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Proof that the War Was About Oil
(Stephen J. Glain, Boston Globe, 30 October 2003)
The Bush administration has doubled the value of a contract to rebuild Iraq's oil industry, to $2 billion, sharply driving up the projected cost of restoring the country's prewar capacity. . . . The decision gave fresh ammunition to critics of the president's postwar policies and came as questions surfaced about whether the franchise now held by a subsidiary of Halliburton Co., the oil giant once led by Vice President Dick Cheney, will be expanded to include the development of virgin petroleum fields. The subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root Services, was originally hired to help rebuild Iraq's petroleum sector. . . . "The administration says its goal is to repair war damage, but its budget request shows it wants taxpayer dollars to build projects that have nothing to do with repairing war damage, such as constructing an entirely new oil refinery." . . . An Army Corps spokesman said the budget for the oil contracts was increased in line with a study of Iraq's oil-sector needs conducted by Kellogg. In March, the Army Corps said it gave Kellogg a mandate with an initial maximum worth of $7 billion, one of a number of closed-door contracts issued by the US government. . . . The contracts, which have a minimum value of $500,000 each, are unrelated to the $2.1 billion included in the Bush administration's special budget request set aside for Iraq's oil industry. . . . The US government has already invested an estimated $1 billion to return Iraq's daily oil production to its prewar peak capacity of about 3 million barrels. . . . The Kellogg contract has been a source of controversy since it was issued under emergency laws that allow the US government to hold closed and noncompetitive bids during wartime. Cheney was the chairman of Halliburton for five years until he was chosen by Bush as his running mate, and news of the Kellogg award prompted conflict-of-interest charges. Lawmakers and public-interest groups have criticized what they say is a lack of detailed information about the contract, which has gradually been uncovered by their own investigations of the deal. . . . Recent statements by US officials suggest the franchise may have been expanded to include exploration and development of new oil and gas fields. . . . On Oct. 8, Army Major General Carl Strock, the deputy director of operations for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, told the House Committee on Government Reform that money provided under the supplemental budget request would be used for "the development of the oil fields . . . and it's also building the new refinery."
[COMMENT: Dick Cheney has got to be one of the most brazen looters ever to walk this land of looters. He strong-arms the feeble-minded front man for his junta to start a war on a weak, but oil-rich, nation. Then he gives no-bid contracts to his own company (you can bet he's got mucho stock in the Halliburton group). And these companies are now about to build new oil refineries (at US taxpayer expense!!!) that will in the end benefit the stockholders of these favored companies. He makes the gangsters of the 1920s look like amateurs. Our treasury is being looted of $87 BILLION!!! dollars, and the great mass of Americans look the other way. In less than a decade this nation will be bankrupt and in total disarray, and we will have only our sloth to blame.]
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posted by Lorenzo 8:40 PM
The Revolution Was Not Televised
(William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Perspective, 31 October 2003)
a banner that succinctly summed up the madness of the age, and the dangerous nature of the current ruling class. . . . Across the top of the banner, which was clearly professionally made and not hand-lettered, were the block-letter words "SUPPORT PRESIDENT BUSH." Through the center of the banner were black outlines of a fighter aircraft, a tank, an M-16 rifle, a .45 caliber pistol, an attack helicopter, a surface-to-air missile battery, and a thermonuclear bomb. Underneath these images were two more block-letter words: "TRUST JESUS." . . . The sentiment apparently finds resonance with Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi. The Wednesday edition of The Hill carried a story about GOP concerns over the manner in which the post-war war is unfolding. The trepidation is understandable; more American troops have been killed in the 'Mission Accomplished' phase of the war than in the war itself. Lott responded to the crisis in Iraq by saying, "If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens." . . . The Bush administration has tried to frame their wars as not being a religiously-based crusade against the Islamic world. This has been a hard-sell with Muslims, especially since Bush used the word "crusade" immediately after September 11. Norman Podhoretz, one of the ideological fathers of the cadre of hawks currently running our foreign policy, publicly described our conflict in the Mideast as being a process aimed at bringing about "the reformation and modernization of Islam." The religious overtones are difficult to miss. . . . Describing the hunt for a Somali warlord last January, Boykin said, "I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." . . . Boykin has held forth on the true meaning of the War on Terror. "Satan wants to destroy this nation," says Boykin, "he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army." In June of 2002, Boykin held up a photograph of Mogadishu to a church congregation. The photo carried the image of a dark spot in the sky above the city. "Ladies and gentlemen," Boykin said, "this is your enemy. It is the principalities of darkness. It is a demonic presence in that city that God revealed to me as the enemy." . . . The banner carried by the 'patriot' in Washington should have had the black outline of an oil well alongside all those weapons. Trusting Jesus has been a lucrative business for some. The Center for Public Integrity released a report on Thursday which details how $8 billion in contracts to 'rebuild' Iraq and Afghanistan have gone exclusively to companies which donated piles of money to Bush's 2000 election campaign. These contracts were awarded without the usual bidding process; few beyond the friends of Bush were given the opportunity to cash in on the war. . . . Most prominent on the list of companies awarded these contacts is Halliburton, the oil company recently run by Vice President Dick Cheney. Halliburton subsidiary, Kellog Brown & Root, has gathered to itself a tidy $2.3 billion contract to repair Iraq's oil industry. The price tag for this project was doubled recently by the Bush administration so Halliburton could get a larger share of the $87 billion allocated for Iraq. The reason for the doubling? Halliburton plans to go beyond repairing old oil wells and develop new wells to tap virgin supplies of oil and gas. . . . Islam is not the only religion to have a militant, fundamentalist Taliban wing making up part of the whole. In America, the Taliban wing of Christianity has assumed power. The banner at that 'patriot' rally captures the essence of these frightening extremists: Supporting Bush is placed on the same level as worshipping Jesus, and shot through the middle is the steel fist of weapons and war. September 11 has been refashioned by the Christian Taliban as a rallying cry for an end-times death match against Islam, a rallying cry that obscures the orgasm of profiteering that is taking place behind the scenes. . . . There has been a religiously fundamentalist revolution in the United States. The extremists have taken control of the White House, Congress, the courts, and the military. You did not see this on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC or Fox, but it happened all the same.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:07 PM
The anti-war camp has been proved right on every point. Now we need a fast-track plan for a peaceful pullout
(Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, October 29, 2003)
It's easy to be smug. It's easy to see every new attack against the US or its allies in Iraq, including yesterday's bomb in Fallujah, as a tragedy, yes, but also a cruel vindication of the warning the anti-war camp gave again and again - but which would not be heard. It's tempting, as we watch the American (and British) effort in Iraq sinking into the bog, to clamber to the rooftops and shout with a full throat: "We told you so!" . . . Heaven knows events in "postwar" Iraq have given those of us who opposed the adventure every reason to feel self-satisfied. The anti-war camp has been proved right in almost every particular. . . . Now we know that the grounds on which the war was fought were false: Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction and Iraq had no link to al-Qaida (though it has now). We know that the warmakers' predictions for life after Saddam were just as spectacularly wrong. They thought the invading troops would, in the words of vice-president Dick Cheney, "be greeted as liberators", rather than as the target of daily attacks. They thought that, while the morally repugnant Ba'athist elite would disappear, a solid, middle-class, "Mesopotamian bureaucracy" would stay at their desks to run the country: instead the pen-pushers disappeared, leaving only chaos. And the US planners estimated the cost to the US of rebuilding Iraq would be a mere $1.7bn, as opposed to the $87bn now sought from Congress. . . . We know, too, that the Bush administration's arrogance in preparation for the war's aftermath was immense, its incompetence stunning. It shelved a long-range state department study, The Future of Iraq, because its conclusions did not fit the hawks' plans. . . . We know all this and cannot be blamed for wanting to wallow in self-righteousness. As Michael Moore might bellow: "We were right and they were wrong." That is true, but we cannot leave it there. We have to do better than that. We have to move on. . . . It's no good thinking, as some on the left have, that there could be merit in the US (especially) getting a bloody nose in Iraq. We have to think about who is administering the punch. Sometimes it will be young patriots, new to combat, who have signed up for armed resistance against a foreign occupier. This kind of indigenous insurgency is said to be growing, gaining grass roots support and, with it, the legitimacy of a popular movement. . . . we have to look at the likely consequences of this resistance. Strikes such as Monday's against the Red Cross will only deter other non-governmental agencies from coming to Iraq, and the only people to suffer from that will be Iraqis . . . Those who opposed the war need to start thinking ahead. Some activists are already doing just that, debating what needs to happen next. The instinctive slogan is to call for an immediate US and British withdrawal: Iraq for the Iraqis, now! That sounds appealing - not least to the twitchy wing of the Republican party, which has seen the latest polls and dreads the prospect of Bush going into next year's election as the body-bag candidate, the president who led US troops to their deaths in a Vietnam-style quagmire (a word which has now entered the US conversation, via Republican senator and Vietnam vet John McCain). . . . But it is no position for the anti-war camp. All it would mean is permission for London and Washington to have trashed Iraq - and then leave Iraqis to clear up the mess. No, occupiers have responsibilities: once they take over a country, it is up to them to make sure power and water work, schools and hospitals function. The Americans and Brits cannot just cut and run. . . . Rather they should work out a fast-track plan for a peaceful withdrawal, handing power over Iraq to Iraqis themselves. Such a plan should have two elements, both inspired by the recent experience of East Timor. The first, and most immediate, is to internationalise authority. In place of an American pro-consul, the country needs to come under a UN mandate. That would require a loss of face by Washington, letting the likes of France and Germany in on the action, but the alternative - young American soldiers remaining a shooting gallery for Iraqi fighters - is surely worse. Britain and the US should plan a gradual stepping back and eventual exit, to be replaced by UN-authorised forces. . . . Finally, a war whose golden purpose was said to be the delivery of democracy to Iraq should start with the basic building block of self-government: elections. Under outside auspices, a ballot of all Iraqis should be timetabled as soon as possible to choose the body that will draw up a constitution for the new Iraq. Transfer of sovereignty would not have to wait until the new government is in place: the handover from the UN to Iraqis could be a gradual process, starting right away.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:56 PM
Four Witnesses To Lynch 'Rescue' Killed Under Strange Circumstances
(Picasso Dreams, October 29, 2003)
the BBC aired the infamous documentary, essentially labeling the Pentagon's version of events as a work of fiction. I trust the BBC over the Pentagon. . . . Sure enough, Pfc Lynch has selective amnesia and cannot remember the events of her capture and rescue, though that hasn't stopped her from a million dollar book deal with the NY Times most recent plagiarist du jour, Rick Bragg. . . . When the Department of Defense insisted on keeping up their official version of the rescue, I knew that inevitably some of Lynch's rescuers would be hushed. After all, here is a woman who endured a few broken limbs from a vehicle accident and is rewarded with a million bucks, while her rescuers continue to live without toilets and running water in a Depleted Uranium wasteland. Her Bronze Star has outraged many veterans. At some point even the threat of an untimely demise will not keep some disgruntled military folks from talking. . . . Eerily enough, four of Pfc. Lynch's rescuers and colleagues have met an early demise. . . . Petty Officer First Class David M. Tapper died of wounds received in Afghanistan. He took part in the rescue. . . . Lance Cpl. Sok Khak Ung was killed in a drive-by shooting. He was also part of the rescue team. . . . Spc Josh Daniel Speer died when his car crashed into some trees for no apparent reason. He was part of the rescue team. . . . Kyle Edward Williams, who worked in the same company as Lynch, died of "suicide". . . . He left no note to explain the suicide . . . He didn't have any disciplinary or mental health problems before he left Fort Bliss, Texas, at the end of September for 20 days of leave before moving to a new military job, the officials said."
[COMMENT: Is this just a highly unlikely coincidence, or is it an example of how the military "takes care of" its own?]
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posted by Lorenzo 2:39 PM
U.S. reports more attacks in Iraq; more deaths than during active combat
(Robert H. Reid, CBS News, October 29, 2003)
The latest attacks, 233 over the last seven days according to the U.S. military, have driven the combat death toll during the occupation over the number killed before U.S. President George W. Bush declared an end to active combat on May 1. . . . Their deaths brought to 117 the number of American soldiers killed by hostile fire since Bush declared active combat over. A total of 114 U.S. soldiers were killed between the start of the war March 20 and the end of April. . . . It was the first M1 Abrams main battle tank destroyed since the end of major combat May 1, military officials said. . . . In Geneva, the International Committee Red Cross said it would remain in Iraq, but would reduce the number of international staff, currently about 30, and increase the security of those who remain. The agency also has 600 Iraqi employees. . . . The Brussels-based humanitarian organization, Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, also announced it was pulling out part of its international staff from Iraq for security reasons. . . . Col. William Darley, a U.S. military spokesman, told reporters that American forces were now suffering an average of 33 attacks a day. That marked a dramatic escalation over the average of 12 daily attacks reported in mid-July. . . . The violence escalated this week starting with the rocket attack Sunday against the Al Rasheed Hotel, which killed U.S. Lt.-Col. Charles Buehring, and injured 18 other people, mostly soldiers and civilians working for the coalition. . . . Insurgents followed by the attack with a dramatic series of suicide car bombings Monday which devastated the Red Cross headquarters and three police stations, killing about three dozen people and wounding more than 200 in the bloodiest day in Baghdad since the start of the U.S. occupation.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:26 PM
Open letter to occupation soldiers
(Guy Grossman and James Skelly, Z Net, September 26, 2003)
We write this letter because we have both been military officers during conflicts that descended into a moral abyss and from which we struggled to emerge with our humanity intact. . . . It is clear that many of you have been propelled into situations that may haunt you for the rest of your lives. You undoubtedly did not expect to be killing Iraqi civilians as now happens on a regular basis because of the difficulties you face in an occupation that was so poorly planned by those in authority above you. . . . You have undoubtedly begun to feel rage at the seemingly senseless deaths of your comrades, and your inability to distinguish who is the enemy among the civilians you have come to 'liberate.' From time to time we're sure that some of you may want to take revenge for the deaths of your fellow soldiers. . . . We urge you to step back from such sentiments because the lives of innocent people will be placed at further risk, and your very humanity itself will be threatened. Political leaders who think a certain number of your deaths are 'acceptable,' as are a larger number of Iraqi civilian deaths, have placed you in these hellish conditions. Remember, they are ultimately responsible for putting you in the situations you face on a daily basis. As you know, despite what the Pentagon told everyone prior to deployment, armed conflict in Iraq is likely to continue for much longer despite the 'victory' George Bush seemed to declare when he landed on the USS Lincoln. . . . In these circumstances, there are a number of things that you should know. Most people in the world understood that Saddam Hussein was a tyrannical dictator who had killed and debased significant numbers of people who lived under his rule. However, most people throughout the world also understood that the method the US government chose to remove Saddam was without international sanction, was informed by other less lofty motivations, and has resulted in the killing of significant numbers of innocent people. There were more pacific alternatives. . . . We were opposed to the war, and the armed occupation that has followed, not only because so many innocents continue to be killed, but because it is creating greater insecurity throughout the world. The war has further undermined an international order based on the rule of law and has fostered a global regime of disorder in which the indiscriminate use of force is often the arbitrator. Just as the occupation of the Palestinian territories by the Israeli army has contributed to greater insecurity throughout Israel, so too is the occupation of Iraq creating greater threats to security through out the world, including the United States. . . . You should also be aware that people all over the world, and a significant number in the United States as well, will understand your actions as truly heroic should you say "No!" to further participation in both the murderous occupation that you and your comrades now face and the murky moral swamp that the war has wrought. It is now clear that the justifications for war that political leaders in the US and Britain used had little basis in reality and they had been advised that intelligence indicated that war was likely to create more terrorism in the world, not less. . . . In addition, you should know that a substantial body of legal opinion argues that the invasion of Iraq was illegal under international law, and at least theoretically, the leaders of the United States and Britain could face war crimes charges in the future. . . . Should your moral doubts become so strong that you know, as each of us did with regard to Vietnam on the one hand, and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories on the other, that your very humanity is at risk, we urge you to consider refusing orders that you can no longer in conscience carry out. One of us refused to serve in the territories occupied by Israel because he knew he could no longer carry out military orders that had little to do with the safety of his country. He could no longer justify the use of indiscriminate military force in the name of unjust political policies, well disguised. He could not tolerate his country's use of himself as a means serving an unjust cause. He could no longer live with the outcome of his actions. . . . You probably know that as an American soldier, the Uniform Code of Military Justice requires that you obey only "lawful orders" of your military superiors. Consequently, it is within your legal rights to refuse "unlawful orders" - these provisions were put in the Uniform Code so that soldiers could not, as German soldiers did following World War II, try to absolve themselves of guilt for war crimes by saying that they were "just following orders." You can also apply for discharge by conscientiously objecting to war. Rather than serve in Vietnam, one of us refused orders by filing for discharge as a conscientious objector, and when the Pentagon refused the application, sued the Secretary of Defense in federal court for being illegally held by the US military. . . . Finally, we would urge you to recognize that you are not alone with regard to the moral dilemmas that you are facing. Each of us initially faced our moral questions as individuals. But we soon realized that many of our comrades had similar qualms about what we were being ordered to do. We both were instrumental in helping to form organizations of military personnel who were opposed to the policies of our respective governments. . . . Whatever you do, try to maintain a degree of civility with your buddies and superior officers. They are in this too. There are procedures to follow when you express moral concerns, which if they are professional soldiers, they will follow as well. If they act unprofessionally and verbally or physically harass you, recognize that it is probably a result of their own anxieties about the moral dilemmas that political leaders have forced them to confront as well. . . . It is our hope that you will be able to confront these dilemmas clearly and with the support of as many of your comrades as have courage similar to yours. . . . Regardless of what you decide, it is our fervent desire that your actions are chosen in the bright light of moral illumination and political understanding. We also hope that you ultimately return to your home with your humanity enriched, rather than diminished.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:56 PM
US Military Personnel Wounded in Iraq & Afghanistan: A Running Log
(The Memory Hole)
Most Americans haven't seen the growing legion of wounded troops returning from Iraq who are cared for at military facilities sealed off from the public. The media, in turn, have focused on the hit-and-run guerrilla attacks that claim one or two GIs in Iraq almost daily. Little attention has been paid to the long, difficult and very personal struggles that ensue in wards at BAMC and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. . . . "They come here 19, 20 years old and when I see them leaving, missing limbs -- I've seen up to three limbs gone off people, and I don't think in our generation we've seen this amount of harm done to young people," [Maj. Gene] Delaune says. . . . Explosions shatter and sever legs and arms. They char flesh and drive debris deep into the soft tissue that remains. Unattached muscles, nerves and tendons dangle. Red-hot shrapnel sometimes punctures torsos below waist-length body armor, ripping bowels and bladders. Concussions bruise skulls and brains. Soldiers thrown into the air are injured again when they hit ground.
[Click on the above link for dozens of brief stories about the extent of the inuries being suffered by US troops in Iraq.]
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posted by Lorenzo 7:19 PM
US Soldiers to America: "Bring Us Home Now!" Part Two
(Jay Shaft, Coalition for Free Thought in Media, October 14, 2003)
“Man we lost so many I started losing track. I didn’t want to think about it after a while and I pushed it out of my mind when I didn’t have to make out reports or change our strength maintenance figures. We lost over 300 guys to death or severe injury when I was there, and that is only the ones I know about. There were times when I was out on some scout missions and we lost guys from the main battle group and the reports would be done by the time I got back to the unit.” . . . “I was there when my best friend got it though. I almost wish I had been out on a patrol or scout mission because I wouldn’t have had to hold his head up while he coughed up his own guts. He took three 7.62s (AK-47 rounds) to the abdomen and it took him a long time to die. It felt like hours, but it was probably only ten or fifteen minutes at the most. It just felt like an eternity while he fought for his life. We couldn’t get a dust off (evac chopper) vectored in enough time, he died about a minute before the chopper landed. That almost blew my mind right out. It took me a week before I could stop shaking and freezing up.” . . . “I had been in the same unit as him from the beginning of my first permanent party assignment. I had served in different units for a while, but we ended up in the same brigade in Afghanistan. He was in another company as a platoon sergeant and we fought side by side across Afghanistan and Iraq. I can’t believe he caught it like that. I mean this war is really meaningless and all about oil. So my best friend bought it for some rich guy like Dick Cheney or George Shultz!” . . . “I know it is supposed to be our duty to fight for this country and die if necessary, but this Iraq war is total bullshit. A bunch of Bush’s buddies, and even Bush himself are getting rich as hell off of us dying and getting hurt. I could see the reasons we are in Afghanistan and I did my duty there, but this is completely different. Iraq is not safer or any freer under our rule. The people hate us and want us to get the fuck out of their country and leave them alone.” . . . “For every one of us that dies for no reason the whole country ought to get out and protest and riot. That is one thing I’ve seen the Iraqis do very well. When we kill some of their people they come out by the thousands and make it known that they are pissed and won’t tolerate it any more.” . . . “That is what all the American people need to do. Every time the Pentagon gets one of us killed they need to riot and protest in the streets. If they did that maybe Rumsfeld and those assholes like Wolfowitz and Perle would think twice about letting another one of our troops die in combat. Maybe they would bring us home. Until the American people stand up and say ‘NO MORE DEAD SOLDIERS!’ they will keep butchering us like sheep!” . . . “I think every goddamn senator’s son or daughter that is serving military age ought to be forced to go over to Iraq and serve in a front-line unit. If the leaders of America are going to send us over to die for oil and a bunch of fat cats to profit from our deaths, then they should send their own fuckin’ sons and daughters. No one should be able to get their kid an exemption or enable their child to get out of doing what they say is our duty.” . . . "Everyone of the guys I was with came form either a poor or middle class working background. None of them had the colleges and trust funds given to them. I don’t think a lot of our guys would be serving right now except for the lack of any other future that looked brighter.” . . . “I don’t want to go into to much detail about this because it is still being investigated by the Army. The situation briefly was that there was a large crowd of demonstrators gathered to protest an incident from the day before when another unit had shot into a crowd of protesters. There had been about 20 killed the day before, but we never heard a total body count just some reasonably accurate sounding numbers.” . . . “We were on the ground on one side of a large square where the main body of the protesters had gathered. They were yelling and screaming at one of the appointed Iraqi council members and getting very out of control. They were mad at the fact the council had not denounced the Americans and told them to leave Iraq. It was getting very ugly and I was spit on and struck in the helmet and about the head and shoulders by a small group of women. Let me emphasize that again, we were being attacked by a group of women and maybe three or four men.” . . . “As far as I could see they had no firearms or bombs. They did have rocks and pieces of paving stones and asphalt. As the crowd got more and more outraged, more US troops started arriving, which seemed to anger the civilians even more. We were a real living symbol of all their hurts and injuries that had been inflicted on them by our bombs, missiles, tanks, artillery, and guns. For the first time since the war started they had a target for all their hate and anger right there in front of them. I don’t know who started the rock throwing but after the first one was thrown the whole crowd started throwing their rocks and whatever scraps and trash they could find in the vicinity.” . . . “I got hit by several rocks in the face and head and then the rest of my body was hit a bunch of times. As far as I could tell the first gunshot was from an American M-16. I know the sound of our rifles very well and I can tell the sound even in a full-scale firefight so the sound of one shot was very clear to me. I know it was not an AK-47 or 74. There is no way it could have been a 7.62mm round. They have a much lower sound and the Kalashnikov rifles make a distinctive clack as they are fired.” . . . “I have heard those rifles fired so many times I know the sound in my sleep. It was one of our guys that got nervous and cranked off a round. After the first shot we heard someone screaming on the radio to open fire. A few of our guys started firing and then most of the rest of us started shooting. At some point in the confusion I heard an AK open up and then another one. It didn’t sound close, but we couldn’t really tell.” . . . “That is all the details I really feel right giving you. I know one thing though. The commanders later claimed we were fired on from the crowd. That’s bullshit and a bunch of us know it. It started with a bunch of angry women and some men throwing rocks, and it ended with at least 15 dead and over 30 wounded. I saw a small girl laying on the ground with a hole in her head and some more wounds in her back and side. She did not have anything to do with the crowd, she was down the street trying to find food or something.” . . . “Yeah I really want to make sure they don’t think I am unpatriotic or a traitor. I did this because of how bad it is over there. We are getting slaughtered and wasted for nothing. If there was a real reason to be over there anymore I would go right back. There is no reason right now, they say we are rebuilding Iraq, but I didn’t see it.” . . . “Every time I hear Bush or Rumsfeld or anyone else like Paul Bremer talk about all the progress we have made I picture all the Iraqi kids going hungry. They would mob our convoys trying to get our M.R.E.s or the emergency relief food packs we carry for them. Iraq is going to hell and all the little kids are starving and dying from their injuries they got during the war.” . . . “There is not enough medicine or antibiotics to keep them form getting gangrene or stop the diarrhea they get from bad water. Most of the people are drinking sewage or water contaminated with shit or oil. Months later and they still haven’t fixed the water supply or helped them get parts to fix the pumps. I saw kids dying everyday because they had the shits so bad they wasted away to nothing.” . . . “My best friend is dead and so are a whole bunch of my friends and fellow soldiers. I just want to say one more thing to America.” . . . “Get us the fuck out of Iraq! Don’t let another one of us die or get injured. How many disabled vets and dead fathers and mothers do you want on your conscience? How much more blood can you get on your hands George Bush??? How many more Iraqis do we have to kill and then live with their blood on our hands?” . . . “Bring us home now!!! Tell your Senators to stop giving Bush money for this carnage. If you demand that we come home they will have to listen. . . . “Fuck you George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Paul Bremer, and all then rest of you sorry assholes! Why don’t you come fight this war if you think it’s right?”
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posted by Lorenzo 3:41 PM
US Soldiers To America: "Bring Us Home Now!" Part One
(Jay Shaft, Coalition for Free Thought In Media, October 14, 2003)
I was shocked and angered when I found out how many of the service men hate being in Iraq and want nothing to do with rebuilding and policing the devastated nation. From the conversations I had, many soldiers never wanted to go over to Iraq and fight, and the ones who had were now convinced of the awful crime that had been committed against Iraq and our own troops. I was told very few soldiers now believe in staying in Iraq, or want to stay in the country and serve any more days. . . . The following interview was with an enlisted man . . . “Can’t sleep for shit and I have horrible nightmares when I do sleep. I might be lucky to catch an hour at a time before the nightmares wake me up. I slept easier in the combat then now that I’m away from there. Most awful place I’ve ever been or served duty and I didn’t want to leave my guys. That was the hardest part was leaving the guys I had been leading around and trying to keep out of trouble and alive.” . . . I saw over 30 of the men I had to keep safe die, and over 100 get wounded and not come back. I still don’t know if some of the wounded men made it or not. I was never told before I came back home." . . . It’s a constant fucking nightmare trying to figure out where the guerillas are going to hit, how to keep the civilians calm, and also getting enough water and food to eat. That is one thing the media never really told the Americans about, how bad it was when our convoys weren’t getting through. We had to go to some Iraqi people and trade socks and underwear for some food and a little water.” . . . I want to tell people about how bad the attacks on US and coalition forces have gotten in the last month. In the last two weeks I was there we were attacked at least 20 times a day if you count all the shots we heard from random sniper or opportunity attacks. We were losing at least five men a day to injuries and there was at least one of our unit killed every twenty four hours.” . . . “I had one guy tell me all he wanted was to see his little daughter; she was born three days after the war started. He died in the sand holding my hand and crying because his daughter would never know him. Tell me that’s fucking right. Where was George Bush when this kid was gasping for air and spitting his blood on foreign soil?” . . . Do you think George Bush is the wrong man to order troops into battle when he ducked it himself? . . . ---“That asshole went AWOL and never showed up for duty and then he has the nerve to take us into two different wars that will be going on for years. I do not believe he should be president of this country, he’s a complete idiot and he’s controlled by madmen with a drive for only profits and getting oil.” . . . ---“I have a four year degree in the economics field and I am not a soldier all the time. I am Reservist who just keeps getting caught on long duty assignments. Believe it or not I read authors like Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, and Jim Hightower, and went through three copies of Stupid White Men by Michael Moore while I was over there. I let people read parts of Mike’s book and they were irate that Bush had screwed us so hard. I had parts of [Greg Palast’s] Best Democracy Money Can Buy mailed to me because I knew if I had the whole book it would get stolen in a heartbeat.” . . . ---“Well the first thing I would like to thank Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Congress for is that nice huge cut they made to Veterans Benefits as soon as the war started. I am in the Reserves after years of active duty and now I cannot get PTSD counseling or many medical benefits I used to take for granted. I knew I would have the benefits because I was laying my life down for my country. Now my benefits are cut by around 2/3 and I have to go to either group therapy or pay for a private counselor out of my own pocket. What happens when someone like me has been through enormous battle stress and combat fatigue and then comes home to no counseling?” . . . “I’ll tell you what is going to happen, he will either kill himself or take a bunch of people with him. Some of the guys coming back are going to have gone through the worst time of their lives with their buddies dying and getting hurt, and then they’ll find out they got screwed out of any counseling. It is the greatest disservice America is committing against soldiers who fought for this country and may come back wounded or horribly scarred. Medical services, school aid to dependents, school aid for the vets, all slashed to the bare bones; mental health and drug and alcohol counseling are being eliminated or the waiting lists will be years long for whatever services manage to survive.” . . . “That is one thing the American people still have not really caught on to is the fact that while they were screaming out ‘Support Our Troops’ the current regime makers were fucking the military and veterans out of almost every social program and non essential service that would make life easier.” . . . “Bush really fucked us while we were gone. We found out about after being in the middle of heavy fighting for several weeks. It was one of the first things I read in Stars and Stripes, and I thought it was a joke because it was just to hard to believe Congress and our leaders would screw us that bad while we were fighting and dying.” . . . ---“I want to talk about some of the children I saw killed for no reason, maybe it will wake someone up who doesn’t believe it was happening, or that it was very bad. I can tell you I will never forget the screams of the wounded or orphaned kids, or the wailing of the parents who lost their kids." . . . “Let me tell you about the cluster bomb raid we saw wipe out a whole bunch of little kids. It looked like they had already lost their parents and were trying to salvage food from a destroyed Iraqi convoy by the side of the road we were on. The kids were way off to the side about half a mile away by then when we got the word that the Iraqi column was going to be hit with cluster bombs and we had to clear the area. We got on the radio and tried to get the air strike stopped but we were told it was too late to get it stopped.” . . . “We could see the body parts flying up into the air after the bombs hit. It was terrible and we could not do a damn thing but watch it happen and scream into the radio at the dumb shit pilot that was dropping the bombs. After the strike was over we went to see if there were any survivors and all we found was bits and pieces of little kids and here and there an arm or leg you could still identify.” . . . “Let all those people who support our troops in on that nice surprise that Bush gave us. That’s how much we really mean to Bush, the Department of Defense and all those other stupid assholes who keep saying how good we’re doing over there. Let those patriotic morons go and fight and die for our country. Let them leave their families behind for months and maybe come back home in a box. I’ll be the first one to salute them or honor them when they die.” . . . “It’s just like Nam was in the beginning. I was twelve when my dad got back and I’ll never forget the pain and agony he lived with the rest of his life. Its kind of what I feel now, I suppose. I never thought I would ever serve in some stuff that’s so much like Nam it isn’t funny. Now I really see what my pop went through, and if I could I would go back in the past a few months, I would go AWOL or turn conscientious objector on them, but it’s too late for that now.” . . . I wish more guys would stand up and tell Bush and the Pentagon they will not fight their war for oil. We should not have to die for these rich bastards profits and enrichment.” . . . This war is killing the poor or middle class American men and women who went in the armed forces to have college or some kind of better future. You don’t see the rich kids joining up or any Senator’s kid dying in Iraq. It’s us little guys who are dying over there or getting disabled for life. Where are the leaders that are supposed to be looking out for the little man? They are elected to look after out interests not the interests of Cheney and Halliburton, or any of the rest of the fat cats piling up the profits while the blood of our soldiers flows over their hands.” . . . Any final thoughts or words?” . . . ---“Yeah! Wake up America! Your sons and daughters are dying for nothing! This war is not about freedom or stopping terrorism. Bring us home now! We are dying for oil and corporate greed!”
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posted by Lorenzo 3:27 PM
Six in Ten Iraqis Unemployed, but U. S. Subcontractors Hire Cheap Migrant Laborers
(The Daily MISLeader, October 16, 2003)
Even though seven million Iraqis are unemployed, U.S. sub-contractors are rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure with cheap migrant labor from South Asia. The use of Asian laborers is at odds with President Bush's emphasis on the importance of Iraqis taking on the job themselves. . . . Bush has said the key to "rebuilding a democratic and prosperous Iraq is the Iraqi people themselves." Paul Bremer, the Bush appointee overseeing post-war Iraq, likewise has talked of the need to turn around the country's 60 percent unemployment rate and "to fix a very sick economy." . . . However, the head of the Iraqi Jobless Association, Kasem Hadi, is critical of the Bush Administration's lack of progress. "Following four rounds of talks with [Bremer's] representatives, we made no progress regarding the unemployment crisis," Hadi says. . . . Meanwhile, U.S. Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, one of Bremer's colleagues, has raised questions about the reliability of foreign workers. "You find [them] in out-of-the-way corners taking 15 minute naps," she notes. . . . At the same time, officials of the Iraqi Governing Council are concerned that large American contractors, including Halliburton and Bechtel, may be inflating the cost of the reconstruction projects. The Iraqi governors told members of the U.S. Congress that Iraqi companies could be doing the work at 10 percent of the cost.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:08 AM
Bush Tried to Take Funds from Military School Kids to Pay for Iraqi-Afghan Policies
The Daily Mis-Lead, 10/13/2003
President Bush attempted to slash money from the program that pays to educate the children of military men and women even while saying, "Our men and women in uniform give America their best and we owe them our support."1
At the same time the President lauded the "great courage"2 of the soldiers he sent to Iraq, he requested major cuts in the Impact Aid3 program that provides funds for the schooling of the 900,0004 children of military families. Bush tried to take $172 million from Impact Aid5 and shortchange its funding by $583 million under the No Child Left Behind Act. The cutbacks would have directly affected children of troops currently deployed in Iraq.6
The cutbacks were part of Bush's budgetary effort to find $87 billion for his policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, which include $40 million for school programs to benefit Iraqi children.7
Congress defied the President on his cutbacks, however. The House added $223 million to Impact Aid, and the Senate slightly less. Apparently, Bush will accept the funding rather than resort to a veto.
1. Address of the President to the Joint Session of Congress, February 27, 2001
2. Remarks by the President on the Wartime Supplemental Budget, March 25, 2003
3. Passed in 1950, Impact Aid is intended to offset the revenue lost to local schools as a result of the tax-exempt status of federal property, i.e. a military base. In other words, the federal government acts as the local taxpayer through funding the Impact Aid program.
4. Officials: Cuts Unlikely For Impact Aid; Bush Proposal Gets A Chilly Reception, Editorial, The Honolulu Advertiser, April 14, 2003
5. Support for Troops Questioned; Democrats Detail Bush's Cuts in Military Family Benefits, The Washington Post, June 17, 2003
6. GOP Funding Bill Shortchanges America's Children By Underfunding Key Education Priorities, A state-by-State Analysis, July 9, 2003
6. Rebuilding Iraq: What U.S. Taxpayers are Paying For, Rep. Rahm Emanuel
7. Department Of Education Fiscal Year 2004 Congressional Action, 9/16/03
*****urls to sources are available through the articles' main webpage.*****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 12:26 PM
What is Victory?
(Pat Buchanan, The American Conservative, October 6, 2003)
How do we know when we’ve won the war in Iraq? How do we define victory? . . . We know who we are fighting against —Ba’athists, jihadists, unreconstructed Saddam-loyalists, America-haters. But what are we fighting for? . . . “Freedom,” comes the retort, “democracy.” But Iraq is already free of Saddam. And what do we mean by democracy? If it means one-man, one-vote majority rule, Iraq will be governed by a Shi’ite majority that looks to Iran for inspiration and guidance. . . . Is that worth $87 billion and a daily toll of American dead? . . . Some of us would settle for an Iraq free of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, where no attack on America is planned and no terror plot by al-Qaeda is tolerated. But it now appears—after four months of inspections by a 1,400-man Anglo-American team—that that is what we had under Saddam Hussein. . . . What the enemy is fighting for seems far less gauzy. His goal: expel the Americans from Iraq. If we cannot define victory, our enemy can. And it is a sobering thought that no Arab or Islamic revolution that fought hard to expel a Western power has been defeated in 60 years. . . . First, America has never been so widely hated in the Arab world. . . . Second, the U.S. war on Iraq is seen in the Islamic world as a war of aggression waged on falsified charges that Saddam’s Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and played a role in Sept. 11. . . . Third, where the U.S. was on the offensive in Desert Storm and in Operation Iraqi Freedom, we are now on the defensive. It is we who are the occupying power. Ours is the detested presence in an Arab capital. . . . Sting and infuriate the occupier by killing his soldiers, provoking him into lashing out and wounding and killing non-combatants, or even allies, like the Iraqi police in Fallujah. Thus, radicalize the people and polarize the nation between collaborators who side with the Americans and patriots and nationalists who gravitate to the resistance. Thus do we convert a terror war into a guerrilla war into a people’s war. And down that long bloody road lies victory: the expulsion of the Americans and a regime of their own choosing. . . . It is the formula used by anti-colonial and anti-imperial movements from the Irish in 1919-1921, to the Irgun in Palestine, to the Mau Mau in Kenya, to the FALN in Algeria, to ZANU and ZAPU in Rhodesia, to the ANC in South Africa, to Hezbollah in Lebanon, to Hamas on the West Bank. The only way such movements have been defeated—in Puerto Rico in the 1950s and El Salvador in the 1980s—was when the Western power was able enlist nationalism on its side. . . . In Iraq, we have not yet done that. Indeed, we appear to be losing the battle for hearts and minds.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:27 PM
Fighting a second, open-ended war in Iraq
(The Daily Star, 03 October 2003)
A key development in US policy toward Iraq has occurred in recent days, signifying the beginning of an open-ended commitment to remain in Iraq at a time when the central US objectives for going to war have been achieved and a growing number of Americans are questioning the American presence there. . . . Until recently the objectives driving US policy were fairly clear, limited and quantifiable. The administration of President George W. Bush intended to depose former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, locate and destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and install a democratic successor in Baghdad. Such goals were not above controversy, particularly the latter one given Iraq’s tumultuous political history. Nevertheless, the success or failure of the policy agenda could be readily determined. . . . The war against Iraq, it seems, is actually two wars. The first one against the former Baath regime has been won. The second a war against international Islamist terror will be far more difficult, more costly in American lives and money and impossible to declare over anytime soon. The war against Saddam has seamlessly morphed into the main front of World War IV. . . . The ties between Saddam and Al-Qaeda were always marginal at best, never so intimate to suggest that Iraq was the Times Square of international terror. Yet to listen to Washington, that is just what the country has become. Since the victory against Saddam, we are now told, Iraq has been transformed into the key battleground against Islamist terror. Iraq, it is said, is to the US mainland what the West Bank is to Israel. It is preferable to engage the enemy on foreign soil than in the heartland. Better Baghdad than Des Moines. . . . Young men anxious for jihad are streaming into Iraq across borders the US Army, engaged in other pursuits, has chosen not to secure. Their numbers are more reliably put at some hundreds at the most. But for leaders looking for a politically correct explanation of why many Iraqis are growing tired of the American presence and its insistent desire to run their country, and for an explanation as to why some are even taking up arms against American soldiers, invoking this amorphous, faceless and merciless enemy works quite nicely. . . . The war against terror now being conducted in Iraq has many advantages for those favoring a lengthy US occupation. Like the battle against communism, the war against terror has no single enemy, leader, or faction. It is, therefore, less problematic to identify those who oppose the US as emissaries of its worst enemy. Like the Cold War, it is a battle of wills, for which Americans must be prepared to sacrifice treasure and blood at home and abroad. The war will not be soon won, we are told. And when terror is the antagonist, cutting and running, as the US did in Lebanon and Somalia, is simply not an option. When it comes to Iraq, exit strategies are for wimps. . . . There is, however, one small problem with the package being prepared by the Bush administration. Washington’s view of Iraq reflects a triumph of ideology over reality. It paints a picture that obscures rather than clarifies the challenges and dangers that continuing occupation poses. A long road of blood and tears will be traveled before this sober truth is appreciated.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:22 PM