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(by Riverbend, an Iraqi civilian girl)
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In Iraq, Pace of U.S. Casualties Has Accelerated
(Vernon Loeb, Washington Post, December 28, 2003)
The number of U.S. service members killed and wounded in Iraq has more than doubled in the past four months compared with the four months preceding them, according to Pentagon statistics. . . . From Sept. 1 through Friday, 145 service members were killed in action in Iraq, compared with 65 from May 1 to Aug. 30. The two four-month intervals cover counterinsurgency operations, far costlier than major combat operations, which President Bush declared over on May 1. . . . Increases in those wounded in action have been equally dramatic this fall. Since Sept. 1, 1,209 soldiers have received battlefield wounds, more than twice the 574 wounded in action from May 1 through Aug. 30. . . . Nor have casualties tapered off since the capture of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein on Dec. 13. Through Friday, 12 service members were killed in action and 105 were wounded with Hussein in custody. . . . "The rate of casualties over the last four months is an indication that the insurgents are getting better organized," said retired Lt. Col. Andrew F. Krepinevich, director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank. "The insurgents have been encouraged by the fact that they have had some success." . . . Americans are clearly growing weary of casualties. Washington Post-ABC News polling data from late March, during major combat operations, showed that 58 percent of Americans interviewed said they thought the number of casualties in Iraq was acceptable, with 34 percent saying the number was unacceptable. . . . The latest results, based on interviews conducted Dec. 18-21 with 1,001 randomly selected adults nationwide, indicate that those percentages have flipped, with only 33 percent saying the number of casualties is acceptable and 64 percent saying it is unacceptable. . . . support for the war could erode dramatically, defense analysts and public opinion experts said, if casualties continue at a relatively high rate next year and start to have the effect of undermining public confidence in the mission. . . . The number of soldiers wounded in action totaled 2,333, with an additional 370 injured in non-hostile circumstances. The total wounded in action in counterinsurgency operations, 1,783, is now more than three times the 550 wounded in action during major combat operations. . . . Peter D. Feaver, a professor of political science at Duke University and an expert on war and public opinion, said continued casualties could reach a "tipping point" at which the Bush administration loses the most important element in public support for the war: a belief that success is likely. . . . A single event that causes a large number of U.S. casualties, such as the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, could push the public toward the tipping point, said retired Marine Lt. Col. Gary D. Solis, the Marine Corps' chief of oral history. . . . "We've never been as casualty-averse as either the politicians said or the military thought," Solis said, speaking for himself, not the Marine Corps. "But that can change in an instant." . . . a considerable number of casualties in Iraq have been from the Army Reserve and the National Guard, meaning that while they, too, volunteered to serve, they went to war directly from their homes in communities across America. . . . "The deaths of Guardsmen and reservists is likely to start hitting home in the near future," said Larry Johnson, a former CIA and State Department analyst with ties to U.S. military's Special Forces. "The deaths of comrades hit them harder and have a more damaging effect on unit morale."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:55 AM

 
Letters US Troops Have Sent to Michael Moore

You'd be surprised at how many of the guys I talked to in my company and others believed that the president's scare about Saddam's WMD was a bunch of bullshit and that the real motivation for this war was only about money. There was also a lot of crap that many companies, not just marine companies, had to go through with not getting enough equipment to fulfill their missions when they crossed the border. It was a miracle that our company did what it did the two months it was staying in Iraq during the war…. We were promised to go home on June 8th, and found out that it was a lie and we got stuck doing missions for an extra three months. Even some of the most radical conservatives in our company including our company gunnery sergeant got a real bad taste in their mouth about the Marine corps, and maybe even president Bush.

Dear Mike -- I’m writing this without knowing if it’ll ever get to you…I’m writing it from the trenches of a war (that’s still going on,) not knowing why I’m here or when I’m leaving. I’ve toppled statues and vandalized portraits, while wearing an American flag on my sleeve, and struggling to learn how to understand… I joined the army as soon as I was eligible – turned down a writing scholarship to a state university, eager to serve my country, ready to die for the ideals I fell in love with. Two years later I found myself moments away from a landing onto a pitch black airstrip, ready to charge into a country I didn't believe I belonged in, with your words (from the Oscars) repeating in my head. My time in Iraq has always involved finding things to convince myself that I can be proud of my actions; that I was a part of something just. But no matter what pro-war argument I came up with, I pictured my smirking commander-in-chief, thinking he was fooling a nation…

I would like to tell you how difficult it is to serve under a man who was never elected. Because he is the president and my boss, I have to be very careful as to who and what i say about him. This also concerns me a great deal... to limit the military's voice is to limit exactly what America stands for... and the greater percentage of us feel completely underpowered. He continually sets my friends, my family, and several others in a kind of danger that frightens me beyond belief. I know several other soldiers who feel the same way and discuss the situation with me on a regular basis.

I have just returned home from "Operation Iraqi Freedom". I spent 5 months in Baghdad, and a total of 3 years in the U.S. Army. I was recently discharged with Honorable valor and returned to the States only to be horrified by what I've seen my country turn into. I'm now 22 years old and have discovered America is such a complicated place to live, and moreover, Americans are almost oblivious to what's been happening to their country. America has become "1984." Homeland security is teaching us to spy on one another and forcing us to become anti-social. Americans are willingly sacrificing our freedoms in the name of security, the same Freedoms I was willing to put my life on the line for. The constitution is in jeopardy. As Gen. Tommy Franks said, (broken down of course) One more terrorist attack and the constitution will hold no meaning.

Wow, 130,000 troops on the ground, nearly 500 deaths and over a billion dollars a day, but they caught a guy living in a hole. Am I supposed to be dazzled??
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 6:20 PM

 

This pretty much sums it up for the US.



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posted by Lorenzo 4:19 PM

 
Indications Saddam Was Not in Hiding But a Captive
(DEBKAfile Special Report, December 14, 2003)
[COMMENT: A Web review site has this to say about DEBKAfile, "This Jerusalem-based site has achieved recent notoriety for its tip-sheet-like reports from the war zone. Run by two self-described "experienced" foreign correspondents, the site offers commentary and analysis of global events, especially from the Middle East. Caution: Most of the information is attributed to unidentified sources. But Debkafile has been ahead of the pack often enough to suggest that the reporting is good. Some of it is frightening, like a recent report that bin Laden has 100 or so "lone wolves" operating under deep cover inside the U.S. and abroad waiting to carry out preprogrammed missions." ... So you may want to take the following article with a grain of salt ... or not.]

A number of questions are raised by the incredibly bedraggled, tired and crushed condition of this once savage, dapper and pampered ruler who was discovered in a hole in the ground on Saturday, December 13: [followed by the enumeration of seven particulars] . . . According to DEBKAfile analysts, these seven anomalies point to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein was not in hiding; he was a prisoner. . . . After his last audiotaped message was delivered and aired over al Arabiya TV on Sunday November 16, on the occasion of Ramadan, Saddam was seized, possibly with the connivance of his own men, and held in that hole in Adwar for three weeks or more, which would have accounted for his appearance and condition. Meanwhile, his captors bargained for the $25 m prize the Americans promised for information leading to his capture alive or dead. The negotiations were mediated by Jalal Talabanis Kurdish PUK militia. . . . These circumstances would explain the ex-rulers docility described by Lt.Gen. Ricardo Sanchez as resignation in the face of his capture by US forces. He must have regarded them as his rescuers and would have greeted them with relief. . . . From Gen. Sanchezs evasive answers to questions on the $25m bounty, it may be inferred that the Americans and Kurds took advantage of the negotiations with Saddams abductors to move in close and capture him on their own account, for three reasons: . . . A. His capture had become a matter of national pride for the Americans. No kudos would have been attached to his handover by a local gang of bounty-seekers or criminals. The country would have been swept anew with rumors that the big hero Saddam was again betrayed by the people he trusted, just as in the war. . . . B. It was vital to catch his kidnappers unawares so as to make sure Saddam was taken alive. They might well have killed him and demanded the prize for his body. But they made sure he had no means of taking his own life and may have kept him sedated. . . . C. During the weeks he is presumed to have been in captivity, guerrilla activity declined markedly especially in the Sunni Triangle towns of Falluja, Ramadi and Balad - while surging outside this flashpoint region in Mosul in the north and Najef, Nasseriya and Hilla in the south. It was important for the coalition to lay hands on him before the epicenter of the violence turned back towards Baghdad and the center of the Sunni Triangle.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 8:18 PM

 
Saddam Bound

By Israel Shamir

- Turn on the TV, - my wife, alerted by a phone call, yelled from the kitchen On the screen was George W. Bush's mug photo with a caption reading 'Bush - the former dictator is arrested'.

I can't deny it was a moment of great elation. Indeed, Mr Bush deserved to be arrested and tried - for his invasion of sovereign Iraq and Afghanistan, for the thousands of dead and tortured men and women wherever he took his War on Islam, for his support of ENRON, and for his doubtful role in September 11. In light of the Patriot Act which gave the government broader surveillance authority and erased the traditional American liberties, and for the unconstitutional way he got to the White House, Mr Bush can indeed be called 'a dictator'. But 'former'? Had the people of the United States shown themselves the worthy heirs to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, risen up in arms and removed the tyrant?

Alas, no such luck. The former dictator referred to was, of cause, the deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. What an anticlimax! Pictures of the humiliated Hussein, bearded, tired, confused, treated like a captured tiger in a Zoo, were repeating endlessly. He opened his mouth, and we were forced to look in. He looked human and frail; too human, his dishevelled beard and large innocent eyes make him akin to Leo Tolstoy or Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Indeed, if in December 1941, Hitler's army had not been stopped by the 39 Red Guards of Panfilov on the outskirts of Moscow, this would have been the fate of Joseph Stalin; to be brought in an iron cage to Berlin and presented as 'the captured, bloody dictator'. And it would have been Mao Zedong's fate, too, had the Chinese soldiers not stopped General Macarthur's hordes on the banks of Yalu River in 1950. Vae victis, woe is defeat, especially a defeat to the ruthless and arrogant enemy.

I crossed the street to a Palestinian caf, where Jerusalem artists and teachers mingle with villagers on business in the big city over backgammon and cardamom coffee. Gloom was hanging over the low tables like a rain cloud in the December air. The Palestinians were distressed and spoke in hushed tones. Their best feelings were hurt by the dishonourable display of the captive ruler. Whether one liked Saddam Hussein or not, he was the legitimate President of a great Arab nation, and his humiliation was the humiliation of all Arabs.

He was not the first captured ruler in the world's bloody and long history. More than 800 years ago, the great West European Crusader princes were captured by a victorious Arab army. Then, however, the Arab commander, Saladin, treated the captives courteously. He did not parade them with an open, red-painted mouth in front of his troops. But Chivalry and Honour, so dear to an Arab heart, are not American virtues: the US dared to attack Iraq only after ten years of UN sanctions disarmed it.

The Palestinians had additional reasons to worry. Iraq was a big and independent Arab country. It was by no means a counterbalance to the united might of Israel and the US, but its existence could stay the Zionist hand from particularly wild actions. In 1948, Iraqi volunteers stopped the Israeli army expelling the Palestinian residents of Jenin and Nablus, and saved them from the fate of homeless refugees. In 1973, the Iraqi presence stopped Israelis moving on to Damascus. Since then, the Iraqis have supported Palestinians, collecting money to sent to Palestinian widows and orphans of the resistance.

But the American-installed regime in Baghdad is rabidly anti-Palestinian and pro-Israeli. Ahmad Chalabi, the American protg, called to establish friendly relations with Israel; plans to send Iraqi oil to Haifa refineries are being discussed, and the occupation forces expelled Palestinian refugees from their temporary homes in Baghdad. Saddam Hussein could not do much; his anti-Islamic policy did not endear him to religious Arabs, but he was a friend, and an independent Arab voice.

Israelis in a nearby pub were excited. For them, Hussein's capture was good news politically and economically. Since the US-led victory, the Israeli companies have aggressively moved into Iraq. "All inquiries about doing business in Iraq are referred to a select list of intermediaries issued by the American authorities", I was told by an Australian businessman. "All are Jewish and most of them are Israeli. Heading the list is the Israeli law firm that Douglas Feith (an American extreme-Zionist official) is a partner in". The Iraqi Jews have presented multi-billion dollar claims for properties they claim were confiscated from them. Hussein's capture will undermine the Iraqi resistance and allow the Israelis to increase their share of the war spoils.

But Israeli politicians foresee an even better outcome. "Deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein could be offered a deal in which he would give his captors information on . how he smuggled some of the weapons of mass destruction into Syria," said the military observer of the Israeli daily Haaretz. "In exchange, he would face life imprisonment and not be executed for war crimes", It will save George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair' bacon, following accusations that they lied to their people to justify war. More important, it would accomplish an old wish of Israeli leaders: the US tanks would roll into Damascus. With the conquest of Syria, the next stage of the Middle East subjugation to Israel would be complete, and the road to Saudi oil riches would be open.

In short, Hussein's capture will not bring peace to Iraq and the Middle East. Most probably, it will be used to jump-start the new round of war in the troubled area.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 9:26 PM

 
A warning from Robert Fisk in Baghdad

For Saddam has bequeathed to his country and to its would-be "liberators" something uniquely terrible: continued war. And there was one conclusion upon which every Iraqi I spoke to yesterday agreed.

This bedraggled, pathetic man with his matted, dirty hair, living in a hole in the ground with three guns and cash as his cave-companions - this man was not leading the Iraqi insurgency against the Americans. Indeed, more and more Iraqis were saying before Saddam's capture that the one reason they would not join the resistance to US occupation was the fear that - if the Americans withdrew - Saddam would return to power. Now that fear has been taken away. So the nightmare is over - and the nightmare is about to begin. For both the Iraqis and for us.

Robert Fisk in Baghdad
15 December 2003
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posted by Lorenzo 8:49 PM

 
Father Of Slain Soldier Finds No Joy In Saddam's Capture
(Newsnet5.com, 14 December 2003)
The war in Iraq has taken a personal toll on a northeast Ohio minister's life and he isn't exactly thrilled about the capture of Saddam Hussein. . . . Rev. Tandy Sloan, an assistant minister at Cleveland's Greater Friendship Baptist Church, lost his son in the war. Brandon Sloan was one of the first casualties in Iraq. . . . Sloan says if our nation's objective was to capture Saddam Hussein, then the mission was accomplished. . . . "But we we're over there under the pretense of stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction," said Sloan. . . . "The purpose and the reason why so many lives have been lost and why others are still in jeopardy was to secure the weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein of himself is not a weapon of mass destruction," he said. . . . But one grieving father wonders if the war was needed. . . . "It sounds more like a personal vendetta on part of this administration against Saddam Hussein and lives were lost as a result of that vendetta," . . . While many people are rejoicing over the capture of Saddam, Sloan still contends the current administration has not been up front about going to war in search of weapons of mass destruction.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 7:23 PM

 
Saddam Sideshow Obscures Reality
(David B. Livingstone, AlterNet, December 14, 2003)
It's worth wondering what we all might be paying attention to this particular Sunday morning were it not for this "triumph of American intelligence." . . . at least some would have been riveted by a lower-profile but no less interesting news item, one that surely would have been a hot topic on "Meet The Press": the Halliburton overcharges. . . . Remember? Just a day or two earlier, Halliburton, the company whose former leader just happens to be Vice President Cheney [who to this day continues to receive over $100,000 each year as a paycheck from Halliburton!] and which had the good fortune to get a fat billion-dollar no-bid Iraq reconstruction contract, was being excoriated by the Pentagon for some $60 million worth of inflated invoices. The malodorous stench of corruption was beginning to seep out of the hermetically sealed Bush bubble, and things were beginning to look a bit bleak for the administration on the homeland propaganda front. . . . But as if on cue, along comes assistance from that most unlikely of sources. America's boogeyman Saddam Hussein rides in to save the day, replete with appropriately bedraggled appearance and whipped-cur onscreen manner, just in time to deflect all eyes from a good hard look at the character of the man serving as their Commander In Chief. . . . Away with all of those tough questions about fraud and sweetheart insider deals. The photo-ops and soundbites from this one may go a long way toward overcoming that "mission accomplished" gaffe. . . . In the public eye, maybe. In reality, not by a long shot. A telling detail, somewhat glossed over in the television coverage, is the underwhelming response to Saddam's capture from the Iraqis themselves. . . . For them, the issue stopped being Saddam months ago. For the Iraqi people, the issue is now American occupation and the incontrovertible fact of America's failure to bring peace, stability and democracy to the country it destroyed not to mention its failure to justify doing so in the first place. . . . Besides the tough questions surrounding Halliburton that will now go unasked in the tide of Saddamania, there are other compelling issues which this glorious victory seems destined to sweep under the carpet. Where are those WMDs, anyway? How many civilians have we actually killed? Why are American service personnel still coming home in body bags, or with limbs missing? . . . And, given that the pre-war justifications for an attack have been systematically dismantled and discredited ad nauseum no ties to 9/11, no nuclear program, no chemical weapons, no anything why have we sacrificed our global credibility, the goodwill of much of the world, and hundreds of U.S. soldiers in the hellhole that Iraq has become? If the Bush administration has its way, the world may never know.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 5:16 PM

 
The privatisation of war: Mercenaries outnumber UK forces in Iraq
(Ian Traynor, The Guardian, December 10, 2003)
Private corporations have penetrated western warfare so deeply that they are now the second biggest contributor to coalition forces in Iraq after the Pentagon, a Guardian investigation has established. . . . While the official coalition figures list the British as the second largest contingent with around 9,900 troops, they are narrowly outnumbered by the 10,000 private military contractors now on the ground. . . . The investigation has also discovered that the proportion of contracted security personnel in the firing line is 10 times greater than during the first Gulf war. In 1991, for every private contractor, there were about 100 servicemen and women; now there are 10. . . . The private sector is so firmly embedded in combat, occupation and peacekeeping duties that the phenomenon may have reached the point of no return: the US military would struggle to wage war without it. . . . the US army estimates that of the $87bn (50.2bn) earmarked this year for the broader Iraqi campaign, including central Asia and Afghanistan, one third of that, nearly $30bn, will be spent on contracts to private companies. . . . The myriad military and security companies thriving on this largesse are at the sharp end of a revolution in military affairs that is taking us into unknown territory - the partial privatisation of war. . . . "This is a trend that is growing and Iraq is the high point of the trend," said Peter Singer, a security analyst at Washington's Brookings Institution. "This is a sea change in the way we prosecute warfare. There are historical parallels, but we haven't seen them for 250 years." . . . It is a trend that has been growing worldwide since the end of the cold war, a booming business which entails replacing soldiers wherever possible with highly paid civilians and hired guns not subject to standard military disciplinary procedures. . . . The biggest US military base built since Vietnam, Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, was constructed and continues to be serviced by private contractors. At Tuzla in northern Bosnia, headquarters for US peacekeepers, everything that can be farmed out to private businesses has been. The bill so far runs to more than $5bn. The contracts include those to the US company ITT, which supplies the armed guards, overwhelmingly US private citizens, at US installations. . . . In Israel, a US company supplies the security for American diplomats, a very risky business. In Colombia, a US company flies the planes destroying the coca plantations and the helicopter gunships protecting them, in what some would characterise as a small undeclared war. . . . In Kabul, a US company provides the bodyguards to try to save President Hamid Karzai from assassination, raising questions over whether they are combatants in a deepening conflict with emboldened Taliban insurgents. . . . And in the small town of Hadzici west of Sarajevo, a military compound houses the latest computer technology, the war games simulations challenging the Bosnian army's brightest young officers. . . . The use of mercenaries is outlawed by the Geneva conventions, but no one is accusing the Pentagon, while awarding more than 3,000 contracts to private companies over the past decade, of violating the laws of war. [COMMENT: WHY NOT?] . . . The Pentagon will "pursue additional opportunities to outsource and privatise", the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, pledged last year and military analysts expect him to try to cut a further 200,000 jobs in the armed forces. . . . It also enables the Americans, in particular, to wage wars by proxy and without the kind of congressional and media oversight to which conventional deployments are subject. . . . But if an American GI draws and uses his weapon in an off-duty bar brawl, he will be subject to the US judicial military code. If an American guard employed by the US company ITT in Tuzla does the same, he answers to Bosnian law. By definition these companies are frequently operating in "failed states" where national law is notional. The risk is the employees can literally get away with murder. . . . There are other formidable problems surfacing in what is uncharted territory - issues of loyalty, accountability, ideology, and national interest. By definition, a private military company is in Iraq or Bosnia not to pursue US, UN, or EU policy, but to make money.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:38 PM

 
Israelis Train US Troops in Assassination Techniques as New Phoenix Program Emerges
(Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker, December 8, 2003)
The Bush Administration has authorized a major escalation of the Special Forces covert war in Iraq. . . . The revitalized Special Forces mission is a policy victory for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who has struggled for two years to get the military leadership to accept the strategy of what he calls “Manhunts?—a phrase that he has used both publicly and in internal Pentagon communications. Rumsfeld has had to change much of the Pentagon’s leadership to get his way. “Knocking off two regimes allows us to do extraordinary things,? a Pentagon adviser told me, referring to Afghanistan and Iraq. . . . One step the Pentagon took was to seek active and secret help in the war against the Iraqi insurgency from Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East. According to American and Israeli military and intelligence officials, Israeli commandos and intelligence units have been working closely with their American counterparts at the Special Forces training base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in Israel to help them prepare for operations in Iraq. Israeli commandos are expected to serve as ad-hoc advisers—again, in secret—when full-field operations begin. . . . An American who has advised the civilian authority in Baghdad said, “The only way we can win is to go unconventional. We’re going to have to play their game. Guerrilla versus guerrilla. Terrorism versus terrorism. We’ve got to scare the Iraqis into submission.? . . . In Washington, there is now widespread agreement on one point: the need for a new American approach to Iraq. There is also uniform criticism of the military’s current response to the growing American casualty lists. . . . Inside the Pentagon, it is now understood that simply bringing in or killing Saddam Hussein and his immediate circle—those who appeared in the Bush Administration’s famed “deck of cards?—will not stop the insurgency. The new Special Forces operation is aimed instead at the broad middle of the Baathist underground. But many of the officials I spoke to were skeptical of the Administration’s plans. Many of them fear that the proposed operation—called “preëmptive manhunting? by one Pentagon adviser—has the potential to turn into another Phoenix Program. Phoenix was the code name for a counter-insurgency program that the U.S. adopted during the Vietnam War, in which Special Forces teams were sent out to capture or assassinate Vietnamese believed to be working with or sympathetic to the Vietcong. . . . The operation got out of control. According to official South Vietnamese statistics, Phoenix claimed nearly forty-one thousand victims between 1968 and 1972; the U.S. counted more than twenty thousand in the same time span. Some of those assassinated had nothing to do with the war against America but were targeted because of private grievances. William E. Colby, the C.I.A. officer who took charge of the Phoenix Program in 1968 (he eventually became C.I.A. director), later acknowledged to Congress that “a lot of things were done that should not have been done.? . . . A former C.I.A. official with extensive Middle East experience identified one of the key players on the new American-Iraqi intelligence team as Farouq Hijazi, a Saddam loyalist who served for many years as the director of external operations for the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence service. He has been in custody since late April. The C.I.A. man said that over the past few months Hijazi “has cut a deal,? and American officials “are using him to reactivate the old Iraqi intelligence network.? . . . The rising star in Rumsfeld’s Pentagon is Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, who has been deeply involved in developing the new Special Forces approach. . . . Cambone also shares Rumsfeld’s views on how to fight terrorism. They both believe that the United States needs to become far more proactive in combatting terrorism, searching for terrorist leaders around the world and eliminating them. And Cambone, like Rumsfeld, has been frustrated by the reluctance of the military leadership to embrace the manhunting mission. . . . One of the key planners of the Special Forces offensive is Lieutenant General William (Jerry) Boykin, Cambone’s military assistant. After a meeting with Rumsfeld early last summer—they got along “like two old warriors,? the Pentagon consultant said—Boykin postponed his retirement, which had been planned for June, and took the Pentagon job, which brought him a third star. In that post, the Pentagon adviser told me, Boykin has been “an important piece? of the planned escalation. In October, the Los Angeles Times reported that Boykin, while giving Sunday-morning talks in uniform to church groups, had repeatedly equated the Muslim world with Satan. Last June, according to the paper, he told a congregation in Oregon that “Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army.? Boykin praised President Bush as a “man who prays in the Oval Office,? and declared that Bush was “not elected? President but “appointed by God.? The Muslim world hates America, he said, “because we are a nation of believers.? . . . There were calls in the press and from Congress for Boykin’s dismissal, but Rumsfeld made it clear that he wanted to keep his man in the job. . . . Boykin has been involved in other controversies as well. He was the Army combat commander in Mogadishu in 1993, when eighteen Americans were slain during the disastrous mission made famous by Mark Bowden’s book “Black Hawk Down.? Earlier that year, Boykin, a colonel at the time, led an eight-man Delta Force that was assigned to help a Colombian police unit track down the notorious drug dealer Pablo Escobar. Boykin’s team was barred by law from providing any lethal assistance without Presidential approval, but there was suspicion in the Pentagon that it was planning to take part in the assassination of Escobar, with the support of American Embassy officials in Colombia. The book “Killing Pablo,? an account, also by Mark Bowden, of the hunt for Escobar, describes how senior officials in the Pentagon’s chain of command became convinced that Boykin, with the knowledge of his Special Forces superiors, had exceeded his authority and intended to violate the law. They wanted Boykin’s unit pulled out. It wasn’t. Escobar was shot dead on the roof of a barrio apartment building in Medellín. The Colombian police were credited with getting their man, but, Bowden wrote, “within the special ops community . . . Pablo’s death was regarded as a successful mission for Delta, and legend has it that its operators were in on the kill.? . . . The American-Israeli liaison on Iraq amounts to a tutorial on how to dismantle an insurgency. One former Israeli military-intelligence officer summarized the core lesson this way: “How to do targeted killing, which is very relevant to the success of the war, and what the United States is going to have to do.? He told me that the Americans were being urged to emulate the Israeli Army’s small commando units, known as Mist’aravim, which operate undercover inside the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “They can approach a house and pounce,? the former officer said. In the Israeli view, he added, the Special Forces units must learn “how to maintain a network of informants.? . . . The brazen Iraqi attacks on two separate American convoys in Samarra, on November 30th, provided further evidence of the diversity of the opposition to the occupation. Samarra has been a center of intense anti-Saddam feelings, according to Ahmed S. Hashim, an expert on terrorism who is a professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College. In an essay published in August by the Middle East Institute, Hashim wrote, “Many Samarra natives—who had served with distinction in the Baath Party and the armed forces—were purged or executed during the course of the three decades of rule by Saddam and his cronies from the rival town of Tikrit.? He went on, “The type of U.S. force structure in Iraq—heavy armored and mechanized units—and the psychological disposition of these forces which have been in Iraq for months is simply not conducive to the successful waging of counter-insurgency warfare.? . . . At present, there is no legislation that requires the President to notify Congress before authorizing an overseas Special Forces mission. The Special Forces have been expanded enormously in the Bush Administration. The 2004 Pentagon budget provides more than six and a half billion dollars for their activities—a thirty-four-per-cent increase over 2003. A recent congressional study put the number of active and reserve Special Forces troops at forty-seven thousand, and has suggested that the appropriate House and Senate committees needed to debate the “proper overall role? of Special Forces in the global war on terrorism.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:24 PM

 
A telling quote
With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince people that we are here to help them.
LT. COL. NATHAN SASSAMAN, whose unit oversees the Iraqi village of Abu Hishma.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:36 AM

 
State Department WMD Expert Possibly Murdered
(Wayne Madsen, From the Wilderness, November 20, 2003)
an official of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research Near East and South Asian division (INR/NESA), John J. Kokal, 58, was found dead in the late afternoon of November 7. Police indicated he may have jumped from the roof of the State Department. Kokal's body was found at the bottom of a 20 foot window well, 8 floors below the roof of the State Department headquarters near the 23rd and D Street location. Kokal's death was briefly mentioned in a FOX News website story on November 8 but has been virtually overlooked by the major media. . . . Kokal's INR bureau was at the forefront of confronting claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Washington police have not ruled out homicide as the cause of his death. Kokal was not wearing either a jacket or shoes when his body was found. . . . Another INR official, weapons expert Greg Thielmann, said he and INR were largely ignored by Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton and his deputy, David Wurmser, a pro-Likud neo-conservative who recently became Vice President Dick Cheney's Middle East adviser. Kokal's former boss, the recently retired chief of INR, Carl W. Ford, recently said that Bolton often exaggerated information to steer people in the wrong directions. . . . A former INR employee revealed that some one-third to one-half of INR officials are either former intelligence agents with the CIA or are detailed from the agency. He also revealed it would have been impossible for Kokal to have gained entry to the roof on his own. INR occupies both a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) on the sixth floor that has no windows and a windowless structure on the roof that has neither windows nor access to the roof, according to the former official. The other windows at the State Department have been engineered to be shatter proof from terrorist bomb attacks and cannot be opened. . . . INR and other State Department officials report that a "chill" has set in at the State Department following Kokal's defenestration. A number of employees are afraid to talk about the suspicious death. It also unusual that The Northern Virginia Journal, a local Arlington newspaper, has not published an obituary notice on Kokal.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:02 PM

 
The BBC's Pro-War Reporting: Myth and Reality
(John Pilger, Information Clearing House, December 5, 2003)
Greg Dyke, the BBCs director general, has attacked American television reporting of Iraq. "For any news organisation to act as a cheerleader for government is to undermine your credibility," he said. "They should be... balancing their coverage, not banging the drum for one side or the other." He said research showed that, of 840 experts interviewed on American news programmes during the invasion of Iraq, only four opposed the war. "If that were true in Britain, the BBC would have failed in its duty." . . . Did Dyke say all this with a straight face? Lets look at what research shows about the BBCs reporting of Iraq. Media Tenor, the non-partisan, Bonn-based media research organisation, has examined the Iraq war reporting of some of the worlds leading broadcasters, including the US networks and the BBC. It concentrated on the coverage of opposition to the war. . . . The second-worst case of denying access to anti-war voices was ABC in the United States, which allowed them a mere 7 per cent of its overall coverage. The worst case was the BBC, which gave just 2 per cent of its coverage to opposition views views that represented those of the majority of the British people. A separate study by Cardiff University came to the same conclusion. The BBC, it said, had "displayed the most pro-war agenda of any [British] broadcaster." . . . Consider the first Newsnight broadcast after the greatest political demonstration in British history on 15 February. The studio discussion was confined to interviews with a Tory member of the House of Lords, a Tory MP, an Oxford don, an LSE professor, a commentator from the Times and the views of the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw. Not one marcher was invited to participate, not one representative of the two million who had filled London in protest. . . . These are not isolated examples, but the BBC "style." What matters is that the received wisdom dominates and is protected. When a US missile killed 62 people at a market in Baghdad, BBC News affected a fake "who can tell whos responsible?" neutrality, a standard technique when the atrocity is "ours." On Newsnight, a BBC commentator dismissed the carnage with these words: "Its a war after all..." . . . During the 1991 Gulf war, BBC audiences were told incessantly about "surgical strikes" so precise that war had become almost a bloodless science. David Dimbleby asked the US ambassador: "Isnt it in fact true that America, by dint of the very accuracy of the weapons weve seen, is the only potential world policeman?" . . . Dimbleby, like his news colleagues, had been conned; most of the weapons had missed their military targets and killed civilians. . . . In 1991, according to the Guardian, the BBC told its broadcasters to be "circumspect" about pictures of civilian death and injury. This may explain why the BBC offered us only glimpses of the horrific truth that the Americans were systematically targeting civilian infrastructure and conducting a one-sided slaughter. Shortly before Christmas 1991, the Medical Education Trust in London estimated that more than 200,000 Iraqi men, women and children had died in the "surgical" assault and its immediate aftermath. . . . An archive search has failed to turn up a single BBC item reporting this. Similarly, a search of the BBCs coverage of the causes and effects of the 13-year embargo on Iraq has failed to produce a single report spelling out that which Madeleine Albright, Bill Clintons secretary of state, put so succinctly when asked if the deaths of half a million children were a price worth paying for sanctions. "We think the price is worth it," she replied. . . . There are honourable exceptions to all this, of course; but just as BBC production values have few equals, so do its self-serving myths about objectivity, impartiality and balance have few equals myths that have demonstrated their stamina since the 1920s, when John Reith, the BBCs first director general, secretly wrote propaganda for the Tory Baldwin government during the General Strike and noted in his diaries that impartiality was a principle to be suspended whenever the established order and its consensus were threatened. . . . That the BBC, like most of the Anglo-American media, reports the fate of whole societies according to their usefulness to "us," the euphemism for western power, and works diligently to minimise the culpability of British governments in great crimes, is self-evident and certainly unconspiratorial. It is simply part of a rich tradition.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:12 AM


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