Friday, December 01, 2006

The Grand Jury Testimony - United States v. George W. Bush et al.

Tomgram: De la Vega, A Predisposition to Invade

[Note: For those in the Santa Barbara area in California, Elizabeth de la Vega will be speaking on December 10th at a rally, one of many events being organized around the country for Human Rights (and Impeachment) Day. She'll be on stage with Ann Wright, Dennis Loo, and David Swanson (who also writes for among others. For more on this event and others that day visit Swanson's website.]

With the presentation of the first day of grand jury testimony from former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega's new book, United States v. George W. Bush et al., the case against the top officials of the Bush administration for defrauding the American people into war in Iraq comes to a provisional end at Tomdispatch. What the Bush administration did, De la Vega argued in "A Fraud Worse than Enron", Part 1 of her series at this site, was a crime, conceptually similar to the Enron case and should be treated as such. It was, in fact, nothing less than the Enronization of American foreign policy. It was also a crime for which there should be actual legal culpability and so, in part 2 of her series, she produced a hypothetical indictment for fraud against the main actors in the case, just as she had, over her career, presented numerous fraud indictments to grand juries.

Today, "FBI Special Agent Linda Campbell" begins to lay out that case for fraud by discussing the administration's "predisposition to invade Iraq." Those of you who want to read De la Vega's brilliantly argued full case against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell should promptly purchase a copy of her book either at Amazon, at the website of the independent publisher, Seven Stories Press, or at your local independent bookstore.

De la Vega's superb book, like the testimony of "FBI Special Agent Linda Campbell" below, is fiction of a high order, based on a deep knowledge of exactly what the Bush administration did to us and how they did it. What happens next is, in truth, in the hands of the same American people who were scammed by this administration. Only history will tell us the results. Tom

The Grand Jury Testimony

United States v. George W. Bush et al.
By Elizabeth de la Vega

Testimony of FBI Special Agent Linda Campbell
Assistant U.S. Attorney: Good morning everyone. We're back here in the case of United States v. George W. Bush et al. Let's start by looking at Exhibit 1 in your packets. It's a chart that lists the main points we're going to cover in the grand jury.

Ex. 1
Evolution of the Fraud

* Bush, Cheney, et al. were predisposed to invade Iraq even before they were elected.
* They secretly began to plan the invasion immediately after September 11. Bush requested an Iraq war plan in November 2001 and began escalating military activity.
* They enlisted biased political appointees to find evidence to justify a war beginning in October 2001.
* They began, without a reasonable basis, to imply that Iraq was linked to the September 11 attacks and posed an urgent threat in the fall of 2001.
* They began a massive fraud campaign in September 2002 to overcome weak public support for an invasion and manipulate Congress into passing an authorization allowing the President to use force against Iraq.
* They invaded Iraq in March 2003, knowing that their stated grounds for war were false, fraudulent, and without reasonable basis.
Today, we'll talk about the administration's predisposition to invade Iraq.

Now, why is that relevant? Remember I told you that many fraud conspiracies begin as legitimate enterprises? They evolve into criminal activity when people begin to deceive others in response to problems or obstacles to achieving their goals. So, in any fraud case we need to know what the defendants' original objectives were.

Would somebody go get our witness? Thanks. [Whereupon the witness enters the room and is sworn]

Q. Could you please tell us your full name and what you do?

A. My name is Linda Marie Campbell and I'm a Special Agent with the FBI -- have been for sixteen years.

Q. What is your current assignment?

A. I'm one of eight agents on the task force that's investigating whether the President and his senior advisers defrauded Americans about prewar intelligence. But normally my office is in Boston. Home of Tom Brady -- the Patriot -- and of course, Sam Adams -- the beer and the patriot -- with a small "p." I do fraud cases, mainly.

Q. Could you tell us about your background? Sort of a Reader's Digest version?

A. Sure. I was an Air Force brat, so we lived all over--Georgia, Germany, Hawaii--until I was about twelve, when we landed at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod. After Boston College, I started teaching English at Catholic Memorial. I was going to coach softball, go down the Cape in the summer, eat fried clams. But one day I just thought, you know, I really can't stand talking about Hester Prynne for one more minute, and it seemed as if it would be wicked cool to become an FBI agent. So I applied.

Q. Has it been wicked cool?

A. Yes and no. One thing about the FBI is that they always send you somewhere that's not where you want to be, even if no one else does want to be where you want to be. Does that make any sense? So I asked to go to Boston after Quantico . . .

Q. And where'd they send you?

A. Tulsa, Oklahoma. But only for two years, because I took a language aptitude test and, next thing I knew, I was at the Monterey Defense Language Institute, learning Russian. I worked in DC for a few years and finally got back to Boston last summer. Although, now I'm in DC again working on this case. I'm also on the Emergency Response and Disaster Recovery Team.

Not exactly condensed was it?

Q. No, but that's ok. You were, in fact, part of the team at the Pentagon after 9/11, weren't you?

A. Yes, I was. I will never forget it.

Q. Jurors, you recall that you may only consider evidence your hear from the witnesses? That means we occasionally present testimony about things people already know.

Like, in this case, September 11, 2001. What happened on that day?

A. On September 11, nineteen men hijacked four commercial airplanes -- United Flight 175 and American Airlines 11 out of Logan, United Flight 93 out of Newark, and American Airlines 77 out of Washington/Dulles. They crashed two planes into the World Trade Towers in New York and one into the Pentagon. The fourth plane, United Flight 93, crashed in Pennsylvania after the passengers stormed the cockpit. In all, nearly 3,000 people were killed. It was a nightmare.

Q. Were you working at the time?

A. I was at firearms training, but I called my supervisor and told him I'd go wherever they needed me for disaster response. By 5:00 p.m., I'm headed to DC on the Mass Pike, with my Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee. One of the four essential food groups, by the way.

Q. Did you already know who committed the attacks?

A. Basically, yes. By late morning, really, everyone was talking about it having been al Qaeda and, of course, Osama Bin Laden. It was even on the radio. No specifics, but it was only a day or so before we heard those. The main hijacker was Mohamed Atta, who, along with 14 others, was from Saudi Arabia. Two were from Yemen and two were from Lebanon.

Q. We'll have more about this later, but -- bottom line -- was there ever any evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11 hijackings?

A. No, not a bit.

Q. But your investigation has shown, has it not, that before the war, a majority of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved?

A. Yes.

Q. Danny Crain -- Special Agent Crain -- will be testifying about that in more detail, but in the meantime, have you determined how people came to believe that?

A. Unfortunately, yes. President Bush -- and Cheney and Rice and Rumsfeld and Powell -- deliberately gave people that impression, or allowed them to have it. That's Danny's area of testimony, I know, but let me say this: In fraud cases, we don't have to prove that people were actually deceived, but the case is stronger when you can prove they were. And here we know that many people came to believe many things about Iraq that were just false--including that there was some 9/11 connection.

Q. Well, let's turn to --

A. May I just add something?

Q. Of course.

A. Sometimes, the best way to understand the impact of fraud is not so much the number of victims, but the stories of the victims. Like in the movie Why We Fight, Wilton Sekzer. He was a retired cop whose son died in the World Trade Center. He strongly supported the war against Iraq, but only because he thought it was related to 9/11.

So, in 2004, when the President said not only that he had no evidence linking Saddam to the 9/11 attacks, but also "I don't know where people got the idea that I connected Iraq to 9/11," Mr. Sekzer was devastated. I'll read what he said:

What did he [Bush] just say? I mean, I almost jumped out of the chair. I don't know where people got the idea that I connected Iraq to 9/11. What is he, nuts or what? What the hell did we go in there for? We're getting back for 9/11. Well, if he didn't have anything to do with 9/11, why did we go in there? I was mad. I was mad. My first thought is: you know, you're a liar.
Q. And he felt betrayed?

A. Absolutely.

Q. Was he the only one?

A. No. As of July 2003, approximately 71 percent of the people in the United States believed that the President had deliberately implied that there was a link between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein.


11:00 A.M.

Assistant U.S. Attorney: How's the temperature? I got GSA to turn off the air conditioning.

Grand Juror: No kidding. Now it's way too hot.

Second Grand Juror: Are we allowed to vote someone off the Grand Jury?

Q. It's tempting.

Agent Campbell, what evidence shows that Bush et al. were predisposed to invade Iraq before January 2001?

A. Well, we have to start back in 1992, after the first Gulf War.

Q. Ok. We're not going anywhere.

A. As some jurors may know, the ground-assault phase of the first Gulf War had ended after a hundred hours, because George H. W. Bush decided not to send troops on into Baghdad. Afterward, there was a bloodbath as Saddam Hussein put down a Shiite rebellion in southern Iraq.

At the time, at least publicly, Cheney, who was Secretary of Defense, supported Bush Sr.'s decision. He said if we'd gone into Baghdad, we'd still have forces there and we would be running the country. Cheney didn't think Saddam Hussein was worth "that damned many" casualties, meaning more than the 146 American soldiers who had already died.

Q. Does it appear that Cheney later changed his mind?

A. Yes. But Libby and Wolfowitz disagreed from the beginning.

Q. Who are Libby and Wolfowitz?

A. Libby is I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's aide in 1992. In 2001 he became a top adviser, mainly on foreign-policy issues, for Cheney and also for Bush. Until he got indicted. Paul Wolfowitz was also Cheney's aide in 1992 and in 2001 became Rumsfeld's Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Libby, Wolfowitz, and Cheney had a foreign-policy philosophy that's been described as neoconservative. They first wrote about it, as far as we know, in a 1992 paper called "Defense Planning Guidance." It was never published, but the draft was leaked to the press, so we know its main points. They wanted the United States to "assert world dominance" and to "to punish" or "threaten to punish" possible future aggressors to protect U.S. access to Persian Gulf oil or stop the proliferation of WMD -- weapons of mass destruction. They also recommended that the United States ignore the UN Security Council and act alone if it chose to do so.

Q. How were those ideas received at the time?

A. About as well as Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents' dinner.

Q. Not a warm reception, I take it. So what happened to "Defense Policy Guidance"?

A. Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Libby published a watered-down version of it in 1993 called "Defense Strategy for the 1990s."

Q. Did other future Bush-Cheney administration members publicly state their positions about the Middle East and/or Iraq in the 1990s?

A. Yes, they did. In 1996 Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser wrote a paper for the Israeli government, called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," that advocated invading Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein.

Q. And how did those three figure in the Bush-Cheney administration?

A. From 2001 to 2003, Perle was Chairman of Bush's Defense Policy Board. Feith was Bush's Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and Wurmser was brought in after 9/11 as part of the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group that reviewed raw intelligence looking for evidence of links between Iraq and al Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden.

Q. In 1997, there was --

A. Also, oh, sorry --

Q. No, go ahead. But if we both talk at the same time, the court reporter might quit.

A. What I was going to say was that David Wurmser also publicly advocated a United States invasion of Iraq. Twice, actually. Once in a 1997 Wall Street Journal editorial and then in a November 2000 Washington Times op-ed, where he argued that the United States and Israel should "strike fatally, not merely disarm, the centers of radicalism in the region -- the regimes of Damascus, Baghdad, Tripoli, Tehran, and Gaza."

Grand Juror: Someone who had publicly advocated using military force to remove Saddam Hussein and attacking Syria, Libya, Iran, and Gaza was assigned to look for evidence to justify invading Iraq?

A. Yes. He is now Vice President Cheney's adviser on the Middle East.

Q. All right. In 1997, a group called Project for a New American Century, or PNAC, was formed. What was that?

A. According to its website, PNAC is a think tank dedicated to "American global leadership." Its stated principles were: (1) promoting a bold foreign policy; (2) significantly increasing defense spending; and (3) meeting threats "before they become dire."

Cheney, Rumsfeld, Libby, and Wolfowitz were founding members, as was Jeb Bush, President Bush's brother.

Q. Did the founding statement mention Iraq?

A. No, but a letter the members of PNAC wrote to Clinton in 1998 did.

Q. Before we get to that, were there other public statements advocating forcible removal of Saddam Hussein made by future Bush-Cheney people in 1997?

A. Yes, in a December 1997 issue of the Weekly Standard magazine called "Saddam Must Go: A How-to Guide," Wolfowitz and the current U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, called for "sustained attacks" on Hussein's military and security forces to get rid of him.

Q. Early in 1998, the Project for a New American Century wrote the letter you just mentioned, right?

A. Right. Yes, most of it is excerpted in Exhibit 2:

Ex. 2
Excerpts from January 26, 1998 Letter from PNAC
to President William J. Clinton

We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War. . . . We urge you to . . . enunciate a new strategy . . . [that] should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power...
The policy of "containment" of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months...

It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world's supply of oil will all be put at hazard. As you have rightly declared, Mr. President, the security of the world in the first part of the 21st century will be determined largely by how we handle this threat.

Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power.

In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.

Q. Any familiar names in the signature block?

A. Twelve of the eighteen signers became Bush-Cheney advisers or appointees: Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Khalilzad, Perle, as well as Elliot Abrams, Richard Armitage, Paula Dobriansky, Peter Rodman, R. James Woolsey, and Robert Zoellick.

Q. Well, it's 12:30 and I'm "stahvin," as Agent Campbell would say. So let's go eat.


1:30 P.M.

Assistant U.S. Attorney: Did everyone make it back? Good.

Grand Juror: Agent Campbell, doesn't this 1998 letter contain the same arguments that the Bush administration made in 2002?

A. Yes it does: (1) containment wasn't working; (2) inspections wouldn't work; (3) Saddam would definitely have WMD if we didn't act immediately; and (4) we didn't need to work with the UN.

Grand Juror: What does "containment" mean?

A. In the context of Iraq, it referred mainly to the use of UN sanctions and restrictions to prevent Saddam Hussein from acquiring WMD and from threatening his neighbors.

Q. We're going to switch gears and turn to the 2000 election campaign. Before that, any questions?

Grand Juror: Was Bush in PNAC?

A. No. But in 1999, he hired Condoleezza Rice and her future Deputy National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley, along with five PNAC people -- Perle, Wolfowitz, Armitage, Zoellick, and Dov Zakheim -- to be campaign foreign policy advisers. Four of those five had previously advocated forcibly removing Saddam Hussein.

Q.> During the 2000 campaign, did Bush and Cheney talk about U.S. global preeminence and taking preventive military action against possible threats from WMD or to our oil interests in the Middle East?

A. No. Well, yes and no.

Q. Oh, okay. Everybody got that, then?

A. Well, behind the scenes, with the neoconservative crowd, Bush and Cheney conveyed a very strong message. In fact, in September 2000 Libby, Wolfowitz, and ten other future Bush-Cheney appointees signed a policy statement, called "Rebuilding America's Defenses," that was posted on the PNAC website. The paper, which described itself as a "blueprint for maintaining global U.S. preeminence" that grew out of Cheney's 1992 "Defense Policy Guidance" paper, advocated substantially increased defense spending. Regarding the Middle East, it said the "need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

In plain English: We should have permanent military bases in the Middle East.

Q. Did the statement indicate whether PNAC thought the public would agree with this strategy?

A. Yes. PNAC acknowledged that its goals would likely take a long time to achieve, "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor."

Q. Anyone could look at this website, couldn't they?

A. Yes. But it was not well known outside of DC and certain conservative circles, and publicly, especially in the general election, Bush and Cheney said nothing whatsoever about a "bold" foreign policy or any other PNAC principles.

Q. Can you give us some examples?

A. Sure. On August 27, 2000, on Meet the Press, Cheney said that the U.S. should not act as "an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments." He was talking about the Middle East.

Also, in the presidential debate against Al Gore at UMass on October 3, Bush said he would "take the use of force very seriously" and "be guarded" in his approach. He also said he disagreed with Vice President Gore about the use of troops: "He [Gore] believes in nation building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation-builders."

Then, in the October 11 debate, Bush was asked how the world should view us and he said they would welcome us "if we're a humble nation, but strong." He also said we needed to "project strength in a way that promotes freedom."

Q. What did Bush say about the need for building coalitions?

A. One of Bush's main themes was that he was a leader and that leaders build coalitions. On December 2, 1999, for example, he said he would "keep the peace" by "strengthening alliances, which says [sic] America cannot go alone, we must be peacemakers not peacekeepers." In the October 11 debate, he said, "It's important to have credibility and credibility is formed by being strong with your friends and resoluting [sic] your determination." It was especially important to have strong ties in the Middle East, he said, because of the oil there.

Q. Did Bush or Cheney talk about forcibly removing Saddam Hussein during the 2000 campaign?

A. Cheney never did, but early on, Bush seemed to say just that, perhaps inadvertently. In the December 2, 1999, New Hampshire Republican primary debate, the Fox News reporter Brit Hume asked him what he would do differently from Clinton regarding Saddam Hussein. And Bush said:

I wouldn't ease the [U.N.] sanctions, and I wouldn't try to negotiate with him. I'd make darn sure that he lived up to the agreements that he signed back in the early '90s. I'd be helping the opposition groups. And if I found in any way, shape or form that he was developing weapons of mass destruction, I'd take 'em out. I'm surprised he's still there. I think a lot of other people are as well.
Now, it's odd. The transcript says "'em" -- and I have no idea who's responsible for that. But, at the time, Hume clearly thought Bush was referring to "him," as in Saddam Hussein. And he -- Hume, I mean -- said, "Take him out?" And Bush responded, "To out [sic] the weapons of mass destruction." Which did not follow from saying "I'm surprised he's still there."

Q. Did Bush ever say "take 'em out" relating to Iraq or Saddam Hussein again during the campaign?

A. No. Although, in February 2000, he said, "There won't be any weapons of mass destruction left in Iraq if I'm the Commander-in-Chief." Usually, though, when Bush talked about Iraq, he'd say something like achieving world peace would require "firmness with regimes like North Korea and Iraq."

Actually, when you look carefully at what he said, he conveyed almost no information whatsoever.

Q. Have you come across a notable instance where Bush used the term "Commander-in-Chief"?

A. Yes. In May 1999, during an interview with a family friend and reporter named Mickey Herskovitz for a campaign book that someone else ended up writing, Bush said, "One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a Commander-in-Chief." He also said:

My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade -- if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency.
Grand Juror: In other words, Bush was saying that the way to be seen as a great leader was to start a war?

A. It appears so.

Q. Let's take our afternoon break.


3:15 P.M.

Assistant U.S. Attorney: Special Agent Campbell, you mentioned that numerous advocates of the Project for a New American Century principles relating to U.S. global dominance and preventive attacks ended up in the Bush-Cheney administration in 2001.

How many of the people brought in by Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were public proponents of the PNAC principles?

A. Public proponents of the PNAC principles?

Q. Precisely.

A. At least twenty-eight, including advisers and consultants, as well as officials, appointees, and staff. They're all listed in Exhibit 3.

Q. Does everyone have Exhibit 3?

Ex. 3
Public Proponents of PNAC Principles

1. Paul Wolfowitz: Deputy Secretary of Defense;
2. I. Lewis Libby: Assistant to the President/ Vice President's Chief of Staff;
3. Eliot Abrams: Assistant to the President/ Deputy National Security Adviser for Global Security;
4. Stephen Cambone: Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy/current Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence [newly created position];
5. Richard Armitage: Deputy Secretary of State;
6. Christopher Williams: Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense;
7. John Bolton: UN Ambassador/Former Undersecretary of Defense for Arms Control and International Security;
8. Peter Rodman: Assistant Director of Defense for National Security Affairs;
9. Paula Dobriansky: Undersecretary of Defense for Democracy and Global Affairs;
10. Douglas Feith: Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy;
11. David Wurmser: Middle East Adviser to the VP/Former Special Adviser to the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security;
12. Abram Shulsky: Director of Defense Department's Office of Special Plans;
13. Zalmay Khalilzad: Ambassador to Iraq/Former Special Assistant to the President for Persian Gulf Affairs;
14. Barry Watts: Office of the Secretary of Defense/Director of Program Analysis & Evaluation;
15. Dov Zakheim: Undersecretary and Chief Financial for Defense Department;
16. Mark Lagon: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State;
17. Robert B. Zoellick: Former U.S. Trade Rep-resentative/Former Deputy National Security Adviser;
18. David Epstein: Staff, Secretary of Defense;
19. Richard Perle: Former Chairman, Defense Policy Board;
20. Eliot Cohen: Defense Policy Board;
21. Devon Gaffney-Cross: Defense Policy Board;
22. Henry S. Rowen: Defense Policy Board;
23. R. James Woolsey: Defense Policy Board;
24. Richard V. Allen: Defense Policy Board;
25. Daniel Goure: Consultant to Secretary of Defense;
26. Gary Shmitt: Consultant to Secretary of Defense;
27. Randy Scheuneman: Consultant to Secretary of Defense;
28. William Schneider, Jr.: Chairman, Defense Science Board
Q. Out of those, how many had specifically and publicly called for the use of United States military force to depose Saddam Hussein?

A. Seventeen had already called for the forcible removal of Saddam Hussein.

Q. Those would include the Deputy Secretaries of Defense and State, as well as seven additional high-level appointees in the State and Defense Departments, correct?

A. Yes. Also, of course, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Including Rumsfeld, eighteen of the Bush-Cheney administration appointees had publicly called for the removal of Saddam Hussein before 2001, including Rumsfeld.

Grand Juror: The evidence about Project for a New American Century, and Bush talking about being a Commander-in-Chief?

Q. Yes?

Grand Juror: Are you saying that Bush and Cheney were definitely planning to invade Iraq from the beginning?

Q. No, and that is not something you have to decide in this case. The predisposition evidence shows the genesis and some of the motivation for the fraud, but it's not intended to be proof of the fraud itself. You could decide they were not predisposed to invade Iraq and still find probable cause to believe that they conspired to defraud the United States beginning on or before September 2002.

So, let's call it a day. Thank you for your testimony, Agent Campbell. Have a good evening, everyone.

[Note: For Part 1 of Elizabeth de la Vega, "A Fraud Worse than Enron" click here; for Part 2, "The Indictment," click here. For the final five days of grand jury testimony, be sure to pick up a copy of United States v. George W. Bush.]

Elizabeth de la Vega is a former federal prosecutor with more than 20 years of experience. During her tenure, she was a member of the Organized Crime Strike Force and Chief of the San Jose Branch of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California. Her pieces have appeared in the Nation Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and Salon. She writes regularly for This day of grand jury testimony is part of her new book, United States v. George W. Bush et al. She may be contacted at

Excerpted from United States v. George W. Bush et al. by Elizabeth de la Vega, published December 1, 2006 by Seven Stories Press and

Copyright 2006 Elizabeth de la Vega

The partition temptation: Iraq to Latin America (Will the U.S. attempt to Balkanize Latin America next?)

Juan Gabriel Tokatlian
29 - 11 - 2006
The partition temptation: Iraq to Latin America (Will the U.S. attempt to Balkanize Latin America next?)
Could the global trend toward the breakup of states reach a Latin America pressed by conflict, inequality, and regional fissure? Juan Gabriel Tokatlian reports.

A spectre is haunting the world: the spectre of fragmentation. The western hemisphere too may in the near future face this (to it) new and urgent problem, one that indirectly links it to the future of territories across the globe, from Iraq and the Caucasus to east Africa and the Balkans. As an increasingly volatile Iraq deals with the threat of civil war and disintegration, the breaking of nations may soon become a critical concern in inter-American affairs, and an issue that can only be resolved by concerted diplomacy between key Latin American nations and other states, the United States in particular.

If Washington caps its failure in Iraq by sanctioning partition there, this may be seen as a message to a Latin America already beset by complex and conflicting social demands. A signal in favour of secession in one area can generate unpredictable consequences in another. A growing turmoil is already pushing several Latin American countries in the direction of regional dislocation, even state disintegration. If the United States does not search for active diplomatic partners to avert such an outcome and address its underlying dynamics, the future will be even less stable than the present.

The need for strategic clarity and political sophistication by the United States leadership is evident. It is not clear whether these two basic ingredients for understanding and coping with a changing Latin American reality are currently available in Washington.

An arc of instability

The world has seen an avalanche of new nation-states in the last sixty-one years - membership of the United Nations has increased from fifty-one at its foundation in 1945 to 192 (since the accession of Montenegro in June 2006) today. In this light, Latin America stands out as a region that has witnessed the least state creation.

From the mid-19th century onwards, and throughout the 20th century, only one new state was formed: when, in 1903, Panama gained independence as the result of its separation from Colombia (with the encouragement of the United States). More recently, the departure of former British and Dutch colonial rulers led Guyana (1966), Surinam (1975), and Belize (1981) to become independent.

Thus, Latin America has in terms of state foundation been the most stable and peaceful area in the planet over more than 150 years. Could the present generation be witnessing the end of this era of gestational stability?

Indeed, the prospect of secession has resurfaced in the western hemisphere at the beginning of the 21st century. Several recent indicators - in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and even Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela - illustrate the point.

In Colombia, the political and military conditions generated by the continuing conflict between the Bogotá government and the insurgent, leftist Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia / Farc) has fuelled an increasing perception - inside and outside the country - that the southern part of Colombia could be territorially dismembered. Such an idea developed especially during the fragile, contradictory peace negotiation between 7 January 1999 and 20 February 2002.

The most recent agreement between the Álvaro Uribe Veléz government and the rightwing paramilitaries of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia / AUC) has not meant a recovery and expansion of state sovereignty over large parts of the countryside. The lack of a genuine, thorough solution to a forty-year armed conflict, and its growing internationalisation, only exacerbate fears of geopolitical breakdown among Colombia's neighbours.

In Peru and Ecuador, the assertiveness of a renewed ethnic (even racial) question at the heart of the Andean ridge has created a degree of instability not seen since the epochs of colonisation and independence. Well-organised, highly mobilised and vastly diverse indigenous groups have mushroomed, and have reinforced in turn the fears and aspirations of a gradually displaced white leadership; both groups refer increasingly to institutional self-sufficiency and political self-determination rather than mere social aspiration.

In Venezuela, Hugo Chávez has lately asserted - admittedly without much evidence - that Zulia, the petroleum-rich state along the Colombian border governed by election rival Manuel Rosales, was searching for autonomy, with alleged support from the United States (the same scenario has been raised by a writer Chávez admires, Noam Chomsky).

In Bolivia, a mixture of ethnic, cultural, economic, regional and social tension between the western and eastern parts of the country is stimulating a lethal combination of political polarisation and regional fracturing. The evolution and results of the year-long constituent assembly in the political capital of Sucre could either deepen Bolivian democracy or result in the country's effective territorial partition.

Even in Brazil and Argentina, secessionist concerns are present. The recurrent anxiety shown by Brasilia (regarding the Amazon) and by Buenos Aires (with respect to Patagonia) reveals the existence of underlying (internal and external) schismatic forces in the two largest Latin American nations. In the former, there is recurrent apprehension among elements of the Brazilian civilian and military elite regarding an eventual "takeover" of Amazonia; in the latter, the fear of territorial loss was evident especially at the time of Argentina's institutional implosion in the critical days of 2001-02.

Don't wait, anticipate

A number of related trends - the emergence of a vigorous ethnic agenda and the partial collapse and replacement of traditional elites, both occurring in the context of (and to an extent provoked by) an uneven globalisation process that in Latin America has weakened the state - has broadened the economic gap between the haves and have-nots, aggravated social tensions, and eroded national identity. Their confluence is generating in the region a new phenomenon: an encouragement to geographic fracture, political division and symbolic self-rule.

As a result, partition has also become an unexpected and (as yet) undisclosed question in the relationship of the rest of the world (most prominently the United States) towards Latin America. Washington's flaws of understanding - indifference, uncoordinated policies, fixed mindsets - may combine with dismay at the alienating recent trend of electoral and political events to lead it to turn its back on Latin America as irrelevant, unchallenging or irredeemable.

In the meantime, a disturbing regional reality of conflict and fragmentation could generate a new geopolitical reality. A response that fuses collective preventive diplomacy, anticipatory conflict management and precautionary political involvement in advance is preferable to unilateral, last-minute, force deployment and military intervention in an emergency.

Juan Gabriel Tokatlian is at Universidad de San Andrés in Argentina He earned a doctorate in international relations from the Johns Hopkins University school of advanced international studies, and lived, researched and taught in Colombia from 1981-98

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Axis of Hope - Venezuela and the Bolivarian Dream By TARIQ ALI


In the Muslim world religious groups that are militarily effective, but politically limited dominate resistance to the American Empire. Asia is infatuated with capital. Europe lies buried deep in neo-liberal torpor, and the Left and social movements in the EU (Italy is the most recent example) are in an advanced state of decomposition. But in South America an axis of hope has emerged that challenges imperial domination on every level. Democracy, hollowed-out and offering no alternatives in the North, is being used to revive hope in the South.

The likely re-election of Hugo Chavez this weekend in Venezuela will mark a new stage in the process. His opponent, Manuel Rosales, described in the Financial Times (November 30) as a "centre-left" candidate was heavily implicated in the defeated coup attempt to topple Chavez in 2004. Rosales claims that "I will not sit on anyone's lap" but it is hardly a secret that he is firmly attached to the White House.

The wave of revolts and social movements spreading unevenly across the South American continent today are the inevitable result of the Washington Consensus, the economic enslavement of the world. Latin America was the first laboratory for the Hayekian experiments that finally produced the Consensus. The Chicago boys led by the late Milton Friedman, who pioneered neo-liberal economics, used Chile after the Pinochet coup of 1973 as a laboratory. It was a good situation for them. The Chilean working class and its two principal parties had been crushed, their leading cadres killed or "disappeared". Six years later, the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua was crushed by a US-backed Contra counter-revolution.

Earlier this month, the Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega won the Presidency in his country. Blessed by the church, flanked by a former Contra as his vice-president and still loathed by the US ambassador, Ortega may be a sickly shadow of his former self, but his victory undoubtedly reflects the desire of Nicaraguans for change. Will Managua follow the radically redistributive policies of anti-imperialist Caracas or confine itself to rhetoric and remain a client of the International Monetary Fund?

There was even better recent news from Quito. The substantial electoral triumph of Rafael Correa, a dynamic, young, US-educated economist and former finance minister, who pledged in his election campaign to reverse Ecuador's participation in the US-backed free trade area for the Americas, to ask the US military to vacate its base at Manta, and to join Opec and the growing Bolivarian movement that seeks to unite South America against imperialism.
Correa's victory comes at a time when Latin America is on the march again. There have been some spectacular demonstrations of the popular will in Porto Alegre, Caracas, Buenos Aires, Cochabamba and Cuzco, to name but a few cities.

This has offered a new hope to a world either deep in neoliberal torpor (the EU, the US, the Far East) or suffering from the military and economic depredations of the new order (Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, south Asia).The struggle spearheaded by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela against the Washington consensus has attracted the fury of the White House. Three attempts (including a military coup backed by the US and the EU) were made to topple Hugo Chávez.

Chávez was first elected president of Venezuela in February 1999, 10 years after a popular insurrection against the IMF readjustment programme had been brutally crushed by Carlos Andrés Peréz, whose party was once the largest affiliate of the Socialist International. In his election campaign Peréz had denounced the economists on the World Bank's payroll as "genocide workers in the pay of economic totalitarianism" and the IMF as "a neutron bomb that killed people, but left buildings standing".

Afterwards he caved in to the demands of both institutions, suspended the constitution, declared a state of emergency and ordered the army to mow down the protesters. More than 2,000 poor people were shot dead by troops. This was the founding moment of the Bolivarian upheaval in Venezuela.

Chávez and other junior officers organized to protest against the misuse and corruption of the army. In 1992 the radical officers organised a rebellion against those who had authorized the butchery. It failed because it was soon after the traumas of 1989, but people did not forget. That is how the new Bolivarians came to power and began to slowly and cautiously implement social-democratic reforms, reminiscent of Roosevelt's New Deal and the policies of the 1945 Labour government. In a world dominated by the Washington consensus this was unacceptable. Hence the drive to topple him. Hence the demand by Pat Robertson, the leader of political Christianity in the US, that Washington should organise the immediate assassination of Chávez. Venezuela, till now an obscure country as far as the rest of the world was concerned, suddenly became a beacon.

The majority of the people who elected Chávez were angry and determined. They had felt unrepresented for 10 years; they had been betrayed by the traditional parties; they disapproved of the neoliberal policies then in force, which consisted of an assault on the poor in order to shore up a parasitical oligarchy and a corrupt civilian and trade-union bureaucracy. They disapproved of the use that was made of the country's oil reserves. They disapproved of the arrogance of the Venezuelan elite, which utilised wealth and a lighter skin colour to sustain itself at the expense of the dark-skinned and poor majority. Electing Chávez was their revenge.

When it became clear that Chávez was determined to make modest changes to the country's social structure, Washington sounded the tocsin. Nowhere has the embittered bigotry emanating from this quarter been more evident than in its actions and propaganda against Venezuela, with the Financial Times and the Economist in the forefront of a massive disinformation campaign.

They are united by their prejudices against Chávez, whose advent to power was viewed as an insane aberration because the social reforms funded by oil revenues - free health, education and housing for the poor - were regarded as a regression to the bad old days, a first step on the road to totalitarianism.

Chávez never concealed his politics. The two 18th-century Simóns - Bolívar and Rodríguez - had taught him a simple lesson: do not serve the interests of others; make your own political and economic revolution; and unite South America against all empires. This was the core of his program, which is unacceptable to the supporters of the Washington Consensus.

The key to a serious Latin American challenge to the US lies in regional cohesion. This is crucial. When the cable channel Telesur was launched in Caracas nearly two years ago, one of their first programs revealed a shocking level of ignorance amongst South Americans. In virtually every capital city vox pop interviews revealed that people knew the name of their own capital and that of the United States. Very few could name even two or three capital cities in their own continent!

So regional unity---the Bolivarian Federation of sovereign states of which Chavez speaks incessantly----is necessary to move forward. Washington will do everything to prevent this since its own interests dictate dealing with countries unilaterally rather than as regional entities (this is even true of the European Union). Regional unity in South America could have a surprising impact in el Norte as well where the Hispanic population of the United States is growing rapidly to the great consternation of state ideologues like Samuel Huntington.

Tariq Ali's new book, Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope, is published by Verso

La Patria de Fidel no es solo Cuba, sino el planeta Tierra

Convicción de los participantes en el coloquio convocado en La Habana por la Fundación Guayasamín por el 80 cumpleaños del líder de la Revolución cubana

Orfilio Peláez, Joel Mayor Lorán y Pedro de la Hoz

Para la argentina Hebe de Bonafini, una de las emblemáticas Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, "es el hombre más grande, sabio, íntegro y sincero que he conocido"; mientras el popular comunicador italiano Gianni Miná sacó cuentas: "Hace 17 años comenzó el derrumbe del socialismo en el Este de Europa, y Cuba, bajo el liderazgo del Comandante, sigue en pie y va hacia delante". De los entrañables parajes australes de Nuestra América, la palabra del venerable Volodia Teitelboim se hizo sentir: "La Patria de Fidel no es solo Cuba, sino el planeta Tierra".

Voces como estas, diversas y sin embargo coincidentes en sólidos y razonados argumentos y profundas convicciones, dialogaron ayer en el habanero Palacio de las Convenciones durante la primera sesión del coloquio Memoria y Futuro: Cuba y Fidel, que convocado por la Fundación Oswaldo Guayasamín rinde homenaje al líder de la Revolución, en ocasión de su 80 cumpleaños.

Las nuevas generaciones del continente también se expresaron. Luther Castillo, hondureño egresado de la Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina, subrayó que en 115 años de fundada la Universidad Autónoma de Honduras, apenas graduó a un médico negro, mientras la surgida en Cuba ya ha formado a 18, integrantes de la etnia garífuna.

Procedentes de 80 países, los asistentes al evento sesionaron simultáneamente en tres salas para abordar la irradiación solidaria de la Revolución cubana; los logros en la participación popular, la justicia social, la ciencia, la salud, la educación y el deporte; y la cultura y los medios masivos de comunicación.

El escritor y dirigente histórico mozambicano Marcelino dos Santos recordó que la libertad de los pueblos de África está abonada por la sangre generosa del pueblo cubano.

De la Venezuela bolivariana intervinieron Francisco Sesto, ministro de Cultura, para destacar que en Fidel se registra la conjunción de una visión humanista con una firmeza de principios, y el poeta y político Tarek William Saab, quien calificó al líder cubano como continuador de la obra del Libertador.

Luego de contar su experiencia en la promoción de los programas de alfabetización concebidos en la Isla, la argentina Claudia Camba arrancó aplausos al decir: "El mejor homenaje a Fidel es que todos vayamos a sembrar sus sueños por doquier, y a ejecutarlos".

Was the use of polonium to kill Litvinenko a clue to the identity of the killer or killers (Russian-Israeli Mafia)?

November 30, 2006 -- Was the use of polonium to kill Litvinenko a clue to the identity of the killer or killers?

There is increasing evidence that the radioactive poisoning assassination of ex-KGB and FSB agent and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko was the result of a plot by anti-Vladimir Putin criminal syndicates based in Britain, Israel, Ukraine, and Poland to embarrass the Russian government.

Suspicions about the role of the exiled Russian-Israeli criminal syndicates in the poisoning of Litvinenko, including that headed by Litvinenko's friend, wanted oligarch Boris Berezovsky, re-surfaced after former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar became violently ill after eating breakfast at a conference he was attending in Dublin, Ireland. Ireland's banking secrecy laws has made it a favorite location for the Russian-Israeli Mafia.

Gaidar's sudden illness occurred a day after Litvinenko died in a London hospital from poisoning from polonium-210, a deadly radioactive isotope when ingested. Radioactive traces were later discovered at sites around London, including Berezovsky's offices in the West End.

Gaidar was moved from a Dublin hospital to a Moscow hospital where he received a telephone call from Putin wishing him a speedy recovery. Putin's Mafiosi critics in Britain, Israel, Moscow, and other countries have accused the Russian leader of poisoning Litvinenko and attempting to kill Gaidar.

However, Russian officials are claiming that the attacks were carried out by Putin's criminal opponents who want to create tension between Moscow and the West.

Their arguments appear to have merit when the choice of radioactive isotope used to kill Litvinenko is considered. Intelligence experts point out that polonium was discovered by Marie Curie (nee Maria Sklodowska) in 1897 and named after her native homeland Poland (Polonia in Latin) to express her support for Polish independence against its partition by Russia, Prussia and Austria.

Was someone allied to Russian-Israeli mob sending a message by killing Litvinenko with radioactive substance named in honor of Polish independence by native Polish nationalist Marie Curie?

Before Putin moved in to take over Yukos Oil from the Russian criminal syndicates, there were plans to build a Russian-German gas pipeline through Poland. After Poland was taken over by a neo-con team of identical twins Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who serve as President and Prime Minister, respectively, Poland not only began to conduct a witch hunt against ex-Communists but also became a base of operations for the anti-Putin Russian-Israeli exiled gangsters and oligarchs. Named as Defense Minister was former American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Radek Sikorski, who also happens to be married to Washington Post editorial board member and leading neo-con journalist Anne Applebaum, also a leading critic of Putin (along with a number of so-called "liberals," including Clinton ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke).

After Putin decided, along with former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, to bypass Poland and build the Russo-German pipeline under the Baltic Sea, Sikorski unleashed a barrage against Russia and Germany. He likened the pipeline deal to the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Agreement that carved up Eastern Europe, including Poland, between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Sikorski asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel to cancel the pipeline deal but she refused.

We now know that Litvinenko was working on unspecified "energy issues" in London. We also know he has been described as a Russian-Israeli "double agent" and was reported to have transferred classified Russian documents in Yukos to a Russian-Israeli exiled oligarch in Tel Aviv. Double agents are always in danger from the party they are working against. Litvinenko's killers' use of polonium, named by Marie Curie in support of Polish independence, may mean that the assassins are more likely found in Warsaw's Russian-Israeli mob infested intelligence apparatus than in the Kremlin.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Coup d’Etat in Mexico - As a New Regime Prepares to Seize Control December 1, Promising a New Wave of Repression, the Antidote Is ...

The Coup d’Etat in Mexico
As a New Regime Prepares to Seize Control December 1, Promising a New Wave of Repression, the Antidote Is Being Born from Below

By Al Giordano
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
November 29, 2006

Of the 159 Mexican citizens rounded up last weekend in the southern state of Oaxaca, accused of various charges related to anti-government protests, 141 have been moved, by helicopter, a twenty-hour drive from their families and homes, to the penitentiary in San José del Rincón, Nayarit. Although this first wave of detentions was random – anyone unlucky enough to be on public streets and sidewalks where the riot cops stormed – the government classified these prisoners as “dangerous,” justifying their transfer to a prison far away. Not one of those arrested last weekend has seen nor spoken with a lawyer, a human rights worker, a family member or an independent doctor. When, on Monday, reporters and Nayarit state legislators drove toward the prison to investigate, agents of the Federal Preventive Police (PFP, in its Spanish initials) intercepted them, threatened them with arrest, and stole the film from the camera of a photojournalist that had documented their presence.

In Oaxaca, federal police, coordinating their operation with the paramilitary squads and pirate radio station of disgraced governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, continue to conduct house-to-house raids searching for the alleged “leaders” of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO, in its Spanish initials). Attorneys, doctors, clergy, journalists, family and human rights officials have likewise been blocked from speaking with the imprisoned or observing their condition in the wake of what eyewitnesses tell Narco News were the violent beatings police inflicted on many during their arrest.

The events in recent days in Oaxaca mark the largest mass arrest in Mexico since May 3 and 4, when 217 citizens were detained in Atenco and nearby Texcoco, outside of Mexico City. Within days of the Atenco police raid, the first witnesses to the beatings, rapes and tortures of the detained appeared: five foreigners – journalists and human rights observers – that had been swept up by police as they documented the events in Atenco, who were kept incommunicado for various days then deported back to Barcelona, Berlin and Santiago de Chile. From them the world learned of the gang rapes and other savagery inflicted on bound and blindfolded women and men as they were taken to prison. Federal police bosses have openly scoffed at the stern recommendations by the National Human Rights Commission, a government agency, that the police brutality be investigated and punished. In that context, the secretive stance of the State regarding the Oaxaca prisoners is worrisome.

The government of lame duck president Vicente Fox did not learn, from the atrocities of Atenco, to correct its own illegal and authoritarian abuses. It is evident that it considers its only mistakes of last May to have been the failure to hide its own crimes from public view. And so, last Saturday, when it went on the attack in downtown Oaxaca, it was careful to avoid scooping up any of the foreign journalists or human rights observers who might blow the whistle upon their subsequent deportation as witnesses of what occurred to the Mexicans arrested. (International observers, however, would be mistaken to presume that the jackboots won’t be coming for them next; there are already reports in the national media that a separate operation is planned to rid the crime scene of global eyes and ears.) By immediately moving the bulk of the detainees far from Oaxaca or any other media center, the Fox government reveals its intent to hide from public view what it has done to the arrested. The last and final legacy of Vicente Fox, a man who often claimed he had “democratized” Mexico, turns out to be a domestic Guantanamo-on-the-Pacific, where none will be able to hear the cries of the tortured.

It is in this context that the coup d’etat will be completed on Friday, installing Fox’s successor, Felipe Calderón, upon the throne of the Mexican democracy that never was.

The Civil War Up Above

As the treatment of the imprisoned remained behind the curtain yesterday, cameras were able to document the scene in the accompanying photo.

Photos: DR 2006, La Jornada
It is not, contrary to what it might appear to be, a photograph from a scene from a Marx Brothers film. It is, rather, the true history of yesterday’s session of the Mexican National Congress, the distinguished hall in Mexico City where, on Friday, according to the Constitution of the Republic, Felipe Calderón must take the oath of office and put on the presidential sash in order to legalize his status as the nation’s top executive.

Not all the members of that esteemed lawmaking body are in agreement that Calderón was elected to the presidency last July 2. The facts strongly suggest otherwise. (See “Mexico’s Presidential Swindle,” New Left Review, September-October 2006.) About 150 legislators allied with the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD, in its Spanish initials) insist that the PRD candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador received the most votes and have vowed not to permit Calderón, of Fox’s National Action Party (PAN, in its Spanish initials) to be sworn in as president. Last September 1, on live national TV, the PRD legislators (amounting to almost one-third of the entire Congress) took the podium and prevented Fox from delivering his State of the Union address, in protest of the electoral fraud on behalf of Calderón. Thus, their vow to do it again on Friday is not an empty one, and it has the defenders of the election fraud on tenterhooks.

The PAN government has thus applied the same “solution” in Mexico City as it has in Oaxaca: On November 20, it sent in the federal police to surround the Congressional building and declare a kind of martial law in the surrounding neighborhoods. That was the day that López Obrador supporters converged on the city’s central square, known as the Zócalo, and presented him with the tri-color presidential sash. Fearing that the mass of people would then take the Congressional building various miles away (a fear that did not materialize), Fox sent in the riot cops to protect the building. But as the photo reveals, the solution had no impact. The Congress itself is at Civil War.

Photo: The Hon. Violeta Lagunes of Mexico’s House of Representatives, hard at work.
The PAN again jumped the gun on Tuesday. Misinterpreting the appearance on the Congressional Hall podium of a sole PRD legislator as a “signal” that the dissident legislators were about to take the stage en masse, the PAN legislators launched a preemptive strike. This provoked the PRD legislators to follow them up there. Pushing and shoving, and more than a few fisticuffs ensued for control of the three-tiered podium. One PAN legislator pulled out a spray-can of mace, and tear-gassed a PRD legislator in the face, leading to his hospitalization. Another PAN legislator, 35-year-old Violeta Lagunes, of Puebla, was captured on film dumping soda and other liquids onto rival legislators. The melee continued throughout the day and night, with both sides vowing to hold the stage until Friday: one side to guarantee Calderón’s ascent, the other to prevent it.

The Fox-Calderón transition teams have worked hard to recruit heads of state from other nations to attend Friday’s ascension in their efforts to place a sheen of legitimacy on the regime shift. Among those expected: George Herbert Walker Bush, former US president and father of the current occupant of the White House, to represent the neighboring regime to the North. History repeats itself: It was Bush, Sr., who, as Vice President of the US in 1988, officially congratulated Carlos Salinas de Gortari as the new president of Mexico after what serious historians now agree was a monumental electoral fraud.

But today, Mexico’s Secretary of State Luis Ernesto Derbez worried aloud that the ongoing brawl for control of the Congressional podium might scare some away. “It is going to be very shameful and disgraceful for our country,” he said, “if we have chiefs of state of the quality of former president George Bush, Sr., observing below, on the podium, a spectacle worthy of a second-rate country.”

As the legislators in suits and ties continue fighting over the podium, Calderón vows that hell or high water he will go to that hall and collect his trophy – six years at the helm of Mexico – on Friday. Meanwhile, his rival López Obrador has called his supporters to the Zócalo at 7 a.m. Friday morning and Fox is reduced again to his legacy as the “Dial 911 President,” calling in the cops. It is not clear what, if anything, López Obrador and his allies plan to do on Friday. In the months since July’s fraudulent election, he has talked big but pulled back from marching his troops into confrontation, even when he counted with millions, indignant and by his side. Either he will surprise on Friday or December 1 could mark the collapse of the electoral path to change in Mexico.

The First-Rate Country from Below

Today marks the final stretch in the eleven-month marathon that has been the Zapatista Other Campaign’s listening tour of all of Mexico. Insurgent Subcomandante Marcos, who has visited every corner of the country since January 1, taking notes of the testimony of “the simple and humble people who fight,” will make one more stop in the rural Huasteca region of the state of San Luis Potosí and soon head back to Chiapas to inform his indigenous comandantes of his findings. December will be dedicated to meetings between Other Campaign adherents to determine the next steps of what is now a truly nationwide effort to topple not just an illegitimate government but also “the capitalist system” that it serves. At the end of the year, December 30, the Zapatistas will receive delegates from throughout the world for an international gathering in the autonomous municipal seat of Oventik, Chiapas.

DR 2006, Narco News
The Other Campaign tour of Mexico revealed, at every stop, that Mexico neither enjoys democracy nor any of the basic freedoms required for it. At this moment when the State’s effort to hide its authoritarian repression in Oaxaca makes the atrocity in fact visible, the truth is that the terror seen this week in Oaxaca has been occurring all along in decentralized form against all Mexicans that have dared to speak up or organize for their rights. The Other Campaign found hundreds of political prisoners stashed already in the country’s jails and penitentiaries. Until their family members and organizations brought their existence to the attention of the Zapatista spokesman, many had been taken away so quietly as to have never caused a single news report about their detention. The Other Campaign tour also met literally thousands of Mexicans, in every single state, that have arrest warrants over their heads or face ongoing charges related to their political organizing work. These, too, had been repressed alone, in silence. Likewise, it found mothers and family members of political dissidents that had simply been “disappeared,” or who were later found only as corpses. It is impossible to presume, now that so much evidence has been documented, that Mexico is the liberalized democracy that the national and international Commercial Media portrays it to be.

Much of the work of this international newspaper over the past year has been documenting and reporting these stories, and translating them into other languages, to break that information blockade. The logic of the Other Campaign is that if so many are having their basic rights denied, suffering the blows of a dictatorial regime alone, each in their forgotten corner, then the time has come for Mutual Aid so that, if good people must be beaten, imprisoned and assassinated, then it makes infinitely more sense to confront the regime together.

Thus, for example, when on Monday it was learned that the Oaxaca 141 had been flown clandestinely to an isolated prison in Nayarit, Other Campaign adherents in Oaxaca, among them from the Other Journalism, now knew their counterparts in Nayarit and in the nearby metropolis of Guadalajara, Jalisco, on a first name basis. Between compañeros, phone calls, text messages and emails went out. And the adherents in that region have begun organizing support and noise-making actions so that these 141 political prisoners do not disappear into Fox’s Guantanamo, forgotten and invisible. It also means that the efforts they undertake there will be reported back to Oaxaca, to the nation and to the world in many of its languages. In sum, although not one of the Oaxaca 141 in Nayarit has been heard from, they are already speaking and defying the government and media blackout on their existence and the repression against them. As a result of the Zapatista Other Campaign, the distance between Oaxaca and a prison in Nayarit has grown much shorter than Fox, Calderón, or their security apparatus capos presumed.

The Coup d’Etat Will Not Stand

This, down below, is not the second-rate country of clowns in suits punching each other out in the halls of Congress or of elections authorities that preside over falsifying the results. It is the first-rate country of the dignified Mexico that the outgoing viceroy, Fox, and the new viceroy, Calderón, attempt to snuff out in Oaxaca and elsewhere: a nation of people who work hard, raise their families, and endure police batons, teargas, bullets, prison, torture and death each time they express a desire for a better life.

Calderón sent a very clear signal that, in terms of state violence and repression, Mexico probably hasn’t seen anything yet, not even during the dirty war of the 60s and 70s, compared to what is to come, when he named, this week, Jalisco Governor Francisco Ramírez Acuña to the powerful post of Interior Minister to essentially run the government. Ramírez Acuña is widely perceived as an authoritarian hardliner who imprisons dissidents – as he did time and time again in Jalisco – for sport. That’s one philosophy of statecraft when a governor has a reputation for allowing narco-traffickers and other violent criminals safe haven in his state: create a distraction by rounding up protesters, while gloating with slogans about how “the law will be enforced.”

Ramírez Acuña has told reporters that the matter of Oaxaca will be first on his agenda when he takes the steering wheel of the federal government. It is also an open question as to what changes in policy are in store regarding the Zapatista autonomous communities in Chiapas and the amnesty law for the leadership of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials) that Fox respected, more or less, during his six years in office. The disgrace of Fox’s final year as president, including but not limited to the violent police actions in Atenco and Oaxaca, means that a man that began his presidency pardoning indigenous political prisoners leaves having put many more times that number – hundreds of Mexican dissidents, a disproportionate number of them indigenous – in prison, usually on trumped up charges, as punishment for their exercise of free speech. It is entirely possible that, regarding Oaxaca, he already ceded control of federal policy and techniques of repression to Calderón and Ramírez Acuña.

Whether by commission or omission, Vicente Fox Queseda, who wanted so much to be known as a statesman that ended 70 years of single party dictatorship, leaves with a legacy as having been just one more bumbling repressor and looter in a long list of them. Calderón and his team, on the other hand, begin with no such transcendent illusions. They are the proud architects and heirs of the 21st Century Coup d’Etat, and payday comes on Friday.

First they will promote fear and terror, to try to silence the clamor and protest from below. That’s not going to have the desired effect. The level of indignant desire to do away with the long line of repressive regimes, as witnessed in every state and region along the 2006 Other Campaign trail, has only been inflamed by the ongoing events in Oaxaca and elsewhere. It is also an open secret that the 2006 election was stolen. Not even those that claim it was fair really believe it. There are certainly enough prisons and graveyards in Mexico to fill with thousands more for the crime of speaking and organizing for a better life. And there are police and soldiers galore, plus paramilitaries, to do the dirty work. But there are still not enough to hold back the critical mass of millions that do not recognize their legitimacy. History marches in the direction of a confrontation between those who impose from above and those below who, now recognizing that everyone else like them is in the same horrible situation, have constructed the “other” organization of horizontal communication and Mutual Aid.

The new regime is going to come in, most likely, with nightsticks and guns blazing. Not all of us are going to survive it. But the day is coming when millions will stand up, all at once, and overpower the powerful who have created two opponents for every one they have jailed, three for each they have killed. And from this small corner, that of an observer with a laptop, come what may, it has been the greatest privilege of this life to listen, learn, document and report over so many years from the first-rate country that is the Mexico from below. It has shown all of us, in every corner of the earth, a new way to fight. You won’t read it in the Commercial Media and there will likely be moments to come when they succeed in peddling the myth that all hope is lost, but the following conclusion is evident to anyone that has really been listening to the sound from below: The coup d’etat is here, but it will not stand.

War Criminal Henry Kissinger to Serve As Papal Adviser?

Kissinger to Serve As Papal Adviser?
FPF-fwd.: 'National Catholic Register'

HR conc. 'KILLINGER': At the coming War Crimes Tribunals Heinrich Kissinger will definitely have a seat in the front row as one of the worst global serial killers ever. And get jail with hard labor for the rest of his miserable life. This inhuman creature Kissinger is a one-man-Axis-of-Evil and guilty of many millions of deaths for the US junta's 'empire.' May he rot in Hell forever!.*



By EDWARD PENTIN - Register Correspondent - November 26-December 2, 2006 Issue.

VATICAN CITY - Over the course of his long and controversial career, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has had many titles. Now he reportedly has one more - adviser to the Pope.

According to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Pope Benedict XVI has invited the 83-year-old former adviser to Richard Nixon to be a political consultant, and Kissinger has accepted.

Quoting an "authoritative" diplomatic source at the Holy See, the paper reported Nov. 4 that the Nobel laureate was asked at a recent private audience with the Holy Father to form part of a papal "advisory board" on foreign and political affairs.

As the Register went to press, Kissinger's office was unable to confirm or deny the report. La Stampa stood by its story, although the Italian press is less rigorous in its authentication of stories as is the United States Press.

If true, there is speculation on which issues Kissinger would advise the Holy Father. Relations with Islam, Palestine and Israel, and Iraq - Kissinger has been critical of the conduct of the war but opposes a quick withdrawal - are likely to be high up on the agenda.

It has also been speculated that, in view of the Muslim hostility to Benedict's recent Regensburg speech, Kissinger might provide advice on dealing with an increasingly fractious Islamic world.

Furthermore, like the Pope, Kissinger has analyzed the challenges of globalization and might provide advice in this area as well.

"The idea [of his appointment] sounds like a good one," said veteran Vatican journalist Sandro Magister. "But so would it also be to consult other experts on geopolitics with different orientations."

As possible expert advisers with different perspectives, Magister listed Catholic philosopher and former diplomat Michael Novak; Bernard Lewis, professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University; and foreign policy experts such as Charles Kupchan and G. John Ikenberry.


The recruitment of Kissinger would not be unprecedented. Experts from a variety of disciplines, including the realm of economics, politics and philosophy, are regularly invited to advise popes and Vatican officials on current affairs.

Pope John Paul II was close friends with Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Polish-born national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, partly because both had a common Polish heritage (though this caused the Soviets to suspect the Vatican of "fixing" the election of Karol Wojtyla, which occurred during the Carter presidency).

Similarly to John Paul and Brzezinski, Benedict and Kissinger are close in age and were both born in Bavaria (a Jew, Kissinger and his family fled Nazi Germany before World War II).

In recent years, other figures invited to share their expertise with the Holy See have included Paul Wolfowitz, a former President Bush adviser and now president of the World Bank; Michel Camdessus, the former director of the International Monetary Fund; American economist Jeffrey Sachs and Hans Tietmeyer, former governor of Germany's central bank.

The pontifical academies also regularly call on academic luminaries as consultants, such as Nobel laureates Gary Becker, the successor to Milton Friedman at the Chicago School of Economics, and Italian medical researcher Rita Levi-Montalcini.

In comments to the Register, Novak said that "many, maybe most" of these experts are not Catholic, but that the Pope "can call in certain experts he wants to talk to, or hear a paper from, with discussion in a small group."

Novak said this is true of both Benedict XVI and John Paul II, whom he described as having "very curious and searching minds."


One Iranian radio station is already reporting the news as a "papal-Jewish conspiracy," while others object to the Pope consulting with someone who has been widely identified with the realpolitik school of political analysis, an approach that places practical considerations before morality.


Yet like Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI is winning recognition for his intellectual ability and his capacity to discuss international issues with a diverse spectrum of world figures, ranging from the Dalai Lama to the late atheist polemicist Oriana Fallaci and to Mustapha Cherif, an Algerian Muslim philosopher whom he met this month.

"Such an appointment would really show Benedict XVI to be contrary to his media image, as someone who's willing to listen to other voices not in accordance with his views," said one Holy See diplomat about the reported enlistment of Kissinger as a papal adviser. "It's always helpful to hear different voices offering different views."

EDWARD PENTIN - (writes from Rome.)

[and end] - Story - 'National Catholic Register' article: Pope Benedict XVI has invited Henry Kissinger, former adviser to Richard Nixon, to be a political consultant. - Url.:


FPF links:

* Pope buried in the dung heap of civilization - Nobody protested at unprecedented gathering of criminal world leaders? FPF - Url.: 2005/04/pope-buried-in-dung-heap-of.html

* Pope: Catholic Clowns in Cologne - "The Catholic Church" - Url.: 08/pope-catholic-clowns-in-cologne.html

* KISSINGER: At the coming War Crimes Tribunals Heinrich Kissinger will definitely have a seat in the front row. And get jail for the rest of his miserable life. Kissinger is a one-man-Axis-of-Evil. - Url.:


* The Dutch author this far has lived and worked abroad - never in an English speaking country - during more than four decades for international media, as an independent foreign correspondent. Of which 10 years - also during Gulf War I - in the Arab world and the Middle East. Seeing worldwide that every bullet and every bomb used by the for profit murdering multinationals and their US junta's war machine, breeds more and armed resistance. Not only among Muslims, as the 'Junta Judasses' claim, but in all 190 countries surrounding the U.S. - War criminals, beware! - Url.:

* FPF-COPYRIGHT NOTICE - In accordance with Title 17 U. S. C. Section 107 - any copyrighted work in this message is distributed by the Foreign Press Foundation under fair use, without profit or payment, to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the information.

Editor: Henk Ruyssenaars
The Netherlands

Rafael Correa Officially Declared Winner of Ecuador's Presidential Election - by Stephen Lendman

Yesterday afternoon, populist candidate Rafael Correa was officially declared the winner of Ecuador's run-off presidential election and will take office as his nation's new leader on January 15. He defeated Washington-supported billionaire oligarch and banana tycoon Alvaro Noboa gaining a likely 58% majority to his opponent's 42% with over 90% of the votes tallied. Narciza Subia, one of seven Supreme Electoral Tribunal judges made the official announcement saying "Rafael Correa is the new president of Ecuador. The (electoral) trend is not going to change." Earlier, Correa was jubilant at a news conference saying "Thank God, we have triumphed. We are just instruments of the power of the people. This is a clear message that the people want change."

And change is what Rafael Correa promised his people he'd deliver pledging a "citizens' revolution" against the country's discredited political system based on "the fallacies of neoliberalism" and exploitive Washington consensus doctrine supporting the interests of capital at the expense of the public welfare. Correa wants to change that using the language of his friend and ally Hugo Chavez by calling for "socialism for the twenty-first century." He wants to prioritize social spending, the way it's done in Venezuela, and plans to renegotiate the country's debt, or even consider defaulting on it, to provide the funds to do it. He also wants no part of a one-way so-called "free-trade" agreement with the US saying "We are not against (international trade) but we will not negotiate a treaty under unequal terms with the US."

Correa is also dismissive of George Bush, a man he clearly holds in contempt having called him "dimwitted" during his campaign. Reporters also asked him to comment about Hugo Chavez calling Bush "the devil" in his September UN General Assembly speech. He replied "Calling Bush the devil offends the devil. Bush is a tremendously dimwitted president who has done great damage to the world." Mr. Correa wants good relations with his dominant northern neighbor but won't allow it to be on the same business-as-usual one-way basis it's always been up to now. Beginning in January, everything will change if Correa delivers on what he says he intends to do.

Correa's victory is also one for his nation's long-exploited indigenous people including by his banana tycoon opponent Naboa who practically uses these people, including children, as near-slave labor allowing him to become Ecuador's richest man and owner of 120 companies. Correa's victory will allow the people of Ecuador to have more control over the country's resources including its oil reserves by not allowing them to be exploited by giant transnational corporations as Mr. Naboa had every intention of doing had he won. He also wants to cut ties to the predatory international lending agencies controlled out of Washington and will get help doing it from Hugo Chavez. Further, he says he'll renegotiate foreign oil company contracts to increase state revenue to give him more of the latitude he needs to do it.

The people of Ecuador have had their say and elected a new kind of leader to be their next president. In six weeks we'll begin to learn how well Rafael Correa will deliver for them in a nation always governed before by leaders who never did.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at

Torture, the Geneva Conventions and the School of the Americas By Ann Wright, US Army Reserve Colonel

Wednesday 29 November 2006

I spoke for the first time at the School of the Americas Watch protest at Fort Benning, Georgia, on Saturday, November 17, 2006. As a US Army veteran with 29 years of active and reserve duty who retired as a colonel, I felt tremendous emotions while addressing over 20,000 protesters from a stage in front of the gates of a major US military installation. We were there as witnesses to a history of involvement in torture by graduates of the US military's School of the Americas (SOA), now known by its less-notorious name, the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation.

Standing with me were seven members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, including two war resisters: Darrell Anderson, who returned from Canada in October 2006 and was discharged from the US Army, and Kyle Snyder, who also returned from Canada and attempted to turn himself in to the US Army.

School of the Americas and Torture

I had served three years in the middle 1980s with the US military's Southern Command in Panama while the School of the Americas was still located there. People in Central and South America were tortured by members of their militaries throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Terrible periods of torture in Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras were conducted by members of militaries from those countries. Some of the known torturers attended the School of the Americas.

When I was in the military, I never heard from other US military personnel that SOA was training students in torture techniques. But there were rumors from non-military organizations of SOA involvement. I thought that if the rumors were true, surely we would hear about it through the informal communications network that operates very effectively in the US military. Techniques for harming others are not hard to figure out and would not need to be taught by the US military. Why would the US military train members of other militaries in torture techniques and thereby expose the US military to charges of international and domestic criminal activity?

In 1996, seven Spanish-language military manuals prepared by SOA surfaced that advocated such tactics as executions of guerrillas, extortion, physical abuse and paying bounties for enemies. These documents came to light because of an investigation into the involvement of the CIA in Guatemala. But I still thought that it wouldn't be the US military teaching such methods, but maybe the Central Intelligence Agency, using a US military installation and dressing in US military uniforms.

Torture in Iraq and Afghanistan: Who Are the Teachers and What Is Taught?

But then the US military went to war in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. Photos of the abusive treatment of prisoners in Bagram Air Base and Kandahar, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib made me question the professionalism of the US military and what was being taught in military schools. Perhaps there was a program of instruction that taught torture techniques to military intelligence, CIA and contractor interrogators. The Bush administration's "torture memos" certainly provided the environment for the military to "take off the gloves," a statement attributed to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's counsel, according to a June 12, 2002, Justice Department document. We now know the sordid history of abuses and torture that occurred from 2001 through 2005 and that are probably still happening.

Questions abound concerning US military and CIA involvement in torture. What manuals are used in training US military interrogators at the US Army Intelligence School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona? What is taught to US Marines at Camp Pendleton, California, and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and US Army infantry troops at Fort Benning, Georgia, who initially stop and detain Afghan and Iraqi citizens? What is taught to military police at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, about custodial care of prisoners by the US military? What are the guidelines for evaluating the limits of physical and psychological abuse taught to military doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists at Fort Sam Houston in Texas and Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospitals in Washington, DC? When do doctors call a halt to physical and emotional abuse and torture?

Are military lawyers taught at the US Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) School at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, Virginia, or at the US Navy JAG School at the US Naval base in Newport, Rhode Island, to parse regulations that prohibit torture into guidelines that provide legal cover for torture? Do Special Operations Forces of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force practice on detainees the interrogation techniques they are subjected to during their Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington, and Naval Air Stations in Brunswick, Maine, and North Island, San Diego, California? What are the limits of abusive interrogation techniques taught to CIA and CIA contract interrogators in the various CIA training areas around Washington, DC, and other locations in the US?

What Is the Effect of Torture and Abusive Behavior on the Perpetrators?

With so many US military and CIA personnel involved in some level of abuse toward detainees and prisoners, what is the emotional toll taken on them when they know they are conducting harmful, as well as illegal, actions on those in their custody? Do military, CIA and contract interrogators, military police, medical personnel and military and civilian lawyers who have gone along with the torture policy suffer from post traumatic stress disorder following their tours in Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and secret prisons? Are their abusive behaviors brought home? The answer to both questions is yes.

Recently made public was the September 2003 suicide of US Army interrogator Alyssa Peterson, who was an Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at the Tal-afar airbase in far northwestern Iraq near the Syrian border. According to the report of the Army's investigation into her death, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage, and shortly after committed suicide.

In the past five years, thousands of military police, military interrogators, medical and legal staff and hundreds of CIA personnel have been involved with detainees and prisoners. So many persons associated with the prisons in Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered emotional damage that Eve Ensler wrote a play concerning the experience of one interrogator entitled "The Treatment," which is now playing off-Broadway. The play chronicles the psychological damage done to an Army interrogator who abused a prisoner and the treatment he needed to address the demons released by his actions.

While there has been no specific study of those involved in detaining and imprisoning persons in Afghanistan and Iraq, suicides, family abuse and inability to function because of the trauma of the experiences in those countries are at an all-time high in the US military. In 2002, four Special Forces soldiers murdered their wives upon their return from Afghanistan.

Torture, the Geneva Conventions and the Military Commissions Act

Have military leaders objected to the Bush administration's torture policies? Senior military lawyers (the Judge Advocates General) strongly disagreed with the Bush administration's decision to describe those detained in Afghanistan and other countries as "enemy combatants" and thereby deny them protections accorded to prisoners of war (POWs). Interrogation techniques authorized by former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, presidential legal counselor and now Attorney General Antonio Gonzales and a group of political appointee civilian lawyers, and a few military lawyers, clearly amounted to torture.

Now the US Congress, through the 2006 Military Commissions Act, has undercut the important provisions of the Geneva Conventions forbidding torture by authorizing "alternative" interrogation techniques and preventing bringing to trial any US citizen who committed criminal actions related to torture prior to December 31, 2005.

In the many military schools throughout the United States (the military prides itself on being the nation's largest schoolhouse), military professionals must now teach the "Bush administration version" of the Geneva Conventions to US military personnel.

While at the School of the Americas Watch protest, I visited the SOA School and spoke to the chief of the Human Rights division, a US Army major. I asked him how he now taught the Geneva Conventions to the international classes that come through the school. Did he teach the original Geneva Conventions or the new modified US version of the Conventions? The Major without hesitation said that since the students represent governments that, at least officially, have not changed the language of the Conventions, he would teach the original Geneva Conventions.

Ironically, it is now only in the US military schools that train international students that American students will be exposed to the original Geneva Conventions that prohibit torture in all forms, including the "alternative" methods that the Bush administration and the US Congress now condone but which are still criminal in international law. Military schools with only US students will teach the Bush version of the conventions.

But not all countries want US military training. After much lobbying by families of victims of torture, the Defense ministers of Argentina and Uruguay notified the United States in March 2006 that their countries would no longer send students to the School of the Americas, because of its legacy of torture and social repression. Venezuela had earlier stopped sending students to the school. But the Bush administration is on the offensive to provide military training, even to those countries that courageously stood up to the administration's demand for exemption of US soldiers from prosecution for war crimes. On October 2, 2006, because of its concern over the rise of populist governments in Latin America, the Bush administration without fanfare lifted the 2002 US prohibition of training militaries from 22 countries that refused to exempt US soldiers. Eleven Latin American and Caribbean countries that were previously banned from US military training will now be eligible to attend US military courses, if they wnt it. Many of the students from those 11 countries would go to the School of the Americas.

Normally one would call for the US Congress to closely monitor the content of the instruction in the military's Infantry, Military Intelligence, Military Police, Judge Advocate General, medical and SERE schools to prevent torture techniques from being taught. But now the US Congress has given the military and the CIA a blank check by authorizing "alternative techniques" for interrogation. However, a certain level of Congressional oversight of the CIA and its interrogation techniques is still permitted through the Congressional Intelligence Committees. That oversight must begin quickly with the new Congress.

Demand that Congress Repeal the Military Commissions Act and Close the School of the Americas

The reputation and stature of the United States have been incredibly damaged by the torture and abuses from graduates of the School of the Americas over the past thirty years and by torture perpetrated by the US military and the CIA on behalf of the Bush administration. For the integrity of our country and the moral structure of our military, we, the citizens of the United States, must demand that the new Congress, as one of the first items of business, close the School of the Americas and repeal the torture and criminal free-pass provisions of the Military Commissions Act.

We are complicit in the abuses if we do not get SOA closed and the legalization of torture repealed.

Let's get to work on the new Congress - in December in their home districts and in January in Washington!


Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserve colonel and a 16-year diplomat who resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. Colonel Wright is the president of the Camp Casey Veterans for Peace chapter located in Crawford, Texas. Veterans for Peace is a peace organization that is on the Pentagon's unlawful watch list of anti-war organizations.

Bolivia: Se quebró la oposición, Senado aprobó ley de Reforma Agraria

José Pinto

ALAI AMLATINA, 29/11/2006, La Paz.- El bloqueo de la cámara de senadores en Bolivia decidido por los dos partidos de oposición, con la finalidad de presionar al gobierno del Movimiento al Socialismo, se quebró el día de ayer cuando tres parlamentarios de Poder Democrático Social y de Unidad Nacional decidieron reintegrarse a las sesiones, dando paso a una maratónica sesión en la cual se sancionaron varias normas legales, siendo la principal la denominada ley de reconducción comunitaria de la reforma agraria.

Resulta muy significativo el origen de los parlamentarios que permitieron reconstituir el quórum reglamentario en la cámara alta boliviana. Uno de ellos titular y los otros dos suplentes, pertenecen a los departamentos de Beni y Pando, ambos ubicados en el Oriente boliviano y que forman parte de la denominada "media luna" opositora al gobierno.

En horas de la mañana habían ingresado a la ciudad de La Paz miles de campesinos e indígenas originarios, organizados en varios destacamentos, los mismos que habían marchado algunos hasta tres semanas consecutivas con la intención de presionar por la aprobación de la mencionada ley.

Los dirigentes nacionales de PODEMOS y Unidad Nacional habían ordenado el repliegue de sus senadores como una medida con la cual buscaban no sólo demostrar su condición de mayoría en dicha cámara, sino principalmente que el Movimiento al Socialismo diera un viraje en el proceso de aprobación del reglamento de la Asamblea Constituyente. En este caso, el planteamiento de la oposición es que todas las decisiones sean adoptadas por dos tercios de los constituyentes.

Adicionalmente y en concordancia con los partidos de oposición, los comités cívicos y los prefectos que comparten sus propuestas también habían entrado en "emergencia" dando a conocer un ultimátum al gobierno, incluyendo un plazo perentorio luego del cual realizarían un paro de 24 horas en sus circunscripciones.

La situación era ciertamente delicada, el presidente de la República no logró la autorización senatorial para un viaje al exterior por lo cual tuvo que programar un viaje muy corto, lo cual si se lo permiten las leyes bolivianas. Mientras Evo Morales estuvo en Holanda, el vicepresidente Álvaro García Linera sostuvo varias reuniones con los jefes de bancada, pero todas ellas no pasaron de las buenas intenciones.

Evo Morales tuvo que adelantar su retorno y prácticamente ingresar a la ciudad de La Paz junto con los marchistas, a quienes se dirigió en una manifestación señalando la urgencia de que los senadores retomaran su trabajo, anunciando además que consideraría la posibilidad de recurrir a decretos con la finalidad de solucionar las dificultades derivadas del bloqueo senatorial.

Ello no fue necesario, el Movimiento al Socialismo y sus operadores políticos no debieron esperar sino unas horas, para que la crisis se solucionara mediante la asistencia de tres opositores a la sesión del Senado.

Promediando las cero horas del 29 de noviembre, el Palacio Quemado -sede del gobierno boliviano- estuvo colmado por indígenas, campesinos y colonizadores, autoridades del poder Ejecutivo y decenas de periodistas, quienes fueron testigos de la promulgación de la ley que permitiría reconducir el proceso de reforma agraria y revertir la preeminencia del latifundio principalmente en el Oriente boliviano.

La oposición todavía no sale de su sorpresa. En el mismo desarrollo de la sesión de la cámara de senadores intentó el retiro de quienes habían roto su "férreo bloqueo" y sólo lo logró con uno de ellos.

Este es un triunfo del Movimiento al Socialismo, en su haber figurará como un logro muy importante en el proceso de cambios respetando la institucionalidad democrática.

Difícilmente los partidos de oposición podrán cuestionar las decisiones tomadas y se verán obligados a redefinir sus medidas de presión.

Evo Morales viajó nuevamente, esta vez a Nigeria a la cumbre Sur - Sur. Mientras tanto, su vicepresidente continuará lidiando con una oposición debilitada.

Todavía queda pendiente la solución definitiva a la demanda por los dos tercios en las decisiones de la Asamblea Constituyente y no sería raro que el MAS -aparte de sostener con firmeza su posición- pueda dar alguna sorpresa y ganar los representantes que necesita.

En cualquier caso, el gobierno boliviano ha demostrado una vez más que su fortaleza deviene principalmente del respaldo de los movimientos sociales.