian authorities) are destroying us," Kondratyeva said bitterly.
Injured veterans of the war would receive a monthly payment of $53 under the law, Russian news agencies reported.
"This is what happens when you have a one-party parliament," independent lawmaker Svetlana Goryacheva told reporters Tuesday. The main pro-Kremlin party, United Russia, swept December parliamentary elections and now dominates the Duma, holding more than two-thirds of its 450 seats.
Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov, of United Russia, said in televised comments Tuesday that he "was deeply convinced" that the situation for citizens now entitled to benefits "will significantly improve" with the new law.
But lawmakers outside United Russia lambasted the bill.
"Scientists first experiment on animals. But our government is experimenting on people, on the whole country," said Gennady Seleznyov, an ex-Communist and former Duma speaker who now is an independent lawmaker.


Paul R. Pillar
Counterterrorism after
Al Qaeda
? 2004 by The Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology
The Washington Quarterly * 27:3 pp. 101-113.
Paul R. Pillar is a former deputy chief of the Central Intelligence Agency's Counterterrorist Center and author of Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy. The views in this article are theauthor's own. The fight against Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda, the principal terrorist menace to U.S. interests since the mid-1990s, has come a long way. The disciplined, centralized organization that carried out the September 11attacks is no more. Most of the group's senior and midlevel leaders are either incarcerated or dead, while the majority of those still at large are on the run and focused at least as much on survival as on offensive operations. BinLaden and his senior deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, have survived to this point but have been kept on the run and in hiding, impairing their command and control of what remains of the organization. Al Qaeda still has the capacityto inflict lethal damage, but the key challenges for current counterterrorism efforts are not as much Al Qaeda as what will follow Al Qaeda. This emerging primary terrorist threat has much in common with Al Qaeda in that it involves the same global network of mostly Sunni Islamic extremists of which bin Laden has been the best known voice. "Al Qaeda" is often broadly applied to the entire terrorist network that threatens U.S. interests although, in fact, the network extends beyond members of this particular organization. The roots of this brand of extremism, if not its most visible advocates and centralized structure, remain very much alive and in some cases are growing deeper. They include the closed economic and political systems in much of the Muslim world that deny many young adults the opportunity to build better lives for themselves and, often, the political representation to voice their grievances peacefully over the lack of such opportunity. Among other lasting causal factors behind the rise of Islamist terrorism are the paucity of credible alternatives to militant Islam as vehicles of
l Paul R. Pillar
opposition to the established order as well as widespread opposition toward U.S. policies within and toward the Muslim world, especially the U.S. position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, more recently, the invasion and occupation of Iraq. In short, even with Al Qaeda waning, the larger terrorist threat from radical Islamists is not. That radical Islamist threat will come from an eclectic array of groups, cells, and individuals. Those fragments of Al Qaeda that continue to carry on bin Laden's malevolent cause and operate under local leaders as central direction weakens will remain part of the mix. Also increasinglypart of the greater terrorist network are like-minded but nameless groups associatedwith Al Qaeda, such as the Middle Eastern organization headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and regionally based groups with established identities such as the Iraq-centered Ansar al- Islam and the Southeast Asian Jemaah Islamiya. Many of these groups have local objectives but share the transnational anti-Americanism of the larger network. Finally, individuals best labeled simply as jihadists, who carry no group membership card but move through and draw support from the global network of likeminded radical Islamists, are also part of the picture. From their ranks, some will likely emerge with the leadership skills needed to organize operational cells and conduct terrorist attacks. In a word, the transformation of the terrorist threat from the Al Qaeda of September 11, 2001, to the mixture described above is one of decentralization. The initiative, direction, and support for anti-U.S. terrorism will come from more, and more widely scattered, locations than it did before. Although the breaking up of Al Qaeda lessens but does not eliminate the risks posed by particularly large, well-organized, and well-financed terrorist operations, the decentralization of the threat poses offsetting problems for collecting and analyzing related intelligence, enlisting foreign support to counter it, and sustaining the United States' own commitment to combat it while avoiding further damage to U.S. relations with the Muslim world. For these reasons, the counterterrorism challenges after the defeat of Al Qaeda may very well be even more complex than they were before. Uncertain Targets for Intelligence The small, secretive nature of terrorist plots and the indeterminate nature of the target--likely to become an even greater problem as the Islamic ter-
The centralized
organization that carried out the September 11 attacks is no more. THE WASHINGTON QUARTERLY SUMMER 2004 Counterterrorism after Al Qaeda l 103 rorist threat further decentralizes--have always made terrorism a particularly difficult target subject. The mission of intelligence in counterterrorism is not only to monitor known terrorists and terrorist groups but also to uncover any individuals or groups who might conduct a terrorist attack against the United States and its interests. The greater the number of independent actors and centers of terrorist planning and operations, the more difficult that mission becomes. Exhortations to the intelligence community to penetrate terrorist groups are useless if the groups that need to be penetrated have not even been identified. The U.S. intelligence community's experience a decade ago may help it adjust to the transformation currently underway. Prior to the 1993 World Trade Center (WTC) bombing, the terrorist threat against the United States was thought of chiefly in terms of known, named, discrete groups such as the Lebanese Hizballah. The principal analytical challenges involved identifying the structure and strength of each group as well as making sense of the pseudonymous "claim names" commonly used to assume responsibility for attacks. The 1993 WTC bombing and the subsequent rolled-up plot to bomb several other New York City landmarks introduced the concept of ad hoc terrorists: nameless cells of radicals who come together for the sole purpose of carrying out a specific attack. The term "ad hoc" was subsequently discarded as too casual and as not reflecting the links to the wider network that intelligence work through the mid-1990s gradually uncovered. Even with those links, however, the New York plots were examples of a decentralized threat in that they were evidently initiated locally. As demonstrated by the shoestring budget on which the 1993 WTC bombers operated, the plots were not directed and financed by bin Laden from a lair in Sudan or South Asia but rather by the operation's ringleader, Ramzi Yousef, and his still unknown financial patrons. Now, in 2004, with Al Qaeda having risen and mostly fallen, the threats that U.S. intelligence must monitor in the current decade have in a sense returned to what existed in the early 1990s; only now the threat has many more moving parts, more geographically disparate operations, and more ideological momentum. Much, though not all, of the intelligence community's counterterrorism efforts over the past several years can be applied to the increasingly decentralized threat the world now faces. Even the intelligence work narrowly focused on Al Qaeda has unearthed many leads and links, involving anything from telephone calls to shared apartments, that are useful in uncovering Even with Al Qaeda waning, the larger terrorist threat from radical Islamists is not. l Paul R. Pillar THE WASHINGTON QUARTERLY SUMMER 2004 104 other possible centers of terrorist planning and operations. These links are central to intelligence counterterrorism efforts because linkages with known terrorists can uncover other individuals who may be terrorists themselves. Most successful U.S. efforts to disrupt terrorist organizations in the past, including the capture of most of the Al Qaeda leadership since September 11, 2001, have resulted from such link analysis. The danger now lies in the fact that the looser the operational connections become and the less Islamist terrorism is instigated by a single figure, the harder it will be to uncover exploitable links and the more likely that the instigators of future terrorist attacks will escape the notice of U.S. intelligence. In a more decentralized network, these individuals will go unnoticed not because data on analysts' screens are misinterpreted but because they will never appear on those screens in the first place. The September 11 plot helps to illustrate the point. Retrospective inquiries have given a great deal of attention to the tardiness in placing two of the hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, on U.S. government watch lists. Had these individuals been identified, they might have been prevented from entering the United States and launching the attack. Ironically, less attention has been paid to what made al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi candidates for a watch list in the first place: their participation in a meeting with an AlQaeda operative in Kuala Lumpur. U.S. intelligence acquired information about the meeting by piecing together Al Qaeda's activities in the Far East and by developing rosters of Al Qaeda intermediaries whose activities could be tracked to gain information that would provide new leads. Although skillful and creative intelligence work, it relied on linkages to a known terrorist group, Al Qaeda--linkages that existed because bin Laden and senior Al Qaeda leadership in South Asia ultimately directed and financed the terrorist operation in question. A decentralized version of the threat will not necessarily leave such a trail. Muhammad Atta and some of the other September 11 hijackers were never even considered candidates for the watch lists because intelligence reporting had not previously associated them with known terrorists. In fact, one of Al Qaeda's criteria for selecting the hijackers almost certainly was that they were relatively clean, in that they did not have any such associations. In a more decentralized future network, such connections are even less likely. Yet, even a decentralized terrorist threat has some linkages that can be exploited, and this will be key to intelligence community counterterrorist ef- A decentralized terrorist threat will not necessarily leave an intelligence trail. THE WASHINGTON QUARTERLY SUMMER 2004 Counterterrorism after Al Qaeda l 105 forts from here on out. Within the networks of Sunni Islamic extremists, almost everyone can be linked at least indirectly, such as through their past common experiences in camps in Afghanistan, to almost everyone else. The overwhelming majority of these linkages, however, consists of only casual contacts and do not involve preparations for terrorist operations directed against the United States, as the meeting in Kuala Lumpur evidently did. No intelligence service has the resources to monitor all of these contacts, to compile the life history of every extremist who has the potential to become a terrorist, or to construct comprehensive sociograms of the radical Islamist scene. Detecting the perpetrators of the next terrorist attack against the United States will therefore have to go beyond link analysis and increasingly rely on other techniques for picking terrorists out of a crowd. Mining of financial, travel, and other data on personal actions and circumstances other than mere association with questionable individuals and groups1 is one such technique. The potential for such data mining goes well beyond current usage. Yet, data mining for counterterrorism purposes will always require a major investment in obtaining and manipulating the data in return for only a modest narrowing of the search for terrorists. Numerous practical difficulties in gaining access to personal information, significant privacy issues, and the lack of a reliable algorithm for processing the data all inhibit the effectiveness of this technique. The September 11 attacks, however, significantly lowered the threshold for all investments in counterterrorist operations, including data mining, making this technique worth trying even if it appears no more cost effective than it did before September 11, 2001. The Transportation Security Administration already uses profiling to screen air passengers; the intelligence community might reasonably extend this technique to include profiling of foreigners to identify possible terrorists even before they buy an airplane ticket. It is the U.S. population and the U.S. government, not the intelligence community, that will have to make the most important adjustment concerning intelligence operations. The reality is that they will have to lower their expectations of just how much of the burden of stopping terrorists that intelligencecan carry. An increasingly decentralized terrorist threat and indeterminate intelligence target will mean that an even greater number of terrorists and terrorist plots may escape the notice of intelligence services altogether. The transformation in the threat itself coupled with the inherent limits of intelligence operations implies that more of the counterterrorist burden will have to be borne by other policy instruments, from initiatives to address the reasons individuals gravitate toward terrorism in the first place to physical security measures to defeat attempted attacks. l Paul R. Pillar THE WASHINGTON QUARTERLY SUMMER 2004 106 Fragile International Cooperation The willingness of governments worldwide to join the campaign against terrorism has increased significantly over the last two decades--a welcome change from earlier days when many regimes, through their representatives at the United Nations General Assembly and elsewhere, were more apt to condone terrorism than to condemn it because of their support for "national liberation movements." The September 11 attacks further strengthened an apparent global antiterrorism consensus. This apparent collective commitment to counterterrorism should not be taken for granted. Despite many governments' declarations that they stand with the United States in combating terrorism, each decision by a foreign government on whether to cooperate with the United States reflects calculations about the threat that nation faces from particular terrorist groups, its relations with the United States, any incentives Washington offers for its cooperation, domestic opinion, and the potential effect of enhanced counterterrorist measures on its domestic interests. Such calculations can change, and the perceived net advantage of cooperating may be slim. In short, global cooperation against terrorism is already fragile. Much of foreign governments' willingness to help has depended on Al Qaeda's record and menacing capabilities. The sheer enormity of the September 11 attacks and the unprecedented impact they had on the U.S. government's priorities and policies have accounted for much of the increased willingness among foreign governments to assist in efforts to combat terrorism. The threat Al Qaeda has posed to some of the governments themselves, particularly the Saudi regime, also has helped the United States gain cooperation. The bombings in Riyadh in May and November 2003 were wake-up calls that partly nullified the numerous reasons for the Saudis' sluggishness in cracking down on Islamic extremists in their midst. Most of the victims of the November bombing were Arabs of modest means; this sloppy targeting undoubtedly cost Al Qaeda some of its support in the kingdom. Foreign cooperation will become more problematic as the issue moves beyond Al Qaeda. How will governments respond to a U.S. appeal to moveagainst groups that have never inflicted comparable horrors on the United States or on any other nation or against groups that do not conspicuously pose the kind of threat that Al Qaeda has posed to Saudi Arabia? How can regimes be motivated to tackle Islamic groups that may represent an emerging terrorist threat but have not yet resorted to terrorism, such as the Central Asian- based Hizb al-Tahrir? Without the special glue that the attacks of September 11 provide against a centralized and directed Al Qaeda, many of the past reasons for foot-dragging in counterterrorist efforts are likely to reassert themTHE WASHINGTON QUARTERLY SUMMER 2004 Counterterrorism after Al Qaeda l 107 selves. These reasons include the sympathy that governments or their populations feel for many of the anti-Western or anti-imperialist themes in whose name terrorists claim to act, an aversion to doing Washington's bidding against interests closer to home, and a general reluctance to rock local boats. Problems that the United States has already encountered in dealing with Lebanese Hizballah2 illustrate some of the difficulties in more generally enlisting foreign help against terrorist groups--even highly capable groups-- other than Al Qaeda. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage once called Hizballah the "A-team" of international terrorism;3 the group's 1983 bombing of U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut is second only to the events of September 11, 2001, in the number of American deaths attributable to a terrorist attack. Hizballah's terrorist apparatus, led by its longtime chief Imad Mughniyah, remains formidable today. The dominant view of Hizballah in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East, however, is that the group is a legitimate participant in Lebanese politics: the group holds seats in Parliament and provides social services within the country. Despite the events two decades ago in Lebanon, including other bombings and a series of kidnappings of Westerners, Hizballah's accepted political status has prevented U.S. officials from effectively appealing for cooperation against Hizballah in the way that the September 11 attacks have allowed them to appeal for cooperation against Al Qaeda. Notwithstanding the major potential terrorist threat it poses, Hizballah has not been clearly implicated in any attack on Americans since the bombing of Khobar Towers eight years ago.
An underlying limitation to foreign willingness to cooperate with the United States on antiterrorist efforts is the skepticism among foreign publics and even elites that the most powerful nation on the planet needs to be preoccupied with small bands of radicals. Even the depth of the trauma that the September 11 attacks caused the American public does not seem to be fully appreciated in many areas overseas, particularly in the Middle East. In addition,the skepticism is likely to be much greater when the U.S. preoccupation is no longer with the group that carried out the September 11 attacks. Any reduced foreign support for the campaign against terrorism will not be clear or sudden. Certainly, no foreign government will declare that it now supports the terrorists. Instead, foreign governments may be a little slower to act, a little less forthcoming with information, or slightly more apt to cite domestic impediments to cooperation. Whether counterterrorism coopera- Foreign cooperation will become more problematic as the issue moves beyond Al Qaeda.
l Paul R. Pillar
tion weakens, therefore, will rest largely on whether and how Washington responds to the concerns and needs of its foreign partners. As antiterrorist cooperation becomes increasingly more difficult to obtain and more vulnerable to frictions over other issues, sustaining such cooperation will require increased sensitivity to foreign interests.
Muslims' Suspicions
Skepticism and distrust among Muslims across the world about U.S. counterterrorist efforts have impeded international cooperation and may become an even bigger problem in the post-Al Qaeda era. With the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks disabled and Muslims--especially Muslims claiming to act in the name of their religion--still dominating international terrorism, Muslims will still dominate Washington's counterterrorist target list. This fact will continue to encourage questions about whether the socalled U.S. war on terrorism is really a war on Islam. Many Muslims will ask whether a sustained counterterrorist campaign has less to do with fighting terrorism than with maintaining the political status quo in countries withpro-U.S. regimes. Other Muslims will see the campaign as many already see it: as part of a religiously based war between the Muslim world and a Judeo-Christian West.
The "war on terrorism" terminology exacerbates this problem, partly because a war is most clearly understood as a war against somebody rather than a metaphorical war against a tactic. The fact that counterterrorist operations have been aimed primarily at a particular group, Al Qaeda, has minimized this problem thus far. The less the fight is conducted against a single named foe, the greater the problem of misinterpreting the term "war." The problem has been exacerbated by extension of the "war on terrorism" label to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Even though much of the violence that has plagued Iraq since the operation began is unmistakably attributable to terrorism, the U.S. government undertook the military operation in Iraq primarily for reasons other than counterterrorism, feeding Muslim misperceptions and fears that the United States also has ulterior motives every other time it talks about fighting terrorism.
Such perceptions among Muslims will strengthen the roots of the very Islamist terrorism that already poses the principal threat to U.S. interests. They will encourage a sense that the Muslim world as a whole is in a struggle with the Judeo-Christian West and foster a view of the United States as the chief adversary of Muslims worldwide. Given the fact that Islamist extremism is likely to continue to be the driving force behind significant terrorist threats to U.S. interests, fighting terrorism without the effort being perceived simply as a
THE WASHINGTON QUARTERLY SUMMER 2004 Counterterrorism after Al Qaeda l 109 war against Muslims may be a challenge that can only be lessened and not altogether avoided. President George W. Bush and senior U.S. officials have been careful to disavow any antipathy toward Muslims, which has helped to a certain extent. Most Muslims' attitudes will be shaped more by deeds than by words, however, which means that U.S. policies toward Iraq and the Arab- Israeli conflict in particular will be especially influential. Maintaining the Commitment The greatest future challenge to the U.S. counterterrorist efforts that may emerge with a more decentralized terrorist threat is the ability to sustain the country's own determination to fight it. The American public has shown that its commitment to counterterrorism can be just as fickle as that of foreign publics. Over the past quarter century, the U.S. population and government has given variable attention, priority, and resources to U.S. counterterrorist programs, with interest and efforts spiking in the aftermath of a major terrorist incident and declining as time passes without an attack. Important to keep in mind about the strong U.S. attention to counterterrorism during the last three years is that it took a disaster of the dimensions of September 11, 2001, to generate. Although intended to topple the twin towers and kill thousands, the 1993 WTC bombing sparked nothing near a similar amount of attention. Bin Laden and the prowess his group demonstrated with overseas attacks garnered full appreciation among U.S. government specialists of Al Qaeda's intentions and capabilities by at least the late1990s but still remained comparably unnoticed by the greater U.S. public and government. U.S. citizens and their elected leaders and representatives respond far more readily to dramatic events in their midst than to warnings and analysis about threatening events yet to occur. The further the events of September 11 fade into the past, the more difficult it will be to keep Americans focused on the danger posed by terrorism, especially that posed by terrorists other than the perpetrators of the WTC and Pentagon attacks.
The U.S. response to the March 2004 bombing of commuter trains in Madrid suggests how difficult it is to energize or reenergize Americans about counterterrorism. (Early investigation of the attack indicated that it wasalso a good example of the decentralized Islamist terrorist threat, being the work of Muslim radicals with only loose associations with Al Qaeda.) Commentary in the United States focused less on the continued potency of the global terrorist threat than on inter-allied differences over the Iraq war, with charges of "appeasement" leveled against Spanish voters for ousting the governing party in an election held three days after the attack. For most Americans, the difference between terrorism inside the United States and terrorism
l Paul R. Pillar
against even a close ally is huge, with only the former capable of boosting their commitment to counterterrorism.
Here again, the "war on terrorism" metaphor appears problematic. Americans tend to think in non-Clausewitzian terms, in which war and peace are markedly different and clearly separated states of being. War entails special sacrifices and rules that the United States does not want to endure in peacetime. Peace means demobilization, relaxation of the nation's guard, and a return to nonmartial pursuits. In U.S. history, in particular, peace has usually meant either victory or withdrawal and a rejection of the reasons for having gone to war in the first place, such as with the Vietnam War. Americans are not accustomedto the concept of a war that is necessary and waged with good reason but offers no prospect of ending with a clear peace and especially a clear victory.4 U.S. leaders have conveyed some of the right cautions to the public. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld correctly observed
that the war on terrorism will not end with a surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri.5 Attitudes in the United States, however, probably will be shaped less by such words of caution than by the historical conception of war and peace. Moreover, not having a clear end is not the same as having no end--and the latter is, for practical purposes, what the United States faces in countering terrorism during the years ahead.
In fact, an end, whether clear or not so clear, will be even more elusive in the fight against terrorism than it was during the Cold War. Though the Cold War did not conclude with the signing of any surrender agreement on a battleship, its end was nonetheless fairly distinct, highlighted by the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. It also entailed an indisputable victory for the West, achieved with the collapse of a single arch foe. Success in counterterrorism offers no such prospect.
The sense of being at war has been sustained thus far not only by war on terrorism rhetoric but also by certain practices that resemble those used in real shooting wars of the past, such as indefinite detention of prisoners without recourse to civilian courts. Although quite useful in mustering support for the invasion, the application of the "war on terrorism" label to the campaign in Iraq will compound the difficulty in sustaining domestic public support for counterterrorism in the post-Al Qaeda era. Even if the reconstruction and democratization of Iraq go well, the fact that this campaign will not
Skepticism and distrust among Muslims about the U.S. may become an even bigger problem.
Counterterrorism after Al Qaeda l
bring an end to anti-U.S. terrorist attacks elsewhere might lead many in the United States to question whether the sacrifices made in the name of fighting terrorists had been worthwhile. With so much attention having been paid to state sponsorship of terrorists, and to one (now eliminated) state sponsor in particular, further appeals to make still more sacrifices to defeat disparate and often nameless groups are apt to confuse many U.S. citizens.More specifically, an unfavorable outcome in Iraq would mean that the Bush administration could face an increase in skepticism about the credibility of warnings concerning threats to U.S. security, including terrorist threats. Meanwhile, the existence of a specific, recognizable, hated terrorist enemy has helped the U.S. population retain its focus. As long as Al Qaeda exists, even in its current, severely weakened form, it will serve that function. Yet, when will Al Qaeda be perceived as having ceased to exist? The group's demise will be nowhere near as clear as, say, the fall of a government.
For the U.S. public, the signal that terrorism has been eliminated as a threat is likely to be the death or capture of bin Laden. Americans tend to personalize their conflicts by concentrating their animosity on a single despised leader, a role that Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein played at different times in history. This personalized perspective often leads to an overestimation of the effect of taking out the hated leader, as if the conflict were a game of chess in which checkmate of the king ends the contest. The euphoria following Saddam's capture in December 2003 is an example. Bin Laden, although on the run since 2001, probably has played a role in Al Qaeda's operations almost as limited and indirect as Saddam's influence was on the Iraqi insurgency during his eight months in hiding. Yet, this is where any similarities with Iraq ends. The elimination of bin Laden, if followed by several months without another major Al Qaeda operation against the United States, would lead many in the United States to believe that the time had come to declare victory in the war on terrorism and move on to other concerns. Meanwhile, bin Laden's death would not end or even cripple the radical Islamist movement. Fragments of the organization are likely to spread, subdivide, and inject themselves into other parts of the worldwide Islamist network, like a metastasizing cancer that lives on with sometimes lethal effects even after the original tumor has been excised.
Context and Consequences
Any erosion in the U.S. commitment to counterterrorism that may occur in the years ahead will depend not only on popular perceptions (or misperceptions) of the terrorist threat but also on the broader policy environment in which national security decisions are made. Available resources constitute part of
l Paul R. Pillar
that environment. The resources devoted to counterterrorist operations may decline not because of a specific decision to reduce them but because any further reductions in spending for national security would reduce funds available for counterterrorism. Recent surges in both defense spending and budget deficits make some such reductions likely during the next several years. Departmental comptrollers seeking to spread the pain of those budget cuts will inflict pain on counterterrorist programs along with everything else.
Controversies over privacy and civil liberties constitute another part of the policy environment. The United States has already experienced a backlash against some provisions of the principal post-September 11 counterterrorist legislation, the USA PATRIOT Act. In the wake of the attacks, the U.S. government's investigative powers expanded in some ways that would have been unthinkable earlier. As the clear danger represented by Al Qaeda appears to recede, pressures to roll back those powers will increase.
Any diminution, for whatever combination of reasons, of the priority the United States gives to counterterrorist operations will have consequences that go well beyond specific counterterrorist programs. At home, the impact would be seen in everything from reduced vigilance by baggage screeners to less tolerance by citizens for the daily inconveniences brought about by stricter security measures. Abroad, a weaker commitment to counterterrorism on the part of the U.S. public would make it more difficult for U.S. diplomats to insist on cooperation from foreign governments.
How long any reduction of the U.S. commitment to counterterrorism lasts depends on how much time passes before the next major terrorist attack against U.S. interests, especially the next such attack on U.S. soil. Time, as always, is more on the side of the terrorist, whose patience and historical sense is greater than that of the average American. Americans' perception of the threat almost certainly will decline more rapidly than the threat itself.
The United States thus faces during the next several years an unfortunate combination of a possibly premature celebration along with a continuing and complicating terrorist threat. The counterterrorist successes against Al Qaeda thus far have been impressive and important, and the capture or death of bin Laden will unleash a popular reaction that probably will be nothing short of ecstatic. That joy could be a harmful diversion, however,
The greatest challenge will be the ability to sustain U.S. determination to fight terrorism.
Counterterrorism after Al Qaeda l
from attention that will be needed more than ever in the face of remaining problems: difficulty in cementing the counterterrorist cooperation of foreign partners, antagonism and alienation within the Muslim world that breeds more terrorists, and added complexity for intelligence services charged with tracking the threat.
The chief counterterrorist problem confronting U.S. leaders in the years ahead will be a variation on an old challenge: sustaining a national commitment to fighting terrorism even in the absence of a well-defined and clearly perceived danger. The demise of Al Qaeda will make the need for that commitmentless apparent to most U.S. citizens, even though the danger will persist in a different form. Political leaders will bear the heavy burden of instilling that commitment, and they will have to do so with analysis, education, and their powers of persuasion, not just with symbols and war cries. No doubt, that will be a very difficult task.
1. Paul R. Pillar, "Statement to Joint Inquiry of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence," Washington, D.C., October 8, 2002, (accessed March 20, 2004).
2. See Daniel Byman, "Should Hizballah Be Next?" Foreign Affairs 82, no. 6 (November/ December 2003): 54-66.
3. Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State, "Conditions Underlying Conflict Must Be Addressed, Armitage Says," September 5, 2002, (accessed March 20, 2004) (speech and question and answer session with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C., September 5, 2002).
4. One of the more thoughtful statements that looks to a "victory" against terrorism is found in Gabriel Schoenfeld, "Could September 11 Have Been Averted?" Commentary 112, no. 5 (December 2001): 21-29. See also Commentary 113, no. 2 (February 2002): 12-16 (subsequent correspondence about Schoenfeld's article).
5. Donald Rumsfeld, interview, Face the Nation, CBS, September 23, 2001.

Posted by maximpost at 11:07 PM EDT

U.S. sanctions Russian firm that traded missiles to Iran
Friday, July 30, 2004
The United States has imposed sanctions on a Russian defense contractor said to have traded missile and other advanced weaponry to Iran.
The State Department imposed sanctions on the Federal Research and Production Center. The sanctions, which took effect on July 22, came amid a U.S. determination that Federal Research proliferated missile technology.
"We will continue to work hard with the Russian government to prevent Russian entities from contributing to weapons of mass destruction, missile programs or conventional weapons programs of concern that could aid terrorists or threaten the United States or our friends and allies," a State Department statement said.
Officials said the sanctions on the Russian company would last for two years, Middle East Newsline reported. During that time, the United States or companies would be banned from exporting to or trading equipment or technology with Federal Research. The company was not known to have any business in the United States.
The research center is located in Biysk, in the province of Altai. The department did not cite which country received the missile technology from the Russian firm
But the State Department move was meant to have targeted Federal Research's trade with Iran, officials said. They said Iran has purchased missiles and components from the Russian defense firm for Teheran's Shihab-3 and Shihab-4 intermediate-range missile programs.
Russian officials and the company denied that that the research center traded with Iran. They said the center sold weapons components to India.
"The company observes all international obligations related to nonproliferation of missile and other technologies," Federal Research director-general Nikolai Tochilov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying. "In my view, these accusations are not substantiated."
Federal Research became the seventh Russian firm under U.S. sanctions. They included the Baltic State Technical University of St. Petersburg, Glavkosmos of Moscow, the Moscow Aviation Institute and the D. Mendeleyev University of Chemical Technology of Russia.
Two of the firms were accused of transferring weapons of mass destruction components to Iran. In April, the State Department lifted sanctions from six other Russian companies and a chemical weapons expert, Anatoly Kuntsevich.
The State Department's latest sanctions came as officials said Iran has sought to import deuterium gas from Russia. Deuterium gas, employed in heavy water reactors, was said to enhance the blast in nuclear explosions when combined with tritium. Russia has been the prime contractor of Iran's $1 billion nuclear power reactor at Bushehr.
Copyright ? 2004 East West Services, Inc.

Blame Europeans for our centrifuges, defiant Tehran says
From combined dispatches
TEHRAN -- A defiant Iran yesterday said it had resumed building nuclear centrifuges, saying the move was retaliation for the failure of three European powers to get its file closed at the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
The announcement by Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi hardened the lines between Iran and the United States, which has been pushing to take Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council.
Mr. Kharrazi told a press conference that Iran has not resumed enriching uranium but was manufacturing centrifuges in response to the failure in June of Britain, Germany and France to help close Iran's file of nuclear nonproliferation violations at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"We still continue suspension on uranium enrichment, meaning that we have not resumed enrichment," Mr. Kharrazi said. "
But we are not committed to another agreement with [Britain, Germany and France] on not building centrifuges."
Diplomats said this past week that Tehran had resumed building equipment used to make uranium hexaflouride which -- when processed in centrifuges -- can be enriched to low levels for power generation or high levels for nuclear weapons.
Officials from Iran and the European powers are meeting in Paris, seeking to reach a consensus on Tehran's nuclear program.
The EU "big three" have given no details of their meeting Thursday but U.S. officials say Iran told them it would not surrender its right to proceed with uranium enrichment.
"The British and the French tell us Iran insists it will not back down on its right to proceed with enrichment," a senior U.S. official in Washington said Friday.
Another U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters news agency that the Europeans were "not too happy" with the Iranian meeting.
"The EU three underscored their concerns and said [to the Iranians], 'Look, you're making a big mistake. You need to get back on the program,' " the U.S. official said.
"The fact that Iran just decided to back off its commitment took them by surprise and they weren't happy about it," he

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell warned Iran on Thursday that its case was increasingly likely to be referred to the

sanction-imposing U.N. Security Council for failing to meet IAEA commitments.
Mr. Kharrazi said such comments were part of pressure to deprive Iran of its legitimate right to peaceful nuclear

"We just want to produce fuel for our plants and we are not after nuclear weapons," he said.
Washington says Iran's nuclear program is a cover for seeking atomic weapons. It has been lobbying for the IAEA to refer

Iran's nuclear file to the Security Council, which could impose sanctions.
The Paris talks prepare the ground for a September meeting of the board of governors of the IAEA, which is expected to

discuss Iran's program.

Iran Says It Will No Longer Honor Nuclear Promises
Iranian Foreign Minister Kharrazi
31 July 2004 -- Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said today
Iran will no longer honor commitments to the EU on achieving
transparency in the Iranian nuclear program.
Kharrazi said Britain, France, and Germany, negotiating on behalf of
the EU, "have not fulfilled their commitments towards Iran," and
Tehran does not see "any obligations to stick to them."
He confirmed Iran had resumed making parts for centrifuges used for
enriching uranium, but said Tehran is still committed to a
suspension of enrichment.
In October last year Iran agreed with the three European nations to
halt certain aspects of its nuclear program. In return, the
Europeans pledged to help Iran resolve its problems with the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but judging that Iran had
not adequately cooperated, later sponsored a tough resolution
critical of Iran.
Officials from Iran and the three European states met in Paris this
week but issued no public statement.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty ? 2004 RFE/RL, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Contact us:
Iran Says It Resumes Building Nuclear Centrifuges
Sunday, August 1, 2004; 9:33 AM
By Parinoosh Arami
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said Saturday it had resumed building nuclear centrifuges, which Washington says are intended to

enrich uranium to weapons-grade for use in bombs.
Iran's decision backtracks from a pledge in October to the European Union's "big three" members -- Britain, France and

Germany -- to suspend all uranium enrichment-related activities.
"We have started building centrifuges," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told a news conference.
However he insisted Iran had not resumed enriching uranium, the key part of the process which can either produce fuel for

power stations or bomb material.
Iran had previously said it would restart making centrifuges to retaliate against a resolution from the U.N. nuclear watchdog

last month deploring Tehran's failure to co-operate fully with inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Diplomats say Iran has also restarted work at a uranium conversion facility near the central city of Isfahan. The plant turns

processed ore, or yellowcake, into uranium hexafluoride gas which is pumped into centrifuges to form enriched uranium.
The EU "big three" have given no details of their meeting in Paris Thursday but U.S. officials say Iran told them it would

not surrender its right to proceed with uranium enrichment.
"The British and the French tell us Iran insists it will not back down on its right to proceed with enrichment," a senior U.

S. official in Washington said Friday.
Another U.S. official, speaking anonymously, said the Europeans were "not too happy" with the Iranian meeting.
"The EU three underscored their concerns and said (to the Iranians), 'Look, you're making a big mistake. You need to get back

on the program'," the U.S. official said.
"The fact that Iran just decided to back off of its commitment took them by surprise and they weren't happy about it," he

The IAEA says the enrichment suspension was meant to cover both centrifuge construction and the uranium conversion plant.
However, Kharrazi gave assurances that Tehran had not resumed enriching uranium.
"Based on our agreements in October, we have accepted suspending uranium enrichment and we are continuing that suspension

based on our definition," he said.
Iran says enrichment activities only refer to the actual process of enriching uranium and argues it is free to continue work

on centrifuges and production of uranium hexafluoride gas.
It says the gas is then stored and not pumped into the centrifuges which spin at supersonic speed.
Iran insists it needs enriched uranium for power stations being built to meet booming domestic demand for electricity.
Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Iran Thursday that its case was increasingly likely to be referred to the sanction-

imposing U.N. Security Council for failing to meet IAEA commitments.
Kharrazi said such comments were part of pressure to deprive Iran of its legitimate right to peaceful nuclear technology.
"We just want to produce fuel for our plants and we are not after nuclear weapons," he said.
Washington says Iran's nuclear program is a cover for seeking atomic weapons.
(additional reporting by Carol Giacomo in Washington)
? 2004 Reuters
Iran Refuses to Give Up Uranium Enrichment
The Associated Press
Saturday, July 31, 2004; 2:38 PM
TEHRAN, Iran - A defiant Iran on Saturday said it had resumed building nuclear centrifuges, saying the move was retaliation

for the failure of three European powers to get its file closed at the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency.
The announcement by Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi hardened the lines between Iran and the United States, which has been

pushing to take Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council.
Kharrazi told a press conference that Iran has not resumed enriching uranium but was manufacturing centrifuges in response to

the failure in June of Britain, Germany and France to help close Iran's file of possible nuclear nonproliferation violations

at the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"We still continue suspension on uranium enrichment, meaning that we have not resumed enrichment," Kharrazi said. "But we are

not committed to another agreement with them (Britain, Germany and France) on not building centrifuges."
Diplomats said this week that Tehran had resumed building equipment used to make uranium hexaflouride which - when processed

in centrifuges - can be enriched to low levels for power generation or high levels for nuclear weapons.
In Paris talks, officials from Iran and the European powers are seeking to reach a consensus on Tehran's nuclear program.
Washington suspects Iran is using a civilian nuclear program as a cover for a secret nuclear weapons project. It has been

lobbying for the IAEA to refer Iran's nuclear file to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions.
The Paris talks prepare the ground for a September meeting of the board of governors of the IAEA, which is expected to

discuss Iran's program.
Kharrazi said the talks were designed to instill confidence that Iran is not seeking to make a nuclear weapon.
"We are holding these talks to reach further understanding and create more confidence in the direction that we are not

seeking nuclear weapons," he said. "At the same time, we will insist on our legitimate rights."
A prominent hard-line editor, Hossein Shariatmadari, wrote Saturday that the Paris talks may result in humiliation for Iran.
In an editorial in Kayhan, he predicted that America's European allies will produce a "silent overthrow" of the ruling

Islamic establishment in Iran, and that they would use the nuclear program as a lever to that end.
Shariatmadari is close to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters.
Government officials were not immediately available for comment on Shariatmadari's remarks.
Hard-liners have urged the government to defy the IAEA, expel U.N. inspectors and resume uranium enrichment. The government,

though, has taken a more moderate approach in the hope of avoiding international isolation.
Iran maintains its nuclear program is for electricity generation.
Iran suspended uranium enrichment last year under international pressure. In return, Britain, Germany and France promised to

make it easier for Iran to obtain advanced nuclear technology.
? 2004 The Associated Press

U.S. Defends Prospective Jordan Arms Deal
The Associated Press
Monday, August 2, 2004; 2:24 PM
WASHINGTON - The State Department defended a prospective deal to equip Jordan with high-tech air-to-air missiles and

cautioned Israel not to build 600 new homes at a large Jewish settlement on the West Bank alongside Jerusalem.
As Israel looks to Congress to block the deal to upgrade the firepower of Jordanian jets, department spokesman Adam Ereli

praised the Arab kingdom and said the United States would be careful to maintain Israel's military edge over the combined

forces of Arab nations.
"We certainly appreciate all that Jordan has done to contribute to regional stability, including its support for a stable,

secure and democratic Iraq, as well as its efforts to foster peace between Palestinians and Israel," he said in defense of a

weapons sale.
Jordan has fought alongside Arab nations in all the wars against Israel except the 1973 war. In 1996, under the late King

Hussein, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel.
This is the first time Israel has tried to prevent Jordan from buying U.S.-manufactured arms since the signing.
Ereli called the deal a potential one, and said the administration had not formally notified Congress of a plan to go ahead.
On another front, the State Department said the 600 housing units the Israeli defense minister has approved for Malleh Adumim

are a form of settlement activity that Israel promised to end when it approved a U.S.-backed road map for negotiations with

the Palestinians.
"We look forward to Israel abiding by that commitment and sticking by the road map," Ereli said.
Even expanding settlements to account for "natural growth" among the Jewish families that live on them is ruled out by the

road map, Ereli said.
American diplomats also have reminded Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that unauthorized outposts must be removed from the West

Bank, the spokesman said.
? 2004 The Associated Press

Israel helped U.S. probe of major Muslim foundation
Friday, July 30, 2004
FBI agents began arresting several officers of a major U.S. Islamic foundation on July 27, in the culmination of an investigation that U.S. government sources said was aided by Israel.
The sources said Israel provided the FBI and the Justice Department with records that traced the flow of funds from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development to Hamas operatives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
A U.S. federal grand jury issued a 42-count indictment that accused Holy Land founder and six leading officers and fundraisers with funneling $12.4 million to Hamas, deemed a terrorist organization by the State Department.
The sources said the documents included those captured by Israel's military from Hamas and Palestinian Authority facilities in 2002 and 2003.
Until 2002, the foundation was regarded as the leading Islamic charity in the United States. In late 2001, President George Bush froze the assets of Holy Land in wake of the Al Qaida suicide attacks on New York and Washington.
"They had rewarded past and future suicide bombings and terrorist activities on behalf of Hamas," Attorney General John Ashcroft said.
On July 27, FBI agents arrested Holy Land founder Shukri Abu Baker and other former executives in raids around Dallas, Texas. Mohammed El-Mezain, the foundation's director of endowments, was arrested near his home in the San Diego suburb of Scripps Ranch. Two others charged -- Haitham Maghawri and Akram Mishal -- were said to have fled the United States.
Abu Baker was said to have been an agent for Mussa Abu Marzouk, a member of Hamas's Political Bureau and now based in Damascus. In 1992, Abu Marzouk helped launch Holy Land with $200,000.
FBI executive assistant director for counterterrorism John Pistole did not cite Israeli help. But he said federal authorities obtained "critical assistance from our foreign allies and partners" in the investigation of the Holy Land Foundation.
The government sources said Israel has made significant strides in understanding the money flow to Hamas and other Palestinian insurgency groups. They said a milestone was the Israeli military raid of the Arab Bank in Ramallah in February 2004 in which Israeli security officers seized documents on thousands of accounts, including those aligned with Hamas.
The federal indictment asserted that Abu Baker and other Holy Land executives transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars from the charity's accounts in Texas to Hamas loyalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The indictment said the money flow -- used to pay operatives, inmates in Israeli prisons and the families of Hamas suicide bombers -- began in the 1990s and continued until the foundation's assets were frozen.
"In some cases, the defendants allegedly targeted financial aid specifically for families related to well-known Hamas terrorists who had been killed or jailed by the Israelis," the Justice Department said. "In this manner, the defendants effectively rewarded past, and encouraged future, suicide bombings and terrorist activities on behalf of Hamas."
The government sources said Israeli efforts against Palestinian insurgency financing began in 2002 after a military campaign in the West Bank turned up hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Authority and other documents that reported payments to Fatah and other operatives. The sources said Israeli authorities were urged by the United States to invest greater efforts in examining the money flow, particularly from foreign sources.
"In Israel we have over the last few years very much upgraded the way we track and deal with money transfers," Israeli embassy in Washington spokesman Mark Regev said
Copyright ? 2004 East West Services, Inc.

No Impropriety Found In Saudis' Exit Flights
By John Mintz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 24, 2004; Page A11
The Sept. 11 commission discounted a number of conspiracy theories that have been laid out in books, movies and magazine

articles asserting that the FBI and the Bush administration committed improprieties in allowing bin Laden family members and

other Saudis to jet back to their country in the days after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
In "Fahrenheit 9/11," filmmaker Michael Moore left the strong impression that the chartered bin Laden family flight, arranged

by the Saudi Embassy in Washington because of concerns for their safety, occurred while civil aviation was grounded after the

attacks. He also said the FBI did not properly interview the departing bin Ladens.
Author Craig Unger, in the book "House of Bush, House of Saud," also accused the FBI of only cursorily checking on bin Laden

family members before letting them fly out of the country on Sept. 20. In addition, he said that even though civil aviation

was allowed to resume on Sept. 13, 2001, federal authorities still limited the operation of private planes in this country,

and he raised suspicions about the approval for the bin Laden flight.
In their report, released Thursday, the commissioners found nothing amiss in U.S. officials' decision to allow the nine

chartered flights between Sept. 14 and 24 that carried 160 people, mostly Saudi nationals, to the desert kingdom. The report

also concluded that FBI officials properly interviewed almost all the bin Laden family members, who were on one flight that

departed Sept. 20, seven days after the grounding was lifted.
"We found no evidence that any flights of Saudi nationals . . . took place before the reopening of national airspace on the

morning of September 13," the commission said. It added that it found "no evidence of political intervention" to allow the

flights, noting that the highest-ranking official to sign off on them was then-White House counterterrorism chief Richard A.

"We believe that the FBI conducted a satisfactory screening of Saudi nationals who left the United States on charter

flights," the commission added. In details scattered over four pages of text and footnotes, the panel said the FBI

interviewed "all persons of interest" on the flights, concluded that none was connected to the attacks and has "found no

evidence to change that conclusion."
FBI officials kept close tabs on the Sept. 20 flight as it stopped in five U.S. cities to pick up bin Laden family members

before leaving for Saudi Arabia. Twenty-two of the 26 people on board were interviewed by the FBI, and "many were asked

detailed questions," the report said.
The bureau had more opportunity to get information from them than it ordinarily would have, the commission said, because the

U.S. government does not routinely run checks on foreigners leaving the country. Collecting them in one location was

fortunate for the FBI, because it could not have talked to them if they had simply left on regular commercial flights, it

Unger said he still thinks the FBI failed to adequately interview the bin Ladens and suspects that the Saudis received

special treatment because authorities had grounded some private planes during that same period.
Joanne Doroshow, an associate producer of "Fahrenheit 9/11," said Moore did not intend to suggest that the bin Ladens flew

away while civilian flights were grounded. She added that the filmmakers still harbor suspicions about the FBI interviews.
"We don't know who was interviewed and what questions were asked," she said.
? 2004 The Washington Post Company

Islamic groups hit curriculum at Saudi school
By Christina Bellantoni
Two Islamic groups say a private Saudi school in Alexandria is teaching first-graders an extreme version of Islam that

fosters contempt for other religions, a charge denied by the Saudi government, which creates curriculum for such schools.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a District-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, has joined

with the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism in calling for an Arabic textbook to be removed from classes at the Islamic

Saudi Academy.
One page in the manual for the first-grade textbook instructs teachers to tell students that any religion other than

Islam is false.
"These first-grade students are very impressionable," said Kamal Nawash, a Palestinian and practicing Muslim who runs the

six-month-old Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism.
"The extremist version of Islam encourages violence. We don't need to be teaching that anymore in this diverse world. We

need to teach people to get along."
The Islamic Saudi Academy referred inquiries to the Saudi Embassy, which dismissed Mr. Nawash's assertion as an attempt

to restart a failed political career.
Embassy spokesman Nail Al-Jubeir compared the textbook to any other religious teaching and said it was "shameful" of Mr.

Nawash "to be using this as a source of bigotry."
"They are making a big thing out of nothing," Mr. Al-Jubeir said. "If that's the only thing they have to bring up, how

pathetic the argument is. Judaism does not recognize Christ as the Messiah. Christians say the only way to salvation is

accepting Christ in your heart."
CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said the textbook page conflicts with the teachings in the Koran, which says Jews,

Christians and all "who believe in God" will "have their reward with their Lord."
"The [page of the] textbook is inaccurate in terms of portraying Islam's relationship with other faiths," Mr. Hooper

said. "I would suggest either removing the textbook or inserting a notation that something is being changed in the textbook."
Mr. Nawash began a campaign this week criticizing the school. CAIR studied the textbook page and backed his stance.
According to the academy's Web site, its educational curriculum and materials are established by the Saudi Ministry of

"We strive to educate and develop every aspect of a student's life, including spiritual, moral, intellectual, and

physical," the site states. "Simultaneously, the Academy aspires to create an atmosphere that motivates students to strive

for academic excellence, take personal responsibility, and become productive citizens in their communities."
A few years ago, Mr. Nawash said, the Saudi government revised 5 percent of its textbooks and classroom material

considered offensive. Mr. Nawash thought that the Islamic Saudi Academy's materials had been edited, but he found the

disputed page recently in the 2003 edition of the school's manual for first-grade teachers.
Mr. Al-Jubeir suggested that Mr. Nawash is taking advantage of recent attacks on Saudi Arabia by filmmaker Michael Moore

in "Fahrenheit 9/11" and by others. Mr. Al-Jubeir also suggested that Mr. Nawash is criticizing the school for political

Mr. Nawash, a Republican immigration lawyer from Falls Church, tried unsuccessfully to unseat state Sen. Mary Margaret

Whipple, Arlington Democrat, in 2003. He received 30 percent of the vote, and Mrs. Whipple was elected to a third term.
He also ran unsuccessfully for the state House of Delegates in 2001.
But Mr. Nawash said he has no intention of running for office again and that his only motive is to stop extremist

teaching that he fears will lead to terrorism.
"This is much more important, and it should have been done a long time ago. There is a strong movement of people pushing

extremist Islam that tolerates any means, including terrorism, to meet their goals," he said. "It's not a handful, it's a

worldwide uprising. ... We're not staying silent anymore."
This is not the first time Mr. Nawash has been under scrutiny.
His law firm once represented Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, a prominent U.S. Muslim leader who had a role in a Libyan

conspiracy to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Al-Amoudi on Friday pleaded guilty to illegal financial transactions

with Libya and admitted his role in the plot.
Al-Amoudi had donated $10,000 to Mr. Nawash's campaign for the state Senate. Mr. Nawash returned the donation.
When asked whether he was friends with al-Amoudi, Mr. Nawash refused to comment.
"I was part of a law firm that represented him," he said. "I can't really comment on that. One of the attorneys in the

firm represented him for a short time."
Al-Amoudi's current attorney, Stanley Cohen, said Mr. Nawash's firm has had "nothing to do" with the case for 10 months.
In defending his position, Mr. Hooper cited the teachings of the prophet Muhammad in the Hadiths: "Both in this world and

in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers

are different, but their religion is one."
*Jerry Seper contributed to this report.

Kuwait Bans 'Fahrenheit 9/11'
The Associated Press
Sunday, August 1, 2004; 10:39 PM
KUWAIT CITY - Kuwait, a major U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf, has banned Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" because it deems

the movie insulting to the Saudi Arabian royal family and critical of America's invasion of Iraq, an official said Sunday.
"We have a law that prohibits insulting friendly nations, and ties between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are special," Abdul-Aziz

Bou Dastour, cinema and production supervisor at the Information Ministry, told The Associated Press.
He said the film "insulted the Saudi royal family by saying they had common interests with the Bush family and that those

interests contradicted with the interests of the American people."
The ministry made the decision to bar "Fahrenheit 9/11" in mid-July after the state-owned Kuwait National Cinema Co. asked

for the license to show the movie. The company monopolizes cinemas in Kuwait, but all movies must first be sanctioned by

government censors.
"Fahrenheit 9/11," which won the top honor at May's Cannes Film Festival, depicts the White House as asleep at the wheel

before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington. Moore accuses President Bush of fanning fears of future

terrorism to win public support for the Iraq war.
The Saudi royal family has taken issue with the movie for claiming that high-ranking Saudi nationals were allowed to flee the

United States immediately after the attacks at a time when American airspace had been closed to all commercial traffic.
The 9/11 commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks found no evidence that any flights of Saudi nationals took place

before the reopening of national airspace on Sept 13.
Kuwait was the launch pad for the war that unseated Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who ordered the invasion of Kuwait 14

years ago. A U.S.-led coalition fought the first Gulf War, which evicted Iraqis after seven months of occupation.
Saudi Arabia, a leading Arab Muslim nation, opened its land and air space to coalition forces that liberated Kuwait, and

Kuwaitis are still grateful for that.
The film is already playing elsewhere in the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon.
? 2004 The Associated Press

We are a trillion times closer to Europe
By Neil Collins
(Filed: 02/08/2004)
Golly, what a lot of money. A trillion pounds is enough to make your head spin. How on earth will we ever repay it? The

simple answer is that we can't, and if we really set out to do so, the consequences would be little short of catastrophic.
Debt is one reason why capitalism works. It allows the younger, economically active members of the population to buy things

they cannot afford, while the interest rewards the owners of the capital, whose economically productive days are behind them.

Both sides benefit, so stop worrying about all those zeros in the headlines last week. There's no more significance to our

debt passing 1,000,000,000,000 than there is to your car passing 100,000 miles; properly maintained, there's no reason why it

shouldn't go on.
You noticed the little caveat, didn't you? Skimp on the maintenance, and the car breaks down. Skimp on servicing debt, and

your entire life breaks down. Interest becomes payable on the interest, and can swiftly overwhelm the unwary, which is why we

love to spook ourselves with the thought of all that debt overhanging us.
In fact, it's a lot less threatening than it looks. For a start, ?55 billion is on credit cards, and much of that isn't

borrowing at all in any meaningful sense. We use credit cards for convenience. Unless there's some special zero interest

deal, most of us pay off the balance on the card in full each month. That much, at least, of the trillion-pound debt mountain

merely reflects spending that might otherwise be paid for in cash or cheque.
The vast bulk of the money has gone, as you'd expect, on property - ?827 billion, according to the figures. The cash has

pumped up the housing market, and buyers have got sick of being told that it's all going to end in tears, only to see the

prices rise still further beyond their reach. No reader of The Daily Telegraph needs a rehearsal of the factors that have

driven the housing boom, and this week the Bank of England is almost certain to try to apply the brakes by raising interest

rates by another quarter-point.
A cheerful little analysis from Stephen Roach, economist at Morgan Stanley, speaks of a global property bubble, pumped up by

the ultra-low interest rates that followed the "deflation scare" (remember that?) of early 2003. He puts Britain second only

to Australia in his estimate of how bubbly, so to speak, our housing market has become. Not that the Brits and Aussies are

the only ones blowing bubbles - he reckons that home values in countries representing two thirds of the world's economy are

either overheating or in danger of doing so.
Rather than sell up and move into a caravan, the smart British buyer might look to see which parts of the world are excluded.

He won't have to look far. House prices in euroland are still pretty reasonable - by British standards, they are often

laughably cheap. A few hours from the Channel Tunnel, and not only are the food and weather better, but property prices seem

stuck in the early 1990s.
The growth of cheap air travel is producing pockets of British-owned real estate all over Europe. Small farmers, exhausted by

the unequal struggle with EU regulations, are happy to sell their dilapidated, pretty houses to the mad English, and move

into some ugly but comfortable eurobox.
Overseas is where a small, but rapidly increasing proportion of the cash raised from that trillion pounds of debt is going,

and is another reason not to worry. Britain used to have an unexploited source of foreign exchange under the North Sea; now

that the oil is beginning to run down, we can see that we haven't wasted it after all. The dollars have gone into buying

assets abroad, from shares in foreign companies for the pension funds, to continental homes for the middle classes.

Considering that much of the North Sea output was sold when oil prices in real terms were a lot higher even than they are

today, it's a satisfactory trade.
Which brings us to Abbey National. As its 1.7 million shareholders know, it's likely to be taken over by a Spanish bank

called Santander. They are being offered Spanish shares which they won't want, and on pretty measly terms, too. The

interesting thing about this takeover, though, is the potential for a British high street bank to have a direct line into the

Spanish housing market.
Just think of the possibilities. Locate an Abbey branch (they are hard to spot in the high street since the bank's new

management dispensed with the National, along with its familiar red and white roof symbol, and paid a fortune for some fuzzy,

khaki-coloured new logo) and they'll arrange the mortgage, on the finest terms, to buy into
Little Britain in Marbella. Being big and local, Santander will be able to help you avoid those Spanish property horror

stories. It claims to like its retail customers, unlike the British banks.
A fantasy? Perhaps. There's no evidence that Santander's thinking has got beyond a perverse enthusiasm to get into the

crowded British banking market, but Spanish mortgages and euro accounts offered through the Abbey seem obvious next steps.

Our appetite for property is likely to survive a modest fall in prices, and as Labour turns up the tax heat under the middle

classes, a foreign bolthole becomes ever more appealing.
We may hate the idea of joining the single currency, or the empty political mantra about being at the heart of Europe (as if

Brussels could ever be the heart of anywhere) but when it comes to voting with our own money, a trillion pounds says the

British are the biggest buyers of europroperty. You might call it Ever Closer Union with Europe.
? Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004.
Kyodo: China Wants Nuclear Talks in August
VOA News
02 Aug 2004, 10:37 UTC
Japan's Kyodo news agency says China has asked parties to six-way nuclear talks about the possibility of holding working-

level discussions August 17 to 20.
The news agency quotes sources close to the talks who say they would be held in Beijing, where three other rounds of high-

level talks have taken place without much progress. Participants are trying to find a solution to the controversy over North

Korea's nuclear development program.
Neither Japanese nor Chinese officials have confirmed the report, which comes as China's special envoy on North Korea began

discussions in South Korea on new six-way talks. Ning Fukui met with his South Korean counterpart Cho Tae-yong to fine-tune

an agenda for the planned discussions.
Japan, China, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States agreed in June at the last round of talks in Beijing to meet again

by the end of September.
Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.

Asia Pacific North Korea Reportedly Suffers Severe Crop Damage
Steve Herman
02 Aug 2004, 11:51 UTC
Listen to Steve Herman's report (RealAudio)
Herman report - Download 267k (RealAudio)
North Korea's official news agency, in a rare report on a natural disaster, is warning of severe damage to crops in the

impoverished country from torrential rains last month.
The Korean Central News Agency says heavy rains have swamped at least 100,000 hectares of cropland and more than a 1,000

homes have been flooded, mainly in the southern and central part of the country.
That would be about four percent of North Korea's arable land.
The state-run news agency adds the damaged fields are unlikely to produce a crop this year.
International aid organizations in Pyongyang, as well as officials in Seoul, said that as of Monday, they had not been asked

for additional help by the North.
Richard Ragan, director of the World Food Program's office in Pyongyang, says North Korea's early wheat and barley crop

received too much rain right before the harvest.
"What may be impacted most significantly at this point is the seed crop - what they would use for planting material next

year," he said.
UNICEF representative Pierrette Vuthi in Pyongyang traveled to the northern part of the country last week where the situation

appears not to be as dire.
"There were some roads that were cut off but it wasn't major flooding because the fields looked good," said Mr. Vuthi. "I'm

not aware of any major flooding in the south of the country because I haven't been there and I haven't heard of a major flood

Mr. Ragan says North Korea is becoming more open about reporting disasters, and this latest dispatch means "there could

certainly be a significant problem" with this year's harvest.
North Korea suffered a famine in the mid-1990's, and now relies on foreign aid to feed about one-fourth of its population of

22 million. Its primary donors are South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States.
Some countries, especially Japan and the United States, have cut back donations over the past few years, because of disputes

with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons programs and its kidnapping of Japanese citizens in the past.
The World Food Program's Mr. Ragan says 35,000 tons of Russian wheat just arrived in North Korea a few days ago.


Outside View
Avoiding the Saddam-Kuwait Model in Taiwan
Posted July 26, 2004
By M.D. Nalapat
During his decadelong battle with Iran, Saddam Hussein was the recipient of support from the United States as well as from

such countries as the United Kingdom, which did not want to see a Khomeinists theocracy dominate the Persian Gulf.
Those in India who were in contact with the deposed president of Iraq and his advisers say that the belief among them was

that the United States would not intervene to reverse a takeover of Kuwait, provided that the Iraqi forces did not carry the

campaign forward into Saudi Arabia.
Former U.S. ambassador April Glaspie's ambiguous response to Saddam Hussein a short while before the decision to invade was

taken was only one of a series of similar messages relayed to the dictator during that period. Soon afterward, Saddam took

over Kuwait, and got thrown back -- and, after another decade, out -- by the United States.
Within the higher levels of the Chinese Communist Party, a similar debate is now going on about Taiwan.
Will Washington really intervene to reverse a takeover by the People's Republic of China (PRC), or will the United States

simply indulge in some saber rattling, impose a trade embargo for a while, and then get back to business as usual with

The Chinese Communists look at societies holistically, not separating out the different strands but conceptually weaving them

into a unified entity with a common decision core. Hence, "casual" remarks from businesspersons or academics known to have

close personal ties with senior administration officials are given the same attention as official statements, sometimes more.
Despite the initial Bush administration rhetoric about the PRC being a strategic competitor rather than a partner, there has

been a growing flow of officials, businesspersons and academics into Beijing who assure those they meet that Washington would

shy away from the immense disruption caused by a war with Beijing. In such remarks, Taiwan becomes the 21st-century version

of 1930s Czechoslovakia, "a small, faraway land of which we know nothing," in the words of the then British Prime Minister

Neville Chamberlain.
These officials justify their Glaspie-like comments by claiming that the hardheaded Chinese Communist leadership would not

risk economic ruin by invading Taiwan and that the creation of prosperity is the cornerstone of the unwritten compact that

has thus far kept the Chinese people from seeking to overthrow the unelected elite that rule their country. In a sense, such

"economist" reasoning is similar to that which was used to justify the post-Desert Storm sanctions on Iraq.
The group that ran Baghdad -- Saddam Hussein, his sons and relatives, and their friends -- cared little for the sufferings of

the people of Iraq. Indeed, they used the hardship caused by the sanctions to demonize the United States, Britain and the

other powers that were insistent on them, thus gaining legitimacy as fighters for freedom from such oppression.
The external enemy -- and the new U.S. envoy to Iraq, John Negroponte, was among the more visible public faces of this -- was

seen as seeking "to starve the Iraqi people into submission." Thus, the anger against Saddam began to get diverted into

channels that fueled anger against the countries backing the sanctions.
While the population of Iraq starved, those around Saddam enjoyed a royal lifestyle. In the same way, the elite of the

Chinese Communist Party will continue to enjoy a regal lifestyle even should a trade embargo result in widespread loss of

In the same way the sanctions in Iraq did not either deter Saddam's clique from holding on to power and to their policies,

nor create the conditions for a revolt against the regime, the economic hardship caused by a possible U.S. trade embargo on

the PRC will be used to whip up nationalist sentiment that paradoxically will strengthen the Chinese Communist Party's

Unless the loss of jobs is caused by domestic policies rather than by external sanctions, politically the negative effects on

Communist Party rule will be slight. Hence, fears that Wal-Mart will stop outsourcing from China are not going to deter the

higher communist leadership from attacking Taiwan, especially in a context where several key trading blocs, including South

Korea, the Associaton of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, the Mideast and quite possibly several countries in

Europe, are unlikely to join in such sanctions. And Chinese veto will ensure that they do not have the legitimacy of a U.N.

Security Council resolution.
The leadership in Beijing will batten down the hatches and wait for Washington to "accept the inevitable," as it did on Tibet

and on Tiananmen Square. This, of course, presumes that the United States will not go to war with China over Taiwan.
Even were there war, Chinese diplomacy has been in overdrive to ensure that Washington fights alone. Today, only a Koizumist

Japan is likely to join forces with the United States in attempting to reverse a PRC takeover of Taiwan.
South Korea has been neutralized, as has most of ASEAN. Even Australia is now going through a debate as to whether

intervention in a cross-strait conflict would serve Canberra's long-term interest. Beijing has been working actively in

Europe as well to ensure that the European Union joins such huge neighbors of China as Russia and India in sitting out a war

between the United States and China across the Taiwan Straits.
The planners in Beijing will be calculating that the United States may, especially after Iraq, hesitate to go it alone,

especially against an enemy as formidable as the PRC.
In material terms the United States has preponderant power even in the region of the China seas. The fact that the lines of

communication of U.S. forces stretch back thousands of miles, as against the Chinese Communists, who will be operating from

their own backyard, will act as a disincentive for war.
In the United States, as in the European Union, there has emerged a group of scholars who are analogous to those who

researched the former Soviet Union in the days of the Cold War. The latter refused to give credence to claims that the system

in Moscow was suffering from dry rot. Almost until the end of the 1980s, they persisted in assuming that the Soviet Union

would survive into the indefinite future. In much the same way, the community researching on China is making several

assumptions that may be incorrect, such as that "there is no ideology within the Chinese Communist Party."
While it is true that the Chinese Communists have little patience with Marxism-Leninism (and since Deng Xiaoping, even with

Maoism), the reality is that the party theoreticians have crafted a coherent ideology that has Western-style democracy and

the United States as the enemy. The contempt for democracies, whether in India or in Taiwan, is explicit, as is the

presumption that only an Asia "cleansed" of U.S. influence will be truly free.
Thus, what has replaced orthodox Marxist theory in the Communist Party in China is not a vacuum but a new ideology that has

incorporated the old one's contempt for, and enmity toward, Western-style democracy and its most powerful expression, the

United States.
Finally, those that complacently assume that Beijing will follow the same trajectory as Moscow are glossing over the fact

that while the Soviet Union was a status-quo power, intent only on protecting what was won by it as a result of World War II,

China is actively seeking a change in the status quo.
What Beijing seeks is to replace the United States with itself as the primary power in Asia, an objective that its diplomats

do not bother to conceal in Southeast Asia, and increasingly in the Middle East as well. In Europe, the PRC is firmly on the

side of "Old Europe," boosting the French and the Germans as they seek to delink Europe from U.S. leadership.
Apart from the unlikely event of Taiwan declaring formal independence, the prospects for a war will rise in proportion to the

degree of internal instability in China. The new regime headed by President Hu Jintao is seeking to dismantle the old

economic structure dominated by manufacturing, replacing it with one that incorporates modern sectors such as biotech,

information technology and space at its core. This could involve the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, and consequent

unrest. Should such instability spiral upward to levels beyond the capacity of the security infrastructure to cope with, a

war over Taiwan could become the ultimate antiriot weapon, once again uniting the Han population behind the Communist Party.
The potential for conflict has become higher as a result of the unique situation China finds itself in today when, for the

first time since Lin Biao in the 1960s, the party no longer seems to be in control of the gun. Former President Jiang Zemin

is using his chairmanship of the Central Military Commission to carve out a space independent of the Chinese Communist Party,

a process that could lead to a rise in the influence of the men in uniform over policy not seen since Lin's time.
When combined with the essential defenselessness of Taiwan (there is no defense as effective as strong offensive capability,

an option the United States has denied Taiwan), the prospects for a miscalculation on the Saddam-Kuwait model are growing.

Rather than seek to wish it away, Washington needs to face up to the reality that it could be at war with China within a

decade, face up to this as energetically as the PRC itself is doing with its crash program of military modernization and

refinement of asymmetric warfare against a "more powerful enemy." No prizes for guessing who that enemy is.
M.D. Nalapat is director of the School of Geopolitics of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India. United Press

International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of issues. The

views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International, a sister news organization of Insight.
Copyright ? 1990-2003 News World Communications, Inc.


Iranian Dissident Professor Released on Bail
VOA News
31 Jul 2004, 13:26 UTC
Hashem Aghajari, acompanied by policeman and a security person as they exit from a session of his court in Tehran, Iran
Iranian dissident Hashem Aghajari greeted family and friends at his home in northern Tehran Saturday, just hours after being

freed from prison on bail.
Defying a court order that he not speak to the media, Mr. Aghajari told supporters outside his home that he hopes "there will

come a day when no one goes to prison in Iran for his opinions, let alone be sentenced to death."
The professor was jailed nearly two years ago and sentenced to death for saying Muslims are not "monkeys" and should not

blindly follow their leaders. But in a retrial, the court instead gave him a five-year jail term, as well as five years of "

deprivation of social rights."
An Iranian court ordered the academic's release on $112,000 bail as he awaits a final ruling on his case by the Supreme

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.
Iran: Dissident Lawyer Gets Prison Furlough
VOA News
28 Jul 2004, 15:21 UTC
An Iranian lawyer sentenced to five years in prison following his involvement in a high-profile case known as the "serial

murders" has been granted a brief prison furlough.
The attorney for lawyer Naseer Zarafshan told VOA's Persian service Wednesday that his client has been freed for 48 hours. It

is his first furlough in nearly a year.
International human rights groups say a secret military tribunal sentenced Mr. Zarafshan in March 2002 to five years in

prison and 70 lashes for disseminating state secrets and possessing firearms and alcohol.
His advocates say he is innocent and his sentence is retribution for his criticism of an official investigation into the

murders of several writers and activists in 1998, known as the "serial murders." Mr. Zarafshan also represented two of the

victims' families.

Four French Guantanamo Detainees Placed Under Investigation
VOA News
31 Jul 2004, 19:49 UTC
A French anti-terrorism judge has formally placed under investigation four French men released from the Guantanamo Bay naval

base in Cuba.
Another judge will decide whether to release Nizar Sassi, Brahim Yadel, Mourad Benchellali, and Imad Kanouni during the

investigation or hold them in custody. The decision to investigate is one step away from formal charges against the men for

alleged connections to Afghanistan's terrorist-linked Taleban regime.
The four were handed over by U.S. authorities this week following intensive negotiations between Washington and Paris.
Three other French citizens remain at Guantanamo, which holds about 600 prisoners suspected of having ties to the Taleban or

the al-Qaida terrorism network. Most were arrested in Afghanistan in 2001.
Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
Venezuela Orders Arrest of 59 Military Officers
VOA News
01 Aug 2004, 14:49 UTC
A Venezuelan court has ordered the arrest of 59 military officers who protested against President Hugo Chavez nearly two

years ago.
The judge in Caracas said Saturday the officers had failed to appear at proceedings to face charges of conspiracy, rebellion

and inciting insurrection.
There was no immediate comment from the officers, some of whom have gone into hiding.
The officers on trial are among a group of about 100 military personnel who declared themselves in rebellion in October 2002.
Some of the officers have also been accused of taking part in a 2002 coup attempt against President Chavez.
Saturday's arrest order comes two weeks before a referendum on whether to remove Mr. Chavez from office.
Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.
Venezuela Says Explosives Stolen from Military Base
VOA News
31 Jul 2004, 02:26 UTC
Venezuelan officials say more than 60 kilograms of a powerful explosive have been stolen from a military base.
In Caracas Friday, Interior Minister Lucas Rincon said the government fears the C-4 plastic explosive may be used for attacks

leading up to the August 15 recall referendum of President Hugo Chavez.
Political opponents have accused the Chavez administration of trying to scare voters away from the polls. Opposition leaders

who organized the recall charge Mr. Chavez is trying to model the nation after Communist Cuba.
Mr. Chavez, who says his policies are aimed at helping the poor, has vowed to defeat the recall.
Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.
Chavez Tightening Grip on Judges, Critics Charge
Venezuelan President's Reforms Called Threat to Rule of Law, Attempt to Undermine Recall Effort
By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, June 20, 2004; Page A24
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Judge Miguel Angel Luna said he was sitting in his courtroom on Feb. 28 when prosecutors brought in two

beer-truck drivers, who had been parked near an anti-government demonstration, and demanded that they be jailed.
But there were no charges against them, Luna recalled. So he set the two men free. Three days later he was fired by the

president of the Supreme Court without explanation.
"The regime of President Hugo Chavez has turned our democracy into an autocracy," said Luna, 58, who has returned to his

private law practice and believes that his only offense was to defy the political wishes of the president and his supporters.

"Judicial autonomy has been lost, and that is the foundation of democracy."
Luna's case illustrates how politics has eroded the judicial system, threatening the rule of law in one of the world's most

important oil-producing nations. The loss of judicial autonomy could affect an Aug. 15 national referendum on whether to

recall Chavez, according to political and legal analysts in Venezuela and a report released last week by the New York-based

organization Human Rights Watch.
The Chavez government presides over a judicial system where most judges can be fired at will. The National Assembly has also

just passed a law that will allow Chavez and his allies to pack the supreme court with sympathetic justices who could end up

deciding any challenges to the recall election, analysts said.
The government argues that it is cleaning up a corrupt and inefficient judiciary it inherited when Chavez was elected in

1998, and trying to rein in the anti-Chavez groups who backed a coup in April 2002 and a strike at the national oil company

last year that cost the country billions of dollars. The justice system in Venezuela has historically been corrupt and Chavez

fired hundreds of judges immediately after his election, a purge that was widely seen as necessary.
But critics said Chavez, a former paratrooper who led a failed coup in 1992, had gone beyond the changes needed to reform the

judiciary. They said he was trying to silence dissent and create an authoritarian government in the style of Fidel Castro's

"This is a political assault on the judicial system," said Pedro Nikken, a constitutional lawyer in Caracas. "It's making the

judiciary a branch of the executive. They are going to use this to attack the dissidents and guarantee the impunity of any

abuses of human rights or acts of corruption by the government."
In its report, Human Rights Watch said the "most brazen" challenge to the rule of law in Venezuela was a new statute pushed

through the National Assembly by Chavez allies last month that expands the Supreme Court from 20 to 32 justices and allowed

the Chavez-dominated assembly to fire and hire justices with a simple majority vote. Previously, firing a justice required a

two-thirds majority.
The report said the new law amounted to a "political takeover" of the court. It said the law would allow Chavez and his

allies to "pack and purge the country's highest court," which is currently split 10 to 10 between judges seen as loyal to

Chavez and those viewed as his opponents. The report called on the Organization of American States to investigate.
"We are not talking about what could happen, we are talking about what is already happening," Jose Miguel Vivanco, head of

the group's Americas division, said at a news conference. He noted that on Wednesday pro-Chavez legislators voted to fire one

Supreme Court justice and to begin proceedings to suspend two more. All three were widely seen as opponents of Chavez and had

ruled against his wishes in recent high-profile cases.
Only 20 percent of Venezuela's 1,732 judges have tenure and job security; the rest are either provisional or temporary judges

who can be fired at will by the Supreme Court's six-member administrative council, the report noted.
The Chavez government responded to the report with ferocious rhetoric
The National Assembly's leadership said it would consider declaring Vivanco a "persona non grata" in Venezuela. Vivanco said

he was detained briefly by federal political police at the Caracas airport as he left the country Saturday morning, which he

described as an act of harassment and intimidation. Assembly President Francisco Ameliach Orta, quoted in local media, said

the report reflected "total and absolute ignorance" and accused Human Rights Watch of "open and unpardonable meddling in the

internal affairs of our country." He said the Supreme Court overhaul was passed by the National Assembly and represented the

will of the majority of the Venezuelan people.
Tarek William Saab, a key Chavez ally in the Assembly and head of the Foreign Relations Commission, said in an interview that

critics failed to give the government credit for its efforts to "create an autonomous and independent judicial branch" and

put an end to the "enormous impunity" that existed before Chavez took office.
Saab said it was wrong to say that Chavez controlled the judiciary. If he did, Saab said, the leaders of the 2002 coup

against Chavez and those who led the oil company strike would be in jail. "They have not been put in jail because of the lack

of ethics on the part of judges linked to the opposition," Saab said.
Still some analysts, including Alberto Arteaga Sanchez, a noted criminal attorney in Caracas, said Chavez and his allies were

"using criminal law against their political adversaries."
One of Arteaga's clients is an army general who was involved in the 2002 coup against Chavez. Arteaga said the Chavez

government had proposed an overhaul of Venezuela's criminal code that called for up to six years in jail for "publicly or

privately instigating disobedience of the laws or hatred among citizens." Arteaga said even a private discussion among

friends could result in prison time.
The reform calls for up to five years in jail for "causing panic" by disseminating "false information," even by e-mail. And

it would jail anyone who "simply intimidates" or "pressures" public servants. Arteaga and Nikken said that would include the

habit of harassing public officials by "casseroling" them: annoying them by banging a spoon loudly against a pot.
"This government is starting to show signs, like we saw in Cuba, of criminalizing political dissidence," said Nikken, noting

that last year the Cuban government sentenced 75 non-violent dissidents, including journalists and librarians, to long prison

Potential political influence in the judicial system is especially critical now because of the recall referendum scheduled

for Aug. 15. After years of trying to oust Chavez, first by coup and then through the oil strike, his opponents finally

managed to gather enough signatures on petitions to force the recall vote.
Noting that Venezuela is deeply and passionately divided between those who support and those who oppose Chavez, Vivanco

predicted that the referendum could be so close that it may ultimately be decided by the country's high court, just as the U

.S. presidential election in 2000 was by the Supreme Court. Vivanco said it was critical that the court not be stacked with

justices acting solely for political reasons.
Luna, the fired judge, filed a written appeal and was reinstated on April 15. But three weeks later he presided over a

procedural hearing involving the case of another Chavez opponent. Following standard practice, Luna granted the man's request

to allow two new attorneys to represent him. A week later, he was again fired.
Luna said he was one of nine children of a small-town merchant and the only person in his family to graduate from college. He

said he worked as a lawyer for almost 25 years before becoming a judge four years ago. He said he had never been an opponent

of Chavez. A soft-spoken man with gray hair and glasses, Luna said he was sad that his career on the bench had ended because

of "pure revenge."
"We are waiting for the recall election to change our direction," he said, "to take us toward a horizon of peace and democracy in Venezuela."
? 2004 The Washington Post Company


Display of might shows who is in charge
Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Monday August 2, 2004
The Guardian
Thousands of People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops paraded in Hong Kong yesterday in an unprecedented display of military power aimed at drumming up patriotism and reminding opposition democrats who is boss of the territory.
The show of force comes amid a sharp change in the political climate on the island, which has recently experienced its biggest anti-government demonstrations and greatest concerns about free speech since the transfer from British rule in 1997.
To mark the 77th anniversary of the PLA, spectators were invited into the Hong Kong garrison, where the entire force of 3,000 green-uniformed soldiers and 28 armoured vehicles marched and drove around the parade ground as a dozen army helicopters buzzed overhead.
The performance of brass bands and military hardware was a major departure from the usually low profile of the PLA contingent in Hong Kong. In an apparent attempt to allay local unease about the Chinese army - which is widely remembered for opening fire on civilians on and around Tiananmen Square in 1989 - soldiers rarely leave their barracks.
But this year, the military's top brass launched a charm-and-power offensive. Yesterday's march followed the first display of naval power in the terri tory: a flotilla of eight heavily-armed warships that passed through Victoria Bay in April.
The garrison commander, Lieutenant General Wang Jitang, said the troops would defend the administration of Tung Chee-hwa, the unpopular chief executive hand-picked by Beijing leaders to run the territory.
"We are showing our immense power and determination to defend Hong Kong's prosperity and stability," he said. "We will, as in the past, actively support the law-abiding government led by Tung Chee-hwa."
In a gesture of conciliation - and warning - democratic politicians were invited to the parade, a rare chance for the main critics of the communist party to participate in an event organised by the state.
Analysts saw this as an attempt to ease political tensions ahead of legislative elections next month, when the government fears heavy losses among its supporters despite the limited franchise in many constituencies.
Public opinion swung against the mainland this spring when the legislature in Beijing controversially ruled out universal suffrage and direct elections for Hong Kong's leader in 2007.
Hundreds of thousands of democracy supporters took to the streets last month, protesting against a decision that many feel eroded the autonomy the territory was promised under the "one country, two systems" agreement reached with Britain during the hand-over period.
Such concerns have been heightened by reports that campaigning journalists have been intimidated into retirement. Last week, the director of Commercial Radio cited "hidden dark forces in society" in explaining why it was terminating the contract of outspoken DJ Albert Chen.

Posted by maximpost at 4:48 PM EDT
Thursday, 29 July 2004


Saudi Minister and Prince Pays Monthly Stipend and Debts of Surrendered Wanted Terrorist and Family
On June 23, 2004, Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah declared on behalf of King Fahd a one month ultimatum during which Al-Qa'ida members should surrender themselves to authorities. Responding to this ultimatum, number 25 on the 26 most-wanted list Othman Bin Hadi Al-Maqbul Al-Omari surrendered on June 28, 2004. Al-Omari was described by the authorities as a "weapons smuggler of the first degree." [1] The following is the sequence of events surrounding Al-Omari's surrender, as reported by the Saudi media:
The turning in of Al-Omari was mediated by the extremist Wahhabi cleric Sheikh Safar Al-Hawali, who currently serves as a mediator between wanted terrorists and Saudi authorities.
Al-Hawali described to the Saudi government daily Al-Watan the process of turning Al-Omari in. He said that he met Al-Omari in his home in Jeddah, where they had dinner and discussed Al-Omari's demands in return for turning himself in. Those demands were described by Al-Hawali as "simple demands" which the Ministry of Interior can not reject. During the meeting, Al-Omari confessed to Al-Hawali that he had "planned to carry out an operation that would cause bloodshed and destruction, but reneged after he was convinced it wouldn't bring any good, and that such acts are forbidden."
After the meeting, Al-Hawali accompanied Al-Omari to the home of Prince Muhammad Bin Naif Bin Abd Al-Aziz, who is the son of Interior Minister Prince Naif, for whom he also serves as assistant for security affairs, holding the title of Minister. According to Al-Hawali, the minister prepared a "great human" reception for Al-Omari, and "blessed him and praised him for his courageous stand to surrender himself shortly after the amnesty was declared."
Al-Hawali noted during the two hour meeting that "Prince Muhammad Bin Naif gave the wanted terrorist Othman Al-Omari the possibility of choosing which prison he wishes to remain in until the end of his interrogation - whether in Riyadh, Jeddah, or in the Al-Namas region [in which he lives] in order to be close to his family." Al-Hawali described this proposal as "clear proof that Prince Muhammad Bin Naif understands the feelings of the wanted, and is determined to secure their tranquility." Al-Omari chose to stay in one of Jeddah's prisons.
Al-Hawali also told the daily that "Prince Muhammad Bin Naif stressed to Al-Omari that he would be well-treated throughout his interrogation and trial, and that the state pledges to grant his family protection, and to support it financially and morally, like the families of the other wanted men, whom [the families] are not to blame for what happened." [2]
A few weeks after Al-Omari was turned in, the Saudi newspapers reported that the Saudi authorities had paid off Al-Omari's debts. According to Al-Watan, Othman Al-Omari's mother expressed her "gratitude and appreciation of Prince Muhammad Bin Naif for his noble initiative to pay off the debts of her son, who recently turned himself in to the Saudi authorities." The mother recounted that "Prince Muhammad Bin Naif contributed the entire sum, totaling 170,000 SR [$45,300], as well as a grant of 30,000 SR [$8,000] to Al-Omari's family. In addition, a monthly stipend of 3,000 SR [$800] will be paid to Othman Al-Omari's children, as well as a salary of 2,000 SR [$530] to Othman Al-Omari himself." [3]
The Saudi government daily Al-Riyadh reported that Al-Omari's four children also expressed their gratitude and appreciation to Prince Muhammad Bin Naif for "his initiative which saved their father from debts of 170,000 SR [$45,300]." [4]
[1] Al-Hayat (London), June 30, 2004, Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), July 1, 2004.
[2] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), June 30, 2004.
[3] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), July 20, 2004.
[4] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), July 21, 2004.


Va. Couple File Lawsuit to Free Their Son Held in Saudi Arabia
By Caryle Murphy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 29, 2004; Page A08
A Falls Church couple who contend that U.S. authorities are responsible for the year-long detention of their 23-year-old son in Saudi Arabia filed a petition yesterday in federal court in Washington seeking his release.
In papers filed in U.S. District Court, Omar and Faten Abu Ali are requesting that Ahmed Abu Ali, their U.S.-born son, who was arrested in June 2003 while studying in Saudi Arabia, be returned to this country. If he has done something wrong, they say, he should be tried in a U.S. court.
The couple's petition argues that their son's detention is an example of "extraordinary rendition," a practice in which U.S. authorities transfer individuals suspected of terrorist connections to foreign intelligence services that often use coercive interrogation techniques illegal in this country.
Although U.S. authorities "did not send . . . Abu Ali to Saudi Arabia," the court papers state, "they accomplished the same objective as the rendition for interrogation policy by requesting their agents, Saudi officials, to arrest, detain, and interrogate him in furtherance of U.S. interests."
Morton Sklar, executive director of the World Organization for Human Rights USA, a human rights group assisting Abu Ali's family with the petition, said, "We've been looking for a case to directly challenge the practice of rendition to torture . . . to stop the policy itself."
The court papers name Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and several FBI agents as the U.S. officials responsible for Abu Ali's extended detention.
Department of Justice spokesman Charles Miller said that he had not seen the petition but that "when we do respond, it would be in court." FBI spokesman William Carter said, "If there has been a habeas corpus filing, that precludes us from making any comment on it." State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said, "We have not yet seen the lawsuit, but we do not normally comment on ongoing legal matters." Brian Roehrkasse, a Homeland Security spokesman, also declined to comment, citing "pending litigation."
Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign affairs adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, could not be reached for comment. Previously, Jubeir said that the U.S. government is aware of why Saudi Arabia is holding Abu Ali and that his government "would be willing to consider" an extradition request "when it was made."
The exact number of people "rendered" or moved to foreign countries with U.S. assistance is unknown, but two cases have received widespread publicity.
Canadian citizen Maher Arar -- who U.S. authorities alleged had links to al Qaeda -- was sent from a New York airport to Syria last year, where Arar said he was tortured for 10 months before being released. And in late 2001, two Egyptians living in Sweden were kidnapped and flown to Egypt with U.S. assistance.
Abu Ali's case is different in that he is an American citizen and was already in the country where he is now detained.
"I'm sure the U.S. government's approach to this is going to be to say he is being detained by a foreign government and we don't have anything to do with it," Sklar said. "But the evidence contradicts it. . . . There are so many indications that the U.S. government was causing this."
Abu Ali's parents, who emigrated from Jordan, say in their petition that a U.S. consular officer in Riyadh informed the State Department that a senior Saudi official had "indicated to him that Ahmed Abu Ali could be returned to the U.S. at any time if the U.S. issued a formal request."
At a May 14 meeting, State Department employee Matthew Gillen told the family "that no current investigation of Ahmed Abu Ali by either the U.S. or Saudi Arabian government was taking place" and that he would "make the formal request to Saudi Arabia necessary for [it] to release him," the petition asserts. But in a June 21 meeting, it adds, Gillen said he could not make that request "due to an investigation taking place in the Department of Justice."
The court papers disclose that prosecutors subpoenaed "numerous witnesses who were friends or acquaintances" of Abu Ali to a grand jury about seven months ago and that in May, FBI agents and federal prosecutors from Alexandria again "sought to interview" Abu Ali in Saudi Arabia. The family alleges that U.S. officials "have sought to coerce" Abu Ali, who also has Jordanian citizenship, into "abandoning his U.S. citizenship so that he could be sent to Sweden or some other country."
U.S. officials have declined to give an explanation for Abu Ali's lengthy detention. But their interest in him appears to stem from alleged ties to some of the 11 Northern Virginia men accused in federal court in Alexandria of undertaking paramilitary training to wage "violent jihad" on behalf of Muslims abroad. Two of those men were also accused of conspiring to support al Qaeda.
Three of the defendants, all U.S. citizens, were arrested in Saudi Arabia at the same time as Abu Ali and brought back to the United States. At a bond hearing for one of them in 2003, an FBI agent testified that Abu Ali had told his Saudi interrogators that he had joined an al Qaeda cell in Saudi Arabia and wanted to plan terrorist attacks.
But Abu Ali was not charged in the Alexandria case. And late last year, U.S. counterterrorism officials who spoke on the condition that they not be identified gave varying assessments of his importance as a terrorism suspect. One official called him "a player" with significant ties to al Qaeda; another said he was "very peripheral."
? 2004 The Washington Post Company

Her Virtual Prison
Carmen bin Ladin lifts the veil on the culture that produced her infamous brother-in-law.
Thursday, July 29, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT
Very few first-person accounts have emerged from behind the Saudi veil. For good reason: The rare Saudi woman not stifled into submission would risk severe punishment for speaking out. This is the importance of "Inside the Kingdom," by Carmen bin Ladin. Don't be put off by the author's last name. Ms. Bin Ladin is not a distant relation seeking to cash in on her family's notoriety. She is the ex-wife of Osama's older brother Yeslam, and she has her own story to tell. Her memoir is perhaps the most vivid account yet to appear in the West of the oppressive lives of Saudi women.
Carmen, who grew up in Geneva, is the daughter of a Swiss father and Iranian mother. She was raised as a Muslim of liberal outlook. When she met Yeslam in Geneva in the early 1970s, she had no reason to doubt that he was as forward-looking as she. She followed her husband to business school in California and then back to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and the bin Ladin family business.
The bin Ladens (the spelling varies: Carmen favors "Laden" for plural forms) are one of the richest and most important non-princely Saudi clans. Yeslam's father, the founder of the fortune, had died by the time Carmen joined the family. He left behind 22 wives, 25 sons and 29 daughters. Yeslam was known to his relatives as "Number Ten," referring to his position in the line of patriarchal succession.
Carmen's life in Saudi Arabia began when her car pulled up to Yeslam's mother's compound outside Jeddah. In the mid-1970s, the town was still not much more than a donkey crossroads in the middle of the desert. If winds weren't whipping up the sand in blinding funnels, the sun was scorching down with unbearable heat. Shrouded in her unfamiliar and suffocating black robes, Carmen entered what sounds like a luridly decorated marble tomb. From then on, she was no longer free.
Each day, Yeslam vanished to work. Carmen and her young daughter passed the hours in the company of his mother and sister. Rarely could she leave the house--rarely, even, did she see sunlight. Courtyards had to be cleared of male servants before she could poke her head outside; she was not even permitted to cross the street alone to visit a relative. When she did venture out, she had to wear a choking abaya and thick socks to hide her ankles. "It was like carrying a jail on your back," she writes.
Nor was she much freer inside the house. She could not listen to music, pick up an uncensored book or newspaper, or watch anything on television but a dour man reading the Quran. Nor could she absorb herself in household tasks. These were left to foreign servants, including the care of children.
Carmen was horrified by the effects of this isolation and uselessness. "The Bin Laden women were like pets kept by their husbands;. . . .Occasionally they were patted on the head and given presents; sometimes they were taken out, mostly to each other's houses;. . . .I never once saw one of my sisters-in-law pick up a book. These women never met with men other than their husbands, and never talked about larger issues even with the men they had married. They had nothing to say."
She would meet Osama only a couple of times. (She describes the young Osama as "tall and stern, his fierce piety intimidating.") She had more contact with his young wife, Najwah, in the female section of one of the segregated bin Laden houses: Najwah, like so many women raised in Saudi Arabia, "never permitted herself to want more from her life than obedience to her husband and father." She carried her obedience to such extremes that it nearly killed the couple's infant son. The child had become dehydrated in the heat. Carmen watched as Najwah pitifully tried to spoon water into the baby's mouth. Najwah would not use a bottle because Osama did not approve of this newfangled Western technology.
At first, Carmen consoled herself with hopes that the oil boom would soften the harsh bedouin culture of Saudi Arabia. "Naively I believed that economic change would be followed by social shifts, too." But after the Iranian revolution of 1979, the Saudi rulers crushed all liberalizing trends in their society. Yeslam, too, changed for the worse. He returned with Carmen to Geneva to expand his business but this time took along the rigors of Saudi Islam. The marriage deteriorated, and Carmen began to fear for the future of her three daughters. Although Yeslam had never been an attentive father, he sought custody of them in the couple's divorce proceedings. If he prevailed, the girls could have vanished into Saudi Arabia, never to be seen by their mother again.
Fortunately, the Swiss courts awarded custody to Carmen. She has emerged from her ordeal with some urgent insights into the kingdom from which she escaped: "Osama bin Laden and those like him didn't spring, fully formed, from the desert sand. They were made. They were fashioned by the workings of an opaque and intolerant medieval society that is closed to the outside world. It is a society where half the population have had their basic rights as people amputated, and obedience to the strictest rules of Islam must be absolute. Despite all the power of their oil-revenue, the Saudis are structured by a hateful, backward-looking view of religion and an education that is a school for intolerance . . . .When Osama dies, I fear there will be a thousand men to take his place."
Yet Carmen's own example is reason for optimism. The contempt for outsiders that Osama blindly swallowed repelled his sister-in-law--and drove her to seek a freer life for herself and her daughters. Let us hope that more brave dissenters--female and male--will follow her lead.

Ms. Crittenden is the author of "What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us" and "Amanda Bright @ Home," a novel. You can buy "Inside the Kingdom" by Carmen bin Ladin from the OpinionJournal bookstore.

Group Sues Justice Department Over Access to Lobby Records
By Ted Bridis Associated Press Writer
Published: Jul 29, 2004
WASHINGTON (AP) - A watchdog group sued the Justice Department on Thursday to compel officials to turn over records from a database on foreign lobbyists, which the department said would overwhelm its computer system.
A lawyer for the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity said in the lawsuit that the information sought is "readily reproducible in electronic form." The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, also asked the judge to award the group its attorney's fees.
A Justice Department spokesman, Charles Miller, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The group since January has sought information about lobbying activities that is available under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act, a 1938 law passed in response to German propaganda before World War II.
Database records describe details of meetings among foreign lobbyists, the administration and Congress, and payments by foreign governments and some overseas groups for political advertisements and other campaigns.
The Justice Department previously told the center that it could not provide the records before the end of the year.
Thomas J. McIntyre, chief in the Justice Department's office for information requests, explained in a May 24 letter that the computer system - operated in the counterespionage section of the department's criminal division - "was not designed for mass export of all stored images" and said the system experiences "substantial problems."
The government said an overhaul of the system should be finished by December and copies should be available then.
On the Net:
Justice Department:
Center for Public Integrity:
AP-ES-07-29-04 1448EDT
>> AHEM...

- Three of four Al Qaida web sites have Internet roots in the United States
Most of the websites aligned or identified with Al Qaida stem from the United States. About 76 percent of the Al Qaida-aligned websites were registered or supported by Internet service providers in the United States. A study by the Washington-based Middle East Media and Research Institute reported that Islamic groups have increased their dependence on the Internet for operations and recruitment...
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North Korea report (4:00)
More than 200 North Korean refugees flew into South Korea today under a veil of secrecy. It's the largest single group of defectors to date from the Stalinist north. The World's Katy Clark has the story.

Follow-up interview (4:30)
The more than 200 North Korean defectors that arrived in South Korea today is the largest single group ever to cross into the south. Some say that number is part of an even bigger group, possibly signalling an exodus. But South Korean officials are keeping a tight lid on the details. Host Jennifer Glasse speaks with Ambassador Jack Pritchard, a top advisor to President Bush on North Korea, about the effect on relations between the North and South and the US reaction.


N Korean refugees the beginning of a flood?
By Aidan Foster-Carter
Some 460 North Korean refugees flew into Seoul's Songnam military airport on two chartered Asiana flights on Tuesday and Wednesday. They came from the same officially unidentified Southeast Asian country. (Shall we stop the pussy-footing, please? It's Vietnam, is it not?)
This is an important moment. First of all, the numbers. At a stroke, the Vietnam 460 take the total of North Korean defectors, as they are officially called, reaching South Korea this year, which stood at 760 as of end-June, almost up to the 1,285 who arrived in the whole of 2003.
For decades after the Korean War, the number of North Koreans escaping to the South was tiny, reflecting the near-impassability of the heavily mined and fortified border, the ironically named Demilitarized Zone. A rare soldier or two has made it across the DMZ - in both directions, as we've been reminded recently with the weird tale of Charles Robert Jenkins: the 8th US Cavalry sergeant who disappeared northward across the line in January 1965, and lived in North Korea for the next 39 years until he and their two daughters were reunited with his Japanese abductee wife - you couldn't make this up, could you? - first in Indonesia and now in Japan, where the US Army may yet be stupid enough to charge him with desertion rather than treat him as an intelligence gold mine. But all that is another story.
Take me to the river
So if you want to leave North Korea - and who wouldn't? - you have to head north, across the long river border into China. Hitherto that hasn't been too hard, though some reports say fences are now being built. The west-flowing Yalu is difficult, but in the northeast the Tumen River freezes in winter, while in summer some sections are shallow and narrow enough to wade across. Border guards can be eluded, or sometimes bribed.
No one knows quite how many North Koreans have made that journey over the past decade, since the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) chronic malnutrition spiraled into outright famine. The often-quoted figure of 300,000 is plausible, if this means cumulative crossings. But the number actually hiding out in China at any given time is probably much lower, especially since Beijing has cracked down viciously on these fugitives in recent years.
Surveys by aid organizations, working in the border area under very difficult conditions, suggest that most such refugees come from North Korea's northeastern border province of North Hamgyong. That figures, on two counts: the border is near, and conditions are desperate. Formerly an industrial area, too mountainous to grow much food, Hamgyong-pukdo has seen its factories close and its people starve, in unknown numbers. Andrew Natsios - author of the first book on what he calls the Great North Korean Famine, and currently head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) - accuses Kim Jong-il's regime of "triage" in North Hamgyong: in effect cutting it off and letting it starve.
So those who can, vote with their feet. A majority seem to be women - and not all of them leave voluntarily. There are many reports now of North Korean women being sold into China, whether for marriage, or to work in bars or worse. As always in such trafficking, abuses are numerous because rights are non-existent. This is a nasty, sordid business.
China persecutes the starving
It's no exaggeration to accuse all governments concerned - make that unconcerned - of behaving appallingly. North Korea, naturally, starves and mistreats its people, and then has the gall to regard any who flee as traitors, and punish them accordingly. If at first you leave simply out of hunger or to find work, but then get caught in China and sent back to be beaten up and jailed, naturally you emerge with no great love for the Dear Leader (Kim Jong-il) and flee again, this time determined never to go back to such a hell-hole. "Persecuting the starving" is the all-too-apt title of an Amnesty International report on this bitter process.
This well-documented cycle gives the lie to China's despicable refusal to treat any North Koreans who are illicitly on its territory as refugees. The party line from Beijing is that they're all economic migrants. As such, under a border treaty with North Korea, China can and does round them up and send them back. Worse, it won't even let the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - which has an office in Beijing, but itself stands accused of failing to press hard enough on this issue - visit the border areas and see for itself. All this contravenes international conventions to which China is a signatory.
So what's a poor North Korean in China to do? Staying put, you have to hide out. A few activist non-governmental organizations (NGOs) - mostly South Korean, some Japanese or American; often Christian or Buddhist - may help you, but they too must be furtive, as they risk arrest and deportation: one such, Kim Hee-tae, was released this month after two years in a Chinese jail. Because of the need to hide, your kids - many refugees are children - can't go to school. It's no life at all, by normal standards. But anything has to be better than North Korea.
Seek asylum - but where?
Other than lie low, or return to North Korea, there are two options. One is to seek asylum in a foreign mission in China. Two years ago there was a rush of embassy incursions in Beijing, aided by activists. The lucky ones who made it eventually got to Seoul; but since then security around embassies has been tightened, and a crackdown in the northeastern border area means that in a sense this tactic has made life worse for the far larger number who remain in China. (Activists hotly argue the pros and cons, as may be imagined.)
A few still succeed via this diplomatic route, such as a group in June who got into a German school in Beijing. But for most, the only option is to continue the journey: to get out of China into another country, they hope more welcoming, and thence onward to Seoul.
That means going either north or south: to Mongolia, or Southeast Asia. Either journey is both physically arduous and risky. On April 2 a 17-year-old boy, Lee Chol-hun, who had spent half his life hiding in China, was shot - in the back, by some accounts - and killed by a Chinese border guard while trying to cross into Mongolia. (Ah, the heroic People's Liberation Army, bravely defending the motherland against all comers!) Read more on
Even once over the border, the unforgiving Gobi takes its toll. Yoo Chul-min was just 10 when he perished on July 7, 2001, lost and exhausted in the desert. For his tragic tale, with pictures of a bright-eyed boy in a baseball cap, and of the wooden cross that marks his lonely grave, see
Underground railway
The southerly route, which more take, has its own perils. You have to cross the length of China. Physically you blend in, but just hope no one tries to talk to you and twigs that you're a foreigner. Again this is costly and risky. An "underground railway" of activist NGOs may help with money and safe houses. But mostly you're on your own: not in the arid Gobi, but trying to cross the thick steaming jungles of Southeast Asia undetected. Thailand is the preferred destination, but beggars can't be choosers. So North Koreans turn up in Vietnam, Laos, or even - God help them - Myanmar.
Even there, they often have to continue an underground existence. No doubt we'll get the full story on - and stories of - the Vietnam 460 eventually, but probably they represent an accumulation over several years. The South Korean government that believes in quiet diplomacy on such matters - too quiet by half, say critics, considering it technically recognizes all North Koreans as Republic of Korea (ROK) citizens - had no doubt been negotiating delicately behind the scenes with Hanoi to bring them to Seoul. There are even reports that Vietnam was threatening to send them back - presumably to China, which would then deport them to North Korea, as is feared to have happened in several recent cases.
Vietnamese sensitivities
Vietnam, though nominally communist, is not especially friendly with North Korea, but it has its own sensitivities on the refugee front (remember boat people?). There's also an ongoing issue with the Montagnard minority, who've been fleeing to Cambodia to escape state persecution. In the party paper Nhan Dan last Sunday, a Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Le Dung, accused UNHCR of conducting "many wrong activities to lure ethnic-minority people in the Central Highland to illegally flee to Cambodia, and [it] even considered to give these people political refugee status".
Not to be outdone in the persecution stakes, on the same date the Cambodian government arrested two reporters (one Irish, Kevin Doyle of the Cambodia Daily) who were trying to reach 17 Montagnard asylum-seekers - and charged them with human trafficking. They were released a day later, after "confessing". Radio Free Asia, one of whose stringers was arrested, has more details.
Coming to America?
The international ramifications run wider yet. More than 1,000 Montagnards won asylum in the United States after an earlier crackdown in 2001. Some US human-rights activists would like North Koreans to be similarly welcomed in the land of the free. On July 21, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed the North Korea Human Rights Act (NKHRA) 2004. If this becomes law - which is far from certain: it has yet to go to the Senate, and time is short - this would mandate the US to foreground human-right issues in all its dealings with North Korea. One specific provision is to make it easier for North Koreans to seek asylum in the US. Last year just nine applied, of whom six were refused.
This too is controversial. Most of the NKHRA's backers are on the Republican right. (An even tougher separate North Korea Freedom Act, currently before the Senate, avowedly seeks regime change.) The bills' opponents - including South Korea's ruling Uri Party, which is getting up a petition on the subject - fear that raising all this will offend Kim Jong-il's delicate sensibilities. Pyongyang might then pull out of the six-party talks and various dialogues and projects with South Korea, thus jeopardizing what little progress has been achieved in recent years.
Engage and press
I beg to differ. Western European countries, which have recognized North Korea en masse since 2000, see no contradiction in seeking engagement with Pyongyang while actively pursuing human-rights concerns. Thus it was European Union states that this year and last submitted resolutions condemning North Korean human-rights abuses to the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR; not to be confused with UNHCR). South Korea abstained on this; last year it absented itself from the vote. But the resolutions passed, and a special rapporteur has been appointed to probe and press on these matters, to Pyongyang's fury.
How can that not be right? Read any of the websites that give you chapter and verse on the terrible sufferings of North Korean refugees - too many to list: just Google! - and if your blood doesn't boil, may I suggest you take your heart in for a service. This of all areas is one where, frankly, I find it hardest to keep the cool detachment of an "expert". In that capacity, I've written no fewer than five reports on North Korea refugee issues in recent years for UNHCR (two are still on their website). But as a human being, I find the hypocrisy and silence of all the governments concerned nauseating.
Lee Chol-hun and Yoo Chol-min, and thousands more, are dead. They deserved better. They had a right to live - and to lead a proper life, not the living hell of a subject of Kim Jong-il or a fugitive in China. So I'm glad for the Vietnam 460: May there be many more. Any decent human being or government should do everything in their power to help them gain sanctuary and a chance to live a human life: the kind you, dear reader, and I take for granted as our birthright as human beings and free people.
Moment of truth
For South Koreans, though, this is an awkward moment of truth. The ROK government is not only slow to help - it has even sometimes initially turned away its own citizens: old prisoners of war illegally held for half a century in North Korea - but also grudging in its provision for the few that do make it to Seoul. Its Hanawon facility, which trains North Koreans for what in some ways is life on another planet, has a capacity of only 400. So the Vietnam 460 have had to be housed at a commandeered training center elsewhere.
Even so, defectors find it tough to adjust to South Korean turbo-capitalism. They face prejudice, and about half are unemployed. Yet if the South can't even integrate the mere few thousands it has so far, how on earth would it cope if it faced a Germany scenario - and suddenly had to take on all 22 million of its impoverished Northern brethren?
That, of course, is the nightmare Seoul seeks to avoid at all costs. Fair enough, in my view, to try a gradualist approach with Pyongyang and hope for a soft landing. If it can be brought off, this would indeed be less risky, and much less costly, than if Kim Jong-il's regime were to collapse on a sudden. Maybe, at long last, the Dear Leader will see reason.
Prepare for the worst
Yet a preference for evolution over revolution is no excuse either for not preparing for a less desirable outcome - which sheer prudence requires, so as not to be overwhelmed if collapse comes - or for not fighting for the human rights of all North Koreans here and now, be they refugees or still enjoying the doubtful mercies of the Dear Leader's rule.
Pyongyang can bleat about being persecuted all it wants, like the late British comedian Kenneth Williams: "Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me." Not so. On human rights, as on nuclear weapons and a host of other concerns, all that the world asks - and is entitled to ask, and must go on asking - of the DPRK is to behave in a civilized way, like a modern 21st-century state: to treat its people properly and live up to international norms, standards and treaties, many of which it has in fact signed, and so is legally bound by.
As for South Koreans, they had better brace themselves. Why would, or should, their Northern cousins not seek a better life than Kim Jong-il has ever vouchsafed them? South Koreans in the past fought hard for their own human rights against their own dictators, rightly scorning pleas to desist on grounds of national security or economic development. How can they now hesitate to help, let alone deny the same rights to democracy and a decent life to their Northern brethren, without arrant selfishness and rank hypocrisy?
Come to that: how will the cherished goal of Korean reunification really be achieved? By letting a few befuddled lefty activists cavort with cynical DPRK apparatchiks in Incheon to celebrate paid-for summits, as we saw last month? Or by South Koreans taking to their bosom the tired, huddled masses who are Kim Jong-il's victims, to give them the rights to a life hitherto denied to them? In a word: reunification with and for whom, exactly?
So, welcome the Vietnam 460. May many follow them. And will the last North Korean to leave please turn out the lights? No need: Kim Jong-il's power cuts have already rendered it a land of darkness, in every sense. Let there be light, and life. No more weasel excuses.
Aidan Foster-Carter is honorary senior research fellow in sociology and modern Korea, Leeds University, England.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)


Rising tide of N. Korean defectors worries Seoul
Special to World
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
More than 200 North Koreans defectors move into buses after arriving at Seongnam military airport in South Korea behind a wall of secrecy as the government played down the biggest influx yet of defectors from the Stalinist state.
SEOUL -- The announcement that a total of 400 North Korean defectors now staying in a Southeast Asian country are coming to South Korea this week is raising social and political concerns.
The number of North Korean defectors to South Korea has increased from only 60 in 1999 to 297 in 2000, and to 572 in 2001 and more than 1,000 in 2003. During the first half of this year, the number reached 760 and is steadily increasing. More than 5,100 North Korean refugees have found home in the South so far. And there are no reliable estimates of how many more will arrive in the next few years.
While politicians and nongovernmental organization (NGO) groups welcome the triumph of the government's quiet diplomacy to repatriate North Korean defectors to Seoul en mass, they fear that this will lead to many problems, including the lack of facilities to house them and personnel to educate them.
Another concern, rarely voiced in the increasingly pro-North Korean South, is that there may be infiltrators among the genuine defectors or that their status as second class citizens could in the future be exploited by the North as the two sides proceed toward unification.
The South Korean government has repeatedly assured the nation that it would take in all North Korean defectors willing to come to South Korea. But the facilities have proven inadequate to accommodate ate those that have come in.
Hanawon, the housing and educational facility, had the capacity for only 400 even after an expansion this year. Consequently the original education curriculum is being reduced from six months to two months, which is said to be far from adequate to educate the North Koreans from socialism to capitalism. Moreover, the government settlement subsidy of 36 million Won will be reduced to 20 million Won, not enough to rent a house.
South Korean society is not united about assisting the defectors, and contributions from the civilian sector are still limited. The slow recovery of the South's economy is an added burden.
Then again, there is the danger of diplomatic friction with China and discontent from Pyongyang over the defector issue. More than 100,000 North Korean defectors are are believed to be scattered and in hiding in China, fearing arrest and deportation to North Korea. In recent years, as China stepped up its efforts to apprehend defectors, South Korean NGOs have been helping them find their ways to such neighboring countries as Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Burma.
According to an NGO member helping North Korean defectors, the 400 defectors are coming not from one Southeast Asian country, but two. "We have been helping them with shelter and food, but as the number increased, it put the countries into a difficult position," he said. That provided a common ground for working out a solution with South Korean government, according to the NGO volunteer worker.
Copyright ? 2004 East West Services, Inc.

N. Korea Upset at South Over Defections
The Associated Press
Thursday, July 29, 2004; 3:28 AM
SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea called the mass defection of nearly 460 of its citizens to South Korea this week a "planned kidnapping" and lashed out Thursday at Seoul and other parties involved in the two-day airlift.
The North Koreans, believed to have fled their communist homeland via its border with China before heading to a Southeast Asian country, arrived in Seoul in two planeloads Tuesday and Wednesday in an operation shrouded in secrecy.
South Korean government officials have been reluctant to confirm the arrival and have declined to reveal the Southeast Asian country from where the defectors arrived, apparently to spare that government from diplomatic reprisals by North Korea.
North Korea's statement Thursday, by a spokesman from the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, was the North's first public response to the defector airlift.
"This is an organized and planned kidnapping as well as a terror crime that took place in broad daylight," the spokesman said, according to KCNA, the North's official news agency.
"The South Korean government will be fully responsible for the outcome of this situation, and other forces that cooperated in this affair will also pay a big price," the spokesman said.
Despite the harsh words, the latest incident was unlikely to damage relations between Pyongyang and Seoul, an analyst said.
"North Korea is using harsh words as they usually do, but if they are in need of something from the South, such as economic aid or food aid, they will come out to talks with the South," said Park Joon-young, a North Korea expert in Seoul. "The North Koreans act in accordance with their interests, so I don't think it will effect inter-Korean relations."
The first group of 230 defectors arrived Tuesday on a specially chartered flight by South Korea's Asiana Airlines, the country's Yonhap news agency reported, followed by a second batch of 227 defectors on a Korean Air flight Wednesday.
The government barred reporters from covering the events, but TV footage captured from afar showed defectors getting off planes before being whisked away in buses.
It was by far the largest arrival in what has become a steady stream in recent years of North Koreans fleeing repression and hunger in a country that has depended on outside help to feed its 22 million people since 1995.
Most of the North Koreans flee across their country's long border with China, and human rights groups say hundreds have made their way to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries, hoping eventually to go to capitalist South Korea.
Over 5,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the 1950-53 Korean War. Last year, the number of defectors arriving in the South reached 1,285, up from 1,140 in 2002 and 583 in 2001.
South Korea's Unification Minister Chung Dong-young said the number of North Korean defectors was expected to reach 10,000 within a few years and that the government needs to upgrade its policies on handling them.
The Koreas were divided in 1945. Their border remains sealed and heavily guarded by nearly 2 million troops on both sides following the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
? 2004 The Associated Press


Saddam Suffers From Prostate Infection
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Seven months after being taken prisoner, former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein suffers from a chronic prostate infection but has rebuffed suggestions that a biopsy be performed to rule out cancer, Iraq's human rights minister said Thursday.
Tests show that, despite the prostate problem, the 67-year-old deposed dictator is otherwise in good health and has even shed some extra weight while in U.S. detention, Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin told Al-Jazeera television.
He said X-ray and blood tests came back negative for cancer, but officials wanted to take a biopsy to be safe.
Chronic prostate infections occur in about 35 percent of all men over 50, but are not linked to cancer. Routine screening for prostate cancer, especially among older men, is becoming more common.
Saddam has been held by U.S. officials at an undisclosed location in Iraq since his capture by U.S. forces last December near Tikrit. He had been on the run since his regime collapsed in April in the face of a U.S.-led invasion.
There have been several media reports saying his health was deteriorating, something the U.S. military denied Thursday.
"Saddam did not have a stroke, and he is not dead," 1st Sgt. Steve Valley told The Associated Press. He did not provide further information.
A Jordanian-based spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, the only neutral entity with access to Saddam, said Thursday the organization had no information about a downturn in Saddam's health.
"Saddam's sickness was rumors spread by the media," Mu'in Kassis told The Associated Press. The ICRC said it has visited him at least twice to check on his condition and carry messages to his family.
According to Amin, Saddam has lost weight after following a diet. He spends his time reading the Quran, writing poetry and tending to a garden, Amin said.
Mohammed al-Rashdan, a member of Saddam's defense team, said the lawyers have received unconfirmed information that Saddam suffered a stroke. He urged the Iraqi government to allow them, his family or a neutral party to send a doctor to Iraq to examine Saddam.
Officials at the Iraqi prime minister's office said they had no information on the ousted leader's condition.
Caused by a variety of bacteria, prostate infections develop gradually and can remain undetected for a long time because symptoms are typically subtle and sometimes there are none at all.
The infections are not easy to cure because antibiotics do not accumulate in high concentrations in the prostate. Treatment usually involves several months of strong antibiotics.
? 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Insurgents target Jordan's key logistical role in Iraq
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
AMMAN -- Insurgents in Iraq have attacked Jordan's position as a vital logistics base for members of the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq.
Sunni insurgency groups have abducted Jordanian nationals and threatened them with execution unless the Hashemite kingdom ends assistance to the United States and other militaries in Iraq. So far, one Jordanian firm announced it would withdraw from Iraq.
"Jordan has profited handsomely by its ability to send supplies to militaries in Iraq," a Western diplomatic source said. "If that goes, it will hurt both Jordan as well as the coalition."
Over the last year, Jordan has been employed to provide logistics, training, supplies and even intelligence information to members of the military coalition in Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. Western diplomatic sources said Jordan was preferred over Kuwait, Iraq's southern neighbor, by members of the coalition with troops in central and northern Iraq.
[On Wednesday, more than 50 Iraqis were killed in Baaquba, north of Baghdad. U.S. officials said a minibus packed with explosives blew up near a police station where hundreds of young men were waiting to apply to become officers.]
Amman's role has also committed the kingdom to train 32,000 Iraqi police officers as well as an unspecified number of Iraqi military troops until 2007. Industry sources have estimated this contract at more than $1.3 billion.
Last week, Jordan agreed to serve as a support base for South Korea, which has pledged to deploy 3,000 troops in Iraq. Seoul plans to begin sending its forces to Iraq in August.
Jordanian officials said Amman will cooperate with Seoul on a range of requirements for South Korean deployment in Iraq. They cited Jordanian intelligence, logistics and supplies for South Korean troops planned to be stationed in northern Iraq.
The two countries agreed on Jordan's role during a visit by King Abdullah to Seoul. On July 24, Abdullah met South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in Seoul and discussed the situation in post-war Iraq.
Officials did not report the value of Amman's supply and support agreement with South Korea. Jordan has helped other members of the U.S.-led coalition, including the United States, with logistics, supplies and training. Jordan's military has also sent advisers in Iraq.
Sunni insurgency groups aligned with the former Saddam Hussein regime have warned Jordan to end the supply route to the U.S.-led military coalition. Scores of truck drivers transporting supplies to Baghdad have already been abducted or attacked in Iraq near the Jordanian border.
On Tuesday, the so-called "Group of Death" warned that it would attack vehicles coming from Jordan into Iraq. "Group of Death" announced a July 30 deadline for Jordan to stop all supplies to Iraq.
So far, at least one Jordanian supplier of the military coalition said it would withdraw from Iraq. The announcement by the Amman-based Daoud and Partners came after two of its employees were abducted and threatened with execution unless the firm paid $140,000 and left Iraq. Daoud has provided construction and catering services to the U.S. military.
"We consider all Jordanian interests, companies and businessmen and citizens as much a target as the Americans," a masked member of "Group of Death" said in a video supplied to news agencies. "We will cut the road between Jordan and Iraq so that Jordanian supplies cannot supply the U.S. Army."
Copyright ? 2004 East West Services, Inc.



La red contra el lavado deja escapar a los peces gordos
Por Marcela Sanchez
Especial para
Friday, July 23, 2004; 8:09 AM
Cuando de lavado de dinero se trata lo mejor es hacerlo a alto nivel.
Hace m?s de dos a?os, la Ley Patriota de Estados Unidos estableci? como requisito para todas las instituciones financieras informar a las autoridades cualquier actividad sospechosa con el prop?sito de asegurar que no sean utilizadas para financiar terrorismo, lavar dinero u ocultar ganancias de actividades criminales.
Desde entonces, sin embargo, algunos gobiernos que Washington cataloga como patrocinadores de terrorismo, junto con funcionarios corruptos de otros pa?ses y narcotraficantes han usado muchas instituciones financieras conocidas sin que ninguna instituci?n lo informara a tiempo. Entre ellas: el principal banco de Puerto Rico, Banco Popular; la sucursal estadounidense del banco suizo UBS; el Hudson United Bank de New Jersey; y Terrabank en Miami.
La semana pasada, investigadores del Senado revelaron que el Riggs Bank, una respetada instituci?n de Washington, ayud? al ex dictador chileno Augusto Pinochet a ocultarle hasta $8 millones a fiscales internacionales. Denunciaron adem?s que representantes del banco le entregaron a Pinochet, a domicilio y en persona, su dinero antes de que las autoridades pudieran congelar sus cuentas.
El problema en el Riggs no se limit? a Pinochet sino que incluy? tratos sospechosos con funcionarios de Arabia Saudita y con Teodoro Obiang Nguema, dictador de Guinea Ecuatorial. En vez de provocar rechazos, ejecutivos del banco parecieron demasiado deseosos de atender a las necesidades de clientes de mala fama mientras que reguladores federales a duras penas tomaron cartas en el asunto. Acciones legales claves contra Riggs solo ocurrieron, seg?n los investigadores del Senado, "despu?s de que informes de prensa negativos empezaron a generar preguntas p?blicas".
Ir?nicamente los bancos podr?an aprender algo de las centenares de empresas no bancarias que env?an miles de millones de d?lares en remesas cada a?o alrededor del mundo desde peque?as y modestas oficinas en comunidades ?tnicas y de inmigrantes. Incluso antes de la Ley Patriota, los remitentes de dinero con licencia empezaron a auto regularse y hoy figuran entre las instituciones financieras que mejor conocen a sus clientes y con m?s frecuencia informan a las autoridades sobre actividades cuestionables.
Desde mediados de los 90, autoridades federales sospechaban que los remitentes de dinero eran muy propensos a actividades criminales, particularmente lavado de activos. Para sobrevivir y prosperar en un mercado r?pidamente creciente - y evitar procesos judiciales - los remitentes tomaron la delantera.
Los bancos, por otra parte, no han tenido esos mismos "incentivos" para reformarse, haciendo que la eterna lucha por detectar y castigar actividades ilegales en la forma de transacciones financieras internacionales sea hoy muy desequilibrada y de eficacia cuestionable.
"El sistema regulador en su totalidad tiene un serio problema de aplicaci?n desigual de leyes y regulaciones", dijo Charles Intriago, un exfiscal federal que ahora es presidente de Mientras docenas de peque?os remitentes de dinero han sido sancionados, sentenciados o sufrido multas millonarias, dijo, ning?n comerciante de valores de un tama?o considerable ni banco alguno en los ?ltimos 13 a?os han sido sentenciados. Mientras sigan recibiendo siempre la carta para "Salir libre de la c?rcel" como en el juego de Monopolio, los bancos no tomar?n las leyes en serio, agreg?.
En el 2001, un padre y sus dos hijos, due?os de una compa??a de env?os de remesas en Miami, fueron atrapados en una operaci?n encubierta y sentenciados a 188 y 155 meses respectivamente por lavar $714.000 d?lares. En el 2003, en la acci?n m?s severa contra un banco en a?os, el Banco Popular de Puerto Rico fue acusado por no informar sobre el lavado de $21.6 millones de dinero de la droga y conminado con procesos judiciales. Pero despu?s de que el banco pag? una multa de $20 millones, acept? su responsabilidad y prometi? portarse bien en el futuro, el gobierno acord? no enjuiciarlo. (Para aquellos que est?n llevando cuentas, $21.6 millones es $20.9 millones m?s que $714.000 - y aun as? el presidente del banco se quej? de haber sido tratado injustamente).
Por a?os los bancos estadounidenses han estado neg?ndole cuentas o cerr?ndoselas a los remitentes por temor a que sean propensos a actividades criminales. M?s a?n, en un esfuerzo por proveer a m?s inmigrantes con necesarios servicios bancarios, l?deres a lo largo de las Am?ricas est?n llamando a una mayor participaci?n de los bancos en el multimillonario negocio de remesas. El resultado podr?a ser quitarle negocio a aquellos con protecciones ejemplares contra el lavado de dinero y d?rselo en cambio a aquellos con un manchado historial.
Claro que no todos los bancos son culpables y ese es precisamente el mensaje que quisieran enviar los remitentes sobre s? mismos. Mientras existen todav?a miles de remitentes sin licencia, hay docenas con licencia que trabajan duro para cumplir plenamente con las leyes y regulaciones estadounidenses.
Aun as? el Departamento del Tesoro estadounidense contin?a se?al?ndolos a todos como negocios arriesgados. Por lo menos en esos casos los bancos est?n escuchando cuidadosamente a los reguladores y optando por cerrarle sus puertas incluso a los remitentes con licencia. En casos m?s importantes, sin embargo, grandes instituciones bancarias mantiene el dudoso honor de lavar las cantidades m?s grandes de dinero para los clientes m?s prominentes y corruptos - con poco temor a las consecuencias.
? 2004 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive

Anti-Laundering Net Lets Big Fish Slip
By Marcela Sanchez
Special to
Friday, July 23, 2004; 7:57 AM
When it comes to money laundering, it's better to do it big time.
More than two years ago, the USA Patriot Act established reporting requirements for all financial institutions to ensure that they are not used to finance terrorism, launder money or stash funds generated by criminal activity.
Since then, however, certain governments that Washington lists as sponsors of terrorism along with corrupt foreign officials and drug traffickers have used many well-known financial institutions without those institutions reporting any suspicious activities. Among them: Puerto Rico's largest bank, Banco Popular; the U.S. branch of the Swiss bank UBS; New Jersey's Hudson United Bank; and Terrabank in Miami.
Just last week, Senate investigators revealed that Washington's own Riggs Bank helped former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet hide up to $8 million from international prosecutors and that bank representatives hand-delivered Pinochet's money to him before U.S. authorities could freeze his accounts.
The problems at Riggs didn't end with Pinochet, but included suspicious dealings with Saudi officials and with Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Equatorial Guinea's dictator. Instead of raising red flags, bank executives seemed too willing to cater to notorious customers while federal regulators were too slow, at the very least, to take action. Key enforcement actions against Riggs only occurred, according to Senate investigators, "after negative press reports began raising public questions."
Ironically, banks could learn something from those hundreds of non-bank licensed money transmitters that send billions around the world from small and inconspicuous offices in immigrant and ethnic communities. Even before the Patriot Act, licensed money transmitters began to regulate themselves and today they are second to none among financial institutions in knowing their clients and reporting questionable activities to authorities.
Ever since the mid-1990s, federal authorities suspected that transmitters were vulnerable to criminal activity, particularly money laundering. In order to survive and thrive in a rapidly expanding market -- and to avoid prosecution -- transmitters got ahead of the curve.
Banks, on the other hand, have lacked some of these "incentives" to reform, making the eternal struggle in tracking and prosecuting illegal activity in the form of international financial transactions today a very unbalanced operation of questionable efficacy.
"The whole regulatory system has a serious problem of uneven application of laws and regulations," said Charles Intriago, a former federal prosecutor who now runs While dozens of small money transmitters have been penalized, prosecuted or suffered forfeitures, he said no securities dealer of any significant size or any U.S. bank in 13 years has been prosecuted. As long as they receive a "Get Out of Jail Free" card every time, banks won't take enforcement seriously, he added.
In 2001, a father and two sons, owners of a money transmitter company in Miami, were caught in a sting operation and later sentenced to 188 months and 155 months respectively for laundering $714,000. In 2003, in the harshest action against a bank in years, Puerto Rico's Banco Popular was accused of failing to report the laundering of $21.6 million in drug money and was threatened with criminal charges. But after the bank paid a $20 million fine, accepted responsibility and promised to behave in the future, the government agreed not to prosecute. (For those keeping score, $21.6 million is $20.9 million more than $714,000 -- and still the bank's president complained of having been unfairly singled out.)
U.S. banks for years have been denying or closing the accounts of licensed money transmitters for fear they are too prone to illegal activity. What's more, in an effort to provide more immigrants with useful banking services, leaders throughout the Americas are encouraging banks to be more involved in the multimillion-dollar remittance business. The result may be to take business away from those with exemplary safeguards against money laundering and put it instead in the hands of those with a spotty track record.
Sure, not all banks are culprits, and that's exactly the point licensed transmitters would like to make about themselves. While there are still hundreds of unlicensed money transmitters, there are dozens of licensed ones trying hard to fully comply with current U.S. laws and regulations.
Yet the Treasury Department continues to label them all as risky. At least in this instance, banks are willingly listening to regulators and opting to close their doors to licensed transmitters. In more important cases, however, large banking institutions maintain the dubious honors of laundering the largest amounts of money for the most prominent and corrupt customers -- with little fear of the consequences.
Marcela Sanchez's e-mail address is

? 2004 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive


Pakistan's king-maker drops a bombshell
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - In a surprise development on Wednesday, Pakistan's political map was potentially redrawn with the country's leading king-maker, Pir Pagara, announcing his separation from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League to revive his own party, which he had earlier merged with the PML on the personal request of President General Pervez Musharraf.
The PML, which dominates parliament, was created as an umbrella pro-government bloc to serve as an obedient vehicle for Musharraf to push ahead with his agenda and to give him a defined role once he eventually sheds his uniform.
The move by the influential politician is likely to be followed by other defections from the PML, and comes amid a number of developments that will shape the future of Pakistan in the coming months.
These include military operations in the sensitive tribal regions to track down foreign insurgents, a new military initiative in Balochistan province against nationalist insurgent tribes, the issue of sending troops to Iraq, and the installation of a non-political technocrat (Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain) as prime minister. Further, two generals are due to retire in October and will need to be replaced, and by the end of the year Musharraf is bound by the constitution to choose between one of the two hats he currently wears - chief of army staff or president. Exiled former premier Benazir Bhutto is also tipped to return to the country soon to revitalize her opposition Pakistan People's Party against Musharraf.
At a hastily called press conference on Wednesday, Pir Pagara said he would reinstitute his Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) party as an independent entity.
Syed Shah Mardan Shah, or Pir Pagara II, is one of the most powerful spiritual personalities in the country, with about a million spiritual disciples among the tribes of Sindh. Over the years he has carved a career for himself as a king-maker, rather than a participant in direct politics. His father was a prominent freedom fighter in British India, from Sindh, although the ruling British called him a traitor and hanged him. Later, though, the British sponsored Pir Pagara to study at Oxford. He returned at the request of Pakistan's first premier, Liaquat Ali Khan, in the early 1950s, and was launched into national politics on the PML's platform.
Being the head of an armed militia called Hur (free and brave man), he supplied thousands of volunteers to the Pakistan army in the 1965 and 1970 wars against India, which helped him forge deep ties in the military. On many an occasion he has publicly stated that "I take orders in national politics from GHQ", meaning general army headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Now at this most critical juncture of national politics, which many analysts are calling a major transition period, the GHQ's man has turned.
After hearing of Pir Pagar's news, Asia Times Online tracked him down to his palatial residence in Karachi, where many of his disciples were gathered. They regularly shower him with rupees when he makes an appearance, no matter how brief.
Sitting in his office in his house, behind a door decorated with the sign of Scorpio, Pir Pagara was having a meal of fried fish and lentil. In an hour-long meeting, he relied mostly on his expressions, rather than his tongue, his typical way of communicating.
"I think it is the beginning of the end, isn't it?" this correspondent asked in reference to Pir Pagara's decision to part ways with the ruling PML.
"We merged in the ruling party after the president gave me lots of assurances, and we were united for the cause of the Pakistan Muslim League, not for the cause of the rule of Jat [a reference to the Jat tribe of premier Hussain, who has appointed Jats to key positions in the PML]. What's your news from the center?" Pir Pagara asked.
"I spoke to a few friends in the National Assembly who are associated with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League and they are really frustrated. You may agree with me that ours is a tribal society where different systems work, and perhaps many may not accept a non-political entity like the technocrat Shaukat Aziz [Finance Minister and prime minister-designate] who is not interested in the ruling party members nor their interests. What's your feedback?"
Pir Pagara took a bite of his fish and nodded his head in the affirmative.
Asia Times Online continued, "You know better than me, in Punjab, all feudal families have their men in positions in the army as well as in parliament."
Pir Pagara's eyes shone and he shook his hands, but his mouth was busy chewing fish. Finally he said, "But Saleem, the president's men are guiding him [Shaukat] the wrong way."
All this while Pir Pagara's telephone kept ringing and was answered by his men, but he refused to speak directly to any of the callers, including one from the highest office of Sindh province who wanted to ask whether Pir Pagara continued to support the provincial government there. As this was a strictly private business, this correspondent took his leave.
Pir Pagara has reportedly made it clear that until Musharraf personally speaks to him and accepts his complaints about the present and future premiers, he will not listen to or meet with anybody.
Whether or not Pir Pagara changes his mind, the first real bullet of dissent has been fired and the game is on.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)


Pakistan Says Captures a 'Most Wanted' Qaeda Man
29 minutes ago Add World - Reuters to My Yahoo!
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan said Friday it had arrested a senior al Qaeda figure wanted for the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed hundreds of people.
Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat identified the man as Ahmed Khalfan Ghailini and said he was a Tanzanian national wanted for the synchronized bombings that killed more than 200 people at the U.S. embassy in Kenya and 11 at the embassy in Tanzania.
"He carried head money of $25 million," Hayat told Reuters.
He said Ghailani was one of about a dozen people arrested on Tuesday when security forces raided a suspected militant hideout in the city of Gujarat, about 110 miles southeast of the capital Islamabad.
Ghailani is on the FBI (news - web sites)'s "Most Wanted Terrorists" list for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings, which also said it was "offering a reward of up to $25 million for information leading directly to the apprehension or conviction of Ahmed Ghailani."
Ghailani was among seven people about whom the United States said in May it was seeking information amid fears of a possible attack in the near future.
A Pakistani official said Tuesday that Pakistani security forces were holding three Africans, including a Tanzanian, suspected of being militants after a shootout last week.
Another said the suspects had been trying to flee Pakistan along with their families, using fake documents, after living in neighboring Afghanistan (news - web sites).
Pakistan, a key ally in the U.S.-led "war on terror," has arrested hundreds of al Qaeda members since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Several senior al Qaeda figures have been handed over to Washington.

Face value
A different sort of oligarch
Jul 29th 2004
From The Economist print edition
Having got rich in Russia, Kakha Bendukidze now wants to be the world's most capitalistic politician
FORGET eBay. If you want to buy a dysfunctional boiler house, an international airport, a tea plantation, an oil terminal, a proctology clinic, a vineyard, a telephone company, a film studio, a lost-property office or a beekeepers' regulatory board, then call Kakha Bendukidze, Georgia's new economy minister. His privatisation drive has made him a keen seller of all the above. And for the right price he will throw in the Tbilisi State Concert Hall and the Georgian National Mint as well.
Mr Bendukidze made his name and fortune as an industrialist in neighbouring Russia, putting together the country's biggest heavy-engineering group, OMZ, before returning to his native Georgia in June of this year with a mandate to reverse more than a decade of post-Soviet decay. He insists that he was taken by surprise when Georgia's president, Mikhail Saakashvili, and prime minister, Zurab Zhvania, nobbled him for a chat in the course of a private visit he made to Tbilisi in May, and then offered him a ministerial job the same evening. But having said yes, he is cracking ahead, doing everything that businessmen must dream of making governments do. He says that Georgia should be ready to sell "everything that can be sold, except its conscience". And that is just the start.
Next year--if not sooner--he will cut the rate of income tax from 20% to 12%, payroll taxes from 33% to 20%, value-added tax from 20% to 18%, and abolish 12 kinds of tax altogether. He wants to let leading foreign banks and insurers open branches freely. He wants to abolish laws on legal tender, so that investors can use whatever currency they want. He hates foreign aid--it "destroys your ability to do things for yourself," he says--though he concedes that political realities will oblige him to accept it for at least the next three years or so.
As to where investors should put their money, "I don't know and I don't care," he says, and continues: "I have shut down the department of industrial policy. I am shutting down the national investment agency. I don't want the national innovation agency." Oh yes, and he plans to shut down the country's anti-monopoly agency too. "If somebody thinks his rights are being infringed he can go to the courts, not to the ministry." He plans, as his crowning achievement, to abolish his own ministry in 2007. "In a normal country, you don't need a ministry of the economy," he says. "And in three years we can make the backbone of a normal country."
Good luck, and he will need it. Mr Saakashvili's new government has taken over a country where half the population lives on less than $2 a day, relations with Russia are tense, and rebel regimes control two provinces. The previous president, Edward Shevardnadze, a former Soviet foreign minister, was driven out in November by huge public demonstrations against election-rigging and corruption.
Mr Bendukidze is the second minister plucked from the Georgian diaspora. The first, the French-born Salome Zourabichvili, was France's ambassador to Georgia until Mr Saakashvili made her his foreign minister. She wants to build political ties with the West, in order to help Georgia to fend off fresh attempts at domination by Russia. Yet at the same time, Georgia needs investment from Russia's booming corporate sector--and here Mr Bendukidze's experience should come in useful. Until May he was a prominent figure in the circle of top Russian tycoons known as the "oligarchs", albeit a notch below the oil barons, such as the now-imprisoned Mikhail Khodorkovsky of Yukos and the soccer-mad Roman Abramovich of Sibneft and Chelsea Football Club.
A clever and likeable man, aged 48, Mr Bendukidze was a scientist until the Soviet Union collapsed, and never did seem to be one of nature's metal-bashers even at the height of his empire-building. He says now that he was preparing to retire from business some months before the offer came from Mr Saakashvili. Early this year OMZ looked set to merge with another Russian engineering company, Power Machines, though that deal now seems to be off. Still, Mr Bendukidze has put his shares in trust, and resigned as chief executive. He is a political liberal as well as an economic one, and thus no soul-mate of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, says a western diplomat who knows him well. Asked whether he was retreating from Russia for fear that the persecution of Mr Khodorkovsky might turn into a purge of oligarchs in general, Mr Bendukidze will not be drawn, saying only that "we have had times [in Russia] harsher than this."
He is frank about the failings of the chaotic and often rigged Russian privatisations of the 1990s which made him and other oligarchs rich. He snapped up most of OMZ's assets for peanuts-- though, by the standards of the day, he subsequently earned his fortune, restructuring the company and halving its workforce. The lesson he drew from the Russian experience, he says, is to change the method of privatisation, not the principle of it. He promises public sales to the highest bidder, and cash only: "no conditions, no promises, no beauty contests".
Georgia on my mind
He insists that Georgia is a more "individualistic" place than Russia, and thus more receptive to reform. Georgians may take some persuading. A knot of demonstrators blocks Mr Bendukidze's way to work each morning. Opinion polls show only lukewarm support for privatisation. Mr Saakashvili and Mr Zhvania claim to admire his radicalism, but they may yet feel obliged to curb it if they want to conserve political capital for sparring with Moscow or with rebel regions. To Mr Bendukidze, such problems are another argument for boldness: big improvements in business conditions are needed in order to offset big political risks and to keep investors coming. "Other governments make budgets," he says. "We are making a nation."
Copyright ? 2004 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.



Le diff?rend entre l'Iran et l'Agence internationale de l'?nergie atomique rebondit
LE MONDE | 29.07.04 | 13h39 * MIS A JOUR LE 29.07.04 | 15h36
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T?h?ran a bris? des scell?s appos?s par l'AIEA.
L'Iran a bris? des scell?s appos?s par l'Agence internationale de l'?nergie atomique (AIEA) sur des centrifugeuses servant ? la production d'uranium enrichi, ? Natanz, une installation nucl?aire situ?e ? 250 km au sud de T?h?ran, ont indiqu? des diplomates ? Vienne mercredi 28 juillet. L'uranium enrichi est un composant n?cessaire ? la mise au point de l'arme nucl?aire.
"Cette d?cision indique que l'Iran a repris la fabrication et l'assemblage de centrifugeuses", en infraction d'un engagement pris en 2003 de suspendre toutes ses activit?s d'enrichissement d'uranium, a indiqu? un diplomate. "T?h?ran n'a toutefois pas repris les op?rations d'enrichissement ? proprement parler", a pr?cis? un autre diplomate, soulignant que la R?publique islamique n'a "pas l'obligation l?gale" de suspendre l'enrichissement.
L'Iran, que les Occidentaux soup?onnent de vouloir mettre au point la bombe atomique sous couvert d'un programme nucl?aire civil, avait accept? en octobre 2003, ? l'occasion d'une visite des ministres des affaires ?trang?res fran?ais, allemand et britannique, de suspendre unilat?ralement et temporairement ses activit?s d'enrichissement. Il s'?tait en outre engag? ? appliquer le protocole additionnel au Trait? de non-prolif?ration nucl?aire (TNP) avant m?me de l'avoir ratifi?.
Mais l'arrangement avait ?t? remis en question fin juin, quand l'Iran avait annonc? qu'il reviendrait sur son engagement de suspendre la production et l'assemblage de centrifugeuses de type P2, apr?s que le Conseil des gouverneurs, l'organe ex?cutif de l'AIEA, eut reproch? ? T?h?ran un manque de coop?ration et l'eut mis en demeure de fournir tous les renseignements demand?s pour prouver qu'il ne cherchait pas ? acqu?rir l'arme nucl?aire.
L'Iran accuse Paris, Berlin et Londres de ne pas avoir rempli leur part du contrat qui consistait, selon T?h?ran, ? faire en sorte que le dossier nucl?aire iranien soit referm? par l'AIEA ? la fin juin. Mercredi ? T?h?ran, le vice-pr?sident de la commission parlementaire des affaires ?trang?res et de la s?curit? nationale, Mohamoud Mohammadi, a averti que le nouveau Parlement conservateur iranien ne ratifierait pas le protocole additionnel au TNP, aussi longtemps que l'AIEA n'aurait pas class? le dossier nucl?aire de la r?publique islamique.
La ratification est li?e ? "une condition : l'AIEA doit d'abord reconna?tre notre droit ? utiliser la technique nucl?aire ? des fins pacifiques", a-t-il ajout?. "Notre crainte, c'est que le protocole additionnel soit utilis? contre nous comme une arme de pression politique. S'ils -l'AIEA- traitent notre dossier d'un point de vue strictement technique, alors nous coop?rerons", a-t-il dit.
Le dossier nucl?aire iranien devrait une nouvelle fois ?tre examin? lors de la prochaine r?union du Conseil des gouverneurs, ? partir du 13 septembre, ? Vienne. Les Etats-Unis font pression ? l'AIEA pour que ce dossier soit transmis au Conseil de s?curit? de l'ONU, seul habilit? ? d?cr?ter d'?ventuelles sanctions internationales.

L'Iran a d?cid? de reprendre la fabrication de centrifugeuses parce qu'il juge les Etats-Unis obnubil?s par l'?lection pr?sidentielle du 2 novembre et les Europ?ens trop divis?s pour exercer de r?elles pressions, estiment des sources diplomatiques ? Vienne. Des discussions doivent avoir lieu cette semaine entre T?h?ran et les Europ?ens, ? Londres ou ? Paris. - (AFP.)
Iran Defies Pressure, Resumes Tests of Nuke Plant
Thursday, July 29, 2004; 8:23 AM
By Francois Murphy
VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has defied international pressure and resumed testing a facility for converting uranium, a key part of the process of enriching the element for use as fuel or in a nuclear bomb, diplomats said Thursday.
The European Union's "big three" -- France, Britain and Germany -- strongly criticized Iran when it tested the site in March, saying it sent the wrong signal and would make it harder for Tehran to regain international confidence.
The EU three were due to meet Iranian officials in Paris on Thursday to discuss Tehran's nuclear program.
The United States says Iran is stringing the international community along with talks over its nuclear program while buying time to make an atomic bomb. Iran denies the charge, saying it is only interested in generating electricity.
While Iran said in April it intended to run the tests at its uranium conversion facility near the central city of Isfahan, the move snubs a request by the U.N. nuclear watchdog for it not to test the site.
The testing would produce a small amount of uranium hexafluoride, the gas which is pumped into centrifuges to obtain enriched uranium, one western diplomat said.
"They are testing the equipment. As a by-product, some UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) is produced," he said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear watchdog declined to comment.
Iran promised the EU three in October it would suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment. But Iran says it still has the right to produce uranium hexafluoride and build centrifuges. The IAEA says the suspension was meant to apply to both.
After Iran told the IAEA in April it intended to conduct the tests, the IAEA governing board passed a resolution in June that "calls on Iran ... voluntarily to reconsider its decision."
Full Legal Notice
? 2004 Reuters

Tehran breaks U.N. seals on nukes
By David R. Sands
Iran has broken seals placed on nuclear centrifuges by U.N. inspectors and resumed work on the equipment, raising fresh fears that a deal to keep Tehran from joining the world's nuclear-armed powers has collapsed.
Diplomats at the Vienna, Austria-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations' lead agency on nuclear proliferation, confirmed yesterday that Iran had resumed construction of centrifuges, a key part of the nation's nuclear program.
The equipment can be used to produce the material needed for atomic bombs. Iranian officials reportedly broke the IAEA seals on the centrifuge equipment late last month.
Diplomats told reporters that Iran has stopped short of using the centrifuges to begin production of enriched uranium for the bombs, a step that clearly would violate Iran's obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said U.S. officials had not confirmed the Iranian move independently but that it fit with what the Bush administration considers a clear pattern of cheating by Iran's Islamic government on its nuclear pledges.
"Iran's commitment to cooperating with the IAEA, to put it kindly, remains an open question," Mr. Ereli said, "given its past failures to follow through on promises made to the [IAEA] board of governors."
Paul Leventhal, president of the Washington-based Nuclear Control Institute, said the Iranian decision was "clearly provocative" and a direct challenge to diplomatic efforts to rein in its nuclear programs.
"The Iranians only confess to what they are caught doing, so we don't know how much more there is to learn," he said. "Iran has been playing a very dangerous cat-and-mouse game, constantly testing how much they can get away with."
The resumption of centrifuge construction also is a direct challenge to the efforts of Britain, France and Germany, which struck a deal with Tehran in October to halt efforts to build the centrifuges or seek to enrich uranium.
The three European powers have resisted a U.S. effort to refer Iranian violations to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions and other punitive measures, arguing that diplomacy is a better path for gaining Iran's cooperation.
Iranian leaders insist that their nuclear programs are intended only for civilian energy purposes, and only grudgingly have conceded to violations uncovered in recent months by IAEA inspectors.
Tehran also has argued that the accord with the three European powers was voided when the IAEA Board of Governors issued another critical report on Iran's nuclear cooperation at the board meeting in June. The construction resumed after the October moratorium expired, Iranian officials said.
Iranian President Mohammed Khatami said earlier this month, "Nothing stands in the way" of renewed centrifuge activity. Iranian officials reportedly informed IAEA officials of their decision to break the seals and said a separate pledge not to produce weapons-grade uranium remained in force.
Despite the disclosures, British diplomats said Iran and the three European powers will hold a previously scheduled meeting later this week at an undisclosed European location.
"We still firmly believe that this is the right way to achieve our goal," a British Foreign Office official told Reuters news agency yesterday.
The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran could be destabilizing in the region, in particular for Israel, which launched a pre-emptive strike against Iraq's nuclear facilities when Saddam Hussein began efforts to build a nuclear program.
Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon said on Israeli television yesterday that Iran had "broken the rules of the game."
"This should not only concern Israel, but all the countries of the free world," Gen. Yaalon said.
But Seyed Masood Jazayeri, spokesman for Iran's hard-line Revolutionary Guards, accused Washington of using its "wild dog" -- Israel -- to go after Iran's nuclear programs.
If Israel tried to disrupt the Iranian program, it "would be wiped off the face of the Earth and U.S. interests would be easily damaged," Mr. Jazayeri warned yesterday, according to the Iranian news reports.
*This article is based in part on wire service reports.


Iran Seeks Nuke Bomb 'Booster' from Russia-Report
Wednesday, July 28, 2004; 1:22 PM
By Louis Charbonneau
VIENNA (Reuters) - Iranian agents are negotiating with a Russian company to buy a substance that can boost nuclear explosions in atomic weapons, according to an intelligence agency report being circulated by diplomats.
But the Russian government, which monitors nuclear-related exports closely, denied any Russian companies were planning to supply Iran with the substance, known as deuterium gas.
The two-page report cited "knowledgeable Russian sources" for the information, which Washington will likely point to as more proof that Tehran wants to acquire nuclear weaponry.
"Iranian middlemen ... are in the advanced stages of negotiations in Russia to buy deuterium gas," the report said.
Iran denies wanting atomic arms and says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Deuterium is used as a tracer molecule in medicine and biochemistry and is used in heavy water reactors of the type Iran is building.
But it can also be combined with tritium and used as a "booster" in nuclear fusion bombs of the implosion type.
It is not illegal for Iran to purchase deuterium but it should be reported to the IAEA.
Diplomats say the suspicions surrounding Iran's nuclear program are so great that it would be wise for Tehran to exercise maximum transparency on all such "dual-use" purchases and declare them ahead of time to the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
"Iran has not declared this to the IAEA. Their cover story is that they want it for civilian purposes," said the diplomat who gave Reuters the report.
The report, which did not name the Russian firm, said purchase talks were in the final stages. It added that Iran had tried to produce deuterium-tritium gas -- with the help of Russian scientists -- but had so far failed.
Moscow has been criticized by Washington for building the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, despite U.S. concerns that it is a cover for Iran to acquire know-how and import items that can be used for bombs.
Reacting to the report, the Russian Foreign ministry issued a statement saying that in its nuclear cooperation with Iran, Moscow strictly sticks to intergovernmental agreements which do not provide for supplies of the deuterium gas.
"The Russian side is not planning to carry out any such supplies," the statement said.
Anything concerning nuclear exports is under tight government control, including details of separate deals. The government has said it keeps the situation in the sector under control and rejected any idea of major nuclear smuggling.
Envoys linked to the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said buying deuterium alone was not evidence of intent to acquire a weapons capability.
They cautioned that the report appeared designed to win over nations who are not convinced Iran wants the atomic bomb.
The United States and others are pushing the IAEA to report Iran to the Security Council for possible punishment with economic sanctions for allegedly seeking nuclear weapons in defiance of its treaty obligations.
"Iran needs to know that they will suffer deeply if they get nuclear weapons," said the diplomat who provided the report. France, Germany and Britain have been negotiating with Iran to persuade it to cooperate fully with IAEA inspections to allay Western doubts and are resisting referring Tehran to the U.N.. A high-level meeting is expected in Paris on Thursday.
The U.N. has been investigating Iran's nuclear program for nearly two years to determine whether allegations that it has a secret atomic weapons program are false, as Tehran insists.
While it has found many instances where Iran concealed potentially weapons-related activities, the IAEA says it has no clear evidence that Tehran is trying to build the bomb. The United States and its allies say there is sufficient evidence and the agency is being too cautious. (Additional reporting by Oleg Shchedrov in Moscow)
? 2004 Reuters

Statoil: U.S. Is Probing Iranian Deal
The Associated Press
Thursday, July 29, 2004; 9:51 AM
OSLO, Norway - Statoil ASA said Thursday that the U.S. Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation of a consulting deal in Iran that led to the resignation of the Norwegian company's two top executives and nearly $3 million in fines.
The investigation by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan is in addition to a separate inquiry by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of the same deal.
Both agencies are investigating the state-owned Norwegian company because its shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange.
Statoil drew heavy criticism last year after allegations surfaced that a $15.2 million consulting deal it made with Iran's Horton Investment Ltd. in June 2002 was part of an attempt to improperly influence Iranian oil officials.
An investigation by Norway's economic crime police, Oekokrim, resulted in a fine of 20 million kroner ($2.9 million).
Former chief executive Olav Fjell, who resigned in September 2003 because of the deal, was cleared of any wrongdoing, police said. Then-board chairman Leif Terje Loeddesoel also resigned in September during the scandal and was cleared of wrongdoing.
Statoil made the consulting agreement with Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, the son of former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, though his name did not appear in the paperwork, investigators said. That raised suspicions that the money might have been intended to influence Iranian public officials.
The Norwegian company canceled the contract on Sept. 10, 2003, and the next day police raided the company's offices in the southwest city of Stavanger.
A police report said Oekokrim concluded that the contract "involved an offer of improper advantages in return for Mehdi Hashemi and/or others influencing persons who were or would be involved in the decision-making processes relevant to Statoil's commercial activity in Iran."
The report said, however, that no evidence of Statoil money actually being used to influence Iraqi officials was discovered.
Statoil was founded in 1972 to oversee Norway's oil interests. It was partly privatized in 2001 when the state sold 17.5 percent of its shares to investors.
On the Net:
? 2004 The Associated Press


Iran offers new explanation for Kazemi's death
Associated Press and Canadian Press
POSTED AT 8:23 AM EDT Wednesday, Jul 28, 2004
Tehran -- Iran's judiciary said Wednesday Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died in custody from a fall after her blood pressure dropped during a hunger strike, a sharp shift in position on a case that has strained relations between Tehran and Ottawa since her death a year ago.
The judiciary also denounced President Mohammed Khatami's reformist administration, which offered Monday to help identify the murderer of Zahra Kazemi, accusing it of providing fuel for a "spiteful" foreign media.
"The death of Mrs. Zahra Kazemi was an accident," a judiciary statement said. A copy was obtained by Associated Press.
"With the acquittal of the sole defendant," the statement said, "only one option is left: The death of the late Kazemi was an accident due to fall in blood pressure resulting from a hunger strike and her fall on the ground while standing."
A Tehran court cleared secret agent Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi, the sole defendant in the case, on Saturday of killing Ms. Kazemi, who died of a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage in detention last July.
Ms. Kazemi, a Montreal freelance journalist born in Iran, died on July 10, 2003, while in detention for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during student-led protests against the ruling theocracy.
Iranian authorities initially said Ms. Kazemi died of a stroke, but a presidential committee later found that she died of a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage. Mr. Ahmadi was charged with "semi-premeditated murder." He denied it, and a team of lawyers representing the victim's mother contended that the real killer was Mohammed Bakhshi, a prison official who was being protected by the hardline judiciary.
Mr. Bakhshi was cleared of wrongdoing before Mr. Ahmadi's trial.
On Tuesday, Ms. Kazemi's son said Ottawa should kick Iran's ambassador out of the country.
Mr. Hachemi made the appeal just before he met Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew, who has yet to decide on concrete action to show Ottawa's displeasure with the Iranian government.
Mr. Hachemi, who has been harshly critical of Ottawa's handling of the affair, saw no reason to change his tone after his meeting with Mr. Pettigrew.
The minister refused to make any firm commitments to any of his proposals, he said.
"Until I hear him commit, he has failed me, he has failed my mother and he has failed human rights. ... The minister has not respected the memory of my mother.
Canadian officials have said they are considering a range of diplomatic pressure tactics, but have not indicated that expelling ambassador Mohammed Ali Mousavi is among them.
They are, however, studying the possibility of taking the Kazemi case to the International Court of Justice at The Hague -- another demand made by Mr. Hachemi.
Iran-Canada relations, soured by the slaying and subsequent quick burial of Ms. Kazemi in Iran against her son's wishes, further deteriorated after Iran rejected the idea of Canadian observers at the trial. The Canadian ambassador was barred from attending the last session of the otherwise open trial.
The Iranian judiciary's statement also accused Iranian government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh of making "irresponsible" comments when he directly challenged the judiciary Monday by saying Iran's Intelligence Ministry was prepared to identify the person behind Ms. Kazemi's murder if the judiciary allowed it to do so.
Mr. Ramezanzadeh, it said, was inciting public opinion, an accusation that could put the judiciary and government in a direct confrontation if formally pursued as a criminal charge. Judiciary spokesman Zahed Bashirirad said Wednesday there was no intention to indict Mr. Ramezanzadeh at the moment.
The judiciary statement said Mr. Ramezanzadeh had ignored the fact that the court gets the final say in any legal case.
Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, who represents the victim's mother, has rejected the court proceedings as flawed, and has vowed to "work until my last breath" to find the murderer.

Iranian Prosecutor Shuts 2 Newspapers
Outlets Reported on Trial That Implicated Official in Death of Detained Photographer
By Karl Vick
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, July 27, 2004; Page A18
ISTANBUL, July 26 -- An Iranian prosecutor has ordered the closures of two newspapers that reported last week on a trial involving a case in which he is alleged to have been involved.
The prosecutor, Said Mortazavi, shut down Jomhouriat, which had published for only 12 days, and Vaghayeh Ettefaghieh over their coverage of the trial of an intelligence agent accused of beating and killing an Iranian Canadian photographer at a prison in the Iranian capital, Tehran, last year. Mortazavi, who supervised interrogations at the prison, has been accused by Canadian authorities of having a role in the killing. The only person charged, however, was the agent, Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi.
On Saturday, a Tehran court acquitted Ahmadi, and Iran's hard-line judicial branch subsequently declared that the case would never be solved.
The shuttering of the newspapers served as an example to other Iranian news media, sources in Tehran said. According to the sources, who said they were warned by Mortazavi's office not to give interviews to the foreign press but who passed information through intermediaries, the papers may be able to reopen in August.
"It shows how Mortazavi has done everything he could to hide and cover up the evidence," said Stephan Hachemi, son of the slain photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi. "There is no hope. They have proved that Iran has no intention whatsoever of bringing justice to the case of Zahra Kazemi."
When Kazemi died in detention after a blow to the head, Mortazavi ordered Iranian officials to announce that she died of natural causes, according to two outside investigations. She was later found to have died of a brain hemorrhage caused by a fractured skull.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, an attorney who represents Kazemi's family, threatened to take the case to international courts.
Iranian reformers embraced the case of Kazemi, an Iranian-born Canadian citizen who was widely seen as a surrogate for Iranian nationals who disappear into a judicial system that answers only to the theocracy's most senior cleric. But outcry over this case spread beyond the country's borders.
Canada recalled its ambassador after he was denied a promised seat at the trial. The envoy had also been recalled last summer after Kazemi's body was buried in Iran without an opportunity for an independent autopsy abroad.
"This trial has done nothing to answer the real questions about how Zahra Kazemi died or to bring the perpetrators of her murder to justice," Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew declared in a statement.
Reporters Without Borders, an advocacy group based in Paris, denounced the trial as "a masquerade of justice orchestrated by the Iranian authorities" and called for the European Union to impose sanctions. The group also protested the shuttering of the two newspapers.
In a symbolic gesture, about 300 journalists bound their hands Monday to protest mounting restrictions on free expression. Ebadi attended the meeting of the Journalists' Professional Association.
For hard-liners in Iran, the judiciary has long served as both a stronghold and a sanctuary, where appointed conservatives have been able to thwart the efforts of elected reformers. Mortazavi has been its most notorious operative, closing more than 100 newspapers that questioned Iran's authoritarian rule.
But after 25 years as one of the world's most isolated states, Iran has also made clear an appetite to cultivate economic and diplomatic ties abroad. The decision to open its shadowy nuclear program to international inspectors was linked to promises of trade with Europe.
External pressure forced Iran's judiciary to proceed with the trial, which could only embarrass hard-liners, according to foreign diplomats based in Iran. After Ahmadi was acquitted, the state offered to pay "blood money" to Kazemi's family, "as Islamic law stipulates . . . for a Muslim within state responsibility when perpetrators of a crime are not identified," the judiciary said in a statement published by Iran's official news agency.
Hachemi, the victim's son, scoffed at the offer and called for Canada to break diplomatic relations with Tehran, as Washington did in 1979 after the takeover of the U.S. Embassy there. "Since we don't have a dialogue with Iran, what's the use of having an ambassador?" he said.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the reformist faction of the government on Monday repeated an offer to the judiciary for "a full and transparent investigation."
A diplomat based in Tehran said that such a probe would be highly unlikely after Mortazavi and other hard-liners thwarted two earlier investigations but added that the case "is not going to die an easy death."
? 2004 The Washington Post Company


The Pain That Will Never Go Away
Cruelty and death reign in Sudan, and war brews.
The world rushes to help, while we, we Malaysians celebrate another deal in our pockets:
A three-member consortium led by Malaysia's MMC Corp (MMCB.KL) has won a US$65.6 million contract to build an oil pipeline in Sudan's Melut Basin, MMC said on Monday [July 26].
The consortium, which include China's Sinopec (SNP.N) (0386.HK) and Oman Construction Co., won the deal from Petrodar Operating Company which is developing two oil reserves - Block 3 and 7 - in Sudan's southeast, MMC said in a statement.
The project, due to be completed in May 2005, involves laying a 490-km export pipeline for segment B1 of the Melut Basin Development Project.
Petrodar is a venture between China National Petroleum Company International (Nile) Ltd, Petronas Carigali Overseas Sdn Bhd, Sudapet Ltd, Gulf Oil Petroleum Ltd and Al Thani Corp.
Sinopec, Asia's largest refiner and China's leading importer of gas oil, holds the majority 41 percent stake in Petrodar.
Petronas Carigali, the overseas exploration arm of Malaysian energy firm Petronas, holds 40 percent, while Sudapet, Gulf oil and Al Thani jointly hold the remaining 19 percent. [Reuters via Sudan Tribune: Malaysia's MMC, Sinopec in Sudan oil pipeline deal]
The last three companies that have annouced plum deals in Sudan -- Ranhill, Lankhorst and MMC -- are all led by Muslim Malaysians. Well done.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Foreign Ministry and Petronas: if you're reading this [and I know some of you are], and you feel you can outlast me on this one, you thought wrong.
The shit in Sudan is going to last longer than you think, and I will try my level best to be the pain in your orifice until you show some balls and some spine.
Posted at 01:37 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
>> UN BAH...

U.S. Drops Sanctions From U.N. Resolution
The United States dropped the word "sanctions" from a draft U.N. resolution on Sudan on Thursday due to opposition on the Security Council, but it retained a threat of economic action against Khartoum if it fails to disarm Arab militias in Darfur.
The Security Council announced it was ready to vote Friday on the resolution, which has been revised four times in the past week as the United States sought to overcome objections.
Pakistan, China and Russia argued that the 15-nation Security Council argued that Sudan should be given more time to end the violence that some have called ethnic cleansing and even genocide.
In Kuwait, Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters the United States acquiesced in the change from "sanctions" to "measures" because the latter word was more acceptable to a broader number of Security Council members.
He acknowledged that there is concern in Egypt and some other countries that too much pressure on the Sudanese government could cause internal problems that would make the situation worse.
"At the same time, everybody recognizes that pressure is needed or else we wouldn't get any action at all," Powell said.
Algerian Ambassador Abdallah Baali, whose country also opposed the previous text, welcomed the new version and said he hoped for a unanimous vote. "At first glance, we feel that we are more comfortable with this text than we were with the other versions," he said.
U.S. and British officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Pakistan, Russia and China still had reservations but they were confident the minimum nine "yes" votes could be obtained.
The new draft would still call on Sudan to disarm Arab militias blamed for rampant violence in the western region of Darfur.
It requires U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to report every 30 days "and expresses its intention to consider further actions, including measures as provided for in Article 41 of the (U.N. Charter) on the Government of Sudan in the event of noncompliance."
The previous text had specifically threatened "the imposition of sanctions."
The draft also would impose an arms embargo that would apply to individuals, groups or governments that supply the pro-government Arab militias known as Janjaweed or rebel groups.
The Janjaweed have staged a brutal campaign to drive out black African farmers over the last 17 months. At least 30,000 civilians, most of them black villagers, have been killed, more than 1 million displaced and some 2.2 million left in urgent need of food or medical attention.
U.S. Ambassador John Danforth insisted the changes did not weaken the text and said he hoped for a unanimous vote to send a strong message to the Sudanese government to stop the violence.
"It's the potential of sanctions in 30 days," he said, reading the article from a copy of the U.N. charter. "The government of Sudan must fulfill that responsibility to the people of Darfur. If it does not then there will be consequences."
Measures included in the 68-word Article 41 exclude the use of armed force but say "complete or partial interruption of economic relations ... and the severance of diplomatic relations" could be considered.
Danforth stressed the importance of "starting the clock ticking," with the 30-day clause, saying it was crucial to increase pressure on Sudan to rein in pro-government Arab militias who have killed thousands in a brutal campaign against black farmers in Darfur.
Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Elfatih Mohamed Erwa criticized the resolution Wednesday, saying it was politically motivated. He said his government would work with the African Union to stop the violence.
"We are going to work with the African Union, not because there is a set of sanctions, but because we believe that this is the right path," he said.
Egypt, which is not on the Security Council but wields great influence in the Arab world, also said it would try to prevent a resolution threatening sanctions from being adopted.
The Sudanese government, which has accused the international community of meddling, has promised to disarm the militias and says sanctions will only hurt those efforts.
The new draft also retains a clause calling on Sudan to "fulfill its commitments to disarm the Janjaweed militias," as it told Annan it would do on July 3.
The Darfur conflict stems from long-standing tensions between nomadic Arab tribes and their African neighbors over dwindling water and farmland. Those tensions exploded into violence in February 2003 when two African rebel groups took up arms over what they regard as unjust treatment by the government.
U.S. and humanitarian officials have accused the Sudanese government of backing the Janjaweed, a claim the government denies.

The price of unexpected success
Jul 29th 2004 | PARIS
From The Economist print edition
The prime minister may have saved his skin by doing better than expected at promoting change-but voters are still not impressed
WHEN President Jacques Chirac unexpectedly retained Jean-Pierre Raffarin as his prime minister, despite this year's dismal round of election results, savvy voters felt a game was being played: Mr Raffarin's role was to take the rap for some tough measures that lay ahead. Widespread unrest over a reform of public-health insurance and a move to privatise the electricity utility was widely expected. The unions would take to the streets. Public services would be paralysed. All this confirmed the view that Mr Raffarin was being used as a fall-guy.
Yet as France's parliamentary year ended this week, Mr Raffarin has several grounds for satisfaction. He has survived a vote of confidence. He has also just passed one clutch of reforms, and unveiled a fresh round for the autumn. Has his last-ditch effort to keep his job paid off?
Against the odds, the government has pulled off three important initiatives. The first is a law to turn Electricit? de France, a nest of Communist-backed unionism, into a public company. Although workers will retain their civil-service perks, this opens the way for partial privatisation. The government insists that it will keep a 70% stake, but similar promises have been disregarded in the past. Given the symbolism of EDF, whose powerful unions have petrified previous governments, this change in itself is no small achievement.
Second, the government has passed a law to prop up France's public health-insurance system. Though health care is first-class, costs are out of control. The French are second only to the Americans in popping pills, and spend 9% of GDP on health, second in Europe only to Germany. This year, France's public-health fund deficit is expected to top ?13 billion ($15.7 billion).
The reform stops short of a radical overhaul. Fran?ois Bayrou, a centrist politician, dismisses it as a r?formette. Yet it nevertheless introduces important principles that have long been resisted by politicians and doctors. These include an up-front, non-reimbursable charge (initially one euro) for consulting a doctor; the introduction of computerised and shared medical records, to cut down on duplicated testing and to help diagnoses; and the requirement to be registered with a single family doctor, who will act as a gatekeeper for specialist consultations. Such changes may appear simple common sense, but in France's liberal medical world they are regarded as big infringements on individual freedom. Hoped-for efficiency gains, if achieved, will be accompanied by an increase in social charges to help to control the deficit.
The third reform, guillotined through parliament this week to howls of protest from the opposition Socialist Party--a move which in itself triggered the vote of confidence--decentralises a bit of the civil service. The law devolves certain responsibilities, including national roads, most ports and airports, certain social-housing funds and training schemes, and technical secondary-school employees and caretakers. Some 130,000 civil servants will be transferred to local authorities. The government says it wants to rationalise a labyrinthine public service. It also calculates that it will be less difficult to shed bureaucratic jobs in future if they are not all centrally based.
All of which led Mr Raffarin, flush with his successes, to claim this week that it had been "a great year of reform for France". The health reform in particular, he added, showed that it was possible to modernise France without provoking a choc social. In a bid to reassert authority, he unveiled a fresh burst of reforms for the autumn.
On the labour market, the unemployed will be given incentives and help to find work, including the possibility of benefit cut-offs; discussions will re-open on ways to make the 35-hour week more flexible. On the public service, there will be a reform to ensure that basic trains and other public services operate during strikes, to avoid the habitual paralysis; some 10,000 civil-service jobs will be cut. On education, research will get a big cash injection, while secondary schooling will be reformed. In short, Mr Raffarin seemed to say, he has life left in him yet. Indeed, the man whom many consider a caretaker, has now lasted longer as prime minister than both Alain Jupp?, in 1995-1997, and Mr Chirac's most recent term, in 1986-1988.
All the same, Mr Raffarin can scarcely be complacent. His confidence rating has sunk from a high of 64% in 2002 to just 26% today. Worse, according to the latest monthly popularity ranking from IFOP, a pollster, he ranks a miserable number 32--below both the Communist and the Trotskyite leaders. A majority of deputies in the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) have now swung behind Nicolas Sarkozy, the ambitious finance minister, for the vacant job as its new boss.
This weakness is partly explained by Mr Raffarin's unpopular reforms. But it also undermines their impact: the prime minister pushes through important reforms with one hand, while handing out concessions to special-interest groups--tobacco sellers, research scientists, part-time theatre technicians--with the other.
Mr Raffarin may have secured his job for the autumn. He certainly reckons on keeping it longer: he has started to plan a campaign for a yes vote in the French referendum on the European constitution, due to be held in late 2005. But the more restless that UMP deputies become, the more his lack of popularity, and authority, will be a problem. If the president keeps him on, it will probably be because--for now--he has no acceptable alternative.
Copyright ? 2004 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.



Kerrys raced to dump foreign stocks
By David R. Guarino
Read Guarino's Road to Boston Blog
Thursday, July 29, 2004
John Kerry's family dumped millions of dollars of foreign holdings as he launched his White House bid, gobbling up Made in the USA stocks in a huge politically savvy international-to-domestic shift.
The investments, mostly in the name of Kerry's multimillionaire wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, sold stock in massive overseas players like Heineken, Sony, British Petroleum and Italian Telecom for red, white and blue companies like McDonald's, Dell and Kohls.
In all, the Kerrys dumped as much as $16 million worth of international stock and bought between $18 million and $32 million in domestic holdings between 2002 and 2003, records show.
The swaps, detailed in Kerry's financial disclosures for the presidential race, come to light as the Bay State senator tonight wraps himself in Americana to accept the Democratic Party nomination.
The senator's campaign said the investments are managed not by the Kerrys but by professional investment managers for the family trustees - of which Heinz Kerry is only one.
Marla Romash, a senior adviser to Kerry, said the financial decisions aren't political.
``The trustees and Mrs. Heinz Kerry have asked these investment managers, who make their own investment decisions, only to take appropriate steps to ensure that investments are responsible and financially prudent,'' Romash said. ``The trustees review these investments periodically with the managers to ensure that these investments are responsible as well as financially prudent.''
But the timing of the sales appears to be an anomaly among a relatively consistent investment pattern.
Through most of Kerry's federal disclosure forms, the Heinz Kerry trusts - which invest some of the massive inheritance after the death of her first husband, Sen. H. John Heinz III, more than a decade ago - show steady investments and sales of overseas assets.
In the spring of 2002, as Kerry seriously began weighing a presidential run, there appeared to be a marked increase in sales of overseas holdings.
The forms, which only list a range of figures, show the trusts sold between $7.2 million and $16.1 million in assets that year. The trust reported dividends of as much as $68,000 on the sales.
Among the assets dropped were: Cadbury Schweppes, the British candy and soda maker - with between $50,001 and $100,000 in stock sold in March 2002; Japan's Canon, Sony and Toyota - with more than $100,000 in each sold in March 2002; and France's Vivendi, Total Fina, Suez and Compagnie De Saint-Gobain.
The records also show the trust sold between $250,001 and $500,000 of BNP Paribas stock in April 2002, before the French bank was ensnared in the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal at the United Nations.
Later that year and in 2003, the trusts began bolstering its domestic holdings - buying more than $50,000 in Harley Davidson stock, more than $100,000 in Costco, more than $250,000 in Kohls, Raytheon, and Kraft Foods, and as much as $1 million in Dell and McDonald's.

John Kerry, aristocrate de gauche
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Fils de diplomate, remari? ? une riche h?riti?re, le candidat d?mocrate ? la Maison BLanche a tout du privil?gi?. Ses convictions, pourtant, sont plus profondes qu'il n'y para?t.
Le probl?me de John Kerry, ce n'est pas qu'on ne le conna?t pas, c'est qu'on le conna?t trop." "Encore un de ces riches ?litistes de gauche du Massachusetts qui pr?tend ?tre un homme du peuple ! Impayable !" "Il se pr?sente comme un candidat populiste. Sa premi?re femme venait d'une grande famille de Philadelphie, qui p?se 300 millions de dollars. Sa seconde femme est une h?riti?re des cornichons et du ketchup." "Pour se d?fendre de l'accusation d'?tre distant, Kerry cite l'?crivain fran?ais Andr? Gide : "N'essayez pas de me comprendre trop vite !" Pas de probl?me ! Nous n'avons jamais entendu parler d'Andr? Gide."
Dans la campagne pour l'?lection pr?sidentielle du 2 novembre, les caricatures volent bas. Les pol?mistes de droite n'ont pas ? envier l'ardeur des "Bush-haters" ("ha?sseurs de Bush") de gauche. Pour les r?dacteurs de publicit?s t?l?vis?es, les chroniqueurs radio ou les sites Internet r?publicains, John Kerry repr?sente tout ce qu'un conservateur am?ricain d?teste. Il appartient ? la haute soci?t? de Nouvelle-Angleterre, il a v?cu en Europe, il est cultiv?, de gauche, catholique de la tendance tol?rante. Qui plus est, il si?ge au S?nat depuis presque vingt ans, et les "politiciens de Washington" ont, par d?finition, mauvaise r?putation. Il a m?me fini par devenir ami avec l'autre s?nateur du Massachusetts, Edward Kennedy, parangon de la gauche d?mocrate la plus traditionnelle, certains diraient sectaire.
Naturellement, les caricatures ont raison. Elles sont m?me au-dessous de la v?rit?. Il est difficile d'imaginer un homme politique plus compliqu? que John Forbes Kerry. Sa naissance, d?j?, est un d?fi aux id?es re?ues. Son p?re ?tait un diplomate au patronyme irlandais, de confession catholique, form? aux universit?s Yale et Harvard.
Richard Kerry n'a jamais dit ? son fils ce que celui-ci a appris par un article du Boston Globe en 2003 : ses grands-parents ?taient des juifs d'Europe centrale, convertis au catholicisme en 1902 et arriv?s aux Etats-Unis en 1905. Fritz Kohn a emprunt? le nom d'un comt? d'Irlande pour devenir Frederick Kerry. Avec sa femme, Ida, il s'est install? ? Chicago, puis ? Brookline, dans le Massachusetts. Apr?s deux faillites, Frederick Kerry n'en a pas support? une troisi?me et s'est tir? une balle dans la t?te, dans les toilettes d'un h?tel de Boston, en 1921.
La m?re de John Kerry, Rosemary Forbes, appartient ? l'une des familles les plus anciennes de cette grande bourgeoisie de Boston surnomm?e "les brahmanes", tant elle forme une caste s?re de sa valeur et de sa place dans la soci?t?. Les Forbes se sont enrichis dans le commerce avec la Chine - celui de l'opium, entre autres - et poss?dent des terrains ? Cape Cod, lieu de vill?giature des fortunes de Nouvelle-Angleterre.
Le p?re de Rosemary avait ?pous? une descendante de John Winthrop, qui fut, au d?but du XVIIe si?cle, le premier gouverneur du Massachusetts. Ces Forbes-l? vivaient en Bretagne, ? Saint-Briac-sur-Mer. John et Margaret Forbes avaient onze enfants, et c'est ? Saint-Brieuc, o? il ?tudiait la sculpture, pendant l'?t? 1938, que Richard Kerry a rencontr? celle qui est devenue sa femme, trois ans plus tard. Pilote d'essai de l'arm?e de l'air, Richard Kerry a ?t? hospitalis?, pour une tuberculose, dans le Colorado. John est n?, ? Denver, le 11 d?cembre 1943.
Pourtant, bien qu'apparent?s ? la plus ancienne aristocratie de ce pays qui ne conna?t pas les titres de noblesse, le futur s?nateur, ses deux s?urs et son fr?re n'ont pas ?t? ?lev?s dans le luxe. Leur famille maternelle ?tait une branche modeste de la tribu Forbes, et leur p?re ?tait un diplomate de niveau moyen, qui n'a jamais atteint le rang d'ambassadeur.
Quand John, apr?s un s?jour dans une pension suisse, est entr? au coll?ge Saint Paul, dans le New Hampshire, sa scolarit? a ?t? pay?e gr?ce ? la g?n?rosit? d'une grand-tante. A Saint Paul, il ?tait doublement isol?, catholique dans un milieu anglican - la religion des grands bourgeois anglophiles du Nord-Est - et imp?cunieux parmi des jeunes gens aux poches pleines, assur?s de leur avenir et qui trouvaient un peu ?trange de travailler autant qu'il le faisait. "Il ?tait tr?s pugnace", a racont? un de ses condisciples, Danny Barbiero, lui aussi atypique dans cet ?tablissement. Et d'ajouter : "Ce n'?tait pas cool de l'?tre, ? Saint Paul. Vous n'aviez pas ? l'?tre. Vous aviez un droit de naissance."
Le jeune Kerry s'impose par l'effort. Il est bon ?l?ve. Il brille au hockey sur glace, dans une ?quipe dirig?e par Robert Mueller, aujourd'hui directeur du FBI. Il fait du th??tre et joue - ou pr?tend jouer, il y a d?bat sur ce point... - de la guitare basse dans un groupe de rock. Il ?crit dans le journal de l'?cole, o?, en mai 1962, deux mois apr?s les accords d'Evian, qui ont mis fin ? la guerre d'Alg?rie, il publie un curieux po?me sur de Gaulle et le d?clin de l'empire fran?ais.
Il drague les filles, parmi lesquelles une demi-s?ur de Jackie Kennedy, ce qui lui vaut d'assister ? la r?gate de l'America Cup, au large de Rhode Island, sur le m?me voilier que le pr?sident des Etats-Unis. Il commence peut-?tre, alors, ? se croire un destin. En tout cas, quand il entre, la m?me ann?e, ? Yale, il se sent chez lui, dans cette universit? prestigieuse, et tient des discours de plus en plus cat?goriques sur la politique nationale et internationale.
Partisan enthousiaste de John Kennedy, il devient pr?sident de la Yale Political Union, association d'?tudiants qui organise des d?bats politiques. Il est initi?, aussi, ? la myst?rieuse Skull and Bones Society ("Soci?t? des cr?nes et des os"), cette confr?rie de Yale ? laquelle ont appartenu les deux George Bush et qui, comme toutes les soci?t?s secr?tes, excite les imaginations. En fait, on y est coopt? pour ses m?rites, qu'ils soient scolaires, sportifs ou de camaraderie. Y ?tre admis est, ? la fois, un rite de passage - le nouvel arrivant doit, notamment, raconter en d?tail sa vie sexuelle depuis l'enfance - et une voie de socialisation. Sur les quinze membres de Skull and Bones qui ont obtenu leur dipl?me de sortie en 1966, quatre se sont engag?s dans les forces arm?es. Bien qu'il ait pass? une grande partie de son temps, pendant sa derni?re ann?e ? Yale, ? s'initier ? l'aviation, avec son camarade Frederick Smith, futur fondateur de Federal Express, John Kerry a choisi la marine plut?t que l'arm?e de l'air.
L'influence de son p?re, qui s'?tait engag? lui-m?me ? la fin de ses ?tudes, semble avoir ?t? grande, mais ambigu?. Richard Kerry a quitt? le Foreign Service en 1962, las de ses lourdeurs bureaucratiques et amer de ne pas avoir vu ses qualit?s reconnues. Dans un entretien au Boston Globe, en 1996, il a expliqu? qu'il consid?rait la guerre du Vietnam comme "une grave faute politique", mais que son fils voulait "brandir le drapeau"et qu'il ?tait "tr?s immature ? cet ?gard".
En octobre 1965, John Kerry a remis au vice-pr?sident Hubert Humphrey, de passage ? New Haven, dans le Connecticut, o? se trouve l'universit? Yale, une p?tition condamnant les manifestations contre la guerre. Pourtant, sept mois plus tard, choisi pour prononcer le discours de fin d'ann?e universitaire, le jeune engag? critique la politique du pr?sident Lyndon Johnson. "Nous n'avons pas r?ellement perdu le d?sir de servir. Nous nous interrogeons sur les racines de ce que nous servons", dit-il.
L'h?sitation de John Kerry face ? la guerre du Vietnam semble annoncer celle dont il a fait preuve, pr?s de quarante ans plus tard, au sujet de l'Irak. Lui qui s'?tait prononc?, au S?nat, en 1991, contre la premi?re guerre du Golfe, a longtemps tergivers? avant de voter, en octobre 2002, la r?solution autorisant George Bush ? employer la force contre Saddam Hussein.
Un an plus tard, il a refus? le collectif budg?taire de 87 milliards de dollars destin? ? couvrir les d?penses militaires et l'occupation du pays. Dans une d?claration dont les r?publicains n'ont pas fini de se d?lecter, il a expliqu? qu'il avait "vot? pour avant de voter contre". "En effet, c'est beaucoup plus clair comme ?a", ironise le vice-pr?sident, Richard Cheney, de r?union publique en d?ner de collecte de fonds. Le s?nateur a voulu dire qu'il soutenait le projet, avec un amendement d?mocrate pr?voyant de r?duire les baisses d'imp?ts sur les hauts revenus, et qu'il a vot? contre apr?s que cet amendement eut ?t? rejet? par les r?publicains.
La question n'est pas l?, ?videmment. Elle est de savoir si, trois ans apr?s les attentats du 11 septembre, alors que leurs forces sont engag?es en Afghanistan et en Irak, et face ? une menace terroriste qui n'a pas diminu?, les Am?ricains peuvent s'en remettre ? un homme qui para?t craindre de faire la guerre.
A ce doute sur sa d?termination, John Kerry r?pond en invoquant, inlassablement, ses ?tats de service au Vietnam. Il y a ?t? bless? plusieurs fois, il y a abattu au moins un ennemi, il y a sauv? des camarades, il en est revenu d?cor?. "Cela fait trente-cinq ans que je d?montre ce qu'est ma politique", d?clare-t-il dans l'hebdomadaire The New Yorker(dat? 26 juillet). Il a approuv? les interventions dans les Balkans, d?cri?es, ? l'?poque, par les r?publicains. Il a soutenu les actions men?es en Ha?ti et ? Panama. "Je suis clair, dit-il, sur ma volont? d'employer la force, si n?cessaire, pour prot?ger nos int?r?ts dans le monde et, ?videmment, la s?curit? de notre pays." A ses yeux, l'Irak n'est pas un bourbier dont il faudrait sortir au plus vite et ? tout prix, mais une erreur ? r?parer.
A la fin des ann?es 1960 et au d?but des ann?es 1970, John Kerry dirigeait les Vietnam Veterans Against War, les anciens combattants oppos?s ? la guerre. "C'est un fumiste, non ?", demandait Richard Nixon, ?lu pr?sident, en 1968, en promettant de mettre fin ? la guerre et qui l'a prolong?e pendant sept ans. T?moignant au S?nat, avec l'aide d'Edward Kennedy, et ? la t?l?vision, le lieutenant Kerry a d?nonc?, en 1971, les "atrocit?s" que cette guerre faisait commettre aux soldats am?ricains.
Une des cl?s de sa pens?e se trouve peut-?tre dans le livre que son p?re a publi? en 1990, The Star Spangled Mirror ( Le Miroir ?toil?). Richard Kerry y d?non?ait les fautes que peut commettre l'Am?rique quand elle se persuade de sa sup?riorit? et de sa mission civilisatrice. John Kerry ne partage pas le radicalisme de son p?re, mort en 2000, mais il ne cesse de reprocher ? George Bush d'avoir men? "la politique ?trang?re la plus arrogante, la plus inepte, la plus brutale et la plus id?ologique de l'histoire moderne". Il croit ? la n?cessit? des interventions humanitaires, mais, dans le grand d?bat am?ricain sur ce que doit ?tre la politique des Etats-Unis vis-?-vis du reste du monde, il se situe du c?t? des "r?alistes", qui donnent la priorit? aux alliances et ? l'?quilibre des puissances, contre les "id?alistes", qui pr?chent la diffusion de la d?mocratie.
Son mariage, en 1970, avec Julia Thorne, s?ur d'un de ses camarades de Yale, s'est achev?, en 1988, par un divorce. Sept ans plus tard, le s?nateur du Massachusetts a ?pous? Teresa Heinz, veuve d'un de ses anciens coll?gues, le r?publicain John Heinz, mort dans un accident d'avion. H?riti?re des conserves Heinz, Teresa Kerry g?re une immense fortune, et le s?nateur m?ne grande vie, avec elle et leur famille recompos?e, de leur maison de Boston ? celle de Georgetown, quartier chic de Washington, de l'?le de Nantucket aux pistes de ski de l'Idaho, d'une propri?t? ? Pittsburgh, en Pennsylvanie, berceau de la famille Heinz, ? un chalet ? Aspen, dans le Colorado.
Cela n'emp?che pas le candidat d?mocrate de faire partie de ces privil?gi?s qui pensent que l'Am?rique a du chemin ? faire pour tenir ses promesses en mati?re de justice, d'?quit? et de solidarit?. Pour George Bush, c'est "toujours le m?me vieux pessimisme". Pour John Kerry, c'est "la confiance dans ce dont ce pays est capable".
Patrick Jarreau


Kerry Spot [ jim geraghty reporting ]
[ kerry spot home | archives | email ]
TALE OF A TAPE [07/28 11:11 AM]

John Kerry at Kennedy Space Center. Remind you of another Mass. liberal in a tank?
Wednesday morning, the GOP fired one of the biggest guns in its counter-spin arsenal: a twelve-minute video of John Kerry's statements on Iraq and how to handle Saddam Hussein, contrasting his pro-war views of 1998 and 2003 with his antiwar views of 1991 and 2004.
While the charge that John Kerry is a flip-flopper is nothing new, rarely has the case been made so comprehensively, in such detail, relying almost entirely on the Democratic senator's own words.
There are quite a few Kerry quotes that have disappeared down the memory hole that are worth recollecting. Like his statement on Dec. 11, 2001, on The O'Reilly Factor (does it seem shocking now that Kerry once appeared on O'Reilly's show?): "I think we ought to put the heat on Saddam Hussein. I've said that for a number of years, Bill. I criticized the Clinton administration for backing off of the inspections when Ambassador Butler was giving us strong evidence that we needed to continue. I think we need to put the pressure on no matter what the evidence is about September 11."
Got that? Tougher stance than Clinton. Evidence about 9/11 is irrelevant.
Kerry on Larry King Live, several days later: "I think we clearly have to keep the pressure on terrorism globally. This doesn't end with Afghanistan by any imagination. And I think the president has made that clear. I think we have made that clear. Terrorism is a global menace. It's a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue, for instance, Saddam Hussein."
Afghanistan's not enough. Continue the fight. Take Saddam Hussein.
Then this exchange with Chris Matthews on Feb. 5, 2002: Matthews asked, "Do you think that the problem we have with Iraq is real and it can be reduced to a diplomatic problem? Can we get this guy to accept inspections of those weapons of mass destruction potentially and get past a possible war with him?"
"Outside chance, Chris," Kerry responded. "Could it be done? The answer is yes. But he would view himself only as buying time and playing a game, in my judgment. Do we have to go through that process? The answer is yes. We're precisely doing that. And I think that's what Colin Powell did today."
There was no complaining then about a "rush to war." No warnings that Saddam Hussein's WMD programs might not be as advanced as the administration feared. No skepticism about the intelligence, no blood-for-oil, no conspiracy theories about Chalabi and Halliburton and neocons.
Finally, his speech to the Democratic Leadership Council's national convention on July 29, 2002: "I agree completely with this administration's goal of a regime change in Iraq."
What makes the video more than a collection of Kerry's rhetorical hits is its documentation of how outside events were influencing the Democratic senator's political positions. Specifically, as 2003 wore on, Howard Dean rocketed to the top of the Democratic-primary polls and garnered laudatory press coverage. And Kerry obviously, blatantly, started borrowing Dean's anti-war rhetoric.
By August 2003, Kerry was declaring on Meet the Press, "The fact is, in the resolution that we passed, we did not empower the president to do regime change."
By October, the struggling Kerry was insisting that the war he had said he "agreed completely with" was unnecessary. "But the president and his advisors did not do almost anything correctly in the walk-up to the war. They rushed to war. They were intent on going to war. They did not give legitimacy to the inspections. We could have still been doing inspections even today, George."
Remember, the previous February, Kerry had dismissed diplomatic negotiations for more inspections as Saddam's "buying time and playing a game."
Judging by the 100-percent certainty with which Kerry made both sets of comments, he doesn't seem to even acknowledge that they contradict each other. Both appear to accurately express his views at the moment he speaks them.
The point is that there isn't truth or untruth to Kerry's views. There is simply what is needed and what is not needed, and the True North of Kerry's rhetorical and policy compass is whatever he needs politically at that time.
George Clooney's character in Three Kings, a film about the first Gulf War, explains to three soldiers under his command that "the most important thing in life is necessity... As in people do what is most necessary to them at any given moment."
What does Kerry stand for? Whatever is most necessary to him at that particular moment.
One could say that's not unique to Kerry, and may be a common trait among politicians. But what would this mean in a president? Periodically, Sen. Edward Kennedy or some other Democrat will make the stupendously illogical charge that George W. Bush made the call to go to war in Iraq in order to boost his poll numbers. But the political boost from a war, the rally-around-the-flag effect, is notoriously short lived. Winston Churchill won World War II and got tossed out on his tush by British voters almost the moment the war ended.
President Bush didn't decide to got to war to boost his poll numbers. In spite of the near-certainty that it would erode his high poll numbers after toppling the Taliban, Bush made the decision to go ahead.
What would John Kerry do in a similar situation? How dire would a threat have to be for him to risk his popularity on an unpopular war? Or would he put his faith in diplomacy with dictators and agreements with rogue states -- "buying time and playing a game," as he once described it?
Before the voters can consider that question, Kerry's long and meandering views on Iraq have to be brought front and center before the millions of Americans who are not paying close attention to this race. Unfortunately, this video format doesn't lend itself well to the traditional methods.
It's way too long to condense into a 30- or 60-second ad. If it were shown during the GOP convention, it would be putting the spotlight on the challenger instead of the president, and much of the media would explode with fury at the "negative campaigning." Some political shows might spotlight it, but few would be willing to let it run for the entire eleven minutes. Maybe C-SPAN will show it. Perhaps it could serve as the entertainment for the Bush "House Parties."
Maybe talk radio could run the audio of the tape uninterrupted.
A GOP source says the idea of buying airtime on the networks, like H. Ross Perot did in 1992, has been tossed around. One way or another, this 11-minute tape will be coming to a place near you in the not-too-distant future.

The Party's Parties
Lavish Parties Lead to Access at Nominating Convention

By Meredith O'Brien

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2004 -- At this year's Democratic national convention in Boston, special interests are planning and paying for a reported 200 private parties and receptions for lawmakers and party officials. Corporations, unions, lobbying firms and interest groups will host the Democratic elite at nightclubs, fine dining establishments, museums--even Fenway Park.

Though party officials will not comment on or release a list of the parties, the Center for Public Integrity has identified 70 events, 33 of which are hosted by Boston 2004, the private host committee designated to raise funds and organize welcoming events for the convention. The remaining parties have as sponsors the likes of insurance giant American International Group, biotech firm Genzyme, telecommunications firms Time Warner and Comcast, lobbying firms Patton Boggs LLP and Foley Hoag LLP, unions including the AFL-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Carpenters, and trade groups like the American Gas Association and the National Association of Broadcasters.

Corporations and unions used to be able to curry favor with lawmakers by pouring unlimited amounts of cash into the soft money coffers of one or both major political parties. Organizations and issue oriented groups used to show their affection and keen interest in parties' actions the same way, making sure that their money kept them in the game.

But now that once healthy spigot of unlimited campaign cash has been shut off by campaign finance laws prohibiting soft money donations, companies and interest groups have sought out other ways to show the political parties that they're players too, and to make sure that the next time a bill or policy they're interested in crops up, that they are consulted.

One solution: Lavish parties at the presidential nominating conventions.

In the words of one campaign finance expert, they are raising party planning "to an art form." While exclusive parties are not new to the convention scene, watchdog groups say this year's receptions will be more extravagant to make up for the absence of soft money donations. "This year, the number of private affairs is expected to far exceed previous conventions," wrote Bill McConnell in the trade publication, Broadcasting and Cable. "Independent party planners will throw nearly 50 blowouts costing $100,000 or more each, according to estimates."

However, the precise number of parties and where they're being held is a quasi-secret, reserved for only those in the know. When asked by the Center for Public Integrity for a list of private parties and receptions to be held in Boston during the late-July convention, the spokeswoman of the city's host committee, Boston 2004, played it close to the vest. "We have nothing to do with that," said Spokeswoman Karen Grant. "There's nothing coordinated." But the Boston Globe reported in June 2004 that it had obtained a "confidential calendar of private events, produced by the Boston 2004 convention host committee . . . [showing] nearly 200 receptions, luncheons and after-hours parties."

The official parties
There are official parties of course, hosted by Boston 2004, some 33 of them--at a total $1.8 million price-tag--at locations around the Hub, from museums, historic sites and parks, to a brewery, a cookie factory and university campuses. The biggest one is the reception for 15,000 members of the media at the just opened Boston Convention and Exhibition Center facing Boston Harbor. The Boston Globe is one of the sponsors for the $800,000 shindig, geared toward putting the best face on the city for the media who will project its image to the world for a week. The paper is contributing $500,000.

The other official gatherings are welcoming parties for the 56 state and territorial delegations attending the convention. Some delegates will be feted in historic style--the Pennsylvania delegation in the gold-domed State House on Beacon Hill and the hometown favorites, the Massachusetts delegation, in the grand Boston Public Library.

Others will be treated to unique receptions. Ohio delegates, for example, will be meeting at the Samuel Adams Brewery. Minnesota and North Dakota delegates will be welcomed at the Dancing Deer Baking Company, home to the "Break the Curse" molasses clove cookie, in honor of the Boston Red Sox's long World Series championship drought which coincided with the team trading Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.

On a less culinary note, the New Jersey delegates will gather in the Charlestown Navy Yard at the U.S.S. Constitution Museum, home of the over 200-year-old ship, while the California delegates will be consorting with wild life at the Franklin Park Zoo.

The unofficial parties
While the official parties are sure to be interesting, look for the real political action elsewhere, like at the Bay Tower Room with panoramic views of the city, or at Felt, the uber hip nightclub, or even at Locke-Ober, the high-end French restaurant favored by Boston's political establishment.

These are among the sites of some of the private gatherings slated for select Democrats during convention week. Companies ranging from telecommunications giants to insurance, fuel, bio-tech and financial institutions are ponying up hundreds of thousands of dollars to honor and fete those with power.

"It's not an opportunity that we want to let slide by," Daphne Magnuson, spokeswoman for the American Gas Association (AGA) told the Boston Globe, adding that the group has budgeted $700,000 to stage parties at the Boston and New York national conventions this summer.

The AGA has at least four events slated for the convention week, according to press reports. The trade group will host a dinner honoring Sen. Max Baucus, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, a late-night reception for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at a hopping nightclub, luncheons in the honor of Sen. Byron Dorgan and Sen. Jeff Bingaman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a reception for governors, according to the Boston Globe.

Two events are rivaling one another for the honor of being the hottest event in town: The Creative Coalition's benefit gala at Louis Boston, home of the Asian/French fusion Restaurant L in the city's high-end shopping area (Newbury Street), and the gala for Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy at Boston Symphony Hall.

The Creative Coalition--a group comprised of members of the arts and entertainment community--has the upper hand when it comes to Hollywood wattage. It's lined up celebrities like Boston's home boy Ben Affleck, Oscar winner Chris Cooper, actor William Baldwin and actress/Air America talk show host Janeane Garofalo to attend a fundraiser for the non-profit group, hosted with the Recording Industry Association of America, Esquire, Allied Domecq and Volkswagen. Alternative rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers are scheduled to perform at the fundraiser. Tickets to the event range from a low of $1,000 for one ticket, to $50,000, which would buy you 40 tickets, gift bags, 20 VIP tickets and Green Room Access, according to the Creative Coalition's site, which lists issues such as arts and music education, First Amendment rights, gun control and campaign finance reform as topics of importance to the group.

But when it comes to old fashioned political clout, the party for Kennedy, featuring Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Pops, with conductor John Williams, is a strong competitor. The event, which is estimated to cost $400,000-$600,000, is being sponsored by a handful of corporations and unions, including, Raytheon, Bristol-Myers Squibb, the AFL-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Carpenters, which all gave $100,000 each, according to the Boston Globe.

Kennedy will receive more accolades at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel when the Irish American Democrats and the Italian American Democratic Leadership Council team up for a reception. U2 lead singer Bono and Stephen Stills are among the celebrity guests. Kennedy, along with Rep. Mike Capuano, also of Massachusetts, is scheduled to make an appearance at the Biotechnology Industry Organization's reception at the Museum of Science that week.

For Democratic governors making the sojourn to Boston, many groups are awaiting them. The AGA is planning a reception for them at Ned Devine's Irish Pub in Faneuil Hall. There's going to be a Boston Harbor waterfront "All-Star Salute to Democratic Governors" on Rowe's Wharf, according to the Democratic Governors' Association's web site. And, in honor of those All-Stars, the governors will head to Fenway Park for what's being billed as "an afternoon at one of America's most storied ballparks," brought to them by UBS Financial Services.

Meanwhile members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will be honored by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute with a reception at the swank nightspot, Felt, sponsored by the AGA. Listening to the tunes of Los Lobos, members of the caucus may be able to mingle with special invited guests New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sponsorship ranges from $25,000 to $50,000, according to the group's web site.

Clinton will be featured at a number of events during the convention, including a lunch at Locke-Ober, a restaurant famed for its JFK room and JFK lobster stew, sponsored by American International Group, reports the Boston Globe. The senator and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, will be honored at the State Room restaurant with views of the city; the 500-person event is being held by Democratic fundraiser and contributor Elaine Schuster and other donors, according to press reports. Another Boston night club, Avalon, will be the site of a gathering for New York lawmakers, including Clinton, that's expected to be attended by 2,000 people.

Massachusetts Congressman Bill Delahunt, looking to capitalize on the party going, is hosting a campaign fundraiser at a championship golf club, Granite Links in nearby Quincy. For $2,000 per ticket, one can participate in the golf tournament and enjoy the clambake afterwards, according to the Hill. For non-golfers, they can chip in $1,000 and just go for the food.

One of the most talked about parties is Louisiana Sen. John Breaux's Caribbean bash, sponsored by more than a dozen media lobbyists, according to Broadcasting & Cable. Featuring jerk chicken, Red Stripe beer and the tunes of Ziggy Marley and Buckwheat Zydeco, the $300,000 party for more than 1,000 will be held at the New England Aquarium.

Below is a list of parties compiled by the Center for Public Integrity from news reports and Internet searches. (It is not a comprehensive list of all, unofficial events.)

Official parties (Sponsored by Boston 2004 and others as noted)
Party thrown for Given by Location Type of location Date
Media Boston Globe and Boston 2004 Boston Convention & Exhibition Center Reception 24-Jul
New Jersey delegation Boston 2004 Navy Yard Constitution Museum Historic naval yard, Charlestown 25-Jul
South Dakota delegation Boston 2004 Navy Yard Commandant's House Historic naval yard, Charlestown 25-Jul
Nevada delegation Boston 2004 Navy Yard Pier 1 Historic naval yard, Charlestown 25-Jul
Iowa and Missouri delegations Boston 2004 New England Aquarium, downtown Aquarium 25-Jul
Texas delegation Boston 2004 Hyatt Harborside East Boston 25-Jul
Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming delegations Boston 2004 Museum of Science, downtown Museum 25-Jul
Michigan delegation Boston 2004 State Street Financial Center, Chinatown 36-story, high-rise building in Financial District 25-Jul
New York Delegation Boston 2004 L Street Bathhouse, South Boston Recreation Center 25-Jul
Louisiana, Kansas, Nebraska delegations Boston 2004 Wang Center, downtown Performance Hall 25-Jul
DC, Maryland, Delaware delegations Boston 2004 Children's Museum, downtown Interactive museum 25-Jul
Arizona, New Mexico, Utah delegations Boston 2004 Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center, South End Municipal center 25-Jul
North Carolina delegation Boston 2004 Student Center at the University of Mass.-Boston University campus 25-Jul
Wisconsin delegation Boston 2004 Boston Nature Center Nature center 25-Jul
Virginia, West Virginia delegations Boston 2004 Hyde Park Library, Menino Wing Library 25-Jul
Puerto Rico, US Virgin Island delegations Boston 2004 Adams Park, Roslindale Park 25-Jul
Ohio delegation Boston 2004 Samuel Adams Brewery Brewery 25-Jul
Tennessee delegation Boston 2004 James Michael Curley House, Jamaica Plain Historical building 25-Jul
Guam, American Samoa, Alaska, Hawaii delegations Boston 2004 Millennium Park, West Roxbury Park 25-Jul
Indiana delegation Boston 2004 Strand Theater Performance Hall 25-Jul
Minnesota and North Dakota delegations Boston 2004 Dancing Deer Baking Company, Roxbury Cookie makers 25-Jul
Florida delegation Boston 2004 Northeastern University University campus 25-Jul
Connecticut, Maine, NH, VT, RI delegation Boston 2004 Museum of Fine Arts, Fenway area Museum 25-Jul
Georgia delegation Boston 2004 Shirley-Eustis House Historical building 25-Jul
South Carolina, Alabama delegations Boston 2004 Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Roxbury Museum 25-Jul
California delegation Boston 2004 Franklin Park Zoo Zoo 25-Jul
Oklahoma delegation Boston 2004 Parkman House, Beacon Hill Historical building 25-Jul
Illinois delegation Boston 2004 Institute of Contemporary Art, Back Bay Art gallery 25-Jul
Pennsylvania delegation Boston 2004 State House, Beacon Hill State House 25-Jul
Massachusetts delegation Boston 2004 Boston Public Library, Back Bay Library 25-Jul
Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi delegation Boston 2004 Spangler Center at Harvard Business School, Allston University campus 25-Jul
Oregon delegation Boston 2004 Boston Latin School, Mission Hill School campus 25-Jul
Colorado delegation Boston 2004 Home of ambassador Swanee Hunt, Cambridge Private home 25-Jul

Source: Boston 2004 web site, web sites, news reports

Unofficial parties (Sponsored by private groups, businesses and organizations)
Party thrown for Given by Location Type of location Date
The Creative Coalition and the Recording Industry Association of America Benefit gala hosted in association with Esquire, Allied Domecq & Volkswagen Restaurant L, described by Zagat Survey as Asian and French fusion food. Restaurant 28-Jul
Democratic Governors' Assn Democratic Governors' Assn Boston Harbor Waterfront "All-Star Salute to Democratic Governors," "Rock the Harbor" opening reception, Rowe's Wharf Overlooking the Harbor 25-Jul
New York Delegation Unclear Avalon, Landsdowne Street, Boston Nightclub 28-Jul
Former President Bill and Sen. Hillary Clinton Elaine Schuster and other donors State Room, Boston Restaurant in Bay Tower overlooking the city 25-Jul
Sen. Ted Kennedy A half dozen corporations and unions, including Raytheon, Bristol Myers Squibb, AFL-CIO, and International Brotherhood of Carpenters Boston Symphony Hall, home of the Boston Symphony & Pops Performance hall 27-Jul
Sen. Hillary Clinton and NY lawmakers AIG (insurance) Locke-Ober, Boston Restaurant 28-Jul
Fundraiser for Rep. Bill Delahunt (Mass.) Rep. Bill Delahunt Granite Links championship Golf Club overlooking Boston Harbor Country club Unknown
Sen. Hillary Clinton and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm Emily's List Boston Convention & Exhibition Center Convention center 27-Jul
Sen. John Breaux, Louisiana Media lobbyists New England Aquarium Aquarium 27-Jul
Sen. Ted Kennedy and other lawmakers Irish American Democrats and Italian American Democratic Leadership Councils Park Plaza Hotel 25-Jul
New England delegation Genzyme Genzyme headquarters, Cambridge Biotech firm headquarters 26-Jul
Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. Michael Capuano (Mass.) Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Museum of Science Museum 28-Jul
Congressmen and staff Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Genzyme HQ, Cambridge Luncheon at biotech firm Unknown
Delegates Time Warner Tia's, Boston Restaurant on Long Wharf with waterfront view 25-Jul
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and Senate Democratic Whip Harry Reid Comcast, Citigroup and other sponsors Dinner Restaurant Unknown
Lawmakers Fox News Concert at Fenway Park Baseball park Unknown
Senate Democrats Consumer Electronics Association and other sponsors Unknown Unknown Unknown
Sen. Max Baucus, (Mont.), ranking member of the Finance Committee American Gas Association Unknown Unknown 26-Jul
Congressional Hispanic Caucus American Gas Association Late night reception at Felt Nightclub 26-Jul
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan, (N.D.), members of Energy & Natural Resources Committee American Gas Association Unknown Unknown Unknown
Democratic Governors' Assn American Gas Association Ned Devine's Irish Pub, Faneuil Hall Restaurant 28-Jul
Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.), ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee Financial Services Roundtable Bay Tower, Boston Restaurant in a high rise with views of city July 27-28
Rep. Ed Markey (Mass.), ranking member on the House Telecom and Internet Subcommittee Massachusetts Broadcasters Association and National Association of Broadcasters Boston College Club, Boston Private club 26-Jul
Massachusetts Congressional delegation Patton Boggs LLP and Mass Mutual Financial Group Dinner Unknown 26-Jul
Congressmen from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania Sovereign Bank New England Reception, Fenway Park, .406 Club Baseball park skybox 26-Jul
Democratic Women Bingham McCutchen, The Alliance of Women's Business & Professional Organizations, The Boston Club, the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus and Women's Bar Assn of Massachusetts Bingham McCutchen law firm Law firm offices Unknown
Democratic National Convention Chairwoman Alice Huffman Foley Hoag LLP and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay (Luncheon) Unknown Unknown Unknown
Planned Parenthood Foley Hoag LLP Unknown Unknown Unknown
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Foley Hoag LLP (Fundraising reception) Unknown Unknown Unknown
LGBT delegates, Massachusetts AFL-CIO and Massachusetts legislators Bay State Stonewall Democrats Goulston & Storrs, Boston Law firm offices 25-Jul
Sen. Tim Johnson, (S.D.), member, Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Securities and bond market groups Unknown Unknown Unknown
Blue Dog Coalition A dozen trade groups and companies Roxy, Boston Nightclub Unknown
Sen. John Breaux (La.) The Creative Coalition and Congressional Quarterly blu, restaurant at Sports/LA, Boston Restaurant at a health club 27-Jul
The Creative Coalition, Music for All Foundation, National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) The Creative Coalition, Music for All Foundation, National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Sports Club/LA, Boston Health club 27-Jul
Emily's List and Revolutionary Women Emily's List and Revolutionary Women Boston Convention & Exhibition Center Convention center 27-Jul
Bay State Stonewall Democrats Bay State Stonewall Democrats John Hancock Hall, Boston Concert hall 27-Jul
Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) Bay State Stonewall Democrats Marriott Copley, Boston Hotel 29-Jul
Democratic Governors' Association UBS Financial Services Fenway Park Baseball park 28-Jul

Sources: Boston Business Journal, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, Broadcasting & Cable, The Hill, National Journal, Roll Call, Times-Picayune, various organizations' web sites


The Condition of the Working Class in China
On March 16 the AFL-CIO filed a remarkable petition with the U.S. government asking that the U.S. trade representative take action to promote the human rights of China's factory workers. The petition charged that China's brutal repression of internationally recognized workers' rights constitutes an unfair trade practice under section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. It was the first time in the history of section 301 that a petition has invoked the violation of workers' rights as an unfair trade practice, although it is quite common for corporations to use section 301 to challenge other unfair trade practices, such as violation of intellectual property rights.
The petition thoroughly documents the Chinese government's systematic violation of workers' rights and demonstrates how such exploitation costs hundreds of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs and puts downward pressure on wages around the world.
The petition attracted enormous attention around the world. BusinessWeek claimed it was a "milestone" that "articulated a coherent intellectual position that makes a logical link between trade and labor rights." Even the Washington Post editorial page, which has always been fierce in its opposition to linking trade and labor rights, stated that the petition deserved "qualified sympathy."
On April 29 the Bush administration rejected the petition. While refuting none of the charges made in the petition, the administration referred to it as an example of "economic isolationism." Tom Donahue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was perhaps more honest about why the petition was rejected: "Had the administration accepted the petition . . . we would have married forever human rights and trade, and that would have been a huge mistake."
One wishes Mr. Donahue had explained himself a bit more: a mistake for whom? For ruthlessly exploited workers in China? For laid off manufacturing workers in the United States? Or for American business, which is complicit in and profits from, the exploitation described below?
We are glad to reprint an edited excerpt (minus the footnotes) of the AFL-CIO's petition. The principal author of the petition is Mark Barenberg, a professor of international law at Columbia University. The entire petition, over 100 pages long with 346 footnotes, can be downloaded from the AFL-CIO's Web site at . Eds
Each year, millions of Chinese citizens travel from impoverished inland villages to take their first industrial jobs in China's export factories. Young and mostly female, they are sent by their parents in search of wages to supplement their families' income. They join an enormous submerged caste of temporary factory workers who are stripped of civil and political rights by China's system of internal passport controls.
They enter the factory system and often step into a nightmare of twelve-hour to eighteen-hour work days with no day of rest, earning meager wages that may be withheld or unpaid altogether. The factories are sweltering, dusty, and damp. Workers are fully exposed to chemical toxins and hazardous machines, and suffer sickness, disfiguration, and death at the highest rates in world history. They live in cramped cement-block dormitories, up to twenty to a room, without privacy. They face militaristic regimentation, surveillance, and physical abuse by supervisors during their long day of work and by private police forces during their short night of recuperation in the dormitories.
They can do little to relieve their misery. Their movements are controlled by the Public Security forces, who ruthlessly enforce the pass system. They are not permitted to seek better-paying jobs reserved for privileged urban residents. If they assert their rights, they are sent back to the countryside, or worse. Attempts to organize unions or to strike are met with summary detention, long-term imprisonment, and torture.
Enmeshed in bonded labor, they frequently cannot even leave their factory jobs, no matter how abusive. They have minimal access to China's legal system, which, in any event, is corrupted by the local Party officials, who extract personal wealth from factory revenue. Their impotence is reflected in their desperate acts of violence and their shocking rate of suicides intended to draw attention to their plight.
Unremitting repression of labor rights robs China's workers of wages, health, and dignity. By lowering wages by between 47 percent and 85 percent, the repression also diverts millions of manufacturing jobs from countries where labor rights are not so comprehensively denied, increasing unemployment and poverty among workers in developed and developing countries. Highly conservative methodologies show that China's labor repression displaces approximately 727,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States alone, and perhaps many more.
China's current level of investment in new factories is unprecedented and will deliver an even greater supply shock to global industry in the next five years, producing even greater losses in U.S. manufacturing jobs-unless the president takes decisive action. Developing countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia will each lose up to one million manufacturing jobs to China, and Central America and the Caribbean will lose up to one half million jobs in the textile and apparel sector alone. Workers in all countries have a common interest in safeguarding the human rights of China's factory workers.
This petition is not targeted against "free trade" or against China's "comparative advantage" in global markets. Rather, this petition challenges the artificial and severe reduction of China's labor costs below the baseline of comparative advantage defined by standard trade theory. China reduces labor costs by a system of government-engineered labor exploitation on a scale that is unmatched in the present global economy.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)-whose constituent unions represent more than thirteen million workers in the United States, including more than two million manufacturing workers-files this petition under sections 301 and 302 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended, seeking action by the president to end the Chinese government's unremitting repression of the rights of its manufacturing workers.
Section 301(d) of the Trade Act provides that a trading partner's persistent denial of workers' internationally recognized rights constitutes an unreasonable trade practice. These basic workers' rights include freedom of association; the right to bargain collectively; freedom from compulsory labor; and standards for minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health. This petition shows that the People's Republic of China (PRC) persistently denies these rights.
China has signed many toothless international agreements requiring it to enforce workers' rights and broken them all. It is therefore appropriate that the U.S. trade representative impose trade remedies against China commensurate with the cost advantage caused by China's repression of workers' rights.
The purpose of the trade remedies is not protectionist. They are, rather, intended to bring about positive change for China's workers and to ensure fair global competition for workers everywhere. In this spirit, the USTR should also negotiate a binding agreement with China, specifying incremental decreases in the trade remedies if China increasingly complies with workers' rights, measured by specific and verifiable indicators. When China fully protects the basic rights of its workers, it can enjoy normal access to U.S. markets and create jobs that are not an affront to human dignity.
Congress first mandated that our trading partners enforce workers' internationally recognized rights in the mid-1980s. One explicit goal of Congress was to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which declares that unionization, employment, and adequate wages are fundamental human rights.
Even before the dramatic acceleration in the flow of manufacturing jobs to China in the last few years, Congress had concluded that "[t]he lack of basic rights for workers" in developing countries is "a very important inducement for capital flight and overseas production by U.S. industries."
Congress also recognized that the denial of workers' fundamental rights distributes the benefits of economic growth to "narrow privileged elites," thereby "retarding economic development." Congress was right. Econometric analysis of cross-country data for a large sample of economies in the 1980s and 1990s confirms that the denial of labor rights reduces wages and economic growth, increases inequality, and hampers democratic development.
China's denial of workers' rights is encouraged by a system of world trade and finance that fails to enforce minimum standards of decency at work. Low-wage countries compete for mobile capital. Even if political elites wish to raise the labor standards of their people, they face extreme pressure not to do so, in the absence of global standards that ensure that their competitors will do the same.
Like the discredited laissez-faire regimes of the nineteenth century, today's global rules protect rights of property, contract, and capital but not fundamental rights of personhood, community, and labor. Section 301(d) embodies an alternative model, in which human and social rights are the necessary precondition to democratic and equitable development. Consistent with that model, section 301(b) authorizes the president not only to take trade action to improve China's immediate labor-rights practices but to take any action within his foreign-affairs power to change the rules of trade and finance that encourage China's violations.
The president should therefore refuse to enter into any new trade agreements under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, until that organization gives protection to workers' fundamental rights that is equivalent to the protection given to commercial interests.
The Model of Economic Development
Embodied in Section 301(d)
Petitions under sections 301 and 302 are typically filed by U.S. corporations seeking to protect their commercial interests against unfair trade practices by foreign governments. Those unfair trade practices include barriers to imports from the United States, subsidies of exports to the United States, failure to enforce the intellectual property rights of U.S. companies, and many others.
The workers' rights provisions of section 301 are distinctive in several ways. First, unlike other unfair trade practices enumerated in section 301, the workers' rights provisions are aimed at safeguarding fundamental human rights. That aim cannot be dismissed as "protectionist." The goal of those provisions, and of this petition, is not to deny jobs and economic advancement to China's workers. To the contrary. The goal is to use the enormous economic leverage of the United States to induce positive change in China-to achieve respect for the basic rights of China's factory workers.
In 1984, when Congress first authorized the president to use this type of leverage, it made this purpose plain:
The United States has embraced labor rights, in principle, as well as political rights for all of the people of the world upon adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The Declaration specifically affirms for each person the right to a job, the right to form and join unions, and the right to an adequate standard of living.
Second, section 301 presupposes that securing the fundamental rights of China's workers is concordant with, and indeed a precondition to, protecting the fundamental rights of U.S. workers. Section 301 protects the rights of U.S. workers against erosion by unfair competition with overseas workers who are denied those rights. Congress knew that
the lack of basic rights for workers in many [less developed countries] is a powerful inducement for capital flight and overseas production by U.S. industries.
In evaluating the burden on U.S. commerce caused by China's violations of workers' rights, the USTR should therefore focus on the impact on employment, wages, and associational rights of U.S. workers-not on the revenue and profit of U.S. multinational corporations, which may indeed benefit from the exploitation of overseas labor. Under section 301, those profits are ill-gotten and cannot constitute a "benefit" that offsets the burden on U.S. workers. For the same reason, Congress could not have intended that the USTR count the cheaper price of U.S. imports produced by China's exploited workers as a "benefit" to U.S. commerce that offsets the burden on U.S. workers. In any event, U.S. consumers themselves do not wish to buy goods that are cheapened by shattered workers' rights in China and tainted by shattered working lives in the United States.
Third, the workers' rights provisions of section 301 are a sharp alternative to the model of globalization now embodied in the WTO. In the latter-the model of a laissez-faire constitution-it is enough to protect global rights of property, contract, and investment. Congress, to the contrary, recognized that an economic constitution lacking social rights will not produce equitable and sustained economic development, whether for developing or developed countries:
[P]romoting respect for internationally recognized rights of workers is an important means of ensuring that the broadest sectors of the population within [developing countries] benefit from [access to U.S. markets]. The capacity to form unions and to bargain collectively to achieve higher wages and better working conditions is essential for workers in developing countries to attain decent living standards and to overcome hunger and poverty. The denial of internationally recognized worker rights in developing countries tends to perpetuate poverty, to limit the benefits of economic development and growth to narrow privileged elites, and to sow the seeds of social instability and political rebellion.
In the model of development embodied in section 301(d), the global integration of labor markets, capital markets, and markets in goods and services is not intrinsically a bad thing. If workers' rights are vigorously enforced, then the impoverished and underemployed-whether in China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, or the United States-may improve their standard of living and generate new domestic demand in a virtuous cycle of equitable development, while providing new markets for overseas investors and workers, including those in the United States.
If, however, the workers' rights of one-quarter of the world's workforce are radically suppressed-as they, in fact, are in China-then labor conditions for the world's unskilled and semiskilled workers are worsened; domestic and global demand is depressed; excess productive capacity is created; and a path of inequitable, unsustainable development is promoted.
And when the fundamental right of association is denied, a crucial pillar of democratic governance is lost. The right to form autonomous associations in civil society is a precondition to resisting state tyranny and to mobilizing citizens for participation in pluralist political institutions. In recent years, autonomous worker organizations helped democratize such countries as South Africa, Brazil, Poland, and South Korea-a fact that is not lost on leaders of the Chinese autocracy.
Repudiation of Free Labor Markets
China is now moving up the technology ladder at a rapid pace, becoming an export powerhouse in such sectors as high-technology electronics and precision machinery. Yet, in the post-Mao era of economic reforms, there is still nothing resembling a free labor market in the manufacturing sector. Quite the contrary. Through an extraordinary feat of state engineering, China created and perpetuates an enormous sub-caste of factory workers. The existence of the sub-caste is one of the preconditions of China's superheated investment in manufacturing. The real earnings of this sub-caste have remained static or fallen throughout the unprecedented boom in capital investment. China will continue to serve as the world's sweatshop, producing low-technology goods alongside high-technology goods for decades to come-unless the Chinese government radically reverses course and dismantles its controls over factory workers.
There are more than 750 million workers in China-more than the workforce of all OECD countries combined. China's 2002 census showed approximately 160 million in manufacturing and mining, nearly twelve times the manufacturing workforce in the United States. China's manufacturing workers are employed in several different types of enterprises-privately invested enterprises (PIEs), joint-ventures, foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs), urban collectives and cooperatives, township and village enterprises (TVEs), and state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
To the extent that the Western media and public have any knowledge of these enterprises, they may be most familiar with images of large showcase factories owned by Western multinational corporations that have come under pressure from consumer and labor activists. But the vast majority of export workers labor in other facilities, out of public view, producing either directly for export or as subcontractors for larger export enterprises.
Large concentrations of manufacturing enterprises are located in the well-known coastal export regions of the Pearl River Delta (Guangdong) and Yangtze River Delta (Shanghai and Jiangsu). But literally hundreds of towns and cities throughout China have declared themselves export zones. Local officials compete for investment. They benefit personally by extracting revenue from enterprises and workers.
China has approximately 780 million peasants. Between 180 and 350 million are estimated to be "excessive" or in "dire poverty" and available for urban employment. Ten to twenty million will enter the nonagricultural workforce each year during the next two decades. That is, every year, China will add more nonagricultural workers than the total manufacturing workforce of the United States. In the next three to five years, China will add more workers to its urban workforce than the total manufacturing workforce of the United States, the European Union, and Japan combined.
Classical trade theory maintains that developing countries like China have a "natural" comparative advantage in labor-intensive, unskilled production owing to their large pool of impoverished workers in the countryside. Some cheerleaders of globalization postulate that the pitifully low wage earned by China's export workers-as little as 15 cents to 30 cents per hour-and the brutal treatment they receive are "legitimate," owing to the workers' lack of skill, their abundance, and their low level of productivity. In free labor markets, according to neoclassical economic theory, all workers earn (and deserve) their marginal productivity-that is, they earn what their output is worth.
But the assumptions underlying this simple theory crumble against the hard realities of China's political economy. China's inflation-adjusted manufacturing wages have fallen in the last decade, while labor productivity has rapidly increased from year to year-creating an enormous "wedge" between wage and productivity growth that flatly contradicts na?ve economic theory.
It may be true-under assumptions of full employment and perfectly competitive labor markets-that wages grow at the same rate as productivity. But in China, neither assumption holds. Hundreds of millions of destitute peasants are unemployed or underemployed.
Equally important, workers are not allocated to China's factories by a competitive market. China enforces internal passport controls that create an enormous, submerged caste of exploitable factory workers who are temporary migrants from the countryside. The Chinese system is not formally based on racial differences, but in practice migrant workers are distinguished by dialect and ethnicity; and the privileged class of permanent urban residents in fact treats migrant workers from the countryside as an ethnically inferior sub-caste.
Under the hukou ("household registration") system enforced by the much-feared Public Security Bureau (PSB), all Chinese citizens must live and work only in the place where they are permanently registered, generally the village, town, or city where their mother or father was registered. A Chinese citizen's place of permanent residence is therefore an inherited status. It is recorded in the "hukou bu," or registration booklet that all Chinese households must hold. The hukou bu also designates each household as either rural or urban. In practice, the inherited distinction between rural and urban residents produces a deeply entrenched caste system.
The permanent residence of the vast majority of Chinese citizens, of course, is in rural villages. Since the 1980s, peasants holding rural hukou have filled the need for labor in China's manufacturing sector, through a governmentally controlled system of labor allocation. If peasants obtain certifications from both sending and receiving provinces, they may migrate to manufacturing towns and cities-but only temporarily and only to fill designated jobs as laborers in factories, construction sites, domestic work for urban families, and assorted menial labor. They are prohibited by law and social prejudice from competing with people holding urban hukou for higher-paying jobs in technical, administrative, professional, or managerial jobs. Those holding urban hukou, in turn, generally do not seek employment in the low-paying, abusive, and dangerous factory jobs filled by desperately poor migrants from the countryside. Permanent urban residents view the new class of temporary migrant factory workers with extreme prejudice, hostility, and disdain.
The language of neoclassical economics is not entirely apposite in this context of government labor allocation. Nonetheless, for purposes of explication, we can say that factory workers' supply curve is artificially shifted downward-that is, workers offer their labor for lower wages-by at least four sets of government policies that sharply curtail their bargaining power.
First, China's manufacturing workers are not permitted to organize independent unions to defend their basic rights and raise their wages. They are not permitted to strike. The full force of state terror-beatings, imprisonment, psychiatric internment, and torture-is deployed against workers' attempts to exercise their right of association.
Second, the internal passport system denies migrant workers other basic civil and social rights in their temporary urban life, further suppressing their bargaining power and wages. Managers and local officials extract fees and deposits from newly arriving migrant workers and threaten them with even more severe penalties if they quit, enmeshing workers in a system of bonded labor. They are expelled and relocated to the countryside when they are no longer needed in the factory, when they are injured or sickened, or when they seek to assert their labor rights. Local officials in exporting areas compete for investment and, legally or corruptly, extract personal wealth from both state and private enterprises. Migrant workers therefore expect and get little legal protection or recourse from government officials.
Third, as already mentioned, migrant factory workers are denied access to better-paying skilled, technical, administrative, and managerial employment options in the permanent urban sector. They are frozen out of the better-paying urban labor market and overcrowded into the lower-paying rural and factory labor markets. If rural citizens were permitted to work in any urban job, not just in factories or construction sites, factory wages would rise-even if the relative wages of permanent urban citizens who now have privileged access to higher-paying jobs outside the factory system might fall.
Fourth, the "reservation wage" of migrant factory workers is set, in part, by the level of subsistence in the countryside. That is, in order to attract the rural unemployed to migrate into unskilled factory production, employers need only offer a wage that marginally exceeds rural subsistence levels plus transportation costs, not a wage that adequately compensates the workers' productivity. The degree of destitution in the Chinese countryside-and, therefore, the level of wages that must be offered by factories in order to lure migrant workers from the countryside-is anything but "natural" or "pre-political."
In both the pre- and post-reform eras, economic development strategies systematically transferred resources from those holding rural hukou to those holding urban hukou. A recent OECD study concluded that, in the mid-1990s, the Chinese government transferred more than $24 billion each year from the rural to the urban economy. Political scientists and economists have comprehensively mapped this fundamental fact of Chinese political economy. An urban hukou entitles one to public housing, health care, and pensions-all denied to holders of rural hukou. In the pre-reform era, "[t]he main enforcement mechanisms included the state control of agricultural production and procurement, the suppression of food-staple prices, and restrictions on rural-to-urban migration via a household registration system." In the post-reform era, the government continue to undertake "massive transfer[s]," by means of large-scale government investments in city infrastructure and social services to urban elites, paid for in part by an inflationary tax borne principally by the peasantry and in part by urban subsidies channeled through the state-owned banking system, in which rural residents must deposit their savings.
On top of these nationwide policies, local officials support themselves by imposing crushing taxes on rural citizens, driving peasants into factory work:
The economics are simple, residents said. People in Xiaoeshan eat most of what they grow, and by selling the rest they earn an average annual income of about $25 each. But local officials demand about $37 per person in taxes and fees. Several peasants who refused to pay last year were arrested.
Migrant factory workers "remain confined within . . . the state's persisting imperative: to ally urban growth and productivity with cost-saving, and, as a 'socialist' state, to provide for the city dweller while preserving the ruralite as docile, disposable trespasser, and drudge."
In light of these various mechanisms for artificially suppressing workers' bargaining power, it is not surprising that Chinese factory workers live under conditions that neutral researchers (and Chinese officials themselves) describe as "bestial," "horrific," and "abominable." They are often beaten and physically humiliated by supervisors and private security guards. They are paid far less than the legal minimum wage, which is itself set far below the minimum wages of countries at a comparable level of development. Their wages are often arbitrarily withheld or unpaid. Many work twelve- to eighteen-hour days, seven days a week, without a day of rest for months at a stretch. "Death by over-working"-or guolaosi-has become a commonly used term in contemporary China, and it is not used metaphorically. Most firms implement few health and safety measures, exposing workers to death not only by exhaustion but by toxins and machinery as well. China's rates of industrial death and lost limbs exceed any in history.
As a result, a startling number of workers take desperate, violent measures simply to draw attention to their plight-from blocking roads and railways to self-immolation. In contrast with other developing countries, most Chinese migrant workers wish to return to the countryside rather than settle in the city.
The Sub-caste of Migrant Factory Workers
The vast bulk of China's factory workers are temporary migrants holding rural hukou. The hukou system enmeshes factory workers in a system of bonded labor, a form of forced labor that violates Conventions 29 and 105 of the International Labor Organization and constitutes an unreasonable trade practice under section 301(d) of the Trade Act. Chinese citizens holding rural hukou who seek work in towns and cities without government permission are outlaws.
In 1958, the National People's Congress enacted Regulations on Household Registration in the People's Republic of China. These Regulations are still in force. Sections 15 and 16 require that migrants register with the PSB within three days of arrival to the city and re-register after three months. In 1994, the Ministry of Labor issued regulations requiring migrants to obtain from their home government a "registration card for leaving the area for work" and from the urban government a "work permit for personnel coming from outside." The registration card and the work permit together constitute a "migrant employment permit." Migrants may be recruited only into designated occupations in a receiving area.
The 1995 Measures on Application for and Issuance of Temporary Residence Permits require migrants to obtain temporary residence permits from the urban PSB. These measures therefore enable the PSB to maintain surveillance of migrant workers in their urban domiciles as well their workplaces. The PSB is required to record the migrant's temporary address and ensure that the migrant's landlord has permanent urban hukou. The measures further authorize local governments to impose fees for the residence permits, require migrants to obtain such permits as a precondition to obtaining work permits, and impose fines on migrants who fail to register with the PSB and on employers who hire unregistered migrants. Migrants are required to carry the residence permits at all times and show them to PSB officers upon request.
In order to change her job, a migrant must retrace these steps-that is, the migrant must again obtain a permit to leave her place of permanent registration and then obtain a temporary residence permit and temporary work permit from the receiving urban government.
In addition to the central government's regulations, each provincial, city, and local government has issued its own regulations concerning the fees and certificates that migrants must obtain in order to temporarily reside and work there. Local regulations on temporary residence and work are often complex, ambiguous, or simply unavailable to the public. They are widely impenetrable to migrants, especially the many who are illiterate.
Regardless of the clarity or transparency of the substantive regulations, they are administered arbitrarily and corruptly. Police extort payments from migrants or summarily expel them on the pretext that they fail to meet local regulations. Urban officials sporadically and violently "sweep" migrants out of cities and towns in large numbers-often in response to the demands of permanent residents, who view the migrants as a criminal underclass. For example, Beijing reported that it had taken 98,000 migrants into custody for lack of proper documentation and that 300,000 were "mobilized to leave the city" in 1997 alone. Since the late 1990s, greater unemployment among workers holding permanent urban hukou has led to greater antipathy to migrant workers by urban authorities.
Local governments-relying on a 1982 law of the State Council, which authorized local governments to designate jobless migrants as "vagrants and beggars"-have placed jobless migrants in detention and forceably "repatriated" them to their place of permanent residence. Local governments each year have held tens of thousands of migrant workers in "Custody and Repatriation Centers," on the ostensible ground that they cannot show temporary residence and work certificates required in that jurisdiction. Local authorities force detainees in these centers to work on public projects. Detainees are raped, beaten, and otherwise abused. Local officials require detainees to pay "ransoms" to gain release from custody. Once released, migrants are forceably repatriated to their place of permanent registration.
Migrants who fail to find jobs, who lose jobs, or who assert their labor rights remain subject to arrest, detention, fines, and (after processing in the aid stations) expulsion. Cities facing shortages of "drudge" labor may temporarily lighten registration fees and certification requirements or may reduce the level of police violence against migrants. Some local governments in China are currently experimenting with systems of temporary registration that do not impose de jure fees and that require migrants to carry and show their national identification cards rather than household registration booklets and other temporary permits. But, again, the hukou system, regulatory controls over temporary residence and temporary work, and the strong opportunities and incentives for abuse by police and employers remain in place throughout China.
Alliances between locally entrenched interests and the PSB strongly support the continuance of controls over migrants. As explained above, Party cadres have financial interests in the revenue produced by export enterprises, either as direct "partners" or as beneficiaries of exactions and extortion, and therefore have a strong interest in maintaining a cheap factory labor force. Local officials also benefit directly from the official or unofficial revenues produced by work and residence permits. These primary sources of local revenue have become even more vital since 2002, when the central government curtailed the financing of local governments by revenues from state-owned enterprises. And the powerful PSB sees the hukou controls as a necessary tool of social control.
Bonded Labor
Bonded labor is a form of forced or compulsory labor that is well recognized in international and domestic law. Bonded labor exists when a worker can exit or quit employment only after payment of severe monetary penalties, repayment of a debt, or loss of a "bond" posted by the worker upon initial hire. Because exit from the workplace is so costly, the worker is subject to highly abusive working conditions.
Academic and human-rights researchers have detailed the mechanisms through which China's hukou system produces bonded labor. Workers arriving from the countryside must pay substantial fees to local government officials and to employers in order to obtain residence and work permits required by the hukou system. Some of these payments are mandated by central and local law; some are "extra-legal" exactions by corrupt local officials and managers. As described above, the required fees and certificates vary widely from locality to locality, and are administered by local officials with almost complete discretion. Workers routinely go into debt in order to make these various up-front payments.
For example, a migrant to Shenzhen in 2001 needed the following documents, each of which required payment of a substantial fee: a border region pass, a personal identity card, an unmarried status certificate, a certificate to prove birth within China's one-child policy, a work permit, and a temporary residence permit.
On top of these, the migrant was required to pay a bond or "deposit" to the employer. These deposits are as much as four thousand yuan, exceeding one year's wages. Some local governments require enterprises to pay "new-hire" fees, but managers pass those fees on to new workers as well. These investments often exceed the migrant's life savings. To pay for them, migrants incur substantial debt, often payable to their own employer. As in classic bonded labor, a workers' up-front deposit will be lost and her debts will be in default, if the worker attempts to exit the employment relationship.
In addition to the deposit and the debt to cover the deposit, employers frequently withhold several months pay, which workers will also forgo if they quit or assert their rights. Some enterprises respond to a worker's threat to leave the job by imposing severe monetary penalties on co-workers-especially on the friends who initially referred the worker. Enterprise managers also seize workers' ID cards, residence permits, and work permits, making migrants more vulnerable still to arrest, fines, imprisonment, and repatriation if they leave the factory compound.
The deposits paid to employers, the wages withheld by managers, the new-hire fees passed on to workers, the withholding of ID certificates and residence permits, the threatened penalties against co-workers, and the debt accrued by workers to pay both government officials and managers together constitute an effective system of up-front bonds posted by migrant workers at the start of their employment. Chinese workers are acutely aware of the cumulative penalties they face if they quit or are fired for protesting.
New migrants' feverish effort to find jobs in order to avoid expulsion from urban areas, and their submission to employers' terms no matter how unfair, is a common sight in contemporary China.
Professor Anita Chan has identified yet another way in which the hukou system suppresses the labor standards of China's manufacturing workers:
[T]he Chinese hukou system and the pass system under apartheid in South Africa generated quite similar outcomes. They produced a large, vulnerable underclass living in constant insecurity, accompanied by daily discrimination, repression, hardship, and denial of their human dignity.
In light of these circumstances, it becomes possible to perceive how the Chinese hukou system can keep wages down more easily than in Mexico. . . .[I]n Mexico the workers who produce for export are, as in China, largely migrants from the countryside, and the majority similarly are female. But there is a major difference. Almost all of the Chinese female migrant workers are single women in their late teens or early twenties who, because of the household registration system, cannot bring their families with them. Many factories make sure that only single women are recruited by asking to see their officially issued identity certificates, which in keeping with the Chinese state's strict family-planning policy require that the marital and family planning status of each woman is listed. Since the workers are poor single women living in dormitories, management only needs to pay them enough for their individual survival.
In Mexico, the context is quite different. While most of the women workers in the maquiladoras are migrants from poorer regions, many of them have come with their families, since there is no pass system, and quite a number are single mothers. Very often these women workers are the sole breadwinners. Since they live with their families, a part of their waking hours has to be spent on "unproductive" chores (from management's vantage point): in commuting, in household tasks such as cooking, taking care of the old and the young. No matter how ruthless, there is a limit to the amount of overtime that management can squeeze out of these Mexican workers-fewer hours than with the young single women in dormitories in China.
The hukou system accounts in part for the fact that factory wages fell by 15 percent to 46 percent when temporary migrant workers-young, single, and bonded-replaced permanent urban residents in factory jobs. It also helps explain why migrants' wages fail to conform with the neoclassical economic assumption that wage growth tracks productivity growth-why, that is, their real wages have fallen in the last decade, while productivity has steadily risen.
Minimum Wages, Maximum Hours
In its 2003 Annual Report, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China concluded that China's factory workers "continue to work hours well in excess of legal limits, and for wages that are frequently not calculated according to law." China's failure to enforce minimum wage and maximum hours standards violates International Labor Organization Conventions and constitutes an unreasonable trade practice. According to Professor Chang Kai of the People's University School of Labor and Human Resources in Beijing, China "has ignored the protection of laborers' rights, especially migrant laborers' rights. We have no clear system that says who must bear responsibility when wages aren't paid, and how those responsible are to be punished."
The wages and hours of China's factory workers are effectively unprotected by legal regulation or by contract. Migrant workers are paid extremely low monthly sums-from 200 to 600 Rmb (approximately $24 to $72)-in return for working as many hours as employers can extract from them.
Nonpayment of wages is pervasive. According to a government survey, three out of four workers are unable to collect their pay as promised. An independent researcher found that "the illegal retention of workers' wages for between one and three months exists in 80 percent of foreign-financed firms" in Dongguan. A majority of workers must resort to begging or intimidating their employers simply to get paid. As a consequence, the wages actually collected by workers are well below the amount negotiated at the start of their employment. This results not from enterprises' financial difficulty but rather from employers' "deliberate malpractice," permitted by the negligible bargaining power of China's bonded workers. Factory workers fear that they will be discharged and lose their deposit "if they pursue their wages."
Hourly wages and unit labor costs are therefore greatly suppressed. Manufacturing wages for female workers range as low as 12 cents to 30 cents per hour. Male workers earn approximately 10 percent or 15 percent more.
The only real limits on wages and hours in China's factories are the physiological and psychological limits of the young women and men who work in that sector. Enterprises frequently push beyond those limits, and workers spontaneously protest by blocking roads or railways. Many threaten or commit suicide. Even these sad protests are met with government repression. Public Security forces in many cities have implemented policies of detaining any worker who threatens to commit suicide as a means of collecting wages.
It is true that the central Chinese government has formally promulgated guidelines for minimum wages and maximum hours. In practice, however, wage-and-hour rules are simply not enforced. To the contrary, local governments act as enforcers for enterprises' all-out suppression of labor costs. As detailed above, local officials and enterprise managers are allies in the unrestrained drive to export at lowest costs; and destitute migrants are in no position to demand that wage-and-hour standards be honored. Reebok's director of labor monitoring throughout Asia states,
Who enforces Chinese labor law? Nobody. If it were enforced, China would be a much better place for millions of people to work in. But it is ignored more than in any other country I work in.
Summary and Conclusions
This petition has shown that China's unremitting repression of workers' rights takes wages, health, and dignity not only from China's workers. It also displaces and impoverishes workers-and their families and communities-in the United States and throughout the world. All countries, including China and the United States, face strong incentives to compete for mobile capital and jobs by cheapening the labor and debasing the lives of their working citizens. These incentives are created by global rules that protect rights of property and contract but not rights of personhood and labor.
Nearly seventy years ago, the United States rejected rules like these, in our domestic multi-state system. Congress concluded that trade across borders "was the means of spreading and perpetuating . . . substandard labor conditions among the workers of the several states." In order to eliminate each state's incentive to perpetuate substandard labor conditions, it was necessary to enforce labor rights at the federal level. All states must be concurrently bound by labor rights, or each state would seek competitive advantage by suppressing those rights.
Fifteen years ago, in section 301(d), Congress elevated the same policy from the interstate to the international level. Congress authorized the USTR and the president to enforce workers' rights among our trading partners, for the sake of their workers and ours.
It is time for the USTR and the president to implement this policy. So long as China is not bound to honor workers' rights, China's rivals will resist complying with those rights. But so long as they resist, China too will complain of competitive disadvantage. Therefore, all countries should be concurrently bound by fundamental workers' rights, or each country will seek competitive advantage by suppressing those rights. For the same reason, all countries must be assured that those rights will be enforced evenhandedly from country to country.
These goals can be met if all countries are obligated, as a precondition to gaining the rights and benefits of membership in the WTO, to comply with the covenants of the International Labor Organization, the UN agency authorized to promulgate and supervise compliance with internationally recognized workers' rights. It is time that the United States used its extraordinary bargaining power to ensure that no country enjoys the rights and benefits of WTO membership unless it complies with ILO covenants. For this reason, the president should direct the USTR to enter into no new WTO-related trade agreement until such time as all WTO members are required to comply with the core covenants of the ILO. Fundamental workers' rights must be given the same protection that is now given to rights of commerce.
Nearly a century ago, Congress declared that "the labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce." Perversely, global rules today give greater protection to articles of commerce than to the work of human beings. We can and must change these rules.
? 2003 Foundation for Study of Independent Ideas, Inc

A Thought Experiment for the Left

by Mitchell Cohen
Here is a thought experiment for the left. It requires a bit of historical imagination, something for which the left is known. Its political implications are weighty. So weighty, I think, that the answer-your answer, Comrade Reader-to the question I pose at its end might well reveal if you can say to fellow citizens that you have the wherewithal to hold political power on their behalf (yes, I assume representative democracy, for all its flaws).
Imagine that you have become president of the United States in a particular set of circumstances. Let's call these circumstances the Historical Original Position, or HOP for short. HOP situates you in the Year of Our Relativity, 1981. As I construct it, you will perceive readily that HOP entails fantasy as well as events that occurred that year and before. In fact, the more you know about those pre-1981 events, the better. Later, when you step into the HOP, I will ask you to drop a veil over your memory for the sake of my argument. I will ask you to pretend that you are ignorant of all post-1981 history. Forgive me if I do not entirely do so. For the sake of our purposes here, I must integrate into my design some hints, just a few, about later decades.1 I think-hope-it will make sense since we are all reasonable historical creatures.
So here's the HOP. Due to an unexpected constellation of events, an insurgent movement called Democratic Equality wrests the Democratic presidential nomination from Jimmy Carter in 1980. You replace him. Let's give "you" a persona: you are Eugenia Norma Harrington, a distinguished civil rights attorney, long an eloquent advocate of social and economic fairness in America. You assemble a broad center-left political coalition against the Republican nominee, Ronald Reagan. Remarkably, you win the election and become the country's first woman-and first truly left-wing-president. The Democrats sweep both houses.
Reagan heads back west in a wagon train (he aims to live out his days encouraging Republican movie stars to act as if they are suitable for public office). Jimmy Carter seeks to be an effective ex-president, leading observers to suggest that he should have sought this job in the first place. Walter Mondale joins the new cabinet as secretary of the treasury. You have appointed him-the "centrist" on your team-to reinforce the coalition that enabled you to defeat Reagan. You ignore sniping that his appointment turns your administration into "a grotesque sellout to the priorities of the ruling class." (See Alexander Cockburn, "Stooges Yet Again: You can always tell an objective social democrat," in the Nation, November 32, 1980.)
In fact, you assemble a first-rate cabinet. Almost all its members read-and some even write for -Dissent. As might be expected, you place great emphasis on social and economic policy. "By the end of my presidency," you declared in the campaign, "markets will serve human needs, not vice versa. By the end of my presidency, we will have health insurance that is friendly to the sick, instead of to insurance companies. We will have an energy program that is friendly to the environment and not to the priorities of oil companies and Mideast potentates. By the end of my presidency, labor law will be reformed in order to bolster trade union organizing." (The AFL-CIO's leader protests this last point: "Why get distracted from anticommunism?"). You initiate a domestic agenda that combines investments in education and job training with affirmative action to address poverty and racism in the country.
Fortunately, those Iranian students freed the American hostages in Tehran on the day of your inauguration. That makes things a little easier as you order a general review of foreign policy. "Let's put real heat on South Africa and also on that SOB Pinochet," you say to your secretary of state. "And let's bolster the Solidarity movement in Poland. It's had a rough time, fighting the Communist Party's 'revolutionary consciousness' with 'trade union consciousness.'"
An Economic Security Council and More
Even though you are known for your domestic concerns, you have thought a lot about international affairs, especially the gap between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. You ask the secretary of state to draw up plans for a new Economic Security Council (ESC) at the UN, an idea you've liked ever since you read Michael Harrington's The Vast Majority. The ESC will war against global poverty and illiteracy. One of its chief tasks will be to find ways to counter-balance the power of multinational corporations and financial institutions. "No global five year plans," you advise the secretary, "but real programs that will subordinate global markets to global social decency."
"Thatcher will howl."
"Then we'll be doing the right thing," you reply, "Why don't we see if we can get Willy Brandt's input? Speak to our friends in the Swedish Social Democratic Party. Most important, have some long conversations and then ongoing consultations with democratic socialists and trade unionists in Latin America, Africa, the Mideast, and Asia."
You and your secretary of state agree on the importance of designing the ESC so as to avoid past UN failures. The ESC must be structured so that it cannot be turned into an arena for cold war rivalries or a means to sustain third world dictators or promote the third worldist fantasies of intellectuals who sup with those dictators or serve as yet another forum for yet another resolution about "the Question of Palestine."
Why do some people think third world tyrants are liberators?, you wonder. Just because they spout left-wing words and denounce imperialism? Saddam Hussein, Iraq's ruling thug, who invaded Iran a few months back, gave a speech recently in which he declared, "Socialism does not mean the equal distribution of wealth between the deprived poor and the exploiting rich; this would be too inflexible. Socialism is a means to raise and improve productivity."2 Socialism? Sounds like National Socialism.
Over the years you have come to suspect that ideological "third worldism," which once moved you deeply-for all the right reasons, because you despise imperialism-is often quite bad for people living in the third world. It does seem to get people jobs, indeed even tenured jobs, but mostly in the first world. And you want the ESC to help the poor, to feed them, to empower them.
You are especially concerned about the long-term impact of American power in the world. Even though the country is still reeling from its disastrous war in Vietnam and seems weakened also by your predecessor's botched policies in Iran and Nicaragua, you know that only wishful thinking-sometimes Soviet, sometimes French, sometimes just na?ve leftist-will make America's global role dissipate. Actually, you think that Soviet power may decline. Some of your friends are amazed when you say this, but you reason that a gerontocracy can fashion the future for just so long. Moreover, you have been talking to people who study Russia through its complex history rather than by a mechanical application of the theory of totalitarianism. So you doubt if America's rival is shaped solely by-or frozen in-an idea.
Perhaps the United States should be prepared for big changes in Moscow a few years hence. You recently read an article in which a neoconservative academic, who was thought to have had a future in a Reagan administration, distinguished totalitarian regimes from authoritarian ones. The former are fixed forever because ideology remakes every nook and cranny and brain cell in them while that doesn't happen in the latter. (See Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, "Why Totalitarianism is Objectively Undemocratic but Authoritarianism is Subjectively Liberal," Commentary, Thermidor, 1979.) You wonder how this professor would explain post-Mao China. There is movement there-is it movement from totalitarianism to authoritarianism? Perhaps "totalitarianism" shouldn't provide a totalizing explanation of the country in the first place. Best not to mistake a design, however grand, for reality, and then divide the world according to who fits it.
Then there is the Mideast. It is also in the HOP. Nineteen seventy-nine created a dramatically new era there because of the Egypt-Israel treaty and the Iranian revolution. The impact of these events is not yet fully clear. Then there is civil war in Lebanon and, moving east, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. As it happens, you were looking through a file on the Arab-Israeli conflict that morning. "Well, at least something went right in the region, the Israel-Egypt peace. At least, we can give Carter some credit," you remark.
"That's true," responds the secretary of state, "but only some. Remember that he initially had a completely mistaken strategic concept for the region-one that many of our European friends applauded. He wanted an international conference under joint U.S.-Soviet auspices to push a 'Comprehensive Settlement' of all Arab-Israeli problems in one quick swoop.
"Sadat understood that this had to fail, and that is why he is the real strategic hero. He understood how that sort of conference would have rendered Egyptian flexibility hostage to Syria's extremist posturing, to its macho nationalism. It would have also been hostage to the ambitions of Syria's patron. Moscow wanted to reassert itself after its military advisers were thrown out of Egypt in '72 and it was sidelined by Kissinger's 'step by step' diplomacy following the '73 war. Sadat thought that if he could cut a deal with the Israelis, it might be a real step toward solving other issues and encourage other Israeli compromises.
"That's why he accepted the idea of Palestinian 'autonomy,' rather than demanding immediate Palestinian statehood," continues the secretary, "It was not just because he wanted a separate peace, like half the Arab world charged, but because it opened a way to a next step. It's worth noting that Rabin, who was Israeli prime minister when Carter came into office and who said back then that he didn't care if he had to visit the West Bank with a passport, also resisted Carter's international conference idea. Like Sadat, he thought that it would create negotiating conditions in which nobody could bend. The first thing Sadat's trip to Jerusalem did was to subvert Carter's approach. It was direct negotiations that finally produced something-an end to three decades of war between two countries. Carter's role at Camp David was then truly impressive, even heroic, yet only after he yielded to political reality."
"It is amazing," you observe to the secretary, "that an old fanatic like Menachem Begin agreed to a total Israeli pull-back from Sinai. Who would have believed that when he defeated the Labor Party in the 1977 elections? Still, the peace treaty would never have passed the Israeli Parliament without Labor's support-too much of Likud opposed it. And we are still left with the West Bank settlements and the Palestinian issue."
"True," says the secretary, "but the Israelis are pulling out of Sinai, and that is a valuable precedent. Even belligerent Ariel Sharon, champion of the Sinai settlements, called Begin during the negotiations at Camp David to say he'd yield them for a peace treaty.3 It will be interesting to see if Sharon actually takes charge of tearing them down. I've always sensed that this fellow is unusually brutal and mendacious, but that cuts two ways; he can also betray his own constituents, the folks who rallied to him for saying he'd make no concessions."
"Hard to tell," you say, "In the meantime, Begin is running for reelection and Sharon could be defense minister. What if we linked U.S. aid to both West Bank settlements and terrorism? For every Israeli settler who crosses the '67 borders, we deduct some aid money to Israel, and for every Palestinian terror bombing, we restore it. That would squeeze 'em both."
"Won't American Jewish leaders yell?"
"Perhaps, if they are not too busy having their pictures taken with Begin. In the meantime, we need to start worrying about the situation in Lebanon. It is unsettling, and one just never knows what sort of stunt Arafat could pull next. Whenever he is unhappy with developments, he throws everything into the air and hopes the Europeans will save him. What could be worse than a brawl in Lebanon with Arafat leading the Palestinians and Sharon as Israeli defense minister?"
"Arafat versus Sharon as prime minister."
"There's a nightmare for you. What do you think we should do about Arafat?," you wonder out loud. "He rejected Camp David, embraced Khomeini, presents no proposals except 'Give me what I demand.' Many of our European friends say, 'Give him a chance.' I wonder if they haven't made a myth of him. Did you ever read the interview of Arafat by Oriana Fallaci back in '72? She went in as a left-winger ready to be sympathetic to a third world hero. She left disillusioned. I have it over here. Arafat says to her, 'The end of Israel is the goal of our struggle and it allows for neither compromise nor mediation . . . revolutionary violence is the only system for liberating the land of our fathers . . . The purpose of this violence is to liquidate Zionism. . . .We don't want peace. We want war, victory. Peace for us means the destruction of Israel and nothing else.'"
"And read this," you add, "Arafat is supposed to be a Palestinian nationalist leader, but he insists here that 'From an Arab point of view, one doesn't speak of borders; Palestine is a small drop in the great Arabic ocean. And our nation is the Arab one; it is a nation extending from the Atlantic to the Red Sea and beyond.' He is being interviewed in Jordan and he insists they are in Palestine, that Jordan is Palestine. Doesn't Sharon say that? Arafat says that 'there is no difference between Palestinians and Egyptians. Both are part of the Arab nation.' So he agrees with Golda Meir that there are no Palestinians? Look at how he speaks about terrorism. Fallaci says to him that PLO bombings kill civilians, and Arafat replies, 'civilians or military, they're all equally guilty of wanting to destroy my people . . . civilians are the first accomplices of the gang that rules Israel.' Imagine, he says this just months before the massacre at the Munich Olympics. Fallaci asks him if he respects his foes, and he says 'As fighters, and even as strategists . . . sometimes yes. . . . But as persons no.' You must concede that Israelis are brave soldiers, says the interviewer. 'No! No! No!,' replies Arafat, 'No they're not! . . . They're too afraid of dying.' He declares, 'Losses to us don't count, we don't care if we die.'4 This guy will drive his people off a cliff while insisting he knows the one route to freedom. Shouldn't this guy have to take a driver's test before they give him diplomatic license? And then be given constant retesting?"
"Our European friends say he changed with his UN speech in '74," comments the secretary, "Nixon went to China. Sadat went to Jerusalem."
"But Voice of Palestine reported on July 7, 1979, that after meeting with Austrian chancellor Bruno Kreisky, 'Brother Abu Ammar [Arafat's nom de guerre-Eds.] reiterated the PLO's refusal to hold any dialogue with the leaders of the Zionist entity.' According to Tehran television on August 1, 1979, Arafat sent a telegram to Khomeini declaring, 'We will continue on the path of jihad and sacrifice until God almighty bestows final victory on us.' And PARS, Tehran's domestic news service, reported on August 6, 1979, that Arafat sent a telegram to Iran's foreign minister declaring, 'The nation of Palestine and the Arabs support the holy Islamic revolution in Iran and are determined to continue their fight and armed confrontation to recapture Palestine and free the Holy-land from the claws of the Zionists.' Our European friends seem to take Arafat at his word to them while ignoring the rest of his sentences.
"A lot of Israeli policy is bad," you continue. "Still, Israelis would be idiots to disregard this relentless rhetoric. On the other hand, the Israelis can defend themselves with their army and that doesn't require Jewish Khomeinis in West Bank settlements and Gaza. We need to distinguish support of Israel from backing deluded right-wing policies, just as we must distinguish Palestinian suffering from Arafat's appalling leadership. It seems to me that our Mideast policies should seek to consolidate the Israeli-Egyptian peace process, find ways to temper the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, and we must keep a sharp eye on Lebanon."
Then the secretary of state says, "There is another matter-the Persian Gulf and the Iran-Iraq War. Ever since Saddam attacked Khomeini's regime last September the area has suffered enormous carnage, massive misery, and high death tolls. Tehran has declared that it will fight back until there is a regime change in Baghdad. 'God wants us to share, together with the nation of Iraq, in the honor of toppling Saddam and his executioner regime,' declared Iran's prime minister, Ali Raja'i. 'The war against Iran is a war against Islam,' declared Ayatollah Khomeini himself. Khomeini, who was expelled in October 1978 from Najaf, Iraq, where he was a refugee from the shah [He then went to France.-Eds.], also denounced Saddam as a 'Zionist.' Why else would Saddam attack Iran? No, it is Khomeini who is really the 'Zionist,' Saddam riposted. Also, Syria's dictator, Hafez al-Assad, who backed Iran against Iraq, he, too, is a closet 'Zionist,' says Saddam. At least these two Supreme Leaders, Saddam and Khomeini, agree on something, the vast influence of Zionists.
"In fact, Saddam completely misread his enemy. He believed internal struggles had so weakened Khomeini's regime that it would simply fall apart as Iraq's army advanced. Saddam's illusion may have been encouraged by evaluations he received from Iranian exiles who fled to Baghdad after Khomeini's revolution. But the Iraqi invasion helped the new Iranian regime to consolidate instead. Saddam, already Iraq's strongman for some years, consolidated his own power in July 1979, a month after he officially became Iraqi president, by executing a third of the Baath Party's leadership.
"Saddam thought he could outsmart everyone," the secretary of state continues, as he hands you more papers, "and he outsmarted himself. Despite his initial battlefield success, he found himself in a military deadlock by late November 1980, not long after you defeated Reagan. Iran has now launched a massive counterattack. The situation is even trickier because the French have been helping Saddam to build a nuclear reactor. What is with that fellow Chirac? He seems to have been infatuated by Saddam, fantasizing that this dictator is a Napoleon-Nasser-de Gaulle. Because French Socialists gave the Israelis nuclear technology in the fifties, Chirac the right-winger wanted to correct this 'strategic error' in the 1970s by giving nuclear technology to Saddam.5 I heard that some wit renamed Iraq's Osirak nuclear site 'Ochirac.' "
"Fortunately, Chirac is no longer prime minister," you respond to the secretary, "now that our friend Mitterrand won the presidential election and there is a socialist government in Paris. I hope its grasp of the consequences of these sorts of policies is more astute. And let's make sure ours is astute too and pay special attention to developments in this region."
More Complications
So that provides part of the HOP into which you, Comrade Reader, will have to step when you make your decision as president of the United States. Imagine that these preceding conversations occurred in late May 1981, a few months after you moved into the White House. Let's now go forward to December of the same year. And please remember that the veil has dropped over you and you know nothing of what happens in the world after that month's end.
There have been Iranian offensives and victories. Saddam's army is in deep trouble. Soon his regime may be too. In late September, after a rout of the Iraqis, there were fevered, celebratory speeches in the Iranian parliament, the Majlis. Allah's hand has been revealed though Iran's triumphs. The Iranians dealt the Iraqis more blows by early December and severed crucial communications and logistical ties among Iraqi forces.6 In the meantime, the war has made it impossible for Iraq to use the Gulf for oil exports, and Baghdad is dangerously dependent on a pipeline through Syria-Iran's ally and Iraq's rival. Foreign exchange reserves have plummeted, and Baghdad will have to impose economic austerity soon.
According to intelligence reports, one of Iran's next campaigns will be called "Operation al-Quds," that is, "the Holy"-the Arabic word for Jerusalem. Khomeini is proclaiming that the march to Baghdad will lead eventually to Jerusalem. Even if this is just propaganda, it makes the Jordanians nervous, because their kingdom, which backs Iraq, is the most plausible path there. And Khomeini could well send holy warriors on a detour through Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
It is very worrisome. You call up the national security adviser, and secretaries of state and defense and tell them you want to meet by the week's end to consider policy options. Then you riffle through a background file assembled by your national security adviser, who also provided a "General Assessment." It reads:
These two lands have a long, difficult history between them. The immediate source of conflict is a return to old quarrels, partly over the Shatt al-Arab, a waterway into the Gulf. It is the border between the two countries for some of its route. The Algiers Accord of 1975 supposedly settled this matter, but Saddam agreed to it under pressure because of the shah's support of Kurdish rebels. Once the agreement was signed and the shah withdrew support, the Kurdish struggle for national liberation collapsed. In the aftermath tens of thousands of Kurds were "transferred" by Saddam out of their homelands. Then Saddam got busy repressing Iraqi communists, throwing away the "National Action Charter" signed by the Baath with them in 1973. Hard to tell the greater danger: reaching an agreement with Saddam or not reaching an agreement with him.
The United States is on the outs with both Tehran and Baghdad. The Soviets have been Iraq's main arms supplier since 1958, but Baghdad sought to diversify its sources in the 1970s. It bought more and more from France, which became its second major weapons supplier-about 40 percent of Iraq's arms-by the time of the attack on Iran. In the 1970s France emerged as the third biggest exporter of arms to the Third World. Obviously, this is tied to sustaining huge investments in its domestic arms industry. All this is part of Paris's assertion of military independence after quitting NATO's joint command. France has been selling Iraq very advanced weapons and Mitterrand has made it clear that this will continue. Still, he, like everyone else must have been secretly relieved when Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear site last summer.
Baghdad's turn to Paris seems to have been prescient. Moscow is angry at Saddam for attacking Iran without the consultations Baghdad promised in the Iraqi-Soviet Friendship Treaty of 1972. The Soviets held back military supplies at the beginning of the war, but are preparing to deliver again. The Soviets and the French are attempting balancing acts between Iran and Iraq, seeking to extend sway in countries at war with each other. France's investment in Iraq grows by leaps and bounds, much to Iran's chagrin. Reliable sources report that Iraq is buying British medical kits-10,000 of them-that are apparently for workers in chemical weapons factories. Iraq is importing howitzers from South Africa, cluster bombs from Chile, and weapons from Argentina's junta.
The regional context makes matters more jittery. Islamic extremists assassinated Sadat just two months ago. The TV news shows the assassins and their collaborators behind bars screaming fundamentalist slogans. One of them, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad who studied at the American University of Cairo, seems especially fanatical, railing and ranting against infidels and traitors, Americans, and Zionists, hailing Sadat's murder. Wouldn't want him out of jail. Islamic fundamentalists seem to be on a roll- Sunnis as well as Shiites, for all the antagonisms between them. The momentum and self-confidence of each reinforces the other.
Sadat made a big mistake when he relaxed restraints on the Muslim Brothers and their ilk after Nasser died. He wanted them to counter-balance pro-Soviet factions in Egypt, but he did this just as the Saudis, flush with petrodollars, were investing in Wahhabi fundamentalism everywhere. Can you ever re-control decontrolled fundamentalists who believe the future is theirs? The United States is fiddling with jihadists too, thinking they may be useful against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Last year, Brzezinski gave a speech on the Afghan border to anti-Soviet Mujahideen in which he urged, "This is your God-given country. Go and liberate it in a Holy War against the godless Communists."7 Better think twice about this. There are also a number of reports of fundamentalist stirrings in Syria, especially in the town of Hama. If there is a regime able to handle the Muslim Brothers, it is Syria. It will simply dispatch them, no questions asked, and there will be no condemnatory resolutions passed by the UN or the Arab League. (They are usually too busy condemning Israel for something real or something imaginary.)
Then there is Lebanon, where a transformation is also underway. The Shiites, who make up some 40 percent of the population, its most deprived sector, have mobilized. They are clashing constantly with the PLO mini-state that was established in southern Lebanon after Arafat was expelled from Jordan. The Lebanese confessional system was stacked against the Shiites, but now, in the midst of civil war, they are demanding their due as never before thanks partly to the leadership of a charismatic religious leader, Iranian born Musa al-Sadr. He died under bizarre circumstances after a trip to Libya in 1978. (Qadaffi claims al-Sadr boarded a return flight, but he wasn't on it when the plane arrived in Lebanon; nobody ever found him.) So he became a galvanizing myth, and then just after his disappearance, the Iranian revolution energized Lebanese Shiites even more.
In short, the Mideast presents its usual tumultuous picture, you think. Lebanon is fractured, but everywhere else there seem to be authoritarian nationalist regimes on one hand and civil societies in which religious fundamentalists are emerging as the most vigorous component on the other. And things are becoming more and more precarious because of the Iran-Iraq War. A miserable regime may defeat a wretched one. Now you, as president, must make a choice. You meet your national security adviser and your secretaries of state and defense in the Oval Office.
What to Do?
The national security adviser begins: "The United States has pursued some ill-conceived policies and has had some bad luck in this area. There are a few key issues, all linked: What are the consequences if we do nothing? What influence do we have? Can we achieve anything positive? Do we have some overriding interest in sticking our nose in just now? We already have a recession at home that has been helped along significantly by the oil crisis following Khomeini's rise. But the immediate, very big question is this: If Khomeini, who is devoted to spreading his Islamic revolution, marches to Baghdad and a swell of triumphalist fanaticism rises mightily throughout the region, what then?"
"What is our latest evaluation of Khomeini?," you ask. "And what of left opinion? After all, the hostages were released after we won the election. As I recall, some prominent American intellectuals, not just Foucault in France, thought highly of him."
"That's right," says the national security adviser, "did you read in the file I prepared that New York Times op-ed piece from February 1979 by Richard Falk, the professor of international law at Princeton? He visited Khomeini in France. His article complained that the ayatollah was maligned when Carter and Brzezinski 'until recently associated him with religious fanaticism.' Falk protests that 'The news media have defamed him in many ways, associating him with efforts to turn the clock back 1,300 years, with virulent anti-Semitism, and with a new political disorder, "theocratic fascism" about to be set loose on the world.' He explains to readers that Khomeini 'indicated' that non-religious leftists would be able to participate fully in an Islamic republic and that 'to suppose that Ayatollah Khomeini is dissembling seems almost beyond belief.' He adds that 'the depiction of him as fanatical, reactionary, and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false.'8
"The article is entitled 'Trusting Khomeini,'" you note. "I hope he doesn't write on 'Trusting Arafat' to convince Israelis to make concessions to the Palestinians. People will run into Sharon's arms after reading it."
"There's more," says the national security adviser. "Anthony Lewis then wrote a Times column chastising Falk for 'trusting in illusions'-things were getting increasingly repressive in Khomeini's Iran-and Falk insists that 'to single out Iran for criticism at this point is to lend support to that fashionable falsehood, embraced by Mr. Lewis, that what has happened in Iran is the replacement of one tyranny by another.'"9
"Well, I don't think we'll consult him," you comment. "For starters, I don't intend to wear a veil myself. The reasoning reminds me a little too much of intellectuals who 'understood' Stalin-in contrast to the bourgeois idiots. We need a left foreign policy that is free, really free, of cognitive dissonance." You turn to the secretary of defense and ask him to assess the impact of the Iranian revolution on the Iraqi military.
"It's hard to say," the secretary, responds. "Intelligence here is always difficult. Sixty percent of Iraq is Shiite. While they are not all of a stripe, and while they tend to be Iraqi nationalists-Iraq's ground troops in the war are heavily Shiite-they are also not so pleased by Saddam, whose Baath power base is mainly Sunni and tribal. Still, imagine Shiite fundamentalist regimes in Tehran and Baghdad concurrent with a fascist regime in Damascus, energized Shiism in Lebanon, and invigorated Sunni fundamentalism in an uncertain, post-Sadat Egypt.
"No intelligent person, no matter how anti-imperialist, however much he despises Western oil companies, can imagine that it would be good for religious fanatics and their allies to control this region of the world, not to mention the West's oil supply-just as no intelligent person could be happy about Saddam marching into Tehran, with his fascist regime asserting control over oil and the Gulf on behalf of a pan-Arab chauvinism. Even if one argued-it is a legitimate claim-that we are imperious outsiders, especially given our past support for the shah, that brutal megalomaniac, the consequences would be dreadful. But right now, it looks more likely that Khomeini could win."
"Problem is," says the secretary of state, "our influence is at a nadir. U.S. policy in the seventies was based on 'two pillars,' both of them conservative, dominating the Gulf-Tehran and Riyadh. Now those reactionary Saudis are petrified and Tehran is utterly hostile to us. Relations between the United States and Iraq were broken in 1967, in the aftermath of the Arab-Israeli war. We began some trade again in the mid-1970s, and it increased in late '79. We have some presence in Baghdad through our interests section in the Belgian embassy. We are getting conciliatory signals from Saddam. He is running scared, very scared. And we have received a quiet message from Mitterrand: 'Saddam must not fall.' He isn't saying that merely because of French investments in Iraq. He sees the dire consequences, long and short term, of a Khomeini sweep. So the crucial question is, should we tilt to Iraq? Or rather, what if we don't?"
The national security adviser asks, "What are the alternatives? A UN resolution? A UN-coordinated oil embargo against both sides? It'll never work. Moscow and Paris are too invested. Besides, there isn't much reason to have faith in the UN when it comes to this part of the world. Look at what it did during the crisis before the '67 Arab-Israeli War. Nasser mobilized his army, demanded removal of UN Emergency Forces that served as the buffer between Egypt and Israel for a decade, and next thing you know, the UNEF is on the way out. UN Secretary General U Thant stuck to international legalisms and the result was war. Anyway, nobody who has paid attention to Khomeini or Saddam can believe that either will knuckle under an embargo, not to mention the demands of international law or the UN. We need a policy that won't help the UN shoot its own foot.
"Still, we'd better deliberate hard about a 'tilt' to someone like Saddam. If we help him too much, he'll become the danger, almost certainly. And we don't want to give him the wrong help. Think of his pursuit of nuclear power and those British medical kits he imported. One easily imagines him deploying the worst weapons against his neighbors and his own population. He is atrocity incarnate. Remember, he launched this war."
"Moreover," you interject, "ours is supposed to be a foreign policy of the left. That is a matter of our values, but also of politics. If we botch this, if we show the American people that the left cannot conduct foreign policy, then we can expect Reagan's wagon train to turn around.
"Can a foreign policy of the left tilt to a regime like Saddam's? Hard to justify, even if it only means that we will give him satellite intelligence and carefully gauged arms assistance. I must say that the very need to make this decision irks me. Were we out of government, we would probably be writing articles for Dissent saying that the problem is the overall direction of American foreign policy. Except we won the election, and we already reoriented policy with the long term in mind.
"We cannot make decisions in government as if we were out of government. We cannot invent choices that are comfortable to us and then choose between them. How can we find some practical equilibrium between our left-wing values and the intransigent realities of the world out there-like the consequence of the aggressive ambitions of either a fascist dictator or a 'fanatical, reactionary, and the bearer of crude prejudices,' to quote Falk. Regardless of what we do, neither Saddam nor Khomeini is likely to function in ways that are wholly rational and predictable. Can we minimize the maximum damage each might do? If we do nothing, if we don't 'tilt' to Saddam, the regional and then global consequences are likely to be catastrophic. Military intelligence makes it clear that the hour is very late. If we do tilt to him, our hands become very dirty, and a lot of the consequences are unpredictable."
You light a cigarette. You quit smoking years back, but you've been cheating in recent days as you contemplate the decision you might have to make. You inhale deeply and say, "Here is what I think we must do. . ."
And here is where I will ask you, Dissent reader, to recall that you are supposed to imagine yourself to be Eugenia Norma Harrington, the fortieth president of the United States, in this Historical Original Position. The veil you wear is not one of Khomeini's choosing, but a historical one: you don't know any post-1981 history. You may ask what I would do were I the president. I do have a view about this-one that I don't like. But because I am the architect of this thought experiment, I won't say. I will step back (I hear that I am not the first grand designer to do this), and ask you, Madame President: will you tilt to Iraq?

Mitchell Cohen is co-editor of Dissent.


L'?ditorial du Monde
Hors de Guantanamo
LE MONDE | 27.07.04 | 12h23
Pour ?tre inform? avant tout le monde, recevez nos alertes par e-mail. Abonnez-vous au, 5? par mois
QUATRE des sept Fran?ais d?tenus sur la base am?ricaine de Guantanamo, ? Cuba, ont, enfin, quitt? cette zone de non-droit pour rentrer ? Paris. Cela faisait des mois que le gouvernement fran?ais n?gociait leur retour, afin que leur situation soit examin?e dans un cadre juridique normal.
La France n'?tant pas en odeur de saintet? ? Washington, la lib?ration de ses ressortissants n'avait pas ?t? jug?e prioritaire ; elle suit celle de 135 d?tenus d?j? remis ? leurs pays.
Pendant que diplomates et organisations de d?fense des droits de l'homme vont continuer ? s'activer pour obtenir le transfert des autres d?tenus, le sort des quatre hommes attendus mardi 27 juillet va - enfin - d?pendre de la justice. Une justice antiterroriste certes, mais ob?issant aux r?gles du droit et fondant ses d?cisions sur des preuves tangibles. Il lui reviendra de d?cider, dans les r?gles, s'il existe des charges contre eux, ou bien s'il convient de les lib?rer, comme cela a d?j? ?t? le cas ? Londres ou au Danemark.
S'ils sont blanchis, ce sera un nouveau coup dur pour la cr?dibilit? de la "guerre contre le terrorisme" conduite par le pr?sident Bush, au m?pris du droit - national ou international - ni de la morale. Du non-droit ? Guantanamo aux prisons de Bagdad, l'exemple donn? par les Etats-Unis n'est pas ? l'honneur de la plus grande d?mocratie du monde et l'image de ce pays en a s?rieusement p?ti ? travers le monde.
Au m?me moment, ? la suite du d?saveu historique inflig? le 28 juin ? l'administration Bush par la Cour supr?me, qui a donn? le droit aux "combattants ennemis" d?tenus ? Guantanamo de se pourvoir devant la justice civile am?ricaine, le Pentagone a mis en place une instance militaire devant laquelle les d?tenus vont pouvoir contester leur statut. Il aura fallu ? certains d'entre eux jusqu'? deux ans et demi avant de pouvoir ainsi se d?fendre.
Nul ne nie qu'il y a sans doute, parmi les quelque 600 d?tenus de Guantanamo, de vrais terroristes li?s ? Al-Qaida. Mais ces soup?ons ne justifient pas pour autant le traitement juridique et physique qui leur a ?t? r?serv? depuis leur arrestation.
L'histoire montre que les Etats qui ont choisi de lutter contre le terrorisme ou l'oppression par des moyens non-d?mocratiques n'ont jamais r?ussi. Ces m?thodes n'aboutissent g?n?ralement qu'? jeter le discr?dit sur ceux qui s'y livrent - et sur ceux qui les y autorisent. La sup?riorit? de la d?mocratie tient dans son refus de se livrer ? des actions d?gradantes et ill?gales. M?me si, dans des circonstances exceptionnelles, comme le 11 Septembre, elle peut - et doit - se doter de moyens exceptionnels pour se d?fendre. Mais toujours sous le contr?le de la justice.
Alors que s'ouvre, avec la convention d?mocrate, la phase finale de la campagne pr?sidentielle, il faut esp?rer que, sans baisser la garde, les Etats-Unis reviennent ? la l?galit?. Et que le respect du droit, un temps oubli? ? Washington pour des raisons discutables, redevienne le fondement de la d?mocratie am?ricaine.

Is there really a rise in oil prices?

Which energy source will we use in future? Despite forecasts of a change to nuclear power, oil will continue to play a key role. According to the International Energy Agency demand will increase by 1.9% a year, from 80m barrels a day in 2003 to 120m in 2020. By then Arab countries will produce 41% of global supplies rather than the present 25%.
by Nicolas Sarkis

WHAT is behind the current steep rise in oil prices? Is it temporary and linked to the economic and political climate, or the start of a cycle that will bring a long-term increase in energy prices? Is it, as some fear, the prologue to another oil crisis caused by the inability of supply to keep pace with demand?
These questions are legitimate. Some observers thought that the invasion of Iraq by the United States in March 2003 would lead to a quick rise in Iraqi output and a drop in oil prices to about $20 a barrel. But two months later the oil market came to the boil and has been bubbling ever since. This spring the unexpected rise in prices speeded up despite a seasonal drop in world demand of about 2m barrels a day.
The drop in prices after the last meeting of Opec (1) on 3 June and the announcement of an increase in US reserves did not dispel concern. World demand is expected to rise again in the immediate future and the underlying factors that boosted prices to more than $40 a barrel have not gone away. The key factors are the global political situation and market forces.
The price hike would not have been as sudden if conditions in Iraq were different and Saudi Arabia not vulnerable to terror attacks. Widespread insecurity and recurrent sabotage of oil facilities in Iraq dragged production there down to 1.33m barrels a day (bpd) in 2003, compared with 2.12m in 2002. Production rose to 2.3 bpd in May 2004, but that is still well below the levels in 1999-2001.The new authorities have frozen contracts negotiated or signed by the Ba'athist regime with international companies to exploit new oilfields, which were expected to double output within six to eight years. Recent terror attacks in Saudi Arabia, which is the world's largest exporter, especially an attack that targeted a petrochemical facility and wells, were a serious shock.
The current frequency of attacks makes people fear that they will be a recurring feature in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other Gulf states, with the possibility of lasting disruption of exports. The big difference from the crises of 1973 or 1979 is that the basic problem then was an embargo instituted by the governments of Opec countries or a change in political regime (as in Iran after the Islamic revolution). Now unpredictable attacks by unknown groups are the problem, plus the threat of the destabilisation of the Saudi regime that undermines that country's ability to continue its central role in supplying world demand.
Tensions caused by the deterioration of the situation in Iraq and Saudi Arabia are mostly responsible for the latest price rise, called the risk premium. This runs at $6-10 a barrel, depending on circumstances, and covers both higher insurance charges and the impact of speculation on futures markets (major investment banks have allocated tens of billions of dollars to these).
Geopolitical tension and speculative buying have amplified a bullish trend rooted in a change in the balance between supply and demand. Three main factors demand our attention. The first, often overlooked, is the impact of ethnic conflicts and strikes on Nigerian oil production. (The strike that paralysed the oil industry in Venezuela in 2003 also led to a substantial drop in output.)
The second problem is that refining bottlenecks are common in countries with the largest consumption. After inadequate investment in recent years, global capacity currently totals 83.6m bpd, slightly more than the 82.5m bpd peak in demand in February. The structure of refining capacity is unsuited to the current demand for refined products, particularly in the US, which uses 9.6m barrels daily; a petrol shortage in May caused prices to rise steeply. When the price of refined products rose, crude oil prices followed.
The third problem is that on 10 April Opec decided to reduce its production ceiling to 23.5m bpd; this led to a sharp protest in industrialised countries, adding to tension and exacerbating the rise in prices. In practice Opec members have not reduced real output, and overall supply is still sufficient to cover demand.
Oil market statistics are fuzzy. Surprisingly, Opec members publish production figures three months late, maintaining the confusion between their theoretical production quotas and actual output, which generally exceeds quotas. Operators and observers play hide-and-seek, attempting to track tankers as they leave loading ports and consulting secondary sources to assess, as far as possible, the daily production of oil. A lack of transparency does not only apply to real output figures but affects data on production capacity and variations in unused capacity in exporting countries. This is very important at times of low unused capacity, as at present.
The most reliable estimates are that unused capacity is now about 2.5-3m bpd worldwide. Most of this is in Saudi Arabia; production is at full capacity in non-Opec and most member countries. A major disruption in Saudi or Iraqi exports, or a strike or serious accident in another main exporting country, could cause a shortfall in supply, driving market prices up again. This risk contributed to the latest price hike; the expected increase in world demand in the second half of 2004 will stretch the meagre resources available.
Another void in oil statistics centres on the doubts about official data on proven reserves and the reliability of medium- and long-term forecasts of global supply and demand. When an international company such as Shell, with shares quoted on stock exchanges, cuts its reserves forecast by about 25% in a few months, it is hardly surprising that figures published by other large corporations should be queried.
Official statistics on proven reserves in Russia and the main Opec members, which are not checked by independent bodies, have prompted serious doubts for many years. There is a major problem here. The reserves of the eight largest national companies in Opec countries theoretically amount to 662bn barrels, compared with only 57bn barrels held by the top eight international companies. The recent controversy after the Simmons report (2) on the state of the Saudi oil fields and the scope for developing the reserves of Saudi Aramco (the national oil company), which amount to almost a quarter of the world total, exacerbated concern.
World demand, currently at 80.3m bpd, is expected to rise to almost 120m bpd by 2025, roughly twice the level of the 1970s. Can supply follow? Only the Middle East can provide the bulk of it, which means output must more than double to avoid shortages. In the medium term obstacles to this are mostly political. To increase output will require huge investments in the region, estimated at $27bn a year. But for that to be possible there must be a favourable political climate, which is far from the case. Beyond that lies the big unknown, in the Middle East and elsewhere: when production will peak, in one country after another, before irreversible decline.
The Association for the Study of Peak Oil international conference in Berlin in May 2003 was not reassuring. Disregarding claims of both optimists and pessimists, the number of new finds is falling, as is their volume. Only one giant oil field, Kashagan in Kazakhstan, has been discovered in the past 30 years and new finds do not compensate for the oil extracted every year. A geologist says that oil exploration is now like a hunting expedition on which hunters have improved the perform ance of their guns through better technology but game is small and scarce.
We should not ignore another grim reality: by 2025 the steep increase in world demand and decline in reserves and output in industrialised countries will increase their dependence on imported oil. US imports will rise from 55.7% to 71%, western European imports from 50.1% to 68.6%, and Chinese from 31.5% to 73.2%. This growing dependence, in a sector as vital as energy, explains the oil wars that the big powers and their com panies are waging to gain control of reserves in the Middle East, Africa (3), Central Asia and Iraq (4). There has been serious reason to question the interpretation of the current rises - are they the first sign of a crisis caused by the imbalance between steadily rising demand and inadequate production capacity?
The expansion of production capacity over the next few years depends just as much on political stability, particularly in the Middle East, as on the volume of reserves available. Longer term the slow but inexorable exhaustion of reserves means that a gradual switch to other energy sources is inevitable. Besides political stability this transition requires sufficiently attractive energy prices to allow global investment in energy production, a sum estimated by the International Energy Agency at $16,480bn (at 2000 prices) between 2001 and 2003.
Oil and gas industries will need money, and more will be needed to develop other energy sources. The fears caused by the rise in oil prices may help end the torpor made possible by adequate supplies and oil prices which, even at their current level (adjusted for inflation), are no higher than the record set 25 years ago.
* Nicolas Sarkis is director of the Arab Petroleum Research Centre and editor of 'Le p?trole et le gaz arabes'
(1) Opec's 11 members are Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Venezuela and Indonesia.
(2) Matthew Simmons, president of the Simmons & Company international investment bank, advises the US vice-president Dick Cheney and was the brains behind the new US energy policy.
(3) See Jean-Christophe Servant, "The new Gulf oil states", Le Monde diplomatique, English language edition, January 2003.
(4) See Yahya Sadowski, "No war for whose oil", Le Monde diplomatique, English language edition, April 2003.
Translated by Harry Forster
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ? 1997-2004 Le Monde diplomatique

>> RICIN...

Ricin found in baby-food jar
Associated Press
POSTED AT 5:05 PM EDT Wednesday, Jul 28, 2004
Irvine, Calif. -- Trace amounts of the deadly poison ricin have been found in at least one jar of baby food that had been tampered with, the FBI said Wednesday.
The FBI and prosecutors are investigating two suspected cases of food tampering. No injuries or arrests have been reported, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
Authorities have not disclosed the amount of ricin discovered, the number of baby food jars that contained the poison or a possible motive.
On June 16, a man told Irvine police that as he was about to feed his son, he found a note inside a jar of baby food warning that it had been contaminated. A similar case was reported by an Irvine couple on May 31 involving the same baby food, Gerber Banana Yogurt, police said. A note was also found inside that jar. Investigators were testing Gerber Banana Yogurt removed from the store where both jars were purchased. They did not specify whether the ricin was found in both jars. Authorities did not disclose the contents of the notes but said they referred to an Irvine police officer. Ricin is made from castor beans and can be fatal if swallowed, inhaled or injected. A dose about the size of the head of a pin could be enough to kill an adult, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

>> NEXT DAY...

Ricin in baby food appears isolated
By Ben Fox, Associated Press | July 29, 2004

IRVINE, Calif. -- Police said yesterday they are looking for a man who may have witnessed the tampering of two jars of baby food that were contaminated with ground castor beans containing tiny amounts of the poison ricin.
The contamination of the jars also included notes that referred to an Irvine police officer.
US Food and Drug Administration officials who tested the baby food said the ricin was not in the purified form that can be deadly. Rather, it was a less toxic, natural component of the castor beans, which can be obtained from ornamental plants.
''It's unlikely there would be serious injury with the level of castor bean found in those two jars we tested," said Dr. David Acheson, chief medical officer with the FDA's Center for Food, Safety and Applied Nutrition.
Small amounts of the food were eaten, but the babies had no symptoms, he said.
Authorities have not disclosed a motive but want to question Charles Dewey Cage, 47, of Irvine, a possible witness who was ''in the area at a relevant time," said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
Authorities called it an isolated case and said no more contamination was found at the store where the two jars were bought.
''There's no reason to believe there is any more out there," said Dan Henson, a special agent with the FDA.
The jars of Gerber Banana Yogurt also contained notes that referred to an Irvine police officer whose name was not released, but their exact contents were not disclosed. The officer is not a suspect, authorities said.
On June 16, a man told Irvine police that as he prepared to feed his son, he found a note inside a jar of baby food warning that it had been contaminated. A similar case was reported by an Irvine couple on May 31 involving the same baby food, police said. A note was also found inside that jar.
The Gerber Products Co., based in Parsippany, N.J., is working with investigators. Authorities told the company the contamination ''absolutely" occurred after the food was manufactured, said Gerber spokeswoman Terry Boylan. Gerber baby food jars are vacuum sealed and should pop when opened. If they don't, it could indicate they have been tampered with, Boylan said.
Ricin can be fatal if swallowed, inhaled, or injected. A dose about the size of the head of a pin could be enough to kill an adult, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

? Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.


Posted by maximpost at 4:59 PM EDT
Tuesday, 27 July 2004

India's CIA spy scandal
India's external intelligence service, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has launched a major internal investigation for possible moles following the apparent defection of a senior officer recruited by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
The Indian government fears that the defection of Rabinder Singh, who held the senior rank of joint secretary and who headed the agency's Southeast Asia department, is only the tip of the iceberg in a possible infiltration operation by the CIA and Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence service.
The focus of the investigation will be RAW, as well as the Intelligence Bureau, which handles counterintelligence and the Defence Intelligence Agency. The mole hunt is expected to extend to Indian embassies around the world where RAW personnel operate under diplomatic protection, particularly those who liaise with foreign intelligence agencies.
According to informed intelligence sources, several Indian operatives have already been suspended pending investigation. One senior intelligence official committed suicide on 13 June in New Delhi, although it is not yet clear whether this incident was linked to the current Singh investigation.
The scandal, which broke on 5 June, risks damaging India's post-11 September 2001 strategic alliance with the USA and an earlier one with Israel, Washington's key ally in the Middle East. It is also likely to result in New Delhi placing limitations on intelligence sharing with both the USA and Israeli, which could impact on the US-led 'war on terrorism'.
India has decades of experience in combating such militants based in Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is speculation that the current scandal, which could extend throughout the Indian intelligence establishment, will also result in a wide ranging shake-up and reorganisation of the Indian intelligence agencies.
Predictably, Indian security authorities are saying little about the Singh case, but domestic sources report that counterintelligence became suspicious of Singh about six months ago, putting him under surveillance and tapping his telephones. It is not clear what alerted security authorities, but he was confronted by counterintelligence officials on 19 April (shortly after he had been in the USA) and questioned about 'sensitive files' he had allegedly removed from RAW's headquarters in south New Delhi.

India heads toward radical security shake-up
A proposal to revamp India's armed forces and its intelligence services could be the most radical since the country achieved independence 54 years ago. Scrutiny of the current security establishment follows the infiltration of Pakistani troops and
Islamic mercenaries into the mountainous region in the northern, disputed state of Kashmir in May 1999. JID's India analyst reports from Delhi.
The proposals submitted to the government by the group of ministers headed by Federal Home Minister Lal Kishen Advani are the distillation of the recommendations of four task forces on restructuring India's intelligence, internal security and defence and border management established last year. These specialist groups were set up following an official review of the Kashmir incident which led to 11 weeks of fighting during which 1,200 combatants died.
If the reforms proceed according to plan, India will soon have a Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) selected from among the heads of the army, navy and air force. Besides heading the proposed nuclear command, the CDS will also be in charge of the new Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) which will be headed by a three-star general. The DIA will have the responsibility of co-ordinating the directorates of military, naval and air force intelligence.
Meanwhile, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), India's internal information gathering agency, is to be given overall responsibility for internal security operations, with its director having wider powers than at present. The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is also due to undergo a significant reshaping of its external intelligence gathering role.
The task force on restructuring India's intelligence services, which is headed by former RAW head and Kashmir governor Girish Chandra Saxena, calls on the country's information gathering establishment to take "an honest and in-depth stock of their present efforts and capabilities to meet challenges and problems". It also advocates the overall upgrading of technical, imaging, signals, electronic counter-intelligence and economic intelligence capabilities, as well as a system-wide overhaul of conventional intelligence gathering.
New charter for Intelligence Bureau
Saxena's report gives the IB a formal charter for the first time in its almost 150-year old history, giving the Bureau specific responsibility for the collection and dissemination of all intelligence on internal security. The IB is also designated the nodal organisation for counter-terrorist and counter-intelligence work and is tasked with ensuring the security of information systems. Officials say this new charter will free the Bureau from much of its political surveillance work and election-related information gathering forced upon it by successive governments. By the end of the year, the IB should also have created India's first dedicated police computer network and terrorism database.
One major shift envisaged for the IB is the separation of information gathering from its analysis. Since the late 19th century, when the organisation was first set up by the British colonial administration to gather information on the dreaded Thug cult, the IB has placed particular emphasis on information analysis. Consequently, the operational businesses of micro-intelligence gathering, running sources and producing actionable strategies has often suffered. This problem was further exacerbated after the IB was striped of its technical assets with the founding of the RAW in the 1960s.
Under the proposed revamp, the Bureau will be provided with an independent communications intelligence capability, enabling it to monitor all forms of cellular, landline, radio-frequency and internet traffic. It will have its own cryptographic resources, along with state-of-the-art direction-finding equipment to locate transmissions by terrorists waging civil war in areas such as Kashmir and the north-eastern states bordering Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladesh. In addition to gaining new assets, however, the IB will acquire additional responsibilities.
New powers for overseas operations
So far RAW has had the responsibility for conducting overseas espionage operations, but now the IB will be empowered to execute "deep penetration" operations aboard. For this, the Bureau will be required to upgrade the quality of its personnel and expand their training. State governments too will feel the impact of these proposals with the establishment of joint intelligence task forces, as well as recommendations that the capabilities of police anti-terrorist units be upgraded.
The RAW, meanwhile, is expected to emerge from the restructuring as a "leaner and more focused" organisation. Its subsidiary outfit, the more or less moribund 30,000 strong Shanti Suraksha Bal (SSB) or Peace Protection Group - recruited to act as a paramilitary force along the border with China in the 1960s - will be absorbed into the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). However, some of its covert operatives will be handed over to the Bureau, with a few being retained by the RAW to meet in-house security needs. The report points out that this would free several RAW officers to concentrate on gathering external intelligence and running trans-border operations.
In addition, RAW has successfully thwarted moves to by the army to take over its high-profile Aerial Reconnaissance Centre (ARC), set up with American help after the Indo-China border conflict in 1962. The Army had demanded that it be given control of the ARC, which operates a fleet of aircraft especially equipped for high altitude operations. They also feature precision imaging equipment. Presently RAW plots an annual agenda for the ARC, based on broad army assessments of surveillance flights.
Under the revamped set up, the army will have more direct representation in the ARC in the form of a Military Intelligence Advisory Group which will be involved in its day-to-day operations.
The proposed DIA has also been empowered to conduct trans-border operations. It will now be able to carry out operations to gather tactical intelligence in neighbouring countries and to run its own agents. The director-general of military intelligence is presently authorised to execute intelligence gather


Tel Aviv in range of new Hizbullah rockets
Monday, July 26, 2004
JERUSALEM ? Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash has told the Cabinet that Hizbullah has 30 rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv, potentially armed with chemical warheads.
In his briefing, Zeevi-Farkash said Hizbullah has been equipped with long-range surface-to-surface rockets that can reach the Tel Aviv area. The general said Hizbullah has at least 30 rockets with ranges of 115 kilometers and 215 kilometers. Another 500 were deemed as medium-range rockets, which can reach a distance of about 75 kilometers.
The intelligence chief said Syria wants to tip some of the Hizbullah rockets with chemical warheads. He said Syria has already been launching tests of CW warheads on medium-range rockets. Hizbullah was said to have more than 13,500 rockets and missiles stationed in southern and eastern Lebanon, Middle East Newsline reported.
Zeevi-Farkash also told the Cabinet that Egypt has foiled a plot to smuggle 60 surface-to-surface rockets to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian insurgency groups.
Zeevi-Farkash said Hizbullah attempted to smuggle the rockets through the Sinai Peninsula to weapons tunnels that connect with the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.
Zeevi-Farkash was not quoted as saying whether the rockets were captured or were still in the hands of arms dealers in the Sinai Peninsula. The military intelligence chief said the rocket shipment was blocked before it arrived in Rafah.
In May, Israeli intelligence reported that Palestinian insurgents had ordered a large shipment of rockets, anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and surface-to-air missiles. Intelligence officers said a large amount of Cobra RPGs from Egypt's defense industry was smuggled into the Gaza Strip.
Hours later, Palestinian gunners fired anti-tank weapons and Kassam-class short-range missiles toward Israeli communities throughout the Gaza Strip. A Kassam missile landed near a community center in Neve Dekalim and five children were injured.
Israeli officials have termed the Palestinian rocket and missile arsenal a leading threat to the Jewish state. They said Israel and the United States were developing the Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser to respond to the Kassam threat.
Earlier, an Israeli Air Force AH-64A Apache attack helicopter targeted a suspected Hamas weapons workshop in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli military sources said the facility, which produced Kassam missiles, was struck.
In the West Bank, Israeli border police killed six Fatah insurgents in the northern city of Tulkarm. The insurgents, who included the local Fatah commander, were said to be heading for an attack inside Israel.
Copyright ? 2004 East West Services, Inc.

CCP newspaper: Beijing believes regional war 'inevitable,' sees U.S. as 'strategic target'
A Chinese Communist Party-owned newspaper reported last week that Chinese leaders plan to resolve the "Taiwan issue" before 2020. The Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po reported July 15 that the Central Military Commission in Beijing recently met to hear a speech from commission chairman Jiang Zemin and to set a timetable for resolving the Taiwan crisis. The report quoted an informed source as saying that a new world war was unlikely but that "regional wars are inevitable."

DIA: North Korean missile could deliver bio warhead to U.S.
N. Korea frequently sought special oil for military use from China
Chinese hit S. Korean security agencies with organized cyber-attack

Back to the past in Iraq
Iraq's new internal intelligence service, the General Security Directorate (GSD), established by the transitional government of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi faces an uphill struggle in its mission to crush the plethora of insurgent groups that have dragged the country to the brink of anarchy.
The GSD, the latest US effort towards remaking Iraq's security apparatus, will include former members of Saddam Hussein's feared security services, collectively known as the Mukhabarat. These former Ba'athists and Saddam loyalists will be expected to hunt down their colleagues currently organising the insurgency.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is supporting the new service, which was unveiled by Allawi after the US-led Coalition handed over sovereignty to his interim government on 28 June 2004. However, the USA is having its own serious problems in functioning effectively in Iraq even though it currently has hundreds of operatives deployed. Before the 2003 invasion, Iraq had been a 'black hole' for the CIA, which found it almost impossible to recruit agents because of Saddam's all-pervasive secret police.
Yet the CIA's vast deployment in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul and other cities has hardly been able to dent the insurgency. In December 2003, the CIA station chief in Baghdad was removed because his ability to lead the complex intelligence operation was in doubt and a more experienced officer was sent in. Since last year's invasion, the CIA's Baghdad station has become the largest in the agency's history, bigger even than the station in Saigon during the Vietnam War. The overall mission in Iraq - originally planned for 85 personnel - presently numbers 500, including 300 full-time 'case officers' running intelligence-gathering operations. With the war on terrorism now covering five continents, US intelligence capabilities are stretched extremely thin, or "beyond the limits" as one informed intelligence source told JID.
The US and France Tip the Scale in Lebanon's Power Struggle
by Ziad K. Abdelnour
In recent months, the United States and France have put considerable pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad not to interfere in Lebanon's presidential election this fall, while encouraging Lebanese politicians to exert control over the political process. This unusual display of trans-Atlantic coordination in Middle East policy has begun to reshape political alignments in Lebanon and encourage the growth of a broad-based pro-democracy movement.
The Lebanese constitution stipulates that the president, elected by parliament every six years and by law a member of the Maronite Christian community, may not serve two consecutive terms in office (a proviso intended to prevent office-holders from using their position to secure their own reelection). However, President Emile Lahoud does not want to leave office when his term expires in November and for nearly a year his supporters have been floating the idea that Article 49 of the constitution should be amended to allow for either an extension or renewal of his term.
If Lebanese parliament members were able to vote freely, a constitutional amendment would not even be under discussion. Lahoud's archenemy, Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, has a bloc of over 40 allies in the 128-member parliament (a result of the billionaire's profligate spending in the 2000 election cycle), while another political nemesis of the president, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, has a 14-member bloc. Since a constitutional amendment allowing Lahoud to stay in office would require the support of a two-thirds majority in parliament (and a two-thirds majority in the cabinet, which Hariri's allies can also defeat),[1] it would not have a prayer of approval unless Syria, which continues to dominate the country militarily and politically, intervenes and instructs them to vote for it.
This has happened before. Several weeks prior to the end of President Elias Hrawi's term in 1995, the head of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Ghazi Kanaan, arrived at a party attended by most of Lebanon's political elite and flatly announced that parliament must amend the constitution and extend Hrawi's tenure by three years.[2] Parliament obediently convened later that month and overwhelmingly approved the extension of Hrawi's term. Prior to the election of Lahoud in 1998, Syria forced again forced parliament to override the constitution, which bars officers from entering public office directly from the military (Lahoud was then army chief-of-staff).
On the surface, the willingness of Lebanon's governing elites to set aside their own preferences and implement Syrian will doesn't appear to have changed. In late June, Beirut MP Nabil de Freij, a member of Hariri's parliamentary bloc, openly acknowledged that his bloc's ultimate position on the matter depended on Damascus, which has the "last word in the elections here."[3] Until Syria makes its choice known, however, no one really knows what the reaction will be.
While Lahoud is a strong Syrian ally, Assad has remained tight-lipped on whether he will support an extension. Asked in a May 1 interview with the Arabic satellite news channel Al-Jazeera if he supports a particular candidate for the Lebanese presidency, Assad replied carefully, "Syria will support a non-sectarian president in Lebanon, a president for all the Lebanese people."[4] The statement was deliberately vague. Opponents of Lahoud interpreted the statement as meaning that the next president should have broad-based support. The president's supporters saw it as code for an extension, since Lahoud is, if nothing else, non-sectarian (most members of his own sect loathe him). What wasn't vague about the statement was its implication that Syria would do the choosing. In this and other interviews, Assad did not give the perfunctory "whomever the people choose" reply that heads of state typically offer when asked about foreign elections.
Syria also pressured both opponents and advocates of an extended incumbency to abstain from publicly committing themselves to either position. Lahoud has not publicly declared his intention to stay in office after November, while Hariri has not openly rejected the idea since last summer (when declared that he would shoot himself if "outside" pressures forced him to approve an extension, eliciting a sharp reprimand fro Damascus).[5] In fact, the vast majority of Lebanese politicians have not taken clear positions on the subject. "They all seem baffled and waiting, it's as if they are waiting for the secret word to arrive from Syria," says Baabda MP Bassem Sabaa, one of the few parliament members who have openly declared his opposition to amending the constitution.[6]
Assad imposed this moratorium on discussing extension because he wants to keep his options open for as long as possible - it's easier to pass off a last minute decision as an outgrowth of Lebanese consensus if members of the governing elite haven't already staked out diametrically opposed positions. While Syrian decisions on such important matters have nearly always been announced at the eleventh hour so as allow no time for Lebanese opposition to coalesce, Assad has an even more pressing reason for keeping the "Syrian card" face down for as long as possible - the United States and France both want Lahoud out, so the Syrian dictator is waiting to see what concessions he can get in return for installing a more acceptable president. The fact that Syria's need to shore up its relations with Western governments weighs more heavily on its decision than local political considerations is significant. "The wind is blowing badly for Syria," the diplomat explained, "even its Lebanese allies sense its regional weakening."[7]
The problem with Assad's strategy has been that mainstream Christian opposition figures in Lebanon don't fully observe Syrian guidelines on political expression. Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butrous Sfeir announced early this year that he opposes amending the constitution and most members of the mainstream Qornet Shehwan Gathering soon followed. This left Lahoud and his allies in a bind - staying quiet would allow opponents of extension to monopolize the public debate. However, responding to the criticism by publicly advocating extension would risk drawing Hariri and his more numerous allies into announcing their rejection of an extension. Blowing the lid off the debate would not only anger Assad, but would work against the president politically - once a large number of parliament members have expressed opposition to an extension for Lahoud, Syria would do better to choose someone else than to intervene on his behalf without any political cover.
So, until recently, the Lahoud camp remained tight-lipped on the question of extension, focusing instead on undermining the prime minister's credibility (conventional wisdom holds that Hariri will resign if Lahoud's term is extended, so Syria's
choice boils down to Hariri or Lahoud - meaning that their political struggle is basically zero-sum). Hariri's crowning economic (and diplomatic) achievement - persuading the international community to bail out the debt-ridden Lebanese government at the November 2002 Paris II conference - was tarnished when Lahoud's allies later prevented him from honoring the conditions (primarily privatization) of the loan. In recent months, Lahoud's tactics appear to have gotten more unruly. In May, violence erupted between anti-Hariri protestors and Lebanese army units in the Shiite southern suburbs of Beirut, leaving six dead. Why Lahoud sent the military into this area (a highly unusual action, since Hezbollah controls the area)
remains a mystery, but Hariri's allies believe he conspired with the Shiite fundamentalist group to stage the riots in hopes of persuading Syria that the prime minister is a liability.
Outside Impetus
Because of his efforts to sabotage Hariri's economic recovery program and his close cooperation with Hezbollah, Lahoud has long been viewed with distaste in both Paris and Washington. Hariri, in contrast, is a personal friend of French President Jacques Chirac (in part, it is rumored, because of his illicit contributions to the latter's political campaigns) and enjoys close contacts with American officials (he has visited Washington numerous times, while Lahoud has never even been invited).
In recent months, the United States and France have put considerable pressure on Assad to allow a constitutional presidential succession in Lebanon and Chirac has encouraged European governments to do the same. Following the third meeting of the EU-Lebanon Cooperation Council in Brussels on February 24, the European Union issued a press release saying that it "will closely follow the presidential elections to be held in Lebanon later this year," adding that "full respect for constitutional rules, and free and fair elections at regular intervals, are a key feature of democracy."[8] At a joint press conference in Paris on June 5, US President George W. Bush and French President Jacques Chirac made coordinated statements of support for Lebanese sovereignty. "We have expressed renewed conviction and belief that Lebanon has to be ensured that its independence and sovereignty are guaranteed," Chirac declared. His use of the term "ensured" was seen in the Lebanese media as implying that external pressure should be brought to bear on those who compromise this sovereignty. Bush added that "that
the people of Lebanon should be free to determine their own future, without foreign interference or domination."[9]
Just two days after the Bush-Chirac press conference, Assad publicly pledged not to interfere in the choice of Lebanon's next president. "We will support any president that comes through a consensus among the Lebanese," he told the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai Al-Aam. "The decision on extension is Lebanese. It does not belong to the president of Syria."[10]
Rather than calming the political storm in Lebanon, Assad's neutrality pledge intensified it. Taken at face value, the Syrian pledge would effectively bar Lahoud from continuing in office because Hariri's allies are powerful enough to defeat any proposed constitutional amendment. For this reason, the prime minister and his allies quickly sought to portray the pledge as having been intended at face value. Speaking to reporters during an official visit to Bulgaria on June 9, Hariri said that Assad's statement was a "call on potential presidential aspirants in Lebanon to come forth and declare their political programs."[11] Within a few days, two Maronite politicians - Western Beqaa MP Robert Ghanem and Batroun MP Boutros Harb - did exactly that, joining MP Nayla Mouawad as the only candidates in the race.
The Lahoud camp struck back on June 11, when the head of the Lebanese branch of Syria's ruling Baath party, Assem Qanso, declared that he supports extending or renewing Lahoud's term in office. Because of Qanso's close ties to both Syrian intelligence and the president, his statement was widely seen as an attempt to "dilute" Assad's neutrality pledge. The Hariri camp and the mainstream Christian opposition loudly protested. Al-Nahar newspaper, whose editor, Gibran Tueni, is a staunch critic of Lahoud, reported that Qanso "received a harsh scolding from Syria" after making his remarks, but no one was really sure whether it was the Lahoud camp, or Syria itself, that was trying to "dilute" Assad's pledge. Qanso later issued a clarification, saying, "I do support an extension or renewal for President Lahoud, but my position is not an echo to what Syria wants." However, he added that "anyone who opposes Lahoud after his term is extended or renewed would then be an opponent of Syria."[12] The most plausible interpretation is that Assad wanted to temper the impact in Lebanon of his neutrality pledge (which was clearly made as a result of external pressure) without actually retracting or qualifying it himself
The Opposition Unites
Until recently, the political struggle between pro-Hariri and pro-Lahoud factions of the governing elite was viewed with ambivalence by pro-democracy opposition groups in Lebanon. Although mainstream Christian opposition figures objected to an extension, they also feared the prospect that Hariri would win out and secure the election of a weak president (like Hrawi). While a number of leftist factions have been at the forefront of opposition to the Syrian occupation in recent years, they have tended to view the prime minister as being worse than Lahoud because of his anti-labor economic policies and greater role in institutionalizing corruption in the political class. The two main nationalist groups - the Free National Current, led by Michel Aoun, and the Lebanese Forces (LF), led by the jailed Samir Geagea - have viewed the prime minister and president as equally pernicious outgrowths of Syrian hegemony.
On June 17, however, opposition leaders from across Lebanon's intricate political and sectarian spectrum gathered together and issued the most broad-based and uncompromising anti-government challenge the Arab world has seen in many years. "The current authority is a threat to Lebanon's future . . . we the undersigned are seeking change, a peaceful change by democratic means," read what is now known as the Beirut Declaration.[13] Although not explicitly stated, the "democratic" change called for in the declaration means above all the replacement of Lahoud in November. The organizers of the Beirut Declaration had originally planned to unveil the document at a prominent Beirut hotel on June 20, but the owners of the venue backed out at the last minute, claiming to have come under pressure from the intelligence services (which Lahoud controls). Instead, the declaration was released at a hastily arranged news conference at the Press Federation.
Significantly, the declaration was signed by leaders of two key leftist groups - the Democratic Forum and the Movement for a Democratic Left (MDL). The Democratic Forum, a mainly Muslim party led by former Bint Jbeil MP Habib Sadeq, held its own conference in mid-June, entitled "the National Campaign for the Protection of the Constitution and Defending the Republic," and explicitly voiced its opposition to Lahoud. "The extension of the term of the last president and the current quest to amend the Constitution . . . [are] flagrant violations against our nation and the rights of its citizens," said Sadeq in his address to the forum.[14] The MDL, led by Communist leader Elias Atallah, was formed in February with a more explicitly anti-Syrian platform.[15]
Meanwhile, the Lahoud and Hariri camps continued their tit-for-tat departure from the Syrian-imposed moratorium on discussion of extension during the last week of June. Former Parliament Speaker Hussein al-Husseini issued perhaps the starkest rejection of extension yet by a major political figure, declaring that "these fantasies are an attempt to change the system, undermine the essence of the [1989 Taif Accord] settlement and lay the groundwork for civil war."[16] A day later, former Interior Minister Michel Murr, Lahoud's in-law and father of current Interior Minister Elias Murr, declared that the constitution will be amended in September to allow for a prolongation of the president's tenure. Hariri struck back the next day by declaring, with equal confidence, before the 10th Arab Investment and Capital Market Conference in Beirut that "at the end of the day, Lebanon has a democratic system, and there is a rotation in authority. There is no person with a post that doesn't eventually change."[17]
On July 2, Health Minister Suleiman Franjieh - one of Syria's closest allies in Lebanon - dropped a bombshell. "I, Suleiman Franjieh, oppose the extension," he declared, adding that press leaks by "extensionists" claiming that Syria supports Lahoud's continuation in office after November 23 "are merely smoke bombs." While acknowledging that an extension of Lahoud's term is possible, Franjieh called it "the option with the least chances."[18]
The defection of Franjieh, who is known to have presidential ambitions and gets along with Hariri, appears to have weakened the Lahoud camp. On July 4, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah expressed doubts about the viability of extension. "Some people keep telling us that it is necessary to amend the constitution in order to resolve our problems. But we all know that the issue is more complicated than that." Nasrallah said.[19]
Meanwhile, the Bush administration is sending clear signals to Lebanon's governing elite that it opposes extension. Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL) , a congressman of Lebanese descent who frequently communicates the administration's views during his trips to Lebanon, met with Hariri on July 10 and told reporters: "Our country, the US, thinks it is absolutely critically important . . . that there not be an amendment . . . the elections must be carried out."[20] Although US Ambassador Vincent Battle has not publicly expressed the administration's position on the matter, he offered a revealing hint as he rose to depart from a dinner held in his honor on July 12. Urged by the guests to stay longer, he replied with a smile: "la tamdid" (no extension).[21]
It appears that United States and France intend to push even more aggressively for a constitutional presidential succession in the months ahead (Syrian and American officials will reportedly meet in Rome in late July to discuss the issue).[21] This presents Assad with a vexing Catch-22: if he caves into the pressure, he will effectively relinquish some of Syria's authority over Lebanon and allow the West to make further inroads into the country's political process; if he doesn't, Syria will further isolate itself internationally and alienate most of Lebanon's governing elite.
[1] Technically speaking, the prime minister can prevent the cabinet from even considering an amendment because he alone has the constitutional authority to call cabinet meetings.
[2] The London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat published the following account of the incident: "Kanaan then raised his hand,

saying that the vote would take place by a raising of hands and would not be secret . . . Everyone looked as if they had just

been through a cold shower . . . The party broke up early. Presidential hopefuls departed with their wives, one complaining

of tiredness, another saying he had a headache." Al-Hayat (London), 2 October 1995. See also "Syria wants Lebanese

legislators to extend Hrawi's term for three years by a show of hands," Mideast Mirror, 2 October 1995.
[3] "MP: Politicians lack courage to speak up on mandate," The Daily Star (Beirut), 26 June 2004.
[4] Al-Jazeera Satellite TV (Qatar), 1 May 2004 (Federal News Service translation, 5 May 2004).
[5] The Daily Star (Beirut), 22 August 2003.
[6] "MP: Politicians lack courage to speak up on mandate," The Daily Star (Beirut), 26 June 2004.
[7] "Lebanon's presidential race starts, with the Syrian card face down," Agence France Presse, 15 June 2004.
[8] Statement by the European Union on the third meeting of the EU-Lebanon Cooperation Council, Brussels, 18 February 2004.

Italics added for emphasis.
[9] Remarks by President Bush and President Chirac in a Joint Press Availability, The White House, Office of the Press

Secretary, 5 June 2004.
[10] Al-Rai Al-Aam (Kuwait) 7 June 2004.
[11] Al-Nahar (Beirut), 10 June 2004.
[12] Al-Nahar (Beirut), 15 June 2004.
[13]; The French daily Le Monde published the entire text of the five-page declaration on June 21.
[14] "Lahoud's term in the spotlight," The Daily Star (Beirut), 16 June 2004.
[15] "The Syrian leadership's treatment of Lebanon . . . has allowed the destruction of all attempts at rebuilding the

state, has emptied its institutions of their effectiveness and transformed them into meaningless instruments at the service

of material and political ambitions," the MDL declared in its first official public statement in February 2004.
[16] (Beirut), 23 June 2004.
[17] "Hariri: Investors should ignore bickering," The Daily Star, 25 June 2004.
[18] Al-Nahar (Beirut), 3 July 2004.
[19] The Daily Star (Beirut), 6 July 2004.
[20] "US congressman opposes amending the constitution," The Daily Star (Beirut), 12 July 2004.
[21] Al-Nahar (Beirut), 14 July 2004.
[22] "Damascus gives opinion on presidential elections in September," The Daily Star (Beirut), 13 July 2004.
? 2004 Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. All rights reserved.


US 9/11 Probe Misses Saudi-Iranian-Syrian Rescue Operation for Saudi Terrorists
DEBKAfile Special Report
July 21, 2004, 4:05 PM (GMT+02:00)
A potential mine of terrorist information
20 July: Anxious to blunt the general impression that their findings are tainted by the US presidential election campaign,

the Sept. 11 commission whose report comes out Thursday, July 23, finds this horror was preventable - but assigns no blame,

whether to the Clinton or the Bush administrations.
Furthermore, the recommendation to appoint a cabinet-level chief for all 15 intelligence agencies is unlikely to be carried

out before the November election. Even when it is, calling up an idyll of cooperation between the CIA and the FBI would

stretch the imagination.
In 1996, after participating in the inquiry into the Aldrich Ames affair, the late Senator Patrick Moynihan declared the

entire CIA should be torn down and rebuilt. That was not feasible either.
But shortly afterwards, in April 1997, the CIA and the FBI both found out that Osama bin Laden was preparing to attack New

York?s World Trade Center ? and did nothing.
However it will be much harder to ignore Sandy Berger, Clinton?s national security adviser, being caught filching terror

papers from the National Archives, in advance of his testimony to the panel. n particular, questions are bound to be asked

about three missing documents, one an ?after-action report? criticizing the Clinton administration?s handling of al Qaeda

millennium threats and identifying American vulnerabilities at airports and sea ports in the year.
This paper was penned one year before the September 11 attack.
The 9/11 commission has gained considerable attention by ?discovering? that Iran had given free passage to five al Qaeda

terrorists who took part in that attack. The Iranians shrugged off the accusation with the comment that the long Iranian-

Afghan border is easily breached undetected by anyone who wants to sneak across.
Neither Tehran nor the Senate members are revealing the real story of Iran-al Qaeda relations, or its contemporary sequels.

Neither do they name the third and fourth parties to the relationship. That story began eight years ago with the June 25,

1996 al Qaeda truck bomb that blew the facade off the Khobar Towers in the eastern Saudi town of Dhahran, where US crews who

flew the warplanes protecting Saudi oil fields were quartered. The attack claimed 19 American lives and left 500 maimed, some

Already then, Iran not only allowed al Qaeda terrorists to pass through its territory but provided the intelligence and

logistical support for the attack. According to DEBKAfile?s counter-terror sources, the Saudis extracted this information

from Saudi al Qaeda assailants who fled to Damascus after the bombing. Syria later extradited them with the provisos that

Riyadh not turn them over to the United States or permit American investigators to interrogate them. Riyadh kept faith with

Damascus. However the Iranians, upon learning that the captured Saudi terrorists had revealed their role in the Khobar Towers

attack, rushed former Iranian president Hashem Rafsanjani over to Riyadh for damage control. The upshot was a secret Saudi-

Iranian deal whereby Riyadh kept mum to Washington on Iran?s complicity in the assault on US troops in return for Tehran

barring Iranian soil as a base for al Qaeda or any other terrorist attacks on the oil kingdom.
Saudi rulers were therefore bound to silence by under-the-table deals with both Syria and Iran. Muzzling the Saudi al Qaeda

members involved in the Khobar attack kept the heat away from both these terrorist sponsoring governments in the critical

years of the latter half of the 1990s and up to 2000. During this period, Saudi nationals were drawn deep into bin Laden?s

machine of terror. The free passage of Saudi terrorists from their home towns to Afghanistan and back via Iran was routine in

those years and an open secret to every intelligence and counter-terror agent in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.
In October 2001, after the Sept 11 attacks provoked the invasion of Afghanistan, Iran extended a helping hand once again when

Saudi intelligence asked for permission to use Iranian airspace for a secret emergency airlift to evacuate most of bin Laden

?s Saudi combatants from the besieged northern Afghan town of Konduz.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly broke the news of that airlift at the time, together with word of Iran?s offer of safe passage to Saudi

fighters fleeing other battle arenas like Kandahar and Tora Bora.
By helping Saudi fugitives reach safety, Tehran turned the tables on Riyadh. Whereas before this episode, Iran was at Saudi

mercy over its involvement in the Khobar bombing, now the Saudis depended on Iranian silence to conceal their nationals?

massive participation in the Afghan war and correlatively the 9/11 attacks.
From that time on, the ayatollahs considered themselves released from their earlier bargain with the princes. On May 12,

2003, al Qaeda terrorists based in Iran were allowed to strike three Riyadh compounds occupied by Westerners. This decision

was strengthened by intelligence reaching Tehran, as well as US and Middle East spy agencies, that senior princes of the

Sudairi branch of the royal house, including interior minister Prince Nayef who was charged with combating terror and King

Fahd?s son Abdelaziz, were in secret dialogue with al Qaeda leaders.
All the intelligence data revealed here was known to the Clinton and Bush administrations and brought before both presidents.
Even now, the Saudi-Iranian-Syrian al Qaeda deal works when it suits the parties.
Tehran enabled senior bin Laden association sheikh Muhammed Khaled al-Harby, known also as Suleiman al-Makki, to turn himself

into Saudi authorities under the month-long royal amnesty Crown Prince Abdullah offered al Qaeda terrorists on June 23, 2004

He is said to have contacted the Saudi embassy in Tehran from his hideout on the Iran-Afghan border and flown to Riyadh. A

widely-broadcast videotape found in Afghanistan showed bin Laden showing al Harby, who is married to the daughter of bin

Laden?s No. 2 Ayman Zuwahiri, how the New York Trade Center bombing was carried out soon after the event.
US authorities hope for Saudi cooperation in questioning the sheikh, who could shed much light on the US Sept. 11 inquiry.

They may be disappointed. DEBKAfile?s counter-terror sources report that just before the US invasion of Afghanistan, al-Habry

and family went through Iran to Syria. His family still lives there. The Saudis are clamming up on the exact circumstances of

his surrender. The common intelligence assumption is that for the last three years he lived at a secret location in Syria.

But the Assad regime found it more convenient for him to turn himself in from Iran in line with the still functioning

arrangements between the four parties.
This semi-hidden transaction and other signs seem to indicate that Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria, each for its own interests,

have decided to join forces to repatriate all Saudi al Qaeda veterans who were complicit in orchestrating the 9/11 attacks

and no longer active.
Al Kharby, who lost both feet on the battlefields of Afghanistan, is one. Another is Ibrahim al-Sadiq al-Kaidi who last

Saturday, July 17, returned to home to Saudi Arabia after presenting himself at the Saudi mission in Damascus and accepting

the royal amnesty. Riyadh is unlikely to allow US investigators to question him too under the terms of its accord with Syria.
The committee?s conclusion that America had more reason to go to war against Iran than Iraq is based on a fallacious,

possibly political, comparison. Al Qaeda?s presence in Saddam Hussein?s Iraq from 1996 was quite separate from the Tehran-

Riyadh-Damascus-al Qaeda arrangements. It has everything to do with the general terror offensive bin Laden has since launched

against the Saudi kingdom and his organization?s war against the US presence in Iraq. The thousands of Saudi terrorists who

wended their way to and from Afghanistan through Iran are now fighting American troops in Iraq.

What's Iran Got to Do With It?

Monday, July 26, 2004
By Liza Porteus
NEW YORK ? While the Sept. 11 commission found that contacts between Al Qaeda (search) and Iraq existed in the past, it also

pointed to another country with potential ties to the terror network: Iran.
The report released Thursday by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (search) says that

detained terrorists, possibly including Al Qaeda operational planners Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, confirmed

that several of the Sept. 11 hijackers traveled through Iran en route to or from Afghanistan.
At least eight of the hijackers took advantage of the Iranian practice of not stamping Saudi passports, the captured terror

suspects allegedly said. They denied any other reason for the hijackers' travel through Iran.
In his State of the Union address in January 2002, President Bush (search) included Iran ? along with Iraq and North Korea ?

in the so-called "axis of evil."
Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani said Friday that it was not certain that the hijackers passed through his

"Every day, thousands of people come and go. ... Such people usually carry false passports. Moreover, many can illegally

cross the border. It has been always like this," Rafsanjani said in a sermon. "Even if it's true that they have passed

through Iran, can you really incriminate Iran with this bit of information?"
Binalshibh is a suspected coordinator of the Sept 11. attacks on the United States and has acknowledged meeting with Mohamed

Atta (search), the leader of the hijackers and pilot of one of the commercial jetliners that demolished the World Trade

Center's twin towers. Binalshibh and Atta, an Egyptian, met in July 2001.
Shaikh Mohammed reportedly was the head of Usama bin Laden's terror operations and was the mastermind of the Sept. 11

attacks, the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya, the Bali nightclub bombings, the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter

Daniel Pearl and other Al Qaeda attacks.
The two captured terrorists denied any relationship between the hijackers and Lebanese Hezbollah, the Iranian-sponsored

Shiite militant organization that is on the U.S. State Department list of terrorist groups, according to the Sept. 11

commission's report.
'We Know of a Relationship'
There is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of Al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before Sept. 11;

some were future 9/11 hijackers, the report concluded.
There is also circumstantial evidence that senior Lebanese Hezbollah operatives were closely tracking the travel of some of

the hijackers into Iran in November 2000.
"We know of that kind of collaboration," commission co-chairman Thomas Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, said

of the Iran-Al Qaeda relationship Thursday. But he said there's "no evidence whatsoever" that either Iran or Lebanese

Hezbollah knew the specifics of the attacks or helped further plans for them.
"We know of a relationship; how deep that relationship is ... that's going to require more research," Kean said.
The panel's other co-chairman, Lee Hamilton, said that relationship "really does need more investigation."
"It is our view that Al Qaeda planned this operation and carried it out by themselves," added Hamilton, a former Democratic

representative from Indiana.
Former Justice Department prosecutor John Loftus told FOX News that it is no secret Iran funded and housed training schools,

like the Mashad school, for terror groups such as Al Qaeda, Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Al Qaeda

members got to use the schools for free, Loftus said.
"Iran is the last rogue state really funding Al Qaeda," he told FOX News. "They're doing a pretty good job of this. It's more

than just telling the border guards, 'When the Al Qaeda guys come through, don't put a stamp on their passport so they can't

trace them back to Iran.'"
"This was knowing, willful assistance," Loftus said. "This is a notch higher, something that the intelligence community

Loftus, who had access to some of the highest security clearances when he was a prosecutor, said that the June 1996 Khobar

Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia was planned in Iran by Al Qaeda and Lebanese Hezbollah operatives. The bombings killed 19 U.S.

soldiers and wounded 372 more.
"The Saudis were trying to cook together a deal with Iran saying, 'You keep the Al Qaeda out of Saudi Arabia and we won't

tell the Americans that you, Iran, were one of the evil partners behind the Khobar Towers attack,'" Loftus said. "[The]

Saudis have learned that you can't make a deal like that. It's a devil's bargain."
No Evidence of an 'Official Connection'
Interim CIA Director John McLaughlin said on FOX News Sunday that it was not surprising that eight of the Sept. 11 hijackers

passed through Iran.
"Iran has been on the list of state sponsors of terrorism for many years," McLaughlin said. "Iran is the place where [

Lebanese] Hezbollah, an organization that killed more Americans that Al Qaeda before Sept. 11, draws its inspiration and its

He said the United States has "ample evidence" of people of ill repute allowed to move throughout Iran.
"However, I would stop there and say we have no evidence that there is some sort of official sanction by the government of

Iran for this activity," McLaughlin said. "We have no evidence that there is some sort of official connection between Iran

and Sept. 11."
Bush Vows to Continue Checking Iran Connection
President Bush said Monday the United States was exploring whether Iran had any role in the Sept. 11 attacks.
"We're digging into the facts to see if there was one," Bush said in an Oval Office photo opportunity. "We will continue to

look and see if the Iranians were involved ... I have long expressed my concerns about Iran. After all, it's a totalitarian

society where people are not allowed to exercise their rights as human beings."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it had been known that there were senior Al Qaeda members in Iran "for some time" and

that Iran had been helping Lebanese Hezbollah in moving terrorists down through Syria into Lebanon, then down into Israel.
"So we know that Iran has been on the terrorist list," Rumsfeld said. "We know that Iran has been notably unhelpful along the

border of both Afghanistan and Iraq."
Some experts wonder whether Tehran will be the next U.S. target in the War on Terror. Loftus said one option the United

States could utilize to put pressure on Iran to stop its supposed dirty deeds ? such as allegedly trying to make nuclear

weapons ? would be to establish a naval blockade.
American and British officials may ask the United Nations for action against Iran, Loftus added. Meetings are planned for

September and November on the topic.
"My suspicion is, in September we'll really have evidence that Iran is lying through their teeth," Loftus said. "We'll put in

a naval blockade and without oil exports, in three weeks the economy of Iran will collapse and it will either be neutered or

there will be a regime change from within."
"We're not going to invade Iran but [are] probably going to blockade it with the full backing of the United Nations," he

continued. "That's what is in store for the fall."
FOX News foreign affairs analyst Alireza Jafarzedeh noted that besides the Sept. 11 report detailing the known Iran-Al Qaeda

ties, Iraqi officials have said Iran is the main source of foreign fighters behind the insurgency in Iraq.
"I think it all boils down to what policy the U.S. wants to pursue to contain the threat of Iran's nuclear weapons and the

bigger problems Iran is posing," Jafarzedeh said. "They [U.S.] should pursue a zero-tolerance policy."
FOX News' Bret Baier and Trish Turner contributed to this report.
Russia sticks with Iran
By Sergei Blagov
MOSCOW - Russia has indicated that an agreement on delivering nuclear fuel rods - which can be used to obtain plutonium -

could be finalized this year. Last week, the head of Russia's nuclear energy agency, Alexander Rumyantsev, told the Iranian

ambassador to Russia that the deal on the return of spent rods to Russia could be clinched during his upcoming trip to

Tehran, tentatively set for October.
This agreement was reported as close to being signed last September, but nothing happened. The deal would open the way for

Russia's nuclear supplies to Iran. Moreover, in October, Russia and Iran are expected to sign a protocol of intent on the

construction of Bushehr-2 reactor, according to Russian media reports.
Russia has said it would freeze construction on the US$1 billion Bushehr nuclear plant and would not begin delivering fuel

rods for the reactor until Iran signed an agreement that would oblige it to return all of the spent fuel to Russia for

reprocessing and storage. Sending the spent fuel out of the country would ensure that Iran could not reprocess it into

material that could be used in nuclear weapons.
According to Russia's Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, the first power unit of the Bushehr nuclear station is 90% ready: all

heavy equipment, including the reactor, has been brought and assembled. The Russian agency noted that what was left to do was

"assemble and tune up control equipment as well as control in the reactor zone".
Russia has long been under fire for its help in building the Bushehr nuclear plant. Russian President Vladimir Putin has

brushed off repeated US demands that it cancel the Bushehr 1,000-megawatt light-water nuclear-reactor project.
Last month, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammed ElBaradei, said Russia's construction of

Iran's first nuclear reactor was "no longer at the center of international concern". Bushehr was a bilateral project between

Russia and Iran to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, he said after talks with Putin in Moscow.
Yet Moscow's insistence on its nuclear deal with Tehran continues to cause lively debate internationally as the US and Israel

accuse Iran of seeking to produce nuclear weapons. This month, US Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed at a joint press

conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Washington that Iran was "pursuing nuclear-weapons development, or

worse, acquiring a nuclear weapon".
Iran's Foreign Ministry said Powell's remarks were "a source of disgrace" for the US administration. "The US is not following

an independent policy towards Iran's nuclear programs but instead is toeing the line of the Zionist regime," said a ministry

Iranian Defense Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani has warned that the Islamic Republic will abandon its commitments to the IAEA

if its nuclear installations are attacked. "If there is a military attack, that would mean that the IAEA has been collecting

this information to prepare for an attack," he said.
There has been widespread speculation that Israel might attack Iran's nuclear facilities, and it has reportedly conducted

military exercises for such a preemptive strike by long-range F-15I jets, flying over Turkey. An Israeli defense source in

Tel Aviv told the London Sunday Times that Israel would on no account permit the Iranian Bushehr reactor to go critical. The

Sunday Times also quoted a senior US official warning of a preemptive Israeli strike if Russia continued cooperating with the

Iranians. He said Washington was unlikely to block Israeli attacks against Bushehr and other Iranian targets, including a

facility at Natanz, where the Iranians have attempted to enrich uranium, and a plant at Arak.
Under the Iranian deal with Moscow, waste produced at the Bushehr plant containing plutonium that could be used in bomb-

making would be shipped back to Russia for storage, but the material must first be "cooled", providing Iran with what

Washington fears could be up to two years in which to extract the plutonium.
Israel estimates that Iran will be able to build a nuclear bomb by 2007, said an intelligence report delivered to Prime

Minister Ariel Sharon in private and recently leaked in part to the media.
A senior US official told the London Times that the United States would take action to overturn the regime in Iran if

President George W Bush is elected for a second term in November. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the

newspaper that Bush would provide assistance to Iran's population to help them revolt against the ruling theocracy.
Iran has remained a sore point in Russian-US relations, despite a new wave of cooperation after September 11, 2001. Although

Russia's insistence on its nuclear ties with Iran seems inflammatory, to say the least, Moscow still insists it is driven by

mainly commercial interests. Russia's nuclear executives have claimed that "competitors" were trying to undermine Russia's

nuclear energy exports.
Obviously, the $1 billion Bushehr reactor is a big deal for Russia financially. But in addition the issue fuels Middle

Eastern volatility, which keeps crude-oil prices high, something of true interest to Moscow.
Oil and natural gas account for about one-fifth of Russia's economy and bring more than half of its export revenue. Russia

overtook Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer in the first five months of this year. Because of booming exports

and high crude prices, Russia's currency reserves have reached an unprecedented $90 billion, a nearly ninefold increase in

little more than five years. Russia's private oil companies (except embattled Yukos) are also flush with cash.
However, Russia's growth in oil output and exports could falter next year as companies deplete fields and pipelines run at

full capacity. Therefore, sustaining high oil and other commodity prices by any means could be of interest to Moscow.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales

and syndication policies.)

N Korea chooses guns over butter
By Ehsan Ahrari
The United States is once again reminded that North Korea is playing hardball when it comes to continuing its nuclear weapons

program. As recently as July 25, Pyongyang seems to have rejected the "butter for guns" proposal made by the administration

of US President George W Bush. The operative phrase here is "seems to have rejected", largely because US officials remain

uncertain that the communist Korea is definitely making that statement and categorically saying "no".
(The Bush administration has urged North Korea to take Libya's approach - declare and dismantle its weapons program and

invite in weapons inspectors in return for diplomatic recognition and economic aid.)
The Bush administration entered office scornful of the Agreed Framework that the Clinton administration had negotiated with

North Korea. The then new administration was to offer no olive branch of continuing the negotiating process with Kim Jong-

il's regime where Clinton officials had left off. The US was to get tough with North Korea. When Secretary of State Collin

Powell publicly stated the strategy of recommencing the negotiating process on the basis of continuity with the previous

administration, Bush personally vetoed him. The two countries were left with no active contacts on nuclear issues, as other

related events took their course.
Then, during the period of shrill rhetoric following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Bush prominently listed

North Korea as part of an "axis of evil", along with Iran and Iraq, and stated unequivocally that the US would seek to

deprive them of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). One must also recall Bush's national security strategy that was issued in

September 2002, when the dual doctrines of proactive counter proliferation and regime change were formalized. All "axis of

evil" countries were following that rhetoric with rapt attention.
Then in March 2003, that rhetoric became operational in the toppling of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The US invasion of Iraq

was originally carried out on the pretext of depriving that country of the opportunity to develop WMD. If North Korea had any

doubts about the seriousness of America's resolve to invade a country of the "axis of evil", the March 2003 action against

Iraq removed it once and for all. Since regime survival is the primary motivation of all governments, Kim Jong-il views his

own nuclear weapons program as the ultimate guarantee against meeting the same fate as Saddam. The Iraqi nuclear weapons

program, as the world came to know definitively after the invasion, could not be resuscitated once it was uprooted under the

auspices of the United Nations in the early- to-mid-1990s.
One must also recall the US's earnestness regarding the proliferation security initiative (PSI). Established in May 2003,

this regime includes the creation of international agreements and partnerships that would allow the US and its allies to

search planes and ships carrying suspect cargo and seize illegal weapons or missile technologies. Initially, Australia,

France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom joined this arrangement,

which, according to the Bush administration statement of September 4, 2003, underscores "the need for proactive measures to

combat the threat from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction". Even though it is consistent with UN's 1992

statement, which declares that the proliferation all WMD constitutes a threat to international and security, the PSI remains

outside the purview of the world body. At the same time, it is also in harmony with the recent statements of the Group of

Eight industrialized nations and the European Union that call for the creation of coherent and concerted efforts to prevent

proliferation of WMD.
It should also be pointed out that the PSI also has its critics. Such countries as China, Canada, Brazil, Russia, South

Korea, India and Pakistan have expressed their concern in the past that the US seeks to use PSI as an instrument of

strengthening its supremacy in the production of cutting-edge nuclear, ballistic, biological and chemical technology and to

control global transportation routes.
Bush targets Korea
Bush, in a speech made at the Air Force Academy in June, named North Korea as one of the specific targets of the PSI.
"Because this global threat requires a global response, we are working to strengthen international institutions charged with

opposing proliferation," Bush said. "We are working with regional powers and international partners to confront the threats

of North Korea and Iran. We have joined with 14 other nations in the Proliferation Security Initiative to interdict - on sea,

on land, or in the air - shipments of weapons of mass destruction, components to build those weapons, and the means to

deliver them. Our country must never allow mass murderers to gain hold of weapons of mass destruction. We will lead the world

and keep unrelenting pressure on the enemy."
Under these circumstances, North Korea finds little reasons to abandon its nuclear program. The six-nation dialogue under the

proactive participation of the People's Republic of China, North Korea's chief interlocutor, has not emerged as a productive

forum providing confidence for Pyongyang to offer meaningful concessions. One frequently mentioned explanation is that North

Korea is awaiting the outcome of the American presidential elections. That is not an untenable course of action under the

general expectations that, if elected, John Kerry would be decidedly more interested in negotiating the denuclearization of

North Korea than Bush.
Moving away from personalities and personal preferences of Bush or Kerry, the stakes are indeed high for North Korea. As

ruthless a regime as Kim Jong-il presides over, neither he nor his neighbors are interested in the highly impetuous notion of

regime change through military invasion. So, North Korea will wait and see whether Kerry will continue his present rhetoric

of negotiating with friends and foes to resolve regional and global conflicts, or whether he will change that rhetoric once

in office. After all, Bush also paid lip service to the notion of humility in international relations while running for office.
Even with Kerry's assurances, North Korea is not likely to completely abandon its nuclear weapons option. There is a frequent mentioning of North Korea following the example of Libya and doing away with its nuclear weapons option. North Korea and Libya belong to two entirely different categories of nation states. The nuclear weapons program in North Korea is way ahead of Libya's own nuclear program when Muammar Gaddafi decided to unravel it. Besides, Libya has no powerful friend or interlocutor arguing its case with great powers or with the lone superpower. Libya is a desert state and an open target for a potential American pre-emptive attack. That was one of the chief motivating factors that drove Gaddafi to do away with his nuclear program. North Korea, on the contrary, is capable of causing much devastation to South Korea or even Japan. North Korea also has in its vicinity a sizeable number of American troops, more than 30,000, whose security is also a driving force for a pre-emption-oriented Bush administration.
On top of it all, the United States has learned a bitter lesson in Iraq: It may be easy to conquer a nation militarily; however, ruling it in peace is an undoable task, even for the lone superpower. But North Korea is not interested in such historical lessons. It must survive and that survival, in the final analysis, will only be guaranteed by acquiring nuclear weapons.
Ehsan Ahrari is an independent strategic analyst in Alexandria, Virginia.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

GAO: Pentagon Bloat Hurting Readiness
Monday, July 26, 2004
By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos
WASHINGTON ? Most government bureaucracies are hobbled by bloat, but in the case of the Department of Defense, the fat and mismanagement have begun to hurt military readiness in the field, according to a government study.
On July 7, the Government Accountability Office (search), formerly the General Accounting Office, released a report detailing how financial and business mismanagement is crippling the Pentagon. Key problems facing the military include National Guard (search) soldiers who don?t get paid, necessary equipment and supplies that don?t reach the soldiers in the field, and billions of dollars that get sucked into the black hole of bureaucracy each year.
"These instances are troubling because they hinder operational effectiveness," said Rep. Todd R. Platts, R-Pa., chairman of the Government Efficiency and Financial Management Subcommittee of the House Government Reform Committee (search).
He said the report should be interpreted, in part, as an alarm bell for soldiers' safety in the war theater. "Americans should be rightly outraged that this kind of system has been allowed to exist."
Platts held a hearing on the day the report was released to discuss the problems issued by the study, entitled, "Department of Defense: Long-standing Problems Continue to Impede Financial and Business Management Transformation."
For example, the report showed that of the 481 mobilized Army National Guard soldiers in six GAO case studies, 450 had at least one pay problem associated with their mobilization. According to Gregory D. Kutz, director of Financial Management and Assurance for the GAO, the problems have hurt retention.
"DOD?s inability to provide timely and accurate payments to these soldiers, many of whom risked their lives in recent Iraq or Afghanistan missions, distracted from their missions, imposed financial hardships on the soldiers and their families and has had a negative impact on retention," he said in the study and in testimony before the subcommittee.
The report also found that DOD incurred "substantial logistical support problems" in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In simple terms, those problems amounted to shortages in field supplies, backlogs of materials delivered to the wrong place in the war theater, cannibalization of vehicles due to a lack of new parts, unnecessary duplicate supply orders and a missing $1.2 billion in supplies that were shipped but apparently never received.
To highlight these problems, the GAO said that a 2003 analysis of more than 50,000 maintenance work orders opened during the deployment of six Navy battle groups showed that 58 percent of them could not be completed because they didn?t have the repair parts available on the ships.
"Such problems not only have a detrimental impact on mission readiness," said Kutz, "they also may increase operational costs."
A spokesperson at the DOD told that the safety of the soldiers is always the top priority.
"The needs and requirements of the young men and women in the field are our number one priority. While we have no specific examples where mismanagement caused pay errors or a delay in the delivery of critical operational supplies, we recognize that problems caused by systems, training or process failure can adversely affect morale and readiness," the spokesperson said in a statement.
In one notable case, however, the GAO found that the DOD was selling chemical-biological weapons protection suits over the Internet for $3 while an audit indicated the department paid upwards of $200 each for them. Furthermore, the study found that the DOD mistakenly sold thousands of defective chem-bio suits to law enforcement agencies across the country.
Also, millions of dollars have been lost or squandered on airline tickets in the last several years, according to the report, which found that nearly 58,000 tickets totaling $21 million were paid for by the Pentagon in 2001 and 2002, though they were never used.
About 72 percent of the 68,000 premium class tickets that were paid for by the Pentagon in 2001 and 2002 were not properly authorized, and 73 percent not properly justified, said the GAO. During those years, the department spent $124 million on business class tickets. The report also found out that at least $8 million was lost due to the Pentagon paying twice for airline tickets, reimbursing personnel who never paid for the airfare in the first place.
Taken together, said Kutz, "these problems have left the department vulnerable to billions of dollars of fraud, waste and abuse annually, at a time of increasing fiscal restraint."
Chuck Pena, director of defense policy studies, said the problem is not necessarily the lack of money, but the bloat of money, and particularly money getting lost and going to the wrong places. He advocates strategic cuts in the budget, plain and simple.
"Until all the parties including the military, the civilian leadership and the Congress agree to do the right thing, you will continue to have this out-of-control budget elephant," he said, adding that it could affect the DOD's most important missions ? like the War on Terror (search).
"At the very micro-level, there are some things that need to be fixed if people are in the field and they are not getting what they need when it's bought and paid for," he said.
Jack Spencer, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation (search), said the problems associated with the massive Pentagon bureaucracy ? which accounts for over $2.5 trillion in assets and liabilities, approximately 3.3 million military personnel and annual disbursements of over $416 billion ? have petrified over the decades.
"Over the years, the Pentagon, like any other government agency, has become bloated and imbued by red tape," he said, noting

that bureaucracies "much prefer the status quo," so it is difficult to induce change, creating stagnation in thinking and

"That?s why Secretary of Defense [Donald] Rumsfeld is such a controversial figure in the Pentagon ? he?s like a big bull in a

china shop, he doesn?t care who he upsets," he said.
Rumsfeld has pushed for reforms at the DOD since before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Some of his proposals include more

rapid acquisition of supplies in theater and more flexibility in hiring and firing personnel. He has been successful in some

areas but has hit brick walls in others.
"I have to commend Secretary Rumsfeld and the administration ? from day one they made getting the DOD in financial order a

top priority," Platts told
But the GAO report gently suggests that while the administration has taken bold steps to show that it is interested in

reform, results are still difficult to grasp, and in some cases previous recommendations made by the GAO were seemingly

Though the DOD has made some "encouraging progress in addressing specific challenges, after about three years of effort and

over $203 billion in reported obligations, we have not seen significant change in the content of DOD?s architecture or in its

approach to investing billions of dollars annually in existing and new systems," Kutz said.
Larry J. Lanzillotta, acting comptroller for the DOD, testified to the subcommittee that the horizon is nonetheless brighter,

the result of three years of active reforms that he believes will result in greater efficiency department-wide.
"We are making progress to correct weaknesses," he said. "Strong and consistent congressional support of this transformation

is vital to sustaining our progress."
Pentagon officials are imploring both the Senate and House conferees to replace money that was cut in their respective

budgets for DOD reforms. The conference committee approved the defense authorization bill earlier this week.

Will Landmark Suit Force Immigration Reform?
Monday, July 26, 2004
By Matt Hayes
In a series of sweeps in southern California over the course of a few weeks in June, a dozen agents of the Border Patrol

arrested more than 420 illegal aliens and placed them in deportation proceedings.
Americans enthusiastically supported the sweeps, as any public opinion poll would have predicted, but Rep. Joe Baca (search),

D-Calif., and Mexican President Vicente Fox (search) were outraged.
At a Chicago rally for Mexicans living in the United States ? now about 10 percent of his nation?s entire population ? Fox

promised that his government would not permit violations of the human and labor rights of Mexicans living in the United

States. "We will stand beside every Mexican woman and man in this country,? Fox told the crowd. ?We will defend them against

the raids being carried out in the state of California."
Baca, a member of the Hispanic caucus, said in a press release, "I am doing everything I can to make sure that sweeps like

the ones last week do not happen again. I will not stop until this situation has been resolved."
During a June 25 meeting with Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson (search), Baca and other members

of the Hispanic caucus accused the Border Patrol agents of racial profiling.
In response to the charges, Hutchinson?s office appeared to collapse. Describing the Border Patrol officers involved in the sweeps as a renegade unit that had taken it upon itself to enforce the law without having first obtained the permission of officials in Washington, the DHS, in an all-too-familiar pattern, ordered the sweeps halted.
The cease and desist order, in turn, outraged southern Californians, most notably the hosts of the influential Los Angeles talk radio program, the John and Ken Show (search) on KFI.
After days of being harshly criticized by the program for his decision to end the sweeps, Hutchinson agreed to appear on the show.
He probably regrets that decision now.
Host John blasted Hutchinson, repeatedly demanding that the undersecretary say publicly whether the DHS was going to continue the raids or not. When Hutchinson refused to say, the show?s hosts went ballistic.
Hutchinson was obviously angered by the treatment he received on the John and Ken Show, but Hutchinson and the rest of the administration should remember one thing: The radio show was precisely articulating a feeling of frustration and anger that is shared with the majority of the American people.
The feeling of anger at having our immigration laws ignored by politicians in Washington and frustration at the feeling of having no place to turn is especially acute in California ? home to roughly half of the nation?s population of foreign nationals residing in the United States in defiance of the laws of the American people.
The local frustration at the status quo makes Los Angeles an especially interesting location for a groundbreaking lawsuit two Los Angeles County taxpayers filed recently in the California Superior Court, Los Angeles.
The suit, Anderson v. Los Angeles County Department of Health (LADHS), is asking the court to order the county?s public health system to seek reimbursement for services provided at taxpayer expense to the sponsors of legal immigrants who access the health care system.
In keeping with a centuries-old American tradition to prevent social welfare systems from serving as magnets to immigrants, federal law requires many legal immigrants to have a U.S. sponsor in order to receive admittance to the United States. The sponsor must sign an ?affidavit of support,? which is a legally binding contract obligating the sponsor to reimburse public entities for any means-tested public benefit the immigrant may access.
The Superior Court suit cites a federal law that requires public service providers to seek reimbursement from a sponsor when
an immigrant he or she has sponsored uses certain taxpayer-supported services.
LACDHS provides services to thousands of immigrants at public expense every year, but has never once sought reimbursement from the immigrants? sponsors as required by federal law. Instead, the LACDHS shift the burden onto county taxpayers.
The county?s refusal to obey federal immigration law is a perfect example of why Americans are as angry as the hosts of the John and Ken Show.
Remarkably, the county intends to fight the taxpayers in the lawsuit.
As the plaintiffs? attorney, James Bame of Los Angeles put it, ?It?s really amazing that the county, while shutting down clinics meant to help Americans in need, would rather spend taxpayer money to defend an illegal practice that is costing taxpayers millions of dollars per year rather than do what my clients are requesting: simply send a bill to the people who have already agreed to pay it.?
Justice William Rehnquist once said, ?Somewhere out there, beyond the walls of the courthouse, run currents and tides of public opinion, which lap at the courtroom door.?
Given public opinion in southern California, we?re fast approaching the point at which the tide is not going to be lapping at the courtroom door; we?re looking at a tsunami of public outrage washing away the whole rotten mess.
Matt Hayes began practicing immigration law shortly after graduating from Pace University School of Law in 1994, representing new immigrants in civil and criminal matters. He is the author of The New Immigration Law and Practice, to be published in October.

Officials: Jewish extremists may crash plane on Temple Mount

By Jonathan Lis, Yuval Yoaz and Nadav Shragai
Israeli security officials have recently become increasingly concerned that right-wing extremists might be plotting an attack on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to derail Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The Shin Bet security service and the police are preparing for a number of possible terror attack scenarios at the sacred Old City site, Israeli security sources said on Saturday night.
Speaking on the Channel Two "Meet the Press" program yesterday, Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi confirmed that the security establishment had identified rising intent among right-wing extremists to carry out a Temple Mount attack.
"There is no information about specific individuals, because the Shin Bet and police would not let them continue [with their plot]," said Hanegbi. "But there are troubling indications of purposeful thinking, and not detached philosophy... There is a danger that [extremists] would make use of the most explosive site, in the hope that a chain reaction would bring about the destruction of the peace process."
Security sources on Saturday night said possible actions included an attempt to crash a drone packed with explosives on the Temple Mount, or a manned suicide attack with a light aircraft during mass Muslim worship on the Mount. Other possibilities include an attempt by right-wing extremists to assassinate a prominent Temple Mount Muslim leader, perhaps from the Waqf Islamic trust.
Israeli security sources speculate that the assassination scenario might be chosen, even though it would not cause mass injury or damage to the Al-Aqsa mosque or the Golden Dome shrine. The aim of the Temple Mount attack conspiracy, they said, would be to carry out a visible provocation that sparked violent confrontation in the territories.
Due to stringent security routines at the Temple Mount, Israeli security officials said Saturday, right-wing extremists would find it virtually impossible to use conventional routes to penetrate the site with explosives. Hence, the possibility of a large bomb being planted at one of the Muslim holy sites is "a lower-level possibility."
Saturday's disclosures about possible Temple Mount terror plans were preceded in recent months by a number of troubling indications. Nine months ago a suspect in a Jewish underground terror group affair, Shahar Dvir-Zeliger, told authorities a prominent West Bank settler activist had planned a Temple Mount attack. Zeliger cited two other names of West Bank settlers, suggesting the two were involved in the Temple Mount attack conspiracy.
Last Thursday, the Temple Mount Faithful group petitioned the High Court, asking to be given clearance to go up to the Holy

Site for prayers later this week for Tisha B'Av.


Hanegbi: Radicals may blow up Temple Mount mosques
Internal Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski
Internal Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi warned Saturday that Jewish extremists may try to carry out an attack against Arabs on Jerusalem's Temple Mount in order to torpedo Israel's planned unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
"We sense that a threat to the Temple Mount from extremist and fanatic Jewish elements, hoping to upset the situation and be a catalyst for change in the political process," Hanegbi told Channel 2's Meet the Press. "The threat has increased in the last few months, and especially in the last few weeks, more than any time in the past."
Hangebi added that while there was no intelligence information pointing to specific suspects who are planning an attack, there were "worrying indications" that such plans were "not just theoretical."
"There is a danger that they would want to make use of the most explosive target, in hope that the ensuing chain reaction would bring about the destruction of the political process," he said.
In light of the warnings, police are considering banning certain extremist Jews from entering the Temple Mount, something which they have done periodically in the past, or placing certain individuals under "administrative detention," a draconian move usually reserved for suspected Palestinian terrorists.
More than 50,000 Jewish and Christian visitors have peacefully toured the ancient compound, which is Judaism's holiest site, since its reopening to non-Muslim visitors a year ago.
Two decades ago, 29 Israelis were arrested by police on suspicion of belonging to a Jewish underground which planned a series of attacks against Arabs, with 27 of them later indicted on various terror-related charges.
During their trial, it emerged that one of their plans was to blow up al-Aksa mosque on the Temple Mount.
The men involved in the conspiracy were sentenced to prison terms ranging from four months to 10 years.
Most were freed early after being pardoned by then-president Chaim Herzog.
Last week, the head of the Shin Bet Avi Dichter told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the Shin Bet has a list of between 150 and 200 extremist Jews who are hoping for the death of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon because of his plan for a full unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four small Samarian settlements by the end of next year.

Nordkorea lehnt US-Angebot in Atomstreit ab
Samstag 24 Juli, 2004 13:45 CET
Seoul (Reuters) - Nordkorea hat am Samstag US-Vorschlage zuruckgewiesen, nach dem Vorbild Libyens im Gegenzug zu Hilfsleistungen und diplomatischer Anerkennung auf ein eigenes Atomprogramm zu verzichten.
"Der grundsatzliche Vorschlag der Vereinigten Staaten ist es kaum wert, weiter in Betracht gezogen zu werden", zitierte die staatliche nordkoreanische Nachrichtenagentur KCNA den Sprecher des Au?enministeriums. Der Vorschlag sei "nicht mehr als Augenwischerei", hie? es. Damit au?erte sich Nordkorea erstmals detailliert zu Vorschlagen im Rahmen der Sechser-Gesprache, an denen neben den USA und Nordkorea auch Sudkorea, Japan, China und Russland teilnehmen.
Libyen hatte sein Atomwaffenprogramm im Dezember aufgegeben. Die USA hatten Nordkorea dazu aufgefordert, diesem Beispiel zu folgen und fur den Fall einer Verpflichtung zur Atomwaffenabschaffung eine Ausweitung der Energiehilfen in Aussicht gestellt. Nordkorea beurteilte den Vorschlag allerdings als "sogar schlechter" als vorherige, da dieser eine einseitige Abrustung vorsehe.
John Bolton, Unterstaatssekretar im US-Au?enministerium, halt sich derzeit in Japan auf und wollte am Samstag bei einem Treffen mit japanischen Vertretern die Sechser-Gesprache uber das Atomprogramm Nordkoreas vorantreiben. Nordkorea verlangt fur den Verzicht auf sein Atomprogramm weitgehende politische Zugestandnisse und Wirtschaftshilfen.
Einem am Samstag erschienenen Bericht der japanischen Tageszeitung "Asahi Shimbun" zufolge kooperiert Nordkorea bei der Entwicklung von Raketen mit dem Iran, dem die USA ebenfalls vorwerfen, Atomwaffen zu entwickeln. Beide Lander gehoren zu der von US-Prasident George W. Bush definierten "Achse des Bosen". Die Zeitung berief sich auf einen namentlich nicht genannten US-Vertreter.


The Nature of the Enemy
Win first. Hearts and minds will come.
All of a sudden everybody's asking, "Who are we fighting anyway?" It's an interesting question, but it's not nearly as important as many of the debaters believe. The 9/11 Commission tells us we're fighting Islamists, or Islamist terrorists, and David Brooks has cooed over this, because he likes the notion that we're fighting an ideology. The White House has devoted lots of man-hours to this matter, trying to figure out how we win "the battle of ideas," and the Internet is full of people who argue, variously, that we're fighting "radical Islam," "Saddam's die-hards," "foreign fighters," or even "Islam itself." All of these "Islamic" definitions guide us back to Samuel Huntington's thesis that there is a war ? or at least a clash ? of civilizations underway. Most share the conviction that we're fighting something that is unusually dangerous because not a traditional enemy, that is to say, a state. It's much more than that, or so they believe.
I wonder. An awful lot of our enemies' ideology comes from us, as several scholars ? Bernard Lewis and Amir Taheri, for starters ? have stressed. The virulent anti-Semitism at the core of the (Sunni and Shiite) jihadists is right out of the Fuhrer's old playbook, which helps understand why jihad and the revival of anti-Semitism in Europe are running along in tandem. Sure, there's ample xenophobia in Islam, and Bat Yeor's fine work on dhimmitude abundantly documents the Muslim drive to dominate the infidel. But the kind of anti-Semitism ? hardly distinguishable from anti-Americanism nowadays ? that we find in Middle Eastern gutters has a Western trademark. It started in France in the 19th century, got a pseudoscientific gloss from the Austrians and Germans a generation later, and spread like topsy.
Notice, please, that many scholars at the time insisted that Nazism was first and foremost an ideology, not a state. Indeed, Hitler was at pains to proclaim that he was fighting for an Aryan reich, not a German state. And if you read some of the literature on Nazism or for that matter the broader work on totalitarianism produced by the "greatest generation," you'll find a profound preoccupation with "winning the war of ideas" against fascism. Indeed, a good deal of money and energy was expended by our armed forces, during and after the war, to de-Nazify and de-fascify the Old World.
But the important thing is that when we smashed Hitler, Nazi ideology died along with him, and fell into the same bunker.
The same debate over "whom or what are we fighting" raged during the Cold War, when we endlessly pondered whether we were fighting Communist ideology or Russian imperialism. Some ? mostly intellectuals, many of them in the CIA ? saw the Cold War primarily in ideological terms, and thought we would win if and only if we wooed the world's masses from the Communist dream. Others warned that this was an illusion, and that we'd better tend to "containment" else the Red Army would bring us and our allies to our knees.
In the end, when the Soviet Empire fell, the appeal of Communism was mortally wounded, at least for a generation.
You see where I'm going, surely. The debate is a trap, because it diverts our attention and our energies from the main thing, which is winning the war. It's an intellectual amusement, and it gets in our way. As that great Machiavellian Vince Lombardi reminds us, winning is the only thing.
That's why the public figure who has best understood the nature of the war, and has best defined our enemy, is George W. Bush. Of all people! He had it right from the start: We have been attacked by many terrorist groups and many countries that support the terrorists. It makes no sense to distinguish between them, and so we will not. We're going after them all.
Yes, I know he seems to lose his bearings from time to time, especially when the deep thinkers and the sheikhs and the Europeans and Kofi Annan and John Paul II insist we can't win the hearts and minds of the Middle East unless we first solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. But he has repeatedly pulled himself out of that trap very nicely, and he invariably does so in terms that show he has a uniquely deep understanding of our enemies.
He says the way to win the war is to liberate the Middle East from the tyrants who now govern it and sponsor terrorism.
And that's exactly right. There are plenty of terrorists out there who aren't Islamists. (There are even some suicide terrorists who have been forced into it; Coalition commanders are reporting the discovery of hands chained to steering wheels in suicide vehicles.) But all the terror masters are tyrants. Saddam didn't have any religious standing, nor do the Assads, but they are in the front rank of the terror masters. Ergo: Defeat the tyrants, win the war.
And then historians can study the failed ideology.
Machiavelli, Chapter Two: If you are victorious, people will always judge the means you used to have been appropriate.
Corollary from Lyndon Baines Johnson: When you have them by the balls, the hearts and minds generally follow.
Faster, please.


Deux semaines apres l'assassinat du journaliste Paul Klebnikov, le mystere reste entier et la peur gagne a Moscou
LE MONDE | 26.07.04 | 14h25
Moscou de notre envoyee speciale
Deux semaines apres l'assassinat a Moscou de Paul Klebnikov, redacteur en chef de l'edition russe du magazine americain Forbes, aucune information reelle n'est apparue sur le possible commanditaire du crime - le premier a viser, en Russie, un journaliste etranger.
Mais les hypotheses ont prolifere, revelatrices de l'etat d'esprit regnant dans la poignee de medias qui echappent encore a la "verticale du pouvoir" et qui osent s'exprimer.
Dans son numero du 25 juillet, le Moscow Times, qui continue vaillamment a paraitre pour les anglophones de la capitale, a passe ces hypotheses en revue et glisse au passage une piste nouvelle, brulante. Elle vise un homme dont on ne parle encore ici qu'a mi-voix, dans des cercles restreints : Guennadi Timchenko, vieil ami de Vladimir Poutine, gerant presume de ses comptes prives et bien place pour heriter des flux petroliers de l'agonisante societe Ioukos. Comme beaucoup d'autres, cette hypothese repose sur le seul fait que le journal Forbes avait ose parler de cet homme. L'article paru en avril, dans son premier numero, etait passe quasi inapercu, contrairement a celui qui, en mai, a dresse la liste des "cent hommes les plus riches de Russie".
C'est d'abord vers cette liste que se sont tournes les regards apres l'assassinat de Klebnikov. Les hommes ainsi exposes a la vindicte presumee du Kremlin contre les oligarques pouvaient etre soupconnes d'avoir voulu se venger. Pas les plus celebres, pas ceux qui ont leurs propres arrangements avec un pouvoir au fait de leurs secrets ; mais ceux du bas de la liste, moins connus jusque-la.
Selon une autre hypothese, le commanditaire de l'assassinat de Klebnikov serait a chercher parmi ceux qui lui ont vendu les informations pour etablir cette fameuse liste. Le but du crime, dans ce cas, aurait ete de credibiliser cette liste a l'etranger. A Moscou, elle est consideree comme fantaisiste et incomplete car basee sur les actifs declares des societes liees a ces noms. Les fortunes russes, fait-on valoir, dependent moins de la propriete que de la captation de flux financiers, et la propriete declaree est elle-meme fort eloignee de la propriete reelle.
Paul Klebnikov, issu d'une famille d'emigres russes aux Etats-Unis, voulait croire que la Russie tournait la page, devenait "normale", qu'on pouvait desormais y publier des histoires de "grandes fortunes", comme aux Etats-Unis, y inculquer par ces enquetes les rudiments d'un capitalisme vertueux.
Qui avait donc interet a tuer ce "dernier optimiste", qui personnifiait la confiance de l'Occident en la Russie ? Ceux dont le but est de discrediter et de destabiliser Poutine, assurent partisans et porte-parole du president. Ceux qui veulent que le silence regne dans les rangs, retorquent ses adversaires.
L'"ennemi-type" du Kremlin reste l'oligarque Boris Berezovski, refugie politique a Londres. Il se trouve avoir ete aussi un ennemi de Klebnikov, qui l'avait qualifie de "parrain de la mafia", dans un article de Forbes puis dans un livre. Berezovski a obtenu de la justice a Londres d'etre lave du soupcon d'avoir fait tuer en 1995 le celebre journaliste Listiev. Mais plusieurs autres assassinats ont eu lieu recemment dans son entourage, qui entretiennent aupres de certains la reputation de "tueur" de Berezovski.
Dans le cas de Klebnikov, c'est surtout l'editeur russe Valery Streletski qui a evoque la "piste Berezovski". Streletski est un proche d'Alexandre Korjakov, ex-chef de la securite de Boris Eltsine et rival celebre de son "eminence grise" Berezovski. Mais la famille de Klebnikov a dementi les propos de l'editeur sur le projet qu'aurait eu Paul d'ecrire un livre sur Listiev - c'est-a-dire, encore, contre Berezovski.
Il a ete aussi question d'un projet de livre sur les assassinats de journalistes russes, notamment sur les six tues en huit ans a Togliatti, siege des usines Avtovaz ou operait Berezovski. Mais un seul projet de Paul Klebnikov a ete mentionne par son epouse Mouza, citee par le Sunday Times : il preparait du materiel sur les menaces que fait peser le boom immobilier sur l'heritage architectural de Moscou.
Maxim Kachoulinski, remplacant de Paul Klebnikov a Forbes, a cherche, maladroitement, a minimiser ces propos en assurant que son predecesseur voulait ecrire "sur l'architecture, d'un point de vue scientifique, sans parler des destructions de monuments", selon Moscow Times. La capitale, tenue d'une main de fer par son maire Iouri Loujkov et son epouse Elena Batourina - citee dans la liste des "cent" - a ete recemment la proie d'incendies qui ont detruit des sites classes, aussitot saisis par les promoteurs. Parmi eux, celui du Manege pres de la place Rouge, le jour meme de l'election presidentielle de mars.
Il y a eu aussi l'inevitable "piste tchetchene". Klebnikov avait publie il y a plus d'un an un livre d'entretiens avec un riche bandit tchetchene lie aux services russes, mais qu'il presentait comme un "chef de guerre" des rebelles et comme un prototype de leur "barbarie". Ni celui-ci, ni les rebelles n'avaient cependant reagi a l'epoque a cet ouvrage, noye dans les flots de discours antitchetchenes en Russie.
La famille du journaliste, soutenue par le departement d'Etat americain, veut laisser le temps a Vladimir Poutine de trouver les coupables, meme si la tradition en Russie est que les commanditaires d'assassinats restent inconnus.
Il reste que, si la mort de Klebnikov (dans l'ascenseur longuement bloque de l'hopital ou il fut conduit) constitue un nouvel embarras pour le pouvoir en Russie, elle est aussi un coup porte a ses opposants democrates, car la peur gagne y compris dans les medias etrangers sur place.
Sophie Shihab

Posted by maximpost at 1:45 AM EDT
Saturday, 24 July 2004

Osama being treated by Pak Army

WASHINGTON: Pakistan's intelligence officials knew in advance about the 9/11 attacks, a well-known American analyst has said, based on a ''stunning document'' that he claims was given by a Pakistani source to the 9/11 Commission on the eve of the publication of its report.
The document, from a high-level, but anonymous Pakistani source, also claims that Osama bin Laden has been receiving periodic dialysis in a military hospital in Peshawar, says Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor-at-large of the news agency UPI.
''The imprints of every major act of international Islamist terrorism invariably passes through Pakistan, right from 9/11 - where virtually all the participants had trained, resided or met in, coordinated with, or received funding from or through Pakistan,'' Borchgrave cites the confidential document as saying.
But one does not have to go to Borchgrave's unnamed sources to find Pakistan's involvement in terrorist activity leading to 9/11. The 9/11 commission report itself nails Pakistan in chapter after chapter, revealing that the Pakistani intelligence was in cahoots with the Taliban and al Qaeda, far more than Iran and Iraq ever were.
Among the inquiry commission's observations, quoted verbatim here
* ''Pak[istan's] intel[ligence service] is in bed with bin Laden and would warn him that the United States was getting ready for a bombing campaign'' - quoting Richard Clarke
* ''Islamabad was behaving like a rogue state in two areas - backing Taliban/bin Laden terror and provoking war with India'' - quoting NSC Bruce Riedel
* Pakistani intelligence officers reportedly introduced bin Laden to Taliban leaders in Kandahar -Commission's own observation.
* Pakistan's military intelligence service, known as the ISID (Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate), was the Taliban's primary patron - Commission's observation
* Pakistan helped nurture the Taliban. The Pakistani army and intelligence services, especially below the top ranks, have long been ambivalent about confronting Islamist extremists. Many in the government have sympathized with or provided support to the extremists - Commission's observation.
Elsewhere, even as the Bush administration made a big to-do about ten hijackers passing through Iran and tried to implicate Teheran on that grounds, the 9/11 report shows that several hijackers who rammed the planes into American targets used Karachi as a base and trained there for weeks on end.
In fact, the report paints Karachi as the gateway to terrorism, drawing an elaborate picture of the 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed using the port city to plan the attack, gather the hijackers there, and put them through their paces.
''Much of his (KSM's) activity in mid-1999 had revolved around the collection of training and informational materials for the participants in the planes operation,''the 9/11 report says. ''For instance, he collected Western aviation magazines; telephone directories for American cities such as San Diego and Long Beach, California (from Karachi flea markets); brochures for schools; and airline timetables, and he conducted Internet searches on US flight schools.''
''He also purchased flight simulator software and a few movies depicting hijackings. To house his students, KSM rented a safehouse in Karachi with money provided by bin Laden,'' the report adds.
But all this is not good enough for the American media, which has almost completely ignored Pakistan's role in 9/11 while going on a feeding frenzy over a few speculative morsels tossed out by the Bush administration about the involvement of Iran and Iraq.
Not a single US TV channel or newspaper collated, let alone reported or highlighted, the multiple indictment of Pakistan contained in the report. Even a cursory key word search would have shown more than 200 references to Pakistan, many of them damning. There are less than 100 references to Iran and Iraq combined.
While the commission report repeatedly implicates Pakistan and its intelligence agency ISI in terrorist activity, it too appears to have failed to record some well-chronicled events that might have pointed to the impending catastrophe.
For instance, the report does not contain any reference to Niaz Khan, a Pakistani waiter in Britain who walked into an FBI office in New Jersey nearly a year before 9/11 and alerted them about a plot to fly planes into buildings. Nor does it go into reports that terrorist mastermind Mohammed Atta received a wire transfer of funds from a source in Karachi connected to the ISI.
Despite this, Pakistan finds itself incriminated in the report far more than Iran or Iraq. The commission itself is frequently censorious of Pakistan's role, but in the end it recommends more carrots as a means of bringing back what it suggests is a failed state from the brink.
Pakistani officials have issued their pro forma denials about Islamabad's involvement, clutching instead at a few paras in the report that recommend a sustained (and conditional) US engagement with the military dictatorship.

Kargil warning went unheeded
Kanwar Sandhu
Delhi/ Chandigarh, July 24
The Cassandra Effect
A report warning of possible intrusions into Dras and requesting permanent defences was shot down
Wargame conducted by Army's 121 Brigade before the Kargil intrusions had inferred that the enemy would try to "capture dominating heights in Dras Defended Area so as to interdict NH 1A".
The Brigade Major had made a written request to HQ 3 Infantry Division for permanent defences at Tiger Hill, Talab and Saddle. The request was turned down.
Pak intrusions into these areas were detected in May 1999. In the war that followed, the battle for Dras cost 474 Indian soldiers' lives.
Around January 1999, months before the Kargil war, the Indian Army conducted a wargame called Exercise JAANCH. Field commanders found weaknesses in the defence and inferred, among other things, that the enemy would "capture dominating heights in Dras Defended Area so as to interdict NH 1A (The Srinagar-Leh road)". Their concerns were ignored and recommendations to strengthen defences shot down. Months later, Pakistani troops occupied those heights and the Kargil war followed.
A confidential letter of the then Commanding Officer of 16 Grenadiers, Col P. Oberai to Headquarters, 121 Brigade dated January 30, 1999 is telling. It mentions that during one of the visits of the Brigade Commander (Brig Surinder Singh) to Dras Defended Area it was felt that the defences needed a re-look in view of the possibility of the enemy capturing certain heights in the vicinity of the Indian Army's defences, thus rendering some posts untenable. Following this, the then GOC of 3 Division (Major General V.S. Budhwar), during his visit on November 25, 1998 ordered that the existing defences of Dras be wargamed.
Wargame "JAANCH" followed. Among the inferences drawn on the enemy's likely aim was that he would "capture dominating heights in Dras Defended Area so as to interdict NH1A". During "JAANCH" it was also found that there was a paucity of troops for holding defences at Gap, Hump, Tiger Hill, Sando and Bimbat LC.
Under the heading "Threat Perception", it was mentioned that the forces which were likely to be available to the enemy for an offensive against the brigade sector included one reserve battalion each from the brigades of the Force Commander Northern Areas. In addition there were two Mujahid/ Chitral Scouts which were likely to relieve two regular battalions from an Infantry brigade. "Considering the above, the adversary is likely to muster 5-6 battalions for a meaningful offensive against own Brigade Sector", the note said.
The note suggested that an ad-hoc battalion headquarter under the Second in Command of the battalion should be positioned at Talab. At Tiger Hill, a protective patrol was recommended.
Similarly, at Saddle, deployment of a section (about 10 troops) was suggested. Incidentally, while capture of Talab was essential to reach Tiger Hill, Saddle was in the vicinity of Tololing.
Giving a reference to the Brigade Commander's verbal directions in his communication, the CO concluded that the "adversary had the wherewithal of launching a brigade size force in the Dras Defended Area as the prevalent terrain favours such an operation. By incorporating the proposed deployment it would also ensure upsetting the time frame of the adversary and stalling his misdemeanour in the Dras Defended Area. As such it would be prudent to review the present deployment ..."
Subsequent to this communication the then Brigade Commander made a presentation on February 24, 1999. Following this on March 18, the officiating Brigade Major of the Brigade, Lt Col. Anil Pandey made a projection to HQ 3 Infantry Division for defence stores. Among the various places where permanent defences (PDs) were sought were Talab (four), Tiger Hill (one) and Saddle (3). In fact while demanding PDs, Tiger Hill and Saddle were put in "priority one". A PD is usually a cement and steel structure.
On March 1, the Brigade had also sent a seven-page note to the Division on counter-insurgency (CI) operations in the Dras sector stating ominously: "Militancy has taken roots in the Dras area and is likely to escalate in the coming months." On March 31, the Brigade in another communication to the Division stated: "There is likely to be an upgradation in the anti-national elements (ANE) threat, with greater chance of interdiction of NH1A..."
The Division Headquarters turned down the demand for defence stores as requested by the Brigade on March 18, 1999. Ironically the letter of Major Pradeep Kumar, GSO2 Ops for Col GS of the Division, is dated May 3, 1999 when the first of the intrusions were detected in the Kargil sector. The letter to the Brigade stated: "Your report on defence stores has been perused by the GOC. Disparity between availability and your requirement is glaring." It further stated: "This disposes of your letter under reference."
This information adds a different dimension to the events leading to the war, which has so far been attributed mainly to failure of intelligence. The Kargil Review Committee in its report "From Surprise to Reckoning" had surmised that "Pakistan achieved surprise by carrying out an operation considered unviable and irrational by Indian Army Commanders." The operation was not considered unviable or irrational.
The Army Headquarters, when asked, did not attach much importance to the pinpointed recommendations made after wargame "JAANCH".
The then GOC, 3 Div, Maj Gen V.S. Budhwar, being abroad, could not be contacted. The then GOC, 15 Corps, Lt Gen Krishan Pal (Retd), said that he did not recall any such exercise.
"It must have been conducted at the brigade or division level." But he refused to blame anyone, "The responsibility, if any, was mine", he said.
The then Chief of Army Staff, Gen V.P. Malik (Retd), when contacted too did not recall any such exercise that pinpointed such concerns. "How come this has not surfaced all this while? If only Brig. Surinder Singh had done what I asked him to do during my visits, intrusions would not have taken place," he added.
Brig Surinder Singh, when asked about the steps taken by his Headquarters said that, "I was informed that patrols were sent out by the units but these made little headway in view of the weather conditions. However, had the concerns being projected repeatedly been heeded by the higher formations, the enemy could have been deterred from occupying those heights."
So who was responsible for glossing over the imminent security concerns in Dras, as the new set of documents show? Earlier only documents relating to Brig Surinder Singh's briefing of the then Army Chief and others in August 1998 had surfaced.
An Army spokesperson maintained that "comprehensive inquiries had been made into the Kargil war and appropriate action against certain commanders in the chain have been taken, commensurate with the degree of their culpability."

Alleged Syrian nuclear plans elicit debate

By Will Rasmussen
Daily Star staff
Saturday, July 24, 2004
BEIRUT: Charges have surfaced in recent weeks in Western newspapers that Syria may have acquired nuclear weapons technology on the black market, although some US experts believe the allegations are based more on politics than on evidence.
Although US officials have never publicly stated that Syria has sought nuclear weapons, Western diplomats and a US intelligence official asserted in the Los Angeles Times last month that Syria may have purchased centrifuges, used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, from Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdel-Qadeer Khan.
Reuters, The Times in London and The Ottawa Citizen published similar reports within weeks of the Los Angeles Times story.
In a statement issued earlier this year, Syrian president Bashar Assad denied that Syria had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and called for a nuclear-free region.
International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohammed al-Baradei said Wednesday that "we have no proof that Syria is trying to engage in nuclear activities in violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."
US experts, meanwhile, disagree over whether Syria has the ability or the desire to develop the weapons.
Allegations of nuclear ambitions are the latest in a string of US criticisms of the Syrian regime, which has also been accused of sponsoring organizations on the US State Department terrorism list, maintaining a military presence in Lebanon and deploying ballistic missiles.
"Syria is on a long list of countries like Iran and, formally, Iraq, North Korea and Pakistan, which have a history of seeking WMDs," said Jack Spencer, a senior defense analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank with ties to the Bush administration. Syria has "tapped into the black market before," and "it's reasonable to assume" they would be a part of the Khan network, he told The Daily Star in a phone interview.
Khan, considered the father of Pakistan's nuclear program, sold centrifuges to Iran, Libya and North Korea over two decades, and some in the Bush administration considered Syria to be a potential customer even before the recent alleged detection.
While not specifically mentioning Syria, John Bolton,
US undersecretary of state for arms control, told the UN in April that in addition to Iran, Libya and North Korea, "several other" nations sought centrifuge technology.
Some US experts, however, have questioned the reliability of the US intelligence.
Syria's alleged development of chemical weapons may not be indicative of its interest in nuclear weapons, said Patrick Clawson, deputy director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Syria, he said, "lacks the interest and the educational base needed to develop weapons" and would be worried about a "nasty" Israeli response should they develop a nuclear program.


PART 1: Losing it
In early May I took a taxi from Amman to Baghdad. After passing through Jordanian customs and approaching the Iraqi border post, my driver warned me to remain in the car. The Iraqi resistance had people working for it at the border post, he said, and if they saw my US passport they would contact their friends on the road ahead. They would welcome us with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. I pushed the seat back as he said and closed my eyes. Soon we were driving east to Baghdad on Iraq's Highway 10, and I had sneaked into the country without any US or Iraqi official's cognizance. As we drove past the charred hulks of sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) whose drivers had been less savvy than mine, and whose passengers had been less lucky than me, I wondered who else was infiltrating Iraq with the same ease I did.
When I got to Baghdad my colleagues were aghast to hear that I had taken the road. Nobody drove into Iraq anymore, not since April, when a rebellion had virtually severed the western Anbar province from the rest of the country. Thousands of mujahideen had manned roadblocks, searching for foreigners to kidnap or kill, at least 80 US military convoys were attacked and anybody who could was flying into the country. The locus of fighting had been Fallujah, a dusty town emerging from the desert about 60 kilometers west of Baghdad. Not a place you would remember unless you were kidnapped there.
Fallujah had always been a little different from the rest of Iraq. An American non-governmental organization project manager told me with bewilderment of his meeting with a women's group from the town who shocked him by being more radical than the men. "We must be willing to sacrifice our sons to end the occupation," they told him.
Combining rigid religious conservatism, strong tribal traditions and a fierce loyalty to Saddam Hussein, Fallujah battled five different US commanders who were brought in to tame the wild western province of the country. According to Professor Amazia Baram, an Iraq expert from the University of Haifa and the Washington-based United States Institute of Peace, Saddam found greater loyalty in the 300,000-strong city of Fallujah than he did even in his home town of Tikrit. He never executed Fallujans, though he did kill Tikritis who were his relatives, and Fallujans dominated his security and military services. Their proportion of the intelligence services was the highest in the country. This was already beginning to be the case under the Iraqi monarchy, continuing under the regime of the Arif brothers from 1963-68. The Arifs themselves hailed from Fallujah. After the first Gulf War of 1991, Saddam went to Fallujah, not Tikrit, to declare his victory in "the mother of all battles". He was greeted there with genuine love. Also unlike Tikrit, where the tribes are urbanized, the tribes of Fallujah are concentrated in the rural areas surrounding the city, and thus have not modernized and abandoned tribal mores as much as tribes in other parts of the country.
Situated on a strategic point bridging the Euphrates River in the desert, Fallujah is the center of a fertile region on the outskirts of the desert leading to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria. Its location makes it a smuggling center. After the latest war, Fallujah did not suffer from the same looting seen in other parts of the country, as there was less reason to be hostile to the former regime and its institutions. Saddam had given Fallujah virtual autonomy. The religious and tribal leaders appointed their own civil management council even before US troops arrived. Tribes assumed control of the city's institutions and protected government buildings. Religious leaders, whose authority was respected, exhorted the people to respect the law and maintain order. Local imams urged the public to respect law and order. Tight tribal bonds also helped preserve stability. Trouble with Americans started soon after they arrived, however.
A March 29 protest, coinciding with Saddam's birthday, against the 82nd Airborne Division's occupation of a school turned bloody when US soldiers killed 17 protesters and killed three more in a follow-up protest two days later. A cycle of attacks and retaliation had begun, with the Fallujah-based resistance increasing in sophistication and successive US units throwing their might upon the city in futile efforts to pacify it. Finally, on March 31, four American contractors were killed and mutilated. This was an Iraqi tradition called sahel, a word unique to Iraqi Arabic, meaning the act of lynching. It originally meant dragging a body down the street with an animal or vehicle, but eventually grew to mean any sort of public killing. Iraqis have a history of imposing sahel, even on their leaders, as the former royal family learned.
The slayings of the American mercenaries provoked a Stalingrad-like response by the Americans called Operation Vigilant Resolve. After a month-long siege of Fallujah, during which US forces battered the city in pursuit of about 2,000 armed fighters, the United States received an offer from a coalition of former generals, tribal leaders and religious leaders. The Americans described it as a success but Fallujans were clear that they had liberated their city. The arrangement struck with the Americans was simple: Leave us alone or we will fight you. The details of the agreement went largely unpublished, but the US, which only a week before had vowed to take the city by force, had agreed that General Jassim Muhamad Saleh, a former Republican Guard commander, would establish what has been called both the Fallujah Brigade and the Fallujah Protection Army (FPA). After the US-trained Iraqi army had mutinied, refusing to fight in Fallujah on the grounds that they had joined to defend Iraq, not kill Iraqis, General Jassim and his supporters approached marine commander Lieutenant-General James Conway and offered salvation. "It got to the point that we thought there were no options that would preclude an attack," Conway said. Lieutenant-Colonel Brennan Byrne described it as "an Iraqi solition to an Iraqi problem". They would crown General Jassim as warlord of Fallujah. "The plan is that the whole of Fallujah will be under the control of the FPA," Byrne said.
One senior US official explained to the Washington Post on May 19, "What we're trying to do is extricate ourselves from Fallujah." But Brigadier-General Mark Kimmitt, deputy commander of operations for the coalition, maintained that marines were not "withdrawing" but were rather "repositioning" and would remain "in and around Fallujah". I saw no marines inside the city and I was told by Fallujah police and soldiers that they would shoot at Americans if they came in, contradicting a statement by the commander of US military operations in the Middle East, General John Abizaid, who said, "We want the marines to have freedom of maneuver along with the Iraqi security forces." Kimmitt insisted, "The coalition objectives remain unchanged, to eliminate armed groups, collect and positively control all heavy weapons, and turn over foreign fighters and disarm anti-Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah." I found no evidence of such policy. Though Kimmitt claimed General Jassim and his 1st Battalion of the Fallujah Brigade would subdue the resistance and foreign fighters, I found the general beholden to the mujahideen leaders, seeking their approval, collaborating with them, and under their command; quite the opposite of Kimmitt's claim that "the battalion will function as a subordinate command under the operational control of the First Marine Expeditionary Force". And though Jassim was to have been replaced by General Muhamad Latif over allegations of war crimes committed during Jassim's repression of the 1991 post-Gulf War uprising, I found Jassim still in "command".
April was the worst month for the US-led occupation, which fought a two front war in the Sunni Triangle as well as against the Army of the Mahdi, a militia controlled by radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, in Baghdad's Shi'ite neighborhoods and the Shi'ite south of the country. Fallujah had become a rallying cry for Iraq, uniting its antagonistic Sunni and Shi'ite communities against the occupation, and solidifying the bonds between their militias, creating a popular resistance in Iraq for the first time. After their Fallujah siege, during which all ceasefire attempts had failed, the marines began their withdrawal from the city on April 30. Obstinate resistance fighters who rejected the ceasefire terms killed two marines with a roadside bomb that day, trying unsuccessfully to provoke the marines to violate the accord, and the US withdrawal went ahead as planned. US marines described their May 10 half-hour incursion into the city as the first of the new joint patrols they would make with the Fallujah Brigade, but Fallujans described it as the last time Americans would be allowed to enter their city. There have been no further US patrols in Fallujah.
On the main street of Fallujah, once called Habbaniya Street but renamed Sheikh Ahmad Yassin Street in honor of the Hamas leader killed by the Israelis, laborers with scarves protecting their faces from the dust gather to be picked up for day jobs. It was these angry, unemployed young men, armed with their shovels and pipes, who dismembered the four contractors after the mujahideen had ambushed their vehicles. Young boys sell bananas and Kleenex boxes. The boys serve as an early-warning system for the city, notifying the fighters if they spot foreigners. Fair-skinned journalists told me of hiding low in their cars to avoid arousing attention, only to have the Kleenex boys spot them and shout "American! American!" At a major road intersection, anti-American graffiti in English are scrawled on the walls as a warning to US soldiers.
The boys gathered around me and the laborers removed their kafiyas from their faces to talk. They witnessed the attack on the contractors, they said, describing how the two cars had stopped at a red light and the mujahideen opened fire on them from other vehicles. The rear car was hit and the front car sped off and made a U-turn, but it too was hit. A mujahid shouted: "I avenged my brother who was killed by the Americans!," and the assailants left. An angry mob on the street mutilated the bodies, burning them and beating them with pipes until they were partially dismembered, a gruesome scene captured on film. I asked one Kleenex salesboy if he had done it. "I would even pull Bush down the street!" he smiled. A laborer said, "God and the mujahideen gave us victory. It will spread to all of Iraq and all the way to Jerusalem."
The bodies were dragged about a kilometer and a half to the old Fallujah bridge and hung from it. Blackwater, the company that employed the four Americans, later claimed they had been held at a roadblock, but in the films of the attack that I watched on promotional jihad compact discs (CDs) sold in Fallujah, there was no roadblock, and it is unlikely that any Blackwater employees ever returned to Fallujah to investigate. According to a US Army major familiar with the events, the murder and mutilation of Americans three kilometers from a US base provoked the marines into taking premature action. "The result on marine operations was that the marines were forced to respond to the incident and thus were not able to choose the timing or location for their operations," he said. "In other words, they had to attack Fallujah immediately, as opposed to being able to go with their original highly publicized plan of putting platoon-sized elements living with the people, using minimal force combined with a visible maximum presence and developing intelligence portfolios to allow targeted action as opposed to blunt, broad-spectrum action that has had the predictable results of pissing off a lot of Iraqis while being a focal point for nation-wide resistance elements."
He blamed Blackwater's mercenaries who, in Afghanistan, had almost gotten into firefights with US troops. "Cowboys," he said. "Their reputation is not good ... basically they are good at shooting guns but do not have a reputation for people with brains or situational awareness. This comes from some friends that worked with them in Afghanistan. My guess is that they did not coordinate their move with the marines in the area [who probably had no idea they were in Fallujah]. The ones who were killed were driving in the city with no crew-served weapons or anybody riding top cover outside of an SUV. That is really stupid. Basically a bunch of high-paid dumb-ass special-forces types who wanted to get in a firefight because they thought they were bulletproof."
Near the old bridge where the charred bodies were strung up is the Julan neighborhood on the northwestern border of the town. I found the neighborhood's people sorting through the rubble of their destroyed homes, flattened as if by an earthquake. AC-130 gunships, attack helicopters, and even fighter planes had pummeled the neighborhood where mujahideen held out. I found one man standing in the center of an immense crater that had been his home, his children playing on piles of bricks. Another man sat collapsed in despair in front of the gate leading to his home that had been crushed as if by a giant foot. He played with his worry beads indolently. One by one the men of the neighborhood asked me to photograph the damage US marines had inflicted upon them. As I was doing so a white sedan pulled up and two men covering their faces with checkered scarves emerged, demanding to know my identity. They were afraid of spies, they told me. I convinced them I was just a journalist and they escorted me to a mosque whose tower had collapsed from a US attack. In the still-seething Julan neighborhood, fighters were bitter about the compromise reached with the Americans that ended the fighting, and threatened to kill the leaders who had negotiated and approved the settlement.
Down the railroad tracks on the eastern edge of Fallujah, the Askari neighborhood suffered a similar fate, its homes eaten by US bullets and shells. It is here that US troops man the Fallujah checkpoint alongside Fallujan soldiers, some wearing the uniforms of the former army. Dozens of cars line up there to wind slowly around barricades and be searched for weapons and foreign fighters. My driver resented the hour-long wait and took the back roads into Fallujah, through a moonscape of sand dunes, past abandoned cement factories with cranes frozen atop like skeletons. Fallujah is a center for cross-border smuggling in Iraq and apart from the patronage it received from Saddam, smuggling was the primary revenue earner. As long as Fallujah's businessmen are permitted to continue their smuggling activities, the town will remain quiescent. Trails carved out of the desert lead into the town from every direction, and the main road is ignored by those who know. On my way out we drove past a lot in the desert where a dozen rusted trucks were parked, with Hebrew writing on them and Israeli license plates, probably stolen in Israel and sold in Jordan. No soldiers or marines regulated traffic in the area, I noticed, as we bumped our way over the dunes.
Fallujah's lawlessness was actually threatening the economy by obstructing the essential traffic coming in through Jordan. Iraqi friends who had driven the western roads described seeing thousands of mujahideen manning checkpoints made of concrete blocks and logs in the middle of the road and demanding identification cards at gunpoint, searching for foreigners. For the month of April, they had managed to take over the west. They had not been killed or disarmed, so there is no reason to think they cannot do it again.
Referring to Iraq's Highway 10, a former American marine currently working very closely in a civilian capacity with the marine commanders in Fallujah explained to me, "Fallujah sits on a major artery between Baghdad and the rest of the world. There is no fucking way we will let them stand in our path. We're trying to rebuild the country. Fallujah is in the way. We will be moving massive amounts of people and material in the region. We would have been using the western route a lot more if it was safe." I asked him who was in control of Fallujah. "I can tell you who is not in control," he said. "The marines." He told me of kidnapping incidents he knew about. "People disappear into the hole of Fallujah," he said. "The mujahideen control the city." He was suspicious of anointed warlord General Jassim's ability to control the city, telling me, "I don't trust Jassim or the Fallujah model." He was convinced that the status quo in Fallujah would have to be corrected. "The situation will change," he said. "We should have never gone inside the city. This is not a Marine Corps mission. The marines are a mobile, self-sustainable fighting force. The Marine Corps doesn't do occupation. We would kick ass shutting borders. The Corps does short displays of massive power. The Marine Corps goes into violent situations, kicks ass and then lets the army handle things. The Marine Corps cannot handle logistics or stay long." The planned handover of sovereignty to the Iraqis on June 30 would not reduce the need to reassert control over Fallujah, he said, adding, "What will be gone after June 30? A three-letter acronym and some Bush flunkies and third-stringers."
The marines rely on private companies to supply them with their arms, food, water and all other essential materiel, from Baghdad, Jordan and Turkey. Companies use their own private armies composed of former intelligence and army servicemen to protect the convoys that support the marines in the entire west. They too are vulnerable to the mujahideen. Forgotten is the importance of the Habaniya airbase, also called Al Taqaddum, 80km west of Baghdad. Seized by allied special forces even before the war itself began, it was the main Iraqi airbase outside the former "no-fly zone" imposed after the 1991 Gulf War. It remains essential to support the 25,000 marines occupying western Iraq. The lines of communication, or LOCs, that much of the occupation and economy depend on are thus vulnerable to interdiction, passing through inhabited and agricultural areas that provide cover for the resistance.
US marines conducted their last patrol into Fallujah on May 10. It was a hasty affair. A convoy drove up to the headquarters of the new Fallujah military force for a brief meeting and left. The mood was festive on the streets. Thousands of residents came out for a carnival-like victory celebration. Fighters carrying their weapons piled on to pickup trucks and shot into the air, songs were sung and a sheep was slaughtered on the street. Men queued to sign up for a newly formed military unit, collecting the forms from an Iraqi officer wearing the uniform of the disbanded Republican Guard, seated behind a desk.
A marine colonel responsible for civil-affairs operations in Fallujah admitted to me that he had no role in the negotiations that led to the settlement and knew nothing about them. He and his men were not even permitted to enter the city. Though marine commanders had claimed they would conduct joint patrols with local forces in the city, since May 10 the marines have stayed away. The colonel admitted to me that he did not even know who was in charge of Fallujah.
Brigadier-General Kimmitt had announced: "We have to win this war in Fallujah one neighborhood at a time. We're going to do it on our terms, on our timeline, and it will be overwhelming." But General Mattis and his men, escorted by the new Fallujah Brigade for their own protection, had barely been able to penetrate the city. After their safe exit from Fallujah after that last incursion, and after Iraqi forces had raised their own flag - not the new one issued by the Iraqi Governing Council - over the eastern checkpoint, Mattis concluded with a speech: "My fine young sailors and marines, sometimes history is made in small, dusty places like this. Today was good history because we did not get into a fight. Not a shot was fired. We did not come here to fight these people, we came here to free them." He had forgotten all his demands, including the handover of heavy weapons, the men who killed the four American contractors, and any foreign fighters. The commander of the most powerful fighting unit in the world was satisfied, according to the Associated Press (AP), with the mere fact that "nobody shoots", and that "any day that there is no shooting it is good". On April 20, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had warned: "Thugs and assassins and former Saddam henchmen will not be allowed to carve out portions of that city and to oppose peace and freedom."
The police, civil-defense corps and Fallujah Bigade, all ostensibly under final US authority, told me they would attack Americans should they enter. Although the well-dressed General Muhamad Latif was said to be in control, and General Jassim dismissed, the men of the Fallujah Brigade were still commanded by Jassim, it was to him they gave their allegiance and it was to him the town leaders came to discuss plans for the new army. Jassim's men were not arresting the mujahideen. Their ranks included mujahideen. The general himself was beholden to the mujahideen leaders, seeking their approval, collaborating with them, and under their command. The police were afraid of mujahideen units who were terrorizing them and civilians.
If Fallujah was quiet now, it was in part because mujahideen leaders had left the city. Some had sought refuge in Baghdad's Aamriya district, home to Sunni radicals and adjoining the resistance center of Abu Ghraib. Residents of Aamriya told me that after the entrance of mujahideen from Fallujah into their neighborhood, attacks against Americans there had ceased in order to avoid provoking the Americans and revealing their identities. Mujahideen in Fallujah, eyeing the surrounding villages where there tribes were based, and the nearby city of Ramadi, expected similar battles to occur there, leading to the liberation of more territory and a country governed by the resistance. They had been planning for this at least since February. Leaflets had been circulated by "the Army of Muhamad", instructing people what to do when the Americans left. Meanwhile, a group called the Mujahideen Brigades circulated leaflets in Baghdad urging people to stay home because "your mujahideen brothers in Ramadi, Khalidiyah, and Fallujah will bring the fire of the resistance to the capital Baghdad, and support our mujahideen brothers in the Army of the Mahdi in liberating you from the injustice of the occupation. Forewarned is forearmed." Other leaflets circulating in Fallujah after the accord condemned the leaders who negotiated it for weakening the resistance.
Should the Fallujah model be applied elsewhere in the Sunni Triangle, it is clear that radical Sunnis in alliance with former Ba'athist officers would seize control - a warlord with a cleric legitimizing him in every city. Within Fallujah, some neighborhoods were still controlled by irredentist mujahideen, bitter at the ceasefire that betrayed their cause. They were threatening the very radical leaders who had tenuous control of the city, condemning their moderation. With no clear leader, the people of Fallujah were worried about internal power struggles turning bloody.
So could the Fallujah model be applied elsewhere? And should it? Supporters of armed resistance to the occupation had assisted the fight in Fallujah, providing food and medicine and smuggling weapons in with the aid that was trucked in from the Mother of All Battles Mosque in Baghdad's Ghazaliya district. Now Fallujan leaders were supporting Muqtada al-Sadr's Shi'ite fighters in the south, and meeting with leaders from other Sunni parts of the country.
Leaving aside virtually independent Kurdistan, which has been ruled by two US-supported benevolent warlords for 14 years, there are no military figures who could command legitimate authority in the Shi'ite neighborhoods of Baghdad and the the Shi'ite south. There are only religious leaders such as Muqtada and the network of clerics and gangs he controls. This would be ceding the country to Khomeinist thugs who would impose the strictest form of Islam, meting out religiously inspired death sentences like the Taliban. Abdel Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution of Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress and interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi all command armies, but have no significant popular support. Journalists are already asking for written guarantees from militia leaders in Karbala and Najaf in order to operate while Americans desperately search for a suitable local leader to impose his own order. And if US troops cannot deal with the mujahideen, how will the inchoate Iraqi regime?
Members of the former governing council have already voiced their displeasure. Governing council spokesman Haydar Ahmad told the Arabic news network al-Arabiya on May 2 that the Ministry of Defense had not been consulted prior to the formation of the Fallujah Brigade, adding, "The tragedy of Fallujah cannot be ended by forming a force without consulting the authority in this country." Erstwhile US ally Chalabi, interviewed by alJazeera on May 3, said that "the issue is that those who carried arms and the terrorists who fight against the new situation in Iraq are from the Ba'athists and the remnants of Saddam's regime. They should not be given legitimacy to control any area in Iraq by force." Chalabi compared the solution in Fallujah to returning control of Germany to the Nazis, adding that "The terrorists are free in the secured haven of Falluja." Chalabi and two other governing council members, Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum and Adil Abdel Mahdi, had co-signed a statement supporting the Iraqi defense minister's rejection of what they termed "the Republican Guard brigade" in Fallujah as part of the new Iraqi army. A spokesman for leading moderate Shi'ite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani objected that "members of the Ba'ath Party committed the worst crimes and made bloodbaths and the biggest mass graves in the history of humanity". The number of armies in the country is only increasing, and unless the United States wants an Iraq of warlord-controlled, radical Islamic fiefdoms like it has in Afghanistan, Fallujah looks like a model for disaster.
Tomorrow: PART 2, The fighting poets
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PART 2: The fighting poets
On May 11, one day after US marines conducted their last patrol into Fallujah following their decision to pull back and hand over to a Fallujah Brigade after a bloody month-long siege, hundreds of dignitaries gathered under a long tent in the city 50 kilometers west of Baghdad for a poetry celebration organized by the National Front of Iraqi Intellectuals.
It was staged in front of the unfinished Rahma Hospital, and a podium was placed on top of the rough gray stairs at the hospital's entrance, with the front's emblem and Iraqi flags draped on the podium. Tall columns and arches framed the background. Graffiti on the walls of the hospital read, "Long live the mujahideen and the loved ones of Mohammed", "Victory is Fallujah's and defeat for the infidel America" and "the Fallujah martyrs are the lights for the way to the complete liberation of Iraq".
Clerics resplendent in their turbans, tribal leaders wearing white kafiyas, or headscarves, businessmen, military and police officers and men in Ba'athist-style matching solid-color open-collar shirts and pants called "safari suits" sat on plastic chairs under a long tent shading them from the noonday sun. Banners hung on the sides of the tent and walls of the hospital made clear the sentiments of the moment: "All of Fallujah's neighborhoods bear witness to its heroism, steadfastness and virtue", "The stand of Fallujah is the truest expression of the Iraqi identity", "Fallujah, castle of steadfastness and pride" and "The martyrs of Fallujah, Najaf, Kufa and Basra are the pole of the flag that says God is great".
Above the podium, tough-looking men wearing sunglasses and grimaces looked down on the crowd. A banner above them described the event as a poetry festival to support Fallujah against the occupation. Cans of soft drinks and bottles of water were provided for the honored guests.
"Hey Fallujah," called one poet, "when I wrote my poem you were the most beautiful verse inside it and without your stand I could not raise my head again." Another poet, with the strong accent of Shi'ite southern Iraq, declared: "Fallujah is full of real men." Bridging the Sunni-Shi'ite divide, he referred to the important Shi'ite martyr Hussein, who is venerated for defying Sunni tyranny: "From the 'no' of Hussein Fallujah learned so much." He continued that just as "Hussein was supported by 70 of his followers, we have to be like his followers and end the internal strife ... I have a brave friend from Fallujah and I came from Karbala." He led the audience in chants and hand-clapping, calling for unity between Sunnis and Shi'ites.
Another Shi'ite poet from Baghdad, Falah al-Fatlawi, declared that radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Army of the Mahdi militia "awoke for Fallujah, and Sadr's voice from Najaf" declared the value of Fallujah. "We will never sell it," he said, "people sacrificed their spirit for Fallujah, one heart, one line, Sunni and Shi'ite for Fallujah!" Mohammed Khalil Kawkaz recited a poem called "The Fallujah Tragedy" in a barely intelligible local accent. "Fallujah is a tall date palm," he said. "She never accepts anybody touching her dates, she will shoot arrows into the eyes of those who try to taste her, this is Fallujah, your bride, oh Euphrates! She will never fall in love with anyone but you ... Americans dug in the ground and pulled out the roots of the date palm."
Choosing an interesting metaphor, given the recent decapitation of American Nick Berg, he announced: "We will slit the throats of our enemies!" and added that "the earth hugs the destroyed houses ... the women burned and the children suffered, calling to the governing council, you are deaf and dumb O governing council! You found honor in meeting him who pillaged Fallujah [the Americans]."
He cried to the Euphrates River, asking it why it did nothing to help the city: "Oh Euphrates, what happened to you that you just lay down? Get up and fight with your waves and swallow this country [US] and the others [the coalition], stand with Fallujah! You are the Iraqi flag, they tried to change you but they cannot, for you are her love! Oh Fallujah, you are my blood, my eyes, my everything! All the mosques say God is great and call for jihad, as the Americans bomb their towers! No honor, no justice, no right, nothing, but we have the scarved ones [mujahideen] who will restore all, he brought them, prisoners, hostages, like a wolf and he negotiated and sold them in the market! He who did not bleed for you [Fallujah] is dishonorable!"
Another poet shouted, "Congratulations on the victory of the revolutionaries, your heads will always be high and the one who wanted to conquer you hangs his head low!" A poet from the southern Shi'ite shrine city of Najaf sang, "I brought with me all the love from Najaf to this city and I send it as kisses to the people of the Anbar."
A 12-year-old boy from Najaf followed him, and the microphone was lowered to accommodate his small stature. He wore a pressed white shirt neatly tucked into his jeans, and he waved an arm angrily, pointing a finger at the sky. "I came from Najaf to praise the heroes of Fallujah!" he shouted, and ended by calling to God, screaming, "Ya Allah! Ya Allah," and then burst out sobbing. Older men escorted him off as he wiped away his tears, and he was embraced and kissed in succession by the dignitaries in the front row. He returned to recite another bellicose poem, this time brandishing a Kalashnikov as long as he was tall.
Listening to the hyperbolic poems amid a devastated city I was reminded of Ma'rouf al-Resafi (1875-1945), nicknamed "the poet of Iraq". A teacher, writer, translator, journalist, historian and politician, Resafi traveled for much of his life and settled in Fallujah, from which he fled in 1941 to Baghdad when British troops and mercenaries attacked it. He wrote famous poems in tribute to Fallujah, including one that went:

Oh Englishmen, we will not forget
Your cruelty in the houses of Fallujah
Sanctioned by your army, wanting revenge
Its parasites dazzled by Fallujah's inhabitants
And on the defenseless you poured a glass
Of blood mixed with betrayal
Is in this the civility, and loftiness
Your people claim to ascend to?
Seated majestically in the center of the crowd, prominently next to the chief of police, Colonel Sabar Fadhil al-Janabi, Sheikh Dhafer al-Ubeidi, the guest of honor, rose to speak, a white scarf framing his dark-bearded face and a gold-braided translucent cape draped over his shoulders. "There was never unity in Iraqi history like this," he said, describing the event as "the wedding day for Fallujah". Muslims had not felt such joy, he said, since Saladin liberated Jerusalem in 1187. Silencing the enthusiastic crowd, he continued: "I don't like clapping, so if I say something you like then say 'Allahu Akbar' [God is great], which is in accordance with our traditions. Clapping is for poets, not religious leaders."

Dhafer warned that Zionists, imperialists and Masons were leading the occupation and inciting sectarian war. "The meaning of Fallujah has become victory," he told them. Fallujah was now haram for the Americans, he said, religiously prohibited, until judgment day. "And Iraq will be haram for America until judgment day." Dhafer wished peace upon the crowd and descended to shouts of "God is great!"
As the tribal leaders seated behind Dhafer parted and lumbered out of the tent, holding their gowns up slightly with one hand, I stopped one of the guests, Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Zowabi, to ask him about the event. "It is a victory celebration," he told me. "It is a message that all Iraqis are one people, as you saw, and there are many well-known people here from all Iraq." I asked the chubby sheikh if the battle would continue, and he laughed, answering, "Fallujah is part of the victory, but there are more battlefields. There will be a popular rebellion in all of Iraq."
I asked him what political plan they had for the rest of the country, and his answer was typical of what I have been hearing in Iraq for the past 13 months. "We want a national government that represents the Iraqi people," he said. When I pressed him on what type of government, he said, "We want any government that satisfies the Iraqi people." And did the tribal leader want a democracy? "We don't hate democracy, we believe in democracy, but it should come from the Iraqi people. We have our own special democracy that takes Iraqi history and culture into consideration." He explained proudly that "the first code of laws on Earth was Hammurabi's code in Iraq, before America even existed", referring to "priest king" Hammurabi (circa 1792-1750 BC), who united all of Mesopotamia under his 43-year reign of Babylon.
Zowabi's companion, a tall, gaunt sheikh with a thin mustache, told me, "We don't want freedom or democracy if it comes from America." Another sheikh cut him off, shouting, "How can you tell a foreigner that you don't want freedom or democracy? He will tell the whole world." The interrupted sheikh did not respond, telling me only that "America should leave today, before tomorrow".
PART 3: The Fallujah model
With Fallujah being touted by Iraqi fighters as a successful example of how to liberate their country from the US-led occupation, and by the occupation leaders as a successful example of how to hand over the country to its people and avoid further bloodshed, I set out to discover the reality behind the "Fallujah model".
What I found was a city run by the Iraqi resistance, itself divided between those who supported the ceasefire with occupation forces in May that ended a month's heavy fighting in the city and those who sought to continue the struggle throughout Iraq "and all the way to Jerusalem".
To learn more about the history of Fallujah's resistance, I visited the opulent home of Abu Mohammed, a former brigadier-general in the Iraqi military. We sat in his guest hall, decorating with expensive but gaudy art, flowery and uncoordinated, typical for the region, watching a news broadcast on the assassination of Iraqi Governing Council president Izzedin Salim.
The brigadier-general's three cheerful young boys were play-fighting on a sofa, grinning at me shyly, hoping to get the attention of the foreigner. Abu Mohammed has a baby face and dimples, and smiled as much as his frolicking boys. Like most of Fallujah's people, he traced the beginning of the resistance to the US Army's killing of 17 demonstrators in late April of last year.
Abu Mohammed explained that Fallujah was more traditional than most Iraqi cities. "It is conservative and the influence of mosques is great and widespread." Saddam Hussein's control of thought and ideas, he said, meant that "you could only express yourself through the mosques and it was in the mosques that people felt there was an authority who cared and listened to them". Abu Mohammed added that "the level of education of imams in the mosque was not high".
Abu Mohammed, like all members of the previous army, lost his job when the US occupation dissolved it, along with outlawing the Ba'ath Party. He explained that this had only created enemies for the Americans. He spoke of "the massive use of force" and "disrespect for our traditions" that Fallujah experienced, as well as the "media showing American raids and attacks", meaning that "former regime people like me were forced to support revenge".
"After the war ended," he said, "we expected things to improve, but everything became worse, electricity, water, sewage, draining, so mosque speakers openly spoke of jihad and encouraged prayers to join it after a month of occupation." Abu Mohammed explained that the "mosque culture developed against the Americans in this year. The mosques were free. Mosque culture in Fallujah centered on the jihad. This attracted foreign Arabs who felt constrained by their own regimes, and of course there were neighboring countries who supported this financially. Nobody in Fallujah opposed the resistance and many different resistance groups came in. Weapons were very available in Fallujah. All soldiers and security personnel took their weapons home, and the Ba'ath Party had also distributed weapons."
Abu Mohammed was bewildered by what he called "the stupidity of the Americans", explaining, "They didn't seize ammunition depots of the army that contained enormous amounts of weapons." The military experience, the financing and the weapons were all present in Fallujah, he said, and "the nature of the people here is violent because they grow up with weapons from childhood and weapons become part of our personality". He added that "the imams of mosques took over the defense of Fallujah efficiently".
When the fighting in April started, "the people here were monitoring American movements and had the upper hand. Military experience let them know where the Americans would attack. Fallujans were expecting this to happen, especially after the four [US] contractors [were killed], and they prepared themselves for the fight. The resistance spread into positions assigned to them by Sheikh Dhafer [al-Ubeidi] and Abdallah Janabi, and the military planning and street fighting in defense of one's home requires less strategizing."
Abu Mohammed admitted that "the presence of alJazeera's [Qatar-based television station] exaggerated pictures and incitement of people led people inside and outside Iraq to sympathize with Fallujah." He compared alJazeera's Fallujah correspondent to a sports commentator: "His broadcasts were like a sports commentator, not a journalist, encouraging people to support one team against the other. And he raised the spirits of fighters."
Abu Mohammed was concerned about the new status of Fallujah. "There is no law in Fallujah now," he said. "It's like Afghanistan - rule of gangs, mafias and Taliban. If they decide somebody is a spy they will kill him. There is no legal procedure. Imams of mosques who left during the fighting were prevented from returning to their mosques." He feared that soon differences would emerge among different mujahideen groups, leading to further violence.
He told me a new Fallujah army had been formed "to contain the former army and resistance leaders from taking over and subverting the rule of law". Abu Mohammed was skeptical about the new army that he had joined. "What is the point of this new army? Who does it kill? Who does it defend?" he asked, adding that "the religious leadership decides who gets into the new army". He himself was approached by delegates from a leading mosque run by Janabi, who brought him forms and told him he was approved.
After the first five days of fighting, the former brigadier sent his family out of the city. Now they had returned, and his oldest boy was serving me coffee, but he wanted to leave the city. He told me his beliefs were different than most of his neighbors. "I am looking for the future of my children," he said.
Across the town, I visited the headquarters of the Islamic Party. One of the 25 parties belonging to the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, its controversial leader was Dr Muhsin Abdel Hamid. The party had strong anti-Shi'ite undertones, and Hamid had already claimed, incorrectly, that Sunnis were the majority in Iraq.
The party offices were located in an old cinema, earning it the nickname "the cinema party" by Fallujans who viewed it as too cooperative with the Americans. The Islamic Party dominated the city council, but its members were not active during the fighting and some left the city, earning them the contempt of Fallujans, who divided their community between those who stayed and fought and those who left.
By the doors boxes of medical supplies were piled high and several men in sweatpants were sprawled in front, holding Kalashnikovs. Inside the theater, piled on seats and on the stage, were thousands of boxes containing medical supplies, as well as food for the families of "martyrs" and the wounded. The party was sending hundreds of these by truck to Karbala and Najaf, where Shi'ite militias were battling occupation forces. By the door I found a poster advertising an "Islamic music band" called "the voice of the right". It showed a bloody heart in the center of Iraq with a hand plunging a spear through it. Another poster showed two pages, one with American soldiers and one with Iraqis and mosques: "With the Prophet's guidance we will unite to turn the page on the occupation." On a table they sold copies of the party's newspaper, Dar Assalam, and a radical Sunni magazine it supported called Nur, meaning "lights".
I met with Khalid Mohammed, the office director, who insisted on speaking only classical Arabic, or Fus-ha, an annoying habit akin to speaking Shakespearean English in daily conversation. Though the Islamic Party had been a key player in the negotiations with the Americans that brought about the hudna, or ceasefire, Mohammed was worried about groups in the city "who reject the hudna and want to turn Fallujah into a center to export the rebellion". Three differences had emerged during the fighting, he said, "and when we worked on the ceasefire there were other fighters who want fighting to continue until the occupation ends". Mohammed confirmed to me that former Iraqi Republican Guard general, Jassim Mohammed Saleh, had not been dismissed as some reports said but was in fact the No 2 man in power in the city.
The Islamic Party's main competition comes from the Association of Islamic Scholars, headquartered in the Abdel Aziz Mosque of the Nazal neighborhood, which was a key battle zone during the siege.
The association, long committed to resisting the occupation, commanded its own mujahideen units during the fighting. According to a Coalition Provisional Authority official familiar with Iraq, Sheikh Harith al-Dhari, one of the association's leaders in Baghdad, is also an important leader of the resistance. The mosque was alleged by Americans to contain mujahideen and was attacked, its green dome speckled with bullet holes. On one of the mosque's walls a banner announced that "violation of the mosque's sanctuary dishonors the world's Muslims". Papers taped to columns on either side of the entrance gate said, "God chose for you a group of martyrs from the city of clerics and religious science and congratulations to them who now live in the stomachs of the green birds," a reference to heaven for martyrs. Another paper said, "Congratulations on your victory, O people of pride and virtue, O heroes of Fallujah." Colorful stickers I had also seen on car bumpers in the streets showed an Iraqi flame burning the Israeli flag alongside the new Iraqi flag that the governing council had approved. Abdel Hamid Farhan, the mosque leader, told me his city was not yet free and would not be until the rest of the country was liberated.
On the large concrete blocks that guard the Fallujah provisional council from attack, I found the same resistance posters I had seen elsewhere in the city and throughout the west of the country. The resistance had capable graphic designers working for it. "Iraq is the beginning of the end of the occupation," it said, showing a fist lunging out of Iraq into an Iraqi flag. On the flag it said, "Congratulations to Fallujah's people, jihad, martyrdom, victory." Two armed resistance fighters were on either side, their faces covered by kafiyas, scarves. A US flag with a Jewish star on it was on fire, its flames burning American soldiers. The poster was produced by "the Islamic Media League".
Inside, Saad Ala al-Rawi, a lawyer and head of the local provisional council, was receiving petitioners behind his desk. He had a thin mustache and wore the Ba'athist "safari" uniform of matching shirt and pants. An elderly woman draped in a black abaya, her face wrinkled and full of traditional tribal tattoos, had come to ask for help and was shouting her problems in the presence of several sweating portly men wearing dashas and kafiyas.
Al-Rawi had taken part in the negotiations with the Americans, but was surprised to learn that simultaneous negotiations were being held without their knowledge to establish the Fallujah army and appoint General Jassim. He didn't want to answer questions about this. Though he appreciated the role played by three Iraqi Governing Council members in the negotiations, "we were expecting something stronger", he said, "because they are Iraqis and we are Iraqis from the same country. The minimum they could do was threaten to resign because their people were being slaughtered in Fallujah." I pressed him about the other negotiations, but he refused to discuss them.
He, too, mentioned the April 29, 2003, school demonstrations as a key event. "The resistance started that day," he said. "Fallujah was the first city that resisted the occupation. The killings continued when they would open fire randomly on us and raid our houses. Because of these events, sympathy with the resistance increased." His 45-member council was formed on April 1 this year. "We have spent most of our time negotiating with them [the Americans] over their human-rights violations."
Referring to the attack on the four American contract workers, he told me, "For us as Muslims and Arabs, we condemn the mutilation and burning of the four, but in a war killing happens on both sides. We are at war, so killing is normal. But mutilating bodies is not acceptable." He added that the Americans used the incident as an excuse to attack Fallujah. I asked him if they would shoot at US troops should they re-enter the city. "Let me ask you this," he said, "if someone invades your house, will you just stand by?"
TOMORROW: All power to the sheikh
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PART 4: All power
to the sheikh
On Friday, March 14, I pulled up to the mosque of Sheikh Dhafer al-Ubeidi, a key cleric in organizing the resistance in Fallujah, along with Abdallah Janabi. Hadhra Mosque lies inconspicuously across the street from the Rahma Hospital, where two days before I had attended a poetry festival staged to celebrate US forces pulling out of the city after a month-long siege. Fallujah is known as medinat al-masajid or the city of mosques, for its 80 mosques, but Hadhra Mosque is small and modest compared with others in the city, its colors faded, its dome small. But if there is a final authority for the resistance in Iraq, a command and control center, this is it.
I had been warned that Dhafer ran the city, and to operate in it I would need his "clearance". Other journalists who had not done so were held up by armed gangs. A writer for a leading US newspaper was caught at a checkpoint attempting to disguise his face with a woman's black veil. Another writer for a top US magazine was held after coming out of the marine base in an armored car, with an armed driver, bulletproof vest, US passport with Israeli stamps and a receipt from the Israeli-Jordanian border crossing in his pocket. My contact in Fallujah was asked by Dhafer to confirm whether these and other foreigners held by local militias were in fact journalists. I was hoping to get a piece of paper from the sheikh that would be a license to work in the city.
As I got out of the car in front of the mosque, a big explosion shook the city, and in the distance I could see a large mushroom cloud growing, and then being dispersed by the wind. Probably a mortar converted into a roadside bomb. The police car in front of the mosque veered off to take a look. On the tall fence lining the mosque, a banner announced, "Sunnis and Shi'ites are committed to defeating the Zionist plan." It did not explain what plan was being referred to; apparently the locals already knew. The white paint was peeling off of the rusted gate. A sign above the gate bore the title al-Hadhra Muhamadia Mosque and Madrassa (religious school). The mosque's manar, or tower, was damaged from a US shell.
Leaflets and announcements were taped on to the gate. One said that "the fatwa [religious verdict] council asks for pictures and evidence of occupation forces violating human rights and any attack on our values and our Islamic symbols. Please give them to the council in the Hadhra Mosque." Another one contained a long verse dedicated to a man martyred by the Americans. An announcement from the Telecommunications Ministry reminded people not to pay telephone repairmen, who were salaried by the ministry. Another one from the qaimaqamia (an old Ottoman word for "city hall") instructed people about what documents they should bring "to receive compensation for martyrs, and wounded people, and damaged vehicles". A similar one asked the families of martyrs to go to the courts to get a death certificate and then to the hospital to get additional proof of death in order to process their compensation claims.
Finally an announcement from the Mujahideen Council declared that "imams [mosque leaders] are responsible for their mosques and the mujahideen have no rights to interfere in mosques after today". It added that "some thieves go to markets, confiscating goods and money and consider themselves mujahideen, but they are liars and we ask the people of the city of mosques to catch these people and educate them [forcefully] and the mujahideen will support them to prevent strife in our city".
Past the security guards a tall palm tree provided a bit of shade on the path to the mosque's office. The windows of the mosque and its offices were still crossed with tape to prevent shattering from fighting. Inside the office I found an acquaintance I had known in Baghdad a year before, Taghlub al-Alusi, a gentle elderly man, tall and dignified, with sharp lines on his face. He was born on Alus, an island in the Euphrates River to the north, but he had lived in Fallujah for 42 years until moving to the United Arab Emirates in the late 1990s, where he worked as an engineer.
I had met Taghlub in Baghdad's Sunni stronghold Adhamiya on a visit to the offices of the National Unity Movement, a party established by Iraq's most famous living Sunni thinker, Dr Ahmad Kubeisi. Kubeisi's movement had been the great hope of Iraq's Sunnis, and I had followed it closely since he returned from a self-imposed exile in the UAE that had started in 1998 and ended with a triumphal Friday sermon in the Abu Hanifa Mosque, Iraq's main Sunni mosque, in Baghdad's Adhamiya district. For this sermon, hundreds of people had stood and knelt barefoot outside the packed mosque. On top of its walls young men held banners proclaiming "one Iraq, one people", "we reject foreign control", "Sunnis are Shi'ites and Shi'ites are Sunnis, we are all one", "all the believers are brothers", and similar proclamations of national unity.
Kubeisi's sermon that followed prayers was unique for its nationalism. Baghdad had been occupied by the Mongols, he said, referring to the sacking of the capital of the Muslim world in 1258. Now new Mongols were occupying Baghdad and they were creating divisions between Sunnis and Shi'ites. However, the Shi'ites and Sunnis were one and they should remain united and reject foreign control. They had all suffered together as one people under Saddam Hussein's rule. Saddam oppressed all Iraqis and then he abandoned them to suffer.
I continued following Kubeisi after he formed his unity movement. Last summer he spoke in Baghdad, condemning the attacks against American soldiers because they were premature and should not begin until it was seen whether or not the Americans acted on their promise to leave as soon as possible. Kubeisi admitted that Sunnis were pushed aside because the United States viewed them as hostile and that the Shi'ites were the temporary victors. Speaking in Samara last summer, Kubeisi prohibited attacks against Americans. "We waited 35 years under Saddam and we should give the Americans a year before we fight them and tell them to leave," he said. Kubeisi was based in the UAE state of Dubai and traveled back and forth between there and Baghdad. According to his supporters, he was informed by the Americans that he would be denied re-entry to Iraq.
Taghlub, my acquaintance, had worked with Kubeisi's movement for three months, but left because "I found them inefficient". He told me Kubeisi was now "sleeping in Dubai" after being threatened by the now-defunct Iraqi Governing Council, the Americans and the armed Badr Brigade of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Taghlub's son Mohammed was a religious student in the mosque and helped his father in administering it. When I mentioned Kubeisi's movement he shook his head. "It was a failure," he said. Taghlub's older brother, Sheikh Hisham al-Alusi, had once led Hadhra Mosque, but after being seriously injured in an assassination attempt he was confined to a wheelchair and was too feeble to move on his own, so he appointed Dhafer as his replacement. According to a Coalition Provisional Authority official who met with Taghlub often when Taghlub led the negotiations that ended in US forces withdrawing and handing power over to Fallujans, Taghlub was a leader of the resistance in Fallujah.
Removing my shoes and leaving them by the door, I was escorted into a sparse office and seated on an old sofa. I was offered a glass of water. Taghlub completed his conversations with callers and sat close to me, the deep lines on his face giving him an even more distressed look than normal. He was very worried about the Americans having entered Karbala that day. "It's holy for us too," he said of the shrine city containing the tombs of Hussein and Abbas, two of the Prophet Mohammed's grandchildren. "They are our forefathers," he explained, rejecting any hint of Sunni-Shi'ite conflict.
A continuous stream of visitors came to see the town leaders present in the office, to ask for help and hold whispered conversations. Abdel Basit Turki, the former interim human rights minister, entered with a small entourage, including three clerics from Samara and a local tribal sheikh. Dressed in an elegant suit, the tall man had come to pay his respects and receive the gratitude of the town's leaders. Turki is from western Iraq, born in Haditha, a town to the north of Fallujah, though when I asked him where he was from he only smiled and said, "I am an Iraqi."
Turki was an economics professor who never left Iraq under Saddam's regime. He served as minister from August 30, 2003, until April 8 this year, when he resigned to protest US actions in Fallujah. "I resigned because the American military used force to solve problems that could be solved by referring to the Iraqi people," he told me, adding, "Their attitude to the Iraqi citizens makes the future of human rights in Iraq insecure." He complained about "Americans using Apaches to raid Sadr City, besieging Fallujah and even using fighter jets against the city, converting homes into mass graves. As minister of human rights I had to resign to show the people I identified with them." He complained that his challenge had been twofold, dealing with "the former regime's human-rights violations and the violations resulting from the occupation by foreign troops. My main challenge [is] to educate people about human rights during an occupation. You cannot educate people about human rights when they are being bombed and killed." He added that he had received pressure from the Americans to deal only with human-rights violations of the previous regime.
Turki's companion, Sheikh Ahmad, from the mosque of Risala al-Muhamdia in Samara, a city to the north of Baghdad, had also come to pay his respects to Iraq's first liberated city. "What happened in Fallujah is expected to happen in other cities in Iraq," he told me, predicting an intifada shaabia (people's uprising). "All the people of Iraq will erupt in revolution, and at that moment it will make no difference if you are Sunni or Shi'ite," he said.
A 12-year-old boy entered the room, to the delight of the mosque's leadership. They introduced him as Saad, a brave boy who had fought as a capable sniper during the battle with the Americans. He was hugged and kissed by all the men in the room, who congratulated him for being a batal, or hero. Already a seasoned scrapper, he smiled proudly, and thanked them in a hoarse adult voice with the confidence of a grown man. He was insolent to the older and bigger boys, who seemed scared of him. I was nervous around him too - he reminded me of a rabid pit bull. After prayers I saw him lingering outside the mosque, slinging a Kalashnikov with the magazine inside, providing security.
Sheikh Hisham al-Alusi was wheeled in and the men came over to kiss him on the head, and praise Allah for his recovery. He explained that he had been shot three months before. "They shot 30 bullets at me, but only one entered my body," he explained. It was his first day back at the mosque, and Dhafer deferred to him, letting him take the desk. Hisham was pale and spoke in a whisper. He had been a member of the US-backed town council and had eschewed incitements of violence. Two masked men in a car pulled up next to him when he was leaving the Hadhra Mosque and shot him. The people in the mosque told me he had been shot by the resistance, apparently either out of a desire to hide the fina, or internal strife in their community, very typical of Muslim clerics, or simply to pin the blame on the Americans. When I confronted a source about having been lied to, he told me implausibly that the assailants were in fact US agents.
Soon after, General Jassim Mohammed Salih of the Fallujah Brigade walked in, wearing a white dishdash and white scarf. After exchanging greetings with the guests in the increasingly crowded office, he briefed them on the latest political events, barking gruffly in clipped military style, his jowls shaking, as he fingered yellow prayer beads. "I spoke to Brahimi yesterday and he says hi to all of you," he said, referring to United Nations representative to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi. He then defended the need for the Fallujah army he did or did not command, depending on whether one listens to Fallujans or Americans. "Everybody else has militias and it's not called terrorism," he said, "but when an army defends its city this is called terrorism." Jassim stressed the central role of the army, explaining that "the army is the people's, not Saddam's, and anybody who comes in and attacks the institution of the army finds half a million people carrying guns against him". "Even Saddam," smiled Dhafer. I left to allow the unofficial town council to meet in private.
Returning to the mosque for Friday prayers, I removed my shoes again and walked over the prayer mats spread outside to accommodate the crowds overflowing from inside the mosque, and sat in the small garden beneath a palm tree. Taghlub's son Mohammed informed me that I was not allowed to record Dhafer's khutba, or sermon. "It is a special khutba for the people of Fallujah only," he explained. It was the first time in 13 months in Iraq that I had been told not to record a sermon.
Dhafer stood at the mosque's pulpit and from outside I could only hear him on the loudspeakers. His raspy voice was angry and high-pitched from the beginning. As is the convention, Dhafer began with a general discussion of religion, then became increasingly specific and political. "We told you last Friday and we are still telling you that after God gives you victory and safety you have to fight fitna," (internal strife, the greatest evil in the Islamic community). Using an interesting metaphor since Islam prohibits card-playing, he told his followers, "We have seen all of our enemy's cards." He condemned the Iraqi Governing Council members "who sit with the Americans".
"Everybody hates America now because of the policies of President [George W] Bush," he said, "and his own people condemn him, so what can we do? What can we say? What are the limits of our response? What are the rights of the Iraqi people?" He then answered his queries, saying there was no action the Iraqis could not take against the Americans. "They slaughtered the Geneva Accords that we were insisting upon every Friday in our mosques, and they killed human rights. This is the tragedy of the Islamic world that we experience here in Iraq, but the gates of victory for all the Islamic world have been opened in Fallujah and victory will never stop as our Prophet has predicted. All the world can recognize now that Fallujah beat the US. This is Islam our religion and state, this is the Islam of Mohammed." Dhafer warned that "after the enemy lost his battle with us he has begun planting strife and spreading rumors".
Referring to an issue of great concern in the city, as demonstrated by one of the leaflets on the mosque's gate, Dhafer turned to the unruly mujahideen. "Some people are surprised sometimes with mistakes that some people make," he said, "but I swear by God the mujahideen are innocent from those mistakes. It's a big shame on some people who claim they are mujahideen yet they make many checkpoints in several places and steal cars or kidnap people in those places. They are not mujahideen. It looks like they were educated by our enemies [the Americans]. They went into a neighborhood in our city and they did what the Americans did, forcing people to lie on the ground, spreading their legs and putting their feet on their heads: what religion is this?" Dhafer urged the mujahideen to be more pious.
Alluding to the extrajudicial killings of alleged spies for the Americans, whom he called "the traitors who sold their religion and their honor and their land and they became apostates", the sheikh reminded his people that "the accused is innocent until proven guilty". He urged people to support the town's security forces. "The police must take more authority than they have until now," he said. "Policemen should not be lazy and civil defense should do their jobs, as should the elected army." Dhafer concluded with a prayer for the mujahideen and martyrs in Najaf and Karbala.
TOMORROW: The tongue of the mujahideen
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PART 5: The tongue of the mujahideen
After listening to a sermon by Sheikh Dhafer al-Ubeidi, a key cleric in organizing the resistance in Fallujah, the next day I returned to the mosque for a formal interview with the 37-year-old sheikh. A bevy of bony young boys hung around the mosque for no apparent reason, but were always available on command to fetch tea or water for guests. The oldest among them, a lanky, grinning 17-year-old named Ala, had been part of a delegation sent by Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia, the army of the Mahdi, during the fighting in Fallujah that ended in May with the withdrawal of US forces.
Ala was from Baghdad's Sadr City and had worked during the fighting in the mosque's infirmary, helping the wounded. I asked him why he had come to Fallujah. "It's my country and this is also my city," he said. He was the mosque mascot, a representative of the Shi'ite mukawama, or resistance, that had helped Fallujahns in their battle, cutting American supply lines near Abu Ghraib. Former and current mujahideen stood by a fence. Muscular young men, some still with bandages covering wounds from the fighting, pulled up on Jawa motorcycles, popular with the former regime's Praetorian Guard.
Sheikh Dhafer was waiting inside for me. He would be interviewing me as well, to decide if I should be given permission to visit and work in Fallujah. The sheikh was respected for having vocally criticized Saddam Hussein, resulting in several occasions of imprisonment, but Saddam never dared execute him because he was from Fallujah. A friend of Dhafer's described him to me as "the tongue of the mujahideen", meaning he was their voice. Dhafer was the director of Aman al-ulia Lilifta, the high council for fatwas, or religious verdicts, of Fallujah. Fallujah's leading cleric, the aging Abdallah Janabi, was known as the emir, or prince, of Fallujah. As head of the Mujahideen Council, he had given Dhafer authority over the city and its fighters.
Dhafer has a wide nose and long narrow eyes that disappeared whenever he smiled, which was often, covered by round cheeks. When I asked him if he was the real leader of Fallujah, Dhafer smiled disingenuously. "I am just a simple member of the city who lived through all the suffering of Fallujah," he said. I told him I had heard he was the architect of the victory over the Americans and he grinned proudly but whispered, "Don't mention that for my security."
Dhafer admitted that he belonged to the unofficial City Consultative Council of which Taghlub al-Alusi was the head. He refused to tell me how many members the council had or who they were, but he did tell me it had a core of about 50 professionals, tribal and religious leaders and "those who stayed in the city", meaning mujahideen. When I pressed him for details about the council he laughed and squinted at me suspiciously. "What are these intelligence questions you ask me?" he said. The council appointed the team that negotiated with the Americans for a ceasefire after a month-long siege and ratified the selection of the Ba'athist officers who were placed in charge of the city's security. During negotiations, Dhafer admitted to me, he would meet with the teams and follow events. In reality, all the members were appointed with his approval and they returned to him for acceptance of the accord they reached with the Marines.
"They must withdraw from all of Fallujah, including the neighboring villages," he told me. Not satisfied with limiting the liberation to Fallujah proper, he sought to extend it to the surrounding villages, several hundred thousand more people and a much wider zone of freedom. Like all Fallujahns, he viewed time as before or after "the events". "Before April 4," he said, "the first day of the siege, all of Fallujah was closed by American troops without us knowing about it. The American administration said the siege would not open until we got the people who killed the four [US] contractors." He told me the Americans had pictures of two men alleged to have led the mob that killed them and then desecrated their bodies. "How can you punish a whole city for two men we don't even know?" he asked, adding that the city's religious leaders had condemned the mutilations (though not the killings of course).
Dhafer said that "the casualties of tanks, mortars, aircraft and everything in their arsenal, without counting the people under the destroyed buildings, was 1,200 wounded, 586 martyrs, of whom 158 were women and 86 were children". By the time fighting was over, Fallujah hospital officials would claim that up to 1,000 people had been killed, mostly women and children. At least 500 were still buried in the city's two main soccer fields and others in people's gardens. "Now all people in the world know that the US administration has no honor," Dhafer said.
Though I knew from others in the mosque that Dhafer had commanded foreign fighters in Fallujah, he denied the presence of any, telling me that "everybody knows Fallujah was the main source for the former army and its officers, including high-ranking officers, so many sent their families out and stayed to fight. This is why the American Marines that managed to destroy several South American countries in hours could not even destroy the Julan neighborhood of Fallujah. We believe God was involved in the fighting. We know we did not have equal power, but God was on our side. They demoralized us with their power and we demoralized them by shouting 'God is great' from the same mosques they were shooting at." I had seen at least four damaged manars, or mosque towers, in the city. "We demand that the manars not be repaired so that generations remember what they did."
Someone entered the office and whispered in the sheikh's ear that the Americans were approaching the city. He left hurriedly to see what was going on, so I spoke to Colonel Sabar Fadhil al-Janabi, chief of Fallujah's police force, known as the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, or ICDC, who had come to complain to Dhafer about the problems he was having with the mujahideen and seek his help. The 49-year-old former military officer had been in the police for the past nine months, but only took over control during "the events" of April. The police were involved in defending the city against the Americans, he told me, as well as evacuating wounded people and preserving law and order. He refused to answer questions about the number of police under his command, and when I pressed him he smiled and said, "This is an intelligence question," explaining that the Americans did not know and were trying to find out. He would not even provide me with a rough figure, except to say, "We have enough."
The colonel had come to seek Dhafer's assistance with the main problem he was facing. "The people wearing kafiyas who are above the law," he said, meaning the scarf-clad mujahideen. They were mistreating his forces. He asked Dhafer for his help and support in establishing the authority of his policemen. Outside, his men waited for him in civilian clothing with walkie-talkies and Kalashnikovs. They were new, replacing the old police who had fled.
Though I repeatedly tried to meet General Jassim Mohammed Salih of the Fallujah Brigade in private, I was told he was out of Fallujah in a nearby secure village, away from the mujahideen who sought to kill him. I visited another officer, General Mohammed Saleh's headquarters several times, and was told every time that he was not present, though I could see his car and driver inside. Outside his headquarters, six of his soldiers languished in a pick-up truck with its doors open to let in the breeze, should there be any. They were listening to a tape of an angry cleric sermonizing against the Americans. On the walls outside the headquarters someone had written "Allah is great, come to the jihad!" Instead of meeting the generals I talked to some of the soldiers under their command, guarding a roundabout near the train tracks. A dozen soldiers were wearing at least half a dozen different types of uniforms from the old army, though none had boots, and they wore dusty leather dress shoes instead. They told me that they did not all have boots when they served under the previous regime, and some had to buy their own boots in the market.
One man wore a jungle-patterned uniform belonging to Saddam's special forces, others had several shades of olive and khaki, as well as the old Republican Guard uniform. They mocked one man for wearing an American Army-issued uniform with the "chocolate chip" pattern, but he vehemently denied it was American, insisting it was an old Iraqi desert uniform. They were proud of their old uniforms, their lieutenant explaining to me, "We are not Saddam's army. We are soldiers for Islam and for the defense of the city." Another agreed, explaining, "We did not volunteer for Saddam but for the defense of the city and country." They had all belonged to the army before the occupation, and lost their jobs when US proconsul L Paul Bremer dismissed the army in May of 2003. They had joined the new Fallujah army when General Jassim formed it.
I asked them what they would do if Americans crossed the railroad tracks and entered the city. "They won't enter the city," I was told sharply. "We will shoot them," said another. Another man elaborated, "If Americans come inside the city we will fight them again." The lieutenant explained that "we have direct orders to fight the Americans without referring to our commanders first for permission".
Though they were currently an army belonging to the city of Fallujah, they admitted that "if the ministry of defense is formed under the authority of the Iraqi people we will join it". They saw themselves as a model for the rest of the country. "All the governorates and cities are trying to do what we did," one said to me, "we are an example." They were the first to achieve liberation, they explained, because "Fallujah is the mother of mosques and we are committed to our religion and united. Fallujahns are used to being independent and dignified. Our dignity is the most important thing to us." They were also the best-fed army in Iraqi history, with a pile of finished dishes on the grass beside them. Dhafer's Hadhra Mosque paid families to cook food for the soldiers and deliver it to them.
The following day I visited the mosque and found a new man sitting behind the desk. Haji Qasim, a former army intelligence officer, served as Taghlub's representative on an advisory council, and was, they told me "Sheikh Dhafer's right-hand man". Qasim, who received the honorific "Haji" after making the pilgrimage to Mecca, was also the founder of Fallujah's Center for the Study of Democracy and Human Rights, formed in January 2004, though in my visits I never found him studying either, only running the mosque's affairs with his assistant, Mohammed Tarik, the 32-year-old executive director of the center and a member of the town council. Tarik was a professor of the agriculture department of Anbar University, having received a master's degree in bio-technology from Baghdad University, but everybody in the mosque called him "doctor". Tarik had been present during the fighting, providing an administrative and management role for the fighters and aid workers. He admitted to me that the mosque had been a center for the mujahideen where the defense of the city was organized.
As we were talking, a fit-looking teenager on crutches hobbled in morosely. He wore a soccer uniform, but his training pants had a hole for the screws coming out of his right thigh. He had come to pick up forms from Qasim to receive compensation. An American helicopter had shot him in his car. When he saw me, a foreigner, he turned incandescent. He demanded to know who I was, what my identity was, and Tarik got up to whisper in his ear. The young man threw his forms down and walked out. The other men apologized uncomfortably, explaining what happened to him while Tarik went to talk to him.
While I was waiting for Tarik to return, 11 policemen stormed in and angrily complained to Qasim about not being paid and about the dismissal of some officers they respected. They said they were representing 351 policemen and demanded higher salaries. "Aren't you a journalist?" they shouted at me. "Record this!" Following them, a man whose car had been confiscated by the mujahideen came to complain. He had come to deliver aid from the Abu Hanifa mosque in Baghdad when it was stolen from him. Qasim made a call and told the man where to go to pick up his car.
TOMORROW: Mean and clean streets
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PART 6: Mean and clean streets
Pulling up to the Hadhra Mosque headed by Sheikh Dhafer al-Ubeidi, a key cleric in the Fallujah resistance, shortly after noon prayers were over one Friday, I saw several dozen armed Fallujah Brigade soldiers, police and civilians crowded before the entrance. Some were looking inside an old car. Several more soldiers and police were guarding the gate, and there were more inside. The guard, Ahmad, was my friend and greeted me wearing a new black-and-white keffiye around his head like a bandanna. Several police approached and said "No journalists," but Ahmad said, "No, he is a friend," and ushered me into the guard room. I noticed several soldiers and policemen standing by the door to Dhafer's office. I recognized the same assistant to the chief of police I had noticed on previous visits. I asked Ahmad what was going on, did something happen? "Oh, it's nothing," he said, "a simple thing. We arrested two spies, they're British or maybe German."
I peered through the window trying to see what was going on, armed men rushed about busily. A few minutes later Ahmad knocked on the door. "Okay, come," he said. I walked across to the office, removed my shoes and entered.
Taghlub al-Alusi, the head of the unofficial City Consultative Council, stepped out looking more worried than usual, and we greeted. The room was crowded with men standing and sitting, and at first I did not notice the woman sitting in a corner before tables full of food in foam "to go" containers. She was white, and young.
Colonel Sabar Fadhil al-Janabi, chief of Fallujah's police force, was seated across from her, his back to me. He greeted me warmly, a leg of chicken in his hand. I sat down beside them and smiled at the woman. A middle-aged white man emerged from the bathroom and sat next to her. Taghlub returned to his table and with another man began carefully examining every page of two German passports, turning them around and squinting. Sitting next to the colonel was a young man, I took him to be 18. He looked just like his father the colonel. When he stood up, I saw he had a pistol on his right waist and a walkie-talkie on the other side. He was only 16, he told me. Across, on the other side of the table, sat a short, round man with layers of tape covering his nose like a pig's snout, next to him was a baby-faced man in a tailored suit. "He's the qaimaqam," I was told, the mayor. He was rehearsing a statement, asking the elders for approval. An old man sat next to me and nodding toward the German man said, "He shouldn't have worn a dishdasha [robe], it was suspicious."
Uwe Sauerman, a very tall, pale 55-year-old freelance journalist and his assistant, Manya Schodche, 24, herself very pale, had driven to Fallujah that morning. After being warned not to go to Najaf because it was too dangerous, Uwe obeyed his hotel manager's instructions and took a dishdasha with him and set off with a driver and translator. On entering Fallujah, Uwe donned his dishdasha, but was seen doing so. The German couple were stopped at the checkpoint where four US contractors had earlier been killed after being spotted by young informants posing as street sellers. They were forced out at gunpoint by six armed men, one of them in a policeman's uniform, and accused of being an American general and female soldier. Soon a mob of hundreds surrounded them, including some of the same laborers who had killed the four contractors, beating them with shovels, sticks and rocks. A plastic bag was placed over Uwe's head. Manya was slapped around and severely handled. Their translator, a Christian from Baghdad, was called a traitor and collaborator. He wore a cross. His nose was broken and he was hit in the back of the neck with a machete.
Just before they were to be doused with gasoline, the police managed to drag them into their nearby station. The mob and mujahideen attacked the station, calling for their prisoners to be returned to them, and the police transferred the four to the Hadhra Mosque under heavy security. The mob surrounded Hadhra with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and Kalashnikovs. Abu Abdallah, a foreign leader of a mujahideen unit, marched in with his Kalashnikov demanding the return of the "American spies". The Fallujah Brigade and the police nearly engaged the mujahideen in a shootout.
That same day, the committee of leaders at Hadhra had decided to confront Abu Abdallah, hoping to disarm his unit, or at least subordinate it to their command. They received word that there were two dead American spies and Fallujah went into a state of alert, expecting a US attack. The two Germans were brought to the Hadhra office and interrogated. Once "the committee for the investigation of espionage" established that they were indeed German journalists, they received apologies and were ordered to eat.
Manya's face was swollen beneath her eyes and her shirt had blood speckles on it. Uwe's face was spotted with red bruises and he winced when he moved. He had a broken tooth. His hands were trembling. The fear and tension from whatever had transpired in this room still lingered, and they were contagious. I realized my heart was racing. The translator with tape on his nose was dabbing it continuously, wiping the blood that was dripping from it. He came to sit next to us. The mayor told him, "If you don't eat I'll be angry." He answered in a nasal voice as if someone was pinching his nose, "I can't, I'll throw up." The colonel, with a mouth full of food, commanded Uwe, "Eat, eat!" Uwe obeyed.
Uwe and Manya were ordered into a nearby office where local stringers from alJazeera and al-Arabiya television networks, who had been called in, were preparing their cameras to film the mayor's press statement. They seated the Germans on a sofa on either side of the mayor, who explained that on that morning an old Iraqi car entered the city with two foreigners dressed in Arabic clothing, the man in a dishdasha and the woman in a hejab (veil). "The way they entered was suspicious and illegal," he said, "and they were brought here to the good people of the mosque." He displayed their German passports and urged all the foreign journalists to check in with the mayor's office or the police if they entered the city. "We welcome all foreign press here," he said, "Fallujah is a peaceful city, the quietest city in Iraq." The two Germans sat in a mute stupor next to him as Taghlub looked on in weary boredom.
Uwe was told he could make a statement. "When I saw the pictures of American attacks on Fallujah I decided to go to Fallujah," he said in a thick German accent, "to take pictures of the city and ask the victims of these attacks what happened to them and how are their lives. In my hotel in Baghdad they advised me to wear a dishdasha because it is better and I will be safer. Somebody shouted 'Amerikaner! Amerikaner!' and then people came, and you know what happened next? Men with guns put a bag on my head like the Americans do and I didn't see anymore. Then I was in an empty house and they interrogated me and after a while I convinced them I am a German and friend of the Iraqi people, not an American, and they were very friendly. I would like to come again to show the German people what happened in Fallujah so I will try to come tomorrow."
The mayor shook Uwe's hand before the camera and told both Germans they were welcome. Uwe was then ordered to recant his statement comparing the behavior of the mob to the Americans, and he readily complied. "When I said they used a plastic bag," he said, "it doesn't mean that we have to compare you the people of Fallujah to the Americans. I only meant that the plastic bag itself reminded me of the Americans." Uwe was told to hold his dishdasha for the cameras and then the press conference ended. Saad, a young sniper, was serving refreshments. He asked me if Manya was Uwe's daughter or his girlfriend. He didn't understand how a woman could be traveling with a man not related to her. "Just give me five minutes alone with her," he told me with a wistful smile.
Under heavy protection, Uwe and Manya were loaded into the mayor's car. A convoy of six cars, including two pickup trucks loaded with multi-colored Fallujah Brigade fighters with their Kalashnikovs at the ready, headed out. Once they exited town the convoy halted and the armed men emerged. For a moment I thought they would execute them. But they only reshuffled their men and continued to Baghdad. The Fallujah Brigade soldiers returned home. The convoy pulled up to the heavily fortified German Embassy in Baghdad's Mansour district an hour later and was greeted by bewildered German security guards. At first the guards only permitted Manya, Uwe and the mayor in. Chief of police Janabi was very offended and puffed his cheeks, threatening to go home. I pulled aside the security guard and explained to him that it was better to let the police chief in as well and he relented.
Dhafer, and two generals, had all been in the mosque prior to my arrival, but were hastily moved out for their own safety due to concerns about the mujahideen that also led to the deployment of nearly 20 Fallujah Brigade members to protect the convoy taking the Germans to Baghdad. It was clear to the men in the committee that the rogue mujahideen had to be pacified, Dhafer wasn't even safe in his own mosque.
Taghlub and the men were very upset - they nearly lost control of the town and their own power. If the Germans had been killed, the Americans would surely have returned. The foreign mujahideen based in the Julan neighborhood were proving especially recalcitrant. They were harassing Iraqis for smoking cigarettes and even for drinking water using their left hand, considered impure. They had banned alcohol, Western films, makeup, hairdressers, "behaving like women", ie homosexuality, and even dominoes in the coffee houses. Men found publicly drunk had been flogged and I was told of a dozen men beaten and imprisoned for selling drugs. Islamic courts were being established in association with mujahideen units and mosque leaders, meting out punishment consistent with the Koran. Erstwhile Ba'ath Party members told me they were expiating the sins of their former secularism, and Ba'ath ideology had now become Islamist. An assistant to the mayor confirmed that there were Islamic courts with their own qadis, or judges, who acted independently of the police. He added that all the spies had already been killed, "but before we killed them we made sure they were spies". He was concerned about "the mujahideen who do not know Sheikh Dhafer and the men of the Hadhra", the foreigners and uncooperative mujahideen who sought to expand the liberated zone beyond Fallujah.
TOMORROW, the concluding article: Radicals in the ashes of democracy.
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PART 7: Radicals in the ashes of democracy

The day two German journalists, Uwe Sauerman and Manya Schodche, nearly experienced sahel, the Iraqi lynching made famous by the death in Fallujah of four American contractors employed by US company Blackwater, the city's Mujahideen Council banned all journalists from the city and warned that those who entered might be killed.
Fallujah was still a safe haven for the mujahideen, including foreign fighters who were supporting the resistance. Video compact discs (VCDs) with footage of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Shi'ite fighters battling Americans in Nasiriyah were sold in Fallujah, alongside propaganda films for Sunni resistance groups based in Fallujah, such as Ansar al-Sunna and the Iraqi Islamic Army, with a cheerful reggae-like beat accompanying victorious Islamic music. Young foreign fighters from Saudi Arabia and other countries were shown giving testimonies before going out on suicide operations. The VCDs depicted various operations conducted by the resistance, primarily against US military targets, as well as various crimes of the occupation, destroyed homes, abusing prisoners, and a lot of bloody dead people accompanied by mournful chanting Islamic music.
The VCDs glorified martyred fighters, claiming they died smiling and smelling sweet - though I did not find that to be the case - they listed operations, and they displayed a lot of captured booty from attacks. One scene depicted a large spread on the carpet of what was clearly a Sunni tribal leader's guest hall or diwan, containing what appeared to be the contents of the two vehicles belonging to the four Blackwater men, many weapons, communication devices, electronic airplane itineraries printed off the Internet, identity cards, supermarket discount cards, plane tickets, anything one would expect to find in the pockets of a high-paid US contractor.
At one point the Ansar al-Sunna production showed the Spanish passports and other belongings of what it claimed were Spanish intelligence agents killed in Mansour last November. I even received two thick monthly newsletters from the Saladin Victory Group, a mujahideen unit, which included articles, poems and lists of all their operations. The mujahideen wanted to continue the battle, even after the June 28 handover of sovereignty. "As long as the Americans are in Iraq we will fight," they said. Radical Fallujan clerics had admitted to a Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) official I spoke to that the Fallujah settlement "is an opportunity to secure themselves and be sovereign and expand the liberation". If the Americans could not quell the rebellion, surely no Iraqi force would be able to, and the victory in Fallujah had only encouraged the resistance throughout Iraq.
Hijackings and kidnappings continued apace. Two trucks with furniture owned by a foreign company that supplied the Americans were hijacked near Fallujah. They were headed to the Americans' al-Fau base. A man from Fallujah came to the company headquarters and told them they could have the trucks back for money, as long as the merchandise was not bound for the Americans. A terrified representative from the company handled the negotiations, which went through the influential Sheikh Abdallah Janabi. Janabi's men were very upset about thieves giving the mujahideen a bad reputation and swore they would kill the thieves, though eventually the trucks were returned for US$4,000.
On June 9, 12 members of the Fallujah Brigade were killed in a mortar attack on their camp at the edge of town. On June 10, a Lebanese worker and two Iraqi colleagues had been captured on the highway near Fallujah. Their bodies were found two days later. Their throats had been slit. Brigadier Mark Kimmitt, the spokesman for the CPA, announced that the CPA was not satisfied with the performance of the Fallujah Brigade and implied that the marines might have to enter the city again. A small patrol did so on June 14. The next day, the marines, who said they had "prepared for a battle reminiscent of Mogadishu", had instead found that Iraqi police and soldiers turned out in full force to ensure the patrol wasn't tampered with as they passed the sand-filled barriers into the city.
Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and police lined the streets as if it were a parade. The marines stayed in town for three hours, while their officers met with city authorities, discussing reparations for the damage caused during the month-long siege and the release of prisoners from CPA prisons. The following day it was reported that six Shi'ite truck drivers carrying supplies to the Fallujah Brigade had been seized by the mujahideen, tortured and murdered, at the behest, so the families claimed, of Janabi, who denied it, adding that the Shi'ites had been working with the Americans and selling them alcohol, and had been warned to stop. Starting June 19, the Americans initiated a policy of bombing Fallujah from the skies every few days, killing scores of civilians, but claiming the strikes were targeting members of Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's network.
The following Friday, hundreds of Fallujan men attended a large demonstration after noon prayers. They were angry at being accused of harboring Zarqawi and of murdering the Shi'ite truck drivers. Janabi denied involvement again, blaming it on "those who try to make fitna [sectarian strife] between the Iraqis", but he also said the slain Shi'ites came in on US military vehicles. The crowd and speakers chanted in support of Muqtada in appreciation of his Iraqi nationalism and defiance of the Americans. The crowd denied that Zarqawi was in Fallujah, and a young cleric shouted angrily that "we don't need Zarqawi's help in Fallujah to defend our mosques and homes" because "the people of Fallujah have men that love death like the kafir [infidel] love life", meaning they had plenty of men who seek martyrdom fighting the Americans. The crowd erupted in cheers of "Allahu akbar!" ("God is great"). Huge banners supporting the Association of Islamic Scholars, which led the resistance units, were prominently displayed. The mayor of Fallujah was interviewed on alJazeera television and he denied that the six Shi'ites had even been killed in his city.
Police in Fallujah complained about Janabi's excessive power. He was emerging from behind the scenes where he had previously hidden, no longer merely delegating authority to Sheikh Dhafer al-Ubeidi, but actively involving himself in the city's affairs. A friend of mine met with the Fallujah police. The mujahideen in Fallujah expected the marines, who were massed outside the city, to invade, so Janabi called for a preemptive attack.
After negotiations with the marines, it was Janabi's mosque of Saad bin Waqqas that announced the new truce in May that ended the month-long siege of the city. In an interview for Asia Times Online, Janabi predicted that resistance activities would continue against the new Iraqi government of Iyad Allawi. He expected the new government to take its orders from the Americans and warned of increased resistance attacks and a possible civil war. The Association of Islamic Scholars was at war with the occupation, he said, because the new government rejected Islam. Janabi praised Muqtada for being a nationalist and for fighting the occupation. "We have a good relationship with him," he said.
In late July, the leadership in Fallujah met with foreign fighters in their city and expelled about 25 of them, including Syrians, Jordanians and Saudis. Several resistance groups, including the Army of Mohammed, the Victorious Assad Allah Squadron, Islamic Wrath and others issued a joint declaration that was posted on mosques and in the streets of Fallujah calling for the blood of Zarqawi to be spilled. In the statement, the many groups called for Zarqawi's head to be cut off just as he had cut off the head of his hostages, an act the declaration said was against Islam and the Iraqi resistance. The declaration also declared their friendship with Iraqi Shi'ites and called for cooperation with the new Iraqi government led by Allawi. That same week, demonstrators in Fallujah called for their homes to be rebuilt with money from Iraq's oil revenue. That same day, US planes bombed yet another house allegedly used by Zarqawi's network, killing 14 people.
My interest in the foreign mujahideen, in particular Saudis, finally became too dangerous even for me. My contact in Fallujah, himself a non-Iraqi seeking to join what he described as "al-Qaeda in the northern Anbar", encouraged me to go to the Julan neighborhood, which had been deemed by the local council to be off limits to foreigners, to meet Saudi fighters for al-Qaeda. My contact was to leave me there to go off "on a job". I began to wonder why al-Qaeda would be interested in meeting an American journalist. They are a secretive organization, interested only in reaching out to fellow Muslims for recruitment and in advertising their successes, such as the decapitation of US journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, I recalled. These were the resistance fighters who did not recognize the authority of Dhafer and his associates, and who threatened their lives for releasing the German journalists. An American was much more valuable. That night my contact brought two Iraqis working with the Saudis to meet me in my hotel unannounced. They barely greeted me, but looked me up and down with taciturn interest, as if examining merchandise. My contact's increasingly erratic behavior and confused statements insisting he trusted me and I should trust him convinced me that if I went to Fallujah again I would not return. I had been warned that my contact had turned, and was being pressured to turn over an American to make up for the lost Germans. I knew that the foreign fighters in Fallujah were embittered over the many hostages they had been pressured to release.
I left Iraq, flying out this time to avoid the checkpoints on Highway 10. The Royal Jordanian flight remained within the airport's limits for 15 minutes, circling up in sharp spirals until it reached an altitude at which it could safely fly over Fallujah and avoid being shot down by the resistance. Soon after, an al-Qaeda unit in Saudi Arabia calling itself the Fallujah Squadron began killing foreigners. The US war in Iraq, meant to democratize the region, had instead radicalized it, created a united front, with Fallujans fighting for the honor of Palestine, and Saudis fighting in the name of Fallujah.
(This is the concluding article in this series.)

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The Hawks and the Doves Are Aflutter over U.S. Iran Policy
By Danielle Pletka
Posted: Friday, July 23, 2004
Los Angeles Times
Publication Date: July 23, 2004
Every few years, with soothing regularity, a prominent research institution comes along to recommend that the United States reengage with Iran. The gist of such reports usually follows the same line: Isolation just isn't working; reformists (or sometimes they're called moderates or pragmatists) need Washington's help in the battle against hard-liners; the country is not (nor will it ever be) on the verge of a new revolution; and only relations with the U.S. will provide incentives for better behavior.
This week, it was the Council on Foreign Relations that sounded the call in a 79-page report from a task force chaired by former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and former CIA Director Robert M. Gates.
Given the seriousness of the threat Iran poses, fresh ideas from the Council on Foreign Relations and elsewhere are, of course, welcome. Iran, after all, is Terror Central: It has become an operational headquarters for parts of Al Qaeda, continues to sponsor Hezbollah and Hamas, and senior officials remain under indictment in U.S. court for masterminding the 1996 bombing in Saudi Arabia of the Khobar Towers military housing complex, in which 19 Americans died. According to U.S. and European officials, the regime also remains bent on acquiring nuclear weapons and is well down the road to doing so.
Clearly, U.S. policy in Iran has been a failure. Its problems have persisted notwithstanding four years of tough talk from the Bush administration, a continued embargo on U.S. investment and virtual diplomatic radio silence. It's time to try something new; on that much, we can agree with the pro-engagement groups.
But that's where our agreement ends. They insist, in the face of evidence to the contrary, that dialogue and trade would succeed where a hard line has failed. Yet dialogue and trade are the hallmarks of Europe's fruitless engagement of Iran. Neither European diplomatic outreach nor cordial trading relations have achieved results. Carrot-and-stick offers, like a proffered "trade and cooperation agreement" in exchange for a stand-down on nuclear proliferation, have also failed. Engagement is a proven bust.
The fact is, neither tough love nor tough talk will achieve results in Iran because decision-makers in the government--not just the so-called hard-liners but the "moderates" and "pragmatists" as well--are committed to supporting terrorism, developing nuclear weapons and annihilating Israel. Any opening from the U.S. will only lend credibility to that government and forever dash the hopes of a population that, according to reliable polls, despises its own leadership.
So what to do? President Bush has taken the first step by making clear that the Iranian clerical regime is anathema to the U.S. national security. But we're not likely to invade for a variety of practical reasons, among them a shortage of troops and an absence of targeting information about Iran's nuclear sites. Nor can we count on Iran's weary and miserable population to rise up unaided and overthrow its oppressors; virtually all analysts agree that's not about to happen.
Instead, a new three-part policy is needed.
First, the administration must ante up promised support for the Iranian people. Just as we supported Soviet dissidents, we must use the diplomatic and economic tools at our disposal to embarrass the regime for its abysmal human rights abuses, rally behind dissident student groups and unions and let them know that the U.S. supports their desire for a secular democratic state in Iran.
Second, the administration must persuade the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency to stand firm in their confrontation over Iran's nuclear program. Iran has made commitments to end the production and assembly of nuclear centrifuges. It has reneged on those promises, and the next step is for the IAEA to refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council. There is quiet talk of economic sanctions in European capitals; the EU must know that a failure to follow through would mean an Iranian nuclear weapon within a few years.
Finally, the U.S. must lead in the containment of Iran. Iranian weapons imports and exports should be interdicted; financial transfers to terrorists must be identified and confiscated; terrorists traveling into and out of Iran should be aggressively pursued and eliminated.
These steps would not deliver quick solutions, but they are the only rational course available to the U.S. and its allies. We have seen that engagement with the current leadership of Iran would not achieve policy change; all it would do is buy an evil regime the time it needs to perfect its nuclear weapons and to build a network of terrorists to deliver them.
Danielle Pletka is vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

Axis of Evil, Part Two
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, July 23, 2004; Page A29
Did we invade the wrong country? One of the lessons being drawn from the Sept. 11 report is that Iran was the real threat. It had links to al Qaeda, allowed some of the Sept. 11 hijackers to transit and is today harboring al Qaeda leaders. The Iraq war critics have a new line of attack: We should have done Iran instead of Iraq.
Well, of course Iran is a threat and a danger. But how exactly would the critics have "done" Iran? Iran is a serious country with a serious army. Compared with the Iraq war, an invasion of Iran would have been infinitely more costly. Can you imagine these critics, who were shouting "quagmire" and "defeat" when the low-level guerrilla war in Iraq intensified in April, actually supporting war with Iran?
If not war, then what? We know the central foreign policy principle of Bush critics: multilateralism. John Kerry and the Democrats have said it a hundred times: The source of our troubles is President Bush's insistence on "going it alone." They promise to "rejoin the community of nations" and "work with our allies."
Well, that happens to be exactly what we have been doing regarding Iran. And the policy is an abject failure. The Bush administration, having decided that invading one axis-of-evil country was about as much as either the military or the country can bear, has gone multilateral on Iran, precisely what the Democrats advocate. Washington delegated the issue to a committee of three -- the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany -- that has been meeting with the Iranians to get them to shut down their nuclear program.
The result? They have been led by the nose. Iran is caught red-handed with illegally enriched uranium, and the Tehran Three prevail upon the Bush administration to do nothing while they persuade the mullahs to act nice. Therefore, we do not go to the U.N. Security Council to declare Iran in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. We do not impose sanctions. We do not begin squeezing Iran to give up its nuclear program.
Instead, we give Iran more time to swoon before the persuasive powers of "Jack of Tehran" -- British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw -- until finally, humiliatingly, Iran announces that it will resume enriching uranium and that nothing will prevent it from becoming a member of the "nuclear club."
The result has not been harmless. Time is of the essence, and the runaround that the Tehran Three have gotten from the mullahs has meant that we have lost at least nine months in doing anything to stop the Iranian nuclear program.
The fact is that the war critics have nothing to offer on the single most urgent issue of our time -- rogue states in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Iran instead of Iraq? The Iraq critics would have done nothing about either country. There would today be two major Islamic countries sitting on an ocean of oil, supporting terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction -- instead of one.
Two years ago there were five countries supporting terrorism and pursuing these weapons -- two junior-leaguers, Libya and Syria, and the axis-of-evil varsity: Iraq, Iran and North Korea. The Bush administration has eliminated two: Iraq, by direct military means, and Libya, by example and intimidation.
Syria is weak and deterred by Israel. North Korea, having gone nuclear, is untouchable. That leaves Iran. What to do? There are only two things that will stop the Iranian nuclear program: revolution from below or an attack on its nuclear facilities.
The country should be ripe for revolution. The regime is detested. But the mullahs are very good at police-state tactics. The long-awaited revolution is not happening.
Which makes the question of preemptive attack all the more urgent. Iran will go nuclear during the next presidential term. Some Americans wishfully think that the Israelis will do the dirty work for us, as in 1981, when they destroyed Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor. But for Israel, attacking Iran is a far more difficult proposition. It is farther away. Moreover, detection and antiaircraft technology are far more advanced than they were 20 years ago.
There may be no deus ex machina. If nothing is done, a fanatical terrorist regime openly dedicated to the destruction of the "Great Satan" will have both nuclear weapons and the terrorists and missiles to deliver them. All that stands between us and that is either revolution or preemptive strike.
Both of which, by the way, are far more likely to succeed with 146,000 American troops and highly sophisticated aircraft standing by just a few miles away -- in Iraq.

? 2004 The Washington Post Company


Engagement Announcement
by Lawrence F. Kaplan
Only at TNR Online | Post date 07.23.04 E-mail this article
Oops, we invaded the wrong country. Or at least this is the impression created by the final report of the 9/11 Commission, which depicts Iran as a transit point for Al Qaeda members during the run up to September 11. It is an impression the Kerry team has done nothing to dispel. Kerry adviser Charles Kupchan says the news about Iran shows that "rather than focusing on Iraq, where there was no imminent threat to American security," the United States should have been more vigilant about Iran, "where we know there's a weapons of mass destruction program, there's a fundamentalist theocracy." In a similar vein, the report has prompted the Kerry campaign's Ann Lewis to complain that "Iran, over the last couple of years, has been moving forward toward getting a nuclear capacity--nuclear capability--and yet this administration's policy is hard to discern." She's right. The administration's Iran policy is hard to discern. Before they walk into a bind of their own devising, however, Kerry's advisers would do well to take a closer look at their own candidate's stance toward Iran. It is not hard to discern. But it is hard to defend.
At times, Kerry seems to be taking his cues from Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential run, sounding as though he's blasting his opponent from the right while he quietly offers up solutions from the left. Nowhere is this truer than in the case of Iran, where, when you strip away Kerry's hard-boiled rhetoric about preventing the country from acquiring a nuclear weapon, what the candidate offers is a facsimile of the Clinton-era policy of "engagement." Likening the Islamic Republic to a much less dangerous threat from long ago, Kerry seeks to "explore areas of mutual interest with Iran, just as I was prepared to normalize relations with Vietnam." Hence, Kerry says he "would support talking with all elements of the government," or, as his principal foreign policy adviser Rand Beers has elaborated, the United States must engage Iran's "hard-line element"--this, while the candidate tells The Washington Post he will downplay democracy promotion in the region. In fact, as part of this normalization process, Kerry has recommended hammering out a deal with Teheran a la the Clinton administration's doomed bargain with North Korea, whereby the United States would aid the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for safeguards that would presumably keep the program peaceful. To sweeten the deal, he has offered to throw in members of the People's Mujahedeen, the Iranian opposition group being held under lock and key by U.S. forces in Iraq.
Nor will you hear any of Kerry's foreign policy advisers calling for regime change in Iran, at least any time soon. Beers has long insisted on engaging the Islamic Republic, as have Kerry advisers Richard Holbrooke and Madeline Albright. So, too, have several big name contributors to the Kerry campaign from the Iranian-American community. Indeed, in 2002 Kerry delivered an address to an event sponsored by the controversial American Iranian Council, an organization funded by corporations seeking to do business in Iran and dedicated to promoting dialogue with the theocracy. In his eagerness to engage in this dialogue, of course, Kerry is hardly alone. The Council on Foreign Relations has just released a report calling for "systematic and pragmatic engagement" with Iran's mullahs, and the Atlantic Council is expected to release a report next month recommending the same.
Like these, Kerry's calls for a rapprochement with Teheran come at a rather inopportune moment. The very regime that Kerry demands we engage, after all, has just been certified as an Al Qaeda sanctuary--and by the very commission in which the Kerry campaign has invested so much hope. The report's finding, moreover, counts as only one of Teheran's sins. Lately its theocrats have been wreaking havoc in Iraq and Afghanistan, aiding America's foes along Iran's borders in the hopes of expanding their influence in both countries, even as they continue to fund Palestinian terror groups. Then, too, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has amassed a mountain of evidence pointing to Iranian violations of the Nonproliferation Treaty. With two nuclear power plants slated to go online in Iran, and IAEA inspectors stumbling across designs for sophisticated centrifuges, even the Europeans and the United Nations have nearly exhausted their efforts to engage the Islamic Republic.
So why hasn't anyone told John Kerry? To begin with, it's not so clear the Bush team has abandoned engagement, either. Deputy National Security Adviser Robert Blackwill refuses to surrender hopes for a nuclear deal, as does Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who lauds Iran as a "democracy." To be sure, the president vows Washington will side with Iran's pro-democracy movement and that the "development of a nuclear weapon in Iran is intolerable." But long gone from the administration's rhetoric is any talk of regime change. As with so much else, when it comes to Iran, the administration finds itself divided between hawks at the Defense Department and Undersecretary of State John Bolton, on the one hand, and America's diplomatic corps and National Security Council staffers, on the other.
Put another way, the administration has two Iran policies, and the result has been a mix of good and bad. Kerry, by contrast, boasts a single, coherent, and--to judge by the description of Teheran's activities in yesterday's report--utterly delusional Iran policy. Now, if only the Bush team could sort out its own, it might have an opportunity to draw a meaningful distinction.

Lawrence F. Kaplan is a senior editor at TNR.

Iran's Growing Threat
By Rachel Ehrenfeld | July 23, 2004
Recent events have made it clear that the threat posed by Iran should be dealt with sooner rather than later. Today's 9/11 Commission report documents extensive ties between Iran and terrorism, and the mullahs' drive to create a nuclear weapon is well known. In recent days, Iranian officials and clerics have increased the incitement for violence against American and Coalition forces in Iraq. However, ending the real threat this fundamentalist Islamic theocracy poses to the United States and the West may be impossible, thanks to the Left's and the pro-Islamists non-stop assault on the president's credibility.

The case against Iran should be air-tight. The Bush administration is now armed with:

[1] The 9/11 Commission's report, documenting the logistical, operational and material support from Iran and Hezbollah (Iran's international terrorist arm) to al-Qaeda;

[2] Iran's own admission of its intention to develop nuclear weapons;

[3] Iran's increasing anti-American rhetoric; and

[4] Iran's growing support of terrorism in Iraq.

According to the just-released 9/11 Commission Report, Iran's support of al-Qaeda dates back to 1991, when operatives from both sides met in Sudan and agreed "to cooperate in providing support--even if only training--for actions carried out primarily against Israel and the United States."
By 1993, "al-Qaeda received advice and training from Hezbollah" in intelligence, security and explosives, especially in "how to use truck bombs." The training took place in the Bekaa Valley, Hezbollah's stronghold in Lebanon.
The commission further reports that "at least 8 to 10 of the 14 Saudi `muscle' operatives traveled into and out of Iran between October 2000 and February 2001," and that Iran facilitated "the travel of al-Qaeda members through Iran on their way to and from Afghanistan." Yet in an ostrich-like move, the commission refrained from accusing Iran of supporting al-Qaeda.
This is how the commission phrased it: "There is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9-11 hijackers...however, we cannot rule out the possibility of a remarkable coincidence...[and] we found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack."
Indeed, the commission recommends that further investigations should be carried out, but looking at the body of evidence about Iran's leadership role in worldwide terrorism and the war against the U.S., one can only hope that we can act in time to restrain it.
"Iran is closer to nuclear capability that it was two years ago," said Dr. Ephraim Kam, deputy director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, earlier this week. And U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, R-KS, also added that Iran is clearly developing nuclear weapons. Pakistan, as we found out earlier this year, provided Iran with information on how to build an atomic bomb.
Iran's admission that they are working on developing nuclear capabilities was made in November 2003 by a member of the Iranian Parliament, Ahmad Shirzad. He made reference to the existence of a then-unknown essential nuclear facility, at a time when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iranian opposition had identified at least 8 different nuclear facilities in Iran. Despite all the evidence, it is unlikely that the international community will take steps to disarm Iran any time soon - indeed, the IAEA and EU overtures have been disastrous. And undoubtedly, China and Russia will block any real disarmament efforts.
Iran denies that it is developing nuclear weapons; however on July 6, 2004, the Iranian daily, Kayhan's editorial warned that, "The entire Islamic Middle East is now a volatile and tangled trap, and will be set off by the smallest bit of silliness - and will reap many victims of the sinful adventurers...Indeed, the White House's 80 years of exclusive rule are likely to become 80 seconds of Hell that will burn to ashes everything that has been built." Earlier, according to reports in the Kuwaiti, Al-Siyassah, Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of the Expediency Council stated, "The present situation in Iraq represents a threat as well as an opportunity... It is a threat because the wounded American beast can take enraged actions, but it is also an opportunity to teach this beast a lesson so it won't attack another country." He ended his speech calling for "Death to America, Death to Israel."
Iran's support of the growing terrorist activities in Iraq and its attempts to destabilize the interim government resulted in warnings issued this week by the Defense and Interior Ministers of Iraq in an interview for the London based Arabic-daily, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. The Defense Minister, Hazem Al-Sha'lan, after accusing Iran of supporting terrorism on Iraqi soil, warned, "We have the capability to move the assault into their country[ies]."
If you think that Iran has its hands full with terrorist activities already, think again. Last month, according to Reuters, the Islamic Republic of Iran - through the proxy known as the Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign - launched a new campaign calling for volunteers to carry out suicide attacks against U.S and Coalition forces inside Iraq, as well as missions targeting Israel and author Salman Rushdie. Since the 10,000 volunteers already registered are not enough, they distributed a "Preliminary Registration for Martyrdom Operations" application for the position of "martyr." Announcing this new campaign, the cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati urged the public that "It is the duty of every Muslim to threaten U.S. and British interests anywhere."
So, what are we waiting for? The president's impaired credibility, a dividend of the perpetual partisan assaults of the political Left, most elements of the Democratic Party in general, and the pro-Islamists anti-American elements in Europe and elsewhere now poses a grave danger to our security at home and abroad. Since the Democratic Party has embraced its activist core, its politicians have denounced the war in Iraq as unjustified and immoral, each American and Iraq death the intended by-product of President Bush's wilful lies. Ted Kennedy claimed the war was "cooked up in Texas" months or years before it was launched; Al Gore screeches that President Bush "betrayed us!"; and the Left at large has claimed the president massaged intelligence to manipulate the public into attacking the benign despot of Iraq. The 9/11 Commission's and Lord Butler's report debunked the Left's and the pro- Islamists' allegations, but the damage was already done. Having tarnished the president's veracity specifically on the War on Terror for political advantage, the Democrats hope is to render us impotent to respond to the genuine threat posed by Tehran. If the damage they have caused cannot be reversed, their self-seeking rhetoric may prove to have mortal consequences.

*Rachel Ehrenfeld is the author of Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It and is the Director of the American Center for Democracy.

CIA points to continuing Iran tie to al Qaeda

By Bill Gertz

A senior CIA official has revealed that al Qaeda operatives in Iran probably had advance knowledge of recent terrorist attacks, a sign that the cooperation between Tehran and al Qaeda is continuing since September 11.
"There have been al Qaeda people who have stayed for some time in Iran ... and because they have been in touch with colleagues outside of Iran at times when operations have occurred, it's hard to imagine that they were unwitting of those operations," the senior official said.

"And it's not hard to make the leap that they may have had at least some operational knowledge. It's harder to make the leap that they were directing operations like that."
The senior official spoke to reporters on the findings of the September 11 commission. The commission's report provides new details of Iranian government support for al Qaeda, including travel assistance to several of the hijackers involved in the 2001 airline attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
U.S. intelligence officials have said that a senior al Qaeda operations official, Sayf al-Adl, has been in Iran since 2002. He has been linked to the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia in May, and to the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa.
The commission inquiry revealed that captured al Qaeda leaders Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh disclosed to interrogators that at least eight of the September 11 hijackers "transited Iran" on the way to Afghanistan, "taking advantage of the Iranian practice of not stamping Saudi passports," the nearly 600-page report stated.
Both terrorists said that ease of travel was the only reason the hijackers went to Iran and they denied any ties between al Qaeda and Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terrorist group.
"In sum, there is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers," the report said.
The report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States also said senior Hezbollah terrorists knew about the al Qaeda members' travels to Iran.
The report said no evidence was found that Iran or Hezbollah were aware of the planning of the September 11 attacks.
"At the time of their travel through Iran, the al Qaeda operatives themselves were probably not aware of the specific details of their future operation," the report said. "After 9/11, Iran and Hezbollah wished to conceal any past evidence of cooperation with Sunni terrorists associated with al Qaeda."
The commission concluded that "we believe this topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government."
The senior CIA official confirmed that the al Qaeda hijackers had traveled through Iran but said details of Tehran's backing for the travel are not clear.
"I don't think we know that this was a deliberate Iranian policy, that is, a sanctioned policy at the highest levels of the Iranian government," the senior official said.
U.S. intelligence officials have said Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and the Qods Division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a unit of hard-line Islamist shock troops, are deeply involved in supporting terrorists, including al Qaeda.
The report also disclosed that "intelligence indicates the persistence of contacts between Iranian security officials and senior al Qaeda figures after [Osama] bin Laden's return to Afghanistan [in 1997]."
The commission report also said that captured al Qaeda terrorist Waleed bin Attash, known as Khallad, disclosed that Iran's government "made a concerted effort to strengthen relations with al Qaeda" after the October 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Aden harbor, Yemen.
According to the report, bin Laden rebuffed the offer from the Shi'ite regime in Iran because of fears that the cooperation would alienate Sunni supporters in Saudi Arabia.
"Khallad and other detainees have described the willingness of Iranian officials to facilitate the travel of al Qaeda members through Iran, on their way to and from Afghanistan," the report said.
Iranian border inspectors helped the terrorists by not placing travel stamps on passports, which allowed Saudi members to return to Saudi Arabia and not have their passports confiscated by Saudi authorities.
The report noted there is "evidence suggesting that eight to 10 of the 14 Saudi 'muscle' operatives traveled into or out of Iran between October 2000 and February 2001."
Intelligence information showed that senior al Qaeda leaders in Sudan during the 1990s "maintained contacts with Iran and the Iranian-supported worldwide terrorist organization Hezbollah," the report said.

Iraq blasts Iran's 'blatant' support for insurgents

Wednesday, July 21, 2004
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi Defense Minister Hazim Shaalan said Iraq's neighbors have been supporting the insurgency against Baghdad. He cited Iran as exercising "blatant interference" in Iraq's affairs.
"They [Iranians] confess to the presence of their spies in Iraq who have a mission to upset the social and political situation," Shaalan said yesterday in an interview with the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat.
"Since the establishment of the Iraqi state, Iranian intrusion has been vast and unprecedented." The defense minister did not cite other states as supporting the insurgency. But other Iraqi officials said Syria has failed to stop Al Qaida-inspired volunteers from joining the insurgency. They said the Iraqi government has invited its neighbors to a conference to discuss security cooperation.
"We are prepared to move the arena of the attacks on Iraq's honor and its rights to those countries," Shaalan said.
"We've spoken to them and confronted them with facts and evidence, but none of them have taken any action to stop supporting terrorism in Iraq.
Iraq has been preparing to launch its military, introducing new infantry, artillery and other units.
Iraqi officials said the interim government of Prime Minister Iyad Alawi will focus on developing the military over the next few weeks. They said the military would focus on border control and supporting missions against insurgents in Iraq.
"We will start to prepare the organized Iraqi Army starting from the beginning of next month and we have already prepared a command," Shaalan said.
Officials said Iraqi Army will have 40,000 soldiers in the first stage, comprising three light divisions. Battalions for the first division were being trained and equipped.
Shaalan said the military was forming an air force, navy and artillery corps. He said many of soldiers were former members of the military under the Saddam Hussein regime.
"Iraq will have a modern and powerful air force, navy, artillery and operating in accordance with advanced techniques to protect Iraq," Shaalan said. "Currently, we have surveillance aircraft in the National Guard to monitor our borders from the air."
[On Wednesday, seven Iraqis and a U.S. soldier were killed in fierce fighting with Sunni insurgents in Samara. A U.S. combat unit was pursuing insurgents who entered houses and a mosque in the city, 125 kilometers north of Baghdad.]
Officials said Iraqi security forces have also completed their first large-scale operation. The operation on July 18 included 90 members of the Iraqi National Guard and 300 police officers in a search for insurgents.
In early July, Iraq and Syria agreed to launch a joint effort to stop infiltration along their more than 500-kilometer border. But Iraqi officials have been skeptical over whether the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad would make the required effort. Alawi was scheduled to arrive in Damascus on Thursday.
"We're talking about hundreds [of insurgents] if not in the thousands," Shaalan said.

Copyright ? 2004 East West Services, Inc.

The Boldness of the President
Reading the report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, we couldn't help thinking of Justice Scalia's great dissent in Morrison v. Olson. It's the case in which the Supreme Court upheld the idea of an independent prosecutor. Justice Scalia warned of the danger that unleashing an uncontrollable prosecutor against a president could shake his courage. "Perhaps the boldness of the President himself will not be affected -- though I am not so sure," he warned.
Well, look now to what the 9/11 report has to say about the man to whom President Clinton, under attack by an independent counsel,delegated so much in respect of national security, Samuel "Sandy" Berger. The report cites a 1998 meeting between Mr. Berger and the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, at which Mr. Tenet presented a plan to capture Osama bin Laden.
"In his meeting with Tenet, Berger focused most, however, on the question of what was to be done with Bin Ladin if he were actually captured. He worried that the hard evidence against Bin Ladin was still skimpy and that there was a danger of snatching him and bringing him to the United States only to see him acquitted," the report says, citing a May 1, 1998, Central Intelligence Agency memo summarizing the weekly meeting between Messrs. Berger and Tenet.
In June of 1999, another plan for action against Mr. bin Laden was on the table. The potential target was a Qaeda terrorist camp in Afghanistan known as Tarnak Farms. The commission report released yesterday cites Mr. Berger's "handwritten notes on the meeting paper" referring to "the presence of 7 to 11 families in the Tarnak Farms facility, which could mean 60-65 casualties."According to the Berger notes, "if he responds, we're blamed."
On December 4, 1999, the National Security Council's counterterrorism coordinator, Richard Clarke, sent Mr. Berger a memo suggesting a strike in the last week of 1999 against Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Reports the commission: "In the margin next to Clarke's suggestion to attack Al Qaeda facilities in the week before January 1, 2000, Berger wrote, `no.' "
In August of 2000, Mr. Berger was presented with another possible plan for attacking Mr. bin Laden.This time, the plan would be based on aerial surveillance from a "Predator" drone. Reports the commission: "In the memo's margin,Berger wrote that before considering action, `I will want more than verified location: we will need, at least, data on pattern of movements to provide some assurance he will remain in place.' "
In other words, according to the commission report, Mr. Berger was presented with plans to take action against the threat of Al Qaeda four separate times -- Spring 1998, June 1999, December 1999, and August 2000. Each time, Mr. Berger was an obstacle to action. Had he been a little less reluctant to act, a little more open to taking pre-emptive action, maybe the 2,973 killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks would be alive today.
It really doesn't matter now what was in the documents from the National Archives that Mr. Berger says he inadvertently misplaced. The evidence in the commission's report yesterday is more than enough to embarrass him thoroughly.He is a hardworking, warm man with a wonderful family, but his background as a trade lawyer and his dovish, legalistic and political instincts made him, in retrospect,the tragically wrong man to be making national security decisions for America in wartime.That Senator Kerry had Mr. Berger as a campaign foreign policy adviser even before the archives scandal is enough to raise doubts about the senator's judgment.
Neither Mr.Berger nor any other American is to blame for the deaths of Americans on September 11, 2001. The moral fault lies only with the terrorists, not with the victims.With the war still on,one can't help but to ponder who might best defend the country going forward, and how.
The commission's report contains plenty of other valuable information. Many of the recommendations -- to move operations functions to the Department of Defense from the CIA, to speed the transition between administrations so that key defense positions are not left vacant, to stress "widespread political participation"in the Arab and Muslim world,to declassify the intelligence budget, to provide a written national security transition handover memo when administrations change -- make sense.
Other aspects of the report, including the absence of serious recommendations for dealing with the terrorist threats from Syria or Iran, are harder to understand. The report is being taken seriously for its political ramifications for the Bush administration and for its policy recommendations. But perhaps its greatest value is as a history -- more, a sad epitaph -- of the Clinton-Berger administration.
Why was it Mr. Berger rather than President Clinton himself making all these judgment calls? As the report puts it, these decisions "were made by the Clinton administration under extremely difficult domestic political circumstances.Opponents were seeking the president's impeachment."
One can blame the special prosecutor law or Mr. Clinton for agreeing to name a special prosecutor, or one can blame the underlying reckless behavior by Mr. Clinton that got him into the "difficult domestic political circumstances." Or one can blame the Republican Congress. No matter what one's view of the underlying merits, it is hard to deny that one of the costs to the country was a preoccupied president.There's no guarantee that, in the absence of the scandal and the prosecutor, Mr. Clinton would have acted against Mr. bin Laden. But the chances would have been at least somewhat increased, and it would have been Mr. Clinton rather than Mr. Berger making the call.
The boldness of the president, in Justice Scalia's phrase,had been lost,and the man left in charge, Mr. Berger, was not up to it. When we think of the repairs that need to be made in the coming months, it is of this: The need to carry on our national politics with an eye to protecting the boldness of our leaders and particularly in a time of war. It is something to think about amid one of the bitterest, most adhominem political seasons in the history of the Republic.

More Revelations in Berger Inquiry
Wider Circle in Administration Claims Prior Knowledge of Probe

By Mike Allen and John F. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, July 23, 2004; Page A08
For the second day in a row, administration officials said yesterday that more of President Bush's aides knew about an investigation of former Clinton national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger than the White House originally acknowledged.
The question is sensitive because Democrats have charged that Republicans leaked word of the investigation to try to taint next week's Democratic National Convention and to distract attention from criticisms of Bush in the report of the commission investigating the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
A senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that some National Security Council officials knew Berger -- who has resigned from his position as informal adviser to Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry -- was suspected of mishandling National Archives documents that were being sought by the commission.
National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, meeting reporters to discuss the commission's report, would not say when she was told of the probe.
"Sandy is somebody I've known a long time," Rice said. "And I think he's a good person, and I respect him. This is a criminal investigation. It's a serious matter. I'm just not going to comment about it."
The senior official said that a few NSC staff members who also report to the counsel's office had known about the inquiry.
On Wednesday, a day after saying he learned about the investigation from news reports, White House press secretary Scott McClellan added that "a few individuals" in the White House counsel's office had known about the inquiry. He said that was because the counsel's office was coordinating document production with the Sept. 11 commission.
Former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart, who is serving as a spokesman for Berger during the controversy, said the expanding circle of officials who the White House acknowledges knew of the criminal investigation heightens his suspicion about the timing of the disclosure that Berger is under investigation.
"This is the third day in a row that the story has changed," Lockhart said. "Did the political operation know? Did [adviser] Karl Rove know? I think it's time for them to come clean, say what they knew, when they knew it, and what role if anything they had in leaking it."
Berger has acknowledged removing copies of a classified "after-action report" that he had ordered to study the Clinton administration's handling of terrorist threats at the time of the millennium, but he said the removal was unintentional. He returned some copies after being contacted by Archives officials, but some documents are missing and were apparently discarded.
The narrowly averted millennium threat, aimed at Los Angeles International Airport and a Western hotel in Jordan, resulted in White House anti-terrorism coordinator Richard A. Clarke's preparation of the after-action review. It recommended building agent capabilities at the CIA and dramatically tightening immigration rules and border protections.
The Sept. 11 commission report said the recommendations generated an internal tug of war over CIA funding, with the agency finally getting a modest supplemental appropriation.
Also yesterday, Bruce R. Lindsey, who serves as former president Bill Clinton's liaison to the Archives, said he was not alerted to concerns about missing documents until two days after Berger's Oct. 2 visit. Berger was notified that day, and he searched his office for the missing papers. A government source claiming knowledge of the investigation said Archives officials alerted Lindsey to concerns after a visit by Berger in September. Lindsey said yesterday this was not the case.
Staff writer Susan Schmidt contributed to this report.

? 2004 The Washington Post Company

Agencies Getting Heavier on Top
47 Executive Titles Created Since 1960

By Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 23, 2004; Page A27
The federal government is top-heavy with more layers of high-ranking bureaucrats than ever before, impeding the flow of information within agencies and clouding the accountability of the officials who run them, according to a study to be released today.
The study, conducted for the Brookings Institution by government scholar Paul C. Light, found that the number of federal executive titles swelled to 64 this year. That's up from 51 in 1998, 33 in 1992 and 17 in 1960.
"It's a natural phenomenon of bureaucratic behavior, and if you don't pay attention to it it's like kudzu -- it grows," said Light, a professor at New York University's Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.
Light and his research assistants combed the Federal Yellow Book, a directory of more than 40,000 executive branch officials. They took inventory of top managerial jobs in the 15 Cabinet departments, counting only titles that link directly to the Senate-confirmed positions of secretary, deputy secretary, undersecretary, assistant secretary and administrator.
Comparing the results with previous studies, they charted the birth and proliferation of such titles as deputy associate deputy secretary, deputy associate assistant secretary and principal deputy deputy assistant secretary. The jobs were held by political appointees and career executives.
One of the more notable growth professions was that of chief of staff to a Cabinet secretary. The first such post was created in 1981 at the Department of Health and Human Services. It spread to 10 more departments over the next decade and now exists at every Cabinet agency except Defense.
"People just end up believing from a power and perquisite standpoint that you've got to have a chief of staff if you are to be seen as a credible player," Light said.
The report cited several reasons for the overall trend, including the use of promotions rather than pay raises to reward senior employees, the creation of new positions by Congress and attempts by presidents to tighten their hold on the bureaucracy with a greater number of political appointees. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security is partly responsible for the growth, but every department except Treasury has added new executive titles since 1998.
Title creep may be good for business card printers, but it is bad for agencies and taxpayers, Light said. Information about problems -- mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by the military, say, or concerns about possible damage to the space shuttle -- has to pass through more hands before it gets to the top.
"It helps explain why information flows are sometimes so sluggish," Light said. "And it also explains why we can't hold anybody accountable for what goes right or wrong. There are just so many places that decisions get made, or not made, that you can't really figure out who is responsible."
After reviewing the study, Chad Kolton, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said in an e-mail: "President Bush has significantly improved the federal government's effectiveness, most notably in better protecting our nation by merging 22 separate agencies into a Department of Homeland Security. This largest government reorganization in more than 50 years has made us safer by streamlining bureaucracy, combining resources and improving communication."
While Bush has slowed the rate of title growth, the government is adding an average of one executive title a year, Light said.
The trend has gone the other way in the private sector. Investor pressures for more efficiency and concerns about muddled information channels sparked a drive toward fewer corporate management layers that began 15 years ago, said Michael Useem, a professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
"Many companies began a long march to streamline and flatten," Useem said. ". . . Everybody with any management sense whatsoever says it is a good idea, not only for information coming up, but to ensure actions get taken and not snarled in endless approval and red tape."

? 2004 The Washington Post Company

New Details Revealed on 9/11 Plans
Interrogators Found Motives and Mind-Set

By Susan Schmidt
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 23, 2004; Page A19
If the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks had known that Zacarias Moussaoui, an al Qaeda operative now charged as a conspirator in the plot, had been arrested in August, he might have canceled the mission.
As it turned out, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the main strategist behind the attacks, did not find out until after Sept. 11 that Moussaoui was jailed in Minnesota on immigration charges.
That revelation, from a U.S. interrogation of one of Mohammed's top deputies, Ramzi Binalshibh, is among many new details about the planning and execution of the attacks contained in the 567-page report of the commission investigating the attacks and the government's response, which was released yesterday.
Rich in specifics, the report draws on intelligence reports not previously made public, including information drawn from CIA interrogations of al Qaeda operatives that reveal new information on the plans, motives and mind-set of the terrorists involved in the attacks, as well as others at the organization's highest levels.
The commission members believe Moussaoui was to have been among the Sept. 11 hijackers, although Binalshibh has called him a poor candidate who was needed only to fill out a shaky roster. Mohammed has told interrogators that Moussaoui was going to be part of a second wave of attacks, the report said.
The commission report provides similar glimpses of other terrorists associated with the attacks, including Mohammed, who is referred to in the report as "KSM," and who promoted the idea of using the jetliners as missiles.
Mohammed originally conceived of crashing nine airliners while he would hijack a 10th himself, killing the male passengers and landing to give a speech "excoriating" repressive Arab governments and U.S. support for Israel.
"Beyond KSM's rationalizations about targeting the U.S. economy, this vision gives a better glimpse of its true ambitions. This is theater, a spectacle of destruction with KSM as the self-cast star -- the superterrorist," the report said.
Mohammed, the report found, is not the only terrorist leader with an outsize ego and a powerful blood lust.
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who became head of al Qaeda operations on the Arabian peninsula, was "so extreme in his ferocity in waging jihad" that he would commit a terrorist act inside the holiest mosque in Mecca if he thought there were a need, according to interviews with captured terrorists, the report quoted. Nashiri, who reported directly to bin Laden, orchestrated the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.
Despite the attention bin Laden has received from U.S. officials, the report found that not all those working with him have accorded him undivided devotion.
Nashiri was asked to swear loyalty to bin Laden but "found the notion distasteful and refused," the report said. He was not alone: Mohammed also refused, as did Hambali, the leader of Southeast Asia's Jemaah Islamiah terrorist network who accepted bin Laden's offer in 1998 to form an alliance "in waging war against Christians and Jews."
In addition to providing new insights into some of the plotters, the report traced the evolution of the planning for the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mohammed and his nephew, Ramzi Yousef, began talking about plots to hijack U.S. airliners and crash them into buildings after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing -- for which Yousef was later convicted. Bin Laden signed on in concept in the spring of 1999.
The report reveals that the target bin Laden was most interested in hitting was the White House, even though hijack leader Mohamed Atta thought it was too difficult and preferred the Capitol.
At a meeting in Spain in July 2001, Binalshibh told Atta that bin Laden wanted the attacks "carried out as soon as possible because he was worried about having so many operatives in the United States." In early August, Atta communicated to Binalshibh that the attacks would be launched in the first week of September, when Congress reconvened.
Atta said he and Marwan Al-Shehhi would pilot airliners into the World Trade Center, and crash them on the streets of New York if they could not hit the towers. Atta had considered "targeting a nuclear facility he had seen during familiarization flights near New York," but others in the hijack plot feared they would be shot down in restricted airspace.
The commission report said that some aspects of the plot remain a mystery. For instance, two of the hijackers who have received the most attention, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, had no English skills or exposure to life in the West, unlike the others. They arrived in San Diego in 2000 and authorities have speculated about who there may have helped them.
The report said Mohammed "denies that al Qaeda had any agents in Southern California. We do not credit this denial."
Research editor Margot Williams contributed to this report.

? 2004 The Washington Post Company


Overhaul of Congressional Panels Urged
Report Finds Responsibility, Accountability Lacking
By Dan Morgan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 23, 2004; Page A21
Congressional oversight of intelligence and counterterrorism is "dysfunctional" and "the American people will not get the security they want and need" without far-reaching reforms of the outmoded committee system, according to the report of the Sept. 11 commission.
The report offers a broad series of recommendations, including the establishment of greatly strengthened intelligence committees with unique powers to set policy and allocate funds, the creation of permanent committees on homeland security, and the publication of the hitherto secret figure on annual intelligence spending.
"Tinkering with the existing system is not sufficient," the commission wrote as it parceled out to Congress a fair measure of responsibility for the failures in law enforcement and intelligence preceding the catastrophic attack on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. "Our essential message is: the intelligence committees cannot carry out their oversight function unless they are made stronger and thereby have both clear responsibility and accountability for that oversight."

Earlier blue-ribbon reports criticized Congress for its lax oversight, but the 9/11 commission offers the most detailed and scathing assessment yet. Senior members of the House and Senate quickly promised speedy consideration of the proposals while acknowledging that many of the reform recommendations will encounter resistance, as they clash with institutional traditions or the interests of turf-conscious lawmakers.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), co-author of the legislation creating the commission, declared that "delay was the enemy." McCain and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) urged congressional leaders to call a special session after the November elections to begin considering the commission's recommendations.
But, speaking a news conference attended by families of 9/11 victims and the chairman and vice chairman of the commission, McCain noted that the proposal to create either a House-Senate intelligence committee or strengthened intelligence committees in the separate chambers "is going to meet with significant institutional resistance because you're going to be removing somebody's turf."
At a news conference with the theme "Terror on the Run," House GOP leaders largely ignored the 9/11 commission's recommendations and focused instead on the achievements of the Bush administration and of the GOP-controlled Congress in fighting the terrorism threat.
"We haven't endorsed any recommendations," said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). He added: "We're not going to rush through anything."
Few in Congress disagree that there are serious problems with the oversight of counterterrorism and intelligence. Responsibility for oversight has been granted to dozens of committees and subcommittees whose jurisdictions overlap and conflict, often resulting in confusion and gridlock.
The 9/11 panel noted that officials from the Department of Homeland Security now appear before 88 congressional panels. In the House, the department is overseen by a committee that does not have permanent status. In the Senate, there is no such dedicated oversight panel. "One expert witness . . . told us that this is perhaps the single largest obstacle impeding the department's successful development," the report stated.
As if to underline the warnings contained in the commission report, homeland security legislation in the House was stalled this week by partisan politics. Four House committees were involved in drafting final legislation governing the funding of first responders.
In the area of intelligence, the writing of the annual budget is divided among the intelligence committees, armed services committees and appropriations committees. Congressional rules that -- among other things -- limit the terms of intelligence committee members to six years in the House and eight years in the Senate weaken the committees' "power, influence and sustained capability," according to the report of the 9/11 commission.
Membership on the intelligence panels is not generally coveted, in part because much of the work is done in secrecy. "Members get nothing from being on those panels in terms of public recognition," and as a result they often apply themselves to the work only sporadically, according to a former House Democratic aide.
To strengthen the committees, the 9/11 commission proposed a number of changes, including giving the committees more authority over a unified intelligence budget whose total size would become a matter of public record for the first time, rather than hidden in the budget of the Defense Department. Details of the budget would continue to be classified.
"Having the figure public should increase pressure to get efficiencies, particularly in the big technical programs" such as satellite reconnaissance, said Jeffrey H. Smith, a former CIA general counsel.
Staff writer Charles Babington contributed to this report.

? 2004 The Washington Post Company

Lebanese Minister Denies Presence Of Iranian Forces In Lebanon
BEIRUT (IRNA) -- Lebanese Minister of State Karam Karam dismissed on Friday a U.S. Department of State allegation that Iranian military forces are present in Bekka, east of Lebanon.
Speaking to the Voice of Lebanon radio, Karam said that the U.S. allegation is an interference in Lebanon's internal affairs.
Stressing that no Iranian forces are in Lebanon, Karam said that only Syrian forces are currently in Lebanon.
Refuting the U.S. allegation, the Lebanese minister said that only Zionist forces have illegally entered Lebanon and are in the Sheba'a farmlands of the southern region.
Washington has brought up the issue of withdrawal of all "foreign forces from Lebanon" but ignores the occupation of a vast part of the country by Israelis forces, argued the minister.
The Lebanese media reported on Friday that the U.S. Ambassador to Beirut Mark Grossman, in a recent speech in Washington, called for a withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Lebanon, including Iranians.
Comparing the Syrian forces in Lebanon with U.S. forces stationed in some European countries, the minister said that Syrian forces are in Lebanon pursuant to an agreement signed by the two countries following the Arab-Israeli war in 1967.
He concluded by saying that friends of Lebanon such as Iran and Syria have always supported the Islamic and national resistance of the country and would continue their support in the future.

The Two Americas Canard
By David Frum
Posted: Friday, July 23, 2004
National Review
Publication Date: August 9, 2004
Together, John Kerry and John Edwards possess family fortunes totaling probably in the vicinity of $1 billion. If elected, John Kerry would be the richest president in American history, richer even than his hero John F. Kennedy. And unlike other rich men to seek the presidency--Ross Perot, Herbert Hoover, and so on--Kerry is the very opposite of a self-made man: He came by his money by marrying a woman who inherited it from her husband who in turn inherited it from his great-grandfather.
Yet the Kerry-Edwards campaign is audaciously presenting itself as a crusade against unearned wealth and privilege. As the saying goes: Only in America!
Perhaps conscious of the absurdity of the situation, Kerry has left the populist heavy lifting to his running mate, a man whose fortune is estimated in the mere double-digit millions. But even Edwards must choke a little at the preposterousness of his famous "two Americas" speech:
One America that does the work, another America that reaps the reward. One America that pays the taxes, another America that gets the tax breaks. One America that will do anything to leave its children a better life, another America that never has to do a thing because its children are already set for life. One America--middle-class America--whose needs Washington has long forgotten, another America--narrow-interest America--whose every wish is Washington's command. One America that is struggling to get by, another America that can buy anything it wants, even a Congress and a president.
By my count, that's actually five different pairs of Americas, and no two pairs overlap.
Pair 1: Those who work and those who collect rewards without working. About 60 percent of Americans work; the other 40 percent are in school, retired, unemployed, at home with small children, and so on. It's not very nice of Kerry and Edwards to try to foment divisions between working Americans and their children and retired parents--and it does not seem like very smart politics either.
Pair 2: Those who pay the taxes and those who get the tax breaks. About 65 percent of federal income-tax revenue is contributed by the top 10 percent of taxpayers. Again, you have to worry how wise it is of Kerry and Edwards to suggest that some nine-tenths of their fellow citizens are mooching off wealthy people like themselves.
Pair 3: Those who will do anything for their kids and those who never have to "do a thing" for them. It is unfortunately true that there are a lot of rotten parents out there. Edwards seems to be suggesting they are all Republicans.
Pair 4: Middle-class vs. narrow-interest America. What exactly do Edwards and Kerry offer middle-class America? Astoundingly little, really. In 1992 Bill Clinton offered middle-class tax cuts and universal government-guaranteed health insurance. True, Clinton reneged on the first promise and failed to deliver on the second--but that was after the election. Kerry and Edwards offer neither. In fact, most of their campaign promises are carefully targeted to--you guessed it--"narrow interests."
Pair 5: Those who are struggling to get by and those who can buy anything they want. Political pros sometimes talk about 70-30 issues, meaning issues on which one side outnumbers the other by better than a two-to-one margin. Edwards is going here for a 99.9-to-0.1 issue. Who in America can buy anything he wants? Not me, and probably not you either, and possibly not even John Edwards himself. His running mate sure can, however--but does Edwards really mean to condemn him?
How did Edwards talk his way into this maze?
During his own presidential campaign, Edwards plainly hankered to be a Robert F. Kennedy for our times: a handsome, wealthy man who has taken it on himself to give voice to the voiceless, hope to the hopeless--a tribune of the plebs who basks in the gratitude of the adoring throng. But while Edwards may enjoy this mawkish fantasy, the calculating part of his brain recognizes its danger. There simply aren't enough poor people in America to elect a man president, even if they all voted, which they don't and won't.
David Frum is a resident fellow at AEI.



This article can be found on the web at

How Kerry Can Win
[from the August 2, 2004 issue]
John Kerry can win, given George W. Bush's incompetence, and White House strategists realize that. All the Democrats need to do is to peel away some of the Republican "unbase"--the most wobbly members of the GOP coalition. The caveat is that not many Democrats understand that coalition or why it has beaten the Democrats most of the time since 1968. Nor do most understand the convoluted but related role of Bill Clinton in aborting what could have been a 1992-2004 (or 2008) mini-cycle of Democratic White House dominance and in paving the way for George W.
Elements of this shortsightedness are visible in both the party and the Kerry campaign. While attempts to harness "Anybody but Bush" psychologies and to attract voters without saying much that is controversial might win Kerry a narrow victory, this strategy would be unlikely to create a framework for successful four- or eight-year governance. Deconstructing the Republican coalition is a better long-term bet, and could be done. The result, however, might be to uncage serious progressive reform.
Republicans, in contrast, have been successful in thinking strategically since the late 1960s. From 1968 until Bill Clinton's triumph in 1992, Republicans won five of the six presidential elections, and even Jimmy Carter's narrow victory in 1976 was in many respects a post-Watergate fluke. The two main coalitional milestones were Richard Nixon's 61 percent in 1972 and Ronald Reagan's 59 percent in 1984.
The two Bushes, notwithstanding their dynastic achievement, represent the later-stage weakness of the coalition, which would have been more obvious without the moral rebukes of Clinton that were critical in the 1994 and 2000 elections. In the three presidential elections the Bushes have fought to date, their percentages of the total national vote have been 53.9 percent (1988), 37.7 percent (1992) and 47.9 percent (2000)--an average of 46.5 percent. Keep in mind that in 1992, Bush Senior got the smallest vote share of any President seeking re-election since William Howard Taft in 1912, while in 2000, the younger Bush became the first President to be elected without winning a plurality of the popular vote since Benjamin Harrison in 1888. The aftermath of 9/11 created transient strength, but the essential weakness of the Bushes was palpable again by mid-2004.
Strategizing on behalf of a family with more luck and lineage than gravitas, the principal strategists for each Bush President--Lee Atwater for number 41 and Karl Rove for number 43--have necessarily been Machiavellian students of the Republican presidential coalition and how to maintain it. After helping to elect 41 in 1988 because Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis was an Ivy League technocrat unconvincing as an occasional populist, Atwater observed that "the way to win a presidential election against the Republicans is to develop the class-warfare issue, as Dukakis did at the end. To divide up the have and have-nots." Since then, the focus on keeping Republicans together has evolved and intensified.
Despite the Republican weakness evident in 1992 and Bush's second-place finish in 2000, Rove is notable for his preoccupation with the GOP "base," which he presumably thinks of in normal majoritarian terms. However, in the case of Bush's running for election or re-election, it is also useful--and the Democrats of 2004 would find it particularly worthwhile--to focus on the GOP's "unbase." This, in essence, is the 20-25 percent of the party electorate that has been won at various points by three national anti-Bush primary and general election candidates with Republican origins: Ross Perot (1992), John McCain (2000) and, in a lesser vein, Patrick Buchanan (1992). Most of the shared Perot-McCain issues--campaign and election reform, opposition to the religious right, distaste for Washington lobbyists, opposition to upper-bracket tax biases and runaway deficits, criticism of corporations and CEOs--are salient today and more compatible with the mainstream moderate reformist Democratic viewpoint than with the lobbyist-driven Bush Administration. Perot and Buchanan's economic nationalism (anti-outsourcing, anti-NAFTA) and criticism of Iraq policy under the two Bushes is also shared by many Democrats.
Taking things somewhat further, these members of the "unbase" of the Republican presidential coalition ought to be the Democrats' key target because (1) they have some degree of skepticism about Bush and (2) they are the segment of the GOP coalition most logically open to recruitment for a progressive realignment, short-term or otherwise. That is the way small or large realignments work: by wooing the most empathetic part of the current coalition.
In 1992, when Perot drew 19 percent of the November vote, George Bush Senior got only about 80 percent of the Republican vote. Most of the "unbase" and part of the base deserted. If McCain had been well funded in 2000, he might have been able to get 30-40 percent in GOP primaries nationally, and even without serious money, he did win the primaries in seven states, including New Hampshire, Michigan and Connecticut. Sticking with the idea that the GOP "unbase" is somewhere between 20 percent and 25 percent, Bush can afford to lose 5 to 7 percent of the overall Republican electorate. But if he loses 10 percent, he's probably done for, and if he drops 15 percent, he's finished.
It could happen. Back in late winter, when Kerry still had a winner's aura from the primaries, one CBS News poll showed 11 percent of those who had voted for Bush in 2000 were unprepared to do so in 2004. That was enough to put Kerry ahead, at least until the GOP's spring advertising blitz.
Kerry looked better by late June, but part of the reason for Kerry's--and the Democrats'--failure to capitalize on Bush's weaknesses is that they seem unable to decide between two very different strategies. One might be called the Wall Street strategy, which includes rhetoric about failed policies in Iraq and GOP tax cuts that pander to the rich, but avoids most specifics or bold indictments of Bush failure. Critiques of US economic polarization, NAFTA or globalization are sidestepped, and the example of Clinton-era federal deficit reduction so admired by Wall Street is held up. Indeed, Kerry's demeanor is appropriate to a man married into one of the biggest US corporate fortunes.
It is plausible to think that this will enable Kerry to draw a slightly improved vote among upper-middle-class and even fat-cat Republicans disenchanted with Bush as an incompetent cowboy who has bungled Iraq and pandered to Falwell, Robertson and Bob Jones University. Pinstriped caution has already helped the Massachusetts Senator to haul in record levels of Democratic contributions, some from Republicans and independents. Still, for all its success in Manhattan, the Hamptons and Santa Barbara, this is not a strategy that resonates with swing voters in battleground states from Ohio to New Mexico.
The alternative--at once bolder and riskier, but with a larger potential electorate--involves targeting the ordinary Republicans who rejected at least one generation of Bushes to back Perot or McCain. These voters--not a few thousand elites but millions of the rank and file--are concentrated in the middle-class precincts of swing states like Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado and the Pacific Coast.
Even by the campaign's own polls, it is precisely the Perot-McCain states that Kerry most needs to win. For Democratic and left-tilting progressives, the second benefit is luring voters drawn to the outsider economics of Perot and McCain, not to the insider calculations of big donors and fundraisers like former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. It is the Perot-McCain constituency, more than the elite Democratic entente, that could best catalyze a bipartisan progressive coalition. A partial analogy, at least, can be made to the role that GOP progressives like George Norris, Hiram Johnson and Robert La Follette Jr. played during the 1930s in launching the New Deal. Convincing John McCain to run for Vice President in a Kerry fusion ticket would have been the strongest tactic, but Edwards is a persuasive alternative. Now for Kerry to repeat the boldness and refreshing candor would be an important further change of pace.
In addition to adopting a bolder style, national Democrats also need to grasp Bill Clinton's role during the 1990s in aborting some national trends and stirring others that did his party considerable harm. Indeed, Clinton's moral notoriety was central to the rise of George W. Bush at two junctures--Bush's initial election as governor of Texas in 1994, a year dominated (especially in Dixie) by an anti-Clinton backlash, and the presidential race of 2000, in which regional disgust with Clinton was so strong that even Tennessee Southern Baptist Al Gore could not carry Arkansas and Tennessee against the religion-linked Bush campaign for moral restoration.
Without these offsets to Clinton's lengthy prosperity, it seems clear that 1992 should have ushered in a twelve-to-sixteen-year Democratic mini-cycle. Indeed, the sixteen-point collapse in Bush Senior's vote between 1988 and 1992 was the sort of hemorrhage mostly seen on previous realignment occasions. Clinton's failure to take advantage of this opportunity, instead facilitating the Bushes' return in dynastic form, is one of the too-little-understood ingredients of the 2000 upheaval.
Part of the emptiness of the Democrats' pinstriped or don't-rock-the-boat strategy is that it doesn't grapple with these circumstances. Not just the South but the kindred pivotal border states and the Ohio Valley cannot be counted on to reward a Democrat trumpeting the Clinton memory and legacy. Nor does bland centrism effectively respond to the Bush family's regaining of the presidency in 2000 by tactics and subsequent inroads on small-d democracy and small-r republicanism to which only a feckless Democratic nominee could turn the other cheek.
However, let it pass for the moment that Bush was put in office only by a 5-to-4 decision of the Supreme Court, hijacked the Democrats' mini-cycle, fought and botched the first father-and-son war in US annals and convinced 55-60 percent of Americans that the nation is on the wrong course. There is a more stark yardstick that even cautious Democrats should understand: In 1991-92, George H.W. Bush, prior to his defeat, fell from a record high job-approval rating of 90 percent after the Gulf War to a low 30s summer bottom before the election. His son, who hit the low 90s right after 9/11, by early June had fallen to 42-43 percent, another fifty-point decline. No elected President has ever done this; the Bushes have done it twice. Maybe it's the gene pool.
Back in 1992, Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot went after Bush with the gloves off, softening him up so that the Democratic nominee Clinton didn't have to do that much. In 2000 Al Gore didn't run a strong campaign--his occasional populism was as labored as fellow Harvard man Dukakis's in 1988--but some Republicans and independents had taken their cues from McCain. This year, by contrast, Bush had no primary challenge and will have no ex-Republican third-party opponent. Sure, some Republicans have attacked Bush through books, but while that's probably been worth a point or two, it's not the same thing.
To win this election decisively, John Kerry is going to have to feel the same outrage that Howard Dean felt, and he's going to have to express some of it with the same merciless candor that the Republican dissidents have employed against two generations of Bushes. In today's circumstances of a nation on the wrong track, most swing voters--especially wavering GOP men who grew up on John Wayne movies--will not be content with pablum. The Edwards selection seemed assertive, but if Kerry reverts to equivocation, he could face the ultimate epitaph on a political tombstone: Here lies John Kerry, the first Democratic nominee to lose to a Bush President who'd already dropped fifty points in job approval and earned the snickers of half the world.


The New Medicare Prescription Drug Law
Formulary Policies Could Limit Access to Necessary Medications
by Jeffrey S. Crowley
July 20, 2004
A key feature of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) is its reliance on private insurers (stand alone-drug insurers and Medicare Advantage plans) to negotiate drug prices and reduce program costs. One of the major tools that they will use to steer enrollees toward preferred drugs are formularies, or defined lists of drugs for which a prescription drug plan will provide coverage. Formularies have become a common feature of existing private employer-sponsored health insurance programs, as well as Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides health coverage to nearly 53 million low-income individuals. [1] Unlike these existing programs, however, the new stand-alone prescription drug insurers are not responsible for the costs for other health services (such as hospital or physician costs) that could rise if their formulary policies are overly restrictive. Additionally, the MMA permits private insurers (both stand alone plans and Medicare Advantage plans) to operate "closed" formularies that are not permitted by Medicaid; allows people with a vested interest to create the formularies; and does not clarify the exact appeals rights that enrollees will have to access needed, prescribed drugs. These policies could result in Medicare beneficiaries being denied access to drugs prescribed by their physicians, and suffering bad health outcomes as a result.
The MMA permits private insurers to cover most outpatient prescription drugs and biologicals. Plans cannot pay for drugs already covered by Medicare Parts A and B [2] and a limited list of drugs for so-called non-essential uses. [3] Prescription drug plans can cover all other FDA-approved medications with a valid prescription, but could limit which drugs they cover by operating formularies. Plans that elect to use formularies must meet the following requirements:
Develop through Committee. Formularies must be developed by a Pharmacy and Therapeutic (P&T) Committee, and the majority of the Committee's members must be practicing physicians or pharmacists. At least one practicing physician and one practicing pharmacist on the Committee must be independent from the prescription drug plan and have expertise in the care of the elderly or people with disabilities. [4]
Use clinical information. In developing and reviewing the formulary, the P&T Committee must base its decisions on the strength of the scientific evidence and standards of practice, including assessing peer-reviewed medical literature, such as randomized clinical trials, pharmacoeconomic studies, outcomes research data, and other information that the Committee deems appropriate. The P&T Committee must also consider whether including a drug on the formulary has therapeutic advantages in terms of safety and efficacy. [5]
Determine classes and drugs covered in each class. The formulary must include drugs within each therapeutic category and class of covered drugs, although not necessarily all drugs within such categories and classes. The law's reference to "drugs" appears to mean that prescription drug plans must cover at least two drugs in every class, although plans are able to define for themselves what is a class. The law also provides for the United States Pharmacopeia to be asked to develop model guidelines for therapeutic categories and classes, although plans will not be bound by them. [6]
Update formularies. Except to take into account new drugs and new therapeutic uses of drugs, a prescription drug plan can only change the therapeutic categories and classes at the beginning of each plan year. Plans can change the drugs included or excluded from their formulary, however, at any time. Before removing a drug from the formulary, the plan must provide notice to their enrollees through posting the formulary change on the Internet or providing the formulary to enrollees, upon request.
Formularies have become an important tool in the management of pharmaceutical costs and in efforts to improve the quality of health services received. In some cases, physicians prescribe drugs for conditions and situations that are outdated or contraindicated. There are also large variations in pharmaceutical costs for drugs to treat the same condition, and these costs do not always correlate with the effectiveness of a drug or other clinical criteria. In these situations, formulary policies can serve important public policy goals by conserving health resources and providing higher quality care without any deleterious impacts on individuals. However, the implementation of the MMA's formulary provisions could create problems.
Closed formularies could lead to access problems. Closed formularies could potentially exclude high-cost drugs without regard for the unique needs or circumstances of individuals. Under open formularies, plans can manage utilization by denying access to certain drugs (such as higher cost drugs or drugs shown through clinical evidence to be less effective in most cases than a preferred drug) until an individual has met specific procedural requirements (such as receiving prior authorization or failing to benefit from a preferred drug). Closed formularies do not make such accommodations for normal, individual-level variations in responses to pharmaceuticals. The MMA provides for an exceptions process where an individual, with their physician's support, can petition a private plan to cover a non-formulary drug or charge the lowest cost-sharing (i.e. cost-sharing for the preferred drug in a class) for a non-preferred drug. However, private insurers retain full discretion to approve or deny all such requests. This creates the risk that needed drugs may not be accessible in a timely or affordable manner under the new Medicare benefit, as the formal appeals process could take several weeks to be resolved.
Formulary decisions are not sufficiently independent. The MMA requires that P&T Committees include at least one practicing physician and one practicing pharmacist who are independent from the prescription drug plan. The law places no minimum or maximum constraints on the size of the P&T Committee. Therefore, the value of having two independent participants could be diluted to the point of being meaningless if plan employees are permitted to dominate the P&T Committee, and outvote the two independent committee members. Since the MMA relies on P&T Committees to ensure that formularies are developed based on current clinical evidence and standards of clinical practice, it is imperative that P&T Committee decisions are not unduly influenced by a plan's management or financial interests.
Financial incentives could lead to excessively restrictive formularies. The MMA places prescription drug plans at-risk for limiting drug costs. For the law to be successful at limiting costs to Medicare and for plans to maximize their profitability, prescription drug plans will have strong incentives to limit spending. While this is intended to put pressure on plans to reduce prices, these incentives may lead plans to avoid persons with high-cost conditions or limit drug spending by developing restrictive formularies. [7], [8] Plans could achieve this goal by keeping essential medications, such as latest generation mental health drugs, off of their formularies.
There is a potential for arbitrary formulary limitations, such as no coverage for off-label uses. Plans could also develop formulary policies that impose arbitrary dispensing limits (such as providing coverage for only 3 prescriptions per month) or that limit access to prescription drugs for off-label uses. Off-label prescribing is a practice where a physician prescribes a prescription medication for a use that is not an indication that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although the MMA clearly states that Medicare prescription drug plans are permitted to cover drugs for off-label uses, the law contains no provisions that would prevent plan formularies from limiting coverage to only "on-label" uses. Many uses for prescription drugs, while not FDA approved, are therapeutically important. Persons with rare conditions have been especially likely to take drugs for non-FDA approved uses because studies have not been conducted to evaluate drug efficacy or safety in those cases. Moreover, for conditions where the standards of clinical practice are evolving rapidly, evidence of the clinical benefits of new uses of drugs is frequently not available in the "real time" needed to treat individuals with life threatening conditions.
There are no guarantees that plans will cover breakthrough drugs or life-saving drugs. Because plans have incentives to keep costs down, they may delay or deny coverage of new and expensive drugs. The plan-stacked P&T Committee may decide that a new drug belongs in an old class of drugs, and prefer an older and less effective drug instead. For persons with cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, HIV/AIDS, and other life-threatening and progressively disabling conditions, access to the latest medications is important because they can prevent further disability and help the individual stay alive. New drugs are especially important to persons who have failed on all currently available treatments.
Dual eligibles could be worse off. For over 6 million dual eligibles (i.e. , low-income people with disabilities and elderly individuals enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid), Medicaid prescription drug coverage will end when the new Medicare prescription drug coverage program begins. Drug coverage for dual eligibles will shift from Medicaid to private Medicare prescription drug plans, and dual eligibles will not have the choice to retain their Medicaid prescription drug coverage instead of signing up for a Medicare prescription drug plan. Dual eligibles have poorer health status and more extensive prescription drug needs than most other Medicare beneficiaries. [9] Coverage of medically necessary drugs is particularly critical because most dual eligibles are quite poor, and thus, unable to pay out-of-pocket for non-covered drugs. For these individuals, closed formularies pose special risks. Both their ability to navigate an appeals process and afford needed drugs in the interim is limited. This could result in serious reductions in access, even in states with limits on their Medicaid prescription drug benefits. [10]
Require open formularies. Legislative changes could require private plans to operate open formularies similar to those in Medicaid. While some may argue this would limit the ability of private plans to negotiate cost savings from pharmaceutical manufacturers, open formularies do not weaken a plan's ability to use tiered cost sharing, prior authorization and other tools to restrict access to drugs when this is appropriate and evidence-based. For example, for many classes of drugs, it would be clinically appropriate for a plan to use "reference pricing" where all Medicare-covered drugs are on the formulary, but individuals pay the difference in price between the preferred drug and the drug that their doctor prescribes. [11] Such a system, however, should be carefully limited to classes for which individual drugs are close substitutes for each other, and would not be appropriate in cases (such as HIV/AIDS antiretroviral drugs) where drugs within a class are less interchangeable. Open formularies provide a safety valve so that individuals and their physicians can demand exceptions to routine formulary practices when it is clinically indicated. For dual eligibles and other low-income Medicare beneficiaries, it can be especially important to ensure that all needed drugs are on the formulary, as cost-sharing protections ensure access to all formulary drugs. The MMA protects dual eligibles and other low-income Medicare beneficiaries by limiting cost-sharing to no more than $3 per prescription for a preferred drug and $5 per prescription for non-preferred drugs, with an even lower limit for dual eligibles with income below the poverty level.
Ensure that P&T Committee decisions are based on clinical evidence. Through regulations and administrative monitoring, the federal government can assure that P&T Committee formulary decisions are based on clinical evidence. The law requires P&T Committees to base their decisions on the strength of the scientific evidence and standards of practice, including assessments of peer-reviewed medical literature, such as randomized clinical trials, pharmacoeconomic studies, outcomes research data, and other information that the Committee deems appropriate. Federal officials should require plans to comply with federally-promulgated and other commonly-accepted standards of clinical practice. For example, the standard of care for the treatment of HIV/AIDS is guided by federal treatment guidelines that are evidence-based, and updated regularly. Through regulation, federal officials should develop a process whereby the Secretary annually publishes a list of clinical practice guidelines for a range of conditions with which private plan formularies must be consistent. Additionally, regulations should prohibit private plans from using cost-sharing levels and other features of a prescription plan benefit to create barriers to access to drugs that have been shown through clinical research to produce superior results. Federal officials should also commit resources to monitoring and evaluating P&T Committee practices and private plan benefit features on an ongoing basis and making recommendations for administrative and legislative improvements, when necessary.
Limit the ability of plans to drop drugs from the formulary throughout the year. The MMA provides for an annual election period when Medicare beneficiaries are permitted to change prescription drug plans. Plans are permitted, however, to change their formularies at any time. For individuals with a broad range of conditions, treatment interruptions can be extremely harmful. Furthermore, for many individuals, the sole criterion for selecting a prescription drug plan is to ensure that specific drugs are covered. The MMA should be changed to prohibit plans from dropping drugs from their formularies, except with advance notice prior to the annual plan election period or in exceptional circumstances, such as if new clinical evidence indicates that use of a drug is unsafe or ineffective. Additionally, Congress and federal officials should develop supplemental safeguards for persons with conditions, such as HIV/AIDS or mental illness, where treatment interruptions pose unique dangers to the individual or have serious public health implications.
Provide for access to non-formulary drugs for persons with serious or complex conditions. For new drugs or drugs used to treat rare conditions, scientific evidence may not be available to justify to a P&T Committee that it should add it to the plan's formulary. For individuals who have failed to benefit from all other available treatments, and persons with life-threatening conditions, a looser standard for coverage of drugs is necessary. If closed formularies are permitted, persons with serious or complex conditions, or at a minimum, persons with conditions that in the absence of treatment are expected to result in death, should be exempted from formulary restrictions and should have access to all FDA-approved drugs with a valid prescription. This is especially important when private plans have incentives to deny coverage for high-cost drugs, and clinical evidence is unavailable to support the denial of access to a new treatment. Plans that use open formularies should be required to provide for standing exceptions to tiered cost-sharing requirements so that individuals do not need to request exceptions repeatedly for drugs used on an on-going basis.
Permit Medicaid to supplement gaps in Medicare drug coverage. Because of their poorer health status and their lower incomes, dual eligibles are particularly vulnerable to not having their prescription drug needs met by private Medicare prescription drug plans. They are uniquely situated as the cohort of Medicare beneficiaries most at risk by the MMA because they are losing current protections provided through Medicaid. Congress should modify the law to permit state Medicaid programs to voluntarily supplement gaps in Medicare's drug coverage. States advocated for the ability to provide wraparound drug coverage through Medicaid before the Medicare prescription drug law was enacted, and it is consistent with the manner in which Medicaid already supplements Medicare coverage for other services for dual eligibles, such as cost-sharing and long-term services.
Jeffrey S. Crowley is Project Director for the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University

[1] CBO March 2004 Baseline, see
[2] Drugs covered by Medicare Parts A and B include injectable drugs, immunosuppressive drugs used by organ transplant recipients, epoetin alfa (which is used by persons with cancer and end-stage renal disease and other conditions to treat anemia), and certain vaccines. Medicare also covers oral cancer drugs if they are also available in injectable form. Oral cancer drugs not available in injectable form, however, are not currently covered by Medicare and prescription drug plans will be permitted to cover these drugs.
[3] Except for smoking cessation drugs, the MMA prohibits Medicare prescription drug plans from covering drugs that may be restricted from coverage by state Medicaid programs. Medicaid programs that choose to cover prescription drugs are permitted not to cover the following drugs (and their medical uses): 1) Drugs when used for anorexia, weight loss, or weight gain; 2) drugs when used to promote fertility; 3) drugs when used for cosmetic purposes or hair growth; 4) drugs when used for the symptomatic relief of coughs and colds; 5) drugs when used to promote smoking cessation; 6) prescription vitamins and mineral products, except prenatal vitamins and fluoride preparations; 7) nonprescription drugs; 8) covered outpatient drugs which the manufacturer seeks to require as a condition of sale that associated tests or monitoring services be purchased exclusively from the manufacturer or its designee; 9) barbiturates; and, 10) benzodiazepines.
[4] ?1860D-4(b)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act, as added by P.L. 108-173.
[5] ?1860D-4(b)(3)(B) of the Social Security Act, as added by P.L. 108-173.
[6] ?1860D-4(b)(3)(C) of the Social Security Act, as added by P.L. 108-173.
[7] Report to Congress: New Approaches in Medicare (see Chapter 1), Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, June 2004.
[8] Huskamp, H.A. and Keating, N.L. , The New Medicare Drug Benefit: Potential Effects of Pharmacy Management Tools on Access to Medications, Harvard Medical School prepared for the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, July 2004.
[9] Dual Eligibles: Medicaid's Role in Filling Medicare's Gaps, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, March 2004.
[10] Crowley, J.S. , The New Medicare Prescription Drug Law: Issues for Dual Eligibles with Disabilities and Serious Conditions, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, June 2004.
[11] Huskamp, H.A. , Rosenthal, M.B. , Frank, R.G. , and Newhouse, J.P. , "The Medicare prescription drug benefit: how will the game be played?," Health Affairs (Mar/Apr 2000): 8-23.


Working Paper

Fifty Concerns about the Medicare Law, and Ideas on How To Fix Them

by Jeanne M. Lambrew, PhD
July 22, 2004
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One of the few statements accepted across the political spectrum is that the implications of the new Medicare law are enormous. Clearly, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) is important because it adds a long-overdue drug benefit to the program that costs between $400 and $535 billion over ten years. Beyond this, the delivery system and design of the drug benefit; its interactions with the renamed and reinvigorated Medicare Advantage (formerly the Medicare + Choice program); and other changes have similarly profound implications. Many of the changes are clear in the structure of the legislation, [i] but others are in its details and their impact depends on their implementation.
This paper aims to both catalogue the important issues associated with the new law and suggest how they could be addressed. The 50 highlighted issues are both serious and solvable. They focus on concerns of beneficiaries -- particularly those with low income or high health care needs [ii] -- rather than those of health care providers, health plans, potential drug insurers, or drug manufacturers. Each is described succinctly, including references to both the section of the law where the issue arises and the page number in the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1. [iii] The regulatory and legislative fixes are brief suggestions rather than full-blown proposals. Some require further policy development and involve tradeoffs. For example, increasing consumer protections may discourage private plan participation; limiting potentially overly-aggressive cost management tools may increase Federal costs. The intent is to encourage discussion and debate about policies to ensure affordable, meaningful drug coverage, and basic benefits, for the Medicare population.
This paper places a special emphasis on potential regulatory changes to the new Medicare law. The law delegates numerous and significant policy decisions to the regulatory process and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. For example, the regulations could create a simplified appeals process for beneficiaries who lose access to preferred drugs when a plan changes its formulary midyear; they could create standards the limit employer "dropping" of their contributions to retiree drug coverage. These regulatory improvements are especially important since the odds are low that legislative changes can be enacted in the near term. The President has indicated that he will veto major legislative changes, [iv]and has declined to send to Congress a list of technical corrections as required by law. [v] As such, the forthcoming proposed regulations represent an important moment in Medicare policy making.
Download Full Report >
Jeanne M. Lambrew is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and associate professor in the Department of Health Policy at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.
[i] For an overview, see Moon M. (June 2004). How Beneficiaries Fare Under the New Medicare Drug Bill. New York: The Commonwealth Fund.
[ii] For a fuller description of the consumer issues in the new law, see Dallek G. (July 2004). Consumer Protection Issues Raised by The Medicare Prescription Drug, Modernization, and Improvement Act of 2004. Menlo Park, CA: The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
[iii] U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means. (November 21, 2003). Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003: Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
[iv] Bush GW. (January 20, 2004). The State of the Union Address. Washington, DC: The White House.
[v] Marre K. (June 2, 2004). "Administration: No technical Medicare bill is necessary," The Hill, p. 16.


Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage in Action
AEI Newsletter
Posted: Thursday, July 22, 2004
August 2004 Newsletter
Publication Date: August 1, 2004
Since President George W. Bush signed the Medicare Modernization Act into law on December 8, 2003, it has been criticized as too expensive (estimates range from $409 billion to $534 billion for costs to be incurred through 2013) and too complex for seniors to understand. In their new study Private Discounts, Public Subsidies: How the Medicare Prescription Drug Discount Card Really Works, AEI's Joseph Antos and Ximena Pinell compare the prescription drug discount program with other discount programs and find that it can, in fact, provide substantial savings to seniors but that enrollment requires better consumer access to program information than is currently available.
The drug discount card program mandated in the Medicare Modernization Act offers prescription drugs at savings between 5 and 50 percent greater than existing plans. Low-income seniors who lack insurance coverage can receive a $600 annual cash subsidy and access special discounts offered by drug manufacturers. Based upon estimates for prescription drugs from the Medicare website, Antos and Pinell argue that between June and December of this year, beneficiaries could save between one-half to three-quarters of their total prescription drug costs, and they present case studies with price comparisons between already existing prescription drug programs and the new Medicare discount program.
All Medicare beneficiaries who do not already have prescription drug coverage under the Medicaid program may enroll in the new program, and Medicare discount cards can be obtained through pharmacies and health plans operating under the Medicare Advantage program for an enrollment fee of no more than $30--which is waived for seniors whose income does not exceed 135 percent of the federal poverty level. The program aims to enable consumers to compare prices for drugs anywhere in the country, thereby promoting competition through price transparency.
As of the first week of June, only 2.9 million seniors were enrolled in the program, 2.4 million of whom had been automatically enrolled under Medicare managed-care plans. Antos and Pinell find that the newness of the program and the extensive criticism, coupled with the limited availability of information on the Medicare website, have inhibited enrollment, and they credit the Access to Benefits Coalition with attempting to counter these difficulties and provide a clearing-house for consumer-friendly information regarding the program.
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More about the book
Putting Health Savings Accounts into Practice
New Guidance from the Treasury
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have proven to be one of the most controversial provisions of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. Will HSAs blaze a trail to a more efficient health care system? Will they disrupt existing employer-sponsored insurance? Will they prove popular with health insurers, employers, and individual consumers? Or are they just another variation in the tax code that will be ignored by almost everyone? The future of HSAs, and their effect on health care markets, will depend greatly on how the law is interpreted by the U.S. Treasury Department's new guidance.
At this health policy discussion, Roy Ramthun and William Sweetnam Jr. of the Treasury Department will explain departmental efforts to develop HSAs within the provisions of the law. Three experts on HSAs and private health insurance markets will share their assessments of the Treasury's new guidance and its effect on the future of health insurance.

Japan's Sinister Intention Disclosed in "Defense White Paper"
Pyongyang, July 21 (KCNA) -- The Japanese Defense Agency recently worked out a "defense white paper" for 2004 and presented it to the Cabinet meeting. In the paper Japan painted a distorted picture of the state of affairs, alleging that the situation in the Asia-Pacific region was rendered unstable by the DPRK, pulling it up again. Minju Joson Wednesday in a commentary says that as for the military capabilities of the DPRK with which Japan took issue, they are means of legitimate self-defense designed to protect the sovereignty of the country and security of the nation from the U.S. imperialists' hostile policy toward the DPRK and their moves to strangle it. Every sovereign state has the right to possess this means and there is no cause for Japan to talk this or that about the matter, it adds.
The commentary cites facts exposing the aim pursued by Japan in trying to find fault with the DPRK in the paper.
It is the petty trick of Japan to attain everything needed for turning itself into a military power and implementing its policy of overseas expansion under the pretext of coping with "threat from the DPRK", it notes, and continues:
It is a mistake if Japan thought its imprudent scheming would work all the time. Japan would be well advised to refrain from the frivolous act of absurdly slandering others. It should discard cold war mentality such as confrontation and distrust in Northeast Asia and look squarely into the trend of the times in which moves toward reconciliation and cooperation are picking up greater momentum than ever before.

Negotiations for Transfer of U.S. Military Base in Ryongsan
Pyongyang, July 23 (KCNA) -- Members of the People for Achieving Peace and Reunification and the Phyongthaek Measure Committee against the Expansion of the U.S. Military Base and civilians in Phyongthaek reportedly held a press conference in front of the building of the "government" in Seoul on July 19 to reject the negotiations for the transfer of the U.S. military base in Ryongsan. Speakers including the director of the Secretariat of the People for Achieving Peace and Reunification in their speeches noted that they would strongly oppose the 10th consultative council meeting of the future of the south Korea-U.S alliance policy initiative slated to be held in the U.S. which would discuss the issue of drawing up an agreement on the transfer of the U.S. military base in Ryongsan and an accord to implement it.
A press release issued at the press conference said the humiliating nature has been revealed by the negotiations for the transfer of the U.S. military base in Ryongsan and this is the reason why the organizations are opposed to the above-said meeting.
The demands of the U.S. were unilaterally met at the last negotiations for the transfer of the U.S military base in Ryongsan because of the inequality manifested in those negotiations, the press release said, strongly demanding a total restart of the negotiations.
It held that the U.S. should not cut back its forces in south Korea but completely pull them out of south Korea.
At the end of the press conference, the participants staged a sit-in strike in front of the building.

U.S. Reckless Military Racket Denounced
Pyongyang, July 21 (KCNA) -- The United States is staging "RIMPAC 2004" joint military exercises and a large-scale military drill code-named "Summer Pulse 04" in the Asia-Pacific region. This goes to prove that the black-hearted intention of the Bush administration to realize the strategy of preemptive attack in the Asia-Pacific region and the rest of the world at any cost has reached a very serious and dangerous phase. Rodong Sinmun Wednesday says this in a signed commentary.
It goes on:
It is the U.S. calculation that it can dominate the world only when the Asia-Pacific region is placed under its control as "the 21st century would be a century for Asia-Pacific". Its Asia-Pacific strategy is aimed to establish its domination over the region and prevent any force seeking hegemony and union from emerging. The U.S. foresees that its potential enemy may emerge in the region. The bellicose Bush group set out a new "national security strategy" the keynote of which is "preemptive attack" and is using it as a main leverage for realizing its ambition for world domination. It is now putting spurs to the moves to increase its combat capacity, focusing on Northeast Asia.
The on-going large-scale military exercises are aimed to carry out the U.S. Asia-Pacific strategy and its new "strategy of preemptive attack." In a word, the main purpose of these maneuvers is to improve the long-range deployment capacity of the U.S. forces and the mobile capability of its forces overseas and help them acquire those capabilities in order to realize the strategy of blitz warfare by a surprise war and preemptive attack.
The U.S. is staging maneuvers under the simulated conditions of an actual war with huge forces involved in an area near Taiwan. In recent years the U.S. has massively shipped its weapons into Taiwan. But the saber-rattling for a preemptive attack launched by the U.S. to realize its Asia-Pacific strategy is as dangerous an act as jumping from a frying pan into the fire.
The U.S. adventurous strategy of preemptive attack is, however, bound to go bust. It. is well advised to stop its reckless play with fire.

Participants in March for Korean Peace and Reunification Meet
Sinchon, July 21 (KCNA) -- Members of the group of participants in an international march for Korean peace and reunification held a meeting in the chest-nut valley in Wonam-ri, Sinchon County of South Hwanghae Province Wednesday to condemn the U.S. imperialists' mass killings of Koreans. They laid bouquets and flowers before the grave of 400 mothers and the grave of 102 children before listening to the testimonies made by those who underwent great misfortune and pain due to the U.S. imperialist aggressors in the land of Sinchon during the last Korean war.
Ju Sang Won, lecturer at the Sinchon Museum, who narrowly escaped death in a powder storage in Wonam-ri, told about the monstrous crime committed by GIs. He said they herded children into the powder storage and did not give them even a drop of water before spraying gasoline over them to burn them.
Then they threw hand-grenades into the storage, killing all of them, he added.
Choe Kyong Nyo, section chief of the Sinchon County People's Committee, testified to the mass killings of innocent civilians including children and old people committed by GIs and asked the marchers to fully expose and condemn these hideous crimes before the world.
Michel Watts, a participant in the march and chief of the U.S. branch of the Association for Friendship with the Korean people, said in his speech that everyone should clearly know about the bloodbath in Sinchon and the blood-stained history of the United States and that he, an American, would like to apologize for GIs' crimes in Korea.
He vowed to fight to prevent the repetition of the crimes the U.S. committed against other nations and other countries and the atrocities it perpetrated in Korea.
A letter to the U.S. president was adopted at the meeting.
The letter said the destruction and killing of civilians committed by Gis during the last Korean war are the inhumane and monstrous crimes unprecedented in the world history of war in their scale and targets and in their ferocious and brutal nature. The U.S. government should be held fully responsible for the above-said crimes and make an honest apology and compensation to the Korean people, the letter demanded, and continued:
The U.S. has stood in the Korean nation's way of independent reunification and seriously threatened peace and security on the Korean peninsula over the last 51 years. It must stop running wild, pondering over the grave consequences to be entailed by its hostile policy toward the DPRK.
If the U.S. is truly concerned for the peace and reunification of the Korean peninsula, it should immediately accept the fair and aboveboard proposal of the DPRK to seek a peaceful and negotiated solution to the nuclear issue on the principle of simultaneous actions. And it should withdraw its troops from south Korea and stop at once its military threat and blackmail which may lead the situation on the peninsula to catastrophe.
Prior to the meeting the marchers visited the Sinchon Museum.



The SEC and Market Structure Reform
No Data, No Analysis, No Vision
By Peter J. Wallison
Posted: Tuesday, July 13, 2004

AEI Online (Washington)
Publication Date: July 1, 2004
The proposal of the Securities and Exchange Commission for market structure reform, like so many other recent SEC initiatives, seems entirely ad hoc. There are certainly good reasons for considering reform of a market that consists of two separate and entirely different structures--one centralized and lacking any significant competition, and the other decentralized and highly competitive--but the SEC did not present any. Instead, the commission's proposal, which is not based on either market data or a vision of how the securities markets should function, seems designed to placate contending interests rather than meet the needs of investors or companies, now or in the future.
In late February, the Securities and Exchange Commission published Regulation NMS, a long-awaited proposal for market structure reform. There is little doubt that reform is overdue. The last major restructuring of the securities markets occurred in 1975, when Congress adopted a plan for a national market system. In that legislation, which followed serious SEC studies of the securities market in 1963 and 1971, Congress seemed to contemplate a number of regional securities markets that would compete with the New York Stock Exchange and a future in which investors would be able to access these markets without the use of intermediaries. This is not, of course, the structure that has since developed. Today, the NYSE remains the dominant market for NYSE-listed securities, many of the regional exchanges have withered, and investors who want to buy or sell NYSE-listed securities must still do so by placing orders with brokers.
The Ascent of Nasdaq
But while the structure for trading NYSE-listed securities has remained largely immutable, there has been a virtual revolution elsewhere in the securities markets since 1975. An informal dealer market that traded non-listed securities over the counter in 1975 became a formalized dealer market known as Nasdaq; entirely new computerized order-matching venues (known as electronic communications networks, or ECNs), arose to challenge the Nasdaq dealer market; and in response Nasdaq itself became a fully electronic market. In some ECNs, institutional traders can trade anonymously with other institutions without the intercession of a broker. In other words, the original vision of Congress for a securities market of competing venues and direct access by investors has been partially realized--but in the Nasdaq market, not in the market for NYSE-listed shares, where Congress apparently intended that it occur.
The reasons for this are complex, but SEC regulatory decisions are probably an important factor. Since 1975, the SEC has approved rules--such as the trade-through rule--that have tended to support the dominant position of the NYSE in trading NYSE-listed securities. The trade-through rule requires that orders to buy or sell securities listed on any registered stock exchange be sent for execution to the market where the best price is posted. Because the NYSE is the largest and most liquid market for these securities, it generally has the best prices, and thus the trade-through rule has reduced the likelihood that any serious competition for the NYSE would arise.
As originally framed, Nasdaq was a dealer market; it consisted entirely of dealers who made markets in securities that were not listed on any registered exchange by offering to buy or sell shares as principals. In this market, an investor (through a broker) would survey the prices and number of shares each market maker was willing to buy or sell and then choose the dealer or dealers with whom he or she would execute a trade. Since Nasdaq was a dealer market and not a registered exchange, it was not subject to the trade-through rule and was thus vulnerable to competition from a source that offered superior prices or services.
Such a competitor appeared in the late 1990s, when ECNs began to offer computerized matching of offers to buy or sell Nasdaq securities. Over time, as institutional investors found that they could effect trades at lower cost and achieve better overall pricing on the ECNs, these competitive trading venues began to drain market share from the dealers who made up the Nasdaq market. Eventually, in a bid to remain a viable market, Nasdaq sought the approval of the SEC to become a privately owned electronic market, competing with the ECNs for market share in Nasdaq securities. It has been a difficult struggle for Nasdaq. Even with the advantages of greater liquidity, Nasdaq today has less than 20 percent of the trading volume in Nasdaq securities.
Thus, by 2004 the U.S. securities market was characterized by two entirely different trading structures. For NYSE-listed securities (as well as those listed on the American Stock Exchange, or Amex), there is a centralized registered exchange that accounts for the vast majority of the trading. For Nasdaq securities, there is a market that consists of competitive trading venues, each vying to gain and hold market share. Although some portion of trading in NYSE securities takes place on Nasdaq or the ECNs under various exemptions, by and large the two different markets do not compete to offer better services or prices to investors. What competition between them occurs is limited to vying for listings by companies that want their shares to be traded on an organized market.
It is hard to see how government support for the existence of two entirely different securities market structures can have any rational policy basis. One of these trading formats must, on the whole, be better than the other. It would be one thing if the two structures were competing--if, for example, NYSE-listed securities could be traded on Nasdaq and vice versa. Then competition would resolve the issue: the best overall system would win. This is what happens when competitive and incompatible systems arise in the private sector; competition either picks a winner, or the systems become specialized so that they serve important submarkets. As an example of the latter outcome, in computer operating systems, Windows is now the dominant form, but Macintosh retains some market share because it offers special qualities for various submarkets.
But what is unusual in the heavily regulated securities market is that government regulation seems to be preventing competition, perpetuating support for two different market structures so that competition between them cannot resolve the question of which is best for investors and public companies. It is as though the Federal Communications Commission were fostering two different and incompatible telephone systems, so that users of one system could not place calls to users of the other. We would not think this made much sense if it happened in the world of telephones, but for some reason the existence of a similar outcome in the securities market has not provoked widespread objection.
Judging the Centralized NYSE Structure
Each of the structures has its strong proponents. Supporters of the centralized NYSE structure and the trade-through rule argue that concentrating most trading in a single market reduces bid-ask spreads and thus provides investors with the best prices available in the market. They also contend that breaking up this central trading venue by permitting or encouraging competition would fragment the market, so that bid-ask spreads will widen, price discovery will weaken, investors will get inferior prices, and medium- sized and small companies will have difficulty attracting investor interest in their shares. Moreover, they argue, the specialist system utilized at the NYSE--in which a single firm is charged with maintaining an orderly market in each listed security by acquiring shares when there is an imbalance of sellers and selling shares when there is an imbalance of buyers--prevents unnecessary share price volatility and the losses that can result. Such a market is said to be better for "retail" investors, whose relatively small trades usually receive what is called "price improvement" when they are bought or sold by a specialist at a price somewhat better than that currently posted. These are powerful arguments for the centralized NYSE structure.
However, many institutional investors have complaints about trading in the centralized NYSE market. Among their concerns is the view that their trading interest--either buying or selling--has a greater "market impact" when trading occurs on the NYSE than when it takes place on the ECNs. This is a particular concern of institutional investors--mutual funds, pension funds, and other large traders--that want to buy or sell large blocks of shares within a short period of time. What they mean by greater market impact at the NYSE is the effect on share prices when the existence of a large order to buy or sell becomes known in the human-mediated NYSE market; in this case, prices rise or fall as others anticipate the effect of the order and profit from trading ahead of it, adversely affecting the average price that institutional investors receive in completing a large trade.
For this reason, many institutional investors believe that they can generally get better pricing on ECNs, where they can trade anonymously and without revealing the size of their trading interest to others in the market, thus reducing the market impact of their transactions. In a 2003 survey by Greenwich Associates for Instinet (an ECN), presented at an AEI conference in October 2003, the institutional investors who participated in the survey reported that ECNs were three times more likely to deliver low market impact than an exchange and twice as likely as a negotiated broker-to-broker trade that does not take place on the NYSE floor.[1] In the survey, ECNs were also deemed superior to exchanges in achieving anonymity, price improvement, and fast execution, but exchanges were deemed superior for certainty of execution.
As long as the trade-through rule exists, it will be difficult for institutional investors to trade NYSE-listed securities on ECNs. This is because ECNs match buy and sell orders virtually instantaneously. If, as required by the trade-through rule, these orders must be sent first to the floor of the NYSE (because a better price may be posted there), the delay before execution might mean the original match can no longer be effected. An example will make this clear. Assume that an institutional buyer wants to purchase 5,000 shares of Company A, an NYSE-listed security, that has been posted for sale on an ECN at $30. At the same time, an offer to sell 100 shares of Company A at $29.50 is posted on the floor of the NYSE. If the trade-through rule were to apply, the institutional buyer's order must first be sent to the NYSE to clear the 100-share offer before it can be executed for the full 5,000 shares on the ECN. Some surveys indicate that it takes an average of twelve seconds for the NYSE specialist to respond to an order. By that time, for a variety of reasons, the original offer at $30 may be gone. Thus, much of the value offered by ECNs for institutional trades might be lost as long as the trade-through rule continues to apply to NYSE-listed securities.[2]
Apart from institutional investors' complaints about the centralized NYSE structure and the applicability of the trade-through rule to the trading of NYSE-listed securities, supporters of a competitive market structure like the Nasdaq market argue that the competition among trading venues encourages innovation that will provide better service to investors and reduce costs. There is some evidence for this. The ability of ECNs to take more than 80 percent of trading in Nasdaq securities away from Nasdaq itself demonstrates that innovation can produce new ways of doing things that can out-compete even established institutions. In this case, to its credit, Nasdaq preserved itself by becoming an electronic market so it could compete with the ECNs, but the ultimate beneficiaries of the new trading method were investors, including institutional investors and the many shareholders and pensioners they are trading for. If the trade-through rule had been applicable to Nasdaq, it is very likely that the ECNs would never have become a significant competitive factor in the Nasdaq market.
So what we have here is a complex policy debate, revolving around questions such as these: Will a centralized market deliver better services to investors over time than a competitive market? If the trade-through rule were eliminated, would the ECNs out-compete the NYSE as they out-competed Nasdaq? Would that be a bad thing or a good thing for investors or for companies of varying sizes that list their shares for sale? There is little doubt that ECNs are a benefit to institutional investors; the benefits they offer to individual investors are less clear. Some contend that the trade-through rule and the centralized structure of the NYSE provide greater benefits to individual investors. Should the securities market be structured so as to provide benefits to institutional investors over individual investors, or the other way around? Should this question be answered through a regulatory decision or through competition and would not allowing competition be a regulatory decision in itself?
The SEC Plan
Into this policy debate stepped the SEC in February 2004, with a market structure reform proposal titled Regulation NMS. The proposed regulation would: (1) modify the application of the so-called "trade-through" rule in the trading of both New York Stock Exchange listed securities and Nasdaq securities, (2) impose a ceiling on the market access fees used by ECNs, (3) prohibit sub-penny bids and offers, and (4) change the method for the sharing of revenue from the sale of market data.
Although all of these proposals have significance for various aspects of securities market structure, the proposed changes in the trade-through rule have raised the most serious questions about what the SEC is proposing to do.
Before the publication of Regulation NMS, many observers anticipated that the SEC would eventually have to decide whether to retain the trade-through rule or to eliminate it, and that this decision in turn would suggest whether the SEC's market reform proposal would move in the direction of encouraging a centralized market like the NYSE for all securities trading, or a competitive market--like the Nasdaq market--where trading venues compete with one another.
But when Regulation NMS was published, it turned out that it was completely ad hoc. It did not seem to be based on any vision of what would be the best market for investors or even for companies that have listed their shares. It proposed to allow investors--probably institutional investors--to opt out of the trade-through rule on a trade-by-trade basis, which suggested that the SEC favored competitive markets; but then it also proposed to apply the trade-through rule to the Nasdaq market, where it had not been applicable before.
The only plausible theory for what the SEC might have been trying to do with this internally contradictory proposal is that it was a political compromise: the agency was attempting to placate the various parties in the debate by giving institutional investors and the ECNs a limited opportunity to trade NYSE securities in the electronic markets, while telling those who favor a centralized market and the trade-through rule that all the benefits of the rule will now be available to investors in Nasdaq securities. But it does not work. If institutional investors take advantage of the opt-out provision, it could substantially reduce the role of the NYSE as a central market and thus the benefits a central market is supposed to confer. And if applying the trade-through rule to Nasdaq securities has any effect, it will destroy the benefits that many see in the competitive Nasdaq marketplace. Regulation NMS, then, may be good politics for the SEC, but it is not good regulatory policy and it is certainly not real market structure reform.
More seriously, the 200-page release that accompanied Regulation NMS did not contain any rationale for the proposal--no analysis comparing the benefits that investors or companies receive from a centralized market with the benefits they derive from a competitive market, and no suggestion of what interests and purposes the SEC believes the securities market should serve. For example, an important question is whether in fact small investors--also known as retail investors--receive greater benefits from a centralized structure such as the NYSE or a competitive structure such as the Nasdaq market. It may well be true that when retail investors place orders for NYSE shares, they get better pricing on the NYSE, but it is also probably true that most small investors are shareholders through intermediaries such as mutual funds or pension funds, and these institutions may get better pricing through use of ECNs.
This is an important issue as a matter of policy, and the SEC could have contributed to its resolution by analyzing what benefits retail investors receive directly in comparison to the benefits they receive as shareholders of mutual funds or beneficiaries of pension funds. How many "retail" investors are there, and how much trading do they do? Even if we assume that retail investors receive better prices by trading on a centralized exchange such as the NYSE, do these benefits outweigh the lower overall prices that institutional traders believe they receive by trading through ECNs? On questions such as this--which should be central to a resolution of the policy issues associated with market structure reform--the SEC provides no analysis and no answers.
Unfortunately, this follows a pattern that is becoming characteristic of the current SEC. Its controversial shareholder-access proposal, for example, also had no empirical or analytical support and seems to be based entirely on placating various constituencies. Most recently, in adopting rules requiring that all mutual funds have independent chairs, the commission pointedly ignored data demonstrating that funds with non-independent chairs perform better over time than funds chaired by independent directors.
The release that accompanied the Regulation NMS proposal noted that "the objective of market center competition can be difficult to reconcile with the objective of investor order interaction." Indeed, as we have suggested above, such a reconciliation appears to be wholly impractical. But whether the SEC tries to reconcile the two systems or, more realistically, attempts to choose between them, the task is made more difficult if the agency does not do any analysis.
Comparing Securities Markets Structures
There is a good deal of useful analysis that could be done. At AEI, we have been studying the issues associated with securities market structure since early 2003 and will eventually issue a report with recommendations for reform. In connection with this project, we commissioned Professor Kenneth Lehn, a former chief economist at the SEC and now a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's Katz Graduate School of Business, to study how the three different trading venues--the NYSE, Nasdaq, and the ECNs--respond to stress. In a paper delivered at an AEI conference on June 10, 2004, Professor Lehn and two of his colleagues, Sukesh Patro and Kuldeep Shastri, presented their analysis, which contained some important data for students of the securities markets.
One of the strongest arguments for a centralized market structure is that it promotes efficient price discovery by focusing the maximum amount of liquidity in a single place. Price discovery--finding the price at which buyers and sellers will transact--is one of the principal functions of markets, and it is generally assumed that the more liquid a market, the more efficient the price discovery process. This is logical, since the concentration of buy and sell orders in a single place creates the maximum opportunity for the right price to be found, given the information available in the market at that moment.
There are two important corollaries to this idea. The first is that traders who transact in a highly liquid market get the best possible price at any given time, and the second is that an efficient and centralized market should be less volatile under stress, because the volume of buy and sell orders should keep the market from moving too rapidly in either direction in response to favorable or unfavorable news. Thus, an investor who wishes to sell on bad news should be able to get a better price in a liquid market than an illiquid one, because the volume of buy orders in a liquid market should provide some support to the price, even though the price is moving down on adverse news.
In the specific case of the NYSE and the Amex, an additional factor is said to dampen volatility. These markets both use a specialist system, in which--as noted above--an individual (employed by a specialist firm) is responsible for assuring an orderly market by buying when there is an imbalance of sellers and selling when there is an imbalance of buyers. There is a lot of skepticism about whether specialists actually do this effectively, but studies comparing Nasdaq price volatility with NYSE price volatility have in the past shown lower volatility in prices on the NYSE.
Given these assumptions, it would be expected that Professor Lehn's analysis--which focused specifically on periods of market stress--would further confirm the superiority of the centralized market structure in delivering better price discovery and lower volatility. However, this is not what the analysis showed.
In their study, Professor Lehn and his colleagues paired 341 NYSE stocks with the same number of Nasdaq stocks traded on two days during 2003.[3] Paired matching was necessary because, as noted above, the NYSE and Nasdaq are--with a very small number of exceptions--completely separate markets, trading an entirely different group of stocks. One of the major contributions of the Lehn study was the care with which pairs of stocks were matched, so that the overall efficiency of the different markets could be assessed for similar stocks on the same day. The match excluded all financial firms, utilities, ADRs, all firms with prices less than five dollars, and all NYSE firms with market values less than $300 million. The matched stocks were then divided into terciles (thirds) according to market capitalization. The large capitalization stocks, incidentally, account for most of the volume in their respective markets, including about 70 percent of the volume on the NYSE.
The authors then selected two days of market stress during 2003--that is, two days on which the markets were surprised by economic news, causing a rapid rise or fall in securities prices. The market stress days chosen were January 2, 2003, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average made its largest positive move that year, during forty minutes of trading in the morning, and May 1, 2003, when it made its largest negative move that year in a similar forty-minute period. In both cases, the market was surprised by reports from the Institute of Supply Management on that organization's index of manufacturing business conditions. The performance of both markets was then evaluated for the stress periods and calm periods on each of the two days chosen.
The data collected by the Lehn group is significant for policy analysis. It showed that for stocks in the largest capitalization tercile, in both calm and stress periods on those two days, both quoted and effective bid-asked spreads were lower on Nasdaq than on the NYSE, and in the Nasdaq market itself bid-ask spreads were lower on ECNs than they were at traditional market makers. On the other hand, for stocks in the two lower terciles, spreads were lower on the NYSE than they were in the Nasdaq market during both stress and calm periods. This result is in accord with other academic studies. However, in periods of stress for all terciles the spreads at ECNs widened less than on Nasdaq, and thus appeared to account for the relatively good performance of Nasdaq when compared to the NYSE on the top tercile and to improve the performance of Nasdaq for the two lower terciles, even though for these lower terciles Nasdaq's performance was not as good as that of the NYSE during periods of both calm and stress.
This result suggests that where there is already a high degree of liquidity in a stock there is no diminution in the quality of the market--including the process of price discovery and the suppression of volatility--when the stock is traded in a supposedly "fragmented" and competitive electronic market such as that for Nasdaq stocks. On the other hand, stocks with less liquidity may benefit from being listed on a centralized market such as the NYSE.
The implications of this data are profound. More research is probably necessary--the Lehn group is refining its work for presentation at another AEI conference in the fall of 2004--but as a preliminary matter, it appears that for large capitalization stocks the competitive structure associated with the Nasdaq market functions better under periods of both calm and stress than the centralized NYSE structure. The adverse effects of what is called "fragmentation"--the breaking up of liquidity so that spreads widen and price discovery suffer--is simply not evident for these securities. In fact, the opposite seems to be true: for highly liquid stocks, the fragmented market seems to be more orderly for these stocks than the centralized form.
On the other hand, to the extent that the SEC is interested in creating a better market for stocks of all companies, large and small, the Lehn group's results suggest that a centralized NYSE-style market may offer benefits for stocks with lower volume levels. This in turn suggests that if the NYSE were opened to competition by the electronic markets, trading in the high volume stocks might gravitate to Nasdaq and the ECNs, while trading in lower volume stocks would tend to concentrate on the NYSE and the Amex--where volatility and spreads would be lower during both calm and stress periods. More research is currently underway on this subject.
However, for purposes of this Financial Services Outlook report, the important point is that carefully designed and implemented studies could give the SEC the information necessary to understand the comparative benefits and deficiencies--for both investors and companies--of the centralized and the competitive structures that currently exist in the U.S. securities market. The fact that the SEC is attempting to implement market structure "reform" without doing an analysis of this kind should be a matter of concern to all those who understand the value and importance of the U.S. securities market.
1. Greenwich Associates, Instinet Proprietary Trade Execution Study: Research Results (October 2003), 8. For a link to the study and for other information on the AEI conference at which it was released, visit
2. To be sure, NYSE securities can be traded on ECNs without complying with the trade-through rule, but only if the ECN does not post a price in the Consolidated Quotation System--a system that lists all current posted prices for NYSE and other listed securities. However, without the opportunity to advertise a price, it is extremely difficult for ECNs to attract trading interest in NYSE and other listed securities.
3. The complete Lehn, Patro, and Shastri study is available, along with additional information and commentary from the AEI conference at which the study was presented.

Peter J. Wallison is a resident fellow at AEI.


A Capital Idea from Microsoft
And a smashing endorsement of Bush's pro-growth tax cuts.
The stunning Microsoft decision to return more than $75 billion in cash to shareholders over the next four years is a smashing endorsement of the importance of President Bush's pro-growth tax cuts. It is also a tremendous boon to investors, who will recycle this windfall into thousands of businesses both large and small -- a process that will significantly increase new jobs and grow the economy.
The Redmond, Washington-based software maker intends to pay a special $3 dividend for every investor share, for a total of $32 billion. Additionally, Microsoft will double its annual dividend and buy as much as $30 billion of its own stock over the next four years. If this new policy raises the Microsoft share price -- as is likely -- then the total package could be worth over $100 billion to shareholders.
Ironically, Microsoft's corporate decision, induced by supply-side tax cuts, will also provide a huge Keynesian injection of fiscal stimulus to the economy, one that will more than offset the temporary effects of higher energy costs on consumer purchasing power. Even better, this sea-change policy will ripple through corporate America, forcing public companies to take similar actions.
When President Bush launched his initiative to equalize the tax rate on capital gains and investor dividends at 15 percent, there was a derisive outcry. Mainstream thinkers claimed the plan would only benefit the rich and have no impact on economic growth or jobs. Now that the economy -- led by business investment -- is growing at the fastest pace in two decades, the liberal establishment may wish to rethink its position.
Basically, the Bush plan significantly reduces Uncle Sam's tax bite on profits and investment capital, leaving more in private hands for channeling into job-creating businesses. Remember, both dividends and capital gains are taxed at the corporate level, the individual level, and as capital gains. While this triple taxation of capital was not eliminated, the tax penalty was substantially lowered. As the capital-gains levy was cut from 20 percent to 15 percent on the marginal dollar, the dividend rate was reduced at the top income level from 40 percent to 15 percent. Meanwhile, personal income-tax rates were reduced across the board.
The charge that this policy would only benefit the rich is patently false. A recent Zogby poll shows that a substantial 59 percent majority of investors has a portfolio valued at less than $100,000. In addition, 28 percent of investors earn a modest $50,000 to $75,000 a year; another 19 percent earn $35,000 to $50,000; and 7 percent earn less than $35,000. According to Zogby, "The majority of investors earn less than $75,000. . . . This helps explain why old-fashioned [class-warfare] populism does not work in political campaigns nationwide."
Steady dividend flows over time reduce equity risk and add enormous investor protection for retirement and other purposes. So what we're seeing now is a return to the old-time religion of investing for both dividends and capital-gains returns.
According to the American Shareholders Association, investor wealth has increased $2.2 trillion, or 25 percent, since May 20, 2003, the start date of the Bush policy. So far this year, 161 of the S&P 500 companies have raised or initiated dividends. According to Standard & Poor's, year-to-date dividend-paying issues in the S&P 500 index are averaging a 4.8 percent gain while non-dividend payers are down 3.5 percent.
Professor Jeremy Siegel of the University of Pennsylvania calculates that stock market returns including dividends have produced a 7 percent annual increase (adjusted for inflation) over long periods of time. But dividends fell behind in the last two decades because capital gains were taxed at a lower rate. Now, however, with a sharp reduction of the double-tax on dividends, dividend issuance is more efficient, with corporate payout policies more often based on the economics of a decision than just the tax consequence. Stock buybacks now have equal footing with dividend issuance. At lower tax rates, CEOs also have an incentive to pay out more cash to shareholders, rather than build internal empires or make unwise investment decisions.
In effect, the new law democratizes corporate governance. It puts real financial power into the hands of the shareholder constituency and removes it from the corpocratic front office.
Bush critics -- especially Kerry and Edwards, who wish to overturn the Bush policy -- fail to understand that reducing the double and triple taxation of investment capital is a business-funder, job-creator, and economic-grower. Simply put, capital is the best friend of both businesses and workers.
Bush's policies make more capital available by reducing its after-tax cost and raising its post-tax investment return. When it is more profitable after-tax to invest, the mighty investor class will do so. And by supplying ever more capital to business and the economy, 90 million investors will expand America's virtually unlimited potential to grow, create jobs, and prosper.
-- Larry Kudlow, NRO's Economics Editor, is CEO of Kudlow & Co. and host with Jim Cramer of CNBC's Kudlow & Cramer.


What Unites Europeans?
From the July 26, 2004 issue: Antipathy to the United Europe project.
by Gerard Baker
07/26/2004, Volume 009, Issue 43
UNDER PRESSURE from insurgents in Iraq, assailed by his Democratic opponent at home for a reckless "unilateralism," struggling to reassure a restive American public that his foreign policy is on the right track, President Bush has turned to an unlikely corner for help this summer--Europe.
In the space of three weeks in June, the president shuttled across the Atlantic on a diplomatic itinerary that read like that of a demented tourist--Rome, Paris, Normandy, Dublin, Istanbul. When he wasn't receiving their hospitality, Bush was treating European leaders to some of his own--at the G-8 Summit in Sea Island, Georgia, or on the fringes of President Reagan's funeral.
Throughout a hectic month, the talk was of hatchets buried, pages turned, old alliances renewed, friendships rekindled. In Paris, he enjoyed what aides said was a fine dinner with his old chum President Jacques Chirac (Bush may not have eaten any crow, but freedom fries were definitely off the menu). At Sea Island and in Istanbul, at the NATO summit, he exchanged warm words with Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der (no mention of certain former members of the German cabinet who once likened Bush to Hitler), and in Dublin he expressed his affection and appreciation for the leadership of the European Union (never a discouraging word about the differences between Old and New Europe). If Bush had broken into a few bars of the "Marseillaise" or donned a pair of lederhosen, his message could not have been clearer.
You don't have to be a cynic to believe there is a degree of pragmatism about this newfound fondness for Europe in the West Wing. Getting a U.N. resolution passed on Iraq last month was essential to an orderly transfer of power. Having the Europeans on board was the sine qua non of that project. Demonstrating to the American people that others are willing to take on some of the burden in Iraq is critical to puncturing the Kerry critique that only the Democrats can build an international coalition that will pave the way for an eventual U.S. departure.
And yet beyond these short-term political reasons, there does seem a steadily strengthening conviction, even among some of the most reluctant Atlanticists in this administration, that the United States might need Europe after all. Sure, the pacific old continent is never going to belly up to the bar when there's serious fighting to be done. And those who can produce something meaningful in military terms--the British, mainly, and some martial Eastern Europeans--have stuck with the United States all along, even in Iraq.
But Europe, the quasi-mythical entity, still seems to count to the rest of the world, and even to Americans. It just isn't enough to have the ever-loyal Tony Blair and a bunch of anonymous folk from the Eastern Bloc pulling for you if France and Germany, and through them the institutions of the European Union and NATO, are standing resentfully, contemptuously aside. If only we could get a united Europe, as we did in the Cold War, on our side, surely--Americans seem to be saying--we could achieve much more of what we want in the world.
You could be forgiven for thinking, with Americans now evidently less confident about their ability to remake the world, with Kerry and Bush apparently in a desperate competition to prove who is the more multilateralist and Euro-friendly, that this might be Europe's hour.
The once derided Old Europeans, it seems, have been vindicated and are in the intellectual and geopolitical ascendant. The French, Germans, Belgians, and others have, you would think, won the battle for the future of Europe. In Spain, Jos? Mar?a Aznar, the conservative prime minister, was ousted in March; Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi, Bush's other main European backers, are hanging by a thread.
With public opinion, fueled by the distortions of Michael Moore and the connivance of a complaisant media, hardening against the United States and its aims and ambitions in the Middle East, it would be easy to imagine Europeans uniting around the Franco-German leadership, with its lofty ambition to build Europe as a counterweight to American power in the world.
And yet, last month, even as Bush was making nice with European leaders, the voters on the old continent were giving a rather different verdict on them.
IN THE EUROPEAN parliamentary elections in early June, Chancellor Schr?der's Social Democrats in Germany suffered humiliation at the polls at the hands of their conservative opponents. In France, Chirac's Gaullists were soundly beaten by a combination of socialists and nationalists. Even in plucky little Belgium, the spiritual home of Europe's dreamers, the ruling party, which had fervently backed the Franco-German axis, got trounced.
It would be nice to think European voters had had a change of heart about Iraq, but sadly that was not behind the rout of the Old Europeans. In Britain, too, and in much of Eastern Europe, ruling parties got kicked.
Try as they might to blame a continent-wide set of special factors for the startling setbacks, there was one clear explanation for the rejection--and one that has even bigger implications for transatlantic relations than Iraq.
Europe's voters were reacting angrily, with a unified voice rarely seen in European politics, against the ambitious plans of the continent's elite to accelerate and deepen a process of political integration that has, as its ultimate ambition, the creation of a superstate to rival the United States.
Not only was support for governing parties substantially down, support for parties that have been opposed to European integration was up sharply. In Britain, the U.K. Independence party, which favors outright withdrawal from the E.U., got more than 16 percent of the vote, placing it third behind the already Euroskeptic conservatives and Labour. Euroskeptic (or Euro-realist, as they prefer to be called) parties did well in France, Austria, Belgium, and the Netherlands, too.
More striking still was the result in Eastern Europe. Having been admitted to the E.U. just a month earlier, voters in eight former Communist states voted against the E.U. in large numbers. In the Czech Republic, Hungary, and the Baltic states, Eurorealist parties fared well. And across Europe, in another sign of disenchantment and disdain for the European project, turnout was pitiful.
European voters--especially in the New Europe, which is alive and well, it should be noted--have good reason to react against the E.U.; there is a widespread view reflected in polls that it is out of touch, corrupt, and bureaucratic. Its economic policies stifle enterprise with complex regulations; its leading economies espouse high taxes and expensive welfare states even as the population ages rapidly. Above all, its Franco-German leadership still dreams of creating what amounts to a single, multination state, with its own foreign policy, that will make the E.U. much more effective at blocking U.S. policies.
To all this, most of Europe's voters said last month, politely, roughly what Dick Cheney said to Democratic senator Pat Leahy on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
And yet, in what must rank as another Marie Antoinette moment in Europe's history, the continent's political leaders simply ignored the popular verdict. A week after the historic elections, the E.U. leaders agreed on a treaty containing a new "constitution," the first ever for the E.U.
If ratified, this 400-page document would accelerate and deepen European integration. Over the objection of Britain to some of the more extreme elements, it would, in the fields of economics, social policy, justice and criminal law, and even foreign and security policy, establish broad, overarching European, as opposed to national, competence.
In other words, as voters were rejecting the vainglorious ambitions of Europe's elite to create a federal state, the leaders themselves were finalizing an ever more grandiose plan.
Happily, that is not the end of the story. The voters will get another chance. The treaty now has to be ratified by all 25 member states. Giving in reluctantly to enormous pressure to consult the public, at least eight countries--including Britain and France --will submit the constitution to a referendum.
In the interest of sane and safe representative democracy, it is fervently to be wished that the voters of Europe reject the plan. Under the treaty, if just one country fails to ratify it, the agreement becomes null. But another more likely and intriguing possibility is now in prospect.
Core European countries, most of whom, such as Germany, are not submitting the constitution to a vote in any case, will give their approval. France, a country with a long record of consulting its often truculent population, may prove trickier. But voters in the referendum there will come under serious pressure from all the mainstream parties to approve the treaty.
In Britain, too, Tony Blair will campaign hard for a Yes vote, but it looks a tall order. Opinion polls show more than two thirds of voters likely to reject the constitution.
If Britain rejects the treaty, it is possible the whole project will be scrapped. But more likely is an outcome hinted at in the constitution itself, which would enable those countries that want it to go ahead with closer integration in the political, economic, and social spheres. Under this "enhanced cooperation," in Euro-jargon, the core countries might accelerate the process by which they become something resembling a single state.
But other countries, like Britain, are likely to want to hold back, valuing their national independence, but also their economic systems and their foreign policies.
In a decade or so, then, it is possible to imagine not one Europe but two. A core group of countries would be characterized by aging and sclerotic economies, overregulated and overtaxed, as well as by exaggerated global ambitions to rival the United States as a superpower. An outer eurozone might be made up of Britain, Scandinavia (two of whose members have already rejected the euro), and several of the most dynamic former Communist countries, plus Turkey (which, unless French opposition prevents it again, will begin the process of joining the E.U. later this year).
These latter nations are likely to be strongly Atlanticist in outlook, promoting free markets and open trade and being broadly supportive of American global leadership--and, with Turkey on board, perhaps also offering a vital link to the Islamic world, promoting democracy and economic freedom in the Middle East, in line with the long-run strategic objectives of the United States.
Now that is a Europe America could really do business with.
Gerard Baker is U.S. editor of the Times of London and a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.

? Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.
Military might and political messages
By Mac William Bishop
TAIPEI - Military exercises often have as much political use as tactical utility, and this week, China, Taiwan and the US all have conducted major exercises in or around the Taiwan Strait. These maneuvers send messages about the various countries' intentions in the Taiwan Strait.
China's exercises began on July 16 and were scheduled to end Friday, July 23. Meanwhile, the United States' global Summer Pulse 2004 exercises, which began in mid-July and will last until mid-August, have moved to the Western Pacific region this week. Taiwan also is holding its annual Han Kuang (Han glory) exercises, which began on Wednesday, July 21, and will last until July 28.
The fact that the exercises are being conducted virtually simultaneously is neither an accident nor coincidental. It is also no accident that former Chinese president Jiang Zemin, now the chairman of the Communist Party's Central Military Commission, was quoted in a Hong Kong daily Wen Wei Po last week as in essence promising to attack Taiwan (seen as a wayward province) before or around the year 2020. The comments were made as China kicked off a major military exercise on Dongshan Island near China's southeast coast, only 280 kilometers from Taiwanese territory.
Yet even as China was showing off its military might near the Taiwan Strait, the US was conducting its own show of force in the Western Pacific, with an exercise called Summer Pulse 2004. This exercise is one of the largest naval drills the US has conducted in years, involving seven carrier strike groups - more than 120 warships, all over the world. The Pacific aspect of the exercise was widely interpreted by Taiwanese, as well as some Chinese and US pundits, as constituting a direct challenge to China.
The commander of US Pacific Forces, Admiral Thomas B Fargo, was in Beijing on a routine regional tour, and he was warned on Friday by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing to stop military exchanges and arms sales to Taiwan. This is precisely what Li t