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

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Al-Sistani said to weigh pullout demand

mercurynews/ap: Iraq's top Shiite cleric is considering demanding a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. and foreign troops after a democratically elected government takes office next year, according to associates of the Iranian-born cleric.

If the Americans and their coalition partners do not comply, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani would use peaceful means such as mass street protests to step up pressure for a pullout schedule, according to two associates of the cleric.

The associates spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media. They are in regular contact with al-Sistani and call routinely on the 76-year-old cleric at his home in the holy city of Najaf south of Baghdad.

The reclusive al-Sistani rarely leaves his home and limits his public comments to religious decrees, or fatwas. He has steadfastly refused to meet with any American officials since the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.

But al-Sistani's influence among the majority Shiite community is vast, and a public call for such a timetable would put enormous pressure on Washington to comply.

On Dec. 15, Iraqi voters will select the country's first full-term parliament since Saddam's ouster. A new government will be formed afterward.

Vali Nasr, an expert on Shiites who lectures on national security affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, Calif., said al-Sistani's intention to call for a withdrawal timetable has been an "open secret" for some time.

"He will not do it in an anti-American way, but in a pro-Iraqi way," Nasr said.

Ahmed S. Hashim, a professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., said a public declaration by al-Sistani "will leave us without any legs to stand on in Iraq." Link

Iraq: Berlusconi kicks Bush in the nuts

seattletimes: Italian leader says he warned U.S. on war

For years, he has been one of President Bush's most loyal supporters in Europe, a leader who steadfastly backed the U.S.-led war in Iraq and one of the few on the continent to send troops to help.

So it came as something of a surprise this weekend when Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi revealed his reservations about the war - on the eve of a visit to Washington, D.C., no less.

"I tried repeatedly to convince the American president not to go to war," Berlusconi told an interviewer with the La7 television channel. "I was never convinced that war was the best system to achieve democracy in a country that had to emerge from a bloody dictatorship. I maintained that military action should be avoided."

The interview will be broadcast Monday, the day the prime minister arrives at the White House, and excerpts were reported Saturday by Italian news agencies.

Facing a tough re-election early next year, Berlusconi might be attempting to distance himself from Bush, who lately has been besieged by an onslaught of crises that have eroded public support. Berlusconi, too, has seen his support sag, in part because of the unpopular war in Iraq as well as worsening economic malaise.

Berlusconi's comments on Iraq also come at a time of speculation that his government had a hand in forging documents that purported to show that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Niger for use in nuclear weapons. The Bush administration cited that claim in building the case for going to war. Read more

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bush doublespeak or worse

"This war will require more sacrifice"
Bush at Bolling Air Force Base

"....our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life."

Bush at NED

Future Iraq-Israel relations called into question

informedcomment: Sadr Joins United Shiite Coalition

In the political arena, Iraq's political parties finalized their coalition lists for the December 15 elections, for which the deadline is today, Friday.

Secular ex-Baathist and old-time CIA asset Iyad Allawi will head a list called "The Centrist Bloc." The Sunni Arab religious parties will run as the Front for Iraqi Concord. The Kurdistan Alliance retained its unity.

Hazem Shaalan, former minister of defense under Allawi, who stands accused of massive fraud and embezzlement, failed to find a perch in any party list.

The huge United Iraqi Alliance list, which groups the major Shiite religious factions as well as some other parties, managed to stay together. Their strategy is to avoid splitting the Shiite vote.

The followers of Muqtada al-Sadr joined the UIA, and were given 30 places in the United Iraqi Alliance list. They insisted as a prerequesite for joining on two things. The first was that they must have parity with the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The second is that there must be not normalization of relations with Israel ("the Zionist entity"). They said that this principle was a red line that could not be crossed under any circumstances. Read more

db: Just think, maybe this time next year they will be having Qods Day celebrations in Iraq - another reason Bush's sponsors are leaving him in droves. The man has fucked it all up.

Friday, October 28, 2005

If you want a vision of the future,imagine
a boot stamping on a human face - forever

George Orwell

Iraq: 'Sacrifice' - the George W Bush doctrine

db: Bush, as usual, went on about 'sacrifice' at the NED recently and picked up the theme again when talking to Air Force spouses in Washington of the 'noble mission' that is US war in Iraq - "Sacrifice is essential to winning war," he said, "and this war will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve." And more sacrifice.

Sacrifice has always been one of Bush's favorite topics - not his own of course, which is too much to hope for - he is usually referencing slaughtered US military personnel. It is not clear if the deaths of innocent Iraqis from the continuing but little reported bombing 'sorties' flown over their towns and villages by coalition aircraft fit into the same category - or is that just plain old murder?

Sacrifice is a very confusing issue for anyone who doesn't share Bush's faith-based confidence in continuing the destruction for the sake of orders apparently received from G.O.D - who directs US foreign policy from on high due to a keen interest in Earth based geo-politics [making G.O.D himself a candidate for war crimes charges - expect some serious 'grandstanding'].

To illustrate the lack of coherence in Bush's talk of sacrifice see some clips below of his NED speech [we love that speech, and will keep referencing it until a better one comes along]:

"....our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life."

In this initial reference to 'sacrifice' innocent individuals are indeed being served up - but by US enemies. He names Daniel Pearl, Nicholas Berg, Margaret Hassan and, confusingly, Theo Van Gogh. Bush implies that this sacrifice is not approved of by G.O.D. - so it is BAD sacrifice.

Of course sacrifice is not usually a negative in Bush's mind - certainly not when he who does the sacrificing has a direct line to G.O.D - whereupon Sacrifice becomes holy and blessed - probably guaranteeing everlasting life to the sacrificed. As he says later at the NED:

"Wars are not won without [B.L.E.S.S.E.D] sacrifices and this war
will require more [B.L.E.S.S.E.D] sacrifice...."

"We don't know the course our own struggle will take,
or the [B.L.E.S.S.E.D] sacrifice that might lie ahead"

"We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our [B.L.E.S.S.E.D] sacrifice"

So we can deduce from Bush's rhetoric that the sacrifice of 'innocent individuals' by the enemy is a bad thing - but sacrifice of innocents when approved by Bush [and consequently by the Great Architect himself] is a thing of transcending beauty and a source of inspiration. It is still not clear though where the sacrificed Iraqis fit in.

For further reading see Wikipedia - Human sacrifice

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Scott Ritter and Seymour Hersh: Iraq Confidential

thenation: In this edited transcript of an October 19 public conversation sponsored by The Nation Institute at the New York Ethical Culture Society, legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh and former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter discuss how the CIA manipulated and sabotaged the work of UN departments to achieve a hidden foreign policy agenda in the Middle East.

MR. HERSH: What I'm going to do is just ask Scott a series of questions. I've read his book a couple of times, and basically we're going to try to have some fun. Consider Scott and I your little orchestra playing on the deck of the Titanic as it goes down, because we're all in grave trouble here. So, Scott, to begin, before we even talk about how we got to where we are, my own personal view is we have two options in Iraq. Option A, we can get all our troops out by midnight tonight, and option B, we can get them all out by tomorrow night at midnight. And so I wonder where you sit on that, what's your view?

MR. RITTER: Well, I view that Iraq is a nation that's on fire. There's a horrific problem that faces not only the people of Iraq but the United States and the entire world. And the fuel that feeds that fire is the presence of American and British troops. This is widely acknowledged by the very generals that are in charge of the military action in Iraq. So the best way to put out the fire is to separate the fuel from the flame. So I'm a big proponent of bringing the troops home as soon as possible.

Today's the best day we're going to have in Iraq. Tomorrow's going to be worse, and the day after that's going to be even worse. But we also have to recognize that one of the reasons why we didn't move to Baghdad in 1991 to take out Saddam was that there was wide recognition that if you get rid of Saddam and you don't have a good idea of what's going to take his place, that Iraq will devolve into chaos and anarchy. Well, we've done just that. We got rid of Saddam, and we have no clue what was going to take his place. And pulling the troops out is only half of the problem.

We also have to deal with three critical issues that have emerged since we invaded:

- A, the Shia, and I'm not talking about the mainstream Shia of Iraq. I'm talking about this political elite that's pro-Iranian that has conducted a coup d'etat. They're running the government today.

- B, the Sunni. We took a secular bulwark against the expansion of radical anti-American Islamic fundamentalism, and we've radicalized them. And if we just pull out and leave the situation as it is, we've turned the Sunni heartland into a festering cesspool of anti-American sentiment. It's the new Afghanistan, the new breeding ground for Al Qaeda.

- C, the one that nobody talks about in the media is the Kurds. We somehow have given the Kurds this false sense that they're going to have an independent homeland, and yet our NATO ally, Turkey, has said this will never happen. And if we allow the Kurds to move forward towards independence, we're compelling the Turks to radical military intervention at a time when Turkey has just been invited to enter into the fifteen-year negotiation with the European Union about becoming a member of the European community. If the Turks move against the Kurds, that negotiation's over which means that Turkey has been rejected by Europe and will be heading towards the embrace of radical anti-American Islam. So it's not just about getting the troops out. We have to recognize that there are three huge ongoing issues in Iraq that affect the national security of the United States, and we need a policy to address these. But keeping our troops in Iraq is not part of that policy.

MR.HERSH: How do you get them out, how quickly?

MR. RITTER: The quicker the better. I mean, I'd leave it up to military professionals to determine how you reduce perimeters. There are some areas of the country where you can just literally up and run. But we have a significant force in place, we have significant infrastructure in place, and we have an active insurgency that would take advantage of any weaknesses. But I guarantee you this, if we went to the insurgents - and I do believe that we're having some sort of interaction with the insurgents today - and said we're getting out of here, all attacks would stop. They'd do everything they can to make sure that the road out of Iraq was as IED-free as possible. Read more

db: have an audio file here [In firefox you may need to manually paste the url into your player]

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bush goes with 'more sacrifice', again

reuters: Bush says Iraq war will require more sacrifice

President George W. Bush, bracing for the fallout when the U.S. military death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000, said on Tuesday the Iraq war will require more time and sacrifice and rejected calls for a U.S. pullout.

"Each loss of life is heartbreaking, and the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace by spreading freedom," Bush said, his voice breaking with emotion as he spoke at a luncheon of military wives at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington.

Bush's remarks were aimed at addressing criticism expected when the U.S. death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000.

"This war will require more sacrifice, more time and more resolve," said Bush. "The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we have ever faced." Read more

db: More sacrifice....for anyone but the prez [oh yes but just think of all that worry on his shoulders - and his voice broke today with emotion dammit].

Gwynne Dyer: Cuba with two presidents?

journalnow: "It wouldn't be outrageous," said Ana Faya of her suspicion that Cuba and Venezuela might unite one of these days. After all, the senior analyst at the Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL) in Ottawa pointed out, the idea of uniting Latin American countries has been around since the revolutions of Bolivar and San Martin against Spain almost two centuries ago. And she certainly knows how Cuban Communists think: For 10 years, until she fled to Canada in 2000, she was an official of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party.

The Cuban regime's biggest problem by far is: Who succeeds Fidel Castro? The official answer is his youngest brother Raul, currently Cuba's vice-president and defense minister, but ideologically committed Cuban Communists still have problems with the idea that political power can be inherited. They also suspect Raul of being soft on capitalism.

Fidel Castro has had a remarkably rapid recovery from a fall last October that broke his arm and shattered his kneecap in eight places, but he will turn 80 next August. He has ruled Cuba for 46 years, but he will soon have to be replaced. If the revolution is to survive, his replacement had better be a man with contemporary revolutionary credentials, a man with the charisma and resources to keep the show on the road. A man, perhaps, like Hugo Chavez. Read more

db: Perhaps the White House might care to get behind this idea - which would be a solid step towards the democratization of Cuba, and democracy is after all a core driver in all that the Leader of The Free World undertakes. Alas, if only it were that simple. The unification of the two countries would not, of course, fit with the Bush doctrine - because newly exposed markets must, as a priority, open themselves up for a good international seeing-to [otherwise there would be no point in democratizing them would there] and Hugo Chavez is already ahead of the game on this score - currently rolling back the trend in Venezuela and benefiting the poor and the needy by so doing. What an absolute bastard. Hence it is unlikely that Hugo will get to rule over this former jewel in the crown of US Mafiosi.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

82% of Iraqis are "strongly opposed" to occupation

bbcnews: Iraqis 'back attacks on troops'

Millions of Iraqis believe attacks against US and UK troops are justified, the leaked results of a poll conducted for the coalition suggest.

The poll shows 45% of Iraqis believe the attacks are justified. And the figure rises to 65% in Maysan, one of the areas where UK forces operate.

The Ministry of Defence says the poll was conducted in August, which was a "particularly bad month".

But the Lib Dems say the results show the need for an Iraq exit strategy.

The poll, conducted by an Iraqi research team, was leaked to the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

The survey suggests:

- 82% of Iraqis are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops

- Less than 1% of the Iraqi population believes coalition troops are responsible for any improvement in the country

- 67% of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation
- 43% of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened

- 72% do not have confidence in the multi-national forces. Read more

db: Sometimes the natives just don't get it. In response to this survey Bush stated 'it's just a snapshot - they were having a bad day' and read the final paragraph of a recent speech to the news cameras:

BUSH: We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice. We do know the love of freedom is the mightiest force of history. And we do know the cause of freedom will once again prevail.

May God bless you.



Saddam trial is 'falling into chaos'

Independent: Saddam trial is falling into chaos, claims barrister after defence lawyer found dead

Defence lawyers in Saddam Hussein's trial are demanding American bodyguards after one of them was kidnapped by gunmen at his office in Baghdad and later found dead.

General Hussein Ali Kamal, a deputy interior minister, said yesterday that measures had been taken to ensure the lawyers' security after the abduction and murder of Saadoun al-Janabi, a Sunni Arab lawyer whose body was found in Baghdad on Friday. Two members of the defence team said that the 12 remaining lawyers had rejected ministry guards.

"We refused because of our lack of trust in the Iraqi security agencies," said one lawyer, Khamees Hamid al-Ubaidi. "Everyone knows there are elements in the Interior Ministry that assassinate Iraqis."

The ministry is partly controlled by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Shia party that has most seats in the National Assembly. Its paramilitary arm, the Badr Brigade, is accused of operating death squads.

Mr Ubaidi said the defence lawyers were seeking American protection, and wanted US officials to carry out the investigation into the murder. Mr Janabi was representing Awad Hamad al-Bandar, a former judge on Saddam's Revolutionary Court, and was the only defence lawyer seen in TV coverage of the opening day of the trial, which was adjourned untilnext month. The only other members of the court to appear on camera were the presiding judge and the chief prosecutor, whose identities were disclosed for the first time.

Abdul-Haq al-Ani, a British-trained Iraqi barrister who says he has been asked by Saddam's daughter Raghad to help co-ordinate the ex-dictator's defence from London, told The Independent on Sunday that the trial had already "fallen into chaos". Mr Ani has approached a leading defence lawyer, Anthony Scrivener QC, and a prominent Northern Ireland solicitor, Des Docherty, to represent Saddam, but said: "After this murder, what foreign lawyer would go to Iraq now? There is absolutely no guarantee of any protection."

On Wednesday Saddam refused to recognise "this so-called court", telling the senior judge: "Neither do I recognise the body that has designated and authorised you." According to international lawyers, this stance meant that he should also have refused to plead, but he did so, saying he was not guilty.

"President Saddam has not been given proper legal advice," said Mr Ani. "Not once has his main lawyer on the spot been able to meet with him in private, and any documents they pass to each other are seized by American soldiers and given to the investigating magistrate to look at."

The defence team in Baghdad will also seek a longer adjournment. "They didn't know what the charge was until it was read in court," said Mr Ani. They are also demanding that the trial be moved away from Baghdad, even outside Iraq, although General Kamal ruled that out yesterday. The interim government has rejected a trial abroad, insisting that Saddam and his regime must be tried by Iraqis in Iraq - in part because an international trial might prevent imposition of the death penalty.

The only charge against Saddam and his fellow defendants relates to the 1982 killing of more than 140 Shia men from the village of Dujail, after a failed assassination attempt against the dictator. The prosecution says Saddam's signature appears on execution warrants.

Iraq's President, Jalal Talabani, suggested during a recent visit to Britain that public opinion would demand that Saddam be tried for other crimes, including the use of poison gas to kill thousands of Kurds in Halabja in 1988 and the Anfal campaign that killed some 180,000 Shias in the late 1980s. But connecting him directly to specific deaths might not be easy, and such charges would enable Saddam to cite his past support by the British and US governments.

"I think they are more likely to execute him after finding him guilty on this one charge," said Mr Ani. "Nobody in Baghdad, London or Washington wants this dirty linen washed in public."

Philippe Sands QC, author of a book challenging the legal basis of the Iraq war, agreed, saying: "They don't want Saddam grandstanding for years about Halabja or the war with Iran. My sense is that they will put him to death for the killing of about 150 Shias in one town." Link

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Saddam Trial: The lone witness

azzaman: The tribunal trying the former leader Saddam Hussein failed to produce what was said to be the only witness to the charges he was being tried for.

The witness, Waddah al-Sheikh, a former intelligence official, said to be dying of cancer, has reportedly agreed to testify in the trial.

Al-Sheikh was working for Mukhabarat, the main intelligence agency, in 1982 when 143 people were killed in Dujial.

If Al-Sheik is the key witness in the trial, how come the tribunal could not have him testify inside the court?

The judges and prosecutors could have had him interviewed before the trial in the presence of defense lawyers and produced the evidence in court.

To suspend the proceedings because the key witness could not appear did not go down well with the millions of Iraqis who were glued to their television screens on Wednesday.

Iraqis have been anxiously waiting for the trial only to find that the tribunal which has been preparing for the event for nearly two years fails to bring along the necessary testimony.

Do we only have one witness for the atrocities of Saddam Hussein and his regime?

There are thousands and thousands of Iraqis who would have rushed to the court and testified without fear against Saddam Hussein.

The proceedings raise more than one question mark. Iraqis wonder why the court insists on trying Saddam only for the Dujail killings at a time the list of his crimes is too numerous to be counted.

Many Iraqis say the killings in Dujail were connected with the members of a party in power currently in Iraq. This is why, they add, the authorities have focused on Dujail.

Saddam Hussein executed thousands of ordinary Iraqis who were members of no political party or faction. It was better for the court to start with these cases at least to do justice for the hapless relatives of these victims.

In this case no one would have attempted even to allege that the proceedings were somewhat politically orchestrated.

The killings in Dujail are a crime and any one involved in them must be tried and punished.

But to only try Saddam for these killings sends the wrong message to the relatives of tens of thousands of other victims.

And now the court itself goes to what it has described as the only witness on Dujail killings.

Al-Sheik will testify from his death bed hospital in seclusion without the glare of media cameras and most probably in the absence of defense lawyers, raising even more questions about the whole trial. Link

Iraq: Family still awaits return of Ken Masters body

belfasttelegraph: Family still await the return of top military cop's body from Iraq

THE family of a top military police investigator from Northern Ireland who was found dead in Iraq are still awaiting the return of his body.

Captain Ken Masters was found dead in his accommodation in Waterloo Lines in the southern Iraq city of Basra last Saturday.

The Ministry of Defence said his death was being investigated but the circumstances are not believed to be suspicious.

Captain Masters lived near Portadown with his wife and two children. They are believed to have moved to Northern Ireland from England a relatively short time ago.

An Army spokesman said that the body has not yet been repatriated and it is not known when the officer's funeral will take place.

Cabelfastptain Masters was the officer in charge of investigating abuse of civilians by British forces in Iraq.

Aged 40, he was Officer Commanding 61 Section, Special Investigation Branch, Royal Military Police.

A MoD statement said: "He had been responsible for the investigation of all in-theatre serious incidents, plus investigations conducted by the General Police Duties element of the Theatre Investigation Group."

He had served with the Royal Military Police since 1981 and was commissioned from the ranks in 2001. He served most of his career with the Special Investigation Branch.

The MoD did not say how Captain Masters died. In total, 97 military personnel have died on duty in Iraq. Link

db: He was the 'blokes in wigs' investigator. Nothing suspicious there then. People who suggest he was 'suicided' by the green slime because of what he might uncover regarding possible British involvment in terrorist activity are just adding two and two together and getting four - when they should be reading the Daily Telegraph to understand the real picture - which is that the 'SAS' guys were on a humanitarian mission in pursuit of 'torturers with drills'. Earlier reports that the 'SAS' operatives had been'painting Basra schools' have proved to be false, but were equally convincing at the time.

Friday, October 21, 2005

What they said in 2004 - '1000 US military deaths in Iraq'

db: Bush and friends have been gearing up for '2000' for some time - and no doubt have a wealth of platitudes and patriotic perversions ready to justify the obliteration of so much US youth.

To guard against any sloppy repetition of last years inspiring soundbites we have a top twenty [or whatever] below - in no particular order - from Bush, Rumsfeld, and the usual suspects.

Note: At Cryptome the number already exceeds 2000 considerably

From CNN

"Going on the offensive against terrorism has it's cost" - Rumsfeld

"Their sacrifices will not be in vain." - Rumsfeld

"We are committed to making the right decision in Iraq and the right decision for them at home, and that is the way we will honor their sacrifice," John Kerry


"We will honor their memories by completing the mission." GW Bush

"The stakes are whether or not...people can simply kill others, innocent people, in order to impose their will.... Colin Powell


"My promise to them is that we will complete the mission so that their child or their husband or wife has not died in vain," GW Bush


"We remember, honor and mourn the loss of all those that made the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom," Scott McClellan

"Tragic milestone" John Kerry


"It should be noted that the civilized world passed the thousandth casualty mark a long time ago,Hundreds were killed in Russia last week. And this week, of course, on September 11, 2004, we remember the 3,000 citizens of dozens of countries who were killed on September 11 in 2001." Rumsfeld


"We're still on the offense here in this country. We're chasing down these killers overseas so we don't have to face them here at home."..... "We're making good progress," Bush

"We knew this would be a difficult time,"...... "We said once the transition to Iraqi leadership took place, the insurgents would come after that leadership and come after us. And we'll have to deal with it and we will deal with it." Colin Powell

"The progress has prompted a backlash, in effect, from those who hope that at some point we might conclude that the pain and the cost of this fight isn't worth it," Rumsfeld

"We must never forget the price they have paid. And we must meet our sacred obligation to all our troops to do all we can to make the right decisions in Iraq so that we can bring them home as soon as possible," John Kerry.

SF Gate

"The next phase will be the run-up to the elections,the insurgents will have to stage an offensive...keyed to influence the U.S. election. That's a no-brainer. We can expect it to continue up to the election." Retired Army Col. Robert Killibrew,

"Americans won't flinch. Our enemies underestimate us" Rumsfeld

"American society has shown a remarkable willingness to sustain casualties...To the extent people have turned against the war, it's because of revulsion against incompetence and defeats" Eliot Cohen - Johns Hopkins University


"We're still on the offensive here in this country. We're chasing down these killers overseas so we don't have to face them here at home." GW Bush

"We mourn every loss of life" GW Bush


"Our enemies have underestimated our country, our coalition ... certainly our commander in chief," Rumsfeld

"The enemy is becoming more sophisticated,this has lead to the recent spike in casualties" Richard Myers


"The real issue is the fact that this enemy we have out there has the capacity to regenerate itself, it's doing so because of the disenfranchisement of a certain number of Muslims, the despair they feel in lack of quality of life improvement, and the sense of nationalism they also feel." Retired Army Gen. John Keane

"When combined with U.S. losses in other theaters in the global war on terror, we have lost well more than a thousand already"

"We certainly honor the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in uniform who has served in Iraq and who is currently serving there." Rumsfeld


"The progress has prompted a backlash, in effect, from those who hope that at some point we might conclude that the pain and the cost of this fight isn't worth it," GW Bush

"Well, our enemies have underestimated our country, our coalition. They have failed to understand the character of our people. And they certainly misread our commander in chief." Rumsfeld

"Today marks a tragic milestone in the war in Iraq. More than one thousand of Americas sons and daughters have made the ultimate sacrifice. Our nation honors their service and joins with their families and loved ones in mourning their loss," John Kerry

Marine Club

As of yesterday there were 806 troops that had been killed in action. The number of 1000 plus includes those who died of non-battle injuries - while in Iraq. Certainly every death is regrettable, but the services have people die, worldwide, virtually every day to some form of accident or illness. LtGen. James T. Conway

db: In memory of all the dead - especially those killed by amoral politicians and terrorists from all camps:

The vanquished know war. They see through the empty jingoism of those who use the abstract words of glory, honor, and patriotism to mask the cries of the wounded, the senseless killing, war profiteering, and chest-pounding grief. They know the lies the victors often do not acknowledge, the lies covered up in stately war memorials and mythic war narratives, filled with stories of courage and comradeship. They know the lies that permeate the thick, self-important memoirs by amoral statesmen who make wars but do not know war. The vanquished know the essence of war - death. They grasp that war is necrophilia. They see that war is a state of almost pure sin with its goals of hatred and destruction. They know how war fosters alienation, leads inevitably to nihilism, and is a turning away from the sanctity and preservation of life. All other narratives about war too easily fall prey to the allure and seductiveness of violence, as well as the attraction of the godlike power that comes with the license to kill with impunity. But the words of the vanquished come later, sometimes long after the war, when grown men and women unpack the suffering they endured as children, what it was like to see their mother or father killed or taken away, or what it was like to lose their homes, their community, their security, and be discarded as human refuse. But by then few listen. The truth about war comes out, but usually too late. We are assured by the war-makers that these stories have no bearing on the glorious violent enterprise the nation is about to inaugurate. And, lapping up the myth of war and its sense of empowerment, we prefer not to look.

- Chris Hedges

How Britain botched the Iran stand-off

asiatimes: As anticipated, the British government officially accused Iran of complicity in the targeting and killing of its troops in southern Iraq. However, the accusations are weak and clumsily constructed, to the point of being silly. The bomb technology that the British refer to is more than 50 years old, has been used in a variety of conflicts around the world, and is also known to have been in the possession of the former Iraqi military intelligence service.

The real concern is that the Blair government is using Iran as a smokescreen for its increasingly desperate plight in Iraq. The British dilemma in Iraq is simple but also intractable: they have devoted significant resources to the conflict, but have only marginal influence on the real decision-making (which is done by the Americans).

Moreover, there is every reason to believe that the United Kingdom is using the excuse of Iranian meddling in Iraq as a subterfuge for its own plans for a long-term intelligence presence in Iraq and as a device for applying further pressure on the Islamic Republic over the nuclear stand-off. Read more

Hamas Slams Bush

albawaba: Hamas has crticized US President George W. Bush for dropping any commitment to a fixed timetable for the creation of a Palestinian state and warned against pressure to disarm "resistance" factions.

Hamas stated Friday that Bush broke his promise during his Thursday's talks with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas at the White House. "Bush said he wanted to see a Palestinian state, but without a timetable," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP in Gaza City. "He went back on his last promise," Abu Zuhri noted.

On Thursday, Bush said he believed his two-state vision was possible but acknowledged he did not know if a Palestinian state would be created by the time he left office in January 2009.

The Hamas spokesman also slammed Bush's call for Abbas to crack down on "armed gangs". "Bush focused on putting pressure on the Palestinian Authority to confront the factions. This is dangerous," Zuhri warned. Link

Send Him To Iraq!

Manchestereveningnews: Prince William to join the army

Prince William is to join the Army after gaining entry to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Clarence House has announced. Link

..and his brother

Note: This is a one off - we dont do Royal story bullshit as a rule

Update: That was a lie - see: Rejoice!
And then there was the 'burning castle' post

Men in suits took slain Saddam trial lawyer-witnesses

reutersalertnet: A defence lawyer in the Saddam Hussein trial was dragged from his office by men who identified themselves as Interior Ministry employees before he was found shot dead, witnesses said on Friday.

The bullet-riddled body of Saadoun Janabi, an old friend of the former Iraqi dictator, was found about an hour after his abduction on Thursday night, police said.

Witnesses interviewed near Janabi's small Baghdad office said gunmen burst into the building on Thursday, about two hours after the breaking of the daytime fast which marks the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"We tried to help him but the gunmen told us to get away. They said they were from the Interior Ministry," said Mohammed Ibrahim, who works in the area.

Several witnesses said more than a dozen heavily armed men in suits and ties entered Janabi's office around 8 p.m. (1700 GMT) and dragged him into a car in the rundown Shaab district of Baghdad.

The witness accounts could not be independently verified, while an Interior Ministry spokesman said he had no information on the attack.

The ministry has repeatedly denied allegations from minority groups including some Sunni Arabs that it sanctions Shi'ite militia hit squads.

A senior government official strongly denied any involvement in the murder and said it stood ready to increase already tight security for the trial.

"Those suggestions are ridiculous and baseless. The government does not condone attacks against minorities and former figures in Saddam's Baath Party," national security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie told Reuters.

The government spokesman and senior diplomats in Baghdad have conceded, however, that there have been problems with armed, pro-government groups acting as vigilantes against minorities.


Witnesses said the abduction was fast and efficient.

"They hit him over the head with their rifle butts," said Qusay Kamel, another witness, who works in a furniture shop beside Janabi's office building. "He didn't say anything."

Janabi was representing Awad al-Bander, a former top Iraqi judge who appeared in court with Saddam and six other men on Wednesday at the start of their trial on charges stemming from the killing of more than 140 Shi'ite men in the 1980s.

The bloody end of Janabi's professional career, which included a job in the Interior Ministry before Saddam became president, came one day after he stood up in court and complained the government was driving the trial. Read more

db: The prosecution gets security, the judges get security but, surprise, the defense team gets none. And don't expect this event to delay or derail the gallows train, because it wont.

If this can happen to a lawyer for the defense - what chance have the defense witnesses got?

Britain is a keen supporter of CIA torture flights

sundayherald: Torture Flights: The Inside Story

They could be walking the streets of Sweden, Italy, Albania, Indonesia or Pakistan. They are kidnapped in broad daylight, hooded, drugged, shackled and placed on a jet operated by the CIA. When they wake they find themselves in a country such as Morocco, Egypt or Uzbekistan - where torture is the currency of the interrogation room. The CIA hand the captive to the local secret police, and the prisoner disappears off the face of the Earth. If they are lucky, they will emerge a few years later in a cage in Guantanamo Bay, broken by beatings, rape and electrocution... if they are unlucky, they are never seen again.

America's "extraordinary rendition" programme targets suspected Islamic terrorists, captures and delivers them to US-friendly nations which are quite happy to use torture to get the information the US wants for the war on terror.

The programme is reviled by human rights groups around the world, but the UK is a keen supporter. Since 9/11, the CIA's 33-strong fleet of planes, which is used to fly its human cargo of alleged terrorist captives around the globe, has stopped off for refuelling and other logistical support at UK airports on no less than 210 occasions.

Nearly 20 British airports have been used, with Prestwick and Glasgow the favoured destinations. Prestwick has received 75 CIA rendition flights and Glasgow 74. Other airports used include Luton, Heathrow, Gatwick and Belfast.

Other countries aren't as co-operative. Italy has issued arrest warrants for 19 CIA agents who kidnapped a muslim cleric in Milan in 2003 and took him to Egypt, and Sweden is outraged at kidnappings in its jurisdiction.

The UN is investigating how renditions, and other tactics in the war on terror, breach international human rights legislation. President George Bush says renditions are entirely legal and that rendered suspects are not tortured, despite the fact that his own State Department says Uzbekistan, Egypt and Morocco are among countries that routinely abuse human rights and use torture. Link

One victim's story

These two men are experts on rendition: one invented it, the other has seen its full horrors

Press Freedom: More of it in Chinese Hong Kong than USA

db: Reporters Without Borders has issued the 2005 Press Freedom Index. Hong Kong, at 39th in the list, now ranks 5 positions higher than the USA at 44th [stop that giggling at the back].

Lets hear it for Slovakia

Slovakia on the other hand has put in place robust and credible press freedoms since its days of Soviet domination and now ranks higher than any other former communist European country at 8th place - and that is 16 places higher than the UK which came in at 24th, which isn't isn't all that bad for a secretive Kingdom ruled by a cabal of war criminals, liars, and neocons.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Guantanamo hunger strikers - 'feeding tubes employed as torture'

cnews/ap: Prisoners on hunger strike at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reported troops force-fed them with dirty feeding tubes that have been violently inserted and withdrawn as punishment, said declassified notes released Wednesday by defence lawyers.

The repeated removal and insertion of the tubes has caused striking prisoners to vomit blood and experience intense pain they have equated with torture, the lawyers reported to a U.S. federal judge after visiting their clients at the base in eastern Cuba.

Prisoners said they were taunted by troops who said the treatment was intended to persuade them to end the hunger strike that began Aug. 9, the lawyers wrote in affidavits filed as part of a lawsuit in federal court in Washington seeking greater access to prisoners at the high-security jail for terror suspects.

Lt.-Col. Jeremy Martin, a military spokesman for the Guantanamo detention centre, said all detainees in the hunger strike are closely monitored by medical personnel and mistreatment is not tolerated, though he did not know the specific procedures for handling the feeding tubes.

"Detainees...are treated humanely," Martin said.

"Claims to the contrary are wholly inaccurate and blatantly misrepresent the excellent work being done here by honourable military and civilian professionals."

Guantanamo officials have said this latest hunger strike began with 76 detainees protesting against their confinement. Defence lawyers have cited other reasons as well, including complaints about food and water, alleged abuse by guards and interrogators and their desire to either face trial or be released.

Yousef al Shehri, 21, of Saudi Arabia, told his lawyers guards removed a nasal feeding tube from one prisoner and reinserted it into another without cleaning it first.

"These large tubes...were viewed by the detainees as objects of torture," lawyer Julia Tarver, whose firm represents 10 Saudi detainees, said in an affidavit.

"They were forcibly shoved up the detainees' noses and down into their stomachs." Read more

Iraq: Saddam will not be able to reveal US accomplices

theherald: Letters

BBC Radio Scotland asked me, on Wednesday, to take part in a discussion on Saddam's trial: would it be fair and should he be executed were the questions. Almost an oxymoron.
Given that the US has picked the judges and determined the terms of reference of the proceedings, it will fall somewhat short of fairness, at least in the sense of allowing the accused to reveal who his accomplices were (the CIA), who brought him to power (the CIA) and who supplied his weaponry (yes, you got it). The Human Rights Watch report on US army torture in Iraq has recently stated that "in a way it was sport". The trial is designed along the same Wayne Rooneyesque lines. Keep the world's attention away from Halabja (and the period 1975-90) by focusing on Dubjail. A bit like charging Al Capone with tax evasion. Meanwhile, justify the illegal war by telling us that Saddam was a bad man.
Ironically, when I lived under Saddam's gentle tutelage for several years in the 1980s I worked closely with two American lawyers, Harvard graduates both - they were developing Iraqi planning laws while I focused on demographics and water resources. Saddam was our friend then, a bulwark against Shia fundamentalism. Millions of Iraqi dead later, Shia fundamentalism is on the cusp of realisation in Iraq amid a civil war. Bring on balkanisation. Funny old thing, war.
As one of the few westerners there at the time I recall clearly the day that Rumsfeld blew into Baghdad to stroke Saddam's inflated ego. I also recall Mitlah Ridge (1991) where tens of thousands of Iraqis (Shia conscripts) were buried while still alive. I remember Amiriyah (1991) where hundreds of women and children were encrusted on to the walls of their shelter trying to avoid a "clean" missile. I often think of the million Iraqi children murdered by sanctions, their flesh minced by British cluster bombs while they frolicked among the depleted uranium.
Then it was Operation Desert Fox (1998), when our Tony got in on the act to take the pressure off Clinton and Monica's stained dress. Ten thousand Iraqis perished then in the release of the highest level of ordnance since the Second World War. And so on through Shock and Awe as 100,000 Iraqis cowered in their homes before they shuffled off, or, rather, had their mortal coils blown away. "Git Saddam" has been used to justify the murder of millions. It continues as a casus belli.
When they have dispatched the madman before he can finger his erstwhile pals in the US and here, I really do hope that our young war criminal and his friend in the Oval Office can be held in Abu Ghraib - it's just outside the Green Zone and can be accessed in half an hour - with the jailers picked by Rumsfeld, and before facing a new set of judges with a Sunni on the panel. I'd be quite happy to have my two Harvard friends from all these years ago, Sam Shearer and Dave Peterson, people who actually understand Iraq, perform that function.

Chris Walker, 21/23 Main Street, West Kilbride Link

db: If all else fails you may have noticed the twenty minute delay to ensure there is no mention - or broadcast - of the 'C' word

Iraq: Pentagon 'fraud watch' team left a year ago

csm: Pentagon agency charged with fraud watch left Iraq 'a year ago'

The Pentagon agency in charge of investigating abuse and fraud in the spending of Department of Defense funds in Iraq actually "quietly left" the country a year ago. The Knight Ridder Washington Bureau reports that both government and public experts say this decision has left large gaps in "the oversight of how more than $140 billion is being spent." Read more

Afghanistan: Centcom condemns getting found out

db: Centcom would really like to avoid any unpleasantness arising from the actions of a few members of 'the greatest fighting force the world has ever known'. They are not into desecration as an organisation. Illegal War - YES, Murder - YES, Torture - YES, Bombing civilians - YES, Misc. other War Crimes - YES, Desecration NO [..or at least getting found out]

You are criminals and for balance.........



MacDill AFB, FL -- Recent media reports out of Afghanistan have alleged that U.S. forces were involved in an incident involving the desecration of the bodies of deceased enemy combatants.

Under no circumstances does U.S. Central Command condone the desecration, abuse or inappropriate treatment of enemy combatants. Such actions are contrary to U.S. policy as well as the Geneva Convention.

The Army Criminal Investigation Division has initiated an investigation into the alleged misconduct. Should that investigation uncover actions by U.S. personnel that were contrary to the Geneva Convention and U.S. policy, legal and disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with the U.S. Code of Military Justice.


See earlier post: US soldiers Burnt dead Taliban fighters 'to taunt opponents'

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Iraq: A disastrous constitution

IHT: The usually bustling streets of this city looked sad and empty last Saturday, other than the occasional herd of people on their way to the voting stations. The children - I never knew there were so many youngsters in Baghdad - oblivious to the event of the day, took to the streets, affirming their newly found democracy by playing soccer.

I knew for sure, alas, that this constitution would not unify the country. My mother once told me - I was 10 at the time - that her father, one of the founders of modern Iraq, had lamented how important, yet impossible, it was to even dream about unifying the national attire, let alone our country's hearts.

It is extremely unfortunate that so many people were led to believe that the Iraqi constitution would be a panacea. This document, which early returns indicate is likely to be approved by voters, is nothing more or less than a time bomb.

Why have so many Sunnis so adamantly opposed it? The answer is easy: it would likely divide Iraq into as many as 18 small feuding states. In case after case, provincial regulations would overrule federal laws when there is a dispute. The Iraqi Army would not even have the right to enter a state without the approval of that state's parliament.

Anyone who thinks that such a constitution would calm the insurgency has probably been spending more time than he should have reading about Alice in Wonderland.

I believe that should the constitution pass, the next few weeks will see an escalation of the unnecessary violence that has ripped my country apart. Unnecessary, because the ordinary citizen has no political agenda, and has found himself amid a war he neither understands nor cares about - a war waged by foreigners who could not care less about Iraq or Iraqis.

The constitution was written with the interest of only one group in mind: the Kurds. The Shiites seem to think they can shape the country to their wishes if they can appease the Kurds and gain their cooperation.But the Kurds have their own plan: their ultimate goal is to form an independent state of Kurdistan, with or without Iraq's help. Even now a "greater Kurdistan," which would absorb Kurdish areas of neighboring countries, is in the cooking. Read more - image problem?

db: cumulus.centcom searches for blogs that reference war crimes film.

US soldiers Burnt dead Taliban fighters 'to taunt opponents'

fairfaxdigital: Film rolls as troops burn dead

US soldiers in Afghanistan burnt the bodies of dead Taliban and taunted their opponents about the corpses, in an act deeply offensive to Muslims and in breach of the Geneva conventions.

An investigation by SBS's Dateline program, to be aired tonight, filmed the burning of the bodies.

It also filmed a US Army psychological operations unit broadcasting a message boasting of the burnt corpses into a village believed to be harbouring Taliban.

According to an SBS translation of the message, delivered in the local language, the soldiers accused Taliban fighters near Kandahar of being "cowardly dogs". "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burnt. You are too scared to retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be," the message reportedly said.

"You attack and run away like women. You call yourself Taliban but you are a disgrace to the Muslim religion, and you bring shame upon your family. Come and fight like men instead of the cowardly dogs you are." Read more

Transcript of Dateline program

Iraq: Spanish judge accuses US of 'null cooperation' - issues warrant

typicallyspanish: Spain's National Court, and judge Santiago Pedraz, has today issued an International Detention Order against the three United States soldiers whom it considers allegedly responsible for the death of the Tele5 cameraman, Jose Couso, when a United States tank opened fire on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, in April 2003, where all the international journalists are being held. The judge said he had taken the decision in the light of what he called the 'null cooperation on the part of the United States'. The soldiers concerned are Sergeant Thomas Gibson, Capitan Philip Wolford, and Lieutenant Colonel Philip de Camp. It was Gibson who has admitted opening fire on the hotel from his tank, [db emphasis] after seeing someone using binoculars from the hotel. In declarations broadcast a month after the attack, he said that he did not open fire immediately, but had called his superiors and told them what he had seen. 'Ten minutes later they told me to open fire, and I did', he said
In practice the United States is not in the habit of extraditing any of its citizens, and does not have an extradition treaty with Spain in any case, but the order does mean that should any of the three men leave the country they risk arrest and being sent to Spain for trial.
Javier Couso, brother of the dead Spanish cameraman said this afternoon that he was 'absolutely happy' with the court's decision. Link

Iraq: Calls for speedy release of Guardian's Rory Carroll

IOL: Irish and British politicians tonight called for the speedy release of Dublin journalist Rory Carroll who is believed to have been kidnapped while reporting for The Guardian newspaper in Baghdad.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern spoke to Irish embassy officials in Tehran and Cairo and is also liaising with the British Foreign Office.

The minister's spokesman added: "Mr Ahern is being briefed on a minute-by-minute basis and closely monitoring the unfolding situation."

Earlier, Mr Ahern spoke by telephone to Carroll's father, Joe, and to senior editors at The Guardian newspaper.

A year ago, Mr Ahern personally intervened in the kidnap of Ken Bigley when he issued an Irish passport to convince his captors of his Irish citizenship.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said the British government would assist in any way it could, if asked, to help free the Dublin-born journalist.

"We will do whatever the Irish Government asks us to do, because of course he is an Irish citizen," Mr Hain said. Read more

Ramadi Deaths: It's OK, there are 'review mechanisms in place'

knnews: US disputes Iraqi civilian death reports

The US military will look into whether American warplanes and helicopter gunships killed civilians during a raid on suspected militants near the western Iraqi city of Ramadi, the White House said. Asked for President George W Bush's reaction to the deaths on Sunday of about 20 civilians, including children, spokesman Scott McClellan disputed the reports.

"The military has said otherwise at this point," he said. "The military has review mechanisms in place, and when there are questions raised they look into those matters and so that's something that, obviously, they will look into." US forces killed about 70 people near Ramadi on Sunday.

Local police said about 20 of those who died in the strikes were civilians, including some children who had gathered around the wreckage of an American military vehicle. The US military said on Monday it believed all those hit were "terrorists". A US military statement said at least 20 suspected militants were killed when an F-15 aircraft bombed a group of men burying a roadside bomb.

Fifty other militants were killed in a series of separate strikes, the statement added, saying military commanders had no indications of any US or civilian casualties in the operation. At the Pentagon, spokesman Bryan Whitman said in response to questions from reporters that "we have no indications that the allegations of civilian casualties is accurate". Verifying reports He said US commanders on the ground were checking again with troops on the scene to verify there were no civilians in the area.

Mr Whitman said wreckage had been cleared away from a previous insurgent attack and that "a truck with a number of insurgents returned to that place and were in the process of implanting another IED (improvised explosive device) into the same location." "That is when the (US) commander called for that airstrike," he said. "Airstrikes are used when the tactical situation dictates. And what we do is target only enemy combatants. Every attempt is made to limit any collateral damage or injury or death to civilians."

Mr McClellan told reporters, "Our military goes out of the way to target the enemy and to bring to justice the terrorists and those who are seeking to prevent democracy from taking hold through violent means." "You're assuming things that people have different recollections about right now or have characterised very differently," he said. "Now, in terms of any innocent people being killed, we mourn the loss of any innocent life that is lost." Link

Iraq: US/UK say Al-Jaafari 'ineffective' Sunnis say 'trustworthy'

theage: US, Britain lose faith in 'ineffective' leader

The US and Britain have lost confidence in Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and are hoping that December's elections will bring a new and more efficient government.

According to US and British officials, even members of the Iraqi cabinet are dismissive of Dr Jaafari, a former doctor who lived in exile in Britain and Iran, and do not expect him to survive in the job.

"I wish January were here now. This Prime Minister is not a natural strong leader," one US official said recently. A British source concurred: "The transitional Government is ineffective." Read more

azzaman: Arab Sunnis trust PM

Most of the estranged Arab Sunnis, the source of anti-U.S. resistance, have faith in Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a study has found.

Jaafari, a Shiite and leader of the Daawa Party, came to power following the general elections held last January.

The study is the first to assess the popularity of the Prime Minister among Sunni-dominated cities in the western and northern parts of the country.

The group carrying out the investigation said that 75% of the 1437 respondents found Jaafari easy to deal with, "decent and trustworthy." Read more

db: Of course the US/UK would rather have a 'Saddam Lite' figure in place such as the 'former' CIA asset Iyad Allawi.

British reject career in Army seen as 'guilty by association'

Guardian: War in Iraq putting off recruits, says army

The army is facing a recruitment crisis triggered partly by its operations in Iraq, senior officers admitted yesterday. They are so concerned they are launching the first campaign in 10 years to attract young officers. "We are beginning to see the warning signs," one officer who asked not to be named said. "Once you start tipping off over the cliff, it is difficult to stop."

The shortfall in the total number of soldiers has risen by more than 300% this year to more than 2,000, according to the latest Ministry of Defence figures. Though figures do not yet show a shortage in the number of officers, they reveal that more are leaving the army early.

Army chiefs are concerned at the failure to get recruits from a variety of backgrounds. They hope the 2m pound campaign will generate up to 40,000 inquiries to fill the 2,000 places available for regular and Territorial Army officers each year.

Brigadier Andrew Jackson, commander of the Army Recruiting Group, told the Guardian: "We cannot pretend Iraq isn't a factor. It is reasonable to assume that the officer community might have thought more deeply about the wider implications of the army's role in Iraq."

The situation is more worrying, he said, given demographic trends over the next 10 years and increased competition from the private sector. The starting salary for an officer after training is 26,280 pounds.

Evidence is emerging of growing concern among army and RAF officers over the pressures they are under in Iraq. Last weekend, Captain Ken Masters, a military police officer investigating serious allegations involving British soldiers, was found dead. At the same time, it emerged that Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, a medical officer based at Kinross in Scotland, faced four charges of "disobeying a lawful command" for refusing to serve on operations in Iraq on the grounds that he believed the war was unlawful.

General Sir Michael Walker, the chief of defence staff, recently conceded that the army's ability to attract recruits was suffering because people saw the armed forces as "guilty by association" with Tony Blair's decision to invade Iraq. Read more

Britain sued for 'complicity' in torture

sundayherald: One of the world's leading human rights lawyers is to sue Britain for its "complicity" in the torture of terror suspects who have never been convicted of a crime.

The news comes as a former leading British diplomat has accused the government of basing its anti-terror policies on information from torture victims that was "bollocks".

And the former American spy chief who devised a controversial scheme for snatching terror suspects and imprisoning them has criticised its use as a means of delivering them to US-friendly countries for torture.

The developments all focus on !"extraordinary rendition flights", which take terror suspects abducted by the US from all over the world to countries such as Egypt, Morocco and Uzbekistan, where they are tortured.

In one case, Benyam Mohammed al-Habashi - a British resident from Ethiopia - was captured in Pakistan. He claims he was visited in prison by two MI6 officers after he was tortured by Pakistani interrogators, who told him that he was going to be sent to an undisclosed Arab nation for more torture.

Later, Habashi was flown to Morocco on one of the CIA's fleet of Gulfstream jets used in renditions. There he says he was subjected to appalling abuse, the worst of which involved his interrogators cutting his private parts with a scalpel.

While in Morocco, he claims his torturers made it clear that they were working with British intelligence as part of his interrogation. The British supplied information to the Moroccan interrogators which was used to question Habashi.

Habashi's lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, OBE, who is acclaimed in both the USA and UK for his human rights work, is now to sue Britain for breaching the Convention on Torture. Stafford Smith said: "The UK was complicit in this process. What happened to Benyam was morally wrong and stupid. People will say anything when you take a razor blade to their genitals."

Habashi is now imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. During his interrogation he was forced to admit to plotting to "dirty bomb" the USA, and to being al-Qaeda's "ideas man". Before his arrest, he was a teenager in London with a drug problem who couldn't even speak Arabic. Stafford Smith added: "The US government used false information, that stemmed from the point of a razor blade, to scare the whole world."

Habashi's sister, Zuhra, who lives in Washington DC said: "I didn't expect this of the UK government. Britain isn't a third-world nation. It is shocking. It shows that there is no respect for human rights anywhere in the world. Britain assisted with my brother's torture. They knew what was happening."

The UK allows British airports to be used for refuelling by the CIA's fleet of planes, which ferry captives around the globe. Glasgow and Prestwick airports are the two most favoured CIA stop-overs. Link

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ramadi civilian deaths - 'cowardly action' - Iraq official

IRIN: Women and children killed in US air strikes on Ramadi, doctor says

Two days of US air attacks against insurgents in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi have caused heavy casualties among the city's civilian population, a doctor and a senior Iraqi government official in Ramadi said.

"We have received the bodies of 38 people in our hospital and among them were four children and five women," Ahmed al-Kubaissy, a senior doctor at Ramadi hospital, said on Monday night. "The relatives said they had been killed by air attacks in their homes and in the street."

Al-Kubaissy said his hospital had also treated 42 people injured in the air strikes on Ramadi, a stronghold of the Islamist insurgents, 110 km west of Baghdad.

A senior Iraqi government official in the city, said three houses had been totally destroyed in the air attacks on Sunday and Monday and 14 dead civilians had been found inside them. A further 12 civilians had been critically injured in the same air strikes, he added.

[db emphasis]
"I wish I could tell you everything I know, but I cannot," said the angry official, who asked that his name be withheld for security reasons.

"What I can say is that it was a cowardly action and that if any insurgents have been killed, many more civilians have been buried with them over the past two days."

The US armed forces said in a statement that jet bombers and helicopter gunships had killed about 70 suspected militants in the attacks on Ramadi, a stronghold of Iraq's Sunni Arab community, which is bitterly opposed to the US-led military occupation of the country.

A US military spokesman played down independent reports of heavy civilian casualties in the air raids, but did not deny them outright.

"There are no civilian casualties that we are aware of," Lt Col Steven Boylan, a spokesman for the US-led Coalition forces in Iraq, told IRIN on Tuesday. Read more

Iraqi election officials to investigate possible voting irregularities

mercurynews: Iraq's electoral commission said Monday that it would delay announcing the results of the nation's constitutional referendum because of possible voting irregularities.

In at least six provinces, the turnout to vote on the measure appears to have topped 95 percent, said Izzadin al Mohammadi, a senior commission official.

"We have seen statements coming from most governorates indicating ... high numbers that require us to recheck, compare and audit them, as they are unusually high according to international standards," the commission said in a statement Monday evening.

Asked about the political ramifications of possible fraudulent voting in a referendum held up by the Bush administration as a large step toward democracy, Mohammadi stressed that the audit "is not because we're concerned about fraud. It is a random check done on certain provinces and polling stations."

The audit announcement came amid allegations by the nation's Sunni minority, some 20 percent of Iraq's population, that the voting was marred by fraud. While it appears that Sunni voters mustered a two-thirds vote against the constitution in two provinces - Anbar and Salahuddin - they couldn't do so in a third, the requisite number for defeating the document.

Much of the attention has focused on Ninevah province, home to Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and the site of some of the most serious polling infractions during national elections in January.

If there was ballot-box stuffing in Ninevah that affected the outcome of the swing province's vote for or against the constitution, it could create a politically explosive situation in a nation already teeming with sectarian strife. The questions come during a very tenuous time for Sunnis as the trial of former Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein is slated to begin Wednesday.

"If it's proven that there was fraud in Ninevah or any other place it would affect the entire Iraqi political process and the credibility of democracy in Iraq," said Naseer al-Ani, a senior official in the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni group that at the last minute, to the consternation of other Sunnis, backed the constitution.

The news of the voting audit came on a day when there were still further reminders of the guerrilla war that's rocked the nation for more than two years. U.S. Marines said Monday that they killed some 70 insurgents on Sunday in several battles across the insurgent hotbed of Anbar. The battles included F-15 fighter jet bombing runs, a barrage of fire from a Cobra attack helicopter and a complex insurgent attack on the government center in the city of Ramadi, which resulted in a F-18 missile strike being called in.

Election officials said early results indicated that at least 66 percent of registered voters in Ninevah participated. It wasn't clear, though, if that turnout represented a heavy Sunni presence, or an all-out push in the Kurdish sections of Mosul and the Kurdish villages to the north.

Many Sunnis suspect that Ninevah's Kurdish leadership, heavily in favor of the constitution, may have used their men in Iraqi security forces to cheat.

"It's a fraud; it was a rigged election," Fakhri al-Qaisi, an official with the influential Sunni political group the National Dialogue Council, said in remarks echoed by several Sunni leaders.

Election officials acknowledged after January's elections that militia members in Ninevah - they didn't say from which political party - took ballots and ballot boxes from polling centers and returned them stuffed to the brim.

"Sometimes they were wearing (Iraqi) national guard" uniforms, Fareed Ayar, the commission spokesman, said at the time. Link

British investigator in Basra 'hanged himself'

mirror: Suicide of Army Cop

British Army investigator Captain Ken Masters hanged himself in his quarters in Iraq, it was revealed last night.

Masters, 40, who oversaw all major investigations into the abuse of Iraqis by British troops, was due to go home within the next two weeks.

The Royal Military Police officer had one of the most stressful jobs in the forces.

But senior military sources and colleagues in Basra last night said Masters' death had been a "devastating surprise".

One officer said: "It is hard to believe he found it hard to cope with work. It is possible he had personal problems."

Another added: "For someone that respected within the forces to apparently commit suicide is a big blow to morale." Link

AOL refutes THAT Homeland Security story as 'complete hoax'

db: We ran a story from FMNN on Sunday which we titled 'US Homeland Security and the AO Hell partnership' - not a bad headline we thought. However, notwithstanding the quality of the headline it appears we - and FMNN - were hoaxed [given that the FMNN story has been removed our confidence in its authenticity is not high]. See comments from Andrew Weinstein [thanks Andrew] of AO Hell below:

That story is a complete hoax. To our knowledge, the Department of Commerce has issued no such report, the media outlet credited for the article (The Financial Reporter) does not appear to exist, nor does the reporter who supposedly wrote it.

More important, the claims in the mythical "report" are totally false. AOL's privacy policy, a part of our contract with members, requires that we keep member communications confidential except in response to a valid "legal process (for example, a court order, search warrant or subpoena)". We do not provide "unlimited surveillance" or "free and unfettered access" to member information to DHS or any other government agencies.

Andrew Weinstein
America Online, Inc.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Revealed: Blair's nuclear bombshell

independent: Tony Blair is facing a political backlash over his decision to order a new generation of nuclear weapons to replace the ageing Trident fleet at a cost of billions of pounds.

Rebel Labour MPs will meet tomorrow to coordinate their fight against his plans, which seem set to provoke one of the biggest shows of opposition to Mr Blair from inside his own party since the start of the Iraq war.

Opposition to an updated version of Trident goes far beyond MPs who object to nuclear weapons on principle. It includes senior figures in the military, who question whether this is the best way to spend a tight military budget.

A senior defence department source told The Independent that there was "a serious debate" going on "at all levels" over the long-term role of the armed forces and whether a nuclear deterrent was still needed. The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, is believed to have privately queried the huge cost.

An indication of the sums involved was revealed last week when the Defence Secretary, John Reid, released updated figures showing that Britain's nuclear bomb factory at Aldermaston has been given a £2bn budget for the next three years.

The cost of running the Atomic Weapons Establishment has averaged £300m a year, at current prices, since 2000. Next year's costs will jump to £507m, rising still higher to about £1.5bn over the next two years.

Officially, the task of Aldermaston's scientists is to ensure that the Trident fleet is kept in working order. Their real task, according to military sources, is to make sure that the scientific know-how is in place to create a whole new generation of nuclear weapons as soon as a political decision has been made.

The Independent revealed in May that Mr Blair had decided to go ahead with a replacement for Trident, at a total cost likely to exceed £10bn, but that he was delaying the announcement until after the general election.

In June, the Prime Minister announced that he wanted to "listen" to the views of MPs before making a final decision. However, both he and Mr Reid have pointedly avoiding saying that MPs will be given an opportunity to vote on the nuclear issue.

The "listening exercise" promised by Mr Blair began at the end of last week when Mr Reid's parliamentary private secretary, Siobhain McDonagh, sent an e-mail to all Labour MPs inviting anyone concerned about nuclear weapons to meet the Defence Secretary in groups of six at a time.

Although Trident's life could be extended for another 20 years, a decision on whether to replace it has to be made much sooner, because of the long "lead-in" time needed to develop and test new weapons.

Mr Blair is thought to be determined to have the matter settled before he leaves 10 Downing Street. He believes that Britain owes it to the US to remain a member of the nuclear club. Read more

Read Tony Benn on Trident - Bush is the real threat: "I fear that if a US attack does take place [on Iran], the prime minister will give it his full support. And one of his reasons for doing so will be the same as in Iraq: namely the fear that, if he alienates Bush, Britain's so-called independent deterrent might be taken away. For, as I also learned when I was energy secretary, Britain is entirely dependent on the US for the supply of our Trident warheads and associated technology. They cannot even be targeted unless the US switches on its global satellite system."

Torture victims petition UK government

British victims of torture have called on the Government to ensure that information extracted by abuse of prisoners is not used in UK courts.

Les Walker and Bill Sampson joined leaders of human rights organisations outside the Houses of Parliament to sign a petition urging the Government to end complicity in torture.

The protest came as Law Lords began deliberations inside Parliament on whether evidence obtained by torture abroad can be used in immigration cases in the UK.

Human rights groups and lawyers are challenging a 2004 Appeal Court ruling that the Home Office is entitled to use such information to back up its claims that individuals pose a threat to national security, so long as British agents were not involved in carrying out or soliciting the torture.

Speaking outside Parliament, Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: "This is a momentous case. The UK is at an important crossroads. It can reaffirm its stand against torture, which is absolutely banned, or slide towards illegality by its tacit acceptance that torture is sometimes OK.

"Failing to rule out the use of any torture evidence in UK proceedings would give a green light to torturers the world over.

"Rather than leading the way in the fight against this vile practice, the UK would legitimise the actions of torturers and provide a cloak of legality for their abhorrent and unlawful practice."

Dr Sampson, 46, who has dual British and Canadian nationality and lives in Penrith, Cumbria, said that he suffered beatings, sleep deprivation and sexual molestation during 964 days in solitary confinement in Saudi Arabia after being arrested on trumped-up charges of terrorism and spying.

He said his experience showed that evidence obtained by torture was counter-productive.

"After so many days of that type of brutality, you will say whatever it takes to stop the pain," he said.

"From the questions your interrogators are asking you, you can gather what it is that they want to hear and you will tell them it.

"Torture results in false confessions and the intelligence information you get from it is contaminated and useless.

"Any intelligence professional who acts on this information is not doing his job properly, because he is diverting time and resources away from effective means of intelligence gathering."

Mr Walker, 59, from Neston, Cheshire, said he cracked after being told by Saudi interrogators that his wife would be brought into a neighbouring cell so he could hear her being abused.

He said he was appalled that the British authorities were willing to use evidence apparently obtained by torture to back up their case for the deportation of 10 men who were held without charge following the September 11 attacks in the US.

"They are going back to the Inquisition," he said. "If they allow this, then they are condoning torture.

"I want them to say firmly that torture is wrong and that they will not accept any evidence in any court case that is obtained under torture, but will instead put the torturers in the dock."

Both Dr Sampson and Mr Walker received Saudi royal clemency and were released in 2003, but neither has had his conviction overturned.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights group Liberty, said: "Torture is unreliable. Torture is wrong.

"If we are complicit in any way in torture around the world, what will we say to the terrorists who tortured Ken Bigley? What will we say to dictators like Saddam Hussein?

"This is the one absolute in democracy, that you do not touch torture."

Carla Ferstman, director of torture survivors' organisation Redress, said: "Admitting torture evidence is a slap in the face to the thousands of torture survivors that live in the UK.

"This is part of a spiralling counter-terrorism policy which is quickly eroding this most basic of civil liberties." Link

Iraq: 'Take them out' - April 2004

counterpunch: Last April [2004], an F-16 fighter jet cruising over Fallujah, the stronghold of the Iraqi insurgency, zeroed in on a crowd of people mulling about on a street corner in the heart of the city. The American pilot of the fighter radioed back to his mission commander asking for permission to "take them out."

The commander doesn't ask whether the street people are armed or pose any kind of threat to the plane or US troops. He simply instructs the pilot to fire away.
View [wmp] - ifilm provided

October 2005 - Iraq: Witnesses say 39 of Ramadi dead were civilians

Iraq: Witnesses say 39 of Ramadi dead were civilians

yahoo/ap: Iraqis relatives of US airstrikes victims cry during their funeral in Ramadi, Iraq, Monday Oct. 17 2005. U.S. warplanes and helicopters bombed two villages near the restive city of Ramadi, killing an estimated 70 militants, the military said Monday, though witnesses said at least 39 of the dead were civilians.

The military said in a statement that the crowd was setting another roadside bomb when F-15 warplanes hit them, killing around 20 people, described by the military as "terrorists."

But several witnesses and one local leader said they were civilians who had gathered to gawk at and take pieces of the wreckage, as often occurs after an American vehicle is hit.

A tribal leader, Chiad Saad, said the airstrike killed 25 civilians, and several other witnesses said the same thing, though they refused to give their names out of fear for their safety. Read more

Law Lords asked to ban torture evidence

timesonline: A controversial judgment endorsing the detention of terrorist suspects on evidence that may have been obtained under torture is being challenged at the House of Lords today.

By a two to one majority, appeal judges ruled in August last year that if the evidence was obtained by agents of another country with no involvement by the UK, it was usable and there was no obligation by the Goverment to inquire about its origins.

Lawyers acting for the original ten suspected terrorists involved in the case, who were held without charge or trial, said at the time that they would seek to challenge the judgment before the Law Lords. The men, most of whom were first held in 2001 at Belmarsh jail, challenged a ruling of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission that the Home Office had "sound material" to back up the decision that they were a threat to national security.

Their lawyers' argument that evidence obtained by alleged torture in United States camps should have been excluded by the SIAC was rejected by the Court of Appeal.

Ben Emmerson QC, representing eight of the detainees, had told the appeal judges that the use of evidence obtained under torture, even if it was true, was "morally repugnant" and "an affront to the public conscience". The men's solicitor, Gareth Peirce, described the judgment as "terrifying". "It shows that we have completely lost our way in this country legally and morally," she said. Read more

Iraq: How many does it take to plant a roadside bomb?

Looks like a minimum of 20 ...

U.S. forces killed an estimated 70 militants near the western Iraqi city of Ramadi in a series of clashes on Sunday, a military statement said on Monday.

The statement said U.S. troops called in aircraft to bomb one group of suspected insurgents who were in the process of planting a roadside bomb, killing 20 men on the ground. Other clashes and airstrikes around Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold in western Anbar province, killed another 50 militants, the statement said. Link

whotv/ap: There are conflicting reports on the identities of 70 Iraqis killed in the U-S bombing of two villages near the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi.
The U-S military says all the victims were militants. Witnesses say at least 39 of the people killed were civilians.

The violence yesterday came a day after Iraq voted on a constitution that many Sunnis oppose.

On referendum day, a roadside bomb killed five U-S soldiers in a vehicle outside Ramadi. The military and witnesses agree that about 24 Iraqis gathered around the wreckage and were hit by the U-S airstrikes.

The military says the group was setting more explosives, while local people say the Iraqis had gathered to view or scavenge the site.

The other deaths occurred in a nearby village. The military says its forces were returning fire and, again, there is conflicting information as to whether the group included civilians. Read more

Update: 11.00 am - BBC Worldservice is reporting that they are receiving information that the 20+ dead 'bomb planters' were merely 'scavenging'/observing the scene. They point out that they are unable to confirm the reports 'independently' - which is typical arse-covering in the face of what is probably a number of compelling accounts that contradict the US military line.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Investigator of 'SAS' incident at Basra police station Dead

timesonline: Top military investigator is found dead in Basra

The British military officer in charge of all investigations against troops serving in Iraq has been found dead in his accommodation block in Basra. He is believed to have taken his own life.

Captain Ken Masters, 40, commanding officer of 61 Section of the Royal Military Police Special Investigations Branch (SIB), had been under pressure to bring to a conclusion a number of allegations relating to incidents in which Iraqi civilians had been killed.

The Royal Military Police has been working at full stretch to complete investigations after claims against British troops ranging from fatal shootings of civilians to abuse of prisoners. [db emphasis] Captain Masters's biggest current investigation was ordered after the incident on September 19 when two SAS troopers had to be rescued by British troops in armoured vehicles after they had been arrested by Iraqi police. During a day of violent confrontations, the Iraqi authorities in Basra claimed that seven Iraqis were killed and 43 injured, many of them police.

The two SAS men had been engaged in undercover surveillance of several senior Iraqi police officers who were suspected of being behind a series of attacks on British troops.

Compensation to the families of alleged Iraqi victims who died during the fracas depended on the official investigation being carried out by Captain Masters and his team.

Captain Masters was married with two children.

Defence sources said there were no suspicious circumstances, but a post-mortem examination would be held. Link