Thursday, March 16, 2006
DAILY WAR NEWS FOR THURSDAY, March 16, 2006
Photo: Unidentified masked gunmen fire at a government building, in Ramadi, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, March 14, 2006. Gunmen fired three mortar rounds targeting a U.S base and a government building on Tuesday in Ramadi. Police said one civilian was killed during an exchange of fire between gunmen and U.S. forces. [Incident apparently reported in this photo caption only.] (AP Photo)
U.S. launches largest air assault since invasion, targeting insurgent strongholds north of the capital, the military said. "More than 1,500 Iraqi and Coalition troops, over 200 tactical vehicles, and more than 50 aircraft participated in the operation," the military statement said of the attack designed to "clear a suspected insurgent operating area northeast of Samarra," 60 miles north of Baghdad.
The military said the operation was expected to continue over several days against insurgent targets in Salahuddin province, where Samarra is a key city. The province is a major part of the so-called Sunni triangle where insurgents have been active since shortly after the U.S.-led invasion three years ago. Saddam Hussein was captured in the province, not far from its capital, Tikrit.
Hundreds of Kurdish protesters destroy memorial to 1988 gas attack in Iraqi town of Halabjay, setting the museum ablaze on the 18th anniversary of the deaths of 5,000 local people. A hospital official said one man was shot dead in the violence, which erupted when a gathering to commemorate the attack turned into a protest over poor local services.
A local journalist working for Reuters said he saw police and Kurdish Peshmerga militiamen fire warning shots to disperse the protesters as they stormed the one-storey, circular museum that serves as a potent reminder of the 1988 attack. "We have received one body and eight wounded people," said a doctor in Halabja's Malabar hospital. The doctor said the dead man was 19 years old. Immediately after the riot, Kurdish security forces sealed off the town and confiscated video tapes from some journalists.
Halabja -- synonymous around the world with atrocities against civilians that are blamed on Saddam Hussein -- is a small town about 260 km (160 miles) northeast of Baghdad in Kurdistan, the largely autonomous region which has its own government.
The violence could be embarrassing for Kurdish leaders, who have managed to keep the Kurdish north stable while a raging insurgency and a wave of sectarian violence has swept the rest of the country. "The Kurdish government exploited Halabja to draw world attention to the plight of the Kurds and get donations that have never reached us," one angry protester told Reuters.
Witnesses said residents had gathered outside the museum to remember the attack but began shouting angrily when Shahu Mohammad Saed, a representative of the Kurdish government, appeared. Residents, who complain many buildings in Halabja are dilapidated and that electricity and water supplies are poor, had met the previous day to decide to bar government officials from attending the ceremony.
When Saed tried to placate the crowd, people grew angrier and stormed into the museum, setting fires that destroyed displays reconstructing the gas attack, photographs of the victims and glass cases containing the clothes of some of the dead. Three local journalists working for Reuters saw the building gutted by fire.
Three civilians killed and six wounded when gunmen attack checkpoint manned by U.S. and Iraqi army personnel near Ramadi.
Translator working for U.S. military and his son killed and four members of his family wounded when gunmen attack their house in Baiji 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad.
Three student girls killed when roadside bomb explodes near school in al-Ghalbiya town near Baquba 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad.
Four college students shot dead by gunmen in Mosul.
One civilian killed and two wounded when roadside bomb explodes near U.S. patrol in Mosul.
Roadside bomb hits convoy of cars used by chief of staff of Iraqi armed forces in small town of Tuz south of Kirkuk, but Babakir Zebari, head of all Iraqi forces, was not present. The attack wounded three bodyguards.
Four bodies found in different parts of Baghdad.
OTHER IRAQ NEWS
Detainee dies “of apparent natural causes” at Abu Ghraib.
Iraq's parliament meets briefly for first time since it was elected in December but talks on forming a national unity government are deadlocked: What might have been the crowning moment of a U.S.-backed political process that began with the invasion three years ago to overthrow Saddam Hussein, was reduced to 20 minutes of protocol that did little but meet a constitutional deadline. "It is just something we have to get off our backs," one senior parliamentarian told Reuters. "Then we'll go and sit at the negotiating table and yell at each other."
With no agreement among Shi'ites, Sunnis, Kurds and others on the posts of speaker, president, prime minister or cabinet members, no substantive business can be conducted. Even the keynote address by Adnan Pachachi, the oldest member and acting speaker, was cut short by a powerful Shi'ite Islamist leader when Pachachi, a secular Sunni, launched into a criticism of "sectarian domination" -- a clear attack on the past year's rule by the Shi'ite-led interim government.
"We have to tell the world there will be no civil war among the Iraqi people. The risk is there," the patrician Pachachi, who was foreign minister in the 1960s, told the 275-seat chamber in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone government compound.
Iranian official says Tehran ready to begin talks with U.S. over Iraq, It was the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that Iran has officially called for dialogue with the United States.
Abizaid doesn't rule out long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq: Abizaid [told a House of Representatives subcommittee ] that policy would be worked out with a unified, national Iraqi government if and when that is established, "and it would be premature for me to predict".
"Clearly our long-term vision for a military presence in the region requires a robust counter-terrorist capability," Abizaid said. "No doubt there is a need for some presence in the region over time primarily to help people help themselves through this period of extremists versus moderates."
Abizaid also said the United States and its allies have a vital interest in the oil-rich region. "Ultimately it comes down to the free flow of goods and resources on which the prosperity of our own nation and everybody else in the world depend," he said.
Representative David Price, a North Carolina Democrat, questioned "what kind of signal that sends to the American people and to the Iraqis and the region ... if somehow there is ambiguity on our ultimate designs in terms of a military presence in Iraq".
To protesters' cries of "war criminal" and "murderer", Condoleezza Rice in Australia defends U.S.'s role in Iraq: Speaking to students at the University of Sydney's Conservatorium of Music, Rice said she understood why people found it hard to be positive about Iraq when all they saw on their television screens was violence. "I am confident that the Iraqis will triumph, that we will win in Iraq but we must be patient with these people," said Rice, who repeatedly thanked Australia for being among the first allies to send troops to Iraq.
Soon after Rice began her speech, two protesters were removed from the room after shouting "Condoleezza Rice you are a war criminal" and "Iraqi blood is on your hands and you cannot wash that blood away". About 15 minutes into her address another protester interrupted her speech when she referred to freedom. "What kind of freedom are you talking about, you are a murderer", said the demonstrator before being led away.
Reuters asks Iraqis: "Is your life better or worse than under Saddam?": "Where is the new democracy? Why is this happening to us?" asked Hamad Farhan Abdulla, 57, a farmer from south of Baghdad who came to the city morgue looking for the body of his nephew, who he feared had fallen victim to death squad killers.
*"The ghost of death chases us everywhere," said Thanaa Ismail, a 45-year-old teacher from the mainly Shi'ite southern city of Diwaniya. "I have cancer and need treatment in Baghdad but security has got worse and I've had to skip some sessions."
*"Life has no meaning at the moment and our fate is unknown," said Na'im Kadum, a 33-year-old unemployed man from Diwaniya. "I don't see any improvement and I am pessimistic."
*"If the percentage of the good life was one percent before, it is zero percent now," Salim Mahmood, 46, said gloomily as he sold tea and coffee near a Baghdad restaurant.
*"It was better under Saddam. Now we have chaos and we have lost our security. Our country is in a big mess now," said Baghdad housewife Kareema Hussein, 46.
*"Security, and life in general, was better under Saddam's regime," said housewife Hameeda Hussein as she went shopping in Najaf, a southern city where Saddam's military used tanks and helicopters to crush a poorly armed Shi'ite uprising in 1991.
*"The situation was better under Saddam, at least I could walk at night and go to other provinces. Now, we can't move about freely," said Talib Moosa, 30, as he sold chocolate on a Baghdad street.
Living in a very big jail: Thanks to one of the first executive orders issued by L Paul Bremer, the Bush-appointed head of the Coalition Provisional Authority that was then ruling from Baghdad, all government-owned enterprises, with the exception of the oil industry itself, were shut. This was in preparation for a privatization program considered crucial by American economic planners. Unemployment swept through Baiji, generating bitterness, inspiring a variety of protests and eventually energizing what had until then been an exceedingly modest resistance to the US presence.
In late 2003, in response to this growing discontent, the US initiated what Washington Post reporter Ann Tyson characterized as "heavy-handed sweeps through Baiji ... [that] left many people angry, frightened and humiliated". She quoted Adil Faez Jeel, the director of the oil refinery, saying the sweeps only solidified support for an armed resistance: "Most of the people fighting the Americans tell me they do nothing for us but destroy the houses and capture people ... There are no jobs, no water, no electricity."
By late 2004, Baiji's guerrillas were strong enough to take control of the town in response to the American conquest of Falluja. In addition to skirmishes with US troops and Iraqi police, the guerrillas began to sabotage pipelines around the refinery and to attack oil trucks. At one point, they launched a mortar attack against a mixed American and Iraqi National Guard patrol in the center of town, triggering two days of running battles. A doctor at the local hospital told the Agence France Press that at least 10 civilians were killed and 26 wounded in the ensuing melee.
For the next year, Baiji was out of the news, largely because the American military was busy with massive sweeps in the west of Anbar province. In late 2005, however, the Americans returned to Baiji, characterized at the time by Tyson as "firmly in the grip of insurgents".
According to US military sources, this pacification attempt was provoked by suspicions that guerrillas were using Baiji as a staging area for attacks in Mosul and Baghdad, and - more immediately - by evidence that, while targeting oil pipelines and convoys, they were also siphoning off a significant proportion of the refinery's output for sale on the black market to finance their activities. A resistance supporter in Baiji told Inter Press Service reporters Brian Conley and Isam Rashid that that these efforts were meant to stop what he considered an American "theft" of Iraqi oil.
The Americans temporarily closed the refinery and sent in the 101st Airborne Division to retake Baiji. For a month, virtually no progress was made in pacifying the city, while American casualties were high. A quarter of the 34 soldiers in one platoon suffered casualties of one sort or another. Sergeant 1st Class Danny Kidd, a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, attributed the hard going to the fact that Baiji residents supported the guerrilla fighters: "They have the place locked down. We have almost no support from the local people. We talk to 1,000 people and one will come forward."
The degree of this support was illustrated by a gruesome incident during the early weeks of the campaign. Captain Matt Bartlett, accompanied by a convoy of tanks and personnel carriers, sought information from a tribal chief about a group of bombmakers suspected of operating in the chief's domain. The convoy was cordially greeted by the sheikh's children, who accepted the officers' gifts and "traded high-fives with them". Bartlett was told, however, that the sheikh was hosting a large gathering and could not meet him that day. Preparing to leave, the Americans found the street blocked by people and cars, apparently part of the gathering. They were directed instead down a dirt route along the Tigris River nicknamed "Smugglers' Road".
A few hundred yards down the road, bordered by fields, the convoy was hit by a massive explosion. Behind the blast, First Sergeant Robert Goudy jumped out of his Humvee and ran forward toward the huge cloud of smoke and debris. As it cleared, he was confused by what he found.
"I saw this big piece of flesh and thought it was a goat or cow. I thought, 'Wow, these guys put an IED in a dead animal'," he recalled. He went on, hoping to find his men sitting in the truck. But as he got closer, he recalled: "I didn't see the truck. I started seeing limbs and body parts." Goudy tripped over what was left of one soldier. Then he found the only survivor of the five soldiers in the Humvee, blinded and screaming.
"It was horrible," Bartlett said. "We had to pick up body parts 200 meters away." The Humvee was "ripped in half and shredded", he said, by a monster bomb later found to contain 450 kilograms of explosives and two antitank mines, with a 155mm artillery round on top.
Goudy and the other survivors were "convinced Iraqis living nearby knew about the bomb but did nothing to warn them". In fact, it appears that they participated in luring the convoy into a trap. The soldiers' thoughts naturally turned to revenge: "I felt so angry and violated ... We all wanted to go out and tear up the city, kick down the doors, shoot the civilians, blow up the mosque."
Subsequent reports from Baiji contain no accounts of such acts of revenge, but the incident, and the failure of other strategies to pacify the city, led to an official escalation of the American assault. According to the Army Times, the new strategy was modeled after "walls built around Falluja and Samarra in recent months [that] have quelled restive insurgent cells". An earthen barrier was constructed around Siniyah, the most rebellious neighborhood in the city. Checkpoints were set up to stop "all vehicles leaving or entering ... as soldiers look for known insurgents, bomb-making materials and illegal weapons".
These draconian measures disrupted normal life. Anyone with business inside or outside the community could not reliably pass through the checkpoint: college students interrupted their education; employees lost their jobs.
Sumiya, a 33 year old Siniyah housewife, who spoke on the phone to Conley and Rashid, described the situation inside the community of 3,000: "Siniyah has become a real battlefield now, and the occupation forces have destroyed many of our homes ... 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."
One resident commented to the Inter Press Service reporters, "We live in a very big jail for three thousand"; while a local cleric told the Army Times that Siniyah had become "a concentration camp".
British veterans of the Iraq war suffering "Vietnam effect" after returning home to face hostile public, according to one of Britain's foremost experts on post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr Chris Freeman says the increasingly unpopular decision of the government to ignore public opinion and go to war has placed an additional burden on servicemen.
Freeman, who has treated nearly 20 Scottish veterans at his Edinburgh clinic, said: "Gulf War Two has changed society's attitude to soldiers. It has become our Vietnam. There have been no heroes in this war. Two-thirds of this country didn't want [Iraq] to happen and that has a massive effect on the men who come home."
Freeman, a consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist, says that, unlike the Falklands and first Gulf War, veterans of the Iraq conflict - which began almost exactly three years ago - face additional pressures. "Servicemen know they have been involved in something deeply unpopular, which has spiralled out of control," he said. "That is another burden on them."
A study by the respected medical journal the Lancet suggests that more than 600 UK servicemen have been injured in the Iraq conflict - nearly three times more than the official figure of 230 issued by the Ministry of Defence.
So far, 103 British servicemen have died in Iraq. The military faced years of negative publicity over Gulf War syndrome and allegations that troops were poorly equipped for the first Iraq war. Now the first signs are emerging that Iraq war veterans feel they have been abandoned.
Toby Elliott, executive director of Combat Stress, a charity for veterans suffering mental health problems directly linked to their military service, said: "The troops have become part of the problem rather than the solution in Iraq."
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
WHAT IS THE U.S. ROLE IN IRAQ'S "SECTARIAN VIOLENCE"?
Free Iraq blog: The Sadr city massacre ... A Black Operation by the American Intelligence?
Muqtada Al-Sadr has pointed out that:
"the American forces had provided an air cover, with several drones circling the Sadr city, and then cutting off all wireless communication throughout Sadr city, just before the setting off of the six car explosions that resulted in the death of around 60 people and the injury of 200 others in Sadr city on Sunday."
Al-Sadr: The cars exploded under American air cover (In Arabic) March 13, 2006 [link]
'President' Talabani, meanwhile (in the same item above), accused "Takfiris (a.k.a. Al-Qaida) and Saddamist terrorists" for the attack, not mentioning that Al-Mahdi Army is in total control of Al-Sadr city (on the ground but not over its air space), and would only allow known 'faces' to enter their city.
There is also a recent report that a police patrol in Basrah had captured, last Thursday (March 9, 2006) night, three persons in the act of planting a bomb near the Iraqi Islamic Party headquarters in Basrah. Upon investigation, they found out that the three were British wearing Arabic garb in disguise. Immediately afterwards, the British army arrived and arrested the police patrol along with their captives. The British then released the British captives and detained the Iraqi policemen.
Basrah police capture three British wearing Arabic garb (In Arabic) March 12, 2006 [link]
More agents-provocateurs in Iraq: There are yet more agents-provocateurs shenanigans in Iraq, including an American 'security contractor' caught driving alone in Tikrit during the daytime curfew with explosives in his car. Hit men have used children to carry their guns both to and away from the crime scene, so the shooters aren't caught 'holding' by the police. Having a private contractor deliver the explosives to the place of the provocation avoids the problem faced by the British military who were caught in Basra dressed as Arabs with a vehicle full of explosives. You just have to keep the private explosive delivery service separate from the military explosive planting operations.
US-Backed Death Squads Kill Thousands In Iraq: Faik Bakir, the director of the Baghdad morgue, has fled Iraq in fear of his life after reporting that more than 7000 people have been killed by Iraqi interior ministry death squads in recent months, John Pace, the outgoing head of the UN human rights office in Iraq, told the March 2 British Guardian. Pace said the Baghdad morgue has been receiving 700 or more bodies a month. The figures peaked at 1100 last July - many showing signs of torture.
"The vast majority of bodies showed signs of summary execution - many with their hands tied behind their back. Some showed evidence of torture, with arms and leg joints broken by electric drills", said Pace. The killings had been happening long before the recent spate of sectarian killings following the February 22 bombing of a Shiite mosque in Samarra.
The Guardian reported that "Pace, whose contract in Iraq ended last month, said many killings were carried out by Shia militias linked to the interior ministry run by Bayan Jabr, a leading figure in the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI)". SCIRI is the main party in the coalition of Shiite religious parties that heads the US-backed Iraqi government. "The Badr brigade [SCIRI's militia] are in the police and are mainly the ones doing the killing", said Pace. "They're the most notorious."
The Western corporate media seized upon the upsurge of killings that followed the Samarra mosque bombing to claim that Iraq is on the verge of "civil war" between its Shiite Muslim majority and its Sunni Muslim minority. The implicit and often explicit message that has accompanied the "Iraq-is-on-the-brink-of-civil-war" stories is that only the presence of the US and other foreign occupation troops is preventing Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis from massacring each other.
During the US war in Vietnam, supporters of the war also claimed that the withdrawal of US troops would lead to a "bloodbath" - while the US war machine slaughtered at least 3 million Vietnamese. The Western media claims that a "premature" withdrawal of the US occupation troops from Iraq will lead to a religious civil war there serve the same purpose - attempting to discourage domestic support for the immediate withdrawal of all those troops.
According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released on March 6, "eight in 10 Americans believe that recent sectarian violence in Iraq has made civil war likely", Reuters reported on March 7. The poll found that "fewer than 20 percent of respondents support an immediate withdrawal of all US troops". However, 52% support a phased withdrawal over the coming year.
While the official White House line is to deny that Iraq is on the brink of a sectarian civil war, in the wake of the Samarra bombing at least one high-ranking US official has publicly given it credence. In testimony to the US Senate armed services committee on March 3, John Negroponte, the US national intelligence director, warned that "if chaos were to descend upon Iraq or the forces of democracy [i.e., the US occupation forces] were to be defeated in that country ... this would have implications for the rest of the Middle East region and, indeed, the world".
Negroponte was Washington's ambassador in Iraq from June 2004 to April 2005 - precisely at the time that the recruitment of local deaths squads was being considered in Washington.
In January 2005, Newsweek magazine reported that the "Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration's battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the US government funded or supported 'nationalist' forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers."
According to the Newsweek report, Pentagon chiefs were considering the recruitment of death squads from among SCIRI's Badr militia, which had been incorporated into the US-recruited Iraqi security forces, to target Sunni resistance fighters and their sympathisers.
Negroponte would have been the man most qualified to supervise the implementation of such a death-squad program. While US ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985, he supervised the recruitment by the CIA of local death squads from the Honduran army and police, and the arming of Nicaragua's anti-government contras.
Negroponte wasn't the only veteran of Washington's "dirty wars" in Central America to be brought into Iraq while the "Salvador option" was being considered. The November 16 New York Newsday reported that the interior ministry's commando units had been built up "over the past year under guidance from James Steele, a former [US] Army Special Forces officer who led US counterinsurgency efforts in El Salvador in the 1980s. Salvadoran army units trained by Steele's team were accused of a pattern of atrocities."
A brutal "dirty war" has grown out of the fertile soil of the U.S. occupation: On March 15, 2004, the New Statesman published an article by Stephen Grey, titled "Rule of the Death Squads," about the murder of Professor Abdullatif al-Mayah in Baghdad on January 19, 2004, 12 hours after he had appeared on Al-Jazeera to denounce the corruption of the Iraqi Governing Council.
Grey quoted a senior commander at the headquarters of the U.S.-installed Iraqi police, "Dr. Abdullatif was becoming more and more popular because he spoke for people on the street here. He made some politicians quite jealous . . . You can look no further than the Governing Council. There are political parties in this city who are systematically killing people. They are politicians that are backed by the Americans and who arrived to Iraq from exile with a list of their enemies. They are killing people one by one."
The exile groups who began this dirty war in the early days of the occupation have come to form the core of successive governing institutions established by the United States. Their campaign of killing and torture has evolved and become institutionalized and their victims now number in the thousands. The State Department and U.N. reports do not address the possibility of a direct U.S. role in the campaign, but the Interior Ministry units that are most frequently implicated in these abuses were formed under U.S. supervision and have been trained by American advisors. The identities of their two principal advisors only reinforce these concerns. They are retired Colonel James Steele and former D.E.A. officer Steven Casteel, and they are both veterans of previous dirty wars.
In El Salvador between 1984 and 1986, Colonel Steele commanded the U.S. Military Advisor Group, training Salvadoran forces that conducted a brutal campaign against the civilian population. At other stages in his career, he performed similar duties during U.S. military operations in Cambodia and Panama. After failing a polygraph test, he confessed to Iran-Contra investigators that he had also shipped weapons from El Salvador to Contra terrorists in Nicaragua, leading Senator Tom Harkin to block his promotion to Brigadier General. Until April 2005, Steele was the principal U.S. advisor to the Iraqi Interior Ministry's "Special Police Commandos," the group most frequently linked to torture and summary executions in recent reports.
Steven Casteel worked in Colombia with paramilitaries called Los Pepes that later joined forces to form the A.U.C. in 1997, and have been responsible for most of the violence against civilians in Colombia. Casteel is now credited with founding the Special Police Commandos in his capacity as senior advisor to the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
Knight Ridder interviewed Steven Casteel for their story. He blamed the killings on "insurgents" impersonating commandos. As the article pointed out, this raised "troubling questions about how insurgents are getting expensive new police equipment. The Toyotas, which cost more than $55,000 apiece, and Glocks, at about $500 each, are hard to come by in Iraq, and they're rarely used by anyone other than Western contractors and Iraqi security forces."
Iraqis question whether the chaos unleashed on their country by the United States is the result of incompetence, as most Americans assume, or of a more sinister and deliberate design to destroy their country and society. In fact, setting aside the privatized paradise of Western investment envisioned by a few neoconservative dreamers, U.S. goals in Iraq are fairly limited and don't have much to do with the people of Iraq at all. They can be summarized as "lily pads" (U.S. bases) and oil, and a "government" in the Green Zone to legitimize access to both. The fate of the Iraqi people is only a major concern to U.S. policymakers to the extent that it threatens to impact these primary goals.
Viewed from this perspective, the reactive twists and turns of U.S. policy in Iraq since March 2003 make a lot more sense: abandoning all but the oil ministry to looting; failing to "reconstruct" anything but the Green Zone and U.S. bases; the alternating marginalization and rehabilitation of different political and sectarian figures and groups; the seemingly counter-productive collective punishment and brutalization of the population; and, underlying everything, the political division of the country along sectarian and ethnic lines and the manipulation of these divisions to prevent the formation of a government that rejects U.S. objectives.
In this context, whether U.S. policymakers realized it or not, a smashed Iraq was always going to serve U.S. goals better than a resurgent, independent Iraq under any government. The dirty war advances U.S. policy by terrorizing the population, as explained in the Newsweek article, but also by transforming nationalist resistance into internecine conflict between Iraqis, leaving U.S. forces secure in their bases. Indeed, U.S. casualty figures have fallen as Iraqi casualties have increased since the bombing of the Golden Dome in Samarra three weeks ago.
'Divide et impera' a classic colonial strategy: It is now clearer than ever before that the blueprint for Iraq from the very start was to deliberately allow the country to descend into chaos and encourage Muslim to kill Muslim as the Neo-Con juggernaut of ethnic cleansing roars on to steamroll its next victim.
We don't even need to cast our eye over recent incidents to know that staged managed events and psychological operations are taking place in Iraq. The Pentagon admitted that the April 9 2003 Saddam statue toppling was orchestrated not by joyous Iraqis but by a Marine colonel, with a psychological team using loudspeakers to urge onlooking Iraqis to assist.
Close angle shots of the scene broadcast live worldwide gave the impression that crowd numbered in the hundreds and not the 50 or so who were actually there.
In September 2005, British SAS were caught attempting to stage a terror attack by disguising themselves as Arabs and attacking Iraqi police. The soldiers were arrested and taken to a nearby jail where they were confronted and interrogated by an Iraqi judge.
The initial demand from the puppet authorities that the soldiers be released was rejected by the Basra government. At that point tanks were sent in to 'rescue' the terrorists and the 'liberated' Iraqis started to riot, firebombing and pelting stones at the vehicles injuring British troops.
The only news outlet to ask any serious questions was Australian TV news which according to one viewer gave, "credibility to the 'conspiracy theorists' who have long claimed many terrorist acts in Iraq are, in fact, being initiated and carried out by US, British and Israeli forces."
Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena's car was fired upon and an Italian secret service agent killed during their escape after Sgrena was told by the group that kidnapped her that a threat to kill her if Italian troops didn't pull out of Iraq wasn't made by them. Sgrena wrote articles condemning torture at Abu Ghraib and more dangerous to the US, articles about the use of napalm in Fallujah. The Pentagon admitted they would target non-embedded journalists before the war even started. The BBC's Kate Adie reported,
WHEN A WAR CRIME IS NOT A WAR CRIME
" I was told by a senior officer in the Pentagon, that if uplinks --that is the television signals out of... Baghdad, for example-- were detected by any planes ...electronic media... mediums, of the military above Baghdad... they'd be fired down on. Even if they were journalists."This means that Rumsfeld's Ministry of Truth in Iraq is putting out false statements by fake Jihad groups to try and maintain the facade that the resistance is run by brutal terrorists under the direction of Al-Qaeda/Iran/Syria or whoever else they want to bomb next.
Every high profile kidnapping brings with it eyewitness reports of white men in suits and police carrying out the abductions.
Throughout history we see the tactic of divide and conquer being used to enslave populations and swallow formerly sovereign countries by piecemeal. From the British stirring up aggression between different Indian tribes in order to foment division, to modern day Yugoslavia where the country was rejecting the IMF and world bank takeover before the Globalists broke it up and took the country piece by piece by arming and empowering extremists.
The agenda to maintain division and ethnic tension in Iraq can be seen as long term plan and the only way to finally capture and enslave a country that has historically thrown out its occupiers on every occasion.
That agenda was again underscored recently when Daniel Pipes, a highly influential Straussian Neo-Con media darling, who told the New York Sun that a civil war would aid the US and Israel because it would entangle Iran and Syria and enable those countries to be picked off by the new world empire without the need to sell a direct invasion to the public.
Stephen Zunes, professor of Politics and chair of the Peace & Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, recently wrote,
"Top analysts in the CIA and State Department, as well as large numbers of Middle East experts, warned that a U.S. invasion of Iraq could result in a violent ethnic and sectarian conflict. Even some of the war's intellectual architects acknowledged as much: In a 1997 paper, prior to becoming major figures in the Bush foreign policy team, David Wurmser, Richard Perle, and Douglas Feith predicted that a post-Saddam Iraq would likely be "ripped apart" by sectarianism and other cleavages but called on the United States to "expedite" such a collapse anyway."
"One of the long-standing goals of such neoconservative intellectuals has been to see the Middle East broken up into smaller ethnic or sectarian mini-states, which would include not only large stateless nationalities like the Kurds, but Maronite Christians, Druze, Arab Shi'ites, and others. Such a policy comes not out of respect for the right of self-determination - indeed, the neocons have been steadfast opponents of the Palestinians' desire for statehood, even alongside a secure Israel - but out of an imperial quest for divide-and-rule. The division of the Middle East has long been seen as a means of countering the threat of pan-Arab nationalism and, more recently, pan-Islamist movements." The machinations of the Machiavellian's are unfolding according to plan. Let Iraq cascade into chaos and dilute the insurgency by manipulating it to become fractious and watch in-fighting ensue. Blame Iran and Syria for the anarchy (a sentiment echoed by Rice during the cartoon riots) and then move the troops in to decapitate two more rogue nations.
A far more sinister force at play? Can we believe the media when they refer to "suicide bombers" or "sectarian violence" without evidence? Isn't the moniker "suicide bomber" loaded with political bias; suggesting crazed, Muslim fanatics who have no regard for their own lives or the lives of others? Where's the proof? Couldn't it be a device that the media purposely uses to reinforce racial stereotypes and, thus, support the war-effort?
The same rule applies to sectarian violence. The phrase "sectarian violence" is meant to imply that this is not America's war at all, but that we are simply innocent bystanders keeping the warring parties from killing each other.
The term "sectarian violence" suggests that the media knows who is detonating the bombs, provoking ethnic tensions, and producing the mountains of carnage.
But do they? Most of them are locked up in the Palestine Hotel all day, polishing up the narrative they are provided by the Pentagon.
The media reports what they are told to report and most of it is nothing more than the verbatim statements from administration and military officials.
Who could read the papers or listen to the news and not draw that very same conclusion?
Perhaps, there is a far more sinister force behind the seemingly random bombings that alternate between Shiite and Sunni communities. Perhaps, they are being ignited by people who want to see Iraq broken up into mini-statelets that are less threatening to the occupying army? Perhaps, they are part of a massive covert operation intended to weaken resistance and spread anarchy throughout the region?
Road to Iraq blog: Six months old baby and 4 children killed in U.S. Raid. You can see how American media telling the news about Iraq, just watch the headlines:
Iraqis Say 11 People Killed in U.S. Raid
Watch the language "Iraqis say", something like Iraqis are fools and you don't have to believe them, a "sub-human" as one SAS member said it.
The criminals, they killed a 6 months old baby and 4 children, the oldest is 11 years old.
Killing innocent Iraqis became a daily habit for the American forces.
Will anybody do something to stop these mass murders?
Sheeps and cows will.
(apologize for generalizing...with Americans I mean certain ....only)
U.S. kills, media helps hide the truth: Let's start with the headline in today's story of tragedy and war crimes: "Iraqis Say 11 People Killed in U.S. Raid." Oh, "Iraqis say," do they? Not quite. After the second paragraph of the story tells us "the military said only four people were killed -- a man, two women and a child," we eventually make our way down to the ninth paragraph where we learn that there's a little more than the word of the "Iraqis": "Associated Press photographs showed the bodies of two men, five children and four other covered figures arriving at the hospital accompanied by grief-stricken relatives."
So, even with AP photographers on the scene documenting the atrocity, as "hard" and non-circumstantial as evidence gets, the AP still gives a "he-said, she-said" credibility to the ludicrous claim of the U.S. military that only four people were killed.
As to the actual story, well, what can be said that hasn't been said hundreds of times before? Why were these 11 people killed? "The U.S. military said it was targeting and captured an individual suspected of supporting foreign fighters for the al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist network." But much higher in the article, we were told that "the U.S. military acknowledged the raid and said it captured one insurgent." So it now appears it wasn't an "insurgent" at all, but a suspected supporter of resistance fighters. And based on that suspicion, the U.S. was willing to use warplanes and armor to flatten a house (a curious way to attempt to "capture" someone, incidentally), inside of which they had no idea who was present, and in the process to kill 11 people.
By the way, the first sentence of this post contains the phrase "war crimes." You knew that phrase didn't come from the AP article, didn't you?
Postscript: CNN reports the story something like this: "U.S. troops report that they were shot at from the house, and they returned fire." Sorry, attacking a house with bombs and tank shells is not just "returning fire." It's a complete and callous indifference to the possibility that any non-combatants might be inside, even if you accept the right of the U.S. troops to be there in the first place (which of course I don't). The Angry Arab: I saw parts of the Saddam trial. I still get quite annoyed when I see Ramsey Clark sitting there. I mean, can he not find more deserving more poor and innocent victims who so desparately need legal counsil? I must confess that the new judge is much better than the old one. Having said that: I believe that, as we say in Arabic, what is based on falsehoods is false. Whatever takes place under foreign occupation lacks legitimacy. The trial of Saddam should have been an international trial, and it is not because the US wants to keep it under control. Too many damaging information may leak, especially about Saddam's years of honeymoon friendship with US. But Saddam requires a judge like the current one to make him look exactly as he is: pathetic and oblivious to his human rights record. But then the decision to close off the trial, or parts of it, only fuels the imagination of Arab viewers, and I suspect that this was an American decision.
The cartoons as a propaganda offensive: Unending imperial adventures have led to the militarization of politics but a militarization with a difference. Like war today, politics disguises its infinite lust for blood under the smiling face of reason; but also like war today, politics wages its most important campaigns not on terra firma at all but in the invisible battlefield of the mind. American intelligence may keep watch over the globe sleeplessly, it might probe the heavens and test the depths of the ocean, it might "own the night"; but it is in inner not outer space that the war is won or lost today.
William Lind, a cultural conservative and military analyst, has described the transformation of military strategy in the modern West from line and column attacks, to the massed fire-power and synchronized order of World War One, to the war of disruption and maneuver of the Germans -- the blitzkrieg, and finally to non-state war between cultures in which mental and moral force takes precedence - which he calls fourth-generation war. Americans, he thinks, have no idea that in the new mental war, the political leaders of the West, pampered and protected from the wars they initiate, have none of the moral charisma of a leader like Osama who lives ascetically in caves and mountains, subjecting himself to the same rigors that his followers undergo. The West he argues is losing the moral war to Islam from lack of understanding of the role played by the mental and psychological element in warfare.
Lind is somewhat misleading here. If the West is losing the moral war, it is not because it hasn't grasped the power of the mental element in war. It has grasped it only too well. Millions, indeed billions, have been poured into both corporate and political propaganda since the days of Edward Bernays and Walter Lippman. Decades of research into mind control, behavioral modification, and psychological torture have yielded their strange fruits today in the perverse cruelties of Abu Ghraib and the staged histories of PR firms. The airwaves and the Internet are clogged with the fog of fourth generation war as intelligence hirelings masquerade as journalists and poison public perception with lies and distortions.
In fourth generation war, there is no distinction between state and society, soldier and civilian The psyche of the target population is attacked as viciously an that of an enemy on the battlefield through elaborate psychological operations and black propaganda which have the sole object of humiliating and destroying the sense of self. Of wiping out cultural identity. This was the technique at work in the sexual torture of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo and it is the technique at work in the cartoons [depicting Mohammad]...which are of a piece with the desecration of the Koran, the shaving of beards, and the sexual taunting and torture of men and women that took place in the prisons.
It is not for nothing that Rafael Patai's The Arab Mind has remained "the most popular and widely-read book on the Arabs in the U.S. military" in the training of special forces. Patai's racist tract argues that force and humiliation are the only measures that the "Arab mind" understands.
No, in the confrontation between the West and the "Rest', if the "Rest" commands the moral high ground, it is not because of lack of Western propaganda, but because the moral high ground cannot -- yet -- be taken or held by propaganda alone but needs reality to back it up. It is not for lack of propaganda that the world is outraged by the Iraq war but because Iraq in fact was the innocent victim of a criminal attack. It is not perception that drives global anger against America -- and the West -- but reality. The reality of what the American empire has done and continues to do in the Middle East and other places, sometimes directly, sometimes through the murderous company it keeps.
From that perspective, the publication of the cartoons looks very little like free speech and very much like an attempt to change the moral equation between the West and Islam. It perfectly fits the pattern of covert actions well known to us from the Cold War. Sophisticated actions such as NATO's Gladio-style European operations whose real objective was to discredit social democracy.
Just so, the cartoons appear to be an offensive intended to justify Western anti-Muslim bigotry.
But what is less remarked is that the cartoons also -- and perhaps primarily -- appear to be a propaganda offensive directed against not only Muslim but Western populations; they seem calculated to negate the ever increasing disrepute of the Iraq war here, to retake the moral high ground, and prime us for a new war against Iran.
The Black Mud of Bush/Blair Propaganda: It is not enough for those gentlemen of rectitude, the oh-so-Christian Coalition of George Bush and Tony Blair, to snatch innocent people from around the world and plunge them into a black hole of torture and anguish for years on end. No, even in those rare instances where they finally spit out a victim after grinding his body and mind to bits, they cannot let him rest. They pursue him to the ends of the earth, trying to taint his reputation with slander, innuendo and black propaganda fed to willing media accomplices -- anything to muddy the waters, to keep the truth about their despicable enterprise from emerging fully into the light.
Victoria Brittain, writing in The Guardian, shows us how it's done in Trial by Spin Machine. Excerpts: The coincidental release of Michael Winterbottom's prize-winning film about the young men from Tipton, Road to Guantánamo, and Moazzam Begg's book, Enemy Combatant, predictably brought the US and British spin machines into full swing last week - so that anyone reading the book or seeing the film would have got the idea that these men may have been badly treated, but they certainly were not innocent.
Last week the Daily Telegraph flagged an exclusive on its front page. "Begg told FBI he trained with al-Qaeda," was the headline over a full-page article by Con Coughlin, the paper's security correspondent, using an FBI report which, as Begg's book explains, was written by two FBI agents. After Begg had been tortured, threatened with death, offered a job undercover by the CIA, and come to believe he would never see his family again, he signed the "confession", confident that it was so illiterate and inconsistent that no court of law would accept it as having been written by an educated man such as himself. Coughlin had a copy of the book from the publishers, so - assuming he read it - knew all this as he prepared his piece, which has so damaged Begg.
I'm more and more convinced that it will be Republicans, many of them of the true conservative and realist kind, who effectively will do in the Bush Administration: In this, I am reminded of the behavior of Richard Nixon when he realized that he was fast losing his middle-class, bourgeois base: He called it quits on the Vietnam War, and likewise on his presidency after his crimes were exposed. But unlike Nixon's crew, Bush&Co. seem willing to take the country down with them, so desperate are they to hold onto power, deplete the treasury, pay off their corporate friends, carry out their ideological revolution -- and keep themselves out of the federal slammer.
The crimes of the Bush Administration are so many and varied that none of us should be surprised by anything that might happen in the coming weeks and months: Bin Laden captured or reported killed, a U.S.-Israeli air assault on Iran's nuclear facilities, a major terrorist attack inside the U.S. to be followed by martial law, the announcement of a bird-flu outbreak with the military placed in charge. I'm pretty level-headed and don't usually think in these dire terms, but these guys have backed themselves into a tight political corner and are desperate -- and dangerous.
Bush is at 34% approval rating (Cheney is at 18!), and their scandals are blowing up in their faces: Katrina lies and incompetence; Iraq lies and incompetence; the Dubai Ports deal and incompetence; GOP bribery and corruption; Libby under indictment and Rove apparently about to be; Bush claiming authority to authorize torture, spy on millions of American citizens and violate the law whenever he incants the magic words "national security"; Congress rebelling at being frozen out of decision-making, etc. etc. But in the face of all that, the Roveian M.O. is always to attack their foes and to hype the fright quotient.
The Administration didn't have to consider the most extreme options until recently, when the wheels started falling off the Bush bus. The attacks were no longer coming mostly from liberals and Democrats; more and more, they were coming from loyal conservative Republicans, who, cognizant of the sinking poll numbers, saw the handwriting on the wall: They realized they could well lose their majorities in the House and Senate -- in other words, severed from their jobs and access to the spoils of power -- and they started distancing themselves from the Administration.
So, friends, when we're down in the dumps, depressed by the fact that Bush&Co. are still in power even in the face of all their lies and bumblings and policies that result in thousands of people getting killed and maimed and tortured, let us consider that even their once-loyal rats are deserting the sinking ship of state.
The thought of nearly three more years of Bush&Co. misrule is too horrible to contemplate. So let's ratchet up the pressure, incorporate distressed GOP moderates and conservatives into the impeachment momentum, and send the Bush Bunker crew packing and return the country to reasonable people dedicated to a restoration of Constitutional rule of law and a realistic foreign policy. It's the least we can do for our country.
Dutch immigrants must watch racy film: The camera focuses on two gay men kissing in a park. Later, a topless woman emerges from the sea and walks onto a crowded beach. For would-be immigrants to the Netherlands, this film is a test of their readiness to participate in the liberal Dutch culture.
If they can't stomach it, no need to apply. Despite whether they find the film offensive, applicants must buy a copy and watch it if they hope to pass the Netherlands' new entrance examination. The test - the first of its kind in the world - became compulsory Wednesday, and was made available at 138 Dutch embassies. The test is part of a broader crackdown on immigration that has been gathering momentum in the Netherlands since 2001.
There are some major exemptions. EU nationals, asylum-seekers and skilled workers who earn more than $54,000 per year will not be required to take the 30-minute computerized exam. Also, citizens of the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and Switzerland are exempt.