Though President Bush says he envisions a world that settles disputes with "reason and good will," he is deepening U.S. ties with countries that commit human-rights abuses. "But Bush's coalition against terrorism is deepening U.S. military ties with countries that ... commit human-rights abuses that are well documented by the State Department," writes Frida Berrigan. "Last month, the department released its annual 'Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.' It lists 52 countries that are receiving U.S. military training or weapons as having 'poor' or 'very poor' human-rights records."
"The Israeli army has taken harsh action in recent days against news media covering its campaign in the West Bank, employing intimidation and other drastic measures to keep journalists away from its largest offensive in a generation," reports MSNBC.
Joshua Micah Marshall, a former Washington Editor of the American Prospect, has some good insider dirt on Washington politics. His "Talking Points" website examines "astroturf" organizing, "op-ed payola" and other schemes used to manipulate the media and elected officials.
Taliban chief Mullah Mohammed Omar has reportedly announced a bounty of $50,000 to any Afghan gunmen who shoot a western journalist. With the roads of Afghanistan becoming ever more perilous, some journalists have made a "hasy retreat" from dangerous areas, partly to register protest with victorious Northern Alliance commanders who have failed to guarantee security.
The Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), which has fought against both the Soviet occupation and Islamic fundamentalists, has issued an appeal to the world community. "The people of Afghanistan do not accept domination of the Northern Alliance," it states. "The retreat of the terrorist Taliban from Kabul is a positive development, but entering of the rapist and looter NA in the city is nothing but a dreadful and shocking news for about 2 million residents of Kabul whose wounds of the years 1992-96 have not healed yet. ...
Like the United States, Britain is using the specter of terrorism to write new laws that erode domestic civil liberties. The House of Commons this week began considering a bill submitted by Prime Minister Tony Blair. According to the Guardian, "policy-makers have dusted down several of their more regressive proposals that have already been rebuffed once, to give them another run in the new coercive climate. ... The most serious infringement of civil rights ...
In a startling plea for official censorship, Amy E. Smithson of the Henry L. Stimson Center has urged the government to "close down" web sites run by environmental organizations if they publish information about hazardous materials in local communities around the country, claiming that such information could be used by terrorists.
The totalitarian Taliban regime has never been friendly to human rights or UN relief organizations, but now that it serves their propaganda they are demanding that UN relief agencies that they have consistently harassed "help the people of Afghanistan." A statement released by the Taliban appears aimed primarily at outside media and public opinion.
"Rare are the moments in American history when a Congress has surrendered so many cherished freedoms in a single trip to the altar of immediate fear," writes John Nichols regarding the ambitiously named Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act which was recently approved by Congress. In addition to authorizing unprecedented levels of surveillance and incarceration of both U.S.
The dictatorship that governs Pakistan was held in contempt by the West prior to September 11, first for its repression of democracy at home and second for its ties with terrorists. Now that it has become our ally against Afghanistan, however, the song has changed. "It may be a good thing that Pakistan is ruled by a friendly military dictator," says Newsweek magazine, "rather than what could well be a hostile democracy." As Robert Fisk points out, "This, of course, is the very policy that dictates Washington's relations with the Arab world.