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November 25, 2001

Egyptian police arrest Al-Ahram weekly webmaster for posting a poem online

by Amira Howeidy

Al-Ahram Weekly's webmaster, Shohdy Naguib was arrested in the early hours of Thursday November 22 from his home in Sayeda Zeinab. Security forces raided his house at dawn, confiscated his computer and took him to Al-Sayeda Zeinab police station. Shohdy called me from his cellular at 5:30 PM to notify me of what happened and according to him, he's accused of posting a poem, online, by his late father Naguib Surur, the renowned poet, playwright, actor and controversial figure. Full Article

The Grand Tyranny

by Al Martin

The new Bush dictatorship is in full swing. Bush just signed a bill wherein the United States no longer has to provide a civilian trial for anyone who should stand accused of committing a terrorist act against the United States. Instead the government will now try said individuals in a "special closed military court." In this trial, the defendants will not even be allowed to present any exculpatory evidence that the adjudicating military body should deem "contrary to the security of the State or the domestic tranquility of the people." Full Article

Abandoning the Constitution to Military Tribunals

by Nat Hentoff

During his terms as governor of Texas, George W. Bush made it clear that he was dangerously ignorant of the Constitution—not only denying due process to the record number of people he executed but also refusing effective counsel to indigent inmates of Texas prisons.

But as president, Bush, terrorized by the terrorists, is abandoning more and more of the fundamental rights and liberties that he—and his unquestioning subordinates—assured us they were fighting to preserve. Full Article

Military Justice Is to Justice as Military Music Is to Music

by Alan M. Dershowitz

A long-term resident of the United States who President Bush believes may have aided a terrorist can now be tried in secret by a military commission and be sentenced to death on the basis of hearsay and rumor with no appeal to any civilian court, even the Supreme Court. This is the upshot of the "military order" issued by Bush on November 13, 2001. And that is not all. Noncitizens suspected of membership in Al Qaeda or of aiming "to cause injury to or adverse effects on the United States" can be rounded up and "detained at an appropriate location" for an indefinite time without access to the courts.

This is the kind of "military justice" now in effect for our alleged enemies both foreign and domestic. No wonder so many experts on wartime tribunals believe that "military justice is to justice as military music is to music." The role of the military is to win wars, to protect citizens, and to follow the orders of the commander in chief. Under our constitutional system of civilian control over the military, it is not the role of military subordinates to question and challenge determinations made by the president, and in every case coming before a military commission pursuant to this new order, the president will have already "determined" that there is reason to believe that the suspect is a terrorist. Command influence over these military tribunals will be inevitable. Full Article

The War for Oil Subtext in Afghanistan

by Fran Shor

A recent article in the "Washington Post" provided a brief but revealing portrait of the role of US Special Forces in Afghanistan. The story was not about searching out Bin Laden and his followers in the caves of Afghanistan. Instead, the "Post" reported on a US Special Forces operation aimed at interdicting and destroying Iranian oil shipments to Afghan cities. According to the report, the trucks carrying the oil were destroyed by the camouflaged and goggled-eyed soldiers. Shouting "terrorists" at the frightened Iranian truck-drivers, the Special Forces handcuffed the drivers and led them away from where the trucks were then blown to bits. Although not harmed physically, the Iranians were completely baffled by why they were targets of such an attack, especially given the alleged civilian customers. Full Article

As the Afghan war reaches a climax, questions about the slaughter of prisoners cannot be brushed aside

by Jonathan Freedland UK Guardian

The caravan of war wants to move on, but Afghanistan is not quite ready to let go. The planners and politicians in Washington are itching to look beyond Kabul, towards Baghdad or elsewhere, but Afghanistan has not finished with them just yet. The country is still losing and shedding blood, still making winners and losers of the foreign powers who want to influence it and still raising some dark and troubling questions - including some that reach uncomfortably close to home.

Start with the obvious: the fighting is not over. For all the temptation to "pocket" the Afghan triumph and move on to Phase Two against Iraq, this victory is not complete. The Taliban remain in control of their heartland in Kandahar. A thousand US marines have just arrived nearby, charged with finishing the Taliban off - and meeting America's prime objective, the elimination of Osama bin Laden. Full Article

The anti-terrorism bill undermines both the human rights convention and the rule of law

by Martin Thomas UK Guardian

When, less than two years ago, Jack Straw introduced the bill which became the Terrorism Act 2000, he proclaimed: "We will have handed the terrorists the victory that they seek if, in combating their threats and violence, we descend to their level and undermine the essential freedoms and rule of law that are the bedrock of our democracy."

He is now one of the signatories to the emergency anti-terrorism bill which does precisely that. The bill goes before the Commons again today. In its first serious test, the human rights convention is sidelined.Full Article