Saturday, October 14, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
October 7-14, 2006

A compendium of news stories, features, and human rights reports pertaining to genocide and crimes against humanity. Compiled by Adam Jones. Please send links and feedback to

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"Death Squad Fears Again Haunt Argentina"
By Larry Rohter
The New York Times, 8 October 2006 [Registration Required]
"A crucial witness in the trial of a notorious human rights abuser has been missing for nearly three weeks, and authorities and rights groups here say they fear he may have been abducted and killed in a new campaign to intimidate prosecutors, judges and witnesses in cases that have not yet gone to court. The disappearance of Jorge Julio López, 77, a retired construction worker and former political prisoner, has awakened a host of old fears among Argentines. Some worry that it is a signal of a return of right-wing death squads that were thought to be extinct, precisely at the moment when the leaders of those groups are belatedly being summoned to justice. 'They are sending a message, that they can still threaten, kidnap and kill,' said Nilda Eloy of the Association of Former Detainees and the Disappeared, referring to former members of the police, security and military forces that were responsible for the forced disappearance of as many as 30,000 people. 'There is a great deal of fear.' Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital, is awash in posters with Mr. López's name and image, some urging anyone with potential clues or leads to call a hot line, and others proclaiming 'We are looking for truth, justice, Julio.' The government has offered a $65,000 reward for information that can establish his whereabouts or fate, and on Friday night an estimated 100,000 people marched to the main plaza here to call for Mr. Lopez's reappearance. Mr. López vanished Sept. 18, one day before Miguel Etchecolatz, who was the police commissioner in Buenos Aires Province during the right-wing military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983, was sentenced to life in prison. ... In June 2005, though, the Supreme Court ruled both amnesty measures unconstitutional, making it possible to revisit old prosecutions and begin new ones. Mr. Etchecolatz's trial was the first to start, but more than 200 security officials of the dictatorship, including former presidents and junta members, are under investigation and could face charges. [...]"


"Nazty Croats Form Swastika"
By Mark Irwin
The Sun (UK), 10 October 2006
"Croatia could be kicked out of Euro 2008 if fans abuse England's black players tonight. Soccer chiefs fear trouble after 200 of their supporters formed a human swastika at a friendly in Italy. UEFA's William Gaillard warned: 'We won't tolerate racism. We have had many problems with this in Eastern Europe before and Croatia have been among the worst offenders. But we are determined this will not happen again and will send out a strong message to stop any incidents during the game against England. FIFA have recently introduced new rules which can, in extreme cases, lead to a team being docked points or even being excluded from the competition. Because of the problems we have encountered with Croatian teams in the past, they have been warned future sanctions will be much heavier than any which have been imposed for previous incidents.' Croatian supporters have a long history of racism. The nation's federation were fined after French players were racially abused and white supremacist banners were displayed at Euro 2004. And UEFA were fuming following the human swastika incident in Livorno, Italy, two months ago. Action group Let's Kick Racism out of football have launched a Kick It Out Week of Action in the community."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch; the article online includes an image of the Croatian fans forming a human swastika in the stands.]


"Iraq Casualty Figures Open Up New Battleground"
By Dan Murphy
The Christian Science Monitor, 13 October 2006
"[...] Why are the number of Iraqi deaths so difficult to pin down? The short answer is that much of the country is too dangerous for researchers or government officials to travel in search of accurate statistics. The best tally would come from counting every death certificate issued in the country in the three years before and three years since the invasion. But there is no central reporting mechanism for this in the country. So instead, the researchers, backed up by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, relied on the same polling methodology that is used to measure voter preferences or what their favorite TV shows are. 'I loved when President Bush said "their methodology has been pretty well discredited,"' says Richard Garfield, a public health professor at Columbia University who works closely with a number of the authors of the report. 'That's exactly wrong. There is no discrediting of this methodology. I don't think there's anyone who's been involved in mortality research who thinks there's a better way to do it in unsecured areas. I have never heard of any argument in this field that says there's a better way to do it.' ... The Lancet report follows a 2004 survey published in the same publication and carried out by largely the same group of researchers that found 100,000 excess deaths had resulted in Iraq since the war, which was confronted with the same criticism at the time. Dr. Burnham says that in the most recent survey, which had twice the sampling size of the original one, the numbers of deaths reported for 2004 mirrored the earlier report. ... The survey also argues that most of the violence is now Iraqi on Iraqi. It found that 31 percent of violent deaths were claimed to be caused by American forces, a smaller proportion than in the 2004 survey but still a larger absolute number, because of the overall rise in the death toll. [...]"
[n.b. Close to two hundred thousand of the Iraqi deaths were "caused by American forces" -- more than Saddam Hussein's regime killed during the genocidal Anfal Campaign of 1988.]

"Can We Call It Genocide Now?"
By Paul Craig Roberts, 12 October 2006
"When does 'collateral damage' so dwarf combatant deaths that war becomes genocide? ... Americans are too inattentive and distracted to be aware of the grave danger that the neoconservative Bush regime presents to American liberty and to world stability. The neoconservative drive to achieve hegemony over the American people and the entire world is similar to Hitler's drive for hegemony. Hitler used racial superiority to justify Germany's right to ride roughshod over other peoples and the right of the Nazi elite to rule over the German people. Neoconservatives use 'American exceptionalism' and 'the war on terror.' There is no practical difference. Hitler cared no more about the peoples he mowed down in his drive for supremacy than the neoconservatives care about 655,000 dead Iraqis, 100,000 disabled American soldiers and 2,747 dead ones. [...]"
[n.b. The author "was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review."]

"Aura of Fear and Death Stalks Iraq"
By Peter Beaumont
The Guardian, 12 October 2006
"[...] Law and order does not exist as the police themselves are involved in the killing. There are so many bodies that their disposal has become a problem of waste management. Most cities have to cope with fly-tipping of rubbish. Baghdad has to cope with the fly-tipping of corpses. In some areas of Baghdad, such as Sadr City, US soldiers welded down sewer covers to prevent bodies being dumped. But that was when the death squads cared about concealment. Today there is little time for such niceties. The bodies are dumped on rubbish heaps, in rivers, on areas of open ground. Often victims are shot on the street in front of waiting traffic, as a reminder, if anyone needed it, that the next bullet could be for them. Most victims have their hands bound, their feet tied and many show signs of torture. Two years ago, journalists were reluctant to accept that victims were tortured with drills, nails and caustic liquids. No one disputes it today. Some Sunni families have stopped going to Baghdad's morgue, which is in an area controlled by Shia militias, who are responsible for the death squads. The families of two recently murdered Sunni soldiers in a largely Shia battalion of the Iraqi army, their colonel said, were followed to the morgue and attacked. Funerals have also been targeted. Death follows death. Hospitals have been used for holding and torturing the disappeared. [...]"
[n.b. This must surely now be considered the worst campaign of mass murder underway anywhere in the world.]

"Excess Death in Iraq"
By Dahr Jamail, 12 October 2006
"It is the single most important statistic regarding the illegal US invasion and occupation of Iraq. How many Iraqis have been killed? 655,000. 655,000 Iraqis killed as a result of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. I have worked for eight months in Iraq as a journalist, witnessing the carnage on a daily basis, visiting the morgues with bodies and body parts piled into them, meeting family after family who had lost a loved one, or more ... Finally, we get an accurate figure that shows how immense the scale of the long drawn carnage really is. ... While the staggeringly high number of the dead may shock some, for others who have kept track of facts it is no great wonder that surveyors have found a steady increase in Iraqi mortality since the invasion and a steeper increase in the last year. This alarmingly reflects the worsening violence which even the US military, the news media and civilian groups have been forced to admit. Most of what we have heard reported, prior to this survey, had been deaths in Baghdad, with headlines like '50 Bodies Found in Baghdad' and 'Baghdad Morgue Reporting 100 Bodies per Day.' They are stories that have failed to take into account the rest of the country, although Baghdad is roughly 20% of the total population of Iraq. What has been happening in the rest of the country is a question that the latest survey answers: that there are approximately 500 unexpected violent deaths every single day throughout Iraq. ... For over a year now many Iraqis have been referring to what is happening in their country as genocide. With over 500 Iraqis being killed every single day as a direct result of the occupation, it is difficult to argue with them."

"'655,000 Iraqis Killed Since Invasion'"
By Sarah Boseley
The Guardian, 11 October 2006
"The death toll among Iraqis as a result of the US-led invasion has now reached an estimated 655,000, a study in the Lancet medical journal reports today. The figure for the number of deaths attributable to the conflict -- which amounts to around 2.5% of the population -- is at odds with figures cited by the US and UK governments and will cause a storm, but the Lancet says the work, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, has been examined and validated by four separate independent experts who all urged publication. In October 2004, the same researchers published a study estimating that 100,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the war since the beginning of the March 2003 invasion, a figure that was hugely controversial. Their new study, they say, reaffirms the accuracy of their survey of two years ago and moves it on. 'Although such death rates might be common in times of war, the combination of a long duration and tens of millions of people affected has made this the deadliest international conflict of the 21st century and should be of grave concern to everyone,' write the authors, Gilbert Burnham and colleagues. 'At the conclusion of our 2004 study we urged that an independent body assess the excess mortality that we saw in Iraq. This has not happened. We continue to believe that an independent international body to monitor compliance with the Geneva conventions and other humanitarian standards in conflict is urgently needed. With reliable data, those voices that speak out for civilians trapped in conflict might be able to lessen the tragic human cost of future wars.' [...]"
[n.b. Six. Hundred. Thousand. Killed. As an aside, 91 percent of those killed were males, overwhelmingly between 15 and 44 years of age. Link to the full text of the Lancet study (registration required).]

"UK Minister Urged Aljazeera Bombing", 12 October 2006
"David Blunkett, the UK's former home secretary, has said that during the 2003 invasion of Iraq he suggested to Tony Blair that Britain's military should bomb Aljazeera's television transmitter in Baghdad. Aljazeera television said on Thursday that Blunkett's claims -- made in an interview with Britain's Channel 4 television to be aired on Monday -- support its belief that the US and Britain deliberately bombed its Baghdad offices during the war. Ahmed al-Sheikh, editor-in-chief of Aljazeera's Arabic channel, said; 'This adds to the growing number of evidences that will one day prove that the attack on Aljazeera was premeditated ... at the highest levels. Aljazeera was being targeted at the time because the people who were waging war on Iraq didn't like what it was showing. We talk about terrorism, this is pure terrorism.' Al-Sheikh also said that Aljazeera will ask for an official British statement on Blunkett's claims. 'In the past, we got in touch with the Americans and asked them to apologise or to hold an investigation. But we haven't heard anything from them. This time, we will also complain,' he said, adding that an official statement would be released later. During his interview with Channel 4, Blunkett, who is promoting a new book, said that he had told Tony Blair, the British prime minister, that Aljazeera television transmitting equipment should be targeted because it was broadcasting 'propaganda.' 'There wasn't a worry from me because I believed that this was a war and in a war you wouldn't allow the broadcast to continue taking place,' Blunkett said. 'I don't think for a minute in previous wars we'd have thought twice about ensuring that a propaganda mechanism on the soil of the country you were invading would actually continue being able to propagandise against you.' [...]"

"Woman Tells Court Saddam Forces Buried Family Alive"
By Kawther Abdul-Amir
Reuters dispatch, 9 October 2006
"Saddam Hussein's forces buried a Kurdish family alive in a mass grave during a military operation against ethnic Kurds in the 1980s, a witness told the genocide trial of the ousted Iraqi leader on Monday. The court also heard grim testimony about conditions at Nugrat Salman, a desert prison facility in southern Iraq, where food shortages and polluted water caused many Kurds who had been rounded up and sent there to fall ill and die. Two witnesses spoke about a black dog that dug up and ate the bodies of dead prisoners. A Kurdish woman, sitting to the left of the judges and speaking from behind a curtain to protect her identity, was the latest witness to give testimony about Saddam's 1988 Anfal (Spoils of War) campaign against the Kurds in northern Iraq. 'I know the fate of my family. They were buried alive,' she told the court through a translator. 'I would like to ask Saddam a question: "What was the guilt of women and children?"' The court heard that identity cards belonging to five of her sisters had been found in mass graves in Samawa in south Iraq. The woman did not say how she knew her family was buried alive but U.S.-led forensic experts have said some victims unearthed from mass graves were still alive when they were buried, despite having been shot, most of them at close range. Thousands of Kurds, including many women and children, were taken from their villages, executed and then dumped in mass graves in northern and southern Iraq, prosecutors say. Saddam's trial resumed on Monday after a two-week break. Chaos reigned at the previous session, when Saddam was repeatedly ejected from the courtroom and his lawyers walked out over the sacking of the chief judge. [...]"

"Hidden Victims of a Brutal Conflict: Iraq's Women"
By Peter Beaumont
The Observer, 8 October 2006
"Bodies of young women have appeared in its dusty lanes and avenues, places patrolled by packs of dogs where the boundaries bleed into the desert. It is a favourite place for dumping murder victims. Iraqis do not like to talk about it much, but there is an understanding of what is going on these days. If a young woman is abducted and murdered without a ransom demand, she has been kidnapped to be raped. Even those raped and released are not necessarily safe: the response of some families to finding that a woman has been raped has been to kill her. Iraq's women are living with a fear that is increasing in line with the numbers dying violently every month. They die for being a member of the wrong sect and for helping their fellow women. They die for doing jobs that the militants have decreed that they cannot do: for working in hospitals and ministries and universities. They are murdered, too, because they are the softest targets for Iraq's criminal gangs. Iraq's women live in terror of speaking their opinions; of going out to work; or defying the strict new prohibitions on dress and behaviour applied across Iraq by Islamist militants, both Sunni and Shia. They live in fear of their husbands, too, as women's rights have been undermined by the country's postwar constitution that has taken power from the family courts and given it to clerics. ... After a month-long investigation, The Observer has established that in almost every major area of human rights, women are being seriously discriminated against, in some cases seeing their conditions return to those of females in the Middle Ages. In areas such as the Shia militia stronghold of Sadr City in east Baghdad, women have been beaten for not wearing socks. Even the headscarf and juba -- the ankle-length, flared coat that buttons to the collar -- are not enough for the zealots. Some women have been threatened with death unless they wear the full abbaya, the black, all-encompassing veil. [...]"


"Shameful Legacy"
By Chris McGreal
The Guardian, 13 October 2006
"[...] [Espon] Makanga was just one of the estimated 150,000 Kenyans held in British prison camps for up to seven years during what was known as the Kenya Emergency, a rebellion against colonial rule in Kenya. Today, he is among a group of 10 survivors, all in their 70s and 80s, who took the first legal step in London this week towards suing the British government for what they say was officially sanctioned torture and other human rights abuses. Some of the former prisoners describe rape and sexual abuse of women; others say they survived camps where inmates were flogged, worked to death, murdered in cold blood or starved. They want compensation but also an apology for what they describe as a system of organised brutality unmatched anywhere else in the waning years of the British empire. Even in the 1950s, the camps were described as 'Kenya's gulags' and likened by officials to Nazi slave labour camps. The camps were justified, in British eyes, by the Mau Mau's butchering of 32 white settlers and African chiefs loyal to the crown early in the rebellion. The Mau Mau were dominated by the Kikuyu, the largest ethnic group in Kenya, and were largely driven by bitterness at the loss of land to the white settlers. But the struggle also divided the tribe, and the Mau Mau ultimately killed far more fellow Kikuyu than whites, with massacres such as the killing of 120 men, women and children at Lari in March 1953. In Britain the Mau Mau were portrayed as representing the re-emergence of a primitive bloodlust that the twin benefits of colonisation -- Christianity and civilisation -- were intended to eradicate. But the British soon proved they could be as brutal as their enemies. [...]"


"Moscow Rally Memorializes Slain Reporter"
By Peter Finn
The Washington Post, 9 October 2006 [Registration Required]
"Hundreds of Russians attended a rally in Moscow on Sunday to commemorate Anna Politkovskaya, a veteran journalist who was fatally shot in an apparent contract killing Saturday, and the country's top law enforcement official said he was taking personal charge of the investigation because of its 'particular importance and its wide resonance within society.' 'The investigation will focus on possible links between the killing and Politkovskaya's work,' said Marina Gridneva, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor general, Yuri Chaika, who is now heading the probe into the journalist's death. The killing of Politkovskaya, a fierce critic of the Kremlin and its proxies in the conflict in Chechnya, was the second assassination of a crusading figure in Moscow in less than a month. In September, Andrei Kozlov, a Central Bank official who had led a campaign against corruption, was gunned down as he left a soccer match in the city. That case remains unsolved. The two killings challenge the notion that President Vladimir Putin has eradicated the vicious score-settling that marked Russian society in the 1990s or that his centralization of power has fostered stability. The killings also raise questions about whether it is safe for journalists, bureaucrats or opposition activists to challenge the country's vested interests, whether public or private. 'The murder is a diagnosis for this society,' Igor Yakovenko, head of the Russian Union of Journalists, said of Politkovskaya's death. 'But our society is unconscious.' [...]"

"Assassin's Bullet Kills Fiery Critic of Putin"
By Tom Parfitt
The Observer, 8 October 2006
"Anna Politkovskaya, the journalist who did most to uncover the Kremlin's dirty war in Chechnya, was shot dead close to her Moscow apartment yesterday in a killing that sent shock waves across Russia. Her body was found slumped in a lift next to a pistol and four bullets. Politkovskaya, 48, was a constant critic of the Kremlin and her murder will throw suspicion on the security services and the pro-Moscow regime in Chechnya. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev called the killing 'a grave crime against the country, against all of us.' She was recognised around the world for her principled stand against two brutal wars prosecuted by Moscow in Chechnya that have left hundreds of thousands of people dead, injured or missing. Despite repeated threats to her life she vowed she would not be silenced: 'There are people in this country who would do anything to keep me quiet. I don't consider it anything heroic -- I'm just trying to do my job, to let people know what's happening in our country.' In an anthology 'Another Sky,' due to be published next year by English PEN, a writers' group campaigning against political oppression, Politkovskaya chillingly predicted yesterday's events: 'Some time ago Vladislav Surkov, deputy head of the presidential administration, explained that there were people who were enemies but whom you could talk sense into, and there were incorrigible enemies to whom you couldn't and who simply needed to be "cleansed" from the political arena. So they are trying to cleanse it of me and others like me.' On a visit to Chechnya she alleged that the former President of the Chechen Republic Akhmad Kadyrov vowed to assassinate her. 'The women in the crowd tried to conceal me because they were sure the Kadyrov people would shoot me on the spot if they knew I was there,' she said 'They reminded me that Kadyrov publicly vowed to murder me. He actually said during a meeting of his government that Politkovskaya was a condemned woman. I was told about it by members of the government.' [...]"
[n.b. Anna Politkovskaya, whose Chechnya reporting I sample in my forthcoming edited volume, Men of the Global South: A Reader, was an inspiration to millions in Russia and around the world. Her murder is a great blow to the cause of honest witnessing to genocide.]

"'This is Ethnic Cleansing' -- Georgia"
By Mark Franchetti
The Sunday Times, 8 October 2006
"The tiny former Soviet republic of Georgia accused Russia of ethnic cleansing yesterday after the Kremlin cut trade, transport and postal links and began to investigate children with Georgian names in Moscow schools. The clampdown came in retaliation for the arrests of four Russian officers in Georgia on spy charges. 'We are not scared. We are not panicking,' said Mikhail Saakashvili, Georgia's pro-western president, even though his country faces possible ruin as a result of Russian sanctions. Saakashvili, speaking in his Soviet-era office, said: 'It's a deliberate policy to make our lives miserable but this is not breaking us. On the contrary it's making us stronger and more independent. The Kremlin is running out of ammunition.' The already poisoned relations between the former allies seem set to deteriorate further. Moscow police ordered schools in the Russian capital to provide lists of children with Georgian surnames in what they said was an attempt to root out illegal migrants. Gela Bezhuashvili, Georgia's foreign minister, accused Moscow of xenophobia and ethnic cleansing. This week the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, will consider a bill that would stop the flow of funds Georgians send home to their often impoverished families. Worse still, the Kremlin could cut off gas supplies. Last week Russia deported a planeload of 150 Georgians it accused of violating immigration laws. The deportees were rounded up in police raids, taken under armed escort to a military airport and put on a plane to Tbilisi. [...]"


"Rwanda Moves to Ban Death Penalty"
BBC Online, 13 October 2006
"The leaders of Rwanda's ruling party have endorsed a proposal to abolish the death penalty, which may encourage the transfer of genocide suspects in exile. The political bureau of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) backed the decision at a meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame. Many countries refuse to extradite criminal suspects to states which use torture and execution. Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in Rwanda's genocide. 'We have conducted extensive debates within the party and come to a common position that capital punishment is of no use to Rwanda,' RPF spokesman Servilien Sebasoni told AFP news agency. However, survivors of the 1994 genocide are strongly opposed to the decision. Mr. Sebasoni told reporters that a bill was currently being drafted and would be tabled very soon. The RPF controls both chambers of parliament. ... The new legislation could also encourage the transfer of war crimes suspects detained at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), based in the Tanzanian town of Arusha, correspondents say. Most of the high-profile genocide cases have been tried by the Arusha tribunal, which since 1997 has convicted 25 ringleaders of the genocide and acquitted three people. Frustrated at its slow process, Rwanda wants suspects transferred to face trial at home. The court is due to be disbanded in 2008."

"Macy's Partners With Rwandan Widows"
Associated Press dispatch in, 13 October 2006
"When Macy's decided to sell baskets made by Rwandan widows, the store was swayed in part by the prospect of contributing to a developing economy and in part by the women's tale of suffering during their country's 1994 genocide. But Macy's was clear: This may have been charitable, but it was not charity. Baskets, woven from sisal and sweet grass, are inspected to verify they meet quality requirements and then paid for in cash on the spot. Macy's imported 650 baskets last year in a successful test run, and bought 31,000 more to sell this fall in stores in New York, Atlanta and Chicago and online. ... The money a weaver receives for a typical basket is enough to feed herself for a month. That sum is on average $24, or about one-third of the retail price. Shalit estimates a weaver's income at $4 a day (it takes roughly a week to make a basket), as compared to the average income of $0.56 a day for the country. Macy's partnership with the Rwandan women grew from perhaps an even more unusual one. The women used the traditional art of basket-making to reach out across ethnic lines after the 100-day genocide, during which at least 500,000 people were killed. 'In practical terms, basket-making is an opportunity for unity, for reconciliation,' said Consolee Mukanyiligira, coordinator for the association of genocide widows, known by its French acronym, Avega. 'Nothing like sitting around doing nothing increases trauma,' said Mukanyiligira, so Avega encouraged women to weave as a way of healing. Pascasie Mukabuligo, a master weaver, saw the potential for these baskets as commercial merchandise and organized their sale at local markets. Noeleen Heyzer, director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women, then worked to establish an American market for the goods. [...]"


"Bad News for Kosovo Raises Balkan Tension"
By Simon Tisdall
The Guardian, 13 October 2006
"Plain-speaking Martti Ahtisaari, the former Finnish president who has been widely tipped to win the Nobel peace prize today, let the Kosovo cat out of the bag this week with potentially unpredictable consequences for Balkan stability. As UN envoy charged with brokering a settlement by the end of the year between Serbia and the ethnic Albanian leadership in Pristina, Mr Ahtisaari conceded the negotiations were not going well. In fact, he went further. Agreement on Kosovo's final status was not on the cards, 'at least not in my lifetime,' he said. 'The parties remain diametrically opposed.' The breakaway province might have to wait a little longer for its long-sought independence, he said. ... some fear the Kosovo controversy may act as a lightning rod for wider discontents. This year's suspension of Serbia's EU membership talks, the perceived failure of the 2000 pro-democracy revolution, and entrenched economic problems are all fuelling an anticipated surge in support for the far right [in Serbia]. The Radical party, led by the jailed war crimes indictee Vojislav Seselj, looks likely to win most votes. Liberal and left-of-centre parties are meanwhile urging a boycott of the constitutional referendum, saying its passage will trigger renewed confrontation with the west. [...]"

"Kosovo Rises on International Agenda"
By Howard LaFranchi
The Christian Science Monitor, 11 October 2006
"With unsettling nuclear developments in North Korea, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and political upheaval in the Middle East, little attention is being paid to the Balkans, which might seem like a preoccupation of the post-cold-war 1990s. But Kosovo -- a Serbian province of 2 million people that spawned a NATO bombing campaign in 1999 -- is on the brink of bursting onto the world stage once again. With the United States and the European Union pressing for resolution of Kosovo's final status this year, it once looked like independence was assured. But now Serbia is finagling to put that decision off -- a move that could awaken Balkan unrest once again. After seven years of United Nations control, the majority Albanian and Muslim population is clamoring for independence. But the Serbian (and largely Christian) minority is campaigning to remain attached to Serbia. The Serbian Kosovars claim that independence would mean creation of an Islamic fundamentalist state in Europe and expose them to ethnic violence. Beyond those issues, other factors seem primed to raise Kosovo's status on the international agenda. The US would like to free up the 1,700 peacekeeping troops it still has in the province. Economic investment in a region that is an important trade and energy route is being held up by uncertainty over Kosovo's status. And while some experts warn that failure to resolve Kosovo's status could turn it into a powder keg once again, still others caution against hasty action: They say Kosovo is being closely watched by other restless regions in eastern Europe and central Asia -- including in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Moldova -- and could be used to fire up breakaway movements. [...]"


"Tough Sanctions Urged over Darfur"
BBC Online, 12 October 2006
"A 'weak and divided' international response on sending UN peacekeepers to Darfur is playing into the hands of the Sudanese government, a report says. The International Crisis Group says diplomacy has 'failed' and targeted sanctions are now needed to prevent the humanitarian situation from worsening. It calls for economic measures to be applied to key business interests, in particular Sudan's petroleum sector. An estimated 200,000 people have been killed during three years of fighting. The ICG report says unless the world presents a unified front on the issue of Darfur, Khartoum will continue to exploit divisions, believing it can 'act with virtual impunity.' ... The report says targeted sanctions should be applied to Sudan's key business interests, in particular its petroleum sector. This should be done in combination with limited military action, including the establishment of a no-fly-zone over Darfur, as well as steps to make the International Criminal Court investigation into war crimes more effective, the report says. It argues that in past disputes -- for example over the issue of international terror suspects -- Khartoum has responded positively to economic pressure. The ICG says it is concerned that any alternative action would be 'too little too late' as the security and humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate in the region."
[n.b. Link to the full text of the report.]

"Sudan 'Kills Hundreds in Darfur'"
BBC Online, 9 October 2006
"Hundreds of Sudanese have been killed in attacks in Darfur, with the apparent knowledge and support of the government, a UN report says. The attacks took place in August but the UN previously thought that 38 people had died in the attacks on black African villages. Sudan has always denied backing the Arab militias accusing of widespread atrocities in Darfur. The government is opposed to plans to send UN peacekeepers to Darfur. Some 7,000 African Union (AU) troops have been unable to end the violence, which has led some 2m people to flee their homes since 2003. Studies estimate at least 200,000 people have died during the conflict. The UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Louise Arbour called for an investigation into the attacks in the Buram area of South Darfur and for those responsible to be prosecuted. The report says the attacks were carried out by up to 1,000 Arab militiamen wearing government-style uniforms, using machine guns mounted on vehicles. See which parts of Darfur are too dangerous for aid workers. 'As they approached houses, the attackers fired indiscriminately into civilian dwellings, shooting those inside, and systematically setting fire to houses,' it says. 'Possessions, including all livestock, were extensively looted. Civilians attempting to flee the village were caught and fired at.' [...]

"The Leopard-Skin Shoe Dictator Who Holds the Key to Darfur"
By Stephen Castle
The Independent, 8 October 2006
"He is a military hardman, an enemy of the White House and the man who holds the key to solving the humanitarian disaster in Darfur. But as visitors to his presidential residence discovered last week, Omar al-Bashir also wears leopard-skin shoes. Sudan's President is at the centre of a diplomatic stand-off over the Darfur crisis as he refuses to admit a United Nations peacekeeping force to the northern Sudanese province, where about 300,000 people have died and another 2.5 million have been driven from their homes. On Friday a letter from Sudan's government described such an idea as a 'hostile act' and a 'prelude to invasion,' prompting Washington to call for emergency consultations at the UN Security Council. Such language is hardly out of character for one of Africa's most oppressive leaders. In recent weeks he has dismissed Western peace protests as being 'organised by Zionist, Jewish organisations,' and suggested that human rights groups 'have exaggerated the crisis in Darfur to help their fundraising.' ... For Mr. Bashir the UN and the US are interchangeable. Any international military intervention would, he argues, be a prelude to Iraq-style invasion. But for all his rhetoric, he appears to yearn for international respectability. Diplomats believe his greatest fear is that he could end up in the International Criminal Court, accused of responsibility for genocide in Darfur. [...]"

"Sudan Divestment Effort Gains Momentum at State Level"
By Nora Boustany
The Washington Post, 7 October 2006 [Registration Required]
"House members are scattering to their home states this week with inconclusive results on the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of western Sudan, but momentum is growing at the state level for governments to divest public funds from companies, mostly foreign-based, doing business with Khartoum. In a victory for business lobbyists on Capitol Hill, lawmakers approved a Sudan sanctions bill stripped of language that would have endorsed states' rights to pass divestment laws. The National Foreign Trade Council, representing more than 300 multinational companies, had lobbied aggressively against the provision on state investments inserted by the House during its consideration of the bill last year. A divestment movement, however, appears to be gaining momentum across the country, with active campaigns on university campuses and at city and state levels. Six states have already passed divestment laws: Maine, Connecticut, Oregon, Illinois, New Jersey and California. Although state legislatures will not be in session until January, lawmakers in many states are pushing for divestment bills, according to Adam Sterling, the executive director of the Sudan Divestment Task Force, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the issue. Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington could consider some form of legislation early next year, according to the task force's Web site, which is tracking the initiatives and keeping a list of companies that warrant scrutiny. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's much-publicized signing of his state's divestment law -- standing alongside actor-activists Don Cheadle and George Clooney -- has helped spread popular awareness on the continuing violence in Darfur and given added momentum to the divestment drive, Sterling said. [...]"
[n.b. See also Martin Plaut, "Darfur Campaign Cuts Sudan Money," BBC Online, 7 October 2006.]


"Armenian Genocide Monument Destroyed in France"
Reuters dispatch, 14 October 2006
"A bronze monument near Paris commemorating the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks has been destroyed just two days after France's parliament passed a bill that would make it a crime to deny the genocide. A local member of the Armenian church in Chaville, a town near Paris, said the heavy bronze sculpture was wrenched off its pedestal late Friday night or early Saturday morning. 'Police say it might have been stolen for the metal, but it seems too much of a coincidence that this should have happened just after parliament voted the Armenia bill,' said Stephane Topalian, a member of the Armenian church council. Ankara denies accusations that some 1.5 million Armenians perished in a systematic genocide during World War One, saying large numbers of both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks died in a partisan conflict raging at that time. Turkey has protested against Thursday's lower house vote, which establishes a one year prison term and 45,000 euro ($57,000) fine for anyone denying the massacres. The bill still needs to be approved by the upper house Senate to become law."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Pamuk Slams France on Genocide Law"
Reuters dispatch in Gulf Times, 14 October 2006
"Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, tried at home for commenting on the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks, said yesterday a French law banning the denial of the Armenian genocide went against free speech. 'Freedom of expression is a French discovery and this law is contrary to the culture of freedom of expression. We must not pass a law forbidding freedom,' Pamuk told Turkish broadcaster Kanal D in an interview from New York. Turkey's powerful speaker of parliament earlier challenged Pamuk to declare his stand on the controversial bill approved by France's lower house of parliament on Thursday, which came the day he was awarded the literary world's most coveted prize. Turkey denies that Armenians suffered genocide in Turkey during World War One, arguing that large numbers of both Muslim Turks and Christian Armenians died in a partisan conflict that accompanied the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The French bill shocked many Turks who are sensitive about their history and reluctant to discuss it, while the Nobel committee's decision puts the centre-right government in an awkward spot as it has been a regular critic of Pamuk. Nationalist prosecutors took Pamuk to trial in January on charges he insulted Turkey's identity by telling a Swiss newspaper 1mn Armenians had died in Turkey during World War One and 30,000 Kurds had perished in recent decades. The trial, under article 301 of the penal code, was later dismissed on a technicality but not before it brought a sharp rebuke from the European Union. [...]"

"French Bill Complicates Turkey's EU Bid"
By Scott Peterson
The Christian Science Monitor, 13 October 2006
"By a wide margin, the French parliament voted Thursday to make it a criminal act to deny an Armenian genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks, enraging Turkey and further deepening its suspicion of the European Union. Islamic Turkey -- which has sought for decades to join the EU and is now in membership negotiations -- vowed retaliation against France that could disrupt billions of dollars in trade, even as both sides explore the limits of free speech. The vote came the same day that Orhan Pamuk, the celebrated Turkish novelist, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Charges of 'denigrating Turkishness' against Mr. Pamuk -- brought after he publicly spoke of the killing of 1 million Armenians during World War I, and 30,000 Kurds -- were dropped earlier this year in a case seen as a test of Turkey's commitment to EU-driven reforms. The two events get at the heart of contradictions in modern Turkey, where democratic and West-leaning EU aspirations often clash with history. The staunchly secular state -- a full member of the NATO military alliance -- casts itself as an indispensable bridge between East and West, but has yet to be accepted as such by Europe. ... Turkish lawmakers Wednesday proposed a counter-bill that would recognize an 'Algerian genocide' carried out by colonial French forces in 1945. Turkish columnists are also raising France's considerable role in Rwanda's 1994 genocide, as they seek to even the moral playing field. [...]"

"EU Concern at French Genocide Vote"
Reuters dispatch on, 12 October 2006
"The European Union said French parliament approval on Thursday of a bill making it a crime to deny Armenians suffered genocide by Ottoman Turks could harm efforts to end decades of dispute over the killings. Ankara said the French lower house vote was a severe blow to French-Turkish ties and its Economics Minister Ali Babacan, the man leading EU entry talks with Brussels, said he could not rule out consequences for French firms. A European Commission spokeswoman noted the bill still needed upper house approval and said EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn had repeatedly warned in recent days it would damage efforts in Turkey and Armenia to resolve the dispute. 'Should this law enter into force ... it would prohibit dialogue which is necessary for reconciliation on the issue,' spokeswoman Krisztina Nagy told a regular news conference. Asked whether the bill could add a stumbling block to difficult accession talks with Ankara opened just over a year ago, she noted recognition of the 1915 killings as a genocide was not a precondition for accession. 'It is not up to law to write history. Historians need to have debate,' she said. In Ankara, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that French-Turkish relations had been dealt a severe blow by 'irresponsible false claims of French politicians who do not see the political consequences of their actions.' The ministry did not say whether Turkey would take any retaliatory measures against France but Babacan, in Brussels for the latest round of accession talks, said he could not exclude an impact for French business in Turkey. [...]"

"French in Armenia 'Genocide' Row"
BBC Online, 12 October 2006
"The French parliament has adopted a bill making it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered 'genocide' at the hands of the Turks, infuriating Turkey. The bill, which provides for a year in jail and a heavy fine, still needs approval from the Senate and president. Turkey called the decision a 'serious blow' to relations with France. It has already threatened economic sanctions. Armenia says Ottoman Turks killed 1.5 million people systematically in 1915 -- a claim strongly denied by Turkey. Turkey has been warning France for weeks not to pass the bill. 'Turkish-French relations, which have been meticulously developed over the centuries, took a severe blow today through the irresponsible initiatives of some short-sighted French politicians, based on unfounded allegations,' the Turkish foreign ministry said. The vote, in the lower house of the French parliament on Thursday morning, was sponsored by the opposition Socialist party. The ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) did not back the law, but gave its deputies a free vote. It passed by 106 votes to 19. [...]"


"Uganda Rebels Threaten Tenuous Peace"
By Francis Kwera
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 9 October 2006
"Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels reiterated a threat on Monday to keep fighting one of Africa's longest insurgencies unless international arrest warrants for their top commanders are scrapped. The government and rebels signed a long-awaited truce in August, supposed to give both sides breathing space while peace talks aimed at ending their 20-year rebellion continued in the south Sudanese capital Juba. But LRA leader Joseph Kony and deputy Vincent Otti have refused to leave their jungle hideouts on the Sudan/Democratic Republic of Congo border to talk directly, fearing arrests over war-crimes indictments against them by the Hague-based International Criminal Court. 'They should not expect us to sign an agreement and later cage our leaders in The Hague. Our leaders are not fools,' LRA spokesperson Godfrey Ayoo told journalists in Juba. The charges against five top LRA commanders are seen as a test case for the fledgling human rights court, but many Ugandans see it as an obstacle to a long-awaited peace deal. 'As long as the ICC indictments still stand, no single soldier is going to come out of the bush. This is the position we have taken and it will not change,' Ayoo said. Despite a ceasefire, tempers have frayed between the LRA and the Ugandan army in the past two weeks. [...]"


"US Free Speech Row Grows as Author Says Jewish Complaints Stopped Launch Party"
By Ed Pilkington
The Guardian, 11 October 2006
"The British-based author and former publisher Carmen Callil has become embroiled in a growing dispute over the limits of freedom of speech in America after a party celebrating her new book on Vichy France was cancelled because of the opinion she expresses about the modern state of Israel. A party in honour of Bad Faith, Callil's account of Louis Darquier, the Vichy official who arranged the deportation of thousands of Jews, was to have taken place at the French embassy in New York last night but was cancelled after the embassy became aware of a paragraph in the postscript of the book. In the postscript Callil says she grew anxious while researching the 'helpless terror of the Jews of France' to see 'what the Jews of Israel were passing on to the Palestinian people. Like the rest of humanity, the Jews of Israel "forget" the Palestinians. Everyone forgets.' The embassy said the passage had been brought to its attention after a guest declined the invitation because of it. A spokesman denied allegations from Callil, reported by Reuters, that 'fundamentalist Jews' had complained and had the party shut down. The row over Callil's book is the latest element in a dispute about restrictions on freedom of speech in the US in relation to comments on Israel. A British-born academic based at New York University has had two speaking engagements called off after criticism of his views. Tony Judt, an American Jew who was brought up in Britain, was due to speak on the subject of the influence of the pro-Israeli lobby on US foreign policy and at a separate location under the title War and Genocide in European Memory Today. The first lecture was cancelled by the Polish consulate in New York, which owned the venue, while Mr. Judt pulled out of the second after he was asked by the organisers to refrain from direct references to Israel. In both cases pro-Israeli organisations and individuals had raised objections to Mr. Judt's views on Israel. [...]"
[n.b. Disturbing examples here of how bullying tactics by the Israel lobby have led to a climate of intimidation, censorship, and self-censorship.]


"Comment: A Truly Inspiring Choice for Nobel Peace Prize"
By Gabriel Rozenberg
The Times, 13 October 2006
"[...] To award a Peace Prize for an anti-poverty inititative [the Grameen Bank] is striking enough, but that is only half the story. In rich Western capitals like London there is today a thriving 'international development community': well-meaning, thoughtful people in charities, pressure groups and Whitehall who came together last year at Live 8 and led to the world's wealthiest nations doubling their aid budgets. But probe beneath the surface and you will find confusion. The charities praise aid in public; yet they quietly admit that simply handing over cash to often-corrupt governments has frequently failed miserably. They call for good governance, the latest buzzword, but any attempt to cut off cash to bad governments ties them in moral knots. ... The Grameen Bank presents a totally different approach. It was not dreamt up by a faraway Western aid agency. It is tried and tested; it is a business solution which comes from the grassroots. Grameen shows us the poor and the destitute not as pitiable charity cases condemned to their lot, but as thwarted entrepreneurs who just lack the means to improve their families' lives. It is a profoundly optimistic view of human nature. With this inspired choice the Nobel Committee has lit a path that could lead to the eradication of poverty in our time."


"For the Sick, No Place to Turn"
By Kim Murphy
The Los Angeles Times, 9 October 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] Russia's steep population decline in the 15 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union has many causes, but the end of the Soviet healthcare system and the debut of free-market medicine have added to the slide. In the new Russia, millions are born sick. Many succumb to poisons in the air and water around them, or are slowly killed by alcohol, cigarettes or stress. Most are too poor to buy back their health. The overwhelmed healthcare system can't help much. Although medical care still is nominally free, in practice all but the most basic services are available only to those able to pay hefty fees. Bribes, the cost of superior treatment even in the Soviet era, are a feature of nearly every successful medical transaction. They can ensure that a patient will be admitted to a decent hospital and increase the chances that a doctor will be diligent. For the well-off -- mostly foreigners and those who struck it rich in Russia's transition from communism -- there are gleaming 'European medical centers' with modern equipment and foreign-trained physicians who charge $100 a visit. Everyone else is relegated to foul-smelling infirmaries with stained sheets, no food and a dearth of equipment as basic as a functioning X-ray machine. The doctors work for as little as $140 a month. The Scientific Center of Children's Health, a branch of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, estimates that 45% of Russian children are born with 'health deviations,' including problems of the central nervous system, faulty hearts, malformed urinary tracts and low birth weight. ... Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has responded to the problem, pushing healthcare to the top of the nation's priorities. This year, his government is spending $24.6 billion to more than quadruple some doctors' salaries, build hospitals, buy ambulances and equipment, pay for more surgeries, vaccinations and AIDS treatment, and subsidize medicines for children and pregnant women. [...]"

"A Simple Solution"
By Andrea Gerlin, 8 October 2006
"[...] 'To save the life of a person with diarrhea is probably the cheapest health intervention you can think of,' says David Sack, an American doctor who is the ICDDR's executive director. Cheap; but nothing like as commonly available as it should be. Oral rehydration has saved the lives of more than 40 million children since it was first put to the test during a cholera outbreak among refugees on India's border with Bangladesh in 1971. But decades later, it remains grossly underused. The result, according to the World Health Organization (WHO): 3 million people a year still die from diarrheal complications, including 1.9 million children under 5, or 17% of the estimated 11 million deaths in that age group. These deaths are largely preventable and unnecessary. 'We have the tools to really reduce deaths,' says Olivier Fontaine, a diarrheal disease expert at the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland. 'The cost of this intervention is minimal. Yet we can't get it to every child that needs it.' Why not? Because crowded cities and remote areas of poor countries often don't have adequate health facilities nearby; because many parents of young children never learn how to make oral rehydration solution at home; because sachets of the powdered mix require packaging, storage and distribution to those who need them; because oral rehydration does not initially reduce a child's stool output, leading some parents to conclude that it doesn't work, and give up. Because -- perhaps above all -- our sense of global health priorities is uncomfortably skewed. While diarrhea is a major killer in developing countries, in the rich world it is usually no more than an irritant. So developed nations channel health-care funds into areas perceived as presenting greater risks. Antiviral drugs are purchased and vaccines are ordered to guard against the potential threat from avian influenza instead of getting packages of rehydration solution costing just 6¢ a liter to those at risk of dying from diarrhea elsewhere. But far more children die from diarrhea every day than have ever died from avian flu. [...]"


"Study Reveals Global Child Abuse"
BBC Online, 12 October 2006
"A shocking picture of physical, sexual and psychological violence being perpetrated against children on a daily basis has been revealed in a UN report. The first UN study of global violence against children says such abuse is often socially approved or even legal. It concludes that violence against under-18s occurs in every country, every society and every social group. The UN has called on states to outlaw violence against children and to ensure their rights are protected. The study, which was requested by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, is the result of four years of research. ... The report, the first of its kind, charts various kinds of violence, from prostitution to school bullying, taking place in different stages and spheres of children's lives -- at home, in the community and in institutions. It estimates that some 150 million girls, 14% of the planet's child population, are sexually abused each year, as well as seven percent of boys, or 73 million children. Such violence can leave serious long-term psychological scars which result in increased risky sexual behaviour, substance abuse and violence towards others in adulthood. The study suggests that between 80-93% of children suffer physical punishment in their homes, although many of them do not speak of it due to stigma, shame and a lack of faith in legal systems. The home can also be a dangerous place for some of the estimated 82 million girls who marry before the age of 18 and can face violence from their partners. ... Gender also shapes the likelihood of experiencing different types of violence. A study of 21 mainly developed countries, for example, found that up to 36% of women and 29% of men reported being sexually victimised during childhood. But boys, especially in the 15-17 age group, are up to four times more likely to be murdered than girls of the same age. [...]"
[n.b. Link to the complete text of the report.]


"Gunning Down Women"
By Jackson Katz, 11 October 2006
"In the many hours devoted to analyzing the recent school shootings, once again we see that as a society we seem constitutionally unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge a simple but disturbing fact: these shootings are an extreme manifestation of one of contemporary American society's biggest problems -- the ongoing crisis of men's violence against women. ... Incredibly, few if any prominent voices in the broadcast or print media have called the incidents what they are: hate crimes perpetrated by angry white men against defenseless young girls, who -- whatever the twisted motives of the shooters -- were targeted for sexual assault and murder precisely because they are girls. What is it going to take for our society to deal honestly with the extent and depth of this problem? How many more young girls have to die before decision-makers in media and other influential institutions stop averting their eyes from the lethal mix of deep misogyny and violent masculinity at work here? In response to the recent spate of shootings, the White House announced plans to bring together experts in education and law enforcement. The goal was to discuss 'the nature of the problem' and federal action that can assist communities with violence prevention. This approach is misdirected. Instead of convening a group of experts on 'school safety,' the president should catalyze a long-overdue national conversation about sexism, masculinity, and men's violence against women. [...]"

"Violence Against World's Women 'Pervasive': UN Report"
Agence France-Presse dispatch on, 11 October 2006
"Violence against women is 'severe and pervasive' worldwide with one in three women subjected to intimate partner abuse during her lifetime, according to a UN report. 'There is compelling evidence that violence against women is severe and pervasive throughout the world,' said UN chief Kofi Annan's report, titled 'Ending Violence Against Women: from Words to Action.' The study cited surveys on violence against women conducted in at least 71 countries showing 'a significant proportion of women suffer physical, sexual or psychological violence ... On average, at least one in three women is subjected to intimate partner violence in the course of her lifetime.' A World Health Organization study in 11 countries found that the percentage of women subjected to sexual violence by an intimate partner ranged between six percent in Japan and Serbia and Montenegro, and 59 percent in Ethiopia. Murders of women often involve sexual violence, with between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims killed by husbands or boyfriends in Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, Annan's report said. It noted that more than 130 million girls are victims of female genital mutilation, a practice most prevalent in Africa and some Middle Eastern countries but also found in immigrant communities in Europe, North America and Australia. Female infanticide, prenatal sex selection and systematic neglect of girls were said to be widespread in South Asia, Southeast Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. The study also highlighted the fact that women experience sexual harassment throughout their lives, with between 40 and 50 percent of women in the European Union reporting some form of sexual harassment. [...]"
[n.b. The full text of the report can be downloaded from this page.]


"America's Nuremberg Laws"
By Ted Rall, 12 October 2006
"[...] Under the terrifying terms of the radical new Military Commissions Act, Bush can declare anyone -- including you -- an 'unlawful enemy combatant,' a term that doesn't exist in U.S. or international law. All he has to do is sign a piece of paper claiming that you 'purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.' The law's language is brilliantly vague, allowing the president to imprison -- for the rest of his or her life -- anyone, including a U.S. citizen, from someone who makes a contribution to a group he disapproves of to a journalist who criticizes the government. Although Bush and his top officials ordered and endorsed torture, the courts had found that it was illegal under U.S. law and treaty obligations. Now torture is, for the first time, legal. ... How did we get here? Good Germans -- and many of them were decent, moral people -- asked themselves the same thing. The answer is incrementalism, the tendency of radical change to manifest itself in bits and pieces. People who should have known better -- journalists, Democrats, and Republicans who are more loyal to their country than their party -- allowed Bush and his neofascist gangsters to hijack our republic and its values. They weren't as bad as Bush. They just couldn't see the big picture. Just as no single rollback led marked the transition from the Weimar Republic to the Third Reich, no event is individually responsible for America's shocking five-year transformation from beacon of freedom to autocratic torture state. It wasn't just letting Bush get away with his 2000 coup d'état. It wasn't just us standing by as he deliberately allowed his family friend Osama bin Laden to escape, or as he invaded Afghanistan, or as he built the concentration camps at Guantánamo and elsewhere, or even Iraq. It was all of those things collectively. The Military Commissions Act signals that our traditional system of beliefs and government has irrevocably devolved into moral bankruptcy. Memo to Senator McCain: You don't negotiate with terrorists, and you don't compromise with torturers. [...]"

"The Myth of the Ticking Time Bomb"
By Alfred W. McCoy
The Progressive, October 2006
"[...] As we slide down the slippery slope to torture in general, we should also realize that there is a chasm at the bottom called extrajudicial execution. With the agency's multinational gulag full of dozens, even hundreds, of detainees of dwindling utility, CIA agents, active and retired, have been vocal in their complaints about the costs and inconvenience of limitless, even lifetime, incarceration for these tortured terrorists. The ideal solution to this conundrum from an agency perspective is pump and dump, as in Vietnam -- pump the terrorists for information, and then dump the bodies. After all, the systematic French torture of thousands from the Casbah of Algiers in 1957 also entailed more than 3,000 'summary executions' as 'an inseparable part' of this campaign, largely, as one French general put it, to ensure that 'the machine of justice' not be 'clogged with cases.' For similar reasons, the CIA's Phoenix program produced, by the agency's own count, over 20,000 extrajudicial killings. ... The use of torture to stop ticking bombs leads ultimately to a cruel choice -- either legalize this brutality, à la Dershowitz and Bush, or accept that the logical corollary to state-sanctioned torture is state-sponsored murder, à la Vietnam."
[n.b. This is a vital article, the depth and detail of which can only be hinted at in this brief excerpt.]

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