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01 USA Bericht
From: Reporter ohne Grenzen, email@example.com
REPORT - UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
12 October 2001
US media caught between pull of patriotism and self-censorship
SOURCE: Reporters sans frontières (RSF), Paris
(RSF/IFEX) - The following is an 11 October 2001 RSF report:
A month ago exactly,
the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in
Washington were attacked, causing the death of more than 6,000 persons.
Since then, the US military reprisals has begun in Afghanistan. All these
events have been covered by media throughout the world. But many journalists
and foreign observers question the objectivity and independence of US press
and television following recognised press freedom infrigements. Are they
acts of censorship or self-censorship? Is it a deliberate policy from the
authorities or a choice by big media themselves? What do American and
foreign journalists working in New York think about that? In this report,
Reporters Sans Frontières tries to answer to these questions after
conducting an in-depth investigation in the United States.
Between the pull of patriotism and self-censorship
The US media in torment after 11 September
Alexandre Levy and Francois Bugingo
New York - September 26 - October 2, 2001
Observers cast doubt on the objectivity of the American press
Ten years after
the Gulf War, a conflict in which the reality was largely
hidden from the media, the US administration has launched a new series of
military operations in reaction to the wave of terrorist attacks which
struck the east coast of the United States and left nearly 6,000 people
dead. The daily New York Times noted, "This surge of national pride sweeping
the country after the terrorist attacks on 11 September sparks the
beginnings of a new, more difficult debate over balance among national
security, free speech and patriotism." The influential American newspaper
said in an article on 28 September 2001 that the debate "is being played out
on stages large and small." Press comments have on several occasions
provoked the fury of the authorities, along with that of the American
public, and have led to sanctions, including the pulling of programmes,
withdrawal of advertising in the media and disavowal, even outright sacking,
of the journalists by their employers. This comes on top of a long list of
constraints and more subtle pressure that American and foreign media,
including those on the Internet, have been subjected to since 11 September.
and foreign observers have already cast doubt on the
objectivity and independence of the American press, particularly the TV
channels, in this period of "war effort." In the same way, several voices
have been raised within the United States warning the public about a decline
in freedom of expression and opinion, freedoms guaranteed by the First
Amendment of the Constitution, in exchange for tightening security. "We are
facing an enemy which is exploiting what it is about our society that makes
it strong and effective: freedom, openness and freedom of movement. We have
to be sure that we remain an open society, in which individual freedoms are
respected," said Strobe Talbott, former number two at the US State
Department in the Clinton Administration. But these voices, drowned out in
the climate of media coverage devoted to covering the aftermath of the
attacks, the preparations and continuing US counter-attacks, remain in the
minority. Even those who are critical appear weakened by the emotion
produced by this dramatic terrorist act, the death of thousands of innocent
people and the suffering of their bereaved families.
In the face of
calls to national unity, US organisations traditionally
devoted to defending individual freedoms have been muted. They consider that
it is still too soon, even inappropriate, to be raising the alarm over
events considered largely "secondary." "The shock of 11 September seems to
have stifled the most militant of people, giving way to a de facto tolerance
towards tougher than usual stances on the part of the military and the
judiciary," said journalist Sylvie Kauffman, former correspondent of the
French daily Le Monde in New York, on 17 September 2001. In fact, today,
while countries throw themselves into a fresh military operation, the
vigilance of organisations defending human rights and individual freedoms
are all the more needed.
A number of regimes
find the temptation too great to exploit the genuine
emotion produced by these attacks on the United States on 11 September to
restrict freedom of the press and more generally to silence domestic
opposition under the cover of the struggle against terrorism. In countries
such as Pakistan, Israel, the territories under Palestinian Authority or
Liberia, Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) has recorded several incidents of
press freedom violations directly linked to the events in America. While
avoiding all linkage with these regimes, RSF also makes public here a series
of episodes affecting press freedom in the United States between 11
September and 7 October 2001, the date of the American military
counter-attack. Most of them have been reported and commented on by the
American press or by specialist Internet sites. Are these incidents of
censorship or self-censorship? Are we witnessing a deliberate policy on the
part of the authorities or a choice made by the main media themselves? What
do American and foreign journalists working in New York think? What about
organisations that defend press freedom? To try to answer these questions,
two represenatives of RSF went to the United States and met representatives
of the media, human rights organisations and US press specialists.
The first suspect: the Internet
scale of the attacks on New York and Washington, and the
presumed use by the terrorists of advanced computer technology, prompted
fears among Internet users of a tightening of web surveillance, as called
for by the security services. A number of sources report that a few hours
after the attacks on 11 September, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
agents turned up at the headquarters of the main Internet service providers
(Hotmail, AOL, Earthlink,etc) to obtain information on possible email
exchanges between the terrorists. Technicians working for these companies
have said off the record to the American online magazine Wired that FBI
agents wanted to install the electronic bugging system "Carnivore" (recently
renamed DCS 1000) on the main computer of Internet access providers based in
the United States. "From Tuesday evening, FBI agents showed up at our
workplace wanting to set up their machines. They promised to pick up the tab
for all the costs of installation and use." Another person working for
Hotmail said that the FBI had asked for, and obtained, from company
executives all information on accounts, whose names included the word Allah.
All the major Internet access providers appear to have followed Hotmail's
example and fully collaborated with the American secret services.
at an Internet service provider, Carnivore can record and
save all information exchanged between users. Under strong critical pressure
from defenders of individual freedoms in the United States, the system had
never been used until now except with the advance agreement of a judge. The
"Combatting Terrorism Act", voted through after a half-hour debate in the
Senate on 13 September, barely two days after the attacks, exempts the
security services from judicial approval for the use of Carnivore. To become
law, this act still has to be approved by a joint commission of members of
the Senate and House of Representatives.
In the same vein,
a number of US leaders have started attacking encryption.
This procedure allows Internet users to enjoy confidentiality when
exchanging information on the Internet with the use of encryption software.
The best known being PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), which can be freely
downloaded from a number of sites. Already last March, the head of the FBI,
Louis Freeh, said he was convinced that terrorist networks were using
encryption. On 13 September, in a speech to Congress, Republican Senator
Judd Gregg called for a worldwide ban on encryption software unless public
authorities had been given the means to decode the messages. "One could fear
that the authorities could take advantage of the emotion of the moment to
achieve their objective: banning encryption," one American proponent of PGP
told RSF. Other privacy protection militants such as John Gilmore of the
American organisation Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called for
creation of more sites which would offer encryption software on open sale.
After the first
attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, the FBI found
plans for hijacking 11 planes on the portable computer of the person who
carried out the attack. The FBI took ten months to decode the files, the
majority of which had been encrypted with PGP software. Defenders of
encryption say to this that intelligence has already shown its weakness in
this area in as much as the terrorists appear to have already used methods
that avoid electronic surveillance. The creator of PGP, David Zimmerman, who
was nearly jailed in the United States during the 1980s for distributing his
programme, has once again defended his position in a recent interview in the
magazine Futur(e)s. "Whether it's Congress, or in the courts or in the
columns of newspapers, the country has already debated this question over
the last decade. And together we have decided that society has more to gain
than to lose from effective encryption. It should not be forgotten that
encryption has saved lives in the entire world. The system is used by human
rights organisations worldwide and especially under dictatorships." (Quoted
by the online magazine Transfert, 17 September 2001).
Television: From spontaneity to patriotic rigour
live, the attack against the World Trade Center was at the
same time tragic and spectacular, as if meant for television. "One should
not forget that the terrorist target, Manhattan, is not only the financial
heart but also the media capital of the country," an American journalist
pointed out. Never has such an event been filmed and photographed live both
by cameras and surveillance, by amateurs and professionals. In the first
days, access to the sites of the attacks was not controlled. Numerous
photographers and cameramen took advantage of this by getting as close as
possible to the points of impact. The United States being cut off from the
rest of the world with the grounding of all flights, it was only American
journalists and foreign correspondents posted to New York who covered the
story. Not having necessarily experienced war or natural disasters, they
admitted to having had "the shock of their lives" when they heard about the
terrorist attacks and went to the World Trade Centre. Either originally from
New York or having lived their for many years, they said with a good deal of
emotion, that they had covered "the most important story of their careers."
They did not hide their sympathy for Americans and in particular New Yorkers
in this difficult period. "I reacted first as an adopted New Yorker rather
than as a journalist," said Stéphanie Tremblay, French programme
co-ordinator for Radio Canada. "The terrorists had above all attacked my
city and targeted my way of life." "I never thought I would cover such an
event in my whole life time," said Don Emmert, head of photography for
Agence France-Presse. "I am Canadian," said Marc Greenought, radio producer
for English programmes on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), "but
during these past days I have never felt so deeply American."
by RSF in New York said so: The American television
networks were the first to cover the story and they were an excellent source
of information in the first days. "We edited the first reports on the attack
on the World Trade Center with our eyes fixed to the television screen,"
said Michel Moutot, Agence France-Presse bureau chief in New York. "The US
television networks have matchless resources and they used them right away,"
he continued. Eric Leser, correspondent for the French daily Le Monde,
agreed. He told RSF how invaluable the live coverage on American television
was to his work. The organisation Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR),
generally very critical of the major media in America, found that the
coverage in the first days was acceptable overall. "We saw a new type of
spontaneous and sincere journalism," said one of its organisers, Steve
But just a week
later, the tone and content on the American television
networks changed. "I think the turning point was George W. Bush's speech to
Congress on the 20 September 2001," said Eric Leser. "Since then, the media
has taken on a strongly patriotic tone and news has lost out to propaganda."
French journalists add that since then they have followed the television
networks much less and used the Internet, where there are a number of sites
providing more critical news and different angles. Many foreign
correspondents who spoke to RSF in New York said the same thing.
The RSF representatives
noted the change of tone and feeling on the American
networks that covered President Bush's 20 September speech, in which he
called for a "war against terrorism." The fate of the victims was relegated
to second position and the networks devoted their airtime to hailing the
country's "new heroes": firefighters, police and military staff,
politicians. And above all, reflecting an image of a united and defiant
nation, ready to wage war on those who have attacked it. "America's new war"
and "At war with terror" (CNN) or "America fights back" or
"counter-attacks?" (CBS) were the watchwords, henceforth always accompanied
by the ubiquitous stars and stripes. "Broadcasts became all beating the drum
and flags flying in the wind. It was no longer news," said another foreign
correspondent, Richard Hetu, a journalist with the Canadian daily La Presse.
A French journalist, a Balkans specialist, who covered the NATO intervention
in Serbia, agreed from New York that American television had "gone to war."
"Instead of news broadcasts, Americans are watching advertising spots to the
glory of their country," he said. In one example, the 62 regional channels
of the Sinclair Broadcast group have been carrying the following
advertisement on their web site: "Our team supports the action of President
Bush and the leaders of our nation in putting an end to terrorism,"
continues the message, urging viewers who agree to send their views to the
Reflecting on the
patriotic outbursts, Stéphanie Tremblay of Radio Canada
said she was "not at all surprised by this aspect of coverage on the US
networks. I knew, however, that if I want to hear a more critical report
that gave more space to the news itself, I would have to watch BBC or even
TV 5," she said. Fellow journalist Chantal Lavigne also acknowledged the
American media's desire to take part in the "war effort." She said, "Most
star television presenters have said that they were Americans before being
media executives questioned by RSF either strongly denied
having produced propaganda or on the other hand, acknowledged and justified
their decision. "The footage of the attack against the World Trade Center
has no equivalent in the history of conflict," said Paul Khlebnikov,
journalist with the influential economic magazine Forbes. "In the war of
pictures, the terrorists have made a decisive point. That is why the war
that the United States is going to wage should not be just military and
economic but also psychological, therefore media-driven. Killing Bin Laden
will not be enough. He will have to be cut down symbolically." Mr Khlebnikov
said he was not worried by the bellicose and propagandist tone adopted by
some of the US media. He attributes it to a "civic revival" shared by all
Americans. "The first days there could have been a collapse in morale of
Americans. Then, as in times of war, there was a civic revival which was
picked up in the press. And if the media has sometimes lacked objectivity it
was not under official pressure. Objectivity in journalism does not mean an
absence of values. The media, overall, did excellent work. Television in
particular was a triumph," he said.
is not the only one in the American press to take this
position. Sandy Genelius, spokeswoman for the American TV network CBS News,
is satisfied, she says in an interview with RSF, with the comments she has
read in the press about the work of the channel. "We haven't sunk into
progaganda like some," she says, taking a swipe in passing at CBS's main
competitor, Cable News Network International (CNN). The chairman of CNN,
Chris Cramer, has been self-congratulatory about the work of his network
from 11 September. "CNN has never failed to live up to the occasion ... to
supply balanced news. The 4,000 men and women of CNN have not escaped the
shock and the horror of what has happened. However the coverage of the news
that we gave the public and other media is testament to professionalism and
Missing images: censorship or "question of taste"
Barely a week after
the attacks, some European media chiefs, particularly
French, have questioned the impartiality of the American TV networks,
suspected of not showing "all the images," mainly those of the victims of
the attacks. Then there have been criticisms of American authorities,
accused of wanting to prevent some shots from the scene from being taken and
put out by the media. Robert Namias, head of information for the main
private French television channel TF1, has several times condemned the
"filtering" which he considers a form of "censorship." "I strongly regret
the censorship imposed on us by the United States," the journalist told the
French daily Le Figaro on 26 September 2001. "The images that the French
media paid for were filtered, treated and purified by the American
authorities. How do you think we can do our job when we are denied access to
information and surrounded by security forces? I did not want to show
horrifying images but, to do the job properly, there should be a minimum
knowledge." His opinion is shared, to varying degrees, by other French
television bosses but not unanimously. "The horror of the two planes
slamming into the towers. Wasn't that enough?" asks Hervé Brusini, head of
national news on the public French channel France 3. His colleague on France
2, Oliver Mazerolle, considers that he would not have shown gory images but
said the American channels balked at showing this type of image "for
patriotic reasons." The French journalists all join however in condemning
increasing difficulty in getting access to the World Trade Center site and
the unwillingness of the authorities to allow journalists to move about
freely within the security perimeter.
During their investigation
in New York and Paris, the RSF representatives
tried to find out more about the lack of images of the victims and the
conditions of access to the World Trade Center site. Jim Rutenberg and
Felicity Barringer, media specialists for the New York Times, visited
various television studios from 11 September onwards and questioned those in
charge about their editorial choices. "Terrible pictures started arriving,"
they said. "There was blood, there were dismembered bodies." Despite the
desire of some journalists to show these images, the head of MSNBC, Erik
Sorenson, took the decision not to show them. "I think there are all sorts
of ways to show the horror without descending into the gory," he said Some
networks, like NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox News, did however broadcast footage of
desperate people jumping from the blazing building. Only to regret it
afterwards. "It was a bad decision, the pictures were really too
disturbing," confessed Bill Wheatley, vice-president of NBC News. Those who
decided not to show the film explained: "The question is, are we just
creating useless pain?" Those who, like CBS, showed them, justify themselves
too: "That's terrorism. From one point of view you want to protect the
viewer but in another way you want to show just what the terrorists have
Michel Moutot of
Agence France-Presse also remembers these deeply disturbing
photos. "By their clothes one could easily recognise people who jumped from
the windows." However, he considered them to be "acceptable." In fact,
several photos of this scene, taken by photographers from the major
international agencies, appeared during the course of the week in the
American and European press. Editors who published them, like Glenn Guzzo of
the daily Denver Post, spoke of the virulent objections from readers.
"Haven't you any feelings, any respect for the families who have lost their
loved-ones?" one reader asked indignantly.
At this stage,
it strongly appears that a number of distressing photos were
taken and used by the American media. It was they who decided, according to
their own conscience, whether to use them or not. "It doesn't look like the
authorities were trying to control these pictures, given that that they
didn't even know how to protect the president," said one observer. "The
refusal to show the horrifying pictures was an editorial decision by my
colleagues," adds Paul Khlebnikov of Forbes. "As citizens we had to ask
ourselves the question: should one show bits of bodies in a period of
mourning and national remembrance?" It was indeed an "editorial choice,"
Sandy Genelius of CBS News told RSF. "We had sensitive film, we had gory
images, but each time we asked ourselves: What more are we contributing to
history by showing them? So we decided not to show the pictures just for the
pleasure of demonstrating that we had them."
This sudden reticence
on the part of the American media has interested a
number of foreign observers. In an analytical piece titled "The faceless
dead of the World Trade Center," the journalist Michel Guerin, specialist in
images at the French daily Le Monde, stated the paradox: "5,500 people died
or disappeared on the black day of 11 September...but practically no image
of the bodies has been shown on the television or published in the press"
(21 September 2001). "A decency of variable shape," says Dominique Wolton,
head of research at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS),
quoted by the French daily Liberation (19 September 2001). "This should be a
big lesson in decency to western media who don't hesitate to show massacres
when they happen in Rwanda...," he added. Others, like the photo historian
Marc Ferro, do not find it surprising. "During wars you never show your own
dead, only those of your adversaries. The Americans want to limit the images
of the trauma they have suffered, of defeat, the affront and the
spokeswoman for CBS News, to whom RSF put these questions,
once again staunchly defended herself against applying double standards.
"It's not true that we used different standards. We applied the same rules
when we filmed in Rwanda as at the World Trade Center."
An RSF representative
also discussed this question with Tom Golstein,
emeritus professor at the prestigious Columbia School of Journalism in south
Manhattan. He considered that it was simply a "question of taste."
This opinion seems
to be shared by a significant majority of American and
even foreign journalists. Like Canadian journalist Marc Greenought of CBC,
they did not hide their astonishent, even irritation, at the criticism from
the European media on the absence of more distressing and gory images of the
World Trade Center victims and the restricted access to the site. "I do not
understand," he told RSF. "As a journalist, I had all the access I needed,
the suffering, the emotion. No need to go searching for blood under the
ruins for that."
Arrests and calls to order
In the first days
after the attacks of 11 September, the American media
certainly adopted a common position which was not to "add horror on horror"
and to take part in the resurgence of patriotic national feeling. In doing
this, those in charge followed the wishes of a large majority of the public,
which reacted strongly to the first images shown after the attacks. Added to
this were very strict rules of access to the site of the disaster,
injunctions by the various authorities along with sanctions against
The perimeter of
the World Trade Center was quickly secured and surrounded
by US security forces after the confusion of the first few days. "The New
York police were generally cooperative with the press and allowed comings
and goings on the site. The arrival on the scene of the National Guard put
an end to this situation," remembered M. Moutot of AFP. Barriers appeared
all around the site, the security perimeter was extended by several streets
to the south and north of Manhattan. A complex system of accreditation was
then established, involving both police and the military. According to the
daily Los Angeles Times, from 19 September onwards, the police started
seizing the films of photographers and tourists close to the site. Many
photographers had their access passes withdrawn for failing to respect the
orders of the authorities. The American press freedom organisation The
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) said that at least four
journalists were arrested and accused of breaking the conditions of access
to the World Trade Center site. Among them was Ian Austin, photographer for
the agency Aurora Quanta Productions, who was detained for three days before
being released without charge. All journalists working for the daily Dallas
Daily News had their accreditation withdrawn because of the arrest and "bad
conduct" of one of their photographers.
In an interview
with RSF, Don Emmert, head of photography at AFP in New
York, discussed the consequences of the restrictions and the calls to order
on the work of his agency. "In photo terms, we could not do it because they
wouldn't let us work. We could not satisfy the demands of our clients from
abroad. For instance, we could not go to the hospitals."
of the mayor asked us not to show firefighters recovering the
bodies of their colleagues," continued Don Emmert, who also spoke out
against the current working conditions on the site. "It's like a police
state," he said. Even if the American press continues to carry photos of the
ruins of the World Trade Centre, all media, including the tabloids, have to
accept pools of shots taken from a distance and showing only the wide angle
of the site.
For some journalists
working in New York, the reply to the debate on the
absence of images of the victims of the World Trade Center is very simple.
"I quite honestly doubt that that there is much left to show," suggests the
French daily Le Monde's correspondent. His view is shared by Richard Hetu of
the Canadian daily La Presse, who believes that the bodies literally
"disintegrated." "The World Trade Center has become an enormous
crematorium," he continued. "As I wrote in one article, the dust from the
debris of the World Trade Center that we are breathing still probably
includes the ashes of the victims."
America should not speak with the same voice as its enemies
Several other incidents,
comparable to press freedom violations, have
characterised the life of the media after the 11 September. They were caused
by interventions by the authorities critical of one media or another, or by
the owners of the media themselves who saw it as a good moment to sanction a
particular journalist for "subversive" comments, and sometimes by both at
once, without being able to establish with that media what the real reason
for the sanction was. So when the television network ABC decided on 19
September to no longer broadcast images of the two planes slamming into the
World Trade Center towers, it was officially so as not to "banalise the
dramatic event." Many observers suspect however that it was the result of
pressure from the authorities and in particular because of a desire
expressed by the owner of Disney.
The most flagrant
examples of corporate censorship - when media bosses
sanction a journalist for his or her opinions came from the dailies The
Texas City Sun and the Daily Courier in the state of Oregon. On 23
September, Les Daughty Jr, owner of the Texas City Sun for 17 years, wrote
an apology to his readers for an article by one of his editors-in-chief, Ron
Gutting, who said in an article critical of President Bush on the day after
the attacks that he was "flying around the country like a scared child
seeking refuge in his mother's bed after having a nightmare." In an article
on the front page of the newspaper, Daughty apologised to all the leaders of
the country and particularly to President George Bush for having published
such an article, which could only provoke "anger and disgust." Ron Gutting
was sacked from the newspaper, the main daily in the state of Texas, home of
the Bush family.
His colleague Dan
Guthrie of the Daily Courier, in Grant's Pass, met the
same fate and for similar reasons. He wrote on 15 September on a humorous
page in the newspaper that George Bush had "skedaddled" in the face of the
attacks, accusing him of being "an embarrasment" for "hiding in a Nebraska
hole" on the day of the terrorist attacks. The newspaper's editor-in-chief,
Dennis Mack, wrote for his readers that to say that the head of state was
hiding at a time when America was trying to unite after the bloody attacks
was neither responsible nor appropriate. As a result, Dan Guthrie lost his
job, but for "personal reasons," according to his employer.
In neither case
was there any apparent pressure on the part of the
authorities. It was the fierce reactions of the newspapers' readers that
were decisive in the decision to sack the journalists. In another case, that
was widely reported in the US press, star television presenter Bill Maher
drew a strong reaction from the White House. On his talk show "Politically
Incorrect", on ABC, Bill Maher said on 17 September, "We have been the
cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly.
Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about
it, It's not cowardly." These comments drew the rage of many viewers and led
to the immediate withdrawal of the programme's two main sponsors, Federal
Express and Sears. A number of television stations linked to the ABC
network, mainly in New York and Washington, pulled Bill Maher's programme,
especially after White House spokesman Ari Fleisher called his remarks
"unpatriotic." He added, "It was a terrible thing to say and it's
unfortunate." He went on, "The reminder is to all Americans that they need
to watch what they say, watch what they do." Journalists who heard his
statement noted later that "watch what they say" did not appear in the text
of the official record of the news conference.
of the US administration that drew much attention was the
attempt by the authorities to block the broadcasting at the end of September
of an interview with the spiritual leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, on
the Congress-financed Voice of America. The station, which is broadcast to
50 countries worldwide, and has a mandate to explain America to the world,
normally has reasonable editorial independence. Claude Porsella, head of the
VOA French service, told RSF about the content of the programme. "One of my
colleagues in the Pashto language service had the scoop of his life: an
interview with Mullah Omar. VOA never intended to broadcast the entire
interview, extracts of which were included in some general reporting,
including comments from the US Administration, analysis by an Islamic expert
and the position of the Northern Alliance. Mullah Omar said he was convinced
that Osama Bin Laden could not be behind the attacks." The State Department,
which has a seat on the VOA board, called on the other board members to ban
the interview, scheduled for 28 September. "VOA is not the voice of Mullah
Omar and is not the voice of the Taliban," said one American official. He
said it would be "inappropriate" to spend the backers' money to broadcast
comments from the head of the movement which was protecting the terrorists
behind the 11 September attacks.
caused huge dismay among VOA journalists," said Claude
Porsella. The head of news protested and a petition was signed by 150
journalists. Faced with this reaction and strong interest in the press, VOA
reversed its decision and decided to go ahead with the broadcast on 25
September. So far, there have been no sanctions on the part of the US
Administration. "We won a battle," said Claude Porsella, "but I doubt the
story will end there. Heads will probably roll," he feared.
On this occasion,
the VOA journalists were able to win the solidarity of
their colleagues in the major US media, particularly the written press. In
the same way, the influential daily The Washington Post opened its columns
to journalist from VOA before taking a position in an editorial on 26
September. This read: "The episode revealed an impulse to squelch facts that
is never far beneath the surface in time of war or quasi-war, an impulse
that is hardly less noxious when it retreats promptly under challenge. But
the time for editors to resist the censoring and self-censoring instinct is
before it is acted upon, not after. We hear frequently that the only way to
beat the terrorists is to hold on to this nation's freedoms. Those include
honoring Americans' right to hear commentary that bothers some and to
glimpse the thoughts of enemies."
At the beginning
of October, the American authorities once more expressed
their annoyance towards the media, which give voice to "enemies of America."
This time it was the Arabic Television station Al-Jazeera, based in Qatar,
that drew the ire of Bush Administration, by broadcasting footage and
interviews with Taliban leaders or with Osama Bin Laden. The station is
famous for its 1998 interview with the man they call "the head of El Qaeda."
This interview was broadcast uncut, on several occasions, after 11
September. The American ambassador in Qatar officially intervened with the
authorities in the country to protest against this "incendiary rhetoric" by
the station, which is accused of supplying "biased" coverage of the events
of 11 September, as well as "encouraging anti-American feelings" in the
Middle East. On 3 October, following an interview with US Secretary of State
Colin Powell in Washington, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa el-Thani, Emir of
Kuwait, and main shareholder in the station, said that US officials had
asked him to use his authority to influence the coverage. The Emir said he
would not interfere with the editorial policy of al-Jazeera. The US
Administration again complained about the broadcast, the day after the first
US air strikes, the words of Osama Bin Laden warning the United States that
it would "live in fear." A State Department official told Reuters: "Yes to
freedom but we think it's beyond the pale to provide an open platform for
these sort of violent ideas. We're concerned everywhere that Osama bin Laden
not to be able to use the media to spread his ideas." At the same time,
President Bush would be willing to speak on the station. Al-Jazeera which
has had a permanent studio in Kabul since 1998, is one of the rare media
still present in the Afghan capital and in Kandahar. Known for the quality
of its programmes, its professionalism and independence, the "CNN of the
Arab world" is regularly criticised by Arab countries, which fear the
platform it gives to opposition of all kinds.
Conclusion: Is the First Amendment in Danger?
US lawyer and expert
on the American Constitution Floyd Abrams says that
America often debates issues like patriotism and free speech in times of
crisis. He considers that the First Amendment is put to the test when the
country is too. When the country felt threatened, its existence challenged,
the First Amendment and its values were sometimes subordinated to other
This opinion is
apparently shared by several US organisations for defence of
press freedom, who believe it is too soon to become alarmed by the events
that have been outlined in this report. Lucy Daglish, head of the Reporters
Committee for the Freedom of the Press, said she was not unduly concerned.
She felt that the media, like the rest of society had become
hyper-sensitive, after the attacks. Her organisation had noted the
consequences of the 11 September attacks, but without taking up a position.
In an interview with the head of the Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ),
Ann Cooper, and deputy head Joel Simon, the main US-based worldwide press
freedom organisation said they consider that much more serious violations of
press freedom were going on in other parts of the world. Ann Cooper said she
thought the US State Department's criticism of VOA demonstrated an almost
instinctive reflex by governments in times of conflict, not to broadcast the
words of their adversaries. In some countries this had the force of law, she
said. In Russia, media which published interviews with Chechen rebels faced
legal action. In Angola, police had detained journalists who quoted a rebel
commander. "The crucial difference is that VOA broadcast the interview,
despite the opposition of the State Department, and has so far not suffered
any sanction." But Ann Coooper stressed that it was the tolerance of a free
press that kept democracy alive. She did not feel that the press was in
danger in the United States. "American journalists don't need us to defend
them. They have their media and the entire profession to back them in case
Tim Golstein of
the Columbia School of Journalism also shares this view and
is confident that the American media can defend its own interests.
"Patriotism, independence, freedom of speech: we debate these questions
practically every day, whether in newspapers or in university lecture halls.
But it is far too soon to draw conclusions from this debate." Media who had
so far done an excellent job in covering the attacks should now try to do
the same for the rest: continue to do the same good job, but in a time of
investigation in Paris and New York, Reporters Sans
Frontières nevertheless considers that a number of points of concern remain:
- Several attempts
by the US authorities aimed at regulating the work of the
media have been reported: Arrests of photographers near the World Trade
Center, the desire of the security forces to filter images taken at the
site, an attempt to ban an interview with Mullah Omar on VOA and the
pressure on the Qatar-based TV station Al-Jazeera to stop broadcasting
footage of Osama Bin Laden. All these interventions, in whatever context,
- Moves against
confidentiality on the Internet, along with a certain number
of measures within the "anti-terrorist" legislation that is currently being
examined, constitute a real threat to individual and collective freedoms.
- The symbiosis
which appears to operate between the tone of the main
audio-visual industry and official US policy could eventually militate
against the watchdog role of the media in a democracy.
- The cases outlined
of corporate censorship, such as the sackings of the
two journalists for comments considered outrageous, could lead to
self-censorship and an absence of criticism in the press.
- The setting up
of "pools" of photographers at the World Trade Center site
and the complexities of the accreditation system do not bode well for a free
and independent coverage of the actions taken by the United States in
reprisal for the terrorist attacks of 11 September.
At this difficult
time for the United States, in these times of emotion,
even of legitimate anger, RSF has nevertheless been able to verify the
strength of the principles of the First Amendment in this country. Among the
numerous articles devoted to this subject by the main daily newspapers, RSF
has especially noted the reaction of a reader of the New York Times to the
debate provoked by the words of Bill Maher. "It is the television stations
that drop 'Politically Incorrect' and the advertisers that boycott the show
who are the ones guilty of a lack of patriotism, not its host Bill Maher. It
would be chilling if one of the first casualties of our war for freedom was
our right to debate all opinions vigorously, no matter how unpopular, here
at home. Whatever the nature of Mr Maher's misinterpreted remarks, his
rights and those of his guests to exercise freedom of speech should not be
silenced." (Scott Blakeman, New York, 26 September, 2001)
For further information,
contact Régis Bourgeat at RSF, 5, rue Geoffroy
Marie, Paris 75009, France, tel: +33 1 44 83 84 84, fax: +33 1 45 23 11 51,
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Internet: http://www.rsf.fr
contained in this report is the sole responsibility of RSF.
In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit RSF.
AKTIONEN UND ANKÜNDIGUNGEN
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, October 14, 2001 8:45 PM
Subject: <nadir-aktuell-abo> Brüssel/ Belgium: 13.-15.12. EU-Gipfel Aufruf
> 13.-15.12. EU-Gipfel Aufruf zu Grenzaktionen
> Von : Gruppe behubelni
> Ort : Brüssel/ Belgium
> Datum: 14.10.2001
> 13. - 15. Dezember: EU-Gipfel in Brüssel
> Ausreiseverbote , Einreisesperren, Hooligangesetze,
> Meldeauflagen, Bußgeldbescheide.....
> Spätestens seit Genua aber eigentlich schon seit Göteborg ist klar, daß
> sogenannten Hooligangesetze jetzt auch auf Linke und insb. die sog.
> GlobalisierungsgegnerInnen angewendet werden. Das heißt, daß die bis zum
> Mauerfall viel gepriesene Reisefreiheit zwecks Aushebelung des
> Demonstrationsrechtes eingeschränkt wird. Leute wurden an den Grenzen
> aufgehalten oder mußten sich bereits in ihren Wohnorten während des
> polizeilich melden. Sie durften die Stadt nicht verlassen.
> Flüchtlingsinitiativen führen seit 2 Jahren eine Kampagne gegen die ihnen
> auferlegte Residenzpflicht, die ihnen verbietet, den Landkreis zu
> Sie werden dadurch daran gehindert, sich in Deutschland frei zu bewegen
> insbesondere sich politisch zu engagieren. Statt daß die Residenzpflicht
> abgeschafft wird, werden nun ähnliche Strukturen zumindest zeitlich
> auf andere Personengruppen übertragen.
> Die seit em 11.9 mit der Antiterrorhetze einhergehenden Diskussionen um
> Abbau von Bürgerrechten, Ausbau der Rasterfahndung und der Vereinfachung
> Datenabgleichs machen Widerstand gleichermaßen notwendiger wie
> Wir schlagen vor, zu den Protesten zum EU Gipfel vom 13 -15 Dezember in
> Brüssel nicht klammheimlich über die grüne Grenze zu gehen. Wir plädieren
> Aktionstage zum Grenzübertritt
> an der deutsch belgischen Grenze in Aachen
> Wir wollen versuchen, mit möglichst vielen Leuten, die davon ausgehen, daß
> sie Probleme beim Grenzübertritt haben, kollektiv den Grenzübertritt zu
> fordern. Wenn wir viele sind und mittels öffentlichkeitswirksamer
> Blockaden und Demos politischen Druck erzeugen, können wir eine Einreise
> vielleicht sogar erzwingen. Die Hoffnung daran hängen wir jedoch nicht so
> hoch, Unser Interesse liegt eher daran, diese neue Repression öffentlich
> machen. Aus diesem Grund und auch, um das öffentliche Interesse an den
> Aktionstsagen in Aachen zu erhöhen, wollen wir dort mit einem Kongreß vor
> dem Gipfel beginnen.
> Der Kongreß
> Dieser soll sich mit der neuen internationalen Repression, dem
> Background und unseren möglichen Handlungsperspektiven beschäftigen. Schön
> wäre es, wenn die schon seit Monaten diskutierten unterschiedlichen
> juristischen Ansaätze von bundesweiten Sammelklagen gegen Meldepflicht,
> Ausreiseverbote und Datenweitergabe spätestens auf diesem Kongreß
> zusammengeführt werden können und gemeinsam einer stärker interessiertern
> Öffentlichkeit gegenüber geäußert werden können.
> Die Aktionstage
> Für die weiteren drei/vier Tage sind Straßenaktionen an der Grenze und in
> Aachen sinnvoll, um kollektiven Druck zu machen. Wo und wie wir die
> Aktionstage gestalten ist noch unklar. Wir fändens aber gut, wenn viele
> L;eute auch mit LKW und Bauwägen versuchen, rüberzumachen, um in und um
> Aachen viele flexible Möglichkeiten an Infrastrukturen zur Verfügung zu
> haben. Spätestens ab Donnerstag abend wird wohl dann jede/r eine
> individuelle Entscheidunmg treffen, ob er/sie irgendwie nach Brüssel geht
> oder bleibt.
03 neue WIFO-Studie
From: Migration-News, email@example.com
MONA - Migration Online Austria informiert:
von Dr. Gudrun BIFFL
MONA - Migration Online Austria
04 Gibt es einen Ausweg...
Gibt es einen Ausweg aus Terror und Krieg?
Diskussionsabend der "Bewegung gegen den Krieg":
Wien 15., Meiselstraße 46/4 (bei Nummer 4 läuten)
U3 bis Johnstraße, Aufgang Meiselmarkt/Sturzgasse
Dienstag, 9.10.2001, 19.30 Uhr
Unterschriften für die Einleitung eines SOZIALSTAAT- VOLKSBEGEHRENS
Verfassung soll dahingehend ergänzt werden, dass
die SOZIALE VERANTWORTUNG des Staates darin festgeschrieben wird)
Donnerstag, den 18. Okt., ab 18 Uhr in Anwesenheit eines
Notars bei der BOTSCHAFT BESORGTER BÜRGER am Ballhausplatz 1a
Ein LICHTBILDAUSWEIS ist UNBEDINGT mitzubringen.
Helmut Hromadnik für die BBB.
KOMMENTARE - MELDUNGEN
06 Kein Platz für Rassisten und Antisemiten
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, October 14, 2001 8:30 PM
Subject: <nadir-aktuell-abo> Heidelberg: 27. 10. KEIN PLATZ FÜR RASSISTEN
> 27. 10. KEIN PLATZ FÜR RASSISTEN UND ANTISEMITEN!!
> Von : anonym zugesandt
> Ort : Heidelberg
> Datum: 14.10.2001
> Am Samstag, den 27. Oktober 2001 bekommt Heidelberg ungeladenen Besuch.
> Jugendorganisation der NPD, die Jungen Nationaldemokraten, mobilisiert für
> einen Aufmarsch in Heidelberg unter dem Motto "Globalisierung stoppen -
> die Weltpolizei USA". Bisher galt die beschauliche Universitätsstadt als
> linke Hochburg in Süddeutschland und als heißes Pflaster für Faschisten.
> wir dafür, daß es so bleibt!
> Bereits 1998 meldeten Neonazis aus dem Umfeld der "Karlsruher
> einen Aufmarsch in Heidelberg an, scheiterten jedoch an dem Verbot der
> Veranstaltung durch die Stadtverwaltung. Seither hat sich die rechtliche
> allerdings grundlegend verändert. Ein Beschluß des
> ermöglicht es Faschisten seit geraumer Zeit ihre Propagandaveranstaltungen
> erfolgreich durchzuklagen. Der öffentliche Auftritt von Neonazis ist
> ein gesellschaftliches Problem, dem mit Verboten nicht beizukommen ist.
> Faschisten und Rassisten muß jeglicher öffentlicher Raum streitig gemacht
> es muß klargestellt werden, daß ihre Haltung nicht geduldet wird und daß
> Menschen gibt, die bereit sind aufzustehen um Gesicht zu zeigen.
> "was ihr sucht ist das ende, was wir reichen sind geballte fäuste, keine
> hände!" (Xavier Naidoo)
> Mit ihrer Polemik gegen die Globalisierung kleiden die Nachwuchskader von
> und NPD lediglich die altbekannten "Deutschland den Deutschen" Phrasen in
> ein neues Gewand. Die zunehmende Auflösung nationalstaatlicher
> läßt die selbsternannten Herrenmenschen das Ende der deutschen Kultur und
> angeblichen Überlegenheit befürchten. Hinter der Kritik an der Politik der
> Vereinigten Staaten verbirgt sich ein kaum verhehlter Antiamerikanismus,
> angereichert mit antisemitischen und rassistischen Reflexen. Die deutschen
> haben die Rolle der USA bei der militärischen Niederschlagung des
> Nationalsozialismus nicht vergessen. Kaum verwunderlich scheint da die
Freude über die
> Attentate in New York und Washington, die von Horst Mahler, Vordenker der
> NPD, als "eminent wirksam und damit rechtens" bezeichnet wurden.
> traf es neben dem verhaßten Amerika auch eine Zentrale des vermuteten
> Finanzkapitals" und ein "Moloch des Multikulturalismus".
> Die Positionen der Faschisten sind in diesem Fall jedoch gesellschaftlich
> relativ isoliert. Die Notwendigkeit Nazis entgegenzutreten ergibt sich
> weniger aus ihrer politischen Relevanz, denn aus der sehr konkreten Gefahr
> für Menschen die nicht in das beschränkte Weltbild der Faschisten passen.
> MigrantInnen, Jüdinnen und Juden, Schwule und Lesben, Behinderte,
> aber auch Hip-Hoper, Skater, kurz all die, die Objekte des rechten Wahns
> darstellen sind von Nazischlägern bedroht, wenn man ihnen die Straße
> Der Aufmarsch in Heidelberg dient maßgeblich zur Demonstration der eigenen
> Stärke für den rechten Nachwuchs. Die Massenveranstaltung soll das Umfeld
> enger an die Partei binden und deren Weltbild festigen. Da die
> des Aufmarsches, allen voran der bekannte Naziskin Christian Hehl aus
> Ludwigshafen, mit einem Bein im Gefängnis stehen, braucht es neue
> Volkswillens um Jagd auf Undeutsche zu machen.
> mit rechts gegen rechts?
> Der Protest gegen Rechts kann sich nicht nur gegen die extremsten
> Erscheinungsformen richten, sondern muß Rassismus und Antisemitismus
> welcher Facon. Im Sommer 2000 wurde von der SPD-Bundesregierung der
> der Anständigen" ausgerufen. Vom angekündigten Engagement bürgerlicher
> ist heute außer dem Verbotsverfahren gegen die NPD nicht mehr viel zu
> obwohl rechte Gewalttaten weiterhin auf der Tagesordnung stehen.
> Seit dem Wahlsieg von Rot-Grün 1998 bemüht sich die Bundesregierung
> sichtlich den Kurs in der Ausländerpolitik der konservativen Vorgänger
> weiterzuverfolgen. Zwar wurde das Blut-und-Boden Staatsbürgerschaftsrecht
der BRD etwas
> aufgeweicht und der zeitlich begrenzte Aufenthalt von ausländischen
> Arbeitskräften bei entsprechender Qualifikation ermöglicht, diese
Initiativen sind jedoch
> der schlichten Erkenntnis geschuldet, daß in Zeiten der Globalisierung
> Menschen ohne deutschen Paß dem Wirtschaftsstandort Deutschland nützlich
> Nach wie vor haben Gesetze Wirkung die gegen die Würde von Menschen
> gerichtet sind. Die Inhaftierung von Flüchtlingen die sich nichts
> lassen, als daß sie hier Zuflucht gesucht haben, in Abschiebeknäste, die
> Unterbringung unter menschenunwürdigen Umständen in Sammelunterkünften,
> Versorgung weit unter dem Existenzminimum nach dem
> die Einschränkung der Freizügigkeit durch die Residenzpflicht sind nur
> einige Beispiele.
> Ungleichbehandlung und institutioneller Rassismus wird auch im Handeln von
> Behörden, Polizei oder Bundesgrenzschutz deutlich. Die in Heidelberg
> verdachtsunabhängigen Kontrollen treffen vor allem MigrantInnen.
> "ich sag´deutschland, ihr sagt nein! ihr sagt deutschland, ich sag´ nein!"
> (Denyo/ Absolute Beginner)
> Politiker, die mit Äußerungen wie "Die Grenze der Belastbarkeit ist
> erreicht" (Innenminister Schily), "Für kriminelle Ausländer gibt's nur
eins, raus und
> zwar schnell" (Bundeskanzler Schröder) bewußt eine Trennlinie zwischen
> Deutschen und MigrantInnen ziehen, ebnen den Weg für rassistische
> der Bevölkerung. Unterschriftenlisten gegen die doppelte
> die Forderung nach einer deutschen Identität legen die Lunte für den
> nächsten Brandanschlag.
> Die Lippenbekenntisse bürgerlicher Parteien gegen Neonazis sind der
> von Imagepflege für den Standort Deutschland, angereichert mit ein wenig
> moralischer Betroffenheit über die Verletzten und Toten, denn schließlich
> sich auch der Äusländer, der morgen abgeschoben wird, heute noch sicher
> können" (Beckstein, Innenminister Bayern). Mit der Demonstration und den
> Aktionen am 27. Oktober soll klar gestellt werden, daß wir uns gegen den
> Rassismus der Neuen Mitte ebenso vehement stellen, wie gegen das
> Fußvolk von NPD und Kameradschaften.
> für die globalisierung von unten!
> Sollten die Nazis wider erwarten vor Gericht scheitern und der Aufmarsch
> verboten werden, wollen wir trotzdem den Raum nutzen, um deutlich für die
> von MigrantInnen auf die Straße zu gehen. Außerdem werden wir klar
> daß der Versuch von rechts, die Bewegung der GlobalisierungskritikerInnen
> unterwandern nicht aufgehen wird. Den DemonstrantInnen von Seattle, Prag,
> Götheborg und Genua ist der Wunsch nach einem würdigen Leben für alle
> jenseits ethnischer, nationalstaatlicher und religiöser Konstrukte gemein.
> Dem Ruf von Konservativen und Nazis nach Reinhaltung von deutscher Kultur
> Rasse setzen wir eine Globalisierung entgegen, die diese Werte
> Kommunikation weltweit wahr werden läßt und universelle Werte entwickelt.
> ungleichmäßigen Verteilung des Reichtums in der Welt setzen wir die
> aber immer noch richtige Forderung nach Abschaffung des Kapitalismus
> entgegen. Die Mobilisierungsfähigkeit der Linken zu Anti-Nazi-Aktionen muß
> werden, um die Ideen alternativer, fortschrittlicher Gesellschaftssysteme
> weiterhin am Leben zu erhalten. Die Gegnerschaft zum kapitalistischen
> geht darüber hinaus, ihn nur als die Wurzel des Faschismus anzugreifen.
> demo "fight racism!" ab 10:30 uniplatz
> danach "smash right! - aktionen gegen den npd-aufmarsch
> KEIN PLATZ FÜR RASSISTEN UND ANTISEMITEN!!
> *** nadir-aktuell-abo -- Aboliste mit Nachrichten von http://www.nadir.org
> *** Beitraege: firstname.lastname@example.org / Redaktion:
> *** Unsubscribe: email@example.com mit unsubscribe nadir-aktuell-abo im
07 Workers Power Global Week
WORKERS POWER GLOBAL
E-newswire of the LRCI
11 October 2001
Subscribe to: firstname.lastname@example.org
>> WELCOME TO ISSUE #65
Workers Power Global Week is the English language e-newsletter of the LRCI.
To unsubscribe mail to: email@example.com. Please forward this to
BIGGEST ANTI-WAR PROTEST FOR DECADES IN LONDON
>>SWEDEN: PROTESTS MOUNT AGAINST THE WAR
>>AFGHANISTAN: HOW THE WEST HELPED THE TALIBAN COME TO POWER
>>AFGHANISTAN: HOW "BIG OIL" STANDS TO GAIN FROM THE PRESENT WAR
>>PALESTINE: FIGHT AGAINST ARAFAT¹S ALLIANCE WITH IMPERIALISM!
BIGGEST ANTI-WAR PROTEST FOR DECADES IN LONDON
Workers Power Global, London
helped turn one of the largest demonstrations for 10 years
into a lively carnival against the war. Coaches from all over the UK
streamed into London bringing large numbers of students, trade unionists,
socialists, pacifists and other campaigners to the demo.
The nine coaches
from Birmingham were not enough two hundred others
wanting to come were left behind. There were simultaneous protests in
Glasgow, Liverpool and elsewhere.
Police estimate 20,000 on the march, but we knew there were many more.
For those of us
who have trodden the route from Hyde Park to Trafalgar
Square more times that we like to remember, this was definitely one of the
most impressive, reminiscent of demonstrations in support of the miners or
against the poll tax.
We lined up in
Hyde Park expecting to set off shortly after the front of the
march. Over an hour later we were still queueing to reach the start, our
voices already hoarse from singing and chanting. Half-way down Park Lane we
received a call from Trafalgar Square saying it was already full of
The march was called
by CND and supported by the Stop the War Coalition,
Socialist Alliance, Green Peace and many Middle Eastern, Muslim and
Christian groups. There were large numbers of trade union, trades council
and political banners, but most inspiring were the masses of students and
colleges with banners against the war and the hypocrisy of the imperialists.
With this range
of people there were obviously different views, from
outright pacifism on the one hand to pro-Taliban on the other. But there was
great resonance for the chants against the bombing, condemning Blair and
Bush, and imperialism.
don¹t want your racist war
5,6,7,8 stop the killing stop the hate!"
This was a great
start to the national protest, building on the 2000 that
rallied outside Downing St when the bombing started on 7 October. We must
build it until Blair is forced to recognise that his unquestioning support
for the US led war against Afghanistan does not have the backing of working
class people in this country.
PROTESTS MOUNT AGAINST THE WAR
Workers Power Global Stockholm
After the US-led
alliance started its bombing campaign against Afghanistan,
several protests have been held in Sweden.
As soon as the bombing started about 600 people protested in Stockholm.
Three days later
there was a protest against a meeting of the TABD
(Trans-Atlantic Bussiness Dialogue), a capitalist lobby group that plays an
important role in laying out the plans for the neo-liberal offensive all
over the world.
The meeting, that
was scheduled to take place in Stockholm, had been
cancelled due to the ¹risks¹ involved. But the protests went ahead anyway,
and was partially turned into a protest against the war. About 1 000 took
part in the demonstration.
The Swedish prime
minister, Göran Persson, have taken a lead among the
Scandinavian politicians in support of the war. During the week he met with
the prime ministers from neighbouring Denmark and Finland, and assured
everyone that the US is still only using its right to ¹self-defence¹.
On Saturday big
demonstrations took place both in Stockholm (2 500),
Gothenburg (2 500) and Malmö (1 000), supported among others by the Left
party and the Greens. The demonstrations were primarily directed against the
support of the Swedish government for the war. In accordance with that aim,
it ended outside the parliament building.
At the end of the
demonstration in Stockholm Arbetarmakt, the LRCI section,
and the youth group Revolution organised a protest close to the US embassy.
About 80 people
took part in this protest, with speakers from Arbetarmakt
and Revolution, and a heavy presence of police. We were not allowed to come
too close to the most important symbol of US imperialism in Sweden, but the
protest was solidly anti-imperialist and in defence of Afghanistan against
The coalition who
organised the main demonstration in Stockholm didn¹t want
to march to the embassy, since they chose to make it a protest both against
terrorism and war. Despite protests and threats from the Coalition, which
echoed of old-time Stalinist calls for monolithic unity in the protests, we
went ahead and concluded a day of protests by directly protesting against
the highest representative of US imperialism in Stockholm.
MORE ON THE WAR AGAINST AFGHANISTAN SEE:
HOW THE WEST HELPED THE TALIBAN COME TO POWER
Workers Power Global, London
Who backed the
Taliban in their quest for power during the 1990s? In the
light of the west¹s fulminations against the Taliban after 11 September the
answer to the question will catch the unwary by surprise. The Taliban could
not have won without the backing of the USA. Imperialism helped them to
power and then kept them in power.
in Afghanistan began when the modernising but crisis wracked
regime of General Daud was overthrown in 1978 by the Peoples Democratic
Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). The PDPA was based amongst primarily on the
army and air force, but also on the small working class and intelligentsia.
It was a Stalinist organisation and its seizure of power was via a coup, not
The PDPA was, however,
desperate to modernise and unite the nation, turn it
into a pro-Soviet state and smash the feudal rule of the khans. The problem
was, it chose to do this purely from above. It issued decrees abolishing
peasant debt and reforming the land. It carried through a literacy programme
and it tried to eradicate the worst aspects of women¹s oppression.
But it did all
of this in a highly bureaucratic fashion, using repression
rather than trying to mobilise the masses. Moreover, it was itself deeply
divided. The Parcham wing of the PDPA under Taraki favoured concessions to
the landlords and clerics and draped itself in the Green Flag of Islam. The
Khalq wing, under Amin, was a kind of extreme third period Stalinist sect -
waging brutal war against its opponents, including within the regime.
In the autumn of
1979 the Khalq leader, Amin, overthrew Taraki and killed
him. Amin then threw himself into the war against the Mujahedin (based on
the tribal warlords) that had already organised a Jihad (holy war) against
what it saw as the communist infidels in Kabul.
The USSR, which
had poured billions into Afghanistan to keep it friendly,
saw the danger of Amin blowing up its entire project. In 1979 it invaded the
country, killed Amin and installed Babrak Karmal, whose first television
appearance included an appeal to his fellow Muslims.
The Soviet plan
was to score quick victories against the Mujahedin and then
effect a reconciliation with the Islamic opposition. It backfired badly and
the USSR was to pay a heavy price, retreating in 1988/89 defeated,
demoralised and wracked by internal crises that culminated in its collapse.
The problem was
that Washington saw its chance to engage the USSR in a proxy
war. Even before the Soviet invasion the CIA had commenced a secret
operation to support the Mujahedin. After the invasion that support
continued and intensified. Officially over $6 billion was given to the
Islamic fighter. Unofficially it amounted to a lot more.
CIA gave US Stinger anti-aircraft missiles which proved
crucial in defeating the Soviet armed forces. The victories of the Islamic
fundamentalist came courtesy of Washington.
The National Security
Adviser to the Carter regime at the time, Zbigniew
Brzezinski, commented in 1998 :
push the Russians to intervene but we consciously increased the
probability that they would do so. This secret operation was an excellent
idea. Its effect was to draw the Russians into the Afghan trap. You want me
to regret that?"
Reagan and Bush senior then prosecuted the proxy war
with a vengeance and on the day Kabul fell to the Islamic reactionaries
there were raucous celebrations at CIA headquarters.
All the money,
the training of Afghan guerrillas at US rifle clubs and CIA
camps, the political support and the provision of the Stingers - the first
time ever the CIA had supplied US made weaponry to anyone - had paid off.
The USSR had suffered a catastrophic defeat. It was revenge for Vietnam, and
more, much more besides.
Initially the USA
was disinterested in what happened next. But when Clinton
came to power, and Afghanistan far from settling down was still engulfed in
civil war - first between the PDPA and the Islamic forces and then, from
1992 onwards, between rival Islamic warlords, the US decided to back the
emerging Taliban movement as a force for stability.
It did this by
directly involving its regional agent, Pakistan. The
Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, with CIA backing, armed and
equipped the growing Taliban movement and began to transport large numbers
of its supporters from the refugee camps into Afghanistan.
Helped by ISI commanders,
fed and armed courtesy Pakistani and US funds, and
with Clinton¹s covert approval, the Taliban launched its offensive in 1994
to bring to an end the civil war that was raging inside Afghanistan. Its
successes were rapid and spectacular as warlord after warlord fell.
When it captured
Kabul in 1996 the west heaved a sigh of relief. Not only
would the Taliban bring order but, eventually, they would become an ally in
the US war on drugs (Afghanistan supplies most of the world¹s opium).
Indeed George Bush
junior, last May (that¹s a mere six months ago) indicated
his support for the Taliban by granting it a $43 million dollar aid package
that made the US the single largest sponsor of the Taliban regime in the
world. It hoped to woo the regime into handing over its guest, Osama bin
Laden, and secure recognition for it beyond its only open supporters,
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Moreover the multinational
oil company Unocal was now pushing for a
settlement with the Taliban so that it could outflank its rivals in its bid
to gain control of the planned oil and gas pipelines across the country and
into Central Asia. The stakes had become high and Bush was willing to pay
the Taliban to seal the deal.
State Department backing and was given regular CIA
briefings. The remaining opposition to the Taliban - the reactionary
Northern Alliance - openly complained that the Taliban was being backed by
the US because of Unocal¹s interests in the area.
So the USA bears
direct responsibility for securing the victory of the
Taliban, ably assisted by Pakistan. The hypocrisy of George Bush in his
declaration of opposition to it today is breath taking.
Despite being sponsored
by the US, however, the Taliban is not a creation of
the US. Its emergence does owe something to the failure of the post PDPA
regime to secure peace in Afghanistan. Between 1992 and 1994 Afghanistan was
in a state of perpetual chaos.
For the traders
- the trucking companies who constitute a Mafia in
Afghanistan - the ending of the chaos was essential. Only with a new order -
to replace the constant tolls they were charged by every regional warlord,
the banditry and so on - could their trade begin to pay real dividends.
Moreover this Mafia had powerful friends in Pakistan who promised to build
and repair roads if only order could be established and tolls minimised.
This section of
Afghan society poured money into the Taliban once it was
convinced that they were determined to pacify the country. In this sense the
Taliban did have the backing of an important wing of the small Afghan
bourgeoisie within the country. This wing was happy to use the enraged
lumpens of the militia so that it could resume its lucrative trading
operations (of contraband like drugs, as well as official commodities like
fuel and dried fruit).
support from the trucking bosses and an army of enraged
lumpen youth - these were the potent factors that contributed to the
Taliban¹s success. This did not, however, mean that the Taliban was a US
The mullahs had
their own agenda, their own reactionary goals and, to use
CIA parlance, were always capable of delivering a "Blowback" - turning on
their paymasters. On September 11 this appears to be what happened. The
Taliban placed Pashtun hospitality (and probably support) for their equally
fanatical fundamental friend, Osama bin Laden, above everything and now find
themselves about to face the wrath of the "crusaders".
Out of this conflict
imperialism will not doubt try to piece together some
new alliance - based around the aged king (in exile since 1973), the
reactionary Islamic Northern Alliance or possibly even dissident elements
within the Taliban.
But for the people
of Afghanistan the outcome will mean more misery.
Refugees, already numbering millions, will freeze and die in the camps.
Peasants will starve as drought and war exact their deadly toll on the land.
The tiny working class and urban petit bourgeoisie will once again see their
historic cities reduced to rubble.
agony can only be ended when a force is built, not only in
that country but in neighbouring Iran and Pakistan, which can rally the
people around a project of modernisation that directly benefits them and
involves them directly and democratically. Until a socialist federation of
the near east is created, however, the agony will continue.
MORE ON THE WAR
AGAINST AFGHANISTAN SEE:
>>AFGHANISTAN: HOW "BIG OIL" STANDS TO GAIN FROM THE PRESENT WAR
Workers Power Global, Vienna
Behind the USA-led
war against Afghanistan lie substantial material
interests of the US ruling class, in the first place economic interests of
key oil corporations.
in a region which becomes more and more important for the
USA the region around the Caspian See and Central Asia. The Caspian region
contains tremendous untapped hydrocarbon reserves.
gas reserves equal more than 236-326 trillion cubic feet. The
region's total oil reserves may well reach more than 60 billion barrels of
oil and some estimates are as high as 200 or even 235 billion barrels.
In other words,
the Caspian See region contains the equivalent of the
reserves of the Middle East. However this reserves are largely unexplored.
Given the growing
demand of global capitalism for energy and worries about
declining oil reserves in the Middle East the importance of the Caspian See
region for US imperialism is obvious.
For this reason
several Western multinationals BP, Chevron, Texaco etc.
are leading forces in international corporation consortiums which hope to
explore these reserves.
A central problem
for the USA is that they need undoubtedly pro-Western
governments to secure the profitable exploitation of the hydrocarbon
reserves. For example oil and gas must be transported via pipelines to the
see. The corporations have an interest to put down the costs for the
pipelines and tariff as low as possible. For this they need submissive
regimes who don¹t dare to ask for a significant share of the huge profit
despite the poverty and the low income of their countries.
This problem is
particularly obvious in Afghanistan. In principle the
country is well placed to host a pipeline rout in the South. Both the US
administration and corporations have repeatedly expressed their interest for
such a project.
The new Bush administration
where both the president, the vice-president
and the National Security advisor come from a oil corporation background
represent the fusion of corporations and state interests and it is therefor
absolutely determined to intervene for the interest of the oil industry.
But the yearlong
civil war and the political instability were obstacles for
the realisation of this project until now. For all these reasons US
imperialism elaborated plans to pacify Afghanistan and to install a loyal
regime already in 1997.
At a hearing at
the US congress on February 12, 1998, John Maresca, vice
president of international relations at the Unocal Corporation, openly expre
ssed their interest:
"From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of the pipeline we
have proposed across Afghanistan could not begin until a recognized
government is in place that has the confidence of governments, lenders, and
The war against
Afghanistan could also provide the USA with the pretext to
install a loyal regime in Afghanistan and to station US troops in other
countries in the region (e.g. Uzbekistan) and therefore increase its grip on
The US-mass bombardment
against Afghanistan is the realisation of all these
plans. In the next article we will show the additional interests of US
imperialism involved. But already now we can draw the conclusion that this
war is a war for oil.
This is why the
anti-capitalist movement must extend its goals to fight not
only against the big corporations who exploit the people and destroy the
environment but to fight also against war and imperialism. Corporations and
its greed for profit are a driving force for war. To stop war once for all
we must destroy capitalism.
MORE ON THE WAR
AGAINST AFGHANISTAN SEE:
>>PALESTINE: FIGHT AGAINST ARAFAT¹S ALLIANCE WITH IMPERIALISM!
Workers Power Global, Occupied Palestine
The war against
Afghanistan has had a major effect on the course of the
intifada in Palestine. The commitment of Arafat to the imperialist
coalition, led by the US and Britain has caused an even deeper rift in the
relationship between the Palestinian National Authority¹s leadership and the
masses on the streets.
For the first time,
Arafta¹s police killed Palestinian demonstrators who
were opposed to the war against Afghanistan or supported Osama Bin-Laden.
Many Palestinians on the demonstrations were not supporters of Hamas and the
The PNA even asked
the Israeli government for equipment to oppress
demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza strip. Today, the intifada faces a
double front in its war for national liberation: Israel and the Arafat
leadership of the PNA.
stipulated a very clear condition: the PNA should supress
any force that resists US domination in Palestine, in order to get financial
support and international legitimacy from the US and its allies.
Arafat will do
all he can in order to please the USA, even at the risk of
provoking a civil war in the West Bank and Gaza strip. All the
anti-imperialist forces in Palestine including the reactionary Hamas
movement but also the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine and the
Democratic Front. Like never before the anti-imperialist forces must fight
Arafat¹s regime if they are to be able to fight for justice.
But we warn the
masses: Osama Bin-Laden never had any attachment to the
cause of the Palestinian people. His motivation for his organisation was the
US bases inside Saudi Arabia. For this reason Al-Qaida bombed US embassies
in Africa in 1998.
His support for
the Palestinian¹s struggle in his latest video is an
opportunistic and fickle claim. Solidarity with the people of Afghanistan in
their hour of need is one thing but supporting Bin-Laden¹s strategy is
The way of Osama
Bin-Laden and the Taliban regime is not the way to fight
against the PNA and the Zionism; we say "NO!" to any action that aims to
cause the death of thousands of working people in the USA as was caused by
the attack on the World Trade Centre.
The working class
is an ally in the struggle against oppression and the new
colonialism in the Middle East and South Asia. Individual terrorism will not
dislodge the US and its European allies from its purpose; only a mass
movement in the Middle East and South Asia and a solidarity movement in the
USA and Europe can break their will and disable their military machine.
One only has to
look at the nature of the Taliban regime, with its attack on
secular, democratic and women¹s rights to see the kind of society that Osama
Bin-Laden wants to seek implanted in Palestine, a hell-hole of reaction and
misery, of religious bigotry.
forces in the Middle East should be recruited to the
victory of Afghanistan. A defeat for imperialism will strengthen all those
fighting against it in all parts of the world, including Palestine and will
weaken all those like Arafat who have allied themselves with imperialism
against the people of Afghanistan.
. Defend Afghanistan
- Defeat US and imperialist attacks!
. Imperialist hands off Afghanistan!
. Victory to the Intifada! For the right of self-determination for the
Palestinian people. Down with the racist state of Israel! For a workers and
socialist Palestine in which Jews and Arabs can live in peace!
. Open the borders to refugees
. For trade union action to boycott troops, weapons and supplies heading for
the imperialists armies, navies and air forces
. Reject individual terrorism as a method of struggle against imperialism
. For massive food and medical aid to Afghanistan without strings or
. Abolish the Third World debt to Western banks and financial institutions
. The Afghan people themselves must settle accounts with the Taliban: not
US/UK imperialist armies. No restoration of the monarchy or the Northern
Alliance warlords. For a workers¹ and peasants¹ government based on shoras -
democratic councils of delegates
. Down with Musharraf for a socialist republic of Pakistan and socialist
federations of central Asia and the Indian sub-continent
. No to suspension of the class struggle in the imperialist democracies.
Break the pro-war policy of the social-democratic, official OCommunist¹ and
trade union leaders.
. End sanctions against Iraq!
. Repudiate and cancel Third World debt! Break with all military pacts and
agreements that tie semi-colonies to imperialism! No to CALA!
. Turn the anti-capitalist movement against imperialism
. For a revolutionary international of the working class world party of
. For a workers and socialist revolution to end the domination of
imperialism and construct a world socialist commonwealth without poverty,
inequality, oppression and war.
FOR MORE ON PALESTINE
AND THE INTIFADA SEE:
>> NOW FORWARD THIS TO A COMRADE >> NOW FORWARD THIS TO A COMRADE
14. Oktober 2001, 23:00 Uhr
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