Category Archives: Irak

Oil and Erbil

By Steve Coll

August 12, 2014 “ICH” – “New Yorker” –  To the defense of Erbil: this was the main cause that drew President Obama back to combat in Iraq last week, two and a half years after he fulfilled a campaign pledge and pulled the last troops out.

After Mazar-i-Sharif, Nasiriyah, Kandahar, Mosul, Benghazi, and a score of other sites of American military intervention—cities whose names would have stumped most American “Jeopardy!” contestants before 2001—we come now to Erbil. One can forgive the isolationist: Where?

Erbil has an ancient history, but, in political-economic terms, the city is best understood these days as a Kurdish sort of Deadwood, as depicted in David Milch’s HBO series about a gold-rush town whose antihero, Al Swearengen, conjures up a local government to create a veneer of legitimacy for statehood, all to advance his rackets. Erbil is an oil-rush town where the local powers that be similarly manipulate their ambiguous sovereignty for financial gain—their own, and that of any pioneer wild and wily enough to invest money without having it stolen.

Erbil is the capital of the oil-endowed Kurdish Regional Government, in northern Iraq. There the United States built political alliances and equipped Kurdish peshmerga militias long before the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq, in 2003. Since 2003, it has been the most stable place in an unstable country. But last week, well-armed guerrillas loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, threatened Erbil’s outskirts, forcing Obama’s momentous choice. (The President also ordered air operations to deliver humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of Yazidis and other non-Muslim minorities stranded on remote Mount Sinjar. A secure Kurdistan could provide sanctuary for those survivors.)

“The Kurdish region is functional in the way we would like to see,” Obama explained during a fascinating interview with Thomas Friedman published on Friday. “It is tolerant of other sects and other religions in a way that we would like to see elsewhere. So we do think it is important to make sure that that space is protected.”

All true and convincing, as far as it goes. Kurdistan is indeed one of a handful of reliable allies of the United States in the Middle East these days. Its economy has boomed in recent years, attracting investors from all over and yielding a shiny new international airport and other glistening facilities. Of course, in comparison to, say, Jordan or the United Arab Emirates, Kurdistan has one notable deficit as a staunch American ally: it is not a state. Nor is it a contented partner in the construction of Iraqi national unity, which remains the principal project of the Obama Administration in Iraq. In that light, Obama’s explanation of his casus belli seemed a little incomplete.

Obama’s advisers explained to reporters that Erbil holds an American consulate, and that “thousands” of Americans live there. The city has to be defended, they continued, lest ISIS overrun it and threaten American lives. Fair enough, but why are thousands of Americans in Erbil these days? It is not to take in clean mountain air.

ExxonMobil and Chevron are among the many oil and gas firms large and small drilling in Kurdistan under contracts that compensate the companies for their political risk-taking with unusually favorable terms. (Chevron said last week that it is pulling some expatriates out of Kurdistan; ExxonMobil declined to comment.) With those oil giants have come the usual contractors, the oilfield service companies, the accountants, the construction firms, the trucking firms, and, at the bottom of the economic chain, diverse entrepreneurs digging for a score.

Scroll the online roster of Erbil’s Chamber of Commerce for the askew poetry of a boom town’s small businesses: Dream Kitchen, Live Dream, Pure Gold, Events Gala, Emotion, and where I, personally, might consider a last meal if trapped in an ISIS onslaught, “Famous Cheeses Teak.”

It’s not about oil. After you’ve written that on the blackboard five hundred times, watch Rachel Maddow’s documentary “Why We Did It” for a highly sophisticated yet pointed journalistic take on how the world oil economy has figured from the start as a silent partner in the Iraq fiasco.

Of course, it is President Obama’s duty to defend American lives and interests, in Erbil and elsewhere, oil or no. Rather than an evacuation of citizens, however, he has ordered a months-long aerial campaign to defend Kurdistan’s status quo, on the grounds, presumably, that it is essential to a unified Iraq capable of isolating ISIS. Yet the status quo in Kurdistan also includes oil production by international firms, as it might be candid to mention. In any event, the defense of Kurdistan that Obama has ordered should work, if the Kurdish peshmerga can be rallied and strengthened on the ground after an alarming retreat last week.

Yet there is a fault line in Obama’s logic about Erbil. The President made clear last week that he still believes that a durable government of national unity—comprising responsible leaders of Iraq’s Shiite majority, Kurds, and Sunnis who are opposed to ISIS—can be formed in Baghdad, even if it takes many more weeks beyond the three months of squabbling that have already passed since the country’s most recent parliamentary vote.

The project of a unified Baghdad government strong enough to defeat ISIS with a nationalist Army and then peel off Sunni loyalists looks increasingly like a pipe dream; it was hard to tell from the Friedman interview what odds Obama truly gives the undertaking.

Why has political unity in Baghdad proven so elusive for so long? There are many important reasons—the disastrous American decision to disband the Iraqi Army, in 2003, and to endorse harsh de-Baathification, which created alienation among Sunnis that has never been rectified; growing sectarian hatred between Shiites and Sunnis; the infection of disaffected Sunnis with Al Qaeda’s philosophy and with cash and soft power from the Persian Gulf; interference by Iran; the awkwardness of Iraq’s post-colonial borders, and poor leadership in Baghdad, particularly under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. But another reason of the first rank is Kurdish oil greed.

During the Bush Administration, adventurers like Dallas-headquartered Hunt Oil paved the way for ExxonMobil, which cut a deal in Erbil in 2011. Bush and his advisers could not bring themselves to force American oil companies such as Hunt to divest from Kurdistan or to sanction non-American investors. They allowed the wildcatters to do as they pleased while insisting that Erbil’s politicians negotiate oil-revenue sharing and political unity with Baghdad. Erbil’s rulers never quite saw the point of a final compromise with Baghdad’s Shiite politicians—as each year passed, the Kurds got richer on their own terms, they attracted more credible and deep-pocketed oil companies as partners, and they looked more and more like they led a de-facto state. The Obama Administration has done nothing to reverse that trend.

And so, in Erbil, in the weeks to come, American pilots will defend from the air a capital whose growing independence and wealth has loosened Iraq’s seams, even while, in Baghdad, American diplomats will persist quixotically in an effort to stitch that same country together to confront ISIS.

Obama’s defense of Erbil is effectively the defense of an undeclared Kurdish oil state whose sources of geopolitical appeal—as a long-term, non-Russian supplier of oil and gas to Europe, for example—are best not spoken of in polite or naïve company, as Al Swearengen would well understand. Life, Swearengen once pointed out, is often made up of “one vile task after another.” So is American policy in Iraq.

Steve Coll, a staff writer, is the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, and reports on issues of intelligence and national security in the United States and abroad.

Copyright Condé Nast.

Source: ICH

Is ISIS ‘An Existential Threat’?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

August 12, 2014 “ICH” – Last week’s gains by the Islamic State caused Republican hawks to flock to the Sunday talk shows.

“ISIS is a direct threat to the United States of America,” said Rep. Peter King. John McCain called for bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

But using air power to prevent ISIS from seizing the Kurdish capital of Irbil and Baghdad is not enough, said Sen. Lindsey Graham. “We need to go on offense,” he told Fox News, “There is no force within the Mideast that can neutralize or contain or destroy ISIS without at least American air power.”

The Islamic State is “an existential threat” to our homeland, Graham added, asking, “do we really want to let America be attacked?”

Came then this warning from Sen. Graham:

“If he [Obama] does not go on the offensive against ISIS, ISIL, whatever you want to call these guys, they’re coming here. This is not just about Baghdad, not just about Syria. It is about our homeland.”

“I think of an American city in flames because of the terrorists’ ability to operate in Syria and Iraq,” said Graham, “Mr. President … what is your strategy to stop these people from attacking the homeland?”

This semi-hysterical talk of an “existential threat” to the “homeland,” and the dread specter of “an American city in flames” is vintage war party, designed to panic us into launching a new war.

But before allowing these “Cassandras” to stampede us back into the civil-sectarian Middle East wars that resulted from our previous interventions, let us inspect more closely what they are saying.

If ISIS’ gains are truly an “existential threat” to the republic and our cities are about to “go up in flames,” why did these Republican hawks not demand that President Obama call back Congress from its five-week vacation to vote to authorize a new war on ISIS in Syria and Iraq?

After all, King, McCain and Graham belong to a party that is suing the president for usurping congressional powers. Yet, they are also demanding that Obama start bombing nations he has no authority to bomb, as ISIS has not attacked us.

King, McCain and Graham want Obama to play imperial president and launch a pre-emptive war that their own Congress has not authorized.

What kind of constitutionalists, what kind of conservatives are these?

Is Graham right that an “existential threat” is at hand? Is our very existence as a nation in peril? Graham says no force in the Mideast can stop ISIL without us. Is this true?

Turkey, a nation of 76 million, has the second-largest army in NATO, equipped with U.S. weapons, and an air force ISIL does not have.

If President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to crush ISIS, he could seal his border to foreign fighters entering Syria and send the Turkish army to assist President Bashar Assad in annihilating ISIS in Syria.

The jihadists of the Islamic State may be more motivated, but they are hugely outnumbered and outgunned in the region.

The Syrian government and army, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shia-dominated government of Iraq, a Shia Iran of 70 million, and the Kurds in Syria and Kurdistan are all anti-Islamic State and willing to fight.

All are potential allies in a coalition to contain or crush ISIS, as is Vladimir Putin’s Russia, if U.S. diplomacy were not frozen in the 1980s.

Only last August, McCain and Graham were attacking Obama for not enforcing his “red line” by bombing Syria’s army, the most successful anti-ISIL force in the field.

The threat of the Islamic State should not be minimized. It would provide a breeding and training ground for terrorists to attack us and the West. But it should not be wildly exaggerated to plunge us into a new war.

For wherever ISIS has won ground, it has, through atrocities and beheadings, imposition of Shariah law, and ruthless repression, alienated almost everyone, including al-Qaida.

Should ISIS succeed in holding northern Syria and western Iraq, who will recognize this caliphate? Who will trade with it? How will it hold the allegiance of peoples upon whom it is even now imposing terrorist rule?

The Sunni of Iraq are already chaffing against ISIS rule. How long will Turks, Syrians, Iraqis, Kurds and Iranians tolerate a Talibanized Islamic State right next door? And should ISIS attack the United States, we have more than sufficient means to retaliate, without sending in American troops.

Let Middle Easterners take the lead in fighting this newest Middle East war.
Source: WSWS

"I Am Sorry That It Has Come to This": A Soldier’s Last Words

War Criminals Bush and Blair Claim Another Victim
By Daniel Somers
Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was part of Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit. In 2004-2005, he was mainly assigned to a Tactical Human-Intelligence Team (THT) in Baghdad, Iraq, where he ran more than 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee, interviewed countless Iraqis ranging from concerned citizens to community leaders and and government officials, and interrogated dozens of insurgents and terrorist suspects. In 2006-2007, Daniel worked with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) through his former unit in Mosul where he ran the Northern Iraq Intelligence Center. His official role was as a senior analyst for the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and part of Turkey). Daniel suffered greatly from PTSD and had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and several other war-related conditions. On June 10, 2013, Daniel wrote the following letter to his family before taking his life. Daniel was 30 years old. His wife and family have given permission to publish it.
June 24, 2013 “Information Clearing House – I am sorry that it has come to this.
The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term.
You will perhaps be sad for a time, but over time you will forget and begin to carry on. Far better that than to inflict my growing misery upon you for years and decades to come, dragging you down with me. It is because I love you that I can not do this to you. You will come to see that it is a far better thing as one day after another passes during which you do not have to worry about me or even give me a second thought. You will find that your world is better without me in it.
I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you. In truth, I was nothing more than a prop, filling space so that my absence would not be noted. In truth, I have already been absent for a long, long time.
My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I can not laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.
You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.
To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.
Beyond that, there are the host of physical illnesses that have struck me down again and again, for which they also offer no help. There might be some progress by now if they had not spent nearly twenty years denying the illness that I and so many others were exposed to. Further complicating matters is the repeated and severe brain injuries to which I was subjected, which they also seem to be expending no effort into understanding. What is known is that each of these should have been cause enough for immediate medical attention, which was not rendered.
Lastly, the DEA enters the picture again as they have now managed to create such a culture of fear in the medical community that doctors are too scared to even take the necessary steps to control the symptoms. All under the guise of a completely manufactured “overprescribing epidemic,” which stands in stark relief to all of the legitimate research, which shows the opposite to be true. Perhaps, with the right medication at the right doses, I could have bought a couple of decent years, but even that is too much to ask from a regime built upon the idea that suffering is noble and relief is just for the weak.
However, when the challenges facing a person are already so great that all but the weakest would give up, these extra factors are enough to push a person over the edge.
Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.
It leaves us to where all we have to look forward to is constant pain, misery, poverty, and dishonor. I assure you that, when the numbers do finally drop, it will merely be because those who were pushed the farthest are all already dead.
And for what? Bush’s religious lunacy? Cheney’s ever growing fortune and that of his corporate friends? Is this what we destroy lives for
Since then, I have tried everything to fill the void. I tried to move into a position of greater power and influence to try and right some of the wrongs. I deployed again, where I put a huge emphasis on saving lives. The fact of the matter, though, is that any new lives saved do not replace those who were murdered. It is an exercise in futility.
Then, I pursued replacing destruction with creation. For a time this provided a distraction, but it could not last. The fact is that any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand. How can I possibly go around like everyone else while the widows and orphans I created continue to struggle? If they could see me sitting here in suburbia, in my comfortable home working on some music project they would be outraged, and rightfully so.
I thought perhaps I could make some headway with this film project, maybe even directly appealing to those I had wronged and exposing a greater truth, but that is also now being taken away from me. I fear that, just as with everything else that requires the involvement of people who can not understand by virtue of never having been there, it is going to fall apart as careers get in the way.
The last thought that has occurred to me is one of some kind of final mission. It is true that I have found that I am capable of finding some kind of reprieve by doing things that are worthwhile on the scale of life and death. While it is a nice thought to consider doing some good with my skills, experience, and killer instinct, the truth is that it isn’t realistic. First, there are the logistics of financing and equipping my own operation, then there is the near certainty of a grisly death, international incidents, and being branded a terrorist in the media that would follow. What is really stopping me, though, is that I simply am too sick to be effective in the field anymore. That, too, has been taken from me.
Thus, I am left with basically nothing. Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war. Abandoned by those who would take the easy route, and a liability to those who stick it out—and thus deserve better. So you see, not only am I better off dead, but the world is better without me in it
This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing. I know how to kill, and I know how to do it so that there is no pain whatsoever. It was quick, and I did not suffer. And above all, now I am free. I feel no more pain. I have no more nightmares or flashbacks or hallucinations. I am no longer constantly depressed or afraid or worried
I am free.
I ask that you be happy for me for that. It is perhaps the best break I could have hoped for. Please accept this and be glad for me.
Daniel Somers
The Death of Daniel Somers
By Ron Paul
I am reading the heartbreaking suicide note of Daniel Somers, a US combat veteran who spent several years fighting in Iraq. Mr. Somers was only 30 years old when he took his own life, after being tormented by the horrific memories of what he experienced in Iraq. He wrote:
“The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from.”
Many who shout the loudest that we must “support the troops” urge sending them off to unwinnable and undeclared wars in which there is no legitimate US interest. The US military has been abused by those who see military force as a first resort rather than the last resort and only in self-defense. This abuse has resulted in a generation of American veterans facing a life sentence in the prison of tortured and deeply damaged minds as well as broken bodies.
The numbers sadly tell the story: more military suicides than combat deaths in 2012, some 22 military veterans take their lives every day, nearly 30 percent of veterans treated by the VA have PTSD.
We should be saddened but not shocked when we see the broken men and women return from battles overseas. We should be angry with those who send them to suffer and die in unnecessary wars. We should be angry with those who send them to kill so many people overseas for no purpose whatsoever. We should be afraid of the consequences of such a foolish and dangerous foreign policy. We should demand an end to the abuse of military members and a return to a foreign policy that promotes peace and prosperity instead of war and poverty.

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Rewriting History Iraq and the BBC Glove Puppets

By Matt Carr
June 10, 2013 “Information Clearing House – I watched the first part of the BBC’s ‘History of the Iraq War‘ series, and I have no intention of watching any more, because it won’t do my blood pressure any good.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a shallow and essentially reverential piece of telehistory. Within ten minutes I was ready to scream with frustration at the tv set, which is really a very futile activity.
The first problem was the content. Watching Cheney, Hadley, Blair talk about their conspiratorial plotting was a deeply depressing and quite disturbing experience, which confirms my view that these are men without even the semblance of moral conscience. Not one of them showed the slightest sign of regret or remorse or any sense of having done anything wrong.
They chatted about their part in the Iraq disaster with a kind of pride, as though they were talking about how they laid down guitar tracks on Classic Albums, rather than a war in which hundreds of thousands of men, women and children were killed and maimed, and a country shattered – all thanks to their sleazy and moronic machinations.
Not one of them showed the slightest capacity for insight into or reflection. Listening to their slick blather made it clear that they didn’t care then and they don’t care now. Evil would be too strong a word to describe men who are so essentially banal and hollow, and so devoid any moral compass except power.
It was sickening to hear Blair talk about how “we decided we were going to remake the Middle East“. Disgusting to listen to Paul Wolfowitz uttering the cliche about Saddam “using WMD against his own people” – the same Wolfowitz who once declared that he only used WMD to justify the war “for bureaucratic reasons”. 
Horrible to hear Blair’s ghastly apparatchnik Sally Morgan say that the anti-Iraq war demo was a “difficult day for us” and talk about how angry her boss was when he was raked over the coals on tele shortly before the war by a group of anti-war women – probably the only time in his political life when Blair was ever treated the way he deserves.
But the worst thing about the programme was that the BBC let them say whatever they wanted without challenging them. The journalist never asked a single penetrating question, never offered any real alternatives to what Blair & Co were saying. The programme was about as forensic as a banana, and made the Chilcot Iraq inquiry look positively inquisitorial by comparison.
It wasn’t even history from the top down – just the official story told by the “key players” – for the BBC the only people worth hearing – in the way they wanted it told. The journalists who made the programme were clearly so awed by their privileged access that they let them get away with it.
Journalists aren’t supposed to do this, but the people who made this programme are not journalists, but scribes of power, gutless sycophants and glove puppets who shame, not just the BBC, but journalism itself.
All in all a pathetic display, which says a great deal about the state we’re in.

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Sectarian warfare grips Iraq

By Jean Shaoul 
27 April 2013
Escalating violence in Iraq has led to the deaths of at least 179 people since Tuesday, the highest death toll since the withdrawal of US troops at the end of 2011.
The re-eruption of the sectarian strife that broke out under the US occupation testifies to the devastation wrought by the US-led invasion of Iraq and Washington’s whipping up of ethnic and sectarian tensions. It is also an extension of the on-going US proxy war in neighbouring Syria, in which it is backing ultra-right Sunni forces tied to Al Qaeda.
Since December, Iraqi Sunnis, including those with ties to forces active in Syria, have been protesting discrimination, arbitrary arrests, detention and the execution of oppositionists by the Shi’ite-led coalition government of Nouri Al-Maliki. They are particularly opposed to the sweeping anti-terrorism law they claim targets them for being members of Al Qaeda or of the Ba’ath Party of former President Saddam Hussein. They have called for Maliki’s resignation.
Hundreds of thousands have been locked up for years, many without charges, in prisons run by sectarian militias. More than 1,400 people face execution.
The government’s reliance on dictatorial methods is bound up with the rising level of unemployment and seething discontent over the lack of electricity, water, sanitation and the failure to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed by US sanctions and war. This is despite the fact that oil production grew by 24 percent last year, with Iraq overtaking Iran to become the biggest member, after Saudi Arabia, in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
This violence follows armed raids by government troops on a Sunni camp in Hawija, near Kirkuk, 170 kilometres north of Baghdad, four days after militants attacked a military and police checkpoint, seized their weapons and killed a soldier. Ensuing clashes left 53 people dead, including three soldiers.
Sunni protesters in Anbar and Nineveh provinces have called for a general strike and there has been a wave of armed clashes beyond Hawija, killing dozens more. Gunmen tried to storm army posts in the nearby towns of Rashad and Riyadh, killing 13. In Ramadi, Anbar’s capital, protesters threw stones at a military convoy and set army vehicles ablaze. In Fallujah, about 1,000 people took to the streets chanting, “War, war.” Armed clashes broke out and there were three attacks on Sunni mosques.
In Suleiman Beg, between Baghdad and Kirkuk, government forces used helicopters against Sunni gunmen who took over a police station. A military spokesman said that the army had made a tactical withdrawal “so we can work on clearing the region, corner by corner.”
At least ten policemen and 31 Sunni gunmen were killed in armed clashes in northern Iraq after Sunni gunmen seized control of the eastern part of Mosul. It took three days for the army to regain control after prolonged gun battles.
In eastern Baghdad, at least eight people were killed and 23 more wounded when a car bomb exploded.
Insurgents attacked a pipeline carrying oil from Kirkuk to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Kirkuk is the subject of a bitter dispute between Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government, which wants to include it into its autonomous region. A crowd of mourners in Kirkuk numbering in the thousands chanted, “Death to Maliki” and “Revenge to the agents of Iran.”
Some Sunni sheikhs have joined with clerics, declaring that the government has crossed “red lines.” They are calling for activists to arm themselves and attack the army, security forces and government collaborators.
Two Sunni ministers in Maliki’s coalition government have resigned over Hawija, adding to the string of defections, including a boycott of his government by Kurdish ministers.
Maliki has blamed the current unrest on Al Qaeda and “remnants of Ba’ath Party for creating rift” in the country. He had earlier called the protesters’ demands “stinking and sectarian”, but on Thursday adopted a more conciliatory stance, saying “their demands were legitimate.”
He offered some concessions, including changes to anti-terrorism laws targeting the Sunni community, and announced an inquiry into the Hawija clashes under the chairmanship of the Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlag. He said that the families of those killed and injured in Hawija would be compensated.
The upsurge in violence comes just days after the April 20 provincial elections, themselves characterised by violence against candidates, mainly of the Sunni al-Iraqiya coalition. Fourteen of its candidates were assassinated. It won 91 seats in the 2010 parliamentary elections, two more than Maliki’s State of Law coalition.
Car bombs went off at rallies and meetings, killing dozens. In the mainly Sunni provinces of Anbar and Nineveh, the government postponed the elections, now set for July 4, with no date set for the disputed province of Kirkuk. Elections will be held in the three Kurdish provinces in the autumn.
Maliki heads a corrupt, unpopular and isolated government, made up of shifting coalitions, parties and factions that are constantly splitting and fighting over influence and sinecures.
Preliminary results of Saturday’s provincial elections testify to the government’s isolation. Official estimates claim that 50 percent of the electorate voted, small itself, but local monitoring networks claim that the real figure was 37 percent. In some provinces, voters found that their names were not on the electoral list, which is still based upon the ration card system issued by the Saddam Hussein regime as there has been no comprehensive census for years.
Maliki’s State of Law coalition appears to have won a reduced majority, winning 20 fewer seats and possibly eight of the twelve voting provinces, including Baghdad and Basra provinces. His Sunni allies did not increase their vote, while Shi’ite areas gave their votes for independent politicians.
Incapable of resolving the vast socio-economic problems besetting Iraq, the neo-colonial regime in Baghdad, installed by Washington and supported by Iran, is focused on dividing and oppressing the Iraqi working class. Maliki has concentrated power in his own hands, holding the defence and interior posts, and used the anti-terrorist laws against his Sunni rivals, whipping up sectarian tensions to divide the working class.
A key factor is the on-going sectarian war for regime change in Syria that has pitted Sunni Islamist militias against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ism. This has been sponsored, financed and supplied by Iran’s Sunni Gulf rivals, and also Turkey, at Washington’s behest.
They also fear that Maliki, whose installation as prime minister was sanctioned by Washington, is too close to Tehran. They are acutely conscious of the seething discontent among their own increasingly embittered populations, many of whom are Shi’ite, who have not shared in the ruling families’ oil- and gas-based wealth.
Iraqi Sunni Islamist fighters linked to Al Qaeda of Iraq have longed played a prominent role in the Syrian civil war, sending Jihadi fighters through Anbar province. The Al-Nusra Front, the largest and most effective fighting force, recently openly swore allegiance to Al Qaeda in Iraq. At the same time, some members of Iraqi Shia militias are fighting for the Assad government.
The Maliki government has refused to join in the demands for Assad’s ouster, earning the enmity of the Sunni monarchies.

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Manipulating Public Perceptions

This Week in History: The Toppling Of Saddam Hussein
The dramatic scene of knocking down one of hundreds of statues of the dictator, turned out to be not much more than an opportune media event.


April 08, 2012 “JP” — On April 9, 2003, three weeks after troops in a US-led coalition first entered Iraq in a war constantly surrounded by controversy, one of the most symbolic and perhaps misleading landmark events in the military push took place. Images of US Marines toppling a large statue of Saddam Hussein were broadcast live globally, and presented as marking the end of fighting. But while knocking down the statue signified the fall of Baghdad, its assigned value symbolizing the end of the war would turn out to be nearly nine years premature.

The 3rd Battalion of the 4th Marines had neither orders nor plans to topple statues that Wednesday morning. Tasked with pushing deep into the center of Baghdad toward the end of the land invasion, the Marine battalion was diverted to secure the city’s Palestine Hotel, where communications breakdowns and poorly marked maps had recently led to the killing of two journalists by American artillery shells. After finding the hotel with the help of journalists they encountered along the way, many of whose colleagues were holed up in the building that did not appear on American military maps, a group of marines found themselves waiting in Firdos Square, at the center of which towered a statue of almost-deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

US troops were indeed in the final throes of capturing the Iraqi capital that day. The victory in the first military push into Iraq, however, had lacked a symbolic moment of victory to be pointed to by the American government and world media.

The first Iraqis to gather in the square that morning were quick to rip two plaques off the base of the statue and parade them to gathered cameramen who were anticipating what might transpire. Then, with more and more journalists descending to the square from the Palestine Hotel, a few dozen more Iraqis began intensifying their attempts to chip away at the massive bust. A non-commissioned officer responsible for a crane-equipped heavy duty tow truck approached Lt.-Col. Bryan McCoy, commander of the 3rd Battalion, and asked him if he could provide the crowd with light equipment to help them fell the statue. McCoy gave him his tacit approval, but the sledgehammer and rope the NCO gave the Iraqis were not nearly enough to bring it down.

The Lieutenant-Colonel, however, himself having walked down to Firdos Square from the hotel, saw the Iraqis’ futile attempts and noticed the growing crowd of journalists eager to beam dramatic video footage back to their editors. McCoy called his own commander and asked for permission to help the Iraqis topple the statue of Saddam. After hanging up, he gave his men the order to use their heavy equipment to pull the statue down.

The entire scene was broadcast live for over two hours on US and other television news networks around the world. The images were replayed and seized upon by US military and government officials. Then-US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld said later that day, “We said from the beginning he is finished — now [the Iraqis] are daring to believe it. Saddam Hussein is now taking his rightful place alongside Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Ceausescu in the pantheon of failed brutal dictators.”

But closer scrutiny of the footage from that day and accounts from journalists who witnessed the scene has revealed a different reality than was portrayed nine years ago. No more than a few hundred Iraqis were gathered in the square when the statue was toppled and only a fraction of those present actually attempted to bring it down.

A number of the journalists who were there later complained their reports were taken out of context to assign much greater significance to the event than they felt it deserved. Tightly cropped shots focused on the few celebrating the toppling of the statue and correspondents played up the significance of the event.

A number of other symbolic visuals would be presented to the public in the coming months and years, including former US president George W. Bush’s dramatic “Mission Accomplished” speech after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln only weeks after statue was toppled in Baghdad. At the end of that year, pictures of a ragged-looking Saddam Hussein were released after the dictator was pulled out of the spider hole he had hidden himself in. But none of those symbolically rich moments actually signified the end of the war.

The images that showed the actual end of the Iraq War came eight-and-a-half years later when the last US troops crossed the border back into Kuwait, the same way they entered in March 2003 but in much less dramatic fashion.

While still a lasting symbol of the fall of Saddam Hussein, the dramatic scene of toppling one of hundreds of statues of the dictator, turned out to be not much more than an opportune media event on the sidelines of the chaos at the end of a war and the beginning of a decade-long insurgency. Nevertheless, it was one of the more memorable scenes of the Iraq War for television viewers worldwide.

© The Jerusalem Post 1995 – 2012
Link embedded in this article by ICH and did not appear in the original article

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Army Stage-Managed Fall of Hussein Statue

David Zucchino
July 3, 2004 “Los Angeles Times” — The Army’s internal study of the war in Iraq criticizes some efforts by its own psychological operations units, but one spur-of-the-moment effort last year produced the most memorable image of the invasion.
As the Iraqi regime was collapsing on April 9, 2003, Marines converged on Firdos Square in central Baghdad, site of an enormous statue of Saddam Hussein. It was a Marine colonel — not joyous Iraqi civilians, as was widely assumed from the TV images — who decided to topple the statue, the Army report said. And it was a quick-thinking Army psychological operations team that made it appear to be a spontaneous Iraqi undertaking.
After the colonel — who was not named in the report — selected the statue as a “target of opportunity,” the psychological team used loudspeakers to encourage Iraqi civilians to assist, according to an account by a unit member.
But Marines had draped an American flag over the statue’s face.
“God bless them, but we were thinking … that this was just bad news,” the member of the psychological unit said. “We didn’t want to look like an occupation force, and some of the Iraqis were saying, ‘No, we want an Iraqi flag!’ “
Someone produced an Iraqi flag, and a sergeant in the psychological operations unit quickly replaced the American flag.
Ultimately, a Marine recovery vehicle toppled the statue with a chain, but the effort appeared to be Iraqi-inspired because the psychological team had managed to pack the vehicle with cheering Iraqi children.
— David Zucchino
Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times 

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Depleted Uranium

By William Bowles
April 02, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“” – Under the title ‘Fallujah’s children’s ‘genetic damage’ that old war horse ‘literally’ of the BBC’s foreign propaganda service, John Simpson, manages not to mention the phrase ‘depleted uranium’ when allegedly reporting on the alarming rise in birth defects that include cancer, leukaemia and a horrific rise in child mortality since the US demolished the city of Fallujah in 2004. And it’s not until right at the end of the piece that the US attack on Fallujah is even mentioned, let alone depleted uranium!
Simpson says:
“Even if it’s possible to produce watertight scientific proof that American weapons were responsible for the genetic damage it will be almost impossible for the people who suffered to get any redress. American legislation makes it extremely difficult to sue the US government over acts of war.”
Well that takes care of that little problem then, doesn’t it. I trust the US government will reward Simpson for his slavish support of its wars of conquest and destruction.
Indeed, just look at the title of the video, the phrase genetic damage is in single quotes, thus the damage to the children of Fallujah, which is clearly and obviously genetic in origin, is questioned by the BBC’s spin meister Simpson. Worse, the video shows doctors comparing the effects of depleted uranium on the children of Fallujah with that of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and point out that in fact, they’re much worse than the damage inflicted by the Empire’s atomic bombs.
Dan Hind, in his latest piece describes the BBC’s role as follows:
“[The BBC’s] journalistic failings derive from its nature as a creature of parliamentary opinion. If the executive and most of Parliament are uninterested in seeing an issue debated then the BBC remains silent. Given the centrality of the BBC in our information system its dependence on cues from an out of control political class lends mainstream coverage of public affairs an increasingly hallucinatory quality. When Westminster wants something – from a war in the Middle East to the privatization of the NHS – the BBC falls into line.” – ‘What If They Held A Constitutional Convention and Everybody Came?‘ By Dan Hind
I wanted to put the BBC video up here, but inconveniently, The BBC decided that us punters who pay for the BBC, are denied that right, so you’ll have to watch it here, but hurry up, who knows how long the BBC will allow us to view it? This in spite of the fact that it states on its website:
“BBC News makes some video content available for embedding on other websites and blogs. These videos can be embedded onto both personal and business websites, subject to our revised terms of use.“
Clearly this video is one that the BBC doesn’t want distributed too widely in spite of its disingenuous and downright misleading message (or perhaps because of it?).
Facts in the video about genetic damage (note not alleged genetic damage) to the children of Fallujah in the video that Simpson apparently didn’t notice include:
A twelve-fold increase in childhood cancers since 2004
Child mortality in Falluja 80 per thousand but in neighbouring Jordan it’s only 17 per thousand.
The ratio of boys to girls born has dramatically altered. Normally it’s a little over a 1000 thousand boys to 1000 girls but in Fallujah it’s 860 boys to a 1000 girls, an effect seen after the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Horrific birth defects (too horrible for the BBC to show)
And even after a specialist talks about “genetic damage” in Fallujah, Simpson tells us:
“Yet the way the survey was done, asking people to fill in forms, means that it still isn’t finally conclusive.”
I’m not sure what Simpson wants here (aside from “watertight scientific proof”), if the survey of 4800 people, conducted by theInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health doesn’t fit the bill, what does?
But to add insult to injury, Simpson ends the report by blaming the Iraqi government!
“But even the Iraqi government doesn’t seem interested in finding out the truth, perhaps because Fallujah is a predominately Sunni Muslim town and the government is overwhelmingly Shiite Muslim.”
So Simpson manages to make the alleged Sunni/Shiite divide as the reason why we can’t get at the truth of the situation in Fallujah! Once more, the victims get blamed.
This is outrageous stuff, truly Goebellian propaganda of the worst kind. Hopefully, if there’s any justice in this world, one day Simpson will be called to account for his crimes of misreporting.

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War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity: The story of U.S. Exceptionalism in Iraq

By Ajamu Baraka
March 27, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Asia Times” – This month marks the tenth anniversary of the U.S. attack on Iraq, one of the most egregious expressions of naked power and imperial ambition since the Second World War. The attack defied both an outraged world opinion — expressed by global mass demonstrations – and the United Nations charter. It also marked a change from the previous veiled decorum of supposed adherence to international law that defined post-war international relations. The Bush administration, armed with the ultimate expression of the arrogance of U.S. exceptionalism – legislation passed by the U.S. Congress – unleashed a murderous assault on the people of Iraq dubbed “Operation Shock and Awe.”
Ten years later, the awesome consequences of that criminal assault are clear. More than a trillion dollars spent, almost five thousand American lives lost, more than 32,000 Americans wounded, estimates of a million dead Iraqis and almost five million displaced, an epidemic of Iraqi birth defects from “depleted” uranium, daily bombings, devastated public services and the dismemberment of the country. Yet, ten years later, no one, not one government official, has been held accountable. The obvious question is: how is it that, in light of one of the most heinous crimes ever committed by a State, there have been no investigations, prosecutions or convictions of the officials responsible for this assault?
The lack of accountability is even more incomprehensible in light of the fact that it is now widely acknowledged that the real reason for the Western invasion of Iraq had little to do with its concern about weapons of mass destruction and everything to do with its desire to steal Iraq’s oil.
American officials have long-since broken their silence on the phony excuses proffered to the American people to sucker them into supporting a war of choice against an Iraqi regime softened-up by a decade of crippling sanctions. Antonia Juhasz, in an article written for CNN’s website, pointed out that the historical record is now unambiguously replete with evidence that the real motivation to attack Iraq was control of Iraq’s oil and that plans were being made as soon as ten days after the Bush Administration took power to figure out how to accomplish that objective.
But that was not the reason presented to the U.S. and the global public. What was presented was the argument that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and that President Saddam Hussein and his government, therefore, posed a threat to the world (meaning the U.S.). The “threat argument” was concocted to respond to any questions regarding the justification for waging war against a sovereign nation and was the basis for the ridiculous assertions by the Bush Administration that there was some operational cooperation between the government of Iraq and Ansar al-Islam, at the time loosely identified with the Al-Qaeda network. Anyone with an even cursory understanding of the relationship between the Iraqi government and Al-Qaeda knew the assertion to be a laughable one, as Saddam Hussein was universally hated by the radical Islamic movement. However, with a compliant U.S. mainstream press and a U.S. public notorious for being one of the most unsophisticated in the world, it was relatively easy to not only make the argument that Iraqi WMDs posed a threat to the U.S. but also that Iraq was somehow connected to the attacks on 9/11. The government was so successful in planting this notion in American minds that even after an avalanche of evidence to the contrary was revealed, in 2004 over 60 percent of those who voted for the re-election of Pres. George Bush believed that Iraq was somehow connected to 9/11.
So if it is clear that the concern for WMDs was an elaborate hoax and that the attack on Iraq not only violated international law but even violated U.S. law, where is the investigation by the International Criminal Court? Why don’t we see the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their boss George Bush in the dock at a Special Tribunal on Iraq? And why has there been no accountability even under U.S. law? Why the continued impunity, when the facts indicate that a crime of epic proportions was committed? At a very minimum, there is enough evidence to justify an investigation into the attempts to evade, manipulate and distort U.S. law to further the narrow economic interests of powerful interests in the Bush Administration. Don’t “we, the people” deserve to know the details and role of the National Energy Policy Development Group, chaired by Dick Cheney, that was formed right after the Administration took power?
Who pays the price for impunity?
The Iraqi Government nationalized its oil sector more than 30 years ago. But Western oil companies are now back. Riding in under the gun of the coalition of the willing, Western companies have now taken over the Iraqi oil sector, with 80 percent of production being exported out of the country while Iraqis struggle to meet basic energy consumption needs. So Western oil is doing fine.
Did the U.S. media learn anything from the Iraqi war? It should have been clear that something had gone horribly wrong with a media culture that could allow itself to be reduced to a mouthpiece and propaganda machine for the U.S. Government. Sadly, it does not appear that any lessons were learned. What this episode has revealed is that by the early 2000s, a corporate media culture had emerged in the U.S. that embraced an ideological orthodoxy that framed its perception of the world in terms that did not diverge substantially from the positions and views of the economic and political elites in the country. The result is a mainstream media culture today that is more than willing to parrot the government’s line on the “big questions of war,” almost without question. The latest example if this role is the hysteria being whipped up by the corporate media to push the Obama Administration to attack Syria because of unconfirmed “reports” that it’s military has used chemical weapons in the civil war that the U.S. orchestrated in the country. Here again, we see that the media still passes on information from unnamed governmental sources and when it takes editorial positions that find it on the same side as the government, NATO and A-Qaeda in places like Libya or Syria it is seen as just an odd circumstance of history.
So neither government representatives nor associated institutions like the media and corporations pay the price for their role in crimes perpetrated internationally. The lawlessness and impunity of the West is paid for by the people of whichever nation finds itself in the crosshairs of U.S. and Western interests. It is paid for by the families of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, the working class families of the troops killed or injured, and the troops who returned home suffering from post-traumatic stress. A price has also been exacted from all us who believe in the possibility of cooperative, global human progress
What the U.S. war on Iraq demonstrated is that in order to maintain their fantasies of continued global dominance, the U.S. and its colonialist allies will resort to naked piracy. But it is not gold trinkets and slaves that are the contemporary booty – it is whole nations. And while the undermining of the rule of law, the normalization of war to advance national interests and the hollowing out of the human rights idea in order to justify “humanitarian interventions” might seem to be beneficial in the short term, the people of the world who have been slowly liberating themselves from the conceptual myopia of colonization see very clearly the hypocrisy of the West’s supposed commitment to universal human rights, democracy and the rule of law when international crimes like the attack on Iraq go unpunished.
The result is that many are not moved by the West’s expressions of concerns for the people of Syria, when the U.S. and the West continue to support the occupation and dehumanization of the Palestinian people, kill innocents with drone strikes, and train and provide weapons to repressive states and terrorists groups. Many understand that if there was a real commitment to the equal application of international law and accountability, U.S. and British officials would be held to account for the crimes committed in Iraq. But we all know that is not going to happen anytime soon.
Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles.

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Washington Post Prints More Iraq Lies

By Peter Hart
March 23, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Fair” How long can media keep printing lies about the Iraq War? Today’sWashington Post (3/22/13) provides one answer, since they printed an 0p-ed by former Bush national security adviser Stephen Hadleywhere he argued this:
After Hussein was deposed, we did not find the stockpiles of WMDs that all the world’s major intelligence services, the Clinton and Bush administrations and most members of Congress thought that he had. It was less an intelligence failure than a failure of imagination. Before the war, no one conceived what seems to have been the case: that Hussein had destroyed his WMD stocks but wanted to hide this from his enemy Iran. The U.S. team charged with searching for WMDs concluded that Hussein had the intention and the means to return to WMD production had he not been brought down. (With Iran pursuing nuclear weapons, it is a good bet that he would have.)
This is complete, utter nonsense; a serious newspaper would be ashamed to print it.
Long before the war, the government had intelligence from the most famous defector from Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law Hussein Kamel. The government publicly claimed that what Kamel told them confirmed their threats about Iraq’s WMDs. 
In fact, what Kamel actually told IAEA inspectors in 1995 was that the weapons stockpiles had been destroyed. This was reported right before the invasion by Newsweek magazine. 
So it is 100 percent false to talk about “a failure of imagination.”
It is also false to talk about how “all the world’s major intelligence services” were in agreement on Iraq intelligence. Some remained quite skeptical about the analysis being promoted by the Bush administration. As a matter of fact, the Washington Post (3/18/03) printed an article to the effect right before the before the war started:
As the Bush administration prepares to attack Iraq this week, it is doing so on the basis of a number of allegations against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that have been challenged—and in some cases disproved–by the United Nations, European governments and even U.S. intelligence reports.
So the Post is publishing something that flies in the face of what its own reporters documented at the time.
What about the idea that Iraq was hiding its absence of WMDs from Iran? If they were, they weren’t do a very good job of it. Before the war, Saddam Hussein went on CBS with Dan Rather (60 Minutes II, 2/26/03) and stated quite clearly that he had no such weapons: “I think America and the world also knows that Iraq no longer has the weapons,” he told Rather. You can watch the video here.
To top it all the off, the parenthetical at the end–which stands as a final justification for the war–is completely unsupported; there is no evidence to suggest that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon.
Does the Post factcheck op-eds? By the looks of it, they do not. But something tells me that if you submitted a column that made completely factual observations about Iraq–saying, for example, that there was clear evidence before the war that Iraq had destroyed its WMDs, and that Iraq had done its best to make clear that it didn’t possess any–you would have little chance of getting it published. And if, by some miracle, it did make through the early editing process, someone would demand that you substantiate these accurate claims.
No such burden would appear to have been placed on Stephen Hadley, who was part of the team that told the lies that took the country into war. Thanks to the Washington Post, he is still doing so.
Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR’s magazineExtra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR’s syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.

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Children Horribly Deformed by US Chemical Weapons in Iraq


The depleted uranium usage in Iraq left lasting effects in babies born with horrifying deformities in Fallujah and Basra. Is this the legacy of the war, and should people be paying more attention to these awful consequences?
Ana Kasparian, Steve Oh (COO of The Young Turks), and Desi Doyen (Green News Report) discuss.
Posted March 23, 2013

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Search and Destroy: The Rape of Iraq

By Pepe Escobar

March 20, 2013 “Information Clearing House –Asia Times” – First thing we do, let’s kill all mythographers (lawyerly or not): the rape of Iraq is the biggest, man-made humanitarian disaster of our times. It’s essential to keep in mind this was a direct consequence of Washington smashing international law to pieces; after Iraq, any freak anywhere can unleash preemptive war, and quote Bush/Cheney 2003 as precedent.

And yet, 10 years after Shock and Awe, even so-called “liberals” have been trying to legitimize something, anything, out of the “Iraq project”. There was never a “project”; only a dizzying maze of lies – including a posteriori justifications of bombing the Greater Middle East into “democracy”.

I’ve been thinking about The Catalyst lately. The Catalyst was the

tank I had to negotiate every time in and out of my cramped digs on the way to the red zone, in the first weeks of the US occupation of Baghdad. The marines were mainly from Texas and New Mexico. We used to talk. They were convinced they hit Baghdad because “the terrorists attacked us on 9/11”. 

Years later, most Americans still believed The Outstanding Lie. Which proves that the cosmically arrogant and ignorant neo-cons at least got one thing right. The Saddam Hussein-al-Qaeda connection may not have been the prime piece of the puzzle in their “project” of invading and remaking Iraq from Year Zero (there were also the non-existing WMDs); but it was immensely effective as a brainwashing technique for rallying the galleries. 

When the torture porn spectacle of Abu Ghraib was revealed in the spring of 2004 (I was driving through Texas on an assignment, and virtually everybody deemed the whole show “normal”) The Outstanding Lie still ruled. Ten years on, after Abu Ghraib, the destruction of Fallujah, the widespread “dead-checking” (killing wounded Iraqis), “360-degree rotational fire” (target-practice on scores of Iraqi civilians), calling air strikes on civilian areas, not to mention “killing all military-age men”; after US$3 trillion, and counting, spent (remember the neo-cons promised a short, easy war costing no more than $60 billion); after over 1 million Iraqis killed directly or indirectly by the invasion and occupation, the maze of lies still engulf us all like a giant Medusa. 

Oh yes, and the Oscar-winning CIA – true to character – continues to cover it all up

Faster, counter-insurgent, kill, kill

Iraq Year Zero lasted roughly 10 days. I watched the official birth of the resistance; a mass rally in Baghdad, starting in Adhamiya, uniting Sunnis and Shi’ites. Then came the exploits of that Stooge Central called the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), “led” by the ghastly Paul Bremer, unfailingly displaying interplanetary ignorance of Mesopotamian culture. And then a sort of larger than life search and destroy offensive, deployed as a “tactic”, masquerading as counter-insurgency. No wonder this quickly turned into a sandy Vietnam. 

The Sunni resistance drove the Pentagon literally crazy. This is how the “triangle of death” looked like in the summer of 2004. And this is the Pentagon’s response four months later, applying what I called “precision-strike democracy.” 

In the end, the triangle of death won – sort of. Fast forward to Dubya’s “surge”. Gullible millions in the US still believe Horny General David Petraeus’s narrative of the surge. I was there at the beginning of the surge, in the spring of 2007. The horrendous US-engineered civil war – remember, it’s always about divide and rule – was only subsidizing because Shi’ite commandos – Badr Corps and Madhi Army – had managed to conduct a devastating ethnic cleansing of Sunnis in what used to be mixed neighborhoods. Baghdad, once a slightly predominantly Sunni city, had turned predominantly Shi’ite. This had nothing to do with Petraeus. 

As for the Awakening Councils, they were essentially Sunni militias (numbering over 80,000), organized by clans, who became fed up with al-Qaeda in Iraq’s gory tactics, mostly in the very same triangle of death, including Fallujah and Ramadi. Petraeus paid them with suitcases full of cash. Before that – when, for instance, they were defending Fallujah in November 2004 – they were branded as “terrorists”. Now they were duly reconverted into Ronald Reagan-style “freedom fighters”. 

I had met some of those sheikhs. Their wily plan was long-term; instead of fighting the Americans, we take their money, lay low for a while, get rid of those al-Qaeda fanatics, and later attack our real enemy; the Shi’ites in power in Baghdad. 

That’s exactly the next step in Iraq, where yet another civil war is slowly brewing. And by the way, some of these former “terrorists” – with ample battleground experience – are now the key commanders in that alphabet soup of Syrian “rebel” units fighting against the Assad regime in Syria. And yes, they remain “freedom fighters”. 

Balkanize or bust

Americans obviously don’t remember that Joe Biden, when still in the senate, eagerly campaigned for the balkanization of Iraq into three sectarian parts. Considering that he is now one of the Obama 2.0 administration’s point man for Syria, he may even end up having it both ways. 

True, Iraq is the first Arab nation ruled by a Shi’ite government since fabled Saladin got rid of the Fatimids in Egypt way back in 1171. But this is a nation on the way to total fragmentation. 

The Green Zone, once an American town, may now be Shi’ite. But even Grand Ayatollah Sistani – the top Shi’ite religious leader, who actually broke the back of the neo-cons and the CPA in Najaf in 2004 – is disgusted with the mess orchestrated by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. And even Tehran is caught in a bind. Contrary to think tank belief in the Beltway – do these people ever get anything right? – Iran does not manipulate Iraq’s politics. Above all, what Tehran really fears in Iraq is a civil war not quite dissimilar to what’s happening in Syria. 

Patrick Cockburn’s coverage of Iraq for these past 10 years as a foreign correspondent is unrivalled. This is his current evaluation

Important facts are that kingmaker Muqtada al-Sadr – remember when he was the most dangerous man in Iraq, on the cover of every American magazine? – may have criticized Maliki for his Shi’ite hegemony bias, but he does not want regime change. Shi’ites have the numbers, so in a still unified Iraq there’s bound to be a Shi’ite majority government anyway. 

The overwhelmingly Shi’ite south of Iraq remains very poor. The only possible source of employment is government jobs. Infrastructure, all over, remains in tatters – direct consequence of UN and US sanctions, then the invasion and occupation. 

But then there’s the shining city on a hill; Iraqi Kurdistan, a somewhat warped development of Pipelineistan. 

Big Oil never had a chance to fulfill its 2003 dream of lowering the price of a barrel back to $20 – in line with Rupert Murdoch’swishful thinking. But there’s a lot of action all over the place. Greg Muttitt has been unmatched following the new Iraq oil boom

Yet nowhere else the action is more convoluted than in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), where up to 60 oil companies – from ExxonMobil to Chevron, Total and Gazprom – are in play. 

The holy of the holies is a new pipeline linking Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey, the theoretical Kurdish passport to export oil bypassing Baghdad. No one knows whether that will be the straw to break the Iraqi camel’s back – as Iraqi Kurds are getting closer and closer to Ankara and drifting away from Baghdad. The ball is definitely in Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s court – just as Kurds have a once in many lifetimes chance of juggling between Ankara, Baghdad and Tehran’s interests and finally ending up with an independent, and economically self-sufficient Kurdistan. 

So yes, there are plenty of balkanization signs on the horizon. But what about lessons learned by the US out of one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in history? Nothing. Nada. We will have to wait for Nick Turse to come up, in a few years, with an Iraqi equivalent of his masterful book on Vietnam, Kill Anything That Moves. Even more than Vietnam, Iraq’s catalogue of horrors was the inevitable result of not only official Pentagon policy, but also official White House policy. 

Will this harrowing spiral of Iraqi suffering ever be fully acknowledged? We could always start here, with the case stated by former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Hans Sponeck. 

Or, in a pop vein, a non-Hollywood/CIA producer could invest in a made in Iraq movie, distributed worldwide, where in the final act Dubya, Dick, Rummy, Wolfie and assorted hoodlums of the Douglas Feith mould are all sent on a one-way ticket to a Guantanamo faithfully recreated in the triangle of death – to the sound of Bob Dylan’s Masters of War. Now that would be some global catharsis to die for. 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at 

Copyright 2013 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd.

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Iraq After Ten Years

By Paul Craig Roberts

March 19, 2013 “Information Clearing House –  March 19, 2013. Ten years ago today the Bush regime invaded Iraq. It is known that the justification for the invasion was a packet of lies orchestrated by the neoconservative Bush regime in order to deceive the United Nations and the American people. 

The US Secretary of State at that time, General Colin Powell, has expressed his regrets that he was used by the Bush regime to deceive the United Nations with fake intelligence that the Bush and Blair regimes knew to be fake. But the despicable presstitute media has not apologized to the American people for serving the corrupt Bush regime as its Ministry of Propaganda and Lies. 

It is difficult to discern which is the most despicable, the corrupt Bush regime, the presstitutes that enabled it, or the corrupt Obama regime that refuses to prosecute the Bush regime for its unambiguous war crimes, crimes against the US Constitution, crimes against US statutory law, and crimes against humanity.

In his book, Cultures Of War, the distinguished historian John W. Dower observes that the concrete acts of war unleashed by the Japanese in the 20th century and the Bush imperial presidency in the 21st century “invite comparative analysis of outright war crimes like torture and other transgressions. Imperial Japan’s black deeds have left an indelible stain on the nation’s honor and good name, and it remains to be seen how lasting the damage to America’s reputation will be. In this regard, the Bush administration’s war planners are fortunate in having been able to evade formal and serious investigation remotely comparable to what the Allied powers pursued vis-a-vis Japan and Germany after World War II.”

Dower quotes Arthur Schlesinger Jr.: “The president [Bush] has adopted a policy of ‘anticipatory self-defense’ that is alarmingly similar to the policy that imperial Japan employed at Pearl Harbor on a date which, as an earlier American president said it would, lives in infamy. Franklin D. Roosevelt was right, but today it is we Americans who live in infamy.”

Americans paid an enormous sum of money for the shame of living in infamy. Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes calculated that the Iraq war cost US taxpayers $3,000 billion dollars. This estimate might turn out to be optimistic. The latest study concludes that the war could end up costing US taxpayers twice as much. 

In order to pay for the profits that have flowed into the pockets of the US military-security complex and from there into political contributions, Americans are in danger of losing Social Security, Medicare, and the social cohesiveness that the social welfare system provides. 

The human cost to Iraq of America’s infamy is extraordinary: 4.5 million displaced Iraqis, as many as 1 million dead civilians leaving widows and orphans, a professional class that has departed the country, an infrastructure in ruins, and social cohesion destroyed by the Sunni-Shia conflict that was ignited by Washington’s destruction of the Saddam Hussein government. 

It is a sick joke that the United States government brought freedom and democracy to Iraq. What the Washington war criminals brought was death and the destruction of a country.

The US population, for the most part, seems quite at ease with the gratuitous destruction of Iraq and all that it entails: children without parents, wives without husbands, birth defects from “depleted” uranium, unsafe water, a country without hope mired in sectarian violence.

Washington’s puppet state governments in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Japan seem equally pleased with the victory–over what? What threat did the victory defeat? There was no threat. Weapons of mass destruction was a propaganda hoax. Mushroom clouds over American cities was fantasy propaganda. How ignorant do populations have to be to fall for such totally transparent propaganda? Is there no intelligence anywhere in the Western world? 

At a recent conference the neoconservatives responsible for the deaths and ruined lives of millions and for the trillions of dollars that their wars piled on US national debt were unrepentant and full of self-justification. While Washington looks abroad for evil to slay, evil is concentrated in Washington itself. 

The American war criminals walk about unmolested. They are paid large sums of money to make speeches about how Americans are bringing freedom and democracy to the world by invading, bombing and murdering people. The War Crimes Tribunal has not issued arrest warrants. The US Department of State, which is still hunting for Nazi war criminals, has not kidnapped the American ones and sent them to be tried at the Hague. 

The Americans who suffered are the 4,801 troops who lost their lives, the thousands of troops who lost limbs and suffer from other permanent wounds, the tens of thousands who suffer from post-traumatic stress and from the remorse of killing innocent people, the families and friends of the American troops, and the broken marriages and single-parent children from the war stress.

Other Americans have suffered on the home front. Those whose moral conscience propelled them to protest the war were beaten and abused by police, investigated and harassed by the FBI, and put on no-fly lists. Some might actually be prosecuted. The Unites States has reached the point where any citizen who has a moral conscience is an enemy of the state. The persecution of Bradley Manning demonstrates this truth.

A case could be made that the historians’ comparison of the Bush regime with Japanese war criminals doesn’t go far enough. By this October 7, Washington will have been killing people, mainly women, children, and village elders, in Afghanistan for 12 years. No one knows why America has brought such destruction to the Afghan people. First the Soviets; then the Americans. What is the difference? When Obama came into the presidency, he admitted that no one knew what the US military mission was in Afghanistan. We still don’t know. The best guess is profits for the US armaments industry, power for the Homeland Security industry, and a police state for the insouciant US population.

Washington has left Libya in ruins and internal conflict. There is no government, but it is not libertarian nirvana.

The incessant illegal drone attacks on Pakistani civilians is radicalizing elements of Pakistan and provoking civil war against the Pakistani government, which is owned by Washington and permits Washington’s murder of its citizens in exchange for Washington’s money payments to the political elites who have sold out their country to Washington. 

Washington has destabilized Syria and destroyed the peace that the Assad family had imposed on the Islamic sects. Syria seems fated to be reduced to ruins and permanent violence like Libya and Iraq.

Washington is at work killing people in Yemen. 

As the video released to WikiLeaks by Bradley Manning shows, some US troops don’t care who they kill–journalists and civilians walking peacefully along a street, a father and his children who stop to help the wounded. As long as someone is killed, it doesn’t matter who.

Killing is winning. 

The US invaded Somalia, has its French puppets militarily involved in Mali, and perhaps has Sudan in its crosshairs for drones and missiles.

Iran and Lebanon are designated as the next victims of Washington’s aggression.

Washington protects Israeli aggression against the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon from UN censure and from embargoes. Washington has arrested and imprisoned people who have sent aid to the Palestinian children. Gaza, declares Washington which regards itself as the only fount of truth, is ruled by Hamas, a terrorist organization according to Washington. Thus any aid to Gaza is aid to terrorism. Aide to starving and ill Palestinian children is support of terrorism. This is the logic of an inhumane war criminal state. 

What is this aggression against Muslims about? 

The Soviet Union collapsed and Washington needed a new enemy to keep the US military/security complex in power and profits. The neoconservatives, who totally dominated the Bush regime and might yet dominate the Obama regime declared Muslims in the Middle East to be the enemy. Against this make-believe “enemy,” the US launched wars of aggression that are war crimes under the US imposed Nuremberg standard that was applied to the defeated WWII Germans.

Although the British and French started World War II by declaring war on Germany, it was Germans, defeated by the Red Army, who were tried by Washington as war criminals for starting a war. A number of serious historians have reached the conclusion that America’s war crimes, with the fire-bombings of the civilian populations of Dresden and Tokyo and the gratuitous nuclear attacks on the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are of the same cloth as the war crimes of Hitler and the Japanese.

The difference is that the winners paint the defeated in the blackest tones and themselves in high moral tones. Honest historians know that there is not much difference between US WWII war crimes and those of the Japanese and Germans. But

the US was on the winning side.

By its gratuitous murder of Muslims in seven or eight countries, Washington has ignited a Muslim response: bitter hatred of the United States. This response is termed “terrorism” by Washington and the war against terrorism serves as a source of endless profits for the military complex and for a police state to “protect” Americans from terrorism, but not from the terrorism of their own government. 

The bulk of the American population is too misinformed to catch on, and the few who do

understand and are attempting to warn others will be silenced. The 21st century will be one of the worst centuries in human history. All over the Western world, liberty is dying.

The legacy of “the war on terror” is the death of liberty.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.

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MI6 and CIA Were Told Before Invasion That Iraq Had No Active WMD

BBC’s Panorama reveals fresh evidence that agencies dismissed intelligence from Iraqi foreign minister and spy chief
By Richard Norton-Taylor 
March 18, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“The Guardian” — Fresh evidence is revealed today about how MI6 and the CIA were told through secret channels by Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister and his head of intelligence that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction.
Tony Blair told parliament before the war that intelligence showed Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programme was “active”, “growing” and “up and running”.
A special BBC Panorama programme tonight will reveal how British and US intelligence agencies were informed by top sources months before the invasion that Iraq had no active WMD programme, and that the information was not passed to subsequent inquiries.
It describes how Naji Sabri, Saddam’s foreign minister, told the CIA’s station chief in Paris at the time, Bill Murray, through an intermediary that Iraq had “virtually nothing” in terms of WMD.
Sabri said in a statement that the Panorama story was “totally fabricated”.
However, Panorama confirms that three months before the war an MI6 officer met Iraq’s head of intelligence, Tahir Habbush al-Tikriti, who also said that Saddam had no active WMD. The meeting in the Jordanian capital, Amman, took place days before the British government published its now widely discredited Iraqi weapons dossier in September 2002.
Lord Butler, the former cabinet secretary who led an inquiry into the use of intelligence in the runup to the invasion of Iraq, tells the programme that he was not told about Sabri’s comments, and that he should have been.
Butler says of the use of intelligence: “There were ways in which people were misled or misled themselves at all stages.”
When it was suggested to him that the body that probably felt most misled of all was the British public, Butler replied: “Yes, I think they’re, they’re, they got every reason think that.”
The programme shows how the then chief of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, responded to information from Iraqi sources later acknowledged to be unreliable.
One unidentified MI6 officer has told the Chilcot inquiry that at one stage information was “being torn off the teleprinter and rushed across to Number 10”.
Another said it was “wishful thinking… [that] promised the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow”.
The programme says that MI6 stood by claims that Iraq was buying uranium from Niger, though these were dismissed by other intelligence agencies, including the French.
It also shows how claims by Iraqis were treated seriously by elements in MI6 and the CIA even after they were exposed as fabricated including claims, notably about alleged mobile biological warfare containers, made by Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, a German source codenamed Curveball. He admitted to the Guardian in 2011 that all the information he gave to the west was fabricated.
Panorama says it asked for an interview with Blair but he said he was “too busy”.

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Arundhati Roy on Iraq War’s 10th: Bush May Be Gone, But "Psychosis" of U.S. Foreign Policy Prevails

Video By Democracy Now!
“The U.S. is supporting al-Qaeda militias all over this region and pretending that it’s fighting Islam. So we are in a situation of—it is psychopathic.”
 “We are being given lessons in morality [by world leaders] while tens of thousands are being killed, while whole countries are shattered, while whole civilizations are driven back decades, if not centuries,” Roy says. “And everything continues as normal.”
Posted March 18, 2013
AMY GOODMAN: March 19th marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. According to a new report by Brown University, a decade of war led to the deaths of roughly 134,000 Iraqi civilians and potentially contributed to the deaths of many hundreds of thousands more. According to the report, the Iraq war has cost the U.S. more than $2 trillion, including half-a-trillion dollars in benefits owed to veterans. The report says the war has devastated rather than helped Iraq, spurring militant violence, setting back women’s rights and hurting the healthcare system. Most of the more than $200 billion supposedly set aside for reconstruction in Iraq was actually used for security or lost amid rampant fraud and waste. Many in Iraq continue to suffer the consequences of the invasion. This is Basma Najem, whose husband was shot dead by U.S. forces in Basra in 2011.
BASMA NAJEM: [translated] We expected that we would live in a better situation when the occupation forces, the U.S. forces, came to Iraq. We expected that the situation would be improved. But contrary to our expectation, the situation deteriorated. And at the end, I lost my husband. I have no breadwinner in this world now, and I have six kids. I could not imagine my life would be changed like this. I do not know how it happened.
AMY GOODMAN: The consequences of the war are still visible here in the United States, as well. Military veterans continue to face extremely high levels of unemployment, traumatic brain injury, PTSD and homelessness. Almost a quarter of recent veterans come home injured either physically or emotionally, and an estimated 18 veterans commit suicide every day. This is Ed Colley, whose son, Army Private Stephen Colley, took his own life in 2007.
EDWARD COLLEY: We lost our son shortly after he returned from Iraq. He had asked for help, but he didn’t get the help that he needed. And clearly, he was trying to do what he could for himself and could think of no other cure, obviously, than to take his own life.
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about this 10th anniversary, we’re joined by the award-winning writer and activist Arundhati Roy, one of the most vocal critics of the Iraq war. In a moment, she’ll join us from Chicago. But first let’s go back to 2003 to a speech she gave at Riverside Church here in New York.
ARUNDHATI ROY: When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And an ABC News poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein directly supported al-Qaeda. None of this opinion is based on evidence, because there isn’t any. All of it is based on insinuation or to suggestion and outright lies circulated by the U.S. corporate media, otherwise known as the “free press,” that hollow pillar on which contemporary American democracy rests. Public support in the U.S. for the war against Iraq was founded on a multitiered edifice of falsehood and deceit, coordinated by the U.S. government and faithfully amplified by the corporate media.
Apart from the invented links between Iraq and al-Qaeda, we had the manufactured frenzy about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. George Bush the Lesser went to the extent—went to the extent of saying it would be suicidal for Iraq—for the U.S. not to attack Iraq. We once again witnessed the paranoia that a starved, bombed, besieged country was about to annihilate almighty America. Iraq was only the latest in a succession of countries. Earlier, there was Cuba, Nicaragua, Libya, Granada, Panama. But this time it wasn’t just your ordinary brand of friendly neighborhood frenzy. It was frenzy with a purpose. It ushered in an old doctrine in a new bottle: the doctrine of preemptive strike, also known as the United States can do whatever the hell it wants, and that’s official. The war against Iraq has been fought and won, and no weapons of mass destruction have been found, not even a little one.
AMY GOODMAN: Arundhati Roy, speaking in October of 2003 at Riverside Church here in New York, seven months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Arundhati has written many books, including The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize. Her other books include Walking with the Comrades and Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers, among others. She now joins us from Chicago.
Arundhati Roy, welcome to Democracy Now! As you watch yourself 10 years ago and reflect back 10 years ago to this week when the U.S. invaded Iraq, your thoughts today?
ARUNDHATI ROY: Well, Amy, before that, we remember how—I think it was 50 million people across the world who marched against the war in Iraq. It was perhaps the biggest display of public morality in the world—you know, I mean, before the war happened. Before the war happened, everybody knew that they were being fed lies. I remember saying, you know, it’s just the quality of the lies that is so insulting, because we are being—used to being lied to.
But, unfortunately, now, all these years later, we have to ask ourselves two questions. One is: Who benefited from this war? You know, we know who paid the price. I heard—I heard you talking about that, so I won’t get into that again. But who benefited from this war? Did the U.S. government? Did the U.S. people benefit? Did they get the oil contracts that they wanted, in the way that they wanted? The answer is no. And yet, today you hear Dick Cheney saying he would do it all over again in a second.
So, unfortunately, we are dealing with psychosis. We are dealing with a psychopathic situation. And all of us, including myself, we can’t do anything but keep being reasonable, keep saying what needs to be said. But that doesn’t seem to help the situation, because, of course, as we know, after Iraq, there’s been Libya, there’s Syria, and the rhetoric of, you know, democracy versus radical Islam. When you look at the countries that were attacked, none of them were Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalist countries. Those ones are supported, financed by the U.S., so there is a real collusion between radical Islam and capitalism. What is going on is really a different kind of battle.
And, you know, most people are led up a path which keeps them busy. And in a way, all of us are being kept busy, while the real business at the heart of it—I mean, apart from the people who suffered during the war. Let’s not forget the sanctions. Let’s not forget Madeleine Albright saying that a million children dying in Iraq because of the sanctions was a hard price but worth it. I mean, she was the victim, it seems, of the sanctions; you know, her softness was called upon, and she had to brazen herself to do it. And today, you have the Democrats bombing Pakistan, destroying that country, too. So, just in this last decade, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria—all these countries have been—have been shattered.
You know, we heard a lot about why—you know, the war in Afghanistan was fought for feminist reasons, and the Marines were really on this feminist mission. But today, all the women in all these countries have been driven back into medieval situations. Women who were liberated, women who were doctors and lawyers and poets and writers and—you know, pushed back into this Shia set against Sunnis. The U.S. is supporting al-Qaeda militias all over this region and pretending that it’s fighting Islam. So we are in a situation of—it is psychopathic.
And while anyone who resisted is being given moral lessons about armed struggle or violence or whatever it is, at the heart of this operation is an immorality and a violence and a—as I keep using this word—psychopathic violence, which even the people in the United States are now suffering for. You know, there is a connection, after all, between all these wars and people being thrown out of their homes in this country. And yet, of course we know who benefits from these wars. May not be the oil contracts, but certainly the weapons industry on which this economy depends for—you know, for a great part. So, all over, even between India and Pakistan now, people are advocating war. And the weapons industry is in with the corporations in India.
So, we are really being made fools of. You know, this is what is so insulting. We are being, you know, given lessons in morality while tens of thousands are being killed, while whole countries are shattered, while whole civilizations are driven back decades, if not centuries. And everything continues as normal. And you have—you have people, like criminals, really, like Cheney, saying, “I’ll do it again. I’ll do it again. I won’t think about it. I’ll do it again.” And so that’s the situation we are in now.
AMY GOODMAN: Arundhati, a decade after the invasion of Iraq, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair stood by his decision to go to war, saying it saved Iraq from a fate worse than Syria’s at the moment.
TONY BLAIR: I think if we’d—if we’d backed off and we’d left him in power, you just imagine, with what is happening in Syria now, if you’d left Saddam in charge of Iraq, you would have had carnage on an even worse scale in Syria and with no end in sight. So, you know, this was the most difficult decision I ever took and the most balanced decision. But I still—personally, I still believe we were better to remove him than leave him.
AMY GOODMAN: That was British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former prime minister. Arundhati Roy, your response?
ARUNDHATI ROY: Well, you know, I don’t know. Maybe they need to be put into a padded cell and given some real news to read, you know? I mean, how can you say this, after creating a situation in Iraq where no—I mean, every day people are being blown up? There are—you know, mosques are being attacked. Thousands are being killed. People have been made to hate each other. In Iraq, women were amongst the most liberated women in the world, and they have been driven back into having to wear burqas and be safe, because of the situation. And this man is saying, “Oh, we did such a wonderful thing. We saved these people.” Now, isn’t that like—isn’t it insane? I mean, I don’t know how to respond to something like that, because it’s like somebody looking at somebody being slaughtered and saying, “Oh, he must be enjoying it. We are really helping him,” you know? So, how do you argue rationally against these people?
ARUNDHATI ROY: We just have to think about what we need to do, you know? But we can’t have a conversation with them in this—at this point.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you see President Obama going in a different direction?
ARUNDHATI ROY: Of course not. I don’t see him going in a different direction at all. I mean, the real question to ask is: When was the last time the United States won a war? You know, it lost in Vietnam. It’s lost in Afghanistan. It’s lost in Iraq. And it will not be able to contain the situation. It is hemorrhaging. It is now—you know, of course you can continue with drone attacks, and you can continue these targeted killings, but on the ground, a situation is being created which no army—not America, not anybody—can control. And it’s just, you know, a combination of such foolishness, such a lack of understanding of culture in the world.
And Obama just goes on, you know, coming out with these smooth, mercurial sentences that are completely meaningless. I was—I remember when he was sworn in for the second time, and he came on stage with his daughters and his wife, and it was all really nice, and he said, you know, “Should my daughters have another dog, or should they not?” And a man who had lost his entire family in the drone attacks just a couple of weeks ago said, “What am I supposed to think? What am I supposed to think of this exhibition of love and family values and good fatherhood and good husbandhood?” I mean, we’re not morons, you know? It’s about time that we stopped acting so reasonable. I just don’t feel reasonable about this anymore.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back and talk about what’s happening in Kashmir, a place you’ve been focusing on recently, Arundhati. Arundhati Roy is the award-winning writer, renowned global justice activist. Among her books, The God of Small Things, her most recent book, Walking with the Comrades, and Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.
See also – A New Intifada in Kashmir? Arundhati Roy & Sanjay Kak on the World’s Most Densely Militarized Area.

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10th Anniversary Of Iraq War: U.S. Still Hasn’t Learned Its Lessons

By Robert Taylor
March 18, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Policymic” – March 19 will mark the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. While it is still far too soon to truly assess the impact that it had and will continue to have on the world, a decade is still long enough to at least reflect on an awful war and occupation that is surely one of the most memorable events of my generation.
Although it has now largely faded from Americans’ short-term memories, the Iraq War is a great microcosm for the follies and horror of aggressive war, a policy of military interventionism, and the domestic politics that allow both to thrive.
The roots of the war can be traced back to at least 1991 and the end of the Cold War. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the entire justification for an imperial position around the globe by the U.S. vanished overnight. In Iraq and Saddam Hussein, a former ally of the U.S., the Pentagon found its next target.
The first President Bush invaded to save the King of Kuwait, but that was just the beginning. A decade of sanctions, blockades, and bombings by President Clinton that deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure and prevented basic commercial goods (even medicine) from entering the country killed an estimated 500,000 children. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright infamously declared these innocent lives “worth it.”
One would think that this would be enough terror to unleash on a country that had no possible way of attacking us, but the neocons and the War Party inside the Beltway who criticized the elder Bush for not taking Baghdad knew his son was foolish enough to do it. Way before 9/11, plans were set for an even bigger invasion.
I wasn’t even sixteen when I remember President Bush Jr. giving Saddam his 48-hour ultimatum. I knew little about politics and less about foreign policy, but there’s something about war fever that even back then worried me. The “shock and awe” bombing and subsequent invasion followed, and all hell broke loose.
I am not quite sure most Americans have come to grips with what has been to done to Iraq by the U.S. government. Numbers alone don’t quite capture it, but they help. Not counting the 500,000 Iraqi children killed by the sanctions, over one million Iraqis have been killed. Millions of refugees, widows and orphans were created. Over 5,000 American soldiers died, including nearly 100,000 casualties. Iraq is now littered with uranium-tipped shells and debris, toxic pollution that has caused increases in infant mortality, cancer, and birth defects in Fallujah.
$3 trillion were spent, billions more shoveled around, lost and unaccounted for. The human and monetary toll of the war is truly staggering.
The Iraq war was also a perfect example of the lies, propaganda, and corporatism that are a predictable result of large military establishments and an imperial foreign policy.
After 9/11, the Pentagon meticulously saturated the airwaves with former employees that were intertwined in the military-industrial-complex. “Experts” were interviewed on when and how, not if, to invade. Dissenting voices were pushed aside. Every justification that was given for the war — “weapons of mass destruction,” spreading freedom and democracy, Saddam’s supposed ties to Al-Qaeda and 9/11 — was an outright lie.
The Bush administration knew what they were doing. They knew the secular Saddam was no friend of Osama Bin Laden. That’s why the torture program was established. Thousands of detainees were brutally tortured in an attempt to illicit false confessions connecting Saddam to Al-Qaeda. A compliant press and intense fear-mongering were the finishing touches.
Democracy? Freedom? The Iraqi government is now dominated by sectarian Shiite parties with abysmal human rights records that recently crushed pro-democracy protests in Baghdad. Torture is common, and deaths squads are used with increasing frequency. Violence, including bombings, is prevalent (though never mentioned in the U.S.). While there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq before Saddam, Muslim jihadists from around the world now have intense battle experience fighting U.S. Marines in Iraq and when not terrorizing Iraqis have their eyes on Syria.
Iran now has more influence in the region than they could have ever dreamed of. After the first invasion, the U.S. built large military bases on Muslim holy lands in Saudi Arabia, one of the main reasons Osama Bin Laden attacked on 9/11. The mess left after the second invasion will undoubtedly create more blowback for years to come.
Unfortunately, the lessons of that war — indeed, all war — I fear have been lost or swept under the rug. Americans appear to still buy the “war on terror” propaganda as the U.S. beats the drums for war in Iran with the same lies used in Iraq. While Bradley Manning is ignored or vilified, the neocons who promised a “cakewalk” still have the audacity to show their faces on TV and proscribe more war. Democracy and freedom make great slogans, but have nothing to do with the real intent of American policymakers that have little hesitation in supporting some of the most authoritarian regimes around the world.
But if not for democracy or WMDs, then why did the U.S. invade Iraq? First, war is the health of the state, allowing it to consolidate power, crush dissent, instill nationalism and pass out tax loot to its corporate allies. Israel,oil, and delusions of imperial grandeur played major roles as well.
But fundamentally, the Iraq war and the bloody aftermath is what happens when a country embraces empire and allows militarism and a military-industrial-complex to dominate domestic and foreign policy. It should come as no surprised that the hawkish Democrats who supported President Bush, like Senators Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry, are now calling the shots under President Obama.
Other than the U.S. war in Indochina, the Iraq War is perhaps the single biggest foreign policy disaster in American history. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take another decade to learn these lessons.

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Cheney’s Legacy In Iraq

By Ramzy Baroud
March 14, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Al-Ahram” -Al-Qaeda linked groups are wreaking havoc in Iraq, with deaths reported almost on a daily basis as a result of their ever-innovative killing tactics. The rise of militant violence throughout the country is happening within the framework of worsening sectarian tensions, which underlines a real national crisis that has been brewing for years.
The Sunni and Shia strife, however, also reflects a growing polarisation in the Middle East region, which was greatly exacerbated by the advent of the so-called Arab Spring.
Missing from many Iraq-related political analyses is the US-led Iraq war, whose impact has devastated Iraqi society like no other event in recent Middle Eastern history. It is greatly misleading to speak of Iraq’s current woes and ignore those who were the architects of such a crisis in the first place.
Almost every news report about Iraq’s violence cites another news report of another violent event somewhere else in the country. Thanks to hyperlinked text, we can now trace Iraqi violence as far as time allows. “At least three policemen were killed by suicide bombers on 21 February in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul,” reported Reuters. The Associated Press reported on the same day of an attack on an “army checkpoint north of Baghdad, killing four soldiers and wounding four others.” A few days earlier, a devastating series of bombings, “mainly targeting Shia areas of Baghdad killed at least 21 people”, reported AFP. It is an endless chain reaction that seems to feed on itself.
However, missing from most reportage is that violence in Iraq was not self-generating and that the current divide between Sunni and Shia groups and political parties is not a manifestation of the ever-unscrupulous political process symptomatic of any fledgling democracy.
Writing in The Atlantic, under the title: ‘Why we’ll never get a full account of the war in Iraq’, D B Grady argued that one of the main reasons that the decision to invade Iraq remains a mystery is that former US vice president Dick Cheney “would like to keep it that way”. Cheney’s “adroit manipulation of classification policy,” he wrote, “kept his vault-like office sealed through both terms of the Bush presidency.”
Considering America’s ill-intentioned moves towards Iraq prior to the March 2003 invasion, the admissions of Cheney’s own neoconservative friends, their think tanks, writings and interviews, the devastation that was witnessed throughout the war, and hundreds of thousands of leaked documents of unreported war conducts, one fails to appreciate the mystery.
The US quest for war was in no way linked to the terrorist attacks of 11 September, although the spin doctors managed to use the horrific events to persuade a shell-shocked and largely misinformed public that Iraq was somehow linked to the attacks on US soil. The then senior administration official, Paul Wolfowitz, was one of the first to argue for an immediate regime change in Baghdad following the attacks. The fact is Wolfowitz, one of the most ardent pro-Israeli neocons in Washington, was actively concocting his war plans in the early 1990s, as he was unsatisfied that the first Iraq war did not eliminate the supposed Iraqi threat completely. Cheney and Wolfowitz worked closely to achieve their vision of a new Middle East. The events of 11 September were not the cause of war, but the catalyst.
The US war and invasion of Iraq, 10 years ago, was but a continuation of an earlier conquest, which, according to many war hawks, left Iraq under Saddam Hussein crippled but not destroyed. It was the then US secretary of state, James Baker, who reportedly threatened Iraqi foreign minister Tarek Aziz in a Geneva meeting in 1991 by saying that the US would destroy Iraq and “bring it back to Stone Age”. The US war which extended from 1990 to 2011, included a devastating blockade and ended with a brutal invasion. These wars were as unprincipled as they were violent. Apart from their overwhelming human toll, they were placed within a horrid political strategy aimed at exploiting the country’s existing sectarian and other fault lines, thereby triggering civil wars and sectarian hatred from which Iraq is unlikely to recover for many years.
For America, it was a strategy merely aimed at lessening the pressure placed on its own and other allied soldiers as they faced stiff resistance the moment they stepped foot in Iraq. For the Iraqis, however, it was a petrifying nightmare that can neither be expressed in words or numbers. According to UN estimates cited by BBC, between May and June 2006 “an average of more than 100 civilians per day [were] killed in violence in Iraq”. The UN estimates also placed the death toll of civilians in 2006 at 34,000. That was the year the US strategy of divide-and-conquer proved most successful.
The fact remains that the US and Britain jointly destroyed modern Iraq and no amount of remorse or apology — not that any was offered, to begin with — will alter this fact. Iraq’s former colonial masters and its new ones lacked any legal or moral ground for invading the sanctions-devastated country. They also lacked any sense of mercy as they destroyed a generation and set the stage for a future conflict that promises to be as bloody as the past.
When the last US combat brigade reportedly left Iraq in December 2011, this was meant to be an end of an era. Historians know well that conflicts do not end with a presidential decree or troop deployment. Iraq merely entered a new phase of conflict and the US, Britain and others remain integral to that conflict.
One post-invasion reality is that Iraq was divided into areas of influence based on purely sectarian and ethnic lines. In Western media’s classification of winners and losers, Sunnis, blamed for being favoured by Saddam, emerged the biggest losers. While Iraq’s new political elites were divided between Shia and Kurdish politicians (each party with its own private army, some gathered in Baghdad and others in the autonomous Kurdistan region), the Shia population was held responsible by various militant groups for the Sunni plight.
The sectarian strife in Iraq, which is responsible for the death of tens of thousands, is making a comeback. Iraqi Sunnis, including major tribes and political parties, are demanding equality and the end of their disfranchisement in the relatively new, skewed Iraqi political system under Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki. Massive protests and ongoing strikes have been organised with a unified and clear political message. However, many other parties are exploiting the polarisation in every way imaginable.
The future of Iraq is currently being determined by various forces and almost none of them are composed of Iraqi nationals with a uniting vision. Caught between bitter sectarianism, extremism, the power-hungry, wealth amassing elites, regional power players, Western interests and a very violent war legacy, the Iraqi people are suffering beyond the ability of sheer political analyses or statistics to capture their anguish. The proud nation of impressive human potential and remarkable economic prospects has been torn to shreds.
Writing in the Baltimore Sun on 21 February, Ralph Masi, a professor at the University of Maryland, described an encounter with a key Iraq war architect, Richard Perle, who served as an assistant defence secretary and a chairman of the Defence Policy Board. Perle — a former adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu — was confronted by Masi during a talk at the Army War College Annual Strategy Conference on the day Saddam’s statue was toppled by American forces on 9 April. “I asked him, ‘What’s next?’” Masi wrote. Perle replied: “Iran or Syria — take your pick.”
The American war party, led by such infamous luminaries as Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle and others, may not have realised their vision for a new Middle East exactly as they had hoped. However, considering the sadistic war in Syria, a manifestation of that vision has finally prevailed. It really matters little what secrets and mysteries Cheney’s vault-like office contained, for the impact of his legacy is out there for the whole world to see.
© Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly

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How the US Public was Defrauded by the Hidden $ Cost of the Iraq War and Occupation

George Bush sold the war as quick and cheap; it was long and costly. Even now, the US is paying billions to private contractors
By Michael Boyle
March 11, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – “The Guardian” — When the US invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration estimated that it would cost $50-60bn to overthrow Saddam Hussein and establish a functioning government. This estimate was catastrophically wrong: the war in Iraq has cost $823.2bn between 2003 and 2011. Some estimates suggesting that it may eventually cost as much as $3.7tn when factoring in the long-term costs of caring for the wounded and the families of those killed.
The most striking fact about the cost of the war in Iraq has been the extent to which it has been kept “off the books” of the government’s ledgers and hidden from the American people. This was done by design. A fundamental assumption of the Bush administration’s approach to the war was that it was only politically sustainable if it was portrayed as near-costless to the American public and to key constituencies in Washington. The dirty little secret of the Iraq war – one that both Bush and the war hawks in the Democratic party knew, but would never admit – was that the American people would only support a war to get rid of Saddam Hussein if they could be assured that they would pay almost nothing for it.
The most obvious way in which the true cost of this war was kept hidden was with the use of supplemental appropriations to fund the occupation. By one estimate, 70% of the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008 were funded with supplemental or emergency appropriations approved outside the Pentagon’s annual budget. These appropriations allowed the Bush administration to shield the Pentagon’s budget from the cuts otherwise needed to finance the war, to keep the Pentagon’s pet programs intact and to escape the scrutiny that Congress gives to its normal annual regular appropriations.
With the Iraq war treated as an “off the books” expense, the Pentagon was allowed to keep spending on high-end military equipment and cutting-edge technology. In fiscal terms, it was as if the messy wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were never happening.
More fundamentally, the Bush administration masked the cost of the war with deficit spending to ensure that the American people would not face up to its costs while President Bush was in office. Despite their recent discovery of outrage over the national debt, the Republicans followed the advice of Vice-President Dick Cheney that “deficits don’t matter” and spent freely on domestic programs throughout the Bush years. The Bush administration encouraged the American people to keep spending and “enjoy life”, while the government paid for the occupation of Iraq on a credit card they hoped never to have to repay.
Most Americans were not asked to make any sacrifice for the Iraq war, while its real costs were confined to the 1% of the population who fought and died there. As a result, the average American was never forced to confront whether pouring money borrowed from China into the corrupt Iraqi security services was worth it, or whether it made more sense to rebuild infrastructure in Diyala, rather than, say, Philadelphia.
One consequence of the way that the true costs of the Iraq war was hidden from the American people was an explosion of fraud, waste and abuse. The recent final report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (Sigir) estimates that the US lost to corruption or waste at least $8bn of the $60bn devoted to reconstructing Iraq.
Much of the reconstruction expense had no useful political effect: as Spencer Ackerman has pointed out, Iraqi officials cannot point to a single completed project that the US managed during the course of the occupation. The hundreds of ill thought-out projects and half-baked ideas that marred the American reconstruction effort provides a powerful explanation for why the US campaign for “hearts and minds” never worked, and why Iraq is hardly a pro-American bastion in the Middle East today.
An occupation conducted through under-scrutinized emergency appropriations enabled dozens, if not hundreds, of private companies to act like pigs at the trough – wasting taxpayer dollars on frivolous expenses while the insurgency raged around them. These private companies were able to behave so rapaciously because they were so desperately needed by the US government to run the Iraq war without revealing its true cost to the American public.
Another factor that was kept hidden from the American public was the skyrocketing costs of deploying US troops abroad. According to a Congressional Research Service estimate (pdf), the average annual operational cost per US soldier in Iraq was $462,000 between 2005 and 2009. To control costs and avoid imposing a draft, the US resorted to a parallel army of private contractors, numbering 100,000 people or more at the height of the war.
Yet, this policy backfired, as private contractors cost nearly as much and wasted millions – by one estimate, losing $12m a day between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only advantage they had was that they allowed the American people to be lulled into thinking that the Iraq war had cost them nothing.
The extent to which the US hid the costs of the war by relying on private contractors has left a disastrous legacy within Iraq itself. Many of these contractors behaved recklessly; sometimes, they even shot at crowds when they felt trapped or threatened. Thus private military contracting help to turn the population even more against the US and the occupation.
Even after the US withdrawal, Iraq has had to contend with dozens of private security companies, many still under US contract, running operations in contravention of Iraqi law. An estimate in February 2012 revealed there were 109 separate private security companies, with 36,000 men under arms, still operating in Iraq months after the American army had gone home. While US attention has drifted from Iraq, the costs of this reckless war are still being incurred. The American embassy in Baghdad remains a heavily-armed fortress: a relic of the imperial ambitions that the US had in that country.
Through 2012, the US is projected to have spent $17.7bn (pdf) on police training and civilian reconstruction projects in Iraq. This at a time when hundreds of states and towns across the US face harsh budget cuts in essential services and care for their poor and sick.
The Iraq war provides many lessons, but among the most important is that the promise of a cheap and easy war never turns out to be true. The Bush administration sold the American people a bill of goods with Iraq, offering them a short and glorious war while secretly running up a tab that future generations will be left with. Along with Afghanistan, the war in Iraq added $1.4tn to the national debt.
The dishonesty of this approach is due to a fundamental fact about the United States: that while its leaders may have grand international ambitions, most Americans have no appetite for, or interest in, nation-building abroad. This mismatch between our leaders and ourselves means that our politicians will lie to us about running their wars on the cheap while finding ways to pass on the costs to those not yet born. That lesson should be remembered by any American who sees a future president promise, as George Bush did, that such embarking on such a conflict today will “lift a terrible threat from the lives of our children and grandchildren”.

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Britain’s role in shaping Iraq

By Patrick Cockburn
3 February, 2003 – BBC — What to do about Iraq is hardly a new question for the UK. For it was Britain that drew the map of Iraq, and it has never ceased to play a significant role there.
In the tumbledown city of Kut south of Baghdad, a half-flooded cemetery is one of the few memorials to British control of Iraq. The tops of gravestones stick out of the slimy green water which obscures the names of some of the 40,000 British soldiers who died in Iraq in World War I.
British rule over the three provinces which became present-day Iraq was never happy. It started in 1915 when a small British army tried to capture Baghdad from the Turkish army, but was driven back and forced to surrender at Kut after a long siege.
Lawrence of Arabia urged a gas attack against Iraq
When a much-reinforced British Army finally defeated the Turks, the UK was immediately faced with some of the problems still facing anybody seeking to rule Iraq today.
Captain Arnold Wilson, the British civil commissioner in newly captured Baghdad, believed that the creation of the new state was a recipe for disaster.
He warned that the deep differences between the three main communities – Sunni, Shia and Kurds – ensured it could only be “the antithesis of democratic government”. This was because the Shia majority rejected domination by the Sunni minority, but “no form of government has been envisaged which does not involve Sunni domination”.
Rebellion against British rule broke out in July 1920. The causes were diverse. Arab nationalists wanted independence. Officials who worked for the Turks were marginalised. The Shia clergy disliked the new authorities because they were Christian. The tribesmen were resentful that the British were more effective than the Turks in collecting taxes.
Civilian targets
The centre of the revolt was the middle Euphrates. By the time British rule was restored in 1921, some 2,000 British soldiers and 8,000 Iraqis had been killed or wounded.
Within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be practically wiped out
Arthur “Bomber” Harris
In the wake of the rebellion, the UK tried to rule Iraq cheaply and at one remove.
Faisal I, a member of the powerful Hashemite family from Mecca, was appointed king, but was always dependent on British support. He and his descendents never succeeded in establishing their nationalist credentials in Iraqi eyes.
The British also wanted to reduce the cost of ruling Iraq by relying on air power rather than expensive ground troops. It was a testing ground for the Royal Air Force.
Arthur “Bomber” Harris, who was to lead the bomber offensive against Germany 20 years later, did not conceal the fact that he aimed at civilian targets.
Harris said in 1924 that he had taught Iraqis “that within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or wounded”.
Some other British leaders were equally blood-thirsty. After the revolt of 1920, TE Lawrence – Lawrence of Arabia – wrote to the London Observer to say: “It is odd that we do not use poison gas on these occasions.”
Loosened ties
Iraq became formally independent in 1932, but British influence, though diminishing, remained important.
I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes
Winston Churchill
Iraq: From Sumer to Sudan, by Geoff Simons
In 1941 Rashid Ali, a former Ottoman officer, became prime minister, backed by four army colonels.
Encouraged by Hitler’s victories in Europe, the new government sought to whittle away at British imperial control. Britain sent troops from Jordan and India. Despite the rebels’ hopes, German support never came and Iraqi troops were defeated after a month’s fighting.
After World War II, the alliance with Britain carried increasing dangers for the Hashemite government as the influence of Arab nationalism increased throughout the Middle East.
The last two airbases controlled by Britain were handed back to Iraq in 1955. But three years later, the last British influence was removed when a military coup overthrew the Hashemite dynasty.
In the subsequent power struggles, Saddam Hussein worked his way up through the ranks – a rise supported by the West, anxious to preserve its influence in the region.
Patrick Cockburn is the author, with Andrew Cockburn, of Saddam Hussein: An American Obsession, published in September 2002.

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Highway of Death: 22 Years Later (What We’re Up Against)

Mickey Z
Persons taking no active part in hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
– Common Article 3 to the four 1949 Geneva Conventions of 1949 (excerpt)
High above a swamp, over 60 miles of coastal Highway 8 from Kuwait to Iraq, a division of the Iraq’s Republican Guard withdrew on Feb. 26-27, 1991.
Baghdad radio had just announced Iraq’s acceptance of a cease-fire proposal and, in compliance with UN Resolution 660, retreating Iraqi troops were ordered to withdraw to positions held before Aug. 2, 1990.
Nonetheless, President George H.W. Bush derisively called the announcement “an outrage” and “a cruel hoax.”
The Home of the Brave™, it seems, wasn’t quite ready to stop the massacre…
February 20, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Highway of Death
“U.S. planes trapped the long convoys by disabling vehicles in the front, and at the rear, and then pounded the resulting traffic jams for hours,” says Joyce Chediac, a Lebanese-American journalist.
“It was like shooting fish in a barrel,” one U.S. pilot said.
Randall Richard of the Providence Journal filed this dispatch from the deck of the U.S.S. Ranger: “Air strikes against Iraqi troops retreating from Kuwait were being launched so feverishly from this carrier today that pilots said they took whatever bombs happened to be closest to the flight deck. The crews, working to the strains of the Lone Ranger theme, often passed up the projectile of choice… because it took too long to load.”
“When you see the battlefield littered with dead bodies as far as you can see and there’s smoke swirling around, and the smell of the dead bodies, the ammunition, the fuel, the explosions; it’s very overpowering,” said Paul Sullivan, a combat veteran from Operation Desert Storm who went on to create the National Gulf War Resource Center. Sullivan later described the so-called “Highway of Death” as “miles and miles and miles of charred trucks, tanks, blown up buildings, pieces of arms, pieces of legs every which way.”
“Many of those massacred fleeing Kuwait were not Iraqi soldiers at all,” adds U.S. Attorney General-turned-peace activist, Ramsey Clark, “but Palestinians, Sudanese, Egyptians, and other foreign workers.”
We interrupt this flashback with a little context
By now, we should all know the drill: The U.S. military is sent off amidst lies and propaganda to rain death and destruction upon a foreign land. Atrocities abound but go unmentioned until a set of “allegations” are simply too obvious to disregard. Shortly thereafter, high-ranking officials issue assurances that our (sic) troops are the good guys and that any criminal behavior is the exception, not the rule.
For example, in 2006, during the minor scandal caused by the atrocities at an Iraqi town called Haditha, then Secretary of Defense (sic)Donald Rumsfeld gave the following public assurance: “We know that 99.9 percent of our forces conduct themselves in an exemplary manner. We also know that in conflicts things that shouldn’t happen do happen.”
One needn’t be a math major to recognize that even a passing knowledge of American military history would produce enough war crimes and atrocities to surpass Rumseld’s 0.1% solution… but, in classic corporate style, perhaps we should outsource such inventory work.
We could hire residents of Southeast Asia to tell us what percentage of U.S. troops commit atrocities. Even better, let’s really go multi-culti and include some Koreans, Iraqis, Afghanis, Somalis, Filipinos, Japanese, and Panamanians (to name but a few options).
That might raise Rumseld’s ratio a wee bit, huh?
However, for the sake of broadening the scope here, let’s assume that Rummy got it right. Let’s take him at face value that 99.9 percent of American military personnel “conduct themselves in an exemplary manner.”
This begs the question: If only one-tenth of one percent “make things happen that shouldn’t happen,” what is everyone else doing to get us standing and singing “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch at Yankee Stadium?
How exactly does the home of the brave define “exemplary manner”?
By Rumfeld’s reckoning (and the standard company line of most every politician, pundit, and peon) “exemplary” includes the use of Daisy Cutters, cluster bombs, and predator drones. One-tenth of one percent bad apples slaughter non-combatants without orders… but the other 99.9% are the heroesdeploying depleted uranium, napalm, and white phosphorus.
“Exemplary” warriors launch cruise missiles into crowded cities, blow up dams to deliberately flood rice paddies and starve civilians, and destroy villages in order to save them.
“Exemplary” heroes volunteer to be paid as part of the most violent and environmentally toxic institution on the planet: the U.S. Department of Defense (sic).
We now return to my regularly scheduled history lesson…
“No survivors are known or likely”
“Every vehicle was strafed or bombed, every windshield is shattered, every tank is burned, every truck is riddled with shell fragments,” Chediac reported after visiting the “Highway of Death” scene in 1991. “No survivors are known or likely. The cabs of trucks were bombed so much that they were pushed into the ground, and it’s impossible to see if they contain drivers or not. Windshields were melted away, and huge tanks were reduced to shrapnel.”
“At one spot,” Bob Drogin reported in the Los Angeles Times, “snarling wild dogs had reduced two corpses to bare ribs. Giant carrion birds picked at another; only a bootclad foot and eyeless skull are recognizable.”
“Even in Vietnam I didn’t see anything like this. It’s pathetic,” said Army intelligence officer and eyewitness, Major Bob Nugent.
Reality Check: When you’re talking about America, it’s not pathetic… it’s policy.
Never forget, comrades: This is what we’re up against.
Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green.Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook.
This article was originally posted at World News Trust

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Iraq at the Brink: A Decade after the Invasion

By Ramzy Baroud
February 15, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Soon after the joint US-British bombing campaign ‘Operation Desert Fox’ devastated parts of Iraq in Dec 1998, I was complaining to a friend in the lobby of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad.
I was disappointed with the fact that our busy schedule in Iraq – mostly visiting hospitals packed with injured or Depleted Uranium Victims – left me no time to purchase a few Arabic books for my little daughter back in the states. As I got ready to embark on the long bus journey back to Jordan, an Iraqi man with a thick moustache and a carefully designed beard approached me. “This is for your daughter,” he said with a smile as he handed me a plastic bag. The bag included over a dozen books with colorful images of traditional Iraqi children stories. I had never met that man before, nor did we ever meet again. He was a guest at the hotel and somehow he learned of my dilemma. As I profusely, but hurriedly thanked him before taking my seat on the bus, he insisted that no such words were needed. “We are brothers and your daughter is like my own,” he said.
I was not exactly surprised by this. Generosity of action and spirit is a distinct Iraqi characteristic and Arabs know that too well. Other Iraqi qualities include pride and perseverance, the former attributed to the fact that Mesopotamia – encompassing most of modern day Iraq – is the ‘cradle of civilization’ and later due to the untold hardship experienced by Iraqis in their modern history.
It was Britain that triggered Iraq’s modern tragedy, starting with its seizure of Baghdad in 1917 and the haphazard reshaping of a country to perfectly fit the colonial needs and economic interests of London. One could argue that the early and unequalled mess created by the British invaders continued to wreak havoc, manifesting itself in various ways – spanning sectarianism, political violence and border feuds between Iraq and its neighbors – until this very day.
But of course, the US now deserves most of the credit of reversing whatever has been achieved by the Iraqi people to acquire their ever-elusive sovereignty. It was US Secretary of State James Baker, who reportedly threatened Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz in a Geneva meeting in 1991 by saying that the US would destroy Iraq and “bring it back to the stone age.” The US war which extended from 1990 to 2011, included a devastating blockade and ended with a brutal invasion. These wars were as unscrupulous as they were violent. Aside from their overwhelming human toll, they were placed within a horrid political strategy aimed at exploiting the country’s existing sectarian and other fault lines therefore triggering civil wars and sectarian hatred from which Iraq is unlikely to cover for many years.
For the Americans, it was a mere strategy aimed at lessening the pressure placed on its and other ally soldiers as they faced stiff resistance the moment they stepped foot in Iraq. For the Iraqis however, it was a petrifying nightmare that can neither be expressed by words or numbers. But numbers are of course barely lacking. According to UN estimations cited by the BBC, between May and June 2006 “an average of more than 100 civilians per day (were) killed in violence in Iraq.” The UN reserved estimates also placed the death toll of civilians during 2006 at 34,000. That was the year that the US strategy of divide and conquer proved most successful.
Over the years, most people outside Iraq – as in other conflicts where protracted violence yields regular death counts – simply became desensitized to the death toll. It is as if the more people die, the less worthy their lives become.
The fact remains, however that the US and Britain had jointly destroyed modern Iraq and no amount of remorse or apology – not that any was offered to begin with – will alter this fact. Iraq’s former colonial masters and its new ones lacked any legal or moral ground for invading the sanctions-devastated country. They also lacked any sense of mercy as they destroyed a generation and set the stage for a future conflict that promises to be as bloody as the past.
When the last US combat brigade had reportedly left Iraq in Dec 2011, this was meant to be an end of an era. Historians know well that conflicts don’t end with a presidential decree or troop deployments. Iraq merely entered a new phase of conflict and the US, Britain and others, remain integral parties of that conflict.
One post-invasion and war reality is that Iraq was divided into areas of influence based on purely sectarian and ethnic lines. In western media’s classification of winners and losers, Sunnis, blamed for being favored by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, emerged as the biggest loser. While Iraq’s new political elites were divided between Shi’ite and Kurdish politicians (each party with its own private army, some gathered in Baghdad and others in the autonomous Kurdistan region), the Shi’ite population was held by various militant groups responsible for Sunni unfortunates. On Feb 8, five car bombs blew up in what was quickly recognized as “Shi’ite areas”, killing 34 people. A few days earlier, on Feb 4, 22 people were also killed in a similar fashion.
The sectarian strife in Iraq which is responsible for the death of tens of thousands, is making a comeback. Iraqi Sunnis, including major tribes and political parties are demanding equality and the end of their disfranchisement in the relatively new, skewed Iraqi political system under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Massive protests and ongoing strikes have been organized with a unified and clear political message. However, numerous other parties are exploiting the polarization in every way imaginable: to settle old scores, to push the country back to the brink of civil war, to amplify the mayhem underway in various Arab countries, most notably Syria, and in some instances to adjust sectarian boundaries in ways that could create good business opportunities.
Yes, sectarian division and business in today’s Iraq go hand in hand. Reuters reported that Exxon Mobil hired Jeffrey James, a former US ambassador to Iraq (from 2010-12) as a ‘consultant.’ Sure, it is an example of how post-war diplomacy and business are natural allies, but there is more to the story. Taking advantage of the autonomy of the Kurdistan region, the giant multinational oil and gas corporation had struck lucrative deals that are independent from the central government in Baghdad. The latter has been amassing its troops near the disputed oil-rich region starting late last year. The Kurdish government has done the same. Unable to determine which party has the upper hand in the brewing conflict, thus future control over oil resources, Exxon Mobile is torn: to honor its contracts with the Kurds, or to seek perhaps more lucrative contracts in the south. James might have good ideas, especially when he uses his political leverage acquired during his term as US ambassador.
The future of Iraq is currently being determined by various forces and almost none of them are composed of Iraqi nationals with a uniting vision. Caught between bitter sectarianism, extremism, the power-hungry, wealth amassing elites, regional power players, western interests and a very violent war legacy, the Iraqi people are suffering beyond the ability of sheer political analyses or statistics to capture their anguish. The proud nation of impressive human potential and remarkable economic prospects has been torn to shreds.
UK-based Iraqi writer Hussein Al-alak wrote on the upcoming tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion with a tribute to the country’s ‘silent victims,’ the children. According to Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, he reported, there is an estimated 4.5 million children who are now orphans, with a “shocking 70 percent” of them having lost their parents since the 2003 invasion.
“From that total number, around 600,000 children are living on the streets, without either shelter or food to survive,” Al-alak wrote. Those living in the few state-run orphanages “are currently lacking in their most essential needs.”
I still think of the kindly Iraqi man who gifted my daughter a collection of Iraqi stories. I also think of his children. One of the books he purchased was of Sindbad, presented in the book as a brave, handsome child who loved adventure as much as he loved his country. No matter how cruel his fate had been, Sinbad always returned to Iraq and began anew, as if nothing had ever happened.
– Ramzy Baroud ( is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of His latest book is: My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press).

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U.S.-U.K. Genocide Against Iraq 1990-2012 Killed 3.3 Millions

By Sherwood Ross
December 05, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – Approximately 3.3 million Iraqis, including 750,000 children, were “exterminated” by economic sanctions and/or illegal wars conducted by the U.S. and Great Britain between 1990 and 2012, an eminent international legal authority says.
The slaughter fits the classic definition of Genocide Convention Article II of, “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,” says Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Champaign, and who in 1991 filed a class-action complaint with the UN against President George H.W. Bush.
The U.S. and U.K. “obstinately insisted” that their sanctions remain in place until after the “illegal” Gulf War II aggression perpetrated by President George W. Bush and UK’s Tony Blair in March, 2003, “not with a view to easing the over decade-long suffering of the Iraqi people and children” but “to better facilitate the U.S./U.K. unsupervised looting and plundering of the Iraqi economy and oil fields in violation of the international laws of war as well as to the grave detriment of the Iraqi people,” Boyle said.
In an address last Nov. 22 to The International Conference on War-affected Children in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Boyle tallied the death toll on Iraq by U.S.-U.K. actions as follows:
# The slaughter of 200,000 Iraqis by President Bush in his illegal 1991 Gulf War I.
# The deaths of 1.4 million Iraqis as a result of the illegal 2003 war of aggression ordered by President Bush Jr. and Prime Minister Blair.
# The deaths of 1.7 million Iraqis “as a direct result” of the genocidal sanctions.
Boyle’s class-action complaint demanded an end to all economic sanctions against Iraq; criminal proceedings for genocide against President George H.W. Bush; monetary compensation to the children of Iraq and their families for deaths, physical and mental injury; and for shipping massive humanitarian relief supplies to that country.
The “grossly hypocritical” UN refused to terminate the sanctions, Boyle pointed out, even though its own Food and Agricultural Organization’s Report estimated that by 1995 the sanctions had killed 560,000 Iraqi children during the previous five years.
Boyle noted that then U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright was interviewed on CBS-TV on May 12, 1996, in response to a question by Leslie Stahl if the price of half a million dead children was worth it, and replied, “we (the U.S. government) think the price is worth it.”
Albright’s shocking response provides “proof positive of the genocidal intent by the U.S. government against Iraq” under the Genocide Convention, Boyle said, adding that the government of Iraq today could still bring legal action against the U.S. and the U.K. in the International Court of Justice. He said the U.S.-U.K. genocide also violated the municipal legal systems of all civilized nations in the world; the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and its Additional Protocol 1 of 1977.
Boyle, who was stirred to take action pro bono by Mothers in Iraq after the economic sanctions had been imposed upon them by the Security Council in August, 1990, in response to pressure from the Bush Senior Administration. He is the author of numerous books on international affairs, including ” Destroying World Order” (Clarity Press.) #
Sherwood Ross is a columnist, broadcast commentator and public relations consultant “for good causes.” He formerly reported for major dailies and wire services and is the author of ” Gruening of Alaska “(Best).
This article was originally posted at OpEdNews

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Crimes against Humanity: Iraq’s Mass Graves

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Global Research

*US Occupation authorities: guilty. They created, trained and armed the National Police and controlled the Ministry of Interior, responsible for death squad policies.
* Maliki government: guilty. They acted as local US stooges. They carried out the US counterinsurgency strategy, protected the kidnappers and prevented an investigation.
* UN Human Rights Bodies: guilty by negligence. They refused to nominate a special Human Rights rapporteur for Iraq. They refused toinvestigate thiscrime against humanity.
On 22 October 2012, Shafaq, an Iraqi News Agency, reports: “An official security source revealed on Monday that a mass grave was found in Sada area on the outskirts of Sadr City, belonging to the staff of the Department of missions of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research who disappeared in 2006.”
“A security force found 16 bodies buried in a mass grave in Sadr City in Baghdad belonging according to the confessions of one of the detainees of the staff members of the Department of Missions of the Ministry of Higher Education. The available intelligence reports that the bodies belong to employees of the Department of Missions who were abducted in 2006 and buried in a mass grave. The competent authorities are conducting DNA tests on the bodies to make sure of their identities and inform their families”.
Summary of Events
On Tuesday 14 November 2006 paramilitary gunmen in the uniforms of Iraqi National Police commandos raided a building belonging to the Ministry of Education in Baghdad’s Karrada district and arrested around 100 members of staff from two departments and around 50 visitors, according to lists compiled by the Minister of Education.
The raid took place in broad daylight, 1km from the Green Zone, in an area that contained several high-security compounds, including the department where passports are issued. According to a BBC correspondent the Karrada area, occupying an isthmus in the River Tigris, is ‘well protected with a heavy presence of Iraqi troops and several checkpoints’. The paramilitary force estimated at between at least 50 and 100 arrived in a fleet of some 20-30 camouflage pickup trucks of the kind employed by the Interior Ministry and rapidly established a cordon of the area. They stated that they were from an anti-corruption unit and were carrying out arrests ahead of a visit by the US ambassador. The paramilitaries made their arrests according to lists, confirming the identities of those present by their ID cards, then handcuffed and blindfolded the detainees and put them into the backs of pickups and into two larger vehicles.
The paramilitaries then made their exit through heavy traffic without opposition, despite the reported presence of a regular police vehicle. According to some witnesses, the paramilitaries made off in the direction of Sadr City.
The Iraqi government quickly declared that the number of detainees was far lower (18 guards, 16 members of staff and five visitors) and by Wednesday claimed that all of the detainees had been released after a series of dramatic police raids. A number of senior policemen, including the district police chief and the commander of a National Police paramilitary commando brigade and three other officers were reportedly detained for questioning over possible complicity. According to one report, an Interior Ministry spokesman claimed the senior police commanders ‘should be held responsible’.
Prime Minister Maliki declared that this was not a case of terrorism, but a dispute between ‘militias’.
The Education Ministry insisted that both Sunnis and Shiites were among those illegally detained.
US commanders stated that they would support all efforts to free the detainees.
By Thursday the Education Minister stated that around 70 of 150 detainees had been released and reported that some of those released had been tortured (some legs and hands had been broken) and that there were allegations that others had been killed.
On Friday 17 November MowaffakRubiae, the National Security Advisor, stated that all of the detainees had been released, although an Interior Ministry spokesmen claimed that all of the Education Ministry personnel had been released but some of the visitors detained were still missing.
One of the detainees, who refused to reveal his actual name, said that his arm had been broken while in detention. He also described seeing three security guards suffocated to death and hearing a number of senior academics who had been put in a separate screaming in agony; according to the witness their cries were cut off abruptly.
The witness also said that he had not been released as the result of a dramatic police raid. His captors had simply dragged him and others from the building where they were held, put them back into trucks and dumped them at various locations around Baghdad. His account is confirmed by earlier reports, which stated that those released had been blindfolded and deposited in various parts of Baghdad.
Five more detainees were reportedly released on Friday. They had been tortured.
On Saturday 18 November the Education Ministry continued to insist that 66 people were still missing.
The Interior Ministry spokesman said that all of the detainees had been released and the matter was now closed.
Joint US and Iraqi forces conducted a raid on a mosque in Sadr City on Saturday. None of the detainees were found.
On Sunday 19 November a further four detainees were released, who reported seeing one Ministry official, Hamid al-Jouani, killed.
On Monday 20 November joint US and Iraqi forces conducted another raid in Sadr City. None of the detainees were found.
The BRussells Tribunal issued a statement on 22 November 2006: “Action Needed Over Detention of Iraqi Education Ministry Officials. Unknown numbers murdered, dozen still illegally held”
The BRussells Tribunal requested clear answers from the occupation forces and Iraqi authorities and formulated relevant questions:
Unanswered Questions
From the above description of events drawn from mainstream media sources (please see references at end) making use of government statements and eyewitness testimony it is clear that the raid on the Interior Ministry was carried out as a complex military operation requiring detailed intelligence, careful preparation and extensive training. In fact, everything about this raid conforms with what we should expect of an operation conducted by Iraq’s new US-trained, armed and supported specialist counterinsurgency paramilitary National Police commandos, who are specifically trained to conduct cordon and search operations of this kind.
It is impossible to believe that any forces but officially sanctioned ones could have made such a daring daylight assault in one of the most secure areas of Baghdad. It is equally impossible to believe that any forces but Interior Ministry ones could have assembled a fleet of Interior Ministry camouflage pickup trucks. The designation of the paramilitaries responsible for this outrage as Interior Ministry commandos is fully confirmed by eyewitness testimony, which specifies that at least some of the raiders were wearing blue camouflage uniforms of a type very recently introduced to National Police commandos, specifically intended to prevent any other parties from masquerading as National Police commandos. The digitally designed uniforms are supplied by the US. A US Army spokesman was so convinced that the uniforms would have been impossible to replicate that he stated that the raiders could not have been wearing such uniforms. Of course, he was not at the scene. Eyewitnesses contradict him.
The fact that the raid was conducted by Interior Ministry forces was in fact confirmed by Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, who claimed the mass detention was the work of militiamen who had infiltrated the Interior Ministry.
Since it is almost certain that the raid was carried out by National Police commandos, it is imperative that the following questions are answered immediately and publicly.
Which National Police or other Interior Ministry force carried out the raid?
Under whose authority was the raid authorised?
From whom did the Interior Ministry force obtain the lists of names that were used to select individuals for arrest?
Where were the international advisers (Special Police Transition Teams) that are embedded with each battalion of National Police Commandos and work with them on a daily basis?
Where did the police commandos take the detainees?
Why were aerial surveillance assets not immediately deployed to follow a fleet of pickup trucks through heavy traffic in Baghdad? How many such aerial assets were operating over the Green Zone and other parts of Baghdad at that time?
Who operates the facility where the detainees were held?
If detainees were freed as a result of police raids, why have no large scale arrests been made and why has the only detainee to speak on record stated that no such police raid occurred?
What are the names of the individual police officers who have been held for questioning?
Have they been charged and if so what have they been charged with?
Why is the Interior Ministry insisting that the case in now closed, when the Education Minister has provided a list of the name of further detainees and the subsequent release of additional detainees demonstrates that he is wrong.
Why is the Interior Ministry insisting that none of the detainees were killed when eyewitnesses reported seeing people brutally murdered in front of them?
How is it that paramilitary/militia death squads can operate from the Interior Ministry, making full use of US-supplied government equipment, without the knowledge of embedded international training teams and advisors within the Interior Ministry?
It is absolutely clear that neither in this case nor in any of the multitude of other equally harrowing cases that show Interior Ministry involvement with extrajudicial killing can the Iraqi government be trusted with carrying any sort of investigation. In the case of the Jadiriyah torture facility discovered in November 2005, the government has still to make public findings that were promised within weeks. It should also be noted that at that time, US officials promised to increase their efforts to oversee Iraqi detention facilities and police commando units, stating that they would double the number of embedded trainers. Since that promise, extrajudicial killings at the hands of Interior Ministry forces, mostly inside detention facilities, appears to have grown exponentially.
It is equally clear that US authorities in Iraq have no interest in carrying out an investigation or restraining the killers.
It is therefore imperative for teams of international investigators to take on the task with the full cooperation of British and American forces. Manfred Novak, the UN rapporteur for torture has indicated his willingness to undertake such a mission. Such a mission must be immediately supported by all those who honestly claim to seek to halt the genocidal violence in Iraq; those who will not support such a mission must be considered accomplices to crimes against humanity.
Nothing happened. Now they’re dead.
As usual nothing has been done,nor by the occupation authorities, nor by the UN official Human RightsBodies.And certainly not by the Iraqi authorities.
On 27 April 2011 the Iraqi government has set up a committee to trace thousands of Iraqis missing since the 2003 US-led invasion, said an official.The government committee includes representatives from the ministries of defence (Islamic Dawa Party), interior (Islamic Dawa Party), national security (Islamic Dawa Party), health(Al Sadr bloc), justice (Islamic Virtue Party) and human rights (Islamic Dawa Party), in addition to intelligence services and anti-terrorism forces.
Many of those Ministries were involved or are leading the very militias that have been suspected of carrying out most of the ferocious crimes of extrajudicial assassination, inciting sectarianviolence, torture and enforced disappearance, in conjunction with the occupying forces. So how can one expect this committee to investigate the very crimes that their militias are responsible for?
Human Rights Council: it’s time to ACT
So now we finally know part of the terrible truth. Will the Human Right Council finally wake up and start to investigate the thousands upon thousands of war crimes, committed by the Anglo-American occupation forces and their local Iraqi stooges? Will the ICC finally do what it is created for: persecute war criminals? Investigate the US genocide in Iraq? Please? After more than one million deaths, and millions of refugees?
2013: the commemoration of 10 years of US occupation. It would be only fair if this and other clear cases of crimes against humanity would be put on the agenda of International Human Rights bodies. It would be only fair if the full truth of this dirty counterinsurgency war is finally revealed.
2013: the year of “Accountability and Restoring Justice For Iraq”. DO something !
Dirk Adriaensens is coordinator of SOS Iraq and member of the executive committee of the BRussells Tribunal. Between 1992 and 2003 he led several delegations to Iraq to observe the devastating effects of UN imposed sanctions. He was a member of the International Organizing Committee of the World Tribunal on Iraq (2003-2005). He is also co-coordinator of the Global Campaign Against the Assassination of Iraqi Academics. He is co-author of Rendez-Vous in Baghdad, EPO (1994), Cultural Cleansing in Iraq, Pluto Press, London (2010), Beyond Educide, Academia Press, Ghent (2012), and is a frequent contributor to GlobalResearch, Truthout, The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies and other media.

Five police chiefs arrested after mass kidnapping
Fate of Iraq Education Ministry abductees remains unclear
Desperate search after mass-kidnapping of Sunnis ends with hostages found alive
Iraq hostages ‘freed by police’
Iraq: Kidnapped People Have Been Freed
Iraq minister says some hostages tortured, killed
Iraq ministry hostages ‘tortured
Arrest of Sunni Leader Sought in Iraq
US warns Iraq against sectarianism
Coalition Forces Conduct Raid in Iraq
Bloodshed piles pressure on Iraq govt
Iraq police rebrand to foil fakes
New uniforms to tackle Iraq killings
Iraq: Fresh effort to trace missing persons
Iraq: UN calls for immediate action to free kidnapped education ministry workers
Mass Grave found in Sadr city
Copyright © 2012 Global Research

Fallujah – The Hidden Massacre

Veteran admits: Bodies melted away before us.

Shocking revelation RAI News 24.

This video contains images that depict the reality and horror of war.
It should only be viewed by a mature audience
November 15, 2005
In case you missed it:
Mr Ingram admitted to the Labour MP Harry Cohen in a private letter obtained by The Independent that he had inadvertently misled Parliament because he had been misinformed by the US. “The US confirmed to my officials that they had not used MK77s in Iraq at any time and this was the basis of my response to you,” he told Mr Cohen. “I regret to say that I have since discovered that this is not the case and must now correct the position.”

In case you missed it:
Two weeks ago the UK Independent ran an article which confirmed that the US had “lied to Britain over the use of napalm in Iraq”. (06-17-05) Since then, not one American newspaper or TV station has picked up the story even though the Pentagon has verified the claims.

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Iraq: Ten Years, a Million Lives and Trillions of Dollars Later

By Dennis Kucinich 
October 02, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – Ten years ago today the debate over the Iraq War came to Congress in the form of a resolution promoted by the Bush Administration. The war in Iraq will cost the United States as much as $5 trillion. It played a role in spurring the global financial crisis. Four thousand, four hundred, eighty eight Americans were killed. More than 33,000 were injured.
As many as 1,000,000 innocent Iraqi civilians were killed. The monetary cost of the war to Iraq is incalculable. A sectarian civil war has ravaged Iraq for nearly a decade. Iraq has become home to Al Qaeda.
The war in Iraq was sold to Congress and the American people with easily disproved lies. We must learn from this dark period in American history to ensure that we do not repeat the same mistakes. And we must hold accountable those who misled the American public.
On October 2, 2002, the day the legislation to authorize war in Iraq was introduced, I sent and personally distributed a memo to my colleagues in Congress refuting point-by-point every reason given by the Bush Administration to go to war.
On October 3, 2002, I held a press conference with 25 Members of Congress and then presented an hour long explanation to Congress on the House Floor, refuting the lies upon which the cause of war was predicated.
It was clear from information publicly available at the time that Iraq did not have Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), that Iraq had no connection to 9/11, and that Iraq was not a threat to the United States. Anyone who wanted to look could have seen the same information that I did.
Yet some of America’s top political leaders bought into the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld drumbeat of war. Two leading Democrats were among those taken in by the White House hype and the WMD argument:
“I believe the facts that have brought us to this fateful vote are not in doubt. Saddam Hussein is a tyrant who has tortured and killed his own people … [I]ntelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists including Al Qaeda members.” Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), October 10, 2002.
“September 11 was the ultimate wake-up call. We must now do everything in our power to prevent further terrorist attacks and ensure that an attack with a weapon of mass destruction cannot happen. … the first candidate we must worry about is Iraq… [Saddam Hussein] continues to develop weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear devices.” Leader of the Democratic Caucus in the House, Richard Gephardt (D-MO), October 10, 2002.
Even the most trusted newspapers around the country blindly repeated as fact grossly incorrect assertions by leaders of both parties.
“No further debate is needed to establish that Saddam Hussein is an evil dictator whose continued effort to build unconventional weapons in defiance of clear United Nations prohibitions threatens the Middle East and beyond.” The New York Times, Editorial Board, October 3, 2002.
Notwithstanding the blizzard of disinformation, one hundred thirty three Members of Congress voted against the resolution that authorized the use of military force in Iraq, including nearly two-thirds of the Democratic Caucus in the House. Seven Republicans, including Ron Paul (R-TX), also voted against the resolution. In the Senate, the vote was 77 to 23 in favor of a war of choice.
Ten years ago Congress voted to wage war on a nation that did not attack us. That decision undermined our fiscal and national security. To this day we are suffering from the blowback. While most of the troops are home, the United States maintains a significant presence in Iraq through the State Department and its thousands of private security contractors.
The war against Iraq was based on lies. Thousands of Americans and perhaps a million Iraqis were sacrificed for those lies. The war in Afghanistan continues. New wars have been propagated in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia pursuant to the never-ending “War on Terror”. This mindset puts us at the edge of war against Iran. Ten years and trillions of dollars later, the American people by and large still do not know the truth. It is time to usher in a new period of truth and reconciliation.
Dennis Kucinich is US Congressman from Ohio
© 2012 Congressman Dennis Kucinich

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US Special Forces Deployed in Iraq, Again

By Tom Hayden 
September 26, 2012 “The Nation” — Despite the official US military withdrawal last December, American special forces “recently” returned to Iraq on a counter-terrorism mission, according to an American general in charge of weapons sales there. The mission was reported by the New York Times, in the fifteenth paragraph of a story about deepening sectarian divides.
The irony is that the US is protecting a pro-Iran Shiite regime in Baghdad against a Sunni-based insurgency while at the same time supporting a Sunni-led movement against the Iran-backed dictatorship in Syria. The Sunni rebellions are occurring in the vast Sunni region between northwestern Iraq and southern Syria where borders are porous.
During the Iraq War, many Iraqi insurgents from Anbar and Diyala provinces took sanctuary in Sunni areas of Syria. Now they are turning their weapons on two targets, the al-Malaki government in Baghdad and the Assad regime in Damascus.
The US is caught in the contradictions of proxy wars, favoring Iran’s ally in Iraq while trying to displace Iran’s proxy in Syria.
The lethal complication of the US Iraq policy is a military withdrawal that was propelled by political pressure from public opinion in the US even as the war could not be won on the battlefield. Military “redeployment”, as the scenario is described, is a general’s nightmare. In the case of Vietnam, a “decent interval” was supposedly arranged by the Nixon administration to create the appearance of an orderly American withdrawal. During the same “interval”, Nixon massively escalated his bombing campaign to no avail. Two years after the 1973 Paris peace accords, Saigon collapsed.
It is unlikely that the Maliki regime will fall to Sunni insurgents in Iraq, if only because the Sunni population is approximately twenty percent of the population. However, the return of US Special Forces is not likely to restore Iraqi stability, and they may become trapped in crossfire as the sectarian tensions deepen. The real lesson may be for Afghanistan, where another unwinnable, unaffordable war in support of an unpopular regime is stumbling towards 2014.

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CIA Lies About Lies The Iraq War and the Persistent Myth of ‘Intelligence Failure’

By Jeremy R. Hammond 

September 10, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – – The George Washington University National Security Archive recently published a newly released CIA document from January 2006 titled “Misreading Intentions: Iraq’s Reaction to Inspection Created Picture of Deception”. The document, the Archive notes, “blames ‘analyst liabilities’ such as neglecting to examine Iraq’s deceptive behavior ‘through an Iraqi prism,’ for the failure to correctly assess the country’s virtually non-existent WMD capabilities.” Foreign Policy magazine describes it as a “remarkable CIA mea culpa”. But nothing could be further from the truth. Far from acknowledging the CIA’s true role, the document does not present any kind of serious analysis, but only politicized statements rehashing well-worn official claims designed to further the myth that there was an “intelligence failure” leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March of 2003.
There was no such “intelligence failure”. On the contrary, there was an extremely successful disinformation campaign coordinated by the CIA in furtherance of the government’s policy of seeking regime change in Iraq. The language of the document itself reveals a persistent dishonesty. It speaks of “deepened suspicions” that Iraq “had ongoing WMD programs” and “suspicions that Iraq continued to hide WMD.” Needless to say, however, the Iraq war was not sold to the public on the grounds that government officials and intelligence agencies had “suspicions” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It was sold to the public with declarations that it was a known fact that Iraq had ongoing programs and stockpiles of WMD. The tacit acknowledgment that the actual evidence only supported “suspicions” that this was so by itself is proof of that the narrative of an “intelligence failure” is a fiction.
The report relies heavily upon the 1995 defection of Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamal (respectively spelled “Saddam Husayn” and “Husayn Kamil” in the document), arguing that the information he revealed bolstered suspicions that Iraq was concealing ongoing WMD programs and continued to possess stockpiles of WMD. It argues further that the regime’s behavior indicated he was hiding such weapons. Kamal, who returned to Iraq and was killed there in 1996, was the same individual Vice President Dick Cheney referred to in selling the administration’s case for war on August 26, 2002, when he said that “we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Among other sources, we’ve gotten this from the firsthand testimony of defectors—including Saddam’s own son-in-law, who was subsequently murdered at Saddam’s direction.” But the fact is that Cheney was lying, and the CIA’s persistent adherence to essentially the same false narrative renders ridiculous the suggestion that this document is some kind of “mea culpa”.
The document states, “Analysts interpreted Iraq’s intransigence and ongoing deceptive practices as indicators of continued WMD programs or an intent to preserve WMD capabilities, reinforcing intelligence we were receiving at the time that Saddam Husayn continued to pursue WMD.” Yet the examples it lists of Iraq’s “intransigence” and deception do notsupport the CIA’s earlier judgments that Iraq had ongoing programs and WMD stockpiles. “In April 1991, for example,” the document says, “Iraq declared that it had neither a nuclear weapons program nor an enrichment program. Inspections in June and September 1991 proved that Iraq had lied on both counts, had explored multiple enrichment paths, and had a well-developed nuclear weapons program.” This is true. However, the document makes no mention of the fact that it was public knowledge that Iraq’s nuclear program was subsequently completely dismantled. As former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammed ElBaradei, pointed out, the Agency had “destroyed, removed or rendered harmless all Iraqi facilities and equipment component of Iraq’s nuclear programme” by 1992. The IAEA reported in 1998 that it was “confident that we had not missed any significant component of Iraq’s nuclear programme”.
The document states that in “March 1992, Iraq decided to declare the unilateral destruction of certain prohibited items to the Security Council, while continuing to conceal its biological warfare (BW) program and important aspects of the nuclear, chemical, and missile programs”. As worded, this implies that Iraq in 1992 was continuing these programs. This is disingenuous, because in fact Iraq was at that time trying conceal past programs that it had ended following the 1991 Gulf War. Iraq did not continue these programs, but dismantled them and unilaterally destroyed its WMD in order to hide the fact that it had had such programs in the past. As the document acknowledges in its “Key Findings” section, “in 1991, Iraq secretly destroyed or dismantled most undeclared items and records”. Yet the very next paragraph contradictorily and disingenuously states, “We now judge that the 1995 defection of Saddam’s son-in-law Husayn Kamil—a critical figure in Iraq’s WMD and denial and deception (D&D) activities—promoted Iraq to change strategic direction and cease efforts to retain WMD programs.” This again implies that Iraq had ongoing WMD programs at least until 1995, which is false, as the CIA knew perfectly well at the time this report was written.
Even more importantly, that the programs had been dismantled and the weapons destroyed is in fact precisely what Hussein Kamal actually told U.N. inspectors when he defected in 1995. The newly released document in fact points out, “He said that Saddam destroyed all WMD in secret” in 1991. Yet apart from that single buried admission, the document is full of statements implying that weapons programs continued. For example, it states that “Iraqi officials did not admit to weaponized BW agent after the defection of Husayn Kamil”, but fails to clarify that this was an admission of past and notongoing activity. The document acknowledges that Kamal’s defection was “the key turning point in Iraq’s decision to cooperate more with inspections”, but then adds that his debriefing with U.N. inspectors “strengthened the West’s perception of Iraq as a successful and efficient deceiver.” Following Kamal’s defection, the document states, “the West”, meaning the U.S., judged that Iraq “was determined to retain WMD capabilities.” In other words, the U.S. continued to claim that Iraq had ongoing WMD programs and stockpiles, and supposedly based that assessment on Kamal’s information, even though Kamal in fact had confirmed that Iraq’s WMD had been destroyed and its programs dismantled in 1991.
The document similarly states, “We now judge that the Iraqis feared that Kamil … would reveal additional undisclosed information. Iraq decided that further widespread deception and attempts to hold onto extensive WMD programs while under UN sanctions was untenable and changed strategic direction by adopting a policy of disclosure and improved cooperation.” The wording here that Iraq was attempting in 1995 “to hold onto” such programs does not merely imply a falsehood, but is an outright lie. Once again, the CIA was perfectly well aware that until 1995, Iraq was attempting to conceal the existence of its past WMD programs, which it was not attempting “to hold onto” but had dismantled in 1991. This kind of dishonest use of language to suggest Iraq continued to have ongoing WMD programs, even while contradictorily acknowledging elsewhere in the report that this was not true, is illustrative not of a willingness by the CIA to come clean, but to continue to obfuscate the truth and to persist in the false narrative of “intelligence failure”. The CIA in the document even tries to spin its acknowledgment that Iraq’s programs were dismantled and its WMD destroyed in 1991 by saying that this unilateral action left Iraq “unable to provide convincing proof when it later tried to demonstrate compliance”—thus shifting the burden onto Iraq to prove that it didn’t have WMD and attempting to obfuscate the fact that U.S. government officials repeatedly lied by claiming that the intelligence community had proof that Iraq did have WMD.
In October 1991, Iraq admitted to the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) that its Al Atheer site had been built in order to conduct research into enriching uranium to build a nuclear weapon. On August 22, 1995, when Hussein Kamal was asked about the work that went on there, and whether it was continuing somewhere else, he replied, “yes, but not now, before the Gulf War.” That is to say, there were other sites involved in Iraq’s nuclear weapons program, but this program was ended by 1991. He also pointed out that the work done on enrichment “were only studies.” He noted that Iraq already “had highly enriched uranium from France but it was under the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] safeguards.” Iraq thus had worked on building its own centrifuges to enrich uranium, “but had never reached a point close to testing.”
The CIA document nevertheless states that Kamal’s defection “exposed the previously unknown 1991 crash program to develop nuclear weapons.” The program referred to would have entailed using enriched uranium from Iraq’s French-built reactor and enriching additional uranium obtained from Russia to weapons-grade in order to produce material for a bomb. The remarkable dishonesty of this statement is on full display when one compares it with the fact that, when this “crash program” was brought up in his UNSCOM debriefing, Kamal’s actual response was, “no, not true.” He acknowledged that “the decision was already there to use French uranium, but they were not ready with centrifuges.” In other words, the “crash program” was nothing more than a hypothetical contingency plan involving a scenario in which Iraq would make a final desperate effort to produce a nuclear weapon by kicking out U.N. and IAEA inspectors and enriching its own uranium to weapons-grade—a capability Iraq did not possess.
With regard to Iraq’s biological weapons programs, Kamal was asked during his debriefing, “[W]ere weapons and agents destroyed?” He answered, “[N]othing remained.” He added that the U.N. inspectors “have [an] important role in Iraq with this. You should not underestimate yourself. You are very effective in Iraq.” The unilateral destruction of WMD, Kamal said, “was done before you came in.” On the issue of chemical weapons, the discussion turned to Iraq’s development of VX nerve agent during the Iran-Iraq war. After the war, Kamal told his U.N. debriefers, “the factory was turned into civilian production.” He added, “Iran also had mustard and sarin and they used mustard [gas] in small quantities. Some of the chemical components came for the US to Iraq”—that the U.S. supplied precursors for Iraq’s WMD is well known. Kamal continued, “[W]e changed the factory into pesticide production. Part of the establishment started to produce medicine.” He also said, “We gave instructions not to produce chemical weapons…. All chemical weapons were destroyed. I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed.” (He subsequently clarified, “in the nuclear area, there were no weapons”—he had meant that the nuclear program was dismantled.)
The CIA document repeats the standard refrain that Iraq viewed Iran and Israel as a threat and that this therefore “could explain why Iraq might have continued to give the impression that it was concealing WMD—to instill fear or at least uncertainty in their neighbors”. The propaganda claim that Iraq itself wished to give the impression that it had WMD has been repeated many times over the years. David Kay, who initially headed up the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), the CIA’s effort to find WMD in Iraq following the invasion, in order to explain why the search had turned up nothing, suggested that Saddam had “bluffed” about having WMD in order to deter Iran. In January 2008, the media was abuzz with the supposed revelation from Saddam’s interrogation confirming that he had “bluffed”. His interrogator, FBI agent George Piro, gave an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes in which he recalled telling Saddam, “And in June 2000 you gave a speech in which you said Iraq would not disarm until others in the region did.” The 60 Minutes report then inserted the claim, “That June 2000 speech was about weapons of mass destruction.” Piro reinforced that claim when the interviewer asked him why Saddam would put his nation at risk “to maintain this charade” of having WMD, to which Piro replied, “It was very important for him to project that because that was what kept him, in his mind, in power. That capability kept the Iranians away. It kept them from reinvading Iraq.”
The Associated Press reported that Saddam’s interrogation confirmed that he “falsely allowed the world to believe Iraq has weapons of mass destruction”. USA Today claimed that Saddam “said he was bluffing publicly about having weapons of mass destruction because he feared showing weakness to Iran”. The headline in the Christian Science Monitor declared, “Why Saddam Hussein lied about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction”; the London Telegraph proclaimed, “Saddam Hussein ‘lied about WMDs to protect Iraq from Iran’”; and Reuters announced, “FBI: Saddam told us he lied about having nukes to deter Iran”. But in fact the only lie was the claim that Saddam had lied about having WMD. The simple fact of the matter is that he never once claimed that Iraq had WMD. On the contrary, he repeatedly, consistently, andhonestly denied this (the CIA document acknowledges in one place that “what Iraq was saying by the end of 1995 was, for the most part, accurate”).
The entire relevant section from the released FBI summary of the June 11, 2004 interrogation Piro was referring to stated, “SSA Piro then asked Hussein if he wrote his own speeches and they come from the heart, then what was the meaning of his June 2000 speech. Hussein replied this speech was meant to serve a regional and operational purpose. Regionally, the speech was meant to respond to Iraq’s regional threat. Hussein believed that Iraq could not appear weak to its enemies, especially Iran. Iraq was being threatened by others in the region and must appear able to defend itself. Operationally, Hussein was demonstrating Iraq’s compliance with the United Nations (UN) in its destruction of its Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).” That was very far from suggesting any kind of confession from Saddam that he had “bluffed” about having WMD.
Furthermore, the speech referred to, contrary to CBS’s false claim, was not about WMD. Saddam rather had spoken explicitly with reference to Iraq’s conventional arsenal of weapons. He spoke of how the U.S. had “used the United Nations as a cover” to pursue its own agenda and then added, “However, we must protect our country because we will not give them Iraq. We do not like to collect weapons for the sake of collecting weapons. But we consider the provision of the necessary means to protect our country an ethical and moral responsibility that every Iraqi man and woman must shoulder.” He was thus speaking specifically of Iraq’s right to self-defense and of maintaining a capability to exercise that right. He continued on to say that Iraq would be “most enthusiastic” to limit its weapons, so long as Israel—which had bombed Iraq in 1983, a watershed event that precipitated Saddam’s decision to try to develop a nuclear weapon to deter any further such attacks—did the same: “We told President Husni Mubarak: You can go ahead and announce that the Arabs are prepared to join any treaty to rid the region of the so-called weapons of mass destruction. We told him: This does not mean only ballistic missiles, which are no more than artillery of a longer range.” The condition for this proposed disarmament was “that the Zionist entity is the first to sign such a treaty.” And while Saddam had used the words “weapons of mass destruction”, he was explicitly referring to long-range ballistic missiles, which, although proscribed for Iraq under U.N. resolutions, were nevertheless conventional weapons—hence his description of them as “so-called” WMD. “If the world tells us to abandon all our weapons and keep only swords,” Saddam continued, “we will do that. We will destroy all the weapons, if they destroy their weapons. But if they keep a rifle and then tell me that I have the right to possess only a sword, then we would say no.”
The CIA document concludes that intelligence analysts had wrongly assessed Iraq’s WMD capabilities on the grounds that: “A liability of intelligence analysis is that once a party has been proven to be an effective deceiver, that knowledge becomes a heavy factor in the calculations of the analytical observer.” But, remarkably, while making vague judgments about the bias of analysts such as this one, the document does not address any of the actual intelligence underlying a single one of the claims made by government officials in their efforts to manufacture consent for the war on Iraq. An examination of the claims that were made and the actual intelligence underlying them reveals the fact that, for the most part, the intelligence community had not failed in its assessments of Iraq’s WMD capabilities. On the contrary, the top analysts in their respective area of expertise on numerous key claims from the Bush administration in making its case for war had correctly assessed that Iraq had no such WMD capabilities.
How the CIA Coordinated a Campaign of Disinformation
For instance, take the claims that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear program, belied by open-source information from the IAEA that it had been completely dismantled and that there was no evidence that Iraq had attempted to restart it. The “evidence” cited to bolster these claims were founded primarily on alleged Iraqi attempts to procure yellowcake uranium from Niger and acquisition of aluminum tubes to manufacture centrifuges to enrich the uranium for a bomb. Yet both of these claims were false and were known to be false before the U.S. invaded. And in neither case did the intelligence community’s assessment support the claims made by administration officials.
President George W. Bush infamously proclaimed, for example, that “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” This was a lie. The British government hadn’t “learned” that; it merely claimed this was so with no credible evidence. In fact, the U.S. intelligence community regarded this claim as so dubious that the CIA had warned the British government against including it in the white paper Bush was referring to. In fact, the documents underlying the claim were forgeries. The documents were eventually handed over to the IAEA, and in his briefing to the U.N. Security Council on March 7, 2003, Mohammed ElBaradei announced, “Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents—which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger—are in fact not authentic.”
The role of the CIA in controlling the flow of information in the coordinated effort to deceive the public is best illustrated in the case of the aluminum tubes. Dick Cheney declared that Saddam Hussein “has reconstituted his nuclear program to develop a nuclear weapon…. [H]e now is trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich uranium to make the bombs…. Specifically aluminum tubes.” He added, “[W]e do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon.” He went further, suggesting that Iraq may have already obtained a nuclear weapon. When asked to confirm that Iraq did not at that time have a nuclear weapon, Cheney replied, “I can’t say that.” National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice similarly lied, “We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments going … into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes … that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.” President Bush also said, “Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon.” The same day, the State Department released a report titled “A Decade of Deception and Defiance” that stated, “Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes which officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium.” On October 7, 2002, Bush repeated, “The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.” He cited as “evidence” of this the claim that “Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.” He added, “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof—the smoking gun—that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
Turning to the actual assessments of the U.S.’s intelligence agencies, the first CIA assessment of the tubes was published on April 10, 2001, and stated that they “have little use other than for a uranium enrichment program.” Yet no explanation for how this conclusion was arrived at was provided, and the report also acknowledged that “using aluminum tubes in a centrifuge effort would be inefficient and a step backward from the specialty steel machines Iraq was poised to mass produce at the onset of the Gulf War.” The Department of Energy (DOE) issued their own far more detailed analysis of the tubes the following day, which stated that their “specifications are not consistent with a gas centrifuge end use.” Additionally, there was no evidence for “related procurement efforts” that would be also required to produce centrifuges, and if the tubes were intended for this purpose, it would be “a centrifuge design quite different from any Iraq is known to have.” The DOE report stated, “[W]e assess that the procurement activity more likely supports a different application, such as conventional ordnance production. For example, the tube specifications and quantity appear to be generally consistent with their use as launch tubes for man-held anti-armor rockets or as tactical rocket casings.” Additionally, the lax manner in which Iraq had handled its procurement of the tubes “seems to better match our expectations for a conventional Iraqi military buy than a major purchase for a clandestine weapons-of-mass destruction program.” After further research, the DOE issued another report on May 9 noting that “Iraq has purchased similar aluminum tubes previously to manufacture chambers (tubes) for a multiple rocket launcher.”
The CIA responded with a report on June 14 acknowledging the error of its initial assessment. It admitted that the tubes “could be used as rocket bodies for multiple rocket launchers”, but nevertheless clung to its false claim that their specifications “are suitable for uranium enrichment gas centrifuge rotors” and that a conventional use was “less likely”. Once again, no rationale was offered for its differing assessment from the nation’s top experts on centrifuges at the DOE. The CIA issued another report on July 2 falsely claiming that they “are constructed from high strength aluminum (7075-T6) and are manufactured to the tight tolerances necessary for gas centrifuges. The dimensions of the tubes match those of a publicly available gas centrifuge design from the 1950s, known as the Zippe centrifuge.” It falsely stated that “the specifications for the tubes far exceed any known conventional weapons application, including rocket motor casings for 81-mm multiple rocket launchers.”
The IAEA first became alerted to the tubes issue in the summer of 2001, and immediately recognized that Iraq had previously used tubes with identical dimensions in a conventional rocket program, for which there was extensive documentation. A CIA analyst from the Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control (WINPAC) identified simply as “Joe”, was largely responsible for creating and propagating the argument that the tubes were intended for a centrifuge program. He travelled to Vienna in July to try to convince the IAEA experts of his position, arguing that after cutting the tubes and machining down the thickness, they could be used in a centrifuge that would then have the same mass as rotors in a Zippe centrifuge design (named after Soviet scientist Gernot Zippe). The IAEA experts pointed out to him that there were numerous flaws in his analysis, such as the fact that he had failed to calculate the mass of end caps and other components of such a design.
As the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessment on Iraq would later observe, nine additional intelligence reports were produced over the next year discussing the aluminum tubes, but “[n]one of these assessments provided any additional information to support the CIA’s analysis”. The Senate Committee’s report offered useful insight into how the CIA was controlling the flow of information on the tubes, revealing how “Most of the assessments were disseminated in limited channels, only to high-level policymakers and were not available to intelligence analysts from other agencies.” When asked by the Committee why this was so, CIA officials replied that they were written as responses to specific questions and intended for the President. Apparently relying on the CIA’s false claim that the tubes were a “match” to the Zippe design and being out of the loop about the DOE’s contrary assessment, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) produced a report on August 2, 2001 embracing the CIA’s case with the comment that “DIA analysts found the CIA WINPAC presentation to be very compelling.”
On August 17, the DOE released an additional extensive analysis, once again observing, as had the IAEA, that Iraq had previously used tubes with “the same specifications” to manufacture rockets. The DOE reiterated that the tubes were not well suited for a centrifuge and that the aluminum used “provides performance roughly half that of the materials Iraq previously pursued.” Furthermore, the diameter of the tubes was smaller than any known centrifuge and “too thick for favorable use as rotor tubes, exceeding the nominal 1-mm thickness of known aluminum rotor tubes by more than a factor of three.” In other words, as the Senate Committee later noted, “The dimensions of the tubes seized do not ‘match’ the dimensions of any of Zippe’s centrifuge designs.” Moreover, the DOE also noted, the anodized surface “is not consistent with a gas centrifuge application”, which was “unlikely”. Rather, “a rocket production application is the more likely end use for these tubes.”
Apparently still relying entirely upon the CIA’s assessment, the DIA issued a report in November acknowledging that “alternative uses for the tubes are possible, such as rocket motor cases or rocket launch tubes” but parroting once again the false claim that “the specifications are consistent with earlier Iraqi gas centrifuge rotor designs.” The DOE tried to set the record straight yet again in a report in December that stated, “The wall thickness is three times greater than that for metal rotor designs used in high-speed centrifuges”—including the Zippe design. The DOE’s experts pointed out the inefficiency of any centrifuge built using these tubes, concluding, “In short, we judge it unlikely that anyone could deploy an enrichment facility capable of producing weapons significant quantities of HEU [highly-enriched uranium] based on these tubes.” One analyst later expressed his view to the Senate Committee that if Iraq truly intended these tubes for use in a centrifuge, then “we should just give them the tubes.”
The CIA was undeterred, publishing another report on August 1, 2002 ignoring the DOE assessment and claiming that the tubes’ supposed high tolerances, high cost, and secrecy in procurement were evidence that they were intended for centrifuges. The DIA the following month once again repeated the false claim that alternative uses were “possible” but “less likely because the specifications are consistent with late-1980s Iraqi gas centrifuge rotor designs.” Again in September, the CIA repeated as evidence for an intended centrifuge application its false claims of secrecy in procurement, high cost, tight tolerances, the anodized coating, and that the tubes “matched” known centrifuge specifications. It concluded that it was “unlikely” they were intended for a rocket program.
While administration officials stated as fact that the tubes were intended for centrifuges and that they couldn’t be used for any other purpose, that the nation’s top experts on centrifuges at the DOE disagreed became public information long before the invasion of Iraq. David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) released a report on September 23, 2002 that noted, “In fact, the intelligence community is deeply divided about the purpose of the tubing, with a significant number of experts knowledgeable about gas centrifuges dissenting from the CIA view.” Furthermore, Albright wrote, “ISIS has learned that U.S. nuclear experts who dissent from the Administration’s position are expected to remain silent.” In a second later report, Albright relayed that one expert “said that people in the administration can ‘release whatever they like, and they expect us to be silent.’” The New York Times similarly later reported that on September 13, after the administration had leaked information about the tubes to the press and made their rounds on the talk shows touting their claims, “the Energy Department sent a directive forbidding employees from discussing the subject with reporters.” Albright also made publicly known that the tubes would have to be modified significantly in order to be used for centrifuges, and also that UNSCOM had seen thousands of similar tubes in Iraq—for use in its rocket program. Further public information contradicting the U.S. government’s claims came when the British government released a dossier on September 24, 2002 admitting that “there is no definitive intelligence that it is destined for a nuclear programme.”
The CIA released an unclassified version of its National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraqi WMD in October 2002, which stated that the tubes “could be used in a centrifuge enrichment program. Most intelligence specialists assess this to be to be the intended use, but some believe that these tubes are probably intended for conventional weapons programs.” Thus “most intelligence specialists” included “Joe” and a number of analysts within the CIA and DIA, while excluding the nation’s top experts on centrifuges who had repeatedly pointed out that the CIA and DIA assessments were relying onfalse information.
By contrast, the classified version of the NIE noted that the DOE “assesses that the tubes probably are not part of” a nuclear weapons program. The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), it also noted, “accepts the judgment of technical experts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment and finds unpersuasive the arguments advanced by others to make the case that they are intended for that purpose. INR considers it far more likely that the tubes are intended for another purpose, most likely the production of artillery rockets. The very large quantities being sought, the way the tubes were tested by the Iraqis, and the atypical lack of attention to operational security in the procurement efforts are among the factors, in addition to the DOE assessment, that lead INR to conclude that the tubes are not intended for use in Iraq’s nuclear weapon program.”
The NIE included an assessment from the Army National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) that, due to the tubes’ specifications, they were “highly unlikely to be intended for rocket motor cases.” Yet the IAEA had confirmed that the Iraqis were attempting to reverse engineer an Italian rocket, the Medusa, which used the same material, 7075-T6 aluminum tubes with the same dimensions. Furthermore, in a written response to the Senate Committee, the NGIC acknowledged that “lightweight rockets, such as those originally developed for air-to-ground systems, typically use 7075-T6 aluminum for the motor casing because of its strength and weight”. The NGIC additionally acknowledged that “it is not unusual to use the aluminum alloy specified by Iraq for casings of unguided rockets.” The apparent explanation for the contradiction was once again the CIA’s control of information. One expert told David Albright “that he did not believe the CIA analysts presented NGIC with complete information about the case” prior to the publication of the NIE. The Department of Defense (DOD) similarly confirmed that the information its analysts had relied upon had been provided by the CIA. One engineer from the DOD told the Senate Committee that it became clear to him that the CIA “had an agenda” and was trying “to bias us, to encourage us to come up with [the] answer” that agreed with their own assessment.
With regard to the claim that the tubes were “excessively tightly toleranced” for use in rockets, a DOD rocket design engineer told the Committee that this could be explained because Iraqi engineers, who “don’t have 40 years of rocket manufacture [experience] like we have”, would “tend to err on the conservative side.” Another engineer agreed, “If you were starting from scratch, you would tend to go for a straighter, more tightly-toleranced product.” The DOE observed that this was common practice for inexperienced engineers trying to reverse engineer equipment, and the IAEA also confirmed this explanation. Further illustrating the dishonesty of the CIA’s assessment, the DOE explained that the tubes used in the U.S. Mark-66 rocket in fact had tolerances that exceeded those of the tubes procured by the Iraqis. As for the supposed “high cost” of the tubes, DOD design engineers responsible for U.S. rocket systems told the Senate Committee that this was “not correct at all”. On the contrary, high-strength aluminum is “around the world the material of choice for low cost rocket systems” and “one of the cheapest materials to make rocket motor cases.”
The CIA claimed in the NIE that it had successfully spun one of the tubes and that its test showed that it was “suitable as a centrifuge rotor”, even though the DOE had written an analysis of the spin test stating that it actually “would have precluded their use in a centrifuge.” The NIE did not repeat the false claim that the tubes were a “match” to the Zippe design, but did claim their dimensions were “similar”, and it omitted the fact that they were not consistent with Iraq’s previous centrifuge designs and the fact that the tubes’ specifications matched perfectly those used in Iraq’s existing rocket program.
After U.N. inspectors returned to Iraq under the Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), chief inspector Hans Blix reported in December 2002 that while it was still investigating the administration’s claims, “Iraq has also provided information on a short-range rocket that is manufactured using 81 mm aluminum tubes”, which was “not a new disclosure”. In January 2003, Mohamed ElBaradei briefed the Security Council that Iraq had explained its attempts to acquire the tubes “in connection with a programme aimed at reverse engineering 81-millimetre rockets.” In order to verify the Iraqi explanation, the IAEA had conducted an extensive investigation finding that “the specifications of the aluminum tubes sought by Iraq … appear to be consistent with reverse engineering of rockets. While it would be possible to modify such tubes for the manufacture of centrifuges, they are not directly suitable for it.” The assessment of the DOE, as already noted, had already been made public, and the INR’s agreement with the DOE was also reported by the New York Times in January. On January 27, ElBaradei briefed the Council again that after extensive investigation, the IAEA had concluded that “the aluminum tubes would be consistent with the purpose stated by Iraq and, unless modified, would not be suitable for manufacturing centrifuges”. He added that “we have to date found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons programme since the elimination of the programme in the 1990s”.
President Bush nevertheless claimed two days later that Saddam Hussein “has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production” and that he “has not credibly explained these activities.” Secretary of State Colin Powell repeated the administration’s case at the Security Council on February 5, declaring that “Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb. He is so determined that he has made repeated covert attempts to acquire high-specification aluminum tubes”. While acknowledging that there “are differences of opinion” about the tubes, Powell claimed that “Most U.S. experts think they are intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium.” The truth was that, as David Albright later observed, “The vast majority of gas centrifuge experts in this country and abroad who are knowledgeable about this case reject the CIA’s case”, including the nation’s top experts at the DOE who had “virtually the only expertise on gas centrifuges and nuclear weapons programs in the United States government”, as well as the intelligence branch of Powell’s own State Department.
Powell disingenuously and meaninglessly declared that “all the experts who have analyzed the tubes in our possession agree that they can be adapted for centrifuge use”. As one DOE analyst would later explain to the Senate Committee, you could also theoretically “turn your new Yugo into a Cadillac”. Retired Oak Ridge nuclear scientist Dr. Houston G. Wood, one of the top experts in the world on centrifuges, similarly explained that “it would have been extremely difficult to make these tubes into centrifuges. It stretches the imagination to come up with a way. I do not know any real centrifuge experts that feel differently.”
Powell lied that the tubes “are manufactured to a tolerance that far exceeds U.S. requirements for comparable rockets”, even though his own department’s intelligence agency had sent him a memo identifying this claim as a key concern and stating, “In fact, the most comparable US system is a tactical rocket—the US Mark 66 air-launched 70mm rocket—that uses the same, high-grade (7075-T6) aluminum, and that has specifications with similar tolerances.” He cited the anodized coating as evidence, asking why Iraq would “go to all that trouble for something that, if it was a rocket, would soon be blown into shrapnel when it went off?” In fact, the anodized coating was a clear indication the tubes were intended for rockets, the coating being to protect the tubes from the weather; and since the tubes would require machining to modify them for use in centrifuges, Powell, if he was honest, should have asked why the Iraqis would go to all that trouble if the coating would soon be removed to make centrifuges anyways.
Mohammed ElBaradei refuted Powell’s lies again in March, saying that “Extensive field investigation and document analysis have failed to uncover any evidence that Iraq intended to use these 81mm tubes for any project other than the reverse engineering of rockets…. Based on available evidence, the IAEA team has concluded that Iraq’s efforts to import these aluminum tubes were not likely to have been related to the manufacture of centrifuges and, moreover, that it was highly unlikely that Iraq could have achieved the considerable re-design needed to use them in a revived centrifuge programme.”
Thus, even before the U.S. launched its invasion of Iraq ostensibly to rid it of WMD because the world could not wait for the proof of Iraq’s possession of nuclear weapons to come “in the form of a mushroom cloud”, it was public knowledge that the British government, the IAEA, the top U.S. experts on centrifuges at the DOE, and the INR all agreed that the evidence did not indicate that the tubes were intended for use in a nuclear weapons program. On July 9, 2004, the Senate Committee published its report on pre-war intelligence. It concluded that “the judgment in the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, was not supported by the intelligence” and, furthermore, that “the information available to the Intelligence Community indicated that these tubes were intended to be used for an Iraqi conventional rocket program and not a nuclear program.” In the CIA’s final report on the findings of the ISG in September 2004, the agency reluctantly admitted that “Iraqi interest in aluminum tubes appears to have come from efforts to produce 81-mm rockets, rather than a nuclear end use.”
Needless to say, given the actual facts, the narrative that the admittedly false claims that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program were the product of an “intelligence failure” cannot withstand the slightest scrutiny. This claim is completely fictional. Simply stated, the fact of the matter is that the government lied, and no attempt by individuals or agencies responsible for these lies seeking to obfuscate and deny that fact could possibly be considered a “mea culpa” by any serious and honest analyst. The failure of journalists to objectively state the obvious fact that government officials liedand the near universal willingness to repeat the official fictional narrative of “intelligence failure” following the invasion is a further reflection of the same intellectual culture in the U.S. that was witnessed prior to the war, when the mainstream media uncritically parroted the government’s claims and reported lies and deceptions as fact.
A Counterintelligence Success
One may similarly examine virtually every other aspect of the case for war and see the same repetition of official deception. On February 24, 2001, Colin Powell stated that Saddam Hussein “has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.” When he went before the Security Council two years later to present the administration’s case for war, he knew he was lying. He knew that the claims he was making were not supported by the available evidence. He knew that his claims were contradicted by the available intelligence assessments of the nation’s top experts in their respective fields.
Another example of this was the claim that Iraq’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were intended to deliver chemical and biological weapons. On October 7, 2002, President Bush declared, “We’ve also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We’re concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States.” According to Senator Bill Nelson, prior to the Congressional vote on the resolution granting the President the authority to enforce U.N. resolutions through the Security Council—(contrary to popular belief, the invasion of Iraq was a violation of the U.S. Constitution as well as international law)—members of Congress were told that Iraq could deliver anthrax to U.S. cities using UAVs. He testified, “I was told that not only did he have the weapons of mass destruction and that he had the means to deliver them through unmanned aerial vehicles, but that he had the capability of transporting those UAVs outside of Iraq and threatening the homeland here in America, specifically by putting them on ships off the eastern seaboard of which they would then drop their WMD on eastern seaboard cities. You can see all the more why I thought there was an imminent threat.”
In his February 5 presentation before the Security Council, Colin Powell showed a picture of an Iraqi Mirage jet aircraft that he claimed was spraying “simulated anthrax”. He claimed that spray tanks capable of dispersing chemical or biological weapons were “intended to be mounted on a MiG-21 that had been converted into an unmanned aerial vehicle, or a UAV.” He added that “UAVs outfitted with spray tanks constitute an ideal method for launching a terrorist attack using biological weapons.” After making these allegations, he turned his attention to Iraq’s actual known UAVs, which were smaller and lighter than a jet aircraft. These, he said, “are well suited for dispensing chemical and biological weapons. There is ample evidence that Iraq has dedicated much effort to developing and testing spray devices that could be adapted for UAVs.” He argued that, “According to Iraq’s December 7 declaration, its UAVs have a range of only 80 kilometers. But we detected one of Iraq’s newest UAVs in a test flight that went 500 kilometers nonstop on autopilot” in a “race track pattern”—that is to say, it “was flown around and around and around in a circle.” For this argument, Powell was relying on the ignorance of his audience. He could not have been unaware that Iraq’s UAVs necessarily functioned by use of a guiding signal that had a limited range. Thus, while the UAVs were shown to be able to carry enough fuel to fly adistance of 500 km, Powell in fact offered no evidence to contradict Iraq’s declaration that its UAVs had a range of 80 km. This was deliberate sleight-of-hand, a blatant effort to deceive. He further stated that “Iraq could use these small UAVs which have a wingspan of only a few meters to deliver biological agents to its neighbors or if transported, to other countries, including the United States.”
The U.N. inspectors, however, had not arrived at the same conclusions. In his report to the Security Council on March 7, Hans Blix only briefly mentioned Iraq’s UAVs, saying, “Inspectors are also engaged in examining Iraq’s programme for Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs). A number of sites have been inspected with data being collected to assess the range and other capabilities of the various models found. Inspections are continuing in this area.” In summing up the matter of Iraq’s UAV’s in the book he later wrote on the inspections process, Blix wrote, “The U.S. administration had concluded—almost certainly wrongly, it now appears—that the drone was a violation of the Security Council’s resolution. At UNMOVIC we were not ready to make that assessment. This angered Washington, despite the fact that it must have been known that the U.S. Air Force itself did not believe the Iraqi drones were for the delivery of biological and chemical agents.” And, as Blix also noted, the Air Force was “the greatest repository of U.S. expertise on drones”.
Turning to the actual intelligence underlying the administration’s claims, the Air Force experts had indeed assessed that Iraq’s drone aircraft were not designed or intended to disperse chemical or biological weapons, but for surveillance. The classified version of the October 2002 NIE stated that Iraq was “working with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which allow for a more lethal means to deliver biological and, less likely, chemical warfare agents.” The NIE judged that the UAVs were “probably intended to deliver biological warfare agents”, and even went so far as to declare that “Baghdad’s UAVs could threaten Iraq’s neighbors, US forces in the Persian Gulf, and if brought to, or into, the United States, the US Homeland” (emphasis in original). However, the NIE also made known the “dissent” from these judgments from the nation’s top experts on UAVs. Air Force analysts agreed that “although CBW delivery is an inherent capability”, they did not believe Iraq’s UAVs were intended for that purpose, but rather had a “primary role of reconnaissance”. The Air Force judged that “Iraq is developing UAVs primarily for reconnaissance rather than delivery platforms for CBW agents…. CBW delivery is an inherent capability of UAVs but probably is not the impetus for Iraq’s recent UAV programs.” The CIA relegated this judgment of the nation’s top experts on UAVs to a footnote. Even more revealing, the NIE’s section on biological warfare disclosed that “we have no information linking the current UAV development with BW delivery”—and recall that their use to deliver chemical weapons was even “less likely”. Thus, the CIA admitted that no evidence actually existed to support its own judgments that Iraq’s drones were intended to deliver CBW.
Furthermore, the Air Force was not alone in its “dissent” from the CIA’s baseless assessments. The UAV analyst from the INR later informed the Senate Committee that he agreed with the Air Force’s assessment, but that he nevertheless declined to join in the Air Force’s footnote. DIA analysts also testified that they had also agreed with the Air Force’s judgments, but had similarly declined to make this known in the NIE. Even analysts within the CIA agreed with the experts from the Air Force. One CIA UAV analyst admitted to the Committee that “some of Iraq’s UAVs were in fact developed for reconnaissance and as aerial targets”. Others revealed that “they did not believe that CIA’s assessments about the UAVs were accurately represented because the NIE did not address the reconnaissance mission.” The reason offered for this was that “those roles fell outside the scope of the Iraq WMD NIE.” In other words, information which didnot support the CIA’s judgments was deliberately omitted—or, in the case of the Air Force’s “dissent”, relegated to a footnote.
In a subsequent NIE titled “Nontraditional Threats to the US Homeland Through 2007”, published in January 2003, the Air Force, DIA, and Army all agreed that “BW delivery is an inherent capability of most UAVs and that Iraq may choose to exploit this capability, but they note that the evidence is unconfirmed and is not sufficiently compelling to indicate the Iraqis done so. There is information, however, on procurements that indicate a reconnaissance mission for the UAV program is more likely.” The picture begins to emerge that what the CIA described as “dissent” in the October NIE was in fact regarded by all of the top American experts on UAVs as sound analysis. Once again, it becomes clear that far from there having been an “intelligence failure”, the government’s claims simply were not supported by the available intelligence.
In another illustration of this fact, the report of the Senate Committee observed, “The only intelligence reporting that demonstrated any possibility that Iraq may have intended to use the UAVs to attack targets within the U.S. was reporting that Iraq was trying to procure U.S. mapping software for its small UAVs. The NIE said the procurement effort, ‘strongly suggests that Iraq is investigating the use of these UAVs for missions targeting the United States.’” Subsequent assessments, however, acknowledged that Iraq “may have ordered the U.S. mapping software unintentionally. Based on the new information, the DIA, the USAF, and the Army all chose to include a footnote noting that they interpreted ‘recent reporting to mean that the purpose of the Iraqi request for route planning software and topgraphic database was to acquire a generic mapping capability—a goal that is not necessarily indicative of an intent to target the U.S. Homeland.’”
Part of Powell’s claims regarding Iraq’s UAVs included the allegation that Iraq had weaponized anthrax that it could spray from the drones. The facts are clear that this claim, too, was not the product of an “intelligence failure”. Bush told the U.N. General Assembly on September 12, 2002, that “From 1991 to 1995, the Iraqi regime said it had no biological weapons. After a senior official in its program defected and exposed this lie, the regime admitted producing tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents”. The official he was referring to, of course, was Hussein Kamal, who had in fact testified that “nothing remained” of Iraq’s biological weapons, that they were “destroyed” in 1991—a fact Bush could not have been unaware of but deliberately omitted in order to deceive the public. On September 28, Bush stated, “The dangers we face only worsen from month to month and year to year … and each passing day could be the one on which the Iraq regime gives anthrax or VX nerve gas or someday a nuclear weapon to a terrorist group.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said on September 19, 2002, that Iraq had “amassed large clandestine stockpiles of biological weapons, including anthrax, botulism toxin, possibly smallpox.” “Less than a teaspoon of dry anthrax,” Colin Powell told his global audience in his presentation to the U.N., holding up a small vial filled with white powder, “about this amount—this is just about the amount of a teaspoon—less than a teaspoon full of dry anthrax in an envelope shut down the United States Senate in the fall of 2001…. If concentrated into this dry form, this amount would be enough to fill tens upon tens of thousands of teaspoons. And Saddam Hussein has not verifiably accounted for even one teaspoon of this deadly material.” Powell claimed that Iraq “had perfected drying techniques for their biological weapons programs” and had “incorporated this drying expertise” into “mobile production facilities”.
That Iraq had destroyed WMD in 1991 was public knowledge. The British dossier in September 2002 acknowledged that “Iraq destroyed unilaterally and illegally, some biological weapons in 1991 and 1992 making accounting for these weapons impossible.” The meaningless use of the adverb “illegally” aside, the relevance of this statement was that it implicitly acknowledged that there was no evidence that Iraq still possessed biological weapons. It rather shifted the burden of proof so that no such evidence was required; Iraq rather had to prove that it didn’t have such weapons. The dossier explained the issue regarding anthrax succinctly: “From a series of Iraqi declarations to the UN during the 1990s we know that by 1991 they had produced at least … 8,500 litres of anthrax”, but the UN inspectors “were unable to account for … growth media procured for biological agent production (enough to produce over three times the 8,500 litres of anthrax spores Iraq admits to having manufactured)”. In other words, the Iraqis admitted to having produced 8,500 liters of anthrax before the Gulf War, but they could possibly have produced more. As Hans Blix similarly explained, “In most cases, the issues are outstanding not because there is information that contradicts Iraq’s account, but simply because there is a lack of supporting evidence” that it had destroyed all its WMD. That is to say, there was no evidence Iraq still possessed biological weapons; U.N. inspectors just hadn’t reached the point where they could declare that they had verified that all of Iraq’s WMD had been destroyed, as Iraq claimed. Blix explained further that “Iraq has declared that it produced about 8,500 litres” of anthrax, “which it states it unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991”. There was “no convincing evidence for its destruction”, Blix said, but he added that “Iraq has provided little evidence for this production”—that is to say, there was no evidence Iraq had destroyed all of its anthrax, but neither was there any evidence it still possessed any, and there was “little evidence” Iraq ever actually produced that much in the first place.
As former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter explained, UNSCOM had “fundamentally disarmed” Iraq, with “90-95% of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capability … verifiably eliminated”. Furthermore, Ritter explained, the anthrax that Iraq had produced had a shelf life that would have rendered it useless many years prior. Iraq had produced only “liquid bulk anthrax”, which “even under ideal storage, germinates in three years, becoming useless.” Contrary to Powell’s claims, there was no evidence that Iraq had ever successfully produced dried anthrax. David Kay later admitted in testimony to the U.S. Senate that Iraq had never dried anthrax, but only a “simulant”. The CIA admitted in its final report that the “ISG has found no information” that Iraq had ever produced “weaponizable dried B. anthracis.” A senior scientist in Iraq’s biological weapons program during the 1980s, Dr. Nissar Hindawi, told the New York Times in April 2003 that Iraq had produced “huge quantities” of liquid anthrax before the Gulf War. However, “There were orders to destroy it”, he added. He also confirmed that they had never been able to make dried anthrax.
Powell’s deceptive comments served several propaganda purposes. First, they served to obfuscate the fact that the liquid anthrax Iraq actually produced would have already degraded years before. Second, they served to imply that Iraq had weaponized powdered anthrax. Third, they created a mental association between the anthrax letters mailed in the U.S. shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which attacks were constantly invoked by the Bush administration in drawing associations between 9/11 and Iraq. This psychological association between Iraq and 9/11 was such successful propaganda that, according to one poll, 70% of Americans believed that Iraq was involved in the attacks. Thus the country was suffering from a mass delusion resulting from the government’s deceptions, such as Dick Cheney’s lie that it had been “pretty well confirmed” that alleged hijacker Mohammed Atta had met with Iraqi intelligence agents in Prague—the truth being that U.S. intelligence had concluded this meeting had never occurred. Indeed, the U.S. media had been full of baseless reports accusing Iraq of being behind the anthrax mailings, a false perception Powell was deliberately trying to exploit to manufacture consent for war.
Scott Ritter responded to the allegations that Iraq was behind the anthrax attacks in The Guardian: “Under the most stringent on-site inspection regime in the history of arms control, Iraq’s biological weapons programmes were dismantled, destroyed or rendered harmless during the course of hundreds of no-notice inspections. The major biological weapons production facility—al Hakum, which was responsible for producing Iraq’s anthrax—was blown up by high explosive charges and all its equipment destroyed…. Thousands of swabs and samples were taken from buildings and soil throughout Iraq. No evidence of anthrax or any other biological agent was discovered. While it was impossible to verify that all of Iraq’s biological capability had been destroyed, the UN never once found evidence that Iraq had either retained biological weapons or associated production equipment, or was continuing work in the field.” Ritter also pointed out that “Iraq procured the Vollum strain of anthrax from American Type Culture Collection”—which is was provided by the United States while it was supporting Saddam Hussein during the period when he committed his worst atrocities, including the oft-repeated crime of “gassing his own people” (a reference to his use of chemical weapons against the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988). The strain used in the post-9/11 anthrax mailings, on the other hand, was the Ames strain—which had been produced at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
It was already well known at the time that Iraq had obtained its precursors for chemical and biological weapons from the United States. “When Iraq engaged in chemical and biological warfare in the 1980s,” author William Blum observed in 1998, “barely a peep of moral outrage could be heard from Washington, as it kept supplying Saddam with the materials he needed to build weapons.” A Senate report from 1994 stated that “The United States provided the Government of Iraq with ‘dual use’ licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological, and missile-system programs, including … chemical warfare agent precursors; chemical warfare agent production facility plans and technical drawings (provided as pesticide production facility plans); chemical warhead filling equipment; biological warfare related materials; missile fabrication equipment; and, missile-system guidance equipment…. Records available from the supplier for the period from 1985 until the present show that during this time, pathogenic (meaning ‘disease producing’), toxigenic (meaning ‘poisonous’), and other biological research materials were exported to Iraq pursuant to application and licensing by the U.S. Department of Commerce…. These exported biological materials were not attenuated or weakened and were capable of reproduction.”
The CIA’s final report, popularly known as the Duelfer Report after Charles Duelfer, who replaced David Kay as the head of the ISG, would later admit, after its failure to find WMD in Iraq, that “in 1991 and 1992, Iraq appears to have destroyed its undeclared stocks of BW weapons and probably destroyed remaining holdings of bulk BW agent.”
Returning to Powell’s claims that Iraq had “mobile production facilities used to make biological agents”, this allegation came from a single source, code-named “Curveball”, whom the CIA had never actually interviewed. The CIA had rather relied on German reporting, which had come complete with warnings that he was a drunk and that his claims couldn’t be corroborated. On May 30, 2003, several months after the invasion of Iraq, Bush declared that U.S. forces had “found the weapons of mass destruction”. They had “found biological laboratories”, he lied. “Remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and said Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons?” He answered his own question, “[W]e’ve so far discovered two”, adding that “we’ll find more weapons as time goes on”. He then made a vain attempt to belittle his critics by saying, “But for those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong. We found them.” Inconveniently for the administration, a British team investigated the trailers and concluded that nothing of the sort had been found. One biological weapons expert told The Observer, “They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were—facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons.” As it turned out, it was the U.K. that had sold the system, known as an Artillery Meteorological System, or “Amets”, to Iraq in 1987.
The nature of the U.S. case for war was aptly summarized in the minutes of a meeting of senior ministers of the British government on July 23, 2002, the infamous “Downing Street Memo”, which observed: “Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
The narrative that there was an “intelligence failure” leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003 cannot withstand the slightest scrutiny. The simple fact of the matter is that there was no evidence that Iraq still possessed WMD. The fact of the matter is that top experts in their respective fields within the U.S. intelligence community had correctly assessed that Iraq did not have WMD or ongoing WMD programs. The CIA’s judgments to the contrary were not the result of a “failure” within the intelligence community to correctly analyze and assess the evidence, but of a systematic effort to control information in order to limit “dissent” and stovepipe products to administration officials that would support the government’s official policy of regime change. In other words, the policy was not based on the intelligence, but the CIA’s intelligence products were rather based on the policy.
Understood in these terms, it becomes apparent that far from a “failure”, the government’s disinformation campaign designed to manufacture consent for war was a resounding success. The narrative of an “intelligence failure” attempts to pin responsibility on analysts within the intelligence community rather than on senior administration officials such as President George W. Bush, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Colin Powell. It attempts to shift the blame for the lies of senior policymakers onto analysts who supposedly didn’t do their jobs correctly. But the truth of the matter is that analysts who did do their job were sidelined and silenced, while assessments from analysts like “Joe” who dishonestly touted the official line were stovepiped to policymakers in “intelligence” products containing judgments completely unsupported by the available evidence.
The narrative of “intelligence failure” attempts to obfuscate the truth of the matter, which is that senior government officials repeatedly lied and willfully deceived the public by making claims unsupported by evidence and by deliberately withholding any information that contradicted their allegations. Seen in this light, it becomes evident that the recently released CIA document is anything but a “mea culpa”. It is, on the contrary, just more of the same.
Jeremy R. Hammond is an independent political analyst and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, an online source for news, critical analysis, and opinion commentary on U.S. foreign policy. He was among the recipients of the 2010 Project Censored Awards for outstanding investigative journalism.

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Iraq: How the CIA Says It Blew It On Saddam’s WMD

Rewriting History

By Mark Thompson
September 06, 2012 “Time” — Now that we’re out of Iraq, the CIA has come clean on how come it was bamboozled about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. The FOIA ferrets over at the National Security Archive petitioned for, and got, the Central Intelligence Agency’s equivalent of the dog-ate-my-homework (technically, the NSA obtained this document under a Mandatory Declassification Review request it made in 2006, which can be faster [it still took six years!] than an FOIA request, if the requester has sufficient details on a specific document).
Bottom line, from the CIA’s point of view: Saddam used to lie about possessing WMD, so we believed he still was.
Unfortunately, the nation went to war based largely on that false intelligence. Four thousand, four hundred and eight-six U.S. troops, 318 allies, and untold thousands of Iraqis died in the ensuing conflict.
While much of the CIA explanation has been redacted, these surviving passages stand out:
– When the [UN and International Atomic Energy Agency] inspections proved more intrusive than expected, the Iraqi leadership appears to have panicked and made a fateful decision to secretly destroy much of the remaining non-declared items, and eliminate the evidence…
– Clumsy but genuine Iraqi moves toward transparency – significant alterations in their “cheat and retreat” pattern – not only went undetected but instead seemed to confirm that Iraq could and would conceal evidence of proscribed programs…
– We now judge that the Iraqis feared that [Saddam’s son-in-law and Iraqi weapons expert Hussein] Kamil [Hassan al-Majid] – a critical figure in Iraq’s WEMD and D&D [denial and deception] activities – would reveal additional undisclosed information. Iraq decided that further widespread deception and attempts to hold onto extensive WMD programs while under UN sanctions was untenable and changed strategic direction by adopting a policy of disclosure and improved cooperation.
– Iraq’s firmly established “cheat and retreat” pattern made it difficult for UN inspectors and Western analysts to accept new Iraqi assertions at face value…
– A liability of intelligence analysis is that once a party has been proven to be an effective deceiver, that knowledge becomes a heavy factor in the calculation of the analytical observer.
Tom Blanton, director of the nonprofit NSA, called the document a “remarkable CIA mea culpa.” To whichBattleland only adds: mea maxima culpa.

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Hundreds killed and wounded in Iraq bombings, ambushes

By Patrick Martin 
27 July 2012
More than 100 people were killed in a series of bombings and shootings throughout Iraq July 23, in the bloodiest single day of sectarian fighting in at least a year. Official Iraqi sources placed the casualty total at 115 dead and over 300 wounded.
The violence was directed mainly at Shiite targets, including police and military units stationed in Sunni-majority areas, and markets and other civilian targets in Shiite-majority areas. The Sunni-based group Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for most of the attacks.
The single largest death toll came in the town of Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad. Bombs planted near five houses in the predominantly Sunni town exploded an hour after dawn. When police and other rescue workers rushed to the scene, a suicide bomber infiltrated the crowd and blew himself up. All told, 41 people were killed.
Two more suicide bombers using car bombs attacked joint Iraqi army and police patrols in the northern metropolis of Mosul, a predominantly Sunni city near the Syrian border, killing seven people. Four more people were killed in Mosul in separate attacks.
The attacks in Taji and Mosul were the only suicide attacks among the 40 or so reported for the day—a fact that suggests a shift in tactics by AQI. All the other incidents involved bombs placed in cars or buildings and detonated remotely, or attacks by gunmen who engaged in combat with troops or police and then withdrew.
In the most ambitious attack, several carloads of men attacked Iraqi army facilities in Udaim, between Baghdad and the northern oil city of Kirkuk. They used rocket launchers and grenades, overran at least one of the outposts, killed 16 soldiers and took an officer prisoner, and then escaped.
There were another eight car bombs in Kirkuk and its environs, hitting police convoys and patrols and killing at least nine people, with another 32 wounded.
Monday’s attacks were the most widespread of the year, affecting six of Iraq’s 18 provinces, and extending, hour after hour, from the far north to the far south of the country. Among the towns hit were Husseiniya, Tuz, Dujail, Balad and Baquba, all north of the capital; Sadr City, the huge Shiite suburb on the eastern end of Baghdad; and Diwaniya, a largely Shiite city in the south.
After the bomb blast in Diwaniya—when a car exploded at a busy vegetable market, killing five people and wounding 32—local residents denounced police and began smashing police cars, before marching on government buildings. Police opened fire on the crowd, killing one demonstrator and wounding dozens more.
There were further attacks July 26, killing at least 19 people, the majority of them policemen, as the Islamic fundamentalists continued to target security forces rather than civilians. One Iraqi army helicopter was forced down by hostile fire near Diyala, northeast of Baghdad, after it was called in to assist security forces attacked at a checkpoint near Hadid, in a rural part of Diyala province.
After a lull of more than three months, bomb attacks and shootings escalated sharply during the month of June, when at least 237 people were killed and 603 wounded, most of them Shiite civilians killed in attacks on processions and other religious ceremonies. According to a United Nations accounting, 2,101 Iraqis were killed in violent attacks from January to June of this year, compared with 1,832 in the first half of 2011.
The latest round of attacks appeared timed for the start of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, which began Friday, July 20 for most Sunni Muslims, and Saturday, July 21 for most Shiites. Those observing the daytime fast typically take their meals late at night and sleep late in the morning. The shootings and bombings started just after dawn Monday, and in several cases soldiers and police were asleep when their outposts were attacked.
The reputed leader of AQI, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, issued a statement Sunday calling for an offensive against the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The Islamic fundamentalist group, which alienated much of the Iraqi population through indiscriminate massacres of civilians during the sectarian civil war of 2007-2008, has sought to revive its fortunes by posing as the defender of the Sunni minority against the Shiite-based regime in Baghdad.
The puppet forces placed in power by the US invasion and occupation of Iraq have fractured along ethnic and religious lines over the past two years, despite the formation of a coalition government of all the major parties at the end of 2010, after enormous pressure from the Obama administration.
The Sunni-based Iraqiya party, despite winning the most seats in parliament, has been largely excluded from positions of power. It has been boycotting parliament and cabinet activities in response to an arrest warrant issued for the Sunni vice-president, Tariq al-Hashemi, last December, charging him with involvement in terrorist attacks.
The government of the autonomous Kurdish region in the north conducts itself as a virtually independent power, negotiating separate deals with major oil companies and with neighboring Turkey. In defiance of orders from Maliki. Al-Hashemi fled to the Kurdish region after his arrest was ordered, and regional president Massoud Barzani has refused to turn him over to the national government.
Sectarian tensions within the bourgeoisie have been exacerbated by the ongoing civil war in Syria. The Maliki government openly sympathizes with the beleaguered regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, based largely on the minority Alawites, a branch of Shiism; Sunni politicians have sided with the US-backed opposition, drawn largely from the Sunni majority in Syria.
The mounting violence in Iraq thus reflects both the long-term impact of the US invasion and occupation of that country, as well as the most recent intervention by American imperialism that seeks to destabilize neighboring Syria.
There is ongoing discussion of further US military action in the region. Obama administration officials and leading congressmen cited the wave of bombing in Iraq as an indication that Al Qaeda in Iraq was planning to strike targets in the United States.
Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told the House Homeland Security Committee that statements from AQI and the arrest of several “associates” of the group in the United States and Canada highlighted “the potential threat posed to the United States.”
Once again, unverified claims of threats of “terrorism” are being used to justify US military aggression and political subversion in a country that has already suffered an historic catastrophe from eight years of war and occupation.

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President Bush Should be Criminally Investigated for Torture’

Video by RussiaToday

Philippe Sands is a Professor of Law at University College, London. In his new book “Torture Team”, Sands explores the legality and ramifications of the US program of state-sponsored torture behind closed doors at Guantanamo Bay. In an RT interview, Sands discusses the possibility of one day bringing those responsible to justice.
Posted July 07, 2012

Russia Today: So what torture or interrogation techniques have actually been used at Guantanamo?
Phillipe Sands: Well, it’s pretty well established now what emerged. They adopted in the autumn of 2002, in the US Department of Defense a series of 18 techniques of interrogation arranged in three groups. The first group was shouting and screaming. The second group upped the ante, so to speak, and included sleep deprivation and the use of dogs to induce fear. And then category three, the worst of all, included water-boarding and the use of water to induce misperceptions of suffocation. That document emerged after the Abu Ghraib images emerged, and I was interested to find out how a country which has turned its back against torture could have moved to adopt these techniques of interrogation. 
So I began, really sort of in 2005, to begin to look more closely through a series of interviews across the United States on what had happened. And what had been done by the administration was to spin a story which effectively said it started down at Guantanamo – there were a group of individuals down at Guantanamo – and that it had then worked its way up the system. What I established was that story was not accurate. What had happened was that it had started at the top and then worked its way down with significant pressure from the Pentagon in particular, and people around the White House. So the tone was very different from the one which the administration has spun.
RT: How easy was it to uncover that truth?
PS: I began by knowing that I had to speak to people who had not previously spoken down at Guantanamo, and I focused on the lawyers. And I began to approach a number of lawyers. And once I had found one lawyer who was willing to speak with me, who was a staff judge advocate down at Guantanamo who was involved at the time back in 2002, once she had given me an account of what had happened, I could then go to the next person and say, ‘well, publicly it says this, but I’ve now been told by this person who worked underneath you, that this is in fact what happened, would you care to comment on it?’ And the door would then begin to open.
RT: What are the implications of your findings? I mean, you argue in your book that some of these techniques equate to war crimes, is that right?
PS: Well, I focused on the interrogation of one individual, detainee number 63, alleged to be the 20th September the 11th highjacker, a man called Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi national, and I focused in particular on what had happened to him in the period of November of 2002 to January of 2003. I reached the conclusion without any real difficulty that he had been subject to techniques that amount to torture. Torture is an international crime, whether you call it a crime against humanity or a war crime, it’s prohibited under international law. 
The United States is a party to an international convention that outlaws it, and the bottom line of it is that if you engage in torture as a state, you are responsible, and you are responsible to do a number of things, and one of the things you have to do is you have to investigate. You have to investigate what happened, and that has never fully occurred. Even the administration of President Obama has, if you like, turned its back on the possibility of a proper investigation to ascertain who authorized what, when, precisely. It wasn’t a few bad eggs. It was people right up at the top.
RT: Namely?
PS: Well, President Bush ultimately said he signed off on water-boarding, and that happened in the summer of 2002 with a group of individuals present at the top – Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice was involved in the process – and various lawyers in the National Security Council and in the Department of Justice who signed off on water-boarding. They approved water-boarding, they gave their support to water-boarding, and that to me was shocking. So what I wanted to know was how could, in particular, lawyers that have been to the finest law schools in the world – to Harvard, to Duke, Georgetown, I mean, terrific law schools – how had they got themselves into a state where they were willing to sign off on techniques that amounted to torture? 
RT: And what was their answer?
PS: Well, I think there was a sense of intense pressure that the United States was under and unparalleled threat, and I don’t think that’s a justification or an excuse, or a reason, but there was a tremendous sense of pressure coupled with the fact that a number of the lawyers involved at very senior levels had no real background in the subject of international law – 
the protection of the rights of the individual – and were very ideological in their approach. Basically, they saw their function as lawyers; not as being there to give independent legal advice, but to give the president the tools to do what he wanted to do. That’s not the function of a lawyer in any society, in any democratic society. 
RT: But surely water boarding rings alarm bells with any lawyer?
PS: It should have rung alarm bells, and it did ring alarm bells in many parts. What I established was that two of the major organs of government in the United States were cut out of the process. The military, the upper echelons of the military, were cut out of the process by Donald Rumsfeld and General Counsel Jim Haynes. And the State Department was cut out of the process, and the lawyers at the State Department and the lawyers at the Department of Defense; the career military lawyers know better than anyone that it’s in the United States best interests not to engage in this kind of activity. So they were cut out of the process, and instead you’ve got a group of ideologues brought in to give the president the tools to do what he wanted to do, irrespective of whether there was a reasonable argument that it was lawful or not. 
RT: Which individual moment that you investigated would you say shocked you most? 
PS: When I was speaking with the folks who were down at Guantanamo, I discovered, and my book actually broke the story, that one of the influences in the autumn of 2002 was a television program called “24”, which was a TV program about the use of torture which promotes the idea really that torture works; it produces results, is a sensible way to proceed. And one of the people that I interviewed confirmed to me, actually unexpectedly because I really hadn’t asked the question, that “24” was a big influence and it created an environment, and you began to see the connection between popular cultural TV programs and what people do. That was shocking. 
RT: So is there any chance those responsible for what went on at Guantanamo Bay will actually be held to account? 
PS: There’s already some degree of accountability, I mean, there’s a group who are known as ‘The Bush Six’, the six main lawyers at the top of the Bush administration: the former attorney general Alberto Gonzales, the former Department of Defense lawyer Jim Haynes, some of the Department of Justice lawyers, John Yoo, Jay Bybee. It’s very difficult for them to set foot outside the United States now; there’s every possibility that they could be subject to questioning if they were to set foot outside the United States. So there’s some degree of accountability, but my position is that this is a breach of law, this is potentially a crime, and you need a criminal investigation. And that has not happened. And there’s no indication that it will happen. 
RT: What about former President Bush? Is there a chance he could actually be charged with war crimes? 
PS: I mean, President Bush has rather brazenly given a series of interviews in which he says water boarding is right, ‘if I had to do it, I’d do it again’. Dick Cheney said the same thing, and has taken responsibility for it, and that’s had certain consequences in the sense that some of his international travel has been limited. He was due last year to go to Switzerland; that didn’t happen it is said, because there were questions. There have been protests when he’s gone to Canada, and who knows what will happen over time? One of the things that I was involved with many years ago was the case of Pinochet. That was of course a different time, a different scale, but it took 25 years for the wheels of justice to sort of creak into motion, and one day visiting London he was arrested. So these things take time. You don’t know when these things are going to produce results, or what’s going to happen, and the question of responsibility hangs in the ether. 
RT: Moving us onto to other matters now, Saif Gaddafi’s trial. Libya’s announced that the trial will go ahead in Libya under their laws, but given what happened to his father, surely there are concerns over Libya’s ability to actually hold a fair trial?
PS: Yes, I think there are concerns about a fair trial; Libya’s not a country which over the past four decades has come to be associated with the highest standards of criminal justice. I think it’s reasonable to conclude that there are problems. Saif Gaddafi has been indicted internationally. I think there are good arguments on trying him in Libya or trying him in the international criminal court. But if he’s tried in Libya, the proceedings have to meet minimum international standards, and that can be done in a variety of ways, but you can’t have summary justice. 
RT: But since the arrest warrant was actually issued by the International Criminal Court, then surely there isn’t any actual legal framework for Libya to hold the trial?
PS: The International Criminal Court works on the basis of a principle called “complimentarily.” The ICC, the international court in The Hague, steps in if justice is not done locally. So if justice is not done locally, there has to be an international trial. If the Libyans can demonstrate to the international criminal court that they can meet minimum international standards, then they’re free to try him domestically. But I think they’re going to have to show to the international criminal court judges that they meet those international standards, and I suspect Saif Gaddafi himself would be rather happy at being tried in the Hague, where he knows he’s going to get minimal rights, and of course he’s not going to get the death penalty. 
RT: You’ve also written extensively about the Iraq war and the legal issues surrounding that. Do you see any similarities between the run up to what happened then and what’s happening now in the standoff between Iran and the west? 
PS: Iraq went very wrong. I think we know it went very wrong. And there are very few people in this country, in the United Kingdom, who now really want to stand up for Iraq on policy grounds, and even fewer on legal grounds. I focused on it as a legal matter; it was not, in my view, authorized by the Security Council, it did not meet international legal requirements, and it was therefore an illegal war. But I think lessons have been learned from that experience. We saw some of that in relation to Libya. We saw that the Security Council did adopt a resolution, Russia and China did not veto a resolution permitting some use of force. The question as to whether they exceeded the mandate, there’s a debate about that. But there was a Security Council resolution. Iran is working its way through the Security Council, who knows which way it will go, but I suspect the lesson of Iraq is such that it will be very difficult to imagine the kind of coordinated military response with a large number of countries involved, a la Iraq, in the case of Iran in the absence of proper Security Council authorization.

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The Longest War: Overcoming Lies and Indifference

By Kathy Kelly

July 03, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — In April of 2003, I returned from Iraq after having lived there during the U.S. Shock and Awe bombing and the initial weeks of the invasion. Before the bombing I had traveled to Iraq about two dozen times and had helped organize 70 trips to Iraq, aiming to cast light on a brutal sanctions regime, with the “Voices in the Wilderness” campaign. As the bombing had approached, we had given our all to helping organize a remarkable worldwide peace movement effort, one which may have come closer than any before it to stopping a war before it started. But, just as we’d failed to lift the vicious and lethally punitive economic sanctions against Iraq before the war, we also failed to stop the war and the devastating civil war it created. 
So it was April and I’d returned home, devastated at our failure. My mother possessed ample reserves of Irish charm, motherly wisdom, and–when it came to politics–an analysis consistent with that of Fox News. She knew I was distraught and, aiming to comfort me, she said in her soft, lilting voice: “Kathy, dear, what you don’t understand is that the people of Iraq could have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein a long time ago, and they ought to have done so, and they didn’t. So we went in there and did it for them.” She clearly hoped I could share her relief that the U.S. could lend a helping hand in that part of the world. “And they ought to be grateful, and they’re not.”
My mother, then in her eighties, was actually quite anti-war, but she was also against evil dictators. If a war could be packaged as necessary to achieving humanitarian goals, then my mother would almost certainly join the majority of U.S. people, over the past decade or so, in tolerating wars or at least enduring them with a general indifference to any accounts of the human suffering the wars might cause.
Although the war in Afghanistan is often referred to as the longest war in U.S. history, the multistage war in Iraq, beginning in 1991 and inclusive of 13 years of continual bombardment and nightmarish, generation-wasting economic warfare waged through militarily-enforced sanctions, constitutes the longest war, one which in real terms is of course ongoing.
John Tirman (MIT) attempted in his book ”The Deaths of Others” (Oxford University Press, 2011) to understand how U.S. people could be so indifferent to the suffering caused by U.S. military actions. He was following up on his seminal study of Iraq war casualties, released by John Hopkins and printed in The Lancet, which had concluded that in the three and a half years following Shock and Awe, the war and its effects had killed upwards of 660,000 Iraqis. This credible report, backed by prestigious academic institutions, had been ignored by the government, and thus also by the media, allowing a disinterested public to avoid learning information they’d mostly been careful not to ask for.
His eventual explanation focuses on how hard U.S. war planners (and war profiteers) have worked to overcome “the Vietnam Syndrome,” which is to say the healthy democratic rejection of the Vietnam War, which authorities across the liberal-to-conservative spectrum have tended to see as a sort of disease to be eliminated. The inoculation campaign had been very effective. By creating an all-volunteer army, by carefully regimenting and “embedding” reporters and relentlessly emphasizing “humanitarian” goals to be achieved by any exercise of our power overseas, the U.S. military-industrial complex has been able to ensure that the majority of U.S. people won’t rise up in protest of our wars. If the public can be persuaded that a war is essentially humanitarian, Tirman believes their indifference can be counted on, in spite of the number of U.S. soldiers killed or maimed or psychologically disabled by their wartime experiences, regardless of the drain on U.S. economies however stricken or depressed, and without any apparent concern for or even awareness of the horrendous consequences borne by the communities overseas that are the targets of our massively armed humanitarianism.
A few years ago, many people disenchanted with the Iraq and Afghan wars placed hope in Barack Obama as someone who would uphold the laws–including international law–ratified by U.S. Congresses past against international aggression and war crime, ending abuses by the U.S. military, its private-sector contractors, and the CIA that have so contributed to worldwide hostility against the U.S. and have arguably greatly lessened our security. But the Obama administration, in its de facto continuation of both wars, in its massive escalation of targeted assassinations worldwide and its secrecy about drone warfare against Pakistan, has repeatedly shown our government’s unshakeable allegiance to militarists and radically right-wing advocates of corporate power we’re often now asked to call “centrists.”
I think we in the peace and antiwar movements find ourselves stalemated. Groups are outspent and outmaneuvered by military and corporate institutions with power to undercut whatever clout our movements might have developed because these two complexes have now arrogated so much antidemocratic control over the media and the economy. Nonetheless, grassroots groups persist with arduous and often heroic efforts to continue educating their constituencies and reminding ordinary people that the defense industry is not providing them with any of the security that it assuredly isn’t providing for people trapped in our war zones.
What direction should the peace and antiwar movements pursue now? Now, when it seems difficult to point toward substantial possible gains? Now, as the U.S. continues to wage multiple wars and build on a weapons stockpile that already exceeds the combined arsenals of the next most militarized eighteen countries on Earth? In advance or in retreat, we have to keep resisting. Surely, we must continue basic “maintenance” tasks of outreach and education. Voices for Creative Nonviolence tries to assist in educating the general public about people who bear the brunt of our wars, so we travel to war zones and live alongside ordinary people, trying, upon our return, to get their stories through to ordinary people in the U.S. We hope that by doing so we can eventually help motivate civil society into action to oppose these wars. But while working to preserve the heart of the society, its civilization in the best meaning of that term, we know we must always organize for and participate in campaigns designed to have the greatest possible impact on policymakers now, and through them on those whose lives are so desperately at stake. That commitment is part of our message to our neighbors to reclaim their humanity through action.
It’s not just each other’s hearts but also each other’s minds that citizens of a democracy are called upon to exercise. We must constantly appeal to the rationality of the general public, engaging in humble dialogue so they can appeal to ours, helping people see that U.S. war-making does not make people safer here or abroad, that in fact we are jeopardized as well – if only by the intense anger and frustration caused by policies like targeted assassination, night raids, and aerial bombings of civilians.
We should celebrate the tremendous accomplishment of Occupy Wall Street. In just twelve weeks the “99 and 1” logos reintroduced people, worldwide, to the normality of discussing, in all manner of public discussions, the fundamental unfairness of systems designed to benefit small elites at the expense of vast majorities. And the OWS movement welcomed anyone and everyone into solidarity in building towards more humane, more just, and more democratic communities. The peace movement should participate in and encourage this remarkable network, and similar organizations that will spring up to complement it, not only to demand more jobs and better wages but also to stipulate what kinds of jobs we want and what kinds of products we want those jobs devoted to creating. We must campaign for jobs that build our society instead of converting it into junk, that produce constructive and necessary goods and services and above all not the weapons that we employ in prisons and battlefields at home and abroad.
We must think hard about ways to democratize our country, and reverse the “unwarranted influence” over our society which, half a century ago, a Republican president was warning us already belonged to the military industrial complex. Enormous sums of money, along with human ingenuity and resources, are now being poured into developing drone warfare and surveillance to be used abroad and increasingly at home, but the more intelligence our leaders collect, the less we, the led, have access to. The drones aren’t there to help us understand the Afghan people – how they huddle together on the brink of starvation, dared to survive the capricious and uncivilized behavior of a nation gone mad on war. Have we any means of imposing civilization, not on desperate people around the world, but on those who lack it – the elites that control our military, our economy, and our government?
And honestly, I couldn’t persuade my own mother. I should admit here to a recent conversation with my sisters, the oldest of whom recently shared, “We weren’t sure whether or not to tell you, but mom really did hope you were working for the CIA.”
We never know how we will influence others and what unexpected developments might happen. The destiny of a world of seven billion people should never be shaped by a few activists – as it currently is shaped by a remarkably few activists occupying the U.S. Pentagon, our business centers, and the White House. We’re not supposed to make any change we can securely claim credit for, we’re supposed to do good for the world–to speak truth to it, to resist its oppressors, to surprise it with decency, love, and an implacability for justice–and trust it to surprise us in turn.
With eyes wide open, willing to look in the mirror, (I’m drawing from the titles of two extraordinarily impressive campaigns designed by the American Friends Service Committee), we must persist with the tasks of education and outreach, looking for nonviolent means to take risks commensurate to the crimes being committed, all the while growing ever more open to links with popular movements and respectful alliances well outside our choir. We must civilize the world by examples of clear-sightedness and courage. We’re supposed to do what anyone is supposed to do: live as full humans, as best we can, in a world whose destiny we can never predict, and whose astonishingly precious inhabitants could never be given enough justice, or love, or time.

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Unending Wars against Mankind: Afghanistan and Iraq

Democracy at Work: To re-visit the wounds of the Abu Ghraib
By Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD

June 01, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — “Savaged by dogs, Electrocuted with Cattle Prods, Burned by Toxic Chemicals, Does such barbaric abuse inside U.S. jails explain the horrors that were committed in Iraq?
They are just some of the victims of wholesale torture taking place inside the U.S. prison system that we uncovered during a four-month investigation for BBC Channel 4 . It’s terrible to watch some of the videos and realise that you’re not only seeing torture in action but, in the most extreme cases, you are witnessing young men dying. 
The prison guards stand over their captives with electric cattle prods, stun guns, and dogs. Many of the prisoners have been ordered to strip naked. The guards are yelling abuse at them, ordering them to lie on the ground and crawl. ‘Crawl, mother f*****s, crawl.’ 
If a prisoner doesn’t drop to the ground fast enough, a guard kicks him or stamps on his back. There’s a high-pitched scream from one man as a dog clamps its teeth onto his lower leg. Another prisoner has a broken ankle. He can’t crawl fast enough so a guard jabs a stun gun onto his buttocks. The jolt of electricity zaps through his naked flesh and genitals. For hours afterwards his whole body shakes. 
Lines of men are now slithering across the floor of the cellblock while the guards stand over them shouting, prodding and kicking. Second by second, their humiliation is captured on a video camera by one of the guards. 
The images of abuse and brutality he records are horrifyingly familiar. These were exactly the kind of pictures from inside Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad that shocked the world this time last year. (Deborah Davies, “Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons” 03/28/2005)
Linked to the US Presidential election campaigns, the hurriedly called this week’s Chicago Conference of the sixty or so participating leaders is no joke but had its spill-over reasoning to view:
That President Obama is actively politicking about the recalls of the troops from the war zones something he promised to do four years earlier,
Accelerating the number game like the stock markets that counts in an election campaign – Obama’s standing in public perception to be converted by the hourly paid American opinion experts
Deflect on negative imagery that Mitt Romney- the Republican candidate is creating to beat Obama
To enlarge Obama’s failing image into worldview that he is actively engaging the global leaders to find amicable solutions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Iran and lot more – the stage acting – the fuzzy pretension of doing something for the global audience.
Nothing concrete could have emerged because America, its leaders, its economy and not to talk of the most powerful military-industrial complex making difference in the election campaigns, all are for continuous warfare, not for peace
Some of the dummy global leaders more so from Europe and Asia, got opportunity to divert public attention from the home-grown financial disasters and austerity measures for being non-productive and incompetent to deal with any major issues facing their people – much unemployed and raising voices of REASON against the transitory leadership. Pictures with Obama could make them see different games in varied perspectives – all linked to opinion making at home and abroad. Opinions are not the facts or truth but simple ideas without substance of reality.
At least, Obama and his invited colleagues wanted to be seen politically active not sitting dummies like the Arab-Muslim leaders, consuming fatty dinners and unable to talk anything worth of moral or intellectual reasoning and most authoritarians specialize in doing nothing for their own people
The staged drama – tragedy spells out its own rationale that none of these conferences will contribute to address the real world problems in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan and Iran as they were not intended to tackle any problems except uttering lies, deceptions and pretensions and making bogus statements to mislead the global citizenry. After all, it is an election year in America – the former superpower now financially defunct country under the austerity measures of 14 trillion dollars or more (borrowed and used from the unknown future) that does not know what is next in waiting in all the crises situation, it engineered to support its war economy and including its replacement in global politics by another nation or group of productive Asian nations.
The unraveling impacts and tragic consequences of wars do not end with paper declarations or political statements as to when the invading armies are to be withdrawn. Wars leave scars for generations to be victimized emotionally, politically, intellectually and anything else that can be imagined in human terms of unknown disasters. Long after sixty years of the 2nd World War, the Europeans and others have not recovered its dehumanized consequences of their own perpetuated insanity and barbarity for no obvious purpose of rationality except borders, flags and a primitive sense of pride and nationalism. In the 21st century politics, America is leading in all of these stone-aged qualities to be the lost Empire without being an Empire. 
Wars are planned and orchestrated by the few, the privileged ruling elite; the humanity becomes the targeted victims of the few for global hegemonic governance. Throughout the ages, the conscientious mankind searched for ways to undo the war and strive for peace, the real aim for the establishments of international institutions. But now the global institutional capacity to deal with peace and conflict management appears in ruin with the continued onslaught of the American led so called War on Terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Realizing the eminent defeats by the handful forces of Talaban, the allies are gathered to make their presence known for propaganda purposes to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan and global audience. Talaban fighting the intruders are not the foreigners but people of the land. The US, British and others paid agents are foreigner mercenaries fighting in a foreign land, culturally unknown and unconquerable by their armed forces. Piety and peacemaking vis-à-vis aggression and wickedness cannot be combined as credible attributes in ones mindset and one human character. Now, the issue is, how conveniently, the aggressors want to redefine their strategic role and ambitions in Afghanistan as peacemakers as if they have achieved the goals of their aggression. Imagine, Adolph Hitler while occupying France and continuing bombing of London, wanted to organize a peace conference. Would it have been a logical discourse for the French and British people to talk peacemaking with the aggressor? Bush and Hitler had lot in common as both claimed to have the divine support for their mission. Both tried to destroy the living humanity but fell in disgrace and met ultimate defeats.
A week earlier, Talaban spokesman while talking to the BBC reporter in the Arab world, made it clear that they believe in peacemaking but all the foreign forces must leave Afghanistan. The same logic that French and British politicians would have implied to Hitler. Could the facts of human life be changed, be it Iraq, Afghanistan or the occurrences of the 2nd World War?
The people of Iraq and Afghanistan need change for peace and normalcy. The change can only happen if the US led occupying forces after the withdrawal would compensate the victim nations and rebuild their essential social-economic and humanitarian infrastructures destroyed by the ferocious wars. The same formula used at the end of the WW2. The same legal principle is needed that the aggressors be brought to legal and political accountability in an international war tribunal such as Nuremberg tribunal after the end of the WW2. E. H Carr, the famous historian, had emphasized that history has learning role for the future. Those who defy the logic of learning were lost without a trace.
The aggressors have succumbed to public opposition and will withdraw most of their combat forces by 2014. In other words, the invading armies have been defeated by the mujahideens and are unable to carry out any further brutality in those regions. Would the aggressors tell the humanity, when would they end the continued wars? So that the victims could think openly and plan for change and peaceful transfer to making of their own future. This is the issue that the current gathering of the sixty or so nations at Chicago avoided to discuss. The assembly was not for peacemaking but for prolonging the failing war efforts. The leaders wanted to discuss aftermath of the 2014 withdrawals and strategic arrangements with the Afghan government for training and rebuilding, a typical western materialistic scenario to help the impoverished nations. Recall that Karazi shall end his presidency in 2014, so what is the legitimacy of talking beyond that time span? The aid gimmick is an attractive illusion to entrap the needy nations and exploit their resources for the good of the occupying forces. The US and Britain survive on borrowed money from the future generations as their own financial institutions have collapsed and so are the political powerhouses and working agencies. But the aid’s long term purpose is to create more beggars and poverty and dependent nations asking for external aid and to survive on borrowed future and resources. The discussion developmental aid and withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan sends a clear signal of defeat and prospective surrender to the Talaban fighting for the freedom of their homeland.
Future must be anew, not the repetition of the past. Future making does not lie with the aggressors nor with the failed international institutions, it is with the will and resolve of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan to oust the aggressors and recover their homes and habitats for rebuilding their lives and human dignity. Taken at their face value what Commander Bush claimed at the time that the US led forces went to Iraq and Afghanistan in pursuit of freedom, liberty and justice for the people. Instead they planned and developed the institutions of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Belgraham prison in Afghanistan. Facts speak for themselves. All you need to do is to see the outcomes, the triumphs of the American version of liberty, human rights and justice, the horrifying photos of the prisoners are easily available through the internet, speaking their own language of the American-British civilized achievements in the Arab-Islamic world. Mr. Karzai, the self-made president of Afghanistan does not have any vision or sense of reality that he will not be the president after 2014. So what nonsense he is talking about to have strategic alliance with the US forces beyond the 2014? Mr. Karzai or others in attendance, the Arab-Muslim staged puppets do not represent the interests and priorities of the Muslim Ummah. The people of the Islamic world view them all as pan on the global political chessboard being financed, supported and kept in office to undermine the future of the people of Afghanistan and the Muslim world. They are seen as part of the problem, not part of any workable solution.
Afghan landscape tells its own story with millions uprooted from ancestral homes and forced to go to foreign countries in search of protection and mere human survival. The aggressors do not wish to see the problem, that they are the real problem, not otherwise. How soon the aggressors would leave Afghanistan, nobody can tell. The ancient and civilized people of Iraq and Afghanistan know it well who are the peacemakers and who are the aggressors. The aggressors appear desperate to quit but the Chicago conference seems to indicate that urgent necessity but intellectually confused, morally corrupt and with high rates of self-suicidal deaths US-British militarily apparatus exhausted, and not sure how best to get out of the terrible mess they have created for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and the whole of the humanity. At the Chicago gathering, Obama stated “a responsible end to the war”, but failed to define what he meant after being in office for four years and failing to honor all of his previous election promises and now killings of several thousands of innocents in Pakistan by drone attacks and displacing millions in Afghanistan’s continued warfare. Does President Obama enjoy the credibility to be taken seriously for any statements or promises for the future? Recently, a Malaysian international legal tribunal has issued the judgment and declared George Bush and Tony Blair as responsible for crimes against the humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan. Would the Western world’s responsible legal authorities take the necessary action to implement the verdict of the international tribunal? A century earlier C.E, M. Joad (Guide to Modern Wickedness), captioned the human tragedy in these words:
“….Human nature is at least in part wicked and in part foolish, how can human beings be prevented from suffering from the results of their wickedness and folly? ….Men simply do not see that war is foolish and useless and wicked. They think on occasion that it is necessary and wise and honourable, for war is not the work of bad men knowing themselves to be wrong, but of good men passionately convinced that they are right.”
Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja shares interests and expertise in global security, peace and conflict resolution and in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking, Lambert Publishing, Germany, 5/2012.

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Iraq’s “Grim Reaper” Madeleine Albright Gets Humanitarian Award

By Felicity Arbuthnot
        ‘There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.’ Madeleine Albright 
May 01, 2012 —- As the anniversary of probably one of the most infamous responses in broadcasting history approaches, the woman who uttered it is shortly to be awarded “the highest honour” that America bestows upon civilians: the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Madeleine Albright, Iraq’s “Grim Reaper”, of course confirmed on “Sixty Minutes” (12th May 1996) that the deaths of half a million children as a result of the absolute, all-embracing deprivations of the UN embargo were: “A hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.”

Her comment also further endorsed the extent to which the United Nations had soiled its own founding affirmation to: “Save succeeding generations from the scourge of war..” by declaring a new method of warfare, the withdrawal and denial of all life-sustaining necessities. Albright, at the time of her astonishing statement was US Ambassador the UN (1993-1997).

Ironically, as a child she and her Czechoslovak family, her father a diplomat, lived in London during the 1939-’45 war, and whilst there she appeared in a film on the plight of children in war.

In her autobiography, she describes how her experience and knowledge of the horrors and repercussions of war were also shaped by the terrible consequences for a small state when it collides with the ambitions of interests of a big one. Iraq’s twenty five million population and America’s three hundred and fifty million again come to mind.

She enjoined in further heaping misery on Iraq’s most vulnerable as US Secretary of State (1997-2001.) Perhaps, as many, for good or ill, she was shaped by her childhood. When her family returned to Prague after the war, controversy was caused by their being given a home owned by a wealthy German family. Germans were expelled from the country, by Prime Ministerial decree after the war.

At least it was only a house. The government she had served went on to take over – and comprehensively ruin plunder and further impoverish – two countries and their peoples.

For the annals of: “You Could Not Make It Up”, Ms Albright’s current positions include being Co-Chair of the United Nations Development Programme’s Commission for Legal Empowerment of the poor, which: “works to make real improvements in people’s lives (fostering) economic growth, poverty reduction, human development” and making the: “law work for everyone.”

In Sept 2006 she received Menschen in Europe Award for furthering the cause of international understanding. Orwell strikes again.

On 26th April, announcing the thirteen recipients of the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom Award, President Obama commended Madeleine Albright for her efforts to bring peace to the Middle East …. Reduce the spread of nuclear weapons, and for her role as a longtime champion of democracy and human rights all over the world. (The Daily Beast, April 26)

“These extraordinary honorees (have) challenged us … inspired us, and they’ve made the world a better place”, said the President.

The Medal honours those who have significantly contributed to: “world peace.”

Reading this “Adventures of a Heroine” fantasy story, the memories of the Iraqi mothers I have held, their tears mingling with mine, or dampening my shoulder, as they watched helplessly as their children faded away in front of us, for want of medications, denied by Albright’s country and the UN she served, flooded back.

The funerals, with the litany of coffins, so small, the impossibly little grave sites beyond counting, throughout Iraq, witness to unique wickedness.

But Madam Albright is right on one thing. There is indeed: “a special place in hell, for women who don’t help other women.” Her Award may yet haunt her to become the ultimate poisoned chalice. Here’s hoping.

– Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger’s Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.) She contributed this article to

The Children of Fallujah – the Hospital of Horrors

Stillbirths, disabilities, deformities too distressing to describe – what lies behind the torments in Fallujah General Hospital?
By Robert Fisk
April 27, 2012 “The Independent” – – The pictures flash up on a screen on an upper floor of the Fallujah General Hospital. And all at once, Nadhem Shokr al-Hadidi’s administration office becomes a little chamber of horrors. A baby with a hugely deformed mouth. A child with a defect of the spinal cord, material from the spine outside the body. A baby with a terrible, vast Cyclopean eye. Another baby with only half a head, stillborn like the rest, date of birth 17 June, 2009. Yet another picture flicks onto the screen: date of birth 6 July 2009, it shows a tiny child with half a right arm, no left leg, no genitalia.
“We see this all the time now,” Al-Hadidi says, and a female doctor walks into the room and glances at the screen. She has delivered some of these still-born children. “I’ve never seen anything as bad as this in all my service,” she says quietly. Al-Hadidi takes phone calls, greets visitors to his office, offers tea and biscuits to us while this ghastly picture show unfolds on the screen. I asked to see these photographs, to ensure that the stillborn children, the deformities, were real. There’s always a reader or a viewer who will mutter the word “propaganda” under their breath.
But the photographs are a damning, ghastly reward for such doubts. January 7, 2010: a baby with faded, yellow skin and misshapen arms. April 26, 2010: a grey mass on the side of the baby’s head. A doctor beside me speaks of “Tetralogy of Fallot”, a transposition of the great blood vessels. May 3, 2010: a frog-like creature in which – the Fallujah doctor who came into the room says this – “all the abdominal organs are trying to get outside the body.”
This is too much. These photographs are too awful, the pain and emotion of them – for the poor parents, at least – impossible to contemplate. They simply cannot be published.
There is a no-nonsense attitude from the doctors in Fallujah. They know that we know about this tragedy. Indeed, there is nothing undiscovered about the child deformities of Fallujah. Other correspondents – including my colleague Patrick Cockburn – have visited Fallujah to report on them. What is so shameful is that these deformities continue unmonitored. One Fallujah doctor, an obstetrician trained in Britain – she left only five months ago – who has purchased from her own sources for her private clinic a £79,000 scanning machine for prenatal detection of congenital abnormalities, gives me her name and asks why the Ministry of Health in Baghdad will not hold a full official investigation into the deformed babies of Fallujah.
“I have been to see the ministry,” she says. “They said they would have a committee. I went to the committee. And they have done nothing. I just can’t get them to respond.” Then, 24 hours later, the same woman sends a message to a friend of mine, another Iraqi doctor, asking me not to use her name.
If the number of stillborn children of Fallujah is a disgrace, the medical staff at the Fallujah General Hospital prove their honesty by repeatedly warning of the danger of reaching conclusions too soon.
“I delivered that baby,” the obstetrician says as one more picture flashes on the screen. “I don’t think this has anything to do with American weapons. The parents were close relatives. Tribal marriages here involve a lot of families who are close by blood. But you have to remember, too, that if women have stillborn children with abnormalities at home, they will not report this to us, and the baby will be buried without any record reaching us.”
The photographs continue on the screen. January 19, 2010: a baby with tiny limbs, stillborn. A baby born on 30 October, 2010, with a cleft lip and cleft palette, still alive, a hole in the heart, a defect in its face, in need of echocardiography treatment. “A cleft lip and palate are common congenital anomalies,” Dr Samira Allani says quietly. “But it’s the increased frequency that is alarming.” Dr Allani has documented a research paper into “the increased prevalence of birth defects” in Fallujah, a study of four fathers “with two lineages of progeny”. Congenital heart defects, the paper says, reached “unprecedented numbers” in 2010.
The numbers continue to rise. Even while we are speaking, a nurse brings a message to Dr Allani. We go at once to an incubator next to the hospital delivery room. In the incubator is a little baby just 24 days old. Zeid Mohamed is almost too young to smile but he lies sleeping, his mother watching through the glass. She has given her permission for me to see her baby. His father is a security guard, the couple married three years ago. There is no family record of birth defects. But Zeid has only four fingers on each of his little hands.
Dr Allani’s computer files contain a hundred Zeids. She asks another doctor to call some parents. Will they talk to a journalist? “They want to know what happened to their children,” she says. “They deserve an answer.” She is right. But neither the Iraqi authorities, nor the Americans, nor the British – who were peripherally involved in the second battle of Fallujah and lost four men – nor any major NGO, appears willing or able to help.
When doctors can obtain funding for an investigation, they sometimes turn to organisations which clearly have their own political predetermination. Dr Allani’s paper, for example, acknowledges funding from the “Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War” – hardly a group seeking to exonerate the use of US weaponry in Fallujah. This, too, I fear, is part of the tragedy of Fallujah.
The obstetrician who asked to be anonymous talks bleakly of the lack of equipment and training. “Chromosome defects – like Down’s Syndrome – cannot be corrected prenatally. But a foetal infection we can deal with, and we can sort out this problem by drawing a sample of blood from the baby and mother. But no laboratory here has this equipment. One blood transfer is all it needs to prevent such a condition. Of course, it will not answer our questions: why the increased miscarriages here, why the increased stillbirths, why the increased premature births?”
Dr Chris Busby, a visiting professor at the University of Ulster who has surveyed almost 5,000 people in Fallujah, agrees it is impossible to be specific about the cause of birth defects as well as cancers. “Some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred in 2004 when the attacks happened,” he wrote two years ago. Dr Busby’s report, compiled with Malak Hamdan and Entesar Ariabi, says that infant mortality in Fallujah was found in 80 out of every 1,000 births, compared to 19 in Egypt, 17 in Jordan and only 9.7 in Kuwait.
Another of the Fallujah doctors tells me that the only UK assistance they have received comes from Dr Kypros Nicolaides, the head of Foetal Medicine at King’s College Hospital. He runs a charity, the Foetal Medicine Foundation, which has already trained one doctor from Fallujah. I call him up. He is bursting with anger.
“To me, the criminal aspect of all this – during the war – was that the British and the American governments could not go to Woolworths and buy some computers to even document the deaths in Iraq. So we have a Lancet publication that estimates 600,000 deaths in the war. Yet the occupying power did not have the decency to have a computer worth only £500 that would enable them to say “this body was brought in today and this was its name”.
Now you have an Arab country which has a higher number of deformities or cancers than Europe and you need a proper epidemiological study. I’m sure the Americans used weapons that caused these deformities. But now you have a goodness-knows-what government in Iraq and no study. It’s very easy to avoid to doing anything – except for some sympathetic crazy professor like me in London to try and achieve something.”
In al-Hadidi’s office, there are now photographs which defy words. How can you even begin to describe a dead baby with just one leg and a head four times the size of its body?

Iraq’s Road Back From Oblivion

Memories of sectarian war, kidnapping and child killing are fading. It is safer. But nine years since Saddam’s fall, Robert Fisk meets many who feel they have lost their homeland

By Robert Fisk

April 24, 2012 “The Independent” — “Al-Qa’ida killed two of our men here two days ago,” the cop said. “Then they called us up to tell us the name of their operation – on a police radio!” We were standing in rebuilt Fallujah, where the police request all foreigners to call by for an escort. We got six, one wearing a ski mask. You get the idea. As a police colonel said later: “Al-Qa’ida [is] still here, they are a nuisance, to me personally when I have to move around the city. But they are not what they were.”

We were standing in the old US Marine base not far from the newly re-built railway station – there are, of course, no trains – and the pale stencil of “USMC” was still on the wall. But there was dust blowing around the yard and some of the sandbags had broken open.
All the way back to Baghdad, the old American bases looked scruffy, some of the concrete blast walls had collapsed. There was a feeling of an empire departed – Britain after the Romans had left.
Not that Iraq doesn’t have problems. Its vice-president, Tareq al-Hashemi, has fled Baghdad for Iraqi Kurdistan, then flown to Qatar and then to Saudi Arabia and is touring the Gulf – to the rage of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, which has charged him with running death squads. Al-Hashemi claims that three of his men have been tortured to death in a Baghdad prison – the al-Maliki administration says only one has died, and for medical reasons.
It’s not a good story. The central government even wants to discipline the authorities at the airport at Irbil, the Kurdish capital, for allowing al-Hashemi to fly to Qatar. Britain is not a republic, but it’s a bit like Cameron calling Clegg a traitor, Clegg flees to Scotland and Cameron claims Edinburgh airport should not have let him fly to Ireland. “Iraqi law is one and it applies to all, including Kurdistan,” a government spokesman announced.
But it doesn’t. Iraqi Kurdistan is almost a separate state – it has its own flag, its own language – though at least its car registration plates are still Iraqi. All the way up the highway to Irbil, there are Iraqi police and army checkpoints – some of the police drive around in bright green-and-yellow Chevrolets – and they are a lot friendlier than the old American checkpoints where nervous, frightened US soldiers pointed their rifles at you in case you were a suicider. There’s a 40-mile stretch which is generally regarded as unsafe – it’s al-Qa’ida territory, insofar as you can use the phrase – and then you’re into Kurdistan, and the rivers froth beneath the road and the cops are even friendlier. Outside Irbil, there’s a big clearance station that looks like a customs shed. Yes, Iraq is safer, even though the old Sunni “resistance” – without any more American enemies to attack – has now announced its enemy is Iran. Well maybe.
I am on the highway with Dr Lubna Naji, a 25 year-old medical practitioner. She shakes her head. “There is no real country anymore. I talk to my friends, mostly doctors – and all talk of moving out of Iraq. They all dream of going outside. Because home is where you belong – where you are wanted. We’ve lost our sense of something that belongs to us, our homeland. We’ve lost our national identity as Iraqis.”
You hear this a lot. The government, they tell you in Baghdad, is unashamedly sectarian. And corrupt. Saad Tahr Hussein is a journalist with a sense of purpose. “For me, I prefer to die here, like a tree standing up, not to melt away.” I laugh at his mixed metaphor and he waves his hand. “That’s the difference between the older and the younger generations.” We drive past so many checkpoints together that I’m almost giddy. By the time I’m in Irbil, I’ve counted 13 different types of camouflage uniform. Those in black around Baghdad are al-Maliki’s Shia al-Dawa party. All the cops are militiamen, I’m told, in the town of al-Hawaya. Well, let them all obey the law. Monthly wages are £300 for policemen, for army officers £500. In Iraq, that’s worth risking your life for.
But what of the darkness? What happened to Iraq back in the black days of sectarian war and kidnapping and child-killing? Dr Naji shudders. “I was a fourth year medical student at the forensic medicine institute next to the mortuary and you wouldn’t believe what we saw. I remember a body coming in once. It had been decapitated and someone had sewn a dog’s head on it. Can you imagine who would do such a thing? It wasn’t sewn on very well.” Man turned into dog. It’s the kind of thing the Safavids would do, or the Mongols. We still need a psychological study of Iraq in 2005-7.
As if sovereignty isn’t a problem, the Baghdad government are claiming that the Kurds are selling oil illegally to the Iranians, depriving the government of billions of dollars. Deputy prime minister Hussein Shahristani, a victim of Saddam’s torturers – how soon we forget these sufferings of the past, although Iraqis don’t – says that the amount is so huge that it is leaving a deficit in the budget.
A senior Afghan official admitted last October that his own country was buying Kurdish petrol – that’s a long way for an oil tanker to drive – but the government has one noose to put round the Kurds. It is paying the wages of the peshmerga, Kurdistan’s security forces. “If their wages stop, they stop giving their allegiance to our leaders,” an Iraqi Kurd told me in Irbil. “We have our own problems here – over freedom of speech and demonstrations – and we should sort these things out before we start talking about having a state of our own. Anyway, Turkey is now our chief trading partner. What would they say if we demanded independence for Kurdistan?” One can imagine.

Those Laboratory Mice Were Children

Update On War Crime

By Karlos Zurutuza
April 15, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — FALLUJAH, Iraq, Apr 13, 2012 (IPS) – At Fallujahhospital they cannot offer any statistics on children born with birth defects – there are just too many. Parents don’t want to talk. “Families bury their newborn babies after they die without telling anyone,” says hospital spokesman Nadim al-Hadidi. “It’s all too shameful for them.”
“We recorded 672 cases in January but we know there were many more,” says Hadidi. He projects pictures on to a wall at his office: children born with no brain, no eyes, or with the intestines out of their body. 
Facing a frozen image of a child born without limbs, Hadidi says parents’ feelings usually range between shame and guilt. “They think it’s their fault, that there’s something wrong with them. And it doesn’t help at all when some elder tells them it’s been ‘god’s punishment’.” 
The pictures are difficult to look at. And, those responsible for all this have closed their eyes. 
“In 2004 the Americans tested all kinds of chemicals and explosive devices on us: thermobaric weapons, white phosphorous, depleted uranium…we have all been laboratory mice for them,” says Hadidi, turning off the projector. 
The months that followed the invasion of Iraq in 2003 saw persistent demonstrations against the occupation forces. But it wasn’t until 2004 when this city by the Euphrates river to the west of Baghdad saw its worst. 
On Mar. 31 of that year, images of the dismembered bodies of four mercenaries from the U.S. group Blackwater hanging from a bridge circulated around the world. Al-Qaeda claimed the brutal action – and the local population paid the price for Operation Phantom Fury that followed. According to the Pentagon, this was the biggest urban battle since Hue (Vietnam, 1968). 
The first crackdown came in April 2004 but the worst was in November of that year. Random house-to- house checks gave way to intense night bombings. The Americans said they used white phosphorus “to illuminate targets at night.” But a group of Italian journalists soon gave documentary evidence that white phosphorus had been just another of the banned weapons used against civilians by the U.S. troops. 
The total number of victims is still unknown. In fact, many of them are not born yet. 
Abdulkadir Alrawi, a doctor at Fallujah hospital, is just back from examining an intriguing new case. “This girl was born with the Dandy Walker syndrome. Her brain is split in two and I doubt she’ll survive.” As he speaks, the lights go off again in the whole hospital. 
“We lack the most basic infrastructure, how do they want us to cope with an emergency like this?” 
According to a study released by the Switzerland-based International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in July 2010, “the increases in cancer, leukaemia and infant mortality and perturbations of the normal human population birth sex ratio in Fallujah are significantly greater than those reported for the survivors of the A-Bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.” 
Researchers found there had been a 38-fold increase in leukaemia (17-fold in the Japanese locations). Reputed analysts such as Noam Chomsky have labelled such conclusions as “immensely more embarrassing than the Wikileaks leaks on Afghanistan.” 
Samira Alaani, chief doctor at Fallujah hospital, took part in a study in close collaboration with the World Health Organisation. Several tests conducted in London point to unusually large amounts of uranium and mercury in the hair root of those affected. That could be the evidence linking the use of prohibited weapons to the extent of congenital problems in Fallujah. 
Other than the white phosphorus, many point to depleted uranium (DU), a radioactive element which, according to military engineers, significantly increases the penetration capacity of shells. DU is believed to have a life of 4.5 billion years, and it has been labelled the “silent murderer that never stops killing.” Several international organisations have called on NATO to investigate whether DU was also used during the Libyan war. 
This month the Iraqi Health Ministry, in close collaboration with the WHO, will launch its first study ever on congenital malformations in the governorates of Baghdad, Anbar, Thi Qar, Suleimania, Diala and Basra. 
Sandwiched between the borders of Iran and Kuwait, Basra sits above massive oil reserves. The population in this southernmost province has suffered fighting much more than any other region: from the war with Iran in the 1980s to the Gulf War in 1991 and the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. 
A study by the University of Baghdad pointed out that cases of birth defects had increased tenfold in Basra two years before the invasion in 2003. The trend is still on the rise. 
Basra Children’s Hospital, specialising in paediatric oncology, opened in 2010. Funded with U.S. capital, this facility was initiated by former U.S. first lady Laura Bush. But like the hospital in Fallujah, this supposedly state-of-the-art facility lacks basic equipment. 
“The X-ray machine spent over a year-and-a-half stored at Basra port due to an administrative dispute over who should pay port fees. Our children would die as they waited for radiotherapy treatment that did not come,” says Laith Shakr Al-Sailhi, father of a sick boy and director of the Children’s Cancer Association of Iraq. 
“The waiting list for treatment in Baghdad is endless and time is never on the side of the patients,” says Al- Sailhi from the barracks that host his NGO headquarters next to the hospital.
“Besides, these children’s diseases also lead to economic ruin of their families. Those who can afford it pay up to 7,000 dollars in Syria or up to 12,000 dollars in Jordan for treatment. The cheapest option is Iran, with rates at an average of 5,000 dollars. 
“Today, families are flocking to Tehran for their children to be treated. Many of them are sleeping in the streets because they can’t afford to pay a hotel room.” (END) 
This article was first published at IPS

The enslavement of Iraq continues


The enslavement of Iraq continues. 47037.jpeg
Iraq: Prime Minister dictates vengeance beyond the grave.

 by Felicity Arbuthnot.

“How does blood flow from a ghost?” (In:”They Didn’t Ask: What’s After Death?” Mahmoud Darwish, 1942-2008.)*

 “Nothing so terrible has happened to us since the Crusades.” An Iraqi friend.

 In November 2010, Iraq’s former Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime  Minister, Tareq Aziz, under the shadow of execution, wrote to his lawyer requesting to be buried in Jordan and to be returned to his homeland: “after Iraq is liberated.” He feared his body would be desecrated – or exhumed by Iraq’s puppet government.

Respect for anyone, yet alone the dead, has not been an attribute which has shone from “Prime Minister” Nuri al Maliki’s US shoe-in client government.
In May 2006, al-Arabiya TV showed videotape they stated was the remains of a previous Prime Minister (1991-1993), Muhammad Hamza al Zubaydi, being kicked, his head repeatedly stomped on by a group of men. Taken into custody by US forces on 21st April 2003, his death of a “heart attack” in an American military hospital was announced on December 5th 2005, although he had died three days earlier, 2nd December. He was sixty-seven.
Iraq’s litany of pogroms since the invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein – under the occupation and the woeful “Governing Council,” occupation and al Maliki’s two predecessors, occupation and al Maliki, and now under al Maliki’s solo, vengeful regime – has equaled the infamous, from Warsaw to Kristallnacht.
“Pogrom” is not used lightly.  It is characterized by killings, destruction of homes, properties, businesses and religious centres, along with arbitrary arrests and concentrations camps.
From destruction in 2006 of Samarra’s golden domes of The Askari Shrine, where the two Imams, Ali Al-Hadi and his son Hassan Al-Askary were believed entombed, across the nation, Mosques of both Sunni and Shi’a, Christian churches and Yazidi and other minority temples and shrines have been reduced to ashes and fragments, burned and bombed. US/UK democracy in Iraq gave rise to a very democratic pogrom: no belief group or ethnicity excluded.
Also since the invasion, the terrorization, whether for religious reasons or  ransom money,  score settling or the unfathomable, in a country where people have co-existed for countless generations, has been bewildering.
Overnight (literally) Iraq changed from a land where, broadly, the streets of towns and cities could be walked safely alone late at night, to a country which awoke to find whole families in morgues bearing wounds indicating unimaginable torture. It woke to beheaded bodies chucked on rubbish dumps – and beheaded fathers and sons dumped on door steps or in front gardens.
Iraq also woke to ransom kidnappings, extortion, destruction of homes, premises, businesses – or their takeover by force.
The freedom-bringing “allies”created concentration camps at Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca, Baghdad Airport and an another alleged eleven thousand, still seemingly unaccounted for, gulags.
But in the New Iraq, vengeance indeed goes beyond the grave. On the 29th March, Nuri al Maliki hosted the first Arab summit in Baghdad in twenty years, on which he spent a billion dollars, which included re-placing US-destroyed palm trees and providing a banquet featuring gold-leaf wrapped dates.
This, as Iraqis struggle with minimal electricity, clean water and basic services. Baghdadis had cell phones disconnected for a week, and security ensured they were either stuck in traffic for hours – or unable to get to work at all if they had any, captives in their “liberated” city.
The day before the Bacchalian extravaganza, on al Maliki’s instructions, an official was dispatched to Salahuddin Governorate, where Saddam Hussein was born in the village of al Awja and where he was taken for burial, after his US-backed lynching and the shocking subsequent treatment of his body. His two sons, who were summarily gunned down by US troops in Mosul, in July 2003, with his fifteen year old grandson, are also buried there.
Maliki’s envoy delivered an order to the Chief of Saddam’s al-Bu Nasir clan, Hassan al Nada, that the tomb be closed and the remains of the former President transferred elsewhere.(i)
Is it not dictators and despots who dictate, and order, while democratically elected Prime Ministers debate and decide by consensus?
“To order the closure of the tomb is strange, especially since it houses bodies of Abdul Rahman Arif and Abdul Karim Kassem,’ commented Nada.
Arif, passionate pan-Arabist, was President from 1966-1968. As a then career soldier, he had supported the bloody overthrow of the British imposed monarchy in 1958.  As President, he sent Iraqi troops to fight against Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. He died in exile in Amman, Jordan, in 2007, having left Iraq after the invasion.
Kassem led the 14th of July, 1958 revolution, became first post-revolution Prime Minister  (1958-1963) speedily closing the open door policy which had facilitated monopolies in, as Iraqis put it: “plundering the country’s oil wealth and ties Iraq to imperialist alliances.”
As ever, Iraqi history is repeating. And “ties” and “plundering” are surely paying. Iraq is ranked third most corrupt country in the world, and according to (iii), al Maliki heads ten Iraqi politicians who came in with the invaders’ tanks, expected to become billionaires within ten years. Most Iraqis deal daily with deprivation which makes the grinding misery of the embargo look favourable.
Maliki, in spite of being Shia, indeed also Secretary General of the Islamic Dawa Party and grandson of a Shia cleric, has clearly embraced the US Crusade from retribution to pocket lining and lack of respect, even for the dead – think, bin Laden’s vanished remains, Colonel Quaddafi’s unknown resting place, if there is one. Maliki is faithfully following.
“They ordered the bodies dug up, the tombs destroyed and the dead men dragged out of their graves,” wrote Thomas Asbridge in his authoritative history of the Crusades.(ii) He was writing of 1098.  Iraq has not been taken back a hundred years since the invasion, a repeated refrain from Iraqis, but nearly  a thousand it seems.
After Iraq fell, chillingly symbolized by the covering of the face of the statue of Saddam Hussein with a US flag, on 9th April 2003 and its toppling, al Maliki became deputy leader of the Supreme National Debaathification Commission – the purging of all former Baath party (that is to say pan-Arabism supporters) members from employment.
The tomb of the co-founder of Pan Arabism, philosopher and sociologist, Michel Aflaq (1910-1989), was erased by US bulldozers.
In 1991, after the Basra Road massacre, General Norman Schwarzkopf  announced that there was, “No one left to kill.” As April 9th approaches, the ninth anniversary of the destruction of the statue and Iraq, it seems al Maliki has outdone Shwarzkopf. He has moved on to attacking the dead.
This year’s anniversary falls within the Easter weekend. Iraqis and Iraq – where Abraham, Father of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, believers hold, was born at Ur, in the country’s south – are also in need of a resurrection and a miracle.  
Prepared for publication by:
Lisa Karpova

This Week in History: The Toppling Of Saddam Hussein

Manipulating Public Perceptions

The dramatic scene of knocking down one of hundreds of statues of the dictator, turned out to be not much more than an opportune media event.

April 08, 2012 “JP” — On April 9, 2003, three weeks after troops in a US-led coalition first entered Iraq in a war constantly surrounded by controversy, one of the most symbolic and perhaps misleading landmark events in the military push took place. Images of US Marines toppling a large statue of Saddam Hussein were broadcast live globally, and presented as marking the end of fighting. But while knocking down the statue signified the fall of Baghdad, its assigned value symbolizing the end of the war would turn out to be nearly nine years premature.
The 3rd Battalion of the 4th Marines had neither orders nor plans to topple statues that Wednesday morning. Tasked with pushing deep into the center of Baghdad toward the end of the land invasion, the Marine battalion was diverted to secure the city’s Palestine Hotel, where communications breakdowns and poorly marked maps had recently led to the killing of two journalists by American artillery shells. After finding the hotel with the help of journalists they encountered along the way, many of whose colleagues were holed up in the building that did not appear on American military maps, a group of marines found themselves waiting in Firdos Square, at the center of which towered a statue of almost-deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
US troops were indeed in the final throes of capturing the Iraqi capital that day. The victory in the first military push into Iraq, however, had lacked a symbolic moment of victory to be pointed to by the American government and world media. 
The first Iraqis to gather in the square that morning were quick to rip two plaques off the base of the statue and parade them to gathered cameramen who were anticipating what might transpire. Then, with more and more journalists descending to the square from the Palestine Hotel, a few dozen more Iraqis began intensifying their attempts to chip away at the massive bust. A non-commissioned officer responsible for a crane-equipped heavy duty tow truck approached Lt.-Col. Bryan McCoy, commander of the 3rd Battalion, and asked him if he could provide the crowd with light equipment to help them fell the statue. McCoy gave him his tacit approval, but the sledgehammer and rope the NCO gave the Iraqis were not nearly enough to bring it down.
The Lieutenant-Colonel, however, himself having walked down to Firdos Square from the hotel, saw the Iraqis’ futile attempts and noticed the growing crowd of journalists eager to beam dramatic video footage back to their editors. McCoy called his own commander and asked for permission to help the Iraqis topple the statue of Saddam. After hanging up, he gave his men the order to use their heavy equipment to pull the statue down.
The entire scene was broadcast live for over two hours on US and other television news networks around the world. The images were replayed and seized upon by US military and government officials. Then-US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld said later that day, “We said from the beginning he is finished — now [the Iraqis] are daring to believe it. Saddam Hussein is now taking his rightful place alongside Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Ceausescu in the pantheon of failed brutal dictators.”
But closer scrutiny of the footage from that day and accounts from journalists who witnessed the scene has revealed a different reality than was portrayed nine years ago. No more than a few hundred Iraqis were gathered in the square when the statue was toppled and only a fraction of those present actually attempted to bring it down. 
A number of the journalists who were there later complained their reports were taken out of context to assign much greater significance to the event than they felt it deserved. Tightly cropped shots focused on the few celebrating the toppling of the statue and correspondents played up the significance of the event.
A number of other symbolic visuals would be presented to the public in the coming months and years, including former US president George W. Bush’s dramatic “Mission Accomplished” speech after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln only weeks after statue was toppled in Baghdad. At the end of that year, pictures of a ragged-looking Saddam Hussein were released after the dictator was pulled out of the spider hole he had hidden himself in. But none of those symbolically rich moments actually signified the end of the war.
The images that showed the actual end of the Iraq War came eight-and-a-half years later when the last US troops crossed the border back into Kuwait, the same way they entered in March 2003 but in much less dramatic fashion. 
While still a lasting symbol of the fall of Saddam Hussein, the dramatic scene of toppling one of hundreds of statues of the dictator, turned out to be not much more than an opportune media event on the sidelines of the chaos at the end of a war and the beginning of a decade-long insurgency. Nevertheless, it was one of the more memorable scenes of the Iraq War for television viewers worldwide.
© The Jerusalem Post 1995 – 2012
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Man Whose WMD Lies Led to Iraq War Confesses All

Defector tells how US officials ‘sexed up’ his fictions to make the case for 2003 invasion

By Jonathan Owen

April 01, 2012 “The Independent” – -A man whose lies helped to make the case for invading Iraq – starting a nine-year war costing more than 100,000 lives and hundreds of billions of pounds – will come clean in his first British television interview tomorrow.
Curveball“, the Iraqi defector who fabricated claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, smiles as he confirms how he made the whole thing up. It was a confidence trick that changed the course of history, with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi’s lies used to justify the Iraq war.
He tries to defend his actions: “My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime’s oppression.”
The chemical engineer claimed to have overseen the building of a mobile biological laboratory when he sought political asylum in Germany in 1999. His lies were presented as “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence” by Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, when making the case for war at the UN Security Council in February 2003.
But Mr Janabi, speaking in a two-part series, Modern Spies, starting tomorrow on BBC2, says none of it was true. When it is put to him “we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie”, he simply replies: “Yes.”
US officials “sexed up” Mr Janabi’s drawings of mobile biological weapons labs to make them more presentable, admits Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, General Powell’s former chief of staff. “I brought the White House team in to do the graphics,” he says, adding how “intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy”.
As for his former boss: “I don’t see any way on this earth that Secretary Powell doesn’t feel almost a rage about Curveball and the way he was used in regards to that intelligence.”
Another revelation in the series is the real reason why the FBI swooped on Russian spy Anna Chapman in 2010. Top officials feared the glamorous Russian agent wanted to seduce one of US President Barack Obama’s inner circle. Frank Figliuzzi, the FBI’s head of counterintelligence, reveals how she got “closer and closer to higher and higher ranking leadership… she got close enough to disturb us”.
The fear that Chapman would compromise a senior US official in a “honey trap” was a key reason for the arrest and deportation of the Russian spy ring of 10 people, of which she was a part, in 2010. “We were becoming very concerned,” he says. “They were getting close enough to a sitting US cabinet member that we thought we could no longer allow this to continue.” Mr Figliuzzi refuses to name the individual who was being targeted.
Several British spies also feature in the programme, in the first time that serving intelligence officers have been interviewed on television. In contrast to the US intelligence figures, the British spies are cloaked in darkness, their voices dubbed by actors. BBC veteran reporter Peter Taylor, who worked for a year putting the documentary together, describes them as “ordinary people who are committed to what they do” and “a million miles” from the spies depicted in film. He adds: “What surprised me was the extent to which they work within a civil service bureaucracy. Everything has to be signed off… you’ve got to have authorisation signed in triplicate.”
Would-be agents should abandon any Hollywood fantasies they may have, says Sonya Holt at the CIA recruitment centre. “They think it’s more like the movies, that they are going to be jumping out of cars and that everyone carries a weapon… Yes we’re collecting intelligence but we don’t all drive fast cars. You’re going to be writing reports; you’re in meetings so it’s not always that glamorous image of what you see in the movies.”

Exit Americans, enter sectarian strife

By Karlos Zurutuza 

RAMADI, Iraq – Barely three months after the pullout by United States troops, sectarian clashes between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims have begun to take a heavy toll across Iraq. 

The population of Iraq (about 32 million) is 60% Shi’ite, according to official sources, a claim disputed by Sunnis. The Shi’ites dominate the government led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Sunnis, who were dominant in the days of former president Saddam Hussein, have been growing increasingly restive under the new Shi’ite regime. 

Armed groups from both sides have reportedly clashed on Iraqi soil in recent months. In a video posted on the Internet, a Sunni insurgent group under the name of the Anbar Brigade claimed an attack on a convoy of buses escorted by Iraqi army vehicles and allegedly carrying Shi’ite militiamen to the Syrian border. 

Anbar region to the west of Baghdad has been a hotbed of Sunni militancy in the past. 

Many fear that the overwhelmingly Sunni local population in Anbar and the long and porous border with Syria is a perfect environment for al-Qaeda to turn this region into the massive insurgent stronghold it used to be. 

Shi’ite groups on the other hand are alleged to be receiving weapons from Iran. Al Alwani, a Sunni member of parliament, tells Inter Press Service (IPS) at his house in Ramadi, the administrative capital of Anbar region, that the local airport at Najaf, a Shi’ite holy city in the south of Iraq, is the main hub for receiving Iranian weapons. 

“We have documented evidence that Iran is logistically and financially backing al-Qaeda in Iraq,” Anbar region governor Mohamed Qasim Abid, by profession an engineer who trained in Germany, tells IPS at his fortified office on the outskirts of Ramadi. 

“From the very beginning, every action by terrorists has helped to justify the repression and marginalization Iraqi Sunnis are facing since 2003.” 

The gap between Shi’ite and Sunni Iraqi Arabs grows by the day amidst a crisis that has sparked fears of renewed sectarian conflict. Maliki triggered a political crisis in December when he ordered the arrest of Iraq’s Sunni Vice President Tarik Hashemi – just one day after US troops officially left Iraqi soil – over allegations of promoting terrorism. 

The Shi’ite prime minister denies such moves are politically motivated, but Sunnis say they are being increasingly marginalized from political power-sharing. 

Now hosted by local Kurds in the Kurdish Autonomous Region in the north of Iraq, Hashemi has been constantly blaming Maliki for the sudden surge of violence. 

Iraq Body Count has recorded the killing of hundreds since the Americans pulled out in December. A suspected al-Qaeda group sympathetic to the Sunnis has claimed several of these attacks which it linked with both Hashemi’s arrest and to the Arab summit being held from March 27 to 29 in Baghdad for the first time in more than 20 years. 

On March 20, more than 30 coordinated bomb attacks across the country left 50 people dead and more than 250 injured. The Islamic State of Iraq – the Iraqi wing of al-Qaeda – claimed responsibility for the bombings. In a statement the group called this week’s gathering “the meeting of the Arab tyrants”. 

Behind the concrete walls of Baghdad’s Green Zone, Ali al-Shalah, member of parliament from Maliki’s ruling coalition categorically rejects his Sunni counterparts’ views. 

“I’ve heard about volunteer fighters crossing the border from Lebanon to join [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad but I assure you that the Iraqi government is working solidly to prevent the participation of any armed group from our territory.” Any changes on the other side of the border, he says, “will inevitably affect Iraq’s integrity.” 

He also rejects the idea of any links between Tehran and al-Qaeda. He points to “other Arab countries” behind the Islamic militants – meaning Sunni groups. The last wave of attacks, he says, has been “a show of force by the Sunnis and an open challenge to the Iraqi government. 

“Despite the constant aggression, we will keep fighting to claim our rightful space between our Arab and Persian neighbors; between Sunnis and Shi’ites, but avoiding any foreign interference,” Shalah says. He describes himself as “a writer and poet with a strong political responsibility”. 

Saad Yousif al Muttalibi, a senior official at the Ministry of Dialogue and Reconciliation, makes a distinction between “insurgents” and “terrorists”. 

“Reconciliation is underway with those Sunni fighters who fought against the American occupation; they have either joined the Awakening Movement or simply pulled down their weapons when the Americans left,” says Muttalibi from his residence in downtown Baghdad. 

“The main obstacle for security are those Sunni religious extremists like al-Qaeda or Ansar al-Sunna. They are terrorists and it’s impossible to bring them back to society so we don’t bother to speak with them. 

“Unfortunately we have discovered that certain government officials have been in close collaboration with al-Qaeda by providing them with either weapons or intelligence.” 

But the reconciliation process might not be as smooth as Muttalibi claims. IPS spoke with a Sunni fighter who said: “We have enough infrastructure to operate throughout the whole country, we’re just waiting orders from our commanders.” 

(Inter Press Service)

"I Don’t Work For You No More" "I Am No Longer the Monster I Once Was"


Jon Turner relates his experiences in Iraq at the Winter Soldier 2008 event.

“The reason I am doing this,” said former Marine Jon Turner, “is not only for myself and for the rest of society to hear, but it’s for all those who can’t be here … . Until people hear what is going on with this war, it will continue to happen, and people will continue to die. I’m sorry for the things that I did. I am no longer the monster that I once was.”
See also  and  for more.

A former Marine who had served two tours in Iraq, Jon Turner did not look like a monster. He was a little above average height, good-looking, with a thick thatch of blond hair, and gentle manners. If not for the small blue-dot earring in his left ear – and the tattoos he later exposed – he could easily pass for the all-American boy.
But the stories he related, and the videos and slides he showed during four days of hearings called “Winter Soldier Iraq and Afghanistan,” were a million miles away from Norman Rockwell America.
During last month’s hearings, held just outside Washington, D.C., a group called Iraq Veterans Against the War presented 55 veterans, including Turner, who gave personal testimony of what they had seen and done in Iraq. It was one horror story after another.
Turner, whose unit had lost 18 soldiers in Iraq, reported routinely firing rounds into mosques just out of anger; “kicking in doors and terrorizing families”; the mistaken firing of rounds into cars filled with civilians whose drivers were simply confused or didn’t understand the English commands to stop; and dozens of other brutalities carried out daily against the population of Iraq.
Other veterans testified to similar incidents, but two of Turner’s stories were among the heaviest we heard in those four days.
The first was of Turner’s “first kill” – a “fat man” on foot whom he shot for refusing a command to halt. The “fat man” did not die from the first bullet that Turner put in his neck, so while he screamed and looked pleadingly into Turner’s eyes, Turner deliberately dispatched him with a shot at close range.
The second story was even worse. Turner and his men were having a bad day – and bad days are apparently not hard to have in Iraq – so Turner and two fellow soldiers “took out some individuals” who were doing them no harm. Turner shot a man going by on a bike, then threw the body behind a wall and tossed his bike on top of it.
At the hearings, my friend Anthony Swofford, author of “Jarhead” and a former Marine himself, leaned over to me and said, “I think Turner just confessed to murder.” But putting that remark in perspective, Swofford would also tell me later, “I know that for every guy up there testifying today, there are probably a thousand others out there keeping silent.”
Some of the protesters outside, including the group Eagles Up!, claimed these testifiers weren’t real vets, but they had all been thoroughly checked out by a verification team from Iraq Veterans Against the War. Moreover, nobody – unless they’d done a few years at the Actors Studio – could have faked the emotions these vets were displaying as they testified: voices choking up and cracking, tears spontaneously welling.
Although the horror stories kept coming for four days, not all of them involved personal malice. Marine gunner James Gilligan sobbed as he recounted how in Afghanistan in 2004, he placed an unfamiliar compass too close to a machine-gun barrel, causing it to give a false enemy position. Instead of taking out the Taliban artillery, the troops caused extensive civilian casualties in a nearby Afghan village.
The name Winter Soldier was taken from a similar series of hearings held by Vietnam Veterans Against the War in Detroit in 1971. The term originally derived from Revolutionary War patriot Thomas Paine’s description of Washington’s soldiers at Valley Forge, who withstood a terrible winter on starvation rations in order to come back and fight for their nation one more time – and eventually win. Clearly these Iraq vets, just like their Vietnam vet counterparts, saw themselves as still fighting for their country in trying to bring the truth they experienced into a public forum.
They spoke with no discernible hostility or partisan bias, and less anger than one would have expected. Most expressed their reason for being there along the same lines as former Marine scout Sergio Kochergin, who said he was expecting his testimony to be heard by Congress and to help bring a rapid end to the war.
One thing is certain: The issues and problems that were talked of at Winter Soldier Iraq and Afghanistan were all things that should have been discussed and debated by the Congress, the press, and the American people long before we entered this war.

Gerald Nicosia is author of “Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans’ Movement.”

By Gerald Nicosia

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