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US Commits War Crimes in Falluja
(Orit Shohat, Haaretz, April 28, 2004)
During the first two weeks of this month, the American army committed war crimes in Falluja on a scale unprecedented for this war. According to the relatively few media reports of what took place there, some 600 Iraqis were killed during these two weeks, among them some 450 elderly people, women and children. . . . The sight of decapitated children, the rows of dead women and the shocking pictures of the soccer stadium that was turned into a temporary grave for hundreds of the slain - all were broadcast to the world only by the Al Jazeera network. During the operation in Falluja, according to the organization Doctors Without Borders, U.S. Marines even occupied the hospitals and prevented hundreds of the wounded from receiving medical treatment. Snipers fired from the rooftops at anyone who tried to approach. . . . This was a retaliatory operation, carried out by the Marines, accompanied by F-16 fighter planes and assault helicopters, under the code name "Vigilant Resolve." It was revenge for the killing of four American security guards on March 31. But while the killing of the guards, whose bodies were dragged through the streets of the city and then hung from a bridge, received wide media coverage, and thus prepared hearts and minds for the military revenge, the hundreds of victims of the American retaliation were practically a military secret. . . . Since the start of the war, the Americans have persecuted the network's journalists - not because they report lies, but because they are virtually the only ones who manage to report the truth. The Bush administration, in cooperation with the American media, is trying to hide the sights of war from the world, and particularly from American voters. . . . The ethical dilemmas in Israel over the targeted killings must make the American government laugh. After Falluja, Israel Defense Forces commanders can feel easier with their consciences - and especially with the consciences of those who refuse to carry out such operations. The one-ton bomb that was dropped on an apartment building in Gaza in order to assassinate Salah Shehadeh, which also killed 14 civilians, is almost like throwing candy compared to the number of bombs the Americans dropped on the houses of the residents of crowded Falluja.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 9:49 AM

Iraq: The Moon Is Down, Again!
(William Marina, The Independent Institute, 4/23/2004)
Art, films and literature often offer insights that help to explain human situations perhaps better than does history. My favorite book on the integral interaction between occupiers and those being occupied, is John Steinbeck’s The Moon Is Down (1942), shortly thereafter made into a film starring Cedric Hardwicke, Lee J. Cobb and Henry Travers. I first saw the film in the 1950s, but it is not shown these days. It is a story about the German invasion of a small town in Norway in 1940 and the developing reactions of the inhabitants as the Nazis seek to insure that the mines nearby continue to send coal to the Third Reich’s war machine. Readers this year may be tempted to replace the term "Norway" with "Iraq," "coal" with "oil," and "Germany" with the phrase "Coalition." The story even has a "fifth column" Ahmed Chalabi-like character, who sets up the town for an easy occupation, imagining he will be dearly beloved by the people. The central confrontation of the book, however, is between Mayor Orden and the German officer in command, Col. Lanser, a Wehrmacht veteran of occupied Belgium over two decades earlier. Lanser urges cooperation rather than violence, which will lead, he warns, inevitably to more violence on the part of the Germans. The Germans, like imperial conquerors back to the Romans and beyond, sought to legitimatize their occupation in the eyes of the people. They understood that quislings wouldn’t work in the long run. John Lukacs devoted a large part of his book, The Last European War: September, 1939-December, 1941, (1976) to demonstrating how they failed in a attempt to establish legitimacy over the nations of occupied Europe. "Legitimacy," to paraphrase, Franklin D. Roosevelt, "Ah, there’s the rub!" It is clear the occupiers, despised by the people, are in for a long and bloody time ahead. In a New York Times op-ed piece (4/11/04), "Nasty, Brutish and Short," Thomas Friedman mentions the word "legitimacy" four times and flip-flops on whether it can be bought with cash or compelled with force before finally concluding that the U.S. cannot do so. He adds that with all of the retaliatory killing, "we have a staggering legitimacy deficit." I wonder if legitimacy is something you can have in gradations as he suggests. Either one is an occupier, or one is not! As reported in The London Telegraph, (4/11/2004) among our major partners in the so-called "coalition," the British senior officers, speaking anonymously, have already expressed a growing sense of "unease and frustration," about American tactics in the occupation. Part of the problem, a British officer said, is that Americans tend to see the Iraqis as "untermenschen," the term for "sub-humans." British rules of warfare allow troops to open fire only when attacked and to use the minimum force necessary and at identified targets-not a massive use of firepower in urban areas, as do the Israelis on the Palestinians and now American troops on the Iraqis. In short, The Moon is Down again.

*****The use of the term "untermenschen" is extremely important and relevant in the Iraqi context. It is fostered by the current Administration in the approach they take to the occupation. It is also the approach they are beginning to take regarding the American citizen. Can't you just feel the love?******* But, that's just this old Curmudgeon's opinion...
. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 1:59 PM

Bush Withholds Funding for Troop Safety
The President continues to withhold funding that military officials say is desperately needed to plug shortfalls in armor and protection equipment. And, according to a new study, those shortfalls have meant 25% more American casualties in Iraq. . . . According to Newsweek, an unofficial study circulating through the army shows that of the 190 soldiers killed by landmines, improvised explosive devices, or rocket-propelled grenade attacks, "almost all those were killed while in unprotected vehicles, which means that perhaps one in four of those killed in combat in Iraq might be alive if they had had stronger armor around them." Additionally, "thousands more who were unprotected have suffered grievous wounds, such as the loss of limbs." . . . The situation has gotten so dire that military commanders last week desperately begged Congress to fill key shortfalls left by the President's budget. They described a $132 million shortfall for bolt-on vehicle armor, an $879 million in shortfall for combat helmets, and a $40 million shortfall for body armor. Meanwhile, according to the Chicago Tribune, the White House has "dramatically reduced the number of Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles in Iraq" -- even as the fighting intensified, leaving troops to "ride in lightly protected Humvees, trucks and troop carriers" that are much more vulnerable to attack.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:26 PM

Map showing deadliest parts of Iraq for Americans
Since it looks like this is going to be a long war, we Americans had better start getting more familar with the geography and place names in Iraq. If you lived during the American war in Viet Nam, then names like Hue, and Khe Son have special meaning for you. Today the killing continues, only the place names have changed. Now names like Fallujah and Ramadi are where our young women and men are dying.

To get a better understanding of the areas in which the US is taking its heaviest casualties, we have provided a map that tracks the general location of US deaths since April 1, 2004.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:49 PM

Number of U.S. Troops Wounded in Iraq Jumps
(Robert Burns, The Guardian, April 23, 2004)
The number of American troops wounded in Iraq soared in the past two weeks as the insurgency flared in south-central Iraq and in the Sunni Triangle north and west of Baghdad. . . . The Pentagon announced Friday in its weekly casualty report that 3,864 troops have been wounded in action since the war began in March 2003, an increase of 595 from two weeks earlier. . . .
The U.S. military death toll as of Friday stood at 707, according to the Pentagon's count. At least 100 have been killed this month, the highest total for any month since the U.S.-led invasion began. Most deaths were in the early part of April; about 25 have died in the past two weeks. . . . As the toll on U.S. forces has mounted this month, most public attention has focused on the deaths. Less has been reported on the wounded, in part because the Pentagon has stopped providing daily updates and does not give details on the types or severity of wounds. . . . The number wounded since April 1 is approaching 900, far beyond the 200-300 wounded in most other months of the conflict. In March 291 were wounded in action. The highest monthly total before April was 413 in October 2003, according to the Pentagon's Directorate for Information Operations and Reports. . . . The Pentagon's figures do not include troops who are injured in accidents or felled by illness. . . . Many of the U.S. combat wounds have been inflicted by homemade bombs, which the military calls improvised explosive devices and which often are hidden along roadways used by U.S. military convoys. . . . Since the insurgency intensified, starting March 31, many of the wounds have come in gunfights, particularly in and around the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in the volatile Sunni Triangle. Insurgents fire rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and small arms. . . . By far most of the battle wounds have happened since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations on May 1. Since that date there have been more than 2,700 wounded in action, of which 109 were females and more than half were lower-ranking enlisted soldiers.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 10:14 AM

White House Says Iraqi 'Freedom' to be Severely Limited
(Steven R. Weisman, New York Times, April 23, 2004)
The Bush administration's plans for a new caretaker government in Iraq would place severe limits on its sovereignty, including only partial command over its armed forces and no authority to enact new laws, administration officials said Thursday. . . . Only 10 weeks from the scheduled transfer of sovereignty, the administration is still not sure exactly who will govern in Baghdad, or precisely how they will be selected. . . . The administration's plans seem likely to face objections on several fronts. Several European and United Nations diplomats have said in interviews that they do not think the United Nations will approve a Security Council resolution sought by Washington that handcuffs the new Iraq government in its authority over its own armed forces, let alone foreign forces on its soil. . . . These diplomats, and some American officials, said that if the American military command ordered a siege of an Iraqi city, for example, and there was no language calling for an Iraqi government to participate in the decision, the government might not be able to survive protests that could follow. . . . Asked whether the new Iraqi government would have a chance to approve military operations led by American commanders, who would be in charge of both foreign and Iraqi forces, a senior official said Americans would have the final say. . . . "The arrangement would be, I think as we are doing today, that we would do our very best to consult with that interim government and take their views into account," said Marc Grossman, under secretary of state for political affairs. But he added that American commanders will "have the right, and the power, and the obligation" to decide. . . . That formulation is especially sensitive at a time when American and Iraqi forces are poised to fight for control of Falluja. . . . The proposed curbs on Iraqi sovereignty are paving the way for what officials and diplomats say is shaping up as another potential battle with American allies as the United Nations is asked to confer legitimacy on the new government. . . . The skeptical tone of the foreign relations hearing was set by the committee's chairman, Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, who said that without clearer answers, "we risk the loss of support of the American people, the loss of potential contributions from our allies and the disillusionment of Iraqis."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 9:59 AM

Woman loses her job over coffins photo
(Hal Bernton, Seattle Times, April 22, 2004)
A military contractor has fired Tami Silicio, a Kuwait-based cargo worker whose photograph of flag-draped coffins of fallen U.S. soldiers was published in Sunday's edition of The Seattle Times. . . . "I feel like I was hit in the chest with a steel bar and got my wind knocked out. I have to admit I liked my job, and I liked what I did," Silicio said. . . . Her photograph, taken earlier this month, shows more than 20 flag-draped coffins in a cargo plane about to depart from Kuwait. Since 1991, the Pentagon has banned the media from taking pictures of caskets being returned to the United States. . . . Silicio said she never sought to put herself in the public spotlight. Instead, she said, she hoped the publication of the photo would help families of fallen soldiers understand the care and devotion that civilians and military crews dedicate to the task of returning the soldiers home. . . . In Kuwait, Silicio pulled 12-hour night shifts alongside military workers to help in the huge effort to resupply U.S. troops. These workers also helped transport the remains of soldiers back to the United States. . . . Her job put her in contact with soldiers who sometimes accompanied the coffins to the airport. Having lost one of her own sons to a brain tumor, Silicio said, she tried to offer support to those grieving over a lost comrade.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:08 PM

361 Photos of Flag-Draped Coffins at Dover AFB
The link above will take you to a gallery of 361 photographs that The Memory Hole obtained from the Air Force through a Freedom of Information Act request. These are the pictures that the Cheney-Bush war machine doesn't want you to see.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 1:53 PM

Major roads closed, turned into free fire zones
(Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, 19 April 2004)
Five US Marines were killed and nine wounded in Iraq when hundreds of guerrillas attacked American forces near the Syrian border, a sign that the rebellion is spreading to regions which have hitherto been peaceful. . . . in an attempt to end guerrilla attacks on its supply lines, the US has banned civilian traffic on some of Iraq's most-used highways and declared them free-fire zones: all vehicles not belonging to the US military will be fired upon, according to American military command. . . . The decision over the weekend is likely to cause massive dislocation by preventing Iraqis from using the highways north and south of Baghdad ­ the main economic lifelines of the country ­ where insurgents have launched frequent attacks. The main roads to Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait will be cut. . . . Saturday's attack is important because it shows insurgents operating in larger numbers than before and seeking to relieve the pressure on Fallujah, where a shaky truce continues. Marine intelligence said 300 Iraqi mujahedin from Fallujah and Ramadi had first attacked an outpost by setting off a roadside bomb, then fired mortar rounds at the marines when they left their base. . . . The US military command in Baghdad was shocked during the past two weeks to find that its truck convoys were coming under repeated attacks which have led to a shortage of supplies. It has admitted that this is one of the reasons that it needs an extra 20,000 soldiers. . . . Civilians working for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad's heavily fortified "Green Zone" have been told that they may have to go on army rations due to lack of food. . . . Announcing the road closures yesterday, the US military said: "Civilians that attempt to drive on these roads may be considered anti-coalition forces and risk being subject to attack. If civilians drive on the closed sections of the highways they may be engaged with deadly force."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:33 PM

Anti-war sentiment growing even among military families
(Jules Crittenden, Boston Herald, April 18, 2004)
As polls show support for President Bush's Iraq policy dropping, military families are becoming more vocal in questioning the war. A Newsweek poll last week found 51 percent of Americans now disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq. A Time/CNN poll had the same result, but also found that 53 percent still think Bush was right to take America to war in Iraq, while 41 percent say he was wrong. Miriam Palacios of Roxbury, cousin of slain G.I. Gabriel Palacios, spoke out at an anti-war protest Friday. She said yesterday she changed her mind about the war in December, after her cousin's home leave. He was killed in January. "He didn't want to talk about the war,'' she said. "Once he left, we felt different. It looked like we weren't trying to help the Iraqis. We were trying to control them.'' Meanwhile, the families of New Hampshire reservists said they plan to go to Washington, D.C., to protest another extension, 17 months into their deployment. Catherine Maynard said she supports the war but thinks her son has done his share. "They are war-weary. They are tired. I don't know how they can send them back. I'm sure if the president knew of the extensions, he'd send them home. I don't think he's getting all the information."

*******News Flash, Darlin' - Little Bush knows about the extensions. He approved them and as long as one of his offspring is not one of them, he don't care. They are low-paid cannon-fodder, protecting American corporate interests. When you stop believing that Bush has any interest in your sons and daughters welfare, we can put this country back to where we can honestly be proud to call ourselves Americans. And btw, Kerry is not going to be any better - perhaps a little more honest but not better as the majority of politicians today come from the same mold.*******
. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 11:53 AM

New Reports Of US Planting WMD In Iraq
(Mehr News Agence, 4-14-04)
Fifty days after the first reports that the U.S. forces were unloading weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in southern Iraq, new reports about the movement of these weapons have been disclosed. . . . Given the recent scandals to the effect that the U.S. president was privy to the 9/11 plot, they might try to immediately announce the discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order to overshadow the scandals and prevent a further decline of Bush's public opinion rating as the election approaches. [COMMENT: Instead of "finding" Osama, perhaps little Bush's October Surprise is going to be the discovery of the WMD our own troops are planting in Iraq.] . . . Sources in Iraq speculate that occupation forces are using the recent unrest in Iraq to divert attention from their surreptitious shipments of WMD into the country. . . . An Iraqi source close to the Basra Governor's Office told the MNA that new information shows that a large part of the WMD, which was secretly brought to southern and western Iraq over the past month, are in containers falsely labeled as containers of the Maeresk shipping company and some consignments bearing the labels of organizations such as the Red Cross or the USAID in order to disguise them as relief shipments. . . . The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that Iraqi officials including forces loyal to the Iraqi Governing Council stationed in southern Iraq have been forbidden from inspecting or supervising the transportation of these consignments. He went on to say that the occupation forces have ordered Iraqi officials to forward any questions on the issue to the coalition forces. . . . The Iraqi source also confirmed the report about suspicious trucks with fake Saudi and Jordanian license plates entering Iraq at night last week, stressing that the Saudi and Jordanian border guards did not attempt to inspect the trucks but simply delivered them to the U.S. and British forces stationed on Iraq's borders. . . . A professor of physics at Baghdad University also told the MNA correspondent that a group of his colleagues who are highly specialized in military, chemical and biological fields have been either bribed or threatened during the last weeks to provide written information on what they know about various programs and research centers and the possible storage of WMD equipment. . . . The professor also said these people have been openly asked to confirm or deny the existence of research or related WMD equipment. A large number of these scientists, who are believed to be under the surveillance of U.S. intelligence operatives, have claimed that if they refuse to comply with this request, they may be killed or arrested on charges of concealing the truth if these weapons are found by the Bush administration in the future. . . . He said that the Iraqi scientists believe their lives would be in danger if they decline to cooperate with the occupation forces, especially when they recall that senior U.S. officer Michael Peterson once said, ?Iraqi scientists are at any case a threat to the U.S. administration, whether they talk or not. . . . A source close to the Iraqi Governing Council said, "In the meantime, many suspect containers disguised as fuel supplies have been moved about by some units of the U.S. special forces. The move has been carried out under heavy security measures. Also, there are unofficial reports that the containers held biological and bacteriological toxins in liquid form. It is possible that the news about the discovery of the WMDs would be announced later." . . . He also said that such mixtures had been used by the Saddam regime in the 1990s. . . . The source added that some provocative actions such as the closure of Al-Hawza periodical by U.S. administrator Paul Bremer, the secret meetings between his envoys with some extremist groups who have no relations with the Iraqi Governing Council, the sudden upsurge in violence in central and southern Iraq, a number of activities which have stoked up the wrath of the prominent Shia clerics, and finally, the spate of kidnappings and the baseless charges against the Iranian charge d'affaires in Baghdad are providing the necessary smokescreen for the transportation of the WMD to their intended locations. . . . He said they are quite aware that the White House in cooperation with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has directly tasked the Defense Department to hide these weapons. Given the recent scandals to the effect that the U.S. president was privy to the 9/11 plot, they might try to immediately announce the discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order to overshadow the scandals and prevent a further decline of Bush's public opinion rating as the election approaches.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 1:30 PM

Americans use Saddam's palaces for their headquarters, Saddam's prisons to incarcerate their own prisoners, and promote democracy by closing newspapers they don't like, all giving the impression to Iraqis that they have substituted one set of oppressors for another.
US is paying the price for bungling the war
By H.D.S. Greenway | April 16, 2004

"THE FRUIT of the poison tree" is an aphorism taught in law schools pertaining to search and seizure. It means that if a law enforcement officer does something wrong in the beginning of the process, if he should fail to have a proper warrant, for example, then everything following from that mistake is similarly tainted. I fear that we are seeing that doctrine coming true in the mother of all search and seizures, Iraq.
. . . Read more!

posted by Hal 9:53 PM

Radical Cleric Stands Firm, Says He Won't Disband Army
(Edward Wong, New York Times, April 16, 2004)
Moktada al-Sadr, the spiritual leader of the Mahdi militia, a Shiite insurrection group, said in Kufa this morning that he was not willing to disband his army under any circumstances, further reinforcing the stalemate between him and the American forces. . . . "All I want is to end the occupation and to hand over sovereignty to the Iraqis," Mr. Sadr said. "There can be no sovereignty with the occupation forces." . . . Appearing for the first time in public in two weeks, the cleric, who is on the United States wanted list, adopted a harsh anti-American tone, and offered no suggestion that he was ready to compromise with the Americans. . . . United States military commanders have insisted that they must reach some type of settlement regarding Mr. Sadr and his militia before the handover of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government on June 30. Coalition commanders have vowed to "capture or kill" Mr. Sadr if he doesn't turn himself in. . . . Kufa, where Mr. Sadr's mosque is based, was fairly quiet today, and was still controlled by the Mahdi militia. There was a firefight between the militia and a passing American convoy, witnesses said, but there were no reports of casualties. . . . On Thursday, men wearing black-and-white headdresses and carrying AK-47's stood next to freshly dug foxholes alongside the road. In Najaf, where Mr. Sadr had previously sought refuge, the city was surrounded by 2,500 American troops.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:29 PM

Probe Shows Iraq Nuke Facilities Unguarded
(The Guardian, April 15, 2004)
Some Iraqi nuclear facilities appear to be unguarded, and radioactive materials are being taken out of the country, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency reported after reviewing satellite images and equipment that has turned up in European scrapyards. . . . The IAEA is waiting for a reply from the United States, which is leading the coalition administering Iraq, officials said. . . . The United Sattes has virtually cut off information-sharing with the IAEA since invading Iraq in March 2002 on the premise that the country was hiding weapons of mass destruction. . . . No such weapons have been found, and arms control officials now worry the war and its chaotic aftermath may have increased chances that terrorists could get their hands on materials used for unconventional weapons or that civilians may be unknowingly exposed to radioactive materials. . . . According to ElBaradei's letter, satellite imagery shows ``extensive removal of equipment and in some instances, removal of entire buildings,'' in Iraq. . . . In January, the IAEA confirmed that Iraq was the likely source of radioactive material known as yellowcake that was found in a shipment of scrap metal at Rotterdam harbor. . . . A small number of Iraqi missile engines have also turned up in European ports, IAEA officials said. . . . ``It is not clear whether the removal of these items has been the result of looting activities in the aftermath of the recent war in Iraq or as part of systematic efforts to rehabilitate some of their locations,'' ElBaradei wrote to the council. . . . The IAEA has been unable to investigate, monitor or protect Iraqi nuclear materials since the U.S. invaded the country in March 2003. The United States has refused to allow the IAEA or other U.N. weapons inspectors into the country, claiming that the coalition has taken over responsibility for illict weapons searches. . . . So far those searches have come up empty-handed and the CIA's first chief weapons hunter has said he no longer believes Iraq had weapons just prior to the invasion.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:35 AM

Americans Slaughtering Civilians in Falluja
(Dahr Jamail, The NewStandard, April 12, 2004)
I knew the entire city of Falluja had been sealed and was suffering from collective punishment in the form of no water or electricity for several days now. . . . We joined a small group of internationals to ride a large bus carrying a load of humanitarian supplies there, and with the hopes of bringing some of the wounded out prior to the next American onslaught, which was due to kick off at any time now. . . . Even leaving Baghdad now is dangerous. The military has shut down the main highway between here and Jordan. The highway, even just outside Baghdad, is desolate and littered with destroyed fuel tanker trucks -- their smouldering shells littered the highway. We rolled past a large M-1 Tank that was still burning under an overpass which had just been hit by the resistance. . . . Back on the highway, it was strewn with smoking fuel tankers, destroyed military tanks and armoured personnel carriers . . . Once we turned off the highway, which the U.S. was perilously holding onto, there was no U.S. military presence visible at all as we were in controlled-controlled territory. Our bus wound its way through farm roads, and each time we passed someone they would yell, "God bless you for going to Falluja!" Everyone we passed was flashing us the victory sign, waving, and giving the thumbs-up. . . . As we neared Falluja a huge mushroom caused by a large U.S. bomb rose from the city. So much for the cease fire. . . . The city itself was virtually empty, aside from groups of mujahedin standing on every other street corner. It was a city at war. We rolled towards the one small clinic where we were to deliver our medical supplies. It’s managed by Mr. Maki Al-Nazzal, who was hired just 4 days ago to do so. He is not a doctor. . . . He hadn't slept much, along with all of the doctors at the small clinic. . . . It started with just three doctors, but since the Americans bombed one of the hospitals, and were currently sniping people as they attempted to enter/exit the main hospital, effectively there were only 2 small clinics treating all of Falluja. The other has been set up in a car garage. . . . As I was there, an endless stream of women and children who'd been sniped by the Americans were being raced into the dirty clinic, the cars speeding over the curb out front as their wailing family members carried them in. . . . This scene continued, off and on, into the night as the sniping continued. . . . One small boy of 11, his face covered by a kefir and toting around a Kalashnikov that was nearly as big as he was, patrolled areas around the clinic, making sure they were secure. He was confident and very eager for battle. I wondered how the U.S. soldiers would feel about fighting an 11 year-old child? For the next day, on the way out of Falluja, I saw several groups of children fighting as mujahedin. . . . After we delivered the aid, three of my friends agreed to ride out on the one functioning ambulance for the clinic to retrieve the wounded. . . . Although the ambulance already had three bullet holes from a U.S. sniper through the front windshield on the driver's side, having westerners on board was the only hope that soldiers would allow them to retrieve more wounded Iraqis. . . . The previous driver was wounded when one of the sniper's shots grazed his head. . . . We ended up spending the night with one of the local men who had filmed the atrocities. He showed us footage of a dead baby who he claimed was torn from his mother's chest by Marines. Other horrendous footage of slain Iraqis was shown to us as well. . . . There had been reports of cluster bombs being dropped too, and two of the last victims that arrived at the clinic were reported by the locals to have been hit by cluster bombs they were horribly burned and their bodies shredded. . . . The next morning we walked back to the clinic. One of my friends who'd done another ambulance run said that a Marine she encountered had told them to leave, because the military was about to use air support to begin 'clearing the city.' . . . What I can report from Falluja is that there is no ceasefire, and apparently there never was. Iraqi women and children are being shot by American snipers. Over 600 Iraqis have now been killed by American aggression, and the residents have turned two football fields into graveyards. Ambulances are being shot by the Americans. And now they are preparing to launch a full-scale invasion of the city. . . . All of which is occurring under the guise of catching the people who killed the four Blackwater Security personnel and hung two of their bodies from a bridge.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 10:11 AM

US Military Keeps Track of Some, If Not All, Civilian Casualties in Iraq
The official line has been that the US is not keeping track of Iraqi civilian deaths, but revelations tucked away in newspaper articles contradict this. . . . a general in Iraq told the New York Times something different: "We do keep records of innocent civilians who are killed accidentally by coalition force soldiers," said Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling, assistant commander for the First Armored Division, which patrols Baghdad. "And, in fact, in every one of those innocent death situations, we conduct internal investigations to determine what happened." . . . That same article focuses on Capt. Jonathan Tracy in Baghdad, who hands out "sympathy payments" of $1,000 for an injury and $2,500 for a life. These payments are for people killed or injured during combat situations, including the "major combat" of March through 01 May 2003. Tracy also doles out payments for noncombat situations, as the Times explains: . . . As of the article's date, 07 March 2004: The US military has doled out $2.2 million in compensation to Iraqis under that law since Washington formally declared major combat operations ended on May 1. But of the 11,300 claims processed so far, it has denied compensation in 5,700 cases, just more than half. Another 3,700 claims are outstanding.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:53 AM



Look into the glazed eyes
of this dead Iraqi child
and clearly see
the cost of our blatant
act of hubris.

a defenseless country
for purely selfish
we have morally

Not just in the eyes of
the world but
more importantly
within ourselves.

He was in the mosque
at Fallujah
worshiping with
his parents when
the American

Look at him
Can you hear
his silent
cry of despair?

you feel
his utter
as the life force
was suddenly
sucked from
his small

Multiply him
by hundreds ,
No, thousands
and you may
begin to
understand the
cost of our

These are the
pictures the Bush
does not want
you to see.

Coffins returning from Iraq with fallen US troops. Too sad for words. This kind of photo could end the war, though. It's called the Dover Effect.Much
like the 650 plus
dead American
spirited into the
country at night
with no cameras
and no Government
officials to honor

Much like the 4000
wounded soldiers
and over 10,000
non combat
tucked out
of sight.

No visits from
the four horseman
of hubris ~

Nor their two
faithful ponies
right behind
them ~

Dead Iraqi childLook
at this child
and let these
sink in.

Our self -
serving hubris
is responsible
for his

The cost of
hubris is

Are you willing
to pay that

Allen L. Roland

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posted by Lorenzo 8:49 PM

Showdown in Najaf
(Tom Regan, Christian Science Monitor, April 13, 2004)
Rory McCarthy, in an analysis for the Guardian, said some of the US's main problems in Iraq have been a "rigid adherence to military doctrine that has repeatedly caused problems," combined with a lack of diplomacy, and an inability to form strategic alliances. . . . George Lopez, international security expert at the University of Notre Dame in the US, told the Associated Press: "We have taken a low-level cleric and made him into a national symbol of resistance against the Americans, just before an Islamic holy day. And we have backed al-Sistani, our one major hope for preaching calm and patience among the Shiites, into a corner." . . . Fareed Zakaria, writing in Newsweek, also says this "rigid adherence" to a particular set of ideas about the way to move forward in Iraq can also be found in the White House. . . . The Bush administration went into Iraq with a series of prejudices about Iraq, rogue states, nation-building, the Clinton administration, multilateralism and the UN. It believed Iraq was going to vindicate these ideological positions. As events unfolded the administration proved stubbornly unwilling to look at facts on the ground, new evidence and the need for shifts in its basic approach. It was more important to prove that it was right than to get Iraq right. . . . Anne Penketh, the diplomatic editor of the Independent, looks at four possible scenarios for Iraq, including "Continued occupation," "Cut and run," "UN takes over," and "A fudge." Ms. Penketh writes that the "fudge" option is the most likely outcome. . . . Fudge: Escalating conflict means crisis management comes beforeplanning. Handover postponed as conflict deepens while talks with the UN bog down. Troop reinforcements discussed but not dispatched. Insurgents and terrorists are emboldened, sensing the occupiers are on the run. Tom Friedman, columnist for The New York Times, writes that both sides need to change their tactics. The US needs to reach out for international support, and Arab nations around the region have to realize that a positive outcome for Iraq is in their best interests. . . . And that's why the Arab leaders need to talk to their sons and daughters. If the Arabs miss yet another decade of reform, because Iraq spins out of control while the world speeds ahead, they will find themselves outside the world system and dealing with plenty of their own Fallujahs. Talk to Arab youth today, and you will find so many of them utterly despondent at the complete drift in their societies. They are stuck in a sandstorm, where opportunities for young people to realize their potential are fading.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:12 AM

A View From the Frontline in Iraq
(Michael Peirce, LewRockwell.com, 13 April 2004)
It's the near future and a dark cloud has descended upon the land. The constitution has been overthrown; freedom is reduced to a mere slogan used by the governing wing of the Party which has been running the country for several years. The Party controls everything from cigarettes to candy bars; you cannot own a house, buy a car or drive across a bridge without offering tribute to Party functionaries. Citizens are terrorized by multiple branches of the secret police who send out jack-booted hit squads in the night, wearing masks and carrying automatic weapons, to target "offenders." In this bleak future (?) more people are incarcerated than in the entire rest of the world combined. ...Now word has come that another country, mouthing high ideals and speaking the magic words of freedom and liberation, has announced that it is coming to break those chains. They expect to be embraced gladly and welcomed with flowers. They will confiscate all the guns and bring peace and an end to oppression to the land. What do we do? I'll tell you what we do. We grab those guns we've managed to retain or dig up those guns we buried in the back yard, form citizen's militias and make life hell for the "liberators!" And that is exactly what has happened in Iraq. The brutal dictator deposed by American bayonets was widely hated and his Baathest party held in great contempt. But the foreigners came and they stayed. No man can tolerate that. I asked a friend of mine, another old-timer like me, what the heck he was doing in an elite unit in Iraq. He replied that he was an old soldier and felt it his duty to be there to take care of the youngsters, many of whom are his son's age. He is against this war, as I am, and feels we were lied into it and are being consistently lied to about how it is going down. He wonders why the loud talkers from the neo-conservative camp are not to be found wearing the uniform and I wonder about that too. ...what he tells me is not what you'd call encouraging. He does not claim that all our soldiers feel like him but notes that: "...Every unit over here has a neo-con or two in it, usually they have just arrived in country and are as numerous and as annoying as that familiar, belligerent idiot at the bar loudly spouting his bumper sticker ideology. In other words, there are still people who believe that Saddam was behind the WTC bombing and that there still are WMD's to be found." I'll let him tell you in his own words about his place in the scheme of things: ...I'm not some Rear Echelon soldier. ...As a member of the Special Operations Community, I've probably got more time in a parachute harness than most of these fine young soldiers I a serving with. I know for a fact that I have more time in uniform and combat than all the gasbag neo-con war cheerleaders that are notably absent from this little "adventure" of theirs. My compound has firefights or gunfights or rocket attacks outside it every night, sometimes the shooting is celebratory and other times it is angry such as when some young soldier, thanks to the ineptitude of his battalion command and other staff leaders, needlessly kills an innocent Iraqi citizen or provokes the locals into revenge for any number of reasons. There is a lovely gun-grab policy in effect now, effectively disarming the law abiding and somehow missing the terrorists. Notice his reference to the "gun grab" policy. Does it make you wonder, that the lovely new constitution we've cooked up for the Iraqis does not include a right to own firearms? How then can we call this country liberated? Is a man free who cannot own a weapon? Even Saddam did not dare to try and disarm the Iraqis. And what does that tell us about the commitment of our leaders to our own constitutional right to bear arms? [In respect to how things are] playing out in truth compared to what we're hearing back here in the "world." "Everything you have heard about the war should be viewed with the greatest of suspicion, "consider the source" as we always say. The first five minutes here in [Iraq] country we learned that truth, and what we were told, are two totally different things. For starters, things are not getting better every day, they are getting worse. The bad guys are becoming more sophisticated and, sadly, thanks to our illustrious "leadership" at command level, we are becoming more stupid. So what exactly doe that mean? We're told we're fighting for "heart and minds" and our troops are actually in danger because of the imposed restraints and the need to limit "collateral" casualties." "Many commanders are playing cowboy over here, they are showing up with their own agenda and running your taxpayer-funded army units staffed with your children like their own personal fiefdoms. I thought that George S. Patton was the worst egomaniac to command US troops in modern times but he was a mere piker compared to some of the Lieutenant Colonels and above over here. ...one battalion commander...had his own policy for dealing with Iraqi's loitering on top of overpasses. The battalion commander in question had a simple policy for clearing out these Iraqi citizens...machine gun them off the bridge. Thankfully his personal opinions on how to wage war were discovered by one of the few remaining people in our military command with a lick of sense and he was relieved. A few days ago, one of the infantry units here that spend most of their time sitting behind the wire on their FOB, had an IED attack. When the bomb went off, an Iraqi family that was near the blast became terrified and ran away (as anyone would naturally do). The American GI's successfully massacred the mother, the father, the grandmother and one of the two teenage girls. The surviving child was lucky to escape with only having both legs blown off. "Hajii" likes to take a potshot and disappear back into the crowd, hoping and praying that you will open fire indiscriminately. Every innocent person we kill nets Hajii handfuls of able bodied, red hot, angry and ready to seek revenge recruits. I wonder how quickly support for this needless war would dwindle if we started seeing the shattered lives and bodies that our new neo-con "tough guy" policy is wreaking. ...enemies are expensive and that the neo-cons are writing checks with the bodies and lives of our children, checks that they personally can't and won't ever cover personally because of their cowardice and frankly, because we are letting them get away with it. In the next election, if you are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, choose neither. The American people could vote the Party out of office in a single day in November. But that would mean not voting for a democrat or a republican and that seems to be just too big a leap for most folks. I'm quite prepared to defend my country. However, I'm never prepared to wage aggressive war against a country that has not attacked us and I find it immoral and unfair to our troops that they have been put in this situation. The American people have been asleep at the wheel on this one and our soldiers are paying the price for it. In any war, it is unfair to ask soldiers to fight and die unless their sacrifice is for something worthwhile. In this ludicrous struggle the very act of fighting is counter productive! Getting out of the "Sandbox" will be a lot harder than getting in was. We've allowed ourselves to be put in a box; where there were no American targets there are now many. Every shot we fire creates more enemies. Any hope of a successful flag-raising op is gone - our real enemies are rubbing their hands together with glee. That does not mean of course, that no threat exists. Bin Laden is still wondering why we lost interest in him. Real terrorists do exist and they can and do enter this country readily - the Border Patrol reports a frightening proportion of border jumpers are now of Arabic origin. So there is a definite need for Big Sarge and his boys right here in the United States. Doing what our damned useless leaders refuse to do which is to defend the borders of this country!
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 10:18 AM

US Troops Commit Massacre in Fallujah: Over 600 Dead, 1,000 Injured, 60,000 Refugees
(Democracy Now, April 12, 2004)
The U.S. siege of Fallujah continues and reports are emerging of a massacre of Iraqi civilians at the hands of U.S. troops. We go to Iraq to get a report from Free Speech Radio News' Aaron Glantz who interviews Iraqis fleeing Fallujah as well as a producer with Al-Jazeera television who says he and fellow journalists were targeted by U.S. snipers in the town. . . . The town of Fallujah is under siege and there are reports of a massacre of Iraqis at the hands U.S. troops. The death toll in the town has now topped 600 with over 1,000 injured. . . . Local hospitals reported the majority of the dead were women, children and the elderly. . . . More than 60,000 women and children fled the city during a brief ceasefire on Friday but the US blocked any men of military age from leaving. Dozens of bodies have been buried in the city's soccer stadium after US forces blocked roads heading toward the cemetery. . . . The attack on Fallujah has galvanized major portions of the Iraqi population against the U.S. Middle East blogger and University of Michigan professor Juan Cole writes "There is a danger that the vindictive attitude of the Americans ... will push the whole country to hate them. A hated occupier is powerless even with all the firepower in the world."
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posted by Lorenzo 11:15 AM

Sad but true
On balance, Iraq was better off under Saddam.
-- Hans Blix
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posted by Lorenzo 5:03 PM

Developments in Iraq
(Associated Press, April 10, 2004)
Hundreds of reinforcements joined Marines besieging Fallujah, and the military said it would move to take the entire city if talks fail. Gunfire crackled even as Iraqi government negotiators met with city leaders, trying to persuade them to hand over militants who killed and mutilated four Americans in the city March 31. . . . Militants struck a U.S. air base with mortars in Balad, north of Baghdad, killing an American airman. . . . Fighters attacked government buildings and police stations in Baqouba, setting off firefights in which about 40 Iraqis were killed. Several U.S. troops were wounded. . . . Insurgents fought U.S. troops in Baghdad's northern, mainly Sunni neighborhood of al-Azamiyah. . . . Masked gunmen played havoc on the road between Baghdad and Fallujah, a key supply route, rocketing a second fuel convoy in the area in as many days. Nearby, guerrillas hit a U.S. tank with an rocket-propelled grenade, setting it ablaze. . . . Militants threatened to kill and mutilate Thomas Hamill, an American civilian captured Friday during another convoy ambush in the same area the latest in a series of kidnappings in Iraq. They demanded troops withdraw from Fallujah. . . . Militants continued to hold hostage two aid workers a Canadian and an Arab from Jerusalem but announced they would free three Japanese civilians. The kidnappers of the Japanese, identifying themselves as the ''Muhahedeen Squadron,'' said they made the decision after mediation by the Islamic Clerics Committee, a Sunni organization, Al-Jazeera reported. . . . The head of the Iraqi Red Crescent's Irbil office, Barzan Umer Mantik, and his wife were attacked and killed in their car in the nearby city of Mosul, the International Committee of the Red Cross said. . . . The German Foreign Ministry said two security agents from its embassy in Baghdad have been missing for several days. It gave no further details, but Germany's ZDF and ARD television reported that the missing were two Germans, 38 and 25 years old, who were ambushed Wednesday while on a routine trip from Amman, Jordan, to Baghdad. . . . Gunmen attacked a checkpoint of Iraqi security forces near the northern city of Kirkuk, killing two Iraqi security members and kidnapping three others. . . . A member of the Iraqi Governing Council, Ahmed al-Barak, was attacked while traveling from Hilla to Baghdad. He escaped unharmed but three bodyguards were wounded.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:45 PM

L. Paul Bremer: The ultimate Ugly American
(Sartre, The Online Journal, April 7, 2004)
An Ugly American is a pejorative term for Americans traveling or living abroad who remain ignorant of local culture and judge everything by American standards. So what do you call an administrative occupier who wants to transform a foreign culture into a colonial tool of neocon aims and goals? The ultimate is often overused, but in this context, Bremer has demonstrated that he is prominently in the running for such a dubious title. Refusal to see the morass that is American Middle East foreign policy is the fatal legacy of this era of unrestrained intervention. Losing in Southeast Asia was inevitable; it was a civil war. Avoiding another defeat is possible, by admitting that the occupation intensifies ingrained tribal conflicts. Nation building is a nightmare that arrogant fools dream. The deaths in Fallujah are symptomatic of a terminal disease. Contractors alter into security guards and mutate into mercenaries. Blackwater Security Consulting is in the business of recruiting legionnaires. "We employ only the most highly motivated and professional operators, all drawn from various U.S. and international Special Operations Forces, Intelligence and Law Enforcement organizations". Paying $15,000 a month for services, seems to qualify for Have Gun Will Travel. So why dodge the factual in pursuit of an ignoble veneer that conceals the true nature and purpose of civilian hired guns? There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 2:41 PM

In Iraq, a 'perfect storm'
(Dan Murphy, Christian Science Monitor, April 9, 2004)
A series of events has triggered the bloodiest crisis to date for US forces in postwar Iraq. . . . The US closure of an irregularly published newspaper with just 5,000 readers seemed a tiny moment in the struggle for stability in Iraq. But the March 28 move to close Al Hawza, controlled by militant Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, now looks like the edge of a violent storm. . . . How its twin fronts - of Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents - built and combined to create what might be described as the perfect Iraqi sandstorm is only now coming into focus. At the time, no one would have forecast that the deaths of four US security contractors alone would result in a major military campaign in Fallujah. Similarly, the US coalition hardly anticipated that the closure of just one of 100-plus newspapers in Baghdad would form the genesis of a Shiite revolt in half a dozen cities around Iraq. . . . Al Hawza was closed March 28 for what US administrators deemed its tendency to incite violence. . . . It proved a miscalculation. The closure provided a pretext for Sadr to call out thousands of supporters for daily protests in Baghdad and helped him win sympathy from many previously skeptical Iraqis who felt he was being unfairly muzzled. After a close aide of Sadr's, Mustafa Yacoubi, was arrested April 2 for allegedly participating in the murder of a rival cleric, those protests started to turn ugly. Unrest grew in southern cities as well. . . . Meanwhile in Fallujah, once a bastion of support for Saddam Hussein and always an insurgent hotbed, the shocking pictures of the March 31 killing and mutilation of the four contractors led the White House to vow swift retaliation. . . . The murders of the contractors were less significant inside Iraq than the response they drew from the Marines. As the Fallujah siege began, producing scores of Iraqi casualties, Sadr's supporters saw an opportunity to take more power for themselves as general Iraqi sympathy for the insurgents rose. Fighting spread to a number of southern cities. . . . But with casualties heavy for both Sunnis and Shiites, many undoubtedly civilian, the violence forged an unlikely alliance. Both Sunni insurgents and Shiite militants expressed their mutual admiration. . . . "This character Sadr, I have a lot of sympathy for him now and respect his bravery,'' says a young man from Fallujah, now living in Baghdad, who has participated in attacks on US forces. "This isn't about Shiite or Sunni, or who will lead Iraq. Now it's a war of liberation to kick the occupiers out of Iraqi lands." . . . Dr. Dodge says the occupation should have included three times as many troops to keep order, and that there should have been a more cautious assessment of the cultural and political environment than the prevailing view before the war that most Iraqis, happy to be rid of Hussein, would remain cooperative. . . . The fighting has drawn the US into the position that all occupiers want to avoid: combat against a foe scattered among the civilian population. Counterinsurgency in that environment inevitably creates civilian casualties, and even more hostility. . . . Now in the spiraling conflict, soldiers are being forced to engage in urban combat not just in Fallujah, but in the nearby Sunni town of Ramadi, in central Baghdad, and near the Shiite shrine city of Najaf. The consequence is looking like aggressors, stirring support for the insurgents. . . . "This notion that technocrats with technocratic solutions is what Iraq needs is entirely naive,'' says Ramiz. "It completely ignores the political and cultural spheres. What was needed was real Iraqi leaders." . . . For now, Marines continue to fight pitched battles in Fallujah, and have taken control of about 25 percent of the town, according to a spokesman. The death toll of Iraqis there has risen above 150, and Iraqi aid convoys have been pouring towards the city. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez vowed US forces would "imminently" retake the southern city of Al Kut, where Mahdi army members chased out a Ukrainian force on Wednesday.

Uprising in Iraq

March 28 US-led coalition authorities close Moqtada al-Sadr's newspaper, Al Hawza.

March 31 A guerrilla ambush on two vehicles in Fallujah kills four American military contractors. Images of their mutilated bodies are shown worldwide.

April 3 The arrest of Mustafa al-Yacoubi, a close aide of Sadr and a lieutenant in Najaf, provokes demonstrations and attacks in Baghdad and southern Iraq.

April 4 Dozens of militants belonging to Sadr's Mahdi army move into the governor's office in Basra at dawn the next day. Eight American soldiers are killed in gunfights around Baghdad.

April 7 US bomb hits mosque courtyard wall killing 40 Iraqis, say Iraqi witnesses.

April 8 Shiite Muslim militias hold partial control over three southern Iraqi cities, Kut, Najaf, and Fallujah. Iraqi gunmen kidnap foreign civilians including South Koreans and Japanese.

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posted by Lorenzo 1:01 PM

Battles rage across Iraq
(Globe and Mail, April 7, 2004)
U.S. marines in a fierce battle for this Sunni Muslim stronghold bombed a mosque compound filled with worshippers Wednesday and witnesses said as many as 40 people were killed. Meanwhile, an uprising by a Shiite militia spread the fighting to nearly all of Iraq. . . . Marines waged a six-hour battle around the Abdul-Aziz al-Samarrai mosque with the militants holed up inside. A Cobra helicopter fired a Hellfire missile at the base of its minaret, and an F-16 dropped a 225-kilogram, laser-guided bomb, said marine Lt.-Col. Brennan Byrne. . . . Witnesses said the strike came as worshippers had gathered for afternoon prayers. . . . An Associated Press reporter saw cars ferrying the dead and wounded from the mosque. Witnesses said part of a wall surrounding the mosque compound was destroyed but the main building had not been damaged. . . . Temporary hospitals were set up in private homes to treat the wounded and prepare the dead for burial. There was no immediate confirmation of the number killed. . . . Elsewhere in Fallujah, U.S. forces seized another mosque, the al-Muadidi mosque, and a marine climbed its minaret and fired down on gunmen, witnesses said. Insurgents hit the minaret with rocket-propelled grenades, causing it to partly collapse, The AP reporter said. . . . Insurgents also blew up two highway overpasses into the city to prevent U.S. troops from using them. A U.S. helicopter rocketed three houses, and the reporter saw at least five wounded people, including a young boy, being pulled out of one them. . . . Col. Byrne said the marines controlled about a quarter of Fallujah on Wednesday. However, the insurgents, who enjoy wide support among Fallujah's inhabitants, were dug in and fiercely resisting the U.S. advance. . . . The intensity of the resistance apparently prompted U.S. forces to bring in heavy weapons such as helicopters, tanks and AC130 gunships that have pounded suspected guerrilla sites in the densely populated neighbourhoods. . . . Since Sunday, 34 Americans, two other coalition soldiers and more than 190 Iraqis had been killed in fighting across the country. The Iraqi figure did not include those killed at the mosque. . . . "I call upon the American people to stand beside their brethren, the Iraqi people, who are suffering an injustice by your rulers and the occupying army, to help them in the transfer of power to honest Iraqis," Mr. al-Sadr said in a statement issued from his office in the southern city of Najaf. "Otherwise, Iraq will be another Vietnam for America and the occupiers." . . . Mr. al-Sadr's al-Mahdi Army militia launched heavy gunbattles with coalition forces in the streets of three southern cities Wednesday and, for the first time, in the north. . . . Shiite gunmen drove Ukrainian forces out of the southern city of Kut — raising concerns over the ability of U.S. allies to control Mr. al-Sadr's uprising. . . . And there was praise for Mr. al-Sadr's revolt from Sunni insurgents, who have been fighting the U.S.-led occupation for months and who have often chided their Shiite countrymen for not joining in. . . . Sixteen children and eight women were reported killed when warplanes struck four houses late Tuesday, said Hatem Samir, a Fallujah Hospital official.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:11 PM

Fernando Suarez del Solar received this email on Tues., 4/6. Forward and translation by Lynn Gonzalez

Iman Khamas, Director of the Occupation Watch Center in Baghdad, has sent this message this afternoon about what is happening in Iraqi cities.

"The Iraqi cities of Sadr, Adamiya, Kufa, Faluja, Shula and other have been closed and are being bombarded with missiles and tanks by the US occupation forces and their representatives. The civilian population is being assassinated. The highway to Faluja is closed and word from the interior of this city indicates that the streets are littered with many dead. There are no ambulances, nor water or electricity. Reporters are prohibited from entering and many camaras have been broken. All this indicates that this situation will continue in the coming days. Please, help us"

Iman Khamas

Director, Occupation Watch Center
Baghdad, April 6, 2004
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posted by Lorenzo 1:58 PM

The War President Mosaic
I strongly urge everyone to read the story of this powerful image and then spend a little time looking at the image itself. As the artist says:

I'd also like to point out that 'War President' is an image. It is not a textual statement or rhetorical argument. An image is like an empty room and any message that one reads in that room necessarily came in the baggage one carried when one walked in the door. If I made a mosaic of George Washington composed of images of the American dead from the revolution, would viewers likely take that image as an indictment of Washington? I submit that they would not. It would be viewed as a monument to the dead and a celebration of a great leader, a somewhat maudlin monument maybe but surely not offensive. The fact that 'War President' is not viewed such a manner is not due to any intrinsic property of 'War President' but lies somewhere else.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:54 PM

US senators warn of Iraq civil war
(Justin Webb, BBC, 5 April 2004)
Richard Lugar and Joe Biden, the Republic and Democratic Party leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the US should consider postponing the handing over of sovereignty which at the moment is set for 30 June. . . . The date is an important political deadline for the White House, which wants to be able to show the American people that it is making progress towards handing Iraqi affairs back to the Iraqi people. . . . Democrat Senator Joe Biden talked over the weekend of the real prospect of civil war in Iraq if the White House sticks to the 30 June deadline for handing over sovereignty. . . . Mr Biden said Nato should be involved and the UN should be invited to send a commissioner to help run the country. . . . Mr Biden's Republican colleague, Richard Lugar, also talked of the possibility of civil war. . . . He said it was time to begin a debate on whether the 30 June handover could still take place. . . . The Foreign Relations Committee will begin hearings on the subject soon. . . . The White House is heavily committed to its deadline. . . . Letting that date slip would send a message to the American people, only months before the presidential election, that Iraq was out of control.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:17 PM

Pentagon Covers UP Nuclear Poisoning of US Troops
(Democracy Now, April 5, 2004)
A special investigation by Democracy Now! Co-host Juan Gonzalez of the New York Daily News has found four of nine soldiers of the 442nd Military Police Company of the New York Army National Guard returning from Iraq tested positive for depleted uranium contamination. They are the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict. . . . After repeatedly being denied testing for depleted uranium from Army doctors, the soldiers contacted The News who paid to have them tested as part of their investigation. . . . Testing for uranium isotopes in 24 hours' worth of urine samples can cost as much as $1,000 each. . . . Army officials at Fort Dix and Walter Reed Army Medical Center are now rushing to test all returning members of the 442nd. More than a dozen members are back in the U.S. but the rest of the company, mostly comprised of New York City cops, firefighters and correction officers, is not due to return from Iraq until later this month.

Shocking report reveals local troops may be victims of America's high-tech weapons
"I got sick instantly in June," said Staff Sgt. Ray Ramos, a Brooklyn housing cop. "My health kept going downhill with daily headaches, constant numbness in my hands and rashes on my stomach." . . . A nuclear medicine expert who examined and tested nine soldiers from the company says that four "almost certainly" inhaled radioactive dust from exploded American shells manufactured with depleted uranium. . . . Laboratory tests conducted at the request of The News revealed traces of two man made forms of uranium in urine samples from four of the soldiers. . . . If so, the men - Sgt. Hector Vega, Sgt. Ray Ramos, Sgt. Agustin Matos and Cpl. Anthony Yonnone - are the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict. . . . "These are amazing results, especially since these soldiers were military police not exposed to the heat of battle," said Dr. Asaf Duracovic, who examined the G.I.s and performed the testing that was funded by The News. . . . "Other American soldiers who were in combat must have more depleted uranium exposure," said Duracovic, a colonel in the Army Reserves who served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. . . . While working at a military hospital in Delaware, he was one of the first doctors to discover unusual radiation levels in Gulf War veterans. He has since become a leading critic of the use of depleted uranium in warfare. . . . the test results for the New York guardsmen - four of nine positives for DU - suggest the potential for more extensive radiation exposure among coalition troops and Iraqi civilians. . . . In January 2003, the ­European Parliament called for a moratorium on their use after reports of an unusual number of leukemia deaths among Italian soldiers who served in Kosovo, where DU weapons were used. .. . . Before the 1991 Persian Gulf War, a 1990 Army report noted that depleted uranium is "linked to cancer when exposures are internal, [and] chemical toxicity causing kidney damage." . . . It was during the Gulf War that U.S. A-10 Warthog "tank buster" planes and Abrams tanks first used DU artillery on a mass scale. The Pentagon says it fired about 320 tons of DU in that war and that smaller amounts were also used in the Serbian province of Kosovo. . . . In the Gulf War, Army brass did not warn soldiers about any risks from exploding DU shells. An unknown number of G.I.s were exposed by shrapnel, inhalation or handling battlefield debris. . . . Some veterans groups blame DU contamination as a factor in Gulf War syndrome, the term for a host of ailments that afflicted thousands of vets from that war. . . . "A large number of American soldiers [in Iraq] may have had significant exposure to uranium oxide dust," said Dr. Thomas Fasey, a pathologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center and an expert on depleted uranium. "And the health impact is worrisome for the future." . . . As for the soldiers of the 442nd, they're sick, frustrated and confused. They say when they arrived in Iraq no one warned them about depleted uranium and no one gave them dust masks.

[COMMENT: During the Democracy Now program, Dr. Asaf Duracovic, the nuclear medicine expert who examined the soldiers, told the audience that he had to send the soldiers' urine samples to Germany to be examined. The reason for this is that when he had conducted an earlier test, and sent the samples to a lab in Canada, the laboratory was shut down and it's employees fired for conducting tests that the US Government didn't approve of. As a former US serviceman, I find it abhorrent that our own government has again abandonedd our veterans (as it did in the case of Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome). Perhaps we need to organize permanent information booths outside every US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine recruiting office and tell these unsuspecting volunteers that if they sign up they are no better than lab rats in the eyes of the Cheney-Bush junta.]
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posted by Lorenzo 11:55 AM

Protestor deaths leave Iraq in chaos
(Mitchell Prothero, UPI, April 4, 2004)
A demonstration in the southern city of Najaf turned deadly as Salvadoran soldiers -- under Spanish command -- exchanged fire with supporters of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the city of Najaf. Reports from the scene indicate that at least 19 protesters and 4 coalition troops were killed. . . . The violent clash has left much of the Shiite sections of Iraq in near chaos. . . . This represents the most serious clashes between coalition forces and the Shiite population. Previous large scale fighting has usually occurred between coalition forces and Sunni population, from which more militant members and former Baath Party members had led a year long resistance to the U.S.-led presence. . . . But the Shiites -- which had suffered terrible oppression under Saddam's rule -- have been reluctant to resort to violence, preferring demonstrations and political maneuvering to confrontation. . . . If full scale fighting breaks out, which Sunday night it appeared as very possible -- between U.S. forces and the Shiite followers of Sadr, it would represent the largest setback for the U.S. occupation of Iraq so far, as Iraq's 60 percent Shiite population, which has rarely fought the coalition -- could be forced to choose sides. That would set the stage for a bloody civil war, or more widespread opposition to the U.S.-led presence from a population that has arguably benefited the most from the U.S. invasion. . . . After the estimated 5,000 demonstrators traded gunfire with the troops in Najaf, crowds turned out in Baghdad, Kerbala, and Sadr's home village of Kufa to "declare war on the American occupation," said one supporter. . . . The vast Shiite slum of Sadr City -- named for Moqtada's cleric father who was killed by the Baath regime in 1999 -- went into near chaos Sunday afternoon after the news of the fighting in Najaf. . . . As night fell, U.S. military vehicles, tanks and troops could be seen setting up roadblocks around the neighborhood themselves and reports of widespread fighting in the area have been reported by sources in the neighborhood. . . . One resident told UPI by phone that Sadr's militia had seized all five of Sadr City's police stations are were declaring their own form of martial law. There are also reports that U.S. infantry backed by helicopters and tanks have entered the neighborhood to reclaim the police facilities from the militia. . . . These developments come even as all of Iraq has been waiting for the U.S. response to the horrific attack and mutilation of four government security contractors in Fallujah, a Sunni city 35 miles west of Baghdad.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:44 PM

Senator Lugar: More U.S. Troops May Be Needed in Iraq
(Reuters, April 4, 2004)
The United States may need to bolster its troop presence in Iraq and extend the deadline for transfer to Iraqi rule, amid an insurgency that could lead to civil war, a leading Republican lawmaker said on Sunday. . . . Last week, four U.S. contractors were murdered and mutilated in Falluja, with cheering Iraqis parading the charred bodies through the streets and stringing up two of them for public view. . . . On Sunday, Spanish-led troops and Iraqi police fought a 3-hour gun battle with Shi'ite militiamen near Najaf that left almost two dozen Iraqis and four Salvadoran soldiers dead. . . . Lugar said he is worried that when the U.S.-led coalition turns over sovereignty to Iraqis on June 30, the new government will be unable to deal with the violence. . . . "They're at a point in which clearly they can't control the situation," he said. "You have the militia that has not been disarmed, and if in fact the worst situation comes, the militia begin to fight each other, that is, civil war." . . . "There has been, from the very beginning, a mistake in military planning, where the original forces that went in were potentially not sufficient," said Albright, appearing on the same program. . . . "So there has been a complete mismatch between the military and the political planning in Iraq," she said. . . . Lugar said he supported a proposal from Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the top Democrat on the foreign relations panel, that calls for President Bush to convene a summit with European leaders -- including those who opposed the war -- and repair the U.S.-European alliance. . . . Biden's plan would also have the president seek a U.N. Security Council resolution to create a high commissioner who would be in charge of handling Iraq's political transition, similar to U.N. arrangements in the Balkans and Afghanistan.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:45 AM

U.S.-backed Iraqis provided questionable info
(Jonathan S. Landay and Drew Brown, Knight Ridder Newspapers, April 3, 2004)
The Iraqi National Congress, a U.S.-funded group of former Iraqi exiles, supplied the four defectors whose claims that Saddam Hussein had mobile biological warfare facilities now are being questioned by Secretary of State Colin Powell. . . . One of the defectors was code-named Curveball, senior U.S. officials said, and Curveball was the brother of a top lieutenant to Ahmed Chalabi, the group's leader and now a member of the Iraqi Governing Council. U.S. intelligence officials never directly questioned Curveball before the war, they said. . . . A second defector was determined to be a fabricator, but his claims still found their way into the Bush administration's case for war, according to U.S. officials. . . . Powell's questioning of the defectors' claims puts added pressure on a bipartisan commission named by President Bush in February to examine the quality and use of pre-war intelligence that Saddam had secret stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and was developing nuclear weapons in violation of a U.N. ban. . . . Powell charged in a Feb. 5, 2003, speech to the U.N. Security Council that Iraq had mobile biological warfare production and research facilities. At the time, he was seeking a U.N. resolution backing a U.S.-led invasion. . . . He dramatized his contention by displaying a drawing of a mobile production facility that he said was based on an eyewitness account. . . . Returning from a visit to Germany and Belgium, Powell on Friday acknowledged that the information that underpinned the charge, which he called "the most dramatic" part of his U.N. presentation, is now in doubt. . . . "It appears not to be the case, that it (the defectors' information) was that solid," he said. . . . If the sources fell apart, then we need to find out how we've gotten ourselves in that position," he said. "I've had discussions with the CIA about it." . . . Senior U.S. officials said it was not the CIA but the Defense Intelligence Agency, the top U.S. military intelligence organization, which was responsible for analyzing and corroborating the defectors' information. . . . The DIA received the defectors' claims through its Information Collection Program, a multi-million dollar effort to gather intelligence inside Iraq run by the Iraqi National Congress and funded by U.S. taxpayers. . . . Most of the material supplied by the INC-provided defectors has been determined by U.S. intelligence officials to have been marginal at best, and some of it exaggerated or bogus. . . . Curveball stood out as the best placed of the four INC-supplied defectors whose tales formed the basis for the allegation that Iraq had mobile biological weapons facilities. . . . Claiming to be a chemical engineer, he said that he'd helped design and build such facilities disguised as trucks and railway cars, said the senior U.S. official. . . . "Curveball was the main pillar of the report," he said. . . . The defector was eventually determined to be a brother of a top aide to Chalabi, who lobbied for years in Washington for a U.S.-led ouster of Saddam and forged close ties to pro-invasion hawks in the Pentagon and Vice President Cheney's office.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:56 PM

Reporter Apologizes for Iraq Coverage
(Editor & Publisher Staff, March 29, 2004)
In the wake of Richard Clarke's dramatic personal apology to the families of 9/11 victims last week -- on behalf of himself and his government -- for failing to prevent the terrorist attacks, one might expect at least a few mea culpas related to the release of false information on the Iraq threat before and after the war. While the major media, from The New York Times on down, has largely remained silent about their own failings in this area, a young columnist for a small paper in Fredericksburg, Va., has stepped forward. "The media are finished with their big blowouts on the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and there is one thing they forgot to say: We're sorry," Rick Mercier wrote, in a column published Sunday in The Free Lance-Star. "Sorry we let unsubstantiated claims drive our coverage. Sorry we were dismissive of experts who disputed White House charges against Iraq. Sorry we let a band of self-serving Iraqi defectors make fools of us. Sorry we fell for Colin Powell's performance at the United Nations. Sorry we couldn't bring ourselves to hold the administration's feet to the fire before the war, when it really mattered. "Maybe we'll do a better job next war." Mercier admitted that it was "absurd to receive this apology from a person so low in the media hierarchy. You really ought to be getting it from the editors and reporters at the agenda-setting publications, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post."

Original article by Rick Mercier
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 5:52 PM

Iraq was invaded 'to protect Israel' - US official
(Emad Mekay, Asia Times, Mar 31, 2004)
Iraq under Saddam Hussein did not pose a threat to the United States, but it did to Israel, which is one reason why Washington invaded the Arab country, according to a speech made by a member of a top-level White House intelligence group. Inter Press Service uncovered the remarks by Philip Zelikow, who is now the executive director of the body set up to investigate the terrorist attacks on the US in September 2001 - the 9/11 commission - in which he suggests a prime motive for the invasion just over one year ago was to eliminate a threat to Israel, a staunch US ally in the Middle East. Zelikow's casting of the attack on Iraq as one launched to protect Israel appears at odds with the public position of US President George W Bush and his administration, which has never overtly drawn the link between its war on the regime of Saddam and its concern for Israel's security. The administration has instead insisted it launched the war to liberate the Iraqi people, destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and to protect the United States. Zelikow made his statements about "the unstated threat" during his tenure on a highly knowledgeable and well-connected body known as the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), which reports directly to the president. He served on the board between 2001 and 2003. "Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I'll tell you what I think the real threat [is] and actually has been since 1990 - it's the threat against Israel," Zelikow told a crowd at the University of Virginia on September 10, 2002, speaking on a panel of foreign policy experts assessing the impact of September 11 and the future of the war on al-Qaeda. "And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don't care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn't want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell," said Zelikow. Israel is Washington's biggest ally in the Middle East, receiving annual direct aid of US$3-4 billion. Zelikow has long-established ties to the Bush administration. Before his appointment to PFIAB in October 2001, he was part of the current president's transition team in January 2001. In that capacity, Zelikow drafted a memo for National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on reorganizing and restructuring the National Security Council (NSC) and prioritizing its work. To date, the possibility of the US attacking Iraq to protect Israel has been only timidly raised by some intellectuals and writers, with few public acknowledgements from sources close to the administration. Analysts who reviewed Zelikow's statements said that they are concrete evidence of one factor in the rationale for going to war, which has been hushed up.

*****This is the guy responsible for the direction and emphasis of the 9/11 Commission. Me thinks me smells a rat in the pantry...but, this is just this old curmudgeon's opinion.***********
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 10:08 AM

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