Friday, December 15, 2006

U.S. training Fatah in anti-terror tactics

Underlying motive is to counter strength of Hamas, analysts say
Matthew Kalman, Chronicle Foreign Service

Thursday, December 14, 2006


(12-14) 04:00 PST Jericho, West Bank -- U.S. officials training Palestinian security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas are emphasizing urban anti-terrorist techniques as part of a systematic effort to bolster Abbas and his Fatah loyalists to counter the political success of Hamas, according to Palestinian analysts and officers receiving the training.

But one officer who has received the training says the purpose of the newly beefed-up force is to protect the Palestinian president from assassination.

The Presidential Guard, made up entirely of Fatah activists loyal to Abbas, has been increased to 1,000, up from about 90 officers under his predecessor, Yasser Arafat. A new black-uniformed rapid deployment force -- Al-Tadakhwal -- has recently been formed to respond to emergencies. The Presidential Guard is commanded by Gen. Munir Zobi in the West Bank and Gen. Haj Musbar in Gaza.

Officers have also received training from U.S. officials inside the Mukata, the presidential compound in Ramallah that contains Abbas' office and Arafat's grave.

The Chronicle has obtained a training manual distributed to officers of the Al-Haras Al-Rayassi, Abbas' Presidential Guard, during a two-week course held in Jericho earlier this year at which the chief instructor introduced himself as a U.S. Secret Service officer who served during the Reagan administration. The manual, titled "Advanced Protective Operations Seminar," is emblazoned with the logo of the Counterterrorism Training Group, which includes the U.S. government seal.

Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth after news of the training sessions leaked out that since Iran is helping arm and fund Hamas political and military activities, the United States wants to prevent "moderate forces" in the Palestinian territories from being eliminated.

"We are involved in building up the Presidential Guard, instructing it, assisting it to build itself up and giving them ideas. We are not training the forces to confront Hamas," Dayton told Yedioth. "Hamas is receiving money and arms from Iran and possibly Syria, and we must make sure that the moderate forces will not be erased," Dayton said.

But one of the officers trained by Dayton's team said the American general is being naive and does not understand internal Palestinian politics.

"Ever since the Hamas election victory, security has been tightened around (Abbas)," said the officer, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The fear is that someone from Hamas will try to assassinate him, and we must be ready to deal with this threat. The main threat to the security of the president is from the militia of Hamas."

When the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994 with a mandate to handle its own policing, Arafat set up a string of 14 overlapping and often competing security forces -- each one controlled by a rival political or former guerrilla chieftain, but all of them ultimately loyal to him and his Fatah party. Arafat used these forces to control political opponents like Hamas and also maintain loyalty through patronage and the payment of salaries.

The United States had helped train the initial security forces, but ended its aid when the Palestinian uprising called the intifada began in September 2000. During the intifada, many trained security officers engaged in attacks on Israeli targets or joined the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the Fatah militant wing.

Earlier this year, after it assumed control of the Palestinian government following its success in January's parliamentary elections, Hamas announced the formation of its own security service, the Executive Force, and placed Jamal abu Samhadana, a prominent militant, at its head. Samhadana was killed in an Israeli raid in June.

Abbas had denounced formation of the new police force as unconstitutional, saying that only the Palestinian president could command armed forces. On Dayton's advice, the U.S. training program began again over the summer, but so far it has been limited to the officers directly responsible for the personal security of Abbas and his VIP guests, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit to Jericho last month.

Training seminars for the Presidential Guard are being held in various locations around the West Bank. A two-week course called the Advanced Protective Operations Seminar was recently held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Jericho, where participants were instructed in counterterrorism techniques. The manual from that course gave detailed advice on a range of security issues from airport and event security planning to securing motorcades, residences and offices. Suggested tactics included the use of "protective intelligence," "counter-snipers" and a "counter-assault team."

An official from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv traveled to Ramallah earlier this year to instruct about 60 Presidential Guard officers in securing vehicles and sites against bomb threats and suspect devices. The session, according to one of the participants, lasted about two hours and took place in a large meeting room close to Abbas' office in the Mukata compound.

"We are helping the Palestinian Authority security services to enhance their abilities, concentrating on the Presidential Guard," said a U.S. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We are also helping the Presidential Guard take on expanded responsibilities, like security at the border crossings in Gaza."

The American effort is part of a broader international package of support to bolster Abbas loyalists as Hamas threatens to increase its parallel Executive Force to 6,000 men. Training for Fatah forces also is provided by Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. Britain, Spain and the European Union have provided communications equipment, vehicles and logistical support.

But there are fears the American assistance program could backfire.

"The U.S.' involvement in attempts to bring down the Hamas government has only made things worse for Abbas and Fatah," wrote Khaled Abu Toameh, Palestinian affairs correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, in a commentary titled "Guns and Poses."

"The U.S. believes that by giving Abbas more rifles and cash, it would be able to bring about regime change. But in the West Bank and Gaza, there is no shortage of weapons. Tons of explosives, rifles and missiles are smuggled across the Egyptian border nearly every day. What the Palestinians need is not more rifles -- which they never use to stop Hamas, Islamic Jihad or other militias anyway -- but good governance and credible leaders," he wrote.

"American meddling in Palestinian affairs is backfiring, because many Palestinians are beginning to look at Abbas and Fatah as pawns in the hands of the U.S. and Israel. This does not help Abbas and moderate secular Palestinians, who are facing the dangers of the growing power of Islamic fundamentalism."

Abbas' guard members wear distinctive green uniforms with a shoulder patch bearing the name of the force and the Palestinian flag. Each officer carries a semiautomatic Kalashnikov assault rifle and Motorola communications equipment. Plans to replace the outdated Kalashnikovs of the Presidential Guard with lightweight Heckler and Koch MP5 submachine guns were scrapped because of Israeli opposition.

"It's a great shame the Israelis wouldn't allow us to have the new equipment. In a hostage situation inside a building, the MP5 is much more effective than the Kalashnikov, which is too large to handle indoors and has a very strong recoil," said the Presidential Guard officer who had been through the training.

The Israelis, this officer said, have refused to permit the supply of new weapons, tear gas and flak jackets to the Presidential Guard, based on their experience in the past when the CIA trained dozens of Palestinian security officers only to watch in dismay as many of them joined the ranks of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades during the intifada.

"I'm not thrilled at the idea of the Americans training Fatah militias or the Palestinian police," said Yuval Steinitz, a former chairman of the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "Until now, both Fatah and the Palestinian police have been a great disappointment to those who believed they could overcome terror as they promised they would. The opposite has happened. In the best case, they were simply passive. In the worst cases, they actually encouraged terrorism."

Page A - 17

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Homo Hunters: Portraits in Pathology

Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Ed Vitagliano is the “news” editor of the American Family Association Journal. He’s also the AFA “researcher” who started the gay SpongeBob fiasco, and he’s still hunting gays and suggesting new ways to demean them. His tactics focus on thwarting understanding and encouraging ignorance.

In a recent article Mr. Vitagliano took aim at public education:

The influence of homosexual activists within the nation’s educational system continues to grow, altering the attitudes of children and teens toward the acceptance of a destructive and depraved lifestyle.

Often without parental knowledge, local schools are instituting policy changes that not only promote respect for homosexuality, but often even celebrate it. … [italics added]

What could be more “destructive and depraved” than a man dedicated to demeaning young gay people and encouraging prejudice against them?

Examine his statements, beginning with “often without parental knowledge.” Clearly, Mr. Vitagliano wants parents notified so that those who share his parochial, prejudiced views can raise Cain with school officials and local school boards. He urged these like “minds” to participate in the Standard of Liberty Foundation’s “Risk Audit Project” (RAP):

In May and June 2005, over 50 state pro-family groups formed an alliance to encourage the Southern Baptist Convention to use its influence to protect children from school districts that are promoting acceptance of homosexual behavior. As a result, a resolution was passed that encouraged local SBC churches to investigate, among other things, whether their school district is betraying parents, children, and the community by collaborating with homosexual activists. In cases where the school district was found to be collaborating, the resolution also urged parents to hold the school districts accountable and demand discontinuation of such morally offensive programs and materials.

As a result, to assist this investigative effort, we are offering this survey instrument to implement what we call the “Risk Audit Project.” The objectives of the Project are to:

1. Gather information about school districts throughout the U.S. regarding whether and how the districts promote acceptance of homosexual behavior to students;

2. Summarize this information through use of a uniform research instrument;

3. Communicate the results to the public through various media;

4. Hold the identified schools accountable to make needed changes in curricula; school programs and policies; and teaching.

Sound like McCarthyism to you?

The Risk Audit Project claims that what it “offers local communities is knowledge.” Nothing could be further from the truth, beginning with their claim that homosexuality is one of several “mental health disorders.”

Aside from the fact that the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers strongly disagree, the Risk Audit Project’s blatant lie – there is no more accurate word – is part of other misrepresentations and distortions:

The fact remains that teens engaging in homosexual behavior are participating in a lifestyle that:

• reduces life expectancy at age twenty by at least 8 to 20 years

• increases by at least 500% the risk of contracting AIDS

• increases the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease by nearly 900%

• increases by 4,000% the risk of developing anal cancer

• substantially increases the likelihood of smoking, having mental health disorders (other than same-sex attraction), being the victim of “domestic” violence, and being involved in alcohol and drug abuse

• substantially increases the likelihood of contracting hepatitis and other gastrointestinal infections

• substantially increases the risk of contracting bacterial vaginosis, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer

• has high levels of participation in sadomasochism, coprophilia, sadomasochism, fisting, and other dangerous, deviant sex practices

• involves extraordinarily high levels of promiscuity

“Contracting breast cancer”?

RAP lists two references in relation to these scare tactics. One of them is “The Health Risks of Gay Sex” by John R. Diggs, M.D. The author is well known for using misleading “statistics” and more often than not basing seemingly “professional opinions” on personal beliefs and biases. Dr. Diggs and this particular article were the subject of “Medical Advice with Mixed Messages,” Parts I, II and III.

The other “source” is an article by Timothy J. Dailey, Ph. D. that appeared on the website of Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council. FRC is the faith-based ultra-conservative group that sponsored the theocracy-on-parade Justice Sunday events (JS I, JS II, JS III). At least they had the authenticity to add the following notation to Dailey’s article: “Please note: this article is an archived item on Family Research Council’s website; the information contained therein may be outdated.” Outdated and misleading, to be sure. But they forgot “homophobic.” The Risk Audit Project cited the article as if it were current research.

Some of what the Risk Audit Project considers dangerous includes “An anti-harassment, anti-bullying or ‘safe schools’ policy that includes the category ‘sexual orientation,’” “Non-discrimination policy based on ‘sexual orientation’ (may also cover ‘gender identity’) for students and/or teachers, staff,” “Requirements for teacher/ staff training on ‘diversity,’ ‘tolerance,’ ‘sensitivity,’” “Programs on tolerance, diversity, ‘hate’ or ‘bias,’” “Lessons on different types of families,” “HIV/AIDS and ‘safe sex’ education programs,” “Political Science/ History/Civics classes on current issues.”

That’s right. These homophobic McCarthyites consider “Political Science/ History/Civics classes on current issues” dangerous. God forbid students should be informed about current events and issues. After all, they’ll be old enough to vote after graduation or even during their senior year. But perhaps that’s the point: keep them uninformed so they’re more likely to accept platitudes and propaganda. Discrimination’s worst enemy is knowledge; bigotry’s, critical thinking.

Note the nature of the other things RAP considers dangerous: a safe learning environment for all students, equality among public school personnel and, of course, real-world sex education. Their “reasoning” on the last one defies all knowledge and logic: “These lessons assume all students are at risk of AIDS; that all students need to be taught about use of condoms for ‘safe sex.’” All sexually active students are at risk not only for HIV infection but a host of other STDs. Not informing them about condom use is nothing short of criminal.

Much of the Risk Audit form is designed to gather specific information about schools, principals, school board members, curricula, and extra-curricular options. All this information is then to be “turned in” so appropriate “action” can be taken.

One of Vitagliano’s primary targets in his article was Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs. As before, the Homo Hunter began his assault on “the problem of GSAs” with parental notification:

These clubs are often formed without parental notification or input. Kids who consider themselves homosexual – or straight kids who are sympathetic to the homosexual movement – simply have to approach school administrators and obtain permission. Because most schools allow the formation of non-academic student groups, federal equal access laws often require schools to allow GSAs.

Once these groups get started, students are allowed to gather regularly at school and promote their meetings and their views using the school’s public address system, bulletin boards and copy machines.

Would Mr. Vitagliano have the same concern about schools allowing students to form Christian clubs? How about Islamic clubs? Ethnic clubs? Racial clubs? Would he support racist parents who object to African-America clubs? Would he support parents whose religious bigotry would prompt them to object to Islamic, Buddhist, or Jewish clubs?

Recall one of Vitagliano’s opening statements in his article: “local schools are instituting policy changes that not only promote respect for homosexuality, but often even celebrate it. …” [italics added]

GSA clubs are dedicated to promoting respect for all students: the very thing that Vitagliano abhors. He wishes to promote disrespect and contempt by thwarting understanding and encouraging ignorance. One can only assume he’s supportive of the violence to which disrespect and contempt inevitably lead.

“Celebrate”? That’s Vitagliano’s spin meant to divide and conquer using the ignorance born of fear and hate. What he can’t bear is acknowledging the legitimacy of respect for all people. A similarly depraved “human being” used a similar point of view in his allegedly Christian campaign to purify his nation and rid it of “undesirables.” Mr. Vitagliano might even tacitly approve of the faith-based ideology in the Taliban’s recently issued “code of conduct” that includes “when to kill teachers” who propagate respect for all people. After all, recognizing every person’s basic human dignity and fundamental civil rights is anathema in both a fascist and a theofascist state.

Supporting Vitagliano in his campaigns is the founder and chairman of the American Family Association, Don Wildmon, who’s in the Schadenfreude business of hurting gay and lesbian families. Wildmon and the AFA are notorious for launching campaigns against any organization or company that supports equality. Their latest target is Sears. The company’s crime against Wildmon World is that “Sears Supports Homosexual TV Network With Advertising.”

The AFA’s leader’s “call to action” ended with urging his sheeple to

1. Send an email to Sears asking them to cancel their advertising on LOGO.

2. Call your local Sears store and ask why Sears is supporting the homosexual network with its advertising.

3. Forward this email to your friends and family.

LOGO is not a broadcast channel. In most cases, someone would have to subscribe to cable (often digital cable) or satellite TV in order to get LOGO, and both cable and satellite systems have “parental controls” that would enable subscribers to block the channel if they wanted to. But that’s not the point. Wildmon doesn’t want LOGO to exist or gay people to be recognized in any way.

Sears is only one of eighty national advertisers on LOGO. Some others include American Express, Intel, Kodak, Lexus, and Pepsi. One has to wonder why Wildmon singled out Sears. Could it be part of his overall strategy against major retailers?

Before Thanksgiving Wildmon’s American Family Association had called on Christian consumers to spend their dollars elsewhere as a sign of their displeasure with Wal-Mart’s pro-homosexual leanings, says the nation’s largest retailer is not just working with the homosexual agenda of the NGLCC [National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce], it is promoting it. As proof, AFA offers up examples of books available for purchase through Wal-Mart’s online bookstore – books the pro-family group contends support or defend homosexuality. …

In an “Action Alert” to its supporters on Monday (October 23), AFA identifies several book titles available through that it says relate to the promotion of homosexual marriage – among them are: What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage; Legalizing Gay Marriage; Gay Marriage and Democracy: Equality for All; Defending Same-Sex Marriage; and Gay Marriage, Real Life: Ten Stories of Love and Family.

In addition, AFA states it found (via a search function at more than 1,100 items for sale when the term “gay” was entered, almost 500 in response to the term “lesbian” …

How very appropriate AFA offered up “examples of books.” The Nazis also found books threatening, so threatening that they had to burn them.

Wildmon and the AFA were also angry with Wal-Mart for the company’s support for the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, for expanding its definition of “immediate family” to include an employee's same-sex partner, and for practicing workplace equality: all heinous crimes in Wildmon World.

Wildmon’s “Action Alert” about Sears ended with a one-sentence paragraph: “Sears is owned by Kmart Corporation.” His former Wal-Mart “Action Alert” prompted the more fanatical sheeple in the flock to launch a boycott of the retail chain. How long will it be until some “Christian leader,” prompted by Wildmon’s missive, calls for a boycott of Sears and Kmart Corporation?

Wildmon’s American Family Association thrives on such boycotts meant to hurt businesses – and the families they support – if the company treats all its employees equally and/or advocate civil equality for all Americans.

In a June 2, 2006 article carried by AFA’s propaganda organ Agape Press, supposedly “pro-family” Wildmon claimed that AFA’s boycott was hurting the Ford Motor Company. The “pro-family” designation is blatantly fraudulent, hypocritical and, in this case, nothing less than malevolent. How many families – including Christian and “traditional” ones – are adversely affecting by this “pro-family” boycott and the destructive social bigotry it inspires?

Does Wildmon and the AFA care?

Obviously they don’t give a damn.

That was made clear by Rev. Wildmon in his mid-June 2006 statement:

The American Family Association says that its boycott of Ford Motor Company over the automaker’s support for LGBT issues is having an impact.

“The boycott of Ford Motor Company is working! Sales of automobiles made by Ford dropped 2% in May,” AFA chair Donald E. Wildmon said in an email to supporters.

What kind of man, what kind of “Christian” would take pleasure – note Wildmon’s excited exclamation point – in hurting people and their families?

Mr. Vitagliano and Rev.Wildmon seem little more than pathetic caricatures of sick men who enjoy trying to hurt other people while hiding behind “religion.” As John Shelby Spong lamented, “Our society gives wide berth to obvious pathology when it is covered by religious language.”

The Right Reverend Spong is the retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark and author of fourteen books, including the bestsellers Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism and Why Christianity Must Change or Die. Both books – along with Rev. Spong’s essay “No Room for Compromise: Christianity’s integrity rides on how religious people deal with gay rights” – should be under Vitagliano’s and Wildmon’s “Christmas tree.”


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Gorilla Radio for Monday, December 11th, 2006

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - This Week on GR: Ottawa Citizen journalist and author, David Pugliese on Canada's changing military; author, Jill Franklin and surviving B.C.'s roads, and medical-legal-insurance systems; and, Janine Bandcroft brings us up to speed on some of the good things to get up to in and around Victoria in the coming week.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, 104.3 cable, and on the internet at: He also serves as a contributing editor at the progressive web news site: You can check out the GR blog at:

Gorilla Radio for Monday, December 11, 2006

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
December 10, 2006

The Canadian Forces assessment of this country's military "needs" over the next two decades is in, and though it took a Freedom of Access to Information demand to become public, Canadians now know what they and their children are in for: Wars and rumours of war, stretching into the foreseeable future.

David Pugliese is a reporter for the Canwest Global newspaper organ, the Ottawa Citizen, and author of the Canadian bestseller, Canada's Secret Commandos: The Unauthorized Story of Joint Task Force Two, and more recently, 'Shadow Forces: Special Forces in the New Battle Against Terrorism.'

David Pugliese and Canada's rapidly evolving military in the first half.

And; the coming carnage of Canada's military adventurism abroad holds barely a candle to the number of Canadians killed and maimed on this country's highways and byways every day; and the holiday season is especially deadly.

B. C., famous for its mountainous roads and oceanside vistas is particularly dangerous, with more than 60,000 British Columbians killed or injured in auto crashes every year.

Jill Franklin is a B.C.- based author whose titles include: 'The Promise of Paradise,' 'Death Comes Dancing,' Drunk on the Divine,' and 'The Ultimate Risk.' She's also the author of 'The Auto Accident Survivor's Guide for British Columbia,' written following her own near death experience.

Jill Franklin and surviving B.C.'s roads and insurance system in the second half.

And; Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with all that's good to do in and around Victoria in the coming week.

But first, David Pugliese and the Canadian Forces' marching orders for a new century.

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Some past guests include: M. Junaid Alam, M. Shahid Alam, Joel Bakan, Maude Barlow, David Barsamian, Rhoda Berenson, William Blum, Luciana Bohne, William Bowles, Vincent Bugliosi, Helen Caldicott, Noam Chomsky, Michel Chossudovsky, Diane Christian, Juan Cole, David Cromwell, Murray Dobbin, Jon Elmer, Reese Erlich, Anthony Fenton, Jim Fetzer, Laura Flanders, Chris Floyd, Connie Fogal, Susan George, Stan Goff, Amy Goodman, Robert Greenwald, Denis Halliday, Chris Hedges, Sander Hicks, Julia Butterfly Hill, Robert Jensen, Dahr Jamail, Diana Johnstone, Kathy Kelly, Naomi Klein, Anthony Lappe, Frances Moore Lappe, Jason Leopold, Jeff Leys, Dave Lindorff, Jim Lobe, Jennifer Loewenstein, Wayne Madsen, Stephen Marshall, Linda McQuaig, George Monbiot, Loretta Napoleoni, John Nichols, Kurt Nimmo, David Orchard, Greg Palast, Mike Palecek, Michael Parenti, Robert Parry, Kevin Pina, William Rivers Pitt, Justin Podur, Jack Random, Sheldon Rampton, Paul Craig Roberts, Paul de Rooij, John Ross, Danny Schechter, Vandana Shiva, Norman Solomon, Starhawk, Grant Wakefield, Paul Watson, Bernard Weiner, Mickey Z., Dave Zirin, and many others.

Stay informed. Subscribe and get the best of PEJ News by email. Free.