Make way for the President: homes, businesses
bulldozed, mass arrests for Bush’s Africa trip
Compiled By Shawn Gaynor
July, 16 (AGR) US President George W. Bush, who
embarked on his Africa tour, along with African America cabinet members
Collin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, to demonstrate his administrations
compassion, appeared to face a growing credibility gap as
he made his way from Senegal then on to South Africa, Botswana, Uganda,
and finally Nigeria.
But even as the administration spoke of compassion, massive displacements
and arrests took place under an unprecedented security operation for
the US president.
As Bush traveled though Africa he was accompanied by about 700 security
people from the US.
Africa, the worlds poorest continent, is in the grips of a devastating
AIDS epidemic, and wide spread conflicts.
While Bushs trip showcased a visit to the former Slave Stockade
of Goree, his trip was short on policy breakthroughs and no new relief
for the hungry continent was forthcoming.
Bushs first stop brought him to the mainly Muslim country of Senegal.
In preparation for his arrival, more than 1,500 persons were arrested
and put in jail between Thursday and Monday. Witnesses reported that
all trees in places where Bush will pass have been cut for security.
During Bushs stay US military planes flew day and night over the
capitol city of Dakar.
All roads going into the downtown of the capitol were closed from Monday
cutting people off from access to hospitals, businesses, schools
leaving students business people and the sick stranded at home.
National exams for high schools that started on Monday were postponed.
Bush came with his own journalists, with Senegalese reporters forbidden
from the area, and Senegalese security forces not allowed to come near
the US president.
Senegals President was sidelined by Bush, and was not allowed
to make a speech during the visit.
Several protest marches against American politics took place throughout
the country, with protesters shouting George Bush, assassin, George
Bush gave his only speak in the country at the former slave trade island
Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, and the Pope have all visited Goree without
bothering the islanders who reside there, but the Bush visit was in
stark contrast to other dignitaries.
When Clinton came, he shook hands, people danced, said former
Mayor Urbain Alexandre Diagne.
For security reasons, the local population of 400 was chased
out of their houses at 5:00am. They were forced by the American security
to leave their houses and leave everything open, including their wardrobes
to be searched by special dogs brought from the US.
Ndiaye and other residents of Goree, site of a famous slave trading
station, said they had been taken to a football ground on the other
side of the quaint island at and told to wait there until Bush departed,
Its slavery all over again, fumed one father-of-four,
who did not want to give his name. Its humiliating.
We were shut up like sheep, said 15-year-old Mamadou.
When Bush arrived in South Africa, he was criticized by student groups
who said he wants to champion Western imperialist ideas.
The Southern African Students Union (SASU) condemned the visit
of American President George Bush to Africa a few days before the African
Union (AU) summit in Mozambique.
The Young Africans Welfare Association (YAWA) and the Pan-African Youth
Action Committee (PAYAC) also condemned the visit.
If Mr. Bush is a sincere man he must have respect for the peoples
of Africa by not bringing his dictatorial ideas to the African Union
and all our heads of states, they said.
In Cape Town about 1,500 people braved a blustery winters day
to march to parliament in protest against Bushs visit to South
The large crowd spontaneously started a bonfire close to the main entrance
of parliament, feeding the fire with posters of Bushs face on
The crowd was diverse, and included black-garbed anarchists with an
effigy of Bush looking like an alien, environmentalists, purda-covered
Muslim women and social activists.
Anti-War Coalition spokesperson Shaheed Mahomed denounced the South
African government, saying the African National Congress, South Africas
ruling party, was siding with the side of imperialism [by] welcoming
the brutal and barbaric section of the American administration.
Ms. Mohamed said the city of Cape Town had refused them permission to
stage a 48-hour picket in front of the US Consulate because of complaints
from the consulate and the police.
Provincial Secretary Nkosinathi Mahala also criticized the visit saying,
We are angry at President Mbeki for encouraging a terrorist such
as Bush, Mahala said to cheers from the crowd.
Bush rapped up his tour in oil rich Nigeria on last Friday, accompanied
by a large entourage of corporate executives. On the ground in Nigeria,
there is an oil war raging. Villagers in the oil-rich Niger Delta are
rising up, demanding an end to a system that keeps them in poverty as
their government pumps Nigerias natural resources to Western nations,
enriching itself and oil executives. In unprecedented acts of resistance,
villagers have seized oil rigs, barges and helicopters belonging to
transnational oil corporations.
As like the other stops on his tour, human displacement in the nation
of security was unprecedented.
Armed police backed by bulldozers tore down illegally built homes and
shops in the Nigerian capital Abuja today ahead of a visit by US President
George W Bush.
The operation began after an order from President Olusegun Obasanjo
to clean up the city ahead of his American counterparts arrival,
In one residential quarter of the city one reporter saw around 60 buildings
- ranging from brick-built structures to makeshift wooden shanties -
ploughed down as hundreds of residents looked on in despair.
They didnt give us any warning, wailed tailor John
Emeka, who saved his sewing machine but lost much of his stock when
a joint taskforce of police and environmental protection agents pulled
down his business.
Nearby a stock of computers lay mangled in the wreckage of an electronic
goods store, and the owner of a grilled meat stand argued with officers
attempting to condemn his barbecue.
The police came armed with assault rifles and tear gas, but there was
no violence as the bulldozers rolled in.
More than 2,000 Nigerian police and intelligence officers have been
deployed around Abuja to provide security for Bushs visit, the
last stage in a whirlwind five-nation tour of Africa.
Bush was all business as he and National Security Advisor Condoleezza
Rice met with the Chevron Texaco CEO and chairman Dave OReilly.
Other transnational corporations attending include Exxon-Mobil and Shell
Rice is a former board member of Chevron. The company named an oil tanker
after her, the Condoleezza Rice.
In 1998, Democracy Now! revealed for the first time that Chevron played
a role in the killing of two Nigerian villagers. This is during the
time Rice was involved in the company.
The San Francisco-based oil company helped facilitate an attack by the
feared Nigerian Navy and notorious Mobile Police (MOPOL).
In a interview with Democracy Now!, a Chevron official acknowledged
that on May 28, 1998, the company transported Nigerian soldiers to their
Parabe oil platform and barge in the Niger Delta, which dozens of community
activists had occupied. The protestors were demanding that Chevron contribute
more to the development of the impoverished oil region where they live.
Soon after landing in Chevron-leased helicopters, the Nigerian military
shot to death two protesters, Jola Ogungbeje and Aroleka Irowaninu,
and wounded several others.
Left unresolved on the tour was the issue of US commitment to the conflict
in Liberia. West African state was once a US colony settled by freed
slaves from the United States under a charter from the US Congress 180
With the US armed forces spread thin worldwide, Bush is reluctant to
get involved in the civil war raging in the country.
The leading opposition group, threatened on Friday to fight any peacekeepers
deployed before President Charles Taylor, who has been accused of war
crimes, steps down.
The statement by Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD)
came as Bush considered whether to send US soldiers with a regional
LURD said the deployment of international troops before the departure
of Taylor, who has been indicted for war crimes, would simply serve
to prop up the former warlord and arch-survivor.
While we hope for the best, we are braced for the worst; therefore
any troops deployed before the departure of Taylor must be prepared
for a firefight, a statement from the groups secretariat
in northern Liberia said.
Taylor has promised to step down and accepted an offer of asylum in
Nigeria, but he wants the international force in place first to, he
says, avert chaos.
Bush is under international pressure to send troops to help over three
million people in the country, but has remained uncommitted.
The largest question left unanswered during the Bush visit was his sincerity
in combating the AIDS epidemic.
AIDS is killing about 7,000 Africans every day.
The US Congress has not yet appropriated the money for African AIDS
relief programs, and, despite his trip to Africa, Bush did not make
clear whether he is willing to put real pressure on lawmakers to fully
Bush said he had not decided whether to push Congress for the full $3
billion in 2004 for his anti-AIDS initiative. By large margins, Congress
approved the full amount in authorization bills earlier this spring,
but the actual funds depend on approval of appropriations bills that
have not yet been voted on by either house, and, in an initial indication,
the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee
voted Thursday to approve only $2 billion, the amount Bush himself had
originally requested for next year.
Joseph ONeill, director of the White House Office of National
AIDS Policy, confirmed Friday that the administration would be satisfied
with that amount in the first year of the programs operation.
In the first year, its going to take less money to get the
job done, he was quoted as saying in a statement that infuriated
anti-AIDS activists like Paul Zeitz of the Global AIDS Alliance, who
argued: The full $3 billionand even morecould be used
right now to save lives and meet the needs of orphans.
Even at the level of $3 billion dollars a year, the AIDS funding is
less the $4 per African.
This shows tremendous cynicism, said Salih Booker of Africa
Action, who has criticized Bushs repeated declarations to African
audiences last week about the $15 billion dollar program a cruel
hoax. They have called this an emergency program,
yet they think they need less money to get the job done
in the first year. The situation is more than an emergency; its
a catastrophe, and the administration thinks it can get the job
done with $2 billion next year.
At the same time, 116 House members sent a letter to Bush Friday urging
him to support the full $3 billion for 2004, $1 billion in emergency
spending on AIDS, including $1 billion for the Global Fund to Fight
HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria. Although Bushs Health and Human Services
Secretary, Tommy Thompson, chairs the Global Fund, Bush has said he
wants to contribute only $200 million a year to it. The Global Fund,
which most activists and public-health specialists consider to be the
most effective mechanism for getting aid to HIV/AIDS victims, could
run out of money by the end of this year, according to current estimates.
Sources: AFP, Democracy Now, OneWorld.net, Reuters, Times
of Zambia, South African Press Association
Florida Supreme Court strikes down parental
July 10, Tallahassee, FL-- Saying Floridas parental
notification law violates a womans right to privacy, the Florida
Supreme Court today struck down a law requiring physicians to notify
a parent or legal guardian before performing an abortion on a young
We are pleased that the court invalidated a law that is completely
unnecessary, said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU
of Florida, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case along
with the national ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. Most teens
voluntarily involve their parents in their decisions, but those who
dont often have very good reasons for not doing so. When the state
forces parents to be involved, the consequences are often catastrophic.
At issue was a Florida law the Parental Notice of Abortion Act
that required a minor to notify a parent prior to obtaining an
abortion or convince a court to grant her an exception to the requirement.
Although Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed the law in 1999, it never
went into effect because of the legal challenge that was filed soon
In todays ruling, the court held that parent and minor are
free to do as they wish in this regard, without government interference.
The decision was based on a 1989 Florida Supreme Court ruling in In
Re: T.W., which held that a law requiring parental consent for an abortion
violated the right to privacy.
We are relieved that the court understood the danger that this
law poses for many young women in Florida, said Julie Sternberg,
a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and a one
of the authors of the ACLU brief. The law would have put teens
at grave risk, seriously and needlessly hampering them from getting
critical health care.
The case was brought on behalf of nine abortion providers and clinics,
as well as womens rights groups from across Florida. They are
represented by Bebe Anderson of the Center for Reproductive Rights,
Richard E. Johnson, a board member of the ACLU of Florida, and Dara
Klassel of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
In addition to the national ACLU and its Florida affiliate, the Physicians
for Reproductive Choice and Health, Society for Adolescent Medicine,
and the Womens Law Project also submitted friend-of-the-court
briefs in the case.
The case is North Florida Womens Health & Counseling Services,
Inc., et al. v. State of Florida, et al., No. SC01-843. Lawyers for
the ACLU briefs include: Randall Marshall, Legal Director of the ACLU
of Florida, Julie Sternberg and Louise Melling of the national ACLU
Reproductive Freedom Project.
Source: American Civil Liberties Union
Controversy surroundingBush administration’s
case for war heats up
Compiled by Shane Perlowin
July 16 (AGR) The failure to turn up chemical or biological weapons
in Iraq initially dismissed as a sour grapes issue
by Bush Administration insiders is growing into a genuine political
problem, dogging the US and British leaders at every public appearance
and sparking various agencies that had a hand in Iraq policy to begin
plotting a course through the gathering storm.
The Bush administrations admission that the president made a false
allegation against Iraq in his State of the Union address was intended
to help put to rest the increasing skepticism regarding the validity
of the case they made for going to war against Iraq. Instead, it reopened
fissures inside the administration, and in British Prime Minister Tony
During a carefully choreographed journey through Africa, Bush was dogged
by questions as to how a bogus claim about Saddam Husseins quest
for uranium to build nuclear weapons had made it into his January State
of the Union address. The British government has learned that
Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from
Africa, Bush falsely declared in January.
Bush and national security advisor Condoleezza Rice put the blame squarely
on the CIA for the controversy that has called the presidents
credibility into question in the mainstream and threatens to follow
Bush into next years presidential election.
Pressed by reporters traveling with the president in Uganda to explain
why that statement was included, Bush replied: I gave a speech
to the nation that was cleared by the intelligence services.
Rice spoke more bluntly, taking direct aim at CIA director George Tenet.
She said the language in the speech had been specifically cleared by
the CIA, and if Tenet had objections to the inclusion of the uranium
claim, he did not make them known.
Forcefully defending Bush, Rice said: The president did not knowingly,
before the American people, say something that we thought to be false.
These 16 words should never have been included in the text written
for the president, Tenet said, referring to Bushs African
Tenet has publicly attempted to take the heat for the Bush administration;
however, his claims contain elements that seem at odds with the White
Houses version of events.
At one point in a document released by Tenet, he says that CIA analysts
reviewing the State of the Union text raised several concerns
about the fragmentary nature of the intelligence on uranium with
members of the National Security Council, which is part of the White
House staff. As a result of those objections, some language was changed.
But Tenet suggested that the agency went along with the final text only
because of a technicality the fact that the allegation was attributed
to British intelligence.
Agency officials in the end concurred that the text in the speech
was factually correct, i.e. that the British government report said
that Iraq sought uranium from Africa, Tenet said. This should
not have been the test for clearing a presidential address, he
concluded. This did not rise to the level of certainty which should
be required for presidential speeches, and CIA should have ensured that
it was removed.
This appears to contradict Rices description of events. In a lengthy
interview with reporters on Air Force One, she said the only changes
sought by the CIA were to remove specific references to amounts of uranium
and countries from which Iraq was seeking to obtain it.
She said the agency did not object to the core of the assertion
that Iraq was seeking to procure uranium from Africa, an allegation
that was a key piece of evidence supporting claims by both Bush and
Vice President Dick Cheney that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear
program. Those claims supported their argument that Iraq posed an imminent
In addition, Senior administration officials told CBS News the Presidents
mistaken claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa was included
in his State of the Union address despite objections from the
With each passing week, new revelations come forth about the shortcomings
of coalition intelligence.
With the war still raging, enormous gaffes committed by British agents
came to light, including admissions that some accusations in a highly
touted dossier on Iraq actually were lifted from a US grad
students 12-year-old doctoral thesis, casting doubts on the reliability
of Britains spy agency, MI-6.
Prewar Israeli intelligence suggesting Saddams ballistic missile
arsenal might be as large as two dozen Scuds also has been largely discredited,
though some Israeli sources continue to claim Iraq hid much of its banned
material across the border in Syria before the war began.
In May, sensing a gathering storm over the missing WMD,
US intelligence analysts began leaking complaints to US news outlets
suggesting that they were pressured to bury, in the words
of one, any analysis that did not support the most alarmist view of
the Iraqi threat.
In early June, two strangely outfitted trailers were discovered that
seemed to fit the description of the mobile biological weapons
labs Powell accused the Iraqis of operating in a February speech
to the U.N. Security Council. No weapons material was found in the trailers,
however, and within two weeks, unnamed US intelligence officials had
told the Washington Post that the administration suppressed analysts
reports that concluded the trailers were likely to have been just what
the Iraqis claimed they were: support trailers used to inflate weather
By late May, having spent the previous month insisting WMD discoveries
were just a matter of time, senior administration officials and the
president himself began to hedge a bit, stressing the difficulty of
finding such caches without cooperation from Iraqi experts, and even
raising the possibility these weapons had been destroyed before the
The Pentagon also moved to quash reports that it had orchestrated efforts
to sex up intelligence on Iraq. In early June, Deputy Defense
Secretary Douglas Feith, who coordinates intelligence gathering for
Rumsfeld, appeared before Congress to deny these intelligence analysts
This suggestion that we said to them, This is what were
looking for. Go find it, is precisely the inaccuracy we are here
to rebut. I know of nobody who pressured anybody, Feith said.
At the same time, Blair faced down a parliamentary inquiry, insisting
that US and British statements on Iraq were based on genuine concerns
and the best intelligence available. While the inquiry acquitted Blair
and his Cabinet of misleading Parliament, the British leader remains
under fire by angry members of his Labor Party now trying to prove the
war was illegal because it was based on allegations that
cannot be proven. Of particular damage have been accusations from Blairs
former foreign secretary, Robin Cook, who has characterized the Iraq
war as a Bush family vendetta.
This was a war made in Washington, pushed by a handful of neoconservatives
and pursued for reasons of US foreign strategy and domestic politics,
Cook wrote in the London daily The Independent on Friday. Cooks
broadside coincided with new statements from anonymous British Cabinet
members saying they now had very little expectation that any banned
weapons would ever be found in Iraq.
A former US intelligence official who served under the Bush administration
in the build-up to the Iraq war has publicly accused the White House
of lying about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
The whistleblower, Gregory Thielmann, served as a director in the state
departments bureau of intelligence until his retirement in September,
and had access to the classified reports which formed the basis for
the US case against Saddam, spelled out by Bush and his aides.
Thielmannn said, I believe the Bush administration did not provide
an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat posed
by Iraq. He added, Senior officials misused the information
they were provided.
At a July 10 press conference, Thielmann said that, as of March 2003,
when the US began military operations, Iraq posed no imminent
threat to either its neighbors or to the United States. He also
said there was no significant pattern of cooperation between Iraq and
al-Qaida. He added, This administration has had a faith-based
intelligence attitude ... We know the answers - give us the intelligence
to support those answers.
Another whistleblower is Joseph Wilson, a lifetime US diplomat who served
as the acting ambassador to Iraq in the lead-up to the Gulf War.
Last year the CIA financed Wilson to go to Niger to investigate reports
that the African nation sold uranium to Iraq. Wilson found no proof
such a sale occurred.
Wilson told the Washington Post, It really comes down to the administration
misrepresenting the facts on an issue that was a fundamental justification
for going to war. It begs the question, what else are they lying about.
It remains unclear why senior administration officials did not know
about former ambassador Joseph Wilsons conclusions that were given
to the CIA.
During the first days of the war, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
stared into television cameras and said that he knew exactly where Husseins
WMDs were. We know where they are, Rumsfeld said.
They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad.
Last week, however, in an attempt to spin the discussion away from concerns
about WMD, Rumsfeld told Congress that the decision to go to war was
far more complex than the WMD issue and really was not centered on whether
Iraq had new or ongoing WMD programs.
The coalition did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic
new evidence of Iraqs pursuit of weapons of mass murder,
Rumsfeld said. We acted because we saw the existing evidence in
a new light through the prism of our experience on Sept. 11. Rumsfelds
statement echoed an earlier assertion from his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz,
who said the WMD issue was chosen for convenience so the
administration could lay out a case against Iraq at the United Nations.
Excusing Bushs public lies, Gen. Richard Meyers, chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, clarified the definition of intelligence: Intelligence
doesnt necessarily mean something is true, he said.
The White House still faces broader questions about its prewar claims
about Iraq. Two other critical allegations also remain unproven: that
Baghdad had stocks of biological and chemical munitions and that it
had links to the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
If the American people conclude that American soldiers have died
because the administration has lied, it will be extremely serious,
according to Joseph Cirincione, an arms-control specialist at the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace.
American public opinion is clearly shifting on this issue.
He said he didnt see how the Republicans and the administration
could avert a major investigation.
Sources: BBC, CBS News, CNN, Democracy Now, The Guardian, Independent
(UK), IPS, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, Reuters, Toronto Star, The Washington