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Year 2001 No.156 , September 18, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

The Beliefs the Prime Minister Holds Strongly

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

The Beliefs the Prime Minister Holds Strongly

Letter to the Editor:
Moving On

International News In Brief
Iran’s President Proposes UN Summit against Terrorism
UN Staff Hold Solemn Ceremony
Czech NATO Envoy Says Attacks on US Could Speed Up Fighters Purchase

Inevitable Ring to the Unimaginable

US Attorney General Seeks Greater Power for Justice Department

US Government Reviews CIA Policies

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The Beliefs the Prime Minister Holds Strongly

Tony Blair made a statement to the specially recalled House of Commons last Friday, September 14.

Though the Prime Minister preached "reason, democracy and tolerance", his message was one of irrationality, intolerance and war.

The Prime Minister believes "so passionately" in "basic democratic values" that he can say that it is "right that Parliament, the fount of our own democracy, makes its democratic voice heard". It is absolutely certain that all democratic people unite in agreeing that taking the lives of so many innocent people cannot be justified. But anger rises when Tony Blair will not acknowledge responsibility for taking the lives of innocent men, women and children in Iraq, through the open and covert operations of the armed forces and intelligence services in the Balkans, the Far East and so many other places. And also because this "democratic voice" of Parliament is not being made heard to debate the issues.

Tony Blair generously admitted that there would be "different shades of opinion heard today". But it is glaringly obvious that whatever different shades of opinion there would be, the objective is set the Tony Blair and his circle, namely to further the aims of armed action which is supposed to wipe out the evil of terrorism. One cannot admit that the Prime Minister does not realise that such action cannot and is not designed to do any such thing.

What kind of democratic voice is it when the people, whose overwhelming sentiment is against settling scores by the use of force, are not heard in this debate? Is Tony Blair so fanatical as not to listen to their voice? It appears so.

This cannot be said to be the exercise of reason and democracy. And it is tolerance only to those who uphold the same "civilised values" as do the governments who uphold neo-liberal globalisation and the political system of the "Mother of Parliaments".

For Tony Blair to then say that this campaign is not directed against Muslims but against Islamic fundamentalism is a feint. The issue is not at all the Islamic or any other religion, but a just and democratic world where all peoples are free to decide their social system and way of life. The terrorism which Tony Blair is holding up for outrage is an offspring of the imposition of the very values which the Prime Minister says to the "fanatics": "we hold these beliefs every bit as strongly as they hold theirs".

Statement of RCPB(ML) - Oppose the Stepping Up of State Terrorism and War Preparations against the People – Defend the Rights of All – Persist in Developing the Workers’ and People’s Movements towards their Goals!

Article Index

Letter to the Editor

Moving On

Today will be one week on from the traumatic events and the tragic loss of life of September 11.

A sombre mood and an extremely worrying situation have characterised the past week. The effect which it has had on the collective psyche seems very real. On-going discussions throughout the week, especially participating in meetings dedicated to sorting out the agenda of one’s collectives, like the Party’s National Consultative Forum on Sunday, have shown two things. One is that the event has been seen as a kind of defining moment, to which everyone has responded. The other is that participating in such discussions is instrumental in transforming this sombre mood into resolve.

One week on, it seems that the time is very much to move on. But this moving on is quite clearly not a case of putting the traumatic events behind us to deny their validity in our experience. It is moving on by drawing appropriate conclusions from this almost nightmarish experience, which represents the reality of the retrogression of Anglo-American imperialism reaching a crisis point.

Having reached this crisis point, Tony Blair and George W Bush seem determined to find an enemy outside of their system which they, without irony, describe as the "free and democratic world". This denial of what this crisis point really represents is leading them to the brink of plunging the world into disaster.

However, our collective experience of moving on leads us to the conclusion that the people’s forces hold the answer. This answer will be moderated by the defining moment of September 11 and the period of reaction which the US and British administrations are initiating. But it is an answer that convinces us that the workers’ and people’s movements must advance towards their goals of emancipation and empowerment.

Moving on, therefore, means persisting in fighting for a different world, for the alternative. But it also means that the work must be stepped up to involve the workers in practical politics. There is a way out of the crisis, but it is crucial that it is the workers who stand at the head of the people in this struggle for a new society, in direct opposition to the politics and ideology which the government is trying to impose. The workers must see that this politics and ideology represents the old world, which without question has brought about the tragedy in the US, whose shock waves have travelled throughout the globe.

South London Reader

Article Index

International News In Brief

Iran’s President Proposes UN Summit against Terrorism

Condemning the "alarming" terrorist attacks against the United States, the President of Iran, Seyed Mohammad Khatami, has proposed convening a global summit against terrorism.

In a letter of September 16 to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Iranian President stresses that the United Nations is the "appropriate framework to organise this struggle".

The President proposes "comprehensive and inclusive negotiations" on global policies to eradicate terrorism, "followed, at the earliest possible time, by a global summit to register and demonstrate the highest international political will to uproot terrorism and adopt appropriate strategies and measures in this regard".

The letter also warns that the recent attacks "should not be utilised to further stimulate chronic cultural and political misconceptions, stereotypes and prejudices". Instead, he urges serious reflection on "how to dry up pretexts for terrorism".

A solution to the "hideous and dangerous" problem of terrorism requires vision, serious political will, and the active participation of all people, according to the letter.

UN Staff Hold Solemn Ceremony

Last Friday, United Nations staff from across the globe, many wearing the traditional attire of their home countries, packed the General Assembly Hall in New York at a solemn ceremony their union had called to show solidarity with the government and people of the United States and to extend sympathy to those affected by the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"The full dimensions of this tragedy are still unfolding, as losses are confirmed and hope for miracles fades," Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the ceremony in the Assembly Hall, which traditionally hosts meetings of government delegates from around the world. "Our host city is deeply wounded, our host country is in mourning, but their magnificent spirit is not broken," the Secretary-General said.

During the ceremony, which was webcast to UN duty stations around the globe, UN staff members from each continent took the floor to express their shock and condolences.

Czech NATO Envoy Says Attacks on US Could Speed Up Fighters Purchase

Last week’s attacks on the US could lead to the speeding up of the Czech Republic’s purchase of supersonic jet fighters, the Czech representative at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Leos Liska, said yesterday, according to the Prague news agency CTK.

"A lot of people have realised after that shock that the security of the state does not consist only in membership of NATO," said Liska. "We have realised that we too have to contribute in some way to defence being secured at an appropriate level in the Euro-Atlantic zone," Liska went on.

The Czech government announced a tender to supply either 24 or 36 planes to the Czech Air Force in January. The only company still bidding is the British-Swedish BAe Systems-Saab consortium with its Gripen fighter. The Czech Army wants to replace its ageing Russian MiG planes. The government has said that it may not buy any planes following the tender process. In February NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said the Czechs should not buy the fighters if it would be to the detriment of the rest of the army.

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Inevitable Ring to the Unimaginable

The following article by John Pilger was published in the Glasgow newspaper The Herald on September 13.

IF the attacks on America have their source in the Islamic world, who can really be surprised?

Two days earlier, eight people were killed in southern Iraq when British and American planes bombed civilian areas. To my knowledge, not a word appeared in the mainstream media in Britain.

An estimated 200,000 Iraqis, according to the Health Education Trust in London, died during and in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter known as the Gulf War.

This was never news that touched public consciousness in the west.

At least a million civilians, half of them children, have since died in Iraq as a result of a medieval embargo imposed by the United States and Britain.

In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Mujadeen, which gave birth to the fanatical Taliban, was largely the creation of the CIA.

The terrorist training camps where Osama bin Laden, now "America's most wanted man", allegedly planned his attacks, were built with American money and backing.

In Palestine, the enduring illegal occupation by Israel would have collapsed long ago were it not for US backing.

Far from being the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims - principally the victims of US fundamentalism, whose power, in all its forms, military, strategic and economic, is the greatest source of terrorism on earth.

This fact is censored from the Western media, whose "coverage" at best minimises the culpability of imperial powers. Richard Falk, professor of international relations at Princeton, put it this way: "Western foreign policy is presented almost exclusively through a self-righteous, one-way legal/moral screen (with) positive images of Western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted political violence."

That Tony Blair, whose government sells lethal weapons to Israel and has sprayed Iraq and Yugoslavia with cluster bombs and depleted uranium and was the greatest arms supplier to the genocidists in Indonesia, can be taken seriously when he now speaks about the "shame" of the "new evil of mass terrorism" says much about the censorship of our collective sense of how the world is managed.

One of Blair's favourite words - "fatuous" - comes to mind. Alas, it is no comfort to the families of thousands of ordinary Americans who have died so terribly that the perpetrators of their suffering may be the product of Western policies. Did the American establishment believe that it could bankroll and manipulate events in the Middle East without cost to itself, or rather its own innocent people?

The attacks on Tuesday come at the end of a long history of betrayal of the Islamic and Arab peoples: the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the foundation of the state of Israel, four Arab-Israeli wars and 34 years of Israel's brutal occupation of an Arab nation: all, it seems, obliterated within hours by Tuesday's acts of awesome cruelty by those who say they represent the victims of the West's intervention in their homelands.

"America, which has never known modern war, now has her own terrible league table: perhaps as many as 20,000 victims."

As Robert Fisk points out, in the Middle East, people will grieve the loss of innocent life, but they will ask if the newspapers and television networks of the west ever devoted a fraction of the present coverage to the half-a-million dead children of Iraq, and the 17,500 civilians killed in Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. The answer is no. There are deeper roots to the atrocities in the US, which made them almost inevitable.

It is not only the rage and grievance in the Middle East and south Asia. Since the end of the cold war, the US and its sidekicks, principally Britain, have exercised, flaunted, and abused their wealth and power while the divisions imposed on human beings by them and their agents have grown as never before.

An elite group of less than a billion people now take more than 80 per cent of the world's wealth.

In defence of this power and privilege, known by the euphemisms "free market" and "free trade", the injustices are legion: from the illegal blockade of Cuba, to the murderous arms trade, dominated by the US, to its trashing of basic environmental decencies, to the assault on fragile economies by institutions such as the World Trade Organisation that are little more than agents of the US Treasury and the European central banks, and the demands of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in forcing the poorest nations to repay unrepayable debts; to a new US "Vietnam" in Colombia and the sabotage of peace talks between North and South Korea (in order to shore up North Korea's "rogue nation" status).

Western terror is part of the recent history of imperialism, a word that journalists dare not speak or write.

The expulsion of the population of Diego Garcia in the 1960s by the Wilson government received almost no press coverage.

Their homeland is now an American nuclear arms dump and base from which US bombers patrol the Middle East.

In Indonesia, in 1965/6, a million people were killed with the complicity of the US and British governments: the Americans supplying General Suharto with assassination lists, then ticking off names as people were killed.

"Getting British companies and the World Bank back in there was part of the deal", says Roland Challis, who was the BBC's south east Asia correspondent.

British behaviour in Malaya was no different from the American record in Vietnam, for which it proved inspirational: the withholding of food, villages turned into concentration camps and more than half a million people forcibly dispossessed.

In Vietnam, the dispossession, maiming and poisoning of an entire nation was apocalyptic, yet diminished in our memory by Hollywood movies and by what Edward Said rightly calls cultural imperialism.

In Operation Phoenix, in Vietnam, the CIA arranged the homicide of around 50,000 people. As official documents now reveal, this was the model for the terror in Chile that climaxed with the murder of the democratically elected leader Salvador Allende, and within 10 years, the crushing of Nicaragua.

All of it was lawless. The list is too long for this piece.

Now imperialism is being rehabilitated. American forces currently operate with impunity from bases in 50 countries.

"Full spectrum dominance" is Washington's clearly stated aim.

Read the documents of the US Space Command, which leaves us in no doubt.

In this country, the eager Blair government has embarked on four violent adventures, in pursuit of "British interests" (dressed up as "peacekeeping"), and which have little or no basis in international law: a record matched by no other British government for half a century.

What has this to do with this week's atrocities in America? If you travel among the impoverished majority of humanity, you understand that it has everything to do with it.

People are neither still, nor stupid. They see their independence compromised, their resources and land and the lives of their children taken away, and their accusing fingers increasingly point north: to the great enclaves of plunder and privilege. Inevitably, terror breeds terror and more fanaticism.

But how patient the oppressed have been.

It is only a few years ago that the Islamic fundamentalist groups, willing to blow themselves up in Israel and New York, were formed, and only after Israel and the US had rejected outright the hope of a Palestinian state, and justice for a people scarred by imperialism.

Their distant voices of rage are now heard; the daily horrors in faraway brutalised places have at last come home.

Article Index

US Attorney General Seeks Greater Power for Justice Department

Appearing on a television news programme on September 16, US Attorney General John Ashcroft said he would seek Congressional approval to strengthen the Justice Department’s "arsenal of investigative weapons".

Ashcroft said that among the provisions being sought are expanded authority to detain non-US citizens suspected of plotting attacks in the US, approval to wiretap any telephone being used by suspects under surveillance, and additional powers to track financial support for terrorist networks. Ashcroft said, "It’s easier to get a wiretap against a drug dealer or someone who’s involved in illegal gambling than it is against terrorists."

Ashcroft was also quoted as saying he planned to meet with members of Congress later that day to propose stiffer criminal penalties to provide "the maximum capacity against terrorists in the United States". He added, "We need, for instance, to elevate the penalties for those who would harbour or assist terrorists or at least the same level as the penalties for espionage."

It appears that the US Senate has already taken some of these steps. Late in the evening on September 13, Senators, by voice vote, amended an annual spending bill for the Commerce, State and Justice Departments by attaching the Combating Terrorism Act to it and then unanimously approving it.

Among the amendment’s provisions, the list of criminal offences for which court-ordered wiretaps can be sought would explicitly include terrorism and computer "hacking". As well, any US or state attorney can order the installation of high-tech surveillance, without a court order, under circumstances including "an immediate threat to the national security interests of the United States, [an] immediate threat to public health or safety or an attack on the integrity or availability of a protected computer". The legislation is said to allow warrantless surveillance to gather addresses of websites visited and the names and addresses of e-mail correspondents.

David Sobel, general counsel of the Electronic Privacy Information Network, was quoted as saying, "One of the key issues that have surrounded the use of Carnivore is being addressed by the Senate in a late-night session during a national emergency." The "Carnivore" system, now known as DCS1000, is reported to be capable of sifting through massive amounts of Internet data and other electronic information. The FBI has said the system has never been used, but news sources report security experts as saying that employees of several Internet services have indicated they have been asked to install – or have already installed – the monitoring program.

The amendment was proposed by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democratic Senator Dianne Fienstein of California. Senator John Kyl of Arizona, one of the amendment’s co-sponsors, said the legislation would provide what former FBI Director Louis Freeh lobbied for years ago: "These are the kinds of things that law enforcement has asked us for. This combination is relatively modest in comparison with the kind of terrorist attack we have just suffered."

Since the House of Representatives has not approved the amended version of the spending bill which contains the Combating Terrorism Act, a joint committee will now be created to reconcile differences between the two houses’ versions.

Article Index

US Government Reviews CIA Policies

US government officials have begun a media campaign to justify legalising "more aggressive" tactics by the US intelligence system, including agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to combat terrorism. The main changes being talked about would alter the CIA’s policy to permit the hiring of agents known to have committed human rights violations and illegal activities, as well as rescinding the 1976 presidential order prohibiting assassinations by US personnel.

US Vice President Dick Cheney, appearing on a television news programme on September 16, said: "If you’re only going to work with officially approved, certified good guys, you are not going to find out what the bad guys are doing. You have to have on payroll some very unsavoury characters. This is a mean, nasty, dangerous, dirty, business. We have to operate in that arena."

Appearing on another programme the same day, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, when asked about the US’s official assassination policy, said: "It’s still on the books and as part of our campaign plan we are examining everything – how the CIA does its work, how the FBI does its work, are there laws that need to be changed and new laws brought into effect to give us more ability to deal with this kind of threat. So everything is under review."

Former President George Bush, who was CIA director under US President Ford, made statements in the media about the "need to free up the intelligence system from some of its restraints".

Media reports have also quoted the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, the chairman of the House intelligence committee and two former directors of the CIA as saying that the September 11 attacks justify "easing the restrictions on the behaviour of spy agencies".

Senator Richard Shelby, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was quoted as saying, "If we knew Osama bin Laden was in ‘X’ city and we did a massive bombing job, fine. What’s the difference in sending in an assassination team?" While the US policy of assassination and attempted assassination is well known and well documented, along with other countless "Black Ops" in violation of international and US law, in 1976 President Ford signed Executive Order 11905 officially prohibiting assassinations by US personnel. President Reagan added clauses clarifying that the restrictions included the intelligence system. The prohibition was not made law by Congress and may be rescinded by President George W Bush if he chooses. The call to rescind the ban has been raised several times in the last few years, including legislation, proposed but never passed, by Representative Bob Barr, a Georgia Republican, in each of the last two years which would have nullified the Executive Orders.

Last year a commission on terrorism recommended that the CIA remove its guidelines on the use of "unsavoury" covert operatives, but the proposals were never acted upon in the Congress or the CIA. But now former CIA Director R James Woolsey has been quoted as saying, "Washington has absolutely undergone a sea of change in thinking this week." Former Deputy Director of Operations of the CIA, Ted Price, was also quoted in news reports. "We’ve never had the political will and the resolve to treat terrorism as a real foe," he said, "but now we’re at war." The CIA rules on recruitment of spies were set in the 1990s following disclosures about a Guatemalan Army officer on the CIA payroll being implicated in the killing of two Americans. The rules are part of the CIA’s internal procedures and may be revised by the agency’s director, it is reported.

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