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Hot News

  • No Military Aid to Tonga

    while the Tongan monarchy continues its programme of repression of the press and the judiciary, was Keith Locke’s message to the Government on 19 June. In the past six months the Tongan Defence Services have conducted 12 bilateral activities with the NZ Defence Force. ”We shouldn’t be helping train an armed force that may be used against the people if the Tongan monarchy continues down its increasingly repressive track”, said Keith. Read

    Keith’s release


  • Secure Society or Surveillance State?

    Speaking in Paliament on the Crimes Amendment Bill (No 6) on 12 June, Keith Locke questioned whether its proposals to give additional powers to the police and the intelligence services would really increase security for New Zealanders, or whether it would further reduce our rights to privacy and freedom of belief and expression. He said that there was no evidence that it would do the former, and a grave danger that it would do the latter, and therefore the Greens were not supporting the Bill. Read

    the whole speech


Hot Action

  • Wellington. Monday, 23 June, 7 — 9 p.m.

    , Athena College, 203 Willis St. Peace Action Wellington is holding a public meeting to discuss the validity of peacekeeping forces. All welcome. The discussion will be kicked off with a presentation of the pro/con arguments, with Keith Locke presenting the arguments for and Bill Logan presenting the arguments against.

  • Auckland, Thursday 26 June, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m

    , Clock Tower Building, Auckland University, 22 Princes St.- ‘Together against Torture’, a seminar to discuss: what international law is in place protecting people from torture and how effective has the 1987 UN Convention against Torture been? How does New Zealand fare in the international scene? Is it supporting regimes and governments that covertly or overtly torture their citizens? How has the ‘war against terrorism’ impacted on people’s rights and freedoms? Refugees, who have experienced torture, will tell their stories and a representative from Amnesty International will discuss the role of their organisation in the global fight against torture, one of the least reported, yet most serious, human rights violations. The seminar convenor is Heval Hylan, a refugee from Iraq who is qualified as a lawyer both in Baghdad and in New Zealand, who works closely with the refugee community and liaises regularly with the government. Organised by the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of Auckland in recognition of the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. For more info contact Jo Davies, Programme Co-ordinator, Community Education, Centre for Continuing Education, (09) 373 7599 x88693.

Hot Analysis

  • Weapons of Mass Deception

    . Some American and British politicians and civil servants are becoming increasingly angry and vocal about the way in which the Bush and Blair governments apparently twisted, suppressed and even fabricated ”evidence” (and non-evidence) about the imminent threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq. Such a threat is of course the only valid legal basis on which an attack on Iraq can be justified. A long 17 June article by Nat Parry covers all the growing reasons for disquiet about the deceptions practised by Bush and the compliant US media, and the beginnings of the political fightback in the US. Key excerpts are given below, and the full article can be found at

    ”Bush and the End of Reason”


    ”… Every day there are new revelations from intelligence officials that the evidence was manipulated to scare the American people into a war that the Associated Press conservatively estimates killed 3,240 Iraqi civilians, a figure culled from the records of 60 of Iraq’s 124 hospitals. “The account is still fragmentary, and the complete toll — if it is ever tallied — is sure to be significantly higher,” the AP reported. [AP, June 10, 2003]

    In light of that carnage and the continuing bloodshed, the reaction to Bush’s WMD deceptions can be seen as a measure of how enfeebled the U.S. political system has become. Will the American people demand serious answers from Bush and his administration over what New York Times columnist Paul Krugman calls “the worst scandal in American political history,” taking the nation to war over a series of lies and distortions? Or will the “feel good” presidency roll on?

    In September 2002, for instance, Bush started his march to war by going to the U.N. and demanding a tough stance against Iraq over its alleged WMD. “Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons,” Bush said. “Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons.”

    That same month, in secret, the Defense Intelligence Agency was finding the evidence was far less precise than Bush was claiming. “There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or whether Iraq has — or will — establish its chemical warfare production facilities,” the DIA said in a classified report. That information didn’t reach the American people, however, until June, two months after the war, when Bloomberg News and other news outlets disclosed it.

    On another occasion in those early days of war fever, Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair cited a “new” report supposedly from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency saying Iraq was “six months away” from having a nuclear weapon. “I don’t know what more evidence we need,” said Bush.

    Few in the U.S. news media noted that the IAEA had issued no new report. “Millions of people saw Bush tie-less, casually inarticulate, but determined-looking and self-confident, making a completely uncorroborated (and, at that point, uncontradicted) case for pre-emptive war,” observed author John R. MacArthur in the Columbia Journalism Review. [May/June 2003]

    As Bush’s pre-war drumbeat grew louder, so did the alarms about WMD. Secretary of State Colin Powell told the U.N. that Saddam had amassed tons of chemical and biological weapons. Blair claimed that Iraq’s WMD could be unleashed in only 45 minutes. Bush warned that Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons could be put into unmanned planes that could spray poison on U.S. cities — though it was never clear how Iraq’s short-range planes were going to fly halfway around the world. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s

    “Misleading the Nation to War”


    Even as the earlier IAEA claim proved inaccurate, Bush made new claims about Iraq’s plans to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program, one of the scariest nightmares to Americans. Only later was it disclosed that two key pieces of evidence were bogus. A supposed document showing Iraq seeking nuclear material from Niger turned out to be a forgery, and metal tubing that the Bush administration insisted was for nuclear production actually would fit only for manufacturing conventional weapons…

    …Even as the administration’s case for Iraq possessing a trigger-ready stockpile of chemical and biological warfare collapses, Bush’s aides still don’t hesitate to go on the offensive against their critics. Some top Bush aides even have the audacity to accuse the critics of manipulating the historical record.

    “There’s a bit of revisionist history going on here,” sniffed Bush’s national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on NBC’s “Meet the Press” as she lashed out at former CIA analysts and others who questioned Bush’s pre-war WMD claims. “As I said, revisionist history all over the place.” [June 8, 2003]

    In this Brave New World, up is definitely down and black is clearly white. Those who don’t agree with Bush’s false record are the “revisionists,” which implies they — not Bush — are the ones playing games with history.

    Besides the WMD distortions, the Bush administration pushed other pre-war hot buttons to get Americans juiced up for war. Bush and his aides repeatedly suggested that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda were in cahoots, a theme used so aggressively that polls showed nearly half of Americans polled believing that Saddam Hussein was behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    Only now has it been disclosed that the Bush administration knew — and hid — direct evidence contradicting its claims about Iraqi collaboration with al-Qaeda. Before the war began, the U.S. government had captured two senior al-Qaeda leaders, Abu Zahaydah and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who in separate interrogations denied the existence of an alliance.

    Abu Zahaydah told his U.S. interrogators last year that the idea of cooperation was discussed inside al-Qaeda but was rejected by Osama bin Laden, who has long considered Saddam an infidel and his secular government anathema to al-Qaeda’s Islamic fundamentalism. While the Bush administration would have surely publicized an opposite answer from the captured al-Qaeda leaders, the denial of an alliance was kept under wraps. The al-Qaeda interrogations were revealed by the New York Times on June 9…

    … Now, some Americans seem to view coming to grips with the fact that Bush lied about the reasons for war to be an unnecessary downer off a pleasant high. So far, the majority of Americans indicate that they would rather keep the warm glow of victory going than hold Bush accountable.

    Polls have found a kind of wilful gullibility. A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, taken June 9-10, reported that 64 percent said the Bush administration had not intentionally misled the people about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction while only 31 percent thought otherwise.

    The poll also showed that 43 percent of Americans say they are “certain it is true” that “Iraq had biological or chemical weapons before the war,” with another 43 percent saying that was “likely but not certain.” Only 9 percent said it was “unlikely but not certain” and 3 percent said they were “certain it is not true.”

    Similarly overwhelming percentages said they believed or were certain that Iraq had ties to Osama bin Laden. Only 11 percent said that was “unlikely but not certain” and 4 percent said that unproven claim was certainly not true.

    Another poll, by the Program on International Policy Attitudes, found that 68 percent of Americans continue to approve of the decision to go to war. Of those supporting the war, 48 percent believed that U.S. forces had already found weapons of mass destruction.

    For Republicans, this false belief seemed to be a kind of loyalty test. Among Republicans who said they follow international affairs very closely, 55 percent said they thought WMD had been found.

    Judging from the polls, it appears that many Americans have been infected with a case of collective denial or already have adjusted to the new post-Reason Age. It is somehow considered wrong to challenge the conventional wisdom, which holds that the war was an unqualified success.

    Americans have sustained their support for Bush even as more and more insiders from the U.S. intelligence community quit and try to explain the weaknesses of Bush’s counter-terrorism strategies. One of the latest is Rand Beers, a career counter-terrorism adviser who left Bush’s White House and joined the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

    “The administration wasn’t matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism,” Beers said in an interview with the Washington Post. “They’re making us less secure, not more secure.” Beers cited Bush’s focus on Iraq as undermining the war on terror by robbing money from domestic security projects, hurting crucial alliances and creating breeding grounds for al-Qaeda.

    “Counter-terrorism is like a team sport. The game is deadly. There has to be offense and defense,” said the 60-year-old veteran who served on the National Security Councils of the last four presidents. “The Bush administration is primarily offense, and not into teamwork.” [Washington Post, June 16, 2003] ”

    JustPeace was produced by Christine Dann, Tim Hannah and Keith Locke, MP

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