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News, 17-24/9/03 (2) MIDDLE EAST * Pan-Arabism, dead in Baghdad's streets * Congress sees 'terror' road leading from Damascus * Fate of hundreds of Iraq war refugees remains unknown * Turkish opposition slams US loan linked to Iraq 'INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY' * Nearly half of Iraqis remain poor, malnourished, UN says * UN awards $315 million in Gulf War claims * Transcript of interview with President Jacques Chirac * UN loses patience with the American way * Court throws out lawsuit against US Iraq commander BURIAL OF THE PRETEXT * Bush clarifies position on Saddam's terror links * Blix criticises UK's Iraq dossier * Kennedy Says Case for Iraq War Was Fraud * No Evidence of Smallpox Found in Iraq * White House is ambushed by criticism from America's military community * U.S. offering immunity to Iraqi scientists * "The Crazies Are Back": Bush Sr.'s CIA Briefer Discusses How Wolfowitz & Allies Falsely Led the U.S. To War MIDDLE EAST http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/17_09_03_b.asp * PAN-ARABISM, DEAD IN BAGHDAD'S STREETS by Mustafa Alrawi Lebanon Daily Star, 17th September It is now likely that a United Nations force will join Spanish and Polish troops to take some of the responsibility for policing Iraq from the workhorses of the "coalition of the willing" - Britain and the United States. After more than four months of liberation duty, British and American troops need some relief from the day-to-day grind. In the midst of all of this, the choice made by many Arab countries to not participate in the US-led invasion still frustrates, particularly in light of the quick end to the conflict. The political decision taken by Arab leaders to deny the US their public support for the war has so far left Iraq with no Arab help in the post-war period. In effect, the Arab world has sidelined itself with respect to playing a role in a future Iraq, which is being reshaped by the Anglo-American coalition. The gradual opening up of Iraq to a UN role, triggered by an apparent change of policy in Washington, could lead to Arab nations finally getting involved. On the face of it, wouldn't it have been better from the beginning to have Arabic-speaking soldiers in Iraq, who could relate to the local culture in a way Westerners could only dream of? How much easier would it have been for the Coalition Provisional Authority to win hearts and minds if it had had more Arabs delivering its message? Having Muslim troops stationed in a Muslim country made sense, didn't it? A Saudi officer or a Jordanian soldier would have been much easier to trust than one with the stars and stripes on his uniform, right? Wrong. Evidence on the ground in Iraq suggests that the population does not actually regard the absence of Arab involvement as a bad thing at all. The truth is that most Iraqis would prefer to have a US-dominated force in their country, over an Arab one. The grim reality, one particularly hard to hear for those Arabs who felt they were supporting their Iraqi brethren when demonstrating against war, is that most Iraqis don't want to have anything to do with them. On the walls of Mosul University, one of Iraq's oldest, warning signs are clearly displayed: "No Jordanians, No Palestinians." Iraqis are clearly still upset that other Arabs were able to study in Iraq, effectively on former President Saddam Hussein's payroll. Iraqis have had enough of seeing their own lives compromised for the benefit of Arabs from neighbouring countries. Saddam played the Palestinian card for all it was worth. Iraqis widely believe that the support, both vocal and financial, he gave to families of Palestinian suicide bombers was the reason behind the wrath of the "Zionists" in Israel and America. Whether that is true or not is beside the point - Iraqis saw other Arabs benefit from the Baath regime, while they were left to suffer. In contrast, the US spilled the blood of its soldiers to liberate them from Saddam's tyranny. No matter how bad things are in Iraq, friends, colleagues and relatives assure me that with the pressure of living under the old regime gone, life is 100 percent better. The illicit oil deals between Saddam's regime and countries like Syria and Jordan, which were affectionately known as "memorandums of understanding," irked the population. Even now, in a country that has the world's second-largest reserves of crude oil, Iraqis must go begging to Syria, Turkey and Jordan for fuel imports to meet domestic consumption. It's not an easy pill for the average Iraqi to swallow. Stories are doing the rounds telling of how even Kuwaitis profited from Saddam after 1991. Iraqis are incensed that people from a country supposed to be their enemy were treated better by their leader than they were. "Foreigners had more rights in Iraq than Iraqis did under Saddam," is not an uncommon complaint heard in Baghdad. There is a lot of animosity toward those countries that managed to gain from the former regime's thirst for international recognition and popularity. In this light, the bombing of the Jordanian Embassy in August is not difficult to comprehend. It was even more tragic and disgusting an act when considering that it was mainly Iraqis who died in the blast. Pan-Arab nationalists will find that their dreams have died in the dusty streets of Baghdad and in the narrow lanes of Fallujah. Iraqis just aren't interested. They have enough problems of their own and want to get back on an even keel, to enjoy their country as they were always supposed to. In Jordan, King Abdullah champions his "Jordan First" campaign, struggling to get the message out to his people. Iraqis have learned their lessons - Iraq comes first; there is no second place. Mustafa Alrawi is managing editor of the Baghdad-based and Iraqi-staffed independent weekly Iraq Today (www.iraq-today.com), Iraq's first English-language newspaper. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR http://www.dailystar.com.lb/19_09_03/art1.asp * CONGRESS SEES 'TERROR' ROAD LEADING FROM DAMASCUS by Maha Al-Azar Lebanon Daily Star, 19th September Washington: Members of the US Congress stepped up pressure on Syria this week, accusing it of supporting and exporting terror, developing weapons of mass destruction and using Lebanon as a training ground for terrorists. They called on Washington to put force behind its rhetoric by imposing sanctions on Syria and downgrading its diplomatic ties with Damascus. Although the members of Congress incited their government to a tougher stance against Syria, they steered clear of calling for military action against Damascus, something which US Undersecretary of Arms Control John R. Bolton insisted is not yet an option. "Our preference is to solve these problems by peaceful and diplomatic means," Bolton told a hearing before House representatives on Tuesday. Two public hearings and one classified meeting took place on Capitol Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, which was introduced in 2002 by Congress but did not pass due to a lack of support. The act calls on Syria to "halt (its) support for terrorism, end its occupation of Lebanon, stop its development of weapons of mass destruction, cease its illegal importation of Iraqi oil and illegal shipments of weapons and other military items to Iraq, and by so doing hold Syria accountable for the serious international security problems it has caused in the Middle East, and for other purposes." Former Army Commander General Michel Aoun participated in Wednesday's round-table discussion on the "Syrian threat," in which he called Syria the "arsonist and firefighter" which creates instability in Lebanon. "It is naive to think that the Syrian regime will dismantle the terrorist organizations it created or that Syria will genuinely support the 'war on terrorism,'" Aoun said. The bill was reintroduced in the House in April 2003 and is currently with the House Committee on International Relations, headed by Republican Representative Ileana Ros Lehtinen. It has garnered the support of 264 representatives out of a total of 435 in the House and received the backing of 73 out of 100 senators when it was introduced in the Senate in May 2003. Its House sponsor, Democrat Eliot Engel, believes it has a good chance of being passed this time round as it is supported by the majority of members of Congress in both parties. Engel also said that the White House will not be taking a position against the bill. "This act represents a long overdue effort to hold Syria accountable Š by toughening economic and other sanctions," Ros-Lehtinen said. Representative Gary Ackerman said the US government's attempts to engage with Syria have not generated any results. "We have come to a point where there can be no substitute for action," he said during Tuesday's hearing. Ackerman claimed that "there was credible evidence" that "terrorists" were moving from Syria to Iraq to "undermine our relief and construction efforts in Iraq." He also held Syria responsible for the escalating tension along the Israeli-Lebanese border as well as undermining US "efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through its ongoing aid and support for Hizbullah." Quoting US President George W. Bush, Ackerman said: "Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists Š Syria is with the terrorists. They have made that clear." Representative Engel pushed the notion that although Syria ostensibly entered Lebanon as a stabilizing force, it proved to be "an occupation force." Bolton also reiterated the administration's support for restoring Lebanon's sovereignty and a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. Engel questioned why the US has kept normal and full diplomatic relations with Syria, as it has been on the State Department's terrorist list since 1979. "I think it's time to stop this charade," he said. Bolton said that since the 1970s, Syria has pursued "what is now the most advanced Arab state chemical weapons capabilities." Ros-Lehtinen said that foreign investment in Syria has allowed Damascus to develop weapons of mass destruction. She said Syria was providing "terrorist groups such as Hizbullah" with arms. http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/homenews/homenews7.htm * FATE OF HUNDREDS OF IRAQ WAR REFUGEES REMAINS UNKNOWN by Hala Boncompagni Jordan Times, 24th September AMMAN (Agence France-Presse): Nearly six months after the end of the US-led war on Iraq, the fate of over 1,700 people that fled the conflict to Jordan remains unknown and the subject of negotiations between the government and the UN refugee agency. With winter approaching, both sides have expressed frustration at the pace of efforts to solve the refugee problem, with Jordan insisting it cannot offer haven and the UNHCR struggling to find new homes. "Before the war started, we in Jordan made it very clear that the position on receiving refugees was on a temporary basis," Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shaher Bak told AFP. "But months have passed and we don't see any efforts on the part of the UNHCR to try to relocate the refugees back to where they came from." "On the contrary, we see a sort of nice talk and a concentration on the situation of security in Iraq and that's it. But this is not enough," he added. Before US-led forces invaded Iraq in March, Jordan established a transit camp outside the town of Ruweished for those that had residency in third countries or a guarantee they would be repatriated by their home governments. A second camp was set up in the no-man's-land between the two countries for those not meeting these conditions. The Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation (JHCO), in cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, provides the group humanitarian assistance, including food and medical aid. An estimated 573 are residing in the Ruweished camps ‹ including 160 Sudanese and Somalis. A group of 1,200 others ‹ mostly Iranian Kurds from Al Tash camp in Iraq ‹ remain stranded in no-man's-land, camp directors said. "The government has expressed an interest [in seeing Ruweished camp closed], thinking that the problem of refugees has been resolved and that it has fulfilled its humanitarian commitment, with those left to be transferred to the border area," UNHCR Representative Sten Brunee said. "I told the government that this is a premature solution and that others must be found outside Jordan," he said, adding that the UN agency was looking into a "multifaceted" approach. Solutions being discussed by the two parties include the return of refugees to Iraq, to their home countries or to a third willing to give them asylum. "But none seem to want to return to Iraq because the situation is as bad as it could be," Brunee told AFP. Of particular concern is the fate of some 1,000 Iranian Kurds that lived for over 20 years in Al Tash inside Iraq and are now stuck in the no- man's-land camp. "Iran has made its position clear that these are not Iranians but Kurds. Therefore, the problem is in Iraq and must be solved there," said Bak. UNHCR is also working to resettle 160 Sudanese and Somali nationals currently stuck in Ruweished, after half of them have were recognised as refugees, while the other half refused to return to their home countries. "This situation is not acceptable and cannot continue forever," said Bak. "Winter is coming and there is a problem of water which is carried by trucks to the camps. But the (Jordanian) people in the area complain that it is being taken from their rations," Bak pointed out. He said Jordan wanted to see "concrete efforts" made to return the refugees to their homes but the government pledged it would never turn them away by force. "We prefer not to reach that stage. I hope that we never reach that stage," said Bak. "We respect human rights. We care about the security of every individual but ... we have enough refugees in Jordan. We cannot take foreigners anymore. We cannot afford it economically," he added. "I understand people saying they don't want to go back to Iraq for security issues ... but they have to understand that we cannot take them in. The idea to allow them into Jordan like we did in 1991 is not there," he continued. Jordan allowed in over one million people during the 1991 Gulf War. The Kingdom currently hosts over 300,000 Iraqis, as well as 1.7 million Palestinian refugees. Hundreds of refugees have transited through Jordan during the most recent conflict and the government in late August allowed some 400 Palestinians stuck in the consolidated Ruweished camp to enter for humanitarian reasons. But that decision was limited to Jordanian women married to Palestinian men and their children. http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/news/news6.htm * TURKISH OPPOSITION SLAMS US LOAN LINKED TO IRAQ Jordan Times, 24th September ANKARA (AFP) ‹ Turkey's main opposition party on Tuesday accused the government of "mortgaging" its foreign policy after Washington offered Ankara a multibillion dollar loan in exchange for cooperating on Iraq. Oguz Oyan, the leader of the opposition People's Republican Party in parliament, was speaking after US Treasury Secretary John Snow on Monday announced an $8.5-billion (7.4 billion euros) loan to Turkey. "With this agreement, Turkey's foreign policy has been mortgaged and handcuffed," said Oyan. "Any self-respecting foreign policy should separate financial compensation from political issues." Washington has been pressing hard for Ankara to send troops to Iraq, but the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has so far refrained from taking a decision due to strong objections at home. Both Ankara and Washington have stressed the loan is intended to compensate Turkey for the economic damage done by the war in neighbouring Iraq and does not depend on a future Turkish military contribution there. Snow said on Monday in Dubai that the credit would only be paid out if Turkey was judged ‹ by the US State Department and the Pentagon ‹ to have "cooperated" over Iraq. "When have we ever seen a loan subjected to the approval of military authorities?" said Emi Serin, a deputy who recently defected from Erdogan's Justice and Development Party. "Of course there's a link between the loan and the deployment of troops to Iraq," he said, describing the loan as "the price of blood." Many Turkish newspapers on Tuesday drew the same conclusions as the opposition over the loan announcement. "The money's arrived, the soldiers can go," declared the daily Vatan newspaper, while the Sabah said "the loan bears the hallmarks of the Pentagon." Erdogan's government has already said it is in favour of sending some 10,000 soldiers to Iraq to help restore stability to its neighbour. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has said parliament will be asked to vote on the deployment in mid-October. Press reports suggest a Turkish contingent would be deployed to an area to the west of Baghdad, running from the town of Tikrit to the Jordanian border. Some commentators say the government is likely to ask parliament to approve the deployment in principle ‹ leaving the timing and the details to its discretion. 'INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY' http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/news/news14.htm * NEARLY HALF OF IRAQIS REMAIN POOR, MALNOURISHED, UN SAYS Jordan Times, 24th September ROME (AFP) ‹ Millions of Iraqis remain poor and hungry despite a better cereal harvest and the lifting of economic sanctions, the main United Nations food agencies said Tuesday. Nearly half of the 26.3 million Iraqis are estimated to be poor and in need of assistance, according to a joint report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Programme. About six out 10 Iraqis are unemployed and depend largely on public food rations. While starvation has been averted, chronic malnutrition persists among several million vulnerable people, including some 100,000 refugees and around 200,000 internally displaced people, the report said. It said the effects of war, the sanctions and three years of severe drought from 1999 to 2001 had seriously eroded the Iraqis' means of making a living. The situation is uneven across the country. That of mothers and children in central and southern Iraq is of particular concern, the report said, while in thenorthern governorates, acute malnutrition has been virtually eliminated. The report forecast a cereal production of 4.12 million tonnes, 22 per cent higherthan estimated figure for 2002 because of favourable rains in the North and increased irrigation and use of chemicals. Nevertheless, the country will need to import 3.44 million tonnes of cereals from summer 2003 to summer 2004. The report said the Iraqi war had not affected winter cereal crops but had disrupted the sowing of summer cereal, cotton and sunflower crops. But the conflict had seriously affected Iraq's capacity to produce the 600,000 tons of fertiliser it will need for cereals alone next year. Two fertiliser plants were reported out of action. The UN agencies said water shortages and lack of sanitation remain serious problems, with Baghdad residents receiving a maximum of 70 litres a day and the inhabitants of other cities in the south even less. The report said millions of Iraqis have no access to food other than through public food assistance, which is financed through the UN oil-for-food-programme. This assistance would have to be continued for some time because the agriculture will need a long time to be rehabilitated. Nevertheless, said the report said, subsidies on food need to be gradually withdrawn. According to the World Food Programme, about 3.5 million Iraqis ‹ including malnourished children and nursing and expectant mothers ‹ will need supplementary food at a cost of $51 million in 2004. * UN AWARDS $315 MILLION IN GULF WAR CLAIMS RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 39, 21 September 2003 The United Nations Compensation Commission on 18 September awarded $315 million to victims of the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and subsequent Gulf War, the UN News Center reported on the same day. The commission was established in 1991 through UN Security Council Resolutions 692 and 705 and funded by up to 30 percent of the proceeds from the Iraqi export of petroleum and petroleum products through the oil-for-food program. UN Security Council Resolution 1483 (2003) decided to phase out that program this coming November but has mandated that 5 percent of Iraq's oil proceeds should still go to the compensation fund. To date, the commission has paid out some $17.8 billion to individuals, corporations, and governments with claims stemming from the Iraqi occupation and war. According to the UN News Center, over 2.6 million claims with a total asserted value of $350 billion have been filed with the commission. The commission's last pay out totaled $190 million (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 17 July 2003). The commission will reconvene in December. (Kathleen Ridolfo) http://www.iht.com/articles/110744.html * TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT JACQUES CHIRAC International Herald Tribune, from New York Times, 22nd September A: Let me come back to this process. So in our opinion that's what will calm things down and get us back on the road to stability in Iraq. How can this be done? Right now, we must show the way, that is, the transfer of sovereignty. This should be done through discussions at the U.N., which will take responsibility for transferring sovereignty. Q: From the occupying authority to Iraq? A: The transfer of sovereignty to Iraq. Now, what is Iraq? It is its currently existing bodies, that is, the Council of Ministers and the current Governing Council. Yes, because they do exist. Once that decision is made, we must then proceed concretely with its implementation, that is to say the transfer of responsibility, which will take a little time. Q: The current government? A: Yes, of course, because there is one. Once the decision is taken, we must then move concretely towards implementation in other words the transfer of responsibility. Obviously that will take time. Q: Sovereignty first and then responsibility? A: Sovereignty is a question of principle. We must tell the Iraqis: you are a sovereign people. And you are in charge of your own future. Q: As soon as possible? A: Right now. But it naturally, concretely, it is hard to imagine that they have the means to do all this right now. So the transfer of responsibility related to the principle of sovereignty must be carried out little by little. For me this means, I don't know, six months, nine months, something along those lines. And meanwhile, of course, we must provide Iraq with the aid it needs financial (and this is the objective of the donors' conference which will be held soon), technical aid and security related aid. I think that security aid should be provided by the U.N., and managed by the United States since it is making the largest contribution in terms of troops. Naturally, little by little, when the situation permits, responsibility will be transferred to an Iraqi army and police force, which must also be trained. With regard to the training of the army and the police, all countries with particular skills in this area should participate. In such a context, France is ready to join in the training effort, as is Germany, with whom we discussed this yesterday in Berlin, and Russia probably as well. Q: Would you train Iraqi police here in France? A: We are ready to study every possibility in France and elsewhere. We do not have any detailed solutions, but we are prepared to help with training. We are thinking specifically in this respect of setting up training programs for the Iraqi army and police. It is something we are considering in close coordination with Germany. As I said, we discussed this yesterday. The kind of training we envision could take various forms, which would depend on the resolution itself. Naturally, we will examine this resolution very concretely and in a positive spirit. And as soon as there is a transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis, as soon as that principle is clearly reaffirmed and there is thus a political approach to the current problem of Iraq, to the future of Iraq, thenas we are doing in Afghanistan, and in appropriate formats that will have to be discussed with everyonewe could strongly commit ourselves to the reconstruction of Iraq's military capabilities and the training of Iraq's military officers and police.What I propose resembles to some degree what we're doing in Afghanistan. I'm not inventing anything extraordinary, as I have read somewhere, simply to annoy the United States. That is extraordinary. Q:That is not your purpose? A: I know, but I've read this somewhere. Of course it isn't my aim. . My contribution is based on my thinking and my knowledge of things, which is what it is. It is no better than anyone else's, but it's mine. I try to contribute what I can towards a good solution. That is what is happening in Afghanistan. Let me remind you that President (Hamid) Karzai is the custodian of the Afghan people's sovereignty. Sovereignty was transferred to the Afghan people immediately. The UN is playing a key role in Afghanistan, notably through its special representative, (Lakhdar) Brahimi. Operation Enduring Freedom and NATO, under a mandate from the UN, are responsible for security. A long-range political vision has been laid out and should lead to elections in 2004. I'm not saying that things are very easy in AfghanistanŠ Q: No that is what I was going to say. There are many problems in Afghanistan. A: Yes, of course, but it is a difficult region with people who aren't easy to deal with either. We are seeing the re-emergence of a certain number of the Taliban. In any case, there is a process in place to which the majority of responsible people in Afghanistan consent. Q: Mr. President, if the principle of the immediate transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people is not included in the resolution, will France oppose the resolution? A: That is not at all my intent. We don't have the intention to oppose. If we oppose it, that would mean voting no, that is to say, to use the veto. I am not in that mindset at all. The resolution would have to be a provocation and that is not what we are talking about at the moment. We shall see, and we shall discuss things. We can either abstain or vote yes. To vote yes, we need a clear long-range political vision and a key role for the U.N. We think this is the only way to achieve peace and it is in the interests of the United States. A clear long range political vision is one that sets out first, a precise deadline for the transfer of sovereignty, and second, a timetable for transferring responsibility, and a key role for the U.N. which seems to me essential. Q: When you speak of transferring sovereignty, does this mean a symbolic transfer, since in Iraq there is no loya jirga, no way to crown an Iraqi Karzai. So what does it mean for you, when you talk about a transfer? A: Today, sovereignty is in the hands of Mr. (L. Paul) Bremer, the United States governor. This is a fact. I believe this is a very difficult situation for any people to accept in the 21st century, especially an ancient people, with a rich culture, great traditions and a long history, whose religion is different than that of the occupying forces, to call them by their rightful name. And it is very difficult to accept.. So I think that the most important thing to do, and it is up to the international community and the U.N. to decide, is to say to the Iraqi people: "We will transfer your sovereignty to you."It is up to the international community to tell them. It is up to the U.N. to make that decision. Then we will see how, but that's the principle. No more foreign sovereignty.Naturally, that presumes a certain number of things. It presumes, as I said before, that sovereignty will be transferred to a governmental body that already exists. It is what it is. It may not be ideal, but it exists. Sovereignty must be transferred to that body. That is the principle. From then on, the Iraqis will be sovereign. They will be free to choose their own destiny. Psychologically and politically, it's essential. Q: And these 25 people have no leader at the moment. A: I believe this doesn't matter. It is extremely important to say to the Iraqis: "You are responsible for your own country. Now you may not be able to take responsibility right now, but we are going to help you, and you are responsible. It is you who decide, politically, administratively and economically." From then on, we must transfer responsibility as I have already said, in as short a timeframe as possible. But you need the time to do this in economic, cultural, political, administrative and military areas among others. And at the same time, of course, we must initiate a process to solidify the organs of sovereignty, in other words, preparations must be made for a constitution and elections. The constitution as you know can be drafted very, very quickly; since the Iraqis have plenty of highly qualified jurists who are eminent citizens and who also know their culture and their people well. In fact, they already had a constitution in the past. So if we give them the responsibility of writing a constitution, they will be able to do it very rapidly. It is not our job to draw up a constitution for Iraq. In the name of what, and on the basis of what knowledge of the country and its culture could we do this? So drafting a constitution is something that is up to the Iraqis and is very easy to do. Then elections must be prepared. They should be held as soon as possible to create rather as we did in Afghanistan a loya jirga or its equivalent, that is, an assembly that can adopt, or amend and then adopt, the constitution and initiate a process of concrete sovereignty. Q: The United States government says that France wants to go too quickly. This will lead to chaos. There are Shiites and Sunnis and Kurds and a country that has been under a dictator for 30 years and there is no democratic tradition and France insists on going quickly and the result will be a disaster. A: History will show who is right. I want you to understand that I'm not saying 'white' because the Americans say 'black.' On the contrary, I'm simply giving my view of how things are. One, it is a complicated business, two it is a dangerous business, and is becoming more dangerous by the day. Three, we must try and get out of it. It is my conviction that the current system-- let's be clear, I mean a system of occupation-- will not allow us to find a solution to this situation. It will generate more and more reaction against this system, which will grow even more complicated, as you say, due to the difficulties hat already exist among the Shiites, Kurds, Sunnis and so on. All of this is true, but I do not see any other way out. I only see the probablity of the situation getting worse. We shall have to find something else. With an ancient people, if we start by saying we respect you, we can change something. I know quite a few Iraqis who were not at all pro-Saddam but who do not accept the situation today, who want to be respected, and who tell us, "We already had a rich culture when you were still living in the trees." Q: Was it a mistake to overthrow Saddam? A: No, absolutely not. I did not approve of the way he was overthrown. I felt it could have happened in another way. Q: Without a war? A: I think he could have been overthrown without a war. I think that political pressure would have led to Saddam's disappearance. But here too we can't rewrite history. I may be mistaken, but everyone has his own opinion. But I believe that war is always the worst solution; it usually causes so many deaths, and it is not good to kill people when it is not absolutely necessary. I think that war is always the worst solution. So yes, I believe it could have been avoided and said so at the time, but I didn't do it to annoy anyone, as people have commented here and there. I said it because I believe it was the wisest course of action. [.....] Q: At the time of the attacks of 9-11, Le Monde declared "we are all Americans." Since then, there has been a wave of anti-Americanism and hostility towards the United States throughout the world. What do you think of this phenomenon? Is it inevitable for such a dominant power as the United States today? Or is it due to the errors made by the U.S.? A: There certainly is a wave of hostility, but I wouldn't say it is anti-American, because it is increasingly against the West in general. That is the difference. It is a worrying development, because it is growing and could lead to a significant increase in terrorism.Why is that? You know that when people get angry, there is always a responsibility somewhere, generally a shared responsibility. I believe that the Western world is demonstrating a selfishness that borders on irresponsibility, with our inability to humanize globalization, to provide for people who are in need, which is necessary. We regularly make grand declarations about the Millennium etc. but in fact there is not much real solidarity. We have a system in which, well, I wouldn't say the poor are growing poorer, because it's not true, except for a number of African countries, but that globally things are stagnating. We are in a cycle in which rich countries are becoming richer and so the gap between rich and poor is growing wider. This is not acceptable for any given country and it is not acceptable for the world as a whole. Western nations have an image today of mobilizing everything to serve their own interests. Look at (the meeting of the World Trade Organization) in Cancun. It was a mistake. And who was the main victim of Cancun? The poor countries. They are the victims of Cancun, not the Americans or the Europeans, but the poor countries. And this has created a global reaction from poor and emerging countries, which in the end goes against their interests. And we are responsible for this. [.....] http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1048540,00.html * UN LOSES PATIENCE WITH THE AMERICAN WAY by Gary Younge in New York The Guardian, 24th September Old transatlantic wounds within the United Nations security council were reopened yesterday, as France condemned American unilateralism and demanded a rapid transition to democracy and the United States defended the war and insisted the move to Iraqi sovereignty would not be rushed. On the face of it their positions seem to have hardened. "In an open world, no one can isolate themselves, no one can act alone in the name of all, and no one can accept the anarchy of a society without rules," said the French president, Jacques Chirac, in one of his most explicit attacks to date. "There is no alternative to the United Nations." Meanwhile the US president, George Bush, insisted it had been right to fight the war, even raising the issue of weapons of mass of destruction and linking the former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, to terrorism. "The regime of Saddam Hussein cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction. It used those weapons in acts of mass murder, and refused to account for them when confronted by the world," he said. But behind the rhetoric the battle lines were being drawn. The French were making it clear who was to blame for the mayhem in Iraq. The Americans wanted everyone to know that while they had returned to the UN for help, this was not an admission of guilt. America has clearly lost the sympathy of an important mediator, the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan. Abandoning his usual bridge-building and fence-sitting language, he delivered a clear critique of preventive action as outlined and practised by the Bush administration, warning that it could lead to "lawlessness" and threaten "stability". Mr Annan said the UN charter allows military action for the purpose of self-defence, but "until now it has been understood that when states go beyond that and decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, they need the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations. "Now some say this understanding is no longer tenable since an 'armed attack' with weapons of mass destruction could be launched at any time. "This logic represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for the last 58 years." The French have made it clear they have no intention of vetoing the forthcoming resolution. But along with many other security council members, they have argued that if there is to be a multilateral force there must be shared responsibility for decision-making and a greater role for the United Nations. Mr Bush gave a nod in that direction, insisting America was keen to "expand the UN's role in Iraq. As in the aftermath of other conflicts, the United Nations should assist in developing a constitution, training civil servants and conducting free and fair elections." At this stage, this does not appear to be enough for most members of the security council. And central to the debate is the issue of a timetable for the handover of power from the occupation forces to a sovereign Iraqi government. "This process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis, neither hurried nor delayed by the voices of other parties," Mr Bush said, giving a diplomatic jab to both the French and the Germans. Both Mr Chirac and his German counterpart, Gerhard Schröder, believe that the move to Iraqi sovereignty is crucial to restoring security in the country. "In Iraq, the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis, who must have sole responsibility for their future, is essential for stability and reconstruction," Mr Chirac said. Both he and Mr Schröder have said they would like to see the transition take place within months. In all this there is little doubt about who has most to lose. Since Mr Bush's televised address in which he announced that the bill for rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan would be $87bn, his approval ratings have been in freefall. So long as the number of casualties in Iraq keeps rising and the economy remains stagnant there is little of hope of him rebounding. More contrition before the international community might have eased the way to a favourable resolution. It would also have amounted to an admission of failure for the foreign policy decision most likely to define his presidency. "The regime of Saddam Hussein cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction. It used those weapons in acts of mass murder, and refused to account for them when confronted. The security council was right to vow serious consequences if Iraq refused to comply. And because there were consequences, because a coalition acted to defend the peace, and the credibility of the UN, Iraq is free, and today we are joined by representatives of a liberated country ... I recognise that some of the sovereign nations of this assembly disagreed with our actions. Yet there was, and there remains, unity among us on the fundamental principles and objectives of the UN. We are dedicated to the defence of our collective security, and to the advance of human rights. These commitments call us to great work in the world, work we must do together. The primary goal of our coalition in Iraq is self-government, reached by orderly and democratic means. This process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis, neither hurried nor delayed by the wishes of other parties. And the UN can contribute greatly to Iraqi self government. America is working with friends and allies on a new security council resolution, which will expand the UN's role in Iraq. The UN should assist in developing a constitution, training civil servants, and conducting free and fair elections. Iraq's new leaders are showing the openness and tolerance that democracy requires, and the courage. Yet every young democracy needs the help of friends. Now Iraq needs and deserves our aid, and all nations of goodwill should step forward." Annan: 'This is a decisive moment' "We have come to a fork in the road. This may be a moment no less decisive than 1945 itself, when the United Nations was founded. At that time, a group of far-sighted leaders, led and inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt ... drew up rules to govern international behaviour and founded a network of institutions with the United Nations at its centre, in which the peoples of the world could work together for the common good. Now we must decide whether it is possible to continue on the basis agreed then or whether radical changes are needed. Until now it has been understood that when states decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, they need the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations. Now, some say this understanding is no longer ten able, since an armed attack with weapons of mass destruction could be launched at any time, without warning, or by a clandestine group. Rather than wait for that to happen, they argue, states have the obligation to use force pre-emptively, even on the territory of other states. This logic represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which world peace and stability have rested for the last 58 years. But it is not enough to denounce unilateralism, unless we also face up squarely to the concerns that make some states feel uniquely vulnerable, and thus drive them to take unilateral action. We must show that those concerns can, and will, be addressed effectively through collective action. History is a harsh judge - it will not forgive us if we let this moment pass." Chirac: 'There is no alternative to the UN' "The United Nations has just weathered one of its most serious trials in its history ... The war, which was started without the authorisation of the security council, has shaken the multilateral system ... There is no alternative to the United Nations. But in order to meet today's challenges, this funda mental choice expressed by the charter requires a far-reaching reform of our organisation ... Multilateralism is crucial because it ensures the participation by all in managing the affairs of the world ... In Iraq, the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis, who must have sole responsibility for their destiny, is essential for stability and reconstruction ... It is up to the United Nations to lend its legitimacy to that process ... It is also up to the UN to assist with the gradual transfer of administrative and economic responsibilities to the Iraqi institutions ... We are using force to combat terrorism, but that is not enough. It will re-emerge again and again if we allow extremism and fanaticism to flourish, if we fail to realise that it seeks justification in unresolved conflicts and economic and social imbalances in the world ... Given the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, we reject the policy of fait accompli. The United Nations suffers from the current weakness of the general assembly and yet it is here a debate should be organised and where a consensus should be crafted regarding solutions to major problems. A culture of confrontation must give way to a culture of action, aimed at achieving our common goals." http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/news/news8.htm * COURT THROWS OUT LAWSUIT AGAINST US IRAQ COMMANDER Jordan Times, 24th September BRUSSELS (AFP) ‹ The Belgian court of appeal on Tuesday threw out a war crimes lawsuit brought under a controversial law against retired US general Tommy Franks, who commanded the US-led war on Iraq, a lawyer said. The case was brought under the "universal competence" law, which originally allowed Belgian courts to rule on crimes against humanity regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator or where the crimes took place. Faced with pressure, notably from Washington, the Belgian government agreed this year to scrap the law and in August parliament approved a new, watered-down version. "The court ruled that it must apply the new law," lawyer Jan Fermon told AFP. Fernon, who represented plaintiffs in the case, said he had not ruled out taking the case to Belgium's supreme court, the Cour de Cassation. The lawsuit against General Franks was filed in May by 17 Iraqis and two Jordanians over the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas of Iraq. The Belgian government ordered that the case against Franks be handled in the United States, on the basis of an amendment to the universal competence law that was passed in April, and the case was then dropped. But a lawyer for the plaintiffs contested that decision earlier in September, saying it violated the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers. The controversial 1993 law allowed Belgian courts to rule on crimes against humanitary regardless of where they were committed or the nationality of the alleged perpetrators. It drew fierce attack from Washington, which in June warned that application of law could threaten Brussels' role as host to international organisations like NATO. In a separate case the Cour de Cassation is due to rule on Wednesday on three suits brought under transitory measures that were approved while the universal competence law was being modified. These measures require Belgium's highest court to halt all cases brought under the law, except for those involving plaintiffs who are Belgian nationals. Two of the suits target Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ‹ although he has immunity while he remains a head of government ‹ and Israeli General Amos Yaron over massacres in 1982 of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon. The third case targets US leaders at the time of the 1991 Gulf War, including former President George Bush and current US Secretary of State Colin Powell. BURIAL OF THE PRETEXT http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/s948452.htm * BUSH CLARIFIES POSITION ON SADDAM'S TERROR LINKS ABC, 17th September US President George W Bush has clarified his administration's position on links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, amid American confusion over the issue. In a recent justification of the war on Iraq, Vice-President Dick Cheney emphasised relationships between Saddam Hussein and militant Islamic groups. However a recent opinion poll in the United States found that 70 per cent of those polled believe that Saddam Hussein himself was involved in the September 11 attacks. Under questioning today, Mr Bush says that has not been proven. "We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in September the 11th," he said. "What the Vice President said is that he has been involved with Al Qaeda." Mr Bush went on to say that he had no doubt that Saddam Hussein had links with Al Qaeda affiliated groups in Iraq, such as Ansar al-Islam. Critics of the Bush administration have accused it of deliberately encouraging public confusion over the issue. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3118462.stm * BLIX CRITICISES UK'S IRAQ DOSSIER BBC, 18th September Former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix accused the British Government of using spin in its controversial dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Dr Blix criticised the "culture of spin, of hyping" and told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he hoped governments would be more cautious in the future use of special intelligence. He compared the way Britain and America were sure Iraq had weapons of mass destruction programmes to the way people in the Middle Ages were convinced witches existed and so found them when they looked. In response, the British Foreign Office said Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction was a matter of fact and the search for them would continue. Dr Blix's comments come amid the Hutton inquiry into the death of British government scientist Dr David Kelly, who apparently killed himself after he was named as the source for a BBC story that the government "sexed up" the dossier. Dr Blix said: "The UK paper that came out in September last year with the famous words about the 45 minutes - when you read the text exactly I get the impression it wants to convey to the reader and lead the reader to conclusions that are a little further reaching than the text needs to mean. "One can read it restrictively but one can also lead to far-reaching conclusions and I think many people did." Witch comparison Dr Blix argued that exaggeration, spin and hype damaged government credibility. "We know that the advertisers will advertise a refrigerator in terms they do not quite believe in but you expect governments to be more serious and have more credibility," he said. Dr Blix said he understood that information had to be simplified but people still expected it to be reliable. He accused the British and American governments of "over-interpreting" intelligence. "They were convinced that Saddam was going in this direction and I think it is understandable against the background of the man," he said. "But in the Middle Ages people were convinced there were witches. They looked for them and they certainly found them. "This is a bit risky. I think we were more judicious, saying we want to have real evidence." Patience concerns Dr Blix said the coalition could have waited and continued with UN inspections for a few more months, but they did not have the patience to do so. Now though, he said, US and British inspectors were free to go anywhere in Iraq, but were calling for the patience for themselves which they had failed to give to the UN. Dr Blix had previously criticised Prime Minister Tony Blair for making a "fundamental mistake" in claiming that Saddam Hussein could deploy weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes. And his latest comments come a day after he said Iraq probably destroyed all of its weapons of mass destruction more than a decade ago. Search continues Responding to Dr Blix's criticisms, a Foreign Office spokesman said: "Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction is a matter of fact. "Successive UN Security Council resolutions concluded not only that he had them but also had used them against his own people. Dr Blix's own 173 page report set out in great detail Saddam's history of obstruction of the UN inspectors. "The process of searching for weapons of mass destruction is continuing. It will be thorough and deliberate, despite the difficult security environment." The spokesman stressed that Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee had concluded there was convincing intelligence that Iraq had active chemical, biological and nuclear programmes and the capability to produce chemical and biological weapons, as well as continuing to develop ballistic weapons. Legal questions Conservative shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram said a judicial inquiry into the run up to the Iraq, not just into the circumstances of Dr Kelly's death, was now urgently needed. "Dr Blix's comments raise serious questions to which the government must now respond," said Mr Ancram. Liberal Democrat MP Menzies Campbell said Dr Blix's remarks reinforced the need for the UK Government to publish the full legal advice it received on the eve-of-war. "Dr Blix's careful academic analysis has dealt yet another damaging blow to the British government's case for war," said Mr Campbell. NO URL * KENNEDY SAYS CASE FOR IRAQ WAR WAS FRAUD by STEVE LeBLANC, Associated Press Writer Yahoo, 18th September BOSTON - The case for going to war against Iraq was a fraud "made up in Texas" to give Republicans a political boost, Sen. Edward Kennedy said Thursday. In an interview with The Associated Press, Kennedy also said the Bush administration has failed to account for nearly half of the $4 billion the war is costing each month. He said he believes much of the unaccounted-for money is being used to bribe foreign leaders to send in troops. He called the Bush administration's current Iraq policy "adrift." The Massachusetts Democrat expressed doubts about how serious a threat Saddam Hussein posed to the United States in its battle against terrorism. He said administration officials relied on "distortion, misrepresentation, a selection of intelligence" to justify their case for war. "There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud," Kennedy said. Kennedy said a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office showed that only about $2.5 billion of the $4 billion being spent monthly on the war can be accounted for by the Bush administration. "My belief is this money is being shuffled all around to these political leaders in all parts of the world, bribing them to send in troops," he said. Of the $87 billion in new money requested by President Bush for the war, Kennedy said the administration should be required to report back to the Congress to account for the spending. "We want to support our troops because they didn't make the decision to go there ... but I don't think it should be open-ended. We ought to have a benchmark where the administration has to come back and give us a report," he added. Kennedy said the focus on Iraq has drawn the nation's attention away from more direct threats, including al-Qaida, instability in Afghanistan or the nuclear ambitions of North Korea. "I think all of those pose a threat to the security of the people of Massachusetts much more than the threat from Iraq," Kennedy said. "Terror has been put on the sidelines for the last 12 months." NO URL * NO EVIDENCE OF SMALLPOX FOUND IN IRAQ by DAFNA LINZER, Associated Press Writer Yahoo, 18th September Top American scientists assigned to the weapons hunt in Iraq found no evidence Saddam Hussein's regime was making or stockpiling smallpox, The Associated Press has learned from senior military officers involved in the search. Smallpox fears were part of the case the Bush administration used to build support for invading Iraq ‹ and they were raised again as recently as last weekend by Vice President Dick Cheney. But a three-month search by "Team Pox" turned up only signs to the contrary: disabled equipment that had been rendered harmless by U.N. inspectors, Iraqi scientists deemed credible who gave no indication they had worked with smallpox and a laboratory thought to be back in use that was covered in cobwebs. Fears that smallpox could be used as a weapon led the Bush administration to launch a vaccination campaign for some 500,000 U.S. military personnel after the Sept. 11 attacks, and to order enough vaccine to inoculate the entire U.S. population if necessary. President Bush also was vaccinated against the disease, which kills about a third of its victims. The negative smallpox findings reported to U.S. intelligence agencies come nearly six months after the administration went to war to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction that Saddam long denied having and the military hasn't been able to find. Smallpox was declared eradicated worldwide in 1980. All samples of the virus were to have been destroyed except those held by special labs in Atlanta and Russia, but some experts fear Russian samples could have gotten into the hands of hostile nations. Two of the six members of Team Pox ‹ whose existence and work hasn't been previously disclosed ‹ have left Iraq while the rest remain involved in other aspects of the weapons hunt, said the officers who described the smallpox pursuit for the first time. Though Team Pox is no longer operational, having carried out their work between May and July, their findings don't dismiss the possibility that smallpox could still be discovered, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. However, there remains little to pursue in this area now. "We found no physical or new anecdotal evidence to suggest Iraq was producing smallpox or had stocks of it in its possession," one of the military officers said. When Team Pox searched key locations in Iraq, such as the defunct Darwah foot-and-mouth disease center, they found the facility in the same condition U.N. inspectors left it in seven years ago. In 1996, inspectors destroyed one fermenter, a storage tank and an inactivation tank at Darwah and poured concrete into the air conditioners while other equipment, including filter pressers and centrifuges were tagged for monitoring purposes. The smallpox team found cobwebs covering much of the inside, although a CIA National Intelligence Estimate said the Iraqis were refurbishing the facility. U.S. satellite images had spotted trucks pulling up in the past year ‹ an indication of renewed activity, the team was told. But investigations on the ground revealed the trucks belonged to black marketeers stealing scrap metal and other parts around the site. In the run-up to the war, the CIA said chances were even that smallpox was part of an Iraqi biological weapons program, according to the National Intelligence Estimate. Bush administration officials often cited smallpox when describing Saddam's intentions ‹ and continue to do so despite the lack of evidence. On Sunday, Cheney said two trailers discovered in Iraq could have been used to make smallpox. The vice president referred to the trailers as "mobile biological facilities" ‹ a characterization that has been disputed by intelligence analysts within two U.S. government agencies that believe the trailers were used to fill weather balloons. Secretary of State Colin Powell, making the U.S. case for war last February at the United Nations, said Saddam "has the wherewithal to develop smallpox." Despite those suspicions, Pentagon planners didn't organize a specific search for smallpox when they put together a post-Saddam weapons hunt comprising hundreds of military personnel with expertise in missiles as well as chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. "There was some discussion about creating specialized teams but we didn't have enough people," said Lt. Col. Michael Slifka, who planned the weapons hunt for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The original search teams, which disbanded when a Pentagon-led effort known as the Iraq Survey Group took over in August, comprised military officers trained in detecting chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Those teams didn't have an investigative capability and didn't include experts in specific areas such as smallpox. Surprised by the configuration, a handful of American biologists and virologists sent to Kuwait and then Baghdad with little instruction except to help, set up Team Pox on their own. The team ‹ which included two specialists who worked previously as U.N. inspectors in the 1990s ‹ wrapped up their work midsummer mostly out of frustration with the Iraq Survey Group. Those involved described missed opportunities caused by bureaucratic obstacles hampering the search effort. In several instances, the team couldn't follow up tips because of transportation problems. The violence plaguing Iraq means such teams can operate only under military guidelines and travel only with military escort. So their mobility is dictated by the military's schedule and availability to move from them from one location to another. Some Iraqi scientists interviewed clearly had the know-how and expertise to produce smallpox, honed through years of work with similar viruses. But none of the Iraqi scientists ‹ many questioned at their offices at Iraqi universities ‹ said they had done work on smallpox or other viruses that could be used in biological weapons programs. U.N. inspectors suspected Iraq could have been working on smallpox or already had it. There was an outbreak of smallpox in the country in 1972, and Iraq admitted it had been producing the vaccine into the 1980s. "From the onset the evidence was strictly circumstantial," said Jonathan Tucker, a former U.N. inspector and the author of a recent book on smallpox. "There was a lot of smoke but not much fire there." Tests on Iraqi soldiers captured during the 1991 Gulf War found that some had been vaccinated for smallpox. And Iraq admitted to U.N. inspectors in the 1990s that its biological weapons scientists worked with camelpox, a close relative of the smallpox virus. Working with camelpox would give Iraq a way to perfect techniques for making smallpox without endangering the researchers. http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=445128 * WHITE HOUSE IS AMBUSHED BY CRITICISM FROM AMERICA'S MILITARY COMMUNITY by Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles The Independent, 20th September George Bush probably owes his presidency to the absentee military voters who nudged his tally in Florida decisively past Al Gore's. But now, with Iraq in chaos and the reasons for going to war there mired in controversy, an increasingly disgruntled military poses perhaps the gravest immediate threat to his political future, just one year before the presidential elections. >From Vietnam veterans to fresh young recruits, from seasoned officers to anxious mothers worried about their sons' safety on the streets of Baghdad and Fallujah, the military community is growing ever more vocal in its opposition to the White House. "I once believed that I served for a cause: 'To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States'. Now I no longer believe that," Tim Predmore, a member of the 101st Airborne Division serving near Mosul, wrote in a blistering opinion piece this week for his home newspaper, the Peoria Journal Star in Illinois. "I can no longer justify my service for what I believe to be half-truths and bold lies." The dissenters - many of whom have risked deep disapproval from the military establishment to voice their opinions - have set up websites with names such as Bring Them Home Now. They have cried foul at administration plans to cut veterans' benefits and scale back combat pay for troops still in Iraq. They were furious at President Bush for reacting to military deaths in Iraq with the phrase "bring 'em on". And they have given politically embarrassing prominence to such issues as the inefficiency of civilian contractors hired to provide shelter, water and food - many of them contributors to the Bush campaign coffers - and a mystery outbreak of respiratory illnesses that many soldiers, despite official denials, believe is related to the use of depleted uranium munitions. "It is time to speak out because our troops are still dying and our government is still lying," Candace Robison, a 27-year-old mother of two from Krum, Texas, and a politically active serviceman's wife, told a recent protest outside President Bush's Texas ranch. "Morale is at an all-time low and our heroes feel like they've been forgotten." How deep the anti-Bush sentiment runs is not yet clear, but there is no doubt about its breadth. Charlie Richardson, co-founder of a group called Military Families Speak Out, said: "Our supporters range from pacifists to people from long military traditions who have supported every war this country has ever fought - until this one. "Many people supported this war at the beginning because they believed the threat from weapons of mass destruction and accepted the link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa'ida ... Now they realise their beliefs were built on quicksand. They are very angry with the administration and feel they've been duped." Most of the disgruntlement expressed in the field has of necessity been anonymous, so Tim Predmore's counterblast in the Peoria Journal Star felt particularly powerful. Having been in the army for five years, he is just finishing his tour of duty in Iraq. He wrote that he now believes the Iraq war was about oil, not freedom, "an act not of justice but of hypocrisy. "We have all faced death in Iraq without reason or justification," he added. "How many more must die? How many more tears must be shed before Americans awake and demand the return of the men and women whose job it is to protect them rather than their leader's interest?" Less visible, but no less passionate, has been the ongoing voicing of grievances over the internet. A prominent military affairs specialist, David Hackworth, keeps a website filled with angry reflections on conditions in Iraq for both the military and the local civilian population, and the government that put the troops there. "Imagine this bastard getting away with such crap if we had a draftee army," runs one typically scabrous anti-Bush line from Mr Hackworth. More considered analysis is also available online, such as this reflection from a 23-year-old serving in the US Air Force, who wonders what the Iraq mess is going to do to the future of the US military: "The powers that be are destroying our military from the inside, especially our Army. "How many of these people that are 'stranded' (for lack of a better term) in Iraq are going to re-enlist? How many that haven't deployed are going to re-enlist ... how many families are going to be destroyed?" he asked. One big rallying point for the critics is the Pentagon's budget plan, which proposes cutting $1.8 billion (£1.1bn) from veterans' health benefits and reducing combat pay from the current $225 a month to $150, which is where it stood until the Iraq war began in the spring. The budget will not be finalised until later this month, and the White House - embarrassed by editorials in the Army Times and by news stories in the mainstream press throughout America - says it won't insist on the combat pay cutback. Another rallying point is the lack of official explanation for more than 100 cases of respiratory illness in the Middle East. According to the Pentagon, 19 soldiers have required mechanical ventilation and two have died. Military personnel believe the use of depleted uranium may have played a part in this mystery illness. * U.S. OFFERING IMMUNITY TO IRAQI SCIENTISTS RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 39, 21 September 2003 The U.S. is reportedly offering immunity from prosecution to mid-level Iraqi scientists who provide information about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, FT.com reported on 18 September. U.S. weapons inspectors working for the Iraq Survey Group have reportedly not uncovered any actual weapons, but administration officials say that former UN weapons inspector David Kay, who heads the group, will note in an upcoming report to the U.S. administration that Saddam Hussein's regime had the capability and the intention to develop WMD, the website reported. Kay was authorized to offer the immunity to mid level scientists to encourage them to come forward with inside information on the Iraqi programs. One U.S. official told FT.com, however, that inspectors "won't find weapons [because] that was never the issue," adding, "It's the ability to produce it once [Hussein] was free of constraints," a reference to the UN strict sanctions placed on Iraq that were credited with preventing Hussein's ability to procure materials needed to sustain his WMD programs. (Kathleen Ridolfo) http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=03/09/17/1543215 * "The Crazies Are Back": Bush Sr.'s CIA Briefer Discusses How Wolfowitz & Allies Falsely Led the U.S. To War Democracy Now, 17th September [.....] DAVID MACMICHAEL: I think one thing that has to be added about David Kaye, who is identified as a former member of UNSCOM, that is the United Nations weapons inspection team, prior to the 1998 bombing and the departure of the weapons inspectors and prior to their reinitiation under UN resolution 1441, David Kaye in fact, and this is not revealing the identity of an intelligence officer was in fact a CIA officer at that time. One of the reasons the initial inspections process broke down was because the United States and other member states of the inspections team began introducing their intelligence officers into this and in fact as it's been documented, planting listening devices in the places they were going for intelligence purposes, not for weapons inspections purposes. A second point to remember is the primary task of the intelligence officer is to recruit agents. In other words, one could reasonably assume that, using their cover as weapons inspectors, they were attempting to recruit Iraqi nationals to serve as intelligence agents. Naturally the counterintelligence of any country attempts to block this and it did serve to discredit the initial inspection process. So that is one thing that is important to remember about David Kaye's background. [.....] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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