Sunday, February 19, 2006
DAILY WAR NEWS FOR MONDAY, February 20, 2006
Photo: Cover of former U.S. Marine Jimmy Massey's book Kill! Kill! Kill!, published in France in October 6 2005 by Editions du Panama. The copy text reads: "War crimes in Iraq: The revelations of an American soldier." More below.
Bring ‘em on: U.S. soldier killed when a roadside bomb struck his vehicle while on combat patrol near the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala.
Bring ‘em on: At least twelve people killed inside bus in Baghdad by alleged suicide bomber.
Bring ‘em on: In Mosul, bomb planted inside a restaurant kills four civilians and one policeman.
Bring ‘em on: Car bomb explodes near local council building in Baghdad, killing at least two people and wounding 11.
Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqis killed after their truck convoy carrying building materials came under rocket and automatic weapons fire close to the capital. A group of 15 cars struck the convoy, which was delivering supplies to a US military base, at Nabai, about 50km north of Baghdad.
Bring ‘em on: Gunmen killed five people and wounded four when they attacked trucks loaded with gravel near the Iraqi town of Dujail on Sunday.
Bring ‘em on: At least two Iraqis were killed and 11 wounded when a car bomb exploded in the Diyala Bridge area of Baghdad, police sources said. They said the attack targeted a local government official but most of the casualties were gathered at a nearby outdoor market.
Bring ‘em on: At least 19 labourers were wounded when a bomb exploded where they were gathering in central Baghdad.
Bring ‘em on: Eleven people were wounded including two foreign contractors when two roadside bombs exploded in eastern Baghdad.
Bring ‘em on: Gunmen assassinated a Sunni Muslim cleric and wounded his brother on Sunday in the Sunni town of Dhuluiya, 40km (25 miles) north of Baghdad.
Bring ‘em on: Gunmen assassinated a man at a petrol station in the Shi'ite Muslim town of Balad on Sunday, police said. The identity of the victim was not immediately clear.
Bring ‘em on: A roadside bomb wounded two policemen when it exploded near their patrol in central Baghdad.
Bring ‘em on: A roadside bomb wounded a policeman as his patrol passed through the town of Iskandariya, south of Baghdad.
Report: UK soldiers arrested in Basra: Official sources announce three soldiers from British Army, which controls this part of the country, were arrested in southern Iraqi town of Basra, Arab network Moheet informs. The soldiers were arrested after being accused of rough behavior towards Iraqi youths.
Spokesman for British Embassy in Baghdad clarified the case was being investigated. There are no more details in connection to the accusation of the three Britons.
Two kidnapped Macedonian contractors released in Basra: The two men, who were abducted Thursday, worked for a Macedonian cleaning company at Basra International Airport. Their kidnappers demanded a $1 million ransom from their employers. It was unclear if any ransom had been paid.
U.S. threatens Iraqi parties for not reaching a deal over new government: The U.S. ambassador to Iraq warned Iraqi politicians that the United States will not invest the resources of the American people in institutions run by sectarians in an apparent sign of U.S. displeasure over the direction of talks to form a unity government.
Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, in a rare press conference, urged Iraq's leaders to come together for the sake of the country. He said failure by the Iraqis to form a broad-based government that does not favor a single sect threatens to upset U.S. plans to transfer power to the Iraqis so that U.S. forces can begin to go home.
But prospects for a broad-based coalition taking power soon appeared in doubt after officials from the Shiite and Kurdish blocs told The Associated Press that talks between the two groups had revealed major policy differences.
Leaders from Iraq's Shiite majority oppose a Kurdish proposal to set up a council to oversee government operations, the officials said. Shiites also reject a Kurdish proposal for major government decisions to be made by consensus among the major parties rather than a majority vote in the Cabinet.
Shiites and Kurds were partners in the outgoing interim government, and talks with Sunni Arabs are likely to be even more difficult because Sunnis refuse to brand all insurgents as terrorists. U.S. officials believe a strong Sunni role is essential if the new government is to undermine the insurgency.
Crashed German plane found: The wrecked German plane had been en route to Iraq from Azerbaijan carrying five Germans and an Iraqi — employees of a Bavarian construction company — when it went missing during stormy weather Thursday night over the rugged mountains near the border with Iran.
Shahou Mohammed, the regional administrator in Sulaimaniyah, said the wreckage was found about 25 miles northeast of Sulaimaniyah by a Kurdish shepherd tending his flocks on a 4,200-foot ridge.
In Baghdad, U.S. Embassy official Peter McHugh said an American adviser who accompanied the Iraqi search team reported from the scene that the aircraft wreckage was scattered over a fairly large area and "there appear to be no survivors."
"Everything I've seen suggests this is an aviation accident," and was not the result of any "hostile intervention," he said.
Bin Laden compares U.S. to Saddam: Osama bin Laden accused U.S. forces of "barbaric" acts in Iraq comparable to those committed by Saddam Hussein, according to an audio tape first broadcast in January and posted on the Internet in full on Monday. "The (U.S.) criminality has gone as far as raping women and holding them hostage before their husbands ... as for the torture of men it has now come to the use of burning chemical acids and electric drills in their joints," he said in the tape posted with an English-language voice over.
In the audio released on Monday, bin Laden said the insurgency in Iraq was gaining strength despite "barbaric and oppressive steps taken by the American army and its agents to the extent that there is no longer any mentionable difference between this criminality and the criminality of Saddam."
Commenting on British newspaper report in a November that U.S. President George W. Bush had mulled bombing Al Jazeera's head office, the Saudi-born militant called Bush the "butcher of freedom" and criticised the prominent Arab television and the leaders of its host country, Qatar.
"Recently it has surfaced in documents that the butcher of freedom in the world had resolved to bomb the head offices of Al Jazeera satellite channel in Qatar after he had bombed its offices in Kabul and Baghdad although it, as it stands, is the instrument of your (Americans) servants there (in Qatar).
Blair: Guantánamo is”anomaly” that will have to be "dealt with": In Berlin to meet the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the prime minister was asked whether he supported a call from his Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Hain, for the centre to be closed.
"I have always said it is an anomaly, and sooner or later has to be dealt with," the prime minister told a news conference, repeating a comment he made to MPs last November.
Last night, Mr Hain told BBC1's Question Time: "I would prefer that it [Guantánamo] was not there. I would prefer it was closed, yes." Asked whether it was government policy that Guantánamo should be shut down, he replied: "That's what I think."
Mr Hain said the British government accepted that useful information had been obtained from detainees at Guantánamo, but had always been uncomfortable with the camp's existence.
"What we have said all along is, we don't agree with that," he said. "[The prime minister] has said that as a matter of fact some of the information that came from there was of importance, but that does not mean to say that he thinks the place should have been set up in the first place. There's a distinction there." He added: "We've always said that Guantánamo Bay was something that should not have happened."
Archbishop Desmond Tutu joins chorus of criticism of Guantánamo Bay: "I never imagined I would live to see the day when the United States and its satellites would use precisely the same arguments that the apartheid government used for detention without trial. It is disgraceful," he told the BBC's Today programme. "One cannot find strong enough words to condemn what Britain and the United States and some of their allies have accepted."
He also attacked Mr Blair's failed attempt to hold terrorist suspects in Britain for up to 90 days without charge. "Ninety days for a South African is an awful deja vu because we had in South Africa, in the bad old days, a 90-day detention law," he said.
Archbishop of York says Bush administration reflects a society heading towards ‘Animal Farm’: Dr [John] Sentamu, the Church of England's second in command, urged the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) to take legal action against the US - through the US courts or the International Court of Justice at The Hague - should it fail to respond to a report, by five UN inspectors, advising that Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay should be shut immediately because prisoners there are being tortured.
Dr Sentamu said the UNHRC should seek a writ of habeas corpus, compelling the US to bring those being detained at Guantanamo to court, to establish whether they are imprisoned lawfully and if they should be released.
"The American Government is breaking international law," he told The Independent. "The main building block of a democratic society is that everyone is equal before the law, innocent until proved otherwise, and has the right to legal representation. If the guilt of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay is beyond doubt, why are the Americans afraid to bring them to trial? Transparency and accountability are the other side of the coin of freedom and responsibility. We are all accountable for our actions in spite of circumstances. The events of 9/11 cannot erase the rule of law and international obligations.
"The US should try all 500 detainees at Guantanamo, who still include eight British residents, or free them without further delay. To hold someone for up to four years without charge clearly indicates a society that is heading towards George Orwell's Animal Farm."
DoD anounces death of ten U.S. servicemen in Gulf of Aden helicopter crash: “All 10 died Feb. 17, when two CH-53 helicopters crashed into the Gulf of Aden in the vicinity of Ras Siyyan, northern Djibouti, while flying a training mission in the Godoria Range area. The Marines and airmen were deployed to Djibouti as part of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.”
US military planes criss-cross Europe using bogus call sign: The American military have been operating flights across Europe using a call sign assigned to a civilian airline that they have no legal right to use. Not only is the call sign bogus — according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) — so, it appears, are some of the aircraft details the Americans have filed with the air traffic control authorities.
In at least one case, a plane identified with the CIA practice of “extraordinary rendition” — transporting terrorist suspects — left a US air base just after the arrival of an aircraft using the bogus call sign. The call sign Juliet Golf Oscar (JGO) followed by a flight number belongs, says the ICAO, to a now bankrupt Canadian low-cost airline called Jetsgo of Montreal.
But for several years and as recently as last December it has been used selectively by both the American air force and army to cover the flights of aircraft to and from the Balkans.
”Terrorism experts” embedded in military industry: In January 2005 a British and an Iraqi civilian were killed just north of Baghdad whilst working for security contractors Janusian Security Risk Management Ltd. The employees were apparently riding in a convoy near to the power station they worked at when they were ambushed. Janusian is one firm amongst multitude of private military companies providing armed guard and escort services in Iraq who, according the US Department of Defence, now employ around 25,000 people. It was apparently the first Western private military outfit to have an operational office and manager stationed permanently in Iraq.
The firm grew out of the network of interests that spans the risk management/private military industry and academic ‘terrorology.’ David Claridge, the managing director of Janusian is one of the founder members, and an Honorary Fellow of, the Centre for Studies in Terrorism and Political Violence in the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Janusian and the St Andrews Centre pool ‘expertise’ and share information. The following statement boasts of this relationship on the company’s website:
The new company has created a number of proprietary tools to identify and evaluate the terrorist, criminal and other physical threats facing businesses around the world. The first of these, a unique collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews, includes shared access to research, intelligence sources and databases, and the expertise of the Centre’s staff, as well as the development of sector-specific studies into areas of political risk
The close links between the St Andrews Centre and the security industry is typical of the ‘embedded nature’ of academic expertise in terrorism. In the same way that much of our information regarding the nature of the ‘insurgency’ in Iraq remains largely dominated by misinformation drawn from embedded journalism, so much expertise on contemporary terrorism originates from a pool of embedded academics with close links to the military industry. In other words, the academic study of terrorism is dominated by embedded academics.
St Andrews Centre associates such as Claridge and Hoffman continue the long tradition of putting counter-insurgency theory into practice. Bruce Hoffman’s term of office in the Coalition Provisional Authority has been most distinguished by his advancement of a new counter-insurgency theory and practice in Iraq. In a briefing paper written as adviser to the occupation regime, Hoffman pays tribute to Frank Kitson’s “magisterial” Low Intensity Operations, the text which set out a rationale for conducting hidden warfare against dissenting colonised populations, promoting the use of psychological operations against counter-insurgency. In doing so he articulates a newly revised version of counter-insurgency theory as a means of continuing the US occupation and defeating the insurgency. The revival of counter-insurgency theory will encourage the US to continue to use forms of torture, psyops and covert infiltration of Iraqi communities. Despite its highly dubious past, counter-insurgency theory is being put into practice in Iraq with the intellectual support of embedded academics who carry a torch for the long discredited theorists of colonial warfare.
Funding regime change: Washington's latest policy of putting more pressure on Iran through securing additional funding for "democracy-promoting" activities inside Iran has been greeted with official and popular rejection, even open derision, in Tehran.
In seeking an additional US$75 million from the US Congress to fund Iranian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that promote democracy, human rights and trade unionism, Rice is broadening the range of non-military options at Washington's disposal to weaken from within Tehran's clerical regime.
Such pronouncements are greeted with open skepticism by ordinary Iranians who have seen the infrastructure of neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan sustain significant blows by US invasions, after which they have lagged far behind the touted recovery schedules. Iranians also have not forgotten the support offered by Washington to their arch-enemy Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.
One of the militantly anti-clerical-regime groups that could stand to benefit from the new windfall is the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), a Marxist-Islamist organization that is hated within Iran because it sided with the Iraqi dictator against Iran during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War.
The MEK has been registered by the State Department as a terrorist organization for the past 10 years, but now neo-conservative factions of the Bush administration are lobbying hard to remove it from the list. Should the MEK end up benefiting from US pro-democracy largesse, it would send a clear message to people inside Iran that Washington funds groups that engage in terrorist activity. Some reports quote unidentified US officials as saying that the MEK would not receive any of the new funds.
"Most of the groups which will be suckling from this new taxpayer teat include designated terrorist organizations such as the MEK and ancien regime agonists, all with their own agendas which are not limited to outreach to Iranians, as these groups have little if any traction or credibility in Iran today," said Donald Weadon, an international lawyer specializing in Iran.
"If the Danish cartoons and most recent Abu Ghraib pictures are timed to promote another war in the Mideast and inculcate the 'clash of civilizations' mindset in the public," said Cyrus Safdari, an independent Iranian analyst, "then Madame Rice has a really bad sense of timing in seeking to 'reach out to the people of Iran' - who don't need $75 million to watch ... 'a few bad apples' from the US torturing people in Abu Ghraib."
A suicide bomber is someone who desperately believes in a cause: A leading US academic will challenge the establishment this week when he makes the controversial claim that poverty is not the root cause of inter national terrorism. Alan Krueger, professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, will say suicide bombers tend to come from middle-class families. He will also argue that terrorism is directly motivated by US policy decisions.
Krueger’s arguments will be made in a prestigious three-part lecture series at the London School of Economics, beginning on Tuesday. The former member of the Clinton administration will present new research on the “causes and consequences” of terrorism, which he says have been misunderstood.
One of his main findings disputes the supposed link between deprivation and terrorism. “One point I’m going to make is that the popular stereotype, from Tony Blair on down, seems to be that poverty is the root cause of terrorism. That is a very questionable presumption. The evidence doesn’t point in that direction,” he told the Sunday Herald. Krueger reached the conclusion by sampling members of Hezbollah and looking at the biographies of suicide bombers in Israel. “Overwhelmingly they were from well-off families, ” he said.
He said his model is relevant to al-Qaeda (whose leader Osama bin Laden came from a wealthy family and whose main ally was a doctor) and the 9/11 attacks on New York. “It fits very well. Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers were middle-class or from high-income classes. ” Krueger also applied his findings to the London Tube and bus bombings last July. “My vibe on the people who carried out the suicide attacks was that they were not from struggling families.”
He argues that terrorists, instead of coming primarily from poor states, tend to hail from oppressive regimes, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This, he says, shows that terrorists tend to be motivated by fanaticism, not poverty. “ In most cases [a suicide bomber] is not someone who has nothing to live for, but someone who desperately believes in a cause.”
He will also say US policies, such as the presence of troops in the Middle East, are one of the main factors behind terrorism. “A good example is US presence in Saudi Arabia, which is a large part of the motivation for al-Qaeda. The US just had to think of suicide bombers as people who are destitute, whereas I think they are motivated by political factors. We have to own up to the fact that a lot of the terrorist activity is in response to policy decisions.”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
An Iraqi patriot from Basra speaks out: Since April 2003, the people of Basra have consistently been bemused by reports that they and their city enjoy a state of calm and stability under the command of the British forces, in contrast to the north of Iraq and the so-called Sunni triangle. As someone born and bred in Basra, I hope that the recent images of British troops beating young Basra boys to within an inch of their lives will allow such claims to be laid to rest and show a fraction of the reality that has made life throughout Iraq a living hell.
The truth is that ever since the fall of Saddam Hussein's tyrannical regime, abuses and atrocities committed against Iraqi civilians have been a regular, at times daily, occurrence throughout the country, including in Basra. These have been committed by American, British and Iraqi official forces. Hearing the British prime minister describe this latest incident as an isolated case fills me and fellow Iraqis with anger.
It adds insult to very serious injury when we are told that this humiliation, torture and violence is the work of a few "bad apples". From previous experience, the most we can look forward to is a whitewash inquiry and possibly a young, low-ranking soldier being made a scapegoat.
Although I and numerous members of my family suffered personally, physically and otherwise at the hands of the Saddam Hussein regime, and dreamed for many years of the day he would be gone, I always opposed the invasion and occupation of our country. Subsequent events have made me even more convinced of the fallacy and immorality of the military campaign that Britain and the US have pursued in Iraq. The biggest indictment of the war and occupation is surely that more and more Iraqis are speaking publicly of how life was far better when Saddam was in power - an achievement most Iraqis never imagined possible.
Tony Blair's suggestion that British forces are in Iraq to educate Iraqis in democracy has only added salt to our bleeding wounds. This rhetoric harks back to imperial times when Britain was a colonial power and treated my forefathers, as well as many other peoples in the world, as backward savages. It hurts me that despite Mr Blair's first-class education, he seems to have learned so little. Until recently, Britain was admired and respected by Iraqis. The few who had the chance to visit or study in the UK were looked upon with envy. The past three years have seen to it that that respect has been obliterated.
Iraqis have suffered immensely over recent years, first from the west's support for a despotic dictatorship, then from 13 years of sanctions that ravaged the country, and finally from a war and occupation that reduced a once-affluent country and its highly-educated people to rubble and dust.
I share with the majority of Iraqis the belief that the only way forward is the immediate departure of American and British troops from our country. The suggestion that this would make matters worse is at best laughable and at worst a scurrilous lie. Matters cannot get any worse, and they only became this bad because of the decision by American and British leaders to wage war against a people who were already suffering.
I have no doubt that I will see my country truly free and liberated from tyranny and occupation. I pray that this happens without the further spilling of blood - Iraqi, American or British.
• Dr Jasem al-Aqrab is head of organisation for the Iraqi Islamic party in Basra
Email from Ramadi, Iraq:
I wish I had the time or energy or memory capacity to describe to you how wrong this whole thing has gone. It's just as you described it a couple years ago. We can make a difference here, and I believe in the mission as it looks on paper. But your president and his brain-dead colleagues aren't even trying to give us what we need to do it. The add-on armor HMMWVs are a joke. The terrorists target them b/c they know they offer no protection. The M1114s have good armor, but every time we lose one (I had one blown up Monday, driver had his femoral artery cut -- will recover fully -- b/c there apparently is no armor or very weak armor under the pedals) it's impossible to replace them. So now I have to send yet another add-on armored vehicle outside the wire daily.
The M1114s also have certain mechanical defects, known to the manufacturer, for which there is apparently no known fix. For example, on some of them (like mine) if it stalls or you turn it off, you cannot restart it if the engine is hot. We have to dump 3 liters of cold water on a solenoid in order to start it again. Not that much fun when your vehicle won't start in Indian country. I wonder if DoD is getting a refund for the contract. Speaking of contracts, KBR is a joke. I can't even enumerate the problems with their service, but I guarantee they do not receive less money based on how many of the showers don't work, or how many of us won't eat in the chow hall often because we get sick every time we do.
There is so much. I could go on forever. The worst thing, which we have discussed, is that they are playing these bullshit numbers games to fool America about troop strength. If they stopped paying KBR employees $100,000 to do the job of a $28,000 soldier, maybe they'd have enough money to send us enough soldiers to do the job. As it stands we have no offensive capability in the most dangerous city on earth. General Shinseki should write an Op/Ed that basically says, "I told you so." Idiots.
Where are the AC-130s? The Apaches? They have them in far less active AOs (areas of operations). All we ever get is a single Huey and Cobra team, both of which are older than I am. It's such a joke. They're not even trying. At all. They have Apaches in Tikrit but Hueys in Ramadi.
I wish every American could see this for him/herself. Registering your frustration at the ballot box isn't nearly enough. There should be jail terms for this.
* Paul Rieckhoff was assigned as platoon leader for the 3rd Platoon, B Company, 3/124th INF (Air Assault) FLNG, and spent approximately 10 months in Iraq. Third Platoon conducted over 1,000 combat patrols; all 38 men in Rieckhoff's platoon returned home alive. In June 2004, Rieckhoff founded Operation Truth -- now called Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
When you’ve killed 100,000 civilians, what is beating up a few youths?: Of course, what makes it a media story is that there were actually pictures. As the entire Western media in Iraq has a policy of skulking in places where they can be certain nothing will happen, such film is rare. And nowadays, if there are no pictures, it is not news.
Doubtless, some privates and lance corporals will be court martialled. Actually, I blame them very little. What are they supposed to do to disperse a crowd which, plainly, was trying to inflict actual violence on the troops? If every Iraqi who threw a stone at coalition forces was interned, you would keep millions of prisoners. There are no Iraqi authorities to whom prisoners can be turned over who will deal with them sensibly. The British don’t want prisoners, and the UK military now have a de facto policy of not turning prisoners over to the US authorities because of their inept and violent handling of them.
The British troops are in a completely impossible situation. Their role is to support a corrupt and inefficient Iraqi puppet administration which is incapable of exercising control, and would do little for good if it did have control. The vast majority of the Iraqi population do not want us there. The real good that this video might have done is in driving home to the British public, against the ceaseless propaganda of the mainstream media, that we are not wanted. That stone-throwing crowd were Shias, for God’s sake. The official propaganda says that they are on “our” side.
So our troops are being sniped at, blown up or facing violent mobs. They can do little about it. Their own military leadership are convinced that they should not be there. They are not the ones reaping the benefits of huge income from the new US and UK oil contracts, though they will be giving their lives to protect the carpetbaggers who have descended on Iraq like locusts. Is there any wonder that this boils over in frustration?
The disgraceful actions in that video were not the product of intrinsic evil on the part of the British troops involved. This incident was one of the more minor consequences of the illegal war of aggression and occupation launched by George Bush and Tony Blair. It is Blair and Bush, not the troops, who should be in the dock.
The one scenario that is left out of virtually every discussion of how to remove U.S. troops from Iraq: Activists and commentators usually emphasize the political factors that might propel a U.S. withdrawal. A powerful faction in Congress could catch the anti-war bug and set a withdrawal date. Public opinion could sway even more decisively against the war, and the call for an exit grow so loud that a withdrawal must be orchestrated even against President Bush's wishes. Or the Iraqis somehow, against the odds, could suddenly display the resolve, competence and indeed sheer patriotism enabling them to take over the fight against Iraqi rebels and insurgents.
These three withdrawal scenarios are the only ones on the table. Either Congress revolts, the masses revolt or the Iraqi government revolts against the U.S. occupation and evicts the Americans.
We need to broaden the options. To do so we should think the unthinkable; consider the one scenario that is left out of virtually every public and private discussion of how to remove U.S. combat troops from Iraq. A blow that might kill hundreds of Americans in one encounter.
All the possibilities are deeply disturbing. Insurgents could tunnel their way into the Green Zone, the fortified Baghdad neighborhood that is home to top U.S. officials, aid workers and contractors. Even in a brief time, many Americans could be killed before U.S. forces regained control. American troops might be routed in a conventional pitched battle in some Iraqi city; they could be surrounded, slaughtered, even taken prisoner in large numbers. A straightforward terrorist attack could also inflict large casualties. On October 23, 1983, 241 American servicemen were killed by suicide bombers in Lebanon. Losses on such a scale cannot be ruled out in Iraq.
Opponents of U.S. forces in Iraq -- and defenders of their presence -- must begin to think the unthinkable.
Because of the seeming anarchy?: The US has already lost the war on Iraq. It should pull out. When? Now. What will happen? I don't know. No one knows. What will people do when you let them out of their cages? What will slaves do when you free them? What happens when you free those who are imprisoned unjustly? I don't know the answer to these questions, and no one does. I will observe that other countries count the day that the US soldiers left as the beginning of a bright future.
I think of Somalia, which – after a Bush Senior invasion – Clinton wisely left in a lurch after violence against American soldiers. Today warlords still compete for control of the capital. The CIA factbook contains a sentence that might have pleased Thomas Jefferson: Somalia has "no permanent national government." But the rest of the country has moved on. It has prospered.
Here is more from the latest CIA factbook:
"Despite the seeming anarchy, Somalia's service sector has managed to survive and grow. Telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent. In the absence of a formal banking sector, money exchange services have sprouted throughout the country, handling between $500 million and $1 billion in remittances annually. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate, and militias provide security."The CIA chooses the word "despite" the seeming anarchy. I would like to replace that with "because" of the seeming anarchy.
Now is the time for all good people to become unapologetically paranoid: Paranoia should now be the normal state of mind for thinking people. Sneers and dismissive remarks about "conspiracy theorists" must be ignored. We don't want to end up like the proverbial frog who boils to death because the heat was turned up slowly.
The Bush administration is becoming ever more brazen in its effort to snoop on the American people. The Attorney General is making the case that warrants aren't needed if the government wants to spy on us. Unlimited government power is predictably effective. Anyone not wire tapped, investigated or banned from airplanes will be too intimidated to speak up or even to "Google."
The Bushmen are too smart to only go after political opponents. Instead they are honing their tactics on everyone who does an internet search, a majority of people in the nation. Under the guise of investigating the extent of child pornography on the internet, the ironically named Justice Department demanded that the largest search engines in the country turn over the results of millions of internet searches in the country. Yahoo, MSN and AOL all gave up without a fight and handed big brother the results of your inquiries on any and every issue or topic. Only Google challenged the subpoena in court.
If internet snooping doesn't give one pause, then Halliburton can always be counted on to frighten anyone with half a brain. Vice President Dick Cheney's personal cash cow is the lucky beneficiary of yet another government contract. The Halliburton story of banana republic corruption is well known to anyone not living under a rock. Because their crimes have gone unpunished, news of Halliburton chicanery barely raises eyebrows anymore. Halliburton's latest contract strikes close to home, literally, and doesn't allow them to build barracks in Iraq or clean up after hurricane Katrina.
What ought to shock and terrify every American is that KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary, was awarded a $385 million contract to build "temporary detention facilities" in case of an "immigration emergency":
"The contract may also provide migrant detention support to other U.S. Government organizations in the event of an immigration emergency, as well as the development of a plan to react to a national emergency, such as a natural disaster. In the event of a natural disaster, the contractor could be tasked with providing housing for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) personnel performing law enforcement functions in support of relief efforts."Anyone paying a little bit of attention will ask, "What immigration emergency?" If there is an immigration emergency looming on the horizon it is a big secret. Of course immigrants will be the first ensnared in the net that big brother Bush has in mind, but the net won't stop with them.
What sort of national emergency requires detention centers? America has plenty of prisons. More of our population is behind bars than in any country on earth. There are detention centers for immigration in existence already. As for helping in case of a natural disaster, hurricane Katrina proved that saving American lives is not on the Bush agenda.
When the word detention comes up, hairs should rise on the back of every neck. Thanks to the Patriot Act and the creation of "enemy combatants" these detention centers can be used to lock up anyone for any reason for any length of time that Uncle Sam wishes.
What sort of national emergency will trigger the beginning of detentions? Probably not Mexicans heading for the border. If Democrats show uncharacteristic boldness and begin impeachment proceedings against Bush, we will begin to see Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib on U.S. soil.
The endless war on terror would no doubt be a pretext for detentions of immigrants or Americans. Just ask Jose Padilla, the American citizen accused of planning "dirty bomb" attacks. Actually you can't ask Padilla anything. He hasn't seen the outside of a jail in years. An entirely new category of criminals, enemy combatants, was created to justify endless incarceration. If our government is planning to create more Padillas, Halliburton definitely needs a new contract.
You can look it up, if you dare. Searching for the words "Halliburton" and "detention" may bring more than you bargained for.
The Point of No Return: Dictators do not appear overnight. They must gradually assume more and more power over time so that the population does not realize what is going on, or does not feel it is worthwhile to object.
But to maintain control, dictators "seduce" their population into greater and greater atrocities, over time. There is more than simply acclimating the population involved to the dictator's agenda. By tricking the population into acceptance of greater and greater atrocities, the dictator will eventually reach a position where the people will be too afraid to examine what they themselves have become. Trapped by the fear of examining themselves, such people turn into the most fanatical of the dictator's supporters. They dare not look at the dictator's evil for to do so is to look at their own. Once the dictator can trick his people past that point, they are his slaves. Hitler used this tactic. So did Stalin.
The people of the United States stand at that point right now. That the US Government is using torture on POWs (just as Hitler did) is beyond argument. One can either stand up and denounce that torture and demand the firing of all who took part in it (and the end of the war), or one is by default complicit, an accessory after the fact, seen by all to condone such barbarism.
Anyone who steps across that line is trapped. Unable to look at what they themselves have become they will refuse to look at what the government has become, indeed will create or accept any justification, no matter how thin and transparent, rather than question that government. And indeed this web site gets email from people who have already crossed that point, and are trying to explain why torture is really necessary "this time".
So, you are down to a choice. There is no more being neutral, or sitting on the fence. As Bush himself said, you are either with him or against him, and unless you are actively against him and his war machine, then he wins by default. Unless you stop them now, sooner or later, Bush and the NeoCons will succeed in turning this nation into the 21st century version of Nazi Germany, powered by fanatics so afraid to look in a mirror that they will inflict any pain on any people, rather than do so.
Time to decide.
Conservatives Endorse the Fuhrer Principle: Last week's annual Conservative Political Action Conference signaled the transformation of American conservatism into brownshirtism. A former Justice Department official named Viet Dinh got a standing ovation when he told the CPAC audience that the rule of law mustn't get in the way of President Bush protecting Americans from Osama bin Laden.
Former Republican congressman Bob Barr, who led the House impeachment of President Bill Clinton, reminded the CPAC audience that our first loyalty is to the U.S. Constitution, not to a leader. The question, Barr said, is not one of disloyalty to Bush, but whether America "will remain a nation subject to, and governed by, the rule of law or the whim of men."
The CPAC audience answered that they preferred to be governed by Bush. According to Dana Milbank, a member of the CPAC audience named Richard Sorcinelli loudly booed Barr, declaring: "I can't believe I'm in a conservative hall listening to him say Bush is off course trying to defend the United States." A woman in the audience told Barr that the Constitution placed Bush above the law and above non-elected federal judges.
These statements gallop beyond the merely partisan. They express the sentiments of brownshirtism. Our leader über alles.
In opposing Bush's illegal behavior, Barr is simply being consistent. But this time, Barr's principles are at odds with the emotions of the politically partisan CPAC audience. Rushing to the defense of Bush, the CPAC audience endorsed Viet Dinh's Fuhrer Principle over the rule of law.
The Bush regime is asserting the Fuhrer Principle, and Americans are buying it, even as Bush declares that America is at war in order to bring democracy to the Middle East.
How to stop terrorism in three days — and suffer the consequences: In case you don't know, on January 19 the latest audiotape from Osama bin Laden was released and in it he declared: "If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security, we have answered you. And if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book _Rogue State', which states in its introduction ... " He then goes on to quote the opening of a paragraph I wrote (which appears actually in the Foreword of the British edition only, that was later translated to Arabic), which in full reads:
"If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize -- very publicly and very sincerely -- to all the widows and the orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America’s global interventions -- including the awful bombings -- have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but -– oddly enough -– a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims and repair the damage from the many American bombings and invasions. There would be more than enough money. Do you know what one year of the US military budget is equal to? One year. It’s equal to more than $20,000 per hour for every hour since Jesus Christ was born.
"That’s what I’d do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I’d be assassinated."
You say you want a revolution…: History teaches that the poor aren't always happy being that way.
Periodically, they topple kings, behead the courtesans, sell the jewels, establish a people's form of government and then, masters of their own fate, elect someone who favors the rich to lead them. And it starts all over again.
But what they gain, meanwhile, is the opportunity to someday be among those with the power to determine precisely who will abuse the subjugated masses. It might even be one of them.
I mention this due to a disquieting trend in this country to veer away from what we started a couple of hundred years ago and segue into a form of democratic aristocracy. Everyone wants to be free and everyone wants to be rich.
This works quite well if you've managed to earn, inherit or steal a good deal of money, thereby achieving a standard of living far above that of the lumpenproletariat, which is to say those in the crowds at the foot of the castle.
If you're not among the aristocrats, life becomes a little harder. The costs of housing, food, transportation and medical care edge increasingly upward. The gap between you and the chairman of the board of Exxon Mobil grows wider.
If you're in the lower percentages of the working classes, your income has decreased 1% in the past years. But if you're among the richest 20% of the nation, hallelujah, it's up almost 4%! Even more if you own oil company stock.
Meanwhile, we've spent $251 billion so far fighting a war we can't possibly win, and the prez wants billions more. But, hey, look on the bright side: We'll probably be saving money by cutting off relief efforts to the Palestinians because the free election we've been encouraging for years didn't turn out the way we'd planned.
But then, you say, what do I know? Not much. I just figure that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and it has something to do with greed and the increased costs of just about everything.
I'm not sure where all of this might be going, but when the downtrodden get damned tired of watching a class of economic royalists living high on the hog while they starve, well: "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…. "
That's the start of the Declaration of Independence, if you're wondering; the chains we threw off when our situation became intolerable, when we had no representation in the court of King George, when oppression was a sword that pinned us to the ground.
As a ruling class of the moneyed emerges in a country beset by the woes of the poor, one wonders if the impoverished will rise up against economic disparity, at last weary of bearing the burden of aristocratic affluence, tired of scratching for food, of barely making it, when others are making it big.
Listen closely and you can almost hear the drums beating.
CARTOONS AND THE ‘CLASH OF FREEDOMS’
It’s easy to be a naysayer about this clash of civilizations: Numerous Muslims have written and spoken to condemn any violent reaction or threats; numerous “Westerners” have written to condemn the assault on Muslims’ feelings, though few have termed it racist. Jyllands Posten, the paper that started the furor, is a right-wing anti-immigrant paper and the editor in question, Flemming Rose, is a right-wing provocateur who likes to hobnob with ranting Islamophobe Daniel Pipes. The Syrian government was obviously complicit with the protests in Syria; unauthorized protests are shut down within minutes. The issue didn’t start to take off until a meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference at which many governments shared their outrage; it also required fabricated cartoons, including one showing the Prophet as a pig.
It’s dangerous, however, to conclude from this that the ordinary people are not involved and it’s just a few interested parties on each side stirring things up. Politics always requires people to stir things up – there’s no such thing as a spontaneous demonstration. The point is that the background of racial hatred, misunderstanding, paranoia and wounded feelings, 9/11, occupation of three Muslim countries by Western troops, and much more was incredibly conducive to a flareup like this.
This episode reveals, in a way, more about the deep underlying problems that have made our American crusade and our tremendously polarized world possible, than anything since the reaction to 9/11. Some people of good will like to say that the problem is that “we” don’t understand “them,” so “we” should study the Koran, and so on. I think the problem is that “we” don’t understand “us.”
Denmark, Where Are You?: We might not think anyone is noticing this little nation, Denmark, out there in the world. But people around us are following what is happening in Denmark more closely than many Danes themselves. They've heard about Dansk Folkeparti's Louise Frevert's remark that "Muslims are a cancer on the Danish society...." They also know very well that "Reverend" Jesper Langballe in the Danish parliament called Islam a "plague over Europe"..... exactly what Hitler's Der Stürmer called the Jews before the Crystal Night and its murderous raids on Jews November 9th 1938.
People of Islamic faith are no more dumb than everyone else. They know that all signs of a coming Holocaust against Muslims are present. In Denmark, around Europe, in Washington and London. In the Middle East it started a long time ago.
Is the victim supposed to honor to the executioner's "free speech"? Should my father's beautiful aunt Anna and the 28 other persons from my father's family, who died in Nazi concentration camps, politely have said "To Hitler's right to lie..." when they stepped into the chamber of death?
And then here we are at the root of the matter.
As Jyllandspostens‚ chief cultural editor, the PR man of the US neocons in Denmark, Flemming Rose, tells the New herald Tribune, this cartoon isue is about far more than a couple of drawings. Rose says - just like Donald Rumsfeld and the neocon kingpin Daniel Pipes this is the "Clash of Civilizations". That's neocon code for the annexation of the Middle East. A vast US nuclear waste junkyard with oilpipes and military bases with ten layers of barbed wire around it. The "Endlösung" for the Palestinian people. An endless West Bank.
And it doesn't even stop there. All nations including Denmark are going to get a sweep with the tar brush, and this isn't "in a few years". The Bush globalisation's black future has already begun. In the last couple of weeks Denmark had a little taste of how it feels to be a manipulated colony.
Hundreds of millions of other people know all about that already. The Arabic peoples, which Fogh is struggling to "calm down", already knows the ideas of "Project For A New American Century", as the US guys behind Flemming Rose are calling it. They know the paranoid "Empire" won't even feel safe when it has its iron hand on each and every person on the planet.
The Iraqis have showed us something really important: the Empire is a colossus on feet of clay. While many Danes were busy with low-interest loans, the Iraqi's dented rifles halted the US Project World Supremacy - at least for a couple of years.
Include them in your prayers. They are protecting us too. They are all your daily gift.
Let me add a few words on Jyllandsposten's holy cause - freedom of speech.
Neither the newspaper nor Anders Fogh have ever worried about freedom of speech before, and have done all they could to take it away. We don't have freedom of speech in Denmark anymore, unless we're prepared to take the risk to get treated like a "terrorist". The Danish "terror Law" is a constitution-breaking hoax, that hasn't brought any terrorists out into the light, but has instead been used against freedom of speech (remember Greenpeace and "Foreningen oprør").
Freedom of speech, oh noble Jyllandposten... Jyllandsposten has a great history of humanism, like e.g. the editorial after Hitlers excesses against the German jews in the Crystal Night 1938:
"You have to admit Germany its clear right to rid itself of its Jews. But one must insist that it happens in a decent manner."— Thomas Koppel is a musician who with Annisette forms the influential Danish rock band Savage Rose, one of whose albums has just been chosen by the country’s government for the "Culture Cannon", a list of the most important works of art in the history of Denmark.
Europe's contempt for other cultures can't be sustained: Is the argument over the Danish cartoons really reducible to a matter of free speech? Even if we believe that free speech is a fundamental value, that does not give us carte blanche to say what we like in any context, regardless of consequence or effect. Respect for others, especially in an increasingly interdependent world, is a value of at least equal importance.
Europe has never had to worry too much about context or effect because for around 200 years it dominated and colonised most of the world. Such was Europe's omnipotence that it never needed to take into account the sensibilities, beliefs and attitudes of those that it colonised, however sacred and sensitive they might have been. On the contrary, European countries imposed their rulers, religion, beliefs, language, racial hierarchy and customs on those to whom they were entirely alien. There is a profound hypocrisy - and deep historical ignorance - when Europeans complain about the problems posed by the ethnic and religious minorities in their midst, for that is exactly what European colonial rule meant for peoples around the world. With one crucial difference, of course: the white minorities ruled the roost, whereas Europe's new ethnic minorities are marginalised, excluded and castigated, as recent events have shown.
But it is no longer possible for Europe to ignore the sensibilities of peoples with very different values, cultures and religions. First, western Europe now has sizeable minorities whose origins are very different from the host population and who are connected with their former homelands in diverse ways. If European societies want to live in some kind of domestic peace and harmony - rather than in a state of Balkanisation and repression - then they must find ways of integrating these minorities on rather more equal terms than, for the most part, they have so far achieved. That must mean, among other things, respect for their values. Second, it is patently clear that, globally speaking, Europe matters far less than it used to - and in the future will count for less and less. We must not only learn to share our homelands with people from very different roots, we must also learn to share the world with diverse peoples in a very different kind of way from what has been the European practice.
Europe has little experience of this, and what experience it has is mainly confined to less than half a century. Old attitudes of superiority and disdain - dressed up in terms of free speech, progress or whatever - are still very powerful. Nor - as many liberals like to think - are they necessarily in decline. On the contrary, racial bigotry is on the rise, even in countries that have previously been regarded as tolerant. The Danish government depends for its rule on a racist, far-right party that gained 13% of the seats in the last election. The decision of Jyllands-Posten to publish the cartoons - and papers in France, Germany, Italy and elsewhere to reprint them - lay not so much in the tradition of free speech but in European contempt for other cultures and religions: it was a deliberate, calculated insult to the beliefs of others, in this case Muslims.
This kind of mentality - combining Eurocentrism, old colonial attitudes of supremacism, racism, provincialism and sheer ignorance - will serve our continent ill in the future. Europe must learn to live in and with the world, not to dominate it, nor to assume it is superior or more virtuous. Any continent that has inflicted such brutality on the world over a period of 200 years has not too much to be proud of, and much to be modest and humble about - though this is rarely the way our history is presented in Britain, let alone elsewhere. It is worth remembering that while parts of Europe have had free speech (and democracy) for many decades, its colonies were granted neither. But when it comes to our "noble values", our colonial record is always written out of the script.
When Europe dominated, there were no or few feedback loops. Or, to put it another way, there were few, if any, consequences for its behaviour towards the non-western world: relations were simply too unequal. Now - and increasingly in the future - it will be very different. And the subject of these feedback loops, or consequences, will concern not just present but also past behaviour.
For 200 years the dominant powers have also been the colonial powers: the European countries, the US and Japan. They have never been required to pay their dues for what they did to those whom they possessed and treated with contempt. Europeans have treated this chapter in their history by choosing to forget. We might think the opium wars are "simply history"; the Chinese (rightly) do not. We might think the Bengal famine belongs in the last century, but Indians do not.
Europe is moving into a very different world. How will it react? If something like the attitude of the Danes prevails - a combination of defensiveness, fear, provincialism and arrogance - then one must fear for Europe's ability to learn to live in this new world. There is another way, but the signs are none too hopeful.
Oliphant’s static image of the Arab: Unlike some other forms of racism where there have been some incremental improvements, for Arabs the same stereotypes used thirty years ago or even 100 years ago still find their way into newspapers, films, news analysis and even academic discourse.
A perfect example of this is nationally syndicated cartoonist Pat Oliphant, who has vilified Arabs in his political cartoons for decades. The Arabs in his cartoons are exclusively hook-nosed, obese, beady eyed, greedy sheikhs residing in tents or palaces. A cartoon published in 2005 showed his trademark greedy Arab sheikhs feasting in a tent and refusing to give money to Tsunami victims. An almost identical cartoon was published in the Denver Post 30 years ago showing the same greedy sheikhs throwing a bone to a starving African child. Thirty years went by and Pat Oliphant was drawing the Arab exactly the same way.
The backward and seemingly static image of the Arab that Oliphant, Hollywood and the Bush administration have projected comes from classic colonial notions of Western superiority. The rhetoric by George Bush and Condoleezza Rice about bringing freedom and democracy to the Arab world is no different from the British and French in the 19th century talking about civilizing India and Africa. Neo-conservatives and right wing think tanks see the Arab world as a colonial project in which Arabs need to be subdued and civilized.
ONE MARINE WHO DARES TO EXPOSE U.S. WAR CRIMES IN IRAQ
ABOUT JIMMY MASEY
Jimmy Massey is a 12-year veteran of the U.S Marine Corps who participated in the invasion of Iraq in 2003: Before going to war, Massey was a Marine recruiter and boot camp drill instructor. But his experiences in Iraq caused him to have a change of heart. After he was honorably discharged in December of 2003 he vehemently spoke out against the war, and help found Iraq Veterans Against the War. Massey also confessed to participating in and witnessing atrocities while in Iraq and these accounts were published in newspapers and magazines across the country.
Massey also made international headlines in December of 2004 when he testified on behalf of war resister Jeremy Hinzman at a refugee hearing in Canada. At the time, Massey told Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board "I do know that we killed innocent civilians." He then recounted how US forces once fired up to 500 rounds of ammunition into four cars filled with civilians after they failed to stop at a checkpoint. On the next day, he said he witnessed Marines shooting dead four unarmed Iraqi demonstrators. Massey has written an autobiography titled "Kill, Kill, Kill" that was recently published in France [October 2005].
JIMMY MASEY SPEAKS
“We’re committing genocide in Iraq”: “As far as I’m concerned, the real war did not begin until they saw us murdering innocent civilians,” he said. “I mean, they were witnessing their loved ones being murdered by US Marines. It’s kind of hard to tell someone that they are being liberated when they just saw their child shot or lost their husband or grandmother.”
Massey manned a number of US military checkpoints on Iraqi highways in the months following the invasion. He described how, when cars failed to stop, out of confusion or otherwise, the order was to ‘light them up’ or open fire. It was at one of the checkpoints that Massey’s attitude toward the war reached its turning point.
“We signaled a car to stop and when it didn’t we opened fire. They were innocent civilians. We found no weapons, no explosives—nothing. Somehow, and I have no idea how he could have done it, but one guy got out of the car and he wasn’t badly wounded. He was the brother of one of the men bleeding to death in the car. He looked at me and asked, ‘Why did you kill my brother. What did he do to you?’”
Massey described the chaotic and reckless character of the roadside checkpoints and the indifference of the military leadership to the culture of the people that they were there supposedly to help.
“When you put your hand up in the air with a closed fist, in the Marines it means you want them to stop,” he said. “But, as we later learned, it’s actually the international sign of solidarity. It has a totally different meaning for the Iraqis—to them it was a sign like hello. And that was just one example of how we were not trained properly to understand the cultural differences between us and them.
“The bottom line is they [the military command] don’t see the need to teach culture and humanity to men whose singular purpose is to kill. And that was just one of the cultural miscues. I blame the top of the chain of command, from the President down to Tommy Franks [the former commander-in-chief of US occupation forces] to General [James] Mattis [commander of the First Marine Division]. They all knew that the military was not trained properly when it comes to dealing with Muslim culture and a foreign land. But that was not our purpose for being there.”
In the midst of the widespread killing of civilians, Massey was struck by the callousness of the military command and the lack of humanitarian assistance they were offering the Iraqi people. This further deepened his doubts about the true purpose of the war.
“We actually left all of the humanitarian MRE’s [Meals Ready to Eat] in Kuwait,” he recalled. “We were supposed to give these out for relief, and we left them in Kuwait. They were just for show when the film crews came into the camps. We also had this big show with the medical supplies that we were prepping for Iraqi casualties. We were supposed to get in there and take care of them.
“But I’ll give you an example of what we actually did. After we shot up this car with civilians, I called in the corpsmen to bring in stretchers. They came in and put two men on stretchers. Five minutes later, they brought them back and dumped their bodies on the side of the road. They were still alive. They were riddled with bullets—one guy was just rolling in agony on the side of the road.”
At the time, intelligence reports were streaming in describing insurgents and rebels driving ambulances and civilian cars. In a growing atmosphere of fear within US military ranks, the entire Iraqi population was now viewed as the enemy.
“We’re thinking everyone is a terrorist,” Massey recalled. “Here we are on no sleep, and there are intelligence reports coming in right and left about suicide attacks and the Republican Guard and so on—attacks being mounted against American forces. So cars come driving through our checkpoints, and our orders are to light them up. The amazing thing about it is that we were telling the Iraqis the exact opposite. We were telling them to keep their schools open, keep the hospitals open, to go about their normal routine—‘we’re not here to hurt you, we’re just here to overthrow Saddam.’ So these people were just doing their normal routines, and they were getting frickin’ blasted for it.”
A recent study estimated the number of Iraqi deaths since the start of the war in March 2003 at around 100,000. When asked if this number seemed accurate, Massey responded:
“Yes, but that of course does not include the thousands more who will be dying from disease because of a lack of medical supplies, clean water, or proper sanitation. It does not include the hundreds of thousands that died in Iraq before the war even began from the sanctions. We are committing genocide in Iraq, and that is the intention.”
Interview with Jimmy Massey (excerpts):
Sgt. Massey: There was this one particular incident -- and there's many more -- the one that really pushed me over the edge. It involved a car with Iraqi civilians. From all the intelligence reports we were getting, the cars were loaded down with suicide bombs or material. That's the rhetoric we received from intelligence. They came upon our checkpoint. We fired some warning shots. They didn't slow down. So we lit them up.
Paul Rockwell: Lit up? You mean you fired machine guns?
Sgt. Massey: Right. Every car that we lit up we were expecting ammunition to go off. But we never heard any. Well this particular vehicle we didn't destroy completely, and one gentleman looked up at me and said: 'Why did you kill my brother? We didn't do anything wrong.' That hit me like a ton of bricks.
Paul Rockwell: He spoke English?
Sgt. Massey: Oh, yeah.
Paul Rockwell: Baghdad was being bombed. The civilians were trying to get out, right?
Sgt. Massey: Yes. They received pamphlets, propaganda we dropped on them. It said 'Just throw up your hands, lay down weapons.' That's what they were doing, but we were still lighting them up. They weren't in uniform. We never found any weapons.
Paul Rockwell: I would like to go back to the first incident, when the survivor asked why did you kill his brother. Was that the incident that pushed you over the edge, as you put it?
Sgt. Massey: Oh, yeah. Later on I found out that was a typical day. I talked with my commanding officer after the incident. He came up to me and says: 'Are you o.k?' I said: 'No, today is not a good day. We killed a bunch of civilians.' He goes: 'No, today was a good day.' And when he said that, I said 'oh, my goodness, what the hell am I into?'ATTEMPTING TO SWIFTBOAT JIMMY MASSEY
Determine for yourself if a man accusing himself of murder is actually executing some clever ploy for fast cash: Earlier this month [November 2005], Ron Harris a reporter at the St. Louis Dispatch who was embedded with the Marines, wrote a series of articles claiming that Massey lied or exaggerated his claims. Harris writes that statements from Massey's fellow Marines, Massey's own conflicting accounts and the five journalists who were embedded with Massey's unit, discredit his allegations.
Following the article by Ron Harris, the editorial page editor of the Sacramento Bee - one of the first newspapers to publish Massey's story in May 2004 - says they should have looked more into the credibility of the story. David Holwerk writes, "We should have done more to check the truth of Massey's charges before deciding whether to publish them" he goes on to write that running the story, "raises serious questions about The Bee's performance."
Meanwhile, columnist Michelle Malkin writes, "Jimmy was Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan and John Kerry all wrapped up into one tidy, soundbite-friendly package -- a poster boy for peace topped off by a military uniform and tattoos to boot. But like a lot of the agitators who pose as well-meaning, good-faith peace activists, Jimmy Massey was something else: A complete fraud."
Massey has responded with an article posted on the Web. He sticks by his account of atrocities in Iraq and accuses Ron Harris of retaliating against him for calling attention to what he says was his inaccurate reporting while embedded in Iraq.
[Excerpt from a debate with Massey and Harris conducted by Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman:]
JIMMY MASSEY: Let me ask you this, Mr. Harris, what type of ammunition does a 50-caliber machine gun use in a CAT platoon?
RON HARRIS: I would think it would use 50-caliber machine guns.
JIMMY MASSEY: Okay. And what type of ammunition is used? 50-caliber, right? What type? What type of ammunition?
RON HARRIS: I have not a clue.
JIMMY MASSEY: Armor-piercing incendiary depleted uranium rounds.
RON HARRIS: What does that have to do with anything?
JIMMY MASSEY: What that has to do with, you reported several times from Lieutenant Colonel Belcher that you heard secondary explosions in your report.
RON HARRIS: I never said that.
JIMMY MASSEY: Yes, you did. I'm asking you how is – and why didn't you, when we were talking about weapons of mass destruction, why didn't you report that the depleted uranium rounds were being used, when we were supposed to be, in fact, looking for weapons of mass destruction, which your report in Salman Pak was totally incorrect. You made it sound like that we found tons of supplies of chemical ammunitions, which was totally untrue. If that was true, then we could have ended the war right there and said that we found weapons of mass destruction.
RON HARRIS: Whoa, whoa, I never reported –
AMY GOODMAN: Alright, let's get an answer. Ron Harris.
RON HARRIS: I never reported that we found tons of chemical weapons in Salman Pak.
JIMMY MASSEY: You reported that we found laboratories where supposed chemical munitions were being manufactured at Salman Pak.
RON HARRIS: I can pull that story up, if you want, but --
JIMMY MASSEY: Yeah, I’ve got the story right here, Mr. Harris.
RON HARRIS: If that's what the Marine Corps reported, then that's what we reported.
JIMMY MASSEY: Oh, wait a minute. So you’re saying you report what the Marine Corps reports?
RON HARRIS: Let's get clear on something, Jimmy.
JIMMY MASSEY: So you mean to tell me – no, no, no, explain to me, how does the briefing actually take place? When you sit down with Lieutenant Colonel Belcher and the major and the X.O. and the gunner of the battalion, what do they tell you prior to you going into an area? Because I'll tell you what, you were never present at any of the times when the civilian casualties and the shootings took place. The only time you showed up, sir, was afterwards, and then you were briefed. And then you were briefed by other Marines.
Jimmy Massey's ’Kill! Kill! Kill!’ book on sale at Amazon Frrance
The 2006 Word of the Year: Have you heard? The word impeachable has been voted "Most Likely to Be Selected as the Word of the Year" for 2006. Though it's not a new word by any means, it is set to explode in popular usage this year. If you want to be up with the times, you'd better get reacquainted with the word. Let's start with the dictionary entry.
im.peach.a.ble adj. 1. Liable or able to be impeached ["I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that the president is impeachable"] 2. Providing the grounds for impeachment ["Intentionally violating the constitution is an impeachable act"] 3. Flawed; reproachable; doubted, questioned or discredited ["If lying us into war didn't make him impeachable, this certainly does"] 4. Bellicose and inebriated with power, to the point that only impeachment will provide the necessary wake-up call ["The thing is, he wasn't even elected president in the first place, so it's a little ironic that we need to even discuss whether he's impeachable"] 5. Pertaining to an administration whose every act is so venal, cynical, and counter to authentic American values that it turns the stomach of a majority of the citizenry ["I know that it's only supposed to happen to the president, but let's get real - that whole crowd of neocon loonies is impeachable, if you ask me"] 6. Behaving as though one's blue-blood family history, powerful cronies and name recognition at the ballot box having propelled one into the White House leads logically to the notion that one has become all-powerful and able to speak English coherently ["Can you believe this latest travesty? Without a doubt, that is the most impeachable thing George W. Bush has done... today"] 7. (Archaic) Having engaged in extramarital sex.There. Now that you're clear what impeachable means, practice using it in conversation. The dictionary entry above includes several sample sentences with the word impeachable. Say each one of the sentences out loud several times until impeachable rolls off your tongue easily and comfortably.
All done? Great! Now, create a few sentences of your own using the word impeachable. Come up with at least five or six examples that demonstrate your mastery of the word.
Terrific! You're now ready to go out into daily life and impress your friends and colleages with your cutting-edge vocabulary. But be sure to keep practicing. Make a point to work the word impeachable into casual conversation several times a day.
The Republicans' "Impeachable" Plan
Be forewarned! There is a secret Republican plan to muddle the meaning of the word impeachable by introducing it on TV as a synonym for cool or great. Starting in late April or May, you'll hear exclamations such as, "Wow! That hat is so impeachable!" or "We won first prize? Impeachable!"
Impeach will be introduced as a synonym for "totally agree with." For example, "I impeach what you're saying, bro."
If this cynical plot succeeds, then people will hear "If that's not an impeachable act, I don't know what is" and think it means "What he's doing is wicked cool."
Don't be fooled!
Poland's FM rules out allowing Iranian researchers to examine Holocaust committed by German Nazis on Polish soil: Meller's remarks came after repeated denials of the Jewish Holocaust by Iranian officials and their suggestions that more research is needed to establish the truth about what happened to European Jews. "Under no circumstances we should allow something like that to take place in Poland," Meller told Polish news agency PAP. "It goes beyond all imaginable norms to question, even discuss or negotiate the issue."
Polish daily Rzeczpospolita reported on Friday that Iran wants to send researchers to Poland to examine the scale of the Nazi crimes during the war. Some 6 million Jews perished in the Holocaust, with an estimated 1.1 million killed in gas chambers at Auschwitz- Birkenau, a death camp set up in German-occupied Poland.
Last week Iran's ambassador to Lisbon, who in the past served as a diplomat in Poland, said in an interview on Portuguese radio that according to his calculations based on a visit to the camp, now a museum, it would have taken the Nazis 15 years to burn the corpses of 6 million people.
Hugo Chavez threatens to cut off oil supplies to U.S.: "The US government should know that if they cross the line they will not have any Venezuelan oil," Chavez said at a public event on Friday. "I have started taking measures in that respect, I'm not going to say what." Venezuela, the world's fifth-biggest oil exporter, supplies about 15% of US energy imports.
Speaking to government supporters at the presidential palace, Chavez said "many countries ask us for more oil and we have had to tell many countries we can't send them more" because Venezuela - the world's fifth largest oil exporter - ships 1.5 million barrels of oil a day to the United States.
Nigeria oil 'total war' warning: A Nigerian militant commander in the oil-rich southern Niger Delta has told the BBC his group is declaring "total war" on all foreign oil interests.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has given oil companies and their employees until midnight on Friday night to leave the region. It recently blew up two oil pipelines, held four foreign oil workers hostage and sabotaged two major oilfields. The group wants greater control of the oil wealth produced on their land.
[Update] Nigeria: Militants who kidnapped nine foreign oil workers in a flurry of attacks that forced a 20 percent cut in Nigerian crude exports vowed Sunday to escalate the violence, threatening for the first time to fire rockets at international oil tankers.
While the military said tankers in Nigerian waters were safe, the West African nation is reeling from militant attacks that blasted oil and gas pipelines Saturday, damaged a key oil loading terminal and halted the flow of more than 500,000 barrels a day.
Nigeria is Africa's leading oil exporter and the United States' fifth-largest supplier, usually exporting 2.5 million barrels daily.
The military said it would do whatever was necessary to ensure the safety of tankers.
Violence and sabotage of the delta's oil operations have been common for 15 years amid demands by the region's impoverished communities for a greater share of oil revenue flowing from their land.
Kidnappings are also a common occurrence in the volatile area. Most hostages are released unharmed. Last month, militants held four foreigners for 19 days before releasing them unscathed.
Dozens of militants seized nine foreigners Saturday in an assault in the swampy Forcados estuary after storming a barge belonging to the Houston-based oil services company Willbros, which was laying pipeline for Royal Dutch Shell.
The hostages included three Americans, two Egyptians, two Thais, a Briton and a Filipino, militants and Willbros officials said.
The new Warsaw Ghetto: Ehud Olmert, acting like Governor-General Hans Frank, has decided to turn the Gaza Strip into the Warsaw Ghetto. Frank was of course Governor-General of occupied Poland and Olmert is the acting PM of Israel, also known as occupied Palestine (ministerial powers were transferred to Olmert after the war criminal Ariel Sharon suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke). Frank was prosecuted during the Nuremberg trials and sent to the gallows. Olmert will never face trial for killing Palestinians and will likely go on to become a big cheese in the “centrist” Kadima party.
“Israeli officials on Friday discussed virtually sealing off the Gaza Strip, banning the entry of Palestinian day workers and freezing money due to the Palestinian Authority once a Hamas-dominated parliament is sworn in on Saturday,” reports the Financial Times. In other words, since “democracy” didn’t turn out the way the Israelis wanted, they will now wall up the Palestinians much the same way the Nazis in Poland “sealed off” the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto.
Obviously, not allowing Palestinians to work or receive money will result not only in massive misery and privation but ultimately starvation as well. But then, as the Jabotinsky Likudite and former Irgun terrorist, Menachem Begin, once quipped, Palestinians are beasts walking on two legs, so really their largely ignored abuse and even murder is no big deal. Ehud Olmert, a former member of the Beitar Youth Organization and a staunch Jabotinsky Likudite, is one of many of Begin’s successors, and thus determined to victimize the Palestinians relentlessly.
A Natural History of Peace (excerpt): In the early 1980s, "Forest Troop," a group of savanna baboons I had been studying -- virtually living with -- for years, was going about its business in a national park in Kenya when a neighboring baboon group had a stroke of luck: its territory encompassed a tourist lodge that expanded its operations and consequently the amount of food tossed into its garbage dump. Baboons are omnivorous, and "Garbage Dump Troop" was delighted to feast on leftover drumsticks, half-eaten hamburgers, remnants of chocolate cake, and anything else that wound up there. Soon they had shifted to sleeping in the trees immediately above the pit, descending each morning just in time for the day's dumping of garbage. (They soon got quite obese from the rich diet and lack of exercise, but that is another story.)
The development produced nearly as dramatic a shift in the social behavior of Forest Troop. Each morning, approximately half of its adult males would infiltrate Garbage Dump Troop's territory, descending on the pit in time for the day's dumping and battling the resident males for access to the garbage. The Forest Troop males that did this shared two traits: they were particularly combative (which was necessary to get the food away from the other baboons), and they were not very interested in socializing (the raids took place early in the morning, during the hours when the bulk of a savanna baboon's daily communal grooming occurs).
Soon afterward, tuberculosis, a disease that moves with devastating speed and severity in nonhuman primates, broke out in Garbage Dump Troop. Over the next year, most of its members died, as did all of the males from Forest Troop who had foraged at the dump.[See Footnote #1] The results were that Forest Troop was left with males who were less aggressive and more social than average and the troop now had double its previous female-to-male ratio.
The social consequences of these changes were dramatic. There remained a hierarchy among the Forest Troop males, but it was far looser than before: compared with other, more typical savanna baboon groups, high-ranking males rarely harassed subordinates and occasionally even relinquished contested resources to them. Aggression was less frequent, particularly against third parties. And rates of affiliative behaviors, such as males and females grooming each other or sitting together, soared. There were even instances, now and then, of adult males grooming each other -- a behavior nearly as unprecedented as baboons sprouting wings.
This unique social milieu did not arise merely as a function of the skewed sex ratio; other primatologists have occasionally reported on troops with similar ratios but without a comparable social atmosphere. What was key was not just the predominance of females, but the type of male that remained. The demographic disaster -- what evolutionary biologists term a "selective bottleneck" -- had produced a savanna baboon troop quite different from what most experts would have anticipated.
But the largest surprise did not come until some years later. Female savanna baboons spend their lives in the troop into which they are born, whereas males leave their birth troop around puberty; a troop's adult males have thus all grown up elsewhere and immigrated as adolescents. By the early 1990s, none of the original low aggression/high affiliation males of Forest Troop's tuberculosis period was still alive; all of the group's adult males had joined after the epidemic. Despite this, the troop's unique social milieu persisted -- as it does to this day, some 20 years after the selective bottleneck. In other words, adolescent males that enter Forest Troop after having grown up elsewhere wind up adopting the unique behavioral style of the resident males. As defined by both anthropologists and animal behaviorists, "culture" consists of local behavioral variations, occurring for nongenetic and nonecological reasons, that last beyond the time of their originators. Forest Troop's low aggression/high affiliation society constitutes nothing less than a multigenerational benign culture.
Are there any lessons to be learned here that can be applied to human-on-human violence -- apart, that is, from the possible desirability of giving fatal cases of tuberculosis to aggressive people?
Quote of the day: “The terrorist is the one with the small bomb.” — Brendan Behan