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WMD IN IRAQ: Evidence and Implications

A new study from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, details what the U.S. and international intelligence communities understood about Iraq's weapons programs before the war and outlines policy reforms to improve threat assessments, deter transfer of WMD to terrorists, strengthen the UN weapons inspection process, and avoid politicization of the intelligence process. The report also reports that:
- Iraq WMD Was Not An Immediate Threat
- Inspections Were Working
- Intelligence Failed and Was Misrepresented
- Terrorist Connection Missing
- Post-War WMD Search Ignored Key Resources
- War Was Not the Best-Or Only-Option

Seems to me that we are being mislead again by the kabalists with their denials that they "sexed" up the intelligence. "Intelligence" seems to be the missing operative here and the government expects us to be as ignorant as they are. Well, as they say, that dog don't hunt. But, that's just my opinion.

An added note: To see what the World is saying about the Carnegie Endowment’s Report on WMD in Iraq, go here
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 8:51 PM

The Next 'Pentagon Papers'
Daniel Ellsberg, TomPaine.com, 1.28.04

As more and more U.S. and British families lose loved ones in Iraq—killed while ostensibly protecting a population that does not appear to want them there—they will begin to ask: "How did we get into this mess, and why are we still in it?" And the answers they find will be disturbingly similar to those the American public found for Vietnam.

I served three U.S. presidents—Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon—who lied repeatedly and blatantly about our reasons for entering Vietnam, and the risks in our staying there. For the past year, I have found myself in the horrifying position of watching history repeat itself. I believe that George Bush and Tony Blair lied—and continue to lie—as blatantly about their reasons for entering Iraq and the prospects for the invasion and occupation as the presidents I served did about Vietnam.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 9:52 PM

The First Lie
John C. Bonifaz, TomPaine.com, 01.27.04

While all of the Democratic presidential candidates (except Sen. Joseph Lieberman) criticize President George W. Bush for his unilateral recklessness in starting a war against Iraq, they are missing a larger point: The invasion was not just reckless. It was unconstitutional. The United States Congress never voted for the Iraq war. Rather, Congress voted for a resolution in October 2002 which unlawfully transferred to the president the decision-making power of whether to launch a first-strike invasion of Iraq. The United States Constitution vests the awesome power of deciding whether to send the nation into war solely in the United States Congress. Those members of Congress - including certain Democratic presidential candidates - who voted for that October resolution cannot now claim that they were deceived, as some of them do. By unlawfully ceding the war-declaring power to the president, they allowed the president to start a war against Iraq based on whatever evidence or whatever lies he chose. The members of Congress who voted for that October resolution are as complicit in this illegal war as is the president himself. In the midst of the rushed congressional debate in October 2002, U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) warned that the resolution under consideration was unconstitutional. "We are handing this over to the President of the United States," Byrd said. "When we do that, we can put up a sign on the top of this Capitol, and we can say: 'Gone home. Gone fishing. Out of business.'" Byrd added: "I never thought I would see the day in these forty-four years I have been in this body... when we would cede this kind of power to any president."

The Iraq war is in direct violation of the United States Constitution. The president and the members of Congress who voted for that October resolution should be held accountable for sending this nation into an illegal war. It is time to hold up the Constitution to the faces of those who dare to defy it. It is time to demand our country back.

******As a veteran and a Patriot (I know the difference between "Patriot" and "Nationalist" (do you??)) this aspect of the past 3 years is the most egregious and heart wrenching. I find it incomprehensible that the people of this country have sunk so low as to be taken in by the "snake oil salesmen" who have driven a stake through the heart of this country. Especially saddened am I that the families of our Servicemen (and the Servicemen themselves) continue to support the regime that is using them to prop up the illegal occupation of another sovereign nation for the purpose of plunder and profit for those who bought the Presidency. I cannot understand why the obviousness of the truth continues to remain off the radar (except that the bought-off media choose not to report it, I guess). Saddened for what we have lost as a nation; once proud and respected now tattered and reviled. It makes me sick. *********** But that's just my opinion.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:52 PM

Here we go again....

The kaballists currently entrenched in Washington are hoping that nobody was listening, again. Seems that they are now saying they never, that's NEVER said that Iraq was a threat to the US. "When asked about the issue yesterday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan claimed the entire WMD issue was unimportant because the Bush Administration had never said Iraq was a threat. He said, "the media have chosen to use the word 'imminent'" to describe the Iraqi "threat" - not the Bush Administration." Bush is also saying, as recently as yesterday, "... the president said, Iraq "chose defiance. It was [Saddam's] choice to make, and he did not let us in." Now I know I'm getting old and senile but Jeez Loiuse, is he that stupid as to think no one was listening and taking notes? For the sad story...go here

on another note: I read that with 38% ( why only 38%???) of the Republican Primary count completed, Bush garnered 88% of the vote... I wasn't aware that anyone was running against him - viable anyway. Seems many of the Republican faithful are not feeling so faithful - in fact many wrote in names of the Democratic candidates. Could be an interesting race afterall. If the race is really close, I look for the junta to "create" an incident that might distract the voters - hell, I wouldn't be surprised if they found a way to cancel the election - just coronate the fool and be done with all the side-stepping of the Constitution. But that's just my opinion...
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 1:55 PM

Supporting the Troops: A Critical Analysis
(Rene L. Gonzalez Berrios, 01/21/04)
I’m tired of this war. I’m tired of this Bush administration. I’m tired of the savage attacks against our liberties and elementary principles of international law and democracy. But most of all, I am tired of ingrained social fears that force individuals to take publicly-accepted (albeit erroneous, in my opinion) positions. One of these ingrained fears is the belief that we must support the troops, lest a whole host of other consequences occur. . . . The U.S. public today is comparable to the cowardly Germans of 1945, the only difference is that we will probably never have a General Eisenhower force us into our concentration camps (Guantanamo?) to witness and accept the horror that we unleashed on the world and on ourselves. After the war’s end, Eisenhower forced the civilian population of Germany to visit the concentration camps in which they had exterminated millions of Jews, homosexuals, communists, and other “undesirables”. It was, at the same moment, a horrifying emotional punishment and an emotional catharsis; a new beginning. . . . the American Republic is putting the finishing touches on what could be arguably characterized as the foundation for fascism. The baby steps are there: a catastrophic event and a subsequent government usurpation of liberties (Germany: The Reichstag Fire and the “Enabling Act”, U.S: Sept. 11th terrorist attack and the “Patriot Act”), a national media firmly under control of corporations, spewing out pro-government propaganda completely at odds with journalism virtually everywhere else in the world, a population in fear, a strong military, and a government drunk with its own self-righteous lunacy. All the ingredients for fascism at home and abroad are there. The differences are in degree, not in principles. We have initiated two wars, one arguably illegitimate and illegal (Afghanistan and Iraq). We have rounded up particular sets of citizens, based on racial, religious, and political grounds (Arabs, Sikh Indians, and other political dissidents). We’ve subverted international law in the process, and promoted a national culture of fear and war-hungry patriotism. . . . What remains, really, is for the United States to commit a large-scale holocaust on its own people, through the form of massive detentions of its own citizens and abroad. Other than that, we are pretty close in all the other pre-requisites for emulating Nazi Germany, which is why we here in the United States need to wakeup out of our complacency. . . . One curious hold-out of the “established truths” of the Right continues to evade this shift to the Left and its accompanying tide of reason, rationality, and critical analysis. This hold-out is the belief that we must support the troops. . . . I am aware that the position I take in this article is thoroughly unpopular (here in the United States, not in the world). Even people I admire (such as some of the more visible Leftist activists in the United States, like Michael Moore and others) would not agree to my position, and many have made public pronouncements linking opposition to the war and support of the troops. The very argument of “Supporting the Troops” is too broad to define it to one position. What I will do is to deal with some of the more commonly stated reasons for “Supporting the Troops” and attempt to debunk them. . . . Argument #1: The Troops are not to blame. It’s the politicians who are to blame. . . . I disagree. The troops and the politicians are both human beings with brains, consciences, and individual will to act in favor or against particular policies. Granted, I will not attempt to ignore the power dynamic that relatively shields politicians from the consequences of their actions and the precarious position of a dissenting soldier. To dissent as a soldier and to dissent as a politician are not equal things. But, ultimately, on the moral level, a soldier’s dissent is equal to a politician’s dissent (if it is genuine). . . . To argue that the politicians are solely to blame simply because they are in a position to decide policy is to morally absolve the soldiers from making the crucial decision of supporting or opposing the war. Ultimately, without soldiers’ support, there would be no war. . . . Soldiers may be intellectually absolved from knowing the true motives of U.S. wars (which are usually arguments about democracy, freedom, and humanitarian concerns, most if not historical lies), but they are not morally-absolved from having collaborated with the entire illegal venture. Their lack of knowledge (and in some cases, their conscious decision to be apathetic to the history of their country’s past and current military policies) allows for the kinds of brutal conflicts (like Vietnam and Iraq), in which the U.S. puts itself clearly in an oppressive situation. We in the United States may not like seeing ourselves in this way, but the rest of the world sure sees us that way. . . . I cannot ignore the millions of dead as a result of past and current U.S. military and foreign policies. I, therefore, cannot support the troops. It is they, by their own ignorance and by the supportive ignorance of their relatives back home that allow for the implementation of opportunistic U.S. foreign policies, directed by opportunistic and morally bankrupt U.S. “leaders”. . . . Argument #2: The troops don’t know what they do. They are simple soldiers, who follow orders. . . . They may not know, but they should have. Would we, as easily, dismiss the guilt of the German Gestapo soldiers, many who believed the propaganda of their own system, of the superiority of their national group, of the righteousness of their cause, despite the pleas of their victims and the dissenting opinions of various other Germans? . . . Following orders is not an excuse for participating in illegal wars and their accompanying illegal war crimes and humiliation of the victims. . . . The importance of Nuremberg is that it established for international law the principle that “following orders” did not absolve the accused of his guilt. Therefore, I claim Nuremberg’s principles (and the principles of Robert H. Jackson, the U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg) to argue that the U.S. soldiers who participated in the slaughters and colonial humiliation of this second Iraqi war should not be absolved of their responsibility for carrying out their illegal and unnecessary war orders. If it was good enough a standard to apply to the Nazi fascists and to the Japanese militarists, it is good enough to apply to our American neoconservative ideologues and their troops on the global chessboard. This charge is particularly strong considering the unprecedented nature and extent of the anti-war movement PRIOR to the war. U.S. troops should have known that their actions were illegal and unnecessary. There was ample public demonstrations and information against the war. . . . I have argued that supporting the troops is tantamount to the willful or accidental support of those troops’ actions. It is impossible to remain consistent and non-hypocritical by attempting to “support the troops” and separate that support from their willful or cowardly/non-active participation in the illegal and unnecessary Iraq War. To attempt to do so, is to argue that, on certain occasions (particularly when it involves OUR troops) it is acceptable to discount the consequences of our troops actions in an illegal war and not judge them to the same standards set forth at Nuremberg against the German Nazis, Italian fascists, and Japanese militarists. This may be comforting for the majority American population, it is not acceptable for the majority of the world (and does much to answer that most important philosophical question, “Why do they hate us?”). They hate us because we are acting like the German Nazis or Japanese imperial expansionists, at least in regards to our foreign policy principles and our treatment of established international law standards. What else can we expect the world to feel? Would we be any different in our strong condemnation of, say China, if it embarked on a similar course of warfare and imperial expansion? Would we not condemn her, justly, of violating the Nuremberg principles, the principles of international law, etc.? . . . But, one thing I refuse to acknowledge or support, is the long hold-out of recalcitrant and hypocritical right-wing thought which is the idea that "responsible" anti-war opponents must tie their opposition to the war to automatic support of the troops. I will take the more intellectually courageous, historically accurate, and world-supported position that war crimes are war crimes, wherever they occur, and that, as set forth in Nuremberg, soldiers cannot be absolved from guilt of crimes because of lacking the power to decide the foreign policy that sends them to war or from the argument that they were just following orders. . . . For the reasons outlined above, I cannot support the U.S war in Iraq and I cannot support the U.S. troops.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:46 AM

Graphic Video of US Troops Brutally Murdering a Wounded Iraqi
In this video a Marine executes a wounded Iraqi as he writhes on the ground in pain. Other Marines cheer. One tells reporter: "It was a good feeling.... Hell yeah, that was awesome. Let's do it again!"

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posted by Lorenzo 8:03 PM

Defiant cleric continues to frustrate coalition efforts to handpick a new government
(Andrew Cockburn, TimesOnline, January 16, 2004)
PRESIDENT Bush is desperate to transfer power to an Iraqi government and start withdrawing troops before the presidential election in November. But whether he succeeds depends largely on a venerable, self-deprecating 75-year-old cleric who gives no interviews, never appears on television and has not left his spartan home in the backstreets of Najaf, central Iraq, since Saddam Hussein’s agents tried to kill him ten years ago. . . . Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is the spiritual leader of Iraq’s 15 million Shia Muslims and wields an extraordinary moral authority over his flock. In recent months it has become increasingly clear that his veto of the US scheme to foist an unelected government of favoured allies on Iraq cannot be negotiated. Washington has already been forced to change its withdrawal plans twice in deference to his demands, but still he insists on direct elections. . . . The trouble with those, from the American point of view, is that they would not be able to control the outcome. . . . After the fall of Saddam, Ayatollah al-Sistani denounced looting, which rapidly died down in Shia towns and cities. . . . His representatives helped to organise local councils to enforce law and order and restore basic services. He issued a more controversial edict prohibiting lethal reprisals against former officials of the Baathist regime. “People even respected that, at least for a while,” one Shia politician said. . . . Leaders in the Shia hierarchy emerge, in part, on their ability to gain a following by virtue of their pronouncements on questions of religious law. Ayatollah al-Sistani also enjoyed the powerful support of the widely revered Grand Ayatollah al-Khoei, his teacher and predecessor as supreme religious authority. He shared his mentor’s distaste for the political philosophy of Ayatollah Khomeini, who spent years of exile in Najaf before returning to Iran. . . . Grand Ayatollah al-Khoei died in 1992, and Ayatollah al-Sistani assumed responsibility for a flock devastated by Saddam’s bloody reprisals for the Shia uprising after the 1991 Gulf War. Taking a low profile, he eschewed politics but still attracted a large following, thanks to the popularity of his rulings on law and personal behaviour. . . . Ayatollah al-Sistani remained politically aloof during last year’s war, declining either to condemn or endorse the coalition’s presence in Iraq. But in June he dropped a bombshell, issuing a ruling that declared the American plan to have a new constitution written by an unelected committee unacceptable and demanding that any new constitution be written by an elected assembly. . . . Eventually persuaded that this edict might be serious, Paul Bremer, Iraq’s American administrator, requested a meeting with Ayatollah al-Sistani, which was refused. . . . Mr Bremer then requested that the Ayatollah nominate representatives to meet his officials to negotiate a compromise. “Mr Bremer, you are American. I am Iranian. I suggest we leave it to the Iraqis to devise their constitution,” the Ayatollah replied. . . . Subsequent US efforts to find a way to hand power to a malleable Iraqi government have elicited unwavering demands from Ayatollah al-Sistani for one man, one vote. . . . “The Americans still don’t understand Sistani,” said one observer. “They treat him like a standard politician — ‘What will it take to make a deal?’— whereas he’s more of a law professor than a politician.” . . . Frustrated by the obstacle of the venerable cleric, some among the Iraqi Governing Council spread the word that the Ayatollah’s stance was dictated by his dogged opposition to full rights for women, and to other human rights principles that Mr Bush has promised Iraq. Supporters dismiss this as a “blatant lie”. . . . It is clear that Ayatollah al-Sistani could seriously derail coalition ambitions for the region by calling on his followers to protest en masse. . . . Should the US authorities remain in any doubt about his ability to get results, they might consider his impact on Iraqi petrol queues. Fuel shortages have been exacerbated by black marketeers cornering supplies, leading to enormous queues at petrol stations. . . . Finally, Ayatollah al-Sistani issued a fatwa against black market profiteering in petrol. The lines shrank by 75 per cent. It is an example President Bush would do well to remember.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:16 PM


Unofficial sources to Al Bawaba: Saddam's presidential secretary "dies" in US custody
(Albawaba.com: 07-01-2004) Unofficial Iraqi sources told Al Bawaba Wednesday that Abed Hamoud al-Tikriti, presidential secretary of former leader Saddam Hussein died two days ago while in US custody.
Iraqi security officials contacted by Al Bawaba declined to comment on the report, but have not denied it either.
Al-Tikriti was taken into custody on 18 June,2003 . Abed Hamoud was considered one of Saddam's closest aides, and controlled access to the president. He was said to have directed matters of state and handed down many of the ousted regime's orders. Upon his capture, the US authorities claimed Abed Hamoud possessed vital information about Iraq's alleged WMD. Since his detention, reports in the Arabic press have claimed he was tortured by US investigators to pressure him to provide information on weapons development programs.

[COMMENT: It looks like the Cheney-Bush junta's thugs still need some lessons from their Israeli masters in how to torture prisoners without killing them.]
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posted by Lorenzo 9:45 PM

'Civil War in Iraq is Inevitable'

GIs are dying. Rival factions are turning on each other. After freeing Iraq, can we keep it from coming apart? . . . The sneak attacks keep coming—against both Iraqi civilians and Coalition forces. Last week's deadliest incident was the crash of a U.S. medical helicopter near Fallujah, killing all nine aboard. Witnesses said the Black Hawk was brought down by ground fire. . . . Bush aides insist these are the death throes of the insurgency. And after more than 200 U.S. military deaths in Operation Iraqi Freedom, one more tragic attack can hardly alter the Pentagon's plans. Coalition control over Iraq's destiny—and its fractious ethnic and religious factions—is scheduled to end in less than six months, when the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) transfers power to an elected Iraqi leadership and disbands. . . . That thought scares Americans and Iraqis alike. Even if the transfer of authority allows GIs to step back from the front lines, deadly rivalries between Iraqis could make last week's bloodshed look like national unity. And an election-year U.S. troop drawdown is all but impossible. "If the Americans leave, there will definitely be a civil war," says Sheik Nadhim Khalil, 25, who has no great love for U.S. troops. In recent weeks they have ransacked his home and the mosque where he leads Friday services in Dholoiya, a farming town in the heart of the Sunni Triangle. U.S. officials think the best hope of preventing a bloodbath depends on creating an interim constitution that will somehow satisfy the demands of Iraq's disparate ethnic and religious groups. As if that alone didn't pose enough of a challenge, the deadline for producing the Transitional Administration Law is no later than Feb. 28. . . . a generation of Iraqi Kurds has grown up in a virtually independent state with its own laws, its own leaders and its own army. They don't want to trade their autonomy for life as an ethnic and religious minority in an overwhelmingly Arab nation of 25 million, including 15 million Shiites. On the contrary, the young Kurds are determined to reclaim an area that belonged to their people before the 1970s, when the Baghdad regime began a massive program of forced removals in and around the city of Kirkuk. The onetime Kurdish regional capital sits atop roughly 6 percent of the world's known oil reserves. . . . If the Kurds do secede, with or without Kirkuk, Bremer can scarcely hope to persuade other Iraqis to make sacrifices for the sake of national unity. . . . Khalil, who made a quick trip from Dholoiya to Baghdad a few days after the raid, says he has joined the shura. If his attitude is any sign of what the group's members think, the cause of national unity is in deep trouble. Khalil makes no secret of his contempt for Iraq's Shiite majority. In his Friday sermons he has called for the creation of Sunni militias to challenge the Shiites' 10,000 or so Iranian-trained paramilitary fighters and the Kurds' roughly 70,000 battle-hardened peshmerga fighters. "We are willing to sacrifice our sons and fathers to stop the rule of black turbans," he says, using a Sunni term of disparagement for Shiites. "Being ruled by Shiites would be the same as being ruled by Iran. This is unacceptable." Attendance at his mosque has doubled in recent months. . . . Iraq's neighbors are saying prayers of their own as they watch what's happening next door. They have all had their share of ethnic problems with Kurds and other minorities, but their concern goes deeper than that. When the WMD searches came up empty, Bush aides began claiming that the invasion was actually a way of planting the seeds of democracy in Arab lands. Now the fear is that Iraq's collapse could destabilize the entire region.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:55 AM

Revealed: how MI6 sold the Iraq war
The government yesterday confirmed that MI6 had organised Operation Mass Appeal, a campaign to plant stories in the media about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. . . . A senior official admitted that MI6 had been at the heart of a campaign launched in the late 1990s to spread information about Saddam’s development of nerve agents and other weapons . . . The admission followed claims by Scott Ritter, who led 14 inspection missions in Iraq, that MI6 had recruited him in 1997 to help with the propaganda effort. He described meetings where the senior officer and at least two other MI6 staff had discussed ways to manipulate intelligence material. . . . “The aim was to convince the public that Iraq was a far greater threat than it actually was,” Ritter said last week. . . . He said there was evidence that MI6 continued to use similar propaganda tactics up to the invasion of Iraq earlier this year. “Stories ran in the media about secret underground facilities in Iraq and ongoing programmes (to produce weapons of mass destruction),” said Ritter. “They were sourced to western intelligence and all of them were garbage.” . . . Ritter opposed the Iraq war but this is the first time that he has named members of British intelligence as being involved in a propaganda campaign. He said he had decided to “name names” because he was frustrated at “an official cover-up” and the “misuse of intelligence”. . . . “What MI6 was determined to do by the selective use of intelligence was to give the impression that Saddam still had WMDs or was making them and thereby legitimise sanctions and military action against Iraq,” he said. . . . Recent reports suggest America has all but abandoned hopes of finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that David Kay, head of the Iraq Survey Group, has resigned earlier than expected, frustrated that his resources have been diverted to tracking down insurgents.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:02 PM

Cheney-Bush Junta Planned on Attacking Iraq Long Before 9-11 Says Former Cabinet Member

The Bush Administration began laying plans for an invasion of Iraq including the use of American troops within days of President Bush's inauguration in January of 2001, not eight months later after the 9/11 attacks as has been previously reported. That is what former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill says in his first interview about his time as a White House insider. . . . "From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," he tells Stahl. "For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do is a really huge leap," says O'Neill. . . . O'Neill, fired by the White House for his disagreement on tax cuts, is the main source for an upcoming book, The Price of Loyalty, authored by Ron Suskind. Suskind says O'Neill and other White House insiders he interviewed gave him documents that show that in the first three months of 2001, the administration was looking at military options for removing Saddam Hussein from power and planning for the aftermath of Saddam's downfall, including post-war contingencies like peacekeeping troops, war crimes tribunals and the future of Iraq's oil. "There are memos," Suskind tells Stahl, "One of them marked 'secret' says 'Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq.'" A Pentagon document, says Suskind, titled "Foreign Suitors For Iraqi Oilfield Contracts," outlines areas of oil exploration. "It talks about contractors around the world from...30, 40 countries and which ones have what intentions on oil in Iraq," Suskind says. . . . In the book, O'Neill is quoted as saying he was surprised that no one in a National Security Council meeting questioned why Iraq should be invaded. "It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this,'" says O'Neill in the book. . . . Suskind also writes about a White House meeting in which he says the president seems to be wavering about going forward with his second round of tax cuts. "Haven't we already given money to rich people," Suskind says the president uttered, according to a nearly verbatim transcript of an Economic Team meeting he says he obtained from someone at the meeting, "Shouldn't we be giving money to the middle?" . . . O'Neill, who was asked to resign because of his opposition to the tax cut, says he doesn't think his tell-all account in this book will be attacked by his former employers as sour grapes. "I will be really disappointed if [the White House] reacts that way," he tells Stahl. "I can't imagine that I am going to be attacked for telling the truth."

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posted by Lorenzo 11:55 AM

Cheney's Chums Steal Another $1.82 Billion in Iraq Work
(Quicken.com, January 6, 2004)
A unit of Bechtel Group Inc. will receive $1.82 billion in additional Iraq reconstruction work, the first in a series of new contracts meant to accelerate the U.S.-led rebuilding effort there. . . . The award to Bechtel National Inc. nearly doubles the workload the privately held, San Francisco-based construction giant is already performing in Iraq. . . . Bechtel will take the lead, in partnership with Parsons Corp. of Pasadena, Calif., in overseeing work over the next two years that will focus largely on Iraq's battered electricity, water and transportation system. Just over $1 billion of the work will go to rebuild power stations and restore the electricity grid. [COMMENT: Of course, this is the very same infrastructure that the Cheney-Bush junta destroyed with their massive bombing campaign. Nice way to steal tax dollars, huh? You destroy some nation's infrastructure and then give your friends the exclusive rights to rebuild that same infrastructure and get paid for it with tax dollars. Ayn Rand's looters were petty thieves compared to those in power today.] . . . The Bechtel announcement came as the Pentagon prepared to release 17 detailed bid documents for another $5 billion in reconstruction work. Awards for those contracts are expected by early March. All told, the administration plans to spend $12.6 billion this year on rebuilding Iraq and improving its security services, and another $5.79 billion next year, according to a voluminous report sent to Congress. . . . Bechtel was picked early last year to do an initial $680 million worth of reconstruction work in Iraq through a secretive, closed competition in which seven companies were invited to bid and four chose to do so. This competition, for nearly three times as much work, was fully open to all U.S. companies but drew fewer bidders, in part because of increased jitters over the precarious security situation in Iraq. [COMMENT: What do you want to bet that Bechtel gets priority treatment when it comes to having the US military provide security.]

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posted by Lorenzo 3:24 PM

Insane Christians set out on a 'war for souls' in Iraq
(David Rennie, Telegraph, 27 December 2003)
American Christian missionaries have declared a "war for souls" in Iraq, telling supporters that the formal end of the US-led occupation next June will close an historic "window of opportunity". . . . Organising in secrecy, and emphasising their humanitarian aid work, Christian groups are pouring into the country, which is 97 per cent Muslim, bearing Arabic Bibles, videos and religious tracts designed to "save" Muslims from their "false" religion. . . . "Southern Baptists have prayed for years that Iraq would somehow be opened to the gospel," his appeal began. That "open door" for Christians may soon close. . . . "Southern Baptists must understand that there is a war for souls under way in Iraq," his bulletin added, listing Islamic leaders and "pseudo-Christian" groups also flooding Iraq as his chief rivals. . . . The missionaries are mainly evangelicals who reject talk of Muslims and Christians worshipping the same God. . . . Jerry Vines, former head of the Southern Baptist Convention, has described the Prophet Mohammed as a "demon-obsessed paedophile". Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and the head of Samaritan's Purse, a big donor to Iraq, has described Islam as a "very evil and wicked religion". . . . He rejected the suggestion that aid work was a "cover" for missionary work, preferring to call it a "conduit for sharing the gospel of Jesus. Christians are commanded to minister to the hungry, but also to the hunger of the spirit. It can't be separated," he said. . . . In public, the largest groups put the emphasis on their delivery of food parcels and their medical work. However, their internal fund-raising materials emphasise mission work. One IMB bulletin reported aid workers handing out copies of the New Testament and praying with Muslim recipients. Another bulletin said Iraqis understood "who was bringing the food . . . it was the Christians from America." . . . Southern Baptists from North Carolina visited Iraq in October to help hand out 45,000 boxes of donated food. One of the team, Jim Walker, told IMB's Urgent News bulletin that he met village children "starved of attention and I could tell some of them have not eaten well. But their biggest need is to know the love of Christ." . . . his new Iraqi friends were possibly drawn by the novelty of meeting Americans. "But you don't discount that, you use it as an opportunity to tell them about Jesus. Last time we only took 8,000 Arabic Bibles to Iraq. In future missions the goal is one million."
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posted by Lorenzo 12:42 PM

The U.S. death toll in Iraq now exceeds that of the first three years in Vietnam. But, there's another ghastly statistic that is overlooked in the media: the spectacularly mounting toll of the severely wounded . . . America's invisible army of maimed and crippled servicemen. Why invisible? Because of the political propaganda goals of the U.S. government. Bush doesn't want you or I to see the truth of war, the bleeding deformities, disfiguring burns, and amputations.

We captured Saddam, but it took over 450 dead U.S. soldiers (and counting) and nearly 2,500 U.S. wounded (and counting) and more than 10,000 dead innocent Iraqi citizens (and counting) and countless tens of thousands of hapless dead Iraqi soldiers (and counting).

When you count the over 8,000 medical evacuations from Operation Iraqi Freedom for non-hostile causes, the total number of wounded soldiers and medical evacuations from the war in Iraq is nearing 11,000 (according to new Pentagon data provided in response to a request from United Press International).

The major media continues its blackout on wounded American soldiers and on the ones who are not so "lucky" -- the ones returning to their broken-hearted families in body bags. The Bush administration doesn't want anyone to call them "body bags" anymore -- officially they're now called "transfer tubes."

Recently a new $30 million military mortuary was dedicated at Dover Air Force Base. The gleaming, brightly lit, state-of-the-art facility was built with efficiency in mind. Air flowing through its ventilation system is turned over 15 times an hour to ensure that odors and chemical fumes don't cause problems for workers.

The new mortuary has rack storage for 380 caskets and is equipped with 24 autopsy/embalming stations, compared to four permanent stations at the old facility. It has almost 200 linked computer stations, about 10 times the number of computers at the old facility.

Also, the media rarely uses the term "wounded" anymore. They call them "injured" soldiers. If you accidentally injure your hand working in the yard, you might lose a little blood, and treat the injury with running water and a band aid. But "wounded" conjures up a different image than "injured.

If you're hit in the same hand with a 7.62 X 39mm bullet traveling in excess of 700 meters per second, you will lose several fingers and possibly a whole hand. That's the difference between being injured and wounded. Contrary to what Hollywood would have us believe, being hit by bullets and shrapnel and secondary missiles from high explosives can do a lot more damage than what we see in the movies. Tearing and cavitation of tissue, the shattering of bone, and the severance of vessels and tendons. But, this is not the image the Department of Defense and the U.S. press want us to carry around inside our heads. We might lose our stomach for war, just as most of these "injured" troops do the very moment they are confronted with bleeding deformities, disfiguring burns, amputations, shock and pain, and often permanent disabilities.

In addition to the human costs, the financial costs are tremendous too. It'll cost U.S. taxpayers at least a staggering $350 billion, along with the appalling blood sacrifice of our national pride and our maybe a slight ding to our international status.
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posted by Hal 11:43 AM

Bush team doesn’t want people to see human cost of war
Even body bags are now sanitized as "transfer tubes"

Lt.-Col. Jon Anderson describes business at the Dover mortuary as “steady.” But, Americans have never seen any of the hundreds of bodies returning from Iraq. Nor do they see the wounded cramming the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington or soldiers who say they are being treated inhumanely awaiting medical treatment at Fort Stewart, Ga.

In order to continue to sell an increasingly unpopular Iraqi invasion to the American people, President George W. Bush’s administration sweeps the messy parts of war -- the grieving families, the flag-draped coffins, the soldiers who have lost limbs -- into a far corner of the nation’s attic.

No television cameras are allowed at Dover.

Bush does not attend the funerals of soldiers who gave their lives in his wars. “You can call it news control or information control or flat-out propaganda,” says Christopher Simpson, a communications professor at Washington’s American University. “Whatever you call it, this is the most extensive effort at spinning a war that the department of defense has ever undertaken in this country.”

Simpson notes that photos of the dead returning to American soil have historically been part of the ceremony, part of the picture of conflict and part of the public closure for families -- until now. “This White House is the greatest user of propaganda in American history and if they had a shred of honesty, they would admit it. But they can’t.”

This the first time in history that bodies have been brought home under cover of secrecy. It feels like Vietnam when Lyndon Johnson was accused of hiding the body bags. This is a big government and a big Pentagon and they could have someone there to meet these bodies as they come back to the country.

But today’s military doesn’t even use the words “body bags” -- a term in common usage during the Vietnam War, when 58,000 Americans died. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the Pentagon began calling them “human remains pouches” and it now refers to them as “transfer tubes.”

One term that has crept into the U.S. military lexicon, however, is the "Dover test,” shorthand for the American public’s tolerance for wartime fatalities.

The policy of banning cameras at Dover dates back to the 1991 Gulf War, under Bush’s father, Pentagon officials say.

On the other hand, when the propaganda goal was different: Pictures were allowed of incoming caskets after the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in 2000.

Last March a directive came down reaffirming the banning of cameras at Dover, likely in anticipation of the sheer volume of casualties being repatriated.

Television images of American soldiers in combat interrupted Americans’ dinners nightly during the Vietnam War. Clinton took his troops out of Somalia after a photo by the Toronto Star’s Paul Watson, showing crowds cheering as a dead American soldier was dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, was beamed around the world on news wires. Increasing casualties in Iraq have had no such dramatic effect on Bush, but that could change if more attention is paid to the wounded coming home and the way they are being treated.

Walter Reed officials did not return calls seeking comment, but the crush of casualties in late summer was such that outpatients had to be referred to hotels in nearby Silver Spring, Md., because the hospital was full. “Rarely have we seen so many young patients at one time,” a spokesperson said.

Montana soldier Adam McLain, recovering from injuries when a military Humvee drove over his leg and head in Baghdad, told the newspaper from his hospital bed: “I didn’t realize how many people were without limbs or without eyes. It’s just depressing. I feel lucky. I have all my limbs.”

For every Jessica Lynch, the wounded soldier who returned to a hero’s welcome and a book and movie deal, there is a Shoshana Johnson, who was shot through both legs and held prisoner in Iraq for 22 days. Johnson will receive 30 percent disability benefits, about $700 per month less than her colleague Lynch.

There is also an ongoing investigation into the condition of patients awaiting treatment at Fort Stewart, Ga., where hundreds of sick and wounded soldiers say they are languishing in dirty barracks waiting months for needed medical treatment.

They say they must hobble across sand to the use the bathroom, are housed 60 to a barracks and must pay for their own toilet paper. Only recently did the Senate successfully demand the White House stop charging wounded soldiers $8.10 per day for their hospital meals.
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posted by Hal 11:37 AM

Saddam, So Not Worth It: Dubya, now that you've got your dime-store thug, can you stop the warmongering and death?

It turns out Saddam actually did have some old stashes of weaponry, a bit of rusty, small-scale WMDs, after all -- because we sold them to him, 20 years ago. But they were never any sort of direct danger to America -- or anyone else, for that matter -- and regardless, most evidence points to the fact that the stash was completely destroyed more than a decade ago. (Just like reasonable people were saying all along.)

Can anyone remember that far back? Twenty years? Right about when the U.S. hushed up all those sales of biological weapons and computer technology to Iraq? Right about when all those American corporations, from Bechtel to Kodak to AT&T, from Dow Chemical to Hewlett-Packard to IBM and at least 100 more, decided it might be best to begin shredding their records detailing all their Iraq business deals? (We've all seen the photo. Hey, why is Donny Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam and smiling in that photo?)

And now, long after Hussein's political usefulness to us has expired, we up and invade his unhappy nation and lay waste to the entire region for no justifiable reason, and we inflate his global stature into this massive inhuman Hitler-esque monster when in fact he was really just an old, tired, small-time thug, and now finally Saddam Hussein, the brutal pip-squeak tin-horn dictator/former beloved U.S. ally who had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11, has been captured alive.

But whatever. Most lockstep Americans do not care that Saddam was never a threat. Most do not care about how many Iraqi children have died. Does anyone in America care? During the first days of the war, U.S. forces killed far more innocent civilians than were killed by those non-Iraqi terrorists in the WTC (4,300, to be more specific).

Most do not care that the other 10 or 20 despotic heads of state out there right now who are far worse than Saddam are not, apparently, quaking in their dictatorial boots. Most Americans do not care that somewhere, Osama is probably cheering (hey, he hated Saddam, too).

They care only for waving the bloody flag. They care only for the jingoistic PR spin and the hollow neocon punditry.

The capture of Saddam Hussein and the continuing chaos in Iraq have diverted our attention from the original justifications for the war:
- The accusation against Saddam Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction
- His threat to world security
- The fact that no such weapons have been found after Iraq's occupation (yet)

More than 240 days have passed without weapons of mass destruction being found. President George Bush is getting prepared for the possibility that we'll never find any. He tries to minimize the whole issue. When reminded that the banned weapons hadn't been found. His response is: "What's the difference?"

Of course there's a huge difference. Was Saddam a threat? (Maybe a threat to Israel, but not much of a threat to anyone else). The world might be better off because we got rid of him. But, those two reasons were never any part of the war's justifications.

Why do people forget? We should remember that Saddam Hussein committed his biggest crimes a long time ago, during his war on Iran, with the support of the U.S that remained his ally until his invasion of Kuwait. And no one believes the United States is safer since the war on Iraq.

In a roundabout way, a big threat to U.S security is Israel and Ariel Sharon. Not that it would ever happen and I don't recommend this, but if President Bush was to invade Israel and capture Ariel Sharon, this would lead a billion Muslims around the world to go to the streets to praise Dubya. Then, the U.S. would be protected from the biggest threat of all. Why do Muslims hate Israel? They have some good reasons (and some bad reasons too). They empathize with the Palestinians who have lots of reasons to be upset with Israel.

Why does everyone forget?

Last October, President Bush announced in Cincinnati: "The Iraqi regime has violated all obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has witnessed Iraq's eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith… If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today, and we do, does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?"

Last February, Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the UN Security Council, and it seems that he already knew about the lies in the administration's reports that would enable them to build excuses for war, so he did not mention the issue of Niger's uranium, or the contact between terrorist Mohammed Atta and officer of the Iraqi intelligence Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir Al-Ani, who totally rejected any encounter with Atta during later investigations.

But Powell repeated the lies concerning weapons of mass destruction, and said to the Council members: "The report I am giving today is based on evidence, solid evidence. These are not simple assurances. What we are showing you today are truths and conclusions that rely on ascertained investigative information."

What facts are these? The administration's evidence of war was not only weak or lacking, it was wrong in practically all its details, and completely wrong in essence. There was no urgent or far danger; Saddam did not possess weapons of mass destruction to provide to Al Qaeda or others.
. . . Read more!

posted by Hal 11:33 AM

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