Statement of the Government of the Republic of Cuba, Havana, Oct. 17,
2001: Lourdes Electronic Radar Station agreement has not been canceled, since Cuba has not given its approval|
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Socialist Workers candidate speaks out against U.S. war drive
Strike, rallies in Pakistan oppose U.S.-British war in Afghanistan
Imperialists bomb cities, invasion troops
U.S. government steps up assault on workers' rights
BY BRIAN WILLIAMS
Washington's massive bombardment of Afghanistan has led to growing protests throughout Pakistan. Working people there have repeatedly taken to the streets in opposition to the decision by Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf to open up the country's air space and bases for use by the U.S. military in carrying out its assault.
A nationwide strike October 15, called to coincide with a visit to Pakistan by U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell, closed thousands of shops and many schools as workers and students helped lead protests in many cities and towns throughout the country. In the southern city of Hyderabad, for example, police fired in the air to disperse workers staging a protest at a cement factory, and in the working-class Lyari district of Karachi--Pakistan's largest city--cops threw teargas at hundreds of people who had gathered to express their opposition to Washington's assault on Afghanistan. A day earlier, more than 20,000 people marched through the streets of Karachi in one of the largest protests there in years. Tens of thousands demonstrated in Quetta as well.
Working people in Jacobabad, Pakistan, march on an airfield where the government has allowed Washington to base aircraft involved in the brutal bombing of Afghanistan. Opposition to the imperialist assault runs deep among toilers in the country.
The protesters have had to confront a heavy police presence. Reuters reports that on October 15 in Jacobabad in southern Sindh province "Pakistani police detained at least 100 workers of pro-Taliban Islamic groups in raids on houses."
That same day three leaders of Pakistan's electricity workers were arrested in a raid by police and agents of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The cops also broke windows and doors at the headquarters of the Labour Union at the power utility in Gujrat. Some 300 trade unions and other organizations have condemned the arrests and called for more protest strikes October 16. The following day the three workers were released.
Into its second week, Washington expanded its bombardment of Afghanistan into a round-the-clock operation starting October 15, with a particular focus on Kabul and Kandahar, two of the country's major cities. The low-flying AC-130 gunship with its powerful cannons was utilized for a closer-range pounding of targets on the ground. Fifty U.S. warplanes flew more than 100 sorties on October 16 alone, reports CNN.
'Fire at will' and 'kill boxes'
"For the first time" reports the New York Times, pilots can "choose their own targets and fire at will." They have focused on specific zones of aerial attack, described as "kill boxes," where U.S. pilots and gunners "are authorized to fire at any military target that moves."
The high firepower AC-130s are usually used to support ground forces, though the Pentagon refused to admit or deny whether U.S. special forces were involved in the battle on the ground.
Writing in the Financial Times October 13, Michael Smith notes, "Ground troops are expected to go into Afghanistan sooner rather than later." Small SAS and Delta Force special operations teams are already on the ground working with the opposition Northern Alliance. What will be needed, the Times points out, is "a forward operations base and simply taking control of that will require several thousand troops, expected to be Green Berets and members of the 10th Mountain Division, which is now based in Uzbekistan."
U.S. and Uzbekistan officials signed an "unprecedented" military partnership agreement October 7, stated the Wall Street Journal, that "all but removes any impression that the U.S. military presence in the region will be short-lived." In return for U.S. military assistance, the Uzbekistan government agreed that the 1,000 U.S. light infantry troops currently stationed at Khanabad, a base 90 miles from the Afghan border, will no longer be limited to just search and rescue operations but could be used for offensive action in Afghanistan. The U.S. ground troops are the first to be deployed on the territory of the former Soviet Union.
The Arabic-language TV station Al Jazeera reported that the air attacks have knocked out electricity and water in Kabul. One of the two international telephone exchanges in Afghanistan's capital city was also destroyed, cutting off phone service abroad. A bomb crashed into a clearly marked Red Cross compound in Kabul October 16, injuring a guard and setting two warehouses afire. Blankets, tents, medicines, and shipments of wheat all went up in smoke. Three days earlier a 2,000 pound "smart" bomb slammed into a residential neighborhood a mile away from the airport in Kabul.
U.S. aircraft have been dropping 5,000-pound bunker-busting bombs, as well as bombs designed to burrow into the ground before exploding, and anti-personnel cluster bombs that specifically target people. B-1 and B-52 long-range bombers, as well as F-18s and F-14s stationed on aircraft carriers in nearby waters, have all been carrying out this aerial assault. The Afghanistan government reports that after the first week of bombardment more than 300 people, many of them civilians, have been killed.
Also now falling from B-52s over the skies of Afghanistan in the northwestern and southeastern regions of the country are nearly 400,000 slips of paper the size of a dollar bill with a message aimed at convincing Afghanis that the current air assault and coming ground invasion is being done in their best interests. The leaflets, in English as well as a version with the local languages in both Pashto and Dari, state, "The partnership of nations is here to assist the people of Afghanistan."
Commenting on this operation on the heaviest day of bombardment by U.S. warplanes, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hypocritically asserted, "We're working to make clear to the Afghan people that we support them and we want to help free their nation."
In a sign of its willingness to cooperate with Washington, the government of Iran sent a message to the Bush administration October 8, the day after the U.S. military began its bombing attacks on Afghanistan, agreeing to rescue any U.S. military personnel shot down or forced to land in Iranian territory, or who end up entering the country over the border from Afghanistan.
Protests hit U.S. use of Pakistani air base
One of the focuses of the protests in Pakistan has been the agreement signed by Pakistani officials permitting U.S. forces to use two military bases in the country--one in the city of Jacobabad and another at Pasni in Balochistan province on the Arabian Sea. Some 4,000 people turned out in the countryside around Jacobabad October 14 to demonstrate against the U.S. military presence at the airport base there. They were met by 3,000 paramilitary rangers and soldiers who opened fire with live ammunition and tear gas. Two demonstrators were killed and at least six wounded.
At a recent protest in Peshawar, Shayar Khan, 23, a business student, told the Washington Post, "If they send in troops, I will abandon my MBA and go for martyrdom."
From the start of Washington's military operations in Afghanistan, the Pakistani government, which in the past had backed the Taliban, has expressed its opposition to the Northern Alliance taking control of Afghanistan and becoming the new government. The Pakistani rulers are under tremendous pressure--reflected in the growing, militant protests there--from the struggles for national rights by the Pashtun, who are the dominant ethnic group in the country, and Baluchi peoples. The Pashtuns, who comprise 40 percent of Afghanistan and have been the base of support of the Taliban, also have a sizable presence in Pakistan. In addition, more than 2 million Afghanis are now living in refugees camps in northwestern Pakistan.
These pressures have led Washington to refrain, at least up to this point, from bombardment of the area just north of Kabul where Taliban troops are stationed to hold off a Northern Alliance assault on the capital.
Appearing at a news conference with U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell in Islamabad October 16, Pakistani president Musharraf announced that the two of them are now in agreement on forming a "broad-based" government in Afghanistan that would include the former Afghan king, "moderate Taliban leaders, elements from the Northern Alliance," and "Afghans living outside the country." The Bush administration also pledged to supply the Pakistani rulers with nearly $1 billion in economic and military aid.
Powell also commented on the character of the protectorate that Washington seeks to set up in Afghanistan. "Clearly the United Nations will be playing a leading role," he stated. "No one government will be able to handle it."
Following Powell's visit, U.S. and British forces stepped up their bombing of Kabul and other cities, as well as troop deployments in Afghanistan. And the Pentagon is now warning that raids will soon be undertaken against government forces north of the capital.
Kashmir dispute heats up
As Powell arrived in Pakistan--the first stop of a three-nation tour that also included visits to India and China--India's army announced that it had shelled 11 Pakistani military posts in Kashmir--a territory with a Muslim majority that has been a matter of dispute between the Indian and Pakistani governments since 1947. Currently Indian forces occupy two-thirds of it, and troops from Pakistan the rest. On the same day Indian security forces killed 10 people. Two days earlier on October 14, Indian border guards had killed six Pakistanis as they tried to cross into the Kashmir region of India from Pakistan.
Indian forces continued to fire mortars into Pakistan-controlled Kashmir October 16 in the heaviest bombardment in nearly a year, as Powell arrived in New Delhi for talks. India's new defense minister, George Fernandes, vowed to "be ruthless" against protesters in Kashmir.
Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is now seeking to get Washington to place on its list of targeted terrorists the Kashmiri Muslims fighting for independence. Indian officials also made clear to Powell their objection to his plan to include any Taliban figures in the new government the U.S. rulers are seeking to create. New Delhi remains a supporter of the Northern Alliance.
While the Pentagon's action remains focused on Afghanistan, some U.S. officials are pushing for a military operation that also targets Iraq. As part of the military buildup, additional forces and fighter bombers have been placed within easy striking distance of Iraq. This new deployment nearly doubles the number of strike fighters on the ground in the Persian Gulf.
Among those pushing for renewed action against Iraq is Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. The New York Times quotes an unnamed government official as describing the plan as one that "envisions the use of air support and the occupation of southern Iraq with America ground troops to install a Iraqi opposition group based in London at the helm of a new government.... American troops would also seize the oil fields around Basra, in southeastern Iraq, and sell the oil to finance the Iraqi opposition."
Washington has also begun to step up its military presence in the Philippines. According to a senior government official there, the U.S. government plans to send a "sizable" contingent of military advisers to the country in October. U.S. advisers were already involved earlier this year in training some Philippines troops, notes the Times.
In another development, NATO secretary-general George Robertson stated October 12 that should Washington want to shift its 10,000 troops currently stationed in Bosnia and Kosova to Afghanistan, "then there are NATO troops that would be more than willing to fill their positions." NATO has already dispatched five airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City to help patrol the skies over the United States. This deployment marks the first time non-U.S. airplanes have been used for military purposes in U.S. airspace.
U.S. government steps up assault on workers' rights
BY JACK WILLEY
U.S. government police forces and local cops have jailed nearly 800 people across the United States, allegedly in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. The roundup is part of the increased cop harassment and arbitrary searches of working people at ports, bus terminals, and train stations.
Calls for a national ID card are growing among some middle-class and bourgeois figures as well. Alan Dershowitz, described by Newsweek as "the nation's most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer" has proposed an ID card with a chip that can match a holder's fingerprint as "an effective tool for preventing terrorism."
"It is true that the card would facilitate the deportation of illegal immigrants," he wrote in an October 13 column published in the New York Times. "Legal immigrants would actually benefit from a national ID card that could demonstrate their status to government officials," he said. "Finally, there is the question of the right to anonymity. I don't believe we can afford to recognize such a right in this age of terrorism."
After several weeks of debate, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed similar bills drafted by the Justice Department giving cops and the secret police wider latitude to spy on and arrest people. In granting the government broad new powers, the bills build on a range of measures implemented during the eight years of the Clinton administration, including the 1996 Economic Espionage Act, the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the 1994 Crime Bill, and the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.
Detention without charges
Dubbed the "Patriot Act" in the House and the "U.S.A. Act" in the Senate, the bills take aim at a number of hard-won rights. They allow police agencies to detain non-citizens for up to seven days without charges. According to Timothy Edgar of the American Civil Liberties Union, their wording leaves open the possibility of the indefinite detention of anyone certified as a terrorist suspect even if he or she is not charged.
The measures also give the secret police new powers to monitor e-mail, wiretap multiple phones under a single warrant, and allow information obtained by grand juries to be turned over to government spy agencies. The Senate bill includes "anti-money-laundering" measures aimed at charities and other organizations that the government claims support "terrorism."
The bill severely erodes the 4th Amendment right protecting citizens from unwarranted search and seizure. Police agencies will be able to secretly break into people's homes and notify the person sometime afterward. "Harboring terrorists" will be a crime. Somebody could be guilty simply by having "reasonable grounds to believe" that the person being harbored is a terrorist.
The legislation also beefs up the police presence along the U.S.-Canada border.
The Senate unanimously approved another bill October 11 that would make all baggage X-ray workers federal employees, permanently place armed federal guards in the airports, and expand the number of plainclothes federal marshals on commercial flights. Aviation security would fall under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department.
Some 20,000 X-ray screeners who work for private companies are to be replaced by government-trained workers who are prohibited from taking strike action. The Bush administration opposes this step and has urged the House to remove it from similar legislation being discussed there.
The Senate bill allows pilots to carry firearms while working and calls for a study on the use of stun guns and other weapons on board aircraft. Every passenger who boards a plane will be taxed $2.50 to fund the new moves. The final version of the bill dropped a proposal for $1.9 billion in relief payments for the estimated 140,000 aviation workers thrown on the street by airline bosses since September 11.
Using $3 billion in "emergency" money appropriated by Congress, the Bush administration has already placed National Guard troops in airports and put more armed marshals on planes. No passengers are allowed to leave their seats for the first or final 30 minutes of any flight in and out of Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.
Harassment, intrusions by secret police
The FBI, Immigration and Naturalization Service, and other police agencies are collecting information about students from dozens of colleges and universities, under the pretext of investigating terrorism. At Middle Tennessee State University, for example, officials turned over the names of 1,000 current and former student aviators to the FBI after being asked about students from the Middle East.
At least six campuses in the California State University System have turned over information. Lindsey Kozberg, an Education Department spokeswoman, said that 25 to 30 schools have called for guidance after receiving police requests for student information.
Federal law protects the privacy of student records, which can only be released with student consent. However, the law contains exceptions, including a "health and safety emergency" provision that Department of Education officials claim applies in the current situation.
The Coast Guard reported that it is conducting its largest port defense operation since World War II, involving 72 special security zones in ports, waterways, and along the U.S. coastline. Commercial vessels face random searches.
Amtrak has barred passengers from purchasing tickets on board trains in the Northeast Corridor and now requires passengers to show photo identification before buying tickets.
On October 9, New York governor George Pataki posted National Guard troops in New York's Grand Central Terminal and in Pennsylvania Station. Motorists entering and leaving Manhattan are subject to routine searches of their vehicles.
Trampling on rights
Stories of workers who have had their rights trampled on have surfaced in the big-business press. Kenneth Ranger, Jr., a 23-year-old who allegedly discharged a liquid spray bottle when a cop asked him for identification in the Washington subway, was assaulted by police with batons and pepper spray. State and county health officials, FBI agents and state, county, and transit police then quarantined the Metro station, and stripped Ranger along with 15 cops and Metro workers. Men in chemical suits hosed them down with a bleach solution. The train car was quarantined and the sprayed liquid was sent to a military laboratory where it was identified as Resolve carpet cleaner.
The mass roundup of hundreds of people since September 11 has received scant news coverage. At least 165 people are being held on immigration law violations, and can be imprisoned virtually indefinitely. Many more are detained under a material witness statute that allows prosecutors to hold them for an indefinite period until they are released or sent before a grand jury.
According to the Washington Post, an unknown number of people are being held on circumstantial evidence and detained for a week or longer without legal representation or permission to contact family members. Two lawyers for men being held in solitary confinement in Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center said the men are denied exercise, provided only limited opportunities to shower, woken every two hours, and denied a basic Muslim diet.
Five young men were arrested coming into New York September 11, driving a large moving van. They had box cutters in their possession. Widespread news reports implied that the men may have been connected to the World Trade Center attacks. All five turned out to be Israeli Jews, at least four of whom work for a household moving company.
Unlike the large majority of other detainees, they managed to get their story out. Their lawyer, Steven Gordon, said the youth were blindfolded during interrogations, handcuffed in confinement, and forced to take polygraph tests. They were told that if they failed to cooperate, they could be charged with violations of obscure "black-humor statutes" which, in limited circumstances, allow people to be prosecuted for joking about security matters.
The lawyer was prohibited from visiting his clients until two weeks after their arrests. Even then, he said, six to eight guards sat in on their meetings and forbade them from speaking any language but English.
The five are being held pending deportation for "violating immigration law." When they first entered detention they initially joined a hunger strike by a group of Pakistanis.