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04/03/2003 Archived Entry: ""

On the Political Front:

Tom Tommorow's latest cartoon...Ouch.

Before continuing onto the depressing -- albeit endlessly fascinating -- details of war...let me provide escapism because, God knows!, I need it. This site offers cute, fun, and free games to distract you. And the inimitable "Onion" offers some much-appreciated satire, inlcuding, "Saddam Speech Suspiciously Mentions Nelly Song From Last Summer" and "Bush thought war would be over by now," in which Bush is quoted as saying, "I knew the war would require courage and fortitude on the part of American people. What I didn't know was that it would go on for days and days and days." Meanwhile, "NBC Moves War To Thursdays After Friends." And...the 10 least likely things you will hear on the news about the war.

The Arabic-language al-Jazeera Satellite Channel has suspended the activities of its correspondents in Iraq after that country's government asked its reporter to leave Baghdad.

The Rumsfeld schism over strategy continues, with political muscle being flexed on behalf of Rummy. The Times Online reports, "A new chapter opened yesterday in the battle for control of US policy in postwar Iraq. A US official told The Times that Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, was resisting State Department appointments to the administration-in-waiting, [ed.: could the appointment be Barbara Bodine, the woman slated to administer a post-Saddam Baghdad?] at least one of whom is already in Kuwait. [ed: Bodine is currently in Kuwait.] He said that the Pentagon had ruled that Mr Rumsfeld should personally approve appointments to the temporary US-British administration, “and there are many people who question his authority to take that decision, including, I assume, the Secretary of State”.

What is the US strategy? It seems to be a single-focus drive toward Baghdad, without securing the South through which its supply lines must negotiate. Moreover, the North is almost unpenetrated in terms of US control: the battle is still shaping up to be between the Kurds and the Turks, the latter of whom has refused any assurance that it will stay out of the region as the US desires. Once the US troops arrive at Baghdad, one option is "to surround and squeeze."

Domestically...Consider "the case of senior Intel Engineer Maher Mofied 'Mike' Hawash. Hawash has been arrested on undisclosed charges and detained. He has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but owes his loss of liberty - and constitutional rights - because he has detained as a "material witness" on the grounds of giving to a charity. The flippant headline masks a deadly serious issue. Our government sees no big problem in imprisoning citizens without due process, and then keeping them penned up with little or no access to legal assistance, much less their families." Another account..."Simultaneously, FBI agents in bulletproof vests and carrying assault rifles awoke Mike's wife Lisa and their three children in the home, which they proceeded to search. Since then, Mike has been held in the Federal Prison at Sheridan, OR." Facts to consider...

Mike is a U.S. citizen, is held without being charged with any crime;
Mike is being held in solitary confinement, with limited access to his lawyers and wife, and no access to his children;
Mike is being held as a material witness, but he has not been interrogated by the federal authorities;
Mike has been a U.S. citizen and resident for 14 years. He is an Arab-American. His wife Lisa was born and raised in Roseburg, OR, and stepchild and children were born and raised in the Hillsboro, OR, where they live;
The warrants and subpoenas in Mike's case are all secret, sealed by the court at the U.S. government's request;
Mike has a job, a home, a family, and deep roots in his community. Historically, "material witness" arrests were solely for grand-jury or trial witnesses who were either a "flight risk" or represented a "danger" to the community. The U.S. has held other middle-eastern men for as long as 15 months without charge as "material witnesses".

Again, his crime was to give a donation to a charity, Global Relief Fund, which distributes zakat or charity - one of the pillars of Islam - to fund health facilities in the occupied West-Bank territories and Mosques and Muslim schools in the US. Last Fall, the charity was accused of "links" with Al-Qaeda, which it denied, suing the US state after its accounts were frozen.

On the Personal/Movement Front:

Damon Chetson of the Institute for Humane Studies writes to me, "IHS has created a new website to reach out to the types of students who have protested recently against free trade -- many of the same students who are also protesting against the war. IHS also offers "a free summer workshop on Globalization & Poverty. We're also sponsoring a $10,000 essay contest -- if you'd like to let visitors to your website know about these programs and the website, I'd much appreciate it."

Best to all,

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