In this Democracy Now! web exclusive, you can look back through our coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the voices of peace and dissent as President George W. Bush quickly led the nation into war, and the attack on civil liberties that continues to this day. Democracy Now! presents an interactive timeline, documenting the most important coverage of the 9/11 attacks and its aftermath in the first year. For our latest 9/11 coverage, visit DemocracyNow.org.
Created by DemocracyNow on Sep 2, 2011
Last updated: 09/12/11 at 05:18 PM
Tags: 9/11 Afghanistan Iraq Bush Democracy Now! news
At this time, the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, there are peace rallies being held all over the country.
In Los Angeles, relatives of the victims of the September 11 attacks brought a packed Baptist church to its feet, calling for no war on Iraq.
In New York in Washington Square Park, thousands more gathered on the eve of the anniversary for an overnight peace vigil. Several people spoke and performed.
Tape: Manning Marable, Professor of African American Studies and the Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University. He is co-founder of the Black Radical Congress, a national network of African-American activists. He is the author of 13 books; Kathy Kelly, co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness, established in 1996 to seek an end to U.N. sanctions against Iraq. Voices has brought Americans into Iraq to witness the devastating effects of the sanctions, to deliver food and medicine to the people of Iraq, and to educate the US public upon their return. She has twice been nominated for a Nobel prize.
Today, a day after the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, President Bush will address the United Nations General Assembly.
Administration officials say Bush will challenge the UN to enforce resolutions requiring Iraq to accept the destruction of its chemical and biological weapons. The US will seek a single, toughly worded Security Council resolution that would authorize military action if Iraq refuses comprehensive inspections. Bush will tell the UN that its authority will be wrecked unless it forces Iraq to comply with previous resolutions.
This is exactly why people are on the East River, across from the United Nations, right now. Activists have hung a gigantic banner that says: "Earth to Bush! No Iraq War!"
Guest: Jason Mark, organizer with Global Exchange.
Many people say this is the day terror came to the United States. But a number of communities in this country have known terror for a long time.
Guests: Martin Luther King III, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization his father founded in 1957. His father was assassinated April 4, 1968; Odetta, blues, folk, gospel singer. Considered the "Queen of American Folk Music," Odetta has introduced audiences worldwide to American roots music and especially African-American folk, blues and gospel. As a major voice in the American Civil Rights Movement, she marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, sang for the masses in Washington in 1963, and performed for President John F. Kennedy at a civil rights presentation on national television; Greg Palast, investigative reporter with the BBC. Palast just won a Project Censored award for his piece in the London Guardian, 'FBI and US Spy Agents Say Bush Spiked Bin Laden Probes Before 11 September.'
Some 20,000 people gathered in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco for a daylong rally and concert to call for peace on Saturday. The "911 Power to the Peaceful Festival" brought together musicians, artists and activists committed to social justice and against war. We speak with Michael Franti, hip-hop artist, activist, and one of the organizers of the event. [includes rush transcript]
The festival was first held four years ago to call attention to Mumia Abu-Jamal’s impending execution. The date 9/11 was chosen to note the emergency status of Mumia’s case. But after last year’s attacks, the date 9/11 took on a wider significance.
The day began with a moment of peaceful meditation. Then rapper KRS-One, musician, and Green Party candidate Jello Biafra, hip-hop artists Michael Franti and Mystic, Mario Africa from MOVE, Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange and many others spoke and performed.
Tape: Michael Franti, hip hop artist and activist, and one of the organizers of the rally.
Today in New York, 300 U.S. lawmakers will meet in a special joint session to mark the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Congress hasn’t convened in the city in over 200 years.
Today’s session will take place at Federal Hall. The Hall is located on the site where the first Congress met, where the Bill of Rights was written and where George Washington was inaugurated in 1790 as the first president of the United States.
Guest: Howard Zinn, historian, author of "A People's History of the United States."
As the White House cracks down on unions in the name of the so-called war on terrorism, a well-known business leader is taking to the streets in protest at the Pentagon’s budget.
Yesterday, New Yorkers were treated to a parade of Rolling Piggies, with a 12-foot rolling piggy bank representing the Pentagon budget towing two small piggy banks-proportionately representing the US budget for education and world hunger.
Who was behind all of this? The co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Ben Cohen. He has just formed a new organization called the True Majority. He is also founder and President of Business Leaders For Sensible Priorities, which mobilizes business leaders to redirect U.S. federal budget priorities away from Cold War military spending levels and toward meeting basic human needs.
Guest: Ben Cohen, founder of the True Majority, an organization formed in response to 9-11, and co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s. He is also founder and President of Business Leaders For Sensible Priorities, which mobilizes business leaders to redirect U.S. federal budget priorities away from Cold War military spending levels and toward meeting basic human needs. And, he is also helping to launch a company called Sweat X, which produces active wear in a unionized, employee-owned garment factory in Los Angeles for people who don’t want to wear clothes manufactured in sweatshops.
The Financial Times reported yesterday that disgruntled Saudis have pulled tens of billions of dollars out of the US. One analyst said the total funds withdrawn by individual investors amount to $200 billion. Other bankers put the figure nearer to $100 billion.
The US-Saudi alliance was put under severe strain after September 11, when 15 of the 19 alleged hijackers were Saudi nationals.
The Financial Times said accusations that Saudi Arabia’s austere brand of Islam breeds terrorism and its charities finance Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network have been perceived in the kingdom as attacks on Saudi society and its religion.
An analyst from the Rand Corporation said at a Pentagon briefing this month that Saudi Arabia was the "kernel of evil", exacerbating concerns among the country’s elite that they have become demonized in the US and their money is no longer safe there.
As part of the fight against terrorism, the US and Saudi authorities have been monitoring the accounts of dozens of Saudi companies and individuals, a move that alarmed Saudi merchants.
Guests: Gregory Gause, Director of Middle East Studies at the University of Vermont and author of "Oil Monarchies: Domestic and Security Challenges in the Arab Gulf States;" Allen Gerson, co-counsel representing family members of 9-11 suing Saudi nationals, and co-author of "The Price of Terror". Gerson sued the government of Libya for the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Newsweek magazine reported this week that two men interviewed by the magazine gave plausible accounts of having seen Osama bin Laden alive last winter, one as late as mid-February. One, who is described as a former Taliban official said bin Laden escaped Afghanistan on horseback last December under U.S. fire. This is just the latest in dozens of reports on the man George W Bush once vowed he would bring to justice "dead or alive." Since Bush’s frequent and public vows to kill or capture bin Laden, U.S. officials have backed off and now say they don’t know whether he is dead or alive. As the one year anniversary of September 11 approaches, serious questions have been raised about what some call the Bush administration’s failure to prevent the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
This comes as an explosive new book published originally in France has hit bookstores in America. The Book is called, "Forbidden Truth: US-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for Bin Laden."
Guest: Jean-Charles Brisard, who along with investigative journalist Guillaume Dasquie, is co-author of, "Forbidden Truth: US-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy And the Failed Hunt for Bin Laden." Prior to September 11th, he was hired by French Intelligence to investigate Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
Hundreds of New York City low-wage workers marched on Washington yesterday. Chanting "Health care, not toxic air" in Cantonese, Spanish and English, the workers say the Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied low-income residents of lower Manhattan emergency aid for health care, rent and unemployment in the wake of September 11.
Guest: Michael Lalan, Beyond Ground Zero Network.
The Pentagon is struggling to contain revelations that a US gunship attacked an Afghan wedding party, killing and wounding scores of guests. Monday’s assault was the most deadly "friendly fire" incident since the US began military operations in Afghanistan last October.
Yesterday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called US commanders to his office and demanded that they take all necessary measures to avoid any more civilian deaths. The events threaten a serious rift between US forces in Afghanistan, the new government and its population.
But more than 36 hours after the assault by a US B-52 bomber and an AC-130 gunship was launched on Uruzgan province, details still remain unclear. The Afghan foreign minister said 40 people had died, including a family of 25, and that a further 100 were wounded. But some reports say up to 120 people were killed.
According to local officials and survivors, U.S. warplanes fired on a village for more than two hours after mistaking traditional celebratory gunfire at a rural wedding for ground fire aimed at U.S. forces.
Defense officials said today they no longer believe that an errant 2,000-pound bomb from a B-52 could have caused the casualties. But they held open the possibility that a U.S. gunship was responsible. A team of US and Afghan investigators are expected to arrive in Uruzgan province today to begin an investigation.
Monday’s attack is the second widely-reported episode of civilian deaths during a U.S. military assault in the province of Uruzgan. In January, U.S. Special Forces stormed the village of Hazar Qadam, killing at least sixteen Afghans. U.S. officials later acknowledged that none of the dead or captured had been Taliban or al Qaeda members.
Well, yesterday on Democracy Now! we spoke to Masuda Sultan, an Afghan-American, about her own family’s story of devastation by US military strikes on Afghanistan. Seeking refuge from the US bombing, many members of her family escaped to the small village of Chowkar-Karez, 60 miles north of Kandahar. On October 22, Chowkar-Karez was attacked and 41 civilians were killed. Nineteen of them were members of Masuda’s family.
Today we are going to follow Masuda Sultan on her journey back to Afghanistan last December. Her journey was made into a film called "Afghanistan: From Ground Zero to Ground Zero," produced by Jon Alpert and Tami Alpert of Downtown Community TV.
Tape: Afghanistan: From Ground Zero to Ground Zero.
Hundreds of low-income New Yorkers marched through lower Manhattan yesterday to protest the cover-up of September 11th's toxic aftermath. They also demanded the Red Cross and FEMA change their disaster relief procedures, saying they discriminate against immigrants and low-income people.
Michael Andrade-Lalan, representative, Beyond Ground Zero Coalition and member, National Mobilization Against Sweatshops.
Congressional leaders on Tuesday launched hearings on whether the FBI and CIA overlooked signals that warned of September 11th. The joint House-Senate hearings took place under high-security, in a soundproof room on the top floor of the capitol building.
The hearings follow revelations that the CIA told the FBI 18 months ago that one of the 9-11 hijackers was attending a meeting of suspected terrorists in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and that he had a type of visa which should have drawn suspicion.
The disclosure contradicts repeated assertions by senior FBI officials that bureau headquarters had no information about Khalid Almihdhar until 3 weeks before the September attack.
As recently as yesterday afternoon, FBI officials said the CIA’s failure to share information had possibly resulted in a missed opportunity to unravel the Sept. 11 plot.
President Bush said yesterday he was concerned that the congressional inquiry could jeopardize the so-called war against terrorism. But chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Bob Graham, disagreed. He called the first day’s session "extremely constructive". He said the inquiry will focus on establishing a timeline of what was known before September 11th, examining the so-called strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. intelligence system, and suggesting likely reforms.
Meanwhile, Attorney General John Ashcroft has already declared some reforms of his own. Last week he announced a broad loosening of restrictions on the FBI’s ability to conduct domestic surveillance, particularly on political and religious organizations. Under the old rules, agents had to show they had probable cause or information from an informer that crimes were being committed to begin counterterrorism investigations. Now they will be able to monitor Internet sites, libraries and religious institutions without first having any evidence of potential criminal activity.
The restrictions were imposed on the FBI in the 1970s after revelations that it had run a widespread domestic surveillance and sabotage program by the name of COINTELPRO. The name stands for "Counterintelligence Program," but the targets were not enemy spies but rather "radical" political activists inside the US. These included the Black Panthers, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and antiwar activists.
Guests: David Kairys, professor of constitutional law, Temple University. Kairys is a nationally renowned constitutional lawyer. He had been in practice in Philadelphia with the firm of Kairys and Rudovsky since 1971 and has been Philadelphia counsel for the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee. He edited the 1998 edition of "The Politics of Law," (3d ed., Basic Books), and wrote "With Liberty and Justice for Some (New Press," 1993). Ed McGowan, author of the "Camden 28."
F.B.I. director Robert Mueller III acknowledged Wednesday for the first time the September 11 attacks might have been preventable if officials in his agency had responded differently to all the pieces of information that were available.
As recently as May 8, Mueller told a Senate hearing there was nothing the agency could have done to prevent the attacks.
Mueller said as a result of the FBI failures he is overhauling the FBI to aim more resources toward its new primary mission: the prevention of new terrorist operations.
The FBI will more than double the bureau’s anti-terror forces, and permanently devote nearly a quarter of the bureau’s workforce to counterterrorism units. The bureau will also hire 900 linguists, computer experts, engineers and scientists over the next few months. Dozens of CIA employees will be placed in FBI field offices around the country.
The overhaul is in response to increasing revelations over what the FBI knew before September 11. Last week, Minneapolis FBI agent Coleen Rowley wrote a caustic, 13-page letter to Mueller accusing FBI headquarters of hampering the investigation into alleged 20th hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui. She says officials at FBI headquarters resisted seeking search warrants and admonished agents who sought help from the CIA.
In the other well-known example, FBI agent Kenneth Williams wrote a memo on July 10, 2001 in which he expressed his concerns about a number of Arab flight students he was monitoring in Phoenix, Arizona. He did not specify the students had any links to al-Qa’ida, but he raised the prospect that the terror network could use American flight schools to train its members to launch attacks on US targets.
Democracy Now! contacted FBI headquarters yesterday to request an interview, but our calls and faxes were not returned.
Tape: Robert Mueller, head of the FBI, at a press conference held Wednesday.
Guest: Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter, and author of an article in the current New Yorker magazine, "Missed Messages: why the government didn’t know what it knew."
The State Department yesterday issued a report accusing seven nations of "sponsoring terrorism." These included Cuba, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Iran, North Korea and Iraq. The annual report also noted that so-called terrorist attacks claimed a record number of lives in 2001. September 11th was responsible for 90 percent of them.
The articles about the report do not explain how its authors determined what is a terrorist attack and what is not. But it seems clear from the tallies that the thousands killed in the bombing of Afghanistan do not count as victims of terrorism. Nor do those killed in Palestine by Israeli soldiers wielding US weapons. American crimes are simply not considered crimes.
Well, we are going to turn now to a speech by scholar Noam Chomsky on the long and bloody history of US-sponsored terrorism. He gave the speech at Stanford University in mid-march, just days after the 6-month anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
Tape: Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chomsky is a leading scholar and critic of US foreign policy and the author of many books, including, "9-11," recently published by Seven Stories Press.
Rebel Without a Pause–that’s the name of the New York comedian Reno’s new act.
Her own website explains: "An opinionated alternative comedian who creates heavily improvised topical monologues with wit, political consciousness and common sense. Reno was awakened on September 11th by the impact of the first plane crash, just blocks from her loft. She became the first artist to publicly exorcise her conflicted experiences, with audiences looking for words to describe their own confusion."
Before Rebel Without a Pause, Reno had been wrestling with a monologue about "that other religious militant group"–fundamentalist Christians.
Before that, Reno produced, directed and starred in a TV show called Citizen Reno, which aired on Bravo.
She won a Cable Ace nomination for the adaptation for HBO of her off-Broadway hit Reno in Rage and Rehab.
Two days ago Reno was nominated for the Drama Desk Award. She joins us now in our firehouse studio.
Guest: Reno, activist and comedian.
Listen to part 2 of this interview.
On March 11, the 6 month anniversary of the September 11 attacks, most Americans reflected on the day 2 planes toppled the towers of the World Trade Center and crashed into the Pentagon, killing some 3,000 people. Many also reflected on the changes last six months have brought.
But March 11 was very different for Raja Aftab Iqbal, a Pakistani immigrant living in Brooklyn, and several police officers from Precinct 70 (of Abner Louima fame). On that day, Raja Iqbal says police officers began harassing him. He says they yelled "Taliban" and other slurs, pushed him to the ground, beat him up, arrested him, and threw him in jail. Afterwards, Iqbal says he was released and told not to report the incident.
Raja Iqbal, with the help of human rights activists and one of Abner Louima’s lawyers, is suing the City of New York for $45 million.
We’re joined by Bobby Khan, an advocate for the Pakistani community in Brooklyn. He is a longtime pro-democracy activist in Pakistan in the 1980s who was arrested some 40 times and still has 3 bullets lodged in his body. We’ll also talk about Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf’s decision to hold a national referendum to extend his term by 5 years, circumventing the entire election process. Religious groups and Pakistan’s main alliance of political parties have vowed to boycott the referendum. Yesterday, Pakistani police broke up a demonstration by an opposition party and arrested all 15 participants.
Guests: Bobby Khan, community advocate for the Pakistani community in Brooklyn, working with the Coney Island Avenue Project; Sanford Rubenstein, attorney for Raja Aftab Iqba, as well as for Abner Louima.
The Justice Department announced yesterday that it would seek the death penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui, the French citizen accused of being the 20th hijacker in the September 11 attacks. The trial will be held in Virginia this September.
The French justice minister responded by saying that France would refuse to provide evidence to support the charges against Moussaoui that carried the death penalty.
The 33-year-old Frenchman of Moroccan descent, who converted to Islam while living in London, was in jail on immigration charges at the time of the attacks. He is the only person so far to stand trial for the attacks.
We have just gained an exclusive interview with the mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, the 20th accused hijacker.
Guest: Aicha Elouassi, mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, the French citizen accused of being the 20th hijacker in the September 11 attacks.
Translator: Sputnik Kilabmi, reporter for Free Speech Radio News.
After breathing in thick dust and fumes from burning jet fuel, search and rescue workers and other emergency personnel who toiled through the World Trade Center rubble after September 11 are experiencing a high level of respiratory illness. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Senate committee hearing this week that twenty-five percent of New York City firefighters "have some kind of respiratory, bronchitis, or asthmatic reaction."
But it’s not only the rescue workers. Chronic coughs, upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma plague residents and students at Ground Zero. And they are leading a campaign to change conditions where they work ,live and go to school.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health insists that asbestos levels around Ground Zero are not toxic. The Environmental Protection Agency issued a statement two days after the attacks that insisted there were no substantial levels of asbestos, lead, cadmium or other toxics in the air near the World Trade Center site. But most people do not believe them.
On Monday, the EPA ombudsman held a second investigative hearing on the World Trade Center site’s hazardous waste contamination, hosted by Congressman Jerrold Nadler. The EPA Ombudsman’s investigation has turned up evidence of what they call a "chemical attack." They say the EPA and city officials continue to lie about the safety of the air near Ground Zero. Today we are going to have a debate about the toxicity at Ground Zero.
Guests: Juan Gonzalez, co-host, Democracy Now! and columnist for the New York Daily News who has been covering the issue of the World Trade Center clean-up; Hugh Kaufman, Environmental Protection Agency Ombudsman chief investigator; George Thurston, associate professor, Department of Environmental Medicine, New York University School of Medicine. He has been conducting studies on the site with the Community Outreach and Education Program Resource Center of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS); Milton Diaz, foreign language and English teacher at Stuyvesant high school, near the World Trace Center site. He is the first teacher to have spoken out about the conditions around his school.
It is 27 degrees today outside in New York, a chilling reminder of the events of the day six months ago. Today is the six-month anniversary of the September 11th. On that day, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and sent them hurtling into some of the most vaunted symbols of American might and power: the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. More than three thousand people died in the attacks. Since then, thousands more have lost their lives in the US bombing of Afghanistan. Few people in this country know exactly how many Afghans have died or who they are. Just as we go to broadcast, the country is holding the second of two minutes of silence marking each time the planes hit the towers. Later this evening, New York will hold a "Tribute in Light," ceremony, where the opera singer Jessye Norman will sing "America the Beautiful." Twelve year-old Valerie Webb, whose father, a Port Authority police officer, died on Sept. 11, will turn on the first switch to light the 88 bulbs installed at two locations near ground zero. The lights will fully illuminate after 20 seconds, creating two tall beams of light. In memory of the six-month anniversary of 9/11, news outlets around the country have put together retrospectives of the day and the weeks that followed. To watch them is to be alternately moved by the stories of loss and to be sent hurtling through the looking glass, into a world in which there is no nation more victimized than the United States, no president more heroic than George W. Bush, and no cause more just than the bombing of Afghanistan. Well today on Democracy Now!, we are not going to take you through that looking glass. Instead, we are going to give you a series of reflections, glimpses of reality since September 11th. In the months that followed the attacks, Democracy Now! worked overtime to broadcast a daily, two-hour "War & Peace Report." The report was Democracy Now’s answer to the warp and whitewash of mainstream reporting. Today, in memory of 9/11 and all that has happened since, we bring you highlights of the War & Peace Report. We begin with Democracy Now’s broadcast from the firehouse in the moments and hours after the towers were hit. Guests: Robert Knight, news reporter with Pacifica New York station WBAI; Ryme Katkhouda, producer with WBIX, WBAI radio in Exile; Howard Zinn, Radical historian and author of ??A People’s History of the United States; Patti Smith, Singer-songwriter; Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ziad Abbas, founder of the Dheishe Refugee Camp Youth Program; Haider Rizvi, U.N. reporter and freelance journalist. He is of Pakistani descent, and was beaten unconscious by three white men in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope in late-October. He currently writes forthe Indo-Asian News Service, and formerly wrote for the Village Voice and the InterPress Service; Farid Esack, visiting professor of Theology at Auburn Seminary in New York and a leading Muslim figure in the anti-Apartheid struggle, he spent four years as the head of South Africa’s commission on gender equality. He is als oa leading Muslim scholar and author of, "Qur’an, Liberation" and "Pluralism and On Being a Muslim." Masuda Sultan, a young Afghan-American woman who lost 19 members of her extended family when the US bombed their farm outside Kandahar. Rita Lasar, a native New Yorker who lost her brother in the World Trade Center on September 11.
In his State of the Union address several weeks ago, President Bush declared that US military action in Afghanistan’s had successfully liberated the country’s women from the Taliban’s grip. In rousing tones, he announced: "The last time we met in this chamber, the mothers and daughters of Afghanistan were captives in their own homes, forbidden from working or going to school. Today women are free, and are part of Afghanistan’s new government."
But have Afghan women really been "liberated"? And are they really better off now than under the Taliban? Well, as women around the world celebrate International Women’s Day, a group of Afghan women leaders and women’s rights activists from around the world are holding their first meeting in Kabul to discuss ongoing challenges and historic next steps for Afghan women. The meeting brings together more than 30 prominent Afghan women leaders, who have traveled against all odds from Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat, and other regions. The discussions are a follow up to the Afghan Women’s Summit For Democracy, which was held in Brussels in December. The goal of the Summit was to bring the voices of Afghan women into the political discourse and ensure that women have equal say and rights in the new interim government.
We head now to Kabul to speak with some of the organizers of this weekend’s talks on the future of Afghan Women.The event is sponsored by V-Day, the global movement to stop violence against women and girls, as well as Equality Now and the Center for Strategic Initiatives of Women.
Guests: Eve Ensler, playwright and founder of V-Day. Ensler traveled underground in Afghanistan two years ago,long before the international community began to pay attention the situation of Afghan women. The Kabul talks coincide with the opening of Ensler’s play "Necessary Targets" Off-Broadway in NYC. Based on interviews with numerous women who survived the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, "Necessary Targets" provides a timely reminder of theeffects of war on women in America and overseas; Hibaaq Osman, Founding Director of the Center for the Strategic Initiatives of Women, an organization that has been convening women leaders across Somalia and Sudan to promote peace efforts in the region. She was born in Somalia.
With great fanfare, the Bush administration has pledged to fortify the nation’s "anti-terrorism" protections by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new computer systems to keep tabs on foreign students and visitors. The nation’s approximately 600,000 foreign students have come under particular scrutiny since the September 11 attacks.
But visitors on foreign visas are not the only targets of the war at home. Activists and civil liberties lawyers point out that the so-called "war on terrorism" is an open door to surveillance of activist communities. We turn now to Ward Churchill, Cherokee scholar and long-time activist with the American Indian Movement, who has first hand knowledge of government surveillance and infiltration of organized activism. He is co-author of Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret War Against the Black Panther Party and The COINTELPRO Papers, and professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado.
Guest: Ward Churchill, Cherokee scholar and activist, co-author of Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret War Against the Black Panther Party and The COINTELPRO Papers, and professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, speaking at a forum in New York last weekend. Recorded by Justin Lipman of the New York City Independent Media Center.
At the top of the agenda when the White House public relations "war room" convened for its morning meeting on Afghanistan yesterday were media reports that apparently innocent Afghan prisoners had been beaten by their U.S.military captors.
On top of a string of nagging reports of miss-targeted bombs and dead civilians, two of the Pentagon’s recent biggest triumphs — the killing of 21 Taliban and capture of 27 more in a commando raid north of Kandahar, and last weekend’s launch of a Hellfire missile at a tall man who might have been Osama bin Laden — appear instead to have been tragedies.
Even in the White House, the Afghan war has moved beyond its black and white days, when President Bush proclaimedthat the world could be neatly divided into us and them. Now it has taken on shades of gray. The U.S. military,accustomed to being the undisputed good guys in this conflict, has grown defensive over reports of possible errors. The response of the administration, reflected in yesterday’s "war room" meeting, has been to defer to ever-on-going investigations, and suggest that seemingly innocuous villagers may actually be terrorists.
But there are those who have spoken out about the "gray areas" of the so-called "war on terrorism," since shortly after the attacks of September 11th. We turn now to a speech Professor Noam Chomsky gave on December 8, at a conference sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, at Tufts in Cambridge, MA.
Tape: Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a leading scholar and critic of US foreign policy and the author of many books, including, "9-11," just published by Seven Stories Press.
The last time George Bush stood before Congress, it was just days after the September 11th attacks. On that evening,he declared in no uncertain terms his so-called war on terror. Now, nearly five months later, he has pledged to push that war still farther beyond Afghanistan to a dozen countries that he said harbor so-called terrorist camps. He also warned of an "axis of evil nations" like North Korea, Iran and Iraq, and said the United States would not allow them to threaten the world with weapons of mass destruction. Towards these ends, he asked Congress to increase Pentagon spending by nearly $50 billion. It would be, Bush boasted, the largest increase in military spending in two decades
At the same time, the President also proposed doubling spending on so-called Homeland Security measures. This, he referred to as his second big priority. It includes intelligence gathering, border security, and local emergency response programs. The measures are expected to cost the nation almost $40 billion.
As for domestic issues what Bush called the "final great priority of [his] budget" the President spoke, onceagain in military terms, of making war on the recession to bring "economic security" to the country. He asked Congress to back his education, free trade, and corporate tax break policies, as well as to embrace his welfare,health care, and environmental initiatives. With the address dominated by talk of war and "terrorism," however, h eoffered few details on the policies.
Today, on "Democracy Now!," we have convened our own kind of congress to respond to the President’s address. Call it a shadow congress, with members like Howard Zinn, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Adolph Reed, Sonali Kolhathar and Ralph Nader.
Howard Zinn, radical historian, activist, and author of "A People’s History of the United States."
Blanche Wiesen Cook, Distinguished Professor of History and Women’s Studies at the John Jay College andthe Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Author of multiple books, including "The Declassified Eisenhower" and "Eleanor Roosevelt: A Biography."
Adolph Reed, Jr., Professor of Political Science at the New School University and an active member of the Labor Party. Some of his books include: "WEB Du Bois and American Political Thought" and "Class Notes: Posingas Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Political Scene."
Sonali Kolhathar, spokesperson for the Afghan Women’s Mission, which works closely with the RevolutionaryAssociation of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA).
Ralph Nader, Green Party Presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000. He is currently on tour for his mostrecent book, "Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender."
The Pentagon is reporting that American special forces descended on two Taliban compounds last Thursday, killing 15 and taking tens more captive. In the days since the raid, Afghans living in the area have begun to tell a different story. They say that the U.S. forces attacked a school not a compound, and that those killed were neither Taliban nor al-Qaida, but local people sent to negotiate the surrender of weapons from Taliban in the area. The Pentagon has denied the allegations, but on Sunday, a delegation of villagers arrived in Kandahar to complain to Afghan authorities that the U.S. Army had killed innocent people in its violent raid. The villagers had traveled some 100miles to tell their story; it had taken them more than three days.
Meanwhile, a small delegation of Americans was making its own kind of pilgrimage to bear witness. Four people who lost loved ones in the September 11th attacks, traveled to Afghanistan to meet others who had lost loved ones. Fornine days, they toured the country, sharing their grief and gathering the stories of the second Ground Zero. When it was over, they vowed to tell the tales of the forgotten victims and to demand that the United States create a compensation fund for innocent Afghans like the one they created for innocent Americans.
Yesterday, three members of that delegation visited us in our firehouse studio.
Guests: Rita Lasar, who lost her brother, Abe Zelmanowitz, at the World Trade Center; Kelly Campbell, whose brother-in-law Craig Amundson was killed in the Pentagon attack; Medea Benjamin, founding director of Global Exchange, the group that organized the trip to Afghanistan.
Hundreds of people descended on the MacDill Airforce Base in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, to protest the US war in Afghanistan. It was the largest protest in the area since September 11.
Organizers planned the protest to coincide with the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. King is known as the greatest civil rights activist this country has ever seen, but is lesser known for his opposition to the Vietnam War.
Today, on the federal holiday recognizing Kings birthday, were joined by Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Florida Alliance for Peace and Social Justice.
At a rally and town hall discussion this weekend in Washington DC called Dr. Kings Legacy: Protecting Civil Liberties in the Wake of September 11th, the Reverend Al Sharpton spoke about Kings legacy.
Guests: Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Florida Alliance for Peace and Social Justice; founder and chairman of the African Peoples Socialist Party, founder and leader of the Uhuru movement; Reverend Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network; Asma Abdel Halim, women’s rights activist and lawyer from Sudan.
Yesterday, Secretary of State Colin Powell became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Afghanistan in 25 years. He arrived en route from Pakistan and stayed just long enough to meet with interim Afghan ruler Hamid Karzai.
Meanwhile, a small delegation of Americans was in the midst of a very different, but equally unprecedented, Afghan journey. On Tuesday, four Americans who lost loved ones in the September 11th attacks arrived in Kabul to meet with Afghans who lost loved ones in the U.S. bombing. They came to share their grief and to draw attention to the thousands of lives lost in the so-called "war on terror." Their message: reconciliation, not revenge.
The journey of these four Americans–from one ground zero to another was organized by the Global Exchange, an international human rights organization. During their eight days in the country, they will meet with grieving families, speak with Hamid Karzai, and witness the devastation of the last four months of bombing. They are ambassadors of a different kind of United States. Yesterday, we reached two members of the delegation by satellite phone from Kabul: Rita Lasar, whose brother Abe Zelmanowitz died a hero in the attack on the World Trade Center.Derrill Bodley, who lost his daughter Deora on United Airlines flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania.
Guests: Rita Lasar, whose brother, Abe Zelmanowitz, died in the World Trade Center attacks; Derrill Bodley, a professor of music who lost his daughter Deora on United Airlines flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania.
Today, we will meet a doctor who has treated a parade of Ground Zero patients: a lawyer working on behalf of police union activists investigating why so many cops are coughing; a parent whose son goes to Stuyvesant High School, blocks from Ground Zero, where kids are suffering nosebleeds and other respiratory problems; organizers who started a free mobile health unit to treat the hundreds of sick workers; and a woman who was sent to the emergency room twice because of toxins in her apartment. A roundtable discussion.
Guests: Marilena Christodoulou, Head of the Stuyvesant High School Parents Association; Omar Henriquez, Safety and Health Specialist, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH); Joel Kupferman, Director, New York Environmental Law and Justice Project; Dr. Stephen Levin, medical director, Mt. Sinai Hospital and the Irving J. Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine; Joel Shufro, Executive Director, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH); Wendy Tabb, resident, lower Manhattan, who had to leave her apartment because her symptoms were so severe and still has not moved back.
Tape: Nora Rosenthal, organizer, Center for the Biology of Natural Systems.
From one Ground Zero to another, from New York to Afghanistan. Right now on Democracy Now!, a New Yorker who lost her brother in the World Trade Center attacks and an Afghan American who lost 19 members of her family in the U.S. bombing will meet face to face for the first time.
Guests: Masuda Sultan, a young Afghan-American woman who lost 19 members of her extended family when the U.S. bombed their farm outside Kandahar several weeks ago; Rita Lasar, a native New Yorker who lost her brother in the World Trade Center on September 11; Douglas Gansler, Montgomery County State Attorney; M. R. Tabatabai, brother of Ali Tabatabai, who was assassinated outside Washington, D.C. in July 1980, and President of the Iran Freedom Foundation in Bethesda, Maryland.
We turn now to a story about one of the most powerful companies you’ve never heard of. The company is called The Carlyle Group and in the wake of the events of September 11th, its power and influence have become significantly stronger. The company operates within the so-called iron-triangle of industry, government and the military. Its list of former and current advisers and associates includes a vast array of some of the most powerful men in America and indeed around the world. It has also brought together the current Secretary of State Colin Powell, former President George Bush, and a man named Bakr Bin Laden - Osama bin Laden’s half brother.
In just a moment we are going to be speaking to Dan Briody from Red Herring magazine. He’s written an extensive piece on the company called: "Carlyle’s Way: Making a Mint Inside "The Iron Triangle" of Defense,Government and Industry." It begins:
"Like everyone else in the United States, the group stood transfixed as the events of September 11 unfolded. Present were former secretary of defense Frank Carlucci, former secretary of state James Baker III, and representatives of the bin Laden family. This was not some underground presidential bunker or Central Intelligence Agency interrogation room. It was the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., the plush setting for the annual investor conference of one ofthe most powerful, well-connected, and secretive companies in the world: the Carlyle Group. And since September 11,this little-known company has become unexpectedly important."
"That the Carlyle Group had its conference on America’s darkest day was mere coincidence, but there is nothing accidental about the cast of characters that this private-equity powerhouse has assembled in the 14 years since its founding… And as the Carlyle investors watched the World Trade towers go down, the group’s prospects went up."
Guest: Dan Briody, is a Senior Writer for Red Herring Magazine; Phil Berrigan, is a longtime peace time activist and a member of the Jonah House community in Baltimore. He was just released from prison where he served some 2 years for an anti-nuclear plowshares action in which he and several other people hammered on A-10 warthog attack planes. These warplanes generally drop depleted uranium.
We just finished what should have been the busiest shopping season of the year, but in lower Manhattan it doesn’t feel like it.
On White Street in Manhattan, just blocks north of Ground Zero and around the corner from the studio’s of Democracy Now, a young man stands in the cold, calling to passersby to check out his selection of "pants, sweaters, shirts, coats, hats, scarves, and mittens." He was hired to work in the stock room of Men’s Express, a discount clothing store, but recently his job was expanded to include standing outside and attracting customers. Though he shivers in the cold for as many as eight hours a day, he says that his songs have brought little business.
Meanwhile, just several blocks down, a waiter stands idly by the door of Sparks Restaurant, a family business that has been in the area for more than 100 years. His tips have dropped to a trickle, but he knows he is lucky: his employers have stopped taking a salary so that their staff could keep their jobs.
And then, still further south, only yards from where the Towers once stood, a middle-aged woman waits patiently in her frame store, her faced poised for the customers who rarely come. To help save on the electric bills she can no longer pay, she has shortened her store’s hours. She is afraid that soon she will have to close her business altogether.
Well, it has been nearly four months since the attack on the World Trade Center, but in lower Manhattan, small businesses are still reeling from the impact. Some 10,000 small businesses operate in lower Manhattan, and many are reporting losses of more than 40 percent.
To help stem these losses, a range of private organizations and government agencies have begun offering both grants and loans to struggling businesses. However, business owners have complained, in a growing chorus, that the grants are too small and that loan agencies are not approving loans. Since the disaster, for example, the United States Small Business Administration has approved only about one in three applications for disaster loans.
In November, Governor Pataki and Mayor Giuliani appointed members of the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corporation,an 11-member agency charged with rebuilding all of Manhattan south of Houston Street. While corporate and political interests are well represented, there are no representatives of small business. Many are beginning to wonder whether they have been forgotten.
Today on Democracy Now! in Exile, we will hear from these forgotten business owners.
Guests: Soon In Kang, owner of Four Star Nail Salon on John Street; Shapoor Noory, owner of coffee and donut cart, Broadway and Franklin; Minh Koh, owner of Koh Art Gallery, West Broadway; A.J. Cope, bartender at the Raccoon Lodge; Lizzy Ratner, Democracy Now! in Exile.
Last week, the State Department began a public service campaign to prevent international terrorism. That was one of a series of PSAs recorded for general release on radio stations. At the same time as the US escalates the so-called "war on terrorism," and law enforcement rounds up non-citizens, holds them in secrecy and moves toward implementing military tribunals, US media debates pressing suspected terrorists with torture.
There haven’t yet been any presidential directives or pleas from the attorney general to allow such extreme measures. But some FBI investigators have been itching for heavier tools in their interrogations of alleged 9-11 material witnesses. As one experienced FBI agent told the Washington Post, "We are known for humanitarian treatment. So, basically, we are stuck. It could get to that spot where we could go to pressure ... where we won’t have a choice, and we are probably getting there."
Several weeks ago, Democracy Now spoke to Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter-who wrote a piece called "Time to think about torture," which begins:
"In this autumn of anger, even a liberal can find his thoughts turning to... torture. OK, not cattle prods or rubber hoses, at least not here in the United States, but something to jump-start the stalled investigation of the greatest crime in American history. Right now, four key hijacking suspects aren’t talking at all. Couldn’t we at least subject them to psychological torture, like tapes of dying rabbits or high-decibel rap?"
Of the many ideas for prosecuting the war on terrorism that have come out of the last few months, the idea that has most surprised and angered civil libertarians actually came from one of their own. In an op-ed piece in the LA Times last month, Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz suggested using "Torture Warrants": court orders to control what Dershowitz calls the "inevitable" use of torture by U.S. law enforcement. He claims torture is constitutional, and says its sanctioning by warrant would make it more accountable and transparent. "If we are to have torture," he argues, "it should be authorized by the law."
But civil liberties attorney Harvey Silverglate - who has worked with Dershowitz on several cases - holds closer to the traditional libertarian view that torture is detrimental to a democratic society. He deconstructed Dershowitz’s claim this week in the Boston Phoenix. Today on the show, we’ll revisit torture and civil liberties with yet another debate.
Guests: Harvey Silverglate, criminal defense and civil liberties attorney and co-author of "The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses," co-founder of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education ("FIRE"); Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law Professor and author, most recently, of "Letters to a Young Lawyer." Dershowitz’s clients have included kidnap victim-turned terrorist Patty Hearst, junk bond king Michael Milken, televangelist Jimmy Bakker, heavy-weight boxing champion Mike Tyson, and OJ Simpson.
Undocumented immigrants were left hanging yesterday when the Department of Justice announced its draft guidelines for the dispensation of money from the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund. While undocumented widows and injured workers were not specifically barred from receiving the funds, they were not specifically covered either. The move was a blow to undocumented immigrants and their advocates, and was harshly criticized by State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, among others.
For the large community of undocumented immigrants living in New York City, the last three months have been particularly hard ones. With hundreds presumed dead in the World Trade Center collapse and thousands newly jobless,they have struggled with grief, fears of deportation, and extreme economic hardship. Barred from receiving most forms of government assistance, widows and former workers alike have been left to worry largely on their own about their short- and long-term survival.
Had undocumented immigrants been guaranteed an absolute right to coverage by the federal Victim Compensation fund, they would have won an important symbolic as well as economic victory. The fund is expected to yield $6 billion forvictims of September 11th, with awards averaging $1.65 million for families who lost loved ones.
Guests: Margarita Redroban, former employee Windows on the World, lost job and partner in the WTC attacks; Marisol Alcantara, Program Director, Immigrant Workers Assistance Alliance; Asmat Ali, former captain, Windows on the World and current Outreach Coordinator, Immigrant Workers Assistance Alliance; Dennis Diaz, organizer, Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) union Local 100; Hector Figueroa, Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Son Ah Yun, National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support.
Shortly after September 11th, as New York-and the rest of the country— struggled to come to terms with the changed world, activists began gathering together to try to develop a response to the tragedy. In public spaces across the country, they grappled with the mixture of fear, sadness, anger, incomprehension and loss. And many felt there was an urgent need to create an alternative vision of the events of that day. At the Independent Media Center in New York, video activists and writers threw themselves into putting out a newspaper and to creating a video.
The Independent Media Center is a network of collectively run media outlets established by independent and alternative media organizations and activists to provide grassroots coverage of the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle last November. Through a decentralized and autonomous network, hundreds of media activists have since setup over 100 independent media centers in cities like London, Canada, Mexico City, Prague, Belgium, France, and Italy. In two weeks, the IMC video team-who had been shooting across the city-put out a video that they called 9-11. It was the first film made after September 11th.
Today we’ll listen to clips of the video and we’ll talk to a member of the Independent Media Center video collective who edited the film. And we are also joined by several editors of the book, "Another World is Possible: Conversations in a Time of Terror," which is the first progressive collection of essays in response to September11th.
Tape: Independent Media Center film "9-11".
Guests: Rick Rowley, Big Noise Films and the Independent Media Center; Beka Economopoulos, environmental and anti-globalization activist; Jeremy Glick, activist who teaches at Rutgers University; Jee Kim, media activist; Shaffy Moeel, Students for Justice in Palestine.
In our first hour we spoke with the activists who edited "Another World is Possible," collection of writings by dissidents, family members of WTC and Pentagon attack victims, and antiwar activists on Progressive responses to the September 11 attacks and the U.S. war against Afghanistan.
In the same spirit Bay Area activists gathered last month to present the Mario Savio award to a leading youth organizer. Mario Savio was one of the leaders of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and a tireless human rights activist. The recipient of this year’s award was Jim Keady, the former St. John’s soccer coach who was fired for his anti-sweatshop activism and went to Indonesia to live with Nike workers on starvation wages before starting his own human rights group.
The speech Mario Savio gave in Berkeley in December 1964, before students launched an occupation of student buildings to demand free speech, would ring as true today. Savio said "There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, andyou’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unlessyou’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"
They’re words that might have been spoken by Cornell West, who gave the keynote address at the awards on thechallenges facing progressives since September 11.
Guest: Cornel West, professor of African-American studies and philosophy of religion at Harvard University and author of the best-selling book, "Race Matters."
Hear part two of West's speech.
In the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan yesterday the surviving remnants of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’eda fled across frozen mountain tops in a bloody rout by U.S. backed forces that left hundreds of Al Qa’eda dead.
The capture of a network of caves thought to house Osama bin Laden came after two weeks of guerrilla fighting and relentless US carpet bombing that flattened nearby villages and killed hundreds of civilians. U.S. bombing has killed nearly 4,000 Afghan civilians since October 7.
War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld traveled to Afghanistan yesterday to meet with the interim prime minister, Hamid Karzai. He also told U.S. troops that their task is to continue ensuring that terrorists face punishment for the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Rumsfeld repeatedly warned that the military mission in Afghanistan was far from over, and that the so-called war on terrorism would be broader still. U.S. officials have said that Somalia, the Sudan, and Iraq among other countries could be the next to face military attack. U.S. military advisors met just a week ago with Somali officials to identify possible military targets in the event of U.S. military strikes.
Well, It’s become a staple of commentary in the mass media and among politicians to observe how the world has changed since September 11. But for those on the receiving end of U.S. foreign policy, in Afghanistan and elsewhere over the last 50 years, the world the U.S. is trying to shape looks much as it did before.
Guest: Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a leading scholar and critic of US foreign policy and the author of many books, including "9-11," just published by Seven Stories Press.
Crime of all kinds is up across the country and that Americans are arming themselves in the wake of the September 11attacks. Gun retailers across the country report significant increases in gun sales, particularly to first-time buyers. And the gun industry has helped to increase gun sales by creating special-issue patriotic guns.
Beretta, the oldest gun manufacturer in the world, just released their latest gun — a limited edition 92F, 9 mm "United We Stand" pistol, which features a laser etched gold American Flag and the words "United We Stand." They will make a total of 2001 commemorative pieces. Beretta says the pistol is "a testament that the American spirit will not be diminished during this national crisis." They will donate some of the proceeds to the NYPD Foundation and Survivor’s Fund.
Ithaca Gun company is also getting in on the trend: they have created a "Homeland Security" model rifle, complete with a patriotic sales pitch: "In our current time of national need Ithaca Gun is ready to meet the challenge… In every respect, these new Homeland Security Model shotguns are up to the demanding tasks which lay before us as a nation."
But the worst is a soon-to-be-released 50 caliber rifle from Tromix company, called the "Turban Chaser."
Several weeks after September 11th, the California Rifle and Pistol Association— a California affiliate of the NRA—launched a billboard campaign in Los Angeles, featuring a diverse group of smiling people and the words "Society is safer when criminals don’t know who’s armed." Asked about the appropriateness of the message at this time, a spokesman said the message was "truer than ever . . . in light of what happened in New York City, people have stopped taking for granted their own security."
In its investigation of the Sept. 11, the FBI is seeking whether any of the detained had purchased guns. But U.S.Attorney General John Ashcroft, an ardent opponent of gun control legislation, has prohibited the FBI from checking the names of some 1,200 detainees against the list. When he was a Missouri state senator, Ashcroft sponsored legislation that would have required destruction of the records as soon as the check was complete. As ardently as the attorney general has been prosecuting the war on terrorism, it seems more than a little odd that he would thwart attempts to see if terrorist suspects had purchased guns in the United States. At a December 6 hearing Ashcroft declared that FBI checks of gun records "would violate the privacy" of the foreigners being detained on suspicion of possible connections to the September 11 hijackers.
Guests: Nan Aron, President, Alliance for Justice Gun Industry Watch project; Alfredo Valentin, Board member of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, his son Derek was killed in 1994 in the Bronx on the street along with his best friend; Paul Jannuzzo, vice president, Glock handguns, based in Vienna.
This is what some of the biggest corporations in the US would have received in tax rebates under the so-called Economic Stimulus Plan that for the last month has been pushed by the Bush Administration in the name of fighting terrorism.
In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the Bush Administration and major corporations have launched an aggressive effort to push through a host of business-friendly measures wrapped in the guise of "fighting terrorism." If we are to believe the pitch–drilling in the Arctic, fast track treaty authority, massive tax cuts–are now vital measures to preserve our national security.
The Republican version of so-called Economic Stimulus plan, a $100 billion package of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy that one public interest group dubbed the "Campaign Contributors War Profiteering Act of 2001," included a repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was passed in the 1980’s after major corporations exploited massive loopholes to avoid paying taxes. The democratic version of the bill would be tilted towards spending to help the poor and those unemployed since September 11.
Congress is set to decide on a compromise version of the bill this week, setting up a stark choice between the needs of major corporations and those rendered most vulnerable since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Guest: Robert Mcintyre, Director, Citizens for Tax Justice.
This weekend the Bush Administration announced its plans to expand the so-called war on terrorism to include a wide array of countries, including Somalia and Iraq. This as the U.S. continues to launch massive air strikes against Afghanistan, killing hundreds of civilians over the weekend and further complicating efforts to get desperately needed aid to millions of Afghans facing starvation.
The Bush Administration has persistently portrayed its actions since September 11 as a simple case of good verses evil, civilization verses barbarism, even after assembling a rogues’ gallery of allies with horrific records of human rights abuses. Civilian victims of U.S. bombing in Afghanistan and those facing military action by the US and its allies elsewhere might be forgiven for wondering where the line is drawn.
Guest: Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a leading scholar and critic of US foreign policy and the author of many books, including "9-11," just published by Seven Stories Press.
US bombers for the second time in two days have killed dozens of civilians in eastern Afghanistan as well as friendly mujahedin fighters supporting their battle against al-Qa’ida. Mujehedeen commanders said hundreds of people,overwhelmingly civilians, may have been killed by US bombing over the weekend.
As US warplanes continued to pound Afghanistan this weekend, a peace march led by family members of September 11 attack victims arrived in New York to call for an end to the bombing of Afghanistan. The march began more than a week ago in Washington, DC and wound its way up the east coast with marchers leafleting and speaking in Baltimore,Philadelphia, Paterson and other cities along the way, sleeping in churches at night.
The family members are part of a growing network of people who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11 attacks yet have spoken out against the US policies being carried out in their name. Several of those involved in the peace march are also leaving tomorrow for Iraq, as President Bush and Administration hawks draw up plans for a possible expansion of the so-called war on terrorism to include major military action against the country.
Guests: Barry Amundson, lost his brother Craig Amundson in the attack on the Pentagon on September 11; David Potorti, he lost his brother in the WTC attacks. He writes for the Independent Weekly in Durham, North Carolina; Milan Rai, longtime British peace activist, founder of Voices in the Wilderness UK, and author of the book, "Chomsky’s Politics."
The UN Security Council met last night to agree on a revised plan for sanctions against Iraq, amid controversy over U.S. threats to attack Iraq as part of the so-called war on terrorism.
Russia, which has previously blocked British and U.S. proposals for what U.S. officials call "smart" sanctions against Iraq, backed a compromise deal under which a new list of the items controlled by sanctions will take effect in June. In the meantime, existing sanctions will continue.
The Iraqi government, meanwhile, rejected a demand from President Bush to allow United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country as long as economic sanctions remain in place.
The prospect of US attacks against Iraq was heightened Monday after Bush said the US would expand the so-called war on terrorism to include nations that "develop weapons of mass destruction that will be used to terrorize nations." Hawkish Bush Administration officials and even some Democrats have called for the US move on to Iraq after Afghanistan, saying the country is linked to the September 11 attacks, to recent bio terror attacks, or to terrorism more generally.
Asked specifically whether the United States would invade Iraq if it continued to deny access to international weapons inspectors, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said: "The president left that for Saddam Hussein to figure out."
Colin Powell played down talk of attacking Iraq in the immediate future, after remarks by President Bush about possible military action sparked widespread concern among US allies and condemnation in the Muslim world.
Guest: Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, resigned three years ago in protest.
As law enforcement rounds up non-citizens, holds them in secrecy and moves toward implementing the secretive, expedient military tribunals, the US has begun to debate another method of pressing suspected terrorists: torture.
There haven’t yet been any presidential directives or pleas from the attorney general to allow such extreme measures. But some FBI investigators have been itching for heavier tools in their interrogations of alleged 9-11 materialwitnesses. As one experienced FBI agent told the Washington Post, "We are known for humanitarian treatment. So, basically, we are stuck. It could get to that spot where we could go to pressure ... where we won’t have achoice, and we are probably getting there."
After FBI agents are said to have offered the traditional inducements to the "material witnesses" — reduced prison sentences, money, relocation to the United States and new IDs for themselves and their families — if they cooperate.
A surprising number of criminal experts say it’s time to talk about letting interrogators inject key recalcitrant witnesses with "truth serum." Extraditing them to countries where authorities have no qualms about subjectingsuspects to a ruthless third degree is another option.
And while torture likely will remain officially off-limits on U.S. soil, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz — oneof the country’s leading civil libertarians — suggests creating a mechanism where U.S. judges could approve domestic "torture warrants" if they’re convinced such tactics could thwart an imminent attack. In an article in the Village Voice this week, Dershowitz argues eloquently against military tribunals to try suspected terrorists, but doesn’t rule out torture as an option.
Reporting in national newspapers about the previously unthinkable debate about coercive techniques of interrogation often centers on the reported silence of the men being held as material witnesses — and the country’s fear about newwaves of terrorist attacks.
Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter wrote a piece in the November 5 issue of Newsweek called "Time ToThink About Torture" which begins:
"In this autumn of anger, even a liberal can find his thoughts turning to... torture. OK, not cattle prods or rubberhoses, at least not here in the United States, but something to jump-start the stalled investigation of the greatestcrime in American history. Right now, four key hijacking suspects aren’t talking at all. Couldn’t we at least subjectthem to psychological torture, like tapes of dying rabbits or high-decibel rap?"
Guests: Jonathan Alter, columnist for Newsweek; Steve Rendell, senior analyst at FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting).
The nationwide search for terrorists after Sept. 11 has resulted in the arrests of more than 1,200 people, but law enforcement officials said yesterday that only a small number of those detained are believed to have any links to terrorism. The approximately 600 people still in custody are mostly being held on immigration violations or unrelated crimes.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department has quietly expanded its power to detain foreigners, letting the government keep aforeigner behind bars even after a federal immigration judge has ordered him to be released for lack of evidence.The change allows the Immigration and Naturalization Service to set aside any release order issued by an immigration judge in cases where the agency says it believes that a foreigner is a danger to the community or a flight risk. Immigration lawyers, who represent many of the 1,100 non-citizens held after the attacks on Sept. 11, are furious about the new rule, saying it deprives the detainees of the fundamental right of bond hearings. At such hearings, analogous to bond proceedings in the criminal justice system, immigration judges weigh the evidence to decide whether a detainee should be freed on bond. But now, no matter the outcome of those hearings, the government can continue to hold detainees by filing forms in one business day.
Today, we’ll have a roundtable discussion on some specific cases of detainees. One detainee, a Pakistani laborer named Muhammed Butt, died in prison. Authorities say it was heart failure, but a relative in Pakistan reportedly said that an autopsy revealed signs of severe torture. In another case, an Egyptian man entered the U.S. legally on a tourist visa after September 11 and has been detained since.
Guests: Marty Stolar, a criminal defense lawyer who is defending an Egyptian man who entered the U.S. legally on atourist visa after September 11 and has been detained since; Bobby Kahn, organizer with the Asian Latino African-American Mutual Alliance (ALAAMA); Monami Maulik, organizer with DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving). She has been visiting detainees in holding cells; Mac Scott, Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants, he has been visiting detainees in New York top security holding cells; "Alex", (does not want name revealed), Filipino detained for 8 months when entering the US (before September 11).
"When the Towers Fell, Homeless People Disappeared. Their Friends Are Still Searching. From the Margins Erased"
And the story begins like this:
“There was this one lady named Arlene, and another named Maryann. A shoeshine guy named Jack. A guy named Keith. An elderly woman named Rose sat by the PATH train bathroom. Marvin, a tall, gray-haired man with a dark complexion,stood around tower one every morning, there by the N train, regular as a dripping faucet.
“Carlos, a tall Jamaican some called Ras, wore his hair in dreadlocks and thoroughly cursed any social worker who tried to move him. When people asked him his problem, he rubbed his goatee and explained that it wasn’t homelessness,it was spiritual. Once in a while, the neatly dressed beanpole Mr. Mann came striding through the concourse. The self-appointed mayor of the World Trade Center, he assigned himself the task of delivering grand, free-floating oratories to passersby. He was scheduled to meet with the president of the United States soon.
"They all used the World Trade Center as a place to sleep, panhandle, or pass the time before September 11. They all remain unaccounted for. Their friends and acquaintances fear they died when the towers fell, perhaps only a small portion of the still uncounted street people who perished that day. No one papered the city with flyers bearing their pictures. No family members came in with their toothbrushes to identify their DNA. Maybe their families didn’t even know where they were. They died in the anonymous way they lived. Their memories now depend on the informal network of people who saw them every week, yet perhaps knew them only by a nickname, a first name, a familiar face."
One group is trying to make sure that their deaths do not go completely unnoticed. At the urging of its members, the United Homeless Organization has begun to tally the disappeared homeless. The list so far contains more than 50 names, and it continues to grow.
Guests: Andrew Friedman, freelance journalist and author of Village Voice article, "From the Margins Erased"; Stephen J. Riley, founder and director of the United Homeless Organization.
This week in New York the City University of New York hosted a major conference on weapons of mass destruction in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Among the speakers was Frances Fitzgerald.
Guest: Frances Fitzgerald, journalist and historian, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning, "Fire In the Lake:The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam," and "Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars, and the End of the Cold War."
Anywhere further removed from the bloodstained battlefields and mountain wildernesses of Afghanistan would be hard to imagine than the German city of Bonn. But this is where 62 Afghans–28 delegates, 10 alternate delegates and 24advisers–and two senior UN officials have assembled for their first rounds of negotiations on the future of Afghanistan. Delegates from the ruling Northern Alliance and three exile groups sat down together at a round table at the Petersberg hotel, near Bonn, yesterday to begin a process of creating a new, broadly based government, that will take at least two years to complete.
Western diplomats say that the mood is conciliatory and that there had been a good start, but cautioned that the delegates had not yet begun to discuss issues of substance, such as the introduction of a multinational force into Afghanistan to ensure security.
Rival Afghan factions turned to discussing the details of a post-Taliban government today with ex-king Zahir Shah’s role high among the issues to resolve.
The former king, Zahir Shah, aged 87, is emerging as favorite to become the temporary head of state. Within the first three hours of yesterday’s meeting, the delegates agreed to establish an interim government to run the country for three to six months. This would be followed by an emergency meeting of the Loya Jirga, the traditional gathering of tribal leaders needed to approve constitutional change, to be held in spring, possibly as early as March.
A two-year transitional government would then discuss in detail a new constitution for Afghanistan that would incorporate respect for human rights, equal rights for women and introduce some form of democracy. At the end of the transitional phase, the Loya Jirga would be reconvened to approve the final constitutional package.
But while diplomats appear optimistic about reconstructing Afghanistan’s government, many women are skeptical about decisions made that do not include their voices. Timed to coincide with the Bonn talks, Women for Afghan Women, a new collective of Afghan and non-Afghan women in the New York area, are holding their own conference Women for Afghan Women seeks to bring greater awareness to the issues of Afghanistan and Afghan women, and promote the agency of Afghan women in issues that impact their lives. The conference is called "Women for Afghan Women: Securing Our Future."
Guests: Fahima Danishgar, spokesperson, Women for Afghan Women and SAKHI for South Asian Women, (SAKHI); Sunita Mehta, spokesperson, Women for Afghan Women and SAKHI; Pamela Klaft, x-ray technician and mother who walked from New Hampshire to Ground Zero to draw attention to women’s exclusion from the Afghan negotiations.
President Bush’s military order authorized two weeks ago, to try suspected terrorists in secret in military courts, has raised widespread concern about civil liberties. The military tribunals are the boldest initiative in a series of laws and rewritten federal regulations that, taken together, have created an alternate system of justice in the aftermath of Sept. 11, giving the government far greater power to detain, investigate and prosecute people suspected of involvement in terrorism. The order has few specific details, among them that only "non-citizens" could qualify, that they can keep secret evidence from defendants, can convict suspects and impose the death penalty with a two-thirds vote.
Bush’s order does say the trial must be "full and fair." It says that two-thirds of the military commission "present at the time of the vote" must agree on a conviction or a sentence of a suspected terrorist. It allows penalties up to and including the death penalty. It grants the last word on a verdict or a sentence to the president or the Secretary of Defense.
The vaguely written order has alarmed civil libertarians and even conservative columnist William Safire, who called it a "replacement of the American rule of law with military kangaroo courts." The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement condemning the tribunals—saying the prosecutions of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh demonstrate that the government has managed to protect the safety and identity of jurors while achieving convictions in terrorism cases.
Tomorrow, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy will hold hearings on the executive order that allows for military trials of suspected terrorists and their helpers. Democrats on the Hill say they are concerned that the tribunals will allow unusual shortcuts and limited appeal rights.
A piece that ran in the Washington Post several weeks ago begins: "FBI and Justice Department investigators are increasingly frustrated by the silence of jailed suspected associates of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, and some are beginning to that say that traditional civil liberties may have to be cast aside if they are to extract information about the Sept. 11 attacks and terrorist plans."
Nation columnist and Counterpunch editor Alexander Cockburn writes, "Would one know that one of the darkest threads in postwar US imperial history has been the CIA’s involvement with torture, as instructor, practitioner, or contractor? The CIA’s official line is that torture is wrong and is ineffective. It is indeed wrong. On countless occasions it has been appallingly effective."
Cockburn’s muck-raking newsletter, Counterpunch, has taken on the FBI’s own history of torture repeatedly.
Guest: Alexander Cockburn, columnist for the Nation magazine.
An editorial in yesterday’s New York Times reads:
“As soon as German U-boats put eight saboteurs on U.S. shores during World War II, one of the eight called the F.B.I.to betray the mission but was brushed off as a crackpot. Days later, he called again and managed to persuade the F.B.I. he was an authentic saboteur. Partly to keep this embarrassment of bungled enforcement from becoming known, the eight were secretly tried by a military court inside the F.B.I. headquarters.
“Unexpectedly, a U.S. Army lawyer assigned to the Germans mounted a spirited defense. Col. Kenneth Royall, citing the landmark 1866 Supreme Court decision of Ex Parte Milligan — holding that martial law could not be applied where federal civil courts were in business — challenged the secret tribunal’s legality. F.D.R. told his attorney general, according to Francis Biddle’s memoirs, that he would resist any Supreme Court decision to give the accused saboteurs a regular court trial: "I won’t hand them over to any United States marshal armed with a writ of habeas corpus." Confrontation was averted when a cowed Supreme Court unanimously acknowledged the extra-judicial power of a president armed with a Congressional declaration of war. Six of the eight captives went to the electric chair; J. Edgar Hoover was awarded a medal of honor.
"Now President Bush, with no such Congressional declaration, is using that Roosevelt mistake as precedent for his own dismaying departure from due process."
The column is not written by an activist, a human rights lawyer, or someone who has herself experienced the injustice of a military tribunal. It is by the conservative New York Times columnist William Safire.
Unlike any other action since September 11, Bush’s unilateral creation of a military tribunal system has unified voices across the political spectrum in protest. Reluctant U.S. allies in Europe are also finally putting their foot down. Spain, which caught and charged eight men for complicity in the Sept. 11 attacks, last week refused to turn over the suspects to a U.S. tribunal ordered to ignore rights normally accorded foreign defendants. Other members of the European Union are expected to follow.
European allies might also be suspicious of President Bush’s creation of a secret tribunal since it happened just days after House and Senate negotiators prohibited any U.S. cooperation in the establishment of the International Criminal Court. The ICC is being established in the Netherlands to prosecute war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity.
Guests: Maria Carrion, former Democracy Now! producer and death penalty expert in Spain; Reed Brody, Human Rights Watch.
Last week Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury Secretary turned President of Harvard University, said that Harvard, and the rest of the academic world, need to get in line with mainstream America. Summers has given several speeches recently calling for academics to support the war effort and embrace traditional American values of patriotism and respect for military service, even calling for the return of ROTC to Harvard.
Summers’ comments are strikingly similar to the report recently put out by the conservative American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which Compiled a list of 117 "anti-American" statements made by professors and students on college campuses since September 11. Several weeks ago we spoke to a number of academics and students named in the report, sparking students at several colleges to write the Council asking that they be included on its list for their anti war activism.
Joel Benin, a professor of Middle Eastern history at Stanford University and President of the Middle East Studies Association, earned a place in the Council’s report for saying the United States should bring Osama bin Laden before an international tribunal if he is found guilty, instead of bombing Afghanistan. Beinin has also earned the wrath of the scholars associated with the conservative Washington institute for Near East Policy for criticizing U.S. policy. The comments by Lawrence Summers and the attacks on Beinin are the latest signs of a disturbing attack on dissent and of a closing of intellectual space at universities and colleges around the country.
Guests: Joel Beinin, professor of Middle Eastern history at Stanford University and President of the Middle East Studies Association; Daniel Pipes, director, Middle East Forum and columnist for the New York Post.
This week the New York City Police department will be sending a giant flag to troops of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which landed yesterday at a makeshift airfield near Kandahar to prepare for combat in Afghanistan. The 12-18 foot flag, which adorned a wall on one of the buildings at ground zero, is covered with hundreds of messages scrawled in magic marker, from co-workers and family members of victims of the World Trade Center Attack.
The messages range from expressions of personal grief to wishes for "good hunting" and reminders that its "pay backtime." The director of the Marine Corps public affairs office in New York City, who arranged to send the flag to Marines who will fight in Afghanistan, said "its going to remind [them] why they’re doing this, because itpersonalizes their operation."
In Washington, DC yesterday, another group of family members of September 11 victims began a journey of a differentsort to send a different message. They are walking from the Pentagon in Washington DC to Ground Zero in Manhattan tocall for an end to the US bombing of Afghanistan.
Guests: Amber Amundson, walking from Washington DC to NYC, her husband Craig Amundson was killed in the Pentagonon September 11; Ryan Amundson, brother of Craig Amundson; Danny Muller, Voices in the Wilderness, one of the organizers of the march from DC to NYC.
Joining the other dangers on the ground in Afghanistan is the possibility that US penetrative weapons are releasing depleted uranium. Used extensively in the 1991 Gulf War, in Bosnia, and in Kosovo, these DU weapons have already been sent to Afghanistan. There is little indication that the U.S. military has warned soldiers and civilians about the possible adverse health and environmental effects.
Over ten years ago the U.S. Army released a comprehensive report about armor-piercing ammunition made of depleted uranium, a chemically toxic and mildly radioactive heavy metal. This visionary report predicted the combat use of depleted uranium penetrators could create localized areas of contamination consisting of large amounts of respirable-size uranium particles. Infantry troops were expected to receive the highest exposures through inhalation of the dust, and the Army anticipated the health outcomes could include cancer and kidney problems. Though no anti-DU movement existed at the time, the Army predicted that depleted uranium munitions might be removed from the arsenal by political force once the health and environmental impacts of depleted uranium were widely known.
Fast-forward six months. During Operation Desert Storm, American aircraft and tanks shot 320 tons of depleted uraniumin Iraq and Kuwait. Thousands of Iraqi tanks, personnel carriers and other equipment were contaminated with depleted uranium dust and debris. There are over 100,000 U.S. troops suffering from Gulf War syndrome, and due to the mixture of exposures in that war, they still lack a common explanation for their illnesses. Many veterans and civilians havesought to blame other toxic exposures, but depleted uranium’s exact role is still in question.
Depleted uranium experts are in the process trying to verify whether the bunker buster bombs and other "penetrative weapons" being used in Afghanistan contain depleted uranium. Until tests can be done in Afghanistan it is next to impossible to know. But the US government describes the bunker busters as employing a dense heavy metal, which is the language used for DU and also for tungsten, another metal used for kinetic energy penetrators before the cheapabundance of DU took its place.
Guest: Jawad Metni, director/producer, "Downwind: Depleted Uranium Weapons in the Age of Virtual War."