May 11, 2004

Tourists and Torturers

The New York Times, May 11 2004


So now we think we know who took some of the photographs at Abu Ghraib. The works attributed to Specialist Jeremy Sivits are fated to remain among the indelible images of our time. They will have changed the course of history; just how much we do not yet know. It is arguable that without them, news of what happened within the walls of that prison would never have emerged from the fog of classified internal memos. We owe their circulation and perhaps their existence to the popular technology of our day, to digital cameras and JPEG files and e-mail. Photographs can now be disseminated as quickly and widely as rumors. It's possible that even if Specialist Joseph M. Darby hadn't gone to his superiors in January and "60 Minutes II" hadn't broken the story last month, some of those pictures would sooner or later have found their way onto the Web and so into the public record.

Leaving aside the question of how anyone could have perpetrated the horrors depicted in those pictures, you can't help but wonder why American soldiers would incriminate themselves by posing next to their handiwork. Americans don't seem to have a long tradition of that sort of thing. I can't offhand recall having seen comparable images from any recent wars, although before the digital era amateur photographs were harder to spread. There have been many atrocity photographs over the years, of course — the worst I've ever seen were taken in Algeria in 1961, and once when I was a child another kid found and showed off his father's cache of pictures from the Pacific Theater in World War II, which shook me so badly that I can't remember with any certainty what they depicted. I'm pretty sure, though, that they did not show anyone grinning and making self-congratulatory gestures.

The pictures from Abu Ghraib are trophy shots. The American soldiers included in them look exactly as if they were standing next to a gutted buck or a 10-foot marlin. That incongruity is not the least striking aspect of the pictures. The first shot I saw, of Specialist Charles A. Graner and Pfc. Lynndie R. England flashing thumbs up behind a pile of their naked victims, was so jarring that for a few seconds I took it for a montage. When I registered what I was seeing, I was reminded of something. There was something familiar about that jaunty insouciance, that unabashed triumph at having inflicted misery upon other humans. And then I remembered: the last time I had seen that conjunction of elements was in photographs of lynchings.

In photographs that were taken and often printed as postcards in the American heartland in the first four decades of the 20th century, black men are shown hanging from trees or light fixtures or maybe being burned alive, while below them white people are laughing and pointing for the benefit of the camera. There are some pictures of whites being lynched, too, but these tend not to feature the holiday crowd. Often the spectators at lynchings of African-Americans are so effusive in their mugging that they all seem to be vying for credit. Before seeing such pictures you might expect the faces in them to express some kind of collective rage; instead the mood is giddy, often verging on hysterical, with a distinct sexual undercurrent.

Like the lynching crowds, the Americans at Abu Ghraib felt free to parade their triumph and glee not because they were psychopaths but because the thought of censure probably never crossed their minds. In both cases a contagious collective frenzy perhaps overruled the scruples of some people otherwise known for their gentleness and sympathy — but isn't the abandonment of such scruples possible only if the victims are considered less than human? After all, it is one thing for a boxer to lift his hands over his head in triumph beside the fallen body of his rival, quite another to strike a comparable pose next to the bodies of strangers you have arranged in quasi-pornographic tableaus. The Americans in the photographs are not enacting hatred; hatred can coexist with respect, however strained. What they display, instead, is contempt: their victims are merely objects.

It is conceivable that such events might have occurred in a war in which the enemy looked like us —certainly, there are Americans to whom all foreigners are irredeemably Other. Still, it is striking how, in wartime, a fundamental lack of respect for the enemy's body becomes an issue only when the enemy is perceived as being of another race. You might have heard about the strings of human ears collected by some soldiers in Vietnam, or read the story, reported in Life during World War II, about the G.I. who blithely mailed his girlfriend in Brooklyn a Japanese skull as a Christmas present. And the concept of the human trophy is not restricted to warfare, but permeates the history of colonialism, from the Congo to Australia, Mexico to India. Treating those we deem our equals as game animals, however, has been out of fashion for quite a few centuries.

Of course the violence at Abu Ghraib was primarily psychological — hey, only a few people were killed — and the trophies were pictorial, like the results of a photo safari. Some commentators have made a point of noting this very relative nonviolence, contrasting it with the lynching of the four American military contractors in Falluja last month. This line of argument is notable for what it leaves out: there is a difference between the rage of a people who feel themselves invaded and the contempt of a victorious nation for a civilian population whom it has ostensibly liberated.

That prison guards would pose captives — primarily noncombatants, low-level riffraff — in re-enactments of cable TV smut for the benefit of their friends back home emerges from the mode of thinking that has prevented an accounting of civilian deaths in Iraq since the beginning of the war. If civilian deaths are not recorded, let alone published, it must be because they do not matter, and if they do not matter it must be because the Iraqis are beneath notice. And that must mean that anything done to them is permissible, as long as it does not create publicity that would embarrass the Bush administration. The possible consequences of the Abu Ghraib archive are numerous, many of them horrifying. Perhaps, though, the digital camera will haunt the future career of George W. Bush the way the tape recorder sealed the fate of Richard Nixon.

Luc Sante, who teaches creative writing and the history of photography at Bard College, is the author of "Low Life," "Evidence" and "The Factory of Facts."

April 26, 2004

FBI arrests Palestinian in Rochester


The FBI says that there may be a possible terrorist link to Rochester. Law enforcement officials have arrested a local man whose being accused of lying to the government about a suspected terrorist who lived in Rochester.

Mohamed Subeh is free on $20,000 bond. He told News 10 NBC that he came to the US 15 years ago to start a new life. He has 5 American born daughters and says he has “no reason” to lie. But, the government isn’t buying it.

Subeh is a business owner and lives in a quiet Rochester neighborhood, but Friday the US Attorneys Office indicted him on 3 counts of giving false statement to the FBI.

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The Wrong Debate on Terrorism

Op/Ed, New York Times by Richard Clarke

The last month has seen a remarkable series of events that focused the public and news media on America's shortcomings in dealing with terrorism from radical Islamists. This catharsis, which is not yet over, is necessary for our national psyche. If we learn the right lessons, it may also prove to be an essential part of our future victory over those who now threaten us.

But how do we select the right lessons to learn? I tried to suggest some in my recent book, and many have attempted to do so in the 9/11 hearings, but such efforts have been largely eclipsed by partisan reaction.

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No stone will remain unturned in terrorism battle: Saudi minister

Khaleej Times

Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz said in remarks published Sunday that “no stone will remain unturned in the fight against terror” and called for cooperation with the security forces to identify terror cells that may still be in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to the Saudi newspaper Al Watan, Prince Nayef said investigations into last Wednesday’s terrorist attack in Riyadh are still underway and the identity of the perpetrators should be announced soon.

Five people were killed and over 140 injured Wednesday in the attack on the capital’s traffic department.

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Muslims rally against terrorism in Arizona

Arizona Republic

Hundreds of residents from across the Valley gathered Sunday night at Phoenix's Patriots Square Park to join what is believed to be the nation's first Muslim rally against terrorism.

"The killing of innocent people out of revenge, out of hate or out of retribution is against the absolute laws of Islam," said Zuhdi Jasser, a physician who organized the rally. "Suicide is against the absolute laws of Islam.

"People can justify their actions all day long, but we as Muslims are here to say clearly their actions are against everything we believe."

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April 25, 2004

Militants in Europe call for jihad

New York Times

LUTON, England, April 24 — The call to jihad is rising in the streets of Europe, and is being answered, counterterrorism officials say.

In this former industrial town north of London, a small group of young Britons whose parents emigrated from Pakistan after World War II have turned against their families' new home. They say they would like to see Prime Minister Tony Blair dead or deposed and an Islamic flag hanging outside No. 10 Downing Street.

They swear allegiance to Osama bin Laden and his goal of toppling Western democracies to establish an Islamic superstate under Shariah law, like Afghanistan under the Taliban. They call the Sept. 11 hijackers the "Magnificent 19" and regard the Madrid train bombings as a clever way to drive a wedge into Europe.

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April 24, 2004

American Terror Suspect's Path From Streets to Pentagon Brig

The New York Times Magazine, April 25 2004

About 10 months after Jose Padilla disappeared into a naval brig in South Carolina, a Pentagon official appeared at his mother's workplace in Florida with a greeting card. When Estela Ortega Lebron saw the familiar pinched handwriting, she trembled, knowing, before even reading the card, that it was for real, the first evidence of her son's existence since he was seized by the American military in June 2002.

"In the name of God the merciful the mercy giver," Mr. Padilla wrote, "I have been allowed to write you a card and just letting you know I'm doing fine and in good health. Do not believe what is being said about me in the news it is untrue and I pray that we can have a reunion. Love your son Pucho." Pucho was Mr. Padilla's childhood nickname.

That card was the sum and substance of Mr. Padilla's communication with the outside world for about 21 months. Brooklyn-born and Chicago-bred, a Muslim convert of Puerto Rican descent, Mr. Padilla, 33, was first arrested at O'Hare International Airport in May 2002. A month later, President Bush took the extraordinary step of declaring him an "enemy combatant," and the military placed Mr. Padilla, whom the government accused of plotting a radiological "dirty bomb" attack, in solitary confinement.

Last month, more than a year after a federal judge ordered the government to permit Mr. Padilla to see his lawyers, the government relented. It did not allow a traditional attorney-client meeting, though. Military officials hovered and a videocamera recorded the encounter.

April 20, 2004

High Court Hears Detention Cases of Guantano prisoners

Washington Post

Find good additional links on the Post site regarding today's hearings. Excerpt:

The Bush administration's top lawyer encountered stiff resistance at the Supreme Court yesterday, as he urged the justices to side with President Bush in the first test of the executive branch's power to identify and imprison enemies in the war on terrorism.

Facing the court in oral arguments over the detention of al Qaeda and Taliban suspects held at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba, Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson dramatically reminded the court that "the United States is at war," that more than 10,000 troops are in Afghanistan, and that the country faces an "extraordinary threat."

But several justices asked questions that implied they doubted Olson's assertion that Bush, as commander in chief, may hold the suspects for interrogation at the base in Cuba as long as he deems necessary, without judicial oversight

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American Prisoners, American Rights

New York Times, Op/Ed David Cole

WASHINGTON — Today the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether the United States government can detain foreign nationals held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as "enemy combatants" without charge and without hearings. Next week the court will hear arguments in similar cases involving American citizens. Many consider the detention of citizens to be more dubious legally. But from a constitutional standpoint, citizenship should not matter.

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Supreme Court prepares to hear Guantanamo case

Amnesty International

Mother Jones

Starting today, the Supreme Court will begin to consider whether the executive branch, in the name of fighting terror, can restrict civil liberties. The court will hear arguments in three cases concerning detainees -- including two U.S. citizens -- held by the U.S. government indefinitely, without charge, and without access to counsel. The court's decisions, due by June 30, will define the scope of presidential authority in the war on terror and establish the balance of power between the executive and the judiciary in matters of national security.

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President Bush pushes Patriot Act

Associated Press

New York Times

President Bush traveled to Buffalo today to continue his drive for an extension of provisions of the USA Patriot Act that are set to expire next year.

In what was billed by the White House as a "conversation," Mr. Bush told an audience of political supporters, firefighters and police officers: "The Patriot Act needs to be renewed and the Patriot Act needs to be enhanced. That's what we're talking about."

It was, he said, essential for "the security of our country."

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April 09, 2004

What the 9/11 Commission Overlooks

Time magazine:

As Condoleezza Rice prepares for her long-awaited testimony before the commission investigating al-Qaeda and the Sept. 11th attacks, a look at Israel's experience with terrorism is instructive. It may shock Americans to learn that Israeli leaders freely admit that the growth of Hamas was partly a tragedy of their own making. Israel made a conscious decision to allow the Islamist movement to grow in the West Bank and Gaza in the early 1980s, hoping that this would undermine support for Yasser Arafat's PLO. "In retrospect we made a mistake," former Defense Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer told the daily Maariv last week.

The Israeli military administration in the territories had prohibited the PLO from operating openly, but it was instructed to allow the Islamists the freedom to establish a large-scale religious-welfare-political infrastructure. The Islamist welfare effort, which gave Hamas a claim on the hearts and minds of Palestinians living under occupation, was, of course, driven by an agenda even more poisonous than the PLO's to Israel's interest. But, says Ben Eliezer, "by the time we realized what was happening, it was too late."

April 07, 2004

Court Frees Moroccan Convicted In 9/11 Case

Washington Post:

BERLIN, April 7 -- A Moroccan man who is the only person ever convicted of aiding the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers was freed by a court in Hamburg Wednesday pending a retrial.

Mounir Motassadeq, 30, walked from the courthouse one month after an appeals court panel ruled that his first trial had been compromised by the judges' failure to adequately consider the U.S. government's refusal to provide evidence from an al Qaeda operative it holds in secret custody.

April 06, 2004

ACLU Files First Nationwide Challenge to “No-Fly” List, Saying Government List Violates Passengers’ Rights


WASHINGTON – A member of the military, a retired Presbyterian minister and a college student are among seven U.S. citizens who have joined the first nationwide, class-action challenge to the government's “No-Fly” list filed today by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“This case is about innocent people who found out that their government considers them potential terrorists,” said Reginald T. Shuford, an ACLU senior staff attorney who is lead counsel in the case. “For our clients and thousands like them, getting on a plane means repeated delays and the stigma of being singled out as a security threat in front of their family, their fellow passengers and the flight crew,” Shuford added. “What's worse, these passengers have no idea why they have been placed on the No-Fly list and no way to clear their names.”

April 01, 2004

International Relations 101

The New York Times (March 31, 2004)

Op/Ed by Robert M. Gates.

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. — Osama bin Laden and other terrorists are on the brink of achieving an unanticipated victory, one that could have long-term consequences for the United States.

Over the decades, millions of young people from other countries have come to America to study at our colleges and universities. Many have remained here to start companies, to keep us at the forefront of scientific and technological discovery, to teach in our schools and to enrich our culture. Many others have returned home to help build market economies and to lead political reform.

After 9/11, for perfectly understandable reasons, the federal government made it much tougher to get a visa to come to the United States. Sadly, the unpredictability and delays that characterize the new system — and, too often, the indifference or hostility of those doing the processing — have resulted over the last year or so in a growing number of the world's brightest young people deciding to remain at home or go to other countries for their college or graduate education. Thousands of legitimate international students are being denied entry into the United States or are giving up in frustration and anger.

At 90 percent of American colleges and universities, applications from international students for fall 2004 are down, according to a survey by the Council of Graduate Schools that was released earlier this month. According to a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, applications from China have fallen by 76 percent, while those from India have dropped by 58 percent. Applications to research universities from prospective international graduate students are down by at least 25 percent overall; here at Texas A&M, international student applications have fallen by 38 percent from last year.

Not surprisingly, universities in Australia, Britain, France and elsewhere are taking advantage of our barriers and are aggressively recruiting these students. According to the Chronicle, foreign student enrollment in Australia is up 16.5 percent over last year; Chinese enrollment there has risen by 20 percent.

Why should we be concerned? For starters, it is a sad reality that relatively small numbers of American students pursue graduate degrees in engineering and science. As a result, the research efforts at many American universities depend on international graduate students. They do much of the laboratory work that leads to new discoveries.

More troubling is the impact that declining foreign enrollments could have in the war on terrorism. To defeat terrorism, our global military, law enforcement and intelligence capacities must be complemented with positive initiatives and programs aimed at the young people in developing nations who will guide their countries in the future. No policy has proved more successful in making friends for the United States, during the cold war and since, than educating students from abroad at our colleges and universities.

I take a back seat to no one in concern about our security at home in an age of terrorism. I am now the president of Texas A&M, but I spent nearly 30 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, ultimately serving as director under President George H. W. Bush. I learned during that time that protecting our security requires more than defensive measures; we have to win the war of ideas, too. For this reason, we simply cannot tolerate a visa process that fails to differentiate quickly and accurately between legitimate scholars and students — and individuals who may pose genuine security risks.

Senior officials in the White House and in the Departments of State and Homeland Security understand the importance of solving the visa processing problem. But carrying out post-9/11 visa policies and procedures has been badly hamstrung by a lack of resources, unrealistic deadlines and shortcomings in scanning technologies and background checks. American universities have had a difficult time tracking foreign student applicants as they move through the screening process — and there are just too many people in visa offices who are indifferent to the importance of these students to America.

Universities are willing partners in strengthening homeland security. This is not the 1960's. We are working with the government to keep track of international students. But averting a serious defeat for the United States — and serious problems for all its research universities — will require urgent action by Congress and the administration. Beyond the risk to economic, scientific and political interests, we risk something more: alienating our allies of the future.

Robert M. Gates, the director of central intelligence from 1991 to 1993, is president of Texas A&M University.

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March 25, 2004

Al-Jazeera TV Airs New Audiotape of al-Qaida's Zawahiri

Voice of America

The Arab satellite TV network al-Jazeera has aired an audiotape purportedly recorded by Osama bin Laden's top deputy in the al-Qaida terror network, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The voice on the tape calls Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf a traitor and urges all Muslims in Pakistan to overthrow his government, which it accuses of working for Americans.

The speaker, whose voice is described as sounding like that of al-Zawahiri on previous tapes, called on Pakistani soldiers to disobey the president's orders.

The tape was broadcast as Pakistani troops are battling hundreds of suspected al-Qaida fighters and their local allies in a semi-autonomous tribal region near the Afghan border. It is Pakistan's biggest military operation ever against suspected al-Qaida targets on its soil.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani army's latest deadline for the surrender of al-Qaida fighters and their release of 14 hostages passed early, Thursday. Tribal elders who have been trying to negotiate the release of the hostages for three days have reportedly been given more time. The hostages include 12 soldiers and two local officials.

Rebel tribesmen protecting the besieged fighters had been threatened with serious consequences if they failed to surrender the militants and release the hostages.

Was Bush fixated on 'getting Saddam'?

Christian Science Monitor:

By Daniel Schorr

WASHINGTON - A Texas Democratic fundraiser, speaking not for attribution, told me about the lunch he recently had at the home of former President Clinton in the New York suburbs. Clinton recounted his last meeting with President Bush over coffee, just before the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2001.

The outgoing president counseled his successor that he would face five challenges in the international arena - the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, the Al Qaeda terrorist threat, a nuclear-armed North Korea, the India-Pakistan confrontation, and the Saddam Hussein dictatorship in Iraq.

Clinton was surprised at Bush's response. He said he disagreed with Clinton's order - that he considered Saddam Hussein to be the primary threat that he would have to deal with.

The story casts a light - as it probably was intended to do - on the current controversy over whether President Bush allegedly neglected the war on terrorism in his single-minded preoccupation with bringing down Saddam Hussein, the man who plotted the assassination of his father.

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said in his memoir that from the first meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) 10 days after the inauguration, the White House seemed obsessed with Saddam Hussein as "a bad person who needed to go."

The White House dismissed O'Neill as a disgruntled employee. But now we have the dramatic account of Richard Clarke, who served as antiterrorism coordinator for 10 years under four presidents. In his newly published memoir, Clarke says that ousting Hussein was "Topic A" from the first NSC meeting, just as O'Neill had said, and there was little discussion of why the Iraqi dictator was being targeted.

Clarke wrote that the day after Sept. 11, 2001, the president pulled him and a small group of aides into the Situation Room, closed the door and said, "Go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this." Clarke said he replied, "But Mr. President, Al Qaeda did this."

"I know, I know," Mr. Bush is quoted. "But see if Saddam is involved. Just look. I want to know any shred."

The Bush administration has been saturating the airwaves with denials of Clarke's charges. But they seem to fit with the public statements of the president and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, seeking to link Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda.

The great concern in the White House is that the Saddam fixation to the neglect of the terrorist threat may end up as a campaign issue. And it well may.

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March 17, 2004

Explosion Destroys Hotel in Central Baghdad

Associated Press:

Filed at 12:22 p.m. ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A large explosion destroyed a hotel in central Baghdad on Wednesday night, and rescuers pulled bodies from the rubble. Witnesses said it was a bomb blast.

Two U.S. soldiers tried to help pull bodies from the wreckage, but angry Iraqis pushed them back.

Flames shot skyward, and heavy smoke rose behind Baghdad's central square. Trees were on fire, and flames jumped to nearby buildings. Eight cars were on fire, and one vehicle was hurled by the blast into a store.

Ambulances raced to the scene.

The explosion occurred behind Firdaus Square, where a bronze statue of Saddam Hussein was felled April 9 with the help of U.S. Marines who had just entered the center of the Iraqi capital.

The area of the blast, Karrada, is a mix of residential and commercial buildings.

The blast shook the nearby Palestine Hotel, where many foreign contractors and journalists are based.

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March 16, 2004

Army says agents erred when they sought names of civilians at conference on Islam

Associated Press

Army counterintelligence agents improperly tried to gather information on civilian participants at a University of Texas conference on Islam, the Army acknowledged on Monday.

Two agents of the Army's Intelligence and Security Command from Fort Hood went to the law school on Feb. 9, seeking information on people who attended a conference titled "Islam and the Law: The Question of Sexism."

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San Millan responds to Madrid attacks

J298 student Veronica San Millan is from Spain. In this blog, she gives her analysis of the attacks and the political aftermath.


Right after the bombing, which costed 200 deaths as of today, ETA was sentenced as responsible for the attacks. Why? For the past 40 years this has been a habit.

But people were skeptical of whether or not ETA was involved. This terrorist attack was not ETA’s style and during the last year more than 200 people related to the organization had been captured. Therefore, it was really hard to believe that ETA had the capacity and infrastructure to perform an attack like 11M.

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March 14, 2004

ACLU's Romero Call Guantanamo Policies 'Fundamentally Lawless"


Please read this for background.

WASHINGTON -- At a National Press Club "Newsmaker" luncheon today, Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, charged that Bush Administration policies in a post-9/11 world jeopardize the freedom of all Americans. U.S. government detentions of enemy combatants at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, violate America's most basic notions of fundamental fairness, he said.

"Hundreds of people called enemy combatants by the U.S. government languish in legal limbo at Guantánamo Bay," Romero said. "With no access to the courts, or legal counsel, these policies are fundamentally lawless and trespass on our most deeply held values of fairness and basic due process."

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March 13, 2004

Tipton Three: more ex Guantanamo prisoners speak out

The Observer

Three British prisoners released last week from Guantanamo Bay have revealed the full extent of British government involvement in the American detention camp condemned by law lords and the Court of Appeal as a 'legal black hole'.

Shafiq Rasul, Ruhal Ahmed and Asif Iqbal, the so-called 'Tipton Three', speaking for the first time since their release at a secret location in southern England, have disclosed to The Observer the fullest picture yet of life inside the camp on Cuba where America continues to hold 650 detainees.

After more than 200 interrogation sessions each, with the CIA, FBI, Defence Intelligence Agency, MI5 and MI6, America has been forced to admit its claims that the three were terrorists who supported al-Qaeda had no foundation.

PLUS the full Observer interview 'How We Survived Jail Hell'

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All That's Left is Violence

Washington Post, by Fareed Zakaria

Does it matter whether the carnage in Madrid last week was the act of the Basque terrorist organization, ETA, or of al Qaeda? Of course there are important differences. ETA is a local organization, al Qaeda a global one. The former is secular, the latter religious. But they have something in common that is revealing about the nature of terrorism. Both groups had political agendas, but as their political causes have lost steam, they are increasingly defined almost exclusively by a macabre culture of violence.

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Muslims see new opposition to building mosques since 9-11

USA Today

Some Muslim groups seeking to build mosques to accommodate their growing numbers of followers are encountering vehement opposition in communities across the nation.

In some cases, the conflicts are similar to those that for decades have pitted residents against expansion plans by large churches. Neighbors in communities from New Jersey to Arizona have protested Muslim groups' proposals for mosques by raising classic "not-in-my-backyard" arguments that have focused on the sizes of planned buildings, parking, lighting and other factors that can affect property values.

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Spain Announces Five Arrests in Bombings

Associated Press:

MADRID, Spain (AP) -- Spain's interior minister Saturday announced the arrest of five suspects in the Madrid bombings, including three Moroccans.

The other two are Spaniards of "Hindu" origin, minister Angel Acebes said.

The five were arrested in connection with a cell phone inside an explosives-packed gym bag found on one of the bombed commuter trains.

The suspects "could be related to Moroccan extremist groups," the minister said. "But we should not rule out anything. Police are still investigating all avenues. This opens an important avenue."

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