Saturday, November 19, 2005

WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY NOVEMBER 19, 2005 Bring ‘em on: A suicide attacker killed at least 36 in a Shi’ite funeral procession north of Baghdad. The US military also said five soldiers were killed on Saturday and five wounded in a pair of roadside bombings in northern Iraq, near Beiji. (This report is not on Iraq Coalition Casualties site yet. – and not confirmed by Cent Com, but AP is reporting it.) US and Iraqi forces get into a fight up in Mosul, with five insurgents and four police officers killed. Bring ‘em on: Bomb kills two US soldiers and two Iraqi policemen in Baquba. (Not confirmed by Cent Com, may be part of total cited above.) Bring ‘em on: Marines are still living – and dying –in Iraq’s most unforgiving province. You don't know who you're fighting," Spier says. "You do a patrol down the street, a man says hello, then jumps behind a berm and starts firing an AK-47 at you." Bring ‘em on: Thirteen killed in Baghdad market car bombing. Two policemen and civilian killed at checkpoint in Baquba. Iraqi forces thwarted an attack on the Italian embassy. Bring ‘em on: Car bomb in central Baghdad injures five Iraqis (different from above, I believe.) Bring ‘em on: Tortured men look like “Holocaust victims” Some had suffered beatings so severe that their skin had peeled off, and three men had been kept locked in a cupboard where they could not move. All the others were packed, blindfolded, into three rooms nine feet long and 11 feet wide. Instruments of torture and beating were found hidden in a false ceiling. Witnesses also said that the guards in charge of the detainees, all but three of whom were Sunnis, at an interior ministry bunker in central Baghdad, wore combat fatigues of the Shia Badr Brigades militia.(see story below in opinions) "Because of the appalling overcrowding, some of the most badly treated were squashed on to floors and their skins got stuck to the floor," said a witness. Bring ‘em on: A Look at Major Insurgent Attacks in Iraq. The number of dead Iraqi civilians from these attacks listed, from this year alone, is 630. The victims are mainly Shi’ias. Bring ‘em on: Scores killed in Iraq suicide attacks. Suicide bombers killed at least 74 worshippers at two Shia mosques near the Iranian border on Friday. Bring ‘em on: Double suicide attack claims six lives in Baghdad on Friday. Forty people wounded by these suicide car bombs directed towards a Baghdad hotel and Interior Ministry complex. (Later reports say eight Iraqis killed.) Bring ‘em on: UPDATE to above: A young boy stood in front of his family's shack, which now was a pile of twisted sheet metal and cinder blocks. His parents and brother had been sent to the hospital. Eight Iraqis died in this double suicide bombing. Bring ‘em on: A doctor and head of a Baghdad hospital was shot dead on Thursday inside his clinic in Baghdad. Another US soldier died in a vehicle accident on Thursday in Iraq. Three civilians injured when a car bomb targeting a US-led coalition forces detonated in Kan’an. More than 200 alleged insurgents have been killed in Operation Steel Curtain, including 89 in Ubaydi. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi, US forces killed 32 gunmen in Ramadi. Rebels were firing from a mosque. Bring ‘em on: A Sheikh in a Shi’ite mosque was assassinated in Baghdad. His driver was also killed. Three civilians killed and five wounded by clashes between US forces and insurgents in Ramadi. Three civilians wounded by suicide car bomb directed at US patrol near Baquba. Shi’ite policeman kidnapped from his home in Baghdad. He was also a candidate for the upcoming elections. US soldier killed in vehicle accident in Tal Afar. Two Iraqi policemen killed and seven wounded by roadside bomb directed towards a US-Iraqi patrol in Buhruz. Bring ‘em on: Eight insurgents, including a woman, were killed in clashes in Mosul by US-Iraqi forces. Four more insurgents were arrested. Morter rounds fired at the home of the governor of Diyalah, two injured. Eleven civilians and three policemen wounded by suicide car bomber in Baghdad. Three policemen injured when gunmen attack them in eastern Baghdad. Former member of Baath party killed in Karbala. Bring ‘em on: Car bombs kill 48 in Iraq on Saturday, which followed more than 80 Iraqis dying from suicide bomb blasts on Friday, while Bush pledges never to relent in his war on terror. One of Saturday’s bombings happened near a condolence tent for a funeral for a Shi’ite tribal sheikh in a small town north of Baghdad. Bush said: "Iraq is making amazing progress from the days of being under the thumb of a brutal dictator.” (I don’t know how much more progress they can stand.) U.S. and Iraqi forces have been conducting operations against Sunni Arab insurgents throughout western Iraq in recent weeks in an effort to stem the insurgency ahead of the election and increase the ability of Sunnis to make it to the polls. (And the end results are exactly the opposite – the insurgency grows and the locals cannot vote. When is the Bush administration going to notice this?) At the last election in January, most Sunni Arabs either boycotted or were too scared by insurgent threats to vote, so the minority community, once influential under Saddam, ended up with next to no representation in parliament. (Or they were too busy trying to find food, water and shelter to vote – did they even have voting places open across Fallujah in January?) Bring ‘em on: UPDATE: Sixty killed and 70 injured in Shi’ia funeral. Twenty killed in Baghdad bombing at marketplace. Four more Iraqis killed in different areas of Baghdad on Saturday. (Total: 84. That follows over 80 killed on Friday. To imagine how many this would be in the US, population-wise, multiply by 10 or 12.) Bring ‘em on: Iraqi rally hears of Sunni torture allegations. The rally, organised by the Sunni Muslim Iraqi Islamic Party and the Voice of Freedom human rights group, heard accounts of how men were taken from their homes to the now-notorious Baghdad bunker and to other clandestine Interior Ministry prisons. One victim, Omar Ahmed Al-Bayati, said 50 armed men raided his home in the Binuk district of Baghdad in June and took away him and his father, a general in deposed president Saddam Hussein's army, as well as his brother, a policeman. He said they were blindfolded, had their hands tied behind their backs and were tortured before he was released after three days and told to return with $120,000 to secure the release of his father and brother. Bayati said he could only raise $70,000 and was told where to deliver the money. "They took the money and fetched my father and brother in two police cars without registration plates," Bayati said. "They got them out and shot them in the head before my eyes," he said. Bring ‘em on: Gunman wearing Iraqi army uniforms attack a house and kill four people in Iskandaria. US troops kill three civilians who were in a vehicle carrying a coffin to the cemetery in Najaf. In a statement, the military said Iraqi troops carred out some 1,250 anti-terror patrols in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: US Soldier dies of wounds at Landstuhl, from an attack near the city of Bayji on November 17, 2005. REPORTS The next two articles are well worth reading in their entirety. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Crying Wolf: Media Disinformation and Death Squads in Occupied Iraq. The phenomenon of death squads operating in Iraq has become generally accepted over recent months. However, in its treatment of the issue, the mainstream media has zealously followed a line of attributing extrajudicial killings to unaccountable Shia militias who have risen to prominence with the electoral victory of Ibramhim Jafaari’s Shia-led government in January. The following article examines both the way in which the information has been widely presented and whether that presentation has any actual basis in fact. Concluding that the attribution to Shia militias is unsustainable, the article considers who the intellectual authors of these crimes against humanity are and what purpose they serve in the context of the ongoing occupation of the country. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: The Man Who Sold the War. Rendon is a man who fills a need that few people even know exists. Two months before al-Haideri took the lie-detector test, the Pentagon had secretly awarded him a $16 million contract to target Iraq and other adversaries with propaganda. One of the most powerful people in Washington, Rendon is a leader in the strategic field known as "perception management," manipulating information -- and, by extension, the news media -- to achieve the desired result. His firm, the Rendon Group, has made millions off government contracts since 1991, when it was hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power." Working under this extraordinary transfer of secret authority, Rendon assembled a group of anti-Saddam militants, personally gave them their name -- the Iraqi National Congress -- and served as their media guru and "senior adviser" as they set out to engineer an uprising against Saddam. It was as if President John F. Kennedy had outsourced the Bay of Pigs operation to the advertising and public-relations firm of J. Walter Thompson. The INC's choice for the worldwide print exclusive was equally easy: Chalabi contacted Judith Miller of The New York Times. Miller, who was close to I. Lewis Libby and other neoconservatives in the Bush administration, had been a trusted outlet for the INC's anti-Saddam propaganda for years. Not long after the CIA polygraph expert slipped the straps and electrodes off al-Haideri and declared him a liar, Miller flew to Bangkok to interview him under the watchful supervision of his INC handlers. Miller later made perfunctory calls to the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency, but despite her vaunted intelligence sources, she claimed not to know about the results of al-Haideri's lie-detector test. Instead, she reported that unnamed "government experts" called his information "reliable and significant" -- thus adding a veneer of truth to the lies. Her front-page story, which hit the stands on December 20th, 2001, was exactly the kind of exposure Rendon had been hired to provide. AN IRAQI DEFECTOR TELLS OF WORK ON AT LEAST 20 HIDDEN WEAPONS SITES, declared the headline. "An Iraqi defector who described himself as a civil engineer," Miller wrote, "said he personally worked on renovations of secret facilities for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in underground wells, private villas and under the Saddam Hussein Hospital in Baghdad as recently as a year ago." If verified, she noted, "his allegations would provide ammunition to officials within the Bush administration who have been arguing that Mr. Hussein should be driven from power partly because of his unwillingness to stop making weapons of mass destruction, despite his pledges to do so." …By law, the Bush administration is expressly prohibited from disseminating government propaganda at home. But in an age of global communications, there is nothing to stop it from planting a phony pro-war story overseas -- knowing with certainty that it will reach American citizens almost instantly. …….."For us, it's a question of patriotism," he says. "It's not a question of politics, and that's an important distinction. I feel very strongly about that personally. If brave men and women are going to be put in harm's way, they deserve support." But in Iraq, American troops and Iraqi civilians were put in harm's way, in large part, by the false information spread by Rendon and the men he trained in information warfare. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Poor Iraqis Face Struggle for Survival. “We are lost people. Nobody cares about us," said Moussa Jabr, as flies swarmed around his young children's faces near rotting food, slimy plastic bags and empty tin cans piled high. A violent uprising and security crackdowns have generated headlines but overshadowed many of the social and economic problems plaguing Iraq since US-led troops toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003 with the promise of democracy and prosperity. Unemployment runs high and bloodshed is keeping investors away from the battered economy, forcing some Iraqis to eke out an existence by sifting through garbage for scraps of food. Families like the Jabrs fear there is no way out. When Saddam's agents destroyed their homes in the Shia-populated marshlands of southern Iraq, the Jabrs and others moved to Baghdad looking for work. Money was scarce and life only got worse after the Iraqi leader was ousted. Every day they comb Baghdad neighbourhoods for rubbish, hoping to find valuables to sell or leftover food. They fill plastic bags with rubbish and bring them to their dump. Birds and cows also pick through the waste as US helicopters fly overhead. INSIDE IRAQ: War, Neglect and Disease Devastate Date Palm Industry. The tree that has been the symbol of Iraq, the land of Twin Rivers, is dying and this year could not give enough yields to meet the country’s needs. A little more than two decades ago Iraq had more date palm trees than any other country in the world. INSIDE IRAQ: Ministry to Launch Five New Universities. “Demand for higher education is rising and the places we have are fewer than the number of applicants,” the ministry said in a statement. “The ministry endeavors to establish one university at least in each of Iraq’s 18 provinces,” the statement added. INSIDE IRAQ: $50 Million to Rehabilitate War-Devastated Tal Afar. At least $3 million will be used to compensate residents and the rest of the money will go to repairing damage inflicted on public utilities, said Abdulaziz al-Najafi, minister of industry and minerals. Najafi said his ministry has “accumulated experience” from rehabilitating the towns and cities U.S. troops have stormed in the past two years to flush out insurgents. “We look at the task (rehabilitating war-torn areas) as a national duty which must positively reflect on the people’s political, economic and psychological conditions,” the minister said. INSIDE IRAQ: Attacks on Oil Costing Iraq at Least $28 Million a Day. Insurgent attacks are costing Iraq about 500,000 barrels of oil a day, almost a third of its daily output. At today's oil prices, that's costing the country at least $28 million in export earnings every day. INSIDE IRAQ: UN Calls for International Probe into Iraq Jails INSIDE IRAQ: Iraqi Kurds will proclaim independence in case of civil war. "May God save us from civil war, but if others start fighting among themselves and there is an outbreak, we will have no other alternative," he said. He said that while independence was a "natural and legitimate right" for Iraqi Kurds, they would "at this stage" implement the country's new constitution in support of a "democratic federal and pluralist" Iraq. Turkey fears a declaration of independence by Iraq's Kurds would inflame a rebellion by separatists within its own large Kurdish minority. INSIDE IRAQ: In Saddam’s Hometown of Tikrit, Election Fever Abounds. On the streets of Saddam Hussein’s hometown, young men were hanging campaign posters, some even reaching out to members of the jailed dictator’s banned political party. Dozens of political groups in this city of 200,000 are competing in next month’s national election, and turnout throughout the heavily Sunni Arab province is expected to be high. INSIDE IRAQ: Report on Dahr Jamail’s website. On September 29, 2005, shortly after 8 p.m., Amal Kadhum Swadi, and her youngest son Safa were arrested by U.S. forces in the Ghazaliya district of Baghdad on suspicion of planting an improvised explosive device. They were just leaving their Baghdad home with other family members, and had opened their garage door to take out the family car, when the Swadi family were swarmed by multiple Humvees and numerous heavily armed U.S. Soldiers with weapons drawn. Haloed by headlights and surrounded by agitated soldiers, mother and son were separated from each other and hidden from view of other family members behind a wall of troops and humvees. They were blindfolded and handcuffed tightly with the plastic zap straps and hoods that have become potent symbols of the dehumanization of Iraqis under occupation. Ms. Swadi and Safa were made to squat on the highway’s dirt embankment while Zaid, her eldest son, was issued a handwritten receipt for his mother and brother. As Zaid yelled into the crowd of soldiers, trying to get response from his mother, Ms. Swadi and Safa were being packed into humvees for the trip to the airport detention facility for further processing, leaving Zaid in a cloud of dust, clutching his receipt and trying to console his sobbing sister. INSIDE IRAQ: Iran and Iraq Sign Security Co-op Agreement. The agreement was inked by Iranian Supreme National Security Council Ali Larijani and visiting Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffaq al-Rubaie on Thursday night. Under the agreement, the two sides will work together for handling security-related issues and holding training courses in the field, said IRNA. “If the security pact is put into practice, it will help Iraq restore stability," Larijani was quoted as saying. INSIDE IRAQ: US Warns Iraqi Authorities to Keep Shiite Militias Out of Security Services. In a statement Thursday, the US Embassy said Iraqi authorities had given assurances that they will investigate the conditions of detainees found Sunday night and that the abuse of prisoners “will not be tolerated by either the Iraqi government” or U.S.-led forces anywhere in the country. “We have made clear to the Iraqi government that there must not be militia or sectarian control or direction of Iraqi security forces, facilities or ministries,” the US statement added. REPORT: Shi’ites, Kurds Walk Out of Iraqi Talks in Cairo, Egypt. Shiite and Kurdish delegates stormed out of an Iraqi reconciliation conference Saturday, halting the effort to patch over ethnic and religious fault lines threatening to drag the country into a full civil war. Sunni leaders were expected to press ahead with demands that the Shiite-dominated government agree to a timetable for the withdrawal of the foreign troops and drastic amendments to the constitution ratified Oct. 15. They also want to "recognize" the resistance and "rebuild" Saddam Hussein's army in order to bring back his former officers. Shiites and Kurds instead insist that Sunni leaders denounce violence and distance themselves from the insurgency. REPORT: Iraqi Conference Resumes After Walk-out. Hours after the conference began, an Iraqi Christian delegate, Ibrahim Menas al-Youssefi, took the podium and accused fellow delegates of being American stooges. He said the entire Iraqi political process was illegitimate and orchestrated by Washington. Within the hour, Sunni delegate Mohammed Shehab al-Dulaimi told reporters the conference had resumed after the delegate apologized and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa ruled that al-Youssefi's comments would be struck from the record. OUTSIDE IRAQ: Former Halliburton Employee Gets 15 Months in Prison for Iraq Kickback Scheme. Glenn Allen Powell was convicted of accepting more than 100-thousand-dollars from an Iraqi company that was awarded a construction contract in Iraq. THE SHAME OF AMERICA: White House Blamed for Iraq Abuses. The former US commander of Abu Ghraib prison says that she was held up unfairly as a scapegoat by "male warriors", but the real blame for the abuse scandal rests with military leaders and the White House. THE SHAME OF AMERICA: News report details CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques. By "Long Time Standing," the technique described as among the most effective, prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions. In "Cold Cell," the prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 10 degrees Celsius, and throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water. By "Water Boarding," the prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. The prisoner begins to gag and fearing he is to be drowned, pleas to confess, according to the report. The other techniques are "Belly Slap" -- a hard open-handed slap to the stomach; "Attention Grab" -- the interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him; and "Attention Slap" - an open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear. In one case, a prisoner was left to stand naked throughout the harsh Afghanistan night after being doused with cold water, and died of hypothermia, the report said. THE SHAME OF BRITAIN: New Iraqi abuse photos discovered in Scotland. British solders had machine guns pointed at handcuffed detainee’s heads. THE SHAME OF AMERICA: Phosphorus “may have killed” in Iraq. The US military on Wednesday acknowledged it might have killed civilians in the Iraqi city of Falluja with white phosphorus munitions during the battle against insurgents a year ago. THE WAR AT HOME: Two Charged Over Iraq War Leak. A former Labour MP's researcher and a civil servant were released on police bail last night after being charged under the Official Secrets Act with a "damaging disclosure" of a foreign policy document from the Cabinet Office. Though officials were saying little last night about an investigation that has been under way for more than a year, initial indications suggested it related to documents on the Iraq war that found their way into a national newspaper. THE WAR AT HOME: Arms Controversy in Iraq. Civilian fatalities in Fallujah raise concerns about US military’s use of phosphorous munitions. (I would bet that there is no controversy about this in Iraq, only in the USA.) THE WAR AT HOME: House Erupts Over Iraq. Republicans and Democrats shouted, howled and slung vicious insults on the House floor on Friday as a debate over whether to withdraw American troops from Iraq descended into a vitriolic fury over President Bush's handling of the war and a leading Democrat's call to bring the troops home. THE WAR AT HOME: Pentagon Opens Review of Controversial Unit’s Use of Iraq Intelligence. The Pentagon's inspector general initiated the probe of the Office of Special Plans at the request of Senators Pat Roberts, a Republican, and Carl Levin, a Democrat. Critics of the war have charged that the Office of Special Plans was used to "cherry-pick" intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and links to al-Qaeda to buttress the administration's case for invading Iraq in 2003. In the runup to the war the controversial office was under Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense for policy who left the government earlier this year. "The overall objective will be to determine whether personnel assigned to the Office of Special Plans from September 2002 through June 2003 conducted unauthorized, unlawful or inappropriate intelligence activities," the memo by Defense Deaprtment acting deputy inspector general Stephen Young said. THE WAR AT HOME: Right-wing Smear Campaign Against Antiwar Vet Jimmy Massey. The interest of the right wing in this reporter’s work is clear. They see it as a means of denying the obvious—that the US war has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 civilians—and of further intimidating the media from reporting the ongoing war crimes in Iraq. They also want to silence an opponent of the war whose sharp critique of American militarism is based on more than a dozen years in the US Marine Corps. Curiously, Harris’s smear against Massey has received more coverage from some sections of the mass media than Massey’s original story. For example, CNN—which never interviewed Massey in the two years since he returned from Iraq—invited Harris onto the network’s “American Morning” program last week to call the antiwar vet a liar. No attempt was made to get Massey’s response or allow him to rebut what amounted to character assassination. THE WAR AT HOME: Iraq Vets Help Other Iraq Vets Heal THE WAR AT HOME: THE BIG LIE TECHNIQUE. The Defense Intelligence Agency finally declassified its investigative report, DITSUM No. 044-02, within recent days. This smoking-gun document proves the Bush Administration's key evidence for the apocryphal Osama bin Laden-Saddam Hussein alliance — said by Bush to involve training in the use of weapons of mass destruction — was built upon the testimony of a prisoner who, according to the DIA, was probably "intentionally misleading the debriefers." Yet, despite the government having been informed of this by the Pentagon's intelligence agency in February 2002, Bush told the nation eight months later, on the eve of the Senate's vote to authorize the war, that "we've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and gases." The false al Qaeda-Hussein link was the linchpin to Bush's argument that he could not delay the invasion until after the United Nations weapons inspectors completed their investigation in a matter of months. Perhaps, he feared not that those weapons would fall into the wrong hands but that they would not be found at all. Boxed in by international sanctions, weapons inspectors, U.S. fighter jets patrolling two huge no-fly zones and powerful rivals on all his borders, Hussein in 2003 was decidedly not a threat to America. The White House believed the ends (occupying Iraq) justified the means (exaggerating the threat). We know now those ends have proved disastrous. POSSIBLE UPCOMING WARS: Friendly Fire and the US in Iran. In recent months, the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) and its attempts to prove that the Islamic Republic of Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons garnered widespread media coverage and speculation. While bringing forth a modicum of new information, the attention fails to illuminate just how dangerous the MEK could be to the United States. …..By lobbying to remove the MEK from the US's list of foreign terrorist organizations and considering the group as leverage to destabilize, overthrow, and/or replace Tehran's clerical government, supporters ignore the unsavory history of the MEK. (They never learn, do they?) POSSIBLE UPCOMING WARS: The New York Times, Nuclear Weapons and Iran: Stupidity, Laziness or Déjà vu All Over Again? “William J. Broad and David E. Sanger repeatedly characterize the contents of computer files as containing information about a nuclear warhead design when the information actually describes a reentry vehicle for a missile. This distinction is not minor, and Broad should understand the difference between the two objects, particularly when the information does not contain any words such as nuclear or nuclear warhead.” (They never learn either, I guess.) POSSIBLE UPCOMING WARS: American Christian Fundamentalist Leader Calls for Global War. If Christian fundamentalists are to be believed, America's invasion of Iraq and the consequent brutal slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians in that country are all part of a grand divine plan that will finally culminate in the 'second coming' of Jesus Christ. POSSIBLE UPCOMING WARS: Evidence Mounts That Bush Wants New Wars. To repeat, despite Bush's arguments to the contrary, the "clash of civilizations" would consist of wars started by us. The killing of innocent people in these wars is likely to be massive, and the wars could at any time turn nuclear. If the people and the politicians of America allow these wars to take place, the stain on the morality of Americans will last for generations. POSSIBLE UPCOMING WARS: Zarqawi threatens more bombings of hotels and tourist sites HUMOR OUTSIDE IRAQ: Arab-American Comics Combat Ignorance with Caustic Humor. For Zayid, humour is a key tool in promoting understanding by deconstructing ignorance. "It's a way of saying to people: 'See, we think it's crazy too,'" she said. COMMENTARY OPINION: Iraqi Diplomacy, Right Steps. Iraq is witnessing extensive political activity: The president made a successful visit to Italy; and Iraq has been visited by the US and British foreign ministers; the Italian defence minister; the Russian security affairs council; and the United Nations' secretary-general. These visits, coinciding with the Arab League's sponsorship of the reconciliation conference in Cairo, prove the Iraqi determination to move on with the political process after the elections and overcome Iraq's critical situation. Investing in these efforts is the best way to help rid Iraq of the current violence. Patriotic Iraqis are keen on rebuilding their country after many tragic decades of accumulated oppression. All Iraqis are required to stand side by side to build a better and brighter future for themselves and future generations.(Al-Ittihad is published daily by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.) OPINION: It’s Not Just Judy. The Wicked Witch of the Eastern Media Establishment is gone! Long live The New York Times! Well, hooray, I suppose. Though if that refrain is the final word on the Judith Miller saga, we’re in deeper trouble than I thought. To be sure, I’ve been as outspoken as anyone about the "Miller problem"—her credulous, duplicitous hyping of non-existent WMDs; her enthusiastic prejudging and exaggeration of complicated "oil-for-food" allegations involving Kofi Annan and the United Nations. But now that she has finally "resigned," let it be said that getting rid of Judy Miller is only the beginning of the reforms necessary at The New York Times and in journalism generally. OPINION: Our Monsters in Iraq. It is time to start waving the bloody shirt. There is no longer any doubt that the men that the United States has installed in power in Iraq are monsters. Not only that, but they are monsters armed, trained and supported by George W. Bush's administration. The very same Bush administration that defends torture of captives in the so-called War on Terrorism is using 150,000 U.S. troops to support a regime in Baghdad for which torture, assassination and other war crimes are routine. So far, it appears that the facts are these: that Iraq's interior ministry, whose top officials, strike forces and police commando units (including the so-called Wolf Brigade) are controlled by paramilitary units from Shiite militias, maintained a medieval torture chamber; that inside that facility, hundreds of mostly Sunni Arab men were bestialized, with electric drills skewering their bones, with their skins flayed off, and more; that roving units of death-squad commandos are killing countless other Sunni Arab men in order to terrorize the Iraqi opposition. This is not a surprise. Nearly two years ago, writing in the American Prospect, I wrote the following: "The Prospect has learned that part of a secret $3 billion in new funds—tucked away in the $87 billion Iraq appropriation that Congress approved in early November—will go toward the creation of a paramilitary unit manned by militiamen associated with former Iraqi exile groups...The bulk of the covert money will support U.S. efforts to create a lethal, and revenge-minded, Iraqi security force." Except for a parallel story by Sy Hersh in the New Yorker, the story was ignored. (I have to point out – it is very common for our government to arm, fund and support our future enemies. There is a long history of doing exactly that. -Susan) Last week I had a chilling encounter with one of the monsters responsible for the Murder Inc. units run by Badr and by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). At a Washington think tank, I met Adel Abdul Mahdi, Iraq's so-called deputy president and a SCIRI official. When I asked Mahdi about reports that Iraqi police and interior ministry squads were carrying out assassinations and other illegal acts, he didn't deny it—but, he said, such acts were merely a reaction to the terrorism of the resistance. "There is terrorism on only one side," he said. "Inappropriate acts by the other side, by the police—this is something else. This is a reaction." As far as civilian casualties in Sunni towns, he had this to say: "You can't fight terrorism without attacking some popular areas." (Sounds almost exactly like the Pentagon’s explanations for killing civilians, doesn’t it? Can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, and after all, “the ends justify the means” don’t ya know?–Susan) I also asked him about the Badr Brigade, (see above story about them) the Iranian-backed paramilitary force that is the main domestic army propping up Abdul Mahdi's Shiite coalition, he said "they are disarmed," which is patently absurd. He added: "They participate fully in the political process." OPINION: The Immorality Deception- A talk by Congregation Minister Robin Meyers at Oklahoma Peace Rally on November 14, 2004. Tonight, I join ranks of those who are angry, because I have watched as the faith I love has been taken over by fundamentalists who claim to speak for Jesus, but whose actions are anything but Christian. ….Well, I'm a great believer in moral values, but we need to have a discussion, all over this country, about exactly what constitutes a moral value -- I mean what are we talking about. Because we don't get to make them up as we go along, especially not if we are people of faith. We have an inherited tradition of what is right and wrong, and moral is as moral does. Let me give you just a few of the reasons why I take issue with those in power who claim moral values are on their side: When you start a war on false pretenses, and then act as if your deceptions are justified because you are doing God's will, and that your critics are either unpatriotic or lacking in faith, there are some of us who have given our lives to teaching and preaching the faith who believe that this is not only not moral, but immoral. -- When you live in a country that has established international rules for waging a just war, build the United Nations on your own soil to enforce them, and then arrogantly break the very rules you set down for the rest of the world, you are doing something immoral. OPINION: Brave New Bobcat World. Good religion teaches men that politics is the most important enterprise in the eyes of God. Like Moses, Machiavelli wants the law of his state to be seen, and therefore obeyed, as divinely ordered," Ledeen wrote. "The combination of fear of God and fear of punishment - duly carried out with good arms - provides the necessary discipline for good government." OPINION: A Breeding Ground in Iraq. The confirmation that the terrorists who bombed three US-owned hotels in Amman were Iraqi reveals a new dimension of the jihadist threat. Not only is it now clear that Iraq can be the launching point for attacks outside its borders, but equally important a new, possibly large cadre of terrorists must be reckoned with. To see this radicalization in action, one need only look at the case of Sajida Mubarak al-Rishawi, the fourth bomber in Amman, whose device did not detonate. Al-Rishawi has said that she was motivated by the deaths of her three brothers who fought US forces. With estimates of 25,000 to more than 100,000 Iraqis dead because of the strife, we can expect more individuals to decide that a foreign, non-Muslim power is to blame for the mess and that they must take action. The emergence of an Iraqi jihadist movement is especially worrisome because the radicals have also acquired a sanctuary in the overwhelmingly Sunni-dominated al Anbar province, large parts of which have been a no-go zone for coalition forces. PEACE ACTION: The White House said it was “baffled” by Rep. Murtha’s call for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq within six months. Let Congress know that there is nothing baffling about Rep. Murtha’s stand. Follow the link to let Congress know that you are heartened by Representative Murtha’s call for a change in direction in Iraq. CASUALTY REPORTS Local Story: Sparta soldier dies in Iraq where three brothers also served. The family asked that doctors take any of his viable organs for transplants. Local Story: Brandon Soldier killed in Iraq joined military for a better job. Local Story: Four soldiers from 101st killed by bomb in Iraq, one dies in vehicle crash Local Story: Second Freedom Area grad to die in Iraq (Penn.) QUOTE OF THE DAY: Invade Iraq and you open the gates of hell. –Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League


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