Downtown under siege again...

I won't be posting a report on today's Kefaya pro-resistance demo, as I couldn't go. But you can check some demo pix here. Jano Charbel of dpa who attended the protest told me he was punched and beaten by batton-wielding CSF, who took his bag, and returned it later without his mobile phone nor the money that was in it. Others were also assaulted including blogger Alaa Seif who was beaten so much that his shirt was shredded, and activist Ahmad Droubi was beaten on the head, shoulders, and his eyeglasses were smashed by plainclothes thugs. Droubi told me shortly before the crackdown, he saw and overheard one of the plainclothes thugs eagerly asking a CSF Lt Colonel, "When are we going to get some action ya basha?" I was also told several female protestors were manhandled by the plainclothes thugs. CSF attacking demonstrators in downtown Cairo Al-Jazeera reported there were similar pro-resistance protests that took place in Tanta and Bani Suweif. On another note, I won't be blogging for the coming ten days at least, as I have some urgent personal errands I have to take care of. See you soon...
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Darell Issa weighing in?

Not a single conversation thesedays about US policy in the region, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, and what have you--that does not end with the question, where are the Arab Americans, and why aren't they as organized as the pro-Israel lobby. Issandr has blogged several postings about this subject before. Anyways, Zazou posted some critical comments on Darell Issa, the US congressional representaive from Lebanese decent, who is no stranger for us here in Cairo, with his regional visits that usually include meetings with Hosni, Gamal, and the NDP posse... Worth checking out: Poor Lebanon...
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Actors and Artists demonstrate for Lebanon today

The Actor's Guild and the Artists' Syndicate have called for a sit-in at the UN office in Cairo, today Monday, to protest the Qana massacre. The actors and artists will assemble in front of the Guild, located in el-Bahr el-A3zam Street in Giza, at noon, and will move in buses and cars to Garden City, where the UN office is located. Several actors and artists have joined the ranks of dissent since the launching of Kefaya, in addition to others who've known to come into the art scene from activism background. The most outspoken actor/activist has been Khaled el-Sawy, the star from the box office hit The Yaacoubian Building. He together with the novel author, Alaa el-Aswani, had helped launch Artists For Change last year, as one of Kefaya's offshoots.
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Israel to suspend aerial operations for 48 hours, US says

I'm watching Al-Jazeera now. The channel has just announced that the US State Department said Israel agreed to suspend aerial operations for 48 hours, and will investigate what happened in Qana. UPDATE: Now Al-Jazeera is saying that "Israel's temporary suspension of aerial bombardments does not cover missile launch batteries."
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HRW holds Israel responsible for Qana war crime

HRW issued a statement denouncing Israel's massacre in Qana today...
Israel/Lebanon: Israel Responsible for Qana Attack Indiscriminate Bombing in Lebanon a War Crime (Beirut, July 30, 2006) – Responsibility for the Israeli airstrikes that killed at least 54 civilians sheltering in a home in the Lebanese village of Qana rests squarely with the Israeli military, Human Rights Watch said today. It is the latest product of an indiscriminate bombing campaign that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have waged in Lebanon over the past 18 days, leaving an estimated 750 people dead, the vast majority of them civilians.
“Today’s strike on Qana, killing at least 54 civilians, more than half of them children, suggests that the Israeli military is treating southern Lebanon as a free-fire zone,� said Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. “The Israeli military seems to consider anyone left in the area a combatant who is fair game for attack.� This latest, appalling loss of civilian life underscores the need for the U.N. Secretary-General to establish an International Commission of Inquiry to investigate serious violations of international humanitarian law in the context of the current conflict, Roth said. Such consistent failure to distinguish combatants and civilians is a war crime. A statement issued today by the IDF said that responsibility for the Qana attack “rests with the Hezbollah� because it has used the area to launch “hundreds of missiles� into Israel. It added: “Residents in this region and specifically the residents of Qana were warned several days in advance to leave the village.� On July 27, Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said that Israel had given civilians ample time to leave southern Lebanon, and that anyone remaining could be considered a supporter of Hezbollah. “All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah,� he said, according to the BBC. “Just because the Israeli military warned the civilians of Qana to leave does not give it carte blanche to blindly attack,� Roth said. “It still must make every possible effort to target only genuine combatants. Through its arguments, the Israeli military is suggesting that Palestinian militant groups might ‘warn’ all settlers to leave Israeli settlements and then be justified in targeting those who remained.� Even if the IDF claims of Hezbollah rocket fire from the Qana area are correct, Israel remains under a strict obligation to direct attacks at only military objectives, and to take all feasible precautions to avoid the incidental loss of civilian life. To date, Israel has not presented any evidence to show that Hezbollah was present in or around the building that was struck at the time of the attack. Tens of thousands of civilians remain in villages south of the Litani River, despite IDF warnings to leave. Some have chosen to stay, but the vast majority is unable to flee due to destroyed roads, a lack of gasoline, high taxi fares, sick relatives, or ongoing Israeli attacks. The sick and poor are those who mostly remain behind. The attack took place around 1:00 a.m. today, when Israeli warplanes fired missiles at the village of Qana. Among the homes struck was a three-story building in which 63 members of two extended families, the Shalhoub and Hashim families, had sought shelter. The civilians had taken refuge there because it was one of the larger buildings in the area and had a reinforced basement, according to the deputy mayor of the town, Dr. Issam Matuni. According to the Lebanese civil defense and the Lebanese Red Cross, at least 54 civilians, including 27 children, were crushed to death when the building collapsed. Rescue teams were unable to reach the village until 9:00 a.m. because of ongoing heavy IDF bombardment in the area. None of the bodies recovered so far have been militants, and rescue workers say they have found no weapons in the building that was struck. Qana was the site of a 1996 Israeli air strike on a U.N. compound sheltering fleeing civilians that killed more than 100 people. Human Rights Watch research established at the time that the 1996 strike was also an indiscriminate attack by the Israeli military. Human Rights Watch researchers have been in Lebanon since the onset of the current hostilities and have documented dozens of cases in which Israeli forces have carried out indiscriminate attacks against civilians while in their homes or traveling on roads to flee the fighting. A report of these findings and their legal consequences will be issued later this week. Human Rights Watch has also documented Hezbollah’s deliberate and indiscriminate firing of Katyusha rockets into civilian areas in Israel, resulting in 18 civilian deaths to date. These serious violations of international humanitarian law are also war crimes. “War crimes by one party to a conflict never justify war crimes by another,� Roth said.
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Pro-resistance protest in Talaat Harb

I uploaded pix of today's protests here. Will be posting a report soon... UPDATE: Here's the report.... I arrived in Talaat Harb Sq. few minutes after 7pm, and there were only 20 leftist activists standing in the square, with Palestinian and Lebanese flags, and no security presence. Earlier in the day, there had been confusion about the protest’s location. There was a demo and a prayer organized at the Press Syndicate, that had been agreed up on by different political groups, but with the news trickling early morning on the Qana massacre, others felt there had to be some street action, and I learned from activist sources there was something to happen in Talaat Harb Sq. I wasn’t optimistic on my way to the demo. This space activists had in the “street,� in 2005 and up till March 2006, has been constantly under attack, and it’s just an “achievement� nowadays in itself to get few dozens to show up somewhere outside the “liberated zone� called Press Syndicate stairs. My hunch, before I arrived, was that security would ban the Talaat Harb Sq. demo, and intimidate activists into shifting their demo location to the Press Syndicate, where they would demonstrate on the entrance stairs, encircled by security. I was proven wrong, however. When I arrived in Talaat Harb Sq., there was hardly any security around. Just few traffic police officers and plainclothes ones were watching the activists from a distance. In fifteen mins, the number grew to 50, and still no security forces, so the Leftist and Nasserist activists present, started chanting, led by Revolutionary Socialist campaigner Kamal Khalil. They chanted against Israel, US, and the Arab regimes. Among Arab rulers, Mubarak, the two Abdallahs of Jordan and Saudi had the lionshare of critical chants. The demonstrators also chanted in support of Lebanese resistance and Hizbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, calling for strikes against Tel Aviv and the expulsion of the US and Israeli ambassadors to Egypt. As I was standing watching the demo, I came across two street children who were nearby. One was 14 and the other 16. Barefooted, dressed in rags, their faces covered in dirt—you had your average Egyptian Oliver Twist. The two asked me what the demo was about, and we started a conversation. They kept on slurring the Egyptian police, and told me they were picked up from the street around a week ago, and got locked up in Abdeen Police Station. The 16-year-old said he was whipped by the officers, and showed me the wounds on his left arm. By 7:35pm, the number of demonstrators had reached roughly 100, when the activists attempted marching down Qasr el-Nil Street. A line of plainclothes thugs appeared right away, and blocked them. Minor scuffles happened, and trucks carrying Central Security Forces started coming in. A line of CSF troops was swiftly formed to encircle the demonstrators. Around a dozen demonstrators insisted on standing outside the circle, against the “pleas� of police officers in the scene, who were calling activists by the name. Some activists ranted back, and stood in their place waving Hizbollah flags. The security did not seem in the mood of heavy-handedness. One of the protestors waving the Hizbollah flag was a Coptic leftist woman doctor I know. As with almost all other demos, the regional causes got intertwined with local ones. The protestors chanted against Mubarak, Gamal, the raising of gas prices, police brutality, the emergency law. About a dozen demonstrators also popped up on the balcony of Al-Ghad Party office, overlooking Talaat Harb Sq, and joined the demonstrators in chanting. Somehow a wireless mike showed up in Kamal Khalil’s hand. It was connected to speakers in Al-Ghad’s balcony that echoed the chants across the square. Later, sometime after 8pm, the dozen or so crowd who were standing outside the CSF circle, swelled to 40, and ran across the street where Talaat Harb’s Statue in the middle of the square. Hundreds of CSF troops together with plainclothes thugs were mobilized, and they clashed with the activists. The scene was amok, with the demonstrators on the pavement clashing with the CSF troops to join others in the middle of the square, and those who are by the statue resisting being moved. The traffic came to complete halt for ten mins, with the plainclothes thugs bringing the situation under police control once more. This was probably the height of the demo. The total number of demonstrators were something between 150 and 200. Some demonstrators who had taken part in the protest at the Press Syndicate came to Talaat Harb to join their colleagues. According to a reporter who attended the syndicate protest, around 500 protestors clashed with the CSF in front of the Press Syndicate, taking to Abdel Khaleq Tharwat St., blocking the traffic, and demonstrated in support of the resistance. The security generals present in the scene, I was told, decided to leave the protestors to pray, but then forced them back to the syndicate when the prayers were over. The protest went on for nearly an hour. I left Talaat Harb by 9pm, as it was coming to an end. I was told it was all finished 20 mins later. Security allowed protestors to leave, and no arrests were reported. On a final note, despite the clashes that happened with CSF, I don’t think I was ever at a demo where I could feel sympathy coming from the conscripts. It has been sometimes spontaneous and at other times a dileberate strategy by leftist activists to chat with the CSF conscripts (not officers) in the demos, and try to win them to their cause. I heard CSF conscripts on a dzillion occasions talking with frustration to an activist, saying they did not like what they were ordered to do, and that they hated their officers as much as the activists did, but they were too helpless to do something about it. Today, I saw with my own eyes at least six CSF conscripts who opened conversations with the protestors (and not the other way around). In addition to the usual ranting about their officers, they spoke bitterly against the government decrees to raise prices. They also cursed the US, and Israel, and one describe them as “ones who care about nothing but killing Arabs and Muslims.� I was even more shocked when I heard one conscript telling an activist, “Yes, I know what happened in Qana today. The f@#king killers! I saw what happened on Al-Jazeera.� It kinda shocked me that this peasant conscript had access to Al-Jazeera satellite channel. I wanted to ask him where did he watch Al-Jazeera, but couldn’t as he was moved to join a battalion stationed on the other side. But to top it all, I overheard one conscript who was asking a protestor when was the next demo planned, and promised he would try to show up!!!!
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Pictures from Qana

Hanady Salman, an editor at as-Safir newspaper, writes about today's massacre in Qana:
Qana - Sunday July 30th , 2006 Only to let you know that these are 55 civilians, all killed , 20 of them are kids betwween 7 months and 12 years old. Only to let you know that a number of these children are handicapped, they were hit in the last Qana massacre in 1996. Only to let you know CNN and BBC are hosting IDF spokespeople who tell the world that these civilians were warned to leave , but they just didn't. Only to let you know the air strikes took place at 1:00 am , all they people were sleeping, in their pyjamas, bare feet, in a shelter. The house was hit twice. Twice. To make sure they will all die. Only to let you know that despite the fact that we're animals, but it would have been impossible for animals to sleep had there been any shelling from anywhere close , as the IDF alleges. Only to let you know you free media won't show you these pictures. Only to let you know that this is not the first time this happens , and I can promise you it won't be the last time.
She also sent pictures, which have been uploaded to the Flickr account. As always, be warned: they are very graphic. There is also a previous set from a few days ago here, and another of the environmental damage done by oil spills from Israeli warships on Lebanon's beaches. The 1996 Qana massacre was largely ignored by the international community after the initial outrage that forced Israel to stop its "Grapes of Wrath" operation. But there never was any follow up beyond condemnations by human rights groups, as the Wikipedia entry linked above notes:
Amnesty International conducted an on-site investigation of the incident in collaboration with military experts, using interviews with UNIFIL staff and civilians in the compound, and posing questions to the IDF, who did not reply. Amnesty concluded, "the IDF intentionally attacked the UN compound, although the motives for doing so remain unclear. The IDF have failed to substantiate their claim that the attack was a mistake. Even if they were to do so they would still bear responsibility for killing so many civilians by taking the risk to launch an attack so close to the UN compound." Human Rights Watch concurred, "The decision of those who planned the attack to choose a mix of high-explosive artillery shells that included deadly anti-personnel shells designed to maximize injuries on the ground -- and the sustained firing of such shells, without warning, in close proximity to a large concentration of civilians -- violated a key principle of international humanitarian law."
Ten years later and Israel carries out the same attack. It might have not if senior officers who made the decision had been pursued for war crimes, of if the US had put pressure or ended weapon shipments to a state that is a serial war crimes committer, it might not have happened. Qana 27 Ap Qana  4 Ap
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Israel's cyber-psy-ops

The following comment came from one of the blog's readers on the posting I put earlier on the Israeli psy-ops:
To all. I would like to inform you that your message board has been hijacked by giyus.org. This is a Zionist internet computer system designed by the Israeli government to attack any criticism to Israel and its madness. On this website they have a program which I downloaded and installed that gives to the user any updates on conversations, online polls, newspaper clips or blogs in which Israel is being discuss especially in a critical way. Then they urge you to respond. This creates a perception that more people than in reality agree with Zionism and Israel in general. This is how I got to this blog. Please download the program yourself and let everyone know that Israel has hijacked their legitimate discussion to create “false� public opinion. GIYUS.ORG = Zionist propoganda Mosestruth
I found this Electronic Intifada article on this software Israel's Foreign Ministry provides Free Internet Tool to online activists
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Parliamentarians demonstrate against Israel

More than a 100 (independent and opposition) Members of Parliament marched in the streets today to protest the Israeli military operations in Lebanon, and demanded the expulsion of the Israeli and US ambassadors to Egypt. The MPs left the parliament shortly after noon, chanting "We are all with the resistance," and marched towards the US embassy before they were stopped by security forces in Simon Bolivar Square. According to someone present in the scene, none of the MPs belonged to Mubarak's National Democratic Party. When the independent and opposition MPs took the streets, they were joined by another 200 activists and ordinary citizens. (Correction: Nora reports two NDP MPs took part) When barred, the MPs decided to head towards the Arab League, and met with Amr Moussa, the League's secretary general, to demand stronger action by the Arab states, and the expulsion of the Israeli and US ambassadors. You can find pix of the demo here.
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Once again, an Israeli massacre in Qana

Once more, Israel shows its "civilized" face in Qana.. Al-Jazeera is reporting 55 civilians dead, mostly women and children, in an Israeli bombardment of a three-story building that was hosting refugees, around 1am. The building contained 63 members of two families, according to Al-Jazeera. The same town had witnessed Shimon Peres' 1996 massacring of civilians who took cover in a UN base. Meanwhile, Hizbollah announced it killed today 8 Israeli special forces soldiers from the Golani Unit. There may be a solidarity event this evening 7pm, in front of the Egyptian Press Syndicate, in Abdel Khaleq Tharwat St, to protest the massacre. UPDATE: The UN building in Beirut was stormed by demonstrators angry over the silence of the so called "international community." UPDATE: The Lebanese Health Minister announced that Israeli has killed 750 people, mostly civilians, and wounded 2000 others since the start of its military aggression against Lebanon. UPDATE: You can find a slideshow of Qana pix here. The BBC has more pix here. UPDATE: Al-Jazeera has just interviewed one of the woman survivors who was in the building. She said, in a total state of nervous breakdown, that there were no Hizbollah fighters in the building, or in the area. UPDATE: A demonstration is planned this evening 7pm, Talaat Harb Square, to denounce the Israeli massacre. UPDATE: Kefaya is calling for a demonstration tomorrow Monday, 6pm, in Tahrir Square, to mourn the Qana martyrs, and to protest Israel's war, the American backing and the Arab governments' silence.
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Redrawing the ME map

Here is a rather amusing article by Ralp Peters, a former US Lt. Colonel and a raving pro-Zionist, calling for redrawing the boundaries in the Middle East. Here is another article by Ralphie in the NY Post, warning, as a “lifelong Israel supporter,� that the Israel might lose the current war if it doesn’t use more troops in crushing the Lebanese resistance.
NEW YORK POST CAN ISRAEL WIN? By RALPH PETERS July 22, 2006 -- ISRAEL is losing this war. For a lifelong Israel supporter, that's a painful thing to write. But it's true. And the situation's worsening each day. A U.S. government official put it to me this way: " Israel's got the clock, but Hezbollah's got the time." The sands of the hourglass favor the terrorists - every day they hold out and drop more rockets on Israel, Hezbollah scores a propaganda win. All Hezbollah has to do to achieve victory is not to lose completely. But for Israel to emerge the acknowledged winner, it has to shatter Hezbollah. Yet Israeli miscalculations have left Hezbollah alive and kicking. Israel has to pull itself together now, to send in ground troops in sufficient numbers, with fierce resolve to do what must be done: Root out Hezbollah fighters and kill them. This means Israel will suffer painful casualties - more today than if the Israeli Defense Force had gone in full blast at this fight's beginning. The situation is grave. A perceived Hezbollah win will be a massive victory for terror, as well as a triumph for Iran and Syria. And everybody loves a winner - especially in the Middle East, where Arabs and Persians have been losing so long. Israel can't afford a Hezbollah win. America can't afford it. Civilization can't afford it. Yet it just might happen. Israel tried to make war halfway, and only made a mess. Let's review where the situation stands: * By trying to spare Israeli lives through the use of airpower and long-range artillery fire instead of ground troops, the IDF played into Hezbollah's hands. The terrorists could claim that Israel feared them. Meanwhile, Israeli targeting proved shockingly sloppy, failing to ravage Hezbollah, while hitting civilians - to the international media's delight. * The IDF is readying a reinforced brigade of armor and 3,000 to 5,000 troops for a "limited incursion" into southern Lebanon. Won't work. Not enough troops. And Hezbollah's had time to get locked and loaded. This is going to be messy - any half-hearted Israeli effort will fall short. * Famed for its penetration, Israeli intelligence failed this time. It didn't detect the new weapons Iran and Syria had provided to Hezbollah, from anti-ship missiles to longer-range rockets. And, after years of spying, it couldn't find Hezbollah. This should set off global alarm bells: If Hezbollah can hide rockets, Iran can hide nukes. * The media sided heavily with Hezbollah (surprise, surprise). Rocket attacks on Israel were reported clinically, but IDF strikes on Lebanon have been milked for every last drop of emotion. We hear about broken glass in Haifa - and bleeding babies in Beirut. * Washington rejoiced when several Arab governments criticized Hezbollah for its actions. But the Arab street, Shia and Sunni, has coalesced behind Hezbollah. Saudi and Egyptian government statements are worth about as much as a greeting card from Marie Antoinette on New Year's Day, 1789. * Syria and Iran are getting a free ride. Hezbollah fights and dies, Damascus and Tehran collect the dividends. * Israel looks irresolute and incapable - encouraging its enemies. * The "world community" wants a cease-fire - which would only benefit the terrorists. Hezbollah would claim (accurately) that it had withstood Israel's assault. Couldn't get a better terrorist recruiting advertisement. * A cease-fire would be under U.N. auspices. Gee, thanks. No U.N. force would protect Israel's interests, but plenty of U.N. contingents would cooperate with or turn a blind eye to the terrorists. Think Russia's an honest broker? Ask its Jews who fled to Israel . Would French troops protect Israeli interests? Ask the Jews Vichy bureaucrats packed off to the death camps. (The French are more anti-Semitic than the Germans - just less efficient.) * One bright spot: The Bush administration continues to resist international attempts to bully Israel into a premature cease-fire. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is flying off to the big falafel stand as a token gesture, not to interfere with Israel's self-defense. But the clock's ticking. Washington can only buy Israel so much time. * Every rocket that lands in Israel is a propaganda victory for Hezbollah. After 1,000-plus Israeli air-strikes, the rockets keep falling, and Israel looks impotent. The price of sparing Israeli infantrymen has been the elevation of Hezbollah to heroic status through the Muslim world. * The Olmert government tried to wage war on the cheap. Such efforts always raise the cost in the end. Olmert resembles President Bill Clinton - willing to lob bombs from a distance, but unwilling to accept that war means friendly casualties. * Israel needs to grasp the power of the global media. Long proud of going its own way in the face of genocidal anti-Semitism, Israel now has to recognize that the media can overturn the verdict of the battlefield. Even if Israel pulls off a last-minute win on the ground, the anti-Israel propaganda machine has been given so big a head-start that Hezbollah still may be portrayed as the victor. The situation is grim. Israel looks more desperate every day, while Hezbollah appears more defiant. This is ultimately about far more than a buffer zone in southern Lebanon . In the long run, it's about Israel's survival. And about preventing the rise of a nuclear Iran and the strengthening of the rogue regime in Syria. It's also about the future of Lebanon - everybody's victim. The mess Israel has made of its opportunity to smack down Hezbollah should be a wake-up call to the country's leadership. The IDF looks like a pathetic shadow of the bold military that Ariel Sharon led into Egypt three decades ago. The IDF's intelligence, targeting and planning were all deficient. Technology failed to vanquish flesh and blood. The myth of the IDF's invincibility just shattered. If Israel can't turn this situation around quickly, the failure will be a turning point in its history. And not for the better. Ralph Peters' new book is "Never Quit the Fight."
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Proposed terror detainee bill rings bells

It seems the democratization domino effect Bush expected following the War on Iraq is working the other way around. The US is increasingly inspired by its Arab "allies." Bush's proposed detainee bill is a worrying development for anyone who cares about civil liberties. It sounds a bit like the Egyptian emergency law…
Bush submits new terror detainee bill By ANNE PLUMMER FLAHERTY Fri Jul 28, 6:53 PM ET (AP) U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early version of the bill.
A 32-page draft measure is intended to authorize the Pentagon's tribunal system, established shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks to detain and prosecute detainees captured in the war on terror. The tribunal system was thrown out last month by the Supreme Court. Administration officials, who declined to comment on the draft, said the proposal was still under discussion and no final decisions had been made. Senior officials are expected to discuss a final proposal before the Senate Armed Services Committee next Wednesday. According to the draft, the military would be allowed to detain all "enemy combatants" until hostilities cease. The bill defines enemy combatants as anyone "engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners who has committed an act that violates the law of war and this statute." Legal experts said Friday that such language is dangerously broad and could authorize the military to detain indefinitely U.S. citizens who had only tenuous ties to terror networks like al Qaeda. "That's the big question ... the definition of who can be detained," said Martin Lederman, a law professor at Georgetown University who posted a copy of the bill to a Web blog. Scott L. Silliman, a retired Air Force Judge Advocate, said the broad definition of enemy combatants is alarming because a U.S. citizen loosely suspected of terror ties would lose access to a civilian court — and all the rights that come with it. Administration officials have said they want to establish a secret court to try enemy combatants that factor in realities of the battlefield and would protect classified information. The administration's proposal, as considered at one point during discussions, would toss out several legal rights common in civilian and military courts, including barring hearsay evidence, guaranteeing "speedy trials" and granting a defendant access to evidence. The proposal also would allow defendants to be barred from their own trial and likely allow the submission of coerced testimony. Senior Republican lawmakers have said they were briefed on the general discussions and have some concerns but are awaiting a final proposal before commenting on specifics. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England are expected to discuss the proposal in an open hearing next Wednesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Military lawyers also are scheduled to testify Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislation is the administration's response to a June 29 Supreme Court decision, which concluded the Pentagon could not prosecute military detainees using secret tribunals established soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The court ruled the tribunals were not authorized by law and violated treaty obligations under the Geneva Conventions, which established many international laws for warfare. The landmark court decision countered long-held assertions by the Bush administration that the president did not need permission from Congress to prosecute "enemy combatants" captured in the war on terror and that al Qaeda members were not subject to Geneva Convention protections because of their unconventional status. "In a time of ongoing armed conflict, it is neither practicable nor appropriate for enemy combatants like al Qaeda terrorists to be tried like American citizens in federal courts or courts-martial," the proposal states. The draft proposal contends that an existing law — passed by the Senate last year after exhaustive negotiations between the White House and Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz. — that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment should "fully satisfy" the nation's obligations under the Geneva Conventions. Sen. John W. Warner (news, bio, voting record), R-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said Friday he expects to take up the detainee legislation in September.
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