Next target for viruses: cell phones
> NEW YORK (AP) -- For malicious computer hackers and virus writers, the
> next frontier in mischief is the mobile phone.
> A phone virus or "Trojan horse" program might instruct your phone to do
> extraordinary things, computer security experts say.
> It might call the White House or the police with a bizarre hoax.
> It might forward your personal address book to a sleazy telemarketing
> Or it could simply eat into the phone's operating software, shutting it
> down and erasing your personal information.
> Similar nasty hijinks have already dogged cell phone owners in Japan and
> "If a malicious piece of code gets control of your phone, it can do
> everything you can do," said Ari Hypponen, chief technical officer of
> Helsinki-based F-Secure Corp., a computer security firm. "It can call toll
> numbers. It can get your messages and send them elsewhere. It can record
> your passwords."
> As cellular phones morph into computer-like "smartphones" able to surf the
> Web, send e-mail and download software, they're prone to the same
> tribulations that have waylaid computers over the past decade.
> "We should think of cell phones as just another set of computers on the
> Internet," said Stephen Trilling, director of research at antivirus
> software maker Symantec Corp. "If they're connected to the Internet they
> can be used to transmit threats and attack targets, just as any computer
> can. It's technically possible right now."
> In Japan, deviant e-mail messages sent to cell phones contained an
> Internet link that, when clicked, caused phones to repeatedly dial the
> national emergency number -- equivalent to 911. The wireless carrier
> halted all emergency calls until the bug was removed.
> In Europe, handsets' short message service, or SMS, has been used to
> randomly send pieces of binary code that crashes phones, forcing the user
> to detach the battery and reboot. A new, more sinister version keeps
> crashing the phone until the SMS message is deleted from the carrier's
> In the United States, relatively primitive cell phone technology keeps
> users immune from such tricks, for now.
Back to Main News Page
San Francisco Examiner
March 8, 2002
Hell No, We Won't Go
By Conn Hallinan
Back in the '60s someone came up with a clever bumper sticker that
read: "What if they gave a war and no one came?" The Sharon government
may soon be trying to find an answer as a growing number of Israeli
Defense Force (IDF) reservists openly refuse to serve in the Occupied
A group of 52 soldiers published an open letter in the Israeli press Jan.
25, declaring that "the price of occupation is the loss of the IDF's human
character, and the corruption of the entire Israeli society," and henceforth
they would refuse "to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate,
expel, starve and humiliate an entire people." The number of signers has
grown to 314 at last count (for up to date figures and the letter see
www.seruv.org.il/defaulteng.asp), and while the government has downplayed the
revolt, polls indicate that close to 30% of Israelis support the refuseniks.
The signers range from privates to colonels, most from the broad middle strata of Israelis that voted for Sharon 11 months ago.
"Almost no one asks the main question," Sergeant Major Asaf Oran
of the Giv'ati Brigade told the Israeli press: "Why would a regular guy get
up one morning in the middle of life, work, the kids and decide he's not
playing the game anymore? And how come he is not alone, but there are
50 - I beg your pardon, 100, beg your pardon again, now almost 200
regular, run of the mill guys" doing this? His answer is simple: "We are
putting our bodies on the line, in an attempt to prevent the "most
unnecessary, most idiotic, cruel and immoral war in the history of Israel."
Sgt. Oran and his fellow IDF comrades are resisting the consequences
of Sharon's iron-fisted policies on both communities: over a 1000
Palestinian dead (248 of them children), and more than 300 dead Israelis,
with no light at the end of the tunnel.
The signers also reflect a growing unease about the occupation's
impact on the Israeli economy. According to a poll in the daily Ma'ariv,
79% of Israelis are unhappy with the Sharon government's economic
performance. As well they should be.
Israeli GDP fell 4.7% in the second half of 2001, the worst economic
performance in 50 years. Unemployment jumped from 9.6% to 10.2%,
higher in Arab-Israeli towns. While the Sharon government blames the
worldwide recession, an increasing number of Israelis draw different
conclusions. "Nobody dares touch on the real reason for the crisis: the lethal
conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority" the daily Haaretz
editorialized Feb. 20.
But the realities of occupation, not the troubled shekel, sparked the
January letter. Lt. Ishai Sagi told the London Independent that during his
stint in the West Bank, he was ordered to open fire on Palestinians who
picked up stones, regardless of whether they were "a child, a woman or an
elderly man." He went on to say, "Everything we do there---all the horrors,
all the tearing down of houses and trees, all the roadblocks, everything---is
just for one purpose, the settlers, who I believe are illegally there. So I
believe the [orders] that I got are illegal and I won't do them again."
The settlers Sagi refers to are the 200,000 Israelis living on land
seized in the 1967 war, settlers the Israeli government recruits through a
combination of religious fervor and economic bribery. Mortgage rates for
settlers on the West Bank are a quarter of those in Israel proper, plus settlers receive tax breaks, 10% on income, and 7% on Social Security. Since the 1993 Oslo Peace Agreement the settler population in the Occupied
Territories has doubled and the land crisscrossed by a web of "security
roads" that divide Palestinian communities into a tapestry of bantustans.
The settlers make up only 5% of Israel's population, but as Yossi
Sarid of the Meretz Party notes, "They have us all in thrall."
Supporting the reservists are traditional peace groups such as Gush
Shalom, Women in Black, and Peace Now, as well as newer organizations
like Green Line: Students for a Border. They are also backed by Gush Gvul
(There is a Limit), the organization that successfully pressed for Israeli
withdrawal from Lebanon.
The reservists are beginning to identify more with the population they
oppress than the generals and politicians that send them into towns like
Ramalla and Hebron or to man the forest of roadblocks that lock Palestinians
into what is rapidly becoming a national prison. "Soldier" asks the letter. "Is
there a people anywhere in the world that will not resist an occupation
regime? If you were in the Palestinians' shoes, would you be willing to bow
your head to a foreign ruler?"
The late Hebrew University Professor and intellectual Yershayahu
Leibowitz, a dedicated Zionist but a critic of the occupation, once predicted
that if as many as 500 soldiers openly refused to serve in the territories, the
occupation could not hold. That formula may well be tested in the coming
Back to Main News Page
Women's Organization Calls for a Halt to Israeli
Assault on Palestinian Refugees
MADRE <madre@i...> Please post widely.
New York, March 8, 2002 - International Women's Day
marks a full week of Israel's military assault against
Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza.
Palestinian women and their families are being
terrorized by constant machine-gun, tank and
helicopter fire. Israeli soldiers have entered refugee
camps and held dozens of families hostage while
commandeering their homes to take up firing positions.
Shelling has caused extensive damage to homes, schools
and UN offices that provide services to refugees.
Families are huddled terrified in their houses, unable
to venture outside or even stand near a window for
fear of being shot. In all, over 100 Palestinians have
been killed and nearly 1,000 wounded this week alone.
Among the refugee camps under siege by Israeli forces
is Deheisheh Camp in Bethlehem, home to MADRE's
partner organization, the Ibdaa Children's Center.
Israel's attack is being carried out in violation of
the Fourth Geneva Convention. Many of the wounded have
been denied medical treatment by Israeli soldiers who
have opened fire on ambulances, medics and doctors, a
grave violation of the Convention's Art. 16 and 17.
Israel claims that its attacks are intended to
preemptively root out Palestinian militants from the
refugee camps. But the Convention stipulates that the
camps have a protected civilian status, even if
individual combatants are located within them
(Protocol I, Art. 50). Moreover, the majority of those
killed are not "militants," but unarmed women, men and
children confronting the full force of Israel's
arsenal (except its nuclear weapons). Israel also
claims that it is acting in retaliation for
Palestinian attacks against Israelis. This policy of
"collective punishment" of entire Palestinian
communities for attacks waged by individuals violates
Art. 33 of the Geneva Convention. Complicit in these
human rights violations is the United States, which
provides the weapons, funds and diplomatic backing for
Israeli Prime Minister Sharon has frankly explained
the intensified assault: "Only after [the
Palestinians] are beaten will we be able to conduct
talks. I want an agreement, but first they have to be
beaten so they get the thought out of their minds that
they can impose an agreement on Israel that Israel
does not want… We have to cause them heavy casualties"
(Israeli nightly news, 3/4/02). Indeed, inflicting
violence on the civilian population in order to
influence its political leadership - the commonly held
definition of terrorism - is the essence of Sharon's
policy. Israeli peace activists increasingly condemn
this policy - and the occupation in general -- as the
root cause of Palestinian attacks that have killed 30
Israelis just this week.
The only sustainable solution to the spiraling death
toll on both sides of the Green Line is an immediate
and unconditional end to Israel's 35-year, illegal
occupation of Palestinian lands and full protection of
Palestinian human rights. This is the call of
Palestinian and Israeli peace activists, which must be
amplified by all peoples of conscience around the
Back to Main News Page
LOS ANGELES TIMES Commentary
Secret Plan Outlines the Unthinkable
A secret policy review of the nation's nuclear policy
puts forth chilling new contingencies for nuclear war.
by WILLIAM M. ARKIN
March 10 2002
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration, in a secret
policy review completed early this year, has ordered
the Pentagon to draft contingency plans for the use of
nuclear weapons against at least seven countries,
naming not only Russia and the "axis of evil"--Iraq,
Iran, and North Korea--but also China, Libya and Syria.
In addition, the U.S. Defense Department has been told
to prepare for the possibility that nuclear weapons may
be required in some future Arab-Israeli crisis. And, it
is to develop plans for using nuclear weapons to
retaliate against chemical or biological attacks, as
well as "surprising military developments" of an
These and a host of other directives, including calls
for developing bunker-busting mini-nukes and nuclear
weapons that reduce collateral damage, are contained in
a still-classified document called the Nuclear Posture
Review (NPR), which was delivered to Congress on Jan.
Like all such documents since the dawning of the Atomic
Age more than a half-century ago, this NPR offers a
chilling glimpse into the world of nuclear-war
planners: With a Strangelovian genius, they cover every
conceivable circumstance in which a president might
wish to use nuclear weapons--planning in great detail
for a war they hope never to wage.
In this top-secret domain, there has always been an
inconsistency between America's diplomatic objectives
of reducing nuclear arsenals and preventing the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, on the
one hand, and the military imperative to prepare for
the unthinkable, on the other.
Nevertheless, the Bush administration plan reverses an
almost two-decade-long trend of relegating nuclear
weapons to the category of weapons of last resort. It
also redefines nuclear requirements in hurried
post-Sept. 11 terms.
In these and other ways, the still-secret document
offers insights into the evolving views of nuclear
strategists in Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's Defense
While downgrading the threat from Russia and publicly
emphasizing their commitment to reducing the number of
long-range nuclear weapons, Defense Department
strategists promote tactical and so-called "adaptive"
nuclear capabilities to deal with contingencies where
large nuclear arsenals are not demanded.
They seek a host of new weapons and support systems,
including conventional military and cyber warfare
capabilities integrated with nuclear warfare. The end
product is a now-familiar post-Afghanistan model--with
nuclear capability added. It combines precision
weapons, long-range strikes, and special and covert
But the NPR's call for development of new nuclear
weapons that reduce "collateral damage" myopically
ignores the political, moral and military
implications--short-term and long--of crossing the
Under what circumstances might nuclear weapons be used
under the new posture? The NPR says they "could be
employed against targets able to withstand nonnuclear
attack," or in retaliation for the use of nuclear,
biological, or chemical weapons, or "in the event of
surprising military developments."
Planning nuclear-strike capabilities, it says, involves
the recognition of "immediate, potential or unexpected"
contingencies. North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya
are named as "countries that could be involved" in all
three kinds of threat. "All have long-standing
hostility towards the United States and its security
partners. All sponsor or harbor terrorists, and have
active WMD [weapons of mass destruction] and missile
China, because of its nuclear forces and "developing
strategic objectives," is listed as "a country that
could be involved in an immediate or potential
contingency." Specifically, the NPR lists a military
confrontation over the status of Taiwan as one of the
scenarios that could lead Washington to use nuclear
Other listed scenarios for nuclear conflict are a North
Korean attack on South Korea and an Iraqi assault on
Israel or its neighbors.
The second important insight the NPR offers into
Pentagon thinking about nuclear policy is the extent to
which the Bush administration's strategic planners were
shaken by last September's terrorist attacks on the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Though Congress
directed the new administration "to conduct a
comprehensive review of U.S. nuclear forces" before the
events of Sept. 11, the final study is striking for its
single-minded reaction to those tragedies.
Heretofore, nuclear strategy tended to exist as
something apart from the ordinary challenges of foreign
policy and military affairs. Nuclear weapons were not
just the option of last resort, they were the option
reserved for times when national survival hung in the
balance--a doomsday confrontation with the Soviet
Union, for instance.
Now, nuclear strategy seems to be viewed through the
prism of Sept. 11. For one thing, the Bush
administration's faith in old-fashioned deterrence is
gone. It no longer takes a superpower to pose a dire
threat to Americans.
"The terrorists who struck us on Sept. 11th were
clearly not deterred by doing so from the massive U.S.
nuclear arsenal," Rumsfeld told an audience at the
National Defense University in late January.
Similarly, U.S. Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton
said in a recent interview, "We would do whatever is
necessary to defend America's innocent civilian
population .... The idea that fine theories of
deterrence work against everybody ... has just been
disproven by Sept. 11."
Moreover, while insisting they would go nuclear only if
other options seemed inadequate, officials are looking
for nuclear weapons that could play a role in the kinds
of challenges the United States faces with Al Qaeda.
Accordingly, the NPR calls for new emphasis on
developing such things as nuclear bunker-busters and
surgical "warheads that reduce collateral damage," as
well as weapons that could be used against smaller,
more circumscribed targets--"possible modifications to
existing weapons to provide additional yield
flexibility," in the jargon-rich language of the
It also proposes to train U.S. Special Forces operators
to play the same intelligence gathering and targeting
roles for nuclear weapons that they now play for
conventional weapons strikes in Afghanistan. And
cyber-warfare and other nonnuclear military
capabilities would be integrated into nuclear-strike
forces to make them more all-encompassing.
As for Russia, once the primary reason for having a
U.S. nuclear strategy, the review says that while
Moscow's nuclear programs remain cause for concern,
"ideological sources of conflict" have been eliminated,
rendering a nuclear contingency involving Russia
"plausible" but "not expected."
"In the event that U.S. relations with Russia
significantly worsen in the future," the review says,
"the U.S. may need to revise its nuclear force levels
When completion of the NPR was publicly announced in
January, Pentagon briefers deflected questions about
most of the specifics, saying the information was
classified. Officials did stress that, consistent with
a Bush campaign pledge, the plan called for reducing
the current 6,000 long-range nuclear weapons to
one-third that number over the next decade. Rumsfeld,
who approved the review late last year, said the
administration was seeking "a new approach to strategic
deterrence," to include missile defenses and
improvements in nonnuclear capabilities.
Also, Russia would no longer be officially defined as
Beyond that, almost no details were revealed.
The classified text, however, is shot through with a
worldview transformed by Sept. 11. The NPR coins the
phrase "New Triad," which it describes as comprising
the "offensive strike leg," (our nuclear and
conventional forces) plus "active and passive
defenses,"(our anti-missile systems and other defenses)
and "a responsive defense infrastructure" (our ability
to develop and produce nuclear weapons and resume
nuclear testing). Previously, the nuclear "triad" was
the bombers, long-range land-based missiles and
submarine-launched missiles that formed the three legs
of America's strategic arsenal.
The review emphasizes the integration of "new
nonnuclear strategic capabilities" into nuclear-war
plans. "New capabilities must be developed to defeat
emerging threats such as hard and deeply-buried targets
(HDBT), to find and attack mobile and re-locatable
targets, to defeat chemical and biological agents, and
to improve accuracy and limit collateral damage," the
It calls for "a new strike system" using four converted
Trident submarines, an unmanned combat air vehicle and
a new air-launched cruise missile as potential new
Beyond new nuclear weapons, the review proposes
establishing what it calls an "agent defeat" program,
which defense officials say includes a "boutique"
approach to finding new ways of destroying deadly
chemical or biological warfare agents, as well as
penetrating enemy facilities that are otherwise
difficult to attack. This includes, according to the
document, "thermal, chemical or radiological
neutralization of chemical/biological materials in
production or storage facilities."
Bush administration officials stress that the
development and integration of nonnuclear capabilities
into the nuclear force is what permits reductions in
traditional long-range weaponry. But the blueprint laid
down in the review would expand the breadth and
flexibility of U.S. nuclear capabilities.
In addition to the new weapons systems, the review
calls for incorporation of "nuclear capability" into
many of the conventional systems now under development.
An extended-range conventional cruise missile in the
works for the U.S. Air Force "would have to be modified
to carry nuclear warheads if necessary." Similarly, the
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter should be modified to carry
nuclear weapons "at an affordable price."
The review calls for research to begin next month on
fitting an existing nuclear warhead into a new
5,000-pound "earth penetrating" munition.
Given the advances in electronics and information
technologies in the past decade, it is not surprising
that the NPR also stresses improved satellites and
intelligence, communications, and more robust
high-bandwidth decision-making systems.
Particularly noticeable is the directive to improve
U.S. capabilities in the field of "information
operations," or cyber-warfare. The intelligence
community "lacks adequate data on most adversary
computer local area networks and other command and
control systems," the review observes. It calls for
improvements in the ability to "exploit" enemy computer
networks, and the integration of cyber-warfare into the
overall nuclear war database "to enable more effective
targeting, weaponeering, and combat assessment
essential to the New Triad."
In recent months, when Bush administration officials
talked about the implications of Sept. 11 for long-term
military policy, they have often focused on "homeland
defense" and the need for an anti-missile shield. In
truth, what has evolved since last year's terror
attacks is an integrated, significantly expanded
planning doctrine for nuclear wars. _ _ _
William M. Arkin is a senior fellow at the Johns
Hopkins University School of Advanced International
Studies in Washington and an adjunct professor at the
U.S. Air Force School of Advanced Airpower Studies. He
is also a consultant to a number of nongovernmental
organizations and a regular contributor to the Bulletin
of the Atomic Scientists.
Back to Main News Page
Along The Color Line
The Politics of Hip Hop - Check I (of II)
By Manning Marable
The politics of hip hop culture took an important step
forward recently with the Russell Simmons-founded Hip
Hop Summit Action Network's hosting of the historic
West Coast Hip- Hop Summit. Organized by Summit
President Minister Benjamin Muhammad, hundreds of
influential performance artists, music executives,
grassroots activists, public leaders, and others
gathered to address key issues and to establish a
progressive political agenda. Prominent participants
included rappers Kurupt, DJ Quik, the Outlawz, Mack 10,
Boo-Yaa Tribe, Mike Concepcion and the D.O.C., and
radio personality/comedian Steve Harvey. Significantly,
the keynote address was delivered by the leader of the
Nation of Islam, Minister Louis Farrakhan, who also
keynoted the first national hip-hop summit, staged last
summer in New York City.
This latest Hip-Hop Summit Action Network followed
closely after two recent New York-based events
connected with the effort to build a progressive hip
hop political agenda. On Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Day (January 21), the first hip hop youth summit was
held at York College in Queens. Featuring prominent hip
hop artists such as Nas, Reverend Run of the legendary
group Run-DMC, Wu-Tang Clan, rap activist Sister
Souljah, and Fat Joe, the conference focused on
building youth memberships and chapters across the
country. Programs discussed included the "Read to
Succeed Project," which is designed to bring hip hop
artists into the public schools to emphasize literacy,
and the anti-drug "Game Over" public service campaign.
On January 28, Russell Simmons engaged in a "public
dialogue" with me, hosted by the Institute for Research
in African-American Studies at Columbia University
before several hundred people. Since my participation
in last year's national hip-hop summit, I have been
meeting with both Simmons and Muhammad to develop a
"hip-hop initiative," which could include a summer
youth leadership training institute, and public
conversations between rap artists and political
activists around social justice issues such as the
prison industrial complex, the death penalty, voter
education, and music censorship. In our dialogue,
Simmons affirmed his deep personal affection and
respect for Minister Farrakhan, whom he described as
"the conscience of black leadership." Simmons also
criticized many mainstream African-American leaders for
their failure to listen to the hip hop nation's
concerns. "The civil rights leaders have the finances
and infrastructure but don't do s--t," Simmons stated.
"We are constantly working to connect the old civil
rights leaders with creative young people."
As the founder and chairman of Rush Communications, a
multimedia empire that includes Def Pictures, Def Jam
recordings, Russell Simmons Television, Rush Art
Management, on-line magazines Oneworld and 360hiphop,
and the clothing company Phat Farm, Simmons's political
views are increasingly carrying enormous weight. His
intimate relationship with the NOI reflects, in part,
the strong Islamic orientation of many hip hop artists.
One of today's best and most "conscious" hip hop
artists, Mos Def, opened his 1999 album "Black on Both
Sides" with a Muslim prayer. Rap artists in the NOI
include Ice Cube, K-Solo and Mc Ren. Even more hip hop
artists have been influenced by the NOI offshoot, the
Five Percent Nation -- such as Wu Tang Clan, Busta
Rhymes, and Poor Righteous Teachers. What also seems
clear is that most of the liberal integrationist,
middle class black establishment has largely refused
for two decades to engage in a constructive political
dialogue with the hip hop nation.
The Nation of Islam has understood for decades that
black culture is directly related to black politics. To
transform an oppressed community's political behavior,
one must first begin with the reconstruction of both
cultural and civic imagination. Malcolm X's greatest
strength as a black leader was his ability to change
how black people thought about themselves as "racial
subjects." Revolutionary culture does the same thing.
Through music and the power of art, we can imagine
ourselves in exciting new ways, as makers of new
history. The reluctance of the black bourgeoisie to
come to terms with the music its own children listen to
compromises its ability to advance a meaningful
political agenda reflecting what the masses of our
people see and feel in their daily lives. It speaks
volumes about the cultural divisions and political
stratification within the African-American community,
as Russell Simmons noted in our recent public
dialogues, that Run-DMC was on the cover of Rolling
Stone and Vanity Fair before they were on Emerge or
Hip Hop culture's early evolution was closely linked
with the development of a series of political struggles
and events which fundamentally shaped the harsh
realities of black urban life. For example, hip hop
historians sometimes cite the true origins of rap as an
art form with the 1970 release of the self-titled
album, "The Last Poets," based on the spoken word. "The
Last Poets" was recorded and released during an intense
period of rebellion closely coinciding with the murder
of two African-American students and the wounding of 12
others by police at Jackson State University in
Mississippi, the mass wave of ghetto rebellions during
the summer of 1970, and the FBI's nationwide campaign
to arrest and imprison prominent black activist Angela
Davis. In New York City in 1973-74, Afrika Bambataa
(Kevin Donovan) established the Zulu Nation, a
collective of DJs, graffiti artists and breakers, with
the stated political purpose of urban survival through
cultural empowerment and peaceful social change. Hip
Hop's first DJ Kool Herc (Clive Campbell) developed rap
as a cultural mode of aesthetic expression.
Graffiti art exploded everywhere across the city -- on
subway cars, buses, and buildings -- and soon is
recognized as an original and creative art form. What
helped to shape these cultural forms which later would
become known as hip hop was the economic and political
turmoil occurring in New York City during these years.
The city government was lurching toward bankruptcy, as
urban unemployment rates rose during the most severe
economic recession since the end of World War II. This
also marked the beginnings of more extreme forms of
deadly violence among African-American and Hispanic
young people. In 1977 even DJ Kool Herc was stabbed
three times at his own party, reflecting in part
escalating competition between crews, as well as the
growth of violence to resolve disputes.
Yet the sites of greatest oppression, however,
frequently can produce the strongest forces of
resistance. The culture that the world one day would
know as hip hop was born in that context of racial and
Dr. Manning Marable is Professor of History and
Political Science, and the Director of the Institute
for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia
University in New York. "Along the Color Line" is
distributed free of charge to over 350 publications
throughout the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Marable's
column is also available on the Internet at
Copyright (c) 2002 Manning Marable. All Rights
Along The Color Line
The Politics of Hip Hop - Check II (of II)
By Manning Marable <mm247@c...>
There has always been a fundamental struggle for the
"soul" of hip hop culture, represented by the deep
tension between politically-conscious and "positivity"
rap artists versus the powerful and reactionary
impulses toward misogyny, homophobia, corporate greed,
and crude commodification.
The most recent example of this struggle for hip hop's
"soul" was vividly expressed at the recent West Coast
hip hop conference. Respected rappers such as Mike
Concepcion and the D.O.C., and Def Jam founder and
conference leader Russell Simmons, emphasized the need
to mobilize artists around progressive goals, such as
supporting voter education and registration campaigns.
Solidarity was expressed for progressive feminist
poet/artist Sarah Jones, who is suing over the Federal
Communications Commission's fine imposed against an
Oregon radio station's playing of her song, "Your
Revolution." Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, in
his keynote address, urged the hip hop community to
renounce lyrics promoting violence and social
divisiveness. "From the suffering of our people came
rap," Farrakhan observed. "That should make you a
servant of those that produced you."
The forces of negativity were also present, reflected
in the controversial remarks of the founder of Death
Row Records Marion "Suge" Knight. Launching into an
attack against artists such as Dr. Dre, Master P, and
Janet Jackson, Knight criticized sisters in attendance
for "wanting to be men." When Knight then argued that
women "were not strong enough to be leaders," observers
were stunned. Hip-Hop Summit Action Network President
Minister Benjamin Muhammad later observed: "A summit is
where diverse forces come together.... You saw the
compassion side and the raw side of hip-hop. You saw
the focus on economics and the side that focuses on
Years before the 1986 release of Run DMC's "Raising
Hell," which became the first rap album to go platinum,
music industry executives saw the huge profit-making
potential of this explosive new art form. Many of the
"Old School" rap artists were brutally exploited by
unscrupulous business practices of both white and black
managers and music executives. Some artists were
willing (and eager) to sell themselves and their
creativity to manufacture music that was designed
largely for commercial purposes, promoting negative
values that were antithetical to blacks' interests.
Yet also from the beginning, the tradition of
politically progressive and socially-conscious hip hop
has been central to this youth-oriented culture. In
1982, rap moved decisively from party- oriented themes
to political issues with the release of Grandmaster
Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message." The
following year Keith Leblanc of Tommy Boy records
released "No Sell- out," incorporating the powerful
voice of Malcolm X into the rap single. This marked the
beginning of the incorporation of Malcolm's
uncompromising words and political message, which would
be sampled in hundreds of hip hop songs, especially in
the late 1980s and early 1990s. Also in 1983,
Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel released their anti-
cocaine anthem "White Lines (Don't Do It)," which was
designed to promote greater anti-drug social awareness
within black and Latino communities. Nearly a decade
later, as hip hop migrated to the west coast, seminal
rap group NWA recorded the song "Dope Man," which upon
close examination, reveals an emphatic anti-drug
message, despite its explicit lyrics.
Social critics like Kevin Powell have described the
period between 1987 and 1992 as the "golden age" of hip
hop music, a time of enormous creativity and artistic
originality. More than any other group at that time,
Public Enemy (PE) set the standard for progressive,
socially conscious rap. Though not as commercially
heralded as PE, the emergence of KRS One and his group
Boogie Down Productions, also changed the content of
rap albums, beginning with the 1987 album "Criminal
Minded." Other similar examples include: the 1989
release of "Daddy's Little Girl" by MC Nikki D
(Nichelle Strong), who was the first female rapper to
rhyme about abortion, from a young woman's perspective;
the emergence of the brilliant (and underappreciated)
rapper Paris, the self-proclaimed "black panther of hip
hop," who called for radical social change and
incorporated the images of Malcolm X and the Black
Panther Party into his videos; the 1989 release of the
debut record by A Tribe Called Quest, preaching
Afrocentric awareness, collective love and peace; the
establishment by KRS One, also in 1989, of the "Stop
the Violence Movement," and the release by Boogie Down
Productions of "Self Destruction" to promote awareness
against black-on-black violence, featuring legendary
artists such as Public Enemy, MC Lyte, and Kool Moe
Dee; Salt-n-Pepa's 1991 remake of the song "Let's Talk
About Sex" into "Let's Talk About AIDS," a public
service announcement that promoted HIV/AIDS awareness
and sex education, with all the proceeds from the sale
of both the single and the video donated by the group
to the National Minority AIDS Council and the TJ
Martell Foundation for AIDS Research; and the
collective protest response to the brutal police
beating of Rodney King in March 1991, by progressive
rap artists such as Chuck D, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur,
and Sister Souljah.
The most progressive black "womanist" artist in hip
hop's "golden age" was Queen Latifah. Although Latifah
did not describe herself as a feminist, her video
"Ladies First" depicted powerful images of freedom
fighters Angela Y. Davis, Winnie Mandela, and Sojourner
Truth. Her strong support for the struggle to overthrow
the apartheid regime of South Africa and her criticisms
of corporate power at that time opened new avenues for
the development of other women hip hop artists.
While art and politics are indeed connected, it is not
the case that cultural workers, musicians, and even
entertainment entrepreneurs like Simmons, coming out of
hip hop culture represent a new political leadership.
Yvonne Bynoe, one of hip hop culture's most insightful
observers, paraphrased Chuck D by saying that "we do
not need hip-hop doctors or hip-hop politicians. The
leadership that will come from the post-civil rights
generation must be able to do more than rhyme about
problems; they have got to be able to build
organizations as well as harness the necessary monetary
resources and political power to do something about
Bynoe's argument makes absolute sense, because the most
politically-committed artists throughout history, such
as Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger, and Bernice Reagon,
understood that while all art is always political,
artists usually shouldn't be politicians. As Bynoe
notes: "A rap artist who aspires to be a community
leader cannot lead a dual life.... The electorate for
instance would not be expected to call their
representative, Congressman Ol' Dirty Bastard....
Political activism is a full-time, contact sport,
necessitating players who are fully dedicated to
learning the rules of the game, then playing to win."
It must be emphasized, however, that hip hop artists
can lend their legitimacy (or in the hip hop
vernacular, their "juice") to many different political
causes or public figures. Their very presence or words
can act as lightning rods of attention for the masses
of youth who identify with hip hop. When Public Enemy's
Chuck D rhymed "Farrakhan's a prophet that I think you
ought to listen to," many listeners were attracted to
the Nation of Islam's message of black nationalism. As
a result, rappers such as PE and Ice Cube in his prime
helped the NOI to reach a whole new generation of
disaffected youth. Political leaders have often sought
the aid of influential musical artists, and in the
realm of black liberation and struggle, hip hop culture
has provided an undeniable galvanizing platform.
What the essential "politics of art" is about is the
politics of collective imagination, the transformative
politics of freeing one's mind. In a recent interview,
KRS-One observed that hip hop "is the only place where
Dr. Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech is
visible.... Today, with the help of hip hop, they're
all hip-hoppers out there. I mean black, white, Asian,
Latino, Chicano, everybody. Hip-Hop has formed a
platform for all people, religions, and occupations to
meet on something." KRS-One adds, "that, to me, is
There is no longer any question about the significance
and power of hip hop music and culture as a
transnational commercial force. One recent example of
this was last year's release of Tupac Shakur's "Until
the End of Time," which debuted at number one on
Billboard's Top 200 albums chart, selling more than
425,000 copies in the first week. Since his murder on
September 8, 1996, Tupac has sold more than three times
the number of albums than during his lifetime.
In my recent conversations with Russell Simmons, he
estimated that rap music's consumer market in the
United States is approximately 80 percent white. This
brings into sharp focus the central political
contradiction socially conscious hip hop cultural
workers must address: how to anchor their art into the
life-and-death (and "def") struggles of African-
American and Latino communities, which largely consist
of poor people and the working poor, the unemployed and
those millions who are warehoused in prisons and jails.
Even "a nation of millions" cannot "hold us back," if
we utilize the power embedded in hip hop art as a
matrix for constructing new movements and institutions
for capacity and black empowerment.
Dr. Manning Marable is Professor of History and
Political Science, and the Director of the Institute
for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia
University in New York. "Along the Color Line" is
distributed free of charge to over 350 publications
throughout the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Marable's
column is also available on the Internet at
Copyright (c) 2002 Manning Marable. All Rights
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Eyes-only memos--IMF/WB against Argenitina
Eyes-only memos show who done it
By Greg Palast
February 7, 2002
In Buenos Aires, the Paris of Latin America, police gunned
down two dozen Argentines in December after they chose to
face bullets rather than starvation. The nation's currency
had crumbled and unemployment had shot up from a grim 16
percent to millions more than the collapsing government
could measure. The economy had been murdered in cold
Who done it? The killers left fingerprints all over the
A "Technical Memorandum of Understanding," dated September
5, 2000, was signed by Pedro Pou, president of Argentina's
Central Bank for transmission to Horst Köhler, managing
director of the International Monetary Fund. I received a
complete copy of the inside report from . . . let's just
say the envelope lacked a return address.
The "understanding" required Argentina to cut the
government budget deficit from $5.3 billion in 2000 to
$4.1 billion in 2001. Think about that. Eighteen months
ago, when the "understanding" was drafted, Argentina was
already on the cliff-edge of a depression. One in six
workers were unemployed. Even the half-baked economists at
the IMF should have known that holding back government
spending in a contracting economy would be like turning
off the engines of an airplane in stall.
The IMF is never wrong without being cruel as well. Under
the boldface heading, "Improving the Conditions of the
Poor," the agency directed Argentina to cut 20 percent
from $200 monthly salaries paid under an emergency
employment program. The "understanding" also promised a 12
to 15 percent cut in civil servant salaries and a pension
"rationalization" (IMF-speak for a 13 percent cut in
payments to the elderly).
Salted in the IMF plans for pensioners and the poor were
economic forecasts bordering on the delusional. The report
projected that, once Argentina snuffed consumer spending,
somehow the nation's economic production would leap by 3.7
percent and unemployment would fall.
It didn't. The IMF plan kneecapped industrial production,
which fell 25 percent in the first quarter of last year
before keeling over completely to interest rates that by
summer were running up to 90 percent on dollar-denominated
ANOTHER ENVELOPE that walked onto my desk contained the
memorandum for Argentina's "Country Assistance Plan" for
the next four years. The June 25 document, signed by World
Bank President James Wolfensohn, included a warning that
recipients must use it "only in the performance of their
My duty as a reporter is to tell you that the plan amounts
to a breathtaking mix of cruelty and Titanic-sized self-
deception. With the economy already in its death spiral,
Wolfensohn claimed that "despite the setbacks, the goals
set out in the last [year's] report remain valid and the
strategy appropriate." The IMF plan, cooked up with the
World Bank, would "greatly improve the outlook for the
remainder of 2001 and for 2002, with growth expected to
recover in the later half of 2001."
In this eyes-only document, the World Bank president
expressed particular pride that Argentina's government had
made "a $3 billion cut in primary expenditures
accommodating the increase in interest obligations." In
other words, the government gouged spending on domestic
needs to pay interest to creditors, mostly foreign banks.
Crisis, indeed, has its bright side, as Wolfensohn crowed
to his banker readers: "A major advance was made to
eliminate outdated labor contracts." And "labor costs" had
fallen due to "labor market flexibility induced by the de
facto liberalization of the market via increased
informality." Translation: Workers lost unionized jobs and
turned to selling trinkets in the street.
What on Earth would lure Argentina into embracing this
program? The bait was a $20 billion emergency loan package
and "stand-by" credit from the IMF, the World Bank and
their commercial bank partners. But there is less to this
generosity than meets the eye. The "understanding" assumed
Argentina would continue its "Convertibility Plan," a 1991
policy that pegged the peso, the nation's currency, to the
Yankee dollar at an exchange rate of one-to-one. The
currency peg hadn't come cheap: Foreign banks working with
the IMF had demanded that Argentina pay a whopping 16
percent risk premium above U.S. Treasury lending rates for
the dollars needed to back the scheme.
Now do the math. When Wolfensohn wrote his memo, Argentina
owed $128 billion in debt. Normal interest plus the
premium amounted to $27 billion a year. In other words,
Argentina's people didn't net one penny from the $20
billion in "bailout" loans. The debt grew, but none of the
money escaped New York, where it lingered to pay interest
to U.S. creditors holding the bonds.
The creditors range from big fish, led by New York-based
Citibank, to little biters such as Steve Hanke, president
of Toronto Trust Argentina, an "emerging market" fund.
Hanke's outfit loaded up 100 percent on Argentine bonds
during a 1995 currency panic. Cry not for Steve,
Argentina. His 79.25 percent profit that year put his fund
at the top of the speculators' league. Players call it
"vulture investing": betting on the failure of the IMF
In his day job as a Johns Hopkins University economics
professor, Hanke freely offers a cure for Argentina's
woes. The advice would put him out of business: "Abolish
the IMF," he told me.
And, Hanke advised, abolish the one-for-one exchange rate.
The currency peg forced Argentina to beg and borrow a
steady supply of dollars to back each peso, and this
became the rationale for the IMF and World Bank to let
loose in the pampas their Four Horsemen of neoliberal
policy: liberalized financial markets, reduced government,
privatization and free trade.
The "liberalizing" means allowing capital to flow freely
across national borders. Capital has indeed flowed freely.
Last year, Argentina's elite dumped its pesos for dollars
and sent the hard loot to investment havens abroad,
bleeding as much as $750 million a day from the country.
Once upon a time, government-owned national and provincial
banks supported their nation's debts. But in the
mid-1990s, President Carlos Saúl Menem's government sold
these off to foreign operators such as Citibank and
Boston-based Fleet Bank. Former World Bank advisor Charles
Calomiris told me these bank privatizations were a "really
wonderful story." Wonderful for whom? With the foreign-
owned banks unwilling to repay Argentine depositors, the
government froze savings accounts December 3, effectively
seizing money from the middle class to pay off the foreign
To keep the foreign creditors smiling, the IMF
"understanding" also required "reform of the revenue
sharing system." This is the kinder, gentler way of
stating that the U.S. banks would be paid by siphoning off
tax receipts that the provinces had earmarked for
education and other public services. The "understanding"
also found cash in "reforming" (cutting from) the nation's
health insurance system.
And when cuts aren't enough to pay creditors, one can
always sell "grandma's jewels," as Argentines describe the
privatizations. The government sold much of the nation's
water system in 1995 to Vivendi Universal. The French
conglomerate promptly cut staff and raised prices,
including 400 percent hikes in some areas. In his
confidential memo, the World Bank's Wolfensohn sighs,
"Almost all major utilities have been privatized," so now
there's really nothing left to sell.
The coup de grâce, spelled out in the "understanding," was
the imposition of "an open trade policy." This pushed
Argentina's exporters (with their products priced in U.S.
dollars, via the peg) into a pathetic, losing competition
against Brazilian goods priced in that nation's devalued
Have the World Bank and IMF learned from their errors?
They learn the way a pig learns to sing: It can't, it
won't and, if it tries, the resulting noise is unbearable.
On January 9, with the Argentine capital in flames, IMF
Deputy Managing Director Anne Krueger ordered the
country's new president, Eduardo Duhalde, to cut still
deeper into government expenditures. Interestingly,
President George W. Bush backed the IMF budget-cutting
advice-the same week he demanded that the U.S. Congress
adopt a $50 billion scheme to spend the United States out
WOLFENSOHN'S MEMO summed up the program: All Argentina
needed to do was "reduce the cost of production," a step
that required only a "flexible workforce." Translation:
further cuts in pensions and wages or, better yet, no
wages at all. To the dismay of Argentina's elite, however,
the worker bees proved inflexibly obstinate in agreeing to
One such worker, Anibal Verón, a 37-year-old father of
five, lost his job as a bus driver from a company that
owed him nine months' pay. Verón joined unemployed
Argentines, known as "piqueteros," who block roads. In
November 2000, while clearing a blockade, the military
police killed him with a bullet to the head.
Yet globalization boosters portray resistance to the New
World Order as a lark of pampered, naïve, western youths
curing their ennui by "indulging in protest," as British
Prime Minister Tony Blair put it. The U.S. and European
media play to this theme, focusing on protests in Seattle
and Genoa, while burying news of general strikes honored
by millions of Argentine workers. The July 20 killing of
Genoa protester Carlo Giuliani made front pages across the
United States and Europe. But these newspapers ignored
Verón's death and the June 17 killings of Argentine
protesters Carlos Santillán, 27, and Oscar Barrios, 17,
gunned down by police in a churchyard in General Mosconi,
a northern town. Only in December, when Argentina failed
to make an interest payment on foreign-held debt, did the
Euro-American press report a "crisis."
To implement their "reforms," the IMF and World Bank work
with locals such as Domingo Cavallo, who resigned as
economy minister in December after mass protests.
Argentines remember him as head of the nation's Central
Bank during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.
Mindful of that era, the Buenos Aires-based Peace and
Justice Service (SERPAJ) is documenting cases in which
police tortured northern protesters. SERPAJ leader Adolfo
Pérez Esquivel, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980,
told me his group has filed a formal complaint charging
police with recruiting children as young as age 5 as
informers for paramilitary squads. He compared the
operation to the Hitler Youth, the organization that
trained German boys in Nazi principles. Pérez Esquivel,
who last year led protests against the proposed Free Trade
Agreement of the Americas, says economic "liberalization"
and political repression go hand in hand.
More information on this topic can be found in Greg's
latest books, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and
Democracy and Regulation, both of which will be published
Greg Palast is an investigative journalist who writes a
column called "Inside Corporate America" for the Observer,
Britain's most respected Sunday newspaper. View all of
Greg's columns at http://www.gregpalast.com
Back to Main News Page
My Hinduism Lost In India's Deadly Nationalism
By Sandip Roy
March 7,2002; Pacific News Service via The Black World Today
EDITOR'S NOTE: Fueling the worst Hindu-Muslim violence in
India in nearly a decade is a new Hindu nationalism that
adopts the militaristic rhetoric of today's world leaders.
PNS Associate Editor Sandip Roy fears that an older form
of Hinduism that could accept, absorb and change other
cultures is being lost. Roy (firstname.lastname@example.org) is
host of "Upfront" -- the Pacific News Service weekly radio
program on KALW-FM, San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO--When the bland bureaucratic form demands I
write down my religion, I dutifully print HINDU. A
religion I call my own with as little thought as I claim
my parents -- a given.
Then the stories pour in of Hindu mobs barricading
terrified Muslims in a schoolhouse in Gujarat and setting
them ablaze. Of holy men with matted hair and saffron
robes descending on the hot dusty town in Ayodhya with
their iron tridents. They are Hindu, too -- perhaps more
Hindu than I. I look into the face of their Hinduism and
realize I almost envy it, cloaked as it is in such
certainty. My Hinduism, which is more about a culture than
a temple, is civilized but effete in comparison -- a cut
flower in a crystal vase.
Who is the real Hindu? What happened to my Hinduism?
Much has been written about the rise of Hindu nationalism
in India. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), once an
outcast in Indian politics because of its Hindu
chauvinism, is now in power. Not just in power, but
presiding over a coalition with some of the very parties
that not so long ago refused to associate with it, and
caused the first BJP government in 1996 to fall in just 13
What does this mean? That India is finally declaring that
the 1947 act of partition that created the Muslim state of
Pakistan in effect created a Hindu state named India? That
secularism was just a fig leaf plastered onto that Hindu
state, and finally, inevitably, it is slipping off? That
Hinduism is being reincarnated as a muscular nationalism
hell-bent on settling scores from centuries ago? Against
Muslim invaders, British traders.
Dare I say it -- Hinduism is becoming a certain kind of
man, proclaiming a type of male certainty. Certainty -- as
in you have to be for us or against us. Certainty, as in
smoking the enemy out of their caves. A single muscular
line, like a missile that cannot be deflected from its
Is this a Hinduism that Gandhi might have recognized?
Gandhi, too, was Hindu. Gandhi was from Gujarat as well,
where the communal riots now rage with unspeakable
ferocity. But now he is a portrait on the wall of a
bureaucrat, forever staring at the back of the
bureaucrat's head. When Time Magazine was choosing its man
of the century, I was deluged by e-mails from Indians
trying to make sure I went to Time's Web site to vote for
Gandhi. It was strange -- their enthusiasm was no
indicator of the resonance Gandhi had in their lives. He
was merely our best bet at having an Indian named the
person of the century -- a commodity.
Where is Gandhi now? Or Nelson Mandela? Or all the other
leaders whose certainty was not a single-minded heat-
seeking missile? Whose message was about looking into the
eye of the opponent to see if they could see themselves in
there. I don't know if they could play any of the extreme
sports our world leaders play now. After Sept. 11, the
rhetoric has been so much more about nationalism, taking
care of our own, closing doors, sealing borders, us vs.
them, weeding out terrorists, "you can run but you can't
hide." Bush, Putin, Arroyo, Sharon, Vajpayee -- each a
player more certain than the next of the destiny of the
nation each leads. This new Hinduism is in tune with the
world's rhetoric -- black and white in its certainty,
defining itself by how it can teach someone a lesson, show
them who is boss.
But there was another Hinduism that was about absorption.
Absorbing conquerors, their music, their food, their
poetry -- and yes, their seed, their vices, their greed.
That Hinduism is now derided as passive, unable to compete
in the world. It cannot spearhead agitations or mobilize
mob armies. But it still exists -- not necessarily in
secularists like me. Up in Marin County (yes, where
else?), I met a master Indian musician, the sarode player
Ali Akbar Khan. Now 80 years old, his name immediately
reveals his Muslim parentage. Yet his sister is named
Annapurna, a Hindu mother goddess. Now Khan teaches Indian
classical raagas with mellifluous names like "Purbasree"
in San Rafael, in a room whose window has the stained
glass image of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of the arts
I wanted to ask him if he was Hindu or Muslim. He said he
was a musician -- music to him was next to God. In some
strange, romantic way, I felt more in touch with my
Hinduism that night than I had in a long time.
(c) Copyright PNS
Send your comments and suggestions about this article to:
Copyright © 2002 The Black World Today. All Rights
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"A Scandal That Shames The Land of the Free"
Since 11 September last year, up to 2,000
people in the U.S. have been detained without
trial, or charge, or even legal rights. The fate
of most is unknown. Andrew Gumbel investigates
a scandal that shames the land of the free.
[The Independent - UK - 26 February 2002]:
They came for Rabih Haddad in the afternoon, as his family was
getting ready to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Three men from the
Immigration and Naturalization Service took him away from the
apartment in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that he shared with his wife and
four children. His wife frantically shoved a few dates into his
pockets so that he would have something to break his fast as he
headed off to jail.
That was 14 December, more than two months ago. Since that time,
Haddad, a widely respected religious leader and founding member of
one of the United States' largest Muslim charities, the Global Relief
Foundation, has been held in solitary confinement, first in Ann
Arbor and then at a federal facility in Chicago. He is in his cell,
alone, for 23 hours a day. Every time he leaves, either to exercise in a
special high-security cage or to take one of his thrice-weekly
showers, he is handcuffed.
At first he was allowed to see his family for four hours a week; now
that has been reduced to just four hours a month, and on one recent
occasion his wife and children were turned away without
explanation. Personal phone calls are restricted to 15 minutes per month.
And yet Haddad, a Lebanese citizen who was educated in the
United States, has been charged with no crime. According to the
Treasury Department ñ the only branch of government to give any
explanation whatsoever ñ he and his charity are suspected of links
to Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida organisation. But no evidence has
been publicly forthcoming to substantiate the claim and no formal
accusation has been made against him.
On the day he was arrested, Global Relief's assets were frozen by the
Treasury Department and its headquarters in Bridgeview, Illinois ñ a
suburb of Chicago ñ was raided by 15 FBI agents, who seized every
last piece of computer and video equipment, as well as the entire
archive of office records. At the same time, the charity's field offices
in Albania and Kosovo were raided in similar fashion by Nato troops
and two of their operatives hauled off into custody for several
weeks. The charity's executive director, Mohamad Chehade, was
questioned at his home for two hours and, according to his lawyer,
watched helplessly as field officers stripped his dwelling of
paperwork, ripped open the Ramadan presents that were due to be
opened that night, tore up the furniture and even confiscated his
daughter's computer games. Chehade has since stated in court
papers that he was never shown a search warrant.
After more than 10 weeks of investigation, neither Mohamad
Chehade nor any of Global Relief's other full-time employees in the
United States has been detained or accused of wrongdoing. In fact,
the only ostensible reason for Haddad to be behind bars is a minor
visa irregularity. The tourist visa he used to enter the country most
recently in 1998 expired after six months, and at the time of his arrest
he and his wife were in the process of applying for permanent
resident status, in accordance with a visa amnesty law passed in the
dying days of the Clinton administration.
This is far from the first case of an Arab or south-Asian national
being rounded up and subjected to indefinite detention in the wake
of the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington. The
Justice Department acknowledged the arrest of 1,200 people before it
stopped releasing numbers in November; human rights groups
believe the total number could be as high as 2,000. But Haddad's
case is perhaps the most troubling of all because of the sheer
severity of his treatment and the shockingly abrupt suspension of
his rights to due legal process. Government lawyers have refused to
spell out what evidence, if any, they have against him, saying that
they do not have to under the Bush administration's stiff new
anti-terrorism law passed in late October, the so-called Patriot Act.
The US Attorney's office in Chicago refused all comment.
The court proceedings in his case have been so secret that even
Haddad has been barred from attending; he has had to watch them
on video from his jail cell, without the right of participation. And his
visa irregularity is so minor that most immigration experts agree it
would, under any other circumstances, be settled by an exchange of
letters and the payment of a modest fine.
Haddad's case has caused barely a blip in mainstream public opinion
or the media in the United States, in part because of the prevailing
mood of unquestioning indulgence towards law enforcement
agencies as they seek to prevent further atrocities on US soil. When
reports first surfaced, last autumn, of Arab men being picked up on
minor visa irregularities, arrested, shackled, denied access to lawyers
and families for days on end and, in some cases, getting beaten or
even dying in custody, the general attitude was; this is an
emergency, mistakes will be made, it is the price we have to pay.
The extremity of Haddad's circumstances has nevertheless outraged
Michigan's 350,000-strong Arab community, who have rallied round
Haddad's wife, Salma al-Rushaid, and provided her with financial
support as she fights for her husband's freedom. It has also won
Haddad some sorely needed friends in high places.
"The treatment of Rabih Haddad by the Immigration and
Naturalization Service over the past several weeks has highlighted
everything that is abusive and unconstitutional about our
government's scapegoating of immigrants in the wake of the
September 11 terrorist attack," the Michigan congressman John
Conyers said in a recent statement. Conyers, the senior Democrat on
the House Judiciary Committee, was himself barred entry to the
courtroom during one of Haddad's recent hearings. He and several
dozen supporters were forced to sit out on the pavement outside the
It is hard not to draw parallels with the scandalous case of Wen Ho
Lee, the Taiwanese-born scientist accused of passing US nuclear
secrets to the Chinese, who spent 10 months in solitary confinement
without charge before the government admitted it had no case
against him. Like Lee, Haddad finds himself powerless before the
great catch-all invocation of national security. As with Lee, his
detention threatens to be indefinite. And, as with Lee, one has to
ask: if this is not some terrible miscarriage of justice, why is the
government being so reticent about its information?
"Unfortunately, this whole thing is very political," says Haddad's
lawyer, Ashraf Nubani. "Global Relief is still not on any list of
terrorist organisations. Its assets were only blocked pursuant to the
emergency powers granted to the President. They froze the assets,
and now they are trying to concoct the case."
Mrs al-Rushaid, who testified recently before Conyers's
congressional committee, is equally outspoken. "If they have no
charges against my husband, they should be done with him and let
him go home," she said in a phone interview from Chicago, where
she travelled with her children to see him last Friday for another
Islamic holiday, the Eid al-Adha. "What do they want with him?
They should say it now or, at least, if it is going to take some time to
make their case, they should send him back to Michigan so I can see
him more often. Why torture him like this? The inhuman aspect is
Mrs al-Rushaid described how she and her four children crowded
around the intercom phone to speak to Rabih Haddad, who was
separated from them by a thick glass partition lined with bars. She
begged the guard on duty at least to let her touch his hand, but he
said no. "It wasn't the guard's fault. He said there was a camera
trained on us and he did not want to jeopardise his job. But my
question is, where's the harm? It is getting really hard to keep seeing
my husband like this."
The fear among immigration lawyers is that Haddad's treatment is
only a taste of things to come. Armed with the Patriot Act and a
barrage of other ad hoc rulings passed in the wake of 11 September,
George Bush's ultra-conservative attorney general, John Ashcroft,
has shown he intends to push the limits as far as he can. Because of
the blanket of secrecy Ashcroft has imposed, it is impossible to
know exactly how many people have been detained or deported, or
even why. Of the total 2,000 detainees estimated by the American
Civil Liberties Union and others, the best guess is that the vast
majority have been held on visa irregularities, not terror-related
Full details have emerged of only a handful of cases. This
newspaper previously reported on the case of Al Badr al-Hazmi, a
Texas-based Saudi radiologist who was detained for two weeks, one
of them without any contact with the outside world, before the FBI
acknowledged it had made a mistake. The Washington Post recently
wrote about two Pakistani immigrants held for 49 days before being
charged with overstaying their visas, while the Wall Street Journal
reported the case of Tarek Mohamed Fayad, an Egyptian dentist
living in California. He was arrested on 13 September and transferred
to the Brooklyn Detention Centre in New York City, where he was
kept in conditions of such secrecy that it took his lawyer a month to
find him. He is believed to be there still.
In New Jersey, a Pakistani truck driver called Anser Mehmood had
no contact with his family for three months after he was picked up in
early October. Deprived of their only source of income, his wife and
four children have been forced to sell every last household
appliance and are now heading back to Karachi out of financial
necessity even before they know the outcome of Mehmood's case.
Another detainee, 55-year-old Mohammed Rafiq Butt, died of heart
failure at the Hudson County jail in Kearny, New Jersey, on 23
In some ways, things have calmed down since those panicked days
in September and October. A private support group for detainees in
Washington called Solidarity USA reports that most of those who
manage to hook up with lawyers are gradually managing to get out
of detention, either winning the right to stay in the United States or
getting the deportation procedure carried out swiftly and efficiently.
Things remain grim, however, for those who either cannot afford
legal representation or cannot make contact with the outside world
from their holding cells.
"I just got a call from an Egyptian gentleman who has been held in
the county jail on immigration charges for three months," Nubani
says. "He doesn't know when they are going to deport him. He is
just one of those 'unnamed persons'. There are literally dozens of
people like that."
The Justice Department said recently that the immigration
authorities were still holding 327 people in custody in connection
with 11 September, well down from the peak last autumn. But that
number is likely to go back up again. Last month, Ashcroft issued a
so-called "absconders apprehension initiative", in which he
earmarked 6,000 Arab men known to have outstayed their visas for
immediate deportation ñ a moved denounced by immigration lawyers
as blatant discrimination since there are more than 300,000 other
people known to be in the United States on expired visas who have
not been targetted. Last week, The New York Times reported that the
Justice Department had blocked the deportation of 87 detainees
cleared for departure by the immigration authorities so it could
continue to carry out background checks. No evidence has emerged
that any of the 87 was involved in the attacks on the World Trade
Centre or the Pentagon.
This heightened prosecutorial zeal has left immigration lawyers and
Muslim and Arab lobby groups deeply concerned. Particularly
alarming is the increasing reliance on judicial secrecy ñ something
that has been a feature of immigration cases since 1996 but was
considered, until recently, highly controversial and of dubious
constitutional validity. John Ashcroft's department has not only
made use of secret evidence in case after case in the past few
months; it has also issued an executive ruling, independent of any
act of Congress, authorising the immigration courts to close their
proceedings to the outside world.
"[This ruling] is absolutely an outrage, it's got no authority
whatsoever," says Marc Van Der Hout, one of the leading
immigration lawyers in the United States, based in San Francisco.
"As the federal appeals courts have ruled again and again, secret
evidence is inherently untrustworthy. The Justice Department is
really taking advantage of 11 September to put forward a lot of
proposals that it had in its hip pocket beforehand: restrict the rights
of immigrants; keep people detained for long periods of time; bypass
a lot of the rulings of immigration judges; and ultimately have the
Attorney General dictate what happens."
One of the changes of recent months, Van Der Hout says, was to
make the Attorney General the final arbiter of immigration cases as
well as their chief prosecutor. "He is basically deciding, 'Do I like
what I'm saying?' It's an absurd system that eviscerates the rights of
The pessimism and anger are echoed in the Arab American
community, particularly among those who have brushed up against
the immigration courts in the past. "Before 11 September, there was
room for debate and challenge," says Imad Hamad of the Arab
American Anti-Discrimination Committee, who fought and
eventually won a case based on secret evidence that sought to tar
him as a radical Palestinian militant. "Now it is more dangerous and
more complicated. The general mood around the country is that
anything is permissible as long as it is justified in the name of safety
and security. It's a very unfortunate situation for anyone who is
caught in the middle, such as Mr Haddad."
Global Relief was the third major US-based Islamic charity to be
caught up in President Bush's anti-terrorist dragnet in the wake of 11
September. In contrast to the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation,
which had been investigated by federal authorities for years for
suspected links to suicide bombers in the Israeli-occupied territories,
its operations had appeared to most observers to be entirely above
board. It had a donor base of 20,000 people and disbursed about
$5m [£3m] a year to 22 countries, supporting hospitals and schools
and providing emergency relief to victims of earthquake, drought
and war across the Islamic world. The only question mark came
about 18 months ago, when Global Relief's treasurer was questioned
by the FBI about a fund-raising event at a Texas mosque that was
suspected of having links to Osama bin Laden. According to some
reports, Global Relief was temporarily put on a White House list of
organisations that are suspected of terrorist links. But the matter
went no further at the time.
After the 11 September outrage, Rabih Haddad went out of his way
to condemn the attacks, earning praise from Christian and Jewish
leaders in Michigan for his stance. That appeared to count for
nothing, however, when the authorities pounced in December.
According to Nubani, the immigration service claimed its decision to
arrest Haddad had nothing to do with the asset-freezing operation,
which just happened to fall on the same day. There was no word on
Haddad's whereabouts for 48 hours after his arrest; according to his
lawyers, the judge's decision to deny him bail was subsequently
justified by the fact that immigration officials found a hunting rifle ñ
fully licensed ñ in his apartment.
The co-ordinated Nato swoops on Global Relief's Balkan outposts
were even less tender. In Kosovo, KFOR troops in Pristina entered
the charity's field office ñ used as a school to teach women English
and word processing ñ and arrested two Iraqi nationals, one a
doctor and the other an administrator. "One of them was beaten
senseless by KFOR troops. For a week he could not control his
urine," the Washington lawyer who is representing Global Relief,
Roger Simmons, alleges. "It got so bad he asked permission for a
holy man to allow him to commit suicide. The request was denied."
The men were held in solitary confinement, Simmons says, spoken
to only in English, which they do not understand, and talked into
signing documents, also in English. "We don't know what they
signed. We were not given a copy, and nor were they." Then, after
six weeks in custody, the two men were exonerated and released.
There was no apology. Just a few days ago, Simmons adds, KFOR
returned Global Relief's documents and said it had permission to
resume operations in Kosovo ñ a logistical impossibility as long as
the organisation's funds remain frozen by the US government.
A KFOR spokesman confirmed the broad timeline of the men's
detention, although he insisted they had not been mistreated. "The
detainees were held in a secure facility and had access to
representation and visitors. All their rights were carefully
respected... No one was beaten," the spokesman, Gottfried Salchner,
said. In December, a KFOR news release boasted that the Global
Relief operation was "another example of KFOR ensuring a safe and
secure environment... through dynamic, intelligence-led military
operations". Yesterday, even as Lt-Col Salchner acknowledged that
KFOR would take no further action against Global Relief, he insisted
on Nato's right to use "all means" to combat terrorism.
"To my knowledge, there was no basis for what they did at all,"
Simmons says. "What has happened to Global Relief is a
horrendous story. And from Rabih Haddad's standpoint, it is even
It is far from clear where the US government is going with the case.
According to Nubani, government prosecutors at Haddad's most
recent hearing last week even acknowledged that they had no
criminal charges to bring against him or against the charity, leaving
only a deportation proceeding to pursue. Mrs al-Rushaid,
meanwhile, has been served with a deportation order of her own,
along with three of her four children (the fourth was born in the
United States and has citizenship).
Lawsuits are flying in all directions. Global Relief is suing several US
media organs for defamation, and has gone to court to press for the
return of its assets. Congressman Conyers and the American Civil
Liberties Union, meanwhile, have filed a lawsuit to try to open
Haddad's trial hearings to the public. "We have not seen a shred of
evidence linking the charity in any way to terrorism," Conyers says
in a direct challenge to the Justice Department. "If the government
has evidence, they should produce it."
Mrs al-Rushaid says her husband's morale remains strong, despite
everything, and that they still believe in America as a country and
an ideal. "When we came, it was because of what it stood for ñ
equality and freedom for all," she says. "There is a big factor of
disappointment, of course. But I still want to live here, still want to
be part of this land. Hopefully, it's going to change."
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