Democracy Now! March 24, 2003

Program Title:
Democracy Now! March 24, 2003
Series Title:
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Hour 1: Red Cross says humanitarian crisis is looming in Basra; TV networks are preoccupied with action footage from reporters embedded with U.S. military; US says Iraq s treatment of American POWs breaks Geneva Convention; legal experts call Bush administration hypocritical, citing US treatment of Taliban prisoners and the invasion of Iraq; A report from Baghdad during the Shock And Awe bombing: independent journalist Mei Ying Welsh reports from Baghdad; Millions protest around the world, hundreds of thousands protest in NYC: we go to the streets of NYC Hour 2: Up to 209 civilians killed in early days of U.S. invasion: Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness reports from Baghdad; 11 members of Congress vote to oppose war: We talk to Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA); U.S. reportedly fires DU shells in Basra: Despite evidence of health and environmental effects, Pentagon denies DU is dangerous; "We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush!": Michael Moore wins an Oscar and joins others calling for peace

8:00-8:01 Billboard 8:01-8:06 Headlines 8:06-8:07 One Minute Music Break 8:07-8:15: An article on the front page of the New York Times begins: In the swirl of confusing facts, the first scenes of the invasion of Iraq were astonishingly clear. Television did more than bring viewers closer to the front lines of battle than ever before, however. It looked at warfare through an entirely new prism. Television cameras' usual route to battle is the trail left by its victims. Whether in Kosovo, Israel, Chechnya or Afghanistan, combat is mostly conveyed by shots of a crowded refugee tent or a collapsed high-rise, a bloodied sidewalk, a full hospital ward or an open grave. This time, the Pentagon took viewers on a thrilling ride-along with the warriors. Videophones, portable satellites and night-sight scopes brought the world a riveting display of American power, but it was a sanitized look, showing a little sweat, not blood and tears. Well, the International Committee of the Red Cross is warning a humanitarian crisis is looming in Basra after US bombing. The bombing has destroyed electrical cables, cutting off electricity in the city and the water system. Iraqi officials say 77 civilians died in the attack. Guest: Nada Doumani, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross Links: 8:15-8:20: On Sunday, U.S. forces suffered what the Guardian of London described as the military s worst day since the "Black Hawk Down" debacle in Somalia a decade ago. 15 American soldiers were killed, 14 were wounded and five were taken prisoners or war. Arabic news network Al Jazeera broadcast video of the POWs around the Middle East. President Bush responded by saying those responsible for the mistreatment of POWs would be treated as war criminals. War Secretary Rumsfeld told CBS program Face the Nation: "The Geneva Convention indicates that it is not permitted to photograph and embarrass or humiliate prisoners of war. And if they do happen to be American or coalition ground forces that have been captured, the Geneva Convention indicates how they should be treated. The TV networks began broadcasting detailed reports on how the footage violated the Geneva Conventions. But the networks didn t seem so interested in international law when US forces captured Iraqi fighters or Taliban soldiers. Nor did the networks give much attention to the fact that many legal experts believe the US invasion of Iraq is illegal. The Nuremberg Tribunal was set up in 1946 by the US, Britain, France and Russia to try former Nazi leaders. The Tribunal rejected German arguments of the necessity for preemptive attacks against its neighbors and instead outlawed preventive war. The Tribunal ruled, "To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." Guest: Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, 8:20-8:21 One Minute Music Break 8:21-8:30 POW s cont d 8:30-8:45: On Friday, the U.S. led the heaviest bombing assault that Baghdad had ever seen. Shock and Awe was how the Pentagon described the overwhelming attack. The London Mirror newspaper described it as shocking and awful. During the campaign the U.S. and Britain flew a combined 2,000 sorties and launched 1,000 cruise missiles that pummeled Baghdad, as well as the northern Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk and Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. The number of casualties are unknown. We reached Mei Ying Welsh, one of the few independent journalists left in Baghdad, just after the first round of the Shock and Awe bombing on Friday. Guest: Mei Ying Welsh, independent journalist in Baghdad 8:45-8:46 One Minute Music Break 8:46-8:58: Millions of people around the world participated in demonstrations against the war this weekend. Some of the largest protests were staged in the United States. In New York, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets. Marchers filled a 30-block long stretch of Broadway, sidewalk to sidewalk, for four hours. Demonstrators said police used pepper spray and 90 arrests were made. Police report that 13 officers were treated after being sprayed with an unknown substance. Nearly 20,000 people picketed outside CNN s studios in Los Angeles and Atlanta, protesting the networks coverage of the war for its bias towards the United States-led invasion. And on Sunday night, anti-war protestors gathered outside the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles where the Oscar ceremonies were held. Tens of thousands of people protested over the weekend in San Francisco. The city, which is already struggling with a $350 million budget shortfall claims the protests are costing the city more than $900,000 a day. Spokespeople for the anti-war coalition International Action said the city should send the bill to the White House. More than 2,000 people have been arrested in anti-war demonstration there since the invasion began. Veterans Against the Iraq War kicked off Operation Dire Distress with a conference in Washington on Saturday and a march on the Mall on Sunday. The group condemned the war in a statement that read (in part) The present administration is led by men and women who chose not to go into the military and today have little understanding of war and no comprehension of its consequences. Protests also took place in Seattle, Chicago and other US cities. In San Juan Puerto Rico, thousands- including the city s Archbishop and several Korean War Veterans- demonstrated against the war. In Baghdad, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens protested the war and the policies of the invading countries claiming to liberate them. Demonstrations were held throughout Britain over the weekend. Half a million people turned out in London s Hyde Park on Saturday according to the Stop The War Coalition. Police put the estimate lower at around 200,000. Marches were held at U.S. Military bases in Gloucester and Yorkshire. Several thousand people also marched in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester among other cities. Nearly a million people across Spain marched against the war. Fifty people were injured during protests in Madrid where riot police fought back protestors with rubber bullets. In Germany, there was a march on the U.S. Armies European command in Stuttgart. Thousands of Italians marched on a NATO air base- while in Rome, activists draped a large black banner across the Coliseum: a gesture of mourning for the victims of the war. At least 25,000 people protested the war in Amsterdam and 6,000-plus protested outside embassies in Brussels. Police and small numbers of black bloc protestors fought during a mostly peaceful demonstration of some 40,000 people in Berne, Switzerland. 40,000 Australians participated in the fourth day on protests in Sydney. The protest began with a prayer service by the city s Anglican Dean, Phillip Jensen, who called war hellish in its horror and destruction and hellish in its suffering. More than 100,000 people demonstrated in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore. The Guardian reports many protestors there carried pictures of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden and chanted Kill America! Kill America! The government in Pakistan, which has supported the Washington s War on Terror , said it deplored the use of force in Iraq. Protestors burnt an Effigy of President Bush outside the U.S. mission in Jakarta. 8,000 people marched in Malaysia. 3,000 people gathered in Seoul- the Capital of South Korea- to their government s decision to send up-to-700 non-combatant troops to assist the war. The U.S. shut its embassies in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Protests were held throughout the African continent in cities like Mombassa and Mogadishu in Somalia. 1,000 people demonstrated outside the World Cup Cricket finals in Johannesburg. Hundreds of riot police watched 5,000 students from Al-Azhar University in Cairo protest the war. We go now to the streets of New York City. At the beginning of the march, I had a chance to interview actor Ossie Davis, who is also a veteran of WWII. Guest: Ossie Davis, actor and veteran of WWII, interviewed in Herald Square on March 22, 2003. We go now to sound from the end of the march, recorded by Democracy Now! senior producer Kris Abrams. After marching for 30 blocks, protesters were greeted by a white police van parked at the Northwest corner of the park. It blared over and over a recorded message telling people to leave. Then, as protesters milled around, police in riot gear marched toward them in formation and tried to clear the streets. People responded by pulling together defiantly and sitting down in the street. Tape: sounds from street, NYC, March 22, 2003 9:00-9:01 Billboard 9:01-9:06 Headlines 9:06-9:07 One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:20: Between 135 and 209 civilians have been killed since the start of the U.S. invasion. This according to the website, . In Basra, Iraqi officials say U.S. forces killed 77. The number of civilians killed during the shock and awe attack of Baghdad is unknown. Near the Syrian border, a U.S. missile hit a passenger bus carrying Syrian civilians fleeing the war in Iraq. Five were killed and 10 were injured. Meanwhile U.S. forces suffered yesterday what the Guardian of London described as the military s worst day since the "Black Hawk Down" debacle in Somalia a decade ago. On Sunday 15 American soldiers were killed, 14 were wounded and five were take prisoner or war. Video of the POWs appeared on the Arabic news station Al Jazeera. Guest: Kathy Kelly, founder of Voices in the Wilderness speaking from from Baghdad. Link: Voices in the Wilderness, One Minute Music Break 9:21-9:26: Last week Congress overwhelmingly backed a resolution to endorse the war in Iraq. The vote in the Senate was 99 to 0. In the House of Representatives the vote was 392-11. The 11 were John Conyers of Michigan; Ohioan Stephanie Tubbs Jones; Californians Barbara Lee, Diane Watson, Maxine Waters, Mike Honda and Pete Stark; New Yorkers Charles Rangel and Edolphus Towns; Virginian Bobby Scott; Jim McDermott from Washington and Republican Ron Paul of Texas. Another 22 members of Congress simply voted present. Congressman John Lewis, D-GA was one of them. He said from the floor "In all good conscience, I cannot and will not vote for a resolution that supports and endorses a failed policy that led us to war. Today we are joined by one of the 11, Congressman Jim McDermott from Washington. * Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) 9:26-9:50: The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned a humanitarian crisis is looming in Iraq s second largest city Basra following US-led airstrikes on the strategic city. Iraqi officials say 77 civilians died in the attack. The Red Cross said the bombings destroyed electricity cables powering the local water station. The city s water and electricity have been cut off for more than two days. And the situation may get worse. The Iranian News Agency is reporting today that U.S. and British coalition forces have fired depleted uranium shells on Iraqi tanks in the city of Basra. It is the first report that depleted uranium was used in the invasion of Iraq. Depleted uranium is the most effective anti-tank weapon ever devised. It is made from nuclear waste left over from making nuclear weapons and fuel. As an unwanted waste product of the atomic energy industry, it is extremely cheap. It is also the densest material available on the market, and can smash through all known armor. US gunners say DU rounds save lives on the front line. During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the United States used 320 tons of munitions made with depleted uranium. The Air Force fired roughly 750,000 rounds from A-10 aircraft. The Army fired over 50 of DU ammunition from Abrams tanks. Health officials have long debated the effects of depleted uranium. Many say DU is a major cause of the severe health problems such as cancer and birth defects. The director of the cancer ward at Basra's Saddam Teaching Hospital says cancer rates have increased eleven times since the first Gulf War. Last week the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations warned that the U.S. would cause grave environmental consequences if it were to be use DU again in Iraq. The Pentagon denies depleted uranium poses health or environmental risks. Guest: Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), who is introducing House resolution calling for Congressional investigation of depleted uranium Guest: Pentagon press briefing on depleted uranium, March 14, 2003 Guest: Doug Rokke, former major in the US army and a nuclear health physicist. Rokke was in charge of some of the DU clean-up after the gulf war. He believes the Pentagon is ignoring and even covering up evidence of the danger to soldiers and civilians because DU weapons have proven so effective. Guest: Dai Williams, Independent weapons researcher who has analysed suspected uranium weapons by looking at defense patents. Dai says the Pentagon's briefing on DU last Friday, March 14th contained many misleading statements about DU. Guest: Damacio Lopez, Executive Director of International Depleted Uranium Study Team IDUST. He was in Iraq just recently with a Japanese team whose members have researched the effects of Hiroshima on the environment and on humans. Lopez and the team conducted independent tests on radiation contamination and radiation sickness in different towns in Iraq. Links: 9:40-9:41 One Minute Music Break 9:41-9:50 DU cont d 9:51-9:58: As fighting raged in Iraq, the 75th annual Academy Awards ceremony was held last night. Some Oscar winners chose to speak out against the war in the 45 seconds allotted to them on national television. An estimated one billion people were watching around the globe. Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore s Bowling for Columbine won the best feature-length documentary. He gave a scathing speech against the war and against President Bush. Actor Adrien Brody pulled off a major upset and won the best-actor Oscar for The Pianist. Many celebrities wore peace pins. And Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins and others showed up in fuel-efficient gasoline-electric hybrid cars instead of limousines as a statement against U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Actor Matthew McConaughey wore large red, white and blue flowers. * Michael Moore, receiving the Oscar for documentary Bowling for Columbine, March 23, 2003 * Pedro Almodovar, Spanish director-writer who received the Oscar for best original screenplay for Talk To Her. * Gael Garcia Bernal, Mexican actor who starred in Y Tu Mama Tambien". He introduced leading Brazilian singer, Caetano Veloso * Adrien Brody, actor who won Oscar for his role in The Pianist 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Ana Nogueira and Elizabeth Press. Mike Di Filippo is our music maestro and engineer.

Date Recorded on: 
March 24, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
March 24, 2003
Item duration: 
118 min.
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WBAI; Amy Goodman, host., March 24, 2003
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