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February 20, 2006

IS U.S. SECRETLY SENDING ARMS TO RWANDA?

Pentagon_1 Yesterday's Times of London carried an article, "U.S. Military Planes Criss-Cross Europe Using Bogus Call Sign," that raises several questions, including the possibility that these Pentagon planes were ferrying arms to the genocide-scarred nation of Rwanda, although the European Union has been outlawing such shipments by its member states. The planes may also have been used to transport prisoners to the CIA's secret prisons in Eastern Europe. Said the Times special investigative report:

"The American military have been operating flights across Europe using a call sign assigned to a civilian airline that they have no legal right to use. Not only is the call sign bogus — according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) — so, it appears, are some of the aircraft details the Americans have filed with the air traffic control authorities.

"In at least one case, a plane identified with the CIA practice of “extraordinary rendition” — transporting terrorist suspects — left a US air base just after the arrival of an aircraft using the bogus call sign.... [which] for several years and as recently as last December...has been used selectively by both the American air force and army to cover the flights of aircraft to and from the Balkans.....[Those aircraft include the] MC-130P Combat Shadows (below left)Pentagon_armsferry_plane_mc_130p , which are specially adapted for clandestine missions in politically sensitive or hostile territory....."

"On December 11, 2004, USAFE in Ramstein filed a flight plan for a Learjet 35 to fly from Tuzla to Aviano. The flight plan was copied to 15 addressees including Tuzla airport, Aviano airport and a mysterious recipient labelled 'xxxxxxxx”' The aircraft’s identity was given as JGO 80, the flight was a Learjet 35 operated by the Department of Defence and the registration was 99999E. The status of the flight was given as 'humanitarian'. But it was also given as 'state', which means government, and as 'protected', which means diplomatic.

"During the time the plane was in the air, USAFE changed some of the flight plan timings and at the same time the registration changed. The aircraft metamorphosed into 40112E but continued to be a Learjet 35 and was  still JGO 80 and a humanitarian, government and diplomatic flight. While the Learjet was on the ground at Tuzla, an Ilyushin 76 was loading a cargo of 45 tons of surplus weapons and ammunition sold off by the Bosnian military and destined for Rwanda in defiance of a UN embargo.The Ilyushin left Tuzla, flew over Italy and headed south in the direction of Africa. The American Learjet took off 55 minutes later.

"In a report exposing arms trafficking to war-torn central Africa, Amnesty International Amnesty_inernational_logo has suggested that “US security authorities were engaged in a covert operation to ferry arms to Rwanda in the face of political opposition from the European Union.....”. There's a lot more detail in the Times article, which you can read in its entirety by clicking here.

A FORGOTTEN STORY OF SEXUAL McCARTHYISM Today's Joel_dorius New York Times carries an obituary of former Smith College professor Joel Dorius (left) -- victim of a celebrated case of sexual McCcarthyism during the Eisenhower administration -- who has just died at 87. The Times quotes one of Dorius' friends: "Father Crowley, a Jesuit priest who is chairman of the religious studies department at Santa Clara University in California.... recalling an era when civil liberties were trampled and careers ruined by hard laws and public attitudes toward gay people, [said:] 'Younger folks can't imagine how different the world was not so long ago, and the price people paid.' Joel and his generation suffered ignominies, but have made life easier for those who follow after them.'"

Says the Times: "On Sept. 2, 1960, when three state troopers, a local police officer and a United States postal inspector raided the home of a colleague, Newton Arvin, 60, and found boxes of 'beefcake' magazines and pictures of men — illegal pornography then, but much of it like today's Calvin Klein underwear ads — and diaries detailing 20 years of his closeted gay life.

"Under interrogation, Mr. Arvin — a professor of American literature at Smith, winner Edmund_wilson Truman_capote_at_time_of_1st_book of the 1951 National Book Award for his biography of Herman Melville, a friend of the critics Edmund Wilson (right) and Malcolm Cowley and a former lover of Truman Capote (left, in the photo that adorned the jacket of Capote''s first book) — named names, including those of Mr. Dorius and Edward Spofford, both untenured Smith professors. Their homes were raided, too — Mr. Dorius was away at the time — and more materials deemed pornographic were found. (Below right, Dorius, Arvin, and Spofford)Dorius_arvin_spofford_2

"The raids were part of a crackdown on obscenity in the mails by President Arthur_e_summerfield Eisenhower's postmaster general, Arthur E. Summerfield (right), whose ban on 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' was overturned by the courts. The authorities raided warehouses, seized publications and then went after people on the mailing lists.

Arvin_beefcake "In an era when homosexuality was widely viewed as an abomination — criminal, sinful and a mental disease — but accepted on many college campuses as long as it did not surface publicly, the arrests crossed the line, and Smith suspended the three professors. Mr. Arvin was later allowed to retire at half-pay, but, despite faculty protests, the contracts of Mr. Dorius and Mr. Spofford were not renewed. All three, and four other men named by Mr. Arvin, were charged with possessing pornography, and Mr. Arvin was charged with being lewd and lascivious. (Left and right, examples of theArvin_beefcake_ii  "pornography" for which Newton Arvin was arrested in 1960. Two years later the material was deemed "not obscene"--and therefore not illegal-- though "dismally unpleasant, uncouth, and tawdry," by the U.S. Supreme Court." -- D.I.) Under pressure by the prosecution, Mr. Arvin testified against the others and received a one-year suspended sentence. He suffered a breakdown, committed himself to a mental hospital and died in 1963...."  In 2002, Smith College established scholarship funds in the names of Arvin, Dorius, and Spofford. You can read the entire New York Times obit of Dorius by clicking here.

GUANTANAMO VS. TREATMENT OF WW II PRISONERS The Nation's UN Ian_williams_4 correspondent, Ian Williams (left), on his blog  today has a meditation comparing the treatment of prisoners in World War II and the treatment of the Guantanamo detainees today. He disinters a quote from the Nuremburg war crimes trials' verdict on German General Alfred Jodl on the shackling of Allied POWs and other mistreatments of prisoners: "'Nonetheless the Allied judges concluded, 'Participation in such crimes as these has never beenAnguish_of_surrender_book_jacket  required of any soldier and he cannot now shield himself behind a mythical requirement of soldierly obedience at all costs as his excuse for commission of these crimes.' Jodl was hanged in 1946. Bush was re-elected President in 2004." Read all of Ian's excellent post -- including a review of Ulrich Strauss's new book on Japanese prisoner treatment by the U.S. entitled The Anguish of Surrender (right) -- by clicking here.

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