They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Monday, January 31, 2005

$8.8 Billion Iraqi oil revenues 'missing'

The BBC's File On 4 programme has learnt that out of over $20bn raised in oil revenues during US-led rule, the use of $8.8bn is unaccounted for.

"There was insufficient internal control to assure that money was spent for the benefit of the Iraqis, as the UN Security Council resolution mandated," said the auditors' chief of staff, Ms Ginger Cruz. Link to File on 4

Also see Murdered contractor had alleged corruption in Iraq

and $300 million slides out of Iraq amid new corruption claims

In response to the report, the former head of the coalition, Ambassador Paul Bremer, said "The auditors had failed to understand the context in which the Authority was operating."

What, are those auditors stupid or something?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

From Iraq - its Interrogation TV

Newsweek: He wasn't supposed to live, and the way he tells the story today, this "suicide bomber" wasn't quite ready to die. Twenty-one year old Ahmed Abdullah al-Shayea had come to Iraq from Saudi Arabia to join the infamous terrorist known as Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi in a holy war against the American infidels. On Christmas morning, 2004, he got his first assignment, to park a tanker truck full of explosives near the high walls around the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad. He didn't know that four fellow terrorists in a Jeep Cherokee following a safe distance behind held the remote-control trigger. When they pushed it, an explosion thundered across the city, killing 10 Iraqi policemen. But al-Shayea, unlike scores of other bombers who've been vaporized beyond recognition, was blown through the windshield and, against all odds, survived. Link

It had to happen, reality TV knows no bounds. Third-degree burns over seventy percent of his body, bleeding, dazed, confused, and yet here he is, paraded before our eyes. Undeserving of pity, a subhuman species frightened and in pain being gently questioned by Iraqi security for our viewing pleasure. Given that which we already know, it is fair to assume that off-camera, the treatment may well be a little different. But why worry?

President Carter on elections and the future of Iraq

What today's elections will amount to, against a background of occupation, is difficult to predict. Former US President Jimmy Carter, interviewed by the BBC Worldservice, articulated the concerns of many.

Interviewer: With Iraq in mind, do you think, as the Bush administration clearly hopes, that democracy can take root?

Carter: Democracy can only take root in Iraq when the Shi'ites, the Sunnis and the Kurds all feel that they have justice. That is a big question to be answered and an exodus of US troops in the future will be I think long term .

Interviewer: Do you think that exit strategy is there?

Carter: I haven't seen any sign of a comprehensive or comprehensible exit strategy. I can't comprehend what the Bush administration has said about an exit strategy. I think it's quite uncertain, and I think now the blame seems to be shifting towards the so-called Iraqi government. Can the Iraqi government put together security forces to maintain order in their country while US troops are still there and ultimately replace US troops so that most of us can get out?

Interviewer: And what's your feeling about that?

Carter: I don't really know what the real plans of the Bush administration are; if we have looked for an opportunity to maintain military bases for American presence in Iraq or not. Do we really feel ready to say every single US troop or soldier will be out of Iraq or not? I don't know when that will take place. Secondly, are we willing to share with the rest of the world the so-called benefits of good relationships with Iraq? I haven't seen any indication so far that the United States is willing to share, say, influence in the oil fields with other countries - France, or Russia - I haven't seen any real indication that the United States is willing to let the Shi'ites, with heavy influence from Iran, actually control the future foreign policy and domestic affairs of Iraq. Those things are still to be discerned and I don't think any person, I or anyone else, can predict accurately what's going to happen.

Interviewer: But if Jimmy Carter were in charge today?

Carter: Well if I were in charge we would never have been in Iraq because I think this was a terrible mistake to go into Iraq in the first place, its been a quagmire that we now need now to hastily end the American presence, but if I were there now under the present circumstances I would try to move as quickly as possible towards sharing all responsibilities - political, military, economic, with other nations, and to turn over as quickly as possible to the Iraqi people their right to run their own affairs without American unwarranted intrusion

The full 25-minute interview with Jimmy Carter can be heard on The Interview on BBC World Service (this may be for a limited period) here (Realplayer)

Senior Iraqi Shi'ite cleric urges boycott and a united resistance

Reuters: "The current elections are a conspiracy to divide and destroy Iraq" Ayatollah Ahmed al-Hassani al-Baghdadi told Reuters. "I believe these elections will fail as most Iraqis will boycott because of the lack of security and calls for federalism ... I call on my people to boycott the elections" he said in an interview at his home in Najaf.

Baghdadi condemned elections under the gaze of U.S. tanks as a mockery, slammed the cleric-politicians who are running for office and urged Iraqis to unite to expel American forces.

"Resistance will continue even if both Sunnis and Shi'ites go to the polls," he said. "These elections will fail. Elections with lax security, under the interim constitution, have no legitimacy."

"I am a son of Iraq and I call on all Christians and Muslims to expel the Americans from Iraq," he added. Link

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Good news from Iraq - elections now guarenteed safe

Washington Post: Iraqi government officials expressed optimism that the elections would be completed safely and that large numbers of people would vote.

"The election process will be safe," said Qasim Dawood, Iraq's minister of state for national security. "The Iraqis challenge the terrorists by their participation in the elections. The security plan will guarantee safe elections for the Iraqis." Link

They call it Operation Founding Fathers. Goebbels could not have arrived at a more inspiring slogan. Believe.

Bush: democracy in Iraq will serve as powerful example

Washington Post: President Bush, attending a ceremonial swearing-in of Condoleezza Rice as his new secretary of state, said today that elections in Iraq on Sunday will help change the world, advancing his goal of ending "widespread hatred and radicalism" and thus making the United States more secure. Link

Bush's stated aim of 'ending hatred and radicalism' here is interesting. He may be familiar with some of the sermons of FW Robertson - an evangelistic minister ordained by the Bishop of Westminster in 1840 who had committed the bible to memory. To Robertson's mind, radicalism was a fundamental part of his Christian belief, indeed, the Robertson definition of radicalism can be found in Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) and goes like this:

"Radicalism means root work; the uprooting of all falsehoods and abuses."

Friday, January 28, 2005

Secret document reveals further religious torture

AP: The interrogator left the room to ask a Muslim linguist how she could break the prisoner's reliance on God. The linguist told her to tell the detainee that she was menstruating, touch him, then make sure to turn off the water in his cell so he couldn't wash.

Strict interpretation of Islamic law forbids physical contact with women other than a man's wife or family, and with any menstruating women, who are considered unclean.

"The concept was to make the detainee feel that after talking to her he was unclean and was unable to go before his God in prayer and gain strength," says the draft, stamped "Secret."

The interrogator used ink from a red pen to fool the detainee, Saar writes.

"She then started to place her hands in her pants as she walked behind the detainee," he says. "As she circled around him he could see that she was taking her hand out of her pants. When it became visible the detainee saw what appeared to be red blood on her hand. She said, 'Who sent you to Arizona?' He then glared at her with a piercing look of hatred.

She then wiped the red ink on his face. He shouted at the top of his lungs, spat at her and lunged forward, so fiercely that he broke loose from one ankle shackle.

"He began to cry like a baby," the draft says, noting the interrogator left saying, "Have a fun night in your cell without any water to clean yourself."

Events Saar describes resemble two previous reports of abusive female interrogation tactics, although it wasn't possible to independently verify his account. Link

Also from AP: World Leaders Mark Auschwitz Liberation Link

Downed helicopter - alternative report from Iraq

Iraqi Resistance shoots down US helicopter, killing 31 Marines near ar-Rutbah.

The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported eyewitnesses as saying that Iraqi Resistance forces fired a SAM7 rocket, bringing down a US helicopter over the city of ar-Rutbah, 460km west of Baghdad at 7am Wednesday. The helicopter had been on its way to the village of Makr adh-Dhib, which lies near the city. The correspondent explained that American forces habitually carry out helicopter-borne landings in that area to raid and search houses and arrest people. It is nearly impossible for them to go by land to the village because the Resistance controls the countryside, so they must resort to helicopter-born assaults.

Shepherds and motorists who witnessed the attack told Mafkarat al-Islam that they saw the Americans gathering the remains of 31 American bodies from the desert west of ar-Rutbah. The US forces also evacuated a large number of wounded troops. Other American vehicles, meanwhile, loaded up and hauled away the wreckage of the helicopter that had been scattered over an approximately two-kilometer area.

Local witnesses told Markarat al-Islam that they hoped the Arab and Islamic news media would come and take pictures of the extent of the losses, which are what the local Resistance inflicts on the Americans every day. They said that the Americans were forced to announce the downing of this helicopter - something they seldom do - because numerous delegations of people from Baghdad and other provinces were scheduled to arrive in ar-Rutbah Wednesday and some of them were bound to have seen the crash or heard about it.

The Mafkarat al-Islam correspondent reported that a local amateur photographer managed to take a video of the wreckage of the helicopter and hid it in his shoe when passing through one of the checkpoints thrown up by the Americans around the crash zone. The amateur cameraman pledged to gave the film to the Mafkarat al-Islam correspondent so still pictures from it can be shown on the website as soon as the cassette arrives in the editorial office. The photographer told the correspondent, "If I knew that a satellite TVstation would broadcast it, I would have given it to them, but unfortunately there's nobody else here that I can give the cassette to."

The US military admitted that an American Marine helicopter had crashed in western Iraq early Wednesday morning. A statement by the US military said that the aircraft went down in the ar-Rutbah area in al-Anbar Province. It said that search and rescue operations were underway.

A report carried by the American Associated Press (AP) later said that the CH-53 Sea Stallion was carrying personnel from the 1st Marine Division when it went down about 1:20 am near the town of ar-Rutbah, about 220 miles west of Baghdad, while conducting what it called "security operations." The military statement said that 31 persons were killed aboard the craft.


This item is posted in the interest of making available the widest possible range of information to facilitate informed judgment. deficient brain does not vouch for the accuracy of this report, any more than , for example, reports appearing here from the DoD.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Seymour Hersh on Bush, Guantanamo, Iraq: "We've Been Taken Over by a Cult"

Democracy Now: As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to vote today on the nomination of Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General, we hear a speech by Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh on torture from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib to Vietnam.
Transcript and Realplayer Link


Britain Releases Ex-Guantanamo Detainees

Yahoo-AP: The four British men who spent up to three years in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay and then held by British police for a day were released Wednesday night without charge. Link

More to follow

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Terror suspects - UK backs off from detention without trial

The Guardian: In response to the damning ruling from the law lords late last year that indefinite detention without trial was a breach of human rights law, the UK's new home secretary Charles Clarke has announced a series of measures aimed at limiting the freedoms of suspects whilst accepting the earlier ruling.... including bans on using the internet and mobile phones ...but other controls which could be imposed would include curfews, tagging, limits on using telephone or the internet and restrictions on their movements Link David Pannick QC, who often acts for the government, has said that house arrest would still amount to detention. Link

The law lords' judgment was so damning of the anti-terror legislation that one of the panel, Lord Hoffman, went as far as saying: "The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws like these."

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Lessons in Insurgency from the NIC

"Insurgency has existed as long as the powerful have frustrated the weak to the point of violence. It is simply a strategy of desperation in which those with no other options turn to protracted, asymmetric violence, psychological warfare, and political mobilization. In some modes, insurgents seek to attain their objectives directly by wearing down the dominant power. In other forms, particularly the one developed by Mao Zedong and refined by his disciples, asymmetric methods are used to rectify an adverse conventional military balance, with ultimate victory coming through conventional means once parity or something like it is attained. Ultimately, though, the result is the same: the weak avoid defeat and, over time, the power balance changes and they become stronger.

......Yet what is missing from the strategy of the Iraqi insurgents is a "positive" dimension. Most victorious insurgents have been able to create the impression both that the government or occupier cannot create a stable or just society, and that they can. So far, the Iraqi insurgents have not projected a vision of the type of nation they would create if they expel the Coalition. Again, this is not unusual:this is very young and immature insurgency. If it is sustained, such a positive dimension to the insurgent strategy is likely to emerge." Link

Report of the National Intelligence Council's 2020 Project:
Insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan: Change and Continuity

Monday, January 24, 2005

Iraq abuse : Murder, torture, sodomy - whitewash

ACLU NEW YORK: Investigative files released today by the American Civil Liberties Union suggest that the Army failed to aggressively investigate allegations of detainee abuse. Some of the investigations concern serious allegations of torture including electric shocks, forced sodomy and severe physical beatings.

"Government investigations into allegations of torture and abuse have been woefully inadequate," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "Some of the investigations have basically whitewashed the torture and abuse. The documents that the ACLU has obtained tell a damning story of widespread torture reaching well beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib.

The killing [of Sajid Khadim] was reported in a Washington Post article, which stated that U.S. forces barged into Khadim's house in the middle of the night, dragged him away from his family, killed him, and stuffed his body under some mats behind the refrigerator. An Army criminal investigation was initiated on the basis of the article but the investigation does not specifically address the facts alleged in the article. Instead, special agents relied entirely on an Army investigation that appears to predate the Washington Post story. The Army investigation summarily concludes that the killing was justifiable homicide.

One set of documents released today by the ACLU includes multiple accounts of abuse at Al-Azimiyah Palace in Baghdad. In sworn statements, private contractors report having witnessed numerous instances of abuse of male and female detainees, including forced sodomy, electric shocks, cigarette burns and beatings. According to one statement, Al-Azimiyah Palace was the site of at least "about 90 incidents" of abuse. Link

These documents clearly demonstrate a systematic culture of torture, murder and criminality. It is noted that, to date, no senior figures have been held to account. The documents paint a depressing picture. More so considering the lack of coverage in the mainstream media and the lack of will to aggressively establish the truth and hold those responsible to account

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Wolfowitz - it's demonic doublespeak

Yahoo: "The number two Pentagon official said reducing American casualties in Iraq was more important than bringing US troops back home - and pointed to the rising Iraqi death toll as evidence this strategy was working" Link

Whilst protecting coalition forces from harm is of course right and proper, you do not have to be an Iraqi to recognise that Wolfowitz is clearly expressing a despicably racist and cynical view here. He is using the hapless Iraqis as cannon fodder, and he sees their escalating toll of death as evidence of the success of his "strategy" to protect US forces from harm. This same perverted thinking is behind the endless incidents of innocent Iraqis being "lit up" - to use the dehumanised US slang - by US forces seeking to protect themselves upon being confronted by cars that fail to heed an order to stop - five children orphaned, six marines protected from risk........more success! Link

It takes a certain kind of man to present the accelerating death rate of an "ally" as a good thing. You cannot help but pity the Iraqi forces - it seems that just about everyone wants them dead, their own side included.

Wolfowitz goes on to express his pleasure at the fact that Iraqis are still joining up and risking their necks. Might that have something to do with the lack of viable alternative means of putting bread on the table? It's not like there is much construction going on. But I guess Wolfowitz might think that a good thing as well, all things considered.

Promises to protect voters seem optimistic

AP Photo/Jim MacMillan

AP:The Iraqi government pledged Saturday it would do everything in its power to protect voters from insurgent attacks during next week's national elections, as militants announced they'd killed 15 captive Iraqi national guardsmen for cooperating with the Americans. Link

Turning friends into foe in Iraq

Washington Post:The soldiers went to search his bedroom. He heard laughing, and then they called for him, he said. Imaad went to his room and saw that the soldiers had found several magazines he kept hidden from his mother. They had pictures of girls in swimsuits and erotic poses. Imaad said the soldiers spread the magazines on his bed and put his Koran in the middle.

"This is a good match," Imaad said one of the soldiers told him.

"It was a nightmare," he said. "I will never forget those bad soldiers when they put the Koran among the magazines."

Within 20 minutes, the soldiers left without arresting him or his mother. While the soldiers went next door to search his neighbor's house, Imaad began to slap his mother, he said. "The American people are devils," Um Imaad recalled her son repeating.

He left her and went to a mosque to spend the night. "I asked God to forgive me," Imaad said, "because I could not prevent American sins." Link

New allegations of British abuse in Iraq

The Observer: Three of the cases concern incidents in which Iraqis were detained by British forces. Four involve the fatal shooting of Iraqis during military operations and two involve non-fatal injuries. A further 48 cases are still being investigated, while 77 cases have been examined and closed by army lawyers.

'Complaints against the armed forces are investigated behind closed doors, by the armed forces themselves. The decision whether to pursue a case rests with the commanding officer of the accused- hardly the independent and impartial investigation that international law requires. '

Phil Shiner, of Birmingham-based Public Interest Lawyers, who is representing Iraqi civilians in some 40 legal actions against the army, 10 of which involve allegations of detention and mistreatment, said he had written to the attorney-general expressing concerns that allegations of abuse might be more widespread than previously acknowledged. Link

Saturday, January 22, 2005

$300 million slides out of Iraq amid new corruption claims

The New York Times International: Earlier this month, according to Iraqi officials, $300 million in American bills was taken out of Iraq's Central Bank, put into boxes and quietly put on a charter jet bound for Lebanon.

On Friday, the mysterious flight became an issue in this country's American-backed election campaign, when Defense Minister Hazim al-Shalaan, faced with corruption allegations, threatened to arrest a political rival.

In an interview on Al Jazeera television, Mr. Shalaan said he would order the arrest of Ahmed Chalabi, one of the country's most prominent politicians, who has publicly accused Mr. Shalaan of sending the cash out of the country. Mr. Shalaan said he would extradite Mr. Chalabi to face corruption charges of his own.

"We will arrest him and hand him over to Interpol," Mr. Shalaan thundered on Al Jazeera. The charge against Mr. Chalabi, he said, would be "maligning" him and his ministry. He suggested that Mr. Chalabi had made the charges to further his political ambitions.

"Why was $300 million in cash put on an airplane?" Mr. Chalabi asked in an interview this week. "Where did the money go? What was it used for? Who was it given to? We don't know."

Friday, January 21, 2005

Wolfowitz: rising Iraqi death toll evidence strategy is working

Yahoo: The number two Pentagon official said reducing American casualties in Iraq was more important than bringing US troops back home - and pointed to the rising Iraqi death toll as evidence this strategy was working.

"I'm more concerned about bringing down our casualties than bringing down our numbers," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said in an interview with PBS television's "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" program. "And it is worth saying that since June 1, there have been more Iraqi police and military killed in action than Americans."

Wolfowitz said he was encouraged by the fact that Iraqis continued to volunteer to join the country's fledgling security forces, despite their losses at the hands of Islamist insurgents. Link

Who is hoping for civil war in Iraq?

An elections poster of the 'Unified Iraqi National Community' of Ibrahim al-Jafari is covered by blood and debris after a car bomb explosion in front of a Shiite mosque in Baghdad, Friday , Jan 21, 2005. A car bomb exploded outside a Shiite mosque in Baghdad Friday where worshippers were celebrating a major Muslim holiday, killing at least 13 people and wounding 40, police and hospital officials said, the country's latest violence in the lead-up to this month's elections. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

BBC News:Election drives attacks on Shia
On Friday a number of people were killed in a car bomb attack during Eid celebrations at a Shia mosque in Baghdad. The tactical thinking behind attacks on Shia Muslims by suspected Sunni militants is clear. The aim is to stir up and strengthen sectarian divisions, by provoking a violent Shia reaction to attacks. The attackers hope to make Iraq ungovernable through a civil war along religious lines. Link

In this volatile, hate-filled environment, you would have hoped that all parties currently in a position of authority would think very carefully before issuing statements - on or off the record - that could possibly feed the sectarian hatred that seems to be building. If the latest statement apparently coming from Zarqawi is to be believed, it would seem to fit with a
strategy of fomenting civil war. However, what is more concerning, is the motivation behind statements such as this from last week - which related to the 'possible' formation of 'Death Squads' made up of Kurdish and Shia militia to target leaders of the insurgency. What was the purpose of this statement, which clearly feeds the flames? Was it a mere slip of the tongue from someone who should have known better, or is it evidence that it is not just the likes of Zarqawi who is hoping for an ungovernable post-election Iraq? The kind of Iraq that certainly could not be controlled by the imature and undermanned Iraqi forces alone. Those who have bothered to research previous US and UK covert operations will know that anything is indeed possible.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Murdered contractor had alleged corruption in Iraq The killings came after Stoffel alerted senior U.S. officials in Washington that he believed Iraqi Defense Ministry officials were part of a kickback scheme involving a multimillion-dollar contract awarded to his company, Wye Oak Technology, to refurbish old Iraqi military equipment.

Stoffel's death has prompted new worries about the integrity of the reconstruction effort in Iraq, which has been plagued by accusations of corruption and cronyism almost from the start.

An Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman arranged an interview with a senior defense official, but then forbade a reporter to ask questions about the contract, calling it too "dangerous." Link

UK Iraq abuse - No Action Against Officers

MoD Oracle: The army officer who devised Operation Ali Baba, the plan to round up looters at a British camp in southern Iraq, will not be disciplined, Ministry of Defence officials said yesterday.

But pressure on the ministry to fully explain the alleged ill-treatment of Iraqis grew.

Major Dan Taylor, who was in charge of the humanitarian aid base Camp Breadbasket, near Basra, told soldiers there to catch the looters who had been stealing food and "work them hard".

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Clapham, the main prosecutor, said Major Taylor's order was unlawful. Link

Fisk - Iraq elections as unrepresentative as Saddam's

The Independent Online: More than 750 people crowded into a hall tucked behind Westminster Abbey to hear the debate. It asked: "Have critics of the Iraq war been vindicated?"

The Government fielded Eric Joyce, the Labour MP for Falkirk West, before the fiercely partisan audience, which heckled him at every opportunity.

Mr Joyce was joined by Independent columnist Johann Hari, a supporter of the Iraq war, to argue against the paper's Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, and the American journalist Charles Glass on the panel chaired by Simon Kelner, The Independent's editor-in-chief.

Fisk may have surprised some in the audience when he said: "The critics of the war have not been vindicated. I never believed the British and American governments would lie to us so much. I never believed that the insurrection would so quickly gather pace and be so disastrous to the occupation, and I never believed the occupation would be so flawed and so brutal."

He said the upcoming "flawed" elections would be as unrepresentative in their results as polling organised by Saddam Hussein's regime, "not because the people are forced to vote what they are told to vote, but because the Shiites will indeed vote, and the Kurds will indeed vote, but the Sunni minority will not vote because either they are intimidated or because they don't want to".

Asked whether coalition troops should withdraw from Iraq, Fisk called for the Americans to set a pullout date. "They've got to talk to the insurgents - and they will - and then they must go."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

In pictures - aftermath of US checkpoint horror

BBC News introduce an unprecedented note of realism
on their website by publishing a sequence of 11 photographs
illustrating the aftermath of yet another massacre of Iraqi civilians
at the hands of US troops which took place in Tal Afar
yesterday, leaving five children orphaned. Link

See Most civilians killed by US - not terrorist bombs

Rice understates it - US made bad decisions in Iraq

Reuters: "We didn't have the right skills, the right capacity, to deal with a reconstruction effort of this kind," she said on the second day of hearings on her confirmation, which is expected to be easily approved by the Republican-led Senate. Link

So who will pay? No prizes.

UK abuse - Iraqis to be "worked hard"

Joseph Giret, a civilian lawyer for Kenyon, told the court his client was following orders to round up looters pilfering food stores near the southern Iraqi city of Basra in the weeks after the U.S.-led March 2003 invasion.

Under a plan called "Ali Baba", troops were told that looters were to be "worked hard" to repair damage and deter further pilfering.

"The whole reason Kenyon is in the dock stems from those who gave the order for Ali Baba," Giret said. Link

Allawi premiership - "if America wants it, it will be"

Washington Post: There is a sense among some in Baghdad that the United States wants the new parliament to choose Allawi, the incumbent, as prime minister. If the Americans want it, the conversation goes, so it will be. This reflects the deep vein of conspiracy theories that runs through Baghdad life these days -- from a rumor that the Jordanian militant Abu Musab Zarqawi, blamed for some of Iraq's most spectacular carnage, is an American fabrication, to a rumor voiced by Abed that Iraqis who don't vote will have their monthly food rations taken away.

"Maybe it's not correct," he said, "but it's what people are saying." Link

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Iraqi elections - "a farce of historic proportions" To add to the joy of Iraqis liberated from electricity, clean water, largely too scared to venture out, they are also to become a nation of hostages for three days before and during polling day. Borders will be closed, phones disconnected, mobiles rendered useless - and US other forces already murderous and unaccountable will be able to run riot and spill blood at will with not the slightest chance of the world knowing in this four day suspension of any semblance of 'freedom and democracy'. Cars will not be allowed near any polling stations so even those prepared to risk queuing to be blown up will certainly not risk walking to do so. 'Possible, fair and reasonable' the elections are not. A farce of historic proportions they certainly are. Link

Monday, January 17, 2005

Iyad Allawi - "Saddam Lite"

The New Yorker: Just as, in the past, Iraqis hid their true feelings about Saddam's brutal tyranny by referring to him as "strict," Iraqis today commonly describe Allawi as "tough." It is an oddly polite term-a euphemism-that conceals varying degrees of fear, loathing, and admiration. An Iraqi friend of Allawi's who has close links to Jordan's Hashemite monarchy told me, "Iyad's a thug, but a thug where he needs to be one. The Americans who set this up call him Saddam Lite." Another old friend of Allawi's, an Iraqi who now lives in Jordan, told me that, during a recent private reunion, Allawi had said that he was shocked, upon returning to Iraq after thirty years in exile, by the degree to which Saddam's rule had debased Iraqi society. "He said Iraqis had become liars and cheats and murderers, and only respected brute force, and that was how he had to deal with them," the friend recalled. In a fit of emotion, Allawi had exclaimed, "I will use brute force!"-three times, as if uttering a vow, punching one fist into the palm of his other hand. Link

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Iraq elections - steering Iraq towards civil war?

A member of the Iraqi police special forces rides on the back of a vehicle past an election banner featuring, Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, in Baghdad, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Counterpunch: The Bush Administration is intentionally steering Iraq towards civil war. The elections are merely the catalyst for igniting, what could be, a massive social upheaval. This explains the bizarre insistence on voting when security is nearly nonexistent and where a mere 7% of the people can even identify the candidates. (This figure gleaned from Allawi's Baghdad newspaper, Al-Sabah) Rumsfeld is using the elections as a springboard for aggravating tensions between Sunnis and Shiites and for diverting attention away from the troops. It's a foolhardy move that only magnifies the desperation of the present situation. The Pentagon brass expected a "cakewalk" and, instead, they've found themselves mired in a guerilla war. Link

Bush contradicts Powell on Iraq withdrawal

AP: President Bush says the U military will pull out of Iraq "as quickly as possible," but he is not endorsing Secretary of State Colin Powell's statement that troops could begin returning home this year.

"The way I would put it is, American troops will be leaving as quickly as possible, but they won't be leaving until we have completed our mission," Bush said in a Washington Post interview published Sunday.

"And part of the mission is to train Iraqis so they can fight the terrorists. And the sooner the Iraqis are prepared - better prepared, better equipped to fight - the sooner our troops will start coming home," Bush said. Link

US "regrets Kidnapping of German"

Further to this item posted on 11th January regarding the kidnapping of a German citizen by US authorities. Deutsche Welle report that the US are apparently expressing some regret.

According to Monday's edition of Der Spiegel newsmagazine, Washington has used unofficial channels to apologize to Berlin for kidnapping Khaled el-Masri. The 41 year old German citizen says he was seized at the Serbian border with Macedonia in December 2003 and detained for five months at a prison in Afghanistan.

Der Spiegel quoted sources close to the German government as saying the case was deemed "highly sensitive" by officials in Berlin, who fear it could damage relations with Washington. Link

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Iraq Lockdown: Its time for democracy

Timesonline: Phones down, borders sealed, troops on the streets:
State of alert will match the battle for Fallujah
The plan sounds more like the preparations for war than the holding of Iraq's first democratic elections. But such is the dire state of Iraqi security today that the authorities in Baghdad are considering a complete lockdown of the country ahead of polls in two weeks time.

According to Iraqi and Western sources, international borders will be sealed, movement between cities tightly controlled, mobile phone networks switched off and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi security forces and foreign troops deployed in a show of force not seen since the height of the war nearly two years ago. Link

Homeless vets, from Vietnam to Iraq

GNN:When I Came Home is a documentary which follows the lives and struggles of several homeless veterans, including those who have recently returned home from the war in Iraq. The film examines the factors which led over 150,000 Vietnam veterans from the battlefield to the street and asks the question: Will what happened to Vietnam veterans happen to a new generation of soldiers? Link

Friday, January 14, 2005

Tom Ridge - "Torture possible"

BBC Hard Talk: If there is a ticking bomb and you need to get information about a possible attack which could kill 100s of people.. would it be all right to use torture in such an instance?

Tom Ridge:
Well I think it's certainly possible.

Link to Hard Talk with video

Iraq - most civilians killed by US, not terrorist bombs

Robin Cook for The Guardian:Perhaps Tony Blair should reflect that if so many countries have concluded that their presence in Iraq is not helping, they have a point. The reality is that the heavy-handed application of US firepower does not offer peace and security in Iraq, but guarantees an increasingly strong and violent resistance. The majority of the civilians killed under the occupation have died at the hands of American ordnance, not terrorist bombs, and every civilian killed breeds another 10 insurgents. Falluja has been reduced to rubble and its residents to refugees, with the predictable result that the resistance has not been weakened, but strengthened. Link

12 months sentence for killing of Iraqi boy

Reuters: - An American soldier was sentenced on Friday to one year in jail for the murder of a severely wounded Iraqi teenager [Kassim Hassan] in a Baghdad slum district last year, the U.S. military said.

"Staff Sergeant Cardenas Alban was convicted on one count of murder and one count of conspiracy to murder at a court martial at the 1st Cavalry Division courthouse at Camp Liberty today" a military spokesman said. Link

BBCNews:The charges date back to 18 August last year when US-led forces were locked in fighting with supporters of radical Shia Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr.

Horne's trial heard that a US army patrol fired on a rubbish truck they suspected of laying roadside bombs in Sadr City.
However, inside the lorry was a crew of teenage boys hoping to make some extra money on a night shift. Link

Newsweek (Dec 2004): On Aug. 18, Company C was hunting insurgents in Sadr City. Williams's squad stopped a dump truck, and an Iraqi climbed out. "Light him up!" the sergeant ordered, according to testimony, and the squad opened fire, killing the unarmed man. Williams and a squadmate reportedly got into an argument over which of them had scored Company C's first kill.

Staff Sgt. Johnny Horne pleaded guilty last week to killing a wounded 16-year-old Iraqi the same day. He insisted it was a mercy killing. A squadmate, Staff Sgt. Cardenas Alban, is awaiting trial.... Link

Iraq - Light at end of tunnel? No, a train

Michael Gaddy for late January of 2005, as in late January of 1968, we have the bastard child called illegitimate war, sired by lies and delivered from the womb of the mother called the omnipotent State, with identical dynamics: a psychopathic administration and war department, a military led by political whores who would not give credence to any intelligence that contradicts the psychobabble of that administration, a growing resistance that has been terribly underestimated, and a nation whose majority is asleep at the wheel. Link

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Transcript - Vote Alawi - for a secure homeland!

The following is an Iraqi election broadcast on Al-Arabiya TV that aired on January 9, 2005:

Alawi: Hello, My name is Iyad Allawi, I am an Iraqi and a physician. When we physicians graduate, we take an oath to treat people and ease their pain. Therefore, we cannot stand by and watch the oppression and tyranny that have hurt Iraq. I have resisted this tyranny for over thirty years and I've been a target of attempted assassinations. I have returned to my country to take part in its rebuilding. Therefore, we have assembled a party to run in the elections and called it "The Iraqi List". It will create a new tomorrow for a strong Iraq.

Announcer: Vote for the Iraqi party and for Dr. Iyad Alawi for a strong leadership and a secure homeland!

Fallujah - The Fall and Fall Out - video clip

Two months after the US launched its biggest ever assault on Fallujah, what exactly happened inside the city has, until now, remained a mystery. Now, for the first time, Guardian films reveals the true story.

It was billed as a resounding military success. Over 1,200 insurgents were meant to have been killed and another 2,000 trapped inside Fallujah. But now this version of events is being challenged. Far from being crushed, rebels claim they left the city in an organised withdrawal. "It was a tactical move" explains insurgent leader Alazaim Abuthe. "The fighters decided to redeploy to Amiriya." Before they left, fighters booby-trapped many bodies. People are too scared to move them so the corpses lie rotting all over the city. Rabid dogs feed off them and then attack returning residents. Far from stabilising Iraq in preparation for this month's election, the assault on Falluja has fanned the flames of civil war. Today Fallujans are too busy trying to stay alive in freezing refugee camps to worry about ballot papers that haven't arrived for an election they have no intention of voting in. As one resident comments, "We're not interested in this sort of democracy."
Guardian Films Realplayer clip (Journeyman Pictures) 14.33 mins Link

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

US Iraq casualties "10 percent of invasion force"

Paul Craig Roberts for Three years ago in the Washington Post Ken Adelman, formerly an assistant to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, promised us "Cakewalk In Iraq." I wonder how Mr. Adelman feels about his promise today.

.... US casualties (dead and wounded) now stand at 10 percent of the US invasion force. A few thousand lightly armed insurgents have tied down eight US divisions. Iraq's infrastructure lies in ruins. Fallujah, once a city of 300,000, has been destroyed. The US has lost control of the roads, and most of the US fighting force is confined to protecting supply lines and its own bases. The US military is cracking under the strain of prolonged service in the field. The cost of the war mounts, putting more pressure on a collapsing US dollar. The US occupation has recruited thousands of new terrorists for Osama bin Laden and provided a training ground. Torture and torture memos have destroyed America's moral reputation. Civil war looms as neither Sunnis, Shiites, nor Kurds are willing to support a government they do not control. Anti-American feelings throughout the Middle East threaten to undermine the secular puppets that the US keeps afloat in Pakistan, Egypt and Jordan. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Generals speak of staying another 3, 5, 7, and 10 years in order "to get the job done" Link

Home from Fallujah, dead in California

AP: Police are trying to determine if the shooter, 19-year-old [marine]Andres Raya of Modesto, wanted to die in what authorities call "suicide by cop." Raya's family told police that he was afraid he would be sent back to Iraq for a third stint of duty, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Link

Alternative report from La Voz de Aztlan: Yes, it appears that the US Marine of Mexican descent decided that his real enemies were not innocent Iraqi civilians on the other side of the world but that they were here in his own hometown, in Ceres, a redneck town notorious for its mistreatment of his people. This is what happened during the Vietnam War and is now happening in this heinous, racist and demonic US War against Iraq. Link

Hunt for WMD in Iraq has been over for some time

Washington Post: The hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq has come to an end nearly two years after President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein. The top CIA weapons hunter is home, and analysts are back at Langley.

In interviews, officials who served with the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) said the violence in Iraq, coupled with a lack of new information, led them to fold up the effort shortly before Christmas.

Is Al Qaeda Just a Bush Boogeyman?

Robert Scheer for the LA Times reports: To even raise the question amid all the officially inspired hysteria is heretical, especially in the context of the U.S. media's supine acceptance of administration claims relating to national security. Yet a brilliant new BBC film produced by one of Britain's leading documentary filmmakers systematically challenges this and many other accepted articles of faith in the so-called war on terror. Link

Information Clearing House has the video here

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

British 'Iraqi abuse' - media gagged

Guardian Unlimited: The British public is not allowed to be told evidence heard against a British soldier at a court martial in Germany yesterday after a judge imposed reporting restrictions on the press.

As the case began against Fusilier Gary Bartlam, 19, of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who is accused of ill-treatment of Iraqi civilians, a Ministry of Defence prosecutor asked deputy judge advocate general Michael Hunter to gag the press. The judge pointed out that his decision was "for legal reasons" and he would allow the details to be reported at a later date. His decision was "not motivated by any interest of the MoD or the government or the army". Link

Fallujah Residents Angry

Yahoo AP: When Ahmed Hussein Nasser returned to Fallujah weeks after a devastating U.S.-led campaign to retake the city from insurgents, he could barely recognize the city where he had spent all 66 years of his life.

His anger against the Americans and Iraqi forces allied with them has only grown since his return, a worrisome sign for U.S. officials letting people back into Fallujah, a one-time insurgent stronghold where the population was generally believed to support the fighters.

"When I see Americans in Fallujah I feel as if I am seeing devils in front of me," he said. Link

DoD to 'Transfer' Brits - in their own words

Guantanamo Detainees to be Transferred

The Department of Defense announced today that it will be transferring the four British detainees and one Australian detainee in detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the governments of the United Kingdom and Australia.

These detainees are enemy combatants who had been detained by the United States in accordance with the laws of war and U.S. law. The governments of the United Kingdom and Australia have accepted responsibility for these individuals and will work to prevent them from engaging in or otherwise supporting terrorist activities in the future.

The U.K. and Australian governments have made a number of security assurances to the U.S. government in this regard that was important to the transfer decision. The timing of the detainees return remains under discussion by our governments. Link

Iraq - Roadside bomb explosion pictures

First in sequence: This is a still taken from a video supplied by an Iraqi insurgent group calling itself "Omar ibn Alkhatab brigade attached to the Islamic Anger Brigades" in Iraq, which the insurgents claim shows a stationary vehicle, seen centre on the right side of the road, prior to exploding as an American convoy passes on the northern outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq Monday Jan. 3, 2005. There was no confirmation of casualties from the U.S. military. The AP is unable to authenticate the image taken from this footage. (AP Photo/Via APTN)

[Middle and Bottom] These are a stills taken from a video supplied by an Iraqi insurgent group calling itself "Omar ibn Alkhatab brigade attached to the Islamic Anger Brigades" in Iraq, which the insurgents claim shows a stationary vehicle exploding as an American convoy passes on the northern outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq Monday Jan. 3, 2005. There was no confirmation of casualties from the U.S. military. The AP is unable to authenticate the image taken from this footage. (AP Photo/Via APTN) ** TV OUT **

Iraq - roadside bomb

Kidnapped, tortured - victim of CIA 'renditions' policy?

NYTimes International: That first evening in prison, Mr. Masri said, a man he assumed was a doctor, wearing a thin black mask, came to his cell to take a vial of blood. He said he believed that the doctor was American because he spoke English. Mr. Masri said he was repeatedly punched in the head and neck by several guards who accompanied the doctor. He also said he was forced to run up and down stairs with his arms shackled behind his back.

The following morning, Mr. Masri said, an interrogator walked into his cell and, in a thick Lebanese accent, began shouting at him. "He told me, 'Where you are right now there is no law, no rights, no one knows you are here, and no one cares about you.' " Link

Monday, January 10, 2005

Iraq abuse: "Cheerleaders all over America form pyramids"

Reuters:"Don't cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year. Is that torture?" Guy Womack, Graner's attorney, said in opening arguments to the 10-member U.S. military jury at the reservist sergeant's court-martial.

Graner and Private Lynndie England, with whom he fathered a child and who is also facing a court-martial, became the faces of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal after they appeared in photographs that showed degraded, naked prisoners.

The prosecution showed some of those pictures in their opening argument, including several of naked Iraqi men piled on each other and another of England holding a crawling naked Iraqi man on a leash.

Womack said using a tether was a valid method of controlling detainees, especially those who might be soiled with faeces.

"You're keeping control of them. A tether is a valid control to be used in corrections," he said. "In Texas we'd lasso them and drag them out of there." He compared the leash to parents who place tethers on their toddlers while walking in shopping malls. Link

Arkansas soldiers receive stuff

1. American flag
2. Commemorative coin
3. Defender of Freedom certificate

For their service in Iraq, and at the prison in Guantanamo Bay.

Fox celebrates here

Dahr Jamail - The demolition of Fallujah continues

Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches: The demolition of Fallujah continues. Two of my sources inside the city, who live in different neighborhoods, report that the military is now burning homes. Apparently, they are finding booby traps, so they are piling furniture up in the homes, dousing it with fuel, and burning it. Link

Tigris Iraqi death not proven - sentence six months

A day after being acquitted of manslaughter in the alleged [sic] death of an Iraqi civilian, a U.S. Army soldier was sentenced to six months in jail Saturday for mistreating three detainees and lying about his actions.

Although one of the detainees testified his companion drowned, court-martial jurors concluded that no death was proven, but they convicted him late Friday on two aggravated assault charges and single counts of assault and obstruction of justice.

"If I had to go back, I would definitely do something different on those days," said Perkins, wiping away tears. [of joy..db] Link

In January 2004 the mother of Zaydun Ma'mun Fadhil Hassun Al-Samarrai had written an open letter to Bush, Blair, Jacques Chirac and others in the hope that justice would prevail.

.......On Saturday the 3rd of January 2004, my son and his cousin were travelling back to our residence in Samarra, they were driving a small cargo truck belonging to a third party from which they earn their livelihood in a country torn by wars and sanctions. Yes, they were back from Baghdad yet misfortune followed them from the beginning, their car broke down on the road which caused a delay in their arrival to Samarra when the curfew hour was just about to start in the city...And this is where the first chapter of the tragedy takes place. An American army patrol stood in their way, and after they went through the whole procedure of searching my son and his cousin, and inspecting the cargo load, they tied them up both and led them to an area about three kilometres from the scene front of one of the gates of the Tharthar dam where water flows at its strongest rate and to my son and his cousin's horror, they ordered them to jump into the water, it was midnight and the cold was unbearable, when they hesitated, they were pushed by the soldiers. Unfortunately my boy cannot swim.....

Healing Iraq have the letter in full plus report - see 'An Iraqi family's tragedy' Link

US considers 'Death Squads' for Iraq

The Times: The Pentagon is considering forming hit squads of Kurdish and Shia fighters to target leaders of the Iraqi insurgency in a strategic shift borrowed from the American struggle against left-wing guerrillas in Central America 20 years ago.

Iyad Allawi, the interim Iraqi Prime Minister, was said to be one of the most vigorous supporters of the plan.

The Pentagon declined to comment, but one insider told Newsweek:What everyone agrees is that we can't just go on as we are. We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defence. And we are losing. Link

Warning From a Student of Democracy's Collapse

New York Times: "There was a longing in Europe for fascism before the name was ever invented," he [Fritz Stern] said. "There was a longing for a new authoritarianism with some kind of religious orientation and above all a greater communal belongingness. There are some similarities in the mood then and the mood now, although also significant differences."

HE warns of the danger in an open society of "mass manipulation of public opinion, often mixed with mendacity and forms of intimidation." He is a passionate defender of liberalism as "manifested in the spirit of the Enlightenment and the early years of the American republic."

"The radical right and the radical left see liberalism's appeal to reason and tolerance as the denial of their uniform ideology," he said. "Every democracy needs a liberal fundament, a Bill of Rights enshrined in law and spirit, for this alone gives democracy the chance for self-correction and reform. Without it, the survival of democracy is at risk. Every genuine conservative knows this." Link

By Chris Hedges

Poll will be illegitimate, Iraqi elder statesman warns

The Independent: Adnan Pachachi, a former Iraqi foreign minister, said that the polls are bound to be condemned as illegitimate because, thanks to the violence and a Sunni boycott, many voters will be unable to take part.Link

Sunday, January 09, 2005

'Britain's Abu Ghraib' photographs in courts martial

MoD Oracle:According to those who have seen the grainy images, one reveals a soldier standing on an Iraqi who appears to be lying in a pool of blood. Another picture allegedly captures a troop aiming a kick at the head of one Iraqi stretched out on the ground. The roll of 25 pictures taken by Bartlam apparently also features a gagged Iraqi dangling from a fork lift truck operated by a smiling British squaddie. Later, the same Iraqi prisoner is cut down from the truck, falling heavily to the ground.
The snaps allegedly include some of a sexual nature with reports that one reveals an Iraqi captive being forced to..... Link

Gonzales and the Torture Cult

Gonzales and the Torture Cult - Triumph of Red State Fascism
By: Justin Raimondo Link

"Define 'abusing.' Some of these prisoners are ruthless terrorists with the blood of Americans - and, of course, many Iraqis - on their hands. Most of them have done something or other to end up in custody. If U.S. interrogators yell at them, is that 'abuse'? If they threaten or intimidate them, is that 'abuse'? If they prevent them going to the bathroom for a couple of hours, is that 'abuse'? If they smack them upside the head, is that 'abuse'?"

Jack just doesn't get it

Dr Khan - Not for rendering soon

db: The US still doesn't enjoy access to Dr AQ Khan, allegedly responsible for the supply of miscellaneous nuclear technology, including bomb blueprints, to America's 'Axis of Evil' enemies, historic enemies, and known unknown enemies.

Following media reports suggesting that Egypt had imported nuclear technology from Pakistan's nuclear scientist Dr AQ Khan, the US has restated its confidence in the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) looking into the matter. Link

Pakistan said in December 2004 it would not allow any foreign country or agency directly or indirectly to question Dr Khan Link

Fans of TVs Jack Bauer will be anticipating the new series of '24' , which returns to the screen soon. With Jacks Logic, Dr Khan, evil scientist or hero of Pakistan, whatever, would long ago have been kidnapped and rendered.

Scriptwriters at '24' would not inflict on viewers a scenario where Jack is not allowed to talk to, let alone render, the evil hero Dr Khan, even though he is detained by one of the US's premier 'War of Terror' partners. Written questions only Jack, and maybe you will get an answer. No discreet phone calls to Washington "Tell the President it's Jack Bauer" and no welcome "leave it to me Jack". This President is not taking calls from Jack.

When Dr Kahn confessed to Mr Musharraf of his crimes - "I take full responsibility for my actions and seek your pardon" - his confession raised more questions than it answered. In a 12-page signed statement, the disgraced father of Pakistan's nuclear programme has confessed to transferring nuclear technology and hardware to Iran, Libya and North Korea. He claimed it was all due to ideological reasons and not for money, as he wanted to strengthen the defence capabilities of Islamic countries.Link

Mr Musharraf's reluctance to encourage the US to interview Dr Khan is easy enough to understand, given that the Pakistani military elite is likely to be implicated in the Khan 'ring', but a more interesting question is who else benefits from Dr Khans silence? Is the 'hands off' policy purely on account of the hero status of Dr Khan and the 'stability' issue that arises in handing him over to the 'devil'?. Is it the not wanting to damage the long running and unsuccessful US-Pakistani 'hunt' for bin Laden?

As the New York Times put it in December 2004 "Nearly a year after Dr. Khan's arrest, secrets of his nuclear black market continue to uncoil, revealing a vast global enterprise. But the inquiry has been hampered by discord between the Bush administration and the nuclear watchdog, and by Washington's concern that if it pushes too hard for access to Dr. Khan, a national hero in Pakistan, it could destabilize an ally. As a result, much of the urgency has been sapped from the investigation, helping keep hidden the full dimensions of the activities of Dr. Khan and his associates." Link

The real truth behind Dr Khan's activities remains obscured, conclusions are not possible regarding the reality of a lot of the claims being made about him. The lack of outrage in the US concerning its inability to question Khan is curious, especially whilst simultaneously, across the skies of the world, Air America continues to transport its victims for torture, to countries that have less respect for Human Rights than Jack Bauer, on evidence too threadbare to withstand scrutiny.

...Pakistani nuclear secrets for sale was ' tip of iceberg' The Independent Feb 2004 2004

What's All the Fuss About A.Q. Khan? ' December 25, 2004

"CIA Allowed Terrorist Doctor to Sell Nuclear Weapons to Terrorists" Politrix
December 27th 2004

"Still time for diplomacy?" BBC Hard Talk 30 September 2004 with video

Saturday, January 08, 2005

America sobs: 'Enough inhumane treatment, enough'

Proving that traditional values concerning what constitutes 'inhumane treatment' still hold in America.

AP: Just before the New Year, Army Reserve Capt. Gabriella Cook sent an urgent e-mail from Iraq requesting food shipments. Not for her or her unit - for Iraqi police dogs.

"The dogs are starving and urgently need dry dog food," Cook wrote in a Dec. 28 e-mail that said the Iraqi Interior Ministry's only bomb-sniffing police dogs were eating table scraps and garbage.

The response to the canine crisis has been overwhelming: Offers of help poured in from New Hampshire, Florida, Texas, Ohio and New York. One sports gambling handicapper alone ponied up $5,000

The Las Vegas Valley Humane Society is now trying to find a way to ship pallets of dry dog food to Iraq to feed the 12 undernourished German shepherds and one black Labrador retriever at the Iraqi Police Academy. Link and Link and Link

"All across the country the love and compassion for these animals is absolutely extraordinary," Ruiz said. "It's very heart-warming, the emotions and the commitment."

Torture? That's not fair

DoD - U.S troop free polling station plan still good

Defense Department Briefing January 7, 2005:

Q One of the early goals from commanders on the ground was that the elections be held without U.S. troops in U.S. uniforms standing outside the polling sites, and that it be handled almost entirely by the Iraqi security forces. Is that possible, given the state of affairs now?

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: I think General Metz discussed that the other day. He said that is the plan. They continue to coordinate that plan with the interim Iraqi government as well as the Iraqi security forces, that those are the people that are closest to the polling stations and the United States is there to support -- the United States and coalition forces are there to support them as required.

MR. DI RITA: Thanks a lot, folks. Have a great weekend!

Read briefing in full here

Friday, January 07, 2005

Bush, Gonzales, feels like Orwell, Kafka

Richard Cohen writes for
In George Orwell's novel 1984 it was rats, as I recall, that were used to torture Winston Smith. It was not that the rats could do real physical damage, rather it was that Smith was phobic about them, his greatest fear, his worst nightmare, and so he succumbed, denounced his beliefs and even his girlfriend and went back to his pub where he wasted his days drinking gin. This was Orwell's future, our present.

Orwell, however, was only off by 20 years. With immense satisfaction, he would have noted the constant abuse of language by the Bush administration calling suicidal terrorists cowards, naming a constriction of civil liberties the Patriot Act and, of course, wringing all meaning from the word torture. Until just recently when the interpretation of torture was amended, it applied only to the pain like that of organ failure, impairment of body function or even death. Anything less, such as, say, shackling to a low chair for hours and hours so that one prisoner pulled out tufts of hair, is something else. We have no word for it, but it is,or was until recently, considered perfectly legal. Link to this article

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Self-Portrait in a Tortured World - Gulag USA

Tom Engelhardt writing for's recall for a moment what our President had to say at a news conference about such accusation of torture last June: "Look, I'm going to say it one more time. Maybe I can be more clear. The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you. We're a nation of law. We adhere to laws. We have laws on the books. You might look at these laws. And that might provide comfort for you. And those were the instructions from me to the government." Link

Gonzales's torture memo. A man to trust? reports that President Bush's nominee to head the Justice Department in his second term, White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, pledged today to preserve civil liberties as the nation wages war on terrorism and vowed to aggressively pursue those responsible for the abuse of U.S. held prisoners. Link

The source of much skepticism regarding this pledge is Gonnzales's memo outlining how to avoid violating U.S. and international terror statutes while interrogating prisoners. The Washington Post has conveniently made available the memo in full - here is the pdf .

Americans may be concerned that this man, expert in lies and doublespeak, is most likely to become their new head of the Justice Department. See a few examples below:

....section 2340A proscribes acts inflicting, and that are specifically intended to inflict, severe pain or suffering whether mental or physical. Those acts must be of extreme nature to rise to the level of torture within the meaning of Section 2340A....

We further conclude that certain acts may be cruel, inhuman, or degrading , but still not produce pain and suffering of the requisite intencity to fall within Section 2340A's proscription against torture.

...a threat that someday the prisoner might be killed would not suffice. Instead, subjecting a prisoner to mock executions or playing Russian roulette with him would.......

Each component of the definition emphasizes that torture is not the mere infliction of pain or suffering on another

...........the victim must experience intense pain or suffering of the kind that is equivalent to the pain that would be associated with serious physical injury so severe that death, organ failure or permanant damage resulting in the loss of a significant body function [occurs]......

Iraq Elections - Maybe the DoD should read this

It would be prudent for spokesmen of the govenrment to read this AFP report before digging themselves a deeper hole with comments like "I think absolutely the elections are going to be held on January 30". has the AFP report here

DoD - "The situation is not that bad , frankly"

Defense Department Background Briefing on Iraqi elections 4th Jan 2005:

SR. STATE DEPT. OFFICIAL: I think absolutely the elections are going to be held on January 30. I don't think there's any question out here in Iraq. And frankly, I don't think the security situation is deteriorating. I think the security situation is actually a little better than it was, say, six weeks ago. (Inaudible) -- most of Iraq the situation is not that bad, frankly. Link

Iraqi election - serving democracy?

The real question is not whether the election should take place or not. It is clear that there is no way an election of any democratic worth can take place in Iraq in the near future. Democracy is supposedly the cause. By definition (deficient brain's definition) the notion of a democratic election has certain prerequisites, among them freedom to travel, security, fairness, scrutiny/transparency, known candidates (like, err, their names) with known policies, known funding sources, equal media exposure - the list goes on. Clearly none of these conditions exist in Iraq.

The issue is not about democracy at all. We should be debating whether or not it is right to sacrifice the lives of maybe hundreds or possibly thousands of Iraqis to the cause of an incompetent and clearly failing US-UK-Allawi operation. Going ahead with elections they feel is the best option - for them, not necessarily the Iraqis. That is what this conniving exercise is really about.

This folly must be abandoned. Is that handing a victory to the insurgents? No, it is acknowledging reality, and retaining the one small piece of hope that free elections in Iraq might eventually represent.

Iran, Iraq, Whatever

How did it get to this? For anyone needing a quick history refresher, this article, written in October 2002 by Richard Cummings, serves that purpose well. Link

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

More on preparations to punish Mosul

RFE/RL:Kasim Dawoud, the interim Iraqi minister of state for national security, says Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led troops, [sic] will soon begin military operations against insurgents in the northern city of Mosul.

"I'd like to announce that we will begin soon our military operations to crack down on insurgents in Mosul and our brothers in Mosul will see our operations to get rid of the criminals who spread instability in Mosul," Dawoud said. Link

As the benevolent dominant tribe pump themselves up in readiness, no doubt behind the scenes the UN and other international bodies that can be relied upon are doing all that they can to ensure there is no repetition of the blood lust seen in Fallujah.

Destruction of Mosul next?

Christopher Allbritton, of Back to Iraq fame, further discusses the continuing doubts regarding the likelyhood of elections taking place later this month. Chillingly, Chris also says this - "In other news, Qasim Daoud, the Iraqi national security advisor, just said an operation to clear out Mosul will begin 'soon.' " Link

Injustice as State Policy

The Guantanamo Gulag

"The power of the executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious, and the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."

Winston Churchill

The Gulag at Guantanamo casts a pall over American political life. It illustrates a seismic shift in our fundamental values as Americans and a wholesale betrayal of our commitment to human rights. Concentration camps are anathema to democracy and Guantanamo is asphyxiating the promise of American justice. Institutions that once were counted on to protect the individual have been casually discarded by the perpetrators of the most despicable crimes against humanity. The Bush administration has assumed the role of Grand Inquisitor; dispensing "cruel and inhuman" punishment without remorse or hesitation. They've elevated injustice to a level of state policy. Guantanamo is a fitting testimonial to their tragic lack of compassion.

Read Mike Whitney in full here

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Death in Fallujah rising, doctors say

Reuters Foundation: Residents of Fallujah have been asking the Iraqi government to allow journalists and TV reporters to enter the city in order to show the reality.

The government will only allow journalists to visit with a special identity card, saying it is for their own safety. Many journalists have been turned away from Fallujah after not receiving authorisation from US-troops guarding the city.

"We need someone here to show the reality of Fallujah. Even when some journalists are here they are being followed by the Marines. We need someone to help us. The world should see the real picture of Fallujah," Read the full, grim details here

Iraq President looks to UN for decision on elections

Reuters:Yawar said that some members of Iraq's interim government believe the polls should be delayed but did not have the authority to press for a new timetable.

"For the executive branch of the government to come and call for a delay in the elections, people will start thinking that we are enjoying these positions right now and we just want to stay here," said Yawar.

Iraq's temporary constitution, endorsed by the United Nations, calls for elections to be held by end-January. The U.N. has said only Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission can change the poll schedule. The Commission says changing the date is a political decision that would require wide consultation. Link

Allawi 'not wobbly' Bush 'holding firm'

New York Times:Hours after a wave of bombing attacks that left at least 20 people dead on Monday, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi telephoned President Bush and discussed the many impediments still facing the country as it heads toward elections in 27 days, according to senior American officials familiar with the contents of the call. Link

Baghdad Governor Assassinated; Bombing Kills 10

Insurgents further crank up the pressure on Iraqi authorities to reflect on the viability of elections planned for January 30th. They are billed as the country's first 'free' elections since the fifties. Despite continued media assertions to the effect that they will go ahead, there seems to be little evidence of just how this will be achieved.

Reuters has the Baghdad story here

Monday, January 03, 2005

Resistance 'more than 200,000' - Iraqi Intelligence chief

BAGHDAD, Jan 3 (AFP) - "Iraq's insurgency counts more than 200,000 active fighters and sympathisers, the country's national intelligence chief told AFP, in the bleakest assessment to date of the armed revolt waged by Sunni Muslims."

"I think the resistance is bigger than the US military in Iraq. I think the resistance is more than 200,000 people," Iraqi intelligence service director General Mohamed Abdullah Shahwani said in an interview ahead of the January 30 elections.

The numbers far exceed any figure presented by the US military in Iraq, which has struggled to get a handle on the size of the resistance since toppling Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003.

Defense experts said it was impossible to divine the insurgency's total number, but called Shahwani's estimate a valid guess, with as much credence, if not more, than any US numbers.

"What are you going to call the situation here (in Baghdad) when 20 to 30 men can move around with weapons and no one can get them in Adhamiyah, Dura and Ghazaliya," he said, naming neighborhoods in the capital.

The spy chief also questioned the success of the November campaign to retake Fallujah, which US forces have hailed as a major victory against the resistance.

"What we have now is an empty city almost destroyed... and most of the insurgents are free. They have gone either to Mosul or to Baghdad or other areas."

Asked if the insurgents were winning, Shahwani answered: "I would say they aren't losing."

How this apparently disturbing story will develop in the coming hours will be interesting. Will it Fly or die? has the AFP article in full here

Paul Wolferwitz - You must remember this

It's 18th June 2003. Over 1100 US military personel are yet to die in Iraq. A crowing Paul Wolferwitz is before the House Armed Services Committee. His 6000 word statement is worth (re) reading in full. If that's not possible see a few of the howlers below:

....the key to 21st-century combat successes: knowledge, speed, precision, and lethality. These attributes were demonstrated anew in the recent major combat operation in Iraq

......these kinds of advances enabled a force about one-half the size to achieve in about one-half the time using about one-seventh the munitions [compared to 'desert storm']

What are the lessons to be learned from this dramatic operational military success?

The U.S. military applied "overmatching power" to achieve combat success. Overmatching power uses the element of surprise and swift, focused action to achieve operational military goals. As General Franks has said, "Speed kills --- it kills the enemy." [1100 US yet to die]

We are pleased that the number and capability of coalition forces pledged to contribute to the current operations in Iraq is growing

......these are not the typical guerillas: Because they abused, tortured, and killed [!] scores of their own people for decades, in most areas of the country they do not benefit from the support of a sympathetic population. We will continue our work to eliminate these
surviving elements of the Saddam regime -- and the foreigners who have joined their lost cause.

Our success in rooting out Ba'athist remnants, disarming them, and pre-empting any efforts on their part to reorganize will ease the security situation

And we are making progress in standing up Iraqi security forces that can deal with more conventional challenges to law and order.

One of our principal challenges is that the old Iraqi police need to be replaced or retrained. Their leadership was corrupted by the old regime, and they were trained to raid people's homes at night rather than conduct street patrols. [and that's intolerably aggressive for PW]

We are also making progress in enlisting other nations, including some who were not members of the original coalition, to contribute to stabilization and peacekeeping operations. [Paul has got me there, only a week or so ago Armenia, poor screwed up Armenia, joined the fun - see this]

Among the countries that have publicly indicated their willingness to participate are Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Denmark, Ukraine, and Hungary. We expect a number of other countries similarly to announce their participation in these peacekeeping divisions in the
coming days.

While it is true that our current operations in Iraq constitute a new and important military commitment, the elimination of the threat of aggression posed by Saddam Hussein's regime has also relieved us of a substantial threat.

In addition, as coalition contributions grow, and as we help stand up effective Iraqi security forces, our military level of effort in Iraq will diminish. [enough Paul Wolferwitz]

This document was not immediately available at the original source - however, as always, Cryptome
has it here

The Duplicity Of The Media

Zmag contrasts media coverage of Iraq and tsunami:When it comes to Iraq....the whole paradigm shifts to the right. The dead and maimed are faithfully hidden from view. No station would dare show a dead Marine or even an Iraqi national mutilated by an errant American bomb. That might undermine the patriotic objectives of our mission: to democratize the natives and enter them into the global economic system. Besides, if Iraq was covered like the tsunami, public support would erode extremely quickly, and Americans would have to buy their oil rather than extracting it at gunpoint. What good would that do? Link

Fox 'News' - they must pay well

In an article reminiscent of the vile British National Party web site, Fox 'News' looks at the persecution of Christians and other nonsense, complete with a so-called mail bag which would embarrass most neo-nazis. Link

News Hounds help regarding Fox - they watch it so you dont have to and document here
Coming soon from Bloggerheads in 2005 will be The Anti-Murdoch Network.

5.1.05 Since the above comments regarding the 'mail bag' fox have cleared out the racist content, leaving just foolish things.

Lifetime in jail for unconvicted suspects a 'bad idea'

"It's a bad idea. So we ought to get over it and we ought to have a very careful, constitutional look at this" Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on "Fox 'News' Sunday". The CIA and Pentagon have asked the White House to make a decision regarding a more permanent solution for the suspected terrorists who are unlikely to see a court of law due to a lack of 'appropriate' evidence.
Reuters reports Link

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Marines welcome residents back to 'model city'

As the 'honeymoon period' approaches it's end, the 'benevolent, dominant tribe' prepare for the return of 300,000 Fallujans in time for the, er, elections. Marine commanders cautioned against raising hopes that they would warmly welcome troops when they return to ruined houses and rubble-strewn streets. The goal is 'mutual respect'.
The Boston Globe reports Link