Democracy Now! March 27, 2003

Program Title:
Democracy Now! March 27, 2003
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Hour 1: Live from Baghdad: 14 killed in a Baghdad market, as Iraqi clerics call for jihad against US invasion forces; The Pentagon knows large percentages of smart bombs malfunction and civilian deaths are a certainty: a discussion on how smart the bombs really are; Live from the streets of NYC: hundreds die in and shut down 5th Ave.; Iraqi families sue Powell, Cheney, and Bush, Sr. over bombing of civilian shelter in 1991 that killed over 400 people; but the Belgian parliament passes a law that could prevent the lawsuit from moving forward; Shi ites warn US troops will face armed resistance if they occupy Iraq after the invasion; this, as coalition hopes of uprising in Basra evaporate; NYC protesters die in under bulldozer at an Israeli bank, shutting down 5th Ave; Palestinian Cleaver family again faces deportation: we hear from the eldest daughter, Noor Kesbeh Hour 2: In New York City scores are being arrested this morning in direct action protests against the war.; U.S. bombs Iraqi Television again: International Federation of Journalists condemns attack as a violation of the Geneva conventions; Is the world watching two different versions of the invasion of Iraq? A comparison of the Arab-language and western media; U.S. government pressures UN nations (again) not to oppose Iraq attack; Could the war cost $800 billion? A discussion on the cost of the Iraq invasion and what it means to the American public; Under surveillance from the military and under pressure from MTV: Hip hop star Michael Franti talks about the pressure caused by speaking out against war

8:00-8:01 Billboard 8:01-8:06 Headlines 8:06-8:07 One Minute Music Break 8:07-8:20: Pentagon officials have been changing their story on the missile attack on a Baghdad market from the moment it occurred. Yesterday morning, a missile struck the busy, poor residential area, killing 14 civilians. The US central command issued a statement to say US aircraft had used precision-guided weapons to target Iraqi anti-aircraft missiles "positioned less than 300 feet from homes". But a few hours later senior Pentagon official Major-General Stanley McChrystal said no coalition aircraft had targeted any air defences in the Shaab district, where the blast occurred. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers said: "It's just as likely that it's some piece of equipment of theirs as one of ours." Meanwhile, the Iraqi health minister said today there have 4,000 civilian casualties including 350 deaths since the invasion began. He also said that 36 people were killed in the last 24 hours in the continuing raids on Baghdad. We go now live to Baghdad with May Ying Welsh, who visited the Shaab market yeterday after the attack. She also reports the Iraqi government has begun distributing leaflets in neighborhoods throughout Iraq calling on citizens to resist the US invasion. The leaflets have pictures of two of the most significant religious figures in Iraq, one Sunni the other Shiite. The leaflets reference two fatwas, religious decrees, issued by Iraqi clerics calling for jihad, holy war, against any foreign occupiers. This, as Saddam Hussein met today with the heads of Iraq s powerful tribes in which he told them that they should fight the invaders with all their means. Guest: May Ying Welsh, independent journalist in Baghdad who visited the Shaab market yesterday after the attack 8:20-8:21 One Minute Music Break 8:21-8:30: An article in yesterday s Washington Post begins: Breakfast was simple, but late. Days of bombing had left the Khalil family sleepless. When a respite arrived at noon today, a moment of ease in an uneasy time, they sat down, picking anxiously at boiled eggs, tomatoes and bread. Nine-year-old Shahid told stories, and her 12-year-old brother, Ahmed, laughed. The older family members, with harrowing memories of bombings in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, sat uneasily, their silence an eloquent testament to worry. Then a whisper sounded, ever so slight. In seconds, the house was shattered by a cruise missile, the family said. Um Aqeel, the mother of five children, and her daughter-in-law Sahar, were killed. Two sons and a daughter were wounded. Hours later, weary and angry, Aqeel, the oldest son, looked out at his bandaged siblings laying dazed in their hospital beds. He shouted, " There are no soldiers in my home, there's no gun in my home! How can God accept this?" As civilian casualties mount, we re joined right now by Hadi Ghaemi, an independent researcher and former physics professor. Guest: Hadi Ghaemi, researcher with CESR and former professor of physics at the City University of New York. (He is currently working on a book about the cultural revolution in Iran.) 8:30-8:33 Tape: protester outside Rockefeller Center in NYC 8:33-8:40: Iraqi civilians are still trying obtain justice over the first Gulf War. Last week, a group of Iraqis sued Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State General Colin Powell, former US president George Bush Sr., and retired US general Norman Schwartzkopf. The lawsuit was filed by seven Iraqi families over the bombing of a civilian bomb shelter in Baghdad that killed 403 people on the night of February 12-13, 1991. Powell served as the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and Cheney as defense secretary during the 1991 Gulf war. Under Belgian law, courts can try suspects for war crimes regardless of where the alleged acts took place or the nationality of the accused. But the Belgian parliament has just passed a law that could prevent the suit from going forward. Under the amendment, a federal prosecutor can decide in certain cases whether to accept a lawsuit. The amendment now goes to the Belgian Senate for approval. Guest: Reed Brody, Special Counsel for Prosecutions, Human Rights Watch, 8:40-8:41 One Minute Music Break 8:41-8:50: The leader of Iraq's main Shi'ite opposition group warned Washington yesterday that U.S. troops would face armed resistance if they occupy Iraq after the invasion. The Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution (SCIRI) in Iraq is based in Tehran, Iran. Its leader, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir Hakim, said: "Iraqis are against foreign dominance, and if they (the Americans) don't want to leave Iraq, the nation will resist. He said, "One of the legitimate ways of resistance against occupiers is force and weapons." The SCIRI has some support from Iraq's Muslim Shi'ite majority, particularly in the south of the country. Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir Hakim says he has tens of thousands of troops stationed outside Iraq as well as in the Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Meanwhile, in the South, coalition hopes of an uprising in Basra are evaporating, according to the Financial Times. British intelligence reported an uprising had begun earlier this week. But the evidence has failed to materialize. The majority of people in Basra are Shia Muslims. The main exiled Iraqi Shia organization yesterday said the Shia community had been instructed to remain neutral in the US-led invasion. The SCIRI said there did appear to have been trouble in the city, but played down the scale of the unrest. Guest: Hadi Ghaemi, independent researcher and former professor of physics at the City University of New York. He is currently working on a book about the cultural revolution in Iran. Guest: Andrew Cockburn, author of Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein. 8:50-8:54: 18 protesters yesterday locked together and formed a human barricade across Fifth Avenue in front of a New York branch of Israel s Bank Leumi. Covered in fake blood, the protesters lay piled in the street at the foot of a mock Caterpillar bulldozer. The activists were protesting the murder of US peace activist Rachel Corrie by an Israel army Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza earlier this month. Guest: Shmulick Rodich, member of Jews Against Occupation who participated in yesterday s lockdown on 5th Avenue. Phone: 917-748-9356 Video info: MiniDV * 8:54-8:58: They have been described as the "Palestinian Cleavers." They were a generous and patriotic family that gave away hundreds of free American flags in Houston after Sept. 11. They have been publicly supported by their U.S. Congresswoman. They came to the U.S. after fleeing Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. They have lived an unremarkable life in Houston for 11 years. But that all changed a year ago when armed INS agents dressed in riot gear raided their house while much of the family was sleeping. The father and eldest son were picked up on immigration violations and were detained for months. And now they face deportation to Jordan, a country most of the family barely knows. We last heard from the Kesbeh family in September when they were first facing deportation. Overwhelming public support in Houston and the country led officials in Washington to give them a six-month stay in order for the INS to review their case. Well now the family appears to be set to be deported again. We are joined by the family s eldest daughter, Noor Kesbeh, in Houston for an update. Guest: Noor Kesbeh, whose family faces deportation this week 8:58-8:59 Outro and Credits 9:00-9:01 Billboard: 9:01-9:06 Headlines 9:06-9:07 One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:20: US forces bombed Iraqi television broadcast facilities in central Baghdad again last night. Iraqi TV s signal was restored around midnight. Several hours later, a second wave of bombing was launched, and a witness said the Iraqi TV building was in flames and destroyed. But broadcasts resumed in Baghdad this morning, with a shaky picture and no sound. A U.S. intelligence official told the Los Angeles Times the strikes reflect a new decision by military commanders to disable Iraqi television for the duration of the war. Meanwhile, in the southern city of Basra, British forces bombed Iraqi state radio and television transmitters, taking both broadcasting outlets off the air. US and British forces have taken over a number of radio frequencies and are broadcasting their own messages to the people. The action comes just after the head of the world's largest journalists' organization said the attacks on Iraqi television may violate the Geneva Conventions and called for an international investigation. The International Federation of Journalists said the U.S. bomb and missile attack on Iraqi television on Wednesday was an attempt at censorship and may have breached the Geneva Conventions. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also condemned the attack on Iraqi television, saying it might constitute a war crime. A U.S. official in Washington defended the attacks, saying the goal is to damage the government's command and control capability. * Aidan White, General Secretary for the International Federation of Journalists, which represents more than 500,000 journalists in 100 countries. Link: One-minute music break 9:21-9:30: It has been a busy few days for Al Jazeera, the Arabic satellite television station based in Qatar. On Sunday, the station aired controversial images of American POWs held by Iraq. On Monday, the New York Stock Exchange banned Al Jazeera reporters from the floor of the stock exchange. On Tuesday, Al Jazeera launched a much anticipated English language website. The site was inaccessible for much of the day due to attacks from hackers and heavy traffic. In addition on Tuesday the Nasdaq stock market also decided to ban Al Jazeera reporters from its floor. A Nasdaq spokesperson explained the decision: "In light of Al Jazeera's recent conduct during the war, in which they have broadcast footage of U.S. POWs in alleged violation of the Geneva Convention, they are not welcome to broadcast from our facility at this time." And yesterday, Al Jazeera is ran reports that may anger some backers of the war. The network's correspondent in Basra is claiming there are no signs of a civilian uprising in Basra against the regime of Saddam Hussein. Al Jazeera's programming has been seen as controversial by some in Washington ever since it began broadcasting six years ago. The network has since grown into a CNN of the Arabic world reaching up to 55 million viewers. It is one of eight Arabic-language stations reporting on the war. * Lamis Andoni, an independent journalist and analyst who has covered the Middle East fro over 20 years. She covered the first Gulf War for the Christian Science Monitor and Financial Times. She also covered the Iran-Iraq war in the south of Iraq. She has been monitoring the Arab-language and US media coverage of this war. 9:20-9:21 One Minute Music Break 9:21-9:40: With military action in Iraq moving into its second week, the Security Council yesterday held its first debate on the situation since the start of invasion. At the request of the Arab League and the Non-Aligned Movement, the Security Council began an open meeting where some 70 countries are expected to take part. There was great opposition to the U.S. led attack. The war against Iraq has been carried out without the authorization of the Security Council in violation of the principles of international law and the UN Charter, said Datuk Rastam Mohamed Isa of Malaysia, the Chair of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement. He said it was regrettable that the parties concerned chose to cast aside multilateral diplomacy to take the path of war while efforts to avert conflict were continuing And we have learned that the U.S. have been pressuring nations within the General Assembly not to speak out against the war. * Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC, specializing in Middle East and United Nations issues. She is the author of the book Before and After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September 11th Crisis. Link: Institute for Policy Studies: analysts are saying Bush administration's $75 billion budget request to fund the war with Iraq and cover related costs is just a down payment for what will likely be a much costlier conflict President Bush's proposal includes $63 billion to fight the war, $8 billion in bilateral foreign aid to countries helping with the war effort and for reconstruction and humanitarian relief, and $4 billion for homeland security. The $8 billion goes towards U.S. allies in the so-called war on terror including Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Columbia. But will the war cost only $75 billion? Jason Nisse of The Independent (UK) suggests the total cost could rise to $800 billion. We are going to talk about what the war will really cost and what is not include. * Jason Nisse, business correspondent for The Independent newspaper, London. He wrote an article earlier this month called The $800 Billion Conflict and A World Left Licking Its Wounds which looks at how expensive the war will really be. * Greg Speeter, Executive Director, National Priorities Project, a non-profit which analyzes how federal policies affect ordinary Americans in cities and towns around the country. They recently published a report examining the cost to states and cities of the invasion of Iraq. Link: 9:40-9:41 One Minute Music Break 9:50-9:58: For nearly a decade hip hop artist and activist Michael Franti has been a leading progressive voice in music. Franti grew out of the Bay Area music and political scene in the early 1990's. In 1986 he founded the duo the Beatnigs, paving the way for his next musical endeavor, the Disposable Heroes of HipHoprisy. His most recent musical project is the musical collective Spearhead, begun in 1994. Franti's distinctive style is infused with hip hop, soul and jazz influences and driven by his eloquent political lyrics. He has always used music to push social boundaries. He speaks out against sexual violence, encourages his community to prevent the spread of HIV, and sings about the hypocrisy of the US government. He has also been a leading critic of the invasion of Iraq. And recently he has learned members of his group Spearhead are under surveillance of the U.S. government. One day after performing at an anti-war rally, relatives of one of Franti s bandmates got an unexpected visitor. Franti told Democracy Now!: His mother received a visit from two plain clothes men from the military and this band member of mine has a sibling who is in the gulf. And they came in and talked to her and said you have a child who s in the Gulf and you have a child who s in this band Spearhead who s part of the resistance in their words. They had pictures of us performing the day before at the rally, they had pictures of us performing at some of our annual concerts that we put on that are in support of peace and human rights. They had his flight records for the past several months, they had the names of everybody who works in my office, our management office Guerilla Management, they had his checking account records. They asked his mother a lot of questions about where he was, what he was doing in this place, why he was going here. They confiscated his sibling s CD collection that they had brought over to listen to while they were in the Gulf, and basically were intimidating, told her which members of the press she could talk to and which members of the press she should not speak to For musicians in particular it s a really hard time. Last week our label received a letter, a mass e-mail from MTV instructing the fact that no videos could be shown that mentioned the word bombing or war. No videos could be shown that had protesters in it. Any footage from military they gave a list of prior videos that could not be shown, yet MTV has aired videos that show troops saying goodbye to their loved ones and going off to war in a very heroic fashion and troops which are gonna be coming home traumatized, wounded and dead and then be treated and thrown onto the scrap heap of veterans, as we ve seen veterans treated in this country. And at the Academy Awards, there were also letters and talk that went around saying not to speak out. Guest: Michael Franti, musician and political activist Link: Full transcript of the Democracy Now! interview: 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 27, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
March 27, 2003
Item duration: 
118 min.
WBAI; Amy Goodman, host., March 27, 2003
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