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Americans Are Commiting War Crimes in Iraq
(Robert Fisk, The New Nation, Feb 22, 2004)
"The men we are being attacked by," he said, "are Syrian-trained terrorists and local freedom fighters." Come again? "Freedom fighters." But that's what Captain Cirino called them--and rightly so. . . . Here's the reason. All American soldiers are supposed to believe--indeed have to believe, along with their President and his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld--that Osama bin Laden's "al-Qa'ida" guerrillas, pouring over Iraq's borders from Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia (note how those close allies and neighbours of Iraq, Kuwait and Turkey are always left out of the equation), are assaulting United States forces as part of the "war on terror". Special forces soldiers are now being told by their officers that the "war on terror" has been transferred from America to Iraq, as if in some miraculous way, 11 September 2001 is now Iraq 2003. Note too how the Americans always leave the Iraqis out of the culpability bracket--unless they can be described as "Baath party remnants", "diehards" or "deadenders" by the US proconsul, Paul Bremer. . . . Captain Cirino's problem, of course, is that he knows part of the truth. Ordinary Iraqis--many of them long-term enemies of Saddam Hussein--are attacking the American occupation army 35 times a day in the Baghdad area alone. And Captain Cirino works in Fallujah's local police station, where America's newly hired Iraqi policemen are the brothers and uncles and--no doubt--fathers of some of those now waging guerrilla war against American soldiers in Fallujah. Some of them, I suspect, are indeed themselves the "terrorists". So if he calls the bad guys "terrorists", the local cops--his first line of defence--would be very angry indeed. . . . No wonder morale is low. No wonder the American soldiers I meet on the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities don't mince their words about their own government. US troops have been given orders not to bad-mouth their President or Secretary of Defence in front of Iraqis or reporters (who have about the same status in the eyes of the occupation authorities). But when I suggested to a group of US military police near Abu Ghurayb they would be voting Republican at the next election, they fell about laughing. "We shouldn't be here and we should never have been sent here," one of them told me with astonishing candour. "And maybe you can tell me: why were we sent here?" . . . Little wonder, then, that Stars and Stripes, the American military's own newspaper, reported this month that one third of the soldiers in Iraq suffered from low morale. And is it any wonder, that being the case, that US forces in Iraq are shooting down the innocent, kicking and brutalising prisoners, trashing homes and--eyewitness testimony is coming from hundreds of Iraqis--stealing money from houses they are raiding? No, this is not Vietnam--where the Americans sometimes lost 3,000 men in a month--nor is the US army in Iraq turning into a rabble. Not yet. And they remain light years away from the butchery of Saddam's henchmen. But human-rights monitors, civilian occupation officials and journalists--not to mention Iraqis themselves--are increasingly appalled at the behaviour of the American military occupiers. . . . Iraqis who fail to see US military checkpoints, who overtake convoys under attack--or who merely pass the scene of an American raid--are being gunned down with abandon. US official "inquiries" into these killings routinely result in either silence or claims that the soldiers "obeyed their rules of engagement"--rules that the Americans will not disclose to the public. . . . I first came across this absence of remorse--or rather absence of responsibility--in a slum suburb of Baghdad called Hayy al-Gailani. Two men had run a new American checkpoint--a roll of barbed wire tossed across a road before dawn one morning in July--and US troops had opened fire at the car. Indeed, they fired so many bullets that the vehicle burst into flames. And while the dead or dying men were burned inside, the Americans who had set up the checkpoint simply boarded their armoured vehicles and left the scene. They never even bothered to visit the hospital mortuary to find out the identities of the men they killed--an obvious step if they believed they had killed "terrorists"--and inform their relatives. Scenes like this are being repeated across Iraq daily. . . . Which is why Human Rights Watch and Amnesty and other humanitarian organisations are protesting ever more vigorously about the failure of the US army even to count the numbers of Iraqi dead, let alone account for their own role in killing civilians. "It is a tragedy that US soldiers have killed so many civilians in Baghdad," Human Rights Watch's Joe Stork said. "But it is really incredible that the US military does not even count these deaths." . . . But on the ground in Iraq, Americans have a licence to kill. Not a single soldier has been disciplined for shooting civilians--even when the fatality involves an Iraqi working for the occupation authorities. . . . Suicides among US troops in Iraq have risen in recent months--up to three times the usual rate among American servicemen. At least 23 soldiers are believed to have taken their lives since the Anglo-American invasion and others have been wounded in attempting suicide. . . . is it any surprise that American troops in Iraq understand neither their war nor the people whose country they are occupying? Terrorists or freedom fighters? What's the difference?
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posted by Lorenzo 5:25 PM
Chaos and War Leave Iraq's Hospitals in Ruins
(Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times, February 14, 2004)
At Baghdad's Central Teaching Hospital for Children, gallons of raw sewage wash across the floors. The drinking water is contaminated. According to doctors, 80 percent of patients leave with infections they did not have when they arrived. . . . Doctors say they have been beaten up in the emergency room. Blood is in such short supply that physicians often donate their own to patients lying in front of them. . . . "The word `big' is not enough to express the disaster we are facing," said Ahmed A. Muhammad, the hospital's assistant manager. . . . Iraqi doctors say the war has pushed them closer to disaster. Fighting and sabotage have destroyed crucial infrastructure and the fall of Saddam Hussein precipitated a breakdown in social order. . . . "It's definitely worse now than before the war," said Eman Asim, the Ministry of Health official who oversees the country's 185 public hospitals. "Even at the height of sanctions, when things were miserable, it wasn't as bad as this. At least then someone was in control." . . . The violence on the streets has seeped into the wards, with attacks on staff members and feuds being finished in the corridors. . . . And the list goes on. While Health Ministry officials say no comprehensive health survey has been conducted since the war, several doctors here said that infant mortality is up. Of 48 babies recently brought to the neonatal clinic at Yarmuk Hospital, 19 died, said Tala al-Awqati, a pediatrician. "That is twice as many as last year," she said. . . . She also said that more women were choosing to give birth at home, increasing the chances of complications, because they were frightened of venturing into the streets to deliver at a hospital. . . . The Red Cross and the United Nations used to run health programs in Iraq. But after the headquarters of both organizations were bombed last year, foreign experts pulled out. . . . Doctors also said that the postwar sabotage of the country's primary pharmaceutical factory in Samarra and the looting of the central supply depot in Baghdad had depleted the country of needed supplies. . . . Then there is the experiment with democracy. After Mr. Hussein's government fell, doctors decided to pick their own leaders. "They told us this is the democratic way," said Dr. Asim, the Health Ministry official. "Now we have dentists in charge of surgery centers." . . . Before the sanctions, Baghdad Central offered 11 gleaming floors of state-of-the-art health care. Now it is a grubby expanse of cracked tile, bald hallways and drafty rooms. . . . Dr. Asim, the Health Ministry official, recently inspected 40 hospitals around the country. "There were days I came back crying," she said.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:01 PM
Depleted uranium is a crime against God and humanity.
(Dr. Doug Rokke, U.S. Army health physicist, 2004-02-04)
The international dispatches about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq - replete with graphic details about overcrowded hospitals, U.S. cluster bomb shrapnel buried in the flesh of children, babies deformed by U.S. depleted uranium, farms and markets destroyed by U.S. bombs – do not make pleasant reading. The mounting evidence from the invasion of Iraq establishes what many Americans may not want to face: that the highest leaders of our land violated many international agreements relating to the rules of war. Unless we address the war crimes of the Bush administration - and the prima facie evidence is overwhelming - we betray our conscience, our country, and our own faith in democracy. . . . Of all the violations of the laws of war by the highest officials of our country, none is more alarming or portentous than the widespread, premeditated use of depleted uranium in Iraq. Eleven miles north of the Kuwaiti border on the "Highway of Death," disabled tanks, armored personnel carriers, gutted public vehicles – the mangled metals of Desert Storm - are resting in the desert, radiating nuclear energy. American soldiers who lived for three months in the toxic wasteland now suffer from fatigue, joint and muscle pain, respiratory ailments - a host of maladies often known as the Gulf War Syndrome. . . . Ever since the end of Desert Storm, when the Pentagon unloaded 350 tons of depleted uranium, American officials have been well aware of the health hazards of the residue that is collected from the processing of nuclear fuel. When President Bush and the Pentagon authorized the use of depleted uranium for the shock-and-awe campaign against Iraq in March 1983, the Bush administration not only committed a war crime against the people of Iraq, it demonstrated reckless disregard for the health and safety of American troops. . . . The radiation produced by depleted uranium in battle is a poison, a carcinogenic material that causes birth defects, lung disease, kidney disease, leukemia, breast cancer, lymphoma, bone cancer, and neurological disabilities. . . . Depleted uranium is much denser than lead and enables U.S. weapons to penetrate steel, a great advantage in modern war. But under the Geneva Conventions, “the means of injuring the enemy are not unlimited.” When DU munitions explode, the air is bathed in a fine radioactive dust, which carries on the wind, is easily inhaled, and eventually enters the soil, pollutes ground water, and enters the food chain. Unexploded casings gradually oxidize, releasing more uranium into the environment. Handlers of depleted uranium in the U.S. are required to wear masks and protective clothing - a requirement that Iraqi and American soldiers, not to mention civilians, are unable to fulfill. . . . The Christian Science Monitor recently sent reporters to Iraq to investigate long-term effects of depleted uranium. Staff writer Scott Peterson saw children playing on top of a burnt-out tank near a vegetable stand on the outskirts of Baghdad, a tank that had been destroyed by armor-piercing shells coated with depleted uranium. Wearing his mask and protective clothing, he pointed his Geiger counter toward the tank. It registered 1,000 times the normal background radiation. . . . The families who survived the tragic decade of sanctions, even the children who recently survived the bombing of Baghdad, may not survive the radiated aftermath of military profligacy. Uranium remains radioactive for two billion years. That's a long time for reconstruction. . . . According to Dr. Doug Rokke, U.S. Army health physicist who led the first clean-up of depleted uranium after the Gulf War, “Depleted uranium is a crime against God and humanity.” Rokke's own crew, a hundred employees, was devastated by exposure to the fine dust. “When we went to the Gulf, we were all really healthy,” he said. After performing clean-up operations in the desert (mistakenly without protective gear), thirty members of his staff died, and most others - including Rokke himself-developed serious health problems. Rokke now has reactive airway disease, neurological damage, cataracts, and kidney problems. “We warned the Department of Defense in 1991 after the Gulf War. Their arrogance is beyond comprehension.” . . . The growing outcry against the use of depleted uranium is not a matter of minor legal technicalities. The laws of war prohibit the use of weapons that have deadly and inhumane effects beyond the field of battle. Nor can weapons be legally deployed in war when they are known to remain active, or cause harm after the war concludes. The use of depleted uranium is a crime whose horrific consequences have yet to run their course. . . . “It is not right, my fellow-countrymen, you who know very well all the crimes committed in our name. It's not at all right that you do not breathe a word about them to anyone, not even to your own soul, for fear of having to stand in judgment of yourself. I am willing to believe that at the beginning you did not realize what was happening; later, you doubted whether such things could be true; but now you know, and still you hold your tongues.”
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posted by Lorenzo 4:37 PM
Apartheid Enforcers Guard Iraq For the U.S.
(Marc Perelman, Information Clearing House, 02/21/04)
In its effort to relieve overstretched U.S. troops in Iraq, the Bush administration has hired a private security company staffed with former henchmen of South Africa’s apartheid regime. . . . The reliance on apartheid enforcers was highlighted by an attack in Iraq last month that killed one South African security officer and wounded another who worked for the subsidiary of a firm called Erinys International. Both men once served in South African paramilitary units dedicated to the violent repression of apartheid opponents. . . . “It is just a horrible thought that such people are working for the Americans in Iraq,” said Richard Goldstone, a recently retired justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and former chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. . . . In Iraq, the U.S. government has tapped into the ever-growing pool of private security companies to provide a variety of defense services, including protecting oil sites and training Iraqi forces. Observers worry that a reliance on these companies and the resulting lack of accountability is a recipe for further problems in a volatile region. . . . Erinys Iraq, the subsidiary of the largely unknown security company called Erinys International, was awarded a two-year contract worth $80 million last August to protect 140 Iraqi oil installations and train some 6,500 Iraqi guards. It then subcontracted some of its security duties to a U.S. private security firm called SAS International. . . . Iyad Allawi told the Financial Times last December that Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Pentagon-backed Iraqi National Congress, had engineered the Erinys contract in order to set up a private militia that would end up undermining central authority over the vital oil sector. . . . Private security companies, including Erinys International, have served as a magnet for poorly paid and highly skilled South African security officers, according to a recent United Nations report and articles in the South African press.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:18 PM
THEIR BLOOD IS ON BUSH'S HANDS!
The above link will take you to a very powerful Flash presentation about the senseless loss of lives caused by the greed and avarice of the Cheney-Bush junta. They must certainly be among the most vile humans ever to walk the Earth. Why else would 15,000,000 people turn out in a single day to protest their bloody attack on the people of Iraq.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:38 AM
Fallen soldier's mother says her son 'died for absolutely nothing'
(John Tredrea, Zwire, February 12, 2004)
"My son died for absolutely nothing," Lt. Dvorin's mother, Sue Niederer, declared with quiet, forceful bluntness in her Hopewell Township home on Lake Baldwin Drive Friday. Ms. Niederer blames President George W. Bush personally for her son's death. . . . "Seth died for President Bush's personal vendetta," she said. "Bush put us where we should never have been. We're not even in a declared war." . . . Ms. Niederer says the growing national controversy over the failure to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq proves that "we have a very big problem in this country. If the intelligence on which this war was based is as inefficient as it now appears to have been, there is something is seriously wrong here." . . . Ms. Niederer and other members of Lt. Dvorin's family also are upset that he may have been trying to diffuse an unexploded bomb when he was killed. He had no training in defusing bombs, they said. . . . "What can I tell you? He was a great guy. Friendly. Warm. Kind-hearted. Very intelligent — that boy was smart as a whip. He was fun loving. He loved life and he enjoyed it. He liked to be with people and do things for them. He loved skiing and snowboarding, they were really big with him. And he loved his Mustang. I'll tell you the kind of son he was to me: He was the kind to tell you he loved you, then cry after he said it." . . . Lt. Dvorin was married less than six months. He and his wife, Kelly Harris Dvorin, were married at Fort Drum, his stateside base near Watertown, N.Y. Ms. Dvorin lives in Watertown. . . . "Their wedding was Aug. 26, five days before he shipped out to Iraq," Ms. Niederer said. "Kelly is a widow at age 25." . . . Ms. Niederer is outraged that her son was put in the position of dealing with the bomb in the first place. . . . "His training was in air defense artillery," she said. "He had no training in defusing bombs. Why wasn't an expert handling this? What's particularly amazing to me is that this was a mission to defuse bombs and there apparently was no expert in that area in the lead vehicle. Since there wasn't, why weren't they rerouted around that bomb? I want answers. I'm not going to just be quiet. If I speak up, maybe someone else's son won't die for nothing the way my son did. If I don't speak up, then he will really died completely in vain." . . . Lt. Dvorin's stepgrandmother, Florence Sapir. "War used to be an honorable thing. This one is as far from that as you can get. Seth died in vain. So did the more than 500 other soldiers who died over there. They died for nothing." . . . She said her son dreamed of a career in the FBI or CIA and was persuaded by an Army recruiter that he would have a better chance of reaching that goal if he were a military veteran. . . . "He also was promised that he would never go to combat," she said. "If he was in a war area, they told him, he would not be up front. My reaction to his going to Iraq was negative, to say the least. Seth's superior officer at Watertown also was against it. He told his superiors that Seth was still too wet behind the ears for that. He begged them not to send Seth. But they told him he was needed over there, and he went." . . . Ms. Niederer said that, since learning of her son's death, she asked U.S. Congressman Rush Holt, D-N.J., how many wives, husbands and children of U.S. congressmen and senators actually are in a war zone in Iraq. . . . "You know what he told me? None. Somebody tell me how fair that is," she said.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:56 PM
Israeli intelligence sources and political leaders implicated in false WMD estimates
(Richard H. Curtiss, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Jan/Feb 2004)
The report, titled "The War in Iraq: An Intelligence Failure?" was written by Shlomo Brom, a brigadier general in the Israeli army reserves, and said what no one seems to have dared publish since President George W. Bush decided to wage war on Iraq. Shockingly, it told the full truth about the American and British intelligence "sources" making the case for war. . . . In fact, according to Brom, these sources were utterly compromised by Israeli intelligence, which made the case for starting the war and kept it going as long as necessary. The retired general described Israel as a "full partner" in U.S. and British intelligence failures that exaggerated Iraqi President Saddam Hussain's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs in the lead up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. . . . Israeli intelligence sources and political leaders provided "an exaggerated assessment of Iraqi capabilities," raising "the possibility that the intelligence had been manipulated," wrote Brom, former deputy chief of planning for the Israeli army. . . . Brigadier General Brom's criticism of the Israeli intelligence community-which many Americans believe to be one of, if not the world's best-was unusual. Like many retired intelligence officers, Brom, who retired after a 25-year career, most likely continued to be privy to a great deal of sensitive government information. . . . According to Brom, however, Israeli intelligence "badly overestimated the Iraqi threat to Israel and reinforced the American and British belief that the weapons existed." . . . Attributing the poor intelligence to a lack of professionalism and poor supervision, Brom wrote, "Even if Iraq had any Scud missiles left, I can't understand how Israeli intelligence officers came to believe they threatened Israel, particularly when they hadn't been used in more than 10 years. It's a clear example of how an inability to think clearly is undermining the Israeli intelligence community." . . . As Brom observed in his report, "Israeli intelligence agencies have tended to overstate the threat the country faces ever since 1973." . . . Israeli officials frequently told foreign journalists before the war that Israel and the United States were sharing information, particularly regarding Iraqi missiles and nonconventional weapons that could possibly be used against Israel. The report accused intelligence agencies of being blinded by a one-dimensional perception of Saddam Hussain." . . . Moore continued, "At the heart of this perception lay the colorful portrait of an embodiment of evil, a man possessed by a compulsion to develop weapons of mass destruction in order to strike Israel and others, regardless of additional considerations." . . . According to Moore, "The analysis said a 'certain degree of intelligence wariness is justified,' but added, 'the problem lies in getting carried away to extremes, as was clearly the case with Israeli intelligence on Iraq'… . . . "When 'Israeli intelligence became aware that certain items had been transferred by the head of the regime from Iraq to Syria," Moore quoted the report as saying, "'Israeli intelligence immediately portrayed it-including in leaks to the media-as if Iraq was moving banned weapons out of Iraq in order to conceal them.'" . . . Brom criticized Israeli intelligence for failing to include the more probable scenario that Saddam Hussain and his aides were moving cash or family members out of the country in the face of an impending attack. . . . "Sarid told Israel Radio," Enav reported, that "the article proved that Israeli intelligence assessments on Iraq caused Israel considerable damage by compelling it to prepare for 'threats that did not exist.'" . . . One thing is certain. Israel's competing intelligence services soon will begin-if they haven't already-to write scenarios explaining why it will be necessary to bomb Iranian weapons technology, and a whole new virtual weapons industry will materialize. . . . The reason, of course, is to focus international attention on yet another "rogue state," so as not to have to deal with the real problem, making peace with Palestinians. How much longer can this flight from reality be allowed to last?
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posted by Lorenzo 11:32 AM
How the story changed
... on WMD
"The Iraqi regime possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas" 7 OCTOBER 2002
"He had the capacity to have a weapon, make a weapon. We thought he had weapons" YESTERDAY
"America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud" 8 OCTOBER, 2002
"He could have developed a nuclear weapon over time - I'm not saying immediately but over time" YESTERDAY
... on Osama bin Laden
"I don't know whether we're going to get him tomorrow or a month from now or a year from now. I don't really know. But we're going to get him" 14 DECEMBER, 2001
"I have no idea whether we will capture or bring him to justice" YESTERDAY
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posted by Lorenzo 3:10 PM
Something to think about
In the wake of the Hutton fiasco, one truth remains unassailed: Tony Blair ordered an unprovoked invasion of another country on a totally false pretext, and that lies and deceptions manufactured in London and Washington caused the deaths of up to 55,000 Iraqis, including 9,600 civilians.
-- John Pilger
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posted by Lorenzo 3:58 PM
US army admits killing Iraqi child
by aljazeera.net, 04 February 2004
The US army has apologised for killing an Iraqi child even as the death toll from double bombings in Arbil, the deadliest post-war attacks in Iraq, climbed to more than 100. Colonel William Mayville acknowledged that his forces were responsible for mortar fire that killed an Iraqi boy during a major Muslim holiday, the Eid al-Fitr, as his family picnicked in the northern oil region of Kirkuk. Mayville told a meeting with local government officials, attended by an AFP correspondent, that he had ordered an investigation into the shelling that also wounded the boy's mother and two siblings. He said his troops had opened fire because they suspected insurgents were in the area, but that those responsible for the deadly error would be held accountable. Mayville added that he ordered the payment of $2500 in compensation for the family of the nine-year-old boy, Basssam Sami Awwad, and $1500 for each of the three injured. But it was not enough for the grief-stricken family, who told AFP they will sue for compensation in the Kirkuk courts. "We will never let this matter rest, especially as my child was a boy who had nothing to do with the violence in Iraq. He was just playing with his brothers when it happened," the boy's father, Sami Awwad, 31, said.
*****Hmmm. This should be interesting as they have not come to an agreement as yet on the Status of Forces Agreement, which usually protects US military from authorities in foreign countries. Of course, this is assuming this really is investigated and charges brought, if warranted. But more to the point of the issue, I think, is the lack of coverage by the US media - not one of the major media outlets has mentioned one word of this. Sad. -- but that's just this old Curmudgeon's opinion. ****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 3:00 PM
Tenet Exposes Bush's Misleading on WMD
(Daily Mis-lead, February 5, 2004)
[COMMENT: Sources for the following information are available from the link above.]
In a stunning blow to the president's credibility, CIA Director George Tenet said this morning that intelligence "analysts never said there was an imminent threat" from Iraq before the war. His comments are consistent with various warnings sent to the White House from the intelligence community that specifically told the president his claims that Iraq definitely had chemical/biological and nuclear weapons were unsubstantiated. Tenet's comments call into question whether the Bush Administration was knowingly ignoring intelligence and misleading the country by claiming definitively that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was therefore an "imminent," "immediate," "urgent" and "mortal" threat to the American people. . . . Though the White House has claimed it never said Iraq was an imminent threat, the record proves otherwise. When White House communications director Dan Bartlett was asked before the war whether Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat, he responded, "Of course he is." When White House spokesman Scott McClellan was asked why NATO (and thus the United States) should support Turkey's request for defensive troops, he responded, "This is about an imminent threat." When White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked whether the invasion of Iraq was because Iraq was an imminent threat, he responded, "Absolutely." . . . The president also used other language aimed at misleading Americans into thinking that U.S. intelligence definitively knew Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that threatened America - even though the intelligence community told the president it had no such evidence. The president said before the war that Iraq was an "urgent threat" and a "grave threat" to "any American." In his speech informing Americans that the invasion had started, the President said Iraq "threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder." . . . These comments were echoed by other top Administration officials. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said on September 19, 2002 that "no terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq." And Vice President Cheney called Iraq a "mortal threat," and said "there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction...to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us." And Secretary of State Colin Powell, in pressing for U.N. support, said definitively that Iraq possessed "deadly weapons programs" that "are real and present dangers to the region and to the world."
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posted by Lorenzo 12:04 PM
Faulty Intelligence My Eye
(David Morris, AlterNet, February 3, 2004)
David Kay was the perfect choice to head up Bush's search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD). He was in Iraq in 1991 with the UN inspection team. He was one of the most visible and vocal believers in the existence of WMDs in Iraq. And he was one of those who thought only an invasion and occupation would allow us to find and destroy them. . . . In short, no one wanted to find WMD more than David Kay. . . . Not surprisingly, Kay first declared that "we were almost all wrong." Then he blamed the CIA, not the White House or the Pentagon or the State Department. Indeed, he insisted, "I think if anyone was abused by the intelligence it was the president of the United States." . . . Within days President Bush had called for an Independent Commission. Its charge would be limited to discovering how the intelligence community could have been so inept. The Commission will report back after the election. The newspapers are now full of stories about intelligence blunders. . . . Have we suffered from collective amnesia? . . . Have we forgotten that there were highly credible people who were telling the White House that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction? Scott Ritter, former intelligence officer and senior official in the UN's inspection team in Iraq for seven years was one such highly visible – and highly credible – critic. Back in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm, Ritter told his superiors something they not only didn't want to hear but didn't believe: that the allies had failed to destroy any Iraqi Scud missile launchers. He was later vindicated. . . . Ritter indicated that as of 1998, when the UN team was withdrawn from Iraq, 90-95 percent of its capacity to produce chemical and biological weapons had been eliminated. And there was no evidence that Iraq had nuclear weapons. . . . Ritter wasn't the only credible skeptic. Have we forgotten the repeated rebuttals of assertions by the White House of mobile and underground biological labs by Hans Blix, head of the UN inspection team in 2003? Have we forgotten the terse refutation by Mohamed El Baredi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency of the Pentagon assertion that Iraq had nuclear weapons? . . . Have we forgotten the flurry of stories in national newspapers in late 2002 and early 2003 that described how the White House and Pentagon were pressuring the CIA to come up with "intelligence" that would support their position? In March 2003 the Washington Post quoted a senior administration official with access to the latest intelligence who said, "I have seen all the stuff. I certainly have doubts." The U.S., he said, will "face significant problems in trying to find" such weapons. . . . Have we forgotten how Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld set up an intelligence unit in the Pentagon to help him undermine the CIA's cautionary intelligence reports on Iraq? . . . "Even as it prepares for war against Iraq, the Pentagon is already engaged on a second front: its war against the Central Intelligence Agency," wrote Robert Dreyfuss in the American Prospect in December 2002. Dreyfuss quotes Vincent Cannistraro, a former senior CIA official and counter-terrorism expert who describes the "tremendous pressure on (the CIA) to come up with information to support policies that have already been adopted."
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posted by Lorenzo 8:35 PM
Former UK Intelligence Chief Says Blair Dossier Was Misleading about Iraqi WMD
(Brian Jones, Independent, 04 February 2004)
It is clear from the evidence to the Hutton inquiry that the experts of the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) who dealt with chemical and biological warfare, including those working directly with me, had problems with some aspects of what was being said in various drafts of the dossier that was published on 24 September 2002. . . . The problem was that the best available current evidence that Saddam actually had chemical and biological weapons (CW and BW) was the inference that this must be so from the claim of an apparently unproven original source that such weapons could be "deployed" within 45 minutes. Although the information was relayed through a reliable second source, there was no indication the original or primary source had established a track record of reliability. Furthermore, the information reported by the source was vague in all aspects except, possibly, for the range of times quoted. . . . I believe the DIS experts who worked for and with me were the foremost group of analysts in the West on nuclear, biological and chemical warfare intelligence. It is their job to consider all other related evidence. What was missing was, for example, strong evidence of the continuing existence of weapons and agents and substantive evidence on production or storage. . . . There was no indication that the Iraqi military had practiced the use of CW or BW weapons for more than a decade. But it was known that Iraq had previously possessed CW and BW capabilities and used chemical weapons. Further, Saddam had failed to satisfy the UN that the capability had been eliminated. . . . My recollection is that the disagreement of the experts in the DIS was not so much resolved as finessed. My belief is that right up to the publication of the dossier there was a unified view amongst not only my own staff but all the DIS experts that on the basis of the intelligence available to them the assessment that Iraq possessed a CW or BW capability should be carefully caveated. . . . By the time I returned from leave on 18 September to a very disgruntled team the deadline for production of the dossier was fast approaching. I examined the relevant reports and discussed them with my experts and decided they were right to be concerned. . . . My experience of the intelligence process made me suspicious of what was happening. I was not reassured when my boss said he had been assured by a representative of the SIS that the new sensitive material was reliable and negated our concerns. My boss was brand new to the intelligence business, unfamiliar with the assessment process and not in the compartment. . . . I considered who might have seen this ultra-sensitive intelligence and reached the conclusion that it was extremely doubtful that anyone with a high degree of CW and BW intelligence expertise was among the exclusive group. . . . It was becoming clear that it was very unlikely we could achieve the balance we desired in the dossier and it was important to register our misgivings formally. . . . I foresaw that after the likely invasion and defeat of Iraq, it was quite possible that no WMD would be found. If this happened scapegoats would be sought, so I decided that we should record our concerns about the dossier in order to protect our reputation. . . . Whether or not there was a failure of intelligence assessment should be judged, not on the dossier, but on relevant JIC papers. Similarly, whether or not there was a failure in intelligence collection should be judged on the reports the collectors issued. Arguably, the dossier revealed more about the top end of the process and the fashioning of a product that has hitherto been alien to the UK intelligence community. . . . In my view the expert intelligence analysts of the DIS were overruled in the preparation of the dossier in September 2002 resulting in a presentation that was misleading about Iraq's capabilities. . . . Events have shown that we in the DIS were right to urge caution. I suggest that now might be a good time to open the box and release from its compartment the intelligence that played such a significant part in formulating a key part of the dossier.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:05 PM
Send the Children of Politicians to the Front Lines?
Stanley Kober, Cato Institute
"I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well placed ... managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units," Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote in his memoirs. [speaking about Viet Nam] "Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country." "Would Bush be doing this if he were sending his daughters?" asked 22-year old Sally Brown, whose husband is in the Marines, shortly before the invasion of Iraq. ...an all-volunteer military is the wisest policy. If the political leadership does not demonstrate the courage of its convictions by risking its own flesh and blood, it cannot expect the professionals in the military to do so for long.
During the Vietnam War, people asked: What if they gave a war and nobody came? If the members of the armed forces feel betrayed by their leaders, we may find out.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:15 PM
A Canadian Underground Railroad for "Deserters"
(Geoff Olson, Vancouver Courier, January 26, 2004)
According to an Associated Press wire story from last November, at least 17 U.S. troops have committed suicide in Iraq, and the actual number is almost certainly higher, prompting demands for answers from family members. . . . Rising-Moore suspects the suicides are the result of the pressures of combat, and lack of control of the situation in the embattled country, where U.S. soldiers have been targeted virtually daily in bomb attacks-deaths have already topped 500. . . . "For every death you've got 10 times as many injuries," says Rising-Moore. "I've heard 11,000 have been evacuated from illnesses or injuries due to combat." . . . The French weekly magazine Le Canard Enchaine reports that 1,700 U.S. soldiers have deserted their posts in Iraq, many of them failing to return to military duty after getting permission to go back to the United States. They simply disappear off the radar, and some of them may well be in Canada. . . . Rising-Moore believes the numbers of suicides will rise as U.S. soldiers returning to the States choose to take their own lives rather than face another tour of duty in Iraq. The so-called "stop-loss" orders to U.S. army duty, extending a soldier's tour beyond his or her contractual agreement, are expected to be expanded to greater numbers of troops. . . . The American activist's appearance in Vancouver is part of a cross-country effort to petition Canada for safe refuge for U.S. military deserters across the border. The "Freedom Underground" he's pitching would be an underground railroad, similar to the extensive formal and informal network that helped draft dodgers and deserters in B.C. in the '60s. . . . he regards the cross-border escape hatch as the last option for suicidal soldiers. "I'm telling them to go to their clergy, go to their commanding officers, and to claim conscientious objection while in the military, and to fight it out like that. But if they're considering pulling the trigger on themselves, I'm telling them to desert, just as George Bush Jr. did during the Vietnam War." (A gap in Bush's military service record from May 1972 to October 1973 has some critics accusing him of desertion.) . . . Fleeing to Canada should only be an option for soldiers, Rising-Moore says, "if all else fails, and they don't see any other way out."
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posted by Lorenzo 3:45 PM