Tuesday, April 11, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, April 11 2006 Photo: "The translator working with the Iraqi forces and their U.S. counterparts is fearful insurgents will learn his identity. He wears a skull bandana mask a U.S. soldier sent him from Arkansas (by Kimberly Johnson, in flicker.com)". Three US soldiers killed during clashes in Al-Anbar Province , Multinational Forces in Iraq (MNF) said in two statements on Tuesday. Two soldiers were killed during a military operation in Al-Ramadi, the capital of Al-Anbar Province, on Sunday, he MNF said. A third soldier died Sunday just a day after sustaining injuries during clashes in Al-Anbar, the forces added. The statements did not elaborate on the clashes; however, Iraqi security sources said that fierce fighting erupted in Al-Ramadi and nearby Fallujah over the past two days. Bring ‘em on: Armed insurgents and government forces on Monday engaged in fierce fighting in the town of Fallouja west of the Iraqi capital killing at least 10 people, a source of the interior ministry said. At least 60 people were wounded in the five-hour battle that ended at sundown, the source told KUNA. Hospital sources in Fallouja said 10 Iraqis including six army soldiers were killed in the clashes, and witnesses said policemen were seen involved in evacuation of casualties from the scenes of the fighting. Situation in the town turned calm after the gunmen withdrew, he said, adding that the fighting broke out when the armed men attacked an American Army patrol, inflicting casualties and knocking out one vehicle. The interior ministry reported that an officer was apprehended on charges of complicity in terrorist attacks and leaking information to Al-Tawheed and Jihad group.
AP Says Falluja Again "The Insurgent Stronghold": 4.9.06 Associated Press BAGHDAD, Iraq It's Freedom Day in Iraq, marking the third anniversary of the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad, but there's been no holiday from insurgent violence. As Iraqi troops beefed up security in the capital, many residents tried to relax and schools were closed. Reports from the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah say classes there are in session in defiance and denial of the holiday.
Bring ‘em on: Pfc. Joseph I. Love, 22, of North Pole, Alaska, died in Balad, Iraq, on April 9, when an IED detonated near his HMMWV during convoy operations. Love was assigned to the 94th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 8th Sustainment Command (Theater). Bring ‘em on: Reports of injuries among US military Tuesday after an army vehicle struck a roadside bomb on the Ramadi-Khalidiyah highway, Iraqi security sources said--smoke could be seen billowing from the US patrol vehicle. Bring 'em on: IHLAS video - Roadside bomb attack targets US convoy in the Iraqi city of Ramadi’s al-Melap district on Monday. One tank was destroyed. There are no reports of deaths or injuries.
Shots of incident area, destroyed tank Close-up destroyed tank, Iraqi teenagers Sound of guns, Iraqis, incident area
Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi soldiers die during firefight with “insurgents” in Ramadi that ended when US troops stepped in and imposed a curfew on the western Iraqi city. Bring ‘em on: Explosive charge targets a US patrol near Kirkuk's industrial area opposite the Kirkuk Mill. There was no immediate report about the damage. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: Bus bomb kills at least three Iraqis and seriously wounds seven others in Al-Sadr City. An Iraqi security source told KUNA "The bomb exploded inside a mini-bus at 1:05 pm near a gas station in Al-Dakhil St., one of the main streets of the city killing at least three people, wounding seven others and damaging two civilian cars. Car bomb explodes near Baghdad restaurant frequented by police killing at least five people, including three policemen. The blast also wounded 13 people, including one policeman. Explosive device blows up in Al-Zaafaraniya neighborhood south Baghdad targeting an Iraqi police patrol wounded one Iraqi policeman and another civilian. Iraqi civilian wounded when bomb targeting Iraqi police patrol explodes near school in Al-Douriya area. Mortar round hits home in northern Baghdad, killing a man and wounding four members of his family. Gunmen kill metal worker in the Shurta neighborhood. Policeman and civilian wounded when a roadside bomb goes off near a police patrol in the Zafaraniya suburb. Iraqi Police comes across 11 bodies, two of which for Iraqi soldiers, in Al Masayyib village, some 60 kilometers to the south of Baghdad. Jurf al-sahkar: Bodies of four Iraqi soldiers who had been beheaded found in Jurf al-Sahkar, 80 km south of Baghdad. Basra: Gunmen shoot dead a professor as he was leaving his house Tuesday morning. Karbala: Gunmen kill a policeman on his way to work in the outskirts of Karbala. Baqubah: Four policemen, including an officer, wounded in roadside bomb attack against their patrol in Bela Druz, southwest of Baquba. Mosul: Three Iraqi army recruits killed after coming under fire in Mosul. The bodies of two Iraqi civilians were also found in the city. Gunmen kill member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of Jalal Al-Talabani. In Talaafar west of the city, four people were wounded in a mortar attack. Kirkuk: Two assailants on board two cars without license plates kidnap Iraqi civilian in the middle of Kirkuk. IRAQ NEWS Shiite politicians fail to resolve deadlock over their candidate for prime minister: Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's own Dawa party and his key backer, radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, continued to stand behind him, despite opposition to his nomination by Sunni and Kurdish parties, said Bassem Sharif, who attended a meeting Tuesday of the seven Shiite factions. Sunni politician warns that Iraq would "drown in a river of blood" if new government is not formed soon. [Saleh al-Mutlaq] chastised "the politicians who are seeking posts while people are slaughtered in the streets" in comments to the London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. As a result of water-borne diseases and a lack of medical supplies, infants born in Basra are subject to abnormally high mortality rates, say officials of an international NGO devoted to child health issues. Italian elections appear to strip Bush of another Iraq war ally in Silvio Berlusconi: Pro-war supporters had already departed in Spain and Portugal, but Berlusconi's apparent loss took on added meaning after the campaign-style attention Bush lavished on him during a visit here six weeks ago. US commentators saw the result as a new setback for Bush in his bid to repair bridges to Europe and shore up international support for an increasingly unpopular military operation in Iraq. "With Berlusconi's apparent ouster, President Bush loses an unabashed ally in Europe and the Middle East," the Washington Post reported, heralding the departure of the flamboyant media-magnate-turned-politician. Bush lost two wartime allies in 2004 when Jose Maria Aznar's conservative government was defeated in Spain and Portuguese leader Jose Manuel Barroso stepped down to head the European Commission.
Romano Prodi on April 3: "When we go to the government we'll decide for a speedy pullout of the troops, in secure conditions, talking with the Iraqi authorities," , adding that this would be done "as soon as possible."
Poll: 72 percent of Poles want their 900 troops pulled out of Iraq. REPORTS First public proclamation of the unified Iraqi General Command of the Armed Forces: To the enduring and dignified Iraqi people To our Arab brethren Ever since Iraq's soil was soiled by the occupiers' boots, and by the boots of their local and foreign puppets, your brothers in the armed forces have been determined, with full confidence, to stand steadfastly against this occupation and its consequence of sectarian strife that was in fact planned for and ignited by the American occupiers and their puppets, as well as those harbouring ill-intentions for Iraq. Ever since the start of the occupation, your brothers and sons in the armed forces have risen to fight the enemy on our grounds and within a clear military tactical strategy whose success have made the enemy taste the bitterness of their deeds and conspiracies. The ensuing military work, and its Command, was carried out in complete secrecy in order to evade any infiltration by enemy spies of the top-level military commanders, who have been steadily supplying the various armed Resistance groups with many qualified and experienced military officers in order to assist these Resistance groups in their military plans and operations on their own chosen battle fields. We, at the General Command of the Iraqi Military Forces, now declare our responsibility for many heroic operations, whose archives and proof we shall soon provide, that have been carried out by your sons and brothers throughout Iraq. We solemnly announce to the world that the Resistance is intrinsically Iraqi, in blood and identity, and is carried out by the Iraqi armed forces and the heroic and patriotic Resistance groups. The General Military Command strongly condemns any violence that is perpetrated against the security of the ordinary Iraqi citizen, in whatever form or shape. Iraqis Your army was not dissolved by the occupation juggernaut. It remains your protector with its soldiers and officers who are from you and for you. It is compromised from all sectors of the Iraqi society. It is not led by any political party neither does it represent any single sectarian faction. It is a national army for a united Iraq. It will remain the shield for this country and strives, in cooperation with all who would assist Iraq in its struggle, from the Arab and Islamic world and throughout the world, to achieve the following objectives: 1- The liberation of Iraq from the claws of the occupation, and regaining Iraq's sovereignty, unity and independence and the control of its inalienable right to utilize its economic resources for the betterment of the Iraqi people. 2- The reform the Iraqi army on the basis of patriotism, efficiency and dedication and strive to equip it with the most suitable military hardware within the context of an Iraqi military plan. 3- The release of all those that are detained and imprisoned in the occupier's prisons and detention centres who were interned because of their patriotic stance against the occupation. 4- The struggle against all forms of sectarian and ethnic manifestations that have been nurtured by the occupiers and their puppets and which tear apart the national fabric and unity of all Iraqis, and strive to establish security and safety for all citizens. 5- The demand for the full repatriations for all material and pertinent damages inflicted upon Iraq as a result of this occupation, as well as those resulting from the economic embargo that had preceded it. Iraqis, take solace for you have brothers in arms who have promised God and the nation, and promise you, to shed their blood for achieving the above aims. And in order to strengthen your resolve, this Military Command announces publicly the formation of the following Army Units in the designated field of operation, and as follows: 1- "The Mansoor Forces Command" in Baghdad governorate. 2- "The Saad Bin Abi Waqas Forces Command" in Diyala governorate. 3- "The Hamza Forces Command" in Wasit governorate. 4- "The Al-Faris Forces Command" in Salah Al-Din governorate. 5- "The Thoul-Fikar Forces Command" in Thi Qar governorate. 6- "The Abu Obaida Forces Command" in Central Euphrates governorate. 7- "The Hussain Forces Command" in Anbar governorate. 8- "The Mohammad Al-Qasim Forces Command" in Basra governorate. 9- "The Rashid Forces Command" in Ta'mim governorate. 10- "The Amouria Forces Command" in Ninawah governorate. Brave Iraqis With this announcement, we are confident that are working amongst and for our people, families and brothers. We swear by the Almighty, by the sacred Iraqi soil, by the blood of our martyrs, by the honour of the free men and women of Iraq, by the innocence of our children and by the suffering of our mothers and elders that we shall remain committed to fighting till death for Iraq's liberation and achieve our goals. God is Great. Victory and Unity to Iraq. The General Command of the Armed Forces Baghdad, April 4, 2006 Bus talk in Iraq:"On the bus people talk about the American soldiers losing the war," says Ghaith al-Tamimi, a member of the Sadriyyin press department. "Someone else must fight the terrorists." But Tamimi does not hide his disdain for the United States. Smiling broadly, he picks up a Kalashnikov from one of his guards and cradles it, squinting through the sight. He then raises it slightly and smiles again. "This is the only language America understands," he says. COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Divorce American-style: [Newsweek's Michael Hirsh] writes of the widening gap of understanding between US and Iraqi officials: "A Western intelligence expert who recently sat in on briefings by US and Iraqi military officers in Baghdad described a disconnection between US occupation authorities and Iraqi officials that was just as wide as what lies between the Green Zone and the rest of Iraq. The American officers, he said, spent an hour triumphantly describing how they had finally gotten the better of the insurgency while the Iraqis present doodled on their pads, their eyes glazing over. Then the Iraqis got up and described their nation's growing sectarian conflict in urgent terms while the Americans barely paid attention. The two teams, nominally allies, were simply talking past each other, he said." Hirsh may have touched on something that could soon come to haunt the US presence in Iraq. Last week, reports emerged indicating long-term projects undertaken by the US military to build expansive bases and compounds throughout Iraq. Embedded journalists who visited these compounds described swimming pools, CD and DVD stores, a Burger King and Pizza Hut outlet, a mini-mall for US military personnel as well as car dealerships. All these facilities are housed behind thousands of square metres of reinforced concrete, barbed wire and heavily protected by dozens of tanks and military gunships. The Green Zone itself seems to be an oasis concealing itself from the burning violence which ordinary Iraqis must face in the rest of Baghdad. Such scenes as described above are reminiscent of the British presence in India (or the Japanese occupation of China, for that matter) -- obscured from the realties of the effects of imperialism, basking in the glory of the swimming pool and the local staff waiting hand and foot on the imperials. Except, here, even the help are not necessarily Iraqi. Take your pick -- anything ranging from Turks, Albanians, Latin Americans, Fijians, Nepali, Sudanese and Filipino workers festoon the mess halls and Laundromats of this Coalition of the Willing. The political dimension to the physical disconnection described by Hirsh is in of itself hardly an isolated or new development. In the summer of 2003, when Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) head Paul Bremer appointed the Iraq Governing Council (IGC), Iraqi academics in the country warned that the selected divisions and appropriation of ministries in the IGC were a recipe for civil war. But the US officials did not listen in their haste to paint a pretty picture. When Sunni politicians warned that elections could not come under the cover of violence in January 2005 and asked for a six-month extension, this was also rebuffed. In August of 2005, the drafting of the constitution was also hurried (and harried) along with Iraqi politicians still squabbling over terminology and semantics. The US administration feared that delaying the draft would have delayed elections by another year (as stipulated in the tenets of the interim IGC government). Everything was a maddening race to the finish line. Iraqi concerns were rebuffed, dismissed, and passed over as "experts" from numerous think tanks in the US were brought into Iraq to fill the void. Last week, Rice admitted that the US had made thousands of mistakes in Iraq, before somewhat recanting and declaring the mistakes of a tactical nature. Retired US General Anthony Zinni lashed back saying the mistakes were strategic, not tactical, and calling for senior officials to resign. While phrases such as quagmire and Vietnamisation continue to receive prominence among the media's talking heads, we should really focus on the word "disconnect". Disconnect between the Bush administration and the media; disconnect between the US military and political strategists, and more importantly, a growing disconnect between the US and its erstwhile Iraqi allies. This is the word of 2006. When is Killing Arab Civilians Considered a Massacre?: Recent reports from Iraq indicate beyond doubt that the U.S. occupation army has embarked on a new "tactic" from its menu of atrocities, in an attempt to counter the burgeoning Iraqi resistance attacks against its soldiers. "Old-style" massacres of Iraqis have become so commonplace lately that even Iraqi "allies" of the U.S. were forced to unreservedly condemn them. Among Western governments, alas, silence prevails. After all, the massacre victims are only Arabs. Not only is there an alarming apathy towards the horrifying spread of this phenomenon, but there is also a despicable aversion to calling it by its name. At the same time, many in the West go up in arms condemning the "massacre" of seals, whales, dolphins or a few white men anywhere around the world. "Modern" massacres, that is the indiscriminate bombing -- which last year included the use of phosphorus -- of Iraqi civilian neighborhoods in "unruly" cities like Falluja and Qa'im, have always been a standard U.S. and British tactic. But those "clean," remotely-executed and hi-tech acts of state terrorism were always easier for the world's only empire and its lackeys to defend and present as "precision" targeting of "the enemy," especially to a pathetically obedient media. The direct, messy murder of civilians, particularly by tying their hands and shooting them in the head, execution style, has not been as common, although it was practiced in several reported incidents in Iraq since the invasion [1]. Now it is being reported more often, but in language that in effect, if not always by intention, leads to sanitizing it, even to normalizing it as a nasty, yet unavoidable, part of "war." If this evasion from using the term massacre is not deliberate, it can only reflect a deep-seated racism among western journalists who cannot use the same ethical or professional standards in reporting the killings of Arab civilians that they normally use when dealing with "white" victims in comparable situations. Just this month, for instance, the U.S. army committed at least two massacres, killing in cold blood tens of Iraqi civilians, including four children and a six-month old baby, yet neither of them was reported as a massacre. On March 15, near Balad, the Iraqi police reported the following [2]:
"American forces used helicopters to drop troops on the house of Faiz Harat Khalaf situated in the Abu Sifa village of the Ishaqi district. The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 people, including five children, four women and two men, then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals."
A local police commander said hospital autopsies "revealed that all the victims had bullet shots in the head and all bodies were handcuffed." It is crucial to note that the Iraqi police force is recruited, trained and assigned tasks under vigilant U.S. supervision. A similar massacre was committed in Haditha, in November of last year, as an act of revenge after a bomb attack on a U.S. marine force. A nine-year-old survivor of that crime, who lived in a house near the site of the killings, told Time magazine that after the explosion her father began reading the Qur'an. "First, they went into my father's room, where he was reading the Qur'an, and we heard shots. I couldn't see their faces very well, only their guns sticking into the doorway. I watched them shoot my grandfather first in the chest and then in the head. Then they killed my granny." All in all, 15 Iraqis were butchered in this incident. Still, the Guardian reporter, or editor, chose not to call either "event" a massacre. He also avoided any terms of revulsion usually used to describe similar "incidents," particularly those involving white victims. This last Sunday, March 26, another American massacre of Iraqis was reported in the Guardian [3]. The Iraqi Security Minister, no less, described it as follows:
"At evening prayers, American soldiers accompanied by Iraqi troops raided the Mustafa mosque and killed 37 people. They [the victims] were unarmed. [US soldiers] went in, tied up the people and shot them all. They did not leave any wounded."
Calling the mosque massacre a "raid," the Guardian quoted U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson saying: "In our observation of the place and the activities that were going on, it's difficult for us to consider this a place of prayer," adding, "It was not identified by us as a mosque... I think this is a matter of perception." Accordingly, the U.S. army concluded that "no mosques were entered or damaged." Of course! No humans were massacred either, it would seem, as they were mere Iraqis. It is, after all, a "matter of perception." The Independent, which is typically more courageous in covering Iraq, reported the same incident as such [4]: "US forces killed 22 people and wounded eight at a mosque in east Baghdad." Though it did call the mosque by its name, the Independent still failed to call the "incident" a massacre. "The shooting," "the killings," but not a massacre. Not for War Crimes: "Three officers - including an infantry battalion commander (Jeffrey Chessani) and two of his company commanders - were fired April 7 for "lack of confidence," (emphasis added) a Corps spokesman said. Officials previously have confirmed that Chessani's battalion was under investigation for an alleged Nov. 19 rampage by the battalion's Kilo Company Marines in the Iraqi city of Haditha that left 15 civilians dead, including seven women and three children." (Read Iraqi and Time's details) Corps sacks three commanders: Battalion under investigation in deaths of 15 Iraqi civilians April 7, 2006 The following other war crime, if ever prosecuted, might be labelled for "lack of thirst control" (Source in Arabic) "American occupation soldiers killed a grocery shop owner in Tarmia, north of Baghdad. Eye witnesses relate that the American soldiers had set a check point near the local market. They offered some money to the shop owner to sell them some cold drinks. The shop owner refused saying that the drinks are for human beings, hence not for them. {This was probably translated by the accompanying Iraqi translator with the American soldiers - see how these traitors are being attracted to betray their country and their people - my comment}. The American soldiers started beating the shop owner who defended himself by returning the blows of one American soldier. The other soldiers fired and killed him. The American soldiers then took the cold drink cans and left the store. The brother of the dead shop owner, Haj Fadhil Al-Mashhadani, confirmed the murder of his brother, Dhia Al-Din. who was buried last Friday (April 7, 2006)." The occupation kills a shop owner for refusing to sell to them. Bush Admits He Is Using Saddam Hussein's Terror Tactics In Iraq: Bush at Freedom House March 29, 2006 REUTERS/Jim Young
"The enemies of a free Iraq are employing the same tactics Saddam used, killing and terrorizing the Iraqi people in an effort to foment sectarian division." Bush said 3.29.06 at Freedom House.
Is President Bush guilty of war crimes? In medialand, when the subject is war crimes, the president of the United States points the finger at others. Any suggestion that Bush should face such a charge is assumed to be oxymoronic. But a few journalists, outside the corporate media structures, are seriously probing Bush's culpability for war crimes. One of them is Robert Parry. During the 1980s, Parry covered U.S. foreign policy for Associated Press and Newsweek; in the process he broke many stories related to the Iran-Contra scandal. Now he's the editor of the 10-year-old website Consortiumnews.com, an outlet he founded that has little use for the narrow journalistic path along Pennsylvania Avenue. "In a world where might did not make right," Parry wrote in a recent piece, "George W. Bush, Tony Blair and their key enablers would be in shackles before a war crimes tribunal at the Hague, rather than sitting in the White House, 10 Downing Street or some other comfortable environs in Washington and London." Over the top? I don't think so. In fact, Parry's evidence and analysis seem much more cogent -- and relevant to our true situation -- than the prodigious output of countless liberal-minded pundits who won't go beyond complaining about Bush's deceptions, miscalculations and tactical errors in connection with the Iraq war. Is Congress ready to consider the possibility that the commander in chief has committed war crimes during the past few years? Of course not. But the role of journalists shouldn't be to snuggle within the mental confines of Capitol Hill. We need the news media to fearlessly address matters of truth, not cravenly adhere to limits of expediency. When top officials in Lyndon Johnson's administration said that North Vietnam had launched two unprovoked attacks on U.S. vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin, the press corps took their word for it. When top officials in George W. Bush's administration said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the press corps took their word for it. We haven't yet seen any noticeable part of the Washington press corps raise the matter of war crimes by the president. Very few dare to come near the terrain that Parry explored in his March 28 article "Time to Talk War Crimes." That article cites key statements by the U.S. representative to the Nuremberg Tribunal immediately after the Second World War. "Our position," declared Robert Jackson, a U.S. Supreme Court justice, "is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions." During a March 26 appearance on the NBC program "Meet the Press," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tried to justify the invasion of Iraq this way: "We faced the outcome of an ideology of hatred throughout the Middle East that had to be dealt with. Saddam Hussein was a part of that old Middle East. The new Iraq will be a part of the new Middle East, and we will all be safer." But, in a new essay on April 3, Parry points out that "this doctrine -- that the Bush administration has the right to invade other nations for reasons as vague as social engineering -- represents a repudiation of the Nuremberg Principles and the United Nations Charter's ban on aggressive war, both formulated largely by American leaders six decades ago." Parry flags the core of the administration's maneuver: "Gradually, Rice and other senior Bush aides shifted their rationale from Hussein's WMD to a strategic justification, that is, politically transforming the Middle East." He concludes that "implicit in the U.S. news media's non-coverage of Rice's new rationale for war is that there is nothing objectionable or alarming about the Bush administration turning its back on principles of civilized behavior promulgated by U.S. statesmen at the Nuremberg Tribunal six decades ago." Although the evidence is ample that President Bush led the way to aggressive warfare against Iraq, the mainstream U.S. news media keep proceeding on the assumption that -- when the subject is war crimes -- he's well cast as an accuser but should never be viewed as an appropriate defendant. Inalienable Rights of Select Citizens of the American Empire: 1. We have the right to preemptively attack the nation or region of our choice simply based on our belief that they may be a threat to the Empire. No evidence necessary. 2. We have established and will maintain the right to murder an unlimited number of innocent civilians so long as our military machine does the killing and we label the victims as "collateral damage." 3. We have the right to label whomever we choose as "terrorists" or "enemy combatants" and to hold them indefinitely without a trial. 4. We are exempt from the Geneva Conventions and have the right to commit acts of torture or to render our unconvicted prisoners to other countries which will torture them. 5. We have the right to continue glorifying and justifying the land theft and genocide we committed against Native Americans. 6. We have the right to continue to claiming we are the "leader of the free world" when slavery was a legal institution in our nation until the Civil War, women were not able to vote until the Twentieth Century, institutionalized segregation existed until the 1960's, and we deny 5% of our population (Gays and Lesbians) equal rights and protection under the Constitution. 7. We have the right to sell ourselves as a "democracy" despite the fact that we are a constitutional republic, and despite the fact that corporate interests, lobbyists, wealthy campaign donors, and Israel shape most of our foreign and domestic policy. 8. We have the right to bill ourselves as a "bastion of human rights" (and thus justify our imperial interventions) despite the fact that we have the highest prison population in the world, we have a government which tortures on a wide scale, and we are one of the few "developed" nations which metes out the death penalty. 9. We have the right to hoard the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in the history of humankind while prohibiting other nations from possessing such weapons. We also are the only nation with the right to employ WMDs, as evidenced by our annihilation of over 100,000 Japanese civilians. 10. We have the right to plunder 25% of the world's resources to provide for a scant 5% of the world's population, while blustering that if the rest of the world embraced laissez-faire capitalism, they could reap the same bountiful harvest. (Forget the mathematical impossibilities involved. Those just get in the way of the propaganda!) 11. We have the right to continue to empower multi-national corporations with the rights of person-hood, limit their exposure to criminal prosecution and civil suits, and to enable them to exploit human beings in other nations. As long as our corporate friends are showing a profit, they can operate sweat-shops, facilitate the murder of labor agitators, maintain monopolies, off-shore American jobs while exploiting the foreign workers who take them, avoid paying taxes by setting up "shell headquarters" in places like Bermuda, destroy the environment, and continue the race to the bottom in wages and benefits, here and abroad. 12. We have the right to maintain and enhance a socio-economic system that places a significant portion of the world's wealth in the hands of about 3 million people (approximately one percent of the US population). Tax cuts and an end to estate taxes will ensure that the Empire's plutocracy perpetuates its reign. We have the right to foster a malevolent world economic order which results in 3 billion human beings living on less than $2 per day. 13. We have the right to account for half of the world's military expenditures to "provide for the common defense" of 5% of the world's population while 46 million of our people have no health insurance, 13% of the overall American population lives in poverty, over a million are homeless, an alarmingly high percentage of Black America suffers poverty and receives a pathetic education, and crises like New Orleans result in passive mass murder and diasporas of "undesirables." 14. We have the right to send military recruiters into public schools. Our recruiters have access to student addresses and phone numbers and we pay them to use propaganda and financial incentives to entice our youth into sacrificing themselves for the latest imperial crusade. 15. We have the right to accrue as much public and personal debt as we deem "necessary" to perpetuate the American Dream for our nation and to satiate our personal obsessions with acquiring material possessions. 16. We have the right to impose our hollow, shallow, and violent cultural values on a world cowed into acceptance by the raw military and economic power of the American Empire. 17. We have the right to spy on our citizens, eliminate habeas corpus, and contract private companies like Blackwater to avoid the constraints of Posse Comitatus. It is of no concern to us that our actions seriously conflict with the US Constitution. 18. We have the right to produce 25% of greenhouse gasses, ignore and discount mounting evidence of global warming, and refuse to sign the Kyoto Treaty. 19. We have the right to malign, threaten, intimidate, or kill those within the Empire who have the audacity to question or oppose our agenda. 20. We have the right to maintain a corrupt Duopoly consisting of the Republican and Democratic Parties, which consistently present American voters with candidates whose goals are to perpetuate the Empire and the agendas of its corporate and plutocratic leaders. 21. We have the right to use the IMF and World Bank to impose our economic will on "developing" nations which we "help" by burdening them with crushing debt. 22. We have the right to ignore and violate international law while demanding that the rest of the world (excepting Great Britain and Israel) adhere to it stringently. 23. We have the right to subsidize and support Israel's ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. 24. We have the right to concentrate the power of the United States government in the hands of the Executive Branch under the pretext that it is necessitated by the War on Terror. 25. We have the right to label those who dare to oppose our invasions or genocides as savages or terrorists and strip them of their human rights. MOVE OVER DR. EVIL, HERE'S ZARQAWI!
He's dead, Jim: The Washington Post has reported that the role of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in the Iraqi insurgency has been played up by the Pentagon for propaganda purposes, both in Iraq and in the United States (see also early precursor article here). A New York Times reporter named Dexter Filkins wrote a front-page article on a letter supposedly written by al-Zarqawi, although Filkins now says he had doubts of the authenticity of the letter. Despite this, he just passed on the Pentagon propaganda, without bothering his readers with the details of such uninteresting topics as the authenticity of the letter he was writing about. He mentioned the authenticity issue only in passing, in the patented Judy-Miller style of burying it in such a way that the reader is led to the conclusion that the Pentagon propaganda is the truth. Filkins is playing a continuing role in Pentagon propaganda by downplaying the importance of al-Zarqawi (see also here). Presumably, the Pentagon is clearing the decks of al-Zarqawi in order to roll out a new series of lies (although not everyone in the Pentagon is going along with the new program). Al-Zarqawi has been the Scarlet Pimpernel of the Iraqi insurgency, appearing in an enormous variety of roles and places. You have to give him credit. The fact that he has been dead since at least 2004 hasn't slowed him up one bit (nor has the fact that he lost a leg and then grew it back to star in the Nick Berg beheading video). Here's some recent Robert Fisk (see also earlier Fisk here):
"Well, I don't know if al-Zarqawi is alive. You know, al-Zarqawi did exist before the American Anglo-American invasion. He was up in the Kurdish area, which was not actually properly controlled by Saddam. But after that he seems to have disappeared. We know there's an identity card that pops up. We know the Americans say we think we've recognised him on a videotape. Who recognises him on a videotape? How many Americans have ever met al-Zarqawi? Al-Zarqawi's mother died more than 12 months ago and he didn't even send commiserations or say 'I'm sorry to hear that'. His wife of whom he was very possessive is so poor she has to go out and work in the family town of Zarqa. Hence the name Zarqawi. I don't know if al-Zarqawi is alive or exists at the moment. I don't know if he isn't a sort of creature invented in order to fill in the narrative gaps, so to speak. What is going on in Iraq at the moment is extremely mysterious."
It's mysterious all right. The al-Zarqawi myth appears to be another manifestation of the American myth that al-Qaeda is behind the series of terrorist attacks in the 'long war' that continues to (barely) sustain the Bush Administration. If there is to be some sort of phony Shi'ite terrorist attack on the United States, they won't be able to blame it on Sunni al-Qaeda, so the shift away from al-Zarqawi may eventually have domestic American implications. Leverage xenophobia response: You've probably all read the WaPo piece about the Pentagon's propaganda campaign to build up Zarqawi as Villain of the Week, because while Bush may talk about foreign policy being based on principles, he can't function without demonizing someone. My favorite bit is the quote from a briefing: "Villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia response." Leverage xenophobia response. Just charming. So the idea was to get Iraqis to equate the insurgency with a foreigner and forget that there was also this rather large occupying army in Iraq which was also made up of, you know, foreigners. The Pentagon has responded to the article by saying that Zarqawi really is a great big scary villain. Gen. Rick Lynch, who I am officially awarding Mark Kimmitt's old title of Military Moron for his many stupid comments and for not knowing the meaning of the word insidious, insists that Z. & those he recruits, trains and equips are responsible for 90% of the "insidious suicide attacks" in Iraq. Dexter Filkins and the Zarqawi psy-ops operation: Most of you have probably read about the Washington Post story which discusses the U.S. military psy-ops operation to paint Abu Musab al Zarqawi as a much more significant figure in the Iraqi resistance than he actually is. There are two aspects to this story worth extra emphasis here. The first is how the Post attempts to cover up the clear violation of U.S. law represented by the story (emphasis added):
One briefing slide about U.S. "strategic communications" in Iraq, prepared for Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. commander in Iraq, describes the "home audience" as one of six major targets of the American side of the war. That slide, created by Casey's subordinates, does not specifically state that U.S. citizens were being targeted by the effort.
It doesn't? Which "home audience" who aren't U.S. citizens was it referring to then - undocumented immigrants? Please. The second is the attempt by New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins to cover his behind (again, emphasis added):
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. Leaks to reporters from U.S. officials in Iraq are common, but official evidence of a propaganda operation using an American reporter is rare. Filkins, reached by e-mail, said that he was not told at the time that there was a psychological operations campaign aimed at Zarqawi, but said he assumed that the military was releasing the letter "because it had decided it was in its best interest to have it publicized." No special conditions were placed upon him in being briefed on its contents, he said. He said he was skeptical about the document's authenticity then, and remains so now, and so at the time tried to confirm its authenticity with officials outside the U.S. military.
Well, that's fascinating. Unfortunately I don't have access to the original Times story, so I can't read it. But I did find a Feb. 9, 2004 CNN interview of Filkins by Soledad O'Brien in the InfoTrac OneFile database. I can't link it, but let me just reprint the beginning:
O'BRIEN: You talk about American officials holding onto a document that they believe was written by a Jordanian operative in Iraq. And basically, it's asking al Qaeda for help in waging this sectarian war. What do you think this memo says about the relationship between al Qaeda and the folks in Iraq? FILKINS: Well, it doesn't really prove anything other than the fact that these operatives in Iraq want some help. And to me, that was the fascinating thing about the document. It was sort of part business plan and part plea for help. I mean, basically, they were saying, it's really hard here. We're not getting a lot of support. We think we're losing. Here is this sort of last-ditch plan that we can come up with. Can you help? O'BRIEN: Paint the scenario, the kind of help that they are asking for in this memo. FILKINS: Well, it's a little complicated, but what they are saying is -- I mean, predominantly al Qaeda and the religious extremists, who are believed to be operating in Iraq, are Sunni Muslims. They are a majority here. And the Shiite Muslims are the majority.
And what the plan says is, we'll start doing suicide bombings and start attacking the Shiites, and we'll attack them so hard and so often that they'll crack down on the Sunnis, and then the Sunnis will come to us and they'll flock to us. And this was basically a plea to al Qaeda for their approval and for possibly for their support. So, I think the other thing they said, which was kind of interesting, was they said we are running out of time. We need to do this quickly. We need to do it before we lose, and we need to do it before the Americans transfer sovereignty to the Iraqis on June 30. So, it was -- again, to me, what was so fascinating about the document, assuming it was authentic, was that it was a stark admission that things were not going very well for them.
Filkins does throw in a quick "assuming it was authentic." However there is nothing which would suggest to the viewer the slightest skepticism about that authenticity on Filkins' part; the entire interview, which continues on at greater length, simply takes it as factual with the exception of those four words. If Filkins had any real skepticism about the authenticity of the letter, he certainly fails to convey it to the listener in this interview.
See? The U.S. is capable of learning lessons: Headline in The New York Times: Give Rebuilding Lower Priority in Future Wars Yes, because there was just so much priority on rebuilding in this one. Update: I really should say something more about this story. Because perhaps the most interesting thing about it is the framing. The article is about a State Department report. But that report isn't about "what we did wrong in Iraq." It's about what should be done, as the headline says, in a future conflict -- the next country the U.S. invades, overthrows its government, and completely destroys. Do the words "rogue state" come to mind? Do you think there is any other country in the world which actually has plans for what they're going to do after they destroy another country? BEYOND IRAQ IRAN
Iran successfully enriches uranium for the first time: "At this historic moment, with the blessings of God almighty and the efforts made by our scientists, I declare here that the laboratory-scale nuclear fuel cycle has been completed and young scientists produced enriched uranium needed to the degree for nuclear power plants Sunday," Ahmadinejad said. "I formally declare that Iran has joined the club of nuclear countries," he told an audience that included top military commanders and clerics in the northwestern holy city of Mashhad. The crowd broke into cheers of "Allahu akbar!" or "God is great!" Some stood and thrust their fists in the air. There will be no war with Iran: Egyptian president Mubarak said: Shiites there and across the Middle East are more loyal to Iran than to their own countries. Which is true, but for sure he speaks about the Shiite generally, I don't think normal regular Shiite people are just like what Mubarak says. While everybody is making his speculation about the coming war between the US and Iran, I still don't think this is will happen. Accept it or not Iran is much stronger than the US in ME, and gained much of its strength because of the stupid, blind American policy. First the Us eliminated Iran's strongest nemesis from the both sides (Saddam and the Taliban), and later they gave Iran a free hand in Iraq, so US want a strong Iran for some reason, maybe to use as a boogieman against countries in the region?. Iran don't want to involve in a war with the US for one reason, Iran's policy right now is working much better than with a war (creating havoc in Iraq and targeting US interests in Iraq).
As Bush Visits, Mayan Priests In Mexico Perform Ceremony To Decontaminate The Area: Four priests of the ancient Mayan religion held [March 30] a purification ceremony to rid Bush of "demons and evil" in a square in downtown Cancun, some 10 miles (16 km) from the plush hotel strip where the leaders [Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox] met [for talks on immigration and "border security]. "We do not agree with the visit of this person. We see on television how many people he has killed," said priest Romualdo May, dipping herbs into water and sprinkling it into the air. QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Those who are stupid enough to sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.” --- Benjamin Franklin


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