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Know Thy Enemy

Dear Folks,

Am posting the following piece to the list because of the Cordesman link. As
you probably know Cordesman is a big-shot pundit on the Middle East, forever
being interviewed on the Radio etc...
He is also the author of a number of books on Iraq and sanctions. If my
memory serves me correctly his most recent book on the subject (Iraq and the
war of sanctions) claimed that there was no humanitarian crisis in Iraq -
and cited CIA figures as "proof".

Anyway here is Cordesman apparently recommending trials without due process
and "interrogation methods that border on psychological and/or physical
torture" and opining that the issue "is not whether extreme security
measures will sometimes be used, or whether they are sometimes necessary.
The issue is rather how many such acts occur, how well-focused they are on
those who directly commit terrorism, and how justified they are in terms of
their relative cost-benefits."


The Independent
6 November 2000

US report urges Arafat to use torture for peace

An influential think-tank advises Palestinian Authority to ruthlessly
repress militant elements without regard for basic human rights

By Robert Fisk in Gaza

Palestinian leaders have been shocked to read an American think-tank report
which urges them to act "ruthlessly" against opponents of the Oslo
agreement  even if this involves "excessive force", trials without due
process of law and "interrogation methods that border on psychological
and/or physical torture."

A draft copy of the report by the influential Centre for Strategic and
International Studies (CSIS), which has close links with the United States
government, has been published on the internet and circulated among dozens
of members of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, including Yasser Arafat's
most senior intelligence officers.

The report says that even if peace follows the "Second Intifada", "both
sides [Palestinian and Israeli] will be forced to conduct aggressive [sic]
security operations for years to come" which "can have a high price tag in
terms of human rights." By way of comparison, it adds that British security
forces in Northern Ireland "balanced" what it calls "effective security"
with human rights  even though "the British used excessive force, abused
human rights, and used extreme interrogation methods and torture."

Amnesty International and other human rights groups have frequently
condemned the use of arbitrary false arrest, detention and torture by
Arafat's "muhabarrat" security apparatus, pointing out that CIA operatives
appear to have been complicit in these abuses. Far from denouncing these
practices, however, the draft CSIS report appears to encourage their use,
stating that "such measures also tend to work".

The document is dated 18 October and bears the name of Anthony H Cordesman 
a former national security assistant to failed Republican presidential
candidate Senator John McCain  who is now holder of the Arleigh A Burke
Chair in Strategy at the CSIS, named after the former Chief of US Naval
Operations. His document is heavily referenced to CIA, State Department and
Israeli sources and, according to Palestinian officials here, has been
circulated within the US and Israeli governments.

Entitled "Peace and War: Israel versus the Palestinians", it recounts the
turbulent history of Israeli-Palestinian relations since the 1993 Oslo
agreement although its bias is obvious from the frequent use of "terrorist"
to describe violent Arab groups and the almost ubiquitous use of "extremist"
in reference to their violent Israeli opposite numbers.

It excuses the use of Israeli live bullets against stone-throwers, adding
that CS gas and rubber bullets are often "not effective in stopping large
groups" and that "troops cannot let mobs armed with stones and Molotov
cocktails close on their positions, or rely on the riot control gear used in
civil disobedience."

In a section headed "The Need for Palestinian Authority Ruthlessness and
Efficiency", it states "there will be no future peace, or stable peace
process, if the Palestinian security forces do not act ruthlessly and
effectively. They must react very quickly and decisively in dealing with
terrorism and violence if they are to preserve the momentum of Israeli
withdrawal, the expansion of Palestinian control, and the peace process.
They must halt civil violence even if this sometimes means using excessive
force by the standards of Western police forces. They must be able to halt
terrorist and paramilitary action by Hamas and Islamic Jihad even if this
means interrogations, detentions and trials that are too rapid and lack due
process. If they do not, the net cost to both peace and the human rights of
most Palestinians will be devastating."

The report says that permission must be obtained for any publication of the
contents, but copies have now been circulated throughout the Palestinian
Authority, including the offices of Mohamed Dahalan and Jibril Rajoub,
respectively heads of Arafat's "Preventative Security" in Gaza and Ramallah.
Both Dahalan and Rajoub were sent to Langley, Virginia, for what was called
"human rights training" by US government intelligence services.

Although it condemns "Israeli terrorism"  a phrase used only once and in
reference to Jewish settlers' groups  the document concludes with chilling
advice to both Palestinians and Israelis. "Every counter-terrorist force
that has ever succeeded has had to act decisively and sometimes violently,"
it says.

"Effective counter-terrorism relies on interrogation methods that border on
psychological and/or physical torture, arrests and detentions that are
'arbitrary' by the standards of civil law, break-ins and intelligence
operations that violate the normal rights of privacy, levels of violence in
making arrests that are unacceptable in civil cases, and measures that
involve the innocent (or at least not provably directly guilty) in arrests
and penalties."

The issue, the report adds, "is not whether extreme security measures will
sometimes be used, or whether they are sometimes necessary. The issue is
rather how many such acts occur, how well-focused they are on those who
directly commit terrorism, and how justified they are in terms of their
relative cost-benefits."

Palestinian officials here noted with surprise how accurate was the report's
list of escalating Israeli responses to the current low-intensity war, from
Israeli mobilisation of armour to the sealing off of Palestinian towns and
"the use of helicopter gunships and snipers to provide mobility and
suppressive fire". Apparently based on a 1996 Israeli test plan codenamed
"Operation Field of Thorns", the military responses end with the "forced
evacuation" of Palestinians from "sensitive areas". Palestine Authority
officers, however, were taken aback to read that the PA's "military
strength" includes a Lockheed Jetstar aircraft. The plane, they point out,
happens to be Arafat's personal executive jet.

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