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Sofia citizens floundered in knee-deep snow on the bus-stop at 'Pliska' hotel. Snowdrifts could be seen at almost all of the other bus-stops throughout Sofia, since the street-cleaning companies and the municipality hadn't yet agreed about whose the obligation to clean up is actually. The snowfall begin anew in the afternoon. PHOTO Nikolay Donchev
PRESIDENT TRAJKOVSKI'S NEW YEAR ADDRESS.
President of the Republic of Macedonia Boris Trajkovski sent a New Year's message Friday to the citizens in regard to the forthcoming New Year's and Christmas Holidays.
"We are at the end of a very difficult year, and we wish for it never to repeat again. Let it be marked in the history as a year when the Republic of Macedonia and all its citizens have gone through the most difficult period since the independence of the state. However, we should try and leave behind the anger and bitterness. They would do us any good. For too long, we have looked to the past.
We will always remember those that lost their lives defending their homeland. We should keep in our thoughts and prayers those that are still in the ranks of our security forces and are permanently striving to preserve the peace and control of our borders.
During the seven months of attacks, Macedonia faced serious challenges. However, you as citizens of Macedonia, regardless your religious or ethnic background, have shown your strength of wisdom and dignity in front of these challenges.
You have decisively rejected to accept the rules of game of the men of violence, whose objective, among others was to trigger a civil war. I avail of this opportunity to express my sincerest appreciation for such a position, which helped the institutions of the system in absorbing the crisis and saving our country from a bloody interethnic conflict.
At the same time, our commitment to find a political, not a military solution has produced the first results. I believe that in the beginning of the next year, with help from the international community, we will manage to finally put an end to the crisis. This means that we must restore the constitutional and legal control over the crisis regions in the country, and in the meantime to create necessary conditions for the displaced persons to return to their homes and fully clear out the cases of kidnapped and disappeared persons.
It is a high time for all of us together to turn to the future - Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Romas, Serbs, Bosniacs and all others, living in this common home of ours.
We have many obligations and responsibilities to carry out in the year to come and we all must invest our efforts in restoring normal life, while keeping as a priority - the defense of the country, the security and stability of the state, and provide peace and security and stability of the state, and provide peace and serenity for all citizens.
I call on you to join together and work on the common goal: honesty, integrity, respect, tolerance, hard work and understanding in our lives and in our dealing with each other, among the parties, in the government, our neighboring countries and the world.
We must do our best in restructuring the economy, in continuing the reforms in all areas of life and in promoting the Republic of Macedonia on international level as a serious candidate country for the EU and NATO membership.
This is why we must put aside all our differences and misunderstandings, forge daily political or personal benefits to the detriment of state and national interests. Let's join all our efforts for brighter future.
As President, I promise to serve, to the best of my abilities, in cooperation with the Government and all other state institutions, to build a better future for our children. And I ask you to join us in this endeavor. Only together we will manage to cope with the repercussions from the crisis by using the experience from the year that is ending.
We are all given a limited time on this earth and it is up to each of us to use it wisely.
I wish you blessed and marry holidays that some of you are celebrating now and others in the days to come. Let our homes be full of joy and happiness in the New Year's Eve and in the future," Trajkovski's message reads.
TRADITIONAL RECEPTION FOR HEADS OF RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES IN MACEDONIA.
Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski made a traditional reception for the heads of the religious communities in the country.
President of the assembly committee on relations with the religious communities Gjorgji Naumov addressed the attendants, and Georgievski delivered a speech.
The Prime Minister briefly spoke of the religious developments in 2001, and delivered a message to the believers from all religions for co-life, tolerance and understanding.
On behalf of the religious communities in Macedonia the Bishop of Catholic Church Joakim Herbut addressed the attendants. He wished for happier New Year to the Macedonia's citizens, a year when the misunderstandings will be overcome and peace would be established among the people of different religions.
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski also attended the reception.
MIA'S INTERVIEW WITH VLADO POPOVSKI.
INTERVIEW MIA: Vlado Popovski
Minister Popovski, in which phase of reorganization was the Macedonian Army when you got appointed Minister of Defence and which are the phases that are yet to be carried out?
The Army was organized in a corpus system, which is the same as it had before, but with certain changes that had to be implemented, due to the military activities in the country and the dynamics that needed to be pursued.
The Headquarters of the Army and the experts have already started the process of reorganization of the Army, which means that a new formation is already being created. Therewith, the Army will be transformed into a model of a brigade. This phase of reorganization is nearly finished.
When we talk about the project for transformation of the Army organizations into a model of a brigade, it means that we will avoid creating some more complicated or other formations. The model of a brigade, which is now being organized, will provide mobility of the Army. Two emergency brigades are anticipated within this structure. They would be located in Stip and Kicevo. These are actually combined armed forces, powerful to cope with the future security risks that might emerge in the Republic of Macedonia. They would have the power and capability to deal with some war activities, similar to those we had already encountered in 2001.
The Army will be of course consisted of some other components, such as the Air Force, the Artillery, some organized armored units etc. They would have as many other components as necessary. That means that the Army should be capable to answer the security risks first of all, as well as to reject all other risks that might threaten the Republic of Macedonia.
About the project for reorganization, in only ten days, the Macedonian President, as a supreme commander, will give his first report on the development. At January 21, 2002 the preparatory phase will be concluded, when in the process of Macedonia's integration to the NATO structures, we should give reports to the NATO mission, in order to have our development assessed, as realistic as possible. This reform is adjusted to our needs, as well as to the process of integration to the Alliance, comparatively to the characteristics, which NATO has implemented in its member-countries.
About the structure of the Army, as planed, Macedonia will have a regular formation, counting up to 16.000 soldiers and staff, and an extraordinary one (special units for war times), counting up to 60.000 soldiers and staff. We can see that it remains as it was before, only the model is changed, from corpus into a brigade. There will be two emergency brigades, while the other component, within the same model, would be engaged in "fight-backs".
How does the process of Army's professionalization develop?
Relatively well. In the framework of this idea to professionalize 50 per cent of the regular formation of the Macedonian Army, a job vacancy advertisement for professional soldiers is kept open. The number of professional soldiers that could be financed by the Macedonian budget 2002 should be determined, as soon as we receive enough applications. The professional soldiers will be settled, trained and redeployed. This process will probably last more than a year, as the expenses can not be covered with the budgetary means of the year 2002. In case the Republic of Macedonia is not powerful to finance the project, certain supplementary financing options would be involved.
It is obvious that for modernization of the Army, its mobility in all risk situations should be guaranteed, for we do have such threatening situations. We will soon notify the public on the risk assessment and of the suggestion of the Defence Ministry to reorganize the Army. We will know then how much the whole process will cost.
Do you think that the means approved by the budget are enough for realization of the activities of the Macedonian Army in a situation when the security is still an open issue? How do you assess the military and technical readiness of the Army?
I think that the state and the Macedonian citizens gave large amount of money for equipping the Army. The equipment was evidently improved in the field of mechanical - armored units, the artillery, the missile system and the air force.
The budget for the next period is determined and will have to provide the necessary munition for the weaponry we have. The crisis is not resolved yet and there are indications pointing out that the extremist positions of certain illegal armed groups could repeat the crisis in the spring. So we should be prepared.
The combat capability and the technical readiness of the Army are good. But if we consider the training as part of the military readiness then we can say that it could be enhanced. The weaponry was supplied during the crisis and the military operations, so the training was on relatively low level at that time.
One of the main tasks I would like to announce at the moment is to intensify the training of the soldiers for the weaponry we own. Parallel with the new reorganization of the Army, we should establish interoperability of the segments of the Army. Considering the fact that the Army cooperates and acts along with the police forces they should be trained together, as the defense forces should act as one organism. The effectiveness of the security forces as a whole was very low as the weaponry arrived during the crisis and the security forces were not trained. On the other hand, the armed forces followed an inert scheme of organization. But those characteristics were not crucial as the defense forces did their job efficiently and with lot of commitment. The efficiency must be enhanced in the following period, as when the efficiency is higher, you need less effort and fewer means for better effect. Every Army should be trained constantly in order to use the technical means efficiently. So most means of the budget should be spent on the training.
A decision was made for establishing joint unit. Plan was also developed as well as the training program for rapid and efficient antiterrorist actions and reactions. In the beginning there will be special training for the army and police units and in the final stage they will work together as joint forces, according to their constitutional and legal authorizations. So the soldiers and the police officers will not lose their status as members of the Army or the Police but in the last stage they should act as unique, complementary mechanism. The process should be completed by March 2002, and the training should begin right after the Christmas holidays.
What about the cooperation with the armies of the neighboring, Balkan countries and what experience does Macedonia have from the participation in the Partnership for Peace?
The relations with the neighboring countries are stable and friendly and the cooperation with their armies is also stable. It is not very intensive but we normally cooperate with some structures. The principle of transparency is applied i.e. we get to know how the armies of the other countries work. Since I was appointed as minister of defense I seized the opportunity to talk to my Bulgarian, Greek and Albanian counterparts at the SEE ministerial meeting in Antalya and we agreed to meet and to analyze the cooperation so far as well as to enhance it in the future. There is willingness to continue the cooperation.
Do the neighboring countries guard the joint border with Macedonia well enough?
Mainly yes. We have no problems with guarding the borders with Greece and Bulgaria, but we have certain remarks about the western and the northern border especially with Kosovo part of the borders. The Ministry of Defense made official objections, but I have impression that the border is kept much better by KFOR forces. The heavy snowfalls also protect the border on Sar, Korab and Desat mountains. But the situation has also changed, and I hope that KFOR will promote the protection of the borders. On the other hand, Macedonia will electronically and technically equip its border services with the support from USA and NATO, especially on the Albanian border and Kosovo part from Macedonian - Yugoslav border.
The problem with inefficient guarding of the Albanian border still remains although there were some improvements since the 90's when the border from the Albanian part was not kept and there were many incidents.
The next large project is to equip and guard the Macedonia's borders, what is a segment from the project of the international community for protecting the borders as one of the factors in the struggle against terrorism. New structure was established on the meeting in Antalya encompassing all SEE countries for resolving the problem of border guarding. For us the most important are the borders towards Albania and Kosovo part of Yugoslavia.
Tell us a little bit more about Macedonia - NATO relations?
I believe that they are quite good although there are different assessments of the effects of NATO's missions in the country. Macedonia is still an aspirant country for NATO membership and the Government and all other state segments make efforts to meet the criteria and standards set by NATO, such as the organization of the security, the financing model etc.
We are open for cooperation and we will discuss any issue. NATO forces are present in the country through "Amber Fox" mission and my position is that this mission is successfully composed in the process for resolving the war in Macedonia. I believe that the mission is necessary until the crisis is resolved and overcome. "Amber Fox" mission focuses the capabilities of the international community on calming the outbursts, the uncertainty and the negative energy in the unsafe areas, which bring aggression. Bearing in mind the fact that the mission's mandate expires in March, I estimate that the crisis will not be resolved by March but will intensify in that period, as the extremist forces will launch new aggression. So I think that the reconciliation process will last longer, and the same mandate of "Amber Fox" mission should be prolonged.
In order to intensify the keeping of the borders, we have OSCE and EU monitoring mission that would probably observe the entire terrain starting from the bordering areas. "Amber Fox" mission will probably get involved in certain activities within their existing mandate. I believe that this mandate is necessary and there are no elements for another mandate. If the circumstances change, we will rationally review the situation.
I am sure that crisis cannot erupt in a way we have experienced in the course of 2001. The process of reconciliation and the implementation of Ohrid Agreement, which became part of our Constitution, are ahead of Macedonia in the forthcoming period. If we realize the process of returning of the displaced persons, the redeployment of the police and restore the order in crisis regions, then the energy levels for repetition of the crisis will be low. But there will be forces that do not agree with such solution and which are for federalization of Republic of Macedonia or more extremely they want to liberate the so-called ethnic territories of the Albanians from the state governance, what means that politically they violently want to change the borders and the governance of Macedonia. That is a threat for Macedonia's sovereignty and integrity. Those political forces have declared their program in Macedonia but also abroad, among which is Haxhirexha's party. In that respect certain structures, conditionally gathered under ANA, try to restore one politically organized and financial infrastructure for gathering new means and stimulating young persons, who would be on extreme positions in order to set new radical projects next year such as the federalization or division of the country. Such capacities could be found on the Balkans and if they organize themselves and raise finances they could try to repeat the script. But is the Framework agreement is implemented I believe that those persons will be isolated by the international community and their own people - the ethnic Albanians in Macedonia, as most of them stood behind the Ohrid agreement and think that it should be implemented. So the implementation will narrow their ground for hostile activities, although it is obvious that such ground exists because the entire weaponry was not collected with NATO's mission.
The illegal weaponry, which out of state control could be found on Kosovo and in Macedonia and it can be used very easily. That is a sign indicating that we should be absolutely ready if someone tries to repeat the story in the spring. We should implement the Framework agreement, the reforms, to reorganize and train the army and to complete the joint training between the army and police forces.
The Royal Premier.
The prime minister is distinguished for his realism and political flexibility.
Not to succumb, is what Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha wished himself for the coming year before his departure for Madrid. To the born-to-be-king premier power proved to be Golgotha. There isn't a more thorny crown than that of ruling a poverty-stricken country. There isn't a heavier cross than that of being leader of a deprived of faith and embittered people. Simeon came to power with the people's expectation to be their Messiah. The man to lead his people to prosperity. This is why only his 'Trust me' proved enough for the Bulgarians to send the existing parties in the political non-existence and make the people follow him.After 150 days however, observers keep asking themselves whether he is not simply a Don Quixote. Time will show. 'I'm no dreaming Don Quixote. Just the opposite, I'm a pronounced pragmatic', said the premier on November 25 for BNT. Much earlier he had fixed himself a deadline of 800 days in which his words were to become deeds.Eight months after the return of Simeon the Second to Bulgaria even his most ardent critics don't question his personal morality any longer. No one rejects his political flexibility, either. He supported Peter Stoyanov for a second presidential mandate although his every move and word signalled something else: no, he isn't my candidate. Simeon didn't meet the desire of the MFR for a joint presidential candidature. However, numbered days after the end of the elections the premier visited the Bulgarian Turks in Kardzhali.During the first months of rule the premier outlined the new criteria in politics. 'It's high time that we don't divide people into colors and parties', said Simeon and the 'UDF supporters' and 'communists' division went down in history. Expelled from his country as early as a child, taught to rely only on himself, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is most of all a realist. 'I trust noone 100%', says the premier. And keeps repeating: 'Don't expect any miracles'.To fulfil his mission however, he must cope with two things. The first one is the parliamentary group of the NMS in which the opinions are often more than the number of the MPs in it. The second one is his own silence. The Bulgarian can wait. But he wants to be explained why.
Case Against Revival Process Reopened.
We are satisfied that the Military Prosecutor's Office reopened the investigation into the so-called "revival process", Deputy Lyutvi Mestan said yesterday at a commemorative meeting in Momchilgrad. He hopes the inquiry to end in sentencing the culprits. As early as next year a new anti-discrimination law is to be adopted, Mestan said further. We hope than soon it will be accepted as normal an ethnic Turk to be appointed as the head of a police department, the way there are already ministers of Turkish extraction, Deputy Remzi Osman said in his speech.
Snow Ploughs To Work Day and Night during the New Year's holidays.
The streets in Sofia along which the city transport vehicles run are being cleaned of snow on a round the clock regime. 100% of them have been cleaned, with sand spread on them. 75% of the rest of the streets are also passable, Iliya Velchev, chief of the Sofia Street Cleaning Inspectorate told 'Standart' yesterday.We haven't seen such snow and snowdrifts since the 60ies, dams will be full next spring, Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski said on BNR yesterday. Some of the bus and tram stations were under snow during the holidays. People are right to be angry but workers don't suffice, Velchev said. A headquarters is in charge of providing snow ploughs throughout the city. On the New Year's eve the headquarters and on duty teams will also work, Iliya Velchev added.
Ministry of Education to Check up Schools on Drugs.
The Ministry of Education is to initiate checkups en masse in the schools on whether spirits and drugs are sold there, Vladimir Dikov, MoE press officer said. The checkups are to start immediately after the end of the Christmass holidays on January 14. The most striking case is that of the Sofia-based technical school "Kirov". In it's yard several kiosks selling spirits were reported, Dikov said further. Drugpushers were also reported to frequent the school.
Slavi's Ballerinas Defiled in Swimming Suits.
Ballerinas of Slavi defiled like real models
The beauties from the 'Saten' ballet group, who dance in the 'Show of Slavi Trifonov', defiled clad in swimming suits of the 'Akula' ("Shark") fashion house. The review gathered a selected audience around the 'Spartak' pool in Sofia. The fascinating ladies presented models from several series, revealing their wonderful bodies in dresses from satin, silk and tulle. Galya, chief of the group, clad in filmy wedding dress over a swimming suit won the applauses of the audience. She didn't mention if she would soon hear the Mendelssohn march, but said that clad in clothes by 'Akula' she started for the island of Mauritius where she intended spend the New Year Eve.
We care for you because you are Francophones.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Jean-Loup Kuhn-Delforge
Your NATO dossier has never been as good as it is now, says French ambassador Jean-Loup Kuhn-Delforge.
- Your excellency, some time ago French foreign minister Huber Vedrine set forth the question of the simultaneous admission of all the 12 candidate members to the EU. As if that stand failed to prevail at the summit meeting in Laeken. Bulgaria and Romania were not included in the list of the 10 countries to join the union in 2004.
- In the first place I'll tell you that Mr Vedrine's words were not meant to question the timetable adopted in Nice and Goeteborg. Mr Vedrine has never said that a political decision should be taken in favor of Bulgaria and Romania in violation of the differentiation principles, either. What Mr Vedrine did was to open a debate. The debate boils down to the following: if there exist criteria which are not strictly objective and technical any longer, then these are political criteria. However, we are well aware that the 10 countries are not on one and the same level, that is, it means that political criteria have been introduced in order that the ten may be admitted. Things being as they are, Mr Vedrine sets forth the question: Shouldn't things be brought to the end and political criteria be introduced for Bulgaria and Romania too?
- What is the reason for that attitude of France to Bulgaria and Romania?
- In the first place, these are countries with which France maintains relations of sympathy because of the francophonia. These are southeast European countries. There exists a Balkans prospect. And the Balkans prospect is also a political criterion which should be taken into account if things come to the introduction of political criteria. Consequently, there can't be any talk of a failure of the French position in Laeken.
- What about the aid the EU will render to Bulgaria and Romania to help them overcome the lagging behind?
- These are delays which are connected, more or less, with mathematics. Bulgaria and Romania started their accession negotiations much later than the rest of the candidate countries. I, for one, think that too much accent is laid on deadlines.
- Do you think that Bulgaria stands the chance of being admitted to NATO at the Prague meeting next year?
- What counts the most is that the candidate-country be a 'supplier' of security, a supplier which solidarizes with its allies. I believe that in this respect, following the September 11 attacks Bulgaria clearly manifested it by declaring its being inseparable from article 5 and of the NATO treaty. With its conduct in the region and the fact that Bulgaria itself is a factor for a joint ethnic and religious existence, with its stand on Macedonia - with all that Bulgaria contributes to security in the region. To it we should also add the decision of your parliament for eliminating the SS-23 missiles and we could well say that Bulgaria's dossier has never been as good as it is now.
Human Mind Goes into Decline Because of Greediness.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Vera Moutafchieva
The world is chuting down a steep gutter, says Prof. Vera Moutafchieva.
- Mrs. Moutafchieva, was 2001 successful for you?
- I've always believed that successful are the years of hard work. In this sense, 2001 was successful for me: Thank God, I worked to the top of my bent. It is Him, to whom I offer my thanks, because it is not quite fair to make one's living in one's advanced age. My heart goes out to those people of my age, who are not able to invent any kind of a job - it is the same, as if one is just waiting for one's end. And in humiliating poverty, at that.
- What about our country, what will 2001 be memorable for?
- 2001 turned to be a time of surprises for this country. I do not view it as the "new age", for it is painfully known to me. It is the worry of the young people, who have to get familiar with it, my generation has been through the worse and is not startled at any prospects whatsoever. To us, they would be only a repetition, at the worse. We'll suffer another "endless upsurge". God grants health, Bulgarians use to say in such cases.
- Where is the world off to? It is always in a hurry, now it is forward, will it later be backward?
- I'm not embarrassed over not being able to answer you, for no one is able at all, unless one is both imbecile and arrogant. But it will be interesting to notice that the higher organized the world is, the more scientifically controlled and directed, the deeper unpredictability invades even its immediate future, making it uncontrollable. I feel as if we are chuting down a steep and slippery gutter that ends in the Chaos from before the First Day of the Creation. I'm afraid that this helter-skelter run results from the explosive growth of two components: the rapid increasing of the population, in the first place. And second, the detrimentally growing greediness of mankind.
Just think about how little our grand-grandfathers were satisfied with and how much our children need to feel themselves more or less satisfied with their living standards. No one is willing to understand these days that there is no way to eat more than ten meatballs. We are greedy to possess and poverty became a disgraceful vice. It is for sure that such a globally intensifying differentiation between necessities, aspirations and abilities would wind up in a global cataclysm - such things took place many times in human history.
- As a writer and historian where will you place the recent 12 years?
- Whatever accusations we make against the recent decade, it is for sure, that such a period was inevitable. It is proved by the fact that this period came at the will of the power-vested rather than those ruled. What impeded them to go on with their ruling? Evidently, an insuperable obstacle. For decades we passed from a transition to a new transition again and again, so we were forced to enter the new one.I assume that I have occupational deformations, but it is handy, I assure you: the historian is willing even to pay in order to live in a era of happenings, to him timelessness, when nothing is taking place, is lethal. I'll venture to convey a New Year message to my more advanced fellow countrymen: "Be happy with the times we had the chance to live in!" Anyway, we do not have another time at our disposal, so it is not reasonable to invariably pull long faces.
- New Year, new luck and New Age, isn't it?
- Well, there is some sense in it: though not a "new" one, it is an age after all. While another topical catchword - the one about the "new morality" - seems a bubble to me: there is not morality at all, not to mention a new one. There is abundant proof. So, let's end off with the recently popular answer: no comment.
The Arrival of Orwellian America.
December 28, 2001
by Rick Gee
In George Orwells classic novel 1984, Oceania is in a state of perpetual war with Eurasia. Even though the Big Brother state of Oceania insists that such has always been the case, the protagonist, Winston Smith, remembers that the states were in fact at one time aligned. The same is true of the United States and Osama bin Laden/Afghanistan. The CIA provided funding and arms to bin Laden during the decade-long proxy war with the Soviet Union. Now bin Laden, The Evil One, has become the Goldstein character, who is held up as the Enemy of the People. And our rulers readily admit that the War on Terrorism will last indefinitely.
To keep the masses in line and to suppress opposition, Oceania developed a language called Newspeak, which actually reduced the number and variety of words in use to render dissenting thought obsolete. Closely related to Newspeak is doublethink, in which someone is conditioned to either say the opposite of what he thinks or think the opposite of what is true.
The U.S. government has engaged in such obfuscations with the passage of the Uniting and Strengthening America Act by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. Yes, its the USA PATRIOT Act. Clearly the name of the bill was concocted to fit the acronym. The purpose of this acronym is two-fold. One, it makes it politically dangerous for politicians to vote against it (He voted against the Patriot Act? Who can we nominate to run opposite this traitor in the next election?). Two, it stifles opposition among the American people. Youre either with us, or youre with the terrorists.
Since we are all in favor of stopping acts of terrorism, we should all be in favor of this legislation, right? But this legislation which was not available for members of Congress to read before they had to vote on it will do nothing to prevent future terrorism and much to increase the power of government over its subjects. The legislation, among other things:
Allows law enforcement agencies to search homes and offices without notifying the owner for days or weeks after, not only in terrorism cases, but in all cases - the so-called "sneak and peek" authority
Allows government agents to collect undefined new information about Web browsing and e-mail.
Overrides existing state and federal privacy laws, allowing the FBI to compel disclosure of any kind of records upon the mere claim that they are connected with an intelligence investigation.
If you believe that the government could never use these unconstitutional powers against you because youre not a Middle Eastern raghead, you are unfamiliar with history. J. Edgar Hoovers FBI became a de facto domestic political police force. Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the FBI to spy on his political enemies, especially antiwar groups.
The PATRIOT Act does not restrict its provisions to terrorism investigations. In fact, they may be used against anyone, whether or not he is a suspect related to terrorism. On the other hand, the act broadens the definition of terrorism to an offense that is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion; or to retaliate against government conduct. While the PATRIOT Act ostensibly protects Americans against terrorism, in reality it protects the government against its own people.
With this new expanded, nebulous definition of terrorism now the law of the land, will I be considered a terrorist because I do not blindly follow everything George W. Bush and John Ashcroft decree; because I dare to write columns that question the actions of government? Do I intimidate government functionaries by exposing their duplicitous dealings? Will the editors of Strike-the-Root now be deemed terrorists for publishing my columns?
Earlier this month, John Ashcroft testified before Congress regarding President Bushs Executive Order that allows the president to try terrorists before military tribunals rather than in open court. Ashcrofts appearance was largely a dog-and-pony show, a political exercise designed to allow some Democrats on Capitol Hill to criticize the administration without disparaging President Bush directly, something they clearly cannot do in light of Dubyas 90% approval rating.
During the appearance, Ashcroft, who has recently engaged in an authoritarian power grab that would make Torquemada blush, uttered the following: To those who pit Americans against immigrants, citizens against non-citizens, to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: your tactics only aid terrorists for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. Our efforts have been crafted carefully to avoid infringing on constitutional rights, while saving American lives.
By now, the theme should be clear: you are either with us, or you are with the terrorists. Ashcroft attempts to manipulate peace-loving people into doublethink with some crafty doublespeak. It is Ashcroft and his minions who attempt to scare us with their alerts of impending terrorism, always based on credible information, of course. And unfortunately, the loss of liberty is all too real.
As for his claim that constitutional rights will not be infringed upon and that American lives will be saved, this goes well beyond mere obfuscation; it is an outright lie. We already know that the government failed to save thousands of American lives on September 11, and the Constitution has taken a severe thrashing ever since.
Ashcroft concluded, Charges of kangaroo courts and shredding the Constitution give new meaning to the term fog of war.
No, Mr. Ashcroftit is not those who oppose your encroaching police state and global hegemony that perpetrate a fog of war. It is you and your cohorts in government who wage the war both the bombing campaigns abroad and the war on liberty at home who are responsible for the fog of war. And it is up to the lovers of freedom everywhere to lift the veil of euphemism in which we are assured, as were the people of Oceania, that War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.
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A version of this column originally appeared in the December 2001 issue of The Valley News.