Hello, Of course as usual you can add and remove addresses for ZNet Updates via the ZNet top page which is at www.zmag.org/weluser.htm And of course since last message there has been extensive updating of the site with new articles, etc. But the main thing I want to communicate this message is that we have placed on line an entirely revamped blog system for our writers a goodly number of whom are already participating, including chomsky, albert, majavu, podur, and others.
The new system is much easier to use and to search than the old one and it has a much nicer display. It also can easily accomodate more bloggers, and new ZNet writers will be added periodically. But most of all, from the users perspective, it now accommodates commenting by users, free. So come to the site for the usual content, and also take a look at the new blogging system (and if you don't know what blogging is, come and look, and then you will!). The main link is http://blog.zmag.org/ Blog posts are of diverse types. Sometimes they point to interesting material online or review it. Sometimes they report from on the scene events, eyewitness. They may comment, often fairly briefly, on ideas. Sometimes they convey personal feelings and reactions, or they may debate. Chomsky's posts tend to come from a subset of his answers to queries in the Sustainer forum system. Albert tends to do a little of everything including posting new material in advance, seeking comments, and is currently placing draft chapters from a new book into the system. And so on. By way of evidence that the content on the system has considerable merit and interest, not to mention volume, here are a few recent blog posts...there are many every day. ---- In Caracas By Justin Podur It has been an interesting night and day. I have spent a substantial portion of the past 24 hours listening to Chavez speak. The man speaks a lot. But let me explain. Fear... My interest in Venezuela started with my interest and work on Colombia. It seemed to me like the two countries, linked historically in so many ways, were living completely different histories today. I remember the coup in April 2002 in Venezuela and a moment when I thought Venezuela was going to go that same route-of paramilitarism, of neoliberalism based on massacre and assassination. But over the past two years Venezuelans have beaten repeated attempts at plunging them into that kind of future. But yesterday I learned that I had overlooked something else-that that history of murderous counterinsurgency is very much a part of Venezuela´s own history. Last night, at the Complejo Cultural Teatro Teresa Carreno (which is a theatre built for the rich for their own use), there was a really moving event. An auditorium of well over a thousand people, mostly young people, students-real people, not elites-came to a launch of the fourth edition of a book by a journalist who is now the Vice President of Venezuela, Jose Vicente Rangel. The book, ´Expediente Negra´, is an investigation of human rights violations committed during the years of "democracy" here in Venezuela. There was a guerrilla insurgency here, in the 1960s and 1970s, and it, like so much else, was repressed savagely-the whole gambit of disappearances, massacres, assassinations. One President held publicly to the dictum of "shoot first, find out later". In addition to the strangeness of an elite theatre filled with people, the event itself was quite dignified, I thought. It would have been easy to do wrong: to turn an event that was a kind of commemoration into a way of scoring political points. But-and this is not to deny that political points were scored-the dead were honoured. Several family members of the disappeared spoke, and told their stories. There were cultural events, musical groups in between the speeches. And yes, there was Chavez, on the screen and in person. The theme of the evening was "recovering memory" ("recuperar" in spanish has a deeper meaning than recovery in english). The disappeared were shown on screen. Their families held up their pictures. Their names were named (Alberto Lovera, Alejandro Tejero, Andres y Jose Ramon Pasquier, Jose Carmelo Mendoza, Luis Alberto Hernandez... and on and on). A famous musician of the era, Ali Primera, has a song, based on something a famous priest said during a service for one of the dead decades ago-"Those who die for life, cannot be called dead" (again, something is lost in the translation but you get the idea). The photos were shown in a montage, to the music of Ali Primera. What was the political point of all this? Well, at the beginning of this note I said that my initial interest in Venezuela was not that of someone looking for the authentic revolution or the next revolutionary fashion-it was, instead, a kind of fear of a situation that was close to the brink, with paramilitaries sharpening their knives and waiting for their chance to restore neoliberalism. I thought of Colombia-but Venezuelans have their own, living memories of all this. And it only made sense for Chavez's people to want to remind Venezuelans of what came before. Chavez does not do disappearances, torture, and massacres, though they accuse him of being a dictator. Venezuelans know this. And many of the people in the opposition are people who did participate in all this. So the cry, "no volveran!" (they will not return!) Chavez talks... The evening ended with a lot of Chavez. First, Luis Britto, one of the old generation of leftists who is part of the government, showed some interesting videos. To those who accuse us of censorship, he said, let me remind you of this freedom of press. He then showed two videos of the current vice president, Jose Vicente Rangel, who was in the 1990s a TV personality, trying to interview Chavez, who was in jail after trying to overthrow the regime in a coup in 1992. Both times, the interviews were censored, in a very crude way-a big red "CENSURADO" sign was pasted on Chavez´s face and the attempt ended. But then, Britto showed a video of a very long interview Rangel did with Chavez two days before Chavez won the elections of 1998. That was an interesting interview-good questions, good answers. Rangel asked about power-they say you are a man who wants power, Chavez... why? Power for what? Chavez said, power isn't like a glass of water you pick up-it is something you build... I want to build a new kind of power, democratic power, popular power. After the long interview, Chavez got up to speak himself. "I will be brief", he began, and he was-he only talked for an hour. He told a story of when he was in the army, and how he witnessed the torture of two campesinos where he was posted as a young sub-lieutenant in the 1970s. He tried, and failed, to stop it, but decided then that he had to do something. There were more stories, too, all trying to return to the point that all those who died fighting for change did not die in vain, that today´s process is built on their sacrifices. And talks some more... Then, this morning, I did what any good journalist should do once in a lifetime-I went to a mainstream press conference at the Presidential palace! Now that was a genuine media circus. Several hundred people, from mainstream media all over Latin America, Europe, and some of our friends from the United States as well. Indeed, Venezuela´s good friend Juan Forero (read his NYT reports on Colombia and Venezuela if you have a strong stomach) was sitting just a couple of seats from me. I got to watch him school another American journalist about all the money that Chavez is spending on frivolous things like education, health care, and Argentine beef. I got to watch him elbow that same American journalist and chuckle when Chavez mentioned how infallible the new voting system and voting machines were (that gave me a bit of the chills, actually, especially after getting a chance to read Greg Palast´s latest... do they know something we don´t? All sides here seem to like the machines. Is that not a sure sign something is wrong?) The American journalists (you can probably read more about this on Narconews-there was a solid Narconews team there today) projected this air of world-weariness, cynicism, and wisdom to the ways of overblown politicians. That attitude was striking, considering how little wisdom or doubt they exhibit when dealing with their own government. But not, perhaps, surprising. At any rate, Chavez hit his usual notes in the press conference: Latin American integration, opposition to neoliberalism, the likely overwhelming victory in the referendum, the readiness and preparation for any 'irregularities', the long history of US destabilization (mentioning Chile many times) in the region. My two favourite quotes from the press conference were the following. First, when asked about what he hopes for from the US, he said-"we could hope for a lot. What couldn´t we accomplish with the US on our side? What couldn´t we accomplish in fighting poverty, fighting for education, for health care, for literacy in the neighbourhoods? What couldn't we accomplish for all of the Americas, or for the whole world? I would be the first one to ally with the United States for something like that. But we cannot hope for anything like that. I read this morning that the US is about to take Najaf. Instead of withdrawing from Iraq, as Spain did, in a very dignified way, as other Latin American countries did, they are making this terrible mistake, with its terrible consequences, even worse." He reminded the audience that Venezuela always opposed and continues to oppose the war in Iraq. And he reminded those present that the reason the price of oil is climbing is because of that war, in part. My other favourite quote was about the CIA itself. When asked about the CIA, he said: "You know, it is like James Bond. Now, I love James Bond. I think the Sean Connery James Bond movies are irreplaceable. But James Bond is not as cool now as he was." (this is fairly loose translation, forgive me) "Look at Dracula! Is the new Dracula as scary as Bela Lugosi´s Dracula? Superman? Even Batman, he's not scary any more, and neither is Robin! The same is true of the CIA. We, a third world, underdeveloped country, we have taped the CIA giving classes here in Venezuela-that is, we have infiltrated them. I've called the US Embassy to ask them to stop trying to infiltrate our military-I know the military, when something is going on, they tell me..." When asked if the US would try to destabilize Venezuela, he said they probably would. "But they will fail, again and again." Let´s make a deal? On the streets tonight, there are demonstrations. One of the opposition, the 'Si' camp, which by the private TV networks looks like it has hundreds of thousands (check out venezuelanalysis.com for last Sunday's 'No' march photos). And another, a street party at the palace, of the 'No'. You see, there is no campaigning allowed on Friday and Saturday-so this is the last night to publicly campaign (we will see how this rule is bent or broken tomorrow...) I am in the wrong place, writing when I should be on the street. But, I should mention the one thing that the mainstream media are likely to pick up about Chavez's speech today. There was a tone of wanting to play ball: Chavez mentioned the pipeline deal with Uribe. He quoted from many mainstream Wall Street journalists and analysts who predicted chaos, and who predicted that a Chavez victory would bring stability to the markets which the markets, especially the oil markets, need right now, whereas the opposition has no plan and no idea how to govern the country. In the midst of some very solid talk about Latin American integration, the irreversible changes to the constitution and in terms of land reform, housing, education, health, that have been mobilizing and democratizing forces, there was also this sense, that the government could work with the multinationals, work on the megaprojects, and cooperate in some areas. I imagine the mainstream media will seize on this. The next days of non-campaigning promise to be interesting. Maybe a chance to get out of the media zone and talk to some people... ---- Up and Down Oil CP Pandya A prime example of the Chavez government's economic mismanagement (according to ratings agency Standard & Poors) is Petroleos de Venezuela's ability to meet its debt obligations to foreign investors in a consistent and timely manner. For shame! PdVSA, as the state-oil company is called, recently bought back $2.5 billion of debt from foreign owners, leaving less than $1 billion in foreign hands. It was a move that prompted S&P - an important credit rating agency which effectively determines the economic soundness of a company - to lower its view of PdVSA. Usually, when a company displays monetary strength, S&P is quick to upgrade its rating, thus opening the financial floodgates for more investment to come pouring in. In Venezuela's case, such monetary strength poses a "threat" to global corporate influence. In addition to foreign owners having less hold of PdVSA, the S&P downgrade was possibly the result of Venezuela's cooperation with Cuba and the company's ideological communion with Chavez. One need only read the S&P's rather cryptic press release for the reasons given: S&P cited "decreased transparency with respect to PDVSA's physical and financial operations....and the general trend toward greater political interference in the operations of PDVSA by the government. In particular, the enhanced ability of PDVSA to sell its oil exports to buyers who are not designated customers..." as reasons for the downgrade. Why should this technical nonsense matter to those of us intently watching the political and social scene in Venezuela? Aside from the up-is-down phenomena of news coverage about Venezuela - this could be the first in a series of bullying moves to rein PdVSA in. Beyond the referendum, which even the corporate sector thinks will be won by Chavez, pressure on PdVSA (and therefore the government) will quickly mount. As the price of oil continues to skyrocket, the U.S. will tighten its fist and stomp its feet at global oil exporters (of which Venezuela is the fifth-largest) to act on the U.S.'s behalf. The threat of capital flight and further company and country downgrades would be a fairly easy trump card to play in exchange for lower royalty rates for oil sector investment and more spending on production and exploration - and who knows what else. One can never underestimate the corporate world's forward-looking worldview. ---- Refuting Horowitz and Collier Noam Chomsky To refute the criticisms[...] is trivial, and worth doing for only one reason. It teaches us something important: by even bothering to refute the criticisms, we are granting the critics a great gift, exactly what they want, and are falling into a trap that they would understand, and avoid. The best way to evaluate the critique is to look at the entire section to which it refers, the opening of chapter 5 of Fateful Triangle, entitled "Peace for Galilee," the name of Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Note that the name is a complete fraud, a crucially important matter that the critics desperately want us to ignore, and succeed when we focus attention on their critique. Galilee was at peace before the invasion, though Lebanon was not, because of constant Israeli attacks, brutal and murderous, in a vain attempt to incite some action that would be a pretext for the planned invasion, as reviewed there and elsewhere. These are the crucial matters... The chapter opens by noting that "Since 1949, Israel has sought to remove the displaced Palestinian refugees from the border areas and to destroy their emerging political and military structures." That is entirely accurate, beginning with the displacement of Bedouins from the demilitarized zones and other actions for which it was regularly and harshly condemned by international bodies. Since that is not contested, let's proceed. The chapter then quotes Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur's 1978 explanation that from 1948 Israel had been "fighting against a population that lives in villages and cities," to which he adds examples of major crimes against civilians. The context is Israel's 1978 invasion of Lebanon, "in retaliation for a PLO terrorist attack on Israel" (my words-not Gur's). Next comes the characterization of General Gur's remarks by Israel's most distinguished, and quite hawkish military correspondent Ze'ev Schiff, keeping to Lebanon (though the atrocities Gur cites go far beyond): "In South Lebanon we struck the civilian population consciously, because they deserved it...the importance of Gur's remarks is the admission that the Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously...the Army, he said, has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets...[but] purposely attacked civilian targets even when Israeli settlements had not been struck." That is, Israel struck civilian targets when there was no credible pretext of retaliation, as Schiff stresses explicitly-and quite correctly, as the record shows. Note that Schiff's comments go beyond Gur's statement, interpreting Gur as saying that Israel "purposely attacked civilian targets" even when there was no credible pretext of retaliation. I presume the critics [...] did not criticize Schiff for extending Gur's comments this way, nor has anyone else to my knowledge. The reason is that Schiff's extension of Gur's comments is quite appropriate, given what Schiff, his readers-and if we are interested, we too-know about the record to which Gur was referring. Returning to my text, next comes Abba Eban's response to Menahem Begin's review of attacks against civilians under Eban's Labor government, presenting a picture (in Eban's words) "of an Israel wantonly inflicting every possible measure of death and anguish on civilian populations in a mood reminiscent of regimes which neither Mr. Begin nor I would dare to mention by name." Eban is of course referring to the Nazis, to such famous crimes as Lidice and Oradour. Eban does not contest Begin's account, but explains the reasons: "there was a rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled, that affected populations would exert pressure for the cessation of hostilities." Noted in a footnote is Ben-Gurion's earlier advice, in 1948, of the necessity for "cruel and strong reactions" in retaliation for any Arab attack: "If we know the family [we must] strike mercilessly, women and child included," with "no need to distinguish between guilty and innocent": that is, we must commit major crimes against humanity in retaliation (as I explicitly quoted). Ze'ev Schiff does indeed interpret Gur's comments, accurately, as describing the policy of attacking civilian targets "even when Israeli settlements had not been struck." Eban recognizes the horrific actions, and provides a rationale. I attributed nothing further to Eban, contrary to the critique..., though in fact Schiff did. I cannot see even the slightest basis for criticism of my chapter. [The question] "did Eban explicitly say that Israel's bombing under Labor in the 70's were not retaliation (whether to actual PLO attacks or fabricated attacks or whatever) but Israeli initiated attempts at terror?" No, he did not, nor did I state that he did. It was Ze'ev Schiff who stated this, not me. And correctly. He was, again, interpreting General Gur's comments on the entire period of Labor government, 1948-1977, the same period to which Begin and Eban were referring. All of this is explicit in my rendition of these shocking facts, and Eban's disgraceful justification for attacks on civilians so that they "would exert pressure for the cessation of hostilities"-that is, outright war crimes. I added nothing, though Schiff in fact did. Note that Eban's rationale is the same as those given by Palestinian suicide bombers, who also do not say that their acts are "not retaliation," but rather describe them as retaliation for over 30 years of Israeli crimes in the occupied territories. Osama bin Laden offers the same rationale. Or to take the case to which Eban obliquely alludes, the more extreme Nazi apologists, if any can be found, would make the same claims about Lidice and Oradour, also "retaliations." I do not see any basis, even the slightest, for criticism of my rendition of Gur, Schiff, Ben-Gurion, Eban, and the significance of their statements and the actions they describe (also reviewed in the book, and far more extensively elsewhere, e.g., Morris's "Israel's Border Wars"). That includes the actual topic of the chapter: first, the criminal invasion of Lebanon in 1978 (a war crime "in retaliation" as I wrote), and crucially the far more extreme and murderous aggression of 1982, when, as distinct from 1978, there was not even a pretext of retaliation. It's understandable that accurate rendition of this shameful record should outrage apologists for mass murder, expulsion of huge numbers of people, destruction and devastation; and should drive them to seek desperately to find some error in it. But this attempt [...] is a total failure. To be precise, it is a total failure in narrow terms, keeping to the text and the critique. The critics are resorting to what is sometimes called the "thief, thief" technique, well known to any criminal or defense lawyer with a hopeless case. If you're caught with your hand in someone's pocket, point to someone else and shout "thief, thief." That may shift attention elsewhere, to someone else, who now has to prove that he is not the thief. The effort succeeds, if others spend even a moment on the deception; even more if the actual crime is then put into the background and ignored. As has just happened... I have spent a lot of time refuting the charges, meanwhile ignoring the issues, and immobilizing ourselves, taking time away from important activities that could be undertaken with regard to the ongoing and past crimes that are defended by these pathetic apologists. That's their highest goal. Let's turn now to what is being avoided. First, Operation "Peace for Galilee," the topic of the chapter. I mentioned that the name is a fraud: the region was basically at peace, apart from murderous Israeli attacks in southern Lebanon in an attempt to elicit a pretext for the planned invasion. Second, the invasion was indeed retaliation: retaliation against PLO diplomatic efforts, which were becoming a "veritable catastrophe" for Israel, as Israel's leading (and by no means dovish) academic historian of Palestine, Yehoshua Porath, pointed out at once in explaining the reasons for the invasion, confirmed by the highest political and military echelons, as I quoted. That is very important, for reasons that should be too obvious to review-though I did review them there, and in further detail later, as more evidence emerged. Third, the invasion was a major crime. The death toll of Lebanese and Palestinians may be on the order of 20,000 (with tens of thousands more, according to Lebanese records, in the following years of Israeli crimes in Lebanon and occupation for 22 years in defiance of Security Council orders). The bombing of Beirut was a major post-World War II crime in itself, the destruction of southern Lebanon even worse. Fourth, the atrocities are not properly described as Israeli crimes: they are United States-Israeli crimes. They could not have been carried out without the support of the US: military, economic, diplomatic (including veto of Security Council resolutions that sought to halt the carnage), and doctrinal. The doctrinal contributions are crucial: falsifying the record, suppressing the facts, and if everything else fails, resorting to the "thief, thief" technique, the ultimate resort of the scoundrel, which succeeds even if it fails if we fall for it, as [...] I have just done. The fourth point is the most crucial of all, for us... We are not speaking of the crimes of Genghis Khan, or of the Tamil Tigers, but of crimes for which you and I and the critics bear direct responsibility, and can therefore do something about, as we could then, and we can now-if we are not immobilized and diverted, by such shameful tactics as the "thief, thief" technique [...]. To bring out what is at stake here, consider a thought experiment, taking off from Eban's oblique reference to such Nazi crimes as Oradour and Lidice. These are commonly, and rightly, bitterly denounced, usually without reference to the irrelevant fact that they were retaliation. Scholars and commentators commonly and rightly discuss the pronouncements of Nazi leaders, and use them as the basis for bitter condemnation, attribution of responsibility, even judicial prosecution. One rarely if ever finds such statements as: "let's strike mercilessly against women and children in the rational expectation that civilians may pressure the resistance to cease its actions." True, sometimes we do find such statements. One recently appeared in the NY Times, the discovery of orders to carry out "a massive bombing campaign" against another country: "Anything that flies on anything that moves." It happens to be Kissinger in this case, conveying his master's orders. But such direct calls for extreme war crimes are very rare. If Milosevic's prosecutors could find anything like it, glee would be unrestrained, the trial would be over, and he'd be sentenced to many consecutive life terms, the death sentence if it was a US court. In this case, the discovery was marginally noted and quickly disappeared, for the usual reasons: wrong agency. Let's continue with the thought experiment. Suppose some analyst of Nazi crimes not only quoted statements of Nazi leaders describing and providing a rationale for them, but went on to attribute to these leaders a justification for striking civilians even when there is no pretext-as Schiff did in this case, and as the critics cite[d] falsely claim I did. Suppose now that we can find some Nazi apologist so grotesque as to condemn the analysts of Nazi crimes for this extended interpretation. Would we waste even a minute exposing their lies and deceit, or responding if their charge was correct (as in the Schiff example)? Or would we just leave them to rot in their sewers? I think the latter. Notice that the thought experiment is not quite fair. It would be shocking enough for us to find a Nazi apologist here who is willing to resort to this miserable device; it is far worse when the apologetics are offered for our own crimes, not those of others. I'd suggest thinking all this through, and paying attention to the morass into which we are being drawn by refuting, or even paying a moment's attention to, these desperate efforts of extreme apologists for horrendous crimes. If I may, I'll just refer [...] to something I wrote in the introduction to my first collection of political essays, 35 years ago. Discussing apologists for Nazi crimes, I wrote that we demean ourselves by even entering into debate with them, entering into the arena of footnotes, citations, distortions, lies, justifications, etc. That's correct, and even more correct when we allow apologists for our own crimes to draw us into this arena. It would be correct even if there were a shred of credibility to their charges, unlike the example...describe[d]. These, I think, are the important issues, all displaced by the "thief, thief" technique. ---- Al Qaeda By Paul Street As those of you have done your daily ZNet reading may suspect (see my August 12th piece titled "An American Hiroshima"), I've been reading CIA Analyst "Anonymous'" interesting book Imperial Hubris: How the West Is Losing the War on Terror (2004) One of the many instructive themes in this study is the dangerous disconnect between (A) official US state and corporate-state media pronouncements to the effect that American authorities and their "coalition" parnters are making Americans and the rest of the world safe from extremist Islamic terror threats and (B) the reality of Islamic terrorism and al Qaeda's remarkable resiliency and indeed expansion (and growing popular appeal amongst mainstream Muslims) in the wake of 9/11 and Bush's II's proclomation of a (new) War of (oops, we mean ON) Terrorism. "The West," Anonymous notes, "is deluged daily by newsmakers and the conveyors of their words and actions" with the claim that "the West is winning the war that intensified [on September 11]. An imagined but plausible synopsis of this news could be gisted in the following breathless, headlinelike manner: Victory in Afghanistan, Taleban destroyed. Bin Laden and el Zawahiri cowering in Afghan caves. Al Qaeda remnants soon to be captured. Pro-Western democratic regime rules in Kabul. Enthusiasm for Islamism and jihad waning, becoming, per director of central intelligence, the "the fringe of the Muslim lunatic fringe." Israeli prime minister Sharon - "Man of Peace." War on al Quaeda not war on Islam. Anti-terror war has nothing to do with religion. bin Laden hates United states for its freedom, not its policies. Islamists hate America for what it is, not what it does. Pakistan, Saudia Araba support U.S. war on al Qaeda. West dries up funds for bin Laden. Road Map for Israel, Palestine working. Victory in Iraq, no Islamist insurgency. Iraq nears secular government, democracy, sovereignty. (Imperial Hubris, pp. 163-164) Imperial Hubris is dedicated to showing that all of these imperial bullet-points, sound clips, and headlines are pure unadulterated bullshit and that things are moving in a different, ominous direction. And "Anonymous" acknowledges that the reason for this is that the U.S. conducts itself in the Middle East in precisely the imperialist ways that bin Laden and other Islamists say: "military garrisons; economic exploitation and control; support for leaders, no matter how brutal and undemocratic, as long as they obey the imperial power; and the exploitation and depletion of natural resources" (p. 15). "With US tanks on the streets of Iraq's capital," it doesn't make much imagination for Muslims to accept al Qaeda's "view of the United States as the world's new, predatory colonial power." (p.16) At the same, "Anonymous" notes that careful Westen media watchers/listeners/readers who "dig deep enough" into the newspapers "will find stories claiming that [the official pronouncements] are incorrect, that al Qaeda is actually more dangerous than [before 9/11]. At the same time, the current newsmakers in power in the White House seem to have a vested interest in scaring the Hell out of us, encouraging us thereby to cower under the national Insecurity State Umbrella, so "to say the least, Americans are getting mixed and confused messages from their leaders" (pp. 165-165). Against that background, I present selected sections of a recent page one New York Times story showing that the reality of al Qaeda's resiliency is quite different than the victory story that Bush II is telling over and over again on his "Heart and Soul" campaign trail. August 10, 2004 THE OVERVIEW New Generation of Leaders Is Emerging for Al Qaeda By DAVID JOHNSTON and DAVID E. SANGER WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 - A new portrait of Al Qaeda's inner workings is emerging from the cache of information seized last month in Pakistan, as investigators begin to identify a new generation of operatives who appear to be filling the vacuum created when leaders were killed or captured, senior intelligence officials said Monday. Using computer records, e-mail addresses and documents seized after the arrest of Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan last month in Pakistan, intelligence analysts say they are finding that Al Qaeda's upper ranks are being filled by lower-ranking members and more recent recruits. "They're a little bit of both,'' one official said, describing Al Qaeda's new midlevel structure. "Some who have been around and some who have stepped up. They're reaching for their bench.'' While the findings may result in a significant intelligence coup for the Bush administration and its allies in Britain, they also create a far more complex picture of Al Qaeda's status than Mr. Bush presents on the campaign trail. For the past several months, the president has claimed that much of Al Qaeda's leadership has been killed or captured; the new evidence suggests that the organization is regenerating and bringing in new blood. The new picture emerged from interviews with two officials who have been briefed on some of the details of the intelligence and analytical conclusions drawn from the information on computers seized after Mr. Khan's arrest. But they did not identify the more senior Qaeda leaders, and they said it was not yet clear to what extent Osama bin Laden still exercised control over the organization, either directly or through his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Officials say they still do not have a clear picture of the midlevel structure that exists between Mr. Khan, who appeared to be responsible for communications but not operations, and the upper echelons of Al Qaeda. The new evidence suggests that Al Qaeda has retained some elements of its previous centralized command and communications structure, using computer experts like Mr. Khan to relay encrypted messages and directions from leaders to subordinates in countries like Britain, Turkey and Nigeria. In the past, officials had a different view of Al Qaeda. After the American-led war in Afghanistan, most American counterterrorism analysts believed that the group had been dispersed and had been trying to re-form in a loosely affiliated collection of extremist groups. It appears that Al Qaeda is more resilient than was previously understood and has sought to find replacements for operational commanders like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Walid Muhammad Salih bin Attash, known as Khallad, all of whom have been captured..... ---- Burundi Mandisi Majavu According to the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Accord, signed between the Burundi government and various rebel groups in August 2000; Burundi is supposed to go to the polls at the end of October. However, two months before the elections are due, almost nothing is ready - a constitution is yet to be drafted and debated, there is no electoral commission and voters are still to be registered. Even the regional summit to ratify a power-sharing agreement and reconfirm Burundi's election process and timetable that was scheduled to take place this week has been postponed to early September. Although a ceasefire agreement was signed by the government and the rebels in December 2002, sporadic fighting in Bujumbura Rural Province still continues between the government and the Forces Nationales de liberation (FNL) rebels loyal to Agathon Rwasa. The FNL is the only rebel group in the country that has refused to sign a ceasefire agreement with the government. About three months ago the Burundi government suggested that the elections be delayed by a year, however, according to the Burundi government spokesperson Pancrace Cimpaye, the South African team in charge of Burundi's peace process rejected the proposal to extend the transitional period. Also, the South African government has promised to send about 475 National Defence Force personnel to the country to guard the politicians in the run-up to Burundi's elections. Meanwhile, the South African minister of defence Mosiuoa Lekota, has been urging members of parliament to increase military spending so as to improve the military equipment the defence force requires and the training of the troops who would become peacekeepers in foreign countries. As much as South Africa wants to contribute to peace on the continent, one cannot help but think that South Africa's top priorities in the whole affair are its business interests and profits and making sure an environment that is conducive to business trade is fully implemented. After all, South African businesses are running the national railroad in Cameroon, the national electricity company in Tanzania, Rwanda and Cameroon. They are also managing power plants in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mali; building roads and bridges in Malawi and Mozambique, and a gas pipeline between offshore Mozambique and South Africa. South African Businesses control banks, breweries, supermarkets and hotels throughout the continent and provide TV programming to over half of all Africa's states. ---- Moral Truisms Noam Chomsky There is no doubt that people have moral intuitions, and research-serious research is in very early stages-reveals that they are quite uniform without experience in complex situations, and in many ways surprising. There is little reason to doubt David Hume's observation that they are grounded in our nature-as we would restate it, adding nothing much substantive, in our genetic endowment. We can learn little bits about these topics by the methods of science, but the issues of human life so vastly exceed the range of scientific understanding that we are almost always proceeding on the basis of moral intuition, which is subject to reflection, debate, sharpening, etc., but cannot be grounded... The same is true of the epistemological intuitions that guide scientific research, in fact. Why should we seek what by our cognitive standards are simple, elegant theories? In brief, we have to live our lives, without immobilizing ourselves by posing questions that are very remote from answers, or even coherent formulation. That's not to say we shouldn't think about them, but without being immobilized by them. What I've called truisms I think are moral truisms: for example, that we should apply to ourselves the same standards we apply to others (in fact, more stringent ones). Suppose I run into someone who doesn't agree: say, someone who thinks it's outrageous for someone to cause severe harm to us, but just fine for us to cause far more severe harm to them? Then discussion is pretty much at an end. However, I think this situation is very rare. The usual situation is denial that we are causing severe harm to them; rather, we are doing our best to help them, but sometimes failing because of our naivete, innocence, tendency to sacrifice ourselves too much for others, etc. That's the essence of what in honest days used to be called "propaganda," and is now called "news," or "information," or "sober commentary by public intellectuals," or "scholarship," etc. I think that is overwhelmingly true. One rarely comes across someone who says "I'm a Nazi and proud of it." But if so, that reveals that there is something of a common moral ground, and a basis for constructive interchange-which may, and sometimes does, sharpen moral intuitions as well. We all know that very well in fact. It's not that long ago, after all, that it was considered not just tolerable but in fact deeply moral to have slaves, beat one's wife if she is disobedient, lash children, torture a poor person who robbed a crumb of bread, etc. ===================================This message has been brought to you by ZNet (http://www.zmag.org). Visit our site for subscription options.