Tuesday, February 28, 2006
DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, February 28, 2006
Bring 'em on: Four British soldiers killed and another injured by roadside bomb on the outskirts of Amara, southern Iraq, Iraqi security sources said Tuesday. The UK Ministry of Defence confirmed the death of only two.
Bring 'em on: U.S. soldier killed by small-arms fire west of Baghdad.
Bring 'em on: Italian patrol attacked in Nassiriya by apparent IED. No damage to either personnel or vehicles.
Bring 'em on: Roadside bomb targeting convoy of a defense ministry adviser kills five soldiers and wounds seven others. The adviser, Lt. Gen. Daham Radhi al-Assal, was not injured.
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
Alleged suicide bomber blows himself up at gas station in New Baghdad neighborhood, killing 23 people and injuring 51.
Car bomb targeting police patrol in the same neighborhood kills nine people and injures 17, all civilians.
Car bomb explodes near Shiite mosque in Baghdad's southeastern Karada neighborhood, killing four people and injuring 16.
In Baghdad, gunmen in two speeding cars open fire on the Sunni al-Salam mosque in western Mansour district, killing the guard.
Mortar round lands in open area not far from National Theatre in downtown Baghdad, Mohammedawi said. No immediate reports of casualties.
Sunni Arab mosque damaged by bomb early Tuesday morning.
Mortar round falls near TV station run by Iraqi Islamic Party wounding two senior employees.
Iraqi soldiers find bullet-riddled bodies of nine people near two burned minibuses in Iraq's Diyala province. The victims included a Sunni Muslim of the influential Mahamdeh tribe, and two of his nephews.
In Tikrit, near Saddam's birthplace north of Baghdad, bomb blast damages dome and blows out doors and windows at Hussein al-Majid mosque, which houses his father's grave. No reports of injuries.
Two bodies of civilians with multiple gunshot wounds found north of Falluja.
Gunmen in Mosul kill four police and a doctor of the city general hospital. The motive was not known.
Car bomb explodes as police patrol passes in Kirkuk, wounding three civilians.
Violence since bombing of Shi'ite shrine kills 379 and wounds 458, Iraq government says: In an unusual statement, issued in English, the office of Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, said media reports that the death toll was well over 1,000 were "inaccurate and exaggerated."
Iraqi prosecutors submit to court trying Saddam Hussein alleged execution order signed by former Iraqi dictator, as his lawyers once again storm out of tribunal: Documents were presented linking Saddam to the trial and execution of 148 villagers from Dujail, north of Baghdad in some of the most significant documentary evidence to have been presented by the prosecution so far.
Saddam's lead lawyers, Khalil al-Dulaimi and Khamis Ubaydi, had walked out of the courtroom at the start of the hearing after the judge rejected their pleas for proceedings to be postponed and for the judge and chief prosecutor to be dismissed for alleged bias against the accused. They were immediately replaced by court-appointed lawyers who represented Saddam during an earlier defence counsel walkout.
The hearing, markedly quieter than previous sessions that threatened to descend into chaos owing to noisy interventions by the defendants, lasted two hours before being adjourned until Wednesday.
More than 7,000 Afghans protest against cartoons of Prophet Mohammad and condemn attack on Shi'ite Muslim shrine in Iraq as "plot by infidels": Tuesday's protests were in Ghazni, a town southwest of the capital, Kabul, and involved more than 7,000 people, including minority Shi'ite and majority Sunni Muslims, officials said.
Sayed Ghulam Sakhi, head of the government-appointed Islamic Council in Ghazni, called the printing of the cartoons, the attack in Iraq and desecration of the Islamic holy book, the Koran, by U.S. forces the work of "Zionists". "(They) are linked together and the work of the infidels," he said.
Another senior cleric in Ghazni, Mawlavi Jailani, charged that the attack on a Shi'ite shrine in Iraq last week, which has sparked bloody sectarian violence, was part of a "plot by the infidels to create hostility" between the two Muslim sects.
Iraqi bloggers wonder why Western media wants to see a civil war so badly in Iraq: From what I have seen the Western media has shown too much of a morbid facination with civil war. They are to fast to declare a new war while at the same time frightened by the consequences. The result is that you get a false picture of what is going on. This duality is understandable. The political editor will say "tone it down - a civil war will threaten our interests" while the managing editor will shout "play it up for all its worth - this sells newspapers." So, for the sake of balance I dedicated my Global Voices Online column to reports from those who are looking for lights at the end of the tunnel.
Iraq Pundit takes the Western media to task:
Why do these reporters want to see a civil war so badly in Iraq? It looks to me that they hate Bush so much that they will stop at nothing to prove that he’s wrong about Iraq and they are right. The reporters have sunk so low as to take this cheap angle of insisting that an all out civil war has been underway for three years. When will they wake up and realize that this is not a White House scandal. This is about Iraq and its people. 24 Steps To Liberty is amazed by a picture he posts from his TV:
Iraqi clergymen, Shiites and Sunnis, have met in a mosque in Baghdad and decided to contribute to ending the crisis… What was amazing about it is the unity they showed on TV. In the picture, Kubaisi [spokesman of the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars] is shown leading the prayers and all the clergies behind him are Shiites from Sadr trend. This is the first time I see this. I’ve never seen a Sunni clergyman leading Shiite prayers…. This is a huge encouragement to Iraqis and a huge defeat also for those who predicted a wide civil war in Iraq. - Salam Adil is an Iraqi blogger who lives in the United Kingdom
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
"They're going to Baghdad next": The biggest difference in Baghdad from two or three years ago is the nearly total absence of U.S. troops on its streets. In a major gamble, the city largely has been turned over to Iraqi police and army troops. If those Iraqi forces falter, leaving a vacuum, U.S. pressure elsewhere could push the insurgency into the capital. "I think they're going to go to Baghdad next," worried [Maj. Daniel] Morgan [a battalion operations officer]. But other U.S. officers argued that such a move is unlikely because it is more difficult to intimidate a city of 5 million than a rural village.
The Middle East as a chessboard: For the most radical-right neoconservative Jacobins amongst the Bush-Cheney team, the possibility that Iraq might fall apart wasn't even alarming: they just didn't care, and in their obsessive zeal to overthrow Saddam Hussein they were more than willing to take the risk. David Wurmser, who migrated from the Israeli-connected Washington Institute on Near East Policy to the American Enterprise Institute to the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans to John Bolton's arms control shop at the State Department to Dick Cheney's shadow National Security Council in the Office of the Vice President from 2001 to 2006, wrote during the 1990s that Iraq after Saddam was likely to descend into violent tribal, ethnic and sectarian war.
In a paper for an Israeli think tank, the same think tank for which Wurmser, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith prepared the famous "Clean Break" paper in 1996, Wurmser wrote in 1997 : "The residual unity of the nation is an illusion projected by the extreme repression of the state." After Saddam, Iraq would "be ripped apart by the politics of warlords, tribes, clans, sects, and key families," he wrote. "Underneath facades of unity enforced by state repression, [Iraq's] politics is defined primarily by tribalism, sectarianism, and gang/clan-like competition." Yet Wurmser explicitly urged the United States and Israel to "expedite" such a collapse. "The issue here is whether the West and Israel can construct a strategy for limiting and expediting the chaotic collapse that will ensue in order to move on to the task of creating a better circumstance."
Such black neoconservative fantasies-which view the Middle East as a chessboard on which they can move the pieces at will-have now come home to roost. For the many hundreds of thousands who might die in an Iraqi civil war, the consequences are all too real.
Like the Sarajevo assassination that precipitated World War I, the attack on the mosque may trigger a war, but it won't be the cause. The cause is far more deep-rooted, embedded in the chaos and bitterness that followed the U.S. invasion of Iraq and America's deliberate efforts to stress sectarian differences in creating the Iraqi Governing Council and subsequent government institutions. If the current crisis doesn't spark a civil war, be patient. The next one will.
It's all about the oil: Iraq cannot be physically lost - territorially conceded - to the Iraqis without monumentally dire consequences to American Empire. If abandoned, Iraq's significant share of "the greatest material prize in history" can only be left to the control of others, an outcome that is unacceptable to American policymakers for (again) "very good [imperial] reason[s]."
The fully and ugly truth is that the self-proclaimed universal state and global super-power Uncle Sam has no intention of granting management of the world's most "stupendous source of strategic power" and "critical" global political-economic "leverage" to the people who happen to live on its merely national, not-so sovereign topsoil. At this precarious and potentially late point in the history of its global dominance, the U.S. can be expected to hold on to that control with an impressive imperial death grip. It will likely exhibit a fierce determination to defend that grasp through even the most terrible conflicts and violence abroad and at home, where more and bigger 9/11's seem all-too likely in coming years.
The risks of not holding on are simply too great, as far as those structurally super-empowered U.S. actors who crave planetary (and indeed inter-planetary) supremacy (the real objective of U.S. foreign policy) are concerned. Withdrawal from Iraq is a most unlikely thing for Uncle Sam to seriously contemplate in light of his tendency to value hegemony over survival, consistent with deadly choices made by concentrated power through the long, reckless, and criminal record of empire.
Here we go again!: Now it's Iran. Bush, again mumbling something about Iran's being a threat to the world, the same crap as about Iraq. But this time, the west European countries (the "traditional" allies) are at it, too.
Isn't it strange how all these countries, the USA, Israel, England, France, Germany...with all their weapons of mass destruction, feel so easily threatened? Why shouldn't Iran be a nuclear power? The U.S, England, France, Israel, Russia, China, Japan (yes! Japan, too), India and Pakistan are.
These idiots are the cause of nuclear proliferation. If they are so concerned about the safety of the world they should lead by example and dismantle their nuclear weapons.
When the U.S, Israel, England France and Germany talk about the safety of the world being their main reason to object to Iran's possessing nuclear technology, what world are they talking about? They are the only ones (as always) who feel threatened. I don't hear about Thailand, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Latvia, Vietnam, Zambia... feeling threatened. I mean, really, what world is in question? The world comprised of the U.S, England, Israel, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Japan?
The O.E.C.D world? The world made up of the G7 the E.U the IMF, World Bank, WTO, N.A.T.O, the UN Security Council, NAFTA, Wall Street, OIL interests, cheap OIL. Is this the world we hear so much about? Because, if this is the world the West is worried about, then it is a world of SHAME that is in question, a world of deceit, greed, wars, theft, colonialism, capitalism, imperialism... An opulent white world born out of mainly colored peoples slave work, sweat and blood and their natural resources.
If this is the world that is in danger then it might as well be done away with!
We hear again words of shame, words like "the UN Security Council", "UNSC resolutions", "International community"... I thought all this didn't exist anymore. I thought the UN was finally dead, the coup de grâce being the (another) illegal US-UK-led war against the Iraqi people in order to rob them of their OIL. But let's face it, the UN was never very much alive. Actually, there never was a UN. All there was was the(UN) Security Council, a band of criminals bent on tearing the natural resources of the world at any cost.
Although I am far from being a fan of the ruling Mullahs in Teheran, I still remember the Shah, Reza Pahlavi, a friend of the West, which means "the International Community" and oppressor of the Iranian people, a vicious dictator who was propped up and kept in power by the West, robbed his people blind and made himself and the West even richer and who eventually gave birth to the Mullahs. So, I urge Iran not to put its fate into the hands of "the International Community". When you hear "International Community" on the news, what countries pop up in your mind? Albania, Burkina Faso, Burundi...? Of course not! The countries that pop up in our mind are usually the US and whoever follows (pretty much the same faithful dogs : Israel, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan...) or G7, EU, NATO, W.B., IMF, WTO... it's always the same gangsters anyway.
This "International Community" that is so worried about the safety of the "world", that claims the higher moral ground, a higher sense of justice and is so vociferous in its proclamations of being the defender of democratic values, human rights and protector of the "civilized" world, this "International Community" is the same one that has betrayed millions of people around the real world in need of human rights, democracy, justice...
Millions have been killed, tortured, oppressed, persecuted, exploited...as a result of the criminal policies of our angelic "International Community", because what mattered and still matters the most today is the economic interests of this "International Community" of SHAME!
When the "International Community" threatens Iran to force it to give up its nuclear program in order to make the world safer, I wonder if its thoughts of safety include the Chechens, the Palestinians, the Iraqis, the Sudanese in Darfur, the campesinos and the Indios being massacred in Colombia by death squads backed by the cheap - natural resources - hungry U.S. and its west European vassals and Japan (read: "International Community") ...or the 30 000 daily deaths caused by hunger due to economic policies of the "International Community"...Will all these peoples and many other oppressed ones feel safer once they find out that Iran has agreed to get rid of its nuclear technology? Who or What will really be safer? The flow of cheap OIL to the West and Japan (the "International Community")?
In light of this record of atrocities Iran should really hurry and develop whatever it needs to protect itself from us, I mean, "the International Community".
Drug smuggling made easy: Profits from the heroin trade are astronomical. Those of us who work for a living just to keep on top of paying the rent can't even grasp the amount of money involved. It's a lot. In 2004, Prof. Michel Chossudovsky of the University of Ottawa stated that, "The Afghan trade in opiates constitutes a large share of the worldwide annual turnover of narcotics, which was estimated by the United Nations to be of the order of $400-500 billion."
Prof. Chossudovsky goes on to state that, aside from oil production and weapons sales, the sale of opiates is the largest producer of revenue in the world.
And everybody who listens to KPFA or even reads the New York Times knows that 85% of the world's heroin supply now comes from American-occupied Afghanistan. Just Google "Heroin/Afghanistan" and see what sh! ows up. This is NOT a closely-guarded secret.
Okay. We now understand that the heroin drug trade represents big bucks. And we also understand that most of the world's heroin supply is coming from American-occupied Afghanistan. But what we don't understand is, with all those drug-sniffing dogs poking around American airports, how can all these billions of dollars worth of heroin sneak their way into our country?
Through the ports!
And now George W. Bush is insisting that our ports are to be handed over to his friends. Think about it. Now George and his friends are now in control of the ports where heroin enters America. How convenient for them. Now they have a monopoly on the production AND the distribution of drugs.
This is a perfect example of the free enterprise system at work.
Only it's only free for Bush and his friends.
We who work for a living -- and our drug-vulnerable children -- still have to pay.
PS: Am I saying that the Bush group will do anything to make a profit, even sell hard drugs to children? Yeah, duh. Never forget that the Bush bureaucracy's motto is, "We will do ANYTHING for cash."
These guys did market research. They found out what sells best: Guns, drugs and oil. These are their products. And they have just been voted "Salesmen of the Year".
You gotta admit that the Bush bureaucracy's sales campaign is brilliant. Their "divide and conquer" jingle is being hummed on every street corner in the world.
These super-entrepreneurs have turned red state Americans and blue state Americans against each other. They've turned the American middle-class against the poor. They've turned Jews, Christians and Muslims against each other. They've even turned Muslims against Muslims. And in the resultant confusion, they make trillions of dollars in profit on drugs, guns and oil.
Drugs, guns and oil. Is that what we want our troops to die for? Is that what "Christians" value most? Are "Muslims" willing to soil the words of the Prophet (PBUH) by killing non-Muslims who have done them no harm? And by killing other Muslims? Are the CEOs of Bush Incorporated creating a whole world of avid consumers, zealously killing for drugs, guns and oil? Is this what the human race has come to?
We are being used.
American Gulag: I represent six Kuwaiti prisoners, each of whom has now spent nearly four years at Guantanamo. It took me 2 1/2 years to gain access to my clients, but now I have visited the prison camp 11 times in the last 14 months. What I have witnessed is a cruel and eerie netherworld of concrete and barbed wire that has become a daily nightmare for the nearly 500 people swept up after 9/11 who have been imprisoned without charges or trial for more than four years. It is truly our American gulag.
On my most recent trip three weeks ago, after signing a log sheet and submitting our bags to a search, my colleagues and I were taken through two tall, steel-mesh gates into the interior of the prison camp.
We interviewed our clients in Camp Echo, one of several camps where prisoners are interrogated. We entered a room about 13 feet square and divided in half by a wall of thick steel mesh. On one side was a table where the prisoner would sit for our interviews, his feet shackled to a steel eyelet cemented to the floor. On the other side were a shower and a cell just like the ones in which prisoners are ordinarily confined. In their cells, prisoners sleep on a metal shelf against the wall, which is flanked by a toilet and sink. They are allowed a thin foam mattress and a gray cotton blanket.
The Pentagon's files on the six Kuwaiti prisoners we represent reveal that none was captured on a battlefield or accused of engaging in hostilities against the U.S. The prisoners claim that they were taken into custody by Pakistani and Afghan warlords and turned over to the U.S. for bounties ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 - a claim confirmed by American news reports. We have obtained copies of bounty leaflets distributed in Afghanistan and Pakistan by U.S. forces promising rewards - "enough to feed your family for life" - for any "Arab terrorist" handed over.
The files include only the flimsiest accusations or hearsay that would never stand up in court. The file on one prisoner indicated that he had been seen talking to two suspected Al Qaeda members on the same day - at places thousands of miles apart. The primary "evidence" against another was that he was captured wearing a particular Casio watch, "which many terrorists wear." Oddly, the same watch was being worn by the U.S. military chaplain, a Muslim, at Guantanamo.
When I first met my clients, they had not seen or spoken with their families for more than three years, and they had been questioned hundreds of times. Several were suspicious of us; they told me that they had been interrogated by people who claimed to be their lawyers but who turned out not to be. So we had DVDs made, on which members of their families told them who we were and that we could be trusted. Several cried on seeing their families for the first time in years. One had become a father since he was detained and had never before seen his child. One noticed his father was not on the DVD, and we had to tell him that his father had died.
Most prisoners are kept apart, although some can communicate through the steel mesh or concrete walls that separate their cells. They exercise alone, some only at night. They had not seen sunlight for months - an especially cruel tactic in a tropical climate. One prisoner told me, "I have spent almost every moment of the last three years, and eaten every meal, here in this small cell which is my bathroom." Other than the Koran, prisoners had nothing to read. As a result of our protests, some have been given books.
Every prisoner I've interviewed claims to have been badly beaten and subjected to treatment that only could be called torture, by Americans, from the first day of U.S. captivity in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They said they were hung by their wrists and beaten, hung by their ankles and beaten, stripped naked and paraded before female guards, and given electric shocks. At least three claimed to have been beaten again upon arrival in Guantanamo. One of my clients, Fayiz Al Kandari, now 27, said his ribs were broken during an interrogation in Pakistan. I felt the indentation in his ribs. "Beat me all you want, just give me a hearing," he said he told his interrogators.
Another prisoner, Fawzi Al Odah, 25, is a teacher who left Kuwait City in 2001 to work in Afghan, then Pakistani, schools. After 9/11, he and four other Kuwaitis were invited to dinner by a Pakistani tribal leader and then sold by him into captivity, according to their accounts, later confirmed by Newsweek and ABC News.
On Aug. 8, 2005, Fawzi, in desperation, went on a hunger strike to assert his innocence and to protest being imprisoned for four years without charges. He said he wanted to defend himself against any accusations, or die. He told me that he had heard U.S. congressmen had returned from tours of Guantanamo saying that it was a Caribbean resort with great food. "If I eat, I condone these lies," Fawzi said.
At the end of August, after Fawzi fainted in his cell, guards began to force-feed him through tubes pushed up his nose into his stomach. At first, the tubes were inserted for each feeding and then removed afterward. Fawzi told me that this was very painful. When he tried to pull out the tubes, he was strapped onto a stretcher with his head held by many guards, which was even more painful.
By mid-September, the force-feeding had been made more humane. Feeding tubes were left in and the formula pumped in. Still, when I saw Fawzi, a tube was protruding from his nose. Drops of blood dripped as we talked. He dabbed at it with a napkin.
We asked for Fawzi's medical records so we could monitor his weight and his health. Denied. The only way we could learn how Fawzi was doing was to visit him each month, which we did. When we visited him in November, his weight had dropped from 140 pounds to 98 pounds. Specialists in enteral feeding advised us that the continued drop in his weight and other signs indicated that the feeding was being conducted incompetently. We asked that Fawzi be transferred to a hospital. Again, the government refused.
When we saw Fawzi in December, his weight had stabilized at about 110 pounds. The formulas had been changed, and he was being force-fed by medical personnel rather than by guards.
When I met with Fawzi three weeks ago, the tubes were out of his nose. I told him I was thankful that after five months he had ended his hunger strike. He looked at me sadly and said, "They tortured us to make us stop." At first, he said, they punished him by taking away his "comfort items" one by one: his blanket, his towel, his long pants, his shoes. They then put him in isolation. When this failed to persuade him to end the hunger strike, he said, an officer came to him Jan. 9 to announce that any detainee who refused to eat would be forced onto "the chair." The officer warned that recalcitrant prisoners would be strapped into a steel device that pulled their heads back, and that the tubes would be forced in and wrenched out for each feeding. "We're going to break this hunger strike," the officer told him.
Fawzi said he heard the prisoner next door screaming and warning him to give up the strike. He decided that he wasn't "on strike to be tortured." He said those who continued on the hunger strike not only were strapped in "the chair" but were left there for hours; he believes that guards fed them not only nutrients but also diuretics and laxatives to force them to defecate and urinate on themselves in the chair.
After less than two weeks of this treatment, the strike was over. Of the more than 80 strikers at the end of December, Fawzi said only three or four were holding out. As a result of the strike, however, prisoners are now getting a meager ration of bottled water.
Fawzi said eating was the only aspect of life at Guantanamo he could control; forcing him to end the hunger strike stripped him of his last means of protesting his unjust imprisonment. Now, he said, he feels "hopeless."
The government continues to deny that there is any injustice at Guantanamo. But I know the truth.
On being "good Americans" in a time of torture: As a teenager, I could not understand how the German people could claim to be "good Germans," unaware of what the Nazis had done in their names. I could understand if these ordinary German people had said they had known and been horrified, but were afraid to speak up. But they would then be "weak, fearful or indifferent Germans," not "good Germans." The idea that only the Nazis were responsible for the Holocaust made no sense.
Whatever the Germans as a whole know about the concentration camps, they certainly knew about the systematic mistreatment of Jews that had occurred before their very eyes, and from which so many had profited. And if they were not really "good Germans," I wondered, what should or could they have done, given the reality of Nazi tyranny?
The issue became personal for me in the summer of 1961, when I hitchhiked through Europe with a lovely German woman named Inge. Still in love after an idyllic summer, we visited Hyde Park the day before I was to return home. A bearded, middle-aged concentration-camp survivor was angrily attacking the German people for standing by and letting the Jews be slaughtered. I was moved beyond words. Suddenly the woman I loved began yelling angrily at him, screaming that the Germans did not know, that her father had just been a soldier and was not responsible for the Holocaust.
Our relationship essentially ended then and there. I understood intellectually that she was just defending her father and was neither an anti-Semite nor an evil person. But there it was. She on one side. The survivor on the other. A gulf between them. Whatever my head said, my heart knew that the world is divided into evil-doers, their victims, and those like Inge who do not want to know.
And that I had no choice but to stand with the victims.
I never dreamed at that moment that I, as an American, would a few years later face this same question as my government committed mass murder of civilians in Indochina in violation of the Nuremberg Principles. Or that more than four decades later I would still be struggling with what it means to be a "good American" after learning that a group of U.S. leaders has unilaterally seized the right to torture anyone it chooses without evidence and in violation of international law, human decency, and the sacrifice of the many Americans who have died fighting autocracy and totalitarianism.
We are in some ways more morally compromised than the "good Germans" of the 1930s.
To begin with, we are far less able to claim we do not know. Our daily newspapers regularly report new revelations of Bush Administration torture.
Second, by opposing torture, we face far less severe threats than did Germans who tried to help Jews. Even the strong possibility that we could become targets of illegal spying by this Administration for protesting its torture is far less frightening than the death or imprisonment faced by Germans who helped Jews.
And, third, unlike the Germans, we cannot reasonably claim that it is futile to oppose our leaders. Creating or joining an organized effort to prevent torture can succeed because we possess one great advantage that human rights advocates in Germany did not have: the public is with us.
Whatever a movement to abolish torture will achieve for society, it is clear what participating in it means for each of us as individuals. It means above all that our children and grandchildren will not remember us with shame, that they will not one day have to try to justify to our victims our failure to oppose the torture being conducted in our names, and that the term "Good American" will mean just that, and not an excuse for fear or indifference, like the idea of the "Good German."
When we fight to end torture we not only fight for human decency, international law, democracy, and freedom.
We fight for ourselves.