Key Documents

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

February, 2005

The Occupation

Occupation Resistance Analysis

Is Iraq's future one of regional militias with regional loyalties? For 'those who face death' in Iraq, region comes before state.

50 British troops face prosecution over Iraq abuses.

An original take on a fall-out among thieves: Peace in Iraq's Najaf tarnished by police feud.

Under fire: Syria "helped" capture of Saddam's half-brother and a number of other former Iraqi Baath officials.

Iraqis in name only: Kurds Vow to Retain Militia as Guardians of Autonomy.

Will the relatively peaceful south become autonomous, keeping its tax revenue, and opening wide to foreign investment? Look for US companies to support southern "autonomy": Iraq's Serene South Asks, Who Needs Baghdad?

Falling into line: Shiite dissenters rally around al-Jaafari prime minister candidacy endorsed by top cleric.

Good at abusing American prisoners, fine for Iraq: Prison workers sent to Iraq unchecked.

Claims Allawi aiming at a March surprise: Allawi Hopes to Snare Zarqawi - and Premiership in Baghdad.

Neocons attacking Turkey? What a Calamitous Report!

Iraqi antisemitism: Some Iraqis protest having Saturday off: Many associate it with Jewish Sabbath.

Iraqis are complaining about their first-ever weekend break, and some high-school students even went to class Saturday to protest a decision introducing a second weekly day off that coincides with the Jewish Sabbath. advertisement It’s not that the Iraqis do not want time off — they just want the extra day moved to Thursday. “We don’t want Saturday! It’s a Jewish holiday!” students chanted as they marched in protest.

Amnesty International Urgent Action Reort: Concern over Iraqi woman's detention.

Kirkuk tension: Kurdish declared official language of Kirkuk. And: Kirkuk Council Faces Big Challenge.

Hard to get: Kurds undecided on Iraq alliance.

(Lesser coalition members to become trainers: U.S. Moves To Preserve Iraq Coalition.

Preparing the public for long-term occupation: Graham offers sobering assessment on Iraq.

Suicides in Marine Corps Rise by 29%.

They did such a great job, why not have them do more: Halliburton could get $1.5 bln more Iraq work-Army.

Iraqi women eye Islamic law: The majority United Iraqi Alliance supports sharia.

She is quick to tick off what sharia will mean for married women. "[The husband] can beat his wife but not in a forceful way, leaving no mark. If he should leave a mark, he will pay," she says of a system she supports. "He can beat her when she is not obeying him in his rights. We want her to be educated enough that she will not force him to beat her, and if he beats her with no right, we want her to be strong enough to go to the police."

Juan Cole: The Downside of Democracy: What if the U.S. doesn't like what the voters like in the Mideast and beyond?

Sistani give ok to Jaafari for PM: Al-Sistani holds talks with top Shi'a cleric.

Give us Kirkuk! Iraqi Kurd Leader Spells Out Terms for Deal.

How much will it cost? What else could have been bought? Bush's 'priceless' war

[T]he war and ongoing insurgency could cost the United States between US$461 billion and $646 billion by 2015, depending on the scope and duration of operations....
There is a lack of oversight, which gives a federal agency a lot of discretion. You are talking about $500 billion in total annual spending, of which 20% - the total of the supplement - is unaccounted for. No other agency has discretionary authority of 20% of its budget." Then there are future costs that have hardly begun to be paid such as disability payments for those who are wounded in the "war on terror".

They may have been imperfect, but they are certainly becoming too dangerous: Iraq's neighborhood councils are vanishing: After their members were killed, many councils were scared out of existence.

Khadim al-Fukeki, a Maruf councilor and a true believer in the process, says he doesn't regret involvement in the failed experiment. "I don't blame the Americans for this - they weren't the ones sending us the threatening letters, or who have turned the neighborhood into a killing zone,'' says Mr. Fukeki. "That's the fault of the Wahabbis, the extremists...."

Indefinite, arbitrary, detention: Australian man's freedom denied.

An Australian held without charge in Iraq will remain behind bars after the US military reversed earlier advice that it was planning to release him. Ahmed Aziz Rafiq, from Adelaide, has been held for more than a year in Iraqi prisons, including the notorious Abu Ghraib, after his arrest in a security swoop in the country's north.

Interview with former potential President, and electoral loser, Adnan Pachachi: Wait and see.

Good for some: AFCEE awards $90M worth of work in Iraq.

No limits on imperial soldiers: Pentagon Seeking Leeway Overseas: Operations Could Bypass Envoys when they send Special Ops troops to kill, destroy, or kidnap.

Army shocked at PM's Iraq order to send more troops.

Being filmed in broad daylight committing murder brings no charges. After all, everyone does it: Falluja mosque marine escapes charge.

[Despite what everyone saw:] Although the Iraqis were found to be unarmed, investigators said the Marine believed the man he shot was trying to reach a weapon.

Some profit anywhere, anytime: Company's Work in Iraq Profited Bush's Uncle: William H.T. 'Bucky' Bush earned $450,000 on stock options with defense contractor ESSI.

Jim Lehrer with Juan Cole: Iraq's Likely Leader.

Ministers run the show. Where does that leave the thousands of US "advisers" in every department? Iraq ministers run the show.

Any government contract worth more than $5 million must go before a ministerial committee made up of many of the same people. Other than that, it appears that ministers are pretty much on their own in terms of policy. For example, Defense Minister Falah al-Nakib faced recent allegations that he inappropriately moved $500 million from the Central Bank to Switzerland that was meant to purchase police equipment, weapons and ammunition.

As if there weren't enough dangers: Baghdad rubbish poses health hazard.

The guy doesn't give up easily. Or, is this a last-ditch US attempt? Allawi forms new bloc to vie for Iraqi prime ministry. Also reported there: "Hours after al-Jaafari's nomination Tuesday, insurgents assassinated an official in Diyala province who was a member of the Dawa Party. Unknown gunmen shot dead Khalil Ali Shuker as he finished evening prayers at a mosque in Muqdadiya, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Baghdad. A male bystander also was wounded"

Gilbert Achcar has translated the following: Comments from Al-Hayat on the attitude of the Association of Muslim Scholars on the talks between the US and Iraqi insurgents.

He revealed that the contacts engaged with the Association in order to integrate it in the new government centered only around the procedure of writing the constitution, and were held with Iraqi political forces and with Ashraf Qadi, the representative of the UN General Secretary, and not with the Bush administration....
"The US administration, which is the occupying force, should have controlled the borders with the neighbouring countries that allow the infiltration of terrorist groups, and made a distinction [in their contacts] between the legitimate resistance and terrorism, unless they are the first beneficiaries of the instability of security conditions to guarantee that they will stay as long as possible.

Hillary Clinton shows off her ability to treat Iraqis like dogs. It went over about as well as her comments on baking cookies: Islamist with links to Iran to be PM.

Last week Hillary Clinton, the New York senator, visiting Baghdad, said that there were “grounds both for concern and for . . . vigilance” about Dr al-Jaafari’s Iranian connections....
Clearly irritated, the candidate — at present Iraq’s Vice-President — brushed aside the remark yesterday. “We are not at an American traffic light to be given a red or green signal. I am speaking on behalf of a collective decision. I will stop when the Iraqi people say to stop,” he said. “Hillary Clinton, as far as I know, does not represent any political decision or the American Administration and I don’t know why she said this. She knows nothing about the Iraqi situation.”

Empire expansion underway: McCain calls for permanent American military bases in Afghanistan. After all, it's on the borders with Russia, China, and Iran, all the countries that aren't part of the current US empire.

The United States needs permanent military bases in Afghanistan to protect its ''vital national security interests'' in the region, Arizona Sen. John McCain said Tuesday after talks with the Afghan president.

No votes in Nineveh: Iraqi Assyrians are victims of Kurdish ethnic cleansing.

Since the fall of Saddam, systematic low-level ethnic cleansing has driven thousands of Assyrian Christians from their homes. Our churches have been firebombed and our women forced to wear the hijab. In northern Iraq much of this intimidation has come from the Kurdish militias. It reached a climax on election day, when ballot boxes were prevented from reaching between 200,000 and 400,000 people.... The western media have made much of people in the Sunni heartlands being intimidated into not voting, or refusing to vote. It does not report that the Assyrian people and other minorities wanted to vote, but were stopped from doing so.

As usual, the war profiteers do just fine. Firms Involved in Iraq War Dominate Growth in Pentagon Contracting Halliburton Contracts Double; Up Sixteen-fold in Two Years Time: Dollar Shift: The Iraq War and the Changing Face of Pentagon Contracting [Press Release] and: Full Report.

Child labor to support families. A sure sign of progress: Iraqi Children Pay the Price of "Freedom".

Not since the Islamic revolution of 1979 has the Middle East witnessed a political upheaval of the magnitude of the Iraqi election held on January 30.

Juan Cole: Theocracy Now: What will the Shia parties want once they have power in Iraq? Exactly what America doesn’t want.

Con man Chalabi bluff called: Shiite coalition nominates al-Jaafari for prime minister: Ahmad Chalabi drops out of consideration, official says.

Shiites set for secret vote on PM candidate: Chalabi, al-Jaafari differ on role minority Sunnis should hold. Juan Cole speculates on the reasons why a prime minister has not yet been picked: IA Will Hold Secret Ballot: Chalabi, Allawi Still in Running for PM. Related: Basra Council Dominated by Fundamenatlists.

Dangerous profession: Insurgents Target Barbers Who Ignore Strict Islamic Law.

In what some describe as a Taliban-like effort to impose a militant Islamic aesthetic, extremists have been warning Iraqi barbers not to violate strict Islamic teachings by trimming or removing men's beards. Giving Western-style haircuts or removing hair in an "effeminate" manner, they say, are crimes punishable by death. "They went to all the barbers," said one threatened hairstylist, Ali Mahmood, 28. "They told them not to shave beards. They told them no sideburns. No American styles. They told them none of this or they would die." Since the threats began a little more than a month ago, at least eight barbers have been killed, and a dozen shops have been bombed, colleagues and police say.

Amnesty International issued a report on women in Iraq, claiming they are no better off than under Saddam: Iraqi women no better off post-Saddam - Amnesty. See the Press Release: Iraqi women - the need for protective measures and the Full Report: Iraq: Decades of suffering, Now women deserve better.

Shia politicians focussed on dividing the spoils, not solving the country's problems: Power plays preoccupy Iraqi leaders.

Over the weekend, SCIRI leader Abdel-Aziz Hakim met with Chalabi and offered to make him the top financial overseer in Iraq, responsible for the oil, trade, and finance ministries in exchange for him withdrawing, according to the SCIRI official. A spokesman for Chalabi confirmed the meeting but would not say what was discussed. ...
Chalabi's assertiveness, for example, may be rewarded with control of billions of dollars of oil revenue and trading contracts. If Jaafari wins as prime minister, other groups in the alliance may insist that no one else from his party get a top post. SCIRI may also demand control of several ministries, particularly the interior ministry.
"Jobs, electricity, and security are what Iraqis need and are demanding, and if this government gets wrapped up in obscure debates about constitutional niceties then this thing will consume them," says Toby Dodge, an Iraq expert at Queen Mary University of London. "The great danger is that those 275 individuals will go into the 'green zone' and disappear into the internecine politics of the green zone."

Kiss and make up? EU to open office in Baghdad.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: Tigris Tales: A truck arrives. 'This is American garbage,' shouts one of the boys. Welcome to the recycling district.

There are so few potential workers in Iraq, what with 50%-60% unemployment, that the US is forced to import African labor. These workers are not paid the $500-$2,000/day American workers there are getting: Africans recruited to work in Iraq as cheap labor.

They're going to give them $150 on a monthly basis, and $40 as an allowance, and they will be providing accommodation, food, medical services for them.
Recruitment company ESS Support Services Worldwide plans to take on 750 workers from Sierra Leone. They'll be employed as cleaners and kitchen hands on military bases.

War, not building: Violence Trumps Rebuilding in Iraq.

Skyrocketing security costs have forced American officials here to slash about $1 billion from projects intended to rebuild Iraq's shattered infrastructure, dealing another blow to U.S. plans to pacify Iraq by improving basic services.

Reconstruction urgently needed: Baghdad hospitals need urgent improvements, survey says. But one project seems to be completed: Kirkuk Water Treatment Plant Re-Opens.

Australian journalist Journalist Carmela was embedded with the Americans in Afghanistan. Then she went back to villages the US had raided and heard tales of humiliation, sexual abuse, and the destruction of crops by US forces. Watch the video: Afghanistan - Taliban Country. Winner of the Walkley Award; IF Glenfiddich "Independent Spirit Awards" Finalist If sexual abuse represents the actions of a "few bad apples", those apples seem to be everywhere the US military is in action.

This week’s documentary is a disturbing exposé of American actions in Afghanistan. Journalist Carmela Baranowska spent three weeks embedded with the marines. She then returned in secret to document what was really happening. It’s a story of prisoners abused and villagers humiliated. This report prompted a US inquiry.

Must Read! Riverbend faces the horror of Sharia being imposed upon her and other Iraqi women by the electoral winners: Groceries and Election Results...

I feel like I have my finger on the throbbing pulse of the Iraqi political situation every time I visit Abu Ammar [the local grocer]. You can often tell just how things are going in the country from the produce available at his stand. For example, when he doesn’t have any good tomatoes we know that the roads to Basra are either closed or really bad and the tomatoes aren’t getting through to Baghdad. When citrus fruit isn’t available during the winter months, we know that the roads to Diyala are probably risky and oranges and lemons couldn’t be delivered....
I nodded and handed over the bags to be weighed. “Well… they’re going to turn us into another Iran. You know list 169 means we might turn into Iran.” Abu Ammar pondered this a moment as he put the bags on the old brass scale and adjusted the weights. “And is Iran so bad?” He finally asked. Well no, Abu Ammar, I wanted to answer, it’s not bad for *you* - you’re a man… if anything your right to several temporary marriages, a few permanent ones and the right to subdue females will increase. Why should it be so bad? Instead I was silent. It’s not a good thing to criticize Iran these days....
They try to give impressive interviews to western press but the situation is wholly different on the inside. Women feel it the most. There’s an almost constant pressure in Baghdad from these parties for women to cover up what little they have showing. There’s a pressure in many colleges for the segregation of males and females. There are the threats, and the printed and verbal warnings, and sometimes we hear of attacks or insults....
Something that disturbed me about the election forms was that it indicated whether the voter was ‘male’ or ‘female’- why should that matter? Could it be because in Shari’a, a women’s vote or voice counts for half of that of a man? Will they implement that in the future?...
We’ve also heard of several more abductions and now assassinations. They say Badir’s Brigade have come out with a new list of ‘wanted’… but dead, not alive. It’s a list of mainly Sunni professors, former army generals, doctors, etc. Already there have been three assassinations in Saydiyeh, an area that is a mix of Sunnis and Shia. They say Badir’s Brigade people broke into the house and gunned down the families. This assassination spree is, apparently, a celebration of the election results.

Problems for military, opportunity for antiwar movement: Army Having Difficulty Meeting Goals In Recruiting. And: National Guard recruiters struggle to sign new troops.

Hope springs eternal that the destroyers will rebuild: U.S. Feeling Pressure To Rebuild Fallujah: Troops Have Little Time to Secure Residents' Faith. [As if they'll ever secure the faith of those whose lives they destroyed. What can it say that the Washington Post can print an article with a headline as ridiculous as this one?]

Prisoner Uprising In Iraq Exposes New Risk for U.S.: Nonlethal Weapons Proved Ineffective as Chaos Spread/

Torture and humiliation in Brooklyn. Now "Torture Lawyer" Gonzales is in charge. Perhaps he can write a memo about how the idea of treating prisoners humanely is "quaint": 'Brooklyn's Abu Ghraib': Terror suspects allege abuse.

Scott Ritter says the US manipulated Iraq's election results to reduce the UIA percentage from 56% to 48%. He also claims an attack on Iran is in the works: Scott Ritter says US attack on Iran planned for June.

Time: Talking with the Enemy: Inside the secret dialogue between the U.S. and insurgents in Iraq—and what the rebels say they want.

What do the insurgents want? Top insurgent field commanders and negotiators informed TIME that the rebels have told diplomats and military officers that they support a secular democracy in Iraq but resent the prospect of a government run by exiles who fled to Iran and the West during Saddam's regime. The insurgents also seek a guaranteed timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal, a demand the U.S. refuses. But there are some hints of compromise: insurgent negotiators have told their U.S. counterparts they would accept a U.N. peacekeeping force as the U.S. troop presence recedes. Insurgent representative Abu Mohammed says the nationalists would even tolerate U.S. bases on Iraqi soil. "We don't mind if the invader becomes a guest," he says, suggesting a situation akin to the U.S. military presence in Germany and Japan.

Chalabi Interviewed by Stephanopoulos

Nir Rosen reports from Kurdistan, giving a picture of the ethnic cleansing and potential civil war brewing: In the Balance.

Rostam said he was being considered for the post of ''chief commander of the oil fields of Kirkuk.'' It appears that Kirkuk has become a place where an oil field has to have a ''commander'' and where that commander thinks of himself not as an Iraqi, but as a Kurd.

New from the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq: Appeal by the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq regarding 8th March 05- International Women’s Day. And: The recent election game will not improve the situation for women

The boss "knew nothing" as billions upon billions were systematically looted: Paul Bremer and the Looting of Iraq.

Bremer says "Western" accounting methods were impossible in Iraq because it was a war zone. When Bremer arrived in May 2003 Baghdad was quiet. President Bush had just proclaimed "Mission Accomplished," the roads were safe and violence was at a minimum.

Must Read! An incredible account of how occupation inevitably leads to atrocities: Soldiers sometimes rough despite risk of antagonizing friendly Iraqis.

"What's really hard is the fine line between the bad guys and the good guys," said Staff Sgt. Riley Flaherty, a lanky, fast-talking character from Ohio. "Because if you piss off the wrong good guys, you're really in trouble. So you've really got to watch what you do and how you treat the people." On another day, however, Flaherty saw it differently. "These people don't understand nice," he said. "You've got to be a hard-ass...."
Aldrich recounted how a group of soldiers used fists and an electric stun gun to punish an Iraqi teenager who'd flashed his middle finger. "I've got 200,000 Iraqis I've got to control with 18 people," Aldrich said, referring to his platoon's patrol sector. "So I've got to command respect. And unfortunately, all that hearts and minds stuff, I can't even think about that." At another point he added: "There are things I have to do out here that I can't explain to my chain of command, and that the American people would never understand."

Iraqi PM announcement delayed for days because they can't get the required "green light" from their masters in Washington: At Least 55 Dead, Over 100 Wounded In Ashura Bombing.

Al-Hayat reports that a decision on the new prime minister will not be announced until at least Wednesday. The decision was postponed in part because of Ashura, and in part because of the difficulty in getting a "green light" from Washington in the wake of Ambassador John Negroponte's appointment as intelligence czar. (US news sources have not spoken as openly of the need for a green light from Washington, but al-Hayat's sources are frank about it. This frankness agrees with the comment made by one embassy official that Iraq cannot select a prime minister who is unacceptable to Washington.

Did US military target journalists in Iraq?

While media organizations say reporters not targeted, they charge US troops are killing journalists 'because of negligence or indifference.'

Brit involved: UK link to torture jail's rules: Army lawyer saw document on interrogation techniques.

The next war won't be a cakewalk: Iran preps for a possible war with US.

Conformity brings blessed anonymity: Foreign females wear the hijab now, too.

Kurds and Arabs face conflict: Clash over 'Kurdish veto' looms in Iraq.

Time to collect: Iraqi Kurds detail their demands for autonomy.

The next war increasingly likely: 'America would back Israel attack on Iran'.

Juan Cole: Shiite Iraq.

Only now is the press realizing: Shia majority for Iraq parliament.

The Shia winners: Iraq: New Baathist purge considered.

Torture supporter as Attorney General. Now it's Death Squad supporter as Director of National Intelligence. Are all members of the cabinet required to be criminals? Negroponte Picked for Intelligence Post.

Must Watch! The only known independent video from occupied Falluja: Legacy of Fallujah .

This amateur video was shot on the first day of one of the biggest festivals in the Muslim year. But instead of buying new clothes for their children and visiting family and friends, the men of Falluja are digging graves.

Dead Iraqi in Abu Ghraib pictures was murdered under torture by CIA: Iraqi Died While Hung From Wrists.

An Iraqi whose corpse was photographed with grinning U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib died under CIA interrogation while suspended by his wrists, which had been handcuffed behind his back, according to investigative reports reviewed by The Associated Press.... As the guards released the shackles and lowered al-Jamadi, blood gushed from his mouth "as if a faucet had been turned on," according to the interview summary....
Dr. Vincent Iacopino, director of research for Physicians for Human Rights, called the hyper-extension of the arms behind the back "clear and simple torture." The European Court of Human Rights found Turkey guilty of torture in 1996 in a case of Palestinian hanging — a technique Iacopino said is used worldwide but named for its alleged use by Israel in the Palestinian territories.

Gilbert Achcar has translated the following update from Al-Hayat. It contains interesting information on the relation of the Sadr forces to the government to be, including the inclusion of Mehdi army units in the Iraqi army: The "High Commission" will proclaim the official final results of the Iraqi elections today.

Democrats to Bush: "yes boss! Anything you want. As long as it's for Empire building, it's fine.": US Democrats to back additional spending. Republicans: "Not so quick": Critical Republicans Look to Cut Bush's $82 Billion War Request. Meanwhile Kerry thinks the US military is too SMALL: Kerry Calls For 40,000 More Troops.

Through all the bluster, they cooperate? Iran 'helped' US in Iraq polls.

The Association of Muslim Scholars, the al-Sadr forces, and others unite around a set of principles for cooperation with the new government Interestingly, the Iraqi Communist Party also joined: Anti-Occupation Iraqis Set Terms for Political Dialogue.

“A national reconciliation in Iraq and drafting a new constitution can’t be achieved unless a range of conditions are met, atop of which is setting an internationally-guaranteed timetable on the withdrawal of occupation forces from Iraq,” according to a statement read out by Sobhi Abdul Hamid, the secretary general of the Arab National Party in Iraq Tuesday. Respected scholar, Harith Al-Dari, the Secretary General of AMS, was sitting next to Abdul Hamid in the press conference....
Sheikh Abdel Hadi Al-Draji, Sadr representative, for his part, stressed that the Sadr group has not received any official invitation to take part in the political process. He noted that holding dialogue on the national reconciliation and taking part in drafting the constitution would be possible only when the parties that took part in the polls accept the document signed by the anti-US occupation groups....
The statement, further, hit out at the “terrorist acts” targeting innocent Iraqis and worship places in the violence-scarred country. It pressed for releasing all Iraqi detainees in the US-administrated jails, stopping the crackdown operations and human rights violations as well as rebuilding the devastated Iraqi cities and compensating their inhabitants.

Are we ready for when the troops return? Report Questions Stress Disorder Efforts.

Do something! Concerned with Looting UN Calls for Fresh Protection of Iraq’s Heritage.

Iraq rules out oil privatization, for now, but seeks foreign ivestment: Iraq seeks E&D investment, nixes reserves privatization.

But he ruled out any privatization of the "extraction sector," saying it was out of the question at the moment....
"There is nothing wrong with the private sector playing a wide and extensive role in the oil industry," he said. "We believe it is neither important, nor necessary for the Oil Ministry to manage the petrol or liquid oil stations. Therefore, we are completely agreeable to opening the field to the private sector to build storage depots, refineries, or gas laboratories according to various techniques that are scientifically known as 'BOT' or building and ownership techniques, and then at the end of the period hand over the installation to the ministry."

As usual, the big winners: Firms Involved in Iraq War Dominate Growth in Pentagon Contracting: Halliburton Contracts Double; Up Sixteen-fold in Two Years' Time.

Spoils spread: Indian company gets largest single order for commercial vehicles from Iraq. And Russian: Lukoil hopes to launch oil development project in Iraq soon.

Engelhardt and Hiro on Iraqi and American fault lines.

Convicted felon, forger, and Iranian spy Chalabi challenges Jaafari: Shiite leaders fail to agree on PM, will hold secret ballot.

They won't be defeated easily: Iran, Syria 'form common front'.

Juan Cole's background on Ibrahim Jaafari, the likely new PM: Jaafari: "Islam to be Source of Legislation".

Private security companies routinely murdering Iraqi civilians, including to clear traffic jams, former employees allege: U.S. contractors in Iraq allege abuses: Four men say they witnessed shooting of unarmed civilians.

n another traffic jam, they claim a Ford 350 pickup truck smashed into, then rolled up and over the back of a small sedan full of Iraqis. "The front of the truck came down," says Craun. "I could see two children sitting in the back seat of that car with their eyes looking up at the axle as it came down and pulverized the back...." Could anyone have survived? "Probably not. Not from what I saw," says Hough....
"It was chaos and carnage and destruction the whole day," says Craun. Two of the men — Craun and Colling — say they quit immediately. Craun, in an e-mail two days later to a friend at the Pentagon, wrote: "I didn't want any part of an organization that deliberately murders children and innocent civilians." Errante says he also quit after witnessing wild, indiscriminate shootings on two other missions. "I said I didn't want to be a witness to any of these, what could be classified as a war crime," says Errante.

The massive destruction of Iraq's culture is still continuing: Iraq Invasion the 'Biggest Cultural Disaster Since 1258'.

One million books, 10 million documents, and 14,000 archaeological artifacts have been lost in the U.S.-led invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq – the biggest cultural disaster since the descendants of Genghis Khan destroyed Baghdad in 1258, Venezuelan writer Fernando Báez told IPS. "U.S. and Polish soldiers are still stealing treasures today and selling them across the borders with Jordan and Kuwait, where art merchants pay up to $57,000 for a Sumerian tablet," said Báez....
But the damage is incalculable. In the Baghdad National Library, around one million books were burnt, including early editions of Arabian Nights, mathematical treatises by Omar Khayyam, and tracts by philosophers Avicena and Averroes.

$300 billion and rising rapidly: U.S. spending more per soldier than ever.

The United States spent $623 billion on the Vietnam conflict, according to the service, using figures adjusted for inflation. If President Bush's new $81.9 billion emergency request is implemented, U.S. war costs since the Sept. 11 attacks will approach half that....
The latest emergency proposal, $81.9 billion, includes $74.9 billion for the Defense Department.... The total request exceeds the annual defense budget of every other country in the world, according to figures supplied by the Center for Defense Information. The organization says Russia, with the second-largest military budget, spends $65 billion a year.

They don't seem to expect an attack on Iran: Iran, Iraq launch project for transporting energy.

Reports the Iraqi Islamic Part has had a change of heart: Sunnis accept invitation to have their say.

Likely new PM: Jaafari firms as new PM. See Juan Cole's comments: Jaafari Takes lead.

More on Jaafari: Soft-spoken Jaafari tipped as Iraq PM.

Oxford Analytica: New government will have severe limits on what it can do: Iraq: Election Implications.

If the UIA can be maintained as a voting bloc, it has the potential to pass emergency or temporary laws with its slender parliamentary majority (such motions require 138 votes). The TNA is far less capable of enacting temporary treaties with foreign powers--such as a temporary Status of Forces Agreement--that would require a two-thirds majority.
Changes could be made to the Transitional Administrative Law to give the ITG the legal authority to pass permanent laws (for instance, concerning the role of Islamic law). However, pivotal figures such as Sistani and key international backers would frown on such steps, reducing their likelihood.
The ITG is likely to be prone to deadlock, inertia, and procrastination. It will be unable to garner the consensus necessary to take major actions such as the expulsion of foreign troops, the invocation of Islamic law or the signing of upstream hydrocarbons contracts. Such issues will instead be the purview of the multi-ethnic committees writing the draft constitution, or the constitutionally elected government whose election is tentatively planned by Dec. 15.

Another secret mission to figure out what's going on: Rice Sends Team to Assess Iraq Transition.

Call for release of Aussie held in Iraq.

Not bad work, if you can get it: Iraq bomb disposal contract pays well for Charlotte engineers.

Taxpayers paid $350,000 in salary for the company's top manager, a liaison officer, plus $850,000 in overhead, insurance and profit costs, an analysis by the Winston-Salem Journal found. A separate analysis by the Center for Public Integrity said Zapata's $3.8 million task order on its services contract paid the liaison officer $696,565 for 52 weeks, based on an 84-hour work week.

US "teaching" their Iraqi clients how to write a US-friendly constitution: Iraqi leaders to get constitution lesson.

A first-hand account, by an Iraqi doctor, of the destruction and massacre of civilians in Falluja: Fallujah: the truth at last.

On 12 November Eyad Naji Latif and eight members of his family—one of them a six month old child—gathered their belongings and walked in single file, as instructed, to the mosque. When they reached the main road outside the mosque they heard a shout, but they could not understand what was being shouted. Eyad told me it could have been “now” in English. Then the firing began. US soldiers appeared on the roofs of surrounding houses and opened fire. Eyad’s father was shot in the heart and his mother in the chest. They died instantly. Two of Eyad’s brothers were also hit, one in the chest and one in the neck. Two of the women were hit, one in the hand and one in the leg. Then the snipers killed the wife of one of Eyad’s brothers. When she fell her five year old son ran to her and stood over her body. They shot him dead too. Survivors made desperate appeals to the troops to stop firing. But Eyad told me that whenever one of them tried to raise a white flag they were shot. After several hours he tried to raise his arm with the flag. But they shot him in the arm. Finally he tried to raise his hand. So they shot him in the hand. The five survivors, including the six month old child, lay in the street for seven hours. Then four of them crawled to the nearest home to find shelter.

US outsources its prisons and uses secret trials: 'Rendition' Case Takes a New Twist.

The dangers in Iraq may not just consist of insurgents, US troops, and Iraqi forces. The scoundrels stealing millions may also do their share of dirty work: Foul Play in Iraq? A slain American contractor feared for his life after turning whistleblower.

SCRI's Abdelaziz Hakim: Iraqi Election Catapults Critic of U.S. to Power.

Dying becomes real to cadets: Iraq's shadow extends to West Point.

Democrats hold hearing on fraud and waste in Iraq: Former journalism adviser in Iraq says U.S. officials steered coverage to themselves.

Britain also losing skilled troops to mercenary work: Crisis as SAS men quit for lucrative Iraq jobs.

Under a contract from the US-appointed government, US: Firm plans to exploit Iraq's wasted gas.

Juan Cole provides day-after analysis of the electoral results, including the news that the Shia United Iraqi Alliance has an absolute majority in parliament of 141 seats: Shiites Take Absolute Majority in Parliament: Iran Scores Victory in the Iraqi Elections . See also the statement of: AMS on its Role in Forcing Elections. And the: Platform of the Al-Hakims.

Dexter Filkins provides election analysis: Slim margin means Shiites will need allies: Secular parties won't accept Islamic state.

Juan Cole believes the religious Shiites will have a comfortable parliamentary majority: Distribution of Seats in Iraqi Parliament.

Reporters make fools of themselves: Pandemonium in the press room: Reporters break all the rules at briefing to announce Iraq election results.

From the Zogby poll just before the elections: On which country would Iraqis like to model their government—Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United States, or the United Arab Emirates? The answer is NOT the US.

A British reporter goes out with the new Iraqi army: 'I'm more scared of going out with these guys than fighting insurgents'.

I do not know what effect the Iraqi soldiers will have on the enemy, but they terrify me. An eagerness to pull the trigger gleams in their eyes as they wave their Kalashnikovs about. They have a reputation for spraying bullets all around them if fired on, and two Americans have been killed by such stray rounds. “I’m more scared of going out with these guys than clashing with the insurgents,” an American trooper says. “They have no concept of identifying friendlies, and let loose at anything.”

Must Read! To understand the election results, Juan Cole's analysis is indispensable: Shiites, Kurds, win Big: Bush Loses Election in Iraq.

$2 million into a gunnysack how the CPA did business! Report: U.S. Paid Iraq Contractors in Cash.

Here are the final part votes. Among the highlights is that the national leader appointed by the US to be Interim President showed his immense popularity by getting 150,680 (1.8%) votes. The US-installed PM got 13.7%. We could, perhaps, conclude that 15.5% voted for the US candidates: List of Leading Parties in Iraq Elections.

At last, the first glimpse at the election results: Shiite list tops Iraqi election.

AN alliance of Shiite Islamist groups won the most votes in Iraq's election, but the percentage it received - 47.6 per cent - was lower than many expected, according to the final tally released today. A coalition of the two main Kurdish parties won 25.4 per cent and a bloc led by Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi got 13.6 per cent. Overall turnout was 8.55 million votes, which was 58 per cent of those registered to vote. The Shiite United Iraqi Alliance won 4.075 million votes, the Kurds won 2.175 million and Mr Allawi's list won 1.168 million, according to the tally released by the Electoral Commission.

Daily life in occupied Iraq. An Iraqi political exile resident in the US has permanent scars from the abusive treatment he received when arrested by US troops in Iraq: Iraqi recounts abuse by U.S. soldiers: Refugee living in Everett says he was detained and maltreated during recent visit.

Al-Hamid showed a Herald reporter a black-and-white videotape of his wrists, which appeared to be marked by deep gashes and dried blood. The video was shot in Basra two to three days after his release from Army detention, he said. Al-Hamid then pulled up his sleeves to reveal scars, which he said are the permanent marks of his mistreatment.
Al-Hamid said soldiers barely fed him for the eight days he was in the small cell. During the first few days, they allowed him to use a restroom. But the last three days or so, he was forced to urinate and defecate in his pants, he said. Because of the handcuffs, he couldn't pull down his pants, al-Hamid said....
He said he repeatedly asked soldiers to loosen the handcuffs, but they only tightened them further. A doctor occasionally looked him over but refused to give him medicine or bandages for his wrist wounds, he said. "My hands still hurt me every day," al-Hamid said. "It feels numb...."
The night before the four were released, an officer warned al-Hamid not to tell anyone what had happened, he said.

These may become the rules guiding the New Iraq: In the new Iraq, it's as well to check just what religion will allow you to do.

US already invading Iranian air space. Can you imagine if someone did it to US? U.S. Uses Drones to Probe Iran For Arms: Surveillance Flights Are Sent From Iraq.

former U.S. official with direct knowledge of earlier phases of the operation said the U.S. intelligence community began using Iraq as a base to spy on Iran shortly after taking Baghdad in early April 2003. Drones have been flown over Iran since then, the former official said, but the missions became more frequent last year. [Doesn't this use of Iraq as a base for attacks on Iran mean that Iran is, in turn, justified in its "interference in Iraq"?]

Mercenaries make 10 times what soldiers do. It's the free market at work: Civilians working for U.S. in Iraq making a bundle: Army Corps is paying Charlotte contractor millions to dispose of munitions.

The Army Corps has set aside as much as $1.47 billion for explosives-demolition contracts with 10 private companies. Neither Zapata nor the Army Corps of Engineers would reveal exact salaries, but the first one-year contract the company received in September 2003 totaled $3.8 million for five management positions in Iraq. e single liaison officer cost taxpayers not just the $350,000 in salary, but $850,000 in overhead, insurance and profit costs, according to a Winston-Salem Journal analysis

In order to keep their skilled labor from going for the big bucks in the private sector: Pentagon to offer bonuses to special ops. These bonuses can be as high as $150,000.

Concern spreads over drug given to troops.

With all the election hoopla, lets not forget that it's still an occupation, and a particularly brutal one at that: Ahmed Abdullah Story.

In December, Najim was beaten by U.S. soldiers while in transit to Bucca Camp, in the south of Iraq. Ahmed speculates, from what his brother told him at a later visit, that they wanted to emphasize to the detainees that they should not speak about their treatment....
As Ahmed prepared to leave, he mentioned the arrests that happened in his neighborhood in the days before elections. He said U.S. soldiers beat up young men his age, 23, and younger and arrested many. On election day, he said, U.S. tanks crushed cars parked along the street, by running over them.

Of course, some now live better: Halliburton Contracts Illegal - Bush & Cheney Say So What.

As an example of the inept procurement process, the GAO told how "a military review board approved a six-month renewal contract with Halliburton worth $587 million in just ten minutes and based on only six pages of documentation," the report said....

As Rory McCarthy leaves Baghdad after two years, he sums up his experience: Iraq trapped in a terrible vice between ruthless insurgents and unloved occupiers.

For what the US and Britain have yet to acknowledge about the past two years in Iraq is the searing humiliation brought by their occupation. It is helping fuel the insurgency and is turning even moderate Iraqis against the western forces who once promised liberation. It has turned the country into a fearful melting pot of Islamic radicalism and given cause to a new generation of militancy across the region.

Given Bush policies, the draft may become unavoidable: The Return of the Draft.

Must Read! As usual, Riverbend is indispensible for understanding what life is like in post-election, headed for Islamic fascism, Iraq: And Life Goes On...

I literally had chills going up and down my spine as I watched Abdul Aziz Al Hakeem of Iranian-inclined SCIRI dropping his ballot into a box. Behind him, giving moral support and her vote, was what I can only guess to be his wife. She was shrouded literally from head to foot and only her eyes peeped out of the endless sea of black. She stuffed her ballot in the box with black-gloved hands and submissively followed a very confident Hakeem. E. turned to me with a smile and a wink, “That might be you in a couple of years…” I promptly threw a sofa cushion at him....
We’re hearing about various strange happenings at different voting areas. They say that several areas in northern Iraq (some Assyrian and other Christian areas) weren’t allowed to vote. They also say that 300 different ballot boxes from all over the country were disqualified (mainly from Mosul) because a large number of the vote ballots had “Saddam” written on them. In other areas there’s talk of Badir’s Brigade people having bought the ballots to vote, and while the people of Falloojeh weren’t allowed to vote, people say that the identities of Falloojans were temporarily ‘borrowed’ for voting purposes. The stories are endless.

Allawi betrays Kirkuk Arabs in attempt to retain PM post: Allawi, Kurds Set to Form Coalition: Report.

Take on US. become dead meat: CNN News Exec Quits Following Controvers.

Stephen Shalom
points out that the US already has death squads operating in Iraq: Phoenix Rising in Iraq?

The Western media haven't a clue what happened on election day, says veteran journalist Mark Danner: "Shooting through a straw": Journalist Mark Danner lifts the curtain on the Iraq election.

[On the eve of the "free elections"] The Iraqi driver had tried hard to pick him up. He found out later that the man, who carried New York Times identification papers and spoke English, had been forced to get out of his car at a U.S. checkpoint and walk on his knees, hands on his head, for 200 yards over rough cement. A soldier then held a rifle against his temple while his car was searched. Even with journalists, such procedures are routine in the embattled Iraqi city, said Danner....
The media are "shooting through a straw," unable to see or know what is happening except in a handful of "secure" locations. While the media and the world to which they report have no inkling what lies outside that tunnel vision, the U.S. military, the insurgents, and the Iraqi election commissioners are very much aware. The real battle in Iraq right now, according to Danner, is the battle for public perception...
The Iraqis may not have wanted to talk about Saddam, but according to Danner, [New York Times reporter John] Burns did. In an illuminating piece of gossip, he shared that the Times' Iraq bureau chief, who had supported the war from the beginning, has been obsessed in the last couple of years with the possibility that his support had been a mistake. "I found, reporting with Burns, that he would always ask people about Saddam," Danner recalled. "We would be asking why they were out voting today, what they hoped to get out of it, and he would interject questions like, 'What do you think of Saddam? Did you vote in the last election?...'"
Burns and Danner took a break before trekking to the next polling place and watched CNN, where they heard to their amazement that 72 percent of Iraqis were voting, which was "utterly fictitious. All of the numbers you heard on election day were utterly fictitious," he said....
"The insurgency in Iraq is a political war and a war fought with images," Danner said. "The American military is extremely conscious that if something doesn't appear on camera, it didn't happen." That is not because they are trying to hide evidence of the war's going badly, he explained. On the contrary, "these guys believe they’re winning the war, that the war is essentially over, but the media isn't reporting it that way, because the press loves bombings...."
Based on his eyewitness estimates of how many ballots had been torn off from pads, Danner thought that perhaps 40 to 50 percent of eligible voters had participated.

The new disenfranchised: The decline and fall from power of Iraq's Sunnis.

Stephen Zunes explores: How much power will the new Iraqi government really have?

What the Bush administration and most members of Congress of both parties fail to acknowledge is that Iraq cannot be pro-American without being at least somewhat autocratic and it cannot be democratic without being at least somewhat anti-American.

The elections are over, but the problems remain: Fury at the fuel station: Iraqis frustrated by shortages in oil-rich country.

"Let Allawi come here, [interim prime minister] Ayad Allawi, Ayad Allawi, where are you? Where is the freedom, where is the democracy? We've been waiting since 4 a.m. Why?" screams Salah Hassan Abbas. "Saddam Hussein did not do this to us!" After the March 2003 invasion, almost all problems were blamed on U.S. forces. Now, less than two weeks after Iraq's elections, many of the angry drivers at this station are turning to the Iraqi government to provide the answers and the solutions.

The Spoils! Amiantit Group Partner to Supply GRP Water Pipes in Iraq.

Listen to an: Interview with Iraq Veterans Against the War.

All wars produce refugees: Refugees at Iraq-Jordan border need urgent aid, says UNHCR.

Criminal gets off: Germany won't investigate Rumsfeld.

Plenty of room for scoundrels in the new Iraq: Despite falling out with U.S., Chalabi still a player in the new Iraq.

It looks like I may have to change the name of this site to the Iraq & Iran Occupation and Resistance Report: Iran War Drums Beat Harder .

"Moderate" Iranian President tells the US that invaders will "will be burned in the hell of the storm of the people's anger." Iran Could Reverse Nuclear Policy Amid 'Psychological Warfare': Khatami.

Naomi Klein: Getting the Purple Finger.

Al-Mahdi is the Bush Administration's Trojan horse in the UIA. (You didn't think they were going to put all their money on Allawi, did you?) In October he told a gathering of the American Enterprise Institute that he planned to "restructure and privatize [Iraq's] state-owned enterprises," and in December he made another trip to Washington to unveil plans for a new oil law "very promising to the American investors." It was al-Mahdi himself who oversaw the signing of a flurry of deals with Shell, BP and ChevronTexaco in the weeks before the elections, and it is he who negotiated the recent austerity deal with the IMF. On troop withdrawal, al-Mahdi sounds nothing like his party's platform and instead appears to be channeling Dick Cheney on Fox News: "When the Americans go will depend on when our own forces are ready and on how the resistance responds after the elections." But on Sharia law, we are told, he is very close to the clerics.
Iraq's elections were delayed time and time again, while the occupation and resistance grew ever more deadly. Now it seems that two years of bloodshed, bribery and backroom arm-twisting were leading up to this: a deal in which the ayatollahs get control over the family, Texaco gets the oil, and Washington gets its enduring military bases (call it the "oil for women program"). Everyone wins except the voters, who risked their lives to cast their ballots for a very different set of policies.

The future is now: Shape of post-election Iraq being hammered out in backroom dealmaking.

In Maysan province, where the Sadrists won: Shia rebels to work with British army.

Will they work together? Sadr reaches out to Iraqi Sunni clerics for coordination.

What the Kurds want: Kurdish Aims For A Post-Election Iraq.

US-backed loser trying to unite the opposition: Allawi seen aiming to lead opposition to Shiites.

With around half of ballots counted, Allawi's list is currently in third position with 14 per cent of votes, behind the Kurdish alliance which has 25 per cent. The United Iraqi Alliance, blessed by Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, is a long way ahead, with 51 per cent of the vote. The United Iraqi Alliance lead is expected to increase as many of the votes yet to be announced are from mainly Shiite southern provinces.

As usual, the truth comes out when no one is paying attention: Iraq elections more violent than reported.

There were between 200 and 300 attacks across Iraq on Election Day, a top U.S. Central Command general said Wednesday. The number is higher than the U.S. military previously reported.

There's money to be made: Contractors Find Security in Iraq.

In a little-noticed shift, for-profit outfits have replaced the Pentagon as the chief trainers of the country's fledging police force.

Payoff to the coalition-of-the-bribed: Bush wants $400 million fund to reward Iraq, Afghan allies.

They're lying again, is the gist of the statement by former intelligence officers on US "intelligence" about Iran's nuclear plans: U.S. Intelligence on Iran Seen Lacking - Experts.

Congress ignores the almost $9 billion in missing Iraqi reconstruction money, dwarfing the oil-for-food scandal: Where Has Iraq's Money Gone?

Last week a British adviser to the Iraqi Governing Council told the BBC's File on Four program that officials in the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) were demanding bribes of up to $300,000 in return for awarding contracts. Iraqi money seized by U.S. forces simply disappeared. Some $800 million was handed out to U.S. commanders without being counted or even weighed. A further $1.4 billion was flown from Baghdad to the Kurdish regional government in the town of Irbil, and has never been seen since....
What makes all this so serious is that more than half of the money the CPA was giving away did not belong to the U.S. government but to the people of Iraq. Most of it was generated by the coalition's sales of oil. If you think the UN's oil-for-food program was leaky, take a look at the CPA's oil-for-reconstruction scheme. Throughout the entire period of CPA rule, there was no metering of the oil passing through Iraq's pipelines, which means that there was no way of telling how much of the country's wealth the authority was extracting, or whether it was paying a fair price for it. The CPA, according to the international monitoring body charged with auditing it, was also "unable to estimate the amount of petroleum ... that was smuggled."
The authority was plainly breaching UN resolutions. As Christian Aid points out, the CPA's distribution of Iraq's money was supposed to have been subject to international oversight from the beginning. But no auditors were appointed until April 2004: just two months before the CPA's mandate ran out. Even then, they had no power to hold it to account or even to ask it to cooperate. But enough information leaked out to suggest that $500 million of Iraqi oil money might have been "diverted" (a polite word for nicked) to help pay for the military occupation.

Accusations of 37 murders by torture: Rights group says US killed detainees.

The human rights group said that at least 37 detainees had been executed by torture during interrogations.

Jane Mayer reminds us that torture-by-proxy has long been a central aspect os US policy: Outsourcing Torture: The secret history of America’s “extraordinary rendition” program.

U.N. Human Rights Experts Express Continued Concern About Situation of Guantanamo Detainees.

he exact number and the names of the persons detained at Guantánamo Bay continue to be unknown. This situation is extremely disconcerting and is conducive to the unacknowledged transfer of inmates to other, often secret, detention facilities, whether run by the United States or by other countries. This situation is of particular concern to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances;

British soldier on trial: What's the point of reporting abuse to those in charge of the abuse? Soldier blames 'infected' culture for Iraq abuse.

Asked why he failed to report the incidents to his senior officers, Kenyon said: "I was going to report something in my mind that wasn't really physically hurting people, to people who were allowing other Iraqis to be physically hurt, it's a bit pointless. "I don't think they [senior officers] would have been interested to tell you the truth...."
He added: "There was no point in passing anything up the chain of command because it was the chain of command, who were in my eyes, doing wrongdoing and they were passing Iraqis down to us to do the same thing."

Syrian analyst Sami Moubayed provides background on Al-Sistani: Coming to terms with Sistani.

Sex as torture confirmed at Guantanamo: Detainees Accuse Female Interrogators: Pentagon Inquiry Is Said to Confirm Muslims' Accounts of Sexual Tactics at Guantanamo.

In a harbinger of things to come, a women's shelter is evicted, by the interim Iraqi president: Iraqis commandeer women's shelter co-founded by Nashville attorney.

Another way the troops are screwed: Unintended Consequences: Longer Tours Changing What Employers Pay Guard and Reserve Employees on Military Leave.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder: Iraq elections 'only small progress'. And no German troops in Iraq.

We want your friendly skies: U.S. Asks to Use Turkish Base as Hub for Flights, Turkey Says.

The U.S. is requesting the help of Turkey and other allies to move forces rapidly anywhere in the world at short notice, Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said during a visit to Ankara on Jan. 31.

Further signs of US delusion: How Canada stunned Bush: Iraq stand hard to believe for US.

A discussion of the history of the Sunni-Shia split: The roots of the Sunni-Shiite divide.

The US picked a loser in Allawi: Our white elephant in Iraq.

Don't do it, Blix warns: Strike Iran and Risk Huge Backlash, Blix Warns US .

Oxford Analytica analyzes the oil market in the wake of the Iraq elections. Forecast: Not good: The Oil Outlook After Iraq Elections.

Hopes that the elections will start the rehabilitation of the Iraqi oil sector are misplaced. The future is more likely to see less exports rather than more, certainly for this year and probably much longer. Given the naiveté of the market's optimistic reaction to the election, a serious setback for oil exports could produce a disproportionate backlash leading to a sharp increase in oil prices.

The Spoils! Give away the crown jewels before an elected government can mess up the deal: Iraqi Elites May Award Oil Contracts Before New Assembly Sits.

At last someone states the obvious: A CNN Executive Says G.I.s in Iraq Target Journalists. "Antiwar" American congressman attacked the speaker.

Mr. Jordan, speaking in a panel discussion titled "Will Democracy Survive the Media?" said "he knew of about 12 journalists who had not only been killed by American troops, but had been targeted as a matter of policy," said Rep. Barney Frank, a Democrat of Massachusetts who was on the panel with Mr. Jordan.

Al-Sistani asserts control: Shi'ite cleric to approve Iraqi prime minister: Al-Sistani could also oversee drafting of the constitution.

Dahr Jamail with more stories of the horrors visited upon Falluja: 'How Are These People Going to Feel About Americans?'. Since the US worked so hard to remove all witnesses to their actions, we have no reason not to believe these horrifying accounts.

"One story is of a young girl who is 16 years old," he says of one of the testimonies he video taped recently. "She stayed for three days with the bodies of her family who were killed in their home. When the soldiers entered she was in her home with her father, mother, 12-year-old brother and two sisters. She watched the soldiers enter and shoot her mother and father directly, without saying anything." The girl managed to hide behind the refrigerator with her brother and witnessed the war crimes firsthand. "They beat her two sisters, then shot them in the head," he says. After this, her enraged brother ran at the soldiers while shouting at them, so they shot him dead....
"One of my colleagues, Dr. Saleh Alsawi, he was speaking so angrily about them. He was in the main hospital when they raided it at the beginning of the siege. They entered the theater room when they were working on a patient … he was there because he's an anesthesiologist. They entered with their boots on, [then they] beat the doctors and took them out, leaving the patient on the table to die...."
During the second week of the siege, they entered and announced that all the families have to leave their homes and meet at an intersection in the street while carrying a white flag. They gave them 72 hours to leave and after that they would be considered an enemy," he says. "We documented this story with video – a family of 12, including a relative and his oldest child, who was 7 years old. They heard this instruction, so they left with all their food and money they could carry, and white flags. When they reached the intersection where the families were accumulating, they heard someone shouting 'Now!' in English, and shooting started everywhere."

Falluja, the city turned into a concentration camp, with people being starved: Tanks, Officers Impose Order in Fallujah.

Iraqis line up in straggling columns, waiting to pass through barbed-wire checkpoints that ring this former insurgent stronghold left battered by intense fighting three months ago. Men stand in one, women and children in another. The few cars form a third....
[With the city and its economy totally destroyed:] arines handed out military rations for weeks after the battle to help the few families in the city get by, but that stopped after the Jan. 30 national election. "They have to get back on their own feet," said 1st Lt. Sven Jensen, leading a patrol from the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines....
here is little activity on the streets. People sit outside their homes talking and watching. Bored Iraqis run outside to watch when tanks grumble past. Children cover their ears against the noise. Marines patrol the streets constantly to reassure residents and to discourage insurgents. The Marines pay particular attention to young men who seem not to want to be noticed, pulling them aside to make quick mugshots in case of future troubles. Jensen said the U.S. presence is paying off. After the battle, patrols often discovered big caches of weapons, he said. The haul last week: one automatic weapon found in the trunk of a car. [Maybe they can just eliminate all the Iraqi people everywhere, thus making the city safe for the American occupiers.]

The future of Iraq? Sistani's vision for democratic Iraq has cricket but no chess. See:

Even if the Shia clergy try to stay behind the scenes, they will have great authority over Iraqi politics. Neither of the two main Shia parties, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri) and Dawa, long persecuted by Saddam Hussein, are very popular. They are seen by many Iraqis as carpetbaggers, arriving in Iraq on the back of an American tank. Sciri and the Badr Brigade, its paramilitary wing, fought on the Iranian side in the Iran-Iraq war and allegedly tortured Iraqi prisoners of war. Without the support of Ayatollah Sistani, the religious parties and independent individuals would have had far fewer votes. They must listen to the clergy.

Iraq Veteran Against the War at Harvard: Veterans Protest Iraqi War: Former soldiers in Iraq support troop withdrawal and mass anti-war movement.

class="The only way you can support the troops is by demanding they be brought back now and they be given the care they deserve when they get home,” said Michael Hoffman, a former Lance Corporal in the Marines and a co-founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW)."

Further evidence of the magnitude of the destruction of the heritage of all of us: Archeological sites in Iraq fall victim to chaos of war.

Having toured archaeological sites throughout Iraq just after the 2003 invasion and again in April, Bajjaly said looters have irreparably destroyed ancient cities, temples, carvings, pottery and other relics. U.S. and other coalition troops have also damaged sites by using some of them as military bases, she said. "This is a key area in the history of the world," Bajjaly said. "Sumerian civilization is the area that gave birth to writing, mathematics, cities, urban planning, you name it. We're talking about losing a key part of mankind's history."

More indications that potential cannon fodder is drying up: Applications to Naval Academy down 20 percent.

In the past year, at least five Naval Academy graduates have been killed in the war in Iraq _ the first combat deaths the school has seen since 1983.

AFP claims: New US commander in Iraq under orders to pave the way for withdrawal. We'll see what kind of "withdrawal" they really have in mind. Will the give up the 14 military bases?

Iraq's top military commander, General Babakir Zebari, said in a recent interview with AFP that Iraqi security forces will be in charge of the country by the end of the year, with US troops out of cities and scaled back to possibly one or two bases nationwide.... Most military experts believe US forces will have a presence in Iraq for several years.

Anywhere they have trained killers: Brazil Investigates Hiring of Mercenaries to Work in Iraq.

The O Globo report mentioned information from the so-called Iraqi provisional government, saying there are more than 50,000 men illegally working as security agents in Iraq. The report also confirmed that US firms are advertising in several Latin American countries of jobs for members of armed forces and the police to work in Iraq for good salaries.

"Historic" Iraqi election now for sale at: See: Thought Equity Announces Exclusive Iraq Election Footage Available for Licensing.

As American soldiers solicit medical books for antiquated Iraqi medical libraries, don't forget that they are antiquated as sanctioned banned the importation of up-to-date medical books. But the sanctions weren't aimed at civilians were they: Sanctions and the Health Crisis in Iraq: Compassion, Courage and Consequences.

How many of the people working diligently to secure donations of medical textbooks for shipment to Iraq know that Iraq had the best system of a health care in the Middle East prior to sanctions? Many Iraqi doctors had trained in the West. At that time, Iraqi health care boasted a system of primary and tertiary care units not unlike what we find today in the US....
At least tens of thousands--by some calculations, hundreds of thousands--of Iraqi children under five died during the 1990's from preventable, curable diseases: primarily water-borne bacteriological infections and acute respiratory infections. The Iraq of the 1980's had the medicine to treat these sicknesses. The Iraq of today does not....
he US government, has taken legal action against Voices in the Wilderness (VitW), seeking to collect over $20,000 in fines from the organization for doing exactly what Shields and Garza have done. What crime is VitW accused of? The "exportation of donated goods, including medical supplies and toys, to Iraq absent specific prior authorization by OFAC"

Someday the phones may work: Iraq to invite phone licence bids.

he ministry said that it wanted to increase Iraq's "very low telephone service penetration rate from about 4.5% today to about 25% within 10 years."

Reports that prisoners at Guantanamo Concentration Camp were sodomized, along with being beaten with chains, and given electric shocks. Some of this occurred before they were taken to the Camp of the Living Dead. I'm sure Gonzales will tell us none of those are torture: Lawyer: Guantanamo detainees sodomised.

"All of them were hung from their wrists and beaten, sometimes beaten with chains. At least one was hung upside [down] from his ankles and beaten. They were all beaten, they said, until they would pass out," Wilner said. "They were stripped naked and kept naked for extended periods of time. They were taunted while naked by female guards. "At least one of them was sodomised. At least two of them were subjected to electric shocks while hanging from their wrists," Wilner said, adding the shocks were applied using metal paddles placed under the men's arms

Ibrahim Jaafari: Iraqi Leader Says Too Soon for U.S. Exit.

Support Our Troops? For them, the suffering continues: Back from Iraq - and suddenly out on the streets.

A recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine found that 15 to 17 percent of Iraq vets meet "the screening criteria for major depression, generalized anxiety, or PTSD." Of those, only 23 to 40 percent are seeking help - in part because so many others fear the stigma of having a mental disorder.

The Spoils! Salivating: Oil companies impatient for 'new Iraq'.

blockquote>This is the face of an elite Iraq that few get to see. Foreign companies invite oil officials to neighboring Jordan to cut deals, since it's considered too dangerous for CEOs to travel to Iraq, ministry officials say privately. But the prospective oil wealth waiting just under the surface is luring international oil giants to offer computers, trips, training, and possibly cold, hard cash....
The biggest prize? A possible $3 billion contract to build a new "super refinery" producing gasoline and other oil products from up to 1 million barrels per day of Iraq crude, said a senior U.S. Embassy official in Baghdad, declining to be named. An announcement could come by the end of the month; building a new refinery could take more than two years. Companies such as Shell, Exxon and Chevron are offering all sorts of pot sweeteners to get on a refinery short list, the official said. Each one wants a "one-off" production-sharing agreement that will make it worthwhile to deal with the volatility in Iraq, including a still-changing government.

Paul McGeough: Iraq's future a free-for-all, but the quietest will be heard loudest.

The Washington Post reports a new sense of optimism in Iraq since the elections, and a turning against the insurgents. It remains to be seen if this is real or short-lived, or just propaganda: Iraqis Cite Shift in Attitudes Since Vote: Mood Seen Moving Against Insurgency.

Juan Cole on the coming theocracy: The Republicans' Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iraq.

The implementation of religious law could have a deleterious effect on Iraqi women. Bush likes to parade Iraqi women at his official events, trying to imply that he has rescued them from Arab male chauvinism. But Bush is likely to have been responsible for the biggest roll-back of women's rights in the Middle East since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

For background on the new Iraq: What Sistani Wants. And: Ayatollah Sistani to shape Iraq future as Shia bloc win looms.

Among the big losers: Women's rights: Iran's bitter lessons for Iraq.

Background on the Shia-Sunni split: Split in Islam's past key to Iraq's future.

Sistani Wants Islam to Be Sole Source of Legislation.

All of the ulema and Marja, and the majority of the Iraqi people, want the national assembly to make Islam the source of legislation in the permanent constitution and to reject any law that is contrary to Islam,” said the statement. A source close to Sistani announced soon after the release of the statement that the leader backed the demand. “We warn officials against a separation of the state and religion, because this is completely rejected by the ulema and Marja and we will accept no compromise on this question,” said Ibrahimi.

They admit to 15,000 denied the vote. Some claims are much higher: Iraqi officials say more than 15,000 people deprived of vote in Mosul area because of irregularities.

Sounds like Ohio: Complaints of irregularities emerge in Iraq's historic election.

One of the first public complaints came from Iraq's president, Ghazi al-Yawer, who told reporters that tens of thousands of people in Mosul were unable to vote because of insufficient ballots. Al-Yawer's base is in that northern city, which has a largely Sunni Arab population and significant Kurdish and Christian minorities.

CIA candidate not out yet: Allawi remains a compromise candidate.

Differing candidates for PM. Meanwhile, hidden at the end of the article is the news that the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars says it will issue a fatwa against the insurgency if a date is set for US withdrawal. Peace could be at hand, but the US is unlikely to agree: Shia coalition split over choice of Iraq premier.

The Guardian's Jonathan Steele describes the threats and pressure put on the press to guarantee good election coverage: Polls apart from reality.

GI cavorting at Camp Bucca: Army red-faced over new prison antics . And: Female member of NC-based Guard unit demoted for mud-wrestling party in Iraq .

Overheard conversations convey reality of troops' lives.

US helps establish an Islamic Republic: Leading Shiite Clerics Pushing Islamic Constitution in Iraq.

Islamic Dawa Party nominates Jafari for Prime Minister. Other reports have him being considered for President.

Not in, yet: Sadr Group Says Future Government “Illegitimate”.

“I’m afraid that the new Iraqi government will be a replica of the US-handpicked and now dissolved Interim Governing Council,” Abdel Hadi Al-Daraji told “It would also lack the needed legitimacy to exist which must be derived from the people’s consent and not from the occupation troops.”

Fraud claims persist: Kurds accused of rigging Kirkuk vote.

Turkmen and Arab parties in the northern city on Sunday said that Kurds from other parts of the country flooded the city on election day to inflate the community's vote. According to local Kurdish media, the Kurdish list expects to get about 63% of the vote for the Tamim provincial council which includes Kirkuk....
decision brokered in January by the US selected interim Iraqi government gave tens of thousands of displaced Kurds the right to vote in Kirkuk, effectively tipping the balance to the Kurdish community and drawing the ire of neighbouring Turkey. Sunni and Shia Arab parties withdrew from the local election in Tamim province in protest.

Iraqi Christians, Turkomen and Yazidis in Mosul believe they were deliberately excluded from vote: Hundreds of Iraqis protest alleged voting irregularities.

Shouting slogans and waiving Iraqi flags, they claimed polling centers never opened in their neighborhoods in the turbulent northern city and in the surrounding province, disenfranchising some 200-thousand people. Electoral commission officials in Baghdad have acknowledged that many polling sites never opened or opened late for the historic national assembly election January 30th. Some of those that did open could not be supplied with ballots and other election materials.

Across 10 provinces with election results reported so far, the CIA's Allawi is losing handily everywhere: Iraq's Contenders.

Peter Beaumont provides background on what the Shia victory will mean: Shia 'poll landslide' set to put religion at heart of Iraqi power: Victory will end oppression of the poor south.

Will enough Sunnis participate to give legitimacy? Sunnis may play role, despite poll boycott. Evidently, the Iraq Islamic Party has agred to participate: Main Sunni party to join Iraqi national dialogue.

Can they bring Sadr into the government? I will bring al-Sadr into government, says the man tipped to be Iraq's new PM. Newly elected Sdarist MPs want the US out within a year: Radical MPs call for troop withdrawal.

British role in Gulag: Revealed: Britain's role in Guantanamo abduction: Freed detainee tells of horrors in US terror camp.

Set pullout, we play: Iraqi Sunnis Link Constitution Drafting Role to Pullout.

Latest results: Shiite coalition maintains big lead in Iraqi election count. Remember, however, that the Shia-dominated provinces are the firs ones being reported,

Some secular Iraqis fear the election result: Iraq Poll Result Fear of Religious Dictatorship.

In the Basra suburb of Dur Al-Thabat, groups of young Shiites today admitted a 169 landslide could accelerate the destruction of their city’s traditionally cosmopolitan outlook. Military sources confirm their claims of an increase in Islamification attacks, focused at drinkers, women and gambling houses.... He said soldiers have received intelligence about illegal Sharia courts. He confirmed members of the Badr militia are believed to be behind the attacks.

OK, you had your vote. Now go: Sadr demands date for US pullout. However: Supporters of radical cleric 'win province'.

[Sadr demands:] "I stood aside for the elections and did not stand against them as I did not want to show disobedience toward the Marjaiyah (senior clerics). I did not join these elections so that I wouldn't be one of the West's pawns."
[Supporters:] Candidates supporting the cleric - whose militia fought against British troops - appear set to win Maysan province in Shia-dominated south-east Iraq. They are also expected to do well in nearby provinces, including Basra.

Try it out on the colonials. Of course, they don't feel pain like normal people: New non-lethal weapon lets troops microwave hostile crowds.

Officials said the vehicle, termed Sheriff, would contain the Active Denial System. [I thought they tried that system at Abu Ghraib.] The system uses millimeter-wave electromagnetic energy that can be directed at targets at a range of 1 kilometer, Middle East Newsline reported.

CIA losing: Shiites move to block Allawi from PM's post.

The Spoils! Crime pays: Halliburton exempt from Army withholding: U.S. Army won't withhold portion of disputed payments for work in Iraq.

Action Alert! Sign a petition by the Campaign for Peace and Democracy Opponents of the Occupation Condemn Attacks on Iraqi Trade Unionists. The statement also condemns the authoritarian elements of the Iraqi resistance. PLEASE SIGN: It's time for war opponents outside Iraq to speak out forcefully against the intolerant, authoritarian, insurgents whose victory will not lead to a better life for Iraqis, as we continue to demand an end to the occupation.

We, who opposed the U.S.-led war on Iraq and who call for an immediate end to the occupation of that country, are appalled by the torture and assassination in Baghdad on January 4, 2005 of Hadi Salih, International Officer of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU). There are also disturbing reports of intimidation, death threats and murders targeting other IFTU members, trade unionists in general, and political activists....
We believe that the physical targeting of trade unionists is in no way politically or morally acceptable, even though we disagree strongly with the IFTU's support of UN Resolution 1546, which supports the U.S. military presence in Iraq. This resolution has been used by the Bush Administration to justify keeping U.S. troops in the country.
We also oppose the victory of those elements of the resistance whose agenda is to impose a repressive, authoritarian regime on the Iraqi people, whether that regime is Baathist or theocratic-fundamentalist. We do not know whether such authoritarian elements have gained decisive control over the resistance to the U.S. forces and their Iraqi and international allies. We do know, however, that the continuing occupation of Iraq, which grows more brutal with every passing day, only strengthens these elements, increases their influence over the resistance and makes their ultimate victory more likely.

The hype about the election turnout may be just hype, the New York Times reveals in the last few paragraphs, where they usually hide important matters: Shiite Coalition Takes a Big Lead in Early Vote Count in Iraq. See also: Officials Back Away from Early Estimates of Iraqi Voter Turnout.

[Shiite Coalition:] A member of the election commission, Safwat Rashid, a 59-year-old lawyer from Sulaimaniya, in the Kurdish region, was evasive about the turnout, implying it might end up significantly lower than the initial estimate.
[Officials Back Away:] All credit to the brave Iraqis who did vote, and in many places they did turn out in droves. But it occurred to me, watching the moving TV images on Sunday of people standing in line outside polling places in Sunni hot spots, that maybe, as so often, the camera lied. In many embattled Sunni cities, we'd been told, many if not most polling places never opened. Wouldn't this likely cause a crush, by even a few hundred voters, at the relatively few places that did open?

As the administration ratchets up the pressure, Halliburton goes for the dough: Halliburton Doing Business With the 'Axis of Evil'.

[So clever, you'd think Cheney was still in charge] Halliburton denied it had violated a U.S. law banning "direct or indirect exportation of U.S.-origin goods, services, or technology to Iran or the Government of Iran." Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said the company had not broken the law because all of the work in the South Pars gas field would be done by non-Americans employed by a subsidiary registered in the Cayman Islands.

Minor justice. War criminal afraid to go to Germany, as he may be prosecuted for his crimes: Facing war crimes charges, Rumsfeld skips security summit

The thrill of killing is just fine! Just use discretion where you talk about it: Marine General Counseled for Comments. See Juan Cole's comments: Marine General's Idea of Fun.

One of the reasons that the Neoconservatives are wrong that unilateral war can be used for good, for spreading democracy, is that war brings out the worst in human beings, making some of them sadists and racists. Sometimes it is necessary to fight a war to defend oneself. An elective war is always a mistake. It twists one's own society, and someone else's as well.

The CIA's man appears to be loosing big. Iran the big winner: Allawi faces defeat as Iraqi cleric's team leads the polls.

It's official. We are a nation of torturers: Senate confirms Gonzales as attorney general. Some are ashamed: As Senate Votes On Gonzales Nomination, Faith Leaders Seek Forgiveness.

"In the name of the tortured Christ of yesterday and today, we cry out to our leaders to repent...You who lead us swear to God in solemn oaths, and bow your heads in reverential prayers. How can you gaze upon the tortured Jesus hanging on the cross when you do the same to us? Mark well, our leaders, There is no redemption without forgiveness, but there is no forgiveness without repentance. And so, we, entwined in the sin you have sown, to the tortured Christ of yesterday and today, do say, forgive us for our failure our leaders have imposed."

As if Gonzales wasn't enough, convicted criminal and terrorist supporter Elliott Abrams has been apointed deputy national security adviser to President Bush, in charge of promoting "democracy" [aka, terrorist attacks on anyone opposed to US interests.]: Iran-Contra Figure to Lead Democracy Efforts Abroad.

As Britain has its prisoner abuse trial, here are: photos of the abuse.

The struggle just starting: Kurdish party says self-rule inevitable.

The KDP leader was speaking three days after more than 1.9 million Iraqi Kurds - some 95% of those asked - voted for independence in an informal survey conducted by volunteers.

Juan Cole in Salon on: The Shiite earthquake.

The elections held on Jan. 30 in Iraq were deeply flawed as a democratic process, but they represent a political earthquake in Iraq and in the Middle East. The old Shiite seminary city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, appears poised to emerge as Iraq's second capital. For the first time in the Arab Middle East, a Shiite majority has come to power. A Shiite-dominated Parliament in Iraq challenges the implicit Sunni biases of Arab nationalism as it was formulated in Cairo and Algiers. And it will force Iraqis to deal straightforwardly with the multicultural character of their national society, something the pan-Arab Baath Party either papered over or actively attempted to erase.

Military suffers the consequences: U.S. National Guard Misses Recruiting Goal 2nd Straight Quarter; Marines Miss January Goal for Recruits. As a result 2 years limit on mobilization of reserves may be abandoned: Army Considers Extending Reserve: Move Would Help Meet Iraq Demand.

The price of expended cannon fodder going up: Meeting the cost of war: Survivors say money can't compensate, but it's needed. [What a total waste of money, Bush must says, paying for a soldier when (s)he's no longer of any use to me.] However, the ingrates want more: Military families say Bush plan not enough.

New survey carried out by UNICEF: Iraq: Children expect a better future, survey says.

The results showed that 3.7 percent of the respondents said life in Iraq was getting worse, but that 62 percent were optimistic, hoping to achieve success in their social life, education and work. Children also expressed concern over the economic situation of their families with some 17 percent raising this issue. Nearly 43.3 percent said they were worried about security throughout Iraq.
Many youngsters said they now felt they were connected with the outside world and have access to more information. One way was through increased availability of satellite television after the war ended in April 200...
She added that child labour seemed to have increased since the last war.

For many, no matter what else happens, terror rains down from the sky: Dahr Jamail on Life under the Bombs in Iraq.

CNN: Documents: U.S. condoned Iraq oil smuggling: Trade was an open secret in administration, UN.

Documents obtained by CNN reveal the United States knew about, and even condoned, embargo-breaking oil sales by Saddam Hussein's regime, and did so to shore up alliances with Iraq's neighbors. The oil trade with countries such as Turkey and Jordan appears to have been an open secret inside the U.S. government and the United Nations for years. The unclassified State Department documents sent to congressional committees with oversight of U.S. foreign policy divulge that the United States deemed such sales to be in the "national interest," even though they generated billions of dollars in unmonitored revenue for Saddam's regime.

One interpretation of the State of the Union: Bush comes close to admitting Iraq exit strategy.

Preliminary results suggest Shia, Kurds big winners, Allawi does only a little better than the Communist Party: Kurd leaders may play kingmaker in parliament.

The scramble for power begins: Allawi's government decried as corrupt .

A top Shia leader tipped to become Iraq's next prime minister has branded Iyad Allawi's interim government as the most corrupt in the country's history. A close confidant of Grand Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani, Husain Shahristani lashed out at the Allawi government and singled out defence minister Hazim Shaalan as the main offender....
"The fact that the minister of defence, on the day there were four suicide bombings in the capital, spends all his day at the airport trying to take a few hundred million dollars in cash out of the country before the elections doesn’t speak very well for the government's performance." Shahristani, formerly a nuclear scientist who spent 10 years in the Abu Ghraib prison, vowed the next government would review all suspect contracts made under the Allawi cabinet.

Facing new dangers from the election's winners: Basra intellectuals united by fear of rise in religious intolerance .

US stage-managed press coverage of the elections by only allowing filming at five polling stations, mostly Shia, thereby avoiding the possibility that viewers would see empty Sunni polls: Censoring the Coverage of the Iraqi Elections: "Limited to Filming at Only Five Polling Stations". Transcript of interview referred to in above article: Media Coverage of Iraq. Also revealed here is that it was US troops who carried the full ballot boxes in Mosul.

Beyond that, it must be said, there is also another wide range of factors which are actually preventing journalists from covering this election properly, and one of those factors, for example, is the way in which the American handlers who are actually running the Ministry of Information's affairs here in real terms, have designed the whole thing. I would say that along with the violence, it is just as serious an impediment for journalists. Why, for example, we've been limited to filming at only five polling stations, and we discovered when the list of the five polling stations was published that four of those five polling stations are actually in Shia areas, and therefore by definition will shed very little light on whether Sunnis vote or not....
I mean, we've got a situation in Mosul, for example, where American troops, we now discover because the Iraqi employees of the election organization have deserted en masse, it's American soldiers who will be transporting the ballot boxes around when they are full of votes. This is really very far from ideal, and if it were happening in any other country - - I mean, one could mention Ukraine, for example -- there would be a wild chorus of international protest.

What they want most is power: Electricity was top concern for Iraqi voters.

"We gave them (the interim government) an excuse because they didn't have the authority. But if the people vote for them, that means they are legitimate," said Adnan Mehdi Shaed, 36, who exchanges currency in Najaf. "I want them to fix the electricity...." Residents also said they want the new local government to clean up the raw sewage lining their streets, provide more water and end the gas shortage.

Iraq is proof: As go the plight of women, so go societies.

Watch where you go, Donald! Rumsfeld Mulls German Visit Amid Concern Over Possible War Crimes Prosecution

Juan Cole's latest post-election analysis: Religious Shiites claim Victory.

Deal-making begins on new Iraqi government. But: Within Shiite bloc, diverse views emerge. And, remember: Disgruntled Sunnis could thwart Iraq constitution.

Association of Muslim Scholars: Influential group of Sunni clerics calls Iraq's vote illegitimate.

More problems raised: US hails vote success in Mosul but Iraqi parties cry foul.

Dems will vote against, but we'll officially have a nation of torturers: Gonzales Will Not Be Blocked: Senate Is Expected to Confirm Attorney General Nominee.

No bad apples in Guantanamo Concentration Camp, only an institutionalized system of torture: Guantanamo Abuses Caught on Tape, Report Details.

Tens of thousands, mainly Sunni, prevented from voting: Iraqi officials admit vote irregularities.

Kurds set to win two-thirds of vote in tense Iraq oil city.

Robert Fisk on Democracy Now!: Iraqis Voting for "Freedom From Foreign Occupation".

Dahr Jamail: What They’re Not Telling You About the “Election”.

What they also didn’t tell you was that of those who voted, whether they be 35% or even 60% of registered voters, were not voting in support of an ongoing US occupation of their country. In fact, they were voting for precisely the opposite reason. Every Iraqi I have spoken with who voted explained that they believe the National Assembly which will be formed soon will signal an end to the occupation. And they expect the call for a withdrawing of foreign forces in their country to come sooner rather than later. This causes one to view the footage of cheering, jubilant Iraqis in a different light now, doesn’t it?...
Now the question remains, what happens when the National Assembly is formed and over 100,000 US soldiers remain on the ground in Iraq with the Bush Administration continuing in its refusal to provide a timetable for their removal? What happens when Iraqis see that while there are already four permanent US military bases in their country, rather than beginning to disassemble them, more bases are being constructed, as they are, by Cheney’s old company Halliburton, right now?

The Center For Constitutional Right: Gonzales Added To War Crimes Complaint In Germany.

CCR filed new documents on January 31, 2005, with the German Federal Prosecutor looking into war crimes charges against high-ranking U.S. officials including Donald Rumsfeld: one includes new evidence that the Fay investigation into Abu Ghraib protected Administration officials – it is a comprehensive and shocking opinion by Scott Horton, an expert on international law and the Chair of the International Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. The second is a letter that details how Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee confirms his role as complicit in the torture and abuse of detainees in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq.

As predicted by most: Shiite alliance appears headed toward forming largest bloc in Iraq's new parliament.

Although no official results from Sunday's election have been announced, officials of the United Iraqi Alliance, endorsed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, say they expect to claim roughly half the 275 seats....
The ticket headed by interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite backed by the United States, is running second in central and southern Iraq, according to politicians from several factions. In the Kurdish-run areas of the north, however, the Kurdish Alliance a coalition of the two major Kurdish parties is expected to win so many votes that it could surpass Allawi in the final national tally.

Observing the Elections in Kerbala.

The 95% expatriate voting figure is dishonest, as this was of registered voters, and the vast majority never registered. [Why would you register if you didn't intend to vote?] Low Voter Turnout of Iraqi Expatriots: Less Than 10% of Those Eligible Actually Voted.

In the United States, the number of Iraqi expatriates is about 500,000, with about 300,000 are qualified to vote. Yet, only 24,335 Iraqis reportedly voted at the five U.S. cities. That is a turnout of between 8 and 10 percent. That's it? With freedom banging on their door? What really gives with expatriates?

A new strategy to demand compensation and withdrawal: Iraqis may sue US over invasion.

Robert Fisk: "The Only Decent Food We Get is at Funerals".

Now that the elections are over, any pretence that the occupation will now end can be dropped: Iraqi President: U.S. Troops Should Stay.

Another cabinet member to be covered over torture. Evidently that's part of the job description for the Bush administration: Chertoff and Torture.

Not all are happy: Turkey slams U.S. failure to halt Kurds' designs on Kirkuk.

Robert Fisk: No One Believes the Insurgency Will End: Amid Tragedy, Defiance.

Patrick Cockburn: But the Occupiers Will Remain in Power: A Victory for the Shia.

The enthusiasm with which so many Shia went to the polls is a double-edged weapon. They did so in the belief that their ballots would translate into power. In the immediate future, the election changes little in Iraq. The world is full of parliaments duly elected by a free ballot but power stays elsewhere, with the army, the security services or, in the case of Iraq today, an occupying foreign power.

I guess they voted for permanent occupation: WH: No Withdrawal Timetable for Iraq.

Memories, memories: The Vietnam turnout was good as well: No amount of spin can conceal Iraqis' hostility to US occupation.

On September 4 1967 the New York Times published an upbeat story on presidential elections held by the South Vietnamese puppet regime at the height of the Vietnam war. Under the heading "US encouraged by Vietnam vote: Officials cite 83% turnout despite Vietcong terror", the paper reported that the Americans had been "surprised and heartened" by the size of the turnout "despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting". A successful election, it went on, "has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam"....
How you could square the words democracy, free and fair with the brutal reality of occupation, martial law, a US-appointed election commission and secret candidates has rarely been allowed to get in the way of the hype....
The initial claim of 72% having voted was quickly downgraded to 57% of those registered to vote. So what percentage of the adult population is registered to vote? The Iraqi ambassador in London was unable to enlighten me. In fact, as UN sources confirm, there has been no registration or published list of electors - all we are told is that about 14 million people were entitled to vote. As for Iraqis abroad, the up to 4 million strong exiled community (with perhaps a little over 2 million entitled to vote) produced a 280,000 registration figure. Of those, 265,000 actually voted.

In the new model, non-Abu Ghraib prison: Four shot dead in Iraq jail riot.

One potential winner in the long term: Election could retap Iraq's oil industry.

Following in 40 year-old footsteps: U.S. soldiers opposed to Iraq war seek refuge in Canada.

Protest, Resistance, and Civil War

Occupation Resistance Analysis

Mass killing in Hilla: Bombing in Hilla kills at least 125: Police recruits targeted in suicide attack. Some accounts say as many as 300 were killed.

Three US troops, five Iraqi policemen killed in fresh unrest.

War for 7-12 years: Top U.S. General Sees Lasting Iraq Insurgency. [By then, how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis will be dead, and how many hundreds of billions of dollars spent?]

Saturday: 10 killed in Iraq attacks; Fierce fighting in Iraq's Ramadi; and: Insurgents Blow Up Iraqi Oil Pipeline

Shia killing ex-Baath members: Revenge killings in Iraq on the rise.

Shiite Muslim assassins are killing former members of Saddam Hussein's mostly Sunni Muslim regime at will and with impunity in a parallel conflict that some observers fear could snowball into civil war....
The war between Shiite vigilantes and former Baath Party members is seldom investigated and largely overshadowed by the mostly Sunni insurgency. The U.S. military is preoccupied with hunting down suicide bombers and foreign terrorists, and Iraq's new Shiite leaders have little interest in prosecuting those who kill their former oppressors or their enemies in the insurgency. The killings have intensified since January's Shiite electoral victory, and U.S. and Iraqi officials worry that they could imperil progress toward a unified, democratic Iraq.

Iraq Blast Kills 3 U.S. Troops, Wounds 9.

It's not just foreign journalists who are dying: Insurgents step up attacks on Iraqi journalists.

US turning Ramadi into hell, just like Falluja: Ramadi residents flee city after latest US-led attacks.

A government official from the city, who wished to remain anonymous, told IRIN that they expected the situation to get much worse, especially in some areas of Ramadi where insurgents were putting up a strong fight. He added that most government officials had already left the city. Firdous al-Abadi, a spokeswoman for the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS), told IRIN that many people had been trapped in the university and inside mosques for over 48 hours as fighting raged outside.

Network helps Saudis to Iraq for jihad.

Nowhere is safe: Buying bread reveals Iraq's multiple dangers.

Thursday: 0 Die in Series of Attacks Across Iraq.

Another city, Haqlaniya, occupied by US: US troops roll into troubled town.

Thursday: Car Bomb Kills 15 Iraqi Police.

It's a tough job. But it's the only job: Iraqi recruits train to survive Samarra: For some, having police job is matter of survival, too. As the quotes below demonstrate, it's not clear who these plice are actually preparing to fight.

"This time will be different," he says. "Now we will have full-blown training. And also, now, the people of Samarra want a police force, they are tired of all the crime." Crime is what these men will be fighting -- many of them admit they do not feel equipped to fight terrorism. They say they are not necessarily against the "resistance," but think it's time to stop violence in Samarra. And for most, joining the police force is one of the very few options they have....
Like many of the mostly Sunni men here, Hussein did not vote. In his opinion, it won't be the newly elected government that will turn the tide in Samarra -- it will be communication between the police force and the residents. "You bring a piece of paper and say mark this. This is not freedom, this is not democracy," Hussein says. "We did not have any information about the candidates. Nothing against Allawi and the others, but something that comes with force does not have a positive impact...."
Lt. Mohammad Housson Ali, a young single man, is more outspoken. "From this government, there will only be words, only ink on paper. Don't say the Shiite list, say the Iranian list. They were all backed by Iran. "Iran is going to take the wealth of Iraq," he says. "And there is going to be a civil war between the Shia and the Sunnis. That's what is going to happen."

An Iraqi victim: Terrorists target those working with Americans.

Six die in Iraq violence. And: U.S. Soldier Killed by Roadside Bomb in Iraq.

Another inside look at insurgents: The Business of Jihad.

If this is the future, it doesn't look so good: Iraq's future hinge on special forces.

Since thousands of men deserted the army and security forces last year, U.S. and Iraqi officials have constantly praised the special forces as the cream of the units leading the battle against guerrillas. But three days with special forces last month in the former rebel town of Falluja showed that while one unit had a disciplined Iraqi commander, it was a struggle to motivate his soldiers. Most of their time was spent idling in their chaotic room which was cluttered with pots and pans full of leftover food.

Monday: Bomb kills 3 from U.S. in Baghdad.

Insurgents Wage Precise Attacks on Baghdad Fuel.

Insurgent attacks to disrupt Baghdad's supplies of crude oil, gasoline, heating oil, water and electricity have reached a degree of coordination and sophistication not seen before, Iraqi and American officials say. The new pattern, they say, shows that the insurgents have a deep understanding of the complex network of pipelines, power cables and reservoirs feeding Baghdad, the Iraqi capital....
[T]he shift in the attack patterns strongly suggests that some branch of the insurgency is carrying out a systematic plan to cripple Baghdad's ability to provide basic services for its six million citizens and to prevent the fledgling government from operating. A new analysis by some of those officials shows that the choice of targets and the timing of sabotage attacks has evolved over the past several months, shifting from economic targets to become what amounts to a siege of the capital....
The new pattern of sabotage, he said, lays the groundwork for chaos - a deeply resentful populace, the appearance of government ineffectuality, a halt to major business and industrial activities. The second side - the suicide bombings, assassinations and kidnappings - he said, is aimed in large measure at sowing discord among ethnic and religious groups.

The Iraqis, like the Americans, have their sniper heroes, experts at killing: Iraq's sharpshooting rebel legend.

The tale of how a humble calligrapher became a renowned marksman by teaching himself from websites, honing his skills with computer games and studying Hollywood films such as The Deer Hunter is the stuff of legend in the Sunni triangle of militant towns to the north and west of Baghdad. One commander after another had boasted to me of his prowess and when a meeting was arranged at a house in the capital's suburbs last week, the most striking thing about Abu Othman was his unadulterated pride in killing. He claimed to have killed 29 men in all - 20 Americans and nine Iraqis. "I want to cry when I speak about my work," he said at one point during our interview. "I am so afraid that God will deprive me of this talent he bestowed upon me...."
What drives him to keep killing? "When I snipe at my target and watch him drop, I feel elated - dizzy with ecstasy. I fall on the ground, shouting to God, calling 'Allahu akbar', for God is indeed great," he said. "When their snipers kill one of us, we go to heaven as martyrs, but when we kill them they go to hell."

U.S. and Iraqi Forces Continue Offensive in Ramadi and elswhere:

Andrew J. Bacevich claims: We Aren't Fighting to Win Anymore: U.S. troops in Iraq are only trying to buy time.

Indeed, today the Bush administration's aim is not to win but to relieve itself of responsibility for waging a war that it began but cannot finish. Debate in national security circles focuses not on deploying war-winning technologies or fielding innovative tactics that might turn the tide, but on how we can extricate ourselves before our overstretched forces suffer irreparable damage.

Is another massacre in the works? Marines launch bid to secure Iraq city of Ramadi.

More attacks Saturday: 7 killed by mosque suicide bomber. Later: At least 23 die in Iraqi attacks. Still later, ABC News reported at least 42 dead.

Friday: Five U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq Attacks. And: 54 killed in Iraq bloodshed.

Friday mayhem: Blasts aimed at worshipppers kill at least 27 outside Shiite mosques in Baghdad.

Wednesday: Corpses, Bombs Turn Up Around Iraq: Bodies Of Eight Iraqis Found In Shallow Graves; Gunmen shoot dead intelligence officer in Iraqi capital; and Two Iraqi security officers killed in northern Iraq

Crowd kills suspected bomber.

A CROWD of Shiite Muslims marking a religious ceremony spotted a suspected suicide bomber amongst them and, fearing he might blow himself up, beat the man to death, Iraqi police said today.

Wednesday: Three major Iraqi oil pipes attacked north of Baghdad.

Kidnapped Italian Journalist Appears On Video Begging For Life.

The last days of a Fallujah insurgent: Father Seeks Vindication But Finds Death in Fallujah: Bereaved Insurgent 'Was Ready for Martyrdom'.

The recollections of Abu Shaiba's last days paint a portrait far more complicated than the usual black-and-white renderings of the insurgency that has beset the U.S. occupation for nearly two years and cost the lives of more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines and thousands of Iraqis. His odyssey from Fallujah to the capital and back, across a landscape roiled by religion, tradition and militancy, illustrates the insurgent campaign's stubborn resilience and what may be its growing weakness....
He complained about foreign fighters, whom he blamed for Abu Shaiba's death. Well-financed, those men and Iraqi guerrillas who subscribe to their ideology have the upper hand, he said. He denounced the killing of Iraqi security forces, the car bombs that killed civilians and the kidnappings and beheadings for which Fallujah became known before it was retaken in November. "Fallujah became a shelter for them," he said. "We realized this too late."

Monday: Iraq election results fail to stem violence.

The first full day after Iraq's election results were announced saw three Iraqi troops die in a roadside bomb, two Baghdad police shot dead in a drive-by shooting, an oil pipeline detonated and a woman and child killed by a mortar attack.

Sunday: Iraqi general dead; 3 U.S. soldiers killed. And: Bodies of 14 Iraqis found in Mosul.

Patrick Cockburn: Two Years After the Fall of Saddam, the Resistance Controls All Major Roads into Baghdad.

Saturday deaths: Iraq hospital bomb kills 17.

A convenient myth for both sides: US and rebels hype Zarqawi’s role in Iraq, say experts.

“On the other hand, certain sectors of the resistance themselves, in order to continue and stay anonymous also attribute some of their actions to Zarqawi.”
French-based Iraqi historian Hassan al-Zaidi said it was highly unlikely that a foreigner could establish himself as a resistance leader in Iraq, a country where clans and tribes play such a dominant role. “Iraqis tend to look down on Jordanians, a bit like the French do with Belgians,” he added. “They would not accept to be led by a Jordanian.”

Friday carnage: Car bomb at mosque kills 13 in Iraq.

A car bomb exploded outside a Shiite mosque northeast of Baghdad on Friday, killing 13 and injuring more than 40, a police official and witnesses said, while masked men sprayed gunfire into a crowd at a bakery in a mostly Shiite neighbourhood in the capital, killing 11 people, police said.

Reports US troops are pulling back, allowing Iraqi forces to take over hot spots: Iraqis take over danger zone as Americans start the big exodus.

Thursday: Thirty die in fight for police station; Insurgent Violence Kills 40 in Iraq. And: US missile attack ends Iraq police station siege.

Most of the violence Thursday targeted Iraq's security forces, part of an apparent insurgent campaign to undermine public confidence after police and soldiers managed to prevent catastrophic attacks during the elections.

Thursday: More than 20 bodies found near Baghdad: Car bomb strikes busy central Baghdad square, killing at least two people, wounding six others.

Militants gun down worker at U.S. propaganda station.

Far away from Baghdad, it's a different fight: Miles of Barren Desert Dotted With Smugglers, Insurgents.

Tuesday: 21 Dead, 27 Hurt in Iraq Suicide Bombing.

The Australian reporting anti-aircraft missile as weapon downing transport plane: Clue on RAF crash missile.

Iraq Discloses Capture of Former General.

The election lull is over: Attacks in Iraq kill 30: Rebels target police in Mosul, Baqouba; Suicide bomber hits hospital compound in strike claimed by al-Zarqawi's group; Swedish man reportedly kidnapped.

Insurgents Attack Police Station South of Baghdad: Gunmen Seize Four Egyptians in Baghdad.

Sunday: Sunni rebel attacks kill three U.S. troops, 33 Iraqis.

CIA Studies Provide Glimpse of Insurgents in Iraq: Analysis Describes Groups of Fighters, Gives Clearer Picture of Their Operations.

"This person, with a tribal background, has a mix of motives including a family grievance, someone was hurt by coalition forces," said the official, who asked not to be identified because the reports are still classified. "There is also [in this Iraqi insurgent] religion and nationalism that results in a view he must fight on to get non-Muslims out of Muslim territory."

Some 21 Iraqis Killed as Vote Count Continues.

Saturday: More violence as Iraq vote count continues.

Friday: 12 Iraqis, 4 US soldiers killed in Iraq violence.

There's still plenty of money for insurgents: Bank heists fuelling Iraq's terror.

Another small battle in the civil war: Iraqi villagers kill 5 insurgents.

36 missing, 14 wounded, 2 dead: Militants Ambush 50-Strong Iraqi Police Convoy.

Near Kirkuk: Iraqi soldiers dragged off bus, 12 shot dead. And: Iraq oil pipeline suffers new sabotage.

Witnesses offer little sympathy to victims of downed Hercules.

here was little sympathy for the British servicemen among a hostile local populace, many of whom handed out orange juice to passers-by in celebration of the crash.
“They deserve it, they used to provoke us by flying very low,” said one man changing oil at the garage. He pointed to an electricity pylon to show the height at which coalition aircraft often fly. “We can’t sleep at night for the noise,” he said.

Analysis, Commentary, & Domestic Reaction

Occupation Resistance Analysis

Freedom is ending in Britain, after an 800 year reign: I Thought I’d Left the Pain of House Arrest Behind.

In this Tom Engelhardt piece, a German and an Iraqi try to communicate what life is like for those in President Bush's shadow: Potemkin World… or the President in the Zone.

Must Read! The beginning of the end for the American empire? Why Europe Ignores Bush: Iraq has telegraphed limits on U.S. power, allowing others to say no to Washington.

The net effect of Operation Iraqi Freedom has not been to make U.S. enemies tremble in the face of American power. Instead, it has made them more aware of the limits of that power....
The rift between the U.S. and Europe is evident on issues as diverse as the Kyoto treaty and the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo. But it's likely to be felt most acutely in the strategic realm, in which the Europeans plainly no longer see themselves as hitched to the U.S. on matters of global conflict and security. The Europeans will make their own policy on Iraq, building their own relationships with its new government independently of the U.S. And presumably, so will others — as power shifts toward a government dominated by groups historically closer to Iran than they are to the U.S., don't be surprised to see China step forward with aid and investment.

In Vermont, a Town-Meeting revolt over Iraq war.

Former top CIA operative says CIA license to murder and torture counterproductive: .

It was on September 15, just a few days after the attacks on New York and Washington, that George Tenet - then director of the CIA - produced at top secret document known as the Worldwide Attack Matrix for ratification by President Bush. It was, in effect, a licence to kill. Among the actions already under way or being recommended in the document were those ranging from "routine propaganda to lethal covert action in preparation for military attacks." Implemented as outlined, the Matrix, "would give the CIA the broadest and most lethal authority in its history...."
"I think it's the Attorney General and the President who are basically taking the attitude of murder in the cathedral, and ‘who will rid me of these guys, these terrorists?'," says Baer, noting that people further down the line are quick to interpret the orders as they see fit....
Are the likes of new CIA director Porter Goss and National intelligence director John Negroponte the sort of men to succumb to "pagan ethics"? And what of their so called "clearing out" of the CIA house recently? "Oh come on, the guy who oversaw collection on Iraq got it completely wrong and was promoted, what kind of house-cleaning is that? "You don't reappoint the captain of the Titanic after he loses the boat," Baer complains.

Those who will not be ignored: Revolt of the Unpeople in Brussels.

Anarcho: The Retreat from Liberty.

Kevin Wood reviews Seymour M. Hersh's Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib: Evidence of a White House 'cult'.

Monster works at restoring reputation: Troop level in Iraq criticized by Powell.

The Godfather: George Bush's Stepford Critics: You're likely to recant, zombie- like, if you betray the president.

Sneering will not help democracy: We cannot leave the building of a new Iraq to the US neoliberals.

There has been no greater abdication of leadership by the left since 1945 than its failure in the past decade to articulate how we should transform tyranny into freedom. The progressives should own this issue, but today it is President Bush's New American Century vanguard who are shaping new democracies in their own image. Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Iraq's most likely new prime minister, faces a forbidding set of challenges in constructing the world's newest democracy. The prospects for consolidation look mixed. Will Iraqis commit to democracy and reject the alternatives?...
The Iraqi majority is going to commit to democracy if it can have as predictable a future as West German or Japanese citizens of the 50s and 60s felt they had after heavy allied involvement in reconstruction was followed by intelligent applications of devolution and federalism. The bottom line is that institutions matter, but not as much as the social, ethnic and economic policies that they implement. In short, we need a bigger Iraqi middle class as soon as possible, and a welfare state.

Andrew Greeley: How long can Bush get away with lies?

Waleed Aly: Iraq's legacy may be a Middle East governed by religion.

The lies continue unravelling: Pressure grows on No 10 to publish full legal advice on war.

We've crossed a moral watershed? Will we turn back or continue into hell? Abu Ghraib, a Year Later: What's Changed?

In the coming years, world resources such as oil, natural gas and fresh water will decline amidst over-consumption and environmental despoliation. As competition for these resources intensifies, the technological means of surveillance, control and physical domination will increase in sophistication, and will be employed by those sectors of society able to use them. These changes we accept by degrees. And we have just passed through one of them. We can only hope that there will be a corresponding evolution along a moral dimension in the complex world we are bequeathing to our children.

A Native American view: Mohawk: U.S. policy in Iraq not sustainable.

Australian Chief-of-Staff during Vietnam: Iraq to be a Vietnam: retired general.

"I really believe it will go the same way as Vietnam," he told the John Laws radio program on 2UE. "It will get no better – (only) worse – and eventually public opinion in both the US and Australia and elsewhere will demand our troops come back and when they do they will be pretending that the locals can handle it all themselves, and we will just leave a bloody mess."

Nader: Bush family profited from Iraq War.

Nader and the Democracy Rising activists handed out a list of names of Bush family members that they say are "profiteers" of the war in Iraq. The list includes former president George H. W. Bush, who "only recently resigned as a board member of the finance giant the Carlyle Group." According to Democracy Rising, Carlyle was 43rd among federal contractors with $676.5 million in contacts in 2002, but one year later it moved to 11th place with $2.1 billion in contracts, "partly from the war on terrorism and partly from Iraq." Other names listed include the president's brothers Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Marvin P. Bush and Neil Mallon Bush and the president's uncle William H. T. Bush.

Thousands of Germans march to protest Bush visit.

In Australia, the Battle of the Butcher continues: Downer criticises Herald over Iraq report.

Brooklyn school kids interpret "Support Our Troops" their own way as they send letters to troops: Soldier shocked by pupils' letters.

Another read: "I feel that you are being forced to kill innocent people. Iraq never attacked us, if Bush cared so much about this country then we would be out there trying to find Osama bin Laden. Bush calls this war the war on terrorism. What terrorism? Name one terrorist from Iraq ... I know I can't."
Another stated: "Bush thinks he's brave ... in his safe little white house with as many guards as he thinks he needs." He concluded with: "By the way, when you shoot someone, is it great or horrible?"

Democracy Now! Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005) on the Iraq War & the Bush Presidency.

U.S. Citizens Abroad Aid U.S. Soldiers in Europe and Iraq to Apply for Release from U.S. Military On Grounds of Conscience.

As President Bush Visits Europe, American Voices Abroad (AVA) Announces New International Project in Support of Military Counseling Network (MCN) to Provide U.S. Soldiers With Information about Their Legal Rights

Nader Announces Democracy Rising 'Stop the War' Campaign. See the: Democracy Rising web site. Also see their: Time for an Exit Strategy: Dual Corporate and Military Withdrawal from Iraq Urged.

"The following editorial appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday, Feb. 22": Iraq War: A way out.

  • _Maintain a sizable force in Iraq throughout this year's constitution-writing process and the elections that follow.
  • _Begin negotiating with the Iraqi government a schedule for withdrawal of troops predicated on the training of Iraqi troops to replace them.
  • _Bring in European and Arab troops not to fight the insurgents, but to speed the training of Iraqi troops.
  • _Renounce any intention of setting up permanent U.S. bases in Iraq.
  • _Recognize that the new Iraqi government can gain credibility by distancing itself from the United States and its occupation. This will mean acquiescing to Iraqi positions the United States might not like, such as opposition to Israel and a central role for Islam in the new state.
  • _Concentrate on winning the support of the people, which is more important than suppressing the insurgency. Use troops to expand the areas in which Iraqis can feel secure.

John Chuckman: A Season of Depressing Political Re-runs.

Gene Lyons: Who won the Iraqi election? Not us.

This story of conflict between an embedded reporter and the unit commander is also frightening when one thinks that this lunatic is a commander, with powers of life and death: Commander conflict produces writer's cramp.

All the hoopla, not one conviction for terrorism. [But, hey, they did get reelected]: Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards?

In his end-of-year speech to Justice Department (DOJ) employees, Ashcroft said, "375 people have been charged in terror-related cases over the past three years, and 190 have been convicted or pleaded guilty..." [But] "the median sentence imposed on persons convicted for crimes in cases that the DOJ labeled as terrorism was 14 days."

Kirkpatrick Sale believes the collapse of the American empire is inevitable: Imperial Entropy: Collapse of the American Empire.

Cartoon by Mark Fiore: Torture: Still Working for You!

British Attorney general gave a legal opinion that the war could be illegal. Others changed it to support Blairs's war drive. Now the government refuses to release it: How could attorney general support such a weak and dismal argument? See also: Revealed: the rush to war. And: The law and the war.

[Revealed:] The Guardian can also disclose that in her letter of resignation in protest against the war, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, deputy legal adviser at the Foreign Office, described the planned invasion of Iraq as a "crime of aggression". She said she could not agree to military action in circumstances she described as "so detrimental to the international order and the rule of law".

Gold Star Families for Peace: For Some, a Loss in Iraq Turns Into Antiwar Activism: Gold Star Families Band Together to 'Make People Care'.

Kiss and make up? Transatlantic tensions remain. Or, with more panache by Bill Gallagher: An American President in Europe: It's Just Not Bush's Kind of Place. For yet another take, by Sheila Samples: A Kick in the Pants. Finally, William Pfaff discusses the depth of anti-Americanism among the formerly pro-American European leaders: Bush policy risks terminal strain in NATO.

[An American President:] For Bush, Europe is torture. Imagine him locked in a cell for a week. No satellite for 24-hour sports on TV. The only station is PBS. There are video games available, but the controller won't work. The only music blasting into the cell is one of Barbra Streisand's greatest hits, U2's "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" and Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis." No Bible in the cell. There are just two books: John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" and Sister Helen Prejean's new book, "The Death of Innocents." The cell food is continental. No lemonade, just cases of Perrier. A few days of that and our brave commander in chief would be turning over state secrets Cheney let him in on to get out....
There are reports that Scheib [the White House Chef] chaffed at White House orders to create an inaugural menu that honored brand names representing food companies of top Bush campaign donors. The chef had to whip up entrees using choice ingredients that included Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Coca-Cola and Pilgrims Pride butter-basted turkeys.
v[A Kick:] The US media is out there, playing the game. Each word "Bojo" Bush utters is cast before the European audience like pearls before so many swine. The media boasts that Bush plans to "go beyond" the European leaders and seize the opportunity to chat with the "peoples" of Europe.... How do you talk to a guy in a bubble while a sniper on a rooftop has you in his sights and you're being shackled and pepper-sprayed?...
Yeah. It tells me that the tiger George Bush is riding is getting hungrier by the minute. No way I'm calling the President a bastard, but if he somehow manages to dismount -- and survive -- at the very least, he ought to get a kick in the pants.

Ralph Nader: Bush's War on Veracity.

It is difficult even for news hounds to keep up with the repeated and new prevarications of President George W. Bush. When he told his council of advisors a while back that he did not have to explain because he was the President, El Jefe was not kidding.

Max Paul Friedman: Negroponte ignored human rights.

There are many fascinating results in this new poll. Among them that 60% of Americans ant a timetable set for withdrawing troops [q. 28]: NBC News/Wall Street Journal [pdf]

Secret evidence now supplemented by secret legal arguments. Are there any limits? Injustice, in Secret .

The world is opposed to the Bush plans to "spread democracy" [aka, anti-democratic, pro-US regimes]: Nine Countries Spotlighted by Poll.

Rogue state: World Churches Say U.S. Violates Law at Guantanamo.

In a clear criticism of Bush and his leading ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, it said "Leaders who used the false pretexts of terrorist connections and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to bolster their case for war will be judged by history."

Britain using questionable tactics to avoid releasing the prewar legal opinion from the AG on the legality of the war: Ministers stall inquiry on Iraq war advice. Perhaps they hope to stall till after the elections this spring/summer.

Ministers are using a procedural device to stall a referral under the Freedom of Information Act to Richard Thomas, the information commissioner. Mr Thomas, an independent watchdog responsible for policing the act, cannot step in until ministers announce the results of an "internal review" of their own decision. But they have failed to do so.

I hope antiwar Democrats will remember in '08: Hillary says Iraq withdrawal date would be a mistake HC appears to be as busy moving rightward as her husband was.

Survey researchers understand that the answers one gets on surveys has a lot to do with the questions asked. A new poll shows that when staying until stability is achieved is contrasted with bringing most of the troops home in the next year, the latter wins hands down. This is in contrast to other polls showing a majority for keeping troops in Iraq until stability is acheived: Americans Want Troops Home From Iraq.

Many adults in the United States think a large number of the soldiers deployed in Iraq must return soon, according to a poll by Harris Interactive. 59 per cent of respondents favour bringing most of the troops home in the next year.

More headlines like this one coming: High School Loses Second Alum To Iraq War.

Hassan Juma'a Awad, general secretary of Iraq's Southern Oil Company Union and and president of the Basra Oil Workers' Union says: Leave our country now. This piece aroused a brutal response from Labour Friends of Iraq: David Hirsh detects bovine excrement.

To get a more subtle view of how administration propaganda comes to dominate the news, read: Confessions of "an editor who ran Bush propaganda".

As the controversy about claims the US targeted reporters for murder unfolds, a former BBC reporter reminds us that the US openly threatened to murder journalists: Pentagon Threat to Kill Journalists in Iraq.

Justin Raimondo: Iraq: Bush Must Negotiate. Secret talks with insurgents signal hope for peace.

Along with new revelations of widespread abuse of Iraqi civilians, amounting to a policy of systematized sadism – incidents, by the way, in which Kurdish peshmergas figured prominently – the prospect of peace talks could trigger a new momentum toward a negotiated settlement of this senseless and unwinnable war. Let's negotiate with Abu Marwan and the nationalist elements of the Iraqi insurgency: we either deal with the Iraqi Gerry Adams, or else empower Zarqawi and the Islamists.

Hilary Clinton tries to show off her right wing credentials: Jaafari's possible ascent as Iraqi premier cause for concern: Senator Clinton.

More on the newest war criminal in a senior position: Dennis Hans: When John Negroponte Was Mullah Omar. And what will Negroponte bring? New Front in the War on Terror?

With aerial attacks out of the question at the moment, that leaves the option of covert operations aimed at making life impossible for the administration and paving the way for a more sympathetic government. Last week’s assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri is a good example of this approach. No serious group has claimed responsibility for the operation, which was well planned and efficiently executed, but the attack has created the kind of uncertainty that can encourage change.

William Pfaff: Why Bush will fail in Europe. See also Justin Webb: Transatlantic divisions run deep.

[Why Bush will fail:] The American claim to a dominating or hegemonic position in international affairs is bipartisan. The Clinton administration made it; the Bush administration makes it; John Kerry made it during last year's presidential campaign. It says that America's power itself imposes a right or responsibility to suppress terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and 'rogue states', and to enforce international order.
[Transatlantic divisions:] America is strait-laced and earnest, and is getting more so with every passing day.... America is fast becoming a nation of faith not fact. A nation where the unpleasant aspects of human existence are simply airbrushed away.... Americans want to believe in miracles, their heads are in the clouds. While Europeans fret about what they regard as real life, about poverty and social justice and about combating AIDS, Americans find it easier to rally round a vision, however otherworldly it might be.

A CNN executive had to resign for suggesting the US targeted journalists. CBS is terrified after its goof with the Bush Military Evasion Papers, but: Where Are All the Resignations of Editors Who Ran Bush Propaganda?

Jesuit priest John Dear: Pharisee Nation: American Nation Brainwashed.

I used to think these all-American Christians never read the Gospel, that they simply chose not to be authentic disciples of the nonviolent Jesus. Now, alas, I think they have indeed chosen discipleship, but not to the hero of the Gospels, Jesus. Instead, through their actions, they have become disciples of the devout, religious, all-powerful, murderous Pharisees who killed him....
The first thing we Christians have to do in this time is not to become good Pharisees. Instead, we have to try all over again to follow the dangerous, nonviolent, troublemaking Jesus. I believe war, weapons, corporate greed and systemic injustice are an abomination in the sight of God. They are the definition of mortal sin. They mock God and threaten to destroy God’s gift of creation. If you want to seek the living God, you have to pit your entire life against war, weapons, greed and injustice--and their perpetrators. It is as simple as that.

Antiwar groups are meeting this weekend under the United for Peace and Justice umbrella to plan strategy and revive the movement: Groups Preparing New Push Against Iraq War: Invasion Anniversary Next Month Is Date Of Campaign Kickoff. Meanwhile, Rick Jahnkow argues that the increasing unpopularity of the war, along with resistance to joining the military, provides the movement with a real opportunity to make the war more difficult through counter-recruitment work: A Turning Point for the Anti-War Movement?

Morality still resides in some: Some in military just say no to Iraq service.

Reggie Rivers in the Denver Post: Blame America? When necessary, yes.

But how many rules can the United States break before it's guilty of engaging in simple violence rather than legitimate warfare? Can you imagine us giving our blessing to any nation that held American POWs without giving them protection of the Geneva Convention? We would immediately condemn that action. But somehow, when we're the nation committing the same offense, we shrug as if it's no big deal.
I know I'll be accused of being a member of the Blame-America-First crowd, and that's OK. Too many of our citizens are part of the Blame-America?-Never! mindset, and that has the danger of leading us down a very tyrannical path.

I guess this means they don't like him very much: Poll: Bush popularity continues to erode in California.

Even in Texas, war not so popular: Poll: War support shrinking in Texas.

Peter Conrad reviews Mark Danner's Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror: Call it what you like - this is hell.

Ray McGovern on the meaning of John Negroponte's nomination: Hail, Hail The Gang's All Here.

Justin Raimondo believes this case leads straight to the architects of the Iraq war: Sex, Lies, and Jeff Gannon: The unmaking of a media whore.

The new leader: Scum Also Rises: The Bloody Career of John Negroponte.

Censorship or self censorship? PBS Warns Stations About War Documentary.

Murder of journalists en masse is fine, but talking about it gets you fired. Some world: Shooting the Messenger: The real issue in the Eason Jordan controversy is the US military's killing of journalists in Iraq

Camilo Mejia Released from Prison: Regaining My Humanity by Camilo Mejia.

We were delighted to receive a phone call yesterday, February 15, from Camilo Mejia, letting us know that he has just been released from prison. Some of you might remember Camilo, a courageous soldier who spent more than 7 years in the military, 8 months fighting in Iraq, came home for a 2-week furlough, and decided that he could not—in good conscience—return to Iraq. He applied for Conscientious Objector status, and was declared a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International. But the US military convicted him of desertion, and sent him to serve a one-year prison sentence in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. This happened the same day that Spc. Jeremy Sivits was court-martialed and sentenced to a year in prison for abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, an order Camilo had refused to obey.

Afghanistan had its Abu Ghraib: Papers reveal Bagram abuse. And prisoners in Iraq were told they wold be imprisoned indefinitely if they told of their torture.

New evidence has emerged that US forces in Afghanistan engaged in widespread Abu Ghraib-style abuse, taking "trophy photographs" of detainees and carrying out rape and sexual humiliation....
[P]hotographs taken in southern Afghanistan showing US soldiers from the 22nd Infantry Battalion posing in mock executions of blindfolded and bound detainees, were purposely destroyed after the Abu Ghraib scandal to avoid "another public outrage", the documents show.

Abu Ghraib the symbol of abuse around the world: Ghraib horror visits Daman migrants.

Pepe Escobar speculates about who was behind the Lebanese bombing: From Baghdad to Beirut.

Blame it on Syria. Blame it on al-Qaeda. Better yet, blame it both on Syria and al-Qaeda. Without a shred of evidence - or perhaps profiting from "intelligence" amassed by the Pentagon, the Israeli Mossad, or both - the Bush administration immediately blamed Syria for the bombing that killed "Mr Beirut", former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.... What many had feared - the "Lebanonization" of Iraq, bringing back the tragic memories of the Lebanese civil war of 1975-1990 - might be forced, with this assassination, to happen in reverse: the Iraqification of Lebanon....
Only Israel appears to benefit from Hariri's assassination. Significantly, one of Hariri's consultants, Mustafa al-Naser, told Iranian state news agency IRNA on Monday that "the assassination of Hariri is the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad's job, aimed at creating political tension in Lebanon". An array of Arab Middle East analysts, as well as the Lebanese government, point out that the blast was eerily similar to previous Israeli-orchestrated bombings against former Palestinian leaders....
The neo-con agenda - which happens to be Sharon's agenda - is once again pure divide and conquer: the aim is to destabilize what neo-cons see as the emerging "Shi'ite crescent" in the Middle East - Iran, the new Iraq and Lebanon, with Syria as a key transit point. A key component of this strategy is to strike a blow against Hezbollah. It's important to note that the new Shi'ite-dominated government in Iraq will be a keen supporter of Hezbollah....
The official strategy in Damascus may be of a gradual military pullout from Lebanon. But there is much chatter in diplomatic circles and over the Internet that a serious internal power struggle is going on. Hardline military/security service factions, undermining Assad, might in this case have been responsible for the assassination. Assad would never have authorized a target killing with disastrous consequences for Syrian national interests. What remains is the evidence of Baghdad in Beirut. Asia Times Online has been repeatedly told by sources in Baghdad close to the Sunni Iraqi resistance, as well as by Shi'ite sources in Najaf, that the paramount response of both Sunni and Shi'ite clerics to the wave of "mysterious" car bombings in Iraq has been to call for no revenge. The iron-clad certainty, on both sides, is that these have been perpetrated not by "terrorists" as the US claims, but rather by Israeli black ops or Central Intelligence Agency-connected American mercenaries, with the intent of fueling sectarian tensions and advancing the prospect of civil war. Now if only someone would come up with a Beirut smoking gun.

The end of Bush I's New World Order: Russia and China become part of strategic alliance – Putin now looks at BRICS alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa)

Byron Williams: Rhetoric of Democracy vs. Reality of Oil.

Must Read! "The author of the gripping new book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, reveals how the U.S. became the world's largest superpower: by forcing developing countries into debt": A Game As Old As Empire.

[O]ver the past 30 to 40 years, we economic hit men have created the largest global empire in the history of the world. And we do this, typically – well, there are many ways to do it, but a typical one is that we identify a third-world country that has resources that we covet. And often these days that's oil, or might be the canal in the case of Panama.
In any case, we go to that third-world country and we arrange a huge loan from the international lending community; usually the World Bank leads that process. So, let's say we give this third-world country a loan of $1 billion. One of the conditions of that loan is that the majority of it, roughly 90 percent, comes back to the United States to one of our big corporations, the Bechtels, the Halliburtons. And those corporations build in this third-world country large power plants, highways, ports, or industrial parks – big infrastructure projects that basically serve the very rich. The poor people in those countries and the middle class suffer; they don't benefit from these loans, they don't benefit from the projects. In fact, often their social services have to be severely curtailed in the process of paying off the debt.
Now what also happens is that this third-world country then is saddled with a huge debt that it can't possibly repay. For example, today, Ecuador. Ecuador's foreign debt, as a result of the economic hit men, is equal to roughly 50 percent of its national budget. It cannot possibly repay this debt, as is the case with so many third-world countries. So, now we go back to those countries and say, look, you borrowed all this money from us, and you owe us this money, you can't repay your debts, so give our oil companies your oil at very cheap costs. And in the case of many of these countries, Ecuador is a good example here, that means destroying their rain forests and destroying their indigenous cultures. That's what we're doing today around the world, and we've been doing it since the end of World War II.

US: Iraqi results not pleasing for US, says media: Prominent newspapers around the world continue to analyse what the Shia victory in Iraq means to the US administration.

Largest U.S. Peace Coalition to Gather in St. Louis; United for Peace and Justice to Set Strategy to End Iraq War.

The country's leading anti-war coalition will hold a key strategy and planning conference over President's Day weekend in St. Louis. Delegates from peace groups and other organizations will converge for the Second National Assembly of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), February 19-21.... At least 400 people from around the country are expected to attend. A broad array of groups will be represented including Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Black Voices for Peace, American Friends Service Committee, Peace Action, and St. Louis-based Instead of War.

Homeowner protest: A Private War in Land Park: Couple defends soldier display to hundreds of protestors and supporters.

Homeowners Steve and Virginia Pearcy placed a stuffed figure dressed in desert camouflage above their front window outside their home. The effigy, which hung above Iraqi and Palestinian flags, held a poster with the words, “Bush Lied, I Died.” The effigy remained above the house until someone trespassed on the Pearcy’s property and removed the figure. A second effigy was also stolen from the property....
Some, like radio host Mark Williams, thought the effigy qualified as a hate crime, and asked city officials to investigate.

Deja vu Lt. Calley and My Lai. The law-and-order folks defend the murders: Free Lt. Pantano.

A Sunni of Turkish origin puts forth his views of Shiite belief: The Danger Awaiting Iraq.

A new era now begins with the Iraqi elections. The Shiite world may start off on a new path for the sake of democratization, but Iraqi Shiites could also blend into Iran. The historic path and the references of the sects make the second alternative seem stronger. In its fear of Al-Qaeda, the US appears to have forgotten the violent groups of Shiite origin; it may face great disappointment in the future. The region will then be awakening from the sweet dream of democracy, and find a nightmare…

Bob Burnett: The War in Iraq: Roll Over, George Orwell.

An amazing assessment by Kenneth Katzman, "senior Middle East analyst for the U.S. Congress and specialist with the Congressional Research Service": A Pessimist On Iraq: U.S. embassy Briefing paints a less than rosy picture.

"I see a ratcheting up of de-Baathification," he said at the Feb 10 briefing. "The violence is right back up to where it was and I don't see a let-up. I don't see people joining the security forces or tipping off the security forces of what the insurgency is doing." Mr. Katzman continued in this vein for the rest of his hour-long briefing. "I'm an unreconstructed pessimist," he acknowledged. "I don't see a pathway to a stable situation; I do see this in Afghanistan. If U.S. forces were to pull out of Iraq, this government could not defend itself. The administration was hoping the election would turn this around...."
Mr. Katzman concluded in typical blunt fashion: "There is no military solution. Either they talk with the insurgents or it will go on indefinitely."

Must Read! An interview with antiwar analyst Naomi Klein: What Are We Fighting For?

Another part of the failure has to do with the way you answer the language of faith. You don't answer the language of faith with the language of more effective bureaucracy, which is the image that John Kerry's campaign presented: more effective administrators, more effective bureaucrats of war. You have to answer the language of faith with the language of morality. You can speak in powerful moral terms about the violence of war and the violence of an economic system that's excluding ever more people....
Because this war was never about bringing democracy to Iraq — at every turn democracy has been suppressed — we have a very clear role to play here. Our role is to support the demands for democracy that are coming from Iraq, where Iraqis are being violently repressed for making those demands. So we need to move beyond our desire to prove ourselves right because I think that it really has come, honestly, at the expense of the people we are supposedly working in solidarity with.

Will it all matter, asks George Monbiot: Mocking Our Dreams: The reality of climate change is that the engines of progress have merely accelerated our rush to the brink.

A parent of a soldier in Iraq: Maine Voices: How dare some say, 'Support our troops'?

Now you know why I didn't go out of my way to tell people that my son is being deployed to Iraq, and please don't ask about him if you really don't want to know. Instead, please know that you will be in my shoes or his shoes unless you ask questions and demand answers of those in power. In the meantime, please excuse me if I have a painful lump in my throat or tears brimming in my eyes and that I am so angry with this damned war and the people who declared it. Support our troops. Ask tough questions. Bring them home now.

Mother Lode.

Sistani's word could move millions into the street to hamstring U.S. forces; but despite his notional disapproval of the occupation, he has stayed his hand, waiting for power to fall like a ripe fruit into the Shiite basket. Like Bush, he is apparently willing to countenance mass slaughter by the U.S.-led "Coalition" to achieve his objectives; but then, like Bush, Sistani is not an Iraqi either: He's an Iranian. Now these two foreigners are rolling dice to settle the nation's fate.

Fred Hiat is skeptical of the US-European repair and restoration: A Few Words Between Friends.

Indeed, German President Horst Koehler, while saying "freedom from want" should be the primary Western goal, argued that too much freedom can actually spark terrorism: "Youths in the slums of Karachi, Cairo, Lagos or Jakarta are constantly confronted with what initially seems a fascinating lifestyle, the epitome of freedom. But in many respects this lifestyle is quite incompatible with their own cultural norms and values. The result is a potent mix of fascination, frustration and rejection, which in many cases may generate hatred and violence." Like Schroeder, Koehler does not factor tyranny into the mix.

Am Johal: The Republican War.

Ray McGovern tried to explain Oil 101 to a Pewaukee, Wisconsin audience: We Need the Oil, Right? So What's the Problem?

Robin Wright of the Washington Post believes Iran is a big winner and the US a loser in the Iraqi elections: Iraq Winners Allied With Iran Are the Opposite of U.S. Vision. Meanwhile, the US has been questioning the winner about their attitudes toward a US attack on Iran: With a Shiite coalition set to take...

[T]he top two winning parties -- which together won more than 70 percent of the vote and are expected to name Iraq's new prime minister and president -- are Iran's closest allies in Iraq. Thousands of members of the United Iraqi Alliance, a Shiite-dominated slate that won almost half of the 8.5 million votes and will name the prime minister, spent decades in exile in Iran. Most of the militia members in its largest faction were trained in Shiite-dominated Iran. And the winning Kurdish alliance, whose co-leader Jalal Talabani is the top nominee for president, has roots in a province abutting Iran, which long served as its economic and political lifeline.

The Arab press is not thrilled by Shia ascendancy either: Arab press wary of Shiite victory in Iraq.

Stephen Xenakis a retired brigadier general with the U.S. Army is appalled at the participation in torture of military doctors, akin to the behavior of Nazi and South African doctors: Where were medics during mistreatment? A former military doctor questions ethical lapses at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay.

While there can be long and learned legal discussions about the role of torture during wartime, the medical aspect of these discussions should be very brief: No doctor — and no military medical leader — should participate in torture in any way. Either by advising interrogators of prisoners' vulnerabilities or by simply doing nothing, they did participate. And that says more about the problems of military leadership than any memo on legal protections.

And the only US Muslim chaplain in Iraq protests the abusive way US troops treat Iraqis, which increases support for the insurgency: Muslim Chaplain Slams Heavy-Handed US Tactics in Iraq.

From NH: Time for American troops to come home from Iraq.

An interview with former Special Operations soldier Stan Goff: We can win, and we will win.

Any soldier with a high level of intellectual curiosity is a potential political scientist. Once we become curious, our experience — if one works in combat arms as I did, and actually spends a great deal of time deployed abroad — does not incline us to a great deal of abstraction. An aversion to abstraction makes a natural Marxist, I think. What Marxists call fetishisation and reification, soldiers call eyewash... or sometimes there's a more scatological term.

Baton Rouge Advocate: Coffins remind us of war's cost.

When a man or woman is killed while serving in the U.S. military, that sacrifice should be publicly recognized. It shouldn't be hidden by the government, and it shouldn't be forgotten by the people.

Kofi A. Annan: How to Move Iraq Forward.

Ben Tripp: A Leftist on the Bush Payroll.

Deborah Frisch Eichmann, Milgram, Arendt and Zimbardo: A Psychologist's Defense of Ward Churchill. See also: Anatomy of a Free-Speech Firestorm: How a Professor's 3-Year-Old Essay Sparked a National Controversy. Here is the Ward Churchill essay that sparked the firestorm: "Some People Push Back": On the Justice of Roosting Chicken. And: Ward Churchill Responds to Criticism of "Some People Push Back".

Justin Raimondo wonders why the vote count is taking so long: Iraq's Dodgy Election: Isn't it Time to Announce the Winners?

Staying the protest course: First Street protesters mark 100th gathering.

Nick Clooney: False hope in Iraq becoming the norm .

Military recruiting: Bush’s Achilles heel in Iraq.

Post-Iraqi poll bounce didn't last long, as Americans react to potential destruction of social security: Poll Shows Drop in Bush's Job Approval. But caution in interpreting this poll may be warranted: Don't Get Too Excited Yet About Today's AP/Ipsos Poll On Bush's Falling Approval Rating.

Adults were evenly divided on Bush's job performance in January, but now 54 percent disapprove and 45 percent approve. The number who think the country is headed down the wrong track increased from 51 percent to 58 percent in the past month.

Is it celebrating the mass butchery? Harrison sought for Fallujah flick.

How many died depends on attitude toward the war: Survey: Only 4 in 10 know how many troops killed in Iraq.

People who oppose the war tend to overestimate the number of fatalities in Iraq while those who support it are more likely to underestimate the death toll.

Jonathan Steele: The cheers were all ours. Iraq's illegitimate election did not justify the invasion, nor did it make occupation popular.

Iraq is a "totalitarian state", and that's official, according to the logic of Condoleezza Rice this week. Maybe it was because she was in carefree Paris. Maybe it was because she was having breakfast with a bunch of French intellectuals. But the new US secretary of state let down her political hair and stunned the company with the looseness of her terminology.

Still kicking: Activists Against Iraq War Refuse to Call it Quits.

In for the long haul: Veterans Continue Protest In Forest Hills Against Iraq War.

Now the elections are over, it's back to the future: Iraq's election was a technical success but insurgency rages and outlook uncertain.

Jack Lessenberry: Why We Must Lose This War.

"The United States needs to lose the war in Iraq as soon as possible. Even more urgently, the whole world needs the United States to lose the war in Iraq. What is at stake now is the way we run the world for the next generation or more, and really bad things will happen if we get it wrong.”

Justin Raimondo: Americans Die for Sharia in Iraq: We're creating an Islamic Frankenstein monster.

La Repubblica: "Putting it in a nutshell, there will be no more stoning of adulterous women, is that it?" Al-Yasari: "Well, it depends. In the case of married women whom eye witnesses can accuse of betraying their husbands, the punishment can only be that. But in any event there will be very few exemplary sentences, and they will always be issued after a fair trial."

Harold Meyerson also is concerned about the Islamic takeover: Fighting for Islamic Law .

The new Iraq, in short, may look a good deal like Iran-lite -- a state where Shiite clerics exercise indirect control, and that poses less of a threat to the wider world than the regime of the Iranian theocrats. But, Cheney's assurances notwithstanding, how can we be certain that the Shiite clerics of Iraq and Iran won't begin to find common cause on a range of issues? Indeed, it's not hard to foresee a time a year from now, when U.S. Special Forces are in harm's way in underground operations attacking the mullahs' regime in Iran while U.S. soldiers and Marines are in harm's way defending a government of increasingly Iran-style mullahs in Ira

Irish peace activists: A Different Kind Of 'Route Irish': Can Shannon Airport be Transformed into a Sanctuary for War Resisters?

Retired Marine Corps officer Gary Anderson: But what about the Sunnis?

Interview with historian Howard Zinn, conducted by Scott Harris: Throughout History, Transition to Democracy Rare Under Military Occupation. Or: lLsten [Real Audio].

Proper Elections for a Proper Civil War? Tom Friedman: Scribe for New Age Imperialism.

"We have to have a proper election in Iraq so we can have a proper civil war". Say what? Did he really say that...
Friedman's talent ensures that he will remain the unrivaled champion of imperial doctrine for years to come. He's simply the best around. His unctuous prose provides the rationale for warfare and a justification for the criminal violence against the Iraqi people. What else would you expect from the empire's foremost apologist? His columns form the ideological headwaters of new-age imperialism; celebrating the ritual of armed savagery to anyone who will lend an ear.

Ben Lim argues that oil is at the root. Control of oil is critical as a tool to control China: Iraq: Electoral process used to enforce US hegemony.

The neocons believe that unless the US uses its military presence in Iraq to seize and consolidate its hold on the oil resources of the Middle East, oil-hungry US industries would not be able to compete against a fast rising China....
There is no doubt that Washington’s primary objective in the elections is not the hand-over of power to Iraqis so they can rule themselves, but to bring together a compliant set of Iraqi leaders in the newly elected National Assembly, which would craft a constitution that would allow Washington to establish permanent military bases in Iraq and free access to Iraqi oil resources.

Former CPA adviser argues that the elections should have been postponed: Larry Diamond on What Went Wrong in Iraq and Prospects for Democracy and Stability.

And I can tell you that one of the things I most strongly objected to in the making of the interim constitution, for which I was an advisor, was the repeated insistence on the part of the United States that Iraq write into its interim constitution a provision that would enable a treaty, for example, a treaty granting permanent military bases, to be approved by the lowest possible threshold imaginable. Initially our position was, signed by the prime minister should be good enough. Then when the Iraqis, one of whom was a lawyer trained in the United States who has taught law in the United States and understands our constitutional system well, said, "Well, you have two-thirds vote of the Senate to ratify your treaties. That sounds like a reasonable threshold," there got to be an interesting pushing and shoving match between the Iraqis and the United States. They said two-thirds, we said simple majority. It went back and forth down to the final night of the writing of the Iraqi interim constitution. And guess which vote was enshrined into the Iraqi constitution? Simple majority.

The Christian Science Monitor says now Iraqi women will have to fight for their rights that are under attack: Sop to Iraqi Clerics?

Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker says celebrate the election as an unintended byproduct of the invasion: Landmarks.

But, for the moment at least, one can marvel at the power of the democratic idea. It survived American slavery; it survived Stalinist coöptation (the “German Democratic Republic,” and so on); it survived Cold War horrors like America’s support of Spanish Falangism and Central American death squads. Perhaps it can even survive the fervent embrace of George W. Bush.

You can fool some of the people some of the time: Poll: Iraqi elections give Bush boost.

Greg Felton: Democracy--a euphemism for occupation.

Michael Scheuer: Imperial Hubris: An Author Reviews the Reviews of His Book.

Bush for democracy? Surely you can come up with a better joke than that: Bush's rhetoric battles with his policies.

This is the same administration that was the only government in the Western Hemisphere to recognize the ill-fated coup attempt against the democratically elected leader in Venezuela. Despite its democratic pronouncements, this administration remains a steadfast supporter of entrenched autocrats in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Central Asia. elected leader in Venezuela. Despite its democratic pronouncements, this administration remains a steadfast supporter of entrenched autocrats in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Central Asia....
Rather than a democratic idealist, Bush is better described as someone who has co-opted the language of democracy while pursuing business-as-usual policies.

To pay for his war and his tax cuts for the ultra-rich: Bush Proposes Big Cuts to Rein in Deficit.

The Albuquerque Tribune: Editorial: We must move past platitudes - and leave Iraq.

If Bush can't enunciate and implement a reasonable and timely exit strategy for the war, Congress should do it for him - with its checkbook, if necessary. The honor of Iraq and America is at stake. So are thousands of lives and billions of dollars....
What we did not hear in Wednesday's rhetoric was that: The United States is building permanent military bases in Iraq; minority Kurds conducted an unexpected referendum on independence in conjunction with Sunday's vote; and the underlying national security reason for our military presence in Iraq - indeed, the entire Middle East - is our utter dependence on foreign oil....
The president insists he is not empire-building and has no imperial designs on Iraq or its resources. He should prove it by leaving. Bush rejected "an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq." We would, too - as we do his artificial criteria for staying, criteria that arguably are designed to maintain U.S. power in Iraq indefinitely.

Not joining in the hoopla: Blix: War against Iraq unjustified: World does not stand to benefit in a big way.

Trend-setters: Poll: Hispanics back U.S. pullout in Iraq.

Patrick J. Buchanan questions what forces are advancing: Is Democracy on the March – or Revolution?.

But when kings, autocrats, or despots are deposed and the people rejoice, it has not always meant democracy is assured. In modern history, people's revolutions have produced tyrannies far more monstrous than the ones they have pulled down.

Tariq Ali: Out with the old, in with the new: The Iraqi elections were designed not to preserve the unity of Iraq but to re-establish the unity of the west.

Omayma Abdel-Latif in Al-Ahram discusses the selling of the election "success": Manufacturing consent.

Robert Fisk on the evolution of writing and its effect on history: The sins of our fathers, the folly of man and the art of documenting history.

Jeremy Iggers of the Minneapolis Star Tribune asks, "Is the US military guilty of war crimes in Iraq?" The ethics of war.

It isn't only a question about the moral culpability of American troops, their commanders or their political leaders. While they bear moral responsibility for their actions, we as citizens in a democracy share responsibility for actions undertaken in our name. That responsibility is not diminished by the fact that Iraqi insurgents are committing horrific crimes against their own people. In years to come, the world community will likely ask of us: Did we know? Did we care? Did we speak out?...
For as long as the United States remains the world's only superpower, and as long as we refuse to submit to the authority of international tribunals, nobody else can compel our government to investigate these incidents, punish wrongdoers, or stop employing strategies that cause high numbers of civilian casualties. Those responsibilities fall to us as Americans, for the sake of our own honor and self-respect.

Hell no! We won't go: U.S. Soldiers Head North To Seek Asylum.

"The only inalienable right that I have as a human being, regardless of your country of birth, is my right to choose between right and wrong," he said. "It leaves me here with my conscience intact to deal with the rest of my life."

Jim Lobe: Hawk-Realist Impasse Could Persist in Second Term.

Noam Chomsky: Iraq and international order.

Robert Collier explores the analogies between the Iraqi elections and other wartime elections: Iraq's election turnout carries eerie echo of Vietnam in 1967.

Doomed to repeat it: Western interference has thwarted democracy in the Middle East.

Khalidi’s book documents a strong liberal, democratic orientation among many influential Arab, Turkish and Iranian intellectuals. And countries throughout the region — including Egypt, the Sudan, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and Lebanon — experienced “pioneering early constitutional and democratic experiments,”
But “Western powers repeatedly undermined these systems. ... This is therefore not a situation in which it is necessary for enlightened Americans or Westerners to bring democracy to benighted ‘rag-heads’ stuck in the Middle Ages who have never experienced it....
Khalidi’s book has particularly harsh words for “experts” who appear on television and routinely blame Islamic leaders for political tyranny. “The obsessive and unfounded focus on Islam as the reason for the lack of democracy in the Arab or Islamic world is intended to distract attention from other more obvious reasons, like the incessant interference of the Western powers....
Khalidi believes “the most piercing critiques” of current U.S. policies are coming from conservatives or from the military, including some analyses that are not public.

Dahr Jamail: Democracy At Gunpoint.

Barry Rubin of UPI: The future of Iraq.

The result will most likely be a regime dominated by the Shiites that will make a deal with the Kurds against the Sunnis. The rulers will have a vested interest in getting along with the United States (even while increasingly criticizing it), creating a system which is more Islamic than in Egypt or Jordan while far less so than in Iran, viewing both Iran and Syria as hostile, and will be somewhat more democratic than Egypt and Jordan while far less so than the United States would hope....
Second, McAllister skewers the mystification about what is going on in Iraq -- it is a power struggle pure and simple. He quotes a proverb to the effect that those who do not defend their assets will be destroyed and those who do not oppress others will end up being oppressed themselves. The violence in Iraq is "a realignment of power centers"

Expletive-on-car case dropped for lack of a witness.

The future is not the West: The West Has No Monopoly Claim on Modernity.

Unbelievable! Anti-Bush Bumper Sticker Leads to Threat of Iraq Duty or RNC Bathroom Duty.

Homeland security nominee Michael Chertoff retaliated against a whistle-blower for telling the truth and then lied to Congress about it. Seems par for the course for Bush cabinet members: A Whistle-Blower's Inside View of the Homeland Security Nominee. The issue was the lies the government told about their gross violations of John Walker Lindh's civil liberties.

Richard Clarke responds to State of the Union: Richard Clarke, former federal counterterrorism specialist, gave his counterpoint to President George W. Bush's State of the Union address last night.

"They [the administration] are using tactics - torturing and destroying cities," said Clarke. "These images are being carried throughout the Islamic world on television... All new generations of terrorists will come about...."
"The vote was a beautiful site," said Clarke. "But, this doesn't mean the invasion was justified or that there will be a happy ending."

GOP students raise money for proud murders: College shuts down student GOP fund-raiser.

The Jesuit school said the wording on some of the signs and merchandise for sale at the student booth was bothersome, particularly the slogan, "1 Shot, 1 Kill, No Remorse, I Decide."

Iraq invasion threatening US world domination: Biden says it's U.S. duty to rebuild Iraq: Senator says White House has alienated allies.

We may suffer the effects for a long time to come: Risk of 'Blowbacks' in Iraq.

We'll all pay for the war and tax cuts for the rich: Bush plan cuts domestic programs.

The land of the free? Principal bans 'anti-military,' 'anti-American' materials.

A Cookeville (Tenn.) High School administrator said Veterans for Peace and a Quaker group can't come back into his school with materials considered ''anti-American'' and ''anti-military...''
Black said [Principal] Shank specified some quotes in the literature that he objected to, including one from a 1953 speech by President Eisenhower that said, ''Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed. Those who are cold and are not clothed....''
The principal also said their literature could be shown only in a classroom setting that would allow an opportunity for a ''balanced'' presentation. Military recruiters and other groups don't face that restriction, the peace activists said. Veteran Charlie Osburn said his group doesn't understand why military recruiters and others such as the Association of Christian Athletes are allowed into Cookeville High School without the same restrictions.

Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out tour the Boston area, speaking at Boston's historic Faneuil Hall: A plea for troops to come home. And in many community sites, including Lowell: Iraq war vet speaks out at UMass Lowell against U.S. involvement. and Cambridge: Iraq vets speak out against war. Having been at two of these events, I was extraordinarily moved by these young folks. They give me hope that our country does, indeed, have a future.

Listening to "terrorists". Imagine that: Koranic duels ease terror.

Martin Samuel: Keep your freedom sermons.

N THE wake of the Iraq elections, here is a list of those from whom we shall not be accepting sermons on freedom:

"Fascism" has been coopted by the right as a term to use against Islam, thus protecting the right from being so characterized,says Albert Scardino: 1-0 in the propaganda war: How the right played the fascism card against Islam.

Usage has gathered momentum among commentators and academics who seek a verbal missile to debilitate those who disagree with them. They have adopted it as a sort of Judeo-Christian war cry - look for it soon in the title of a neo-conservative think tank conference.

Haroon Siddiqui: A colonial take on Iraq vote.

Yes, there would have been no election without the invasion. And the dawn of democracy is indeed glorious. But 100,000 Iraqis are dead, according to a Johns Hopkins University study. Is there anyone, even among the warmongers, who wants to argue in favour of killing that many people in some other nation to make them free? Iraq was not invaded to give the locals the right to vote. That retroactive rationale, one of many, is so patently false that its logic stacks up thusly: If Iraqi insurgents killed hundreds to stop the vote, Americans killed 20 times that many to get to it.

Norman Soloman: Too Much Stenography, Not Enough Curiosity.

Curiosity may occasionally kill a cat. But lack of curiosity is apt to terminate journalism with extreme prejudice....
Since last summer, the leadership of the "interim" government in Baghdad has been largely comprised of Iraqis opting to throw their lot in with the occupiers. At this point, their hopes for power – and perhaps their lives – depend on the continued large-scale presence of American troops. Naturally, the current prime minister Ayad Allawi, installed by the U.S. government last June, now claims the insurgency will be defeated if the American troops stay long enough. Even President Ghazi al-Yawer, who has been critical of some aspects of U.S. military operations in Iraq, is now touting the need for Uncle Sam's iron fist. As February began, al-Yawer declared at a news conference: "It's only complete nonsense to ask the troops to leave in this chaos and this vacuum of power."

Iraqi exile and Shia imam Ibrahim Kazerooni: Iraq kudos misplaced.

It was only after the White House realized that al-Sistani and the Shiite community were prepared to follow through on their threat that President Bush grudgingly acquiesced to repeated Shiite demands for early, direct elections....
Demanded by, designed by and managed by Iraqis, Sunday's election showed us that the Iraqi people are far more competent at managing their country's affairs than the Bush administration is....
Without exception, the Iraqis I talked to inside and outside Iraq saw voting in Sunday's election as, first and foremost, a vote for the immediate withdrawal of occupation forces and, second, a vote to take control of their day-to-day lives, which have only worsened as a result of the White House's incompetent mismanagement of Iraq.

Investigative journalist not doing their job, says Charles Lewis: A Culture of Secrecy: What has happened to the principle that American democracy should be accessible and transparent?

[A]t the Republican National Convention in New York, more than 1,800 protesters-predominantly non-violent-were arrested during the days of the convention and kept from public view, some held for 60 hours without seeing a judge, prompting a State Supreme Court judge to order hundreds of them released and finding city authorities in contempt. Civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel said at the time, "We believe the city's plan is to keep protesters detained until George Bush leaves the city tonight." Although Siegel's statement was hotly denied by authorities, the incident nevertheless represented the largest number of dissidents arrested at a political convention in U.S. history, more than Chicago 1968 or Miami 1972. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's explanation: "The city did what it was supposed to do: It protected the streets."

Here is the much quoted this week New York Times 1967 article on the Vietnamese elections: U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote: Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror.

Arianna Huffington asks: So, Exactly What's Changed?

It's impossible not to be moved by the stories coming out of Iraq: voters braving mortar blasts to cast ballots; election workers counting votes by the glow of oil lamps; teary-eyed women in traditional garb proudly holding up their purple-ink-stained fingers. It was a great moment. A Kodak moment....
Forgive me for trotting out Santayana's dictum that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, but, for God's sake, can't we even remember last week?...
Let's not forget that many Iraqi voters turned out to send a defiant message not just to the insurgents but also to Bush. Many of those voters' purple fingers were raised in our direction.

Frank SmythFrank Smyth says the challenge ahead is to try negotiating with the insurgents, if it's possible: Next test: insurgents.

At last We got our hands on it! Karl Rove's Memo to Bush on the Middle East.

Reading the Elections.

Leslie H. Gelb suggests a path forward: A fairer path to an Iraqi constitution.

A top Marine General it is"fun to shoot some people.": Marine General's Blunt Comments Draw Fire.

"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for 5 years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis continued. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."

Gonzales OK could be seen as OK for torture rules.

Fraser Nelson takes note of many two faced moments in Blair/Bush policy: Brave Iraqi voters give Bush much to savour.

No-one in the West has anything to feel smug about. But everyone can look with humbled awe at the character of the Iraqi people as they make their own way to democracy, defying sceptics just as Afghanistan did with its elections last October.

Eric Margolis: Iraq's Predetermined Elections.

For now, Iraq's real government will continue to be the US Embassy in Baghdad, the world's largest, and 150,000 US occupation troops. The fact that the US occupation authorities will control every key aspect of political, economic and security in Iraq seems to have escaped the gushing US media.

Tom Boogaart: Why Iraq's Election is a Turning Point.

New York Times sees hope. Says US must stay: Next steps in Iraq.

The American media and the Iraq election.

The dishonesty of the Times is underscored by the flagrant contradiction between its post-election position and what it wrote just three weeks ago. On January 12, the newspaper published an editorial calling for a postponement of the election because it feared the vote would be largely boycotted by the Sunni population. This would, the Times argued, undermine the election’s legitimacy and possibly provoke “a civil war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims,” an outcome that “everyone agreed had to be avoided at all costs.”
“The coming elections—long touted as the beginning of a new, democratic Iraq—are looking more and more like the beginning of that worst-case scenario,” the newspaper wrote.
The Times’s “worst-case” scenario of January 12 is essentially what transpired on January 30. The turnout in the largely Sunni areas of central Iraq was negligible. That, however, did not prevent the Times from hailing it on January 31 as a “heartening advance by the Iraqi people.”

Molly Ivins: Election Déjà Vu: Iraq election heartwarming, but haven't we been here before?

Mark Morford: Come See Our Brutal Democracy: Freedom Rings in Iraq! Bush was Right All Along! American Wins! Or, you know, Not.

Look. Democracy is good. Treasonous BushCo dishonesty and misprision and an outright ignorance regarding exit strategies and the true costs of war, are not. Republicans and Bush apologists are quick to ignore, in this momentary orgy of political spin and PR, how not a single one of the problems Iraq faced before the elections have been solved....
In fact, to prove we don't really give a crap for the lovely "march of democracy" Republicans so love to gloat over, let's note right here how the U.S. regularly gives billions in aid to those very same repressive, dictator-friendly burgs of Egypt and Jordan and Pakistan. Ah, flagrant hypocrisy, thy name is Bush.

Fareed Zakaria: Elections Are Not Democracy.

Simon Jenkins: Sunday's election is meagre payback for reducing Iraq to utter chaos.

That the elections were held, and with an impressive turnout, is plainly a credit item on the balance sheet of the invasion.... Any election is a ray of sunlight. So, some Iraqis might say, would be a tap that flows, a light that works and a hospital where staff are not kidnapped daily on the way to work....
The story is the old one. We are right to invade a sovereign state “if” its people get the message. If they do not, that is their fault, not ours. The new global morality is not just relative, it is conditional. Iraq is suffering an epidemic of subjunctivitis....
I believe the challenge here is not military but intellectual, even racial. Nobody doubts that US and British forces can stay in Iraq as long as they like, killing and being killed. We can argue all night over “what we want to see in Baghdad” and with the best of intentions. But we seem unable to query the subject of that verb. We cannot believe that a Western presence anywhere in the world might be illegitimate and counterproductive. We cannot believe that the route to stability in Iraq might begin only when we go home (as it did in Lebanon).

Former Soviet President: Gorbachev Calls Iraqi Elections “Fake”.

In an interview with the Interfax news agency, he said the elections are “very far from what true elections are. And even though I am a supporter of elections and of the transfer of power to the people of Iraq, these elections were fake.”

Another: Soldier flees to Canada rather than return to Iraq.

“I started to think ... what’s it really for? I was willing to die for my country. I thought I was going over there to defend my country. But that’s not what I was doing,” Anderson said in Toronto.

James Carroll: rain Wreck of an Election.

Iraq is a train wreck. The man who caused it is not in trouble. Tomorrow night he will give his State of the Union speech, and the Washington establishment will applaud him. Tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead. More than 1,400 Americans are dead. An Arab nation is humiliated. Islamic hatred of the West is ignited. The American military is emasculated. Lies define the foreign policy of the United States. On all sides of Operation Iraqi Freedom, there is wreckage. In the center, there are the dead, the maimed, the displaced -- those who will be the ghosts of this war for the rest of their days. All for what?
There is only one way in which the grand claims made by Washington for the weekend voting will be true -- and that is if the elections empower an Iraqi government that moves quickly to repudiate Washington. The only meaning "freedom" can have in Iraq right now is freedom from the US occupation, which is the ground of disorder. But such an outcome of the elections is not likely. The chaos of a destroyed society leaves every new instrument of governance dependent on the American force, even as the American force shows itself incapable of defending against, much less defeating, the suicide legions. The irony is exquisite. The worse the violence gets, the longer the Americans will claim the right to stay. In that way, the ever more emboldened -- and brutal -- "insurgents" do Bush's work for him by making it extremely difficult for an authentic Iraqi source of order to emerge. Likewise the elections, which, as universally predicted, have now ratified the country's deadly factionalism.
Full blown civil war, if it comes to that, will serve Bush's purpose, too. All the better if Syria and Iran leap into the fray. In such extremity, America's occupation of Iraq will be declared legitimate. America's city-smashing tactics, already displayed in Fallujah, will seem necessary. Further "regime change" will follow. America's ad hoc Middle East bases, meanwhile, will have become permanent. Iraq will have become America's client state in the world's great oil preserve. Bush's disastrous and immoral war policy will have "succeeded," even though no war will have been won. The region's war will be eternal, forever justifying America's presence. Bush's callow hubris will be celebrated as genius.

Thomas Oliphant: US military is the big threat now.

Reaction quite complicated, unlike most triumphalist US press: Who Gets the Credit in Iraq? Some Praise Bush's Policies, Other Say Election May Bolster Opponents of Occupation.

In a peculiar turn of political events, the elections that Bush welcomed may wind up being the best means of undoing his Iraq war policy.

Robert Scheer: Now, U.S. Must Get Out of Iraq's Way.

It is hard to imagine how the Kurdish and Shiite parties are going to finesse the fact that the Sunni religious minority that ruled Iraq off and on for centuries largely boycotted the election. Yet, if the newly elected leaders can smartly wield real democratic power for the common good, it could be a major step toward a stable and legitimate Iraq. It would be hopelessly naive, however, to believe that the agenda of those elected will mesh smoothly with that of the occupiers, or do much to dampen the insurgency....
[T]here can be no doubt that the Iraqi election results are a historic victory for a posture of self-determination rather than subservience. Make no mistake: A clear victory for Sistani does not fit the White House neoconservatives' blueprint for creating a more pliable Middle East.

Newsday Vote aside, much hard work remains in Iraq.

"There is an enormous amount of euphoria, but we have to see how much will change on the ground," said Phebe Marr, an Iraq specialist at the U.S. Institute for Peace here. "There is a sense of empowerment by Iraqis, but nobody expects the insurgency to end. We still have to establish the Iraqi forces. Constitutional issues have to be thrashed out. There is still a monumental task ahead."
Others pointed out that crime, political and otherwise, is still rampant in Iraq, and that unemployment is up to 40 percent.

Now that it's obvious and largely irrelevant: It's official: CIA admits mistake about Iraq arms: Chemical weapons report is part of belated series in bid to correct its record.

We're in big trouble. Many young against freedom: U.S. students say press freedoms go too far.

Results come in: Sponge Bob wins Election in Iraq!

Middle east expert Juan Cole said he was not surprised at the result. "If the worlds most powerful nation can elect and ignorant illiterate wana-be cowboy that why can't the Iraqi people be lead by a yellow Sponge with Square pants?" Dr. Cole went on to say, "Sponge Bob has an excellent chance to salvage the nation of Iraq. With his universal appeal and the diplomatic strength of Patrick, I think they can succeed where the Bush team and Iyad Allawi have failed.

Oh, freedom: Mr. Frank's Fatwah: New Republic Calls for Death and Torture of Arundhati Roy and Stan Goff.

German papers present tempered view of elections: A Democratic Dilemma in Iraq.

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