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Jan., Feb.


Pre-1999 - Duke Energy Employee Advocate

News - Page 2

"The President is not a panel." - Federal District Judge James Robertson,
ruling against Bush’s military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay - New York Times

The Black Art of "Master Illusions"
"How do wars begin? With a 'master illusion' "

The Rachel Corrie Case
"Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer on March 16, 2003"

Western District of North Carolina Sheriffs Bribed

Employee Advocate - – August 10, 2007

This Associated Press Article was published by The Charlotte Observer on August 9, 2007:

Sheriffs implicated in gambling probe

Mike Baker, Associated Press

RALEIGH -- At least two county sheriffs in Western North Carolina accepted cash bribes to protect an illegal gambling business, the man accused of being the ringleader told an undercover investigator, according to court papers.

James Otis Henderson, 42, is one of several defendants charged by federal prosecutors with operating an illegal gambling business and bribery of a law enforcement official, among other charges.

Rutherford County Sheriff Jack Conner was working with federal authorities in December 2006 when he agreed to take $10,000 from Henderson, according to court papers filed Tuesday. Henderson had asked Conner to provide protection for houses where he located his video poker machines, and agreed to pay Conner an additional $1,000 per month, the documents say.

Henderson told Conner during a videotaped conversation that other sheriffs in nearby counties were also taking bribes, according to a judge's order to detain Henderson pending trial. He said one sheriff wanted $100 per machine per month for protection, while another sought monthly installments.

"The acts of the defendant show involvement in a widespread criminal conspiracy which has the potential to corrupt the criminal justice system in the Western District of North Carolina and this state," wrote U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis Howell.

Henderson, of Inman, S.C., operated Henderson Amusement Inc. with his brother, Barron Sloan Henderson, 43, of Lyman, S.C. Barron Sloan Henderson is charged with operating an illegal gambling business and witness tampering, among other charges.

James Henderson's attorney, Thomas Boggs, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

North Carolina began to phase out video poker machines last year, and they became illegal July 1. When the machines were legal, operators could place a maximum of three machines at a single location, and the most a player could win was $10 in merchandise.

In an indictment unsealed last week, federal prosecutors allege the video poker ring earned $5 million in seven years and often paid out jackpots worth thousands of dollars.

Among those also indicted are two former Buncombe County sheriff's deputies, both charged with conspiracy in connection with the gambling operation.

Prosecutors said Henderson regularly paid Capt. Guy Kenneth Penland, 75, for help in protecting the business. On or about May 16, 2005, Penland helped check the license plate number of an FBI agent who had been surveilling a Henderson location in Cleveland County, according to the indictment.

Lt. Ronnie Eugene "Butch" Davis, 60, used his Sheriff's Office vehicle to bring Henderson to a meeting with a laundromat owner who agreed after the meeting to operate video poker machines at his business, the indictment said.

Neither Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan, who took office in November, nor his predecessor, Bobby Medford, are named in the indictment or the court papers.

A message left with the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office was not immediately returned.

Suellen Pierce, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Department of Justice in Charlotte, declined to comment on Wednesday, saying the case remains under investigation.

NC DMV Corruption Probe

Deliberate Attack on Journalist Charged

Employee Advocate – – March 6, 2005

This article was published by the AFP and Turkish Press.

Published: 3/5/2005

ROME - The companion of freed Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena on Saturday leveled serious accusations at US troops who fired at her convoy as it was nearing Baghdad airport, saying the shooting had been deliberate.

"The Americans and Italians knew about (her) car coming," Pier Scolari said on leaving Rome's Celio military hospital where Sgrena is to undergo surgery following her return home.

"They were 700 meters (yards) from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints."

The shooting late Friday was witnessed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office which was on the phone with one of the secret service agents, said Scolari. "Then the US military silenced the cellphones," he charged.

"Giuliana had information, and the US military did not want her to survive," he added.

When Sgrena was kidnapped on February 4 she was writing an article on refugees from Fallujah seeking shelter at a Baghdad mosque after US forces bombed the former Sunni rebel stronghold.

Sgrena told RaiNews24 television Saturday a "hail of bullets" rained down on the car taking her to safety at Baghdad airport, along with three secret service agents, killing one of them.

"I was speaking to (agent) Nicola Calipari (...) when he leant on me, probably to protect me, and then collapsed and I realized he was dead," said Sgrena, who was being questioned on Saturday by two Italian magistrates.

"They continued shooting and the driver couldn't even explain that we were Italians. It was really horrible," she added.

Sgrena, who was hospitalized with serious wounds to her left shoulder and lung after arriving back in Rome Saturday before noon, said she was "exhausted because of what happened above all in the last 24 hours".

"After all the risks I have been running I can say that I'm fine," she said.

"I thought that after I was handed over to the Italians danger was over, but then this shooting broke out and we were hit by a hail of bullets."

The chief editor of Sgrena's left-wing newspaper Il Manifesto Gabriele Polo meanwhile branded Calipari's death a "murder".

"He was hit in the head," he said.

Calipari will be given a state funeral Monday.

Ellen E. Schultz and Theo Francis Win Award

Employee Advocate – – February 28, 2005

The Wall Street Journal reported that Ellen E. Schultz and Theo Francis are among the winners of the George Polk Awards for excellence in journalism in 2004. Their article, "Financial Surgery: How Cuts in Retiree Benefits Fatten Companies' Bottom Lines," took the award for economic reporting.

The reporters exposed how corporations exaggerated the cost of retiree health care and are profiting by cutting benefits. No, it was not just your imagination.

Ellen E. Schultz has won awards for exposing the skullduggery of cash balance pension plans.

Ellen E. Schultz Wins More Awards!

The New Iraq

Employee Advocate – – November 27, 2004

Before G. W. Bush ordered the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s picture could be found everywhere. He may have had a bit of an ego problem. He certainly did not want anyone to forget who the leader was. Such outlandish propaganda is standard operation for repressive regimes. Did anyone think that such displays would be coming to America this soon?

Billboards proclaiming G. W. Bush as “Our Leader” have started to appear in Orlando, according to The billboards are billed as a “political public service message brought to you by Clear Channel Outdoor.”

The Orlando Sentinel published this letter of concern from Orlando resident, resident Dianna Lawson:

“The first thing I thought was, when was the last time I have seen a president on a billboard? Didn’t Saddam Hussein have his picture up everywhere? What next, a statue?”

Orlando Sentinel Letters Editor Dixie Tate said that the letter would not have been printed if it were not true. Sentinel reporters have verified the existence of the billboards.

Common Cause Vice President for Advocacy Celia Wexler said “I think it sort of exemplifies the fact that big media companies are going to do all they can to stay on the good side of the administration because they’re very concerned about any efforts in Congress to challenge their ownership. Clear Channel has a history of weighing in in controversial ways that don’t respect the diversity of opinion. It is in keeping with Clear Channel’s vision of the world which is to not take seriously an effort to serve the public interest or be non-partisan”

The New Saddam

Hanging Toes for Frye

San Diego Union-Tribune – by Terry Rodgers – November 25, 2004

(November 23, 2004) Donna Frye's stunning write-in bid to become mayor of San Diego has been closely watched by surfers far and wide.

While Frye is not the first member of the "tribe" to gain political prominence, the momentum behind her grass-roots-driven campaign was as surprising as a south swell in December.

The story of Frye's unexpectedly strong challenge for the city's top office has been covered by CNN, National Public Radio, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Good Morning America, the Guardian in England and more.

"Donna is now America's best-known citizen surfer. She's an inspiration to us all," said Donald W. Gallagher, a surfer and teacher from Lititz, Pa.

Gallagher spearheaded the campaign that resulted in the U.S. Postal Service issuing a stamp in 2002 honoring the father of modern surfing, Duke Kahanamoku. He heard about Frye's remarkable run on television and National Public Radio.

"Like the Duke, Donna best represents the free spirit of surfing and the generous spirit of surfing," he said. "It's what Hawaiians called a 'chicken skin' moment when I begin to feel the winds of change creating the next wave of activism in America."

Frye's mayoral bid has been a hot topic on surfing-related chat rooms and list serve services, subscription on-line forums for exchange of ideas, said Matt McClain, communications director for the Surfrider Foundation headquartered in San Clemente.

"It's definitely striking a chord," McClain said. "The attraction for surfers is on two levels: It validates us as enthusiasts of the sport. Also, surfers are attracted to the grass-roots aspect of it."

Surfers are individualists. They admire the notion of one person making a difference against great odds.

"Win or lose, it shows the political influence that is out there in the surfing community," said Dave Rullo, a surfer and musician from Pacific Grove. "I never thought that something like this could happen."

Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, whose real-life adventures as a teen-aged surfer in Malibu inspired her father to write the Gidget books and screenplays, said she's been cheering on Frye from her home in Pacific Palisades near Los Angeles.

"My head truly turned, realizing what a big-hearted woman she is, open to all causes, embracing the past and present in her rise to make all of us feel that she truly cares," Gidget said.

Even from as far away as Australia, former world surfing champion Robert "Nat" Young has been watching the vote tally with anticipation.

"Whether we like it or not, life and surfing are politics," Young said. "Donna should be the mayor because she would have a better rapport with the people."

Author and magazine editor Chris Ahrens of Encinitas said he views Donna as the unofficial leader of the "Blue Party," a conceptual voting bloc made up of surfers, kayakers, swimmers, anglers and others who treasure the ocean. "She's our patron saint," Ahrens said. "She looks out for us."

For the record, Frye, the wife of surfing legend Skip Frye, has surfed sparingly during the past decade. But she does know how.

"I prefer warm water and small surf," she said.

But her absence from the lineup has been well spent crusading for cleaner conditions for everyone else's water time.

Numerous news stories have erroneously stated that Donna is the co-owner of a surf shop. Harrys – the surf shop Skip and Donna operated for 10 years in Pacific Beach – closed in 2000 when a motel developer bought the property on Felspar Street.

Skip is a devout, born-again Christian who wants to save your soul; Donna's mission is to save the world.

A few news stories contain discreet language intended to stereotype and discredit Donna as a flaky liberal lightweight. These reports refer to Frye as a "surfer chick" and "surf shop owner" and downplay the fact she's an elected member of the San Diego City Council.

"When they try to use my connection to surfing as a way to denigrate an entire community, I feel a need to stand up and defend who the surfing community is," Frye said. "They don't understand that we're a close-knit family that cares. We come from all walks of life."

"I'm proud to be part of the surfing community. It's a large part of who I am. That's my family."

Surfer Girl Politician

Motion to Impeach Blair

Employee Advocate – – November 8, 2004

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been accused of "gross misconduct" in a draft of a parliamentary motion, according to the The Independent. A committee is called for to investigate the "conduct of the PM in relation to the war in Iraq."

"Articles of impeachment" would be drawn up by the committee. Blair would be judged by a panel of law lords on whether he deliberately misled the nation by following G. W. Bush into an unlawful war. Blair will be arrested by parliament's Sergeant at Arms if found guilty.

23 members of parliament have already signed up to support the motion. Tony Blair is not the ring leader of the Iraq war, but this motion is a start toward justice.

Arrested for Spamming

Employee Advocate – – December 13, 2003

Two North Carolina men were nabbed for spamming, according to the Associated Press. Jeremy Jaynes and Gaven Stubberfield are facing 20 years in prison.

Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore said that each face “four felony counts of transmission of unsolicited bulk electronic mail.”

The arrests were made under Virginia's antispam law. Congress has recently passed federal antispam legislation.

200 Sucked Out of Plane – by Robert Jobson – May 9, 2003

At least 200 passengers are feared dead after they were sucked out of a plane at 7,000 feet when a door opened.

The Russian-made aircraft suffered a catastrophic loss of cabin pressure which caused a "terrifying vacuum" while flying over Congo.

The pilot managed to land the plane but none of the passengers who had boarded were left.

"Everything inside was sucked out and the passengers did not have a chance," said an aviation official in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa. He added: "Everybody is presumed dead."

The plane had been chartered by the Congolese army to fly from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi, Congo's second biggest city which is home to a large military base.

The IL-76 military transport aircraft was being used to carry army personnel and their families.

Congo's minister for peace, Vital Kamerhe, confirmed that a cargo door had opened. An official said: "The pressure system broke down. There was a dramatic de-pressurisation."

The IL-76 is a medium-range aircraft, also known by its Nato codename Candid. It was developed for transporting cargo, dropping paratroopers and moving troops and military hardware.

It has huge doors which appear to have failed in the disaster on the flight out of Kinshasa. The four-engined Il-76 is a versatile transport aircraft widely used in Africa, the Middle East, India and China. It remains in service despite its age because of the shortage of cargo aircraft worldwide.

If You Don't Like Him - Whack Him

Employee Advocate – – April 12, 2003

AFP reports that Pakistan is a prime case for pre-emptive strikes by India. Hey, G. W. Bush said that such things are okay!

Colin Powell mentioned the U.S. interceding to cool tensions. This statement seems a bit hypocritical after all the warmongering Powell has done against Iraq, and for the very same reason!

India has said the magic words. They suspect that Pakistan has “weapons of mass destruction and terrorists.” Either country could play the WMD card, since they both are capable of delivering a nuclear strike.

Under G. W. Bush’s rules of engagement, if you suspect your neighbor has WMD, you whack him. If you want regime change, you whack him.

With the “if you don't like him, whack him” foreign policy, Bush has zero credibility to broker peace between other nations. There are already scores of other nations just looking for an excuse to whack their neighbors.

Bush has given the green light to preemptive military strikes. Pandora’s Box is now wide open.

Did Bush Train Texas Governor?

Employee Advocate – – April 12, 2003

Did G. W. Bush, the ex-governor of Texas, train the present governor? Bush has cut heating grants during a very cold winter, while proposing more tax cuts for the wealthy.

Texas Governor Rick Perry has proposed cuts in services to the disabled, according to the Associated Press. In fact, twenty-five disabled activists went to the governor’s office to ask that he pledge not to cut the services. While the lieutenant governor met with the group briefly, the governor refused to see them. He did offer to make an appointment in the future.

The group decided to wait until the governor had time to see them. They never did get to see the governor. The, mostly wheel-chair bound, people did get arrested or were issued summonses for their efforts.

Those arrested were unfazed. One of those arrested, a cerebral palsy victim, said "It beats dying in a nursing home."

American Peace Activist Shot

Associated Press – April 6, 2003

JERUSALEM - An American peace activist working as a human shield in the West Bank was seriously wounded on Saturday when Israeli troops allegedly opened fire on him.

Brian Avery, 24, from Albuquerque, N.M., heard shots fired and came out of his apartment building in Jenin to investigate just as an armored personnel carrier rounded a corner, said Tobias Karlsson, a fellow activist from Sweden.

Both Avery and Karlsson are members of the Palestinian-backed group International Solidarity Movement.

"We had our hands up and we were wearing vests that clearly identified us as international workers when they began firing," Tobias said. "Brian was shot in the face, and it looks like he was hit by a heavy caliber bullet because of the extent of the wound."

Avery was taken to a Jenin hospital but will be transferred to an Israeli hospital. There was no immediate comment from the army.

Tobias said he, Avery and a Palestinian medical worker not with the group were approached slowly by the troops and stood with their hands up for about 10 minutes. There was no communication with the soldiers, who Tobias says fired unprovoked.

Avery was semiconscious when taken in the ambulance, Tobias said. There were few Palestinians on the streets Saturday because of a curfew Israeli troops were enforcing.

Another American member of the group was killed on March 16 while trying to stop an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip. She fell in front of the machine, which ran over her and then backed up, witnesses said.

Israeli officials are still investigating the bulldozer incident that killed 23-year-old Rachel Corrie, a student at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

'Dead Bodies are Everywhere'

Sydney Morning Herald - – March 22, 2003

Herald Correspondent Lindsay Murdoch, travelling with a Marines artillery unit, reports on one of the war's first battles on the Iraq-Kuwait border.

There was little initial resistance as the United States Marines swept into southern Iraq early yesterday. One of the first encounters of the ground war was more like a massacre than a fight.

The Iraqi gunners fired first, soon after United States President George Bush announced the attack on Saddam Hussein was under way.

It was a fatal mistake.

The Iraqi artillery unit, preparing for the American invasion, had tested the range by firing registering shots at a likely spot where the American tanks would cross from Kuwait. US radar picked up the incoming shells and pinpointed their source.

Within hours, the Iraqi gunners and their Russian-made 122mm howitzers were destroyed as the Americans unleashed an artillery barrage that shook the ground and lit up the night sky with orange flashes.

"Dead bodies are everywhere," a US officer reported by radio.

Later in the day, the American firepower was turned on Safwan Hill, an Iraqi military observation post a couple of kilometres across the border. About six hours after US marines and their 155mm howitzer guns pulled up at the border, they opened up with a deafening barrage. Safwan Hill went up in a huge fireball and the Iraqi observation post was obliterated.

"I pity anybody who's in there," a marine sergeant said. "We told them to surrender."

The destruction of Safwan Hill was a priority for the attacking forces because it had sophisticated surveillance equipment near the main highway that runs from Kuwait up to Basra and then Baghdad. The attacking US and British forces could not attempt to cross the border unless it was destroyed.

Marine Cobra helicopter gunships firing Hellfire missiles swept in low from the south. Then the marine howitzers, with a range of 30 kilometres, opened a sustained barrage over the next eight hours. They were supported by US Navy aircraft which dropped 40,000 pounds of explosives and napalm, a US officer told the Herald.

A legal expert at the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva said the use of napalm or fuel air bombs was not illegal "per se" because the US was not a signatory to the 1980 weapons convention which prohibits and restricts certain weapons. "But the US has to apply the basic principles of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and take all precautions to protect civilians. In the case of napalm and fuel air bombs, these are special precautions because these are area weapons, not specific weapons," said Dominique Loye, the committee's adviser on weapons and IHL.

When dawn broke on Safwan Hill, all that could be seen on top of it was a single antenna amid the smoke. The marines then moved forward, their officers saying they were determined to push on as quickly as possible for Baghdad.

The first air strike on Baghdad, and Mr Bush's announcement that the war was under way, appeared to catch US officers in the Kuwait desert by surprise.

The attack was originally planned for early today. But the US officers did not seem worried.

Within hours of Mr Bush's announcement, a vast army of tanks, trucks, bulldozers and heavy guns was surging through the dust of the Kuwaiti desert to positions on Iraq's border.

Several Killed in Middle East Protests

AFP – March 22, 2003

SANAA (AFP) - Chanting anti-American slogans, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of cities across the Middle East after Friday prayers for a second day of demonstrations against the US-led war on Iraq.

The biggest protests on this Muslim holy day were in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, where at least two demonstrators were killed in clashes, and in the Palestinian territories.

Equally fiery rallies in support of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein were held in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria and in the West Bank.

Tens of thousands of angry demonstrators marched on the US embassy in Sanaa, chanting slogans against the United States, Israel, and Arab leaders as US and British forces continued their advance into Iraq.

"Leave office and open the door to jihad!" they shouted, calling for Arab governments to let them fight a holy war alongside Iraqi forces. "Death to America! Death to Israel!"

The Yemeni interior ministry said two demonstrators were killed in clashes with police, and 23 people -- including 14 policemen -- hurt.

But police said earlier that three protestors and a policeman were killed, adding that some protestors were armed.

In the West Bank and Gaza Strip almost 30,000 Palestinians took to the streets, many calling on Saddam to bomb Tel Aviv.

In the Gaza Strip, 15,000 people protested in the refugee camps of Jabalya, Rafah and Khan Yunis while an imam in Gaza City called for the "opening of the borders" for Arab volunteers to go and fight with the Iraqi army.

In the West Bank city of Nablus some 5,000 people marched through the streets after the Israeli army lifted the curfew for the day, chanting slogans such as "America, the mother of terrorism."

Palestinians also rallied in the refugee camps of Ain El-Helweh in southern Lebanon, Yarmouk near Damascus and Wihdat in Amman.

In Ain El-Helweh around 2,000 protestors burned British, Israeli and US flags, while those of Germany and France, the leading Western opponents of the war, flew between the Iraqi and Palestinian flags.

In Cairo, more than 50 people were injured and hundreds arrested as riot police clashed with several thousand anti-war demonstrators, according to the lawyers' union said. Among the injured were two opposition MPs.

The demonstrations moved to the city center after kicking off after Friday prayers at the historic Al-Azhar mosque.

In central Cairo Qasr el-Nil avenue clashes broke out when demonstrators hurled stones at anti-riot police, who responded with baton charges. Public demonstrations are banned in Egypt, but tolerated at mosques and universities.

Anti-war activists said some 80 people were arrested, while witnesses said many of those detained were involved in the clashes and were hurt.

Earlier at Al-Azhar mosque, as many as 4,000 worshippers chanted "Down with America," "Allah Akbar (God is great)," and "Victory to Iraq", while some clambered onto the roof to hurl stones, shoes and rubbish at the security forces. Police said 10 people were injured in the clashes.

In Jordan, thousands of demonstrators clashed with security forces in the southern Jordanian town of Maan, an Islamist stronghold with a history of violent anti-government protests.

Chanting "With our blood and our soul we will support you, Saddam", they rained a barrage of stones on line of police lines, who replied with a volley of tear gas, witnesses said.

Hundreds of people also took to the streets of the capital Amman and the northern city of Irbid, despite a government ban on unauthorized rallies.

In Beirut, police clashed with some 1,000 students using water cannons to prevent them from marching on the US embassy. The demonstrators and police hurled stones at each other, and several people were seen being treated by members of the Red Cross for injuries.

Police used tear gas to disperse the protestors, some of whom were wearing gas masks.

"Death to America! Death to Bush!" shouted the students. Similar slogans were heard at the Qatari and Kuwaiti embassies where 400 people gathered in all to blast the two Arab states for hosting US forces in the Gulf.

In the Bahraini capital Manama a few hundred young demonstrators hurled stones at police forces that were protecting the US embassy.

Police responded with tear gas, forcing the protestors to disperse briefly, before regrouping to hurl more stones. The standoff took place despite an appeal for calm by King Hamad on Thursday.

Both the US and British embassies said they would be closed Saturday. Some 5,000 Americans, most of them military personnel, live in Bahrain.

In the Sudanese capital Khartoum, thousands marched through the streets after prayers and attempted to approach the US embassy. However, they were prevented by a heavy presence of security forces as well as road closures.

"No American embassy in Sudan!" they shouted, while earlier several clerics told the faithful to show support for Iraq.

Iraq Will Appeal to the U. N.

Associated Press – by Edith M. Lederer – March 21, 2003

UNITED NATIONS - Iraq said Thursday it will ask the U.N. Security Council to respond to the U.S.-led war, calling it an illegal act by a "terrorist state."

Iraq also demanded the United States be held accountable before international tribunals - including the International Criminal Court, which the Bush administration opposes - for trying to target Saddam Hussein with its first missile strikes of the war early Thursday.

"Yesterday, the United States acted as a terrorist state by attempting to assassinate the leadership of a member state of the United Nations," it said.

In its first statement since President Bush launched military action Wednesday night, Iraq's U.N. Mission urged all countries to condemn the war and people around the world to demonstrate against "colonialism, domination and imperialism."

Iraq accused President Bush of using "a bunch of lies" in his declaration of war, saying he wants to free the Iraqi people "while it has been clear to all the world that he wants to free the Iraqi oil wells."

Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri said he doesn't know when he will ask for a Security Council meeting because he wants to consult with his government, the Arab League, the Non-Aligned Movement of 115 mainly developing countries, and other colleagues.

He said his communications with Baghdad "are disturbed completely" and that he is waiting for a letter from Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He said the letter will brand the onset of war "a violation of international law."

Syria's deputy U.N. ambassador Fayssal Mekdad said: "If they request a public debate, I'm sure a lot of countries will support it."

The Security Council remained divided over the U.S. rush to disarm Iraq militarily rather than allow U.N. weapons inspections to continue for a few months to see if Saddam could be disarmed peacefully.

Annan issued a statement saying his thoughts were with the Iraqi people, facing their third war in a quarter-century.

He lamented the council split and pledged to do his "utmost" ensure that the United Nations again becomes the place where problems shared by humanity are solved and where power is "harnessed to legitimacy."

In a letter to the Security Council circulated Thursday, Annan called for money from Iraqi oil sales to be used to buy food and medicine for the Iraqi people and war refugees.

But he stressed that the "primary responsibility" for humanitarian assistance "rests with the authority exercising effective control in Iraq" - which will almost certainly be the United States.

Delta Force on Mission to Kill Saddam

Times Online (UK) - Tim Reid in Washington - March 20, 2003

ELITE teams of US Delta Force commandos have been inside Iraq for weeks and are preparing to descend on Baghdad with the objective of capturing or killing President Saddam Hussein, US defence officials said yesterday.

Small, highly mobile units picked from the US Army’s most revered and secretive fighting force have been assigned a key mission of the war: to hunt down Saddam, his two sons and at least a “dirty dozen” of Iraq’s top military and civilian leaders.

The Delta Force, the US equivalent of the British SAS, has 306 men. It has been training for several years with the CIA for the specific mission of hunting down the Iraqi leader, officials said.

Last night they were being mobilised to infiltrate Baghdad and Saddam’s home city of Tikrit to begin the hunt.

As plans were revealed to drop the commandos from Black Hawk helicopters to sites outside Baghdad, it became clear that, if US forces locate Saddam, the likelihood is that they will kill him and his closest henchmen rather than capture them.

“The expectation is to kill him within days (of the start of the war),” a Pentagon official said.“It’s what Delta has been training 24/7 to do.”

Assassinating a foreign leader runs counter to a 1976 executive order signed by President Ford. But White House officials cite international law, which states that, once a war begins, there are no limits on military actions against enemy leaders. Saddam, as Commander-in-Chief of Iraq’s Armed Forces, is a legitimate target, they say.

CIA operatives have been photographing and spying on Saddam’s numerous presidential compounds, while US spy satellites take daily pictures of the Iraqi leader’s suspected hideouts. Some of the most detailed information on his possible whereabouts, Pentagon officials said, is coming from Jordanian intelligence.

Saddam will prove a highly elusive prey, however. During the 1991 Gulf War, allied aircraft bombed 260 “leadership targets”, including underground bunkers, command centres and offices, but failed to touch him.

The Iraqi leader, who has at least three surgically enhanced body doubles, spent 38 nights of Operation Desert Storm hiding in the homes of ordinary families, never staying in the same place twice, a tactic that he is likely to repeat.

He also claims to have more than 400 hideouts in Baghdad, homes and apartment buildings indistinguishable from ordinary Iraqi residences. The US commandos are preparing to conduct house-to-house searches for him, officials said.

In Baghdad, a city of more than five million people, Saddam has a dozen presidential compounds, connected with tunnels built by Yugoslav experts who built a network of underground hideouts for Marshal Tito during the Cold War. Saddam also has several unmarked lorries in which he can live for days at a time.

The Iraqi leader views himself as an indefatigable survivor, emerging unscathed from at least seven domestic assassination attempts, a CIA-sponsored coup attempt and the 1991 Gulf War. Jerrold Post, an expert at George Washington University, puts the chances of him fleeing in the face of a US-led attack as “between zero and none”.

The first job of the Delta Force commandos will be to isolate Saddam from his military commanders. As soon as they arrive, they plan to hack into and shut down Iraq’s communications and power facilities using laptop computers.

They hope to prevent Saddam from communicating with senior officers who might help him to escape or might be awaiting orders to use chemical or biological weapons.

Pentagon officials concede that the best chances of finding him lie with informants. “We’ve been trying to track Saddam down since the beginning of the Gulf War, without success,” retired Marine Lieutenant Gregory Newbold said.

Peter Singer, a Washington-based Iraqi expert said: “He carries a gun, is always surrounded by armed bodyguards and will not want to be captured. The order is not to risk US lives to capture him alive. But it could take a very, very long time to find him.”

If Saddam is captured, he will be tried for war crimes, although the forum has not yet been decided on. The likely choice is between the International Criminal Court in the Hague, a body the US has refused to recognise, or a military tribunal set up by the US.

One advantage of a prosecution is the mass of damning evidence that would emerge, justifying the invasion.

Michael Vickers, a former Special Forces officer now with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis, a Washington think-tank that specializes in military affairs, said: “A lot’s going to happen in a very compressed time.”

With fears high that if Iraq strikes Israel or US forces it will be with chemical or biological weapons, the hunt for Scuds and weapons of mass destruction is a top priority, Mr Vickers added.

News - Page 1