Socialist Worker

Hypocrisy on prisoners

Issue No. 1844

GEORGE BUSH, Tony Blair, Donald Rumsfeld - and their media cheerleaders - said it was a 'war crime' when captured US soldiers were shown on Iraqi TV. They talked of the Geneva convention. Bush and Blair are hypocrites. The US has held prisoners of war (PoWs) captured in Afghanistan for more than a year with no rights whatever. They have been held in cages, and subject to torture, at Camp X-Ray - the US base on Cuba.

Pictures of 300 PoWs airlifted out of Afghanistan, with bags on their heads and chains covering their bodies, were broadcast jubilantly on US television. These sickening pictures were even posted on the Pentagon's website. Eighteen months on these PoWs are still held as hostages in Camp X-Ray with no rights whatever.

Tony Blair has been happy to go along with this. He was also unmoved when, during the war in Afghanistan, US deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz said, 'We are going to try and kill as many of the Taliban as possible.'

He was talking of people who fought for the Afghan government at the time. Associated Press correspondent Ellen Nickmeyer reported that after pro-US forces took Kunduz from the Taliban, 100 prisoners were killed and others were 'taken away with their arms tied' to an unknown fate.

The Red Cross also reported that up to 600 bodies were found in the streets of Mazar-e-Sharif after the 'liberation' of that Afghan city.

A film by journalist Jamie Doran quotes a Northern Alliance soldier who guarded Taliban prisoners at the prison in Sheberghan: 'I was a witness when an American soldier broke one prisoner's neck. The Americans did whatever they wanted.' Was that not, in Blair's words, 'contrary to all the proper rules of conflict'?


Price of independence

ITN REPORTER Terry Lloyd was killed after the car he and other journalists were travelling in near Basra was attacked. He was working independently, and not 'embedded' with British or US forces as most reporters are.

Cameraman Daniel Demoustier narrowly survived the attack. He said their car was fired on by US tanks while driving away from a group of Iraqi soldiers. He told the Mail on Sunday, 'The allied tanks started heavy firing directly at us. Rounds were coming straight at the jeep, smashing the windows and puncturing holes in the bodywork. Then the whole car was on fire. We were enveloped in flames. It was terrifying. I'm so angry that we were fired on by the allies. The Iraqis must have been their real target but I'm sure they were surrendering.'

A spokesperson for the US Pentagon said that journalists not 'embedded' with the army were 'putting themselves at extreme risk'. Veteran BBC reporter Kate Adie says that US officials told her, before the war, that they could fire on independent journalists and also destroy their equipment.

When challenged about the possibly fatal consequences the US official replied, 'Who cares? They've been warned.' Every time reporters appear in Baghdad the BBC and ITV tell us that their reports are monitored by Iraqi authorities.

What they do not tell us - although some channels like Sky do - is that every word and picture from reporters 'embedded' with US and British forces is subject to control and censorship by the military.


How many times did Umm Qasr fall?

BLOOD AND lies. That's the reality of the barbarous war being waged on Iraq by George Bush and Tony Blair.

LIE: On Friday of last week US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed that US forces had captured and were in complete control of the southern Iraqi port town of Umm Qasr. The same day Admiral Michael Boyce, chief of the British defence staff, told a London news conference that US marines had seized full control of the city. 'Umm Qasr has been overwhelmed by the US marines and now is in coalition hands,' he said. But fighting in the city continued the next day, and the next, and on Monday.

LIE: On Monday news reports headlined that US forces had found a 'chemical weapons plant' in southern Iraq. Of course Iraq has chemical factories. It is an industrial country with a major petrochemicals industry. Socialist Worker does not know what weapons Iraq has. But it was clear that there was no evidence that there was anything sinister about the Najaf plant.

Later on Monday the Pentagon was forced to backtrack on the story, describing it as 'premature'. The whole story was based on a report which first appeared in the Israeli paper the Jerusalem Post, one of whose directors is Richard Perle. He is a key adviser to George Bush, chair of the US National Defence Board, and a fanatical supporter of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.

'ARE YOU looking, George Bush? Are you looking? This was not your son or daughter. I am against this war.'

Michael Waters Bey, father of Kendall Waters Bey, the US marine killed in the war on Iraq

'THIS WAR is all about oil and money. Bush ought to send his daughters over there to fight. War could have been prevented. Bush is not out of a brother. We are.'
Nakia Waters Bey, Kendall's sister


'Smart' bombs which maim and kill

THE US claims that Iraq will use chemical weapons, which it calls weapons of mass destruction. But it doesn't say the US and Britain are already using weapons of mass destruction. The military and their media cheerleaders talk of smart bombs and precision targeting. The reality is B-52 bombers raining down destruction and cruise missiles tearing through buildings and people.

  • The New Labour government has admitted that British forces have, and are ready to use, cluster bombs. Cluster bombs break up into hundreds of small bomblets, causing devastation over a wide area. Many then lie around and act as landmines. In previous wars, such as in Kosovo and Afghanistan, US forces used cluster bombs. They continued to maim and kill children long after the fighting was ended.

  • The US also has the MOAB (massive ordnance air blast) bomb, which was specifically developed by the US for use in the war on Iraq. It is capable of killing everyone within a 600-metre radius. If this was dropped on Baghdad or Basra it would kill around 10,000 people instantly.

  • British forces are using the 'Paveway II smart bomb'. Some 60 percent of those used in Kosovo in 1999 missed their targets.

  • The US uses the JDAM 'smart bomb'. The US military say any of these which falls within 40 feet of the target is a 'hit' - a large enough margin to hit nearby houses.


Israel gets billions in aid

THE US has agreed to give £6.4 billion to Israel to shore up its sinking economy and increase its military power. The day before the US started bombing Iraq Condoleezza Rice, US national security adviser, assured Israeli leaders that they would get the money.

The Israeli government includes the far right National Religious Party which advocates the 'transfer' - ethnic cleansing - of the Palestinian people from their homes in the Occupied Territories.


Queuing to stop the US

'WESTERN diplomats in Damascus said that as late as Sunday buses had been leaving on a daily basis from Syria to Iraq carrying Arabs who wanted to stop a US invasion of Iraq. Meanwhile, in Jordan, far from the expected influx of Iraqi refugees fleeing to Jordan, hundreds of Iraqis could yesterday be seen queuing to board coaches to return them to Baghdad.'
Financial Times, Tuesday 25 March


Stop this act of censorship

THERE were fears this week that the excellent Channel 4 programme Ramallah Daily may be axed by TV chiefs. The programme makers say Channel 4 is under pressure from pro-Israel forces. The programme, broadcast at 7.55pm, illustrates the reality of life for ordinary Palestinians under the continuing Israeli occupation.

Send protest e-mails to Channel 4 demanding they keep the programme via www.channel4.com/about_c4/comments/tv_enquiries.cfm


War is illegal says adviser

A SENIOR Foreign Office civil servant has resigned her job over war on Iraq. Elizabeth Wilmhurst was a legal adviser to foreign secretary Jack Straw. She had worked at the department for 30 years, and served as legal adviser to the previous foreign secretary, Robin Cook, during the Kosovo war.

She quit her job this week because she thinks the war is illegal without United Nations backing.


Abandoning 'our boys'

THE BRITISH and US press and politicians claim that we have to 'back our boys' now troops are in action. But the government and the press have abandoned US troops who served in the last war on Iraq.

Some 31 percent of US troops who served in the 1991 conflict are either dead, seriously ill or receiving medical attention. This rises to 43 percent for those troops who went into Iraq. Professor Malcolm Hooper, the chief scientific adviser to the Gulf Veterans Association, says: 'British troops should not go and fight in the Gulf because they are not going to be looked after when they get home.'


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News
Sat 29 Mar 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1844
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