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Head of Philippines Supreme Court Calls the U.S. War On Terror "Mindless"
By RIA Novosti's Mikhail Tsyganov in JAKARTA.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno has denounced as "mindless" the war on
terrorism, saying the US strategy to root out terrorists anywhere has led to
violations of human rights in the Philippines, writes on Monday "Philippine Daily

"The threats to our national security and human rights will be aggravated if we have
a state : weakened externally by pressure exerted by creditor countries, by
countries where our trade comes from, by countries that supply our military and
police armaments," Puno said.

"A weak state cannot fully protect the rights of its citizens within its borders
just as a state without economic independence cannot protect the rights of its
citizens who are abroad from the exploitation of more powerful countries," he added.

Puno said that in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, the United States
pursued a strategy of "bruising aggressiveness" that sent legal observers wondering.

He said the effects of US actions had spilled over to the Philippines.

He pointed out that the US did not even wait for the United Nations to act and
instead launched attacks against terrorists wherever they could be found.

"In less polite parlance, the search and destroy strategy gave little respect to the
sovereignty of states and violated their traditional borders," he said.

He added that this strategy trampled on the basic liberties of suspected terrorists,
"for laws are silent when the guns of war do the talking."

Last week the head of the Thai National Security Council General Sonthi
Boonyaratglin refused to accept the United States' assistance in fighting terrorism
in the south of the kingdom.

"Thailand appreciates the offer, but we regard the situation in the southern region
as an internal affair," he told the Associated Press news agency. "But we would
appreciate it if the United States could provide assistance to us in the area of
information, since the United States has experience in the Middle East and

Major General David Fridovich, commander of the Special Operations Command Pacific
(SOCPAC), expressed concern about the growing unrest in Thailand's southern regions
at a conference in Hawaii on Wednesday. He offered assistance in training Thai
military personnel in the event that official Bangkok requested such help, the AP

Fridovich said the Americans could teach the Thai military how to apply a "softer
touch" to gain the support of locals and isolate the insurgents.

Meanwhile, the local media had earlier suggested that the U.S. Central Intelligence
Agency could in fact be partly to blame for the wave of violence flooding southern
Thailand, with a death toll exceeding 2,100 people in slightly more than three

The Thai newspaper The Nation previously wrote that the former Thai government,
toppled in last year's bloodless military coup, has been closely monitoring the
covert Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Center (CTIC), which was established in early
2001 by the U.S. special services.

The population of the southern regions suspects that the CIA-financed center
manipulates violence there in order to bind the Thai government to the United
States, The Nation wrote. According to the newspaper, at least 20 CIA agents operate
under the CTIC cover, most of them based in the three southern provinces,
Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala.

Bangkok rejected the United States' first proposal to expand its "counter-terrorist
umbrella" to Thailand by building a U.S. military base in the south of the country
back in 2004. Thailand has the right to do or not to do what it deems advisable in
politics, said Jakrapob Penkair, who was government spokesman at the time.

Neighboring Malaysia, too, bluntly dismissed the idea of expanding the U.S. war on
terror to Thailand. Its foreign minister, Syed Hamid Albar, said other nations'
interference could only complicate the situation.

"The Americans have certainly made several attempts to install a more visible
presence here, but these have been resisted over the years. You can imagine what
acknowledging an American presence would do to ASEAN relations, but Thais have their
own issues with U.S. forces," said Dr. John Walsh, a political scientist at
Shinawatra University and editor of the Bangkok-based magazine ASEAN Affairs, in an
e-mail interview with RIA Novosti on Thursday.

"Senior Thai police counter-terrorism officials have openly carped that US Federal
Bureau of Investigation terror-related sting operations have frequently impinged on
Thai sovereignty", recently wrote Asia Times online.

The opinions expressed here are the author's and do not necessarily represent those
of RIA Novosti. -0-

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