DAILY WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY, June 2, 2006
by Steve Bell (See below "The 10,000th Haditha")
Two bombs struck in quick succession at a pet market Friday morning in central Baghdad.
The explosives were left in a bag at the al-Ghazil market, where Iraqis can go every Friday to buy dogs, birds, snakes and other animals. Five people were killed and 57 wounded, some seriously. A few minutes later, an explosion near a Shiite mosque in the eastern Baghdad neighbourhood of Jadida killed two civilians and injured five.
A roadside bomb also targeted a patrol in the Mansour district in western Baghdad, wounding two policemen and damaging their vehicle.
In the Mansour neighbourhood of west Baghdad, a bomb went off near a passing Iraqi army convoy, killing one soldier and wounding four.
A roadside bomb killed two people and wounded four in the eastern New Baghdad district.
One Iraqi soldier was killed and four wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol in the western Mansoor district of Baghdad.
A roadside bomb went off in southeastern Baghdad, killing two people and injuring four.
Unidentified armed persons attacked and killed a five-member Iraqi family in the residential area of Dura in the southern part of Baghdad.
Police is searching for the attackers.
A bomb also went off early in the morning in the southeastern suburb of Baghdad al-Jadeeda, killing one person and wounding four others.
A roadside bomb killed an Iraqi woman and wounded two Iraqi men as well as two U.S. soldiers west of the city of Samarra on Thursday.
A number of suspects were arrested.
An Iraqi woman was shot dead by US troops in a western agricultural district of Samarra as she was crossing the highway linking the city with Tikrit on Friday morning.
The shooting was said to have taken place near a US military base in the city. There was no confirmation from the US military.
In the village of Hib Hib, northeast of the capital, mortars fell on a house killing two people and wounding one other, all from the same family.
Gunmen opened the deputy-commander of the oil protection force in Kirkuk, killing him and a bodyguard and wounding another bodyguard as they left a restaurant.
Amaintenance unit from the oil protection force was attacked by gunmen southwest of Kirkuk and two members were wounded.
Police also found the body of a 23 year old woman shot dead and handcuffed, lying by the side of the road, not far from Kirkuk.
Police reported the asssassination of a lawyer and former city council member working with US forces in the southern town of Samawa.
In the southern town of Amara, an Egyptian ice cream vendor who had lived in Iraq for the past 23 years was shot dead by suspected militia members.
U.S. CASUALTIES REPORTS
Army Cpl. Brock Buck died Tuesday about 35 miles north of Baghdad as soldiers were lifting equipment. A chain hoist broke, striking him in the neck and fatally injuring him, said his father, Duane Bucklin, of Caledonia.
A soldier based at Fort Wainwright died this week in Iraq, Army officials said Thursday. The soldier, assigned to the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Wainwright, died on Wednesday while working out in a gym at his base in Mosul, Army spokesman Kirk Gohlke said. Medics attempted to resuscitate the soldier before evacuating him to the 47th Combat Support Hospital.>> NEWS
NEW MASSACRE UNCOVERED
In another town, Iraqis say US killed civilians: U.S. forces denied on Wednesday a new accusation, from Iraqi officers, that American troops killed unarmed civilians in their home this month. (...)
Iraqi army and police officers and several people who said they were witnesses and relatives of the dead said U.S. soldiers killed two women, aged 60 and 20, and a mentally handicapped man in their home on May 4 after insurgents fired on the troops.
Spokesmen for the 101st Airborne Division, which controls Samarra and Salahaddin province north of Baghdad, said soldiers from its 3rd Brigade Combat Team killed two unnamed men and a woman in a house who had "planned to attack the soldiers".
In an initial statement on May 5, the unit had said troops killed three people who had already fired on them from a roof.
A senior Iraqi police officer from the province's Joint Coordination Center (JCC), a unit that liaises between the U.S. and Iraqi security forces, said: "There was shooting outside the house. Samarra police told us that American soldiers went inside and shot three people, including a mentally handicapped man.
"They were not armed and there were no gunmen in the house," said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted by insurgents who routinely kill policemen.
US military has told the BBC it is investigating an incident in which 11 Iraqi civilians may have been deliberately killed by US troops: Video footage obtained by the BBC appears to challenge the US account of events in the town of Ishaqi in March.
The US said at the time that four people died during a raid, but Iraqi police said 11 were shot by US troops. (...)
The video pictures obtained by the BBC appear to contradict the US account of the events in Ishaqi, about 100km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, on 15 March 2006.
The US authorities said they were involved in a firefight after a tip-off that an al-Qaeda supporter was visiting the house.
According to the Americans, the building collapsed under heavy fire killing four people - a suspect, two women and a child.
But a report filed by Iraqi police accused US troops of rounding up and deliberately shooting 11 people in the house, including five children and four women, before blowing up the building.
The video tape obtained by the BBC shows a number of dead adults and children at the site with what our world affairs editor John Simpson says were clearly gunshot wounds.
The pictures came from a hardline Sunni group opposed to coalition forces.
It has been cross-checked with other images taken at the time of events and is believed to be genuine.
John Simpson report on the Ishaqi massacre, aired on BBC news 06/01/06U.S. TROOPS ROUTINELY ATTACK CIVILIANS, IRAQI LEADER SAYS
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki lashed out at the American military on Thursday, denouncing what he characterized as habitual attacks by troops against Iraqi civilians.
As outrage over the disclosure that American Marines killed 24 Iraqis in the town of Haditha last year continued to roil the new government, the country's Sunni Arab deputy prime minister also demanded that American officials turn over their investigative files on the killings and said that the Iraqi government would conduct its own inquiry.
In his comments, al-Maliki said violence against civilians had become a "daily phenomenon" by troops in the American-led coalition who "do not respect the Iraqi people."
"They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion," he said. "This is completely unacceptable." Attacks on civilians will play a role in future decisions on how long to ask American forces to remain in Iraq, the prime minister added.
The denunciation was an unusual declaration for a government that remains desperately dependent on American forces to keep some form of order in the country amid a resilient Sunni Arab insurgency in the west, widespread sectarian violence in Baghdad, and deadly feuding among Shiite militias in the south.
It was also a sign of the growing pressure on al-Maliki, whose coalition includes Sunni Arabs who were especially enraged by news of the killings in Haditha, a city deep in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province. At the same time, he is being pushed by the Americans to resolve the quarreling within his fragile coalition that has left him unable to fill Cabinet posts for the ministries of defense and interior, the two top security jobs in the country. (...)
In Baghdad, senior governmental officials began speaking of the possibility of an Iraqi investigation into the killings as well.
"We in the ministers' Cabinet condemned this crime and demanded that coalition forces show the reasons behind this massacre," Iraqi deputy prime minister Salam al-Zaubai, one of the most powerful Sunni Arabs in the new government, said in an interview.
"As you know, this is not the only massacre, and there are a lot," he said. "The coalition forces must change their behavior. Human blood should be sacred regardless of religion, party and nationality."
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'PLEASE STOP THE AMERICAN TROOPS KILLING ANY MORE PEOPLE'
The news that US soldiers are to be investigated for the alleged killing of civilians in Haditha six months ago has done little to allay the scepticism of many ordinary Iraqis.
Thaer Juma, a lawyer and director of a non-government organisation in Baghdad, said: "These crimes are happening every day in [the western Iraqi cities of] Haditha and Ramadi, but the international community knows nothing about them because there are media blackouts on the operations, and there are no international humanitarian NGOs to record these transgressions."
Omar Saed, 55, a university lecturer in Baghdad, said: "We'd like to send a brief letter to all the world: 'Please stop the American troops killing any more people.' We need full cooperation from all to help us avoid any more incidents like what happened in Haditha and Ramadi and all the [other] Iraqi cities."
Omar al-Hadi, a businessman in Baghdad's affluent Mansour district, said: "Why are the Americans making a big deal of this now? Don't they know how many thousands of Iraqis have died at the hands of the foreign forces, the terrorists and the militias, and how nothing is ever done about it - apart from occasional expressions of regret?"
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>> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
THE 10,000TH HADITHA
The average "support our troops" American is waking up and smelling the butchery.
Newspapers don't bother to report when the sun rises in the east nor do they assign reporters to cover when dogs bite men. Likewise, says Baghdad newspaper boy Imad Mohammed, Iraqi newspapers haven't mentioned Haditha. Same-old, same-old massacres of Iraqis by American forces are no longer news: "The Americans see a Muslim go into a mosque and just assume he is a terrorist. They either arrest him or blow it up."
Rami Khouri, editor at The Daily Star
in Lebanon tells NPR that Haditha is "not a huge story [in the Middle East]. It's getting a lot of coverage in the United States, obviously, but most people in the Arab world are against what the United States did in Iraq...They say look, this was a catastrophe from the beginning and they're not surprised that this is happening. They kind of take it in stride because everything the United States is doing in Iraq is seen as morally and politically unacceptable."
Most of the world's population--including virtually every Muslim and about a third Americans--always believed that the war against Iraq was a genocidal attempt to intimidate the Muslim world and extort its oil at gunpoint. They don't see a difference between Haditha and the thousands of other Iraqis killed by U.S. forces since 2003. Because the entire exercise was morally bankrupt from the outset, sold and perpetuated with countless lies, all of the 200,000-plus civilians and Iraqi soldiers who have died--whether by bomb or by bullet--were effectively murdered by the U.S. military.
Haditha, where two dozen were executed, was merely the 10,000th Haditha.
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THE LINE OF ATROCITY: FROM THE WHITE HOUSE TO HADITHA
Many observers have compared the methodical murder of 24 innocent civilians by U.S. Marines in the Iraqi town of Haditha - now confirmed by Pentagon and Congressional sources - to the infamous My Lai massacre in Vietnam, when American troops slaughtered hundreds of civilians in a bloody rampage. But this is a false equation, one that gravely distorts the overall reality of the Coalition effort in Iraq.
For it is not the small-scale Haditha atrocity that should be compared to My Lai: it is the entire Iraq War itself. The whole operation - from its inception in high-level mendacity to its execution in blood-soaked arrogance, folly, greed and incompetence - is a war crime of almost unfathomable proportions: a My Lai writ large, a My Lai every single day, year after year after year. (...)
These massacres aren't just momentary outbursts of revenging anger; they're learned behavior. The Marines who killed at Haditha were veterans of the much larger atrocity at Fallujah the year before. There they took part in one of the most savage demolitions of a city since World War II. Eight weeks of relentless bombing was followed by a cut-off of the city's water, electricity and food supplies. a clear war crime under the Geneva Conventions. More than two-thirds of the city's residents, some 200,000 people, fled the coming inferno, refugees in their own land. Those who remained were considered fair game in the house-by-house ravaging that followed. Among the Americans' first targets were the city's hospitals and clinics, as U.S. officers freely admitted to the New York Times
: another blatant war crime. They were destroyed or shut down, with medical staff killed or imprisoned, to prevent bad publicity about civilian casualties from reaching the outside world, the officers said. Later, an investigation by the U.S.-backed Iraqi government found credible evidence of the use of chemical weapons against the city; yet another war crime. Up to 6,000 people were killed in the attack, most of them civilians.
The few hundred Fallujah-based insurgents who had been the ostensible target of the assault had escaped long before the onslaught began. Thus there was no real military purpose to the city's destruction, which had been ordered by the White House; it was instead an act of reprisal, a collective punishment against the Iraqi people as a whole, non-combatants included, for the armed resistance to the Coalition conquest. The Marines of Kilo Company simply took what they were taught by their eminently respectable superiors in Fallujah and applied it in Haditha.
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NOT MANY CORE WARRIOR VALUES
Earlier today I quoted Gen. Peter Chiarelli about Haditha (Bruce in comments noted that if 99.9% of 150,000 COW trooops were doing their jobs blamelessly, as Chiarelli said, that leaves 150 running amok). The WaPo has more from the general, who may or may not be part of the 99.9%: "you've got to be a realist and understand that those kind of things do happen." Now read that again and ask yourself what his intentions were in uttering that sentence, just what form he expects this realistic understanding to take.
The article says that the "core warrior values" training will last between 2 and 4 hours. Guess there aren't that many core warrior values. There will be 36 slides, which I dearly hope will wind up online ("This is a child. Try not to shoot one of these. Click. This is a pregnant woman. Try not to shoot her in the head...")
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NO STRATEGIC RATIONALE FOR KILLING A TODDLER
The My Lai massacre is a better analog for this scandal than Abu Ghraib, because while there might be some hypothetically plausible utility in torturing and humiliating prisoners during interrogation, there is no strategic rationale whatsoever for killing a toddler. The damage wrought by the men of Kilo Company was not collateral to any nobler aim; the damage was the point. The sadism on display in Haditha is a symptom of a conflict gone devastatingly awry. Months before the massacre, Knight Ridder reporter Tom Lasseter interviewed Marines stationed in Haditha and noted that the "intense psychological pressure" of their posting was beginning to take a toll. "I tell the guys not to lose their humanity over here, because it's easy to do," Marine Capt. James Haunty, 27, told Lasseter. "I tell them not to turn into Colonel Kurtz."
Joseph Conrad's Kurtz was a symbol of the corrosive demoralization of imperial overstretch, and it is perhaps not inappropriate that a young Marine Captain at an outpost in the Sunni Triangle would invoke such a specter. Kurtz stands for what happens when "noble experiments" fail and turn perverse. Somewhere along the way, Kurtz's civilizing mission curdled. He's best known for the phrase, "The Horror." But in this context, another might be even more apt, a line he scrawls in a fever of "intense psychological pressure," with all the sadism and callous abandon of a man out of his depth: "Exterminate all the brutes."
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A DEVILISH COMPARISON
Permit, if you will, a devilish comparison. Saddam Hussein, at present, is on trial for his role in the alleged murder of dozens of residents of a small Iraqi city. In the wake of an attempted assassination of Saddam by members of the (now ruling) Dawa party of Iraq, Iraqi forces under Saddam's command reportedly murdered men and young boys. In Haditha, in the wake of a roadside bomb that killed a Marine, other Marines-under the command of George W. Bush-reportedly murdered dozens, including children and babies. Perhaps, when the Saddam trial is over, Ramsey Clark will have a new client?
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WONDERING ABOUT THINGS
You see there are some other things I'm wondering about:
- I wonder if the soldier who shot a pregnant woman dead as she was being rushed to a maternity hospital to give birth would describe himself as "pro-life...."
- I wonder if that soldier's commanders would describe themselves as "pro-life...."
- I wonder if it occurred to those commanders that putting a check point 109 yards away from a maternity hopsital made a killing of a pregnant woman being rushed into that hospital at night inevitable....
- I wonder why it is that these checkpoint "incidents" are always at checkpoints that are very hard to see. In this case late at night by a worried man driving his sister about to give birth to the maternity hospital
- I wonder if they cared, no I don't wonder about that at all ... the US "regrets" the death ... they're not sorry, and they certainly haven't apologised, they merely "regret" the killing of a woman who according to the press statement the emailed to AP "may have been pregnant." (...)
- I wonder if they realise what it says about them that the dead woman, one usually refers to female adult humans as "women," that in their press release they used the word "female" which one commonly uses when referring to non-humans ... ...
No I don't have to wonder about that either ... ...
- I wonder if her two children, her husband, the husband of her cousin who was shot along with here, and the rest of their families are feeling something somewhat stronger than "regret."
No that's another thing I dont have to wonder about ... ...
There's something else I don't have to wonder about, I don't have to wonder whether this is what President George W. Bush and his puppet master Richard Cheney mean when they talk about a "culture of life" ... ... at least when it comes to Iraqi "females" who have two "young" ... ... (not "children" I mean hey she was a brown person let's keep the language consistent here) ... ... and who "may" be pregnant.
I don't have to wonder about that at all.
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MEDIA CRIMES SANITIZE WAR CRIMES IN IRAQ
As events in Iraq continue to slip from bad to worse, the good news brigade is scrambling for new stories- - 'anything, give me anything' - to shore up what's left of public support for a bloody war without end.
As some feared and many predicted, the war hovers over our politics and the president who "brought it on." He is, as the journalist Sid Blumenthal puts it, stuck in a "paradigm" of his own making. The operative word is the title and refrain of an early Springsteen song: "TRAPPED."
Another tipping point seems to have tipped.
Fear and exhaustion are evident in our TV newsrooms, along with a continuing failure to recognize what is going on. The lack of insight is stunning; the quality of most of the news, pathetic.
Even CBS's brave Kimberly Dozier-may she fully recover-was not only embedded in practice with the U.S. military when she was wounded and her crew killed, but she seemed embedded mentally, seeking out a 'feel good' story to cheer the home front that the Bush Administration wants so badly to stay the course of his "long war."
In an e-mail sent to CBS, and only discovered after she went from being an embed to being in a bed-at a military hospital in Germany no less-she described the story she was going to be doing before another IED did its awful damage.
'The LA Times' reported:
"When producers of the "CBS Evening News" arrived in the newsroom Monday morning, there was an e-mail waiting from correspondent Kimberly Dozier.
"In a note written Sunday night, she detailed a Memorial Day story she planned to do about a U.S. soldier wounded in Iraq who insisted on going back to the battlefield, a piece about "fighting on in memory of those who have fallen."
What a tragic loss---TV journalists dying not in search of deeper truths but to send back another picture-rich but patriotically correct story along the same 'good news' lines as one filed for '60 Minutes' by CBS's now chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan. She glamorized the tactics of a brainy American colonel heroically stopping terrorists in the town of Tel Afar.
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THE GOAL IS TO END IRAQ AS WE KNOW IT
Those who follow the US media may have noticed the proliferation of news programmes discussing civil war in Iraq. One gets the impression that this is what the Americans want for this country. The media campaign sounds a bit pre-meditated, a tad pre- programmed. Civil war is what the occupation authorities, and their local collaborators, want. The aim is to blame the failure of US policy on the Iraqis. The goal is to end Iraq as we know it. The Americans will allow Iraq to survive only if it conforms to their expectations. Otherwise, they'll encourage it to self-destruct. And the collaborators in our midst are helping the Americans implement their insidious schemes.
The Americans are running out of options and time. Occupation authorities have failed on more than one level. Patriotic groups have refused to engage in the current political game. Some well-intentioned politicians are participating in government, but chances are that even those will get so disenchanted that they'll have to join the opposition. Occupation authorities want a semi-stable regime in power. They want a regime that can protect itself internally but not externally. This is a contradiction yet to be resolved, if ever. The only option left for occupation authorities is to keep their forces deployed in the street until further notice.
Occupation authorities have little time left. Once the Bush administration is out of office, the days of US deployment in Iraq will be numbered. Congressional elections are nearing, to be followed by presidential elections in the not too distant future. Right now, the pro-Israeli lobby is looking for acceptable candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, who support continued deployment in Iraq -- not an easy task. This is why the occupation authorities are fomenting sectarian strife in Iraq. Faced with imminent failure in Iraq, occupation authorities want the headlines out of Iraq to speak of sectarian strife, not of the failures of the occupation.
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>> BEYOND IRAQ
Two suicide attackers detonated an explosives-laden car amid a military convoy on a strategic road in northwestern Pakistan on Friday, killing four soldiers and wounding seven.
The blast hit the convoy on a key road for troops moving between Bannu and Miran Shah, the main town in restive North Waziristan tribal region, where Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants have stepped up attacks against security forces this year.
Suspected Taliban militants searched out and killed two government loyalists in the Ghazni province town of Zabet.
One man was slain inside his home.
THE UNITED STATES' WILL TO WAR
This long-term war economy and its ill effects, maintained by the U.S. since the 1950s and strengthened by every administration, and most so by the Bush administration, cannot be sustained without fundamental distortions of society and polity as a whole. Ideologically, the U.S. population is held together in an odd set of schizophrenias: overwhelming fear psychosis (you are perennially threatened by a powerful enemy, be it the communists of yesteryears or the terrorists of today) and sheer arrogance of power (you do have the power to beat to pulp anyone you want); as well as the accompanying belief that the U.S. is a "Land of the Free" but is forever beset by a whole host of internal enemies and external enemies who must be hunted down, incarcerated, even tortured. No country in the world holds as many prisoners as the U.S., in all a quarter of the world's prison population with mere 5 per cent of the world's people. And the numbers keep escalating: 300,000 prisoners in 1972 but two million by 2000. And the U.S. has introduced the world to a brand new institution: state prisons run by private business. There were five such prisons a decade ago; but more than 100 now, with 62,000 prisoners.
These are not unrelated facts. A society that accepts the idea that prisons can be run by private businesses would also be so much more willing and keen to have mercenaries fight the war for the nation; 40,000 to 60,000 mercenaries are now said to be performing all sorts of military duties for the U.S. in Iraq, alongside roughly three times as many men in actual uniform. A populace gripped by the fear psychosis shall be so much more willing to give its government unlimited power to wage war; if less than 40 per cent Americans now support the ongoing war in Iraq, more than half of the population supports the idea of invading Iran if Iran is found, by the U.S. government, to be making nuclear weapons. If two million can be imprisoned as criminals, what could possibly be wrong with the tapping of phones of another 10 or 20 or 30 million, just to make sure that criminality - terrorism, in particular - is not lurking in other hearts as well. Criminalisation of a couple of million paves the way for the making of a society of universal surveillance for the population as a whole, with widespread consent.
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SOMETHING AL GORE AND THE GLOBAL WARMING CROWD FORGETS
There was an article in the Guardian
yesterday about the growing schism between conservatives and the religious right, and about infighting amongst the religious right itself. Disagreements over what stances are too partisan and what positions are the most effective have led to name-calling and even intimidation. One case in point: Rich Cizik, vice-president of the National Association of Evangelicals, believes in the Biblical injunction about man's stewardship of the earth, so he's become interested in environmental causes such as global warming. Well, you Al Gore wannabe, one of your brethern, a Washington lobbyist for the religious right, has the rejoinder to that sort of crazy talk:
"Rich is just being stupid on this issue. There may be a debate to be had but ... people can only sustain so many moral movements in their lifetime. Is God really going to let the Earth burn up?"
Betcha didn't think of that one, did you ya treehugger? But it's nice to learn that there's really only so much morality that needs to be pursued. It's not like they're really standing for anything they actually believe, just figuring out how best to market themselves.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "All are (...) counseled on the health effects of long-term hunger striking," -- Navy Cmdr. Robert Durand in a statement from Guantanamo Bay regarding six hunger strikers who are being force-fed