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Latest News

Week of June 12 2006

by Stephanie Westbrook


Permanent Bases in Iraq and Debate in House
Last March, Rep. Barbara Lee introduced an amendment to the $91,832,491,000 emergency spending bill prohibiting the use of funds to "enter into a basing rights agreement between the United States and Iraq." In May, Sen. Biden introduced a similar amendment to the Senate's $106,474,107,000 version of the bill, providing that no funds "be made available to establish permanent military bases in Iraq or to exercise control over the oil infrastructure or oil resources of Iraq." In both cases, the amendments passed via voice vote with no opposition. In this way, no one was on record supporting permanent bases.

Last week, in the conference committee to reconcile the two versions of the bill, these provisions were stripped. Read an article from Reuters, "War Bill Deletes US Military Base Prohibition" as well as a press release by Rep. Lee and some history by David Swanson.

Meanwhile, Dennis Hastert, speaker of the House announced last week that the House would debate a resolution on Iraq and the "war on terror." The debate is expected to be later this week. Democratic leaders say they are still waiting for the final version of the resolution and there is still no word whether amendments will be allowed.

Take Action: Contact your favorite newspaper and ask them to report on this story. See also the Swanson article for contact info on the republicans in charge of the conference committee. Contact your representatives and urge them to support legislation to bring the troops home. See the AfterDowningStreet web site for more information. And pledge to vote only for anti-war candidates.


Council of Europe on Rendition and Secret Prisons
The Council of Europe released its findings last week from the investigation of extraordinary rendition flights and secret prisons involving the US and Council of Europe member states.

"...across the world, the United States has progressively woven a clandestine "spider’s web" of disappearances, secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers, often encompassing countries notorious for their use of torture. Hundreds of persons have become entrapped in this web, in some cases merely suspected of sympathising with a presumed terrorist organisation.

The "spider’s web" has been spun out with the collaboration or tolerance of many countries, including several Council of Europe member States. This co-operation, which took place in secret and without any democratic legitimacy, has spawned a system that is utterly incompatible with the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe."

Italy is one of the best documented cases with the abduction of Abu Omar in Milan, his transfers through the US bases at Aviano and Ramstein and finally to Egypt where he was tortured before being released and re-arrested. Read an article from Knight Ridder, "Report Implicates 20 Nations in 'Spider's Web' of CIA Abductions". See the Council of Europe web site for the Explanatory Memorandum, a graphic of the global spider web showing Rome as a "stopover point" and Aviano as a "pickup point", and draft resolution and recommendation.

The report will be debated during the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg on June 27, 2006.

Take Action: Urge your Representative to cosponsor and pass H.R. 952, the “Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act” and your Senator to cosponsor and pass S. 654, the “Convention Against Torture Implementation Act," which address these concerns.


Zarqawi Killed in Iraq
This will be news to no one as photos of the slain terrorist were plastered on the front page of newspapers throughout the world. Read the following editorials with news missing from much of the reporting, including background on Zarqawi as well as questions about the bombing.

US-Made Man an "Enemy to America's Liking" by Patrick Cockburn

Unreported: The Zarqawi Invitation by Greg Palast

Zarqawi's End is Not a Famous Victory by Robert Fisk

Why Did They Kill Zarqawi Instead of Capture Him? by Dave Lindorff

Democracy Now! has an interview with Michael Berg, father of Nicholas Berg, was captured and killed in Iraq two years ago. It is believed he was beheaded al-Zarqawi as well as an interview with Arun Gupta on the impact Zarqawi's death will have on the Iraqi resistance and the ongoing war in Iraq.


Three Commit Suicide in Guantánamo
Three prisoners held at the Guantánamo military prison committed suicide this past Saturday. Read an article on the New York Times. The names of the three have not been released, though official said two are from Saudi Arabia and one from Yemen. The commander at Guantánamo had this to say:

"They are smart, they are creative, they are committed," Admiral Harris said. "They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

The three suicide cases come right before the upcoming Supreme Court decision - Hamdan vs Rumsfeld -- in which the Supreme Court must decide on the legality of the Detainee Treatment Act passed in December 2005 in order to block Guantánamo prisoners from using the fundamental right of habeas corpus to question their imprisonment before a court in the U.S.

Read also an editorial on the Baltimore Sun, The Dark Stain of Guantanamo about the news slowly coming out of the prison as detainees are released, and live to tell their tale.

Take Action: Call on Congress to shut down Guantánamo.


First US Officer Publicly Resists War
As reported last week, for the first time a military officer has refused to take part in the war in Iraq. His name was made public in a press conference last week. 27-year-old US Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada has refused to obey an order to deploy to Iraq. Watada faces a court martial unless the Army allows him to resign or assigns him elsewhere. Read First Officer Publicly Resists War by Marjorie Cohn and The Courage to Face the Consequences by Ray McGovern.

Democracy Now! also has an interview with Lt Watada.

Take Action: Watada needs your support. See the Thank You Lt Watada web site


Creative Recruiting Tactics
Unable to meet their recruitment targets, the military is turning to some creative techniques. In New Jersey, school principals, teachers, coaches and mentors are invited to ride Black Hawk helicopters, fire mock assault rifles in combat simulators and can learn what it's like to drive a Humvee, all courtesy of the New Jersey National Guard.

In Wisconsin, the Army National Guard brought a climbing wall to a high school to be used during physical education classes, supervised on the day it was installed by camouflage-clad National Guard members

In NASCAR country, the Army budgets about $17,000,000 to advertise on Joe Nemechek's race care and other initiatives involved in supporting a Nextel Cup sponsorship and the Navy is spending about $5,000,000 million a year to partner with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports.

In the UK, soldiers are being paid a "bounty" of £1,300 to persuade friends to join the Army.


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