Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Who Served

Who Has Served
I don't think we can determine the character of our 'leaders' by whether they served in the armed forces or not, but we can certainly see who the hypocrits are who have sent us off to this terrible war. Please read and post  Greta

November 2004


Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71
David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72
Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72
Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971, army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-'47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V Purple Hearts.
Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-1953.
Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
Chuck Robb: Vietnam for two years
Howell Heflin: Silver Star
George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII
Jmmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.
Wesley Clark: U.S. Army, 1966-2000, West Point, Vietnam, Purple Heart, Silver Star. Retired 4-star
John Dingell: WWII vet
John Conyers: Army 1950-57, Korea
Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received 311
John Edwards: did not serve


Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
Tom Delay: did not serve.
House Whiip Roy Blunt: did not serve.
Bill Frist: did not serve.
Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
George Pataki: did not serve.
Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
Rick Santorum: did not serve.
Trent Lott: did not serve.
Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
Jeb Bush: did not serve.
Karl Rove: did not serve.
Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." The man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism.
Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
Vin Weber: did not serve.
Richard Perle: did not serve
Douglas Feith: did not serve
Eliot Abrams: did not serve
Richard Shelby: did not serve
Jon Kyl: did not serve
Tim Hutchison: did not serve
Christopher Cox: did not serve
Newt Gingrich: did not serve
Phil Gramm: did not serve
JC Watts: did not serve
Antonin Scalia: did not serve
Clarence Thomas: did not serve
Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer
Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as aviator and flight instructor
George W. Bush: six-year Nat'l Guard commitment (incomplete)
Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making movies
Gerald Ford: Navy, WWII
John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross
Bob Dole: an honorable veteran from WWII
Chuck Hagel: two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Vietnam
Jeff Sessions: Army Reserves, 1973-1986
G.H.W. Bush: Pilot in WWII. Shot down by the Japanese
Tom Ridge: Bronze Star for Valor in Vietnam

Pundits and Preachers 
Sean Hannity: did not serve.
Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'pilonidal cyst.')
Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
Michael Savage: did not serve.
George Will: did not serve.
Chris Matthews: did not serve, joined the Peace Corps
Paul Gigot: did not serve.
Bill Bennett: did not serve.
Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
Bill Kristol: did not serve.
Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
Michael Medved: did not serve.

Raise your voice against House Demolitions in Gaza

Raise your voice against House Demolitions in Gaza
From ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions)

During the Second Intifada alone, Israel has demolished more than 4,500 Palestinian homes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories . Most of these homes were not demolished during combat but rather as part of Israel 's pro-active policy of asserting its control over the Territories.
Rafah in Gaza has received special attention due to Israel 's unilateral decision to disconnect it from the border with Egypt . For this reason Israel has already demolished about 1,500 homes in this tiny but densely populated area -- an area whose inhabitants have been made refugees and left homeless by Israel time and time again-- this time leaving 15,000 persons displaced and without a home. Israel 's policy of house demolitions is an act of war against non-combatant Palestinian civilians, a fundamental violation of international law and the ethics of war.

All of you reading this take coming home as a commonplace and routine act. For most Palestinians this is not the case. More than 40,000 Palestinians have lost their homes in the past four years. Some 11,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the Occupied Territories since 1967. Thousands of innocent families live under the constant threat of the destruction of their homes and lives.

We ask you to help us in our struggle to stop the continuing policy of house demolitions and to compensate those who have already lost their homes. We ask you to contact Israeli government officials, your ministry of foreign affairs and your parliamentary or congressional representatives, asking for the immediate halt of this illegal policy and compensation for the victims.

Following is a sample letter addressed to Israeli officials (addresses supplied). You can adapt it to your own political representatives.

To the Minister of….
Subject: Demolition of homes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Over and over again I hear of the tragedy of the demolition of Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories . I understand that in the Second Intifada alone already 4,500 homes have been demolished, leaving over 40,000 Palestinian civilians homeless and displaced. These figures are horrific and shocking. Have these innocent people received alternative housing or have they just been thrown out of their homes? After you already demolished around 1500 houses in Rafah, I am also concerned over reports of the imminent demolition of dozens of additional Palestinian homes in the Rafah area.

Rather than giving security to Israeli public, this policy is sowing seeds of hatred and revenge.

This is a war against a civilian population and is a clear violation both of military war ethics and international law.

I ask you to immediately implement the Fourth Geneva Convention protecting civilians in occupied territories. I demand the immediate cessation of house demolitions and compensation to the victims.

PM Ariel Sharon, ,
Fax: +972-2-5664838
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sylvan Shalom: ; Fax: +972-2-5303506
Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz: ; Fax: 972-3-697-6990
Minister of Justice, Yosef Lapid: , Fax: 972-2-6285438

Israeli Committee against House Demolitions
7 Ben-Yehuda St., PO Box 2030, Jerusalem 91020, Israel
Tel: 972-(0)2-624-5560 Fax: 972-(0)2-622-1530 Mobile 972-(0)546-314471
Email: Web:
Map of Palestine during Camp David 2000
On Camp David : “The Camp David Hoax”

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Abu Gharaib Female Prisoner Reveals Her Ordeal

Huda Alazawi was one of the few women held in solitary in the
notorious Iraqi prison, Abu Gharaib. Following her release, she
revealed her ordeal and whatever she experienced there while talking
to LUKE HARDING of The Guardian

In November last year 39-year-old Huda Alazawi, a wealthy Baghdad
businesswoman, received a demand from an Iraqi informant, who was
working for the Americans in Adhamiya, a Sunni district of Baghdad.
His demand was simple: Madame Huda, as her friends and family know
her, had to give him $10,000. If she failed to pay up, he would
write a report claiming that she and her family were working for the
Iraqi resistance. He would pass it to the US military and they would
arrest her.

`It was clearly blackmail,' Alazawi says. `We knew that if we gave
in, there would be other demands.' The informant was as good as his
word. In November 2003, he wrote a report that prompted US soldiers
to interrogate Alazawi's brother, Ali, and her older sister, Nahla,
now 45. Wearing a balaclava, he also led several raids with US
soldiers on the families' antique-filled Baghdad properties.
On December 23, the Americans arrested another of Alazawi's
brothers, Ayad, 44. It was at this point that she decided to
confront the Americans directly. She marched into the US base in
Adhamiya, one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces. `A US captain told
me to come back with my two other brothers. He said we could talk
after that.' On Christmas Eve she returned with her brothers, Ali
and Mu'taz. `I waited for four hours. An American captain finally
interrogated me. After 10 minutes he announced that I was under
arrest.' Like thousands of other Iraqis detained by the Americans
since last year's invasion, Alazawi was about to experience the
reality of the Bush administration's `war on terror'.

`They handcuffed me and blindfolded me and put a piece of white
cloth over my eyes. They bundled me into a Humvee and took me to a
place inside the palace. I was dumped in a room with a single wooden
chair. It was extremely cold. After five hours they brought my
sister in. I couldn't see anything but I could recognise her from
her crying.'

Alazawi says that US guards left her sitting on the chair overnight,
and that the next day they took her to a room known by detainees
as `the torturing place'. `The US officer told us: `If you don't
confess we will torture you. So you have to confess.' My hands were
handcuffed. They took off my boots and stood me in the mud with my
face against the wall. I could hear women and men shouting and
weeping. I recognised one of the cries as my brother Mu'taz. I
wanted to see what was going on so I tried to move the cloth from my
eyes. When I did, I fainted.'

In November last year 39-year-old Huda Alazawi, a wealthy Baghdad
businesswoman, received a demand from an Iraqi informant, who was
working for the Americans in Adhamiya, a Sunni district of Baghdad.
His demand was simple: Madame Huda, as her friends and family know
her, had to give him $10,000. If she failed to pay up, he would
write a report claiming that she and her family were working for the
Iraqi resistance. He would pass it to the US military and they would
arrest her.

Like most Iraqi women, Alazawi is reluctant to talk about what she
saw but says that her brother Mu'taz was brutally sexually
assaulted. Then it was her turn to be interrogated. `The informant
and an American officer were both in the room. The informant started
talking. He said, `You are the lady who funds your brothers to
attack the Americans.' I speak some English so I replied: `He is a
liar.' The American officer then hit me on both cheeks. I fell to
the ground.

Alazawi says that American guards then made her stand with her face
against the wall for 12 hours, from noon until midnight. Afterwards
they returned her to her cell. `The cell had no ceiling. It was
raining. At midnight they threw something at my sister's feet. It
was my brother Ayad. He was bleeding from his legs, knees and
forehead. I told my sister: `Find out if he's still breathing.' She
said: `No. Nothing.' I started crying. The next day they took away
his body.'

The US military later issued a death certificate, citing the cause
of death as `cardiac arrest of unknown etiology'. The American
doctor who signed the certificate did not print his name, and his
signature is illegible. The body was returned to the family four
months later, on April 3, after the Abu Gharaib torture scandal
broke. The family took photographs of the body, also seen by the
Guardian, which revealed extensive bruising to the chest and arms,
and a severe head wound above the left eye.

Alazawi says that US guards left her sitting on the chair overnight,
and that the next day they took her to a room known by detainees
as `the torturing place'.

After Ayad's body had been taken away, Alazawi says that she and 18
other Iraqi detainees were put in a minibus inside the military
compound. `The Americans told us: `Nobody is going to sleep
tonight.' They played scary music continuously with loud voices. As
soon as someone fell asleep they started beating on the door. It was
Christmas. They kept us there for three days. Many of the US
soldiers were drunk.'

Finally, after a US guard broke her shoulder as she left the
lavatory, Alazawi and her surviving siblings were transferred –
first to a police academy in Baghdad's interior ministry and then,
on January 4 2004, to Abu Gharaib prison.

Alazawi, who has a 20-year-old daughter, Farah, and a four-year-old
granddaughter, Safat, spent the next 156 days in solitary
confinement. Along with five other Iraqi women, she was held in Abu
Gharaib's infamous "hard site" – the prison block inside the
compound where photographs of American guards sexually humiliating
Iraqi prisoners had been taken two months previously. The women were
kept in the upstairs cellblock; male detainees regarded
as `difficult' were held downstairs. The vast majority of inmates
lived in a series of open tents surrounded by razor wire and US
guard posts.

In her first weeks at Abu Gharaib, before the US military launched
its internal investigation into prisoner abuse, torture was
commonplace, she says. `The guards used wild dogs. I saw one of the
guards allow his dog to bite a 14-year-old boy on the leg. The boy's
name was Adil. Other guards frequently beat the men. I could see the
blood running from their noses. They would also take them for
compulsory cold showers even though it was January and February.
From the very beginning, it was mental and psychological war.'

Alazawi is reticent about the question of sexual abuse of Iraqi
women but says that neither she nor any of the other women in Abu
Gharaib at the time were sexually assaulted by US guards. In his
subsequent report into the scandal, however, Major General Antonio
Taquba found that at least one US military policemen had raped a
female inmate inside Abu Gharaib; a letter smuggled out of the
prison by a woman known only as `Noor', containing allegations of
rape, was found to be entirely accurate. Other witnesses interviewed
by the Guardian have said that US guards `repeatedly' raped a 14-
year-old Iraqi girl who was held in the block last year. They also
said that guards made several of the women inmates parade naked in
front of male prisoners.

Alazawi says that she was held in a two-metre-square cell, initially
with no bed and a bucket for a toilet. For the first three weeks she
was entirely `mute' after being told that talking was forbidden. The
US guards gave her only one book, a Koran. She managed to steal a
pen, and recorded incidents of abuse, with dates, in its margins.
During her first few months in custody, the US soldiers were brutal,
petty and tyrannous, she says.

`Because I could speak a bit of English I was given the job of
emptying the rubbish. There was never enough food and one day I came
across an old woman who had collapsed from hunger. The Americans
were always eating lots of hot food. I found some in a packet in a
bin and gave it to her. They caught me and threw me in a one-metre-
square punishment cell. They then poured cold water on me for four
hours.' She wrote the date down in her Koran: February 24 2004.
For the first four months, apart from frequent interrogations, she
was not allowed out of the block. Alazawi says she was repeatedly
asked whether she was in the Resistance and whether she had fired
rockets at US soldiers (she is 5ft 3in tall). `It became a running
joke. The other women began to nickname me the Queen of the RPG
[rocket-propelled grenade]. The American interrogators were entirely
ignorant and knew nothing about Iraqi people. The vast majority of
people there were innocent.'

After the Abu Gharaib scandal broke in April, Alazawi was allowed to
exercise in the scrubby yard outside for 10 minutes a day. She got a
bed. She was also assigned a new female guard, `Mrs Palmer', who
helped the women with their English and in turn tried to learn
Arabic. In May, Major General Geoffrey Miller, assigned to Abu
Gharaib by Washington in the aftermath of the torture scandal,
escorted a large group of journalists around the prison for the
first time. The previous night, Alazawi says, US guards evacuated
all the juveniles and male detainees from her cellblock, leaving
only her and a handful of other women upstairs.

`Mrs Palmer told us that during the inspection we had to lie quietly
on our beds. She said that if we behaved we would be allowed to
spend more time out of our cells in the sun. The following day
General Miller turned up with a huge number of journalists. I heard
him telling them that some of the people kept in here were
murderers. I shouted out: `We are not the killers. You are the
killers. This is our country. You have invaded it.' After that they
didn't let me out of my cell for an entire month. A US officer came
to me and said: `Because of you we have all been punished'.'

Alazawi says she was unimpressed by Miller. `It was obvious he liked
having his photo taken,' she says. Over the next few weeks, the US
military began releasing hundreds of Abu Gharaib detainees as part
of a damage limitation exercise. Alazawi and her sister were moved
from their cells to a tent. Three generals also came to interview
her and asked her to describe what had happened to Ayad, her
brother. They did not, however, offer an apology. The other women
were gradually released, including her sister. Finally, on July 19,
a helicopter took Alazawi to Al Taji, a military base just north of

`After eight months in prison they suddenly treated me like a queen.
It was weird,' she says. `They offered me some Pepsi. I could take a
shower. There was air conditioning. There were four female soldiers
to look after me. The doctor came to see me four times in 24 hours.
They made me sign a piece of paper promising not to leave the
country. And then I was free.'

A US military spokesman said that Alazawi was known to him, but
disputed her claim to have been held in solitary for 157 days:'She
and her sister, which [sic] were the last two females we detained at
Abu Gharaib, were separated from the male detainees in keeping with
the cultural sensitivities.' He added, `The fact that abuses
occurred isn't really news any more. We know they did and those who
are accused are being prosecuted for it.'

Now Alazawi is trying to piece her life back together. She is back
at work in Baghdad, where she runs businesses importing foreign cars
and electrical goods, surrounded by respectful staff who bring
endless cups of sweet Iraqi coffee. Business appears to be
flourishing. Friends of the family in Arab dish-dash – many of whom
come from Iraq's Sunni elite – drop in and exchange gossip on her
white leather sofas. But after her release, her millionaire husband
announced that he was divorcing her.

Several of the other former women detainees in Abu Gharaib are
believed to have disappeared; others have husbands who have also
disowned them. Alazawi's surviving brothers, Ali – prisoner number
156215 – and Mu'taz – 156216 – are still inside Abu Gharaib. The US
military continues to detain them and 2,400 other prisoners without
charge or legal access, in contravention of the Geneva Convention.
Alazawi says that she has hired lawyers to pursue the Iraqi
informant who she blames for her brother's death.¨

Monday, November 15, 2004

Edward Said: A Contrapuntal Reading

Edward Said: A Contrapuntal Reading
By Mahmoud Darwish
New York / November/ Fifth Avenue

The sun a plate of shredded metal
I asked myself, estranged in the shadow:
Is it Babel or Sodom ?
There, on the doorstep of an electric abyss,
high as the sky, I met Edward,
thirty years ago,
time was less wild then...
We both said:
If the past is only an experience,
make of the future a meaning and a vision.
Let us go,
Let us go into tomorrow trusting
the candor of imagination and the miracle of grass/
I don't recall going together to the cinema
in the evening. Still I heard Ancient
Indians calling: Trust
neither horse, nor modernity
No. Victims do not ask their executioner:
Am I you? Had my sword been
bigger than my rose, would you
have asked
if I would have acted like you?
A question like that entices the curiosity
of a novelist,
sitting in a glass office, overlooking
lilies in the garden, where
the hand
of a hypothesis is as clear as
the conscience
of a novelist set to settle accounts
human instinct... There is no tomorrow
in yesterday, so let us advance/
Advancing could be a bridge
leading back
to Barbarism.../
New York . Edward wakes up to
a lazy dawn. He plays
Runs round the university's tennis
Thinks of the journey of ideas across
and over barriers. He reads the New York Times .
Writes out his furious comments. Curses an Orientalist
guiding the General to the weak point
inside the heart of an Oriental woman. He showers. Chooses
his elegant suit. Drinks
his white coffee. Shouts at the dawn:
Do not loiter.
On wind he walks, and in wind
he knows himself. There is no ceiling for the wind,
no home for the wind. Wind is the compass
of the stranger's North.
He says: I am from there, I am from here,
but I am neither there nor here.
I have two names which meet and part...
I have two languages, but I have long forgotten
which is the language of my dreams.
I have an English language, for writing,
with yielding phrases,
and a language in which Heaven and
Jerusalem converse, with a silver cadence,
but it does not yield to my imagination.
What about identity? I asked.
He said: It's self-defence...
Identity is the child of birth, but
at the end, it's self-invention, and not
an inheritance of the past. I am multiple...
Within me an ever new exterior. And
I belong to the question of the victim. Were I not
from there, I would have trained my heart
to nurture there deers of metaphor...
So carry your homeland wherever you go, and be
a narcissist if need be/
The outside world is exile,
exile is the world inside.
And what are you between the two?
Myself, I do not know
so that I shall not lose it. I am what I am.
I am my other, a duality
gaining resonance in between speech and gesture.
Were I to write poetry I would have said:
I am two in one,
like the wings of a swallow ,
content with bringing good omen
when spring is late.
He loves a country and he leaves.
[Is the impossible far off?]
He loves leaving to things unknown.
By traveling freely across cultures
those in search of the human essence
may find a space for all to sit...
Here a margin advances. Or a centre
retreats. Where East is not strictly east,
and West is not strictly west,
where identity is open onto plurality,
not a fort or a trench/
Metonymy was sleeping on the river's bank;
had it not been for the pollution
it could have embraced the other bank.
- Have you written any novels?
ï I tried... I tried to retrieve
my image from mirrors of distant women.
But they scampered off into their guarded night.
Saying: Our world is independent of any text.
A man cannot write a woman who is both enigma and dream.
A woman cannot write a man who is both symbol and star.
There are no two loves alike. No two nights
alike. So let us enumerate men's qualities
and laugh.
- And what did you do?
ï I laughed at my nonsense
and threw the novel
into the wastepaper basket/
The intellectual harnesses what the novelist can tell
and the philosopher interprets the bard's roses/
He loves a country and he leaves:
I am what I am and shall be.
I shall choose my place by myself,
and choose my exile. My exile, the backdrop
to an epic scene. I defend
the poet's need for memories and tomorrow,
I defend country and exile
in tree-clad birds,
and a moon, generous enough
to allow the writing of a love poem;
I defend an idea shattered by the frailty
of its partisans
and defend a country hijacked by myths/
- Will you be able to return to anything?
ï My ahead pulls what's behind and hastens...
There is no time left in my watch for me to scribble lines
on the sand. I can, however, visit yesterday
as strangers do when they listen
on a sad evening to a Pastorale:
"A girl by the spring filling her jar
"With clouds' tears,
"Weeping and laughing as a bee
"Stings her heart...
"Is it love that makes the water ache
"Or some sickness in the mist..."
[until the end of the song].
- So, nostalgia can hit you?
ï Nostalgia for a higher, more distant tomorrow,
far more distant. My dream leads my steps.
And my vision places my dream
on my knees
like a pet cat. It's the imaginary
the child of will: We can
change the inevitability of the abyss.
- And nostalgia for yesterday?
ï A sentiment not fit for an intellectual, unless
it is used to spell out the stranger's fervour
for that which negates him.
My nostalgia is a struggle
over a present which has tomorrow
by the balls.
- Did you not sneak into yesterday when
you went to that house, your house
in Talbiya, in Jerusalem ?
ï I prepared myself to sleep
in my mother's bed, like a child
who's scared of his father. I tried
to recall my birth, and
to watch the Milky Way from the roof of my old
house. I tried to stroke the skin
of absence and the smell of summer
in the garden's jasmine. But the hyena that is truth
drove me away from a thief-like
- Were you afraid? What frightened you?
ï I could not meet loss face
to face. I stood by the door like a beggar.
How could I ask permission from strangers sleeping
in my own bed... Ask them if I could visit myself
for five minutes? Should I bow in respect
to the residents of my childish dream? Would they ask:
Who is that prying foreign visitor? And how
could I talk about war and peace
among the victims and the victims' victims,
without additions, without an interjection?
And would they tell me: There is no place for two dreams
in one bedroom?
It is neither me nor him
who asks; it is a reader asking:
What can poetry say in a time of catastrophe?
and blood,
in your country,
in my name and in yours, in
the almond flower, in the banana skin,
in the baby's milk, in light and shadow,
in the grain of wheat, in salt/
Adept snipers, hitting their target
with maximum proficiency.
and blood
and blood.
This land is smaller than the blood of its children
standing on the threshold of doomsday like
sacrificial offerings. Is this land truly
blessed, or is it baptised
in blood
and blood
and blood
which neither prayer, nor sand can dry.
There is not enough justice in the Sacred Book
to make martyrs rejoice in their freedom
to walk on cloud. Blood in daylight,
blood in darkness. Blood in speech.
He says: The poem could host
loss, a thread of light shining
at the heart of a guitar; or a Christ
on a horse pierced through with beautiful metaphors. For
the aesthetic is but the presence of the real
in form/
In a world without a sky, the earth
becomes an abyss. The poem,
a consolation, an attribute
of the wind, southern or northern.
Do not describe what the camera can see
of your wounds. And scream that you may hear yourself,
and scream that you may know you're still alive,
and alive, and that life on this earth is
possible. Invent a hope for speech,
invent a direction, a mirage to extend hope.
And sing, for the aesthetic is freedom/
I say: The life which cannot be defined
except by death is not a life.
He says: We shall live.
So let us be masters of words which
make their readers immortal -- as your friend
Ritsos said.
He also said: If I die before you,
my will is the impossible.
I asked: Is the impossible far off?
He said: A generation away.
I asked: And if I die before you?
He said: I shall pay my condolences to Mount Galilee ,
and write, "The aesthetic is to reach
poise." And now, don't forget:
If I die before you, my will is the impossible.
When I last visited him in New Sodom,
in the year Two Thousand and Two, he was battling off
the war of Sodom on the people of Babel ...
and cancer. He was like the last epic hero
defending the right of Troy
to share the narrative.
An eagle soaring higher and higher
bidding farewell to his height,
for dwelling on Olympus
and over heights
is tiresome.
farewell poetry of pain.
Translated by Mona Anis


American military hopes to end the insurgency by turning to Iraqi tribal traditions.   By Abdel Karem al-Hashemy in Baghdad

Taxi driver Satar Majeed Suleiman walked out of Abu Ghraib prison this June, after spending nearly a year behind bars. Like many of his fellow prisoners, Suleiman says he had no involvement in the anti-Coalition insurgency for which he was detained. "I was shooting in the air to frighten thieves, when an American patrol passed by," he said.
As a result, he spent months in a harsh place where, though he was not beaten, he had little protection against the cold of the desert winter and the heat of summer.   US forces do not "arrest anyone without a reason", said Lieutenant Colonel Tim Ryan, US military commander responsible for the area west of Baghdad , which includes Suleiman's home of Bab al-Sheikh.   Ryan agreed to release Suleiman after the taxi driver's local tribal leader, Sheikh Abdul Rida al-Aweili, agreed to vouch for the detainee's good behaviour.
Similar assurances are being sought across the region, one of the centres of Iraq 's insurgency.   They have led to the release of elderly men in poor health, tribal elders, and at least two women, whose detention, Aweili said, had been a cause of tension.   "We are sure that some were arrested because of false accusations," the sheikh said.   He also said the assurances were being made to enable tribal leaders to reassert their authority, and to restrain their followers, angry at intrusive raids and what they consider to be unjustifiable detentions.   While not conceding the innocence of those detained, the US military acknowledged that it erred in ignoring the role of the sheikh as mediator between the population and the central authority.   "It was a mistake for us to ignore the tribal customs of the Iraqi culture," said Captain Joseph James, public affairs officer for Ryan's 2-12 Cavalry, in an email to IWPR.
Now, the unit has begun to release prisoners if their sheikh will guarantee that they will not participate in attacks.   "Sheiks should submit a list of names for prisoners that they guarantee not to conduct future attacks against Coalition forces," James said.   "If the agreement is breached, Sheiks will be notified and that they should either bring the person to the Coalition or show us his whereabouts.   "In return, the US troops are committed not to arrest any person without notifying the tribal council, not arresting women, not raiding houses and mosques, and to respect Iraqi tradition and customs."   If the attacks cease, James continued, the US military can "move forward" in developing the region, saying that, altogether, some 336 detainees have been released through the policy in the Abu Ghraib region.   "We hold to the agreement [with the American troops] and we must respect it. Any one who breaches it will be held accountable by his tribe leader," said Sheik Hashem Najem al-Hasen al-Mohammadi, head of the region's Iraqi tribes association.
Still, many of the released detainees remain angry over their detentions.   "They treat dogs better than us," said Abd al-Wadood Katab, 40, a professor of psychology at the University of Tikrit .   Katab said he was held 14 months in the southern detention centre of Bucca for possessing weapons and inciting violence.   "They used to leave us with no cold water, they shouted and struck us. I haven't done anything to be arrested - all Iraqis possess weapons," he said.   Abdel Karem al-Hashemy is an IWPR trainee.

Prisoner Abuse covered up

LONDON (Reuters) - The U.S. general formerly in charge of Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison said on Tuesday abuse of Iraqi captives was hidden from her in a cover-up that may reach all the way to the Pentagon or White House.
Speaking on the same day a U.S. soldier at the center of the prisoner abuse scandal is due to face a military court, Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski said she was deliberately kept in the dark about abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners.

"A very reliable witness has made a statement indicating that, not only was I not included in any of the meetings discussing interrogation operations, but specific measures were taken to ensure I would not have access to those facilities, that information or any of the details of interrogation at Abu Ghraib or anywhere else," Karpinski told Britain 's BBC radio.
Karpinski, responsible for the military police who ran prisons in Iraq when pictures were taken showing prisoners being abused, has been suspended from her post but not charged with any crime.
She said that those with "full knowledge" of what was going on in Abu Ghraib worked to keep her from discovering the truth.
Asked if a cover-up meant involvement of the White House or Pentagon, she said: "I have not seen the statement but the indication is it may have."
Photographs of U.S. military police abusing hooded prisoners in Abu Ghraib and accusations of abuse by British and other troops have fueled Arab and international anger, shaking President Bush 's efforts to stabilize Iraq.
In Britain , an Iraqi witness alleged at a court hearing last week that UK soldiers had tortured detainees by beating and kicking them and pouring freezing water over them.
U.S. Private First Class Lynndie England , the 21-year-old military police officer who became the public face of inmate abuse at Abu Ghraib, faces a hearing on Tuesday to determine whether she will be tried on charges of abuse and committing indecent acts.
Karpinski told the BBC she never personally witnessed abuse at Abu Ghraib or at any of the prisons she commanded.
She has also said she was told by a military intelligence commander that detainees should be "treated like dogs."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Why I fear for the dream of my life

Why I fear for the dream of my life
Abdul Bariatwan
Sunday November 14, 2004
The Observer,6903,1350959,00.html

I was born 54 years ago in a refugee camp in Gaza. My parents were illiterate and, like thousands of others, were forced to leave their home town in 1948 to create space for the Jewish immigrants pouring into Palestine from Europe.

My parents' abiding dream was to go back to the farm and mud-brick house in Ashoud, their sleepy home town on the Mediterranean. But they spent their lives in transit, waiting for this dream to come true. Their dream lives on in me and in my children, too.
Yasser Arafat worked very hard for 40 years towards the independent Palestinian state he longed for, yet never saw. Despite his mistakes, he brought this dream closer. He brought the Palestinian cause into the global arena and the resolution of this struggle is now of enormous significance in determining the security of the world, not only the Middle East.
I was deeply saddened by Arafat's death, not only because I knew him personally, but also because Arafat, like my parents, spent his life in transit, from Amman to Beirut to Tunisia and thence to Palestine. What an irony it is that, even in death, his coffin is in transit, awaiting his final transfer to Jerusalem.
Last Friday, George W Bush and his closest ally, Tony Blair assured us that we would see such a state within the next four years - but we have heard this story before. Before the invasion of Iraq, Bush assured the world that an independent Palestinian state would be in place before the end of 2005.
The American project in Iraq is a fiasco. The war which was supposed to be over on 9 April 2003 has started all over again.
This is the climate in which Bush and Blair have revived the notion of an independent Palestinian state - without a single indication of how this will be achieved.
Bush asserts that an independent Palestinian state must be a democracy. But what constitutes democracy in this lexicon? Will this concept simply become a useful tool, replacing Arafat as justification for Israeli atrocities, delays to the peace process and the establishment of a Palestinian state? In 1996, Arafat was elected leader in an election supervised by US and Israel, yet how easily he was written off three years ago when those same powers found him insufficiently yielding in the peace process.
The US insists it is enabling democracy in Iraq - a benefit that has cost 100 000 lives. If this is the kind of democracy Bush wishes to impose on the Palestinians, we have every reason to be afraid. Very afraid.
· Abdul Bariatwan is editor of al Quds