DAILY WAR NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, March 8, 2006
Photo: Relatives mourn and console each other during the funeral procession of a slain Mahdi Army soldier in the Shiite district of Sadr city, in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, March 8, 2006. Three Mahdi army soldiers, the Shiite militia loyal to cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, were ambushed on March 7, 2006, by unidentified gunmen, when they were returning home, police said. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed and four wounded in roadside bomb attack near Tall Afar in northern Iraq.
Bring ‘em on: Danish soldier injured during attack against Danish convoy by unknown gunmen in Basra province's Qarnah suburb.
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
Hospital and police sources say they received five bodies shot dead by U.S. forces in Mosul. No details of the incident were available. The U.S. military said it was checking the report.
Gunmen in camouflage uniforms storm offices of a private security company and kidnap as many as 50 employees. The attackers hit the al-Rawafid Security forced the workers into seven vehicles, including several white SUVs.
Bodies of 18 men and youths who had been strangled found in a minibus parked in west Baghdad.
Bomb hidden under parked car near the University of Technology detonates as police from the interior minister's protection force drives through, killing two officers. Five other people, including a policemen, were injured in the blast. The minister was not in the convoy at the time.
Gunmen attack house of Interior Minister advisor Major General Hikmat Moussa Salman in western Baghdad, killing two of his bodyguards and wounding two.
Two bodies of men who had been shot dead discovered in west of Baghdad.
North of Baghdad, two policemen killed and eight people wounded, six of them policemen, in roadside bomb attack.
East of Baghdad, two police commandos hurt by roadside bomb.
Two people killed and three wounded, including two young girls, in car bomb attack in Fallujah.
Bomb misses American convoy on northern outskirts of Baghdad and kills two Iraqi boys selling gasoline by the roadside.
Iraqi patrol sees four gunmen pull man from trunk of a car and shoot him to death in west Baghdad.
Blast hits Iraq's Southern Oil Company headquarters in Basra, damaging one of its buildings.
The source said a mortar bomb hit the fuel section in the company. Another source in the company said the blast was caused by a small bomb planted outside the office of the director of the fuel section, but he was not hurt.
In Iskandariya, 60 kilometres south of Baghdad, driving gunmen open fire at vegetable shop killing three civilians and injuring another four, including a policeman.
Car bomb kills three Iraqi soldiers and wounds one other in the town of Khalis, north east of Baghdad.
Former brigadier in Saddam's army shot and killed in western Baghdad.
Bodies of four men found in open field in Baladiyat, a neighborhood in east Baghdad. The victims had been handcuffed and hanged, police Capt. Mahir Hamad Moussa said, noting the rope marks on their necks.
More bodies found in Baghdad: Beheaded body dumped in Amariya, six others in Rustamiy, two in Baladiyat and two in Kadamiya neighborhoods of Baghdad.
Iraqi civilian “collides” with Bradley Fighting Vehicle in east Baghdad - with predictable outcome.
US releases two Saddam-era Iraqi officials.
Al-Sadr says there is quick and radical solution to establish national government: Speaking at a press conference late on Monday with Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed Chalabi, Al-Sadr blamed some media outlets of trying to widen the gap between opposers and supporters of Al-Jaafari, the UIA's candidate for prime minister.
"I sat with all parties where we discussed this issue and there was development and understanding and there was a fast and radical solution that would satisfy all sides," he said. There is great cooperation with the Kurds and problems will be resolved quickly to allow the formation of a united national government, he said.
For his part, Chalabi who met with the highest Shiite cleric in Iraq Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani and other Shiite clerics and leaders including Al-Sadr, said Al-Jaafari was chosen by the UIA, which is the biggest bloc in the parliament. Chalabi praised the strong alliance between the Shiite and the Kurds and pointed out the latter's efforts in toppling the former Iraqi regime.
Earlier on Monday, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) said the UIA (a Shiite alliance) is still firmly in support of Dr. Al-Jaafari for Iraq's premiership regardless of the objections made by Sunnis and Kurds.
Mosul incident under investigation: Allegations that US soldiers asked 40 young Iraqi women to show their breasts at a US checkpoint are now apparently being investigated by both the US military and with assistance from local authorities in Mosul.
The Iraqirabita.org website, which first broke the story, has also confirmed this adding that Mosul Mayor Dureid Kashmoula had asked for an investigation. As hostilities against US forces apparently increased in the wake of the allegations, the US embassy sent a delegation to meet with Kashmoula.
A Captain Tracy Smith is said to be overseeing the investigation. She will meet with the bus driver and the girls over the course of the next few days and hopes to wrap up her investigation within a week.
Half the calls to a telephone hotline set up by the government to fight the Iraqi resistance are insults, Iraq’s Interior Minister Bayan Jabr Solagh complained on Saturday. Speaking at a news conference, he also bemoaned the fact the emergency line was often out of order.
State television daily broadcasts ads urging citizens to dial ”130” and report suspicious activities.
“I’m not at all pleased with this service when out of 15 lines, eight are down. We’ve tried to repair them, but I still don’t know if they are working,” he said. “Police officers answering the phones also say that half the calls are from people who want to insult them,” he added.
Television spots have depicted Iraqis from all walks of life phoning the hotline to report a kidnapping in progress, the discovery of an arms cache or the placing by Iraqi resistance fighters of a roadside bomb.
"Situation In Iraq Gets Progressively More Dangerous For Helicopters To Operate": Technology so far has proven to be of little use in protecting Army helicopters from the ravages of small arms and rocket propelled grenades, military and civilian experts contend.
The Army has spent nearly $2 billion outfitting helicopters with high-tech sensors and flares that help foil shoulder-launched missiles, but none of these devices can prevent choppers from getting shot out of the sky by rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles, which are among the preferred weapons of Iraq’s insurgency.
"The longer we stay in this conflict, the greater the ability of the insurgents to counter our countermeasures with their technology," says Steve Greer, a retired Army command sergeant major, and professor of unconventional warfare at American Military University.
Of the last three helicopters downed in Iraq, one, a Kiowa Warrior reconnaissance aircraft, was shot down by small-arms fire.
The latest war emergency funding request by the Defense Department includes funds to replace at least 100 helicopters that were lost to crashes, enemy fire and training mishaps last year.
More than 400 helicopters operate in Iraq today, according to unofficial accounts.
Roadside bomb devices get smarter and deadlier: The triggering device, a thin, plastic intravenous tube, was stretched taut across the road, invisible to the naked eyes in the approaching U.S. Army convoy.
According to U.S. soldiers, as the first armored vehicle drove over the tubing, liquid was squeezed up the IV line to the detonator of an improvised explosive device, or IED, which was buried under the road. The delayed explosion ripped through the middle of the convoy, hurling a 35-ton Bradley Fighting Vehicle 40feet into the air and killing five American soldiers inside it.
Army Sgt. Shane Roy, who helped secure the scene in northwest Iraq four months ago, said the attackers had used a 2,000-pound bomb, underscoring something he had noticed over the past year in Iraq."The IEDs are getting bigger, and the bad guys are getting more sophisticated when it comes to setting these things off," Roy said.
Other U.S. soldiers, and doctors treating the wounded, agree that IEDs, which early in the insurgency were crude weapons more likely to maim than kill, have evolved to the point that they can take out the most heavily armored vehicles in the U.S. arsenal.
The bombs are larger and more sophisticated, causing multiple deaths more often, and leaving those who survive with more traumatic injuries, doctors say.
According to figures compiled by Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a nonprofit research group that analyzes information supplied by the Pentagon, IEDs killed 407 U.S. forces last year, more than twice as many as the 197 killed in 2004. The proportion of U.S. military deaths caused by IEDs rose from less than a quarter in 2004 to nearly half of the 846 U.S. fatalities last year. In October, IEDs killed 57 soldiers, the most in any month of the war.
The 24 U.S. troops killed by IEDs in January marked the lowest monthly total in nine months, but midway through this month, 19 soldiers had been killed by the devices.
According to military officials, insurgents have increased their use of twin pressure plates, buried just below a road's surface and spaced far enough apart or triggered so that a regular-sized civilian car will not detonate the bomb, but heavy U.S. military vehicles, such as Bradleys, Humvees, Abrams tanks and Strykers will.
Just what Iraq needs: more prisons: Never mind that the country suffers from dirty water and shortages of medicine and electricity. Never mind that raw sewage regularly spills into the streets of Baghdad. Never mind that unemployment stands at over 60 percent. Never mind that of all these essential services are less available than before the invasion.
Never mind all that.
The Bush administration has determined that all the new money allocated to rebuilding Iraq should go to prisons.
"This is the one bit of construction we will be doing," the State Department's James Jeffrey told Reuters.
Iraq's anti-terrorism TV ads: In the past two years, advertisements calling for public awareness of crime and terrorism have aired on most Iraqi channels and a few Arab satellite channels.
Some have called for Iraqi unity or lamented the loss of life. Others urged Iraqis to vote.
But today I saw one that was nothing if not a sign of how debilitated and traumatized Iraqi society has become.
Two children aged nine or ten are talking about what their fathers do.
One child says his father works in the Iraqi police force. He tells how his father delivered karate kicks to the "terrorists" and with his partner managed to beat off a group of them.
As the boy tells the story, we see two policemen donning blue outfits fighting off terrorists whose faces are hidden.
"Allah, your father must be very strong," says one of the children.
The scene that shows the same two policemen in a shootout with terrorists. Bullets are flying everywhere as the two policemen manage to shoot and kill the terrorists.
The ad shows the terrorists falling to the floor dead.
When the policemen have only one bullet left between them, one of them looks down the sights of the barrel of his gun and fires it off, killing four terrorists with the one remaining bullet.
The children are amazed by this prowess. Suddenly, the policemen appear before the children and they both rise and salute them.
I found this advertisment to be a sign of the times and an indication of how Iraqi society is broken. To depict so much violence as a supposed story told between children is unbelievable.
To show that children speak so freely and openly of violence indicates that this is something they have been raised on. Thousands of Iraqi children have died since the invasion, some have been tortured in Abu Ghraib (see US military's Taguba report), which leaves me to wonder how much psychological damage has been inflicted on our children.
It is said the young are our future.
If our children are bred on this, how will they build a future of their own in coming years?
Iran, saviour of Iraq?: I am in my normal posture in Iraq stuck in traffic slumped in a taxi after a briefing with a senior Iranian in Iraq. His perspective is amazing and I emerged from two hours with him pretty convinced that if anyone is ever going to sort everything out in Iraq, they are going to need all the assistance Iran can give them.
To that end, he says he has been contacted by the US ambassador in Baghdad and asked to come and talk. Of course, the Americans want this to appear in complete secrecy. Meanwhile the Iranians, if they agree to it, and they have been asked repeatedly for six months, will want all the publicity they are capable of mustering.
It seems like a rather urgent request, especially considering the US is in full tirade against Iran on the nuclear issue as well as having its hands tied in Iraq. He showed me enough material to convince me that this is true - although it's hard to know what to do with it beyond sharing a view in a discreet column to my global snowmail audience…
- Jon Snow is a British journalist who is currently broadcasting, blogging and podcasting from Iran for the UK's Channel 4 News.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
A bodyguard of lies: When Operation Bodyguard was launched ahead of D-Day on 6 June, 1944, the military planners said: "in times of war, truth is protected by a bodyguard of lies." This was in reference to the feint that deceived Hitler's forces and paved the way for the allied landings on the beaches of Normandy. Today, the sentiment holds as true as ever, particularly when it comes to the timing and the identity of the perpetrators of the criminal attack on the Askariya Mosque in the Iraqi city of Samaraa.
As hundreds of Sunni mosques came under attack, Iranian cleric in Najaf, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani called on the Shia community to protest the attack on the shrine, but to remain restrained. He also made a veiled threat against the Americans, which was significantly downplayed in US media. He said if US forces could not maintain the security of holy shrines, his own forces would take over. It is unknown whether he was directly referring to his own militia, Ansar Al-Sistani, the Mehdi Army, or Badr.
The importance of this statement cannot be emphasised enough as it comes after much US pressure regarding death squads, Hakim's demand for more control of security, and Iran's call for a withdrawal of UK troops.
On Friday, as a general curfew managed to secure some parts of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said the attack on the shrine was the work of "specialists". Construction Minister Jassem Mohamed Jaafar, who toured Samaraa and inspected the damage incurred to the shrine, said the placing of explosives inside the dome was meticulous and must have taken at least 12 hours.
"Holes were dug into the mausoleum's four main pillars and packed with explosives," he told the media, adding that work on each pillar must have taken at least four hours. This means that the perpetrators had a free rein for considerable time to carry out their heinous crime. How did they get access to the shrine in the first place?
Initial reports said that four men, one donning Interior Ministry commando garb, stormed the shrine after dawn prayers on Wednesday, took the five guards hostage, and fled before detonating their explosive charge. They released the guards and mingled with worshippers for the dawn prayers before slipping out.
Later reports said the attackers were 10 men dressed in commando outfits and that they had been apprehended.
The shrine ought to have been protected by a contingent of 35 Interior Ministry troops, because of its particular importance to the Shia community. Questions abound. Why was the security detail reduced from 35 to only five men guarding such an important shrine? If it took at least 12 hours to plant the explosives, why did no one notice that the five police guards had been taken hostage? If it took at least 12 hours to plant the explosives, would that not have meant access to the shrine during evening prayers the night before?
Hoping to find answers and interview residents of Samaraa, Al-Arabiya news network dispatched three of its journalists, including former Al-Jazeera reporter Atwar Bahjat, herself a native of the ancient city. Sources in Iraq say she was interviewing residents when a truck full of unknown armed men abducted her as she screamed for help. Bahgat, 30, of mixed Sunni-Shia heritage, was found executed outside Samaraa, along with her cameraman and sound technician. Her field equipment and video were missing.
Iraqi websites have speculated as to why Bahgat was so brutally murdered and what became of her video material. According to the Baghdad-based Iraqi blogger, Zeyad, of Healing Iraq, quoting other Iraqi sources, Bahgat had been filming the arrest of two Iranians in Samaraa who were released when Interior Minister Baqer Jabr arrived on the scene.
This has not been independently verified.
Samaraa eyewitnesses, however, have published accounts on various websites, like www.Iraqirabita.or g, saying US and Iraqi forces had sealed off access ways to the shrine the night prior to the explosion. Some have said that Bahgat had interviewed some of these eyewitnesses.
This also could not be independently verified.
They're saying things that I can hardly believe: Did you hear about last Friday's "catastrophic tragedy" in Iraq? The handcuffed and headless bodies of 100 Shiites - "children, women and men" - were taken to Kerbala from south Baghdad, writes Iraqi blogger "Sam Hammorabi." Reputedly, Sunni militia had been killing the Shiites "every day and hour passing." The arrival of the corpses "provoked a storm of anger and cry among the people there." Hammorabi adds the dash of colour that the slaughtered children "were bloodstained all over."
I first saw this here where it was commented on with some clucking about how the Sunnis "must be suicidal," and the credulous metaphor that US forces were the cure for the cancer of Iraqi barbarity. But did it happen? That depends what you mean by happen.
Do these 100 headless corpses, children covered in blood, exist? Well no; it appears that they don't. Not beyond "Sam Hammorabi's" blog. Does this seeming fiction increase the likelihood of their existing, and many more besides? Naturally.
Back in October 2004, Hammorabi posted graphic images of children killed by a "Zarqawi" bombing in Baghdad. Funny thing about that: a Reuters crew filmed their "identical twins, who died that same day after a US airstrike in Fallujah." Why would "Sam" lift photos of children killed by US bombs and apply the atrocity to another "foreign fighter"?
Look to "Hommorabi's" links for the answer: FoxNews, The Washington Times, MEMRI, the US Embassy, and the blogger "Mover Mike" (January 2, 2006: "John Kerry promised, on national TV, to sign form SF-180 and release his military records. He has yet to do so.") Now, why would this clearly Bush-positive blogger be publishing material to incite civil war?
In a March 2 interview with Australian Television, Robert Fisk asked a similar, rhetorical question:
The real question I ask myself is: who are these people who are trying to provoke the civil war? Now the Americans will say it's Al Qaeda, it's the Sunni insurgents. It is the death squads. Many of the death squads work for the Ministry of Interior. Who runs the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad? Who pays the Ministry of the Interior? Who pays the militia men who make up the death squads? We do, the occupation authorities. I'd like to know what the Americans are doing to get at the people who are trying to provoke the civil war. It seems to me not very much. We don't hear of any suicide bombers being stopped before they blow themselves up. We don't hear of anybody stopping a mosque getting blown up. We're not hearing of death squads all being arrested. Something is going very, very wrong in Baghdad. Something is going wrong with the Administration. In the same broadcast, professional coincidentalist Daniel Pipes was as forthcoming as modesty permitted: "should there be a civil war, it is not necessarily all that bad for our interests. By no means am I endorsing it, by no means do I want one. I'm looking at it in a cool way and saying there are advantages to it."
Eighty percent of Americans have been conditioned to believe that civil war in Iraq is likely. The Iraqi government has been "assured" US forces will remain "as long as needed." (I'm fairly certain that, if I searched for it, I could find similar assurances from Leonid Brezhnev to the Czechoslovak government after the Prague Spring.) And yet, from an aid worker's email:
Since the bombing of the Al-Askari Shrine in Samarra on 22 February 2006, local media and friends have deluged the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) in Iraq with information. Iraqi Islamic television reported that the U.S. military and Iraqi police were seen at the shrine the night before it was bombed. The next morning, two shrine guards were found alive but handcuffed inside. Baghdadiya television aired the same report. The Minister of Housing and Reconstruction said the job would have taken ten men about twelve hours to set up enough explosives to do this kind of damage. We have not heard this information reported outside Iraq. The U.S. made offers to rebuild the shrine, but the Iraqi Islamic Party asked that repair be delayed until an independent investigation was completed. Samarra citizens have locked down the shrine to preserve evidence.
While the New York Times and other media focus on ethnic hatred, sectarian violence, and civil war, we receive other reports that most of the western media ignore. A team friend calls us daily with stories of Sunni/Shi'a unity, cries for peace, and the deep passion of all Iraqis to live as one family. In neighborhoods that have been hotbeds of violence, we hear of Sunni and Shi'a working together to repair and rebuild damaged mosques. Shi'a Iraqis have protected Sunni mosques in their neighborhoods. In a Basrah shrine, Sunni and Shi'a have gathered to pray together. Iraq's Shiites and Sunnis mean as much to this administration as Hutus and Tutsis did to Clinton's. The only difference may be that Rwanda was allowed to bleed, while Iraq is made to bleed. I'm still troubled by how the US refused to endorse UN action against the incitements to genocide broadcast by Rwanda's RTLM, claiming that it was "the best radio for information and that its euphemisms were subject to many interpretations." Even as the score ran into the hundreds of thousands, the US demured. (And where should we peg America's media on the long, hard slide from the end of the Fairness Doctrine to RTLM, given the likes of Ann Coulter who argued John Walker should have been exectuted "in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too"?)
Disinformation unchecked is an agent of death, but it's only by much death that some can hold dominion.
Xymphora: 'Daniel Pipes and moral obligation': You should read this amazing collection of opinions from Daniel Pipes on the desirability of a civil war in Iraq. From an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (also here; my emphasis):
"The moral one is a good one, but it's not a defining one. That is to say that we do want to help Iraqis. All of us want to see a free and prosperous Iraq, but it is not a moral obligation on us. Just because we got rid of Saddam Hussein doesn't mean that we are obligated to fix Iraq. I think the great achievement of the coalition was to get rid of this hideous totalitarian thug running Iraq. A danger to the Iraqis, the region and the outside world. That does not imply that we must - we can try - but it doesn't mean we must or are obligated - to fix Iraq.Here is a pdf of an article from 1987 (found here) by the same Daniel Pipes - along with none other than Laurie Mylroie! - advocating that the United States supply that same 'hideous totalitarian thug' with arms, intelligence and economic concessions. Who the hell is Daniel Pipes to talk about moral obligations? Given the fact that a sovereign country was attacked on the basis of very tenuous legal arguments based on lies, and the fact that Saddam's status as a thug seems to depend completely on his willingness to further Israelamerican interests, the United States is completely morally and legally liable for the damage it has done. Americans had better hope the United States stays on top, for when it is no longer on top there will be demands for reparations, and it's going to be expensive.
The phrase "war on terror" is a phony metaphor: We are not at war. Ninety-nine and 99/100ths percent of the American people are living the same way they've always lived. We have troops in Afghanistan and Iraq fighting an insurrection that our invasions of those countries caused. They are at war – a war of their own country's making – but the rest of us are not. Waving a flag or putting a bumper sticker on one's car cannot be called a war effort.
The "war" is being relegated to the inside pages, and it's a safe bet that no matter what happens in Baghdad, the Academy Awards will receive more coverage and notice than the war. In our nutty society, the choice of a comedian to emcee a Hollywood trade show is considered big, national news.
What distinguishes us from other animals is language, and when we use language not to communicate truth as best we can determine it, but to deceive, mislead, obfuscate and obscure the facts, then we are committing the ultimate sin against humanity. We are playing a dangerous game with our own sanity.
Our own journalists sanitize even their skimpy coverage of the war. The American people must not be allowed to see the real face of war, lest they withdraw their support. The real face of war, of course, is broken bodies, blood, splattered brains and innards, horrible burns and other mutilations. There are no pleasant aspects of war. So, Americans are allowed to see soldiers giving candy to children, and occasionally an explosion on the horizon or the wreckage after the bodies have been removed.
Simply stated, the revolt against the occupation (called "insurgency") is a revolution to get back the national wealth of the country:
Oil and water are the natural assets of Iraq.
Every Iraqi benefited in some way from oil, even under the petty tyrant Saddam Hussein who was a small time assassin compared to our own Warmakers.
Do you need proof that our troops stay to protect the oil profiteers?
Do you need proof that our troops stay to protect the oil profiteers?
Ask yourself "When did I last see a press report on or a film about the oilfields in Basra or northern Iraq, or anywhere else in the country for that matter?"
The answer is probably "never." This writer has not seen one since the 1991 withdrawal from Kuwait when we saw distant panoramas of burning oil wells on the horizon as far as the eye could see. Then, Brown and Root, Halliburton and others, came in to put out the fires, and the Warmakers have never left.
Why don’t Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney pose for photo ops beside a drilling rig, refinery or pumping station in what is the second largest oil reserve in the world?
The answer is simple. THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO REMEMBER THE OIL.
Riverbend: And the Oscar Goes to…: It’s Oscar time once again. We’ve been bombarded with Oscar propaganda for nearly a month now. MBC and One TV (a channel from the Emirates) have been promising us live Oscar coverage since January. It seems like all the interviews and programs for the last week at least have been about the Oscars- Barbara Walters, Oprah, Inside Edition, Entertainment Tonight- it’s an endless stream of Oscar nominees and analysts.
Now I’ve seen the nominees- we see them every year- and I’ve come to a conclusion- Iraqis need an award show. While the Hollywood glitterati make good entertainers, our local super stars, Hakeem, Jaffari, Talabani, Allawi et al. make GREAT entertainers. This last year we’ve seen several dramas unfold and our political leaders have been riveting!
So… not to be outdone by Barbara Walters and Oprah Winfrey- we bring you the Baghdad Burning Oscar Special!! Except, for our award show I suggest we change the name of the little statuette from Oscar to something more local and familiar. (Oscar is too close in pronunciation to the Arabic word “Iskar” which means “get drunk”. Should we use “Oscar” I fear the award show would be hijacked by Sadr’s religious militia, hence I would like to suggest the “Sayid” Awards!)
Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, we bring you the nominees for the 2006 Sayid Awards!
Nominees for Best Actor:
Ibraheim Al-Jaffari in “Free Iraqi Elections” for his attempted portrayal of a non-sectarian, independent PM of a ‘legitimate’ Iraqi government.
George W. Bush in “OIF: The War on Terror” The third sequel to the original “Operation Iraqi Freedom: Weapons of Mass Destruction” and “Operation Iraqi Freedom: Liberating Iraqis”. Bush’s nomination comes for his convincing portrayal as the worlds first mentally challenged president.
Bayan Baqir Solagh in “Torture Houses”, for his world-class acting as the shocked and indignant Iraqi Minister of Interior during the whole torture houses scandal.
Abdul Aziz Al Hakeem in “Men in Black [Turbans]” as the deeply devout Mullah pretending to be independent of his masters in Iran.
Abdul Hameed in “Fickle” for his compelling portrayal of a victimized pro-war, then suddenly anti-war, anti-occupation Sunni politician.Nominee for Best Leading Actress:
Condi Rice in “Viva Iran!” as the vicious Secretary of State in the charade to stop Iran’s nuclear power program (in spite of Iranian control in Iraq).Nominees for Best Supporting Actor:
Jalal Talbani in “Kaka President” (Kaka = Kurdish word for 'brother') for his attempt at playing the ‘legitimate’ leader of the New Iraq (and although, technically, he’s the star of the movie, we nominate him for best ‘supporting’ actor as the PM managed to upstage him all year).
Dick Cheney in “OIF: The War on Terror” for his role as the devoted, fanatical VP and his relentless insistence that all goes well in Iraq.
Muqtada Al Sadr in “Viva Iran!“ as the young, charismatic, black-turbaned spiritual militia leader intent on protecting Iran from all harm and promoting tolerance between Sunnis and Shia (in spite of his Sadr militia responsible for vandalism and attacks against Sunnis and secularists).
Scott McClellan in “OIF: The War on Terror” and "Denial" best known for his ability to keep a straight face while reading through White House press briefings.Nominees for special effects:
Ahmed Al Chalabi in “Disappearing Act” for his magnificent evaporation from the Iraqi political scene this year. Mr. Chalabi is quite the master of illusion and received a previous nomination for his disappearance from Jordan in “The Petra Bank Scandal”.
“OIF: The War on Terror” (originally called “My Daddy’s War”) produced by Washington neocons, including Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc.
“Free Iraqi Elections”- produced (and directed) by Abdul Aziz Al Hakeem et al. and his army (quite literally) of supporters (the Badrists).Best motion picture:
“OIF: The War on Terror” starring George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condi Rice and others. A riveting drama set in Iraq. Rated “G” for ‘Gullibility’ and “R” for ‘Republican”.
“Disappearing Act” starring Ahmed Al Chalabi, Adnan Al Pachachi, and Ghazi Al Yawir.
“Free Iraqi Elections”- A black comedy based on the farfetched theory of free elections under foreign occupation starring Abdul Aziz Al Hakeem, Ibraheim Al-Jaffari and Muqtada Al Sadr.
“Kangaroo Court” - starring Saddam Hussein, Barazan Hassen, and various judges, prosecutors and lawyers.Many honorable mentions:
First and foremost, an honorable mention to Bush’s speech writers. It must be the most difficult job in the world writing scripts to make George W. Bush sound/look not great, not even good- but passable. It must also be challenging having to write speeches using words with a maximum of two syllables.
An honorable mention to the Saudis for their support of Sunni extremists and Wahabis, the Iranians for their support of Shia extremist, and Americans for their support of chaos.
And so, as our Green Zone glitterati retire to their camps to celebrate their great victories, Iraqis wonder what wonderful, new cinematic opportunities await. There is much talk that a block buster is in the works - in the pre-production stage of this years most anticipated psychological thriller "Iraqi Civil War".
Iran threatens United States with "harm and pain": "The United States has the power to cause harm and pain," said an statement delivered by the Iranian delegation and later repeated to reporters by top nuclear negotiator Javad Vaidi. "But the United States is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if that is the path that the U.S. wishes to choose, let the ball roll."
The statement did not elaborate on what Iran meant by "harm and pain," and Iranian officials were not immediately available to comment. But diplomats accredited to the meeting and in contact with the Iranians said the statement could be a veiled threat to use oil as an economic weapon.
Book review: 'Biowarfare and Terrorism' by Francis A Boyle: Before I even begin to review this 'weapon of critical information', I urge you not only to buy it but when you've finished reading it (it's real short, so it shouldn't overly tax our attention-deficit culture), post it to your MP, Congressman, Senator, the UN, your vicar/priest/imam/holy man/rabbi; give it to your neighbour, teacher, workmate, brother, sister, mum and dad. In short, shout it out from the rooftops; that the US government is an international criminal of staggering proportions and the entire Bush administration should be indicted as war criminals and every last one locked up and the key thrown away.
Okay, what are we dealing with here? Boyle's short and impassioned book deals with the US government's illegal multi-billion dollar biological weapons programme. A programme, that as Boyle makes abundantly clear presents itself as "defensive" but of course, in order to produce a 'defense', requires the development of offensive bioweapons.
In fact, the penalties involved for engaging in even the research into biological weapons under US domestic law are life imprisonment and under certain circumstances, even the death penalty as well as impeachment for the president (followed rapidly one hopes by life imprisonment).
What makes Boyle's book so important is that the man, almost single-handedly was responsible for all the major legislation, both domestic and international covering the outlawing of biological weapons, in particular the Biological Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989.
Boyle reveals one particularly and very relevant aspect of its bioweapons development programme; the use of countries such as Iraq to "weaponize" these novel biological agents; in other words, get Iraq to test the damn things out on Iranian troops! This is precisely what happened when the Reagan government supplied them to Iraq, via the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"ATCC is a large private-sector scientific institute that cultures and stores every known type of disease occurring in nature for supposedly scientific purposes. It is therefore striking to note that both ATCC and CDC went along with the Reagan administration's wanton breach of BWC by shipping these weapons-specific bio-agents to Iraq." (p.32)And, not surprisingly, it's the same gang of ultra-right, anti-communists that accompanied the Reagan years who, like the bioweapons programme, had been biding their time, and were resuscitated under Bush Sr, just in time for 'Operation Desert Storm' and the forced innoculation of US (and UK) troops with both anthrax and botulin toxin vaccines
"not only prior to vaccine approval by the F.D.A. but without their informed consent and thereby in clear violation of the Nuremberg Code on Medical Experimentation." (pps. 39-40)And no wonder, as nobody knew that the
"Reagan administration had surreptitiously shipped these weapons-specific biological agents to Iraq, and it was felt that Saddam Hussein had weaponized the anthrax and botulin toxin." (p.40)Boyle makes the criminality of the US actions abundantly clear
As always, the first illegal misstep compelled the second, which was criminal. Accordingly, what were then only experimental medical vaccines were injected into 500,000 U.S. armed forces deployed for Gulf War I by the Bush Sr. administration, as well as into the British troops similarly designated, turning the entire project into a massive live experiment, the results of which-due to its irregularity and indeed illegality-neither the scientific research community nor the Pentagon were able to counteract, since records of the effects of the vaccines were systematically NOT kept... As of today, more than 11,000 U.S. troops have died-but not from combat-and most of the rest suffer from the Gulf War Syndrome (GWS)." (p.41)The scale of this crime against humanity surpasses that of the Nazi medical experiments conducted on the unfortunate occupants of the concentration camps. We are talking here about almost 600,000 human beings experimented on by the US government, without their knowledge or consent. And we are not even considering the crime of the effects of depleted uranium on both 'coalition' forces and the Iraqi population.
Boyle sums it up as follows
"Bush Sr., Cheny, General Colin Powell ... General "Stormin'" Norman Schwarzkopf, and the rest of the U.S. military High Command inflicted a Nuremburg Crime on United States armed forces by forcing them to take these experimental medical vaccines in violation of the Nuremburg Code on Medical Experimentation." (p.41)Biowarfare and Terrorism by Francis A. Boyle, Clarity Press Inc, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 2005. $12.95
Who is profiting from this global uranium nightmare? Dr. Jay Gould revealed in his book THE ENEMY WITHIN [see excerpt], that the British Royal family privately owns investments in uranium holdings worth over $6 billion through Rio Tinto Mines. The mining company was formed for the British Royal family in the late 1950's by Roland Walter "Tiny" Rowland, the Queen's buccaneer.
Born in 1917 through illegitimate German parentage, and before changing his name, Roland Walter Fuhrhop was a passionate member of the Nazi youth movement by 1933, and a classmate described him as "...an ardent supporter of Hitler and an arrogant, nasty piece of work to boot."
His meteoric rise and protection by intel agencies and the British Crown are an indication of what an asset he has been for decades to the Queen, as Africa's most powerful Western businessman.
Africa and Australia are two of the main sources of uranium in the world. The Rothschilds control uranium supplies and prices globally, and one serves as the Queen's business manager.
Filmmaker David Bradbury made BLOWIN' IN THE WIND to expose depleted uranium bombing and gunnery range activities contaminating pristine areas of eastern Australia, and to expose plans to extract over $36 billion in uranium from mines in the interior over the next 6 years. Halliburton has finished construction of a 1000 mile railway from the mining area to a port on the north coast of Australia to transport the ore.
Stateless in Somalia, and Loving It: Somalia has done very well for itself in the 15 years since its government was eliminated. The future of peace and prosperity there depends in part on keeping one from forming.
As even the CIA factbook admits:
"Despite the seeming anarchy, Somalia's service sector has managed to survive and grow. Telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent. In the absence of a formal banking sector, money exchange services have sprouted throughout the country, handling between $500 million and $1 billion in remittances annually. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate, and militias provide security." To understand more about the country without a government, turn to The Law of the Somalis, written by Michael van Notten (1933-2002) and edited by Spencer Heath MacCallum, sheds light on the little known Somali law, culture and economic situation. Somalia is often cited as an example of a stateless society where chaos is the "rule" and warlords are aplenty.
The BBC's country profile of Somalia sums up this view as widely publicized by the mainstream media: "Somalia has been without an effective central government since President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. Fighting between rival warlords and an inability to deal with famine and disease led to the deaths of up to one million people."
The first sentence is indeed true: when the president was driven out by opposing clans in 1991, the government disintegrated. The second sentence, however, depicts Somalia as a lawless country in disorder. As for disorder, Van Notten quotes authorities to the effect that Somalia's telecommunications are the best in Africa, its herding economy is stronger than that of either of its neighbors, Kenya or Ethiopia, and that since the demise of the central government, the Somali shilling has become far more stable in world currency markets, while exports have quintupled.
As for Somalia being lawless, Van Notten, a Dutch lawyer who married into the Samaron Clan and lived the last dozen years of his life with them, specifically challenges that portrayal. He explains that Somalia is a country based on customary law. The traditional Somali system of law and politics, he contends, is capable of maintaining a peaceful society and guiding the Somalis to prosperity. Moreover, efforts to re-establish a central government or impose democracy on the people are incompatible with the customary law.
Customary laws develop in a country like Somalia in the absence of a central legislating body. Rules "emerge spontaneously as people go about their daily business and try to solve the problems that occasionally arise in it without upsetting the patterns of cooperation on which they so heavily depend" (Van Notten, 15: 2005). Van Notten contends that the Somali customary law closely follows the natural law and therefore should be preserved.
The extended family is the core of Somali society. Families descended from common great grandparent form a jilib, the basic independent jural unit, and a number of jilibs in turn form a clan. Each family, jilib, and clan has its own judge, whose role is to facilitate the handling of disputes by deciding where the liability lies and what compensation should be paid. For example if a man is murdered, the murderer's clan gives the victim's clan one hundred camels (the blood price). Verdicts are widely discussed, and a judge who does not base his decision on norms prevailing in the community is unlikely to be asked to settle further disputes. Thus while a judge may form his own principles, his customers will decide his competence as a judge.
An important discussion centers around democracy. In 1960, when the British and Italian colonizers withdrew from Somalia, they formed the government of the Republic of Somalia as a democratic entity. Nine years later, the country was under a dictatorship. Through these events, according to van Notten, many Somalis realized that they could return to their traditional form of governance founded on independent clans.
Nevertheless, since 1991, the United Nations has made efforts to promote the establishment of a democratic government in Somalia. Van Notten strongly argues that such government is incompatible with the Somali customary law, which prizes life, liberty, and property. He asserts that democracy is not even a viable option:
"When the electorate is composed of close-knit tribal, religious, linguistic or ethnic communities, the people invariably vote, not on the merits of any issue, but for the party of their own community. The community with the greatest numbers wins the election, and the minority parties then put rebellion and secession at the top of their political agenda. That is nothing but a recipe for chaos." (van Notten, 127; 2005) Van Notten contends that the argument that a central government is a prerequisite for making treaties with foreign government agencies is flawed because the Somalis have long dealt with foreign governments and their agencies on a clan-by-clan basis. A common ministry of foreign affairs would pose a grave danger because it would undermine the customary law. He suggests that clans sharing a common interest could appoint a private company as their common agent. Van Notten and MacCallum further dispute that a central government is needed to provide "public" services. They propose the establishment of freeports, land-leasing, and commercial insurance companies. Certain sectors such as telecommunications have been thriving in Somalia's free market and government regulation could only hinder their growth.
Questions arise as to rampageous warlords when discussing a country without a central government. Van Notten explains that warlords exist because of the efforts to form a central government, not because of its absence:
"A democratic government has every power to exert dominion over people. To fend off the possibility of being dominated, each clan tries to capture the power of that government before it can become a threat. Those clans that didn't share in the spoils of political power would realize their chances of becoming part of the ruling alliance were nil. Therefore, they would rebel and try to secede. That would prompt the ruling clans to use every means to suppress these centrifugal forces... in the end all clans would fight with one another." (van Notten, 136; 2005) He thus asserts that efforts by the United Nations are not only futile, but also harmful to the Somalis.
Whatever Happened to Courage?: Why do we tolerate the kind of government we now have? Why do we allow it to rape and plunder the earth that provides the sweet gift of life, and divvy up the profits among the rich? Why do we sit by quietly and allow the invasion and occupation of sovereign nations by the armed forces? Why do we allow our government to fleece the poor by providing eternal welfare to the rich? Why do we allow this government to represent the interest of the wealthy by neglecting the needs of the many? Why do we allow those in power to stealthily pilfer our civil rights, our hard won liberties with hardly a whimper of indignation or protest? How do we allow our government to cripple and assassinate democratic governments all over the world and call it democracy? How do we allow those in power to steal our elections without filling the streets with massive and unrelenting protests? How do we allow the practice of extraordinary rendition to occur under our watch? Why do we tolerate the intolerable while keeping a smile on our bright faces? Why do we allow the charade of the neocon agenda to continue and offer little more than token resistance? What does it take to make us angry and indignant to the point of rebellion? I could go on indefinitely.
Our predecessors in the labor and civil rights movements chose to die on their feet rather than live on their knees by bowing down to unjust authority. They would not allow themselves to be intimidated into submission even by armed goon squads under the employ of the company bosses. Not only did they stand on their own two feet, erect like real citizens—they stood for the principles that this country was supposedly founded upon. They fought and died for them. If there are no longer causes worth fighting and dying for, surely life is not worth living. As Dr. King pointed out, this is spiritual death. Are we a nation that is experiencing spiritual death?
Without courage and self sacrifice in the public interest, there can be no justice. The future will be forged by putting our professed beliefs to the test of action. What good is faith that cannot be put into action for the common good? As surely as day follows night, justice follows courage. Let each of us ask ourselves : What are we made of? What, if anything, do we stand for? There are no safe positions of neutrality. Which side are you on? Are we creating the kind of history that will make our great grandchildren proud? Is it the kind of history that will inspire them to be free; or is the kind of history that will assure their servitude to the masters of war?
It is far better to fight and die for just causes, even against impossible odds, than to live in the perceived safety of indifference and complacency that characterizes our time. Our dance of life on this earth is short. We seriously delude ourselves if we think there is safety in capitulation to unjust authority. Our spirits thirst for justice. The organizing principle of life itself is not competition—survival of the fittest; it is mutual cooperation, looking out for the welfare of others. This is what makes life worth living. The public interest is a far nobler cause than private wealth and industrial slavery.