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Iraqi Civilian Deaths ... caused by Bush's unprovoked war

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Iraqis furious over raid
(The Hindu, July 28, 2003)
. . . a U.S. raid that killed five Iraqi civilians as they unwittingly drove into a firestorm. . . . Furious residents of the upscale Mansur district accuse the U.S. soldiers of firing indiscriminately at passing cars on Sunday as colleagues raided a villa in a vain search for Saddam Hussein. . . . ``The cars came down the road. They didn't know the Americans were here. They were normal civilians and wanted to go home,'' one witness told Reuters today. They (U.S. soldiers) opened fire right away.'' . . . A soldier at a nearby hospital said the bodies of five people had been brought in from the scene of the raid, including a boy in his early teens. This morning not a soldier was in sight in Mansur, and four burned or bullet-riddled cars had been taken away. "All these things are making people hate the Americans,'' said a Mansur resident. "In the beginning, all the Iraqi people welcomed the Americans, but now the Americans have built a wall between themselves and the Iraqi people.'' . . . Residents who witnessed the shooting said about 75 U.S. soldiers poured into the area in the early evening, blocking off the main street but failing to prevent innocent motorists straying into the fire zone from quiet side streets.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:19 PM

Polls show what some Americans think about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction

Over and over the Bush administration told us that Iraq's possession of terrible weapons of mass destruction justified the war on Iraq. Bush explained that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and would soon have nuclear weapons. The US military quickly conquered the smaller, poorer, weaker country. But as for the WMD, they've searched and searched and found none. The White House continues to maintain that they were right all along, that Iraq and its dictator did indeed possess WMD, but somehow forgot or failed to use them in the war, while remembering to destroy or hide every trace of them.

Support for the conquest of Iraq remains strong, and a great many Americans are not even aware that no WMD were found. In a recent American poll, 22% said that Iraq had used WMD against the American invaders. 34% told pollsters they believed that the US had found WMD during the invasion. And 57% believe that Iraq had WMD at the beginning of the war.

Bush might be trying to give voters the false impression that his claim that Iraq had WMD was actually true, just as he tried to convince voters that Saddam was involved with al Qaeda. The day before the invasion of Iraq started, a poll revealed that nearly one American in four believed that Saddam was the boss of al Qaeda.

An amazing 55% of respondents who identified themselves as Republicans and say that they "follow foreign affairs very closely" believe that WMD had been found by US invaders.

--R.W. Bradford (Liberty Magazine)
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posted by Hal 6:37 PM

Bush's "Bring Them On" Picture Album
This is not for the squeamish. Here are pictures of what the war in Iraq is like for the US troops who must live in its midst every day.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:58 PM

Insanity at the Top
I don't know what Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz are smoking, but it certainly is causing them to hallucinate. Rumsfeld now is carping about the fact that France and Germany aren't willing to send their troops to Iraq to clean up the mess the US has made of that country. After calling the French and Germans "old Europe" and being completely dismissive of their views before the unilateral invasion of Iraq by the US, Rumsfeld now doesn't seem to understand why they aren't willing to pay for his mistakes with their blood and money. Let's face it, Rumsfeld is stuck back in the first half of the last century. Men like him were common during the years of the two World Wars. Their names litter history with their bloody misdeeds. When are the people of the US going to rise up and DEMAND that this nutcase be removed from the position of power he now holds. ... and then there is the evil genius behind the US plans to remake the Middle East in his image, Paul Wolfowitz. After spending all of five days in Iraq (under extremely tight security) he has the gall to declare that everything is going according to his master plan. In fact, he now believes that with the deaths of two of Saddam's sons the attacks on American troops will stop. ... The fact on the ground is that within 24 hours of the deaths of Saddam's sons more Americans were killed than in any other 24 hour period since Bush made his moronic speech about the war being over.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:02 AM

The Merciless American Army
This morning's paper carried a picture of an American soldier pointing a rifle at an obviously terrified Iraqi man who was sitting on the ground with his hands raised in the air. The caption explained that another US soldier had already shot this man in the neck "as he tried to escape down an alley." However, this New York Times picture spoke volumes about the reality of life for the Iraqi people these days ... the man who was allegedly "escaping down the alley" had only one leg. Apparently, the US forces are even terrified of cripples these days. .... shades of Viet Nam.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:49 AM

A legal minefield for Iraq's occupiers
(David Scheffer, Financial Times, July 23, 2003)
Because they rejected a United Nations-supervised administration of post-Hussein Iraq, the US and Britain needlessly shoulder most of the legal responsibility for the success or failure of the administration and reconstruction of Iraq. No wonder other nations and groupings, such as India, Pakistan and Nato, have rejected Washington's appeal for troops. Why risk the liabilities of a military occupation under current conditions, especially when a simple Security Council mandate could trump occupation law, with all its attendant burdens? . . . In an awkwardly crafted resolution in May, authored by Washington and London, the Security Council designated the two victorious nations as the "occupying powers". This title carries all the responsibilities, constraints and liabilities that arise under occupation law, codified in the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and other instruments. . . . In the last half-century no country requiring such radical transformation has been placed under military occupation law instead of a UN mandate or trusteeship. No conquering military power has volunteered formally to embrace occupation law so boldly and with such enormous risk. And never in recent times has an occupation occurred that was so predictable for so long and yet so poorly planned for. . . . Occupation law was never intended to encourage invasion and occupation for the purpose of transforming a society, however noble that aim. The narrow purpose is to constrain an occupying military power and thus discourage aggression and permanent occupation. . . . The liability trap deepens every day, dug by the failure of the occupying powers to plan for and take immediate action to prevent looting of critical facilities and cultural sites, to deploy enough soldiers to maintain security and to establish effective law enforcement on the streets with well-trained police. The occupying powers also risk liability in other ways: by their refusal to permit entry of international weapons inspectors or of humanitarian supplies from the UN and other relief organisations in the early stages of the occupation; by their failure rapidly to restore and maintain water, sewerage and electricity services; by having created unemployment on a massive scale; and by their controversial plans for the management of Iraq's oil industry. . . . Occupation law imposes high performance standards on an occupying military power and liability can arise quickly. This is particularly so in cases where an occupation and its many responsibilities were readily foreseeable - as is the case in Iraq, whose invasion was planned for a long time.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:25 PM

Shi'ites turn on council to form militia
(Bangkok Post, July 22, 2003)
Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council met yesterday but its future is now clouded after the defection of the majority Shi'ites . . . The council met behind closed doors at its headquarters, the former ministry for military industry in central Baghdad, spokesman Mohamed Abdul Jabbar said, amid efforts to get rebuilding under way and map the course for Iraq's recovery. . . . But the body, which held its inaugural session on July 13, has already hit a credibility gap, with both Shi'ite and Sunni Muslim groups claiming it is illegitimate and demanding the formation of a directly-elected body. . . . Iraq's Shi'ite majority, whose support is considered vital for the success of the US-led occupation, has turned on the council, with leading firebrand imam Moqtada Sadr decrying the council as illegitimate and announcing the formation of a private militia called the ``Mehdi army''. More than 10,000 of his supporters rallied in the Shi'ite holy city Najaf on Sunday, leading to a tense standoff with US marines. . . . Top US civil administrator Paul Bremer reiterated on Sunday that elections could be held within one year to form a sovereign government, rejecting calls for polls to be held sooner as unrealistic impatience. . . . A group of unidentified Iraqi militants said on television yesterday that attacks on US troops in Iraq were carried out by Islamists rather than loyalists of deposed leader Saddam Hussein. . . . ``America and its allies say they have tanks, they have warplanes, they have technology. We have something stronger than all of this. We have God,'' one said.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:09 PM

Pentagon punishes rebellious soldiers
The Pentagon has cracked down hard on the soldiers who spoke out against the military brass and the White House in a recent segment on ABC's "Good Morning, America." One soldier told the San Francisco Chronicle, "It was the end of the world. It went all the way up to President Bush and back down again on top of us. At least six of us here will lose our careers."

Chron reporter Robert Collier writes, "First lesson for the troops, it seemed: Don't ever talk to the media "on the record" -- that is, with your name attached -- unless you're giving the sort of chin-forward, everything's-great message the Pentagon loves to hear." But, unfortunately for the Bushies, censorship is not going to improve troop morale or improve the situation on the ground.
Posted on Alternet.org July 18, 2003 @ 10:19AM.

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posted by Lorenzo 2:55 PM

US Military Morale Sinking Deeper Every Day
(Chris Strohm and Ingrid Drake, Guerrilla News Network, July 21, 2003)
As the U.S. occupation of Iraq extends with no end in sight, and the death toll for both U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians continues to mount, more voices of dissent from military personnel and families are audible every day. . . . One of the most poignant so far comes from a young Marine who gave an interview with Pacifica Radio's Peacewatch program the night before he was deployed to Iraq. He discussed his strong commitment to peace, and said the Bush administration was violating constitutional principles and misleading the country into an unjust war. . . . He was killed in late June, fighting a war he didn't believe in. . . . His friends say he went into the military under the Clinton administration to gain credibility, so that perhaps someday his beliefs on how to build a lasting peace in the Middle East would be taken seriously. In the months before his deployment, he helped organize anti-war campaigns, mainly working behind the scenes. . . . In his interview with Pacifica, John expressed outrage that a legitimate public debate on the war had not occurred. Many alternatives to combat were available, he explained, such as using money being spent for war to finance a grassroots Iraqi democracy movement that would rival the Baath regime . . . He accused the administration of not talking honestly with the American public about potential consequences of a U.S. war on Iraq, such as the potential for urban combat, the psyche of the Iraqi people, the impact on the United Nations and the fate of the Middle East. . . . "This could have repercussions in terms of the war on terrorism," he said. "It could have repercussions on international diplomacy. It could have repercussions on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It could have repercussions in terms of our ability to get anything else done in the United Nations. And even if... everything goes the way it's supposed to go, what does that mean for the world order? It says that we basically can do whatever we want to do whenever we want to do it because we are the world's sole superpower." . . . The Bush administration, he claimed, had not made a credible case for war with Iraq, and was violating constitutional principles by sending troops into combat. He spoke of the Declaration of Independence, and how its writers vowed to be free of England, where their lives were ruled and determined by one man. "The constant rhetoric of the administration is that there's going to be one person who decides when we go to war," he said, "and that is such a blatant violation of every constitutional principle that our founding fathers came up with. . . . And I believe that this war is not the right thing for America because it hasn't yet been proven conclusively that there is a threat to 'we the people' – and I think that is the sole determining factor as to whether or not this nation should ever go to war." . . . Yet he went to Iraq, believing it to be his duty. And continued, even in the midst of combat, to exercise his belief in nonviolent resolution. One of his commanders wrote a letter after his death explaining a situation in which John negotiated a peaceful settlement to a potentially deadly situation. A group of Baath Party officials were found inside a house. Because he spoke Arabic, John entered the house and talked with the officials until he negotiated a surrender. His actions potentially saved the lives of both U.S. soldiers and Iraqis. . . . In letters home, John described the peace movement as "awesome," and said he hoped it would grow larger, never relent against the Bush administration, and help bring an end to the war. . . . Around June 20, those letters stopped. . . . Nancy Lessin, co-founder of Military Families Speak Out, says more people are becoming outraged now that the war against Iraq has turned into a highly risky occupation. . . . "Too many U.S. military personnel and way too many innocent Iraqis have been killed," she says. "And what we predicted to be true has come true, that there are no weapons of mass destruction. Everything we said was going to happen is coming to pass, and one of the most frightening aspects of this is that the people of this country haven't completely risen up in opposition to what's going on." . . . Her words are echoed, and answered, by John's. Before he was deployed, John wrote a final letter as part of his will. . . . "That I have died means I have failed to achieve the one thing in life I truly longed to give the world – peace," the letter reads. "The plight of human suffering consumed me and I dedicated much to trying to find the ideas that might lead humankind toward alleviating it for all. It was a quest which was inextricably intertwined with my quest for freedom. If you know anything about me you know that. Understand it and come to understand how the suffering of others tormented my soul. Then seek to honor my memory by trying to achieve what I could not."
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posted by Lorenzo 2:50 PM

Senator Kerry: End US Occupation of Iraq

(Agence France-Presse, trutuout, 16 July 2003)
US Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry called for an end to the US occupation of Iraq and criticized the administration's use of now discredited intelligence as a basis for launching the war. "I fought in Vietnam, and half the wall -- half the (Vietnam Veterans Memorial) wall -- is filled with the names of people who were there because leaders were filled with pride and wouldn't make the right decisions," Kerry told NBC television. . . . "We need to get the sense of American occupation over with. We need to protect our troops. And that means that pride should not prevent this administration from going to the United Nations and doing what they should have done in the first place," he declared. . . . "Remember the old saying, Harry Truman's saying, 'The buck stops here'? Right now, apparently, the buck stops at Langley (CIA headquarters). And there are a lot of questions about the political input to this intelligence," Kerry told NBC's "Today" show. . . . The US senator for Massachusetts, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, also criticized the administration's efforts leading up to the war in Iraq, launched on March 20. . . . "I made it very clear that their diplomacy leading up to the war was inadequate," Kerry said. . . . "I said I thought the president should have even done more diplomacy before he went to war. I said to the president, 'Mr. President, don't rush to war. You need to build the large coalition necessary in order to win the peace.' . . . "And I said very clearly, winning the war was not what was difficult, it's winning the peace," Kerry said. "And I don't think the president put a plan together to do that."
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posted by Lorenzo 1:49 PM

QUAGMIRE II: It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Like This
(Carol Brightman, AlterNet, July 14, 2003)
"Quit beating around the bush," snaps the Wall Street Journal: "America faces a guerrilla war." And so it does. But an odd paralysis still grips the U.S. military command. While the number of American soldiers killed or wounded in ambushes increases by the day, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and proconsul Paul Bremer continue to speak of "remnants" and "bitter-enders" who can't get with the program, even as word spreads through the ranks that there is a well-organized resistance campaign underway in Iraq. . . . In prewar Pentagon estimates, this was to be a different war. Occupation forces would be quickly cut to 30,000 to 40,000. Small contingents of peacekeepers would remain to safeguard the reconstruction of Iraq's infrastructure, including oil pipelines and wellheads, and the building of four American military bases (one, called "intelligence city," already underway in the North). . . . In prewar Pentagon estimates, this was to be a different war. Occupation forces would be quickly cut to 30,000 to 40,000. Small contingents of peacekeepers would remain to safeguard the reconstruction of Iraq's infrastructure, including oil pipelines and wellheads, and the building of four American military bases (one, called "intelligence city," already underway in the North). . . . Thus, there is a grim irony to the fact that the first pillar of Middle East policy to fall in occupied Iraq is the credibility of American power. Iraqis express surprise, frustration, and fury that months after "victory" was declared, the "Authority," as the Coalition Provisional Authority is called, is unable to bring order to Baghdad. Looting and sabotage continue; electricity runs only intermittently; water and sewage systems remain unrepaired; food distribution is spotty; and medical services, overloaded with mounting casualties from the fighting, are near collapse. Meanwhile, there are no jobs for a vast unemployed workforce, which includes hundreds of thousands of demobilized Iraqi soldiers and Baathist office workers dismissed by the Authority without pay. . . . It's hard to imagine a set of conditions more conducive to the conversion of a desperate citizenry into partisans for resistance. Moreover, when you consider that civilian deaths from the three-week war are estimated at 5,500 to 7,000, with military deaths exceeding 10,000, and overall nonfatal casualties totaling 50,000 – all together touching family and friends reaching into the millions – you have another grave condition feeding insurrection. . . . That the resistance will ultimately dwarf Baathist "bitter-enders" (who now include – another grim irony – Saddam himself) seems quite possible, especially if elements of the volatile majority of Shi'ites in the South enter the fray, along with increasing numbers of non-Iraqis. . . . No wonder many American soldiers are demoralized and angry. Some have written their congressmen requesting repatriation. "Most soldiers would empty their bank accounts just for a plane ticket home," runs one such letter, quoted last week in the Christian Science Monitor. And another: "The way we have been treated and the continuous lies told to our families back home has devastated us all." And another: "We feel like pawns in a game that we have no voice [in]." . . . Naturally the V-word: Vietnam, is turning up frequently in reports from the front. . . . The mix of falsehood and bad faith that feeds America's Iraqi venture is probably greater than it was at the start of the Vietnam war. But the other major difference is that all Iraq is under military occupation. The ultimate in-country authority is Gen. David McKiernan, while Paul Bremer, Baghdad's de facto mayor, reports directly to Secretary Rumsfeld. A Texas millionaire and former Army officer, Roger "Buck" Walters, governs Southern Iraq, and a career Army officer who served in Vietnam and Somalia, W. Bruce Moore, runs the North. Iraqis, an educated people with some experience of empire are unlikely to kowtow to this kind of slapdash corporate-style administration. . . . What Team Bush faces in Iraq is more than guerrilla war. It is the first crack in the larger Mideast campaign in which Iraq was the starting point. This is the vision that has intoxicated defense planners such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and Kenneth Pollack for a decade. It's the dream of imposing a Pax Americana on the Arab world that is modeled on the imperial order Britain imposed in an earlier era. And it's off to a bloody bad start.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:31 PM

Mysterious Diseases Haunt U.S. Troops In Iraq
(IslamOnline.net, July 17, 2003)
Several mysterious diseases were reported among a number of American troops within the vicinity of Baghdad airport, a military source closely close to NATO unveiled. . . . U.S. soldiers deployed around Baghdad airport started showing symptoms of mysterious fever, itching, scars and dark brown spots on the skin . . . He asserted that three soldiers who suffered these symptoms did not respond to medical treatment in Iraqi hospitals and were flown to Washington for medication. . . . The military source reported a media blackout by U.S. officials to hide such information from the public. . . . U.S. officials did not come up with an explanation for the symptoms, which NATO experts tend to believe result from direct exposure to powerful nuclear radiations of the sophisticated B-2 bombs used in the war on Iraq, particularly in striking Iraqi Republican Guards forces who deployed to defend the vicinity of Baghdad airport. . . . The military source stressed that the shrouds of secrecy imposed by American officials on the issue were prompted by fears of creating waves of panic and anger among the troops, particularly after announcements that American troops would remain in Iraq indefinitely. . . . He asserted that NATO experts measured levels of radioactive pollution in Iraq and confirmed there were levels of radioactive pollution with destructive impacts on man and environment that may lead to risks suffered by generations to come. . . . On April 25, the British Observer quoted military sources as affirming that depleted uranium shells and bombs used by U.S. and British troops during Iraq invasion were five times more than the number used during 1991 Gulf war. . . . The Pentagon had admitted shelling Iraq with about 350 tons of depleted uranium in 1991, aggravating cancerous tumors cases among Iraqis.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:22 AM

The spies who pushed for war
(The Guardian, July 17, 2003)
As the CIA director, George Tenet, arrived at the Senate yesterday to give secret testimony on the Niger uranium affair, it was becoming increasingly clear in Washington that the scandal was only a small, well-documented symptom of a complete breakdown in US intelligence that helped steer America into war. . . . It represents the Bush administration's second catastrophic intelligence failure. But the CIA and FBI's inability to prevent the September 11 attacks was largely due to internal institutional weaknesses. . . . This time the implications are far more damaging for the White House, which stands accused of politicising and contaminating its own source of intelligence. . . . senior administration figures created a shadow agency of Pentagon analysts staffed mainly by ideological amateurs to compete with the CIA and its military counterpart, the Defence Intelligence Agency. . . . The agency, called the Office of Special Plans (OSP), was set up by the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to second-guess CIA information and operated under the patronage of hardline conservatives in the top rungs of the administration, the Pentagon and at the White House, including Vice-President Dick Cheney. . .. The ideologically driven network functioned like a shadow government, much of it off the official payroll and beyond congressional oversight. But it proved powerful enough to prevail in a struggle with the State Department and the CIA by establishing a justification for war. . . . Under pressure from the hawks such as Mr Cheney and Mr Gingrich, those officers became reluctant to discard anything, no matter how far-fetched. The OSP also sucked in countless tips from the Iraqi National Congress and other opposition groups, which were viewed with far more scepticism by the CIA and the state department. . . . There was a mountain of documentation to look through and not much time. The administration wanted to use the momentum gained in Afghanistan to deal with Iraq once and for all. The OSP itself had less than 10 full-time staff, so to help deal with the load, the office hired scores of temporary "consultants". They included lawyers, congressional staffers, and policy wonks from the numerous rightwing thinktanks in Washington. Few had experience in intelligence. . . . They surveyed data and picked out what they liked," said Gregory Thielmann, a senior official in the state department's intelligence bureau until his retirement in September. "The whole thing was bizarre. The secretary of defence had this huge defence intelligence agency, and he went around it." . . . In fact, the OSP's activities were a com plete mystery to the DIA and the Pentagon. . . . The OSP was an open and largely unfiltered conduit to the White House not only for the Iraqi opposition. It also forged close ties to a parallel, ad hoc intelligence operation inside Ariel Sharon's office in Israel specifically to bypass Mossad and provide the Bush administration with more alarmist reports on Saddam's Iraq than Mossad was prepared to authorise. . . . "None of the Israelis who came were cleared into the Pentagon through normal channels," said one source familiar with the visits. Instead, they were waved in on Mr Feith's authority without having to fill in the usual forms. . . . The exchange of information continued a long-standing relationship Mr Feith and other Washington neo-conservatives had with Israel's Likud party. . . . In 1996, he and Richard Perle - now an influential Pentagon figure - served as advisers to the then Likud leader, Binyamin Netanyahu. In a policy paper they wrote, entitled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, the two advisers said that Saddam would have to be destroyed, and Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iran would have to be overthrown or destabilised, for Israel to be truly safe. . . . The Israeli influence was revealed most clearly by a story floated by unnamed senior US officials in the American press, suggesting the reason that no banned weapons had been found in Iraq was that they had been smuggled into Syria. Intelligence sources say that the story came from the office of the Israeli prime minister.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:11 AM

Ayoon wa Azan (Pretexts For A Lying War)
(Jihad Al Khazen, Al-Hayat, 2003/07/15)
We all wanted Saddam Hussein to fall, and we all rejoiced during his collapse. But the war was waged because the Israeli gang in the U.S. administration planned it for purely Israeli reasons, sacrificing the lives of Americans, British and Iraqis. . . . As I was reading the details about the lies that Washington and London set jointly, and I was not one bit surprised to find out that two Sharonist advocates, Michael Ledeen and Barbara Amiel were launching a counter attack, as the first one attacked Reuters and the second attacked the British Radio council. . . . George Bush lied in his State of the Union address last January. His Secretary of State Colin Powell also lied in his report to the Security Council last February. The British government lied in its report about the banned Iraqi weapons last September, and once again in its second report issued last February. . . . Today, the U.S. is paying the lives of its youth as the price of the Israeli gang's conspiracy to serve Israel, while General Tommy Franks told Congress last week that violence would go on for the time being in Iraq. The American civil governor in Iraq, Paul Bremer, wrote an article on Sunday in the New York Times, in which he asserts that the attacks are of no strategic danger to the U.S. or to democracy in Iraq. . . . Why would the U.S. make a mistake in setting the reasons for war, with the UK for an ally, and then the claimed "allies" (the U.S. and some followers) would still pay the price? British newspapers published last week the results of surveys showing a decrease in supporters for the war in Britain, while American newspapers also said that Bush's supporters fell 9 points in 18 days, reaching hence 59 per cent according to the last survey, knowing that it was once 90 per cent. . . . It would only be fair for those who planned the war to pay the price with Saddam Hussein and with the innocent Iraqi, American and British victims who were absurdly dragged into this battle, even though I personally am in favor for Saddam's collapse.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:59 PM

Time Magazine Exposes Bush as a Liar
(Michael Duffy and James Carney, Time, July 13, 2003)
The State of the Union message ... is the most important speech a President gives each year, written and rewritten and then polished again. Yet the address George W. Bush gave on Jan. 28 was more consequential than most because he was making a revolutionary case: why a nation that traditionally didn't start fights should wage a pre-emptive war. . . . a single sentence that had already been the subject of considerable internal debate for nearly a year. It was a line that had launched a dozen memos, several diplomatic tugs of war and some mysterious, last-minute pencil editing. The line—"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" . . . Last week the White House finally admitted that Bush should have jettisoned the claim. Designed to end a long-simmering controversy, the admission instead sparked a bewildering four days of changing explanations and unusually nasty finger pointing by the normally disciplined Bush team. That performance raised its own questions, which went to the core of the Administration's credibility: Where else did the U.S. stretch evidence to generate public support for the war? If so many doubted the uranium allegations, who inside the government kept putting those allegations on the table? And did the CIA go far enough to keep the bad intelligence out? . . . Making the case against Saddam last year, Bush claimed that Iraq's links to al-Qaeda and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) made the country an imminent threat to the region and, eventually, the U.S. He wrapped the evidence in the even more controversial doctrine of pre-emption, saying America could no longer wait for proof of its enemies' intentions before defending itself overseas—it must sometimes strike first, even without all the evidence in hand. Much of the world was appalled by this logic, but Congress and the American public went along. Four months after the war started, at least one piece of key evidence has turned out to be false, the U.S. has yet to find weapons of mass destruction, and American soldiers keep dying in a country that has not greeted its liberators the way the Administration predicted it would. Now the false assertion and the rising casualties are combining to take a toll on Bush's standing with the public. . . . The unseen threat of a Saddam with WMD was an argument that played to Bush's strengths. As a politician, Bush has always been better at asserting his case than at making it. After 9/11, his sheer certitude—and the faith Americans had in his essential trustworthiness—led Americans to overwhelmingly support him. The yellowcake affair may have already changed that relationship, for as the casualties mount in Iraq, polls suggest that some of that faith is eroding. Which means the next time Bush tells the nation where he wants to go, it may not be so quick to follow.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:51 PM

U.S. Troops to Stay Longer in Iraq
(Nadim Ladki, Reuters, July 15, 2003)
The U.S. military announced thousands of key soldiers would be staying in Iraq indefinitely even as the number of American combat deaths neared the 1991 Gulf War total. . . . two former U.N. weapons inspectors kept up the pressure, with one accusing Bush of going to war based on "a lie." . . . In an abrupt about-face, the U.S. military said Monday thousands of troops from the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) would stay in Iraq until further notice instead of returning by September in line with an announcement only last week. . . . The division has already had a protracted stay in Iraq since it was the first American unit to enter Baghdad during the war. . . . A U.S. soldier was killed in a Baghdad ambush Monday, bringing the death toll of U.S. troops killed in hostile action since U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq on March 20 to 146, one less than the 1991 war over Kuwait. . . . Thirty-two U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq since Bush declared major combat over on May 1. . . . The growing death toll has intensified pressure on the Bush administration to defend itself against charges that it misled the public by using dubious intelligence to justify the war. . . . An Israeli diplomatic source, speaking during a visit to London by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, leapt to Bush's defense, saying Israel and Britain had reached the conclusion Iraq had weapons of mass destruction separately from Washington. . . . "These three countries independently reached the same understanding of the potential dangers....It is hard to believe all those forces reached the same conclusion (without it being true)," the source said. . . . Former U.N. arms inspectors Scott Ritter and Hans Blix, meanwhile, continued to dispute Bush's version of events. . . . "The entire case the Bush administration made against Iraq is a lie," Ritter told reporters at U.N. headquarters, while Blix told Denmark's Politiken daily Washington, London and their allies had ignored his advice on Iraq's banned weapons. . . . Underlining the security threats in postwar Iraq, two previously unknown Iraqi groups Tuesday warned countries against sending troops to the occupied country. . . . The U.S. military is braced for a surge in attacks this week to coincide with anniversaries linked to Saddam, his Baath Party and Iraqi nationalism.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:30 PM

Bush shifts the blame for his Iraq whopper
(William Saletan, Slate.msn.com, July 14, 2003)
When George W. Bush ran for president, one of his big selling points was responsibility. Americans were tired of Bill Clinton's fudges and legalisms. They were tired of hearing that the latest falsehood was part of a larger truth, or that it was OK because the president had attributed it to somebody else, or that the country should "move on." Bush promised to end all that. He promised an "era of responsibility" in which leaders and citizens would no longer "blame somebody else." ... [but here is what he does instead] . . . 1. It's the CIA's fault. ... 2. It's the speechwriters' fault. ... 3. It's true that Britain said it. ... 4. It's part of a larger truth. ... 5. It's time to move on. ... It's fitting that Fleischer asks us to move on from the uranium story as he prepares to move on to a new career in the private sector. We'd like to move on, too, Ari. It's just that when it comes to presidential responsibility, we seem to be moving in circles.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:16 PM

Political death of a usurper
(George Galloway, The Guardian, July 14, 2003)
Always travelling light on ideological baggage, never having won or wanted the affection of the Labour clan, Blair's main asset was his "Trust me, I'm a regular guy" reputation. Now it is gone and will never be recovered. . . . In their occupation of Iraq, the US and British armies have entered the gates of hell. Soon it will be 100 degrees at midnight in Baghdad, but there will be no respite from the need for full body armour. In two weeks, armed attacks on coalition forces have nearly doubled to 25 per day. More than 200 have been wounded and over 40 killed in combat since "victory" was declared by President Bush. Morale among US forces is dropping towards Vietnam-type levels, with heavy drug consumption, and commanders turning a blind eye to the prostituting of Iraqi women. No doubt the spectre of troops "fragging" overly strict officers is on their minds. . . . So hot is the welcome to these "liberators" that the US has now evacuated its forces from both the vast campus of Baghdad University and from the hub of the sharpest armed action, in Fallujah. The latter gives the lie to the repeated calumny that those fighting the occupation are merely "Saddamist remnants". In truth, Fallujah is the heartland of the Jubbur tribe, arch-enemies of Saddam whose leaders were purged by the Takriti Ba'ath party bosses more than a decade ago. . . . Throughout the Calvary of Vietnam, resistance was routinely described as coming from unrepresentative "hardline elements" or outside the country's borders. The deeper Johnson and Nixon sank into the quagmire, the more they spread the war, to neighbouring Cambodia and new killing fields. Look out for "hot pursuit" operations in the months to come into Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran. . . . the "Iraqi Governing Council" - handpicked by Iraq's US governor, Paul Bremer - make South Vietnam's General Thieu look like an authentic national leader. Without hundreds of thousands of foreign troops, they would be swept away in a gale of derision. . . . Iraqis want Britain and America out of their country, that much is abundantly clear. Only independently supervised elections to a constituent assembly can produce Iraqi leaders fit to face the outside world and rebuild their country. . . . Tony Blair can run around the world on grand diplomatic tours. He can bask in the adulation of the Republican right in the US Congress. But he cannot hide from the fact that he has lost the plot at home.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:02 PM

More Missing Intelligence: Mossad and the Forged Documents
(ROBERT DREYFUSS, Information Clearinghouse, June 20, 2003)
As the Pentagon scours Iraq for weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi links to Al Qaeda, it's increasingly obvious that the Bush Administration either distorted or deliberately exaggerated the intelligence used to justify the war against Iraq. But an even bigger intelligence scandal is waiting in the wings: the fact that members of the Administration failed to produce an intelligence evaluation of what Iraq might look like after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Instead, they ignored fears expressed by analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department who predicted that postwar Iraq would be chaotic, violent and ungovernable, and that Iraqis would greet the occupying armies with firearms, not flowers. . . . The same unit [the Office of Special Plans] that fed Chalabi's intelligence on WMD to Rumsfeld was also feeding him Chalabi's stuff on the prospects for postwar Iraq," said a leading US government expert on the Middle East. Says a former US ambassador with strong links to the CIA: "There was certainly information coming from the Iraqi exile community, including Chalabi--who was detested by the CIA and by the State Department--saying, 'They will welcome you with open arms.'" Rumsfeld's willingness to accept that view led him to contradict the Chief of Staff of the US Army, who predicted that it would take hundreds of thousands of troops to control Iraq after the fall of Baghdad, a view that seems prescient today. . . . According to the former official, also feeding information to the Office of Special Plans was a secret, rump unit established last year in the office of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel. This unit, which paralleled Shulsky's--and which has not previously been reported--prepared intelligence reports on Iraq in English (not Hebrew) and forwarded them to the Office of Special Plans. It was created in Sharon's office, not inside Israel's Mossad intelligence service, because the Mossad--which prides itself on extreme professionalism--had views closer to the CIA's, not the Pentagon's, on Iraq. This secretive unit, and not the Mossad, may well have been the source of the forged documents purporting to show that Iraq tried to purchase yellowcake uranium for weapons from Niger in West Africa, according to the former official. . . . That's a question that ought to disturb Karl Rove's sleep. And it might be a question that Democratic would-be opponents of the President ought to ponder. A massive failure of US intelligence has led to an emerging disaster in postwar Iraq. It's a true crisis, and one that could determine the fate of Bush's presidency. In Watergate, the refrain was: "What did the President know, and when did he know it?" Let me suggest a question for Bush, the know-nothing GOP standard-bearer in 2004: "What didn't the President know, and when didn't he know it?"
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posted by Lorenzo 9:13 PM

Thought for the day
Americans aren't the only ones dying for Bush's sins, of course. Thousands of Iraqis perished in the war and others were blinded, maimed and orphaned. And though many rightfully argue that Iraqis would continue to be tortured had Saddam stayed in power, those who use Saddam's cruelty as justification for the lies that usurped our democracy often sidestep crucial information. Though mass graves are certainly testimony to Saddam's barbarity, rarely do Bush apologists mention that some of these graves contain the remains of Shiites George H. W. Bush urged to rise up against Saddam, nor do they address why America installed a strong-arm dictator in the first place.
--Maureen Farrell, BuzzFlash, July 11, 2003
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posted by Lorenzo 3:24 PM

Washington and London governments embroiled in lies over Iraq
(Granma International, Havana July 12, 2003)
The CIA and the U.S. and British governments are embroiled in contradictions over lies concerning the aggression against Iraq and are now publicly disputing the issue. . . . The famed secret British report was taken from a student thesis written 10 years previously, and the British government similarly adopted it to justify the aggression. . . . Bush also assured that Baghdad was attempting to manufacture nuclear weapons, but prior to that, the intelligence agency revealed that it had warned Washington that there was no nuclear program. . . . For its part, ANSA reported that Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont and one of the Democrat candidates for the 2004 presidential elections, has called for the resignation of all U.S. government members who contributed to concealing the falsity of claims concerning the purchase of uranium attributed to Iraq. . . .
Retired general Wesley Clark, former NATO commander in chief in Europe, who is considering running as the Democratic presidential candidate in the 2004 elections, informed Newsweek that the world expects something more from a U.S. president than to strut about the deck of a aircraft carrier in pilot’s uniform. He should be a great leader and instead he is a little charlatan. . . . Clark has done nothing concrete to date other than to launch extremely harsh attacks on the president, George W. Bush, while his followers have opened an Internet website to collect funds.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:22 PM

The British were lied to about WMD
Mr Rumsfeld's commentaries on the origins of the war highlight the real falsity in the British position. This was a war made in Washington, pushed by a handful of neo-conservatives and pursued for reasons of US foreign strategy and domestic politics. What made this war inevitable was not an increased threat from Iraq, but a regime change in the US. And weapons of mass destruction were never the primary concern of the Bush administration in the way that they had to appear in Britain to persuade Parliament of the urgent need for war. . . . Tony Blair owes those who supported him a frank admission that there was no "real and present danger", a commitment to a searching inquiry into what went wrong, and a firm resolve to keep a greater distance between himself and the neo-cons around the White House.
(The Independent, July 11, 2003)
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posted by Lorenzo 2:12 PM

Is the Media Finally Turning on Bush? ... The Importance of Tipping
(DAVID LINDORFF, CounterPunch, July 9, 2003)
When does the situation facing American troops in Iraq deteriorate to the point that public sentiment "tips" against further U.S. involvement and against the Bush administration's policy of occupation and "nation building"? . . . Already 70 American soldiers have died in Iraq since virtual fly-boy Bush prematurely declared the war to be "over" in a staged victory rally aboard an aircraft carrier off San Diego harbor. . . . A search for the terms "guerrilla war" and "Iraq" turns up hundreds of citations, most dating from about the middle of June onward. Some, like an article on June 18 in the Detroit Free Press, simply use the term "guerrilla war" in news reports as an unremarkable and most apt characterization of the current military situation in Iraq. Others, like an article on June 23 in the Christian Science Monitor, use the term in editorials warning that the situation threatens to become a "quagmire," (another Vietnam-era term that's returning to currency). Still others use the term in articles warning that the current crisis is heading towards a Vietnam-like situation. . . . Any way you look at it, there is a growing acceptance in the media that the U.S. is not in control of events in Iraq, is not being viewed as a liberator by Iraqi people, and is facing mounting military threats. . . . If the American media continue to increasingly portray Iraq as a dangerous hell hole for American soldiers, and continue to play up the American body count each day, the American public will quickly start to view this Bush military adventure they way they came to view President Johnson's military adventure in Indochina--as a disaster. . . . In Bush's case, on the other hand, the blame for any military disaster in Iraq belongs unambiguously with him and his advisers. This was a war quite publicly started by Bush, and it is widely understood already that he started it based upon lies made to the American public. . . . Why the sudden shift in the U.S. media, from unabashed war boosterism to increasing skepticism? The answer is simple: the continued killing of American troops. . . . We are hooked on these stories because they get us angry--first of course at those who are doing the killing, but before too long, also at those in power who are putting our "boys" in harm's way. . . . Add to that the growing awareness that the reasons for sending American troops into Iraq were bogus in the first place, and you quickly shift to a broad opposition to administration policy. . . . Already, Iraq is at a point like Vietnam in the late 1960s, where the government realizes that it can't just declare victory and leave, because it's clear that when U.S. troops leave, a new regime will take power that will be strongly anti-American. . . . The longer U.S. forces remain in Iraq, the more American soldiers die at the hands of Iraqi fighters, the harder it will be for Bush and his advisers to call it quits. . . . Hence the talk of sending more troops to Iraq, in hopes of quelling the insurrection. . . . A president running for election during a popular war, or a war for the nation's survival, can be hard to beat. . . . A president running for election during an unpopular war, and a war that the American public doesn't even see as having anything to do with the nation's security, is another thing entirely. . . . This could turn out to be a very interesting presidential election campaign.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:59 PM

President Facing New Challenges of Credibility and Casualties
(ABCNews, July 11, 2003)
The administration faces trouble on credibility and casualties alike. Half the public thinks it "intentionally exaggerated" evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And 52 percent, a majority for the first time, call the level of U.S. casualties "unacceptable." . . . While 57 percent still say the war was worth fighting, that's fallen from 70 percent as the main fighting wound down at the end of April. Eighty percent now express concern about getting "bogged down in a long and costly peacekeeping mission"; 43 percent are "very concerned" about that outcome, up 11 points since last month. . . . Bush's own ratings have suffered in tandem with these concerns. His approval rating for handling the situation in Iraq has fallen by 17 points since the end of April, from 75 percent then to 58 percent now. . . . Rather than a sudden shift, most of these changes have occurred gradually over the last month, in the face of continued disorder in Iraq and disclosures about the administration's WMD evidence. The trends don't help Bush with an election year approaching: Most Americans have seen the Iraq war as an extension of the war on terrorism, and that effort has been the wellspring of his popularity. His ratings on other issues have been far lower; in this poll, for instance, just 47 percent approve of his work on the economy.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:09 PM

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posted by Lorenzo 5:52 PM

Baghdad Journal: The Clock Is Ticking
(Medea Benjamin, AlterNet, July 9, 2003)
The International Occupation Watch Center in Baghdad will be an on-the-ground effort to get out reliable information to the global peace movement about the actions of the occupying forces and U.S. companies. The center will also support emerging Iraqi independent groups and serve as a hub for international visitors who want to support Iraqi efforts to end the occupation and rebuild their country. . . . As we waited for our passports to be processed, we talked to a dozen more soldiers. They didn't speak the language or understand the culture here. Their bodies weren't conditioned for the oppressive heat that shot up to 120 degrees in the shade. They were sick of eating tasteless military rations ("What I'd give for a REAL meal," one of the boys said wistfully). They were mostly young kids dreaming about their girlfriends and families and air-conditioning and hamburgers. All they wanted was to be sent back home -- "Yesterday wouldn't be soon enough," said a freckle-faced recruit from Wisconsin. . . . They had come to fight a war and now found themselves patrolling the border, searching for stolen goods or fake passports. While they were good-natured to us, they were gruff with the Iraqis. They barked orders at them in English, with hand signals. "Stop, pull your car over, get out, get in line." . . . The Iraqis waiting in line for their entry stamps looked tired, hungry and exasperated at having their country's border controlled by 18-year-old foreigners strutting around with guns or sitting atop heavily armored humvees and tanks. The whole scene was unnerving, a flashback to the days of British colonialism. The U.S. weaponry might be modern, but the model of occupying someone else's country is definitely an old one. Just from watching the scene at the border, you could smell trouble. . . . At our hotel, the Andaluz Apartments, where we stayed earlier this year, the owners and staff greeted us with joy and open arms. We were delighted to find them all in one piece, but they told us their terrifying stories of living through the invasion. The manager's home had been bombed by mistake, and several journalists had been killed in the hotel across the road by U.S. munitions. When we asked about conditions right now, their biggest complaints were about two things: the lack of security and the lack of electricity. . . . The "Ali Babas" had already looted and gutted just about every government building; now they break into businesses and homes, even pulling people from their cars to steal the vehicle. Stories of girls being kidnapped and raped make many women afraid to leave their homes. Gunfire could be heard in different parts of the city every night. . . . Without fans or air-conditioning, working and sleeping is misery. Without refrigeration, food goes rancid. Without electricity, water pumps don't work. Without electricity, gas can't be pumped into cars. Without electricity, traffic lights don't work; roads are clogged and utterly chaotic. And without electricity, the streets are dark at night, so thieves roam at will. . . . And for the lucky few who have jobs, the salaries are totally inadequate to compensate for the rising prices. . . . most of the people we meet say their lives were better before -- under Saddam Hussein -- than they are now. Before, at least there was order. Before at least they had jobs and salaries, electricity and water. Before, at least women were not afraid to walk the streets. Many ask "How come the Americans were so prepared and competent when it came to making the war but so utterly unprepared and incompetent when it comes to rebuilding?" . . . Every day, the United States appears to be losing ground here in Iraq. There are an average of 13 attacks a day on the occupation forces . . . They said if conditions in Iraq do not improve soon -- a month, two months, six months -- it won't be just Saddam loyalists or Shi'ite fundamentalists but ordinary Iraqis who will fight to get rid of the Americans. "We have a 9,000-year-old culture, you have a 200-year-old culture," one of the men said. "I think we can figure out our own future." . . . Some are so puzzled that they have concluded that the United States is purposely trying to destroy every aspect of the economy so that they can come in and rebuild it in their own image. Others attribute the mess to incompetence, arrogance or stupidity.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:49 PM

Clueless Army Wives
(John deLaubenfels, Strike The Root, July 9, 2003)

A recent article in the Guardian tells of the frustration of military families in Hinesville, "The Fastest Growing Town in South-Eastern Georgia," adjacent to the now-deserted Fort Stewart. Relatives of troops stationed in Iraq are understandably anxious for their loved ones, and are irritated that their deployment has stretched on months longer than expected, with no promised end in sight. That said, I feel compelled to do some bashing after reading the inane quotes in the Guardian. These people (the ones who are willing to speak on the record, at least) are absolutely clueless as to why Iraqis aren't welcoming Americans with open arms. One woman's offering: "I do feel some anger towards Iraqi people. We're just trying to help them." Riiiiight. Or how about this gem: "I thought they would be more enthusiastic. I mean, who wouldn't want to live like Americans, to live in democracy, to send your children to school? I'm surprised at how naive the Iraqis are. Who wouldn't want to have freedom? It's hard for me to understand that they don't grasp the concept."

By all means, let us talk about concepts that need to be grasped, shall we, Ms. Army Wife? Why not begin with a very simple, very obvious mental exercise: The tables are turned. YOUR country, the United States, is being invaded by self-proclaimed "liberators," and YOUR neighborhood has foreign troops rolling through it. YOUR front door is smashed down by the invaders, your house is ransacked in front of your terrified children, your savings are stolen, and your husband and son are taken without explanation to an unknown destination and fate. If that's not enough to paint a horrifyingly vivid picture, let's throw in that the invaders have religious and personal habits you find offensive, even repulsive. Not only that, they have the arrogant attitude that their way of seeing things is the only valid way, and they sneer openly at your deeply held beliefs to the contrary. Are we starting to "grasp the concept" yet?

Naive? It is hard to imagine greater naivety than the belief that one's country can do no wrong, even as it invades and flattens nations that have never picked a fight with us. This would seem to be about as close as it gets in Hinesville, U.S.A., to genuine criticism of our nation's imperial actions in Iraq: "One wife expressed anxiety about President George Bush's 'bring them on' invitation to Iraqi guerrillas this week, but she stressed that she did not want her name mentioned. 'I support George Bush one hundred per cent,' she said, almost with her next breath."

That's pathetic. Bush has proven time and time again, through his incoherent and irresponsible behavior, that he is a liar, a thief, and a murderer, who is out to line the pockets of his already-rich friends at the expense of everyone else. He, and the like-minded souls who whisper in his ear, are the true threats to the world's citizens, American and otherwise.

So here's to the safe and speedy return of all America's troops. In that spirit, I have to say to the families in Hinesville and elsewhere, that you would better serve your loved ones if you stopped pretending that the Iraq war was justified, and stopped pretending that Bush and his cronies are good, decent human beings. The longer you hide in self-willed ignorance, the more likely you will live to see your son, husband, daughter, or wife come home in a body bag.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:21 AM

Iraq Attacks Wound Seven U.S. Soldiers
(Paul Haven, The Associated Press, 08 July 2003)
A blistering series of attacks, coming nearly hourly, wounded seven U.S. soldiers in Iraq on Tuesday . . . Tuesday brought fresh attacks in what has become a bloody and uncertain peace for coalition forces. . . . Insurgents dropped a homemade bomb from a bridge onto a passing U.S. military convoy in Baghdad, wounding two soldiers. Another two soldiers were injured when their vehicle struck a land mine in the capital, said Sgt. Patrick Compton, a military spokesman. . . . In Kirkuk, 175 miles north of the capital, assailants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a military convoy, wounding three servicemen. The patrol returned fire, but there was no word of Iraqi casualties or arrests. . . . Witnesses said three Iraqis - including a 13-year-old boy - were killed following a grenade attack on a police station in a Baghdad suburb. Witnesses told Associated Press Television News the soldiers returned fire, but that those who died had not attacked the police station. . . . Late Monday, insurgents fired mortars at a base near Balad, 55 miles north of the capital, the military said. U.S. forces subsequently caught 12 of the suspected attackers. . . . Since President Bush declared major combat in Iraq over on May 1, 29 U.S. servicemen have been killed by hostile fire and 44 others have died in accidents and other non-hostile circumstances, a total of 73.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:06 PM

President Bush Finally Admits He Misled the Nation During State of the Union Address ... Congressional Inquiry Called For
(Press Release from Rep. Jan Schakowsky, July 8, 2003)
"After months of denials, President Bush has finally admitted that he misled the American public during his State of the Union address when claimed that Iraq attempted to purchase uranium in Africa. That is why we need an independent commission to determine the veracity of the other so-called evidence used to convince the American people that war with Iraq was unavoidable.

"It is not enough for the White House to issue a statement saying that President Bush should not have used that piece of intelligence in his State of the Union address at a time when he was trying to convince the American people that invading Iraq was in our national security interests. Did the president know then what he says he only knows now? If not, why not, since that information was available at the highest level.

"What else did the Bush Administration lie about? What other faulty information did Administration officials, including President Bush, tell the American people and the world? Did the Bush Administration knowingly deceive us and manufacture intelligence in order to build public support for the invasion of Iraq? Did Iraq really pose an imminent threat to our nation?

"These questions must be answered. The American people deserve to know the full truth."

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posted by Lorenzo 12:01 PM

Growing On Lies And Threats
(Michael Gaddy, The Sierra Times, July 8, 2003)

The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitable he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is apt to spread discontent among those who are. H.L. Mencken

A recent poll, done by the University of Maryland, found that a majority of Americans now believe that President Bush "stretched the truth" or out and out lied about the evidence and threat of weapons of mass destruction used to sell the Iraqi war to the public. 10% of those polled believe the government actually presented evidence it knew to be false in the selling of the threat supposedly posed by Saddam Hussein.

32% believed the government to be totally honest in its presentation of evidence. That falls remarkably in line with the percentage of Americans who believed Bill Clinton when he claimed; "I did not have sex with that woman."

Today, the majority of people in this nation support the government out of fear. Parting with over half of their earnings for programs that do not, nor never will work, occurs because this tyranny called "taxation" is enforced with threats. We part with our hard earned money, not because we believe it is used for the good of all, but because we are afraid of the consequences of our non-compliance with tyranny.

Ever wonder why this government, with all of its military technology and spy gear, can find out anything they need to know about the citizens they rob on a daily basis and yet seem totally helpless when it comes to finding some third country rogue? (bin Laden/Saddam). Perhaps it takes too much time and energy to create the tyrant/despot de jour of our masters. Maybe there is a plan in place just to recycle them. Now, if Osama shows in Iran and Saddam is reported to be in Syria and our government uses this new "threat" to invade those countries, killing hundreds of our children and untold thousands of the innocent civilians of those countries, will we begin to catch on?

I doubt it. Not if the price at the pump shows a significant decline. Say, somewhere near the price it was before the government told us of the latest imminent threat!

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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 5:33 AM

Say It: This Is a Quagmire
(Tom Hayden, AlterNet, July 7, 2003)
On the day U.S. soldiers occupied Baghdad, draped the American flag over Saddam Hussein's statue and pulled it down, 103 GIs had died in the Iraq war. . . . The total number of American soldiers killed since the toppling of Saddam's statue is 93 by July 4, including the nine Americans killed in the bombing in Saudi Arabia. That makes a total of 196 dead so far, not including the six British soldiers killed last month. . . . The manipulation of the American body count, like the earlier manipulation of the costs of war and occupation, only feeds the growing anger among military personnel and their families . . . During the Vietnam war, troop demoralization rose as Americans continued to die while President Nixon promised that the war was winding down. A similar phenomenon appears to be happening already in the 115-degree temperatures of occupied Iraq. . . . Contrary to the expectations promoted by the Administration and media, Iraq is now a quagmire, not a cakewalk. Remember Jay Garner? Gone. Remember the cheering Iraqis with flowers? Never appeared. Remember the nukes and weapons of mass destruction? We're bribing and threatening informants. . . . No one in the media, military or political establishment can use the "Q-word" apparently, for fear of dredging up the images of Vietnam that they have been trying to erase for the past generation. . . . Quagmire is not a metaphor for Vietnam, but has a specific meaning. It is a strategic defeat. The occupier can't declare victory and can't withdraw. It's too early to be certain, but quagmire is becoming an accurate description of the American crisis . . . Ending a quagmire eventually requires a strong peace movement and public frustration. The American people have little patience with quagmires, at least those with televised casualties. That is why the percentage of Americans who think the war is going badly has shot up from 13 percent to 42 percent since Bush declared it over. In a quagmire, when body counts, costs and credibility are sufficiently worrisome, politicians step forward with plans to save the larger system by strategic retreat. . . . Who knows, the Americans may overpower the remaining Iraqi resistance, get the electricity and water running in due time, set up some Fort Apache outposts, manage to make the media withdraw, and create another ... Afghanistan. But for now, it's time to break through the denial of the media and the politicians before more Americans die while guarding Baghdad trash pits. It's time to call it what it is, a deepening quagmire.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:00 PM

Troop morale in Iraq hits 'rock bottom'
(Ann Scott Tyson, Special to The Christian Science Monitor, 7 July 2003)
US troops facing extended deployments amid the danger, heat, and uncertainty of an Iraq occupation are suffering from low morale that has in some cases hit "rock bottom." . . . Some frustrated troops stationed in Iraq are writing letters to representatives in Congress to request their units be repatriated. "Most soldiers would empty their bank accounts just for a plane ticket home," said one recent Congressional letter written by an Army soldier now based in Iraq. The soldier requested anonymity. . . . "Make no mistake, the level of morale for most soldiers that I've seen has hit rock bottom," said another soldier, an officer from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq. . . . The rethink about troop levels comes as senior military leaders voice concern that multiple deployments around the world are already taxing the endurance of US forces, the Army in particular. Some 370,000 soldiers are now deployed overseas from an Army active-duty, guard, and reserve force of just over 1 million people, according to Army figures. . . . Despite Pentagon statements before the war that the goal of US forces was to "liberate, not occupy" Iraq, Secretary Rumsfeld warned last week that the war against terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere "will not be over any time soon." . . . Currently, there are some 230,000 US troops serving in and around Iraq, including nearly 150,000 US troops inside Iraq and 12,000 from Britain and other countries. . . . "Faced with continued resistance, Department of Defense now plans to keep a larger force in Iraq than anticipated for a period of time," Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, explained . . . The open-ended deployments in Iraq are lowering morale among some ground troops, who say constantly shifting time tables are reducing confidence in their leadership. "The way we have been treated and the continuous lies told to our families back home has devastated us all," a soldier in Iraq wrote in a letter to Congress. . . . In one Army unit, an officer described the mentality of troops. "They vent to anyone who will listen. They write letters, they cry, they yell. Many of them walk around looking visibly tired and depressed.... We feel like pawns in a game that we have no voice [in]."
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posted by Lorenzo 2:07 PM

Hope for Futere Fades in IRAQ
(Tom Newton Dunn, 03 July 2003)
"Our patience has run out. We've no money to feed ourselves, we haven't been paid for six months and we're fed up with broken promises. . . . "We've told the British today that if we're not paid by Friday, we'll arm ourselves with guns again and start killing every foreigner we see in Iraq." . . . This is Basra three months after British tanks rolled in to a rapturous welcome. Instead of jubilation there is frustration. In the broiling summer heat this is a city waiting to explode. . . . Yet at any one time there are rarely more than 300 soldiers to control a seething population of two million. . . . "It breaks my heart to say this, but the British are losing the battle here. I can see the people turning against them. . . . "Unless Tony Blair sends the tanks back, and triples soldiers on the ground, he'll have a disaster on his hands. . . . "Dozens of those poor British boys who are working so hard here could lose their lives. They'll be the ones who'll get the backlash, not Blair." . . . "The Iraqis who expected so much from us are losing faith. . . . "They may be free on paper, but their everyday lives are worse than under Saddam - in some cases a lot worse. So little has been delivered. . . . It's playing into the old regime's hands. Only the most senior Ba'athists fled. Most of the others are still here waiting for when people listen to them again. That's beginning to happen". . . . OK, main streets where patrols go during the day are safe. . . . . But they never go into the back streets where it's completely different. . . . How can they? They don't have the manpower for anything. They admit it. The back streets are where this city is really being run now." . . . One mob of fanatical Shi'ite Muslims is roaming the streets beating up Iraqi women in western dress. Catching the culprits is virtually impossible.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:31 AM

Attacks By Iraqis Growing Bolder
(Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, 05 July 2003)
As many as 50 resistance fighters ambushed a U.S. military patrol early this morning, while another group wounded at least 17 soldiers in a mortar strike on an American base near here, bold attacks that demonstrated new organizational and weapons capabilities, soldiers and military officials said. . . . In Balad, a small farming town about 50 miles north of Baghdad, resistance activity already appeared to be in full swing. The mortar attack, which occurred late Thursday and wounded at least 17 members of the Army's 3rd Corps Support Command at a sprawling military base near the town, resulted in more injuries than any other single incident since President Bush declared major combat in Iraq over on May 1. The subsequent ambush of the military patrol on a highway south of Balad sparked one of the most intense clashes in the past two months, with soldiers killing 11 Iraqis during three separate firefights that spanned eight hours, military officials said. . . . When they met up with northbound reinforcements about four miles south of the attack, they were ambushed again from sunflower fields that line both sides of the road, prompting soldiers to return fire with their M-16 rifles and the Bradley's 25mm cannon. . . . McDaniel said his soldiers were fired upon for a third time when they returned to the site of the initial ambush to retrieve the bodies of the victims and collect their weapons. . . . First Sgt. Gary Gilmore of Newman, Ga., called the attack "the biggest one we've had" since Hussein's government was toppled. "They seemed to know what they were doing," he said. . . . A U.S. official said he had not heard of another attack involving as many as 50 people working together. "This is unusual and concerning," the official said. "A group of 50 suggests a degree of organization we haven't seen before." . . . Less than two hours before the first ambush, four mortar shells were fired into the grounds of Camp Anaconda, a large U.S. base near Balad, said Capt. Sandra Chavez, a press officer for the Army's 4th Infantry Division. Of the 17 soldiers hurt in the incident, two were wounded seriously, she said. . . . Military officials said the frequency of mortar attacks has increased in recent days. A mortar round landed this week within the grounds of the Baghdad International Airport, a high-security facility where the top U.S. military commander in Iraq works. In Ramadi, a town about 60 miles west of Baghdad, soldiers from the Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment have had their field headquarters, located in one of Hussein's palace compounds, pelted with mortars for three nights this week.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:10 AM

Anger Rises for Families of Troops in Iraq
(Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times, 04 July 2003)
Anger that her husband, Capt. Frank Leija, has not come home yet, even though President Bush declared two months ago that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended." Anger that the end of that stage has not meant the beginning of peace, that the Army has assigned new duties for her husband and his men that have nothing to do with toppling Saddam Hussein. . . . And anger that the talk in Washington is not of taking troops out of Iraq, but of sending more in . . . "I want my husband home," Ms. Leija, a mother of three children, said. "I am so on edge. When they first left, I thought yeah, this will be bad, but war is what they trained for. But they are not fighting a war. They are not doing what they trained for. They have become police in a place they're not welcome." . . . Since major combat for the 150,000 troops in Iraq was declared over on May 1, more than 60 Americans, including 25 killed in hostile encounters, have died in Iraq, about half the number of deaths in the two months of the initial campaign. . . . Frustrations became so bad recently at Fort Stewart, Ga., that a colonel, meeting with 800 seething spouses, most of them wives, had to be escorted from the session. . . . "They were crying, cussing, yelling and screaming for their men to come back," said Lucia Braxton, director of community services at Fort Stewart. . . . The signs of discomfort seem to be growing beyond the military bases. According to a Gallup poll published on Tuesday, the percentage of the public who think the war is going badly has risen to 42 percent, from 13 percent in May. . . . Seven soldiers from Fort Hood have been killed. More and more people are dreading that knock on the door. But there are other worries, too. War can find the weakest seam of a military marriage and split it open. After the Persian Gulf war, divorce rates at certain Army bases shot up as much as 50 percent, an Army study showed. . . . But things are becoming more intense, they said. The widening chaos in Iraq means that their husbands will stay longer, and the women do not need a poll to tell them that public opinion is shifting. . . .
"When my husband first deployed, the people at work were so sweet, giving me days off, saying take whatever time I need," recalled Ms. Franklin, who answers telephones at a financial institution near the fort. "But it's not like that today. Now they look at me kind of funny and say: `Why do you need a day off now? Isn't the war over?' "
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posted by Lorenzo 11:00 AM

Only dopes get duped
by Brendan O'Neill - 4 July 2003
'Are we feeling duped yet?' asked an American website on 26 June, in an article about the failure to find the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that Bush and Blair told us posed a 'mortal threat' to the free world. The answer seems to be a resounding 'yes'. On both sides of the Atlantic, opposition politicians, commentators, anti-war activists and even military men claim to have been conned, misled or downright duped by Bush and Blair's pre-war claims. There is something distinctly disingenuous in all this dupe-talk. Weapons and intelligence experts were picking holes in Britain and America's evidence long before the war kicked off. In the USA, there were newspaper headlines like 'Evidence on Iraq challenged' and 'Doubts over administration's case' as far back as September 2002. Britain's main dossier of evidence was ridiculed six weeks before the war started, for having been plagiarised from a student's 12-year-old PhD thesis. Who could possibly be duped by such dopey claims?

Take Jane Harman, a Democrat Congresswomen from Los Angeles who sits on the USA's House Intelligence Committee. Harman has kicked up a stink in the USA by alleging that the Bush administration's claims about Iraq's WMD were 'based on circumstantial evidence rather than hard facts', and that she and other right-thinking Democrats might have acted differently over Iraq if they had known the whole truth. What a crock. This is a woman who over the past year has sat on the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security and now the House Intelligence Committee on Iraq. She had access to the bulk of the evidence on Iraq, in all its questionable glory. And she, like a majority of her fellow Democrats, voted for Bush's war resolution in October 2002. If Harman was duped, it can only be because she wanted to be.

Or consider Clare Short. Blair's former secretary of state for international development says she and the rest of Britain were 'duped all along' by Britain's dodgy evidence. Yet Short voted against an anti-war amendment (in other words, for war) in the Iraq debate in parliament on 26 February 2003 - two weeks after the press had labelled Britain's evidence as the 'dodgy dossier', and three weeks after the BBC reported that it had received an intelligence file marked 'Top Secret', which rubbished some of the Blair government's claims about Iraq. Maybe Harman, Short and the rest should bear in mind one of the meanings of the word 'dupe': 'a person who functions as the tool of another person or power.' Or perhaps they should consider American historian Carl Becker's wise words: 'One of the first duties of man is not to be duped, to be aware of his world.'

This is a shameful spectacle. The 'debate' over Iraq has been reduced to an evidence-based affair, where the only question is over which facts are true, which aren't, and who made up what. This is politics with the politics taken out - where principle and judgement have been replaced by technical squabbles, and where no one is prepared to take responsibility for what is going on in Iraq.

Only dopes get duped. And only cowards blame others for making them make bad political judgements.

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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 2:21 PM

Occupation, resistance and the plight of the GIs
CounterPunch - Gary Leupp

"Only the Iraqis can turn the tide of public opinion in this country,
by doing what they've been doing: making imperialist occupation
costly and untenable. (Gen. Wesley Clark has actually suggested that
if armed resistance mounts the U.S. may have to consider withdrawal
next year.) Meanwhile GI feelings of betrayal, and their desire to
leave the nightmare and get back home (where many were promised
they'd be by now) may also factor into Iraq's yet uncertain future.
As in Vietnam, the troops come to resent their officers." (07/01/03)

****If you haven't bothered to try and put things into perspective (instead of listening to the adminstration try and tell you everything is hunky-dorrie), this is an enlightening piece...but that's just this old curmudgeon's opinion...****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 3:29 AM

Bring the British troops home
The long-awaited uprising in Iraq has begun - not to welcome the invaders as some imagined, but to demand their withdrawal. The spread of resistance to the south and the killing of British soldiers around Amara on Tuesday might have come as a surprise to the British public. But such developments have been anticipated within Iraq for several weeks. . . . It doesn't need much investigation to see that Saddam's tyrannical regime is being rapidly replaced by a tyranny of the occupation forces, who are killing Iraqi civilians and unleashing Vietnam-style "search and destroy" raids on Iraqi people's homes. Meanwhile, Iraqis are making it abundantly clear that what they want is freedom, independence and democracy: the same burning desires they had during Saddam's dictatorship. They have been marching in their millions since the downfall of the regime shouting "La Amreeka, La Saddam": No to America, No to Saddam. This call is now uniting most Iraqis . . . Contrary to the mythology propagated in the US and British media, popular sentiment in Iraq was always strongly against the invasion. With very few exceptions, at no time did Iraqis confuse their hatred of Saddam's brutal tyranny with their opposition to his White House sponsors. And popular opposition to the occupation and its terror tactics is the real force behind the rising tide of armed resistance. . . . The Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the highest religious authority in Iraq, has now issued a fatwa forbidding anyone from participating in Bremer's unelected consultative body and called for free elections. Last Friday, Ayatollah Hakim, leader of the influential Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution, warned that armed resistance would increase if the occupation didn't come to a swift end. Bremer's tactics in response have been ruthlessly clear: hit them hard and hit them early. . . . Some have claimed it is in the interest of the US to establish democracy in Iraq in order to stabilise the region and create opportunities for US investment and reliable oil supplies. But such a rosy scenario failed to take account of the views of the Iraqi people and the history of their protracted struggles for freedom. The dawning of this reality on the US administration helps to explain why the occupation forces are increasingly resorting to terror tactics to subdue the Iraqi people. . . . It is certainly not in Britain's interests to see the people of Iraq colonised and killed in their thousands. Nor is it right to sacrifice young British lives at the altar of US imperial designs. Only by bringing the troops home and putting pressure on the US to carry out an orderly withdrawal from Iraq can Britain return to the international fold of civilised conduct.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:56 AM

Bush foresees long, 'massive' role in Iraq
(Dana Milbank, The Boston Globe, 02 July 2003)
President Bush acknowledged yesterday that the United States faces a ''massive and long-term undertaking'' in Iraq . . . Bush delivered his statement of resolve, some of his most extensive remarks about Iraq in the two months since he declared heavy fighting was over, as Americans are expressing concern about the unrest in US-occupied Iraq and as some legislators are accusing the administration of understating the task ahead. . . . At least 31 US and British military personnel have been killed and 178 wounded in fighting in Iraq in the nine weeks since Bush announced that major combat operations had ended. . . . Amid reports of lawlessness and anti-US violence in Iraq, Americans have begun to show ambivalence about the mission. In a Gallup poll done for USA Today and CNN, respondents were divided about the prospects for success in Iraq. Only slim majorities of 56 percent thought the postwar situation was going well and the war was worthwhile . . . As part of the justification for the war in Iraq, Bush and his lieutenants described ongoing ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda. But a still-classified national intelligence report from that time raised doubts about those ties, intelligence officials have said. . . . Bush, while allowing no doubt that he believed Iraq will be swiftly converted to a stable democracy, spoke of the menace to the 230,000 US troops in and near Iraq. ''Our whole nation, especially their families, recognizes that our people in uniform face continuing danger,'' he said. . . . The messiness of postwar Iraq had provoked criticism that the administration did not adequately prepare for the difficult task of rebuilding. Before the war, Bush spoke optimistically about a clean transformation of Iraq, saying US troops would not remain in the region ''for one day longer than is necessary.'' . . . The administration, which declines to forecast the duration of the US presence in Iraq, is due to decide later this month whether it needs more troops there.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:09 AM

The American Occupation of Iraq Cannot Possibly Succeed
(The Black Commentator)
For more than a decade the Pirates-in-waiting savored the moment that U.S. tanks would cross the Rubicon of history at the Kuwaiti border, the first leg of a short march to global hegemony. In April they stepped – into space. Like Wile E. Coyote, they are absolutely incapable of finding their way back. . . . This is an occupation unlike any other in modern history. Acting solely on greed and delusions, the Pirates dismissed the collective experience of humanity to attempt the occupation of a large and sophisticated society without a reasonable expectation of collaboration from any significant segment of the population. It cannot be done, as confirmed by the daily dispatches from Iraq and beyond. . . . Unaided, the foreigner is also blind and deaf. Not only will he be shot, but he will not know why or by whom. He cannot control events, because he cannot anticipate the actions of others. He is lost and pitiful, clutching his blunt instruments. Lacking societal intelligence, he is dumb. . . . The occupation lessons of the 20th century are totally lost on George Bush and his deluded Pirate crew. Instead, they perceived an undifferentiated Iraqi population without classes, hierarchies, centers of actual influence, defined social structures – in short, a history-less, inhuman mass. “Just a bunch of hajis,” as the U.S. soldiers say. . . . The most profound racism led the Bush men to believe that the Iraqi people have no society, that they are a blank slate to be written on by the victor. Now the occupiers are reaping the whirlwind of centuries, the final denouement of their own murderous history. . . . Most Iraqi business sectors have reason to fear American schemes to transform their nation into something resembling Texas, especially as they see that American corporations are already acting as if they have powers of eminent domain over the country. Iraqi businessmen needn’t worry. The U.S. occupation cannot take hold, because it is not rooted in reality or connected to anything Iraqi. The Bush men are unfit to occupy anyone, the worst possible candidates for world hegemony. Like Wile E. Coyote, they are going down.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:41 PM

Ministers knew war papers were forged, says diplomat
(Andrew Buncombe and Raymond Whitaker, The Independent, 29 June 2003)
US official who identified documents incriminating Iraq as fakes says Britain must have been aware of findings . . . A high-ranking American official who investigated claims for the CIA that Iraq was seeking uranium to restart its nuclear programme last night accused Britain and the US of deliberately ignoring his findings to make the case for war against Saddam Hussein. . . . The retired US ambassador said it was all but impossible that British intelligence had not received his report - drawn up by the CIA - which revealed that documents, purporting to show a deal between Iraq and the west African state of Niger, were forgeries. When he saw similar claims in Britain's dossier on Iraq last September, he even went as far as telling CIA officials that they needed to alert their British counterparts to his investigation. . . . Asked if he felt his findings had been ignored for political reasons, he added: "It's an easy conclusion to draw." . . . The testimony of the former US diplomat further undermines the claims of both the British and US governments that Saddam had developed, or was developing, weapons of mass destruction. . . . The ex-diplomat says he is outraged by the way evidence gathered by the intelligence community was selectively used in Washington to support pre-determined policies and bolster a case for war.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:34 PM

Iraq's resistance: A new Vietnam for the White House?
(Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, 2 July 2003)
Enraged Iraqis promised vengeance after they dragged 10 bodies from the rubble of a building, destroyed by an explosion, beside the green domed al-Hassan mosque in the town of Fallujah west of Baghdad yesterday. . . . "We will kill many American soldiers for this," said Abdullah, one of the crowd, as he looked at the ruins. "What would people say if this happened to a Christian church in America?" . . . The deaths in Fallujah were at the start of a day that saw escalating violence in and around Baghdad - at least four people were killed or wounded when a rocket-propelled grenade was fired from a car into an American vehicle near the university. . . . Angry local people outside the al-Hassan mosque would not hear of suggestions that bombs or missiles had been stored in the building. A jagged grey fragment of a shell or missile was passed from hand to hand by the crowd but it was impossible to tell if it was from an American or an Iraqi weapon. "A thousand of them should die for every Iraqi who was killed here," one said. . . . "There is no God but Allah, America is the enemy of God," some people chanted, as a crane lifted pieces of concrete. . . . Mr Bremer claimed that "day by day things are continuing to improve" and listed the achievements of his administration. . . . A more telling sign of real US apprehensions is that Mr Bremer's press conferences, at which he dispenses resolute optimism in the face of increasing scepticism from journalists, take place at the National Convention Centre in central Baghdad behind enormous fortifications of barbed wire and concrete blocks. . . . "Iraqis generally believe it is good that the Americans are attacked not because they support Saddam Hussein. But they think that the US takes them lightly because the war only lasted three weeks and therefore the Americans thought they could ignore Iraqi opinion about the reconstruction of their country." . . . So far there is no sign that the attacks are centrally co-ordinated except at local level. But the friction between Iraqis and the US troops is increasing, particularly because of the failure to restore public security and the continuing shortage of electricity and water as the torrid summer heat increases.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:32 PM

Iraqi details harsh treatment as Amnesty criticizes U.S. interrogation methods
(Jim Krane, Associated Press, 6/30/2003)
An Iraqi businessman detained during a raid on his home says U.S. interrogators deprived him of sleep, forced him to kneel naked and kept him bound hand and foot with a bag over his head for eight days. . . . Seeking to quell a burgeoning uprising, U.S. soldiers have detained hundreds of Iraqis some of whom have endured days of strenuous interrogations, rights groups say. AP journalists have observed prisoners wearing only underwear and blindfolds, handcuffed and lying in the dirt 24 hours after their capture. . . . Al-Abally, 39, said that while he was bound and blindfolded, he was kicked, forced to stare at a strobe light and blasted with ''very loud rubbish music.'' . . . ''I thought I was going to lose my mind,'' said al-Abally, a burly man whose wrists are still scarred from plastic cuffs more than a month after his release. ''They said, 'I want you on your knees.' After three or four days it's very painful. My knees were bleeding and swollen.'' . . . ''This is democracy?'' asked al-Abally, whose family operates a shipping business in Lebanon. ''No Iraqi would have thought the Americans were capable of this.'' . . . ''When you talk of up to eight days' sleep deprivation, especially with hands and feet bound, that's already entering the realm of ill treatment,'' said Johanna Bjorken, a Human Rights Watch researcher in Iraq. ''When you combine it with loud music, strobe lights and hooding, it's very possible you've inflicted cruel treatment, which is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.'' . . . Amnesty International's report said the U.S. military appeared to subject Iraqi detainees to treatment that violates international law. The group said it was investigating the U.S. military's three-week detention of an 11-year-old boy and an incident in which U.S. shooting during a riot by detainees killed one and wounded seven. . . . Amnesty International researchers in Baghdad said the techniques cited by al-Abally were similar to those described by Palestinian detainees interrogated by the Israeli military and Irish Catholic prisoners detained by British forces. . . . Britain halted such procedures after a European court in 1982 found they violated human rights law and Israel did so in 1999 when its supreme court banned the practice except in extreme situations, Hodgkin said. . . . Amnesty's report accuses U.S. forces in Afghanistan of performing similar ''stress and duress'' interrogations on detainees, a pair of whom died in U.S. custody. The deaths are being investigated as homicides.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:25 PM

The Revelation of St. George
"God Instructed Me to Strike Saddam"


So now we know. After all the mountains of commentary and speculation, all the earnest debates over motives and goals, all the detailed analyses of global strategy and political ideology, it all comes to down to this: George W. Bush waged war on Iraq because, in his own words, God "instructed me to strike at Saddam."

This gospel was revealed, appropriately enough, in the Holy Land last week, through an unusual partnership between the fractious children of Abraham. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz was given transcripts of a negotiating session between Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and faction leaders from Hamas and other militant groups. Abbas, who was trying to persuade the groups to call a ceasefire in their uprising against Israeli forces, described for them his recent summit with Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush.

Here are Bush's exact words, quoted by Haaretz: "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me, I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."

You can't put it plainer than that. The whole chaotic rigmarole of Security Council votes and UN inspections and Congressional approval and Colin Powell's whizbang Powerpoint displays of "proof" and Bush's own tearful prayers for "peace"--it was all a sham, a meaningless exercise. No votes, no inspections, no proof or lack of proof--in fact, no earthly reason whatsoever--could have stopped Bush's aggressive war on Iraq. It was God's unalterable will: the Lord of Hosts gave a direct order for George W. Bush to "strike at Saddam."

And this is the mindset--or rather, the primitive fever-dream--that is now directing the actions of the greatest military power in the history of the world. There can be no doubt that Bush believes literally in the divine character of his mission.

And that's why Bush acts with such serenity and ruthlessness. Nothing he does can be challenged on moral grounds, however unethical or evil it might appear, because all of his actions are directed by God.

****And we thought he was drunk on power!!****What could be worse than a weak-minded sycophant who thinks he talks to God (and God talks back)
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 11:44 AM

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