|Asia News Digest
Philippine Senate Rejects U.S. Demand for 'Anti-Terror' Law
Paralleling the Cheney-Bush demand that the U.S. Congress ram through a new Patriot Act without protection of citizens' civil rights, National Intelligence Director (NID) John Negroponte travelled to Manila to demand that the Philippine Congress immediately pass an anti-terror bill drafted by President Gloria Arroyo's Administration. President Bush, in his meeting with Arroyo at the November APEC meeting, is reported to have made the same demand.
The House, dominated by Arroyo's supporters, passed the bill, but the Senate has refused to be rushed, the Manila Times reported Dec. 20. Senator Joker Arroyo said he and his colleagues would not "allow Malacanang [the Presidential palace] to stampede the Senate into enacting an anti-terrorism bill that could go against the Constitution's Bill of Rights for every Filipino," adding that Arroyo's plea "was made as result of Bush's badgering." He noted that Bush himself could not muster enough influence on the U.S. Senate to rush the renewal of the Patriot Act through.
The bill includes provisions which allow arrest without warrants, grants the government the power to wiretap phones and e-mails, and grants carte blanche to seize financial records. Any meeting of people, or membership in groups out of favor with the government, could suffice to open an investigation.
Japan and India Plan Military Cooperation
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh discussed military cooperation on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur on Dec. 16, according to available reports. In this program, India will be allowed to use the Japanese Navy and Coast Guard bases for a joint exercise in the Asia-Pacific region, and later upgrade it to a trilateral exercise with the United States. This is conceived in New Delhi as an expression of Japan's growing interest in establishing a stronger political, economic, and strategic relationship with India. In return, Japan seeks a similar arrangement for the Japanese Navy, to use the Indian Navy bases from which they can conduct rescue operations, joint exercises against terrorism, and provide security to the maritime traffic.
Pakistan Will Stand By Iran if U.S. Attacks
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri said Pakistan strictly opposes any U.S. attack on Iran, and will stand by Iran if this extreme step is taken by the United States. Speaking at a press conference at Naqeebabad, on Dec. 17, Kasuri reiterated that Pakistan aspires to resolve Iran's nuclear issue according to the principles laid down by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Foreign Minister Kasuri's statement came days before U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's Dec. 20 one-day visit to Pakistan. Cheney's visit to Pakistan was expected to be dominated by his armtwisting of President Pervez Musharraf, including silencing Pakistan on the prisoner torture scandal and reported "secret CIA jails" in Pakistan. Cheney, however, had to rush back to Washington in an unsuccessful effort to salvage the police-state Patriot Act in the U.S. Senate, with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld taking his place in Pakistan.
India and Pakistan To Build Pipeline to Iran; U.S. Fumes
India and Pakistan agreed on Dec. 17 to begin work by 2007 on a pipeline to bring natural gas from Iran, moving ahead with the project despite U.S. disapproval. The 1,750-mile pipeline would serve the growing energy needs of India's economy and provide Pakistan with hundreds of millions of dollars in fees. Washington opposes investments that benefit Iran, which it accuses of trying to build atomic weapons.
Pakistani and Indian oil ministry officials met in New Delhi and agreed to complete a framework of agreement by April of next year, the Press Trust of India news agency quoted India's Petroleum Secretary S.C. Tripathi as saying. The proposed $4 billion pipeline would transport natural gas from Iran to India through Pakistan by the end of the 2010, the report said. The pipeline is one of a number of initiatives designed to improve relations between Indian and Pakistan. Iran proposed the pipeline in 1996, but the project never got off the ground mainly because of Indian concerns over its security in Pakistan. India imports more than 65% of its oil.
U.S. Ran 'Dark Prison' in Kabul
Citing accounts of detainees at Guantanamo, Human Rights Watch of New York, in a report released on Dec. 19, said, as late as last year, the U.S. operated a secret prison in Kabul. Eight detainees in Guantanamo described to their attorneys how they were held at a facility near Kabul at various times between 2002 and 2004. The detainees, who called the facility the "dark prison" or the "prison of darkness," said they were chained to walls, deprived of food and drinking water, and kept in total darkness with loud rap, heavy-metal music, or other sounds blared for weeks at a time. Most of the detainees said they were arrested in other countries in Asia and the Middle East, and then flown to Afghanistan.
Ironically, the report was released the very day U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was in Kabul showering praises on Washington for "bringing democracy to Afghanistan."
U.S. Ambassador Angers Both North and South Korea
U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Alexander Vershbow angered both Koreas with recent statements defending continued American sanctions against Pyongyang, calling North Korea a "criminal regime," the Korea Times reported Dec. 17. The North Korean Ambassador to the UN, Pak Gil-yon, denounced the Vershbow statements as proof that the U.S. was undermining the September Six Power statement. The Speaker of the South Korean National Assembly echoed those remarks by saying that Vershbow went "too far," and was jeopardizing any further progress in the talks. Chung Dong-young, South Korea's unification minister, is now en route to Washington in a trip aimed at salvaging the Six Power talks.
The visit to Washington of Chung Dong-young comes shortly after North-South talks produced a joint declaration, that economic cooperation between the two states will accelerate. South and North Korean Ministerial Talks on Jeju Island Dec. 13-16 led to an Inter-Korean Joint Statement that announced: "South and North Korea agreed to expand inter-Korean economic cooperation for balanced development of the national economy, and interest and prosperity of the whole peninsula. The two sides agreed to take substantial measures to expand investment and cooperation in terms of size on the principle that inter-Korean economic cooperation is an internal cooperation project" (emphasis added). The two sides shared the understanding of the need to push for the second phase of development for the Kaesong industrial park and test runs for the West Coast and East Coast (Trans-Korean) railways," it said. No date, however, has been given for the first train to run.
LaRouche Interview in Korea: Global Crisis Coming
"Global Financial Crisis ComingExclusive Interview with LaRouche," reads one of the front-page headlines of South Korea's Mahl magazine's Internet journal Peacekeeping on Dec. 22, with a photo of LaRouche campaigning for President in 2004 (see http://peacemaking.co.kr/english/). The article is a reprint of the first two parts of LaRouche's eight-part interview with People's Daily of China.
The introduction reads: "People's Daily, China's leading newspaper, ran an interview on Nov. 22, 2005 with EIR Editor Lyndon LaRouche. It was read by over 6 million Chinese because LaRouche forecast the collapse of the U.S.S.R., and he now forecasts the collapse of the U.S. financial system (and global dollar system) due to the same errors. Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. is an American political leader, best known as a Presidential candidate. Yong Tang, People's Daily Washington writer, conducted an exclusive interview with LaRouche at his Virginia home."