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

Friday, September 30, 2005

Britain, Iran playing with Iraqi Shi'ite fire

asiatimes: Recent deadly attacks against British forces in southern Iraq and the seizure of two undercover British Special Air Service (SAS) agents in Basra, followed quickly by their dramatic rescue, have highlighted the superficiality of security and stability in the Iraqi south. They have also led to intense speculation as to the causes of the recent troubles in a region hitherto trumpeted as comparatively safe and secure.

The British media, following subtle prompts by the British security establishment, has tended to apportion some of the blame for the recent upsurge in violence - particularly the increasingly sophisticated nature of roadside bombings - on Iran. This is, at best, misleading. The events in southern Iraq are essentially driven by internal Iraqi dynamics, and British high-handedness in dealing with Iraqi Shi'ites is not helping matters.

The British in Iraq

The British military has been careful to cultivate a benign image around its substantial presence in the southern regions of Iraq. Retired military officers, who act as unofficial public relations agents of the United Kingdom military, regularly appear in the media and often contrast the behavior of British forces to the more trigger-happy Americans, and swiftly conclude that the British - on account of their experience in Northern Ireland and elsewhere - are simply better at this type of thing than their American cousins.

This is, at best, a half-truth. While there is no denying the professionalism and historical experience of the British military, they have been guilty of serious crimes and abuses in Iraq. In any case, if the British forces were stationed in the central, western and central-northern regions of Iraq, there could be little doubt that they would be suffering casualty rates equal to or exceeding those currently sustained by the US military.

The British policy of granting substantial autonomy and freedom of action to Shi'ite political parties and their militias has been less driven by benevolence and careful planning than by a lack of troops on the ground.

The British military presence in southern Iraq - although substantial - is still nowhere near enough to ensure security over the vast regions where they operate. Given this limited capability, it made sense to delegate various security tasks to the militias, mainly the Badr Organization (previously Badr Brigade) of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the various militias belonging to Muqtada al-Sadr's movement and its offshoots.

Given the numerical strength of these militias and the political and socio-economic influence wielded by their mother organizations, it was no great surprise that they managed to heavily penetrate newly established police and security structures in southern Iraq. Recent attempts by the British to reverse this process have led to tension, which may be a factor behind the targeting of their forces.

A much more worrying factor for the Iraqi Shi'ite organizations is intense British intelligence activities all over Iraq, but particularly in the south. The fear is that the British are planning a long-term intelligence presence in Iraq, which would long outlast their military presence in the country.

These fears are not without basis, as every civilian and military agency of the British secret state has a presence in Iraq. These include the Secret Intelligence Service (better known as MI6), GCHQ (the electronic surveillance arm of the British intelligence), the Army Intelligence Corps and elements of the revamped Force Research Unit (an ultra-secret branch of British military intelligence, which gained notoriety for its abuses in Northern Ireland[db edit: added links..... it's now the Special Reconnaissance Regiment - also acknowledged as being involved in the execution of Jean Charles de Menezes in Stockwell,London July 22 2005 ] ).

Even the British domestic security service (MI5) and the Metropolitan police Special Branch maintain a presence in Iraq. Given the breadth and depth of this intelligence presence, it is not altogether surprising that the Iraqi Shi'ites are fast losing confidence in the British. This is compounded by their historical experience with the British, who favored the Arab Sunnis over the Shi'ites in the 1920s, thus setting in train the complex dynamics that culminated in the rise of Arab nationalists and Saddam Hussein. Interestingly, the Shi'ites still maintain confidence in the Americans, believing that the Americans are committed to irreversibly altering the balance of power in Iraq and the wider region in favor of the Shi'ites. Read more

Met chief in 'cover up' attempt over shooting

dailymail: Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair suggested a change in the law in the wake of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes so that he would not have to provide information to an independent inquiry.

On the day the Brazilian electrician was shot dead by police, Sir Ian wrote to Home Office Permanent Secretary Sir John Gieve saying he should be able to suspend as he saw fit a legal requirement to give material to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Sir Ian said revealing information to external investigators, as he was required to do under section 17 of the Police Reform Act, could compromise police tactics and intelligence sources and put lives at risk.

The existence of Sir Ian's letter, in which he said he had decided the IPCC should not be allowed to investigate the shooting, emerged six weeks ago but it was published in full by the Home Office today following a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

The letter was written hours after Mr de Menezes's was wrongly identified as a suicide bomb suspect and shot at Stockwell Tube station, south London on July 22. The letter was wrongly headed with July 21, the date of the failed London suicide bombings.

It was copied to IPCC chairman Nick Hardwick and Metropolitan Police Authority chairman Len Duvall. Sir Ian has strongly denied that the letter was part of an attempted cover-up or that he tried to block an independent inquiry into the shooting to protect his officers. Read more

Jean Charles de Menezes: Shoot First - Ask Questions later?

Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign present:
Public Meeting and Campaign Launch: Shoot First - Ask Questions later?
Monday 10th October 2005
6.30pm - New Theatre, London School of Economics, Houghton St, WC1 (nearest tube Holborn)

From Brazil: Jean's parents Matozinhos Otone Da Silva and Maria Otone de Menezes and Jean's brother Giovanni da Silva

Gareth Pierce - the Menezes family lawyer, Irene Khan - Secretary General of Amnesty International, Bianca Jagger, Prof Tariq Ramadan, Matthew Taylor MP, Benjamin Zephania (invited), Frank Dobson MP (invited}, Salma Yaqoob

On 22nd July Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by police at Stockwell tube. This meeting is the official campaign launch of the Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign. It is an opportunity for the people of London to show support for the Menezes family hear about the next steps for the campaign for truth and justice.

Support the family - support the Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign See Wikipedia

Lawmakers say Israel 'would act unilaterally' against Iran

washingtontimes: Israelis urge U.S. to stop Iran's nuke goals

The United States and its allies must act to stop Iran's nuclear programs - by force if necessary - because conventional diplomacy will not work, three senior Israeli lawmakers from across the political spectrum warned yesterday.

As a last resort, they said, Israel itself would act unilaterally to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear arms.

Iran will not be deterred "by anything short of a threat of force," said Arieh Eldad, a member of Israel's right-wing National Union Party, part of a delegation of Knesset members visiting Washington this week.

"They won't be stopped unless they are convinced their programs will be destroyed if they continue," he said.

Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said the best hope was for the United States and other major powers to make it clear to Iranian leaders now there was "no chance they will ever see the fruits of a nuclear program."

"Threats of sanctions and isolation alone will not do it," said Mr. Steinitz.

Yosef Lapid, head of the centrist opposition Shinui Party in the Knesset, added that Israel "will not live under the threat of an Iranian nuclear bomb."

"We feel we are obliged to warn our friends that Israel should not be pushed into a situation where we see no other solution but to act unilaterally" against Iran, he said. Read more

db: They shouldn't, they wouldn't, they can't, they won't - but will they?

A Preemptive Attack on Iran's Nuclear Facilities: Possible Consequences

Iraq: 'A shocking indictment of American misrule'

informed comment: Fayyad in Baghdad: It is no Longer Baghdad

Al-Sharq al-Awsat carries a long, anguished and meditative piece by Maad Fayyad, an Arab journalist normally based in London, on the occasion of his return to Baghdad for the third time since the US invasion.

I don't have time to translate the entire thing, but perhaps he will publish it in English.

He says from Baghdad, "Here is Baghdad ... But which Baghdad is here? The Baghdad that we do not know and which we do not want to be like this. I wonder - did the Mongols descend on it only yesterday, led by the captain of catastrophe and devotee of death, Hulagu Khan, such that it was transformed into debris?"

He says he is looking out of a helicopter window. He sees buildings below that look like the peaks of a historical city, except that circulation in the streets is lazy and mournful. But then the rubble stretches into the distance, punctuated by mountains of garbage clearly visible from the air. Even the formerly upper class districts were mired in fetid lakes of rancid water, swirling around once proud mansions. In the 1980s, Baghdad had once received an international award as the world's cleanest city.

He says, "I search for Baghdad in Baghdad, and do not find it." Once the snooty capital had given birth to a verb, "to baghdad it up" [tabaghdada], meaning to put on insufferable airs and act superior. Today the only persons bagdading it up in Baghdad are those breaking civil, religious and tribal law with impunity.

"As for the law, it does not exist here. Most of the persons I've met in Baghdad say frankly, 'Iraq is living without a state . . . without a rule of law . . . with power going to the strongest . . ."

He says that the last time he was in Baghdad, during the election season at the end of January, he only heard about bombings when he read about them in the newspaper. Now things are different.

"When some friends heard that I had arrived, they warned me not to go out into the streets: "We don't want to know your location, and you must not tell anyone where you are residing. There is more than one group that kidnaps and kills nowadays."

An official of the Iraqi government tells him, "I am a prisoner in my office and my house, which lies in a secure district, but I canot visit the house where my family lives for fear that I will be abducted."

The government is nowhere to be seen, he says. The government does not control the streets, the militias do. You cannot tell the guerrillas from the police and the army, since all of them wear the same uniform.

Cole: The piece is a shocking indictment of American misrule. Bush has turned one of the world's greatest cities into a cesspool with no order, little authority and few services. Link

Ex-army officers attack chaos of Iraqi regime

Independent: It was meant to be a moment of reconciliation between the old regime and the new, a gathering of nearly 1,000 former Iraqi army officers and tribal leaders in Baghdad to voice their concerns over today's Iraq. But it did not go as planned.

General after general rose to his feet and raised his voice to shout at the way Iraq was being run and to express his fear of escalating war. "They were fools to break up our great army and form an army of thieves and criminals," said one senior officer. "They are traitors," added another.

The sense of hatred felt by these influential men, mostly Sunni Arabs, towards the new order installed by the US since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 is palpable and it bodes ill for Iraq. The country is entering a critical political period that will see a deeply divisive referendum on the constitution on 15 October, the trial of Saddam four days later and an election for the National Assembly on 15 December. The Sunnis fear the constitution means the break up of Iraq and their own marginalisation.

The meeting, in a heavily guarded hall close to the Tigris, was called by General Wafiq al-Sammarai, a former head of Iraqi military intelligence under Saddam who fled Baghdad in 1994 to join the opposition. He is now military adviser to President Jalal Talabani.

His eloquent call for support for the government in his fight against terrorism did not go down well. He sought to reassure his audience that no attack was planned on the Sunni Arab cities of central Iraq such as Baquba, Samarra and Ramadi, as the Iraqi Defence minister had threatened. He said people had been fleeing the cities but "there will be no attack on you, no use of aircraft, no bombardment by the Americans". The audience was having none of it.

General Salam Hussein Ali sprang to his feet and bellowed that there was "no security, no electricity and no clean water and no government". The only solution was to have the old Iraqi army back in its green uniforms, not those supplied by the Americans. He was dubious about how far Iraq was a democratic country, since nobody paid attention to the grievances of the people.

General Sammarai had called for criticism but seemed dismayed at its ferocity, at one moment exclaiming "this is chaos," though he later apologised and said he supposed it was democracy. He said most of the trouble in Iraq was caused by foreign terrorists such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, prompting another officer to mutter: "I don't think Zarqawi will threaten us because we are against occupation."

The meeting was important because the officer corps of the old Iraqi army consider themselves as keeper of the flame of Iraqi nationalism. One of them asked General Sammarai to stop using the American word "general" and use the Arabic word lewa'a instead.

In conversation, the officers made clear that they considered armed resistance to the occupation legitimate. General Sammarai told The Independent that he drew a distinction between terrorists blowing up civilians and nationalist militants fighting US troops. Read more

Thursday, September 29, 2005

How to become a billionaire - the Iraqi way

azzaman: And suddenly we hear of a new breed of Iraqi billionaires. Their billions are not the result of toil, hard work or audacious investments. They are the outcome of the new Iraqi way of how to become a billionaire in only six months.

A short cut to riches here in Iraq is to be a member of an interim government. The former one sat for six months and the incumbent's term is also six months.

You can rest assured that you will not be discovered so long as you serve your masters well. Even if you are discovered, you will never be prosecuted, because you work in a tightly woven net in which everybody knows how corrupt the other is.

If you are caught, you already have the evidence to bring the rest down with you.

In this domino effect battlefield, we are told that the former Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan had embezzled up to $1 billion.

But still no one, whether in the current or former government, has the courage to tell the truth about the doctored accounts.

They all know and have the evidence. But they cannot come forward because they themselves are implicated.

There are organized gangs in our country whose only aim is how to steal and not to serve. They do not work in isolation. They all dip their finger in the pie together.

If these gangs have one thing to agree upon is how to steal.

They were supposed to come and save the Iraqi people from tyranny and oppression but once they had the reins of power they changed tact and immersed in corruption.

Our country is being auctioned and stripped of everything that is worth selling.

Neither the current government nor the former one has come clean. They have not been transparent and hide behind walls of secrecy and conspiracy when it comes to corruption.

Both governments have no reliable figures on expenditures and oil revenues.

The Oil Minister was privately reported as saying that he himself has no idea about how much money our oil exports bring.

And everybody knows that exporting nearly 1.5 million barrels a day at current high prices of more than $65 a barrel brings real money.

Where does our money go? That was the question we used to ask when Saddam Hussein ruled us. It is unfortunate that we still have to raise the same question today. Link

British hand over control of Basra - withdraw by 18 miles

scotsman: British forces have handed over their main base in the city of Basra to the Iraqi military to allow it to take over the main security duties there.

In Baghdad, US forces raided the homes of two officials from a prominent Sunni Arab organisation, arresting bodyguards and confiscating weapons, Sunni officials said.

The handover by the British took place a week after riots broke out in the city - Iraq's second largest - after troops stormed a jail on September 19 where they believed two British soldiers had been taken after being arrested by Iraqi police. The raid sharply increased tensions between the British forces and Iraqis in the city.

British troops moved to a base 18 miles outside Basra to be able to intervene in a crisis.

It was the third southern city to be handed over to Iraqi forces in the space of a month following the US transfer of security control in the cities of Karbala and Najaf. Read more

U.S. Forces Raid Homes of Sunni Officials - they appeal for UN intervention

Guardian: U.S. forces raided the homes of two officials from a prominent Sunni Arab organization on Thursday, arresting bodyguards and confiscating weapons, Sunni officials said.

Adnan al-Dulaimi, secretary-general of the Conference for Iraq's People, was present during the early morning raid on his home in western Baghdad, the group said. No violence was reported when the U.S. soldiers arrested four of his bodyguards and confiscated 20 AK-47 assault rifles, said Mehdi Salih, a spokesman for the conference.

The other raid took place at the Baghdad home of Harith al-Obeidi, another senior official in the organization, said Iraq's largest Sunni political party, the Iraqi Islamic Party.

The U.S. military said it conducted several raids in those areas of Baghdad on Thursday, but couldn't immediately say which homes or Iraqis had been targeted.

"These raids are based on false tips from people who want to marginalize Sunnis and hinder their participation in the political process,'' al-Dulaimi said in an interview with Associated Press Television News. "So I appeal to the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union and the U.S. government to intervene to solve this problem.''

Both Sunni groups condemned the action, calling it an abuse of Iraq's Sunni minority, and suggested the raids could derail efforts by Sunnis to get last minute changes in the country's draft constitution, which will face an Oct. 15 national referendum.

The document has sharply divided Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority and the Sunni minority that forms the backbone of the insurgency. Some Sunnis feel the constitution would divide Iraq into Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni areas, with the Sunni one having the least power and revenue.

The Conference for Iraq's People, a coalition of Sunni groups, and the Iraqi Islamic Party, which boycotted the Jan. 30 election that chose Iraq's transitional government, have both urged their members to vote "no'' in the constitutional referendum. Read more

New Labour, New Danger


Seymour Hersh: Draft constitution "guarantees civil war"

arizonarepublic: Abu Ghraib reporter calls sentence unfair

Army Pfc. Lynndie England, photographed humiliating Iraqi prisoners, didn't deserve the three-year sentence she was given this week, the journalist who broke the Abu Ghraib story said Wednesday in Tempe.

Seymour Hersh called the sentence "ridiculous" in view of lighter military punishments in other cases, such as a suspended sentence for manslaughter.

"I'm not minimizing what (the guards) did; it was horrible stuff, and they're responsible," Hersh said.

But it's "inconceivable" that the unsophisticated soldiers from West Virginia were not directed by higher authorities, who would have known how a Muslim would feel disgraced to be photographed naked, much less in simulated sexual positions, he said.

In an interview before delivering an address at Arizona State University, Hersh also said the idea that there were only nine people involved in the abuse "is just sad."

"I gave up trying to rationalize it," he said.

Hersh, who won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking the story of U.S. Army troops' massacre of 550 Vietnamese civilians in the village of My Lai in 1968, said he hopes his career of truth-seeking will inspire Americans to say, "Let's hold our president to a higher standard."

"This is an amazing country," Hersh said. "Whoever heard of a country like this?

"With immigrant parents and a public-school education, here I am as a freelance writer just 11 years out of college, sticking two fingers into the eye of a president (Richard Nixon) in the middle of a war," he said of his My Lai stories.

At 68, he has authored eight books and now writes for The New Yorker.

Approaching officialdom with skepticism and a nose for news that he calls heuristic reasoning - essentially making educated guesses on what to dig into based on incomplete information - Hersh has earned a reputation as a living lie detector who monitors the functions of government.

"I look at things differently," he said, going on to demonstrate just how different, and sometimes inflammatory, his thinking can be.

The White House may have had ulterior motives in leaking tales about President Bush "being asleep at the switch" during Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans, he said.

"The reason they put it out is that they'd rather be seen as incompetent, somebody who missed the boat, than to be described as somebody who chose not to act," he said, suggesting that the Bush administration was reluctant to give help to Democratic leaders in Louisiana.

Is that a conspiracy theory? "No. It's hardball politics," he said.

[db emphasis]
On Iraq: The draft constitution that will go to Iraqi voters "guarantees civil war," but the Bush administration will structure a U.S. withdrawal for its own political ends, he said.

After increasing troop strength for Iraq's elections, Bush will begin to pull back troops early next year, then accelerate withdrawals before the U.S. elections, Hersh said.

"Then he has two more years to get them all out." During that time, he said, the U.S. position will be, "It's their constitution, their problem."

A cynical view? "I would say realistic, based on the record."

On truth in government: "I don't think it's changed much" throughout his nearly 50-year career, he said.

Has he lied himself?

"Sure," he admitted. "I was press secretary for Eugene McCarthy," whose anti-war candidacy for president in 1968 helped drive President Johnson from seeking another term.

But in practicing journalism, Hersh emphasized, "it's never, never right" for reporters to lie or misrepresent themselves. Link

US captures No.2 in Iraq? Not likely

msnbc:The 'Second' Man

U.S. intelligence officials and counterterrorism analysts are questioning whether a slain terrorist - described by President Bush today as the "second-most wanted Al Qaeda leader in Iraq" was as significant a figure as the Bush administration is claiming.

In a brief Rose Garden appearance Wednesday morning, Bush seized on the killing of Abu Azzam by joint U.S-Iraqi forces in a shootout last Sunday as fresh evidence that the United States is turning the tide against the Iraqi insurgency.

"This guy was a brutal killer," Bush told reporters in remarks that were also carried live on cable TV. He was one of [Abu Mussab al-] Zarqawi's top lieutenants. He was reported to be the top operational commander of Al Qaeda in Baghdad."

Bush's comments came one day after Gen. Richard Myers, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon that the U.S. military considered Abu Azzam the "No 2 Al Qaeda operative in Iraq, next to Zarqawi".

But veteran counterterrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann said today there are ample reasons to question whether Abu Azzam was really the No. 2 figure in the Iraqi insurgency. He noted that U.S. officials have made similar claims about a string of purportedly high-ranking terrorist operatives who had been captured or killed in the past, even though these alleged successes made no discernible dent in the intensity of the insurgency.

If I had a nickel for every No.2 or No.3 they've arrested or killed inIraq and Afghanistan, I'd be a millionaire" Read more

db: Can't say we are shocked. The meager $25,000 reward that had been on offer for his capture was a clue.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Two Killed in Home of Al-Sadr's Bodyguard

guardian: An attacker set off an explosion in the home of a bodyguard of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Wednedsay, killing two people and wounding five others, al-Sadr aides and a hospital official said.

The blast went off at about sunset in the holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, and sparked a fire in the house, said Ahmed al-Rwazeq, an aide to the cleric. Immediately afterward, a man was seen running away and jumping into a car that fled the scene, he said.

Two people were killed and five wounded, said Dr. Alaa Abdul Hussein doctor at Najaf's general hospital. Al-Rwazeq said the victims were relatives of the bodyguard, Qassem Mansour, who was not at home and was not injured.

"The incident was intentional,'' said Sahib al-Ameri, another aide to al-Sadr. "There are parties who are trying to create chaos in this holy city who are behind this attack.''

He said Mansour had received death threats warning him to leave al-Sadr's group.

Al-Sadr blamed officials in Najaf, saying in a statement released by his office in Baghdad that they "are responsible for insecurity'' in the city.

Al-Sadr holds a wide following among Shiites, particularly the poor and young, in Baghdad and other areas and his militia rebelled twice last year, clashing with U.S. troops. Since then, he has avoided confrontation and increased his political role.

He has bucked the stance of most Shiite leaders, rejecting a draft constitution due to be put to a referendum on Oct. 15. Gunmen loyal to al-Sadr clashed with U.S. and Iraqi forces in Baghdad on Sunday in fighting that killed at least eight Iraqis. Link

db: Who might be responsible for that then? Blokes in wigs, or their mates? The Wolf brigade? [call them 'elite police' if you prefer]. Zarqawi? And then we have the groups that aren't allied to the USA to consider as well.....let's blame Iran.

DU testing: High-tech for US, low-tech for UK, no-tech for Iraqis

independent: Depleted uranium tests for US troops returning from Iraq

US troops returning from Iraq are for the first time to be offered state-of-the-art radiation testing to check for contamination from depleted uranium - a controversial substance linked by some to cancer and birth defects.

Campaigners say the Pentagon refuses to take seriously the issue of poisoning from depleted uranium (DU) and offers only the most basic checks, and only when it is specifically asked for. But state legislators across the US are pushing ahead with laws that will provide their National Guard troops access to the most sophisticated tests.

Connecticut and Louisiana have already passed such legislation and another 18 are said to be considering similar steps. Connecticut's new law - pioneered by state legislator Pat Dillon - comes into effect on Saturday.

"What this does is establish a standard," said Mrs Dillon, a Yale-trained epidemiologist. "It means that our Guardsmen will have access to highly sensitive testing that can differentiate between background levels of radiation." DU - a heavy metal waste-product of nuclear power plants - has been used by the US military since the 1991 Gulf War. It is used to tip tank shells and missiles because of its ability to penetrate armour. On impact DU burns at an extremely high temperature and is widely dispersed in micro particles. Read more

db: The UK troops get what the MoD call 'standard tests' - - and that sounds pretty low-tech-not-state-of-the art-by-a-mile to me. And the Iraqis? Those who have been living with the substance in their back yard for years? They will get f. all.

New Labour - open, caring, and agressive to pensioners

UPDATE: They are Bastards

Venezuela: US continues to shelter alleged terrorist

presnalatina:Venezuela Insists US Extradite Terrorist Posada

Venezuela's Foreign Affairs Ministry denounced Tuesday that the US Department of Homeland Security has allowed the case of Luis Posada Carriles, for whom Venezuela has solicited extradition as an escaped murderer, to turn into a migration issue.

The Ministry published a release by the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, concerning the terrorist's El Paso court appearance before Judge William Abbott, who was disposed to allow Posada Carriles to remain in the US under protection of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

The document held that Posada Carriles is a fugitive from Venezuelan justice, wanted for the first degree murder of 73 people by the explosion of a Cuban aircraft on October 6, 1976.

Venezuela formally solicited his extradition from the US Department of State on June 15, 2005, which instead of extraditing him, has turned the case into an immigration issue.

The Ministry release explained that giving CAT benefits to Posada Carriles is cynically distorting an international agreement to protect innocents from torture and using it as an instrument to give refuge to a terrorist. Noting that he asked for CAT because, as a convicted criminal he is ineligible for normal US asylum benefits.

It added that Venezuela had petitioned the 1971 Montreal Convention on International Civil Aviation and to the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings of December 1997.

"Venezuela asks again that the US government respect the law and extradite Posada Carriles to be tried in Caracas for murder, in the first degree, of 73 people," the release concluded. Link

Iraq's food stocks lowest ever

Azzaman: The country's food warehouses are running dangerously low, Agriculture Ministry's experts say.

In a study obtained by the newspaper, the experts say the current food capacity, estimated at nearly 2 million tons, though hugely insufficient, is at lowest levels ever.

All that Iraqi silos and warehouses can hold is about 2 million tons but most of these have run out of food, the experts say.

The study, written by Mohammed Manhal and Sami Khudayer, urges the government to construct new silos and warehouses to raise the country's grain storage capacity to 9 million tons.

Iraqis rely on government food rations without which millions of families would starve.

But the rations, introduced under former leader Saddam Hussein, no longer include the same amount food items Iraqis used to get before the U.S.-led invasion of the country.

Despite the allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars for food imports, Iraqis have rarely received their assigned share of food rations.

Many families even go without food rations for months and when the food arrives essential items are missing.

"The government has to expand the storage capacity," the experts recommend.

Even the current silos and warehouses are in need of repairs and rehabilitation.

The quantities lost in these silos reach 30% of the amount stored, the experts added.

They said the amount of food the government has in stores is much less than what the country needs in a month.

Iraq, an almost landlocked country, would be adversely affected if borders are closed for an extended period, they said.

The government also needs to build silos to store sugar, tea and legumes with a capacity of at least 3.5 million.

"We need to have enough food in our silos that is enough to feed the country for at least three months," the experts said. Link

Paisley rejects IRA decommissioning - it's a 'cover-up'

irishrepublicannews: Unionist leader Ian Paisley claimed today [tuesday] there had been a "cover-up" in relation to the announced disarmament of the Provisional IRA and said his party would not be entering into government with Sinn Fein.

Speaking after an hour-long meeting with General John de Chastelain and other members of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD), Mr Paisley said many weapons had fallen into the hands of dissident republican groups.

"Even the security forces admit that some of the weapons that were in the original lists are now given to other dissident organisations, and that is very serious.

"Part of the weapons that should have been decommissioned have disappeared and the security forces admit they are probably in the hands of dissidents.

"The more spotlight is put on this, the more we discover there is a cover-up," Mr Paisley said.

Gen de Chastelain said yesterday the IRA's arsenal of weapons,explosives and ammunition has been put beyond use in a massive decommissioning operation that lasted several days.

The Irish and British governments welcomed what they called a landmark development, and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said the IRA's unprecedented decommissioning was total.

But Dr Paisley said his party members "got the greatest surprise of all" during today's meeting when they discovered that improvised weapons were not covered on the intelligence lists.

Mr Paisley said: "These things put a question, a very big question, over what has taken place.

"When we came to any question which could unravel what needs to be unraveled and could put some light on these things, they refused to give us any answers."

On the the Catholic and Methodist churchmen, who acted as independent witnesses to decommissioning, Mr Paisley said: "They were the IRA's nominated witnesses.

"The gun is not out of Irish politics," Dr Paisley said, as he made clear his party would not form a government with Sinn Fein.

Asked whether he could see himself in government with Sinn Fein, he said: "We will not be doing it." He said he represented the people and it would be the people who decided whether republicans would be in government.

see: IRA to Disarm

*Irish Republican News presents "uncensored coverage of events from an Irish Republican perspective"

db: What use is peace to Dr Paisley? We have listened to his unholy rants for years - he is fond of accusing others of having 'blood on their hands' . And Dr Paisley's hands?

Iraq: Muqtada Al Sadr spokesman rejects US apology

An official in the Al Sadr trend described the apology of the American forces for what has taken place in Al Sadr city, on Saturday night, as "neither sufficient nor satisfactory". He undervalued such an apology "as these forces are still murdering people." He said that the apology "is a deceiving and cunning attempt, which is not sufficient to compensate for the offense committed on behalf of the American forces against Al Sadr city and Iraq."

alhayat/almendhar: In a statement to Al Hayat, Sheikh Abdel Hadi Al Deraji, one of Muqtada Al Sadr's assistants in Baghdad, demanded for the withdrawal of foreign forces. He referred to "the demonstrations witnessed in the United States and Britain that reject the existence of these forces in Iraq, which is a clear proof of the extent of international rejection of the occupation."

He criticized the situation of the Shiite parties, which are clinging to the "occupation" forces. He considered it as merely "emerging from personal interests." He continued, "Immediately after the entry of American tanks into Iraq, the Iraqi structure started to dissolve. The occupation and other forces cooperating with it worked on dividing the unity of the country."

It is worth mentioning that Karim Najati, MP representing the Shiite Coalition, told Al Hayat that the American commander in Al Rasafa region, Colonel Disalvo, confirmed, in a phone call, that he was unaware of the military operations of his forces in Al Sadr city that night and that he did not issue orders in this respect. He assured that he is conducting an investigation with those in charge.

Najati pointed out that the American commander praised the situation of the office of the martyr Al Sadr in the city and its call for tranquility and self-control. He confirmed that the American commander of the forces in charge of Al Sadr city "has apologized and is aware of the wrong procedures taken on behalf of his forces that night."

He referred to the continuous investigation with the elements of the patrol to disclose the circumstance of the incident and that he issued orders for the release of 13 detainees of the city residents, who were detained during the operation, in addition to a preliminary agreement on holding a meeting between his forces and the executive departments in Al Sadr city for tranquilizing the conditions. Link

Basra: Terror,Troops,Toys, Hospitals, Hizbollah, Iran

This Basra Story Has Got it All!

telegraph: Police infiltrators hold Basra in grip of terror

The convoy of Warrior armoured vehicles jolted along the rutted street. Inside the furnace-like interior of the rear vehicle four sweating soldiers from the Staffordshire regiment cursed the stench of sewage that filled the air.

Their mission was simple if lowly: visit a police station and deliver a consignment of toys to a nearby hospital. Two months ago the security would have been unnecessary. Then British officers frequently drove around Basra in lone, unarmoured Land Rovers. Read more

db: The Telegraph's bold search for the truth - in order to avoid it - continues. They are out in front when it comes to serving the interests of the MoD over the interests of the British public. Read the previous db post for a more challenging experience.

British undercover operatives in Iraq

tehrantimes: Basra is relatively stable compared to central Iraq where violence involving insurgents, civilians and coalition forces is a daily routine. The city has rarely been a site of clashes between insurgents and coalition troops, nor is it a victim of regular terrorist attacks. This week, however, things changed, but not thanks to Zarqawi and his al-Qaeda link. On Monday, Sept. 19, two British soldiers were arrested and detained by Iraqi police in Basra. Within a matter of hours, the British military responded with overwhelming force, despite subsequent denials by the Ministry of Defense, which insisted that the two men had been retrieved solely through "negotiations."

British military officials, including Brigadier John Lorimer, told BBC News (9/20/05) that the British Army had stormed an Iraqi police station to locate the detainees. Ministry of Defense sources confirmed that "British vehicles" had attempted to "maintain a cordon" outside the police station.

After British Army tanks "flattened the wall" of the station, UK troops "broke into the police station to confirm the men were not there" and then "staged a rescue from a house in Basra", according to a commanding officer familiar with the operation. Both men, British defense sources told the BBC's Richard Galpin in Baghdad, were "members of the SAS elite special forces." After their arrest, the soldiers were over to the local militia.

What had prompted this bizarre turn of events? Why had the Iraqi police forces, which normally work in close cooperation with coalition military forces, arrested two British SAS soldiers, and then handed them over to the local militia? A review of the initial on-the-ground reports leads to a clearer picture.

Fancy dress and big guns don't mix

According to the BBC's Galpin, reporting for BBC Radio 4 (9/20/05, 18 hrs news script), Iraqi police sources in Basra told the BBC the "two British men were arrested after failing to stop at a checkpoint. There was an exchange of gunfire. The men were wearing traditional Arab clothing, and when the police eventually stopped them, they said they found explosives and weapons in their car. It's widely believed the two British servicemen were operating undercover."

Undercover? Dressed as Arabs? What were they trying to do that had caught the attention of their colleagues, the Iraqi police?

According to the Washington Post (9/20/05), "Iraqi security officials on Monday variously accused the two Britons they detained of shooting at Iraqi forces or trying to plant explosives." Reuters (9/19/05) cited police, local officials and other witnesses who confirmed that "the two undercover soldiers were arrested after opening fire on Iraqi police who approached them." Officials said that "the men were wearing traditional Arab headscarves and sitting in an unmarked car."

According to Mohammed al-Abadi, an official in the Basra governorate, a policeman approached them and then one of these guys fired at him. Then the police managed to capture them.

Booby-trapped Brits?

In an interview with Al Jazeera TV, the popular Iraqi leader Fattah al-Sheikh, a member of the Iraqi National Assembly and deputy official in the Basra governorate, said that police had "caught two non-Iraqis, who seem to be Britons and were in a car of the Cressida type. It was a booby-trapped car laden with ammunition and was meant to explode in the centre of the city of Basra in the popular market." Contrary to British authorities' claims that the soldiers had been immediately handed to local militia, al-Sheikh confirmed that they were "at the Intelligence Department in Basra, and they were held by the National Guard force, but the British occupation forces are still surrounding this department in an attempt to absolve them of the crime."

The Special Reconnaissance Regiment and British covert operations

British defense sources told the Scotsman (9/20/05) that the soldiers were part of an "undercover special forces detachment" set up this year to "bridge the intelligence void in Basra, drawing on 'special forces' experience in Northern Ireland and Aden, where British troops went 'deep' undercover in local communities to try to break the code of silence against foreign forces."

These elite forces operate under the Special Reconnaissance Regiment and were formed last year by then defense secretary, Geoff Hoon, "to gather human intelligence during counter-terrorist missions."

The question, of course, is how does firing at Iraqi police while dressed as Arabs and carrying explosives constitute "countering terrorism" or even gathering "intelligence"?

The admission by British defense officials is revealing. A glance at the Special Reconnaissance Regiment gives a more concrete idea of the sort of operations these two British soldiers were involved in.

The Regiment, formed recently, is "modeled on an undercover unit that operated in Northern Ireland" according to Whitehall sources. The Regiment had "absorbed the 14th Intelligence Company, known as '14 Int,' a plainclothes unit set up to gather intelligence covertly on suspect terrorists in Northern Ireland. Its recruits are trained by the SAS."

[db emphasis-]
This is the same Regiment that was involved in the unlawful July 22 execution - multiple head-shots - of the innocent Brazilian, Mr. Jean Charles de Menezes, after he boarded a tube train in Stockwell Underground station.

According to Detective Sergeant Nicholas Benwell, member of the Scotland Yard team that had been investigating the activities of an ultra-secret wing of British military intelligence, the Force Research Unit (FRU), the team found that "military intelligence was colluding with terrorists to help them kill so-called 'legitimate targets' such as active republicans... many of the victims of these government-backed hit squads were innocent civilians."

Benwell's revelations were corroborated in detail by British double agent Kevin Fulton, who was recruited to the FRU in 1981, when he began to infiltrate the ranks of IRA. In his role as a British FRU agent inside the IRA, he was told by his military intelligence handlers to "do anything" to win the confidence of the terrorist group.

[db emphasis-]
"I mixed explosive and I helped develop new types of bombs," he told Scotland's Sunday Herald (6/23/02). "I moved weapons if you ask me if the materials I handled killed anyone, then I will have to say that some of the things I helped develop did kill my handlers knew everything I did. I was never told not to do something that was discussed. How can you pretend to be a terrorist and not act like one? You can't. You've got to do what they do. They did a lot of murders I broke the law seven days a week and my handlers knew that. They knew that I was making bombs and giving them to other members of the IRA and they did nothing about it. The idea was that the only way to beat the enemy was to penetrate the enemy and be the enemy."

Most startlingly, Fulton said that his handlers told him his operations were "sanctioned right at the top this goes the whole way to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister knows what you are doing."

Zarqawi, Baathists and the seeds of discord

So, based on the methodology of their Regiment, the two British SAS operatives were in Iraq to "penetrate the enemy and be the enemy," in order of course to "beat the enemy." Instead of beating the enemy, however, they ended up fomenting massive chaos and killing innocent people, a familiar pattern for critical students of the British role in the Northern Ireland conflict.

In November 2004, a joint statement was released on several Islamist websites on behalf of al-Qaeda's man in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Saddam Hussein's old Baath Party loyalists. Zarqawi's network had "joined other extremist Islamists and Saddam Hussein's old Baath party to threaten increased attacks on U.S.-led forces." Zarqawi's group said they signed "the statement written by the Iraqi Baath party, not because we support the party or Saddam, but because it expresses the demands of resistance groups in Iraq."

The statement formalized what had been known for a year already that, as post-Saddam Iraqi intelligence and U.S. military officials told the London Times (8/9/2003), "Al Qaeda terrorists who have infiltrated Iraq from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have formed an alliance with former intelligence agents of Saddam Hussein to fight their common enemy, the American forces." Al Qaeda leaders "recruit from the pool" of Saddam's former "security and intelligence officers who are unemployed and embittered by their loss of status." After vetting, "they begin Al-Qaeda-style training, such as how to make remote-controlled bombs."

Yet Pakistani military sources revealed in February 2005 that the U.S. has "resolved to arm small militias backed by U.S. troops and entrenched in the population," consisting of "former members of the Baath Party" the same people already teamed up with Zarqawi's al-Qaeda network.

In a highly clandestine operation, the U.S. procured Pakistan-manufactured weapons, including rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ammunition, rockets and other light weaponry. A Pakistani military analyst noted that the arms could not be destined for the Iraqi security forces because U.S. arms would be given to them. Rather, the U.S. is playing a double-game to head off the threat of a Shiite clergy-driven religious movement in other words, to exacerbate the deterioration of security by penetrating, manipulating and arming the terrorist insurgency.

What could be the end-game of such a covert strategy? The view on-the-ground in Iraq, among both Sunnis and Shiites, is worth noting. Sheikh Jawad al-Kalesi, the Shiite Imam of the al-Kadhimiyah mosque in Baghdad, told Le Monde: "I don't think that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi exists as such. He's simply an invention by the occupiers to divide the people."

Iraq's most powerful Sunni Arab religious authority, the Association of Muslim Scholars, concurs, condemning the call to arms against Shiites as a very dangerous phenomenon that plays into the hands of the occupier who wants to split up the country and spark a sectarian war. In colonial terms, the strategy is known as divide and rule.

Whether or not Zarqawi can be said to exist, it is indeed difficult to avoid the conclusion that this interpretation is plausible. It seems the only ones who don't understand the clandestine dynamics of Anglo-American covert strategy in Iraq are we, the people, in the west. It's high time we got informed. Read more

see: Guardian: New special forces unit tailed Brazilian

db: The reality is that the UK government[s] have 'previous' when it comes to killing innocents via proxy thugs and madmen. They have previous when it comes to lying to and misleading the gullible UK population. And they certainly have previous when the time comes to control a story and with it the embedded [as in an 'attitude'] media.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Iraqi commandos to launch 'anti-terror operation' in Qa''em

Kuna: Iraqi Chief of Interior Ministry Commandos, Major General Rashid Flaih said on Tuesday that the force will execute an anti-terror sweeping campaign in Qa'em, nearby the Iraqi-Syrian borders, similar to that executed in Tal Afar.

Flaih told reporters that the forces will cordon the town to cut terrorists' supplies in Qa'em and surrounding areas, noting that the Iraqi Commando force will execute the operation instead of the US forces starting on Tuesday.

The Multi-National Force (MNF) announced on Monday that the coalition forces launched accurate air raids on terrorist hideouts in the town of Awash in western Iraq, killing a leader of Al-Qaeda in Karablah, nearby Qa'em.

The MNF said in a press release that Al-Qaeda leader, called Abu Naseer, and 20 others were killed in a house bombed during the raid, noting that Abu Naseer was the insurgents' leader in Karablah and was responsible for facilitating the infiltration of foreign fighters into Iraq. Link

db: OK, so what's the betting that later we will hear from the embedded journalists in London, New York, or Baghdad that the attack on Qa'em is aimed at 'rooting out' the one-legged superhuman terror-monster Zarqawi or his supporters? It's a near-cert.

John Pilger - Sinister Events in a Cynical War

newstatesman/dissidentvoice: Here are questions that are not being asked about the latest twist of a cynical war. Were explosives and a remote-control detonator found in the car of the two SAS special forces men "rescued" from prison in Basra on 19 September? If true, what were they planning to do with them? Why did the British military authorities in Iraq put out an unbelievable version of the circumstances that led up to armoured vehicles smashing down the wall of a prison?

According to the head of Basra's Governing Council, which has co-operated with the British, five civilians were killed by British soldiers. A judge says nine. How much is an Iraqi life worth? Is there to be no honest accounting in Britain for this sinister event, or do we simply accept Defence Secretary John Reid's customary arrogance? "Iraqi law is very clear," he said. "British personnel are immune from Iraqi legal process." He omitted to say that this fake immunity was invented by Iraq's occupiers.

Watching "embedded" journalists in Iraq and London attempting to protect the British line was like watching a satire of the whole atrocity in Iraq. First, there was feigned shock that the Iraqi regime's "writ" did not run outside its American fortifications in Baghdad and the "British trained" police in Basra might be "infiltrated". An outraged Jeremy Paxman wanted to know how two of our boys - in fact, highly suspicious foreigners dressed as Arabs and carrying a small armory - could possibly be arrested by police in a "democratic" society. "Aren't they supposed to be on our side?" he demanded.

Although reported initially by the Times and the Mail, all mention of the explosives allegedly found in the SAS men's unmarked Cressida vanished from the news. Instead, the story was the danger the men faced if they were handed over to the militia run by the "radical" cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. "Radical" is a gratuitous embedded term; al-Sadr has actually co-operated with the British. What did he have to say about the "rescue"? Quite a lot, none of which was reported in this country. His spokesman, Sheikh Hassan al-Zarqani, said the SAS men, disguised as al-Sadr's followers, were planning an attack on Basra ahead of an important religious festival. "When the police tried to stop them," he said, "[they] opened fire on the police and passers-by. After a car chase, they were arrested. What our police found in the car was very disturbing - weapons, explosives and a remote control detonator. These are the weapons of terrorists."

The episode illuminates the most enduring lie of the Anglo-American adventure. This says the "coalition" is not to blame for the bloodbath in Iraq - which it is, overwhelmingly - and that foreign terrorists orchestrated by al-Qaeda are the real culprits. The conductor of the orchestra, goes this line, is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian. The demonry of Al-Zarqawi is central to the Pentagon's "Strategic Information Program" set up to shape news coverage of the occupation. It has been the Americans' single unqualified success. Turn on any news in the US and Britain, and the embedded reporter standing inside an American (or British) fortress will repeat unsubstantiated claims about al-Zarqawi.

Two impressions are the result: that Iraqis' right to resist an illegal invasion - a right enshrined in international law - has been usurped and de-legitimized by callous foreign terrorists, and that a civil war is under way between the Shi'ites and the Sunni. A member of the Iraqi National Assembly, Fatah al-Sheikh said this week, "There is a huge campaign for the agents of the foreign occupiers to enter and plant hatred between the sons of the Iraqi people and spread rumors in order to scare the one from the other... The occupiers are trying to start religious incitement and if it does not happen, then they will start an internal Shi-ite incitement."

The Anglo-American goal of "federalism" for Iraq is part of an imperial strategy of provoking divisions in a country where traditionally the communities have overlapped, even inter-married. The Osama-like promotion of al-Zarqawi is integral to this. Like the Scarlet Pimpernel, he is everywhere but nowhere. When the Americans crushed the city of Fallujah last year, the justification for their atrocious behavior was "getting those guys loyal to al-Zarqawi." But the city's civil and religious authorities denied he was ever there or had anything to do with the resistance.

"He is simply an invention." said the Imam of Baghdad's al-Kazimeya mosque. "Al-Zarqawi was killed in the beginning of the war in the Kurdish north. His family even held a ceremony after his death." Whether or not this is true, al-Zaqawi's "foreign invasion" serves as Bush's and Blair's last veil for their "war on terror" and botched attempt to control the world's second biggest source of oil.

On 23 September, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, an establishment body, published a report that accused the US of "feeding the myth" of foreign fighters in Iraqi who account for less than 10 per cent of a resistance estimated at 30,000. Of the eight comprehensive studies into the number of Iraqi civilians killed by the "coalition", four put the figure at more than 100,000. Until the British army is withdrawn from where it has no right to be, and those responsible for this monumental act of terrorism are indicted by the International Criminal Court, Britain is shamed. Link

db: When the UK military attacked the Basra police station - in a full-on display of British aggression and arrogance - it wasn't just a mask that slipped from the face of British Colonial Forces - which was and is a spectacle to behold - but the mask also slipped from the UK news media [with a few exceptions]. The mass of the existentially embedded, after a few hours of uncertain and uncoordinated honesty [ignorance and naivety really - they never planned to tell us too much] allowed the MoD to recover control of the unfolding story and utterly change the direction that the thing was taking. It's now a story about infiltration, Iran, ungrateful natives and the burden of the white man**. Fucking MoD.

** "The White Man's Burden" - Kipling's Hymn to US Imperialism

In February 1899, British novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem entitled "The White Man's Burden: The United States and The Philippine Islands." In this poem, Kipling urged the U.S. to take up the "burden" of empire, as had Britain and other European nations. Published in the February, 1899 issue of McClure's Magazine, the poem coincided with the beginning of the Philippine-American War and U.S. Senate ratification of the treaty that placed Puerto Rico, Guam, Cuba, and the Philippines under American control. Theodore Roosevelt, soon to become vice-president and then president, copied the poem and sent it to his friend, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, commenting that it was "rather poor poetry, but good sense from the expansion point of view." Not everyone was as favorably impressed as Roosevelt. The racialized notion of the "White Man's burden" became a euphemism for imperialism, and many anti-imperialists couched their opposition in reaction to the phrase.

Read it here - it's not very good - "except from an expansion point of view".

Blair: Arms dealer to Saudi Tyrants

Guardian:Blair in secret Saudi mission

Tony Blair and John Reid, the defence secretary, have been holding secret talks with Saudi Arabia in pursuit of a huge arms deal worth up to 40bn pounds, according to diplomatic sources.

Mr Blair went to Riyadh on July 2, en route to Singapore, where Britain was bidding for the 2012 Olympics. Three weeks later, Mr Reid made a two-day visit, when he sought to persuade Prince Sultan, the crown prince, to re-equip his air force with the Typhoon, the European fighter plane of which the British arms company BAE has the lion's share of manufacturing.

Defence, diplomatic and legal sources say negotiations are stalling because the Saudis are demanding three favours. These are that Britain should expel two anti-Saudi dissidents, Saad al-Faqih and Mohammed al-Masari; that British Airways should resume flights to Riyadh, currently cancelled through terrorism fears; and that a corruption investigation implicating the Saudi ruling family and BAE should be dropped. Crown prince Sultan's son-in-law, Prince Turki bin Nasr, is at the centre of a "slush fund" investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

The Saudis have been trying for years to get their hands on Mr Faqih, who they say was involved in a plot to assassinate the recently enthroned King Abdullah. Mr Faqih, who has asylum, denies support for violence, and privately neither the Foreign Office nor the security services regard him as a danger to Britain. Mr Masari fled Saudi Arabia in 1994, and the Major government made an unsuccessful attempt to exile him to the Caribbean island of Dominica under pressure from BAE.

The Typhoon, currently entering service with the RAF, has a price of more than45m pounds a plane.Saudi Arabia previously bought a fleet of its predecessor Tornados from Britain in the Al Yamamah arms deal. Mike Turner, the chief executive of BAE, Britain's biggest arms company, was quoted in Flight International magazine on June 21, just before Mr Blair's Riyadh trip, saying: "The objective is to get the Typhoon into Saudi Arabia. We've had 43bn pounds from Al Yamamah over the last 20 years and there could be another 40bn."

There is concern within the Foreign Office at the apparent partiality of No 10 to BAE's commercial interests. Jonathan Powell, Mr Blair's chief of staff, and his brother Charles, Lady Thatcher's former adviser and now a BAE consultant, are believed to be in favour of the deal. Link

War of Terror arrives in Puerto Rico

eldiario: The death of Filiberto Ojeda Rios

The nationalist leader was struck by a single bullet from a sharpshooter's high-powered rifle. While he suffered no wound to any vital organ, he was left to bleed to death on the floor of his home as FBI agents refused to allow Puerto Rican authorities and emergency medical teams anywhere near the house, maintaining a militarized perimeter for 24 hours.

When word came late Friday afternoon that FBI agents had surrounded the house in Puerto Rico where Filiberto Ojeda Rios was hiding out, most people expected the worst. On Saturday, the FBI confirmed that Ojeda had been killed in a shootout with agents.

The death of Filiberto Ojeda Rios highlights once again Puerto Rico's delicate and vague political relationship to the U.S., and an independence movement that is dwindling but undying. Even those people who don't believe the island should be an independent nation respect the leaders and the history of the independence movement, and are disturbed by the events surrounding Ojeda's death.

We acknowledge that Ojeda was a fugitive. The leader of the Macheteros, he was wanted for his role in the robbery of $7 million from a Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford, Conn., in 1983.

Yet, the FBI moved in on Ojeda on a day of great significance in Puerto Rico, the 147th anniversary of El Grito de Lares, a cry for independence. And given that Ojeda was in his 70s, surely there was a way to capture him without killing him. Then, FBI officials waited almost a day before confirming his death. Protesters on the island said the FBI mishandled the arrest. Here in New York, a rally is planned today at 5 p.m. at 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan.

Puerto Ricans have a history of more than 100 years in New York City, and still make up 37 percent of the Hispanic population here. Yet Ojeda’s death went almost unnoticed by the mainstream media on Sunday, garnering only AP stories buried in The New York Times and the Daily News.

Ojeda's life and death are an important part of the story of Puerto Rico, the people's struggle to preserve their dignity and history, and a U.S. government that says it is fighting for democracy abroad but still maintains a colonial relationship with this island of 3.8 million U.S. citizens. Link

FBI murders Puerto Rican independence figure

It's Bottoms Up for Basra

bucksfreepress: The Marlow brewery helped bring a smile to the faces of British troops in Iraq after shipping out beer for the Battle of Britain celebrations.

The Rebellion beer company, based in Marlow Bottom, donated 72 pints to the official Battle of Britain celebrations at Basra Air Station to commemorate the efforts of soldiers in the Second World War.

The gathering on Thursday, September 22, saw troops from the RAF, Navy and Army take part whilst enjoying the brewery's version of IPA (Indian Pale Ale) beer.

The brew was actually created at the turn of the 19th century for troops based in old colonial India.

Tim Coombes, co-owner of the brewery, said: "Funnily enough, we sent it to troops in Iraq so we think it should be called Iraq Pale Ale. Read more

db: IPA - the colonial masterbrew............. [72 pints isn't going to go very far]

British Basra bomb bull

URUKNET: All the speculation has forced the British government to come up with a new Official Story on what the two police-murderin', anti-tank-weapon-totin', Arab-dress-sportin' soldiers were up to in Basra:

"TWO SAS soldiers rescued last week after being arrested by Iraqi police and handed over to a militia were engaged in a 'secret war' against insurgents bringing sophisticated bombs into the country from Iran.

The men had left their base near the southern Iraqi city of Basra to carry out reconnaissance and supply a second patrol with 'more tools and fire power', said a source with knowledge of their activities.

They had been in Basra for seven weeks on an operation prompted by intelligence that a new type of roadside bomb which has been used against British troops was among weapons being smuggled over the Iranian border."......................... and:

"'Since the increase in attacks against UK forces two months ago, a 24-strong SAS team has been working out of Basra to provide a safety net to stop the bombers getting into the city from Iran,' said one source. 'The aim is to identify routes used by insurgents and either capture or kill them.'"

You can replace 'source with knowledge of their activities' by 'Blair spin-artiste' to get a more accurate feeling for what is going on here. As propaganda goes, it's a twofer, simultaneously explaining that these weren't British agents provocateurs, and that Iran is somehow to blame for the problems in Basra. I suppose the secret mission in the hinterland of Basra explains what they were doing in Basra itself, near where there was to be a protest against the British seizure of a local leader blamed by the British for their recent problems in the area. It suppose it also explains why they didn't just identify themselves as British soldiers when challenged, instead of getting into a firefight with local authorities (who, after all, were just doing their jobs). I suppose it also explains why it took the British days and days to come up with their latest version of the truth. The Iraqis, who haven't got the luxury of lying to themselves about the motives of a government which, after all, is a documented liar on the reasons for entering the war in the first place, know what the truth is. Read more

The truth? We don't know

Monday, September 26, 2005

Basra - No apology or compensation but plenty of sweets

Picture shows British soldier with sweets for Basra school children - proving beyond any doubt that we are the good guys.

Britain refuses apology and compensation for Iraqis caught up in Basra riots

British officials in Iraq have ruled out an apology for the mission to rescue two undercover soldiers from a Basra police station last week, saying police in Iraq's second city had disobeyed orders from their bosses in Baghdad.

"An apology to the police or the government would not be appropriate because there were orders to the Basra police from the interior ministry to release the two soldiers and they didn't obey," Karen McLuskie, a British diplomat in Basra, told the Guardian. "Our people were considered to be in danger and our actions were justified."

She said there were no special plans for compensating the relatives of the four Iraqis killed and the 44 injured in violence surrounding the raid last Monday.

"Any citizen who was hurt can apply for compensation in the same way as if they had been hit by an army Humvee or truck," said Ms McLuskie. There were no plans to help rebuild the police station. Read more

Unmaking Iraq: A Constitutional Process Gone Awry

ICG: Instead of healing the growing divisions between Iraq's three principal communities - Shiites, Kurds and Sunni Arabs - a rushed constitutional process has deepened rifts and hardened feelings. Without a strong U.S.-led initiative to assuage Sunni Arab concerns, the constitution is likely to fuel rather than dampen the insurgency, encourage ethnic and sectarian violence, and hasten the country's violent break-up.

At the outset of the drafting process in June-July 2005, Sunni Arab inclusion was the litmus test of Iraqi and U.S. ability to defeat the insurgency through a political strategy. When U.S. brokering brought fifteen Sunni Arab political leaders onto the Constitutional Committee, hopes were raised that an all-encompassing compact between the communities might be reached as a starting point for stabilising the country. Regrettably, the Bush administration chose to sacrifice inclusiveness for the sake of an arbitrary deadline, apparently in hopes of preparing the ground for a significant military draw-down in 2006. As a result, the constitution-making process became a new stake in the political battle rather than an instrument to resolve it.

Rushing the constitution produced two casualties. The first was consensus. Sunni Arabs felt increasingly marginalised from negotiations beginning in early August when these were moved from the Constitutional Committee to an informal forum of Shiite and Kurdish leaders, and have refused to sign on to the various drafts they were shown since that time. The text that has now been accepted by the Transitional National Assembly, in their view, threatens their existential interests by implicitly facilitating the country's dissolution, which would leave them landlocked and bereft of resources.

The second casualty was the text itself. Key passages, such as those dealing with decentralisation and with the responsibility for the power of taxation, are both vague and ambiguous and so carry the seeds of future discord. Many vital areas are left for future legislation that will have less standing than the constitution, be more vulnerable to amendment and bear the sectarian imprint of the Shiite community given its likely dominance of future legislatures.

On 15 October 2005, Iraqis will be asked, in an up-or-down referendum, to embrace a weak document that lacks consensus. In what may be the worst possible outcome, it is likely to pass, despite overwhelming Sunni Arab opposition. The Kurdish parties and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani have a proven ability to bring out their followers, and the Sunni Arabs are unlikely to clear the threshold of two thirds in three provinces required to defeat it. Such a result would leave Iraq divided, an easy prey to both insurgents and sectarian tensions that have dramatically increased over the past year. Read more

US Lawmakers friends of torture

thinkprogress: Frist and Torture: What Did He Know and When Did He Know It?

Time magazine yesterday revealed new allegations of systematic abuse of Iraqi detainees made by a "decorated former Captain in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division." For months, the Captain says, U.S. soldiers were directed "to conduct daily beatings of prisoners prior to questioning." In one instance, "a soldier allegedly broke a detainee's leg with a metal bat." Other prisoners had "their faces and eyes exposed to burning chemicals."

The Captain revealed this abuse to Human Rights Watch in July 2005. He also reported his charges to "three senior Republican senators," including Majority Leader Bill Frist and Sen. John McCain. The torture, he said, was due primarily to "chronic confusion over U.S. military detention policies and whether or not the Geneva Convention applied."

On July 27, the same month the Captain came forward, Sen. Frist single-handedly derailed a bipartisan effort - led by Sen. McCain - to clarify rules for the treatment of enemy prisoners at U.S. prison camps. In what news reports at the time described as an "unusual move," Frist "simply pulled the bill from consideration" before it could be debated.

Bill Frist needs to come clean: Was his office told of the '“systematic abuse'” in the 82nd Airborne before he torpedoed the new detainee laws? Link

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Remember Blair and the 'joy on the faces of people in Basra'

db: See Bush/Blair statements from April 2003 when they were already intoxicated with the sweet smell of victory over Iraq - then contrast the tone with that adopted by Blair today. Gone is the desire to 'work with everyone' as Blair declared was his intention - and as for giving some recognition to those who have 'got support within the local community' - well we have had a change of plan - core to which is the 'scrapping' of the Basra police force, and with it the murderers and assassins of the infiltrating militias and replace it, after a year or so, with 25,000 of our own murderers and assassins. It's all true - see ealier post.

Press conference: Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George Bush

8 April 2003

George W Bush

....the Royal Marines in Basra worked so hard that the people of Basra are beginning to understand a couple of things: one, when we said we would come and stay to achieve their liberty we meant it; that in Basra for example the presence of the Royal Marines is providing enough comfort for people to begin to express their own opinions, they are beginning to realise freedom is real. These are people in the south of Iraq that had been betrayed, tortured, had been told they were going to be free, took a risk in the past and then were actually hammered by the Iraqi regime, they were sceptical, they were cynical, they were doubtful, now they begin to understand we are real and true.

Tony Blair:

I agree with all that, as you would expect........these people, given a chance, already now they are in discussion with our people inside Basra, people coming forward, people talking about those who have got support within the local community. It is not just right that that Iraq is run by Iraqi people, they want the chance to run their own country. They haven't wanted to be under the yoke of tyranny for all these decades. The reason you have this incredibly tyrannical repressive security apparatus was in order to suppress the proper feelings of the people there. Now of course we are going to work with everyone, we will work with the UN, we will work with everyone in order to bring this about.

I think anyone who has seen the joy on the faces of people in Basra, as they realise that the regime that they detest is finally collapsing, knows very well that this was indeed a war of liberation and not of conquest.

Fast Forward>> September 25th 2005

Mr Blair said he would "absolutely not" accept an arrest warrant from a Basra judge for two British soldiers after an Iraqi civilian was reportedly killed and a police officer injured.

"There is no doubt in my mind at all that what is happening in Iraq now is crucial for the future of our own security, never mind the security of Iraq or the greater Middle East," he said.

The prime minister said everything necessary would be done to protect British troops.

"The Iraqi government are not asking us to apologise. We will do anything that is necessary to protect our troops in any situation. "

Iraq: 13 dead 'elite police' or 'Salvador Option' Wolf Brigade killers?

db: Below is a report concerning the death earlier of 13 'elite' Iraqi police via a car bomb. Like most other news sources ITN fails to highlight that the 13 dead 'elite' police were in fact members of the notorious 'Wolf Brigade' - a paramilitary death squad inspired by the thugs and murderers used by Ronald Reagan in El Salvador during the 1980s to kill nuns, priests, teachers and all other threats to US hegemony in the region. This group has been implicated in the killing of journalists and innocent Iraqis by the hundreds - worryingly they are on the side of the occupier - allegedly the creation of Donald Rumsfeld - hence the name - "Rumsfeld's Boys". See AP report of Wolf Brigade deaths.

Also see below clip of Mike Whitney report "The Rumsfeld Solution; Liberating Iraq, one journalist at a time"

ITN: Baghdad bomb kills 13 police officers

A suicide car bomb has killed 13 elite police officers in eastern Baghdad.

A further ten were wounded in the attack which came after an incident in which US troops clashed with militia fighters loyal to a rebellious Shi'ite Muslim cleric.

They said US forces entered the poor Shi'ite district of Sadr City seeking to detain a group of militia members suspected of carrying out guerrilla attacks.

Separately a suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up in a busy marketplace in Hilla, south of Baghdad, killing at least three people and wounding more than 30.

Violence has been on the increase head of a referendum on a new constitution for Iraq on October 15. Link

"The Rumsfeld Solution; liberating Iraq, one journalist at a time"

"The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is calling on the United States to investigate 3 new cases of journalists killed in Iraq in the last week.This brings to 17 the number of journalists and media staff killed by US soldiers." Iraq Press

Last week, Yasser Salihee, a reporter for Knight Ridder news agency, was assassinated in a perfectly executed gangland-style hit a few miles outside of Baghdad. He was struck by a single bullet to the head by an American sniper. Salihee's murder resulted from his extensive coverage of the torture and murder of "suspected insurgents" by US-backed death-squads.

Many readers will remember Donald Rumsfeld rushing-off to Baghdad a few months ago to ensure that the "newly elected" Iraqi government didn't fiddle with the new regime he'd installed in the Interior Ministry. With the help of former CIA-operative Iyad Allawi, Rumsfeld put together a cadre of thugs who operate under the rubric of "The Wolf Brigade". ( also referred to as "Rumsfeld's Boys") Salihee had uncovered the gruesome details of how this counterinsurgency unit really works; roaming the countryside in white Toyota Land Cruisers, dressed as police, rounding up anti-occupation suspects and either killing and torturing them as they see fit. These special units are similar to the death squads that were used by Ronald Reagan in El Salvador during the 1980s. Now they are thriving in Iraq under the auspices of the Defense Dept; operating freely behind the facade of a democratically elected Iraqi government.

The Wolf Brigade has enlisted members of the Republican Guard as well as former members of Saddam's feared secret police, the Mukhabarat. Both groups are intimately familiar with torture and the other instruments of state terror. Since the elections the Brigade has played a major role in the crackdown throughout the Sunni Triangle that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Iraqis. Salihee was following these developments when he was gunned down.

He discovered that corpses, which were being dumped off at the Baghdad morgue, showed the signs of being killed in a "methodical fashion. Their hands had been tied or handcuffed behind their backs, their eyes were blindfolded and they appeared to have been tortured. In most cases the dead men looked as if they had been whipped with a cord, subjected to electric shocks, beaten with a blunt object and shot to death, often with single bullets to their heads."(Free Arab Voice) Eyewitness accounts said that many of the victims had been apprehended by people dressed as police who bore all the hallmarks of the Wolf Brigade.

There's been a steep increase in the number of murders since the elections. "Before March 2003.the morgue handled 200 to 250 suspicious deaths a month, about 16 of which included firearm injuries." Now there are "700 to 800 suspicious deaths a month, with some 500 having firearm wounds." Many of these have been killed execution-style with a single bullet-wound to the head.

Rumsfeld's post-election change in Strategy Read more

Iraq: US brings joy and stability to Sadra City

Mourners carry the coffin of a man who was killed during clashes with U.S. soldiers in Baghdad's Sadr City September 25, 2005. U.S. troops clashed with militia fighters loyal to rebellious Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in northwest Baghdad at around 2 a.m. (2200 GMT) leaving eight militiamen dead and several wounded, police said. The U.S. military said it had no immediate word on U.S. casualties. REUTERS/Kareem Raheem

US moves against Muqtada Sadr militia

latimes: U.S. Troops Said to Clash With Shiite Militiamen in Baghdad

Clashes broke out between U.S. forces and members of an Iraqi militia early today in the northeastern Baghdad slum of Sadr City when American forces sought to detain several militia members, Iraqi authorities said.

Iraqi police said representatives of the militia reported that 10 Iraqis had been killed. A U.S. military spokesman contacted early today had no information on the incident involving Al Mahdi militiamen who are loyal to Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr, a fierce critic of the U.S. Link

Update: 13.35 - BBC Worldservice radio is still reporting that neither the Iraq government or US military is yet letting on who they were seeking to arrest or what their 'crimes' were. It looks like a US effort to build on UK work to ensure Sadr doesn't get too close to the political process. A cynic might even find a completely unwarranted connection between the recent 'Zarqawi' statement supposedly lifting the threat of death from Sadr supporters - and thereby implicating them as Zarqawi allies - which is a fantasy - and the recent re-casting of the 'firebrand cleric' as the leader of a uniquely evil force.

UK - Imperial Majesty in Iraq

Le Monde diplomatique May 2005

Britain: Imperial Nostalgia By Seumas Milne

Barely a generation after the ignominious end of the British empire, there is now a quiet but concerted drive to rehabilitate it, by influential newspapers, conservative academics, and at the highest level of government. Just how successful this campaign has already been was demonstrated in January when Gordon Brown, chancellor of the exchequer and Tony Blair's heir apparent, declared in east Africa that "the days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over" (1). His remark, pointedly made to the Daily Mail - which is leading the rehabilitation chorus - in the run-up to May's general election, was clearly no heat-induced gaffe.

Speaking four months earlier at the British Museum, an Aladdin's cave of looted treasures from Britain's former colonies, Brown insisted: "We should be proud... of the empire" (2). Even Blair, who was prevailed upon to cut a similar line from a speech during his first successful election campaign in 1997, has never gone quite this far (3).

Brown's extraordinary remarks passed with little comment in the rest of the British media. But the significance of a Labour chancellor's support for what would until recently have been regarded as fringe rightwing revisionism was doubtless not lost on his target audience. This is a man who, despite his neoliberal enthusiasms and tense alliance with Blair, has always liked to project a more egalitarian, social democratic image than his New Labour rival. His imperial turn will have given an unwelcome jolt to anyone hoping that a Brown government might step back from the liberal imperialist swagger and wars of intervention that have punctuated Blair's eight-year premiership. By the same token, his determination (in advance of his own expected leadership bid) to wrap himself in the Union Jack - dubbed "the butcher's apron" by the Irish socialist James Connolly - will have impressed sections of the establishment whose embrace he is seeking.

Brown's demand for an end to colonial apologies was part of an attempt to define a modern sense of British identity based around values of fair play, freedom and tolerance. What modernity and such values have to do with the reality of empire might not be immediately obvious. But even more bizarre is the implication that Britain is forever apologising for its empire or the crimes committed under it. As with other European former colonial powers, nothing could be further from the truth. There have been no apologies. Official Britain put decolonisation behind it, in a state of blissful amnesia, without the slightest effort to come to terms with what took place. In the years following the British army's bloody withdrawal from Aden in 1967, there was little public debate about how Britain had maintained its grip on a quarter of the world's population until the middle of the 20th century.

That began to change in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Rehabilitation of empire was initially raised in the early 1990s at the time of the ill-fated United States intervention in Somalia, used by maverick voices in both the US and Britain to float the "idealistic" notion of new colonies or United Nations trusteeships in Africa. The Wall Street Journal even illustrated an editorial on the subject with a picture of the British colonialist Lord Kitchener, who slaughtered the Mahdi's followers in Sudan a century before (4).

Under the impact of the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, the cause of "humanitarian intervention" was increasingly taken up by more liberal voices across the western world. While the liberal imperialism of the late 19th century had been justified by the need to spread Christian civilisation and trade, now it was to be human rights, markets and good governance. At the height of the Kosovo war, Blair issued what amounted to a call for a new wave of worldwide intervention based on a "subtle blend" of self-interest and moral purpose. Within a year, he put this "doctrine of international community" into practice in the former colony of Sierra Leone, where British troops were sent back after a 39-year absence to intervene in a protracted, bloody civil war.

But it was the September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington and the subsequent US-led takeover of the former British imperial zone of Afghanistan that finally outed into the political mainstream the policy that had until then dared not speak its name. By spring 2002 Blair's foreign policy adviser and Afghan envoy, Robert Cooper (now working for Javier Solana at the European Union council of ministers), published a pamphlet making the case for "a new kind of imperialism, one acceptable to a world of human rights and cosmopolitan views" (5), while the prime minister privately argued in favour of military intervention in the former British colonies of Zimbabwe and Burma.

Such political adventurism has had to be at least temporarily reined as a result of the political and human disaster of the Iraq war and occupation. But the more favourable climate for this retro reactionary chic created by western military interventions has been seized by Britain's conservative commentators and historians, such as Niall Ferguson and Andrew Roberts, both to champion the cause of the new imperialism and rewrite the history of the colonial past. Ferguson is an open advocate of a formal US-run global empire and his defence of British colonialism, notably in his book Empire (6), as the forerunner of 21st-century free-market globalisation, was clearly echoed by Brown's praise of the "traders, adventurers and missionaries" who built the empire. Roberts is an open advocate of the recolonisation of Africa and insists that "Africa has never known better times than during British rule". When the South African president recently denounced Churchill and the British empire for its "terrible legacy" in Khartoum, Roberts blithely told the BBC that the empire had brought "freedom and justice" to a benighted world (7).

It would be interesting to hear how Roberts - or Brown - balances such grotesque claims with the latest research on the huge scale of atrocities committed by British forces during the Mau Mau rebellion in colonial Kenya in the 1950s: the 320,000 Kikuyu held in concentration camps, the 1,090 hangings, the terrorisation of villages, electric shocks, beatings and mass rape documented in Caroline Elkins's book Britain's Gulag (8) - and well over 100,000 deaths. This was a time when British soldiers were paid five shillings (equal to $9 in today's money) for each Kikuyu male they killed, when they nailed the limbs of African guerrillas to crossroads posts. And when they were photographed holding severed heads of Malayan communist "terrorists" in another war that cost over 10,000 lives.

Even in the late 1960s, as veterans described in a recent television documentary (9), British soldiers thrashed, tortured and murdered their way through Aden's Crater City; one former squaddie explained that he couldn't go into details because of the risk of war crimes prosecutions. All in the name of civilisation. The sense of continuity with today's Iraq could not be clearer. Read more

About the Author: Seumas Milne is comment editor and a columnist on the Guardian, London, and author of "The Enemy Within - the Secret War Against the Miners" (Verso, London, 2004).

(1) Daily Mail, London, 15 January 2005.
(2) Daily Mail, 14 September 2004.
(3) John Kampfner, Blair's Wars, Free Press, London, 2003.
(4) Wall Street Journal, 8 and 21 January 1993.
(5) Robert Cooper, Reordering the World, Foreign Policy Centre, 2002.
(6) Niall Ferguson, Empire - How Britain Made the Modern World, Allen Lane, London, 2003.
(7) Daily Mail, 8 January 2005
(8) Caroline Elkins, Britain's Gulag, Jonathan Cape, 2005.
(9) Empire Warriors, BBC 2, 19 November 2004.