Foreign Policy News Stories
New Trade Treaty Seeks to Privatize Global Social Services
Source: THE ECOLOGIST, February 2001 Title:
"The Last Frontier" Author: Maude Barlow
Faculty Evaluator: John Kramer. Student
Researchers: Chris Salvano & Adria Cooper
Extensive international corporate media
coverage including: TORONTO STAR, March 3, 2002; THE HERALD (Glasgow),
February 27, 2002; THE HINDU, November 11, 2001; THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN,
August 25, 2001; THE GAZETTE (Montreal), June 15, 2001; and THE
FINANCIAL TIMES (London), October 19, 2000
A global trade agreement now being negotiated
will seek to privatize nearly every government-provided public
service and allow transnational corporations to run them for profit.
The General Agreement on Trade in Services
(GATS) is a proposed free-trade agreement that will attempt to
liberalize/dismantle barriers that protect government-provided
social services. These are social services bestowed by the government
in the name of public welfare. The GATS was established in 1994,
at the conclusion of the "Uruguay Round" of the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). In 1995, the GATS agreement
was adopted by the newly created World Trade Organization (WTO).
Corporations plan to use the GATS agreement
to profit from the privatization of educational systems, health
care systems, child care, energy and municipal water services,
postal services, libraries, museums, and public transportation.
If the GATS agreement is finalized, it will lock in a privatized,
for-profit model for the global economy. GATS/WTO would make it
illegal for a government with privatized services to ever return
to a publicly owned, non-profit model. Any government that disobeys
these WTO rulings will face sanctions. What used to be areas of
common heritage like seed banks, air and water supplies, health
care, and education will be commodified, privatized, and sold
to the highest bidder on the open market. People who cannot afford
these privatized services will be left out.
Services are the fastest growing sector
of international trade. If GATS is implemented, corporations will
reap windfall profits. Health care, education, and water services
are the most potentially lucrative. Global expenditures on water
services exceed $1 trillion each year, on education they exceed
$2 trillion, and on health care they are over $3.5 trillion.
The WTO has hired a private company called
the Global Division for Transnational Education to document policies
that "discriminate against foreign education providers."
The results of this 'study' will be used to pressure countries
with public education systems to relinquish them to the global
The futures of accountability for public
services and of sovereign law are at stake with the GATS decision.
Foreign corporations will have the right to establish themselves
in any GATS/WTO-controlled country and compete against non-profit
or government institutions, such as schools and hospitals, for
The current round of GATS negotiations
has identified three main priorities for future free-trade principles.
First, GATS officials are pushing for "National Treatment"
to be applied across the board. "National Treatment"
would forbid governments from favoring their domestic companies
over foreign-based companies. This idea already applies to certain
services, but GATS will enforce it to include all services. This
will create an expansion of megacorporate access to domestic markets
and further diminish democratic accountability. The economically
dominant Western countries would like to make it illegal for "developing"
countries to reverse this exclusive access to their markets.
Second, GATS officials are seeking to
place restrictions on domestic regulations. This would limit a
government's ability to enact environmental, health, and other
regulations and laws that hinder "free trade." The government
would be required to demonstrate that its laws and regulations
were necessary to achieve a WTO-sanctioned objective, and that
no other commercially friendly alternative was available.
Third, negotiators are attempting to develop
the expansion of "Commercial Presence" rules. These
rules allow an investor in one GATS-controlled country to establish
a presence in any other GATS country. The investor will not only
be allowed to compete against private suppliers for business,
but will also be allowed to compete against publicly funded institutions
and services for public funds.
This potential expansion of GATS/WTO authority
into the day-to-day business of governments will make it nearly
impossible for citizens to exercise democratic control over the
future of traditionally public services. One American trade official
summed up the GATS/WTO process by saying, "Basically, it
won't stop until foreigners finally start to think like Americans,
act like Americans, and most of all shop like Americans."
UPDATE BY AUTHOR MAUDE BARLOW: The General
Agreement on Trade in Services is the most far-reaching negotiation
ever undertaken on the trade in services and will effect the lives
of every human being on the planet. Yet very few people know that
it is taking place. If the governments of the WTO are successful
in coming to a substantive agreement, by 2005, services such as
health care, water, culture and education, among many others,
will be subject to the rules and disciplines of the WTO, and launched
on an irreversible path to private control.
Since my original story was printed, negotiations
in Geneva have intensified. By June 30, 2002, every country is
to have submitted to every other country its wish list of services
that it wants included in negotiations, and by March 31,2003,
each country is to submit its responses. All of this is being
done behind closed doors, so that citizens are left to guess what
services their governments are trading away. However, civil society
groups did secure a leaked copy of the country demands of the
European Commission, and they are shocking. The EC's demands include
all aspects of culture, including print and broadcasting, postal
services, energy services, water, hydroelectricity, telecommunications,
and pension funds, among others. In addition, at the December
2001, WTO Ministerial meeting in Doha, Qatar, a new provision
was added that commits countries to take down "tariff and
non-tariff barriers" to environmental services-including
The mainstream press has all but ignored
this story. It is difficult to grasp and complicated to explain.
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington,
and the ensuing war, it is even easier for governments, corporate
lobby groups, and global institutions like the WTO to meet in
total privacy, with very few enquiring journalists to deal with.
There is, however, excellent material
on the GATS available. Public Citizen Alliance for Democracy,
Friends of the Earth International, and Public Services International
all have information available. Information can also be found
at The Council of Canadians, <www.canadians.org>, Polaris
Institute <www.polaris institute.org>, and the Canadian
Centre for Policy Alternatives <www.policy alternatives.ca>.
United States' Policies in Colombia Support
Sources: COUNTERPUNCH, July 1-15, 2001
Title: "Blueprints for the Colombian War" Authors: Alexander
Cockburn & Jeffrey St. Clair
ASHEVILLE GLOBAL REPORT, October 4, 2001
Title: "Colombian Army and Police Still Working With Paramilitaries"
Author: Jim Lobe
STEELABOR, May/June 2001 Title: "Colombian
Trade Unionists Need U.S. Help" Authors: Dan Kovalik &
RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH NEWS,
December 7, 2000 Title: "Echoes of Vietnam" Author:
Portions of this story were covered by
the following mainstream U.S. sources: ABC's 20/20; The Los Angeles
Times, The New York Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Washington
Post, U.S. News & World Report
Faculty Evaluators: Jorge Porras &
Fred Fletcher. Student Researchers: Lauren Renison, Adam Cimino,
Erik Wagle, & Gabrielle Mitchell.
Over the past two years, Colombia has
been Washington's third largest recipient of foreign aid, behind
only Israel and Egypt. In July of 2000, the U.S. Congress approved
a $1.3 billion war package for Colombia to support President Pastrana's
"Plan Colombia." Plan Colombia is a $7.5 billion counternarcotics
initiative. In addition to this financial support, the U.S. also
trains the Colombian military.
Colombia's annual murder rate is 30,000.
It is reported that around 19,000 of these murders are linked
to illegal right-wing paramilitary forces. Many leaders of these
paramilitary groups were once officers in the Colombian military,
trained at the U.S.-sponsored School of the Americas (SOA).
According to the Human Rights Watch Report,
a 120-page report titled "The 'Sixth Division': Military-Paramilitary
Ties and U.S. Policy in Colombia," Colombian armed forces
and police continue to work closely with right-wing paramilitary
groups. The government of President Pastrana and the U.S. administration
have played down evidence of this cooperation. Author Jim Lobe
says that Human Rights Watch holds the Pastrana Administration
responsible for the current, violent situation because of its
dramatic and costly failure to take prompt, effective control
of security forces, break their persistent ties to paramilitary
groups, and ensure respect for human rights.
Authors Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey
St. Clair contend that the war in Colombia isn't about drugs.
It's about the annihilation of popular uprisings by Indian peasants
fending off the ravages of oil companies, cattle barons, and mining
firms. It is a counterinsurgency war, designed to clear the way
for American corporations to set up shop in Colombia.
Cockburn and St. Clair examined two Defense
Department commissioned reports, the RAND Report and a paper written
by Gabriel Marcella, titled "Plan Colombia: The Strategic
and Operational Imperatives." Both reports recommend that
the U.S. step up its military involvement in Colombia. In addition,
the reports make several admissions about the paramilitaries and
their links to the drug trade, the human rights abuses by the
U.S.-trained Colombian military, and the irrationality of crop
Throughout these past two years, Colombian
citizens have been the victims of human rights atrocities committed
by the U.S.-trained Colombian military and linked paramilitaries.
Trade unionists and human rights activists face murder, torture,
and harassment. It is reported that Latin America remains the
most dangerous place in the world for trade unionists. Since 1986,
some 4,000 trade unionists have been murdered in Colombia. In
2000 alone, more trade unionists were killed in Colombia than
in the whole world in 1999.
Another problem resulting from the Colombian
"drug war" has been the health consequences of the U.S.-sponsored
aerial fumigation. Since January 2001, Colombian aircraft have
been spraying toxic herbicides over Colombian fields in order
to kill opium poppy and coca plants. These sprayings are killing
food crops that indigenous Colombians depend on for survival,
as well as harming their health. The sprayings have killed fish,
livestock, and have contaminated water supplies.
U.S. military aid is not improving conditions
for the people of Colombia, but rather supporting a war against
its citizens and those who are fighting for social justice. According
to an American member of the international steelworker delegation,
Jesse Isbell, who recently visited Columbia, "The U.S. says
one thing to the American public when in reality it is [doing]
something totally different. Our government portrays this as a
drug war against cocaine, but all we are doing is keeping an ineffective
government in power."
COMMENTS BY TONY WHITE, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY,
SONOMA STATE UNIVERSITY:
Truth is often the first casualty of war
and the "war on drugs" is no exception. Clinton's endorsement
of Plan Colombia and George W.'s expansion of U.S. support for
the incompetent and corrupt government of Colombia has very little
to do with the supply of cocaine, but has a lot to do with protecting
American mining, oil, and logging interests in the region. Our
support of Plan Colombia also involves us in a decades-long civil
war between the haves and have-nots. Our allies include the paramilitary
groups which have committed numerous atrocities. The resort to
aerial spraying threatens other crops and the health of Colombian
peasants and may increase the number of guerrillas. Given the
nature of the conflict and the terrain, this policy risks another
UPDATE BY AUTHOR DAN KOVALIC: The story
of trade union assassination portrayed in the article has played
an important role in the attempt to expose U.S. military aid to
Colombia for what it is-the support for right-wing counterinsurgents
who are committing 80 percent of the human rights abuses in Colombia.
These forces, the paramilitaries, are targeting mostly unarmed
activists, such as trade unionists, peace activists, and human
rights workers who are challenging the unjust social order in
Colombia. This story of the anti-union violence in particular
has helped to create unprecedented links between trade unionists
and peace activists who are now working together to oppose U.S.
military aid to Colombia.
Following this story, the USWA, along
with the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF), brought lawsuits
against both Coca-Cola and Drummond Company for their role in
human rights abuses in Colombia. In particular, the USWA and ILRF
brought claims against Drummond for the murder of the trade unionists,
which happened while, as described in the story, the USWA delegation
was in Colombia.
Sadly, however, the trade union assassinations
have continued unabated, and have in fact increased in Colombia,
with over 160 trade unionists being killed there last year. In
addition, the U.S. military aid has continued despite these assassinations
and our attempts to publicize them. Indeed, the U.S. Congress
is presently debating whether to explicitly expand the role of
the U.S. in Colombia by, for the first time, expressly earmarking
aid for (1) counterinsurgency efforts; and (2) to protect oil
pipelines in Colombia, like those of Occidental Oil, for example.
The USWA is attempting to ameliorate the
effects of the military buildup and the violence through its Colombia
Solidarity Fund, which has and continues to provide support for
trade unionists under threat to relocate, sometimes within Colombia,
sometimes out of the country, to find safe havens. Those wishing
to support this effort can write to: Colombia Solidarity Fund,
c/o Solidarity Center, 1925 K Street NW, Suite 300, Washington,
While the mainstream press did not respond
to the story as such, the media has presented some coverage of
the two lawsuits mentioned above. In covering these lawsuits,
the media has mentioned the anti-union violence described in the
story. However, the media has been reluctant to give much credence
to the allegations of the Colombian plaintiffs. For its part,
Time magazine did a wonderful job of reporting the Coca-Cola lawsuit,
filed in the U.S. by U.S. institutions and lawyers, and about
the anti-union violence in Colombia. Curiously, however, Time
chose to print this story in every edition in the world except
the United States. I had to obtain a copy of the article from
a friend in Canada where it was published.
You can obtain more information about
this story, and about what actions you can take to help, from
the Steelabor Web site, as well as <www.cokewatch.org>,
<www.ilrf.org> and the web sites of Witness for Peace and
Human Rights Watch.
UPDATE BY AUTHOR RACHEL MASSEY: The Bush
Administration's requests for renewed funds to support the war
in Colombia have led to significant debate in Congress, but simple
questions about the spray campaigns still have not been answered.
For example, the State Department has not clarified what formulations
of glyphosate herbicides have been or will be used in the spray
campaigns. Toxicity characteristics vary among formulations, so
this is crucial information. The State Department also continues
to keep secret the ingredients of other chemicals, such as surfactants
and anti-foaming agents, that are added to the mix before application
In the Foreign Appropriations Bill for
2002, Congress established three criteria that must be met in
order for the spray campaigns to continue. The bill requires the
secretary of state to consult with the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Centers
for Disease Control (CDC) to determine that spray procedures in
Colombia are consistent with U.S. Iabel requirements for herbicide
application, do not violate Colombian laws, and do not "pose
unreasonable risks or adverse effects to humans or the environment."
The State Department must also certify that procedures exist for
compensating harm to human health or agricultural crops. As of
mid-June 2002, the State Department's consultations with EPA are
still in progress. Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Bogota has informed
representatives of U.S. nongovernmental organizations that a new
round of spray campaigns is expected to begin in early July.
The State Department has continued to
produce and disseminate misleading information about the effects
of the spray campaigns. For example, in December 2000, an investigative
report published in the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported
an outbreak of severe skin problems among small children in the
Colombian community of Aponte, Department of Narino, in the aftermath
of spraying. Responding to this article, the U.S. Embassy in Bogota
commissioned a report on health patterns in the Department of
Narino. The report claims to find no evidence of adverse effects
from the spray campaigns. The report is clearly designed to achieve
the desired answers; it includes no explanation of study methodology,
and considers only 23 case reports, presenting these as the totality
of data available for a period of about eight months. In addition,
the report suggests that the doctor who originally treated the
affected children was intimidated into silence. According to the
report, after an initial telephone conversation with the report's
authors, the doctor left his place of work permanently, leaving
no forwarding contact information. This story illustrates some
of the difficulties that Colombian citizens face when they speak
publicly about the health effects of the "war on drugs.'
Several U.S. and European organizations
are working to stop the spray campaigns. Information and updates
are available from Amazon Alliance, Tel: (202) 785-3334, <www.amazonalliance.org>;
Center for International Policy. Tel: (202) 232-3317, <www.ciponline.org>;
Earthjustice, Tel: (510) 550-6700, <www.earthjustice.org>;
Institute for Science and Interdisciplinary Studies, Tel: (413)
5595582, <http://isis.hampshire.edu>; Latin America Working
Group, Tel: (202) 546-7010, <www.lawg.org>; and Transnational
Institute, <www.tni.org/drugs/>. For listings of new documents
on the spray campaigns, see the U.S. Fumigation Information Web
site <www.usfumigation.org>. To join a delegation to Colombia
and interact with Colombian citizens who are working for peace
there, contact: Witness for Peace, Tel: (202) 588-1471, <www.witnessforpeace.org>.
Bush Administration Hampered FBI Investigation
into Bin Laden Family Before 9-11
Sources: PULSE OF THE TWIN CITIES, January
16, 2002 Title: "French Book Indicts Bush Administration"
Author: Amanda Luker
TIMES OF INDIA, November 8, 2001
Title: "Bush Took FBI Agents Off
bin Laden Family Trail" Author: Rashmee Z. Ahmed
THE GUARDIAN (London), November 7, 2001
Title: "FBI and U.S. Spy Agents Say
Bush Spiked bin Laden Probes Before 11 September"
Authors: Greg Palast and David Pallister
Faculty Evaluator: Catherine Nelson Student
Researchers: Donald Yoon & David Immel
Corporate media coverage: LOS ANGELES
TIMES, January 13, 2002
A French book Bin Laden, la verite interdite
(Bin Laden, The Forbidden Truth) claims that the Bush Administration
halted investigations into terrorist activities related to the
bin Laden family and began planning for a war against Afghanistan
The authors, Jean-Charles Brisard and
Guillaume Dasquie, are French intelligence analysts. Dasquie,
an investigative reporter, publishes Intelligence Online, a respected
newsletter on economics and diplomacy. Brisard worked for French
secret services and in 1997 wrote a report on the Al Qaeda network.
In 1996, high-placed intelligence sources
in Washington told The Guardian, "There were always constraints
on investigating the Saudis." The authors allege that under
the influence of U.S. oil companies, George W. Bush and his administration
initially halted investigations into terrorism, while bargaining
with the Taliban to deliver Osama bin Laden in exchange for economic
aid and political recognition. The book goes on to reveal that
former FBI deputy director John O'Neill resigned in July of 2001
in protest over the obstruction of terrorist investigations. According
to O'Neill, "The main obstacles to investigating Islamic
terrorism were U.S. oil corporate interests and the role played
by Saudi Arabia in it." The restrictions were said to have
worsened after the Bush Administration took over. Intelligence
agencies were told to "back off" from investigations
involving other members of the bin Laden family, the Saudi royals,
and possible Saudi links to the acquisition of nuclear weapons
by Pakistan. John O'Neill died on 9-11 in the World Trade Center.
An FBI file coded 199, which means a case
involving national security, records that Abdullah bin Laden,
who lived in Washington, originally had a file opened on him "because
of his relationship with the Saudi-funded World Assembly of Muslim
Youth-a suspected terrorist organization." The BBC reiterated
a well-known claim, made by one of George W. Bush's former business
partners, that Bush made his first million dollars 20 years ago
from a company financed by Osama's elder brother, Salem. It has
also been revealed that both the Bushs and the bin Ladens had
lucrative stakes in the Carlyle Group, a private investment firm
that has grown to be one of the largest investors in U.S. defense
and communications contracts.
Brisard and Dasquie contend that the government's
main objective in Afghanistan was to unite the Taliban regime
in order to gain access to the oil and gas reserves in Central
Asia. They report that the Bush Administration began negotiations
with the Taliban directly after coming into power and representatives
met several times in Washington, Islamabad, and Berlin.
There were also claims that the last meeting
between the United States and Taliban representatives took place
only five weeks before the attacks in New York and Washington.
Long before the 9-11 attacks, the United
States had decided to invade Afghanistan in the interest of oil.
In February of 1998, at the hearing before a subgroup of the Committee
on International Relations, Congress discussed ways to deal with
Afghanistan to make way for an oil pipeline. Jane's Defense Newsletter
reported in March 2001 that an invasion of Afghanistan was being
Times of India reported that in June of
2001, the U.S. government told India that there would be an invasion
of Afghanistan in October of that year. By July of 2001, George
Arney, with the BBC, also reported the planned invasion.
UPDATE BY AUTHOR AMANDA LUKER: Paula Zahnwas
right. If Bin Laden: laverite interdite is correct, it is huge.
But, the national media will never give it a second glance.
The release of this book not only corroborates
other investigations placing U.S. big oil interests in Central
Asia negotiating a pipeline in the 1990s, but also exposes oil
interests in the Bush Administration, including Vice President
Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, and Bush,
both senior and junior. With this book, Guillaume Dasquie and
Jean-Charles Brisard question America's wartime intentions: Is
the United States protecting "enduring freedom" or are
the bombings really a means of securing a pliant regime in Afghanistan
so the United States can gain control over future oil veins pumping
across the Middle East?
The mainstream coverage was dismissive.
Dr. Daniel Goure, member of the conservative think tank The Lexington
Institute, casually dismissed it on Minnesota Public Radio as
a conspiracy theory, "debunked right, left, and center,"
even comparing it to the theory that Americans never went to the
moon, that "it was all done in a studio in Hollywood."
He neglects to mention the book was not written by conspiracy
nuts but by two esteemed French intelligence experts. And who
debunked it? He doesn't say.
At this moment [June 2002], the media
is just beginning to skewer Bush for not increasing national security
while knowing Taliban threats before September 11. Some are beginning
to ask, "If he knew this, what else did he know?" Just
a few months ago, the notion that Bush knew pre-September 11 was
also dismissed as a conspiracy theory.
Americans should be given tools to questions
those in power. Not every theory will be correct, but I, for one,
am desperately curious what two European intelligence experts
would have to say about U.S. foreign policy.
Dasquie and Brisard's book is still only
available in French. On the Web site Intelligence Online (which
Dasquie edits), the first chapter can be viewed in French: <www.intelligenceonline.com>,
e-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>. For more information,
the following resources may be useful: Consortium News' Bush Family
"Oiligarchy" series <http://www.consortiumnews.com/2000/081400al.html>;
Z Net <www.zmag.org>; Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and
the Making of an American President by J. H. Hatfield and Mark
Crispin Miller; and Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International
Terrorism by John K. Cooley.
UPATE BY THE GUARDIAN FOR AUTHOR GREG
PALAST Within two months of the attack on the World Trade Center,
The Guardian investigative team and BBC Television's Newsnight
obtained documents, evidence, and insider interviews exposing
the Bush Administration's pre-September 11 directives to intelligence
agencies blocking inquiries into the bin Laden family and Saudi
Arabian financing of terror networks. Driving this policy of deliberate
blindness, we have further reported, were the ill combination
of petroleum politics and financial conflicts of interest: the
Bush family and allies deep ties to Saudi Arabian royals, banks
and arms dealers.
The story should be understood as one
of our continuing series on Bush family finances by the Guardian
Group (The Guardian and The Observer) and BBC Newsnight. The first
of these in November 2000 exposed the purge of black voters from
Florida's voter rolls that the U.S. Civil Rights Commission called
"the first hard evidence of deliberate violations of civil
The team's reports have been virtually
blacked-out in the USA-though widely reported and lauded worldwide;
in the case of the bin Laden report, from the Times of India across
to Latin America's top publications. American journalist Palast
had to relocate to Europe to write and broadcast this series.
Not all responses are kind. The story
(and a follow-up report by BBC) drew threats of lawsuit from a
Saudi "charity." This is serious stuff in a land lacking
a First Amendment. A mining corporation that hired the senior
Bush as a consultant did sue The Guardian over one of the reports;
the successful defense bled our thin finances.
Despite the cost (admittedly with some
of our network and newspaper executives biting their nails) we
have soldiered on with the investigations. Our general theme-Bush
family finances and oil-led us to break the story this month (again,
not covered in the USA), that Hugo Chavez survived an attempted
coup d'etat because of warnings to him in advance by the secretary-general
On the intelligence story, we are debriefing
an arms dealer and other sources about a 1996 meeting between
Al Qaeda's financial representative, gun merchants, and Saudi
royals. Most important to us are U.S. agencies' knowledge of the
meeting and their follow-up (or lack ). The print report also
notes "Saudi links to the acquisition of nuclear weapons
by Pakistan." The creation of the "Islamic" bomb
is another target of our research.
Dan Rather, a guest on our BBC program
last week, admitted the U.S. press coverage of bin Laden and war
has been twisted into an unquestioning outlet of official PR.
As a result, American public debate has been reduced to shouting
between conspiracy theorists and the willfully ignorant "patriots."
Our reports, that economic interests blinded official America
to security threats, is not part of the dialogue.
Recognition in the U.S. by Project Censored
would encourage BBC and The Guardian's risk-taking work.
Note: These stories are the result of
a large team effort. Therefore, we would appreciate your recognizing
the work of BBC Newsnight producer Meirion Jones and Guardian
chief of investigations, David Leigh.
In addition, it is important to include
with The Guardian story, the transcripts of the companion November
7, 2001 BBC Newsnight (see information below)- especially as Newsnight
put up all the cash for this particularly costly segment of the
BBC: Did Bush Turn a Blind Eye to Terrorism?:
UPDATE BY AUTHOR DAVID PALLISTER. I endorse
Greg Palast's update response. I would add that this was a significant
story in exposing the ultrasensitive relationship that exists
between the U.S. and Saudi (because of oil, obviously), which
tends to preclude any recognition of the fact that Saudi has provided
the money, the cadres, and the ideology that had driven Al Qaeda.
The Guardian has investigated in depth the connections between
Saudi-sponsored charities and terrorism since 9-11, as well as
exposing the appalling human rights record of the Saudi regime
in terms on torturing citizens of Britain, Belgium, and Canada
to make forced and false confessions of involvement in terrorist
U.S. Intentionally Destroyed Iraq's Water
Source: THE PROGRESSIVE, <www.progressive.org>,
September 2001 Title: "The Secret Behind the Sanctions: How
the U.S. Intentionally Destroyed Iraq's Water Supply" Author:
Thomas J. Nagy www.progressive.org
Faculty Evaluator: Rick Luttmann
Student Researchers: Adria Cooper, Erik
Wagle, Adam Cimino & Chris Salvano
During the Gulf War, the United States
deliberately bombed Iraq's water system. After the war, the U.S.
pushed sanctions to prevent importation of necessary supplies
for water purification. These actions resulted in the deaths of
thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians many of whom were young
children. Documents have been obtained from the Defense Intelligence
Agency (DIA), which prove that the Pentagon was fully aware of
the mortal impacts on civilians in Iraq and was actually monitoring
the degradation of Iraq's water supply. The destruction of civilian
infrastructures necessary for health and welfare is a direct violation
of the Geneva Convention.
After the Gulf War, the United Nations
applied sanctions against Iraq, which denied the importation of
specialized equipment and chemicals, such as chlorine for purification
of water. There are six documents that have been partially declassified
and can be found on the Pentagon's Web site at <www.gulflink.osd.mil>.
These documents include information that prove that the United
States was fully aware of the costs to civilians, especially children,
by upholding the sanctions against purification of Iraq's water
The primary document is dated January
22, 1991, and is titled, "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities."
This document predicts what will take place when Iraq can no longer
import the vital commodities to cleanse their water supply. It
states that epidemics and disease outbreaks may occur because
of pollutants and bacteria that exist in unpurified water. The
document acknowledges the fact that without purified drinking
water, the manufacturing of food and medicine will also be affected.
The possibilities of Iraqis obtaining clean water, despite sanctions,
along with a timetable describing the degradation of Iraq's water
supply was also addressed.
The remaining five documents from the
DIA confirm the Pentagon's monitoring of the situation in Iraq.
In more than one document, discussion of the likely outbreaks
of diseases and how they affect civilians, "particularly
children," is discussed in great detail. The final document
titled, "Iraq: Assessment of Current Health Threats and Capabilities,"
is dated November 15,1991, and discusses the development of a
counter-propaganda strategy that would blame Saddam Hussein for
the lack of safe water in Iraq.
The United States' insistence on using
this type of sanction against Iraq is in direct violation of the
Geneva Convention. The Geneva Convention was created in 1979 to
protect the victims of international armed conflict. It states,
"It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless,
objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population
such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installation
and supplies, and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of
denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population
or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order
to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any
Although two Democratic Representatives,
Cynthia McKinney from Georgia and Tony Hall from Ohio, have spoken
out about the degradation of Iraq's water supply and its civilian
targets, no acknowledgment of violations has been made. The U.S.
policy of destroying the water treatment system of Iraq and preventing
its reestablishment has been pursued for more than a decade. The
United Nations estimates that more than 500,000 Iraqi children
have died as a result of sanctions and that unclean water is a
major contributor to these deaths.
UPDATE BY THOMAS NAGY: "The Secret
Behind the Sanctions" gives Americans an ax to break out
of the cocoon of denial enveloping the genocidal intent and effects
of nearly 12 years of economic sanctions against the people of
Iraq. Tragically and criminally, these CIA documents were actively
hidden from the American people till 1995 by which time a compliant
mainstream media had driven the fatal lies of genocide denial
deep into the American psyche.
Since the publication of the story, several
anti-sanctions groups have reported that The Progressive article
ranks among the most powerful in persuading the public of the
evil of the sanctions. The article opened a new front against
sanctions with the publication of David Duncan's "A Prayer
for Children and Water" and Ned Breslin's "Water as
a Weapon of War." Now the environmental community and water
engineering community are alerted to the updated horror of the
U.S. tactic of poisoning wells. The article has now been translated
into Spanish, Danish, and Swedish with summaries available in
French and German and stories on the content of the article appearing
in newspapers as geographically removed as Katmandu, Nepal; Cork,
Ireland; and Moscow, Russia. In the U.S., the mainstream media
has ducked and covered with the exception of the Orlando Sentinel,
the Madison Capital Times, and the National Catholic Reporter.
In contrast, U.S. alternative media has acted honorably, including
Democracy Now and CounterSpin. Until recently the only venue in
Washington, D.C. to discuss the content of the article was at
the Department of Defense ethics conference, JSCOPE. Recently
I was able to reach audiences in the belly of the beast at a teach-in
at American University, then at the World Congress of the International
Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War-Physicians for Social
My advice to people working in this area
is to look for editors, reporters, and advocates of the integrity
of Matt Rothschild, Felicity Arbuthnot, and Sam Husseini and allies
in the peace movement abroad (e.g., McMaster University and University
Tom Nagy is an ex-refugee, ex-public health
postdoctoral fellow, pacifist, parent, and professor at George
Washington University in Washington, D.C.
NAFTA Destroys Farming Communities in
U.S. and Abroad
Sources: FELLOWSHIP MAGAZINE, December
2000/January 2001 Title: "NAFTA's Devastating Effects are
Clear in Mexico, Haiti" Author: Anita Martin
THE HIGHTOWER LOWDOWN, September 2001
Title: "NAFTA Gives the Shaft to North America's Farmers"
Author: Jim Hightower
Faculty Evaluators: Tony White & Al
Wahrhaftig Student Researchers: Adam Cimino, Erik Wagle &
The North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are responsible
for the impoverishment of and loss of many small farms in Mexico
and Haiti. NAFTA is also causing the economic destruction of rural
farming communities in the United States and Canada. The resulting
loss of rural employment has created a landslide of socioeconomic
and environmental consequences that are worsening with the continued
dismantling and deregulation of trade barriers.
When NAFTA came before Congress in 1993,
U.S. farmers were told that the agreement would open the borders
of Mexico and Canada, enabling them to sell their superior products
and achieve previously unknown prosperity. Corporations who operate
throughout the Americas, such as Tyson and Cargill, have since
used the farming surplus to drive down costs, pitting farmers
against each other and prohibiting countries from taking protective
actions. These same corporations have entered into massive farming
ventures outside the U.S. and use NAFTA to import cheaper agricultural
products back into this country, further undermining the small
farmers in the U.S. Since the enactment of NAFTA, 80 percent of
foodstuffs coming into the U.S. are products that displace crops
raised here at home. NAFTA has allowed multinational megacorporations
to increase production in Mexico, where they can profit from much
cheaper labor, as well as freely use chemicals and pesticides
banned in the U.S..
In both Mexico and Haiti, NAFTA policies
have caused an exodus from rural areas forcing people to live
in urban slums and accept low paid sweatshop labor. Farmers in
Mexico, unable to compete with the large-scale importation and
chemical-intensive mass production of U.S. agricultural corporations,
are swimming in a corn surplus that has swelled approximately
450 percent since NAFTA's implementation. Haiti's deregulation
of trade with the U.S. has destroyed the island's rice industry
in a similar manner. Urban slums, engorged with rural economic
refugees, are contributing to the breakdown of cultural traditions
and public authority, making the growing masses increasingly ungovernable.
The Mexican government clashes violently
with any organized protest of NAFTA. Dissent in Chiapas and in
Central Mexico has lead to the reported arrests, injuries, and
deaths of dozens of activists. Community leaders like Minister
Lucius Walker, executive of the Interreligious Foundation for
Community Organization, state that, "The biggest challenge
facing all of us in this new millennium is to build a citizens'
movement to counter the corporate captivity of the Americas."
The 1993 NAFTA agreement desolated small
farming communities in the U.S. and in Mexico and Haiti. With
the scheduled 2009 lift on tariffs and import restrictions, as
well as Bush's proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)
adding 31 more countries to the NAFTA agreement, many additional
farming communities are in danger.
UPDATE BY AUTHOR JIM HIGHTOWER The story
created such traction among lowdown readers because of its ability
to dispel many of the mistruths, half-truths, distortions, and
outright lies purported by NAFTA proponents and the Bush Administration.
By holding the NAFTA rhetoric up for comparison with the hard,
statistical data, citizens can make objective judgments about
the effectiveness (or, in this case, failure) of this policy.
Careful consideration of NAFTA's record
is central to discussions of Fast Track and the FTAA legislation
now awaiting a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives in June.
The proposed NAFTA expansion, formally called the Free Trade Area
of the Americas (FTAA), would spread NAFTA's rules to an additional
31 Latin American and Caribbean nations by 2005. The publicized
goal of the FTAA proposal is to facilitate trade and deepen economic
integration by expanding the NAFTA provisions that eliminate tariff
and non-tariff barriers to trade and investment throughout the
Compounding the situation, the recently
passed 2002 Farm Bill expands Federal subsidies for program crops
and adds new commodities, causing farmers to be more dependent
on the federal government. If it were merely an act of largesse
by a benevolent government, it might be looked upon more favorably.
But in light of the impending Congressional elections in key farming
regions where races are expected to be hotly contested, the move
is merely Bush-Rove "strategy" designed to give the
GOP control of both houses of Congress.
A person can get more information on this
issue by contacting the public's number one trade-scheme watchdog,
Global Trade Watch <www.tradewatch.org/>, 215 Pennsylvania
Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20003; Tel: (202) 546-4611, or Mobilization
for Global Justice <www.globalizethis.org/>, Tel: (202)
What's next? The World Bank and IMF meet
in late September and early October in Washington, DC. Come to
DC this summer to participate in protest planning.
CIA Double Deals In Macedonia
June 14, 2001 Title: "America at War in Macedonia" Author:
<WWW.GLOBALRESEARCH.CA>, July 26,
2001 Title: "NATO Invades Macedonia" Author: Michel
Faculty Evaluators: Elizabeth Burch, Phil
Beard & John Lund Student Researchers: Alessandra Diana &
David V. Immel
The CIA destabilized the political balance
in Macedonia to allow easier access for a U.S.-British owned oil
pipeline, and to prevent Macedonia from entering the European
union (EU), thereby strengthening the U.S. dollar in a German
deutschmark dominated region.
Without Macedonia in the EU, British and
U.S. oil companies have an advantage over European counterparts
in building oil pipelines. Actions toward destabilization intend
to impose economic control over national currencies, and protect
British-U.S. oil companies, such as BP-Amoco-ARCO, Chevron, and
Texaco against Europe's TotalFinaElf. The British-U.S. consortium
controls the AMBO Trans-Balkans pipeline project linking the Bulgarian
port of Burgas to Vlore on the AlbanianAdriatic coastline. The
power game is designed to increase British-U.S. domination in
the region by distancing Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Albania from
the influence of EU countries such as Germany, Italy, France,
and Belgium. It's an effort supported by Wall Street's financial
establishment, to destabilize and discredit the deutschmark and
the Euro, with hopes of imposing the U.S. dollar as the sole currency
for the region.
The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the
National Liberation Army (NLA) were trained in Macedonia by British
Special Forces and equipped by the CIA. British military sources
confirm that Gezim Ostremi, NLA Commander, was sponsored by the
U.N. and trained by British Special Forces to head the Kosovo
Protection Corps (KPC). When Ostremi left his job as a United
Nations Officer to join the NLA, the commander remained on the
U.N. payroll. Attacks within Macedonia by the NLA/KLA last year,
coincided chronologically with the process of EU enlargement and
the signing of the historic Stabilization and Association Agreement
(SAA) between the EU and Macedonia. These attacks paved the way
for further U.S. military and political presence in the region.
In a strange twist the CIA, NATO, and
British Special Forces provided weapons and training to the NLA/KLA
terrorists, while at the same time, Germany provided Macedonia's
security forces with all-terrain vehicles, advanced weapons, and
equipment to protect themselves from NLA/KLA attacks. U.S. military
advisers, on assignment to the NLA/KLA through private mercenary
companies, remained in contact with NATO and U.S. military and
intelligence planners. It was Washington and London who decided
on the broad direction of NLA/KLA military operations in Macedonia.
Following the August 2001 Framework Peace
Agreement, 3,500 armed NATO troops entered Macedonia with the
intent of disarming Albanian rebels. Washington's humanitarian
efforts for the NLA/KLA suggested its intent to protect the terrorists
rather then disarm them. Vice President Dick Cheney's former firm,
Halliburton Energy, is directly linked to the AMBO's Trans-Balkans
Last year's conflict in Macedonia is a
small part of a growing rift between the Anglo-American and European
interests in the Balkans. In the wake of the war in Yugoslavia,
Britain has allied itself with the U.S. and severed many of its
ties with Germany, France, and Italy. Washington's design is to
ensure the dominance of the U.S. military-industrial complex,
in alliance with Britain's major defense contractors, and British-U.S.
oil. These developments establish significant control over strategic
pipelines, transportation, and communication corridors in the
Balkans, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union.
UPDATE BY AUTHOR MICHEL CHOSSUDOVSKY:
While the CIA admits that Osama bin Laden was an "intelligence
asset" during the Cold War, the relationship is said to go
The fact that Al Qaeda continues to support
KLA terrorist operations in Macedonia, with the full support of
NATO and the U.S. government, has been carefully overlooked. With
the complicity of NATO and the U.S. State Department, mujahideen
mercenaries from the Middle East and Central Asia were first recruited
to fight in the ranks of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in 1998-99,
largely supporting NATO's war effort.
Bin Laden had visited Albania himself.
His was one of several fundamentalist groups that had sent units
to fight in Kosovo. He is believed to have established an operation
in Albania in 1994. Albanian sources say Sali Berisha, who was
then president, had links with some groups that later proved to
be extreme fundamentalists. (Sunday Times, London, November 29,
Among the foreign mercenaries now fighting
in Macedonia, in the ranks of self-proclaimed National Liberation
Army (NLA), are mujahideen from the Middle East and the Central
Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. Also within the KLA's
proxy force in Macedonia are senior U.S. military advisers from
a private mercenary outfit on contract to the Pentagon (Scotland
on Sunday, Glasgow, June 15,2001).
Extensively documented by the Macedonian
press and statements of the Macedonian authorities, the U.S. government
and the "Islamic Militant Network" are working hand
in glove in supporting and financing the self-proclaimed National
Liberation Army (NLA), involved in the terrorist attacks in Macedonia.
The NLA is a proxy of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). In turn
the KLA and the U.N.sponsored Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) are
identical institutions with the same commanders and military personnel.
KPC commanders on U.N. salaries are fighting in the NLA together
with the Mujahideen. In a bitter twist, while supported and financed
by Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda, the NLA/KLA is also supported by
NATO and the United Nations Mission to Kosovo (UNMIK).
The NLA/KLA terrorists are funded by U.S.
military aid, the United Nations peace-keeping budget, as well
as by several Islamic organizations including Osama bin Laden's
Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, drug money is being used to finance the terrorists
with the complicity of the U.S. government. U.S. military advisers
mingle with mujahideen within the same paramilitary force, and
western mercenaries from NATO countries fight alongside mujahideen
recruited in the Middle East and Central Asia.
The Bush Administration has stated that
it has proof that Osama bin Laden is behind the attacks on the
WTC and the Pentagon. A major war, supposedly "against international
terrorism," has been launched by the Bush Administration.
In Macedonia, however, the evidence amply confirms that the Bush
Administration (together with NATO) is directly supporting terrorist
organizations that have links to A1 Qaeda. In other words, the
Bush Administration is harboring international terrorism as part
of its foreign policy agenda. The main justification for waging
the so-called war on terrorism has been a total fabrication. The
American people have been deliberately and consciously misled
by their government into supporting a major military adventure
that affects our collective future.
Bush Appoints Former Criminals to Key
Sources: THE NATION, May 7, 2001 Title:
"Bush's Contra Buddies" Author: Peter Kornbluh
IN THESE TIMES, August 6, 2001 Title:
"Public Serpent; Iran-Contra Villain Elliott Abrams is Back
in Action" Author: Terry Allen
EXTRA, September/October 2001 Title: "Scandal?
What Scandal?" Author: Terry Allen
THE GUARDIAN, February 8, 2002 Title:
"Friends of Terrorism" Author: Duncan Campbell
THE GUARDIAN, February 18, 2002 "No
More Mr. Scrupulous Guy" Author: John Sutherland
WASHINGTONIAN, April 2002 Title: "True
or False: Iran-Contra's John Poindexter is Back at the Pentagon"
Author: Michael Zuckerman
Corporate media coverage: THE NEW YORK
TIMES, August 1, 2001 LOS ANGELES TIMES, January 12, 2002 and
September 30, 2001 and BALTIMORE SUN, September 7, 2001.
NOTE: While a number of corporate media
newspapers mentioned the story in short briefs or on single individuals,
a full look at the issue was ignored by most of the U.S. press.
Faculty Evaluator: Francisco Vazquez Student
Researchers: David Immel, Joshua Travers & Chris Salvano
Since becoming president, George Bush
has brought back into government service men who were discredited
by criminal involvement in the Iran-Contra affair,
lying to Congress, and other felonies
while working for his father George Bush, Senior, and Ronald Reagan.
In February 2001, John Poindexter was
appointed to head the new Information Awareness Office (IAO),
an offshoot of the Pentagon-based Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA). After serving as Reagan's National Security Advisor,
John Poindexter was charged and found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction
of justice, and the destruction of evidence as he played a central
role in the IranContra affair. Costa Rica has officially declared
Poindexter to be a drug trafficker, and has barred him from entering
Poindexter's new job at IAO will supply
federal agents with "instant" analysis of private e-mail
and telephone conversations. As the vice president of Syntek Technologies,
Poindexter helped develop the Orwellian "Project Genoa"
for the IAO. Genoa will gather information about electronic conversations,
financial transactions, passport tracking, airline ticket sales,
phone records, and satellite surveillance into a matrix from which
"useful information" will be made available to federal
Elliot Abrams was recently appointed to
the National Security Council (NSC) as director of its Office
for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Relations. In 1991,
Abrams plead guilty to withholding evidence from Congress regarding
his role in the Iran-Contra affair. As Reagan's Assistant Secretary
of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, he used to
oversee U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, and was active in
covering up some of the worst atrocities committed by the U.S.-sponsored
Contras. According to congressional records, under Abram's watch,
the Contras "raped, tortured, and killed unarmed civilians,
including children," and "groups of civilians, including
women and children, were burned, dismembered, blinded and beheaded."
George Bush, Senior, subsequently pardoned him.
John Negroponte, the new ambassador to
the U.N., served under Reagan as ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985.
He is known for his role in the coverup of human rights abuses
by CIA trained paramilitaries throughout the region. Coincidentally,
Honduran exiles associated with the paramilitary forces that had
been living in the U.S., were exported to Canada prior to Negroponte's
Senate confirmation hearing, thus rendering their testimony unavailable.
Otto Reich has been appointed as Assistant
Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (which includes
Latin America). The Bush Administration used a "recess appointment"
during January 2002 to side step the Senate confirmation hearing
otherwise required of the appointment. Democrat opposition to
Reich's nomination had been predicted.
In the eighties, Reich was head of the
office for Public Diplomacy, which was censured by Congress for
"prohibited covert propaganda activities" after influencing
the media to favorably cover the Reagan Administration's position.
That office is now defunct. He also helped terrorist Orlando Bosch
gain entry into the U.S. after being imprisoned in Venezuela for
bombing a Cuban airliner, killing its 73 passengers. Bosch spent
time in a U.S. prison for attacking a Polish merchant vessel bound
for Cuba. Thirty countries have refused Bosch asylum because of
UPDATE BY AUTHOR TERRY ALLEN: It seemed
like a good news story to me and my editors, Joel Bleifuss and
Jim Naureckas: No sooner did Bush take office than he breathed
new life into the corpse of the us-versus-them, good-versus-evil
world view that had thrived during the Cold War. The resurrection
was embodied in three Reagan-era retreads. These veterans of the
U.S. "dirty" war against Central America were complicit
in crimes against humanity, democracy, or both. It also seemed
like news that Congress was rolling over and bleating weak objections,
while most of the media regurgitated snippets of old news.
Bush nominees Otto Reich and Elliot Abrams
had been convicted by Congress for relatively trivial aspects
of policies that killed thousands and devastated the civil and
political life of Central America; John Negroponte had lied about
U.S. knowledge and sponsorship of grave human rights abuses in
Honduras, and gotten away with it. In writing the story, I relied
on extensive LexisNexis research, interviews, and my experience
covering the Iran-Contra scandals and reporting from Central America
during the wars. I cited all my sources in the pieces.
The articles, tucked away in small-circulation,
independent outlets did not a wit of good in preventing Reich's
appointment as the State Department's leader on Latin America,
Abrams' appointment as a National Security Council director, or
Negroponte's assumption of the post of U.S. ambassador to the
Nor did the stories prevent Bush II from
taking up where Bush I and Reagan left off. The coup in Venezuela
against Hugo Chavez sports the sticky fingerprints of all three
men and the modus operandi of a long line of U.S.-led Cold War
But if these covert ops were tragedy,
the Chavez plot was farce. The rapid unraveling of the coup suggested
that the Venezuelan plotters would have done better seeking advice
from Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist rather than from Reich. It
soon became public that Bush officials maintained a web of connections
with the conspirators and appeared to have foreknowledge of the
plot. using the same conduit Reagan used to fund the Contras,
the National Endowment for Democracy, the administration had funneled
money to Venezuelan opposition.
According to British media, Abrams gave
a nod to the plotters; Otto Reich, a former ambassador to Venezuela,
met repeatedly with Pedro Carmona and other coup leaders. The
day Carmona seized the presidency, Reich summoned ambassadors
from Latin America and the Caribbean to his office and endorsed
the new government.
Meanwhile, Negroponte was hard at work
at the U.N. enforcing the U.S. unilateralist ultimata. He attempted
to undermine the treaty establishing the International Criminal
Court to try people accused of genocide and war crimes. Given
his history, it's easy to understand his squeamishness at the
thought of accountability. Soon after the U.S. "unsigned"
the ICC treaty, Negroponte threatened Security Council members
with pulling U.S. observers and police from the U.N.'s peace-keeping
operations in East Timor-unless U.N. (and therefore, U.S.) personnel
were excluded from possible prosecution. The move failed.
Otto Reich is also back to his old tricks
and cozying up to hard-right Latin American leaders. In an unsual
move for such a high-ranking State Department official, he met
with Alvaro Uribe less than a week after his election as president
of Colombia. The hardliner and the U.S. are in sync in supporting
a military solution to that nation's long-standing counterinsurgency.
An anti-Castro ideologue, Reich was quick
to accuse Cuba of developing a biological warfare capacity. Before
you could ask "Where's the evidence?" his own State
Department published a sweeping 177-page report on global terrorism.
The Miami Herald wrote that Reich "appeared initially confused
when asked why the report made no mention of Cuba's bio-weapons
"Is it an oversight?" asked
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND).
"I do not know who publishes that
particular document," said Reich.
"It's your department that publishes
it," said Dorgan. "This is a State Department publication."
It's deja vu all over again, and while
the plot and dialogue are farce, the toll in lost liberties and
lives is tragic. Again.
UPDATE BY AUTHOR DUNCAN CAMPBELL There
have been a number of interesting developments since this story
appeared. In April, there was a military coup in Venezuela that
resulted in the removal from office of President Hugo Chavez,
albeit only for two days. What was interesting about the coup
was that it was immediately condemned by the Organization of American
States and, very forcefully, by President Fox of Mexico. In contrast,
the initial U.S. response was ambiguous. There was no outright
condemnation of the removal of a democratically-elected president.
In fact, the impression given was that the removal of Chavez,
who is a close ally of Fidel Castro, was to be welcomed. It was
only after the OAS's condemnation of the coup and the return of
Chavez that the U.S. stated its opposition to removing elected
leaders by force. The person responsible at the State Department
was Otto Reich, whose appointment as assistant secretary we had
suggested sent an unfortunate and dangerous message to Latin America.
We did not realize that his inability to see beyond his very narrow
political agenda would have such damaging consequences so soon.
NAFTA's Chapter 11 Overrides Public Protection
Laws of Countries
Sources: THE NATION, October 15, 2001
Title: "The Right and U.S. Trade Law: Invalidating the 20th
Century" Author: William Greider TERRAIN, Fall 2001 Title:
"Seven Years of NAFTA" Author: David Huffman
Faculty Evaluator: Elizabeth Martinez
Student Researchers: Sarah Potts Chris Salvano
Mainstream coverage: Bill Moyers, PBS
Documentary; Trading Democracy, February 5, 2002; and WASHINGTON
TIMES, February 4, 2002.
Certain investor protections in NAFTA
(North American Free Trade Agreement) are giving business investors
new power over sovereign nations and providing an expansive new
definition of property rights.
Chapter 11 of NAFTA, which allows a corporation
to sue a government, contains a particularly disturbing "regulatory
takings" clause. under this "takings" clause, intangible
property, such as a corporation's potential future profits, is
considered private property. Any law or regulation that is imposed
to protect the public interest is considered "taking"
that company's potential to make a profit. Therefore, the government
should be required to compensate the owners for lost property/profit.
This expanded definition of private property goes beyond established
terms in U.S. jurisprudence and supercedes domestic law. NAFTA's
investor protections and the "regulatory takings" idea
mimic a radical revision of constitutional law that the right
wing has been pushing for years.
Richard Epstein galvanized the idea of
"regulatory takings" in the 1980s with his book Takings:
Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain. Regulations,
Epstein argues, should be properly understood as "takings"
under the Fifth Amendment. This would require governments to pay
corporations whose property, tangible or intangible, is in some
way diminished by public actions. Since any regulation will have
some economic impact on private assets, the "takings"
doctrine is therefore a vehicle for shrinking the reach of government
and crippling its regulatory procedures. This has the potential
to undermine long-established social welfare and environmental
regulatory protections. "Takings" protections will also
have a chilling effect on a government's future laws and regulatory
procedures as they realize that any new legislation may leave
them vulnerable to corporate lawsuits. A government may be confronted
with enormous financial penalties simply for enacting or upholding
regulations that protect the basic health and human rights of
The Methanex v. United States case illustrates
the type of lawsuit made possible by Chapter 11. Methanex is a
Canadian company that manufactures the gasoline additive MTBE.
Although MTBE was intended to mitigate the air pollution caused
by gasoline use, in the mid-nineties it was identified as a hazard
to California's water supplies. Even small amounts of MTBE leaking
from pipelines or storage tanks caused water to become unfit to
drink. After testing the chemical was also found to be carcinogenic.
In 1999, California governor Gray Davis
issued an executive order to begin the phase out of MTBE. Four
months later, Methanex Co. filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government,
asserting that California's new regulations damaged their future
profits, and requested $970 million in compensation. But Methanex
did not pursue its case in U.S. federal court, where the legitimacy
of "potential profits" might have been publicly questioned.
NAFTA provides for a three-judge arbitration tribunal, an offshore
venue where suits can be resolved in secrecy. Although matters
vital to public welfare are being decided in the unelected tribunals,
the public is given no notice of the proceedings unless both parties
agree to disclose the case.
The Methanex v. United States case is
pending, but other companies have already triumphed in their quest
to acquire financial compensation for the loss of potential profits.
In 2000, the Metaclad Corporation won a suit against the Mexican
government. The outcome of the case means that $16.7 million of
Mexican taxpayers' money will go to Metaclad in compensation for
profits lost because the government stopped it from building a
toxic waste dump.
"Regulatory takings" laws have
not yet been adopted into U.S. domestic law. The Supreme Court
has so far declined to accept this redefinition of the Constitution.
However, NAFTA's precedent has opened the door for the "takings"
premise to become a standard facet of international law, and corporations
are working to realize that goal.
In April 2001, a collection of 29 major
U.S. multinational corporations and industry organizations (including
GE, Ford, GM, International Paper, Motorola, Dow, DuPont, Chevron,
Procter & Gamble, and 3M) wrote to U.S. Trade Representative
Robert Zoellick, urging him to push for a Chapter 11-type provision
in upcoming FTAA negotiations. The letter applauded NAFTA's regulatory
takings clause, saying it provides "protection from regulations
that diminish the value of investors' assets." Although FTAA
negotiations are not yet complete, at present the draft of the
agreement includes a provision nearly identical to Chapter 11
that allows for "investor-to-state" lawsuits.
If the potential profit laws succeed to
the degree that some companies hope they will, such basic government
regulations as minimum wage and OSHA standards may become null
and void in favor of corporate profit. As Epstein writes in his
Takings book, "It will be said that my position invalidates
much of the twentieth-century legislation, and so it does."
COMMENTS BY R. RICHARD WILLIAM, ATTORNEY
AT LAW: A relatively small cadre of people have used the recent
international treaty known as NAFTA to bring into law a radical
definition of "governmental taking" that will, if honored
by the signatory countries, destroy governmental regulatory programs
in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Totaling probably fewer
then 1,000 people, this group includes international businessmen,
lawyers, and government professionals, with little or no loyalty
to the United States, or any other country, or to the laws of
the U.S. enacted during the twentieth century as social welfare
and environmental protection law.
Led by men such as Daniel Price and Richard
Epstein, such law firms as Power, Gold stein, Frizzier & Murphy
and Sultan & Crumble, the Federalist Society, and such large
business enterprises as Methanex (Canada) and Ethyl Corporation
(U.S.), the engineering of Chapter 11 of NAFTA places the fate
of all laws being attacked in the hands of private arbitration/adjudication
tribunals chosen by the parties and outside the reach of review
or appeal by any Canadian, U.S., or Mexican courts. If allowed
to prevail, Chapter 11 will revolutionize the law in such a way
as to force "the international community to provide protection
for property rights" (Edwin William son, Sultan & Crumble),
defined as any expectation of profit, to an extent unimaginable
since the 1940s. They even hope to destroy such laws as wages
and hours laws.
This is really important stuff that will
impact all three countries and communities all over the Western
Hemisphere without any legislative input from any of us.
UPDATE BY AUTHOR WILLIAM GREIDER: The
story of NAFTA's Chapter 11 and its stark implications for American
democracy is finally getting a little attention in the major media
(Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2002, most recently), but mainly
because the critics have succeeded in rallying opposition in Congress
and especially among state local officials who recognize that
this irregular, private court for capital subverts their sovereign
right to enact laws to protect public health and the environment.
My account in The Nation may have helped in educating at least
elite public. I hope so.
This issue is central to the globalization
debate because, despite the usual bromides about free trade, the
international agreements are now mainly about setting rules for
investment in countries where capital goes. The debate and development
of these rules remains a closed and undemocratic exercise and
for good reason. Multinational business and finance shapes the
terms, write the new rules, and seeks to throttle the ability
of individual nations and governments to resist. The big media
has been, on the whole, quite reluctant to look at this dimension
of globalization. It is simpler and less contentious to describe
the new rules as "free trade" agreements when, in fact,
they are designed to encircle the public's right to set rules
The challenge to reform the global system
is a long, difficult struggle and won't be won by one issue or
one crisis. But I am actually fairly optimistic. The truth is
getting through to people generally, despite the barriers of propaganda
and the media's general inclination to play cheerleader rather
than serious reporter.
UPDATE BY AUTHOR DAVID HUFFMAN: Since
the writing of "Seven Years of NAFTA," Philip Morris
has joined the ranks of corporations threatening to sue under
the investor "protection" provisions of NAFTA's Chapter
11. Philip Morris' threat illustrates the new vulnerability of
public health and environmental regulations. Philip Morris has
been subject to government restrictions on cigarette advertising
for years, but now NAFTA offers a way to block such restrictions.
In response to a proposal by the Canadian government to ban the
words "mild" and "light" from cigarette packaging,
Philip Morris has warned that it may sue for damages. The Canadian
and the U.S. governments have both been considering such a ban,
because of evidence that mild and light cigarette brands confuse
or mislead consumers into believing that these are safer than
other types of cigarettes. Although Philip Morris has not yet
filed a suit, the threat alone may be enough to discourage implementation
of the ban.
How did democracy come to such a pass?
It may seem astonishing that the NAFTA member governments so seriously
compromised their ability to regulate in the public interest,
on matters of vital importance like health and safety. In the
case of the U.S., part of the explanation certainly lies in the
process through which Congress approved NAFTA. Congress severely
limited its ability to deliberate on the contents of NAFTA when
it gave approval in 1993, by first agreeing to fast track legislation.
Fast track is a mechanism created during the Nixon Administration
that allows the executive branch to push international trade agreements
through the legislature quickly, by allowing a maximum of only
20 hours of debate. In the whirlwind of fast track, Congress accepted
the rationale that strong investor protections were needed to
prevent expropriation of U.S. companies by the Mexican government,
apparently without fully appreciating the ramifications for the
U.S. In his October 15th article in The Nation, "The Right
and U.S. Trade Law: Invalidating the 20th Century," William
Greider explores, in depth, the story behind the adoption of NAFTA.
Greider finds evidence that the corporate interests involved in
the drafting of NAFTA were fully aware of the wider implications
of Chapter 11, and pushed for the agreement's radical redefinition
of property rights in order to force all three member governments,
not just Mexico, to be more hesitant when it comes to regulations
that interfere with corporate profits.
What can be done? The Canadian government
has become sufficiently alarmed to propose an amendment to NAFTA
that limits the extent of investor protections in Chapter 11.
The U.S. federal government has yet to respond in kind, but state
governments in the U.S. are mobilizing in response to the threat
to state sovereignty highlighted by cases like Methanex v. U.S.,
in which the Canadian company Methanex is suing for $970 million
over California's ban on the toxic gasoline additive MTBE.
Beyond the obvious need to fix NAFTA,
there is the need to prevent the same mistake being made on a
larger scale with the FTAA, which will extend NAFTA to the entire
Western Hemisphere. The mainstream media should recognize this
impulse in its coverage of protests against the FTAA. President
George W. Bush has been pushing for fast track for the FTAA. This
fall, fast track will be in the House for a second time, and there
is a good chance that it can be defeated with sufficient public
opposition. To find out more about NAFTA, the FTAA, and the specifics
on how you can help stop fast track, check out the following sources:
Public Citizen <www.publiccitizen.org>, Tel: (202) 588-1000
and Global Exchange <www.globalexchange.org>, Tel: (415)
Henry Kissinger and Gerald Ford Lied to
the American Public about East Timor
Source: ASHEVILLE GLOBAL REPORT, December
13, 2001 Title: "Documents Show U.S. Sanctioned Invasion
of East Timor" Author: Jim Lobe (IPS)
Faculty Evaluator: Phillip Beard Student
Researcher: Connie Lytle
Corporate media coverage: SAN DIEGO UNION,
December 12, 2001
The release of previously classified documents
makes it clear that former President Gerald Ford and Secretary
of State Henry Kissinger, in a face-to-face meeting in Jakarta,
gave then-President Suharto a green light for the 1975 invasion
of East Timor.
According to documents released by the
National Security Archive (NSA), in December of 2001(the twenty-sixth
anniversary of Indonesia's invasion of East Timor) Suharto told
Ford during their talks on December 6, 1975 that, "We want
your understanding if it was deemed necessary to take rapid or
drastic action [in East Timor]." In a previously secret memorandum,
Ford replied, "We will understand and not press you on the
issue. We understand the problem and the intentions you have."
Kissinger similarly agreed, with reservations about the use of
U.S.-made arms in the invasion. Kissinger went on to say regarding
the use of U.S. arms, " It depends on how we construe it,
whether it is self-defense or is a foreign operation," suggesting
the invasion might be framed in a way acceptable to U.S. Iaw.
Kissinger added, "It is important that whatever you do succeed
quickly...the U.S. Administration would be able to influence the
reaction in America if whatever happens after we return [to the
U.S.]. If you have made plans, we will do our best to keep everyone
quiet until the President returns home."
For years Henry Kissinger has denied that
any discussion of East Timor took place in Jakarta. The newly
released dialogue between the three adds significantly to what
is known about the role the U.S. played in condoning the Indonesian
invasion. The dialogue was part of a batch of documents on U.S.
policy effecting East Timor obtained through the National Security
Indonesia invaded East Timor the day after
Ford and Kissinger left. As many as 230,000 East Timorese died
as a result of Indonesia's invasion and the 23-year occupation
of the country. As much as one-third of the population died as
a result of starvation, disease, caused by counterinsurgency operations
carried out by the Indonesian army from 1976 to 1999. According
to Amnesty International, East Timor represents one of the worst
cases of genocides in the twentieth century.
Under international pressure, Indonesia
allowed a plebiscite in 1999, in which East Timorese overwhelmingly
voted for independence. After the vote, Jakarta-backed militias
rampaged the territory, burning and looting the country. The U.N.
Security Council authorized an Australian-led international force
to restore order. East Timor is now an independent country.
CIA Kidnaps Suspects for Overseas Torture
Sources: WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN, February,
23, 2002 Title: "Love Letter Tracks Terrorist's Footsteps"
Author: Don Greenlees
WORLD SOCIALIST Web site <www.wsws.org/articles/2002/mar2002/
cia-m20_ prn.shtml>, March 20, 2002 Title: "U.S. Oversees
Abduction, Torture, Execution of Alleged Terrorists" Author:
WASHINGTON POST, March 11, 2002, pg. A01
Title: "U.S. Behind Secret Transfer of Terror Suspects"
Authors: Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Peter Finn Faculty Evaluator:
Noel Byrne Student Researcher: Sarah Potts
Corporate media coverage: PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE,
March 17, 2002
U.S. agents are involved in abducting
people they suspect of terrorist activities and sending them to
countries where torture during interrogation is legal, according
to U.S. diplomatic sources. Suspects are shipped to allied countries
where they are denied legal assistance and imprisoned without
any specific charges made against them. The prisoners have been
taken to countries such as Egypt and Jordan (whose intelligence
agencies have close ties to the CIA), where they can be subjected
to interrogation tactics, including torture and threats to family,
which are illegal in the United States.
One of the abductees, Muhammad Saad Iqbal
Madni was believed by the CIA to be an Al Qaeda member with possible
links to Richard Reid, the American Airlines shoe bomber. In January
2002, the CIA provided Indonesian intelligence officials with
information that lead to Iqbal's arrest. A few days later, the
Egyptian government requested that Iqbal-who had carried a passport
for Egypt as well as Pakistan -be extradited in connection with
terrorism, although they did not specify the crime. Indonesian
agents quickly took him into custody, and two days later, without
legal hearing or access to a lawyer, Iqbal was put on board an
unmarked, U.S.-registered Gulfstream V jet, arranged by the CIA,
and flown from Jakarta to Egypt.
Indonesian government officials told local
media that Iqbal had been sent to Egypt because of visa violations.
However, a senior Indonesian government official told reporters
that revealing the U.S. role in Iqbal's case would have prompted
criticism from Muslim-oriented political parties in the region.
"We can't be seen as cooperating too closely with the United
States," he said. Nevertheless, the official confirmed that,
"This was a U.S. deal all along. Egypt just provided the
According to one U.S. diplomat, "After
September 11, these sorts of movements have been occurring. It
allows us to get information from terrorists in a way we can't
do on U.S. soil."
Although such "movements" have
intensified since 9-11, the U.S. has long been involved in this
practice of kidnapping. These abductions, known to those in the
business as "rendition," violate local and international
extradition laws as well as internationally recognized human rights
standards. According to the Washington Post's sources, from 1993
to 1999, suspects were rendered to the U.S. from a variety of
countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and the Philippines.
U.S. officials have acknowledged some of these operations, but
the Post's sources say that dozens of other covert renditions
occurred, the details of which remain cloaked in secrecy.
Some documented cases include reports
of suspects being interrogated, tortured, and even executed. In
1998, U.S. agents apprehended Talaat Fouad Qassem, the reputed
leader of an Egyptian extremist organization, in Croatia. Qassem
had been traveling to Denmark, where he had been promised political
asylum. Egyptian lawyers say that the U.S. agents removed Qassem
to a U.S. ship stationed off the Croatian coast. On board, he
was questioned by the agents before being taken to Cairo, where
a military tribunal had already sentenced him to death in absentia.
Also in 1998, five members of Egyptian
Islamic Jihad were taken into custody by Albanian police working
in tandem with CIA agents. The five suspects were interrogated
for three days before being shipped to Egypt on a CIA-chartered
plane. The U.S. alleged that this group of people had been planning
to bomb the U.S. embassy in Albania's capital. Two of the five
people were put to death.
*The details of this covert and illegal
abduction campaign were brought to light in the U.S. by a Washington
Post article printed on March 11, 2002, entitled, "U.S. Behind
Secret Transfer of Terror Suspects." The article cites various
U.S. and Indonesian officials (sources unidentified by name) recounting
and commenting upon these violations. Although the article appeared
on the Post's front page, the story was picked up by only one
other corporate media source in the U.S., and the Post itself-as
of this writing-has not followed up its own story with any new
UPDATE BY AUTHOR DON GREENLEES One of
the unanswered questions is what happened to Muhammad Saad Iqbal
Madni after he was handed over to the CIA and taken to Cairo?
U.S. officials have refused to comment on the case. Indeed, there
is still no official confirmation that he was ever placed in the
custody of the CIA for extradition to Egypt. Was his interrogation
conducted by U.S. or Egyptian personnel? Was he, in fact, ever
taken to Egypt? Even alleged terrorists are presumably entitled
to some protection under the law. In Iqbal's case, it has not
been possible to determine his fate. Rumors circulated among non-U.S.
Western intelligence agencies earlier this year that Iqbal had
died in interrogation. U.S. officials in Jakarta, requesting anonymity,
have denied that allegation.
Given the secrecy surrounding Iqbal's
capture in Jakarta and handover to the CIA, it is reasonable to
assume he is not the only alleged terrorist to have been placed
in the custody of U.S. officials and taken to a third country
for interrogation, where the absence of civil rights and U.S.
Iegal protections could afford interrogators more freedom. Soon
after the article on Iqbal appeared in the Weekend Australian,
the Washington Post ran an article suggesting there were other
cases of individuals being detained by the CIA and sent to countries
where interrogation could be more easily carried out. The subject
justifies further inquiry. Without the guilt of suspects having
been legally ascertained, detentions are clearly open to abuse.
How long will suspects be held and on what grounds? What restraint
exists on the conduct of the interrogations? These are questions
of interest to civil libertarians everywhere, particular in countries
where non-democratic rulers could use the crackdown on terrorism
as a means of sidelining critics.
The Weekend Australian article also sought
to highlight the performance of the Indonesian authorities in
dealing with the threat of terrorism. The absence of adequate
law enforcement and the lack of coordination between law enforcement
agencies, the weakness of immigration controls, and the reluctance
of the government to take legal action against extremist elements
who have broken the law continue to make Indonesia vulnerable
to entry by international terrorists. Iqbal's success in entering
Indonesia is seen as evidence of this weakness. But a consistent
concern of pro-democracy groups in Indonesia is whether many of
the hard won civil freedoms of the past four years could be eroded
as Jakarta comes under pressure to improve its contribution to
fighting potential terrorist threats.
Corporate Media Ignores Key Issues of
the Anti-Globalization Protests
Source: COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW, September/October
2001 Title: "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: The Globalization Protests
and the Befuddled Press" Author: John Giuffo
Faculty Evaluator: Suzanne Toczyski Student
Researchers: Caroline Hubbard, Cathy Jensen & Derek Fieldsoe
Corporate media coverage: NEW YORK TIMES,
February 5, 2002
The U.S. press failed to inform the public
of the core underlying issues of the major antiglobalization protests
of recent years. Dramatic images such as protesters enshrouded
in tear gas, facing down a line of police officers dressed in
riot gear, have come to dominate the media coverage and overshadow
the actual reasons that thousands of people are taking to the
In July 2001, over 100,000 people went
to Genoa to protest the G-8 meetings. However, corporate television
gave little recognition to the issues that were being raised by
the protesters. CNN showed few protesters actually sharing their
views or reasons for protesting. Instead, news correspondents
briefly summed up the protest in terms of who was there. This
broad summary format was significantly lacking attention to specifics
of the meetings or the protests. On Fox networks, the Genoa protesters
were all but ignored.
A hard look at more than 200 stories by
major news outlets including: ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC, the Los
Angeles Times, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Time,
and Newsweek, shows serious weaknesses in the coverage of the
four largest protests-the International Monetary Fund meeting
in Prague in September 2000; the Hemispheric Free Trade talks
in Quebec City in April 2001; the European union summit in Gothenburg,
Sweden in June 2001; and the G-8 meeting that took place in Genoa
in July of 2001. The problem is not so much the focus on the small
percentage of protesters who acted violently, but that the coverage
The message that protesters are trying
to get across is that they want more democratic control (and less
corporate control) over the rules that affect the environment
and labor conditions around the world. This includes more democratic
control over supranational organizations such as the World Bank,
the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization,
whose un-elected leaders, the protesters argue, override democratically
determined laws and regulations in the name of "development"
and "free trade."
There are many instances of police brutality
at these large protests, yet what tends to be emphasized by the
mainstream news sources are the few acts of violence perpetrated
by the protesters. For example, at the Genoa protest that took
place last year, approximately 70 members of an Italian SWAT team
barged through the doorway of a site where protesters were organizing.
This led to the hospitalization of 61 demonstrators. However,
few news sources reported the police violence, and most sources
focused on protester violence. CBS News released a Web report
that indicated that the protesters were injured during the previous
day's events. European news sources and independent news organizations,
such as <Indymedia.org> put out full reports of police brutality
against the protesters.
An article in The New York Times, written
by Andrew Jacobs, supports the notion that the media coverage
of antiglobalization protests is appalling. Jacobs reports, "most
press accounts focused on security concerns and the potential
for violence... Ieaving little room for explanations of why people
were protesting in the first place."
UPDATE BY AUTHOR JOHN GIUFFO: We've heard
the phrase "September 11 changed everything" so often
that it has become a cliché to call it a cliché.
But in terms of the global justice movement, 9-11 changed a lot.
Support of violence as a legitimate protest tactic was waning
before the attacks, but it dropped off the radar afterwards. The
drama of the globalization-related protests was play-acted anarchy
compared to our glimpse of the real thing that fall morning, and
it seems like we've lost our collective stomach for such measures.
The few protests since, such as the New
York City World Economic Forum protest in late January, have been
relatively violence-free, comparatively underattended affairs.
Before, the violence had usually been the story, but the big story
during the New York protests was that there was no story, and
that the police had maintained order in a still-shaky city. None
of the core issues the movement addressed have changed, but their
perceived importance has waned in the swirl of global violence
that has wracked the world in the past year. Quite simply, it
seems like we've got bigger things to worry about. The coverage
reflects that. The number of foreign correspondents at American
news organizations has been shrinking for 20 years, and there
are only so many left to go around. Protests in Sao Paolo, Brazil
lost out to Operations Condor in the mountains of Afghanistan.
There's another complicating factor-what
can best be described as a sort of "message drift."
One of the movement's main strengths has been its ability to subsume
a multitude of complaints under the banner of anti-corporate democratization.
But since the conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East have
drawn away the keyboards and cameras of journalists, the anti-corporate
protesters have been willing to share the stage with pacifists
and pro-Palestinian protesters. Even IndyMedia, the main organizing
news and message site of the movement, in a post to the site on
January 11 conflated the economic issues behind the protests with
what it called "the violence being committed against the
people of Afghanistan."
That's not to say all the media are distracted.
Some news organizations have done an admirable job recognizing
the need to dedicate space for explanation and detail when covering
the protests. A good example is the Washington Post, which covered
the mid-April World Bank/pro-Palestinian protests relatively comprehensively
(arguably because it was a hometown affair), pausing to take time
to explain the issues behind the economic and anti-Israel protests.
The global justice movement is very much
in flux, and that has been one of the central challenges to it
getting its message out. Calls for taking sides in the Middle
East and against intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq threaten
to drown out other voices advocating for clean air, fair trade,
or reregulation in corporate ownership structures. There is a
limited amount of space in newspapers, and only so much news airtime
on television. The more messages that reporters have to get into
their stories, the less they can explore those messages. It would
seem the global justice movement has to decide what it wants to
be when it grows up.
American Companies Exploit the Congo
Sources: DOLLARS AND SENSE, JulyAugust
2001 Title: "The Business of War in the Democratic Republic
Of Congo: Who Benefits?" Authors: Dena Montague & Frieda
VOICE (Pioneer Valley, MA), March/April
2001 Title: "The Matrix: Depopulation and Perception Management
(Part 2: Central Africa)" Author: keith harmon snow
THE VOICE NEWS (Winstead, CT), January
4, 2002 Title: "Central Africa: Hidden Agenda and the Western
Press" Author: keith harmon snow
COVERTACTION QUARTERLY, Summer 2000 Title:
"U. S. Military and Corporate Recolonization of the Congo"
Author: Ellen Ray (Honorable Mention: From Censored 2001)
Faculty Evaluator: Philip Beard Student
Researchers: Arinze Anoruo & Chris Salvano
Western multinational corporations' attempts
to cash in on the wealth of Congo's resources have resulted in
what many have called "Africa's first world war," claiming
the lives of over three million people. The Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC) has been labeled "the richest patch of earth
on the planet." The valuable abundance of minerals and resources
in the DRC has made it the target of attacks from U.S.-supported
neighboring African countries Uganda and Rwanda.
The DRC is mineral rich with millions
of tons of diamonds, copper, cobalt, zinc, manganese, uranium,
niobium, and tantalum (also known as coltan). Coltan has become
an increasingly valuable resource to American corporations. Coltan
is used to make mobile phones, night vision goggles, fiber optics,
and capacitators used to maintain the electrical charge in computer
chips. In December of 2000 the shortage of coltan was the main
reason that the popular sale of the Sony Play Station 2 video
game came to an abrupt halt.
The DRC holds 80 percent of the world's
coltan reserves, more than 60 percent of the world's cobalt, and
is the world's largest supplier of high-grade copper. With these
minerals playing a major part in maintaining U.S. military dominance
and economic growth, minerals in the Congo are deemed vital U.S.
Historically, the U.S. government identified
sources of materials in Third World countries, and then encouraged
U.S. corporations to invest in and facilitate their production.
Dating back to the mid-1960s, the U.S. government literally installed
the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko, which gave U.S. corporations
access to the Congo's minerals for more than 30 years. However,
over the years Mobutu began to limit access by Western corporations,
and to control the distribution of resources. In 1998, U.S. military-trained
leaders of Rwanda and Uganda invaded the mineral-rich areas of
the Congo. The invaders installed illegal colonial-style governments
that continue to receive millions of dollars in arms and military
training from the United States. Our government and a $5 million
Citibank loan maintains the rebel presence in the Congo. Their
control of mineral-rich areas allows Western corporations, such
as American Mineral Fields (AMF), to illegally mine. Rwandan and
Ugandan control over this area is beneficial for both governments
and for the corporations that continue to exploit the Congo's
American Mineral Fields landed exclusive
exploration rights to an estimated 1.4 million tons of copper
and 270,000 tons of cobalt. San Francisco-based engineering firm
Bechtel Inc. established strong ties in the rebel zones as well.
Bechtel drew up an inventory of the Congo's mineral resources
free of charge, and also paid for NASA satellite studies of the
country for infrared maps of its minerals. Bechtel estimates that
the DRC's mineral ores alone are worth $157 billion dollars. Through
coltan production, the Rwandans and their allies are bringing
in $20 million in revenue a month. Rwanda's diamond exports went
from 166 carats in 1998 to 30,500 in 2000. Uganda's diamond exports
jumped from approximately 1,500 carats to about 11,300. The final
destination for many of these minerals is the U.S..
UPDATE BY AUTHOR DENA MONTAGUE: Nearly
four million people dead in four years of war in the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC), and the world remains silent in the face
of an abominable atrocity. The war in the DRC is not only significant
because of its infamous status as the world's deadliest war, but
also because of the active participation of an international contingent
of multinational corporations, terrorist networks, arms brokers,
and governments all clamoring for the legendary wealth of the
Congo while exacerbating the war.
Ugandan- and Rwandan-backed rebels and
the Congolese central government met for nine weeks beginning
in March 2002 in Sun City, South Africa to negotiate aspects of
the Inter-Congolese dialogue as a part of the Lusaka Peace Accords.
In a significant development emerging from the dialogue-Jean Pierre
Bemba, a known Mobutuist and leader of Uganda sponsored rebel
party, Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), has been appointed
prime minister of the DRC in a power-sharing agreement strongly
encouraged by Western governments. Rather than being held accountable
by the international community for war crimes committed against
Congolese civilians and the massive exploitation of Congolese
natural resources detailed by the U.N. during the four-year war,
Bemba, a multimillionaire, will be leading the country he helped
In response to its isolation from the
power-sharing agreement, Rwandan-backed RCD has formed an alliance
with veteran Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi. Rwanda
has not ceased discussions of an enduring armed partition of the
DRC, as it remains in control of approximately one third of the
country. The power sharing agreement emerging from Sun City has
effectively marginalized civil society groups who have been organizing
peacefully for democracy, and instead rewards armed struggle in
the country. Meanwhile, Rwanda and Uganda continue to attract
international investors as well as military assistance from the
U.S. and others. Thousands of Rwandan troops are currently engaged
fighting in the eastern region of the country at the continued
expense of civilian lives.
The war in the DRC is layered in such
a way that it appears as a wartime telenovella. Its complexity
tends to distract the layman observer from the fundamental facts.
This war is yet another stage in international efforts to control
the wealth of the Congo-a story that dates back to the nineteenth
The only major U.S. media response to
the war in the DRC has been a weeklong Nightline report, "Heart
of Darkness" that was originally scheduled to air the week
of September 11 and was postponed until February. Although the
Nightline special was significant in drawing attention to the
neglected story and the unbearable suffering of the Congolese
people, it did little to explain the root causes of the war. Other
than the Nightline report, only an occasional story on the fledgling
peace process appears in major newspapers.
There are few outlets that give a comprehensive
account of the war. International Crisis Group has published a
series of in-depth reports about the conflict at <www.intl-crisis-group.org/>.
Occasionally the Washington Post covers
the DRC. Reporter Karl Vick was one of the first to uncover the
story of coltan mining. All Africa <www.allafrica.com/>
compiles daily reports on the DRC. Other magazines that are less
accessible frequently cover the war-New African Magazine and Africa
For an historical perspective on conflict
in the Congo, King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild and The
Assassination of Patrice Lumumba by Ludo De Witte are good sources.