January, 2004

NOTE: Information regarding the WMD lies and other matters directly related to the prior stage of the war is available at Iraq Antiwar Resources. Also there are antiwar songs, poetry, video, statements of famous people, and much more.

The Occupation

Cost of the War in Iraq
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Occupation Resistance Analysis

Freedom? Establishing a free press: Iraqi officials ban Aljazeera.

[The] Governing Council took its decision based on the station's programme "Opposite Direction", which it said had criticised the interim government.

David Rieff, in the New York Times Magazine, provides background on: The Shiite Surge.

Instead of democracy, give them "Democracy (tm)": Ad Agency Is Sought To Pitch Elections.

The bid solicitation said the winning agency should be prepared to educate the Iraqi people on the "caucus/electoral process leading to a democratically elected government in Iraq" and should devise a campaign to "inform and educate the Iraqi people about the transition to sovereignty...."
The request for proposals said the winning agency is to develop a "branding" symbol and slogan for the transition along with "informational campaign products," including tapes for use in radio and television advertisements.

New agency, including former regime secret police to be formed. They claim its only to track down "foreign" fighters. Then why is it being formed in secret? New Iraq Agency to Hunt Rebels.

Organizers of the new intelligence service "are recruiting former Mukhabarat officers in other countries, people who went into exile after the war and who are now coming back," said Entifadh K. Qanbar, a spokesman for Mr. Chalabi who sits in on meetings of the Governing Council's security committee. "We should vet them before they're recruited...."
Nouri Badran, head of the ministry [of the interior] and an official in the Iraqi National Accord, sharply criticized the Baathist purges at a news conference this week. He said the "so-called de-Baathification laws" put into effect in May by L. Paul Bremer III, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, had wrecked the country's security forces.
Many of the new intelligence agents will be trained outside Iraq, primarily in Jordan and Egypt [NOTE: countries with long traditions of respect for human rights], Mr. Janabi said, adding that the Federal Bureau of Investigation may help with the training.

"Free-market" fundamentalists may destroy what remains of Iraqi agriculture. Five million jobs at stake.

Occupation authority officials are debating whether the subsidies to Iraqi farmers will continue and, if so, for how long. Much of the argument, one agriculture adviser said, is between the "the economists" and "the military," with the economists wanting laissez faire as soon as possible and the military worried that yanking subsidies too soon could lead to social unrest, which would further destabilize the country....
What it [the CPA] does with the money will be closely watched by the rest of the world because the United States and Australia, the two countries taking the lead on rehabilitating the Iraqi agriculture sector, are also the two leading exporters of wheat. Their farmers could benefit from the shape of Iraq's agricultural industry....
Even those who understand and believe in the CPA's vision of a capitalist market for agriculture worry that if there truly is an open market, the local family farmers who dominate the sector here will not be able to compete. Foreign agribusinesses that mass-produce commodities such as wheat will dominate, they fear....
The fact that the authority imported U.S. wheat after the war as it destroyed Iraqi wheat has made some question potential conflicts of interest facing those trying to help Iraq. "Will U.S. and Australians coming help develop and improve agriculture or create competition?" said Ahmed Hayder Zubaidi, the dean of the College of Agriculture at Baghdad University.

Tensions within the majority: Rifts Emerge in Iraq's Shiite Community.

Pepe Escobar analyzes: Sistani's Way: Part 2: The marja and the proconsul.

Sistani flavors total separation between mosque and state - because he fears politics may pollute spiritual matters. This leads to the crucial point: Sistani is not in favor of an Islamic republic in Iraq, a development that although an anathema in Washington, at the same time would immensely please the ayatollahs in Tehran. What Sistani wants is an Iraqi constitution written with no foreign interference, with no articles contrary to Islam. And he wants a secular government, but composed of good Muslims who respect Islamic principles....
Asia Times Online has had credible information since late 2003 that Shi'ites of all factions are building a "secret army" to engage the Americans in case their democratic aspirations are not met.
US President George W Bush will then be left with two extremely unsavory options. The caucuses will proceed in Iraq's 18 provinces, and 15 million Shi'ites will smash - by any means necessary - the legitimacy of any government that might emerge. Or the Americans may hold direct elections - and in this case Sunnis, not only in the Sunni triangle - will upgrade their already ferocious guerrilla war to code red, because they will never accept losing power to Shi'ites. Jihad or civil war: these are the options ahead.

Robert Fisk raises a disturbing prosepct, that millions of dollars are being embezzled by US and Iraqi government officials. US military authorized transfer of 19bn new Iraqi dinars

When a private Lebanese jet recently arrived at Beirut International Airport packed with 19 billion new Iraqi dinars in bank-notes - around 12 million US dollars - the authorities immediately impounded the aircraft and arrested the three men aboard. It was a coup that seemed likely to earn the favour of the United States which has for years been threatening Lebanon with financial sanctions if it allows dirty money to cross its frontiers. But an astonishing series of revelations - including a faxed message from the American-appointed Iraqi 'interior ministry' in Baghdad - suggests that the cash was being sent to Beirut with the full permission of US military authorities to be transferred by a Lebanese exchange dealer - and then used to buy armoured vehicles for the American army from a British company....
In Iraq, however, there have been widespread claims from western businessmen that the American authorities and the Iraqi officials who work for them - not the businessmen with whom they deal - are guilty of fraud. Several have said that Iraqi sub-contractors are being asked to give cash commissions of between five and 10 per cent of any contract awarded them to one of five Americans working in the city.

Opposition to Bush from an unlikely corner: Soldiers, Families Oppose Bush: Casualties Mount Post Saddam.

A bipartisan poll published by Business Week in December showed approval for the president at a mere 36 percent among soldiers, their families and veterans....
After Jari Sheese of Indianapolis participated in several peace demonstrations and a Paris television program, her antiwar activities were noted in a general's report. Then her soldier-husband in Iraq was transferred on two hours' notice to a remote base with restricted access to the Internet and telephone. Yet he supports Sheese's continued vocal opposition to the occupation as the only way to end the war and bring him home.

Six Iraqi secular parties, five represented in the IGC, have formed a coalition to counter Islamic influence on the countries direction: 6 Iraqi parties form alliance to seek secular government: Their movement is aimed at countering the voices of thousands who demonstrate, backing Islamic leaders.

The umbrella group, whose Arabic name roughly translates as the "Consortium of Democratic Forces," met for the second time yesterday with representatives from the two main Kurdish factions, the Iraqi Communist Party, the Arab Socialist Movement, and two other secular democratic parties. It's impossible to gauge the parties' appeal in the absence of elections.
The group is putting the finishing touches on a draft of a constitution that seeks a secular society, checks and balances for governmental branches, and "respect for the Islamic identity of Iraq without making Islam the only resource for the judiciary," according to members familiar with the document.
"We understand that when you are jobless, desperate, isolated and terrorized, it's natural that you turn to God to save you," said Shakir al Dujaily, who represents the Communist Party in the consortium. "The social and political backwardness is so deep in our society that it's not easy to talk about democracy in a secular way. We are going after the nonactive people who would like to see the democratic trend stronger and united."
Politicians and community groups that stand by their secular message are increasingly the targets of attacks. Last week, a bomb went off after a meeting of 30 Community party members, killing two people....
The secretary-general of the Iraqi Women's League, which supports a secular government, was briefly kidnapped Tuesday in another apparent incident of intimidation by religious extremists.

There are claims that Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr is maintaining his own prison: Iraqi officials probe 'illegal jail'.

Democracy may not mean freedom for all; Iraq's working women worry:Saddam tolerated them, but Muslim conservatives don't . Fearful Iraqi women met with US Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, but were apparently little reassured: US official meets fearful Iraqi women.

"Of course she gave us hope, but up till now it's been all promises and nothing done. No women are helping to write the constitution," said Kulood Ali, a 24-year-old interpreter from Kut. "You know I tried to convince her that it's a matter of forcing them (Iraqi politicians) to understand," said Hamdia Abaas, a professor of constitutional law at the nearby University of Babylon.

Democracy? Another Shia town demands democracy: Shiites hold huge protest in southern town to demand local democracy.

The protest Wednesday by some 10,000 people in Nasiriyah town is the latest sign of the growing empowerment of Iraq's majority Shiites who were repressed for decades by Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime....
"No to Israel! No to imperialism! No to America!" the crowd chanted in Nasiriyah, about 350 kilometers (215 miles) southeast of Baghdad, demanding that provincial governor Sabri al-Roumaith step down.

Bremer tries to placate Turkey, potentially angering Kurds: Bremer moves against Kurdish workers' party in north Iraq.

The latest dispatches from Circus2Iraq: Ghosts and Clowns: Working with a group of Iraqi actors, musicians and dancers to create a show in the National Theatre and Day Trip to Baquba: A circus show in Baquba and a failed attempt to talk to people about what's been happening there.

[Ghosts and Clowns:] We’ve encountered a child psychologist by the name of Dr Ali who’s more or less a one man operation, trying to train child care workers and teachers and raise awareness in parents around the country about the symptoms of post traumatic stress in children. He thinks play therapy is the best, if not the only, way of diagnosing and treating their problems. He doesn’t know the exact extent of the problem but it’s self-evidently enormous, with bed wetting, nightmares, inability to concentrate and behavioural problems endemic among the child population. He’s coming to see us soon so I’ll write more about his work then.
[Day Trip to Baquba:] There was a fear in people’s eyes I used to see when anyone asked them about Saddam in the old days. It’s the look when they know there’s an official line and that’s what they have to tell you. The eyes glaze over and they repeat exactly what the person before told you, the tone flat. Things are fine. No, no resistance here. Deny the visibly obvious. You point out the inconsistency in what they’ve said and they lead you round in the same circle. Finally Khalid and Mohammed begged us to give up: “They think you are American soldiers.” Well, that explained why no one wanted to talk to us.

In the latest TomGram, David Hilfiker, a member of the Christian Peacemaker Team gives a detailed and wrenching account of how he discovered the true nature of the American occupation: Winning Hearts and Minds.

The most vociferous complaints, however, concerned nighttime raids and detentions. Military people had previously acknowledged to us a policy of "45 seconds of rage and fury"on entering a house. They consider this necessary to obtain immediate submission and keep their troops safe. Soldiers break down doors, yell commands to lie on the floor, run through the house, and generally try to frighten the occupants into submissive behavior....
He [Col. Nate Sassaman] assured us that his troops didn't usually handcuff the detainees. He preferred, he said, to leave them uncuffed, so that "if they run we can use any level of force necessary to control them. Once we cuff 'em, we can't touch 'em." That phrase, "any level of force," left no doubt in my mind that he was referring to lethal force. But why would he deliberately leave people uncuffed, opening up the possibility of flight?...
It was quickly clear from his [Col. Sassaman, again] body language and his curt responses, however, that he was in no way disposed to listen to these lawyers. I was shocked some minutes later when he became particularly irritated and, turning to us, blurted out without preface or explanation: "You need to understand that these people are Muslim, and their values are just different from Judeo-Christian values. They aren't for doing things for other people like we are; they're only out for themselves...."
How can one understand Sassaman's actions and what do they say about the US military occupation of Iraq? Iraqi lawyers from the local community went to an occupation military base to open lines of communication with the U.S. military on the question of detention. The commanding officer responded by ordering a night raid and detained one of those lawyers, making it abundantly clear that he is not interested in open lines of communication....
My guess is that he was telling us the truth as he saw it. Occupying armies have to tell themselves (and so others) certain kinds of truth; they have to see their actions through certain lenses if they are to maintain a sense of themselves as good people helping others.... Only by holding the stories of the Iraqi lawyers next to the colonel's stories, only by placing the Iraqi lawyers physically next to the colonel did a fuller truth emerge, the truth of the violence of occupying forces. The lawyers not only told us a different truth; they, unfortunately, also pushed Col. Sassaman into enacting it for us.

Stronger criticism of US plans, and of the IGC being imposed upon Iraq: Top cleric spurns U.S. plans: Ayatollah al Sistani brands U.S.-backed caucuses as illegitimate. Many Iraqis think he's right and say Americans fear direct elections in Iraq.

Dahr Jamail describes the atmosphere in poor Shia communities, and its not love for the US: Water, sickness, and a brewing Storm.

In Diwaniya, and each of the 5 other villages I visited the story is the same. Change the names of the people and the names of the city/village, and we find cholera, dysentery, diarrhea, nausea, less than 8 hours of electricity per day, contaminated water (or no water), and everyone is suffering. All of these people are Shi’ite Muslims, those the US hopes to gain the support of.

Halliburton doesn't just rip off Americans. It rips off so-called rogue states as well: Doing business with the enemy -- Halliburton among those implicated.

Things must be going bad. The US decided to kiss and make up: France receives US assurances over Iraqi reconstruction contracts.

The UN will go check out election possibilities: U.N. to send election team to Iraq.

Democracy? Anything but democracy! Iraqi self-rule splits White House. Look forward to more silly articles on how the neocons care so much about democracy, they can't stand letting Iraqis vote.

Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld favor a proposal to turn over power early - by April 1 - to the Governing Council, a body of U.S.-installed Iraqi leaders, said senior U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity. The council would be expanded from its current 25 seats to include more Shiites. The aim would be to persuade Sistani to agree to delaying elections, they said....
Many Iraqis regard Chalabi and other members of the Governing Council as American stooges. Many experts fear that turning power over to them could be as destabilizing as spurning Sistani's demand for elections....
Their [pro-American IGC leaders] influence could be decisive on the issue of U.S. military bases in Iraq. U.S. officials are working out with Governing Council members the terms of an agreement that would provide for the long-term presence of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Reuters confronts US: Reuters challenges US on Iraq deaths.

Female soldiers in Iraq face additional risks, with minimal support: Female GIs Report Rapes in Iraq War: 37 seek aid after alleging sex assaults by U.S. soldiers.

The women, ranging from enlisted soldiers to officers, have reported poor medical treatment, lack of counseling and incomplete criminal investigations by military officials. Some say they were threatened with punishment after reporting assaults.

A major Sunni group opposes elections before the US "leaves": US must quit Iraq before vote, say Sunnis.

Iraq Occupation Watch and The National Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Iraq (NADHRI) have issued a new report: Report on civilian deaths and human rights violations by US Army and uselessness of claims process.

A Reuters article on the Circus2Iraq: Circus performers cheer Iraqi children. For reports from the circus! Sparks: The circus in the squatter camp at Al-Sha'ala and The Making of Legends: How I became part of one of the World's most famous circuses.

You tell him you’re a bunch of clowns and would like to play with the kids for a couple of hours. He leads you to a patch of cracked earth with spiky plants here and there. A few of the men get shovels and hack out the thorny patches, scraping them out of the way, while the kids cluster around you, then you get them to help you pull a big red parachute out of its bag. Some of them hang back, bewildered, till the excitement sweeps them up and they grip the edges of the parachute, the littler ones lifted off the ground, bouncing with the shaking of the parachute, shrieking with glee as they help to turn it into a tent, rocking it and themselves and each other with the movement of their own bodies.
[Reuters:] A Frenchman played the didgeridoo, two young British women danced on stilts and Devilstick, dressed in a yellow and red jester's suit, juggled with as many balls as he could handle -- and the audience of mostly four- and five-year-olds loved it.... "It's my hope that through this work we can help the children, while also convincing the people of Iraq that people in the West don't have two horns and a tail."

The Spoils! British companies angry they are left out of the spoils. Chumps anyone? Will there ever be a victory for UK in Iraq? Hopes that Americans would share out construction contracts have come to nothing.

Ministers, from Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt to Trade Minister Mike O'Brien, were said to be 'disappointed', 'bloody cross' and 'fuming'....
Amec's has a US partner because it knows that is the only way to get in.

US troops suffer serious psychiatric problems associated with chronic stress: Stress epidemic strikes American forces in Iraq: The war's over, but the suicide rate is high and the army is riddled with acute psychiatric problems..

Up to one in five of the American military personnel in Iraq will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, say senior forces' medical staff dealing with the psychiatric fallout of the war. This revelation follows the disclosure last month that more than 600 US servicemen and women have been evacuated from the country for psychiatric reasons since the conflict started last March.
"n comparison with the combat phase, what we are now seeing are conditions of chronic stress which the troops are experiencing every day. It is a combination of danger, boredom and sleep deprivation, and the knowledge that they are a long way from home," said Berg. "In addition people are no longer sure when or what the end will be. No one knows when they will be going home. They are also working in an environment where the people they came to help are very hostile...."
The psychiatrists have seen symptoms ranging from disturbed sleep, heart palpitations, nausea and diarrhoea to more obvious behavioural problems, such as forgetful-ness, aggression, irrational anger and feelings of alienation. From the present period of chronic stress to the personnel, the doctors are expecting symptoms of depression and generalised anxiety to develop....
At least 22 US soldiers have killed themselves - a rate considered abnormally high - mostly since President George Bush declared an end to major combat on 1 May last year....
The military psychiatrists are puzzled by the suicide rate in Iraq, saying that it makes little sense in comparison with those in past conflicts. The accepted wisdom in military psychiatry is that the level of suicides - far from increasing during wars - drops as the survival instinct kicks in among the personnel in the conflict zone.

Patrick Cockburn comments on Shia demands and the weakness of the US occupation: Iraq's Shia: "Our Day Has Come".

Sistani has not denounced the US occupation, though he himself has refused to meet Paul Bremer, the head of the CPA. He has told his followers to talk to the Americans but ‘end every conversation by asking the Americans when they are leaving....’
US commanders say the number of incidents is down. This shows they are a little out of touch since American soldiers on the ground quietly admit that they don’t report many of the attacks on them unless they suffer casualties.

Medication short, and prices sharply higher, a UN Agency reports: Patients complain of medicine shortage.

Workers at Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) are now investigating reports that there are no chronic disease drugs at all in some parts of the country. Information on this issue is sketchy as international staff declined to be interviewed, citing the poor security situation in central Iraq as the reason for their current low profile.

Donald Rumsfeld is evidently considering an attack of Lebanon and fighting with Syria: US War on Terror May Spread to Syria, Report Says.

Writers are organizing in an Association to express their dream of an Iraq, without Saddam and without the US: Writers (by Jo Wilding).

The Birds Don’t Pay Rent
by Mohammed Jabar Hassan

How beautiful the trees are
Around the nests and birds
Through day and night
They do a lot for us freely and with love,
They give us wood and shade and fruit
But the best thing of all
Is they don’t ask any bird or pigeon to pay the rent.

You know elections are popular in Iraq, when dictator wannabe Ahmad Chalabi touts their virtues: Chalabi Urges Direct Elections Before Iraq Handover.

Holding pattern: Iraq cleric halts poll protests.

Support Our Troops? I guess Bush believes anyone who fights in his wars is a chump: Soldiers' flights home still left unpaid.

A dangerous occupation: Iraqi police walk perilous beat: At least 280 Iraqi police have been killed since the fall of Baghdad in April, 2003.

Communist party, evidently seen as US collaborators, office bombed: Iraqi Communist Party office bombed, killing 2.

Democracy? The Americans have hope after all! Perhaps Iraqi democracy can be avoided: Iraqis Press U.S. for Compromise to Gain Self-Rule.

The officials said Adnan Pachachi, chairman of the Iraqi Governing Council, had proposed the council expansion as a compromise between the American insistence on selecting a new government through a complex caucus system and the demand for direct elections by Iraq's leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani....
Some experts say that the ayatollah [Sistani] is mainly interested in gaining power in Iraq, not in democracy, and that he could be bought off in the process.

Democracy? But elections could be held, if the will was there: Iraqis see option for voter roll.

Some Iraqi officials contend that an existing national database of citizens could be used as a voter roll for direct elections here in a matter of months, despite US objections that fair elections cannot be held so quickly. The database, developed during the period of economic sanctions to distribute food rations to every Iraqi, contains 23.5 million names, and the officials say the list is remarkably accurate. "There would be no technical reason not to base the elections on the database," said Musab Alkateeb, an Iraqi-American management consultant who is a senior adviser to the Minister of Trade. US officials have said lack of a national census and voters list makes it impossible to hold direct elections by June 30, the deadline for transferring power to an independent Iraqi government

Unexpected Benefits! US Army chief talks of the good that comes out of terror attacks -- the ability to instill the warrior ethos: Wars 'useful', says US army chief.

"There is a huge silver lining in this cloud," he said. "War is a tremendous focus... Now we have this focusing opportunity, and we have the fact that [terrorists] have actually attacked our homeland, which gives it some oomph."
"There's got to be a certain appetite for what the hell we exist for," he said.

In a country with 70% unemployment, some are doing well: .

"Business is getting better. We have lots of businessmen coming in and younger people are buying suits to look good for job interviews," said Ahmed Mahmoud, 25, the manager of Assia, a smart menswear store in central Baghdad. [Question: What percentage of the population wears suits to job interviews? And who, in a country with massive unemployment, has the money to buy one?]

The Spoils! Halliburton admits giving kickbacks: Halliburton: Workers Took Kickbacks.

Robert Fisk remembers women killed by the Saddam regime, back when he was "America's friend": Revealed: The women who suffered Saddam's tyranny.

There are frequent accounts of women and children tortured in front of their husbands and fathers. In 1982, for instance, a Lieutenant Kareem in Basra reportedly brought the wife of an insurgent to the prison, stripped and tortured her in front of her husband, then threatened to kill their infant child. When both refused to talk, the security man "threw the baby against the wall and killed him"....
The 550-page report is no literary work. Some of its prose is florid and occasionally appears to describe women's martyrdom as a fate to be emulated. Nor is this a work which will make easy reading for Americans anxious to use it as evidence against Saddam. The book repeatedly states that the chemicals used on women prisoners were originally purchased from Western countries. But the detail is compelling - the names and fates of at least 50 women are recorded, along with the names of their torturers.

The Shia won't trust UN experts alone that a vote by June 30 is impossible: Iraqi Experts Wanted for Election Probe.

Iraq's leading Shiite Muslim cleric wants Iraqi experts - and not just those from the United Nations - to conclude that early elections are not feasible before he will drop his opposition to the U.S. political blueprint for Iraq, an aide said Thursday....
The move came after Annan wrote that he doubted a ballot could be held by the end of June. "We did not ask Kofi Annan to issue a fatwa (religious edict) from New York but to send experts to Iraq to assess the situation on the ground," al-Mawsawi quoted the cleric as saying to Pachachi. "If Annan does not want to do that, then we don't need his help."

Occupation Watch is located in Baghdad, keeping watch over the occupation authorities. Here is a speech to Iraqi Workers in Occupied Basra and a lovely suprise!, the "surprise" being an important labor victory. The same author provides an earlier account of labor struggles in Basra: Occupied Basra Electricity Workers Strike - Update.

Kurdish women have joined the protests against the Islamization of family law: Kurdish Iraqi women demonstrate against threat to their rights.

Thousands of Kurdish women marched in northern Iraq on Wednesday against an interim Governing Council decision to repeal long-standing secular family laws, once the most advanced in the Arab world....
Some 5,000 women marched in the city of Suleimaniyah, said organisers from the Kurdistan Women’s Union, affiliated to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which is headed by council member Jalal Talabani. "It’s a heavy blow for women of Iraq and Kurdistan," said the union’s chairwoman, Kafia Souleiman, accusing those who took it of "ignoring the long struggle of women in this country".
"This decision is unacceptable for an overwhelming majority of Iraqi people. It violates not only the rights of women of Iraq and Kurdistan, but also international conventions," said Takhshan Zangala, head of the Kurdistan Women’s League, affiliated to the communist party.

More deaths. But most are Iraqi, so maybe its ok? Guerrilla Attacks in Iraq Sunni Triangle Kill Nine . , 2004)

Bush may make rosy speeches, but his advisers are telling him the truth: CIA Officers Warn of Iraq Civil War, Contradicting Bush's Optimism.

Southern Exposure devotes a special issue to: MAKING A KILLING: The New War Profiteers. It includes the: Introduction and OCCUPATION, INC. ~ War profiteers in Iraq pursue quick fixes and high profits by overcharging for shoddy work, while Iraqis protest that they could do the work better and cheaper. Welcome to the reconstruction racket. More material is available from the print edition of the magazine.

Withdrawal? Change of sovereignty? Shell game? Bush may seek billions for Iraq after election.

President George W. Bush may seek an additional $40 billion or more for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan next year -- on top of the $400 billion military budget he will send to Congress next month, congressional sources and budget analysts said on Wednesday. But Bush is unlikely to send the request to Congress until after the November presidential election, minimizing any political damage, the sources said....
Other analysts and congressional aides said it could be closer to $75 billion or $100 billion.

Dahr Jamail reports Iraqis asking: "Who will give us back our health?"

“I have cancer, and I know I’m dying. My white blood cell count is 14,000, and I don’t have enough red blood cells. We are all sick; our joints ache, my hips are killing me, and my blood is bad. But nobody will help us here.” He has had hundreds of reporters come to record his story. He asked many of them to take samples of his honey to test for radiation, but nobody has returned him the results.

The countries around Iraq are considering cancelling (some of) their debt: Saudi Ready to Discuss Major Iraq Debt Cut and Kuwait Looks at Forgiving Some Iraq Debt. What will they get in return?

now academics are being targeted: Another Voice of Academia Is Silenced in Iraq.

Democracy? Mass protest appears to have an effect. It looks like democracy may yet hit Iraq: US set for Iraq election retreat: Britain now backs early poll. What then?

British officials insist that the argument has been accepted by Mr Bremer and the state department but they are less certain that the whole Republican administration has accepted the position.

Kurds turn against US after losing control over oil-rich land.

Massoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, told The Independent in an interview that the Kurds had been offered less autonomy "than we had agreed in 1974 with the regime of Saddam Hussein".

Riverbend further discusses the potential adoption of Sharia, or Islamic family law, and what it will mean for Iraqi women, and for her: Still Brooding...

Two days ago, there was a conference on women's rights in the elegant Nadi Al-Sayd (or Hunting Club) in Baghdad led by the major women's rights groups and they were condemning decision No. 173 saying that it'll be a blow to women's rights in Iraq. The frightening thing was that one of the more secular members of the GC was championing the decision and claiming that it was going to be a 'great advance' in the rights of Iraqi women. He didn't explain how or why, but he condescendingly sat in front of the angry mob of women and gave them a mysterious Mona Lisa smile that, I assume, was supposed to be reassuring....
The most significant thing he [Sistani] has said so far is that even if elections are held, people from abroad shouldn't be able to run (i.e. 95% of the GC).
I'm torn on the topic of elections. While I want elections because it's the 'democratic' thing to do, I'm afraid of the outcome. All the signs lead one to believe that elections will lead to a theocracy (which I dread). The current GC is *not* representative of the Iraqi people- neither Sunnis nor Shi'a approve of them… but will elections bring about a more representative group of would-be leaders? Furthermore, what if the Iraqi 'majority' *do* want a theocracy like the one in Iran? If the choice boils down to a democracy styled like the one in America or a theocracy styled like the one in Iran, how do you think a Muslim country is going to choose?

Of course, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Husaini Sistani has his web site, with some very impressive programmers helping him: sistani.org. You can find out what is permissible there.

Democracy? New evidence that the impossibility of elections in Iraq is a total sham: Iraq's Election Snag: How long before Iraqis are able to vote?Time and UK officials say Iraq elections by June viable Financial Times. After a few hundred thousand people demonstrate, officials suddenly "discover" that Elections are possible

[Time:] Yet senior Iraqi sources tell TIME that a top U.N. election official, Carina Perelli, wrote an internal report last summer concluding that elections could be pulled off in just six months. U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard confirms the substance of the report, saying its conclusions on "the technical aspects" are sound....
Publicly, the U.S. is sticking to its guns, saying some compromise on the election issue is still possible. But privately, U.S. officials predict Washington will blink first. With time running out to get a handover started in Baghdad, a State Department source says, "they're going to realize the game's up and cave."
[Financial Times:] Y"We have a working hypothesis that you could manage an electoral process within the timeframe and the security available," said Dominic D'Angelo, British spokesman for the UK-led southern zone of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Basra. The volte face comes after demonstrators packed Basra's streets on Thursday in response to a call from Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's senior Shia cleric, to back his demand for an elected assembly. British officials estimated there were between 100,000 and 300,000 protestors. [NOTE: This estimate, no longer on the front page, is 30-100 times that in CNN and 3-10 times that given by the BBC]
The Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad has had an unofficial policy banning even local elections since the end of the war, according to US military officials interviewed at locations throughout Iraq. This is despite the assessment of the military that elections are feasible within very short periods of time.

Democracy? Meanwhile, the pro-elections demonstrations continued today. Maybe Americans have something to learn from the Iraqis: Shiites keep up heat on US but Iraqi allies hope Annan will save plans.

Thousands of followers of young firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr marched in Baghdad and the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala to protest against US plans for Iraq.

Democracy? More US machinations are a foot. They threaten to give power directly to their totally unelected governing Council. That would show the Iraqis what demanding elections leads to! U.S. may give Iraqi Governing Council power: Transfer would be a way out of awkward confrontation with powerful Shiite cleric

A sea of Sadr followers lashed out at the Pentagon's designation of ousted president Saddam Hussein as a POW and plans by the US-selected interim Governing Council to endorse federalism in a basic law to rule Iraq.

Reuters reports that Iraqis Want Saddam's Old U.S. Friends on Trial.

Action Alert! The Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq have launched a Campaign to Ensure Justice for Iraqi Detainees. Their website contains extensive testimony of the horrifying treatment of detainess. As part of this campaign, they have developed a leaflet Leaflet to Coalition Forces Regarding the Human Rights of Iraqi Citizens (downloadble rtf for Word Processors) or text (HTML). They encourage citizens around the world who come in contact with US troops who may go to Iraq to hand the leaflets out.

Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness writes of visiting: A Batch of TCNs (Third Country Nationals).

Dahr Jamail conveys a sense of Baghdad today by describing how he's learned to walk down the street: Walking the Streets of Baghdad. A couple of days ago he wrote about Economic crisis, threats of Jihad, and more violence in Iraq.

As the Shia attack the American transition plan for denying elections, the Kurds demand ironclad guarantees of autonomy and the expulsion of arabs: Iraqi Kurdish Leader Demands Guarantees: Minority Seeks Autonomous Region, Expulsion of Arabs Under New Government.

"We had the power to force people out of our area. We avoided that," he said. "But if things don't go right, maybe things will get beyond our control and people will take matters into their own hands.

The Spoils! Australian firm does well: Worley climbs 13% on news of $1bn Iraq oil contract. Brits not so well: Amec's Iraq snub. The Poles are trying: Poland boosts effort to win contracts in Iraq, as is Microsoft: 'Saddam - my part in his downfall' - by Microsoft military guru.

Iraqis oppose occupation with music. The US tries to ban it. Good luck! Coalition faces new battlefront.

Support Our Troops? Unit attacks military families by extending duty tours yet again, beyond the promised one year. It won't even tell them how long: Families stunned, angered by units' deployment extension past one year.

“Suck it up and drive on — if you’re an Army spouse, that’s what you’ve got to do,” said Mena Sawyer, 30, also a 3rd Battalion pilot’s wife. But, she added, “We were promised, more than once, that it would definitely not be more than 365 days. [The Army] always promises things, and they don’t follow through.”

Support Our Troops? The British government also supports their troops: Soldier's shock at surgery claim .

A soldier whose leg was amputated after he was shot in a friendly fire accident in Iraq has spoken of his horror at claims that he lost his limb because army field surgeons lacked vital equipment.

Dahr Jamail reports on Sadr City, a large cesspool of sewage and pollution, breeding illness: Lakes of Sewage in the Streets. He also thinks The US has no idea what it has gotten itself into.

[Sadr City:]Ahmed says to me, “The whole area is like this. We have over a million people here, and all of us suffer. Sometimes we have to drink the sewage. Yesterday our water smelled like petrol, because there is a station nearby and we all know the benzene leaks into our water.”

The story of most Iraqis is the story of unemployment: Fighting for a job in Iraq.

An interview with an anonymous reporter in Iraq that sheds light on the functioning of the CPA: "People are forgetting Iraq and focusing on hooking up with each other...".

The CPA is a total mess, as should be pretty clear. It's actually kind of shocking. It's hard to even know where to start. You probably know all of this: the CPA is locked inside the Green Zone, this massive area in the heart of Baghdad that's protected by armed guards, tanks, and lots of big concrete walls. Most of the people in the Green Zone never leave, or only leave with massive army escort and then only to go directly to meetings in ministries. They call the area outside of the Green Zone, the Red Zone. In other words: all of Iraq is the Red Zone. So, very few people in the CPA have the slightest idea what's going through the minds of Iraqis. They either have brief conversations with people on the street, when they're surrounded by armed troops. Inevitably, the Iraqis tell them they are very happy with the US occupation. What else would they say? I never, ever meet Iraqis who are happy with the US occupation. Or they meet with their own Iraqi staff or staff at the ministries, who are similarly positive--sycophantic to their bosses. The ignorance is so great that I generally find when I meet with CPA officials they start interviewing me, because I know far more about Iraq than they do.
On top of it, living conditions in the Green Zone are unbearable. Since the Rashid bombing, many live in massive dorm rooms--200 or more to a room--with senior officials and soldiers crashing out on bunk beds. There aren't enough toilets or showers. Everyone is sick of the KBR cafeterias that offer a constant array of college cafeteria food: sloppy joes, burgers, limp salads. Nobody can eat in Iraqi restaurants. Most have never eaten Iraqi food. My friends in the CPA tell me they are truly depressed, truly miserable. People are leaving. People are forgetting Iraq and focusing on hooking up with each other.
The people of the CPA are a diverse group. Some are quite smart and well meaning and are depressed about the way things are going. Morale is extremely low. Some are Bush true-believers who refuse to hear a word against the occupation, as if everything is going well. There is open hostility between the career civil servants and the political appointees. The political types tend to have no experience in the Arab world, know no Arabic, have no experience outside of the US. The CPA people who have experience in the Arab world and have a better feel for what is going on in the street (only a vague idea because of their limited contact) are sidelined and don't have any power to affect CPA decisions.

Taking Bertolt Brecht To Heart! After the "communists" suppressed the East German workers uprising in 1953, Bertolt Brecht wrote: "That the People had frivolously thrown away the Government's confidence and that they could only regain it through redoubled work. But wouldn't it be simpler if the Government simply dissolved the People and elected another?" It appears the Americans missed the satire, as they go about selecting who is to be allowed to "vote" in new "democratic" Iraq. This Boston Globe article would have us feel sorry for them: US plan angering new Iraq parties.

But US officials, who are expected to appeal to the United Nations tomorrow for support, say there is too little time to conduct a fair election and still meet a June 30 deadline to transfer power. So they have opted for a plan that requires US officials like Mines to go through a laborious, hands-on process of meeting with Iraqis, town by town, to determine which groups should play a role in the caucuses....
"We are returning to dictatorship with different faces," said Zaidan, an organizer from the Council for Iraqi National Unity....
And Iraqis who fear sectarian conflict watch anxiously as the United States doles out concessions to various groups to get them to buy into the caucus process -- including deference to unelected Shi'ite religious leaders, autonomy for Kurds, and heavy representation for Sunni tribal sheiks. They fear that trend will push Iraqis to define their political interests along ethnic and religious lines.
"The coalition is dealing with them like children: `Yes, we'll give you something; just sit down and be polite.' This will split Iraq," said Ibrahim al-Mashadani, an organizer from the Iraqi National Accord.
It is hard to see how the United States will persuade Iraqis to feel ownership of the new government by the deadline. [NOTE: They are not to have ownership, only feel it.]

Elections are coming! (But not in Iraq): Official: U.S. to reduce troops in Iraq.

An account of changes at the University of Baghdad: On Iraqi Campus, Free Can Be Messy.

Somehow, all those in the know kept quiet for over a decade: Price of doing business in Saddam’s Iraq: 10 percent ‘service fee’ sent to private bank accounts.

Some do well, while most suffer: Halliburton gets $1.2 billion Iraq contract.

Private US firms contracted for "security" long after the supposed return to Iraqi sovereignty: Iraqi Oil Gets Its Own Police Force: Recruits Defend Against Infrastructure Sabotage.

"Standing up its own oil guard force is a major step forward in the reconstruction effort in Iraq," O'Donnell said. "We are a lot better postured than three months ago to keep the oil flowing...."
To help the security effort, the coalition government also has signed a two-year, $10 million lease with Florida-based AirScan Inc. to provide night air surveillance of the pipeline and oil infrastructure, using low-light television cameras to try to spot and head off saboteurs trying to use the cover of darkness.

The wheeling and dealing begins: Russia Sees Iraqi Debt Relief as Link to Oil, U.S. Aides Say and Germany's Siemens Awarded Iraq Contract.

Halliburton Rules! An account, from the perspective of a US employee fired for trying to get Halliburton "to implement the Army's own safety and sanitation standards." Evidently, US troops are about as important as those silly Iraqis asking for "democracy": Unsanitary Acts. She also got a view of the "new Iraq" the US is working so hard to construct:

While Yarbrough did not see any soldiers fall sick from food served by ESS, she did witness something else that disturbed her: the labor system that feeds and supports U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait. It's a system in which highly paid Americans oversee a huge corps of Indians, Pakistanis and other so-called "third-country nationals" working in sweatshop conditions for as little as $3 a day....
[W]hen Yarbrough started her first 12-hour overnight shift, she was shocked at conditions in the kitchen. Freezers and refrigerators weren't working. Food was spoiling. The kitchen workers were exhausted, and some of them weren't following basic sanitation practices. "It became apparent to me that much of the food served at the banquet the night before was ... possibly dangerous," she wrote.
At 2 a.m. Yarbrough saw a lone kitchen worker spreading mayonnaise onto several thousand slices of bread for the next day's sandwiches. He was halfway through the job, and the mayonnaise had sat in open bowls for hours. The kitchen's air conditioner had moderated the desert heat somewhat, but it had also spewed dust over the worker, the mayonnaise and the bread....
bout midnight, an American who managed the dining facility for ESS came into the kitchen. Yarbrough read him the list of sanitary items needed, described the problems in the dining room and relayed the Army sergeant's requests. But before she finished, the man she knew only as "Ray" erupted in anger. "He told me that I was not aware of my position or duties," she wrote later that morning in her journal. "He told me not to attempt to address [kitchen workers, only the] night manager...."
"He [A Halliburton district manager] told me that I was a danger to myself if I remained at Tikrit," said Yarbrough. "He wouldn't tell me why, but I thought it was that somebody would have been sent to do me harm...."
She also suspects that risks are being taken with food-safety and other issues so that Halliburton and ESS can meet deadlines and qualify for millions of dollars in performance bonuses.
Yarbrough also has concerns about the working and living conditions of the third-country nationals who serve in dining facilities and other capacities at bases throughout Iraq and Kuwait. "Third-country nationals have no rights, no papers and no access to medical care," said Yarbrough. "They are allowed no communication with their families and cannot leave the gravel surrounding the dining facilities where they work," she said. "I am amazed that Americans don't know anything about the TCNs [third-country nationals] doing all the work over there," she said. "CNN is in Tikrit right now, eating at that dining facility. Why haven't TCNs been interviewed? Indians speak English."

The attempt to demonize the Iraqi call for democracy is well underway. read carefully the subtitle of the Washington Post article: Clerics Urge Shiites to Protest: Call for Iraqi Elections Carries Hint of Violence. Of course, given the Adnan Pachachi quote below, the headline could have been: "US puppets insist democracy not an option." But who in the US establishment cares about such a silly thing as what Iraqis want?

"We should think seriously about the future and for the coming generation, and fashion it to keep our dignity," said Abdel-Madhi Salami, the chief cleric in Karbala, one of two Shiite holy cities in Iraq. "This will happen through serious participation in a peaceful protest, strikes and, as a last resort, possible confrontation with the occupying forces, because they plan to draw up colonial schemes...."
"I do not think our religious leaders want to cause problems. We just want our rights, which is the reason the Americans said they came here," said Amir Abbas, a retired laborer....
Nonetheless, Adnan Pachachi, current president of the Governing Council under a rotation system, said the council would do what it could to "accommodate" Sistani by providing "transparency and inclusiveness." But not elections.

Patrick Cockburn gives a good idea of the feeling of the Shia demonstrating across southern Iraq: Iraq's Shia Muslims march to demand early elections.

He added that Dawa and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri) had taken charge in Kut, but has little support. A problem for the US is that the exile parties such as Dawa and Sciri, well represented on the Governing Council in Baghdad, are often considered carpet-baggers in cities like Kut where they have few roots....
There is no nostalgia for Saddam's rule in Kut, but it has become conventional wisdom among the people of the city that they have fewer jobs and their economic situation is worse than a year ago.

Along with the demonstrations for elections today, a senior Shia cleric, Hojat Al-Islam Ali Abdulhakim Alsafi wrote to Bush and Blair criticizing their plans for Iraq: Election plan for Iraq attacked.

Iraqis march for elections, but how many? The BBC says "tens of thousands" [ Iraqis protest against poll plans] while CNN says it had "about 3,000 people" [ Iraq marchers want 'elections now'] In any case, note in the second quote below that, in addition to objecting to elections, the US objects to letting a new Iraqi government decide if US troops should stay.

[BBC:] Speaker after speaker called for the rejection of the US plans and demonstrators chanted and sang in support of their leaders, shouting "No, no to America, yes, yes to Sistani."
Also in dispute is the role that the United Nations should play in Iraq, and whether the status of US forces in Iraq should be subject to approval by any transitional authority.

Urgent! Let the World Know! Juan Cole reports mass demonstrations against Islamization in Iraq: Mass Demonstrations by Women, Others, Against Sudden Islamization of Iraqi Law. See also the January 13th piece by Riverbend who stands to loose big-time from these new policies turning the country backwards: Shari'a and Family Law.... This story seems to be being ignored in much of the world media. After I wrote the above, I found a Washington Post account: Women in Iraq Decry Decision To Curb Rights: Council Backs Islamic Law on Families.

[Juan Cole:] The IGC has ceded to the religious codes jurisdiction over marriage, engagement, suitability to marry, the marriage contract, proof of marriage, dowry, financial support, divorce, the 3-month "severance payments" owed to divorced wives in lieu of alimony, inheritance, and all other personal status matters.
The US appointed a number of clerics and leaders of religious parties to the IGC, almost ensuring that this sort of thing would happen. The US is now in the position of imposing on the Iraqi public, including the 50% who are women, a theocratic code of personal status. The question is whether this step is just the first in the road to an Iraqi theocracy.
[Riverbend:] On Wednesday our darling Iraqi Puppet Council decided that secular Iraqi family law would no longer be secular- it is now going to be according to Islamic Shari'a....
This is completely unfair to women specifically. Under the Iraqi constitution, men and women are equal. Under our past secular family law (which has been in practice since the '50s) women had unalterable divorce, marriage, inheritance, custody, and alimony rights. All of this is going to change.
[Washington Post:] This week, outraged Iraqi women -- from judges to cabinet ministers -- denounced the decision in street protests and at conferences, saying it would set back their legal status by centuries and could unleash emotional clashes among various Islamic strains that have differing rules for marriage, divorce and other family issues. "This will send us home and shut the door, just like what happened to women in Afghanistan," said Amira Hassan Abdullah, a Kurdish lawyer who spoke at a protest meeting Thursday.

The US administration and the CPA love privatization, but this is ridiculous: Gangsters operate own prisons as kidnapping soars in Iraq.

Saddam cautioned his supporters to beware of foreign jihadists. So much for the link to Al Qaeda: Hussein Warned Iraqis to Beware Outside Fighters, Document Says.

It provides a second piece of evidence challenging the Bush administration contention of close cooperation between Mr. Hussein's government and terrorists from Al Qaeda. C.I.A. interrogators have already elicited from the top Qaeda officials in custody that, before the American-led invasion, Osama bin Laden had rejected entreaties from some of his lieutenants to work jointly with Mr. Hussein.
Officials said Mr. Hussein apparently believed that the foreign Arabs, eager for a holy war against the West, had a different agenda from the Baathists, who were eager for their own return to power in Baghdad. As a result, he wanted his supporters to be careful about becoming close allies with the jihadists, officials familiar with the document said....
Military and intelligence officials now believe that the number of foreign fighters who have entered Iraq is relatively small. American military units posted along the border to screen against such an influx have reported that they have seen few signs of foreign fighters trying to cross the border.

The US evidently killed four more civilians in Falluja: Witnesses: U.S. Troops Kill Four in Iraqi Town.

Human Rights Watch has accused the US of committing war crimes in Iraq: Group Accuses U.S. of War Crimes in Iraq: Group Accuses U.S. of War Crimes in Iraq for Demolishing Suspects' Homes, Arresting Relatives.

"Detaining persons for the purpose of compelling actions from the opposing side amounts to hostage-taking, which is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions in other words, a war crime," Human Rights Watch said. Demolishing homes and destroying civilian property as a reprisal or deterrent amounts to collective punishment, which is also prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.

Reuters reporters and cameraman receive US "torture lite": US military 'brutalised' journalists: News agency demands inquiry after American forces in Iraq allegedly treated camera crew as enemy personnel . Remember, they've already killed several Reuters staff.

Although Reuters has not commented publicly, it is understood that the journalists were "brutalised and intimidated" by US soldiers, who put bags over their heads, told them they would be sent to Guantanamo Bay, and whispered: "Let's have sex." At one point during the interrogation, according to the family of one of the staff members, a US soldier shoved a shoe into the mouth one of the Iraqis. The US troops, from the 82nd Airborne Division, based in Falluja, also made the blindfolded journalists stand for hours with their arms raised and their palms pressed against the cell wall.
"They were brutalised, terrified and humiliated for three days," one source said. "It was pretty grim stuff. There was mental and physical abuse." He added: "It makes you wonder what happens to ordinary Iraqis."
A spokeswoman for the US military's coalition press and information centre in Baghdad hung up when the Guardian asked her to comment.

The US has created several thousand new jobs in Iraq, as street sweepers! Evidently they sweep highways where US troops pass, presumably to find (and detonate?) any mines or IEDs, as Dahr Jamail reports: Baghdad Street Sweepers; Collective Punishment and Kabobs in Falluja.

Another disturbing topic is that I have a friend who recently received an email from a US Air Force captain.a sort of veiled threat that he was being watched because he was writing some things that weren't perceived as being 'supportive' of the coalition. The said captain suggested to my friend that he stop by the CPA to have a talk about 'democracy'. Not a comforting thought.

Freedom of the press? A US firm will run the former Saddam TV and Newspapers: U.S. Firm to Run Iraqi TV: Harris Corp. Also to Operate National Newspaper. Now they'll really get accurate information. why not Fox?

Dorrance Smith, a former ABC News producer and an adviser to President Bush and President George H.W. Bush, works in Baghdad as a senior media adviser to the coalition authority. He recently added the IMN to his responsibilities, according to Washington and Baghdad government sources.
Smith's first job in Iraq was to create a 24-hour television feed for local U.S. television stations, bypassing the networks, which U.S. officials complained were emphasizing negative news from Iraq.

The protests for food and jobs have spread to Kut, another southern Shiite city: Troops Disperse Iraqis Rioting for Food.

Another of those deadly "accident of war" and the inhuman (or all too human) attempts to cover up afterwards: Mazin Jumaa's Story.

During this entire time Abd Wahab's father and sister sat impassively listening, occasionally adding something in Arabic. But Abd Wahab's brother-in-law, Dr Muhammad, was quite vocal, upset enough about the incident to be willing to tell the story to us, who could do nothing except tell the story back home. Dr Muhammad, it turns out, is an orthopedic surgeon and was one of the first doctors to treat Jessica Lynch when she was first brought to his small hospital. "She received six liters of blood (Iraqi blood is filled with humanity) and had a surgical reduction of the fractures. If we had not treated her she would have died. We treated her because she was another human being and we must love one another. My brother did not get the same treatment."

The cost of being human. Soldier was charged with cowardice for suffering trauma at witnessing a dead Iraqi soldier: US sergeant branded a coward mounts furious fightback.

For a country obsessed with records: More than 500 Americans killed in Iraq: Pentagon. And the number keeps growing, not to mention the thousands wounded.

The San Francisco Chronicle has an account shedding background on the struggle for Kirkuk, well on its way toward civil war: The Struggle to Rebuild /Ethnic melting pot at the boiling point: Tensions mounting in post-war Kirkuk. Kirkuk coming apart in a tense scramble for power, land, oil.

The following articles were sent to me by an Iraqi exile who I don't know. The articles pose a dilemma in that they make sensational claims that I have no way of verifying. I have decided to make them available, letting readers evaluate for themselves. The first, not so sensational, involves charges of maltreatment of Iraqi prisoners: Special Iraqi Resistance Report: First token batch of prisoners released tell of torture, martyrdom inside US concentration camp. The second article, make the more sensational claims that USS troops have disposed of the bodies of dead American troops, rather than send them home: The Mystery of Black Bags Falling from the Sky. I would appreciate hearing from anyone having information regarding the veracity of these pieces.

The Guardian's Peter Beaumont reports from Falluja: Lethal hatreds spread in Iraq's cockpit of violence: In the city where a US Black Hawk was downed last week, dangers lurk on every street corner for the US 82nd Airborne.. In contrast, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports: In anti-U.S. hotbed, many Iraqis tire of the violence.

Making heroes of the occupation military leaders. Is it an accident that today's New York Times has two articles on the top US officers planning and carrying out the brutal counterinsurgency campaign. Of course, its nothing new to glorify the butchers. But one can learn a lot about US thinking from these pieces: Professor Nagl's War on Maj. John Nagl, a "scholar' of counterinsurgency (or how to impose regime the people don't want) & Challenge for Bootstrap General Is Winning Over the Wary Iraqis.

Its not only thieves that make Iraqi roads dangerous: US soldier 'killed taxi occupants for passing convoy'.

As the New York Times reports, US attempts to remake the Iraqi economy into a capitalist one likely violate international law governing occupations: Free-Market Iraq? Not So Fast.

British troops and Iraqi police kill six demanding jobs. And US troops kill two more Iraqi police: 'Six killed' in Iraq jobs protest.

Republicans and many Democrats are united, in favor of permanent military bases in Iraqi, whether the Iraqis want them or not: Leave Iraq? Hell No, We Won't Go!

The United States intends to stay in Iraq. Recall the words of President Bush: "When they hear me say we're staying, that means we're staying." Troops will not be coming home.

In addition to the five killed in the mosque bombing, two more Iraqi policemen were gunned down by US troops. "Shoot first and don't ask questions later!" Five killed in Iraq mosque blast, misfiring US forces kill two Iraqi police.

The US backs down, or so it seems: US set to back state control of Iraqi oil.

Iraq Mosque Blast Leaves 5 Dead, 37 Hurt.

A car rigged with explosives exploded outside a Shiite Muslim mosque as worshippers streamed out of Friday prayers, killing five people and wounding 37, according to medical officials in the central Iraqi town of Baqouba.

Liberation! For a few. From the American prison: Chaos as US frees fewer Iraqis than promised: Released men driven past relatives and the press .

Mr Juburi said that the American civil affairs unit had handed him a letter that gave him permission to visit his uncle. Unfortunately, however, whenever he showed it at the prison's front gate American troops shooed him away. "I've been here 20 times. So far they haven't let me in," he said.

The Chief of Iraq's only mental hospital expresses concerns about the mental health of many Iraqis: For Iraq's emotionally fragile, future is bleak.

Another deadly couple of days for US troops: U.S. Helicopter Crashes in Iraq, 9 Killed. Meanwhile: Cargo plane hit by missile.

The deaths brought to at least 495 the number of Americans killed in Iraq from hostile and non-hostile causes since the start of the war in March.

Riverbend's comments (negative) on an independent Kurdistan and the splitting of Iraq: Splitting Iraq....

An antiwar father has a complicated reaction upon visiting Iraq: Father speaks of son's death in Iraq.

A moving letter from an Iraqi mother about the murder of her son by US GIs: An Iraqi family's tragedy .

Injuries to US troops increasing: Troops in Iraq suffer huge risk of injury: Deaths hold steady, but rate of postwar wounded soaring.

US plans to turn over power to hand picked government and postpone elections are denounced again by Iraq's leading Shia cleric: Top Iraqi Cleric Criticizes U.S. Handover Plans .

The US is trying to lure troops to re-enlist with bribes. According to this article, its not likely to work with those on duty in Iraq: GIs in Iraq Scoff at Re-Enlistment Bonus.

``Man, they can't pay me enough to stay here,'' said a 23-year-old specialist from the Army's 4th Infantry Division.

Marines vow to treat Iraqis better than the Army has: Marines to employ new tactics in Iraq.

Robert Fisk writes of another death in the chaos that Iraq has become: Shot For A Mercedes And Left To Die.

An documented account by Dahr Jamail of an Iraqi detainee, now in a permanent coma, who evidently suffered torture in US custody: Detained, Bludgeoned and Electrocuted into a Coma.

While there, the hospital administration informed them they had someone in a coma by the name of Abrahim Sadiq Zoman, who was dropped off two days prior by the Americans. According to the administrative staff at the hospital, the only information provided by the Americans was the incorrect name and a medical report which said Mr. Abrahim had suffered a heart attack. They provided no information as to where he had been picked up, no address and no other personal information. It is documented by both the hospital and Iraqi Red Crescent in Tikrit (who took the photos of Mr. Abrahim), that the Americans dropped the comatose man off with the aforementioned information....
The doctors at the hospital in Tikrit, after performing diagnostic tests, informed the family that Mr. Abrahim had suffered massive head trauma, electrocution, and other beatings on his arms. An EKG proved that his heart was functioning perfectly. The family was told that he was in an unrecoverable state and would be in a coma for the rest of his life from the obvious trauma suffered from torture. The family decided to take him to Haitha, where CT and CAT scans proved the man was in a hopeless condition.

The US trumpets releasing 506 innocent Iraqi prisoners. How many more are there? U.S. releasing 500 Iraqi prisoners.

US officials announce that they will become (even) more aggressive with resistance fighters. The result: US troops kill Iraqi couple: U.S. troops accused of killing Iraqi couple in attack on house; Kurdish party office attacked.

Robert Fisk conveys "a story of hope" from the new Iraq: Water Is Bringing Marsh Arabs' World Back To Life.

Many Marsh Arabs long ago exchanged the water buffalo for the Mercedes and became traders. Other tribes moved in and planted crops in newly irrigated land. But Thesiger's people have survived and Saddam's regime has not, and yesterday a small tide of dark-blue water was still seeping back into the desert, creeping around Mahamar, Manzan, Meshal and all the lost villages of the marshes.

New terms for the liberators: Iraqis revive ancient word `ulooj' to insult, greet U.S. troops.

"Ulooj," they say, and while some use it with disdain and others more lightheartedly, it's unmistakably not a nice reference... Among the translations offered: pigs of the desert, foreign infidels, little donkeys, medieval crusaders, bloodsuckers and horned creatures....
"The Americans always use fancy words for their operations here - Desert Storm, Iron Grip - so we should also have special names for them,"

The occupation is certainly good for some: Bechtel wins new 1.8 billion dollar contract in Iraq.

The French join the dead: French nationals killed in Iraq.

Sunni and Shia can unite around opposing the occupation: On edge, Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq try to talk it out: A meeting Saturday of Sunni and Shiite clerics revealed a possible piece of common ground: distrust of the US.

"We will all stand now in the face of our enemies who seek to divide us,'' says Sheikh Hasan al-Baghdadi, a black- turbaned preacher from the Shiite holy city of Najaf. "The occupiers are creating the problem between Shiites and Sunni. It's the same old conspiracy, divide and conquer."

It looks like the the Iraqi police are getting comfortable with their new role: Iraqi Police and Troops Clash.

Iraqi police in the southern city of Basra have opened fire on former Iraqi soldiers involved in a violent protest to demand overdue pay from the US-led coalition.

Another feature in common between the US and Iraq: mass homelessness that no one does anything about: Turmoil, neglect have millions homeless in Iraq: Mud cities among proposals for providing housing.

With an average family size of five, the number commonly used here, the estimates extrapolate to between 7 million and more than 12.5 million Iraqis in need of homes -- a staggering figure for a nation of 25 million....
CPA officials at one point budgeted nearly $2 billion for housing in fiscal year 2004, a figure they estimated would meet about 7 percent of the overall need. But in his request to Congress, President Bush requested just $100 million. Congress approved nothing.

Police chief seems to call US liars: Iraq Police Chief Says U.S. Army Gunned Down Family. Don't hold your breath for justice as US Coalition forces Above the Law, According to the CPA.

Yet another tragedy for Iraqi women, having their men "detained" by Americans and being forced to fend for themselves: Iraq Women Alone, Distraught as U.S. Rounds Up Men .

The New York Times reports that the US is set to grant autonomy to the Iraqi Kurds: Kurdish Region in Northern Iraq Will Get to Keep Special Status.

No more of the soft touch. Its killer time: Phoenix Rising [Robert Dreyfuss in the American Prospect] and CIA plans new secret police to fight Iraq terrorism. [Julian Coman in the Telegraph (UK)] The US is setting up new Iraqi assassination squads. get ready to dig up the US-dug mass graves in 20 years.

[Dreyfuss:] Congress approved in early November ... the creation of a paramilitary unit manned by militiamen associated with former Iraqi exile groups. Experts say it could lead to a wave of extrajudicial killings, not only of armed rebels but of nationalists, other opponents of the U.S. occupation and thousands of civilian Baathists—up to 120,000 of the estimated 2.5 million former Baath Party members in Iraq.... "They're clearly cooking up joint teams to do Phoenix-like things, like they did in Vietnam," says Vincent Cannistraro, former CIA chief of counterterrorism. Ironically, he says, the U.S. forces in Iraq are working with key members of Saddam Hussein's now-defunct intelligence agency to set the program in motion....
The hidden $3 billion will fund covert ("black") operations disguised as an Air Force classified program. According to John Pike, an expert on classified military budgets at globalsecurity.org, the cash, spread over three years, is likely being funneled directly to the CIA....
[T]he bulk of the covert money will support U.S. efforts to create a lethal, and revenge-minded, Iraqi security force. "The big money would be for standing up an Iraqi secret police to liquidate the resistance," says Pike. "And it has to be politically loyal to the United States."
It's also pouring money into the creation of an Iraqi secret police staffed mainly by gunmen associated with members of the puppet Iraqi Governing Council. Those militiamen are linked to Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (inc), the Kurdish peshmerga ("facing death") forces and Shiite paramilitary units, especially those of the Iran-backed Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq....
[O]ver lunch at a Washington eatery, I asked a neoconservative strategist how to deal with Iraq. "It's time for 'no more Mr. Nice Guy,'" he said. "All those people shouting, 'Down with America!' and dancing in the street when Americans are attacked? We have to kill them."
[Coman:] John Pike, an expert on classified military budgets at the Washington-based Global Security organisation, told The Telegraph: "The creation of a well-functioning local secret police, that in effect is a branch of the CIA, is part of the general handover strategy. If you are in control of the secret police in a country then you don't really have to worry too much about who the local council appoints to collect the garbage."
In the short term, CIA officials expect that the very existence of a strongly pro-American security force will terrify civilians who are currently supporting the insurgency....
"The presence of a powerful secret police, loyal to the Americans, will mean that the new Iraqi political regime will not stray outside the parameters that the US wants to set," said Mr Pike. "To begin with, the new Iraqi government will reign but not rule."

Dahr Jamail reports on the conflict between CPA claims and reality: Conflicting numbers and a Surreal Press Conference.

The conflicts surrounding women border guards: Female Officers Cross Cultural Frontier in Iraq: Women on Patrol Near Iran Brave Insults and Disapproval.

CT soldier cured of addiction of combat: Injured soldier sobered in combat.

Robert Fisk: British soldiers 'kicked Iraqi prisoner to death'.

The Sunday Herald suggest a link between the Kurds' role in the capture of Saddam and the Kurds recent demands for political concessions: Saddam’s capture: was a deal brokered behind the scenes?

US troops protected from danger: US military personnel blocked from accessing Electronic Iraq.

Congressman Henry Waxman & John Dingell wrote a scathing letter to criticizing the Bush administration's contracts in Iraq: Bush 'Doling Out Monopolies' To Corporate Cronies in Iraq.

While the administration alleges it will control costs by oversight mechanisms, the plan for achieving this is a joke, as the letter's authors point out. There will be only 120 employees on the ground in Iraq to oversee $18.7 billion on contracts. "This is woefully inadequate," they write. "The Army Corps of Engineers, in contrast, has 30,000 employees to administer $14 billion in projects...."
"Like Bechtel and Halliburton, several large corporations will receive massive contracts worth billions of dollars without ever having to demonstrate an ability to complete specific projects at lower cost than other companies. This may be a good arrangement for the contractors, but it's not a good deal for taxpayers," say Waxman and Dingle. "Taxpayers will pay a high price for this imprudent approach."
The new contracts will be of the "Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity" (IDIQ) type, meaning the total amount of work and specific projects to be completed are unknown at the time of the bid and award. They are "cost-plus" contracts, meaning the government reimburses the contractor for the actual cost and then pays an additional fee. There is little incentive for the contractor to keep down costs because costs are completely reimbursed.

Robert Fisk on the future of Iraq, if current US plans are carried out: Mr Bush has one priority for 2004. Also from Robert Fisk: Far From Baghdad, Soldiers And Pilgrims Shake Hands.

[Mr. Bush] So the coming months are not difficult to comprehend. As the insurgency continues - and as President Bush's re-election drama grows nearer - the US administration will be ever more anxious to do two things: to insist that America will "stay the course" - and to get out as quickly as possible. There will be ever more policemen hired, ever more militias, ever more ex-members of Saddam's old secret service, to act as sandbags between Iraqi guerillas and the Americans.
[Far From Baghdad:] That was when a Humvee overtook me at speed, its visored, flak-jacketed crew swinging their heavy machine-gun at all us civilians. Then one of the masked figures gave us a wave and a thumbs up and I saw what he'd written in dust on the window of his Humvee - "Take Me Home". Now there's the voice of the occupation army.

More support for the troops: Bush drug proposal enrages veterans: Plan may alienate military retirees by imposing higher fees for prescriptions. After all, they're no longer useful as cannon fodder.

Assassinations in Mosul have residents perplexed, scared: Assassinations send chill through Iraqi city.

Its the jackboot again: US soldiers ransack Sunni mosque: Iraq's minority faith targeted in hunt for weapons.

"Americans might have the latest technology, but they make little effort to understand people's souls," he said....
Last week Sunni elders from across the country announced they were setting up a leadership council or shura to increase their influence on Iraq's political process. The council includes representatives from all major Sunni religious groups.... During Thursday's raid US troops arrested 34 people, including several leading members of the shura, before a meeting of the body in Baghdad today....
"All of us on the shura council have spent time in prison," he said. "We suffered under Saddam. But at the end of the day this is our country. "If someone invaded Britain what would you do? You would probably go and fight."

For Iraq's Christians, the future looks bleak: Killings Sow Fear Among Christians in Southern Iraq.

A useful analysis of the emerging conflict over the future status of Kirkuk: Kirkuk's future could make or break new Iraq. Another piece contains some additional details: Iraq faces ethnic conflict on new front after crisis talks fail

Difficulties with Iraq's new civil defense force: Cracks Appear in U.S.-Trained Iraq Corps.

Some U.S. trainers in Tikrit say the Iraqi force is ill-equipped, prone to corruption and so trigger-happy that some have shot at their own comrades....
``OK, when the Americans leave, we are here, ICDC,'' Wadi said proudly, wearing reflective sunglasses. He adds that they'll need helicopters and their own headquarters, drawing laughter from several American soldiers overhearing the conversation.

The impending US troop rotation poses risks: U.S. Prepares for Risky Iraq Troop Rotation .

After the latest bombing, survival: A Cruel Sense of Humor is All That is Left for Iraqis to Cling to After a Suicide Bombing.

Further ethnic tension in Kirkuk: Ethnic tensions flare in Kirkuk.

TWO Kurds were found stabbed to death in Kirkuk, police said today as ethnic tensions boiled over again in the northern Iraqi oil centre. The discovery came the day after three people were killed and dozens more wounded when clashes erupted between Kurdish fighters from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Arab and Turkmen demonstrators in Kirkuk.

The part-time soldiers are increasingly dying: Guardsmen, reservists bear growing share of America's death toll in Iraq .

The Wild West in Iraq, as this account of a trip from Jordan to Baghdad conveys: Ironing out wrinkles on Baghdad drive.

Protest, Resistance, and Civil War

Occupation Resistance Analysis

More US and Iraqi deaths: Northern Iraq Blast Kills 3 U.S. Troops. And, a few hours later: Blast Kills at Least Five in Baghdad Neighborhood. And a little later, in the same neighborhood: Second Baghdad Blast Kills One.

[Northern Iraq:] A roadside bomb killed three American soldiers Saturday when it ripped through their convoy near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, while a car bomb outside a police station in Mosul left nine people dead and 45 others wounded.
[Blast:] A projectile slammed into a crowded residential area in Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least five people and injuring several others, witnesses and medical sources said.... Angry relatives shouted around the corpses. "Where did this rocket come from," they said. "Did it come from the Americans?"

When Saddam was captured, two hypotheses were proposed by rival analysts. Those who claimed that the insurgency was just Bathist holdouts claimed that insurgent attacks would decrease. Those who actually had some contact with the insurgents claimed that they were regrouping so as to be more effective in the face of US military superiority. The first data is in: US deaths rise in wake of Saddam capture. Also, note below, the vaunted American military claims to be incapable of addition!

US combat deaths in Iraq have risen sharply during January despite a drop in the number of attacks and the capture of former dictator Saddam Hussein over a month ago....
The US military on Thursday declined to confirm or deny the figures for combat deaths in Iraq this month, which were calculated from press releases from US Central Command in Florida. A US military spokesman in Baghdad said figures were only kept for two-month periods, and a computer malfunction made it impossible to calculate an official casualty count for separate months.

so as to preempt bad headlines before the US elections, they now take to that traditional PR strategy of lowering expectations: Iraq attacks to rise - US general.

Kathy Kelly, a founder of Voices in the Wilderness, has been sentenced to three months in federal prison for a protest at the Ft. Benning military base against the School of the Americas: Iraq Activist Kathy Kelly Sentenced to Federal Prison. Here is her Statement to Judge Upon Being Sentenced.

Hannah Allam and Tom Lasseter, of the Knight-Ridder papers, claim that revolution is being openly talked about in Iraq: Iraqi Whispers Mull Repeat of 1920s Revolt Over Western Occupation.

Whispers of "revolution" are growing louder in Baghdad this month at teahouses, public protests and tribal meetings as Iraqis point to the past as an omen for the future.
Now, many say there's an uncanny similarity with today: unpopular foreign occupiers, unelected governing bodies and unhappy residents eager for self-determination. The result could be another bloody uprising.

The insurgency seems to be picking up steam. Six US soldier die today: Iraqi insurgents claim more lives [CNN]. Or Widespread attacks kill 13 in Iraq: Six U.S. soldiers, two CNN employees among dead [CNN].

[BBC:]Six American troops serving in Iraq, two CNN employees and two Iraqi civilians have been killed in another day of violence in and around Baghdad.

More reporters die. This time its rebels not Americans doing the killing: 2 CNN employees killed in attack.

More death: Three U.S. Soldiers Killed West of Baghdad.

Seven Iraqi policemen die: Attacks West Of Baghdad Claim Lives Of 7 Iraqi Policemen.

Patrick Cockburn explains: How roadside bombs have become the Iraqi guerrillas' most dangerous weapon.

US helicopter crashes searching for GI US Army Says Helicopter Crashes Near Mosul, Iraq.

Thousands of Japanese protest troop deployment: Thousands rally in Tokyo against troop dispatch to Iraq.

Another bloody day: Blasts kill soldiers and Iraqis. There was evidently yet another attack, with US casualties today: Bomb Kills 3 U.S. Troops West of Baghdad.

another helicopter down. Two pilots dead: Two US pilots killed in chopper crash in Iraq.

Democracy? New mass demonstrations for democracy, this time in Baghdad: Iraqis protest at handover plan [BBC]. More on the demonstrations. They appear to have been truly massive, with Sunni and Shia marching together: Iraqis march ahead of U.N. meeting [CNN].

[BBC:] Monday's protest saw thousands upon thousands of Iraqis marching through the capital, many clasping each other's hands above their heads, to demand full general elections.
[CNN:] Sunni and Shia Muslims joined Monday for a massive, peaceful demonstration in Baghdad, marching in favor of a prominent cleric's demand for direct elections....
Sistani's call for direct elections sparked numerous demonstrations last week, and the mile-long march -- some estimates said as many as 100,000 people -- Monday was by far the largest. Participants, overwhelmingly men, changed and carried signs bearing slogans like "Real democracy means real elections," and a Shia cleric delivered a message from Sistani.

Yet another bomb today, this one in Karbala, injures 13: Thirteen wounded in bomb attack in Iraqi holy city.

Antiwar celebrities are supporting the British woman, Katharine Gun, who (allegedly) revealed US spying against countries wavering about supporting the Iraq war at the United Nations: US stars hail Iraq war whistleblower: GCHQ worker Katharine Gun faces jail for exposing American corruption in the run-up to war on Saddam. Now her celebrity supporters insist it is Bush and Blair who should be in the dock..

Another major bomb kills and injures dozens of Iraqis: Baghdad car bomb 'leaves 20 dead'. Evidently, at least two Americans were killed. Should you wish to actually see the bomb exploding, it turns out the cameras were rolling. In their even-handedness, the Americans seized the film and briefly detained Iranian journalists who filmed the scene: Iranian Journalists Filmed Baghdad Blast Scene.

resistance fighters are using more advanced weapons to bring down helicopters: Study Says Iraq Insurgents Use Advanced Weapons.

Shia clerics throughout Iraq urge support for direct elections: Clerics whip up support for poll.

The call for popular elections reverberated from mosques throughout the Shia Muslim south of Iraq yesterday, as the country's Shia clergy lined up behind Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in a political showdown with the US-led coalition. At Friday prayers, clerics who usually begin their sermons with a word or two about current issues made clear that the faithful should support Mr Sistani's call for elections to a national transitional assembly next May....
Yesterday, on the streets of Shia strongholds such as Najaf, Karbala and the Sadr City neighbourhood in Baghdad, signs went up in support of elections, marches were being organised, and random clerics with loudspeakers were exhorting the faithful. It was clear that past differences between rival clerics were being cast aside amid a mass effort to mobilise support for Mr Sistani.
[Where is Orwell?] Leaving the political future up to an election could deal a serious blow to US efforts to make Iraq a test case for western-style secular democracy.

A background piece from the Guardian on Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani: Rise of the cleric with all the answers.

Bloody saturday for American troops: 3 U.S. Soldiers Killed in Bomb Attack in Iraq. Two Iraqi civil defense force members were also killed: Powerful bomb kills 5 in Iraq.

Another day of protests in the Shia south: Clashes Rise in Southern Iraq: Jobless Protesters Confront Ukrainian Troops and Local Police.

Throughout the day, Iraqi police fanned out across the city, with pistol-brandishing agents careering around corners in unmarked cars and riflemen darting from block to block with their faces hidden by scarves.
Some people complained that occupation authorities had been slow to deliver promised jobs and services, but most blamed Iraqi officials, including both former Baath Party members who managed to retain niches in the bureaucracy and former exiles who were appointed to national and regional posts by U.S. officials but have done little to help the public.

The protests continue for a second day in Amarah. Looks like the Shia south isn't so quite any more. Also, the top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani has reiterated his call for elections. Imagine that nerve! Thirty years ago, people in American colonies that wanted elections the US didn't want were called "communists". What will they call them today? Terrorists? Iraqis demanding jobs stone British and Iraqi forces a day after deadly clashes with authorities.

Waves of protesting Iraqis marched against British soldiers, hurling stones and setting off homemade explosives in the southeastern city of Amarah on Sunday, a day after clashes killed six protesters and wounded at least 11.

Iraq Mortar Attack Wounds 35 U.S. Soldiers. One soldier later died.

Iraq attacks kill three US troops. Four Iraqis, including a woman and child were killed by US troops in Tikrit.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi police chief in Tikrit - home town of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein - told the AFP news agency that a vehicle had been hit by a hail of US shots and careered off the road. "The car, a grey Chevrolet Caprice, was hit by 27 shots and skidded, resulting in the death of four people, including a woman and a nine-year-old child," said Colonel Osama Adham Abdel Ghaffer.
[Of course:] US Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell ... said he was aware of "an engagement of some kind and a civilian car was hit", but his troops were not involved.

Bulgarian resistance to being occupiers: Some Bulgarian Soldiers Refuse to Go to Iraq.

Another helicopter shot down. One US soldier dead: U.S. Soldier Killed in Helicopter Crash in Iraq .

The American genius. Amazing machines adapted for precision killing: Digital Warfare System Adapted for Iraq. Meanwhile, the Iraqi genius. Even animals adapted for killing: War Takes An Inhuman Twist With Cats, Dogs and Donkeys Turned Into Bombs by Robert Fisk.

[Fisk:] Even cats have the same effect these days. American soldiers returning home to the US are giving ambush lessons to incoming members of the 82nd Airborne and the Marines. The "terrorists" or "rebels" or "insurgents" are using the hollowed out carcasses of cats and dogs to hide explosives. On the left, the explosives are hidden inside the concrete median. On the right - well, take your local moggie, slit him or her in half, insert three mortar shells and leave it by the side of the road.

The day after: Fear grips Baghdad after deadly bombing. There seems to be various speculations about the motive for the New Years Eve restaurant bombing that killed 8.

Analysis, Commentary, & Domestic Reaction

Occupation Resistance Analysis

Karl Rove calculates: Bush May Go For Iraq Intel Probe.

John Pilger uses his personal experience of (Western) state sponsored terrorism to analyze the West's committing and supporting vast crimes around the world, formerly under such labels as the "fight against communism", now the "war on terror": Power, Propaganda and Conscience in the War On Terror.

Like the Suharto dictatorship, these [Afghan] warlords are our official friends, whereas the Taliban were our official enemies. The distinction is important, because the victims of our official friends are worthy of our care and concern, whereas the victims of our official enemies are not. That is the principle upon which totalitarian regimes run their domestic propaganda. And that, basically, is how western democracies, like Australia, run theirs.
The difference is that in totalitarian societies, people take for granted that their governments lie to them: that their journalists are mere functionaries, that their academics are quiet and complicit. So people in these countries adjust accordingly. They learn to read between the lines. They rely on a flourishing underground....
A Czech friend, a novelist, told me; "You in the West are disadvantaged. You have your myths about freedom of information, but you have yet to acquire the skill of deciphering: of reading between the lines. One day, you will need it."
That day has come. The so-called war on terror is the greatest threat to all of us since the most dangerous years of the cold war. Rapacious, imperial America has found its new "red scare...." The totalitarian impulses that have long existed in America are now in full cry. Go back to the 1950s, the McCarthy years, and the echoes today are all too familiar – the hysteria; the assault on the Bill of Rights; a war based on lies and deception....
Put simply, we are being brainwashed to believe that Al-Qaida, or any such group, is the real threat. And it isn’t. By a simple mathematical comparison of American terror and Al-Qaida terror, the latter is a lethal flea. In my lifetime, the United States has supported and trained and directed terrorists in Latin America, Africa, Asia. The toll of their victims is in the millions.
This is not to say that the threat from al-Qaida is not real... But the most pervasive, clear and present danger is that of which we are told nothing. It is the danger posed by "our" governments – a danger suppressed by propaganda that casts "the West" as always benign: capable of misjudgment and blunder, yes, but never of high crime....
The aim, says the Pentagon, is to achieve "information dominance" – which, in turn, is part of "full spectrum dominance" – the stated policy of the United States to control land, sea, space and information.

Important to remember amid all the brouhaha over missing WMD, are the extremes to which the United States went to help Iraq develop and use these weapons, way back in those unmentionable days when the US viewed Iraq as an ally. After all, the last fifty years make clear that the US has no objections to "WMD" when in US ally hands, as witness the (missing) invasion of Israel to remove its nuclear weapons. and don't forget the tons and tons of "conventional" weapons which killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians and Iraqis: Arming Iraq: A Chronology of U.S. Involvement.

July, 1984. CIA begins giving Iraq intelligence necessary to calibrate its mustard gas attacks on Iranian troops.
March, 1986. The United States with Great Britain block all Security Council resolutions condemning Iraq's use of chemical weapons, and on March 21 the US becomes the only country refusing to sign a Security Council statement condemning Iraq's use of these weapons.

Paul Krugman continues his outcries about the systematic patterns of lie and coverup from the administration, and what it says about our country: Where's the Apology?.

Still, the big story isn't about Mr. Bush; it's about what's happening to America. Other presidents would have liked to bully the C.I.A., stonewall investigations and give huge contracts to their friends without oversight. They knew, however, that they couldn't. What has gone wrong with our country that allows this president to get away with such things?

Republicans join ABB: anyone But Bush: Bush Slips -- Among Republicans.

In all, 8,279 primary voters wrote in the names of Democratic challengers to Bush on their Republican ballots. That's a significant number. In the 2000 general election, Bush beat Democrat Al Gore in New Hampshire by just 7,212 votes. Had Gore won New Hampshire, he would have become president, regardless of how the disputed Florida recount was resolved.

President Bush said Friday "I want to know the facts", but doesn't want an independent commission to find out the facts: Bush Declines to Back Call for Iraq Probe. Presumably, the wrong people, us, might find out what happened.

Former chief weapons inspector Scott Ritter says: 'The public must look to what is missing from the report'.

A new poll in Britain shows mixed reactions to the Hutton Report: New poll reveals public mistrust.

Three times as many people trust the BBC to tell the truth than trust the government, despite Lord Hutton's damning judgment, an exclusive poll by ICM for the Guardian shows. More significantly, the survey reveals that confidence in both has been shattered. Almost half of those surveyed said they trusted neither. In a sign that Tony Blair has failed to achieve a "bounce" from the Hutton report, the survey also found a six-point drop in support for the Iraq war to less than half of voters.

A little late, we get information on Who Is Hutton?.

Hutton spent his career as Judge and Jury in the notorious northern Ireland kangaroo 'Diplock Courts'. These were special non-Jury courts, condemned by human rights advocates for their miscarriages of justice. He was hated for this role by the families of the many innocent catholics wrongly convicted here. Hutton distinguished himself after the Bloody Sunday massacre of civil rights protesters in 1972. He played a key role in the ensuing judicial cover-up called the Widgery Inquiry which absolved British troops of Murder. This miscarriage of justice is only now being investigated by the current Saville inquiry....
However, he will be remembered in the rest of the UK for his role in the 1999 Pinochet affair. Another senior Judge, Lord Hoffman had contributed to the decision to arrest and extradite the notorious former dicator of Chile and mass murderer General Pinochet during his visit to Britain. As a law lord, Hutton led the rightwing attack on Lord Hoffman, on the excuse that Hoffman's links to the human rights group amnesty international invalidated Pinochets arrest! Lord Hutton said "public confidence in the integrity of the administration of justice would be shaken" if Lord Hoffman's ruling was not overturned.

Many American newspaper Editorials Question Bush's Role in 'Cooking' Up a War.

The long-term relations of David Kay's, the former US chief weapons hunter, to the CIA and other intelligence agencies, as well as to private companies profiting off the war have been ignored: David Kay and the CIA. Kay's credibility is further questioned by his earlier comments as an NBC expert analyst upon seeing the so-called mobile bio-weapons labs that turned out, according to Kay himself, to be nothing of the sort, cited in: No Mystery to Untangling WMD Puzzler.

Last May, before his appointment to head the U.S. weapons search, he was working as an expert analyst for NBC News and was given the chance to inspect one of the trailers firsthand. He immediately proclaimed them proof that Saddam Hussein had been producing biological weapons. "Literally, there's nothing else you would do this way on a mobile facility," Kay told the world. He also rejected the suggestion that the traile

The Hutton Report, exonerating Tony Blair stirs controversy: Demands grow for inquiry into the case for war as Hutton is accused of a 'whitewash' while Half Britons say Hutton was "whitewash". The british press isn't buying it: 'Blair without flaw - official!'. And Seumas Milne argues: The shadow of Iraq: The Hutton saga is a sideshow. The real issue is who will pay the price for war and occupation

The NOP survey for the London Evening Standard said 49 percent agreed with the question "do you agree or disagree that the report was a whitewash". Four out of 10 of those questioned said they disagreed and 11 percent said they didn't know in a poll of 521 people conducted on Wednesday.

Greg Palast sees the Hutton Report as a sign of danger to independent reporting in general, and to the BBC in particular: BBC At War: M'Lord Hutton Blesses Blair's Attack on BBC's Investigation of Iraq War Claims.

New White House lies, this time about what they claimed before the war: US denies 'imminent' threat warning.

The Lord Hutton report into British WMD expert David Kelly exonerates Tony Blair and criticizes BBC: Hutton clears Blair Read the report (pdf).

Claims that "antiwar countries" took Iraqi bribes before the war: Anti-war nations 'took bribes' before war began: Investigation launched into claims that Saddam Hussein used oil to win support around the world.

Fred Kaplan, in Salon, argues that David Kay told much the same story in his report last September. Only then he used such deliberate obfuscation that most could not see the message: The Art of Camouflage: David Kay comes clean, almost.

My favorite example of Kay's attempt to trump substance with style: Saddam's scientists "began several small and relatively unsophisticated research initiatives … that could have been useful in developing a weapons-relevant science base for the long-term." This description is so vague, it would accurately describe the act of reading a textbook on nuclear physics.
Kay did his job well. His report did not tell lies. But it puffed up enough smoke to let President Bush proclaim it as a justification for the war.

A letter by 3 British doctors raises questions as to whether Dr. Kelly, the British weapons expert committed suicide, as claimed: Our doubts about Dr Kelly's suicide.

Michael Moore explains his slip in calling Bush a "deserter": You say deserter, I say more dessert.

I would like to apologize for referring to George W. Bush as a "deserter." What I meant to say is that George W. Bush is a deserter, an election thief, a drunk driver, a WMD liar and a functional illiterate. And he poops his pants. In fact, he “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die."
Actually, what I meant to say up in New Hampshire last week was that "We're going to have Bush for dessert come November!" I'm always mixing up "dessert" and "desert" -- I'm sure many of you have that problem.

the source of the infamous 45-minute WMD claim says it was a "crock of shit": Iraqi who gave MI6 45-minute claim says it was untrue.

Former deputy director for the State Department's Office of Counter Terrorism Larry C. Johnson attacks the Bush Administration's handling of intelligence: The CIA revolt against the White House: Former intelligence official Larry C. Johnson blasts the Bush administration's "outright pattern of bullying" .

So what we've seen is a repeated pattern across different agencies, all with the apparent sanction of the White House, of going after anybody who's a critic, or who's seen as not being in tune with the administration's message. When people raise legitimate issues that may not be consistent with existing policy, instead of conducting a fair intellectual assessment of those issues, those people are attacked and their character is impugned....
Moreover, the war on Iraq was a complete diversion from the war on terrorism. The Bush administration continues to tout that it was central to the war on terrorism, but that's just flat out wrong.

Joanne Landy, codirector of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy and a member of the New Politics editorial board, argues for immediate US pullout and against the UN going into Iraq: Questions for the Peace Movement: The U.S. Occupation of Iraq.

Joshua Micah Marshall, in the New Yorker, analyzes the weaknesses of the Bush administration's approach to world empire: Power Rangers: Did the Bush Administration create a new American empire—or weaken the old one?

Former Secretary of Defense and Vietnam War architect Robert McNamara speaks out on the mistakes being made in Iraq: 'It's Just Wrong What We're Doing'.

"We're misusing our influence," he said in a staccato voice that had lost none of its rapid-fire engagement. "It's just wrong what we're doing. It's morally wrong, it's politically wrong, it's economically wrong...." "There have been times in the last year when I was just utterly disgusted by our position, the United States' position vis-à-vis the other nations of the world."

A majority want rid of Bush. Look for a new Terror Alert! 52 Percent of Voters Don't Want to See Bush Re-Elected (44% Do). "37 Percent Strongly Want to See Him Re-Elected, 47 Percent Strongly Do Not."

Meanwhile, Iraqis doubt US promises: Only about half of Iraqis believe US will give up power by June 30: poll.

Only 52 percent of Iraqis said they believed the United States would stick to a November 15 agreement to transfer power to an appointed Iraqi body on June 30, according to the results of the poll which were distributed to journalists by coalition authorities. While more than 60 percent are also aware that direct elections are due to be held in 2005 under a coalition agreement with the interim Governing Council, only 54 percent believe they will materialize, it said.
Opposition to the US-led occupation varied from city to city, but 60 percent of those polled were against the continued occupation of Iraq. A total of 44 percent said they were "strongly opposed" to the foreign military presence and another 16 percent said they were "somewhat opposed". Only 12 percent said they "strongly supported" their presence.

Flynt Leverett, who was senior director for Middle Eastern affairs at the National Security Council from 2002 to 2003, explains: Why Libya Gave Up on the Bomb. HINT: It wasn't the Iraq invasion.

One reason the Bush administration was able to take a more constructive course with Libya was that the White House, uncharacteristically, sidelined the administration's neoconservative wing — which strongly opposes any offer of carrots to state sponsors of terrorism, even when carrots could help end such problematic behavior — when crucial decisions were made.

Powell finally admits doubt re: WMD: Powell casts doubt on Iraq WMDs. Funny how he was so sure when it mattered.

But in his latest remarks, he told reporters travelling with him that it was an "open question" whether Iraq had any stocks of weapons of mass destruction at all. "The answer to that question is, we don't know yet,"

The smoking gun! Chief WMD inspector says they haven't existed since the early 1990's: Saddam's WMD never existed, says chief American arms inspecto.

Mr Kay, a former UN inspector, said that most of what was going to be found in the hunt for Saddam Hussein's WMD had already been uncovered. The returning of sovereignty to the Iraqis would make the search more difficult, he added. "I don't think they existed," Mr Kay said, referring to Saddam's alleged stockpiles of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. "What everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the [1991] Gulf War and I don't think there was a large-scale production programme in the Nineties."

Another women's peace mission goes to Iraq: Tucsonan on peace mission to Iraq.

Maureen Dowd on the State of the Union: Riding the Crazy Train.

Whoa! That was quite the steroid-infused performance. Who's the guy's political consultant — Russell Crowe? He was so in-your-face, smirking his trademark smirk, it was disturbing to think of him in charge of the military. It's a good thing he stopped drinking and started talking about God....
For proof of how intemperate their policy has been, compare this year's State of the Union with last year's. Last year it was all about Iraq's frightening weapons. This year the only reference was to "dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations." Would Americans have supported a war to go get "program activities?" What is a program activity? Where is the White House speechwriters' ombudsman?

Must Read! In another brilliant analysis, Tom Engelhardt uses word counts to analyze what the State of the Union speech indicates about the vision of our future that Bush (and his handlers) wants us to have: Words must be credible: "No one can now doubt the word of America".

Harry Browne raises the question: Is War Necessary?

Being fortunate in the circumstances of my birth and my growing-up, I didn't squander that good fortune by looking for trouble. America was also fortunate in the circumstances of its birth. After one apparently necessary fight to extricate itself from British rule, it found itself in the best neighborhood possible. It is bounded by two friendly countries and two enormous oceans. No need here to look for trouble. And yet, ruled by American instead of British politicians, the United States has found itself embroiled in one street fight after another.

Must Read! Arundhati Roy calls for "war" against the US occupation of Iraq and the future it portends: The New American Century (an adaptation of her speech to the World Social Forum).

We have to become the global resistance to the occupation. Our resistance has to begin with a refusal to accept the legitimacy of the US occupation of Iraq. It means acting to make it materially impossible for Empire to achieve its aims. It means soldiers should refuse to fight, reservists should refuse to serve, workers should refuse to load ships and aircraft with weapons.

My definition o a military hero: Hicks trial won't be fair: US [military] lawyer.

Major Michael Mori says the military commission which will hear charges against him "will not provide a full and fair trial". Appearing before the media for the first time, Major Mori said: "The commission process has been created by those only with a vested interest in conviction."

Naomi Klein doesn't think that the schedule issue is the real reason the US doesn't want direct Iraqi elections: Bush's Iraq: An Appointocracy.

Given the widespread perception that the United States is not out to rebuild Iraq but to loot it, if Iraqis were given the chance to vote tomorrow, they could well immediately decide to expel U.S. troops and to reverse Mr. Bremer's privatization project, opting instead to protect local jobs. And that frightening prospect -- far more than the absence of a census -- explains why the White House is fighting so hard for its appointocracy.

Gwynne Dyer argues that: Al-Qaida will do Whatever it Takes to Assure Bush is Re-elected.

I know of no American analyst who has even made the obvious point that al-Qaida wants Bush to win next November's presidential election and continue his interventionist policies in the Middle East for another four years, and will act to save Bush from defeat if necessary. It probably would not do so unless Bush's number were slipping badly, for any terrorist attack on U.S. soil carries the risk of stimulating resentment against the current administration for failing to prevent it.
Certainly another attack on the scale of 9-11 would risk producing that result, even if al-Qaida had the resources for it. But a simple truck bomb in some U.S. city center a few months before the election, killing just a couple of dozen Americans, could drive voters back into Bush's arms and turn a tight election around. Al-Qaida is clever enough for that.

For those who need ammunition for those water cooler arguments, Stephen Zunes provides: An Annotated Critique of the Foreign Policy Segments of President George W. Bush’s 2004 State of the Union Address.

Cartoonist Ted Rall sees 700 cartoons of america drawn by French school children: Suffer the French School Children - Hatred Bush Hath Wrought.

The Onion reports on the latest US counter-insurgency strategy: US to give every Iraqi $3,544.91: Let free-market capitalism do the rest.

During the next six months, Rumsfeld said, each Iraqi man, woman, and child will receive a one-time payment of $3,544.91. On June 30, the transaction of all funds will be complete, and the sovereignty of a "brand-new, prosperous, secular, pluralistic, market-driven nation" will be handed to an as-yet-unformed government, probably one with a president and a congressional body of some sort.
The 14-member Allawi family in Tikrit received $49,628.74 Monday. "I'm very excited," Ahmed Allawi said. "A free, unregulated market will swiftly and efficiently lead to the establishment of an array of fairly priced goods and services. Any day now, there should be something available to spend this money on. As for today, the open-air market down the street is still on fire." Allawi was quick to assert, loudly and repeatedly, that none of his family's money was actually on his person.

De3mocracy Now! had a special five=part response to Bush's state of the union speech. You can hear it at: Arundhati Roy, Hans Von Sponeck Respond to Bush's State of the Union on Iraq.

Robert Sheer comments on the US determination to deny fair elections to the Iraqis: Give Iraqis the Election They Want: Despite Bush's rhetoric, the U.S. is opposing true democratic voting.

We also are told that key Iraqis signed off on the caucus plan, yet the Washington Post writes that "there is no precise equivalent in Arabic for 'caucus' nor any history of caucuses in the Arab world, U.S. officials say." Perhaps a format Iraqis might better understand could have been generated by, say, Iraqis?

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert defends British whistle blower Katharine Gun A Single Conscience v. the State.

Charley Reese argues that weapons of mass destruction is not the problem people should be concerned about. Rather the problem is war: Everything Is Hyped.

Robert Higgs' analysis suggests that the real "defense" budget is almost double that claimed for the Dept. of Defense: The Defense Budget Is Bigger Than You Think.

Jonathan Steele in the Guardian calls for the UN to stay out of Iraq: Why the US is running scared of elections in Iraq: Washington's plan to transfer power without a direct vote is a fraud.

Former Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowsk discusses the latest neocon thinking, with more than a touch of wit: About Those Neocons: Thinking Again, or Just Wondering?

The current issue [of Foreign Policy] features my pal, Max Boot, who is thinking again about neocons. Max says he is a neo-conservative, calls neo-conservatism a movement, and calls neoconservatives "hard-Wilsonians...."
Max "knows" that "the Iranian and North Korean peoples want to be free." I am not sure if he means "as free as an Iraqi" or perhaps "as free as a bird." Maybe he means that freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose. If so, the Iraqis are getting pretty damn free, given that we own the oil, the government resources, the Ba-ath elite’s resources, and we handpicked their governing council and are denying elections.
He mentions the noble lie, Plato’s governing elite, contempt for common people and their choices. Of course, these three are nothing at all like the Iraqi liberation experience, the "Governing Council," and the denial of Iraqi elections and the disregard for the United States Congress. Not at all.
Concluding, he says, "The continuing U.S. casualties are lamentable, but the losses so far are low by the standards of guerrilla wars – far fewer than the 500 soldiers the British lost in putting down a previous Iraq insurgency in 1920." Excuse me? Is this a typo?

An intelligent and impassioned critique of the US war and occupation by Christopher Preble of the Cato Institute: Iraqis Hail Saddam's Demise -- They Will Cheer Louder When We Depart.

This is a point that the proponents of regime change seem to completely ignore. Schools can be rebuilt. Electrical power can be restored. The water can flow. All of the physical reminders of war's brutal reality can be erased. But, even in a "perfect" war against a tyrannical regime, a war in which all military firepower is focused exclusively on the sources of that regime's power, people will die. The soldiers may all be men, and under traditional norms of armed conflict "legitimate" military targets, but these men are fathers, brothers, and sons. The clear picture of the legitimacy of targeting these individuals in the pursuit of noble ends is further clouded by the realization that many of these individuals serve against their will, drafted into the military under penalty of prison or death.

Alfred Cavallo, an energy consultant, writing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reminds us that, despite the machinations of US policy-makers, the supply of oil is finite: Oil: The illusion of plenty.

One hundred and twelve billion of anything sounds like a limitless quantity. But in terms of barrels of oil, it's just a drop in the gas tank. The world uses about 27 billion barrels of oil per year, meaning that 112 billion barrels--the proven oil reserves of Iraq, the second largest proven oil reserves in the world--would last a little more than four years at today's usage rates.

Michael Klare gets at the roots of Bush-Cheney foreign policy: Bush-Cheney Energy Strategy: Procuring the Rest of the World’s Oil.

When first assuming office in early 2001, President George W. Bush’s top foreign policy priority was not to prevent terrorism or to curb the spread of weapons of mass destruction.... Rather, it was to increase the flow of petroleum from suppliers abroad to U.S. markets....
As a result, a two-pronged strategy governs U.S. policy toward much of the world. One arm of this strategy is to secure more oil from the rest of the world, and the other is to enhance the capability to intervene. While one of these objectives arises from energy preoccupations and the other from security concerns, the upshot is a single direction for U.S. dominance in the 21st Century. It is this combination of strategies, more than anything else, that will anchor the United States’ international relations for years to come.
Senator Kennedy's> views on the Iraq war, this time in a Washington Post op-ed format: A Dishonest War .

Writer Arundhati Roy has plans for President Bush: Roy hopes Saddam's fate for Bush.

James Fallows, in the Atlantic, demonstrates that the US, including the military did significant planning for the post-war occupation. Those in charge just didn't think it was important, and ignored it: Blind Into Baghdad: The U.S. occupation of Iraq is a debacle not because the government did no planning but because a vast amount of expert planning was willfully ignored by the people in charge. The inside story of a historic failure.

All this, and much more, was laid out in detail and in writing long before the U.S. government made the final decision to attack. Even now the collective efforts at planning by the CIA, the State Department, the Army and the Marine Corps, the United States Agency for International Development, and a wide variety of other groups inside and outside the government are underappreciated by the public.... The Administration will be admired in retrospect for how much knowledge it created about the challenge it was taking on. U.S. government predictions about postwar Iraq's problems have proved as accurate as the assessments of pre-war Iraq's strategic threat have proved flawed.
But the Administration will be condemned for what it did with what was known. The problems the United States has encountered are precisely the ones its own expert agencies warned against.

Our Future? Vice President Dick Cheney promises endless war in his Speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. See the San Francisco Chronicle article: Cheney's grim vision: decades of war.

Brian Cloughley discusses: Iron Hammers in Iraq: How to Destroy Democracy.

"All the best, and sorry for the unpleasant situation," said an officer to Mohamed as he was leaving the prison, adding that, "there was actually no reason for you spending the last month here"." That's Operation Iraqi Freedom....
As I end this piece, an item in the New York Times of 13 January has appeared on the screen : ". . . a bomb exploded on the median of Palestine Street after the two Humvees had passed it, said Feras Ali, 42, a resident on the block. The explosion shattered the windows of nearby houses. The Humvees, which witnesses said did not appear to have been damaged, then turned in the wide road, which was slick from a driving rainstorm, they said. Soldiers opened fire on the family in the station wagon traveling behind them, said the witnesses, relatives of the victims, and Lieutenant Ali, the police officer. The station wagon crashed into a wall about 200 feet past where the bomb had exploded, and soldiers soon began pulling bodies out, the witnesses said."
Iron hammer strikes again. It can be concluded only that the secret Rules of Engagement permit this sort of murder.

M Shahid Alam, professor of economics at Northeastern University, analyzes: The semantics of Empire.

It would appear that the indictment of Saddam gathers power, conviction, irrefutability, by adding the possessive, proprietary, emphatic "own" to the people tortured, gassed or killed. What does the grammar of accusations say about the metrics of American values?

Tim Robbins fights back: Tim Robbins' 'Embedded' to Open in NYC.

The play portrays a U.S. attack on the fictional nation of Gomorrah. One of the play's chief characters is a Colonel Hardchannel who berates American journalists as maggots and tells them they must submit all reports to him. "If a Babylonian granary is bombed," he thunders, "it is to be called a poison factory."

Senator Kennedy has again denounced Bush and the Iraq war: Kennedy: Iraq war a product marketed by Bush to win elections (AP Story); America, Iraq, and Presidential Leadership (transcript of Kennedy's comments); or video of his speech.

Another deception! Condoleezza Rice compared the Iraqi resistance to the German underground after World War II. It appears that the existence of this underground is based on a fake Reuters dispatch, supposedly dated Aug. 12, 1945, that started appearing on the Internet in April, 204. I wonder where it came from? More deceptions to justify war actions.

Nine months? That would be April, four months before Rice made her speech. She never identified her source. Could she have used the bogus Reuters story from the Internet? I called the NSC, and was referred to speech-writer Michael Anton. I left messages asking for Rice's source on werewolves. That's not too tough a request for a public servant. I'm still waiting for an answer.

Kenneth Pollack, Iraq war supporter, now says he, and the Administration were wrong, even reckless: White House's 'rush to war was reckless': Kenneth Pollack, key supporter of regime change in Iraq, now says White House engaged in "creative omissions' about WMD. The above article is a report of an article by Pollack in the Atlantic: Spies, Lies, and Weapons: What Went Wrong . See also the interview with Pollack in the Atlantic Online: Weapons of Misperception: Kenneth M. Pollack, the author of "Spies, Lies, and Weapons: What Went Wrong," explains how the road to war with Iraq was paved with misleading and manipulated intelligence.

His [Pollack's] most scathing criticism falls on the Bush Administration and, particularly, its tendency to misstate the facts of the case when trying to persuade the country to go to war. In his eyes, the Administration consistently engaged in "creative omission," overstating the imminence of the Iraqi threat, even though it had evidence to the contrary.

Here is a A Debate On The War On Terror with Richard Perle v. Paul Krugman.

ABC News gets independent confirmation of Paul O'Neill's claims: Corroborating O’Neill’s Account: Official Confirms Claims That Saddam Was Bush’s Focus Before 9/11.

Bush authorizes torture, albeit, by other countries: Torture by proxy: How immigration threw a traveler to the wolves.

Our intelligence agencies have a name for this torture-by-proxy. They call it "extraordinary rendition." As one intelligence official explained: "We don't kick the s -- out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the s -- out of them." This secret program for torturing suspects has been authorized, if that is the right word for it, by a secret presidential finding. Where the president gets the authority to have anyone tortured has never been explained.
According to the Bush administration, we are at "war" with al Qaeda. If so, then delivering a suspect to torturers is a war crime and should be prosecuted as such. But first, we need to know who was responsible, and that will not be easy -- unless there is a firestorm of protest.
Isn't it time to condemn torture by proxy and demand prosecution of the persons responsible? Isn't it time to question how these watch lists are assembled and used, before more of us fall victim to secret detentions and brutal interrogations based on guilt by computerized associations?

For those who missed it, the Paul O'Neill interview with 60 minutes can be watched online here. Here is a more detailed account from Time, of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's view of decision-making in the Bush administration: Confessions of a White House Insider: A book about Treasury's Paul O'Neill paints a presidency where ideology and politics rule the day . However, the BBC has an interesting commentary reminding us of Mr. O'Neill's history: Paul O'Neill: Careless talk?.

As if recent revelations weren't enough, a report by the Army War College criticizes the Iraq war as "unnecessary" and diversion from the real "war on terrorism": War College Study Calls Iraq a 'Detour'. The actual report is available at: Bounding the Global War on Terrorism.

A year end summary by Naomi Klein: The Year of the Fake.

When Bush came to office, many believed his ignorance would be his downfall. Eventually Americans would realize that a President who referred to Africa as "a nation" was unfit to lead. Now we tell ourselves that if only Americans knew that they were being lied to, they would surely revolt. But with the greatest of respect for the liar books (Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Big Lies, The Lies of George W. Bush, The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq et al.), I'm no longer convinced that America can be set free by the truth alone.
In many cases, fake versions of events have prevailed even when the truth was readily available. The real Jessica Lynch--who told Diane Sawyer that "no one beat me, no one slapped me, no one, nothing"--has proven no match for her media-military created doppelgänger, shown being slapped around by her cruel captors in NBC's movie Saving Jessica Lynch.
Rather than being toppled for his adversarial relationship to both the most important truths and the most basic facts, Bush is actively remaking America in the image of his own ignorance and duplicity. Not only is it OK to be misinformed, but as the almanac warning shows, knowing stuff is fast becoming a crime.

While all of his (almost) daily columns are worth reading, today's dissection by Tom Engelhardt of the New York Times's and most of the US press's (lack of) coverage of administration lies and deceit is essential: My hometown paper.

While day after day the media dissects Howard Dean's last meal, news about the lies that lay at the heart of a war that continues to result in needless American deaths (not to speak of Iraqi ones) gets at best timid and haphazard coverage in our media; sometimes none at all.

I his 60 Minutes interview, former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said he saw no evidence of WMD: Ex US-Treasury chief: saw no evidence of Iraq WMDs.

Putting the lie to their own propaganda! An important reminder. Here is the video of Colin Powell and Condeleeza Rice in 2001 telling the world that Iraq did not possess and significant WMD capacity of pose a danger to the US or its neighbors. February 24th, 2001: Powell Admits Saddam, "has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction". Contrast that, as The New York Times did, with what Powell said at the United Nations in February 2002: "Iraqi officials deny accusations of ties with Al Qaeda. These denials are simply not credible."

Here is one of the Iraq war planning documents referred to in the article about former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill (see below): Foreign Suitors For Iraqi Oilfield Contracts. Also remember the CHENEY ENERGY TASK FORCE DOCUMENTS FEATURE MAP OF IRAQI OILFIELDS.

Interesting insights into the day-to-day operations of the neocons can be obtained from this piece by Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowsk (retired), who contrasts them with what she views as a true conervtative perspective: Open Door Policy: A strange thing happened on the way to the war. Also of interest is this article by Charles Goyette, a conservative talk show host who was suppressed by Clear Channel Communications for his antiwar views How to Lose Your Job in Talk Radio: Clear Channel gags an antiwar conservative.

The Smoking Gun! Former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has told 60 Minutes that planning for the Iraq invasion and occupation began right after the inauguration, not after 9/11: Saddam's Ouster Planned In 2001?.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," he tells Stahl. "For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do is a really huge leap...."
Suskind says O'Neill and other White House insiders he interviewed gave him documents that show that in the first three months of 2001, the administration was looking at military options for removing Saddam Hussein from power and planning for the aftermath of Saddam's downfall....
A Pentagon document, says Suskind, titled "Foreign Suitors For Iraqi Oilfield Contracts," outlines areas of oil exploration. "It talks about contractors around the world from...30, 40 countries and which ones have what intentions on oil in Iraq," Suskind says.
[raqi National Congress] Spokesman Entifadh Qanbar tells CBS News that the Bush administration opened official channels to the Iraqi opposition soon after coming to power, and discussed how to remove saddam....
O'Neill is quoted as saying he was surprised that no one in a National Security Council meeting questioned why Iraq should be invaded. "It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this,'" says O'Neill in the book....
O'Neill also is quoted saying in the book that President Bush was so disengaged in cabinet meetings that he "was like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people."

Ira Chernus dissects the radical dangers in Tom Friedman's liberal clash of civilizations ideas: Tom Friedman's Scary Plan for World War III.

Remember, he is a liberal. This is what we will get in the White House by using all our energy to oust George W. We will get a simplistic world divided into good guys-us and all those who support us (the "forces of moderation")-and bad guys who are not willing to play by our rules.

Connecting the war and economy. And not through oil: How the war machine is driving the US economy: Military Keynsianism might get Bush re-elected, but it is starting to worry economists .

Fresh horrors are due soon. Anyone who thinks these weapons will only be used against "terrorists" is crazy: Pulling Punches: Big plans for futuristic, nonlethal weapons are afoot, but their use would raise troubling questions.

A powerful microwave weapon that painfully heats up human skin but doesn't kill is ready for deployment to protect soldiers and installations against intruders and mobs. Lasers and other intense light weapons that temporarily blind are being developed to subdue suspects. New incapacitating chemical weapons that could put the occupants of an entire apartment building to sleep are being created in laboratories....
The danger ahead is that Rumsfeld and company will approve the deployment of controversial capabilities in secret, ignoring the dangerous implications of opening a Pandora's box to achieve what could be marginal military advantage.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has issued a new detailed report on the intelligence that was used to justify the war and argues the US should abandon the doctrine of preemptive war: WMD IN IRAQ: Evidence and Implications -- Summary of New Carnegie Report. The actual report is available here (pdf). Here is a Commentary by Jim Lobe.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern discusses the dangers of the present, with and administration Intoxicated With Power and the press in their pocket.

The Washington Post has a detailed article showing that Iraq had no serious WMD program and no hope of one in the foreseeable feature. Now they tell us: Iraq's arsenal of ambitions: '91 war crippled Baghdad's ability to build nonconventional weapons.

In public statements and unauthorized interviews, investigators said they have discovered no work on former germ-warfare agents such as anthrax bacteria, and no work on a new designer pathogen—combining pox virus and snake venom—that led U.S. scientists on a highly classified hunt for several months. The investigators assess that Iraq did not, as charged in London and Washington, resume production of its most lethal nerve agent, VX, or learn to make it last longer in storage. And they have found the former nuclear weapons program, described as a 'grave and gathering danger' by President Bush and a 'mortal threat' by Vice President Cheney, in much the same shattered state left by U.N. inspectors in the 1990s.

John le Carré writes a novel about the dangers he sees from the US: The novelist who came in from the Cold War.

His latest book, Absolute Friends, combines le Carré's fascination with the Cold War and his current bête noire: a burning conviction that the war against terror unleashed by the United States is a threat to world peace as great as the evil it's supposed to be fighting.
His views on the Iraq war are peppered throughout the novel, which was completed in June of 2003. "The war on Iraq was illegitimate . . . It was a criminal and moral conspiracy. No provocation, no link with al-Qaeda, no weapons of Armageddon. Tales of complicity and Osama were self-serving bullshit. It was an old colonial war dressed up as a crusade for Western life and liberty, and it was launched by a clique of war-hungry Judeo-Christian geopolitical fantasists who hijacked the media and exploited America's post-9/11 psychopathy."

The government explicitly claims that they can torture or murder detainees with the courts having absolutely no right to intervene: Interrogation, Torture, the Constitution, and the Courts.

Bush refuses to aid investigation of leak of CIA agent by White House officials: No Word From Bush On Forms in Leak Probe .

The MoveOn.org Voter Fund has sponsored a competition to create anti-Bush ads. From over 1,500 entries, members have rated them, resulting in 15 finalists, which can be viewed at Bush in 30 Seconds. They exhibit considerable creativity. Several will be chosen to be shown in tv ads. My favorites in a tight competition: "IMAGINE", "IN MY COUNTRY", "HOOD ROBBIN'", & "LEAVE NO BILLIONAIRE BEHIND". And while your at it, be sure to check out Billionaires for Bush.

Saul Landau gets to the essence of current US policy: Bully goes to war – blames God.

Now the born-again bully occupies the White House. He picks on weak targets, taunts them – “bring ‘em on – gets others to fight for him and then serves turkey to his proxy warriors on Thanksgiving. But worse than his addiction for playing dress up for photo ops, he has made bullying into official U.S. policy. As president, you have the forum to conjure up threats, report them as certainties and then order the armed forces to fight them.

This piece by Nat Parry carefully dissects the ridiculous claims that the US is "promoting democracy" in Iraq. While it contains little new information, it puts what we know together in a nice way that makes it useful to give to people: Bush & Democracy Hypocrisy.

Robert Parry argues that US policy in Iraq is being influenced, less by Vietnam, a conflict in which few of our leaders served, but by the experience these policy-makers had suppressing popular revolts in Latin America, using corrupt governments and brutal repression, combined with careful management of information: Iraq: Quicksand & Blood.

The key counterinsurgency lesson from Central America was that the U.S. government can defeat guerrilla movements if it is willing to back a local power structure, no matter how repulsive, and if Washington is ready to tolerate gross human rights abuses.

Willie Nelson has evidently written a new antiwar song, "Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth", only the second protest song of his career: New Willie Nelson song condemns Iraq war.

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