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Impeach Bush

US violations of Geneva Convention *
An Impeachable Offense
The Guardian (UK)
George Monbiot
Tuesday March 25, 2003

Suddenly, the government of the United States has discovered the virtues of international law. It may be waging an illegal war against a sovereign state; it may be seeking to destroy every treaty which impedes its attempts to run the world, but when five of its captured soldiers were paraded in front of the Iraqi television cameras on Sunday, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, immediately complained that "it is against the Geneva convention to show photographs of prisoners of war in a manner that is humiliating for them".
He is, of course, quite right. Article 13 of the third convention, concerning the treatment of prisoners, insists that they "must at all times be protected... against insults and public curiosity". This may number among the less heinous of the possible infringements of the laws of war, but the conventions, ratified by Iraq in 1956, are non-negotiable. If you break them, you should expect to be prosecuted for war crimes.

This being so, Rumsfeld had better watch his back. For this enthusiastic convert to the cause of legal warfare is, as head of the defence department, responsible for a series of crimes sufficient, were he ever to be tried, to put him away for the rest of his natural life.

His prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba, where 641 men (nine of whom are British citizens) are held, breaches no fewer than 15 articles of the third convention. The US government broke the first of these (article 13) as soon as the prisoners arrived, by displaying them, just as the Iraqis have done, on television. In this case, however, they were not encouraged to address the cameras. They were kneeling on the ground, hands tied behind their backs, wearing blacked-out goggles and earphones. In breach of article 18, they had been stripped of their own clothes and deprived of their possessions. They were then interned in a penitentiary (against article 22), where they were denied proper mess facilities (26), canteens (28), religious premises (34), opportunities for physical exercise (38), access to the text of the convention (41), freedom to write to their families (70 and 71) and parcels of food and books (72).

They were not "released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities" (118), because, the US authorities say, their interrogation might, one day, reveal interesting information about al-Qaida. Article 17 rules that captives are obliged to give only their name, rank, number and date of birth. No "coercion may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever". In the hope of breaking them, however, the authorities have confined them to solitary cells and subjected them to what is now known as "torture lite": sleep deprivation and constant exposure to bright light. Unsurprisingly, several of the prisoners have sought to kill themselves, by smashing their heads against the walls or trying to slash their wrists with plastic cutlery.

The US government claims that these men are not subject to the Geneva conventions, as they are not "prisoners of war", but "unlawful combatants". The same claim could be made, with rather more justice, by the Iraqis holding the US soldiers who illegally invaded their country. But this redefinition is itself a breach of article 4 of the third convention, under which people detained as suspected members of a militia (the Taliban) or a volunteer corps (al-Qaida) must be regarded as prisoners of war.

Even if there is doubt about how such people should be classified, article 5 insists that they "shall enjoy the protection of the present convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal". But when, earlier this month, lawyers representing 16 of them demanded a court hearing, the US court of appeals ruled that as Guantanamo Bay is not sovereign US territory, the men have no constitutional rights. Many of these prisoners appear to have been working in Afghanistan as teachers, engineers or aid workers. If the US government either tried or released them, its embarrassing lack of evidence would be brought to light.

You would hesitate to describe these prisoners as lucky, unless you knew what had happened to some of the other men captured by the Americans and their allies in Afghanistan. On November 21 2001, around 8,000 Taliban soldiers and Pashtun civilians surrendered at Konduz to the Northern Alliance commander, General Abdul Rashid Dostum. Many of them have never been seen again.

As Jamie Doran's film Afghan Massacre: Convoy of Death records, some hundreds, possibly thousands, of them were loaded into container lorries at Qala-i-Zeini, near the town of Mazar-i-Sharif, on November 26 and 27. The doors were sealed and the lorries were left to stand in the sun for several days. At length, they departed for Sheberghan prison, 80 miles away. The prisoners, many of whom were dying of thirst and asphyxiation, started banging on the sides of the trucks. Dostum's men stopped the convoy and machine-gunned the containers. When they arrived at Sheberghan, most of the captives were dead.

The US special forces running the prison watched the bodies being unloaded. They instructed Dostum's men to "get rid of them before satellite pictures can be taken". Doran interviewed a Northern Alliance soldier guarding the prison. "I was a witness when an American soldier broke one prisoner's neck. The Americans did whatever they wanted. We had no power to stop them." Another soldier alleged: "They took the prisoners outside and beat them up, and then returned them to the prison. But sometimes they were never returned, and they disappeared."

Many of the survivors were loaded back in the containers with the corpses, then driven to a place in the desert called Dasht-i-Leili. In the presence of up to 40 US special forces, the living and the dead were dumped into ditches. Anyone who moved was shot. The German newspaper Die Zeit investigated the claims and concluded that: "No one doubted that the Americans had taken part. Even at higher levels there are no doubts on this issue." The US group Physicians for Human Rights visited the places identified by Doran's witnesses and found they "all... contained human remains consistent with their designation as possible grave sites".

It should not be necessary to point out that hospitality of this kind also contravenes the third Geneva convention, which prohibits "violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture", as well as extra-judicial execution. Donald Rumsfeld's department, assisted by a pliant media, has done all it can to suppress Jamie Doran's film, while General Dostum has begun to assassinate his witnesses.

It is not hard, therefore, to see why the US government fought first to prevent the establishment of the international criminal court, and then to ensure that its own citizens are not subject to its jurisdiction. The five soldiers dragged in front of the cameras yesterday should thank their lucky stars that they are prisoners not of the American forces fighting for civilisation, but of the "barbaric and inhuman" Iraqis.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

Commentary:
Once again we must blame those who failed to stop Bush when he began his war on terror. The unlucky suspects are the Republican Party, the Press, some Democrats, and those who support GW.

The harshest blame of course must be put on the Republican Party and Bush. They've created an atmosphere of terror in the US that makes it almost impossible for a Democrat to say anything against their tyranny without being attacked as being anti-American.

The press too has been far too lazy and should have reported Bush's gross violations of International Law---perhaps around the clock if necessary.

Instead, the press allowed Bush to lie about his tax cut during the debates and called Gore the liar. Allowed him to lie about Iraq having nuclear weapons, lie about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, lie about Iraq being tied to terrorism etc.

In short the US press (mostly talk TV) is as useful as a worn out pair of shoes.


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Bombing Iraqi television violates Geneva Convention *
An Impeachable Offense
Amnesty International
AI Index: MDE 14/044/2003 (Public)
News Service No: 068
26 March 2003

There are reports giving rise to concerns that war crimes may have been committed by both sides in the recent fighting, Amnesty International said today.

Coalition forces have confirmed attacking the main Iraqi television station early on Wednesday. According to reports from the BBC, US Central Command in Qatar has said that missiles struck Iraq's main TV station. The Pentagon is reported to have said that the purpose of the operation was to counter the command and control abilities of the Iraqi regime, and also to deal with propaganda and the disinformation campaign of Baghdad.

"The bombing of a television station simply because it is being used for the purposes of propaganda is unacceptable. It is a civilian object, and thus protected under international humanitarian law," said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director for International Law at Amnesty International.

"To justify such an attack Coalition forces would have to show that the TV station was being used for military purposes and that the attack properly balanced the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated with the incidental risk to civilian life."

"Attacking a civilian object and carrying out a disproportionate attack are war crimes. The onus is on the Coalition forces to demonstrate the military use of the TV station and, if that is indeed the case, to show that the attack took into account the risk to civilian lives."

"At times of war many civilian activities can be seen as supporting, in a general way, the war effort. But to accept that all such activities can be targeted is to accept the logic of 'total war'. Preventing the devastation of such 'total wars' has been one of the key underpinnings for the development of the rules of war in recent decades," Claudio Cordone added.

Iraqi forces are reported to have deliberately shelled civilians in Basra and to placing military objectives in close proximity to civilians and civilian objects. There have also been reports of Iraqis dressed in civilian clothes in order to allow surprise attacks on coalition troops.

"Any direct attack on civilians is a war crime. Those who blur the distinction between combatants and civilians undermine the very foundations of humanitarian law," said Claudio Cordone.

© Copyright Amnesty International

Commentary:
We don't expect this president or his followers to believe in or respect the rule of law do we? That's too high a standard. Is there any law this president plans on following? Maybe he should list those few laws he's going to keep so we don't have to list all those he breaks. It'd save us a lot of time and energy.


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American Media lies: Iraqi Chemical Plant and Scud Missile
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
New York
March 25, 2003

A lack of skepticism toward official U.S. sources has already led prominent American journalists into embarrassing errors in their coverage of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, particularly in relation to claims that proof had been found that Iraq possesses banned weapons.

On March 20, the second day of the invasion, U.S. military sources initially described missiles launched by Iraq as "Scuds"-- the U.S. name for a Soviet-made missile used by Iraq during the Gulf War. They exceed the range limits imposed on Iraqi weapons by the 1991 ceasefire agreement.

While some reporters appropriately sourced the Scud reports to military officials, and cautioned their audience about the uncertainty of the identification, others rushed to report claims as facts. NBC's Matt Lauer's report was definitive: "We understand they have fired three missiles. One of those was a Scud missile. It was destroyed by a Patriot missile battery as it headed toward Kuwait."

His colleague Tim Russert was similarly certain, saying, "Because of last night's activity, clearly the Iraqis are now trying to respond with at least one Scud fired at the troops mapped on the border of Kuwait and Iraq." Fellow NBC anchor Brian Williams added, "We learned one Scud had been intercepted, but two missiles had made it to Kuwaiti soil."

On NPR that day, anchor Bob Edwards was equally sure about what happened: "Iraq this morning launched Scud missiles at Kuwait in retaliation for the American strike on Baghdad a few hours earlier." Correspondent Mike Shuster helpfully pointed out that "these Scuds are banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions and have a range of up to 400 miles."

ABC's Ted Koppel, "embedded" with an infantry division, reported matter-of-factly that "there were two Scud missiles that came in. One was intercepted by a patriot missile." ABC anchor Derek McGinty had earlier explained that "there was a Scud attack, one Scud fired from Basra into Kuwait. It was intercepted by an American patriot battery, and apparently knocked out of the sky. There is still no word exactly what was on that Scud, whether or not there might have been any sort of unconventional weaponry onboard."

Fox News Channel's William La Jeunesse was not only asserting that a Scud had been launched, but was drawing conclusions about its significance: "Now, Iraq is not supposed to have Scuds because they have a range of 175 up to 400 miles. The limit by the U.N., of course, is like 95 miles. So, we already know they have something they're not supposed to have."

As the day went on, however, the Pentagon was less definitive about what kind of missile Iraq was using, prompting some journalists to back off the story. Associated Press reported on March 22 that "Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the vice director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon news conference that the Iraqis have not fired any Scuds and that U.S. forces searching airfields in the far western desert of Iraq have uncovered no missiles or launchers."

Even so, the next day, columnist Peter Bronson (Cincinnati Enquirer, 3/23/03) was still writing, "The Scuds he swore he did not have were fired at Kuwait, and Iraq was launching lame denials while the craters still smoked." Apparently the corrections of the earlier, incorrect reports had not reached even all of those whose job it is to follow the news.

Reporters were also embarrassed on March 23 by an evaporating story about a "chemical facility" near the town of Najaf, Iraq, that was touted by U.S. military officials as a possible smoking gun to prove disputed claims about Saddam Hussein possessing banned chemical weapons. While journalists were not typically as credulous of this claim as they were with the Scud story, and generally remembered to attribute it to military sources, accounts still tended to be breathless and to extrapolate wildly from an unconfirmed report.

ABC's John McWethy promoted the story with this report: "Amidst all the fighting, one important new discovery: U.S. officials say, up the road from Nasarijah, in a town called Najaf, they believe that they have captured a chemical weapons plant and perhaps more important, the commanding general of that facility. One U.S. official said he is a potential 'gold mine' about the weapons Saddam Hussein says he doesn't have."

NBC's Tom Brokaw described the story thusly: "Word tonight that U.S. forces may have found what U.N. inspectors spent months searching for, a facility suspected to be a chemical weapons plant, uncovered by ground troops on the way north to Baghdad." NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski added what seemed to be corroborating details: "This huge chemical complex... was constructed of sand-casted walls, in other words, meant to camouflage its appearance to blend in with the desert. Once inside, the soldiers found huge amounts of chemicals, stored chemicals. They apparently found no chemical weapons themselves, and now military officials here at the Pentagon say they have yet to determine exactly what these chemicals are or how they could have been used in weapons."

Fox News Channel, less cautious than some of its competitors, treated the report of a chemical weapons factory as fact in a series of onscreen banners like "Huge Chemical Weapons Factory Found in So. Iraq."

Some print outlets also hyped the story the next day, as when the Philadelphia Daily News (10/24/03) reported it as the "biggest find of the Iraq war" and "a reversal of fortune for American and British forces at the end of the war's most discouraging day."

As it turned out, however, the "discovery" seemed to be neither a big find nor a reversal of fortune, but simply a false alarm, and TV reporters began changing their stories. The Dow Jones news service reported (3/24/03), "U.S. officials said Monday that no chemical weapons were found at a suspected site at Najaf in central Iraq, U.S. television networks reported. NBC News reported from the Pentagon that no chemicals at all were found at the site. CNN, also reporting from the Pentagon, said officials now believe the plant there was abandoned long ago by the Iraqis." On March 25, the New York Times reported that "suggestions on Sunday that a chemical plant in Najaf might be a weapons site have turned out to be false."

U.S.-based journalists are generally quick to caution readers, when describing an allegation made by Iraq, that the information "could not be independently confirmed." The fact is that information provided by any government should be treated with skepticism; reporters might try extending their critical approach to the U.S. military's statements.

ACTION: Write to the leading broadcast and cable TV news outlets and urge them to be skeptical when relaying information from either side in this war.

Commentary:
Once again our TV talk shows, otherwise called NEWS is too full of fluff to believe. You have to be a moron to believe anything the war networks say. If you read this article and still believe anything you hear from the war networks, you're hopeless.


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Fourth Quarter 2002: GDP grew 1.4%
ABC News Wire/Reuters
— By Tim Ahmann
March 27, 2003

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. economy braked sharply at the end of last year as consumer spending slowed and exports dropped off, the government said on Thursday in its final snapshot of fourth-quarter growth.

U.S. gross domestic product rose at an annual rate of 1.4 percent in the final three months of last year after advancing a robust 4 percent in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said. The weak fourth-quarter reading was unchanged from a preliminary report released a month ago, as economists on Wall Street had expected.

For the year as a whole the economy grew a modest 2.4 percent, not enough to generate new jobs but a good bit better than the 0.3 percent gain in recession-bound 2001.

"There were modest, roughly offsetting, revisions to several components of GDP," the department said of the final fourth-quarter reading.

Consumer spending rose at a 1.7 percent pace in the October-December period, a touch stronger than reported a month ago but a sharp slowdown from the third quarter's 4.2 percent gain -- a reflection of a big drop in auto sales.

In addition, exports plunged at a 5.8 percent rate while imports rose 7.4 percent, effectively supplanting some domestic production. The department said the trade gap had the impact of shaving 1.59 percentage points from GDP growth.

Still, there were some bright spots.

Business investment spending increased 2.3 percent, its first gain since the third quarter of 2000. Spending on equipment and software rose for a third consecutive quarter and businesses cut back less sharply on spending for structures compared to the prior three months.

A decline in capital outlays by businesses led the economy into recession in early 2001 and a revival is considered crucial for a sustained, broad-based recovery.

Housing also was a bright spot with spending on residential structures up a strong 9.4 percent

Businesses increased inventories by $25.8 billion, a bit more than in the third quarter, which helped give a slight boost to growth. Government spending also increased.

While most analysts had expected the U.S. economy to pick up the pace early this year, a series of disappointing economic reports have led forecasters to scale back their projections.

However, forecasters are uncertain to what degree recent weakness reflects bad weather and war as opposed to more fundamental economic woes.

The report showed inflation well contained. The price index for consumer spending -- the Federal Reserve's favorite inflation measure -- rose at a 1.8 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter and was up just 1.5 percent when volatile food and energy prices are excluded.

A senior Fed staff member said earlier this week that measure may overstate inflation by about 0.5 percentage point.

With inflation a distant concern, the central bank has been able to act aggressively in lowering interest rates to try to spur growth.

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Commentary:
Go figure. According to conservatives a tax cut fixes all ills, yet Bush's tax cut has not only set us up for the largest deficits in history but the economy is in shambles to boot. This final report of GDP for 2002 is dismal. With the deficits Bush is creating you'd think the economy would be growing like a bat out of hell. In a few weeks we'll have our first glimpse into the economic numbers for 2003 and most likely they'll be very grim. The fourth quarter is usually the best quarter of the year because of Christmas etc. The first quarter is usually the worst. So get ready for some really bad numbers.

So how do we fix this mess you might ask? First, we get rid of the tax cut. With the rise of deficits to record levels we can't honestly say tax cuts exist anymore. Deficits are tax increases, not tax cuts. Bush is simply postponing when we pay the bill and his actions are not only insane but immoral.

The next step is to create stability for investors like we had under President Clinton. We do that by knocking off all this talk of terrorism and war.

Bush's need for war is causing immeasurable damage to the economy and I think most investors know by now he's the problem.

Finally, we need to stop spending like there's no tomorrow. Republicans say they can balance the budget again around 2013. How about this year instead? Raise taxes and cut spending until the budget is balanced this year. That way we can better judge the success or failure of republicans controlling the entire government.

Besides, isn't it more moral to let this generation, this congress and this president pay for what they spend instead of the next generation, the next congress and the next president?


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UN Inspector Assesses Iraqi WMD
Time Online
By STEWART STOGEL/THE UNITED NATIONS
Thursday, Mar. 27, 2003

"U.S. troops in Iraq will not find any facilities with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). I am sure of that," says a former chemical and biological weapons expert of the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) who remains close to and intimately informed about the recent U.N. arms inspection effort in Iraq. The expert (who requested anonymity) says that Baghdad "most likely' has shut down any WMD operations. He added that any munitions it may still possess "are most likely now in the field and being move around the country.'

"They (the weapons) could be in railroad cars, barges or refrigerator trucks. They are being kept on the move,' explained the former arms inspector. The arms expert says by keeping the weapons on the move, they make an attack by coalition forces more difficult. Furthermore, he explained they could be shifted around the country as "conditions warrant.'

The Pentagon has repeatedly complained to the U.N. about suspected bio agents being shuffled around Iraq in "refrigerator vans.' Chief U.N. arms inspector Dr. Hans Blix told the Security Council in February that his teams "had been unable to track down the refrigerator vans in question.'

The U.N. inspector says that the Pentagon must be careful not to fall into an Iraqi trap. He suspects that the movement of substantial numbers of Iraqi Republican Guard units southwards from Baghdad to confront advancing U.S. forces may be an attempt to create a battlefield situation favorable to the use of weapons of mass destruction. "If Iraq still has chemical weapons it wants to use,' he says, "it would want to cause as much damage as possible in one short attack. Therefore, the U.S. needs to be careful not to amass large numbers of troops in any central location.' The most likely attack, he says, would come from more than "800 unaccounted for 155mm artillery shells which may contain mustard gas.'

However, says the U.N. inspector, "the Iraqis have problems delivering their WMD in a militarily effective manner.' He reveals that more than 70% of Baghdad's declared and suspected WMD were in "aerial' form—meaning they were designed to be delivered by aircraft. Since Operation Desert Storm, the Iraqi Air Force has almost ceased to exist. The U.N. inspector also added that any biological weapons that Iraq might still possess would "not cause much of a problem for the U.S. forces.' He explained that the Pentagon is familiar with most or all of Baghdad's suspected bio weapons and has procedures to protect its soldiers against such an attack.

He added that Iraq's exotic weapons programs also involved the use of psycho-tropic agents similar to LSD. "They were not meant to kill, just incapacitate, confuse,' says the inspector. This had been designed, he says, as a means to fight off rag-tag Iranian forces in the late 1980's during the long war between Baghdad and Tehran. The other WMD weapons Iraq may still have were initially designed to "fight off Iranian human wave attacks, they really weren't meant against a force like the U.S. military.'

He adds that biological weapons in this war at this time are of little use. Iraq's suspected bio-weapons (anthrax, botulism) take days to take days to weaken the human body and would do little to blunt a fast moving force. He also says coalition troops have biological and chemical weapons detectors and decontamination units in the field, making it tough for bio-weapons to be much of a factor.

"My guess is that the probability of a WMD attack is small,' says the UN official. "Right now, Saddam has 80% of the world supporting him. If he used WMD, that support would dissolve. So, he has no incentive. Even if he did, it would not cause enough damage to change anything. About the only thing he may accomplish is to scare you reporters.'

Copyright © 2003 Time Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Commentary:
There appears to have been two reasons for this war. First, Iraq was accused of having weapons of mass destruction. Weapons that so far haven't been found and most likely don't exist. Second, our forces were sent to Iraq to free the people from Saddam. And we know now the people are fighting us instead of welcoming us. Someone wake up the press and tell them BUSH LIED.


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Shock and Awe Turns to Awe Shucks
New York Post
Commentary
March 27, 2003

By HARLAN K. ULLMAN

When the war started, the Pentagon trumpeted the phrase "shock and awe."

We were to expect a campaign of strategic air power and bombing that would break Iraq's will - quickly.

It was going to stun and shock their political and military leadership into perceiving that resistance was futile.

But as the U.S. Third Infantry Division and First Marine Expeditionary Force begin what could prove to be decisive battles with Saddam's elite Republican Guards, shock and awe seems to have sunk without a trace.

What happened? Three observations raise questions about our targeting policies:

First, it was revealed two days ago that the Ba'ath Party headquarters in Basra - a key target - had not been destroyed. It was finally destroyed yesterday.

Second, the Republican Guard divisions apparently have not been subjected to the same bombardment as in the Gulf War of 1991.

Third, Lieut. Gen. Scott Wallace, the commander of V Corps, was quoted as saying he wasn't getting enough air support.

Now, without firsthand knowledge of the battle plan and all the information available to the Secretary of Defense and to Gen. Tommy Franks, it's impossible to give a full analysis.

But this isn't the shock and awe that we planned.

The original version was a 360-degree application of all American power. That meant both "soft" and "hard" power, including psychological operations. But the wholesale use of firepower was a key component.

Some 30 years ago the North Vietnamese were terrified of "Arc Light" strikes of B-52 bombers, when thousands of tons of high explosive would rain down on them, out of the blue.

Of course, that was in jungles where civilians were scarce and the chance of civilian casualties was relatively small. But some of Saddam's military forces, particularly in wooded areas, could be subjected to the same intense bombardment.

That won't change the outcome of this war. The United States will prevail.

But it will not be through the shock and awe which has turned out to be more slogan than operational strategy.

Dr. Harlan Ullman is a distinguished national security expert and one of the principal authors of the doctrine of "shock and awe."

NEW YORK POST is a registered trademark of NYP Holdings, Inc. NYPOST.COM, NYPOSTONLINE.COM, and NEWYORKPOST.COM are trademarks of NYP Holdings, Inc. Copyright 2003 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
I put up this article only because it tells us who came up with this silly idea of "shock and awe." The only good thing about this administration is it has lots of cute phrases. Too bad none of them work.


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Al-Jazeera Defends Iraq War Coverage
Yahoo News/AP
By SARAH EL DEEB
Associated Press Writer

March 27, 2003

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Responding to criticism for airing footage of dead U.S. and British soldiers, the Arab satellite television channel Al-Jazeera channel said Thursday it had a duty to show the world casualties on all sides in the Iraq war.

"War has victims from both sides," said Al-Jazeera's editor in chief, Ibrahim Hilal. "If you don't show both sides, you are not covering" the war.

On Wednesday, the popular Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera showed footage from southern Iraq of the bloodied bodies of two men in uniform identified as British soldiers.

Air Marshall Brian Burridge, the top British commander in the Gulf, told reporters Thursday that the men were probably two missing British soldiers and said the broadcast caused "distress to the families of the soldiers."

"All media outlets must be aware of the limits of taste and decency and be wary that they do not unwittingly become the tools of the Iraqi regime," Burridge said.

His comment came a few days after U.S. government officials rebuked Al-Jazeera for airing Iraqi TV footage of American prisoners of war and dead soldiers, saying it violated Geneva Conventions on the humane treatment of those affected by war. Those conventions stipulate that prisoners of war must be protected "against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity."

American networks have shown crowds of Iraqi prisoners of war, but no close-ups in which they would be identifiable and no interviews with PoW's as the Iraqi TV footage did with U.S. prisoners of war.

Before the American POW controversy, British TV and newspapers had been freely showing pictures of Iraqi Pow's. Since then, the media have toned down their footage — showing Iraqi PoW's, but usually at a distance or with their faces partly covered.

Hilal said Al-Jazeera gives both Americans and Iraqis their say. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was interviewed by Al-Jazeera Wednesday, an American acknowledgment of Al-Jazeera reach and influence in the Arab world.

While U.S. officials still appear on Al-Jazeera, at least two other American institutions are boycotting the network.

The Nasdaq Stock Market and the New York Stock exchange barred journalists from Al-Jazeera earlier this week. A Nasdaq spokesman told the Los Angeles Times that the network wasn't welcome "in light of (its) recent conduct during the war, in which they have broadcast footage of U.S. PoW's in alleged violation of the Geneva Convention."

Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Copyright © 2003 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
 

Commentary:
I like the part about banning Al-Jazeera from the NASDAQ and New York Stock Exchange. Since every US press agency aired Afgahinistani and Iraqi PoW's are all US news organizations going to be banned from the Exchanges also? Or better yet, since Bush in engaged in an illegal war and has violated the Geneva Convention and International Law will he be banned also? Hypocrites.


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Sodomy Laws: More Conservative Big Government
Washington Post
By ANNE GEARAN
The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 26, 2003; 1:17 PM

The Supreme Court should reverse course and strike down a ban on homosexual sex as outdated, discriminatory and harmful, a lawyer for two men arrested in their bedroom argued Wednesday.

The court appeared deeply divided over a Texas law that makes it a crime for gay couples to engage in sex acts that are legal for heterosexual couples. The court was widely criticized for a ruling 17 years ago that upheld a similar sodomy ban.

States should not be able to single out one group and make their conduct illegal solely because the state dislikes that conduct, lawyer Paul Smith argued for the Texas men.

"There is a long history of the state making moral judgments," retorted Justice Antonin Scalia. "You can make it sound very puritanical," but the state may have good reasons, Scalia added.

"Almost all laws are based on disapproval of some people or conduct. That's why people regulate," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist added dryly.

Justice Stephen Breyer challenged Houston prosecutor Charles Rosenthal to justify why the state has any interest in peeping into the bedrooms of gay people.

"Why isn't that something the state has no business in, because it isn't hurting anybody?" Breyer asked.

The state has an interest in protecting marriage and family and promoting the birth of children, Rosenthal replied. "Texas can set bright line moral standards for its people."

A large crowd stood in line outside the court before the oral arguments in hopes of getting a scarce seat for one of the court's biggest cases this year. A knot of protesters stood apart, holding signs that read "AIDS is God's revenge," "God sent the sniper" and other messages.

State anti-sodomy laws, once universal, now are rare. Those on the books are infrequently enforced but underpin other kinds of discrimination, lawyers and gay rights supporters said.

"We truly hope the Supreme Court in its wisdom will remove this mechanism that has been used for so long to obstruct basic civility to gay and lesbian people," said Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the gay rights organization Human Rights Campaign.

In 1986, a narrow majority of the court upheld Georgia's sodomy law in a ruling that became a touchstone for the growing gay rights movement. Even then the court's decision seemed out of step and was publicly unpopular, said Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, who argued on the losing side of the case.

"We're now dealing with a very small handful of statutes in a circumstance where the country, whatever its attitudes toward discrimination based on sexual orientation, (has reached) a broad consensus that what happens in the privacy of the bedroom between consenting adults is simply none of the state's business."

As recently as 1960, every state had a sodomy law. In 37 states, the statutes have been repealed by lawmakers or blocked by state courts.

Of the 13 states with sodomy laws, four - Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri - prohibit "deviate sexual intercourse," or oral and anal sex, between same-sex couples. The other nine ban consensual sodomy for everyone: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.

An unusual array of organizations is backing the two Texas men. In addition to a long list of gay rights, human rights and medical groups, a group of conservative Republicans and the libertarian Cato Institute and Institute for Justice argued in friend of the court filings that government should stay out of the bedroom.

"This case is an opportunity to confirm that the constitutional command of equal protection requires that gays be treated as equal to all other citizens under the law, subject to neither special preferences nor special disabilities," the brief for the Republican Unity Coalition said.

On the other side, the Texas government and its allies say the case is about the right of states to enforce the moral standards of their communities.

"The states of the union have historically prohibited a wide variety of extramarital sexual conduct," Texas authorities argued in legal papers. Nothing in that legal tradition recognizes "a constitutionally protected liberty interest in engaging in any form of sexual conduct with whomever one chooses," the state argued.

Conservative legal and social organizations, religious groups and the states of Alabama, South Carolina and Utah back Texas in the case.

The case began in 1998, when a neighbor tricked police with a false report of a black man "going crazy" in John Geddes Lawrence's apartment. Police pushed their way in and found Lawrence having anal sex with another man, Tyron Garner.

Although Texas rarely enforced its antisodomy law, officers decided to book the two men and jail them overnight on charges of "deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex." They were each fined $200 plus court costs.

The case is Lawrence v. Texas, 02-102.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
What part of the Constitution do these nuts use that gives them the power to decide who can have sex with whom? We're talking about a consensual relationship here and it boggles the mind that anyone (especially someone who calls himself conservative) thinks this is the proper role of government. More conservative big government. Good grief. When will they stop trying to run everyone's life?


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Seven Enron Subsidiaries Manipulated Calif. prices
Washington Post
By MARK SHERMAN
The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 26, 2003; 1:48 PM

Federal energy regulators said Wednesday that their investigation found widespread manipulation of natural gas and electricity prices and supplies in California.

Pat Wood, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said that as a result of the manipulation California would receive more than the $1.8 billion in refunds recommended by a FERC judge in December.

The exact amount is to be determined in the coming months, but FERC spokesman Kevin Cadden estimated that the total would be $3.3 billion. California is seeking $9 billion.

The FERC singled out seven subsidiaries of bankrupt Enron Corp. and five other companies for taking advantage of a dysfunctional market and reaping millions of dollars in unjust profits.

"The price gouging abounded," Commissioner William Massey said. He said he regretted that FERC did not intervene earlier to police the newly deregulated power market in California.

California Gov. Gray Davis said the ruling confirms "there was widespread market manipulation and a massive ripoff of California ratepayers. Now the question is whether the FERC commissioners will have the grit to order the remedies that are necessary."

The agency is considering placing limits on the profits of four marketers of wholesale power and banning eight gas companies from selling natural gas in California, Wood said.

The power marketers are Enron Power Marketing Inc., Enron Energy Services Inc., Reliant Energy Services Inc., and BP Energy Company.

The natural gas companies are Bridgeline Gas Marketing LLC, Citrus Trading Corp., ENA Upstream Company, Enron Canada Corp., Enron Compression Services Company, Enron Energy Services Inc., Enron MW LLC and Enron North America Corp.

The investigation also found a close link between natural gas and electricity prices. Gas is the fuel at many power plants.

After a 13-month investigation, FERC concluded "that many trading strategies employed by Enron and other companies violated the anti-gaming provisions" of marketing rules.

"Enron manipulated thinly traded physical markets to profit in financial markets," FERC said, estimating that Enron made more than $500 million in online trading in 2000 and 2001.

FERC investigators recommended that the companies be forced to give up unfairly earned profits.

Investigators also urged the commission to consider sanctions energy companies and public utilities that sold power in California during the summer of 2000. That could further increase the amount of money owed to California since that time period is not accounted for in the refunds that already have been recommended.

The commission deferred action on California's request to renegotiate some $20 billion in long-term power contracts signed at the height of the energy crisis. The three commissioners expressed sharp division over whether to meddle in the contracts, with Wood and Nora Brownell saying they would oppose the state's claim at this time. Only Massey strongly favored ordering changes in those contract.

FERC also is continuing to evaluate other evidence the state has submitted to support more allegations that some energy companies withheld power in a bid to increase prices.

FERC planned to make public the California evidence later Wednesday.

The energy crisis cost the state as much as $45 billion over two years in higher electricity costs, lost business due to blackouts and a slowdown in economic growth, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Shortcomings in California's energy market rules and a shortage of electricity stemming from the lack of hydropower in the Northwest in 2000 "made this fertile ground for the manipulation we found," said Donald Gelinas, who headed FERC's investigation.

The regulatory agency capped wholesale power prices across the West and instituted other changes in June 2001 that brought a quick end to the energy crisis.

Wood ordered an investigation in February 2002 after California officials repeatedly charged energy marketers with gouging California's utilities and its customers.

Two months later, FERC obtained an internal Enron memo that described trading strategies, including sham transactions and other schemes aimed at creating congestion on the Western power grids and forcing up prices. Two former Enron traders have pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from the trading strategies.

The memo indicated that other companies had similar strategies, but provided no details. Energy companies have largely denied wrongdoing.

Separately, California last week agreed to a settlement with El Paso Corp., for $1.7 billion, ending a dispute over whether the company withheld natural gas from California to drive up prices.

On the Net:

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: http://www.ferc.gov

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Never forget it was California's phony energy crisis that allowed Bush to propose a national energy plan. We still haven't figured out why a national energy plan is ok, but a national healthcare plan isn't. One is called socialism, the other is not. Do you think he has something to do with who's making the money in these plans and who's saving money? When consumers save money (heathcare) it's called socialism. When huge oil companies reap (or rip off the consumer) huge profits it's not called socialism. Both were going to run by government.


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Treasury's Snow Received $69.8 from CSX
Washington Post
y David S. Hilzenrath
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 25, 2003; Page A03

Treasury Secretary John W. Snow left CSX Corp. last month with $68.9 million in deferred compensation and other pay, including a pension that some advisers to corporate boards said was unusually large.

The Richmond-based railroad gave Snow a $33.2 million lump sum in lieu of future pension payments of about $2.9 million a year, according to a report it filed yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

At that rate, Snow, 63, would have received more per year in retirement than the $2.1 million of salary and bonus he was paid last year while he was still on the job.

"That doesn't happen very often," said Brian Foley, who advises big corporations on executive pay matters. Snow's compensation at CSX "didn't seem to me to jibe with somebody who's a reformer."

In addition to the pension, Snow received $8.1 million in cash in lieu of a $25 million life insurance policy provided under his employment contract, $8.7 million in deferred compensation and $18.9 million in stock that he had accrued but not yet received.

CSX spokesman Adam Hollingsworth said, "John Snow's pension and related benefits are consistent with executives of other Fortune 500 companies."

A Treasury Department spokesman declined to comment.

Typically, annual pension payments to retired executives are 40 to 65 percent of what they earned during their peak years, some compensation consultants said.

In computing Snow's pension, CSX credited him with 44 years of service at the railroad company, although he worked there for about 25 years. "Adding additional years of service for purposes of pension calculations is a common practice in executive compensation across Fortune 500 companies," Hollingsworth said.

The railroad based Snow's pension on his average pay over the past five years, which the company said was $4.4 million. According to a proxy report filed with the SEC yesterday, that average included 250,000 shares of restricted stock that Snow was granted in 1999.

CSX's compensation committee accelerated the vesting of the restricted stock in 2002 based on the company's achievement of performance goals stated in an employment contract with Snow, the CSX report said.

Company spokesmen said they were unable to explain in detail yesterday how the board determined that the goals had been met.

Hollingsworth said Snow's compensation "was based on criteria set by the board," and "based on their analysis of the criteria set he was compensated accordingly."

Snow relinquished claim to about $18 million in severance pay and perquisite under an employment contract negotiated in 2001, a CSX spokesman said. The contract specifically addressed what could happen if Snow left CSX for public office.

But, based on the contract, it appears that Snow was not automatically entitled to those benefits. First, the compensation board would have to determine that Snow was assuming a role "benefiting the company and its mission," the contract said.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
A quick search for CSX and layoffs showed they laid off over 3500 people in 2001, the year before the gave Snow this bonus. It appear CSX like so many companies these days has millions to pay (buy-off) former bosses, but not enough money to keep their people employed. CSX sounds like a good republican company--give to the rich, screw everyone else.



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