Key Documents

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.

January, 2005


The Occupation

Occupation Resistance Analysis

Democracy Now! Iraqi in Baghdad: "The Election Was Shoved Down Our Throats".

Dahr Jamail: Voting in Baghdad was linked with receipt of food rations, several voters said after the Sunday poll.

Concentration camp not legal: Judge slams U.S. for holding Guantanamo detainees without legal rights.

Robert Fisk: Sunnis Absent from Iraqi Polling Stations

Juan Cole sums up: Sistani, the UIA and the Elections. In particular, he amasses ehe available evidence that Sunni turnout was extremely low, belying the triumphalist tone of the US media.

Democracy in Iraq: Democracy in Iraq.

The effect should be clear: all legislation, including the constitution of the Iraqi state itself will be those acceptable to the occupying power.

Turnout estimates revised down to about 60% of registered voters: Iraq's First Free Election Since 1953 Draws 8 Million. And these estimates are only rough guesses: Confusion surrounds Iraq poll turnout.

Patient Shias file in to end centuries of exclusion: Waiting game pays for Sistani at ballot box.

This time it is the Sunnis who have rebelled and it is their turn to be marginalised, much to the unease of Sunni-led governments in other Arab countries. "Sistani has played it brilliantly," said one western diplomat. "By reining in his radicals and going for elections, power is falling into the Shia lap."

In Najaf: Shiite city finds its voice after years of repression.

For the crucial question, Sunni turnout, the answer is unclear: Bombs keep Sunnis away. But Patrick Cockburn: Voters clap and cheer as Sunni turnout is higher than expected. Further: Mixed message as Sunnis go to polls. See also: Election Update.

Dahr Jamail: Hollow Election Held on Bloody Day.

As the horse trading starts: Kurds seek presidency in power deal.

Not everyone allowed to vote: Assyrian Christians say Kurds wouldn't let them vote.

Knight Ridder: Vignettes from Iraq.

A billion here, a billion there: Audit: U.S. occupation authority in Iraq unable to account for nearly $9 billion.

Reports of 72% turnout. However, this is of "registered Iraqis". Presumably, those mot intending to vote were not registered. No actual numbers released so far: Official Voting Period for Iraq's Polls Ends.

What did they actually do in the privacy of the polling booth? The women’s vote: critical but unknown.

For some, voting is transcendent: Iraqis Vote in Election, 31 Die in Attacks.

Turnout was brisk in Shiite Muslim and mixed Shiite-Sunni neighborhoods. Even in the small town of Askan in the so-called "triangle of death" south of Baghdad, 20 people waited in line at each of several polling centers. More walked toward the polls.
Rumors of impending violence were rife. When an unexplained boom sounded near one Baghdad voting station, some women put their hands to their mouths and whispered prayers. Others continued walking calmly to the voting stations. Several shouted in unison: "We have no fear."
"Am I scared? Of course I'm not scared. This is my country," said 50-year-old Fathiya Mohammed, wearing a head-to-toe abaya.
At one polling place in Baghdad, soldiers and voters joined hands in a dance, and in Baqouba, voters jumped and clapped to celebrate the historic day. At another, an Iraqi policeman in a black ski mask tucked his assault rifle under one arm and took the hand of an elderly blind woman, guiding her to the polls.

Those claiming the US would withdraw after the elections apparently never talked to Bush: Bush: U.S. Must Stay in Iraq After Election.

Claims a Sunni insurgent front proposed a ceasefire to the US but were turned down: Americans Refuse Proposed Cease-Fire in Iraq.

In statements from the leadership, the proposal for a cease-fire was drawn up at a meeting of representatives of the ten armed member groups at the end of December last year. The proposal requests things such as:
  • 1. American armed forces will completely withdraw from Iraq within three years
  • 2. American armed forces will withdraw from urban areas within six months, and the upcoming elections will also be postponed for that six months
  • 3. Release of political prisoners
  • 4. Change the format of the election from the current proportional representation to a form of individual election districts where the units are states

As the day dawns: The Vote, and Democracy Itself, Leave Anxious Iraqis Divided.

US pressure to abolish Arab free press may succeed: Under Pressure, Qatar May Sell Jazeera Station.

ome administration officials acknowledged that the well-publicized American pressure on the station - highlighted when Qatar was not invited to a summit meeting on the future of democracy in the Middle East last summer in Georgia - has drawn charges of hypocrisy, especially in light of President Bush's repeated calls for greater freedoms and democracy in the region. "It's completely two-faced for the United States to try to muzzle the one network with the most credibility in the Middle East, even if it does sometimes say things that are wrong," said an Arab diplomat. "The administration should be working with Al Jazeera and putting people on the air...."
Among the broadcasts criticized by the United States were repeated showings of taped messages by Osama bin Laden, and, more specifically, the reporting early last year, before Al Jazeera was kicked out of Iraq, of the journalist Ahmed Mansour, that emphasized civilian casualties during an assault on Falluja.[In other words, how dare they report the truth.] The network also reports passionately about the Palestinian conflict....
Part of the problem, that official said, is that much of what Al Jazeera does to inflame emotions over Iraq is standard fare on cable television, like endless repetition of scenes of civilian deaths. There have been occasions when Pentagon criticism focused on images that were also running on CNN and other stations at the same time, he said....
An American official noted that Al Jazeera had not only alienated the United States but had also angered officials in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and many other countries by focusing on internal problems in those nations. "They must be doing something right," he said.

Peter Beaumont reports that the elections presage the birth of a true politics, among many Shia, in which citizens vibrantly debate public issues: A painful birth in Basra.

Across Iraq hospitals have been a prime target for mainly religious political groupings which have sought to associate themselves with the most visible areas of social provision. Nasser knows other hospital administrators in his province who have been shot for challenging the squabbling political groups operating on their wards....
'If I speak,' he tells me, 'I speak without fear. Privately it is the view of most people here in Basra that they want to vote for the secular candidates, but many are afraid to say it. They want to vote for the most competent person. Not,' Nasser adds significantly, 'someone who belongs to another country. Not someone who does not belong to Iraq....'
As election day dawned in the Shia-dominated south and centre, deep divisions have appeared to confound long-held notions of the homogeneity of Iraq's Shia majority, who many had believed would vote en masse for the religious parties on the electoral list pulled together under the tutelage of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Instead, what has emerged is enthusiasm for secular politics in all areas of Shia society which - if polling and anecdotal evidence is correct - suggest not only an increasingly vibrant political discourse but also that the power of the Shia religious parties has been over-estimated...
Sciri's headquarters have been targeted by bomb and drive-by shooting attacks in the run-up to the elections, but what is evident from all these accounts is that, for Iraqis, a genuine political conversation is emerging after decades of suppression. The question remains whether a new politics can be born that will genuinely transform Iraq's landscape.

Sadr opts out, mostly: Shiite Faction Ready to Shun Sunday's Election in Iraq.

In some ways, the apathy of followers of Mr. Sadr is more worrisome to Iraqi leaders and American officials. Buoyed by the military defeat of his Mahdi Army over the summer, both were confident that he would move toward the political center. In sermons in mosques across Iraq, he has continuously mocked those expectations.

The unpalatable truth spoken: Australia's Defence Minister Hill urges Iraq talks: Hill urges Iraq talks.

Coaltition forces in Iraq would have to negotiate with rebels to end the violence,[Australian] Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill said yesterday....
"I certainly don't think the insurgency is going to be resolved through military means alone. There has got to be a political accommodation for some of the Sunni who feel threatened by the process of democracy."

Tom Engelhardt and Dilip Hiro on Iraq's Electoral Cul-de-sac: Cul-de-sacs All Around: Assessing the Iraqi Election.

It's a no-brainer, of course, that various of the insurgent factions in Iraq want to disrupt the elections; but to focus on the election itself, as on the sovereignty moment before it, is to miss the larger strategic goal that the rebels generally seem to be pursuing, and will surely continue pursuing no less intensely on Jan. 31 or Feb. 28 or March 31 (as we head for the next "until" event, perhaps the writing of the new Iraqi constitution). In the fashion of guerrilla wars, after all, the insurgents are primarily trying to isolate the American occupiers of the country. They are doing so quite literally by cutting roads and supply lines and ambushing supply convoys. (Remember that the full might of the U.S. military has yet to secure even the crucial stretch of road that runs from Baghdad International Airport to the Green Zone in the heart of the capital.) They are also, however, attempting to cut as many ties as possible, as violently as they can, between the Americans and any Iraqis willing (as policemen, contractors, judges, politicians, translators, cleaning ladies on American bases, or National Guardsmen) to cooperate with, or in any way support, or simply earn a few dollars from the country's invaders in a land with a jobless rate above 50%. This is a truly brutal campaign – assassinations, beheadings, kidnappings, murders of every sort, car bombings, and mortarings – and, elections or no, it's on the rise....

The capture of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni and leader of the Sunni-dominated Baath Party, finally ended the 365-year-old Sunni hegemony. History shows, however, that no class, sectarian, or ethnic group gives up power without a fight; and having lost power, the former ruling group invariably tries to regain it by hook or crook. In that context, the behavior of the Sunni minority in Iraq should have been predicted.

The view from Jerusalem: US mulls exit strategy from Iraq.

Halliburton the big winner from Iraq invasion.

Halliburton has rocketed to becoming the sixth largest defense contractor in 2004. The company, formerly headed by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, was not even in the top 100 contractors prior to the invasion of Iraq....
Last year it more than doubled its defense contracts from $3.9 billion to $8 billion. In the last quarter alone revenue topped $3 billion, or $1 billion a month, considerably more than the company amassed in the five years prior to the Iraq war.

Robert Fisk: This election will change the world. But not in the way the Americans imagined.

Tomorrow's election may be bloody. It may well produce a parliament so top-heavy with Shia candidates that the Americans will be tempted to "top up" the Sunni assembly members by choosing some of their own, who will inevitably be accused of collaboration. But it will establish Shia power in Iraq - and in the wider Arab world - for the first time since the great split between Sunnis and Shias that followed the death of the Prophet Muhammad.

The realist? Iraqi president says most won't vote.

Should one laugh or cry? In Armored Vehicles, U.S. Troops Tell Iraqis to Vote.

A rumbling column of U.S. Bradley fighting vehicles grinds to a stop in a rebellious Iraqi neighborhood of scarred houses and mud streets. Heavily-armed troops jump out and begin searching homes as loudspeakers blast in Arabic: "On Sunday you should go out to vote. Vote to give freedom to Iraq. [I didn't know US withdrawal was on the ballot.] Vote to save Iraq." A soldier hands out fliers to a group of untidy children.

Homeland Security nominee advised on appropriate torture techniques, e.g., "waterboarding" was fine: Security Nominee Gave Advice to the C.I.A. on Torture Laws.

One technique that C.I.A. officers could use under certain circumstances without fear of prosecution was strapping a subject down and making him experience a feeling of drowning.

New Zogby poll shows Sunni overwhelmingly reject the elections, while Shia and, to a lesser extent, Kurds, support them. But both Sunni and Shia support overwhelmingly support a rapid American withdrawal: Survey Finds Deep Divisions in Iraq.

The survey... found three-quarters (76%) of Sunni Arabs say they definitely will not vote in the January 30 elections, while just 9% say they are likely to vote. A majority of Shiites (80%) say they are likely to vote or definitely will vote, as are a smaller majority of Kurds (57%)....
Majorities of both Sunni Arabs (82%) and Shiites (69%) also favor U.S. forces withdrawing either immediately or after an elected government is in place.
The poll also found that of Iraq’s ethnic and religious groups, only the Kurds believe the U.S. will “help” Iraq over the next five years, while half (49%) of Shiites and a majority (64%) of Sunni Arabs believe the U.S. will “hurt” Iraq....>
“The closest thing to this in America isn’t red and blue states. It’s probably the election of 1860....”
The poll also finds that, while a majority of Shiites (84%) and Kurds (64%) wish to hold the elections Sunday as planned, Sunni Arabs overwhelmingly favor delaying the vote (62%)....
“What’s truly alarming isn’t the number of Sunni Arabs who want to delay Sunday’s vote,” Zogby said. “What’s alarming is that more than half—53% in this survey—believe that ongoing attacks in Iraq are a legitimate form of resistance. With this group already boycotting the election, this makes for a very violent combination.”

The elections almost here: Iraq holds its breath.

After the elections card is dealt, what next? US debate focuses on plan B - to stay on or to go?

"How many fighter jets does the new Iraqi army have? None. How many tanks? None. What do you call a country with no jets and no fighter planes? It's called a protectorate. They're so far away from giving Iraq a normal military you don't even have industry seminars salivating over the prospect of selling them stuff...."
"Thirty-seven hundred people is not an embassy - it's a proto-government."

Rory McCarthy's Baghdad diary of the last few months leading up to the elections The view from the Red Zone.

In private, though, the Americans accept security is flimsy and have been warning journalists to dissuade their offices in Washington and London from sending out too many reporters to cover the January 30 election because it is so dangerous - 49 journalists died last year while covering Iraq. The big American networks are sending in their stars, people like Peter Jennings and Geraldo Rivera, but they are going to be staying firmly inside the Green Zone, unable to present more than an official view of the election happening in the real Iraq beyond the concrete barriers. In Paris, President Chirac told French journalists to keep away from Iraq. "If there were fewer journalists, there would be fewer risks," he said. "It is not reasonable."

Follow the money: Iranian and Saudi cash weighs against local parties.

In recent days, voters in Baghdad have been bombarded with advertising from the wealthiest parties, including the interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's coalition and the Shia United Iraqi Alliance. Mr Allawi has been advertising on the al-Aribya network, based in Dubai and owned by interests in Saudi Arabia, where the Prime Minister lived in exile. He is understood to have received large donations from exiles living in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. The United Iraqi Alliance has been running non-stop ads on the al-Furat television network, which it owns. Meanwhile, struggling groups such as the National Democratic Party, which has survived for the past six decades, have refused to take donations from non-members.

Dahr Jamail: High Anxiety. He reports that, in Baghad: the streets are empty.

Must Read! According to the absurdly low official figures, 60% of the Iraqi civilians killed and 67% of those wounded in the last six months of 2004 in conflict-related incidents were killed by "Coalition" troops, NOT insurgents: BBC obtains Iraq casualty figures. Of coyurse, most insurgent-caused casualties are undoubtedly counted, whereas we have good reason to believe that large numbers of coalition-caused casualties are not reported. Thus, the true percent caused by the occupation forces is undoubtedly MUCH higher than 60%.

The figures reveal that 3,274 Iraqi civilians were killed and 12,657 wounded in conflict-related violence during the period. Of those deaths, 60% - 2,041 civilians - were killed by the coalition and Iraqi security forces. A further 8,542 were wounded by them.

How could you do this to us? Iraq "gives democracy a bad name".

"The influence of the elections for us as democrats is disastrous," Syrian human rights activist Haytham Manna told Reuters from Paris. "When you marginalise wide sections of society from the political process ... this is not democracy. With this example, all the Arab extremists will say to us: 'You democrats, go to hell, because you haven't been able to solve our problems with your democracy and elections'," said Manna, who left Syria in 1978 as a political exile....
"If the U.S. really sees the Iraqi elections as a step to usher in democracy, Arabs don't need it because it would be a leap into more bloodshed and chaos," said Mokhtar Trifi, head of Tunisia's only independent human rights group....
"The elections depict democracy as if it is connected to the idea of submission to the American occupier," said Abdel Halim Qandil, who is campaigning against an extension of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's 23-year-old rule. "The idea of democracy will lose its reputation in the Arab world entirely," Qandil said, comparing the Iraqi election with 20th-century polls held in Egypt under British occupation. "Democratic charades of this type were going on then," he said....
Manaa, spokesman for the Arab Commission for Human Rights, said cases of torture in Arab jails had increased since the Abu Ghraib scandal. U.S. soldiers involved have faced court martial. "Arab governments say: 'This is the reform carried out by the one who calls on us to reform,'" Manaa said.

Hunting for "success": U.S. seeking any sign of success in Iraq poll.

"The fact that they're voting in itself is successful," Bush told reporters on Wednesday, the same day the military said 31 U.S. troops had been killed in a helicopter crash in the deadliest single incident since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The US military has a long history of abusing its own soldiers when imprisoned, says Robert Schweizer, who was in the brig during Vietnam. It's not surprising, therefore, that they'd abuse Iraqis: 'If I run will you shoot?' he asked. He ran. The guard shot him dead.

Confirmation of the depths of depravity going on at Guantanamo Concentration Camp under Torture General Miller: Ex-officer describes lewd tactics at Guantanamo.

Female interrogators tried to break Muslim detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with sexual touching, by wearing a miniskirt and thong underwear, rubbing a prisoner's back with her breasts and in one case, smearing a Saudi man's face with fake menstrual blood, according to an insider's written account....
Beginning in April, 2003, "there hung a short skirt and thong underwear on the hook on the back of the door" of one interrogation team's office, the draft says. "Later, I learned that this outfit was used for interrogations by one of the female civilian contractors . . . on a team which conducted interrogations in the middle of the night on Saudi men who were refusing to talk...."
The interrogator left the room to ask a Muslim linguist how she could break the prisoner's reliance on God. The linguist told her to tell the detainee that she was menstruating, touch him, then make sure to turn off the water in his cell so he couldn't wash. The interrogator used ink from a red pen to fool the detainee, Sgt. Saar says. "He began to cry like a baby,"
[The official response:] "U.S. forces treat all detainees and conduct all interrogations, wherever they may occur, humanely and consistent with U.S. legal obligations, and in particular with legal obligations prohibiting torture."

Elections are nice, but: Iraqis' big issue: US exit plan: US troops are vital to security for Sunday's vote, but pressure is growing for them to leave.

What kind of elections can these be? In Violence-Prone Mosul, Voters Will Need a Shield of Snipers.

Now electors can find out who the candidates are? Iraqi Election Candidates Finally Revealed: Newspapers Publish Names Of 7,000 Running In Sunday's Election.

[Presumably, as a practical joke, or a photo op:] In the former rebel stronghold of Fallujah, where opposition to the balloting is strong, U.S. Marines drove through the city, urging people through loudspeakers to turn out to vote on Sunday.

Dahr Jamail: 'Fallujah Is Fine, Now Go Back to Sleep'. And: The Dollar Campaigns for Allawi.

[Fallujah Is Fine:] A contact of mine just returned from spending a week in Fallujah. We shared some of the food brought from my friend in Baquba. "I'd been in Fallujah for a week and all I'd seen was tough military tactics," he tells me. "They are arresting people and putting them in these trucks, blindfolded and tied up. Everywhere I looked all I saw was utter devastation."
[The Dollar:] Wa'il Issam, an unemployed translator, has his views about this kind of campaign. "Allawi is bribing people and using money to buy votes and support from journalists, retired people and teachers," he said. "And I promise you that Allawi is fixing it so 70 percent of the Shias will vote for him, even though it will be a faked election." Wa'il Issam spoke of other 'provisions' that will help Allawi. "Now it is possible for one family member to cast votes for all of the people in his house," he said. "How do you think a man who has worked for six secret service organizations from different countries could lose this election?"

There's always Kirkuk: Cracks Surfacing Fast in Iraq's North.

Tensions in the northern Iraqi city Kirkuk have reached breaking point after Arab parties announced they will boycott the election Jan. 30. The boycott is potentially explosive. The Arab population of Kirkuk was settled there largely as a move by the Saddam regime to dilute the Kurdish strength in this oil-rich region. Kirkuk now has a substantial population of Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmens.

On eve of elections, a report that Shia leaders are planning to be accommodating toward the Sunni: Hopeful signs as Iraqi election nears.

Jonathan Steele: Iraqi democrats can't win in this desperate election: Shias want to vote, but don't want to legitimise occupation.

Iraqis explain why some will vote, while others will not: 'It is our country, our voice, and our duty to vote'.

A supposed exit strategy, years from now: Hoon and Rumsfeld agree Iraq exit strategy.

The Chronicle of Higher Education analyzes why the US media almost totally ignores the possibility that the US has killed 100,000 Iraqis during the occupation, as estimated by a November, 2004, paper in the British medical journal Lancet: Researchers Who Rushed Into Print a Study of Iraqi Civilian Deaths Now Wonder Why It Was Ignored.

No shame! Prostitute used in Habib torture: lawyer.

Mamdouh Habib was the victim of atrocities fit for a concentration camp, including being tied to the ground while a prostitute menstruated on him, his lawyer said yesterday. Interrogators at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay had also told the Sydney man they had killed his family and superimposed animal heads on photos of his wife and children, Steven Hopper said....
"The Americans in their wisdom have taken the heads off the pictures, enlarged them and superimposed them with the heads of animals and then strung them up all over the walls of the interrogation room," he said. "As they sat there talking to Mamdouh asking him about his terrorist activities, they held up a picture of Maha and said, 'It's a shame we had to kill your family, it's a shame you will never see these people again'."

A soldier's idea of a good time: UK soldier boasts of abusing Iraqis. And: British Soldier Tells of Forced Sex Simulations.

[UK soldier boast:] A British soldier boasted of giving Iraqi civilians electric shocks, forcing them to simulate sex and said he had achieved his aim of "breaking someone's arm", a court martial in Germany heard on Thursday.

Gee, in Basra, politics sounds like the U.S. kind: Another Iraq battle line: Secularism vs. Islam.

In the 22 months since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the exiled Shiite movements that opposed Saddam Hussein's regime have moved home to this southern Iraqi metropolis and into positions of power in the local administration. There they have used their authority to transform what was a freewheeling port city with a reputation for decadence into a sober shadow of its former self....
But Khafaji, the retired executive, is confident his city will soon return to its old ways. "After the elections, when a new government comes, they will open the clubs and the bars again, and I will drink pink gin," he said. "Because after the years of Saddam Hussein, I am sure Iraqis won't allow anyone to take our personal freedom away again."

In Iraqi Slum, Survival Comes Before Democracy.

"I will not vote in these elections. Why should I? No-one did anything for us," said computer engineer Ali Jasem. "The streets are horrible. There is no electricity, no water... No human can live in our conditions and yet they expect us to vote. How could you think of voting in these conditions?"

Patrick Cockburn: Ayatollah Sistani may call the tune, but the US will still have the power.

Iraq Voter Turnout Likely to Become Issue.

Fear grips Baghdad:

Local newspapers announced Internet-only editions because printing-press employees won't leave their homes starting Friday. Shops sold out of large burlap bags of rice, potatoes, lentils and other Iraqi staples. Men lugged home huge canisters of fuel and kerosene. Women stripped duct tape over their windows to prevent the glass from shattering in explosions.

Must Read! Carl Conetta of the Project on Defense Alternatives has produced what is simply the most detailed, brilliant, analysis of what is wrong with the Iraqi elections: The Iraqi election "bait and switch": faulty poll will not bring peace or US withdrawa [html] or: [pdf version].

And Jo Wilding has produced an excellent: A Brief Guide to the Iraqi Elections.

Elections? Days to Go, Iraqis Ask: What Election? Meanwhile: Some Troops Hope Iraq Poll Is Ticket Home, Others Skeptical.

[Days to Go:] Election officials say the location of polling stations will be revealed on Saturday, the day before the election, when posters will go up to tell residents where to vote.... "We live in the dark in Samarra. No security, no electricity. How are we going to vote? We don't even know where to go," said Habib Abdul Satar, 36, smoking an apple-scented water pipe in the gloom of his living room as U.S. soldiers searched his house.

The "secret ballot" starts: Ballot boxes dispatched in Iraq.

US soldiers celebrate butchery: Anger over Iraqi war dead on Internet.

he site, which has been operating for more than a year, describes itself as "an online archive of soldiers' photos". Dozens of pictures of decapitated and limbless bodies are featured on the site with tasteless captions, purportedly sent in by soldiers. Captions include "plastic surgery needed", "road kill" and "I said dead"....
"It is no less cruel and sickening than web postings by terrorist groups of decapitated bodies of kidnapped victims."

The cost of killing. Soldier returns from Iraq with posttraumatic stress disorder: GI pleads guilty to AWOL, drug charges: The soldier served in Iraq and says he couldn't get grisly battlefield images out of his head.

More dangers: Iraq: Remanufactured aluminium pans pose health risk.

"The results showed that there was a high level of aluminium [that could be released into food] in these samples of remanufactured food pans. [The levels found] are very dangerous to human life as they have a poisonous effect on the neurological system and can be a cause of Alzheimer's disease, memory loss and sometimes renal failure...."
[T]he supervision of local industries was done by the special institute for engineering and industry, under former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. After the war, this institute was dissolved and many industries are no longer being monitored for quality.

Iraq’s electoral politics of electricity.

Production constantly falls, but: Iraq to spend $3B to rebuild oil sector: Foreign companies likely to play a key role, even if security fails to improve, oil officials say.

The Spoils! US wheat industry sells order to Iraq.

The US wheat industry is crowing over finally clinching the sale of grain to Iraq.

Hint? Or propaganda? Blair hints hand-over of Iraq near . His "hints" sound like a recipe for permanent occupation.

Must Read! What Kind of Freedom? An Interview with Christian Parenti.

As Akeel, a resident of Baghdad and Parenti's 26-year-old translator, remarked when asked of life in the newly freed Iraq: "Ah, the freedom. Look, we have the gas-line freedom, the looting freedom, the killing freedom, the rape freedom, the hash-smoking freedom. I don't know what to do with all this freedom...."
I think we forget about the other major war going on in Iraq, which is essentially an apolitical Hobbesian war of all against all. Total criminality and a massive crime wave: people constantly being carjacked, people constantly raiding each other’s houses, and countless scores being settled through murder. It is like an extreme version of the Wild West. There is a lot of drug use and prostitution. Drugs, especially Valium and other sedatives, are readily available throughout the urban centers. Prostitution is rampant because women are hungry, women are widowed, and there is a type of lawlessness that encourages it. Most of the prostitution caters to Iraqi men, but it also involves many U.S. soldiers....
Abu Ghraib and operations there represent just total chaos. The prison is full of people on a giant backlog who have absolutely no intelligence value whatsoever to the U.S. In the outdoor tent-prison, guards do stuff like throw rocks at them and put sand in their food to harass them, but by and large they just ignore them and prisoners try to survive the freezing cold and the heat. After roughly two months, finally someone would come along and put them in a truck and dump them somewhere. ...
I went to Chicago to interview an interrogator who works with the 10th Mountain, which is stationed at Camp Victory surrounding the Baghdad Airport. The interrogators routinely grill people who are completely innocent of anything and snatched at random and brought to Abu Ghraib.... [H]e did describe an intelligence system that was in complete chaos -- where all intelligence has equal value and people are indiscriminately imprisoned. He also discussed an operation called “Clean Sweep” in advance of the January 30th election, which basically rounds up every male in the area between 18-40.
This is just pathetic and ridiculous.... You grab a bunch of civilians and then throw them into prison camps where there are actually people active in the resistance. You basically allow people who are pissed off to associate with those active in the war and the prison becomes this massive recruiting center....
They're failing us, the citizenry, but [they're] doing a damn fine job of keeping people in a position where they are willing to spend $5 billion a month on this war and tolerate thousands of casualties.... But how many people have actually been injured in this war? We know that over 10,000 people have been seriously injured, but how many amputees have there been from this war? That should be a standard number from this war.

Liar confirmed: Senate Confirms Rice As Secretary of State. And: Senate Democrats said that Condoleezza Rice lied about the Iraq war. Only 13 voted against this serial liar. Soon it'll be the Torture General's turn. See also the speech by Senator Robert C. Byrd: "Standing for the Founding Principles of the Republic". Byrd denounces the entire preemptive war doctrine.

Bush tells Iraqis to vote, but tells the rest of us not to expect much: Bush Urges Iraqis to Vote, Lowers Expectations.

"Free" Iraq adobts techniques typical of Saddam Iraq, and of the US occupation: Iraqi torture of prisoners seen as open secret.

Due to peace, Kurds may exert influence beyond their numbers: King-maker Kurds to decide. The Turkmen are nervous and responding: Iraq's Turkmen chase every vote in bid for tighter grip on oil regions.

Torture just fine, says Gonzales, just so long as you don't use the "T" word. Some things are forbidden but we won't tell you what they are. In fact, anyone who tries to find out is aiding the terrorists: Torture treaty doesn't bar `cruel, inhuman' tactics, Gonzales says. When the Senate votes for this monster, there is no way they can say "we didn't know".

[H]e said the Convention Against Torture treaty, as ratified by the Senate, doesn't prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading" tactics on non-U.S. citizens who are captured abroad, in Iraq or elsewhere. Gonzales, White House counsel and a close Bush adviser, described recent reports of prisoner abuse as "shocking and deeply troubling." But he refused to answer questions from senators about whether interrogation tactics witnessed by FBI agents were unlawful. He warned that any public discussion about interrogation tactics would help al-Qaida terrorists by giving them "a road map" of what to expect when captured.

Meanwhile, Abu Ghraib institutes new bureaucratic industrialized interrogation: Abu Ghraib interrogations a key element in fight against insurgency.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: 'The US is behaving as if every Sunni is a terrorist'.

It looks like the puppets were only blowing hot air. The puppeteer pulled some strings and corrected the problem: Top Iraqi Candidates Won't Press for Withdrawal of U.S. Troops.

A tiny minority think lying's bad: Democrats excoriate Rice for 'lying' about Iraq.

Bizarre: Still in the dark over where to vote - or for whom: With four days to go, the security crisis imposes an unusually secret ballot

In an unusually secret ballot, Iraqis are going to the polls unaware of the identities of many of the people they will be voting for. Although there are more than 7,700 candidates standing for seats in the new national assembly, hardly any of their names have been made public because of the security crisis that has enveloped the new Iraq.

British brutality ordered: Soldiers had order to 'thrash', trial told.

ABC News finds optimism remains: ABC News Assesses Where Things Stand in Iraq on Election's Eve. [Keep in mind that this is not necessarily a representative survey. Nonetheless, it constitutes a contrast with much reporting.]

The shining success involves the availability of goods -- huge majorities in all three regions report improvement in this area. Another across-the-board winner is education -- both in terms of the quality of teaching, and new work done to rebuild schools. We found several examples of a basic, commonsense rule: Show people some tangible progress (a rebuilt bridge, a new sewage system), and they will tell you life is getting better.
Perhaps the most remarkable finding is a positive one: Iraqis are hopeful and optimistic despite the profound difficulties they face in their daily lives. The surveys and the anecdotal interviews are filled with examples of people who told us, "We feel less safe," "We have less money," "We have less electricity," etc. -- and then closed by saying, "We believe our lives are getting better...."
Optimists and pessimists alike seem to hold out hope for the elections. Nationwide, more than three-quarters of our respondents said (a) they plan to vote and (b) they believe in democracy. Jan. 30 is seen as a watershed -- even by those who say they intend to boycott the vote. One is certainly left with the impression that people will be less likely to tolerate problems after the election.

Their bluff called, they reconsider: Sunni leaders plan to help in writing Iraqi constitution.

Centuries-old distrust of Persia behind regional bias: Fear of Shiite domination haunts Iraq’s neighbors. And: Jordanians have little faith in Iraq poll..

[Fear of Shiite:] But behind all the worries expressed by the Sunni Arab regimes in the Middle East over the vote one common fear is clear—the rising power of Iran.

Not all Sunnis are insurgents: A Sunni Runs for Office and Maybe His Life.

"It seems to me that the process of the elections is wrong here in Iraq," he continued. "It's broken right now. The people now are voting for their groups, not for individual people, and this is the mistake of the electoral process. The Shia in my neighborhood know me, they like me, but they will not vote for me because I'm not Shia. I know it's important to take part in the process because it's important to represent my people," he added. "We regard ourselves as a resistance, but a civil resistance."

Democracy, Iraqi style. Where the US tells you who should be PM. Sounds just like occupation: Creating democracy from chaos.

Michael Rubin, who just returned from a trip to Iraq and who worked for the Defense Department as an adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority, said the major Iraqi political players are already deep in negotiations over who will get which job after the elections. And, he said, U.S. officials are deeply involved in the discussions. The Americans have been promoting the finance minister of the current interim government, Adel Abdul-Mehdi, as an acceptable choice for prime minister, Rubin said.

Is the Sadr movement boycotting? Sadr group subtly rejecting election: Shiite cleric, followers eye role outside new political system. Or are they running? Where candidates hide, one Iraqi hits the stump.

Torture everywhere. Accountability, nowhere: A.C.L.U. Presents Accusations of Serious Abuse of Iraqi Civilians [NYT]. ACLU Press Release: Newly Released Investigative Files Provide Further Evidence Soldiers Not Held Accountable for Abuse. Read the actual torture documents: Government Documents on Torture.

More dough, more killing: Bush to Seek About $80 Bln for Military Operations.

Human Rights Watch reports that torture runs rampant in the New Iraqi: Iraq: Torture Continues at Hands of New Government [Press Release]. Full report: The New Iraq? Torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Iraqi custody.

Surprising range of opinions withing Iraq's Shiite majority. Religious alliance not a shoo-in in Basra: For Basra, practical needs are uppermost

Residents of this southern city of 1.8 million have learned over the past two years not to criticize the Shiite Islamic parties that have controlled its government - at least, not out loud. But many Basra residents say they plan to cast votes for secular political parties on Sunday, defying the omnipresent shadow of the religious figures who claim primacy here. And others who do support the religious parties say practical needs take precedence over doctrine.

The Spoils! Guarding foreigners in Iraq pays: Armor rakes in £53m from Iraq guard . These firms constitute vested interests hoping the fighting continues forever. Meanwhile: CACI Appoints Lieutenant General Joseph 'Keith' Kellogg, USA (Ret.) Executive Vice President of Research and Technology Systems.

Funny financial business. Another Iran-Contra affair in the works? Or is someone just stealing the loot before loosing power? Lebanon: Iraq Money Transfer Legal.

The National Guard's in trouble So are the Reserves: As war grinds on, US military may face shortage of deployable reserves.

How to lose a guerrilla war: In One Night, Iraqi Turns From Friend to Foe: Man Who Supported U.S. Occupation Calls Americans 'the Devil' After Alleged Raid on His House.

The soldiers went to search his bedroom. He heard laughing, and then they called for him, he said. Imaad went to his room and saw that the soldiers had found several magazines he kept hidden from his mother. They had pictures of girls in swimsuits and erotic poses. Imaad said the soldiers spread the magazines on his bed and put his Koran in the middle. "This is a good match," Imaad said one of the soldiers told him. "It was a nightmare," he said. "I will never forget those bad soldiers when they put the Koran among the magazines...."
"I used to have a good opinion of the Americans," Imaad said. "But they are the enemy. They are bad."

Even death-squad Ambassador Negroponte admits to trouble, but puts smiley face on the difficult situation: U.S. Envoy Acknowledges Iraq Election Woes.

Back to the future. An Allawi objective is to reinstate many Baathist personnel: Iraq's new military throwback to Saddam era.

Only 18% of Americans believe Bush has "a clear plan for dealing with the situation in Iraq". Yet 51% believe the US should stay "as long as it takes to make sure Iraq is a stable democracy": No Clear Plan On Iraq, Say Americans.

Japanese want out: 55% want SDF out of Iraq by March 15: poll.

Surreal Mosul: Mistrust and fear sweep outward signs of elections from the streets of Mosul.

Iraqi woman dental professor and candidate Salama Kha- faji wants the voice of Iraqi women to be heard: The Candidate.

But Khafaji is engaged in a larger struggle than simply campaigning for a parliamentary seat. She is trying to stake out a position as a homegrown Iraqi leader. The next major fault-line in Iraqi society will fall between two political forces: six parties, made up mostly of former exiles, and the indigenous leaders who never left Iraq....
Despite her popularity, Khafaji is facing an uphill battle as she tries to establish herself as an independent national leader. So far, the budding Iraqi political system has favored political parties rather than independents.

Without veil. Since the war, life has badly deteriorated for women in Iraq and girls are being forced to wear the veil again. Rory McCarthy meets those determined to fight back

"Veils are imposed on young girls," says Nadam Moaeed. "What do girls understand from this veil? It will have a bad psychological effect. She will become a negative presence in society...."
It was not always this way. In the 1950s, Iraq was the first Arab country to appoint a female government minister. Women worked freely in banks and government and administrative departments and were involved in a vibrant public debate.

Are occupation days numbered? Is this just electioneering? Will he be assassinated? Go home Yanks, says PM in waiting.

“No people in the world accepts occupation and nor do we accept the continuation of American troops in Iraq,” said Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

As if things weren't bad enough: Baghdad residents face water crisis.

Most of the Iraqi capital - particularly the western districts - has been without water for the past seven days. Added to a lack of electricity - the national grid is off more than it is on - a crumbling mobile phone network, endless lines to get fuel and a daily dose of bombs and mortars, it has made it next to impossible to even think about the coming election....
There has been no explanation for the crisis. In the absence of hard information, rumour and speculation often run riot in Iraq. Some Baghdad residents say the Iraqi government and US military have cut off the water on purpose to frustrate people and prompt them to vote in the 30 January election.

Riverbend gives a personal feel for the absence of water: Bleak Eid...

It's the third day of Eid. Eid is the Islamic holiday and usually it’s a time for families to get together, eat, drink and celebrate. Not this Eid. This Eid is unbearable. We managed a feeble gathering on the first day and no one was in a celebratory mood. There have been several explosions- some far and some near but even those aren't as worrisome as the tension that seems to be growing on a daily basis.
There hasn’t been a drop of water in the faucets for six days. six days. Even at the beginning of the occupation, when the water would disappear in the summer, there was always a trickle that would come from one of the pipes in the garden. Now, even that is gone.... Why is this happening? Is it because of the electricity? If it is, we should at least be getting water a couple of hours a day- like before. Is it some sort of collective punishment leading up to the elections? It’s unbelievable. At first, I thought it was just our area but I’ve been asking around and apparently, almost all of the areas (if not all) are suffering this drought.
I’m sure people outside of the country are shaking their heads at the words ‘collective punishment’. “No, Riverbend,” they are saying, “That’s impossible.” But anything is possible these days. People in many areas are being told that if they don’t vote- Sunnis and Shia alike- the food and supply rations we are supposed to get monthly will be cut off. We’ve been getting these rations since the beginning of the nineties and for many families, it’s their main source of sustenance. What sort of democracy is it when you FORCE people to go vote for someone or another they don’t want?...
It's amazing how as things get worse, you begin to require less and less. We have a saying for that in Iraq, "Ili yishoof il mawt, yirdha bil iskhooneh." Which means, "If you see death, you settle for a fever." We've given up on democracy, security and even electricity. Just bring back the water.

I wonder why: White House scraps 'Coalition of the Willing' list [scroll down].

Cannon fodder gets harder to find. One-time, tax-free "death gratuity" could rise to $100,000: Senators Seek Increase in Death Benefit For Soldiers.

As Election Nears, Iraqis Remain Sharply Divided on Its Value.

Rumors persist. Will Bush act rationally? US and UK look for early way out of Iraq .

Over before it started: Scope of Iraq reconstruction scaling down, official says.

Allawi's electoral chances hurt by chaos in Iraq: Cynicism hits the thirst for Iraq’s elections.

Others are simply weary of one crisis after another, and reluctant to think that the elections can change anything. “When I go to vote, my clothes will be filthy, my body will stink, and I will be thirsty,” says Jabbar Abu Eid, a pensioner from the west Baghdad district of Karkh. “Freedom means no water, no electricity, no fuel just elections.”

Iraqi exiles protest elections under occupation: Iraq elections are not free .

While boycotting this undemocratic exercise, we strongly condemn all forms of violence against Iraqis participating in it. We, as exiles, are confident that the vast majority of Iraqis, at home and abroad, shall unite to end the US-led occupation and establish democracy, whatever their stance on participation.

Will lack of election monitors preclude a fair vote? Even if elections pass without incident, they may fail to pass the smell test: UN worried over monitoring of Iraq election.

"The fact that security in Iraq is so bad that no one will go to observe the elections suggests that even if they pass without incident, they have failed," said Mr Chesterman. "Elections whose results are not believed are worse than no elections at all. If, when results come out, there is a dispute, and there is no way of resolving that impartially, there is a great danger that instead of resolving political tensions in Iraq it will create them."

Some we know won't vote: U.S. Prisons in Iraq Nearly Full With Rise in Insurgent Arrests . Of course the headline should read "Insurgent" arrests.

Paul McGeough writes about the US cooking the election books: Voter turnout won't be enough to legitimise election.

True to form, the Americans and the puppet regime they have installed are cooking the books. Senior US officials and interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi repeatedly insist that all is well because insecurity will restrict voting in "only four of Iraq's 18 provinces".
Four out of 18 is a little over 20 per cent and in the circumstances might be acceptable. But the truth is very different. Anywhere between 40 and 50 per cent of the population live in those four provinces....
And wouldn't you know it - the Americans now claim that the turnout doesn't count....
There is endless debate in the US and in the region about Washington's Iraq options - press on with or postpone the poll; stay the distance or exit as soon as it might be done half-decently afterwards. But it's too late for such hand-wringing. As a British official explained to Time magazine this week: "If we delay by two, three or six months, one month before [the new] election day we would be in exactly the same position we are now - but with an extra 1000 people dead and the violence more sophisticated." The Iraq truth, which should have been considered before it was too late, is that Washington has no options. The invasion of Iraq was the start of a sorry, organic mess that now must run its own brutal course.

Given the right connections, you too can make a buck out of the Iraqi war: Mom & Pop War Profiteering Team: The Woolseys.

I would rate the husband and wife team of James and Suzanne Woolsey up there as one of the most blatant examples of war profiting that I‘ve ever seen. They both remain policy advisors on Iraq, even though they both work for private firms that do business there. James has long wanted to use US military might to transform the Middle East. "And he has pushed for war with Iraq as hard as anyone, even before the terrorist attacks of Sep 11, 2001," according to the April 8, 2003 Global Policy Forum....
Just when I think I have seen every dirty filthy angle by which money can be made in the war profiteering trade, something else turns up. I recently discovered a little tid-bit that I was unaware of. In addition to getting $100 million tax dollars allocated for the INC and Ahmed Chalabi in 1998, James also became lawyer and adviser to Iraq's "President in Waiting" in the same year.

The Spoils! Iraqi Media Network Awards Harris Corporation $22 Million Contract for Network Integration and Deployment.

What's he stirring up? Iraqi Defense Minister Continues Accusations Against Iran, Syria.

The minister's latest accusation came in a 17 January interview with Al-Arabiyah television in which he said he has evidence that Iran is providing financial support to some electoral blocs competing in the 30 January elections. He showed the news channel a notebook that he said contained the names and wages allocated to some Islamic militias that receive support from outside Iraq, specifically from Iran. The notebook appeared empty of any writing.

The thieves fall out: Iraq defence minister says he will have Chalabi arrested before elections.

Tom Engelhardt and Jonathan Schell: What Is Wrong with Torture.

[Tom Engelhardt:] As Jonathan Schell says in the piece below (which the editors of the Nation magazine have kindly allowed Tomdispatch to publish on-line), with the upcoming vote on the nomination of Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General, the Senate is preparing, in our name, to cross a line of no return -- and that's something we shouldn't fool ourselves about....
[Jonathan Schell:] Torture is not wrong because someone else thinks it is wrong or because others, in retaliation for torture by Americans, may torture Americans. It is the torture that is wrong. Torture is wrong because it inflicts unspeakable pain upon the body of a fellow human being who is entirely at our mercy. The tortured person is bound and helpless. The torturer stands over him with his instruments. There is no question of "unilateral disarmament," because the victim bears no arms, lacking even the use of the two arms he was born with. The inequality is total. To abuse or kill a person in such a circumstance is as radical a denial of common humanity as is possible. It is repugnant to learn that one's country's military forces are engaging in torture. It is worse to learn that the torture is widespread. It is worse still to learn that the torture was rationalized and sanctioned in long memorandums written by people at the highest level of the government. But worst of all would be ratification of this record by a vote to confirm one of its chief authors to the highest legal office in the executive branch of the government.
Torture destroys the soul of the torturer even as it destroys the body of his victim. The boundary between humane treatment of prisoners and torture is perhaps the clearest boundary in existence between civilization and barbarism. Whether the elected representatives of the people of the United States are now ready to cross that line is the deepest question before the Senate as it votes on the nomination of Alberto Gonzales.

Condoleezza Rice sugarcoat's torture: Rice Refuses to Describe Detainee Abuse at Abu Ghraib As Torture.

The new Iraqi Mafia at work? U.S. Contractor Slain in Iraq Had Alleged Graft: The weapons dealer had accused officials in the Defense Ministry of a kickback scheme.

Voices from Abu Ghraib: The Injured Party. The following is excerpted testimony from a videotaped deposition of Hussein Mutar, entered into evidence by the prosecution in the court martial of Spc. Charles Graner, convened at Ford Hood, Texas. Mr. Mutar was an Iraqi prisoner arrested on suspicion of theft before the US invasion of Iraq and held in the encampment section of Abu-Ghraib in November 2003, when the events he describes occurred. The following excerpt was taken down in longhand by an observer at the trial. Official transcripts are not available.

If elections are so great, why not use one to ask Iraqis when to leave? Iraq: America should engineer an exit poll.

Iraqi voters urged to turnout corrupt government ministers: Iraqi Ministries Are Corrupt, Says Panel; Voter Turnout Urged.

At the elections poker table; Sunnis fold, wait for next hand: Sunni Arab boycott of Iraq vote may not hurt community's long term interests.

Abuse a daily occurrence at the numerous occupation checkpoints: Baghdad’s Checkpoint Madness: An Iraqi government minister resigns after a scuffle with U.S. soldiers. If this is how they treat their puppets, imagine how they treat everyone else.

As a minister, he's entitled to the VIP lane, but a young soldier told him to go back. When he tried to tell them who he was, says an aide, "They just laughed at him. Go back in line Mr. F------ Minister." Al-Hassani, who served as a government negotiator in Fallujah, and who is now in charge of rebuilding that city, has escaped numerous assassination attempts, so his place in line isn't just a matter of insisting on perks....
"Every single minister has been treated in an unacceptable way by soldiers," Al-Janabi says. At every cabinet meeting, he says, there would be at least one minister who arrived late, and hopping mad at his treatment outside.

ICRC concludes torture continued at Guantanamo in September, 2004, LONG after the Abu Ghraib story broke. Boy, these guys sure love a scream: Iraq: New War, Old Tactics?

The latest Red Cross visit occurred a month after two major probes authorized by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reprimanded the military for such practices. Another one of these probes, led by Brig. Gen. Richard Formica and focused on Special Forces-led interrogations in secret facilities, has been held up for months. And now the government is debating the formation of special squads in Iraq supported by Special Forces or the CIA, the so-called Salvador option. If implemented, such squads could recruit Iraqis to aggressively "snatch" insurgents and sympathizers, hauling them off to such facilities, or kill them, sources tell NEWSWEEK.

Cuba says cut it out: Cuba Tells US to Stop Guantanamo Bay Prisoners 'Abuse'.

Cuba today accused the United States of lying to the world about its treatment of prisoners at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, saying torture was a daily occurrence at the prison camp for terror suspects.

The rich seek safety: Wealthy Iraqis seek safety abroad.

Imperial alliance cracking: Britain urges Iraq pullout timetable.

Support for Iraqi democracy, Illinois style: Iraq Election Group Told to Leave in Ill.

Further doubts about the "free and fair" elections: Iraqi police drawn into poll contest as gloves come off.

A little spine in the Democrats, till they fold: Judiciary Committee delays vote on attorney general nominee Gonzales.

Our "free society" at work: Detainees Can't Challenge Confinement.

Lawyers representing the detainees said they would appeal. If allowed to stand, the decision would ``render meaningless'' the Supreme Court ruling by allowing detainees access to federal court, but then automatically dismissing their suits as groundless, they said....
Leon concluded the detainees presented ``no viable theory'' to support their claim that they are being held in violation of federal laws. Foreign citizens captured and detained outside the United States have no rights under the Constitution or international law, he said. [If it stands, this decision defends absolute tyranny.]

Occupation and torture are one: Shocking images revealed at Britain's 'Abu Ghraib trial'. But: Colonel forced to act after reports of abuse: Accused soldiers 'only obeying orders'.

[Shocking images:] Graphic photographs showing how squaddies forced Iraqis to strip bare and simulate oral and anal sex were put before a panel of seven officers. They also saw pictures of a grimacing Iraqi who had been strung up in a cargo net made from thick rope which had been hung from a forklift truck. Another showed a soldier, wearing just shorts and flip flops, standing on an Iraqi man who was crouched in a foetal position on the ground.

Where they occupy, they torture: Abuse of Iraqi civilians by soldiers was not confined to one camp, says colonel.

Potential consequences: Graphic images on the internet may turn Basra into a bloody Baghdad.

Here, in the the capital of British-controlled Shia south, is where the effect of the shocking images will cause the most damage and may lead to lethal repercussions. Access to the internet has given access to graphic examples of degrading treatment said to have been meted out by British troops to people they had supposedly "liberated" a few months before.

An obituary for murdered Iraqi unionist: Hadi Saleh. "A leading Iraqi trade unionist, he fought for workers' rights and opposed the rule of Saddam Hussein, as well as the recent war "

Saleh was murdered after being tortured by a gang who broke into his Baghdad home. His IFTU comrades described the killing as bearing all the hallmarks of the former security services. His union files and membership records were ransacked.
When the history of Iraq's labour movement is written, Hadi Saleh's role will be prominent. Those of us who believe in his values must stand in solidarity with his fellow Iraqi trade unionists. Hadi Saleh understood that in Iraq, civil society institutions, particularly trade unions, are the key to preventing a repeat of the past. That is why he gave his life to the cause of the workers' movement.

Unexpected snags in rebuiling southern Iraq: After repairs in Basra, a wait at the water taps.

Will the new Iraqi government hold talks with Baathist insurgents? Sunni leaders lobby for talks with insurgents.

When the people talk: Residents unleash anger at security forces in Iraq.

Yesterday's meeting in this violence-prone Sunni triangle city was meant to give suspected insurgents one last chance to change their ways before Jan. 30. Instead, it turned into a forum for residents to vent their rage against the interim government, coalition troops and the very Iraqi security forces meant to protect them on election day.

Trudy Rubin on runup to elections: Election is embraced and feared.

So Shiite religious leaders have ordered their followers to vote, emphasizing the importance of having a Shiite parliamentary majority involved in writing the new Iraqi constitution. One of the three strongest political parties, a collection of Shiite parties and groups called the United Iraqi Alliance, has plastered posters around town bearing the photo of Grand Ayatollah Sistani, who has "blessed" the list. Secular parties have argued that this is a violation of campaign laws, using a religious figure to promote a political list....
One poster shows a candle whose flame is made up of Arabic calligraphy spelling out the word constitution. The text reads: "Let the Constitution be our candle, which will light our vision after a long dark age of suppression. Let us guarantee freedom and rights for all....
Every Shiite political and religious leader I've spoken to has stressed that last sentence, insisting that they don't intend to do to Sunnis what the latter did to them. Most Sunnis don't believe it. The insurgents who bomb Shiite party headquarters are trying to drive Shiites to take revenge and confirm the worst fears of Sunnis. Ayatollah Sistani has instructed his followers not to seek revenge, even in heinous cases where insurgents have mutilated women. So far, his instructions have been followed.

More on the election runup from Bernhard Zand of Speigel Online: Democratic Confusion.

Judging by the sheer number of posters the group has plastered across the country, it is virtually a sure thing that al-Hakim, Jafari and Chalabi will all end up in the new, 275-member national assembly. Their logo has practically no competition in towns in southern Iraq and their slogan, "Vote the Candle! Vote List 169!" adorns street corners from Baghdad to Basra. In addition, the group also has the endorsement of the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of the Shiites. Almost nobody doubts that the alliance will be successful in the upcoming elections....
Early on, Allawi's alliance was virtually written off because the interim prime minister is seen by many as a Washington puppet and as partially responsible for a number of controversial policies, such as the decision to storm the rebel-held city of Falluja. But his chances are improving; he has become an excellent media manager and often uses satellite television for publicity. The Dubai station al-Arabia often broadcasts fawning portraits of Allawi and shows almost daily interviews with the candidate. Iraqi List campaign advertisements complete the package.

In the Iraqi elections, money talks. Who's paying? Success at polls appears to key on one factor: Cash.

Frustrations among underfunded groups like the National Democratic Party run in sharp contrast to emerging parties such as Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's coalition, called Iraqi List, and the United Iraqi Alliance. Allawi's party and the alliance, both led by former exiles with ample resources, are flooding the airwaves with commercials. Analysts expect both groups will see huge triumphs at the polls.
Iraqi election regulations require transparency on campaign money, and rules bar any contributions from militia or insurgent groups. Candidates also must sign a statement vowing not to take money from foreign sources. But officials say there is no way to monitor or regulate the money believed to be pouring into Iraq, where most commerce is conducted in cash.
Iraq also has a media commission that requires TV stations to give parties equal time, but that is largely being ignored. In fact, many parties have their own TV and radio stations, which seem to cover only their candidates....
Allawi has been running nonstop ads on Arab-language TV, especially on al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based station owned by interests in Saudi Arabia, where Allawi spent a number of his exile years.
The United Iraqi Alliance -- with the apparent endorsement of Iraq's top Shi'a cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani -- likewise has been running nonstop election propaganda on its al-Furat satellite TV station. Many of its leaders spent decades in exile in Iran, and much of al-Furat's programming -- such as interviews with citizen after citizen voicing intentions to vote for the alliance -- resembles state-controlled Iranian television.

Edmund Sanders of the LA Times on runup to elections: Slates Still Blank for Iraqi Voters: Amid jumble of similar pitches and anonymous contenders, citizens are likely to fall back on ethnic and religious affinities in selecting.

There have been no public debates or voter fact booklets to help citizens wade through the 111 slates offering candidates for a transitional national assembly, which will write the country's constitution. Iraqis still don't know where they will vote, what the ballots will look like or, because of assassination fears, the names of 7,400 candidates....
In the absence of facts or aggressive campaigning, electoral experts predict that Iraqis will have little choice but to revert to religious affiliation or ethnicity when making a decision. Shiite Muslims will vote for Shiites, Kurds for Kurds. Members of Islam's Sunni branch, if they vote at all, will seek out a Sunni slate.

Things get better and better: Experts see bleak future for Iraq.

A series of new U.S. intelligence assessments on Iraq paint a grim picture of the road ahead and conclude that there's little likelihood that President Bush's goals can be attained in the near future.

Bush off the hook? New Iraqi government likely to push for U.S. pull out: Iraq expected to seek U.S. pullout timetable.

US killing in Tal Afar of the parents of five children at a roadblock, captured in pictures: In pictures: Shooting in Tal Afar.

Dahr Jamail's latest: U.S. Military Resorting To Collective Punishment; Destroying Babylon; and: Odd Happenings in Fallujah.

[U.S. Military:] The U.S. military is resorting to collective punishment tactics in Iraq similar to those used by Israeli troops in the occupied territories of Palestine, residents say....
”The Americans were attacked from this field, then they returned and started cutting down all the trees,” says Kareem, a local mechanic, pointing to a pile of burnt date palms in a bulldozed field. ”None of us knows any fighters, we all know they are coming here from other areas to attack the Americans, but we are the people who suffer from this.”
[Destroying Babylon:] I say “elections” because the Higher Commission for Elections announced that it won’t be releasing the names of the candidates prior to the “elections.” With four of Iraq’s 18 governorates unable to participate in them, an estimated 90% of the Sunni population not voting, a sizeable amount of the Shia boycotting and a very large percentage of Iraqis unwilling to vote because of the horrendous security situation, calling them elections seems a bit of a stretch.
[dd Happenings:] Speaking on condition of anonymity he continued, “In the center of the Julan Quarter they are removing entire homes which have been bombed, meanwhile most of the homes that were bombed are left as they were. Why are they doing this?...” “At least two kilometers of soil were removed,” he explained, “Exactly as they did at Baghdad Airport after the heavy battles there during the invasion and the Americans used their special weapons.” He explained that in certain areas where the military used “special munitions” 200 square meters of soil was being removed from each blast site. In addition, many of his friends have told him that the military brought in water tanker trucks to power blast the streets, although he hadn’t seen this himself. “They went around to every house and have shot the water tanks,” he continued, “As if they are trying to hide the evidence of chemical weapons in the water, but they only did this in some areas, such as Julan and in the souk (market) there as well....”
Last month one refugee who had just arrived at the hospital in the small city explained that he’d watched the military bring in water tanker trucks to power blast some of the streets in Fallujah. “Why are they doing this,” explained Ahmed (name changed for his protection), “To beautify Fallujah? No! They are covering their tracks from the horrible weapons they used in my city.”

U.S. Army Specialist David Beals: Why I went AWOL.

Ghali Hassan on the destruction of Babylon by occupying forces: Civilization under Occupation. Actual report on damage: Report on Meeting at Babylon 11th - 13th December 2004 [MS Word]. And a photo of the US military camp inside Babylon: Inside Babylon which is now "Camp Babil".

Ah, oil! large oil companies are eager to wrap their tentacles around Iraqi petroleum: Iraq picks companies to study big fields.

Confirmation that Iraqi PM Allawi shot suspected insurgents: Allawi shot suspects: report. New Yorker article A man of the shadows: Can Iyad Allawi hold Iraq together?

In Iraq, as well, money buys campaigns and elections. But one lone candidate fights against the odds: The Iraqi election: The long shot.

"Yes, it's a difficult situation, but this is the only way to make a new society," he said. "We have to challenge the violence. The people are scared, but they have hope in this process...."
In a race dominated by sheiks and political insiders, al-Sa'adi is angling to be the voice of the Iraqi working man. Raised in a family of Baghdad laborers, al-Sa'adi was a union leader at a factory when he ran afoul of the Baath Party and landed in jail for the first time, in 1963. Four years later, under pressure from factory owners, he fled to Cairo, where he got a doctorate in Arabic literature before moving to Libya, Algeria and then England. He started a family, launched an Arabic cultural charity and wrote novels.

Mascolo and von Ilseman of Der Spiegel: U.S. Military Personnel Growing Critical of the War in Iraq.

A revolt seems to be taking place within the ranks. Even though daily bomb attacks in Iraq and the latest death toll of 1,361 US soldiers have yet to trigger any significant reversal in US public opinion, and even though President Bush reiterated last week that the world is a safer place without Saddam Hussein, Bush's soldiers and officers seem increasingly convinced that the opposite is true.

The enduring cost of the Iraq War to one state, Alabama, revealed: Fighting for their lives: Devastating injuries, shock of war leave their mark on returning soldiers

Dutch Iraqi peacekeeping mission will end in March.

Britain’s RAF has personnel problems in Iraq: RAF pilots in Iraq fear new threat: errors of exhausted ground crew .

Iraq vets getting out of Guard: Getting soldiers to re-up is becoming more difficult for the Oregon National Guard as new deployments seem certain.

Is this what elections are supposed to be like? In Iraq, fear of the vote - and of its outcome. And: Some will wait out election in another country. Meanwhile, surreal security for Iraqi vote: Sweeping security is set for Iraq vote: Wide cordons, ban on car travel planned.

More fall guys to come: US to try 20 more troops for Iraq abuse. But: Higher Officials Unlikely to Be Tried. While murders a plenty occurred: A trail of torture at hands of US forces.

Robert Fisk's latest: Not Even Saddam Could Achieve the Divisions This Election Will Bring. And: Hotel journalism gives American troops a free hand.

Seymour Hersh on secret wars, on and on: The Coming Wars: What the Pentagon can now do in secret.

We blew it, but please don't notice. Again: U.S. Lowers Expectations for Once-Heralded Iraq Vote.

Sadrist protests in Kut, Amara, Karbala and Baghdad: Sadr movement bounces back, demands solution to Iraq fuel crisis.

A campaign where the public can't be allowed to know who they're voting for! This is democracy? Security Issue Threatens to Skew Iraq Vote: Only Candidates Who Can Afford Guards Have Their Names Publicized.

Juan Cole of the University of Michigan, a specialist in Middle Eastern affairs, predicted last week that the election process, which was formulated by the American-run CPA and the Iraqi Provisional Council that was dominated by returning Iraqi exiles, would favor many of those former exiles, who have advantages such as money to pay guards.

One less willing: Government confirms withdrawal of Portuguese police from Iraq in February.

Electorate said administration doing a great job. No one need be held accountable for disaster: Bush Says Election Ratified Iraq Policy.

President Bush said the public's decision to reelect him was a ratification of his approach toward Iraq and that there was no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath.... With the Iraq elections two weeks away and no signs of the deadly insurgency abating, Bush set no timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops and twice declined to endorse Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's recent statement that the number of Americans serving in Iraq could be reduced by year's end.

Even down south, dying distasteful: General says Iraq war taking toll on Alabama Guard.

Dahr Jamail: The Tsunami of Iraq.

Ten years for fall-guy Graner. How many for Bush, Gonzales, Rumsfeld, and the many others responsible: Abu Ghraib torturer jailed. See also: Graner Blames Superiors in Abuse Case. Also see: 'NYT' Obtains 10 Emails, with Photos, Sent by Accused Abu Ghraib Abuser .

[Abu Ghraib torturer:] Asked if he regretted abusing prisoners, Graner paused, then said: “Maybe you missed that there’s a war. Bad things happen in war.” “Apparently I followed an illegal order.”

Meanwhile, the torture firms get rewarded with great contracts: Abu Ghraib abuse firms are rewarded .

And Tom Ridge says: US 'should not rule out torture'.

Robert Fisk takes the new Beirut-Baghdad airline: How a Flying Carpet Took Me Back in Time - Until I Landed in Baghdad .

After thousands of years, the legacy of humanity is being destroyed: Babylon wrecked by war: US-led forces leave a trail of destruction and contamination in architectural site of world importance. They have no shame!

The report, quoted by the Guardian newspaper on Saturday, said military vehicles had crushed a 2,600-year-old brick pavement and that there were archaeological fragments scattered across the site, including broken bricks stamped by King Nebuchadnezzar John Curtis, keeper of the British Museum's Near East department, who was invited by the Iraqis to study the site, also found that large quantities of sand mixed with archaeological fragments have been taken from the site to fill military sandbags and metal mesh baskets, the newspaper said. "This is tantamount to establishing a military camp around the Great Pyramid in Egypt or around Stonehenge in Britain," Curtis said in the report.

The price of an Iraqi life: U.S. Soldier Sentenced to One Year for Iraq Murder.

They knew all along, says Financial Times: US ignored warning on Iraqi oil smuggling.

[A] joint investigation by the Financial Times and Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian business daily, shows that the single largest and boldest smuggling operation in the oil-for-food programme was conducted with the knowledge of the US government. “Although the financial beneficiaries were Iraqis and Jordanians, the fact remains that the US government participated in a major conspiracy that violated sanctions and enriched Saddam's cronies,” a former UN official said. “That is exactly what many in the US are now accusing other countries of having done. I think it's pretty ironic.”

Life just gets better and better: Energy woes darken upcoming Iraq vote: War, corruption, disrepair drain power, patience.

More than 20 months after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, Iraq is shrouded in a different kind of darkness. Insurgent sabotage, faulty electrical equipment and maintenance problems are robbing the nation of heat and light....
"I'm sure if Saddam were in power now, we would not see such a crisis," Mouslih said. "It's like a war against us--a war of electricity, war of gas and war of cooking gas. How can we live under such circumstances?"

War on Terror? Hell No, it was a war to crate terrorists. NIC report: Iraq provides terrorists with "a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills:" Iraq New Terror Breeding Ground: War Created Haven, CIA Advisers Report.

Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of "professionalized" terrorists, according to a report released yesterday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank.

Heavy cost of replacing worn equipment to be kept hidden, not being addressed in budget requests:

Michael Schwartz: Falluja: City Without a Future?

In Iraq, key Sunni party resigned to elections. While: Fear of Shiite rule in Iraq grows.

Another smoking gun. Under administration pressure, Congress deleted a provision that would have banned torture: Congress killed measures to ban U.S. use of torture. Only the American public, or a war crimes trial and stop the monsters.

A new opinion made public late last month, signed by Deputy Attorney General James Comey, explicitly rejected torture and adopted more restrictive standards to define it. .But a cryptic footnote to the new document about the "treatment of detainees" referred to what the officials said were other still-classified opinions. The footnote meant, the officials said, that coercive techniques were still lawful.

Dahr Jamail: A Restless Calm…

U.S. veteran [Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey]: “We’re committing genocide in Iraq”.

Avoiding kidnap, risking car bombs and coping with electricity shortages. A 'normal' day in the life of Manhal Fadhel.

Spc. Joseph Jacobo, with Modesto's Army National Guard unit, abandones his unit rather than face deployment to Iraq: Modesto-based Guard soldier AWOL: Lack of training, equipment cited in move to avoid Iraq.

Soldiers in Jacobo's Guard unit the 1st Battalion of the 184th Infantry Regiment went public late last year with concerns that they would suffer needlessly high casualty rates in Iraq because of poor training. Military officials have denied the soldiers' charges.

Testimony at Specialist Charles Graner's trial: Abu Ghraib guards 'following orders'.

Megan Ambuhl said at the court-martial of Specialist Charles Graner, portrayed as the lead figure in the 2003 prisoner abuse scandal, that military interrogators would tell the guards what to do with detainees.... "They would come down with their detainees and let us know what they wanted us to do with them," Ambuhl said, referring to military interrogators. "They might say this guy is cooperating, not cooperating." In one instance, she said an intelligence interrogator asked her to watch a male detainee shower even though prisoners usually had privacy. "They wanted me to go in the shower and point at the genital area and laugh at them," she said. Another time, a civilian interrogator ordered her to deal with a detainee called "al-Qaeda" because he was a suspected member of the network, said Ambuhl, who was present when a naked Iraqi prisoner was leashed and photographed. "Steve (the interrogator) told us we were doing a good job and that breaking al-Qaeda (the prisoner) would have a global impact and save a lot of lives," she said. Ambuhl, testifying on the second day of defence witnesses, said she had heard two military intelligence officers ask Graner and Private Ivan Frederick, who is serving an eight-year sentence in the case, to rough up a detainee.

The great democratic elections: Falling like Flies: 53 Iraqi Parties Withdraw from Elections.

They'll be a failure, but please don't notice: U.S. lowers expectations on Iraq vote: White House: Process is key, not turnout.

It's about time: 16 House Democrats urge Bush to start pullout from Iraq.

Powell gives bleak assessment of Iraq security problems.

Mr Bush recently asked Mr Powell for his view on the progress of the war. "We're losing," Mr Powell was quoted as saying. Mr Freeman said Mr Bush then asked the secretary of state to leave.

Iraqi minister of state resigns after being detained by U.S. military: Iraq aide quits over US conduct.

The Iraqi politician managing interim leader Iyad Allawi's election campaign has resigned from the government in protest at the conduct of US troops. Minister of State Adnan Janabi stepped down after US troops apparently held him in handcuffs for more than 30 minutes at a Baghdad roadblock....
According to the BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad, Mr Janabi's resignation is being seen largely as a protest at the Americans' perceived arrogance in their dealings with the interim Iraqi government.

Human Rights Watch calls for prosecution of the senior US officials responsible for torture at Abu Ghraib: Abu Ghraib, Darfur: Call for Prosecutions [Press release] or: Full World Report 2005.

[Press Release:] “The U.S. government is less and less able to push for justice abroad, because it’s unwilling to see justice done at home,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.]
[Report:] When an unidentified government official retaliated against a critic of the Bush administration by revealing his wife to be a CIA agent—a serious crime because it could endanger her—the administration agreed, under pressure, to appoint a special prosecutor who has been promised independence from administration direction. Yet the administration has refused to appoint a special prosecutor to determine whether senior officials authorized torture and other forms of coercive interrogation – a far more serious and systematic offense. As a result, no criminal inquiry that the administration itself does not control is being conducted into the U.S. government’s abusive interrogation methods. The flurry of self-investigations cannot obscure the lack of any genuinely independent one.

A new CNN/USA Today poll finds US public strongly disapproves of Guantanamo/Abu Ghraib torture techniques. Of course, they just reelected the one who ordered it: Poll: Most object to extreme interrogation tactics. Actual Poll Results

Witness says MPs at Abu Ghraib got orders.

Seumas Milne: This election could plunge Iraq further into the abyss: Rigged polls held under foreign occupation have a notorious pedigree.

More progress: Iraq's power supply sinks to record low: US general says power plants now generate only 3,500-3,600 megawatts daily well below pre-invasion levels.

Most of the country has less than three hours of power per day. [Imagine what that does to the economy, much less daily life. I bet the Green Zone has 24 hour power.]

The indirect monetary costs of the war; worn-out equipment requires replacing. This accelerated depreciation isn't reported with the day-to-day costs of the war: The indirect monetary costs of the war; worn-out equipment requires replacing. This accelerated depreciation isn't reported with the day-to-day costs of the war: U.S. Army Needs $10 Bln to Repair Vehicles in Iraq, Meehan Says.

Stories from the gulag: the Bisher al-Rawi affair: Tortured, humiliated and crying out for some justice: Four Guantánamo Britons are coming home. Don't forget those left behind.

"Do you know what disappoints me most? I am disappointed in American justice. I expected so much more. When we arrived at Guantánamo and realised we were in US custody, I was confident my situation would be resolved. I assured my fellow prisoners that it was good to be out of Afghanistan and in American hands and that we would be fairly treated. After two years, I am no longer so foolish...."
Bisher is being punished for having a short list with the names of prisoners who want to be represented by counsel and have asked him to write to me on their behalf. He apologises for bothering me, conceding that he "needs a shoulder to cry on". I write a letter to the military, complaining about his treatment. I do not expect a reply. A government that engages in such abhorrent behaviour has lost its capacity to be moved by the entreaty of a lawyer to treat his client fairly and return his toilet paper.

Hasn't he done enough damage? Bremer Asks Dutch Army to Remain in Iraq . the fool still thinks he did the right thing: Disbanding Saddam's Army Was Correct, Bremer Writes. After all, as his goal was to create an Iraq incapable of defending itself and reliant on its US occupiers for decades, he may have succeeded.

A billion dollars and tens of thousands dead, it's over: Search for Banned Arms In Iraq Ended Last Month: Critical September Report to Be Final Word. Nancy Pelosi: 'With Search for WMD in Iraq Over, President Needs to Explain Why He Was So Wrong, for So Long'.

Doctors as torturers. This behavior used to be condemned when done by others: Doctor's Orders -- Spill Your Guts.

An interesting perspective by Michael Schwartz of the situation in Sadr City as a harbinger of the future: The taming of Sadr City.

The existence of these dual governments in many cities rebuts American claims that US withdrawal would result in chaos. Ironically, just the reverse is true; US success in defeating the guerrillas would result in chaos, whereas a guerrilla victory would bring greater stability (and perhaps too strict an order) to the Iraqi cities.

Presumably afraid of a Shia state next door, a Jordanian: Diplomat Questions Validity of Iraq Voting.

In another hostile move against Syria: US holds hundreds of hauliers in Iraq.

Another step toward full-scale civil war: Ayatollah alarms Sunnis with pledge of security force purge.

Asked if he planned a sweeping purge of the intelligence and security forces that the Americans built up piecemeal after the war, the Ayatollah, who once commanded Sciri’s 10,000-strong militia, said: “For sure. If we want to improve the security situation. It’s natural and it’s one of our priorities.” In their place, he said he would install “loyal Iraqis and the believers (in God), and those who believe in the process of change in Iraq”. His words caused alarm among Iraq’s liberal commentators.
“If he forms the government, that will be a disaster. He’ll purge the army, purge the police and put his own men in it,” said Ghassan al-Atiyyah, a secular Shia commentator, who is trying to build bridges with the Sunni community and defuse the uprising. “This is the road to civil war.” Mr al-Atiyyah brushed aside the Ayatollah’s promise to ensure Sunni seats in government even if turnout was too low to bring their parties into parliament. “This is exactly what the old regime did,” he said.

Dahr Jamail: “This is not a life”.

Another account, from the AP: Fallujah residents angry over destruction.

Alaa Sabri Hardan, a 20-year-old agriculture student, said he lost his most valuable possessions - photo albums. "I did not regret losing anything in my burnt house as much as I regret losing the 250 photographs of my childhood and my late parents," he said.

Withdrawl doesn't seem to be one of the options: US looking at rethink of strategy in Iraq.

The war is coming home: Cop, Gunman Dead: Marine killed after shooting officers.

Julia Cortez Raya said Monday that her son served in Fallujah: "He came back different." Raya told family members he did not want to return to Iraq. But his father said the family believed by the end of his holiday visit, Raya had decided to make the best of the 2½ years he had left in the Marines. He rejoined his unit at Camp Pendleton on Jan. 2. Sheriff's Lt. Bill Heyne said Raya was last seen at Camp Pendleton Saturday.

GI resistance grows: U.S. Army Sergeant Defies Order, Refuses Re-Deployment: 2 Soldiers Attempt Suicide at 2-7 Infantry, 17 Go AWOL.

[Setting a new record for disgusting behavior:] The 2-7 Chaplain, Captain Matt Temple in a letter addressed to Benderman today stated that: “It is unfortunate that you have chosen the course of action you have taken. You should have had the moral fortitude to deploy with us and see me here in Kuwait to begin your CO application. To expect me to complete an interview with you within 48 hours of a major deployment was unreasonable and quite inconsiderate of my own time. I would have gladly helped you once we got here. As an NCO in the US ARMY, I expected a greater display of maturity from you. Furthermore, for you to have media personnel contacting me at my personal email address without first acquiring my permission was very unprofessional of you. You should be ashamed of the way you have conducted yourself. I certainly am ashamed of you. I hope you will see your misconduct as an opportunity to upgrade your character and moral behavior for your own good and the good of your fellowman.” Benderman said the letter disgusted him, stating “Nothing in my career as a professional soldier has prepared me to respond to something like that letter from the Chaplain.”
Benderman has also garnered the support of an American icon and war hero, Colonel James “Bo” Gritz, USA (Ret.), who profiled Benderman for three days running on his radio show “Freedom Call”. Gritz has labeled previous charges by the Army in connection with Benderman’s refusal to deploy and statements to the press “ridiculous,” and savaging the officers of 2-7, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush on the air while calling Benderman “a hero” and his immediate superiors “weenies.” Colonel Gritz is one of the most decorated soldiers in U.S. Army history, having led the only raid on a prisoner of war camp during the Vietnam War at Son Tay, North Vietnam.

Allawi tries to buy good words. Few would give it to him voluntarily: Allawi group slips cash to reporters.

Robert Fisk: Iraqi insurgents ahead in war of intelligence .

Must Read! Two doctors, one also a US representative [Jim McDermott], call for an investigation of war crimes in the Fallujah attack! The letter is also endorsed by 17 other Seattle doctors: Investigate Alleged Violations of Law in Fallujah Attack.

The means of attack employed against Fallujah are illegal and cannot be justified by any conceivable ends. In particular, the targeting of medical facilities and denial of clean water are serious breaches of the Geneva Conventions. Continuation of these practices will soon confirm what many already suspect: that the United States of America believes it is above the law.
magine a world where such ferocious attacks become common. Imagine the Puget Sound region's hospitals and clinics as targets, our water supply fouled. Imagine our outrage. Let's not walk any farther down that path
To prevent more harm, we should support: 1) a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Fallujah, allowing unrestricted access for independent relief agencies such as the Red Crescent; 2) an independent investigation into violations of international law in Fallujah, as called for by Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Nov. 16; and 3) a campaign to deny any further supplemental budget requests that may, in fact, fund war crimes.

Torture everywhere, Or isn't it "torture", Alberto? Witness: CIA, SEALs Beat Iraq Prisoners to Death.

Conflict over Kirkuk elections continues: Analysis: Kurds Maintain Stance On Kirkuk Elections.

Iraq's Allawi says some areas unsafe for poll. And cryptography being used to protect polling places. It gives "secret ballot" a whole new meaning: To vote in Iraq, crack the code: Iraqi districts said to be using cryptic messages to lead people to polls ..

A senior U.S. commander said last week four of Iraq's 18 provinces, including parts of the capital, were still too insecure to hold elections and predicted a surge of violence.

What constitutes torture? The Rules of War: At issue, how we define torture, prisoners, terrorists and lawful orders.

According to the United States' 1956 military manual, anyone picked up during an international conflict who is not a prisoner of war is protected under Geneva's civilian convention.... In addition to torture, the civilian convention also prohibits cruel, degrading, humiliating, inhumane or even intimidating treatment.

A snapshot of the real Baghdad; not quit up to GWB's spin: Heart of old Baghdad finally giving out.

"The disasters started in 1958. I cannot answer whether now or Saddam is better. Incomes are up, but there is no security," said Abbas, sitting among customers playing chess. "There is no tolerance either. If any group finds my opinion offensive they will bomb my business...."
Now, a certain pride that remained resilient in the face of Saddam's violence, as well as the optimism that flickered briefly after the war, have been all but obliterated.

Buying our next army: "The cost of recruiting a soldier ballooned from $7,600 in 1996 to more than $14,000 in 2004": From Time.

He'd be saying it on the last helicopter out: PM says Iraqi forces winning battle, Baghdad deputy police chief killed.

Will women loose from the elections? Iraqi women divided about whether to vote conservative and lose rights.

Abomination: Sniper threat against voters.

How to be safe on election day: Iraqis leave country to wait out elections, martial law extended.

Who killed labor leader Hadi Saleh? Saddam allies join terrorist crusade.

Jim Lobe reports that a new Defense Science Board report criticizes the administration's war strategy: More Dissent in Pentagon Ranks Over Iraq War. The full report: Transition to and From Hostilities.

Must Read! The Guardian and British Channel 4 News had Iraqi doctor Ali Fadhil film in destroyed Fallujah. His article: City of ghosts . An: extract from his documentary. Residents differ as to whether they blame the Americans or the mujahideen for the destruction. How about both?

By 10am we were inside the city. It was completely devastated, destruction everywhere. It looked like a city of ghosts. Falluja used to be a modern city; now there was nothing. We spent the day going through the rubble that had been the centre of the city; I didn't see a single building that was functioning....
On her mirror she pointed to a message that had been written in her lipstick. She couldn't read English. It said: "Fuck Iraq and every Iraqi in it!" "They are insulting me, aren't they?" she asked....
The ambulance driver lifted the bones of one of the hands; the skin had rotted away. "God is the greatest. What kind of times are we living through that we are holding the bones and hands of our brothers?" Then he began cursing the National Guard, calling them even worse things than the Americans: "Those bastards, those sons of dogs." It wasn't the first time I had heard this. It was the National Guard the Americans used to search the houses; they were seen by the Fallujans as brutal stooges. Most of the volunteers for the National Guard are poor Shias from the south. They are jobless and desperate enough to volunteer for a job that makes them assassination targets. "National infidels", they were also called....
On the next grave was written the name of a woman called Harbyah. She had refused to leave the city for the camps with her family. One of her relatives was standing by her grave. He said that he found her dead in her bed with at least 20 bullets in her body....
saw other rotting bodies that showed no signs of being fighters. In one house in the market there were four bodies inside the guest room. One of the bodies had its chest and part of its stomach opened, as if the dogs had been eating it. The wrists were missing, the flesh of the arm was missing, and parts of the legs.I tried to figure out who these four men were. It was obvious which houses the fighters were in: they were totally destroyed. But in this house there were no bullets in the walls, just four dead men lying curled up beside each other, with bullet holes in the mosquito nets that covered the windows. It seemed to me as if they had been asleep and were shot through the windows. It is the young men of the family who are usually given the job of staying behind to guard the house. This is the way in Iraq - we never leave the house empty.
It was getting dark and it was time to go, but I needed some overview shots of the city. There was a half-built tower, so I climbed it and looked around. I couldn't see a single building that hadn't been hit.

Dahr Jamail goes back after a break: Baghdad, As Usual.

The demolition of Fallujah continues. [They haven't done enough!] Two of my sources inside the city, who live in different neighborhoods, report that the military is now burning homes. Apparently, they are finding booby traps, so they are piling furniture up in the homes, dousing it with fuel, and burning it. Nevertheless, another Marine was killed there today.

Coalition looses another: Ukraine Orders Troops Withdrawn From Iraq.

Former Army Reserve soldier Aidan Delgado speaks out on abuse he witnessed at Abu Ghraib: In Good Conscience.

I think racism is a key motivating factor in the war. We witnessed a Marine kick a six-year-old child in the chest for bothering him about food and water. People in my unit used to break bottles over Iraqi civilians' heads as they drove by in their Humvees. A senior enlisted man in my unit lashed Iraqi children with a steel antenna because they were bothering him.

Abu Ghraib compared to shows by cheerleaders: Abu Ghraib accused lawyer defends abuse.

Now the election board in Anbar province resigns: Electoral Board in Iraqi province resigns, saying vote is impossible.

"They are kidding themselves," Rawi said about officials hopeful that the elections, set for Jan. 30, could take place in Anbar. An Iraqi at the commission's office in Anbar said the members had resigned and had gone into hiding.

Not only Iraqis feel mistreated by US troops. This article reports abuse of National Guard troops by the regular army: F Company Soldiers Describe Mistreatment in Iraq.

Buying the garbage of the Americans: American bargains at the Baghdad bazaar: Recycled goods, including foodstuffs and magazines, are prized.

Sgt. Kevin Benderman on refusing a second deployment to Iraq: Why I Refused a 2nd Deployment to Iraq.

First a brief forward from POAC co-editor Jack Dalton. I received an email a few moments ago from Kevin’s wife Monica. In it she has told me a total of 22 people in Sgt Benderman’s unit have refused to deploy to Iraq. 17 have gone AWOL and 2 have attempted suicide. The status of the remaining 3 is unknown at this time....
Somewhere along the route there was this one woman standing along side the road with a young girl of about 8 or 9 years old and the little girl’s arm was burned all the way up her shoulder and I don’t mean just a little blistered, I mean she had 3rd degree burns the entire length of her arm and she crying in pain because of the burns. I asked the troop executive officer if we could stop and help the family and I was told that the medical supplies that we had were limited and that we may need them, I informed him that I would donate my share to that girl but we did not stop to help her.
Small children would come up to the wall that surrounded the place before we had a chance to apply concertina wire along the top of the wall and they would toss small pebbles at us inside the walls. We would tell the children to get down from the wall and leave the area, one day the troop commander saw us telling the children top get down from the wall and he told everyone there that if the children came back at any time after that to shoot them if they were to climb back onto the wall.

At last he makes a statement on the crucial issue facing Iraq: Sistani: Sunnis Must have Effective Participation.

Everybody but Bush: Talk starts on strategy for U.S. exit from Iraq. How many more will die before they get out?

Drug addicted US troops sent to Scotland for help.

Reasonable offer. Fat chance of acceptance: Sunni group will end boycott call if U.S. withdrawal set.

Out of the frying pan, into the fire. Except there's nothing to fry: In Iraq, a winter of discontent: Tomato prices triple in the past two months as Baghdad families struggle to find work and keep shops open.

Thameer Jabar doesn't know if he's grateful or angry for the US invasion of Iraq. He was elated when Saddam Hussein's regime fell, and imagined a better future. But now all he's certain of is that this is the hardest winter in memory. Prices have never been so high, life so hand-to-mouth, or fears for his three children so great.

On strike since the beginning of January: Strike Action by Railway Workers in Basra as a response to insurgent attacks on workers. And support from Ireland for a murdered union leader: Murder of Hadi Saleh. He was allegedly murdered by Baathist forces: Statement by the IFTU Executive Committee on the torture and murder of Hadi Saleh, the International Secretary.

A ray of good news: Rumsfeld's Legacy: The Iraq Syndrome?

Iraq is not an experiment that future U.S. governments will care to repeat. For the moment, even this administration is unable to repeat it, because there are no ground forces to spare for major campaigns elsewhere. Unless it proves possible to gain the upper hand against the insurgents, a bungled war will leave the United States weaker and not stronger. The confidence in American power that led to war being initiated without direct provocation has been shaken. Whenever the possible use of force is raised again, assurances will be sought that this will not be "another Iraq." And future interventionists will worry about how to shake off the Iraq syndrome.

Must Read! Newsweek reports that the US intends to systematically "liberate" Iraqis from their wretched lives, by setting up El Salvador style death squads: ‘The Salvador Option’: The Pentagon may put Special-Forces-led assassination or kidnapping teams in Iraq.

More innocent people released from hell: Hundreds set free from Abu Ghraib.

Women for Women International has conducted the first survey of Iraqi women. Press Release: First Post-War Survey of Iraqi Women Shows Women Want Legal Rights; Dispels Notions That Women Believe Tradition, Culture Should Limit Their Participation in Government; Full Report: Window of Opportunity: The Pursuit of Gender Equality in Post-War Iraq [pdf].

    94% of women surveyed want to secure legal rights for women.
  • 84% of women want the right to vote on the final constitution.
  • Nearly 80% of women believe that their participation in local and national councils should not be limited.
Women for Women International warned, however, that the survey showed that more than twice as many women believed that religious institutions had done something to improve their lives in the past year (13%) than those who believed the government had done so (6%).

Shoot first, see what you killed later: Troops Kill 5 Iraqis After Convoy Bombed.

American troops opened fire after their convoy was struck by a roadside bomb at a checkpoint south of Baghdad, killing at least two policemen and three civilians, police said Sunday.... Dr. Anmar Abdul-Hadi of the al-Yarmouk hospital said eight people were killed in the attack and 12 were wounded.

There are reports of a potential deal to delay the elections a few weeks: US 'sets conditions for Iraq election delay'.

Oops! Mistake kills 14 Iraqi civilians. But then, hey, things happen in war: U.S. Says Airstrike on Iraq House Kills 5. after killing them, the military "disappears" 9 of the dead.

All 24: Samarra election commission members resign "in support of a call to boycott upcoming elections from the Muslim Clerics Association".

It's terrifying to confront such delusion: After Leveling City, U.S. Tries to Build Trust: In Fallouja, Marines are on a 'hearts and minds' campaign to woo residents and help keep rebels from returning.

The young Marines say they are confident that residents will come to accept that the destruction was necessary to rid Fallouja of the insurgents, whom the locals called mujahedin....
"It's kind of bad we destroyed everything, but at least we gave them a chance for a new start," said Navy corpsman Derrick Anthony, 21, of Chicago.
n preparation for Iraq, officers were ordered to reread the manual, particularly the section on insurgencies. One rule it discusses is maintaining moral superiority in the minds of the populace by stressing that the fighting was the insurgents' fault. Amid the destruction here, it is not an easy rule to follow. "It's hard to look these people in the eye after blowing everything up," said Staff Sgt. Travis McKinney, 31, of Vallejo, Calif. "These people were just victims."

Dahr Jamail: U.S. Military Families Bring Help.

Iraqi officials OK instant voter registrations in certain areas.

Dahr Jamail sums up the American occupation to date in a moving, and disturbing, look back: Iraq: The Devastation.

What I wonder is, will I be writing a piece next January still called, "Iraq: The Devastation," in which these last terrible months of 2004 (of which the first half of the year was but a foreshadowing) will prove in their turn but a predictive taste of horrors to come? And what then of 2006 and 2007?

Sunnis 'will get seats in government'.

Patrick Seale pushes for postponement of Iraqi elections in hopes of avoiding chaos: The Moment of Truth in Iraq.

Illusions in Iraq; review of Bush milestones since end of combat phase: Illusions in Iraq.

The Face of Evil. Returned Fallujah residents finding the US is still destroying their homes, and is humiliating them. For example residents have been forbidden to put front doors on their homes: No end to destruction in Falluja.

Speaking to Aljazeera on Saturday, Iraqi journalist Fadil al-Badrani added that a few who returned last week - and had been happy to find their houses mostly intact - watched in disbelief as US forces pushed their homes over in the past four days....
Most complained of US soldiers pointing their weapons at them even in the simplest of situations, while others asked why they had been prevented from putting front doors back on to their homes.

The murder of Iraq trade union leaders not worth reporting in the anti-labor US press: US Press Blackout on Iraqi Trade-Union Leader's Murder.

Testimony in a military trial revealed that the infamous monster Lieutenant-Colonel Nate Sassaman "ordered soldiers to lie about the bridge [murder] incident to the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, or CID" : US soldiers 'told to lie' in abuse probe.

Gonzales confirms that the President can order anyone tortured, anywhere: Gonzales Defends His White House Record: Nominee Questioned On Detainee Policies. This, along with the plans he disclosed to "renegotiate" the Geneva treaty [i.e., make its protections only apply to US troops, not those of US opponents] makes clear that, despite his protestations, the US will remain a torture state.

He also declined repeated invitations to repudiate a past administration assertion that the president has the authority to ignore anti-torture statutes on national security grounds.
Several Democratic senators, who have had increasingly sour relations with Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, said they were hopeful that their relationship with Gonzales would be more productive....
Gonzales said "it is appropriate to revisit" the Geneva Conventions, which provide an international standard of conduct for handling detainees during military conflicts. Gonzales disclosed that White House officials, including some lawyers, had held "some very preliminary discussion" about the idea, but he said "it's not been a systematic project or effort...."
Four different senators tried to pin down Gonzales on the August 2002 memo's controversial assertion that a president had the power to authorize torture in unusual circumstances, but Gonzales deflected that, saying it was a "hypothetical question." A new memo issued by the Justice Department last month also avoided the question of presidential power. At the same time, Gonzales did not rule out reaching such a conclusion in the future. "I would have to know what . . . is the national interest that the president may have to consider," he told Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.).

Vietnamization failing: Policemen resigning due to insecurity and threats.

According to Maj Salah al-Zeidan, police chief in the Karada district of the capital, many officers resigned after receiving threats from unknown sources and some decided to leave the country.

Internal US poll shows Sunnis not likely to vote in Iraq election.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern opposes capital punishment, even for vermin like Alberto Gonzales: Torture: it's just plain wrong.

Torture is counterproductive. But actually it's a lot worse. It's also just plain wrong. That's why there are so many laws against it. Not because it's counterproductive ... but because it's just plain wrong....
I am against the death penalty ... even for such unconscionable behavior as Mr. Gonzales'. But I break out in a cold sweat at the thought our senators might approve him for the post of attorney general. This would send precisely the wrong signal to our young troops and, indeed, to the world.... The last thing we need is Mr. Gonzales heading up a Travesty of Justice Department.

Why waste the money, if it's not for killing people there's no point to it: U.S. Only Spent Small Part of Iraq Rebuilding Funds.

Senate nods solemnly as Gonzales lies and winks: Attorney General Nominee Hit for Prisoner Policy. They'll vote for the torturer, we all know that. Meanwhile, the cover-up continues: White House Won't Release Gonzales Papers.

The horrors abound: New Guantanamo abuse cases surface.

One document describes how an FBI special agent (SA) observed a female interrogator caress a shackled prisoner, whisper in his ear and then cause him to grimace in pain. "SA [name deleted] asked what had happened to cause the detainee to grimace up in pain," the document said. "The marine said [she] had grabbed the detainees thumbs and bent them backwards and indicated that she also grabbed his genitals." The document showed that the marine also implied that her treatment of that detainee was less harsh than her treatment of others. He said he had seen her cause other detainees to curl up into a foetal position on the floor and cry in pain.

Australian conselar official watched abuse at Guantanamo as pictures were taken for soldier's girlfriend: Aussie official saw abuse: Habib.

Election to take place under watchful eyes of occupiers: U.S. to deploy 35,000 troops in Baghdad for elections.

The Lieutenant joins the photo-op crowd: US Senator John Kerry Visits Troops in Iraq.

Abu Ghraib soldier [Charles Graner] may plead he followed orders.

The Center for Constitutional Rights: Abu Ghraib Court Martial Should Not be Used to Cover-Up Rumsfeld and Other High Officials’ Responsibility for Torture Scandal.

“These are all euphemisms for abuse and torture. That practices like those seen in the infamous photos were deemed acceptable behavior is demonstrated by the existence of the photos themselves: there was apparently no fear of punishment for the conduct, or it would not have been recorded at all,” Ratner stated. As one of the investigative reports looking into Abu Ghraib concluded, the conduct was “almost routine.” For all of these reasons, Graner should have a full right to prove that his conduct was authorized.

Mark Danner speaks the simple truth to our collective denial: We Are All Torturers Now.

Mr. Gonzales is unfit because the slow river of litigation is certain to bring before the next attorney general a raft of torture cases that challenge the very policies that he personally helped devise and put into practice. He is unfit because, while the attorney general is charged with upholding the law, the documents show that as White House counsel, Mr. Gonzales, in the matter of torture, helped his client to concoct strategies to circumvent it. And he is unfit, finally, because he has rightly become the symbol of the United States' fateful departure from a body of settled international law and human rights practice for which the country claims to stand.
On the other hand, perhaps it is fitting that Mr. Gonzales be confirmed. The system of torture has, after all, survived its disclosure. We have entered a new era; the traditional story line in which scandal leads to investigation and investigation leads to punishment has been supplanted by something else. Wrongdoing is still exposed; we gaze at the photographs and read the documents, and then we listen to the president's spokesman "reiterate," as he did last week, "the president's determination that the United States never engage in torture." And there the story ends....
By using torture, we Americans transform ourselves into the very caricature our enemies have sought to make of us. True, that miserable man who pulled out his hair as he lay on the floor at Guantánamo may eventually tell his interrogators what he knows, or what they want to hear. But for America, torture is self-defeating; for a strong country it is in the end a strategy of weakness. After Mr. Gonzales is confirmed, the road back - to justice, order and propriety - will be very long. Torture will belong to us all.

Finally, the New York Times notices the pile of rubble that once was Fallujah: Return to what's left of Falluja. And the LA Times: Falloujans Return to All They Lost: Residents are scrutinized at tightly guarded entry points, then find a ghost city with blocks of empty homes, or just rubble.

In another violation of the Geneva Conventions: Army Doctors Implicated in Abuse: Medical Workers Helped Tailor Interrogations of Detainees, Article Says. The Nazi doctors were no doubt "acting as a combatant", so they should not have been convicted as war criminals. Will Bush rehabilitate them?

The article says that David N. Tornberg, deputy assistant secretary of defense for clinical and program policy, confirmed in an interview that interrogation units at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay had access to detainee medical records. In fact, interrogators "couldn't conduct their job" without such access, Tornberg is quoted as saying. He and other military officials argue in the article that when a doctor participates in interrogation, he is acting as a combatant, so the Hippocratic oath does not app

"bad apples" at the top of the tree: What Did Rumsfeld Know? ACLU releases documents of U.S. torture of detainees by more than 'a few bad apples'

For those getting lost in "memogate": A Guide to the Memos on Torture.

The famous wires at Abu Ghraib weren't just a threat if he fell. He was shocked: US Guards did give Me Electric Shocks.

The picture of Ali, 46, standing on a box with wires attached to his fingers is one of the most haunting images of the humiliation heaped on prisoners in Baghdad by US troops. At the time it was believed that Ali was being tormented with sleep deprivation, fearing he would be electrocuted if he fell off the box. But now for the first time he has told US magazine Vanity Fair: "They'd give me electric shocks." Whenever he collapsed or fainted, guards would kick him or beat him with sticks yelling: "Get up! Get up!"

Navy SEAL Details Iraqi Prisoner Abuse.

US troops 'laughed as Iraqi died'.

"We started to beg them not to throw us in the water," he said through a translator. "We said in English, 'Please, please', but it was in vain. "The soldiers had their rifles aimed at us. They were laughing."

What universe does he live in? American general says U.S. getting better at finding car bombs, attacks down in Baghdad.

Resistance attacks on oil industry costs Iraq eight billion dollars.

Daily life just gets harder: Privations weigh down Iraqi housewives.

Consulting with Bush, Gonzales personally rammed through illegal ignoring of Geneva Conventions and US legal restrictions on torture. This man will become Attorney General? Gonzales Helped Set the Course for Detainees. And, according to this Washington Post editorial, the revised US torture policy is so vague, it won't require any change in abusive practices: Palliatives for Prisoners. Remember: Unfinished Business: Confirming Gonzales Is Confirming Torture.

Doubts everywhere. Who will be left holding the bag? Iraqis go wobbly about elections. But: 'Bloodbath' if Iraq poll delayed.

Survey as nonviolent protest of Japanese participation in occupation: Militants poll Samawah on GSDF.

Iraqi candidate seeks pro-Sadr vote with an independent slate. And, with additional information: 'Men of politics' campaign for votes on stump in Iraq.

Thousands of Iraqis in australia may not be able to vote: Iraqis protest over lack of poll booths. And, in the US: Iraqis in U.S. Face Big Hurdles to Voting.

A new article in Vanity Fair reports that torture and sexual abuse continued right along at Abu Ghraib for months after the pictures came out and the scandal broke. This would be during the time that "Torture General" Miller was in charge and promising that all this was behind us: Report: Abu Ghraib did not stop abuse.

To remind us all: The Year in Torture: A Compendium of Abuse.

The following are forms of maltreatment visited upon prisoners by U.S. personnel during 2004. The list was compiled from articles detailing information in official U.S. documents. Allegations by prisoners that were not supported by official documents were not included.

Absolute power as policy: Injustice as State Policy : The Guantanamo Gulag.

Guantanamo is the logical extension of the corporate system. It focuses on dispatching potential enemies with maximum efficiency. The prison's main architect, Secretary Rumsfeld, has tried to meet the requirements of global commerce by producing a precision model of detention; applying his Germanic sensibility for organization with a "top-down" business strategy that sidesteps all the burdensome laws of due process. He has, in fact, created the modern-day terror-camp, free from any legal encumbrances and operating with complete impunity. However horrible the crime, no one is ever held accountable at Rummy's private Buchenwald.

Must Read! Iraq's future, courtesy of the US: Najaf, spiritual center of Shiite Islam, may become center of Iraq's political power.

Key policies for the nation's future - from security to a new constitution to the withdrawal of American forces - may be decided in the austere homes of Najaf's four highest-ranking ayatollahs, the top spiritual leaders. Only then would the laws make their way to the modern halls of a national assembly to the north.
"There will be monitoring of what the government is doing," said Mohammed Hussein al Hakim, who speaks for his father, Mohammed Sayeed al Hakim, one of the top four ayatollahs. "We don't have it in our heads to be the only source of political influence on the new government, but, yes, the religious authorities know the weight we carry in society. There will be counseling and directing from Najaf...."
"The decision-making of the marjaiya will assert itself into all the crucial policies of the next government," Kadhim said in an interview, referring to the Shiite clergy. "They'll be introducing a new political elite that also has religious credentials. They'll be clerics and politicians."

Coalition of the wilting: U.S. Reportedly Shifts on Involving Europeans. # Instead of seeking more troops, the White House will ask the Continent to support the larger effort to bring democracy to Iraq, officials say.

Only rebels killed in Falluja? Death in Fallujah rising, doctors say.

Bring me your sons and daughters: War tests recruiters' pitch. "This morning I had a mom laugh at me." And, in a delighful Catch 22, National Guard soldiers deployed to Iraq are finding their education benefits expired while they were deployed! Guard soldiers upset over college benefits.

"When we joined the Minnesota Army National Guard," said Spc. Steve Koep, who grew up in Fergus Falls, "it was for the college benefits...." Now when Koep comes home -- which isn't expected to be until October 2005 -- he said he will likely lose his tuition benefits because his time with the Guard will have ended. Koep, who installs wire and cable with the 134th Signal Battalion stationed near Baghdad International Airport, said tuition assistance is only available to soldiers while they are enlisted with the Guard. "Basically by getting deployed and fighting for our country," he said, "we are losing out on a lot of college benefits -- which was the main reason for joining."

U.S. gives a warning to Syrians. After all, Iraq's neighbors must not "interfere" with Iraq's occupation and domination by a power from thousands of miles away. Makes sense.

Must Read! Riverbend on: New Year and Elections...

The elections are set for the 29th. It's an interesting situation.... People don't really sense that this is the first stepping stone to democracy as western media is implying. Many people sense that this is just the final act of a really bad play. It's the tying of the ribbon on the "democracy parcel" we've been handed. It's being stuck with an occupation government that has been labeled 'legitimate' through elections....
Can you just imagine what our history books are going to look like 20 years from now? "The first democratic elections were held in Iraq on January 29, 2005 under the ever-watchful collective eye of the occupation forces, headed by the United States of America. Troops in tanks watched as swarms of warm, fuzzy Iraqis headed for the ballot boxes to select one of the American-approved candidates...."
There are several problems. The first is the fact that, technically, we don't know the candidates. We know the principal heads of the lists but we don't know who exactly will be running. It really is confusing. They aren't making the lists public because they are afraid the candidates will be assassinated.
Another problem is the selling of ballots. We're getting our ballots through the people who give out the food rations in the varying areas. The whole family is registered with this person(s) and the ages of the varying family members are known. Many, many, many people are not going to vote. Some of those people are selling their voting cards for up to $400. The word on the street is that these ballots are being bought by people coming in from Iran. They will purchase the ballots, make false IDs (which is ridiculously easy these days) and vote for SCIRI or Daawa candidates.
Yet another issue is the fact that on all the voting cards, the gender of the voter, regardless of sex, is labeled "male". Now, call me insane, but I found this slightly disturbing. Why was that done? Was it some sort of a mistake? Why is the sex on the card anyway? What difference does it make? There are some theories about this. Some are saying that many of the more religiously inclined families won't want their womenfolk voting so it might be permissible for the head of the family to take the women's ID and her ballot and do the voting for her. Another theory is that this 'mistake' will make things easier for people making fake IDs to vote in place of females.
All of this has given the coming elections a sort of sinister cloak. There is too much mystery involved and too little transparency. It is more than a little bit worrisome.

Even these guys can't stomach Bush's appointee: Gonzales Nomination Draws Military Criticism: Retired Officers Cite His Role in Shaping Policies on Torture.

In addition to Shalikashvili, other prominent signatories to the letter include retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, former chief of the Central Command; former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill A. McPeak; and Lt. Gen. Claudia J. Kennedy, the Army's first female three-star general.

US to assume direct of Iraqi government forces through "advisers": U.S. May Add Advisers to Aid Iraq's Military.

A Democracy Now! interview: The Mire of Death, Lies and Atrocities: Robert Fisk Looks Back at 2004.

A minor interaction with US troops that could have gone awry: People In Exile.

These young people have been formed, by military training, to be hard, strong, and forceful. But how will they deal with conflict back home if their instinct now is to push, force, and shout rather than listen and seek the truth? Their formation is designed to save their lives. But is it worth one's life to lose one's heart?

Must Read! The Economist documents the routine nature of American killing of innocent Iraqi civilians and their utter disregard for Iraqi life: When deadly force bumps into hearts and minds

Sometimes, they say, they fire on vehicles encroaching within 30 metres, sometimes they fire at 20 metres: “If anyone gets too close to us we fucking waste them,” says a bullish lieutenant. “It's kind of a shame, because it means we've killed a lot of innocent people....”
Bystanders to an insurgent ambush are also liable to be killed. Sometimes, the marines say they hide near the body of a dead insurgent and kill whoever comes to collect it....
ince September 1st, when the battalion's 800 men were deployed to Ramadi, they have killed 400-500 people, according to one of their senior officers. A more precise estimate is impossible, because the marines rarely see their attackers. When fired upon, they retaliate by blitzing whichever buildings they think the fire is coming from: charred shells now line Ramadi's main streets....
In Fallujah, 40 miles (64km) east of Ramadi, the marines who survived the fierce assault on the town in November have a sardonic acronym for the skills it taught them: FISH, or Fighting In Someone's House. FISH involves throwing a hand grenade into each room before checking it for unfriendlies, or “Muj”, short for mujahideen, as the marines call them....
American marines and GIs frequently display contempt for Iraqis, civilian or official. Thus the 18-year-old Texan soldier in Mosul who, confronted by jeering schoolchildren, shot canisters of buckshot at them from his grenade-launcher. “It's not good, dude, it could be fatal, but you gotta do it,” he explained. Or the marines in Ramadi who, on a search for insurgents, kicked in the doors of houses at random, in order to scream, in English, at trembling middle-aged women within: “Where's your black mask?” and “Bitch, where's the guns?” In one of these houses was a small plastic Christmas tree, decorated with silver tinsel. “That tells us the people here are OK,” said Corporal Robert Joyce....
[I]n Ramadi, for example. Though the city has more than 4,000 police, they refuse to work alongside American forces. According to the marines, the police's sole act of co-operation is to collect wounded insurgents from their base. For most of the past four months, Anbar has had no provincial administration, since the governor resigned after his children were kidnapped.

New Aljazeera slander campaign: Tape found in Baghdad shows former Al-Jazeera manager thanking Saddam's son for support, newspaper says. The article fails to mention that Aljazeera frequently got in trouble with Saddam's regime for its criticism.

Postponing election still being discussed: Iraqi Minister Says Election Delay Might Be Needed.

Juan Cole on today's bombing of Allawi's office, on the elections, and on how to tell when it's time for US troops to leave: 2 Killed, 14 Wounded at Allawi Party HQ.

Gulf states fear Shiite victory in Iraq.

Shia clerics and parties extort protection money from Iraq's Christians: Bleeding the weak: Without political power or tribal muscle, Iraq's Christians have become ideal victims for gangsters and extremists. These are the people who will have power after the elections.

"People from the Hawza [the Shiite religious authority] come here every month; they take $100 from me every time. If I don't pay they say they will burn my shop because I am breaking the sharia Islamic law...."
"They are from the security service of the Dawa party [one of the strongest Shiite religious parties]," the young man explains. "They come here every few weeks and we pay them. They are nice to us, they don't threaten to use force, but we know if we don't pay this place will be bombed the next day...."
"With the disappearance of the state, the tribal and ethnic elements became the major forces, which leads to government in which every post is awarded on a sectarian basis," he says. "The Christian citizen knows that the only way to participate in the process of rebuilding the country is to be adopted by this political party or that...."
"There is no security here, a Muslim child can insult a Christian man and no one of us can say anything," Illyas says.

As enticement to vote, residents of Anbar and Mosul to be allowed to register and vote in the same day, and where they want: Rules relaxed to tempt Sunni vote in Iraq elections.

Conflicting stories. Which is true? Mother wants to truth about son's death in Iraq.

Likely electoral winners rule out Iranian-style theocracy, US withdrawal: Iraq's Shiites rule out Iran model.

"[W]e will need American forces to be in Iraq for the foreseeable future."

Beheading in US ally not protested. Only US opponents are "beast" when they behead: Pakistani, Iraqi beheaded for drug trafficking.

Can the Kurds work out an acceptable deal? Kurds seek to maintain a fragile autonomy.

Government installed by foreigners gives the nation's oil away to foreigners: Exploring new oil fields in Iraq: a risky business. Notice how the puppet regime rushes to give away the nation's assets, just in case the post-election government isn't as pliable.

More election trouble: Iraq poll tension rises as power-split falters.

Thousands of Fallujans Demonstrate against US occupation of their city.

Sadr aide shot in Baghdad, new offensive begins.

The cases keep coming. Now 25 prisons implicated. That's a lot of "bad apples": Iraq Torture Investigators Reveal Scores of New Cases.

The newer cases also appear to substantiate earlier evidence gathered implicating a widespread policy of insult and assault committed against Iraqis charged of no crimes, as well as the systematic targeting of prisoners with particularly strong religious convictions....
"The stature of these people -- lawyers, doctors, pharmacists -- all they're trying to do is help Iraq," said Akeel, who is particularly concerned with the number and nature of abuse claims brought by imams and tribal leaders. "When you're torturing imams, making naked women serve them food... what do you think they're going to tell their followers about Americans?" Akeel said....
One of the team’s most unexpected initial discoveries in reviewing the release papers was that former detainees were alleging illegal activities in as many as two dozen different US-run prisons in Iraq, challenging the US government’s official position that the scandal at Abu Ghraib prison was limited to a single facility. Akeel says they have now documented cases from "over 25 prisons...."
Akeel said only about ten women have come forward, though suspicion of sexual and other abuses committed against Iraqi women by American captors is widespread. "It's very, very difficult for them," said Akeel, explaining that while a man may be ostracized following sexual abuse, a woman could very well face death at the hands of her family or at the very least, be shunned and never allowed to marry. Akeel charges that interrogators "took advantage of the culture," knowing the women would be unlikely to talk. He described one case where captors reportedly raped a female detainee from behind in a cell directly across from a male prisoner. Investigators learned of the crime from the witness, who stated that the woman stared at him during the ordeal "with dead eyes," said Akeel, describing the man as "livid" and in tears as he gave his account of the incident....
[Torture for profit:] Currently before a San Diego judge, Akeel and fellow lawyers who represent a growing pool of Iraqi plaintiffs have motioned to bring a class action suit that could involve hundreds of disclosed cases of prison assault in Iraq. Coordinated by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the suit accuses the publicly traded corporations CACI International and Titan of using brutal techniques to bring forth an increasing number of confessions in order to demonstrate their effectiveness in the controversial new practice of using private interrogators and interpreters.

Preparations being made for potentially lifetime detentions without trial, of those for whom they lack evidence sufficient for a trial: Long-Term Plan Sought For Terror Suspects. What has our country become?

One proposal under review is the transfer of large numbers of Afghan, Saudi and Yemeni detainees from the military's Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center into new U.S.-built prisons in their home countries... As part of a solution, the Defense Department, which holds 500 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, plans to ask Congress for $25 million to build a 200-bed prison to hold detainees who are unlikely to ever go through a military tribunal for lack of evidence, according to defense officials...
The CIA had floated a proposal to build an isolated prison with the intent of keeping it secret, one intelligence official said. That was dismissed immediately as impractical...
"Renditions are the most effective way to hold people," said Rohan Gunaratna, author of "Inside al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror." "The threat of sending someone to one of these countries is very important. In Europe, the custodial interrogations have yielded almost nothing" because they do not use the threat of sending detainees to a country where they are likely to be tortured.

Quit or die is the choice they are given: Iraq's election officials resign fearing reprisals.

The Telegraph has learnt, for example, that on December 17 – the same day that Mr Dawood received the threatening letter through his door, six other election workers were killed in Baghdad's al-Yarmuk neighbourhood.

Released French hostages: 'If I had been British, I'd be dead': Two reporters freed by terrorists in Iraq were saved by their passports, reports Alex Duval Smith in Paris.

Sadly: Murdered aid worker Hassan awarded Irish peace prize.

More to come: Hostage to oil: World supply is so precious that more price spikes are inevitable.

New details of Guantanamo torture techniques put the lie to US cover-up: Fresh Details Emerge on Harsh Methods at Guantánamo. Again, the article makes clear that "Torture General Miller" was intimately involved with the abuse, as was the Secretary of Defense.

Escape into battle, video game style: In the middle of Iraq, it's gaming, gaming, gaming for the American military.

``I've heard some people say they like to play the video games with the aggressive military content. I've also heard people say they don't want to play those types of games, they don't need to be reminded of it. But as far as a pleasant event, it can take their mind of things, help them relax. We encourage it...''
On the base, Marines who have seen combat say they were aided by games they had played beforehand. Those games, they say, taught them how quickly something can go wrong...
``In a game, you can die and press start and go all over again.''

Saber-rattling: Iraqi prime minister warns neighbours against cross-border insurgency.

Al-Sadr says he will not participate in the elections: Split among Shiites on Elections.

"Refusing to participate in in the elections gets you branded an enemy of democracy, and if you participate in them you find that you have been caught in their game in such a way that you cannot escape." He said he would not participate "even if that would lead, as they allege, to the departure of the occupaying forces from Iraq, which is my demand and wherein lies my own security."

Long-distnace killing a source of pride. "One for the history books": Marine sniper credited with longest confirmed kill in Iraq. Does depravity know no bounds?

US releases 260 detainees in Iraq.

Rawya Rageh describes: The daily sounds of Baghdad.

8. Construction. "I actually don't mind it. It reflects our determination against terrorists — they bring down one house, we build another,'' said Mohammed Basil, a 34-year-old marketing executive. "But I mind it when it's something built by foreign troops — we don't want them to build stuff and stay...''
6. Loudspeaker warnings by coalition patrols: "I call it the sound of tyranny,'' said Mohammed Ahmed, a computer science engineer. "You'll be driving and they'll yell at you ‘Stop! Let the patrol pass first,' and one can't help wonder: how rude.''

Cliff Kindy of Christian Peacemaker Teams: Violence as a Cure for Fallujah?

Protest, Resistance, and Civil War

Occupation Resistance Analysis

Monday, a day not unlike others: Post-poll attacks kill three US marines.

Militant group 'shot down RAF plane'.

Air crash kills up to 15 British personnel.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence was unable to confirm the exact number of casualties but said at least 10 and as many as 15 service personnel were believed to have died.

UK military plane crashes in Iraq. No casualty reports yet.

Saturday, one day before: Insurgents Bomb Polling Places in Iraq.

Insurgents blasted polling places in at least eight cities.

Spiegel Online reports: International Undercover Commando Brigade to Secure the Iraqi Elections.

Two US soldiers killed in Baghdad helicopter crash.

Friday: Killings hit run-up to Iraq vote.

Five US soldiers died in three separate attacks, and at least 10 Iraqis were killed in Baghdad and Ramadi.

Announced Friday: Two Zarqawi Lieutenants Caught in Iraq -- Minister.

A key aide of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi: Iraqi aide murdered on video.

Thursday: Blasts hit multiple targets in Iraq.

In Sadr City: US soldiers raid Baghdad mosque. Is the US trying to provoke an election boycott by Sadr supporters?

He [Shaikh Abd al-Hadi al-Darraji, a top aide of the Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr] accused a US soldier of urinating on the Quran and another of consuming alcohol within the chambers of the mosque.

The most dangerous job: Truckers to get ground-combat training for Iraq convoy defense.

Thursday: Eleven Iraqis Killed in Pre-Election Attacks.

Wednesday, January 26: 36 U.S. Troops Die in Iraq in Their Bloodiest Day.

Attack on Kurdistan Democratic Party: Bomb kills 15 in northern Iraq.

Patrick J. McDonnell provides a rough outline of what is known of the the insurgents: Iraqi Insurgency Proves Tough to Crac.

Is al-Zarqawi over reaching? Islamic militant tries to expand rift between Shia and Sunni, but he may not find the same level of hatred in Iraq.

While many Iraqi Sunnis are worried about a Shia-dominated government, the Sunnis there do not have the same history of vitriolic hatred toward the Shia as do Sunnis in other countries. Members of the Wahhabi branch of Islam in Saudi Arabia and some militants in al-Zarqawi's homeland of Jordan regularly describe the Shia as heretics.

Saudi Suicide Bomber Claims Zarqawi was Captured, Then Released.

""SNBC is reporting that 30 Marines were killed in the chopper crash: Casualties reported in US helicopter crash in Iraq. Here is the ABC News account: At Least 31 Dead in Iraq Helicopter Crash.

They keep casualty rates down by calling this an accident: Five U.S. Troops Die in Accident in Iraq.

Wednesday: Rebels kill 11 in Iraq attacks.

Five days to election: Kirkuk under curfew as poll centres hit.

Sabotage of the oil industry 'on a daily basis'.

Go fight the Americans, and the Shia, keeps everyone happy: Saudi clerics point militants toward Iraq.

New American hostage: Video Appears to Show U.S. Man Seized in Iraq.

"I'm not asking for any help from President Bush because I know of his selfishness and unconcern to those who've been pushed into this hellhole," he says. "I am asking for help from Arab rulers, especially (Libyan) President Muammar Gaddafi, because he is known for helping those who are suffering. I am also asking Arab leaders to help me in this situation so that I can be released as quickly as possible from this definite death. I would remember this favor for the rest of my life, should my life remain."

Tom Lasseter and Jonathan S. Landay of Knight Ridder, using US government data, conclude: Iraqi insurgency growing larger, more effective.

The United States is steadily losing ground to the Iraqi insurgency, according to every key military yardstick. A Knight Ridder analysis of U.S. government statistics shows that through all the major turning points that raised hopes of peace in Iraq, including the arrest of Saddam Hussein and the handover of sovereignty at the end of June, the insurgency, led mainly by Sunni Muslims, has become deadlier and more effective....
Attacks on the U.S.-led coalition since November 2003, when statistics were first available, have risen from 735 a month to 2,400 in October. Air Force Brig. Gen. Erv Lessel, the multinational forces' deputy operations director, told Knight Ridder on Friday that attacks were currently running at 75 a day, about 2,300 a month, well below a spike in November during the assault on Fallujah, but nearly as high as October's total....
"All the trend lines we can identify are all in the wrong direction," said Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, a Washington policy research organization. "We are not winning, and the security trend lines could almost lead you to believe that we are losing."

Monday: Iraq government: Key bombing figure arrested: One man 'responsible for 75 percent' of Baghdad car bombings.

Killings in Mosul have taken a huge toll.

Weekend deaths: Iraq: Hospital fire kills at least 12; Seven, including US soldier, die in blasts, shooting. <

Switch to puppet troops. Will it work this time? U.S. Plans New Tack After Iraq Elections: Aim Is to Accelerate Deployment of Iraqi Forces on Front Lines Against the Insurgents

Iraq insurgents free Chinese hostages.

Friday: Video apparently shows public beheadings: Ambulance plows into Iraq wedding, explodes.

Ukranian: Military says explosion that killed eight soldiers in Iraq was a terrorist act.

Baghdad wakes up to a new day: 14 killed in car bomb explosion outside Baghdad mosque.

Bloody Wednesday: 26 killed in Baghdad suicide bombings.

Suicide bomber targets Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Republic in Iraq, killing three and wounding nine.

Tuesday: Gunmen Kill Three Iraqi Candidates.

More poor workers caught up in brutal war: 8 Chinese hostages in Iraq.

A video showing eight Chinese construction workers taken hostage in Iraq surfaced Tuesday. It shows the men holding opened passports as an Arabic speaker demanded that the Chinese government declare it would not allow its citizens to work for Americans in Iraq.

Kidnapped Iraq Bishop Freed, No Ransom -- Vatican.

Iraq violence spreads to 'safe' areas.

Monday: Many killed in Iraq attacks.

Insurgents seized the Archbishop of Mosul from outside his church yesterday: Archbishop is kidnapped by Iraq insurgents. And: Son of Sistani aide assassinated.

Months after total destruction and US "victory": The Fallouja Plight Persists.

A bleak future? Divided Iraq faces all-out civil war. Meanwhile, the "coalition" is increasingly viewing their fight as unwinable: Coalition admits on eve of election: ‘the battle for Iraq may never be won’.

Five Iraqi troops, policeman killed. And: Bodies of four Iraqis found on roadside.

Truth or propaganda? Who knows: Fallouja Insurgents Fought Under Influence of Drugs, Marines Say. Given the track record of the Americans lying about every detail of the fight in Iraq, one should be very cautious believing anything coming from them without independent confirmation.

Friday: 15 Iraq soldiers feared kidnapped.

Sunni rebels admit killing Shia aide. But: Sunni Muslim Scholars Association condemns Al-Madaeni''s assassination. Meanwhile: US troops detain Muslim cleric in Baghdad.

Friday: Several killed in Baghdad car bomb. And reported on Friday: 3 US soldiers killed in separate attacks in Iraq.

Juan Cole on what the Iraqi insurgents want: The Third Baath Coup?

They want to drive the Americans out of Iraq and make a third Baath coup, putting the Shiite genie back in its bottle and restoring Sunni Arab primacy....
And this is my problem with the idea of just having the US suddenly withdraw its military from Iraq. What is to stop the neo-Baath from just killing Grand Ayatollah Sistani, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, Ibrahim Jaafari, Iyad Allawi (who is rumored not to sleep in the same bed twice), etc., all the members of the provincial councils and the new parliament, and then making a military coup that brings the party and its Sunni patronage networks back to power?

Thursday: Iraq Poll Fears Deepen as 2 Sistani Aides Killed. And: Turk kidnapped, seven employees killed.

Robert Fisk: Deputy of Baghdad police assassinated in car with his son.

Iraqi insurgents fear bin Laden's moves.

Wednesday: Convoy ambushed in Mosul.

Tuesday:

Eighteen dead in latest Iraq attacks.

Former army members invited into the new army in Anbar: Governor Invites New Iraq Army Recruits.

Bomb Destroys U.S. Tank, Kills Two Soldiers in Iraq.

Monday: Baghdad Police Station Blast Kills Eight. And: Baghdad deputy police chief killed..

he manager of Allawi's Iraqi National Accord. Party Leader Killed in Iraq.

In "pacified" Samarra: Iraqi police chief assassinated.

Sunday: Seven Ukrainian soldiers in Iraq killed in explosion. According to other accounts, a Kazakh soldier also died.

The Defense Ministry says the troops were killed when one of the bombs being loaded onto an aircraft exploded.

The US does its daily dose of killing: 'US airstrike' near Mosul kills many.

Reuters pictures showed a house in the village of Aaytha, southeast of the northern city of Mosul, reduced to rubble. They also showed rows of freshly dug graves where locals said the dead had been buried.

Murder let off with wrist slap. After all, killing Iraqis is just Standard Operating Procedure: Soldier cleared of manslaughter in Iraqi's death: U.S. Army sergeant found guilty of assault in drowning case.

Defense attorney Capt. Josh Norris said in closing arguments that the soldiers were trying to find non-lethal ways to deter crime and establish respect in the hostile area.[Murder as a non-lethal technique? That's as good as Gonzales becoming AG.]

They can't be everywhere: U.S. troops set up base in Baghdad's dangerous Haifa street.

Bombers "collateral damage": Baghdad suicide bomber kills four.

Power cuts halt Iraq’s oil exports in the south. The north's exports have been shut for weeks.

Gunmen seize officials on notorious Iraq road.

The most bloody day since the last most bloody day: Roadside bomb kills seven U.S. soldiers in Baghdad Thursday. Another soldier was killed in Anbar province.

Death continues: 18 Iraqis Found Dead in Field Near Mosul. The report says they are Shia who worked for the Americans. And three Jordanian truck drivers: Iraq Execution.

Assassinations pick up: Iraqi communist gunned down. And: Iraqi Sunni party official killed.

US helicopters in Iraq bomb Arbil.

American Soldier Killed in North Iraq Attack.

Wednesday: Car bomb at police academy kills at least 20 in Iraq.

The number of Iraqi policemen killed in the last four months of 2004 was 1,300 before the latest blast, according to the Iraqi Interior

Tuesday: Military says five Americans killed in Iraq attacks. Truck driver killed in Iraq along with six Iraqi soldiers and national guardsmen.

Tuesday: Baghdad in chaos as mayor is shot dead. Gunmen attack fuel tanker in Mosul. But US Central Command touts the great victory that the sixth attack on the same police station this week was repelled: Attack On Police Station Results In Sixth Defeat For Insurgents

Monday: Baghdad car bomb kills three Britons.

If true, they sure must have a lot of support. That's 4% of the Sunni population, perhaps 20% of the Sunni adult male population: Iraq battling more than 200,000 insurgents: intelligence chief.

"I think the resistance is bigger than the US military in Iraq. I think the resistance is more than 200,000 people," Iraqi intelligence service director General Mohamed Abdullah Shahwani said in an interview....
Shahwani said the number includes at least 40,000 hardcore fighters but rises to more than 200,000 members counting part-time fighters and volunteers who provide rebels everything from intelligence and logistics to shelter.
Defense experts said it was impossible to divine the insurgency's total number, but called Shahwani's estimate a valid guess, with as much credence, if not more, than any US numbers. "I believe General Shahwani's estimation, given that he is referring predominantly to active sympathizers and supporters and to part-time as well as full-time active insurgents, may not be completely out of the ballpark," said defense analyst Bruce Hoffman who served as an advisor to the US occupation in Iraq and now works for US-based think-tank RAND Corporation. Compared to the coalition's figure, he said: "General Shahwani's -- however possibly high it may be, might well give a more accurate picture of the situation."
Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, put Shahwani's estimates on an equal footing with the American's. "The Iraqi figures do... recognize the reality that the insurgency in Iraq has broad support in Sunni areas while the US figures down play this to the point of denial...."
The spy chief also questioned the success of the November campaign to retake Fallujah, which US forces have hailed as a major victory against the resistance. "What we have now is an empty city almost destroyed... and most of the insurgents are free. They have gone either to Mosul or to Baghdad or other areas."
Shahwani pointed to a resurgent Baath party as the key to the insurgency's might. The Baath has split into three factions, with the deadliest being the branch still paying allegiance to jailed dictator Saddam Hussein, he said. Shahwani said the core Baath fighting strength was more than 20,000....
Another two factions, which have broken from Saddam, are also around, but have yet to mount any attacks. The Baath are complemented by Islamist factions ranging from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda affiliate to Ansar al-Sunna and Ansar al-Islam.

Monday, two: Car bombs rock Iraq.

Sunday: US, UK consulates in Basra shelled.

Analysis, Commentary, & Domestic Reaction

Occupation Resistance Analysis

Bill Moyers isn't so optimistic anymore. But he hopes: There is no tomorrow.

The news is not good these days. I can tell you, though, that as a journalist I know the news is never the end of the story. The news can be the truth that sets us free -- not only to feel but to fight for the future we want. And the will to fight is the antidote to despair, the cure for cynicism, and the answer to those faces looking back at me from those photographs on my desk. What we need is what the ancient Israelites called hochma -- the science of the heart ... the capacity to see, to feel and then to act as if the future depended on you.

Pepe Escobar: Why the US will not leave Iraq.

The Iraq vote: What the papers are saying in the Mideast.

Juan Cole: A Mixed Story.

Raed of Raed in the Middle thinks it's all a scam: Vote For Food.

An important reminder: The elections Bush didn't want.

Other election comment: Guardian: Bullets and ballots
Salim Lone former director of communications for Sergio Vieira de Mello, the murdered UN special representative in Iraq: An election to anoint an occupation: Had it been held in Zimbabwe, the west would have denounced it
Toby Dodge: America Has a Choice of Humiliations in Iraq
Press respond differently, depending on local biases: World's news channels play to prejudices
Jonathan Steele: Beyond the bullets, a new constitution is the crucial issue for this democracy: The issue for all moderates is whether religious or secular values will be enshrined.

Conservative, pro-war columnist Jeff Jacoby thinks there's something wrong with those who don't denounce US torture and its apologists: Saying nothing is torture in itself.

As regular readers know, I write as a war hawk. I strongly support the mission in Iraq. I voted for President Bush. I believe the struggle against Islamist totalitarianism is the most urgent conflict of our time.
But none of that justifies the administration's apparent willingness to countenance -- under at least some circumstances -- the indecent abuse of prisoners in military custody. Something is very wrong when the Justice Department advises the president's legal adviser that a wartime president is not bound by the international Convention Against Torture or the US laws incorporating it. Or when that legal adviser tells the Senate, as Alberto Gonzales did last week, that ''there is no legal prohibition under the Convention Against Torture on cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment with respect to aliens overseas."
If this were happening on a Democratic president's watch, the criticism from Republicans and conservatives would be deafening. Why the near-silence now? Who has better reason to be outraged by this scandal than those of us who support the war? More than anyone, it is the war hawks who should be infuriated by it. It shouldn't have taken me this long to say so. [No, it shouldn't. But, thanks for doing so now.]

Robin Cook: We must be out of Iraq within a year: There is cross-party support for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Some observers have argued against a deadline for withdrawal, but they underrate the pace at which the present situation is deteriorating. A target date is necessary to demonstrate to Iraqis that we do not intend to stay indefinitely. It would also concentrate the minds of both the assembly and ourselves on the political and security tasks required to meet that timetable.
The second priority is to avoid repeating the mistake of the past year in which we have allowed the interim government to become identified with the occupying authorities. We should welcome, not discourage, any measure of independence demonstrated by the new assembly, such as repealing the Bremer decrees on the foreign purchase of Iraqi assets.

Detroit Free press opines that elections are a lose – lose scenario: Iraq Election: Voters must take the risk to stamp out terrorism.

There is no indication that the mere act of holding an election will do anything to quell the violence that is plaguing the country. In fact, recent estimates by U.S. intelligence officials raise the prospect that things will worsen, perhaps even escalate into a civil war. So voting, particularly in the central part of the country, where the mayhem has been worst, will require an act of courage to produce an uncertain outcome.
Yet if this election, with all its flaws, does not happen, the terrorists win. If Iraqis ever hope to restore order to their land, they cannot allow that. If they ever hope for self-determination, they must take this risk in numbers significant enough for the world, especially the Arab world, to pay attention.

Antiwar New York Times reporter Chris Hedges: Journalists' objectivity needs balance of truth.

The moment the Serbs pulled out of Kosovo my job changed from reporting on Kosovar Albanians who were being murdered and abused by Serbs to writing the stories of the elderly Serb couples who were being terrorized by bands of Kosovar Albanian thugs. The Kosovar Albanian leadership soon felt betrayed and became hostile. The Serbs, who had excoriated me in Belgrade, started to translate my stories in the local press. These moments are never easy and often very lonely, even among colleagues. But real reporters never have many powerful friends. They never forget that their job is to give a voice to those who would not have a voice without them. And they know enough about human nature to be wary of all who hold power....
Balance and objectivity have become code words to propagate the insidious and cynical moral disengagement that is destroying American journalism. This moral disengagement gives equal time, and sometimes more than equal time, to those who spread falsehoods and distort information. It tacitly sanctions the dissemination of lies. It absolves us from making moral choice. It obscures and often shuts out the truth.

I guess to him it was no big deal. After all, the 12 million killed weren't Republicans, or even Americans: Cheney Criticized for Attire at Auschwitz Ceremony.

Vice President Dick Cheney raised eyebrows on Friday for wearing an olive-drab parka, hiking boots and knit ski cap to represent the United States at a solemn ceremony remembering the liberation of

Stephen Zunes: How Much Power Will the New Iraqi Government Really Have?

Anas Shallal of Iraqi Americans for Peaceful Alternatives: Low-expectation election.

In the two weeks since that bizarre meeting, I have yet to come up with any useful information about the elections, despite my research. I still don't know if the Free Democratic Country Party or the Democratic Coalition of Two Rivers Party are truly democratic. I guess I will just have to go with my gut on Election Day.

South Africa’s Star: Iraq needs a real miracle.

Our transition to democracy was hailed as a miracle. With hindsight we have come to realise that it was rather the result of an unusual coincidence of courageous and disciplined leadership able to seize a unique opportunity presented by history. But if Iraq survives this week's baptism of fire and emerges as a peaceful democracy, it will be a miracle indeed.

Arabist sees failures and hope in Iraq: Path to democracy must arise from the people, scholar says.

Bart Whiteman opines that Bush should use his own money for his cotton-picking war: 80 Billion Mistakes.

At some point in the future Congress will stiffen and say to President Bush: “Enough. Pay for your war yourself, Junior. Just as you want to privatize Social Security, we are going to let you privatize your cotton-picking war. It makes sense. After all, Social Security still has some money in its bank account. Your war has none. Not a single penny. We are not going to borrow any more money from China and Saudi Arabia and my kid’s piggy bank to pay for it....”
This way, he could help promote his idea of an “Ownership Society,” as well. Certain people would actually own the war. This is better than owning your own jet. The perks of such ownership would be many.

Gary Younge: A fantasy of freedom.

You would think that if the Americans are truly interested in expanding freedom and ending tyranny in Cuba, let alone the rest of the world, Guantíçnamo Bay would be as good a place to start as any.

The crooks fall out: Scowcroft and Baker Up the Ante: The Widening Chasm Among Conservatives.

n the one hand, we have perhaps the most widely respected (conservative) policy experts alive today, advising the administration to withdraw from Iraq. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft and James Baker have joined the ranks of anti-war Leftists in calling for an immediate withdrawal of all American troops.... Clearly these staunch supporters of American supremacy would never accept such a humbling defeat if there was even the remotest possibility of success. This gives us some idea of the extent to which the media has been concealing the crucial details of the disaster in Iraq from the public. Even those who are most likely to benefit the most from regional domination are jumping-off the sinking ship-of-state.

Anything but that! Soldier Headed for Iraq Makes Bomb Threat.

Finally! Some good news: Rumsfeld aide Feith is leaving.

A speech by: Seymour Hersh: "We've Been Taken Over by a Cult".

Analysis: How Bush got Iraq war cost wrong.

In the US House: Woolsey, 24 Dems, ask Bush to withdraw GIs.

Sen. Kennedy says leave: Kennedy Calls for Troop Withdrawal in Iraq.

"The U.S. military presence has become part of the problem, not part of the solution."

Scott Ritter: Criminals the lot of us.

But, through the invasion of Iraq, a crime of gigantic proportions has been perpetrated. If history has taught us anything, it is that it will condemn both the individuals and respective societies who not only perpetrated the crime, but also remained blind and mute while it was being committed.

Jeremy Brecher says: Resist U.S. War Crimes. See also Brecher's: An “affirmative measure” to help prevent the commission of war crimes by the Bush administration.

Most Americans hold these truths to be self-evident: Torture is wrong; attacking another country that hasn't attacked you is wrong; occupying another country with your army and imposing your will on its people is wrong. These policies are not only immoral. They are illegal....
It's time for all Americans to face our responsibility to halt Bush administration war crimes. It's time to give our support to those who are refusing to participate in those crimes. It's time for a new "Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority." I for one will say right now that I support those who refuse illegal orders to participate in this illegal war. I know there are many who will join me. To Alberto Gonzales, I would like to say that I encourage all Americans, military and civilian, to disobey orders based on your memos justifying torture. I say it's their legal right, indeed their legal and moral duty, to disobey such illegal orders.

$87 billion allocated: Bush Crony Full-Employment Act of 2003.

Stephen Pelletiere blames war on military-industrial complex: Ex-CIA analyst criticizes Iraq war

[T]hat the country is waging a war there owes much to the "security apparatus" created to fight the Cold War. Once it ended, he said, the apparatus needed a new enemy to justify its existence. "They wanted to keep the cash flowing to the military-industrial complex," he said.

Is the right beginning to worry? Arnaud de Borchgrave: Revolutionary idea . . . on bridge too far?

One former ranking national security specialist, a Republican, confided at one of the Inaugural bashes, albeit off the record, "I am beginning to smell disaster in Iraq." Another Vietnam? we asked. "Worse than the Vietnam debacle," he replied, "because the stakes are so much greater...."
Mr. Bush indirectly referenced Iran, Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar (where the U.S. Central Command has its advance headquarters), Pakistan, China, and most of sub-Sahara Africa as countries that must opt for free elections and democratic institutions or our own freedoms will be imperiled. One can argue, equally convincingly, that if these countries followed Mr. Bush's prescription, our freedoms would indeed be imperiled.

Helen Thomas on the latest Bush Crusade: Peaceful means best way to spread freedo. And Molly Ivins on spreading democracy: Why should Iraq be happy about us?

Evan Osnos, Chicago Tribune foreign correspondent, recounts how Iraq spiraled out of control: Witnessing turmoil: After two years of assignments in Kuwait and Iraq, a reporter tries to reconcile moments of elation, loss.

ne morning, our devoted cook, Sultana, arrived late for work and in despair. Her nephew had been killed the night before. He had secretly found work, like so many others, on an American base, weighing the security of a paycheck against the danger of being killed for it. The gunmen finally found him on his drive home. They pulled up to his sedan on the highway and shot everyone in the car....
The United States had deposed a savage dictator and unleashed an anger far more powerful than one man could muster. The bitterness that had emerged as seething glances from the roadside had metastasized into a vast culture of rebellion.

Michael Lind describes: How the U.S. Became the World's Dispensable Nation as other nation develop alliances excluding the US.

Ironically, the US, having won the cold war, is adopting the strategy that led the Soviet Union to lose it: hoping that raw military power will be sufficient to intimidate other great powers alienated by its belligerence. To compound the irony, these other great powers are drafting the blueprints for new international institutions and alliances. That is what the US did during and after the second world war.

David Underhill proposes an experimental definition of "torture": "Is this torture yet?" the agents ask.

To achieve this beneficial result the committee should conduct an inquiry akin to the medieval testing of witches to discover by rigorous methods who really were ones and who were not. Subpoena as witnesses several of the chief architects of the war on terror and its descent into torture. Subject them to a crescendo of the techniques that have been used on prisoners. And invite these human lab rats to announce when the sensations they are experiencing have ceased being abuse or mistreatment and have become torture.

Another voice for withdrawal: Congresswoman urges a U.S. pullout from Iraq.

Deficits as far as the eye can see: Bush wants $80 billion more for Iraq, Afghan wars; $855 billion deficit predicted.

Brian Cloughley on the Fallujah fiasco: Iraq as Disneyland.

Gwynne Dyer on spreading democracy: Democracy - It's not God's gift.

This notion that the US should "seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world," as Bush put it in his inaugural speech, is profoundly misleading because it suggests that American support for such transformations is essential.
It isn't even relevant, in most cases. People have to do it for themselves, and the most helpful thing that Washington could do would be to stop supporting the oppressors.

Frank Rich: On Television, Torture Takes a Holiday.

ON the day that the defense rested in the military trial of Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr. for the abuses at Abu Ghraib, American television news had a much better story to tell: "The Trouble With Harry," as Brian Williams called it on NBC. The British prince had attended a fancy dress costume party in Wiltshire (theme: "native and colonial") wearing a uniform from Rommel's Afrika Korps complete with swastika armband. Even by the standards of this particular royal family, here was idiocy above and beyond the call of duty....
But a not-so-funny thing happened to the Graner case on its way to trial. Since the early bombshells from Abu Ghraib last year, the torture story has all but vanished from television, even as there have been continued revelations in the major newspapers and magazines like The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books and Vanity Fair. If a story isn't on TV in America, it doesn't exist in our culture....
A more sub rosa deterrent to TV coverage of torture is the chilling effect of this administration's campaign against "indecency" through its proxy, Michael Powell, at the Federal Communications Commission. If stations are fearful of airing "Saving Private Ryan" on Veterans Day, they are unlikely to go into much depth about war stories involving forced group masturbation, electric shock, rape committed with a phosphorescent stick, the burning of cigarettes in prisoners' ears, involuntary enemas and beatings that end in death. (At least 30 prisoner deaths have been under criminal investigation.) When one detainee witness at the Graner trial testified in a taped deposition that he had been forced to eat out of a toilet, that abuse was routinely cited in newspaper accounts but left unreported on network TV newscasts. It might, after all, upset viewers nearly as much as Bono's expletive at the 2003 Golden Globes....
History tells us that in these cases a reckoning always arrives, and Mr. Danner imagines that "in five years, or maybe sooner, there will be a TV news special called 'Torture: How Did It Happen?' " Even though much of the script can be written now, we will all be sure to express great shock

Only 18% of Americans believe Bush has "a clear plan for dealing with the situation in Iraq". Yet 51% believe the US should stay "as long as it takes to make sure Iraq is a stable democracy": No Clear Plan On Iraq, Say Americans.

The road to a draft goes through an unwilling Army.

you're the U.S. Army, how do you say, "Hell No, We Won't Go?" By proclaiming, loud, clear and often, your opposition to the draft. Put bluntly: The U.S. Army has no desire to be large enough to implement the Bush/neocon agenda of "cauldronizing the Middle East" or anywhere else, and it will oppose by every means at its disposal, any attempt to so enlarge it....
Indeed, a draft could generate so many soldiers that the Bush administration and its neocon ideologues might feel able to invade, conquer and occupy Iran and Syria, presumably to turn them, too, into democratic countries. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has so staunchly opposed a draft that neocon field marshal Bill Kristol has called, once again, for his resignation in the Weekly Standard....
The Army knows victory in Iraq will leave America bankrupted and defenseless, and it dreads for the nation to pay such a price. Or as the Greek king Pyrrhus said, contemplating the losses his people had suffered to defeat the Roman Army a second time, "One more such victory, and we are undone." This is the essence of tragedy.

Fantasy hits reality: United States relearning painful lessons in Iraq.

Despite its experience with insurgencies, the U.S. military has tended to minimize their importance in its collective institutional memory. Now a new generation of warriors must learn the lessons of insurgency warfare -- on the fly in Iraq. Perhaps the most daunting characteristic about insurgencies is their staying power. It typically takes a decade or longer to defeat one.

Jerry M. Landay believes Americans will continue to die in Iraq for oil, not democracy: For the U.S. in Iraq, no exit is the strategy.

he neocon think-tank, the Project for the New American Century, chaired by Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, explicitly stated the rationale for war in its paper "Rebuilding America's Defenses," published in September 2000, two months before the presidential election: Saddam Hussein might have been the pretext, but neither he nor the planting of "democracy" in the Middle East was the primary reason. "The United States," the pertinent section reads, "has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in [Persian] Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."
More than four years later, reporters and commentators continue to ennoble the Iraq quagmire with bloviatory alibis for the American presence. The drumbeat quickens as we near election day in Iraq. You can hear their hymns to American exceptionalism over the din of exploding suicide bombers, assassins' gunshots, and the screams of their human targets.
Here's what none of them will tell you: that American soldiers continue to die because of Iraq oil -- the neocon code words being "energy security" -- not only to insure a reliable source of petroleum for this country, but to assert global dominance by controlling which other nations will get a share.

Martin Walker views United States as a weakening giant: Iraq's votes define U.S. future.

From the first Gulf War, when the world first saw the video footage of American smart weapons hitting bridges and air vents on targeted buildings as their invulnerable Stealth aircraft flew nonchalantly overhead, the United States has been the unquestioned military hegemon. That perception of almost effortless American primacy continued through the second Gulf war, when one U.S. mechanized infantry division, with some airborne, Marine and British help, easily destroyed what had been the most powerful military in the Arab world.
And now it has gone. The smart weapons and the Stealth bombers are not much use in an urban guerrilla war. The United States can kill an army, but it cannot defeat an insurgency. When Sen. Edward Kennedy last week called Iraq "Bush's Vietnam," he was putting into words the suspicions of other politicians around the world; this American superpower looks as if it has feet of clay.

Anthony Lake proposes an exit strategy: Achievable goals in exiting Iraq.

Our only hope is to establish a strategic goal that we have some small chance of achieving. One may be on the horizon: the election, scheduled for the end of this year, of an Iraqi constitutional government. When it is in place, we should withdraw our combat forces, leaving behind only such training and advisory personnel as are required. Any other goal is unachievable and could embroil our combat forces in an endless civil war.

Stephen Zunes presents more on the gutless party: Concern Grows over Democratic House Leader Pelosi’s Support for Iraq War.

During the first twelve weeks of 2003, there were a series of large demonstrations here in her California district against the war, including one on February 16 which brought out an estimated half a million people. The day the war broke out in March, San Francisco’s downtown business district was shut down by thousands of anti-war protesters in a spontaneous act of massive civil disobedience. In response, Pelosi denounced the protesters and rushed to the defense of President George W. Bush, voting in favor of a resolution declaring the House of Representatives’ “unequivocal support and appreciation to the president …for his firm leadership and decisive action.” She personally pressed a number of skeptical Democratic lawmakers to support the resolution as well.

In the future, the U.S. may expect to grovel a bit more: World view - Lindsey Hilsum glimpses the Next World Order.

The US "will see its relative power erode", says the report. "Rising Asia will continue to reshape globalisation, giving it less of a 'Made in the USA' character and more of an Asian look and feel." China already produces three times as many engineering graduates as the US and its economy is rapidly catching up.

Mike Carlton of the Sydney Morning Herald on Bush's inaugural address: The emperor of vulgarity.

George Bush's second inaugural extravaganza was every bit as repugnant as I had expected, a vulgar orgy of triumphalism probably unmatched since Napoleon crowned himself emperor of the French in Notre Dame in 1804.

And the Arab world responds: Arab world unimpressed by Bush defence of freedom.

An Arab professor of political science even drew parallels between the words of Bush and Osama bin Laden, saying the president had made the word freedom "banal" in the same way as the Al-Qaeda leader had the word "jihad (holy war)". "The two men have both invoked their favourite concepts without ever putting them into practice," Assad Abu Khalil, who works in the United States, told media.

Tony Red says, demand punishment for the liars: Liberally Biased : The jig is up: Who duped us?.

Obviously, we do have good reason to suspect that the Administration was dishonest with us about the reasons for the war. The blood is still flowing. Iraq was never a threat to us. We were hoodwinked. And whether or not this was a result of manipulation or incompetence, there must be repercussions. People are dying for a lie. Clinton was impeached for far less. Call your congressman and demand accountability.

Paul Craig Roberts asks is George Bush delusional? ying for Sycophants.

Can you believe this administration's insanity? Bush intends to rise from the ashes of defeat in Iraq by invading Iran, a country three times the size in population and geography? Does it remind you of Adolf Hitler, who, unable to invade tiny England, marched his army off into Russia?...
The plan to invade Iran is bizarre from start to finish. The Pentagon denies the plan, or most of it. Whom do you believe, an administration recognized all over the world as a collection of pathological liars, or Seymour Hersh, a reliable investigative reporter? Hersh writes that Bush administration insiders told him of the plan in hopes that getting the word out would put a halt to the insanity.

John Powers reminds us that Bush is just a symptom. He says the left must view the bigger picture: A Vision of Our Own: Four ideas for the left to redefine itself.

A National Call for Nonviolent Resistance to the Continuing War in Iraq.

Times of great injustice call for acts of conscience and courage. In the loving spirit and discipline of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day and others, we call on people to engage in acts and campaigns of noncooperation and active nonviolent resistance to the U.S. government, the military, the corporate merchants of war, and all institutions that feed the continuing conflict in Iraq.

The Madison Capital Times says: Timeline Needed To End War.

Richard Falk discusses the 'Age of Terror': Human Rights: A Descending Spiral.

[The prisioner abuse] disclosures contradict in fundamental ways the American claim that it is liberating Iraq and Iraqis, as well as it is the custodian of values diametrically opposed to those of the previous regime of Saddam Hussein. There is even a certain moral erosion of the effort to hold Saddam Hussein responsible for his massive perpetuation of Crimes Against Humanity while exempting George W. Bush and his entourage from scrutiny for their violations of international humanitarian law and, more generally, the laws of war....
I believe that with some minor exceptions the cause of human rights has been set back by the American response to September 11. This setback was not a necessary effect of the attacks. It was a choice shaped as much by geopolitical ambitions as by the challenge of mega-terrorism. As long as these geopolitical ambitions are combined with a war model of response, the prospects for human rights are poor.

Justin Raimondo on becoming a terrorist to defeat terrorism: Exporting Democracy – or Terrorism? Seymour Hersh exposes the scheme to make America a terrorist state

Juan Cole on the Rice hearings: Rice Doublespeak at Senate.

Norman Solomon: A Shaky Media Taboo - Withdrawal from Iraq.

Politically, as a practical matter, Bush can maintain plenty of leverage to keep escalating the war in Iraq. We should remember that the Vietnam War went on for years longer while public-opinion data showed that most Americans thought it was wrong. Now -- at the outset of Bush's second term -- strong advocacy for immediate withdrawal should become part of the national debate.

Balaji Reddy, presenting an Indian view of the regional politics, suggests that Russia and its allies will not put up with American aggression in Iran and Syria: America rethinks Iran and Syria adventure as Putin makes Russia and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) alliance ready for military confrontation.

Lance Corporal George Solomou, a 38 year-old British Territorial Army soldier, announced his resignation in protest of the "bankrupt, unjust and immoral war" in Iraq: TA Soldier Says 'I Quit over Immoral Iraq War' .

“The systematic torture by American soldiers is evil,” he said. “Not since (the German prisoner of war camps) Dakow and Auschwitz has systematic torture been used – this is immoral....”
“I call upon other soldiers to refuse to take part in this war. I call upon other soldiers to conscientiously object to this war. “And I call on anybody else supporting this war to think again.”

Off-shoring of armouring of US government official vehicles: Mexican firm to provide armor cars for US in Iraq, Afghanistan.

The Spoils! Ag Officials from U.S. & Iraq Hoping to Make Wheat Deals.

The Spoils! It's a hard life for oil executives: Iraq polls offer scant hope to oil firms.

Top oil companies realise that Iraqis will not elect a government giving them the right to drill in their country's oilfields overnight. But they are prepared to wait to tap the world's third biggest crude reserves after Saudi Arabia and Iran until a new investment code with a legal and regulatory framework is in place. Until Baghdad puts these multibillion-dollar oil deals on the table, international oil companies are boosting relations with the oil ministry through technical assistance and training packages and reservoir studies.

Global polls bad news for Bush: Poll shows world anti-Bush.

On average across all countries, 58 percent of the 22,000 surveyed said they believed Bush's re-election made the world more dangerous. [What's wrong with the other 42%?]

In discussing a new Los Angeles Times Poll on the war. John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University: "Support for this war is now lower than support for the Vietnam War was at the Tet offensive." Support for War in Iraq Hits New Low.

Egbert Bhatty of the Washington Dispatch opines on elections and General Luck's mission to Iraq: Why Is Bush Rushing The Elections In Iraq?

How did Bush come to embrace this crazy notion that elections equal democracy? The same way that he came to believe that bombs bring democracy. Whether in Iraq or in Afghanistan.

Max Hastings on "winning" the Iraqi war: Julia Roberts has a better chance of winning this war: Iraq will surrender its soul to America only when the US army has left.

Last autumn in Iraq, a senior British officer told me how impressed he was by the Americans' commitment. 'Before I came here,' he said, 'I doubted whether the US army possessed the moral toughness to see this thing through. I no longer feel that uncertainty. I have not met one American at any level who questions the need to be here, and to finish the job....'
That assertion is no longer true. In the minds of many US soldiers looms the spectre of Vietnam. In recent years, the US army has been forged into a motivated, effective tool for large-scale military operations overseas. But it has never been suited to combating insurgency. Guerrillas and suicide bombers can impose a deadly corrosion on conventional forces.

Newsday on Bush's mandate: Bush is wrong to think his election was a ratification of his policy.

Of even greater concern is that it takes a phenomenal suspension of a sense of reality not to see that the administration utterly botched the planning for the post-war period and has put the entire Iraqi adventure at risk. To say that no one has to be held accountable because the American people made a close and difficult call that Bush would be a better president than Sen. John Kerry is simply absurd....
If Bush really believes what he said, then we are in for a very difficult next four years. Already there are rumblings about some kind of military adventure against Iran. If Bush hasn't learned that the world is a much more complex place than he believed it was before he ordered the troops into Iraq, then God help us all.

Former CPA advisor Noah Feldman discusses nation building, Iraqi elections and the post-election period: What We Owe Iraq: An Interview with Noah Feldman.

Alexander Cockburn, discussing the likelihood of a U.S. pull out, cites American war historian Gabriel Kolko: "The system, in a word, is irrational. We saw it in Vietnam and we are seeing it today in Iraq": We Aren't Dealing With Rationality: Will Bush Quit Iraq?

One of the monsters gets a mild grilling: Transcript: Boxer, Rice Exchange Pointed Words. See: Senator Boxer Proves Conde Rice a Liar.

British Labour wracked by internal dissension over Iraq: Activists 'Disillusioned and Desperate' with Labour.

Labour party activists are feeling “disillusioned and desperate” in the run up to the general election, with fewer getting involved in meetings and campaigns, a senior union leader warned today.

Ivan Eland, author of the books The Empire Has No Clothes, and Putting "Defense" Back into U.S. Defense Policy, discusses the Bush administration's absurd foreign policy: U.S. Foreign Policy: Question All Assumptions.

Michael Young of the Daily Star: At best, Bush has been given a reprieve in Iraq.

That the Bush campaign was able to conflate fighting terrorism with the conflict in Iraq undoubtedly helped secure the president a second term. However, it's probably more accurate to say that voters only granted Bush a reprieve to see if he could turn Iraq around.

Helen Thomas on the WMD fiasco: Report Shows Bush Wrong About Iraqi WMDs: President Owes Nation Explanation.

Joseph R. Haiek of Arab-American Affairs has an idea: In Election Aftermath, We Need to Preserve American Ideals and Glory.

It is cheaper to buy the oil of the Middle East than fight for it. With $200 billion we can buy a lot of oil through peaceful trade negotiations, explorations and investments. Our occupation of Iraq is too costly. Many American military generals, senators, congressmen and leading personalities have expressed their opposition to the war in Iraq. It will be extremely beneficial if President Bush and his advisers, with the start of their new term in January 2005, seek wider input about the outcome of the war in Iraq during next year. We can no longer act alone and force our democracy on others or call those who oppose our occupation of Iraq unpatriotic and other derogatory terms in order to silence them.

Jefferson Price III of the Baltimore Sun: Bush's inauguration nothing to celebrate.

In the face of this damning evidence against his decision to go to war, Mr. Bush doesn't flinch. He says that knowing what he does today, he still would have gone to war. To war, that is, in a place where so many Americans and Iraqis have been killed and where so many more will be killed while that country descends into chaos.

Have the elections, then get the hell out, says Simon Jenkins: The pious hope plan has been tested to destruction. Anarchy reigns in Iraq

Niagara Falls Reporter: America's Adventure.

This "pre-emptive" war will be over one day. And other than the damage and human suffering it caused, the irreparable harm done to our country's reputation around the world and the likelihood of war crimes charges for decades to come, it will have accomplished nothing.

John Farmer discusses Iraq in the context of Bush's inaugural speech: Bush must provide a rationale for the war.

We're stuck with this tar baby Bush has thrust upon us. But so is he. He's compelled to defend it, as he did in a Washington Post interview yesterday. But with a post-election majority no longer supporting the war or his management of it, Bush has to do more than defend it. In his second inaugural message Thursday, he must find a rationale for the continued expenditure of blood and treasure that American families can accept.

Kamran Karadaghi reminds us that ethnic-religious-sectarian divisions in Iraq are not so clearly cut-and-dried as some presume: Despite a likely Sunni boycott, Iraq's divisions are overstated.

They want more, but for what? Officers say more troops needed in Iraq.

More international perspective on the WMD fiasco: Search for WMD over!
The Phantom Weapons...
WMD, pot and other lies
The WMD fraud, Time for an accounting.

And more US reactions: Bush and Iraq Time for a reality check
WMD claim shows politics not always a game of consequences
Calling It Quits: Iraq's WMDs
WMD search ends in whimper
Bush on WMD: Tragedy or farce?
Coming Up Empty
Trying to make some sense of it all
Someone explain where sanity went
The Missing Weapons
.

Meanwhile, WMDs moved out of Iraq? Not likely: U.S. intelligence found no evidence WMD moved from Iraq.

Patrick Martin opines Bush will not back down from Iraqi war, but will further escalate in attempt to achieve win: Growing anxiety in US ruling circles over Iraq debacle.

Andrew Sullivan reviews two books of Abu Ghraib documents: Atrocities in Plain Sight.

What's notable about the incidents of torture and abuse is first, their common features, and second, their geographical reach. No one has any reason to believe any longer that these incidents were restricted to one prison near Baghdad. They were everywhere: from Guantánamo Bay to Afghanistan, Baghdad, Basra, Ramadi and Tikrit and, for all we know, in any number of hidden jails affecting ''ghost detainees'' kept from the purview of the Red Cross. They were committed by the Marines, the Army, the Military Police, Navy Seals, reservists, Special Forces and on and on. The use of hooding was ubiquitous; the same goes for forced nudity, sexual humiliation and brutal beatings; there are examples of rape and electric shocks. Many of the abuses seem specifically tailored to humiliate Arabs and Muslims, where horror at being exposed in public is a deep cultural artifact.
Whether random bad apples had picked up these techniques from hearsay or whether these practices represented methods authorized by commanders grappling with ambiguous directions from Washington is hard to pin down from the official reports. But it is surely significant that very few abuses occurred in what the Red Cross calls ''regular internment facilities.'' Almost all took place within prisons designed to collect intelligence, including, of course, Saddam Hussein's previous torture palace at Abu Ghraib and even the former Baathist secret police office in Basra. (Who authorized the use of these particular places for a war of liberation is another mystery.) This tells us two things: that the vast majority of soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere had nothing to do with these incidents; and that the violence had a purpose. The report of the International Committee of the Red Cross says: ''Several military intelligence officers confirmed to the I.C.R.C. that it was part of the military intelligence process to hold a person deprived of his liberty naked in a completely dark and empty cell for a prolonged period to use inhumane and degrading treatment, including physical and psychological coercion....''
But in a democracy, the responsibility is also wider. Did those of us who fought so passionately for a ruthless war against terrorists give an unwitting green light to these abuses? Were we naïve in believing that characterizing complex conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq as a single simple war against ''evil'' might not filter down and lead to decisions that could dehumanize the enemy and lead to abuse? Did our conviction of our own rightness in this struggle make it hard for us to acknowledge when that good cause had become endangered? I fear the answer to each of these questions is yes.

Paul J. Nyden reviews “The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed,” by Ivan Eland: Looking at policy from left, right: # New book examines U.S. actions in the world and at home

“Other books on empire have been mostly from the left. I wanted this book to speak to all communities,” Eland said during a recent telephone interview. “There are a lot of conservatives who do not like the war. A lot of conservatives don’t equate war with big government. Conservatives believe in restrained government at home. But whenever there is activism overseas, some conservatives hop right on it. They think we can restructure societies overseas,” Eland said....
The original statesmen of the great republic would be appalled to learn that America is now a militaristic global empire on the ostensible missions of converting the world to democracy and free markets, while at the same time destroying its own republic.”

Bush won because Democrats voted for him, feeling he has to be held responsible for the debacle that he created in Iraq: Hold Bush accountable for Iraq.

A small sample of world opinion on the absence of the WMD used to justify an invasion of a country that in truth posed no threat: Empty hands in Iraq
Bushwhacked by the WMD lie
Calls for PM to justify going to war
The empire strikes nothing
The mystery merely deepens
Correcting the record on Iraq is an issue of security: "A leadership that never admits mistakes, never apologises, never explains ... cannot expect the public to trust it to avoid making such mistakes again."
Giving up search for WMD in Iraq: A conclusive indictment

And US commentary: The Ghost of Machiavelli, The WMD Hunt Ends
A lie that took us to war
Iraq/No WMD, no reason for war
Iraq's WMD: Case closed
The WMD debacle
End to search for WMD seals doubts about pre-emption
Ritter right About Iraq
A flat out whopper

Did Bush invade Iraq to render the United Nations and the International Criminal Court powerless? David Swanson on Eric Zuesse's new book, Iraq War, the Truth:" Bush, God, Fox, and the International Criminal Court.

Steven Siak provides scathing commentary on the methods and motives of the Bush administration: The US will be judged by Clio, the muse of history.

Bush family fixer James Baker joins chorus for phased withdrawal: Baker Urges Bush on Phased Exit in Iraq.

British parliamentarian John Maples: Why I was wrong about Iraq. Chaos will flourish in the Middle East if President Bush’s policy continues unchanged.

Thom Hartmann writes of 30 years of concerted efforts to make Americans afraid, very afraid: Hyping Terror For Fun, Profit - And Power.

Little support found for democracy building, unilateralism and long-term occupations: "Strong majorities of American voters believe that a number of current policies leave the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorist attacks," says post-election Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) survey: Chastened by Iraq Experience, American Voters Now Support a 'New Realism' in Foreign Policy, Security.

64 percent support a greater emphasis on diplomacy and multi-national military action than is currently the case in the U.S.
81 percent agree that it matters whether people around the world respect our country and that we need the rest of the world on our side to effectively fight terrorism.

Peter Maguire, author of "Law and War: An American Story," puts burden on Bush administration for prisoner abuse, calls for independent investigation: Soldier serves as scapegoat in Iraq prison scandal while higher-ups duck responsibility.

Postpone Iraq’s Elections says Anas Shallal.

Steven Leser contrasts WMD spin from Bush's 2003 State of the Union Speech with statements by UN weapons inspectors El-Baradei and Blix. Was the administration lying or just totally deluded? Iraq War: The Last Facade Regarding WMD justification about to Fall.

Gerald Plessner defends the Bush administration's right to grab Iraqi oil. But at least do it right, he concludes: U.S. benevolent imperialism far better than despotism Iraq. At least he is honest as to the reason; why can't the Bush administration be likewise honest?

Our politicians can talk about the pre-emption of nuclear weapons or the protection of the state of Israel or the persecution of the Iraqi people and the possibility of their future freedom. But none of these are honest reasons for a rational nation to send its citizens to die in a foreign land. Nor do they justify expending billions of dollars the nation does not have. All national leaders, including the Israelis, must understand this.
The only true reason for our war on Iraq is the presumed need by our country for a safe and reliable source of fuel for our economy, our military and our industry. As part of the ideology of the current administration, it makes sense to secure control of that region at this time.

A reminder of death squads past, as the US ponders creating them anew: Death Squads: Neither Quaint nor Obsolete .

The great transformation: Bush Administration Comments on WMDs.

Cold welcome home for some viets: A homeless Iraq vet asks for respect.

A Turkish view of the American adventure in Iraq: US Needs a New Approach in Iraq.

An analysis of the depleting coalition of the willing: The European Retreat from America’s Quagmire in Iraq.

What media reports don’t say is that the smaller, token forces tend to be kept relatively out of danger, and in some cases have actually had to be protected by US soldiers, who were aware that even small casualties might result in that nation pulling the plug on their mission. In other words, coalition contributions from the smaller countries were always essentially meant to win the propaganda war, not the military one, to promulgate the myth that there was a wide international consensus behind the US-led invasion.

Dumb and dumber; we have fallen into the same trap of hubris and arrogance. Bernard Weiner on educates those who didn't live through the earlier conflict on parallels between Iraq and Vietnam: qWagmire 101: Understanding the Iraq & Vietnam Debacles.

It took many years, and millions of dead, before the American people finally realized the immensity of the US error in Vietnam -- the dogmatic fantasies and wishful thinking that were getting their husbands and sons and innocent Vietnamese slaughtered -- and forced the government to get out of that hellhole.

Hani Lazim, a member of Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation: After the elections the US will still rule.

[I]n large areas of Baghdad and other cities, people will not be able to vote even if they want to because they have been sent registration papers with the wrong names. This has happened in traditionally left-wing districts. If the names on voting documents don’t tally with people’s ID, they will not be able to vote. In other areas extra people are being registered to vote. Already, people are selling ballot papers, sometimes to get bread on the table. The price of a vote is between $100-$200. In Damascus in Syria, there are Iraqi passports for sale so people can buy them and vote.

Only 29% of Britons feel the war was right. Finally, a majority of the ruling Labor party feel the war was wrong. as usual, men are more pro-war: Poll shows support for Iraq war at record low.

The antiwar movement should not demonstrate at military bases, argues Intervention Magazine's Stewart Nusbaumer: Where Antiwar Protesters Should Not Protest.

Neocon Kagan stabs Rumsfeld in back; war lovefest turns nasty: Fighting The Wrong War. Meanwhile, Jacob Laksin attacks the left, implying if you speak out against the war, you are part of the problem: The Terrorists' Leftist PR Machine. I guess the right disdains responsibility. That's only for liberal wimps.

Bill Gallagher: Democrats sugar-coating Gonzales.

Democratic senators who vote to confirm Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States are irredeemable whores who believe in nothing and will vote that way for reasons of political correctness -- to avoid the stigma of opposing the first Hispanic to be nominated for that office.
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer's lapdog praise of Gonzales was typical of those who simply shrug their shoulders and are willing to capitulate to President Bush's desire to have his longtime legal valet and fixer become the nation's top lawyer. Schumer, weighing his own political benefits in view of New York's large Hispanic population, praised Gonzales without reservation.

Joseph Ellis on potential advise from George Washington to GWB: What might the first G.W. whisper to the current G.W.?

Ex-marine protests war; receives fine: Wausau police cite war protester for carrying anti-Bush sign.

A man protesting the war in Iraq with a sign that called it "Bushit" received a ticket citing him for using obscene language in public.

ElBaradei to stay at IAEA: ElBaradei 1, Bolton 0.

Make the best of the bad options left, while you can: How the US Can Salvage Iraq.

Bob Herbert: The scent of failure.

Patrick Seale: Iraq: first reconciliation, then elections.

Newsday: A nagging question of torture.

The benefits of democracy pass Northern Ireland by. Why should we expect Iraq to be graced by them? A short hop from Belfast to Baghdad: Democracy is no more a panacea in Iraq than in Northern Ireland.

Maureen Dowd: In Iraq, Bush struggles to redefine 'victory'.

Dick Meyer: Advise And Rubber Stamp.

If the Democrats in Congress are willing to stand for anything, it seems to me, they ought to be standing against the Gonzales nomination. “Fight” was the favorite verb of the past two democratic presidential candidates: fight for the little guy, the patient, the pensioner and fight against the rich, mighty and powerful. Here’s a fight worth having and the Democrats are settling for aggressively-intoned hearing questions and hand-wring aye votes.

Democratic Senator Ken Salazar supports the torture Lawyer. Are there no depths to which "Democrats" won't sink? Sen. Salazar baffles on Gonzales.

James Dobbins is Director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at Rand. He was a U.S. Special Envoy in Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, Somalia, and Afghanistan: Iraq: Winning the Unwinnable War. from Foreign Affairs.

Summary: By losing the trust of the Iraqi people, the Bush administration has already lost the war. Moderate Iraqis can still win it, but only if they wean themselves from Washington and get support from elsewhere. To help them, the United States should reduce and ultimately eliminate its military presence, train Iraqis to beat the insurgency on their own, and rally Iran and European allies to the cause.

The defections start. A Republican ally of Bush: U.S. Rep. Coble says Iraq pullout should be considered.

The 10-term congressman said in an interview with the News & Record of Greensboro that he's "fed up with picking up the newspaper and reading that we've lost another five or 10 of our young men and women in Iraq." Support among Coble's 6th District constituents has also waned, his office said.

More from Michael Scheuer, "Anonymous": US in Iraq: Are we Winning the War on Terror?

MA: You are clearly against the war in Iraq, but don't you think it has had some benefits, not least because the U.S. has now very forcefully inserted itself physically in the heart of that region and consequently has much greater leverage to control events on the ground?
MS: What leverage? As far as I can see it has only created more targets for the Islamists.
MA: Having read much of your material I note that you often display a very interesting historical perspective on events. Do you think 100 years from now people would look back at events and conclude that bin Laden and the Jihadists caused the irreversible decline of America as the world's pre-eminent power?
MS: More than that, because I think they have already had a very adverse impact on our way of life. The liberties of Americans have been eroded as a result of all this and the American lifestyle has begun to change for the worse. In the very long term the security costs will become increasingly confining.

Jeffrey Laurenti, a Century Foundation scholar, opines that "elections do not end an insurgency. Negotiations end an insurgency. When combatants agree to a peace settlement, elections can be successful in establishing a durable post-war regime. When there is no settlement, elections or not, the war goes on”: Iraq Elections No Silver Bullet.

John H. Summers illustrates the workings of our academic ideological system: Chomsky and Academic History: 30 Books, Not One Review.

Noam Chomsky has written more than 30 books over the last three decades. Yet neither the Journal of American History, nor the American Historical Review, nor Reviews in American History has reviewed them. If the journals had overlooked one or two of Chomsky's books, then the omissions might not rise to the status of a problem, and could be attributed to a combination of reasons each of them incidental to Chomsky himself. If the journals had in fact devoted attention to him, but the preponderance of the attention had been hostile, then they might stand accused of harboring a bias. This is the most respectable way to disagree about such matters. But the journals have not done enough to deserve the accusation. They have not reviewed a single one of his books. Chomsky is one of most widely read political intellectuals in the world. Academic history pretends he does not exist....
Reviews in American History, having passed up all opportunities to review Chomsky's books, described Kissinger's Diplomacy (1994) as "a masterful, brilliant, and provocative account of world politics and American foreign policy from Cardinal Richelieu to the end of the Cold War." The review did not take up the question of Kissinger's war crimes....
More to the point, they have not been shy in throwing open their pages to Marxism. To speak "objectively," Eric Hobsbawm remains a member of one of the most murderous political parties of the twentieth century, and his books are vigorously discussed. Why Schlesinger and Hobsbawm, but not Chomsky?

Have bet on the war, with Iraq as the stake, and lost Thomas L. Friedman another brilliant idea. Bet on civil war! Iraq needs a civil war after vote. Unfortunately, it looks life he'll get his bet. Mainly Iraqis will suffer for his fantasy.

The civil war we ant [who is this "we"?] w is a democratically elected Iraqi government against the Baathist and Islamist militants. It needs to be clear that these so-called insurgents are fighting not to liberate Iraq from America but rather to reassert the tyranny of a Sunni-Baathist minority there.

Pal of Bush, Sr.; Scowcroft Skeptical on Iraq Vote: The election threatens to heighten the risk of civil war, the former national security advisor says.

Maureen Dowd: Don't Torture Yourself (That's His Job).

Before he helped President Bush circumvent the accords and reserve the right to do so "in this or future conflicts," you had to tune in to an old movie with Nazi generals or Vietcong guards if you wanted to see someone sneeringly shrug off the international treaty protecting prisoners from abuse. ("You worthless running dog Chuck Norris! What do we care about your silly Geneva Conventions?")

Greg Mitchell : Why Our Embeds Don't Tell All . Related: Five Embeds Booted Out of Iraq in Recent Months.

"If anyone gets too close to us we fucking waste them," said the Marine lieutenant. "It's kind of a shame, because it means we've killed a lot of innocent people." This came from a British reporter, traveling with American forces. Few of our embeds have passed along a quote like that, and I wonder why.

Chris Hedges presents Fritz Stern's warning of the looming threat: Warning From a Student of Democracy's Collapse.

Lebanon’s Daily Star decries “honesty gap” in U.S. and Iraqi dealings: Washington and Baghdad must bridge the no man's land of dishonesty.

Iraq veteran and journalist David DeBatto says Gonzales has already done his damage: From Alberto to the Insurgency: An Iraq War veteran explains why Alberto Gonzales has already done enough damage

As a veteran of the Iraq War, I believe it is inconceivable that a nation rooted in democratic ideals would consider placing Gonzales as the head of the agency responsible for enforcing human and civil rights. He has made it clear that he has no desire to enforce such rights or be a beacon of hope to the oppressed -- or even to citizens of his own country.

Brian Foley reminds us that it is not simply Gonzales' support for torture that is despicable about him: A Contempt for Civil Rights: Supporting Torture is not Gonzales' Greatest Sin.

What happened to Hamdi is outrageous. But the greater outrage is that the Administration ever argued for such power in the first place. The safeguards that the president tried to strip from us are part of the fundamental "due process" of law that our Constitution requires before the government can take our life, liberty or property. Due process is not a privilege to be given or removed at the government's behest, but a right that belongs to the citizenry, part of the bargain for delegating our powers to our government.

The latest interview with former CIA official "Anonymous": BuzzFlash interview: Michael Scheuer.

Democracy means the right to pick your rulers, Azzam Tamimi argues: The right to rule ourselves: For nearly a century, democracy has been denied to the Arabs by the west. There is little sign of that changing.

William R. Polk explores the options left for a loosing occupation: A Time for Leaving: American security and Iraqi stability depend on a prompt handover

Today, there are no good options—only better or worse alternatives....
Wars of national “self-determination” can last for generations or even centuries. Britain tried to beat down (or even exterminate) the Irish for nearly 900 years, from shortly after the 11th-century Norman invasion until 1921; the French fought the Algerians from 1831 until 1962; Imperial and Communist Russia fought the Chechens since about 1731. Putin’s Russia is still at it. There was no light at the end of those tunnels.

Rightwing Frontpage interviews New York Times bestselling author Edwin Black on Iraq; sparks fly: Stuck in a Quagmire?

Tim Cavanaugh says liberal hawks need to take responsibility for backing the war: Iraq's Summer Soldiers: Liberal hawks as ideological deserters.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune: Alberto Gonzales Has Blood on His Hands.

'These are the people we never see on TV': A new film reveals how the war hit a corner of Iraq the world had overlooked: Kurdistan.

"I wanted to be the first to screen a film in Baghdad after the removal of the great dictator," he said last week in Arbil, the main Iraqi Kurdish city. "Being caught watching such a movie under the former regime would have almost certainly meant death. I was so delighted that Saddam had gone...."
This was the beginning of Turtles Can Fly, the first feature film to emerge from post-Saddam Iraq. It is a powerful cry on behalf of children everywhere caught up in despotism and war. Filmed on location last winter, using minimal equipment in the mountainous terrain of Iraqi Kurdistan, Turtles paints a radically different picture of life in Iraq from the one most western audiences have seen on their news channels. Gobadi is a deeply political film-maker, but his nuanced approach skillfully avoids the naive blustering of many on the anti-war left. "It is an anti-war movie without slogans." He chose the title in part, he says, because "people might think it was some kind of Disney film".

More veterans opposed to Gonzales nomination: Military Veterans Announce Opposition to Gonzales Nomination for U.S. Attorney General.

Citing their concerns about Alberto Gonzales's legal memorandums supporting torture and limiting U.S. adherence to the Geneva Convention, nearly 3,600 military veterans and military family members today declared their opposition to the nomination of Alberto R. Gonzales as U.S. Attorney General. The veterans, a number of whom served in Iraq, said America should not be putting its own soldiers at risk - a direct consequence of his position....
Signers of the letter, who include 300 commissioned officers, argued that the Gonzales nomination places U.S. troops at risk in Iraq and other conflicts and is contrary to long-standing American and military values.

Patrick Buchanan renews his attacks on Bush foreign policy: Bush's Checks Returning NSF.

Tom Engelhardt sums up the recent history of torture republic: American Gothic: Self-Portrait with Shackles for the Year 2005.

Ira Chernus reports that the US is essentially planning to dump the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, taking the stance that nuclear bombs are for "US", not "THEM", that might makes right: US Plans Tidal Wave of Nuclear Proliferation. This, of course, will significantly hasten the end of the human race.

The message coming from the Bush administration and the U.S. media is clear. It’s not about the danger of weapons of mass destruction. It’s about using the fear of that danger, along with our own growing nuclear arsenal, as a club to rule the schoolyard roost.

U.S. Army Sergeant [Kevin Benderman] May Refuse Re-Deployment To Iraq.

“I have both a professional and a moral obligation to call into question why we are still in Iraq after accomplishing the mission – in President Bush’s words – of deposing Saddam, and why U.S. military personnel are increasingly killing non-combatants. On my last deployment in Iraq elements of my unit were instructed by a Captain to fire on children throwing rocks at us.” This is not what he signed up for, Benderman said....
“We have no other choice,” Benderman’s wife said. “This is what we have to do, I have always told my children that the right thing is the most important thing, and doing it is the only thing that allows you to keep your integrity, regardless of the consequences.” Their actions are only reflecting their core beliefs she said.

Action Alert! A call is circulating on the web to make January 20th a national Not One Dollar Day! but nothing, spend nothing that day. We certainly could use a national protest: Dollars against Bush.

Not one damn dime should go into the U.S. economy that day to protest the illegal and immoral war in Iraq, these activists say. Don't even purchase food or gasoline. We're being asked to put our money where our politics are.

An interview with US Gen. Joseph Hoar, one of the senior officers protesting the Gonzales' nomination: Iraq, Afghanistan, and The Gonzales' Nomination.

Juan Cole discusses why he thinks partition is an awful idea: Downsides of Partitioning Iraq.

The Christina Science Monitor: Interrogating Torture Rules.

Does Gonzales take any responsibility for the many reports of abuse and torture of detainees because of the administration's vague and ambivalent attitude on torture and the Geneva Conventions?

George Monbiot: The victims of the tsunami pay the price of war on Iraq: US and British aid is dwarfed by the billions both spend on slaughter.

While they spend the money we gave them to relieve suffering on slaughtering the poor, the world must rely for disaster relief on the homeless man emptying his pockets. If our leaders were as generous in helping people as they are in killing them, no one would ever go hungry

David M. Edelstein and Ronald R. Krebs say: It's Time to Get Out of Iraq.

The damage to U.S. credibility abroad has already been done. The American promise of delivering liberal democracy to Iraq expired long ago. The administration's continued assertions that Iraq is a marvelous, if somewhat troubled, success undermines American credibility far more than would withdrawal. In comparison, a firm commitment to a timely withdrawal would admit failure but at the same time begin to restore others' faith in America's foreign policy leadership.

Make: The fight for Iraqi rights an essential component of the antiwar movement.

Stewart Nusbaumer reveals the flaw in the recent Military Times Poll claiming strong support for the Iraq war in the military: Fudging Military Support for Iraq War. Thanks, Stewart. I missed this one.

Near the end of the USA Today article, however, is this: “The findings are part of the annual Military Times Poll, which this year included 1,423 active-duty subscribers to Air Force Times, Army Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times. All of the respondents in this poll are “subscribers” to one of the four military publications, which are essentially trade publications for the military. Subscribers to these military publications are not representative of the entire military community since they represent a disproportionate number of officers and senior enlisted personnel.

When USA Today founder Al Neuharth called for supporting the troops by brining them home, he was met with cries for his imprisonment and/or death. Such is America today: Bring them Home -- Sooner rather than later. See also comments by Robert Parry: A 'Long War' Against Whom?

The US is loosing, but is unlikely to accept this reality and withdraw, say the editors of Monthly Review: The Failure of Empire.

The United States is facing the prospect of a major defeat in Iraq that is likely to constitute a serious setback in the ongoing campaign to expand the American empire. Behind the pervasive war propaganda as evidenced in the “victorious” attack on Fallujah lies the reality of a U.S. war machine that is fighting a futile battle against growing guerrilla forces, with little chance for a stable political solution to the conflict that could possibly meet U.S. imperial objectives. Nevertheless, the U.S. ruling class, though not unaware of the dangers, is currently convinced that it has no choice but to “stay the course”—a slogan adopted by both political parties and accepted by virtually the entire economic, political, military, and communications establishment. The reason for this seemingly irrational determination to stick it out at all costs can only be understood through an analysis of the logic and limits of capitalist empire.

Peter Schrag: Goodbye to 2004, another year of living stupidly.

Mortimer B. Zuckerman: What they should have said.

The press on the country's reaction to the choice between Bush and Kerry: "It was the evil of two lessers."
Democratic leaders on Republican fiscal and budgetary estimates: "They keep three sets of figures--one to mislead the public, another to mislead the Democrats, and a third to mislead themselves."

Back in the Baltimore suburbs, James T. Phillips experiences the genocidal impulse: Return to a Baltimore Suburb: The Beast's Belly. It could be anywhere in the US today.

"Muslims want to destroy America," said Matt. "They are nothing but evil. We need to get rid of them. We have to kill them all"

All tragedy and mutilation all the time, as long as it supports US policy, and the bottom line: The Duplicity of the Media: Iraq vs. Tsunami.

Wasn't Ted Koppel commenting just days ago, that the media was restricting its coverage of Iraq to show sensitivity for the squeamishness of its audience? He reiterated the mantra that filming dead Iraqis was "in bad taste" and that his American audience would be repelled by such images? How many times have we heard the same rubbish from Brokaw, Jennings and the rest of their ilk?
Well, it looks like Koppel and the others have quickly switched directions. The tsunami has turned into a 24 hour-a-day media frenzy of carnage and ruin; exploring every facet of human misery in agonizing detail.

A newspaper article on the Christian Peacemaker Teams: Christians serve as soldiers of peace.

Sean Donahue argues that we need "to return to the erotic passion for life that inspires our resistance, to claim our own power fully and use it to awaken other people to the knowledge of their own power to be free": Beyond the Myth of Ritual Sacrifice: The Erotics of Nonviolence.

Must Read! Robert Lindsay, an independent left journalist, believes the Iraqi resistance is an unmitigated disaster, supporting the most reactionary, parts of Iraqi society and systematically alienating the majority of the population. The Catastrophe of the Iraqi Resistance. While I think Lindsay is basically on target, I think his name-calling ["one of the most unprincipled, unethical, fanatical, unreasonable, and reactionary resistance factions on Earth"] doesn't help the development of dialog. Also, by its nature a guerilla struggle against an existing puppet government with significant participation of major organizations [SCRI, Dawa Party, Iraq Islamic Party, Communists, Iraqi National Congress, etc.], is, for good or ill, going to be different than that of a unified national resistance with essentially no overt cooperation with the occupiers, as in Palestine. Unfortunately, as the article hints at, the struggle against occupation is taking place in the context of a complex struggle for power, not only between Sunni and Shia, but between secularists and Islamists, and between the Baath party remnants and others. Further, the struggle in Iraq has become a proxy war fought between the US and its Islamist enemies, for whom a united Iraq accepting of diversity is anathema. It is hard to imagine how a united national resistance could develop that would effectively deal with this multitude of competing factions. The complexity of these power struggles is one reason why many have argued that a unitary Iraqi is an unlikely outcome. Unfortunately the comments posted to the article have the name-calling character of all-to-much of blogdom. Nonetheless, this piece deserves to be widely discussed.

When a guerrilla faction is reduced to ruling and surviving through terror and not through the deep, passionate support of the people, that resistance faction is utterly failing in one of the primary rules of guerrilla war, cited from Mao to Che to the finest war colleges on Earth, that the guerrillas need to gain support from civilian populations through good deeds and by the passionate commitment to the guerrilla cause of the people the guerrillas live amongst. The people’s support for the guerrilla works best when freely given and not coerced - terrorizing the people you claim to represent only gets one so far...
A number of prominent American thinkers have also recently published on the benefits of breaking up Iraq into unstable, weak, easily controlled ethnic statelets. So, in their bottomless tribal stupidity, the Iraqi resistance is playing into the precisely laid plans and wildest dreams of their worst enemies - the Israelis and the Americans!..
If the Sunnis had any sense, they would be negotiating deals with the Shia at this very moment. Instead, like a typical ruling class thrown out of power, they are not giving up the tiniest bit of their illegitimate power and privileges without a vicous fight. These deals would take the form of some sort of apology rituals by the Sunnis, such as statements of apology by the Sunni clergy for the crimes the Sunnis have committed against the Shia over the centuries, or perhaps pilgrimages to Shia mosques where prominent Sunnis essentially repent to the Shia for their crimes and ask for their forgiveness. The fact that these rituals would be largely symbolic is not the point. In this sort of socio-political ritual, the symbolism itself can have potent sociological and politcal ramifications. The Sunnis could also cut deals for some sort of affirmative action or power sharing in government, a la Lebanon.

An article on the move Inside Iraq: The Untold Stories [which I have not yet seen]: Embedded images from Iraq: Mike Shiley shoots footage that digs deeper than media coverage.

An optimistic note for the New Year: Dead Soldier's Dad Finds No Enemy in Iraq.

"You know," Suarez del Solar says thoughtfully, enunciating every word, "there are people who say I give aid and comfort to the enemy. I never spoke with Bush, he never sent me anything, but the people of Iraq I met, THEY comforted ME for my loss! I have yet to see the enemy."

'Civilization' vs. 'Barbarism': An Interview with Noam Chomsky. And: On the Election: Noam Chomsky interviewed by Bill Maher.

And in fact, it's not exactly correct that the media haven't reported the war crimes. They often report them and celebrate them. So take for example the invasion of Fallujah, which is one of the ­ it's a major war crime, it's very similar to the Russian destruction of Grozny 10 years earlier, a city of approximately the same size, bombed to rubble, people driven out.

An interview with John Perkins, a former respected member of the international banking community: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: How the U.S. Uses Globalization to Cheat Poor Countries Out of Trillions.

E. J. Dionne says Democrats must be as tough as Bush if they want to beat the bastard: Lessons for Democrats.

Memo to Democrats: Forget the editorial writers and ask yourselves: What Would Bush Do? If you are not as tough as he is, he will crush you -- again. Memo to liberal commentators: Why bend over backward to demand of your own side what you don't demand of the right, or of Bush?

Mathew Rothdschild says its: Time to leave Iraq.

Second, we are told that if we leave, there may be a civil war in Iraq. But there is essentially a civil war going on right now. And the CIA predicts that by staying in Iraq, the United States may precipitate an all-out civil war. So why should we stay to prevent a civil war that we are creating?
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