WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY DECEMBER 17, 2005
Bring ‘em on:
US Soldier killed in Balad by IED on December 15, 2005.
Bring ‘em on:
Purported al Qaeda video outlines attack on Abu Ghraib prison last April.
Iraq Eases Election Security Measures
Iraqi authorities on Saturday eased some of the tight security measures imposed for this week's parliament elections, lifting the ban on traffic and opening all border crossings except along the frontier with Syria. There was little violence around Iraq for a third day. Ppolice in the northern city of Kirkuk reported that unidentified gunmen opened fire on a squad car, killing one officer and seriously injuring another.
An election official said it could be 10 days before results from Thursday's election are released and called on Iraqis to be patient. "We want to announce the elections results as soon possible so that the public can rest," Abdul-Hussein Hendawi said. "Getting the final elections results may not happen before 10 more days, maybe more, maybe less."
He cautioned there was no official date for their release because the commission was "taking the needed time to review the complaints" made about the handling of the election and expected to get more.
Sunni Alliance Hails Iraq Election as Success
The main Arab Sunni alliance that contested Iraq's election said on Saturday it had been a success, fuelling U.S. hopes peaceful politics will help pave the way for a troop withdrawal. Washington and its allies in the Shi'ite and Kurdish-led government have been trying to lure Sunnis into the political process, hoping to undercut support for the Sunni insurgency.
"The election process succeeded ... Thank God there were only a few cases in a huge country where there is death and violence," Adnan al-Dulaimi, leader of one of the parties in the Iraqi Accordance Front, told a news conference. Independent Electoral Commission chief Hussein Hendawi told a news conference that there would be no need for recounting of votes in any polling station after he was asked about complaints of violations in the former rebel stronghold of Falluja.
Iraqis Seize Their Destiny in Elections
In Baghdad's normally jam-packed streets, the children were out playing football. The only traffic was the occasional police car and a few patrolling tanks. The security measures were exceptional. The atmosphere was remarkable. At a polling station I visited in a smart Baghdad suburb, Iraqis were revelling in a rare moment of peace. They put on their best clothes to go out and vote. Iraqis had some sense of a control over their own future.
Falluja – One Year On
During the sieges of Falluja US soldiers occupied the main hospital in the city arresting doctors and handcuffing medical personal. The military treated doctors inhumanely. Myself and another doctor were trying to transport a patient from Falluja to Baghdad. The soldiers stopped our ambulance even though we had informed them in advance that we would be trying to move the patient. We were told to leave the ambulance and place our hands on our heads and kneel down. Snipers positioned their guns towards our heads. We were forced to remain in this position for several hours. We were denied the right to check on our patient and ensure that he was ok.
During the first siege of Falluja one of our ambulances was trying to transport a family of three, two women and one man near Abdul Aziz Asamari mosque near the centre of Falluja when US soldier shot at the ambulance and injured the driver. He managed to escape from the ambulance- but the vehicle was forced to remain in the area for three days with the patients inside the ambulance. After four days we were able to bring the ambulance back to the hospital- the three patients had bled to death inside the ambulance.
Soldier Breathes Life Into Iraqi Child
Security forces from Task Force Freedom conducted a miraculous act on a young Iraqi boy in Mosul December 15. Soldiers were patrolling a neighborhood near a home where an Iraqi man was seen holding a lifeless baby who had drowned in the flooded basement of their home. The child had a blue tone to his body as a medic, SPC Lucas Crowe, from 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment administered aid to the 3-year old boy. The child became responsive, released water from his mouth and screamed a cry that Soldiers were elated to hear. After resuscitating the young boy, the combat medic from 2-1 Infantry turned the child on his side and monitored his breathing until an ambulance arrived.
Iraq Leaders Lay Markers as Election Commission Accused
Political leaders in Iraq and abroad focused on Saturday on a government for the war-torn nation while a high-profile secular candidate charged that an electoral commission had failed in its mission. The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq cautioned that ballots from Thursday’s legislative poll were still being counted and official results would not be available before the end of the year. Unofficial estimates, however, suggested polarized results similar to those from elections in January, and Adnan Al Dulaimi of the Iraqi National Concord Front, a list strongly supported by Sunni Arabs, said he was ready to join a coalition.
But former planning minister Mehdi Al Hafez told media in Baghdad: “The results that have been announced are incorrect and are meant to influence public opinion.” He spoke after reports of a sweeping victory for the main religious Shia coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), in nine southern provinces.
Warrant Issued for UN Bombing Suspect
Iraq has issued an arrest warrant naming Mullah Halgurd al-Khabir as the "prime suspect" in the bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, the U.S. military said Friday. Twenty-two people died in Aug. 19, 2003, attack, including the top U.N. special envoy in Iraq, Sergio Viera de Mello. The U.S. statement identified al-Khabir as Baghdad-area commander for the Islamic militant Ansar al-Sunnah Army, which has ties to al-Qaida in Iraq.
NEWS ON THE WOLF BRIGADE
US Calls For Sacking of Iraq’s Interior Minister Over Sunni Prisoner Abuse
The US is pressing for the sacking of Bayan Jabr, Iraq's Shia interior minister, whose staff have been discovered to be torturing Sunni prisoners. With a strong Sunni role in Iraq's next government apparently secure after their high turnout in Thursday's election, US officials want to ensure that cabinet posts are no longer exploited for sectarian or partisan ends. Sunnis have long complained that the interior ministry is one of the worst offenders.
The second detention centre uncovered was bigger than Jadriyah. Housed in old stables once used by Saddam Hussein's younger son, Uday, it contained more than 600 men and boys. Between 20 and 25 showed signs of abuse, the ambassador said this week. The centre was run by the Wolf Brigade, a police commando unit, which - Sunnis say - has set up death squads that target Sunni clerics and politicians. Mr Jabr denies this.
A desire to stop abuses by what Sunnis see as a biased government was a factor in persuading many Sunnis to take part in this week's poll. (Well, one has to wonder why the US authorities decided to act just before the polls instead of months ago. It’s not like it wasn’t clear that the Wolf Brigade was torturing “terrorists” for some time (they showed them on TV) and somehow, I don’t think a sense of hypocrisy was holding the US authorities back. Be sure to read about how our media covers the Wolf Brigade and how the pro-war, pro-American occupation bloggers feel about the Wolf Brigade further down in post. – Susan)
Wolf Brigade the Most Loved and Feared in Iraq. (May 2005)
The complaints against the Wolf Brigade were the usual: excessive force, renegade patrols, kidnapping, murder. The charges came from Iraq's most powerful Sunni Muslim leaders, and Abul Waleed clearly relished reading them. It's precisely this take-no-prisoners reputation that's made his Wolf Brigade the most feared and revered of all of Iraq's nascent security forces.
"The Muslim Scholars Association? They're infidels," Abul Waleed said, tossing his detractors' complaints into the wastebasket. "The Islamic Party? Humph. More like the Fascist Party."
No matter how many complaints about heavy-handedness pile up on Abul Waleed's desk, there's no changing the fact that the Wolf Brigade rules public opinion in a country desperate for Iraqi heroes. With their televised humiliation of terror suspects and their dapper uniforms, the Wolf Brigade restores some of the national pride stripped away by war and foreign occupation.
While the nation's fledgling police and armed forces are derided as corrupt or incompetent, the Wolf Brigade is the exception. Their logo is a snarling wolf, and their TV show, "Terrorists in the Grip of Justice," is the most watched program in the country. Harassed parents silence noisy children with threats to call the Wolves. Housewives swoon over their "broad shoulders" and "toughness."
FLASHBACK ON THE WOLF BRIGADE:
Sunni Men in Baghdad Targeted by Attackers in Police Uniforms (June 2005)
Iraqi and American officials said the murders aren't being investigated systematically, but in dozens of interviews with families and Iraqi officials, and a review of medical records, a Knight Ridder reporter and two special correspondents found more than 30 examples of this type of killing in less than a week. They include 12 cases with specific dates, times, names and witnesses who said they might come forward if asked by law enforcement.
The Interior Ministry, which oversees the Iraqi police, denies any involvement in the killings. But eyewitnesses said that many of the dead were apprehended by large groups of men driving white Toyota Land Cruisers with police markings. The men were wearing police commando uniforms and bulletproof vests, carrying expensive 9-millimeter Glock pistols and using sophisticated radios, the witnesses said. U.S. officials, who have advisers in the Interior Ministry, have said that they're aware of the abductions and killings, but that they think the murders are the work of insurgents posing as police.
Baqr said he's been unable to catalog the deaths because so many bodies have been brought through his morgue and because he doesn't have enough doctors. Before March 2003, he said, the morgue handled 200 to 250 suspicious deaths a month, about 16 of which included firearm injuries. He said he now sees 700 to 800 suspicious deaths a month, with some 500 having firearm wounds. (This was May, the total number of suspicious deaths from violence a month in Baghdad is now over 1,100 and continues to rise. – Susan)
The man in charge of the Yarmuk morgue, who gave his name as Abu Amir, said he remembers the day the commandos brought Jassim's corpse. "The commandos told me to keep the body outside of the refrigerator so that the dogs could eat it because he's a terrorist and he deserves it," Abu Amir said. The killings didn't stop in May.
Saadi Khalif's body was also found at Yarmuk. The 52-year-old Sunni, along with his brother Mohammed, was taken from his home in western Baghdad on June 10. His abductors rode up in pickup trucks painted with Iraqi police insignia, his family said. About 10 came into the house, while about twice as many fanned out in the street outside, forming a security perimeter. They had radios, uniforms, flak vests and helmets, family members said. (A lot of evidence to ignore. More on the Wolf Brigade under Media Issues. – Susan)
THE WAR AT HOME:
Tale of Two Wars
The White House has hit on an ingenious way to win the war in Iraq. It is all laid out in a White House policy paper, “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.”
The strategy was conceived and written not by the nation’s top military strategists but rather by Peter Feaver, an associate professor at Duke University whose field is public opinion and polling. Feaver, hired by the National Security Council earlier this year, is a co-author of “Casualty Sensitivity and the War in Iraq,” a study that found, “When the public believes the mission will succeed, the public is willing to continue supporting the mission, even as costs mount. When the public thinks victory is not likely, even small costs will be highly corrosive.”
In essence, the way to win the war is to declare “victory” as imminent. And that is what President George W. Bush has been doing as he tours the country promoting the “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.”
THE WAR AT HOME:
US House Again Rejects Quick Withdrawal from Iraq. Republicans pushed a resolution through the House of Representatives on Friday rejecting a timetable to pull U.S. troops from Iraq, the second time in recent weeks they have forced a vote on the issue. Democrats said Republicans had used a resolution meant to congratulate Iraq for this week's elections as a means to try to divide Democrats and lash out at critics of President George W. Bush's war policies. (More political posturing – Susan)
GETTING BACK TO THE WOLF BRIGADE: ABC NEWS:
Vargas does a video blog in Iraq, covering the training of the Wolf Brigade and mentions that they are “controversial”. And that is as far as her investigative reporting, and ABC investigating reporting, takes her.
IN ANOTHER REPORT, VARGAS STATES:
But for millions of Iraqis, real security comes in the form of the most feared commando unit in the country -- the notorious Wolf Brigade. Recruits cannot apply, they must be chosen by fellow members. Most are former Iraqi Special Forces. "Show me where the enemies are," they chant. "Where are the terrorists?"
Gen. Rasheed Mohammed, the Wolf Brigade's commander, says his unit is effective and, at times, brutal. "We don't have eavesdropping or electronic monitoring," he said. "And sometimes we have to be aggressive to come up with a confession from a detainee. Of course, you should not torture." Mohammed calls it an “Iraqi approach to Iraqi problems”.
(Ms. Vargas shows a level of ignorance, credulity and naivety that is (to me) unbelievable. No wonder the American public is so uninformed, if all they do is watch this crap on their TVs. They will be SHOCKED, SHOCKED, SHOCKED one day to wake up and find out the world turely hates our country. They will have no clue as to why such a thing would be true. – Susan)
VARGAS DOES NOT READ AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL:
During the night of 12 May security forces from the Wolf Brigade, a unit under the control of the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, stormed a block of flats of the Baladiyat Palestinian Building in Baladiyat Camp in Baghdad, and arrested the four men on suspicion of being responsible for a bomb attack earlier that day in the Baghdad al-Jadidda district. Members of the Wolf Brigade were said to have beaten the four men with rifle butts when they arrested them.
On 13 May, the authorities announced the arrest of four men in connection with the bomb attack of 12 May and Faraj, ‘Adnan and Amir ‘Abdullah Mulhim, and Mas’ud Nur al-Din al-Mahdi were shown on the satellite television channel al-‘Iraqiyya. On 14 May they were paraded on al-‘Iraqiyya "confessing" responsibility for the bomb attack. Relatives who watched this programme said the four had injuries on their faces suggesting that torture was used to extract the "confessions".
ALL THE ABOVE BRILLIANTLY PUT TOGETHER BY A BLOGGER:
It was very shrewd of the U.S. to spoon-feed this little martial-arts demonstration to Vargas. Anyone who watched the story on last night's news or who sees it on the Net will hear about "brutal tactics" on the part of the commandos and think, "Oh -- choke holds that temporarily knock you out. That's not brutal -- that's just tough. Why are the liberals whining?" Lots of Americans already hear "torture" in reference to Abu Ghraib and other prisons and think, "Torture? Naked monkey piles? That's just a college fraternity prank." The same propaganda principle applies here.
Vargas says "brutal" and "bullies," but she never mentions the allegations of unambiguous torture cited above -- nor does she note that the Wolf Brigade and other commando units have been linked to extrajudicial executions, perhaps including that of Yasser Salihee, (Knight Ridder has established that he was shot by someone in the US military. – Susan) an Iraqi journalist who was murdered shortly after he coauthored this Knight Ridder story
that mentioned the Wolf Brigade in the context of revenge killings. Given the standards of TV journalism today, you wonder: Does Vargas even know about these things? Does she know anything about the commando units apart from what she learned, probably, in a brief cram session just before doing this report?
(Well, she’s not following Amnesty International. I recommend this blog, which is by Steve M., also known as No More Mister Nice Blog. He said this in the comments section: “I watched ABC again tonight. The entire Vargas series in Iraq looks as if it was arranged by the Lincoln Group.” I agree. – Susan)
NON-CORPORATE US MEDIA COVERS WHAT A REPORTER IN IRAQ UNCOVERED:
Yasser Salihee is dead. He was on his way to drive his family to a swimming pool in western Baghdad when he was struck by a single bullet to head – he died instantly. Some say he was an unintentional casualty of war. Some whisper, “the wolves got him.” (Someone in the US military shot him for not slowing down at a temporary checkpoint. – Susan)
You see, since May, Dr. Salihee, had been reporting on the similarities between the death squads used in El Salvador to obliterate their “insurgency” and the US military’s creation of the “Wolf Brigade” that has been unleashed to eliminate the Iraqi “insurgency.” Our government calls it Operation Lightening.
To be clear, there is no shame in the game of the US military – they make no secret that the Wolf Brigade is modeled after the death squads in El Salvador. In fact, up until April 2005, the main advisor to the Wolf Brigade was a man named James Steele. (This article was published in July 2005.)
The Wolf Brigade says that they are patriots. They utilize television to depict the insurgency’s humiliation. In fact, “Terrorist in the Grip of Justice” is the most watched TV program in the country. They wear snappy red berets and ride around in white $55,000 vehicles. When children get too out of hand their parents threaten them with “calling the wolves.” One young man was quoted as saying “when I see them I feel safe. I feel we have a country with a government.” It appears Operation Lightning has quite a fan base.
I remember a time in the United States when bodies with their hands tied behind their backs were found floating in rivers. Bodies never identified by loved ones. Bodies buried in mass graves. The organization that put them there has quite a fan base too. (I recommend this blog also: they totally understand racism in America. – Susan)
HOW DO THE PRO-WAR PRO-AMERICAN BLOGGERS VIEW THE WOLF BRIGADE?
One of the most encouraging reports from Iraq I've read in recent months. If the war there is to be won, it will be the Wolf Brigade and similar Iraqi forces that win it. “The complaints against the Wolf Brigade were the usual: excessive force, renegade patrols, kidnapping, murder. The charges came from Iraq's most powerful Sunni Muslim leaders, and Abul Waleed clearly relished reading them. It's precisely this take-no-prisoners reputation that's made his Wolf Brigade the most feared and revered of all of Iraq's nascent security forces.”
I can't wait for Riverbend and Raed Jarrar to start complaining about them. :) Posted by Stephen at May 21, 2005 (This is a guy who attacks the anti-war crowd and liberals in general on a regular basis. – Susan)
According to Al-Iraqia TV, the Wolf brigade's intelligence elements successfully infiltrated the terrorist groups in the Abu Ghraib region and the information gathered this way paved the way for the latest operation. The successful raids, which represent the largest operation performed by Iraqi forces so far, had resulted in arresting 450 suspected terrorists. The brigade depended mainly on its intelligence personnel who recognized the suspects' faces and pointed them out one by one.
The Wolf brigade did almost all the job with the multinational forces providing backup when needed. (The Wolf Brigade was well known for putting “terrorists” on TV to confess to their crimes, and these “terrorists” were obviously tortured. This has been going on for months and months. So, did they infiltrate or did they torture these “terrorist groups”? – Susan)
OUR PRICELESS, PRICELESS MEDIA:
Counting Iraqi Casualties – Why Didn’t the Press Ask?
At the close of a public event on December 12, Bush took questions from the audience. And the very first question was unusually direct: "I'd like to know the approximate total of Iraqis who have been killed. And by Iraqis, I include civilians, military police, insurgents, translators." Bush's response: "How many Iraqi citizens have died in this war? I would say 30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis."
But the most interesting and perhaps obvious aspect of this incident has gone largely untouched: Why haven't reporters asked Bush this question yet? White House spokesman Scott McLellan has rarely had to answer questions about Iraqi deaths during his regular press briefings (a few exceptions have come from syndicated columnist Helen Thomas and progressive journalist Russell Mokhiber).
OUR PRICELESS, PRICELESS MEDIA:
“The clothes also concealed the explosives strapped around her womb.” (How can they write such drivel??? Now, how on earth do you strap anything around a womb??? One would think they would be embarrassed to publish something as dumb as that. The article is about a female suicide bomber in Iraq. - Susan)
US MILITARY AND THEIR MEDIA:
Will Pay For Good News
What outrages many of us is not that corruption is rampant in most of the so-called "developing nations." Corruption is a way of life in poor countries, and is certainly not limited to the press (try getting through Customs sometime). No, there are three other good reasons why this latest episode ought to make us angry. First, as far as we know, the journalists didn’t ask for money—the Pentagon offered it. And it did so as part of an organized and well-funded program, complete with its own contractor.
Second, it did so in secret. Absent the Los Angeles Times , which broke the story, chances are that none of us would ever have known that bribing journalists for ‘good news’ coverage of the Iraq war was yet another example of our tax dollars at work. Such transparency has been poison to the Bush administration. Worst of all, the Defense Department’s payola scheme was being carried out at the same time the State Department’s exchange program was working to teach foreign journalists about the role and responsibility of a free press.
Why is this the worst aspect of this situation? Because it adds to the widespread perception of U.S. hypocrisy— at a time when we are spending millions trying to "win hearts and minds" around the world. The task that President Bush gave his longtime confidante Karen Hughes—now undersecretary of state for public affairs and public diplomacy—was arguably an impossible job in the first place. How does even the most competent diplomat go about convincing the world that Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe were aberrations, for which people were held accountable and sent to jail? How can Karen Hughes persuade anyone that America is a fair and compassionate society based on the rule of law when evidence keeps piling up that justice is meted out to everyone except the policymakers who are actually responsible?
THE RESPONSE AT HOME:
Positive Spin: Priceless
This "uncovered" policy of our government paying for favorable journalism in Iraq is completely understandable. It happens every day at network news meetings in the U.S.A. Network corporate execs determine the news that is beneficial to corporate America, which would of course be any that is good PR for the current administration. It's the same game.
Actually, if it helps people around the world resist our efforts to win their hearts and minds, which means enslavement to the neoliberal economics of imperialism, then I am delighted that the Pentagon, representing the U.S. government, did this deed. Progressives should not support winning hearts and minds, that is just trickery. We should support liberty and national liberation with self-determination for the peoples of the many nations of the world.
US MILITARY AND THEIR MEDIA:
The media center in Fayetteville, N.C., would be the envy of any global communications company. In state of the art studios, producers prepare the daily mix of music and news for the group's radio stations or spots for friendly television outlets. Writers putting out newspapers and magazines in Baghdad and Kabul converse via teleconferences. Mobile trailers with high-tech gear are parked outside, ready for the next crisis.
The center is not part of a news organization, but a military operation, and those writers and producers are soldiers. The 1,200-strong psychological operations unit based at Fort Bragg turns out what its officers call "truthful messages" to support the United States government's objectives, though its commander acknowledges that those stories are one-sided and their American sponsorship is hidden.
US MILITARY AND THEIR MEDIA:
Pentagon Outsources Fake News to Lincoln Group
The Pentagon has awarded the shadowy Washington, DC based Lincoln Group a psychological warfare operations (PsyOps) a/k/a propaganda contract worth $100 million to plant fake news in Iraqi newspapers -- even though the principals of the company have no experience in public relations or marketing.
The principal of Lincoln Group, Christian Bailey, is a 30-year-old Oxford graduate with no public relations experience. "Christian Bailey may not be his real name: a number of student associates said at some point during his four years that he changed his name from Yusefovich - an unlikely surname for someone called Christian," reports the UK Independent. Is this another gay fake news payoff, like the gay hooker/ journalist "Jeff Gannon," by the Republicans for "services rendered"?
US MILITARY AND THEIR MEDIA:
So, Just Who Is Christian Bailey?
It was recently revealed that Bailey's company was the recipient of a $100m (£56m) contract from Donald Rumsfeld's Department of Defence for buying space in Iraqi newspapers to place deliberately one-sided stories written by US "psy-ops" troops, at a time when the chaos of Iraq makes genuine journalism all but impossible and when journalists risk their lives on a daily basis to report the truth.
As part of the project - in which the US military hid its involvement - Lincoln Group staff paid Iraqi journalists to write similarly misleading stories about US forces and the Iraqi government that ignored anything negative about the occupation. One headline read: "Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism." (The bad news is the good news is fake. – Susan)
US MILITARY AND THEIR MEDIA:
Media In Iraq: The Fallacy of Psy-Ops
Some top Pentagon officials say they are justified in planting positive stories in the Iraqi media about U.S actions in order to present a more positive image. Whether the policy is ethically correct misses the larger point. Pushing PR or propaganda simply doesn't work.
The Pentagon has awarded three known contracts to the Lincoln Group, SYColeman Inc. and Science Applications International Corp., totaling a potential $300 million over five years. The purpose, quoting from the Lincoln Group's Web site (www.lincolngroup.com), is to "inject more creativity into its psychological operations efforts to improve foreign public opinion about the United States, particularly the military."
What is unknown is how much intelligence agencies are spending for similar psy-ops operations. In addition, the administration has requested $93.1 million in 2006 for Al-Hurrah TV and Radio Sawa, whose missions include spreading the U.S. message, but which are seen as non-indigenous, non-independent stations in the Arab world, with little credibility.
US MILITARY AND THEIR MEDIA:
US Widens Iraq Media Coverage Inquiry
U.S. investigators have expanded their Iraqi news coverage query to examine an Army-financed press club. The Baghdad Press Club was created last year by the U.S. military to promote progress amid the violence and chaos of Iraq, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a military spokesman, told USA Today.
The Army acknowledges funding the club and offering "reporter compensation," but insists officers did not demand favorable coverage. "Members are not required nor asked to write favorably," said Lt. Col. Robert Whetstone. "They are simply invited to report on events."
THE US MILITARY AND THEIR MEDIA:
Psychological Operations Leaders Planning Guide: Persuade Change Influence
”The nuts and bolts of conducting tactical psychological operations (PSYOP) are set forth in a new Army guide for military planners and commanders.
The PSYOP process is a systematic and continuous method. The PSYOP process includes the elements of planning, analyzing, synchronizing, developing, designing, producing, distributing, disseminating, managing, and evaluation PSYOP products and actions presented to the selected target audiences (TAs). The Psychological Operations task force (POTF) or Psychological Operations support element (PSF) HQ and each detachment or team within the Psychological Operations development detachment (TPDD) has specific tasks and responsibilities to complete throughout this process. They complement each other and are mutually coordinated and supportive. The missions of the POTF, PSE, PDC, and TPDD during PSYOP development are mutally supportive and require continuous coordination. (They sure like using a string of letters to label something, don’t they? No quite as talented as a true acronym, like “snafu” and “radar” though. I also think they are all bat-shit crazy. - Susan)
"PSYOP Soldiers may require an interpreter to effectively communicate with the local populace. Guidance on how to select an interpreter, what to do and not do when using an interpreter, and how to work with the interpreter is provided on pages 28 through 31." (No advice on how to obtain an interpreter when the military does not provide one. – Susan)
BUSH ADMINISTRATION AND THE MEDIA:
New Technology Puts Fresh Spin on US Government Spin
From the Strategy for Victory in Iraq to "Recovery Channel" TV on federal disaster relief, the Bush administration's spin operation is in high gear, aiming its message directly at the American public as it critiques the mainstream media. There has been plenty to spin: since George W. Bush's August vacation in Texas, when grieving military mother Cindy Sheehan camped outside his Crawford ranch, the president has had to deal with a perceived sluggish federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the failed Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, the 2,000th U.S. military death in Iraq, the investigation into who leaked a covert CIA operative's name and the indictment of White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
But these addresses are only part of this administration's strategy to shape public opinion. The U.S. military last week acknowledged paying Iraqi newspapers to publish pro-American stories written by an "information operations" task force. Then on Monday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld blamed the mainstream press for dwelling on "the worst about America and our military." This bad news, Rumsfeld told an academic audience, is "reported and spread around the world, often with little context and little scrutiny, let alone correction or accountability after the fact." A secretive White House Iraq Group, or WHIG for short, set strategy for selling the Iraq war to the public. The group's work became a focus of the investigation into who leaked CIA agent Valerie Plame's name to the media.
HOW THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION INTERACTS WITH THE MEDIA:
White House Liars on the Defensive
The "wise," in the empire-building community that transcends empirical reality, create their own reality not only through vicious violence but through control of information. They know, with Foucault, that information is power. So they fabricate it (Niger uranium documents), disseminate it through the corporate press (Judith Miller), pay for positive spin in that "free press" (Armstrong Williams), stage favorable press briefing questions, set up "unrehearsed" encounters between the president and troops (October 2005 teleconference), buy positive press coverage of the U.S. occupation in the "free" Iraqi press. They talk among themselves about "perception management" as though the perceptions of the masses like threatening flood waters must be channeled and contained lest they get out of control. They petulantly punish truth-telling whistle-blowers (Joseph Wilson), disparage ex-officials become honest and knowledgeable critics (Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill), and seek to intimidate objective academics.
Critical reasoning, once driven from the mainstream press down into the catacomb sanctuaries of the web, revives steadily on TV news. Demands for truth about the "handling of prewar intelligence" (sparked less by politicians' epiphanies than by the successes of the Iraqi resistance and the mounting U.S. death count), are putting administration officials on the hot seat.
HOW THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION INTERACTS WITH THE MEDIA:
It Takes a Potemkin Village
WHEN a government substitutes propaganda for governing, the Potemkin village is all. Since we don't get honest information from this White House, we must instead, as the Soviets once did, decode our rulers' fictions to discern what's really happening. What we're seeing now is the wheels coming off: As the administration's stagecraft becomes more baroque, its credibility tanks further both at home and abroad. The propaganda techniques may be echt Goebbels, but they increasingly come off as pure Ali G.
The latest desperate shifts in White House showmanship say at least as much about our progress (or lack of same) in Iraq over the past 32 months as reports from the ground. When President Bush announced the end of "major combat operations" in May 2003, his Imagineers felt the need for only a single elegant banner declaring "Mission Accomplished." Cut to Nov. 30, 2005: the latest White House bumper sticker, "Plan for Victory," multiplied by Orwellian mitosis over nearly every square inch of the rather "Queer Eye" stage set from which Mr. Bush delivered his oration at the Naval Academy.
What raised the "Plan for Victory" show to new heights of disinformation was the subsequent revelation that the administration's main stated motive for the address - the release of a 35-page document laying out a "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" - was as much a theatrical prop as the stunt turkey the president posed with during his one furtive visit to Baghdad two Thanksgivings ago.
As breathlessly heralded by Scott McClellan, this glossy brochure was "an unclassified version" of the strategy in place since the war's inception in "early 2003." But Scott Shane of The New York Times told another story. Through a few keystrokes, the electronic version of the document at whitehouse.gov could be manipulated to reveal text "usually hidden from public view." What turned up was the name of the document's originating author: Peter Feaver, a Duke political scientist who started advising the National Security Council only this June. Dr. Feaver is an expert on public opinion about war, not war itself.
HOW THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION INTERACTS WITH THE MEDIA:
Rumsfeld’s War Plan: First, Attack the Messenger
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld surfaced earlier this month just long enough to fire another volley at the messengers who bring bad news. The trouble in Iraq, he would have you believe, is all because of the nattering nabobs of negativism, to borrow a phrase from that late paragon of political wisdom and recipient of illicit payoffs, Spiro T. Agnew.
In other words it's those pesky damned reporters. They tend to focus too much on roadside mines and bombs blowing up American soldiers and Marines and the foreign jihadist nut-job suicide bombers. Not to mention the assassins who slaughter political enemies in broad daylight on the roads of Baghdad.
Why, the secretary wants to know, don't those reporters spend a lot more time writing about all the happy news going on in Iraq? The birthing of democracy. The writing of a constitution. The elections this week of a parliament. The reconstruction of a pitiful country and resultant grotesque profits for a multitude of American contractors. Prison reform at Abu Ghraib. Soccer balls for little kids. The creation of an independent press in Iraq as good as money can buy.
Or as Adm. Harry Felt asked an Associated Press reporter in the early days of another American experience, Vietnam: ``Why don't you get on the team?''
HOW US AUTHORITIES INTERACT WITH THE MEDIA:
Treat Us Like Human Beings, Saudi Reporter Tells US Ambassador
The reporter complained to the ambassador about the abuse and humiliation he experienced when he went to apply for a business visa to the US. He said that he and another colleague were called “animals” by an embassy employee at the front gate. He told the ambassador that Saudi citizens were often mistreated and dealt with rudely when they applied for US visas. He demanded that they should be respected “as human beings.”
“One of the employees told my colleague and me while we were waiting in line to enter the embassy grounds, ‘The animals go back,’ referring to Saudi citizens,” Al-Zubaidi said. “Thank you Mr. Ambassador. We do not want your visa,” he said, before he ripped the papers in two. “I can do my business elsewhere. I can go to Europe; I do not need to go to the US.”
THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT AND THE MEDIA:
Writer Detained For Articles Critical of Kurdish Authorities
The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC), International PEN, London, expressed concerned about the detention and welfare of writer Kamal Sayid Qadir, an Iraqi Kurd with Austrian citizenship who has been detained incommunicado in Iraqi Kurdistan since 26 October 2005. He is believed to be held for articles critical of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) authorities, including KDP leader Masuud Barzani. International PEN is alarmed at reports that Qadir has been ill-treated in detention, and is in very poor health. (The US authorities in Iraq are also detaining journalists without charges, but I found no recent articles on them. – Susan)
CRITICISM OF THE MEDIA:
How well do you think the media is doing at explaining the situation in Iraq?
Zinn: The media is not educating the America public. The media is not playing the role that the media should be which is to sharply criticize the government when it knows the government is wrong and to represent the interests of the people. And you see the press conferences, and you see how soft the questions are. Take what's supposed to be the best of the media, that is public television, and the Lehrer Newshour, and what you see is... blatant government policies. They have a discussion on torture and they have a lawyer for torture and a lawyer who is sort of against torture. And you wouldn't there have someone on the Holocaust - you wouldn't have somebody who supports the Holocaust and someone who is sort of against the Holocaust. The spectrum that's represented in the media runs from slightly left of center to the extreme right.
CRITICISM OF THE MEDIA:
In the Kingdom of the Half-Blind
They couldn't get away with all of this if the press was at the top of their game. Never has the need for an independent media been greater. People are frightened, their skepticism of power, their respect for checks and balances—eclipsed by their desire for security. Writing in The New York Times, Michael Ignatieff has reminded us that democracy's dark secret is that the fight against terror has to be waged in secret, by men and women who defend us with a bodyguard of lies and armory of deadly weapons. Because this is democracy's dark secret, Ignatieff continues, it can also be democracy's dark nemesis. We need to know more about what's being done in our name; even if what we learn is hard, the painful truth is better than lies and illusions. The news photographer in Tom Stoppard's play Night and Day, sums its up: "People do terrible things to each other, but it's worse in the places where everybody is kept in the dark."
Yet the press is hobbled today—hobbled by the vicissitudes of Wall Street investors who demand greater and greater profit margins at the expense of more investment in reporting (look at what's going on with Knight-Ridder.) Layoffs are hitting papers all across the country. Just last week, the Long Island daily Newsday , of which I was once publisher, cut 72 jobs and eliminated 40 vacancies— that's in addition to 59 newsroom jobs eliminated the previous month. There are fewer editors and reporters with less time, resources and freedom to burn shoe leather and midnight oil, make endless phone calls, and knock on doors in pursuit of the unreported story.
The press is also hobbled by the intimidation from ideological bullies in the propaganda wing of the Republican Party who hector, demonize, and lie about journalists who ask hard questions of this regime.
Hobbled, too, by what Ken Silverstein, the Los Angeles Times investigative reporter, calls "spurious balance," kowtowing to those with the loudest voice or the most august title who demand that when it comes to reporting, lies must be treated as the equivalent of truth; that covering the news, including the official press release, has greater priority than uncovering the news.
OPINION IN THE FOREIGN PRESS:
The Arrogance of a Superpower
During Saddam's era, the Iraqi press consisted of a handful of state-controlled newspapers. After the US-led invasion, Iraq produced more than 200 publications, some of which have folded up due to poor funding or mismanagement.
Almost all of Iraq's papers are funded by political or religious parties. And, as has been exposed, many such as Al Sabah are openly funded by Anglo-American forces.
This notion of "inside out" reporting or "expatriate press", where forces outside Iraq have a high level of control and influence on local news, is very dangerous. It is a demonstration of how the US will resort to "undemocratic" measures to influence public perception. All the while, the US consistently argues its main reason for invading Iraq was to advance "freedom" of all kinds.
Many journalists, including Fisk, believe there is a big American-sponsored PR campaign taking place inside Iraq and internationally. Its aim is to produce US-friendly news. This is not very different from the America's coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, where clear bias towards Israel guides the extent of news.
America ought to know better. Iraq needs a lot more than positive press. And as the old saying goes: "Actions speak much louder than words."
Only Negotiation With Resistance Can Bring Peace.
Iraqi leaders from across the political and sectarian spectrum, including members of the current government, recently met in Cairo for an underreported “reconciliation” conference that may prove as important as Thursday’s vote.
They agreed to meet again in two months, and to “demand the withdrawal of foreign forces in accordance with a timetable”. So it is not just the foreign “cut and run” merchants, whom Washington and London pillory, but also senior Iraqis who are getting impatient. The Cairo meeting condemned attacks on non-military targets as terrorism and stressed that “resistance is a legitimate right for all people”. The phrase is crucial since it concedes — bizarrely, perhaps, for ministers in the present government who work with the Americans on counterinsurgency — that armed struggle against the occupation is justified.
More seriously, Victory in Iraq fails to understand the legitimate nationalist component of the resistance. Spotting the difference between Iraqi insurgents and Zarqawi-led terrorists is not enough if you go on, as the new US strategy does, to describe the notion that Iraq is under occupation as “enemy propaganda”.
Goodbye to Baghdad
But on the streets outside, American soldiers were increasingly being targeted and when they hit back, Iraqi civilians were often killed. They still are. Go to the main emergency hospital in Baghdad at any time, and you are likely to find Iraqis injured by mistake by US troops.
I remember in May last year standing in the rubble of a house in Falluja, where I was told 36 members of one family - including five children - had been killed during an air bombardment. They had been crushed to death and you could still smell the decomposing bodies as a neighbour shouted: "Is this George Bush's freedom?" Earlier I had been on an American military base, where I had read the words "Die Raghead" written on the side of a portable toilet.
The US is Now Rediscovering the Pitfalls of Aspirational Imperialism
This week's elections keep open the prospect that Iraq might also ultimately be regarded as a success. But there is an obvious difficulty involved in this kind of aspirational imperialism. It is hard to convince people that you mean them well if you are looking at them down the barrel of a gun.
The gulf between imperial ideals and empire on the ground has customarily proved disillusioning not only for colonial peoples but also for some in the occupying power. In the past, anti-imperialists in Britain, such as Richard Cobden or George Orwell, regularly argued that overseas adventurism was detracting from the nation's decency and liberty. British anti-imperialists also argued, exactly like the author and journalist Chalmers Johnson is doing now in the US, that heavy expenditure on an overseas presence and military action abroad undermined the economic wellbeing of ordinary working people at home.
But, while current events have revived awareness that seeking to remodel other countries can be a difficult and chancey business even for the invaders, there is one respect in which this has come to be true in the present to a degree that never applied in the past. Adam Smith, who distrusted empire, argued that only when "all the different quarters of the world" were able to inspire "mutual fear" would nations finally begin to respect the integrity of each other's borders. In the most horrible of ways, al-Qaida is after a fashion testing this very premise. In the past, the imperialism of the west, like that of the rest, was often difficult - for the doers as well as for their victims; but western states were none the less usually able to dispatch forces overseas against non-western peoples without any fear of being attacked themselves. That kind of immunity is probably now a thing of the past.
WELL, BUDDY, I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I DO HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE:
Wolfowitz Says Iraq Not His Fault or Problem.
How could Wolfowitz account for the American intelligence failures regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? "Well, I don't have to, and it's not just because I don't work for the U.S. government anymore," Wolfowitz replied. "I work for 84 countries," he said, referring to the governance of the World Bank. But even in his old job as deputy secretary of defense -- the No. 2 job at the Pentagon -- it wasn't his problem, Wolfowitz continued. "I didn't have to. I was like everyone else, outside the intelligence community ... We relied on the intelligence community for those judgments."
"So," he added, "the question is: How do they account for it?" This has become a familiar refrain in the administration: Blame the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency and anyone else who agreed with President George W. Bush that Iraq was a threatening demon. Wolfowitz and the other leading neoconservatives who shaped foreign policy in the Bush administration had targeted Iraq early on and had set up their own special intelligence unit in the Pentagon. The unit was closely allied with Iraqi defectors whose goal was to depose Saddam Hussein so they could have his job.
A couple of months after the 2003 attack on Iraq, Wolfowitz gave an amazing interview to Vanity Fair magazine in which he said: "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction as a core reason" to attack Iraq.
Wolfowitz will be long remembered for his ridicule of Army Gen. Eric Shinseki's estimate that it would take some hundreds of thousands of troops to pacify and occupy postwar Iraq. Shinseki was "wildly off the mark," Wolfowitz said. For his departure from the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz script, Shinseki was forced into early retirement as Army chief of staff.
Wolfowitz also predicted that the U.S. troops would be greeted with bouquets of flowers from grateful Iraqis. Wolfowitz, who escaped the Vietnam War with student deferments, told the Press Club audience quite accurately, referring to the Iraq war: "The real judgment of this is going to be the historical one."
WELL BUDDY, I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I SEE RIGHT THOUGH ALL THIS:
Bush says wrestled with decision to invade Iraq.
(Please note: they did not say “WHEN” he wrestled with this decision. –Susan) Bush told PBS in an interview that he never tried to guess casualty numbers before the March 2003 invasion but said he understood the risks. (Actually, Bush claimed there would be no civilian casualties and little troops casualties. – Susan)
The Bush administration had emphasized the threat of weapons of mass destruction as a reason to go to war in Iraq but such weapons were never found. Senior U.S. officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, had also warned before the war of possible links between Hussein's government and the planners of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Bush acknowledged on Friday there was no evidence of such a link. "There was no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the attack of 9/11," Bush said. "I've never said that and never made that case prior to going into Iraq." But he added that he believed the two issues were related even in the absence of direct ties. (Actually, there was clear evidence that bin Laden and Saddam had no ties or relationships of any kind whatsoever. But why let a few facts get in the way of an optional war for bogus reasons? – Susan)
"I think they are related in the war on terror because he (Saddam) had terrorist connections. Again, he was a sworn enemy and he'd had weapons of mass destruction, had used them," Bush said. (So, Saddam was a bad guy, among dozens of even worst leaders in this world. So, are we going to overthrow all those governments? And, how come ….. if the US authorities really believed that Iraq had WMDs and missiles and intentions of using them…… they took NO STEPS to protect their command center in Qatar WHICH WAS ABOUT 300 MILES AWAY? Inquiring minds want to know. Too bad our corporate press doesn’t want to know. -Susan)
Your Guess Is as Good as Mine.
If you actually are an educated, thinking person, you will not be welcome in Washington, D.C. I know a couple of bright seventh graders who would not be welcomed in Washington, D.C. Do you remember those doctors a few years back who got together and announced that it was a simple, clear medical fact that we could not survive even a moderate attack by hydrogen bombs? They were not welcome in Washington, D.C.
Even if we fired the first salvo of hydrogen weapons and the enemy never fired back, the poisons released would probably kill the whole planet by and by. What is the response in Washington? They guess otherwise. What good is an education? The boisterous guessers are still in charge--the haters of information. And the guessers are almost all highly educated people. Think of that. They have had to throw away their educations, even Harvard or Yale educations, to become guessers. If they didn't do that, there is no way their uninhibited guessing could go on and on and on.
Please, don't you do that. But let me warn you, if you make use of the vast fund of knowledge now available to educated persons, you are going to be lonesome as hell. The guessers outnumber you--and now I have to guess--about ten to one.
Did Kurds Elect Zalmay Khalilzad to Represent Them?
On 13 December 2005, days before Iraq’s parliamentary elections, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, once again stated that it is better for Kurds to remain part of Iraq rather than pursue secession. There was nothing new in what Khalilzad stated, except adding value to his doubts about the unity of Iraq. Like an old Kurdish proverb states, if you say it once, it is a fact. If you say it twice, you have doubts. And if you say it more than twice, it is nonsense. The unity of Iraq only exists in the minds of optimistic Western, Turkish and Arab politicians.
White House Liars on the Defensive
How to derail the train? How to prevent the planned attacks? May I suggest that all of us opposed to the Iraq War, encouraged by the administration's falling poll numbers and rising support for withdrawal, avoid complacency or the assumption that, "they're too bogged down in Iraq to attack anybody else"? The U.S. was bogged down in Vietnam in 1970. The antiwar movement was at its height. President Nixon was vowing to gradually reduce U.S. forces and hand over "defense" to South Vietnamese forces. And then he invaded neighboring Cambodia, with horrific consequences.
PEACE ACTION: HJ Res 55 (House Joint Resolution 55) calls on President Bush to set a plan for beginning the phase-out of U.S. troops in Iraq. It is currently stalled in committee. A discharge petition allows a bill to move to the floor for debate -- without having committee approval -- if the petition is signed by a majority (218) of House Members.
Ask your Representative to sign the discharge petition to get HJ Res 55 onto the floor. Click here
to send a message.
Funeral for South Dakotan Killed in Iraq
Oregon Soldier among four killed in Iraq.
Soldier with Maine ties killed in Iraq
Texas soldier was new father
A Soldier who didn’t return to the firehouse. And it was this story that inspired the following:
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken, there’s a pain goes on and on,
Empty chairs at empty tables, now my friends are dead and gone.
Phantom faces at the window, phantom shadows on the floor,
Empty chairs at empty tables… where my friends will sing no more.
Oh, My friends!! My friends!!
Don’t ask me - what your sacrifice was for!
Empty chairs at empty tables… where my friends will sing no more.
……. From Les Miserables