Saturday, April 29, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY, April 29, 2006 Photo: Anti-war activists march down Broadway, to protest the war in Iraq, with thousands of supporters in New York April 29, 2006. The marchers demanded an immediate withdrawal of troops, the same day news organizations noted April as being the most deadly month for U.S. troops in Iraq, with at least 69 killed. REUTERS/Chip East (See below "We are mainstream America") Bring ‘em on: (not confirmed) Two US soldiers killed and three other injured this morning when a person wearing a belt of explosive devices blew himself near US check point in Ramadi in Iraq. Bring ‘em on: Early Friday, the Davis family received word that Sgt. Edward Davis III, 31, had been killed in action in Iraq late Thursday. According to his father, Sgt. Davis' wife was informed around 2 a.m. Friday that his Humvee was struck by a bomb while on patrol, possibly near the Euphrates River. Bring ‘em on: U.S. Army soldier died Saturday when a roadside bomb hit his convoy near Baghdad, the military said. The attack occurred southwest of the capital at about 4 p.m. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: Roadside bomb targeting Iraqi police patrol explodes in Ghazaliyah in west Baghdad, killing one policeman and wounding two. Three dead bodies discovered by Iraqi security forces in the east of the capital. Three Iraqi policemen wounded when explosive device blows up in Saadoun Street, central Baghdad. Two Iraqi army soldiers killed and six wounded when “insurgents” open fire on their convoy in Suwera, southeast of Baghdad. Five bullet-riddled bodies found in the Tigris River. Bomb wounds two policemen in southern Baghdad's Al Amel neighborhood. ”Insurgents” with rocket-propelled grenades attack Iraqi army convoy 25 miles south of Baghdad, killing two soldiers and wounding six. Diyala: Gunmen in a village 90 miles north of Baghdad attack minibus carrying female students from Diyala University, killing a woman and her father, who was driving. Jurf Al-Sakhar: In the town of Jurf al-Sakhar, 43 miles south of Baghdad, gunmen kidnapped a policeman and his brother from their home early this morning, lined them up outside and shot them dead. Baiji: Two Iraqi officers killed when roadside bomb hits convoy carrying the police chief of Baiji. Five policemen were also wounded in the attack, apparently targeting the convoy of police chief Sufian Mustafa, who escaped unscathed. Amedi and Zaho: Turkish armed forces launch their first military operation along the Iraqi border where Turkish troops have concentrated for days. The Northern Iraqi cities of Amedi and Zaho, sheltering Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) militants, were hit with mortar attacks in "Operation Crescent." Iranian forces detain four engineers from Iraq's ministry of water who were on a boat on the Arvand River, which runs along the border and into the Persian Gulf. Iran and Iraq have long argued about their line of control on the waterway. An Anbar Province:
Qaim: Three civilians killed and seven wounded including three policemen when suicide car bomb detonates near Iraqi army base south of the town of Qaim near the Syrian border. Ramadi: Six rockets strike building of al-Anbar Province Bureau in central al-Ramadi. The scale of damage or casualties at the office, where US troops are stationed, was not immediately available, the source said. Al Malaab: U.S. fighter jet strikes targets in al-Malaab, east of the city, with smoke rising from the scene. Tal Afar: One Iraqi civilian killed and two children wounded when mortar round lands on a home in Tal Afar, 90 miles east of Iraq's border with Syria.
Al Diwaniya: Three Iraqis, including a woman, killed in roadside bomb explosion on Saturday. The bomb targeted an Iraqi police patrol and went off while a civilian car was passing in al-Diwaniya, 200 kilometres south of Baghdad, killing all its passengers. Kirkuk: Bomb blasts in Al-Courniche Street crossing (Kirkuk), result in the death of a civilian. Other blasts occured in Kirkuk but with no damages. Huwaija: Two civilians injured in blasts in Huwaija, west of Kirkuk and in the highway between Kirkuk and Tikrit. Today in Afghanistan:
Afghan security forces kill two Taliban rebels during fighting in the southern Helmand province. One Afghan National Army soldier and one policeman were injured in the hour-long clash with rebels in Kajaki district, army commander for southern military corps General Rahmatullah Raufi said. Afghan security forces hunt for Indian telecommunications worker kidnapped by suspected Taliban insurgents. The Indian and his driver were kidnapped after gunmen stopped their car on a main road in Zabul on Friday.
NEWS "We are mainstream America": Thousands of anti-war demonstrators march in New York, demanding immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and vowing a summer of protests ahead of mid-term elections in November. The protesters included national figures like civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon and the prominent anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan. The mass rally was organised by a broad coalition of groups representing veterans, trade unions, military families, environmentalists and civil rights activists. While the main focus of the march was Iraq, [chief organiser Leslie] Cagan said the rally was also aimed at protesting any plans for military intervention in Iran and at setting the domestic political agenda ahead of the congressional elections later in the year. "Today we march, tomorrow we organise and in November we vote," Cagan told cheering supporters. "We are not the fringe anymore. We are mainstream America," said Sheehan, who gained prominence when she camped outside President George W. Bush's Texas ranch last year to demand a meeting with the US leader. "To be anti- George Bush is to be pro-American," she said. Saddam’s birthday party: Some Iraqis marked what was once cause for mandatory national celebration: the 69th birthday of Saddam Hussein, the former president, who is in jail while being tried by his countrymen. In Auja, Hussein's home town, a group of about 200 young men showed some of the old spirit. A disc jockey played folk music, and guests ate cake as others chanted, "Our blood, our lives, we sacrifice for you, Saddam." Some read poetry describing the ousted leader as a symbol of the Arab nation. The birthday party went undisturbed by a passing police patrol, which left without saying anything. The town resounded with celebratory shooting and songs until midnight.
Video: Celebrations of Saddam's 69th birthday in Tikrit
Summary: Tikrit residents: "Saddam's birthday is a fest for Iraq. We would like to have him in power again." Shots: Tikrit streets, Saddam Hussein’s posters Interview with Iraqi citizen Adil Qamal, more shots of Tikrit streets (in Arabic) Interview with Iraqi citizen Abid Mohammad (in Arabic) Interview with Iraqi citizen Taleb Khamid (in Arabic)
U.S. and Iranian officials held talks on Iraq in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region "a while ago", Iraq's Al-Sharqiya television quoted President Jalal Talabani as saying on Saturday. U.S., Iranian and Iraqi officials could not confirm the report. According to Sharqiya, Talabani told Iraqi and Arab writers during a spring cultural festival that the talks took place in the lakeside mountain resort of Dukan and that discussions were "dedicated to the Iraqi issue". It said Talabani, a Kurd, expected such meetings to continue to be held, but provided no more details. Iranian and U.S. officials have said in the past that they would hold talks to discuss Iraq, without giving a date. A body found with items belonging to a Fort Benning soldier missing for 12 days was discovered Friday at a downtown hotel in Savannah, Ga. after guests complained of a foul odor in the lobby. He had returned to Fort Benning in January from a yearlong tour in Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division. REPORTS Majority of Iraqis say their country is in dismal economic shape and getting worse, with 3 of 4 respondents also describing security in the country as poor, according to a new poll conducted by a conservative American think tank. The poll reveals a population with little optimism about its economic future. The findings show that Iraqis believe jobs are harder to find, electrical service is poorer, and corruption has increased dramatically since last year. And 62 percent of respondents said Iraq is more politically divided today than in the past. The results were culled from 2,804 face-to-face interviews from across the country by the International Republican Institute in Washington. The interviews were conducted by Iraqi pollsters and included responses from the violence-ridden western Anbar province for the first time since the institute began regular opinion surveys in May 2004. Fifty-two percent think the country is moving in the wrong direction, the most since the institute's polls have been conducted, with 30 percent saying it is going in the right direction -- the lowest percentage since the polling began. A bare majority, 51 percent, believe life will be better or much better within the next five years, down dramatically from the 85 percent of Iraqis who said so in April 2005. Almost the same percentage believe security is deteriorating, though Iraqis said they overwhelmingly trust the Iraqi army and police, but not local militias, to protect them. Only 1 percent said they trust U.S.-led coalition forces for their personal protection. Video: Iraqi Sunnis flee Baghdad for tent city in Fallujah Summary: Baghdad's Sunni population has begun fleeing the capital due to violent ethnic clashes [all we know for sure is Sunnis are fleeing mysterious attacks by militia and death squads --- zig] in recent months. Nearly 25,000 Iraqi Sunnis have left their homes and migrated to Fallujah’s Saklaviye district, where the Red Crescent has built a refugee camp for them. Australian troops in Iraq say they have come under fire numerous times by militants loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr: Task group commander Lieutenant Peter Short says al-Sadr's followers have attempted to convey a message to the Australians that they are not welcome. A full 10 seconds of silence passed after a reporter asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld what the intense secrecy and security surrounding their visit to Iraq signified about the stability of the country three years after the U.S.-led invasion. Rice turned to Rumsfeld to provide the answer. Rumsfeld glared at the reporter. "I guess I don't think it says anything about it," he snapped. An Iraqi doctor tells of life under occupation: Luway Al-Salehi "Last January, according to unofficial sources, 26 doctors were assassinated in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. Physicians are in the line of fire of many entities right now in Iraq. When a member of the national guard died in my care, I was personally beaten by his colleague. Never mind that the casualty was already brain-dead when he entered the hospital, the victim of a booby-trapped car. It's happened to many doctors besides me. But going on strike, we soon realised, only deprived the citizens of necessary medical care. Still, in the last six months alone, four doctors died on the job. Violence on the streets makes the situation unimaginably painful in hospitals. There are too many injured for us to accommodate. We've even begun to spread people out on the floor. That's not to mention the constant lack of life- saving supplies necessary for wounds and burns. The numbers of dead are such that, rather than a month in the morgue, casualties are buried within three days of their photos being published if they haven't been identified. How many civilians have been killed? No one will answer that question; my conviction is that no official agency has undertaken a proper count of civilian casualties. Anyone who tries ends up fleeing the country; that was the case with some people who tried to publicise the number of corpses following the bombing of Samaraa. Despite the sanctions, the regime, the difficult material circumstances, before the occupation I for one was someone who had millions of dreams. I do not dream any more. In fact I'm often scared of my own shadow. Two kinds of Iraqis: After midnight on a bare stretch of highway near this ramshackle town last week, Staff Sgt. Jason Hoover saw what looked like a fishing line strung across the road and ordered his Humvee to a screeching halt. The cord was connected to an old, Russian artillery shell half-buried in the earthen shoulder and rigged to activate with a firm tug. Hoover traced its path nearly a half-mile though a plowed field, over another highway, and across a canal, where he found four Iraqi infrastructure policemen who were supposed to be guarding an oil pipeline. They said they had no idea what the cord was doing there. "There's two kinds of Iraqis here, the ones who help us and the ones who shoot us, and there's an awful lot of 'em doing both," said Hoover, 26, of Newark, Ohio. "Is it frustrating? Yes, it's frustrating. But we can't just stop working with them." COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS America's brutal tactics: Naturally enough, few details of what American troops do in Iraq and Afghanistan reach the nation's television screens, the main source of news for most Americans. American television takes the approach of the New York Times when it refers to professional soldiers as GIs, as though they were humble mechanics and bricklayers of America drafted into the titanic struggle against Hitler and Tojo. But if you are genuinely interested in discovering the truth, there are plenty of sources for first-hand information. And anyone taking a little time to search through some of these comes away with a sick feeling. From several ex-soldiers comes a vivid image of America's house-to-house methods of searching for "insurgents." A small block of C-4 plastique is fixed to the front door of a house, the door is blown in, and several armored giants rush through the shock and smoke with their automatic weapons at the ready. Women and children are held to one side at gunpoint, while any men are taken roughly for questioning. In most cases, the men have nothing worthwhile to say, but they and other members of their families are left with a terrifying experience they will never forget. These violent procedures have been repeated thousands of times, both in Iraq and in the mountain villages of Afghanistan. Could this be part of what Condoleezza Rice meant when she said recently in Britain that despite thousands of tactical mistakes, America's basic strategy was sound? Can you imagine her saying the same thing if Washington-area police blew her door down and stormed into her home in Chevy Chase or whatever other exclusive area she lives, perhaps looking for drug dealers or murderers, suspecting her home because she is black? Another aspect of America's crude tactics has been their way of responding to periodic mortar fire. The American forces use a high-tech radar gizmo that tracks the path of such shells supposedly to permit accurate return fire by artillery. Unfortunately the gizmo often does not work properly, and even when it does operate well, the tactics of mobile guerillas firing a shell from a truck or car and driving away leave the data of the gizmo useless. Well, not completely useless, because American artillery still responds. It's just that all they hit are innocent residences or businesses. The trigger-happy nature of Americans at check points is a well-established fact. These boys, many of them having joined up for benefits like money for college, do not want to be in these places, and they are irritated by the strange tongues and cultures and the blazing heat and sandstorms. They simply shoot first and ask questions after. I suppose this tactic might have been appropriate on the Eastern Front in World War II, but it is totally unsuited to a place you are occupying after having invaded, a place where the overwhelming majority of people with which you interact are just ordinary people going about their lives. A number of British soldiers, Britain's pathetic Blair being America's only true ally in the phony coalition America's press never fails to name, have gone on record about American tactics. These include several senior officers, an unprecedented criticism of an ally during war. What they have said to the press is that American tactics are brutal and thoughtless, almost certain in the long run to produce more enemies than friends. Few forces in the world have more genuine experience than Britain's after decades in Northern Ireland, yet all their advice is treated with contempt by arrogant American commanders and politicians. It seems both public and press have forgotten the words of Donald Rumsfeld not long after the U.S. triumphed in Afghanistan, the words being among the most shameful in American history and certainly ranking with anything a dread figure like Reinhard Heydrich uttered. On what to do with the thousands of prisoners taken in the invasion, Rumsfeld publicly stated they should be killed or walled away forever. It does appear he was taken at his word, for thousands of prisoners disappeared around the time. There are many eye-witness reports - a documentary film was made by a Scots director - about Afghan prisoners having been taken into the desert in trucks to suffocate in the blazing heat. American soldiers, if they didn't actively help, just stood around and let it happen. In the early part of the invasion of Afghanistan, tens of thousands of emergency de-hydrated food packets were dropped by American planes in some of the same areas that cluster bombs were being dropped. As pictures on the Internet testify, the bomblet canisters (pressure-sensitive cans packed with something like razor wire and high explosive) and the food packages were virtually the same optical yellow color. Imagine how many hungry peasants and children were attracted to these deadly areas by the food packets, only to be torn apart? Bad publicity all over the world did stop the Pentagon's grotesque practice, but the question of using cluster bombs near civilian populations remains. It was done both in Afghanistan and Iraq. The brave journalists of Aljazeera took dozens of pictures of what these bombs did to children in Iraq, their publication providing one of the reasons for the Pentagon's and Bush's intense hatred of the network. The revelations about the behavior of American soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison are well known, although the last round of abuse and torture pictures released did not include the worst stuff that American Senators saw in closed session a while back. It's almost as though the "tamer" stuff was released to defuse demands for more information. America's great investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has said the worst stuff included boys being raped by American soldiers. Of course we know from many sources including amateur plane spotters and flight records that America runs a gigantic secret prison system. Sources in Europe say that 14,000 are held in Iraq alone. There are also secret prisons in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, and at Guantanamo. All of these prisoners are held with no legal rights whatever, just as though they had disappeared into Stalin's Gulag. In most cases the prisoners are simply people who fought Americans in their invasions of two lands. Since when do we do this to the fighters who oppose us in war? Americans themselves in the past have joined foreign wars as idealists or as mercenaries. This happened in South Africa, various African anti-colonial wars, Central America, South America, Indo-China, Spain, and other places. It's an old tradition going back to Lafayette and Pulaski in the American Revolutionary War. The men, and boys, America now holds with no rights were doing no more than what tens of thousands of Americans and others have done previously. As I have written before, if you want the rule of law, you cannot stand outside the law and claim its moral support. What America is doing in its "war on terror" is little more than freshened-up fascism. It wants a pipeline through Afghanistan and a subservient government in Iraq, and it dresses up the brutal tactics used to achieve these goals as a war on terror. ”This guy, George W., as far as I can figure, is just a spoiled preppy“: Robert Scheer spent over 30 years interviewing American presidents and candidates since Nixon, but it was only in retrospect that he discovered a disturbing pattern. Scheer's new book Playing President: My Close Encounters with Nixon, Carter, Bush I, Reagan and Clinton -- and How They Did Not Prepare Me for George W. Bush explores the crippling effects the campaign process had on every candidate he interviewed -- and how our presidents have become increasingly out of touch with American voters. Excerpt from a Robert Scheer interview by Onnesha Roychoudhuri:
OR: You say in your book that George W. Bush is the first electronically projected president. Can you explain that? RS: This administration doesn't feel they need a mindful audience. They don't care about facts, logic or consequences. They are the most cynical people that I've ever encountered in politics. This is the most cynical bunch -- just think about that "reality-based community" quote. They create their own reality. I don't think I've ever seen that kind of cynicism before, and I'm the guy who interviewed Richard Nixon. These guys are, as John Dean keeps pointing out, far worse than the Nixon crowd because they think they can get away with it. Nixon, at the end of the day thought it mattered what the New York Times said. He felt that if there was a big contradiction, a big error, they would catch him and there would be all hell to pay. There's no longer that feeling. Over the years, I'm not getting cynical -- they're cynical. If I were truly cynical I wouldn't be talking to you, and I wouldn't be writing and teaching. Mark Twain said a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth puts its pants on. Well, the fact is the truth does get its pants on, it does catch up, and right now 65 percent of Americans think Bush lied to them. OR: Between that kind of arrogance seen in your interview with George H.W. Bush, and the showsmanship we see with Reagan, who is a better comparison to George W.? RS: As we say in the subtitle of the book, none of them prepared me for Bush. Reagan had been on the election circuit on issues. I didn't have to agree with him, but when he was a salesman for G.E. and head of the Actor's Guild, he was talking about issues of foreign policy and domestic policy. He cared about these things and collected anecdotes and information that supported his views. When he was running, he was aware of the issues and what was at stake. That was true of all of them. They were adults, and this guy, George W., as far as I can figure, is just a spoiled preppy, as he's been described. What he's done is rely on his tutors and he picked, unfortunately for us voters, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.
Diagnosing the U.S. 'national character': Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Can a nation have a coherent character? If we take the question seriously -- investigating reality rather than merely asserting nobility -- we see in the U.S. national character signs of pathology and decay as well as health and vigor. What if, for purposes of analysis, we treated the nation as a person? Scan the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (the bible of mental-health professionals, now in its fourth edition) and one category jumps out: Narcissistic Personality Disorder. DSM-IV describes the disorder as "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy" that can be diagnosed when any five of these nine criteria are met:
1. a grandiose sense of self-importance. 2. preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love. 3. believes he or she is special and unique. 4. requires excessive admiration. 5. sense of entitlement. 6. interpersonally exploitative, taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends. 7. lacks empathy. 8. often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her. 9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
Narcissistic tendencies to self-aggrandize are not unique to the United States, of course. But given the predominance of U.S. power in the world, we should worry most about the consequences of such narcissism here. This disorder is bipartisan, and is virtually required of all mainstream politicians. When the House of Representatives held hearings about the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, California Democrat Nancy Pelosi declared that America is "the greatest country that ever existed on the face of the earth." Texas Republican Dick Armey described the United States as "the greatest, most free nation the world has ever known." With a "grandiose sense of self-importance," politicians routinely ratchet up the rhetorical flourishes when asserting that the country is "special and unique." As for arrogance and haughtiness: When asked at his pre-war news conference in March 2003 whether the United States would be defying the United Nations if it were to invade Iraq without legal authorization, Bush said, "if we need to act, we will act, and we really don't need United Nations approval to do so." Bush prefaced that promise to defy international and U.S. law with the phrase "when it comes to our security," but since the invasion of Iraq had little or nothing to do with the security of the United States we can ignore that qualifier. Here the younger Bush was merely mimicking his father, who remarked in February 1991 as the United States was destroying Iraq a first time: "The U.S. has a new credibility. What we say goes." On the Gulf War and "lacks empathy": On Feb. 13, 1991, U.S. planes hit a bunker in Baghdad. Whether military planners knew it was an air-raid shelter or thought it was a "command-and-control site," an estimated 300-400 civilians died. Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, referred to this as "one downside of airpower," and said the incident led him to discuss with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf the need "to look at the target list a little more closely." Was the goal of that review to discuss civilian casualties? No, it was to question the efficiency of bombing an already bombed-out Baghdad. In Powell's words: "I asked questions like, 'Why are we bombing the Baath Party headquarters for the eighth time? ... Why are we bouncing rubble with million-dollar missiles?'" Powell, who went on to serve as secretary of state in George W. Bush's first term, was often referred to as the "dove" of that administration. Perhaps we could call this level of empathy the mark of a "tough dove." The unpleasant subject of the current Iraq war brings up "fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance." Though Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently acknowledged mistakes in the current Iraq war -- "We've made tactical errors, thousands of them, I'm sure" -- she made it clear that history will vindicate U.S. officials for making "the right strategic decision" to invade. But that small concession to reality was too much for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who responded, "I don't know what she was talking about, to be perfectly honest." While it's easy to point at the narcissism of soulless and self-indulgent leaders, this diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder applies to the country as a whole. The belief that the United States is unique -- a shining "city upon a hill" -- is deeply rooted, and for many has divine origins; 48 percent of Americans believe the United States has "special protection from God," according to a 2002 survey. The narcissism of the whole society also is evident in the widespread "sense of entitlement," defined as "unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations." This is difficult to confront, precisely because it takes root to some degree in all of us and can't be so easily displaced onto only the most overtly pathological. The vast majority of the U.S. public -- by comparison to the rest of the world -- lives an extravagant lifestyle that we show few signs of being willing to give up. We are 5 percent of the world's population and consume about a quarter of the world's energy. This state of affairs is clearly unjust, made possible by coercion and violence, not some natural superiority of Americans. Yet the vast majority of the U.S. public, and even much of the left/progressive political community, acts as if they expect this state of affairs to continue. That's real narcissism, and it's at the heart of the political problem of the United States. Even if we swept the halls of Congress and the White House clean of every corrupt and cruel politician, the deeper self-indulgence of an affluent culture would be untouched. Political activism to derail the pathological policies of those politicians must go forward. Critique of the concentrated power of the corporate elites who support those policies is essential. But the critical self-reflection necessary at the collective level also must come home to each of us. ZARQAWI SPECIAL
"How we nearly nabbed Zarqawi - again": [The story below from the Marine Corps Times, SpecOps unit nearly nabs Zarqawi, is obviously about the incident mentioned in this report as posted April 26 in Today in Iraq: "Twelve suspected Iraqi militants and a woman were killed in a U.S. raid and air strike on a house in a town just south of Baghdad, the military said in a statement on Wednesday. As U.S. troops closed in on a house believed to be used by two foreign fighters on Tuesday, they came under fire, a U.S. military statement said. "The troops initially killed five terrorists outside of the safe house and then called for an air strike," it said. "After the precision air strike, the ground troops conducted a tactical search of the destroyed safe house and located the bodies of seven more terrorists and a woman." The statement said U.S. forces were trying to determine the identity of those killed. It did not say how it was known all the men were rebels, although it said each of the dead men were wearing a magazine vest and carrying two grenades." I'd make a lot of comments, but the post is already late… I'll just note that according to the Marine Times "three other women and a child were wounded" in the attack, making it look like another massacre of an innocent Iraqi family… My emphasis in bold in the text. --- zig] Just nine days before al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi released his latest video, a special operations raid killed five of his men, captured five others and apparently came within a couple of city blocks of nabbing Zarqawi himself. Then, the day Zarqawi’s video debuted, special ops forces killed 12 more of his troops in a second raid in the same town. The raids in Yusufiyah, 20 miles southwest of Baghdad in the heart of the Sunni Triangle, were the latest battles in a small, vicious war being waged largely in the shadows of the wider counterinsurgency effort. It is a war fought by a secretive organization called Task Force 145, made up of some of the most elite U.S. troops, including Delta Force and SEAL Team 6. They have one goal: hunting down Zarqawi, Iraq’s most wanted man, and destroying his al-Qaida in Iraq organization. Zarqawi’s escape in Yusufiyah was not the first time special ops troops have nearly had him. In early 2005, they came so close they could see the Jordanian’s panicked face as he fled. The first of the two Yusufiyah raids began at 2:15 a.m. April 16 when SEAL Team 6 operators and Army Rangers approached a terrorist safe house, a U.S. special operations source said. A U.S. Central Command news release said “coalition forces” — the usual shorthand for Task Force 145 elements — were “searching for a wanted al-Qaida associate.” When the U.S. troops arrived, the enemy opened fire with small arms. In the fight that followed, the special ops troops killed five terrorists, three of whom wore suicide belts, according to Central Command. “Two of the suicide bombers were killed before either could detonate his vest, and the third detonated his body bomb, killing only himself and injuring no one else,” the news release said. A woman in the house also was killed. Three other women and a child were wounded and were medically evacuated to the 10th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad. U.S. forces detained five other occupants, one of whom was wounded. One of the five was later confirmed as “the wanted al-Qaida terrorist for whom the troops were searching,” according to Central Command. (…) Yusufiyah is Zarqawi country. Indeed, intelligence later suggested the terrorist kingpin “was probably 1,000 meters away” at the time of the raid, a special operations source said. In addition to the suicide vests, U.S. forces recovered four AK-series assault rifles, a pistol and several grenades. In an indication of the intensity of the close-quarters, indoor battle, “one grenade was found with the pin pulled, but not yet expended, in the hand of a dead terrorist,” according to Central Command. Five U.S. troops were hurt in the raid, but they have either returned to duty or are expected to shortly. Among items recovered from the safe house, the special operations source said, was a video showing Zarqawi at various times in “black pajamas with New Balance running shoes on.” The source said the video seized in Yusufiyah was the same one released April 25. One section of the video shows Zarqawi firing an M249 squad automatic weapon outside, and another depicts him sitting inside next to an M4 assault rifle. In the video, Zarqawi mocks President Bush, and makes clear his fierce opposition to attempts to establish democracy in Iraq. Produced by al-Qaida in Iraq’s “Media Committee,” the video reflects “Zarqawi’s number one thing … the information campaign,” said the special ops source. (…) Zarqawi-gate: More important than you think...: Is the threat posed by Jordanian-born terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi real? Is Zarqawi himself a fiction, as some maintain? The Washington Post's recent revelation that a Pentagon psyop unit hyped up the Zarqawi threat may turn into the next big scandal, especially since the leaked document specifices that the propaganda campaign targeted the "U.S. Home Audience." One segment of the Post story deserves special attention: One slide in the same briefing, for example, noted that a "selective leak" about Zarqawi was made to Dexter Filkins, a New York Times reporter based in Baghdad. Filkins's resulting article, about a letter supposedly written by Zarqawi and boasting of suicide attacks in Iraq, ran on the Times front page on Feb. 9, 2004. That letter, though largely forgotten in the onrush of events, attracted some attention at the time. It's a 17-page "Dear Osama" letter in which Zarqawi helpfully demonstrated a link between the insurgency and Al Qaeda. In other words, the letter fulfilled a propaganda purpose. The message to Americans: U.S. forces must stay in Iraq. Otherwise, an insurgency run by Al Qaeda will prevail. As Rachel Maddow noted on her program today (she provided some juicy sound bites), George Bush somewhat incoherently cited this very letter yesterday during a Q-and-A session with students at Johns Hopkins. Here's a segment of the official (and not quite accurate) transcript: In 2004, we intercepted a letter from Zarqawi to Osama bin Laden. In it, Zarqawi expressed his concern about "the gap that will emerge between us and the people of the land." He declared "democracy is coming." He went on to say, this will mean "suffocation" for the terrorists. Zarqawi laid out his strategy to stop democracy from taking root in Iraq. Bush said these words on the same day the Post story identified this letter as the product of an American psyops team! Incidentally, the transcript has been massaged to make Bush sound more erudite. In the original sound bite, which Maddow played on her program, Dubya's tongue slipped: He referred to this message as something we wrote, as opposed to one Zarqawi wrote. (…) Why do so many of our citizens (especially our troops) still believe in the purported alliance between Al Qaeda, Saddam and the insurgency? The Zarqawi "evidence" did much to perpetuate the legend. What we are looking at here is a true Wag the Dog scenario -- the creation of a political myth. Osama, Abu, and Ayman: al-CIA-Duh Telethon: First it was Osama bin Laden, then Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and now Ayman al-Zawahiri. In the span of a week, these three al-CIA-duh heavyweights (two from beyond the grave) have issued communiqués. "Al-Qaeda in Iraq alone has carried out 800 martyrdom operations in three years, besides the victories of the other mujahidin. And this is what has broken the back of America in Iraq," al-Zawahiri, or somebody we are expected believe is al-Zawahiri, said in a videotape released this evening. Ayman al-Zawahiri made this latest tape-or somebody in the basement of the CIA building did-from the wilds of Pakistan, Afghanistan, or from his prison cell in Iran (on February 18, 2002, the Guardian reported al-Zawahiri was imprisoned in the Evin prison in Iran). Of course, the Iraqi resistance is responsible for breaking the back of the occupation, not al-CIA-duh, the spook league of patsies and useful idiots. It is interesting to note this latest production "was first obtained by IntelCenter, a United States government contractor that does work for various intelligence agencies," according to the New York Times. According to former Army intelligence analyst and consultant William M. Arkin, IntelCenter is one of many cottage industries that have "sprung up since the early 1990's to feed at the counter-terrorism trough" and its "primary client base is comprised of military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the US and other allied countries around the world," in other words the folks who have a vested interest in making sure al-Zawahiri and the half-wit al-Zarqawi-by way of magic trick and computer graphics-check in every so often and make absurd claims, stealing the thunder of the Iraqi resistance. "American counterterrorism officials were aware of the video and analyzing it. One American official said it was part of Al Qaeda's ongoing propaganda campaign to try to demonstrate that it remained relevant," the New York Times concludes. No doubt these "counterterrorism officials" will give the video a stamp of approval, as they routinely do to most al-CIA-duh communications, even those demonstrated to be crude forgeries in short order. Naturally, "al-Qaeda" must remain "relevant" (i.e., take all the credit for the Iraqi resistance), otherwise the "long war" would soon peter and fizzle out. Osama and crew must remain front and center, lest the attention of the fickle and generally peace-loving American public turns elsewhere. (…) But never mind. Our rulers need these cardboard villains and it is brand recognition alone that drives the "long war" and its transparent propaganda effort. "In his last Internet message in March, Zawahri called for attacks on the West, urging similar strikes as those against New York, London and Madrid," the Washington Post adds, attacks that have yet to occur. Of course, as time creeps forward, and the coming maelstrom aimed at Iran picks up steam, such attacks become more likely. Bush's approval ratings are in the dumpster and with every passing day he looks more and more like Richard Nixon-although Nixon's crimes were small time by way of comparison.
BILE BITLER!: A correspondent suggests that cyber-pundits ought to replace the phrase "the Bush administration" with "BITLER" -- an acronym for "Bush's Imperialist, Totalitarian, Lawless Evil Regime." The same correspondent offers this top ten list: Q. What are the Top 10 differences between Hitler and GW Bush?
10) Hitler had a snappy brown suit. 9) Hitler could probably pronounce "nuclear." 8) George has had no luck growing 'that little mustache.' 7) Hitler once wrote a book; George has never even read one. (No, "My Pet Goat" does NOT count!) 6) Goering was never known to have personally shot an old guy in the face. 5) Germany didn't have nuclear weapons...the U.S. does. (Uh-Oh!) 4) Hitler said, "Life does not forgive weakness," which isn't quite as pithy as George's "Don't Mess With Texas!" 3) Hitler actually served in his nation's military. 2) Hitler has been described as having had "charisma."
And the #1 difference between Hitler and GW Bush aka "Bitler"...
1). Hitler was elected.
I would add a few points. In contrast to Bush, Hitler had a genuine southern accent. (I've been told that many Germans view that sort of Austrian accent the way an American yankee might view a upper-class "plantation owner" southern accent. You know the kind: "An honuh tuh make yuh acquaintance, suh!") Hitler's wore black boots with his beige Corporal's uniform. Not so snappy if you ask me. Hitler actually had a rather sizable library, which now rests somewhere in the catacombs of the Library of Congress. However, he bragged that he rarely read an entire book, start to finish; he just skimmed for the parts that he considered important. If Bush had heeded that lesson, he wouldn't have sat there for seven long minutes. He would have flipped the pages until he found out what happened to that goat. BEYOND IRAQ More Iranian "threats": The Washington Post tells its readers:
Escalating the threats between Washington and Tehran, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned Wednesday that his country would strike U.S. targets around the world in the event it is attacked over its refusals to curb its nuclear program.
I'm sorry, announcing that you will retaliate if attacked is not a "threat." Announcing that you quite possibly will attack, and that "all options are on the table," up to and including nuclear weapons, when you do -- that's a threat. Anti-Arabs policies pushing for new "Anti-West" alliance: Growing U.S. pressure on Iran amid a stand-off with Western powers over Tehran's nuclear program led to the emergence of a new anti-Western alliance, according to an editorial on The Christian Science Monitor. The article argues that the new alliance, which is centered on Iran, has gained ground in recent months after Tehran shored up old alliances and strengthened its relations with countries --Syria and Iraq -- and with groups --Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Mahdi Army of Iraq's cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who recently vowed in visits to Tehran and Damascus to defend them "by all possible means" in case of a U.S. attack. According to political analysts, the Islamic Republic, as the driving force behind the alliance, has gained its strategic role in the region through the U.S., which went after the Taliban in Afghanistan in the east and toppled the Baathist regime in Iraq to the west. "The alliance that is emerging in this part of the world is a creation of Iran," says Sami Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst. "It wants to bolster its position by allying itself with countries or groups that can temporarily enhance its regional role and influence." (...) But the August election of Mr Ahmadinejad as president of Iran reinvigorated the long-standing relationship between Tehran and Damascus, which could be seen as a geostrategic linchpin connecting Iran to Hezbollah. This reinvigoration of ties enabled Syria to display greater defiance against international pressure. In November, Mr. Assad asserted in a speech that "the region [faces] two choices: either resistance and steadfastness or chaos. There is no third choice... "If they believe that they [the West] can blackmail Syria, we tell them they got the wrong address," he said. The outcome of other elections in the Middle East also bolstered the emerging alliance. In December, Iraq's Shia parties close to Iran dominated the elections. The following month, Hamas triumphed in the Palestinian elections. In mid-January, Assad hosted a summit in Damascus with Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president's first state visit. Also attending were the leaders of Hezbollah and several pro-Palestinian groups in what analysts regarded as an affirmation of the anti-Western alliance. "The meeting between Ahmadinejad and Assad did not come as a sign of defeat, but rather as a joint warning to the world. A warning that the alliance between the two neighbors is on its way to becoming stronger," Sateh Noureddine of Lebanon's As Safir newspaper wrote at the time. Many analysts believe that this new alliance presents a new powerful challenge to the U.S.'s Middle East plans. "This is an anti-America alliance," says Joshua Landis, professor of history at the University of Oklahoma. "My guess is that the U.S. will end up in a weaker position than it started. The war on terror has alienated the Muslim countries who now believe that America is the big bad ogre and specter of imperialism." May 1st and America's New Race War: We can no longer use the term loosely --America's war against migrants is real, and the nation's rulers mean to sweep the nation's barrios the way Katrina swept the Black wards of New Orleans. And like the military operations visited upon the Black population of that city in the wake of the winds and floods, the war against migrants is a race war --one directed from the highest levels of power. The recent strikes by ICE against migrant workplaces in dozens of cities across 26 states served as a crystal clear declaration: no matter what immigration bill passes in Washington, "enforcement" is the order of the day. Whoever the government "legalizes," it means to round up the rest in massive raids, ship them en masse to detention camps, then deport them, creating an atmosphere of mass repression and terror among brown people nationwide. Everyone with brown skin will be targeted. The only question still on the table is who will be directly subject to deportation. The amnesty provisions of the bills being debated can only be summed up as part of a divide and conquer strategy. The government is laying its bet --that those who are offered a "path to legalization" will be too frightened of losing their "legal" status to resist the mass deportation of those still deemed "illegal." Such divisions are being foreshadowed today in the struggle over the May 1st Huelga General (general strike and boycott). The current division is based in denial --denial that the main aspect of government policy is a massive crackdown and ethnic cleansing --and that "inclusion" has little to do with it. The recent mass raids are part of a Homeland Security / ICE plan called ENDGAME. The plan bluntly states the aim of the Bush administration: to deport all deportable migrants by the year 2012. It's in this context that the government wants pro-migrant groups to accede to a "compromise." The simple truth is that those who are willing to take the bait -like the National Council of La Raza --are accepting terms of surrender in the war against migrants. In a Devil's bargain they are willing to sacrifice as many as 7 million people in order to save some 5 million from the most direct impacts of mass raids, detention camps and deportations. On May 1st these maneuvers will reach a dramatic climax. Those who oppose the General Strike - like the "We Are America" coalition in Los Angeles --are sending a message that resistance is futile; that we should fear an imaginary "backlash" more than the concrete plans of the government to attack our communities, and that the best we can hope for is the "mercy" of the racist Republican Right. They say they don't want us to "provoke" mass repression or legislative defeat. Fearful and trapped between the power of those on high and the power of those below, one section of the movement's middle class leadership has changed its tune. No longer is their slogan a proud, defiant and joyful "!Si, Se Puede!" but a resigned and cautious "No se puede." They want to slip the needle into the vein and put the newly awakened brown giant back to sleep. But let's make it plain, as Brother Malcolm used to say: Krystallnacht --the night of shattered glass that marked the onset of the persecution, mass deportation and ultimately the mass death of the targets of German fascism --was not a "backlash." It was, rather, the implementation of an ongoing racist intent to persecute, exclude and permanently remove unwanted ethnic groups, and to do so by any means necessary. The Gypsies, Slavs and Jews of Europe did nothing to "provoke" the Nazis; Native America did nothing to "provoke" Europe; African Americans did nothing to "provoke" lynching; the migrants of Australia did nothing to "provoke" the white population to carry out the recent anti-migrant race riots there. Such persecutions operate on their own, internally reinforced racist logic. The only thing those who were targeted had to do was exist --and be vulnerable. And no one is more vulnerable than someone whose very existence is deemed "illegal." The race and vulnerability of most migrants to the US made persecution a foregone conclusion; the writing on the wall was clear from the moment a powerful group of racist lawmakers and their media allies made an electric spectacular out of a tiny cult of ultra rightists, vigilantes and "white nationalists" who took up arms and went migrant hunting on the border. The agenda was always straightforward racist persecution enforced with guns --whether it's ICE or the Minutemen makes no difference, just as there is no essential difference between the anti-Mexican Zoot Suit Riots of the 40s, the recent anti-immigrant pogroms in Australia, official mass roundups like Operation Wetback or the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during WW2. The powers that be didn't wait to be "provoked" by impolite behavior or economic boycotts before launching the recent mass raids. In other words, nothing has changed except this: Since the mass pro-amnesty marches in Chicago and Los Angeles our potential for mass resistance against mass repression is now on the table as an absolute factor in the equation. And that's what the May 1st Huelga General is all about. It's about our power and their vulnerability, instead of the other way around. Many of those calling for the general strike understand the power of resistance, and exactly how much is at stake. Over a hundred actions in more than 60 cities are planned. Some --even in the mainstream Spanish language press, are calling on us to take as our banner not only the Black resistance of the 1960s, but to follow the example of the recent student strikes and immigrant rebellions in France, as well. The future of millions lies in the balance on May 1st --and it is the future not only of brown people, but of Blacks, whites, and of everyone who has an investment in stopping the rapidly escalating trend toward fascism in the US. If we fail on that date, there will be no chance to reunite a divided movement. If we fail on that date, a new message will be written on the wall: there was ultimately no mass resistance to the racial scapegoating essential to the development of full blown fascism in the US. The middle ground has fallen away. On May 1st we will send one of two messages: "We Resist" or "We Surrender." It's up to us to shape the future, to shape our own endgame. Everything depends on what we choose. QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The French philosopher René Decartes said I think therefore I am. For the Americans it is I cause damage therefore I am. To prove that they exist they damage.” --- Ali Larijani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and head of the Supreme National Security Council


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