Saturday, February 04, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2006 Photo: Friends and family members view bodies recovered from being dumped in a drain ditch, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006, at a local morgue in Baghdad, Iraq. The bullet-riddled bodies of 14 Sunni Arab men purportedly seized by police a week ago were found dumped in Baghdad in what appeared to be the latest bout of Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence in the capital, a top Sunni group said Saturday. (AP Photo/Mohammed Hato) Bring ‘em on: Bullet-riddled bodies of 14 Sunni Arab men found in Baghdad. They were reportedly seized by Shi’ite-led forces last week. Bring ‘em on: U.S. troops also found a large weapons cache west of Fallujah, the 11th such discovery in 13 days, the military said Saturday. Update: Another report says 24 Sunni bodies were found in Baghdad on Friday Bring ‘em on: Five policemen wounded by IED in the city of Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Gunman fires into a crowd killing three in Nassiriya. The gunman was later arrested. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi and US soldiers killed four insurgents while on a patrol along the Euphrates river south of Hit. One of the insurgents was reportedly wearing a suicide vest. Bring ‘em on: US soldier dies in HMMVVV roll over. Bring ‘em on: Three civilians were killed and eight wounded by a car bomb on Saturday in Mosul. The car bomb was targeting an Iraqi and US military patrol. One suspect was arrested. Bring ‘em on: US and Iraqi forces have arrested a number of suspects believed to have set pipelines on fire a couple of days ago. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi police arrest ten militants following a clash in south Baghdad. Five gunman were killed in the clash and huge quantities of ammunition seized. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi army arrest five gunmen and defuse four IEDs in Latifiya. Bring ‘em on: Prisoner shot dead and two wounded during a jail break in Tikrit. Bring ‘em on: Civilian killed and two wounded by IED outside Baghdad that was targeting a US patrol. Another IED in Baghdad wounded two policemen. Bring ‘em on: Three bodies found near water purification plant in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: A body of a former member of Saddam’s disbanded Baath party found in Mosul. REPORTS Sunni Chiefs Condemn Killings of 14 Iraqis Council head Khalaf al-Ilyan accused Shiite-led Interior Ministry forces of raiding the mosque, arresting a group of worshippers and taking them to an unknown location and killing them. "The government is pushing hard toward a civil war," al-Ilyan told reporters. "These actions are conducted by government, which cannot protect their people." Another prominent Sunni Arab leader, Dr. Salman al-Jumaili, threatened to carry through on a warning made Wednesday by his party's leader to instigate wide-scale "civil disobedience" if attacks against Sunni Arabs continue. "There is an escalation in organized assassinations by parties belonging to government security forces," said al-Jumaili, a senior member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, one of two Sunni parties comprising the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in the new parliament. "There is an organized and well-trained force at the Interior Ministry conducting this sectarian cleansing against us." US Realignment with Sunnis is Far Advanced Two major revelations this past week show how far the George W. Bush administration has already shifted its policy toward realignment with Sunni forces to balance the influence of pro-Iranian Shiites in Iraq. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad revealed in an interview with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius that he has put the future of military assistance to a Shiite-dominated government on the table in the high-stakes U.S. effort to force Shiite party leaders to give up control over key security ministries. Khalilzad told Ignatius that, unless the "security ministries" in the new Iraqi government are allocated to candidates who are "not regarded as sectarian", the United States would be forced to reevaluate its assistance to the government. "We are saying, if you choose the wrong candidates, that will affect U.S. aid," Khalilzad said. Khalilzad had previously demanded that the Interior Ministry be given to a non-sectarian candidate, but he had not backed up those demands with the threat of withdrawal of assistance. He has also explicitly added the Defence Ministry to that demand for the first time. Sunni political party leaders also see U.S. policy as supporting the Sunnis in order to limit the power of the Shiites. The Iraqi Islamic Party's Naseer al-Any told the Christian Science Monitor, "We are convinced that we are in a powerful position now. There is a change in the way the Americans deal with us..." Sunnis Offer Peace Deal Iraq's Sunni leadership presented the majority-Shi'ite government yesterday with a 10-point ultimatum that they said would either end the violence or lead to a national strike and widespread street demonstrations. It was the first time the Sunni minority has publicly offered conditions to end a bloody insurgency that has left thousands of Iraqis dead. However, it was not clear how much control the political parties have over the insurgents, who include foreign terrorists and disgruntled former members of dictator Saddam Hussein's military. At the top of the list of demands was the resignation of the interior minister and his entire staff -- who are seen as leading a brutal anti-Sunni campaign through Iranian-trained Badr militias and a pro-Shi'ite police force. Finally, the Sunni leader said Iraqi television stations should stop inciting hatred against the Sunni minority in the country. If the conditions were met, Sunni leaders will call on their people to stop "the bleeding of Iraqis" by ending attacks on Iraqi government, police and military targets, said Mr. al-Hashimi. He did not mention U.S. or coalition targets. Supply Chain is Ongoing Problem for Iraqi Military “The biggest weakness that the Iraqi army has right now is logistics — where to get the stuff, how to get it. They just don't have it yet,” said Marine Maj. Ted Wong of San Francisco, who helps train Iraqi soldiers in this sector 50 miles from Baghdad. For example, the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Iraqi Division recently took over security responsibilities from American forces in most of this Sunni Arab city in volatile Anbar province. But most of the supplies still come from a nearby American base — delivered by American convoys. Trucks that ferry Iraqi soldiers refuel at the U.S. base. Food for the Iraqi soldiers is provided by Western contractors — whose local offices are protected within the American compound. Ammunition for the Iraqis comes from U.S. stocks, said Marine Col. Daniel Newell, who heads a team of advisers working with Iraqi soldiers. US Trainer Says Iraq Police Helping Secure Country Iraq's police commandos are becoming a major spearhead of security in the country but must learn to temper battlefield aggression with democratic values, a U.S. military trainer said on Friday. Army Col. Jeffrey Buchanan told Pentagon reporters in a teleconference from Iraq that the new National Police Commando Division was making progress in fair treatment of civilians under the close watch of U.S. and other coalition troops. Unlike local police, the commandos are recruited at a national level and most have served in the security forces of former President Saddam Hussein's government. Despite incidents of sectarian violence by Iraqi security forces and reported torture of Sunni Muslims in secret Iraqi jails, Buchanan said, "We think we're making great progress in the behavioral dimension." (What a fool believes, he sees. – Susan) But "values -- understanding what it's like to be a servant of society as part of a democratically elected government -- is something that is going to take time to learn," he said. "They recruit only through word of mouth. We don't have recruiting centers set up in a mall or something like that. Basically, every guy that comes in is known to some of his fellow comrades, which is a way of cutting down potential infiltration." Buchanan cited only two incidents of successful infiltration by insurgents in the past year. One of those resulted in a suicide bombing that killed five Iraqi police and injured more than a dozen other. "Obviously, these guys, one of their strengths is that they are aggressive," Buchanan said of the police infantry troops, hundreds of whom guard the once-deadly but now-secure road between downtown Baghdad and the Iraqi capital's airport. "What we try to do is ensure that their aggressiveness does not go over the top and that they operate in accordance with Iraqi law." Buchanan said at one point he personally had to step in and halt police aggression against a captured Iraqi insurgent. US Military Releases Partial Iraqi Civilian Casualty Numbers Since June 2004 in Iraq, there have been an average of about 500 attacks per week on U.S. soldiers, Iraqi security forces, and Iraqi civilians. Major General Rick Lynch says it is the civilians who are bearing the brunt. "The predominant number of casualties are in the Iraqi civilian population," he explained. "If you work the numbers, you realize that 50 percent of casualties in that reporting period, are Iraqi civilians, innocent Iraqi civilians, men women and children." General Lynch on Thursday said that, since January 2004, 11,000 people were killed or wounded on 107 particularly deadly days. Iraqi Militants Active in Afghanistan Several Al Qaeda militants are coming from Iraq to take part in the insurgency in Afghanistan; a provincial governor said on Thursday after interrogating an Iraqi caught sneaking into the country illegally. The warning came amid an upsurge in suicide attacks, with the latest involving a bomber dressed as a woman who killed five Afghans at an army checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan. More militants were expected to be trying to enter the country, said Ghulam Dusthaqir Azad, the governor of the south-western province of Nimroz. He made the comment after interrogating an alleged Iraqi member of Al Qaeda caught while sneaking into the country. “There is a big group coming from Iraq,” Azad said in a satellite telephone interview with the Associated Press. “They’re linked to Al Qaeda and have fought against US forces in Iraq. They have been ordered to come here. Many are suicide attackers.” He’s clueless, and therefore very dangerous: Rumsfeld claims Iraq war did not create wave of terrorism. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Saturday terrorists had made Iraq the "central front" in their fight against the West but denied the U.S. invasion of the country had been a catalyst for terrorism. "Iraq is the central front of the current war. And they have announced it. The terrorists have announced it," Rumsfeld told an annual security conference in Munich. Eventually "they will move it elsewhere", he added. Rumsfeld said radical Islamic terrorists were using Iraq as a training and recruiting ground, in the same way as they operated in Afghanistan when the Taliban were in charge. But he vehemently rejected any suggestion that Iraq had been a catalyst for a global wave of terrorist acts. "Any argument that Iraq might have been a trigger is inconsistent with the facts," he said. Bungled Peace-Building Opens Door to Terrorism Washington's attempts to bring security to Iraq and Afghanistan are not only making life harder for local people, they are breeding more terrorists, warn international security experts. Under its anti-terrorism agenda, the U.S. has centralised power and security in post-conflict Iraq and Afghanistan, which ironically creates perfect conditions for terrorists and criminals. "There is a great fear that unstable states and post-war societies provide an ideal breeding ground for terrorist training and activity," said Albrecht Schnabel, a senior fellow with the Research Programme on Human Security in Bern, Switzerland. "Yet almost three years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iraq is characterised by chaos, violence and disintegration. The methods used to rebuild Iraq's security sector are simply making matters worse," he told IPS. A U.N.-led effort early on in Iraq might have made a big difference, he said. Security and peace-building efforts would have had more legitimacy and civil society would have played a much larger role. "It would have been better and safer for the Iraqi people," Schnabel said. "The U.S. effort may have been well-intended, but the U.N. can do a lot more to bring real democracy to a region." What is clear from Iraq is that armed interventions are extremely costly, said Carment. It is much cheaper to prevent conflicts or collapse of countries in the first place. (This article has a terrible title, since what is going on in Iraq does not qualify as “peace-building” at all. See article below. – Susan) Blair-Bush Deal Before Iraq War Revealed in Secret Memo Tony Blair told President George Bush that he was "solidly" behind US plans to invade Iraq before he sought advice about the invasion's legality and despite the absence of a second UN resolution, according to a new account of the build-up to the war published today. A memo of a two-hour meeting between the two leaders at the White House on January 31 2003 - nearly two months before the invasion - reveals that Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme. "The diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning", the president told Mr Blair. The prime minister is said to have raised no objection. He is quoted as saying he was "solidly with the president and ready to do whatever it took to disarm Saddam". The disclosures come in a new edition of Lawless World, by Phillipe Sands, a QC and professor of international law at University College, London. Professor Sands last year exposed the doubts shared by Foreign Office lawyers about the legality of the invasion in disclosures which eventually forced the prime minister to publish the full legal advice given to him by the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith. The memo seen by Prof Sands reveals: · Mr Bush told Mr Blair that the US was so worried about the failure to find hard evidence against Saddam that it thought of "flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft planes with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours". Mr Bush added: "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach [of UN resolutions]". · Mr Bush even expressed the hope that a defector would be extracted from Iraq and give a "public presentation about Saddam's WMD". He is also said to have referred Mr Blair to a "small possibility" that Saddam would be "assassinated". · Mr Blair told the US president that a second UN resolution would be an "insurance policy", providing "international cover, including with the Arabs" if anything went wrong with the military campaign, or if Saddam increased the stakes by burning oil wells, killing children, or fomenting internal divisions within Iraq. (No evidence of seeking peace in Iraq here. – Susan) CIA Expands Use of Drones in Terror War Despite protests from other countries, the United States is expanding a top-secret effort to kill suspected terrorists with drone-fired missiles as it pursues an increasingly decentralized Al Qaeda, U.S. officials say. The CIA's failed Jan. 13 attempt to assassinate Al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman Zawahiri in Pakistan was the latest strike in the "targeted killing" program, a highly classified initiative that officials say has broadened as the network splintered and fled Afghanistan. Little is known about the targeted-killing program. The Bush administration has refused to discuss how many strikes it has made, how many people have died, or how it chooses targets. No U.S. officials were willing to speak about it on the record because the program is classified.Several U.S. officials confirmed at least 19 occasions since Sept. 11 on which Predators successfully fired Hellfire missiles on terrorist suspects overseas, including 10 in Iraq in one month last year. The Predator strikes have killed at least four senior Al Qaeda leaders, but also many civilians, and it is not known how many times they missed their targets. Critics of the program dispute its legality under U.S. and international law, and say it is administered by the CIA with little oversight. U.S. intelligence officials insist it is one of their most tightly regulated, carefully vetted programs. Lee Strickland, a former CIA counsel who retired in 2004 from the agency's Senior Intelligence Service, confirmed that the Predator program had grown to keep pace with the spread of Al Qaeda commanders. The CIA believes they are branching out to gain recruits, financing and influence.Many groups of Islamic militants are believed to be operating in lawless pockets of the Middle East, Asia and Africa where it is perilous for U.S. troops to try to capture them, and difficult to discern the leaders. "Paradoxically, as a result of our success the target has become even more decentralized, even more diffused and presents a more difficult target — no question about that," said Strickland, now director of the Center for Information Policy at the University of Maryland. The drones were designed for surveillance and have been used for that purpose since at least the mid-1990s, beginning with the conflict in the Balkans. After the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush ordered a rapid escalation of a project to arm the Predators with missiles, an effort that had been mired in bureaucratic squabbles and technical glitches. Now the Predator is an integral part of the military's counter-insurgency effort, especially in Iraq. But the CIA also runs a more secretive — and more controversial — Predator program that targets suspected terrorists outside combat zones.The CIA does not even acknowledge that such a targeted-killing program exists, and some attacks have been explained away as car bombings or other incidents. It is not known how many militants or bystanders have been killed by Predator strikes, but anecdotal evidence suggests the number is significant. Revealed: UK’s role in deadly CIA drone A British technology company and a secretive airforce base in Cambridgeshire are playing a key role in the CIA's use of robot Predator planes, deployed to assassinate suspected terrorists overseas,The Observer can reveal. A missile fired from a Predator killed more than 20 innocent people in Pakistan earlier this month in a botched US bid to kill Ayman al Zawahiri, the deputy leader of al-Qaeda, and similar attacks have been made in Iraq, Yemen and on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The attacks have been condemned by humanitarian organisations, which argue that extra-judicial killings break international law and have led to the deaths of innocent civilians. The revelation that Britain is involved in the Predator programme is likely to prove controversial. Amnesty International and the Liberal Democrats said they would press the government to uncover the truth about the UK's role in the programme and whether or not British firms should be allowed to supply components for the weapon. 'These kinds of targeted attacks - with air-to-surface missiles taking the place of judicial process - appear to be in breach of international law,' said Amnesty International's UK campaigns director, Stephen Bowen. 'That up to 22 civilians were also killed in a recent attack makes it all the more worrying. Cost of Wars Soars to $440 Billion for USA · 20% increase in spending despite cut in troop levels · Outlay will soon equal 13-year fight in Vietnam The Bush administration has said it is planning to spend $120bn (£68bn) on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars this year, bringing their total cost so far to $440bn. The spending request, which will soon be presented to Congress, marks a 20% increase over last year, despite plans to draw down US troop levels in both war zones in the coming months. The administration also plans to ask for a down payment of $50bn on war costs next year. The requests are expected to pass easily. The spending on the Iraq conflict alone is now approaching the cost of the Korean war, about $330bn in today's dollars. Meanwhile the cost of the overall "war on terror" - relabeled The Long War in the Pentagon - is already close to half a trillion dollars, and will soon equal that of the 13-year Vietnam war. "There is some reason to be surprised that it's this much," said Steven Kosiak, a military spending analyst at the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. "The Congressional Budget Office had estimated the defence department would need $85bn and that was with no draw down in troops." A White House budget official, Joel Kaplan, said that some of the extra spending would go towards keeping military equipment going in the desert, to accelerate training of Iraqi forces, and to give US troops better protection against roadside bombs. The budget request did not include reconstruction spending. The budget will be delivered to Congress at the same time as the Quadrennial Defence Review, in which the Pentagon lays out its longer-term strategy. The review envisages the development of more mobile, specialised forces in smaller units. There will be a 15% increase in special operations forces, and a new air force drone squadron. Nearly 4,000 more troops will be assigned to psychological operations and civil affairs units. PA Hospital Offers Treatment to Iraqi Children A pair of Iraqi children with heart defects were slated to arrive Sunday for treatment at a local hospital, a trip arranged by an Army reservist who served two years in the youngsters' war-torn homeland. Army Reserve Capt. Caroline Pogge was scheduled to meet Mustafa Manthar Bender, 7, and Kadija Abod Jabar, 5, and their fathers at John F. Kennedy airport in New York before returning with them to Danville. The children both have holes in their hearts that create a condition where they do not get enough oxygen to their muscles and organs. Pogge arranged the trip almost as an extension of her duties in Iraq, where her unit rebuilt infrastructure and kept hospitals and clinics up and running. It also helped Iraqis with serious medical problems get treatment at hospitals in Europe and the United States because of the compromised quality and availability of care in their own country. Pogge said arranging for children to get medical treatment outside Iraq is difficult and could be dangerous for the families involved. The parents need to work with U.S. soldiers and civilians to go for testing and arrange for visas and medical clearances to travel out of the country. In some areas, Iraqis are still hostile to Americans and to any Iraqi they believe is working with them, Pogge said. Three of the six Iraqi translators she worked with there were killed. The Scranton Rotary put up half of the $5,000 needed to cover airfare and any accommodations needed in Jordan, she said. SADDAM’S TRIAL Questions, Answers on Iraq tribunal, Saddam trial WHO'S TRYING SADDAM? Saddam and his co-defendants are being tried before what was originally called the Iraqi Special Tribunal, established in December 2003 by U.S.-led occupation authorities. New statutes making it a body established by Iraq's elected interim National Assembly and changing its name to the Iraqi High Tribunal came into force in October. The tribunal consists of two trial chambers with five judges in each. WHO BROUGHT THE CHARGES? The tribunal has 20 investigative judges, led by a chief investigator, who are responsible for gathering evidence against suspects. Once an investigator has gathered evidence, including depositions from witnesses, he presents his case to the chief investigator. If he gives the go-ahead, the case file is presented to the trial judges who decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed. In Saddam's case, the evidence about the killing of more than 140 Shi'ite Muslim men from Dujail village, north of Baghdad, after a 1982 attempt on the former president's life, was gathered by chief investigative judge Raad Jouhi. The case against Saddam and the others was presented in court by the chief prosecutor, whose team of prosecutors argue cases in court based on the evidence gathered by investigators. Criminal Cases Saddam Hussein Could Face Dec 20 (Reuters) - The trial of Saddam Hussein and his seven co-defendants resumes in Baghdad on Wednesday. The defendants are charged with crimes against humanity in connection with scores of deaths in a town north of Baghdad after an attempt on Saddam's life in 1982. Following are the criminal cases investigative judges are pursuing and for which Saddam could ultimately be tried: DUJAIL MASSACRE Saddam and seven others, including his half-brother, are charged with ordering and overseeing the killing of 148 Shi'ite men from the town of Dujail after an attack on the presidential motorcade as it passed through the village, 60 km (35 miles) north of Baghdad, in July 1982. T he retribution is alleged to have included jailing hundreds of women and children from the town for years in desert internment camps and destroying the date palm groves that sustained the local economy. INVASION OF KUWAIT Saddam is accused of violating international law by ordering the invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. A U.S.-led coalition demanded Iraq's withdrawal and went to war on Jan. 17, 1991, after Saddam refused to comply with U.N. resolutions. The Gulf War ended on Feb. 28 after Iraq's expulsion from the emirate. During the occupation Iraqi soldiers are alleged to have tortured and summarily executed prisoners, looted Kuwait City and taken hundreds of Kuwaiti captives back to Baghdad. Iraqi soldiers also set more than 700 oil wells ablaze and opened pipelines to let oil pour into the Gulf and other water sources. POLITICAL REPRESSION Saddam is accused of brutally suppressing uprisings by majority Shi'ites in southern Iraq and ethnic Kurds in the north. Scores of mass graves south of Baghdad are said to contain the bodies of Shi'ites. Hundreds of thousands of Kurds fled to Iran and Turkey. There are Kurdish mass graves in the north and in deserted areas of the south. MARSH ARABS The Iraqi army, under Saddam's orders, is alleged to have systematically destroyed the livelihood of Iraq's Marsh Arab people, who have inhabited southeastern marshlands at the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers for nearly 5,000 years. Saddam accused the Marsh Arabs of desertion and fighting against his forces during the 1980-88 war with Iran, of harbouring criminals and dissenters, and of joining the Shi'ite uprising in 1991. Saddam targeted the Marsh Arabs early in his rule when he ordered their habitat to be drained. KURDISH GENOCIDE AND ETHNIC CLEANSING Iraqi government forces launched a drive in 1987 and 1988 to reassert government control over Kurdish areas in the north. The campaign, dubbed "Anfal" or "Spoils of War", saw entire villages flattened, farming destroyed and inhabitants forcibly removed. Kurdish authorities say hundreds of thousands of Kurds were displaced and tens of thousands killed. A mustard and nerve gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja killed as many as 5,000 people in March, 1988. Saddam's cousin, General Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as "Chemical Ali", is accused of carrying out the worst of the atrocities. He has said the crackdown was to punish Halabja for its failure to resist Iranian incursions during the Iran-Iraq war. POLITICAL KILLINGS Saddam and his security forces have been accused of numerous politically motivated killings and other human rights abuses, including the execution of five Shi'ite religious leaders in 1974, the murder of thousands of members of the Kurdish Barzani clan in 1983 and the assassinations of political activists. Halabja Watches Hussein’s Trial and Waits for It’s Day in Court "I was only a child, but I have flashes of memory," Qadir said, telling how he fled with his family, trying to outrun the mixture of mustard gas, poison and nerve agents that blew with the winds down the very street where he now stood. "We were crawling over barbed wire, and the dead and dying were tangled in it. Some of them were so weak they couldn't free themselves. We were crawling over them." With the trial of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and seven others over killings in the town of Dujail once again stalled, survivors of the Halabja chemical bombings -- one of the darkest examples of persecution of Iraqi's ethnic Kurds under Hussein -- are grasping for their own sense of justice. "If he will be tried and executed just for Dujail, I am sure it is not a just court," said Nariman Ali, 26, who works as a tour guide at the Halabja Memorial Museum, a monument to the victims of the chemical attacks. Co-Defendants in Trial of Saddam Hussein SADDAM HUSSEIN Aged 68. Strongman after the 1968 Baath party coup, he formally took over the presidency in 1979, ruling with absolute authority and often brutal force. A U.S. ally when he fought Islamic revolutionary Iran for eight years during the 1980s, Saddam became a U.S. enemy after invading Kuwait in 1990. After U.S.-led forces expelled Iraqi troops from Kuwait, Iraq was placed under international sanctions. Saddam went on the run after U.S. and British forces invaded Iraq in March 2003. He was captured near his hometown Tikrit on Dec. 13, 2003. TAHA YASSIN RAMADAN Born 1938. Vice president until 2003, Ramadan joined the Baath party in the mid-1950s and later became a hardline member of Saddam's inner circle. He held several senior positions, including industry minister in the 1970s. He was once reported to have said: "I don't know anything about industry. All I know is that anyone who doesn't work hard will be executed." Iraqi exiles accused him and other officials of brutally stamping out a Shi'ite Muslim uprising in the south in 1991 and killing thousands of Kurds in the north in 1988. No. 20 on the U.S. military's list of the 55 most wanted Iraqis when they invaded, Ramadan was captured by Kurdish guerrillas in the northern city of Mosul in August, 2003. BARZAN IBRAHIM AL-TIKRITI One of Saddam's three younger half-brothers. Former head of feared Mukhabarat intelligence service and adviser to Saddam. No. 38 on the most-wanted list, Barzan was captured in April 2003. As intelligence chief, he was accused of ordering mass murder and torture, and of personally taking part in human rights abuses, including the destruction of villages. Iraq's government has said it will consider his appeal last month for better access to medical treatment for cancer. It will not free him, however. Gunmen killed a lawyer working for Barzan and Ramadan in Baghdad in November, and wounded a colleague. AWAD HAMED AL-BANDER Former chief judge in Saddam's Revolutionary Court, which is accused of organising show trials that often led to summary death sentences. Bander was the judge in charge of trying many of more than 140 Shi'ite men accused of trying to assassinate Saddam as his motorcade drove through the village of Dujail in July 1982. Some were killed in fighting. Bander sentenced many others to be executed. Bander's defence lawyer was abducted from his office and killed the day after the trial started. ABDULLAH KADHEM RUAID Local Baath party official in the Dujail area. ALI DAEEM ALI Local Baath party official in the Dujail area. MOHAMMED AZAWI ALI Local Baath party official in the Dujail area. MIZHER ABDULLAH RAWED Local Baath party official in the Dujail area. Barzan Oversaw Stripping of Women: Witnesses Witnesses in the trial of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and top aides yesterday singled out his half-brother for chilling testimony on the former regime’s torture tactics. Two female witnesses, at a hearing from which key defendants stayed away, recounted in harrowing detail not only their arrests but the lengthy torture sessions they said they endured under the supervision of Barzan Al Tikriti. “Barzan personally supervised my stripping and then kicked me three times in my naked chest,” she said. “I still feel the pain and for many years I was unable to breathe.” Following an assassination attempt against Saddam in 1982 during a visit to the predominantly Shi’ite village of Dujail, hundreds of villagers were rounded up and interrogated — many on suspicion of belonging to the Shiite Dawa party. The witness related how she was kept in the intelligence headquarters in Baghdad and tortured for months, at a time when Barzan was head of the feared Iraqi intelligence service. “Every day it was a nightmare. The guards would come and strip me and then beat me and give me electric shocks — they even hung me from the ceiling many times,” she said. In the course of the trial, a number of other witnesses described Barzan being present at the torture sessions and in one case, even calmly eating grapes. Trial Continues Without Saddam Present The first of Thursday's witnesses said he was 12 when he was arrested in Dujail, then tortured by interrogators who strung him by the hands and gave him electric shocks. He told the court his sister was stripped naked and beaten in front of him. "People returning (to their cells) from torture sessions could not walk for days. We had to carry them to the toilet," he said. He told the court his dead brother's body was lined up in a group of eight bodies in Dujail the day after the attempt on Saddam's life. He also watched his father being beaten by a man he was later told was Ibrahim. The second witness said Ibrahim tortured him after his arrest in the Dujail crackdown. He said interrogators forced him to strip and hung him from his feet. They beat him with hoses and applied electric shocks to his body, including "sensitive parts." At one point, Ibrahim entered the interrogation room with two men in civilian clothes, the witness said. The former intelligence chief asked one of the men to light a cigarette for him, and Ibrahim put it out on the witness's head while the two guards held him down, the witness said. The trial has been plagued by the assassination of two defense attorneys, delays, arguments, insults and outbursts by Saddam and Ibrahim. Abdel-Rahman was brought in after his predecessor resigned amid criticism he was not controlling the proceedings. The defense boycott has raised serious concerns about a trial that American and Iraqi officials hoped would help Iraqis move beyond the ethnic and religious divisions of the Saddam era. Trial Proceeds Briskly Without Saddam The chief judge in the trial of Saddam Hussein pushed ahead with the case yesterday, despite the former Iraqi leader, four other defendants and their defence team boycotting the tribunal and demanding the judge's removal. In some of the strongest testimony of the trial, in which Saddam and his seven co-defendants are on trial for the killing of more than 140 Shias after a 1982 attempt on the former ruler's life, a female prosecution witness told the court that she was stripped naked in prison, hung by her hands, beaten and given electric shocks. During her interrogation, Barzan Ibrahim - Saddam's half brother and former head of the Mukhabarat intelligence agency - told the guards to hang her by her feet, then kicked her three times in the chest, she said. "I told him [Ibrahim], 'for God's sake, I'm a woman. I have nothing to confess, why are you doing this to me?'," she said, weeping. She was one of five witnesses to testify yesterday. All did so from behind a beige curtain to protect their identities. Chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman, who took over last week, pressed ahead with the proceedings yesterday at a rapid pace, taking advantage of the calm in a courtroom that has been plagued by shouting matches, scuffles, abuse and protests since the trial began on October 19. The judge appointed a new defence team, and the three defendants who accepted the lawyers sat quietly for most of the proceedings, surrounded by empty chairs left by Saddam and the others. (My own small analysis of why this trial is a circus is here. – Susan) Little Links Saddam to Bloody 1982 Crackdown After four months and 26 witnesses, prosecutors in the Saddam Hussein trial have offered little credible testimony directly linking the former leader to the killings and torture for which he's charged. But legal experts familiar with the case say the best may be yet to come — documents allegedly tying Saddam to the crackdown that followed an assassination attempt against him 23 years ago in Dujail, a mainly Shiite town north of Baghdad. Without compelling evidence, a guilty verdict against Saddam may not provide closure for victims of Saddam's atrocities. But the experts caution that the documents — which include hand written notes, interrogation orders and death sentences handed down by the Revolutionary Court — may not alone be enough to win a conviction. What is needed, they said, is to establish a clear chain of command that would show Saddam would have known what happened to the more than 140 Shiites killed and the others tortured after the 1982 attempt on the former ruler's life in Dujail, north of Baghdad. COMMENTARY Circus of a Trial THE controversial trial of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein resumed this week minus its ‘star’ defendant, co-defendants and their team of defence lawyers. Earlier in the week, Saddam walked out in protest against the way the trial is being conducted under the new chief judge. Clearly, the new chief judge, Rauf Rashid Abd al-Rahman, is out of the line. His angry outburst against Saddam and his co-defendants on the first day of the trial on Sunday and his subsequent demand of an apology from the defence team were completely unreasonable and reeked of unabashed partiality. The hearing on Sunday turned into a shouting match between the judge and defendants. Without doubt, in such a vitiated atmosphere, a free and fair trial is not possible. The trial has already come under fire from human rights groups and non-partisan individuals who have questioned its fairness. There is no doubt that the new chief judge, who has taken over from the former Kurdish chief judge, Rizkar Mohammed Amin, is weighed down by his own ideological and political baggage. Although the former judge Amin was himself a Kurd and must have been a witness to the suffering of his own people, he rose above narrow sectarian affiliations to meet the higher demands of justice and a free and fair trial. And he chose to step down when he came under pressure from the Iraqi authorities rather than compromise on the highest principles of justice and fair play. It’s unfortunate therefore that his successor and the present chief judge, Abd al-Rahman, should be so overwhelmed by his partisan agenda. If Abd al-Rahman’s people too had suffered under Saddam, he may have an axe to grind. But he is not here to settle his own personal scores. He is sitting in judgment on Saddam and his corrupt cronies on behalf of Iraqi people and he should have tried his utmost to come up to the standards of objectivity and justice. This trial could have been an opportunity to show the former Iraq strongman and the members of his inner circle what real justice means and how a fair trial is conducted. Use of force and threats are hardly the best means to dispense justice. In fact, the way it is being conducted now, this circus of a trial is only going in favour of Saddam and his corrupt lot. Most victims and witnesses to the regime’s crimes against humanity are dead. Those who have managed to survive were too young at the time — not more than five or 10-year-old — to recollect the terrible atrocities of the ruthless regime. The best way to conduct this trial is to shift it out of Iraq — to a neutral country where the prosecution, defence and judges, of course, are free from unhealthy pulls and pressures of the past and present. This may be only way to a free and fair trial. OPINION: Astounding Hypocrisy Few in the Middle East will have heard George W. Bush’s State of the Union address without feeling exasperation and anger that this belligerent president appears to have no idea of how US policy in the region is riddled with double standards. It is now clear that this astonishingly ill-informed administration had not the slightest inkling that Hamas would win the Palestinian elections — let alone win so decisively. Coming as it did on the eve of his big set piece speech to the American people, the election was a problem for President Bush. Here was a free and fair democratic election, a model of the political process that he has supposedly committed himself to promoting throughout the region, and it produced winners who were not what Washington would have liked or chosen. In his address, Bush made no attempt to analyze the motives of the majority of Palestinian electors, demonstrated no insight whatsoever into their agonies and frustrations. Instead he made it clear that though they had held a free and fair election, the Palestinians had made the wrong choice and America therefore had no intention of accepting it. Yet in the very same speech, Bush trotted out his hopes for a democratic Iran and a freely elected government with whom Washington would one day be able to work. Now at least Bush’s perverse vision of the democratic process is patently clear. A democratic election must produce a government that is acceptable to the White House. Anything else will be rejected. The democratic voice of the people will be ignored unless it is singing the song that Washington wants to hear. This astounding hypocrisy undermines everything America says it is trying to achieve in the region and everything that America once stood for. OPINION: The Killing Has Got to Stop I write as a veteran who has a special love for our troops and their families, and as the father of Lt. Benjamin Colgan, who was killed in action in Baghdad on Nov. 1, 2003. I also write on behalf of those who joined me in meeting with Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell last December about this senseless war in Iraq. How many more Americans and Iraqis must perish or be maimed until the "stay-the-course" approach is discredited? It is time to acknowledge that the United States has now hit a dead-end on both the political and military fronts in Iraq, with current U.S. involvement in both areas only inflaming civil war. Last December's election in Iraq -- an event heralded as promising stability -- is itself undermined by the continuation of this occupation. The United States is caught in the middle of a sectarian divide, and it will only get worse. Over the past five months, it has been widely reported that the United States has been trying to engage the Sunnis in political dialogue. Experts say that failing to do so can only deepen the insurgency. Yet showing Sunnis diplomatic respect inspires mistrust and anger from the rival Shiites. Militarily, we've created the armed basis for a civil war. Iraqi armies in the north now consist of more than 10,000 Kurdish Peshmerga militia members who "wouldn't hesitate to kill their Iraqi army comrades," according to a Knight Ridder new story in December. In southern Iraq the army consists of pro-Iranian Shiite fundamentalists. We have created military forces that, as they increase in "operational readiness," actually add to the instability of Iraq. Yet we continue a policy that conditions U.S. military disengagement on such operational readiness. More Iraqi civilians are dying as a result of U.S. military actions. U.S. air strikes in Iraq have jumped from 25 per month last August to around 150 in December. The results of this strategy are predictable and horrifying. On Jan. 2, as many as 14 Iraqis, mostly women and children, were killed in a U.S. air strike. On Dec. 24, 2005, The Washington Post reported that U.S. air strikes killed many dozens of civilians throughout Iraq's Western Anbar province during the November offensive. In a 2005 report, Human Rights Watch deplored the U.S. strategy of resorting to indiscriminate aerial strikes resulting in civilian deaths. A "reduction" of U.S. troops during 2006, in concert with an increasing air war, is not morally defensible or a way out. The city of Fallujah represents a microcosm of the larger nightmare. We destroyed this town in order to save it. More than half its residents remain as refugees in their own country, and Americans are again dying in Fallujah at an increasing rate (12 in the past two months). The Pentagon's policy of "clear, hold and build" in reality does nothing more than "destroy, banish and build resentment." OPINION: An Iraq Combat Veteran’s Mother’s State of Our Family Address My brothers and sisters in peace I wish I could tell you that since my son has returned to civilian life our family is whole and happy but this is not the case. My 21 year old son is homeless, unemployed and on Jan. 11th in the early morning he drove his car over an embankment. Anyone who has seen the car says he shouldn't have survived the crash. I remember the day I got the phone call. My son was back in the states. I fell to the floor sobbing, thanking the creator that my son was alive. Little did I know at that time that all that returned was a physical shell. My son's spirit and soul must still be wandering the streets of Iraq. When I got into work the next day I had an emergency phone call from my sons ex girlfriend. She told me through her tears that my son had driven his car over an embankment. She saw the car she couldn't believe he survived. She had talked to some of his friends that told her he was crying that night and talking about the war. Whenever my son gets a few beers in him his friends tell me he talks about the war. They describe it as "Crazy talk". He wants the blood of the Iraqis he killed off his hands. He then left and drove his car at high speed over an embankment. I have spoken with my son twice since then. I didn't go see him at his request. The first time I spoke with him I began crying telling him how much I love him. His response "Whatever" The second conversation he said he feels better. Does he feel better because his body feels bruised and broken? It now matches his insides. George Bush is going to give us his state of the union…….well this is the state of my family. People say to me he volunteered he knew what he was getting into. My son was still a teenager he had no idea what he was getting into. Can anyone really comprehend war unless they've been there? The war has come home…it is coming home with each soldier. My son's body survived Iraq……nothing else. PEACE ACTION: From Opening of the Heart education network: We are asking people to screen “Voices in Wartime” documentary film as part of A Season for Nonviolence. Opening of the Heart education network, together with our partners -- Association for Global New Thought and the Peace Alliance -- are sponsoring a nationwide screening of the film “Voices in Wartime” between January 30 - April 4, a national 64-day educational, media, and grassroots campaign dedicated to demonstrating that nonviolence is a powerful way to heal, transform, and empower our lives and our communities. Inspired by the 50th and 30th memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this international event honors their vision for an empowered, nonviolent world. CASUALTY REPORTS Local Story: Soldier from Rochester, Michigan killed in Iraq. Local Story: Family says roadside bomb killed Lincoln soldier. Local Story: Illinois Marine dies in Iraq. Local Story: Georgia man killed in Iraq honored at funeral. Local Story: South Carolina soldier killed in Iraq. Local Story: Mayor of Lafayette (Indiana) proud of the respect and support show during funeral for soldier killed in Iraq. Local Story: Santa Rosa soldier killed in Iraq blast. Local Story: Grieving dad hits out at army over delay in Aberdeen. QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)


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