Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Castro Street Fair is Sunday, Oct. 3rd!



SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3, 3:00 p.m.
1380 Valencia Street
(Between 24th & 25th Streets, S.F.)



Come to the
AFSC - First Floor
(1/2 block from Market St., SF)

Help get the word out about Prop. 'N'. Bring your ideas for
community outreach, media, action, and more to make sure
we win by a landslide!

No matter who wins the elections this year, the war will not
be over. This ballot initiative will set the example for cities across
the country to do the same in future elections.

Pick up material to distribute!*


"It is the policy of the people of the City and County of
San Francisco that: The Federal government should take
immediate steps to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq and
bring our troops safely home now."


* Material costs money. Already thousands of brochures have
been printed and we need more! We need posters and buttons--
we need to cover the city with YES on 'N' campaign material!

Please send a contribution to help with these costs!
Make your check payable to:

Bring Our Troops Home Now

and mail to :

David Looman, Treasurer
325 Highland Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94110


1) Israel Kills 6 Palestinians in Gaza, W.Bank Raids
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
JABALYA, Gaza Strip (Reuters)
Wed Sep 29, 2004 09:36 AM ET

2) Iraq Rebel Cities to Be Retaken in October - Minister
BAGHDAD (Reuters)
Wed Sep 29, 2004 11:19 AM ET

3) Judge Rules Against Patriot Act Provision
NEW YORK (Reuters)
Wed Sep 29, 2004 12:07 PM ET

4) They're burned, or blinded, or sparring with death
The story of the military hospital where there's no escaping
the horrors of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan
September 27, 2004,0,7903420.story

5) Crude dudes
U.S. oil companies just happened to have billions
of dollars they wanted to invest in undeveloped oil reserves
Sep. 20, 2004. 09:56 AM

6) ... Unless It's All Greek to Him
By Barbara Garson
September 24, 2004

7) Former Soldiers Slow to Report
500 Ready Reservists Seek Exemptions From Reactivation,
Risk AWOL Status
By Tom Squitieri, USA TODAY
(Sept. 28)

8) Cinemayaat, the Arab Film Festival
8th Annual Event
October 2-10 & 24, 2004
San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley


1) Israel Kills 6 Palestinians in Gaza, W.Bank Raids
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
JABALYA, Gaza Strip (Reuters)
Wed Sep 29, 2004 09:36 AM ET

JABALYA, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - Israeli forces killed six Palestinians
including three teenagers on Wednesday as they thrust deep into
Gaza to quell rocket fire into Israel and raided two West Bank cities
in search of wanted militants.

Youths of 17 and 14 in a stone-throwing crowd that confronted
Israeli forces were shot dead in Gaza's Jabalya refugee camp.
Fifteen others, many of them students in school uniforms, were
taken to hospital with gunshot wounds, medics said.

Israeli troops backed by tanks also killed a 24-year-old gunman
in Jabalya, a stronghold of Islamist militants who have fired
hundreds of crude rockets into nearby Israel.

In a separate incident in central Gaza, Israeli troops shot
dead a boy of 13 and wounded four others in a crowd of
stone-throwers who approached the entrance to an isolated
Jewish settlement, according to medics.

Another Palestinian gunman was killed in an army raid into
the West Bank city of Nablus. In Jenin, a militant died when a
taxi he was in overturned while trying to elude pursuing
Israeli soldiers. A comrade was shot dead as he fled on foot.

Israeli troops also blew up the Jenin home of a high-profile
militant commander in the Fatah faction of Palestinian
President Yasser Arafat. The militant leader was
not there at the time.

Violence surged on the heels of the fourth anniversary of a
Palestinian revolt. Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie urged his people
and Israel on Tuesday to reconsider tactics that have locked
the two sides in a chronic cycle of bloodshed.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is bent on crushing
militant groups to prevent them claiming victory after a
planned evacuation of 8,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza and
a few from the 230,000 in the West Bank next year.

But Islamist militants vowed to keep fighting until Israelis
had evacuated "all of Palestine." They are dedicated
to destroying Israel as well as regaining the West Bank and
Gaza, occupied by the Jewish state in the 1967 Middle East war.


Israeli tanks and troops charged into north Gaza on Tuesday
night in another bid to stamp out elusive squads of Hamas
militants who launch makeshift Qassam rockets over Gaza's
fenced border into Israel almost daily.

"We begin the fifth year of the intifada (uprising) and we
will keep firing rockets and mortars, we will continue our
jihad until all of Palestine is returned," said Nizar Rayan, a
Jabalya Hamas leader brandishing an assault rifle and grenade

"We are operating (again) in north Gaza in order to try to
stop the launching of Qassam rockets that are terrorizing
nearby Israeli communities," an Israeli army spokeswoman

Israeli forces besieged Beit Hanoun, a town adjacent to
Jabalya, for a month in the summer in a hunt for rocket squads.

The incursion killed 20 Palestinians and left a trail of
destruction, but the rocket volleys soon started again. Israeli
forces spent four more days in north Gaza three weeks ago. But
again rocket salvoes resumed against the border town of Sderot.

The rockets have killed two people in four years but have
become psychologically important for militants now that Israel
has succeeded in limiting their suicide bombings inside Israel.

Critics of the raids into Gaza say Israel risks getting
sucked back into heavy fighting to stop the rockets just as it
is preparing to withdraw from the territory.

(c) Copyright Reuters 2004.


2) Iraq Rebel Cities to Be Retaken in October - Minister
BAGHDAD (Reuters)
Wed Sep 29, 2004 11:19 AM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. and Iraqi forces will retake
rebel-held cities in Iraq in October, Defense Minister Hazim
al-Shalaan told Reuters on Wednesday.

"You wait and see what we are going to do. We are going to
take all these cities in October," Shalaan said.

The western cities of Falluja and Ramadi, as well as some
parts of Baghdad and the town of Samarra, north of the capital,
are effectively controlled by insurgents.

The U.S. military has previously said it will retake these
areas by the end of the year so elections can go ahead as
scheduled in January.

U.S. commanders say they are waiting until Iraqi forces are
large enough and sufficiently trained for the offensive.

(c) Copyright Reuters 2004.


3) Judge Rules Against Patriot Act Provision
NEW YORK (Reuters)
Wed Sep 29, 2004 12:07 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Part of the Patriot Act, a central
plank of the Bush Administration's war on terror, was ruled
unconstitutional by a federal judge on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marreo ruled in favor of the
American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the power the
FBI has to demand confidential financial records from companies
as part of terrorism investigations.

The ruling was the latest blow to the Bush administration's
anti-terrorism policies.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that terror suspects
being held in places like Guantanamo Bay can use the American
judicial system to challenge their confinement. That ruling was
a defeat for the president's assertion of sweeping powers to
hold "enemy combatants" indefinitely after the Sept. 11, 2001,

The ACLU sued the Department of Justice, arguing that part
of the Patriot legislation violated the constitution because it
authorizes the FBI to force disclosure of sensitive information
without adequate safeguards.

The judge agreed, stating that the provision "effectively
bars or substantially deters any judicial challenge."

Under the provision, the FBI did not have to show a judge a
compelling need for the records and it did not have to specify
any process that would allow a recipient to fight the demand
for confidential information.

(c) Copyright Reuters 2004


4) They're burned, or blinded, or sparring with death
The story of the military hospital where there's no escaping
the horrors of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan
September 27, 2004,0,7903420.story

LANDSTUHL, Germany -- The medical team that accompanied
the soldier on the Thursday morning flight from Iraq had worked
the whole way to keep him alive, his body burned and lacerated
by the fire and metal of a roadside bomb.

They were low on oxygen by the time the green military ambulance
reached the front door of the hospital.

"Get me more O2," shouted out a visibly upset nurse, Maj. Pat
Bradshaw. She had been up and working for 28 hours, ferrying
the wounded out of Iraq.

"She's stressed," said Capt. George Sakakini, a physician in
charge of the team that greets the wounded. He watched from
the curbside through the early-morning drizzle, keeping an eye
on his highly trained squad of doctors, nurses and chaplains.
"Someone's trying to die on her."

Full green oxygen tank in place, its contents filtering into the
unconscious man's lungs, the team lowered the soldier on his
stretcher to the ground. His scorched face was a painter's
palette of the colors of pain: yellow, mauve, bright red.

In the intensive care unit, nurses quickly worked to make sure
his wounds were as clean as possible. An infection could kill
him. A couple of rooms over, more nurses worked on another
young soldier, also unconscious, burned and sparring with
death. Another roadside bomb victim. Dabbing gently, they
spread thick white antimicrobial cream on the raw flesh of
his forearms. Twenty percent of his body was burned.

It was an average morning at Landstuhl Regional Medical
Center, which has become the American military's museum
of pain and maiming, doubt and anger. The planes from Iraq
land every day, sometimes two or three of them.

Like his staff, who brim with frustration at what they see as
the irresponsible disinclination of the American people to
understand the costs of the war to thousands of American
soldiers, the hospital's chief surgeon feels that most Americans
have their minds on other things.

"It is my impression that they're not thinking about it a whole
lot at all," said Lt. Col. Ronald Place. As he spoke, the man who
has probably seen more of America's war wounded than anyone
since the Vietnam War sobbed as he sat at a table in his office.

First stop for injured

Nowhere is it less possible to escape the horrors of the war in
Iraq for American soldiers than Landstuhl. Nestled among the
tall trees of a forest on the outskirts of this small town in
southwestern Germany, the largest American military hospital
outside the United States is the first stop for nearly all injured
American personnel when they are flown out of Iraq or Afghanistan.
Dedicated and compassionate doctors, nurses and support staff
push aside curtains of fatigue and what the hospital's psychologists
call "vicarious trauma" to patch up and tend to soldiers before they
fly to the United States for longer-term care.

This month, politicians focused on the unwelcome tally of the
1,000th American soldier to die in Iraq. Landstuhl has its own
set of figures, numbers that flesh out the suffering occurring
on the battlefields of Iraq and in homes across the United States.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 18,000 military personnel
have passed through the hospital from what staff refer to as
"down range": Iraq and Afghanistan. Of those, nearly 16,000
have come from Iraq.

Last month, 23 percent of those were casualties from combat,
slightly higher than most months; the rest had either accidental
or disease-related complaints.

Thirteen have died at the hospital.

Each day, an average of 30 to 35 patients arrive on flights
from Iraq. The most on a single day was 168.

More than 200 personnel have come in with either lost eyes
or eye injuries that could result in sight loss or blindness.

About 160 soldiers have had limbs amputated, most of them
passing through the hospital on their way home to more surgery.

And it's not just their bodies that come in needing fixing. More
than 1,400 physically fit personnel have been admitted with
mental health problems.

Then there are the Pentagon's figures that touch on all casualties
from the war in Iraq: 1,042 dead; 7,413 injured in action,
including 4,026 whose injuries have prevented them from
returning to duty. In Afghanistan, there have been 366 injuries
and 138 deaths.

One other number tells a slightly different tale, a story of
selflessness in the face of suffering: one third. That's about
how much money surgeons at Landstuhl make compared to
what they could make if they chose to work in the civilian world.

"There is nothing more rewarding than to take care of these
guys," said Place, the skin around his eyes reddening with the
tears that he failed to hold inside. "Not money, not anything."

Every day starts in the same way at Landstuhl. The staff get up
early to greet the buses and ambulances that come from nearby
Ramstein air base, where the planes from Iraq touch down as
early as 6 a.m. Most soldiers can walk off the buses, with broken
bones or noncombat illnesses. But those who come in ambulances,
like the two blast-injured soldiers, go straight to the ICU.

On Thursday morning, the 20-bed ICU was a busy, but not rushed,
place. As so often these days, the staff there were dealing with the
effects of roadside bombs rather than bullets. That means taking
care of scorched, lacerated bodies that may have less obvious
internal injuries.

Col. Earl Hecker sat outside the room where nurses were applying
the white antimicrobial cream to one of the burned soldiers.
Twenty-seven-years-old, Hecker remarked, looking at the patient's
notes. (Hospital officials were not able to get these patients' consent
to be named or photographed because of their medical conditions.)

Hecker, at 70, is a few generations older than his patient. A surgeon
who had retired from the Reserves but recently rejoined, he has
forsaken his private practice in Detroit for now to help at Landstuhl,
working past his assigned 90-day tour to stay nearly 150 days.

This experience "has changed my whole life," he said, his jovial
demeanor fading to introspection. "I'm never going to be the same."

The day before, Hecker had been taking care of an 18-year-old
soldier who, thanks to an Iraqi bullet, will forever be quadriplegic.

Hecker sat gazing through the window at the burned soldier and
thought of the kid he had sent off to the States the day before.
"Terrible, terrible, terrible," he said, staring into the distance.
"When you talk to him he cries."

A month ago, Hecker took four days off to fly home to see his
family. He needed a break. They went out for dinner at a nice
restaurant. Hecker realized during dinner that he was suddenly
seeing the world differently. He looked around at the chattering
people, eating their fine food, drinking good wine and he thought
to himself: "They have no idea what's going on here. Absolutely none."

He doesn't think people want to see it. He thinks the nation is still
scarred by Vietnam and would prefer not to see the thousands of
injured young men coming home from Iraq.

"I just want people to understand - war is bad, life is difficult,"
he said.

Maybe it was the stress, maybe it's because Hecker has no military
career to mess up by speaking out of line, but it just came out:
"George Bush is an idiot," he said, quickly saying he regretted the
comment. But then he continued, criticizing Bush as a rich kid who
hasn't seen enough of the world. "He's very rich, you'd think he'd
get some education," Hecker said.

"He's my president. I'll follow him in what he wants to do," he
continued, "but I'm here for him." Hecker leaned forward and
pointed through the glass at the unconscious soldier fighting for
his life 2 yards away.

'It's just not right'

Not all of the staff can get away with criticizing their
commander-in-chief or his decisions, but many use more
opaque ways of communicating their unease.

"It's not right," said Maj. Cathy Martin, 40, head nurse of the
ICU, when asked how she felt seeing so many soldiers pass
through her unit. She paused. "It's just not right."

She declined to elaborate on what exactly she meant.
Comments such as Hecker's about the president can lead
to severe consequences for those with careers ahead of them.
But Martin did add: "People need to vote for the right people
to be in office and they need to be empowered to influence

What she did feel comfortable saying, echoing the head
surgeon, Hecker and others, was that people back home
just don't get it.

"Everyone's looking but no one's seeing," added Staff Sgt.
Royce Pittman, 32, who works with her. "I had no idea this
was going on. ... What we see every day is not normal.
There's nothing normal about this."

In private, some hospital workers said they wished they
could openly air their feelings about the war. And if reporters
could somehow quote people's facial expressions, a
number of those staff members would probably be facing
disciplinary hearings. Only one staff member interviewed
expressed solid support for the war.

"I do believe, I truly do believe that those that are fighting
and defending for liberty and freedom ... that that is a truly
worthy cause," said Maj. Kendra Whyatt, head nurse of
inpatient orthopedics.

Is it all worth it? the head surgeon was asked. "That's not
for me to say, but I'll be here for them," Place said.

The staff do talk among themselves, said Maj. Stephen Franco,
chief of the clinical health psychology service at the hospital.
He recalled one doctor's comments after attending a memorial
service for a young soldier who had died. "I wish some of the
lawmakers could attend some of these more often so they can
think a little more about their decisions," Franco recalled the
doctor telling him.

But like all the staff in the hospital, politics comes second to
healing with Franco. He has a lot of it to do.

"It's probably the biggest challenge to mental health since
Vietnam," said his boss, Col. Gary Southwell, chief of
psychology services.

Soldiers come in carrying guilt about leaving their unit behind,
haunting visions of seeing friends dying, nightmares, frayed
nerves and deep anxieties about their future, Franco said. Place
noted that for a single man facial disfigurement, for example,
can be particularly traumatizing. Who's going to want someone
with a face like this? the young men wonder.

Care taken not to sugarcoat

Franco and his colleagues - the number of psychologists
and psychiatrists has doubled since the Iraq war began,
reflecting large staff increases throughout the hospital -
make a point of visiting all new patients to see how they're doing.

"We provide assurance, look to the future," he said. "We're careful
not to sugarcoat anything."

Franco doesn't attempt quick miracle fixes for traumatized soldiers,
most of whom are flown to the United States after a few days. "When
your world is rocked like that it's not a smooth process necessarily
to get that to make sense," he said.

On Sept. 18, Army Sgt. 1st Class Larry Daniels' world was rocked.
So was his wife's.

With other men from his platoon, Daniels was standing on a bridge
over a highway near Baghdad International Airport while an Iraqi
contractor fixed a fence by the side of the road. Daniels, 37, was
waving Iraqi vehicles past the three American Humvees while the
contractor worked as quickly as possible to fix the wire fence.

An orange and white Chevy Caprice, a type of car usually driven
as a taxi in Baghdad, veered toward the soldiers. It exploded;
a suicide car bomb.

"I felt my body went up in the air," said Daniels, in his Texas
drawl. "I was upside down looking back at where the car had
been and landed on the ground. Three seconds later it hit me
what happened."

Lying on the pavement, Big Daddy Daniels, as his men call him,
had the presence of mind to keep ordering his soldiers around,
even though he couldn't move. Another unit arrived soon and
ferried the survivors to safety. Two were dead.

Two days later, Daniels was flown to Landstuhl. Both of his arms
have multiple fractures. Steel pins and thick casts keep his bones
in place. Part of his hand is missing. And as he puts it, he's got
"holes from my ankle to my ear." The doctors have taken some of
the shrapnel out. Some fragments are still there.

Wife's opinion has changed

Daniels is an experienced, professional soldier. He's been in the
Army for 17 years. His dad was a draftee in the Vietnam War. He
can trace his family's military history back to the Civil War. So
perhaps it's not surprising that he says he wishes he were still
in Iraq with his men.

His wife, Cheryl, has had enough. While the staff at Landstuhl
move the injured on, usually after five days, the families of the
wounded have to face up to the long-term consequences of the
violence in Iraq. Many are embittered.

From a military family herself, the mother of two had been changing
her mind about a lot of things even before her husband became so
badly injured that he can't do even the most basic of tasks for himself.

She supported the war and voted for Bush. Now, she says, she
wants to pull the troops out of Iraq. "I will vote for Kerry. Not
because I prefer Kerry over Bush but because I don't want Bush
back in office."

Her 12-year-old son has been saying he wants to go to West
Point. Her 8-year-old daughter wants to be a military veterinarian.
She's stopped encouraging those ambitions.

Speaking alone, without her husband, she said she knew that the
Army wasn't going to like what she had to say. Like Hecker,
she hasn't got much to lose by speaking her mind, which she
did, calmly and thoughtfully.

"I don't feel we have any business being there," she said Friday.
"I think this is an area of the world that has been fighting for
thousands of years, and I don't think our presence will change
anything. If anything, we've given them a common target to
focus on. Rather than fight each other, they're fighting us.
I don't see why my husband has to lose two soldiers or
question why he's here or see his other guys that are hurt.
The minute we pull out, things will go back to the culture
that is established."

Cheryl Daniels is looking at a tough future. She has to parent
her kids, hold down a job at Fort Hood Army base in Texas,
where the family lives, and finish the management degree she
is studying for at night. Soon her disabled husband will be home,
and she finds it hard to believe, as the doctors have told her, that
"in a year or two he's going to be back to normal. I can't see that
right now because he's got nerve damage in his arms."

She doesn't feel that her country, her military, is giving her
enough support. She had to pay her own way to Germany
and her own way back. The Army was doing almost nothing
for her, she said.

"I feel like we've paid our dues," she said. "And I'm done."

Copyright (c) 2004, Newsday, Inc.


5) Crude dudes
U.S. oil companies just happened to have billions
of dollars they wanted to invest in undeveloped oil reserves
Sep. 20, 2004. 09:56 AM

From his corner office in the heart of New York's financial district,
Fadel Gheit keeps close tabs on what goes on inside the boardrooms
of the big oil companies. An oil analyst at the prestigious Wall
Street firm Oppenheimer & Co., the fit, distinguished-looking
Gheit has been watching the oil industry closely for more than
25 years.

Selling the modern world's most indispensable commodity has
never been a bad business to be in - particularly for the small
group of companies that straddle the top of this privileged world.
But never more so than now.

"Profit-wise, things could not have been better," says Gheit,
"In the last three years, they died and went to heaven ....
They are all sitting on the largest piles of cash in their history."

But to stay rich they have to keep finding new reserves, and
that's getting tougher. Increasingly it means cutting through
permafrost or drilling deep underwater, at tremendous cost.
"The cheap oil has already been found and developed and
produced and consumed," says Gheit. "The low-hanging
fruit has already been picked."

Well, not all the low-hanging fruit has been picked.

Nestled into the heart of the area of heaviest oil concentration
in the world is Iraq, overflowing with low-hanging fruit. No
permafrost, no deep water. Just giant pools of oil, right beneath
the warm ground. This is fruit sagging so low, as it were, that it
practically touches the ground under the weight of its ripeness.

Not only does Iraq have vast quantities of easily accessible oil,
but its oil is almost untouched. "Think of Iraq as virgin territory
.... This is bigger than anything Exxon is involved in currently
.... It is the superstar of the future," says Gheit, "That's why
Iraq becomes the most sought-after real estate on the face
of the earth."

Gheit just smiles at the notion that oil wasn't a factor in the
U.S. invasion of Iraq. He compares Iraq to Russia, which also
has large undeveloped oil reserves. But Russia has nuclear
weapons. "We can't just go over and ... occupy (Russian) oil
fields," says Gheit. "It's a different ballgame." Iraq, however,
was defenceless, utterly lacking, ironically, in weapons of mass
destruction. And its location, nestled in between Saudi Arabia
and Iran, made it an ideal place for an ongoing military presence,
from which the U.S. would be able to control the entire Gulf
region. Gheit smiles again: "Think of Iraq as a military base
with a very large oil reserve underneath .... You can't ask for
better than that."

There's something almost obscene about a map that was
studied by senior Bush administration officials and a select
group of oil company executives meeting in secret in the
spring of 2001. It doesn't show the kind of detail normally
shown on maps - cities, towns, regions. Rather its detail is
all about Iraq's oil.

The southwest is neatly divided, for instance, into nine
"Exploration Blocks." Stripped of political trappings, this
map shows a naked Iraq, with only its ample natural assets
in view. It's like a supermarket meat chart, which identifies
the various parts of a slab of beef so customers can see the
most desirable cuts .... Block 1 might be the striploin,
Block 2 and Block 3 are perhaps some juicy tenderloin,
but Block 8 - ahh, that could be the filet mignon.

The map might seem crass, but it was never meant for
public consumption. It was one of the documents studied
by the ultra-secretive task force on energy, headed by
U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney, and it was only released
under court order after a long legal battle waged by the
public interest group Judicial Watch.

Another interesting task force document, also released
under court order over the opposition of the Bush administration,
was a two-page chart titled "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfields."
It identifies 63 oil companies from 30 countries and specifies
which Iraqi oil fields each company is interested in and the
status of the company's negotiations with Saddam Hussein's
regime. Among the companies are Royal Dutch/Shell of the
Netherlands, Russia's Lukoil and France's Total Elf Aquitaine,
which was identified as being interested in the fabulous,
25-billion-barrrel Majnoon oil field. Baghdad had "agreed in
principle" to the French company's plans to develop this
succulent slab of Iraq. There goes the filet mignon into the
mouths of the French!

The documents have attracted surprisingly little attention,
despite their possible relevance to the question of Washington's
motives for its invasion of Iraq - in many ways the defining event
of the post-9/11 world but one whose purpose remains
shrouded in mystery. Even after the supposed motives for
the invasion - weapons of mass destruction and links to
Al Qaeda - have been thoroughly discredited, talk of oil
as a motive is still greeted with derision. Certainly any
suggestion that private oil interests were in any way
involved is hooted down with charges of conspiracy theory.

Yet the documents suggest that those who took part in the
Cheney task force - including senior oil company executives
- were very interested in Iraq's oil and specifically in the
danger of it falling into the hands of eager foreign oil
companies, rather than into the rightful hands of eager
U.S. oil companies.

As the documents show, prior to the U.S. invasion, foreign
oil companies were nicely positioned for future involvement
in Iraq, while the major U.S. oil companies, after years of
U.S.-Iraqi hostilities, were largely out of the picture. Indeed,
the U.S. majors would have been the big losers if U.N.
sanctions against Iraq had simply been lifted. "The U.S.
majors stand to lose if Saddam makes a deal with the U.N.
(on lifting sanctions)," noted a report by Germany's Deutsche
Bank in October 2002.

The disadvantaged position of U.S. oil companies in Saddam
Hussein's Iraq would have presumably been on the minds of
senior oil company executives when they met secretly with
Cheney and his task force in early 2001. The administration
refuses to divulge exactly who met with the task force, and
continues to fight legal challenges to force disclosure.
However a 2003 report by the General Accounting Office,
the investigative arm of Congress, concluded that the task
force relied on advice from the oil industry, whose close
ties to the Bush administration are legendary.
(George W. Bush received more money from the oil
and gas industry in 1999 and 2000 than any other U.S.
federal candidate received over the previous decade .)

The Cheney task force has been widely criticized for
recommending bigger subsidies for the energy industry,
but there's been little focus on its possible role as a venue
for consultations between Big Oil and the administration about
Iraq. One intriguing piece of evidence pointing in this direction
was a National Security Council directive, dated February
2001, instructing NSC staff to co-operate fully with the task
force. The NSC document, reported in The New Yorker
magazine, noted that the task force would be considering
the "melding" of two policy areas: "the review of operational
policies towards rogue states" and "actions regarding the
capture of new and existing oil and gas fields." This certainly
implies that the Cheney task force was considering geopolitical
questions about actions related to the capture of oil and gas
reserves in "rogue" states, including presumably Iraq.

It seems likely then that Big Oil, through the Cheney task force,
was involved in discussions with the administration about
getting control of oil in Iraq. Since Big Oil has sought to
distance itself from the administration's decision to invade
Iraq, this apparent involvement helps explain the otherwise
baffling level of secrecy surrounding the task force.

It's interesting to note that the Cheney task force deliberations
took place in the first few months after the Bush administration
came to office - the same time period during which the new
administration was secretly formulating plans for toppling
Saddam. Those early plans were not publicly disclosed, but
we know about them now due to the publication of several
insider accounts, including that of former Treasury secretary
Paul O'Neill. So, months before the attacks of 9/11, the Bush
White House was already considering toppling Saddam, and
at the same time it was also keenly studying Iraq's oil fields
and assessing how far along foreign companies were in their
negotiations with Saddam for a piece of Iraq's oil.

It's also noteworthy that one person - Dick Cheney - was
pivotal both in advancing the administration's plans for
regime change in Iraq and in formulating U.S. energy policy.

As CEO of oil services giant Halliburton Company, Cheney
had been alert to the problem of securing new sources of oil.
Speaking to the London Petroleum Institute in 1999, while still
heading Halliburton, Cheney had focused on the difficulty of
finding the 50 million extra barrels of oil per day that he said
the world would need by 2010. "Where is it going to come
from?" he asked, and then noted that "the Middle East with
two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still
where the prize ultimately lies."

Cheney's focus on the Middle East and its oil continued
after he became Bush's powerful vice-president. Within
weeks of the new administration taking office, Cheney
was pushing forward plans for regime change in Iraq and
also devising a new energy policy which included getting
control of oil reserves in rogue states. His central role in
these two apparently urgent initiatives is certainly suggestive
of a possible connection between the U.S. invasion of Iraq
and a desire for the country's ample oil reserves - the very
thing that is vehemently denied.

One reason that regime change in Iraq was seen as offering
significant benefits for Big Oil was that it promised to open
up a treasure chest which had long been sealed - private
ownership of Middle Eastern oil. A small group of major
international oil companies once privately owned the oil
industries of the Middle East. But that changed in the 1970s
when most Middle Eastern countries (and some elsewhere)
nationalized their oil industries. Today, state-owned
companies control the vast majority of the world's oil
resources. The major international oil companies control
a mere 4 per cent.

The majors have clearly prospered in the new era, as
developers rather than owners, but there's little doubt that
they'd prefer to regain ownership of the oil world's Garden
of Eden. "(O)ne of the goals of the oil companies and the
Western powers is to weaken and/or privatize the world's
state oil companies," observes New York-based economist
Michael Tanzer, who advises Third World governments on
energy issues.

The possibility of Iraq's oil being reopened to private ownership
- with the promise of astonishing profits - attracted considerable
interest in the run-up to the U.S. invasion. In February 2003, as
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell held the world's attention with
his dramatic efforts to make the case that Saddam posed an
imminent threat to international peace, other parts of the
U.S. government were secretly developing plans to privatize
Iraq's oil (among other assets). A confidential 100-page
contracting document, drawn up by the U.S. Agency for
International Development and the U.S. Treasury Department,
laid out a wide-ranging plan for a "Mass Privatization Program
... especially in the oil and supporting industries."

The Pentagon was also working on plans to open up Iraq's oil
sector. In the fall of 2002, months before the invasion, the
Pentagon retained Philip Carroll, a former CEO of Shell Oil
Co. in Texas, to draft a strategy for developing Iraqi oil.
Carroll's plans apparently became the basis of a proposed
scheme, which became public shortly after the war, to
redesign Iraq's oil industry along the lines of a U.S. corporation,
with a chairman, chief executive and a 15-member board of
international advisers. Carroll was chosen by Washington to
serve as chairman, but the plans were shelved after they
encountered stiff opposition inside Iraq.

Still, the prospect of privatizing Iraq's oil remained of great
interest to U.S. oil companies, according to Robert Ebel, from
the influential Washington-based Center for Strategic and
International Studies (CSIS). Ebel, former vice-president of
a Dallas-based oil exploration company, retains close ties
to the industry. In an interview in his Washington office, Ebel
said it was up to Iraq to make its own decisions, but he made
clear that U.S. oil companies would prefer Iraq abandon its
nationalization. "We'd rather not work with national oil
companies," Ebel said bluntly, noting that the major oil
companies are prepared to invest the $35 to $40 billion
to develop Iraq's reserves in the coming years. "We're looking
for places to invest around the world. You know, along comes
Iraq, and I think a lot of oil companies would be disappointed
if Iraq were to say `we're going to do it ourselves' "

Along comes Iraq ?

How fortuitous. U.S. oil companies just happened to have
billions of dollars that they wanted to invest in undeveloped
oil reserves when Iraq presented itself, ready for invasion.

Along comes Iraq, indeed.

In the past 14 decades, we've used up roughly half of all the
oil that the planet has to offer. No, we're not about to run out
of oil. But long before the oil runs out, it reaches its production
peak . After that, extracting the remaining oil becomes
considerably more difficult and expensive.

This notion that oil production has a "peak" was first conceived
in 1956 by geophysicist M. King Hubbert. He predicted that
U.S. oil production would peak about 1970 - a notion that was
scoffed at at the time. As it turned out, Hubbert was dead on;
U.S. oil production peaked in 1970, and has been declining
ever since. Hubbert's once-radical notion is now generally

For the world as a whole, the peak is fast approaching. Colin
Campbell, one of the world's leading geologists, estimates the
world's peak will come as soon as 2005 - next year. "There is
only so much crude oil in the world," Campbell said in a telephone
interview from his home in Ireland, "and the industry has found
about 90 per cent of it."

All this would be less serious if the world's appetite for oil were
declining in tandem. But even as the discovery of new oil fields
slows down, the world's consumption speeds up - a dilemma
Cheney highlighted in his speech to the London Petroleum
Institute in 1999. For every new barrel of oil we find, we are
consuming four already-discovered barrels, according to
Campbell. The arithmetic is not on our side.

Particularly worrisome is the arithmetic as it applies to the
U.S. With its oil production already long past peak, and yet
its oil consumption rising, the U.S. will inevitably become
more reliant on foreign oil. This is significant not just for
Americans, but for the world, since the U.S. has long
characterized its access to energy as a matter of "national
security." With its unrivalled military power, the U.S. will
insist on meeting its own voracious energy needs - and it
will be up to the rest of the world to co-operate with this
quest. Period.

Canada plays a greater role in this "keep-the-U.S.-energy
-beast-fed" scenario than many Canadians may realize.
A three-volume report prepared by a bipartisan Congressional
team and CSIS, the Washington think tank, highlights how
important Canada is in the U.S. energy picture of the future.
The report, The Geopolitics of Energy into the 21st Century ,
notes that Canada is "the single largest provider of energy
to the United States," and that "Canada is poised to expand
sharply its exports of oil to the United States in the coming

Fine - as long as Canada doesn't want to change its mind
about this. Well, in fact, Canada can't change its mind
about this - a point celebrated in the report. When Canada
signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
in 1993, we gave up our right to cut back the amount of oil
we export to the U.S. (unless we cut our own consumption
the same amount). Interestingly, Mexico, also a party to
NAFTA, refused to agree to this section, and was granted
an exemption.

The U.S. report points out that that, under NAFTA, Canada
is not allowed to reduce its exports of oil (or other energy)
to the U.S. in order to redirect them to Canadian consumers.
Redirecting Canadian oil to Canadians isn't permitted -
regardless of how great the Canadian need may be . Some
outside observers, like Colin Campbell over in Ireland, find
the situation striking. "You poor Canadians are going to be
left freezing in the dark while they're running hair dryers in
the U.S.," says Campbell. It's a situation that comforts the
U.S. senators, congressmen and think-tank analysts who
wrote the report. With obvious satisfaction, they conclude:
"There can be no more secure supplier to the United States
than Canada."

Alas, for the U.S., not every part of the world is as pliant as
Canada. Most of the world's oil is in the Middle East. And
while different oil regions will reach their production peaks
at different times, the Middle East will peak last, underlying
Cheney's point that the region is where "the prize ultimately
lies." Whoever controls the big oil reserves of the Middle
East will then be positioned to, pretty much, control the world.

But we're supposed to believe that, as the Bush administration
assessed its options just before invading Iraq in the spring of
2003, the advantages of securing vast, untapped oil fields
- in order to guarantee U.S. energy security in a world of
dwindling reserves and to enable U.S. oil companies to reap
untold riches - were far from mind. What really mattered to
those in the White House, we're told, was liberating the people
of Iraq.

Adapted from It's The Crude, Dude: War Big Oil, And The Fight
For The Planet , by Linda McQuaig, 2004. Published by
Doubleday Canada. Reproduced by arrangement with the
Publisher. All rights reserved. Toronto-based political
commentator Linda McQuaig is a past winner of a National
Newspaper Award and an Atkinson Fellowship for journalism
in public policy. Her column appears Sundays on the Star's
op-ed page.

Additional articles by Linda McQuaig

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6) ... Unless It's All Greek to Him
By Barbara Garson
September 24, 2004

During a lull in the war between Athens and Sparta, the Athenians decided
to invade and occupy Sicily. Thucydides tells us in "The Peloponnesian
War" that "they were, for the most part, ignorant of the size of the
island and the numbers of its inhabitants . and they did not realize that
they were taking on a war of almost the same magnitude as their war
against the Peloponnesians."

According to Thucydides, the digression into Sicily in 416 BC - a sideshow
that involved lying exiles, hopeful contractors, politicized intelligence,
a doctrine of preemption - ultimately cost Athens everything, including
its democracy.

Nicias, the most experienced Athenian general, had not wanted to be chosen
for the command. "His view was that the city was making a mistake and, on
a slight pretext which looked reasonable, was in fact aiming at conquering
the whole of Sicily - a considerable undertaking indeed," wrote

Nicias warned that it was the wrong war against the wrong enemy and that
the Athenians were ignoring their real enemies - the Spartans - while
creating new enemies elsewhere. "It is senseless to go against people who,
even if conquered, could not be controlled," he argued.

Occupying Sicily would require many soldiers, Nicias insisted, because it
meant establishing a new government among enemies. "Those who do this
[must] either become masters of the country on the very first day they
land in it, or be prepared to recognize that, if they fail to do so, they
will find hostility on every side."

The case for war, meanwhile, was made by the young general Alcibiades, who
was hoping for a quick victory in Sicily so he could move on to conquer
Carthage. Alcibiades, who'd led a dissolute youth (and who happened to own
a horse ranch, raising Olympic racers) was a battle-tested soldier, a
brilliant diplomat and a good speaker. (So much for superficial

Alcibiades intended to rely on dazzling technology - the Athenian armada -
instead of traditional foot soldiers. He told the Assembly he wasn't
worried about Sicilian resistance because the island's cities were filled
with people of so many different groups. "Such a crowd as this is scarcely
likely either to pay attention to one consistent policy or to join
together in concerted action.. The chances are that they will make
separate agreements with us as soon as we come forward with attractive

Another argument for the war was that it would pay for itself. A committee
of Sicilian exiles and Athenian experts told the Assembly that there was
enough wealth in Sicily to pay the costs of the war and occupation. "The
report was encouraging but untrue," wrote Thucydides.

Though war was constant in ancient Greece, it was still usually justified
by a threat, an insult or an incident. But the excursion against Sicily
was different, and Alcibiades announced a new, or at least normally
unstated, doctrine.

"One does not only defend oneself against a superior power when one is
attacked: One takes measures in advance to prevent the attack
materializing," he said.

When and where should this preemption doctrine be applied? Alcibiades gave
an answer of a sort. "It is not possible for us to calculate, like
housekeepers [perhaps a better translation would be "girlie men"], exactly
how much empire we want to have. The fact is that we have reached a state
where we are forced to plan new conquests and forced to hold on to what we
have got because there is danger that we ourselves may fall under the
power of others unless others are in our power."

Alcibiades' argument carried the day, but before the invasion, the
Athenian fleet sailed around seeking allies among the Hellenic colonies
near Sicily. Despite the expedition's "great preponderance of strength
over those against whom it set out," only a couple of cities joined the

At home, few spoke out against the Sicilian operation. "There was a
passion for the enterprise which affected everyone alike," Thucydides
reports. "The result of this excessive enthusiasm of the majority was that
the few who actually were opposed to the expedition were afraid of being
thought unpatriotic if they voted against it, and therefore kept quiet."

In the face of aggressive posturing, Nicias appealed to the Assembly
members to show true courage.

"If any of you is sitting next to one of [Alcibiades'] supporters," Nicias
said, "do not allow yourself to be browbeaten or to be frightened of being
called a coward if you do not vote for war.. Our country is on the verge
of the greatest danger she has ever known. Think of her, hold up your
hands against this proposal and vote in favor of leaving the Sicilians

We don't know how many Athenians had secret reservations, but few hands
went up against the war.

In the end, the Athenians lost everything in Sicily. Their army was
defeated and their navy destroyed. Alcibiades was recalled early on;
Nicias was formally executed while thousands of Athenian prisoners were
left in an open pit, where most died.

The Sicilians didn't follow up by invading Attica; they just wanted Athens
out. But with the leader of the democracies crippled, allies left the
Athenian League. Then the real enemy, Sparta, ever patient and cautious,
closed in over the next few years. But not before Athens descended, on its
own, into a morass of oligarchic coups and self-imposed tyranny.


7) Former Soldiers Slow to Report
500 Ready Reservists Seek Exemptions From Reactivation,
Risk AWOL Status
By Tom Squitieri, USA TODAY
(Sept. 28)

(Sept. 28) - Fewer than two-thirds of the former soldiers being reactivated
for duty in Iraq and elsewhere have reported on time, prompting the Army to
threaten some with punishment for desertion.

The former soldiers, part of what is known as the Individual Ready Reserve
(IRR), are being recalled to fill shortages in skills needed for the
conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Of the 1,662 ready reservists ordered to report to Fort Jackson, S.C., by
Sept. 22, only 1,038 had done so, the Army said Monday. About 500 of those
who failed to report have requested exemptions on health or personal

"The numbers did not look good," said Lt. Col. Burton Masters, a spokesman
for the Army's Human Resources Command. "We are tightening the system,
reaching the people and bringing them in."

Masters said most of the requests for exemptions are likely to be denied:
"To get an exemption, it has to be a very compelling case, such as a severe
medical condition."
The figures are the first on the IRR call-up. They reflect the challenges
the Pentagon faces in trying to find enough troops for ongoing operations
and show resistance among some servicemembers who returned to civilian life.

The ready reserve is an infrequently used pool of former soldiers who can be
called to duty in a national emergency or war. On June 29, the Army
announced it would call 5,674 members of its IRR back to active duty this
year and next.

Several of those who received recall notices have already been declared AWOL
(absent without official leave) and technically are considered deserters.
"We are not in a rush to put someone in the AWOL category," Masters said.
"We contact them and convince them it is in their best interests to show up.
If you are a deserter, it can affect you the rest of your life."

· Army May Reduce Length of Tours

· Rumors of Draft Are Hard to Kill

· AOL Military Center

· AOL Search: Recruitment

Fourteen people were listed as AWOL last week; six subsequently told the
Army they would report. Punishment for being AWOL is up to the unit
commander and can include prison time and dishonorable discharge, said Col.
Joseph Curtin, an Army spokesman.

With a force that generals say is stretched thin, the Army is considering
$1,000-a-month bonuses to ex-soldiers who volunteer to return for overseas

Ready reservists are soldiers who were honorably discharged after finishing
their active-duty tours, usually four to six years, but remain part of the
IRR for the rest of their original eight-year commitment. The IRR call-up is
the first major one in 13 years, since 20,277 troops were ordered back for
the Persian Gulf War.

09/28/2004 07:04


8) Cinemayaat, the Arab Film Festival
8th Annual Event
October 2-10 & 24, 2004
San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley

********TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW********

The 8th Annual Cinemayaat, the Arab Film Festival, an internationally
recognized festival dedicated to providing the San Francisco Bay Area
community with a unique opportunity to screen films from and about
the Arab World - a world often misunderstood and misrepresented runs
from October 2-10 & 24th, 2004 in San Francisco, San Jose and

In contrast to mass media's frequently negative portrayal of Arab
culture, the Arab Film Festival showcases in depth perspectives and
stories about and by Arabs and Arab Americans in an ever more complex
world. We aim to bridge a gap through artistic expression and share
the experience of history, humanity, love, and life in a time where
the distance between American and Arab cultures ever expands.

Please join us as we strive to bring the Bay Area community a program
that is both stunning in artistic merit and educational - a program
that brings you a magnificent perspective of the richness of the Arab
World. We work very hard to keep these channels of communication open
so that all may share in Art, its beauty, humanity and personal

Please visit the Arab Film Festival website for film schedule and


Middle East Children's Alliance

901 Parker Street
Berkeley, California 94710
United States


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