News Release Archive - 2001

Interviews Available: “Millions Still Face Starvation”

JIM JENNINGS
President of Conscience International, a humanitarian aid organization, Jennings was in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan this May and will soon return to resume humanitarian work. He said today: “The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is far from over — millions still face starvation and disease. The sudden expansion of Northern Alliance territories, although opening the possibility of deliveries from the north, actually stopped the food convoys from Pakistan and Iran for several days because truck drivers are reluctant to travel into a militarily volatile situation…. Meanwhile, the humanitarian effort is losing precious days, a critical factor because of the onset of winter. For every day lost now, some people will die down the line.”

SARAH ZAIDI, ROGER NORMAND
Currently in Pakistan, Zaidi is research director of the Center for Economic and Social Rights. She said today: “The biggest obstacle to the relief effort is now posed by U.S. partners. Northern Alliance warlords have sabotaged supply routes inside Afghanistan, while Pakistan and other neighboring countries continue to seal their borders and prevent desperate people from reaching food and safety. Rather than seeking to score PR points, the U.S. military should pressure its allies to allow free movement to Afghans and to UN and private relief agencies. Ensuring that thousands of Afghans do not starve to death this winter is both a moral imperative and a human rights obligation for all parties who have contributed to the crisis — including the United States.” CESR’s executive director Normand said today: “The Geneva Conventions and Red Cross regulations mandate that relief aid be neutral, impartial and motivated solely by humanitarian concerns. But so far the U.S. military has viewed the food crisis in Afghanistan — which our bombing helped create — as a domestic PR opportunity. Independent relief agencies have condemned our military policy of dropping food into heavily-mined areas as not only ineffective and dangerous, but also a distraction from the unglamorous but crucial work of distributing the huge amounts of staple goods necessary to feed millions of hungry people.”
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ERWIN VAN’T LAND
Spokesperson for Doctors Without Borders (which has 30 international aid workers inside Afghanistan), Erwin van’t Land is in Islamabad. He said today: “Humanitarian work should be carried out by civilian agencies and should be completely independent of military considerations…. The situation deteriorated during the past two months of bombing, as large parts of the Afghan population dependent on international aid for survival did not receive it.”
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JOHN DAVISON
Spokesperson for Christian Aid, Davison recently arrived in London from Afghanistan. He said today: “The main routes we had managed to establish were coming in through Pakistan and lately virtually nothing is getting in — I believe only a single convoy got in yesterday…. Soon it will get to the point that the trucks won’t go out at all because of fears of getting stuck in the snow…. Everyone is glad that the Taliban have mostly lost power but the recent developments have demonstrated the lifesaving importance of the pause in the bombing that we and six other major international aid agencies had called for — our call went unheeded and now we face this crisis. In the Western and Central Highlands where we carry out most of our work, about 80 percent of the population is very vulnerable…. Food is very short and people are trying desperately to get out and they have no means of transportation. That’s hundreds of thousands of people facing starvation.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Interviews Available: Real Peace or Pax Americana?

JOHN QUIGLEY
Professor of international law at Ohio State University, Quigley said today: “We don’t seem to be doing anything to keep the Northern Alliance within the bounds of international conventions regarding warfare and the treatment of POWs. Since we are helping them achieve their goals, we are ultimately responsible for their conduct. Given the past record of human rights abuses and atrocities by the Northern Alliance, our vigilance on this issue is of utmost importance.” Quigley can also discuss the proposed use of military courts.

MARJORIE COHN
An associate professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Cohn said today: “The bombing of Afghanistan is not legitimate self-defense under the U.N. Charter, since the Sept. 11 attacks were criminal attacks, not armed attacks by another nation. Moreover, taking control of Afghanistan provides the U.S. government with the opportunity to set up a permanent military presence there … in order to increase U.S. access to attractive routes for transporting Caspian Sea oil.”
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DAVID GIBBS
Gibbs is an associate professor of political science at the University of Arizona, and his recent articles on Afghanistan have appeared in numerous publications including the Christian Science Monitor and the Sacramento Bee. Gibbs said today: “The military intervention in Afghanistan must be judged according to whether or not it makes us safer from terrorism in the long run. Even if bin Laden were captured, it would be relatively easy to reconstruct the terrorist organization; the events of the last few months have demonstrated that the main requirement is people willing to die for the cause. The bombing of Afghanistan may well serve as a recruiting poster for the next generation of terrorists and make us less safe in the long run.”
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AS’AD ABUKHALIL
Author of the forthcoming book Bin Laden and Taliban: The New American War Against Terrorism, associate professor of political science at California State University at Stanislaus and a fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, AbuKhalil said today: “Powell … did not consider the killing of the Palestinian people as terrorism. Here we have the primary victims of the one-year-old revolt — the ratio of death between the Palestinians and Israelis is something like 7 to 1 — being asked to ‘end terrorism.’ Do not the Palestinians deserve security too? Yes, the use of the word ‘Palestine’ and the word ‘occupation’ are new: but they are mere words, and European countries have uttered both decades ago. If this is an attempt to manipulate Arab public opinion as part of the war propaganda campaign, it is destined to fail, and to fail miserably. If anything, it will be viewed as an insult to the intelligence of the Arab peoples.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Afghan Women Warn Against the Northern Alliance

FAHIMA VORGETTS
Vorgetts headed a women’s literacy program in Kabul and fled Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion in 1979. (Her sister, operating an underground school for girls in Kabul, fled the country in 1999 when the Taliban learned of her activities.) Vorgetts said today: “For years we have been trying to raise awareness about the situation of women in Afghanistan and for years we were being ignored. We had to beg people to arrange an event. Now people are listening to what we say about the Taliban, but they must listen to what we say about the Northern Alliance to not repeat the same type of tragedy for the country as a whole and especially for the women of Afghanistan. The Taliban are horrible and Afghanistan will be much better off without them, but we must not forget that the Northern Alliance committed so many atrocities, so many crimes during their rule between 1992 and 1996 that they made it easy for the Taliban to come to power. Afghanistan has suffered for 23 years — there is no school, employment, streets, factories or bridges left. The bombing is making it worse, it’s causing more damage. If you want to stop terrorism you must help the country by providing infrastructure, investment, education and aid. The war must be against poverty and ignorance, that’s the only way to bring real peace to Afghanistan and consequently to the United States. The outside world spent billions of dollars to build up the mujahadeen. Now it should spend money to help bring some real peace.”

TAHMEENA FARYAL, [via Alicia Lucksted]
Spokesperson for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, the oldest women’s humanitarian and political organization in Afghanistan, Faryal said today: “Despite the claim of the U.S. that only military and terrorist bases of the Taliban and Al Qaeda would be struck and that its actions would be accurately targeted and proportionate, what we have witnessed for the past many days leaves no doubt that this invasion will shed the blood of numerous women, men, children, young and old of our country…. The U.S. and its allies were supporting the policies that helped foster Osama bin Ladin and the Taliban. Today they are sharpening the dagger of the ‘Northern Alliance.’ So many of those now involved in what has come to be called the Northern Alliance have the blood of our beloved people on their hands, as of course do the Taliban. Their sustained atrocities have been well documented by independent international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and others. From 1992 to 1996 in particular, these forces waged a brutal war against women, using rape, torture, abduction and forced marriage as their weapons. Many women committed suicide during this period as their only escape. Any initiative to establish a broad-based government must exclude all Taliban and other criminal Jehadi factions, unless and until a specific faction or person has been absolved of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Otherwise, the people will again be plunged into the living hell that engulfed our country from 1992 to 1996 — under elements now involved in the Northern Alliance — and continues to the present under the Taliban. The continuation of U.S. attacks and the increase in the number of innocent civilian victims not only gives an excuse to the Taliban, but also will cause the empowering of the fundamentalist forces in the region and even elsewhere in the world.”
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ZIEBA SHORISH-SHAMLEY
Shorish-Shamley is the founder and director of the Women’s Alliance for Peace and Human Rights in Afghanistan.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Putin and Bush: Below the Surface

At his news conference with President Vladimir Putin this afternoon, President Bush talked of a shared commitment to “peace and progress” along with “free markets and the rule of law.” As the two leaders continue to meet this week, the following analysts are available for interviews:

DAVID KOTZ
Co-author of Revolution From Above: The Demise of the Soviet System and professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Kotz said today: “There are reasons to be wary of the newly developed closer relationship between the Putin and Bush administrations…. The tactical importance of Russian help for the administration’s war in Afghanistan has led Bush to softpedal any criticism of the brutal Russian military tactics in Chechnya. This reinforces the impression that American criticism of ‘evil’ in the world depends strongly on the context — that is, on whether the perpetrator is a government that the U.S. desires to befriend or to oppose. Even worse, implicit American acceptance of Russian brutality in Muslim Chechnya lends support to the charge that the U.S. is leading a war against Islam. Russia’s recent Chechnya experience has lessons for the United States. Following several apartment bombings in Russia attributed to Chechen terrorists, Russian forces re-entered Chechnya behind brutal artillery bombardments. The years of lawlessness and chaos in Chechnya during the period of de facto independence had made many Chechens ready to welcome the Russians back. However, Russia’s military tactics outraged and alienated the local population, undermining the Russians’ aim of effectively regaining control of the breakaway province. There is a danger that the U.S. may be making similar miscalculations, if American military tactics outrage Muslims around the world, dissipating the sympathy for America and the support for anti-terrorist action engendered by the Sept. 11 attacks.”

JAY TRUMAN
Director of the Downwinders organization, Truman is an authority on nuclear weapons. He said today: “Bush and Putin are outlining reductions in the number of deployed nuclear weapons, but at the same time, Bush is leaving the door open for an arms race. As Bush was speaking, the U.S. government was boycotting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty conference in New York. Weapons cuts and eliminating the ability to produce weapons should go hand in hand. What we say and what we do are different — that’s why we have an arms race in South Asia.”

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JOHN BURROUGHS
Burroughs is executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy. He said today: “Bush’s announced intention is to maintain about 2,000 operational long-range nuclear weapons for the next decade…. [This] definitely does not fulfill the legal obligation under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of the United States and other nuclear-armed countries to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.”
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BRUCE GAGNON
International coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, Gagnon said today: “Bush’s statement that we have ‘different points of view on ABM’ reflects the reality that the U.S. still intends to ‘break out’ of the ABM treaty and ultimately deploy the destabilizing and costly Star Wars program. The U.S. intends to ‘control and dominate’ space. A new space-based arms race will ensue.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Trade and Terrorism: Interviews Available

* Fast Track

SARAH ANDERSON
Director of the Global Economy Project of the Institute for Policy Studies, Anderson said today: “As they pressure Congress to vote as soon as possible on a controversial bill to renew trade promotion authority, also known as ‘fast track,’ Bush administration officials are arguing that America needs more free trade to fight Bin Laden. Robert Zoellick, U.S. Trade Representative, argues that there is an ‘inextricable link’ between economic prosperity and global security. But fast track is not the right approach to achieving global prosperity. U.S. forcefulness in trade negotiations has resulted in trade deals that primarily benefit large corporations, and the current fast track proposal would virtually ensure more of the same. In Latin America alone, the Inter-American Development Bank reports that any gains in terms of economic growth were wiped out by rising inequality during the past decade, a period of rapid trade and investment liberalization.”

* WTO and Beyond

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GREG PALAST
An economist and author of the book Democratic Regulation, Palast recently wrote the article “The WTO’s Hidden Agenda.” He said today: “The WTO is not an instrument of free trade, it is the institutionalization of unfair and imbalanced trade. Former chief economist of the World Bank and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz likens free trade by the rules of the WTO and World Bank to the Opium Wars. ‘That too was about opening markets,’ he said to me in a recent interview. As in the 19th century, Europeans and Americans today are kicking down the barriers to sales in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, while barricading our own markets against Third World agriculture and textile goods. In the Opium Wars, the West used military blockades to force open markets for unbalanced trade. Today, this is done through a financial blockade, which is just as effective and sometimes just as deadly.”
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ASIA RUSSELL or PAUL DAVIS
Russell and Davis are members of the Health GAP Coalition, which has been working to ensure that developing countries can produce generic AIDS drugs. Russell is in Doha, Qatar for the WTO summit.
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DAVID BACON
An independent labor analyst, Bacon is author of the recent article “Fast Track Legislation Comes Back from the Dead.” He said today: “Labor standards don’t even seem to be an issue in Doha.”
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DAVID WASKOW
Trade and international policy coordinator for Friends of the Earth, Waskow said today: “At the beginning of the meeting, WTO Director-General Mike Moore stated that ‘We have learned a lot out of Seattle.’ Unfortunately, we are once again witnessing misleading and exclusionary negotiating tactics. If the European Union, the U.S. and Japan have their way, a huge range of new sectors will come under WTO rules, meaning greater rights for Northern-based transnationals, but possibly little else for poorer countries and people, smaller companies and the environment. These policies lead to the continued marginalization of many developing countries. The WTO is failing to address the concerns raised by poor countries and civil society…”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

WTO and War: “Invisible Hand and Invisible Fist”?

MARTIN KHOR
Khor, director of the Third World Network, is now in Doha, Qatar for the WTO summit. He said today: “An unbalanced draft Declaration has been transmitted by the WTO General Council chair to the Doha meeting. This is another example of the untransparent, discriminatory, biased and manipulative process of decision-making at the WTO that favors a few developed countries at the expense of the many developing countries.”

ANURADHA MITTAL
Mittal, co-director of Food First, is in Doha (and will be posting updates to www.foodfirst.org).

ROBERT McCHESNEY
Co-author of The Global Media: The New Missionaries of Corporate Capitalism and research professor in the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, McChesney said today: “The U.S. government has talked about the ‘propaganda war’ abroad, the need to counter the words and images of the Taliban. But citizens at home should realize that we are a target for propaganda as well, as U.S. officials do their best to spin the news in the United States.”
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KEVIN DANAHER
Co-founder of Global Exchange and author of Globalize This, Danaher said today: “It’s been said that the invisible hand of the market can’t operate without the invisible fist that is U.S. military power. The problem is that the market’s hand isn’t invisible for the millions of parents whose children are going hungry because of the inequality built into the global economy. And the fist isn’t invisible for the victims of the so-called ‘collateral damage.’ The millions of people around the world struggling to change inhumane economic and military policies realize that these hands and fists will not bring global justice. Only a new ethic that values life over profit can do that.” Danaher is currently in New York City.
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BRIAN WILLSON
Willson, a former U.S. Air Force captain who served in Vietnam, is critical of “the pattern of U.S. overt and covert interventions.”

GERD LEIPOLD
Greenpeace international executive director, Leipold is aboard the ship Rainbow Warrior, which sailed into Doha on Thursday in an effort to get the U.S. to commit to the Kyoto Protocol. He said today: “The WTO’s own charter claims it promotes the use of the world’s resources for sustainable development. That claim is nonsense if they do not actively promote efforts to combat climate change through the Kyoto Protocol.”
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ANDREAS ZUMACH
Zumach is a correspondent for Die Tageszeitung newspaper and regularly covers the UN. He is in Doha.

MARK WEISBROT
Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Weisbrot criticizes the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement at the WTO as “inconsistent with ‘free trade’ principles and — in the case of patents on essential medicines — a deadly form of protectionism.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

“Globalization” in a Time of War

The World Trade Organization is scheduled to begin its long-awaited summit in Qatar on Friday.

SOPHIA MURPHY
BEN LILLISTON
Communications coordinator at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Lilliston said today: “The form of globalization represented by the WTO will do little to lessen the threat of terrorism. In fact, it is driving greater divisions between the rich and poor — between developed and developing countries.” Director of the Trade Program for IATP, Murphy said today: “Despite the collapse of the WTO talks in Seattle, it seems developed countries’ governments have learned nothing. We are now presented with a text that several developing countries have rejected outright, and which fails to reflect the positions of the Africa Group. The General Council has been bypassed by a process of one-on-one and then small group meetings, as well as mini-ministerials which were not open to all members…. Trade rules for agriculture must address dumping of agricultural products in the international system. The lack of competition in international commodity markets ensures an asymmetric division of profits; that benefits agribusiness rather than producers or consumers.”
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ZIAD ABDEL SAMAD
Ziad Abdel Samad is executive director of the Arab NGO Network for Development, a coalition of human rights, environmental, labor and other groups that has co-organized an NGO forum in Beirut which ends Thursday. He will be in Doha, Qatar for the WTO meeting. He said today: “The majority of the developing countries that have joined the WTO are calling to stop and assess the impact of the implementation of WTO agreements on the social and economic effects of trade agreements… They are also calling for the reassessment of the mechanisms of the WTO, especially those related to participation in the decision-making process and the dispute settlement body in the WTO.”
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ROBERT WEISSMAN
Co-director of Essential Action, Weissman said today: “Confronted with the prospect of bioterrorism on a massive scale, the Bush administration and the pharmaceutical industry have colluded to protect patent monopolies at the expense of public health. The administration has refused to take steps to authorize competitive generic production of Cipro to ensure an adequate supply of the product…. Now U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick is hard at work in the WTO negotiations to deny poor countries the policy tools — including the early introduction of generic competition — they need to make essential medicines more accessible. These disputes are about corporate profit versus public health, clean and simple.”
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DOUG HENWOOD
Editor of Left Business Observer, Henwood said today: “In this time of crisis, opportunism is everywhere, with lobbyists using the dismal economy as an excuse to shake loose giant tax breaks from Congress, and the free trade crowd using global recession and even the ‘war on terrorism’ as excuses to promote a whole new trade round. Their brand of neoliberalism has given us a vast polarization of incomes and regular financial crises, but they assure us that the only cure is more of the same.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

War on Terrorism?

WILLIAM HARTUNG
Hartung, senior research fellow at the World Policy Institute, wrote the article “The New Business of War.” He said today: “After almost four weeks of bombing, even some top U.S. military planners now admit every major military target has already been hit several times over. Yet the Taliban’s hold on power is at least as strong as it was before the bombing. In the meantime, civilian casualties are mounting. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has engaged in twisted logic worthy of Orwell’s 1984, claiming that the U.S. is not responsible for the civilian casualties caused by its bombing raids. At his October 29 press briefing, he said: ‘[R]esponsibility for every single casualty in this war, be they innocent Afghans or innocent Americans, rests at the feet of Taliban and Al Qaeda.’ Rumsfeld seems to be saying that the U.S. government is not responsible for civilian casualties that result from the bombing, even if U.S. forces target civilian areas.”
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MARK WEISBROT
Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Weisbrot said today: “President Bush has declared a ‘war on terror,’ and political leaders such as Dick Gephardt insist that ‘this is not a strike against the people of Afghanistan.’ But the evidence is accumulating that our current military campaign is indeed, as most of the world sees it, being waged against the Afghan people. Referring to the bombing campaign, Admiral Michael Boyce, Chief of the British Defense Staff, said: ‘The squeeze will carry on until the people of the country themselves recognize that this is going to go on until they get the leadership changed.’ It seems clear that Admiral Boyce sees the punishment of Afghan civilians, including their children, as an important part of the U.S./British strategy.”
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REV. GRAYLAN S. HAGLER
Pastor of the Plymouth Congregational Church UCC, Hagler said today: “It is the height of hypocrisy to bemoan the terrorism on U.S. soil and then seemingly condone the taking of life on Afghan soil.”

GINA COPLON-NEWFIELD
Coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines, Coplon-Newfield said today: “Cluster bombs, which the Pentagon has confirmed it is using in Afghanistan, like antipersonnel landmines are extremely dangerous to civilians because of their high dud rate. Kosovar men, women, and children are still dying upon contact with cluster bombs dropped by NATO a few years ago. We expect the same to occur in Afghanistan where some of the people are so desperate that, often with fatal consequences, they are attempting to dismantle landmines and cluster bombs for the scrap metal. While landmines generally explode vertically and tend to maim, cluster bombs generally explode in all directions and tend to kill.”
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TITUS PEACHEY
Director of peace education of the Mennonite Central Committee, Peachey said today: “Cluster weapon delivery systems carry hundreds of submunitions, saturating an area with flying shards of steel. Depending on the delivery system, they can cover areas ranging from a football field to a square kilometer. Over the past 35 years, cluster munitions have demonstrated a predictable pattern of indiscriminate injury and death. They should not be used in any war, including Afghanistan.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

United We Stand?

KATE MARTIN or KEN GUDE
Director of the Center for National Security Studies, Martin said today: “We do not live in a country where the government can keep secret who it arrests, where detainees are being held, or the charges against them. The secret detention of more than 1,000 people over the past few weeks is frighteningly close to the practice of ‘disappearing’ people in Latin America.” Ken Gude is a policy analyst with the group, which is demanding information from the government on the detainees under the Freedom of Information Act.
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BETSY LEONDAR-WRIGHT or RICHARD PERL
Communications director for United for a Fair Economy, Leondar-Wright said today: “Under the House plan, 14 profitable corporations such as IBM and General Motors would get $6.3 billion in rebates of their Alternative Minimum Tax payments back to 1986. These companies had in 2000 a net worth of over $217 billion and $43 billion of cash in the bank. In contrast, the bottom 60 percent of Americans (making under $75,000) only get 7 percent of the benefits this year.” A New York member of Responsible Wealth, a project of United for a Fair Economy, Richard Perl, president of Pacific Partners International Investments said, “I’d be embarrassed to take a tax cut at a time like this…. It is not just ineffective; it’s unpatriotic.”
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DAVID SWANSON
Communications coordinator for ACORN, an organization advocating for low and middle income Americans, Swanson said today: “We’re headed in exactly the wrong direction with the Bush plan. What’s needed both to help the people who are suffering the most and to actually stimulate the economy is to get money into the hands of low income people who need it the most and who are more likely to immediately spend it in a variety of sectors of the economy.”
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JILL NELSON
Nelson is editor of the recently released book Police Brutality: An Anthology. She said: “We want to believe in the facade of national unity that has been hastily constructed in the wake of the terror attacks. We want to believe that as American citizens, we are all in this together, as equals…. It is tempting at this point to succumb to a defensive patriotism and the desire to believe government assurances that they know what they’re doing and will do the right thing. Sadly, the circumstances surrounding the deaths of [postal workers] Thomas Morris and Joseph Curseen tell us otherwise.”
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VANESSA DIXON
A member of the Healthcare Now Coalition and union organizer for the Committee of Interns and Residents, Dixon presented the paper “Communities in the Wake of Public Hospital Closures” at the recent American Public Health Association conference. She said today: “In the aftermath of the anthrax outbreak, officials told postal workers to go to D.C. General Hospital to have tests. The problem is that D.C. General is no longer a hospital. It was privatized last year and is now a level two emergency unit. They actually covered up the ‘hospital’ sign at the entrance. It’s a shell of a public facility. While some are treated at top-notch facilities, the rest of us are left at the mercy of overcrowded private hospitals and disappearing public hospitals.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Afghanistan and Iraq

PETER BOUCKAERT
Senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, for the last three weeks Bouckaert has been interviewing five to ten Afghan refugees in Quetta and Peshawar daily. He said today: “We have seen an increase in the impact of the bombing campaign on the civilian population. There’s a broader range of targets being hit — the International Committee of the Red Cross has been hit twice in Kabul and other aid organizations have also been affected. It’s clearly more than just radar stations and airfields. I don’t think that the U.S. is targeting civilians, but some serious targeting errors are happening. A lot of the bombing is taking place in the cities and so people are fleeing to the rural areas. That will deplete the limited food supplies there and increase the likelihood of famine.” Human Rights Watch has just documented civilian deaths in two Afghan villages caused by U.S. weaponry.
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HANS VON SPONECK
Former UN Assistant Secretary General, von Sponeck headed the UN “oil-for-food” program until he resigned last year in protest over the continued sanctions on Iraq. On a speaking tour in North America until November 11, von Sponeck said today: “There’s no evidence linking Iraq to the anthrax outbreak though some are arguing that it is a likely suspect without offering evidence. Following this path will only intensify the prospects of a silent suffering which has gone on for 11 years. Iraq has polluted water, lack of medicine and malnutrition, all due to the sanctions. The UN sanctions committee currently has ‘holds’ preventing delivery of $4 billion of humanitarian supplies. It’s clear that in the case of Afghanistan, the so-called collateral damage that the international community was told would not happen is now occurring.”
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PETER PELLETT
Professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Massachusetts and team leader for several Food and Nutrition Missions to Iraq for the UN agency Food and Agricultural Organization, Pellett said today: “In both Afghanistan and Iraq, we are seeing widespread malnutrition, especially of young children. Both have external causes though there has been a drought throughout the region for several years. In Iraq the ‘oil-for-food’ program is providing 2,200 calories per day, but child malnutrition is mainly caused by the dilapidation in the water and sanitation systems. Afghanistan is clearly much more of an emergency situation and the required food aid, which even previously was barely coping, is now massively disrupted by both the air strikes and large population movements. Significant distribution of food will only be possible when agreed pauses are made in the air campaign.”
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KATHY KELLY
Coordinator of Voices in the Wilderness, a group which has openly violated the economic sanctions against Iraq, Kelly said today: “In the past, U.S. officials presented a simplistic view of foreign policy — everything that went wrong in Iraq was blamed on Saddam Hussein. Now we’re seeing the same thing for Afghanistan. The Pentagon has been bombing Iraq continuously and that has been ignored; now we bomb Afghanistan with cluster bombs. Aid agencies warn us that millions of people in Afghanistan face starvation. People in other parts of the world will be watching their plight. There is no clear indication that the military campaign against Afghanistan is going to dislodge the Taliban or the Al-Queda network. If anything, it may strengthen the existing regime the way a decade of economic sanctions on Iraq have strengthened Hussein’s government.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167