Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Editorial: Let’s clear away the propaganda and concentrate on the meaning of Memorial Day. Since the Civil War, it has been a day to remember those who died in action. They are the heroes we celebrate this day, and more than 1,800 have joined the memorial rolls since the outbreak of war in
They were men and women serving on the treacherous front lines and working the dangerous supply routes. They were 19-year-olds out of high school and "weekend warriors" old enough to be their fathers.
They died for
Except this - a government that was either smarter or more honest would not have squandered so many lives. The war in
That's not, of course, the story we hear from the White House. The people running this war have signed on to a different narrative altogether: feel-good, strutting, flag-waving. Naturally, it plays to the image of brave, heroic troops in the field - but, quite unnaturally, it values fiction over reality.
At the beginning of the
If the Bush administration truly wanted to memorialize the war dead, it wouldn't spirit them into Dover Air Force Base under cover of a photo blackout - as if the White House were ashamed of those who died abroad. If the president truly wished to honor their memory, he would demonstrate to the nation that the government that has botched so much of the war at least has some inkling as to how to draw it to a successful conclusion - so that the dead will not have died in vain.
But critics of the war have a particular responsibility, too. The best way to honor the memory of all those American heroes who have been killed in action is not to lose faith, or hope, but to remain engaged, to hold the administration to account, to seek out and advocate ways to achieve a real peace in
War News for Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed in bomb attack on security position in
Bring ‘em on: Governor of Al Anbar province killed in clashes between US forces and the guerillas who abducted him. Four guerillas were killed and three wounded in the battle. A
Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi soldiers killed and nine wounded in truck bomb attack on military checkpoint in Baquba.
Bring ‘em on: Iraqi journalist for state-run TV station killed in
Bring ‘em on: Senior Kurdish official slain by gunmen in
Helicopter crash: One Iraqi and four US Air Force servicemen killed in helicopter crash near Baghdad, cause unknown.
Helicopter crash: Four Italian military personnel killed in helicopter crash southeast of Nasiriyah, cause unknown.
Prelude?: Explosions rip through marketplaces, scattering blood and vegetables and leaving women wailing in the alleys. Bodies bob in rivers and are dug up from garbage dumps and parks. Kidnappers troll the streets, sirens howl through morning prayers and mortar rounds whistle against skylines of minarets. Iraqis awake each day to the sounds of violence. With little respite, many wonder whether strange, terrible forces are arrayed against them. They fear that weeks of sectarian and clan violence, claiming the lives of all types from imams to barefoot fishermen, are a prelude to civil war.
Nearly 700 people have been killed in car bombings and by shootings and beheadings in the last month. What concerns
Firing stun grenades, American soldiers burst into the home of Mohsen Abdul-Hamid, head of the largest Sunni Arab political party, shortly after dawn. They forced a hood over his head and dragged him away along with his three sons.
A number of Sunni politicians and religious leaders have been accused of links to
A Sunni Kurd, he is widely considered a moderate and played a leading role in bringing Sunni Arabs who boycotted January's elections back into the political process.
He was freed 10 hours later, but the
It appeared that the Americans had not sought permission for the raid from the Iraqi government, again raising questions about its supposed sovereignty. It also threatened the most serious rift between
Three quarters gone: The chief of police in Basra admitted yesterday that he had effectively lost control of three-quarters of his officers and that sectarian militias had infiltrated the force and were using their posts to assassinate opponents.
Speaking to the Guardian, General Hassan al-Sade said half of his 13,750-strong force was secretly working for political parties in
Other officers were politically neutral but had no interest in policing and did not follow his orders, he told the Guardian.
"I trust 25% of my force, no more."
Qaim: More families are reportedly leaving the western Iraqi town of al-Qaim in fear because of fighting, according to local aid agencies.
Hundreds of families remain displaced on the outskirts of the town, 320 km west of the capital,
According to the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) nearly a thousand families were displaced and living in the desert of al-Jazera'a, west of al-Qaim but were returning when the offensive ended, leaving only 100 families there.
However, aid workers now say that hundreds more have started to flee the town again because of the possibility of another conflict starting in coming days.
Another story they can't get straight: Saddam Hussein could go on trial for crimes against humanity within two months, far earlier than expected,
Asked in an interview televised on CNN when Saddam's trial would begin, Talabani said: "I hope within two months."
Leading Iraqi politicians have said several times that the trial could start within months. But Iraqi prosecutors and their
Iraqi leaders hope that trials of Saddam and his allies will help restore public confidence, sapped by relentless insurgent violence and political bickering that delayed the formation of a cabinet for months.
Maybe not in its last throes: Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said
The insurgency, described as in its ``last throes'' by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney on Cable News Network's ``Larry King Live'' program last night, isn't going to fade away soon, Zebari told the Security Council. He said violence might escalate as
``We anticipate that the campaign of destruction and intimidation will continue, perpetuated by a deadly mix of remnants of the former regime determined to turn back the clock, and foreign elements, whose sole agenda is to destroy the ongoing political process,'' Zebari said.
Fallujah: Today, I did what few internationals have dared to do, I went to Fallujah.
Fallujah is completely surrounded by US Forces, the only way in or out is through one of four very restrictive checkpoints. People normally have to wait hours, but since we had our magic
Big Dick Speaks
A pre-Dick-tion: The insurgency in
In a wide-ranging interview on CNN's "Larry King Live," Cheney cited the recent push by Iraqi forces to crack down on insurgent activity in
The vice president said he expected the war would end during President Bush's second term, which ends in 2009.
"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time," Cheney said. "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."
“There's overwhelming evidence there was a connection between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government. I am very confident that there was an established relationship there." - Vice President Cheney, 1/22/04
“There was a relationship between
“We believe Saddam has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” – Vice President Cheney, 3/16/03
“[Saddam] is actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time.”- Vice President Cheney, 3/24/02
“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.” –Vice President Cheney, 8/26/02
“I think has been fairly significant success in terms of putting Iraq back together again…and certainly wouldn't lead me to suggest or think that the strategy is flawed or needs to be changed.” – Vice President Cheney, 9/14/03
“We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. . . . I think it will go relatively quickly... (in) weeks rather than months.” – Vice President Cheney, 3/16/03
Damn, Looks Like Amnesty International Really Struck A Nerve!
Commander Codpiece squeals: President Bush on Tuesday dismissed a human rights report as "absurd" for its harsh criticism of U.S. treatment of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying the allegations were made by prisoners "who hate America."
"It's an absurd allegation. The
With the death toll climbing daily in
"I think the Iraqi people dealt the insurgents a serious blow when we had the elections," Bush said. "In other words, what the insurgents fear is democracy because democracy is the opposition of their vision."
On the Amnesty International report, Bush said, "It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of the allegations by people who were held in detention, people who hate
Big Dick squeals: Vice President Dick Cheney says he's offended by a human rights group's report criticizing conditions at the prison camp for terror suspects at
The report Amnesty International released last week said prisoners at the U.S. Navy base in
"Frankly, I was offended by it," Cheney said in the videotaped interview. "For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the
“Bantz Craddock” squeals (What kind of parents would name their kid “Bantz” anyway?): Calling it "a shrill assessment," Army Gen. Bantz Craddock on Friday rejected Amnesty International's characterization of the
Craddock lamented criticism of the Pentagon's premier prison for terror suspects in his first on-the-record
He bristled at the language the human rights group used in its third annual and harshest rebuke of the
The London-based human rights group said the prison violates law through a practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention of men the Pentagon says are al-Qaida or Taliban members or sympathizers.
Little Dick squeals: Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the
The human rights group Amnesty International released a report last week calling the prison camp "the gulag of our time."
Myers said that report was "absolutely irresponsible." He said the
"This is a different kind of struggle, a different kind of war," Myers said on "Fox News Sunday."
A Different Kind Of Struggle, A Different Kind Of War
Bladder failure: One Guantanamo prisoner told a military panel that American troops beat him so badly he wets his pants now. Another detainee claimed
Tales of alleged abuse and forced confessions are among some 1,000 pages of tribunal transcripts the
The testimonies offer a glimpse into the secretive world of
Due process: A year after the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal erupted, Iraqi anger has flared anew over the growing numbers of detainees held without charge at the notorious detention center and another prison in the south.
In the battle against the insurgency,
The population of long-term detainees at Abu Ghraib and the larger
Air CIA: While posing as a private charter outfit - "aircraft rental with pilot" is the listing in Dun and Bradstreet - Aero Contractors is in fact a major domestic hub of the Central Intelligence Agency's secret air service. The company was founded in 1979 by a legendary C.I.A. officer and chief pilot for Air
Behind a surprisingly thin cover of rural hideaways, front companies and shell corporations that share officers who appear to exist only on paper, the C.I.A. has rapidly expanded its air operations since 2001 as it has pursued and questioned terrorism suspects around the world.
Some of the C.I.A. planes have been used for carrying out renditions, the legal term for the agency's practice of seizing terrorism suspects in one foreign country and delivering them to be detained in another, including countries that routinely engage in torture.
A long list: A report published by the New York Times on May 1, 2005, cited a former American interrogator who corroborated early accounts by several detainees alleging that guards at Guananamo had tossed copies of the Koran into a pile and stepped on them. The International Red Cross Committee also confirmed that it has received complaints from Guananamo prisoners concerning Koran desecration long before the Newsweek broke the news.
Evidently, the Bush administration has not been able to come to grips with the ramifications of such actions on the image and credibility of the
And let us be clear, the image of the United States as a country guilty of human rights violations and of Muslim bashing was not created by the Newsweek account, but emerged as a result of a long list of missteps and abuses. Let us recall the most serious ones:
In 2001 and 2002, bigotry and intolerance were elevated to a tolerable national discourse by leading evangelical leader who insulted Islam and its prophet, and did it with impunity. Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson described Islam as "wicked, violent and not of the same god," and called the Prophet of Islam a “terrorist” and “paedophile,” and were allowed to get away with it. Little has been done so far to reign in Christian and Jewish extremists.
In November 2002, John Ashcroft, then the
In the same year Ashcroft made his remarks, The Department of Justice embarked on a massive detention and deportation of thousands of innocent Muslim immigrants in the name of fighting terrorism. Many of those who were detained were denied visitation by family members, and representation by lawyers. Deprived from the due process enshrined in the
In October 2003, Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, was allowed to keep his job after telling church gatherings that the Christian God is “real” and the Muslim is “idol." Secretary Rumsfeld defended Baykin’s bigoted remarks by citing the latter's freedom of speech.
In December 2003, the military accused Col. James Lee, a dedicated Muslim Chaplain and West Point graduate, of spying, and ordered his incarceration in a maximum security facility, but failed to provide any evidence to back up these serious charges. Chaplain Yee was eventually found innocent of all charges laid against him, including charges of adultery and pornography concocted when the spying charges were withdrawn. The army refused to issue an apology and Lee resigned.
In May 2004, Brandon Mayfield, a Muslim lawyer and former Army officer, was arrested by FBI agents in connection with the
In December 2004, the open season on Islam and Muslims by extreme Religious Right pundits reached a new low, when the Washington Times, a leading American newspaper, published an article by Sam Harris, entitled "Mired in a Religious War." The article declared Islam the enemy, and openly advocates an all-out war on Islam and Muslims.
In December 2004, 46 American Muslims were fingerprinted, searched and held 6 hours by
The above list, though far from being complete, reveals disturbing patterns of Muslim bashing and abuse, and underscores the troubling fact that some public officials in various departments and at highest levels espouse prejudices toward Islam and Muslims. While the number of bigots and zealots is still limited, the damage they have done to both American Muslims and the reputation of the
Highly disturbing: The latest FBI documents detailing allegations of prisoner abuse at
But the status of these documents is nearly as disturbing as their content. They can be found, again like previous FBI documents, only on the Web site of the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained them by suing the government under the Freedom of Information Act. They did not, in other words, appear in the context of a government or military investigation. After the ACLU released the documents Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence T. Di Rita implied that such an investigation would be unnecessary, since these "fantastic charges about our guys doing something willfully heinous to a Koran for the purposes of rattling detainees are not credible on their face." But then, on Thursday, the commander of the
For the fact remains that although one has been promised, no independent military, Pentagon or other body has yet published an extensive investigation into the multiple accounts of prisoner abuse at
The Times, Are They A’Changin’?
Lining up: In the last few months, the small commercial air service to the naval base at
And they have been arriving in increasing numbers, providing more than a third of about 530 remaining detainees with representation in federal court. Despite considerable obstacles and expenses, other lawyers are lining up to challenge the government's detention of people the military has called enemy combatants and possible terrorists.
A meeting earlier this month in
The increase in lawyers for Guantánamo detainees was set in motion last June when the Supreme Court ruled against the Bush administration and said the prisoners there were entitled to challenge their detentions in federal courts.
The rate at which lawyers have stepped forward for the task may be a reflection of the changing public attitudes about
Please go sign this letter: We the undersigned write because of our concern regarding recent disclosures of a Downing Street Memo in the London Times, comprising the minutes of a meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers. These minutes indicate that the
Among other things, the British government document quotes a high-ranking British official as stating that by July, 2002, Bush had made up his mind to take military action. Yet, a month later, you stated you were still willing to "look at all options" and that there was "no timetable" for war. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, flatly stated that "[t]he president has made no such determination that we should go to war with
In addition, the origins of the false contention that
As a result of these concerns, we would ask that you respond to the following questions:
1)Do you or anyone in your administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?
2) Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization to go to war? Did you or anyone in your Administration obtain
3) Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?
4) At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade
5) Was there a coordinated effort with the
These are the same questions 89 Members of Congress, led by Rep. John Conyers, Jr., submitted to you on May 5, 2005. As citizens and taxpayers, we believe it is imperative that our people be able to trust our government and our commander in chief when you make representations and statements regarding our nation engaging in war. As a result, we would ask that you publicly respond to these questions as promptly as possible.
More details: The RAF and
The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive.
The details follow the leak to The Sunday Times of minutes of a key meeting in July 2002 at which Blair and his war cabinet discussed how to make “regime change” in
Geoff Hoon, then defence secretary, told the meeting that “the
The new information, obtained by the Liberal Democrats, shows that the allies dropped twice as many bombs on Iraq in the second half of 2002 as they did during the whole of 2001, and that the RAF increased their attacks even more quickly than the Americans did.
An inescapable burden: Ever since Watergate we've had a fairly established narrative of scandal. First you have revelation: the press, usually with the help of various leakers within the government, reveals the wrongdoing. Then you have investigation, when the government -- the courts, or Congress, or, as with Watergate, both -- constructs a painstaking narrative of what exactly happened: an official story, one that society -- that the community -- can agree on. Then you have expiation, when the judges hand down sentences, the evildoers are punished, and the society returns to a state of grace.
What distinguishes our time -- the time of September 11 -- is the end of this narrative of scandal. With the scandals over weapons of mass destruction and Abu Ghraib, we are stuck at step one. We have had the revelation; we know about the wrongdoing. Just recently, in the Downing Street memo, we had an account of a high-level discussion in Britain, nearly eight months before the Iraq war, in which the head of British intelligence flatly tells the prime minister – the intelligence officer has just returned from Washington -- that not only has the President of the United States decided that "military action was...inevitable" but that -- in the words of the British intelligence chief -- "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." This memo has been public for weeks.
So we have had the revelations; we know what happened. What we don't have is any clear admission of -- or adjudication of -- guilt, such as a serious congressional or judicial investigation would give us, or any punishment. Those high officials responsible are still in office. Indeed, not only have they received no punishment; many have been promoted. And we -- you and I, members all of the reality-based community -- we are left to see, to be forced to see. And this, for all of us, is a corrupting, a maddening, but also an inescapable burden.
Colonel David H. Hackworth: His courage under fire was the stuff of
As an orphan shining shoes at a military base in
The top brass is not expected to attend.
Corporal Christopher Zimny: Last Memorial Day, Cpl. Christopher Zimny visited his parents, Ted and Barbara, in Glenview, enjoying the three-day weekend before heading back to
Opinion: This Memorial Day is not a good one for the country that was once the world's most brilliant beacon of freedom and justice.
State Department officials know better than anyone that the image of the
The huge and bitter protests of Muslims against the
Amnesty International noted last week in its annual report on human rights around the world that more than 500 detainees continue to be held "without charge or trial" at Guantánamo. Locking people up without explaining why, and without giving them a chance to prove their innocence, seems a peculiar way to advance the cause of freedom in the world.
Editorial: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld likes to talk about transforming
This is astonishing, even allowing for the administration's failure to prepare Americans honestly for how long and difficult the occupation of
But Army recruitment is now regularly falling short of the necessary targets. Recruiters are having even more trouble persuading people to sign up for Army National Guard and Reserve units. The Marine Corps has been missing its much smaller monthly quotas as well. Unless there is a sharp change later this year, both forces will soon start feeling the pinch as too few trainees are processed to meet both forces' operational needs.
Why this is happening is no mystery. Two years of hearing about too few troops on the ground, inadequate armor, extended tours of duty and accelerated rotations back into combat have taken their toll, discouraging potential enlistees and their parents. The citizen-soldiers of the Guard and Reserves have suddenly become full-time warriors. Nor has it helped that when abuse scandals have erupted, the Pentagon has seemed quicker to punish lower-ranking soldiers than top commanders and policy makers. This negative cycle now threatens to feed on itself. Fewer recruits will mean more stress on those now in uniform and more grim reports reaching hometowns across
Opinion: Back in September 2003 a report by the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the size of the
Let me put that in plainer English: our all-volunteer military is based on an implicit promise that those who serve their country in times of danger will also be able to get on with their lives. Full-time soldiers expect to spend enough time at home base to keep their marriages alive and see their children growing up. Reservists expect to be called up infrequently enough, and for short enough tours of duty, that they can hold on to their civilian jobs.
To keep that promise, the Army has learned that it needs to follow certain rules, such as not deploying more than a third of the full-time forces overseas except during emergencies. The budget office analysis was based on those rules.
But the Bush administration, which was ready neither to look for a way out of
Comment: There is a strange disconnect in
Robert Parry: One benefit of the new AM progressive talk radio in cities around the United States is that the call-in shows have opened a window onto the concerns – and confusion – felt by millions of Americans trying to figure out how their country went from a democratic republic to a modern-day empire based on a cult of personality and a faith-based rejection of reason.
“What went wrong?” you hear them ask. “How did we get here?”
You also hear more detailed questions: “Why won’t the press do its job of holding George W. Bush accountable for misleading the country to war in
There are, of course, many answers to these questions. But from my 27 years in the world of
It’s not fear of physical harm. That's not how it works in
Interview: [Thom Hartmann] Yeah. George Galloway, Member of Parliament in the, in
[George Galloway] Well, first of all I am sure that they will not be prosecuted, because it is only losers that are prosecuted. In the international system that we have there's no chance of the likes of Henry Kissinger, for example, the greatest living war criminal in the world today with the blood of millions of people in Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos and Chile and East Timor or in many other places on his hands. He will never appear in a court or be behind bars. That's for the tin pot tyrants, the tiny tyrants like Milosevic; they get sent there. The big tyrants never face justice.
I wish I knew the answer to your first question, why did Tony Blair join it? Certainly, it's been utterly ruinous to his political reputation. He will, he will be followed into the history books and into the grave with this mark of Cain on his forehead. He will be remembered for nothing other than that he followed George W. Bush over a cliff; took the rest of us with them, and we haven't yet reached the bottom, I'm afraid. All I can say from my own conversations with Mr. Blair, man to man, are that I think that both him and George W. Bush are possessed of a kind of messianic belief that somebody, God perhaps, gave them the job of shouldering the white man's burden, which is the world. That someone gave them the right to step outside of international law; go anywhere, do anything, pay any price in other people's blood, to reshape the world in their image; in the image that they want to see. And I think that both men will be damned in history. Both men have made their respective countries the two most hated countries in the world. They have endangered the lives and safety of our citizens. They have damaged our economic and cultural and social interests, and they should face prosecution, but never will.
Editorial: Nothing young Americans can do in life is more honorable than offering themselves for the defense of their nation. It requires great selflessness and sacrifice, and quite possibly the forfeiture of life itself. On Memorial Day 2005, we gather to remember all those who gave us that ultimate gift. Because they are so fresh in our minds, those who have died in
In exchange for our uniformed young people's willingness to offer the gift of their lives, civilian Americans owe them something important: It is our duty to ensure that they never are called to make that sacrifice unless it is truly necessary for the security of the country. In the case of
Local story: Sun Prairie, WI, soldier killed when his helicopter was shot down over central
Local story: West Cowick, East Yorkshire, UK, soldier killed in roadside bombing in Al Amarah province.
Local story: Four Mississippi Army National Guard soldiers killed in roadside bombing in
Local story: Two