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NZ Credibility Disappears Off The Radar
Keith said on October 21 in stating that the purchase of Israeli military hardware for our defence force has compromised New Zealand’s role as an impartial advocate for peace in the Middle East.
Cabinet papers reveal that the Defence Force has bought top-secret Israeli radar for the air force’s Orion patrol aircraft.
“We shouldn’t be supporting the Israeli military-industrial establishment by buying their equipment,” said Mr Locke, the Green Party Defence spokesperson. “How appropriate is it to buy technology that is getting a daily workout targeting Palestinian people and neighbourhoods for destruction?
“Such purchases sully our good name as an advocate of peace in the Middle East and cast into doubt the sincerity of the Government’s ‘hard line’ over the Israeli spies’ scandal.
US Patriot Act Requires Companies to Pass On NZers’ Info
Keith observed in saying that he would write to the Privacy Commissioner to ask her to investigate the actions of United States companies operating in New Zealand that are applying American, rather than our, laws and policies.
“The case reported today of Aucklander Mohammad Abbas, whose urgent money transfer to India was delayed for a month by Western Union because his name matched that of a suspect on an American watch list, is another example of George W. Bush’s ‘war on terror’ compromising our interests,” said Mr Locke, the Green Party’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson.
“The experience of Mr Abbas, an innocent man, is a scandal. ‘Mohammad Abbas’ is a common name so such overzealous enforcement of the US watchlist is potentially affecting people in several countries. A similar name is on New Zealand’s list of international terrorist suspects, but if Western Union had any suspicions they should have gone directly to the New Zealand Police, not sent the information to the US.
“Mr Abbas’s problem with Western Union is a confirmed example of a US subsidiary sending personal information on New Zealanders back to the US, but it is unlikely to be the only time it has happened.
Let Him Out to Speak
was Keith Locke’s request to Corrections Minister Paul Swain on 18 October, when he asked that Ahmed Zaoui be allowed to deliver a lecture in person at the University of Auckland on 19 October.
In his absence, Mr Zaoui’s ‘Clash of Civilisations: Myth or Reality?’ lecture was due to be delivered by Professor Andrew Sharp. The speech and subsequent panel discussion and question time was devoted to exploring how September 11 has affected the West’s perception of Islam. Ahmed Zaoui is a former Professor of Comparative Religion.
“It wouldn’t be difficult for Mr Swain to enable Mr Zaoui’s attendance,” said Keith.
“Mr Zaoui deserves to be accommodated in this way because of the unique nature of his detention. He is like no other inmate. He has no charge against him and has not been sentenced. He is not an asylum seeker detained while his refugee status is determined because he already has refugee status.
“In the recent Crown vs Television New Zealand case the Court of Appeal determined that Mr Zaoui should be able to address his views directly to the New Zealand public. Consequently, Mr Zaoui should be allowed to realise his court-recognised rights and deliver this lecture in person. ”
Wilson Is In Wonderland Over Zaoui Detention
said Keith Locke on 15 October.
In welcoming the latest decision against the Government’s attempts to gag Ahmed Zaoui Keith said “The Supreme Court decision to reject a Government appeal against Mr Zaoui being allowed to talk to the news media means that the muzzle is off and it will be harder for the politicians to slander him as a Muslim extremist.”
He also said that the Government was looking increasingly ludicrous in its attempts to justify Mr Zaoui’s incarceration.
“The Government seems to have backed itself all the way through the looking glass on the Zaoui case. Certainly, Attorney-General Margaret Wilson’s comment yesterday that ‘his detention is not an imprisonment’ might have come straight from Alice in Wonderland.
“Likewise, her comment that ‘he can leave at any stage he chooses’ displays contempt for the plight of refugees. Like all asylum seekers in New Zealand custody, Mr Zaoui does have the right to return to torture and death in his homeland.
“Ms Wilson also appears quite nonchalant about the extra time Mr Zaoui will be in jail as a result of her appeal against the Court of Appeal judgement that human rights must be taken into account in the pending review of his security status.
“It took nine months for the Court of Appeal to deal with the human rights issue,” said Mr Locke. “If the Supreme Court takes a similar time Mr Zaoui could end up spending three years in a New Zealand prison cell.
“It is to be hoped the Court of Appeal will take this suffering into account in its separate consideration as to whether he should be freed while his future in New Zealand is being determined.”
Don’t Appeal, Release Zaoui Now
was Keith’s call on 12 October, when he condemned the Government’s decision to appeal the Court of Appeal decision that Ahmed Zaoui’s human rights have to be taken into account in further determination of the Security Risk Certificate issued against him.
“Why are they prolonging Mr Zaoui’s agony? In her release, Margaret Wilson admits that she wouldn’t return Mr Zaoui to Algeria, a place of persecution, yet she is willing to persecute him with several more months in jail,” said Keith.
“The Government has previously admitted they are treating Mr Zaoui as a guinea pig for an inadequate law, which will be reviewed when his fate is determined.
“Mr Zaoui, who has refugee status, has now been in jail for more than 22 months. He shouldn’t have to suffer several more months in jail while the Government appeals the decision of two courts – the High Court and the Court of Appeal – that basic human rights criteria must be applied to Mr Zaoui’s case.
“It is unconscionable to keep such an innocent man, who has suffered so much abroad, in jail for what could now approach three years as a result of this further appeal,” said Mr Locke.
Zaoui Book Launched — Now On Sale — And Recommended
. On October 5
I almost forgot about the moon:the disinformation campaign against Ahmed Zaoui
by Selwyn Manning, Yasmine Ryan and Katie Small was launched in Auckland. Last night (October 20) MPs Matt Robson and Keith Locke, in association with Amnesty International, hosted a second launch in the Beehive.
Below is the blurb from
I almost forgot about the moon: the disinformation campaign against Ahmed Zaoui
“Justice and human struggle are themes recurring in many major non fiction investigations, but seldom has New Zealand had to confront such a complex series of issues as what is now known as the Ahmed Zaoui case.
Since his arrival at Auckland International Airport on December 4 2002, Ahmed Zaoui’s sheer presence has challenged New Zealand’s immigration laws and the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service’s ability to accurately and independently acquire information.
I Almost Forgot About The Moon examines Ahmed Zaoui’s life, interviews his colleagues, his family, political and international commentators, and New Zealand politicians, and investigates why he is considered a danger by Algeria, why he has convictions in Europe, why New Zealand’s SIS believed him to be a security risk, why New Zealand’s immigration laws are unable to determine a timely outcome, and offers examples of legal reform that would ensure New Zealand remains a just and fair country where an individual’s rights are considered equal to those of the state. Let the debate begin!”
I almost forgot about the moon
is available from Unity Books in Auckland and Wellington or can be ordered from Selwyn Manning for $17.00 (including postage) by emailing
scoop [dot] co [dot] nz
Clash of Civilisations: Myth or Reality?
was the title of Ahmed Zaoui’s lecture at Auckland University on Tuesday 19 October. Unfortunately Ahmed Zaoui was not able to attend to give the lecture himself, but hundreds of people went to hear what is New Zealand’s first real opportunity to hear Mr Zaoui speak to us.
Below is a brief extract from the beginning of his lecture, you can read the full text at:
Clash of Civilisations: Myth or Reality?
“The end of the cold war and the events of September 11 have engendered an intense and ever-increasing focus from academics and observers on the relations between ‘the West’ and ‘Islam’. The two entities are pictured as engaged in a fundamental conflict of values. At the same time the powerful Western media machine has produced selective coverage of the Muslim world that has emphasised only its negative aspects such as absence of democracy, human rights abuses and terrorism. Yet these are faults in many nations, Islamic or not; and very often they are demonstrably the legacies of the cold war, or occur in post-colonial states that have failed to achieve development at all levels. Rather than enlightening their readers, sensationalist headlines and unbalanced commentaries in Western media are evidence of a systematic failure of critical thinking about how to deal with a large portion of the world’s population, one that has over the centuries contributed in a positive way to the human and scientific development of Western civilisation itself.
A simple example can be seen in the notion of the “Islamic” nuclear threat, a concept that is now deeply anchored in the Western psyche, especially now that Pakistan has successfully tested a nuclear bomb in the context of a frenzied arms race with its neighbour, India.
I oppose these weapons of mass destruction, and do not regard it as praiseworthy for Muslims to possess nuclear weapons. They are weapons that do not differentiate between belligerent combatants and children in playgrounds. Therefore it is more than enough for the Pakistani bomb to be called ‘Pakistani’ and not ‘Islamic’, as it is enough for other Weapons of Mass Destruction to be called by the names of the nations that develop and hold them — American, British, French, Chinese — rather than by any religious label: Christian, Hindu or Jewish — or secular.
This paranoid view of Islam — I think of it as a psychological disorder characterised by delusions of persecution or grandeur — has been further compounded during the recent campaign to invade Iraq. The main reason invoked for the war was the alleged possession, by the Iraqis, of nuclear capabilities. The allegation that has not only proven false, but further enquiry has also unmasked the disgrace of reliance on “secret evidence”, and exposed the elaborate faēade of lies and half truths emanating from the White House and 10 Downing Street…”
Facts = Lies; Slogans = Truth
is Saul Landau’s take on the way the US media routinely reports lies propagated by the White House. In this article from ‘Progreso Weekly’, 7 October 2004 he documents examples of the ways in which the American people are lied to by their government, including the deceitful use of mercenary troops in Iraq. Truth is indeed the first casualty of war.
‘Instead of “sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth may be found,” much of the media repeats distortions that flow from the mouths of Administration officials. Bush, the worst President in US history – I apologize to Ulysses Grant, James Buchanan and Warren Harding detractors – must gloat when his proclamations make headlines. Editors don’t subject his continuing claims that Saddam Hussein threatened US security for example, to the same criteria of accuracy, consistency or clear definition that they do for “non-authorities.” Indeed, the media routinely repeats lies generated by the White House.
For example, The New York Times, “the paper of record” printed an op-ed (September 26) by Mahdi Obeidi in which the former Iraqi nuclear scientist repeats a Bush Administration myth. “By 1998, when Saddam Hussein evicted the [UN] weapons inspectors from Iraq.”
Was the Times fact checker on vacation? Had amnesia set in at the op-ed section? A ten second Google search would have shown that the Times ran a story on December 18, 1998, which stated that “the most recent irritant was [UN Weapons Inspection Chief] Mr. Butler’s quick withdrawal from Iraq on Wednesday of all his inspectors and those of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors Iraqi nuclear programs, without Security Council permission. Mr. Butler acted after a telephone call from Peter Burleigh, the American representative to the United Nations, and a discussion with Secretary General Kofi Annan, who had also spoken to Mr. Burleigh.”
On February 2, 2000 the Times corrected its own previous front-page story on Iraq “that misstated the circumstances under which international weapons inspectors left that country before American and British air strikes in December 1998. While Iraq had ceased cooperating with the inspectors, it did not expel them. The United Nations withdrew them before the air strikes began.”
In other words, the Times like all other major news sources reported the true story and then ignored it and began to echo Bush’s lie. Yes, that the United States asked the UN to withdraw the weapons team, which it did. Saddam did not kick them out. Yet, on August 3, 2002, less than four years later, as Bush beat the war drums, the Times editorialized that “America’s goal should be to ensure that Iraq is disarmed of all unconventional weapons…. To thwart this goal, Baghdad expelled United Nations arms inspectors four years ago.”
Did repeating the lie that Saddam kicked out the inspectors have the super Goebbels effect: not only to the public believe it, but convince the Times’ editors as well? Bush and Dick Cheney continue to repeat this myth and other Bushies like Bill “The Gambler” Bennett highlights it while defending the invasion of Iraq.
The august press screamed over Dan Rather’s use of “forged” documents (60 Minutes, September 8) concerning Bush’s National Guard record. But it has not insisted that Cheney find the forger of the paper alleging that Saddam Hussein tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger – one of Bush’s now discredited claims that led him to invade Iraq. Nor does the media demand that Cheney reveal who faked the document he refers to in his claim that Saddam had tight links to Al-Qaeda, which 9/11 Commission investigators found to be concocted. Indeed, Cheney travels the country repeating these prevarications. Perhaps Defense Secretary Rumsfeld will claim that someone faked the 1983 photo of him shaking hands with Saddam Hussein?
Without mass media to inform the public that the President and Vice President routinely lie, the “rally round the flag” gang that the Bushies promote has grown to sickening proportions. “Support Our Troops” bumper stickers proliferate. But do the carriers of these red, white and blue decals define soldiers of fortune as troops?
Under Bush, the privatized military sector has grown and salaries for these mercenaries – the old fashioned word for them — have risen. So, I conclude that Bush includes mercenaries as troops. And, according to the June 14, 2004 Washington Post, the US government has engaged between 20,000 and 30,000 “contractors” in Iraq, more than four army divisions.
These hired guns and administrators govern Iraqi daily life and sometimes torture and kill Iraqis. This behavior pays up to $200,000 a year – in the case of retired generals, who now head these semi-covert profit operations. Financing for this “how to become a millionaire in Iraq” scheme comes from secret CIA and DOD budgets, paid for by ignorant taxpayers.
A Pentagon report accused two of these “troops” of illegally abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. Steven Stephanowicz of Arlington Virginia’s “CACI International,” and John B. Israel of San Diego’s “Titan Corp.” have not faced criminal charges as some of the regular “troops” have for torturing prisoners.
Jonathan Turley (LA Times September 16, 2004) describes MPRI as yet another contracting company with “dozens of former generals and 10,000 former soldiers in the field, including many former members of the Special Forces.” Such contractors have fielded armies in Croatia and Bosnia, where they were “linked to abuses ranging from ethnic cleansing to the trafficking of sex slaves.”
Privatizing war circumvents congressional limits. Congress authorized only 20,000 troops for Bosnia. So, the Pentagon contracted with private mercenary companies to get an additional 2,000.
These higher-paid troops face similar dangers to those confronted by reservists or volunteers. Indeed, more than 120 have died in Iraq since May 2003, when Bush “accomplished his mission.”
Mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan have – like some other troops — also tortured and murdered. On September 15 Afghan judges sentenced three members of one private army to 8 to 10 years in prison for running a private jail and torturing prisoners. They claimed they worked for a Pentagon counterterrorist group led by Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, who last October called Bush’s wars a clash between Christianity and Islam. Muslims, according to Boykin worship an idol, not a ”real God.”
Jonathan K. Idema, 48, a former Special Forces operative, provided journalists with taped conversations to show that the convicted men had at least General Boykin’s acknowledgement of – if not blessing for — their actions. Videos taken in Kabul by one of the team showed Idema with Boykin’s staff on two occasions, discussing rounding up terrorists. Should we give full support to Idema, who remained in fax and phone contact with high Defense officials and went on missions with NATO forces in Kabul?
The government didn’t deny that another former Special Forces operative, now working as a mercenary, used a flashlight to beat an Afghan prisoner to death. On June 19, 2003 David Passaro, a contractor working for the CIA” got orders to extract information from Abdul Wali, and in the process murdered him. (Los Angeles Times September 16, 2004.)
As Passaro awaits trial, should we make bumper stickers offering support to him as one of our troops? Should we offer full support to the Abu Ghraib officers, soldiers and mercenaries who tortured?
Or take MPRI, yet another beneficiary of the privatization of Bush’s war. A score of ex generals earn healthy six figure salaries and thousands of Special Forces veterans make more than they could as security guards at a local Safeway. Deregulation has accompanied privatization of military operations in recent years. The Pentagon finds them convenient, however, to circumvent federal restrictions on the size of military operations. Should we offer full support for these troops?
Bush has certainly fulfilled his promise to privatize public affairs. His invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq have rescued the declining mercenary sector from oblivion. Idema, who occupies the gray area between official and semi-official “contractor,” actually showed how effective mercenaries can be at showing what democracy means to the idol-worshipping heathens. Did he try to prove General Boykin’s assertion and use torture and murder to show that our God was at least as tough as Saddam’s idol?
Jonathan Turley correctly observed that the US public has never held “a national debate on the use of mercenaries or on the rules governing their conduct. And, if some powerful forces in Washington have their way, there never will be.” The mercenaries-for-hire corporations receive billions of the taxpayers’ dollars, and employ tens of thousands. “Like many nations in history, we may find that it is far easier to hire mercenaries than to be rid of them.
Support Our Mercenaries
” or ”
I Support Our Troops More Than You Do
” bumper stickers might provoke the public into at least discussing what the mainstream media hasn’t told them about Bush’s vanity wars.”
JustPeace was produced by Christine Dann, Tim Hannah and Keith Locke, MP
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