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Health Care & Environment
03.23 Two Ohio coal-fired plants to close, deepening industry decline [hurrah!]
03.22 Carbon fibre: the wonder material with a dirty secret [making solid-state carbon products removes carbon from the atmoshere, diminishing CO2 as a warming factor]
03.22 World Water Day: one in four children will live with water scarcity by 2040 [watch and learn: "conservatives around the world will fight public water projects to support privatization and for-profit (mafia-like?) "solutions"]
News Media Matters
03.20 Google braces for questions as more big-name firms pull adverts [practice confers unmerited legitimacy to extremist videos]
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
03.24 Healthcare bill hangs in balance as Republicans agonise over Trump's vote gamble [cross your fingers and make a wish]
03.23 Has the Trump Budget Blown Republicans’ Cover? [an immoral focus]
03.23 Trump’s Spending Cuts Would Create the Black America He’s Been Talking About [an immoral focus]
03.23 Trump-Russia inquiry in 'grave doubt' after GOP chair briefs White House [0:56 video]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
03.21 Forbes billionaire list: Trump loses $1bn as elite club gets 233 new members [how're YOU doin?]
03.19 Why transaction laundering is turning into a huge financial blindspot [what happens when bad actors–usually Republicans–weaken or stop effective regulations to avoid taxes]
03.21 Paul Manafort, Former Trump Campaign Chief, Faces New Allegations in Ukraine [birds of a feather...]
03.20 UN asks UK to suspend work on Hinkley Point [why allow the potential of a Fukushima catastrophe?]
The Farcical Definition at the Heart of the War on Terrorism
More people died as a result of the U.S.-backed invasion of East Timor than were killed by international terrorists in the subsequent 30 years.A recent denunciation of U.S. government foreign policy offers insights into a paradox of the war of terrorism. On January 24, 2006, the East Timor Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation denounced the U.S. government for backing the 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor. In the following decades, a quarter million East Timorese residents died as a result of this incursion. The commission declared that U.S. "political and military support were fundamental to the Indonesian invasion and occupation."
The Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor were among the most barbaric actions of the late 20th century. President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger met with Indonesian President Suharto in Jakarta the day before the invasion and gave U.S. approval. The primary concern of U.S. officials seemed to be to get back to Washington before the bloodbath began. Kissinger told Suharto, "We understand your problem and the need to move quickly but I am only saying that it would be better if it were done after we returned." Kissinger, doing his best imitation of Lady Macbeth, urged Suharto, "It is important that whatever you do succeeds quickly."
Indonesia used U.S. military weapons to bombard East Timor and to crush resistance. The Indonesian military finally left East Timor in 1999, inflicting one more orgy of burning and killing on the island in the final days before its exit.
More people died as a result of the U.S.-backed invasion of East Timor than were killed by international terrorists in the subsequent 30 years. According to the U.S. State Department, between 1980 and 2005 fewer than 25,000 people were killed in international terrorist incidents around the globe.
The Bush administration, in its war on terror, stresses that anyone who aids and abets a terrorist is as guilty as the terrorist. By this standard, the U.S. government was guilty of enabling the Indonesian government to terrorize the Timorese people. The Timorese victims of U.S.-backed aggression received far less than 1 percent of the attention than have American victims of terrorist attacks.
The U.S. government currently bankrolls and arms many foreign regimes that terrorize their own people, including Colombia, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.The U.S. government currently bankrolls and arms many foreign regimes that terrorize their own people, including Colombia, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Frida Berrigan of the World Policy Institute noted that the State Department's 2002 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices "lists 52 countries that are currently receiving U.S. military training or weapons as having 'poor' or 'very poor' human-rights records."
President Bush declared in 2002, "Our mission is to make the world free from terror." But the only way that Bush's pledge makes any sense is by relying on a myopic —if not absurd—definition of terrorism.
The FBI defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."The United States has long insisted that government agents cannot be terrorists. The FBI defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." Since government action is almost always lawful—or at least not considered criminal by the government itself—governments almost never qualify as terrorists under the U.S. definitions.
A far sounder definition was offered by Israeli National Security Council chairman Major General Uzi Dayan, who defined as terrorist in a December 2001 speech "any organization that systematically harms civilians, irrespective of its motives." This definition catches all types of terrorism—not just actions that lack political blessings or official sanctions.
If a government systematically attacks civilians, the government is no less culpable than private cabals that blow up planes, buses, or cafes. By this standard, the Indonesian invasion of East Timor was as much a terrorist action as the bombings of Bali nightclubs in October 2002 that killed hundreds of civilians.
With an honest definition of terrorism, many governments in the Bush "freedom-loving coalition" are guilty of inflicting more terrorism than they prevent.The U.S. terrorism definition is the key to the Bush administration claim that the war on terrorism is automatically a war for freedom. Without the "state-exempt" concept of terrorism, fighting terrorism would, in most parts of the world, have little or nothing to do with defending freedom. With an honest definition of terrorism, many governments in the Bush "freedom-loving coalition" are guilty of inflicting more terrorism than they prevent.
Having a "state action" exemption to the concept of terrorism is like having a "mass murder exemption" in the homicide statute. Any action carried out by private citizens that would be considered terrorism should also be considered terrorism if carried out by government agents. The United States should recognize that its bankrolling and support of governments that terrorize their own people make a mockery of Bush's promise to rid the world of evil.
James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy  and serves as a policy advisor for The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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This story was published on January 31, 2006.