February, 2004

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

The Occupation

Cost of the War in Iraq
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Occupation Resistance Analysis

Negotiations over an interim constitution are not going so well. None of the key issues have been resolved: Kurdish demands trigger fears of civil war in Iraq

For many Iraqis, the constitutional wrangling has served to highlight the lack of democracy in the Americans' planned hand-over of sovereignty. Iraq's new constitution is being drawn up by an unelected council that was hand-picked by the Americans and has very little support among ordinary Iraqis. So loathed are some of the council members that many say they could not walk down a street in Baghdad without being killed.

As the US constantly reminds everyone, life in Iraq is returning to normal: Kidnappers target youth of Baghdad: Gangs shift from carjacking to abducting the children of wealthy families, with ransom demands of $50,000.

Americans come and life becomes hell: Sleepy Iraqi Town Becomes a War Zone.

Another story of daily life in Baghdad: Ground Truth: Just another street killing.

As she was waxing nostalgically about the good old days under Saddam Hussein, a refrain I am by now accustomed to hear, even from many Shi'ites, and I was trying not to roll my eyes, two sharp gun shots cut her words short and returned her to reality. Though by now, like for all Iraqis, the sound of gun shots rarely distracts me, this time it was too close, and too incongruent with the bustling nightlife. I saw two men walking hurriedly across the street in between the traffic, arms raised and pistols in the air. "They killed a man!" someone shouted. I got up and saw a man in a suit collapsed on the curb, blood spreading from beneath his head....
Someone tried calling the police, but the call did not go through. Two men ran a few hundred meters away to the nearest police checkpoint, but were told by the policemen there that it was somebody else's jurisdiction....
On the way he told us that this was the sixth officer from his station who had been assassinated, and another one had died in an explosion. A different officer commented that the killers were "very organized and systematic. They want to prevent stability...."
"Every day we lose another one of out brothers," one policeman said, "Every day I leave my house and kiss my wife and children goodbye not knowing if I will return." Another officer complained that "his family will get nothing. Even in the worst of times under Saddam, the family of a dead police officer received a salary, or a car or a house even. Now they get nothing. If the situation for the police does not improve we all soon all quit."

Yet another "deadline" missed: Iraq Misses Deadline for Constitution.

Iraq's U.S.-picked leaders failed to meet a Saturday deadline for adopting an interim constitution but were expected to find compromise soon on contentious issues including the role of Islamic law and the status of women.

Political attacks against those not going along with the new orthodoxy rising in Basra: Vigilantism Hits Iraq's 2nd-Largest City.

Most worrisome have been the kidnappings and sometime murder of women whose actions have been deemed un-Islamic. A few weeks ago, local newspapers reported the shooting death of a young woman who worked in a video store — which extremists brand as pornographic....
Mayada al-Azawi, 19, refuses to wear a headscarf. Her family has hired a driver to take her to and from university every day. But the fact that most girls have begun covering their heads to avoid kidnappings makes her defiance even more difficult, she said. "Girls are afraid to walk in the streets because of the kidnappings. Men harass us and strangers come up and demand that we wear the hijab," said al-Azawi, wearing a black leather jacket over a long tight skirt.

Ibrahim Kazerooni -- who fled Iraq in 1974 after being repeatedly imprisoned and tortured by the Baathist regime for his beliefs -- argues war is not good for the soul: Losing our humanity.

My biggest fear about our conquest of Iraq is that it is desensitizing us to death, destruction and deception. Rarely a day passes without American forces being killed in Iraq. Yet, as the steady stream of tragic news seeps out of that country, we appear to be growing less concerned - not more - in the face of a rising death toll for Americans, Iraqis and others....
Where are the "support our troops" rallies sponsored by Clear Channel Communications now?
Equally disturbing is our increased tolerance for blatant lies. We all expect politicians to tell us lies that will later be exposed. However, I am appalled at our unflinching acceptance of outright fabrications that completely contradict well-established realities. On multiple occasions, for example, President Bush stated quite emphatically that we had to invade because Saddam Hussein refused to allow U.N. weapons inspectors back into Iraq.... Is there any concern at all that President Bush repeatedly lied about that which we all saw with our own eyes?
Countless conflicts around the world in recent times have shown us that once they become desensitized to war, violence and lies, entire societies can behave in patently irrational and destructive ways.

Unionists check out Iraq situation: International Trade Union Mission Returns from Iraq.

The Pentagon Propaganda Network [PPN]: Pentagon to offer direct news from Iraq, Afghanistan.

Iraqi Jewish exiles kept from returning: Iraqi Council Weighs Return of Jews, Rejecting It So Far.

Women's rights and the role of Islam split the Iraqi Governing Council: Iraqis divided over charter: Shi'ites walk out amid a dispute.

Claims British troops murdered an Iraqi boy: Iraqi youth drowned 'when British soldiers forced him to swim across canal' after arrest

British soldiers have been accused of forcing a 16-year-old Iraqi boy to his death in a canal in Basra. A witness claims he and Ahmad Jabbar Kareem were among four youths captured by British troops in the city last May, driven to the canal and ordered across. Three survived, but Ahmad, who could not swim, drowned.

The Pentagons favorites to take over Iraq are facing multiple investigations: Iraqi National Congress faces growing number of investigations.

Ethnic tensions in north at boiling point. Will a new round of ethnic cleansing commence? Arabs Split on Staying in Northern Iraq.

Remember Vietnamization? Iraqi Forces to Take on Security Role and U.S. forces to pull out from Baghdad.

Iraqi groups jockey for power, upsetting US plans: So what's the latest, latest blueprint?

By default, Mr Bremer may have few options but to extend the life of the only national Iraqi show in town, the Governing Council. Many of its members have hoped for as much, even though the agreement they signed in November stipulated that “the transitional assembly will not be an expansion of the Governing Council”. Since many of the council's members are likely to do badly in a direct election, they welcome a chance to use their patronage. They propose that each of the 25 members appoint ten members, so creating a 250-strong assembly, with each member representing around 100,000 Iraqis. The assembly could then vote for a leadership, though even that is open to dispute.
The Kurds want a three-man presidency comprised of a Kurd, a Shia Arab and a Sunni Arab; the Shias want a five-man presidency comprising three Shias, a Sunni Kurd and a Sunni Arab, to underscore their demographic ascendancy; and the Sunni Arabs have put forward a compromise four-man presidency consisting of two Shias, a Sunni Kurd and a Sunni Arab. Taking a leaf out of multi-sectarian Lebanon's parliamentary book, some suggest a Sunni president, a Shia prime minister and a Kurdish speaker.

The Spoils! British firms try the back door to get in on the spoils: Britain Now Enters a Coalition in Contracts.

Seventeen new contracts are being proposed for reconstruction in buildings, security and other areas. British companies are now making bids with U.S. partners for several of these. The British are picking their partners with care; Fluor is reported to have close links with the Republican Party.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistan agrees to vote delay, but wants guarantees elections won't be delayed further: Reports: Iraqi cleric agrees to vote delay.

"What is needed is clear guarantees, including a Security Council resolution reassuring the Iraqi people that elections will no longer be hindered once again for pretexts similar to those already used," Sistani was quoted as saying.

Evidently, there has been a side war going on, against female US troops: Female GIs report rapes, assaults by fellow troops: Pentagon accused of foot-dragging.

There have been 112 reports of sexual misconduct over roughly the past 18 months in the Central Command area of operations, which includes Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, military officials said. The Army has reported 86 incidents, the Navy 12, the Air Force 8 and the Marine Corps 6.

One down, hundreds to go! Richard Perle, one of the laziest crooks in the Administration, quit the Defense Policy board! Rumsfeld advisor who vocally endorsed Saddam's ouster resigns

The Spoils! Britain wants its share of the spoils, but White House says no: White House rebuffs UK contracts bid.

Top-level lobbying by British ministers on a trip to Washington on behalf of UK companies trying to win work in Iraq has been rebuffed by White House officials.

This report alleges that a secret deal has already sold 75% of Iraq's publicly-owned air transport industry to a single family, despite claims to the contrary: Controlling Iraq's Skies: The Secret Sell-Off of Iraq's Air Industry

After Americans kill and maim, they humiliate as they award "sympathy pay": What Iraqis receive for their losses.

Helicopter crash apparently kills two: US helicopter crashes in Iraq.

More details on the recent women's rights conference of Iraqis: Women Trying to Improve Their Lot in Iraq.

For the poor, life not better under occupation: In Baghdad Shi'ite slum, anger at occupation mounts.

"What have the Americans done for me? People now say the Americans are people who give false promises," said plumber Saleh Shweiki, 28, in the bustling slum district where almost half of the capital's five million population live....
"When the American commander comes, he talks. We can talk until the morning. But when we ask him for asphalt for the street, he cannot provide it," said Karim al-Taeei, head of finance in the district. "He only asks for our help in allowing access to military convoys."

Iraqi Artists complain of lack of freedom for their work: Iraq Today: Iraqi artists face curbs on freedom.

Two contrasting perspectives Insurgent and soldier: two views on Iraq fight.

Sunni leaders demand release of detained women: Iraq Sunni clerics urge release of detained women.

Canon Andrew White, special envoy to the Middle East of Britain's Archbishop of Canterbury, said the treatment of women was a key issue in winning the trust of Sunni Muslims. He said around 150 Iraqi women were in U.S. custody. "What we are hearing is that this is actually one of the key crucial issues that will determine how this particular significant minority will relate to both the Governing Council, the provisional authority and to any transitional government," he said. "It is already contributing to the resistance and the insurgents because people feel that one of their most fundamental human rights -- the respect of the women of their community -- has been seriously affected."

Iraqi politicians press for election preparations to start, with a firm timetable: Iraq Leaders Seek to Start Election Plans.

UN says elections might be possible in 8 months, not the 12-15 months Bremer cited yesterday: Iraqi elections possible by year's end, U.N. says.

Carina Perelli, a U.N. election administrator, told reporters in New York she believed that, if work began immediately, it would take at least eight months to prepare direct elections - and only then if all the conditions for security were met and a legal framework put in place. The U.N. team found Iraq lacking basic electoral law, reliable voter rolls and, under the current security climate, assurances that people could travel freely and safely to the polls.

Maybe American workers should learn something. US troops, concerned about insurgency, are creating a massive Iraqi jobs program. What happens to the employed if the insurgency falters? New U.S. Weapon: Jobs for Iraqi Men: Factory's Reopening Typifies Effort to Use Work to Defuse Insurgenc.

It could be a US nightmare: Iraqis Say Deal on U.S. Troops Must Be Put Off.

A new organization of Iraqi women formed: Hundreds of Iraqi women gather to demand political power.

The demand came from Iraqi women in stylish pantsuits and from those in traditional embroidered gowns. Veiled and unveiled, they gathered by the hundreds Saturday seeking a significant share of their country's political power. More than 600 women filed into a heavily guarded country club here on Saturday for the debut meeting of the National Council for Woman, an umbrella group for women's rights advocates from the country's disparate ethnic groups and religious sects.

The Spoils! British firms hope to get their payback: UK firms 'well-placed' to win Iraq contracts.

British companies are involved in bids for 15 of the 17 major Iraqi reconstruction contracts being examined by the US administration in the country... The Iraqi contracts total some $14 billion and cover areas such as electricity, water, transport, and telecommunications

Another well-written account of US isolation in the Green Zone: The hermetically sealed conquerors: Hunkered down in their weird security zone, the Americans who run Iraq have almost no contact with the country or its people.

The secular parties try and organize to stop the Islamists. trouble is, they have little popular support: Iraq Secular Leaders Seek to Thwart Islamist Power.

They wanted the spoils. Now they find the work is hard. I guess we should feel sorry for them: American Companies Rebuilding Iraq Find They Are Having to Start From the Ground Up.

Things could really get interesting! Iraq may claim Jordan and Kuwait.

Educated Iraqis don't seem to trust their current "leaders": Little faith in Iraqi leaders: poll.

A POLL of university-educated Iraqi men in Baghdad shows almost three out of every four do not believe the country's current leaders are fit to take over from the US-led coalition. The poll to be published by the independent Al-Zaman newspaper found 72 per cent felt there was "no (current) political leaders who are acceptable or capable of receiving power". Only 11 per cent said some of the Iraqi leaders on the US-appointed interim Governing Council were fit to take the reins of the strife-torn country from the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority. Sixty per cent also said they did not want to see any members of the Governing Council at the helm of Iraq.

Divorce between the Kurds and US? Or just a trial separation? Iraqi Kurdish Leaders Resist as the U.S. Presses Them to Moderate Their Demands.

A raid for "freedom": 'Don't be Surprised if the Soldiers Show No Compassion At All' - Anatomy of a Night Raid on Balad, Iraq.

Lt. Goldman led me in to the Bradley. He called out to the driver, "I only printed up three detainee forms, so if we get any others I guess we'll have to shoot them." He waited a bit and then remembered that I was standing behind him. "I was only joking, of course!..."
As I entered a darkened hallway I came across seven young girls and boys. One young girl, no older than 10, with large glasses and a tan hejab kept her hands raised in the air. I had never before seen a child do such a thing. They all wore fear deep on their faces....
"Thank you for participating in tonight's roundup," he began. "You know who we are looking for and we will not have to do this anymore if you help us. We know you know who is attacking Americans, and we need you to come forward." The flourescent light glistened against the grease paint on his face....
As our Bradley lurched forward and we headed back to the base, Lt. Goldman broke the silence. "Well, that was fucking worthless."

Now that he has UN cover, Bremer says Iraqi elections for the distant future: Bremer rules out elections in Iraq for at least a year. Maybe by then the Iraqis will forget about this democracy nonsense and allow King George to rule directly.

British troops accused of killing 18 civilians: Troops accused on Iraq killings: MoD faces lawsuits over deaths of 18 civilians. Meanwhile, British troops have evidently murdered a number of detainees [these are not counted in the 18 above]: 'They were kicking us, laughing. It was a great pleasure for them'.

[They were kicking us...::] Troops searched the building and arrested the staff, driving them off to a British military base in Basra, southern Iraq. It was only a formality and the men would be released shortly, they said. Four days later Baha was dead...."When they took the cover off his body I [Baha's father] could see his nose was broken badly," he said. "There was blood coming from his nose and his mouth. The skin on his wrists had been torn off. The skin on his forehead was torn away and beneath his eyes there was no skin either. On the left side of his chest there were clear blue bruises and also on his abdomen. On his legs I saw bruising from kicking. I couldn't stand it."
Two other hotel staff, who have been questioned by investigators, described in interviews with the Guardian how they were repeatedly punched, kicked and forced to crouch in stress positions for two days and two nights. One of the survivors was so badly beaten he suffered kidney failure, according to British military medical records. None was ever found to have committed a crime....
The death of Baha Mousa is not an isolated case. Military investigators are studying the cases of seven Iraqis who died between April and September. Six are thought to have died in British custody and one was shot....
The prisoners were handcuffed with plastic ties and driven to a military base in the city. "They started beating us as soon as we arrived," recalled Mr Taha.... "They were kicking us in the abdomen, like kickboxing," he said. "They were laughing. It was a great pleasure for them. We were in so much pain...." "They were hitting us in the kidneys. They were punching and kicking," he said. At one point the soldiers made the prisoners dance. "They said: 'Like Michael Jackson. Disco.'"
Baha appeared to suffer most from the beatings. On the second night he was taken to another room but his friends could hear him moaning through the walls. "I heard his voice," said Mr Taha, 44. "He said: 'Blood. Blood. There's blood coming from my nose. I'm going to die. I'm going to die.' After that there was nothing from him...."
In several other cases families in Basra complain that they have been promised investigations into the deaths of relatives but without result.

The Global IDP [Internally Displaced Persons] Project has issued a new report Iraq: return of evicted Kurds causes new displacements, claiming that 100,000 Arabs have been displaced since the war in Northern Iraq.

The collapse of the regime of Saddam Hussein following the US-led war in Iraq in March 2003 created the political conditions for the 800,000 Kurds who had been forcibly displaced under a brutal policy of "Arabisation" to return to their homes. But the beginning of these return movements has also caused a new wave of displacement. As several thousand Kurds began to reclaim their homes in the north of Iraq, about 100,000 Arabs who had been installed there by the previous regime fled in the months following the war....
The "oil-for-food" programme, handed over to the US led Coalition Provisional Authority in November 2003, avoided an immediate humanitarian crisis for the majority of the population. But the widespread break-down of water and sanitation, electricity, health and education services in the whole country affects most Iraqis, particularly the internally displaced squatting in public building or lingering in camps and barracks. Following the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad on 19 August 2003 most humanitarian agencies withdrew, and now only limited assistance reaches the internally displaced and little information is available on their situation.

The caucus plan is dead, as are early elections. What next? White House Admits Failure of Iraq Caucus Plan. But Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani wants guarantees from the UN that the elections will go ahead. I guess he doesn't trust the US: Iraq's top Shiite cleric demands United Nations elections guarantees.

Iraq women hold coordinated protests: Iraqi women demand 40% share of political power: Groups of women, who make up at least 52% of population, take to streets around Iraq to demand new political voice.

"Liberation" through bombs, yet again: 82nd Airborne Vs. An Elderly Couple: A Case Study of Excessive Force.

An amazing account of how the CIA is largely afraid to leave the Green Zone and other guarded compounds. Whatever happened to that nemesis of progress everywhere? CIA fires Baghdad station chief.

Haifa Zangana, a former Iraqi political prisoner explains: Why Iraqi Women Aren't Complaining: Their Secular Family Law is about to be Overturned and Placed under Religious Control. So Where's the Outcry?

Must Read! Riverbend reminds us that this past week was the 13th anniversary of the Amiriyah Shelter massacre in which over 400 women and children were butchered by the first President Bush in his "war of liberation": Dedicated to the Memory of L.A.S.

The bombs fell hard and fast at around 4 a.m. The first smart bomb went through the ventilation, through the first floor of the shelter- leaving a gaping hole- and to the bottom 'basement' of the shelter where there were water tanks and propane tanks for heating water and food. The second missile came immediately after and finished off what the first missile missed. The doors of the advanced shelter immediately shut automatically- locking over 400 women and children inside.
It turned from a shelter into an inferno; explosions and fire rose from the lower level up to the level that held the women and children and the water rose with it, boiling and simmering. Those who did not burn to death immediately or die of the impact of the explosions, boiled to death or were steamed in the 900+ º F heat....
My first visit to the shelter came several years after it was bombed. We were in the neighborhood visiting a friend of my mother. She was a retired schoolteacher who quit after the Amiriyah bombing. She had no thoughts of quitting but after schools resumed in April of 1991, she went on the first day to greet her class of 2nd graders. She walked into the classroom and found only 11 of her 23 students. "I thought they had decided not to come…" I remember her saying to my mother in hushed tones, later that year,"… but when I took attendance, they told me the rest of the children had died in the shelter…" She quit soon after that because she claimed her heart had broken that day and she couldn't look at the children anymore without remembering the tragedy....
She pointed to the vague ghosts of bodies stuck to the concrete on the walls and ground and the worst one to look at was that of a mother, holding a child to her breast, like she was trying to protect it or save it. "That should have been me…" the woman who lost her children said and we didn't know what to answer. It was then that I knew that the place was indeed 'maskoon' or haunted… since February 13, 1991 it has been haunted by the living who were cursed with their own survival.

Must Read! A 52 year old Iraqi farmer tells of his experience being tortured by US forces in detention: Detained and tortured by the US military.

hey put bags over our heads so we cannot see who is beating us. They kicked me with their shoes. On the way to the camp, I asked for water and they beat me on the head with the bottle of water. I fell down when I was getting out of the car and somebody lifted me under my arms and threw me to the ground. They lined us up against a wall. Somebody kicked me, my head jerked and banged into the wall. I fell down....
After I hit the wall with my head and fell down, they handcuffed me with my hands behind my back lying on my stomach. [Ahmed shows us his wrists. They are ringed with pink scar tissue.] They kept me in this position through the night and into the next day -- almost 24 hours -- and we weren't allowed to move our legs in that time. We could not sleep during that time because they would kick us. I don't know for sure, but I think they did this for a purpose, as a way to torture us and not give us a chance to sleep....
During this 24 hours, they brought some dogs. I could hear them searching and doing things with them. They didn't bite me, but I could hear the screams of other people being bitten.... The next day, they made us sit cross-legged with our hands handcuffed behind our backs and we are still hooded. The soldiers would come and kick us on the knee cap and you can hear them laughing....
One of the soldiers spoke to me in Arabic. He said he will help me. He said he will put me with the group that has already been tortured. They took off the bag and freed my hands....
[ahmed's son:] He kept asking me about the explosions. He put his hand under my chin and lifted me up from the floor. While he was doing this to me he said if you vomit you must swallow it -- don't spit it out. Then he hit me with his hand and I fell and he kicked me with his shoes. Then he said if you refuse to answer my questions I will take pictures of your wife and your mother and your sister naked and I will put them on the satellite as a sex film.... The next day they used something like a needle on my neck and my back. I couldn't tell what it was because I was hooded, but it felt like they were poking me with a nail.
When we were released after four days, they took us to the outside gate. We were 11 persons and they left all of us with our hands handcuffed behind our backs.... When they released me, they took 400,000 dinars (about $280 US) and my ID.

The "liberators" are an equal opportunity army. The British do their fair share of the torture: UK troops accused of POW brutality.

British soldiers in Iraq kicked and punched hooded prisoners as they screamed for mercy, according to a witness who says he saw one Iraqi detainee beaten to death.. The serving British soldier, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Sun newspaper he had been "sick to his stomach" after witnessing the beatings in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

How sweet! First their legs are blown off by the Us government. Then they are given wheelchairs, thanks to private donations. They call this a public-private partnership: Defense Department Supports Wheelchair Donations in Iraq.

"This is a great example of private-public partnerships," said Judith McCallum, who coordinates transportation for humanitarian assistance goods for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. It's a way for DoD to work with nongovernmental organizations to help people in need, she said.

They must be liberators. They get blamed for everything: Blast shows deep Iraqi mistrust of Americans.

The attack targeted a military base in Hilla, a town south of Baghdad where US troops were once welcomed, killing 11 Iraqis and wounding over 100 people. Some 58 foreign troops, part of the US-led coalition, were among the wounded.
But Iraqis were in no mood for logic. Young boys standing along railroad tracks near the blast site picked up mangled metal from car bumpers and said it was part of a rocket. “We heard the sound of a plane overhead and a rocket landed and then a second rocket landed,” said Omar Zayed, 17, who lives near the site of the explosion. “It was the Americans.”
This is typical of the Americans. We know what they are like,” said Dr Sattar al-Jishaamee. “People will be much more anti-American now.”

The UN says, elections must be postponed: UN Says Iraqi Elections Not Feasible by June 30. The US insists that on the June 30 date for transfer of "sovereignty" [Bush's losses in the US polls give them little leeway]: Bremer: Iraqi power transfer date to hold. But, US plans for caucusses are dying: Analysis: U.S. caucus idea dead in Iraq. And US troops will stay regardless: Pentagon Doubts Iraq Will Ask U.S. Troops to Leave.

And two more US soldiers die: Roadside bomb kills two US soldiers.

Robert Fisk on The fantasy of democracy in an Arab state: Arab states are largely squalid, corrupt, brutal dictatorships. No surprise there. We created most of these dictators.

The Spoils! They don't call them Beltway Bandits for nothing! Ex-Halliburton staff claim company ripped off military.

Two ex-Halliburton employees told US Democratic congressmen that vice-president Dick Cheney's old energy company "routinely overcharged" for work it did for the US military, the congressmen said today

The Spoils! Shouldn't the victors share the spoils? Guess not: Leak reveals ministers' fears over Iraqi contracts: Campaign to stop British firms being cut out by US.

A couple of dispatches from Jo Wilding of Circus2Iraq in Iraq: February 5th - Back to Sha’ala and February 9th - Reflections. Also, a piece by Felicity Arbuthnot, based on Jo's experiences: The Boy with the Bullet in his Brain (11 Feb 04).

Elections, but not just yet: Annan says Iraq poll accord near.

Love, and marriage, between an American soldier and an Iraqi doctor is not easy. Even court martial is a possibility: Love across the lines.

The Pentagon will use up the $87 billion for Iraq (and Afghanistan) by September, but won't ask for more money (how much?) till December. I wonder why? Pentagon Defends White House Decision on Iraq Funds

Filmmaker James Longley reports from the south of Iraq: Travels in the South.

Everyone agrees that having a city leadership appointed by the U.S. is intolerable. Two weeks ago thousands of protestors arrived in front of the Nasiriyah Mayor's office and demanded the Mayor's resignation on the grounds that he was appointed by the Americans, and therefore illegitimate. The standoff has apparently cooled down in anticipation of direct local elections; the U.S.-appointed mayor of Nasiriyah is no longer showing up to work.

The Iraqi Governing Council has recognized one of the non-Baathist union federations: Official Recognition Given to Iraqi Federation of Workers' Trade Unions (IFTU).

Decree No 16 2004 (28 January), issued by IGC President Adnan Pachachi, says that the IFTU and its President, Mr Rasem Hussein Abdullah are "the legitimate and legal representatives of the labour movement in Iraq."

One of the major workers organizations in occupied Iraq appears to be the: Union of the Unemployed in Iraq.It appears to be closely tied to the orker Communist Party of Iraq- WPIraq. The UUI claims 250,000 members, though there is no way to verify this. Here is one of their documents on the relation of the organization to the political situation: The Union of the Unemployed, and its Role in the Shaping of Iraq's Political Milieu. I'd appreciate information from those in a position to know regarding the UUI's (and WPIraq) true strength and influence.

Today, the UUI has grown to include around 250,000 registered members in its ranks across Iraq. And with the soaring unemployment rate of 70%, the UUI role seems to be as vital and crucial as ever before. Recently, tens of protests have been waged in Baghdad and other cities of Iraq and tens of people are being shot and killed by the occupying forces as well by the Islamists and the Iraqi police.

Some US occupation officials are backing away from caucus plan: US report hints at move toward direct elections.

An American diplomat involved in carrying out the plan's early stages said in a report that the current caucus system is "fast becoming impossible to defend." Iraqis have criticized the plan, in which caucuses would select provincial councils that would in turn help choose delegates to a national assembly.... The current system is "fast becoming impossible to defend with a public that is finding its voice and wants to express its will directly," states the unclassified memorandum, addressed to Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III and other US officials. "It is difficult to fathom how a productive political process that does not give a direct voice will lead to a stable government over the next six months," it says.

The US is loosing the rumor war. Iraqis blame US for latest bombings: On the spot: new wave of Iraq suicide bombings.

t is quite bizarre, but many Iraqis openly accused the US Army of being directly involved, which also happened after yesterday's car bomb attack in Iskandiriyah....
Many Iraqis approached me to say that America orchestrated the attack, some even said with the support of Israel. They cite as evidence the fact that US soldiers were around before the attack, then they left, only to arrive back at the scene once the bomb had gone off.
They believe that the attacks today and yesterday are part of a conspiracy to ensure that American troops continue remain in Iraq, because the US authorities can say the situation is not stable enough for them to leave.

A letter from a soldier just back from Iraq: A Soldier’s View Of The Iraq War.

President Bush said on TV today that Americans are welcomed??? He must be on another planet. A few small towns south of Baghdad may be somewhat safe to sleep in the truck, but most of that country is more anti-American than what Bush is telling everyone.
By the way, the Thanksgiving photo-op at the airport was only open to pro-Bush soldiers. We were screened unknowingly about four days before he showed up in secret. We didn’t know he was coming, but looking back, all the questions we were asked were designed to weed out the antiwar soldiers.
They had a tough time finding the right ones. As a matter of fact, my company and some Marines who talked loudly about Bush were sent to Tikrit the day before Thanksgiving for “security detail.” There are a lot of married men who are committing adultery in every new town they are moved to. Not all soldiers are doing this, but the numbers are staggering. I am not married, and yes I had sex—consensual sex. There is no money source in Iraq right now to speak of, and prostitution is rampant.

The Spoils! There's money to be made, says US official: US Commerce Secy: Business Opportunities Abound In Iraq.

"Business conditions are improving every day in Iraq, creating a greater opportunity for U.S. businesses to explore virtually an untapped market," said Evans. The Commerce Department is holding a "Doing Business in Iraq" conference Wednesday. Five hundred companies, including a number of Fortune 500 enterprises, have signed up to learn more about how to set up operations in Iraq. Among the companies registered for the conference are the Boeing Co. (BA), Caterpillar Inc. (CAT), DaimlerChrysler AG (DCX), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), Motorola Inc. (MOT), Nortel Networks Corp. (NT), Procter and Gamble Co. (PG), retailing giant Gap Inc. (GPS) and engineering giants Becthel Group Inc. (BTL.XX) and Fluor....
Evans said Iraq was doing its best to offer a friendly climate for foreign investment by allowing 100% foreign ownership of a business in Iraq, offering low corporate taxes and promising a well-educated [and desperate] work force.

Another letter from a GI in Iraq, sent by Jay Shaft: LETTER FROM A US ARMY SOLDIER IN RESPOSE TO MY INTERVIEWS.

Iraqi children's publisher takes new direction: Iraqi children turn a new page: A youth publisher moves away from propaganda.

The desire for democracy hinders US appointees: Iraq governor feels heat of democracy.

But Iraqis on the impoverished streets of Nassiriya, 235 miles southeast of Baghdad, want change and want it now; and Rumayith does not have to look far to find resentment in a town plagued by everything from high unemployment to raw sewage. Across the street from his office, a dozen angry security guards from the interior ministry complained that they had not been paid in months. "The Baath party has been replaced by just another group of thieves. We are lost. We are still performing our shifts and we don't get paid," said Zair Jabbar, 35.

US warns contacts to rebuild oil infrastructure given to US companies may not be honored by a "sovereign" Iraqi government: US Officials: No Contract Certainty In Iraq Post Handover.

The Kurdish militia in northern Iraq seem to be seeking retribution against Arabs: Northern Iraq inches towards civil war. See also: Will Iraq Start To Unravel? Kurdish calls for autonomy are generating fears of ethnic conflict that could complicate U.S. exit plans.

[Northern Iraq:] Halting our car at a roadblock, half a dozen Peshmerga peer inside. One of them demands to know if we are carrying any Arabs.... Still, we could count ourselves fortunate at being waved through with a question and an examination of our passports. The car in front of us had not been so lucky. It's two male occupants had been dragged from their vehicle and thrown to the ground where they were viciously kicked at gunpoint....
Descendants of ancient Turks, the nearly two million Iraqi Turkmen historically constitute the majority of Kirkuk's population. "The Peshmerga are now trying to drive us from our homes through intimidation," said Sahid Danilchi, a spokesman for the Kirkuk-based Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF).

More US deaths. Of course, these were an "accident": Two US soldiers killed. Meanwhile, an Iraqi Police Major attacked US troops: Police major in attack on US troops.

Ben Granby is reporting from Baghdad. Here is his: Report from Iraq describing life in Khinfara village and its resident brick factory.

Since the inception of the As-Salaam factory, many regimes in Iraq have risen and fallen. Yet little has changed for the impoverished little village surrounding the plant. The workers don't expect much to change, especially as little reconstruction for Iraq actually relies on brick and mortar. An upgrade in the infrastructure would be nice, but no one expects a rise in living standards. Abbas Abadi is dismissive that life will improve any time soon. "I am sure that my children will end up working here just as I do," he says.

Soldiers tell each other the unvarnished truth: Soldiers Record Lessons From Iraq: Unvarnished Tales Serve as Warning

As one of the biggest troop rotations in U.S. history gets underway in Iraq, with almost 250,000 soldiers coming or going, the seasoned units that are leaving are doing their best to pass on such hard-won knowledge to their successors, in e-mails, in essays, in PowerPoint presentations and rambling memoirs posted on Web sites or sent to rear detachments. And in the process, these veterans of Iraq have provided an alternate history of the Army's experience there over the past nine months -- one that is far more personal than the images offered by the media and often grimmer than the official accounts of steady progress....
Like most of the 28 documents reviewed for this article, Morgan's is relentlessly specific. One of the most striking lessons the 1992 graduate of Georgetown University passes on: Every soldier in the unit should carry a tourniquet sufficiently long to cut off the gush of blood from major leg wounds. "Trust me," he writes, "it saved four of my soldiers' lives...."
Although some of the commentaries argue that progress is being made, as a whole they tend to paint a harsher picture than the public statements of senior officials. In his advice to incoming troops, Capt. Ken Braeger, a company commander in the 4th Division, which is headquartered in Tikrit, in the middle of the Sunni Triangle, states that "what they have to understand is that most of the people here want us dead, they hate us and everything we stand for, and will take any opportunity to cause us harm."

A change in strategy: Fallujah Insurgents Find a New Focus: Opponents of U.S. Occupation Attempt to Influence Political Transition in Iraq

While the United States plans the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis this summer, a variety of underground groups in this combative city west of Baghdad are making a push to grab power through violence, Iraqi residents and officials say.

The American AFL-CIO leader has called for a new labor code for Iraq: Statement by AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney on A New Labor Code for Iraq.

In the meantime, the AFL-CIO calls on the CPA and the Iraqi Governing Council to allow Iraqi workers to associate together and participate collectively in rebuilding the economy. Training and other kinds of support from the international trade union movement should be encouraged, especially through the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).

Action Alert! Madre, "an international women's human rights organization" has launched a campaign to protect Yanar Mohammed of the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq after she received a death threat from Islamic militants.

Ms. Mohammed received an email to her personal account, with the title: “Killing Yanar Mohammed Within a Few Days.” The message demanded that she stop her activism on behalf of women’s rights, described by the authors as “psychologically disturbed ideas about women’s freedom.” The group, Army of Sahaba, has threatened to kill her if she persists....
MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization, has initiated an international campaign to bring this threat to public attention. As part of this campaign, MADRE has issued the following open letter to Coalition Provisional Authority Chief Paul Bremer. As MADRE Associate Director Yifat Susskind commented, “Ironically, Paul Bremer himself helped create the current climate of extreme hostility towards women’s rights in Iraq by appointing a group of reactionary clerics to the Governing Council. The inclusion of these men – who authored Resolution 137 – on the Council has galvanized anti-democratic forces in Iraq, including those who are now threatening to kill Ms. Mohammed.”
To Join MADRE’s campaign to ensure the safety of Yanar Mohammed and defend Iraqi women’s rights to political participation and the full range of human rights, we urge you to send a letter to Paul Bremer’s office and your local media.

A milestone passed: The terrible human cost of Bush and Blair's military adventure: 10,000 civilian deaths.

More than 10,000 civilians, many of them women and children, have been killed so far in the Iraqi conflict, The Independent on Sunday has learnt, making the continuing conflict the most deadly war for non-combatants waged by the West since the Vietnam war more than 30 years ago....
Iraq Body Count's co-founder, John Sloboda, said: "This official disinterest must end. We are now calling for an independent international tribunal to be set up to establish the numbers of dead, the circumstances in which they were killed and an appropriate and just level of compensation for the victims' families...."
Until late last year, an official at the Iraqi Health Ministry, a Dr Nagham Mohsen, was compiling casualty figures from hospital records. But, according to a barely noticed Associated Press report, she was, in December, ordered by her immediate superior, director of planning Dr Nazar Shabandar, to stop collating this data.
On its website, the organisation [Iraq Body Count] says: "So far, in the 'war on terror' initiated since 9/11, the USA and its allies have been responsible for over 13,000 civilian deaths, not only the 10,000 in Iraq, but also 3,000-plus civilian deaths in Afghanistan, another death toll that continues to rise long after the world's attention has moved on. "Elsewhere in the world over the same period, paramilitary forces hostile to the USA have killed 408 civilians in 18 attacks worldwide. Adding the official 9/11 death toll (2,976 on 29 October 2003) brings the total to just under 3,500."

Support Our Troops? Hundreds of billions for war and: Armor From Home: Amid Shortage of Gear, Some U.S. Soldiers Must Equip Themselves.

The UN is back. They met with the Iraqi Governing Council to discus elections: U.N. team meets Iraq council.

The Spoils! As usual, the rich will get richer: A booty for the barons of Baghdad: The streets may be troubled, write Adrian Gatton and Clayton Hirst, but Western dollars are about to rain down on an elite group of secretive Iraqi families. Meanwhile, as business booms for a British intelligence firm, financial speculators are licking their wounds.

The television images portray a bombed-out country with its inhabitants living in crumbling houses close to the poverty line. But away from the allied forces' patrols and the buildings riddled with bullet holes, a small but powerful group of families is thriving in Iraq. With business contacts throughout the Gulf and the Middle East and extending into Europe, Iraq has developed its own powerful set of oligarchs. The Al-Bunnias, Al- Khudairys and Kubbas have become the region's own Rockefellers, Gettys and Fords.
Like their American counterparts, these Iraqi dynasties are built on property, construction, technology and manufacturing and are over a century old. But the fortunes of this wealthy elite could be transformed with the billions of dollars that are set to flood into Iraq to patch up the war-torn country.

Here is a longer account by campus activist Khury Petersen-Smith of his recent trip to occupied Baghdad [I posted a shorter account a few days ago]: Report from Occupied Iraq: "We Don't Want the Army USA".

Killing the educated is likely to increase the brain drain that most "third world" countries experience: Assassinations Tear Into Iraq's Educated Class

Will Dick Cheney go hide in Saddam's hole? The day Cheney was rocked to the core.

What the albatross was to the ancient mariner, Cheney is fast becoming to George W Bush's re-election chances. Just consider what happened to Cheney Thursday:

Support Our Troops? The bodies mysteriously turn up: Pentagon: Eight deaths weren't reported ~ Also, soldier reported killed in Iraq actually died in Afghanistan

The overall number of dead during the Iraq operation rises from 529 to 532.

The Spoils! The new invasion: Foreign banks to operate soon in Iraq: Central Bank.

The ICB decision to de-regulate interest rate was believed to be part of US policy to turn Iraq from a state-controlled economy into a market-oriented one.
Experts expected Iraqi banks to raise their rates from its present level of 7 percent to more than 10 percent as a result of the decision to lift the restriction of the maximum of interest rates. The rise would attract more customers to deposit their savings in such banks while smaller [Iraqi-owned] banks could not have the capacity to do likewise and thus they might lose customers and face bankruptcy, said the experts.

Naomi Klein details the role of US firm Research Triangle Institute (RTI) in carrying out the US plans for custom-tailoring Iraqi politics to US interests: Hold Bush to His Lie.

Poor RTI: The appetite for democracy among Iraqis keeps racing ahead of the plodding plans for "capacity building" it drew up before the invasion. In November the Washington Post reported that when RTI arrived in the province of Taji, armed with flowcharts and ready to set up local councils, it discovered that "the Iraqi people formed their own representative councils in this region months ago, and many of those were elected, not selected, as the occupation is proposing." The Post quoted one man telling a RTI contractor, "We feel we are going backwards."
Johnson denies that the previous council was elected and says that, besides, RTI is only "assisting the Iraqis," not making decisions for them. Perhaps, but it doesn't help that Johnson compares Iraq's councils to "a New England town meeting" and quotes another RTI consultant observing that the challenges in Iraq are "the same thing I dealt with... in Houston." Is this Iraqi sovereignty--conceived in Washington, outsourced to North Carolina, modeled on Massachusetts and Houston and imposed on Basra and Baghdad?...
Washington wants a transitional body in Iraq with the full powers of sovereign government, able to lock in decisions that an elected government will inherit. To that end, Paul Bremer's CPA is pushing ahead with its illegal free-market reforms, counting on these changes being ratified by an Iraqi government it can control. For instance, on January 31 Bremer announced the awarding of the first three licenses for foreign banks in Iraq. A week earlier, he sent members of the Iraqi Governing Council to the World Trade Organization to request observer status, the first step to becoming a member. And Iraq's occupiers just negotiated an $850 million loan from the International Monetary Fund, giving the lender its usual leverage to extract future economic "adjustments."
In other countries that have recently made the transition to democracy--from South Africa to the Philippines to Argentina-- this period between regimes is precisely when the most devastating betrayals have taken place: backroom deals to transfer illegitimate debts and to maintain "macro-economic continuity." Again and again, newly liberated people arrive at the polls only to discover that there is precious little left to vote for. But in Iraq, it's not too late to block that process. The key is to confine any transitional council's mandate to matters directly related to elections: the census, security, protections for women and minorities.

Action Alert! The The Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq has launched an International campaign to reverse the Governing Council’s resolution 137, which changes the Iraqi family law to Islamic Shari’a. One can sign an online petition at their web site, as well as contribute to support their work. The latest number of their newspaper: Equal Rights Now! (pdf) is also available. See also this account by the chairperson of OWFI upon her return to Iraq: Victories for Women and Death Threat on Me. [See next note.]

I found in my email inbox an Arabic email with a strange title. I re-read the title many times until I was sure I read right. It said: Re: Killing Yanar within a few days. In a small paragraph the Army of Sahaba (Jaysh Al-Sahaba) express their dismay of my women’s activism. They decide that I will have to be killed because I am a converted Muslim unless I refrain from doing what I do.
My WCPI friends and I decided to go immediately to the central headquarters of American troops in order to see what they can do for me. I was told that Colonel Brown would be the best person to see. At the gateway, I explained the matter to the American soldiers and clarified how urgent it was and also how unsafe it would be for me to stand in such an open area. I also thought in my heart that it is unsafe in the first place to stand close to any American soldier these days as they may be attacked anytime. The answer that I received was that I will have to wait. For how long? Nobody knows. Is he in there? We are not sure, but you can wait. Will he come? We don’t know. But my life is in danger… everybody’s life is in danger ma’am. After I expressed how upset I was, they said he has more important things to deal with. I told them my life was important too. It was only then that I heard the longest string of ‘F’ words put together to suit the occasion.

One victory [See above note]: Kurdish parliament defies Baghdad: Legislators won't recognize proposed Shiite-backed family law, seen as setback for women.

The Kurdish parliament decided today not to recognize a Governing Council decision to change rules on divorce and other family issues - a move that outraged some Iraqi women who saw it as a setback for women's rights here.

Support Our Troops! Jay Shaft has conducted yet another interview, this time with a US Army high level commander: US Soldier: "Sometimes it is a soldier.s duty to tell the truth, no matter what".

Support Our Troops? The US systematically hides the staggering number of US war wounded: Washington conceals US casualties in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Scott D. Ross of the US military’s Transportation Command told Hackworth that as of Christmas his “outfit had evacuated 3,255 battle-injured casualties and 18,717 non-battle injuries,” a total 21,972 servicemen and women. Ross, however, cautioned that his figure might include some of the same service members counted more than once. The major categories of “non-battle” evacuations included orthopedic surgery, 3,907; general surgery, 1,995; internal medicine, 1,291; psychiatric, 1,167; neurology, 1,002; gynecological (mostly pregnancy-related), 491.

The Spoils! Mortgaging the future, to a US bank: Banking on Empire.

Iraqi ministries will now be able to borrow billions of dollars to buy much-needed equipment from overseas suppliers, but only by mortgaging the national oil revenues through a bank managed by New York-based multinational JP Morgan Chase.... Like the Iraq reconstruction contracts that have favored US companies with political connections, the export credits of the Trade Bank of Iraq favor companies from contributing nations, whether or not their products are cheap or well-made.

Khury Petersen-Smith,, a campus antiwar activist recently returned from Iraq and wrote this report (pdf).

There were big barricades all around the entrance of the Green Zone, where many soldiers hang out and stand guard. Written on one of the barricades in permanent marker were the letters “FTA.” During the Vietnam War, “FTA”—which stands for “fuck the army”—was a slogan of resistance to the war among soldiers.

American formal control may be extended beyond the June 30 deadline after all: U.S. Opens Door to Possibly Delaying Iraq Handover.

US brings in South African mercenaries. We know they won't shrink from putting the natives in their place! South African hired guns flock to Iraq.

Its the economy, stupid! Persistent job shortage frustrates idled Iraqis.

The Spoils! Australia to loose out on some spoils: Iraq wheat monopoly can't last.

Progress? U.S. deaths mount in Iraq.

The number of deaths in January will rise to 47 when the Pentagon changes the status of two soldiers who are missing and believed to have died in the Tigris River on Jan. 25. That would make the second highest monthly total since last April when daily combat from the U.S.-led invasion was under way. All told, 528 U.S. troops have died in the war, including three so far this month. The worst month was November, when 82 died.

If the US is getting ready to "hand Iraq to the Iraqis" in under 5 months, why are they building new bases? Obviously it will take months to build this: Fluor wins Iraq construction contract.

A team including US-based Fluor Corporation has been awarded a task order to build a camp in Iraq for the US Army.... The camp will be built on an existing military base located outside of Baghdad and will include housing for US Army personnel, bunkers and utility infrastructure.

The number keeps climbing: Death Toll From Irbil Blasts Climbs Above 100.

Abuse of Iraqi prisoners common, Marine says.

Dahr Jamail, an American activist reporter, leaves Iraq for the time being: Dahr Jamail signs off. And a few of his last dispatches: Baghdad to Babylon...(Pt. 1); Iraqi Educational Institutions Suffering Amidst ‘Empty Promises’; and False Casualty Counts, Beating Sheikhs in Ramadi.

[... signs off:] The border -- while the US Administration continues to tout security, and speak of brining it to Iraq -- the border is wide open! Not one US soldier was at the border on my way in, or yesterday on my way out. So many other journalists I know report the same situation. Why is this?...
All of my Iraqi friends knows someone personally who has been threatened, detained, killed, or their homes damaged or destroyed by the US military. The stories continue to pour in on a daily basis.
feel it imperative to maintain a solid presence of independent journalists in Iraq, as there are so few. Most of the mainstream media are just parroting the news fed to them by the CPA and military. This only angers Iraqis, as well as jeopardizing the safety of independent journalists.

The new Iraqi police may be a new plague: Iraqi police a law unto themselves.

Iraq suicide bombs death toll reaches 100.

The Spoils! I wish I could bill like this! Halliburton in $16M food probe: Report: Contractor allegedly overcharged U.S. military for food-service work.

In the e-mail memo that went out Friday, it said that in July alone, a Saudi subcontractor hired by KBR billed for 42,042 meals a day on average but served only 14,053 meals a day, the paper said.

Must Read! Jay Shaft interviews two soldiers at home on leave from Iraq. This is one of the most eloquent and moving things I have ever read: Two US Soldiers ask: "When will we stop dying so senselessly?"

O1- You know, right after the invasion, the average Iraqi was happy to see us get rid of the Saddam regime. You ask the same Iraqi how they feel about us now, and they will openly admit that they hate us as bad as Saddam, or even worse than Saddam....
O1- You want to know the biggest reason? We still haven.t accomplished the mission we started out to do. Iraqis will tell you they don.t fell any freer, there is hunger all over the place, over half the country is out of work, there is a huge lack of clean drinking water, and their children are dying everyday from contaminated water, and from our cluster bombs. The people do not see us living up to our promises of liberation and democracy. Until we do what we promised them and get out of there, they will keep killing us and hating us. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute. Every American needs to ask themselves what they would do in the same situation. I guarantee you that they would not sit back and do nothing. They would want to fight back in whatever way possible.
O1- Every day that we stay in Iraq, the resistance builds, and the attacks are bigger and more prevalent. We are going to see many more US soldiers die because of the failure of the US to live up to their basic promises. In the end it is the basic line grunt that is the victim of the Bush regimes drive for oil and profits. You won.t see one of the senator.s kids over there. You will not see one of the board members of Halliburton, Bechtel, KBR, or the other big contractors losing a son or daughter. All they are going to do is make money and send more troops to guard their convoys and assets. We can.t even go out in convoy with anyone from Halliburton or Bechtel without drawing a crowd of angry Iraqis. They hate the Halliburton and Bechtel guys worse than they hate the soldiers. It.s like painting a target on your back just to travel with those contractors and try to protect them.
O2- Let me jump in here. I want to say that I am extremely mad that Halliburton and Bechtel have better equipment than our own troops do. The contractors have fully armored Hummers and the best body armor. The have us escort them in our lightly armored Humvees and they ride in heavily armored vehicles....
O1- I saw some Saudi police or militia, I don.t know which, that were brought in by Kellog Brown and Root to provide security for the oil fields. Those fu..ers had the body armor our own forces were supposed to get. Bechtel got a whole bunch of body armor given to them for the police force they are training. Our own Reservists and National Guard are using Gulf War era equipment and some supplies are even older than that. They are getting wiped out and needlessly wounded because they don.t have the proper body armor and vehicles....
O2- If you look at it really hard, the only ones that come out ahead are Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of those corrupt old bastards. I mean come on, if all the soldiers who are actually fighting this war can see that, what the hell is wrong with the American citizens? We knew it was about oil from the beginning. Oil and building huge bases that the US will have to staff for years to come. There is no end in sight for the people serving in this war....
O2- I.m proud that I served my country, I am proud to be an American soldier. That is why it is so hard for me to say stuff like this about our leaders and the government. I hate doing this, but what the Pentagon and Bush are doing to our soldiers makes me sick. I also get sick when I think about how many Iraqi civilians I saw killed and terribly maimed....
What I want to say as my final statement to America is "Stop letting your proud men and women die so senselessly. If we are going to die for our country let it be for something we can really be proud of. I just don.t see us making the US any safer from terrorists because of what we are doing in Iraq. Bring us back home so we can defend the US from real threats to our shores...."
O2- You have to have been out of the country for a few months to notice it. I almost felt like I was coming home to a police state or something. They were screening everyone at the airport and pulled aside some elderly guy who was a prominent anti-war activist. I didn.t catch his name but a few people at the airport said he was a Christian peace missionary who had been over in Iraq during the bombing campaign.
What are we coming to when we harass old men who have the courage to challenge our notions of war? That was like a slap in the face to me when I saw how rude and nasty they were to this kind looking old man. He had the courage to stand up for what he believed in and that is why I am in the military. I took an oath to defend our liberties and to see them trampled on was insulting.
O1- I saw them screening several people when I came through, and it just pissed me off. These were very peaceful looking people and I heard one of them asking the security screeners what crime they had committed. He said all he had done was question the war and the facts behind it. One of the security goons said something like "You should have thought about that before you had the nerve to question the US. We don.t like unpatriotic people in this country."
We are supposed to be fighting the war on terror against the terrorists, not the people who should have the right to stand against war if they want to. I hope that the country can see how dangerous it is getting to speak out against this current administration. I don.t really think the war protesters are right on most of their issues, but I would fight to the death for their right and freedom to say it....
O1- I want to say one more thing to all the American people. I guess I just can.t figure out when to shut my mouth. WAKE UP! This war has become bogus if it ever had any legitimacy at all, and it is only when you speak out that you will hold our leaders accountable. Don.t forget what this country was founded on. God Bless America!

britain treated its troops even worse than the Americans did: Woman soldier joins TA exodus after being sent into the Iraq frontline.

The Spoils! At last, a success! Iraq allows in foreign banks. The neocolonial vision marches on!

Support Our Troops? For a country obsessed with statistics, its surprising how little attention goes to the American casualty statistics in Iraq. Paul de Rooij shows that these statistics are being manipulated to keep the apparent casualty rate down. Where's the press expose? For Whom the Death Tolls: Deliberate Undercounting of "Coalition" Fatalities.

Protest, Resistance, and Civil War

Occupation Resistance Analysis

New evidence suggests that (some of) Iraq's suicide bombers are home-grown: Making Bombers in Iraq: It has been widely held that suicide attackers are all foreigners, but recent evidence points to home-grown cells of religious extremists.

The developments here — and signs elsewhere of Iraqis plotting or training for suicide attacks — throw into question the widely held view that Iraq's suicide bombers are exclusively foreign jihadis. U.S. and Iraqi officials repeatedly have said that Iraqis are unlikely to engage in such missions because they do not have a history of violent religious extremism.

Details on resistance factions: An insiders look at The Iraqi Resistance Part II.

A group of Muslim scholars has condemned attacks against "Iraqi institutions", calling on all Iraqis to unite in support of a speedy transition to Iraqi sovereignty: Attacking Iraqi Institutions Aggression 'Not Jihad': Scholars.

New lethal attack on those working with US, including two translators: Guerrillas Kill 3 Iraqis Working with U.S. Military.

Number of Iraqi police dying rising rapidly: Death Toll Among Iraqi Police Rising.

More Iraqi police killed: Car bomb hits Iraq police station.

Another day of attacks: Gunmen attack police in northern Iraq cities.

A vision of the future. Rights abolished in Bush home town: Anti-war protestors convicted for demonstrating near Bush's ranch.

He noted that the Crawford police chief, Donnie Tidmore, testified that a person could theoretically be arrested for simply wearing a "Peace" button or for distributing leaflets.

Sen. Tom Daschle competes for scoundrel of the year award! You know, he may win! Daschle satisfied with war progress.

Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., on Thursday praised the Bush administration's war and nation-building work in Iraq and said he has no serious concerns about the lack of weapons of mass destruction.

So much for those Iraq-Al Qaeda ties: Al Qaeda Rebuffs Iraqi Terror Group, U.S. Officials Say.

The most active terrorist network inside Iraq appears to be operating mostly apart from Al Qaeda, senior American officials say. Most significantly, the officials said, American intelligence had picked up signs that Qaeda members outside Iraq had refused a request from the group, Ansar al-Islam, for help in attacking Shiite Muslims in Iraq.

While the US claims to be defeating Iraqi resistance, a secret report for the CPA says that resistance attacks are on the upswing: Secret Report Warns of Iraq 'Balkanization'.

According to the report, "January national review of Iraq", strikes against international and non-governmental organizations increased from 19 to 26 in January. It said that high-intensity attacks involving mortars and explosives grew by 103 per cent from 316 in December to 642 in January; non-life threatening attacks, including drive-by shootings and rock-throwing, soared by 186 per cent from 182 in December. It also recorded an average of eight attacks a day in Baghdad alone, up from four a day in September, and a total of 11 attacks on coalition aircraft.

Vietnam redux: Another GI flees to Canada: Quaker deserts as unit deploys.

Score one for our side! Case set to be dropped against GCHQ mole who blew whistle on US bugging .

This time, more Americans die: Baghdad bomb kills two US troops.

Another day, more Iraqi deaths. Of course, being Iraqi deaths, they won't make all that many US front pages as progress is declared: Car bomb kills 45 would-be Iraqi soldiers.

as usual, the Independent has a slightly different interpretation of the bombing in Iskandariya that killed 50 Iraqis yesterday: Terrorists spark fear of civil war in Iraq as 50 die in car bomb.

Nervous American soldiers sealed off the compound where the blast occurred with razor wire, taking up positions kneeling on the ground, a few metres from an angry crowd of Iraqis. The Iraqis were blaming the Americans for the explosion, and the soldiers had their fingers on their triggers....
To a man, all the witnesses we spoke to claimed the blast was caused by an American air strike. They said they had heard a helicopter overhead, and the whoosh of a missile flying through the air just before the blast. Several witnesses claimed that the Americans brought a bulldozer and quickly filled in the crater caused by the explosion. If nothing else, it was an example of how the Americans are losing the battle for the trust and support of Iraqis, and how the bombers are succeeding.... The residents we spoke to were fiercely anti-American, and proud of the attacks carried out by the resistance in the area. That is a sign of how far the resistance has spread beyond the so-called Sunni Triangle of Baghdad, Fallujah and Tikrit.

A rare victory: Feds Drop All Subpoenas Against Peace Protesters, University.

After almost a week of controversy, the U.S. attorney in Des Moines dropped four subpoenas against local peace protesters and one subpoena against Drake University Tuesday. The attorney said in just-released court documents that all five subpoenas are quashed. A reason for the withdrawals was not given.

The first account I've seen of a US soldier, Jeremy Hinzman, deserting Canada. Will they let him stay? The soldier who refuses to fight

Jeremy Hinzman tells MICHAEL VALPY that he enlisted to get an education, not to kill people. But his superiors wouldn't listen and ordered him to pack for Iraq. Instead, he packed up his family and hightailed it north. Now, Canada must decide: Can a U.S. Army deserter be considered a refugee?

The carnage continues: Car bomb kills 50 in Iraqi town, hospital says: Dozens more wounded in attack on a police station.

Documents captured by the US allegedly suggest Iraqi rebels are seeking Al Qaeda help: Al-Qa'eda in Iraq civil war plot, claims US.

More peace activists on government's secret No-Fly list: Are You On Uncle Sam's No Fly List?.

The federal government attacks Iowa antiwar activists as terrorists. A harbinger of things to come? Fourth activist in D.M. ordered to testify: The federal probe also focuses on a November antiwar forum held at Drake University.

The new Iraqi army comes under attack: Insurgents Attack Iraq Soldiers West Of Baghdad.

Resistance groups talk as if they expect to win, while threatening those who work with Americans: Insurgent groups vow to take over Iraqi cities.

Civil War? Devastation in multiple bombings in Irbil: Suicide bombers hit Kurdish party office in Iraq: One official says death toll could rise above 100. Many were also killed in a munitions dump explosion in the south. Additionally: GI Killed As Army Base Attacked in Iraq.

Irbil city morgue director Tawana Kareem told the AP that 57 bodies were brought to the morgue and “figures are increasing.” At least 235 people were admitted to the city’s three hospitals with injuries, medical sources said.

Analysis, Commentary, & Domestic Reaction

Occupation Resistance Analysis

Slate magazine has The Iraq War in Cartoons!

Censorship? Talk show host Howard Stern has turned against Bush big-time! Two days later, Clear Channel yanked him off the air in five states, including two battleground states: Howard Stern finally turns on Bush, gets silenced in return. Also: Pulling the plug on Howard. Here is the Clear Channel statement: Howard Stern Show Taken Off Clear Channel Stations.

[Howard Stern finally turns on Bush:] "Over vacation, I read Al Franken's ["Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them"]; it's great. He is phenomenal...."
"The first page, he insults me," Stern said. "He talks about how Ann Coulter and I are McCarthy-ites. It was just really insulting. And I just said, 'You know, I can get past this, if Al doesn't like me.' I'm not even sure why I'm like McCarthy, but, evidently I am, according to Al. But you know what? If Al says it, it must be true, because I love the book, and he seems to be right on about everything."
And then Stern said the words that made my day: "If you read this book, you will never vote for George W. Bush. ... I think this guy is a religious fanatic and a Jesus freak, and he is just hell bent on getting some sort of bizzaro agenda through--like a country-club agenda--so that his father will finally be proud of him. ... I don't know much about Kerry, but I think I'm one of those 'Anybody but Bush' guys now. I don't think G.W. is going to win. What do you think about that?..."
"This regime--and I will now call it a regime--has gotten absolutely bizarre. Between Aschroft and Cheney ... and their puppet Bush and Powell and his son [FCC chairman Michael Powell], I mean, this has gone berserk. I mean, I'll be off the air, and I won't be able to talk to you about it anymore, but, listen, it's bad. This is the most unbelievable thing, what's going on, where people are being thrown off the air without a trial."
Howard Stern Show Taken Off: "Clear Channel drew a line in the sand today with regard to protecting our listeners from indecent content and Howard Stern's show blew right through it," said John Hogan, president and CEO of Clear Channel Radio. "It was vulgar, offensive, and insulting, not just to women and African Americans but to anyone with a sense of common decency. We will not air Howard Stern on Clear Channel stations until we are assured that his show will conform to acceptable standards of responsible broadcasting," Hogan said.
[Pulling the plug:] And Charlie Kuffner's Off the Kuff blog points out that while Clear Channel says it's interested in protecting us all from obscenity, the radio giant recently brought to Houston the conservative ranter Michael Savage, the guy MSNBC fired last year after he referred to a caller to his weekend cable TV show as a "sodomite" and that he should "get AIDS and die." Nice.

Bush and Blair are to be sued by British antiwar groups in the International Criminal Court for "mass murder": Anti-war movement to sue Bush, Blair over Iraq.

New claims that the US ordered the British Government to change its opinion that war against Iraq without a second UN resolution was illegal! Being the subservient partner that it is, Blair's government immediately complied: US told UK Attorney General to alter legal advice on Iraq war. Pressure mounts to release the legal decisions that formed the basis for war: Iraq advice 'must be made public'.

The attorney general initially told Tony Blair that an invasion of Iraq would be illegal without a new resolution from the United Nations and only overturned his advice when Washington ordered Downing Street to find legal advice which would justify the war....
Baroness Kennedy points out that Lord Goldsmith was a commercial lawyer with no experience of international law and initially relied heavily on the advice of lawyers within the Foreign Office in the months before the war. It is widely believed that advice overwhelmingly warned against invading without a UN resolution. She claims that when Washington was told of this advice their response was succinct: find a new lawyer.

The British Attorney General evidently first thought that war against Iraq without UNJ authorization was illegal. Then, under pressure, he changed his mind... Revealed: Attorney General changed his advice on legality of Iraq war. Another account, with some additional details: Army chiefs feared Iraq war illegal just days before start.

[Revealed::] But the IoS has learnt from sources connected to the Gun case that in November 2002, when the Security Council passed resolution 1441, threatening "serious consequences" if Iraq did not "comply with its disarmament obligations", Lord Goldsmith agreed with the Foreign Office view that a further resolution would be needed to make war legal. As the possibility of war without such a resolution loomed, Britain's military chiefs of staff argued that they needed a clearer legal basis on which to proceed.

Is there anyone they didn't spy on? British intelligence gave Blair 'snippets of Chirac's private conversations'.

Keep the People Scared! White House supports new propaganda series: Bush Backs New Terrorism TV Series.

A US State Dept. bio of President Bush lies about his National Guard duty: Bush bio on Web inflates Guard service.

[Bio:] George W. graduated from Yale in May of 1968 with a major in history. Two weeks before graduation, he went to the offices of the Texas Air National Guard at Ellington Air Force Base outside Houston to sign up for pilot training. One motivation, he said, was to learn to fly, as his father had done during World War II. George W. was commissioned as a second lieutenant and spent two years on active duty, flying F-102 fighter interceptors. For almost four years after that, he was on a part-time status, flying occasional missions to help the Air National Guard keep two of its F-102s on round-the-clock alert. [This link will be changed by the White House now.]
[Bush bio on web...:] After a year in flight school, Bush spent five months learning how to fly an F-102 fighter-interceptor and then 22 months as a part-time pilot. He stopped flying in April 1972 -- 30 months before his formal commitment would normally have ended. Nonetheless, the biography of Bush on the US State Department's website credits him with almost six years in the F-102's cockpit -- two years on active duty flying the plane and nearly four more years of part-time service as an F-102 pilot. The websites of at least five American embassies -- those in Germany, Italy, Pakistan, Vietnam, and South Korea -- use the identical language, even though Bush spent barely two years flying the airplane.

Former British Cabinet Minister justifies her reporting illegal wiretaps of the UN Secretary General: Clare Short: Was Attorney General leant on to sanction war? In her own words, the former cabinet minister questions the legality of conflict but the Labor Party establishment closes ranks and attacks her for threatening their reelection: Short left isolated as Brown joins her critics. Meanwhile, a former British government lawyer quit the government because she believed the war was illegal: I quit because the war against Iraq was illegal, says former government lawyer

[I quit ...:] Ms Wilmshurst, 55, who was a member of the Foreign Office legal team for 30 years, had held the post since 1997. Her resignation shocked many in Whitehall at the time but it received little attention as the war got under way. Now head of the International Law Programme at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, she has decided reveal why she resigned. "I left my job because I did not agree that the use of force against Iraq was lawful, and in all the circumstances I did not want to continue as a legal adviser," Ms Wilmshurst said.

The phones of Hans Blix and other weapons inspectors were also bugged: Weapons inspectors' phones 'bugged'.

Fowler [Australian Broadcasting Corporation reporter] said: "That's what I'm told, specifically each time he [Blix] entered Iraq his phone was targeted and recorded and the transcripts were then made available to the United States, Australia, Canada, the UK and also New Zealand."

Where were they before the war? Senate plans secret session on Iraq.

UN upset by new claims of British wiretapping: UN Rocked by Shock Claims on Annan Spying.

British government backs down rather than admit war deemed illegal: Spy case casts fresh doubt on war legality. See also and Short: 'There had clearly been some shenanigans going on'. Whistleblower: Cleared; Government: Accused of cover-up; Case for war: An official secret.

A disturbing, yet amusing, account of how sex therapist Susan Block's antiwar article Rape of Iraq was distorted by Turkish Islamists, The US Embassy in Turkey, the Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal: Metaphor Madness: Saddam's Sex Therapist & the Rape of Free Speech.

Freedom? John Ashcroft now says that Americans who edit a work from Iran or Syria can be prosecuted. This "crime" can be punishable by fines of up to a half-million dollars or jail terms as long as 10 years: Publishers Face Prison For Editing Articles from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya or Cuba.

The Homeland Security scam. Not surprisingly, while states and cities cut education and social services, "Homeland Security" money flows to oil companies: Big Oil Companies Granted $66 Million by Homeland Security.

"Citgo has received over $17 million, Conoco-Phillips $10 million, Shell $9-million...."
We should note that the nuclear power industry, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on its own security, has not received any grants from Homeland Security.

Hans Blix says US deliberately made up nonexistent "facts" and undermined the UN weapons inspectors: US 'created' weapons facts.

"Our inspectors had a fixed phraseology. If something was missing, then the official formulation was 'yet to be established'," Blix was quoted as saying by the German weekly Stern. "But the Americans and British persistently read 'exists'. So they created facts where there were no facts...."
"During a meeting at the White House at the end of October 2002, six months before the beginning of the war, Cheney told us he would not hesitate to discredit the inspections," Blix was quoted as saying.

Lies! A new book cites documents signed by Bush from 2002 laying out the Iraq war: Bush 'wanted war in 2002'.

"On February 16 2002, Bush signed a secret national security council directive establishing the goals and objectives for going to war with Iraq, according to classified documents I obtained," Mr Scarborough wrote.... The next month, he writes, the head of central command, General Tommy Franks, conducted a "major Iraq war exercise code-named "Prominent Hammer", and in April he briefed the joint chiefs of staff on the invasion plan.

What next! The Pentagon(?) has opened a criminal probe of Halliburton: Criminal probe targets Halliburton's Iraq deal. I'm sure they're "Shocked! Simply shocked!"

Earn money while doing good! $10,000 prize for anyone who personally witnessed George W. Bush reporting for drills at Dannelly Air National Guard Base between the months of May and November of 1972. With buck like that, witnesses should leap out of the closet: His teeth were there: Was he? Your chance to end gutter politics!

Former Republican Congressman Paul Findley presents: A Republican's case against George W. Bush.

Authors claim the World health Organization censored their report on the dangers of depleted uranium: WHO ‘suppressed’ scientific study into depleted uranium cancer fears in Iraq: Radiation experts warn in unpublished report that DU weapons used by Allies in Gulf war pose long-term health risk.

Must read! The Spoils! A number of close relatives of President Bush are profiting directly from the Iraq war. Kinda neat, huh? All in the (Profiteering, First) Family.

Felicity Arbuthnot writes movingly about the irony of peace activist Kathy Kelly being sentenced to prison while warmakers Bush and Blair are nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize: Serial Peacemaker Jailed; Bush and Blair Nobel Nominated, Machiavelli Lives.

Just after Baghdad's Ameriyah shelter was bombed, incinerating all but eight inside, the indomitable Kelly stood outside the building crying. The area had become, in a night, a valley of widowers, since the men stayed outside to rescue survivors of bombings and to leave the maximum room for women and the young. Suddenly a small child appeared and put her hand in Kelly's. Her mother was standing nearby. 'I am American and I am sorry', was all she could muster. 'La, La,' (No, no) said the woman: "It is not you, you are not your government...."
Three days before the Shelter bombing, Dick Cheney, now Vice President and Colin Powell (designated 'dove' in a hawks' nest Administration) now Secretary of State, visited the US AIr base at Khamis Mushat (slogan: 'bombs are us' and 'we live so others may die') After a pep talk to troops, they both signed two thousand pound bombs: 'To Saddam with fond regards', wrote Cheney. After the bombing, frantic calls were made from the Pentagon to confirm the bombs dropped were not those inscribed.... When this writer asked a US General whether it was coincidental that Ameriyah was bombed on the anniversary of the fire bombing of Dresden, the great Muslim Feast of Eid Al Fitr and only hours before St St Valentine's Day, he responded: 'Kinda neat, eh?'

Daniel Ellsberg draws on his Vietnam experience to ask: Where are Iraq's Pentagon papers?

There are surely drawers full of documents in Washington right now -- the Pentagon Papers of Iraq -- that, if leaked in bulk, would drastically alter the public discourse on whether we should have sent our children to kill and to die in Iraq, and more urgently, whether we should continue to do so. I urge patriotic and conscientious Americans who have access to these documents, and who know it is wrong for their bosses to lie to the public about why we are in this war, to consider doing what I wish I had done in 1964 or early 1965, years earlier than I did: Go to Congress and the press; tell the truth, with documents. The personal risks are real, but a war's worth of lives are at stake.

The Spoils! Washington war allies angry about being excluded from spoils:

Why? Officials: U.S. still paying millions to group that provided false Iraqi intelligence. The INC was also given $3.1 million in April, 2003. This is how democracy is built? Provide millions for exiles with no support inside the country.

Severe climate change affecting much of humanity may be upon us. Wouldn't it be wise to do something about it? Perhaps the US government should have higher priorities than aiding the oil companies? Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us and another account: Secretive Pentagon Forecasts Climate Wars. The first account appears to have been published in Fortune: The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare: The climate could change radically, and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues. The actual report, which clearly is a worst-case scenario rather than a prediction as some article suggest, is now available at: An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security. Also see the Knight-Ridder article,posted on Common Dreams with references to other reports at the end: Dramatic Climate Change Could Become Global Security Nightmare [Or go to the Cited Reports below:]. Cited Reports:
For the study "An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security," go to the following Web site: http://www.ems.org/climate/pentagon_climate_change.pdf For information on the mechanics of abrupt climate change, go to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Web site at: http://www.whoi.edu/institutes/occi/currenttopics/ct_abruptclimate.htm For the National Academies of Sciences' 2002 study Abrupt Climate Changes: Inevitable Surprises, go to: http://www.nap.edu/books/0309074347/html/ For Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall at Global Business Networks, go to the GBN Web site at: http://www.gbn.com/. See also the excellent commentary by Tom Engelhardt: And now for something really dangerous.

[Now the Pentagon:] A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The South African ANC is implicated among those with cozy deals with Saddam's Iraq: Shady Iraq oil deals: The ANC connection: Top brass flew to Baghdad with publicity-shy empowerment businessman.

More anti-Bush fun: The Idiot Son of an Asshole

Chalabi as much as admits lying in pre-war intelligence given to the US (and accepted uncritically by the US): Chalabi stands by faulty intelligence that toppled Saddam's regime. See also the analysis by Jim Lobe: Chalabi, Garner Provide New Clues to War.

[Chalabi stands...: Mr Chalabi ... shrugged off charges that he had deliberately misled US intelligence. "We are heroes in error," he told the Telegraph in Baghdad. "As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants."
[Chalabi, Garner ...:] It appears that Chalabi, whose family, it was reported this week, has extensive interests in a company that has already been awarded more than 400 million dollars in reconstruction contracts, is signaling his willingness to take all of the blame, or credit, for the faulty intelligence.

Meanwhile, Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner starts telling (part of) the truth about US motives: Former Iraq administrator sees decades-long U.S. military presence. See also the Jim Loeb analysis referred to above [Chalabi, Garner Provide New Clues to War]. For a good sense of what what Iraqis have to look forward to see this account of what was involved in establishing those US bases in the Philippines: History Lesions.

[Former Iraq administrator:] Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, the former interim administrator of post-conflict reconstruction efforts in Iraq, said Thursday that a U.S. military presence in Iraq should last "the next few decades," but questioned the mix of forces already there and current plans to reconfigure the armed forces as a whole.... Asked how long U.S. forces should remain in Iraq, Garner said, "I hope they're there a long time."
"I think one of the most important things we can do right now is start getting basing rights" in both northern and southern Iraq, Garner said, adding that such bases could provide large areas for military training. "I think we'd want to keep at least a brigade in the north, a self-sustaining brigade, which is larger than a regular brigade," he added.
Noting how establishing U.S. naval bases in the Philippines in the early 1900s allowed the United States to maintain a "great presence in the Pacific," Garner said, "To me that's what Iraq is for the next few decades. We ought to have something there ... that gives us great presence in the Middle East. I think that's going to be necessary."
[Chalabi, garner ...] If indeed Garner's understanding represents the thinking of his former bosses, then the ongoing struggle between Cheney and the Pentagon on the one hand and the State Department on the other over how much control Washington is willing to give the United Nations over the transition to Iraqi rule becomes more comprehensible. Ceding too much control, particularly before a base agreement can be reached with whatever Iraqi authority will take over Jun. 30, will make permanent US bases much less likely.

Yet another pre-war US lie, to the UN weapons inspectors and to congress, revealed: C.I.A. Admits It Didn't Give Weapon Data to the U.N..

The Central Intelligence Agency has acknowledged that it did not provide the United Nations with information about 21 of the 105 sites in Iraq singled out by U.S. intelligence before the war as the most highly suspected of housing illicit weapons....
The contradiction is significant because Congressional opponents of the war were arguing a year ago that the United Nations inspectors should be given more time to complete their search before the United States and its allies began the invasion. The White House, bolstered by Mr. Tenet, insisted that it was fully cooperating with the inspectors, and at daily briefings the White House issued assurances that the administration was providing the inspectors with the best information possible....
The acknowledgment by the agency came after more than a year of questions from Senator Levin. He said he believed that the Bush administration had withheld the information because it wanted to persuade the American people that the United Nations-led hunt for weapons in Iraq had run its full course before the war.

A follow-up interview with Jane Mayer about her recent New Yorker piece on Dick Cheney: The Vice-President and the Contractor.

One striking detail in your article is that, if not for private contractors, the U.S. might need to have more than twice as many troops in Iraq. Are we headed for a privatized military?
When private, for-profit companies become such a big part of America’s military might, a growing portion of the U.S. budget falls outside the public scrutiny that would normally exist if the same functions were performed by civil servants. Private military contractors aren’t necessarily subject to the Freedom of Information Act, nor are they governed by federal government-ethics rules. So there is less openness and accountability. One Democratic congresswoman told me she worries that this will lead to “secret wars.”

Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi doesn't let the west off the hook: Nobel Winner: Saddam's Western Supporters Share Blame.

"They help Saddam, they supply him with chemical weapons so that he can bomb the Iranian population and the part of Iraq inhabited by the Kurds, and the next day they attack Iraq, accusing the nation of having chemical weapons," she said. "Saddam would never have been able to obtain such a dangerous arsenal without the support of certain Western governments," she said. "Now that the time has come to put the aggressors on trial it is not only Saddam, but also those who supported him who must answer to human conscience and worldwide public opinion."

More questions about how Bush got into the National Guard: George and the Guard: The real question is how did the young man with marginal test scores get the plum wartime assignment and Bush's driving records disclosed: Despite no record of waiver, traffic tickets didn't keep him out of Guard.

[George and the Guard:] But there’s something about the risk of perjury in federal court that focuses the mind on the truth. In 1999, the former Democratic speaker of the House who secured Bush’s spot in the Texas Air National Guard was a witness in a lawsuit involving two seemingly unrelated subjects: the Texas lottery and George W. Bush’s military service. The story the former Texas politician told doesn’t square with what Bush père et fils told reporters at the same time. But neither of the Bushes told his version of the story under oath after a hard-ass federal judge (who recently jailed a former Democratic attorney general for lying in his courtroom) ordered a deposition.
So in 1999, as George W. Bush was running for president, Barnes and the Bush military record were going to court. Barnes told his story in a five-hour deposition and then told the reporters what he had told the court. As speaker of the Texas House, he would sometimes find slots in the National Guard for the fortunate sons of friends and supporters. It had already been reported that two of his aides would take the names of the lucky young men who won the legislative lottery over to the commandant of the Guard, who would find space for them. In 1969, a Houston oil-service company executive called on Barnes and asked him to get George W. Bush into the National Guard....
“The Bushies got to Barnes first,” an Austin political consultant told me at the time. Barnes put Evans’ fears to rest, and Governor Bush personally thanked the former speaker: “Dear Ben: Don Evans reported your conversation. Thank you for your candor and for killing the rumor about you and dad ever discussing my status. Like you, he never remembered any conversation. I appreciate your help.” (The simple syntax in the September 1998 note obtained by The Washington Post is signature-mark G.W. Bush.)
So this is what we’re supposed to swallow: A close friend of the Bush family took it upon himself to get G.W. Bush a billet in the Air National Guard. A Democratic House Speaker who had nothing to gain from helping a two-term Republican from Houston did so because it was the right thing to do — while he was, in the Wild West of campaign finance, raising money to run for statewide office. And the younger Bush, after scoring the absolute minimum on his flight test, was moved to the top of the recruiter’s list by Guard officers who recognized his potential as a flyer. If you buy that, then you’ll buy my Enron stock.
[Driving records:] The traffic violations are significant in the context of Bush's military career. At the time Bush enlisted in the Texas National Guard, the Air Force typically would have had to issue a waiver for an applicant who had multiple arrests or driving violations. An officer who served at the same time as the president, former Texas Air National Guard pilot Dean Roome, was required by the Air Force to get a waiver for a $25 speeding ticket when he enlisted in the Air National Guard in 1967. There is no record of an enlistment waiver in Bush's military file.

An interview with former Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Karen, a lifelong conservative, whose experience inside the Pentagon convinced her the country is undergoing a coup: Soldier for the Truth:Exposing Bush’s talking-points war.

I can give you one clear example where we were told to follow the party line, where I was told directly. I worked North Africa, which included Libya. I remember in one case, I had to rewrite something a number of times before it went through. It was a background paper on Libya, and Libya has been working for years to try and regain the respect of the international community. I had intelligence that told me this, and I quoted from the intelligence, but they made me go back and change it and change it. They’d make me delete the quotes from intelligence so they could present their case on Libya in a way that said it was still a threat to its neighbors and that Libya was still a belligerent, antagonistic force. They edited my reports in that way. In fact, the last report I made, they said, “Just send me the file.” And I don’t know what the report ended up looking like, because I imagine more changes were made.

Future horrors being planned today! Space integrates air forces to win wars and French expert sees imminent space warfare. I more and more am convinced that we either abandon war or abandon life!

(Technology) shortened the kill chain,” General Lord said.

Fair's fair. Oops, this is isn't in the US interests: African advocates to U.S.: Reduce our debt like Iraq's: Africa advocates want the Bush administration to work as hard on reducing that continent's foreign debt as it did jawboning countries to forgive much of Iraq's.

Naomi Klein writes of the dangers of opposition to the war as pop therapy, rather than as a desire to protect the Iraqis: Missing in action in Iraq: Americans hear about their 500 dead soldiers. What about the 10,000 dead Iraqi civilians?.

It was Mary Vargas, a 44-year-old engineer in Renton, Wash., who carried U.S. therapy culture to its new zenith. Explaining why the war in Iraq was no longer her top election issue, she told the Internet magazine Salon that, "when they didn't find the weapons of mass destruction, I felt I could also focus on other things. I got validated." Yes, that's right: war opposition as self-help. The end goal is not to seek justice for the victims, or punishment for the aggressors, but rather "validation" for the war's critics. Once validated, it is of course time to reach for the talisman of self-help: "closure...."
All of the front-runners in the Democratic race borrow the language of pop therapy to discuss the war and the toll it has taken not on Iraq, a country so absent from their campaigns it may as well be on another planet, but on the American people themselves. To hear John Kerry, John Edwards and Howard Dean tell it, the invasion was less a war of aggression against a sovereign nation than a civil war within the United States, a traumatic event that severed Americans from their faith in politicians, from their rightful place in the world and from their tax dollars.

‘Military brat’ deplores Iraq war, questions stories about Saddam’s lions

Well, I am a military brat; I have friends in combat, many of whom may never be attending high school reunions with me (and we just got out of high school a year ago). I have seen my father go off to war. I am constantly afraid that I am going to get a call in the middle of the night from a sobbing friend saying that she has lost either a sibling or a parent, whom I no doubt knew. And you know what? I oppose the war vehemently. I am more patriotic than most of these post-9/11 wannabe patriots or militaristically indoctrinated soldiers (but ironically, I have the utmost respect and admiration for military personnel; they are the true American heroes).

Bush continues sinking in polls: New poll boost for Democrats.

John Edwards of North Carolina and John Kerry of Massachusetts both held up leads of 10% or more among likely voters in a Gallup poll commissioned jointly by CNN and the USA Today newspaper. 55% said they would choose Mr Kerry over Mr Bush, who drew the support of 43% of those questioned. Mr Edwards led the president 54% to 44%. The survey marks the first time Mr Edwards, a former trial lawyer, has beaten Mr Bush in an opinion poll.

Howard Zinn, a World War II veteran, reminds us of: The Ultimate Betrayal of those who fight, believing in the grandiose lies that they are fighting for freedom and democracy.

More witnesses come forward: BUSH A NO-SHOW AT ALABAMA BASE, SAYS MEMPHIAN: FedEx Pilot Bob Mintz, backed up by a Carolina colleague, recalls no Dubya at Dannelly AFB in 1972.

Two members of the Air National Guard unit that President George W. Bush allegedly served with as a young Guard flyer in 1972 had been told to expect him and were on the lookout for him. He never showed, however; of that both Bob Mintz and Paul Bishop are certain....
“There’s no way we wouldn’t have noticed a strange rooster in the henhouse, especially since we were looking for him,” insists Mintz, who has pored over documents relating to the matter now making their way around the Internet. One of these is a piece of correspondence addressed to the 187th’s commanding officer, then Lt. Col. William Turnipseed, concerning Bush’s redeployment....
Mintz, who at one time was a registered Republican and in recent years has cast votes in presidential elections for independent Ross Perot and Democrat Al Gore, confesses to “a negative reaction” to what he sees as out-and-out dissembling on President Bush’s part. “You don’t do that as an officer, you don’t do that as a pilot, you don’t do it as an important person, and you don’t do it as a citizen. This guy’s got a lot of nerve....”
Though some accounts reckon the total personnel component of the 187th as consisting of several hundred, the actual flying squadron – that to which Bush was reassigned – numbered only “25 to 30 pilots,” Mintz said. “There’s no doubt. I would have heard of him, seen him, whatever....”
“I talked to one of my buddies the other day and asked if he could remember Bush at drill at any time, and he said, ‘Naw, ol’ George wasn’t there. And he wasn’t at the Pit, either.’”

Who would have guessed it! David Kay on the attack: Kay Says Bush Slowing Intelligence Reform.

Support for war, and for the warmaker, continues to drop: Most Think Truth Was Stretched to Justify Iraq War.

But the president's declining ratings related to Iraq were the most striking. Approval of his handling of the situation there has fallen to 47 percent, down 8 percentage points in the past three weeks. About half of Americans -- 51 percent -- said they would prefer a report evaluating the accuracy and use of prewar intelligence before the election, while 35 percent favor what Bush has ordered: a broader study of the overall accuracy of U.S. intelligence-gathering operations that will report its findings after the election.
While 21 percent said they believe that Bush lied about the threat posed by Iraq, a larger number -- 31 percent -- thought he exaggerated but did not lie. Indeed, six in 10 Americans believed, as Bush did, that Iraq had such weapons.

The scandal regarding Bush's (missing) National Guard duty continues. Refusal to release files, parsing sentence (when does "release all records" mean "release all record"?), destroyed files, required investigations that never happened. What administration does that sound like? Ex-officer: Bush file's details caused concern [USA Today] Move to Screen Bush File in 90's Is Reported [NYT]

[NYT:] A retired lieutenant colonel in the Texas National Guard complained to a member of the Texas Senate in 1998 that aides to Gov. George W. Bush improperly screened Mr. Bush's National Guard files in a search for information that could embarrass the governor in future elections.... n telephone interviews this week from his home near Abilene, Mr. Burkett, 55, a systems analyst with 27 years in the National Guard including service as deputy commandant of the New Mexico Military Academy, said he happened to be in General James' office at Camp Mabry in Austin in mid-1997 and overheard Mr. Allbaugh on a speakerphone telling General James that Mr. Bartlett and Karen P. Hughes, another aide to Governor Bush, would be coming to the Guard offices to review Mr. Bush's military files.... Mr. Burkett further said that about 10 days later he and another officer walked into the Camp Mabry military museum and saw the head of the museum, Gen. John Scribner, going through Mr. Bush's personnel records. Mr. Burkett said he saw a trash basket with discarded papers bearing Mr. Bush's name. Mr. Burkett said the papers appeared to be "retirement point certificates, pay documents, that sort of thing...." A retired officer, Lt. Col. Dennis Adams, said Mr. Burkett told him of the incidents shortly after they happened. "We talked about them several different times," said Mr. Adams, who spent 15 years in the Texas Guard and 12 years on active duty in the Army. He now works for the Texas Department of Public Safety as a security officer guarding the state Capitol.

Nothing else has worked, so now the CIA has instituted an: Iraqi Reward Program.

The U.S. Government offers rewards to Iraqis who give specific and verifiable information that helps Iraqis rid their country of these dangerous materials and devices. Rewards will be available for specific and verifiable information on:
  • The location of stocks of recently made chemical or biological weapons munitions, missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, or their component parts;
  • The location of chemical or biological laboratories and factories, development and production sites, and test sites associated with WMD, or sites where these materials were secretly disposed of;
  • Weapons system plans, military orders, or other relevant documents about biological and chemical weapons, missiles, or unmanned aerial vehicles;
  • Iraqis who are able and willing to provide detailed information on Iraq's WMD programs and efforts to hide them.

Must Read! (since I wrote it) My talk delivered at the Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice forum, "The Psychodynamics of Empire" Cambridge, MA, Feb. 6, 2004: Security, Terror, and the Psychodynamics of Empire (ZNet) is now on ZNet. It also posted on Information Clearinghouse. The talk examines the basis for popular support for our leaders' imperial ambitions. I'd like to thank both sites for posting it.

David Kay says there is no point in continuing looking for weapons that don't exist: David Kay: No point in searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

A good defense is a strong offense. Will the press back down, or will they continue to highlight White House lies and obfuscations? White House blasts 'gutter politics' on Bush military service.

McClellan said that the Pentagon has requested Bush's full personnel file and the White House expects to get a copy also. He said any new "relevant" information would be released but did not offer a definition of what he considered to meet that test and did not commit to releasing the entire file.
McClellan did not answer directly when asked if the administration would release any records dealing with possible disciplinary issues.

Must Read or Listen! Michael Moore challenges Bush's explanations about his National Guard service: An Open Letter from Michael Moore to George 'I'm a War President!' Bush And definitely read or listen to Feb. 10, 2004 Press Briefing by Scott McClellan in which White House spokesperson Scott McClellan systematically refused to answer virtually any direct questions. And, lying again: Bush Still Refuses To Release Military Documents.

[Bush Still Refuses:] release any and all documents related to whether he fulfilled his Vietnam-era National Guard duty. And yesterday, the White House claimed the documents it released fulfilled that Oval Office pledge. However, just hours after that declaration, White House communications director Dan Bartlett "confirmed that Bush's complete personnel file is being forwarded to Washington from an archive in Denver" but only "for review" by the White House - not necessarily release to the public.
Military experts said records like those being "reviewed" by the White House could definitively prove where Bush was, unlike those documents released yesterday, which do not. But records such as those being "reviewed" by the White House "cannot be released without Bush's authorization," a process that would simply require the president to sign release forms. To date "Bush has not consented, despite his claim that he made public all his records in 2000...."
The White House claimed the documents it released yesterday show "President Bush fulfilling his duties in the National Guard"6during Vietnam. However, the documents released actually showed that Bush "did not receive military pay from May to September of 1972" - a five month gap in service where Bush also "refused to take his annual physical and was grounded as a pilot." White House spokesman Scott McClellan refused to say whether Bush actually showed up for service, only saying that Bush was paid.

A Vietnam era National Guardsman takes on Bush's deceit about his service record: From Guardsman . . ..

Along with President Bush and countless other young men, I joined the National Guard, did my six months of active duty (basic training, etc.) and then returned to my home unit, where I eventually dropped from sight. In the end, just like President Bush, I got an honorable discharge. But unlike President Bush, I have just told the truth about my service. He hasn't.

A father of slain GI writes to Bush: Shaken father writes to president.

Now, President Bush, his life has been snuffed out in a meaningless war. Where are all the weapons of mass destruction, where are the stock piles of chemical and biological weapons? Please President, pray for all our fallen heroes and as a tribute to these heroes get our boys and girls out of Iraq now, before too much more blood is shed. Since you waged this unnecessary war on Saddam Hussein the world has become a horrible place to live in.

Republicans start criticizing Bush administration: Bush's Political Base Seems Restive, Anxious and Bill O'Reilly apologizes for spreading false information: Pundit O'Reilly Now Skeptical About Bush.

David Kay says WD panel should investigate White House spin, not just intelligence agencies, as Bush wants: Study of Rhetoric On Iraq Is Urged: Kay: Panel Should Check for Distortion.

If you're in a nasty mood, get the: Dishonest Dubya Action Figure. See also: Other Bush Stuff, including the Fake State of The Union

Make sure to vote on the AOL Bush Credibility Meter! Bush Credibility Meter! Before you vote, check out Kevin Phillips's summary of his new book: Bush Family Values: War, Wealth, Oil: Four generations have created an unsavory web of links that could prove an election-year Achilles' heel for the president and Paul Krugman's review of that book: The Wars of the Texas Succession.

A detailed account of Cheney's relations with Halliburton by Jane Mayer, from the New Yorker: What Did the Vice-President Do for Halliburton?

Hear no criticism, see no criticism. The Pentagon censors news about itself. No wonder they're so incompetent! Pentagon Clip Service's Clips Clipped.

Senior Pentagon managers have repeatedly ordered the department's widely read clipping service to exclude articles critical of the military and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, according to officials familiar with the practice. Staffers at the Early Bird, whose service is devoured by Pentagon brass, lawmakers, journalists and military personnel around the world, were told to eliminate all newsmagazine articles last October -- four days after the publication of a Newsweek cover story on Iraq that included "Rummy's New Headaches" and a Time piece titled "Is Rumsfeld Losing His Mojo?"

Here are quotes from the Public and Classified versions of the pre-war National Intelligence Estimate on WND. Note how all qualifiers and doubts were removed for public consumption: Public, classified versions of Iraq intelligence report differed.

David Corn points out that Tim Russert used kid gloves on George W. Bush, often not challenging his many lies and distortions: Beat the Press. And Greg Mitchell lists 10 Questions Russert Didn't Ask: The Missed Opportunities for Follow-ups.

At last, the New York Times takes Bush on directly, as this editorial on the Russert interview indicates: Mr. Bush's Version. Now where' the Times's mea culpa for its refusal to question administration lies when it really mattered, before the war?

The only clarity in the president's vision appears to be his own perfect sense of self-justification.

Speaking of Bush lies, how about the one that he's cooperating with the 9/11 Commission: The White House: A New Fight Over Secret 9/11 Docs. At least he won't have these troubles with the stacked WMD Commission.

Commission sources tell NEWSWEEK that panel members are fed up with what one calls "maddening" restrictions by White House lawyers on their access to key documents. Unless the panel gets to see the docs, the report "will not withstand the laugh test," a commission official says....
The four-member team asked to look at 360 PDBs [presidential daily briefs] dating back to 1998; White House counsel Alberto Gonzales permitted them to see just 24, arguing that only those that specifically mentioned possible domestic attacks or airplane hijackings were relevant.

Eric Margolis uses his letters from readers to elucidate: The real voice of America: Torrents of mail poured in from the U.S. condemning the Bush administration

Scott Ritter uses his personal experience to demonstrate that: Kerry, Too, Needs to Clear the Air.

During a visit to Washington in April 2000, when I lobbied senators and representatives for a full review of American policy regarding Iraq, I spoke with John Kerry about what I held to be the hyped-up intelligence regarding the threat posed by Iraq's WMD. "Put it in writing," Kerry told me, "and send it to me so I can review what you're saying in detail." I did just that, penning a comprehensive article for Arms Control Today, the journal of the Arms Control Association, on the "Case for the Qualitative Disarmament of Iraq." This article, published in June 2000, provided a detailed breakdown of Iraq's WMD capability and made a comprehensive case that Iraq did not pose an imminent threat. I asked the Arms Control Association to send several copies to Sen. Kerry's office but, just to make sure, I sent him one myself. I never heard back from the senator.
Two years later, in the buildup toward war that took place in the summer of 2002, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on which Kerry sits, convened a hearing on Iraq. At that hearing a parade of witnesses appeared, testifying to the existence of WMD in Iraq. Featured prominently was Khidir Hamza, the self-proclaimed "bombmaker to Saddam," who gave stirring first-hand testimony to the existence of not only nuclear weapons capability, but also chemical and biological weapons as well. Every word of Hamza's testimony has since been proved false. Despite receiving thousands of phone calls, letters and e-mails demanding that dissenting expert opinion, including my own, be aired at the hearing, Sen. Kerry apparently did nothing, allowing a sham hearing to conclude with the finding that there was "no doubt" Saddam Hussein had WMD....
But John Kerry seems to share in this culpability, and if he wants to be the next president of the United States, he must first convince the American people that his actions somehow differ from those of the man he seeks to replace.

US used evidence from known liar in pre-war "evidence". I wonder why? Agency: Iraqi defector made up weapons report.

An Iraqi military defector identified as a fabricator by the Defense Intelligence Agency provided some of the information that went into U.S. intelligence estimates that Iraq had stockpiles of biological weapons at the time of the American invasion last March, senior government officials said Friday.

Michael Massing, in the New York Review of Books reminds us in detail that US lies and deception were only possible because a subservient press chose to ignore or pooh pooh all doubts and silence the numerous critics of the administrations claims: Now They Tell Us.

[About Secretary of State Powell's UN speech] The next day's New York Times carried three front-page articles on Powell's speech, all of them glowing. His presentation took "the form of a nearly encyclopedic catalog that reached further than many had expected," wrote Steven Weisman. According to Patrick Tyler, an "intelligence breakthrough" had made it possible for Powell "to set forth the first evidence of what he said was a well developed cell of Al Qaeda operating out of Baghdad." The speech, he wrote, was "a more detailed and well-documented bill of particulars than many had expected."
The Washington Post was no less positive. "Data on Efforts to Hide Arms Called 'Strong Suit of Speech'" went one headline. "Agency Coordination Helps Yield Details on Al Qaeda 'Associate'" went another. In an editorial titled "Irrefutable," the paper asserted that, after Powell's performance, "it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction." The Op-Ed page ran four pieces about the speech—all of them full of praise. "An Old Trooper's Smoking Gun," stated the headline atop Jim Hoagland's column. Even the normally skeptical Mary McGrory pitched in with a favorable assessment, headlined, "I'm Persuaded...."
The contrast between the press's feistiness since the end of the war and its meekness before it highlights one of the most entrenched and disturbing features of American journalism: its pack mentality. Editors and reporters don't like to diverge too sharply from what everyone else is writing. When a president is popular and a consensus prevails, journalists shrink from challenging him. Even now, papers like the Times and the Post seem loath to give prominent play to stories that make the administration look too bad. Thus, stories about the increasing numbers of dead and wounded in Iraq —both American and Iraqi—are usually consigned to page 10 or 12, where they won't cause readers too much discomfort.

Scott Ritter, UN Chief Inspector in Iraq from 1991-1998, analyzes how the claim of absolute evil for Saddam Hussein closes down rational thought: Confronting the Theocracy of Evil. While interesting, Ritter doesn't carry the analysis far enough to figure out what made Saddam the epitome of absolute evil. It certainly wasn't his torturing and gassing his own people, as many of the same US officials aided him in those endeavors. And the same officials regularly praise dictators from around the world as "friends of freedom and democracy." It certainly wasn't his launching wars against others, as the US (and many of the people in power now) aided his war against Iran. Ritter doesn't carry the argument to its conclusion that "absolute evil" means getting in the way of perceived US interests. Saddam's only crime was not listening to orders.

I had come face to face with a phenomenon I have come to describe as the 'theocracy of evil.' Going beyond mere political ideology, the theocracy of evil encompasses a faith-based value system that embraces a simplistic 'good versus evil' opposition. If Saddam is evil, such thinking holds, then evil must be confronted, and such niceties as fact and fact-based logic no longer apply. As such, WMD became simply an enabling issue – something designed to focus the attention of the public while those in charge pursued the broader agenda of confronting evil.

Whitewash? Read this analysis of the WMD commission. No subpoena power, the heads of federal agencies get to release whatever they claim is relevant, no mandate to look at how the politicians skewed or used the intelligence: Well, the fix, as they say, is in. Further points: there is no guarantee that the "report" will be made public, (long after the election, of course). Its headed by a right wing nut who accused President Clinton of declaring "war on America" for defending himself against Kenneth Starr. Another senior member (Senator McCain) has already declared that President Bush would never skew intelligence for political purposes, unlike what the Democrats do; he is actively campaigning for Bush at the same time he is potentially examining him. The only question: Why are several Democrats willing to sit on the Whitewash Commission?

Recent answers by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan provide a beautiful example of continuing the deliberate attempt to link the Iraq war and Sept. 11: A tough time kicking the 9/11 habit?

Bush continues selling the big lie. The text of his interview by Tim Russert on Meet the Press: George Bush on 'Meet The Press' (8 Feb 04) and the CNN account: Bush defends Iraq war in TV interview. It looks like he wasn't asked any tough questions.

For the parents of the soldiers who have fallen who are listening, David Kay, the weapons inspector, came back and said, in many ways Iraq was more dangerous than we thought," Bush said. "We are in a war against these terrorists who could bring great harm to America, and I've asked these young ones to sacrifice for that."
Kay, the former chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month that "we were all wrong, probably, in my judgment," about whether Saddam Hussein had chemical or biological weapons....
I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind. Again, I wish it wasn't true, but it is true. And the American people need to know they got a president who sees the world the way it is. And I see dangers that exist, and it's important for us to deal with them.

Maybe Powell isn't up to the job. Maintaining a straight face while lying day and day can be tough: Powell says Iraq arms furor gets on his nerves.

Former weapons inspector: Blix Says Blair Govt "Dramatized" Some Iraq Evidence

A fabulous resource! This site contains a selection of the 19,000 documents given to former Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill, many of which became the basis for the recent book The Price of Loyalty: An Experiment in Transparency. In particular, check out Page 83 - First Week's Plans For Iraqi Takeover (22 pages). Scroll down to the last page which is the Briefing for Secretary O'Neill for the NSC [National Security Council] meeting of Jan 31, 2001 [the first meeting of the new administration], which has five attachments on Iraq, NONE on Al Quaeda.

Karen Kwiatkowski comments on the latest WMD commission farce and analyzes The Trouble With Handpicked Councils, both at home and abroad.

Mr. Bush’s tendency to try to solve problems by enlisting his friends into even higher places is fine, but perhaps we can learn a thing or two about how to respond from our new friends, the Iraqis. Iraqis recognize a handpicked council of stooges when they see it. They understand that the council the Bush Administration selected for them has the power to do only what the stooge-pickers want, and no power to resolve core issues important to the rest of the people.
Their reaction has been, unlike our national reactions to similar stooge operations out of Washington, somewhat effective. They have loudly exclaimed their dissatisfaction in the street, in their communities and in their media. Some have made sure that the United States stooges are unable to travel freely throughout the country, and that they are forced to maintain expensive private or military security. They have rallied to their own homegrown leadership, emerging from existing familial, ethnic or religious groups, or from the dynamic of community meritocracy that chaos fosters....
A future in Baghdad after America grants "elections" and "sovereignty" must be worrisome for members of the IGC. Most will have to go back into exile, maybe forever. The IGC is worried about their future. It is a sign of the quiet success of democracy in Iraq and a movement toward accountability in government....
Junior Bush, impatient to prove not only that he is not his father, but better than him too, would have us believe that he liberated Iraqis. But what Mr. Bush and the whole neoconservative/imperial foreign policy designers don’t understand is that the Iraqis will liberate themselves. They are doing it every single day.... Perhaps in taking back their country, Iraqis will show Americans how to do it here.

Whitewash? The man, John McCain, who is supposed to guarantee the new WMD commission is "independent" has pronounced his verdict before hearing any evidence: Bush Did Not Manipulate Iraq Intelligence - McCain. Meanwhile, the Co-Chair of Bush Iraq Panel Part of Neocon Network. He appears to have a history of unsavory, possibly treasonous, activity.

[McCain:] "The president of the United States, I believe, did not manipulate any kind of information for political gain or otherwise," the Republican senator told reporters on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich, Germany.
[Co-chair:] Federal appeals court Judge Laurence Silberman, who will share the chairmanship with former Virginia Democratic Senator Charles Robb, also has some history in covert operations. In 1980, when he served as part of former Republican president Ronald Reagan's senior campaign staff, he played a key role in setting up secret contacts between the Reagan-Bush campaign and the Islamic government in Tehran, in what became known as the "October Surprise" controversy....
Rewarded with his appeals court judgeship several years later, Silberman helped advise right-wing activists during the 1990s on strategies for pursuing allegations of sexual misconduct by then-Democratic president Bill Clinton, according to various accounts....
He [Bush] also appeared to limit the commission's mandate to study only the mistakes made by the intelligence community in assessing Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs....
Yet, Bush's appointments surprised several observers by their ideological diversity and reputations for independence. "Overall, this is a much more professional, much more balanced group than I expected," said Mel Goodman, a former top Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst, who has frequently charged the administration with distorting and exaggerating the intelligence on Iraq....
[About Judge Laurence Silberman:] "A consummate Washington insider for more than two decades," Brock wrote, "Larry would often preface his advice to me with the wry demurrer that judges shouldn't get involved in politics – 'that would be improper,' he'd say – and then go ahead anyway." "He was a behind-the-scenes adviser to the conservative editors of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and he delighted his conservative audiences with his acid critiques of the liberal press," added Brock. Silberman has also reportedly been known as aggressive and sometimes abusive, even in his written opinions. He once accused Clinton of "declaring war on the United States" by permitting his aides to attack Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr in the Whitewater case, while, during an argument with another appeals court judge, he is reported to have said, "if you were 10 years younger, I'd be tempted to punch you in the nose."
But it is his role in the 1980 election that is perhaps most intriguing about Silberman's appointment. He is alleged to have set up and participated in a mysterious meeting in Washington on Oct. 2, 1980 – one month before the election – with Reagan's top foreign policy adviser, then-Marine Lieutenant Colonel Robert McFarlane (Reagan's national security adviser during the Iran-Contra scandal), and at least one Iranian arms dealer. It was the culmination of a series of secret meetings – never reported to the U.S. government – between Reagan campaign officials and Iranians who purported to represent the government of the Ayatollah Khomeini. The precise purpose of those meetings has never been resolved, but one school of thought, propounded most effectively in the early 1980s by Carter's top National Security Council adviser on Iran, was that the Republican campaign was trying to ensure that Tehran would not make a deal with Carter to release US Embassy hostages who were being held in Iran until after the November elections.... [Hence my "potentially treasonous" comment.] Several years later, Silberman cast the deciding vote on a three-judge panel in a decision that resulted in dismissing the criminal convictions of Admiral John Poindexter and Lt. Col. Oliver North for lying to Congress in connection with the scandal.

Tony Blair in trouble: After Hutton, the verdict: 51 per cent say Blair should go.

The NOP poll, conducted this week, shows that 51 per cent want the Prime Minister to quit and 54 per cent believe he lied to the nation over the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. It also shows the Tories are ahead of Labour in popularity. The Conservatives are on 36 per cent, with Labour on 35 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on 24 per cent. The depth of public disillusion with Mr Blair is highlighted in another finding. When asked about the new inquiry into the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, some 68 per cent believe it will be a "whitewash", while just 23 per cent believe it will be a "genuine attempt to find the truth". When asked "Given what you know now, do you think Tony Blair lied to the nation over the threat posed by Iraq?" 54 per cent responded "yes" and 31 per cent said "no"

Former weapons inspector Scott Ritter punctures David Kay's biggest lie: Not Everyone Got it Wrong on Iraq's Weapons while ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern points out that recent talk is: Still Smoke and Mirrors.

[Ray McGovern] What all should know is that the Bush administration’s decision for war against Iraq came well before any intelligence estimate. There is ample evidence that that decision was made, at the latest, by spring 2002. That there was no NIE before that speaks volumes. During my 27 years of service as a CIA analyst, never was a foreign policy decision of that magnitude made without FIRST commissioning a National Intelligence Estimate.... There was no NIE because Tenet realized that an honest one would show how little the intelligence community knew about the threat from Iraq and would hardly support a case for war.
n other words, the purpose of the estimate was not to inform an (already reached) decision on whether war was necessary. Rather, it was to enlist intelligence in the campaign to deceive Congress into thinking that Iraq posed such a threat that the legislative branch’s prerogative must be surrendered to the president, and—not incidentally—to make so persuasive a case to the nation that those who dared vote against the president would be highly vulnerable in the mid-term election of 2002.

Paul Krugman continues his attack on the Bush administrations tendency to lie any time they think they can get away with it, which is most of the time: Get Me Rewrite!

New polls show: Support for War in Iraq Drops: Public evenly divided on whether war was worthwhile while a another AP Poll Notes Decline in Support for Bush.

[Support for War:] The poll, conducted Jan. 29-Feb. 1, finds 49% of Americans saying the war was worth it, and 49% saying it was not.
[AP:] And for the first time, more voters in this poll's two years of tracking the question said they would definitely vote against Bush than said they would definitely vote for him. Bush's approval rating stood at 47 percent in the AP-Ipsos poll taken in early February, down from 56 percent approval just a month ago. Half, or 50 percent, said they disapproved in the latest poll.... Just under four in 10, 37 percent, said they would definitely vote to re-elect Bush as president, while 43 percent said they would definitely vote for someone else, according to the poll conducted for the AP by Ipsos-Public Affairs. Another 18 percent said they would consider voting for someone else.... Public approval of Bush's handling of the economy dipped to 44 percent, down from 53 percent in early January.
Democrats are now as intensely opposed to Bush as Republicans are intensely supporting him. By a 2-1 margin, political independents were more likely to say they would definitely vote against him than definitely support him. "I think he's run the country into the ground economically, and he comes out with these crazy ideas like going to Mars and going to the moon," said Richard Bidlack, a 78-year-old retiree from Boonton, N.J., who says he voted for Bush in 2000. "I'm so upset at Bush, I'll vote for a chimpanzee before I vote for him."

Blair criticized for saying he didn't know crucial intelligence information before the war: Ex-defence secretary blasts Blair. You know he's in trouble when a man as smart as Blair feels ignorance is the best defense!

John Pilger demystifies the BBC myth: BBC Machinations.

Bush appoints WMD panel: Bush names members of commission to investigate intelligence failures.

Members of Cheney's staff are under investigation for leaking CIA agent Valerie Plame's name to the media: Cheney's Staff Focus of Probe.

David Kay now admits the White House may have cherry picked prewar intelligence: Kay queries White House war talk.

The White House may have ignored some aspects of intelligence on Iraq in the run-up to war, former chief US weapons inspector David Kay has suggested.

Chalmers Johnson has a A Modest Proposal: appoint a commission of crack investigative journalists.

Blair admits ignorance: Blair admits ignorance on WMD; Tenet tries to protect his, and the CIA's reputation CIA Boss: Iraq Not Called Imminent Threat; and Rumsfeld, distortion: Rumsfeld:2002 Iraq WMD Remark May Have Been Misleading. Perhaps these guys can start a course on "lying with a straight face".

Jim Lobe remind us, all the hype about how "current foreign policy is "unprecedented" aside: US Policy of Preemption is Nothing New.

It seems the British government now admits it knew there wasn't much of a threat from Iraqi WMD: Intelligence assessment queried danger from Saddam's weapons.

secret intelligence assessment issued immediately before Britain invaded Iraq indicated that Saddam Hussein's weapons posed much less of a threat than its published dossier implied, the government has admitted. It has also admitted that intelligence on any chemical and biological weapons Iraq might have deployed was "sparse".

How did the greater terrorist bombing of 2009 occur? We need to know! Who was to blame? Timothy Garton Ash welcomes an independent inquiry into the Paris bombing of 2009 .

At last, we have the inquiry we need: a full, independent inquiry into the Paris bombing of 2009.... The inquiry of the Annan commission must be rigorous, impartial and international. It must have the full cooperation of all the intelligence services involved, especially since their own earlier failure to cooperate with each other seems to have been one reason the attack was not prevented. President Hillary Clinton of the United States and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France were right to say, in their joint statement, that history will not forgive us if we leave any stone unturned.

Andy Borowitz reports David Kay's explanation of the WMD error: The biggest Intel goof ever, Kay tells Senate.

Intercepted chatter that the Central Intelligence Agency thought was about Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was actually about hairstyling wizard Vidal Sassoon, former weapons inspector David Kay told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.

Whitewash? In his latest TomDispatch, Tom Engelhardt analyzes the "intelligence" commission about to be reported, and its likely whitewash: Daddy's Boys.

Actually, as far as I'm concerned, the wrong trait is being investigated. There should be a genuinely independent commission to investigate not "intelligence" but "arrogance." I've long said that this administration has been staffed by utopian (or, depending on your druthers, dystopian) dreamers intent on remaking a recalcitrant world in their own image. (It's what Marxists were always accused of.) They were going to control the planet. What was a little cherry-picked intelligence from the perspective of transforming the world? Now, of course, "intelligence" matters, and we're going to act as if all this is serious, but hey, I'm planning to be amused.

The US Army says its victory wasn't so stunning: US war machine nearly fell apart, army reveals.

Abul Hasan al-Mqawtir argues the radical idea that decisions about the Iraqi economy should be made by Iraqis: Fleecing Iraq.

James Carroll claims that Democratic critics of Bush are wrongly focusing on what led to the war, rather than on what should be done now: The Awful Truth About Iraq.

Such is the climate of chaos that the Bush aggression has created that there is no clear way forward, and bad things are going to happen in Iraq -- no matter what Washington does now. Such unhappy news can sink the politician who dares admit it. Better to advance the conventional wisdom that, however mistaken the origins of this conflict, there is no choice now but to "see it through" -- if only to "support the troops." Bush critics suggest that coalition forces need to be more fully "internationalized," but otherwise most seem to accept an open-ended US occupation of Iraq. We broke it; we have to fix it....
Some American leader, in profound repentance, must acknowledge the awful truth to those families: "Your sons and daughters died for a mistake." Only such truth-telling at home will make possible what must be done immediately in Iraq. If our getting into the unnecessary war was wrong, our carrying it on is wrong. The US military presence in Iraq, no matter how intended, has itself become the affront around which opposition fighters are organizing themselves.

A European view of American values, as seen during the Super Bowl halftime show: Protecting the Purity of American Children or What Exactly is Obscene?

Many European parents think on the other hand that their children might get damaged by violence on TV or in computer games, they might get damaged growing up in a world full of aggression and injustice, they might get damaged in a world where the poor are left to die.
So right now a lot of us are somewhat bewildered: What do American adults expect t happen when a child sees a naked breast? What kind of terrible damage are they afraid of? What incredible unspeakable trauma will occur which surely must outdo everything else an American child is subjected to in his or her life?
That they might one day find a female breast more interesting than waving their flag maybe?

British WMD expert Brian Jones says the experts were overruled: Brian Jones: 'There was a lack of substantive evidence... We were told there was intelligence we could not see' and the article:

If you feel in a nasty mood, view, the MoveOn parody: Bush in 41.2 Seconds and read the creators comments: "Don't be an asshole, vote Democratic": The creator of the MoveOn parody ad "Bush in 41.2 Seconds" discusses the Republican reaction to his accidental meme.

Whitewash? I was wrong yesterday. The Democrats seem to be attacking the way the WMD investigatory panel is designed to whiteswash, after the election, when it can't affect votes: Bush widens probe of intelligence flaws. See also: Iraq intelligence efforts led by Cheney magnified errors, officials say and Jim Lobe's analysis WMD-gate: Bush Wants to Scapegoat CIA.

[bush widen:] Top Congressional Democrats attacked the plan, arguing that such an investigation would not be independent and would not look into allegations that the White House misled the public about Iraq's weapons program.
[Iraq ... Chenye:] The officials said they feared that Bush, gearing up his fight for re-election, would try to limit the inquiry's scope to the CIA and other agencies, and ignore the key role the administration's own internal intelligence efforts played in making the case for war....
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, didn't dispute that the CIA failed to accurately assess the state of Iraq's weapons programs. But they said that the intelligence efforts led by Cheney magnified the errors through exaggeration, oversights and mistaken deductions.... Some of the disputed findings were presented as facts to Americans as Bush drummed up his case for war....
"One of the major questions that needs to be addressed is whether senior administration officials ... misled the Congress and the public about the nature of the threat from Iraq. Even some of your own statements and those of Vice President Cheney need independent scrutiny. A commission appointed and controlled by the White House will not have the independence or credibility necessary to investigate these issues," Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D., S.D.) and four other senior Democrats wrote in a letter to Bush.

Whitewash? Blair also launches a whitewash commission: Blair Calls Iraq WMD Inquiry; Opponents Cry Foul and Lord Butler, old-style insider leads Iraq probe and John Pilger's analysis: Blair's Mass Deception.

[Lord Butler:] Decades of experience in Whitehall -- the engine room of British government operations -- mark Lord Robin Butler out firmly as a man of the establishment. And his old-school style sets him apart from Blair's new Labour government.

Support for the war drops 15% in 4 weeks: Disapproval of Bush's Iraq policy rises sharply: poll.

The new survey showed that 46 percent approved of the president's performance on Iraq, down from 61 percent four weeks earlier. The disapproval rate rose from 36 to 53 percent. For the first time in the USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, less than half of those interviewed thought it was worth going to war in Iraq to oust the dictator Saddam Hussein.

The military takes global warming seriously. They're planning to fight off the rest of the world: Pentagon Goes Crazy for Massive Climate Change.

Given that President Bush will name all the members, we an already describe the report to be issued after the elections by the commission that will investigate intelligence failures -- Whitewash. One would think the "opposition party" would denounce it: Bush to Pick Panel for WMD Inquiry, Official Says: Bush will set a deadline for the investigation of sometime in early to mid-2005.

Many such previous panels have involved compromises in which the president names some members and congressional leaders select others.

Geoffrey Aronson, director of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, states the obvious: No Iraqi sovereignty if US forces stay.

Yet like the British before them, the Americans have already decided that the Iraqi successor regime will welcome US forces ­ the main reason it is so important that the “right” Iraqis rule ­ and they are preparing a “status of forces” agreement for signature that will lend a facade of Iraqi consent to this US demand.

I wish I could bill like this! Are we all mad, or is it Hutton?

Richard Perle hates terrorists so much he raises funds for them! Richard Perle Supports Terrorism: He spoke at a terrorist fundraiser.

The show goes on. Now we'll have an "independent" commission to "investigate" so-called "intelligence failures" (i.e. blatant lies), reporting after the election. As Lord Hutton taught the world, don't hold your breath. Bush to Seek Intelligence Failures Probe.

The guardian reports that US (and British) officials knew in early May that there were no WMD. If true, both governments have been blatantly lying for 7 months: US officials knew in May Iraq possessed no WMD: Blair comes under pressure as Americans admit it was widely known that Saddam had no chemical arsenal .

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