News Release

* Just Back from Afghanistan * Legal Status of Walker * Otto Reich: Backer of Terrorist? * Argentina Meltdown


President of Conscience International, a humanitarian aid organization, Jennings has just returned from his third trip to Afghanistan. He said today: “The public is being shielded from the extent of civilian casualties; if people saw the war close up, they would not be so enthusiastic about it. I witnessed this ‘collateral damage’ in the form of children with legs blown off, eyes blinded, and internal organs damaged — they were reportedly playing with a U.S.-dropped cluster bomb when it exploded. One boy of about 10, Zarwali, lost his left foot. They were driven over bombed-out roads for two and a half hours to the only pediatric hospital in the country. I also saw a great many babies suffering from acute malnutrition and starvation (marasmus) in the hospital and a few on the street in Kabul in the arms of burka-clad beggars. It’s hard to put numbers to this, but UN agencies estimate that malnutrition for the population generally is 70 percent. America must now undertake a major reconstruction job in Afghanistan.”
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Executive director of the Center for International Policy, Goodfellow said today: “The administration may attempt a recess appointment of Otto Reich as head of Latin American affairs at the State Department. That is the only way they could get him in, given the opposition in the Senate. This appointment has nothing to do with foreign policy; rather, it is a payoff to the right-wing Cuban Americans in Miami who take credit for swinging the election to Bush and are a key constituency for Jeb Bush’s 2002 campaign. Reich ran the Office of Public Diplomacy in the mid-’80s — a propaganda operation shut down by Congress. As ambassador to Venezuela, he wrote a cable on behalf of Orlando Bosch, a convicted terrorist, to get him into the United States.”

An associate professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Cohn said today: “The Geneva Convention provides that a POW shall be subject to the laws of the detaining power. Therefore, John Walker is entitled to counsel during interrogation, and he cannot be coerced by the interrogators under the U.S. Constitution, the Geneva Convention and the Convention Against Torture.”
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Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Weisbrot said today: “Argentina’s meltdown is unfortunately the latest example in a pattern of strategic errors made, funded, and in some cases enforced by the International Monetary Fund. As in Russia and Brazil in 1998, the IMF has supported an overvalued currency, saddling the country with enormous — in Argentina’s case absolutely unpayable — debt. The biggest problem in these situations is that once investors believe that the fixed exchange rate will not hold, interest rates go through the roof. The IMF has poured even more fuel on the fire by insisting on a ‘zero-deficit’ budget, which does not make economic sense during a prolonged recession.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; Norman Solomon, (415) 552-5378