Friday, November 25, 2005

THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: An Iraqi man carries a child, a victim of a car bomb blast, to a hospital in Baghdad November 24, 2005. A car bomb blew up outside a hospital where Iraqi police were gathered in Mahmoudiya, a town south of Baghdad, on Thursday, killing 31 people and wounding more than 20 others, doctors, police and witnesses said. Apparently, US soldiers were handing out toys to children when this incident happened. (I am of the opinion that US troops should stay away from children when they are in a war zone, and all of Iraq is a war zone. – Susan) WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY NOVEMBER 25, 2005 Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqis shot dead, three of them soldiers, near Hawijah. 10 Iraqis shot dead in a series of attacks in Baghdad, including two children, six policemen, one army officer and an advisor to former prime minister Allawi. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi police officers assassinated in southern Baghdad. Major Muwafaq Hussein Abbas was assassinated in western Baghdad. Gunmen killed a member of the Iraqi National Accord in southern Baghdad. Two guards killed in attack that targeted Iraqi Minister of Industry. Bring ‘em on: British forces have killed and wounded more than 400 insurgents in Iraq since June 2003. These figures are based on the “subjective impression” of troops involved in incidents. Also, 21 British nationals have been killed in Iraq working as private military or security contractors. Bring ‘em on: Three insurgents killed and one arrested in Safwan. An Iraqi soldier died in this incident. Bring ‘em on: 62 Dead in Iraq Suicide Bombing, Attacks (Thursday’s total for Iraqis.) Bring ‘em on: Update: Car bomber killed 34 outside hospital south of Baghdad and wounded 39 more. Nearly 200 people have been killed in a series of suicide bombings and car bombings since last Friday. The attack in Hilla resulted in four deaths, (Later updates say 14.) and a little known group called “The Supporters for the Sunni Community” claimed the attack on the internet. Iraqi Defense Ministry said that Iraqi soldiers found a car west of Baghdad filled with children’s toys that were booby-trapped with hand grenades and explosives. Sunni tribal leader and his three sons plus son-in-law were shot dead in their beds by gunmen dressed in Iraqi Army uniforms and driving 10 army-type vehicles (This from Turkish Press). The Defense Ministry says they were terrorists, not soldiers, but leaders of the Sunni Arabs claim the Shi’ite run Interior Ministry of running death squads. Bring ‘em on: Two US soldiers killed by IED in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Explosive laded toys similar to those passed out by US soldiers were found in Iraq this week. Separately, US military spokesman Johnson said the Iraqis had found Beanie Babies with explosive devices in them. "The insurgents will stop at nothing to draw children into the violence," Johnson said. "It's reprehensible. (And it is unconscionable that US troops would interact with children in a war zone. – Susan) Bring ‘em on: Update: 31 people killed outside a hospital in central Iraq on Thursday, four US soldiers wounded, by suicide car bomb. Almost all the victims are women and children. This happened while US soldiers were giving away toys to children. Bring ‘em on: Suicide bombs kill 48 in Iraq as US troops celebrate Thanksgiving. This report says 34 died at the hospital and 14 died at the market bombing. “Some members of bereaved families and local people blamed the Americans for attracting the lethal attention of insurgents with their visit.” Bring ‘em on: Over 180 Killed in Past Week in Iraq Amid Warnings of More Unrest. Since mid-September, US-led forces have killed over 700 rebels and captured 1,500 in western Iraq. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi Police Find Car Bomb Cache On Iranian Border. This was at an abandoned base that was reported taken over by insurgents. Bring ‘em on: US Soldier killed in tank accident south of Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Eight killed in Iraq as terrorist networks uncovered. One is reported to be a US soldier (included in above totals, I believe). This happened in the western areas of Baghdad. Two of the three terrorists networks were led by an Interior Ministry officer and the third was headed by an assistant manager of a private investment company. The detainees confessed to kidnapping, killing and planting explosives. The task of the Interior Ministry officer was to provide arms, equipment and official documents to facilitate the operations. In another incident, six Iraqis were killed by unidentified gunmen near Howaija, west of Kirkuk. In Fallujah, gunmen shot dead an Iraqi truck driver, who was believed to be working for the US. Bring ‘em on: Large Military Operation In Iraq Expected: Interior Minister. In a statement, the Iraqi minister of interior Bayan Jaber Soulagh announced during a military parade for the security keeping forces the coming of a "nearby large military operation." Soulagh said "there is a mission before us. We will move strongly to attack the shelters of terrorism in different areas," noting that this force will include 10,000 fighters and some 1000 military vehicle. He explained that this operation will be either before the next legislative elections due in mid December or after it. On Wednesday, the American army announced that 250 of its soldiers and 200 Iraqi soldiers have started a new operation in Ta'mim area, southwest of Ramadi." This operation comes less than 24 hours after the announcement made by the American forces on ending operation "iron curtain." REPORTS NEWS: Sunnis Protest Slaying of Tribal Leader. They also take responsibility for the bombing in Hilla yesterday and say it is in retaliation for the murder of the important trial leader. These were members of the Batta tribe. This article also states that a key witness in the Saddam Hussein trial has died of cancer. NEWS: In Baghdad, Capital Vista Gradually Shrink with Insecurity. For the first time, we pulled out after dark. As we flew from the Green Zone, the Black Hawk gunners wore night vision scopes, which look like little binoculars on eyeglasses, so they could spot suspicious activity through the night. The pilot of the C-17 military transport that flew us out of Iraq did not turn on the interior lights until we had reached a safe altitude -- and were well out of Baghdad airspace. (This story covers the author’s several trips to Baghdad and how they became more and more restricted. – Susan) NEWS: Life Goes on in Fallujah’s Rubble. A year after the U.S.-led "Operation Phantom Fury" damaged or destroyed 36,000 homes, 60 schools and 65 mosques in Fallujah, Iraq, residents inside the city continue to suffer from lack of compensation, slow reconstruction and high rates of illness. The Study Centre for Human Rights and Democracy based in Fallujah (SCHRD) estimates the number of people killed in the city during the U.S.-led operation in October and November 2004 at 4,000 to 6,000, most of them civilians. Mass graves were dug on the outskirts of the city for thousands of the bodies. Last week, the Pentagon confirmed that it had used white phosphorus, a chemical that bursts into flame upon contact with air, inside Fallujah as an "incendiary weapon" against insurgents. Washington denies that it is a chemical weapon, as charged by some critics, and that it was used against civilians. (The DoD did claim it was a chemical weapon when they accused Saddam of using it in 1991 against rebelling Kurds. But now it is not, apparently. See below. – Susan) NEWS: Some Iraq Insurgent Groups Want to Talk. Several insurgents groups have contacted President Jalal Talabani's office in the past few days, with some saying they are ready to lay down their arms and join the political process, the presidential security adviser said Thursday. Lt. Gen. Wafiq al-Samaraei told The Associated Press that "the calls we received were different. The calls were also from different groups." In the western province of Anbar, members of some militant groups told the AP that they had been in talks with Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi for about two weeks but would not say how they were going. On Monday, al-Samaraei told Al-Jazeera television that he received a call from a person who claimed to be a senior official of the resistance who was interested in talks. He would not elaborate. During remarks last Sunday in Cairo, Talabani said his offer to talk with insurgents did not extend to members of Saddam's Baath Party unless they agreed to lay down their weapons. NEWS: Iraq Conflict Still in Early Stages, Report Says. The war in Iraq is still in its early stages and US and British troops are likely to be bogged down in the conflict for decades, a report by the Oxford Research Group said on Wednesday. The independent think tank’s report will make unwelcome reading for the British and US governments, both of which have indicated that they hope to begin reducing the number of troops in Iraq after the next Iraqi parliamentary elections in December. NEWS: Khalilzid Promises to Refurbish Babylon; Allocates $20 Billion to New Projects. American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, who many see as the country’s most powerful man, has promised to renovate Babylon. (Why is a US Ambassador one of the “country’s most powerful men”? – Susan) NEWS: Resistance Not Terrorism, Says Iraqi Sunni Leader. “Resistance to the occupier is a natural and legitimate right” in Iraq, per leading Arab Sheikh. “The terrorism which was let loose in our country came with occupation” by US led troops. He distinguished between three sorts of terrorism. "The terrorism of the occupation forces, state terrorism and anonymous terrorism. All three kill and force people from their homes," he said. All Iraqi factions, at a meeting in Cairo last weekend, accepted the principle of "resistance" while condemning "terrorism directed at civilians, civil, humanitarian and religious institutions". NEWS: Sunni Clerics to Boycott Elections. The powerful Sunni Muslim Clerics Association will not take part in the December elections, its leader said. Harith al-Dhari, Iraqi Sunnis most senior cleric, said his association will boycott the elections. He did not say whether the clerics under the association’s umbrella will urge Iraqi Sunnis not to cast their votes. But he made it clear participation in these elections would be tantamount to “legitimizing (foreign) occupation.” NEWS: In Jordan, New Questions About War In Iraq. Mohammed Hikmet and Talal Badran grew up together among the ancient olive groves and hardy fig trees of their village in northern Jordan. They were like brothers, down to their fuzzy beards and stocky builds. In 2003, the best of friends, at age 25, set off side by side to fight American troops in Iraq. Only one of them returned, however, and now both of their families are wracked by doubts about the war they once believed in so fervently. Today's insurgency in neighboring Iraq is unfamiliar to Jordanian villagers who said they simply wanted to defend fellow Muslims from foreign invaders. Now they're trying to figure out how blowing up innocent Arabs at a hotel wedding reception — as suspected Iraqi bombers did in Amman, the Jordanian capital, earlier this month — became an accepted means of resistance. The pride they took in sending two of their own to Iraq is mixed with confusion over whether their holy warriors may have become terrorists. "I don't believe in al-Qaida anymore. Boom. It's finished," said Adnan Badran, 37, the older brother of the Irbid man who fought in Iraq and hasn't returned. He traced the rim of a cup of Turkish coffee with his finger and gazed at the floor. NEWS: Fiji sending 65 more soldiers to Iraq. NEWS: Poland to withdraw 2,500 troops from Iraq in 2006. NEWS: Japanese Troops (600) asked to stay in Iraq. NEWS: US Reaction to Iraq Reconciliation Conference on Resistance, Troop Withdrawal. Getting to this point about resistance: "Although resistance is a legitimate right for all people, terrorism does not represent legitimate resistance. Accordingly, we condemn terrorism and acts of violence, killing and kidnapping that target Iraqi citizens, civilian, humanitarian, governmental institutions, national wealth, places of worship and we call for confronting terrorism immediately." Again, I think that, you know, inasmuch as this statement talks about the right -- the legitimate right to peaceful protest, peaceful expression of differences -- absolutely, the United States has no quarrel with that idea. And here, they talk about condemnation of terrorism. You talk about condemnation of violence. They call -- and they also call upon -- call all to confront terrorism immediately. Again, something that we are all working for in Iraq. So Iraqis and the multinational forces, the United States, again, on the same page with respect to confronting violence and confronting terrorism. (They have a unique interpretation of what was said in Egypt by Iraqi leaders recently. I guess it all depends on what the definition of “is” is. The US State Department is all for peaceful protest, but they forgot to say they just ignore it if they can. – Susan) NEWS: Iran Pledges $1Billion Loan, Security Help to Iraq. Iran has pledged to give Iraq a $1 billion loan and help with tackling insecurity, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said at the end of a ground-breaking visit to the Islamic state. Talabani stressed the improving political and commercial ties between two countries which fought a bitter 1980-1988 war in which hundreds of thousands died. "All the officials I met said there are no limits to Iran's support for the Iraqi nation," he told reporters. "Iranian officials openly said they want the establishment of security in Iraq ... They said: 'your security is our security'," he said. Talabani added that Iran had pledged to give Iraq a $1 billion loan and $10 million in aid to help with reconstruction efforts. He gave no details and Iranian officials could not immediately be reached to elaborate. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: 15,000 Hepatitis Cases Reported in Baghdad Neighborhood. The investigation shows dramatic increases not only in hepatitis, a serious disease of the liver, but also in cases of major communicable diseases. The sewage system in the city does not function properly and heavy water from open sewers inundates streets. The study says a laboratory examination has found the tap water heavily polluted. “Untreated water seeps into pure water pipes. The average of untreated water in the pure water pipes is no less than 40%,” the study says. The al-Sadr Town is Iraq’s most densely populated area. It is a warren of two-story houses separated by narrow streets with open sewers. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: The Peace Ended With a Threat: Leave Town or You Die. Living in Abu Ghraib, in the shadow of Saddam Hussein’s vast prison, Kareem Khalbous had always got along with his neighbours in the Sunni-dominated town. That was before the letter appeared one night two months ago, thrown over the fence of his farmhouse. “Leave your houses now, you filthy Shia, or we will kill every one of you,” it read, signed in the name of a Sunni insurgent group. “You have two days.” A day after receiving the same message, a Shia neighbour was shot dead. The Khalbous family did not wait for the deadline. The eight of them stayed up all night packing and by morning they were gone to a relative’s home in Sadr City, a poor suburb of Baghdad inhabited exclusively by Shias. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: For Many Iraqis, Homecoming is Short-Lived. "Although our life in Iran was miserable, it was a lot better than what we are facing here," he said. "I say it without any hesitation: I regret … my return to Iraq." There are few jobs and no help from the government in Baghdad, Mousawi said. "I'm thinking of going back to Iran." THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Lost Amid the Rising Tide of Detainees in Iraq. The stranger told her he had shared a cell with her husband in an underground bunker. It was the first that Ms. Abbas had heard of her husband, Ibrahim Fayadh Abdul Hamid al-Timimi, since police commandos came into their home and arrested him on May 26, just hours after a bombing in their neighborhood. One week after she got the phone call, American forces raided a bunker that fit the description the man gave, uncovering 169 inmates, many of them starving and abused, and tools of torture hidden in the ceiling. Iraqi officials say that all of the men in the bunker had links to the insurgency. (Detainee sounds so nice, doesn’t it? Much better than prisoner detained without charges or enemy combatant or kidnap victim. – Susan) POEM: Letters from Iraq The hot Sunni sun passes Moaning Mosque Spire.B-company’s pinned down and under heavy fire. Underneath the palms there’s improvised bombs. Because, Jihad Johnnyknows Yankee is a liar. On Euphrates east bank where the desert winds blow, M 1 Abekeeps his head down low. Smoking up Joe,With a front back go, Is General Hash,And his puppet show. This came from the blog written by the US soldiers who appeared in the Italian TV news film on Fallujah. That film that will not be shown on American TV, thewiz. VERY DISTURBING: A nine minute film of US troops shooting at a civilian bus, and then when they realize that they are unarmed, they proceed to provide medical attention. One comment in the film is “the one by the guard shack might not be dead” but it turns out he was. Also will not be shown on American TV, thewiz. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Violence a Daily Scene for Iraqi Children. Khaldoon Waleed, a Baghdad child psychologist, said a generation of children is growing up with post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD, a result of witnessing life-threatening events, is commonly associated with soldiers. In children, Waleed said, it could cause everything from nightmares to an inability to connect with people. "The children of Iraq have lost all sense of humanity," he said. "Killing and being killed has become daily routine to them." He said their young lives are overloaded with the violent issues of Iraq. Parents find it impossible to hide the harsh realities from them, so children are forced into adult life. And it's a harsh adult life. Haifa Mahmoud, the headmistress of Ibn al-Khateep Primary School, has to explain to children every day what's going on in Karrada, their dangerous neighborhood. The children who come to her sidestep gunbattles, watch for low-riding cars — a sign of a car bomb — and endure sleepless nights because of the thumps of explosions and the vibrations of American Black Hawk helicopters above their roofs. Their friends frequently disappear in kidnappings, and they grow accustomed to dead bodies and body parts in the streets. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Story to go with picture above from Gulf Daily News: TOYS THEN HELL!!! THE SHAME OF AMERICA: Director for Torture. Are these techniques "not torture," as Mr. Goss claims? In fact, several of them have been practiced by repressive regimes around the world, and they once were routinely condemned by the State Department in its annual human rights reports. By insisting that they are not torture, Mr. Goss sets a new standard -- both for the treatment of detainees by other governments and for the handling of captive Americans. If an American pilot is captured in the Middle East, then beaten, held naked in a cold cell and subjected to simulated drowning, will Mr. Goss say that he has not been tortured? TENETS OF A “JUST WAR” THEORY (From Christian Science Monitor): Cause must be just, often limited to self-defense or to redress injury. Scholars dispute whether preemptive or preventive war can be a just cause. 1. Public declaration by a lawful authority. 2. No ulterior motives. War must be pursued with right intention - justice - not self-aggrandizement or vengeance. 3. Reasonable probability of success. 4. Use of force only as last resort 5. Avoid harming noncombatants 6. Proportionality - use of the least destructive force possible 7. Intention to restore a just peace. THE SHAME OF AMERICA: Press Freedom or Freedom to Bomb the Press? The Bush Plan to Bomb al Jazeera. Given the extent to which the American corporate press has often echoed obviously false US claims long after their absurdity became apparent, the international press like Al-Jazeera plays a critical role in limiting US brutality. By suppressing the press in Iraq, the US has increased its ability to kill with impunity. Evidence that many tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died at US hands suggests that the US has actively seized the opportunity. THE SHAME OF AMERICA: Allies Warn US Over CIA’s Secret Jails. The Netherlands has warned Washington that if it continued to "hide" over reports of secret prisons in eastern Europe, Dutch contributions to US-led military missions could be affected, the ANP news agency has reported. "The US should stop hiding. It will all come out sooner or later," Foreign Minister Ben Bot told the Dutch parliament, according to ANP. THE SHAME OF AMERICA: Report Drops Fallujah Bombshell. The controversy over the American use of white phosphorus as a weapon of war in Fallujah deepened yesterday when it was revealed that a US intelligence assessment had characterised WP as a "chemical weapon". The Italian journalist who sparked the controversy, Sigfrido Ranucci, told a press conference in Rome that while a colleague was browsing American Defence Department websites he had stumbled on a declassified intelligence report from the first Gulf War. (American hypocrisy is alive and well. – Susan) THE WAR AT HOME: I’ll Go To Jail To Print the Truth About Bush and al Jazeera. It must be said that subsequent events have not made life easy for those of us who were so optimistic as to support the war in Iraq. There were those who believed the Government's rubbish about Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction. Then the WMD made their historic no-show. Some of us were so innocent as to suppose that the Pentagon had a well-thought-out plan for the removal of the dictator and the introduction of peace. Then we had the insurgency, in which tens of thousands have died. The Attorney General's ban is ridiculous, untenable, and redolent of guilt. I do not like people to break the Official Secrets Act, and, as it happens, I would not object to the continued prosecution of those who are alleged to have broken it. But we now have allegations of such severity, against the US President and his motives, that we need to clear them up. If someone passes me the document within the next few days I will be very happy to publish it in The Spectator, and risk a jail sentence. The public need to judge for themselves. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. If we suppress the truth, we forget what we are fighting for, and in an important respect we become as sick and as bad as our enemies. THE WAR AT HOME: Bush Set to Pull Out 60,000 Troops Next Year. THE WAR AT HOME: 200,000 Iraqi Troops Not Enough to Quell Iraqi Insurgency? If the Iraqi government is legitimate, and if it meets the will of the majority of the Iraqi people, the Iraqi government can and will be protected by Iraqi soldiers after the American military departs. The sooner the better. If American troops are required to support any Iraqi government, it should be apparent to all that that Iraqi government is illegitimate and should be replaced by one supported by the Iraqi people." THE WAR AT HOME: Moral Stakes of Exiting Iraq. Yet despite all the heated rhetoric and animosity among the different camps, there exists a common thread: a sense of responsibility over what conditions the US-led coalition leaves behind when its troops inevitably depart. "What all of us can agree on here in the US is that we have an ethical obligation regarding the notion of doing more good than harm and not to leave before the society is restored to at least some kind of peace and order," says John Arquilla, a professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. The manner and pacing of a withdrawal can take many forms, he adds, "but it certainly does not mean simply leaving and allowing the low-grade civil war to erupt into a full-blown one.” (Heaven help the Iraqi people – Susan) COMMENTARY OPINION: Welcome to the Chambers of Death. The U.S.-led occupation, that was forecast to end dictatorship and introduce democracy, seems to have been a harbinger of more violence, more oppression and more killings. Terrorist attacks are surging and suicide bombers mushrooming. And there seems to be no end to abuses and atrocities whether by U.S. troops, government security forces or the secretive and fearful militias. In the aftermath of U.S. occupation, there is no Iraqi family or home without a tragic story to tell or a calamity to moan. Acts of violence and terror taking place in Iraq are unprecedented in their horror and barbarism. These are perhaps the ugliest crimes and most appalling human rights violations in the history of mankind. Not every thing reaches the outside world. Even international media representatives based in Iraq are not aware of them as they, for security reasons, spend their reporting stints in fortified hideouts in Baghdad. OPINION: Why the Mainstream Media Fails Us On Iraq. The mainstream press will not report what credible sources say is happening in Iraq. It used to be in times of conflict that sources such as human rights organisations were regarded cautiously — if your own government was involved in perpetrating violence. But now it seems that you simply ignore these sources. This is not because the Blair government is uniquely evil. It’s because it is a neo-liberal government which is interested in imposing the interests of the corporations. So in order to minimise dissent and opposition they lie. To quote the South African activist, Patrick Bond, they have to “talk left and walk right”. (Yeah, but Brits aren’t nearly as stupid as your cousins across the puddle – see below. – Susan) OPINION: USS Neverdock: This weblog posts the article saying that some insurgent groups are willing to talk to Talabani (see above) and they conclude with: “With elections in about three weeks this is good news indeed and more proof we are winning in Iraq.” (Unbelievable. I’d say this comment is more proof that Americans are stupid. – Susan) OPINION: LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Chalabi’s Fictions. I am troubled by the meeting that was held recently between Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and the Iraqi official Ahmed Chalabi. Yes, Mr. Chalabi's stories are full of engaging fiction, but not of a sort that is suitable for children. Readers will recall that Mr. Chalabi was a chief source of misinformation to the Bush administration in the months leading up to the invasion of his country. Now his fictions have been re-legitimized by his appointment as deputy prime minister in the new Iraqi government. I hesitate to think what sort of nonsense he is peddling this time. The fact that Secretary Rice seeks his counsel places her firmly in the faith-based (as distinct from the reality-based) community. And a powerful faith it must be, to be so impervious to learning from experience. Dana Carroll , Salt Lake City OPINION: Iraq Fiasco Bounces Back to Cheney. ''Dishonest and reprehensible'' and ''corrupt and shameless.'' Vice President Dick Cheney was throwing those kind words around in what passes for polite civil discourse in Washington these days. He aimed them at anyone - especially senators of the Democratic persuasion - who dared suggest that President Bush or anyone else in the administration had exaggerated or twisted pre-war intelligence to build the case for invading Iraq. In fact the pre-war attempts to both cherry-pick raw and unvetted intelligence reports and to mount a public relations offensive to lend credence to the tales of so-called Iraqi defectors - some successful and some not - were largely managed by Cheney and his chief underlings, I. Lewis ''Scooter'' Libby and John Hannah. What has never been proved is whether Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff under indictment for allegedly lying to a federal grand jury, was one of the unidentified sources, along with officials at the Pentagon and the Iraqi National Congress, for much of New York Times reporter Judith Miller's pre-war hyping of Saddam Hussein's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons programs. We know that Cheney himself declared on Aug. 26, 2002: ''Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.'' (Well, people who claimed to believe this last one are either TOOLS or FOOLS, the later being the case if they really weren’t out and out lying. However, we will always have the lovely comment “GO CHENEY YOURSELF” from the gentile Mr. Cheney – as a reminder of this illegal and immoral war. Not a total loss, I guess. – Susan) OPINION: Bush Needs to Grow Up, Rise to Challenge. Yes, we need to stay the course for now in Iraq, but we cannot stay the course alone or divided. That is the point. We are about to produce the most legitimate government ever in the Arab world, and the Bush-Cheney team — instead of acknowledging its errors on weapons of mass destruction, seeking forgiveness and urging the country to unite behind the important effort to defeat the jihadist madness in Iraq — does what? It starts slinging mud at Democrats on Iraq. Sure, some Democrats goaded them with reckless remarks — but they are not in power. Where are the adults? We can't afford this nonsense, while also ignoring our energy crisis, the deficit, health care, climate change and Social Security. (Fried Man is still getting it mostly all wrong. He states that Bush is in the running for worst president ever. Little does he know that Bush already ran that race and won, with the help of old Fried Man himself. –Susan) OPINION: Do the opinions of 95 percent of Black America have no standing? Only three Democrats voted on the issue of the Iraq war, last Friday. The rest followed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s directives, a continuation of her "strategy" of insulating the pro-war wing of the party, centered in the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), from the wrath of the party’s base, which is now overwhelmingly anti-war. For the DLC’s sake, Pelosi smothers the party’s progressive wing - of which she was once a proud member. There was no room for peace in this strange arrangement. OPINION: Behind the Phosphorus Clouds are War Crimes Within War Crimes. But there is hard evidence that white phosphorus was deployed as a weapon against combatants in Falluja. As this column revealed last Tuesday, US infantry officers confessed that they had used it to flush out insurgents. A Pentagon spokesman told the BBC that white phosphorus "was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants". He claimed "it is not a chemical weapon. They are not outlawed or illegal." This denial has been accepted by most of the mainstream media. UN conventions, the Times said, "ban its use on civilian but not military targets". But the word "civilian" does not occur in the chemical weapons convention. The use of the toxic properties of a chemical as a weapon is illegal, whoever the target is. (This story claims that the civilians who were found dead in Fallujah with blacken bodies could have gotten that way via decomposing. I saw the pictures last November and December 2004, before decomposing would have happened. – Susan) OPINION: Torture Camps. What is spurring demands that the allegations be investigated properly is the uneasy feeling that away from the eyes of courts and public, in detention centers which few knew existed, terrible crimes may have been committed by those questioning the suspects. The Europeans are currently trying to track suspicious US aircraft movements and looking for satellite images of Romania and Poland which may show where the camps are or, as seems more likely since the hue and cry over them, where they used to be. Just as important as the allegations is the way in which they are being handled, both by Washington and the Europeans. The EU yesterday formally demanded a full explanation of what may have happened, partly on EU territory. The irony was that the demand was lodged by UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw because Britain currently holds the EU presidency. Straw has been second only to Prime Minister Tony Blair in his dedicated support for the Bush White House’s war on terror. Yet as the foreign policy representative of the skeptical EU, Straw has had to insist that Washington come clean over what has been going on. If the Americans continue to be uncooperative, he will be obliged to ask the question again, probably less diplomatically. OPINION: Getting Out of Iraq. There has been no outbreak of conscience in editorial offices or on Capitol Hill. Deadly forms of opportunism are still perennial in the journalistic and political climates that dominate official Washington. The centre of opportunistic gravity may have shifted in a matter of days, but the most powerful voices in US media and politics still heavily weigh towards the view reiterated by President George Bush on Sunday: “An immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq will only strengthen the terrorists' hand in Iraq and in the broader war on terror.” In the United States, while the lies behind the Iraq war become ever more obvious and victory seems increasingly unreachable, much of the opposition to the war has focused on the death and suffering among US soldiers. That emphasis has a sharp political edge at home, but it can also cut another way — defining the war as primarily deplorable because of what it is doing to Americans. One danger is that a process of withdrawing some US troops could be accompanied by even more use of US air power that terrorizes and kills with escalating bombardment (as happened in Vietnam for several years after President Richard Nixon announced his “Guam Doctrine” of Vietnamization in mid-1969). An effective anti-war movement must challenge the jingo-narcissism that defines the war as a problem mainly to the extent that it harms Americans. Countless pundits and politicians continue to decry the Bush administration's failure to come up with an effective strategy in Iraq. But the war has not gone wrong. It was always wrong. And the basic problem with the current US war effort is that it exists. OPINION FROM OUR COMMENTS: To add to the ponts Malooga has made, seeing the "bigger picture" with some grounding in a historical process will, hopefully, make the export of democracy and freedom harder. (Vietnam was, for example, the recipient of the same under the pretext of stopping communism, now terrorism.) Many of the current claims to be oh so blue eyed, a few of them repeated in today's crop of posts, are silly shell games played by people who do know better. Did the Dems vote for war because they were duped? Of course not. That whole debate, especially at this point, is utterly ridiculous. Now even hawkish Dem Murtha is an anti-war hero after talking about redeployment to the periphery to strike from the edges, should the "need" arise. That's just the same greedy desire being played out in a different wording, at lesser cost, to make it more palatable when those that actually pay the price at home are getting grumpy and jumpy. Same damn game, different strategy to sell it. – 2 cents OPINION: What’s next is the Iraq Justifications? Letter to the editor. Now let me get the logic straight: First we went to war because they said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Then they said we went to war because the people of Iraq needed their freedom. Now they say we must continue the war in order not to dishonor the dead. I see a corollary now: If a fireman dies in a fire, thank an arsonist. - Jason Gansauer, Fountain Hills, AZ OPINION: Jihadist Iraq Just Won’t Happen. From the people who brought you Saddam Hussein's mushroom cloud and the secret Iraqi-Al Qaeda alliance comes a new specter to trouble our sleep: jihadist Iraq. There is a rich irony to the administration's argument about a jihadist Iraq. In the run-up to the war, the Bush team repeatedly underestimated the danger radical Islamists posed to U.S. plans for Iraq. By blundering in Iraq, the Bush administration has played right into two jihadist claims: First, that we are determined to occupy Muslim countries, steal their wealth and destroy their faith; and second, that we are a paper tiger that cannot accept casualties. By staying in Iraq, we confirm the former for many Muslims around the world and stoke recruitment and radicalization. By leaving, we confirm the latter, thereby encouraging jihadists. PEACE ACTION: AFSC has an on-line petition to show support for Rep. Murtha's position on getting out of Iraq. Here's the link. Also, Rep Murtha's phone number is 202-225-2065. This is a holiday weekend in the USA. I am asking all Americans to call your Senators and Representatives this weekend and let them know what you think. They often have voice mail options, so you can leave a message. They need to know what you think because you are much smarter than them. Really. CASUALTY REPORTS On the evening of November 24, 2005 I could find no local stories of American fatalities or funerals in Iraq. Now, being Thanksgiving Day, it stands to reason that no funerals were scheduled. But I found it odd that there were no reports of any local people suffering fatalities from their Iraq service. There were dozens of stories about troops visiting families for the holiday. It’s like they all get a memo or something that tells them what to report, what to leave out. Local Story: Soldier from Niagara Falls killed in Iraq. QUOTE OF THE DAY: The lies the government and the media tell are amplifications of the lies we tell ourselves. To stop being conned, stop conning yourself. – James Wolcott


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