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The fall of the vulcans: Iraq may spell the end of an evangelical belief in American military power
(Timothy Garton Ash, May 29, 2004)
Iraq has turned into a disastrous defeat for America and Britain. All the current debate is essentially about damage limitation. The Bush administration invaded Iraq on what has proved to be a false prospectus. It has made a terrible mess of the occupation. It has created more terrorist threats than were there before. Its military has shamed America with the torture in Abu Ghraib. It has provoked waves of anti-Americanism. And the whole business has been a vast, hugely expensive distraction from the pressing challenges that face America and Europe, including poverty, global warming and the very real struggle against the al-Qaida assassins of New York and Madrid. Even if things get better in Iraq, this indictment will stand. Everyone is asking what America has done to Iraq. But the more important question is: what has Iraq done to America? Redefined it, to be sure, in a new era of world politics. But how? There's a pessimistic interpretation, which sees the American army "specialists" of Abu Ghraib as representative figures - harbingers of a meaner, coarser hyperpower. Here's a more optimistic answer: Iraq could mean the beginning of the end of vulcanism. The vulcans is what the Bush foreign policy team called themselves, as they prepared for office. A 55ft high statue of the Olympian blacksmith, purveyor of thunderbolts to the gods, famously towers above Birmingham, Alabama, home town of Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. As the American writer James Mann shows in his fine book Rise of the Vulcans, the key members of Bush's team had certain things in common. Their formative experiences were in the study or practice of military power. They believed, from the outset, in using the post-cold war moment to establish unchallengeable US military supremacy. Most of them believed in the assertive use of that military power to spread "American values" and fight "evil", defined in muscular Christian terms. And they thought America should not be too encumbered by allies, treaties or international organisations. Vulcan could do it alone. Lust for oil played some part, of course, as did neoconservative plans for a democratic revolution in the Middle East. But what seems to have been decisive was the president's gut instinct to respond to such an attack by going and "kicking butt". Whose butt exactly was, in a sense, secondary. Saddam happened to be the most obvious, persistent and provoking target. As one self-styled soccer mom told me, this attitude is what her kind in America loved about Bush. America had been hit; he was hitting back. This guy was in charge. He was kicking butt. But no longer. Instead, it's Bush's own butt that's being kicked. The boots that marched out to war so confidently are now empty boots spread out on the lawn of Capitol Hill, some 800 pairs of them, deployed by anti-war protesters to symbolise the American dead in Iraq. The soccer moms don't like that. Bush's approval rating has sunk to 41%. The end of vulcanism, if that is what results from the Iraq debacle, does not and should not mean the end of the application of American military power anywhere in the world. It means the end of a one-dimensional, unilateralist, evangelical belief in American military power as the key to world politics.

[Comment] *******A most prescient commentary *******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 9:18 AM

The Abu Ghraib Scandal Cover-Up?
(Michael Hirsh and John Barry, Newsweek, June 7 issue)
The meeting was small and unpublicized. ...Condoleezza Rice grittily endured an hour's worth of pleading from leading human-rights activists who want to see a 9/11-style commission created to investigate the abuse of detainees in the war on terror. According to participants, [Rice] didn't repeat the line that George W. Bush had delivered to the American people in a speech two days before: that the scandal was the work of "a few American troops who dishonored our country." Nor did Rice try to make the case that by razing Iraq's Abu Ghraib Prison—a Bush proposal that took even his Defense secretary by surprise—administration officials would put the scandal behind them. "I recognize we have a very grave problem," Rice said. "There are major investigations going on right now to fully understand the scope and nature of it." But numerous critics—not just in the human-rights community, but in Congress and the U.S. military as well—insist that the current probes are still too limited to bring full accountability. Some critics say Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department is doing its best to stop potentially incriminating information from coming out, that it's deflecting Congress's inquiries and shielding higher-ups from investigation. Documents obtained by NEWSWEEK also suggest that Rumsfeld's aides are trying hard to contain the scandal, even within the Pentagon. Defense Under Secretary Douglas Feith, who is in charge of setting policy on prisoners and detainees in occupied Iraq, has banned any discussion of the still-classified report on Abu Ghraib written by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, which has circulated around the world. Shortly after the Taguba report leaked in early May, Feith subordinates sent an "urgent" e-mail around the Pentagon warning officials not to read the report, even though it was on Fox News. In the e-mail, a copy of which was obtained by NEWSWEEK, officials in Feith's office warn that the leak is being investigated for "criminal prosecution" and that no one should mention the Taguba report to anybody, even to family members. Feith has turned his office into a "ministry of fear," says one military lawyer. A spokesman for Feith, Maj. Paul Swiergosz, says the e-mail warning was intended to prevent employees from downloading a classified report onto unclassified computers. More worrisome, critics say, is that the Pentagon is investigating itself. Maj. Gen. George Fay, the No. 2 in Army Military Intelligence, is in charge of the probe into whether his own intel officers directed the MPs to abuse prisoners. But so far Fay has questioned no one above the rank of colonel, military and other sources say. Among those critical of Fay is Sgt. Samuel Provance, who was formerly in military intelligence at Abu Ghraib and has told reporters in recent weeks that the Army is engaged in a cover-up. "I had to volunteer more information than was being asked of me [by Fay]. It was like I was adding to his burden," Provance told NEWSWEEK last week. "There are so many soldiers directly involved who haven't been talked to." ...no officer above General Fay's rank is likely to have to worry about the conclusions of his investigation. Under military doctrine, Fay, as a two-star general, "can only hold a one-star accountable...

*******[Comment] - This Administration has shown a proclivity for obfuscation and deceit since Day 1. Why would anyone be surprised that they might first, set a policy contrary to the Geneva Conventions, especially when they are so damn gung-ho for war and showing resolution to those lemming-like Americans who think Bush only has their welfare at heart, and second, when the truth leaks out, as it always does, attempt to deflect, deny, and lie to save their collective skins. Little Bush has, from the beginning, been touted as an hands-on administrator (read MBA (grade C)) who is in complete control. So, why is it so hard to believe that if a policy in direct contravention of accepted norms is instituted that he would not know and have given approval. He has indicated over the past few years that the results justify the means and that doing whatever it takes to make the bottom line is justification enough. After all, it's for OUR good. And if by instituting an investigation by a 2-star General that cannot question those above him or those in other organizations, well, the majority of the lemming-like Americans will sleep well knowing that Little Bush and Rummy are honest and tried. Is it any wonder that Little Bush hasn't directed the Attorney General (if they can tear him away from violating State's Rights) or at a minimum the Pentagon's Inspector General's office to investigate? But then, someone might have to pay the piper... (and that can't happen before the election, can it) - - - But that's just this old Curmudgeon's opinion.********
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:23 AM

Dissing Independent Contractors
(DAVE LINDORFF, Counterpunch, 5/28/04)
The Bush cabal has begun besmirching the good name of us independent contractors, and I'm pissed. ...don't tell me that the government of the United States, which makes welfare recipients agree to random drug tests, surprise home visits, and various other invasive surrenders of their rights, that makes employees in many agencies submit to lie-detector tests, etc., didn't make these "independent contractor" licensed torturers sign legally binding contracts governing their behavior. There's nothing about independent contractors that says they cannot be expected, and legally required, to behave in a responsible, legal way, or in accordance with the guidelines set by the agency that contracts with them. Now maybe the government was smart enough not to sign any contracts with its freelance torturers, but that doesn't sound like the way a government bureaucracy works-which is by maxiumum possible use of paper. My guess is that there are some interesting contracts filed away in triplicate at the Pentagon and the CIA that would allow them to hang these guys if they wanted to, but we probably will never see that paperwork.

******[COMMENT] Having personally worked as an independent contractor for the DOD, I can vouch for the voluminous paperwork required for access to DOD systems and the legal liability incurred for contract violations - unless, as is inferred above, the hiring authority waives it. And then you have to ask "Why?" But, that's just this old Curmudgeon's opinion.*******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:18 AM

Richard Perle: U.S. war policy 'grave error'
(Sandro Contenta, Toronto Star, 5/27/04)
Richard Perle, until recently a powerful adviser to U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, described U.S. policy in post-war Iraq as a failure. . . . "I would be the first to acknowledge we allowed the liberation (of Iraq) to subside into an occupation. And I think that was a grave error, and in some ways a continuing error," said Perle, former chair of the influential Defence Policy Board, which advises the Pentagon. . . . Perle said the biggest mistake in post-war policy "was the failure to turn Iraq back to the Iraqis more or less immediately. . . . "We didn't have to find ourselves in the role of occupier. We could have made the transition that is going to be made at the end of June more or less immediately," . . . This public criticism of U.S. policy from one of the leading advocates of the war -- and a firm political ally of U.S. President George W. Bush -- indicates just how much Bush's political fortunes are being damaged by post-war chaos.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:24 PM

Citing a 'Shamed America,' Gore Calls for Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet and 3 Others to Resign

(By JAMES BARRON, New York Times, May 27, 2004)

video link at C-span---see Al Gore Talk on Iraq Policy

from NYTimes...Declaring that the Bush administration "shamed America" with its policy on Iraq, former Vice President Al Gore yesterday called for the resignations of six high-ranking officials, including the secretary of defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld; the director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet; and the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice.

In an hourlong speech to 900 people at New York University that was interrupted by applause more than a dozen times, Mr. Gore also accused President Bush of "utter incompetence" on Iraq, adding that the president had "made the world a far more dangerous place and dramatically increased the threat of terrorism against the United States."

Mr. Gore's appearance, which was sponsored by New York University College Democrats, a student organization, and MoveOn.org PAC, an offshoot of an online organization that has run advertisements criticizing the president and his administration, amounted to a broad-gauge attack on the man who defeated Mr. Gore in 2000.

"The president convinced a majority of the country that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on Sept. 11, when in truth he had nothing whatsoever to do with it," Mr. Gore said. "The president convinced the country with a mixture of documents that turned out to be forged and blatantly false assertions that Saddam was in league with Al Qaeda."

Mr. Gore said that the three cabinet-level officials and three of Mr. Rumsfeld's top civilian deputies - the deputy defense secretary, Paul D. Wolfowitz; Douglas J. Feith, the under secretary for policy; and Stephen A. Cambone, the under secretary for intelligence - should step aside because of "the catastrophe we are facing in Iraq."

"We desperately need a national security team with at least minimal competence," Mr. Gore said, "because the current team is making things worse with each passing day." He accused the officials he singled out of "endangering the lives of our soldiers and sharply increasing the danger faced by American citizens everywhere in the world, including here at home."

from transcript>>
transcript of talk by Gore

Listen to the way Israel's highest court dealt with a similar question when, in 1999, it was asked to balance due process rights against dire threats to the security of its people:

"This is the destiny of democracy, as not all means are acceptable to it, and not all practices employed by its enemies are open before it. Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand. Preserving the Rule of Law and recognition of an individual's liberty constitutes an important component in its understanding of security. At the end of the day they (add to) its strength."

The last and best description of America's meaning in the world is still the definitive formulation of Lincoln's annual message to Congress on December 1, 1862:

"The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise - with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history...the fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation...We shall nobly save, or meanly lose the last best hope of earth...

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posted by moshido praxis 1:42 PM

FISK: Israeli citizens may be involved in Abu Ghraib scandal
(Robert Fisk
, The Independent 26 May 2004)
Last August, I was invited to Abu Ghraib - by my favourite US General Janis Karpinski, no less - to see the million-dollar US refurbishment of this vile place. Squeaky clean cells and toothpaste tubes and fresh pairs of pants for the "terrorist" inmates. But now, suddenly, the whole kit and caboodle is no longer an American torture centre. It's still an Iraqi torture centre, and thus worthy of demolition. . . . The re-writing of Iraqi history is now going on at supersonic speed. Weapons of mass destruction? Forget it. Links between Saddam and al-Qa'ida? Forget it. Liberating the Iraqis from Saddam's Abu Ghraib life of torture? Forget it. Wedding party slaughtered? Forget it. Clear the decks for both "full (sic) sovereignty" and "chaotic events". This is, at any rate, according to Mr Bush. When I heard his hesitant pronunciation of Abu Ghraib as "Abu Grub" on Monday night, I could only profoundly agree. . . . But we're in danger again of missing the detail. Just as the unsupervised armed mercenaries being killed in Iraq are being described by the occupation authorities as "contractors" or, more mendaciously, "civilians" - so the responsibility for the porno interrogations at Abu Ghraib is being allowed to slide into the summer mists over the Tigris river. . . . And let's cast our eyes upon that little, all-important matter of responsibility. The actual interrogators accused of encouraging US troops to abuse Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail were working for at least one company with extensive military and commercial contacts with Israel. The head of an American company whose personnel are implicated in the Iraqi tortures, it now turns out, attended an "anti-terror" training camp in Israel and, earlier this year, was presented with an award by Shaul Mofaz, the right-wing Israeli defence minister. . . . According to Dr J P London's company, CACI International, the visit of Dr London - sponsored by an Israeli lobby group and including US congressmen and other defence contractors - was "to promote opportunities for strategic partnerships and joint ventures between US and Israeli defence and homeland security agencies". . . . The Pentagon and the occupation powers in Iraq insist that only US citizens have been allowed to question prisoners in Abu Ghraib - but this takes no account of Americans who may also hold double citizenship. The once secret torture report by US General Antonio Taguba refers to "third country nationals" involved in the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq. . . . General Taguba mentions Steven Staphanovic and John Israel as involved in the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Staphanovic, who worked for CACI - known to the US military as "Khaki" - was said by Taguba to have "allowed and/or instructed MPs (military police), who were not trained in interrogation techniques, to facilitate interrogations by 'setting conditions' ... he clearly knew his instructions equated to physical abuse". One of Staphanovic's co-workers, Joe Ryan - who was not named in the Taguba report - now says that he underwent an "Israeli interrogation course" before going to Iraq. . . . We know the Pentagon asked Israel for its "rules of engagement" in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Israeli officers have briefed their US opposite numbers and, according to the Associated Press, "in January and February of 2003, Israeli and American troops trained together in southern Israel's Negev desert ... Israel has also hosted senior law enforcement officials from the United States for a seminar on counter-terrorism". . . . Among the company's [CACI's] former directors is ex-CIA director James Woolsey, one of the architects of the US invasion of Iraq, a friend of Ahmed Chalabi and a prominent pro-Israeli lobbyist in Washington. Dr London says CACI "does not condone or tolerate or endorse in any fashion (sic) any illegal, inappropriate behaviour on the part of its employees in any circumstances at any time anywhere". . . . But it is clear the torture trail at Abu Ghraib has to run much further than a group of brutal US military cops, all of whom claim "intelligence officers" told them to "soften up" their prisoners for questioning. Were they Israeli? Or South African? Or British? Are we going to let the story go?
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posted by Lorenzo 9:58 PM

Turkish, Syrian Water Projects Squeezing Iraq Dry
(Thomas R. Stauffer, wrmea.com, May 2004)
Iraq, the historic Fertile Crescent, is being squeezed dry. More and more of the country's irrigated lands inevitably will be abandoned, because the flow of water to Iraq is destined to decline to little more than a trickle. Not only is the flow being squeezed off, moreover, but what water does reach Iraq is of ever decreasing quality--a true "double whammy." In the near future, the only water that will pass the border of Iraq will be the drainage from upstream--increasingly saline, contaminated with pesticides and loaded with fertilizer residues from farm runoff. . . . The process of diverting all useful water from the Euphrates upstream of Iraq already has begun, and is progressing rapidly. The diversion of the Tigris has just begun. Principally responsible is Turkey, whose "GAP" (Guney Anadolu Projesi) Project will capture within Turkey most of the Euphrates' water and probably all of that from the northern reaches of the Tigris. Syria will take whatever usable Euphrates water remains, leaving some five billion to eight billion cubic meters of water for Iraq--compared with an average of some 33 billion cubic meters per year since the days of Babylon. That residual water flow, however, will be unusable--neither potable nor fit for irrigation. . . . Controlling the spigot is GAP. The project is as grandiose for Turkey as it is ominous for Iraq: it embraces five world-scale dams and dozens of minor dams or barrages. Like the Tennessee Valley Authority launched by President Roosevelt in the 1930s, it was advertised as the key to regional development in Turkey's poorest and most neglected, heavily Kurdish southeastern vilayets. Hidden in the agenda, however, is Ankara's plan to settle the newly irrigated areas with ethnic Turks. This would offset the local Kurdish and Arab populations in that very sensitive border area--a policy not of ethnic cleansing, but of ethnic dilution, akin to the Han Chinese settlement programs in Tibet and Eastern Turkestan. . . . The GAP scheme is a sword of Damocles hanging over Iraq, but the day of reckoning has been deferred by at least 10 years, because of delays in the implementation of Turkey’s irrigation schemes and similar lags in completion of Syria's smaller diversions based upon the Tabqa dam. Had the original construction schedules been feasible--the original, and unrealistic, completion date originally had been circa 2002--Iraq already would have lost all usable water in the Euphrates. But the extractions upstream, even if partial, have resulted in a steady increase in the salinity of what water does still flow to Iraq. Baghdad thus far has been able to offset some of this effect by diverting sweet water from the middle reaches of the Tigris into the Euphrates via a canal. That option, however, now is all but exhausted. . . . What are Iraq's options? Short of war, there seem to be none. . . . The situation is dire. Iraq is destined to lose--short of war--about three-quarters of its total flow irrigation-quality water. In addition, it will need to dispose of large volumes of saline and contaminated drainage water in both rivers coming from the GAP operations in Turkey and, secondarily, from Syria's projects. . . . The water balance could become even worse: Iraq is under pressure from well-funded politico-environmentalist groups to reflood the southern marshes. Draining those swamps and recovering the lost water has been planned since the 1930s, and the central drains--most notably the "Third River"--were almost complete when the first Gulf war was launched. This positive step may be reversed. If Israeli and American forces prevail, even less water will be available for agriculture, and extensive areas in the south again will become waterlogged and saline, still further reducing agricultural output.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:49 PM

The Bush Junta is Coming Unraveled
(Richard Wolffe, Newsweek, May 25, 2004)
In years to come, historians will wonder why this Bush administration enjoyed such a strong reputation for its foreign policy for so long. . . . But no amount of rhetorical flourish can mask the disarray of the administration's policy in Iraq, and the president's continuing struggle to speak convincingly to the American and Iraqi people. . . . It's hard to remember how many times Bush has tried and failed to convince the world that the enemy in Iraq is part of the global terrorist plot. But it was clear within hours that he has failed to convince members of his own cabinet on this critical point. . . . As Powell well knows, there’s a wide spectrum of insurgents covered by his comments: Saddam’s loyalists, Iraqi nationalists and ultimately radical Islamists. Who is the Coalition fighting in Iraq? In spite of the president’s speech, U.S. commanders don’t know the full answer to that question. . . . Voters might not care to find out who the enemy is, as long as they’re shooting and bombing in the direction of Coalition troops. But they will care about the president's warning, buried towards the bottom of his speech, about what is to come: "There's likely to be more violence before the transfer of sovereignty, and after the transfer of sovereignty." That violence has already driven down support for the war and the president himself. According to the latest Washington Post poll, 58 per cent of Americans now disapprove of his handling of Iraq. Those figures are only likely to rise as the violence continues, not least because the bloodshed is directly linked to the political instability in Iraq. . . . If President Bush wanted to reassure voters he was on course to a free and happy Iraq, he may find himself facing more disappointment this fall. . . . Bush suggested at the Army War College that U.S. officials in Iraq would be no different from their counterparts anywhere else in the world. "Our embassy in Baghdad will have the same purpose as any other American embassy, to assure good relations with a sovereign nation," he explained. "America and other countries will continue to provide technical experts to help Iraq's ministries of government, but these ministries will report to Iraq's new prime minister." Normally such technical expertise doesn’t include thousands of troops in a combat zone and billions of dollars in reconstruction money. . . . That kind of gaping hole between the president’s words and the reality in Iraq poses huge political risks for Bush. . . . The Bush years weren’t supposed to be like this. This was billed as a team of heavy hitters and big thinkers, led by a president with an historic sense of mission. Compared to the supposedly feckless Clinton crowd, Bush’s foreign policy brains were re-shaping the world. There were new alliances with countries like Pakistan, new deals with the Great Powers of Russia and China. . . . Instead it looks like the Iraq era, shaped by what the president now acknowledges is an occupation. “Iraqis are proud people who resent foreign control of their affairs, just as we would,” he said on Monday. The challenge for Bush is to convince Iraqis and Americans that the U.S. is no longer resented in Iraq. It’s not clear his five-point plan can get anywhere close to that goal, any time soon.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:39 PM

Some in Pentagon wanted Chalabi to replace Saddam
(Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, May 25, 2004)
If some in the Pentagon had got their way it would all have been different. Instead of the chaos and looting, Ahmad Chalabi would have marched into Baghdad at the head of his own "Free Iraqi" force to take over from Saddam Hussein.
At one point it looked as if that might just happen. Mr Chalabi, an urbane, plausible and apparently fearless businessman, was spirited into Iraq by the US military early in April 2003. He installed himself in Nassiriya, holding court with local dignitaries and preparing for what some sarcastically referred to as his "coronation". . . . But Mr Chalabi had already made too many enemies. . . . the state department and CIA were suspicious of him - not least because of doubts about his organisation's accounting of the funds provided by US taxpayers. . . . Perceptions of Mr Chalabi in the US reflect the ongoing power struggle within the Bush administration between the neoconservatives in the defence department such as Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz - both great admirers of the INC leader - and more moderate voices in the state department and elsewhere. . . . Iraqis, well aware of his involvement in a Jordanian banking scandal, dubbed him "Ahmad the Thief". . . . Mr Chalabi cultivated the Israelis, too, reportedly offering them piped supplies of Iraqi oil once he was installed in Baghdad. He also developed contacts with Iran, using his credentials as a Shia Muslim, though not a particularly religious one. Some say he gave everyone the impression - the US, Israel and Iran - that he was working for them, when most likely he was working for no one but Ahmad Chalabi. . . . Apart from the contacts with Iran, Mr Bremer was particularly annoyed by Mr Chalabi's behaviour during the changeover from the old Iraqi currency (which bore Saddam's face) to the new banknotes. Mr Chalabi insisted on having the old currency incinerated rather than buried, as had originally been planned - only for the incineration contract to go to one of his associates. . . . Last week's raid on his villa by Iraqi police and US troops was also apparently connected to the currency changeover. Coalition officials suggested that senior members of the INC (though not Mr Chalabi himself) were involved in a scam earlier this year when millions of dollars went missing during the replacement process.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:23 PM

"...worst regime by far in the history of the republic."
(By Roger Morris, Salon.com, May 20, 2004)

"The diplomat who quit over Nixon's invasion of Cambodia asks Americans on the front lines of foreign service to resign from the "worst regime by far in the history of the republic."

"No generation of foreign affairs professionals, including my own in the torment of the Vietnam War, has faced such anguishing realities or such a momentous choice.

I need not dwell on the obvious about foreign policy under President Bush -- and on what you on the inside, whatever your politics, know to be even worse than imagined by outsiders. The senior among you have seen the disgrace firsthand. In the corridor murmur by which a bureaucracy tells its secrets to itself, all of you have heard the stories.

You know how recklessly a cabal of political appointees and ideological zealots, led by the exceptionally powerful and furtively doctrinaire Vice President Cheney, corrupted intelligence and usurped policy on Iraq and other issues. You know the bitter departmental disputes in which a deeply politicized, parochial Pentagon overpowered or simply ignored any opposition in the State Department or the CIA, rushing us to unilateral aggressive war in Iraq and chaotic, fateful occupations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

You know well what a willfully uninformed and heedless president you serve in Bush, how chilling are the tales of his ignorance and sectarian fervor, lethal opposites of the erudition and open-mindedness you embody in the arts of diplomacy and intelligence. Some of you know how woefully his national security advisor fails her vital duty to manage some order among Washington's thrashing interests, and so to protect her president, and the country, from calamity. You know specifics. Many of you are aware, for instance, that the torture at Abu Ghraib was an issue up and down not only the Pentagon but also State, the CIA and the National Security Council staff for nearly a year before the scandalous photos finally leaked.

As you have seen in years of service, every presidency has its arrogance, infighting and blunders in foreign relations. As most of you recognize, too, the Bush administration is like no other. You serve the worst foreign policy regime by far in the history of the republic. The havoc you feel inside government has inflicted unprecedented damage on national interests and security. As never before since the United States stepped onto the world stage, we have flouted treaties and alliances, alienated friends, multiplied enemies, lost respect and credibility on every continent. You see this every day. And again, whatever your politics, those of you who have served other presidents know this is an unparalleled bipartisan disaster. In its militant hubris and folly, the Bush administration has undone the statesmanship of every government before it, and broken faith with every presidency, Democratic and Republican (even that of Bush I), over the past half century..."

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posted by moshido praxis 4:28 PM

How Israel tricked Bush into attacking Iraq
(John Dizard, Salon.com, May 4, 2004)
[NOTE the date of this article. It was published just two weeks before the US-led raid on Chalabi's home and headquarters.]

When the definitive history of the current Iraq war is finally written, wealthy exile Ahmed Chalabi will be among those judged most responsible for the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein. More than a decade ago Chalabi teamed up with American neoconservatives to sell the war as the cornerstone of an energetic new policy to bring democracy to the Middle East -- and after 9/11, as the crucial antidote to global terrorism. It was Chalabi who provided crucial intelligence on Iraqi weaponry to justify the invasion, almost all of which turned out to be false, and laid out a rosy scenario about the country's readiness for an American strike against Saddam that led the nation's leaders to predict -- and apparently even believe -- that they would be greeted as liberators. Chalabi also promised his neoconservative patrons that as leader of Iraq he would make peace with Israel, an issue of vital importance to them. . . . United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi delivered a devastating blow to Chalabi's future leadership hopes, recommending that the Iraqi Governing Council, of which he is finance chair, be accorded no governance role after the June 30 transition to sovereignty. Meanwhile, administration neoconservatives, once united behind Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress he founded, are now split, as new doubts about his long-stated commitment to a secular Iraqi democracy with ties to Israel, and fears that he is cozying up to his Shiite co-religionists in Iran, begin to emerge. . . . "Ahmed Chalabi is a treacherous, spineless turncoat," says L. Marc Zell, a former law partner of Douglas Feith, now the undersecretary of defense for policy, and a former friend and supporter of Chalabi and his aspirations to lead Iraq. . . . Zell, a Jerusalem attorney, continues to be a partner in the firm that Feith left in 2001 to take the Pentagon job. He also helped Ahmed Chalabi's nephew Salem set up a new law office in Baghdad in late 2003. Chalabi met with Zell and other neoconservatives many times from the mid-1990s on in London, Turkey, and the U.S. Zell outlines what Chalabi was promising the neocons before the Iraq war: "He said he would end Iraq's boycott of trade with Israel, and would allow Israeli companies to do business there. He said [the new Iraqi government] would agree to rebuild the pipeline from Mosul [in the northern Iraqi oil fields] to Haifa [the Israeli port, and the location of a major refinery]." But Chalabi, Zell says, has delivered on none of them. The bitter ex-Chalabi backer believes his former friend's moves were a deliberate bait and switch designed to win support for his designs to return to Iraq and run the country. . . . Why did the neocons put such enormous faith in Ahmed Chalabi, an exile with a shady past and no standing with Iraqis? One word: Israel. They saw the invasion of Iraq as the precondition for a reorganization of the Middle East that would solve Israel's strategic problems, without the need for an accommodation with either the Palestinians or the existing Arab states. Chalabi assured them that the Iraqi democracy he would build would develop diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, and eschew Arab nationalism.

[COMMENT: So there you have it. In order to come to power in Iraq, Chalabi lied to the neocons about helping Israel. These are the very same neocons that are mentioned in the recent story "Israelis Infiltrate Bush Administration". And it appears that Bush and Cheney, for their own reasons, relied on these men (who now appear to be Israeli agents) for the backing they needed to invade Iraq. Cheney, as you already know, is still on the payroll of Halliburton, receiving over $170,000 last year while Halliburton is given free rein to loot our treasury. So what is Bush getting, we ask? He gets to play "War President" and send our young men and women out to kill tens of thousands of non-Christians. Perhaps Bush and the other "true believers" are right, these must surely be the end times.]
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posted by Lorenzo 3:24 PM

Chalabi keeps network, may thwart U.S. effort to transfer sovereignty
(San Francisco Chronicle, May 21, 2004)
Chalabi's days in power may not be over. During the past year, he has amassed a large web of influence and control that stretches from the oil industry to the banking system to the purges of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. . . . Analysts say that unless the Bush administration moves to dismantle his empire, Chalabi will continue controlling much of Iraq's politics from behind the scenes, and he could seriously disrupt American plans for turning over nominal sovereignty to a new Iraqi government on June 30. . . . As head of the Iraqi Governing Council's economic and finance committee, Chalabi has been able to install his relatives or friends as the minister of oil, the minister of finance, the central bank governor, the trade minister, the head of the trade bank and the managing director of Iraq's largest commercial bank. These connections reportedly have allowed firms controlled by his allies to make millions in government contracts. . . . After the fall of Hussein's regime, Chalabi and his U.S.-trained militia swept into Iraq aboard American military planes. He was quickly given status as Washington's favorite, and he was widely expected to become Iraq's first post-Hussein president. . . . He was given control of the entire archive of the Hussein regime's secret documents, as well as the so-called de-Baathification process. The powers of the De-Baathification Commission, which Chalabi chairs, are so wide-ranging that it is often called a government within the government. . . . The commission singled out tens of thousands of former Baath Party members to be fired from their government jobs and has allowed Chalabi to replace them with his followers. . . . His nephew Salem Chalabi is in charge of the war-crimes tribunal that is planning to try Hussein and other top former regime officials. His personal militia, paid for almost entirely with U.S. funds, has become the best- financed and best-armed Iraqi force in Baghdad. . . . But Chalabi's downfall may have been in opposing efforts by the United Nations to broker a face-saving deal to transfer nominal sovereignty to a new Iraqi government by June 30. . . . Cole said the Bush administration must act quickly to remove Chalabi from the Governing Council and dismantle the rest of his network. "Chalabi is a powerful chameleon, and his power won't go away" if the U.S. actions against him end with Thursday's raid.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:44 AM

The Truth About Ahmed Chalabi
(Andrew Cockburn, Counterpunch, May 20, 2004)
Why the US Turned Against Their Former Golden Boy -- He was Preparing a Coup! What He Did as a Catspaw for Tehran: How He Nearly Bankrupted Jordan; the Billions He Stands to Make Out of the New Iraq

In dawn raids today, American troops surrounded Ahmed Chalabi's headquarters and home in Baghdad, put a gun to his head, arrested two of his aides, and seized documents. Only five months ago, Chalabi was a guest of honor sitting right behind Laura Bush at the State of the Union. . . . Lashing out against his exclusion from power, he has in effect been laying the groundwork for a coup, assembling a Shia political coalition with the express aim of destabilising the "Brahimi" government even before it takes office. "He has been mobilising forces to make sure the UN initiative fails," one well connected Iraqi political observer, who knows Chalabi well, told me today. "He has been tellling these people that Brahimi is part of a Sunni conspiracy against the Shia." . . . This scheme is by no means wholly outlandish. Chalabi has recruited significant Shia support, including Ayatollah Mohammed Bahr al Uloom, a leading member of the Governing Council and two other lesser known Council members. Significantly, his support also includes a faction of the Dawa Party that has been excluded from the political process by the occupation authority and which also supports rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Other recently recruited allies include Iraqi Hezbollah. All are joined in a Chalabi dominated Supreme Shia Council, similar to a sectarian Lebanese model. "Sooner rather than later," the Iraqi observer, a close student of Shia politics, points out, "Moqtada al Sadr is going to be killed. That willl leave tens, hundreds of thousands of his supporters looking for a new leader. If Ahmed plays the role of victim, he can take on that role. His dream has always been to be a sectarian Shia leader." . . . The occupation command in Baghdad well understands that Chalabi has the resources and skills to wreck the all-important arrangements for the official handover of power. "People realise that Ahmed is a gambler, prepared to bring it all down," I was told today, "and this raid may not be at all to his detriment." . . . "You can piss on Chalabi" President Bush remarked to Jordan's King Abdullah some months ago. . . . Iraqis suspect that Chalabi will be a looming presence in Iraq for years to come. Since he returned to Baghdad just over a year ago he has succeeded in building a financial powerbase both in business and key sectors of the fledgling Iraqi administration. His prescient seizure of Saddam's intelligence files a year ago has equipped him with a useful tool to intimidate opponents. . . . Chalabi's connections to the most hardline elements in Iran, particularly the intelligence officers of the Revolutionary Guards, are longstanding and still flourish today. . . . Chalabi's fusion of business and politics is very much in the family tradition. Until the 1958 military coup swept away the monarchy that had ruled Iraq under British direction since the 1920s, the Chalabis were probably the richest family in the country. . . . This is not the first time that Chalabi's sources of finance have attracted attention in Washington. In 2002, US State Department auditors probing what had happened to a US subsidy of Chalabi's INC queried the lack of accounting for the large sums spent on an "Intelligence Collection Program." Chalabi refused a more precise accounting on the grounds that his agents' lives were at stake. But according to one former Chalabi associate, at least some of the intelligence money had actually been spent in Iran, which would have been a good reason for keeping the accounts a little fuzzy. . . . Some officials in Washington are no less perturbed by his efforts to get what one calls "his grubby little hands" on pools of cash secretly stashed abroad by Saddam Hussein. "That money belongs to the Iraqi people," says the official, "not Ahmed Chalabi. . . . Judging by his frequent visits to Iran, and the warm manner in which his underlings discuss the ayatollahs' regime, Chalabi links with Tehran are still strong. No less important are his ties with the neocon gang in Washington, who still maintain that the big mistake of the occupation was not putting Ahmed in charge right away. Simultaneously, his championship of Shi'ite groups in Iraq becomes ever more assertive -- his newspaper has recently been campaigning against Adnan Pachachi for allegedly excluding Moqtada al-Sadr from the Governing Council! . . . One well connected Iraqi told me recently, "he will play the Shia extremist card for all it is worth. He's quite prepared to break Iraq apart if it serves his purpose. He's really dangerous now."
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posted by Lorenzo 3:32 PM

U.S. Aircraft Kills 40 at Iraqi Wedding
(Scheherezade Faramarzi, Associated Press, May 19, 2004)
A U.S. aircraft fired on a house in the desert near the Syrian border Wednesday, and Iraqi officials said more than 40 people were killed, including children. The U.S. military said the target was a suspected safehouse for foreign fighters from Syria, but Iraqis said a helicopter had attacked a wedding party. . . . Associated Press Television News footage showed a truck containing bloodied bodies, many wrapped in blankets, piled one atop the other. Several were children, one of whom was decapitated. The body of a girl who appeared to be less than 5 years of age lay in a white sheet, her legs riddled with wounds and her dress soaked in blood. . . . The attack happened about 2:45 a.m. in a desert region near the border with Syria and Jordan, according to Lt. Col. Ziyad al-Jbouri, deputy police chief of Ramadi, the provincial capital about 250 miles to the east. He said 42 to 45 people died, including 15 children and 10 women. Dr. Salah al-Ani, who works at a hospital in Ramadi, put the death toll at 45. . . . APTN video footage showed mourners with shovels digging graves over a wide dusty area in Ramadi, the provincial capital where bodies of the dead had been taken to obtain death certificates. A group of men crouched and wept around one coffin. . . . Iraqis interviewed on the videotape said revelers had fired volleys of gunfire into the air in a traditional wedding celebration before the attack took place. American troops have sometimes mistaken celebratory gunfire for hostile fire. . . . Al-Ani, the doctor, said American troops came to investigate the gunfire and left. However, al-Ani said, helicopters later arrived and attacked the area. Two houses were destroyed, he said. . . . "This was a wedding and the (U.S.) planes came and attacked the people at a house. Is this the democracy and freedom that (President) Bush has brought us?" said a man on the videotape, Dahham Harraj. "There was no reason." . . . In July 2002, Afghan officials said 48 civilians at a wedding party were killed and 117 wounded by a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:44 PM

U.S. Faces Growing Fears of Failure in Iraq
(Washington Post, May 19, 2004)
The Bush administration is struggling to counter growing sentiment -- among U.S. lawmakers, Iraqis and even some of its own officials -- that the occupation of Iraq is verging on failure, forcing a top Pentagon official yesterday to concede serious mistakes over the past year. . . . Under tough questioning from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, a leading administration advocate of the Iraq intervention [and suspected Israeli agent]
, acknowledged miscalculating that Iraqis would tolerate a long occupation. A central flaw in planning, he added, was the premise that U.S. forces would be creating a peace, not fighting a war, after the ouster of Saddam Hussein. . . . "We had a plan that anticipated, I think, that we could proceed with an occupation regime for much longer than it turned out the Iraqis would have patience for." . . . There are a lot of people across this country who are very, very worried about how this is progressing, what the endgame is, whether or not we are going to achieve even a part of our goals here -- and the growing fear that we may in fact have in some ways a worse situation if we're not careful at the end of all this," warned Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), echoing comments of several committee members. . . . "A detailed plan is necessary to prove to our allies and to Iraqis that we have a strategy and that we are committed to making it work. If we cannot provide this clarity, we risk the loss of support of the American people, loss of potential contributions from our allies and the disillusionment of Iraqis," said Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), chairman of the panel. . . . The U.S.-led coalition has dramatically lowered its goals, they say, from an early pledge to create a stable, democratic country that would be a model for transforming the greater Middle East, to scrambling to cobble together an interim government by June 30 that will have only limited political authority and still depend on more than 130,000 foreign troops. . . . With mounting instability, from the assassination of a top Iraqi politician to kidnappings for ransom of prominent professionals and their children, Iraqis close to the negotiations by U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi are now warning that credible politicians or technocrats may not be willing to accept jobs in the interim Iraqi government. . . . "Anyone in his right mind would say, 'What you're giving me is an impossible task and a no-win situation,' " said an Iraqi adviser to a member of the Iraqi Governing Council.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:55 AM

The Great Abu Ghraib Cover-Up
(Brian Ross and Alexandra Salomon, ABC, May 18, 2004)
Dozens of soldiers -- other than the seven military police reservists who have been charged -- were involved in the abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, and there is an effort under way in the Army to hide it, a key witness in the investigation told ABCNEWS. . . . "There's definitely a cover-up," the witness, Sgt. Samuel Provance, said. "People are either telling themselves or being told to be quiet." . . . Provance, 30, was part of the 302nd Military Intelligence Battalion stationed at Abu Ghraib last September. He spoke to ABCNEWS despite orders from his commanders not to. . . . "What I was surprised at was the silence," said Provance. "The collective silence by so many people that had to be involved, that had to have seen something or heard something." . . . Provance, now stationed in Germany, ran the top secret computer network used by military intelligence at the prison. . . . He said that while he did not see the actual abuse take place, the interrogators with whom he worked freely admitted they directed the MPs' rough treatment of prisoners. . . . "Anything [the MPs] were to do legally or otherwise, they were to take those commands from the interrogators," he said. . . . According to Provance, some of the physical abuse that took place at Abu Ghraib included U.S. soldiers "striking [prisoners] on the neck area somewhere and the person being knocked out. Then [the soldier] would go to the next detainee, who would be very fearful and voicing their fear, and the MP would calm him down and say, 'We're not going to do that. It's OK. Everything's fine,' and then do the exact same thing to him." . . . Maj. Gen. George Fay, the Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, was assigned by the Pentagon to investigate the role of military intelligence in the abuse at the Iraq prison. . . . Fay started his probe on April 23, but Provance said when Fay interviewed him, the general seemed interested only in the military police, not the interrogators, and seemed to discourage him from testifying. . . . Provance said Fay threatened to take action against him for failing to report what he saw sooner, and the sergeant fears he will be ostracized for speaking out. . . . "I feel like I'm being punished for being honest," Provance told ABCNEWS. "You know, it was almost as if I actually felt if all my statements were shredded and I said, like most everybody else, 'I didn't hear anything, I didn't see anything. I don't know what you're talking about,' then my life would be just fine right now." . . . Provance believes many involved may not be as forthcoming with information. . . . "I would say many people are probably hiding and wishing to God that this storm passes without them having to be investigated [or] personally looked at."
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posted by Lorenzo 3:37 PM

Rumsfeld Ordered Abu Ghraib Torture
(Sy Hersh, The New Yorker, 15 May 2004)
How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib. . . . The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld's decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of élite combat units, and hurt America's prospects in the war on terror. . . . the Pentagon's operation, known inside the intelligence community by several code words, including Copper Green, encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq. A senior C.I.A. official, in confirming the details of this account last week, said that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld's long-standing desire to wrest control of America's clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A. . . . Rumsfeld reacted in his usual direct fashion: he authorized the establishment of a highly secret program that was given blanket advance approval to kill or capture and, if possible, interrogate "high value" targets in the Bush Administration's war on terror. A special-access program, or sap-subject to the Defense Department's most stringent level of security-was set up, with an office in a secure area of the Pentagon. . . . "Rumsfeld's goal was to get a capability in place to take on a high-value target-a standup group to hit quickly," a former high-level intelligence official told me. "He got all the agencies together-the C.I.A. and the N.S.A.-to get pre-approval in place. Just say the code word and go." The operation had across-the-board approval from Rumsfeld and from Condoleezza Rice, the national-security adviser. President Bush was informed of the existence of the program, the former intelligence official said. . . . In theory, the operation enabled the Bush Administration to respond immediately to time-sensitive intelligence: commandos crossed borders without visas and could interrogate terrorism suspects deemed too important for transfer to the military's facilities at Guantánamo, Cuba. They carried out instant interrogations-using force if necessary-at secret C.I.A. detention centers scattered around the world. . . . Fewer than two hundred operatives and officials, including Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were "completely read into the program," the former intelligence official said. The goal was to keep the operation protected. "We're not going to read more people than necessary into our heart of darkness," he said. "The rules are 'Grab whom you must. Do what you want." . . . In the first months after the fall of Baghdad, Rumsfeld and his aides still had a limited view of the insurgency, seeing it as little more than the work of Baathist "dead-enders," criminal gangs, and foreign terrorists who were Al Qaeda followers. . . . Inside the Pentagon, there was a growing realization that the war was going badly. The increasingly beleaguered and baffled Army leadership was telling reporters that the insurgents consisted of five thousand Baathists loyal to Saddam Hussein. . . . By the fall, a military analyst told me, the extent of the Pentagon's political and military misjudgments was clear. Donald Rumsfeld's "dead-enders" now included not only Baathists but many marginal figures as well-thugs and criminals who were among the tens of thousands of prisoners freed the previous fall by Saddam as part of a prewar general amnesty. Their desperation was not driving the insurgency; it simply made them easy recruits for those who were. . . . according to the military report, the American and Coalition forces knew little about the insurgency: "Human intelligence is poor or lacking . . . due to the dearth of competence and expertise. . . . The intelligence effort is not coördinated since either too many groups are involved in gathering intelligence or the final product does not get to the troops in the field in a timely manner." The success of the war was at risk; something had to be done to change the dynamic. . . . The solution, endorsed by Rumsfeld and carried out by Stephen Cambone, was to get tough with those Iraqis in the Army prison system who were suspected of being insurgents. A key player was Major General Geoffrey Miller, the commander of the detention and interrogation center at Guantánamo, who had been summoned to Baghdad in late August to review prison interrogation procedures. The internal Army report on the abuse charges, written by Major General Antonio Taguba in February, revealed that Miller urged that the commanders in Baghdad change policy and place military intelligence in charge of the prison. The report quoted Miller as recommending that "detention operations must act as an enabler for interrogation." . . . Miller's concept, as it emerged in recent Senate hearings, was to "Gitmoize" the prison system in Iraq-to make it more focussed on interrogation. He also briefed military commanders in Iraq on the interrogation methods used in Cuba-methods that could, with special approval, include sleep deprivation, exposure to extremes of cold and heat, and placing prisoners in "stress positions" for agonizing lengths of time. (The Bush Administration had unilaterally declared Al Qaeda and other captured members of international terrorist networks to be illegal combatants, and not eligible for the protection of the Geneva Conventions.) . . . Rumsfeld and Cambone went a step further, however: they expanded the scope of the sap, bringing its unconventional methods to Abu Ghraib. The commandos were to operate in Iraq as they had in Afghanistan. The male prisoners could be treated roughly, and exposed to sexual humiliation. . . . Cambone then made another crucial decision, the former intelligence official told me: not only would he bring the sap's rules into the prisons; he would bring some of the Army military-intelligence officers working inside the Iraqi prisons under the sap'sauspices. "So here are fundamentally good soldiers-military-intelligence guys-being told that no rules apply," the former official, who has extensive knowledge of the special-access programs, added. "And, as far as they're concerned, this is a covert operation, and it's to be kept within Defense Department channels." . . . The military-police prison guards, the former official said, included "recycled hillbillies from Cumberland, Maryland." He was referring to members of the 372nd Military Police Company. Seven members of the company are now facing charges for their role in the abuse at Abu Ghraib. "How are these guys from Cumberland going to know anything? The Army Reserve doesn't know what it's doing." . . . By fall, according to the former intelligence official, the senior leadership of the C.I.A. had had enough. "They said, 'No way. We signed up for the core program in Afghanistan-pre-approved for operations against high-value terrorist targets-and now you want to use it for cabdrivers, brothers-in-law, and people pulled off the streets'"-the sort of prisoners who populate the Iraqi jails. "The C.I.A.'s legal people objected," and the agency ended its sap involvement in Abu Ghraib, the former official said. . . . The C.I.A.'s complaints were echoed throughout the intelligence community. There was fear that the situation at Abu Ghraib would lead to the exposure of the secret sap, and thereby bring an end to what had been, before Iraq, a valuable cover operation. . . . The former senior intelligence official blamed hubris for the Abu Ghraib disaster. "There's nothing more exhilarating for a pissant Pentagon civilian than dealing with an important national security issue without dealing with military planners, who are always worried about risk," he told me. . . . "The White House subcontracted this to the Pentagon, and the Pentagon subcontracted it to Cambone," he said. "This is Cambone's deal, but Rumsfeld and Myers approved the program." When it came to the interrogation operation at Abu Ghraib, he said, Rumsfeld left the details to Cambone. Rumsfeld may not be personally culpable, the consultant added, "but he's responsible for the checks and balances. The issue is that, since 9/11, we've changed the rules on how we deal with terrorism, and created conditions where the ends justify the means." . . . In 2003, Rumsfeld's apparent disregard for the requirements of the Geneva Conventions while carrying out the war on terror had led a group of senior military legal officers from the Judge Advocate General's (jag) Corps to pay two surprise visits within five months to Scott Horton, who was then chairman of the New York City Bar Association's Committee on International Human Rights. "They wanted us to challenge the Bush Administration about its standards for detentions and interrogation," Horton told me. "They were urging us to get involved and speak in a very loud voice. It came pretty much out of the blue. The message was that conditions are ripe for abuse, and it's going to occur." The military officials were most alarmed about the growing use of civilian contractors in the interrogation process, Horton recalled. "They said there was an atmosphere of legal ambiguity being created as a result of a policy decision at the highest levels in the Pentagon. The jag officers were being cut out of the policy formulation process." They told him that, with the war on terror, a fifty-year history of exemplary application of the Geneva Conventions had come to an end. . . . One puzzling aspect of Rumsfeld's account of his initial reaction to news of the Abu Ghraib investigation was his lack of alarm and lack of curiosity. One factor may have been recent history: there had been many previous complaints of prisoner abuse from organization like Human Rights Watch and the International Red Cross, and the Pentagon had weathered them with ease. . . . "In an odd way," Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said, "the sexual abuses at Abu Ghraib have become a diversion for the prisoner abuse and the violation of the Geneva Conventions that is authorized." Since September 11th, Roth added, the military has systematically used third-degree techniques around the world on detainees. "Some jags hate this and are horrified that the tolerance of mistreatment will come back and haunt us in the next war," Roth told me. "We're giving the world a ready-made excuse to ignore the Geneva Conventions. Rumsfeld has lowered the bar."
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posted by Lorenzo 5:16 PM

They went in for the oil and got stuck with an expensive mess

The oil infrastructure in place in Iraq is the same infrastructure built by the oil majors in the late 1960's and early 1970's before they were kicked out by Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi oil industry nationalized, It has never been updated. And the US government was nieve to believe that oil production could be ramped up beyond its pre-war levels. The infrastructure is not capable of increasing production.
-- Lee Raymond, CEO of Exxon Mobile

It will be years and billions of dollars will need to be invested before production can be increased significantly. The US government was also nieve to believe that revenues from Iraqi oil production would be sufficient to rebuild Iraq and its oil infrastructure.
-- Perry Arnett
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posted by Lorenzo 4:30 PM

Rumsfeld's Dangerous Wishful Thinking

Donald Rumsfeld claims that the resistance is just a few 'thugs, gangs and terrorists'. This is dangerous wishful thinking. The war against the occupation is now being fought out in the open, by regular people defending their homes and neighbourhoods -- an Iraqi intifada.
-- Naomi Klein
, "An Iraqi intifada", The Guardian, April 12, 2004.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:18 AM

Cheney's Halliburton Is Looting Millions in Iraq

One U.S. journalist found that many reconstruction projects that had allegedly been 'rebuilt' had in reality barely been touched. One 'repaired' school was overflowing with raw sewage. When I visited Ramadi and Fallujah in January, people on both towns were angry about chronic water and electricity shortages. Power plants, telephone exchanges and sewage systems all remain looted and bombed out. According to the NGO CorpWatch, only 10 percent of Halliburton's initial $2.2 billion in contracts has been spent on meeting community needs.
-- Christian Parenti
, "Autopsy of a Failed Occupation", AlterNet.org, April 14, 2004.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:11 AM

American Overreaction and Brutality
Iraqi history is already being written. In revenge for the brutal killing of four American mercenaries -- for that is what they were -- US Marines carried out a massacre of hundreds of women and children and guerillas in the Sunni Muslim city of Fallujah. The US military says that the vast majority of the dead were militants. Untrue, say the doctors. But the hundreds of dead, many of whom were indeed civilians, were a shameful reflection on the rabble of American soldiery who conducted these undisciplined attacks on Fallujah.
-- Robert Fisk
, "By endorsing Ariel Sharon's plan George Bush has legitimised terrorism", The Independent, April 16, 2004.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:52 AM

In the Absence of Truth from the White House, Conspiracy Theories Emerge About the Nick Berg Murder
(BuzzFlash Reader Contribution, May 14, 2004)
[COMMENT: The link above will take you to an interesting analysis of the various conspiracy theories surrounding the Berg murder. The following is from the conclusion of this article. ... Did you know that Nick Berg worked on a communications tower at Abu Ghraib prison?]

Question is: If Nick Berg had ties to Al Quaida, why would they kill him? And why did the Bush Administration put out the story that he was killed because he was Jewish? And if he was Jewish why would Al Quaida have anything to do with him, or he with them? . . . The whole thing sounds so phony it could come out of a bad movie, only the guy died a horrible death, and is being smeared. The CIA doesn't try this hard for nothing.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:11 PM

“How The Hell Did These People Get In Our Army?”(Michael Gaddy, The Price of Liberty, 5/14/2004)
Senator Campbell may be sincere when he wonders how some folks who torture prisoners in Iraq got into the Army, but it is not a mystery to many of us. Perhaps if he were aware of this TRUE story that happened to a senior training NCO in Arizona, he might better be able to answer his own question. This NCO had a higher than acceptable “washout” rate of his trainees. An officer admonished him that this rate was unacceptable, as too many soldiers were being lost-especially after all the money and time that was being spent on recruiting. No matter how he tried to explain this to the officer, he could not get across the point that many of the trainees were just not good enough to do the job that would be required of them. Finally, in desperation, he asked the officer if he would interview one of his remaining “problem” soldiers himself. The officer agreed. The NCO brought in a young soldier and asked him, in front of the officer, what he wanted to be when he left the Army. The soldier said he wanted to work for NASA. The officer was impressed until the NCO asked him to tell the officer what he wanted to do at NASA. The young man said that he wanted to "do the countdown” and proceeded to count backwards from the number 10 to show his expertise. Now, can anyone wonder why we have soldiers who are stupid enough to engage in acts of torture and wanton sex acts with prisoners and photograph themselves doing it?

******An old adage comes to mind: "What goes 'round, comes 'round ******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 3:50 PM

General Who Made Anti-Islam Remark Tied to POW Case
(Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters, May 11, 2004)
The U.S. Army general under investigation for anti-Islamic remarks has been linked by U.S. officials to the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, which experts warned could touch off new outrage overseas. . . . A Senate hearing into the abuse of Iraqi prisoners was told on Tuesday that Lt. Gen. William Boykin, an evangelical Christian under review for saying his God was superior to that of the Muslims, briefed a top Pentagon civilian official last summer on recommendations on ways military interrogators could gain more intelligence from Iraqi prisoners. . . . Critics have suggested those recommendations amounted to a senior-level go-ahead for the sexual and physical abuse of prisoners, possibly to "soften up" detainees before interrogation -- a charge the Pentagon denies. . . . Congressional aides and Arab-American and Muslim groups said any involvement by Boykin could spark new concern among Arabs and Muslims overseas the U.S. war on terrorism is in fact a war on Islam. . . . "This will be taken as proof that what happened at Abu Ghraib (prison) is evidence of a broader culture of dehumanizing Arabs and Muslims, based on the American understanding of the innate superiority of Christendom," said Chris Toensing, editor of Middle East Report, a U.S.-based quarterly magazine. . . . One Senate aide, who asked not to be identified, said any involvement by Boykin could be explosive. "Even if he knew about the abuse, that would be a big deal," he said. . . . Boykin touched off a firestorm last October after giving speeches while in uniform in which he referred to the war on terrorism as a battle with "Satan" and said America had been targeted "because we're a Christian nation." . . . "I'm not saying Boykin is directly responsible. ... But there is a collective failure here," Ibish said. "There is a tolerance in our society, in our government, in our media for hateful rhetoric when directed against Arabs and Muslims. . . . "It definitely contributes to a climate in which these young MPs apparently felt it was ... OK to abuse Muslim and Arab men like this." . . . "It creates a climate in which ... the perpetrators believe they're carrying out the policies of those above them, whether those policies are explicit or not," Hooper said.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:59 PM

Rise in birth deformities blamed on Allies' deadly weaponry
(Nigel Morris, The Independent, 13 May 2004)
The number of babies born deformed and children suffering leukaemia have soared because of the "deadly legacy" of depleted uranium shells used by British and American forces in Iraq, human rights campaigners claimed yesterday. Releasing details of health problems and human rights violations suffered by Iraqi children in the past year, they claim the country's youngsters faced a worse existence today than they did under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. Depleted uranium was widely used by Allied forces to penetrate Iraqi tank armour in the Gulf Wars of 1991 and again last year. Opponents claim the dust it releases upon impact is rapidly absorbed into the body, causing an upsurge of serious health problems inherited by Iraqi children during the past 13 years from their parents. Caroline Lucas, a Green Party Euro-MP who recently visited Basra, said doctors there had told her that the number of children born with severe deformities, such as shortened limbs or eye defects, had increased sevenfold since 1991. In addition they were treating several new cases of leukaemia every week - before 1991 the condition was very rare. "Women in Basra are afraid to become pregnant because there are so many deformed babies," she said. "We are leaving a deadly legacy for generations to come." The amount of depleted uranium used by coalition forces in the two Gulf Wars is not known, but some estimates suggest it was 300 tons in 1991 and five times as much last year. "Every child in Iraq had a degree of psychological trauma. "I have been to Iraq under Saddam and sanctions - most people know how bad things were - but what has happened this year has plunged Iraq into a plight which is actually far, far worse," she said. "I am not an apologist for Saddam but I have spoken to people saying they suffered terribly and they are in tears saying 'I wish he was back'. "If it is worse than sanctions and Saddam then we are really talking about a humanitarian catastrophe."
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 3:21 PM

World War I, Report on Mesopotamia by T.E. Lawrence
[COMMENT: This document was written in 1920, but it sure sounds as if it was written today.]
(Ex.-Lieut.-Col. T.E. Lawrence, The Sunday Times, 22 August 1920)
The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are to-day not far from a disaster. . . . Our government is worse than the old Turkish system. They kept fourteen thousand local conscripts embodied, and killed a yearly average of two hundred Arabs in maintaining peace. We keep ninety thousand men, with aeroplanes, armoured cars, gunboats, and armoured trains. We have killed about ten thousand Arabs in this rising this summer. . . . We have not reached the limit of our military commitments. Four weeks ago the staff in Mesopotamia drew up a memorandum asking for four more divisions. I believe it was forwarded to the War Office, which has now sent three brigades from India. If the North-West Frontier cannot be further denuded, where is the balance to come from? Meanwhile, our unfortunate troops, Indian and British, under hard conditions of climate and supply, are policing an immense area, paying dearly every day in lives for the wilfully wrong policy of the civil administration in Baghdad. . . . We say we are in Mesopotamia to develop it for the benefit of the world. all experts say that the labour supply is the ruling factor in its development. How far will the killing of ten thousand villagers and townspeople this summer hinder the production of wheat, cotton, and oil? How long will we permit millions of pounds, thousands of Imperial troops, and tens of thousands of Arabs to be sacrificed on behalf of colonial administration which can benefit nobody but its administrators?
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posted by Lorenzo 3:09 PM

Dancing Alone
(THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, NYT, May 13, 2004)
It is time to ask this question: Do we have any chance of succeeding at regime change in Iraq without regime change here at home? "Hey, Friedman, why are you bringing politics into this all of a sudden? You're the guy who always said that producing a decent outcome in Iraq was of such overriding importance to the country that it had to be kept above politics." Yes, that's true. I still believe that. My mistake was thinking that the Bush team believed it, too. I thought the administration would have to do the right things in Iraq — from prewar planning and putting in enough troops to dismissing the secretary of defense for incompetence — because surely this was the most important thing for the president and the country. But I was wrong. There is something even more important to the Bush crowd than getting Iraq right, and that's getting re-elected and staying loyal to the conservative base to do so. It has always been more important for the Bush folks to defeat liberals at home than Baathists abroad. That's why they spent more time studying U.S. polls than Iraqi history. That is why, I'll bet, Karl Rove has had more sway over this war than Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Bill Burns. Mr. Burns knew only what would play in the Middle East. Mr. Rove knew what would play in the Middle West. I admit, I'm a little slow. Because I tried to think about something as deadly serious as Iraq, and the post- 9/11 world, in a nonpartisan fashion — as Joe Biden, John McCain and Dick Lugar did — I assumed the Bush officials were doing the same. I was wrong. They were always so slow to change course because confronting their mistakes didn't just involve confronting reality, but their own politics. ...Why did the administration always — rightly — bash Yasir Arafat, but never lift a finger or utter a word to stop Ariel Sharon's massive building of illegal settlements in the West Bank? Because while that might have earned America credibility in the Middle East, it might have cost the Bush campaign Jewish votes in Florida.

****** Worth the read... Asks the right questions, for a change ******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:57 AM

Bush & Rumsfeld blame the military for problems in Iraq
(New York Times, May 12, 2004)
The administration and its Republican allies appear to have settled on a way to deflect attention from the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib: accuse Democrats and the news media of overreacting, then pile all of the remaining responsibility onto officers in the battlefield, far away from President Bush and his political team. . . . A few Republican senators loyally followed the script, like Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who offered the astounding comment that he was "more outraged by the outrage" than by the treatment of prisoners. After all, he said, they were probably guilty of something. . . . These silly arguments not only obscure the despicable treatment of the prisoners, most of whom are not guilty of anything, but also ignore the evidence so far. . . . General Taguba's testimony, and a Red Cross report from Iraq, made it plain that the abuse of prisoners by the American military and intelligence agencies was systemic. . . . The Red Cross report, published by The Wall Street Journal, said that Iraqi prisoners — 70 to 90 percent of whom apparently did nothing wrong — were routinely abused when they were arrested, and their wives and mothers threatened. . . . It was alarming yesterday to hear General Taguba report that military commanders had eased the rules four times last year to permit guards to use "lethal force" on unruly prisoners. The hearing also disclosed that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander in Iraq, had authorized the presence of attack dogs during interrogation sessions. . . . These practices go well beyond any gray area of American values, international law or the Geneva Conventions. . . . All the senators, government officials and generals assembled in that hearing room yesterday could not figure out who had been in charge at Abu Ghraib and which rules applied to the Iraqi prisoners. How were untrained reservists who had been plucked from their private lives to guard the prisoners supposed to have managed it? . . . General Sanchez did give some misguided orders involving the Abu Ghraib prison and prisoners in general. But the deeply flawed mission in which he participates is the responsibility of the Bush administration. It was Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld, not General Sanchez, who failed to anticipate the violence and chaos that followed the invasion of Iraq, and sent American soldiers out to handle it without the necessary resources, manpower and training.

[COMMENT: If a fish stinks, it stinks from the head down. This big fish called America really stinks right now, and it most certainly stinks from the head down.]
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posted by Lorenzo 9:48 AM

Cease-fire in Falluja was a mutiny by the American commanders
The announced withdrawal of American troops from Falluja, unless it is scuppered by the neocons (and I have no doubt they are working on scuppering it), is a very important development, for two main reasons: . . . It represents the first acknowledged defeat for the neocon 'shock and awe' mad-dog strategy of American military dealings with the rest of the world. . . . It represents an incredible loss of control by the Pentagon in Washington over the American military. It is apparent that the American commanders on the ground in Falluja came to the conclusion that whoever was giving the orders in Washington was insane (Dr. Strangelove), and that they were no longer prepared to participate in a massacre that not only would fail in its short-term military goal, but would turn the whole country violently against the Americans (not to mention completely destroying the moral integrity of the American military by forcing soldiers to murder civilians). They negotiated a cease-fire unknown to the Pentagon in Washington and against the express wishes of the civilian neocons in charge of the Pentagon. In fact, Falluja was being micromanaged by the White House itself. No to put too fine a point on it, the cease-fire in Falluja was a mutiny by the American commanders in Falluja (the hero seems to be Marine Lt. Gen. James Conway). This explains why we were simultaneously hearing announcements of a cease-fire in Iraq and vehement denials from the Pentagon in Washington. It also explains why some Americans had stopped the massacre, while others, still under the control of Washington, continued. Paul Wolfowitz (Captain Bligh) said the situation was 'confusing', which is a very odd thing for the guy supposedly in charge to say. It was confusing to him because a cease-fire was being negotiated on the ground in Falluja behind Wolfowitz's back. The central command in Washington has become so bad - both incompetent and treasonous - that American soldiers in the field have to make their own cease-fires. Perhaps there is hope for the United States yet.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:42 PM

The War is Lost
(William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t, 10 May 2004)
We have traveled a long, dark, strange road since the attacks of September 11. We have all suffered, we have all known fear and anger, and sometimes hatred. Many of us have felt - probably more than we are willing to admit it - at one time or another a desire for revenge, so deep was the wound inflicted upon us during that wretched, unforgettable Tuesday morning in September of 2001. But we have come now to the end of a week so awful, so terrible, so wrenching that the most basic moral fabric of that which we believe is good and great - the basic moral fabric of the United States of America - has been torn bitterly asunder. We are awash in photographs of Iraqi men - not terrorists, just people - lying in heaps on cold floors with leashes around their necks. We are awash in photographs of men chained so remorselessly that their backs are arched in agony, men forced to masturbate for cameras, men forced to pretend to have sex with one another for cameras, men forced to endure attacks from dogs, men with electrodes attached to them as they stand, hooded, in fear of their lives. The worst, amazingly, is yet to come. A new battery of photographs and videotapes, as yet unreleased, awaits over the horizon of our abused understanding. These photos and videos, also from the Abu Ghraib prison, are reported to show U.S. soldiers gang raping an Iraqi woman, U.S. soldiers beating an Iraqi man nearly to death, U.S. troops posing, smirks affixed, with decomposing Iraqi bodies, and Iraqi troops under U.S. command raping young boys. George W. Bush would have us believe these horrors were restricted to a sadistic few, and would have us believe these horrors happened only in Abu Ghraib. Yet reports are surfacing now of similar treatment at another U.S. detention center in Iraq called Camp Bucca. According to these reports, Iraqi prisoners in Camp Bucca were beaten, humiliated, hogtied, and had scorpions placed on their naked bodies. In the eyes of the world, this is America today. ...The one reason left has been unfailingly flapped around by defenders of this administration and supporters of this war: Saddam Hussein was a terrible, terrible man. He killed his own people. He tortured his own people. The Iraqis are better off without him, and so the war is justified. And here, now, is the final excuse destroyed. We have killed more than 10,000 innocent Iraqi civilians in this invasion, and maimed countless others. The photos from Abu Ghraib prison show that we, like Saddam Hussein, torture and humiliate the Iraqi people. Worst of all, we do this in the same prison Hussein used to do his torturing. The "rape rooms," often touted by Bush as justification for the invasion, are back. We are the killers now. We are the torturers now. We have achieved a moral equivalence with the Butcher of Baghdad.

This war is lost. I mean not just the Iraq war, but George W. Bush's ridiculous "War on Terror" as a whole.

*******Read the entire article...*******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 1:37 PM

U.K. Soldiers Killed Iraqi Civilians, Amnesty Says
(Bloomberg, May 11, 2004)
British soldiers in Iraq have killed civilians in situations where they weren't under any threat of attack, the human-rights group Amnesty International said. . . . Many cases of civilian killings by U.K. Armed Forces have not even been investigated,'' Amnesty said in a report. A civilian-led body must probe all killings by U.K. armed forces in Iraq and make its findings public, Amnesty said in a statement posted on its Web site. . . . The report, from research in February and March in U.K.- administered southern Iraq, comes as British and U.S. forces face accusations of abusing prisoners. Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush have apologized for the treatment of prisoners and have ordered investigations. . . . The Amnesty report cites the killing of an eight-year-old girl in August and a guest shot dead at a wedding reception in January. The Defence Ministry statement said the girl is thought to have been killed by a ricochet from a warning shot fired at an armed crowd. . . . The report also highlights killings of civilians by armed Iraqi groups operating in the south of the country. . . . Armed groups strike with seeming impunity,'' Amnesty said. ``Killings by U.K. armed forces, in situations where they should not be using lethal force, are examined in secrecy. There must be a full, impartial and civilian-led investigation into all allegations of killings by U.K. troops.'' . . . Families of 12 Iraqis, allegedly killed by British soldiers, received permission today for a full hearing of their challenge to the U.K. government's refusal to hold independent inquiries into the deaths.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:11 AM

Bremer knew, minister claims
(Luke Harding, The Guardian, May 10, 2004)
Iraq's first human rights minister launched a blistering attack yesterday on America's chief administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, saying that he had warned him repeatedly last year that US soldiers were abusing Iraqi detainees. . . . Dr Turki also claimed that he had received "information" of abuses committed against prisoners "just this week", but refused to give details. . . . In December, a month before the US military set up its own secret inquiry into Abu Ghraib, he telephoned Mr Bremer to complain about the treatment of female detainees. . . . "They had been denied medical treatment. They had no proper toilet. They had only been given one blanket, even though it was winter," he said. . . . Dr Turki's claims heap embarrassment on the US-led coalition and the Pentagon, and suggest both had been aware of the widespread abuse much earlier than previously admitted. . . . Yesterday Dr Turki said that in March he and other US-appointed ministers had demanded an investigation after a US soldier raped a woman prisoner, documented by Major General Antonio Taguba in his report on Abu Ghraib. . . . "We were told this matter would be dealt with in secret, and with only Americans attending," he said.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:58 PM

Photographs of another American war crime, the murder of a wounded combatant
(Robert Fisk
, The Independent, May 6, 2004)
The pictures are appalling, the words devastating. As a wounded Iraqi crawls from beneath a burning truck, an American helicopter pilot tells his commander that one of three men has survived his night air attack.. "Someone wounded,'' the pilot cries. Then he received the reply: "Hit him, hit the truck and him.'' As the helicopter's gun camera captures the scene on video, the pilot fires a 30mm gun at the wounded man, vaporising him in a second. . . . British and most European television stations censored the tape off the air last night on the grounds that the pictures were too terrible to show. But deliberately shooting a wounded man is a war crime under the Geneva Convention and this extraordinary film of US air crews in action over Iraq is likely to create yet another international outcry. . . . American and British personnel have been trying for weeks to persuade Western television stations to show video of the attack. Despite the efforts of reporters in Baghdad and New York, most television controllers preferred to hide the evidence from viewers. Only Canal Plus in France, ABC television in the United States and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation have so far had the courage to show the shocking footage. UK military personnel in the Gulf region have confirmed that the tape is genuine. . . . The video shows that the incident took four minutes, during which the two helicopter pilots - whose names are listed as Nager and Alioto - expended 300 high-velocity cannon rounds at their targets. The tape shows that the first 15 rounds missed the men. One of the pilots says: "F***, switching to range auto." The tape then documents the firing of four bursts of 20 rounds each at the three men. . . . The pictures, apparently taken through thermal-imaging cameras, leave no doubt that the pilot knew his third victim was wounded and crawling along the ground - and that whoever gave him the order to hit him also knew this. . . . It is common Israeli practice to kill wounded enemies from the air; a devastating helicopter assault by Israel on a Hizbollah training camp in Lebanon 10 years ago was accompanied by a series of attacks in which pilots sought out wounded guerrillas as they hid behind rocks in the Bekaa Valley and then fired at them. . . . The film, while it shows men acting in a suspicious manner, does not prove they were handling weapons. The occupation authorities in Baghdad chose to keep the incident secret when it occurred in December. Watching the video images, it is easy to understand why.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:19 AM

An illegal and immoral war, betrayed by images that reveal our racism
(Robert Fisk
, The Independent, 07 May 2004)
Just look at the way US army reservist Lynndie England holds the leash of the naked, bearded Iraqi. Take a close look at the leather strap, the pain on the prisoner's face. No sadistic movie could outdo the damage of this image. In September 2001, the planes smashed into the buildings; today, Lynndie smashes to pieces our entire morality with just one tug on the leash. . . . Could ever Islam have come so intimately into contact with the sexuality of the Old Testament? Could neo-conservative Christianity - Lynndie is also a churchgoer - have collided so violently, so revoltingly, so obscenely with Islam? . . . President Bush is fearful of Arab reaction to these pictures. Why? For a year now, Iraqis have been trying to tell journalists of the brutal treatment they are receiving at the hands of their occupiers. They don't need these incriminating photographs to prove to them what they already know to be true. . . . Someone decided that the photos would be the final straw, the breaking point, the moment of capitulation for these young men. Make them simulate oral sex. Make them look at the penis of their best friend. Get a girl to admire their attempted erection. This was truly Saddamite in its perversity. So let's, as the Americans say, get real. Who taught Lynndie and her boyfriend and the other American sadists of Abu Ghraib prison to do this? . . . Well, we have been told that there were "contracted" interrogators at Abu Ghraib. . . . So who were these mysterious "interrogators"? If they were not CIA or FBI staff, who were they? Several names are already doing the rounds - journalists claim they have no final proof - and a number, I understand, hold more than one passport. Why were they brought to Abu Ghraib? Who brought them? How much are they paid? And who trained them? . . . Who taught them it was a good idea to get a girl to point at an Arab who was being forced to masturbate, to humiliate an Iraqi by hooding him with a girl's lingerie? . . . We are not just talking "sick" here. We're talking professionals. . . . Lynndie and her boyfriend were not part of a "rogue" unit. They were told to do these despicable things. They were encouraged. This was an order from someone. Who? When can we see their pictures, their identity, their passports, their orders? . . . Yes, it's part of a culture, a long tradition that goes back to the Crusades; that the Muslim is dirty, lascivious, unChristian, unworthy of humanity - which is pretty much what Osama bin Laden (now forgotten by Mr Bush, I notice) believes about us Westerners. And our illegal, immoral, meretricious war has now brought forth the images that betray our racism. . . . The hooded man with the wires attached to his hands has now become an iconic portrait, every bit as memorable as the picture of the second aircraft flying into the World Trade Centre. No, of course, we haven't killed 3,000 Iraqis. We've killed many more. And the same goes for Afghanistan.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:14 AM

Winning the war
(George F. Will, May 2, 2004)
"We came here to start a soccer league," said a Marine major after a fierce firefight in Fallujah last week. "Instead, they are forcing us to topple mosques." The attempt to manufacture soccer mullahs, like ordering thousands of Frisbees for distribution to playful Iraqis, may seem like episodes from a Graham Greene novel — "The Quiet American in Mesopotamia." But before the games can begin, the war must be won, and no war is won until the losing side knows it has lost. "An uptick in localized engagements" was the U.S. command's description of the current wave of violence that menaces the four main roads from Baghdad to Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Kuwait. And Bush administration voices still dismiss the insurgents as "gangs" and "thugs." "The enemy did not run," said another Marine officer after another Fallujah battle. "They fought us like soldiers." The enemy is coordinated and clever. The attack by two speedboats loaded with explosives that targeted a tanker taking on Iraqi oil in the port of Basra failed, in the sense that one boat was destroyed before it could strike the tanker, and the one that struck the tanker did not explode. But the attack succeeded in this sense: overnight the insurance rate for tankers shipping Iraqi oil exports doubled. This "terror premium" could make Iraqi oil too expensive for sale at the world market price, further damaging Iraqi reconstruction efforts at a time when pandemic violence in Iraqi cities has confined many private contractors to protected compounds. By storing weapons and munitions in mosques and by firing from minarets, the insurgents do indeed compel U.S. forces to damage mosques, or adhere to rules of engagement that endanger American lives or preclude retaking any cities the insurgents choose to turn into combat zones. But if U.S. forces are to economize violence, they must disabuse the enemy of his recurring delusion that the United States is paralyzed by squeamishness about violence and its collateral damage. ...If such standoffs are the real alternatives to forceful suppression of the insurgents, then it is feckless to object to such suppression because the insurgents hope to draw America into violence that will alienate the population. The population may detest an America that fights its way to control of cities, but the population will have contempt for an America that is unable or, worse, able but unwilling to wrest cities from insurgents. Meanwhile, military commanders in Iraq face agonizing choices entailed by those antiseptic political locutions "regime change" and "nation building." The commander in chief seems not to fathom the depth of the difficulties when he describes the insurgent cleric Moqtada [al-] Sadr as a person who will not "allow democracy to flourish." "Allow"? If some bad people would just behave, democracy would sprout like tulips?

*****It's always encouraging when the Rightwing press speaks about the realities of this wayward war. George Will's voice is always reasoned and becoming more and more a voice of those conservatives who are appalled at what Little Bush and his band of merrymakers have done to this country. I just hope that it is not too late. ....But that's just this old curmudgeon's opinion"******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:29 AM

U.S. Troops Mistreat Elder Iraqi woman
(Sue Leeman, Associated Press, May 5, 2004)
U.S. soldiers who detained an elderly Iraqi woman last year placed a harness on her, made her crawl on all fours and rode her like a donkey, Prime Minister Tony Blair 's personal human rights envoy to Iraq said Wednesday. . . . The envoy, legislator Ann Clwyd, said she had investigated the claims of the woman in her 70s and believed they were true. . . . Clwyd, 67, is a veteran politician of the governing Labour Party and a strong Blair supporter who regularly visits Iraq and reports back on issues such as human rights, the delivery of food and medical supplies to Iraqis, and Iraq's Kurdish minority. Her job as Blair's human rights envoy is unpaid and advisory. . . . Clwyd said the Iraqi woman was arrested in Iraq in July and accused of having links to a former member of Saddam Hussein's regime — a charge she denied. . . . The abuse occurred last year in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison and at another coalition detention center, Clwyd said. . . . "She was held for about six weeks without charge," the envoy told Wednesday's Evening Standard newspaper. "During that time she was insulted and told she was a donkey. A harness was put on her, and an American rode on her back." . . . Clwyd said the woman has recovered physically but remains traumatized. . . . Clwyd said she had been told about the case because the woman has relatives in Britain. . . . Clwyd, who said the woman did not want to be named, did not identify the American military unit involved.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:00 PM

Just wondering...whether the treatment of Iraqis in the Abu Ghraib prison might explain why Bush the Lesser and his believers have defiantly opposed participating with other nations in the formation of an international war-crimes tribunal and why he also extracted the US from the International Criminal Court shortly (very) after taking office? Just wondering...

AlterNet article: Bush 'Unsigns' War Crimes Treaty
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 5:01 PM

"Iraq déjà vu Vietnam"
(David Antoon, Colonel, USAF Ret., YellowTimes.org, May 4, 2004)
When I was an innocent and naïve young man, I served three tours of duty in Vietnam, an immoral war that left some fifty thousand Americans and three million Vietnamese dead. Today, Vietnamese children suffer birth mutations, cancers, and untimely deaths from the Agent Orange that was deposited in their ground water by America decades ago. And now a misguided America is using its war machine with the same horrible results in another fraudulently manipulated war. Depleted uranium (with a half-life of 1.5 million years) has replaced Agent Orange as the contaminant of choice. Iraqis and Afghanis have become the victims instead of Vietnamese. And young innocent Americans ("fungible" units as described by Rumsfeld in one of his jocular press briefings) are vainly dying again at the hands of a misguided, mendacious and immoral administration. With Vietnam, the falsified Gulf of Tonkin incident was used to "buy" America’s support for war. The objective of that war became a moving "goal post;" "domino theory;" "democratization;" the fraudulent and morbid score of body counts and finally to "avoid defeat." This time, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice fraudulently acquired American support with false claims about Iraq’s capability and intent to manufacture and use nuclear weapons. These claims, along with Colin Powell’s Oscar-winning performance before the United Nations Security Council describing vast quantities of chemical and biological "WMDs" were all false. In less than a year, the goal posts have moved from WMDs to regime change to "freedom" and now to "smoke out" the terrorists while avoiding language that depicts U.S. terrorism inflicted upon Iraqis clearly manifested in the siege of Fallujah. In response to the chaos in the besieged city of Fallujah, the military commentators are now talking about "avoiding defeat," instead of outright victory. The goal posts won’t stand still. ...Major Powell was assigned to investigate the My Lai massacre where he dismissed the reports of the real heroes in this atrocity, those who reported the crime. He has again demonstrated in his position with the current administration that he is still a "dutiful soldier." At the beginning of the war in Iraq, Secretary of State Powell stated that the numbers of Iraqi casualties was of no concern to him or his government. The U.S. government has done no accounting, but NCOs estimate the number of innocent Iraqis killed in Iraq to exceed 17,000 thus far. Human carnage at the expense of moral courage and truth seems to follow Powell wherever he goes. His lack of accounting does not make him or this administration unaccountable for the deaths of thousands of innocent people. As in Vietnam, the killing of the "enemy" is so much easier if soldiers are "desensitized" and the "enemy" is "dehumanized." Today, BBC reported that an American general and her soldiers were responsible for Iraqi prisoners being forced into naked, sexual poses where they were photographed with American troops in uniform. They were even tortured with electrical wires attached to their genitals. Beatings led to deaths. It appears these war crimes were not isolated, but endemic. Interviews with American snipers on NPR describe shooting Iraqis as sport. Apparently, the "dehumanization" of the "enemy" has been successful as evidenced by these "desensitized" transgressions. Contrast this treatment of Iraqi prisoners with the humane and life-saving treatment Jessica Lynch received from her captors. Al Jazeera has reported and documented over 450 innocent, elderly men, women, and children killed and buried in the Fallujah city soccer field now being used as a makeshift grave. They report that American forces are shooting at anybody who moves and have also prevented the injured from being transported to hospitals for emergency care. Even Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, reports that the American military has bombed Al Jazeera offices, and persecuted and killed its reporters and cameramen. Al Jazeera’s crime was providing truthful reporting and images to the outside world, news that has been suppressed by American forces. Senator John McCain has lashed out at his colleagues in the Senate who have referred to the war in Iraq as another "Vietnam." Many, if not most Vietnam veterans, would strongly disagree with Senator McCain. I am no longer innocent and naïve. I consider writing this letter more patriotic than anything I did during my thirty years in uniform. I confess that I am a humanitarian who does read newspapers and books and history. As the American war machine continues its horrors in Iraq, a country without WMDs, without infrastructure and civil order, and now without a popular government, the world easily sees the war’s real purpose -- control of natural resources and protection of our lone "ally" in the region. Most of the world, and even now many Americans, realize this war, too, is a mistake. Military occupation in Vietnam (French and then the U.S.), Iraq (British and now the U.S.), Afghanistan (Russia and now the U.S.), Palestine (funded by the U.S.), Algeria (French), or Chechnya (Russia) is, and always has been, doomed to failure at extreme cost to both the occupied and the occupier. History has shown us that installing a government of the occupier’s choosing, and not of the occupied, is doomed to failure. How many human beings, American, Iraqi, or Afghani must be killed or destroyed? How much of our national treasure must be expended before the misguided officials in Washington are willing to admit their mistake? Must the draft be reinstated, as is now being planned, to feed this military monster? Must our campuses again burn as young people refuse to become the "fungible" fodder of this administration? A decade from now, will we again be building a granite monument to our thousands of brave military soldiers who died in vain? Two or three decades from now will a senior member of this administration write a book and say, "the Iraq war was a mistake?" Yes, this is deja vu Vietnam. The only question now is, "When will it end?"

*****The entire article may be viewed at the link above.******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 3:15 PM

Troops 'have been abusing Iraqis for a year'
(Marian Wilkinson, smh.com.au, May 5, 2004)
At least four Iraqi detainees have died in British custody in the past year, one as a result of torture, says the human rights group Amnesty International, while the CIA admits it is investigating the death of a prisoner under interrogation. . . . In Australia, the Federal Opposition condemned the Government for an "immoral disinterest" in the treatment of Iraqi prisoners and warned it had a legal responsibility to them. . . . Amnesty issued a disturbing report on Iraq last month detailing allegations of torture and ill-treatment by US and British forces in Iraq that are remarkably similar to the evidence that has now surfaced. But its report indicates that the abuses began when US-led coalition forces gained control of Iraq in April last year and took place throughout the country. . . . The report found at least four detainees have died in British military custody, and in one case the cause of death was torture. The report referred to a hearing in February into the death of an Iraqi at a detention centre in Nasiriyah, where a former US marine testified it was common practice "to kick and punch prisoners who did not co-operate, and even some who did". . . . That hearing involved the death of a former Baath party official who was beaten and choked by a US marine reservist. . . . The Amnesty report also noted that thousands of Iraqis had been arrested without charge and many held indefinitely as "suspected terrorists" or "security" detainees. . . . Amnesty repeated its call for an independent inquiry, saying the abuses were more widespread than acknowledged and included the still unexplained deaths of two prisoners under interrogation in Afghanistan. . . . "The problem seems to extend beyond one prison and one theatre," said its Washington spokesman, Alistair Hodgett. . . . A United Nations human rights investigator has called for an independent inquiry into the impact on civilians of the US military's month-long siege of Falluja. . . . There were credible claims that US-led forces in Iraq "have been guilty of serious breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law in Falluja in recent weeks", the UN special rapporteur Paul Hunt said on Monday.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:05 PM

47,000 US soldiers told they will go to Iraq as clashes continue
(Scotsman, 5 May 2004)
THE Pentagon is telling about 10,000 active-duty United States army soldiers and marines and 37,000 reserve and national guard troops that they will be sent to Iraq this year, defence officials said yesterday. They are needed to maintain the level of 138,000 US troops in the country. . . . [COMMENT: One of the reasons more troops are required is to fill in the gaps left by those who have been killed and wounded. In April 2004 alone, the total number of US killed and wounded in Iraq was 1,213.] . . . They said that about 20,000 troops now being notified would be used to replace a similar number who are currently serving 90 days beyond their promised year-long tours of duty, which had been scheduled to end last month. . . . The news came as clashes continued across Iraq, with militiamen launching a barrage of mortar shells against a US base in Najaf and government buildings guarded by Bulgarian forces in Karbala.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:58 PM

Mission Not Accomplished
(Sen. Robert Byrd, AntiWar.com, 5/1/2004)
A year ago, the President of the United States harkened back to his days as an aviator for the Texas Air National Guard to deliver a dramatic, made-for-television speech. Eager to experience the thrill of a carrier landing, the President donned a flight suit, strapped into a jet, and rocketed off into the wild blue yonder for a 30-mile journey. This flight of fancy concluded with the dramatic landing of that speeding plane onto the deck of an aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln – so named for the stoic leader who guided our country through one of its most troubling times. Such was the scene on May 1, 2003, under the warming rays of the California sun. The President delivered to the sailors on that ship a welcome and long overdue message: he commended the men and women on their outstanding service to our country during the trials of the war in Iraq, and welcomed them back to the United States of America. While the President delivered those words of appreciation, every television viewer in the country – and, indeed, the world – could see in the background a banner with the words "Mission Accomplished" superimposed upon the Stars and Stripes. In contrast to the simple humility of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, President Bush's speech was designed from the outset to be remembered right up until November 2, 2004. The President announced unequivocally that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended," and that "in the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." Now, one year later, combat deaths are more than five times that of a year ago when our President celebrated "mission accomplished." Since that time, Iraq has become a veritable shooting gallery. This April has been the bloodiest month of the entire war, with more than 120 Americans killed. Young lives cut short in a pointless conflict and all the President can say is that it "has been a tough couple of weeks." A tough couple of weeks, indeed. Plans have obviously gone tragically awry. But the President has, so far, only managed to mutter that we must "stay the course." But what course is there to keep when our ship of state is being tossed like a dinghy in a storm of Middle East politics? If the course is to end in the liberation of Iraq and bring a definitive end to the war against Saddam Hussein, one must conclude, mission not accomplished, Mr. President. The failures by the United States to secure the peace in Iraq has virtually guaranteed al Qaeda a fertile field of new recruits ready to sacrifice their lives to fight the American infidels. These extremists openly call for "jihad," swear allegiance to bin Laden, and refer to the September 11 murderers as the "magnificent 19." According to intelligence sources, hundreds of young Muslims are answering terror recruitment calls with a resounding "yes." One year ago, the President announced an end to major combat operations in Iraq. Yet, our troops are having their deployments extended in Iraq while our lines are stretched thin everywhere else. Billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars are being poured into Iraq. Seven hundred and twenty-two American lives have been lost. Unknown thousands of Iraqis are dead. Claims of WMD and death-dealing drones are discredited. And bin Laden is still on the loose.

******Time that OUR Congress performed their duty and began Impeachment proceedings to remove Little Bush and those who prop him up.********
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 5:09 PM

America Disgraced! George Bush's Legacy
(Ted Lang , The Price of Liberty, 5/3/2004)
...Add to this the current disgrace of both the British and the American military just exposed for their brutality in having tortured defenseless prisoners of war in violation of the Geneva Convention. We have now come full circle as regards those tactics that have alienated the entire world against US. The very torture prisons used by Saddam, the ones the Rush Limbaughs and the Sean Hannitys have offered justified the war and the removal of brutal Saddam, are the very same ones being used by the American military to torture the very same Iraqis. Nothing could make greater mockery of the Bush administration’s justification for war. Nothing could bring greater disgrace upon America.

******I wonder who the Administration is going to put forth to be the Iraqi "Lt. Calley?" - You can probably assume that it WON'T be a Flag Officer******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 4:46 PM

Scandal throws spotlight on mercenaries
(Joshua Chaffin, Financial Times, May 3, 2004)
[NOTE: In my blog of this article I have substituted the word "mercenaries" in all places where the original article uses the term "private contractors". To see the full article without these changes, click the link above. Just keep in mind the fact that there actually is no distinction between private contractors and mercenaries.]

The mounting scandal over the torture of Iraqi prisoners at a US military prison in Baghdad has again focused attention on the Pentagon's extensive - and sometimes controversial - use of mercenaries in the Iraq war. . . . Employees from two companies, CACI International and Titan, participated in interrogation sessions at the Abu Ghraib prison as both interrogation specialists and linguists, according to an internal army report completed in late February. . . . Procurement experts took issue with the military's decision to use mercenaries for a task as sensitive as interrogating prisoners. . . . "This is just one more example that we've delegated an awful lot to our mercenaries," said Steven Schooner, a law professor at George Washington University. "It's fair to ask whether [interrogating prisoners] is an appropriate function for them." . . . The Pentagon has increasingly relied on mercenaries in recent years to maintain weapons, serve meals and deliver mail as it strives to save money, and free up more troops for combat. . . . The practice has reached unprecedented levels in the Iraq war, where dozens of mercenaries have been killed - often serving alongside soldiers on the battlefield. . . . Until now, the controversy had largely focused on issues of cost, and whether the government retained proper oversight of such arrangements. . . . But the prison scandal is sure to inflame debate over the legal aspects of outsourcing. Critics have long noted that mercenaries working on foreign soil are not subject to the same military laws that govern uniformed troops. Also, international treaties can make it difficult to prosecute them under US or local law. . . . In a recent case, several employees from DynCorp, a Pentagon mercenary provider, were sent home from Bosnia after the army investigated their participation in a prostitution ring, although none were prosecuted. . . . In theory, the same could occur in Iraq where the Coalition Provisional Authority has passed regulations that exempt foreign mercenaries from local Iraqi laws.
[COMMENT: There are some interesting connections coming to the surface about the two mercenary companies that are involved in this prison torture scandal. California-based Titan Corporation says it is “a leading provider of solutions and services for national security”. Between 2003-04, it gave nearly $40,000 to George W Bush’s Republican Party. Titan supplied translators to the military.
CACI International Inc. describes its aim as helping “America’s intelligence community in the war on terrorism”. Richard Armitage, the current deputy US secretary of state, sat on CACI’s board. ]
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posted by Lorenzo 2:11 PM

Torture commonplace, say inmates' families
(The Guardian, May 3, 2004)
The photos of US soldiers abusing and humiliating Iraqi detainees may have provoked outrage across the world. But for Hiyam Abbas they merely confirmed what she already knew - that US guards had tortured her 22-year-old son Hassan. . . . Breaking down in tears, Mrs Abbas said US guards had refused to let her in. She had so far only managed to see Hassan once - two months ago - following his arrest last November. . . . "He told me: 'Mum, they are taking our clothes off. We are nude all the time. They are getting dogs to smell our arses. They are also beating us with cables.' . . . "It's completely humiliating," Mrs Abbas said. "My son is sick and suffering from hypertension. During the interview the American soldiers were standing so close to us. My son was crying." . . . Her son had been detained in the Baghdad suburb of Al-Dora, after a gang broke into their house. What did she think of the Americans now? . . . "They are rubbish," she said. "Saddam Hussein may have oppressed us but he was better than the Americans. They are garbage." . . . Yesterday other Iraqis gave similar accounts of what goes on inside Abu Ghraib, once a centre of torture and execution under Saddam. . . . Mr Salem said he had been in the jail shortly before a visit from the International Red Cross in January. Until then, detainees in the prison wing had been kept naked. . . . "The night before the Red Cross arrived, the American soldiers gave them some new clothes. They told us that if we complained to the Red Cross about our treatment we would be kept in prison forever. They said they would never let us out." . . . Mr Salem said he had come to the jail, a short drive from the town's chaotic vegetable market, to try to find out what had happened to his three brothers. They were still inside the prison, he said, behind its outer fence and a vast razor wire- topped inner wall. . . . Generally, detainees were only tortured in the days immediately after their arrest, during interrogation, he added. . . . Many of the allegations made by Mr Salem and other former detainees yesterday correspond with the damning internal US army report into Abu Ghraib obtained by the Guardian and the New Yorker magazine. . . . Yesterday the mother of one detainee, Samira Hassan, said the latest allegations were horribly familiar. . . . Her 22-year-old son Abbas had been arrested three months ago while walking past a US military base in the Baghdad suburb of Amariya. . . . She finally managed to see him in prison two weeks ago. "He told me they are using electric shocks against the prisoners and taking off their clothes. He also told me something I can hardly talk about - that the Americans are raping the Iraqi men. . . . "We are not talking about one case but of thousands of cases," she said. "The Americans said they would bring us freedom. Is this what they mean?" . . . Not all the detainees inside Abu Ghraib were young men, it emerged yesterday, or even very plausible resistance fighters. Several relatives wearing flowing white dish-dashes had turned up to try to visit Qahta al-Salim, a prominent 70-year-old sheikh from the Sunni town of Samarra. . . . Mr al-Salim had been in American custody for four months, his son, Mutashar Qahtan, said. US soldiers arrested him at his home after a neighbour claimed he supported the resistance. . . . "My father is an old man. He has a heart complaint. The first thing they did was to make him stand up for 12 hours," . . . There are around 8,000 Iraqi prisoners in US custody, held in camps across Iraq without trial or access to a lawyer. A tiny minority of those detained are high-ranking members of the former regime. . . . "The Americans are driving people into the arms of the Maqawama [resistance]," he said. "We now look back at Saddam's era with nostalgia," he added. "He was a good leader. There was security. We hope he comes back."
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posted by Lorenzo 9:37 AM

Are Coalition Troops WORSE THAN SADDAM
(Paul Byrne, Daily Mirror, May 1, 2004)
A HOODED Iraqi captive is beaten by British soldiers before being thrown from a moving truck and left to die. . . . The prisoner, aged 18-20, begged for mercy as he was battered with rifle butts and batons in the head and groin, was kicked, stamped and urinated on, and had a gun barrel forced into his mouth. . . . After an EIGHT-HOUR ordeal, he was left barely conscious and close to death. Bleeding and vomiting and with a broken jaw and missing teeth, he was driven from a Basra camp and hurled off the truck. No one knows if he lived or died. . . . The outrage, which emerged the day after US troops were pictured torturing Iraqi prisoners of war, makes a mockery of the Army's attempts to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. . . . Weeks after the pictures were taken, a captive was allegedly beaten to death in custody by men from the same Queen's Lancashire Regiment. It is also alleged a video was found of prisoners being thrown off a bridge. . . . Soldier A told how the young victim was hauled in suspected of stealing from the docks. . . . He said: "You pick on a man and go for him. Straightaway he gets a beating, a couple of punches and kicks to put him down. Then he was dragged to the back of the vehicle." . . . Immediately a sandbag was placed over the man's head and his hands tied behind his back. . . . Soldier A said: As we took him back he was getting a beating. He was hit with batons on the knees, fingers, toes, elbows, and head. . . . You normally try to leave off the face until you're in camp. If you pull up with black eyes and bleeding faces you could be in shit. . . . "So it's body shots - scaring him, saying 'We're going to kill you'. A lot of them cry and piss themselves. . . . Because it was so hot we put him in the back of a four- tonner truck which has a canopy over it. That's where the photos were taken. Lads were taking turns giving him a right going over, smashing him in the face with weapons and stamping on him. We had him for about eight hours. . . . You could see blood coming out early from the first 'digs'. He was pissedd on and there was spew. . . . "We took his mask off to give him some water and let him have a rest for 10 minutes. He could only speak a few words, pleading 'No, mister' . No, mister'. . . . "He was missing teeth. All his mouth was bleeding and his nose was all over the place. He couldn't talk, his jaw was out. He's had a good few hours of a kicking. He was on his way to being killed. There's only so much you can take. . . . After the officer allegedly told the attackers to get rid of the suspect he was driven off. . . . Soldier A said: "The lads said they took him back to the dock and threw him off the back of a moving vehicle. They'd have freed his hands, but he'd still be hooded. He'd done nothing, really. I felt sorry for him. I'm not emotional about it, but I knew it was wrong." . . . "We had one who fought back. I thought 'Don't do that', it's the worst thing you can do. He got such a kicking. You could hear your mate's boots hitting this lad's spine. . . . "One of the lads broke his wrist on a prisoner's head. Another nearly broke his foot, kicking him. We're not helping ourselves out here. We're never going to get the Iraqis on our side. We're fighting a losing war." . . . He said: "We got a warning, saying the Military Police had found a video of people throwing prisoners off a bridge. It wasn't 'Don't do it' or 'Stop it'. It was 'Get rid of it.' " . . . Both men fear the situation is worsening, with UK troops now seen as the enemy, rather than liberators. . . . One said: "I can't believe it has taken the Iraqis so long to fight back. If it had been me or my family, I'd have retaliated straightaway. . . . "They've just got fuckedd around so much. You can't go in now, and say 'Right, let's forget about what has happened and start again'. . . . "We're struggling now. There are too many people against us."

[COMMENT: The Daily Mirror has now apparently revealed that these photographs were fakes. For the rest of this story, please see Daily Mirror Editor Resigns Over Fake Photos LoZo 5-14-04]
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posted by Lorenzo 12:25 PM

Photos of prisoner abuse enrage Arabs
(Associated Press, April 30, 2004)
Arabs expressed outrage at graphic photographs shown on TV screens today across the Middle East of naked Iraqi prisoners being humiliated by smiling U.S. military police. . . . The images shown on the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya and the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera channels were first broadcast Wednesday on CBS' "60 Minutes II" and have led to charges against six U.S. soldiers. . . . The Arab TV stations led news bulletins with the photos of hooded prisoners piled on top of each other in a human pyramid and simulating sex acts, with their genitals blurred. Two U.S. soldiers standing near the prisoners hammed it up for the camera. . . . World leaders and ordinary Arabs condemned the images. . . . The photos were taken last year at Abu Ghraib prison, near Baghdad. . . . One of the photos showed a hooded prisoner standing on a box with wires attached to his hands. CBS reported the prisoner was told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted, although in reality the wires were not connected to a power supply. . . . Al-Jazeera introduced the pictures by saying they showed the "immoral practices" of Iraq's occupation forces. . . . "This will increase the sense of dissatisfaction among Iraqis toward the Americans," said a member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, Mahmoud Othman. "The resistance people will try to make use of such painful incidents." . . . The Abu Ghraib prison was the most notorious of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's detention centers. Its jailers are alleged to have tortured and killed thousands of Iraqis, and a cemetery outside has dozens of unmarked graves. . . . "The Saddam era was full of executions and torture, and we want the new Iraq to be clean of such images," Othman said. . . . U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan "was deeply disturbed by the pictures of Iraqi prisoners being mistreated and humiliated by their guards," U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said Friday. . . . Al-Arabiya's reporter said the pictures posed the question of how many more abuses were occurring without coming to public light. . . . Amnesty International issued a statement from its London headquarters today saying its research indicated that the abuse "is not an isolated incident." . . . Yemeni human rights activist Mustafa Rageh agreed. . . . "I believe lots of similar scenes are still hidden, and what we have seen today is just a sample," Rageh said. "Such hideous scenes are severely violating human rights' basic principles." . . . Amnesty warned that the evidence of torture "will exacerbate an already fragile situation. . . . "The prison was notorious under Saddam Hussein," it said. "It should not be allowed to become so again."
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posted by Lorenzo 11:42 AM

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