Saturday, September 23, 2006


PHOTO: An Iraqi hospital worker inspects corpses inside the morgue of a hospital in Baghdad's poor neighborhood of Sadr City. (AFP/Wissam Al-Okaili)

Security Incidents for September 23, 2006


A bomb blew up a kerosene tanker truck and killed at least 32 people Saturday. People frantically carried survivors from the narrow muddy street to ambulances, and hauled away bodies in blankets. At least 38 people were wounded by Saturday's blast in Sadr City neighborhood. The bomb was hidden in a barrel near the tanker truck, where scores of people were waiting to buy fuel, said police Col. Saad Abdul-Sada. There were more people on hand than usual as families sought to stock up on fuel for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, he said. Seventeen women were among the dead, Abdul-Sada said, adding that casualties were expected to rise. [Later reports say 37 died, over 40 wounded. – dancewater]

A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died at approximately noon today after the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by an improvised-explosive device in northern Baghdad.

A motorcycle bomb exploded at a restaurant in northeast Baghdad, injuring five people, police said.


Gunmen shot dead Fadhil Abu Seybi, the head of a local tribe and a member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), a prominent Shi'ite party. Police said Abu Seybi was killed outside his home in the holy city of Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad.


In a grisly scene in Beiji, about 155 miles north of Baghdad, gunmen threw the decapitated heads of ten men into a popular open-air market at about 4:30 p.m., police said. They then fled the scene.


Police found five bodies bearing signs of torture and bullet wounds, in different parts of the small town of Mahmudiya just south of Baghdad, police said.


On Saturday, five apparent death squad victims were turned in to the morgue in Kut, about 100 miles southeast of Baghdad. The bodies were shot in the head and chest and had been found dumped into the Tigris river near Suwayrah, 25 miles south of the capital, said morgue official Ma'moun Ajeel al-Rubai'ey.


An American contractor working for the State Department was killed in a rocket attack in Basra, the U.S. Embassy said Saturday. The contractor was killed in an attack on the city, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad on Friday, the embassy said in a statement.

A Danish soldier was killed in southern Iraq on Saturday after his patrol vehicle hit a bomb by the side of the road south of the city of Basra, the Danish central army command said. "I can confirm that one Danish soldier was killed by a roadside bomb south of Basra when his vehicle, one of three travelling together, was hit," a Danish army spokesman told Reuters, adding that one other soldier was seriously injured in the incident and seven others suffered slight injuries.

At least six other Danish troops were also wounded when a bomb blasted a vehicle carrying members of an air force unit assigned to protect Danish diplomats in southern Iraq, Defense Command Denmark said in a statement. The unit was on its way to the Danish base and was not accompanying any diplomats.


Police found the body of an Iraqi woman in a small river northwest of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, police said.


The body of a teenage boy was found dumped on a roadside in the small town of Rashad, 30 km (20 miles) southwest of Kirkuk. Police said the body had numerous gunshot wounds.




Meanwhile in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, about 3,000 people demonstrated outside a downtown mosque then marched through the streets to demand the return of the former dictator to power. Saddam is currently on trial on genocide charges in Baghdad.


In the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf, radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr used Friday prayers to urge Islamic unity against the common enemy: US troops in Iraq. "Be tough against the infidels and merciful between yourselves," he said. "An Iraqi hand should not hit another Iraqi." Al-Sadr led two uprisings against US forces in 2004 but later emerged as a major political figure. A centre of his support, the sprawling Shi'ite slum of Sadr City, is also targeted in the sweeps of the capital, which are now at its doorstep. The cleric took a strong tone, but urged his followers not use force. "People of Iraq, I want it peaceful war against them and not to shed a drop of blood, so fight them by popular peaceful war," said al-Sadr, who led two uprisings against US forces in 2004 but later emerged as a major political figure. "Do raise your voices to get them out, boycott them and ask a government you have elected under the occupation and terrorism to do the work for you, and not to leave your enemy on your land," he said.


Ahead of the attacks on Sunnis [Friday] in Hurriyah [district in Baghdad], a previously unknown group calling itself Brigade of Two Sadrs Shula threw leaflets in the streets threatening to kill 10 Sunni Arabs for every Shi'ite death in Baghdad. Shula is a prominently Shi'ite neighbourhood located next to Hurriyah. Two Sadrs refers to al-Sadr and his father, Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, who was killed by suspected Saddam agents 1999. Residents of Hurriyah say sectarian reprisal killings and kidnappings have recently risen in the neighbourhood, with most attacks targeting Sunnis. In the morning attack, about 20 gunmen sped into Hurriyah in five cars, then attacked several houses and set fire to two, said police Lt. Maithem Abdel-Razzaq. Besides the people killed, one more was wounded. They then opened fire on two mosques, damaging the buildings but not causing any injuries, Razzaq said. When US and Iraqi soldiers arrived, supported by helicopters, the gunmen fled.

Al Anbar Province

In other suspected sectarian violence, police found the bodies of nine men from the al-Duleimi Sunni tribe, blindfolded with their hands and legs bound, police Major Mahir Hamad Mussa said. The relatives were dragged out of a wedding dinner in east Baghdad on Thursday night by men dressed in Iraqi army uniforms, Mussa said. The predominantly Sunni Arab al-Duleimi tribe is one of the largest in Iraq's restive western Anbar province. The leader of the largest Sunni Arab political group, Adnan al-Duleimi, is a member of the tribe.

Read Juan Cole for a report on Sadr and the Twelfth Imam.

Arrested in Ramadi

I run with Mr.X out of my house and walked to the Humvee staying in front of my house. I talked with the Us soldiers, “Hello, we have a problem and we need to ask you some things.,” I said to the US soldier who was sitting inside the Humvee. He got out and said, “What problem?”

“A man and a kid were arrested by your soldiers, we need to know why you arrested them, and where they are now.” I said, and I felt very weak. I felt like I am losing one more member of my family. At that time I was thinking about my nephew, he is kid and we know that Americans or Iraqi army could abuse him, and many bad memories filled my mind. “Oh sorry, who arrested them is other soldiers, we don’t know about this,” the soldier said. Oh my …this same silly game they play ….sorry we don’t know …or we not sure …etc. “Ok ok, in this case I have to tell you, my nephew is still a kid, and he could be abused inside the US base or by Iraqi army …so it will be more criminal …he is kid” I said to the soldier. At that time I was hoping he would arrest me, so I would be able to see my nephew and take care of him. I can speak English and this could be helpful to avoid bad soldiers and naughty behaviors of them. “We don’t abuse prisoners, ” the American soldiers said. “I am not sure about this, and I am sure your friends will send him to the Iraqi soldiers to abuse him as usual….so it will be big problem for my family if this happens,” I said. “All that I can say, we are not sure if your arrested friends are good or bad so that’s why they were arrested. In addition the kid was carrying explosive devices.” the soldier said Note, just before the soldier said we don’t know about this arresting case. …….“The kid was carrying a mobile phone, that can be used for remote explosions,” he said. “It is just a mobile phone, they arrested him for that?? It is just a phone,” I said with surprise, and looking at the soldier’s eyes. “We will make sure why he carries this phone, that’s all. So calm down,” he said, smiling and looking at his friends who almost laughed at these words. That is a bad thing …..it seems like they are just playing …..while we are talking about a kid being arrested. My friends visited me to find out what problem my family had and offer help and support. One of my friend said something, but I did not think about it. He said, “If you need those who will help you to make revenge, I can help,” he said that.

I am losing my peaceful soul more and more.

The Facts on the Ground: Mini-Gulags, Hired Guns, Lobbyists, and a Reality Built on Fear

Camp Bucca is a story you can't read anywhere – and yet it may, in a sense, be the most important American story in Iraq right now. While arguments spin endlessly here at home about the nature of withdrawal "timetables," and who's cutting and running from what, and how many troops we will or won't have in-country in 2007, 2008, or 2009, on the ground a process continues that makes mockery of the debate in Washington and in the country. While the "reconstruction" of Iraq has come to look ever more like the deconstruction of Iraq, the construction of an ever more permanent-looking American landscape in that country has proceeded apace and with reasonable efficiency. First, we had those huge military bases that officials were careful never to label "permanent." (For a while, they were given the charming name of "enduring camps" by the Pentagon.) Just about no one in the mainstream bothered to write about them for a couple of years as quite literally billions of dollars were poured into them and they morphed into the size of American towns with their own bus routes, sports facilities, Pizza Huts, Subways, Burger Kings, and mini-golf courses. Huge as they now are, elaborate as they now are, they are still continually being upgraded. Now, it seems that on one of them we have $60 million worth of the first "permanent U.S. prison" in Iraq. Meanwhile, in the heart of Baghdad, the Bush administration is building what's probably the largest, best fortified "embassy" in the solar system with its own elaborate apartment complexes and entertainment facilities, meant for a staff of 3,500. If, for a moment, you stop listening to the arguments about, or even the news about, Iraq here at home and just concentrate on the ignored reality of those facts-on-the-ground, you're likely to assess our world somewhat differently. After all, those facts being made on the ground – essentially policy-put-into-action without the trappings of debate, democracy, media coverage, or checks and balances of any sort – are unlikely to be altered or halted in any foreseeable future by debate or opinion polls in our country. All that is likely to alter them is other facts on the ground – a growing insurgency, the deaths of Americans and Iraqis in ever greater numbers, a region increasingly thrown into turmoil, and maybe, one of these days, a full-scale, in-the-streets reaction by the Shiites of Iraq to the occupation of their country by a foreign power intent on going nowhere anytime soon.

…… Even with Abu Ghraib empty and the secret prison system officially emptied, nearly 15,000 prisoners are being held by the U.S. essentially incommunicado, most beyond the eyes of any system of justice, beyond the reach of any judges or juries. In many cases, as in the case of Bilal Hussein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Iraqi photojournalist, who has been held, probably at Camp Cropper, without charge or trial "on suspicion of collaborating with insurgents" for the last five months, even that most basic right – to know exactly why you are being held, what the charges are against you – is lacking. Whatever arguments may be going on in Washington over which "tools" or "interrogation techniques" the CIA is to be allowed to use or over exactly how the 14 al-Qaeda detainees just transferred to Guantanamo will be tried, this set of facts-on-the-ground adds up to our own global Bermuda Triangle of Injustice into which untold numbers of human beings can simply disappear. The "crown jewel" of our mini-gulag is, of course, Guantanamo. And again, whatever the fierce arguments here may be about Guantanamo "methods" or what kinds of commissions or tribunals (if any) may finally be chosen for the run-of-the-mill prisoners there, one fact-on-the-ground points us toward the actual lay of the land. A little publicized $30-million maximum-security wing at Guantanamo is now being completed by the U.S. Navy, just as at the American prison at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, there has been an upgrade. In all-too-real worlds beyond our reach, everything tends toward permanency. Whatever the discussion may be, whatever issues may seem to be gripping Washington or the nation, whatever you're watching on TV or reading in the papers, elsewhere the continual constructing, enlarging, expanding, entrenching of a new global system of imprisonment, which bears no relation to any system of imprisonment Americans have previously imagined, continues non-stop, unchecked and unbalanced by Congress or the courts, unaffected by the Republic, but very distinctly under the flag "for which it stands."

CIA-Sponsored Death Squads in Iraq

How could we have been so blind, decrying the scores of daily deaths of Iraqis without ever demanding the end of the CIA-sponsored death squads there? Many of us have been comparing the war in Iraq to Vietnam without focusing on the more obvious parallels to the modus operandi and US personnel that Iraq shares with the previous US-sponsored conflicts in the El Salvador and Guatemala of the 1980's. The difference is crucially important, because it is the key to the source of the rampant "unexplained" and "unattributed" deaths of Iraqis that we read of in the papers each day. To determine who is doing all the death-squad killing in Iraq, lets just add up what President has told us, factor in the post-Central America anti-insurgency team he has appointed, and then draw the dreadfully obvious and necessary conclusions.

January 2005: The Death Squad Option

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has held El Salvador up as a model for Iraq. And during the recent Vice Presidential debates, Vice President Dick Cheney stated, "Twenty years ago we had a similar situation in El Salvador. We had a guerilla insurgency that controlled roughly a third of the country, 75,000 people dead. And we held free elections ... And today El Salvador is a whale of a lot better because we held free elections." According to a 1993 U.N.-sponsored truth commission, however, up to "90 percent of the atrocities in the conflict "were committed by the U.S.-sponsored army and its surrogates, "with the rebels responsible for 5 percent and the remaining 5 percent undetermined." These death squads "abducted members of the civilian population and of rebel groups. They tortured their hostages, were responsible for their disappearance and usually executed them."

John Negroponte, the current U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, is no stranger to death squads. In the 1980s, Negroponte served as the U.S. ambassador to Honduras. At the time, he was cozy with the chief of the Honduran national police force, Gen. Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, who also ran the infamous Battalion 316 death squad. Battalion 316 "kidnapped, tortured and murdered more than 100 people between 1981 and 1984." According to Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, "Negroponte publicly adopted a see-no-evil attitude to this army death squad."

President Bush also appointed neocon Elliot Abrams to be his senior adviser on the Middle East. Abrams was also a staunch supporter of the Salvador Option in the 1980s: when newspapers "reported that a U.S.-trained military unit had massacred hundreds of villagers in the tiny Salvadoran hamlet of El Mozote, Abrams told Congress the story was nothing but communist propaganda." When confronted with the United Nations report that the vast majority of "atrocities in El Salvador's civil war were committed by Reagan-assisted death squads," Abrams's response: "The administration's record on El Salvador is one of fabulous achievements." Abrams was convicted of lying to Congress about Iran-Contra in 1987 – he was pardoned by George H.W. Bush in 1992.

December 2003: Israel Trains US Assassination Squads in Iraq

Israeli advisers are helping train US special forces in aggressive counter-insurgency operations in Iraq, including the use of assassination squads against guerrilla leaders, US intelligence and military sources said yesterday. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has sent urban warfare specialists to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the home of US special forces, and according to two sources, Israeli military "consultants" have also visited Iraq. US forces in Iraq's Sunni triangle have already begun to use tactics that echo Israeli operations in the occupied territories, sealing off centres of resistance with razor wire and razing buildings from where attacks have been launched against US troops. But the secret war in Iraq is about to get much tougher, in the hope of suppressing the Ba'athist-led insurgency ahead of next November's presidential elections. US special forces teams are already behind the lines inside Syria attempting to kill foreign jihadists before they cross the border, and a group focused on the "neutralisation" of guerrilla leaders is being set up, according to sources familiar with the operations. "This is basically an assassination programme. That is what is being conceptualised here. This is a hunter-killer team," said a former senior US intelligence official, who added that he feared the new tactics and enhanced cooperation with Israel would only inflame a volatile situation in the Middle East. "It is bonkers, insane. Here we are - we're already being compared to Sharon in the Arab world, and we've just confirmed it by bringing in the Israelis and setting up assassination teams." "They are being trained by Israelis in Fort Bragg," a well-informed intelligence source in Washington said. "Some Israelis went to Iraq as well, not to do training, but for providing consultations." The consultants' visit to Iraq was confirmed by another US source who was in contact with American officials there. The Pentagon did not return calls seeking comment, but a military planner, Brigadier General Michael Vane, mentioned the cooperation with Israel in a letter to Army magazine in July about the Iraq counter-insurgency campaign. "We recently travelled to Israel to glean lessons learned from their counterterrorist operations in urban areas," wrote General Vane, deputy chief of staff at the army's training and doctrine command. An Israeli official said the IDF regularly shared its experience in the West Bank and Gaza with the US armed forces, but said he could not comment about cooperation in Iraq.

September 2001: Scandal? What Scandal?

Bush’s Iran-Contra Appointees Are Barely A Story

Throughout the summer of 2001, the media were profligate with resources for the Chandra Levy story, excavating every corner of her and Rep. Gary Condit's past to unearth a prurient bounty of personal detail. That level of investigative vigor mighthave exposed far more vital information had it been applied to Bush's appointment of numerous Iran-Contra veterans to key posts. But with a few admirable exceptions, news stories about Elliot Abrams, John Negroponte and Otto Reich have largely relied on past reporting and he-said, she-said soundbites by the usual supporters and critics, rather than in-depth investigations into their complicity in one of the bloodiest scandals of the past 20 years. And their guilt is based not on speculation or gossip, but on hard evidence that they aided torturers and death squads, circumvented Congress and the Constitution, and deceived the American people. Washington spent more than $4 billion on El Salvador in the ’80s, backing wildly brutal regimes and their death squads against a leftist insurgency. The 12-year civil war left 75,000 Salvadorans dead--overwhelmingly civilians killed by U.S.-supported forces. As Reagan's assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs, and later for inter-American affairs, Elliott Abrams, in his own words, "supervised U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean" (Ethics and Public Policy Center). He helped cover up one of the worst atrocities of the war: a Salvadoran army massacre in El Mozote that left 800 to 1000 civilians dead. In Nicaragua, after the leftist Sandinistas overthrew the U.S.-supported dictator in 1979, Washington created and funded the Contras, a guerrilla army that concentrated its fire on civilians. The Reagan administration escalated the civil war after the leftist Sandinista party won an election endorsed as free and fair by international monitoring agencies. In a campaign to tarnish the Sandinistas and gild the Contras, Otto Reich's Office of Public Diplomacy pressured U.S. media and planted ghostwritten articles and editorials. The comptroller-general of the U.S., a Republican appointee, found that the OPD had violated a ban on domestic propaganda. Under Ambassador John Negroponte, neighboring Honduras grew so crammed with U.S. bases and weapons that it was dubbed the U.S.S. Honduras, as if it were simply an off-shore staging ground for the Contra war. While poverty raged, U.S. military aid jumped from $3.9 million in 1980 to $77.4 million by 1984. The Honduran army, especially the U.S.-trained Battalion 316, engaged in widespread human rights abuses, including kidnapping, torture and assassination. Negroponte worked closely with the perpetrators and covered up their crimes, according to Ambassador Jack Binns, his predecessor in the post (In These Times, 2/28/01). Spurred on by media reports and popular protests against U.S. intervention in Central America, Congress passed the Boland amendment, which cut off most military aid to the Contras. Undaunted, the Reagan administration circumvented Congress and popular outrage by waging a covert war and raising money for the Contras from private and foreign sources. One of the "neat ideas" Oliver North and his cronies concocted was to funnel profits to the Contras from the secret sale of U.S. arms to Iran--which was under embargo after seizing Americans as hostages. The discovery of this and other illegal schemes led to the Iran-Contra scandal, in which Negroponte, Abrams and Reich played key roles.

Iraq Sunni Group Claims Baghdad Attack on Shi’ites

An Iraqi Sunni Muslim militant group claimed responsibility for a bomb attack which killed 26 people in a Shi'ite stronghold in east Baghdad on Saturday and said it was in retaliation for killings of unarmed Sunnis. "This operation comes in reaction to the crimes of the (Shi'ite militia) Mehdi Army against our Sunni kin in Baghdad," Jamaat Jund al-Sahaba, Soldiers of the Prophet's Companions, said in a statement posted on the Internet. The blast also wounded 29 people who had gathered around a fuel tanker distributing fuel for stoves in Baghdad's Sadr City, slum stronghold of the movement of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, police sources said.

"We tell the hateful rejectionists (Shi'ites) that our swords can reach the depth of your areas, so stop killing unarmed Sunnis and stop siding with the crusaders," said the statement, whose authenticity could not be verified. The explosion came as Iraq's Sunnis observed the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which U.S. commanders have warned may see a rise in sectarian bloodshed. Earlier in September, the same group claimed responsibility for a series of attacks against Shi'ites in Baghdad which killed 50 people.

Leader of Sunni Kurd al-Qaida Militant Group Arrested

Meanwhile, Muntasir Hamoud Ileiwi al-Jubouri and two of his aides were arrested late Friday near Muqdadiyah, about 50 miles northeast of Baghdad, said Brig. Qassim al-Mussawi, spokesman for the General Command of the Armed Forces the prime minister's military office. Ansar al-Sunnah, a Sunni militant group, has claimed responsibility for numerous suicide attacks, the August 2004 execution of 12 Nepalese hostages and a December 2004 explosion at a U.S. military mess hall in Mosul that killed 22 people. It is believed to be an offshoot of another group, Ansar Al-Islam. That group is made up mostly of Kurds with close links to al-Qaida in Iraq. It has been blamed for a number of attacks, including attempts to assassinate Kurdish officials. Ansar al-Sunna is part of the Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of insurgent groups including al-Qaida in Iraq that was co-founded by the late Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Documents and assault rifles were seized with the three men, but no details were available. Defense ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari told Iraqi state TV that al-Jubouri was arrested by soldiers from the 3rd brigade of the Iraqi army's 5th division.

Leader of al-Qaida in Iraq Identified in Previously Released Video

The leader of al-Qaida in Iraq is purportedly shown in a video re-released just ahead of Ramadan, according to a statement posted with the recording on the Internet identifying the executioner of a Turkish hostage as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer. The appearance of the video marks the first time he is shown in images believed to have been released by militants since he took over the group in June. The video came at a time when U.S. and Iraqi officials have said they are making inroads against al-Qaida in Iraq, arresting or killing a number of its leaders. It appeared Friday night just as Sunni Arabs in Iraq announced the start of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. There have been warnings from U.S. officials that attacks are expected to intensify during Ramadan and the video could be a signal from al-Masri to his followers. The government of Iraq and Shiites have not yet announced the start of Ramadan and are expected to do so Sunday or Monday. The video, which the accompanying statement said was "old," had been released in Aug. 2, 2004. The Associated Press did not report at the time if any of the three militants were identified by name, describing them only as loyal to then-leader of al-Qaida in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The video reappeared on a Web site frequently used by Islamist militants. Abu Ayyoub al-Masri, a Sunni Muslim who is also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, assumed leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq after al-Zarqawi was slain in a June 7 U.S. airstrike.

Iranian-Canadian Kids Sent to Guerrilla Camp In Iraq

An Iranian terrorist group recruited teenaged children out of Canada and sent them to a guerrilla camp in Iraq, an investigation by the National Post has found. The Mujahedin-e Khalq sent recruiters to Toronto to entice youths of Iranian heritage into joining an armed resistance campaign aimed at overthrowing the Iranian government. A banned terrorist organization under Canadian law since 2005, the MEK worked out of a base in residential homes in Toronto, former members of the group said in interviews. While the bases looked like ordinary households from the outside, inside everyone wore military uniforms and the walls were decorated with MEK flags and portraits of guerrilla leaders, they said. The Canadian MEK network raised money, staged protests against Iran and lobbied politicians, but it also recruited underage youths to travel to a desolate guerrilla outpost near the Iran-Iraq border called Camp Ashraf. Former MEK activists said the Canadian base worked closely with a similar U.S. outfit in Sleepy Hollow, Va., called the Pirayesh. The Post was able to view videos of recruiting sessions conducted there. A Toronto man who spent five years at Camp Ashraf, beginning when he was 16, said in an interview he underwent military training but was imprisoned when he asked to return home. The account is consistent with a recent report by New York-based Human Rights Watch, which said the MEK had detained, tortured and killed "defectors" who had tried to leave the camp.

Leadership Failings Blamed for Abuse of Iraqi Prisoners

Neglect of duty by senior military officers led to abuse of captive Iraqi civilians and the use of interrogation techniques forbidden by the British Army for more than 30 years, a court martial was told yesterday. Colonel Jorge Mendonca, the former commanding officer of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, and Major Michael Peebles and Warrant Officer Mark Davies, of the Intelligence Corps, were accused of failing to have a checking system which could have prevented assaults which left one prisoner, Baha Mousa, dead and others seriously injured.

Iraqi Troop Numbers Increase But Security Still Fragile

There has been a substantial increase in the number of Iraqi troops but maintaining security is still a far fetched dream. The Ministry of Defense says it has 130,000 troops under arms, however it still finds hard to spread government control over any sector of Baghdad. In the meantime, U.S. troops are passing security to Iraqi troops in several provinces, a move many here see as a prelude to scaling back their numbers in the country. Practically, there are more foreign soldiers in the country than the number of local troops U.S. and its allies could train in the past four years. There are more than 135,000 U.S. troops in the country. Despite their much better logistics, arms and firepower, the troops have dismally failed to subdue any of the restive areas in the country. Observers say they cannot see how the poorly equipped Iraqi army, already divided on ethnic and sectarian grounds, could stabilize the country. Iraqi troops’ loyalty is also in doubt. Certain sects or ethnic groups dominate in certain battalions and some are reported to have refused orders to fight in areas inhabited mainly by members of their sects. The army has 15,000 land troops and only 700 in the air force. Special Forces strength is barely 1,500 men. It has 1,100 marines and 1,000 support troops. Under former leader Saddam Hussein there were nearly half a million soldiers in the army. Saddam also had his Republican Guards of five divisions – 50,000 men – as well as emergency units, and highly sophisticated intelligence and security organs. This besides police forces which numbered more than 100,000. Iraqi troops were easily defeated in the southern city of Diwaniya recently at the hands of local militias. Observes say the transfer of security from U.S. to Iraqi forces, highlighted in both local and international media, is merely a showcase and part of a public relations exercise. The cities where the transfer takes place are either under the control of local militias or insurgents, they say, adding that U.S. troops, despite their massive capabilities, have never been in control.

Steady Gas and Power Supplies Boost Petrochemical Output

For the first time since the 2003 U.S. invasion the State Company for Petrochemical Industries boosts output to 10,000 tons in nearly seven months. A statement faxed to the newspaper, said the hike in the company’s output is mainly due to the steady supply of power and gas it enjoyed in the same period. Erratic power and gas supplies were blamed for the company’s troubles. The company has several factories in Iraq with the largest complex situated in the southern city of Basra. The company’s products this year has been instrumental in relative boost in agricultural produce. Plastic sheets to protect plants and fertilizers are among the main products the company churns out. The Basra-headquartered company has 4500 workers on its payroll.

War Price on US Lives Equal to 9/11

The latest milestone for a country at war came Friday without commemoration. It came without the precision of knowing who was the 2,974th to die in conflict. The terrorist attacks killed 2,973 victims in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. An Associated Press count of the U.S. death toll in Iraq rose to 2,696. Combined with 278 U.S. deaths in and around Afghanistan, the 9/11 toll was reached, then topped, the same day. [The number of Iraqi civilians killed in July and August of this year is twice that number. Overall, it is at least 25 times the number killed on 9/11, and could easily be 60+ times the number. And the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan has far outstripped the number killed on 9/11 also. – dancewater]

A new study on the war dead and where they come from suggests that the notion of "rich man's war, poor man's fight" has become a little truer over time. Among the Americans killed in the Iraq war, 34 percent have come from communities reporting the lowest levels of family income. Half come from middle income communities and only 17 percent from the highest income level. That's a change from World War II, when all income groups were represented about equally. In Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, the poor have made up a progressively larger share of casualties, by this analysis.

MORE than 7,000 Brits have been injured in Iraq since the US-led invasion, it emerged last night. The official figures, released for the first time since the conflict started, expose the brutal reality of the war on terror. Between March 2003 and July this year, 7,308 UK military personnel and civilians were wounded. Some 4,438 were serious enough to be evacuated. The MoD admitted UK casualties could be even higher as it is still searching records. It is feared the true figure could top 10,000.


OPINION: Mortar Attacks Signal Start of Civil War

The current sectarian conflict is taking new and dangerous directions which all demonstrate that the country is at the doorstep of a full-scale civil war. The conflict has taken an extremely alarming turn as more deadly weapons enter into the bloody sectarian fray. Iraqis have always been armed to their teeth and under former leader Saddam Hussein one could officially take an automatic rifle, a rocket launcher or even a mortar home. If you declared loyalty to the regime, you could easily have your way to Baath party depot. It did not matter whether you were really loyal. However, there were no instances of Iraqis turning those guns against their neighbors because they belonged to a different sect, religion or ethnic group. True, opposition groups occasionally waged mortar and Katyusha multiple rocket launchers at the regime’s security forces but we have no instances of Iraqis attacking Iraqis for sectarian, religious or ethnic reasons. But today mortars and Katyushas are the weapons of choice for armed groups of residential quarters in mixed cities. Even villages of opposite sects resort to these deadly weapons fired indiscriminately at civilians. Only God knows how many innocent Iraqis are being killed or maimed as a result of these attacks. In Baghdad mortar bombs and Katyusha rockets start falling on residential quarters as the night falls. There is no one to hear or pay a damn for the wails of children and women that break the silence of the night in the aftermath of the bombing. For example, Baghdad which is home to more than five million people turns into a battlefield at night. It is a tit for tat between the capital’s various residential quarters. If a Shiite-dominated quarter fires mortars and Katyushas at Sunni-dominated area, then it goes without saying that the former will be targeted by the latter almost immediately. The point with Baghdad and almost most of Iraq is that they turn into no-man’s land at night. Even the Americans do not have the guts to patrol any part of Baghdad at night. So, the rebels, insurgents, militants, terrorists, or whatever you want to call them have the whole arena for themselves. How can peace and stability return to Iraq if government forces or the occupation troops do not have the courage to remain on the streets of Baghdad and other major cities after 4 pm? There are reports that U.S. and Iraqi troops would like to dig a moat around Baghdad to prevent gunmen from entering the city. But the gunmen are already inside the city. Perhaps they will need to build moats separating different quarters of Baghdad and then move on to build walls between certain districts and separate streets from one another by concrete fortifications as is the case with the Green Zone.

Raise the Iraq Freedom Congress Flag on September 24, 2006

There can be no security and stability under occupation. This interview was conducted by IFC webmaster Amjad Al-jawhary with Samir Adil on the anniversary of the U.S. decision to invade Iraq under a pretext of Saddam’s regime having WMD.

Amjad Al-jawhary: How do you view this anniversary after four years of occupation?

Samir Adil: As we all know, today marks the forth anniversary of the day in 2002 that the U.S. Administration decided to invade Iraq. After years of occupation, the truth is unveiled. The pretexts for war proved to be pathetic justification for destroying and burning an entire society, and the resurgence of the most vicious and reactionary ideologies and the unleashing of their sectarian gangs. Having said that, humanitarian forces and the anti-occupation current consider this occasion a day of protest against the inhumane policies of the U.S. Administration to impose its views and concepts of a new world order on our globe. We have issued our statement titled “September 24 is the day in which the Iraqi people were sentenced to death.” We have mentioned in detail what happened after four years of occupation, and outlined our actions on this particular day. In my view, it is an opportunity to show the U.S. Administration and those who revolve in its orbit that there is a third current in the Iraqi society that rejects their policies, puppet government, and the outcome of its policies, meaning the sectarian groups who justify their crimes by killing innocent civilians stating that they fight the occupation forces. It is also an opportunity to tell the U.S. Administration that the voice of freedom is much louder than its lethal weapons; it is the current that rejects all inhumane acts and part of the international libertarian trend as well. On this day Iraq Freedom Congress will bring the global attention to a civilized current that aims to salvage the society from those evils and establish freedom and equality in the society so people can be identified based on their humanitarian identity.


Well, at least we now have moral clarity.

We are, in a sense, at the moment of truth. The sadistic and/or bizarre acts committed in Guatanamo, Abu Ghraib and the CIA's secret prisons can be written off as the crimes of a few bad apples with names like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld -- or, more charitably, as the consequences of a string of bad and brutal decisions made under emergency conditions by men who were terrified by all the things they didn't know about Al Qaeda. Either way, they were not acts of national policy, endorsed and approved by Congress after open, public debate. But, thanks to the Hamdan decision, the question is now formally on the table . . . So now we'll find out, I guess, what we're really made of as a nation -- down deep, in our core.

Whiskey Bar A Tortured Definition September 15, 2006

The bad news is that Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects. He will do so by issuing his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions in an executive order and by relying on questionable Justice Department opinions that authorize such practices as exposing prisoners to hypothermia and prolonged sleep deprivation.

Under the compromise agreed to yesterday, Congress would recognize his authority to take these steps and prevent prisoners from appealing them to U.S. courts. The bill would also immunize CIA personnel from prosecution for all but the most serious abuses and protect those who in the past violated U.S. law against war crimes.

Washington Post The Abuse Can Continue September 22, 2006


Today Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, condemned the compromise on redefining America’s commitments under the Geneva Conventions announced by President Bush yesterday. “For the Bush Administration, the air is too thin on the moral high ground,” Rep. Markey said. “While the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress may be breathing a little easier today, our troops abroad may be in jeopardy because of this serious erosion of the protections in the Geneva Conventions." The compromise reached between White House negotiators and Senators John McCain (R-AZ), John Warner (R-VA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who had opposed the President’s initial legislation for military tribunals, grants retroactive immunity to American officials who may have ordered or committed war crimes since 1997. The agreement, if enacted into law, will also make many practices which are prohibited by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions legal under American law. “By using legal mumbo-jumbo to obscure the fact that the CIA will continue to be allowed to use torture and will actually be insulated from legal liability for previous acts of torture, President Bush is proceeding ever further down the slippery slope that Colin Powel warned us will endanger American troops in the field by encouraging other countries to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions,” Rep. Markey concluded. Rep. Markey is a long-standing advocate for human rights, and has led the fight in the House of Representatives to end the practice of extraordinary rendition. He is the author of H.R. 952, the Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act, which would outlaw the use of extraordinary rendition as well as the use of so-called “diplomatic assurances” as the basis for transfers of persons to countries that are known human rights violators. In June 2006, Rep. Markey successfully amended the Defense Appropriations bill to bar the use of any funds in contravention of United States’ commitments under the Geneva Conventions. That amendment currently awaits further action in the U.S. Senate.

Torture the Law of the Land

The key players in the U.S. Senate have agreed with the Bush administration to retroactively legalize torture by U.S. government agents. The compromise deal struck yesterday will block prosecution for CIA officials who tortured detainees since 9/11. I would expect that, in the name of “fair play,” someone will begin pushing similar legislation to give immunity to U.S. military officials who tortured detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq. The legislative “compromise” blocks detainees from suing in federal court after they have been tortured. Game, set, match. And it is worse than naive for Americans to comfort themselves with the notion that the U.S. government will only torture “Islamo-fascists.” The administration’s Enemies List is far more expansive.

My Own Opinion Piece

The fact is WE ALL DIE ONE DAY. There is no getting around that - it is only a matter of time. Now, our officials in DC and a lot of people across this country feel we have to use torture, kidnapping, murder, abuse, spying with no legal oversight, wars of aggression, threats, bombings, bullying, detention without charges or jury or judge and even without habeas corpus (the right to know what you were detained for) – all of that, to keep us ‘safe’. They claim that if we don’t do these things, we will DIE (if the imaginary WMDs don’t get us first, I guess). Frankly, I think they have got this exactly backwards. I think by doing those things, we inspire more terrorism. Plus, I don’t believe we can use these methods to eradicate terrorism, since we would be inspiring more and more terrorists every day. But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume they are right. If we do the above-mentioned behaviors, we die later. If we don’t do those horrible behaviors that all decent people abhor, we die sooner. So, the real question is: Do we want to die later and engage in immoral behaviors the entire time, not to mention living our lives in fear? Or do we want to risk dying sooner, but living moral and just lives that we can be proud of? I choose dying sooner. I don’t want to live in the other world. I don’t want to EVEN be a part of it.

Now, at this point in time just five years after the terrorist attack of 9/11, we have more Americans dead from fighting terrorism than Americans who died from terrorism. And we have way, way, way more innocents dead from our behaviors and actions than the bin Laden group ever planned to have killed. It seems to me that the bin Laden group, like Timothy MacVeigh, don’t give a damn who they kill or hurt or destroy. And I do not see any sign that most of our current government feels any differently. They just don’t care. I don’t want to be like them. Or like anyone else on the planet who kills innocents and does not feel grief and shame for having done so, no matter what reason they come up with.

And here is another facts-on-the-ground reality: there will ALWAYS be murderous nutcases among us. Sometimes we can catch them in the planning stages (but, usually not) and sometimes we can catch them after they have hurt or killed only one. Sometimes we do not catch them until they have done extensive harm. Sometimes we never catch them. I do not know why there are some human beings wired up this way, but they are. And they cannot control it anymore than I can control being female or short or born in the USA. And I know all this from personal experience, when one nutcase killed a friend of mine, for no sane reason (the murderer thought he was being poisoned by my friend via the heating ducts). When they put this guy in jail and on medication, he woke up to what he had done and was very sorry. I believe there are humans out there who will never be sorry for any hurt or harm they caused another: they just cannot do it. And we just have to live with that reality without letting it destroy us or destroy our lives, just like we have to live with the fact that we will die one day. The only thing we can control is the choices that we make. I abhor the choices being made by my government, and they are not a reflection of my wishes or values or morals at all. They are choosing evil. - dancewater

PEACE ACTION: Take the voters’ peace pledge. "I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."

ANOTHER PEACE ACTION: Progressive Democrats of America has been working and organizing support for HR 4232 since Rep. McGovern introduced this important bill in November of 2005. Rep. McGovern spoke at the PDA "Get out of Iraq" Town Hall meeting the day after he introduced HR 4232. We continue to work for its passage as a top legislative priority. We urge you to continue organizing support for HR 4232 and to ask your Congressional member to co-sponsor the bill. PDA is committed to cutting off all funding for deployment of US troops in Iraq and for the removal of all funding for the occupation of Iraq. Please sign the online petition at www.pdamerica.org and send it to your friends.


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