Saturday, February 11, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2006 Photo: An Iraqi child lies in a hospital after getting wounded from a car bomb attack in Doura district in Baghdad February 10, 2006. The bomb killed up to 11 people in Baghdad on Friday as election officials announced the final results of December's parliamentary elections, confirming the political dominance of the ruling Shi'ite Muslim alliance. REUTERS/Faleh Kheiber Bring ‘em on: Iraqi Army spokesman shot dead in Basra. His name was Captain Makram al-Abbasi. UPDATE TO ABOVE: Al-Abbasi, a Sunni Arab, had been coordinating media coverage of raids conducted in the city, which largely target suspected Shiite militiamen that Sunnis say have infiltrated the Iraqi police force. The most recent such operation for which al-Abbasi arranged coverage was last week when troops detained 22 people before all were mysteriously freed, al-Tamimi said. UPDATE TO YESTERDAY: Bring ‘em on: Car bomb kills 9 at a Sunni mosque in the Doura neighborhood of Baghdad on Friday. 28 reported wounded. Interior Ministry sources and police initially identified the mosque as Shi'ite but later said the bomb exploded outside a Sunni mosque with the same name in the same street. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi soldier killed and three Iraqi soldiers injured in a roadside bombing in Latifya. Bring ‘em on: Car bomb in al Suleimanya killed two civilians and injured a third. A source said the two civilians were carrying passports from a neighboring country, but did not specify which one. Bring ‘em on: Civilian Abed Awad Ibrahim killed by unknown gunman and another citizen abducted in Kirkuk. Iraqi Lieutenant Sadd Mahmoud wounded by IED blast in Hwaijah district (no city listed) that was targeting Iraqi and US forces. Bring ‘em on: US helicopter fired two rockets into insurgent hide out, killing six militants and wounding another. This attack followed clashes between US soldiers and militants near the soccer stadium in Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: Gunmen killed a policeman in Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: Gunmen killed traffic policeman Ahmed Majeed Obaid as he left his home in Doura neighborhood of Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Gunman killed police Sgt. Bassem al-Rikabi while he patrolled in the Jisr neighborhood of Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: A roadside bomb killed a civilian in Balad. Bring ‘em on: Six civilians kidnapped by gunmen near Balad. Bring ‘em on: An army officer killed by roadside bomb in Dujail. Bring ‘em on: Gunman kill two policemen in Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Jill Carroll kidnappers set deadline for February 26. The kidnappers are demanding the release of women prisoners in Iraq. REPORTS Report Says Number of Attacks by Insurgents in Iraq Increases Sweeping statistics on insurgent violence in Iraq that were declassified for a Senate hearing on Wednesday appear to portray a rebellion whose ability to mount attacks has steadily grown in the nearly three years since the invasion. The statistics were included in a report written by Joseph A. Christoff, director of international affairs and trade at the Government Accountability Office, who testified before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee during a hearing on Iraq stabilization and reconstruction. The American military declassified the statistics so he could present them to the hearing in his report, Mr. Christoff said in an interview. The figures cover attacks on American and Iraqi forces and civilians. The curve traced out by the figures between June 2003 and December 2005 shows a number of fluctuations, including several large spikes in insurgent activity — one as recently as October of last year. But while American and Iraqi officials have often pointed to the downward edges of those fluctuations as evidence that the steam was going out of the insurgency, the numbers over all seem to tell a different story, Mr. Christoff said. "It's not going down," he said. "There are peaks and valleys, but if you look at every peak, it's higher than the peak before." Officials have recently noted that the numbers of attacks in the final two months of last year dropped after an October peak, which occurred around both Ramadan and a referendum on Iraq's constitution. But Mr. Christoff's chart shows that the number of attacks in December, nearly 2,500, was almost 250 percent of the number in March 2004. Kurdish Official Dies in Car Fire in Iraq A former leading member of Turkey's Kurdish PKK guerrilla group died on Saturday when his car caught fire in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniya, police said. Kani Yilmaz and his bodyguard burned to death in a blaze which a preliminary investigation suggested was ignited by an electrical fault in the engine, Sulaimaniya security chief Sarkwat Hassan told Reuters. Hassan stressed the cause of the fire was still under investigation. The CNN Turk Web site said Yilmaz's car blew up as it left a petrol station. Police said a child passing by was injured. Siniyah: An Iraqi Town That is Now a Prison Twice now, an IPS correspondent has been refused entry to this town that has become a prison for its inhabitants. Contact with residents of the town came only at the checkpoint. A month back, the United States military built a 10 kilometre wall of sand around the town of Siniyah, 220km north of Baghdad. The town is close to Saddam Hussein’s hometown Tikrit and the oil refining centre at Beiji. Construction of a sand wall around the town began on January 7 in response to repeated attacks against the 101st Airborne US forces stationed in the area. A night curfew has been imposed in the area. “Journalists have not been limited or prevented from travelling in and around Siniyah,” US military spokesman Major Tim Keefe told IPS. “Coalition and Iraqi Forces go to great lengths to make sure journalists are able to do their job in a safe environment.” That was after soldiers stopped the IPS correspondent entering the town on two occasions. But in the queue to the main checkpoint many people were more than willing to speak to IPS about the situation within.“On the 7th of January, the US troops started building this wall around Siniyah,” said Mohammed, a 34-year-old engineer from Siniyah. “They are trying to isolate Iraqi fighters who are attacking them every day. The troops have been exposed to attacks near Siniyah by roadside bombs and by different weapons... Also, the resistance blows up the petrol pipelines leading to Turkey.” The issue of the pipeline is a salient one for residents of Siniyah. The town has been sealed off not because of attacks within the town, but due to the belief it is being used as a staging ground for attacks outside. The coalition forces are attempting to halt attacks directed mainly at the Beiji refinery and at convoys serving the coalition. The chosen targets have brought general support for Iraqi resistance within Siniyah. Mohammed says the attacks are taking place because “this petrol will go to Turkey and is stolen by occupation forces, or when Turkey buys this petrol the money is taken by the occupation forces.” Residents of Siniyah speak also of injustices by the occupation troops. The wall of sand is now dividing residents from the Iraqi government, they say.“Siniyah has become a real battlefield now, and the occupation forces have destroyed many of our homes,” said Sumiya, a 33-year-old housewife. “There is no security inside Siniyah and it is worse than any place in Iraq now. The occupation forces and Iraqi National Guard are raiding Siniyah houses everyday and arresting many people. There is a curfew from 5pm to 5am; in Baghdad it is only midnight to 5am.” Iraqi Journalist, Member of Jury of War Crimes Tribunal Arrested by US Forces Dear All, I am sending this urgent message to call your attention to the fact that Salaam Al-Jubouri, an Iraqi journalist and a member of the Jury of Conscience at the June 2005 World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul has been imprisoned in Camp Bucca, run by the U.S. Army and Air Force near Umm Qasr just north of the Kuwaiti border. As I understand it, Salaam and several Western journalists had been held hostage by the resistance in a house near Basrah; the house was raided, the Western journalists were set free and Salaam was sent to Camp Bucca pending an investigation. I strongly believe that Salaam's participation in the Istanbul WTI may be the principal factor that has put him under suspicion by the U.S. military. "If you're not with us, you're against us" Those who interacted with Salaam in Istanbul will remember him as a serene and gentle young man. It is incumbent upon the WTI community [as well as on groups of journalists, etc.] to mount a co-ordinated campaign demanding the release of Salaam and other Iraqi journalists. I suggest that the leadership of the WTI in Istanbul and the Brussels Tribunal co-ordinate the campaign. Juba: Baghdad sniper, myth or menace? An insurgent videotape obtained by ABC News shows nearly a dozen sniper attacks targeting American troops. "He definitely knows what to do with a rifle," said Maj. John Plaster, a retired Green Beret sniper instructor and author of "The Ultimate Sniper." "And he has the judgment and discipline to take a shot, wisely choose an escape route, and immediately depart to avoid capture. This is not a zealot; this is a calculated shooter." The video, distributed on the Internet and on DVDs sold in Baghdad, credits a lone gunman who calls himself "Juba the Baghdad Sniper." He claims to have killed 143 U.S. service members. It is impossible to verify that claim. Since the U.S. invasion, more than 370 U.S. troops have been killed by gunshot wounds, and more than 1,000 have been injured. But those figures also include ordinary gun battles. (ABC has discovered the video that Bob found for Today in Iraq readers many months ago. I guess they are trying to catch up. The article goes on to say that the US military says Juba does not exist, I am inclined to think they are wrong (again). – Susan) Sunni Tribes in Anbar Agree to Combat Foreign Fighters The agreement was reached earlier this week in an meeting with US and Iraqi officials, who included US commander General George Casey and Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari. "It was a very fruitful and constructive meeting," National Security Advisor Muaffaq al-Rubaie, who attended the Tuesday meeting, told AFP. "The basic principle is that the province's security is the responsibility of the local people and they promised they would kick out the foreign fighters." In the past week, nine members of the US military have been killed in Anbar. Iraqis Cope With Life Without Lights Baghdad’s electricity has fallen far below prewar levels due to instability. Younes Abbas Shamari is a carpenter with an open-air shop on Baghdad's Zawiya Street, which means he depends on electricity for most of what he does: sawing, drilling, sanding. These days, however, he rarely works, as the electricity is off more than it's on. His workshop sits on a commercial strip in a relatively calm area in the central part of the city. Many small businesses here are in need of electricity to function, but Mr. Shamari estimates he gets just two hours of electricity for every four there is none. And that's twice the Baghdad average, this being one of the capital's more upscale neighborhoods. Thanks largely to deteriorating security, electricity - along with water, sewage, and oil production - has dropped below prewar levels. Before the invasion, for example, Baghdad was receiving an average of at least 16 hours of power a day. Today, with insurgents targeting power plants and electrical lines on an almost daily basis, the city gets power just four hours each day on average. "It's not enough to pay for the rent on my shop," says Shamari, whose salary supports an extended family of 13 in Diyala, outside Baghdad. "The rent is almost higher than whatever income I get from my work." He acknowledges that before the war, electricity wasn't nonstop, but it was available when he worked. Iraq was generating 4,500 megawatts before the US invasion. But by November of last year that generation capacity had dropped to 3,995 megawatts, well below the national demand of 7,000 megawatts, according to a January report by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. Production has slumped despite the $3 billion - of $18.4 billion authorized for Iraq reconstruction - the US has set aside for electricity projects. But as long as insurgents continue to strike Iraq's power grid, reconstruction remains a perilous endeavor. The insurgency has caused the US to reroute reconstruction money to security. Of the estimated $270 billion spent, $15 billion has gone to nonsecurity items, Liberi says. And there are few encouraging signs that this trend will change. In fact, a recent report by the US Government Accountability Office, says insurgent attacks are on the increase. There were 2,500 attacks in December 2005, up from just 1,000 the previous March, the report finds. Iraq’s Utilities, Infrastructure Not Up to Prewar Levels Yet Virtually every measure of the performance of Iraq's oil, electricity, water and sewerage sectors has fallen below pre-invasion values even though $16 billion of U.S. taxpayer money has already been disbursed in the Iraq reconstruction program, several government witnesses told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. Of seven different measures of infrastructure performance presented at the committee hearing by the inspector-general's office, only one was above pre-invasion values. Those that had slumped below those values were electrical generation capacity, hours of power available in a day in Baghdad, oil and heating oil production and the numbers of Iraqis with drinkable water and sewage service. Only the hours of power available to Iraqis outside Baghdad had increased over prewar values. In addition, two of the witnesses said they believed that an earlier estimate by the World Bank that $56 billion would be needed for rebuilding over the next several years was too low. Gasoline Crisis in Iraq Contract mismanagement and possible corruption in the Iraqi government are fueling a crisis over international gasoline delivery into Iraq. Citing a mountain of unpaid bills, the governments of Turkey and Saudi Arabia have shut off gasoline exports to Iraq. With its options dwindling and beleaguered Iraqis demanding fuel, Baghdad has begun to negotiate with former arch-rival, Iran. Meanwhile, hundreds of irate Iraqi security guards, who work for the gasoline delivery companies, are threatening to protest along the Kuwait border to demand payment.Government officials in Baghdad and Washington claim that the cause of the gasoline shortage is "insurgent" or "terrorist" activity but the trucking companies say that the problem is often corruption and common criminal activity. When Promoting Truth Obscures the Truth: Iraq Body Count and Iraqi Deaths Edwards points out the generally recognized fact that IBC’s methodology – only listing deaths reported by two or more Western sources – likely results in their tally being a conservative estimate of civilian deaths. However, Edwards goes further by showing that there is a systematic source of bias in that Western news agencies are more likely to report deaths caused by “insurgents” than those caused by “Coalition” [aka, American] forces. Edwards reports on an examination of the IBC database for the six-month period from January through June, 2005. They found that, of 58 incidents involving at least 10 deaths, only one was attributed to US/Coalition action. Further, during this period, only 15 civilian deaths total were “attributed to 'coalition' airstrikes, helicopter gunfire and tank fire,” a result that is completely implausible to anyone who has followed news of the repeated massive attacks by US and allied forces on alleged “insurgent strongholds.” Very disturbing was the tone of IBC’s founder John Sloboda’s response to being emailed a question about this potential bias. He implied that IBC had no bias in that it recorded all such events reported in the Western media, while ignoring Edwards’ point that the Western media may itself have a bias in what it reports. He stated correctly that “We have always publicly acknowledged that our numbers must underrepresent the true figure.” He then goes on to state “the question of by how much is one that exercises us, as it does many others.” However, he gives no evidence of wrestling with this issue or of recognizing its overriding importance in evaluating what the IBC numbers tell us about the extent of Iraqi deaths. (It is so easy to criticize, and so hard to actually do the work needed to get some idea of what is going on in Iraq. – Susan) Politics: Secular Faction Joins Iraq’s Sunni Alliance The main political alliance representing Iraq's ousted Sunni Arab elite won a new boost Thursday with the accession of a second secular faction to its parliamentary bloc, making it by a long way the second biggest in the legislature. The secular National Dialogue Front led by Sunni Arab politician Saleh al-Mutlaq said its 11 MPs were joining the Joint Council for National Action, giving it a total of 80 seats in the 275-seat Parliament, comfortably ahead of the 53 seats held by the main Kurdish alliance. Mutlag's faction was the second secular movement to make common cause with the Sunni religious parties of the National Accordance Front. The Iraqi National List, an alliance of secular and leftist parties led by secular former premier Iyad Allawi already announced the accession of its 25 MPs to the new Joint Council last month. The main Shiite alliance is still poised to lead the new government. On Saturday the alliance will declare its candidate for the prime minister's post. Danger? Drabness? No Date? Iraqi Find an Outlet Online On a recent rainy afternoon, Ahmad Nader Ali sat in a booth at the ShreifiNet Cafe, sending instant messages to his brother who lives in Finland on one screen window and his fiancée, Nour, on another. A tiny Web camera sat atop the computer, beaming live images of him to Nour's home screen across Baghdad. Because of the situation, I'm not able to go and see her often," said Mr. Ali, a confident 20-year-old with slicked-back hair who runs a men's clothing store. "Everybody does it like this." Nearby, partially hidden by wood-paneled booths, were a dozen other young men staring intently at their screens, most chatting simultaneously on three or four different e-mail accounts. All of them were paying 1,500 dinars an hour — about a dollar — to escape the gray confines of Baghdad's blasted walls for a while. Two heavyset men sat on a black faux-leather couch by the door, keeping a watchful eye on the street. Three years ago, the Internet was virtually unknown in Iraq. Today, Baghdad has dozens of Internet cafes like ShreifiNet, which consists of three sparely decorated rooms with a total of 34 computers and a satellite dish on the roof. Most of the cafes also transmit wireless services to home Internet users in the surrounding area for a monthly fee; in parts of central Baghdad there are about 20 overlapping wireless networks. Iraq Coalition Shrinking The Ukrainians are long gone. So are the Norwegians. The Italians and South Koreans are getting ready to leave, and the Britons and Japanese could begin packing their bags later this year. Slowly but steadily, America's allies in Iraq are drawing down or pulling out as Iraqi forces take more responsibility for securing the country. By year's end, officials say, the coalition - now 25 nations supporting a dwindling U.S. contingent of 138,000 - may shrink noticeably. The withdrawals and reductions will test the Iraqis' ability to tamp down attacks and rebuild, said Anthony Cordesman of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, warning in a new report: "It is too soon to predict the extent to which Iraqi forces can eventually replace coalition forces." Britain, with about 8,000 troops in Iraq, is the United States' most important coalition ally. Officials repeatedly have said they hope to begin bringing home some of their troops this year, though Defense Secretary John Reid has played down recent reports that Britain has settled on a timetable for withdrawal. General Says Training of Iraqi Troops Suffered from Poor Planning and Staffing The American general in charge of training the new Iraqi military after Baghdad fell says the Bush administration's strategy to use those forces to replace departing American troops was hobbled from its belated start by poor prewar planning and insufficient staffing and equipment. The account by Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, who retired on Jan. 1 after 33 years in the Army, suggests that commanders in Iraq might by now have been much closer to President Bush's goal of withdrawing American forces if they had not lost so much time in the first year to begin building a capable Iraqi force. (Except that Bush has no plan to withdraw US troops, ever. – Susan) General Eaton's views, drawn from an essay he is preparing for publication and from interviews in which he broke a long silence on the topic, were broadly affirmed by Pentagon and other civilian officials involved at the time. They agreed that the mission had also been slowed by conflicting visions from senior Pentagon and administration officials, civilian administrators in Baghdad and the former top commander of the military's Central Command, which carried out the invasion. General Eaton was commander of all Army infantry training at Fort Benning, Ga., when he was told on May 9, 2003 — just over a week after President Bush's "mission accomplished" speech — to hurry to Baghdad, where he was to set up and then command an organization to rebuild Iraq's military. "I was very surprised to receive a mission so vital to our exit strategy so late," the general said. "I would have expected this to have been done well before troops crossed the line of departure. That was my first reaction: 'We're a little late here.' " "We set out to man, train and equip an army for a country of 25 million — with six men," General Eaton said. He worked into the autumn with "a revolving door of individual loaned talent that would spend between two weeks and two months," he said, and never received even half the 250 professional staff members he had been promised. Billions For Iraq Reconstruction Unaccounted For Some $8.8 billion dispersed for reconstruction efforts in Iraq is unaccounted for, says the U.S. official in charge of tracing it. For a report to be broadcast this Sunday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. ET/PT, 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft investigates the billions spent on reconstruction-related work, particularly money paid to a contractor, Custer Battles, now being sued for fraud. Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, says $8.8 billion is unaccounted for because oversight on the part of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the entity governing Iraq after the war, "was relatively nonexistent." The former No. 2 man at the Coalition's transportation ministry, Frank Willis, concurs. "I would describe (the accounting system) as nonexistent." Without a financial infrastructure, checks and money transfers were not possible, so the Coalition kept billions in cash to pay for its multitude of projects. "Fresh, new, crisp, unspent, just-printed $100 bills. It was the Wild West," says Willis. Such an atmosphere made it possible for billions to go missing and companies to defraud the Coalition. Custer Battles, a company quickly formed after the war to get reconstruction contracts, goes on trial next week, accused in a whistleblower suit by an ex-employee of bilking the U.S. government out of $50 million. "(Custer Battles) wanted to open fraudulent companies overseas and inflate their invoices to the U.S. government," says the whistleblower, Robert Isakson. He says he refused to go along with the scheme and "two weeks later, apparently I heard they began exactly the fraud they described to me," he tells Kroft. In a memo obtained by 60 Minutes, the airport’s director of security wrote to the Coalition: "Custer Battles has shown themselves to be unresponsive, uncooperative, incompetent, deceitful, manipulative and war profiteers. Other than that, they are swell fellows." The War at Home: Ex-CIA Official Faults Use of Data on Iraq The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Paul R. Pillar, who was the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, acknowledges the U.S. intelligence agencies' mistakes in concluding that Hussein's government possessed weapons of mass destruction. But he said those misjudgments did not drive the administration's decision to invade. "Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war," Pillar wrote in the upcoming issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Instead, he asserted, the administration "went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq." "It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between [Bush] policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," Pillar wrote. The Bush administration, Pillar wrote, "repeatedly called on the intelligence community to uncover more material that would contribute to the case for war," including information on the "supposed connection" between Hussein and al Qaeda, which analysts had discounted. "Feeding the administration's voracious appetite for material on the Saddam-al Qaeda link consumed an enormous amount of time and attention." The War at Home: Libby Testified He Was Told To Leak Data Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff testified that his bosses instructed him to leak information to reporters from a high-level intelligence report that suggested Iraq was trying to obtain weapons of mass destruction, according to court records in the CIA leak case. Cheney was one of the "superiors" I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby said had authorized him to make the disclosures, according to sources familiar with the investigation into Libby's discussions with reporters about CIA operative Valerie Plame. The disclosure in a legal document written by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald demonstrates one way in which Cheney was involved in responding to public allegations by Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, that the administration had exaggerated questionable intelligence to justify war with Iraq. In a letter written in January and released in court papers filed by Libby's defense Monday, Fitzgerald wrote that Libby testified that his "superiors" authorized him to disclose information from the National Intelligence Estimate to reporters in the summer of 2003. The National Journal first reported on its Web site yesterday that Cheney had provided the authorization. Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride declined to comment on Cheney's role in Libby's discussions of the intelligence estimate, referring calls to Fitzgerald's office. Fitzgerald's spokesman has declined to comment on the prosecutor's investigation and filings. The War At Home: National Security: Live Discussion with Post writer Dana Priest Fairfax County, Va.: Dana,What could you tell us about the intelligence community's view of the President's persistent claim that the war in Iraq is not creating more terrorists? It has been my impression that the war was at the very least contributing to radicalization in much of the Arab and Muslim world. Is the president being, at the least, disingenuous in continuing his emphasis only on the potential benefits of the intervention, and not on the costs? Thanks as always. Dana Priest: It is now a core belief, among every single intelligence person--inside and outside government, both foreign and domestic--that the Iraq war is pouring fuel on the fire, boosting recruitment and given individuals an anti-American ideology and the commitment to undertake suicide bombings. There is no dispute here. The War at Home: Rumsfeld Warns Iran, Syria Against Interfering in Iraq Rumsfeld made the comment Friday in Taormina, Sicily, where he was meeting with his NATO counterparts. He said the United States has taken a series of initiatives to try to show Iran and Syria that their actions are harmful to the new Iraqi government and the region. He did not specify the alleged actions, but U.S. officials have previously accused Iran of encouraging radicalism among Iraq's Shi'ites and allowing dangerous materials to cross the border. The United States also alleges Syria allows foreign fighters to travel into Iraq. (I am thinking of starting a war against hypocrites. – Susan) The War At Home: Cleveland-Area Grannies to Stage Mass Enlistment in Effort to Bring the Troops Home In an effort to protect young Americans who are now serving in Iraq from further death and maiming, a group of Cleveland grandmothers will try to enlist in the U.S. armed services this Valentines Day. The event, which is sponsored by the local chapter of Women Speak Out for Peace and Justice (WSOPJ) and the Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition (NOAC), will take place at the Lakewood Recruiting Station, 15608 Detroit Avenue, on Tuesday, February 14 at 11:00 AM. The women will insist that the recruitment staff take them so that the young men and women now serving in Iraq can come home. Other Clevelanders who are eager to bring the troops home will join the women outside the Recruitment Station."We don't expect the recruitment officers to take us seriously because of our age, but we are dead serious about this," says Park. The War At Home: Peace Website Calls to Bring US to UN Security Council for Sanctions A US-based anti-war publisher and activist denounced the recent Iran crisis as a replay of the trumped-up war against Iraq, and called for UN sanctions against the United States itself. John Leonard, owner of the pro-peace websites, explained: "Article 39 of the United Nations Charter states, 'The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations...' "After years of threats to the peace, the USA attacked Iraq based on lies, without provocation or cause. It is destroying Iraq with so-called 'depleted' uranium weapons that are highly radioactive, poisonous and permanent, with a half-life of 5 billion years! The public is now being hit by a re-run of this scenario – a hysterical propaganda campaign, hauling Iran before the UN Security Council, to be followed by a war of mass destruction against humanity." "In fact, the venerable Federation of American Scientists itself catalogued over 200 'military incursions' by the United States between 1945 and 2002. The US is way overdue for a summons, while Iran has never attacked anybody." Possible Future Wars Rank Ignorance Reigns In keeping with its established role as purveyor of disinformation, Fox "News" talking head Brit Hume misreported Fox’s own poll. On "Special Report" (January 26) Hume said that 51% of Americans "would now support" air strikes on Iran. What the poll found is that if diplomacy fails, 51% would support air strikes. Can we be optimistic and assume that the American public would not regard an orchestrated failure by the Bush administration as a true diplomatic failure? Alas, we cannot expect too much from a population in thrall to disinformation. The "evidence" that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons consists of mere assertion by members of the Bush administration and the neoconservative media. Iran says it is not pursuing nuclear weapons, and the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have found no evidence of a weapons program. Iran is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Under the treaty, signatories have the right to develop nuclear energy. All they are required to do is to make reports to the IAEA and keep their facilities open to inspection. Iran complies with these requirements. There is no Iranian "defiance." When news media report "defiance," they purvey disinformation. The "seals" on Iranian nuclear facilities were placed there voluntarily by the Iranians while they attempted to resolve the false charges brought by the Bush administration. The "Iran crisis" is entirely the product of the Bush administration’s determination to deprive Iran of its rights as a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty. It is one more demonstration of President Bush’s belief that his policies are not constrained by fact, law and international treaties. Despite the clear and unambiguous facts, the Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll reports that 60% of Republicans, 41% of Independents, and 36% of Democrats support using air strikes and ground troops against Iran in order to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. This poll indicates an appalling extent of ignorance and misinformation among the American public. The Bush administration will take advantage of this ignorance to initiate another war in the Middle East. Iran Said to Have Nuclear Warhead Plans The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said in a report Tuesday that Iran obtained documents and drawings on the black market that serve no other purpose than to make an atomic warhead. Tehran warned of an "end of diplomacy" if plans to refer it to the U.N. Security Council are carried out. The report by the agency, ahead of a meeting of its 35-member board Thursday, also confirmed information recently provided by diplomats familiar with the Iran probe that Tehran has not started small-scale uranium enrichment since announcing it would earlier this month. Nevertheless, the findings added to pressure to refer Tehran to the Security Council within days. Such a move, Iran said, would lead to a halt in surprise U.N. inspections beginning Saturday and prompt it to resume frozen nuclear activities. "If it happens, the government will be required under the law to end the suspension of all nuclear activities it has voluntarily halted," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said late Tuesday, speaking on Iranian television. The findings about the design obtained by Iran on the black market were contained in a confidential report for presentation to the 35-nation IAEA board and provided in full to The Associated Press. A three-year IAEA probe has not found firm evidence to back assertions by the United States and others that Iran's nuclear activities are a cover for an arms program but has not been able to dismiss such suspicions either. The documents in question were given to Iran by members of the nuclear black market network, the IAEA said. Iran has claimed it did not ask for the documents but received them anyway as part of other black market purchases. (And, if my memory is correct, those black market documents came from the CIA. – Susan) BACKGROUND: US Instigated Iran’s Nuclear Program 30 Years Ago White House staff members, who are trying to prevent Iran from developing its own nuclear energy capacity and who refuse to take military action against Iran "off the table," have conveniently forgotten that the United States was the midwife to the Iranian nuclear program 30 years ago. Every aspect of Iran's current nuclear development was approved and encouraged by Washington in the 1970s. President Gerald Ford offered Iran a full nuclear cycle in 1976. Moreover, the only Iranian reactor currently about to become operative, the reactor in Bushire (also known as Bushehr), was started before the Iranian revolution with U.S. approval, and cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium. The Bushire reactor -- a "light water" reactor -- produces Pu (plutonium) 240, Pu241 and Pu242. Although these isotopes could theoretically be weaponized, the process is extremely long and complicated, and also untried. To date, no nuclear weapon has ever been produced with plutonium produced with the kind of reactor at Bushire. Moreover, the plant must be completely shut down to extract the fuel rods, making the process immediately open to detection and inspection. Other possible reactors in Iran are far in the future. The American push for Iran's nuclear development was carried out with great enthusiasm. Professor Ahmad Sadri, chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Lake Forest College in Illinois, was a young man in Iran when the United States was touting nuclear power facilities to the government of the Shah. In the 1970s he remembers seeing the American display at the Tehran International Exhibition, which was "dedicated to the single theme of extolling the virtues of atomic energy and the feasibility of its transfer to Iran." Sadri also remembers an encounter with Octave J. Du Temple, executive director emeritus of the American Nuclear Society, who fondly reminisced about half a dozen trips in the early 1970s to Tehran and Shiraz in order to participate in conferences and summits on "transfer of nuclear technology." Washington international lawyer Donald Weadon, who was active in Iran during this period, points out that after 1972 and the oil crisis, the United States was rabidly pursuing investment opportunities in Iran, including selling nuclear power plants. "The Iranians were wooed hard with the prospect of nuclear power from trusted, U.S.-backed suppliers," he says, "with the prospect of the reservation of significant revenues from oil exports for foreign and domestic investment." Indeed, whatever Iran did or didn't do in the past, they are in compliance with the NNPT at present. Indeed, there would be no way to accuse them of anything if they had not been so compliant about responding to NNPT requests for information. The NNPT grants all signatories the right to pursue nuclear research for peaceful purposes of precisely the kind in which Iran is currently engaged. The mantra "Iran must not get nuclear weapons" has been repeated so often now that most people have come to believe that Iran has them or is getting them. This implication is completely unproven. The tragedy would be that in the end, U.S. hostility may goad Iran into a real nuclear weapons program. A Load of Crap: Iraq Errors Show West Must Act Fast on Iran – Perle Richard Perle, a key architect of the U.S.-led war against Iraq, said on Saturday the West should not make the mistake of waiting too long to use military force if Iran comes close to getting an atomic weapon. "If you want to try to wait until the very last minute, you'd better be very confident of your intelligence because if you're not, you won't know when the last minute is," Perle told Reuters on the sidelines of an annual security conference in Munich. "And so, ironically, one of the lessons of the inadequate intelligence of Iraq is you'd better be careful how long you choose to wait." Another Load of Crap: Iran is World’s Top Sponsor of Terrorism – Rumsfeld U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused Iran on Saturday of being the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, a charge that his Iranian counterpart rejected as "ridiculous" and "outrageous". Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar was quoted by Iranian state television as saying Rumsfeld's comments were "outrageous remarks and a ridiculous projection by the White House leaders." "Rumsfeld had better try to act responsibly for the disgrace of attacking Afghanistan and Iraq, because the people of the world will never forget the torturing of the prisoners of Abu-Ghraib," he said. Although he labelled the Islamic republic of Iran as the main sponsor of terrorism, Rumsfeld said Islamic terrorists had made Iraq the "central front in their war against the civilised world." Rumsfeld said they 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, listing a number of terrorist acts that took place even before Sept. 11, 2001. (See quote above from Dana Priest. – Susan) More US Warmongering: Pentagon Plans New Arms to Meet Rivals Like China The United States will build new long-range weapons in a hedge against potential rivals like China, the major power best-placed to challenge U.S. supremacy, the Pentagon said in a new strategic blueprint on Friday. The Defense Department also plans to boost U.S. special forces to fight terrorism, strengthen homeland defense and step up efforts to thwart transfers of the deadliest weapons, the 92-page document said. The Pentagon released the congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review to outline its strategy for meeting anticipated security threats over the next 20 years. The United States is seeking to dissuade others from developing capabilities that could threaten regional stability and to defeat aggression if deterrence failed, the report said. (What we need is a way to dissuade the US government from threatening regional stability around the world. – Susan) "The United States will develop capabilities that would present any adversary with complex and multidimensional challenges and complicate its offensive planning efforts," it said. Referring to China's large territory and a lack of U.S. bases in the area, the Pentagon said it must "place a premium on forces capable of sustained operations at great distances." Among the recommended steps is a new long-range "strike" capability to be fielded by 2018, while modernizing the current bomber force. The new capability could include manned or unmanned bombers as well as directed-energy weapons such as lasers. The Air Force's Air Combat Command began a year-long analysis of options for such a capability in October. The document also called for creating a military task force intended to keep terrorist groups from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. It said the unit will be "capable of rapid deployment to command and control WMD elimination and site exploitation missions by 2007." (We have had a ‘war on terror’ for over four years now and not found a one. Of course, Iraq destroyed their last WMD in 1991. – Susan) It said challenges such a unit would face include detecting nuclear materials and rendering safe nuclear, chemical and biological devices. The document anticipates an evolution of threats posed by the most dangerous weapons, including electro-magnetic pulse weapons, portable nuclear devices, genetically engineered biological pathogens, and new chemical agents. It also calls for an increase in psychological warfare units. (I think that means more kidnapping, rape, indefinite detention without charges, and torture. – Susan) The Gullibility That Led Us Into the Last War Could Yet Bring Us a New Conflict The power of both illusion and delusion should never be underestimated. The compulsion to believe in something we need and want to be true, rather than see reality for what it is, can at times be astounding. I am not talking here about lying. The potency of downright fabrication is self-evident. What is truly insidious is the propensity of people to arrange an array of possibles, probables, maybes and might-bes, and construct from them a reality that is both definite and wrong. The power of suggestion, assumption and presumption is everything. The day before Menezes was shot, London saw an attempt to launch a second terrorist attack in two weeks. What Whitby and Larkin saw had been refracted through a prism of fear and stereotypes, and emerged completely distorted. The price was right; the market was ripe; people bought into it. The war in Iraq has revealed just how truly bullish and persistent this market in bad ideas based on flawed preconceptions can be. Bad ideas helped take us into the war; and unless we examine what they were and why some managed to believe them, they will prevent us from getting out. In such a market there will always be sellers aplenty. Someone, somewhere, will forever be peddling war, bigotry, conspiracy, profiling, persecution and plunder. It is only when the buyers come forward in large numbers that we really have to worry. For at critical moments people do not just consume these bad ideas; they invest heavily in them too. So when reality refuses to match up to the idea, they do not change their ideas; they change reality. Everybody has the right to change their mind and make mistakes. The growing number of people on both sides of the Atlantic who believe it was wrong to go to war is heartening. But since the war has already been going for almost three years these regrets are only of any use, beyond personal expiation, if they help to correct the consequences of the original sin. These particular turnarounds fail on two fronts. First, they expose the anti-war case to the charge of opportunism. People such as Kerry backed the war not on principle but because it was expedient to do so. They oppose it today for the same reason. Second, there is little point in claiming you were tricked unless you address what made you so gullible in the first place. The basic idea that the US has a historic duty to bring progress, democracy and enlightenment at the barrel of a gun seems about as firmly ingrained in the American mindset as its record of doing the opposite in Central and South America and south-east Asia is in American history. Nothing that has happened in Iraq seems to have shifted that perception in the US. A significant minority were against the war from the start. For the rest, the trouble with the war is not that they invaded a sovereign country on a false pretext and killed hundreds of thousands. It's that they're not winning. A Pew research survey in December showed that 48% of Americans believe that invading Iraq was wrong. A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll last week revealed that 57% of Americans support military intervention if Iran builds itself a nuclear capability. With each exposé of torture, subjugation, blunder and plunder you keep hearing that Americans have lost their innocence. Somehow they always find it again just in time to buy into the next bad idea. Fear of US Drove Iran’s Nuclear Policy The aggressive stance of the Bush administration toward Iran again increased Iranian fears of a U.S. attack. In early 2002, a secret Pentagon report to Congress on its "Nuclear Posture Review" named Iran as one of seven countries against which nuclear weapons might be used "in the event of surprising military developments". The report was obtained by defence analyst William Arkin, who revealed its contents in the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 26, 2002. Five days later, Pres. Bush referred to Iran in his State of the Union address as being part of an "axis of evil", along with Iraq and North Korea. "By seeking weapons of mass destruction," he said, "these regimes pose a grave and growing danger." Although it did not refer directly to fears of the United States, a declassified letter from the CIA to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham on Apr. 8, 2002 alluded to the linkage between Iranian perceptions of threats and its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Joseph Cirincione, a non-proliferation specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, told IPS that an analysis that links Iran's security concerns about the United States have driven its quest for nuclear weapons would be consistent with the history of other nations' policies toward acquiring nuclear weapons. "No nation has ever been coerced into giving up a nuclear programme," he said, "but many have been convinced to do so by the disappearance of the threat." Cirincione cited three former Soviet republics, Argentina and Brazil, South Africa and Libya as examples of countries that decided to give up nuclear weapons only after fundamental international or internal changes eliminated the primary security threat driving their nuclear programmes. War Pimp Alert! Full of Falsehoods: Iran Designs Tunnel That Could One Day Be Used for Atomic Test (Or maybe something else? Any sign they are building such a tunnel? No? – Susan) In the three years since Iran was forced to acknowledge having a secret uranium enrichment program (FALSE), Western governments and the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, have amassed substantial evidence to test the Tehran government's assertion that it plans to build nothing more than peaceful nuclear power plants. (FALSE AGAIN) Often circumstantial, usually ambiguous and always incomplete, the evidence has confounded efforts by policymakers, intelligence officials and allies to reach a confident judgment about Iran's intentions and a diplomatic solution to the crisis. (ONLY BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT TO REACH A LOGICAL CONCLUSION.) Drawings of the unbuilt test site, not disclosed publicly before, appear to U.S. officials to signal at least the ambition to test a nuclear explosive. (THEN WHY AM I WONDERING WHY THIS REMINDS ME OF THE URANIUM NIGER CLAIM?) But U.S. and U.N. experts who have studied them said the undated drawings do not clearly fit into a larger picture. Nowhere, for example, does the word "nuclear" appear on them. "The diagram is consistent with a nuclear test-site schematic," one senior U.S. source said, noting that the drawings envision a test control team parked a safe 10 kilometers away, or six miles, from the shaft. As far as U.S. intelligence knows, the idea has not left the drawing board. (AND EVEN IF IT DID, IT WOULD LIKELY NOT BE A THREAT TO THE USA. – Susan) Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the IAEA, said that after three years of investigation, he still cannot judge Iran's program "exclusively peaceful." At the same time, Iran is "not an imminent threat," he said in a recent interview. (LOOKS LIKE IRAN IS GOING TO HAVE TO PROVE THEY DON’T HAVE ANY IMAGINARY WMDS. Good luck with that one. – Susan) UNFORTUNATE: In Public’s Eyes, Iran Biggest Foreign Menace The escalating crisis over Iran's nuclear programme appears to have persuaded the U.S. public that Tehran now poses a greater threat to the United States than any other country, or even al Qaeda, according to recent surveys. And even though the public remains worried and unhappy about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, a significant percentage has already begun thinking of eventual military action against Iran. "Americans are telling us that they would prefer we pack our bags and leave Iraq now, and yet they appear ready to do some damage to Iran if it proceeds with its nuclear programme," said John Zogby, president of the polling firm, Zogby International, which released a survey last week in which nearly half of the respondents (47 percent) said they favoured military action, preferably along with European allies, to halt Iran's nuclear programme. Over the last 15 years, an average of only about six percent of respondents rated Iran as the "greatest danger" to the United States. In October, the same month that Ahmadinejad threatened Israel for the first time, that grew to nine percent, still far below Iraq (18 percent), China (16 percent), and North Korea (13 percent). But the latest survey found that the percentage had tripled to 27 percent compared to China (20 percent), Iraq (17 percent), North Korea (11 percent), and al Qaeda/terrorists (four percent). Moreover, two-thirds of respondents listed Iran's nuclear programme, which U.S. intelligence agencies believe is still a decade away from developing an actual weapon, as a "major threat" -- compared to 60 percent who described North Korea's nuclear programme that way, despite the fact that Pyongyang is believed to have built as many as a dozen bombs. Pew director Andrew Kohout, however, noted that 55 percent of respondents in the October poll said they believed that Iran already possessed nuclear weapons. (I saw McCain the other night on Letterman sincerely telling everyone that Iran is a grave threat to the USA. He’s either stupid or a liar… fool or tool. – Susan) Parallels Between Iran and Pre-War Iraq Iran is not Iraq, and the year 2006 is not the same as year 2003 for George Bush; but one cannot stop wondering about the uncanny similarities between Iraq at the verge of war, and the present state of affairs in Iran. Parallels are abound: Ahmadinejad's administration, helped by the United States and the EU, has managed to isolate Iran internationally. Only three countries, all third and fourth rate powers, voted against the IAEA reporting of Iran to the Security Council. Iraq experienced a similar isolation in the period ending with war. Clamp down on internal opposition is on the increase, and the IRI is becoming increasingly a univocal system. Autocracy was also in full swing in Iraq before the war. Iranian dissidents feed their selective information and analyses into government agencies and powerful think tanks in DC, and get coverage from major networks. This is reminiscent of the role of Ahmad Chalabi and his cohorts in convincing America before its invasion of Iraq. US Trains Mali to Fight Terrorism in Oil Region U.S. Special Forces are teaching Malian soldiers how to fight terrorism in the country's northern desert, a region potentially rich in oil but seen by U.S. military officials as a sanctuary for Islamic militants. More than 300 Malian soldiers in the Saharan towns of Timbuktu and Gao and the capital Bamako will practice parachuting into the desert, marksmanship, operating under fire and other activities over the next 50 days, officials said. ``It involves three military units and is part of the Pan-Sahel Initiative, a vast regional program to combat terrorism, cross-border banditry and drug trafficking,'' said Col. Abdoulaye Coulibaly, chief spokesman for the Malian army. At least six international firms have won rights to search for oil under Mali's vast desert as the impoverished West African nation seeks to match neighbors Algeria, Mauritania and Niger by striking crude. But the Sahel region, which stretches from Mauritania on Africa's western coast through northern Mali, Niger and Chad, is also synonymous with banditry, smuggling and increasingly -- according to U.S. officials -- international terrorism. (Funny how this all works, no? – Susan) Flemming Rose and the Straussian Art of Provocation As suspected, and claimed on this blog over the weekend, the inflammatory anti-Muslim cartoons published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten were a deliberate provocation designed to outrage and incite Muslims and thus engender support in Europe and America for the manufactured “clash of civilizations” engineered by the Straussian neocons. As Christopher Bollyn writes for the American Free Press, the neocon operative behind the cartoon scheme is Flemming Rose, cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten, who has “has clear ties to the Zionist Neo-Cons.” Rose “traveled to Philadelphia in October 2004 to visit Daniel Pipes, the Neo-Con ideologue who says the only path to Middle East peace will come through a total Israeli military victory. Rose then penned a positive article about Pipes, who compares ‘militant Islam’ with fascism and communism,” Bollyn reveals. Daniel Pipes is one of the more virulent and hateful of the Straussian neocons, famous for his racist and xenophobic statement that Muslim immigrants are “brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and not exactly maintaining Germanic standards of hygiene,” an attitude straight out of the Nazi school of racial hyperbole (a philosophy embraced by no small number of Jabotinsky Likudites and their fellow travelers among the traitorous Straussian neocons). In the same way, the Straussian neocons, taking a page from the P-2 provocation playbook, are attempting to convince Europeans and Americans that Muslims are “violent and dangerous” by “helping make it so,” as Bollyn’s revelations about Flemming Rose’s role in the inflammatory publication of the anti-Muslim cartoons in Jyllands-Posten and other newspapers make obvious. Burning Down Danish Embassies: More Straussian Psychological Warfare? Once again cui bono—who benefits—enters the equation: Muslims may burn off some of their outrage over what they see as a denigration (through idolatry) of their religion, but at the end of the day the Straussian-Jabotinsky Likudite coalition score big propaganda points as, once again, people in America and Europe (who must be periodically reminded of the necessity for the “clash of civilizations” agenda for total war) are incensed by the violence spreading across the Middle East and are convinced that all Muslims are crazed fanatics who must be ultimately dealt with. The Very Real, Present War: Congo’s 3.9m Victims Make it Deadliest Crisis for 60 Years The civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed 3.9 million lives, according to a study. It says starvation and disease caused by a conflict, which began in 1998, were by far the greatest killers. The results of the study, conducted by the International Rescue Committee, a New York-based relief agency, are published in the British medical journal The Lancet. "Congo is the deadliest crisis anywhere in the world over the past 60 years," said Richard Brennan, the study's main author. "Ignorance about its scale and impact is almost universal and international engagement remains completely out of proportion to humanitarian need." The committee found that Congo's war claimed 38,000 lives every month in 2004. Researchers visited 19,500 households across the vast country over three months last year and recorded the number of deaths experienced by families. They found that, of every 1,000 people, 2.1 died every month. This compared with a pre-war mortality rate of 1.5 in every 1,000. Assuming war to be the sole cause of the increase in death rates, the study said the conflict has claimed 3.9 million lives, with the numbers rising each month. Civil war began when Uganda and Rwanda invaded Congo, ostensibly to hunt down rebel groups. Both countries looted its mineral wealth and fighting escalated when five other African nations sent in their troops. COMMENTARY OPINION: Israelis May Regret Saddam Ousting, Says Security Chief Israel's Shin Bet security service chief has said his country may come to regret the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, because strong dictatorship is preferable to the present chaos in Iraq. Yuval Diskin, who was secretly recorded talking to teenage Jewish settlers preparing for military service, also said Israel's judicial system discriminates against Arabs. The recording was made public on Israeli television this week. Amid a barrage of questions, mainly on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr Diskin was asked about Iraq. "When you dismantle a system in which there is a despot who controls his people by force, you have chaos. You get what happened in Iraq. I'm not sure we won't miss Saddam," he said. OPINION: No Winners in Iraq From the day the attack on Iraq started, all sides have been losers. It appears the post-war situation couldn't be worse, with insurgents infiltrating the police, corruption at an all-time high, and bombings, deaths and maimings commonplace every day. The only safe places in Iraq are those created to protect the invading armies, thereby adding to the hatred that that serves to poison the minds of the Iraq people. We need to consider an immediate withdrawal of all British forces, or consider the dire consequences of having troops in Iraq for years to come. DENNIS GRATTAN OPINION: Freedom Arrested PEACE activist Cindy Sheehan, mother of a soldier killed in Iraq and an irritant to President Bush, was never everybody's favorite. (I like her quite a lot, actually. – Susan) Even some of those sympathetic to her must concede that the closer she has moved to the far left, the further she has gotten from persuading the moderate middle of America that the war is wrong. (I think she has done exactly the opposite. – Susan) Too strident Mrs. Sheehan may be, but that does not excuse what happened to her when she sat down to watch President Bush deliver his State of Union address last Tuesday in the House chamber. She was an invited guest of a member of Congress, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a Democrat from California. She made no fuss, she did not unfurl any banners, just made the mistake of unzipping her jacket to reveal a T-shirt that bore a message about the Iraq War: "2,245 Dead. How many more?" For this she was arrested and put in handcuffs. With supreme irony, she never did get to hear President Bush deliver a speech animated by the idea of America spreading democracy and freedom. If she had yelled out and then had been removed, that would have been an overt act of disruption and we would not be writing this editorial. But her crime was to assume that freedom would allow a T-shirt to speak silently for her. OPINION: We Lost Iraqi Hearts and Minds Long Before Current Occupation The first man, a doctor, knew about the 500,000 Iraqi children who had died from 1991 to 1998, as reported by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). He knew they died from epidemics of diseases caused by unsafe water. Perhaps he'd read about it in The New England Journal of Medicine, where the prime cause was described as our bombing of Iraq's electrical plants, water facilities and civilian infrastructure during the Gulf War. He was saddened by this but shrugged his shoulders: What can one do?! Then I spoke with two more alumni, one a former Marine on his way to fish in the Caribbean. When I spoke about 500,000 dead Iraqi children, I felt I'd breached an unspoken rule of etiquette: One just doesn't talk about our responsibility for dead Iraqi children. The talk quickly went back to fishing. In the question-and-answer period of the alumni meeting, the president of the college mentioned that he kept informed by reading both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. I thought to myself, "My God, he really doesn't know!" This man, who attends meetings with the U.S. president, thinks these papers will keep him well informed of important world events. It's often said there was a failure of intelligence leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. That is true. The most obvious failure is that so very few Americans knew the U.S. kept to a policy that devastated the civilian population of Iraq for 12 years. Thousands of its most vulnerable — the very young, very old and very sick — died needlessly every month. We justified this by saying it was "to punish Saddam." Can we begin to imagine someone doing the same here "to punish George W. Bush" for our invasion? How would we possibly feel? What piece of information better explains why U.S. troops never were received with open arms and flowers as predicted? Our invasion began with two strikes against it. Congressman John Murtha recently said that we've already lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. What chance did we have for Iraqi hearts and minds after all those years and all those deaths? Not much at all. PEACE ACTION: Women Say No to War. Over 30,000 Women around the world have signed this petition to say no to war. Click link to sign petition. Chavez has signed this petition. ALSO: US Government Rejects Visas for Iraqi Women to Visit US. Call the State Department to demand that the Iraqi women be allowed in the US to speak. For more information and contact emails, click link. CASUALTY REPORTS Local Story: Texans killed in the Iraq war in 2006. Local Story: Kansas soldier laid to rest. Local Story: Fort Lewis soldier killed in Iraq. Local Story: Funeral set for slain North Texas soldier. Local Story: Soldier with Omaha ties dies of Iraq injuries. Local Story: Family of Meridan (Misssissippi) medic killed in Iraq to receive his Silver Star. Local Story: Michigan Marine killed in Iraq. Local Story: Three coffins arrived home from Iraq today. No government minister in attendance. (Britain) Local Story: Killed in Iraq, Marine won hearts at home. (Arizona) QUOTE OF THE DAY: "A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude." -- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World


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