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January 16, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-01-16

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4- The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 16, 2002

OP/ED

ahbe irbimanu DuiIjl

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
daily. letters@umich. edu

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

GEOFFREY GAGNON
Editor in Chief
MICHAEL GRASS
NICHOLAS WOOMER
Editorial Page Editors

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's
editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
CI have no
idea what's
next. I have no
idea where my
husband is."
Salma al Rushaid, wife of Global Relief
Foundation chairman and Ann Arbor
resident Rabih Haddad, on being kept
in the dark about Haddad's alleged
terrorist connections, arrest and
subsequent transfer to Chicago.

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0

A conspiracy theory worth discussing
NICK WOOMER BACK TO THE WOOM-
he daisy cutter and public affairs web-zine, indicates that the U.S. After the Sept. 11 attacks, when authorities did
cluster bombs now was planning to provide actual troops in a coor- search Moussaoui's computer, they found evi-
raining down on dinated attack on Taliban targets with Russia, dence that would have heightened suspicions
people in Afghanistan Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. he was a terrorist."
would be coming down The indiareacts.com report was validated by What can explain the Moussaoui debacle
regardless of whether the a Sept. 18 report by the BBC, which was in turn and other pre-Sept. 11 screw-ups? Gross negli-
Sept. 11 attacks had hap- validated by a Sept. 22 article in the British gence -the government's official excuse - is
pened. newspaper The Guardian. It turns out that at a one explanation. The other possibility is that
For weeks now, articles meeting of senior American, Russian, Iranian certain high-ranking government officials actu-
indicating that the U.S. has and Pakistani diplomats in Berlin in mid-July of ally expected some sort of terrorist attack and
been planning military 2001, three American officials said that a U.S.- worked actively to not prevent it so as to have a
action in Afghanistan since the spring of 2001 led coalition would take military action against pretext to start a war with the Taliban that many
have circulated among left-wing circles on the the Taliban by mid-October if Osama bin Laden feared would result in massive U.S. casualties.
Internet; almost all of them are from credible was not turned over soon. Former Pakistani for- It's always a good idea to be sceptical of
mainstream news sources. eign secretary Niaz Naik, who was present at conspiracy theories, but not so sceptical as to
A Nov. 18 article in The Washington Post the meeting and who told BBC and Guardian simply ignore evidence pointing to an uncom-
by Bob Woodward reported that super-secret reporters what happened, "said it was doubtful fortable conclusion.
CIA units known as the Special Activities Divi- that Washington would drop its plan even if bin Pre-Sept. 11, it would probably have been
sion have been operating in Afghanistan on and Laden were to be surrendered immediately by hard for officials to convince Washington
off since 1997. "For the last 18 months, the CIA the Taliban," said the BBC report. Naik also elites that a risky military incursion into
has been working with tribes and warlords in said that he related the U.S. threat to the Taliban Afghanistan was worth it. Prior to the attacks,
southern Afghanistan, and the division's units (and thus, we may presume, bin Laden) via the many leading conservative thinkers were
have helped create a significant new network in Pakistani government. advocating that the Bush administration take a
the region of the Taliban's greatest strength" Such strong evidence that it was widely softer-line against the Taliban so as to give
wrote Woodward. An Oct. 3 Post article even known among elites that a U.S. invasion of U.S. companies better access to Central Asian
describes a CIA plot to have 60 Pakistani com- Afghanistan was imminent ought to cause us to oil (see my Oct. 31 column). In fact, former
mandos sneak into Afghanistan to kill or capture ask some serious questions about what the gov- Reagan national security adviser Robert
Osama bin Laden. ernment may have been expecting prior to Sept. McFarlane wrote about his attempts to con-
Interestingly, even months before Sept. 11, it 11. If bin Laden knew the U.S. was hell-bent on vince CIA officials to actively back anti-Tal-
was no secret among people "in the know" that finishing him off (especially if he knew military iban guerillas in Feb. 2001, in a Nov. 2 piece
a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was imminent. actions would begin in mid-October), it is more in the Wall Street Journal. "In one astonishing
On March 15, 2001, an article by Rahul Bedi in than likely he might have considered a preemp- exchange we were told, to paraphrase, 'We
the prestigious but fairly obscure Jane's Intelli- tive strike against the U.S. or U.S. interests don't have our marching orders concerning
gence Review reported that "India is believed to overseas. U.S. policy; it may be that we will end up
have joined Russia, the USA and Iran in a con- On Sunday, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune dealing with the Taliban."'
certed front against Afghanistan's Taliban reported that after Zacarias Moussaoui (the The evidence for this theory is by no means
regime ... Intelligence sources in Delhi said that "20th hijacker") was arrested by the FBI in conclusive, but given the U.S. government's
while India, Russia and Iran were leading the August "bureau lawyers in Washington repeat- insatiable tendency to lie (Iran-Contra anyone?)
anti-Taliban campaign on the ground, Washing-. edly declined requestrprn ivMinneapolis there is good reason to take it seriously_
ton was giving the Northern Alliance informa- agents to seek a special warrant under the For-
tion and logistic support." However, a June 6. eign Intelligence Surveillance Act authorizing Nick Woomer can be reached via
special report on indiareacts.com, an Indian a search of Moussaoui's laptop computer ::. e-mail at nwoomer@umich.edu.
V ESSAY
Whose Ann Arbor?
Part II: In a city shaped by student empowerment, apathy has killed our voice

BY MICHAEL GRASS
Students once had a voice, but it is hard to
find any traces of it now.
On the walls of Gold Bond Cleaners on
Maynard Street, there are a few paintings of
what the neighborhood used to look like.
Between Nickels Arcade and the building New
York Pizza Depot is now in, there was a quaint
old Victorian house, with a big front porch. The
McDonald's restaurant that replaced it now sits
abandoned. It will make way for the eighit-story
Collegian retail and condominium project and
its million dollar-plus penthouses, when ever the
developer can get enough tenants to warrant
construction.
In 1974, students rallied to save the old
house from the wrecking ball. In their minds,
McDonald's was an element they did not want

in the student neighborhood. They
wanted the last house on Maynard
Street to remain because it was a
neighborhood fixture in a concrete
canyon.
Although the students who tried
in vain to save the last house on
Maynard Street were progressive
activists, many protested just to
protest, interest in local issues
wasn't limited to just agitators. It
was more main-stream to be inter-

But sa
somethin
affects st
.living Ii
city - lik
isn't as
cuddly as
projec
elementar
stude

population. "Proportionally, students should
make up one-third of the city council," Feldman
said.
Currently, students do not hold any seats on
the council. Throughout the 1970s, the third
party student-rooted Human Rights Party held
multiple seats on the council, pressing progres-
sive issues. Before ward boundaries were
redrawn in the early 1980s, students had a better
chance in winning certain areas of the city. Ann
Arbor was one of the first cities to enact human
rights ordinances and -also became famous for
its $5 marijuana possession fine.
Because of student activism on the council
more than 20 years ago, Ann Arbor can claim to
be one of the most female-friendly cities in the
nation and can boast an openly-gay state repre-
sentative that represents the city.
Students pushed progressive issues on the
city before they were broadly
3dly, accepted. But today, people don't
ng that recognize how important students
fudents were in making Ann Arbor such a
n the progressive place. The city - and
e rent - the University - benefits from the
cute or students who made Ann Arbor an
a penpal oasis of open-mindedness in the
t for often-stifled Midwest.
y school But Feldman said the Human
nts. Rights party back then represented
progressive causes more than stu-
dent issues. He said that even though the current
way the wards are drawn end up disenfranchis-
ing University students, that doesn't mean that
students cannot make a difference right now.
During the city council elections in Novem-
ber, Joan Lowenstein (D-Ward II), lost her seat.
She faced a tough battle in the 2nd Ward
because it is heavily conservative, Feldman
said. If you look at a map, the 2nd Ward
includes the Hill-area residence halls - a gold
mine for Democrats. But voter turnout among
students on the Hill was abysmal. Lowenstein
lost by only 43 votes.
"If we would have had a month (to get out
the vote), the Democrats would have had that
seat," Feldman said.
Feldman, along with Michigan Student
Assembly President Matt Nolan, said city coun-
cil members do not represent students who live

01

ested in city politics, after Watergate and before
the Gulf War.
Even the Greek system, which is today one
of the most apathetic and isolated sectors of cam-
pus, defended their rights as student residents in
the city in 1987 when residents in the North
Burns Park area tried to restrict their housing.
Students complain about rent constantly.
After Evanston, Ill., Ann Arbor is the most
expensive Big Ten city. Although students may
find a student-oriented city issue like high rent
annoying, there hasn't been a movement - or
even a broad-based study committee - to see
what can be done about it.
HOPES TO REGAIN LOST VOICES
Twenty years ago, the attitude would have
been different.
"But things aren't that way anymore," said

FILE PHOTO
Can the Michigan Student Assembly give
students a voice In Ann Arbor. In its current
state, no.
campus student housing.
"Rent is something that affects everyone off-
campus," Nolan said.
But the mechanism that promoted student
empowerment 20 years ago - a strong coalition
of students - doesn't even show up on local
political radar. While the Michigan Student
Assembly may be able to tackle limited Universi-
ty issues, the assembly as a whole has been mired
in petty political bickering for years and has been
unable address student issues off-campus.
Nolan said if MSA were to address rent
issues, it would take a strong individual within
the assembly who has an interest in such an issue.
And looking at the make-up of the current
assembly, it's no wonder why student empow-
erment has died and shows why it will take a
miracle to revive it. Imagine what MSA could
do for student issues - including off-campus
ones - if it attacked each one with the zeal a
few members of the assembly did regarding Fall
Break. (To MSA reps: Imagine how it would
look on your resumes if you pushed a rent ordi-
nance or student neighborhood initiatives on the
city council?)
But we cannot blame MSA for everything,
even if it is a convenient and often comical
scapegoat. The blame must be spread to the stu-
dent oopulation as a whole. Sadly, something

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