The Norms of canon law dealing with crimes of sexual abuse have been published today

Fr Lombardi, sj, on the document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Significance of the “Normae de gravioribus delictis’


The Norms of canon law dealing with crimes of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy have been published today in a comprehensive and updated form, in a document which covers all the crimes the Church considers as exceptionally serious and, for that reason, subject to the competency of the Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Apart from sexual abuse, these include crimes against the faith and against the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Penance and Holy Orders.
The Norms concerning sexual abuse make specific provision for more rapid procedures in order to deal with the most urgent and serious situations more effectively. They also admit lay people into the tribunal staff; extend the statute of limitations from 10 to 20 years; establish parity between the abuse of mentally disabled people and that of minors, and introduce the crime of paedophile pornography. The Norm concerning the secrecy of trials is maintained in order to protect the dignity of everyone involved.
These Norms are part of canon law; i.e., they exclusively concern the Church. For this reason they do not deal with the subject of reporting offenders to the civil authorities. It should be noted, however, that compliance with civil law is contained in the instructions issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as part of the preliminary procedures to be followed in abuse cases, as per the “Guide to Understanding Basic CDF Procedures”.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is also working on further instructions for Bishops, so that the directives it issues on the subject of sexual abuse of minors, either by the clergy or in institutions connected with the Church, may be increasingly rigorous, coherent and effective. 

(©L’Osservatore Romano – 21 July 2010)

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Historical introduction prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The Norms of the Motu Proprio
“Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela’

 
The Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope Benedict xv in 1917 recognized the existence of a number of canonical crimes or “delicts” reserved to the exclusive competence of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office which, as a tribunal, was governed by its own proper law (cf. can. 1555 cic 1917).
A few years after the promulgation of the 1917 Code, the Holy Office issued an Instruction, “Crimen Sollicitationis” (1922), which gave detailed instruction to local dioceses and tribunals on the procedures to be adopted when dealing with the canonical delict of solicitation. This most grave crime concerned the abuse of the sanctity and dignity of the Sacrament of Penance by a Catholic priest who solicited the penitent to sin against the sixth commandment, either with the confessor himself, or with a third party. The norms issued in 1922 were an update, in light of the Code of Canon Law of 1917, of the Apostolic Constitution “Sacramentorum Poenitentiae” promulgated by Pope Benedict xiv in 1741.
A number of concerns had to be addressed, underlining the specificity of the legislation (with implications which are less relevant from the perspective of civil penal law):  the respect of the dignity of the sacrament, the inviolable seal of the confessional, the dignity of the penitent and the fact that in most cases the accused priest could not be interrogated fully on what occurred without putting the seal of confession in danger.
This special procedure was based, therefore, on an indirect method of achieving the moral certitude necessary for a definitive decision in the case. This indirect method included investigating the credibility of the person accusing the priest and the life and behaviour of the accused priest. The accusation itself was considered the most serious accusation one could bring against a Roman Catholic priest.
Therefore, the procedure took care to ensure that a priest who could be a victim of a false or calumnious accusation would be protected from infamy until proven guilty. This was achieved through a strict code of confidentiality which was meant to protect all persons concerned from undue publicity until the definitive decision of the ecclesiastic tribunal.
The 1922 Instruction included a short section dedicated to another canonical delict:  the “crimen pessimum” which dealt with same-sex clerical misconduct. This further section determined that the special procedures for solicitation cases should be used for “crimen pessimum” cases, with those adaptations rendered necessary by the nature of the case. The norms concerning the “crimen pessimum” also extended to the heinous crime of sexual abuse of prepubescent children and to bestiality.
The Instruction “Crimen Sollecitationis” was, therefore, never intended to represent the entirety of the policy of the Catholic Church regarding sexual improprieties on the part of the clergy. Rather, its sole purpose was to establish a procedure that responded to the singularly delicate situation that is a sacramental confession, in which the duty of complete confidentiality on the part of the priest corresponds, according to divine law, to the complete openness of the intimate life of the soul on the part of the penitent.
Over time and only analogously, these norms were extended to some cases of immoral conduct of priests. The idea that there should be comprehensive legislation that treats the sexual conduct of persons entrusted with the educational responsibility is very recent; therefore, attempting to judge the canonical norms of the past century from this perspective is gravely anachronistic.
The 1922 Instruction was given as needed to bishops who had to deal with particular cases concerning solicitation, clerical homosexuality, sexual abuse of children and bestiality. In 1962, Blessed Pope John xxiii authorised a reprint of the 1922 Instruction, with a small section added regarding the administrative procedures to be used in those cases in which religious clerics were involved.
Copies of the 1962 re-print were meant to be given to the Bishops gathering for the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). A few copies of this re-print were handed out to Bishops who, in the meantime, needed to process cases reserved to the Holy Office but, most of the copies were never distributed.
The reforms proposed by the Second Vatican Council required a reform of the 1917 Code of Canon Law and of the Roman Curia. The period between 1965 and 1983 (the year when the new Latin Code of Canon Law appeared) was marked by differing trends in canonical scholarship as to the scope of canonical penal law and the need for a de-centralized approach to cases with emphasis on the authority and discretion of the local bishops.
A  “pastoral attitude” to misconduct was preferred and canonical processes were thought by some to be anachronistic. A “therapeutic model” often prevailed in dealing with clerical misconduct. The bishop was expected to “heal” rather than “punish”. An over-optimistic idea of the benefits of psychological therapy guided many decisions concerning diocesan or religious personnel, sometimes without adequate regard for the possibility of recidivism.
Cases concerning the dignity of the Sacrament of Penance remained with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Holy Office; its name changed in 1965) after the Council, and the Instruction “Crimen Sollicitationis” was still used for such cases until the new norms established by the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela” in 2001.
A small number of cases concerning sexual misconduct of clergy with minors was referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith after the Second Vatican Council. Some of these cases were linked with the abuse of the Sacrament of Penance, while a number may have been referred as requests for dispensations from the obligations of priesthood, including celibacy (sometimes referred to as “laicization” ) which were dealt with by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith until 1989 (From 1989 to 2005 the competence in these dispensation cases was transferred to the Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship; from 2005 to the present the same cases have been treated by the Congregation for the Clergy).
The Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul ii in 1983 updated the whole discipline n can, 1395, 2:  “A cleric who in another way has committed an offence against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, if the delict was committed by force or threats or publicly or with a minor below the age of sixteen years, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants”. According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law canonical trials are held in the dioceses. Appeals from judicial sentences may be presented to the Roman Rota, whereas administrative recourses against penal decrees are presented to the Congregation for the Clergy.
In 1994 the Holy See granted an indult to the Bishops of the United States:  the age for the canonical crime of sexual abuse of a minor was raised to 18. At the same time, prescription (canonical term for Statute of Limitations) was extended to a period of 10 years from the 18th birthday of the victim. Bishops were reminded to conduct canonical trials in their dioceses. Appeals were to be heard by the Roman Rota. Administrative Recourses were heard by the Congregation for the Clergy. During this period (1994 2001) no reference was made to the previous competence of the Holy Office over such cases.
The 1994 Indult for the US was extended to Ireland in 1996. In the meantime the question of special procedures for sexual abuse cases was under discussion in the Roman Curia. Finally Pope John Paul ii decided to include the sexual abuse of a minor under 18 by a cleric, among the new list of canonical delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Prescription for these cases was of ten (10) years from the 18th birthday of the victim. This new law was promulgated in the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela” on 30 April 2001. A letter signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, respectively Prefect and Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was sent to all the Roman Catholic Bishops on 18 May 2001. This letter informed the bishops of the new law and the new procedures which replaced the Instruction “Crimen Sollicitationis“.
The acts that constitute the most grave delicts reserved to the Congregation were specified in this letter, both those against morality and those committed in the celebration of the Sacraments. Also given were special procedural norms to be followed in cases concerning these grave delicts, including those norms regarding the determination and imposition of canonical sanctions.
The delicta graviora reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were as follows: 
Delicts against the sanctity of the Most Holy Sacrament and Sacrifice of the Eucharist: 
1. Throwing away, taking or retaining the consecrated species for a sacrilegious purpose, or profaning the consecrated species (cic can. 1367; cceo can. 1442).
2. Attempting the liturgical action of the Eucharistic sacrifice or the simulation thereof (cic can. 1378 2 n. 1, can. 1379; cceo can. 1443).
3. Concelebrating the Eucharistic Sacrifice together with ministers of ecclesial communities which do not have Apostolic succession nor recognize the Sacramental dignity of priestly ordination (cic can. 908, 1365; cceo can. 792, 1440). 4. Consecrating one matter without the other in a Eucharistic celebration or both outside of a Eucharistic celebration (cf. cic can. 927).
Delicts against the sanctity of the Sacrament of Penance: 
1. Absolution of an accomplice in the sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue (cic can. 1378 1; cceo can. 1457).
2. Solicitation to sin with the confessor against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, in the act of, context of or pretext of the Sacrament of Penance (cic can. 1387; cceo can. 1458).
3. Direct violation of the Sacramental seal (cic can. 1388 1; cceo can. 1456).
Delicts against morality: 
1. The violation of the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, committed by a cleric with a minor under the age of 18.
The procedural norms to be followed in these cases were as follows: 
– Whenever an Ordinary or Hierarch had at least probable knowledge (notitiam saltem verisimilem habeat) of the commission of one of the reserved grave delicts, after having carried out the preliminary investigation, he was to inform the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which, unless it called the case to itself because of special circumstances, would indicate to the Ordinary or Hierarch how to proceed. The right of appeal against a sentence of the first instance was to be exercised only before the Supreme Tribunal of the Congregation.
 Criminal action in the cases reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was extinguished by a prescription of ten years. It was also foreseen that prescription would be computed according to the norms of cic can. 1362 2 and cceo can. 1152 3, with the singular exception of the delict contra sextum cum minore, in which case prescription would begin to run from the day when the minor had completed his eighteenth year of age.
– In tribunals established by Ordinaries or Hierarchs, for the cases of the more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative could be validly performed only by priests. Furthermore, upon completion of the trial in the tribunal in any manner, the acts of the case were to be transmitted ex officio, as soon as possible, to the Congregation.
It was also established that all of the tribunals of the Latin Church and of all Eastern Catholic Churches were to observe the canons on delicts, penalties and the penal process of both Codes respectively. These were to be followed together with the special norms given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Nine years after the promulgation of the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith felt it necessary to propose certain changes to these norms, not modifying the text in its entirety, but rather only in a few areas, in an effort to improve the application of the law.
After a serious and attentive study of the proposed changes, the Cardinals and Bishops Members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith presented the results of their decisions to the Supreme Pontiff and, on 21 May 2010, Pope Benedict XVI gave his approval and ordered the promulgation of the revised text.
The text of the Norms on delicta graviora currently in force is the text approved by the Holy Father Benedict XVI on 21 May 2010.
(©L’Osservatore Romano – 21 July 2010)

Al Qaeda’s First English Language Magazine Is Here

http://www.theatlan tic.com/internat ional/archive/ 2010/06/al- qaedas-first- english-language -magazine- is-here/59006/

As the U.S. struggles to manage its efforts to influence opinion about Al Qaeda abroad, Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula has produced its first English-language propaganda magazine.

It’s called “Inspire,” and you can read parts of it below. A U.S. official said early this morning that the magazine appears to be authentic.

“Inspire” includes a “message to the people of Yemen” directly transcribed from Ayman Al-Zawahari, Al Qaeda’s second in command, a message from Osama Bin Laden on “how to save the earth,” and the cover includes a quotation from Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American born cleric who is believed to be directly connected to the attempt to destroy an airplane over Detroit by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Christmas Day. (The director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter, made that disclosure at a security forum in Aspen, CO, Fox News reported.)

The table of contents teases an interview with the leader of AQAP who promises to “answer various questions pertaining to the jihad in the Arabian Peninsula.” It includes a feature about how to “make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.”

AQAP’s first effort to post the magazine to jihadist websites failed Wednesday, as many of the pages were contaminated with a virus. (I half seriously believe that U.S. cyber warriors might have had a hand in that little surprise.)

The U.S. is quite worried about Al Qaeda’s new publishing ambitions, which mark a more sophisticated effort to engage the English-language world and to recruit English-speaking Muslims to join the cause.

The copy was obtained from a private researcher. AQAP had advertised for days that the magazine would appear with the interviews specified in the table of contents. It is possible, although not likely, that the magazine is a fabrication, a production of a Western intelligence agency that wants to undermine Al Qaeda by eroding confidence in its production and distribution networks. The U.S. is engaged in direct net-based warfare with jihadis; this sort of operation would not be too difficult to pull off.

Since I am not completely certain that the clean PDF doesn’t contain a hidden virus, I’ve elected not to post it just yet.

Tifatul chided for lingking sex tape to crucifixion

Tifatul chided for linking sex tape scandal to crucifixion

(19/6/10)Communications and Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring has spent most of the past two days fending off an onslaught of Twitter attacks after he compared a sex tape controversy to the theological debate between Christians and Muslims about the death of Jesus Christ.

He said Thursday during a breakfast meeting at his office that the public debate over the sex tapes featuring people resembling singer Nazril “Ariel” Irham, TV presenter Luna Maya and celebrity Cut Tari was like the dispute between Muslims, who believe that Jesus Christ was not crucified but rather that someone resembling him was, and Christians, who believe that Jesus Christ was crucified.

The celebrities have claimed the persons in the sex videos are not them.  

Tifatul said that confirming the identity of the persons in the tapes was very important to avoid adverse impacts in the future like those emerging from the different views of Muslims and Christians. He did not elaborate on the impacts of the theological discord between the world’s two largest religions.

One Twitter message directed at the minister from the account “@Williamalwijaya” asked: “What is the relationship between Ariel and the Catholic followers of God? Were you drunk when you said that?”.
Tifatul tweeted back, “You had better not quote people’s words partially, that makes you look like a drunk person”.

Tifatul also wrote to another of his Twitter criticizers, “@artjie”, “I’m explaining the point of view of Muslims on Prophet Isa and of the Christians on Jesus Christ, you can ask theologists about this.”

He also tried to clarify the context of his statements to “@nafaurbach” by saying, “Muslims believe that Prophet Isa wasn’t crucified, that it was someone ‘resembling’ him, while Christians believe that Jesus Christ was crucified”.

A Catholic priest from the Indonesian Bishops Council, Father Beni Susetyo, said that as a public official, Tifatul Sembiring should not compare a pornography scandal to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, because it could hurt the feelings of believers. “There is no connection between pornography and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at all,” he told The Jakarta Post.

He criticized the minister for showing a lack of appreciation for beliefs other than his own in such a diverse country as Indonesia.

This is the second time that Tifatul has sparked a controversy on Twitter. In April, he tweeted a quote from Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. He wrote, “The union between two children, when both of them complete each other, this is magic – Adolf Hitler”.

This posting drew the ire of many members of the public, who complained the minister had shown a lack of respect for the millions of people killed in the genocide perpetrated under Nazi leadership during World War II. (the Jakarta post)

Islamization of Europe

This will give you cold chills!

Geert Wilders is a Dutch Member of Parliament.

In a generation or two, the US will ask itself: who lost Europe ?’

Here is the speech of Geert Wilders, Chairman, Party for Freedom, the Netherlands , at the Four Seasons, New York , introducing an Alliance of Patriots and announcing the Facing Jihad Conference in Jerusalem .

Dear friends,

Thank you very much for inviting me.

I come to America with a mission.  All is not well in the old world.  There is a tremendous danger looming, and it is very difficult to be optimistic.  We might be in the final stages of the Islamization of Europe.  This not only is a clear and present danger to the future of Europe itself, it is a threat to America and the sheer survival of the West.  The United States as the last bastion of Western civilization, facing an Islamic Europe.

First I will describe the situation on the ground in Europe .& nbsp; Then, I will say a few things about Islam.  To close I will tell you about a meeting in Jerusalem .

The Europe you know is changing.

You have probably seen the landmarks.  But in all of these cities, sometimes a few blocks away from your tourist destination, there is another world.  It is the world of the parallel society created by Muslim mass-migration.

All throughout Europe a new reality is rising: entire Muslim neighborhoods where very few indigenous people reside or are even seen.  And if they are, they might regret it.  This goes for the police as well.  It’s the world of head scarves, where women walk around in figureless tents, with baby strollers and a group of children.  Their husbands, or slaveholders if you prefer, walk three steps ahead.  With mosques on many street corners.  The shops have signs you and I cannot read.  You will be hard-pressed to find any economic activity.  These are Muslim ghettos controlled by religious fanatics.  These are Muslim neighborhoods, and they are mushrooming in every city across Europe .  These are the building-blocks for territorial control of increasingly larger portions of Europe , street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city.

There are now thousands of mosques throughout Europe .  With larger congregations than there are in churches.  And in every European city there are plans to build super-mosques that will dwarf every church in the region.  Clearly, the signal is: we rule.

Many European cities are already one-quarter Muslim: just take Amsterdam , Marseille and Malmo in Sweden .  In many cities the majority of the under-18 population is Muslim.   Paris is now surrounded by a ring of Muslim neighborhoods.  Mohammed is the most popular name among boys in many cities.

In some elementary schools in Amsterdam the farm can no longer be mentioned, because that would also mean mentioning the pig, and that would be an insult to Muslims.

Many state schools in Belgium and Denmark only serve halal food to all pupils.  In once-tolerant Amsterdam gays are beaten up almost exclusively by Muslims.  Non-Muslim women routinely hear ‘whore, whore’.  Satellite dishes are not pointed to local TV stations, but to stations in the country of origin.

In France school teachers are advised to avoid authors deemed offensive to Muslims, including Voltaire and Diderot; the same is increasingly true of Darwin .  The history of the Holocaust can no longer be taught because of Muslim sensitivity.

In England sharia courts are now officially part of the British legal system. Many neighborhoods in France are no-go areas for women without head scarves.  Last week a man almost died after being beaten up by Muslims in Brussels , because he was drinking during the Ramadan.

Jews are fleeing France in record numbers, on the run for the worst wave of anti-Semitism since World War II.  French is now commonly spoken on the streets of Tel Aviv and Netanya , Israel .  I could go on forever with stories like this.  Stories about Islamization.

A total of fifty-four million Muslims now live in Europe .   San Diego University recently calculated that a staggering 25 percent of the population in Europe will be Muslim just 12 years from now.  Bernhard Lewis has predicted a Muslim majority by the end of this century.

Now these are just numbers.  And the numbers would not be threatening if the Muslim-immigrants had a strong desire to assimilate.  But there are few signs of that.  The Pew Research Center reported that half of French Muslims see their loyalty to Islam as greater than their loyalty to France .  One-third of French Muslims do not object to suicide attacks. 

The British Centre for Social Cohesion reported that one-third of British Muslim students are in favor of a worldwide caliphate.  Muslims demand what they call ‘respect’.  And this is how we give them respect.  We have Muslim official state holidays.

The Christian-Democrati c attorney general is willing to accept sharia in the Netherlands if there is a Muslim majority.  We have cabinet members with passports from Morocco and Turkey .

Muslim demands are supported by unlawful behavior, ranging from petty crimes and random violence, for example against ambulance workers and bus drivers, to small-scale riots.   Paris has seen its uprising in the low-income suburbs, the banlieus.  I call the perpetrators ‘settlers’.  Because that is what they are.  They do not come to integrate into our societies; they come to integrate our society into their Dar-al-Islam.  Therefore, they are settlers.

Much of this street violence I mentioned is directed exclusively against non-Muslims, forcing many native people to leave their neighborhoods, their cities, their countries.  Moreover, Muslims are now a swing vote not to be ignored.

The second thing you need to know is the importance of Mohammed the prophet.  His behavior is an example to all Muslims and cannot be criticized.  Now, if Mohammed had been a man of peace, let us say like Ghandi and Mother Theresa wrapped in one, there would be no problem.  But Mohammed was a warlord, a mass murderer, a pedophile, and had several marriages – at the same time.  Islamic tradition tells us how he fought in battles, how he had his enemies murdered and even had prisoners of war executed.  Mohammed himself slaughtered the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza.  If it is good for Islam, it is good.  If it is bad for Islam, it is bad.

Let no one fool you about Islam being a religion.  Sure, it has a god, and a here-after, and 72 virgins.  But in its essence Islam is a political ideology.  It is a system that lays down detailed rules for society and the life of every person.  Islam wants to dictate every aspect of life.  Islam means ‘submission’.  Islam is not compatible with freedom and democracy, because what it strives for is sharia.  If you want to compare Islam to anything, compare it to communism or national-socialism, these are all totalitarian ideologies.

Now you know why Winston Churchill called Islam ‘the most retrograde force in the world’, and why he compared Mein Kampf to the Quran.  The public has wholeheartedly accepted the Palestinian narrative, and sees Israel as the aggressor.  I have lived in this country and visited it dozens of times.  I support Israel.

First, because it is the Jewish homeland after two thousand years of exile up to and including Auschwitz.

Second because it is a democracy, and.

Third because Israel is our first line of defense.

This tiny country is situated on the fault line of jihad, frustrating Islam’s territorial advance.   Israel is facing the front lines of jihad, like Kashmir, Kosovo, the Philippines , Southern Thailand, Darfur in Sudan , Lebanon , and Aceh in Indonesia .   Israel is simply in the way.  The same way West-Berlin was during the Cold War.

The war against Israel is not a war against Israel .  It is a war against the West.  It is jihad.   Israel is simply receiving the blows that are meant for all of us.  If there would have been no Israel , Islamic imperialism would have found other venues to release its energy and its desire for conquest.  Thanks to Israeli parents who send their children to the army and lay awake at night, parents in Europe and America can sleep well and dream, unaware of the dangers looming.

Many in Europe argue in favor of abandoning Israel in order to address the grievances of our Muslim minorities.  But if Israel were, God forbid, to go down, it would not bring any solace to the West It would not mean our Muslim minorities would all of a sudden change their behavior, and accept our values.  On the contrary, the end of Israel would give enormous encouragement to the forces of Islam.  They would, and rightly so, see the demise of Israel as proof that the West is weak, and doomed.  The end of Israel would not mean the end of our problems with Islam, but only the beginning.  It would mean the start of the final battle for world domination.  If they can get Israel , they can get everything.  So-called journalists volunteer to label any and all critics of Islamization as a ‘right-wing extremists’ or ‘racists’.  In my country, the Netherlands , 60 percent of the population now sees the mass immigration of Muslims as the number one policy mistake since World War II.  And another 60 percent sees Islam as the biggest threat.  Yet there is a danger greater danger than terrorist attacks, the scenario of America as the last man standing.  The lights may go out in Europe faster than you can imagine.  An Islamic Europe means a Europe without freedom and democracy, an economic wasteland, an intellectual nightmare, and a loss of military might for America – as its allies will turn into enemies, enemies with atomic bombs.  With an Islamic Europe, it would be up to America alone to preserve the heritage of Rome , Athens and Jerusalem .

Dear friends, liberty is the most precious of gifts.  My generation never had to fight for this freedom, it was offered to us on a silver platter, by people who fought for it with their lives.  All throughout Europe , American cemeteries remind us of the young boys who never made it home, and whose memory we cherish.  My generation does not own this freedom; we are merely its custodians.  We can only hand over this hard won liberty to Europe ‘s children in the same state in which it was offered to us.  We cannot strike a deal with mullahs and imams.  Future generations would never forgive us.  We cannot squander our liberties.  We simply do not have the right to do so.

aWe have to take the necessary action now to stop this Islamic stupidity from destroying the free world that we know.

  Please take the time to read and understand what is written here, Please send it to every free person that you know, it is so very important

Christianity’s Surge in Indonesia

Monday, Apr. 26, 2010

Christianity’s Surge in Indonesia

By Hannah Beech / Temanggung

 

They flocked to the open field by the hundreds to praise Allah. In a village in central Java, just a few miles from where Indonesian special forces shot dead an Islamic terrorist linked to the fatal July bombings of two hotels in Jakarta, worshippers raised their hands to the heavens. But this ceremony, which took place as the call of the muezzin echoed in the sultry air, was not a celebration of Islam. Instead, in the heart of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, Christians held a Pentecostal revival, complete with faith healing and speaking in tongues. As a tropical downpour fell, believers’ tears mixed with rain — and a line of sick and disabled took to the stage to claim they had been cured by a God they, like Indonesian Muslims, call Allah. “People think Indonesia is just a Muslim country, but look at all these people,” says pastor David Nugroho, whose Gesing church boasts a congregation of 400 worshippers today, up from 30 when it was founded in 1967. “We are not afraid to show our faith.”

A religious revolution is transforming Indonesia. Part of the spiritual blossoming entails Muslims embracing a more conservative form of faith, mirroring global trends that have meant a proliferation of headscarves and beards in modern Islamic capitals. More surprising, though, is the boom in Christianity — officially Indonesia’s second largest faith and a growing force throughout Asia. Indeed, the number of Asian Christian faithful exploded to 351 million adherents in 2005, up from 101 million in 1970, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, based in Washington, D.C. (See pictures of spiritual healing around the world.)

Much of the growth comes from Pentecostal and Evangelical conversions, which have spread charismatic Christianity across the globe and are a large reason for estimates that by 2050 a majority of Christians will be living in developing nations. Already, less than a quarter of the world’s 600 million Pentecostals reside in the West, where the modern movement has its roots. Indeed, Pentecostalism is believed by some to be the fastest-growing faith in the world, if measured by conversions as opposed to births.

Because of the relative youth of these Evangelical sects, they are less bound by the history of colonial conversion that has complicated the legacy of, say, Roman Catholicism or mainstream Protestantism. Instead, by focusing on personal salvation adapted to local environments, Evangelicals, especially Pentecostals, have found great success across Asia in recent years, from Indian metropolises like Chennai to rural China where homegrown sects are drawing in tens of thousands of people each year. The world’s largest megachurch is the Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea, which claims a membership of 830,000 people. Its Pentecostal Sunday services regularly attract a quarter of a million people to an upscale neighborhood of Seoul. In poorer regions of Asia, as well as within many ethnic Chinese communities, converts are lured by the so-called prosperity gospel, an American theology linked to charismatic Christianity that promises riches to those who follow a moral path. (See “The Biology of Belief.”)

For many in the global Evangelical community, though, it is the faith’s inroads in Indonesia — a nation with some 215 million Muslim adherents — that are most riveting. Exact figures are hard to gather in a country where conversions from Islam to Christianity face a stigma and likely lead to an underreporting of Christian believers. The 2000 census counted just under 10% of Indonesians as Christians, a figure many Christian leaders believe is too low. Anecdotal evidence paints a compelling picture of the faith’s rapid rise. In the early 1960s, for instance, there were no Evangelical churches in Temanggung, where the soccer-field revival took place; now there are more than 40. In the capital Jakarta, newly built megachurches that might seem more at home in Texas send steeples into the sky. Other Christians worship at unofficial churches based in hotels and malls, where Sunday services rival shopping as a popular weekend activity. Asia’s tallest statue of Jesus Christ, built in 2007, presides over Manado city in eastern Indonesia, while Indonesian cable TV beams 24-hour Christian channels.

State of Grace — and Disgrace
What is it about Evangelical Christianity that has so resonated in Indonesia? As in many other crowded, developing-world countries where a person can feel lost in a teeming slum, the concept of individual salvation is a powerful one. At the same time, the attempted hijacking of Muslim theology by a small band of homegrown terrorists who have killed hundreds of Indonesians in recent years has led some to question their nation’s majority faith. So, too, has the general trend toward a more conservative Islam that has given rise to hundreds of religiously inspired bylaws, from caning for beer-drinking to enforced dress codes for women.

Not everyone, though, is celebrating Christianity’s boom. Some Muslims view the faith as an unwanted foreign influence, even though Islam, too, is an imported religion. Since the country exchanged dictatorship for democracy more than a decade ago, a great diversity of voices has arisen. But an unfortunate byproduct of this pluralism has been an uptick in religious conflict, which has affected unorthodox offshoots of Islam and Christian sects alike. Although bloody outpourings — like the communal riots that claimed more than 1,000 Christian and Muslim lives in Poso and Ambon around a decade ago — have ceased, spasms of violence are still occurring.

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Over the past couple of years, Christian groups say, dozens of churches and theological academies have been destroyed or forced to shut by Islamic groups who accuse Christians of stealing believers from Muslim ranks. Despite appointing prominent Christians to his Cabinet, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said little to defend religious minorities, and has remained silent as dozens of local governments pass Islamic-based laws that threaten Christian rights. Such moves “conflict with the constitution and have the potential to threaten freedom of religion in this country,” according to Hendardi, chairman of the Setara Institute, a Jakarta-based NGO that promotes pluralism.

Last year, the Indonesia Ulema Council, an influential Islamic clerical body, sounded the alarm about Christian proselytization and called on Muslims to more staunchly guard their faith. The pace with which unlicensed churches are being shut down by local authorities is also increasing. Christians complain that gaining official sanction to build a mosque is easy while getting similar permission for churches is glacial. As a consequence, most Christian houses of worship are unofficial. “There is a real fear that Christianity is on the march,” says Mike Hilliard, a Scottish minister who with his Indonesian wife runs an orphanage outside Jakarta that has been targeted by militant Muslims. “Because of this fear, emotions are easily stirred up and mobs can form quickly.” (See pictures of colorful religious festivals.)

Defenders of faith have mobilized in neighboring Malaysia too. After a local court ruled on Dec. 31 that a Malaysian Christian newspaper could refer to the Christian deity as Allah, many Muslims, who constitute the multiethnic country’s majority, protested. Christians professed puzzlement: when speaking Malay, they had used the word Allah for centuries — why the sudden outrage now? Prominent Islamic activists responded by saying that sharing one word for two different gods could lead some Muslims to unwittingly stray to Christianity. By January, passions had spilled onto holy turf, with around a dozen churches, one mosque and a Sikh temple attacked. Late that month, eight people were arrested for suspected roles in the firebombing of a Pentecostal church in the capital of Kuala Lumpur.

As both Muslims and Christians more fervently express their faith, a kind of spiritual siloing is developing in Southeast Asia, in contrast to the sectarian mixing that often characterized relations in previous generations. “Even compared to five years ago, relations between Christians and Muslims have worsened,” says Father Andang Binawan, a Roman Catholic priest in Jakarta who holds a Ph.D. in theology from a Belgian university. “Many people now, including government officials, feel pressure by society to identify themselves as good Muslims and they worry that by associating with people of other religions, they will be seen as less pious. Even saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to a Christian can be seen as a problem.” (See “Indonesia Faces Muslim Pressure.”)

At the same time, aggressive proselytization by Evangelical groups, both foreign and local, leads to accusations that Christians are hungry for souls — and church donations. Website and sermon invectives, in which some Christian preachers dismiss Muslims as terrorists, also feed a prejudicial cycle that is spinning both sides away from Indonesia’s pluralistic underpinnings. (Unlike neighboring Malaysia, which was set up as a Muslim state — although one that guarantees minority religious rights — Indonesia recognizes six official faiths: Islam, Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism.) “We have many [religions], and they all coexist peacefully,” President Yudhoyono told TIME last November. “This is the capital we will use to show that a clash of civilizations can be prevented.” But even as he spoke, Christian theological students were staging a sit-in on a busy Jakarta street to protest having been intimidated into evacuating their campus after threats from Muslim mobs. A clash of civilizations seemed to be exactly what was taking place.

Raising Spirits
To get to the hip-hop concert, you have to walk through a five-star hotel’s lobby, go past a parking lot and take a cramped elevator ride to the 12th floor. There, in an anonymous Jakarta annex syncopated by a purple strobe light, Indonesian youths dance for Jesus. The congregation bops to the beat, waving their arms in the air as the lyrics implore them to let their “lives be a celebration” of Jesus’ love. After pastor Jose Carol takes to the stage, some worshippers whip out their iPhones, onto which they have loaded electronic copies of the Bible. Back when the Jakarta Praise Community Church formed a decade ago, only a couple hundred people attended its services; today the congregation has grown to 5,500 mostly young urbanites.

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A few hours earlier, in Jakarta’s Kemayoran business district, parishioners gathered in the main auditorium of the Evangelical Reformed Millennium Center, which seats more than 4,500 people. Above the crowds, a pair of giant TV screens broadcast the sermon of Stephen Tong, an Indonesian pastor who conducts weekly services throughout Asia — including Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong — and ministers to a regional congregation that has grown to 15,000 in just two decades. Opened in 2008, the church complex cost $30 million to build — and it took 17 years to obtain permission from local authorities. The privately funded church is the largest licensed one in the capital, although an unofficial megachurch with space for 10,000 faithful is nearing completion in a Jakarta suburb. When Tong, 69, raised a crucifix onto the church’s massive steeple, worshippers at a nearby mosque complained. Tong didn’t back down. “Jakarta has 1.2 million Christians, so a church for 4,000 people is nothing,” he says. “We did this all legally, so why can’t we put a cross on our church, just like mosques have their symbol?”

Other Indonesian Christians worry that such towering icons will only serve to inflame Muslim sentiment. The dangers are all too real. Take the hundreds of students from the Arastamar Evangelical School of Theology, who staged the November sit-in. They were subsisting in refugee-like conditions, sleeping on thin mats in an abandoned Jakarta building with no electricity or running water. Before that, the beleaguered students lived for months in a park, 35 to a tent. Yet on the outskirts of east Jakarta, the Christian college actually had a handsome campus. In July 2008, hundreds of Islamic extremists crowded the school’s gates, accusing students of proselytizing among the local Muslim community — a charge the institute’s leaders deny. When three students tried to escape, thugs threw acid in their faces. With local government officials advising the student population to decamp because of continuing danger, Arastamar officials had no choice but to accept the government’s proposal for makeshift housing. “How can you say there is true freedom of religion here if things like this can happen to us?” asks school principal Jusup Lifire. (See 10 surprising facts about the world’s oldest Bible.)

Muslim converts to Christianity are also targets, their apostasy viewed by some radical Islamic scholars as deserving of execution. Syaiful Hamzah grew up as the madrasah-attending son of a Muslim family in Jakarta that helped build the neighborhood mosque. But while working in eastern Indonesia’s Maluku archipelago, which has a substantial Christian population, he was swayed by Evangelical teachings. By 2000, he had been baptized at a Pentecostal church and returned to Jakarta to begin theological studies. His family cut him off; one brother threatened to burn his house down. Undeterred, he began lay-preaching to a house-church congregation in his modest home near Jakarta’s port. In 2008, a mob armed with clubs showed up and demanded Syaiful stop. He shuttered his church but still guides Muslim converts to Christianity, the number of which he says is growing, in part, because of the terror attacks unleashed in Indonesia in the name of Islam. “So many have converted,” he says, “but they are afraid to say so publicly because Muslims will harass them.”

The numbers of converts may not be as high as Islamic groups fear. Some so-called converts were Christians all along. In the 1960s, a government anticommunist drive forced each citizen to pick a religion for inclusion on their national ID card. (Suspected communists were quick to pick a religion to convince authorities they were not atheist Marxists.) Worried about future persecution and loath to give up the chance for certain career opportunities reserved for Muslims, some Christians chose Islam for their ID cards, even though they quietly kept going to church. Now they’re officially switching to their true religion, seeing safety in growing numbers. Another significant group of Indonesian converts to charismatic sects is ethnic Chinese. But they are abandoning Chinese religions or mainline Protestantism, not Islam. (See “Indonesia’s Fatwa Against Yoga.”)

still, it’s hard to ignore the power of a revival like the one held in Temanggung — and easy to understand why some Muslims have reservations about encroaching Christianity. Permission to hold the meeting was only granted after the organizers put up a sign forbidding Muslims from entering. Nevertheless, among the line of sick and suffering hoping to be healed was an elderly Muslim man who others said was blind. After fervent prayers from worshippers in the driving rain, he suddenly blinked and gazed at the gathered crowd. “A Muslim who can now see,” said pastor Jason Balompapueng, tears rising in his eyes. “It is a miracle.” The faithful urged the tottering man onstage to bear witness to his regained sight. As the man clambered up the stairs, he removed his peci, an Indonesian fezlike hat often associated with Islam. A visiting minister from Jakarta blessed him. Another soul was saved, the Christian pastor rejoiced. Tomorrow, he vowed, there would be more.

With reporting by Jason Tedjasukmana / Jakarta

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Bibles with ‘Allah’ are Confiscated

 http://www.latimes. com/news/ nationworld/ world/la- fg-briefs30- 2009oct30, 0,7232083. story

 
October 30, 2009
 
MALAYSIA

Bibles with ‘Allah’ are confiscated

Malaysian authorities have confiscated more than 15,000 Bibles because they referred to “God” as “Allah,” a translation that has been banned in this Muslim-majority country, Christian church officials said.

The Rev. Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia, said authorities seized a consignment of 10,000 copies sent from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Kuching, in Sarawak state, on Sept. 11 because the Indonesian-language Bibles contained the word “Allah.”

An additional 5,100 Bibles, also imported from Indonesia, were seized in March, said an official from the Bible Society of Malaysia.

A Home Ministry official said he was not aware of the seizures.

Church officials say “Allah” is not exclusive to Islam but is an Arabic word that predates Islam.

Discussion: Do you think that religion can create terrorism?

Pormadi has begin a discussion on mylot.com, here is the discussion:

Do you think that religion could create a terrorism? I do not want to say that certain religion. Every single religion have potentiality to create a terrorism. How do you think?

Sunny68:

I do not agree with you. no religion can create terrorism. all religions are good both in content and intent. unfortunately some so called custodians of religions misinterpret and misuse religion for their own vested interests. history is full of events where wars have been waged in the name of religion but in reality were wars for land and wealth. empires were expanded in the name of religion but the benefit went to kings and so called custodians of religion.

Jis2507:

Religion cannot create terrorism.
Yeah, the media portrays (wrongly) Muslims as terrorists. This is very wrong and should stop.
Sure there are some extremeists but they do not speak for all Muslims.
There are extremists in every religion. I am a christian and let me tell you; there’s a such thing as Christian extremists.
The religion itself doesn’t create terrorists. It’s when the religion is taken completely out of proportion and not interpretted correctly, so no, religion cannot, will not, and should not create terrorism.

Ravenladyj:

Religion by itself doesnt and can’t for the most part but when combined with fanatics and ppl who misinterpret what any given religion tries to teach then yes it can….MIND YOU religion on its own comes very close to being able to create terrorism simply by how certain beliefs/rules etc are worded…Religion can, is and has been for centuries, the BASE of terrorism but the acts themselves fall strictly on the doorstep of man..

Pose123:

Hi pormadi, I don’t believe that any of the major religions of the world teach terrorism, in fact no religion that I know off does so. It is only when fanatics twist what religion is saying to mean something else that we have this problem. Blessings.

I think the problem is not a religion, but the people who do not understand the true teaching of a religion.

Terror Plot Emerges as Secret Service Game

Manufacturing Consent For The “War On Terror”

Terror Plot Emerges as Secret Service Game

By Julio Godoy

August 20, 2009 — BERLIN, Aug 20 ( IPS) – It was announced as a terror plot busted. German police had captured three young Muslim men in the small village Medebach-Oberschled or, some 450 km southwest of Berlin Sep. 4 in 2007. The police declared they had seized 730 kilograms of hydrogen peroxide, enough to make 550 kg of explosives.

The three men, and a fourth, who was captured a year later in Turkey, wanted to bomb U.S. military and other facilities in Germany, and to kill “as many U.S. soldiers as possible,” one of the accused later confessed.

The four men told court their plans were in retaliation against the U.S. war on ‘Islamic terrorism’, especially the abuse of hundreds of Muslims detained at Guantanamo prison. German authorities and the media dubbed the four men ‘the Sauerland group’, in reference to the region where they were captured.

The Sauerland group were declared to be members of the Islamic Jihad Union, an alleged terrorist organisation based in Uzbekistan.

Almost two years later, the case is before the higher regional court in Duesseldorf, some 460 km southwest of Berlin, and should come to a close early 2010.

But now, the case has ceased to be “the serious terrorist threat” it was called. It is now a mysterious puzzle of secret service games, prosecutors’ alarmism spread by the media, and basic failures of justice.

The supposedly dangerous group members have emerged as no more than some muddle-heads. They had no links whatsoever to international Islamic terror groups.

“No Islamic chief villain…in Pakistan or somewhere else influenced the group,” says Hans Leyendecker, one of Germany’s top investigative journalists. “Its members are dumb, narrow-minded young men who hate the U.S.”

Moreover, the fifth member of the group, yet to be captured, has been described as a Turkish national known only as Mevlut K. He now appears as an informer of the Turkish national intelligence organisation (MIT, after its Turkish name). He was the key figure in the plot, according to confessions by other members of the Sauerland group.

“Without Mevlut, we would not have been able to go as far with the preparations as we did,” Attila Selek, one of the accused, told the court. ‘K’ had procured 26 fuses for the bombs the group was supposed to make, Selek said. Only, the fuses were useless. German police investigations showed that all but two were too humid to work.

Fritz Gelowicz, another member of the terrorist group, said the four men were informed of K’s links with the MIT. “We knew that Mevlut had links with several secret services,” Gelowicz told the court. “We though that these links were good for us.”

K apparently did not hide his links to the Turkish secret service. On at least one occasion K told the group they were being monitored by the German security agencies. “Then he told me he was stealing this information from secret services,” Selek told the court.

Despite warnings that the German police were constantly informed of their actions, the four men continued their preparations until they were captured.

Numerous sources have confirmed that the German foreign intelligence service Bundesnachrichtendi enst (BND) knew in 2004 that Mevlut K worked for the MIT. That year, the sources said, the MIT proposed to the BND that K be infiltrated into Islam movements in Germany. The BND reportedly rejected the Turkish plan.

Despite the confessions about K’s involvement, German justice failed to order his capture for a long time. Mevlut K. is believed to be living in Turkey.

German authorities only issued an international warrant against Mevlut K. Aug. 13, several weeks after depositions by the other four members of the group had been widely circulated.

The Sauerland group could have been “an orchestration to make believe that a huge terrorist threat” was looming over U.S. military facilities in Germany, says Rene Hellig, leading commentator with the Neues Deutschland daily.

Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray calls it a fake case orchestrated by Uzbek security services.

“I should make plain that regrettably it is a fact that there are those who commit violence, motivated by a fanatic version of their faith,” Murray wrote in his personal blog. “Sadly the appalling aggression of the U.S. government and allied war policy has made such reaction much more frequent. They may or may not have been planning to commit explosions. But if they were, the question is who was really pulling their strings, and why?”

Murray says there is no evidence of the existence of Islamic Jihad Union, alleged to have been directing the Sauerland group, other than that given by Uzbek security services. “There are, for example, no communications intercepts between senior terrorists referring to themselves as the Islamic Jihad Union,” he said.

Murray said the planned attacks the Uzbekistan government attributed to the group since the spring of 2004 “are in fact largely fake and almost certainly the work of the Uzbek security services, from my investigations on the spot at the time.” (END/2009)

 
 

C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help to Kill Jihadists

August 20, 2009

C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help to Kill Jihadists

WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency in 2004 hired outside contractors from the private security contractor Blackwater USA as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda, according to current and former government officials.

Executives from Blackwater, which has generated controversy because of its aggressive tactics in Iraq, helped the spy agency with planning, training and surveillance. The C.I.A. spent several million dollars on the program, which did not successfully capture or kill any terrorist suspects.

The fact that the C.I.A. used an outside company for the program was a major reason that Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A.’s director, became alarmed and called an emergency meeting in June to tell Congress that the agency had withheld details of the program for seven years, the officials said.

It is unclear whether the C.I.A. had planned to use the contractors to actually capture or kill Qaeda operatives, or just to help with training and surveillance in the program. American spy agencies have in recent years outsourced some highly controversial work, including the interrogation of prisoners. But government officials said that bringing outsiders into a program with lethal authority raised deep concerns about accountability in covert operations.

Officials said the C.I.A. did not have a formal contract with Blackwater for this program but instead had individual agreements with top company officials, including the founder, Erik D. Prince, a politically connected former member of the Navy Seals and the heir to a family fortune. Blackwater’s work on the program actually ended years before Mr. Panetta took over the agency, after senior C.I.A. officials themselves questioned the wisdom of using outsiders in a targeted killing program.

Blackwater, which has changed its name, most recently to Xe Services, and is based in North Carolina, in recent years has received millions of dollars in government contracts, growing so large that the Bush administration said it was a necessary part of its war operation in Iraq.

It has also drawn controversy. Blackwater employees hired to guard American diplomats in Iraq were accused of using excessive force on several occasions, including shootings in Baghdad in 2007 in which 17 civilians were killed. Iraqi officials have since refused to give the company an operating license.

Several current and former government officials interviewed for this article spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing details of a still classified program.

Paul Gimigliano, a C.I.A. spokesman, declined to provide details about the canceled program, but he said that Mr. Panetta’s decision on the assassination program was “clear and straightforward.”

“Director Panetta thought this effort should be briefed to Congress, and he did so,” Mr. Gimigliano said. “He also knew it hadn’t been successful, so he ended it.”

A Xe spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Senate Intelligence Committee, also declined to give details of the program. But she praised Mr. Panetta for notifying Congress. “It is too easy to contract out work that you don’t want to accept responsibility for,” she said.

The C.I.A. this summer conducted an internal review of the assassination program that recently was presented to the White House and the Congressional intelligence committees. The officials said that the review stated that Mr. Panetta’s predecessors did not believe that they needed to tell Congress because the program was not far enough developed.

The House Intelligence Committee is investigating why lawmakers were never told about the program. According to current and former government officials, former Vice President Dick Cheney told C.I.A. officers in 2002 that the spy agency did not need to inform Congress because the agency already had legal authority to kill Qaeda leaders.

One official familiar with the matter said that Mr. Panetta did not tell lawmakers that he believed that the C.I.A. had broken the law by withholding details about the program from Congress. Rather, the official said, Mr. Panetta said he believed that the program had moved beyond a planning stage and deserved Congressional scrutiny.

“It’s wrong to think this counterterrorism program was confined to briefing slides or doodles on a cafeteria napkin,” the official said. “It went well beyond that.”

Current and former government officials said that the C.I.A.’s efforts to use paramilitary hit teams to kill Qaeda operatives ran into logistical, legal and diplomatic hurdles almost from the outset. These efforts had been run by the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center, which runs operations against Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks.

In 2002, Blackwater won a classified contract to provide security for the C.I.A. station in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the company maintains other classified contracts with the C.I.A., current and former officials said.

Over the years, Blackwater has hired several former top C.I.A. officials, including Cofer Black, who ran the C.I.A. counterterrorism center immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.

C.I.A. operatives also regularly use the company’s training complex in North Carolina. The complex includes a shooting range used for sniper training.

An executive order signed by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976 barred the C.I.A. from carrying out assassinations, a direct response to revelations that the C.I.A. had initiated assassination plots against Fidel Castro of Cuba and other foreign politicians.

The Bush administration took the position that killing members of Al Qaeda, a terrorist group that attacked the United States and has pledged to attack it again, was no different from killing enemy soldiers in battle, and that therefore the agency was not constrained by the assassination ban.

But former intelligence officials said that employing private contractors to help hunt Qaeda operatives would pose significant legal and diplomatic risks, and they might not be protected in the same way government employees are.

Some Congressional Democrats have hinted that the program was just one of many that the Bush administration hid from Congressional scrutiny and have used the episode as a justification to delve deeper into other Bush-era counterterrorism programs.

But Republicans have criticized Mr. Panetta’s decision to cancel the program, saying he created a tempest in a teapot.

“I think there was a little more drama and intrigue than was warranted,” said Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

Officials said that the C.I.A. program was devised partly as an alternative to missile strikes using drone aircraft, which have accidentally killed civilians and cannot be used in urban areas where some terrorists hide.

Yet with most top Qaeda operatives believed to be hiding in the remote mountains of Pakistan, the drones have remained the C.I.A.’s weapon of choice. Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has embraced the drone campaign because it presents a less risky option than sending paramilitary teams into Pakistan.

Source: http://www.ny times.com/2009/08/20/us/20intel.html?_r=1&th=&emc=th&pagewanted=print

ZIONIST PIONEER RENOUCES ZIONISM

August 17, 2009

Zionist Pioneer Renounces Zionism

By HELENA COBBAN

 

I’ve never met Dov Yermiya, a Jewish Israeli peace activist who is now 94 years old. But I read of course the book he published in 1983 in which he wrote with anguish about the torture and other gross mistreatment of civilians he witnessed directly during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon the year before.

I have it in my hand now.

I just learned, from  an open letter published  by Uri Avnery, that Yermiya, recently renounced the ideology and practice of Zionism with these stirring words:

“I, a 95 year old Sabra (native born Israeli Jew), who has plowed its fields, planted trees, built a house and fathered sons, grandsons and great-grandsons, and also shed his blood in the battle for the founding of the State of Israel,

“Declare herewith that I renounce my belief in the Zionism which has failed, that I shall not be loyal to the Jewish fascist state and its mad visions, that I shall not sing anymore its nationalist anthem, that I shall stand at attention only on the days of mourning for those fallen on both sides in the wars, and that I look with a broken heart at an Israel that is committing suicide and at the three generations of offspring that I have bred and raised in it.

“… for 42 years, Israel turned what should have been Palestine into a giant detention camp, and is holding a whole people captive under an oppressive and cruel regime, with the sole aim of taking away their country, come what may!!!

“”The IDF eagerly suppresses their efforts at rebellion, with the active assistance of the settlement thugs, by the brutal means of a sophisticated Apartheid and a choking blockade, inhuman harassment of the sick and of women in labor, the destruction of their economy and the theft of their best land and water.

“Over all this there is waving the black flag of the frightening contempt for the life and blood of the Palestinians. Israel will never be forgiven for the terrible toll of blood spilt, and especially the blood of children, in hair-raising quantities.. . “

Avnery’s response is fascinating. He too is a veteran peace activist, and of about the same generation as Yermiya. But in the letter he is, I think, pleading with Yermiya not to renounce Zionism completely, but rather to reconnect with the “idealistic” Zionism that they both experienced during their youth.

He writes,

“When I think of our youth, yours and mine, one scene is never far from my mind: the 1947 Dalia festival.

“Tens of thousands of young men and women were sitting on the slope of a hill in the natural amphitheater near Kibbutz Dalia on Mount Carmel. Ostensibly it was a festival of folk dancing, but in reality it was much more – a great celebration of the new Hebrew culture which we were then creating in the country, in which folk dancing played an important role. The dancing groups came mainly from the kibbutzim and the youth movements, and the dances were original Hebrew creations, interwoven with Russian, Polish, Yemenite and Hassidic ones. A group of Arabs danced the Debka in ecstasy, dancing and dancing and dancing on.

“In the middle of the event, the loudspeakers announced that members of the UN Commission of Inquiry, which had been sent by the international organization to decide upon the future of the country, were joining us. When we saw them entering the amphitheater, the tens of thousands spontaneously rose to their feet and started to sing the “Hatikva”, the national anthem, with a holy fervor that reverberated from the surrounding mountains.

“We did not know then that within half a year the great Hebrew-Arab war would break out – our War of Independence and their Naqba. I believe that most of the 6000 young people who fell in the war on our side, as well as the thousands that were wounded – like you and me – were present at that moment in Dalia, seeing each other and singing together.

“What state did we think of then? What state did we set out to create?

“What has happened to the Hebrew society, the Hebrew culture, the Hebrew morality that we were so proud of then?”

Then, he pleads this:

“You, Dov, have invested in this state much too much to turn your back on it in a gesture of anger and despair. The most hackneyed and worn-out slogan in Israel is also true: ‘We don’t have another state!’

“Other states in the world have sunk to the depths of depravity and committed unspeakable crimes, far beyond our worst sins, and still brought themselves back to the family of nations and redeemed their souls.

“We and all the members of our generation, who were among those who created this state, bear a heavy responsibility for it. A responsibility to our offspring, to those oppressed by this state, to the entire world. From this responsibility we cannot escape.

“Even at your respectable age, and precisely because of it and because of what you represent, you must be a compass for the young and tell them: This state belongs to you, you can change it, don’t allow the nationalist wreckers to steal it from you!

“True, 61 years ago we had another state in mind. Now, after our state has tumbled to where it is today, we must remember that other state, and remind everybody, every day, what the state should have been like, what it can be like, and not allow our vision to disappear like a dream. Let’s lend our shoulders to every effort to repair and heal!
These are very weighty issues that these two longtime Zionists are debating.”

I remember the evening I had back in early March with longtime Jewish-Israeli nonviolence activist Amos Gvirtz. Gvirtz is “only” in his late 60s or early 70s. But like Avnery and Yermiya he grew up in Israel.

He told me in March,

“I became an anti-Zionist after Oslo, when the government expelled the Arabs of Jahhaleenn to make room for the big new settlement area if Maale Adummim… Like the Zionists, I believe we Jews need a state of our own. But unlike the Zionists I don’t think this should be built on the ruins of someone else’s home. So our state need not necessarily be right here.”

Gvirtz, too, like Avnery, identified a strong link between the events of 1947-48 and the situation today– though the nature of the link Gvirtz identified was very different from Avnery’s: “The Nakba wasn’t really a single event that happened in 1948, so much as a long-drawn-out process, that continues to this day.” In other words, he was quite unwilling to neatly divide Israeli history, as Avnery still does, between the idealized, prelapsarian days of the 1947 Dalia festival and the post-lapsarian era that was inaugurated- – in Avnery’s view– only by Israel’s conquest of the West Bank.

Obviously, this is a very weighty issue for Zionists and their supporters to grapple with. Did 1967 mark a notable break between a laudable past and a troublesome present? Or were there indeed, as Gvirtz and many other current non- and anti-Zionists have argued, many elements of continuity from the 1947 period right through to the present?

Anyway, I’d love to see the whole text of the latest Yermiya letter from which Avnery is quoting, if anyone can provide a link to it, preferably in English. The only recent English text that I could find by him online was this letter, published in the Communist weekly Zo Haderekh in June 2008.

In it, Yermiya was returning to Defense Minister Barak the invitation he had been sent to attend a ceremony to honor all veterans of Israel’s 1948 “War of Independence” .

He wrote,

“As a veteran of the 1948 war, who was already wounded in face to face combat two weeks before the Declaration of the State, I feel obliged herewith to return the invitation to you, as Minister of Defence. I do so regretfully but see this as my duty.

“I consider you, Ehud Barak, as one of the top military commanders and prominent political leaders who were responsible for converting the army from ‘the Israeli Defence Force’ to an army of occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people and defender of the criminal settlements in their country.

“40 years of occupation have utterly corrupted the Israeli army and all strata of Israeli society.They are both characterized by the nationalist ‘east wind’ [the east wind brings the chamsin and locusts ]which blows and kindles conflagrations of endless wars, which threaten our people and land with the third and final destruction. Your share in the responsibility for all this is enormous, and therefore I return your invitation to you, without thanks…”

Helena Cobban is a veteran writer, researcher, and program organizer on global  affairs. Since 2003 she has published  “Just World News”, a lively blog on international issues that has gained a broad international readership. She can be reached at hcobban@gmail. com