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11 Oct 2004 - MiddleEast.Org - MER is Free
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NOVEMBER ahead:
U.S. Election and then more massive Iraqi attacks

US/UK Seize Independent Media Servers
Another unprecedented assault on basic civil liberties

"If the security services of the UK or US can just
walk in and take away a server, then there is
no freedom of expression."


MIDDLEEAST.ORG - MER - Washington - 11 October: The Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld made an unannounced visit to Iraq in recent days. And soon after the American election the superpower military will be much more fully unleashed throughout the country preparing to push the U.S.-appointed strong-man Iyad Allawai forward in the carefully staged 'election' that will proceed if 'conditions are right'. In other words, just as Hamid Karzai was U.S. -installed and then essentially U.S.-elected in Afghanistan, the same template is now planned for Iraq.

Remember the old days when the Soviet Union used invasion and then puppet regimes to enforce their power and authority? But the Russians usually skipped the rumped up and oh-so-deceptive 'elections' stage. But even so -- and even with everyone knowing that the rules and money are such, that the power and propaganda are such -- the elections facade works in some quarters. The United Nations, and today the Vatican have bought into it -- even if there has been an unprecedented protest from U.N. workers and even if Rome laments it is all 'illigimate' but now alive it has to be nurtured. Trying to mask oh so many realities behind what is actually an elections ruse the Americans continue to push forward to get their way constantly proclaiming 'freedom', 'democracy', and American values superior to all others.

The next time around, just a few months from now in Iraq, an overtly militarily occupied country must first have its 'evil' insurgent opposition co-opted, neutralized, or taken down.

First weapon of choice for doing so is the CIA and the massive use of money, intrique, covert ops, and co-optation. After all the largest CIA station in the world since the days of Vietnam has to be extra busy doing something special.

When things can't be done CIA covertly -- and remember the CIA failed badly after the Gulf War for more than a decade in bringing down Saddam -- then the Pentagon Generals get the task. With overwhelming firepower and space-age technology in a few weeks the U.S. military will soon be unleashed as never before in an impoverished Middle East country. This is all but certain now regardless of which of the two approved American candidates have power in Washington.

Meanwhle, the 'war on terrorism' is having further ongoing negative ramfications on the very 'freedom' and 'democracy' the Americans are so intend on constantly declaring; even if not really always pursuing. Another unprecedented development has just taken place - the seizure of internet servers from one of the most independent if somewhat anarchic 'freelance' group of journalists in the U.S. and Europe known as Indymedia. The journalists and the organizations involved were not even told what or why -- their 'pens' and 'loudspeakers' were simply taken away.


US seizes webservers from
independent media sites


By Rachel Shabi

The Guardian - UK - Monday October 11, 2004: American authorities have shut down 20 independent media centres by seizing their British-based webservers. On Thursday a court order was issued to Rackspace, an American-owned web hosting company in Uxbridge, Middlesex, forcing it to hand over two servers used by Indymedia, an international media network which covers of social justice issues and provides a "news-wire", to which its users contribute. The websites affected by the seizure span 17 countries.

It is unclear why, or to where, the servers have been taken. The FBI, speaking to the French AFP, acknowledged that a subpoena had been issued but said this was at the request of Italian and Swiss authorities.

"It is not an FBI operation," said its spokesman, Joe Parris.

Rackspace told Indymedia that it had been served with a court order under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, under which countries assist each other in investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering

It is unclear why such a treaty would apply in this context. A UK Indymedia journalist said: "The authorities may just be using this as a trawling exercise. We don't know."

It is also unclear if the Home Office was involved.

The Metropolitan police said it was not aware of the move.

The UK Indymedia site is now working, because it was backed up on another server, unlike others which are still shut down.

One of the servers was to be used to stream web radio coverage of the European Social Forum conference in London next week.

Aidan White, the general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, condemned the "intolerable and intrusive" action .

Tim Gopsill of the NUJ said: "If the security services of the UK or US can just walk in and take away a server, then there is no freedom of expression."

Major Assaults on Hold Until After U.S. Vote

Attacks on Iraq's rebel-held cities will be delayed,officials say.
But that could make it harder to allow wider, and more
legitimate,
Iraqi voting in January.

By Mark Mazzetti

Los Angeles Times - October 11, 2004: WASHINGTON The Bush administration plans to delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.

Although American commanders in Iraq have been buoyed by recent successes in insurgent-held towns such as Samarra and Tall Afar, administration and Pentagon officials say they will not try to retake cities such as Fallouja and Ramadi where the insurgents' grip is strongest and U.S. military casualties could be the highest until after Americans vote in what is likely to be an extremely close election.

"When this election's over, you'll see us move very vigorously," said one senior administration official involved in strategic planning, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Once you're past the election, it changes the political ramifications" of a large-scale offensive, the official said. "We're not on hold right now. We're just not as aggressive."

Any delay in pacifying Iraq's most troublesome cities, however, could alter the dynamics of a different election the one in January, when Iraqis are to elect members of a national assembly.

With less than four months remaining, U.S. commanders are scrambling to enable voting in as many Iraqi cities as possible to shore up the poll's legitimacy.

U.S. officials point out that there have been no direct orders to commanders to halt operations in the weeks before the November 2 U.S. election. Top administration officials in Washington are simply reluctant to sign off on a major offensive in Iraq at the height of the political season.

Asked for comment, White House spokesman Taylor Gross said, "The commanders in the field will continue to make the decisions regarding military operations, and will continue to assist the Iraqi people in the pursuit of a more peaceful and safer Iraq."

Pentagon officials said they see a benefit to waiting before an offensive in the so-called Sunni Triangle, the insurgent-dominated region north and west of Baghdad. That would allow more time for political negotiations and targeted airstrikes in Fallouja.

"We're having more impact with our airstrikes than we had expected," said a senior Defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We see no need to rush headlong with hundreds of tanks into Fallouja right now."

Because U.S. commanders no longer have carte blanche to run military operations inside Iraq, they must seek approval from interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who has his own political future to consider even though he owes his position to the U.S.

U.S. officials said Allawi had backed a broad plan to retake insurgent-controlled cities in Iraq before the January election. Allawi approved the recent successful U.S. offensive in Samarra, which U.S. commanders considered necessary only after a local government installed by Allawi buckled under constant attack by insurgents.

Yet there has been occasional friction between U.S. commanders in Baghdad and the Iraqi government that took power after the U.S.-led coalition handed over sovereignty June 28.

In August, top U.S. officers in Iraq and Pentagon officials were angry when Allawi ordered a halt to a day-old, U.S.-led offensive against Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr's militia as it holed up inside the sacred Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf.

Allawi called the cease-fire to allow time for negotiations with Sadr, which ultimately broke down. U.S. officials in Baghdad and Washington argued that such frictions were just part of a gradual process of reducing Iraq's dependence on the U.S. military.

"We made a deal, and that's what you get when you set up an interim government," a senior military official at the Pentagon said. "But the alternative is not recognizing them."

U.S. officials said the recent offensive operation in Samarra went more smoothly than they had expected, and has boosted optimism that more cities can be wrested from insurgent hands before January's election.

"People looked at Samarra and said, 'Wow, this works.' It wasn't nearly as difficult an operation as we had anticipated," the senior Defense official said. "After Samarra, we now believe we can do more."

Just weeks ago, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Army Gen. John P. Abizaid of U.S. Central Command began lowering expectations about how comprehensive the January vote would be, suggesting that some rebellious cities such as Fallouja might have to be left out of the balloting.

U.S. officers in Baghdad said that the biggest difference between the Samarra operation and the failed U.S. offensive in Fallouja in April was that select units of the Iraqi national guard held their ground under enemy fire. In April, the U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces in Fallouja capitulated soon after the U.S. offensive began.

"You've got to have a credible Iraqi security force that the local populace has confidence in," said Army Col. Bob Pricone, chief of operations at the U.S.-led coalition forces' headquarters in Baghdad. "Four or five months ago, the populace didn't have a lot of confidence in the Iraqi national guard."

Still, Pentagon officials say that it may not be militarily feasible to bring every Iraqi city in the Sunni Triangle under the control of U.S. forces and the Iraqi government in time for the January election. The military view was contradicted by senior State Department officials who declared in recent congressional testimony that there were no plans to exclude any Iraqi city from voting.

"The State Department can talk about people voting everywhere. But securing Iraq in time for the election can't happen without the U.S. military," the Defense official said.

During a recent trip to Washington, Allawi expressed his interest in reclaiming insurgent-controlled cities in the Sunni Triangle in time for the January election, even in light of the potentially negative political impact in Iraq that a bloody military operation could have.

Yet officials say that the man who owes his job to President Bush and might not have such a warm relationship with a President John F. Kerry does not want to press his case too hard before the U.S. election.

"A lot of his political future depends on our election," said the senior administration official.

Conversely, much of the future of the U.S. in Iraq may depend on Allawi and his ability to emerge from the shadow of the occupation and ensure that Iraq reaches its own political milestone in January.

For 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq trying to break the will of a deadly insurgency, that means understanding and sometimes bending to the needs of U.S. politics and the demands of their Iraqi hosts.

Said Pricone, the operations chief: "We'll work through as many cities as the Iraqi government wants us to."






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