excerpts from the book

Censored 2006

by Peter Phillips and Project Censored

Seven Stories Press, 2006, paper

Media Coverage Fails on Iraq: Fallujah and the Civilian Death Toll


Over the past two years, the United States has conducted two major sieges against Fallujah, a city in Iraq. The first attempted siege of Fallujah (a city of 300,000 people) resulted in a defeat for Coalition forces. As a result, the United States gave the citizens of Fallujah two choices prior to the second siege: leave the city or risk dying as enemy insurgents. Faced with this ultimatum, approximately 250,000 citizens, or 83 percent of the population of Fallujah, fled the city. The people had nowhere to flee and ended up as refugees. Many families were forced to survive in fields, vacant lots, and abandoned buildings without access to shelter, water, electricity, food or medical care. The 50,000 citizens who either chose to remain in the city or who were unable to leave were trapped by Coalition forces and were cut off from food, water and medical supplies. The United States military claimed that there were a few thousand enemy insurgents remaining among those who stayed in the city and conducted the invasion as if all the people remaining were enemy combatants.

Burhan Fasa'a, an Iraqi journalist, said Americans grew easily frustrated with Iraqis who could not speak English. "Americans did not have interpreters with them, so they entered houses and killed people because they didn't speak English. They entered the house where I was with 26 people, and shot people because [the people] didn't obey [the soldiers'] orders, even just because the people couldn't understand a word of English." Abu Hammad, a resident of Fallujah, told the Inter Press Service that he saw people attempt to swim across the Euphrates to escape the siege. "The Americans shot them with rifles from the shore. Even if some of them were holding a white flag or white clothes over their head to show they are not fighters, they were all shot." Furthermore, "even the wound[ed] people were killed. The Americans made announcements for people to come to one mosque if they wanted to leave Fallujah, and even the people who went there carrying white flags were killed." Former residents of Fallujah recall other tragic methods of killing the wounded. "I watched them [U.S. Forces] roll over wounded people in the street with tanks This happened so many times."

Preliminary estimates as of December of 2004 revealed that at least 6,000 Iraqi citizens in Fallujah had been killed, and one-third of the city had been destroyed.

Journalists Mary Trotochaud and Rick McDowell assert that the continuous slaughter in Fallujah is greatly contributing to escalating violence in other regions of the country such as Mosul, Baquba, Hilla, and Baghdad. The violence prompted by the U.S. invasion has resulted in the assassinations of at least 338 Iraqi's who were associated with Iraq's "new" government.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq, and more specifically Fallujah, is causing an incredible humanitarian disaster among those who have no specific involvement with the war. The International Committee for the Red Cross reported on December 23, 2004 that three of the city's water purification plants had been destroyed and the fourth badly damaged. Civilians are running short on food and are unable to receive help from those who are willing to make a positive difference. Aid organizations have been repeatedly denied access to the city, hospitals, and refugee populations in the surrounding areas.

Abdel Hamid Salim, spokesman for the Iraqi Red Crescent in Baghdad, told Inter Press Service that none of their relief teams had been allowed into Fallujah three weeks after the invasion. Salim declared that "there is still heavy fighting in Fallujah. And the Americans won't let us in so we can help people."

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour voiced a deep concern for the civilians caught up in the fighting. Louise Arbour emphasized that all those guilty of violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws must be brought to justice. Arbour claimed that all violations of these laws should be investigated, including "the deliberate targeting of civilians, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, the killing of injured persons and the use of human shields."

Marjorie Cohn, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists, has noted that the U.S. invasion of Fallujah is a violation of international law that the U.S. had specifically ratified: "They [U.S. Forces] stormed and occupied the Fallujah General Hospital, and have not agreed to allow doctors and ambulances to go inside the main part of the city to help the wounded, in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions."

According to David Walsh, the American media also seems to contribute to the subversion of truth in Fallujah. Although, in many cases, journalists are prevented from entering the city and are denied access to the wounded, corporate media showed little concern regarding their denied access. There has been little or no mention of the immorality or legality of the attacks the United States has waged against Iraq. With few independent journalists reporting on the carnage, the international humanitarian community in exile, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent prevented from entering the besieged city, the world is forced to rely on reporting from journalists embedded with U.S. forces. In the U.S. press, we see casualties reported for Fallujah as follows: number of U.S. soldiers dead, number of Iraqi soldiers dead, number of "guerillas" or "insurgents" dead. Nowhere were the civilian casualties reported in the first weeks of the invasion. An accurate count of civilian casualties to date has yet to be published in the mainstream media.


In late October, 2004, a peer reviewed study was published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, concluding that at least 100,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq since it was invaded by a United States-led coalition in March 2003. Previously, the number of Iraqis that had died, due to conflict or sanctions since the 1991 Gulf War, had been uncertain. Claims ranging from denial of increased mortality to millions of excess deaths have been made. In the absence of any surveys, however, they relied on Ministry of Health records. Morgue-based surveillance data indicate the post-invasion homicide rate is many times higher than the pre-invasion rate.

In the present setting of insecurity and limited availability of health information, researchers, headed by Dr. Les Roberts of Johns Hopkins University, undertook a national survey to estimate mortality during the 14.6 months before the invasion (Jan 1, 2002, to March 18, 2003) and to compare it with the period from March 19, 2003, to the date of the interview, between Sept 8 and 20, 2004. Iraqi households were informed about the purpose of the survey, assured that their name would not be recorded, and told that there would be no benefits or penalties for refusing or agreeing to participate.

The survey indicates that the death toll associated with the invasion and

occupation of Iraq is in reality about 100,000 people, and may be much higher. The major public health problem in Iraq has been identified as violence. However, despite widespread Iraqi casualties, household interview data do not show evidence of widespread wrongdoing on the part of individual soldiers on the ground. Ninety-five percent of reported killings (all attributed to U.S. forces by interviewees) were caused by helicopter gunships, rockets, or other forms of aerial weaponry.

The study was released on the eve of a contentious presidential election fought in part over U.S. policy on Iraq. Many American newspapers and television news programs ignored the study or buried reports about it far from the top headlines. "What went wrong this time? Perhaps the rush by researchers and The Lancet to put the study in front of American voters before the election accomplished precisely the opposite result, drowning out a valuable study in the clamor of the presidential campaign." (Lila Guterman, Chronicle of Higher Education)

The study's results promptly flooded though the worldwide media-everywhere except the United States, where there was barely a whisper about the study, followed by stark silence. "The Lancet released the paper on October 29, the Friday before the election, when many reporters were busy with political stories. That day the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune each dedicated only about 400 words to the study and placed the stories inside their front section, on pages A4 and All, respectively. (The news media in Europe gave the study much more play; many newspapers put articles about it on their front pages.)

In a short article about the study on page A8, the New York Times noted that the Iraqi Body Count, a project to tally civilian deaths reported in the news media, had put the maximum death count at around 17,000. The new study, the article said, "is certain to generate intense controversy." But the Times has not published any further news articles about the paper. The Washington Post, perhaps most damagingly to the study's reputation, quoted Marc E. Garlasco, a senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch, as saying, "These numbers seem to be inflated." Mr. Garlasco says now that he hadn't read the paper at the time and calls his quote in the Post "really unfortunate." (Lila Guterman, Chronicle of Higher Education).

Even so, nobody else in American corporate media bothered to pick up the story and inform our citizens how many Iraqi citizens are being killed at the hands of a coalition led by our government. The study was never mentioned on television news, and the truth remains unheard by those who may need to hear it most. The U.S. government had no comment at the time and remains silent about Iraqi civilian deaths. "The only thing we keep track of is casualties for U.S. troops and civilians," a Defense Department spokesman told The Chronicle.

When CNN anchor Daryn Kagan did have the opportunity to interview the Al Jazeera network editor-in-chief Ahmed Al-Sheik-a rare opportunity to get independent information about events in Fallujah-she used the occasion to badger Al-Sheik about whether the civilian deaths were really "the story" in Fallujah. CNN's argument was that a bigger story than civilian deaths is "what the Iraqi insurgents are doing" to provoke a U.S. "response" is startling. "When reports from the ground are describing hundreds of civilians being killed by U.S. forces, CNN should be looking to Al Jazeera's footage to see if it corroborates those accounts-not badgering Al Jazeera's editor about why he doesn't suppress that footage." (MediaWatch, Asheville Global Report)

Study researchers concluded that several limitations exist with this study, predominantly because the quality of data received is dependent on the accuracy of the interviews. However, interviewers believed that certain essential characteristics of Iraqi culture make it unlikely that respondents would have fabricated their reports of the deaths. The Geneva Conventions have clear guidance about the responsibilities of occupying armies to the civilian population they control. "With the admitted benefit of hindsight and from a purely public health perspective, it is clear that whatever planning did take place was grievously in error. The invasion of Iraq, the displacement of a cruel dictator, and an attempt to impose a liberal democracy by force have, by themselves, been insufficient to bring peace and security to the civilian population.

The illegal, heavy handed tactics practiced by the U.S. military in Iraq evident in these news stories have become what appears to be their standard operating procedure in occupied Iraq. Countless violations of international law and crimes against humanity occurred in Fallujah during the November massacre.

Evidenced by the mass slaughtering of Iraqis and the use of illegal weapons such as cluster bombs, napalm, uranium munitions and chemical weapons during the November siege of Fallujah when the entire city was declared a "free fire zone" by military leaders, the brutality of the U.S. military has only increased throughout Iraq as the occupation drags on.

According to Iraqis inside the city, at least 60 percent of Fallujah went on to be totally destroyed in the siege, and eight months after the siege entire districts of the city remained without electricity or water. Israeli style checkpoints were set up in the city, prohibiting anyone from entering who did not live inside the city. Of course non-embedded media were not allowed in the city.


UPDATE Since these stories were published, countless other incidents of illegal weapons and tactics being used by the U.S. military in Iraq have occurred.

During "Operation Spear" on June 17th, 2005, U.S.-led forces attacked the small cities of Al-Qa'im and Karabla near the Syrian border. U.S. warplanes dropped 2,000 pound bombs in residential areas and claimed to have killed scores of "militants" while locals and doctors claimed that only civilians were killed.

As in Fallujah, residents were denied access to the city in order to obtain medical aid, while those left inside the city claimed Iraqi civilians were being regularly targeted by U.S. snipers.

According to an IRIN news report, Firdos al-Abadi from the Iraqi Red Crescent Society stated that 7,000 people from Karabla were camped in the desert outside the city, suffering from lack of food and medical aid while 150 homes were totally destroyed by the U.S. military.

An Iraqi doctor reported on the same day that he witnessed, "crimes in the west area of the country... the American troops destroyed one of our hospitals, they burned the whole store of medication, they killed the patient in the ward... they prevented us from helping the people in Qa'im."

Also like Fallujah, a doctor at the General Hospital of al-Qa'im stated that entire families remained buried under the rubble of their homes, yet medical personnel were unable to reach them due to American snipers.

Iraqi civilians in Haditha had similar experiences during "Operation Open Market" when they claimed U.S. snipers shot anyone in the streets for days on end, and U.S. and Iraqi forces raided homes detaining any man inside.

Corporate media reported on the "liberation" of Fallujah, as well as quoting military sources on the number of "militants" killed. Any mention of civilian casualties, heavy-handed tactics or illegal munitions was either brief or non-existent, and continues to be as of June 2005.


A Surveillance Society - Quietly Moves In

"While the evening news rolled footage of Saddam being checked for head lice, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 was quietly signed into law."

On December 13, 2003, President George W. Bush, with little fanfare and no mainstream media coverage, signed into law the controversial Intelligence Authorization Act while most of America toasted the victory of U.S. forces in Iraq and Saddam's capture. None of the corporate press covered the signing of this legislation, which increases the funding for intelligence agencies, dramatically expands the definition of surveillable financial institutions, and authorizes the FBI to acquire private records of those individuals suspected of criminal activity without a judicial review. American civil liberties are once again under attack.

History has provided precedent for such actions. Throughout the 1990s, erosions of these protections were taking place. As part of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism bill adopted in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Justice Department was required to publish statistics going back to 1990 on threats or actual crimes against federal, state and local employees and their immediate families when the wrongdoing related to the workers' official duties. The numbers were then to be kept up to date with an annual report. Members of congress, concerned with the threat this type of legislation posed to American civil liberties, were able to strike down much of what the bill proposed, including modified requirements regarding wiretap regulations.

The "atmosphere of fear" generated by recent terrorist attacks, both foreign and domestic, provides administrations the support necessary to adopt stringent new legislation. In response to the September 11 attacks, new agencies, programs and bureaucracies have been created. The Total Information Office is a branch of the United States Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. It has a mission to "imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness." Another intelligence gathering governmental agency, The Information Awareness Office, has a mission to gather as much information as possible about everyone in a centralized location for easy perusal by the United States government. Information mining has become the business of government.

In November 2002, the New York Times reported that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was developing a tracking system called "Total Information Awareness" (HA), which was intended to detect terrorists through analyzing troves of information. The system, developed under the direction of John Poindexter, then-director of DARPA's Information Awareness Office, was envisioned to give law enforcement access to private data without suspicion of wrongdoing or a warrant. The "Total Information Awareness" program's name was changed to "Terrorist Information Awareness" on May 20, 2003 ostensibly to clarify the program's intent to gather information on presumed terrorists rather than compile dossiers on U.S. citizens.

Despite this name change, a Senate Defense Appropriations bill passed unanimously on July 18, 2003, expressly denying any funding to Terrorist Information Awareness research. In response, the Pentagon proposed The Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, or MATRIX, a program devised by longtime Bush family friend Hank Asher as a pilot effort to increase and enhance the exchange of sensitive terrorism and other criminal activity information between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. The MATRIX, as devised by the Pentagon, is a State run information generating tool, thereby circumventing congress' concern regarding the appropriation of federal funds for the development of this controversial database. Although most states have refused to adopt these Orwellian strategies, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Florida have all jumped on the TIA band wagon.

Yet, somehow, after the apparent successful dismantling of TIA, expressed concern by Representatives Mark Udall of Colorado, Betty McCollum of Minnesota, Ron Paul of Texas and Dennis Moore of Kansas, and heightened public awareness of the MATRIX, the Intelligence Authorization Act was signed into law December 13, 2003.

On Thursday, November 20, 2003 Minnesota Representative Betty McCollum stated that, "The Republican Leadership inserted a controversial provision in the FY04 Intelligence Authorization Report that will expand the already far-reaching USA Patriot Act, threatening to further erode our cherished civil liberties. This provision gives the FBI power to demand financial and other records, without a judge's approval, from post offices, real estate agents, car dealers, travel agents, pawnbrokers and many other businesses. This provision was included with little or no public debate, including no consideration by the House Judiciary Committee, which is the committee of jurisdiction. It came as a surprise to most Members of this body."

According to Lip Magazine, "Governmental and law-enforcement agencies and MATRIX contractors across the nation will gain extensive and unprecedented access to financial records, medical records, court records, voter registration, travel history, group and religious affiliations, names and addresses of family members, purchases made and books read."

Peter Jennings, in an ABC original report, explored the commercial applications of this accumulated information. Journalist and author Peter O'Harrow, who collaborated with ABC News on the broadcast "Peter Jennings Reporting: No Place to Hide," states ". . .marketers-and now, perhaps government investigators-can study what people are likely to do, what kind of attitudes they have, what they buy at the grocery store." Although this program aired on prime-time mainstream television, there was no mention of the potential for misuse of this personal information network or of the controversy surrounding the issues of privacy and civil liberties violations concerning citizens and civil servants alike. Again, the sharing of this kind of personal information is not without precedent.

On November 12, 1999, Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which permits financial institutions to share personal customer information with affiliates within the holding company. The Intelligence Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2004 expands the definition of a surveillable financial institution to include real estate agencies, insurance companies, travel agencies, Internet service providers, post offices, casinos and other businesses as well. Due to massive corporate mergers and the acquisition of reams of newly acquired information, personal consumer data has been made readily available to any agency interested in obtaining it, both commercial and governmental.

With the application of emerging new technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification chips or RFIDs, small individualized computer chips capable of communicating with a receiving computer, consumer behavior can literally be tracked from the point of purchase to the kitchen cupboard, and can be monitored by all interested parties.


UPDATE BY ANNA MIRANDA: The United States is at risk of turning into a full-fledged surveillance society. The tremendous explosion in surveillance-enabling technologies, combined with the ongoing weakening in legal restraints that protect our privacy mean that we are drifting toward a surveillance society. The good news is that it can be stopped. Unfortunately, right now the big picture is grim. ACLU


Fifteen 'sunset' provisions in the PATRIOT Act are set to expire at the end of 2005. One amendment, the "library provision" went before Congress in June. Despite President Bush's threat to veto, lawmakers, including 38 Republicans, voted 238 to 187 to overturn the provision, which previously allowed law enforcement officials to request and obtain information from libraries without obtaining a search warrant. Although inspectors still have the "right" to search library records, they must get a judge's approval first.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales informed Congress in April that this provision has never been used to acquire information, although the American Library Association recently reported that over 200 requests for information were submitted since the PATRIOT Act was signed into law in October 2001.

The overturning of the library provision has been seen as a small victory in the fight to reclaim privacy rights. Rep. Saunders, who was responsible for almost successfully having the provision repealed last year, commented that "conservative groups have been joining progressive organizations to call for changes."


The fight to the right for privacy continues to wage on with more successes, as the MATRIX program was officially shut down on April 15, 2005. The program, which consisted of 13 states-and only had four states remaining prior to its closure, received $12 million in funding from the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. By utilizing a system called FACTS (Factual Analysis Criminal Threat Solution), law enforcement officials from participating states were able to share information with one another and utilized this program as an investigative tool to help solve and prevent crimes. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, "Between July 2003 and April 2005, there have been 1,866,202 queries to the FACTS application." However, of these queries, only 2.6 percent involved terrorism or national security.

Although the MATRIX has been shut down, Florida law enforcement officials are pursuing continuing the program and rebuilding it. Officials have sent out a call for information from vendors beginning a competitive bidding process.


On May 10, 2005, President Bush secretly signed into law the REAL ID Act, requiring states within the next three years to issue federally approved electronic identification cards. Attached as an amendment to an emergency spending bill funding troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the REAL ID Act passed without the scrutiny and debate of Congress.

One of the main concerns of the electronic identification card is identity theft. The Act mandates the cards to have anti-counterfeiting measures, such as an electronically readable magnetic strip or RFID chip. Privacy advocates argue that RFID chips can be read from "unauthorized" scanners allowing third parties or the general public to gather and/or steal private information about an individual. Amidst growing concerns about identity theft, the REAL ID Act has given no consideration to this drawback.

Other privacy concerns regarding the electronic identification card is the use of information by third parties once they've scanned the cards and accessed the information. At this time, the Act does not specify what can be done with the information. A company or organization scanning your identification card could potentially sell your personal information if strict guidelines on what to do with the information are not mandated.

Inability to conform over the next three years will leave citizens and residents of the United States paralyzed. Identification cards that do not meet the federally mandated standards will not be accepted as identification for travel, opening a bank account, receiving social security checks, or participating in government benefits, among other things.


The Real Oil for Food Scam

The U.S. has accused UN officials of corruption in Iraq's oil for food program. According to Joy Gordon and Scott Ritter the charge was actually an attempt to disguise and cover up long term U.S. government complicity in this corruption. Ritter says, "this posturing is nothing more than a hypocritical charade, designed to shift attention away from the debacle of George Bush's self-made quagmire in Iraq, and legitimize the invasion of Iraq by using Iraqi corruption and not the now-missing weapons of mass destruction, as the excuse." Gordon arrives at the conclusion that, "perhaps it is unsurprising that today the only role its seems the United States expects the UN to play in the continuing drama of Iraq is that of scapegoat."

According to Gordon the charges laid by the U.S. accounting office are bogus. There is plenty of evidence of corruption in the "oil-for-food" program, but the trail of evidence leads not to the UN but to the U.S. "The fifteen members of the Security Council-of which the United States was by far the most influential--determined how income from oil proceeds would be handled, and what the funds could be used for." Contrary to popular understanding, the Security Council is not the same thing as the UN. It is part of it, but operates largely independently of the larger body. The UN's personnel "simply executed the program that was designed by the members of the Security Council."

The claim in the corporate media was that the UN allowed Saddam Hussein to steal billions of dollars from oil sales. If we look, as Gordon does, at who actually had control over the oil and who's hands held the money, a very different picture emerges. "If Hussain did indeed smuggle $6 billion worth of oil in the 'the richest rip off in world history,' he didn't do it with the complicity of the UN. He did it on the watch of the U.S. Navy." explains Gordon.

Every monetary transaction was approved by the U.S. through its dominant role on the Security Council. Ritter explains, "the Americans were able to authorize a $1 billion exemption concerning the export of Iraqi oil for Jordan, as well as legitimize the billion-dollar illegal oil smuggling trade over the Turkish border." In another instance, a Russian oil company "bought oil from Iraq under 'oil for food' at a heavy discount, and then sold it at full market value to primarily U.S. companies, splitting the difference evenly between [the Russian company] and the Iraqis. This U.S. sponsored deal resulted in profits of hundreds of millions of dollars for both the Russians and the Iraqis, outside the control of 'oil for food.' It has been estimated that 80 percent of the oil illegally smuggled out of Iraq under 'oil for food' ended up in the United States."

Not only were criminals enriched in this nefarious scheme, it also ended up sabotaging the original purpose of "oil for food." Gordon explains, "Flow Iraq sold its oil was also under scrutiny, and the United States did act on what it perceived to be skimming by Hussain in these deals. The solution that it enacted, however, succeeded in almost bankrupting the entire Oil for Food Program within months."

Harebrained Security Council policy not only succeeded in enriching the dishonest, it also virtually destroyed the program. According to Gordon, the U.S. and UK attempted to prevent kickbacks resulting from artificially low prices: "Instead of approving prices at the beginning of each sales period (usually a month), in accordance with normal commercial practices, the two allies would simply withhold their approval [of the price] until after the oil was sold-creating a bizarre scenario in which buyers had to sign contracts without knowing what the price would be." The result was "oil sales collapsed by forty percent, and along with them the funds for critical humanitarian imports."

What we have here, according to Gordon and Ritter, is a bare-faced attempt by criminals to shift blame to the innocent. Gordon concludes, "Little of the blame can credibly be laid at the feet of 'the UN bureaucracy.' Far more of the fault lies with policies and decisions of the Security Council in which Lt United States played a central role."

The accusations against the Oil for Food Program have served as a springboard for general attacks on the credibility of the United Nations as a whole, as well as personal attacks on Kofi Annan. For the most part the mainstream media has seized on the accusations and repeated them, without doing any of the research that would give the discussion more integrity. For example, "the United Nations" is criticized for "its" failures, and the Secretary General is then blamed because these events "happened on his watch." What was not mentioned at all for the first year of media coverage is that "the UN" is made up of several different parts, and that the part that designed and oversaw the Oil for Food Program was the Security Council, whose decisions cannot be overridden or modified in any way by the Secretary General. Not only that, while the most vitriolic accusations against the UN have come from the United States, the U.S. is in fact the most dominant member of the Security Council. The U.S. agreed to all the decisions and procedures of the Oil for Food Program that are now being so harshly criticized as "failures of the United Nations."

The mainstream press, for the most part, has repeated that the Oil for Food Program lacked accountability, oversight, or transparency. What is most striking about this is that the elaborate structure of oversight that was in fact in place-and is never mentioned at all-is so easily available. It is on the program's web site in complete detail along with huge amounts of information, making the program in fact highly transparent. Yet the mainstream press coverage reflects none of this.

Last fall we saw the beginnings of some acknowledgement of the U.S. responsibility for Iraq's ongoing smuggling, as some Democrats introduced evidence in hearings that all three U.S. administrations knew of and supported Iraq's illicit trade with Jordan and Turkey, two key U.S. allies. The press picked that up, but little else.

Since my article came out, there has been a good deal of press coverage from public radio stations and from foreign press. In addition, I have testified twice before Congressional committees, where the members of Congress were incredulous to hear that in fact the program operated very differently than they had been told-even though the information I provided them was obvious, basic, publicly available, and easily accessible.


Iran's New Oil Trade System Challenges U.S. Currency

The U.S. media tells us that Iran may be the next target of U.S. aggression. The anticipated excuse is Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. William Clark tells us that economic reasons may have more to do with U.S. concerns over Iran than any weapons of mass destruction.

In mid-2003 Iran broke from traditional and began accepting eurodollars as payment for it oil exports from its E.U. and Asian customers. Saddam Hussein attempted a similar bold step back in 2000 and was met with a devastating reaction from the U.S. Iraq now has no choice about using U.S. dollars for oil sales (Censored 2004 #19). However, Iran's plan to open an international oil exchange marker for trading oil in the euro currency is a much larger threat to U.S. dollar supremacy than Iraq's switch to euros.

While the dollar is still the standard currency for trading international oil sales, in 2006 Iran intends to set up an oil exchange (or bourse) that would facilitate global trading of oil between industrialized and developing countries by pricing sales in the euro, or "petroeuro." To this end, they are creating a euro-denominated Internet-based oil exchange system for global oil sales. This is a direct challenge to U.S. dollar supremacy in the global oil market. It is widely speculated that the U.S. dollar has been inflated for some time now because the monopoly position of "petrodollars" in oil trades. With the level of national debt, the value of dollar has been held artificially high compared to other currencies.

The vast majority of the world's oil is traded on the New York NYMEX (Mercantile Exchange) and the London IPE (International Petroleum Exchange), and, as mentioned by Clark, both exchanges are owned by U.S. corporations. Both of these oil exchanges transact oil trades in U.S. currency. Iran's plan to create a new oil exchange would facilitate trading oil on the world market in euros. The euro has become a somewhat stronger and more stable trading medium than the U.S. dollar in recent years. Perhaps this is why Russia, Venezuela, and some members of OPEC have expressed interest in moving towards a petroeuro system for oil transactions. Without a doubt, a successful Iranian oil bourse may create momentum for other industrialized countries to stop exchanging their own currencies for petrodollars in order to buy oil. A shift away from U.S. dollars to euros in the oil market would cause the demand for petrodollars to drop, perhaps causing the value of the dollar to plummet. A precipitous drop in the value of the U.S. dollar would undermine the U.S. position as a world economic leader.

China is a major exporter to the United States, and its trade surplus with the U.S. means that China has become the world's second largest holder of U.S. currency reserves (Japan is the largest holder with $800 billion, and China holds over $600 billion in T-bills). China would lose enormously if they were still holding vast amounts of U.S. currency when the dollar collapsed and assumed a more realistic value. Maintaining the U.S. as a market for their goods is a pre-eminent goal of Chinese financial policy, but they are increasingly dependent on Iran for their vital oil and gas imports. The Chinese government is careful to maintain the value of the yuan linked with the U.S. dollar (8.28 yuan to 1 dollar). This artificial linking makes them, effectively, one currency. But the Chinese government has indicated interest in de-linking the dollar-yuan arrangement, which could result in an immediate fall in the dollar. More worrisome is the potentiality of China to abandon its ongoing prolific purchase of U.S. Treasuries/debt-should they become displeased with U.S. policies towards Iran.

Unstable situations cannot be expected to remain static. It is reasonable to expect that the Chinese are hedging their bets. It is unreasonable to expect that they plan to be left holding devalued dollars after a sudden decline in their value. It is possible that the artificial situation could continue for some time, but this will be due largely because the Chinese want it that way. Regardless, China seems to be in the process of unloading some of its U.S. dollar reserves in the world market to purchase oil reserves, and most recently attempted to buy Unocal, a California-based oil company.

The irony is that apparent U.S. plans to invade Iran put pressure on the Chinese to abandon their support of the dollar. Clark warns that "a unilateral U.S. military strike on Iran would further isolate the U.S. government, and it is conceivable that such an overt action could provoke other industrialized nations to abandon the dollar en masse." Perhaps the U.S. planners think that they can corner the market in oil militarily. But from Clarks point of view, "a U.S. intervention in Iran is likely to prove disastrous for the United States, making matters much worse regarding international terrorism, not to mention potential adverse effects on the U.S. economy." The more likely outcome of an Iran invasion would be that, just as in Iraq, Iranian oil exports would dry up, regardless of what currency they are denominated in, and China would be compelled to abandon the dollar and buy oil from Russia-likely in euros. The conclusion is that U.S. leaders seem to have no idea what they are doing. Clark points out that, "World oil production is now flat out, and a major interruption would escalate oil prices to a level that would set off a global depression."


UPDATE BY WILLIAM CLARK: Following the completion of my essay in October 2004, three important stories appeared that dramatically raised the geopolitical stakes for the Bush Administration. First, on October 28, 2004, Iran and China signed a huge oil and gas trade agreement (valued between $70 and $100 billion dollars.)' It should also be noted that China currently receives 13 percent of its oil imports from Iran. The Chinese government effectively drew a "line in the sand" around Iran when it signed this huge oil and gas deal. Despite desires by U.S. elites to enforce petrodollar hegemony by force, the geopolitical risks of a U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would surely create a serious crisis between Washington and Beijing.

An article that addressed some of the strategic risks appeared in the December 2004 edition of the Atlantic Monthly. This story by James Fallows outlined the military war games against Iran that were conducted during the summer and autumn of 2004. These war-gaming sessions were led by Colonel Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel who for more than two decades ran war games at the National War College and other military institutions. Each scenario led to a dangerous escalation in both Iran and Iraq. Indeed, Col. Gardiner summarized the war games with the following conclusion, "After all this effort, I am left with two simple sentences for policymakers: You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. And you have to make diplomacy work."

The third and final news item that revealed the Bush Administration's intent to attack Iran was provided by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. The January 2005 issue of The New Yorker ("The Coming Wars") included interviews with high-level U.S. intelligence sources who repeatedly told Hersh that Iran was indeed the next strategic target. However, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China will likely veto any U.S. resolution calling for military action against Iran. A unilateral military strike on Iran would isolate the U.S. government in the eyes of the world community, and it is conceivable that such an overt action could provoke other industrialized nations to abandon the dollar in droves. I refer to this in my book as the "rogue nation hypothesis."

While central bankers throughout the world community would be extremely reluctant to "dump the dollar," the reasons for any such drastic reaction are likely straightforward from their perspective-the global community is dependent on the oil and gas energy supplies found in the Persian Gulf. Numerous oil geologists are warning that global oil production is now running "flat out." Hence, any such efforts by the international community that resulted in a dollar currency crisis would be undertaken-not to cripple the U.S. dollar and economy as punishment towards the American people per se-but rather to thwart further unilateral warfare and its potentially destructive effects on the critical oil production and shipping infrastructure in the Persian Gulf. Barring a U.S. attack, it appears imminent that Iran's euro-denominated oil bourse will open in March, 2006. Logically, the most appropriate U.S. strategy is compromise with the E.U. and OPEC towards a dual-currency system for international oil trades.


Rich Countries Fail to Live Up to Global Pledges

Forty-five million children will needlessly die between now and the year 2015, reveals the report by Oxfam, "Poor Are Paying the Price of Rich Countries' Failure." According to this report, 97 million more children will be denied access to an education by the year 2015 and 53 million more people will lack proper sanitation facilities. Ending poverty will require assistance on many levels. For third world countries, economic growth is undermined by unfair trade rules. Without finance and support, these countries will not be able to take advantage of global trade, investment opportunities, or protect basic human rights.

Wealthy countries such as the U.S., Germany, Japan, and the UK have promised to provide a very small fraction of their wealth to third world countries. By offering .7 percent of their gross national income, they could reduce poverty and end the burden of debt that makes low income countries pay up to $100 million per day to creditors. In the years 1960-65, wealthy countries spent on average 0.48 percent of their combined national incomes on official development assistance but by the year 2003 the proportion had dropped to 0.24 percent. Vital poverty-reduction programs are failing for the lack of finance. Cambodia and Tanzania are among the poorest countries in the world, yet they will require at least double the level of external financing that they currently receive if they are to achieve their poverty-reduction targets.

Global initiatives to enable poor countries to develop provisional education and combat HI V/AIDS are starved of cash. Despite the fact that HIV infection rates are rising in sub-Saharan Africa, the global fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria is assured of only one quarter of the funds that it needs for 2005. Poor countries continue to spend more paying back their creditors than they do on essential public services. Low-income countries paid $39 billion in debt payments and interest in 2003, while they received only $27 billion in aid.

Wealthy countries can easily afford to deliver the necessary aid and debt relief. For wealthy countries such as the U.S. to spend merely 0.7 percent of gross national income on humanitarian aid is equal to one-fifth of its expenditure on defense and one half of what it spends on domestic farm subsidies.

The U.S., at just 0.14 percent, is the least generous provider of aid in proportion to national income of any developed country. By comparison, Norway is the most generous provider at 0.92 percent. The U.S. is spending more than twice as much on the war in Iraq as it would cost to increase its aid budget to 0.7 percent, and six times more on its military program. Canceling the debts of the 32 poorest countries would be small change for the wealthy nations.

Millions of children are now in school in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia, thanks to money provided by foreign aid and debt relief. Because of these relief funds, Ugandans no longer have to pay for basic health care. A policy was implemented that resulted in an increase of 50 to 100 percent in attendance at Ugandan health clinics and doubled the rate on immunities. History also shows that aid has been necessary in eradicating global diseases as well as rebuilding countries devastated by war.

The wealthiest of nations have continuously signed international statements pledging to increase foreign aid to 0.7 percent of their gross national income in order to eliminate the crippling debts of third world countries. Repeatedly, they have broken their promises.


U.S. Plans for Hemispheric Integration Include Canada

The U.S. and Canada have been sharing national information since the creation of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) in 1958. This bi-national agreement to provide aerospace warning and control for North America is scheduled to expire in May 2006. In preparation for the renewal of this contract, the U.S. and Canadian commanders are proposing to expand the integration of the two countries, including cooperation in the "Star Wars" program, cross-national integration of military command structures, immigration, law enforcement, and intelligence gathering and sharing under the new title of NORTHCOM, U.S. Northern Command.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien refused to join NORTHCOM. To circumvent his decision, this "illusive transitional military" (aka NORAD/NORTHCOM) formed an interim military authority in December 2002, called the Bi-National Planning Group (BPG.) The command structure is fully integrated between NORAD, NORTHCOM and the BPG. The BPG is neither accountable to the U.S. Congress nor the Canadian House of Commons. The BPG is also scheduled to expire in May 2006. Hence, the push for Canada to join NORTHCOM.

Donald Rumsfeld said that U.S. Northern Command would have jurisdiction over the entire North American region. NORTHCOM's jurisdiction, outlined by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), includes all of Canada, Mexico, parts of the Caribbean, contiguous waters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans up to 500 miles of the Mexican, U.S. and Canadian coastlines as well as the Canadian Artic.

Under NORTHCOM, Canada's military command structures would be subordinated to those of the Pentagon and the DoD. In December 2001, the Canadian government reached an agreement with the head of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, entitled the "Canada-U.S. Smart Border Declaration." This agreement essentially hands over confidential information on Canadian citizens and residents to the U.S. Department of Homeland. It also provides U.S. authorities with access to tax records of Canadians. The National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, currently debated in the U.S. Senate, centers on a so-called 'Information Sharing Network' to coordinate data from 'all available sources."

The BPG is the interim military for NORTHCOM. Part of the BPG's agenda is the Civil Assistance Plan (CAP) which supports the ongoing militarization of the civilian law enforcement and judicial functions in both the U.S. and Canada. Military commanders would "provide bi-national military assistance to civil authorities." The U.S. military would have jurisdiction over Canadian territory from coast to coast, extending from the St. Laurence Valley to the Parry Island in the Canadian Arctic.

It appears that some Canadian leaders are in full support of this program. In the summer 2004, Canada agreed to amend the NORAD treaty to allow sharing satellite and radar data with the ballistic missile defense program based in Colorado. This operation center will control the 40 interceptor rockets planned for Alaska, California and at sea.

On February 22, 2005, at the NATO summit in Brussels, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin declared that his people would not participate in the controversial Missile Defense Shield. Contradicting this message, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. (and former board member of the Caryle Group) Frank McKenna, said "We are part of it now."

On August 2, 2004, the U.S. Air Force quietly published a new doctrine called "Counterspace Operations." The development of offensive counterspace capabilities provides combatant commanders with new tools for counterspace operations.. . that may be utilized throughout the spectrum of conflict and may achieve a variety of effects from temporary denial to complete destruction of the adversary's space capability. It has also been noted that Canadian Military personnel are taking part in large scale American space war games designed to prepare for combat in orbit.

Under an integrated North American Command, Canada would be forced to embrace Washington's pre-emptive military doctrine, including the use of nuclear warheads as a means of self defense, which was ratified by the U.S. Senate in December 2003.

Similar bi-national negotiations are being conducted with Mexico. U.S. military could exert strategic control over air space, land mass and contiguous territorial waters extending from the Yucatan peninsula in southern Mexico to the Canadian Arctic, representing 12 percent of the world's land mass. The militarization of South America under the "Andean Trade Preference Act" as well as the signing of a "parallel" military cooperation protocol by 27 countries of the Americas (the so-called Declaration of Manaus) is an integral part of the process of hemispheric integration (see story #17).

Richard N. Haass, of the U.S. Department of State, said at the 2002 Arthur Ross Lecture, "In the 21st century, the principal aim of American foreign policy is to integrate other countries and organizations into arrangements that will sustain a world consistent with U.S. interests and values and thereby promote peace, prosperity and justice as widely as possible. Integration reflects not merely a hope for the future, but the emerging reality of the Bush Administration's foreign policy."


U.S. Uses South American Military Bases to Expand Control of the Region

The United States has a military base in Manta, Ecuador, one of the three military bases located in Latin America. According to the United States, we are there to help the citizens of Manta, but an article in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists says that many people tell a different story.

According to Miguel Moran, head of a group called Movimiento Tohalli, which opposes the Manta military base, "Manta is part of a broader U.S. imperialist strategy aimed at exploiting the continent's natural resources, suppressing popular movements, and ultimately invading neighboring Colombia." Michael Flynn reported that the military base in Ecuador is an "integral part of the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Colombia-and is a potential staging ground for direct American involvement in the conflict there. Ecuadorians worry that the U.S. could ultimately pull their country into conflict." Flynn goes on to say that "the base is also at the center of a growing controversy regarding the U.S. efforts to block mass emigration from Ecuador [to the U.S.]." Policy makers have diminished the difference between police roles and military roles, stating that a police force is a body designed to protect a population through minimal use of force and the military, which aims to defeat an enemy through use of force.

According to a ten-year lease agreement between Ecuador and the United States, "... U.S. activities at the base are to be limited to counter-narcotics surveillance flights (the agreements for the other two Latin American Forward Operating Locations contain similar restrictions)." Ecuadorian citizens are not pleased with the lease or the way the U.S. has abused it. "A coalition of social and labor organizations has called for the termination of the U.S. lease in Manta on the grounds that the United States has violated both the terms of the agreement and Ecuadorian law."

The U.S., says Flynn, is intervening in Colombia through private corporations and organizations. Most of the military operations and the spraying of biochemical agents are contracted out to private firms and private armies. In 2003, according to the article in Z Magazine, the U.S. State Department said, "...there are seventeen primary contracting companies working in Colombia, initially receiving $3.5 million." One of these private American defense contractors, DynCorp, runs the military base at Manta. "The Pentagon's decision to give DynCorp-a company that many Latin Americans closely associate with U.S. activities in Colombia-the contract to administer the base reinforced fears that the United States had more than drug interdiction in mind when it set up shop in Manta," says Flynn.

In addition, say Sharma and Kumar, DynCorp was awarded a "$600 million contract to carry out aerial spraying to eliminate coca crops which also contaminates maize, Yucca, and plantains-staple foods of the population; children and adults develop skin rashes." The chemical, the foundation for the herbicide Roundup, is sprayed in Ecuador in a manner that would be illegal in the United States.

According to the NACLA report, in 2004, the Pentagon began installing 3 substitute logistics centers (now under construction) in the provinces of Guayas, Azuay, and Sucumbios, and is currently militarizing the Ecuadorian police who are receiving "anti-terrorist" training by the FBI. The U.S. military is also aiding Colombia's "war on drugs." Isacson, Haugaard and Olson write that, "increased militarization of antinarcotics operation is a pretext for stepped up counterinsurgency action and extending the war against them by the U.S." Washington also has seven security offices in Ecuador: defense (DAO), drug enforcement (DEA), military aid (MAAG), internal security, national security (NSA), the U.S. Agency for Internal Development (USATD), the Peace Corps, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). According to the Bush Administration they are mixing military and police roles to "...govern its counter-terror efforts in the hemisphere."

Michael Flynn offers this quote from an Ecuadorian writer as another example of the United States intervening in the operations of another country to further its own agenda: "The U.S. invasion of Iraq and the pressure on Ecuador to sign the interdiction agreement form part of a policy aimed at consolidating a unipolar world with one hegemonic superpower."


UPDATE BY MICHAEL FLYNN: I think one important aspect of my story about the Manta base is that it shows the arrogance that often characterizes U.S. relations with its southern neighbors. This arrogance comes with a heavy price, which the U.S. is paying now as South American leaders express an ever greater willingness to take an independent path in their affairs and reject the U.S. lead. This fact was clearly revealed recently when the Organization of American States soundly rejected a U.S. proposal to set up a mechanism to review the state of democracy in the Americas. Manta is a small part of this much larger picture. U.S. ambassadors, the head of Southcom, even representatives in Congress have shown a disregard for Ecuadorian concerns about operations at the Manta base, which has helped fan criticism of the base, and has turned into a lightning rod of criticism of U.S. policies. And this is only one of among dozens of similar bases spread out across the globe-what impact are they having on U.S. relations?

An equally important issue touched on in my story is the U.S. reaction to the migration crises that has gripped several Latin countries in recent years. Manta is a sort of quasi-outpost of the U.S. southern border, which has shown remarkable flexibility in recent years. The fact is, the border itself ceased long ago to be the front line in the effort to stop unwanted migration. The United States uses military bases located in host countries as staging grounds for detention efforts. It has funded detention centers in places like Guatemala City, and it has teamed up with law enforcement officials from other countries to carry out multi-lateral operations aimed at breaking up migrant smuggling activities. Manta is one piece in this larger puzzle.


UPDATE BY USA HAUGAARD While the nation is focused on events in Iraq and Afghanistan, 9/11 has also had a disturbing impact on U.S. policy toward Latin America. But the growth in U.S. military programs towards Latin America and the unfortunate emphasis by the United States on encouraging nondefense related roles for militaries is part of a more general trend that the Center for International Policy, Latin America Working Group Education Fund and Washington Office on Latin America have been documenting since 1997. Latin American civil society organizations, individuals and governmental leaders have struggled hard to strictly limit their militaries' involvement in civilian affairs, given that many militaries in the region had exercised severe repression, carried out military coups and maintained political control during several turbulent decades. After this painful history, it is troubling for the United States to be encouraging militaries to once again adopt nondefense related roles, as is the growing weight of U.S. military, rather than regional development aid in U.S. relations.

We are seeing a continuation of the general trend of declining U.S. development assistance and stable military aid to the region as well as the United States encouraging actions that blur the line between civilian police and military roles. We are also witnessing efforts by the Defense Department to exercise greater control over "security assistance" (foreign military aid programs) worldwide, which were once overseen exclusively by the State Department. This almost invisible shift--by no means limited to Latin America-is disturbing because it removes the State Department as the lead agency in deciding where foreign military aid and training is appropriate as part of U.S. foreign policy. It will lead to less stringent oversight of military programs and less emphasis upon human rights conditionality.

Our report, which we published in Spanish, received good coverage from the Latin American press. Mainstream U.S. newspapers regularly use our military aid database. The larger story about the general trends in U.S. military aid in Latin America and changes in oversight of foreign military programs, however, is one that has been covered by only a few major media outlets.

To see our military aid database, reports and other information (a collaborative project by the three organizations) see our "Just the Facts" website, http://www.ciponline.org/facts. See also our organizations' websites: Washington Office on Latin America, www.wola.org; Center for International Policy, www. ciponline.org; and Latin America Working Group Education Fund, www.lawg.org.

We welcome efforts by journalists, scholars and nongovernmental organizations to insist upon greater transparency and public oversight of U.S. military training programs, not just in Latin America but worldwide.


In Carepa, Colombia where a Coca-Cola bottling plant operates, the managers employed members of one of the brutal, armed paramilitary groups, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, to oppose the union workers. CocaCola does not own the bottling plants, but contracts with the companies that do. As the union at the bottling plant began organizing, the paramilitary group began threatening the union organizers. The Colombian Trade Union Federation reports that 45 trade unionists were murdered in the first eight months of 2003, and 117 or more were murdered in 2002. Fearing for their lives, about 60 out of 100 plant workers quit and fled the area. The union was crushed and the new workers were hired at wages less than half of what the union members were making. The union wage of about $380 per month dropped to $130.


CENSORED #4, 2005

Civilian populations in Afghanistan and Iraq and occupying troops ha been contaminated with astounding levels of radioactive depleted and nondepleted uranium as a result of post-9/11 United States' use of tons of uranium munitions.

Uranium dust will be in the bodies of our returning armed forces. Nine soldiers from the 442nd Military Police serving in Iraq were tested for DU contamination in December 2003. Conducted at the request of The New York Daily News, as the U.S. government considers the cost of $1,000 per affected soldier prohibitive, the test found that four of the nine men were contaminated with high levels of DU, likely caused by inhaling dust from depleted uranium shells fired by U.S. troops. Several of the men had traces of another uranium isotope, U-236, that are produced only in a nuclear reaction process.

Most American weapons (missiles, smart bombs, dumb bombs, bullets, tank shells, cruise missiles, etc.) contain high amounts of radioactive uranium. Depleted or non-depleted, these types of weapons, on detonation, release a radioactive dust which, when inhaled, goes into the body and stays there. It has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. Basically, it's a permanently available contaminant, distributed in the environment, where dust storms or any water nearby can disperse it. Once ingested, it releases subatomic particles that slice through DNA.

UPDATE BY JOSH PARRISH: There is national dispute on the dangers of Depleted Uranium (DU). The Depart of Defense has continually claimed that DU munitions are safe. At the same time, veterans groups and various scientists and doctors say that DU is the cause of Gulf War Syndrome and responsible for a sharp rise in birth defects among Iraqis and returning U.S. servicemen.

The information coming from the Department of Defense has, at best, been contradictory. Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, the deputy director of the Deployment Health Support Directorate and Pentagon spokesman on Depleted Uranium, has said "as long as this (DU exposure) is exterior to your body, you're not at any risk and the potential of internalizing it from the environment is extremely small." Several studies, commissioned by the Pentagon, have supported this assertion. One in particular, The Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, that reported to President Clinton in 1996 stated that "current scientific evidence does not support a causal link" between veterans symptoms and chemical exposures in the Persian Gulf. This committee goes on to say that stress "is likely to be an important contributing factor to the broad range of physical and psychological illnesses currently being reported by gulf war veterans."

However, these Pentagon studies contradict an Army report from 1990 that stated DU is "linked to cancer when exposures are internal, [and] chemical toxicity causing kidney damage." Here the U.S. government acknowledges that internal exposure to DU is likely to be harmful. It is only after the 1991 Gulf War, where DU munitions were used for the first time, the government began to claim they were harmless.

The main point of contention between the U.S. government and those who oppose the use of DU is what constitutes internal exposure and how does this exposure occur. The military insists that only soldiers who had shrapnel wounds from DU or who were inside tanks shot by DU shells and accidentally breathed radioactive dust were at risk. This ignores the findings of Leonard Dietz who, in 1979, found that DU contaminated dust could travel great distances through the air. Dietz accidentally discovered that air filters he was experimenting with had collected radioactive dust from a lead plant that was producing DU 26 miles away. "The contamination was so heavy that they had to remove the topsoil from 52 properties around the plant," Dietz said.

When they were in Iraq, the soldiers of the 442nd Military Police Company performed duties such as providing security for convoys, running jails and training Iraqi police. The fact that some of these soldiers have DU in their bodies is proof that one need not be directly exposed to a DU explosion to become contaminated. "These are amazing results, especially since these soldiers were military police and not exposed to the heat of battle," said Dr. Asaf Duracovic, who examined the GIs and performed the testing that was funded by the New York Daily News. One soldier from the 442n0, who tested positive for DU exposure, Specialist Gerard Darren Mathew has since fathered a child with birth defects. The child is missing three fingers and most of her right hand.

Whether or not DU is the cause of the myriad of ailments referred to collectively as "Gulf War Syndrome" has not been conclusively proved or disproved, and that is the problem. No thorough studies of DU's long-term effects have been done. In the absence of studies and definitive findings, the U.S. government has simply avoided the issue and refused to decontaminate affected areas in Iraq and Afghanistan.


CENSORED #24, 2005

In the spring of 2004, several million dollars were added to the Pentagon's budget to prepare for the activation of the Selective Service System (SSS) By August 2003, thirty-two states, two territories, and the District of Columbia enacted legislation that required driver's license information to be sent to the SSS. Violation of this legislation would restrict access to federal employment and student loans. Also, draft dodging would be much more difficult due to the "Smart Border Declaration," signed by the U.S. and Canada, which involved a "pre-clearance agreement" of people entering or departing each country and a provision aimed at eliminating higher education as a shelter.

Not waiting for the institution of a draft, the Pentagon, in 2003 stepped up their aggressive recruitment of Latinos and other minority groups. The Pentagon preys on the fact that Latinos are the fastest growing group of military-age individuals in the United States. These young people are also particularly likely to enter the military in search of "civilian skills" that they can apply in the workforce. However, 2001 Department of Defense (DOD) statistics showed that while 10 percent of military forces are comprised of Latinos, 17.7 percent of this group occupies "front-line positions," meaning: "infantry, gun crews, and seamanship." These are positions that, beside put these young people in particular danger, are not likely to give them skills translatable to their post military lives.


UPDATE BY BROOKE FINLEY: The activation of SSS began on June 15, 2005. At this time, the Pentagon has begun a campaign to fill 10,350 draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board slots nationwide.

In October 2004, at a campaign stop in Daytona Beach, Florida, President George W. Bush mistakenly said to his supporters: "After standing on the stage, after the debate, T made it very plain we will not have an all-volunteer army. Hearing the alarmed shouts of his supporters, he continued quickly, "And yet this week... will have an all-volunteer army. Let me restate that: we will not have a draft."

The president's quick back-pedaling was understandable considering the polls at the time, which showed that even the slightest mention of a draft would be a form of political suicide for either of the candidates. But despite the reassuring words, it is becoming more apparent that, in order for the Administration to continue to pursue its aggressive foreign policy, the draft is quickly becoming a military necessity.

The Bush Administration has claimed time and again that they will never reinstate the draft and the U.S. House voted 402-2 against S.89 and H.R.163, which would've required all young people, including women, ages 18-26 to serve two years of military service. But an internal Selective Service memo made public under the Freedom of Information Act shows that, in February 2003, a meeting was held with two of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's undersecretaries and the Selective Services' acting director, to debate and discuss a return of the draft. The memo notes the Administration's reluctance to launch a full scale draft but states, "defense manpower officials concede there are critical shortages of military personnel with certain skills, such as medical personnel, linguists, computer network engineers, etc." The potentially prohibitive costs of "attracting and retaining such personnel for military service has led some officials to conclude that, while a conventional draft may never be needed, a draft of men and women possessing these critical skills may be warranted in a future crisis."

Following this memo, the Health Care Personnel Delivery System (the HCPDS or "Special Skills Draft") was developed for the Selective Service System at the request of Congress and is currently in standby mode. Initially, HCPDS will be used to draft men and women, ages 20-45, who are skilled doctors, nurses, medical technicians and those with "certain other health care skills." But, Richard Flahavan, a spokesman for the Selective Service, admits that this legislation provides a perfect launching pad for a future full-scale draft. "Our thinking," says Flahavan, "was that if we could

run a health-care draft in the future, then with some very slight tinkering we could change that skill to plumbers or linguists or electrical engineers or whatever the military was short."

The National Guard and the Army Reserve now make up almost half of the fighting force in Iraq. The Pentagon is demanding that these volunteer soldiers extend their service, and the military, without legal ratification by Congress, has enforced the "stop loss" provision, which forces reservists and guardsmen to remain on active duty for an indeterminate amount of time. Many have been informed that their enlistment has been extended until December 24, 2031.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, claims that this extension is already one type of "draft" being used by the military. "People are being forced to stay beyond their commitment, and that's an indication of being overextended."

Another sign of the Administration's predicament is the lowered standards for Marine and Army recruits. The Army has allowed 25 percent more high school drop-outs into their program, and the Marines have offered $30,000 rewards for anyone who re-enlists. Almost $300 million has been spent on incentives alone for new recruits since the war in Iraq began and the advertising costs per new recruit have increased from $640 in 1990 to almost $1,900 in 2004. Recruitment is still focused on attracting the economically disadvantaged. Recruiters are continuously targeting high unemployment areas with flashy marketing campaigns and enlistment bonuses of thousands of dollars.

President Bush signed an executive order allowing legal immigrants to apply for citizenship immediately if they volunteer for active duty, rather than waiting the usual five years. Lt. Gen. James Heimly, the commander of the Army Reserve, sums up the military and President Bush's seduction of potential soldiers with one statement; "We must consider the point at which we confuse 'volunteer to become an American soldier' with 'mercenary'."

Through the No Child Left Behind Act, as well as the National Defense Authorization Act it is required that every high school receiving federal funding hand over the names, addresses and phone numbers of every junior and senior to local military recruitment offices. The public schools predominately targeted are located in poor communities.

With the neo-conservatives' aggressive foreign policy agenda: the possibility of a long commitment in the Middle East; the war on terror coupled

Project Censored page

Home Page