Friday, February 17, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2006 Photo: This image is from video made available Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2006 by the Special Broadcasting System in Australia. It is said by the broadcaster to shows a prisoner being abused. The Australian television network said the images of prisoners were made at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad in late 2003, and were among photographs the American Civil Liberties Union was trying to obtain from the U.S. government under a Freedom of Information request. SBS refused to give details on the source of the photographs, and the authenticity of the images could not be verified independently. (AP Photo/SBS/Dateline) Bring ‘em on: UPDATE from Wednesday: Four, not three, children killed while walking to school in Baghdad. The bombing that killed them took place outside a camera shop that sold black market alcohol, but the target may have been an Iraqi police patrol. At least 19 other people, including six police officers, died in car bombings and shootings in the capital. At least three car bombs exploded in Baghdad on Wednesday. Bring ‘em on: A second roadside bomb killed two children and wounded four more in the Fadhl neighborhood in Baghdad on Wednesday. Bring ‘em on: Air strikes in Baghdad by US forces. Supposedly hitting a uninhabited weapons-storage complex. No casualties reported. Bring ‘em on: Police said they found the bodies of five men Wednesday shot in the head and dumped near a Shiite neighborhood of western Baghdad. Their identities were unknown but they appeared to be the victims of sectarian tit-for-tat killings which have swept the capital for months. Bring ‘em on: An ex-member of Saddam’s former Baath Party was killed in a drive by shooting in Mosul. Bring ‘em on: A man found shot in the head in his car in Taji. Bring ‘em on: US soldiers reportedly killed five insurgents within 24 hours, including one in a shootout south of Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Maj. Gen. Peterson said US forces found 22 men wearing police commando uniforms who were about to shoot a Sunni man. This incident happened last month. Peterson claims this is the first evidence of a death squad operation in Iraq’s Interior Ministry, who employed the men as highway patrol officers. The discovery of the death squads came almost by chance when an Iraqi Army checkpoint in northern Baghdad stopped the men and asked what they were doing. They told the checkpoint the truth. All 22 men are in jail (4 in Abu Ghraib and 18 in Iraqi jails), and the Sunni man is also in Iraqi custody. He is accused of murder. (Maj. Gen. Peterson does not read Today In Iraq. – Susan) Bring ‘em on: U.S. soldiers killed four insurgents in three separate gun battles near Baghdad on Tuesday and Wednesday, the U.S. military said. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqis killed, two wounded in Basra mortar shell explosion. This was due to left over munitions from Saddam era, not an attack. Three Iraqis working at the British military base in Basra were kidnapped. UPDATE: Kidnapped workers released the same day. Bring ‘em on: Two civilians killed and three wounded in Najaf in a joint Iraqi-US military operation against suspected insurgents. (Do these guys shoot as well as Cheney? – Susan) Bring ‘em on: Civilian bystander killed by car bomb targeting US and Iraqi troops in Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: Gunmen attacked a convoy of trucks carrying supplies to US base near Abu Ghraib. No casualties reported. REPORTS US Confirms Abuse Images Authentic SBS refused to give details on the source of the photos and video clips but said they were among those the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was trying to obtain from the US government under a Freedom of Information request. The US defence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the pictures matched those gathered by the US military two years ago as part of its investigation into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. The official said only one of the photographs could not be authenticated because there were no people in it. "The other 14 can be matched to a CID photo log and are authentic," he said. The CID is the army criminal investigation unit that probed the abuse scandal." There is nothing new here," he said. The images "have been previously investigated as part of the Abu Ghraib investigation." Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said: "The department believes that the further release of images could only further inflame and possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world and would endanger our military men and women that are serving in places around the world." (Note the lack of concern about doing the right thing, morality, or the welfare of the Iraqi people. – Susan) I Screamed For It to Stop, Says Alleged Victim From Video IMPOVERISHED, ill-educated and suddenly the focus of a political storm, three teenagers and an unemployed vegetable seller stood inside the Governor’s office in al-Amarah yesterday alleging that they were assaulted by British soldiers. “I was screaming for them to stop but they didn’t and the beating continued,” said Muslim Hassan, 16. (So, he was 14 at the time. – Susan) He identified himself from film footage of the alleged attack, which has been broadcast worldwide, as the youth being kicked in the groin as he lay on the ground. “Then suddenly it ceased. I was dragged into a building with the others, crying. A British soldier stuffed a sock in my mouth to keep me quiet,” he said. Officials loyal to the radical Shia cleric Moqtadr al-Sadr had invited the four to the scene of the attack. As they spoke to journalists, a small crowd demonstrated against the presence of British forces. Abu Ghraib Called Incubator for Terrorists "We are clearly concerned about the potential for extremists and insurgents to use our detention facilities as recruiting and networking centers and are aggressively taking actions to disrupt their efforts," Lt. Col. Guy Rudisill, a spokesman for General Gardner, wrote in an e-mail exchange. “Central to our program is a continuous and systemic analysis of the population inside each compound to identify extreme negative influences and corresponding actions to separate the insurgent and extremists from the general population.” "We also attempt to reduce illicit communications between detainees in separate compounds to disrupt their ability to network and recruit." Plans to turn over Abu Ghraib, three other prisons and their inmates to the new Iraqi government have been stalled despite American commanders' concerns that overseeing the detainees saps personnel and continues to blot the American image. (That isn’t all that blots the American image – see article above. Lt. Col. Rudisill also does not read Today In Iraq, or he would have figured this out. – Susan) After a series of raids on Iraqi-run detention centers late last year uncovered scores of abused prisoners, commanders at American and allied prisons said no detainees, or centers, would be handed over to Iraqi jailers until American officials were satisfied that the Iraqis were meeting international standards for detainee care. (Hypocrites. – Susan) Iraqi Official: Torture Should Be Punished Iraq's human rights minister said Wednesday that more than 100 Iraqis were tortured last year in a secret prison in Baghdad and she would recommend prosecutions of officials, including judges who did not report the abuses. The torture occurred in Interior Ministry buildings, including one in Baghdad's Jadriyah district, said the minister, Nermine Othman. Othman said authorities were aware of 170 Iraqi torture victims, including 167 who had been accounted for and three whose whereabouts were unknown. Most were found in November at the Jadriyah facility. "There are some people - not high-level officials - from the interior and justice ministries who we expect to be prosecuted," Othman said. "Different kinds of torture happened, from beating to mental torture. These people had no right to torture anybody." (The Americans torture, the British beat up kids, the Iraqis torture……. – Susan) Those who could face prosecution include Interior Ministry officials who carried out acts of torture and Justice Ministry employees, including judges, who had access to documentation about it but did not report it, she said. Othman declined to specify how many people would be recommended for prosecution, saying the number would be revealed in her ministry's report, one of two being carried out by Iraqi authorities. The prime minister's office is also conducting an inquiry. "These investigations are very good for the government and building accountability," the minister said. "We are trying to build a new Iraq and if we don't respect human rights it is not to the benefit of the country." Order, Peace Elusive in Iraqi City of Samarra Staff Sgt. Cortez Powell looked at the shredded jaw of a dead man whom he'd shot in the face when insurgents ambushed an American patrol in a blind of reeds. Powell's M4 assault rifle had jammed, so he'd grabbed the pump-action shotgun that he kept slung over his shoulders and pulled the trigger. Five other soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division scrambled down, pulled two of the insurgents' bodies from the reeds and dragged them through the mud. "Strap those motherf-----s to the hood like a deer," said Staff Sgt. James Robinson, 25, of Hughes, Ark. The soldiers heaved the two bodies onto the hood of a Humvee and tied them down with a cord. The dead insurgents' legs and arms flapped in the air as the Humvee rumbled along. Iraqi families stood in front of the surrounding houses. They watched the corpses ride by and glared at the American soldiers. A rocket-propelled grenade had slammed into the wall of a 2nd platoon observation post, sending chunks of concrete flying into the air and his men diving for cover. Call was chasing one of the insurgents who had fled. Call and three other soldiers dashed into a house, mud flying from their combat boots, radios squawking. The women inside shrieked. A man moved from a hallway to the living room, almost a shadow in the dimly lit house. Call jerked his M4 assault rifle back and forth, his finger on the trigger. He ran down an alley, through another house and into the street. The insurgent was gone. The soldiers began walking toward a Humvee parked a block away. Specialist Patrick McHenry sat behind the Humvee's .50-caliber machine gun, scanning the area. He heard a ping, looked up and saw a grenade come flying over a wall. "Frag," McHenry screamed. "Frag!" Call glanced at what looked like a piece of fruit rolling toward him and his men. They dashed toward a courtyard. The explosion seemed to stop time for a second. Shrapnel cut into the walls around them. The soldiers patted their bodies to make sure everything was still there. McHenry, 23, of Jamestown, Pa., ran up. "It came from right over that ... wall," he reported. The men ran along the wall and stopped at a metal gate where they could see inside. "It's an IP (Iraqi police) station!" Call said. Powell blasted the padlock with his shotgun. The American soldiers screamed at the police inside to drop their weapons. The police substation was attached to Samarra General Hospital, and the soldiers questioned doctors and policemen alike, swabbing their hands, looking for explosives residue. There was no sign of the grenade thrower. Last month, 33 police recruits from Samarra were killed when gunmen ambushed their bus and shot them in the head, execution-style. Most Iraqis assumed that Sunni insurgents had killed the men as a warning to anyone else who might be considering joining the security forces. But Brannon, the Bravo Company commander, suspects that the killings were an inside job by police officials vying for control of which tribes supply recruits. Iraqi Official Killed in Traffic Accident by Korean Military Truck On Wednesday afternoon, the Korean driver, a corporal only identified by his family name Song, was trying to avoid a car which had cut in front of him on a street in downtown Irbil when he hit the 53-year-old Iraqi official, the office said. Ruined Iraqi City Promotes Peace with Olive Trees Residents of Falluja, the Iraqi city devastated by a U.S. offensive in 2004, have begun planting thousands of olive trees in a bid to promote peace. The first trees were planted on Wednesday near a football pitch that became a graveyard for the victims of the U.S. military assault against insurgents holed up in the city. The aim is to plant 250,000 trees by April, organisers said. "It is a peace message to all Iraqi cities to cast away all the sectarian and ethnic issues and hold together," said Hassan Muhammed, a member of Falluja's Cultural House group. Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad, was a stronghold of Sunni Muslim militants until the U.S. offensive, which left much of the city -- known as the "city of mosques" -- in ruins. Saddam Tapes Show No Iraqi Terror Secret tapes obtained by ABC News show Saddam Hussein predicting in the 1990s that the United States would be the target of a major terror attack. But the tapes also have Saddam saying Iraq would not participate in terrorism. ABC News said the tapes were made in Baghdad's equivalent of the Oval Office, and recorded Saddam talking with aides. The tapes were provided by Bill Tierney, a former member of a U.N. inspection team who was translating them for the FBI, ABC said. Tierney contended the U.S. government was wrong to keep them from the public. But he adds that Iraq would not engage in terror: "This is coming, this story is coming but not from Iraq." The tapes also reveal Iraq's persistent efforts to hide information about weapons of mass destruction programs from U.N. inspectors well into the 1990s, ABC said. (I saw part of these tapes on ABC news, and it shows Saddam talking with a dozen or so of his aides or advisors. They reportedly told Saddam that they had the plans for WMDs production “in their heads” for later when it was okay to go forward again. They talked about fooling the UN weapons inspectors. In light of the fact that exactly zero WMDs were found in Iraq without Iraqi assistance, and the last one found in 1991, I just wondered if they were blowing smoke at Saddam. – Susan) Senate Republicans Criticize Rice on Iraq "I don't see, Madame Secretary, how things are getting better. I think things are getting worse. I think they're getting worse in Iraq. I think they're getting worse in Iran," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. "Opportunities missed," said moderate GOP Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, referring to the slow-moving Mideast peace process and the recent Palestinian election triumph of Hamas, the militant group. "Now we have a very, very disastrous situation of a terrorist organization winning elections." Rice said she agrees it's a difficult moment for the peace process but added, "I don't think the United States of America is responsible for the election of Hamas." On Iraq, the panel's top Democrat countered Rice's optimism about political unity among Iraq's squabbling ethnic groups. "I'm not hopeful," Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., told Rice. "The policy seems not to be succeeding." More on Rice and the US Senate Mistakes in U.S. Middle East policy have made America less safe and aided the militant group Hamas's victory in Palestinian elections, Democratic and Republican lawmakers told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday. Hamas's win last month in the Palestinian territories and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood's rise in Egypt have fueled criticisms over U.S. President George W. Bush's strategy of pushing for democracy in the Middle East. "This administration seems to have a tin ear when it comes to the Middle East and that tin ear is making us less safe," Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, told Rice at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. The California Democrat suggested U.S. policies in the Middle East, as well as in Latin American nations Bolivia and Venezuela whose governments are hostile to Washington, were boosting the election chances of anti-American candidates. (Did they really expect a different outcome? Treating people badly, killing innocents, showing them the democracy of death and the freedom of the grave…. And they are surprised that the citizens vote for anti-American candidates? – Susan) Rice said it took time for democracy to take hold. (Amazing. – Susan) Bird Flu Iraqi authorities have declared a bird flu alert in the southern province of Maysan and called for security forces to prevent people from carrying birds in and out of the area, health officials said Wednesday. The alert is the latest measure taken by Iraqi health authorities to combat the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain following last month's discovery of the country's only confirmed case of the disease in a human. Minister Abdel Mutalib Mohammed declared the alert after birds suspected of having the disease were discovered in Maysan, a major southern trade route in Iraq, said Dr. Ibtisam Aziz Ali, spokeswoman for a government committee on bird flu. Mohammed said the government has to "totally close" Maysan using Iraqi soldiers and police and carry out culling of poultry. He held talks late Tuesday with local health authorities and tribal sheiks in Amarah, 180 miles southeast of Baghdad, to brief them on the bird flu threat and government measures to combat it. "The disease has apparently spread among local birds, not migratory birds," Mohammed said. "I have seen five centers where infections have been detected by rapid laboratory testing. Now we have declared a state of health alert." Maysan includes some of Iraq's famous marshlands, and U.S. and U.N. officials fear the deadly disease could spread rapidly if it reaches the area rich in bird life. Environmental Disaster in Iraq Adds to Country’s Woes Heavy flooding has displaced some 7,500 Iraqis in northern and south-eastern Iraq, while some 25,000 in northern Iraq have been forced to leave their homes since rainfall began on February 2. Ferdous Al Abadi, a spokeswoman for the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS), told reporters that donations were still crucial, and that at least 15,000 blankets were needed, along with medical supplies and heaters. Abadi stressed that the situation was dire, saying, "These people can't return, even after the water is drained." He added that food supplies could only be expected to last for a few more days in some areas; the IRCS had urged the support of international NGO's. The IRCS has established make-shift shelters for the refugees. "We've improvised camps in these governorates," Al Abadi said. "Other families are taking refuge at relatives' homes or in abandoned government buildings or schools," he added. The security and political situation in Iraq has seriously hampered efforts to provide many of the displaced flood victims with aid. Poor sanitation has also been the cause of widespread disease, especially amongst children. "Dozens of cases of diarrhea and vomiting have been treated among children in these areas," said Dr Saleh Ibraheem, volunteer clinician in Salahddine governorate. "The main reason is the poor sanitation and lack of clean water in places in which they are taking refuge." Aid Agencies Struggle to Help Flood Affected People Relief workers are struggling to assist more than 7,500 families in northern and south-eastern Iraq who have been forced to leave their homes due to heavy flooding. "At least 15,000 blankets are still required in all these areas, especially because of the hard winter this year, as well as kerosene heaters, tents, medication and food parcels,” said Ferdous al-Abadi, spokeswoman for the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS). “These people can’t return, even after the water is drained.” Since almost continuous rainfall began on 2 February, which has been heaviest in the mountainous areas of the north, nearly 25,000 people have been displaced.“What has been distributed or donated will not be enough to cover a long period,” she noted, adding that food supplies could only be expected to last for another three days. The worst affected regions are in the northern governorate of Arbil, where nearly 3,300 families have been forced to seek shelter. In Salahuddine, an estimated 2,900 families have been displaced, with further displacements in Kirkuk, Diala and Missan in southern Iraq. If the US is Ultimately Leaving Iraq, Why is the Military Building “Permanent” Bases? The supplemental funding bill for the war in Iraq signed by President Bush in early May 2005 provides money for the construction of bases for U.S. forces that are described as "in some very limited cases, permanent facilities." Several recent press reports have suggested the U.S. is planning up to 14 permanent bases in Iraq— a country that is only twice the size of the state of Idaho. Why is the U.S. building permanent bases in Iraq? In May 2005, United States military forces in Iraq occupied 106 bases, according to a report in the Washington Post. Military commanders told that newspaper they eventually planed to consolidate these bases into four large airbases at Tallil, Al Asad, Balad and either Irbil or Qayyarah. But other reports suggest the U.S. military has plans for even more bases: In April 2003 report in The New York Times reported that "the U.S. is planning a long-term military relationship with the emerging government of Iraq, one that would grant the Pentagon access to military bases and project American influence into the heart of the unsettled region." According to the Chicago Tribune, U.S. engineers are focusing on constructing 14 "enduring bases," to serve as long-term encampments for thousands of American troops. As of mid-2005, the U.S. military had 106 forward operating bases in Iraq, including what the Pentagon calls 14 "enduring" bases (twelve of which are located on the map) – all of which are to be consolidated into four mega-bases. U.S. Risks Reporter's Life to Strike Tough Pose The Bush administration went well beyond refusing to negotiate with terrorists in its handling of the threat by freelance journalist Jill Carroll's abductors to kill her if all female detainees were not released from U.S.-run prisons in Iraq. According to Iraqi officials, U.S. officials delayed the scheduled release of six female prisoners whom they knew had already been found innocent because of the kidnappers' demand for their release. Then they refused to speed up the review of the files of the five remaining female prisoners, in violation of a policy of giving priority to females in the review of detainee files for release. Had the normal policy been followed, it is very likely that all the women held by the United States would have been released by now. By delaying the releases of female detainees to strike a tough anti-terrorism pose, the administration has increased the risk to Jill Carroll's life. Quick Rise for Purveyors of Propaganda in Iraq Two years ago, Christian Bailey and Paige Craig were living in a half-renovated Washington group house, with a string of failed startup companies behind them. Mr. Bailey, a boyish-looking Briton, and Mr. Craig, a chain-smoking former Marine sergeant, then began winning multimillion-dollar contracts with the United States military to produce propaganda in Iraq. Now their company, Lincoln Group, works out of elegant offices along Pennsylvania Avenue and sponsors polo matches in Virginia horse country. Mr. Bailey recently bought a million-dollar Georgetown row house. Mr. Craig drives a Jaguar and shows up for interviews accompanied by his "director of security," a beefy bodyguard. The company's work in Iraq, where Mr. Bailey and Mr. Craig visit from time to time to direct operations, is facing growing scrutiny. The Pentagon's inspector general last month opened an audit of Lincoln Group's contracts there, according to two Defense Department officials. A separate inquiry ordered by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, after disclosures late last year that Lincoln Group paid Iraqi publications to run one-sided stories by American soldiers, has been completed but not made public, military officials said. Lincoln formed a partnership with The Rendon Group, a Washington company with close ties to the Bush administration, and won a $5 million Pentagon contract to help inform Iraqis about the American-led effort to defeat the insurgency and form a new government. One contract requirement was to get Iraqi publications to run articles written by the military, according to several ex-Lincoln employees. Rendon soon dropped out and Lincoln handled the contract alone. But the company had fewer than two dozen workers and little experience with public relations, according to several ex-employees. Early last summer, military commanders made Lincoln Group the main civilian contractor for carrying out an aggressive propaganda campaign in Anbar Province, known as the Western Mission project. Over the next several months, the military transferred tens of millions of dollars to Lincoln for the project, records show. The company hired dozens of employees, including academics and former military personnel, as well as hundreds of contract workers in Iraq and elsewhere, a number that fluctuates by contract requirements, according to Mr. Dixon, the Lincoln spokesman. With the new duties came substantial new requirements, including producing television and radio ads, buying newspaper ads and placing many more articles in the Iraqi press. The military also approved paying Iraqi editors to run stories, according to ex-Lincoln employees. Although Lincoln Group's work in Iraq is now under scrutiny in two Pentagon investigations, the firm is hunting for more government work. Last month, Mr. Bailey attended a going-away reception at the Virginia condominium of a mid-level government employee on her way to a new job at the American Embassy in Baghdad. Her job: overseeing contracts. War, what is it good for? Making the evil ones a lot of money But some indisputable winners are clear now: military contractors. Suppose an investor were endowed with that golden instinct for spotting bargains and bought 100 shares of each of the top six military contractors at their lows of the last six years — lows reached by four of them in March 2000, before the election, before Sept. 11 and before any hint of war. That basket of shares would have cost $12,731.50. On Friday, it would have been worth three and a half times that: $44,417. Profit in Billions: Boeing $2.6 Lockheed Martin $1.8 General Dynamics $1.5 Northrop Grumman $1.4 Raytheon $0.9 Halliburton $0.8 Precentage change since 2004: Boeing 37.4% Lockheed Martin 44.2% General Dynamics 19.1% Northrop Grumman 29.2% Raytheon 108.9% Halliburton 292.9% What War Hath Wrought As the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq approaches, what has been the cost to the United States and its allies? For the U.S.-led coalition, the cost can be measured in the increasing loss of lives and national treasure,in lost opportunities to improve the lives of the least fortunate, both in the U.S. and abroad. Moreover, as the public learns more about the Bush administration’sdisregard for constitutional, statutory, and traditional limits on executive power, the extent to which civil liberties have been abrogated becomes more apparent. In the table HERE, FCNL attempts to quantify some of the costs of the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war (1,545 days from October 8, 2001, to December 31, 2005), and where available, other costs of the so-called “global war on terror.” We regard these figures as "conservative.” US State Department Rejects Visa Applications of Iraqi Women Whose Families Were Killed by US Troops Two Iraqi women whose husbands and children were killed by US troops during the Iraq war have been refused entry into the United States for a speaking tour. The women were invited to the US for peace events surrounding international women’s by the human rights group Global Exchange and the women’s peace group CODEPINK. In a piece of painful irony, the reason given for the rejection was that the women don’t have enough family in Iraq to prove that they’ll return to the country. “It’s appalling that the US military killed these women’s families and then the US government rejects their visas on the grounds that they have no family to return to in Iraq. These women have no desire to stay in the United States. We had a very hard time convincing them to come, but we told them how important it would be for their stories to be heard by Americans,” said Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of both the groups that had invited the women to the US. The women whose visa applications were rejected are Anwar Kadhim Jawad and Vivian Salim Mati. They had to make a dangerous journey to Amman, Jordan just to apply for the visas and were told on February 4th that they’d been rejected. On February 14th, CODEPINK was informed by the US State Department that the women “failed to overcome the presumption of intending to emigrate.” But the group suspects that other factors influenced the State Department’s decision. “I remember how we all cried when we heard Anwar tell her story about losing her husband and three of her children,” said Jodie Evans of CODEPINK, who met with Anwar in 2004 in Baghdad. “If the American people heard these stories, their image of the Iraq war would be completely different. I suppose that’s why the state department does not want her to come here.” The War At Home: One by One, Davis Families Mark Deaths of Those Killed in Iraq When they finished, one 27-foot long, 10-foot high section of the Hamptons’ house on Elk Place had become a makeshift memorial to coalition soldiers and civilians killed in Iraq. Some 30,000 black hash marks in all. The Hamptons — Steve, a natural resources economist, and Lonna, who works 15 hours a week at UC Davis and many more volunteering and spending time with her kids — say they felt a sense of powerlessness about the war. The Hamptons say the most important message of their wall, which faces a path and playground on the North Davis greenbelt, is a personal one. They wanted their sons, 14-year-old Caleb, 11-year-old Luke and 7-year-old Bunky, to understand the death of each person, not just see a big number. “We want them to understand the realities of war,” Steve said. “War is not something you watch from your couch, pictures of foreign cities with little green lights flashing over them. These are real tragedies. In some ways, it’s the ultimate failure of the adult world. “One of ours sons asked how all these people died. He sort of assumed they were deliberately shot in the head by the Americans or the other side. We told him, no, most of these people were on their way to the market or on their way to work.” Lonna and Steve, both 40, say they felt ashamed by the U.S. attack on Iraq. “Our hearts broke,” Lonna said.As evangelical Christians, she said, they “agonize over the disconnect” between Jesus’ teachings and the actions of leaders who profess their own belief in Christianity — leaders Steve said have set a “terrible example” for children. “Jesus calls us to remember the least among us, the oppressed and the poor, and that’s what we’re doing,” Steve said. “We’re remembering them, and that feels like the right thing to do. The Quakers have a term — ‘bearing witness’ — and I think that’s very much in line with what we’re doing. (The true total of Iraqi civilians killed in this war is probably 180,000+. – Susan) COMMENTARY OPINION: Not Another Iraq: Hindustan Times But the Indian government knew perfectly well, even before the vote, that Iran would not agree to these conditions. Every responsible Iranian leader, from its ambassador at the IAEA to its foreign minister and president, had warned the world that if the IAEA referred it to the Security Council, it would immediately terminate its voluntary observance of enhanced safeguards and resume full-scale uranium enrichment and associated activities. That is what it has since done. It also knew that the problem did not lie with President Ahmadinejad or Iran’s revolutionary council. The Iranian government could not have acted in any other way because it has broken no law. The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it is a signatory, expressly gives it the right to enrich uranium provided it does so under IAEA safeguards. Iran had gone a step further and accepted enhanced safeguards. The NPT moreover, does not, in any of its clauses, prohibit a signatory from carrying out research that would give it the capacity to make nuclear weapons. (The West tried to plug this loophole at the 2005 NPT review conference, but failed). The law, therefore, remains that research that could create the capacity to build a bomb is not illegal and proscribed. Iran went wrong, and aroused worldwide suspicion of its intentions, when it tried to keep the facilities in which it was carrying out the research hidden from the IAEA and, therefore, outside the safeguards regime. But even the conservative Financial Times conceded, in an editorial on February 6, that Iran’s determination to acquire and develop dual-use technology is fuelled by its acute apprehensions about its security. It has tried, the paper concedes, to assuage these by means of diplomacy, but “America rebuffed Iran’s overtures for a ‘grand bargain’ in 2003 and Europe failed to act on pledges to discuss security in the subsequent deal the EU-3 reached with Teheran on a nuclear moratorium.” In insisting that Iran give up the right to enrich uranium altogether, what the US, EU and now the IAEA are asking it to do is surrender its sovereignty. No Iranian government that did so in response to a direct threat would survive for very long. The West may find it convenient to discount the power of nationalism and, therefore, turn a blind eye to the dilemma in which it has placed the Iranian government, but Indian policy-makers can hardly have forgotten the potent force that brought them independence. They, therefore, know perfectly well that in Iran’s position they would have done exactly the same thing. OPINION: How the Corporate Media Promotes War On January 24, Iraqi reporter Mahmoud Zaal was killed during a shoot-out between US occupation forces and Iraqi rebels in the city of Ramadi. He was the second Iraqi journalist to have been killed this year; 35 reporters and other media workers died in Iraq in 2005. Given the grisly toll that post-9/11 reporting has taken on journalists like Zaal, it’s ironic that the greatest threat to providing accurate news coverage of the different fronts of Washington’s “War on terror” has not come from without, in the form of bullets and bombs, but from within the corporate media, in the form of the slavish accommodation to the disinformation programs of the White House and its allies. Nearly all of the corporate media in the “coalition of the willing” countries — Australia, Britain and the US — acted as propaganda outlets for their governments, uncritically reporting these governments’ claims that Iraq had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that threatened “international peace and security”. The gaping holes in these claims were papered over with shoddy journalism. When, for example, Hans Blix, head of UN weapons inspections in Iraq, gave a report to a January 27, 2003, meeting of the UN Security Council, Murdoch’s Australian editorialised that Blix had provided “ample evidence that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein remains committed to weapons of mass destruction”. Murdoch’s Australian “flagship” argued that the “case to disarm Iraq, by military force if necessary, is now made”. Little attention was paid to central features of Blix’s report: That UN weapons inspectors had found no evidence that Iraq possessed WMD stockpiles or manufacturing facilities and that, despite hollow anti-Iraq rhetoric by Blix, an extraordinary degree of cooperation had been provided by Iraqi authorities. A study by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes, released on October 2, 2003, based on a series of US-wide polls, revealed just how “successful” reporting of the war had been. It concluded that “a majority of Americans have had significant misperceptions [about the Iraq war] and these are highly related to support for the war with Iraq”. According to PIPA, 57% of poll participants believed that Iraq was either directly involved in the 9/11 attacks or “gave substantial support to al Qaeda”. Twenty-two per cent believed weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq and 25% thought that world public opinion had favoured the US going to war with Iraq. Sixty per cent had at least one of these three misconceptions. The PIPA poll found a correlation between participants’ primary source of news and their ignorance about the war. Viewers of Murdoch’s high-rating and hysterically pro-invasion Fox News were the most likely to have been sucked in by the White House’s propaganda campaign. Iran rerun History is now in the process of being repeated, with Iran being successfully presented as an imminent “threat” to Western “democracies”. An Opinion Dynamics poll conducted in late October 2003 revealed that 57% of people in the US believed that Iran “currently [had] a nuclear weapons program”. By the time of a January 24-25 poll this year, the percentage had jumped to 68%. OPINION: US Has Moral, Legal Obligation for Reconstruction of Iraq When Iraqis are asked what is needed to bring peaceand security to Iraq, they speak of electricity, clean water, food, jobs, schools, and hospitals. Reconstruction and economic development are an integral part of the peacemaking process. Yet, the majority of international funds allocated and the focus of the debate on Iraq policy center on military solutions. When the U.S. invaded and later occupied Iraq, it became obligated under international law to restore and ensure public order, safety, and welfare, including public health and sanitation, and the provision of food and medical supplies. Additionally, the U.S. and its allies have a moral obligation to support the rebuilding of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure and economy largely destroyed through economic sanctions, military invasion, and the ongoing war. The promises of the administration to the Iraqi people were explicit. In a speech on Aug. 8, 2003, President Bush assured Iraqis: “In a lot of places, the infrastructure is as good as it was at prewar levels, which is satisfactory, but it’s not the ultimate aim. The ultimate aim is for the infrastructure to be the best in the region.” The administration’s two-year-old, $18.4 billion U.S. rebuilding plan will soon end with obligations and promises largely unmet. Yet the president is not expected to ask Congress for additional funds for Iraq reconstruction in his budget request for 2007. For Iraqis the manner in which reconstruction has been implemented is a major issue. Decisions have been driven by U.S. concerns and largely implemented by U.S. contractors with little input or involvement of Iraqis. As we work to ensure that no more military funding is appropriated for military occupation, we must also ensure that the U.S. fulfills its obligations to fund Iraq’s rebuilding and economic development in a manner that supports Iraqi involvement and ownership. OPINION: They Thought They Were Free "What no one seemed to notice," said a colleague of mine, a philologist, "was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing."What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it." This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. OPINION: We’d Better Learn to Empathize With the Enemy When will we ever learn? Terrorism is not some leftover lesson learned from Adolf Hitler. Terrorism is a product of fanaticism and we embraced it in Afghanistan for short-term gain in the late 1970s. We embrace it whenever it fulfils our strategic needs, come hell or high water. We had better take seriously this tension in Iraq, open some dialogue with Iran, and hold our noses and open some with Hamas, because a popular based movement has arrived there as well. They are no more extreme than the Sunnis we are now breaking bread with, or the mujahadin that we funded and supported in Afghanistan. If we don't want history to repeat itself, we had better empathize with the enemy. We have done no justice towards them in this century, and we ignore that fact at our peril. Many Israelis realize this, and their press is far more open to discuss it; but for some reason, we never hear their voices. Let us never forget the Holocaust and the vile regime that killed so many innocent people, but we cannot contort the history of Hitler in Europe to promote our version of history in Palestine and Iran. OPINION: Truth-tellers about Iraq are Dangerous Dear Editor: I was a Christian Peacemaker Team delegate to Iraq. I tell the stories I heard. A retired military intelligence officer approached me at the end of a talk out West to tell me I was a most dangerous person to my government because I saw and heard experiences of ordinary Iraqi people and was telling their stories of living under corporate and military occupation. Too many Iraqis have been tortured and detained and disappeared. Christian Peacemaker Team has been telling of them since 2003, long before the photos from Abu Ghraib appeared. Team members walk unarmed and unprotected by weapons through Baghdad streets, grocery shopping, visiting friends, attending church, meeting Iraqi doctors, lawyers, businessmen and accompanying them to U.S. installations. The military intelligence officer said I was very brave to tell stories that contradict the image presented by the powers that be. The Iraqis whom Christian Peacemaker Team works with, their friends and the friends of their friends have indicated that no one knows or has ever heard of the group claiming to have kidnapped the four Christian Peacemaker Team members in November. It is not in the interest of Iraqi people who want the world to know their relatives have been detained or disappeared to threaten Christian Peacemaker Team members who tell the stories. According to the U.S. intelligence officer, it is our government that doesn't want the stories told. I wish I could call him and ask him who he thinks is holding the Christian Peacemaker Team members. But I can't, because he was afraid to stay in touch with me. Marion Stuenkel Madison, WI OPINION: Frog-marching the Media to the Gallows The Times has proved once again that the elite-media is a steadfast partner in mobilizing the masses for unpopular wars. Despite the countless thousands of innocent people who have already been killed by the Time’s fear-mongering coverage of "imaginary" Iraqi WMD, the editors continue to use the corporate-bullhorn to call the nation to arms. British opinion of Blair: It may be amusing for Tony Blair, at last week's Prime Minister's Questions, to quip at the expense of David Cameron, with his flippant remarks about the Conservative leader's change of opinion over the war in Iraq. However, the families of soldiers killed and wounded in this disastrous war will not share the Prime Minister's joviality. Such a callous attitude shows a total lack of respect for British soldiers and the people of this country. He has personally imposed his decisions and actions about Iraq on the British public, and in doing so assisted in creating an increasingly unsettled world. His legacy will not only be about Iraq, but also numerous failed domestic issues, and the continual capitulation to the European Union, resulting in a decline of this country's independence. HARRY LAWRIE American Opinion of Bush: President Bush said something in his State of the Union Address about Iraqis’ freedom. But what about the people in this country who cannot go outside because of drive-by shootings? When do our people feel safe? Safe from crime, hunger and health care costs? The list goes on. We are in danger of losing this country’s reserves. We can’t keep paying about a billion dollars a day for this war. We owe it to our men and women who are giving their lives in the war to call for President Bush’s impeachment now, before it’s too late. MARGARET SEAMON OPINION: A Sheep-Like Nation is Allowing Bush to Erode Our Liberties and Well-being I awaken many mornings asking myself: “Why haven’t I taken to the streets with my fellow citizens demanding the resignation of this pretender to the throne?” “How can I go about my usual daily routine, while my country gradually slides into fascism in the name of national security?” “What am I so fearful of that I stand immobilized while innocent men, women and children are being killed in my name?” “How can I, in good conscience, continue to pay my federal taxes knowing that a large portion of them is going to the immoral war in Iraq and other such military adventures?” In 1775, speaking in favor of action to throw off the tyranny of the British crown, Patrick Henry declared: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? ... I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Today we Americans seem to be saying quite the opposite by our acquiescence: “Give me a powerful ruler to save me from the terrorists even if this means surrendering my rights as an American citizen.” From where I stand, there are worse things than passing from this mortal form. For if I permit the loss of my individual freedom, my personal integrity and the liberties that this nation stands for, am I not already among the living dead? The Forgotten Terrorist Attack The Amiryah bomb shelter was built as a civilian bomb shelter during the Iran-Iraq War. Even the engineer who designed it came on television and told the world that there was no way it could be a military asset. After the lies were put to rest, it became evident that the U.S. had mistaken the target as a military venue, or it had deliberately bombed it knowing it was a bomb shelter. To this day, not one U.S. government spokesperson has ever mentioned the truth. In fact, after February 14, 1991, the subject has been left unspoken: even the lies. Those inside the bomb shelter died horrific deaths. First, a 2,000-pound bomb crashed through the shelter creating a massive tunnel in which the second 2,000-pound bomb then came. Both blew up leaving a huge hole and killing more than 400 people. Only seven humans survived the attack. Those who died actually saw the first bomb and had a few seconds of life left before the second burrowed its way into the shelter. Such an attack transcends the barbarity of a bombing in which the people die immediately. The lines of burnt dead bodies lining the street presented a horrific scene reminiscent of Hiroshima after it was nuked by the U.S. This is the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the shelter, yet few words have been written as a reminder of the horrific act. Before March 2003, at least Iraq commemorated the event and remembered the dead. The stooges in power today don’t want to remind the world of the lack of caring for human life the U.S. displayed in 1991 in the bombing of Iraq. Most weren’t even in the country then. No matter how much they stick their heads in the sand, nothing will never ease the pain of one of the most barbaric terrorist attacks in history. The silence from the U.S. and the Iraqi quislings is deafening. PEACE ACTION: Women Say No to War. Over 30,000 Women around the world have signed this petition to say no to war. ALSO: US Government Rejects Visas for Iraqi Women to Visit US. Call the State Department to demand that the Iraqi women be allowed in the US to speak. For more information and contact emails, click link. CASUALTY REPORTS Local Story: Remembering Minnesotans who died in Iraq. Local Story: Tioga County (NY) sailor killed in Iraq. Local Story: Scots soldier to be laid to rest. Local Story: Ft. Campbell soldier dies during combat in Iraq. Local Story: New Mexican dies in Iraq on second tour. Local Story: Airman preparing for Iraq dies during training. QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I believe that there is a plan and a purpose for each person's life and that there are forces working in the universe to bring about good and to create a community of love and brotherhood. Those who can attune themselves to these forces - to God's purpose - can become special instruments of his will." - Coretta Scott King


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