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Iraqi Fisherman Says He Caught Americans
Wed Aug 27, 2:51 PM ET
By NIKO PRICE, Associated Press Writer

"I catch fish in the morning and Americans at night," he said. "Catching Americans is easier than catching fish."

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The fisherman had just decided to take up arms, and he shook with fear as the American convoy approached his hiding place. As he later told it, he fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a Humvee and ran away as fast as he could.

Nobody gave chase, he said, and in the time that has passed since that April attack, his band of seven guerrillas has slipped into an easy rhythm of attacking American convoys every few days.
. . . Read more!

posted by Hal 10:50 AM

Father of dead soldier claims Army coverup
(Mark Benjamin, Information Clearinghouse, August 7 ,2003)
The father of a soldier who died of pneumonia this spring said Thursday the Army has excluded her death from its investigation of deadly pneumonia because it wants to cover up vaccine side effects. . . . The common denominator is smallpox and anthrax vaccinations," Moses Lacy said in a telephone interview from his home in Lynwood, Ill. "These young people have given their lives to the military and they are getting a raw deal. The Department of Defense is closing their eyes." . . . Other members of the armed forces not in the Pentagon investigation say the anthrax vaccine has made them very sick with pneumonia-like symptoms. Michael Girard, a Senior Airman at Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach, Fla., got his second anthrax shot on March 4. He developed flu-like symptoms - runny nose and a "heavy chest" - starting March 6 and by March 12 developed a rash on his left arm where he had gotten the shot. . . . In its pneumonia investigation, the Army is looking into the July 12 death of Army Spc. Joshua M. Neusche, 20, of Montreal, Mo. The Pentagon has described his death as "other causes." The Army is also looking at the June 17 death of Army Sgt. Michael L. Tosto, 24, of Apex, N.C. His death is listed as "illness." . . . Stephanakis said she was unfamiliar with the June 26 death in Kuwait of another soldier, Army Spc. Cory A. Hubbell, 20, of Urbana, Ill. His death is listed by the Pentagon under "breathing difficulties." Hubbell's mother, Connie Bickers, of Urbana, Ill., told the Champaign News-Gazette that the Army had not told her how her apparently healthy son died. "I wish I had answers, but I don't know if I'm ever going to get them," Bickers told the paper. . . . On Thursday, the Pentagon announced the death of Sgt. David L. Loyd, 44, of Jackson, Tenn. The announcement said Lloyd died on Aug. 5 when he "was on a mission when he experienced severe chest pains. The soldier was sent to the Kuwait hospital where he was pronounced dead." . . . A co-author of a government-sponsored study of possible side effects from the anthrax vaccine told UPI that the Army should look at whether that vaccine is behind the cluster of pneumonia cases. That study last year found the vaccine was the "possible or probable" cause of pneumonia in two soldiers. . . . "As physicians, I would think they would be looking at all possible causes. I would think vaccines would be part of that," said Dr. John L. Sever of George Washington University Medical School, who was one of six authors of the study. . . . Moses Lacy said he believes the real story is about vaccine side effects. "Unless somebody breaks this story wide open, we are going to have a lot more deaths. I am afraid we are going to lose a lot because of this vaccine."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 4:08 PM

America is a religion
(George Monbiot, The Guardian, July 29, 2003)
"The death of Uday and Qusay," the commander of the ground forces in Iraq told reporters on Wednesday, "is definitely going to be a turning point for the resistance." Well, it was a turning point, but unfortunately not of the kind he envisaged. On the day he made his announcement, Iraqi insurgents killed one US soldier and wounded six others. On the following day, they killed another three; over the weekend they assassinated five and injured seven. Yesterday they slaughtered one more and wounded three. This has been the worst week for US soldiers in Iraq since George Bush declared that the war there was over . . . Few people believe that the resistance in that country is being coordinated by Saddam Hussein and his noxious family, or that it will come to an end when those people are killed.. . . . Are we really expected to believe that the members of the US security services are the only people who cannot see that many Iraqis wish to rid themselves of the US army as fervently as they wished to rid themselves of Saddam Hussein? What is lacking in the Pentagon and the White House is not intelligence (or not, at any rate, of the kind we are considering here), but receptivity. Theirs is not a failure of information, but a failure of ideology. . . . To understand why this failure persists, we must first grasp a reality which has seldom been discussed in print. The United States is no longer just a nation. It is now a religion. Its soldiers have entered Iraq to liberate its people not only from their dictator, their oil and their sovereignty, but also from their darkness. As George Bush told his troops on the day he announced victory: "Wherever you go, you carry a message of hope - a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, 'To the captives, "come out," and to those in darkness, "be free".'" . . . So American soldiers are no longer merely terrestrial combatants; they have become missionaries. They are no longer simply killing enemies; they are casting out demons. . . . Like all those who send missionaries abroad, the high priests of America cannot conceive that the infidels might resist through their own free will; if they refuse to convert, it is the work of the devil, in his current guise as the former dictator of Iraq. . . . The Roman Catholic church claimed that it had supplanted the Jews as the elect, as the Jews had been repudiated by God. The English Protestants accused the Catholics of breaking faith, and claimed that they had become the beloved of God. The American revolutionaries believed that the English, in turn, had broken their covenant: the Americans had now become the chosen people, with a divine duty to deliver the world to God's dominion. Six weeks ago, as if to show that this belief persists, George Bush recalled a remark of Woodrow Wilson's. "America," he quoted, "has a spiritual energy in her which no other nation can contribute to the liberation of mankind." . . . Gradually this notion of election has been conflated with another, still more dangerous idea. It is not just that the Americans are God's chosen people; America itself is now perceived as a divine project. . . . So those who question George Bush's foreign policy are no longer merely critics; they are blasphemers, or "anti-Americans". Those foreign states which seek to change this policy are wasting their time: you can negotiate with politicians; you cannot negotiate with priests. The US has a divine mission, as Bush suggested in January: "to defend ... the hopes of all mankind", and woe betide those who hope for something other than the American way of life. . . . The dangers of national divinity scarcely require explanation. Japan went to war in the 1930s convinced, like George Bush, that it possessed a heaven-sent mission to "liberate" Asia and extend the realm of its divine imperium. It would, the fascist theoretician Kita Ikki predicted: "light the darkness of the entire world". Those who seek to drag heaven down to earth are destined only to engineer a hell.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:26 PM

Robert Fisk: Iraq isn't working
(Robert Fisk, The Independent, 31 July 2003)
There is a veneer of normality about life in the new Iraq. But America's failure to deliver on its promises has triggered a spiral of murderous anarchy that threatens to become an epic tragedy. . . . Paul Bremer's taste in clothes symbolises "the new Iraq" very well. He wears a business suit and combat boots. As the proconsul of Iraq, you might have thought he'd have more taste. But he is a famous "antiterrorism" expert who is supposed to be rebuilding the country with a vast army of international companies - most of them American, of course - and creating the first democracy in the Arab world. Since he seems to be a total failure at the "antiterrorist" game - 50 American soldiers killed in Iraq since President George Bush declared the war over is not exactly a blazing success - it is only fair to record that he is making a mess of the "reconstruction" bit as well. . . . But there's a kind of looking-glass fantasy to all these announcements from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the weasel-worded title with which the American-led occupation powers cloak their decidedly undemocratic and right-wing credentials. Take the oil production figures. Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, the US commander in Iraq, even chose to use these statistics in his "great day for Iraq" press conference last week, the one in which he triumphantly announced that 200 soldiers in Mosul had killed the sons of Saddam rather than take them prisoner. But Lt-Gen Sanchez was talking rubbish. Although oil production was indeed standing at 900,000 barrels per day in June (albeit 100,000bpd less than the Sanchez version), it fell this month to 750,000. The drop was caused by power cuts - which are going to continue for much of the year - and export smuggling. The result? Iraq, with the world's second-highest reserves of oil, is now importing fuel from other oil-producing countries to meet domestic demands. . . . Bremer seems to have a habit of reversing his own decisions; having triumphantly announced that he'd sacked the entire Iraqi army, he was humiliatingly forced to put them back on rations in case they all decided to attack US soldiers in Iraq. . . . a mysterious American company called Abt Associates has turned up in Baghdad to give "Ministry of Health Technical Assistance" support to the US Agency for International Development (USAid) and "rapid response grants to address health needs in-country". It has decreed that all medical equipment must accord with US technical standards and modifications - which means that all new hospital equipment must come from America, not from Europe. . . . Of course, Iraqis protest at much of this. They protest in the streets, especially against the aggressive American military raids, and they protest in the press. Much good does it do them. When ex-Iraqi soldiers demonstrated outside Bremer's office at the former Presidential Palace, US troops shot two of them dead. When Falujah residents staged a protest as long ago as April, the American military shot 16 dead. Another 11 were later gunned down in Mosul. During two demonstrations against the presence of US troops near the shrine of Imam Hussein at Karbala last weekend, US soldiers shot dead another three. "What a wonderful thing it is to speak your own minds," Lt-Gen Sanchez said of the demonstrations in Iraq last week. Maybe he was exhibiting a black sense of humour. . . . Indeed, newspapers that have offended the Americans have been raided by US troops in the same way that the Americans have conducted raids on the offices of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, whose leader, Ayatollah Mohammed al-Hakim, is a member of the famous Interim Council - not exactly a bright way to keep a prominent Shia cleric on board. . . . today Bremer is the strongman, and under his rule US troops are losing hearts and minds by the bucketful with each new, blundering and often useless raid against the civilians of Iraq. Still obsessed with capturing or, rather, killing Saddam, they are destroying any residual affection for them among the population. . . . Why don't the occupation authorities realise that Iraq cannot be "spun"? This country is living a tragedy of epic proportions, and now after its descent into hell under Saddam we are doomed to suffer its contagion. By our hubris and by our lies and by our fantasies including the fantasies of Tony Blair we are descending into the pit. . . . For the people of Iraq, the next stage in their long suffering is under way. For us, a new colonial humiliation, the like of which may well end the careers of George Bush and Tony Blair, is coming. Of far more consequence is that it is likely to end many innocent lives as well.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:10 PM

Arab League Countries Decide Not to Send Troops to Ira
(Greg LaMotte, VOA News, 05 August 2003)
Foreign ministers of Arab League member countries have decided not to send troops to Iraq. The U.S. had requested the Arab League do so. . . . the meeting of the League's follow-up committee produced a consensus that sending Arab military forces to Iraq cannot be considered in what he called the current circumstances. . . . Mr. Moussa said work should be done to put an end to the occupation of Iraq and allow the Iraqi people to form a national government. . . . On Monday, Secretary-General Amr Moussa said the League has drawn up a draft resolution stressing the importance of a unified Iraqi political structure to lead the country back to full sovereignty.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:55 AM

The unreported cost of war: at least 827 American wounded
(Julian Borger, The Guardian, August 4, 2003)
US military casualties from the occupation of Iraq have been more than twice the number most Americans have been led to believe because of an extraordinarily high number of accidents, suicides and other non-combat deaths in the ranks that have gone largely unreported in the media. . . . Since May 1, when President George Bush declared the end of major combat operations, 52 American soldiers have been killed by hostile fire, according to Pentagon figures quoted in almost all the war coverage. But the total number of US deaths from all causes is much higher: 112. . . . The other unreported cost of the war for the US is the number of American wounded, 827 since Operation Iraqi Freedom began. . . . Unofficial figures are in the thousands. About half have been injured since the president's triumphant appearance on board the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln at the beginning of May. Many of the wounded have lost limbs. . . . In fact, the total death toll this time is 248 - including accidents and suicides - and as the number of non-combat deaths and serious injuries becomes more widely known, the erosion of public confidence is likely to continue, posing a threat to Mr Bush's prospects of re-election, which at the beginning of May had seemed a foregone conclusion. . . . Military observers say it is unusual, even in a "low-intensity" guerrilla war such as the situation seen in Iraq, for non-combat deaths to outnumber combat casualties. . . . Three deaths have been categorised as "possible suicides", three have died from illness, and three from drowning. The rest are unexplained. . . . Wounded American soldiers continue to be flown back to the US at a relentless rate, in twice-weekly transport flights to Andrews air force base near Washington. . . . Hospital staff are working 70- or 80-hour weeks, and the Walter Reed army hospital in Washington is so full that it has taken over beds normally reserved for cancer patients to handle the influx, according to a report on CBS television. . . . The Pentagon figure for "wounded in action" in Iraq is 827, but here again the total number of injuries appears to be much higher. . . . The estimate given by central command in Qatar is 926, but according to Lieutenant-Colonel Allen DeLane, who is in charge of the airlift of the wounded into Andrews air base, that too is understated. . . . "Since the war has started, I can't give you an exact number because that's classified information, but I can say to you over 4,000 have stayed here at Andrews, and that number doubles when you count the people that come here to Andrews and then we send them to other places like Walter Reed and Bethesda, which are in this area also," Col DeLane told National Public Radio. . . . He said 90% of injuries were directly war-related.

. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:43 AM

U.S. Army probes illness in Iraq
(CNN, August 5, 2003)
The U.S. Army has activated two teams of doctors and scientists to determine the cause of about 100 cases of pneumonia among troops in Iraq and other parts of the Persian Gulf since March 1. . . . Two service members have died, and 15 were so sick that they required ventilators to help them breathe, the Army said. Three remain hospitalized, and 10 have recovered, the Army said. All of those requiring ventilators were soldiers except for one Marine. . . . Besides Iraq, cases also occurred in Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Qatar. . . . The causes of the two deaths have not been determined. . . . "Currently, we have identified no infectious agent common to all of the cases," an Army statement said, adding that no evidence exists that the cases were caused by exposure to chemical or biological weapons, SARS or environmental toxins.

[Comment: Just like the veterans who were poisoned by Agent Orange in Viet Nam, the women and men of the US armed forces are once again being poisoned by their own weapons. The death and severe illness toll from the first Gulf War is already staggering, and yet the US military insists that nothing is wrong. Well, something is wrong, and what is wrong is the attitude of those running the Pentagon. Their attitude seems to be that our troops are expendable, just like the "collateral damage" of the thousands of innocent civilians the US is also killing in order to secure the Iraqi oil fields for the Bush family and their friends.]
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:33 AM

Dying in Iraq
July 31, 2003

Those are good kids that we're sending into the shooting gallery called Iraq, and unless you have the conviction of a Bush or a Rumsfeld or a Bechtel or a Halliburton, you have to be nursing the sick feeling that each death is a tragic waste, and that this conflict is as much of a fool's errand as the war in Vietnam.

Despite the deceit and chronic dissembling of their political leaders in Washington, and the wretched conditions on the ground in Iraq, the young men and women are fighting bravely. So there was Gov. George Pataki earlier this week with the unhappy task of asking for a moment of silence in remembrance of Sgt. Heath McMillin, a 29-year-old National Guardsman from Clifton Springs in upstate New York.

Sergeant McMillin was killed on Sunday when his unit was attacked while on patrol south of Baghdad.

Over the weekend The New York Times had an article about the close-knit family of Cpl. Travis J. Bradach-Nall, a 21-year-old marine from Portland, Ore., who was killed on July 1 while clearing mines in south-central Iraq. The corporal loved tattoos, and his favorite movie was "Ghostbusters." The article was accompanied by a photo showing his brother and three cousins with memorial "Ghostbusters" tattoos.

Why are these kids dying?

The United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. But instead of using all the means available to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, the Bush administration became obsessed with the ouster of Saddam Hussein and the takeover of Iraq.

That is a very peculiar ordering of priorities.
. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 3:19 AM

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