Monday, March 20, 2006
DAILY WAR NEWS FOR MONDAY, March 20, 2006
Photo: Somewhere in post-occupation Iraq. "Puedan cortar las flores, pero no pueden parar la primavera" (see below "Yet Hope Springs Eternal…").
Four people killed in bombing outside restaurant in eastern Baghdad.
Three people killed and 23 wounded by bomb hidden in a bag at coffee shop in northern Baghdad.
Gunmen kill university lecturer in the western district of the capital.
Bomb inside minibus kills three people and wounds four in Baghdad.
Three policemen and three prisoners killed when roadside bomb hits their vehicle in southern Baghdad. A policeman and two prisoners were wounded.
Gunmen kill former district commissioner outside his house in Baghdad's Doura district.
Baghdad hospital receives six bodies, including that of a woman, with gunshot wounds.
Gunmen shoot and wound four pilgrims in Mahmudiya, just south of Baghdad.
10 bodies found in Baghdad, including 13-year-old girl.
Roadside bomb explodes in farming area south of Baghdad killing four policemen.
Roadside bomb explodes in central Baghdad near a prison, killing at least two Iraqi police commandos and a civilian.
14 bodies, bound hand and foot and shot execution style show up at two Baghdad sewage treatment plants.
Assailants in southwestern Baghdad gun down man as he leaves mosque.
Gunmen kill two members of security forces protecting oil facilities in Jarf al-Sakkhar, 80 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad.
Car bomb wounds two policemen in Gayara near Mosul.
One policeman killed and two wounded when suicide car bomb explodes near their checkpoint in Baquba.
Gunmen kill prison employee in Mosul.
Gunmen in army uniforms kill man and wound his wife when they attack their apartment at midnight in Falluja.
Gunmen kill director of oil products in Mosul as he leaves his home.
Iraqi “leaders” announce agreement on setting up a Security Council to deal with key matters while negotiations to form government proceed. The announcement came Sunday after the fourth in a series of U.S.-brokered all-party meetings on forming a government.
Millions of Shiite pilgrims flock to holy city of Karbala to commemorate the 40th and final day of symbolic mourning for the Prophet Muhammad's grandson.
Some 4 million pilgrims had arrived at the city, said Karbala Governor Akeel al-Khuzai, who expected more to pour in through Tuesday. Many performed rituals of self-flagellation with chains and hit themselves with machetes to display grief over Imam Hussein's death.
An increased number of Iraqi soldiers and police officers patrolled the streets and manned several checkpoints Monday. Baghdad International Airport also was ordered closed through Tuesday "to avoid any violence during the (religious) commemoration," Transportation Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abdul-Wahab said.
Rumsfeld says leaving Iraq like giving Nazis Germany: "Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis," Rumsfeld wrote in an essay published in The Washington Post on the third anniversary of the start of the Iraq war.
He said "the terrorists" in Iraq were attempting to stoke sectarian tension and spark civil war, but that they must be "watching with fear" the progress in the country over the past three years. "The terrorists seem to recognize that they are losing in Iraq. I believe that history will show that to be the case," Rumsfeld said.
Retired U.S. Army Major calls Rumsfeld incompetent, urges he resigns: "First, his failure to build coalitions with our allies from what he dismissively called 'old Europe' has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input," [retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul] Eaton said [in an opinion piece published on Sunday in the New York Times]. "In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq," Eaton said.
Eaton, who was in charge of training Iraqi military forces from 2003 to 2004, said President George W. Bush should replace Rumsfeld with someone like Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, who could "repair fissures that have arisen both between parties and between uniformed men and the Pentagon big shots."
The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee backed Eaton's call, telling CNN's "Late Edition" Rumsfeld's departure would "energize American forces" and help the United States to accomplish its goals in Iraq. "Imagine what would happen if it were announced tomorrow in the headlines of the papers of in America and throughout the world that Rumsfeld was fired," said Sen. Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat. "It would energize, energize the rest of the world. They'd be willing to help us."
Abu Ghraib will not be closing any time soon: Remember those big headlines last week about Abu Ghraib? According to the media splash, the US was preparing to close those notorious chambers within three months. That would mean by June 2006. Well, guess what? Those stories were just another piece of disinformation. According to the US Department of Defense news service DefenseLink, "News reports that the U.S. military intends to close Abu Ghraib within the next few months and to transfer its prisoners to other jails are inaccurate." Like everything else in Iraq, the actual timetable for any closure of the prison will be based on "the readiness of Iraq's security forces to assume control of them" and some kind of infrastructure improvements at other facilities. (DefenseLink 3/12/06) If previous reality holds true in this instance, that means that the Abu Ghraib facility will not be closing any time soon. Just like the reports of soon-to-come troop withdrawals rumored every few months, the stories of the closure of Abu Ghraib are just one more part of the government's attempts to keep us hopefully confused. Whether the media's intention is to deceive or clarify by reporting these statements, the objective reality is the former.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
THREE YEARS AFTER THE INVASION
Happy Birthday Free Iraq!: The 18th of March, 2006 will be the 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation by American forces and also the 3rd birthday of ‘free Iraq’.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, we will mourn the mangled corpse of the Iraqi nationhood that America continues to drag around the vast deserts of that country, with fangs bared and claws out, in an unjustified, illegal and bloody occupation.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, we will note the fact that America threatens to lay waste to the nations next door on daily basis and considers it immoral if those countries even think of arming themselves to prevent the same fate.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, we will derive a very simple lesson from America’s Iraq jaunt that if a country wants to avoid a U.S. led invasion, they had better arm themselves to the gills and with nuclear weapons too if possible. Quite plainly, it is a matter of life and death for such countries.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, we will remember that not only is America the only user of the nuclear weapon on human race in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, she is also known to have contemplated using them in almost every major military conflict ever since e.g. against the people of Korea, Cuba and Vietnam.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, we will remind ourselves that as the fight for resources and markets sharpens among the various capitalist powers, the likelihood of nuclear conflicts breaking out grows exponentially and that, unless the global citizenry wakes up, all the treaties and assurances in the world will not stop this brazen display of capitalism in decay.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, we must note with irony that while the American administration is lowering the bar for going nuclear and makes ‘bomb size holes’ in the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty by signing the Indo-US nuclear deal, it continues to preach nuclear abstinence to the rest of the world and threatens to visit pre-emptive attacks upon those thought to be in non-compliance of the same treaty.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, as we listen to President George W. Bush lecturing the world on the threat from Iran and on the virtues of nuclear non-proliferation, we will remind ourselves that his position on nuclear weapons smacks of rampant hypocrisy and is laced with double standards. He is the commander-in-chief of a military force that not only possesses and maintains nearly 10,000 nuclear weapons but also boasts an array of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological arsenals.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, as the American military juggernaut continues to slam into innocent humanity and prepares itself for yet another bout of binge killing in Iran; the American citizens continue to vacillate on what to do with the criminal cabal that kills in their name. Having yo-yoed between conviction and impeachment with a lot of bombast, they finally fizzle down for a rap on the knuckle by attempting, please note, to ‘censure’ the lead criminal for breaking the law, trashing the US Constitution and killing hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, as America’s State Department decries the Human Rights abuses by various countries, let us remember that America herself has become the biggest patron of dark dungeons and the sessions of pain therein. Other than Abu Ghuraib and Guantánamo Bay, where detainees have included children as young as 11-years-old and where some detainees have now been held for over four years without charge or trial, America’s torture trail at the present weaves across the globe from Thailand and the Philippines through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan to Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Cyprus, Diego Garcia, some Gulf States and an unspecified number of South Pacific island nations.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, despite President George Bush’s sickeningly repetitious rhetoric of “freedom on the march” and “terrorists on the run”, let us be informed that the National Counterterrorism Center (NCC), a US government funded agency of the Department of Homeland Security, tells us that “between 2001 and 2005, worldwide terrorist incidents increased by an astounding 159 percent, going from 1,733 attacks in 2001 to 4,483 last year.” And that, “of the 13,403 global terror incidents that have taken place since 2001, one-third of those total took place in 2005 alone.”
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, let us also acquaint ourselves with the bungling incompetence of the current US administration’s economic policies that directly affect the common Americans. The numbers are out and they tell a sordid tale. “The U.S. trade deficit has soared to an all-time high of $725.8 billion in 2005, up by 17.5 percent from the previous record of $617.6 billion set in 2004. The deficit with China hit an all-time high as did America's deficits with Japan, Europe, OPEC, Canada, Mexico and South and Central America. It marked the fourth straight year in a row that America's trade deficit has set a record.”
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, let us recall the orchestrated 9/11, the gargantuan lies that this administration told to the American public in its aftermath and the hundreds of thousands of innocent dead and maimed souls that those lies resulted in.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, as we brace ourselves from more nuclear hypocrisy from the mightiest of the nations, we will recall that this nation continues to use depleted uranium weapons on Iraqis taking a ghastly toll not just on the existing ones but also on successive future Iraqi generations who will suffer for eons to come.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, as American citizens tuck their well fed children into warm beds after affectionate hugs, we will recall that the rate of birth defects, leukemia and cancer among Iraqi children under the age of 15 in those districts where the use of DU had been the most concentrated is increasing horrendously and, if not checked soon enough, a generation of beautiful babies are going to turn into one of hideous cripples.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, with hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, thousands of dead Americans, a beat-up American image around the globe and a war tab exceeding half-a-trillion dollars, we must finally allow the reality of the repugnant rhetoric of global domination and the disgusting truth of its actual failure to finally sink in to our collective conscience.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, as the American nation dillies and dallies while their government kills people abroad with impunity and plans to start yet another anniversary series for yet another nation, one comes to a sad sad conclusion. And that is that the American nation seems to have willingly boarded itself up on a train, remote controlled by their criminal leaders, with the train careering fast towards the Cassandra Crossing. The Americans now watch their own selves in a hushed awe.
This 3rd anniversary of Iraq’s occupation, let us try to understand for whom was the following said in the “Book of Isaiah” in The Bible?
“YOUR HANDS ARE STAINED WITH BLOOD, YOUR FINGERS WITH GUILT, YOUR LIPS SPEAK FALSEHOOD AND YOUR TONGUE UTTERS DECEIT”
Happy birthday free Iraq!
We should have known we’d face this situation: In tiny East Timor, a ragtag band of resisters harried the Indonesian army for more than 25 years; that band (splendid people, by the way) now runs the world’s newest independent state. In Afghanistan, U.S.-assisted guerrillas drove out the Red army; their successors now make most of the country ungovernable. In Chechnya, the country has been destroyed but the rebellion hasn’t been subdued. And then there was Vietnam.
During the Cold War, we ringed the world with bases—but always in alliance with existing governments that were legitimate, at least up to a point. One may disapprove of the regimes we supported, but this model for the projection of military power works. It is called “containment.” It works as long as the host regimes remain viable and as long as the military power it projects isn’t tested in actual combat. When these conditions failed—in Iran, in the Philippines, in Vietnam—so did the strategy.
The successful use of military power—as Mao Zedong understood when he called America a “paper tiger”—entails a large element of bluff. Vietnam deflated the image that American power could never be challenged. To some extent, the Gulf War of 1991 restored that image, but the restoration was achieved by the limited aims and quick termination of that war. The Clinton successes in the Balkans came in part because all sides bought this lesson of the Gulf War. (With Serbia, the bluff came close to being called again; the Kosovo bombing campaign took 80 days and Russian diplomacy rescued us in the end.)
But now Iraq has once again exposed what military power cannot achieve, short of nuclear weapons. Iran and North Korea have taken notice. Meanwhile, our friends, the Europeans and the Japanese, must be asking themselves: Exactly what sort of security does the American alliance buy, and at what price?
Bush and Cheney have done more than merely bungle a war and damage the Army. They have destroyed the foundation of the post-Cold War world security system, which was the accepted authority of American military power. That reputation is now gone. It cannot be restored simply by retreating from Iraq. This does not mean that every ongoing alliance will now collapse. But they are all more vulnerable than they were before, and once we leave central Iraq, they will be weaker still. As these paper tigers start to blow in the wind, so too will America’s economic security erode.
From this point of view, the fuss over whether we were misled into war—Is the sky blue? Is the grass green?—stands in the way of a deeper debate that should start quite soon and ask this question: Now that Bush and Cheney have screwed up the only successful known model for world security under our leadership, what the devil do we do?
- James K. Galbraith is an economics professor who served in several positions on the staff of the U.S. Congress.
The redlining of America: On April 3 , before the taking of Baghdad, we [the Black Commentator] wrote of the predictable consequences of the Iraq invasion:
The entire globe is recoiling from the United States, a planetary phenomenon that will characterize the historical period we have now entered - if humanity survives it. In declaring war against international order, the Pirates at the helm of the Hyper-Power have profoundly frightened every economic and social sector of every nation on the globe. In self-defense, the world will be forced to reorganize itself, to create new mechanisms of trade and security in place of the institutions that the Bush men are deliberately savaging. The Americans will be left out of these arrangements.
The realization dawns on the assaulted consciousness of humanity that the would-be rulers and their society are worse than monstrously destructive - they are delusional, a danger to civilized endeavor, untrustworthy in any agreement, contemptuous of law and reason. A nation and people to be avoided, circumvented, conspired against for safety and survival's sake.
These are the first days of the inevitable and soon to become dramatic decline of the United States. In what will be viewed as a supreme irony of history, the dream of a glorious and bloody leap to global omnipotence will collapse in incompetence and self-mutilation - not this year or the next, and not in time to save millions from death, disease, impoverishment and national humiliation. But it will happen, because the nations and peoples of the world will see no choice available to themselves but to make it happen.
A wired world is taking note of every pathological tick in the twisted American face. Even now, a myriad of plans are evolving to sidestep the dangerous, delusional United States as mankind goes about its collective business. A kind of international redlining will increasingly make itself felt, but not seen. The Bush men believe they are willing into existence a New American Century, while in reality they are creating an America-phobic planet in which the U.S. has earned an invisible but powerfully consequential non-favored nation status. Having invented the concept of globalism, the United States will be consigned to pariah status - and shrink, until it learns to live by human norms and scales.
Newsweek interactive map of Coalition military fatalities and estimated Iraqi civilian deaths in Iraq, 2003-2006.
What happened in the village of Isahaqi, north of Baghdad, on Ides of March? Here is what we know.
We know that U.S. forces conducted a raid on a house in the village on March 15. We know that the Pentagon said the American troops were "targeting an individual suspected of supporting foreign fighters for the al-Qaeda in Iraq terror network," when their team came under fire, and that the troops "returned fire. utilizing both air and ground assets." We know that the Pentagon said that "only" one man, two women and one child were killed in the raid, which destroyed a house in the village.
We know from photographic evidence that the corpses of two men, four shrouded figures (women, according to the villagers), and five children – all of them apparently under the age of five, one as young as seven months – were pulled from the rubble of the house and laid out for burial beneath the bright, blank desert sky. We know that an Associated Press reporter on the scene saw the ruined house, and a photographer for Agence France Presse took the pictures of the bodies.
We know that two Iraqi police officials, Major Ali Ahmed and Colonel Farouq Hussein – both employed by the U.S.-backed Iraqi government – told Reuters that the 11 occupants of the house, including the five children, had been bound and shot in the head before the house was blown up. We know that the U.S.-backed Iraqi police told Reuters that an American helicopter landed on the roof in the early hours of the morning, then the house was blown up, and then the victims were discovered. We know that the U.S.-backed Iraqi police said that an autopsy performed on the bodies found that "all the victims had gunshot wounds to the head." We know that the U.S.-backed Iraqi police said they found "spent American-issue cartridges in the rubble."
We know that Ahmed Khalaf, brother of house's owner, told AP that nine of the victims were family members and two where visitors, adding, "the killed family was not part of the resistance, they were women and children. The Americans have promised us a better life, but we get only death."
We know from the photographs that one child, the youngest, the baby, has a gaping wound in his forehead. We can see that one other child, a girl with a pink ribbon in her hair, is lying on her side and has blood oozing from the back of her head. The faces of the other children are turned upwards toward the sun; if they were shot, they were shot in the back of the head and their wounds are not evident. But we can see that their bodies, though covered with dust from the rubble, are otherwise unmarked; they were evidently not crushed in the collapse of the house during, say, a fierce firefight between U.S. forces and an "al Qaeda facilitator." They died in some other fashion.
We know from the photographs that two of the children – two girls, still in their pajamas – are lying with their dead eyes open. We can see that the light and tenderness that animate the eyes of every young child have vanished; nothing remains but the brute stare of nothingness into nothingness. We can see that the other three children have their eyes closed; two are limp, but the baby has one stiffened arm raised to his cheek, as if trying to ward off the blow that gashed and pulped his face so terribly.
These facts are what we know from American officials, American-backed Iraqi officials and reporters for Western press associations on the scene. This is probably all we will ever know for certain about what happened in Isahaqi on March 15. The rest will remain obscured by the murk instigated by U.S. military spokesmen, who are evidently not telling the truth about the body count of the raid, and by the natural confusion that must attend the villagers' description of an attack that struck without warning in the middle of the night.
[Warning: Very upsetting images of the massacred children at the link above.]
Fighting for Their Lies: The Deadly Delusions of America's Troops: While much has been made of the recent poll showing that a majority of U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq think we should get out – heartening news for all those who oppose Bush's bloodsoaked war crime – the poll contained another revelation that should disturb anyone – anti-war or pro-war – who still believes in American democracy: the fact that some 85 percent of US forces in Iraq believe they are fighting to avenge Saddam Hussein's role in the September 11 attacks.
Saddam Hussein played no role in the September 11 attacks, of course; even the Warmonger-in-Chief has been forced to admit this indisputable fact, in public. It has also been confirmed by multiple investigations by the intelligence services, and even by the whitewashing, Bush-run, see-no-evil-unless-it-speaks-Arabic 9/11 Commission. Yet American troops have been thoroughly inculcated with this false notion – no doubt deliberately.
The evil of this deliberate policy is great in itself; but the broader implications are perhaps even worse. For consider this: if American troops can be propagandized to believe such a transparent lie about Iraq's non-existent connection to 9/11 – what can't they be manipulated into believing?
And remember, this mass military delusion has been manufactured in an age when soldiers have far more access to outside information than ever before (despite the Pentagon's strenuous efforts to clamp down on anything Don Rumsfeld doesn't want them to hear). Can they be made to believe that, say, the government of Hugo Chavez is directly tied to al Qaeda and must be overthrown? Can they be made to believe that Saddam's non-existent weapons of mass destruction are actually parked in Damascus and must be seized by force? Can they be made to believe that Iran is sending agents across the Iraqi border to kill them and is about to nuke their loved ones in the Homeland as well?
But why stop with new foreign aggression? If American soldiers can be manipulated into believing the non-existent connection between Saddam and al Qaeda – why not a non-existent connection between some domestic faction and terrorism? What if you convinced the troops that, say, some Democratic leader was a traitor in league with terrorists? Or the anti-war movement in general? Or environmentalists? Or Muslims? Or Mexicans? Or Jews? Or any other group that some president down the line – armed with the dictatorial powers seized by Bush under the rule of the "unitary executive" – decides to eliminate?
We have, once again, crossed a dangerous Rubicon. If American soldiers can now be deliberately manipulated into fighting a war based on a transparent and publicly proven lie, in the service of the political ambitions and personal fortunes of a partisan faction, then we are well and truly through the looking-glass. We have reached the same pitch of civic degradation as the late Roman Republic, where the legions became the tools of ruthless warlords, jockeying for dominance, despoiling whole peoples and slaughtering thousands in the process. Once unlimbered, this weapon will be used again and again. With each passing day, the Bush Factionists – and all their many sycophants and enablers, in both parties, throughout the Establishment – are sowing a monstrous future for America, and the world.
Dahr Jamail: How to train 99 Iraqi battalions in less than six months: General Pace [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] praised the Iraqi military, saying, "Now there are over 100 [Iraqi] battalions in the field."
Wow! General Pace must have waved his magic wand and materialized all these 99 new Iraqi battalions that are diligently keeping things safe and secure in occupied Iraq. Because according to the top US general in Iraq, General George Casey, not long ago there was only one Iraqi battalion (about 500-600 soldiers) capable of fighting on its own in Iraq. [Washington Post March 19: "(…) a recent Pentagon report said the number of 'Level 1' Iraqi units capable of operating independently of the United States had dropped from one to zero. (…)"]
During a late-September 2005 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Casey acknowledged that the Pentagon estimate of three Iraqi battalions last June had shrunk to one in September. That is less than six months ago.
I thought it would be a good idea to find someone who is qualified to discuss how feasible it would be to train 99 Iraqi battalions in less than six months, as Pace now claims has occurred.
I decided that someone who was in the US Army for 26 years and who worked in eight conflict areas, starting in Vietnam and ending with Haiti, would be qualified. If he had served in two parachute infantry units, three Ranger units, two Special Forces Groups and in Delta Force that would be helpful as well. And just to make sure, if he taught tactics at the Jungle Operations Training Center in Panama and Military Science at the United States Military Academy at West Point, thus knowing a thing or two about training soldiers, that would be a bonus.
That person is Stan Goff.
"This is utter bullshit," was Goff's remark about the Pace claim of having 100 Iraqi battalions when I asked him to comment, "He must be counting the resistance among his forces."
Goff adds, "That dip-shit [Pace] is saying he has 60,000 trained and disciplined people under arms ... 65,000 with all the staffs ... and almost 100,000 with the support units they would require. To train and oversee them would require thousands of American advisors. It must suck for a career Marine to be used so blatantly as a PR flak."
Goff mentioned that Pace "and everyone else" knows that the Iraqi forces, "however many there are," are heavily cross-infiltrated.
"He [Pace] is saying that the Bush administration is going to empower a pro-Iranian government with 100 ready battalions, when this administration was handed this particular government as the booby prize in exchange for Sistani pulling their cookies out of the fire during the joint rebellions in Najaf and Fallujah," added Goff.
Further discrediting the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Goff said, "To train 99 [battalions] since last September is a claim only the average American might swallow. The right question to ask is, where are they? Where are they headquartered, and where are they in operation? Claiming operations security doesn't count, unless they believe they can hide 100 units of 600 people each in Iraq ... from other Iraqis ... who are often related to them."
He concludes, "These guys have become accustomed to saying any damn thing, then counting on ignorance and apathy at home - along with hundreds of Democrats who need spine transplants - to get away with it. You can quote me on any of that."
The new untermenschen: Sometimes even the [UK] Telegraph has its moments. The paper carries an excellent front page story today about Ben Griffin, the former SAS soldier who quit in disgust last June after witnessing the Iraq occupation at first hand. Ben Griffin gave an extraordinary speech at the International Peace Conference held in London last December. Dunno why it took the mainstream media three months to pick up on the story, but better late than never I suppose.
Mr Griffin said he believed that the Americans soldiers viewed the Iraqis in the same way as the Nazis viewed Russians, Jews and eastern Europeans in the Second World War, when they labelled them "untermenschen".
"As far as the Americans were concerned, the Iraqi people were sub-human, untermenschen.
"You could almost split the Americans into two groups: ones who were complete crusaders, intent on killing Iraqis, and the others who were in Iraq because the Army was going to pay their college fees. They had no understanding or interest in the Arab culture. The Americans would talk to the Iraqis as if they were stupid and these weren’t isolated cases, this was from the top down. There might be one or two enlightened officers who understood the situation a bit better but on the whole that was their general attitude. Their attitude fuelled the insurgency. I think the Iraqis detested them."
Guantánamo Suicide Letter Declassified and Released by U.S.: In New York, on March 15, 2006, attorneys representing Guantánamo detainees at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) reacted to the first detainee suicide letter ever declassified by the U.S. Government, blasting the Bush Administration for driving detainees to suicide through indefinite detentions, mistreatment and torture at the base. The shocking letter by Jumah Al Dossari, a Bahraini national whose attorney found him hanging by his neck in a suicide attempt at Guantánamo in October 2005, describes how the horrific conditions of Jumah’s confinement and indefinite detention drove him to try to take his own life. In his letter, Jumah seeks to make his “voice heard by the world from the depths of the detention centers” and implores the “fair people of America to look again at the situation and try to have a moment of truth…”
"This disturbing new letter reveals a man brought to the brink of self-destruction because of the government's inhumane policies of indefinite detention and mistreatment - affecting hundreds of people who have not been accused of a crime or even afforded the most basic due process in court," said CCR Deputy Legal Director Barbara Olshansky.
"Jumah's letter is a haunting reminder of the meeting I had with him just before he slashed and hung himself. Jumah had repeatedly begged us to get him out of isolation. Because our request to the court for this relief was denied on technical grounds, we implored the military to hold Jumah under more humane conditions, and we continue to do so. Our grave fear is that if the military persists in denying our requests, Jumah, who by the military's own count has tried to kill himself ten times in U.S. custody, will not survive Guantanamo," said Joshua Colangelo-Bryan of Dorsey & Whitney LLP, co-counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights for Jumah.
On March 22, 2006, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hear oral argument relating to the government's motion to dismiss Jumah's case and those of all other Guantanamo detainees.
Jumaa's suicide letter in full
Prisoner of Deprivation / Jumah Abdel Latif Al Dossari
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
(Signature) Friday, 10/14/2005Is Another 9/11 in the Works?: In recent statements President Bush and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld blamed Iran for the Iraqi resistance, claiming that the roadside bombs used by the resistance are being supplied by Iran.
It is obvious that Bush intends to attack Iran and that he will use every means to bring war about.
Yet, Bush has no conventional means of waging war with Iran. His bloodthirsty neoconservatives have prepared plans for nuking Iran. However, an unprovoked nuclear attack on Iran would leave the US, already regarded as a pariah nation, totally isolated.
Readers, whose thinking runs ahead of that of most of us, tell me that another 9/11 event will prepare the ground for a nuclear attack on Iran. Some readers say that Bush, or Israel as in Israel’s highly provocative attack on the Jericho jail and kidnapping of prisoners with American complicity, will provoke a second attack on the US. Others say that Bush or the neoconservatives working with some "black ops" group will orchestrate the attack.
One of the more extraordinary suggestions is that a low yield, perhaps tactical, nuclear weapon will be exploded some distance out from a US port. Death and destruction will be minimized, but fear and hysteria will be maximized. Americans will be told that the ship bearing the weapon was discovered and intercepted just in time, thanks to Bush’s illegal spying program, and that Iran is to blame. A more powerful wave of fear and outrage will again bind the American people to Bush, and the US media will not report the rest of the world’s doubts of the explanation.
Reads like a Michael Crichton plot, doesn’t it?
Fantasy? Let’s hope so.
International law? Never heard of it: Every newspaper has an article today about the release of a revised U.S. Empire "national security strategy." Here are the AP, New York Times, and Washington Post articles. Every one of them uses the Bush Administration/U.S. government language of "preemptive war." Not one of them uses the word "unprovoked," which of course is just what such a war is. And there's another phrase and subject you won't find mentioned in any of them: "international law."
A phrase like, "Experts in international law almost universally agree that such 'preemptive' attacks violate the Geneva Conventions, and constitute a war crime"? Sorry, you'll need to look somewhere other than the corporate media to find actual reporting like that, rather than U.S. government press release regurgitation.
Update: And then there's Helen Thomas in today's press gaggle:
Does the President know that he's in violation of international law when he advocates preemptive war? The U.N. Charter, Geneva, Nuremberg. We violate international law when we advocate attacking a country that did not attack us.I won't bore you with the answer.
The Bolton archipelago: A UN General Assembly vote on establishing the new Human Rights Council is a fairly devastating comment on current US global prestige as well as the effectiveness of diplomacy as practiced by US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton. The vote to replace the largely discredited Commission on Human Rights with the new council was 170-4, with the United States, Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau voting against the resolution and with three abstentions.
The three nations the US led in opposing the new council are probably the top per capita recipients of US cash - along with the Federated States of Micronesia, which even Bolton couldn't bully enough.
The Marshall Islands and Palau, micro-states in the Pacific, depend upon the US Congress for their entire budgets. There is an additional irony. For many decades the United States stalled in allowing the former trustee territory of Palau its independence until it dropped clauses in its constitution preventing the US from bringing nuclear weapons in to defend it. Residents of the Marshall Islands are still trying to get compensation for the time they spent as human guinea pigs during the days of nuclear testing on their atolls.
And of course Israel owes a lot of vetoes to the US.
One must assume that the scale of the US defeat in the vote may have taken some of the bounce out of Bolton, and certainly the State Department rapidly announced that the US would be constructively engaged in the council and its work. The US neither invented human rights, nor does it now have them under trademark protection.
Criticise Israeli policy and you are by definition an anti-semite: Anyone who criticises Israel’s actions or argues that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over US Middle Eastern policy – an influence AIPAC celebrates – stands a good chance of being labelled an anti-semite. Indeed, anyone who merely claims that there is an Israel Lobby runs the risk of being charged with anti-semitism, even though the Israeli media refer to America’s ‘Jewish Lobby’. In other words, the Lobby first boasts of its influence and then attacks anyone who calls attention to it. It’s a very effective tactic: anti-semitism is something no one wants to be accused of.
Europeans have been more willing than Americans to criticise Israeli policy, which some people attribute to a resurgence of anti-semitism in Europe. We are ‘getting to a point’, the US ambassador to the EU said in early 2004, ‘where it is as bad as it was in the 1930s’. Measuring anti-semitism is a complicated matter, but the weight of evidence points in the opposite direction. In the spring of 2004, when accusations of European anti-semitism filled the air in America, separate surveys of European public opinion conducted by the US-based Anti-Defamation League and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that it was in fact declining. In the 1930s, by contrast, anti-semitism was not only widespread among Europeans of all classes but considered quite acceptable.
The Lobby and its friends often portray France as the most anti-semitic country in Europe. But in 2003, the head of the French Jewish community said that ‘France is not more anti-semitic than America.’ According to a recent article in Ha’aretz, the French police have reported that anti-semitic incidents declined by almost 50 per cent in 2005; and this even though France has the largest Muslim population of any European country. Finally, when a French Jew was murdered in Paris last month by a Muslim gang, tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into the streets to condemn anti-semitism. Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin both attended the victim’s memorial service to show their solidarity.
No one would deny that there is anti-semitism among European Muslims, some of it provoked by Israel’s conduct towards the Palestinians and some of it straightforwardly racist. But this is a separate matter with little bearing on whether or not Europe today is like Europe in the 1930s. Nor would anyone deny that there are still some virulent autochthonous anti-semites in Europe (as there are in the United States) but their numbers are small and their views are rejected by the vast majority of Europeans.
Israel’s advocates, when pressed to go beyond mere assertion, claim that there is a ‘new anti-semitism’, which they equate with criticism of Israel. In other words, criticise Israeli policy and you are by definition an anti-semite. When the synod of the Church of England recently voted to divest from Caterpillar Inc on the grounds that it manufactures the bulldozers used by the Israelis to demolish Palestinian homes, the Chief Rabbi complained that this would ‘have the most adverse repercussions on . . . Jewish-Christian relations in Britain’, while Rabbi Tony Bayfield, the head of the Reform movement, said: ‘There is a clear problem of anti-Zionist – verging on anti-semitic – attitudes emerging in the grass-roots, and even in the middle ranks of the Church.’ But the Church was guilty merely of protesting against Israeli government policy.
Critics are also accused of holding Israel to an unfair standard or questioning its right to exist. But these are bogus charges too. Western critics of Israel hardly ever question its right to exist: they question its behaviour towards the Palestinians, as do Israelis themselves. Nor is Israel being judged unfairly. Israeli treatment of the Palestinians elicits criticism because it is contrary to widely accepted notions of human rights, to international law and to the principle of national self-determination. And it is hardly the only state that has faced sharp criticism on these grounds.
Kindergarteners might be terrorists too: The kindergarten class at Lakewood’s Taft Elementary was planning a field trip to NASA Glenn Research Center. It’s a popular trip because it’s free, because the NASA staff already has age-appropriate tours that fit well with school curriculum, and, well, it’s outer space, for pete’s sake. They’ve got rocket ships.
And NASA works the education angle hard. According to the agency, "A major part of the NASA mission is 'To inspire the next generation of explorers . . . as only NASA can.’" And of course they talk about math and science. NASA says about 400 school groups took tours last year.
But school principal Margaret Seibel says this year’s trip for Taft kindergarteners, we’re talking 6-year-olds here, had to be canceled due to homeland security concerns.
Since new security regulations went into effect in May 1, 2005, access to the Visitor Center is restricted to United State citizens. All others might be terrorists.
No tourists from France, no exchange students from Tokyo and, no foreign national kindergarteners on field trips.
"I was told they would not make any exceptions," Seibel says.
Because two kids in the kindergarten class are not U.S. citizens, the teacher had to cancel the trip.
YET HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL…
[on the occasion of Ireland's national holiday, St. Patrick's Day, celebrated on March 17]
"Puedan cortar las flores, pero no pueden parar la primavera" [They may cut the flowers, but they can’t stop Spring] is yet another testament to the use of natural imagery and the belief in the inevitability of liberation. And with this background easily prepared, children whose eyes might otherwise glaze over at the archaic language sit in rapt attention at the recitation of Padraig Pearse's The Rebel. Many of them, like Pearse's Rebel, are "come of the seed of the people." They nod with a hint of understanding—and perhaps relief—when they learn that all downtrodden people were once vilified by their oppressors as dumb, lazy, dirty, immoral, and inferior: women, slaves, Indians, Irish, and virtually all those under colonization. It is hardly a stretch that, by the end, they share the Rebel's scorn for his tormentors and his warning to his people's masters: "Beware. Beware of the thing that is coming. Beware of the risen people, who shall take what ye would not give. Did you think to conquer the people? Or that law is stronger than life, or than man's desire to be free?" It's always an exhiliarating moment, and a potent opportunity, to invest a holiday marketed as one more excuse to party with a bit more meaning and purpose--and hope, so that one day the "tyrants, hypocrites, and liars" might tremble at The Thing That is Coming.
- Excerpt from “Saint Patrick's Day - A missed opportunity” by Daniel Patrick Welch
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “After Iraq aborts the invasion that is being carried out by the American and British villains, the USA will no longer be a superpower.” - Iraq’s former Information Minister Muhammed ‘Who’s comical now?’ Saeed al-Sahaf speaking approximately three years ago.