Democracy Now! March 26, 2003

Program Title:
Democracy Now! March 26, 2003
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Hour 1: The Arabic CNN comes under fire for its Iraq coverage: An Al Jazeera producer discusses the broadcast of the POW footage, the network's banning from the NYSE & NASDAQ and the launching (and hacking) of an English-language site; U.S. escalates Iraq war in Kurdish-controlled area: We go to northern Iraq for a report from Christian Science Monitor reporter Cameron Ward; Turkey considers sending forces into Northern Iraq in coordination with U.S. Hour 2: How oil interests obscured U.S. government focus on Saddam Hussein s dictatorship: A look at the role of Bechtel and Halliburton; UK + US = United to Kill Us All: An ordinary Iraqi citizens speaks out on the war from Baghdad near where U.S. forces bombed a busy market killing 15; Could protesting become a form of terrorism?: Oregon and Tuscon consider new so-called anti-terrorism laws. Meanwhile direct action protests against war continue across the country.

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 Guest: 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. 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: A unit of the Houston-based oilfield services giant Halliburton Co. has won a major contact to fight oil well fires and to repair damage to oil wells in Iraq. The value of the contract was not disclosed. And the firm is also in the running for a major contract to rebuild Iraq after the U.S. finishes its attack. Halliburton s ties to the Bush administration and Iraq are deep. Its former CEO is Dick Cheney, the man who is currently the Vice President and who also was Secretary of Defense during the first Gulf War. Halliburton is one of only five companies who were invited to bid on a major project to rebuild much of Iraq after the invasion. Bechtel is another one of the five. It too has a long history related to Iraq. In fact some say its failed business endeavors may have lead to the first Gulf War. Recently unclassified documents reveal that the Reagan administration, including current War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, sought to build close ties to Saddam Hussein s regime in order to secure the construction of a billion-dollar oil pipeline for the Bechtel corporation. And a new report by the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network charges that U.S.-Iraqi relations worsened in the late 1980s not because Iraq used chemical weapons on the Iranians, nor because Iraq gassed its own Kurdish people, nor even because Iraq invaded Kuwait, but because Hussein rejected the Bechtel pipeline deal. Today we will look at Halliburton and Bechtel. [Note: this segment is broken into two sections with a live report from Baghdad in between] * Jim Vallette, co-author of the new study, Crude Vision: How Oil Interests Obscured US Government Focus On Chemical Weapons Use by Saddam Hussein. He is research director for the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network. * Pratap Chatterjee, independent journalist who has done extensive research on Halliburton. His latest piece for CorpWarch is titled Halliburton Makes a Killing on Iraq War Links: Crude Vision: How Oil Interests Obscured US Government Focus On Chemical Weapons Use by Saddam Hussein : Halliburton Makes a Killing on Iraq War : 9:20-9:21 One Minute Music Break 9:21-9:35: And we have just gotten through to Baghdad where the Iraqi information ministry has just reported US forces have bombed a busy market north of Baghdad. Reuters Television correspondents say at least 15 burned corpses are lying in the poor residential area. One correspondent said the missiles apparently struck apartment blocks. Several shops and apartment buildings are badly damaged and cars nearby are on fire or smoldering. Just before daybreak, coalition forces bombed the main Iraqi television station in Baghdad, shutting down all transmission for a few hours. Iraqi Television has been broadcasting news conferences as well as images of US POWs and of dead American soldiers, which has outraged the Bush administration. Iraqi TV is now back on the air. CBS news is reporting US forces used a new high-powered microwave weapon in the attack. The e-bomb emits a burst of electromagnetic energy to disable or destroy electronic equipment. The Pentagon said it has no information on the issue. * Gazwan al Mukhtar, an Iraqi citizen who lives in Baghdad. He is a retired engineer. 9:35-9:50 Bechtel & Halliburton Cont d * Jim Vallette, co-author of the new study, Crude Vision: How Oil Interests Obscured US Government Focus On Chemical Weapons Use by Saddam Hussein. He is research director for the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network. * Pratap Chatterjee, independent journalist who has done extensive research on Halliburton. His latest piece for CorpWarch is titled Halliburton Makes a Killing on Iraq War 9:50-9:58 Could protesting become a form of terrorism?: Oregon and Tuscon consider new so-called anti-terrorism laws. Meanwhile direct action protests against war continue across the country. As millions protests around the world against war, state and local governments are quietly taking steps to limit the right to protest. In New York, city officials rejected a permit to allow a massive anti-war protest in February citing national security grounds. In Oregon, the state legislature is considering creating a new crime of "terrorism." According to the Oregon ACLU, the current bill is defined so broadly that protesters could be subjected to life in prison if they participated in a demonstration or strike that attempts to disrupt commerce, transportation, educational, or governmental institutions. In Arizona, the city of Tuscon has put forward a plan that would rewrite local laws regulating public demonstrations. If passed, protesters would need to obtain a permit 60 days in advance. And protest organizers would also have to cover the cost of police presence and any other related city expenses. A new group called Free America was formed last week to oppose this move. Meanwhile direct actions protests against war are continuing in the U.S. The Village Voice website published an article last night titled Peace Activists Planning to Disrupt Manhattan. It begins: Taking their cue from protesters in San Francisco, who shut down that city's financial district last week with a wave of raucous street blockades, marches, and sit-ins, activists in New York including many from more mainstream groups are calling for widespread civil disobedience in midtown Manhattan this Thursday. Their aim is to disrupt "business as usual." The actions include a mass die-in at 8 a.m. at Rockefeller Center to protest "media collusion and corporate profiteering from the war." (Rockefeller Center houses NBC and General Electric, among other companies.) There are also plans for roving traffic blockades at intersections and other "creative disruptions" outside the offices of media firms, oil companies, and military contractors, starting at 7 a.m. and continuing throughout the day. Guest: Susan Russell, Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association Guest: Ted Hand, founder of the group Free America in Tuscon Guest: Mark Milano, a spokesperson for the M27 Coalition, an umbrella group for over thirty groups planning massive non-violent civil disobedience all over New York City this Thursday. Guest: Gordon Clark, National Coordinator of The Iraq Pledge of Resistance and former Executive Director of Peace Action. Links: Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association: http:/ M27 Coalition: Iraq Pledge of Resistance: 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits

Date Recorded on: 
March 26, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
March 26, 2003
Item duration: 
118 min.
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WBAI; Amy Goodman, host., March 26, 2003
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