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"Fahrenheit 9/11" is the temperature at which Michael Moore's pants burn.
Unfortunately for the anti-war movement, Michael Moore is very popular and has a very popular movie. It's important for us to point out the errors of the Bush administration and the wrongheaded actions of the war in Iraq. However, we should do so with truth and honesty. Michael Moore might be opposed to the war, but he is not an honest man.

Take a look at Spinsanity.org, a site that serves as a watchdog of manipulative political rhetoric. The editors are not conservative at all. Ben Fritz, Bryan Keefer, and Brendan Nyhan have been politically active in Democratic and progressive politics.

Let's count the ways film distorted facts
Despite all the critical notice and box-office success it has achieved, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 continues a pattern of dissembling and inaccuracy found in most of his work.

Moore's antics have become notorious. He distorted the chronology of his first movie, Roger & Me; made numerous factual errors in his books Stupid White Men and Dude, Where's My Country?; and altered footage of a Bush-Quayle ad and unfairly edited a speech by National Rifle Association president Charlton Heston (among other things) in his Academy Award-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine. Although Fahrenheit 9/11 avoids glaring factual errors, it is filled with deceptive half-truths and carefully phrased but unsubstantiated insinuations.

For instance, Moore suggests that relatives of Osama bin Laden, along with other Saudis, obtained special permission to fly out of the United States while air traffic was grounded after Sept. 11. He states: "In the days following Sept. 11, all commercial and private airline traffic was grounded," adding, "But really, who wanted to fly? No one, except the bin Ladens." Moore later says, "It turns out that the White House approved planes to pick up the bin Ladens and numerous other Saudis. At least six private jets and nearly two dozen commercial planes carried the Saudis and the bin Ladens out of the U.S. after Sept. 13th." Moore fails to note that U.S. airspace reopened to commercial aircraft on Sept. 13 and to general aviation on Sept. 14. While technically correct, his language leaves the impression that the bin Ladens left the country before others were allowed to....

... he states that "in 1997, while George W. Bush was governor of Texas, a delegation of Taliban leaders from Afghanistan flew to Houston to meet with Unocal executives to discuss the building of a pipeline through Afghanistan bringing natural gas from the Caspian Sea." Contrary to Moore's implication, however, the fact that Bush was governor of Texas at the time of the Taliban/Unocal meeting does nothing to prove he was somehow involved.

Moore implies that the Afghanistan campaign was really a front for Unocal to create a pipeline: "When the invasion of Afghanistan was complete, we installed its new president, Hamid Karzai. Who was Hamid Karzai? He was a former adviser to Unocal. Bush also appointed as our envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who was also a former Unocal adviser... . Faster than you can say black gold, Texas tea, Afghanistan signed an agreement with her neighboring countries to build a pipeline through Afghanistan, carrying natural gas from the Caspian Sea."

But Unocal dropped its support for the pipeline in 1998. Afghanistan did sign the agreement in 2002, but Unocal is not involved in the project, which is still in its planning stages....

. . . Read more!

posted by Hal 5:24 AM

For Families of Some Killed in Iraq: Grief, Outrage and Protes
 (Jay Shaft, The New Standard, Jul 19 2004)
Many families of US service members killed in Iraq say the pain of having lost a loved one does not grow easier to deal with as time passes. Some say it only worsens. More and more, the families of men and women killed in Iraq are speaking publicly against the war. Jane Bright of West Hills, California, lost her son, Sergeant Evan Ashcraft, a year ago on July 24, 2003, and she says that even after a year, dealing with the loss has not grown easier. "There is no amount of time that could go by and I wouldn't feel the pain of losing my son," she said. "I live with this every day, I wake up and know my wonderful, loving son is not coming back. My grief is not something I could just 'get over'," Bright continued. "I get so mad when people tell me to 'get over it.' How dare they tell me that?" she exclaimed. " I lost a son -- it's my right to publicly mourn, and everyone needs to see it." Like all the parents interviewed for this story -- each of whom has spoken out publicly against the war since, and in some cases prior to, the death of a son -- Zappala said "moving on" seems impossible. "The pain of my son's death does not get any better -- it just gets worse as time goes on," she said. "Every day brings a new agony. The rest of our friends and relatives are trying to move on, and I just can't get to that point." Factors such as concern that their loved ones died for no tangible purpose, as well as the mystery surrounding the circumstances of some of the deaths, weave a common theme among family members taking a stand against the US's continuing operations in Iraq. "It was just so unnecessary, and that hurts me," Zappala said. "He died doing his assigned job, but he never had any idea of how to really do it. He just did his duty because they told him it was what he had to do. The government has completely failed to prepare our troops, or give them the proper equipment or ensure their safety. "They still haven't told me how he really died," she added. Sue Niederer's son, Lieutenant Seth Dvorin, died on February 7, 2004. He was 24 years old. Niederer reported that familiar kind of difficulty recovering from her loss. Seth had married his wife, Kelly Harris, just prior to leaving for Iraq last summer. "Time isn't making this go away or making it easier to cope with," she said. "Months have gone by. You tell me if I sound like I am getting over his death. I don't think so! Not as long as our government sends our children to be sacrificed." Niederer, who lives in Pennington, New Jersey, is insistent that Seth's death served no purpose. "I'll say it again. As many times as I have to just so people understand. My son died for absolutely nothing! Absolutely nothing! Am I still angry? You bet I am! Am I still hurting worse than ever? You better believe it!" Celeste Zappala blames her own lack of healing on her assessment that the military failed to adequately prepare her son Sherwood's unit for the policing role it was ordered to carry out. "How can you get over your son's death when you know he died because he didn't have the proper training?" Zappala asked. "He was never trained for the job of an MP; he was not a policeman. How can I accept his death when it was so unnecessary and such a waste of a good life? He is gone now," she said vehemently, "because they neglected his needs." Sue Niederer also believes her son Seth's unit was unprepared for the mission it was assigned. "My son died because he didn't have the right equipment for himself or his men," she said. "When he was home on leave he was on the phone to his commander at Fort Drum. He was demanding [global positioning system technology] and computers to protect the safety of his men. Did he get them? You figure it out!" Jane Bright defiantly insists on her prerogative to speak out against the war as a way of dealing with her pain. "Bush wants us to just move on like nothing happened," Bright said. "No," she replied defiantly. "I won't be quiet until everyone knows how bad it hurts. I won't be able to 'get over it' as long as more of our children are dying in Iraq."  Sue Niederer expressed concern that the complicity of other soldiers' families is prolonging the healing process for those whose loved ones have already died. "How can the people stand for this to happen?" she asked. "Do they want their child to die like mine? What is it going to take to stop this? I can't start healing and getting over my pain as long as there are more of our loved ones dying. It makes my son's death pointless." Celeste Zappala said the killing "must be stopped, before we lose our entire future." She added, "What about all the others who have died since then and will keep on dying? I want to see it stop for all the families and the soldiers most of all. "How sad," Zappala continued. "How sad that we are still letting this go on. Our voices must make an impression on the people. They have to hear us because we are the ones suffering the most." Niederer's defiance is palpable. "Face me, President Bush," she taunted as if the president might be listening in. "You are a coward! Come on, look me in the eye and tell me my son's death was worth it! Tell me this war was right and necessary and I'll deck you! You send our children to die and then have the nerve to say they made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. You don't even have the courage to face me or any of the other families! How cowardly! How cowardly!" While more and more families grieve, units of National Guard, Reserves, and active duty are being called up and notified of the dates they will be sent off to Iraq. The military has even told some troops they are expected to ship out next February or later, confirming most analysts' predictions that the Pentagon and Bush administration have plans to keep troops deployed well into 2006. Compounding families' losses is their suspicion that their fellow Americans would prefer to ignore the costs of war, if the alternative means facing even part of the pain others cannot avoid. "Is anyone really paying attention?" Cindy Sheehan asked during the interview. "Is this really making a difference? I just don't see it having much impact watching all the people keep going on like nothing is happening. Is this really going to make a difference?"

[COMMENT] *****Mrs. Sheehan hit the nail on the head.  Our fellow Americans DO prefer to ignore the costs of war, as long as it does not get personal. Either they do not have children serving in bondage to the state or, if they do, well then, they believe that "it'll never happen to my Johnny..." - kind of a head-in-the-sand sort of catharsis.  I'm continually amazed at the Americans who can sit idly by and allow the warmongers to have their way. Do they not understand that what the President [sic] and his followers do is not in the best interest of the country? They serve only themselves and their financial backers. And, more telling, it is not their children who are dying. Rest assured that when they reinstitute the draft, the Bush twins will not be drafted. Ah, but that is another story for another time...but that's just this old Curmudgeon's opinion...*****
. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 10:12 AM

New U.S. Torture Scandal: Videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison
(Information Clearinghouse report on Seymour Hersh speech, July 14, 2004)
He called the prison scene "a series of massive crimes, criminal activity by the president and the vice president, by this administration anyway…war crimes." . . . The outrages have cost us the support of moderate Arabs, says Hersh. "They see us as a sexually perverse society." . . . Hersh describes a Pentagon in crisis. The defense department budget is “in incredible chaos,” he says, with large sums of cash missing, including something like $1 billion that was supposed to be in Iraq. . . . "The disaffecion inside the Pentagon is extremeley accute," Hersh says. He tells the story of an officer telling Rumsfeld how bad things are, and Rummy turning to a ranking general yes-man who reassured him that things are just fine. Says Hersh, "The Secretary of Defense is simply incapable of hearing what he doesn’t want to hear." . . . The Iraqi insurgency, he says,was operating in 1-to-3 man cells a year ago, now in 10-15 man cells, and despite the harsh questioning, "we still know nothing about them...we have no tactical information." . . . He says the foreign element among insurgents is overstated, and that bogeyman Zarqawi is "a composite figure" hyped by our government. . . . The war, he says, has escalated to "fullscale, increasingly intense military activity." . . . Hersh described the folks in charge of US policy as neoconservative cultists" who have taken the government over, and show "how fragile our democracy is." . . . He ripped the supine US press, pledged to bring home all the facts he could, said he was not sure he could deliver all the daming info he suspects about Bush administration responsibility for Abu Ghraib.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 4:41 PM

Allawi shot inmates in cold blood, say witnesses
(Paul McGeough, Sidney Morning Herald, July 17, 2004)
Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.  They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs.  They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they "deserved worse than death".   The Prime Minister's office has denied the entirety of the witness accounts in a written statement to the Herald, saying Dr Allawi had never visited the centre and he did not carry a gun.  But the informants told the Herald that Dr Allawi shot each young man in the head as about a dozen Iraqi policemen and four Americans from the Prime Minister's personal security team watched in stunned silence.  Iraq's Interior Minister, Falah al-Naqib, is said to have looked on and congratulated him when the job was done. Mr al-Naqib's office has issued a verbal denial.  The names of three of the alleged victims have been obtained by the Herald.
One of the witnesses claimed that before killing the prisoners Dr Allawi had told those around him that he wanted to send a clear message to the police on how to deal with insurgents.  "The prisoners were against the wall and we were standing in the courtyard when the Interior Minister said that he would like to kill them all on the spot. Allawi said that they deserved worse than death - but then he pulled the pistol from his belt and started shooting them."  Re-enacting the killings, one witness stood three to four metres in front of a wall and swung his outstretched arm in an even arc, left to right, jerking his wrist to mimic the recoil as each bullet was fired. Then he raised a hand to his brow, saying: "He was very close. Each was shot in the head."  Given Dr Allawi's role as the leader of the US experiment in planting a model democracy in the Middle East, allegations of a return to the cold-blooded tactics of his predecessor are likely to stir a simmering debate on how well Washington knows its man in Baghdad, and precisely what he envisages for the new Iraq.  There is much debate and rumour in Baghdad about the Prime Minister's capacity for brutality, but this is the first time eyewitness accounts have been obtained.  A former CIA officer, Vincent Cannisatraro, recently told The New Yorker: "If you're asking me if Allawi has blood on his hands from his days in London, the answer is yes, he does. He was a paid Mukhabarat [intelligence] agent for the Iraqis, and he was involved in dirty stuff."  In Baghdad, varying accounts of the shootings are interpreted by observers as useful to a little-known politician who, after 33 years in exile, needs to prove his leadership credentials as a "strongman" in a war-ravaged country that has no experience of democracy.  Dr Allawi's statement dismissed the allegations as rumours instigated by enemies of his interim government.  But in a sharp reminder of the Iraqi hunger for security above all else, the witnesses did not perceive themselves as whistle-blowers. In interviews with the Herald they were enthusiastic about such killings, with one of them arguing: "These criminals were terrorists. They are the ones who plant the bombs."  Before the shootings, the 58-year-old Prime Minister is said to have told the policemen they must have courage in their work and that he would shield them from any repercussions if they killed insurgents in the course of their duty.  The witnesses said the Iraqi police observers were "shocked and surprised". But asked what message they might take from such an act, one said: "Any terrorists in Iraq should have the same destiny. This is the new Iraq.  "Allawi wanted to send a message to his policemen and soldiers not to be scared if they kill anyone - especially, they are not to worry about tribal revenge. He said there would be an order from him and the Interior Ministry that all would be fully protected.  "He told them: 'We must destroy anyone who wants to destroy Iraq and kill our people.'  US officials in Iraq have not made an outright denial of the allegations. An emailed response to questions from the Herald to the US ambassador, John Negroponte, said: "If we attempted to refute each [rumour], we would have no time for other business. As far as this embassy's press office is concerned, this case is closed."
[COMMENT] ***** The New Iraq - same as the old Iraq - except now we own it and control it...but, that's just this old Curmudgeon's opinion.*****
. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 12:38 PM

Iraqi academics targeted in murder spree
(Robert Fisk
, The Independent, 14 July 2004)
The Mongols stained the Tigris black with the ink of the Iraqi books they destroyed. Today's Mongols prefer to destroy the Iraqi teachers of books. . . . Since the Anglo-American invasion, they have murdered at least 13 academics at the University of Baghdad alone and countless others across Iraq. History professors, deans of college and Arabic tutors have all fallen victim to the war on learning. Only six weeks ago - virtually unreported, of course - the female dean of the college of law in Mosul was beheaded in her bed, along with her husband. . . . Just who the modern-day Mongols are remains a painful mystery of our story. Disgruntled students they are not. Baathist-hunters some of them might be - all heads of academic departments were forced to join Saddam's party - but none of the murdered Baghdad university staff were believed to be anything more than card-carriers. . . . Even the former president of the university, Dr Mohamed Arawi - a surgeon shot at his clinic a year ago - was regarded as a liberal, humane man. But professors now watch the doors of their lecture theatres as carefully as they do their students. And who can blame them? After all, Dr Sabri al-Bayatiy of the department of geography was shot dead only a month ago, just outside the arts department, in front of many of his students. . . . Talk to the academics at Baghdad University, and the names roll out. Dr Nafa Aboud of the department of Arabic was murdered just two months ago. Dr Hissam Sharif of the department of history was sitting at the door of his Baghdad home when the killers came, shooting him and two friends. . . . Dr Falah al-Dulaimi, assistant dean of college at Mustansariya University in Baghdad, was shot in his college office last year. . . . "What can we do?" Saad Hassani of Baghdad University's English department asked me. "Just a month ago, my son Ali - a student in our biology department - was kidnapped. . . . Other university staff suspect that there is a campaign to strip Iraq of its academics, to complete the destruction of Iraq's cultural identity which began with the destruction of the Baghdad Koranic library, the national archives and the looting of the archaeological museum when the American army entered Baghdad. . . . "Maybe the Israelis are trying to make sure that we can never have an intellectual infrastructure here." . . . "Yes, you suggest it could be the 'resistance'. But what is the 'resistance'? We don't know who it is. Is it nationalist? Why should they want to get rid of us? Is it religious? The arts department has become a pulpit for Islamism. But these people are part of the university." . . . In the early weeks of his occupation proconsulship, Paul Bremer fired all senior academics who were members of the Baath party. "They went home and tried to leave the country," another Baghdad arts professor complained. "But those who stayed are now mostly too frightened to return because they have been named - and they fear for their lives." . . . Yesterday morning, I visited one arts department at the university to find it entirely empty of staff. Each teacher's room was closed with a large padlock.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:18 PM

US-led coalition in Iraq is shrinking
(Xinhuanet, July 15, 2004)
The original 36-nation coalition led by the United States in the Iraq war has shrunk to 32 members and will shrink further soon, the Washington Post reported on Thursday. . . . Four nations -- Spain, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras -- have left the coalition while Thailand, Norway, New Zealand and the Philippines are getting ready to leave the international force. . . . The latest troop withdrawal wave came when the Philippine government offered to withdraw its 50-strong contingent in Iraq "as soon as possible" after a militant group threatened to kill a Filipino hostage unless Manila withdraws its contingent ahead of schedule. . . . In contrast to the Philippines, Norway quietly pulled out its 155 military engineers this month, leaving behind only about 15 personnel to train Iraqi security forces. . . . New Zealand also intends to withdraw its 60 engineers by September and Thailand plans to pull out its more than 450 troops that same month, the newspaper said.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 10:33 AM

God Take Bush
What follows is satire. As you know, satire is the use of ridicule, irony, sarcasm, etc. to expose folly or vice. I point this out here because many of us who continue to exercise our right of free speech have begun to censor ourselves out of fear . . . fear of a knock on the door in the middle of the night. It is a very sad state of affairs when people in the formerly free USA have to be careful about what they say. When Bush's spokesman warned, "People had better be careful what they say," we knew where this country was headed, and it made us sad. Most thinking people, liberals and conservatives alike, are aware that this nation is no longer a democratic republic but has somehow morphed into a fascist oligarchy. (Check out the definitions of those words in a dictionary and come to your own conclusions before you brand me anti-American, as you are now branding many of my fellow Viet Nam vets who are protesting the "War President." What we hope to see one day is a Peace President. Sorry . . . I got carried away . . . What I want to tell all you good people who are employed by the government is that what follows is in no way whatsoever to be considered a threat of any kind to anyone. It's ridicule of Bush and of right-wing Fundamentalist Christians. And it is meant to be heard with a smile on your face. Sometimes We the People just want to have a little fun :-).

and now, let the satire begin ...

The following is a message from Jim Matus of Paranoise:

Dear Progressive Radio friends,

     This is my new Paranoise vs. Bush "Rant".
It's a satirical piece where I play a preacher who tells his congregation that
Bush has done such a wonderful job that it is now time for his great reward
in heaven. At the end of his sermon the entire congregation erupts into the
very catchy new hymn "I Wish That God Would Take Bush".

     Please play this as often as possible and make
copies and give them to all your friends. I want everyone in Amerika to know
this song by the time of the Republican convention so we can all sing Bush out
of office.

     Tell your listeners that they can get a free
copy by going to my web site (www.paranoise.com)
hitting "contact" and sending me their ground address.


Jim Matus

For your listening pleasure

     The link below is to an MP3 recording of track
3 of Jim Matus' new rant. If Windows Media Player is your default MP3 application,
a left click on the file name will launch and play the file. To download and
save the file to your computer, right click and select the “Save target
as ... ” menu option. [Download Windows Media Player]

I Wish That God Would Take Bush

(2.8 MB, approx. 3 mins.)

a note from Matrix Masters...

Should anyone come across any Flash presentations syncd to this
song, please send us the link or a copy so we can post it on our site. Thanks!

. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 5:55 PM

An old vet's opinion: Fools and fanatics
(Jack Dalton, Online Journal, July 9, 2004)
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, right or wrong, is not only un-patriotic, but it is morally treasonable to the American people." - President Theodore Roosevelt
History teaches many lessons one of which is about war - war not only can, but does bring out the worst in people. This is clearly evidenced here in the U.S. Blind hatred and xenophobic responses seem to rule the day. Stand opposed to Bush and his cabal, openly - there isn't debate on issues - and there are a lot of "citizens" that will lambaste other "citizens" with venomous name-calling and threats, then call it "patriotism." Write and publish an article, essay, or simply a short op/ed critical of Bush or his collection of "Mayberry Machiavellis" and you would be amazed at what comes forth from the good "Christian" folk that seemingly view Bush one step below the "second coming." No debate on the issues, just venom, hate, name calling and threats. There is not a writer that I've talked with that does not receive "hate" mail. Most of it isn't worth the time of day and is treated accordingly. Occasionally there is an email that spurs some good debate, although I must admit it does not happen often, unfortunately. Over the past few months however, I've noticed a marked increase in the level of just flat out venomous hate mail and threats from some of my fellow "citizens." If throwing mindless threats and venom filled hate mail at their fellow citizens is what these good up-standing "Christian" folk mean by "patriotism" I want no part of it. If what they mean by "patriot" is to silently have "faith" and "trust" and then obediently following, without question, those that profess to be this nation's "leaders." you can count me out.
[COMMENT] Worth the read, but that's just this old Curmudgeon's opinion
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 1:41 PM

Rumsfeld Personally Approved Abu Ghraib Torture, says general in charge
(Julian Coman, Telegraph.co.uk, 04/07/2004)
The former head of the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad has for the first time accused the American Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, of directly authorising Guantanamo Bay-style interrogation tactics. . . . Brig-Gen Janis Karpinski, who commanded the 800th Military Police Brigade, which is at the centre of the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal, said that documents yet to be released by the Pentagon would show that Mr Rumsfeld personally approved the introduction of harsher conditions of detention in Iraq. . . . During inquiries into the scandal, she has repeatedly maintained that the treatment of Iraqi detainees was taken out of her hands by higher-ranking officials, acting on orders from Washington. . . . "Since all this came out," she replied, "I've not only seen, but I've been asked about some of those documents, that he [Mr Rumsfeld] signed and agreed to." . . . Asked whether the documents have been made public, Gen Karpinski replied "No" and went on to describe the methods approved in them as involving "dogs, food deprivation and sleep deprivation". . . . Last month, the White House took the unusual step of releasing hundreds of internal documents and debates concerning interrogation procedures at Guantanamo. Extreme interrogation techniques at the camp, it was revealed, now require the explicit approval of Mr Rumsfeld. . . . Gen Karpinski has been suspended from duty pending ongoing investigations into abuse of prisoners at the Baghdad prison. In a recent interview with the BBC, she complained of being turned into a scapegoat for the scandal, arguing that the running of the prison was taken out of her hands. . . . In a separate embarrassment for the Department of Defence last week, six recent studies, leaked to the Los Angeles Times, heavily criticised the military for failing to screen adequately potential recruits with violent and even criminal backgrounds. . . . According to a 1998 report by Mr Flyer, one third of military recruits had arrest records. A 1995 report found that a quarter of serving army personnel had committed one or more criminal offences while on active duty. In his 2003 study, Mr Flyer said that military personnel officers had been reluctant to toughen up screening procedures, fearing that the result would be a failure to meet recruitment goals.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 9:54 AM

Army assessment says troops lacked basic necessities in Iraq
(David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times, July 4, 2004)
American soldiers who defeated the Iraqi regime 15 months ago received virtually none of the critical spare parts they needed to keep their tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles running. . . . They ran chronically short of food, water and ammunition. Their radios often failed them. Their medics had to forage for medical supplies, artillery gunners had to cannibalize parts from captured Iraqi guns, and intelligence units provided little useful information about the enemy. . . . These revelations come from the Army itself. In the first internal assessment of the war in Iraq, an exhaustive army study has concluded that American forces prevailed despite supply and logistical failures, poor intelligence, communication breakdowns and futile attempts at psychological warfare. . . . the report also describes a broken supply system that left crucial spare parts and lubricants on warehouse shelves in Kuwait while tankers outside Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, ripped parts from broken-down tanks and raided Iraqi supplies of oil and lubricants. . . . "No one had anything good to say about parts delivery, from the privates at the front to the generals" at the U.S. command center in Kuwait, the study's authors concluded after conducting 2,300 interviews and studying 119,000 documents. . . . Among other highlights, the report revealed that the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad before cheering Iraqis was the brainchild of a U.S. Army colonel, with help from psychological operations, or PSYOPS, units. . . . As the authors point out their battle-by-battle narrative, there were many precarious moments when U.S. units were critically short of fuel and ammunition, with little understanding of the forces arrayed against them. . . . The study, by the Operation Iraqi Freedom Study Group at Fort Leavenworth, called ammunition re-supply "problematic" and said the medical supply system "failed to work." . . . Engineers desperate for explosives foraged for abandoned Iraqi explosives and tore apart mine-clearing charges to use the explosives to blow up captured Iraqi equipment. . . . Many soldiers plunged into combat not knowing whether they had enough food or water to sustain themselves in punishing heat and blinding sandstorms. . . . "Stocks of food barely met demand," the study said. "There were times when the supply system was incapable of providing sufficient MREs (meals ready to eat) for the soldiers fighting Iraqi forces." . . . A 3rd Infantry tank commander whose company was attacked by Iraqi fighters hidden in an elaborate bunker and trench system in Baghdad April 8 told the Los Angeles Times that he later learned from a French journalist that newspapers had reported details of the bunker network. Yet his own intelligence officers had told him nothing. . . . The study, which covers events in Kuwait and Iraq until President Bush declared major combat operations over on May 1, 2003, does not address the insurgency, which has killed far more Americans than were killed during the so-called "combat phase." Nor does the study discuss the Pentagon's failure to anticipate or control the looting and chaos after the collapse of the Iraqi regime in April 2003. . . . The principal authors -retired Col. Gregory Fontenot, Lt. Col. E.J. Degen and Lt. Col. David Tohn - warned that Iraqi forces could have created significant problems if they had attacked relatively undefended U.S. units staging in Kuwait in the winter of 2002-2003. Those units arrived without significant firepower or reinforcements and were vulnerable to a surprise attack.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 1:03 PM

Saddam: Confused? Shadow of his old self? Hardly
(Robert Fisk
, The Independent, 02 July 2004)
Bags beneath his eyes, beard greying, finger-jabbing with anger, Saddam was still the same fox, alert, cynical, defiant, abusive, proud. Yet history must record that the new "independent" government in Baghdad yesterday gave Saddam Hussein an initial trial hearing that was worthy of the brutal old dictator. . . . He was brought to court in chains and handcuffs. The judge insisted that his own name should be kept secret. The names of the other judges were kept secret. The location of the court was kept secret. There was no defence counsel. . . . For hours, the Iraqi judges managed to censor Saddam's evidence from the soundtrack of the videotaped proceedings - so that the world should not hear the wretched man's defence. Even CNN was forced to admit that it had been given tapes of the hearing "under very controlled circumstances". . . . This was the first example of "new" Iraq's justice system at work - yet the tapes of the court appeared on CNN with the logo "Cleared by US Military". So what did the Iraqis and their American mentors want to hide? . . . Perhaps the Americans and the Iraqis they have appointed to run the country were taken by surprise. Saddam, we were all told over the past few days, was "disorientated", "downcast", "confused", a "shadow of his former self" and other clichés. These were the very words used to describe him on the American networks from Baghdad yesterday. But the moment the mute videotape began to air, a silent movie in colour, the old combative Saddam was evidently still alive. He insisted the Americans were promoting his trial, not the Iraqis. His face became flushed and he showed visible contempt towards the judge. "This is all a theatre," he shouted. "The real criminal is Bush." . . . Scornful he was, defeated he was not. And of course, watching that face yesterday, one had to ask oneself how much Saddam had reflected on the very real crimes with which he was charged: Halabja, Kuwait, the suppression of the Shia Muslim and Kurdish uprisings in 1991, the tortures and mass killings. . . . One looked into those big, tired, moist eyes and wondered if he understood pain and grief and sin in the way we mere mortals think we do. . . . When Judge Juhi said he represented the coalition, Saddam admonished him. Iraqis should judge Iraqis but not on behalf of foreign powers, he snapped. "Remember you're a judge, don't talk for the occupiers." . . . Here was the old arrogance that we were familiar with, the president, the rais who believed he was immune from his own laws, that he was above the law, outside the law. Those big black eyebrows that used to twitch whenever he was angry, began to move threateningly, arching up and down like little drawbridges above his eyes. . . . I think he regarded brutality as strength, cruelty as justice, pain as mere hardship, death as something endured by others. . . . "I respect the will of the people," he said at one stage. "This is not a court - it is an investigation." . . . The key moment came at that point. Saddam said the court was illegal because the Anglo-American war which brought it into being was illegal - it had no backing from the UN Security Council. Then Saddam crouched slightly and said with controlled irony: "Am I not supposed to meet with lawyers? Just for 10 minutes?" . . . And one had to have a heart of stone not to remember how many of his victims must have begged, in just the same way, for just 10 more minutes.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 2:44 PM

Bremer's 'Israel Flag' now as gone as he is
"That was the flag of Israel," hissed one
man on Baghdad's Saddoun Street.
"Another occupier."

Mid-East Realities - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org - 1 July 2004: One really has to wonder just how competent these American neocons really are beyond all the imagery, flag-waving, and sloganeering. Just what were Paul Bremer and his neocon handlers back at the Pentagon and the White House thinking when they tried to plant that new blue-striped flag in Iraq where it was quite literally thrown up and out pretty quickly. Oh yes, the formerly enthroned "Iraqi Governing Council" had its fingers all over the new flag as well...in the beginning that is. Remember them? Well...that's pretty much the same bunch of guys who more recently reconstituted themselves, with all that high-price p.r. help the Americans have given them, to become what is now known as the "Interim Iraqi Government". But if these guys have been making policies and decisions about the future of Iraq and the Middle East in the same way they did about a new Iraqi flag....well then their chaos, incompetence, corruption, and miserable failures all need be underscored even more that we had previously realized. And that is saying a lot!
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 2:38 PM

A King George quiz for July 4th
(Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, 01 July 2004)

On this July 4th, not a week after our regime of plunderers, having done their best to strip down Iraq economically (as they are also strip-mining our own country), handed a hollow "sovereignty" to Iyad Allawi, the leader of a former Iraqi terrorist organization, it's worth rereading that inspiriting document, the Declaration of Independence. Without a teacher looking over your shoulder, consider the words of the men who founded these United States as they reject an earlier King George who had inflicted on them "a history of repeated injuries and usurpations," who had "affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power." Let yourself be stirred by the thought that to secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, "governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." But don't let me quote it to you. Go look at it yourself, and read those first two paragraphs aloud.

Then take a moment to read a bit of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, the degraded and shameful document of complaints, caveats, and lies by which a pusillanimous Congress supinely surrendered to our President its power to declare war and so let him lead us, unhindered, into our present pass. (Note the crucial role in the document of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction -- the risk that Saddam's regime would "either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so" -- and of "terrorist organizations," especially al-Qaeda, "known to be in Iraq," and of the linkage by proximity of the 9/11 attacks and Saddam's Iraq.)

Then try your hand at Stephen Shalom's July 4th quiz below [CLICK FOR QUIZ] which combines parts of the Declaration of Independence issued against one King George with events of our moment...
. . . Read more!

posted by moshido praxis 10:50 AM

Saddam's defiance strikes chords with Iraq
(Mitchell Prothero, UPI, July 1, 2004)
Although a series of specific charges are expected to be filed before his trial begins -- which could take months to prepare for -- the broad outline made Thursday included the murder of religious figures and political appointees, displacement and genocide of the Kurdish people, and the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. . . . But in stark contract the muddy bearded figure found hiding in a "spider" hole last December by American troops, Saddam took a tone of defiance against the proceedings, even refusing to sign paperwork that he understood the charges and demanding that the judge refer to him as the president of Iraq, "because it reflects the will of the Iraqi people." . . . when the charges were outlined, Saddam became defiant on the discussion of his invasion of Kuwait. . . . "As the president of Iraq and the head of the armed forces, which went in, in an official manner," he said, according to an early translation of one portion of the exchange. . . . "Is this a right of an official of the Republic of Iraq?" he asked. "This is a matter of the presidency." . . . According to a pool report, he defended the invasion of Kuwait because "Kuwaitis were turning Iraqi women into whores for 10 dollars, should Iraqi take that? I did that for the Iraqi people. How can you defend these dogs?" . . . When reprimanded for his language by the judge who called it a legal proceeding, Saddam replied, "This is all a theater, the real criminal is Bush." . . . Upon refusing to sign the documents that laid out the broad outline of charges against him, Saddam also declared that "I object to the entire proceeding." . . . According to pool reporters in the room, Saddam's demeanor and appearance was generally impressive compared to the figure seen in his December capture. His beard was neatly trimmed and his charcoal-colored suit dapper, but without a necktie. . . . The reports indicated that he was defiant and engaged in debating various points in the proceedings and showed absolutely no remorse. Iraqi officials also said that Saddam was shocked to discover yesterday that he would be held and tried by Iraqis, who he still seems to consider his supporters. . . . But the interim Iraqi government -- which cannot make major policy changes until elections planned for next year -- faces a huge problem. U.S.-appointed administrator L. Paul Bremer, who left his post Monday, outlawed the death penalty in Iraq, an outcome that is almost mandatory in the eyes of many Iraqis. . . . even Saddam's critics seemed to take some national pride in seeing the man that ruled them for so long looking strong and defiant. . . . "To see him pathetic when he was caught was a shame on all Iraqis, because we had been so powerfully ruled by a man that seemed to be such a coward," one man said, who would not give his name. "Now this is the Saddam that we knew -- and even if you hated him -- you feel proud to see him act like a man." . . . Saddam tried to have (Prime Minister Iyad) Allawi killed with an axe," said an Iraqi who gave his name as Osama. "How can we trust them to give him a fair trial? He should be tried outside Iraq by people who he hasn't tried to kill." . . . "Saddam will never really be tried for he knows all the secrets of Bush and America," one said. "He will tell the world about them and they can't let that happen."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 9:54 AM

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