UN official: US starves Iraqis in "flagrant violation" of international law

According to Jean Ziegler, a Swiss-born human rights inspector for the UN, "A drama is taking place in total silence in Iraq, where the coalition's occupying forces are using hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population." The US denies the charges, which Ziegler calls "a flagrant violation of international law."

In other Iraq news:
• The Village Voice reports that one of the soldiers participating in Bush's staged teleconference with troops in Iraq was actually a press flak, Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo. Media Citizen writes that Lombardo often appears in the mainstream media, but, as was the case in Bush's event, she's not always identified as a public affairs officer who is a direct spokesperson to the media.

• The US claims it intercepted a letter between senior al-Qaeda officials Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The timing of the letter's release (days before today's vote on the Iraqi constitution) and its content (points that directly justify the Bush administration's continuing war in Iraq) seem fishy. But al-Qaida's accusation that the Pentagon faked the letter isn't so convincing. But now other credible scholars in the US are questioning its authenticity. Among his doubts, Stephen Ulph of the Jamestown Foundation says its odd for two top al-Qaeda leaders to overtly spell out ideas that are common knowledge among mujahideen. And professor/Middle East expert Juan Cole questions terminology unlikely to be used by a Sunni like al-Zawahiri. Most glaring, though, is that US intelligence officials can't (or won't) discuss how they obtained the letter and what criteria they used to determine its authenticity.

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