Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Did the Bush Administration Lie to Congress and the 9/11 Commission?
9/11: Missing Black Boxes in World Trade Center Attacks Found by Firefighters, Analyzed by NTSB, Concealed by FBI

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Fallen Soldiers' Diaries Stir Up Vietnam

Two patriotic wartime diaries by a college student and doctor sell 380,000 copies in a few weeks

Ohmynews 5 Sept. 2005

When author Dang Vuong Hung brought his manuscript of Mai Mai Tuoi 20 (Forever 20 Years of Age) to Thanh Nien Publishing House, its director hesitated to print it, saying the book would meet the same fate of obscurity as other wartime diaries published before.

Hung, who reworked the Vietnam War-era diary of fallen soldier Nguyen Van Thac, tried to persuade the publisher that the work is a precious record which can impart many valuable lessons to the nation's modern youth.

But Hung and Thanh Nien Publishing House never imagined the great success Mai Mai Tuoi 20 has become, both in terms of sales and the impression it has made on the country. Over 380,000 copies have been sold, creating a "wave of patriotism" among readers, especially the young.

Nguyen Thanh Trung, 21, a student of economics said the book "helps me understand how tough the war was and the difficulties that the soldiers had to face. It also makes me think about myself and the way I live."

In Mai Mai Tuoi 20, Thac recorded his daily life in the war, his love for his girlfriend and his feelings and devotion towards his nation. Before becoming a soldier, Thac won first prize in the North Viet Nam Literary Writing Contest in 1970 for high school students. The young and ambitious man left college as a freshman for the front.

Another wartime diary by another doctor-cum-fallen solder, Dang Thuy Tram, titled Nhat ky Dang Thuy Trang (Dang Thuy Tram's Diary) has also caught the public's attention, as well as high-ranking government official
Le Kha Phieu, former General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, said:

"The examples of Dang Thuy Tram and Nguyen Van Thac are vivid images of a generation fighting to defend the independence, sovereignty and unification of the homeland. I think the examples set by these two war martyrs should be learnt by the current young generation."

In her diary, Tram wrote to her sister: "Nowhere else can the true value of man be seen as clearly than on the battle fields of the South at this time, where I will do many useful things ... to bring light to disabled people, to bring the joy and a little knowledge I have learnt all these 15 years under the roof of the socialist school. In hardship, I will find true happiness."

A hospital for the poor and miserable will be built soon in Quang Ngai--- the land on which she fought during the war. Tram's wish is now fulfilled by the financial donations from kind-hearted people nationwide who have been struck by what Tram sacrificed in wartime. A fund also called "Forever 20 Years of Age" has recently been set up to support young who excel in their studies and social activities.

The young doctor's diary is scheduled to be translated into Korean, Japanese and English.

Writing diaries during the Vietnam War was a common way to express the feelings of many soldiers. "There are many diaries left and kept by martyr's relatives. That is a valuable source to stir the patriotism and raison d'etre of youth," author Hung said.
Why Saddam is important:
The trial of Saddam Hussein is the lynchpin of America's bid for global hegemony and the verdict is already in: America loses

The following is a (relatively!) short draft of Max's thoughts about three books. If interested in more, contact:
Max Watts –

Some weeks ago my mate Nobby Braumann sent me a book review about Jane Fonda, that is a review of a book about Jane Fonda (1). In the meantime the book too has arrived, been read, thought about. A good review, a good book (2).
The Reviewer, Rick Perlstein, notes the author, Mary Hershberger’s, tendency to "defang" (1a) Jane Fonda. Make her almost into a Sainte Nina Nitouche. Yes. She – Mary – does that. To Jane. For instance, all through the Hershberger book FTA is gentililly translated only as: "Free The Army". Yes, but… Jane Fonda, in her own book (3), has no problem with the GI’s ruder: "Fuck..The Army."
Does no one, except old me, remember that that once was a recruiting slogan: FTA ? Join the Army, for Fun, Travel, and Adventure ?

Sometimes even I, usually very fond of Fonda, do feel that she swerves a bit towards the right, towards her "respectable" origins. Leaves herself open to being misunderstood, criticised, by her (real!) friends of the left. For instance, Jane has apologised fulsomely for (being photographed) sitting on a Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. This apology has been misconstrued in many ways. Me, I’d have said: "that anti-aircraft gun is a defensive weapon. It could harm no one but an intrusive bomber pilot, someone who has no business coming, bombing, killing, Vietnamese. In Vietnam, not America." But, obviously, I’m not Jane Fonda.

What Hershberger does, well, is to bring out that Jane Fonda was that rare peacenik who not only was first activated by a resister, RITA, soldier, but who – for several years – then linked her intense anti-war work to such GIs. A friend, a good friend, of the RITAs. A Frita.

That the gentle Jane Fonda was, and to some extent still is, the target of concentrated, vicious, attacks seems to have surprised many, to some extent even Hirshberger, who studied Fonda’s FBI dossiers in detail.

Resistance Inside The Armies is so dangerous to the establishments, the ruling classes, that even the most "gentille" Frita can expect ferocious reprisals. In a way, this confirmes their importance, their effectivity. That the contents of such attacks bear no resemblance to reality, indeed often stand truth on its head, is that surprising ? Fonda is attacked as anti-military – exactly she, who bust her guts working with, for, soldiers !

Reading both the Hershberger book and even Jane Fonda’s own autobiography I am again sadened by the lack, disappearance of the FTA Film, shot with Fonda and Donald Sutherland in Hawai, Okinawa, the Philippines and Japan in December 1971. FTA was released and immediately "murdered" in July 1972 (4).

Here we see that Jane Fonda’s work, with and for the American Soldiers, went far further than a simple critique of the Vietnam war.

It included:
anti-racism, discrimination against Black Soldiers, Americans
Labor Union struggles – here in Okinawa, but easily extended all over
Anti-imperialism – in the Philippines; us "Oldies" were really touched when the marchers sing the Internationale, a rarum in any American Film
Women’s rights, oppression, resistance, inside the military, but of course also outside.
In Hiroshima, in Japan, the danger of past, of future, atomic wars. The US military attempts at re-introducing illegal nuclear weapons into Japan
How to deal – effectively – with pro-war, anti-Fonda, soldiers.

And – to terminate – a general attack on militarism, with – Donald Sutherland – making the point that there is always a danger for the ruling classes in RITA, that the guns can, sometimes, be turned around…

No wonder that FTA film was, apparently on direct orders of the Nixon Watergate White House, murdered. Neither Hershberger nor Fonda have yet pursued this trail, found that smoking gun !

The FTA film has, almost miraculously, been reborn. It now reappears directly in a "found" clean copy, and, in parts, with Jane Fonda both then (1971) and now (2005) in the brand new Zeiger documentary:

"Sir No Sir !" (5)

Unfortunately Hershberger does not mention "Iraq", nor that newest, best ? Fonda film (5).

Hershberger may be excused – concentrating on the GI and antiwar aspect of Fonda’s work – for failing to examine the "other" issues (unions, racism, feminism, imperialism, nukes…) – but it is a pity that she ignored, is apparently unaware of, the direct influence Jane Fonda had on the US Air Farce Rita in England. .

A complete description of Jane Fonda’s antiwar GI work should include the induced effects of her friendship, example, leadership on her British colleague and close friend - Vanessa Redgrave.

Fonda took Redgrave to the Ocean Park US Marine Corps base, distributed the local and West Coast GI papers there. The – at first anxious - Redgrave was "blown away". Enthusiastic. She soon felt "... I must initiate a similar campaign in Britain with the American GIs stationed on the giant USAF bases in East Anglia…"(6). She did. With further help from Jane Fonda, successfully. Of course the American Airpeople would have – sooner or later – organised themselves, but there is no doubt that the "induced Frita Redgrave" gave important start-up help. An unsung story, one of so many !

Max Watts


(1) Rick Perlstein: "Operation Barbarella"; London Review of Books (1). LRB Vol. 27 No. 22; 17 November 2005

(1a) Maxism: "pull her fangs out"

(2) Hershberger, Mary:

"Jane Fonda’s War - A Political Biography of an antiwar Icon";
New Press/ Norton – New York, 2005, 228 pp, ISBN 1-56584-988-4 (hc);
US $ 24.95

(3) Fonda, Jane Fonda – "My Life So Far"; Random House, New York, 2005,
600 pp, ISBN 0-375-50710-8, US $ 26.95

(4) FTA: Film – DVD/Video: with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, et al. 97 mins. For information, contact Max Watts,

(5) "Sir ! No Sir !" Film – 2005, release pending.

Contact: David Zeiger,
Displaced Films; 3421 Fernwood Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90039,
Phone: 1 323 906 9249w

(6) Redgrave, Vanessa: An autobiography; Arrow Books Ltd.
20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA, England;1992
ISBN 0 09 983610 6
First Published in GB by Hutchinson in 1991

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Nobel lecture
Art, truth and politics
British writer Harold Pinter is winner of the 2005 Nobel prize for literature. This is his acceptance speech, delivered by video as the ailing Pinter has been forbidden by doctors from travelling to Stockholm.

In his Nobel acceptance speech, Harold Pinter excoriated a 'brutal, scornful and ruthless' United States.
This is the full text of his address.

Harold Pinter
Thursday December 8, 2005
Guardian Unlimited

In 1958 I wrote the following:

'There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.'

I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false?

Truth in drama is forever elusive. You never quite find it but the search for it is compulsive. The search is clearly what drives the endeavour. The search is your task. More often than not you stumble upon the truth in the dark, colliding with it or just glimpsing an image or a shape which seems to correspond to the truth, often without realising that you have done so. But the real truth is that there never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost.

I have often been asked how my plays come about. I cannot say. Nor can I ever sum up my plays, except to say that this is what happened. That is what they said. That is what they did.
Most of the plays are engendered by a line, a word or an image. The given word is often shortly followed by the image. I shall give two examples of two lines which came right out of the blue into my head, followed by an image, followed by me.

The plays are The Homecoming and Old Times. The first line of The Homecoming is 'What have you done with the scissors?' The first line of Old Times is 'Dark.'

In each case I had no further information.

In the first case someone was obviously looking for a pair of scissors and was demanding their whereabouts of someone else he suspected had probably stolen them. But I somehow knew that the person addressed didn't give a damn about the scissors or about the questioner either, for that matter.

'Dark' I took to be a description of someone's hair, the hair of a woman, and was the answer to a question. In each case I found myself compelled to pursue the matter. This happened visually, a very slow fade, through shadow into light.

I always start a play by calling the characters A, B and C.

In the play that became The Homecoming I saw a man enter a stark room and ask his question of a younger man sitting on an ugly sofa reading a racing paper. I somehow suspected that A was a father and that B was his son, but I had no proof. This was however confirmed a short time later when B (later to become Lenny) says to A (later to become Max), 'Dad, do you mind if I change the subject? I want to ask you something. The dinner we had before, what was the name of it? What do you call it? Why don't you buy a dog? You're a dog cook. Honest. You think you're cooking for a lot of dogs.'

So since B calls A 'Dad' it seemed to me reasonable to assume that they were father and son. A was also clearly the cook and his cooking did not seem to be held in high regard. Did this mean that there was no mother? I didn't know. But, as I told myself at the time, our beginnings never know our ends.

'Dark.' A large window. Evening sky. A man, A (later to become Deeley), and a woman, B (later to become Kate), sitting with drinks. 'Fat or thin?' the man asks. Who are they talking about? But I then see, standing at the window, a woman, C (later to become Anna), in another condition of light, her back to them, her hair dark.

It's a strange moment, the moment of creating characters who up to that moment have had no existence. What follows is fitful, uncertain, even hallucinatory, although sometimes it can be an unstoppable avalanche. The author's position is an odd one. In a sense he is not welcomed by the characters. The characters resist him, they are not easy to live with, they are impossible to define. You certainly can't dictate to them. To a certain extent you play a never-ending game with them, cat and mouse, blind man's buff, hide and seek. But finally you find that you have people of flesh and blood on your hands, people with will and an individual sensibility of their own, made out of component parts you are unable to change, manipulate or distort.

So language in art remains a highly ambiguous transaction, a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool which might give way under you, the author, at any time.

But as I have said, the search for the truth can never stop. It cannot be adjourned, it cannot be postponed. It has to be faced, right there, on the spot.

Political theatre presents an entirely different set of problems. Sermonising has to be avoided at all cost. Objectivity is essential. The characters must be allowed to breathe their own air. The author cannot confine and constrict them to satisfy his own taste or disposition or prejudice. He must be prepared to approach them from a variety of angles, from a full and uninhibited range of perspectives, take them by surprise, perhaps, occasionally, but nevertheless give them the freedom to go which way they will. This does not always work. And political satire, of course, adheres to none of these precepts, in fact does precisely the opposite, which is its proper function.

In my play The Birthday Party I think I allow a whole range of options to operate in a dense forest of possibility before finally focussing on an act of subjugation.

Mountain Language pretends to no such range of operation. It remains brutal, short and ugly. But the soldiers in the play do get some fun out of it. One sometimes forgets that torturers become easily bored. They need a bit of a laugh to keep their spirits up. This has been confirmed of course by the events at Abu Ghraib in Baghdad. Mountain Language lasts only 20 minutes, but it could go on for hour after hour, on and on and on, the same pattern repeated over and over again, on and on, hour after hour.

Ashes to Ashes, on the other hand, seems to me to be taking place under water. A drowning woman, her hand reaching up through the waves, dropping down out of sight, reaching for others, but finding nobody there, either above or under the water, finding only shadows, reflections, floating; the woman a lost figure in a drowning landscape, a woman unable to escape the doom that seemed to belong only to others. But as they died, she must die too.

Political language, as used by politicians, does not venture into any of this territory since the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power.

To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.

As every single person here knows, the justification for the invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein possessed a highly dangerous body of weapons of mass destruction, some of which could be fired in 45 minutes, bringing about appalling devastation. We were assured that was true. It was not true.

We were told that Iraq had a relationship with Al Quaeda and shared responsibility for the atrocity in New York of September 11th 2001. We were assured that this was true. It was not true.

We were told that Iraq threatened the security of the world. We were assured it was true. It was not true.

The truth is something entirely different. The truth is to do with how the United States understands its role in the world and how it chooses to embody it.

But before I come back to the present I would like to look at the recent past, by which I mean United States foreign policy since the end of the Second World War. I believe it is obligatory upon us to subject this period to at least some kind of even limited scrutiny, which is all that time will allow here.

Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought. All this has been fully documented and verified.

But my contention here is that the US crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognised as crimes at all. I believe this must be addressed and that the truth has considerable bearing on where the world stands now.

Although constrained, to a certain extent, by the existence of the Soviet Union, the United States' actions throughout the world made it clear that it had concluded it had carte blanche to do what it liked.

Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America's favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as 'low intensity conflict'.

Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop.

It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued - or beaten to death - the same thing - and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed. This was a commonplace in US foreign policy in the years to which I refer.

The tragedy of Nicaragua was a highly significant case. I choose to offer it here as a potent example of America's view of its role in the world, both then and now.

I was present at a meeting at the US embassy in London in the late 1980s.

The United States Congress was about to decide whether to give more money to the Contras in their campaign against the state of Nicaragua. I was a member of a delegation speaking on behalf of Nicaragua but the most important member of this delegation was a Father John Metcalf. The leader of the US body was Raymond Seitz (then number two to the ambassador, later ambassador himself).

Father Metcalf said: 'Sir, I am in charge of a parish in the north of Nicaragua. My parishioners built a school, a health centre, a cultural centre. We have lived in peace. A few months ago a Contra force attacked the parish. They destroyed everything: the school, the health centre, the cultural centre. They raped nurses and teachers, slaughtered doctors, in the most brutal manner. They behaved like savages. Please demand that the US government withdraw its support from this shocking terrorist activity.'

Raymond Seitz had a very good reputation as a rational, responsible and highly sophisticated man. He was greatly respected in diplomatic circles. He listened, paused and then spoke with some gravity.

'Father,' he said, 'let me tell you something. In war, innocent people always suffer.' There was a frozen silence. We stared at him. He did not flinch.

Innocent people, indeed, always suffer.

Finally somebody said: 'But in this case "innocent people" were the victims of a gruesome atrocity subsidised by your government, one among many. If Congress allows the Contras more money further atrocities of this kind will take place. Is this not the case? Is your government not therefore guilty of supporting acts of murder and destruction upon the citizens of a sovereign state?'

Seitz was imperturbable. 'I don't agree that the facts as presented support your assertions,' he said.

As we were leaving the Embassy a US aide told me that he enjoyed my plays. I did not reply.

I should remind you that at the time President Reagan made the following statement: 'The Contras are the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers.'

The United States supported the brutal Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua for over 40 years. The Nicaraguan people, led by the Sandinistas, overthrew this regime in 1979, a breathtaking popular revolution.

The Sandinistas weren't perfect. They possessed their fair share of arrogance and their political philosophy contained a number of contradictory elements. But they were intelligent, rational and civilised. They set out to establish a stable, decent, pluralistic society. The death penalty was abolished. Hundreds of thousands of poverty-stricken peasants were brought back from the dead. Over 100,000 families were given title to land. Two thousand schools were built. A quite remarkable literacy campaign reduced illiteracy in the country to less than one seventh. Free education was established and a free health service. Infant mortality was reduced by a third. Polio was eradicated.

The United States denounced these achievements as Marxist/Leninist subversion. In the view of the US government, a dangerous example was being set.

If Nicaragua was allowed to establish basic norms of social and economic justice, if it was allowed to raise the standards of health care and education and achieve social unity and national self respect, neighbouring countries would ask the same questions and do the same things. There was of course at the time fierce resistance to the status quo in El Salvador.

I spoke earlier about 'a tapestry of lies' which surrounds us. President Reagan commonly described Nicaragua as a 'totalitarian dungeon'. This was taken generally by the media, and certainly by the British government, as accurate and fair comment.

But there was in fact no record of death squads under the Sandinista government. There was no record of torture. There was no record of systematic or official military brutality. No priests were ever murdered in Nicaragua. There were in fact three priests in the government, two Jesuits and a Maryknoll missionary.

The totalitarian dungeons were actually next door, in El Salvador and Guatemala. The United States had brought down the democratically elected government of Guatemala in 1954 and it is estimated that over 200,000 people had been victims of successive military dictatorships.

Six of the most distinguished Jesuits in the world were viciously murdered at the Central American University in San Salvador in 1989 by a battalion of the Alcatl regiment trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, USA.

That extremely brave man Archbishop Romero was assassinated while saying mass. It is estimated that 75,000 people died. Why were they killed? They were killed because they believed a better life was possible and should be achieved. That belief immediately qualified them as communists.

They died because they dared to question the status quo, the endless plateau of poverty, disease, degradation and oppression, which had been their birthright.

The United States finally brought down the Sandinista government. It took some years and considerable resistance but relentless economic persecution and 30,000 dead finally undermined the spirit of the Nicaraguan people. They were exhausted and poverty stricken once again. The casinos moved back into the country. Free health and free education were over. Big business returned with a vengeance. 'Democracy' had prevailed.

But this 'policy' was by no means restricted to Central America. It was conducted throughout the world. It was never-ending. And it is as if it never happened.

The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War.

I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile.

The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it.
It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest.

The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them.

You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It's a winner.

Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, 'the American people', as in the sentence, 'I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.'

It's a scintillating stratagem.

Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable.

This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US.

The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour.

It quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant. It also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain.

What has happened to our moral sensibility?
Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days - conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead?

Look at Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of people detained without charge for over three years, with no legal representation or due process, technically detained forever. This totally illegitimate structure is maintained in defiance of the Geneva Convention. It is not only tolerated but hardly thought about by what's called the 'international community'.

This criminal outrage is being committed by a country, which declares itself to be 'the leader of the free world'. Do we think about the inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay? What does the media say about them? They pop up occasionally - a small item on page six. They have been consigned to a no man's land from which indeed they may never return.

At present many are on hunger strike, being force-fed, including British residents. No niceties in these force-feeding procedures. No sedative or anaesthetic. Just a tube stuck up your nose and into your throat. You vomit blood. This is torture.

What has the British Foreign Secretary said about this? Nothing. What has the British Prime Minister said about this? Nothing. Why not? Because the United States has said: to criticise our conduct in Guantanamo Bay constitutes an unfriendly act. You're either with us or against us. So Blair shuts up.

The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law.

The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading - as a last resort - all other justifications having failed to justify themselves - as liberation.

A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.

How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal?
One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought.

Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush has warned that he will send in the marines.

But Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have his address if they're interested. It is Number 10, Downing Street, London.

Death in this context is irrelevant. Both Bush and Blair place death well away on the back burner. At least 100,000 Iraqis were killed by American bombs and missiles before the Iraq insurgency began. These people are of no moment. Their deaths don't exist. They are blank. They are not even recorded as being dead. 'We don't do body counts,' said the American general Tommy Franks.

Early in the invasion there was a photograph published on the front page of British newspapers of Tony Blair kissing the cheek of a little Iraqi boy. 'A grateful child,' said the caption. A few days later there was a story and photograph, on an inside page, of another four-year-old boy with no arms. His family had been blown up by a missile. He was the only survivor. 'When do I get my arms back?' he asked. The story was dropped. Well, Tony Blair wasn't holding him in his arms, nor the body of any other mutilated child, nor the body of any bloody corpse. Blood is dirty. It dirties your shirt and tie when you're making a sincere speech on television.

The 2,000 American dead are an embarrassment.

They are transported to their graves in the dark. Funerals are unobtrusive, out of harm's way. The mutilated rot in their beds, some for the rest of their lives. So the dead and the mutilated both rot, in different kinds of graves.

Here is an extract from a poem by Pablo Neruda, 'I'm Explaining a Few Things':

And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on, and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors, bandits with finger-rings and duchesses, bandits with black friars spattering blessings came through the sky to kill children and the blood of children ran through the streets without fuss, like children's blood.
Jackals that the jackals would despise,
stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
vipers that the vipers would abominate.
Face to face with you I have seen the blood of Spain
tower like a tide to drown you in one wave of pride and knives.
Treacherous generals:
see my dead house, look at broken Spain:
from every house burning metal flows instead of flowers
from every socket of Spain Spain emerges
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes
and from every crime bullets are born
which will one day find the bull's eye of your hearts.
And you will ask: why doesn't his poetry speak of dreams and leaves and the great volcanoes of his native land.
Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
the blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
in the streets! *

Let me make it quite clear that in quoting from Neruda's poem I am in no way comparing Republican Spain to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. I quote Neruda because nowhere in contemporary poetry have I read such a powerful visceral description of the bombing of civilians.

I have said earlier that the United States is now totally frank about putting its cards on the table. That is the case. Its official declared policy is now defined as 'full spectrum dominance'. That is not my term, it is theirs.

'Full spectrum dominance' means control of land, sea, air and space and all attendant resources.

The United States now occupies 702 military installations throughout the world in 132 countries, with the honourable exception of Sweden, of course. We don't quite know how they got there but they are there all right.

The United States possesses 8,000 active and operational nuclear warheads. Two thousand are on hair trigger alert, ready to be launched with 15 minutes warning.

It is developing new systems of nuclear force, known as bunker busters.

The British, ever cooperative, are intending to replace their own nuclear missile, Trident. Who, I wonder, are they aiming at? Osama bin Laden? You? Me? Joe Dokes? China? Paris? Who knows? What we do know is that this infantile insanity - the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons - is at the heart of present American political philosophy.

We must remind ourselves that the United States is on a permanent military footing and shows no sign of relaxing it.

Many thousands, if not millions, of people in the United States itself are demonstrably sickened, shamed and angered by their government's actions, but as things stand they are not a coherent political force - yet.

But the anxiety, uncertainty and fear which we can see growing daily in the United States is unlikely to diminish.

I know that President Bush has many extremely competent speech writers but I would like to volunteer for the job myself. I propose the following short address which he can make on television to the nation. I see him grave, hair carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, curiously attractive, a man's man.

'God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it.'

A writer's life is a highly vulnerable, almost naked activity. We don't have to weep about that. The writer makes his choice and is stuck with it. But it is true to say that you are open to all the winds, some of them icy indeed. You are out on your own, out on a limb. You find no shelter, no protection - unless you lie - in which case of course you have constructed your own protection and, it could be argued, become a politician.

I have referred to death quite a few times this evening. I shall now quote a poem of my own called 'Death'.

Where was the dead body found?
Who found the dead body?
Was the dead body dead when found?
How was the dead body found?
Who was the dead body?
Who was the father or daughter or brother
Or uncle or sister or mother or son
Of the dead and abandoned body?
Was the body dead when abandoned?
Was the body abandoned?
By whom had it been abandoned?
Was the dead body naked or dressed for a journey?
What made you declare the dead body dead?
Did you declare the dead body dead?
How well did you know the dead body?
How did you know the dead body was dead?
Did you wash the dead body
Did you close both its eyes
Did you bury the body
Did you leave it abandoned
Did you kiss the dead body

When we look into a mirror we think the image that confronts us is accurate. But move a millimetre and the image changes. We are actually looking at a never-ending range of reflections. But sometimes a writer has to smash the mirror - for it is on the other side of that mirror that the truth stares at us.

I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.

If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us - the dignity of man.

* Extract from "I'm Explaining a Few Things" translated by Nathaniel Tarn, from Pablo Neruda: Selected Poems, published by Jonathan Cape, London 1970. Used by permission of The Random House Group Limited.

© The Nobel Foundation 2005
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

After several rounds of:
"We don't even know if Osama is still alive",
Osama himself decided to send George Bush a letter in his own handwriting to let him know he was still in the game.

Bush opened the letter and it appeared to contain a coded message:


Bush was baffled, so he e-mailed it to Colin Powell. Colin and his aides had no clue either so they sent it to the FBI.

No one could solve it so it went to the CIA, then to the NSA, then to the Secret Service.

With no clue as to its meaning, they eventually asked Britain's MI-6 for help.

The response from MI-6 to the White House was:
"Tell the President he is holding the letter upside down!"

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Corporate television news is undermining your right to know. Thousands of people have died, and are still dying, in a war that a majority of people believe is based on half truths and misinformation.

Congressman John Murtha said, "We've increased terrorism in the Middle East... We've increased instability in the Middle East."

The world is a more dangerous place for all of us. We have a right to know the truth, but corporate television reports on propaganda as if it's reality. This leads to public support for policies that have little to do with the facts.

Watch the new 3 minute video with Gore Vidal, Phil Donahue, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein and Paul Jay at

See their take on how corporate TV news failed on the Iraq story from the start and how IWTnews is building an independent television network brave enough to report the truth.

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Go to and donate to help us produce independent journalism.

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We're creating production units in Iraq, Afghanistan and New Orleans. IWTnews will produce short current affairs documentaries that deliver the uncompromising journalism we so urgently need. Our flagship news show - IWTnews Nightly - will be an hour-long news program, fearlessly reporting on the world as it is. It will be seen on cable, satellite and the web. Your support makes it possible.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

From TomDispatch
a project of the Nation Institute

To send this to a friend, or to read more dispatches, go to

Tomgram: A Cult of Presidential Power
The Unrestrained President

By Tom Engelhardt

As 2006 begins, we seem to be at a not-completely-unfamiliar crossroads in the long history of the American imperial presidency. It grew up, shedding presidential constraints, in the post-World War II years as part of the rise of the national security state and the military-industrial complex.

It reached its constraint-less apogee with Richard Nixon's presidency and what became known as
the Watergate scandal -- an event marked by Nixon's attempt to create his own private national security apparatus which he directed to secretly commit various high crimes and misdemeanors for him. It was as close as we came -- until now -- to a presidential coup d'etat that might functionally have abrogated the Constitution.

In those years, the potential dangers of an unfettered presidency (so apparent to the nation's founding fathers) became obvious to a great many Americans. As now, a failed war helped drag the President's plans down and, in the case of Nixon, ended in personal disgrace and resignation, as well as in a brief resurgence of congressional oversight activity. All this mitigated, and modestly deflected, the growth trajectory of the imperial presidency -- for a time.

The "cabal," as
Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's chief of staff at the State Department, has called Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and various of their neoconish pals, stewed over this for years, along with a group of lawyers who were prepared, once the moment came, to give a sheen of legality to any presidential act.

The group of them used the post-9/11 moment to launch a wholesale campaign to recapture the "lost" powers of the imperial presidency, attempting not, as in the case of Nixon, to create an alternate national security apparatus but to purge and capture the existing one for their private purposes.

Under George Bush, Dick Cheney, and their assorted advisers, acolytes, and zealots, a virtual cult of unconstrained presidential power has been constructed, centered around the figure of Bush himself.

While much has been made of feverish Christian fundamentalist support for the President, the real religious fervor in this administration has been almost singularly focused on the quite un-Christian attribute of total earthly power.

Typical of the fierce ideologues and cultists now in the White House is Cheney's new Chief of Staff David Addington. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank described him this way back in 2004 (when he was still Cheney's "top lawyer"):

"[A] principal author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects... a prime advocate of arguments supporting the holding of terrorism suspects without access to courts[,] Addington also led the fight with Congress and environmentalists over access to information about corporations that advised the White House on energy policy. He was instrumental in the series of fights with the Sept. 11 commission and its requests for information... Even in a White House known for its dedication to conservative philosophy, Addington is known as an ideologue, an adherent of an obscure philosophy called the unitary executive theory that favors an extraordinarily powerful president."

For these cultists of an all-powerful presidency, the holy war, the "crusade" to be embarked upon was, above all, aimed at creating a President accountable to no one, overseen by no one, and restricted by no other force or power in his will to act as he saw fit.

And so, in this White House, all roads have led back to one issue: How to press ever harder at the weakening boundaries of presidential power. This is why, when critics concentrate on any specific issue or set of administration acts, no matter how egregious or significant, they invariably miss the point.

The issue, it turns out, is never primarily -- to take just two areas of potentially illegal administration activity -- torture or warrantless surveillance. Though each of them had value and importance to top administration officials, they were nonetheless primarily the means to an end.

This is why the announcement of (and definition of) the "global war on terror" almost immediately after the 9/11 attacks was so important.

It was to be a "war" without end. No one ever attempted to define what
"victory" might actually consist of, though we were assured that the war itself would, like the Cold War, last generations. Even the recent sudden presidential announcement that we will now settle only for "complete victory" in Iraq is, in this context, a distinctly limited goal because Iraq has already been defined as but a single "theater" (though a "central" one) in a larger war on terror.

A war without end, of course, left the President as a commander-in-chief-without-end and it was in such a guise that the acolytes of that "obscure philosophy" of total presidential power planned to claim their "inherent" constitutional right to do essentially anything. (Imagine what might have happened if their invasion of Iraq had been a success!)

Having established their global war on terror, and so their "war powers," in the fall of 2001, top administration officials then moved remarkably quickly to the outer limits of power -- by plunging into the issue of torture.

After all, if you can establish a presidential right to order torture (no matter how you manage to redefine it) as well as to hold captives under a category of warfare dredged up from the legal dustbin of history in prisons especially established to be beyond the reach of the law or the oversight of anyone but those under your command, you've established a presidential right to do just about anything imaginable.

While the get-tough aura of torture may indeed have appealed to some of these worshippers of power, what undoubtedly appealed to them most was the moving of the presidential goalposts, the changing of the rules.

From Abu Ghraib on, the results of all this have been obvious enough, but one crucial aspect of such unfettered presidential power goes regularly unmentioned.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.
Tomgram: Brecher and Smith on the Imperial Presidency

Typically, when faced with a problem, the first thing Bush administration officials do is reach for their dictionaries
to pretzel and torture words into whatever shape best suits them. Then they declare themselves simply to be following precedent (which turns out, of course, to be whatever they've wanted to do all along). In this way, in the famous torture memos that flowed from the White House Counsel's office, the Justice Department, and the Pentagon, the meaning of "torture" was at one point in 2002 redefined into near nonexistence ("must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death") and then made dependent on the mind and intent of the torturer. As a result, "torture" became, by definition, a policy we didn't engage in even as we waterboarded sus! pects in our global network of CIA-run (or borrowed) secret prisons. In a similar fashion, this administration has managed to redefine aggressive war, kidnapping, the President's powers to detain both citizens and non-citizens, assassination, the meaning of various international agreements and American laws, and the Constitution itself. Then, definitions in hand, administration officials have marched defiantly into the world, armed to the teeth, and done exactly what they pleased.

Just this week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice headed for a Europe whose various publics (and media) are up in arms over CIA behavior -- the use of airports, military bases, and
former compounds or prisons of the old Soviet Gulag to facilitate illegal detentions, kidnappings (called "extraordinary renditions"), and the torture and abuse of various terror suspects. Some of these suspects have been held for long periods and abused in numerous ways, only to be found innocent of any criminal acts whatsoever. This has, it seems, become common enough to gain a name of its own among CIA cognoscenti -- "erroneous renditions." Such high-handed actions, undertaken in a spirit of impunity, are today making their way to various European courts and bodies of inquiry.
Our Secretary of State, on the eve of her departure, finally offered an administration response to this and, for instance, to the recent revelation that the CIA had
sent 437 flights (assumedly on various rendition tasks) through German airspace since 2001 -- some certainly carrying captured or kidnapped "ghost detainees" to secret prisons elsewhere on Earth. She essentially said: "Trust us…"; offered implicit threats to release information on what European officials may have known about our illegal activities to their angry publics ("It is up to those governments and their citizens to decide if they wish to work with us to prevent terrorist attacks against their own country or other countries, and decide how much sensitive information they can make public. They have a sovereign right to make that choice."); and emphasized that this administration a! lways acts within the law and, as our President insists, simply does not torture -- even while our Vice President and other top officials lobby vigorously against Senator John McCain's anti-torture amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill reiterating that it is the law of the land not to offer those in our custody "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment."
In a classic case of we're-innocent-and-anyway-they-did-it,
Rice on departure admitted to the use of "rendition" and then painted it as a time-tested technique of practically all governments on the planet. "Torture," she added, "is a term that is defined by law. We rely on our law to govern our operations. The United States does not permit, tolerate, or condone torture under any circumstances… The United States does not transport, and has not transported, detainees from one country to another for the purpose of interrogation using torture. The United States does not use the airspace or the airports of any country for the purpose of transporting a detainee to a country where he or she will be tortured." These are, of course, outright lies -- except according to the Bush administration definitions of such things -- and typical of the beha! vior of its officials.

In fact, those officials seem to carry handy-dandy dictionaries in their heads -- and so regularly redefine reality on the run to suit their immediate needs. How about, to take a recent lighthearted example, our Secretary of Defense Donald ("
I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?") Rumsfeld, who is a walking redefinition of just about anything. According to his own account, he had a revelation worthy of the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary over Thanksgiving weekend and sent a memo around the Pentagon suggesting the eradication of the Iraqi "insurgency" by wiping out the I-word itself. Urging journalists to "consult their dictionaries," the SecDef told them: "Over the weekend, I thought to myself, 'You know, that [term "insurgent"] gives them a greater legitimacy than they seem to! merit… It was an epiphany." Instead of the label "insurgents," he suggested, why not use "enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government" or ELIG?

Behind such verbal shenanigans, as Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith make clear below, lies a deeply serious attempt to pull our government fully into the shadows, to make it a black hole into which vast amounts of information and power of every sort will flow, and out of which nothing is to come but Bush definitions of reality. This is chilling indeed. Brecher and Smith (along with co-editor Jill Cutler) have produced an indispensable paperback,
In the Name of Democracy, American War Crimes in Iraq and Beyond, which collects a chilling set of documents from the frontlines of administration illegality and offers striking essays about the lengths to which this administration has been willing to go and the degree to which we are living under a criminal regime.


War Crimes Made Easy

How the Bush Administration Legalized Intelligence Deceptions, Assassinations, and Aggressive War

By Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith
Click here to read more of this dispatch.
Iraq Confidential
The Untold Story of America’s Intelligence Conspiracy

Scott Ritter, former US weapons inspector in Iraq.
With an introduction by Seymour Hersh.

From Press Release for this new book:

Scott Ritter is the straight-talking former marine officer whom the CIA wants to silence.

After the 1991 Gulf war Ritter helped lead the UN weapons inspections of Iraq, and found himself at the centre of a dangerous game between the Iraqi and US regimes.

As Ritter reveals in this explosive book, Washington was only ever interested in disarmament as a tool for its own agenda.

Operating in a fog of espionage and counter-espionage, Ritter and his team were determined to find out the truth about Iraq’s WMD. The CIA were equally determined to stop them.

For the truth, we now know, was that Iraq was playing a deadly game of double-bluff, and actually had no WMD. But to have revealed this would have derailed America’s drive for regime change.

Iraq Confidential charts the disillusionment of a staunch patriot who came to realise that his own government sought to undermine effective arms control in the Middle East.

Ritter shows us a world of deceit and betrayal, in which nothing is as it seems.

A host of characters from Mossad, MI6 and the CIA pepper this powerful narrative, which contains revelations that will permanently affect the ongoing debates about Iraq.

From: Jeanie Lucas
From TomDispatch

To send this to a friend, or to read more dispatches, go to

Tomgram: Michael Schwartz, Ten Ways to Argue about the War

What a couple of weeks in Iraq (and at home):
Withdrawal was suddenly on everyone's lips, while tragedy and absurdity were piling up like some vast, serial car wreck of event and emotion. Before a massed audience of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy, our President announced a new war goal beyond finding weapons of mass destruction, bringing freedom to Iraqis, or liberating the whole of the Middle East; something more modest this time -- "complete victory" -- over whomever. In the meantime, ten Marines died in a trap near Fallujah. Remember Fallujah? The city we literally destroyed in order to save it and then didn't quite get around to rebuilding as the Sunni Triangle's first safe haven from insurgency a! nd terrorism? Now, it's a danger zone again and still significantly in rubble. In these same weeks, the use of white phosphorus, a fierce burning agent, back in November 2004 to force rebels in Fallujah out of their defenses suddenly became a global news story and a scandal (though its use was actually known at the time); the Europeans began demanding explanations from the Bush administration for the kidnapping, transport, and secret imprisonment of suspected terrorists on their territory; a torture chamber/detention center run by the Interior Ministry but connected to the militia of the leading Shiite religious party in the Iraqi government was uncovered by American troops; it was evidently part of a long known-about "ghost network" of such centers linked to government and party-sponsored (and possibly U.S. backed or trained) death squads intent on intimidating or cleansing the Sunni ! neighborhoods of Iraq's cities. Ever more American war planes were reportedly taking to Iraqi skies and more American bombs falling on Iraq's towns and cities. Saddam reappeared in court, his hair dyed black, complaining and carrying a Koran like the good religious man he surely isn't; and it was revealed that, in the process of bringing freedom to Iraqis, a Pentagon-hired "business intelligence" firm had done its darnedest to turn a burgeoning Iraqi free press into a paid-for press. This was done in the struggle to conquer what is known in the trade as Iraq's "information battlespace." Not only that, but the story took us a full, ridiculous spin of the dial back to the earliest moments of our conquest of Iraq. At that time, administration officials arrived in Baghdad so filled! with hubris that it didn't occur to them to bring along anyone who knew anything about Iraq, no less actual translators. In the case of our newspaper caper, clearly a psyops-for-dummies operation, some of the paid-for stories were written by American servicemen and then translated into Arabic. These must have been truly convincing accounts! (Imagine the opposite: Iraqi soldiers in camps in the U.S. hired to write articles translated into English to help win the war for American "information battlespace.") And believe me, that's only a bit of the week or two that was.
The President spoke of "progress" in Iraq, but who could possibly believe him at this point? A majority of Americans clearly no longer do, but a minority -- about 36% according to the polls -- seem to be hanging in there, though perhaps with difficulty, like worried Republican Congressman from Georgia, Phil Gingrey. While fretting about re-election, he was nonetheless quoted in
the Washington Post, saying, "The light is there at the end of the tunnel. People need to see it." Again, you don't know whether to laugh or cry. In what follows, Michael Schwartz takes the arguments that remain for war supporters and that still can confound antiwar people and answers them one by one. Tom
Arguing about the WarThe Top Ten Reasons for Staying in (Leaving) IraqBy Michael Schwartz
I often receive emails -- pro and con -- about my postings on the war in Iraq, and I try to respond to any substantive questions or critiques offered. But when I received an email recently entitled "10 Questions" in response to a
Tomdispatch commentary detailing the arguments for immediate withdrawal, I must admit my heart sank -- the questions were familiar, but the answers were complex and I was in no mood to spend the time needed to respond properly.
After a couple of days, however, I began to warm to the idea of writing short but pointed responses to these common criticisms of antiwar positions because, I realized, they are the bread and butter of daily Iraq discourse in our country. When the war comes up in the media or in casual conversation, these are the issues that are raised by those who think we have to "stay the course" -- and among those who oppose the war, these are the lurking, unspoken questions that haunt our discussions. So here are my best brief answers to these key issues in the crucial, ongoing debate over Iraq.
"I read your article on withdrawal of American troops," my correspondent began, "and questioned the lack of discussion of the following…" (His comments are in bold.)
1. Nothing was mentioned about improvements in Iraq (elections, water and energy, schools). No Saddam to fear!
Water and energy delivery as well as schools are worse off than before the U.S. invasion. Ditto for the state of hospitals (and medical supplies), highways, and oil production. Elections are a positive change, but the elected government does not have more than a semblance of actual sovereignty, and therefore the Iraqi people have no power to make real choices about their future. One critical example: The Shiite/Kurdish political coalition now in power ran on a platform whose primary promise was that, if elected, they would set and enforce a timetable for American withdrawal. As soon as they took power, they reneged on this promise (apparently under pressure from the US). They have also proved quit! e incapable of fulfilling their other campaign promises about restoring services and rebuilding the country; and for that reason (as well as others), their constituents (primarily the Shia) are becoming ever more disillusioned. In the most recent polls, Shia Iraqis now are about 70% in favor of U.S. withdrawal.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.
From Alain, the whiz kid of amazing facts & surprising statistics!.......
Where does he get them from?!

"Regarding the Vietnam war with the USA, did you know that the US boys were involved in heavy firing and life threatening shooting for a period of 240 days during their 13 month duty.

This is 6 times more than for the US Army during WW 2.

Did you also know that at any moment during the period 1965 / 1973 there were statistically at least 115 airplanes or helicopters in the air: incredible."

Incredible, indeed.
Thanks Alain!
Italian documentary confirms:
U.S. used napalm in Falluja

By David Hoskins
Published Nov 17, 2005 10:24 PM

New evidence came to light earlier this month that confirmed reports in Workers World newspaper and elsewhere that the U.S. military had used internationally banned chemical weapons, including white phosphorus and napalm, during its November 2004 attack on Falluja.

The U.S. government adamantly denied these reports at the time. Reports of the alleged U.S. war crimes were notably absent from the pages of most Western newspapers and there was virtually no discussion of the issue on cable news stations or talk radio. Al Jazeera’s facility in Iraq was forcibly shut down in an attempt to stifle journalistic inquiry into these reports.

Now, almost a year later, Italian state television RAI has produced a documentary confirming that U.S. forces in fact used white phosphorus and MK77 Mod 5—a napalm derivative—in Falluja. And the Guardian of London has called Falluja an atrocity on the scale of My Lai and Guernica, estimating 7,000 civilian dead.

While MK77 Mod 5 uses a formula consisting of a smaller concentration of benzene, the effects are exactly the same as napalm.

The use of these incendiary weapons is a violation of the 1980 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

Workers World newspaper had published an article in its Dec. 2, 2004, issue based on a talk by Workers World Party Secre tariat member Sara Flounders in which she described how the use of illicit chemical weapons, poison gas and bunker busters had virtually destroyed the city of Falluja.

Jeff Englehart, a former soldier in the U.S. 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, says in the Italian documentary that he saw “burned bodies, burned children and burned women.”

Entitled “Falluja: The Hidden Massacre,” the film contains video footage showing the bodies of civilian women and children following the U.S. air and artillery bombardment.

The innocent victims appear to have been burned to the bone. Others have partially melted flesh hanging from their bodies. These chemical weapons primarily affect the flesh of their targets. The evidence leaves no doubt that the victims were unarmed and in civilian clothing at the time of their deaths.

Describing the United States’ intention to target civilians in Falluja, Englehart states that he was told by military superiors going into Falluja that “every single person that was walking, talking, breathing was [an] enemy combatant.
As such every single person that was walking down the street or in a house was a target.”

Englehart confirms that soldiers had orders to shoot children as young as 10 years old.

The use of white phosphorus and napalm in Falluja is just another example of criminal action and conspiracy to hide the truth.

It fits into a domestic and international agenda to reshape world politics in favor of the extreme right wing of the U.S. ruling class. The breakup of the Soviet Union emboldened the most conservative sector of U.S. imperialism and its allies to try to assume for themselves absolute control of the world.

Recent news reports have provided myriad instances of criminality, corruption and conspiracy. Since 2004 alone, troops directed by the Bush administration have been caught committing torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, desecrating the Koran in the concentration camp in Guantanamo in occupied Cuba and now using internationally banned chemical weapons in Falluja.

The U.S. government first lied in 2002-2003, claiming the existence of massive amounts of chemical weapons in Iraqi hands, to justify the invasion of Iraq. The same U.S. government then turned its own arsenal of chemical weapons against innocent civilians in Falluja and has now been caught lying in an attempt to cover up its criminal actions.

This article is copyright under a
Creative Commons License.

-->Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011Email:
ww@workers.orgSubscribe wwnews-subscribe@workersworld.netSupport independent news

Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange touring U.S.

By Paddy Colligan
Published Nov 26, 2005 10:08 PM

In mid-November a delegation from the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin arrived in the United States, beginning a 10-city tour with meetings and press events in New York City.

Theirs is a powerful story of continued suffering by the people of Vietnam, including two members of the delegation, caused by exposure to Agent Orange/Dioxin.

The Paris Peace Accords signed in 1973 by the Nixon Administration contained a provision for the United States to contribute $3 billion toward healing the wounds of war and to the post-war reconstruction of Vietnam. Although this provision gave the Vietnamese the legal right to restitution, the U.S. government has never taken any legal or moral responsibility to aid the peoples of Vietnam and neighboring countries in restoring their lands that were poisoned by chemical weapons.

VAVA is appealing for support from people in the United States for its lawsuit to achieve justice and compensation directly from the U.S. corporations that manufactured the deadly herbicides.

The delegation’s visit is organized by Veterans for Peace and the
Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign
(See for details.)

Dr. Nguyen Trong Nhan, a former president of the Vietnam Red Cross and now a director of the VAVA, heads the delegation. The other members are military veterans Dang Thi Hong Nhut and Ho Sy Hai.

The U.S. government denied a visa to a fourth member, Nguyen Muoi, the 22-year-old son of a veteran from the South Vietnam army (ARVN) who had been exposed to dioxin. Born after the war, Muoi suffers from spina bifida, a neural disorder common among children of dioxin-exposed males.

Hong Nhut was a member of the “long-haired army”—women who fought to liberate Vietnam. She was captured, tortured and imprisoned for seven years, one of which was spent in the notorious underground “tiger cages.” She lived in areas subjected to defoliation and had several miscarriages after this exposure.

Hong’s contribution to the program was to perform a beautiful Vietnamese song about the victims of Agent Orange.

At a Nov. 16 meeting at the Community Church in New York, Dave Kline, national president of Veterans for Peace, welcomed the delegation. Kline described Vietnam veterans’ gradual realization that they had been poisoned by something terribly toxic in Vietnam. He described the years of struggle to force the U.S. government to admit what had been done and to get some restitution for the affected veterans.

Kline recognized the human cost to Vietnam, calling on all people of conscience to demand that the United States stop using weapons of mass destruction.

He linked the people of Vietnam with the U.S. veterans, demanding, “Justice for all Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange,” and, “Justice for all Agent Orange victims.”

Ravages of dioxin

A videotape, “Agent Orange/Dioxin and the Right to Life,” presented evidence of the ravages of dioxin poisoning. Even audience members familiar with the chemical’s effects were shocked and angered at these images. Most victims shown were children born decades after the end of the war. The video, showing clearly the horror of this legacy of war, will be made available for distribution in the United States.

Dr. Nhan, who works with Agent Orange victims in his country, reported on their hardship and suffering. He pointed to Washington’s dual standard. The U.S. government recognizes 13 medical conditions stemming from exposure to Agent Orange/Dioxin affecting U.S. veterans. But Washington denies any connection or culpability with regard to the millions of Vietnamese who were “the direct targets of the spraying, and who are living in areas that were sprayed and are eating the food from the sprayed land.”

Even though the war ended 30 years ago in a Vietnamese victory, “the war hasn’t ended in the bodies of the victims in Vietnam,” he said. The Vietnamese aspired for peace and a cooperative resolution to the problem of Agent Orange, he explained, but the goodwill of the Vietnamese people was not met.

“Tens of thousands of victims have died. Tens of thousands of others are dying. There was no choice but to file a lawsuit against the U.S. chemical companies.”

Dr. Nhan said that he believes the American people love justice. “I will never forget images of anti-war demonstrations, of veterans throwing back medals and ribbons,” he said. He recognized that “Americans have feelings for justice and fairness in the U.S. and other countries.”

He spoke of his hope that “you will give support to us” and that the Court of Appeals will give justice to Vietnamese victims when the lawsuit appeal is heard in the spring of 2006.

From 1966 to 1969, Ho Sy Hai lived and drove along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. He told how the Trail was a favorite target of the U.S. Air Force because soldiers and supplies moved on the Trail to the southern part of the country.

On the Ho Chi Minh Trail

“Airplanes sprayed some substance to destroy the leaves of the forest and to destroy villages,” he said. “I had to live in those conditions, eating vegetables, fish, and animals that were sprayed.”

After the war Hai returned to his village, married, and tried to start a family. His wife had several miscarriages. Of the babies she bore, one died at age 5 from cancer, two are deaf and unable to speak, and one has a mental disorder.

Hai also spoke for the many victims with similar problems, including diabetes, skin rashes, prostate cancer, and disorders of the digestive system, including the liver and intestines. He called for support for the lawsuit against the chemical manufacturers.

Jonathan Moore, one of the lawyers in the lawsuit against the chemical companies including Dow, Monsanto, Union Carbide and Diamond Shamrock, spoke of “a scandal of incredible proportions — that this country has forgotten what happened in Vietnam. This campaign has to bring to the attention of all Americans the unfinished business in Vietnam, the millions harmed by dioxin, exposed by companies who, knowing it was lethal and a carcinogen, sold it” for use in defoliating populated areas.

According to Moore, over a period of 10 years the U.S. military sprayed 47 million liters of Agent Orange and other defoliants. The spraying contaminated 12 percent of the surface of Vietnam, an area the size of New Jersey in a country about the size of Texas plus Oklahoma.

There are still “hot spots” with such high levels of dioxin that people cannot live there.

Jose Vasquez of Iraq Veterans Against the War spoke as an active-duty military resister. His father is a Vietnam veteran suffering from Agent-Orange-related health problems. Vasquez refuses assignment to Iraq because of the human-rights violations there, specifically the U.S. use of white phosphorous and depleted uranium.

Bring the tour to your city or campus

The Campaign has some flexibility in its scheduling. Cities it will travel to after Nov. 25 include Raleigh/Durham, N.C., Chicago, Milwaukee, Sante Fe, N.M., Portland, Ore., Seattle, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
The delegation will leave for Vietnam on Dec. 13.
Those able to arrange public meetings or media interviews to spread this important information are invited to contact the organizers at .