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The war we're losing
(Pat Buchanan, June 30, 2004)
"There exists today a hatred of Americans never equaled in the region," Egyptian President Mubarak told Le Monde. "In the beginning, some people thought the Americans were helping them. There was no hatred toward Americans. After what happened in Iraq, there is an unprecedented hatred, and the Americans know it." This longtime friend added, "American and Israeli interests are not safe, not only in our region but in other parts of the world, in Europe, in America, anywhere in the world." The war on Iraq into which his neo-conservative advisers prodded the president seems to have ignited the very "war of civilizations" between Islam and America that the president said he wanted to avoid. Raised to believe in the innate goodness of America and the nobility of her purposes, President Bush finds it hard to believe the best recruiting tool al-Qaida and the Iraqi insurgents have is the presence on Iraqi soil of the U.S. soldiers he sent to "liberate" Iraq. This is the war we are losing. And to win this struggle, the United States needs to do three things that may go against the political interests of both parties: Stand up for justice for the Palestinians. Remove our imperial presence. Cease to intervene in their internal affairs. We Americans once stood for all that. And if we go only where we are invited, we would be invited more often to come and help.

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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 11:56 AM

US Government report reveals Iraq is worse off than before the war began
(Seth Borenstein, Knight Ridder, June 29, 2004)
In a few key areas - electricity, the judicial system and overall security - the Iraq that America handed back to its residents Monday is worse off than before the war began last year, according to calculations in a new General Accounting Office report released Tuesday. . . . The 105-page report by Congress' investigative arm offers a bleak assessment of Iraq after 14 months of U.S. military occupation. Among its findings: In 13 of Iraq's 18 provinces, electricity was available fewer hours per day on average last month than before the war. Nearly 20 million of Iraq's 26 million people live in those provinces. . . . Only $13.7 billion of the $58 billion pledged and allocated worldwide to rebuild Iraq has been spent, with another $10 billion about to be spent. The biggest chunk of that money has been used to run Iraq's ministry operations. . . . The country's court system is more clogged than before the war, and judges are frequent targets of assassination attempts. . . . The report was released on the same day that the CPA's inspector general issued three reports that highlighted serious management difficulties at the CPA. The reports found that the CPA wasted millions of dollars at a Hilton resort hotel in Kuwait because it didn't have guidelines for who could stay there, lost track of how many employees it had in Iraq and didn't track reconstruction projects funded by international donors to ensure they didn't duplicate U.S. projects. . . . "The picture it paints of the facts on the ground is one that neither the CPA nor the Bush administration should be all that proud of," said Peter W. Singer, a national security scholar at the centrist Brookings Institution. "It finds a lot of problems and raises a lot of questions." . . . One of the biggest problems, Singer said, is that while money has been pledged and allocated, not much has been spent. The GAO report shows that very little of the promised international funds - most of which are in loans - has been spent or can't be tracked. [COMMENT: Maybe if the GAO took a look at the bank accounts of Cheney's buddies they would find some of the missing millions.] . . . Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that asked for the GAO report, said the report showed major problems. . . . "So while we've handed over political sovereignty, we haven't handed over practical capacity - that is, the ability for the Iraqis themselves to provide security, defend their borders, defeat the insurgency, deliver basic services, run a government and set the foundation for economic progress," Biden said in a written statement. "Until Iraqis can do all of that, it will be impossible for us to responsibly disengage from Iraq."
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posted by Lorenzo 10:00 AM

The Decay of American Values: 35% now say torture is OK
(Michael Ignatieff, New York Times Magazine, June 27, 2004)
To deflect their own accountability, American leaders confidently proclaim that the guilty ones are just a few rotten apples in an otherwise sweet American bushel basket. We are told that the abusers do not represent America. The reality, as always, is more painful. Go out and ask Americans what they think about Abu Ghraib. An ABC News/Washington Post poll recently found that 46 percent of Americans believed that physical abuse short of torture is sometimes acceptable, while 35 percent thought that outright torture is acceptable in some cases. . . . Again, you will say: Let's not exaggerate. Let's not lose our nerve here. But no other democracy is so exposed by these painful moral juxtapositions, because no other nation has made a civil religion of its self-belief. The abolition of cruel and unusual punishment was a founding premise of that civil religion. This was how the fledgling republic distinguished itself from the cruel tyrannies of Europe. . . . Hardly anyone is naming streets after Americans in the cities of the world these days. ''What has happened to our country?'' Sorensen exclaimed. ''We have been in wars before, without resorting to sexual humiliation as torture, without blocking the Red Cross, without insulting and deceiving our allies and the U.N., without betraying our traditional values, without imitating our adversaries, without blackening our name around the world.'' . . . Abu Ghraib and the other catastrophes of occupation have cost America the Iraqi hearts and minds its soldiers had patiently won over since victory. To say this is to say that America has lost the power to shape Iraq for the better. Accepting this will not be easy. America has as much trouble admitting its capacity for evil as for recognizing the limits of its capacity to do good. . . . Ordinary American ignorance was compounded by the administration's arrogance. Gen. George C. Marshall began planning the postwar occupation of Germany two years before D-Day. This administration was fumbling for a plan two months before the invasion. Who can read Bob Woodward's ''Plan of Attack'' and not find his jaw dropping at the fact that from the very beginning, in late 2001, none of the civilian leadership, not Rice, not Powell, not Tenet, not the president, asked where the plan for the occupation phase was? Who can't feel that U.S. captains, majors and lieutenants were betrayed by the Beltway wars between State and Defense? Who can't feel rage that victorious armies stood by and watched for a month while Iraq was looted bare? . . . Someone like me who supported the war on human rights grounds has nowhere to hide: we didn't suppose the administration was particularly nice, but we did assume it would be competent. There isn't much excuse for its incompetence, but equally, there isn't much excuse for our naivete either. . . . America cannot defend Iraq from its demons of division: it can only help Iraqis do so. When there is a freely elected government, the United States should come home. January 2006 is the date for return set by the United Nations resolution. By then the oil should be flowing, the coffers of the Iraqi state should be filling up and what Iraq will do with the money will be up to the Iraqis, not us. [COMMENT: Of course, this is another example of the media's selected amnesia. The US is at this very moment building 14 permanent bases in Iraq. Hundreds of billions of dollars of the taxes we have paid are flowing into the pockets of the businessmen Cheney and Bush count on for their political base. If you consider yourself to be a patriot, then go see Michael Moore's new film “Fahrenheit 9/11.” The only reason for not seeing this important film is that you are afraid of the truth. I occasionally watch the fascist FOX programs just to learn what We the People are supposed to fear the most these days. I’m not afraid that my progressive viewpoint will be threatened if I watch their programs. Yet I am hearing conservatives, almost without exception, vowing to stay away from Moore’s film. They say they don’t want to give any of their money to Moore. Fair enough. So I am now offering to loan them one of the copies of the film that I intend to purchase as soon as it is released in September. We’ll soon see if they have the courage to watch it then.] America may not be able to shape Iraq for the better, but it cannot abdicate its responsibility to prevent the worst. Intervention amounted to a promise. The promise -- of eventual peace and order -- needs to be kept. . . . The signal illusion from which America has to awake in Iraq and everywhere else is that it serves God's providence or (for those with more secular beliefs) that it is the engine of history. In Iraq, America is not the maker of history but its plaything. In the region at large, America is not the hegemon but the hesitant shaper of forces it barely understands. In the Middle East, it stands by, apparently helpless, as Israelis create more facts on the ground and Palestinians create more suicide bombers. All this shows that the world does not exist to be molded to American wishes. It is good that the United States has wanted to be better than it is. It is good that the death of a president gave it a week to revive its belief in itself. But it cannot continue to bear this burden of destiny. For believing that it is Providence's chosen instrument makes the country overestimate its power; it encourages it to lie to itself about its mistakes; and it makes it harder to live with the painful truth that history does not always -- or even very often -- obey the magnificent but dangerous illusions of American will.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:11 PM

Baquba Sealed off as US Loses Control
(Dahr Jamail, The New Standard, June 25, 2004)
Just six days before Iraq's interim government is to gain partial sovereignty from the U.S., resistance fighters launched a series of coordinated attacks against U.S. forces and Iraqi government targets in Baghdad, Mosul, Ramadi and Baquba today. Fierce fighting between the Iraqi resistance and U.S. forces has killed at least 85 people and wounded 320, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Health. Here in Baquba, a small city 50 kilometers (31 mi.) northeast of Baghdad, early morning attacks by resistance fighters and bombing raids by the U.S. military killed 13 civilians and wounded another 15, according to the Health Ministry. Sporadic fighting continued around Baquba this afternoon after U.S. forces sealed off the city. Shortly after the attack, insurgents appeared to have taken control of the Al-Mufraq district in western Baquba. Residents here said occupation forces had retreated from the area after being ambushed. "This morning the mujahideen defeated the occupying forces in Al-Mufraq," said Amer Alwhan, a 29-year-old engineer who lives near the area. He also said that early this morning, resistance fighters, often referred to by locals as mujahideen, distributed leaflets throughout the city. The leaflets told residents to stay in their homes because U.S. forces would be attacked in the city. General Walid Khalid, the police chief of Diyala Province, told al-Jazeera TV that the situation in Baquba would soon be under control. Later, resistance fighters set Khalid's home ablaze. Inside the city, several large bomb blasts were heard around 1 p.m., while the streets remained mostly empty and all of the shops closed for fear of continued fighting. However, no U.S. military units were visible anywhere inside the city itself. "The mujahideen are fighting for their country against the Americans, who are the occupiers. We all accept this resistance." A local Iraqi engineer, Qahtan Mhamoud shared criticism. "We do not like the occupiers," he said. "Nobody here likes the occupiers." Baquba today stood eerily reminiscent of Fallujah in April. On April 4, U.S. Marines sealed the city of Fallujah after losing control of most neighborhoods. A month long siege ensued before the military ceded their security authority to the Iraqi Police, Civil Defense Corps and mujahideen.
[COMMENT] ****** I guess I shouldn't be surprised that not one word of this was spoken this evening during the national newscasts...*****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 4:20 PM

New Charges of Rape at Abu Ghraib
(Viveca Novak and Douglas Waller, Time Magazine, 20 June 2004)
In a Feb. 21 statement to Taguba, Lieut. Colonel Steven L. Jordan, former head of the Abu Ghraib interrogation center, said he had received reports "that there were members of the MI [Military Intelligence] community that had come over and done a late-night interrogation of two female detainees" last October. According to a statement by Jordan's boss, Colonel Thomas Pappas, three interrogators were later cited for violations of military law in their handling of the two females, ages 17 and 18. Senate Armed Services Committee investigators are probing whether the two women were sexually abused. The Pentagon declined to comment. . . . Meanwhile, a class action filed in California on behalf of former detainees raises the specter of brutal physical abuse. . . . One plaintiff, identified only as Neisef, claims that after he was taken from his home on the outskirts of Baghdad last November and sent to Abu Ghraib, Americans made him disrobe and attached electrical wires to his genitals. He claims he was shocked three times. Although a vein in his penis ruptured and he had blood in his urine, he says, he was refused medical attention. In another session, Neisef claims, he was held down by two men while a uniformed woman forced him to have sex with her. "I was crying," said Neisef, 28. "I felt like my whole manhood was gone." The class action also claims that detainees were raped in prison. On June 6, Neisef was released, after a U.S. civilian told him, he says, that he had been wrongly accused by informants. A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad confirms that a prisoner with Neisef's ID number was released on that date, and TIME has obtained a copy of his release order. But the Pentagon would not comment on the specifics of Neisef's account.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:34 PM

Maybe We Do Need a Draft
(Al Lorentz, AntiWar.com, June 19, 2004)
With all this talk about a draft, I thought that, as a professional soldier, I'd throw my two cents worth in. Let me begin by saying that I'm against a general draft for a number of reasons. Conscription makes free citizens into slaves and the property of the state. A draft also gives the state a large standing army, and having such an army creates too great a temptation for politicians to use it. However, I find it patently un-American and unpatriotic to place the burden of war on a small stratum of society. I'm not speaking of just the actual blood and guts fighting, but the entire burden of war. War is a sad event that, in a great nation like the United States, should be shared equally. First, there is the issue of whose children shall actually go and do the fighting and dying. I notice that the children of our political elite are not here with us in Iraq. I think we need a rather selective draft to fix this obvious oversight. Specifically, we need to draft, right now, the children of every politician in our federal government and every executive in our military industrial complex. We must also draft the wife or husband of each politician and defense contractor.
[COMMENT]***** Great concept!!!*****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:39 AM

GIs marching away from re-enlistment
(Dick Foster, Rocky Mountain News, June 14, 2004)
Army re-enlistments have dropped suddenly and dramatically at Fort Carson and several other posts where combat units have recently returned from Iraq. The surprising decline within the past 2 1/2 months has jolted recruiters and military analysts and provoked questions about the war's effect on the Army's recruiting ability. Since Fort Carson units began coming home in April, post recruiters have met only 57 percent of their quota for re-enlisting first-term soldiers for a second hitch, according to an Army report. More disturbing, recruiters say, is they're re-enlisting only 46 percent of the quota for "mid-career" noncommissioned officers. These are the young sergeants with four to 10 years of experience who are the backbone of the Army - its skilled soldiers, mentors and future senior NCOs. "That's a lot lower than where we want to be, especially on mid-careers," said Master Sgt. Scott Leeling, a Fort Carson recruiter. "But I don't see this as being a trend," he said. "Last quarter, we were unbelievably successful. I look to see a dramatic increase in the next 30 to 45 days." Fort Carson is just about meeting quotas for re-enlistments of smaller numbers of older career soldiers - those serving 10 or more years. Fort Carson's re-enlistments could be lagging because some soldiers are still on 30-day leave after Iraq deployment and might sign up when they return to duty, Leeling suggested. But others familiar with the Army think the numbers could signal growing discontent. Iraq may be exposing some vulnerabilities of an undersized, overstretched Army. "It sounds to me like the Army is voting with its feet," said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, an Alexandria, Va., think tank. Married soldiers, who now make up half of the Army, are growing weary of repeated, yearlong deployments away from their families, Pike and others believe. "We've gone from an unmarried Army to a married Army. These guys have come back from Iraq now, but you tell them they're going back within a year, and the wives are raising hell," said Dennis McCormack, a retired helicopter pilot who served in Vietnam and Desert Storm. Fort Carson isn't alone with sharp re-enlistment drops during the past 90 days. According to Army figures:
• At Fort Bragg, N.C., home of the 82nd Airborne Division, recruiters have met 65 percent of their goal of first-termers and 80 percent of the goal for mid-career soldiers.
• At Fort Riley, Kan., whose 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division remains deployed in Iraq, re-enlistments are off sharply. Recruiters have signed only 50 percent of its quota for first-term re-enlistees, and 57 percent for mid-career soldiers.
• Across the Army's massive III Corps, which includes Fort Hood's 4th Infantry and 1st Cavalry divisions as well as Fort Carson's combat units, only 51 percent of first-termers and 54 percent of the mid-career soldiers are signing up.
At Fort Stewart, Ga., where the 3rd Infantry Division returned from Iraq, the Army used cash bonus incentives to re-enlist 95 percent of its first-term quota and reach 100 percent of its mid-career goal. No cash incentives have been authorized at Fort Carson or other posts, Leeling said. And there's no guarantee the money would lure everyone. "I've been away more than I've been home. I want to live my life with my kids and my family," said Jimmy Ray Sandoval, who has been to Korea, Bosnia and Iraq. After missing his son's birth and his daughter's birthday in Iraq, Sandoval came home last Christmas and left the Army with the rank of corporal. McCormack has heard it from other soldiers. "These guys have come home and had some time to be with their families. Then the rumors start flying that they're going back within a year," he said. "They've asked themselves, 'Do I really want to do that again?' You're making $20,000 or $25,000 a year and liable to get killed. They lost a lot of guys," he said. As of Friday, 827 U.S. troops had died in Iraq, 45 from Fort Carson. More than 5,000 have been wounded. The improved economy also may play a role in a soldier's decision to leave the military. The Army said that despite the recent downturn, enough soldiers re-enlisted through May to make 98 percent of its year-to-date retention goal, 56,100 re-enlistments. And new enlistments nationwide aren't a problem, the Army said. It was on track to meet its goal of 77,000 new recruits this year, with 48,939 on May 26. "We're guardedly optimistic. A lot of things could happen, but right now we're in good shape," said Lt. Col. Frank Childress, a Pentagon spokesman. Sgt. David Cramer, a 10-year Army veteran, was among four mid-career sergeants who re-enlisted Thursday at Fort Carson. "The biggest thing is the feeling you get that you're doing something historic, that you're helping to make those things come about," he said. But the recent declines at Fort Carson and elsewhere are the first weakness in enlistments since the war began. Pike believes the Army "is in a race" against time to reduce Iraq troop commitments before larger numbers of soldiers begin leaving.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 12:20 PM

US general: I was told to treat prisoners like 'dog'
(China Daily, 2004-06-15)
The US army general who ran the notorious Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad complained Tuesday that she was being made a "convenient scapegoat" for the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners. . . . In an interview with BBC radio, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski also said she had been told by the then-head of the Guantanamo Bay prison to treat all detainees like "a dog". . . . She insisted she had never been aware of a Red Cross inspection of the prison's cell blocks 1A and 1B, which revealed abuses, as these were interrogation facilities run by US Military Intelligence. . . . "The interrogation operation was directed, it was under a separate command and there was no reason for me to go out to look at Abu Ghraib cell block 1A or 1B or visit the interrogation facilities because it was not in my lane," she said. . . . Karpinski also recounted receiving a visit from Major General Geoffrey Miller, who at the time ran the US detention facility for Al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. . . . He was later placed in overall charge of all US prisons across Iraq. . . . Miller told Karpinski: "At Guantanamo Bay we learned that the prisoners have to earn every single thing that they have," she recounted. . . . "He said they are like dogs, and if you allow them to believe at any point that they are more than a dog then you've lost control of them."
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posted by Lorenzo 10:05 AM

The casualties of war
(THOMAS M. DeFRANK, DAILY NEWS, June 13, 2004)
For every flag-draped coffin the American people aren't allowed to see coming home from Iraq, there are at least four other casualties of war...Thirteen months after President Bush proclaimed Mission Accomplished, the wounded from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom still stream into the massive U.S. military hospital nestled among the pine forests of southwestern Germany. More than 15,000 war zone patients have already cycled through Landstuhl, nearly 13,000 from Iraq. An estimated 4,000 are classified as battle casualties; the rest have been treated for bunions and backaches, asthma and appendicitis, testicular cancer and a recent rash of viral pneumonia cases. The staff of 1,853 has tended to patients from 33 countries, including the victims of the April terror bombing of the UN mission in Baghdad, and a young Polish soldier admitted last week with burns over 80% of his body. "They just keep coming," says one staffer, who has gotten used to the double shifts and 60-hour weeks. "It never stops." The largest U.S. medical facility overseas, Landstuhl stabilizes the seriously injured so they can be flown to stateside medical hospitals like Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, or the Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Md. Patients usually stay from three days to two weeks depending on the severity of their condition. Several hundred soldiers have suffered life-altering traumatic wounds: irreversible brain damage, facial mutilation, ruptured eardrums. A handful have been permanently blinded or will never walk again. Lt. Col. Ronald Place, the chief surgeon, says about 150 soldiers have lost limbs. Yet by every account, the emotional resilience of the victims of a controversial war is astounding. "I am absolutely, constantly amazed by their good attitude," says Col. Rhonda Cornum, Landstuhl's commander. "You just want to cry and kiss them." "I had tears in my eyes 15 times today," Army Lt. Gen. John Sylvester, chief of staff for the U.S. European Command, told reporters after a recent visit. Despite the horrendous injuries some soldiers suffer, Cornum credits protective vests for saving countless lives. "If we didn't have such great body armor," she said, "many of our patients would be KIAs [killed in action], not amputees." But Cornum knows that's cold comfort to young lives changed forever. "Learning to live with it goes on for the rest of your life," said chief of chaplains Col. Eric Holmstrom, a reservist from Exton, Pa. "They don't need magic answers because there aren't any." For some questions, however, not even the most rigorous professional training can provide an answer like the one from a young soldier engaged to be married. "Where do I put my wedding ring?" he plaintively asked, looking at the place where his hands used to be. "You just try to comfort them as best you can," one anguished staffer said, "and then you go somewhere and cry your heart out."

[COMMENT] *****This is the reality of war that Duh-bya does not want you to know about. The reality that war is not pretty and war is not healthy and war is not kind. The reality of war is that it forever changes the lives of those who are chosen to fight for the cowards who do not want to get their own hands dirty. But, that's just this old Curmudgeon's opinion******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 3:22 PM

Ronnie & Saddam
(Sunday Herald Online)
The US had publicly declared itself "officially neutral" in the Iran-Iraq conflict when Saddam attacked the newly Islamic state, but investigative research undertaken at George Washington University's National Security Archive shows that this declaration was a complete lie. In 1982, as the Iran-Iraq war began to hot up, the USA quietly took Iraq off the State Department's list of states that supported terrorism. This allowed money to start flowing from America into Saddam's coffers. Both the White House and the State Department bullied the Export-Import Bank to provide Iraq with financing. This made Saddam's balance sheet look so healthy that he was able to get loans from other international banks. Unsurprisingly, Saddam spent most of his new-found wealth on weapons – which he bought from Britain and America. Joyce Battle, of the National Security Archive, says: "Although official US policy still barred the export of US military equipment to Iraq, some was evidently provided on a 'don't ask, don't tell' basis." When a Congressional aide asked in March 1983, whether heavy trucks sold to Iraq were intended for military purposes, a State Department official said: "We presumed that this was Iraq's intention and had not asked." America officially restored full formal relations with Saddam's Ba'athist Iraq in November 1984, despite months of Iranian complaints to the world that its troops were being attacked with chemical weapons by Iraq's army. Some 600,000 Iranians died in the war, compared with 300,000 Iraqis. America was fully aware of Saddam's war crimes. A November 1983 US memorandum from the bureau of politico-military affairs to the then secretary of state George Shultz, headed Iraqi Use Of Chemical Weapons, confirms that America knew that Saddam was using chemical weapons on an "almost daily basis". Another State Department memo, also written in November 1983 – this time from the office of the assistant secretary for near Eastern and South Asian affairs – says the US should tell Saddam that America knows about the use of poison gas, as that would "avoid unpleasantly surprising Iraq through public positions we may have to take on this issue". However, State Department documents also reveal that America decided to limit its "efforts against the Iraqi CW [chemical weapon] programme to close monitoring because of our strict neutrality". Other State Department cables sent around this time show that America knew Iraq used chemical weapons in October 1982 and in July and August 1983, "and more recently against Kurdish insurgents". Reagan also knew by the end of 1983 that "with the essential assistance of foreign firms, Iraq has become able to deploy and use CW and probably has built up large reserves of CW for further use". Iraq's use of chemical weapons was not discussed at all during Rumsfeld’s meeting, an omission entirely consistent with US policy. On November 1, 1983, the State Department noted in a memo that Saddam had acquired "CW capability", possibly from the USA. But two sentences later, the same memo says: "Presently Iraq is at a disadvantage in its war of attrition against Iran. After a recent meeting on the war, a discussion paper was sent to the White House for a National Security Council meeting, a section of which outlines a number of measures we might take to assist Iraq."

[COMMENT]] ***** Can you say "What goes around, comes around? It really must have been frustrating for Rummy and Cheney not to be able to find all those WMD that they know Saddam had. I mean, I bet they are just tearing up every inch of desert looking for the ones they sold to Saddam, of course. But, that's just this old Curmudgeon's opinion... he he! ******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 2:15 PM

Interrogation abuses were 'approved at highest levels'
(Julian Coman, The Telegraph, 13/06/2004)
New evidence that the physical abuse of detainees in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay was authorised at the top of the Bush administration will emerge in Washington this week...four confidential Red Cross documents implicating senior Pentagon civilians in the Abu Ghraib scandal have been passed to an American television network, which is preparing to make them public shortly. According to lawyers familiar with the Red Cross reports, they will contradict previous testimony by senior Pentagon officials who have claimed that the abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison was an isolated incident. "There are some extremely damaging documents around, which link senior figures to the abuses," said Scott Horton, the former chairman of the New York Bar Association, who has been advising Pentagon lawyers unhappy at the administration's approach. [[Can you say Military Revolt?]] "The biggest bombs in this case have yet to be dropped." Members of Congress are now demanding access to all White House memos on interrogation techniques, a request so far refused by John Ashcroft. As the growing scandal threatens to undermine President Bush's re-election campaign, senior aides have acknowledged for the first time that the abuse of detainees can no longer be presented as the isolated acts of a handful of soldiers at the Abu Ghraib. "It's now clear to everyone that there was a debate in the administration about how far interrogators could go," said a legal adviser to the Pentagon. "And the answer they came up with was 'pretty far'. Now that it's in the open, the administration is having to change that answer somewhat." The White House has ordered a damage-limitation exercise to try to prevent the abuse row [sic] undermining President Bush's re-election campaign.
[COMMENT]***** You bet your ass they're performing a "damage-limitation exercise" - they realize that Dubya's in way over his head and like Poppy is most likely to lose his re-election bid because of arrogance and stupidity - not to mention putting trust in untrustworthy people. And the sweet thing about this is I don't think there is anything they can do to stop more from coming out. As they alienate more and more of the people who do the dirty work, more and more of the dirty deeds are going to "leak" out to the press and the ever-increasing number of investigators crawling around in the rubble. You can see it in Dubya's eyes when he slithers out into the public arena...He's like a deer caught in the headlights of reality. Nixon got off easy compared to what Dubya and his fellow cretens are going to go through...I don't think even a new "terrorist event" (whether they knew about it ahead of time or not - or even if they approved it [you know how desparate powerful people get when faced with losing power]) could salvage the junta. The only option for them would be complete marshall law, invalidation of the Bill of Rights and the gutting of the Constitution...Oh wait, that's pretty much a fait acompli, isn't it? I smell blood on the palace floor... -- -- But, that's just this old Curmudgeon's opinion...******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 4:49 AM

New Photos of American's Torturing Iraqi Prisoners
The link above will take you to a page with some photos that were just sent to me by a friend. It is important that the issue of torture as an approved US interrogation technique remain in the public eye. If we are not careful, torture will remain a stated policy of the United States, which means that in turn any American taken hostage anywhere in the world will be fair game for the "eye for and eye" crowd. As if the thought of state-sanctioned torture was not enough to already sicken any patriotic American.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:20 PM

Attacks Erupt Across Iraq
(Edward Wong, New York Times, 09 June 2004)
Insurgents staged attacks on American forces and their allies on several fronts today, firing mortars at Iraqi militiamen west of here, setting two critical oil pipelines in the north ablaze and ambushing a military convoy in the capital. . . . The various assaults underscored the fact that the United States was still engaged in a wide-ranging war, one that American officials say will likely get worse as the White House tries to return some measure of sovereignty to Iraqis on June 30. . . . The United Nations Security Council approved a resolution on Tuesday that recognizes the sovereign status of Iraq after June 30. Whether the approval will dampen the insurgents' resolve is one of the biggest questions confronting Iraqis and Americans. With the spate of attacks on Wednesday, the insurgents gave the impression that for the moment they were determined to carry on the fight. . . . The attacks on the pipelines came after an assault on fuel and transmission lines that forced the shutdown last weekend of an enormous power plant south of Baghdad. The continuing sabotage of infrastructure shows that fighters are cannily picking targets that deliver basic goods and whose destruction can quickly wreck Iraqi confidence in the occupation and the new government. . . . The Marines appeared to be conducting an operation at Falluja today. They used concrete barriers to block off two roads leading to the city from Baghdad. Tanks, Humvees and other armored vehicles were seen parked or driving around pastures on the side of the main highway just outside Falluja. . . . A wooden sign by the barrier on the highway said in Arabic: "No entry into the city." . . . Ahmad Shaibani, an aide to Mr. Sadr, said in an interview that it was not the right of the occupation forces or the Iraqi police to decide who would control the shrines. "Holy shrines were excluded from the agreement," he said. . . . Mr. Shaibani also said that L. Paul Bremer III, the American administrator for Iraq, had no power to bar any Iraqi from participating in upcoming general elections. Earlier this week, Mr. Bremer signed an order saying members or leaders of illegal militias would not be able to run for office in the near future. That would presumably bar Mr. Sadr from campaigning. . . . Mr. Bremer "has no right to determine the nature of the elections and whether militias have the right to participate or not, especially since his authority will end as per the U.N. Security Council resolution," Mr. Shaibani said. . . . The inability of the American military to disband insurgents so far in both Falluja and the Najaf area highlights the difficulties the occupation has had in dealing with the country's various militias. Many fighters in Najaf appeared to have put away their weapons for now, but Mr. Sadr still remains in power and could mobilize his army at any time. . . . In northern Iraq, insurgents staged an attack in the early morning on a pipeline connecting the oil fields of Kirkuk to the large refinery and power plant in the town of Bayji, a spokesman for the Oil Ministry, Asam Jihad, said. Insurgents also set ablaze an export pipeline leading from Kirkuk to a Turkish port city. The fire was still raging on this afternoon, and video footage showed thick clouds of black smoke filling the sky. . . . In northeastern Baghdad, gunmen raked an American military convoy, setting one truck ablaze, according to Agence France-Presse. There was no immediate report of casualties. . . . The American military said today that gunmen killed two bodyguards of a local politician in Baghdad on Tuesday and seriously wounded the politician. . . . A deputy defense minister in Poland said that six Eastern European soldiers serving under the Polish command south of Baghdad were killed on Tuesday by at least one enemy mortar round hitting a munitions dump. The soldiers were involved in an operation to defuse mines.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:23 AM

Fresh Failures in Iraq
(Rep. Ron Paul, Antiwar.com, 6/5/04)
What a mess! But no one should be surprised. Regime change plans – whether by CIA operations or by preemptive war – almost always go badly. American involvement in installing the Shah of Iran in the fifties, killing Diem in South Vietnam in the sixties, helping Osama bin Laden against the Soviets in the eighties, assisting Saddam Hussein against Iran in the eighties, propping up dictators in many Arab countries, and supporting the destruction of the Palestinian people all have had serious repercussions on American interests, including the loss of American life. We have wasted hundreds of billions of dollars while the old wounds in the Middle East continue to fester. ...The real tragedy is that even those with good intentions who argue the case for our military presence around the world never achieve their stated goals. Not only do the efforts fall short, the unintended consequences in life and limb and dollars spent are always much greater than ever anticipated. The blowback effects literally go on for decades. The clear failure of the policy of foreign interventionism followed by our leaders for more than a hundred years should prompt a reassessment of our philosophy. Tactical changes, or relying more on the U.N., will not solve these problems. Either way the burden will fall on the American taxpayer and the American soldier. Economic law eventually will limit our ability to live off others by credit creation. Eventually trust in the dollar will be diminished, if not destroyed. Those who hold these trillion plus dollars can hold us hostage if it's ever in their interest. It may be that economic law and hostility toward the United States will combine to precipitate an emotionally charged rejection of the dollar. No nation has ever been able to finance excessive foreign entanglements and domestic entitlements through printing press money and borrowing from abroad. Instead of the incessant chant about us forcing democracy on others, why not read our history and see how thirteen nations joined together to form a loose-knit republic with emphasis on local self-government. A policy of non-intervention and strategic independence is the course we should take if we're serious about peace and prosperity. Liberty works!
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 4:50 AM

Berg Beheading Mystery Deepens, did the US do it?
This came from a British film maker. He meticulously examined the video frame by frame. Many oddities appeared. Below is some of that new video information mixed in with some info you may have already read about. . . . Is the killer really Zarqawi? Militant mastermind Zarqawi has announced his name in the video but hidden his face. Why would he do this? The CIA has said it is indeed Zarqawi, but he appears to be reading his own speech from a paper - and was supposedly killed a year ago. . . . Video time frame evidence -The person holding the knife -- allegedly Zarqawi -- has a Black hood at the video's beginning, but there is an edit (the camera time signatures change) and the knifeholder is then wearing a WHITE hood (and no bulletproof vest). . . . So, if we are to assume the timestamps of the two (?) cameras are accurate, this means Berg was beheaded at 13:47:49 (1:47) but at 2:44, nearly an hour later, he is sitting with his head intact. . . . He looks drugged in the video? Was he killed previously and then decapitated for the video after he was dead? There is no blood gushing as would be expected from a severed artery. You can not see his mouth moving in the part of the video where he is supposedly screaming. If he was in Abu Ghraib prison after being previously detained by the U.S. military in Mosul, did American prison guards or American intelligence accidently or on purpose beat him to death, and then use him to stage the on-camera decapitation? . . . Zarqawi has also been reported to have an artificial leg; this is definitely not apparent in the video. Nor is his Jordanian accent, according to experts. The person holding the knife speaks Arabic with a slight Hebrew/Israeli accent, not Jordanian. Also note the gold ring on the "sinister" (toilet-paper-using) hand -- a definite no-no for Muslims. Muslims would wear the ring on the other hand. And Muslims also never wear gold, only silver. . . . Next, the AK-47 carried by one of the men is a "Gilal" -- an Israeli weapon that improves on the AK- 47. Feyadeen and other insurgents almost universally use AK-47s. (And the Israeli Gilal costs a fortune.) The man in the left of the video is standing in the American military stance known as "parade rest", and several of the apparent terrorists are wearing white tennis shoes and bulletproof vests, not usually worn or available to Iraqis, but available to prison guards, American soldiers and American intelligence. The men in the video are much more heavy set than the average Iraqi who has had inadequate diets since American sanctions and, as insurgents, since living in rough conditions in the desert. The little bit of skin that is visible on the men in the video is much fairer than the darker Iraqi skin. . . . At frame 13:46:27, there is an edit and a person with a white ear and a green cap is seen entering from the right. Then the video is re- edited. The green cap is similar to those used at Abu Ghraib prison. At another frame the edge of a US military jacket is visible. . . . Matt Drudge reports that, "The statement in the video was signed off with Zarqawi's name and dated 11 May" , but Berg's body was reported found on May 10th -- the day before the video was apparently made! . . . The body was found and identified as Berg's, but then other reports said his head was not found. So how did they know it was Berg's body. . . . Also in signing off, the video ends in Arabic but then one last sentence slips in "How will it be done?" in English with no Arabic accent. . . . Next, the video hosting website was reported to be in Malaysia, but was discovered to actually located in London. . . . Pay attention. This one is definitely a setup. . . . [Was it] Revenge for the fact that Berg's dad is anti-war and critical of the Bush administration? A diversion from photos of the torture of Iraqi prisoners? A way to get rid of a US spy gone astray? Berg was homeless and a custodian at an American University for awhile, and was kicked out off the campus library computers several times for vagrancy. So how did he suddenly show up in Iraq as a rich business contractor, and with an Israeli stamp in his passport? Was his spying for the Americans, the Israelis, the Iraqs, or all? If he turned anti-war like his dad, did the Americans then have to get rid of him? [For more details see Nick Berg Video : detailed breakdown ]
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posted by Lorenzo 10:12 AM

After Iraq, US Troops Having Trouble Recovering
[COMMENT: This is an important Web site. It has brief stories of the lives of US troops after returning from a tour of duty in Iraq. The site also includes the stories of dependents who lost loved ones in the war. Without question, Bush's unprovoked war on Iraq has been a horrible tragedy for the people of that ill-fated land. What is sometimes overlooked, however, is the price American service personnel and their families for Bush's attempt to impress his father and the Christian right. The following is a brief sampling of these stories, which sound hauntingly like those of many Viet Nam veterans.]

coming home grieving Robert Shrode can't sleep. At night, in the fly-speck town of Guthrie, Ky., in the rented farmhouse he shares with his 20-year-old wife, Debra, he surfs the Internet, roams the house. He lies down and gets up again. For a while, he sweated out his bad dreams on the living-room couch, and it drove Debra crazy. She would come down from the bedroom, touch his shoulder, ask what the problem was. Shrode would just turn his back to her and not say a word. Now she knows better than to ask, though occasionally when the silence between them gets too deep, she'll put it out there, What're you thinking about? ''Iraq,'' he'll say. And then the silence falls again.

coming home denied I can't believe that he is gone, that he won't be coming back." Matthew Laskowski, a chief warrant officer for the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, was serving in Iraq when his helicopter crashed. "It seems like a dream," his father said. "Maybe I'll understand once his body is back with us."

coming home the parents' anger My Son Was Betrayed by the bush administration . . . He must want to tell me something. It all began to make sense, why he was there. He said, are you Sherwood's mother? Are you Sherwood's mother? And I just started to scream and scream and scream. I could hear myself screaming. And he just stood there and he -- a neighbor heard me screaming and came to me and lifted me up. He told us that -- 'I knew that someone had been killed that day.' But he wasn't able to give us information. We haven't gotten so much detail. But it was just -- just a terrible -- the really worst moment of my life.

coming home homeless Four months after giving birth, Ms. Goodwin was sent to Iraq. She served food rations at Baghdad International Airport for several weeks, then spent a few more weeks at the sports arena known as the Olympic Stadium, helping to supply soldiers with things like toilet paper and small armaments. These are among her memories: "the mortar rounds, the gunfights, the car bombings." A war veteran wearing a backpack, pushing a stroller and carrying a baby stayed in another strange hotel room last night, mostly because the city of her birth does not know what to do with her. Welcome home.

coming home a family's outrage Burying a child will no doubt be the hardest task that his mother and I shall ever have to do. The one question I have, and the one question I would like you to answer, is, "Why did my son and every other soldier that was killed maimed and wounded have to suffer settling your vendetta?" My son is gone just when he was laying a strong foundation to build upon for the rest of his life. Now, President Bush, his life has been snuffed out in a meaningless war. Where are all the weapons of mass destruction, where are the stock piles of chemical and biological weapons? Please President, pray for all our fallen heroes and as a tribute to these heroes get our boys and girls out of Iraq now, before too much more blood is shed. Since you waged this unnecessary war on Saddam Hussein the world has become a horrible place to live in. I know my boy is safe now, in a new world free of hate and prejudices where GOD is his president, but you tell me President Bush why he had to go so soon and in such a violent way. Respectfully yours, Richard M. Dvorin

[Please use a few minutes of your time to read more of these stories via the link above. At the very least, these men and women deserve to have us spend some of our time contemplating the horrors Bush's war has inflicted upon so many people.]
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posted by Lorenzo 11:53 AM


I ride the dusty road to Tikrit
in your rusack, in my mind
you are louder than
the rumble of trucks and
the cadence of
boots marching
and men's voices calling
over the clatter of guns

I smell your sweat
trace the path of blood
through your veins
feel the fetal curve of you
your heart is in my eyes
every hour I wait for them to kill you
and wonder if I'll know
when you cease to be

copyright May 7, 2004
Barbara Hatch Vink
Voorheesville, NY 12186

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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:50 PM

Dick Cheney’s Song of America
(David Armstrong, Information Clearing House)
Few writers are more ambitious than the writers of government policy papers, and few policy papers are more ambitious than Dick Cheney’s masterwork. It has taken several forms over the last decade and is in fact the product of several ghostwriters (notably Paul Wolfowitz and Colin Powell), but Cheney has been consistent in his dedication to the ideas in the documents that bear his name, and he has maintained a close association with the ideologues behind them. Let us, therefore, call Cheney the author, and this series of documents the Plan. The Plan was published in unclassified form most recently under the title of Defense Strategy for the 1990s, (pdf) as Cheney ended his term as secretary of defense under the elder George Bush in early 1993, but it is, like “Leaves of Grass,” a perpetually evolving work. It was the controversial Defense Planning Guidance draft of 1992 – from which Cheney, unconvincingly, tried to distance himself – and it was the somewhat less aggressive revised draft of that same year. This June it was a presidential lecture in the form of a commencement address at West Point, and in July it was leaked to the press as yet another Defense Planning Guidance (this time under the pen name of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld). It will take its ultimate form, though, as America’s new national security strategy – and Cheney et al. will experience what few writers have even dared dream: their words will become our reality. The Plan is for the United States to rule the world. The overt theme is unilateralism, but it is ultimately a story of domination. It calls for the United States to maintain its overwhelming military superiority and prevent new rivals from rising up to challenge it on the world stage. It calls for dominion over friends and enemies alike. It says not that the United States must be more powerful, or most powerful, but that it must be absolutely powerful.

The Plan is disturbing in many ways, and ultimately unworkable. Yet it is being sold now as an answer to the “new realities” of the post-September 11 world, even as it was sold previously as the answer to the new realities of the post-Cold War world. For Cheney, the Plan has always been the right answer, no matter how different the questions.

[Comment] ****** And I bet you thought it was about spreading Democracy and Freedom across the Middle East (after WMD and Al Qaeda proved not to be believable, of course) ******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:19 PM

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