Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Izzy Stone, Patron Saint of Bloggers

By Jeff Cohen
June 17, 2008

Editor's Note: In the days before the Internet, one of the great voices of independent journalism was I.F. Stone, whose simple newsletter challenged the conventional thinking of the day.
In this guest essay, media critic Jeff Cohen recalls Stone's contributions to the cause of journalism:

It was nineteen years ago this week that I.F. (Izzy) Stone died. The legendary blogger was 81.

Confused? You say he died years before web blogs were invented?

Well, yeah, but when I think of today's blunt, fact-based online hell-raisers, my mind quickly flashes on Izzy Stone. You may think of Josh Marshall or Glenn Greenwald or Arianna Huffington. I think of Izzy.

Before there was an Internet, Izzy Stone was doing the work we associate with today's best bloggers.

Like them, he was obsessed with citing original documents and texts. But before search engines, Izzy had to consume ten newspapers per day – and physically visit government archives and press offices, and personally pore over thousands of words in the Congressional Record.
That's how he repeatedly scooped the gullible, faux-objective MSM of his day in exposing government deceit, like that propelling the Vietnam War.

Izzy was the ultimate un-embedded reporter. His journalism was motivated by a simple maxim that resonates loudly in our era of Cheneys and Rumsfelds and WMD hoaxes: "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out."

Month after month from 1953 to 1969 I.F. Stone's Weekly (biweekly through 1971) exposed deceptions as fast as governments could spin them. His timely and timeless dispatches are gathered in an exceptional paperback, The Best of I.F. Stone.

In real time in August 1964, Izzy was virtually alone in challenging the Gulf of Tonkin hoax, an imaginary "unprovoked attack" on U.S. warships used by the Johnson administration to send several hundred thousand American troops into Vietnam.

How did Izzy do it? By citing international law texts and finding nuggets of truth in the Congressional Record of the Senate debate (no C-SPAN then) and in contradictory reporting in mainstream publications.

Izzy's expose began boldly: "The American government and the American press have kept the full truth about the Tonkin Bay incidents from the American public." He fumed at the credulous MSM: "The process of brain-washing the public starts with off-the-record briefings for newspapermen."

Only two senators, Oregon's Wayne Morse and Alaska's Ernest Gruening, had voted against the Tonkin Resolution; Izzy noted that the press had "dropped an Iron Curtain weeks ago on the antiwar speeches of Morse and Gruening."
Like today's online journalistic entrepreneurs, being his own editor and boss allowed Izzy the freedom and space to parse out the distortions of government in detail.

A year before the Tonkin hoax, he wrote: "In this age of corporation men, I am an independent capitalist, the owner of my own enterprise." While most journalists "find their niche in some huge newspaper of magazine combine, I am a wholly independent newspaperman, standing alone."

Bloggers battle today's McCarthyites who smear Iraq War opponents as un-American abettors of our country's enemies. Izzy battled the original Joe McCarthy, in issue after issue of his weekly.

Indeed, he launched his publication the same month – January 1953 – McCarthy became chair of the Senate Operations Committee, enhancing his powers of intimidation.

Izzy warned prophetically: "McCarthy is in a position to smear any government official who fails to do his bidding. With such daring and few scruples, McCarthy can make himself the most powerful single figure in Congress."

Three months later, he wrote: "The most subversive force in America today is Joe McCarthy. No one is so effectively importing alien conceptions into American government. No one is doing so much to damage the country's prestige abroad. . . .If 'subversion' is to be met by deportation, then it is time to deport McCarthy back to Wisconsin."

Not until 11 months later did Edward R. Murrow air his first report on McCarthy.

Today, online media critics and bloggers expose the bigotry and fallacy gushing forth from Fox News and talk radio and the Rev. Moon-owned Washington Times, long-edited by Wes Pruden Jr. They blog about MSM being stenographers to rightwing extremists.

When racists in Little Rock were obstructing court-ordered school desegregation in 1958, Izzy was on the scene reporting: "A staff correspondent in Little Rock quoted the Reverend Wesley Pruden the segregationist leader, as saying, 'The South will not accept this outrage, which a Communist-dominated government is trying to lay on us.' This was my introduction to a regional journalism which prints such statements matter-of-factly."
The Communist-dominated regime referred to by Pruden Sr. was headed by Eisenhower.

Izzy loved to tell the story of how he found – hiding in plain view in different editions of the New York Times – one-paragraph "shirrtail" wire stories indicating that our country's first underground nuclear test in Nevada in 1957 was detected in Toronto, Rome and Tokyo.

Months later, just as hawks in Washington were preparing to attack a test ban treaty with the Soviets on the basis that nuclear tests could not be detected more than 200 miles away, Izzy found a seismologist in the Commerce Department who told him the test had also been detected as far away as Alaska and Arkansas.

Izzy's reporting obstructed the government's lie before it could get its shoes on.

Starting out in his teens, Izzy was a daily reporter, editor and columnist. After moving to D.C. in 1940 to become Washington editor of The Nation, he exposed U.S. corporations still doing business with Hitler's Germany. He was one of the first to sound the alarm about the Nazi holocaust, referring in 1942 to "a murder of a people."

An anti-racist, he battled the all-white National Press Club over exclusion of black journalists.

Izzy's cantankerousness and "hound-dog tenacity" – in the words of his biographer– would make even the most stubborn blogger blush. Although he was a lifelong progressive, his journalistic hallmark was independence: "I felt that party affiliation was incompatible with independent journalism."

His writings show deep admiration for Franklin Roosevelt, yet his article on FDR's death criticized his "deplorable disrespect for the constitutional amenities" in resisting a reactionary Supreme Court that knocked down one New Deal bill after another.
He wrote books passionately supporting the birth of Israel, but strongly criticized it for mistreatment of Palestinians. He advocated peace and negotiations with the Soviet Union, while increasingly vocal in denouncing its rulers: "The worker [in Russia] is more exploited than in Western welfare states."

He despised racists, but fought for their free speech rights, and everyone's: "Once you put ifs and buts in the Bill of Rights, nobody's civil liberties will be secure.''

That he marched to his own drummer can be seen in his dispatch from the 1963 March on Washington for civil rights, in which he criticized "respectables" for muting "Negro militancy" into support of JFK's inadequate program, and referred to Martin Luther King as "a little too saccharine for my taste."

Born of immigrant parents, Izzy was an American patriot who worshipped the Bill of Rights: "You may think I am a red Jew son-of-a-bitch, but I'm keeping Thomas Jefferson alive."

And he worshipped our country's tradition of press freedom: "There are few countries in which you can spit in the eye of the government and get away with it. It's not possible in Moscow."

But Izzy was never naïve about American traditions that threatened freedom, and he had a 5,000-page FBI spy file to prove it.

Today's muckraking bloggers are often belittled for working from their homes, far removed from the corridors of power. Izzy worked out of his home. If he were alive, he'd be applauding the Josh Marshalls and other independents, urging: Keep your distance from power.

"I made no claim to inside stuff. . . I tried to dig the truth out of hearings, official transcripts and government documents, and to be as accurate as possible. . . I felt like a guerilla warrior, swooping down in surprise attack on a stuffy bureaucracy where it least expected independent inquiry.

"The reporter assigned to specific beats like the State Department or the Pentagon for a wire service or a big daily newspaper soon finds himself a captive. State and Pentagon have large press relations forces whose job it is to herd the press and shape the news. There are many ways to punish a reporter who gets out of line. . .
"But a reporter covering the whole capitol on his own – particularly if he is his own employer – is immune from these pressures."

Imagine the obstacles Izzy faced – did I mention his impaired eyesight and hearing? – launching a weekly and finding an audience at the height of McCarthy's witch hunts (even at $5 for an annual subscription).

Far fewer obstacles face today's bloggers who seek to follow in Izzy's footsteps – blessed as they are with relative freedom and this awesome research and outreach tool known as the Internet.

As these upstarts speak truth to power, I see Izzy Stone watching over them, from the heavens.

Jeff Cohen is the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College. He first saw I.F. Stone's Bi-Weekly at a D.C. peace march in 1969. Soon after Cohen launched the media watch group FAIR in 1986, Izzy Stone signed on to its first formal protest, a telegram to ABC News on the exclusion of progressive voices.

Heating Up: The Battle for the Jewish voice and the Jewish soul (Young, Jewish and Angry)

'We see a sick hierarchically organized Jewish community…serving as a smokescreen to allow the ongoing genocide of a people'

David Mandelzys, an anti-Zionist Canadian Jew has recently written these words in a his article'Heating Up: The Battle for the Jewish voice and the Jewish soul.'.

While well-written, what's interesting about the article is the tone it's written in. Angry, impassioned, even contemptuous towards the existing Zionist 'community'.

It's a far cry from the polite and respectful tone with which British anti-Zionists address 'the community'. This might be simply Mr Mandelzys's style, or the style of debate in Canada – but it might signify something deeper. A lack of fear/respect might be no bad thing, when trying to create something new.
Written by David Mandelzys, Photographs by Ryan Davies,

Dear Mom, Dad, your Zionist friends, and Bob Dylan too,

I've got news for you all: The times they are a changin'! Remember last Passover? Remember when we sat around the Seder table and listened to you rant about Israel`s victimhood? About how ethnic cleansing really isn't that bad? And about how if they try to kill the Jews this time, we will at least take them all with us? Remember the rolled eyes of my cousins and the looks we exchanged thinking you were all nuts?

These are the four questions we were thinking of:

1) Why, on this night we dedicate to remembering our own history as an oppressed people, do we justify Israel's oppression of the Palestinians?

2) Why, on this night when Israelis are free to celebrate, are the Palestinians locked down under curfew – as is done on most Jewish holidays?

3) Why, here in Canada, where we are a minority amongst a Christian majority, do we advocate for and support a 'Jewish State' in the Middle East, where the non-Jewish minority are treated as second class citizens?

4) Why should anyone think that just because we say 'next year in Jerusalem' at the end of our Seder, that we had a right to kick others out of their homes so that we could live there?

You see, our generation is different. We are not blind Zionist ideologues. We did not take the lesson of kill or be killed from the stories our grandparents told us about the Holocaust or the anti-Semitism they faced. Alongside our lessons about Zionism and about why the Holocaust meant that Jews need a Jewish state for themselves, we couldn't help but absorb the need to oppose racism, to fight oppression and to not justify the subjugation of one 'people' for the benefit of another.

At first, we may have believed your myths about 'Israel the good', about the Israel Defense Forces being the world's only 'moral' army, and about how it's not Israel but 'the Arabs' who don't want peace. But we have grown up now, and like our Christian peers who come to understand Santa Claus is not real, the growing majority of us have come to see myth of Israel the good as a relic of our childhood Chanukahs.

For those of us who have followed developments in the mainstream Jewish community, we see more to your ranting, too. We see a sick hierarchically organized Jewish community that is not only serving as a smokescreen to allow the ongoing genocide of a people; we also see the twisted irony that you, our parents who claim we need Israel as a safeguard from anti-Semitism, are actually putting us and the rest of World Jewry in danger. By tying our fate (and our children's) to that of the leadership of the dying American empire, you are setting us up as a scapegoat.

Israel is an offshore American army base and the Israeli leadership and its North American lobby are so in bed with the neo-cons that our community will be suffering consequences for years. Even worse, in Canada and the United States, the lobby has deluded itself into actually thinking it controls the hand that feeds it. The lobby happily plays the role of the dirty cop on the beat using underhanded (but not so secret) ways to try and eliminate what it sees as threats to Israel's support, or the lobby`s own domestic power. I'm sure that Harper, Bush, and their corporate masters are not disappointed that the targets the Israel lobby chooses for career or character assassination (in the media, academia, public life, etc.) typically line up with their own. But, what will happen if: Oil prices keep rising? The war in Iraq and Afghanistan keeps failing? Housing foreclosures keep increasing? And world anger at the West keeps growing?

The Jewish community's leadership certainly makes it easy enough to paint a picture that the Jews are behind it; sometimes they even gloat. Will it really be a surprise if, when shit hits the fan, our supposed allies in the US/Canadian elite cut Israel's strings and point the blame at home towards Jews?

Hypotheticals aside, luckily this too is changing! From the disenchanted, once isolated Jews, a new community is rising. Remember the article I wrote on "The Fall of Zionism" last October? Remember how you thought I was a dreamer and that there was no way a threat to the Zionist control of our community could ever take hold? Well, a lot has happened in the past eight months. The kids are coming home! All those 'self-hating' Jews who isolated themselves from the community not because of a dislike for our culture, heritage, or religion, but because they were told to leave after speaking their mind on the oppression of the Palestinian people, are finding each other, organizing, and coming back.

In Canada, for example, there is a new national umbrella organization called the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians (ACJC), which represents Jews who are opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The ACJC was launched in March when internationally renowned author, journalist, keynote speaker and Canadian Jew Naomi Klein kicked off a national conference that brought together over 100 activist Jews representing 23 different Canadian Jewish groups. The purpose of the ACJC is to provide a counterweight to Jewish organizations that serve as apologists for Israel's crimes, such as the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC). The ACJC has since put action to words. Recently, for example, it lent support to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers when it became the first national Union in North America to courageously pass a resolution supporting the Palestinian campaign for a Boycott of Israel, and recognizing that Israel has become an apartheid state.

Likewise, in May the ACJC, along with other anti-occupation Jewish groups across North America and the world, heeded the call of the Palestinian people to declare the 60th anniversary of the Naqba (disaster) as No Time to Celebrate (this is a common slogan being used in protest of Israel's celebrations). Protests were organized worldwide, and in Canada and the United States Jews protested alongside Palestinians and other concerned citizens. In San Francisco, twenty Jews were (unjustly) arrested trying to make themselves heard as Jews opposed to Israel`s crimes. In Britain, over one hundred Jews signed an open letter published in The Guardian, one of the United Kingdom's leading newspapers, declaring they would not celebrate Israel's birthday. In Paris, French Jews hung the Palestinian flag on the Eiffel Tower in protest. Here in Canada's capital of Ottawa, Jews, Palestinians, and other concerned individuals formed a one hundred person-strong

silent protest outside the official Israel celebrations at the Convention Center on May 8th, and then repeated it a few weeks later at another event at the National Arts Center on May 20th. Despite the money and glamour being thrown into making 60 years of Israeli oppression a propaganda campaign to whitewash Israel's crimes, Jews around the world are promising not to celebrate (one US-based online pledge not to celebrate has over 500 Jewish signatures). The actions I am describing did not have millions of dollars for publicity like the official events organized by the Jewish community's elites. Instead, they grew through grassroot networks and traveled by word-of-mouth from committed activist Jew to committed activist Jew. The Jews taking part in these events are the ones who are informed and willing to put themselves on the line to oppose the mainstream Jewish community's official position, and I am growing increasingly confident that their support runs deep.
This letter may sound angry, and at some points it is. It upsets me to hear our Passover conversations, and I won't just quietly roll my eyes anymore. But the reason for that is love and respect. We are forming a new community, with a humanist core that ties us together strongly. Seders are being held that tell the story of the Palestinian enslavement along with that of our own. Events are being held where Jews celebrate Jewish culture from a place that recognizes how our history gives us a responsibility to speak out against oppression. I will continue to celebrate my heritage as part of our family, just like all those supposed 'self-hating' Jews will celebrate with me, as Jews and as part of the Jewish community. We are committed to justice, and through this we are finding our Jewish souls. And when you are ready to join the multitudes of other Jews opposing Israeli oppression, our door will be wide open.

your Young Non-Zionist Kids
your Young Non-Zionist Kids

The Hard Choice Barak Obama and the Fall Into Tyranny


As articles by John Pilger, Alexander Cockburn, and Uri Avnery make clear, by groveling before the Israel Lobby Obama has dispelled any hope that his presidency would make a difference.

Obama told the Lobby that in order to protect Israel he would use all the powers of the presidency to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon. As in the case of Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction," the conclusion whether or not Iran is making a nuclear weapon will be determined by propaganda and not by fact. Therefore, there is no difference between Bush, McCain, Obama, and the Lobby with regard to the Middle East.

As Israel has several hundred nuclear weapons, and a modern air force and missiles supplied by the US, the idea that Israel needs American protection from Iran is a fantasy. All Israel needs to do in order to be safe and to live in peace is to stop stealing the West Bank and to drop its designs on southern Lebanon. Obama is too smart not to know that US foreign policy has been Shanghaied by the Lobby not in order to protect innocent Israel but to enable Israel's territorial expansion.

Obama has dispelled hope on the economic front as well. Obama has appointed two leading apologists for jobs offshoring as his economic advisors--Bill Clinton's Treasury Robert Rubin and Rubin associate Jason Furman. These two are notorious for their justifications of policies that benefit Wall Street, CEOs, and large retailers at the expense of the economic well being and careers of millions of Americans.

As a result of offshoring, good jobs in America are disappearing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics job figures make it totally clear that the US economy has ceased creating net new middle class jobs in the private economy in the 21st century.

Stressing higher returns to shareholders, Wall Street pressures corporations to move their operations abroad. Wal-Mart tells its American suppliers to "meet the Chinese price" or else, a price that US firms can meet only by offshoring their operations to China.

Every job and product that is offshored increases the US trade deficit and lowers US GDP. It is a losing game for America that rewards the overpaid elite of Wall Street and corporate America, while dismantling the ladders of upward mobility.

By enlarging the trade deficit, offshoring erodes the reserve currency role of the dollar, the real basis of US power. Now that US imports exceed US industrial production, it is unlikely that the US trade deficit can be closed except by a sharp reduction in US consumption, which implies a drop in US living standards. If the dollar loses its reserve currency status, the US government will not be able to finance its budget and trade deficits.
Where is the hope when Obama endorses a foreign policy that benefits only Israeli territorial expansion and an economic policy that benefits only multimillionaires and billionaires?

The answer is that Obama's election would signify the electorate's rejection of Bush and the Republicans. Considering the cowardice of the Democratic Congress and its reluctance to hold a criminal regime accountable, electoral defeat is the only accountability that the Bush Republicans are likely to experience.

It is not sufficient accountability, but at least it is some accountability.

If the Republicans win the election and escape accountability, the damage Republicans have done to the US Constitution, civil liberty, and a free society will be irreversible. The Bush Regime and its totalitarians have openly violated US law against spying on Americans without warrants and US and international laws against torture. The regime and its totalitarians have violated the Constitution that they are sworn to uphold. Bush's attorney general Gonzales even asserted to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the US Constitution does not provide habeas corpus protection to American citizens.

When federal courts acted to stop the regime's unconstitutional practices and abuse of prisoners, the Republicans passed legislation to overturn the court rulings. The Republican Party has shown beyond all doubt that it holds the US Constitution in total contempt.

Today the Republican Party stands for unaccountable executive power.

To reelect such a party is to murder liberty in America.

The June 12 Supreme Court decision pulled America back from the abyss of tyranny. For years hundreds of innocent people have been held by the Bush regime without charges, a handful of which were set to be tried in a kangaroo military tribunal in which they could be convicted on the basis of secret evidence and confession extracted by torture.

The Court ruled 5-4 that detainees have the right to appeal to civilian courts for habeas corpus protection. The Bush Republicans claiming "extraordinary times" had created a gestapo system in which the government could accuse, without presenting any evidence, a person of being a threat and on that basis alone imprison him indefinitely. Justice Anthony Kennedy reminded the Republican Brownshirts that "The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."

Bush's current attorney general, Michael Mukassey, said he would proceed with his kangaroo trials.

President Bush indicated that he was inclined to again seek to overturn the Court with a law.

Brownshirt Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he would draft a constitutional amendment to restore the executive branch's tyrannical power.

Republican presidential nominee John McCain said that the Supreme Court decision protecting habeas corpus "is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country."

The four Supreme Court justices (Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas) who voted for tyranny in America are all Republicans. They all came out of the Federalist Society, a highly subversive group of right-wing lawyers who are determined to elevate the powers of the executive branch above Congress and the Supreme Court.

The Republican Party has morphed into a Brownshirt Party. The party worships "energy in the executive." If the Brownshirt Republicans are reelected, they only need one more Supreme Court appointment in order to destroy American liberty.

That is what is at stake in the November election. As bad as Obama is on important issues, his election will signal rejection of the tyranny to which the Republicans are committed.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached

John McCain's Chilling Project for America

by Dr. Elliot Cohen

Global Research, June 15, 2008 - 2008-06-12

John McCain has long been a major player in a radical militaristic group driven by an ideology of global expansionism and dominance attained through perpetual, pre-emptive, unilateral, multiple wars. The credo of this group is "the end justifies the means," and the end of establishing the United States as the world's sole superpower justifies, in its estimation, anything from military control over the information on the Internet to the use of genocidal biological weapons. Over its two terms, the George W. Bush administration has planted the seeds for this geopolitical master plan, and now appears to be counting on the McCain administration, if one comes to power, to nurture it.

The Road Map to War

The blueprint for this "new order" was drafted in February 1992, at the end of the George H.W. Bush administration when Defense Department staffers Paul Wolfowitz, I. Lewis Libby and Zalmay Khalilzad, acting under then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, drafted the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG). This document, also known as the "Wolfowitz Doctrine," was an unofficial, internal document that advocated massive increases in defense spending for purposes of strategic proliferation and buildup of the military in order to establish the pre-eminence of the United States as the world's sole superpower. Advocating pre-emptive attacks with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, it proclaimed that "the U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests." The document was also quite clear about what should be the United States' main objective in the Middle East, especially with regard to Iraq and Iran, which was to "remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region's oil." The Wolfowitz Doctrine was leaked to The New York Times and The Washington Post, which published excerpts from it. Amid a public outcry, President George H.W. Bush retracted the document, and it was substantially revised.

The original mission of the Wolfowitz Doctrine was not lost, however. In 1997, William Kristol and Robert Kagan founded The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a nongovernment political action organization that sought to develop and advocate for the militant, geopolitical tenets contained in the Wolfowitz Doctrine. PNAC's original members included Wolfowitz, Cheney, Khalilzad, Libby, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Donald Rumsfeld, William J. Bennett, and other soon-to-be high officers in the Bush administration.

McCain's Ties to PNAC

John McCain's connection to PNAC can be traced back to before its formation in 1997. In fact, he was president of the New Citizenship Project, founded by Kristol in 1994. This organization was parent to PNAC, and served as its chief fundraising organ.

McCain also worked cooperatively with PNAC and Wolfowitz in attempting to overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. In 1998, he co-sponsored the Iraq Liberation Act—drafted by PNAC—which decreed "regime change" in Iraq to be U.S. policy, and which appropriated $97 million in U.S. military aid to the Iraqi National Congress (INC). The INC was a group of anti-Hussein Iraqi militants whose purpose was to instigate a national uprising against Hussein. It was led by Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi informant whose subsequent faulty intelligence—claims that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaida—was used to sell the Iraq war to the American public. In 2004, in response to accusations that he deliberately misled U.S. intelligence agencies, Chalabi glibly stated, "We are heroes in error."

McCain also was co-chair (with Sen. Joseph Lieberman) of The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI). Established by PNAC in late 2002, this committee continued to finance Chalabi's INC with millions of taxpayer dollars, until shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, when it was discontinued. In 2004, McCain became a signatory of PNAC, ironically signing on to a PNAC letter condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin's foreign policy for its return to the "rhetoric of militarism and empire."

McCain has accordingly been a foot soldier for PNAC from its inception, and, although this organization is no longer in existence, its ideology and its signatories (many of whom now serve as advisers to the McCain presidential campaign) are still very much active.

The Master Plan

In September 2000, prior to the presidential election that year, PNAC carefully formulated its chief tenets in a document called Rebuilding America's Defenses (RAD). This document, which was intended to guide the incoming administration, had a substantial influence on the policies set by the Bush administration and is likely to do the same for a McCain administration if McCain becomes president. Here are some of the recommendations of the RAD report:

Fighting and winning multiple, simultaneous major wars

Among its core missions was the rebuilding of America's defenses sufficient to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars." And it explicitly advocated sending troops into Iraq regardless of whether Saddam Hussein was in power. According to RAD, "While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

The RAD report also admonished, "Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has. And even should U.S.-Iranian relations improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would still be an essential element in U.S. security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region." Therefore, it had both Iraq and Iran in its sight as zones of multiple, simultaneous major wars for purposes of advancing "longstanding American interests in the region"—in particular, its oil.

McCain's recent chanting of "bomb, bomb, bomb; bomb, bomb Iran" to the beat of an old Beach Boys tune, his suggestion that the war with Iraq might last 100 years and his recent statement that the war in Afghanistan might also last 100 years—all of these pronouncements are clearly in concert with the PNAC mission to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars."

RAD also stressed the need to have additional forces equipped to handle ongoing "constabulary" duties such as enforcement of no-fly zones and other operations that fell short of full theater wars. It claimed that unless the military was so equipped, its ability to fight and win multiple, simultaneous wars would be impaired. Along these same lines, McCain has recently stated, ''It's time to end the disingenuous practice of stating that we have a two-war strategy when we are paying for only a one-war military. Either we must change our strategy—and accept the risks—or we must properly fund and structure our military.''

Designing and deploying global missile defense systems

RAD also emphasized, as an additional core value, the need to "transform U.S. forces to exploit the 'revolution in military affairs.' " This included the design and deployment of a global ballistic missile defense system consisting of land-, sea-, air- and space-based components said to be capable of shielding the U.S. and its allies from "limited strikes" in the future by "rogue" nations such as Iraq, North Korea and Iran.

Along these lines, McCain has maintained that a ballistic missile defense system was "indispensable"—even if this meant reneging on the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 at the expense of angering the Russians. Unfortunately, while RAD acknowledged the "limited" efficacy of such a weapons system (presumably because it cannot realistically provide a bulletproof shield, especially against large-scale missile attacks), neither it nor McCain addressed the problem that deployment of such a system could be destabilizing: It could encourage escalation, instead of de-escalation, of ballistic missile arsenals by nations that fear becoming sitting ducks, and might even provoke a pre-emptive strike. Further, there is still the question of whether the creation of such costly, national defense shields is even technologically feasible.

The use of genocidal biological warfare for political expediency

Not only did RAD advocate the design and deployment of defensive weaponry, it also stressed the updating of conventional offensive weapons including cruise missiles along with stealthy strike aircraft and longer-range Air Force strike aircraft. But it went further in its offensive posture by envisioning and supporting the use of genotype-specific biological warfare. According to RAD, "… advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool." In this chilling statement, a double standard is evident. In the hands of al-Qaida, such genocidal weapons would belong to "the realm of terror," but in those of the U.S., they would be "politically useful tools."

Rejection of the United Nations

PNAC's double standard is also inherent in its rejection of the idea of a cooperative, neutral effort among the nations of the world to address world problems, including the problem of Iraq. "Nor can the United States assume a UN-like stance of neutrality," states the RAD report. "The preponderance of American power is so great and its global interests so wide that it cannot pretend to be indifferent to the political outcome in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf or even when it deploys forces in Africa. Finally, these missions demand forces basically configured for combat." Accordingly, a McCain administration founded on a PNAC platform of self-interested exercise of force would oppose giving the United Nations any central role in setting and implementing foreign affairs policy.

Control of space and cyberspace

PNAC's quest for global domination transcends any literal meaning of the geopolitical, and extends also to the control, rather than the sharing, of outer space. It also has serious implications for cyber freedom. Thus the RAD report states, "Much as control of the high seas—and the protection of international commerce—defined global powers in the past, so will control of the new 'international commons' be a key to world power in the future. An America incapable of protecting its interests or that of its allies in space or the 'infosphere' will find it difficult to exert global political leadership. ... Access to and use of cyberspace and the Internet are emerging elements in global commerce, politics and power. Any nation wishing to assert itself globally must take account of this other new 'global commons.' "

There is a difference between protecting the Internet from a cyber attack and controlling it. The former is defensive while the latter is offensive. But RAD also advocated going on the offensive. It stated that "an offensive capability could offer America's military and political leaders an invaluable tool in disabling an adversary in a decisive manner."

However, state control of cyberspace for political purposes can have serious implications for the Fourth Amendment right to privacy. The Bush administration has already engaged in mass illegal spying on the phone and e-mail messages of millions of Americans through its National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program. As a result of copying these messages and depositing them into an NSA computer database, it began to assemble a massive "Total Information Awareness" computer network. The FBI has also begun to develop and integrate such personal data with a biometric database that includes digital iris prints and facial images. Combine this with other computerized databases including credit card information, banking records and health files, and the result is an incredible ability to exercise power and control over anyone deemed by a political leader to be an "adversary"—including journalists, political opponents and others who might not see eye to eye with the administration.

In concert with the PNAC mission of control over cyberspace, McCain has supported making warrantless spying on American citizens legal. When asked if he believed that Bush's warrantless surveillance program was legal, McCain responded, "You know, I don't think so, but why not come to Congress? We can sort this out. ... I think they will get that authority, whatever is reasonable and needed, and increased abilities to monitor communications are clearly in order."

Consistent with his conviction that such extended powers should be granted to the president, McCain has also recently voted for Senate Bill S.2248, which vacates substantial civil liberties protections included in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In contrast to the 1978 FISA, S.2248 would allow the president, acting through the attorney general, to spy on the phone and e-mail communications of Americans without individual court warrants or the need to judicially show probable cause.

Despite the fact that McCain has said that Bush's NSA spying program was not legal, he has also supported granting retroactive legal immunity to the telecommunication companies (such as AT&T and Verizon) that helped Bush illegally spy on millions of Americans. This means that he has openly admitted that the Bush administration acted unlawfully in eavesdropping on Americans' phone and e-mail messages, while at the same time opted for taking away their legal right to redress this violation. And this unequivocally means that McCain is prepared to allow executive authority to trump the rule of law.

Meet the McCain Team

Given John McCain's firm allegiance to the core missions of PNAC, it should come as no surprise that many of the old PNAC guard have shown up as foreign policy advisers in McCain's current presidential campaign, and are likely re-emerge as high officials in his administration if he becomes president. Here are snapshots of some of these potential members of a McCain Cabinet, giving their PNAC profiles, their advisory capacities in the McCain 2008 presidential campaign, and their politics.

William Kristol
Editor and founder of Washington-based political magazine, Weekly Standard.
PNAC co-founder.
Foreign policy adviser.
Has consistently been wrong in his foreign policy analyses regarding Iraq. For example, on March 5, 2003, he stated, "I think we'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction and when we liberate the people of Iraq."

Robert Kagan
Served in State Department in Reagan administration on Policy Planning Staff.
PNAC co-founder.
Foreign policy adviser.
Has defended global expansionism by claiming it is an American tradition: "Americans' belief in the possibility of global transformation—the 'messianic' impulse—is and always has been the more dominant strain in the nation's character."

Randy Scheunemann
Former adviser to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Co-director and executive director of Committee for Liberation of Iraq.
Defense and foreign policy coordinator.
With regard to recent National Intelligence Estimate finding that Iran discontinued its nuclear weapons program in 2003, stated "a careful reading of the NIE indicates that it is misleading." And he claimed that the NIE harmed our efforts to achieve a "greater diplomatic consensus" to crack down on Iran.

James Woolsey
Director of CIA, Clinton administration, 1993-1995. (Reported to have met only twice with Clinton during time as CIA chief.)
PNAC signatory.
Energy and national security adviser.
Speaking to a group of college students in 2003 about Iraq, he stated that "… the United States is engaged in World War IV." Described the Cold War as the third world war. Then said, "This fourth world war, I think, will last considerably longer than either World Wars I or II did for us. Hopefully not the full four-plus decades of the Cold War."

John R. Bolton
Former U.S. ambassador to U.N. (Nomination to U.N. rejected by Senate, but George W. Bush put him in place on a recess appointment. Name floated for possible secretary of state for McCain.
PNAC director.
Ardent supporter of McCain for president in 2009.
Publicly derided the United Nations: In 1994, he stated "there is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that's the United States, when it suits our interest, and when we can get others to go along." Advocates attacking Iran.

Robert B. Zollick
President, World Bank.
PNAC signatory.
Announced in 2006 he would be joining McCain presidential campaign for domestic and foreign policy but instead replaced Wolfowitz as president of World Bank in 2007.
Has touted virtues of corporate globalization under the rubric of "comprehensive free trade." But as Kevin Watkins, head researcher for Oxfan, stated, he pays no heed to the effects of the "blind pursuit of US economic and corporate special interests" on the world's poor.

Gary Schmitt
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (home to other PNAC members including Wolfowitz and Pearle.)
PNAC director.
Foreign policy adviser.
Defended warrantless eavesdropping on Americans by claiming that Constitution "created a unitary chief executive. That chief executive could, in times of war or emergency, act with the decisiveness, dispatch and, yes, secrecy, needed to protect the country and its citizens."

Richard L. Armitage
Former deputy secretary of state in George W. Bush administration.
PNAC signatory.
Foreign policy adviser.
By his own admission, was responsible for leaking CIA agent Valerie Plame's CIA identity to the press. Allegedly involved in Iran-Contra affair during Reagan administration.

Max Boot
Council on Foreign Relations.
PNAC signatory.
Foreign policy adviser.
Stating that U.S. should "unambiguously ... embrace its imperial role," has advocated attacking other Middle East countries in addition to Iraq and Iran, including Syria. Said McCain's "bellicose aura" could "scare the snot out of our enemies," who "would be more afraid to mess with him" than with other then-potential presidential candidates.

Henry A. Kissinger
President Nixon's secretary of state.
Embraces expansionist power politics.
Played major role in secret bombings of Cambodia during Nixon administration as well as having had alleged involvement in covert assassination plots and human rights violations in Latin America.

What's in Store for Us if McCain Becomes President

That McCain has surrounded himself with such like-minded advisers who support the narrow PNAC agenda speaks to his unwillingness to hear and consider alternative perspectives. In fact, six out of 10 civilian foreign advisers to McCain are PNAC veterans. Even the newly appointed deputy communications director of the McCain campaign, Michael Goldfard, has been a research associate for PNAC. A die-hard adherent of the "unitary authority" of the chief executive, he recently stated that the framers of the United States Constitution advocated an "executive with near dictatorial power in pursuing foreign policy and war."

Add to this list other major PNAC figures such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Dick Cheney who would probably play a significant role in a McCain administration and it is clear in what direction this nation would be moving.

A McCain administration would be likely to:

· Invest incredible amounts of money in sustaining multiple, simultaneous wars overseas at the expense of neglecting pressing concerns at home, including the economy, health care, the environment and education.

· Stockpile nuclear weapons, while seeking to prohibit its adversaries from having them.

· Attempt to shield the U.S. with a multilayered missile defense system based on land, at sea, in the air and in space, while demanding that nations that are not its allies become sitting ducks.

· Strive to develop more potent chemical and biological weapons—not to mention the genotype-specific variety, while at the same time claiming to be fighting a "war on terror."

· Legalize "Total Information Awareness"—going through all Americans' phone calls, e-mail messages and other personal records without needing probable cause.

· Take control of the Internet, globally using it as an offensive political weapon—while claiming to be spreading democracy throughout the world.

· Dispense with checks and balances in favor of the "unitary executive authority" of the president.

· Alienate nations that refuse to join our war coalitions.

· Deny that there is (or can be) a United Nations.

A McCain administration would rule by fear, perceive right in terms of military might and subscribe to the idea of "do as I say and not as I do." As a consequence, instead of rebuilding the image of America as a model of justice and civility, it would further sully respect for this nation throughout the world.

Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., is a political analyst and media critic. His most recent book is "The Last Days of Democracy: How Big Media and Power-Hungry Government Are Turning America Into a Dictatorship." He was first-prize winner of the 2007 Project Censored Award.

The First Step Toward Lasting Peace? An Apology By URI AVNERY

"I BELIEVE that peace between us and the Palestinian people - a real peace, based on real conciliation - starts with an apology." No, Uri Avnery. It does not start with an apology--whatever that means--it ends with an apology, but after the full restoration of rights, the liberation of occupied lands, and the return AND compensation of all Palestinian refugees. Apology? Give me a...potato.

THIS WEEK, the Prime Minister of Canada made a dramatic statement in Parliament: he apologized to the indigenous peoples of his country for the injustices done to them for generations by successive Canadian governments.

This way, White Canada tries to make peace with the native nations, whose country their forefathers conquered and whose culture their rulers have tried to wipe out.

APOLOGIZING FOR past wrongs has become a part of modern political culture.

That is never an easy thing to do. Cynics might say: nothing to it. Just words. And words, after all, are a cheap commodity. But in fact, such acts have a profound significance. A human being - and even more so, a whole nation - always finds it hard to admit to iniquities performed and to atrocities committed. It means a rewriting of the historical narrative that forms the basis of their national cohesion. It necessitates a drastic change in the schoolbooks and in the national outlook. In general, governments are averse to this, because of the nationalistic demagogues and hate-mongers who infest every country.

The President of France has apologized on behalf of his people for the misdeeds of the Vichy regime, which turned Jews over to the Nazi exterminators. The Czech government has apologized to the Germans for the mass expulsion of the German population at the end of World War II. Germany, of course, has apologized to the Jews for the unspeakable crimes of the Holocaust. Quite recently, the government of Australia has apologized to the Aborigines. And even in Israel, a feeble effort was made to heal a grievous domestic wound, when Ehud Barak apologized to the Oriental Jews for the discrimination they have suffered for many years.

But we face a much more difficult and complex problem. It concerns the roots of our national existence in Israel.

I BELIEVE that peace between us and the Palestinian people - a real peace, based on real conciliation - starts with an apology.

In my mind's eye I see the President of the State or the Prime Minister addressing a special extraordinary session of the Knesset and making a historic speech on the following lines:

MADAM SPEAKER, Honorable Knesset,

On behalf of the State of Israel and all its citizens, I address today the sons and daughters of the Palestinian people, wherever they are.

We recognize the fact that we have committed against you a historic injustice, and we humbly ask your forgiveness.

When the Zionist movement decided to establish a national home in this country, which we call Eretz Yisrael and you call Filastin, it had no intention of building our state on the ruins of another people. Indeed, almost no one in the Zionist movement had ever been in the country before the first Zionist Congress in 1897, or even had any idea about the actual situation here.

The burning desire of the founding fathers of this movement was to save the Jews of Europe, where the dark clouds of hatred for the Jews were gathering. In Eastern Europe, pogroms were raging, and all over Europe there were signs of the process that would eventually lead to the terrible Holocaust, in which six million Jews perished.

This basic aim attached itself to the profound devotion of the Jews, throughout the generations, to the country in which the Bible, the defining text of our people, was written, and to the city of Jerusalem, towards which the Jews have turned for thousands of years in their prayers.

The Zionist founders who came to this country were pioneers who carried in their hearts the most lofty ideals. They believed in national liberation, freedom, justice and equality. We are proud of them. They certainly did not dream of committing an injustice of historic dimensions.

ALL THIS does not justify what happened afterwards. The creation of the Jewish national home in this country has involved a profound injustice to you, the people who lived here for generations.

We cannot ignore anymore the fact that in the war of 1948 - which is the War of Independence for us, and the Naqba for you - some 750 thousand Palestinians were compelled to leave their homes and lands. As for the precise circumstances of this tragedy I propose the establishment of a "Committee for Truth and Reconciliation"' composed of experts from your and from our side, whose conclusions will from then on be incorporated in the schoolbooks, yours and ours.

We cannot ignore anymore the fact that for 60 years of conflict and war, you have been prevented from realizing your natural right to independence in your own free national state, a right confirmed by the United Nations General Assembly resolution of November 29, 1947, which also formed the legal basis for the establishment of the State of Israel.

For all this, we owe you an apology, and I express it hereby with all my heart.

The Bible tells us: "Whoso confesseth (his crimes) and forsakes them shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). Clearly, confession does not suffice. We have also to forsake the wrongs we have done in the past.

It is impossible to turn the wheel of history back and restore the situation that existed in the country in 1947, much as Canada - or the United States, for that matter - cannot go back 200 years. We must build our common future on the joint desire to move forwards, to heal what can be healed and repair what can be repaired without inflicting new wounds, committing new injustices and causing more human tragedies.

I urge you to accept our apology in the spirit in which it is offered. Let us work together for a just, viable and practical solution of our century-old conflict - a solution that may not fulfill all justified aspirations nor right all wrongs, but which will allow both our peoples to live their lives in freedom, peace and prosperity.

This solution is clear for all to see. We all know what it is. It has emerged from our painful experiences, hammered out by the lessons of our sufferings, crystallized by the exertions of the best of our minds - yours as well as ours.

This solution means, simply: You have the same rights as we. We have the same rights as you: to live in a state of our own, under our own flag, governed by laws of our own making, ruled by a government freely elected by ourselves - hopefully a good one.

One of the fundamental commandments of our religion - as of yours and every other - was pronounced 2000 years ago by Rabbi Hillel: Do not unto others, what you do not want others to do to you.

This means in practice: your right to establish at once the free and sovereign State of Palestine in all the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, which will be accepted as a full member of the United Nations.

The borders of June 4, 1967, will be restored. I hope that we can agree, in free negotiations, to minimal exchanges of territory beneficial to both sides.

Jerusalem, which is so dear to all of us, must be the capital of both our states - West Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, the capital of Israel, East Jerusalem, including al-Haram al-Sharif, which we call the Temple Mount, the capital of Palestine. What is Arab shall be yours, what is Jewish shall be ours. Let us work together to keep the city, as a living reality, open and united.

We shall evacuate the Israeli settlements, which have caused so much suffering and iniquities to you, and bring the settlers home, except from those small areas which will be joined to Israel in the framework of freely agreed swaps of territory. We shall also dismantle all the paraphernalia of the occupation, both physical and institutional.

We must approach with open hearts, compassion and common sense, the task of finding a just and viable solution for the terrible tragedy of the refugees and their decendants. Each refugee family must be granted a free choice between the various solutions: repatriation and resettlement in the State of Palestine, with generous assistance; staying where they are or emigration to any country of their choice, also with generous assistance; and yes - coming back to the territory of Israel in acceptable numbers, agreed by us. The refugees themselves must be a full partner in all our efforts.

I trust that our two states - Israel and Palestine, living side by side in this beloved but small country, will quickly come together on the human, social, economic, technological and cultural levels, creating a relationship that will not only guarantee our security, but also rapid development and prosperity for all.

Together we will work for peace and prosperity throughout our region, based on close relations with all the countries of the area.

Committed to peace and vowing to create a better future for our children and grandchildren, let us rise to our feet and bow our heads in memory of the countless victims of our conflict, Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians - a conflict that has lasted far too long.

SUCH A SPEECH is, to my mind, absolutely essential for opening a new chapter in the history of this country.

In decades of meeting with Palestinians of all walks of life, I have come to the conclusion that the emotional aspects of the conflict are no less - and perhaps even more - important than the political ones. A profound sense of injustice permeates the minds and actions of all Palestinians. Unconscious or half-conscious guilt feelings are troubling the souls of the Israelis, creating a deep conviction that Arabs will never make peace with us.

I do not know when such a speech will be possible. Many imponderable factors will have an impact on that. But I do know that without it, mere peace agreements, reached between haggling diplomats, will not suffice. As the Oslo agreements have shown, building an artificial island in a sea of stormy emotions just will not do.

THE PUBLIC apology by the Canadian Prime Minister is not the only thing we can learn from that North American country.

43 years ago, the Canadian government took an extraordinary step in order to make peace between the English-speaking majority and the French-speaking minority among their citizens. That relationship had remained an open wound from the time the British conquered French Canada some 250 years ago. It was decided to replace the Canadian national flag, which was based on the British "Union Jack", with a completely new national flag, featuring the maple leaf.

On this occasion, the Speaker of the Senate said: "The flag is the symbol of the nation's unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion."

We can learn something from that, too.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch's book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

U.S. abuse of detainees was routine at Afghanistan bases

U.S. abuse of detainees was routine at Afghanistan bases

This picture ( ) from a U.S. court martial file, drawn by military polygraph examiner George Chigi III, shows how Afghan detainee Dilawar was shackled by his wrists to the ceiling of an isolation cell at Bagram Air Base before being beaten to death in December 2002.

By Tom Lasseter | McClatchy Newspapers

KABUL, Afghanistan — American soldiers herded the detainees into holding pens of razor-sharp concertina wire, the kind that's used to corral livestock.

The guards kicked, kneed and punched many of the men until they collapsed in pain. U.S. troops shackled and dragged other detainees to small isolation rooms, then hung them by their wrists from chains dangling from the wire mesh ceiling.

Former guards and detainees whom McClatchy interviewed said Bagram was a center of systematic brutality for at least 20 months, starting in late 2001. Yet the soldiers responsible have escaped serious punishment.

The public outcry in the United States and abroad has focused on detainee abuse at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, but sadistic violence first appeared at Bagram, north of Kabul, and at a similar U.S. internment camp at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan.

"I was punched and kicked at Bagram. ... At Bagram, when they took a man to interrogation at night, the next morning we would see him brought out on a stretcher looking almost dead," said Aminullah, an Afghan who was held there for a little more than three months. "But at Guantanamo, there were rules, there was law."

Nazar Chaman Gul, an Afghan who was held at Bagram for more than three months in 2003, said he was beaten about every five days. American soldiers would walk into the pen where he slept on the floor and ram their combat boots into his back and stomach, Gul said. "Two or three of them would come in suddenly, tie my hands and beat me," he said.
When the kicking started, Gul said, he'd cry out, "I am not a terrorist," then beg God for mercy. Mercy was slow in coming. He was shipped to Guantanamo around the late summer of 2003 and imprisoned there for more than three years.

According to Afghan officials and a review of his case, Gul wasn't a member of al Qaida or of the extremist Taliban regime that ran Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. At the time he was detained, he was working as a fuel depot guard for the U.S.-backed Afghan government.

When U.S. soldiers raided the house he was visiting, acting on a tip from a tribal rival who was seeking revenge against another man, they apparently confused Gul with a militant with a similar name — who was also imprisoned at Guantanamo, according to an Afghan intelligence official and Gul's American lawyer.

The eight-month McClatchy investigation found a pattern of abuse that continued for years. The abuse of detainees at Bagram has been reported by U.S. media organizations, in particular The New York Times, which broke several developments in the story. But the extent of the mistreatment, and that it eclipsed the alleged abuse at Guantanamo, hasn't previously been revealed.

Guards said they routinely beat their prisoners to retaliate for al Qaida's 9-11 attacks, unaware that the vast majority of the detainees had little or no connection to al Qaida.

Former detainees at Bagram and Kandahar said they were beaten regularly. Of the 41 former Bagram detainees whom McClatchy interviewed, 28 said that guards or interrogators had assaulted them. Only eight of those men said they were beaten at Guantanamo Bay.

Because President Bush loosened or eliminated the rules governing the treatment of so-called enemy combatants, however, few U.S. troops have been disciplined under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and no serious punishments have been administered, even in the cases of two detainees who died after American guards beat them.
In an effort to assemble as complete a picture as possible of U.S. detention practices, McClatchy reporters interviewed 66 former detainees, double-checked key elements of their accounts, spoke with U.S. soldiers who'd served as detention camp guards and reviewed thousands of pages of records from Army courts-martial and human rights reports.

The Bush administration refuses to release full records of detainee treatment in the war on terrorism, and no senior Bush administration official would agree to an on-the-record interview to discuss McClatchy's findings.

The most violent of the major U.S. detention centers, the McClatchy investigation found, was Bagram, an old Soviet airstrip about 30 miles outside Kabul. The worst period at Bagram was the seven months from the summer of 2002 to spring of 2003, when interrogators there used techniques that when repeated later at Abu Ghraib led to wholesale abuses.

New detainees were shoved to the floor of a cavernous warehouse, a former Soviet aircraft machine shop that stayed dim all day, and kept in pens where they weren't allowed to speak or look at guards.

The Afghan government initially based a group of intelligence officers at Bagram, but they were pushed out. Mohammed Arif Sarwari, the head of Afghanistan's national security directorate from late 2001 to 2003, said he got a letter from U.S. commanders in mid-2002 telling him to get his men out of Bagram.

Sarwari thought that was a bad sign: The Americans, he thought, were creating an island with no one to watch over them.

"I said I didn't want to be involved with what they were doing at Bagram — who they were arresting or what they were doing with them," he said in an interview in Kabul.

The rate of reported abuse was higher among men who were held at the U.S. camp at Kandahar Airfield. Thirty-two out of 42 men held there whom McClatchy interviewed claimed that they were knocked to the ground or slapped about. But former detainees said the violence at Bagram was much harsher.
The brutality at Bagram peaked in December 2002, when U.S. soldiers beat two Afghan detainees, Habibullah and Dilawar, to death as they hung by their wrists.

Dilawar died on Dec. 10, seven days after Habibullah died. He'd been hit in his leg so many times that the tissue was "falling apart" and had "basically been pulpified," said then-Lt. Col. Elizabeth Rouse, the Air Force medical examiner who performed the autopsy on him.

Had Dilawar lived, Rouse said in sworn testimony, "I believe the injury to the legs are so extensive that it would have required amputation."

After Habibullah died, a legal officer for U.S. forces in Afghanistan asked two military police guards at Bagram to demonstrate how they'd chained detainees' wrists above their heads in a small plywood isolation cell.

"Frankly, it didn't look good," Maj. Jeff Bovarnick, the legal adviser for the Bagram detention center from November 2002 to June 2003, said during a military investigation hearing in June 2005.

"This guy is chained up and has a hood on his head," Bovarnick continued. "The two MPs that were demonstrating this took about five minutes to get everything hook(ed) up; and I was thinking to myself, if this was a combative detainee, it must have been a real struggle for them to get him to comply, and the things they must have been doing to make him comply."

The only American officer who's been reprimanded for the deaths of Habibullah and Dilawar is Army Capt. Christopher Beiring, who commanded the 377th Military Police Company from the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2003.
Beiring told investigators that he'd received no formal training in leading a military police company, "just the correspondence courses and on-the-job training."

Then-Lt. Col. Thomas S. Berg, the Army lawyer who investigated Beiring in the deaths of Habibullah and Dilawar, argued that: "The government failed to present any evidence of what are 'approved tactics, techniques and procedures in detainee operations.' "

On Berg's recommendation, the charges against Beiring were dropped, and he was given a letter of reprimand.

"It's extremely hard to wage war with so many undefined rules and roles," Beiring said in a phone interview with McClatchy. "It was very crazy."

The commander of the military intelligence section that worked alongside Beiring's military police company at Bagram, Capt. Carolyn Wood, declined to comment.

The soldier who faced the most serious charges, Spc. Willie Brand, admitted that he hit Dilawar about 37 times, including some 30 times in the flesh around the knees during one session in an isolation cell.

Brand, who faced up to 11 years in prison, was reduced in rank to private — his only punishment — after he was found guilty of assaulting and maiming Dilawar.


U.S. soldiers' testimony in military investigations after the deaths of Habibullah and Dilawar suggested that detainee abuse at Bagram occurred from the summer of 2002 to spring of 2003, a period of about seven months.

Soldiers who served at Bagram before that time said detainees were never beaten. Col. Matthew Bogdanos, a Marine Reserves officer who worked there from December 2001 to April 2002, said in an interview that none of the soldiers or American operatives he knew had resorted to abusing detainees.
An Army interrogator who was based at Bagram in the spring of 2002 and later wrote a book under the pseudonym of Chris Mackey for security reasons, said in an e-mail exchange that while soldiers pushed the limits — such as using stress positions and sleep deprivation — he never saw or heard of detainees getting beaten.

Former detainees interviewed by McClatchy and by some human rights groups, however, claimed that the violence was rampant from late 2001 until the summer of 2003 or later, at least 20 months.

Although they were at Bagram at different times and speak different languages, the 28 former detainees who told McClatchy that they'd been abused there told strikingly similar stories:

Bashir Ahmad, a Pakistani who fought with the Taliban, said that in the late spring or summer of 2003, U.S. troops would chain him to the ceiling by his hands or feet. "Then they would punch me or hit me with a wood rod," he said.
Brahim Yadel, a French citizen, said he was punched and slapped during interrogations at Bagram in December 2001.
Moazzem Begg, a British citizen, said he was assaulted regularly at Bagram for most of 2002, until he was transferred to Guantanamo in January 2003.
Akhtar Mohammed, an Afghan, said that at Bagram during the spring of 2003, "when they moved me to the interrogation room they covered my eyes, and took me up steep stairs. I always fell on the ground. And when I fell down, they punched and kicked me."
Abdul Haleem, a Pakistani, said that U.S. soldiers threw him to the ground at Bagram in 2003 and kicked him in the head, "like they were playing soccer."
Adel al Zamel, a Kuwaiti, said guards frequently waved sticks at him and threatened to rape him at Bagram during the spring of 2002. During an interview in Kuwait City, Zamel shook his head and said he remembered hearing detainees being beaten and "the cries from the interrogation room" at Bagram.
He wasn't the only person to report sexual humiliation.

Sgt. Selena Salcedo, a U.S. military intelligence officer, said that sometime between August 2002 and February 2003 she saw another interrogator, Pfc. Damien Corsetti, pull down the pants of a detainee and leave his genitals exposed.

In a 2005 sworn statement in the court-martial of Corsetti, she said she'd left the room and that when she'd returned the detainee was bent over a table and Corsetti was waving a plastic bottle near his buttocks. She said she didn't know whether the detainee had been raped.

Corsetti was acquitted of any wrongdoing. He didn't respond to a request for comment submitted through his attorney. Salcedo pleaded guilty to kicking a detainee — Dilawar — and grabbing his ears during a December 2002 interrogation.
Soldiers who served at Bagram starting in the summer of 2002 confirmed that detainees there were struck routinely.

"Whether they got in trouble or not, everybody struck a detainee at some point," said Brian Cammack, a former specialist with the 377th Military Police Company, an Army Reserve unit from Cincinnati. He was sentenced to three months in military confinement and a dishonorable discharge for hitting Habibullah.

Spc. Jeremy Callaway, who admitted to striking about 12 detainees at Bagram, told military investigators in sworn testimony that he was uncomfortable following orders to "mentally and physically break the detainees." He didn't go into detail.

"I guess you can call it torture," said Callaway, who served in the 377th from August 2002 to January 2003.

Many human rights experts say the U.S. military began cracking down on detainee abuse at Bagram in 2004, in response to the public outcry over pictures of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.


Asked why someone would abuse a detainee, Callaway told military investigators: "Retribution for September 11, 2001."

When detainees first had their hoods removed on arriving at Bagram, looming behind them was a large American flag and insignia of the New York Police Department, a reminder of Sept. 11.

Almost none of the detainees at Bagram, however, had anything to do with the terrorist attacks.

Bovarnick, the former chief legal officer for operational law in Afghanistan and Bagram legal adviser, said in a sworn statement that of some 500 detainees he knew of who'd passed through Bagram, only about 10 were high-value targets, the military's term for senior terrorist operatives.
That hardly mattered.

Khaled al Asmr, a tall, gaunt Jordanian, was hauled off a U.S. military cargo plane at Bagram in early 2002. Flown in from Pakistan in heavy shackles and with a hood on his head, he was accused of being an al Qaida operative with possible connections to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Standing in an interrogation room, Asmr said, he'd already been punched in the face several times by American guards. Two Americans walked into the room, wearing civilian clothes. They pulled out pistols and held them to either side of his head as a third American man entered and walked up to Asmr, according to his account.

The third man leaned toward Asmr's face and whispered, his breath warm, "I am here to save you from these people, but you must tell me you are al Qaida."

Asmr, who told his story to a McClatchy reporter in Jordan, was declared no longer an enemy combatant after a 2004 U.S. military tribunal at Guantanamo. He said he'd known some al Qaida leaders, but that was more than 15 years earlier, during the U.S.-backed Afghan uprising against the Soviets.

Nazar Gul was of even less intelligence value. None of the Afghan security or intelligence officials whom McClatchy interviewed said they'd heard of Gul, making it unlikely that he was the dangerous insurgent the U.S. said he was.

Gul's American attorney, Ruben L. Iniguez, went to Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2006 to check the details of his story of working as a guard for the Afghan government, and later said in sworn court filings — which included videotaped testimony by witnesses — and in an interview with McClatchy that every fact checked out.

The mistreatment of detainees at Bagram, some legal experts said, may have been a violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention on prisoners of war, which forbids violence against or humiliating treatment of detainees.

The U.S. War Crimes Act of 1996 imposes penalties up to death for such mistreatment.

At Bagram, however, the rules didn't apply. In February 2002, President Bush issued an order denying suspected Taliban and al Qaida detainees prisoner-of-war status. He also denied them basic Geneva protections known as Common Article Three, which sets a minimum standard for humane treatment.

Without those parameters, it's difficult to say what acts were or were not war crimes, said Charles Garraway, a former colonel and legal adviser for the British army and a leading international expert on military law.

Bush's order made it hard to prosecute soldiers for breaking such rules under the military's basic law, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, in large part because defense attorneys could claim that troops on the ground didn't know what was allowed.

In sweeping aside Common Article Three, the Bush administration created an environment in which abuse such as that at Bagram was more likely, said Garraway, a former professor at the U.S. Naval War College.

"I think it's completely predictable, because you no longer have standards," he said.

In 2006, Bush pushed Congress to narrow the definition of a war crime under the War Crimes Act, making prosecution even more difficult.


The military police at Bagram had guidelines, Army Regulation 190-47, telling them they couldn't chain prisoners to doors or to the ceiling. They also had Army Regulation 190-8, which said that humiliating detainees wasn't allowed.
Neither was applicable at Bagram, however, said Bovarnick, the former senior legal officer for the installation.

The military police rulebook saying that enemy prisoners of war should be treated humanely didn't apply, he said, because the detainees weren't prisoners of war, according to the Bush administration's decision to withhold Geneva Convention protections from suspected Taliban and al Qaida detainees.

The military police guide for the Army correctional system, which prohibits "securing a prisoner to a fixed object, except in emergencies," wasn't applicable, either, because Bagram wasn't a correctional facility, Bovarnick told investigators in 2004.

"I do not believe there is a document anywhere which states that ... either regulation applies, and there is clear guidance by the secretary of defense that detainees were not EPWs," enemy prisoners of war, Bovarnick said.

Compounding the problem, military police guards and interrogators lacked proper training and received little instruction from commanders about how to do their jobs, according to sworn testimony taken during military investigations and interviews by McClatchy.

The guards who worked there from the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2003 were all reservists from the 377th Military Police Company, based in Cincinnati, and many of the military intelligence interrogators serving at the same time were from the Utah Army National Guard.

Good order and discipline had evaporated.

1st Sgt. Betty Jones said during a 2004 interview with investigators that a fellow military police sergeant and his men on several occasions were "drunk to the point that they could not go to duty."

Salcedo, the military intelligence soldier, said in her statement at Corsetti's court-martial that she and others drank alcohol during their time at Bagram, and at one point smoked hashish on the roof of a building.
Cammack told McClatchy that one of his sergeants drove a John Deere Gator, a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle, to a nearby town and traded with locals for bottles of vodka.

"Really, nobody was in charge ... the leadership did nothing to help us. If we had any questions, it was pretty much 'figure it out on your own,' " Cammack said. "When you asked about protocol they said it's a work in progress."


Senior Pentagon officials refused to be interviewed for this article. In response to a series of questions and interview requests, Col. Gary Keck, a Defense Department spokesman, released this statement:

"The Department of Defense policy is clear — we treat all detainees humanely. The United States operates safe, humane and professional detention operations for unlawful enemy combatants at war with this country."

No U.S. military officer above the rank of captain has been called to account for what happened at Bagram.

The head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan when prisoners were being abused at Bagram, then-Lt. Gen. Dan K. McNeill, declined an interview request. McNeill was later made the commander of all NATO forces in Afghanistan, a post he held until recently.

His predecessor, then-Maj. Gen. Franklin L. "Buster" Hagenbeck, said in an e-mail exchange that from late 2001 to 2002, his attention wasn't on detainee facilities.

"Unfortunately, I have nothing to add to your reporting ... I was focused on battling the Taliban and al Qaida, as well as reconstruction and coordinating with the nascent Afghan government," Hagenbeck wrote. "I do not personally know of any abuses while I was there, and we focused on treating all with dignity and respect — even, and perhaps especially, those persons in our custody."
Hagenbeck is now the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Capt. Carolyn Wood, who led the interrogators at Bagram, was sent to Abu Ghraib in the summer of 2003 and assumed control of interrogation operations there that August.

A military investigation that followed the Abu Ghraib scandal — known as the "Fay-Jones Report" for the two generals who authored it — found that from July 2003 to February of 2004, 27 military intelligence personnel there allegedly encouraged or condoned the abuse of detainees, violated established interrogation procedures or participated in abuse themselves.

The abuse resembled what former Bagram detainees described.

A key factor in serious cases of abuse at Abu Ghraib, the report found, was the construction of isolation areas, a move requested by Wood, who said that "based on her experience" such facilities made it easier to extract information from detainees.

Wood remains an active-duty military intelligence officer.

(Matthew Schofield contributed to this report from Paris and Lyon, France.)