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Expert Said to Tell Legislators He Was Pressed to Distort Some Evidence
(JAMES RISEN and DOUGLAS JEHL, New York Times, June 25, 2003)
A top State Department expert on chemical and biological weapons told Congressional committees in closed-door hearings last week that he had been pressed to tailor his analysis on Iraq and other matters to conform with the Bush administration's views, several Congressional officials said today. . . . The officials described what they said was a dramatic moment at a House Intelligence Committee hearing last week when the weapons expert came forward to tell Congress he had felt such pressure. . . . By speaking out, they said, the senior intelligence expert, identified by several officials as Christian Westermann, became the first member of the intelligence community on active service to make this sort of admission to members of Congress. . . . Mr. Westermann, who is in his mid-40's, has worked as a State Department expert on unconventional weapons for the last several years and is viewed within the department as a careful and respected analyst of intelligence. . . . Mr. Westermann's decision to speak out has caused a stir inside the House and Senate intelligence committees, even though he did not go into details and indicated he was not comfortable doing so in front of the large group of officials around him in the House hearing. But he said he was prepared to discuss the matter further. . . . A number of analysts at the C.I.A. and other agencies have privately complained over the past few months that they felt pressure from administration officials to write reports that they believe overstated evidence that Iraq had illegal weapons programs and terrorist links. . . . A number of analysts have suggested that they felt less direct pressure on reports concerning the status of Iraq's unconventional weapons, but were angered that senior Bush administration officials selectively disclosed classified intelligence reports that supported the worst-case scenario concerning Iraq's weapons programs, making it seem as if there was an imminent threat to the United States. . . . The analysts believe that in some cases, White House and Pentagon officials made public statements about Iraq's weapons based on intelligence that was far from definitive.

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posted by Lorenzo 4:58 PM

Rumsfeld is the Ace of Spades on this French deck of cards!
Click the link above and scroll down to the middle of the page.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:54 PM

CIA and DOD Attempted To Plant WMD In Iraq
In a world exclusive, Al Martin Raw.com has published a news story about a Department of Defense whistleblower who has revealed that a US covert operations team had planted “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (WMDs) in Iraq – then “lost” them when the team was killed by so-called “friendly fire.” . . . The Pentagon whistleblower, Nelda Rogers, is a 28-year veteran debriefer for the Defense Department. She has become so concerned for her safety that she decided to tell the story about this latest CIA-military fiasco in Iraq. . . . The information that is being leaked out is information “obtained while she was in Germany heading up the debriefing of returning service personnel, involved in intelligence work in Iraq for the Department of Defense and/or the Central Intelligence Agency. . . . “According to Ms. Rogers, there was a covert military operation that took place both preceding and during the hostilities in Iraq,” . . . Ms. Rogers reports that this particular covert operation team was manned by ex-military personnel and that “the unit was paid through the Department of Agriculture in order to hide it, which is also very commonplace.” . . . The problem became evident when “the operation in Iraq involved 100 people, all of whom apparently are now dead, having succumbed to so-called ‘friendly fire.’ The scope of this operation included the penetration of the Central Bank of Iraq, other large commercial banks in Baghdad, the Iraqi National Museum and certain presidential palaces where monies and bullion were secreted.” . . . “These people died, mostly in the same place in Baghdad, supposedly from a stray cruise missile or a combination of missiles and bombs that went astray,” Martin continues. “There were supposedly 76 who died there and the other 24 died through a variety of 'friendly fire,' 'mistaken identity,' and some of them – their whereabouts are simply unknown.” . . . “This was a contingent of CIA/ DoD operatives, but it was really the CIA that bungled it, Ms. Rogers said. . . . “They had a special ‘black (unmarked) aircraft to fly it out. But none of that happened because the regular US Army showed up, stumbled onto it and everyone involved had to scramble.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 4:49 PM

UN agency says nuclear find indicates Baghdad did not restart weapons program
...the UN atomic agency said Thursday that a find of parts from Baghdad's original nuclear weapons program appears to back its stance that the project had never been reactivated. . . . The comments reflected the ongoing dispute between the United Nations and Washington over whether outsted president Saddam Hussein was trying to make weapons of mass destruction. . . . The scientist, Mahdi Shukur Obeidi, was quoted as saying he had kept the parts buried in his Baghdad garden on the orders of Saddam Hussein's government. Once sanctions against Iraq ended, the material was to be dug up and used to reconstitute a program to enrich uranium to make a nuclear weapon, Obeidi claimed to U.S. officials. . . . The intelligence official acknowledged the find was not the "smoking gun" that U.S. authorities are seeking to prove U.S. claims that Iraq had an active program to develop a nuclear weapon. . . . In Vienna Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency went even further, suggesting the revelations tended to back its arguments that there was no evidence of such revived programs. . . . "The findings and comments of Obeidi appear to confirm that there has been no post-1991 nuclear weapons program in Iraq and are consistent with our reports to the Security Council," said agency spokesman Mark Gwozdecky. . . . Obeidi turned over a stack of documents that includes detailed designs for centrifuges, intelligence officials said. He told intelligence officials the parts from his garden were among the more difficult-to-produce components of a centrifuge. . . . Assembled, the components would not be useful in making much uranium. Hundreds of centrifuges are necessary to make enough to construct a nuclear weapon in such programs. . . . In Vienna, Gwozdecky, the agency spokesman, said the IAEA had "regularly" reported that Iraq had "successfully tested a single centrifuge prior to 1991."
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posted by Lorenzo 4:13 PM

10 Appalling Lies We Were Told About Iraq
(Christopher Scheer, AlterNet, June 27, 2003)
[NOTE: The link above will take you to the full story, where the truth is presented in detail.]

What follows are just the most outrageous and significant of the dozens of outright lies uttered by Bush and his top officials over the past year:

LIE #1: "The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program ... Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment need for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons." – President Bush, Oct. 7, 2002, in Cincinnati.

LIE #2: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." – President Bush, Jan.28, 2003, in the State of the Union address.

LIE #3: "We believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." – Vice President Cheney on March 16, 2003 on "Meet the Press."

LIE #4: "[The CIA possesses] solid reporting of senior-level contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda going back a decade." – CIA Director George Tenet in a written statement released Oct. 7, 2002 and echoed in that evening's speech by President Bush.

LIE #5: "We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases ... Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints." – President Bush, Oct. 7.

LIE #6: "We have also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We are concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] for missions targeting the United States." – President Bush, Oct. 7.

LIE #7: "We have seen intelligence over many months that they have chemical and biological weapons, and that they have dispersed them and that they're weaponized and that, in one case at least, the command and control arrangements have been established." – President Bush, Feb. 8, 2003, in a national radio address.

LIE #8: "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets." – Secretary of State Colin Powell, Feb. 5 2003, in remarks to the UN Security Council.

LIE #9: "We know where [Iraq's WMD] are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat." – Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, March 30, 2003, in statements to the press.

LIE #10: "Yes, we found a biological laboratory in Iraq which the UN prohibited." – President Bush in remarks in Poland, published internationally June 1, 2003.

The Bush administration is now scrambling to place the blame for its lies on faulty intelligence, when in fact the intelligence was fine, it was their abuse of it which was "faulty." . . . Rather than apologize for leading us to a preemptive war based on impossibly faulty or shamelessly distorted "intelligence" or offering his resignation, our sly madman in the White House is starting to sound more like that other O.J. Like the man who cheerfully played golf while promising to pursue "the real killers," Bush is now vowing to search for "the true extent of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, no matter how long it takes."
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posted by Lorenzo 4:05 PM

End to Iraqi disarray sought
(Derk Kinnane Roelofsma, UPI, June 27, 2003)
With daily killings of coalition troops, sabotage of oil pipelines, uncontrolled crime, continuing shortages of electricity and water, and rising Iraqi hostility to occupation, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is looking, two months after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, for ways to end the disarray in U.S. policy on Iraq. . . . "Lawlessness is endemic. Alongside the highway, boys scale electric poles with wire cutters (the electric cables have copper that can be sold) while their elders look on. To the south, in Umm Qasr, Iraq's only deep-sea port, young men climb atop trucks chartered by the World Food Program, casually tossing down 100-pound bags of flour to their friends waiting below, while a Spanish military unit guarding its ship stands by impotently only yards away. There is no police force of any note here -- and if a policeman had a gun and was to fire, he would just start his own interfamily war." . . . Last week, Patrick Cockburn, a British journalist particularly knowledgeable about Iraq, reported from Baghdad that the few Iraqis who have joined the authority describe the American officials administering Iraq as living in an air-conditioned fantasy world. . . . A well-known writer on military, Ralph Peters, told UPI there has been what he called a Stalinist refusal by the administration to admit that anything in its plan for Iraq could go wrong. Peters is a retired lieutenant colonel with a background in military intelligence. . . . Asked how the White House and Defense Department went wrong, Houlahan answered that, "Virtually no thought at all went into what to do in Iraq after the war." . . . Rumsfeld, he said, "made the whole operation more difficult than it needed to be and increased the risks to the soldiers." . . . Houlahan did not spare the military. "There are too many senior leaders in the armed forces who are boot-licking yes-men," he said. "If serious and well-presented objections had been raised, Rumsfeld would not have created so many problems." . . . Peters, asserting that neo-conservatives such as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and others were behind the war, said they "talked themselves into believing a scenario in which the Iraqis would magically restructure themselves."
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posted by Lorenzo 3:43 PM

US Soldiers Arrest Iraqi Teenager Who Made Fun of Them

A US soldier leads arrested 17-year-old student Khaled Salim with his hands tied behend his back towards a waiting army truck in the southern Baghdad suburb of Dura. Salim was arrested on his way to school, as a warning to others after he insulted US troops. US soldiers carried out house-to-house searches in Dura, deatining two people and confiscating waspons. (AFP/Ramzi Haidar)

The above photo and caption from Agence France-Presse were captured from the Yahoo News site, which runs the raw AFP wire. They were picked up apparently by only two media outlets in the world: the Straits Times (Singapore), which ran the caption but not the picture, and the Globe and Mail (Toronto), which rotated it completely off its Website after several hours.

As with the so-called thieves who were publicly stripped and written on by US soldiers in Iraq, the US media have chosen to ignore this incident.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:06 AM

Keep it simple for simple-minded Bush
In the face of incessantly probing questions on CBS's "Face the Nation," Rice, in her school marm-like best, could only keep repeating that "there are still bad people in Iraq." Bad people? Is this the best terminology we can get from a PhD in International Studies? Or is that the phraseology she uses in explaining foreign policy matters to Bush? The latter explanation seems more likely.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:17 PM

Rights group says U.S. troops used excessive force in April shootings that killed 20 Iraqis
(Jim Krane, Associated Press, 6/18/2003)
U.S. soldiers used excessive force when they shot and killed 20 protesters and wounded almost 90 others in the restive city of Fallujah, according to a report by a human rights group that calls for a U.S. investigation into the two April shootings. . . . The group, Human Rights Watch, said it found no concrete evidence to support U.S. assertions that troops returned precision fire on gunmen in the crowd who shot first. . . . Human Rights Watch investigators who examined the sites of the shootings said they did not find conclusive evidence of bullet damage on buildings used as a base by U.S. troops. Despite detailed claims of shooting, there was little to suggest U.S. troops had been fired upon, according to the report, issued Tuesday. . . . The evidence suggested soldiers of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade responded to a perceived threat with disproportionate force, according to the report. . . . Since the April shootings, Fallujah, about 35 miles west of Baghdad, has become synonymous with resistance to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. Subsequent ambushes of troops have killed four U.S. soldiers and wounded 21. . . . Human Rights Watch said the original order to police Fallujah with combat troops of the 82nd, a paratrooper unit whose soldiers had come straight from battle, was a ''recipe for disaster.'' . . . The troops were unprepared and ill-equipped for the post-conflict job of dealing with hostile civilian crowds. They lacked translators, law enforcement training and non-lethal crowd control tools, the report states. . . . Protesters said they were attacked without provocation by U.S. troops who fired automatic weapons for 10 minutes. . . . Iraqi witnesses denied shots had been fired at U.S. troops but said some protesters threw rocks at the soldiers and their vehicles.

[Comment: Sounds like stories coming from the West Bank ... children throw stones, and soldiers murder them with automatic weapons. Before this is over, America is going to think their war in Viet Nam was kind and gentle.]
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posted by Lorenzo 3:58 PM

US clouds Iraqi civilian deaths
(Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe, June 13, 2003)
WHENEVER REPORTERS asked about civilian deaths in the invasion of Iraq, US military officials reflexively plunged into a numbing prattle about the precision of our weaponry, precaution to avoid needless carnage, and promises to investigate possible mistakes. . . . Two and a half months after the prattle, we now have the terrible truth. There never was an investigation. That fact was embedded (pun intended) in an Associated Press report this week that it has so far counted 3,240 Iraqi civilians killed in the invasion, including nearly 1,900 in Baghdad. The AP quoted Central Command spokesman John Morgan confirming the nonexistence of an investigation. . . . Americans should be shocked that journalists are piecing together a history of the war that our military is trying to bury with the bodies. . . . The AP report said it took pains to exclude from its count all records of hospital deaths that did not distinguish between civilians and soldiers. It also noted that many other victims didn't die in hospitals but were lost in the rubble or buried immediately, according to Islamic custom. As a result, it said, ''hundreds, possibly thousands of victims in the largest cities and most intense battles aren't reflected in the total.'' . . . Americans were outraged when 3,000 people were killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Now, between Afghanistan and Iraq, our vengeance has killed way more than that. We rightly demanded that the world care about our innocent dead. Now we wrongly ignore the people we killed. We not only bombed innocent people, we bombed our own innocence.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:50 PM

Iraqi mobile labs nothing to do with germ warfare, report finds
(Peter Beaumont, Antony Barnett and Gaby Hinsliff, The Observer, June 15, 2003)
An official British investigation into two trailers found in northern Iraq has concluded they are not mobile germ warfare labs, as was claimed by Tony Blair and President George Bush, but were for the production of hydrogen to fill artillery balloons, as the Iraqis have continued to insist. . . . a British scientist and biological weapons expert, who has examined the trailers in Iraq, told The Observer last week: 'They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were - facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons.' . . . The row is expected to be re-ignited this week with Robin Cook and Clare Short, the two Cabinet Ministers who resigned over the war, both due to give evidence to a House of Commons inquiry into whether intelligence was manipulated in the run-up to the war. It will be the first time that both have been grilled by their peers on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee over what the Cabinet was told in the run-up to the war. . . . The revelation that the mobile labs were to produce hydrogen for artillery balloons will also cause discomfort for the British authorities because the Iraqi army's original system was sold to it by the British company, Marconi Command & Control.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:28 AM

CIA experts on Iraq arms shifted to different jobs / Some say 2 staffers in 'exile' because banned weapons not found
(Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times, June 14, 2003)
The CIA has reassigned two senior officials who oversaw its analysis on Iraq and the deposed regime's alleged weapons of mass destruction, a move that a CIA spokesman said was routine but that others portrayed as an "exile." . . . The officials served in senior positions in which they were deeply involved in assembling and assessing the intelligence on Iraq's alleged stocks of chemical and biological arms. . . . The failure so far to find banned weapons in Iraq has raised questions of whether the prewar intelligence was flawed or shaded to support the White House's desire to present a compelling case for war. . . . One of the officials was reassigned last week to the CIA's personnel department after spending the past several months heading the Iraq Task Force, a special unit set up to provide 24-hour support to military commanders during the war. . . . "Two of the key players on this problem have essentially been sent into deep exile," said one agency official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. . . . In some cases, records show officials reaching one conclusion on Iraq's weapons, only to offer a contradictory conclusion a few months later. "It's all fodder for the Democrats," the aide said. "What they'll find is people having said things that aren't consistent with what they're saying now." . . . the official compared the pressure analysts faced preceding the war to that applied by lawyers "badgering the witness -- asking the question over and over and over again to the point where people get worn down." . . . Much of this pressure, the source said, came from top officials at the Pentagon, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. . . . The weapons controversy has exposed new fault lines between the White House and the intelligence community. . . . Many in the intelligence community are now pessimistic that stocks of anthrax, botulinum toxin, sarin gas or other agents Iraq was accused of producing will be found. . . . "It's not that they were never there or that we worked for years on erroneous information," one intelligence official said. Rather, there is growing concern that the nation's spy community missed the destruction of the materials because analysts were not prepared to consider Hussein capable of taking such a step.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:11 PM

Leading Iraqi paints grim picture of Iraq
(Eli J. Lake, United Press International, June 13, 2003)
In Baghdad today an American occupation authority issues decrees and drafts reports inside a palace ringed by tanks and built by a man whose government essentially vanished after three and a half weeks of fighting. . . . Outside the compound the streets of Baghdad are run by local criminals when the sun goes down and swaths of the country are still under control of forces loyal to Saddam Hussein. Blackouts are common in Iraq's liberated capital. . . . When U.S. officials deign to meet with Iraqis, they must take at least three humvees with them for security reasons. Because there are only nine in Baghdad, the prospect of an Iraqi landing a meeting outside the American fortress is slim. There is no local cell phone network . . . A Pentagon organizational chart for the new authority released to the press last month shows the transitional Iraqi authority (comprised of elected Iraqis) as a consultative group, positioned to the side of the Coalition Provisional Authority in the same row as non-governmental organizations and the U.N. liaison. . . . The U.S. position shifted in the past six weeks. The special envoy of the President, Dr. Khalilzad, declared at the beginning of May that the United States will support the provisional government in Iraq, and he declared this to the press. Then this was reversed later. We don't know exactly how this decision was made and why, but I believe there were fears about the spread of Iranian influence and Islamic fundamentalism, which I think are basically unfounded." . . . A June 11 report from the International Crisis Group says Bremer has his work cut out for him. Its researchers found "Baghdad a city in distress, chaos and ferment." The report blasts the occupation authority for its infrequent contact with Iraqis; failure to repair infrastructure; unwillingness to empower Iraqis in the day-to-day management of the country; and lack of armed soldiers to guard public institutions. . . . Another major obstacle to establishing law and order is the fact that Saddam's army, security service, and indeed his government never formally surrendered. "What effectively has happened since the liberation is quite unique," Makiya said. "It's not that the state was defeated. No section of the Iraqi army surrendered. The same is true of the security services of the Muhabbarat and the other security services. We are in a very important sense beginning at ground zero, from scratch, in a way that knows very few parallels."
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posted by Lorenzo 1:10 PM

Robert Fisk: Censorship Of The Press, A Familiar Story For Iraqi's
(Robert Fisk, The Independent, June 11, 2003)
Two months after "liberating" Iraq, the Anglo- American authorities and their boss Paul Bremer - whose habit of wearing combat boots with a black suit continues to amaze his colleagues - have decided to control the new and free Iraqi press. . . . Newspapers that publish "wild stories", material deemed provocative or capable of inciting ethnic violence, will be threatened or shut down. It's for the good of the Iraqi people, you understand. A controlled press is a responsible press - which is exactly what Saddam Hussein used to say about the trashy newspapers his regime produced. It must seem all too familiar to the people of Baghdad. . . . the idea that the Anglo-American presence is as awful as Saddam's torturers betrays a truly eccentric mind - though it would help if certain Iraqi police officers were not admitting that they were arranging "dates" for US troops. . . . What the Iraqis need, of course, is journalistic help rather than censorship, courses in reporting - by experienced journalists from real democracies (rather than the version Mr Bremer seems set on creating) - rather than a colonial-style suppression of free speech. . . . we all know how the first pro-American Iraqi government of "New Iraq" will treat the laws. It will enthusiastically adopt the Western censorship law, just as former colonies almost always take over the repressive legislation of their former imperial masters. . . . If the Americans can let the narco-terrorists rule again in Afghanistan, why should they be more moral in Baghdad where drugs are reappearing for sale on the streets, courtesy - you guessed it - of the Afghan drugs trade. So censor the story. . . . Out at Baghdad airport, the Americans are now holding 3,000 prisoners without any intention of putting them on trial or charging them with offences. Where is Tariq Aziz, the former deputy prime minister? The Americans say they have him. But we don't know where. What's he being asked? . . . One thing's for sure. There'll be no trial for Tariq Aziz. Keeping him silent will be the first priority. But that's not something the Iraqis should learn about. Censor the story. . . . While we're still on the subject of Baghdad airport, it's important to note that American forces at the facility are now coming under attack every night - I repeat, every night - from small arms fire. So are American military planes flying into the airbase. Some US aircrews have now adopted the old Vietnam tactic of corkscrewing tightly down on to the runways instead of risking sniper fire during a conventional final approach. The source is impeccable (it's within the Third Infantry Division, if the int. boys want to know). But what will that tell the Iraqis? That the Americans cannot keep order? That a resistance movement is well under way? Censor the story. . . . Bremer is trying to quick-fix his new "consultative" council of wise Iraqis prior to the famous democratic election which has been briefly postponed. And meanwhile he's fired a quarter of a million Iraqi soldiers from their jobs - ready, no doubt, to join the nascent resistance movement. Yes, it truly is time for press censorship in Iraq.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:54 PM

Simpson berates 'trigger-happy' troops
(Owen Gibson, The Guardian, June 5, 2003)
BBC news reporter John Simpson has hit out against the "trigger-happy" behaviour of US troops in Iraq and claimed he saved an old Iraqi man from being shot by gung-ho marines. . . . the Americans "lost control". . . . "They lost all control - screaming, shouting and kicking people," Simpson said, adding that US soldiers' fear of snipers led to a 'shoot first, ask questions later' attitude. . . . "One of the marines shouted 'Snipers!' and put up his gun, pointing it at a man on a rooftop. I could see it was an old boy putting out a blanket to air and I said to him in a quiet voice that I would be the witness at his trial for murder if he pulled the trigger. He stopped," said the BBC reporter. . . . "In Iraq you could see the stark difference between the way the Americans behaved and how the British did things. It was Northern Ireland that gave the British that experience and that edge." . . . They are so much in control. We have a first-class army, which is excellently disciplined. The American military culture does not have the business of careful control of firing weapons. If they took a leaf or two out of the British handbook they would do themselves and everyone else a favour," he said. . . . Simpson was wounded by US troops during the conflict in a horrific "friendly fire" incident that killed his translator Kamaran Abdurazaq Muhamed and 17 others, as well as causing 45 injuries. . . . The BBC later showed pictures of the tragedy shot by cameraman Fred Scott, who at one point is seen wiping blood from his lens, of Simpson and others running around trying to treat the wounded in the immediate aftermath of the bombing, while vehicles burned in the background. . . . "There was a lot of panic and unpleasant sights. People burning to death or staggering around with their insides in their hands. Our translator, Kamaran, had some shrapnel through the femoral artery and I don't think he stood a chance," said Simpson. . . . Simpson, who sustained ruptured eardrums and remains deaf in his left ear, said he would like to see justice done for Mr Muhamed's family. . . . "We owe it to them to find out why it happened and to see if it's possible to avoid it in the future. And I'd like to see what disciplinary measures were taken. It is not a crusade but a desire to see what went wrong," said Simpson.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:59 AM

U.S. hunt for Iraqi banned weapons slows
(Dafna Linzer, Associated Press, June 9, 2003)
U.S. military units assigned to track down Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have run out of places to look and are getting time off or being assigned to other duties, even as pressure mounts on President Bush to explain why no banned arms have been found. . . . "It doesn't appear there are any more targets at this time," said Lt. Col. Keith Harrington, whose team has been cut by more than 30 percent. "We're hanging around with no missions in the foreseeable future." . . . Over the past week, his and several other teams have been taken off assignment completely. Rather than visit suspected weapons sites, they are brushing up on target practice and catching up on letters home. . . . The slowdown comes after checks of more than 230 sites - drawn from a master intelligence list compiled before the war - turned up none of the chemical or biological weapons the Bush administration said it went after Saddam Hussein to destroy. . . . But without evidence of weapons, the CIA and other intelligence agencies have begun reviewing the accuracy of information they supplied to the administration before the March invasion of Iraq. Government inquiries are being set up in Washington, London and other coalition countries to examine how possibly flawed intelligence might have influenced the decision for war. . . . With prewar intelligence exhausted and senior figures from the former regime insisting Iraq hasn't had chemical or biological weapons in years, Dayton's staff will be starting from scratch. . . . U.N. inspectors spent years learning the names and faces of the Iraqi weapons programs. But in postwar Iraq, the Bush administration cut the organization out of the hunt because of recent assessments that conflicted with Washington's portrayal of Saddam's weapons.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:41 PM

Distorted intelligence on Iraq is part of an Orwellian world of fabricated reality
(Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian, June 5, 2003)
Perhaps we live in the Matrix after all. Wherever we turn, we find a politics of manufactured reality that recalls the world of that cult film. How can we, the citizens, unplug ourselves and fight it? . . . This systematic attempt to fool most of the people most of the time is the work of some of the most intelligent, best-informed and highly paid men and women in western societies: spin-doctors, PR consultants, hacks and spooks. Like the Inner Party member, O'Brien, in George Orwell's 1984, they know better. They have seen the photograph, tape or transcript that shows the public claim is wrong, but then, like O'Brien, they have dropped it down the memory hole: " 'Ashes,' he said, 'Not even identifiable ashes. Dust. It does not exist. It never existed.' " . . . The broader point is that 21st-century democratic politics operates in a media world of virtual reality, in which appearance is more important than reality. The genre of modern politics is neither fact nor fiction, but faction. It's a 24/7 dramadocumentary. This is the world not of Newspeak but of Newscorp. It's shaped not by a single totalitarian bureaucracy, but by an intimate, habitual interplay between politicians, spin doctors, PR consultants and journalists working for media corporations, whether in London, Berlin, Paris or Washington. . . . What can we do against this real-life Matrix? Find the facts, and report them. "Facts are subversive," said the great American journalist IF Stone. . . . Yet the trend, in journalism as in politics, and probably now in the political use of intelligence, is away from the facts and towards a neo-Orwellian world of manufactured reality. This is something slightly different from (though close to) straight lies. . . . "Two million jobs in peril", trumpeted the Sun on Tuesday May 27. "EU to hijack our economy." This "news" story began: "Two million jobs will be lost if Tony Blair signs the new EU treaty, it was feared last night." On an inside page it emerged that this 2 million figure was just a guess of one Eurosceptic economist, Patrick Minford. Welcome to another corner of the Matrix. . . . And so it goes on. The best place to start combating neo-Orwellianism is at the end of the food chain, in the media. So if you want to fight the Matrix, become a journalist. Find the facts and report them. Like Orwell.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:22 PM

Kucinich: Show Us The Evidence, Mr. President
Kucinich Leads 30 Members of Congress In Introducing A Resolution of Inquiry To Force Administration To Turn Over Intelligence On Iraq’s Weapons Of Mass Destruction
. . . “It is long past time that the President and this Administration show its evidence,” stated Kucinich, the leader of the opposition to the war in Iraq in the House. “Today, we are introducing a Resolution of Inquiry to compel the White House to substantiate its claims. The President led the nation to war, and spent at least $63 billion on that war, on the basis of these unfounded assertions.” . . . "In fact, I have a list of claims that this Administration has made over the past year about evidence they claimed they had of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. But we all know that no weapons have been found. It has been 76 days since the start of war, and no weapons have been found. . . . "We think that it’s high time that we see the evidence—if there is any evidence—for the Administration’s many unfounded assertions. That is why we intend to compel the White House to release its evidence through a Resolution of Inquiry."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 5:59 PM

Robert Fisk: Bloodshed, Fear And a Deadly Ambush
(Robert Fisk, ZNet, June 6, 2003)
FROM HIGH over Iraq yesterday, President George Bush cast his Olympian eye over ancient Mesopotamia after praising the Americans in Qatar who had "managed" the war against Saddam Hussein. But far below him, on a dirty street corner in a dirty town called Fallujah that Mr Bush would prefer not to hear about, was a story of American blood and American power and American boots smashing down the front gates of Iraqi homes. . . . You could see why Mr Bush chose to avoid any triumphal visits to Iraq. . . . Survivors of the ambush were among the soldiers yesterday, remembering the early hours as only soldiers can. "They fired a grenade at a two-and- a-half ton truck full of the 101st Airborne and then straffed it with AK fire and then just disappeared into the night," one of them told me. "The guys were in a terrible state. One of our soldiers was dead with his brains hanging out of his head and his stomach hanging out, and there were eight others in the back shouting and pulling bits of shrapnel out of their legs." . . . But it did not take long to see why children might throw rocks. There was another American soldier 40 metres away who was busy losing hearts and minds. "Tell them to get the fuck out of here," he told a private, pointing at a group of teenagers. Then he turned to a middle-aged man sitting on a chair on the pavement. "You stand up and I'll break your neck," he screamed at him. . . . Yesterday, the Americans made a hundred more enemies among them. One young man told me that a few nights ago, gunmen had arrived at their homes and asked them to join a new resistance movement. "We turned them down," he said. "I don't know what I'd say if they came again." Perhaps the same questions were once asked of the men who opened fire and wounded two American soldiers outside a Baghdad bank yesterday. . . . In Fallujah, one of the US MPs turned to me as his search was called off. "The Third Infantry Division are coming in here to go through this place tomorrow," he said. It will be interesting to see what "going through" means. But remember the name Fallujah.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 9:10 PM

An unnecessary war
[Comment: Even the lunatic fringe of the right wing is now questioning Bush's motives!]

(Patrick J. Buchanan, WorldNetDaily.com, June 4, 2003)
What was America's real motive for attacking Iraq? Was it oil? Empire? To make the Middle East safe for Sharon? . . . That these questions are being asked, not only by America's critics, is the fault of the administration alone. For its crucial argument as to why it had no choice but to launch the first preventive war in American history is collapsing like a sand castle in a rising surf. . . . Iraq, in retrospect, was no threat whatsoever to the United States. We fought an unnecessary war, and now we must rebuild a nation at a rising cost in blood and treasure. . . . Opponents answered that the U.N. inspectors had found nothing, that Saddam had even invited in the CIA to have a look, that surely he could not launch a sneak attack on America or her allies with U.N. inspectors rummaging around his country. The War Party scoffed. Hans Blix, they said, was an incompetent and an appeaser who would deliberately not find weapons rather than be responsible for causing a war. . . . So President Bush launched America's first pre-emptive war, and it was a triumph of American arms. But eight weeks have now elapsed, and we have not yet found a single weapon of mass destruction, though we were told, again and again, that Saddam had "30,000 munitions." . . . Something is terribly wrong here. It is impossible to believe the president would deliberately lie to the nation when he knew the full truth would be discovered at war's end in a few weeks. Either he was misled, or he was deceived – and so, too, was Secretary of State Colin Powell. . . . Who did it? Who was responsible for the intelligence failure, or the dishonest use of selected intelligence, or the conscious and deliberate deceit of a president and secretary of state? [Comment: We are talking high treason here.] . . . Why would Saddam let himself, his family and his regime perish protecting weapons he either no longer had or did not intend to use? . . . Is it possible Iraq never had that vast arsenal of anthrax, VX, sarin and mustard gas we were led to believe? Did the intelligence agencies fail us, or did someone "cook the books" to meet the recipe for an imperial war? . . . It is time Congress investigated the Office of Special Plans, set up in the Pentagon to sift and interpret all intelligence, and placed under neoconservative super-hawk Paul Wolfowitz.

Also see Wolfowitz admits the war was about oil.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 4:43 PM

Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil
(George Wright, The Guardian, June 4, 2003)
Oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq, a leading White House hawk has claimed, confirming the worst fears of those opposed to the US-led war. . . . The US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz - who has already undermined Tony Blair's position over weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by describing them as a "bureaucratic" excuse for war - has now gone further by claiming the real motive was that Iraq is "swimming" in oil. . . . Asked why a nuclear power such as North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq, where hardly any weapons of mass destruction had been found, the deputy defence minister said: "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil." . . . His latest comments follow his widely reported statement from an interview in Vanity Fair last month, in which he said that "for reasons that have a lot to do with the US government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on: weapons of mass destruction." . . . Mr Wolfowitz's frank assessment of the importance of oil could not come at a worse time for the US and UK governments, which are both facing fierce criticism at home and abroad over allegations that they exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in order to justify the war. . . . In the US, the failure to find solid proof of chemical, biological and nuclear arms in Iraq has raised similar concerns over Mr Bush's justification for the war and prompted calls for congressional investigations.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 6:31 PM

Welcome to Iraq, Mr President
(Robert Fisk, The New Zealand Herald, 4 June 2003)
Iraqis, it now seems certain, are to be blessed this week with a visit from their Liberator-in-Chief, George Bush jnr. . . . And we all know what the American President would like to do when he arrives: to be filmed inspecting Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, the purported reason for the Anglo-American invasion illegally launched against Iraq. . . . The problem, of course, is that there don't appear to be any. . . . this is what Bush should do if he wants to understand the crisis that now confronts the nation he was so keen to "liberate". . . . First, join a petrol queue. Bush will help to push his limousine to the back of the 5km line by the Hussein bridge - many motorists run dry before they reach the queue - and here he will wait ... and wait and wait. Eight hours if he's lucky, maybe 12. Maybe 24. . . . Then Bush can visit the 158 Iraqi government ministry buildings that should be the infrastructure of the new US-backed government which he has sworn to establish. . . . He will see, of course, that every one of the 158 buildings was looted and then burned after the Americans occupied Baghdad. . . . Bush will discover that nationalist and religious sentiment - rather than Iranian "terrorism" or "interference" - demands an American departure. . . . Of course, Bush will visit the town of Faluja, where American Marines gunned down 18 Sunni Muslim demonstrators last month and where two gunmen this week shot dead two US soldiers and wounded another 11 before being killed. . . . Finally, he will drop in for a little tourism at the Baghdad Archeological Museum, so comprehensively looted after the Americans entered Baghdad in April. . . . He will see smashed statues, heaps of Sumerian vases broken into pieces and photographs of the 4000-year-old masterpieces stolen from the museum in the course of just a few hours. . . . But will Bush mention the "oil" word? Much more to the point, dare he mention the weapons of mass destruction, which even the Iraqis no longer believe exist?
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 7:26 PM

Blix confirms inspection teams found no WMD and calls for further UN involvement
(David Usborne, The Independent, 4 June 2003)
The chief United Nations weapons inspector has confirmed that his team found "no evidence" of programmes involving weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before they were forced to withdraw from the country to make way for military action. . . . Washington is continuing to block requests from other council members that UN inspectors be allowed back into Iraq to ascertain whether there were any weapons of mass destruction there, as asserted by Britain and the US before the war. . . . So far, inspectors deployed by the US and Britain have failed to find a single banned weapon in Iraq, stirring intense controversy over whether the war was justified. President George Bush has said, however, that two lorries that appear to have been mobile biological laboratories may be proof enough. . . . But on the question of whether Iraq was guilty of concealing weapons, he wrote that his teams "did not find evidence of the continuation or resumption of programs of weapons of mass destruction or significant quantities of proscribed items". . . . But Mr Blix said Unmovic could be ready to return to work in Iraq within two weeks if asked to do so.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 7:20 PM

Why Didn't Iraq Use Chemical and Biological Weapons Against U.S. Troops?
by Ted Galen Carpenter - JUne 2, 2003
As U.S. troops continue to search for evidence of Iraq's alleged arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, an important question needs to be asked: Why didn't Iraq use those weapons on invading coalition forces? That such weapons were not used was one of the biggest (and most pleasant) surprises of the war. There are four possible explanations.

Saddam Hussein's regime had the weapons but decided to refrain from using them.
Although that is a possibility, it is a remote one. The Iraqi government exhibited no such restraint during its war with Iran in the 1980s, using chemical weapons both on Iranian troops and on Kurdish civilians Baghdad suspected of aiding Tehran. It strains credulity to suppose that Saddam's regime would have respected international law this time around, especially when the regime faced the certainty of being overthrown in any case. To be blunt, Saddam had nothing to lose by unleashing such weapons on coalition forces.

Iraq's command and control system broke down so quickly that the weapons could not be used.
That explanation seems improbable as well. Although the victory of U.S. and British forces was rapid, it wasn't that rapid. The war went on for 3 weeks, and Iraqi units mounted a credible resistance with conventional forces. Moreover, Baghdad had months to prepare for the U.S.-led assault. That seems more than enough time to prepare attacks with unconventional weapons.

Iraq no longer had chemical and biological weapons. They were destroyed in the 1990s.
That was, in fact, Baghdad's official position in the months leading up to the war. Most experts scoffed at such assertions. But the absence of use during the conflict enhances the credibility of that explanation. If Saddam Hussein ordered the destruction of his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons in the hope that such cooperation, with the demands of the United Nations, would allow his regime to remain in power, he obviously made a miscalculation. But if U.S. inspectors continue to be unable to locate the alleged arsenal, that explanation cannot be ruled out.

As a final act of revenge, Saddam transferred the weapons to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
This is the most chilling possibility. It also would be bitterly ironic. The principal rationale for the Bush administration's campaign to overthrow Saddam was that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and might pass them along to terrorists. But as CIA Director George Tenet admitted in September 2002, Iraq would have little incentive under normal circumstances to take such a reckless step. Tenet further admitted, though, that if the United States attacked Iraq, all bets were off. Did U.S. leaders create a self-fulfilling prophecy by moving to overthrow Saddam's regime? With nothing to lose, did Saddam set in motion developments that would wreak a terrible revenge on those who triumphed over him in conventional war? We may not know the answer for months or years to come, but that explanation possesses a horrifying logic.

If either the third or the fourth explanation proves to be true, it is bad news for the Bush administration and all Americans. If Iraq no longer had chemical and biological weapons, the primary justification for the war was erroneous, thousands of people died needlessly, and America's reputation will suffer a severe blow throughout the world. Conversely, if Baghdad did have such weapons and passed them along to extremist organizations, the blowback from the military victory in Iraq could be more terrible than we wish to contemplate.
. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 12:11 PM

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