By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Even now, as mounting evidence suggests we have caused more civilian casualties than Al Qaeda did at the World Trade Center, the issue is still not a primary concern for U.S. leaders. Members of Congress have recovered their nerve enough to question the president's propriety in the Enron scandal, but when it comes to war they sound like precocious children tugging on a parent's sleeve. Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic congresswoman from Madison, Wisconsin, sent Bush a letter signed by seven other members in early December that stated, "We believe it is absolutely imperative that the United States make every effort to minimize civilian casualties."
With conflicting or scant reporting by mainstream media, the job of chronicling civilian casualties fell to Marc Herold, a professor at the University of New Hampshire. By the middle of last week, Herold, recovering from an eye operation, his voice-mail boxcrammed to overflowing, was still running a "one man" volunteer show, cross-referencing news accounts and rounding up graduate students to help post the latest horrors on his Web site at www.cursor.org. He estimates a total of 4000 civilian casualties so far, and expects another thousand will die. He says none of the big humanitarian organizations have shown interest in his work or even called him. "I have stayed away from taking shots," he says, "but if they challenge me, I'm ready to go."
When a reporter told Rumsfeld about Herold's figures, he replied, "First of all, I don't know this individual, Herold. And I have asked somebody to try to provide some facts as to how in the world he could have conceivably come up with such a breathtaking statement. I think that if he or others investigate carefully, and analyze it, and talk to people on the ground, we will find that there probably has never in the history of the world been a conflict that has been done as carefully, and with such measure, and care, and with such minimal collateral damage to buildings and infrastructure, and with such small numbers of unintended civilian casualties."
It turns out that most of the men picked up in the 9-11 dragnet are being held in New Jersey jails. An article in the current New Jersey Law Journal reports that while Attorney General John Ashcroft says the numbers of Muslim men held on minor immigration charges since September 11 has declined to 450, the real number actually may be higher.
Most of these men are Arabs or South Asians, and are being held in New Jersey and Florida on minor immigration charges for such infractions as overstaying student or work visas. The law journal counts 346 in Jersey's Passaic County jail and 200 in the Hudson County one, with another 52 in Miami's Krome Detention Center.
With Bush ramping up the war against terror around the world, Nick Smith, a conservative Republican congressman who represents Michigan's southern tier, has introduced a bill to restore the draft for men between the ages of 18 and 22. The Universal Military Training and Service Act would "require the induction into the Armed Forces of young men registered under the Military Selective Service Act, and to authorize young women to volunteer, to receive basic military training and education for a period of up to one year."
Additional reporting: Michael Ridley