another example of American freedom
- Eric Mueller appreciates Mike Ross's articles and has this
commentary to add as well as some articles of his own.
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I heard something about this "don't lock your baggage"
crap. Having lived overseas, I am well aware that
people can put anything in a bag that you fail to lock
-- drugs, explosives, whatever -- then when you pick
up your bag and attempt to go through customs (or
possibly pass cops on the way out of the airport in a
domestic flight) you can be stopped and asked to open
your bag. When they find the contraband items you are
This might be done by people trying to get illegal
drugs or other items delivered somewhere, or
naturally, it might be done to frame you.
Of course, if one assumes that the agents who bust
open your bag are the ones who might want to plant
contraband on you, then this new situation doesn't
change much of anything.
But if things might be planted in your luggage by
smugglers or by other government agencies than those
supervising the luggage handling per se, then this new
arrangement greatly facilitates their activity.
I don't do that much flying, and when I do I have
always tried to keep checked luggage to a minimum just
to avoid having to wait for it. On the other hand,
since pocket knives, scissors, and other such items
are now banned from carry-on luggage, checking bags
might be more necessary on some trips.
I flew to Cincinnati with only carry-on luggage and
left my edged "weapons" behind. I was thoroughly
searched, however. To my surprise, even papers in my
pockets set off their metal detectors for some reason.
Anyhow, I do not plan to leave my luggage unlocked, if
and when I fly again, because I'd rather absorb the
cost of a new suitcase than be jailed for being a drug
courrier or the like.
Interesting on the car search story as well. I'm not
too surprised that there are blanket laws requiring us
to do whatever they say, basically, and then punishing
us for "failure to obey an officer's commands." An
interesting precedent, though.
Below are some interesting stories that people have
brought to my attention in the last day or so.
From a south Korean newspaper:
US Hawk Warns Not to Rule Out Military Option
by Ju Yong-jung (midway@...)
WASHINGTON - Richard Perle, the chairman of the
Pentagon Defense Policy Board (DPB) advisory panel
said in a December 17 (local time) interview with the
Chosun Ilbo, that the option of using military tactics
should not be eliminated in dealing with North Korea.
Perle said, "The Bush administration will consider all
the alternatives, because the dangers involved are so
He also said those who thought "resolution through
diplomatic means" meant something other than
resolution were mistaken, and that "the danger to be
brought upon us by North Korea's nuclear development
is so great that it will result in a quarantine of
On the subject of the interception of North Korean
Scud missiles headed toward Yemen, he said, "The
recurrence of such an incident might have the same
meaning to lawyers but will actually have different
and important aspects."
The DPB chairman said that dealing with North Korea
had different elements, in that it could inflict
considerable harm on South Korea, and that there was
no country in the world that supported the rogue
nation. Perle said he could not understand why the
Korean government did not fully adopt counter-battery
artillery techniques, which counter-attack by tracing
the origin of fire.
DPB chairman Perle is considered one of the "hawks" in
US President George W. Bush�s foreign policy advisory
council. The board includes Henry Kissinger, former
Secretary of State, Dan Quayle, former vice US
president, James Schlesinger, former Secretary of
Defense, and Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the
House of Representatives.
From the Daily Telegraph (U.K.)
US covers up killings of its troops in Kuwait
By Jack Fairweather in Kuwait City
Attacks on American forces in Kuwait are being covered
up and played down because of concerns that further
disclosures will destabilise military preparations for
war against Iraq.
Incidents have either gone unreported or have been
passed off as harmless recreational shooting by
hunters, a senior Kuwaiti government official told The
"The Americans have told us to downplay these
incidents for fear of creating the sort of climate in
which further attacks can happen," the official said.
One United States marine has been killed and five
seriously injured in terrorist attacks over the past
two months. Although no further injuries have been
reported, there have been a number of "close shaves"
as America's military presence continues to provoke
hostility among some Kuwaitis.
The country's leadership and most of its population
remain resolutely pro-American and grateful for the US
role in liberating them from Iraqi occupation in 1991.
Islamic militancy has taken root, however, and there
is growing anti-American sentiment and support for
groups such as al-Qa'eda among some young men.
The American request to play down the terrorist threat
comes at a sensitive time in its preparations for war.
US troop numbers have recently risen from 10,000 to
15,000 and several new camps have been built in
readiness for the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein.
A US military official said: "These attacks and the
threat of further attacks are making a difficult
environment to operate in. But we are working with the
Kuwaitis to keep everything under control."
As part of a widespread government clampdown on
extremists, there have been more than 70 arrests in
recent weeks, in addition to several "sedition" trials
in which Kuwaitis have been accused of advocating
attacks against American interests.
The American embassy recently advised its citizens not
to visit shopping precincts for fear of creating a
"target" for extremists.
"The majority of Kuwaitis fully back what the
Americans are doing. All this trouble is being caused
by a very small, extremist fringe," said a Western
Most Kuwaitis have been shocked by the violence in the
country. However, according to an official at
Kuwait's ministry of the interior, further incidents
were "just waiting to happen." He added: "The real
problem is that we have a lot of wealthy, disaffected
young men who are looking for some excitement and are
Kuwait already has a record of providing al-Qa'eda
with high-ranking members. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a
Kuwaiti national who used to teach children religious
affairs, went on to become its spokesman in
Last month Kuwaiti authorities also announced the
arrest of Mohsen al-Fadhli, 22, a "senior" al-Qa'eda
commander, who confessed to trying to raise funds for
a terrorist atrocity in Yemen.
U.S. Soldiers Watched Massacre of Taliban-Filmmaker
Wed December 18, 2002 06:09 PM ET
By Erik Kirschbaum
BERLIN (Reuters) - Scottish filmmaker Jamie Doran said
on Wednesday he hoped his documentary about an alleged
massacre of Taliban prisoners of war last year would
lead U.S. authorities to investigate any involvement
of American soldiers.
In his film "Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death,"
which was broadcast on Germany's ARD television
network, Doran quotes witnesses who saw U.S. special
forces stand by and watch as Northern Alliance allies
murdered Taliban POWs.
A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Berlin rejected
claims made in the film.
"The claims are completely false that American
soldiers were involved in the torture, execution and
disappearance of Taliban prisoners," the spokesman
said. "In no way did U.S. troops participate or
witness any human rights violations."
Doran, an award-winning documentary filmmaker who
covered the Afghan war for Japanese television, said
in an interview with Reuters in Berlin up to 3,000
Taliban POWs were killed late last year after
surrendering at Kunduz in northern Afghanistan.
"This film is about the disappearance and murder of up
to 3,000 Taliban POWs and the involvement of the U.S.
special forces in that disappearance," Doran said
after members of the German parliament
invited him to discuss the alleged massacre.
"U.S. SOLDIERS STOOD BY"
Doran, 46, said witnesses from different ethnic groups
in Afghanistan told him during his investigation into
the suspected war crimes they saw Taliban POWs herded
into unventilated shipping containers, where
many died of suffocation, thirst, or starvation.
In the film broadcast on Wednesday, eyewitnesses are
quoted saying some of the Taliban held in the
containers for up to four days had taken to
licking sweat off each other and even biting into the
corpses lying next to them out of desperation.
One witness said about 600 Taliban POWs who survived
the shipment of the containers to the Shiberghan
prison 75 miles away were taken to a spot in the
desert at Dasht-e-Leili and executed -- in the
presence of about 30 to 40 U.S. special forces
"All the injured and sick were transferred to my
truck," said one eyewitness identified as a truck
driver but whose face was concealed in the film. "Some
were injured, some were unconscious. They were shot
here and here and here," he added, pointing to spots
in the desert.
The truck driver, who said he made four trips with
about 150 Taliban in a container on the back of his
truck, was asked if American soldiers were present at
the executions in the desert.
"Yes, they were here," he said, standing in the center
of a 1,000 square meter (10,760 square foot) mass
grave site where bones, army uniform fragments and
bullet casings were filmed. "Lots of them, maybe
30 to 40. The first two trips they were here. I didn't
see them on my last two trips."
Doran's 55-minute film also includes allegations from
witnesses who say they saw U.S. soldiers taking part
in the torture of Taliban POWs at the Shiberghan
Doran said he spent six weeks trying unsuccessfully to
obtain comment from the Pentagon in Washington for his
"I would like to see the American authorities agree to
a proper investigation," he said. "They have nothing
to fear from the truth. I have the feeling they hope
the story will go away.
"We establish beyond a reasonable doubt that U.S.
soldiers stood by and did nothing to prevent it (the
massacre)," he added. "I have absolutely no evidence
that American troops were involved in the shooting
took place in the desert."
Afghan General Abdul Rashid Dostum has rejected
reports his troops killed up to 1,000 Taliban fighters
by taking them to Shiberghan prison in the airless
containers. He said up to 200 died, but they were
already badly injured from fighting.
Dostum was a key U.S. ally in late 2001 when he helped
oust the Taliban from northern Afghanistan with the
help of U.S. air attacks. U.S. special forces are
still in the north working with leaders to hunt
Taliban and al Qaeda members.
Doran said his documentary was screened on commercial
and public networks in Britain, Australia and Italy.
Rights have been sold or are about to sold to networks
in 25 territories.