cleared, but constantly evolves; eachrnday’s tnith is rexealed by CNN, the ubiquitousrnand blabber-mouthed oracle ofrnthe New World Order.rnRussia’s elites, born and bred to thernculture of disinformatsiya, have embracedrnNATO’s concept of “informationrnmanagement,” and their enemies have asrnwell. Wliile Moscow has its “Russian InformationrnCenter” (Rusinform) to filter,rncensor, concoct, and control the “news”rnfrom the Caucasus battlegrounds, thernChechens have —through the generousrnsupport of Osama Bin Ladin and BorisrnBerezovsk)—organized countermeasures,rnparticidarly through their website, Both sides have takenrnthe “information war” seriously, withrnRussian hackers attacking the websiternand Chechen webmasters spawning arnproliferation of alternate sites, evenrnas Russian bombers target Chechen cellularrncommimications and TV towersrn(as NATO did in Yugoslavia), and thernChechens hastilv find new means tornkeep up the war of words.rnThus, in the ne^•er-never land of “purernIslam,” Boris Yeltsin has been dead forrnweeks, Russian soldiers are flocking tornthe banners of Allah, Chechen mujahedinrnare slaughtering the hapless infidelrnin’aders by the thousands, and videotapesrnof Chechen hostage-takers beheadingrncaptives and slicing off the fingers ofrnhelpless victims in order to persuadernriieir relaties to cough up some cash arernprovocations b’ the unbelievers to blackenrnthe image of the holy warriors.rnOn the other side of the funhouse,rnRusinform’s carnival barkers are drawingrnin as many suckers as possible with talesrnof Grozny near surrender (the Chechenrncapital, reduced to a pile of rubble byrnRussian “pin-point” air strikes, has beenrn”surrounded” for about three weeks as ofrnearly December); the Chechen populace,rngrateful for having their homes vaporizedrnb- Russian “smart” weapons, arernthrowing flowers at their “liberators”; andrnChechen gangster Bislan Cantamirovrnhas repented and agreed to return tornChechina to help liberate his peoplernfrom the heel of the “bandits” and “terrorists.”rnIn the West, “human rights” activistsrnwant to have it both ways: Insisting thatrnRussia’s war on Chechnya must stop,rnthey appear to believe that the Chechensrnwill stop the slave and drug trades and rethinkrntheir notions about religious freedomrnas soon as the bombing ceases.rnThey are trumped in the informationrnspin battle by those hypocrihcal Westernersrnwho demand that Russia not equaternthe “action” in Kosovo with the “war” inrnChechnya. As far as spin goes, the reportsrnon casualties, civilian and otherwise, arernso contradictory that nobody can reallyrndetermine the truth.rnI am often asked, as someone who isrnsupposed to “know,” just who is right inrnChechnya, who is wrong, what should berndone, and what exactly is happeningrnthere? The answers are: everybody andrnnobodv; nobody and everybody; beatsrnme; and damned if I know. For anybodrnconsidering getting the West mixed up inrnthis centuries-old conflict, a word to thernwise: Be careful out there, don’t believerneverything you hear (or see), brighten therncorner where you are, mind your ownrnbusiness. And remember, war is hell.rn— Denis PetrovrnP R O – A B O R T I O N and pro-centralizationrnforces have won another victory inrnthe battle over partial-birth abortion. As Irndetailed in this space last month, a threejudgernpanel of the Seventh Circuit Courtrnof Appeals, breaking with other federalrncourts, upheld Wisconsin’s and Illinois’rnlaws against the procedure in Octoberrn1999. Planned Parenthood, the ntisnamedrnHope Clinic (the institutionrnwhich challenged the legality of the Illinoisrnban), and other abortion advocatesrnasked the entire Seventh Circuit court tornre erse or stay the decision.rnThe issue cleaved the full bench rightrndown the middle: In a 5-5 decision, thernpanel’s opinion was allowed to stand. (Itrnwould have taken a majorib,’ of the fullrncourt to overrule the panel.) Illinois andrnWisconsin could now enforce theirrnstatutes. Just in the nick of time, however,rnJohn Paul Stevens, the U.S. SupremernCourt justice charged with grantingrnemergency stays on matters involvingrnpossible violations of constitutional lawrnin the Seventh Circuit, effectively reversedrnthe 5-5 decision, granting a sta’ ofrnenforcement.rnStevens’ stay is only in effect until thernCourt decides whether to grant a writ ofrncertiorari, to review the decision of thernSeventh Circuit panel on its merits, andrnto reconcile the conflicting law on partial-rnbirth abortion in the federal courts.rnFor certiorari to be granted, at least fourrnjustices must indicate a desire to hear therncase.rnIt is a curious system whereby one manrnhas the awesome power of overrulingrn(een temporarily) the legislatures of twornsoNereign states, but that’s current constitutionalrnlaw. No one is quite sure whenrnthe Court will decide \ hether to take thernissue, and no one knows how the Courtrnwill rule if it does take the case. IllinoisrnAttorney General James Ryan had opposedrnthe stav, but Wisconsin AttorneyrnGeneral James Doyle appeared to favorrnit, hoping that the Supreme Court wouldrnresolve the issue once and for all. Petitioningrnthe Supreme Court for a stay, arngroup of Northwestern Universih’ obstetricians,rnapparently unaware of the oxymoronrnthey employed, declared thatrn”1 he Constitution simpK’ does not toleraternbans on safe abortion.” In contrast,rnBarbara Lyons, the executive director ofrnWisconsin Right to Life, noted ttiat “Thernreal losers in this situation are the babiesrnwho can continue to be killed in the processrnof being born.”rnThe stakes could not be higher. If thernSupreme Court upholds the Wisconsinrnand Illinois bans, there is an opportunityrnfor state governments not onl to regulaternabortion, but actualh’ to prohibit some ofrnits forms. If this happens, and if state governmentsrnbegin to assert their historicrnright to legislate in pureK’ domestic matters,rnit would be a tremendous victor)’ inrnthe great war to preserve the Constitutionrnand its original principle of dual state andrnfederal sovereignty’.rnThere still seems to be a consensusrnamong judges and scholars that states canrnban the abortion of viable fetuses, as longrnas the life of the mother is not therebv endangered.rnSince the partial-birth abortionrnprohibitions of Illinois and Wisconsinrncontain exceptions for cases inrnwhich the life of the mother is threatened,rnthe Supreme Court could upholdrnthem. Those who have attacked thesernlaws have either claimed that tiiey are toornvague (and therefore might hinder proceduresrnthat could be performed on non-viablernfetuses), or insisted that exceptionsrnmust be made to preser’e the “health” asrnwell as the “life” of the mother. An exceptionrnfor the “health” of the mother, ofrncourse, could be construed to includernany unfavorable mental state; in effect,rnany time the mother is “distressed” by herrnpregnancy and wants to terminate it, herrn”health” is at risk.rnOf course, the Supreme Court couldrnreverse the Seventh Circuit on thesern”overbreadth” or “maternal health”rngrounds. To do so, however, would callrnattention to the arbitrary nature of thernCourt’s abortion decisions, and there arernFEBRUARY 2000/7rnrnrn