Friday, October 13, 2006
DAILY WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2006
PHOTO: Sunni-Arab Shaabiya satellite television station employees comfort each other in front of the station's building in Baghdad, Thursday Oct. 12, 2006. An unknown number of gunmen pulled up at the station in seven cars, stormed quickly into the offices and opened fire killing eleven station's employees. (AP Photo/Samir Mizban)
Security Incidents for October 13, 2006
[This is a new feature on www.antiwar.com website. A woman named Margaret Griffis has started posting a list of security incidents in Iraq on a given day. She started just this month. It will be interesting to see how her compilation compares to whisker’s. I will update later with whisker’s links. – dancewater]
In a relatively quiet Friday, at least 43 people have died and 14 others were wounded during continuing violence in Iraq. Among the dead are two British contractors, the head of a special operations unit and a religious leader.
Two British security contractors were killed and their driver injured when a roadside bomb blasted their vehicle on the road between Karbala and Najaf.
Hillah’s police station was the scene of a bomb explosion. Colonel Salam al-Maamuri and five others died when a bomb planted inside the building went off. Twelve others were wounded. Al-Maamuri was the head of the Scorpion squad, a special operations unit.
Sheikh Radhi al-Assadi was gunned down near Basra. He was the head of a local Shi’ite religious association.
In Kirkuk, Three Shi’ite youths were gunned down next to a cigarette stand, and an off-duty soldier was killed in front of his house.
A police corporal was shot dead inside his home in Amara.
In separate events in Baquba, gunmen killed five and wounded one, including a father and his two sons.
Sgt. Justin Walsh, of Cuyahoga Falls, was trying to defuse an improvised explosive device Oct. 4 when he was critically wounded by a second bomb. He was flown from Iraq to the National Navy Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where he died Wednesday, said Jim Walsh, his father.
The morgue of a local hospital received the corpses of seven men, riddled with bullets in various parts of their bodies, who were killed in an area west of Balad, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, a hospital source said.
Whisker caught all the earlier ones, too. NOTE: A BIG THANKS TO WHISKER FOR PUTTING TOGETHER THE SECURITY INCIDENTS IN IRAQ AND FORWARDING THEM TO ME.
Iraq Loses 25 Police to Violence Each Day: US Trainer [Can you imagine the USA losing 300 police officers a day? – dancewater]
"We budgeted for 10 Iraqi policemen killed every day and 15 wounded in action to the point where they had to be retired from action" in 2006, Gerald Burke, National Security Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior said. Burke described the appalling conditions facing police whom he helped train, to a meeting of the Democratic Policy Committee, which includes Democratic legislators. He blamed much of the current bloodshed on the US government's "failure to recognize the importance of security in the immediate post-conflict environment, in particular our failure to support the rule of law."
Ali is a collector of the dead. That's his job, or at least one of them. He is also a cook at a kebab house in Baghdad and a member of the Mahdi Army, a Shia militia loyal to the militant cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. As a collector, his morbid duty is to sweep up the carnage of a sectarian war spiralling out of control -- one that Iraqi officials and their American overseers are trying desperately to downplay -- and quietly transport it to Iraq's main morgue, located in the heavily fortified Medical City in Baghdad's Bab al-Muatham neighbourhood, where all suspicious deaths are taken. Every three days, Ali says, he and other al-Sadr militiamen go to the Tigris river to pick up bodies. At a spot on the bank just downstream from the Aima bridge in central Baghdad, a series of eddies gently gather in the dead. "More and more are coming there," Ali says, "from north of Baghdad, from villages like Taji and Balad. Many have their hands tied, most are blindfolded." The method of execution varies, Ali adds, from the basic bullet to the head to more macabre and viciously novel techniques involving power tools, electric cords and other such domestic instruments. "These are all Shia brothers and sisters murdered by Sunnis," says Ali, a Shia militant himself who has carried out his own revenge attacks on Sunnis. When pressed, he admits there "may be" some Sunnis floating down the Tigris as well. "But they were killed in defence of our Shia brothers and sisters," he claims. "They are not innocent victims." Sectarian hostility aside, there is another aspect to Ali's work that is troubling: the deaths of the people whose bodies he pulls out of the river often go unreported, leading to questions about the real scale of the violence in Iraq. Even the wildly fluctuating official death counts are a stark reminder that Iraqi, and by association U.S. officials, are attempting to minimize a problem getting worse by the day. Earlier this year, the figures released by the government following the Feb. 22 bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, a Shia holy site, which has been cited as the spark that started the current round of killings, were suspiciously lower than numbers provided by morgue officials. But as for the overall picture, a September report published by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq paints a grim picture: civilian deaths reached a record high for July and August with 6,600 civilians killed. Still, even these figures don't tell the whole story. For that, a visit to Medical City is in order. The Ministry of Health has instituted a strict policy for journalists, requiring them to seek permission before visiting the facility. Those allowed in get only a truly sanitized tour; more often than not reporters are barred from entering. But at the gate, guards who have worked at the facility tell a chilling tale. "Last year, I saw maybe 1,000 bodies a month coming into the morgue," says one man who, fearing for his life, requested his name not be published. "Now we're getting nearly 1,000 a week." [This is a repeat link, but I think it is very important. –dancewater]
Sectarian violence, armed militias and death squads have created a situation in Iraq where revenge attacks go unchecked, the United Nations' top humanitarian official said Wednesday, citing statistics that 100 people are being killed there every day. "Many of those are killed by gunshots or have been tortured to death," Jan Egeland said. "Revenge killing seems to be totally out of control." Egeland, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said the "blunt, brutal violence" has targeted police, recruits, judges and lawyers. Women, he added, were increasingly being attacked in so-called honor killings. In addition to the deaths, he said the "very worrying deterioration of conditions" for Iraqi civilians has resulted in 315,000 people being uprooted from their homes in the past eight months. He said sectarian violence and military operations were responsible. The United Nations' chief anti-torture expert also warned last month that torture may now be more widespread than it was under Saddam's regime, with militias, terrorist groups and government forces disregarding rules on the humane treatment of prisoners.
The little-known city of Baquba is emerging as one of the hotbeds of resistance in Iraq, with clashes breaking out every day. The violence in this city 30 mi. northeast of Baghdad is also now spreading elsewhere around Diyala province. "The new waves of terror are now forming a variety that we predicted long ago," a political leader in the city told IPS. "The Iraqi people have complained to everyone, but naturally no one will do anything about it. We know who is in charge and who is responsible and eventually who is to be dammed. It is the government of the United States of America." The local leader, speaking from his home in Baquba, said the situation in the area was becoming dire in the face of the recent violence. "The worst is the direct participation of the national security forces in criminal acts, and the U.S. Army's sudden disappearance from the scene as soon as those murderers show up," he said. Many have been killed, and hundreds arrested in the province, he said. The al-Tawafuq Sunni party has demanded a full investigation into the violence in Baquba, and immediate release of the detained civilians. "We are sure the arrests were made under sectarian flags and those detainees are innocent farmers captured in their own plantations," the group said in a statement. An Iraqi army colonel told reporters in Diyala last week that that U.S. troops had arrested 10 Iraqi soldiers suspected of sectarian killings. There was no official U.S. comment. Iraqi MP Muhammad al-Dayni appeared on al-Jazeera television to say that Brig. Gen. al-Kaabi, leader of the fifth division in charge of Diyala province security, had led the arrest of 400 civilians. Hundreds of houses had been looted, he said. Al-Dayni accused the parties in power of supporting such acts, referring to the Shia parties in parliament. The fighting has intensified now, but Baquba has long been a city of fierce resistance to the occupation. Resistance groups have often frustrated the efforts of the Multi-National Forces (MNF) and Iraqi security forces to bring the city under their control. Residents of Baquba told IPS that an Iraqi police brigadier-general had used loudspeakers to announce dire warnings to residents.
First to go was the pastry shop next door. That was early last spring. Since then, Alaa al Janabi, 46, has watched as Baghdad's epidemic of violence drained the life from his street, one store at a time. Not long ago, about a dozen shops lined the one-block stretch of road in southwest Baghdad's Saidia neighborhood. Now only Janabi's computer-game arcade and the barbershop one door down remain, and the barber sneaks in for only a couple of hours each day, at a time whispered like a password to longtime customers. Along a nearby section of a bit more than a mile, where 140 shops once stood only 23 remain. So many merchants in the area have been killed - or fled in fear that they would be - that the result of staying seems obvious, especially for a Shiite Muslim in a neighborhood that's being methodically cleansed by Sunni Muslims, who dominate the area. ''I am here waiting to die,'' Janabi said. …… The ice cream shop closed in May before the peak of its season because the owner couldn't make enough to pay the rent. His customers saw no need to risk their lives seeking a luxury. The bakery across the street closed about six months ago during a wave of violence against bakers, which some say was sectarian but others say was directed against those supplying the army. The pastry shop, owned by Janabi's friend, Abu Alaa, a Sunni, closed for the same reason. In kind of a macabre echo of shopping fads, the death squads have hunted by specialties. They killed hairdressers for supposedly promoting female vanity. Then came the butchers, guilty, apparently, of cutting meat in an offensive way. Then women's clothing shops were targeted. The killers said that they, too, were agents of vanity. Barbers also are in the crosshairs. Some say it's because they spread too much information while chatting with customers; others say it's because some Islamic extremists believe that it's wrong to shave your beard. That's why Janabi's neighbor keeps secretive hours. In late 2004, they killed real estate agents because of rumors that they were helping Jews buy up property. The owners of the pastry shop and a store four doors down from Janabi's sold real estate until then. Abu Alaa switched to pastry only to have the bakers targeted. Now he sells fuel on the street. The other real estate broker was replaced by a flooring shop that closed this summer. On the other side of Janabi from the pastry shop was a cell phone store. The owner, Janabi's brother, closed because the store was successful enough that it made him a potential target for kidnapping and the wares were a sure draw for criminal gangs.
Baghdad resounds to the tales of the dead. Not the distant, dry accounting of news wires, but terrifying close-up accounts. Six beheaded corpses are dumped with their heads between their knees in Muhammad's street in Ghazaliya, a largely Sunni suburb of Baghdad. US soldiers ask him to search the bodies for IDs, fearful the corpses may be booby-trapped. He manages to frisk two before the effort becomes too awful. This summer Muhammad witnessed a mass attack by Shia gunmen from a neighbouring area to his own, of running battles outside his house, the loudspeakers on the mosques coordinating the defence. A few days after the appearance of the headless bodies, a translator for a British colleague announces he has lost a relative. He is distraught as the family searches the morgue for the body. The kidnappers get in touch. Your relative is still alive and eating his evening meal, they say, but start searching for his body in three days. After a while the numbers no longer seem to matter - only the impact on a society of a steady and encroaching tide of killing. The aura of fear, cruelty and death is claustrophobic and all enveloping. No report or estimate of the death toll, however disputed, gets near to conveying the corrosive nature of so much killing, so routinely carried out.
Muhammad Subhi's garden once was filled with roses which his family had cultivated when they built their house 25 years ago. Today, no flowers survive amid the strewn debris that was his house before the US-led occupation of Iraq began three years ago. Like thousands of others, Subhi, 48, has been promised compensation from the government for the losses he has incurred as a direct result of the coalition forces' invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent fighting. "But what I always get is explanations that there is no money, and because of insecurity and terrorism, reconstruction is being delayed," Subhi said. "Nothing was left to me but to live as a displaced person in my own country and the rubble of my lovely house." Among the 24 points of the reconciliation plan proposed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in June is compensation for damage caused by "terrorist acts, military operations or violence". The government has said this is one of the priorities for the country's redevelopment and that it is allocating enough funds to cover compensation claims, but that the increase in violence has prompted more destruction – piling up more claims for compensation than can be paid out. "Until the end of this year, we expect to have enough funds to cover most of the compensation [for claims already filed as of July], giving priority according to the date of the destruction," said a spokesman for the Prime Minister's office who refused to be named.
The American-financed rebuilding of an Iraqi police headquarters that was meant to show a new approach to reconstruction has instead turned out to be rife with shoddy construction and is exposing security forces to unnecessary risk, a federal oversight agency said yesterday. The headquarters project, in the volatile northern city of Mosul, is the second police-related contract to face harsh criticism recently. Two weeks ago, the same oversight agency told Congress of grotesque plumbing failures and other problems at a $72 million police college in Baghdad. In the earlier project, most of the criticism was directed at Parsons, the American contractor hired by the Army Corps of Engineers to carry out the work with the help of Iraqi subcontractors. But this time, in a step the Army Corps has said will eliminate some of the construction problems, the work was contracted directly to a local Iraqi company. But the Mosul police headquarters project, a $988,000 contract that was much smaller and presumably simpler than the earlier one, suffered some of the same troubles, according to a report released yesterday by the agency, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. Brian Flynn, assistant inspector general for inspections at the oversight agency, said there had been no plans to look into the headquarters, called One West, until an inspection team happened to be in Mosul and was approached by the Iraqi police. The police "were so upset with the quality of construction that they asked us to inspect it while we were there," Flynn said. Problems with the construction were not hard to find, the agency’s report said. One part of the contract called for the construction of 10 showers, 12 toilets, 10 urinals, 10 sinks and a changing room at One West. Instead, just one shower and one toilet had been built, and there was no changing room. A tree in the spot where the construction took place was allowed to remain standing, and its trunk was cemented into the building’s structure. An electrical generator was delivered but not installed and instead of installing fans in the guard houses, as called for in the contract, workers installed extra windows, leaving the guards exposed in a city where police stations have frequently been attacked. The problems stemmed from a poor Iraqi contractor and a lack of inspection by Army engineers early in the project, said Stuart Bowen, who runs the oversight agency. "The issue is oversight," Bowen said. "Our experience is that where there is good oversight there are good projects."
Dr Thamir Muhammad Ali Hasafa al-Kaisey, 60, a senior consultant, had been kidnapped by 11 armed men in three cars as he drove home from his clinic in Baghdad at 6.30pm on 23 December 2004. "I was 50 metres from my house when men with guns in a Jeep Cherokee stopped me and beat me with their fists," Dr Hasafa later told the police. "They put me in their car and tied me up with my own jacket." The kidnappers may have been overconfident because they normally operated with impunity in Baghdad. Whatever the reason, they ran into a police checkpoint and during the shoot-out which followed Dr Hasafa, even though his leg had been broken in the beating, was able to crawl out of the back of the car and shout: "I am a doctor and I was kidnapped." The case was a rare success for the police, though public cynicism about them was confirmed by the discovery that one of the captured kidnappers was himself a police lieutenant. His name was Muhammad Najim Abdullah al-Dhouri and his fellow kidnapper was Adnan Ashur Ali al-Jabouri, both members of powerful tribes from which Saddam Hussein drew many of his security men and army officers. But the motive of the gang was purely political. Adnan Ashur told the investigating judge that the leaders of the gang were Eyhab, nicknamed Abu Fahad, who ran a mobile-phone shop, and his brother Hisham. Eyhab, he said, was a criminal sentenced to 40 years in jail by the old regime. He had apparently been freed during a general amnesty by Saddam Hussein at the end of 2002.
Muhammad Najim, who was based in Sadr City in east Baghdad, lived in special police housing. He said: "I was involved with Hisham prior to the fall of Saddam. Later he approached me about kidnapping prominent men. My task was to provide security for the gang." All the gang members were armed with pistols. They had safe houses in which to keep kidnap victims. Both suspects said they had taken part in numerous other kidnappings in the previous few months, with their victims paying up to $60,000 each. Ironically, the informant who told them that Dr Hasafa was worth kidnapping was a guard hired by householders to protect the street where he lived.
The Iraqi police were jubilant that they finally had detailed information on how a kidnap gang operated. The two captured men were willing to provide the names and addresses of other gang members and the success was lauded by Iraqi television and the press. To the consternation of the police, however, a convoy of US military police suddenly arrived at al-Khansa police station, where Muhammad Majim and Adnan Ashur were being held. The Iraqi police officer at the station recorded: "They have requested custody of the two assailants." The men were handed over to an American police lieutenant for transfer to the US-run Camp Cuervo and later released. An American military spokesman said months afterwards that there was no record of the two prisoners in the army database. An Iraqi government official told me that they were almost certainly freed after they agreed to inform on the insurgents. "The Americans are allowing the breakdown of Iraqi society because they are only interested in fighting the insurgency," added a senior Iraqi police officer. [Or, they were part of the gang set up by Negroponte. – dancewater]
Dr Hasafa, meanwhile, received two visits from the families of the former prisoners. The first was from the father of Muhammad Najim, who offered money if the kidnap charges were withdrawn. He said he had been an officer in the Republican Guard and added menacingly: "You know what we are capable of doing." During the second meeting Dr Hasafa learnt that his kidnappers had been freed. He refused to withdraw charges, despite death threats to his family, but in January 2005 he fled to Jordan and then to Egypt. At every stage of the case he had been betrayed by those - the street guard, the Iraqi police lieutenant in Sadr City and the US military police - who were meant to protect him.
One of Britain's most experienced journalists was unlawfully killed by U.S. soldiers in Iraq, a British inquest into his death ruled on Friday, prompting calls for the perpetrators to be tried for war crimes. Veteran war correspondent Terry Lloyd, 50, who worked for British television company ITN, was killed in March 2003 in southern Iraq as he reported from the front line during the first few days of the U.S.-led invasion. "He was fired on by American soldiers as a minibus carried wounded people away," Coroner Andrew Walker said at the conclusion of the inquest, which U.S. soldiers declined to attend. "I have no doubt it was an unlawful act of fire on the minibus," Walker added. He said he intended to write to the Attorney General -- the government's top lawyer -- and the Director of Public Prosecutions in an effort to bring those responsible for Lloyd's death before a British court. Louis Charalambous, the Lloyd family's lawyer, said those responsible for his death should be brought to trial for what he termed "a very serious war crime." "It was a despicable, deliberate, vengeful act," he added.
The presence of UK armed forces in Iraq "exacerbates the security problems" and they should "get out some time soon", the head of the British Army has said. Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt told the Daily Mail that the military campaign fought in 2003 had "effectively kicked the door in". He also said that initial planning for the post-war period had been poor. There are currently more than 7,000 British soldiers in Iraq, based largely in Basra in the south of the country. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said Britain had "a clear strategy" and worked with international partners "in support of the democratically elected government of Iraq, under a clear UN mandate." BBC political editor Nick Robinson described Sir Richard's remarks as "quite extraordinary". He said the new head of the British army's comments "directly contradicted so much of what the government had said" Sir Richard might be issuing a "very public warning" to the next prime minister, our correspondent added. In his interview, Sir Richard added that any initial tolerance "has largely turned to intolerance. That is a fact."
Two residents of Basra give their reaction to comments from the head of the British Army on the presence of British troops in Iraq. General Sir Richard Dannatt said troops should leave "sometime soon" because they were exacerbating the security situation worse. “I think he is right. On a personal level, there is nothing wrong with the British soldiers, but I am against having them here. The British troops operate as an occupying force; not as troops supporting our own forces. Until now there has been no meaningful co-operation between British troops and the local government that I can see. They work according to their own thinking and policy.” Another: “Most of the people here in Basra are hoping the British soldiers will leave. They arrest too many people. They dominate the Basra police and security forces. This is what Basra people think. We think they rule us and this is not acceptable. At night, they are always patrolling in their vehicles and arresting people. They take our weapons at checkpoints. This has to be done by the Iraqi police.”
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's highest authority, said on Friday the United States was encouraging sectarian strife in Iraq. Iraq has been gripped by violence between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims since the bombing of a revered Shi'ite Muslim shrine in February. The United Nations estimates 100 Iraqis die violently every day. "Making Sunnis and Shi'ites suspicious of one another ... is the policy of the Americans in Iraq," Khamenei told worshippers at Friday prayers, broadcast live on state television. "Our Iraqi brothers need to stand united ... and beware that the enemy plans to turn people against the people," he said.
The US Ambassador to Iraq has accused neighbouring Iran and Syria of supporting the armed groups involved in the country’s bitter civil conflict. "There is another challenge facing Iraqis: preventing regional powers who want Iraq to fail," said Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad on Thursday, speaking in the northern town of Tikrit at the inauguration of a reconstruction plan. "Two countries are particularly playing a negative role: the Iranian and Syrian regimes. These regimes are supporting groups who are killing Iraqis," he said, talking in an unusually direct way about the alleged interference. "Their objective is to use Iraqis as cannon fodder in their plan to keep Iraqis divided and Iraq weak. Iraqis must unite against their enemies and against sectarianism and the killing of the innocent," he said. [Is he talking about the USA? Well, good to see that all sides can play the ‘blame game’ here. – dancewater]
The headmaster smiled. "You will hear many of these every day if you stay here another day or two," he said. "The resistance will not stop until the last American leaves." The children too took no notice of the blast, which shook the doors and windows of the half-destroyed school in this town near Fallujah, 70km west of Baghdad. The children are growing up in occupied Iraq - and they are resisting it. "Americans are bad," said 11-year-old Mustafa. "They killed my family." The family were killed in Operation Phantom Fury of November 2004 as they tried to flee the city, teachers said. That operation killed thousands and destroyed much of Fallujah and towns around it. "God will send all Americans to hellfire," cried another child in the classroom. Attempts to suggest that not everyone they thought American was bad proved fruitless. "How can we teach them forgiveness when they see Americans killing their family members every day," the teacher in the classroom who gave her name as Shyamaa told IPS. "Words cannot cover the stream of blood and these signs of destruction, and words cannot hide the daily raids they see." For the headmaster, the idea of a clash of civilisations is not just an idea.
Last week the United States took a small but important step toward a new direction for U.S. policy in Iraq. When Congress approved and President George Bush signed the military appropriation bills, they enacted a provision to bar the Pentagon from establishing permanent military bases in Iraq. The Pentagon is now prohibited by law from spending any money for fiscal year 2007 to establish permanent military bases in Iraq or attempt to take over the oil resources of Iraq. That is a new direction, but will the administration take direction from Congress? [And that is the real unanswered question. – dancewater] The No Permanent Bases Provision, for the first time, makes a formal declaration of policy that the U.S. will not permanently occupy Iraq. Until now, the president and his advisors have offered mixed messages about if and when U.S. military forces will withdraw from Iraq. Those mixed messages created the perception that the U.S. plans to stay. Adding to this perception, the U.S. continues to build military facilities that cost and look a lot like permanent military bases. Until now, the failure of U.S. policymakers to state unequivocally that the U.S. will not maintain a permanent presence in Iraq has fueled the violent conflict and contributed to the slide toward civil war in Iraq. Several recent opinion surveys of Iraqis—including one by the Department of State—show that strong majorities now see U.S. military forces as a major problem in Iraq, not as a part of the solution. An opinion poll released in September by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes found that nearly 4 in 5 Iraqis believe that the U.S. presence in their country is feeding rather than containing sectarian violence. Seventy-seven percent of Iraqis believe the United States plans to establish permanent bases, and 61 percent approve of attacks on U.S. forces.
Internal military documents released Thursday provided new details about the Defense Department’s collection of information on demonstrations nationwide last year by students, Quakers and others opposed to the Iraq war. The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, show, for instance, that military officials labeled as “potential terrorist activity” events like a “Stop the War Now” rally in Akron, Ohio, in March 2005. The Defense Department acknowledged last year that its analysts had maintained records on war protests in an internal database past the 90 days its guidelines allowed, and even after it was determined there was no threat. [They have to watch those Quakers, because if their philosophy spreads, then corporate control of America is just plain OVER. I attend Friend’s Meetings on occasion, and I know they just are not good consumers, never mind their pacifist beliefs. – dancewater]
If you have ever wondered how a serial murderer -- a murderer who is sane and fully aware of the acts he has committed -- can remain steadfastly convinced of his own moral superiority and show not even the slightest glimmer of remorse, you should not wonder any longer. The United States government is such a murderer. It conducts its murders in full view of the entire world. It even boasts of them. Our government, and all our leading commentators, still maintain that the end justifies the means -- and that even the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents is of no moral consequence, provided a sufficient number of people can delude themselves into believing the final result is a "success." We are a nation that has voluntarily renounced all its most crucial values, and all its founding principles. We can appeal all we want to "American exceptionalism," but any "exceptionalism" that remains ours is that of a mass murderer without a soul, and without a conscience. We have destroyed the most basic foundation of liberty -- and the nature and meaning of our act has already, in less than a couple of weeks, almost entirely vanished from public discussion. It is useless to appeal to any "American" sense of morality: we have none. It does not matter how immense the pile of corpses grows: we will not surrender or even question our delusion that we are right, and that nothing we do can be profoundly, unforgivably wrong. Iraq did not attack us. Iraq did not threaten us. Our leaders knew it. Our invasion and occupation of Iraq were blatant, indefensible acts of aggression. Therefore, when the very first Iraqi was killed as the result of our actions, we had committed an act that was gravely immoral, and entirely unforgivable. Yet even now, most Americans desperately cling to the notion that our actions might still be redeemed.
As the news reveals a study that puts civilian deaths in Iraq at 655,000, John Pilger recalls the words of a song by the great Chilean balladeer, Victor Jara, to describe those who see themselves as rational and liberal are, in fact, complicit in an unrecognised crime.
It is widely known abroad that the U.S. government is practicing extraordinary rendition in order to torture, maim, and kill its suspected enemies; it imprisons innocent people all over the world indefinitely, without due process and without charging them with any crime. We bear witness to the crimes of a rogue government that invades sovereign nations, bombs their cities into piles of rubble, murders with impunity, imposes harsh economic sanctions, denies women and children life saving medical treatment, and steals their oil and mineral wealth. Hypocritically, it calls those who resist occupation, terrorists. I further contend that the government is engaged in a campaign of unlawfully monitoring the communications of its citizens, including the infiltration of Quaker religious orders that preach doctrines of peace over those of war, and is increasingly stifling free speech and the right of peaceful assembly. Our hard won civil liberties are giving way to an emerging police state. The prying eyes of paranoid government are everywhere. Thus we are left with an illicit government that routinely commits crimes against humanity under the pretense of executing a war on terror. To its eternal shame, it has unleashed the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Pentagon upon its own citizens without just cause. These agencies are monitoring our computers, tapping our phones, and tracking our movements not to protect America from terrorists, but to protect the Plutocracy from those who would expose it.
Quote of the Day (from those Quakers on the Friends Council on National Legislation):
We seek a world free of war and the threat of war
We seek a society with equity and justice for all
We seek a community where every person's potential may be fulfilled
We seek an earth restored.
STOP FUNDING THE WAR: Progressive Democrats of America 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. The PDA will be collecting 100,000 signatures over the upcoming weeks so Rep. McGovern may deliver them personally to House and Senate leaders shortly after the November 2006 election.
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.”