The Acts of the Democracies
Before the invasion of Iraq, the USA spent 43% of the world's military spending. The proposed military budget for 2004 is $ 401,300 million
During 2003 and 2004 that USA suspended military aid to 35 countries that have failed to sign agreements giving USA citizens immunity from prosecution before the International Criminal Court, created to try war crimes.
In September 2004, over 600 citizens of 42 nations were being held in Guantanamo Bay, a USA military base in Cuba. Some detainees had been held for three years without proper access to legal representation and were being denied prisoner of war status. Some of the UK citizens were eventually allowed access to lawyers but these were not allowed to discuss their visits.
Human rights groups have consistently criticised conditions in Guantanamo Bay and have stated that the detentions are illegal. Detainees have been handcuffed, shackled and there have been numerous reports of torture. 32 inmates have attempted suicide.
The USA plans military tribunals for the detainees. Human rights groups condemn the hearings as unfair and in violation of the Geneva Conventions: "We're concerned that the military commission rules lack key fair-trial protection. Under these rules, the military serves as prosecutor, judge, jury, appeals court and, potentially, even as executioner. The commission rules do not create a level playing field. The military commissions offer no possibility for independent appeal, no matter how serious the error. A fair system of justice provides an opportunity for trial mistakes to be corrected through independent review."
The defendant or their lawyers have no right to see evidence used by the prosecution plus all conversations will be monitored. Information obtained by torture will be allowed.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) publishes a report in December. The report confirms that the USA military have intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion "tantamount to torture" on prisoners in Guant�namo Bay. The report concludes that the USA military has developed a system to break the will of prisoners through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions.The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture."
The report continues doctors and other medical workers in Guant�namo Bay were participating in planning for interrogations in "a flagrant violation of medical ethics. Doctors and medical personnel conveyed information about prisoners' mental health and vulnerabilities to interrogators to assist in information-gathering .
The population of the USA is 5% of the world's total. The country uses 25% of the world's oil and is ranked first in emissions of carbon dioxide, the gas that is responsible for global warming. In comparison, the UK with 2% of the world's population uses 2% of its oil.
The USA refuses to ratify the Kyoto Agreement which is designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. The USA Vice President, Dick Cheney, has set up the Energy Task Force to study the problem. The 63 member group includes 62 representatives with ties to corporate energy interests. No environmentalists were invited to speak at any of the meetings. In March 2001, the Task Force was busy investigating the oil reserves of Iraq.
Canadian author, Graydon Carter, published a report called What We've Lost. The following figures appear in the report.
|USA citizens who believe that Iraq was to blame for the attacks on the USA on 11 September 2001||69%|
|USA citizens who believed in June 2003 that weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq||34%|
|USA citizens who believed in May 2003 that weapons of mass destruction had been used against USA forces in Iraq||22%|
|Young USA adults who cannot find Afghanistan, Iraq or Israel on a map||85%|
|Young USA adults who cannot find the Pacific Ocean on a map||30%|
|Young USA adults who cannot find the USA on a map||11%|
|Young USA adults who believe that "politics and government are too complicated to understand"||30%|
Before the 2004 elections, over 40,000 voters appeared on a list of people ineligible to vote. These were suspected felons and ex-felons. In Florida, felons who served their sentence had to apply to be re-instated on the voters list because of a law dating from 1868. They had to apply to the Governor of the state who is Jeb Bush, brother of the USA president (George W Bush) who was applying for re-election. The American Civil Liberties Union estimated that 600,000 people in Florida had no vote (including 1 in 3 black men).
The UK's BBC (Newsnight, 26 October 2004) broadcast the story of Willy Steen, a black voter from Tampa, who was barred from voting in the 2000 election for being a convicted felon. He had, in fact, never even been arrested. In 2004, he attempted to vote early and was again barred. The bar to his voting disappeared when he arrived at the voting station with BBC reporters.
In December, the USA newspaper, Washington Post, reveals that the USA was using phone tapping and other electronic surveillance on Mohammad El-Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency in an attempt to undermine and remove him from office. His crime was to show that evidence used by the USA to justify its invasion of Iraq in 2003 was fake.
Nadir Fergani, the author of a United Nations report on freedom and government in the Arab world said that the USA threatened to cut aid if the report was published. The cost to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) would be about $100 million a year. Fergani said the USA had already penalised the UNDP by $12 million because it did not like the previous report. The report, which criticises USA involvement in Iraq and Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories, is eventually brought out as a private document.
Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency proposes that all production and processing of weapon-usable material should be under international control, with "assurance that legitimate would-be users could get their supplies". The Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (or Fissban) was debated by the United Nations Committee on Disarmament in November.
The vote was 147 to one (USA), with two abstentions: Israel and UK.
A year later the United Nations General Assembly would agree the resolution 179 to two (USA and Palau) with Israel and UK abstaining.
In 2005 the USA would use production and processing of weapon-usable material as an excuse to threaten Iran.