Saturday, October 15, 2005

Interview I did on NECN with Jim Braude - "Who's On First: Iraq"

Here is a video clip of an interview we did Friday afternoon on the eve of the Iraqi Constitutional Election. Go to the link and then press on the title, "Who's On First: Iraq" for a video feed. Here is the lead for the video clip.

(10/14/05 8:59 p.m.) The whole world will be watching Iraq with more scrutiny than usual as voting on the new constitution begins on Saturday. Tonight's guests are Zainab Al-Suwaij, an Iraqi and director of the American Islamic Congress , and Brian Hart, whose son was killed in Iraq while serving his country.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Memorial to flight 92 Posted by Picasa

Baghdad's airport road safer since summer

"BAGHDAD, D.C., Iraq, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The Baghdad Airport road -- 'Route Irish' in U.S. military parlance -- looms large in Western consciousness as one of the most perilous in Iraq. But there hasn't been a car bomb in three months, and the number of smaller, roadside bombs is significantly down as well.

Starting in July, Iraqi special police have set up checkpoints at all the feeders on the road, and American forces have been running aggressive patrols and fencing off areas that are habitually used as attack platforms. But rather than trying just to protect the road itself, they are pushing into the neighboring communities to root out those who lay bombs, fire rocket-propelled grenades and shoot rifles at cars on the road.

A quick glance of the numbers says the approach is working. In April 2004, there were nine attacks along the road, four of them devastating car bombs -- including one that killed American humanitarian aid worker Marla Ruzicka.

In May there were 12, with one car bomb. In June there were 10, with three car bombs. But in July and August there was just one roadside bomb each month, and no car bombs.

Through September 18 there were three roadside bombs and no car bombs."

"Irish has never been as dangerous as people thought," said Maj. Michael Rosamond, the operations officer for the 6-8 Cavalry of the 3rd Infantry Division.

But in one sense, the U.S. military may just be squeezing the balloon.

The increased emphasis on Irish security has pushed attacks north to what the U.S. military calls Route Michigan -- a major supply road. From four and five bombs on Michigan in May and June, respectively, the number shot up to 12, 27 and 13 in July, August and the first part of September.

Nevertheless, the military is pleased with the result.

"What it does show is if you implement necessary security checks to prevent him from bringing materials in, you can defeat (the insurgent)... or make it more dangerous for him," Rosamond said.

Getting Irish under control is vital for both the reality and perception of security in Baghdad; it's the one road that everyone -- and certainly every American -- is going to have to drive on at some point in their time in Baghdad.

The U.S. military has even worked out an elaborately secured road convoy that travels the eight-mile stretch into town at a different time each night -- it is always under cover of night -- with Bradley Fighting Vehicles and helicopter escorts.

It is an excruciatingly slow way to move people, but necessary given the fear that surrounds this stretch of highway and the tremendous public relations impact even one successful attack has.

Pushing the attacks up to Michigan, a less strategically important -- albeit heavily traveled -- road, is the compromise for now. The experiment on Irish, and on the surrounding neighborhoods, tells the 6-8 they know how to nip the attacks on Michigan -- just as soon as more Iraqi special police, or more regular police are deployed to secure those feeder streets as well.

Rosamond only has 130 soldiers available to work on Irish, and their hands are full.

2003. Lauren and Rebecca Posted by Picasa

Lowell Sun Online - From Iraq, soldier seeks war's end

"WASHINGTON -- The flatbed gun truck failed in the desert night, leaving Sgt. Nicholas Pulliam and his freight of cut vehicle armor easing to the Iraq roadside.

The Chelmsford resident was near the end of a 25-truck convoy, following a "slacker" full of fuel, whose tail lights didn't work. The green chemical glow sticks taped to the rig as replacements slowly faded before the whole convoy rumbled to a stop.

"I was not in a safe place and I knew it," Pulliam wrote in an e-mail received by his parents on Saturday.

The convoy, now towing Pulliam's truck, finally reached the restive city of Ramadi, a 35-mile trip that lasted more than three hours. It was received by insurgent gunshots; all seemed to miss, trailing bright tracers.

But Pulliam, a 43-year-old engineer with a law degree, had a bigger breakdown on his mind than an engine mishap: the United States' policy in Iraq.

Yesterday, he called for a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops before September 2006, titling his proposal "Rational Disengagement." He posted it on an Internet blog, an online journal operated by Bedford activist Brian Hart, whose 20-year-old son, Army Pvt. First Class John Hart, was killed nearly two years ago in Iraq during an ambush near Kirkuk. "

“I am just an American citizen-soldier who wants to see an end to this hemorrhaging and get back to my life away from Iraq,” writes Pulliam, who resides on Main Street with his wife, Awilda, and their two children, ages 8 and 10.

“Iraq will have some very hard times to follow our disengagement, but I see this as inevitable anyway so why should we (Americans) continue to bleed only to prolong the pain that is coming,” Pulliam writes. “I don't view this as defeatism, I view it as rationalism.”

In an age where soldiers are increasingly using the Internet to relay instant information about their experiences to spouses, family members and the public, some are going too far, says Lt. Col. Steven Bloyan, an Army communications director in Baghdad who tries to track soldiers' commentary on blogs (Web logs) and newspaper editorials.

Soldiers sometimes are admonished for violating operational security, such as discussing troop movements, or when and how convoys are attacked. The enemy can intercept such information and use it against coalition forces, he said.

But Bloyan and an Army spokeswoman in Washington said they'd never encountered an active-duty soldier proposing troop withdrawals. It could violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which prohibits soldiers from engaging in political discourse while in uniform.

“Most soldiers at the unit level don't have the information at hand to make decisions on policy,” Bloyan said in a telephone interview. “We implement the policy of elected leadership.”

Maj. Elizabeth Robbins in Washington said: “A blog is not significantly different than writing an editorial.

It's not a private communication with one's family members. Blogs are a form of publishing.”

In July, Spc. Leonard A. Clark of the Arizona National Guard was punished for criticizing the war on his blog. He was demoted one rank to private first class, fined $1,640 and sentenced to 45 days restriction and 45 days extra duty.

Robbins described those steps as administrative and nonjudicial punishments. She added that soldiers could face a court-martial in the most severe cases.

But high-profile disciplinary action of troops could be politically tenuous.

“There's a whole new generation of troops deeply concerned about the administration's policy in Iraq, and their voices must not be ignored,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. “Is the White House going to try and silence them?”

Next month, Pulliam will complete his second eight-year commitment in the military, first in the National Guard, then the Army Reserve. He joined in the early 1980s as a way to pay for college, said his parents, Brown and Lois Pulliam of Bedford. He has been serving in Iraq for about a year and his parents expect him to be discharged by early December.

A machinist at Al Taqaddum Air Base near Falluja, Pulliam harbors deep distrust of President Bush and vehemently opposes the war, his father said.

“He thinks it's a crime,” Brown Pulliam said of the war, “and that Bush ought to be impeached.”

His parents are unconcerned about possible disciplinary action, saying such possibilities are friendly compared to the threats of war.

“I don't see how that would be more dangerous,” Lois Pulliam said of military discipline.

She and her husband twice traveled to Washington during the 1960s to protest the Vietnam War.

“We thought we were helping to make sure nothing like that happened again,” Lois Pulliam said of that conflict. “Here it is happening again.”

Three months after the Oct. 15 referendum to approve Iraq's new constitution, the United States should designate Iraq security forces “competent,” Nicholas Pulliam says in his plan.

“American troop withdrawals would begin rapidly and be complete before September, 2006,” he said, noting that civil war is likely to occur.

“This result is nothing to fear or regret,” Pulliam said, pointing to the Vietnam War as an example of a sudden American withdrawal.

He also said the overthrow of Saddam Hussein could hasten democracy in Iraq, “even if anarchy, civil war and national partition is the ultimate cost for their better future.”

Brian Hart created the blog -- www.minstrelboy.-blogspot.com -- as an alternative to the deluge of e-mails he received following the death of his son. He's become a vocal critic of the war and an advocate for increased supply of body and vehicle armor.

He doesn't track the number of people who visit the blog, but hopes an intelligent discussion on an exit strategy will fuel a grassroots uprising. Pulliam is the first soldier he's aware of to call for a withdrawal.

“We're going to start a parade, and then let the politicians jump in front of it,” Hart said in an interview yesterday.

Pulliam, too, hopes his words cause a stir, saying too many soldiers have died.

“We need to start somewhere,” he writes in the blog posting. “We need to save our soldier's futures.”

Evan Lehmann's e-mail address is elehmann@lowellsun.com.

In Italy April 2003 Posted by Picasa

Lowell Sun Online - Chelmsford soldier's commentary taken off activist's anti-war blog

"WASHINGTON -- A Bedford blog operator has removed a local soldier's name from an Internet posting that proposed a full military withdrawal from Iraq, worried that the deployed soldier could face disciplinary action.

"I deleted specific references to err on the side of prudence," said Brian Hart, who opened the online journal after his son, Army Pvt. First Class John Hart, died in an ambush nearly two years ago.
The withdrawal strategy, written by Sgt. Nicholas Pulliam, a 42-year-old Chelmsford resident, was made public Tuesday, when Hart posted it on his blog with Pulliam's permission. "

“I would be most upset if there were any negative repercussions from my actions,” Hart said yesterday. “I take full responsibility.”

Two Army spokespeople quoted in The Sun on Wednesday warned of possible consequences for soldiers who propose policies, saying it undermines the chain of command. Neither had seen Pulliam's proposal, and said they could not determine if it breached the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Pulliam, in an e-mail interview, said he is unconcerned about potential discipline stemming from his proposal, which is titled “Rational Disengagement” and calls for the removal of all U.S. troops from Iraq before September 2006.

Hart said Pulliam e-mailed his proposal to him, and he then posted it on the blog.

“I really don't see how a citizen-soldier who expresses his opinion on saving American lives to a friend should be the concern of the Army Command,” Pulliam told The Sun. “My proposal itself is not subversive to American interests.”

U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan, a Lowell Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, defended Pulliam, saying his comments “seem to be nonpartisan and nonpolitical” and don't appear to violate operational security.

But with public weariness of the war growing along with the popularity of blogging -- an instant window to the world -- the administration may be signaling it will sharply enforce code violations, according to lawyers who specialize in military litigation.

“I think there may be a shift, simply because of the popularity (of blogging), not because of the command taking a tougher stance,” said attorney Stephen Karns, who defended soldiers in the Abu-Ghraib prison trials.

There's been an increase of cases in which soldiers are charged with violating strict rules against revealing operational security and criticizing officials on the Internet, lawyers say.

Two months ago, Karns closed a similar case. His client was threatened with demotion and fines, but was not convicted.

“At worst, I would think it would be an Article 15,” Karns said. “That could include loss of rank, one grade, and lost pay.”

He added, however, that Pulliam would “probably receive a verbal reprimand and be told to take it down.”

Philip D. Cave, a retired Navy commander who's now a defense attorney, said, “If they wanted to, they could make (Pulliam's) life miserable.”

Pulliam, an engineer with a law degree, pondered his policy idea for months, he said in the e-mail interview. He's frustrated that antiwar politicians haven't made themselves more visible, and that all politicians haven't set a clear course toward ending the war.

The wreckage of U.S. military vehicles blown apart from roadside bombs that sometimes litter his compound and the military's failure to pacify the country influenced his decision to speak out.

“I was tired of not reading about or seeing any real evidence of a political debate to end the war, so I suggested my own, which I think is nonpartisan and apolitical,” Pulliam said.

“It merely suggests a viable plan that can be used to save American soldiers' lives without hurting U.S. national interests.”

Evan Lehmann's e-mail address is elehmann@lowellsun.com.

Governor Mitt Romney and Wife at memorial service. Oct. 2003 for John D. Hart Posted by Picasa

Grandmother & Gage cousin of John D Hart Posted by Picasa

Lowell Sun Online - Letters to the Editor- Politicians need to develop an Iraq exit strategy

(Regarding article by Evan Lehmann, 10/12/05) Army communications director Lt. Col. Steven Bloyan is quoted as having said, "Most soldiers at the unit level don't have the information at hand to make decisions on policy....We implement the policy of elected leadership." I’d like to comment on this, because, since I’m Sgt. Pulliam’s sister, I know something about how informed he is. For one thing, he has read hundreds of history books out of sheer curiosity and enjoyment since he was in grade school. From what I understand to be pretty common knowledge, President Bush doesn’t even read the sports page out of curiosity or enjoyment, never mind non-fiction. So, while I don’t contest that American soldiers aren’t privy to all of the information all the time, I’m going to go ahead and say with utter certainty that Sgt. Pulliam has more information about both current affairs and the effects of wartime policy decision (around the world spanning hundreds of years of history) than our elected President does.

"Like thousands of other soldiers, Sgt. Pulliam has been away from his family (and often in harm's way) for more than a year now. He was called so he went -- because it was his military duty to do that. He never believed it was a war that could go well or be wrapped up neatly. Out of all of the vociferous proponents of the war, on the other hand, I personally haven't known a single one to make the time or effort to actually go on over there and get involved. Unlike most of the people fighting this war, Sgt. Pulliam is seasoned and well-educated. He worries, as we all should, about how many more 18- and 19-year-old kids will lose their lives before they have a chance to be either. (It certainly isn't Page One news when they do now, but it's still happening all the time.) I'm very proud of my brother. I know people who aren't in uniform who are actually afraid to say what they think lately.

In his posted letter, (not printed in The Sun) Sgt. Pulliam states that he wrote it hoping "that it can get some politicians motivated to start the dialog" of developing an exit strategy. It's hardly a call to desert next September. Punitive action would be ridiculous. And isn't there already enough to ridicule? Let's face it: The emperor has no clothes.

PATIENCE MERULLO
Chelmsford "

[bth: Patience had me add back in her first paragraph which had been deleted by the Lowell-Sun when it published her letter.]

Lowell Sun Online - Letters to the Editor -Iraq war supporters repeating Vietnam rhetoric

-" Sun editorial seemed to suggest that it is the Iraq war's critics who are really to blame for the seemingly endless warfare against seemingly unlimited opponents. Those of us who oppose the Bush administration's quagmire should keep our mouths shut, we are admonished; for the enemy's strength is derived from protests against the war.

Perhaps that is true -- but if it is, it begs the question of what was inspiring the enemy before Bush sent in the Marines.

Is there an echo in here? Have we jumped back 35 years in time? We are unmistakably hearing Vietnam-era boilerplate again. Every American death should strengthen our resolve. There can be no turning back. We owe it to the freedom-and-democracy-loving native people. We must prevail. God is on our side. Yada, yada, yada! This is just what they were telling us back then. ..."

6th March 1865: Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865), the sixteenth President of the United States, in the year of his assassination. (Photo by Henry F. Warren/MPI/Getty Images) Posted by Picasa

Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail

April 16, 1963

MY DEAR FELLOW CLERGYMEN:

While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here In Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I. compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place In Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.

I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. We have gone through an these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants --- for example, to remove the stores humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained.

As in so many past experiences, our hopes bad been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self-purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves : "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct-action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year.

Knowing that a strong economic with with-drawal program would be the by-product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoralty election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run-oat we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run-off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct-action program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling, for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure.

Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity.

This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait."

But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may won ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there fire two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the Brat to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all"

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distort the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I-it" relationship for an "I-thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and awful. Paul Tillich said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression 'of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.

Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected?

Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to ace the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fan in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension.

We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with an its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.

I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "An Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills.

Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this 'hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to 6e solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At fist I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self-respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best-known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do-nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle.

If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble-rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black-nationalist ideologies a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides-and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist.

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that an men are created equal ..." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we viii be. We we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime---the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jeans Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some-such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle---have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach-infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation.

Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a non segregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who 'has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of Rio shall lengthen.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leader era; an too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.
In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.
I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother."

In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, on Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious-education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Walleye gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? l am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators"' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide. and gladiatorial contests.

Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Par from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it vi lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world.

But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom, They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jai with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham, ham and all over the nation, because the goal of America k freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation-and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.

Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if .you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handing the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in pubic. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."
I wish you had commended the Negro sit-inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes.

They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face Jeering, and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy-two-year-old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My fleets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he k alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

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UK Terror suspects released without charge

"Four of the ten men arrested at the weekend in connection with suspected international terrorism in the UK were released yesterday without charge.
The men were held during a series of raids in Croydon, south London, Wolverhampton and Derby on Saturday."..

How times have changed in two years. Posted by Picasa

Consumer Prices Rise Sharply

"Hurricane Katrina helped push inflation up sharply last month, guaranteeing that millions of Americans receiving Social Security and other federal benefits will see their payments rise in January by the largest amount since 1991, the government reported today.

But the Labor Department also reported that the widely followed consumer price index for all urban consumers, rose 1.2 percent last month and 4.7 percent in the 12 months that ended in September. That was the biggest monthly rise since March, 1980, and the biggest 12-month increase since May, 1991."...

[bth: expect inflation to whip wildly for several months. Note what isn't going up is wages for working Americans at any where near a 4.7% rate.]

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Al Qaeda threatens Sunni leaders over charter deal

"DUBAI: An Al Qaeda-linked Iraqi militant group yesterday threatened to kill leaders of the country's main Sunni Arab party for having called for a yes vote on the constitution, according to an Internet statement.

"The Geish al-Taifa al-Mansura (army of the victorious confession) has decided that the apostates (Iraqi Islamic Party leaders) Mohsen Abdel Hamid and Tareq al-Hashemi are targets of the mujahedeen (fighters) wherever they are," said the statement whose authenticity could not be confirmed. "...

by DOMINICK FIORILLE
Rob Loria looks out the window at his Middletown home.
12-16-04 Posted by Picasa

For Injured U.S. Troops, 'Financial Friendly Fire'

"His hand had been blown off in Iraq, his body pierced by shrapnel. He could not walk. Robert Loria was flown home for a long recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he tried to bear up against intense physical pain and reimagine his life's possibilities.

The last thing on his mind, he said, was whether the Army had correctly adjusted his pay rate -- downgrading it because he was out of the war zone -- or whether his combat gear had been accounted for properly: his Kevlar helmet, his suspenders, his rucksack."

But nine months after Loria was wounded, the Army garnished his wages and then, as he prepared to leave the service, hit him with a $6,200 debt. That was just before last Christmas, and several lawmakers scrambled to help. This spring, a collection agency started calling. He owed another $646 for military housing.

"I was shocked," recalled Loria, now 28 and medically retired from the Army. "After everything that went on, they still had the nerve to ask me for money."

Although Loria's problems may be striking on their own, the Army has recently identified 331 other soldiers who have been hit with military debt after being wounded at war. The new analysis comes as the United States has more wounded troops than at any time since the Vietnam War, with thousands suffering serious injury in Iraq or Afghanistan.

"This is a financial friendly fire," charged Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, which has been looking into the issue. "It's awful." Davis called the failure systemic and said military "pay problems have been an embarrassment all the way through" the war....

[bth: the DOD blames the computer system later in the article, but really its a lack of priorities. It will spend millions supporting NASCAR racers for recruitment and to entertain the brass, but it won't spend the money to spot its own computer billing system from dunning and then turning over to credit bureaus its own wounded. The PFCs are not priority. It boils down to a leadership problem.]

Middle East: Syrian Interior Minister's Death Linked To Lebanon

"The Syrian authorities say they have launched an investigation into the circumstances of the death of Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan, who is believed to have shot himself yesterday. Kanaan was Syria's top security official in Lebanon for 20 years before returning to Syria in 2002. His death comes one week before the United Nations is to publish a report into the murder of Rafiq Hariri, the former prime minister of Lebanon, whose death many blame on Syria."...

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Russia's Most-Wanted Terrorist Basayev Killed

"Russia's most-wanted Chechen terrorist Shamil Basayev was killed by Russian forces in Thursday's firefight in the Kabardino-Balkarian capital Nalchik, a source in the local branch of the FSB (the Federal Security Service) told the Chechen Society newspaper. Officials are remaining silent until a full identification procedure has been completed.

According to the source, the raid on Nalchik that resulted in the deaths of 60 people began in the early hours of Thursday. Rebels were reportedly trying to seize the local airport to hijack a military plane.

The source believes the rebels intended to fit it out with explosives and fly it to Moscow. The plane would have stood more chance of passing military identification systems, as it is equipped with a friend-or-foe identification system, the source explained.

But the seizure of the airport failed and the group of rebels led by Basayev was surrounded. To divert the attention of the Russian military, another group of rebels launched attacks on government buildings and Russian army units, but Basayev and his comrades were nevertheless killed, the source said.

The General Staff says, however, it does not have information about involvement of Basayev in the raid."

Envoys admit taking oil payoffs - France

"TWO former French ambassadors have admitted earning hundreds of thousands of dollars from the sale of oil that Iraq had assigned to them under the United Nations Oil-for-Food programme.

The disclosure tarnished France's moral stand against the invasion of Iraq, and its Foreign Ministry scrambled to distance itself from the alleged illicit activities of Serge Boidevaix, a former director of the ministry, and of Jean-Bernard Mrime, a former French Ambassador to the UN. Both are facing corruption charges.


Jean-Baptiste Mattei, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said: "There is no link . . . with the decision of France not to participate in the Iraq war. This stemmed from our concept of international law."

Word that the two men had acknowledged payoffs from Baghdad has embarrassed the ministry, which fears that the actions of two retired diplomats will be used to discredit President Chirac's opposition towards the invasion of Iraq. "...

First Call Posted by Picasa

World may have to live with nuclear Iran - study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran is determined to acquire nuclear weapons and the United States may find it less costly to deter a nuclear-armed Iran than to dismantle its weapons program, according to two U.S.-funded researchers who advise the Pentagon.

"Can the United States live with a nuclear-armed Iran? Despite its rhetoric, it may have no choice," concluded the report by Judith Yaphe and Air Force Col. Charles Lutes, which was released on Thursday.

The potential for rolling back Iran's program, once it produces a nuclear weapon, "is lower than preventing it in the first place and the costs of rollback may be higher than the costs of deterring and containing a nuclear Iran," they said.

The two analysts are senior fellows at the National Defence University's Institute for National Strategic Studies, which does policy research for the Defence Department.

European powers Britain, France and Germany, with U.S. support, have pursued so-far failed negotiations aimed at persuading Iran to abandon its nuclear activities.

U.S. intelligence says Iran could produce a weapon in about a decade. Tehran insist its aim is peaceful nuclear energy.

European and American officials have long acknowledged privately that thwarting Iran's ambitions is a long shot and the new report reinforces that view.

In a 2001 report, Yaphe, a Mideast expert and former CIA analyst, judged Iran as determined to acquire nuclear weapons.

Nothing in the intervening four years has diverted Tehran from the "systematic pursuit of nuclear technology that could contribute to a weapons program," the new report concluded....

Iraqis practice art of deception

"BAQOUBA, Iraq -- Joint Iraqi and U.S. security forces foiled an attempt by terrorists to ambush a truck delivering ballots to the nearby city of Muqtadiya yesterday, one in a series of attacks ahead of tomorrow's vote on a permanent constitution.

A decoy convoy -- disguised to look like it was carrying ballots from the Iraqi Electoral Commission and heavily armed with Iraqi forces -- drew fire from terrorists hiding in a palm grove outside of Baqouba at midday.

Unknown to the enemy, three ordinary pickup trucks carrying the real ballots already were delivering the precious cargo to the city of Muqtadiya, an hour's drive away.

Thirty Iraqi soldiers, accompanied by a reporter-photographer for The Washington Times, were assigned to the dummy convoy. It was an all-Iraqi operation. No U.S. soldiers were present.

The Iraqis were ready for a fight. "...

The attack began with the bone-jarring explosion of a roadside bomb followed by a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and rifle fire.

Within seconds, Iraqi soldiers responded with a wall of automatic-weapons fire. The terrorists ran.

Later, U.S. Kiowa helicopters arrived to escort the convoy to Muqtadiya. ...

Road to Battle. Westhoek. WWI Posted by Picasa

Iranian militants in power stir fears

"The rise of militants to power positions in Iran is raising new worries about Iranian military forces' deploying new weapons that threaten oil supplies or future long-range nuclear or chemical missile strikes.

Military specialists say the Islamist regime in Tehran has not invested heavily in the past decade in new tanks, armored vehicles or warplanes, but instead focused defense spending on 'asymmetric' warfare capabilities.

These include Iran's covert nuclear program and new Shahab-3 and older Scud missiles that could deliver nuclear, chemical and biological weapons hundreds of miles away.

Iran's military power is under scrutiny after new Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently placed the country's nuclear arms program under the control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which are charged with protecting the regime.

Iranian forces also have purchased and built large coastal forces equipped with high-speed, anti-ship cruise missiles that could be used to disrupt strategic oil supplies throughout the Persian Gulf.

'Their might comes not from large conventional forces but from asymmetric capabilities that are very robust and rooted in the ability to engage in subversion and terrorism,' said Michael Eisenstadt, director of security studies at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "....

Infamous Al-Qaeda Bloggers Nationalities Revealed

..."Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Some of the most infamous contributors to extremist internet chartrooms, known for their support of al Qaeda and attacks on those intellectuals and politicians who disagree with fundamentalist Islamic ideology are not Saudi citizens, according to exclusive information obtained by Asharq al Awsat, but most readers were.

An informed source, which has monitored these forums for some time and analyzed the aliases of a number of writers, cited the Arab arena forum (muntadah al sahah al arabiyah), based in the Untied Arab Emirates, and writers for the voice of jihad (sawt al jihad) and al Battar, two online newsletters which represent al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia as examples.

Umm Osama (the mother of Osama), better known as al Khansa writes for al Qaeda�s bulletins and, in an interview with Asharq al Awsat on 12 March 2003, she indicated she headed the women�s wing of al Qaeda inside the Kingdom.

Known as Fatah al adghal (youth of the jungle), a writer for al Sahah is in fact a Pakistani national who moved to Saudi Arabia with his family aged 3. It is difficult for the untrained eye to see that he is not Saudi especially given his local focus and fluency in the local dialect. Thought to be around 20, the writer received his religious education in the Kingdom and has visited Pakistan several times throughout his life. "....

[Bth: interesting article with more detail on various individuals.]

Ryan Clapp in Afghanistan. The other war, a subcontinent away from Iraq but probably closer to Osama Bin Laden. Posted by Picasa

Some Sunnis Now Support Constitution, Splitting Opposition

"BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 13 - Sunni Arab leaders who have endorsed the latest draft of the new constitution strongly defended their show of support on Thursday, saying recent compromises on the document will spur recalcitrant Sunnis to take part in coming elections."

They made their remarks a day after several prominent Sunni Arabs denounced the compromises, and right after a powerful hard-line Sunni group, the Muslim Scholars Association, urged Iraqis to vote "no."

Across Iraq, people are expected to walk by the thousands on Saturday to polling stations. Approval is considered an essential step in building a democracy here. ...

[bth: A telling sign will be to see if reporters on TV are at polling booths are reporting from the Green Zone.]

Insurgents Bomb Sunni Arab Office in Iraq

"BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Insurgents determined to derail this weekend's referendum bombed an office of Iraq's largest Sunni Arab political party on Friday, after the group dropped its opposition to the draft constitution.

No one was wounded by the roadside bomb outside the Iraqi Islamic Party office in Fadhal, a district of central Baghdad. The attack was rare in that it targeted Sunnis, the ethnic group behind the insurgency, and appeared aimed at punishing the party for deciding to end its 'no' campaign.

Lawmakers agreed Wednesday night to several amendments to the constitution designed to win Sunni support in Saturday's vote. The Iraqi Islamic Party subsequently removed banners urging a 'no' vote from prominent positions around the capital.

'This attack by insurgents against the Islamic Party was expected because of its new stand toward the referendum,' Iraqi army Maj. Salman Abdul Yahid said in an interview. 'Insurgents had threatened to attack the group and its leaders to get revenge.'"...

Adrift in a sea of phoniness

"INSINCERITY IS the new theme of American politics. Americans used to be famous for openness - they were naive, foreigners said, but absolutely straightforward.

During much of the last century, Ernest Hemingway and his 'B.S. meter' were famous. Hemingway claimed an infallible ability to identify phonies, and his imaginary detector seemed as quintessentially American as his close-cropped, hard-hitting sentences. If Hemingway came back to Earth for an American holiday, his B.S. meter would be pegged permanently at maximum."...

UAV test model Posted by Picasa

Thatcher reveals her doubts over basis for Iraq war

"Baroness Thatcher has criticised Tony Blair for taking Britain to war in Iraq on the basis of flawed evidence about Saddam Hussein's weapons. The former prime minister's embarrassing criticism emerged as Mr Blair was among the 670 guests who attended a party to mark her 80th birthday.

Although Lady Thatcher remains a strong supporter of the decision to topple Saddam by invading Iraq, it is the first time she has questioned the basis for the war. Yesterday's Washington Post reported that when asked whether she would have invaded Iraq given the intelligence at the time, Lady Thatcher replied: 'I was a scientist before I was a politician. And as a scientist I know you need facts, evidence and proof - and then you check, recheck and check again.'

She added: 'The fact was that there were no facts, there was no evidence, and there was no proof. As a politician the most serious decision you can take is to commit your armed services to war from which they may not return.'"...

Empire State Building 1931 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged

"It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution. "...

Paratrooper - a former pastor in Pa. - killed in Afghanistan

"A former church pastor and Army paratrooper who completed a tour of duty in Iraq was killed by a grenade blast during combat in Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon.

Staff Sgt. Troy S. Ezernack, 39, was the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church near the Lancaster County village of Elm for eight years before enlisting in the military in 1999.

Ezernack died Sunday of injuries sustained earlier in the day when his combat patrol was attacked. Ezernack was assigned to the 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy.

A church member heard Tuesday that Ezernack had been killed and parishioners gathered Wednesday night at the small church.

'I didn't really know God or the Bible before Troy taught me,' parishioner Kathy Balmer said. 'He helped give my life a purpose, and his death is a horrible thing.'
Ezernack baptized dozens of people, and sought to swell the church ranks by establishing a bus route to pick up children from the city of Lancaster.

The Louisiana native will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and an Oct. 22 memorial service is scheduled in Shreveport, La. He left a wife, Gail.
Ezernack had planned to remain in Afghanistan for 10 more months before being transferred to a base in Louisiana. While in Iraq, Ezernack guarded government buildings during provincial elections in the northern city of Kirkuk.

In April 2003, Ezernack told The Philadelphia Inquirer: 'My biggest worry is that I would do something stupid and get somebody killed.'

A month later, he was interviewed by Stars and Stripes magazine about the elections.

"It's good they're electing officials. It's democracy come true, but I'm also happy for selfish reasons," he said. "I want to go home, and the sooner they take control of their own city, the sooner I'm outta here."

A Polling Free-Fall Among Blacks

"In what may turn out to be one of the biggest free-falls in the history of presidential polling, President Bush's job-approval rating among African Americans has dropped to 2 percent, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll."...

Pvt. Ernesto Rodolfo Guerra family. Third ID. August 18, 2005 Posted by Picasa

Army 'to improve' treatment of fallen soldiers' families

"CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- After Gay and Fred Eisenhauer learned their son had been killed while serving in Iraq in May, the couple traveled to the cargo area at Lambert Airport in St. Louis to get his body.

Army Pfc. Wyatt Eisenhauer's flag-draped coffin was delivered to his parents in a crate-filled area of the airport where workers on break sat nearby smoking cigarettes.
For Gay Eisenhauer, it was an impersonal place to meet her 26-year-old son on his final trip home.

'When we bring them home and we call them heroes, let's treat them like heroes all the way and not pull them into a cargo section and bring them home to the family that way,' said Eisenhauer, of Pinckneyville, on Wednesday.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn have taken up the cause, meeting Wednesday with U.S. Army Secretary Francis Harvey and urging him to improve how the military works with families of those killed in the line of duty.

'To have that reunifying moment in a place like that I think is symbolic of the need to change some of the policy so there's more sensitivity,' Blagojevich said.

Some of the suggestions Blagojevich and Quinn made to Harvey included better training for officers who interact with distraught families and prompt delivery of service members' medals and awards to surviving family.

Army spokesman Paul Boyce said the Army has been assessing how to improve the process of notifying families of the deaths of their loved ones. The review is expected to be done in January, he said.

'Our largest concern is to make sure information is conveyed expeditiously and accurately to family members. We're looking at new ways to improve it throughout the Army,' he said.

[bth: I am pleased to see the Army addressing this important issue.]

 Posted by Picasa

Car and Driver: Oh, how the mighty have fallen (and it ain't over).

"...Today the so-called Big Three are poised to fall below a 50-percent share of the domestic market (excluding loss-leader fleet and rental sales). According to R.L. Polk & Co., which tracks auto sales, Detroit clung to 53.6 percent of the retail market in 2004, down from 62 percent in 1999 this while Asian brands jumped more than eight percent to hold a 38.6-percent share of American business during the same period.

Worse yet, in several of the states projected to gain the most in population by 2030, the Big Three have already fallen below half the market share. This has taken place thanks to the explosion of sales of imports such as Toyota/Lexus, Honda/ Acura, and Nissan/Infiniti and in spite of dismal performances by Mitsubishi, Daewoo, and Isuzu.

Keep in mind that five of these states are expected to gain nearly 50 million new residents by 2030, which only adds to the potential for further Japanese growth, based on the tastes of younger buyers and the rapidly expanding Hispanic population, both of which greatly prefer the rice-burner imports over domestic brands.

And these clouds of despair hovering over Detroit can only get worse. Not only are the South Koreans poking into the market with improved products from Hyundai, but the vast industrial empire of China looms on the horizon. The design and manufacture of automobiles is not rocket science. There is no question that the Chinese are eyeing the U.S. automobile market, and sooner rather than later world-class vehicles from Beijing or Shanghai will challenge not only the Japanese and Koreans but what is left of the American (and European) businesses."...

The question nags: Can anything be done to save Detroit? Surely, unless GM, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler can shed their egregious UAW labor contracts and their budget-crushing retirement obligations, they are doomed. Beyond that they must break out of the large-SUV and light-truck markets—which they still dominate—and begin building five-star passenger automobiles that equal the imports in quality, performance, and value.

While the Japanese pump out new models like popcorn, the Detroiters for the most part lump along with rehashed antiques year in and year out, whining that development of fresh products, some analysts maintain, costs them more than it costs their Asian rivals—which, by the way, have invaded American turf with state-of-the-art factories featuring kanban (just in time) processes that tend to leave the locals looking like buggy-whip makers.

If any vestige of the American automobile industry is to survive, it must involve state-of-the-art vehicles that are not equal to but surpass the best imports in every way. They must be conventional passenger cars, not trucks or SUVs, because sedans are at the core of the market and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Such vehicles can only be developed and sold in a growing worldwide market by smaller, leaner, meaner, more energetic and creative teams of men and women in the Motor City. It will require ugly confrontations with the UAW and the corporate retirees as well as the dealer organizations and, in some cases, inbred customer groups, but the Armageddon must come if any chance of survival exists.

Can it succeed? Perhaps, but the clock is ticking perilously close to doomsday....

[bth: Katrina was probably the Tet Offensive for the American public with regard to Iraq. The verdict is less certain on the fight against al-Qaida and Osama Bin Laden. The bankruptcy of GM in 2006 seems increasingly likely and since 1 in 10 jobs in America depend on the auto industry, the psychological impact on Americans will be most profound. The public is turning toward a re-investment in its economy. The public will not tolerate an open ended military commitment with out clear goals relevant to our national security.]

The fall of General Braddock. Posted by Picasa

French ex-UN envoy embroiled in corruption probe

"A former French ambassador to the United Nations appeared before a judge on Wednesday in connection with an inquiry into corruption linked to the U.N.-run oil-for-food programme in Iraq, a judicial source said.

Jean-Bernard Merimee, detained on Monday over allegations that he may have benefited from oil allocated under the programme by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, could face charges of corruption and corruption of foreign public servants.

He is one of almost a dozen French political, diplomatic and other personalities whom judge Philippe Courroye has questioned or wants to question over the oil-for-food programme."...

 Posted by Picasa

Iraq Drawdown Plan Offers Wide-Ranging Options, Including Big Cuts by Elaine M. Grossman

"A wide-ranging U.S. military plan for reducing forces in Iraq includes a best-case option to cut the "steady state" of approximately 140,000 troops in half by spring 2006, according to officials who have seen the blueprint approved by Gen. George Casey, the top Army officer in Iraq.

The classified document also includes the possibility of an uptick in military personnel as a worst case, defense sources say.

But should insurgent violence and political instability continue over the coming months, the most likely outcome will be an initial streamlining that yields just a few thousand troops -
mainly administrative staff - brought home from the Persian Gulf next year, officials tell Inside the Pentagon.

Casey remarked in July that a "substantial" force withdrawal could begin as early as next spring, pending continued progress in the political and security environment. Yet it is increasingly unclear if the situation on the ground will warrant significant reductions, according to a growing number of U.S. officials.

"In reality, it's as unstable [now] as it has been in the past year," says Michael Janke, chairman of the board of a contracting firm that provides security services to the U.S. military in Iraq.

Discussion of force withdrawal options continues unabated amid growing public unease about future military operations in Iraq, particularly in the wake of two hurricanes that have devastated vast swaths of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region.

Alternative courses of action laid out in Casey's drawdown plan range from a "notable increase in the size of force to a significant drawdown, and everything in between," says one defense official who was recently in Iraq, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“What he’s thrown out there is to cover all bases,” says Janke, one of several officials interviewed who have reviewed the plan.

Asked to describe Casey’s drawdown plan, a spokesman at the general’s Baghdad headquarters said this week, “There is no set timetable for reduction of U.S. forces in Iraq.”

Any force withdrawal will rely “on a conditions-based strategy,” drawing on the recommendations of a multinational advisory panel convened in August by Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, according to Marine Corps Maj. Tim Keefe, a spokesman for Casey.

Conditions for reductions include the state of the insurgency, the capability of Iraqi security forces, and the Iraqi government’s ability to support military operations, Keefe wrote Sept. 28 in an e-mail response to questions.

A temporary increase of about 10,000 forces has recently pushed U.S. troop levels to 149,000 in Iraq, says Maj. Todd Vician, a Pentagon spokesman. Two additional battalions were rotated into Iraq to bolster security for the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum, according to Vician. Additional forces may remain in-country longer if instability rises, but higher force levels would be difficult for the U.S. military to sustain over the long haul, defense officials say.

Beginning early next year, “better utilization of combat troops” may set the stage for a reduction of 2,000 to 5,000 U.S. forces in Iraq, with the military handing off to contractors more functions like airport security and base support, says Janke.

Casey’s drawdown plan allows for myriad alternatives, though, according to other sources. The secret document lays out a series of “decision points” at which the commander can “tune” up or down the rotation of American military units into Iraq, depending on the security situation at the time, says one defense official.

The blueprint is “complex but not inordinately intricate,” according to this source, who compared the plan to a set of spigots Casey can adjust to control the flow of units in and out of the wartorn nation. “This is American staff planning at its very best.”

Under the rosiest scenario, Casey can “turn the valve” on high to implement a huge drawdown “if peace breaks out,” this defense official says.

“It’s just prudent to have a broad range of plans that would enable you to increase forces if you need them and reduce them if you don’t,” Andrew Krepinevich, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said this week.

Though the possibility may be remote, the document shows a best-case scenario in which some 70,000 forces might be brought home, according to some officials.

However, “peace isn’t going to break out,” says Janke, reflecting a view held widely in the military. A more likely vision of the drawdown is a gradual series of reductions, he says.

If U.S. forces were to depart Iraq too early, there would be “instant instability” in the Middle East, potentially spreading to Saudi Arabia or Iran, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers said at an Aug. 26 press conference.

The costs of a “premature disengagement would likely be calamitous,” Krepinevich writes in the September/October edition of the journal Foreign Affairs. “The insurgency could morph into a bloody civil war, with the significant involvement of both Syria and Iran. Radical Islamists would see the U.S. departure as a victory, and the ensuing chaos would drive up oil prices.”

An alternative is phasing troop reductions over the long term—an option that may prove less politically popular in the short term for President Bush but could reduce the risk of regional catastrophe, some defense analysts are saying.

Army recruiting and retention problems, combined with limitations in the length of time National Guard soldiers can be activated for combat, will likely force Bush to bring at least some of the troops home, Krepinevich says.

“I don’t see how they can sustain the current force there through 2006,” he told ITP this week. “So I think they’re making a virtue out of necessity
.”

In addition, “it’s reasonable to hedge against the American public’s concern that by 2006 it’ll be three years since the end of the war,” Krepinevich said. “At what point do Iraqis begin to take over [security functions] for us?”

“The Iraqi army is beginning to shore up its foundation,” Janke says. As that occurs, a U.S. force drawdown “is inevitable” and becomes just a question of “when,” he says.

But some in the military worry about the viability and effectiveness of whatever size U.S. force remains in Iraq for the long term. American troops deployed to Iraq—safeguarding a fragile governing coalition and assisting the nascent Iraqi security troops in battling violent militants—may themselves become increasingly vulnerable, military sources say. Some estimates are that the Pentagon will retain at least 20,000 forces in Iraq for perhaps a decade or more.

Today (Sept. 29) Casey is slated to join Myers, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and U.S. Central Command chief Army Gen. John Abizaid in testimony on the U.S. military strategy and operations in Iraq before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

—Elaine M. Grossman

[bth: I would submit that an "events based strategy" should be replaced with an objectives based strategy. The Iraqi election gives us a window of opportunity to reshape our objectives and to refocus our strategies. I would submit that a narrower focus on al-Qaeda's leadership and financial structure in Pakistan and elsewhere would yield greater US security. In Iraq, the US can create a window of opportunity for Iraqi's but it cannot guarantee the outcome or the wisdom of their actions. A naval ship would never set its course soley by the direction of the wind - there is a destination in mind. What's the destination in Iraq?]