Monday, May 31, 2010

Former US paratrooper & diplomat had joined Gaza flotilla

A retired U.S. diplomat, Edward L. Peck, was among 11 Americans who had joined the flotilla of activist ships that were forcibly diverted Monday from Gaza, where they were planning to unload humanitarian supplies and demonstrate their ability to break the years-long Israeli blockade on the impoverished Palestinian territory.
Peck is an interesting and controversial character. A former Army paratrooper, he was in the Foreign Service for three decades, serving in a number of posts in the Arab world, including as chief of mission in Baghdad under the Carter administration. In the Reagan years, he worked on terrorism issues in the White House. He has sinced emerged as an outspoken critic of U.S. and Israeli policies the Middle East. (Here's the transcript of a 2006 interview he gave with Democracy Now, the left-wing radio show, in which he describes certain actions by the United States and Israel as fitting the defintion of terrorism.)
In an interview on CNN in October 2001, Peck warned that invading Iraq would be a mistake. "But when you take out Saddam Hussein," he said, "the key question you have to ask then is, what happens after that? And we don't have a clue. Nobody knows, but it's probably going to be bad."
Peck also supposedly inspired President Obama's former preacher, Jeremiah Wright, to say "the chickens are coming home to roost" after the September 11, 2001, attacks. He was also highly critical of the U.S. handling of the 2006 Lebanon War, accusing the Bush administration of deliberately extending the fighting.
Although there are reports that Israeli toops fired shots at the ship Peck was on, the Sfendoni, I'm told he is OK and headed home to New York (all of the casualties seem to have taken place on the Marmara, much larger vessel). Peck was among four other Americans representing the Free Palestine Movement, an activist group from California.

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