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News :: Peace & War

Babylon Paved Over: Babylon wrecked by war

US-led forces leave a trail of destruction and
contamination in architectural site of world

Rory McCarthy in Baghdad, and Maev Kennedy
Saturday January 15, 2005


Troops from the US-led force in Iraq have caused
widespread damage and severe contamination to the
remains of the ancient city of Babylon, according to a damning report released today by the British Museum.

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News :: Right Wing

AMID THE IVY: Right on Campus

Conservatives begin to infiltrate the left's last redoubt.


Throughout 2003 and into 2004, a surge of protests roiled American campuses. You probably think the kids were agitating against war in Iraq, right? Well, no. Students at UCLA, Michigan and many other schools were sponsoring bake sales to protest . . . affirmative action. For white
students and faculty, a cookie cost (depending on the school) $1; blacks and Hispanics could buy one for a lot less.

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Commentary :: Peace & War

Iraqi Insurgents Responsible for Fewer "Collateral" Casualties than American Forces

In a much publicized article in The Atlantic Monthly, William Langewiesche wrote: "For the most part, . . . the insurgents' attacks are less nihilistic than they are logical and precisely focused, whether against the American coalition and its camp followers or their Iraqi agents and collaborators. The truth is that however vicious or even sadistic the insurgents may be, they are acutely aware of their popular base, and are responsible for fewer unintentional 'collateral' casualties than are the clumsy and overarmed American forces" ("Letter from Baghdad," January/February 2005).

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News :: Civil & Human Rights

Racial Profiling Bill Again Presented in Virginia

Profiling bill again presented

If it passes, police must record races of drivers.


January 14 2005

RICHMOND -- Del. Jeion Ward sent her three sons off to college with advice to take good classes, don't run up the credit card and be very, very polite if pulled over by police.

In the black community, being stopped for driving while black is perceived as a fact of life.

Ward, D-Hampton, has introduced a bill to require police departments across the state to record the race of every driver pulled over and to have the Virginia State Police track and analyze that information.

The information is needed to determine whether police really do stop motorists based on their skin color or if it is just the perception of many in the black community, she said.

"You hear it all the time," she said at a press conference Thursday to promote her measure. "In the shoes I walk in, it's discussed all the time. We can't just keep going on like this. Either, yes, we have a problem, let's do something about it, or no, it really is just random."

The perception in the black community that minorities are more likely to be pulled over by police is damaging to the public's trust of all police departments, whether racial profiling happens or not, said Del. Mamye BaCote, D-Newport News.

"The perception is important," she said. "The people in my district are very much concerned."

Ward's bill would require police departments to record the race, sex and age of each motorist stopped and whether the motorist was questioned, detained, or issued a ticket or a warning.

That information would have to be forwarded to the state police, which would be required to create and analyze a statewide database and issue yearly reports to the governor and General Assembly.

The measure, pushed by the Virginia Organizing Project, isn't the first legislative attempt to track the race of drivers who are pulled over.

Previous bills to track that information have been rebuffed by the General Assembly several times over the years.

In 2001, the state police - along with the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the Virginia Sheriff's Association - surveyed police departments statewide and said it could find no evidence of a pattern of racial profiling by Virginia law enforcement officers.

Most departments reported that they would not tolerate using race in deciding whether to stop a motorist, but many at the time didn't formally prohibit it. The state police have officially banned the practice for years.

The survey also revealed that few police departments have training programs to better ensure that officers are aware of the issue of racial profiling.

A year later, the General Assembly created an advisory panel to investigate recurring allegations that race was a factor in traffic stops. That panel also said it could find no pervasive pattern of racial profiling by the state police.

The panel found that the state police got 63 complaints of racial discrimination out of nearly 6.5 million contacts between state troopers and members of the public from 1997 to 2001. The panel said it could not determine if local police departments also had a relatively low number of such complaints lodged against them.

In 2003, Gov. Mark R. Warner had the state police issue more-comprehensive guidelines on training police officers and had the state modify traffic tickets to include a phone number for motorists to call with complaints.

While some police departments record the age, sex and date of birth of everyone who gets a ticket, few, if any, keep track of that information each time a driver is stopped.

That data could determine whether, for example, an individual officer is prone to ticket most black drivers who are stopped while allowing white drivers to go with a warning.

The Hampton and Newport News police departments have policies that prohibit officers from stopping motorists or searching or detaining people based on their ethnicity. Newport News officers have received racial sensitivity training, said Officer Holly Hileman, department spokeswoman.

Still, many minority residents in Hampton Roads area believe - whether true or not - that police pull them over more often than they do white drivers, said Ward, whose bill, House Bill 2735, has not yet been referred to a committee for consideration.

"I feel we have come too far as communities to deal with this recurring issue any more," Ward said. "It's time to see if this is real, or just perceived."

Copyright (c) 2005, Daily Press

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Commentary :: Media

A Video Message from the Iraqi Resistance

Reuters obtained from Iraqi guerrillas "an English-language video urging U.S. troops to lay down their weapons and seek refuge in mosques and homes" (Michael Georgy, "Iraq Rebels in Video Taunt," January 12, 2005), promising protection to soldiers who heed their call. The Information Clearing House has made the video and a transcript of its content available: "A Message from the 'Iraq Resistance.'"

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Commentary :: Media

The Politics of Fear: "The Power of Nightmares" and "Hijacking Catastrophe"

Here are two useful documentaries for activists: "The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear": and "Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire."

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News :: Civil & Human Rights

Smells like Negroponte

Now back from 3 week vacation, including visits to
Ukraine, Amsterdam, New Orleans, and Seattle.

Smells like Negroponte (and Algeria, Israel, El
Salvador, Vietnam, and several other dirty wars of the
past). This would go part of the way to explaining
why the insurgents are killing so many Iraqi Police
recruits. In addition, considering that Special
Forces frequently operate in civilian clothing and
conduct humanitarian operations as well as military
operations, one can see why all Westerners are now
under suspicion in certain conflict zones. In one
sense, the assassination of several Western
non-combatants and humanitarian workers can be
connected to the use of Special Forces for such
operations discussed below. If (or perhaps when)
these tactics are implemented, dirty tactics will grow
far more abusive than they have up until now:

Newsweek magazine
09 January 2005

'The Salvador Option'

The Pentagon May Put Special-Forces-led Assassination
or Kidnapping Teams in Iraq

by Michael Hirsh and John Barry

What to do about the deepening quagmire of Iraq? The
Pentagon's latest approach is being called "the
Salvador option"-and the fact that it is being
discussed at all is a measure of just how worried
Donald Rumsfeld really is. "What everyone agrees is
that we can't just go on as we are," one senior
military officer told NEWSWEEK. "We have to find a way
to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right
now, we are playing defense. And we are losing." Last
November's operation in Fallujah, most analysts agree,
succeeded less in breaking "the back" of the
insurgency-as Marine Gen. John Sattler optimistically
declared at the time-than in spreading it out.

Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively
debating an option that dates back to a still-secret
strategy in the Reagan administration's battle against
the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El
Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing
war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government
funded or supported "nationalist" forces that
allegedly included so-called death squads directed to
hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers.
Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S.
conservatives consider the policy to have been a
success-despite the deaths of innocent civilians and
the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal.
(Among the current administration officials who dealt
with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who
is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he
was ambassador to Honduras.)

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would
send Special Forces teams to advise, support and
possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to
target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even
across the border into Syria, according to military
insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains
unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of
assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in
which the targets are sent to secret facilities for
interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S.
Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria,
activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by
Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK.

Also being debated is which agency within the U.S.
government-the Defense department or CIA-would take
responsibility for such an operation. Rumsfeld's
Pentagon has aggressively sought to build up its own
intelligence-gathering and clandestine capability with
an operation run by Defense Undersecretary Stephen
Cambone. But since the Abu Ghraib interrogations
scandal, some military officials are ultra-wary of any
operations that could run afoul of the ethics codified
in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That, they
argue, is the reason why such
covert operations have always been run by the CIA and
authorized by a special presidential finding. (In
"covert" activity, U.S. personnel operate under cover
and the U.S. government will not confirm that it
instigated or ordered them into action if they are
captured or killed.)

Meanwhile, intensive discussions are taking place
inside the Senate Intelligence Committee over the
Defense department's efforts to expand the involvement
of U.S. Special Forces personnel in
intelligence-gathering missions. Historically, Special
Forces' intelligence gathering has been limited to
objectives directly related to upcoming military
operations-"preparation of the battlefield," in
military lingo. But, according to intelligence and
defense officials, some Pentagon civilians for years
have sought to expand the use of Special Forces for
other intelligence missions.

Pentagon civilians and some Special Forces personnel
believe CIA civilian managers have traditionally been
too conservative in planning and executing the kind of
undercover missions that Special Forces soldiers
believe they can effectively conduct. CIA
traditionalists are believed to be adamantly opposed
to ceding any authority to the Pentagon. Until now,
Pentagon proposals for a capability to send soldiers
out on intelligence missions without direct CIA
approval or participation have been shot down. But
counter-terrorist strike squads, even operating
covertly, could be deemed to fall within the Defense
department's orbit.

The interim government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi
is said to be among the most forthright proponents of
the Salvador option. Maj. Gen.Muhammad Abdallah
al-Shahwani, director of Iraq's National Intelligence
Service, may have been laying the groundwork for the
idea with a series of interviews during the past ten
days. Shahwani told the London-based Arabic daily
Al-Sharq al-Awsat that the insurgent leadership-he
named three former senior figures in the Saddam
including Saddam Hussein's half-brother-were
essentially safe across the border in a Syrian
sanctuary. "We are certain that they are in Syria and
move easily between Syrian and Iraqi territories," he
said, adding that efforts to extradite them "have not
borne fruit so far."

Shahwani also said that the U.S. occupation has failed
to crack the problem of broad support for the
insurgency. The insurgents, he said, "are mostly in
the Sunni areas where the population there, almost
200,000, is sympathetic to them." He said most Iraqi
people do not actively support the insurgents or
provide them with material or logistical help, but at
the same time they won't turn them in. One military
source involved in the Pentagon debate agrees that
this is the crux of the problem, and he suggests that
new offensive operations are needed that would create
a fear of aiding the insurgency. "The Sunni population
is paying no price for the support it is giving to the
terrorists," he said. "From their point of view, it is
cost-free. We have to change that equation."

Pentagon sources emphasize there has been no decision
yet to launch the Salvador option. Last week, Rumsfeld
decided to send a retired four-star general, Gary
Luck, to Iraq on an open-ended mission to review the
entire military strategy there. But with the U.S. Army
strained to the breaking point, military strategists
note that a dramatic new approach might be
needed-perhaps one as potentially explosive as the
Salvador option.

With Mark Hosenball
© Copyright 2005 Newsweek

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News :: Civil & Human Rights

Couple feels forced to leave

Local couple feels forced to leave the area because of Virginia law that went into effect July 1, 2004.


Date published: 1/9/2005

Law could cause them harm

Editor's note: The last names of the couple in this article are being withheld to protect them from repercussions.

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