Saturday, March 25, 2006


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We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men: George Orwell

They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening : George Orwell

Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind: George Orwell

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them: George Orwell

To read this newsletter online

And here are two quotes I wish to add which are pertinent to the issue discussed below:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.
John Donne

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Anyway I wish to begin by using a collection of recent news items relating to the US Administration’s War on Terror .

Bush hails Afghanistan on surprise visit
By Kim Sengupta in Lashkar Gar, Helmand
Published: 02 March 2006
The Independent on line

President George Bush has visited Afghanistan for the first time since the invasion by the US and Britain and said the country was on the road to success.

Mr Bush, speaking at a public appearance with the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, said the US remained committed to the future of Afghanistan and praised the progress made following the overthrow of the Taliban regime.

In a press conference with Mr Karzai, Mr Bush told the Afghan people their democracy was taking hold: "You are inspiring others and the inspiration will cause others to demand their freedom."

Bush Asks U.S. to Look Past Iraq Bloodshed

Tuesday March 21, 2006 4:01 AM
Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - Beginning the fourth year of an unpopular war, President Bush defended his Iraq record on Monday against skeptical questioning. He said he could ``understand people being disheartened'' but appealed to Americans to look beyond the bloodshed and see signs of progress.

Bush fielded questions for nearly an hour at the City Club, a forum known for its tough interrogations of world leaders. Not only was he grilled on Iraq, but he also was asked to justify his warrantless wiretapping program, U.S. relations with Pakistan and his domestic priorities.

Anyway in the not so rosy world of George Bush the situation isn’t quite the way Bush pretends it to be which brings us to the case of the Afghanistan citizen Abdul Rahman.

Afghan trial of Christian 'troubles' Bush

By Stephen Dinan
March 23, 2006

WHEELING, W. Va. -- President Bush yesterday said he was "deeply" troubled by the trial in Afghanistan of a Christian who could face execution for converting from Islam and vowed to pressure the Afghan government on the matter.
"It is deeply troubling that a country we helped liberate would hold a person to account because they chose a particular religion over another," Mr. Bush said.
Abdul Rahman could face the death penalty for rejecting Islam. He converted to Christianity 16 years ago while working for a Christian aid organization in Pakistan, but it just came to light recently during a custody battle over his two children.
While nations such as Italy and Germany lodged strong protests earlier this week against the trial, the U.S. State Department on Tuesday was more tepid, calling the case a matter for Afghan authorities.
Yesterday, Mr. Bush took a much firmer stance.
"We have got influence in Afghanistan, and we are going to use it to remind them that there are universal values," he said.
It appeared yesterday that Afghanistan was looking for a way out of the international furor over the matter. The Associated Press, reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, quoted a prosecutor as saying Mr. Rahman may be mentally unfit for trial.

Anyway one of the top stories this week has been the trial in Afghanistan of Abdul Rahman who was a Muslim who became a Christian & this we are told is against the law in Afghanistan.
Abdul Rahman is being tried in Afghanistan not just for renouncing Islam & becoming a Christian but for then refusing to return to Islam. This means that the New Afghanistan government does not support Freedom of Religion. There are few who would believe that anyone should be arrested & tried for their religious beliefs. But under the extremist interpretation of Islamic law which is called Sharia any Muslim who converts to another faith & refuses to return to Islam can be tried & executed & it appears that the trial in this case is just a formality to appease moderate Muslims & possibly America & the rest of the West. It shows that either Islamic extremist or “ Fundamentalist ” do not quite grasp what democracy & a free pluralistic society entails or they regard it as unimportant .
This goes against the basic principles of a free society. In a free society people are free to join whatever religious group they wish. They also have the freedom to reject all religious beliefs. Individuals can in a free society believe whatever they wish they can be Christian, Buddhist, Hindu ,Pagan or Scientologist or even belong to the Flat Earth Society . This comes with certain caveats that they do not interfere with the beliefs or practices of others. This is to protect those who belong to various religious groups so that they will not be persecuted by those who are in power . All then are free from any form of religious tyranny whether that tyranny is by the majority or by a powerful minority .
It is strange how a religious minority which feels persecuted once they get into power they then choose to persecute those with different religious beliefs from their own .

It is somewhat bizarre though that this case of blatant injustice against an Afghan citizen should arise just after George Bush praised President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan & his government for being an example of a just & democratic government. Ousting the former Taliban Government doesn’t seem to have brought about the changes which Bush claims have taken place in that country. The people of Afghanistan are still being ruled by a tyrannical & oppressive regime that does not respect human rights & freedoms. The same allegations have also been made concerning the present government installed in Iraq . The people of Iraq who do not adhere to this strict extremist form of Sharia Law also complain that those with power nationally or locally are trying to enforce the same sort of repressive regulations on the general population.
It is also unfortunate for we Canadians since our troops are now playing a major role in propping up this rather unsavory American puppet regime.
As for the on-going abuses by government forces in Afghanistan a US government report released in March 2006 claims:

That “Kabul's treatment of prisoners has been harshly condemned.

"There continued to be instances in which security and factional forces committed extrajudicial killings and torture. Torture and abuse consisted of pulling out fingernails and toenails, burning with hot oil, sexual humiliation and sodomy," the U.S. State Department said in assessing its Afghan ally this month.
And :
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission found that "torture continues to take place as a routine part of police procedures." ’


U.S. not fighting for right to execute converts

Media General News Service

WASHINGTON -- The case of Abdul Rahman, on trial for his life in Afghanistan for the crime of converting to Christianity, couldn't have come at a worse time for President Bush.

The president went on the campaign trail last week, trying to convince people that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are worth the cost in American lives and dollars. The United States is fostering the "universal thought" of liberty, Bush insisted, and people everywhere are desperate for freedom.

But the headlines indicated that freedom is a surprisingly hard sell.

Four years into the war, Bush said that some future president will decide when to bring all the troops home from Iraq. American troops will be there at least until 2009.

The news from Kabul showed how little has changed in Afghanistan in the post-Taliban era. Afghanistan has a constitution, but Islamic law, known as Sharia, governs. And it prohibits converting from Islam on pain of death.

People may debate about whether the "good news" from Iraq is getting out, but everybody gets the Christian convert story.

Rahman, 41, converted to Christianity some 16 years ago while working in Germany and Pakistan. He returned to Afghanistan, where he got embroiled in a child custody battle with his ex-wife. His family, shamed by his conversion, turned him in. He openly declares he's a Christian. Now, he faces a trial and execution. ”

And now let’s see if we can sort all of this out so here goes...
It is interesting how much attention this case has been given by the Media in Europe & Canada & the United States. I wonder if the case would have received as much attention if it involved a Muslim who became a Hindu or Buddhist or some other religion other than Christianity.

It is also interesting that this case has over-shadowed recent allegations of American & British forces involved in human rights violations & war crimes in Iraq.
In one case we have a video of British troops viciously beating up several Iraqi youths-
In another case Americans are accused of murdering eleven members of a family including five children.

There is also the allegations in the case of several British soldiers who were arrested dressed as Iraqi civilians & were in the act of setting up a car bomb to explode in a market in Iraq- were they working for the British or just more rogue elements or a few more bad apples who do not represent the official army of occupation and besides how will we ever know- the Blair regime is no better at being truthful than the Bush regime.

It also bothers me that the Massacre of Muslims whether in Iraq over the last three years or the massacre of Muslims in Bosnia 1995 or the 2002 Gujarat massacre of Muslims in India are often down-played by our press & are often reported as an afterthought rather than headline news in the way that Abdul Rahman’s case has become. The Massacre in India & Bosnia were committed with the help or by the inaction of the governments in power & ignored or downplayed by the International Community.
I don’t mean to try to diminish the importance of his case . “ the death of one person diminishes me” But he is also a victim of the same sort of indifference to Human Rights & Freedom which seems to be growing rather than lessening as Bush & Blair & Harper claim. Since they claim the World is a better place after the Invasions of Afghanistan & Iraq & will be even better after they teach the Iranians a lesson in diplomacy & brute force. And they get away with all of this wrapping themselves in their respective flags & the superiority of Christianity & Western Values though they toss away such values whenever it suits their purpose . For example they go to great lengths justifying the use of “ Renditions” & Torture & imprisoning people without due process & obliterating an entire city like Fallujah etc.

Part of the problem is that some of us in the West actually believe in these so called Western Values which we believe ought to be universal values but those in power merely pay lip service to such values. In the end those in power such as the Neo-Cons & their backers the Religious Right only believe in maintaining & increasing their wealth & power & pushing forward their Ideology. And as I have said before both groups use each other to promote their own agendas.
The other point I would make is that the Political Christian Right or at least its leaders believe in a form of Protestant Fundamentalism has a lot in common with the Extremist Islamist of the Taliban & those who are now in power in Afghanistan & Iraq.
As for the Christian Religious Right they also like the Extremist Islamic groups wish to transform our society so that it adheres to their peculiar fundamentalist view of the Bible as the literal & inerrant word of God. They claim they wish to return to a traditional view of Christianity but it is not a traditional view at all but a radical innovative mean spirited view of Christianity the roots of which dates back only to about a century or so & does not date back to the first couple of centuries of the history of Christianity. Their God is a God of wrath & vengeance & not of Compassion or love except for the Chosen elect & they somehow are able to discern all of the thoughts of God & therefore know exactly what God desires of us & who are the chosen & who are the damned & the damned includes 90% of Humankind who one way or the other will pay for their grave sins.
The other odd thing about all of this is that when President George Bush a Born-Again Protestant Fundamentalist who when faced with a real that is open Press Conference seems a little out of touch with reality. He & those around him seem to believe; if we all just close our eyes & clap our hands or click our heels together & wish that everything is okay in Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever then everything will be okay. Like Peter Pan “ I do believe in Fairies; I do I do! ” Millions of Americans , British & Canadians seem quite willing to accept this form of “ Magical Thinking ”.
But maybe with the case of Abdul Rahman like the controversy over the administration’s Port Deal with the United Emirates this will lead to more people becoming aware that there is something gone terribly wrong in the War on Terror &the steady diet of Propaganda which we have been fed & the rosy picture Bush promotes does not represent the reality of the situation.

In regards to the case of Abdul Rahman we can contrast it with a real crime committed by American soldiers which has received almost no press-coverage since it did not agree with Bush’s rosy picture of the War on Terror .
The case involves a vicious premeditated murder of an imprisoned Iraqi General carried out by American soldiers one of whom was charged & tried but his sentencing given the enormity of the deed is laughable & people in the west wonder why Muslims & Arabs do not take all this talk about freedom & justice seriously so here is part of the piece presented by Robert Fisk:

The farcical end of the American dream
The US press is supposed to be challenging the lies of this war
By Robert Fisk

Mr Welshofer, it transpired in court, had stuffed the Iraqi General Abed Hamed Mowhoush head-first into a sleeping bag and sat on his chest, an action which - not surprisingly - caused the general to expire. The military jury ordered a reprimand for Mr Welshofer, the forfeiting of $6,000 of his salary and confinement to barracks for 60 days. Welshofer's wife's Barbara, , "testified that she was worried about providing for their three children if her husband was sentenced to prison. 'I love him more for fighting this,' she said, tears welling up in her eyes. 'He's always said that you need to do the right thing, and sometimes the right thing is the hardest thing to do'".

And as for the rights of POWS or Detainees when it comes to getting a fair trial here is a report from the Australian newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald taken from transcripts of hearings at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp recently released:

One of them records the trial of since-released British prisoner Feroz Abbasi, in which Mr Abbasi vainly pleads with his judge, a US air force colonel, to reveal the evidence against him, something he says he has a right to hear under international law.

the American colonel replied: "Mr Abbasi, your conduct is unacceptable and this is your absolute final warning. I do not care about international law. I do not want to hear the words international law. We are not concerned about international law." ’

It should be noted that not all Muslims believe that Abdul Rahman or anyone else should be punished for leaving Islam & converting to another religion. For example The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) March 22 in a press-release & open letter to the Afghanistan government & to President George Bush referring to Abdul Rahman states “ the man’s conversion is a personal matter not subject to the intervention of the state ”. The letter then goes on to argue that the Quran does not support treating converts from Islam to another religion as criminals as they argue:

“Islamic scholars say the original rulings on apostasy were similar to those for treasonous acts in legal systems worldwide and do not apply to an individual’s choice of religion. Islam advocates both freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, a position supported by verses in the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, such as:

1) ‘If it had been the will of your Lord that all the people of the world should be believers, all the people of the earth would have believed! Would you then compel mankind against their will to believe?’ (10:99)
2) ‘(O Prophet) proclaim: ‘This is the Truth from your Lord. Now let him who will, believe in it, and him who will, deny it.’’ (18:29)
3) ‘If they turn away from thee (O Muhammad) they should know that We have not sent you to be their keeper. Your only duty is to convey My message.’ (42:48)
4) ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion.’ (2:256)

“Religious decisions should be matters of personal choice, not a cause for state intervention. Faith imposed by force is not true belief, but coercion. Islam has no need to compel belief in its divine truth. As the Quran states: ‘Truth stands out clear from error. Therefore, whoever rejects evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks.’ (2:256)

“We urge the government of Afghanistan to order the immediate release of Mr. Abdul Rahman.”

Before issuing its statement, CAIR consulted with members of the Fiqh Council of North America, an association of Islamic legal scholars that interprets Muslim religious law. ”

Check out CAIR website
( the site also contains press-releases which condemned the terrorist attacks of
9/11 )

Also check out : The American Muslim
Press Releases
God told me to invade Iraq, Bush tells Palestinian ministers

AND then there is the Ides of March Massacre in Iraq for instance check out:
Julian Borger in Washington
Tuesday March 21, 2006
The Guardian

Iraqi police have accused American soldiers of executing 11 Iraqi civilians, including four children and a six-month-old baby, in a raid on Wednesday(March 15) near the city of Balad, it was reported yesterday.

In last year's Haditha incident, US troops are accused of killing civilians after a bomb attack. An initial marine report on the incident said a roadside bomb on November 19 last year killed a lance corporal and 15 Iraqi civilians. But further investigation revealed that the civilians had been shot with marine weapons after the blast.

and according to an investigative report about the incident done by TIME Magazine:
“A nine-year-old survivor, Eman Waleed, who lived in a house 150 metres from the roadside bomb attack told Time magazine that after the explosion her father began reading the Qur'an. "First, they went into my father's room, where he was reading the Qur'an, and we heard shots," she said. "I couldn't see their faces very well, only their guns sticking into the doorway. I watched them shoot my grandfather first in the chest and then in the head. Then they killed my granny."’

and further:

Empire Burlesque
US Raid on home killed 11 family members
By Amer Amery

03/16/06 - TIKRIT, Iraq, March 15 (Reuters) -

A senior Iraqi police officer said autopsies on the bodies, which included five children, showed each had been shot in the head. Community leaders said they were outraged at the killings and demanded an explanation from the U.S. military.

Also check out:

US Marines investigated for Iraq war crimes
By Jenny Booth and agencies
About a dozen US Marines are being investigated for possible war crimes after the deaths last year of 15 Iraqi civilians caught in the crossfire during a gun battle with insurgents.

And for more commentary on these alleged massacres & photos see:

Killing Women and Children: The “My Lai Phase” Of The Iraq War
By Mike Whitney
03/20/06 "ICH" -- --

March 15 was another defining moment in America’s downward moral-spiral in Iraq. Eleven members of an Iraqi family were killed in a wanton act of slaughter executed by American occupiers. Photos taken at the scene show the lifeless bodies of young children, barely old enough to walk, lying motionless in the back of a flatbed truck while their fathers moan inconsolably at their side.

US Marines investigated for Iraq war crimes
By Jenny Booth and agencies

Crying Wolf: Media Disinformation and Death Squads in Occupied Iraq
by Max Fuller
November 10, 2005

The evidence was sufficiently compelling for the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), a leading Sunni organisation, to issue public statements in which they accused the security forces attached to the Ministry of the Interior as well as the Badr Brigade, the former armed wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), of being behind the killings. They also accused the Ministry of the Interior of conducting state terrorism (Financial Times).

CIA death squads operating in Iraq
By Henry Michaels
8 April 2003

also see William Blume

THURSDAY FEB. 16, 2006

Coffins containing bodies of 11 men found shot dead in Baghdad on 1 February
Sunni Arab Iraqis have long complained about death squads
Iraq has launched an investigation into claims by the US military that an Iraqi interior ministry "death squad" has been targeting Sunni Arab Iraqis.

Anyway Bye for now
“ Good Night & GOOD LUCK ”

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