March, 2004

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

The Occupation

Cost of the War in Iraq
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Occupation Resistance Analysis

Iraqis use gallows humor to cope: Iraqis laugh their way through occupation.

An American soldier serving in a quiet district of Najaf was distraught when told he was being reassigned to volatile Falluja. Inconsolable as he guarded his post, the soldier was given the solution to his woes by a friendly Shia Muslim sage. The sage told him to change his name to Husayn (a popular name among Shia), as this would protect him in times of danger. Two weeks later, when the soldier found himself at the mercy of a Sunni Muslim resistance fighter in Falluja, he begged for his life by invoking the name of Husayn. "Not just an American, but a Shia too," yelled the fighter, before shooting the soldier dead.

A new threat to Iraq reconstruction, a brain drain due to targeted assassinations of intellectuals and professionals: Iraqi intellectuals flee 'death squads'.

[F]amilies and colleagues of victims believe that Iraqi parties with foreign affiliations have an interest in wiping out Iraq's intellectual elite. Media reports suggest that more than 3000 Iraqi academics and high-profile professionals have left Iraq recently, not to mention the thousands of Iraqis who are travelling out of the country every day in search of work and safety. "Iraqis used to leave Iraq during the 13-year UN sanctions for better work opportunities, but they are leaving now to avoid being assassinated by unknown, well-organised death squads," said political analyst and politics professor Dhafir Salman.
Usama al-Ani, director of the research and development department in the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research said top Iraqi scientists have been targeted by foreign parties. "I believe Iraqi scientists are being targeted by foreign powers, most probably Israel."

An overwhelming majority of Portuguese want out of Iraq. Does Portugal have democracy? Vast majority of Portuguese want troops in Iraq withdrawn: poll.

According to Juan Cole, Chalabi is trying to kick out the UN to avoid fair elections, in order to steal power: Iraqi Council Bars UN from Overseeing Elections .

Riverbend tells of meeting a 19-year old, recently released from a US concentration camp, who is desperately trying to rescue her mother and three brothers from who knows what fate at the mercy of the Americans: Tales from Abu Ghraib....

On a cold night in November, M., her mother, and four brothers had been sleeping when their door suddenly came crashing down during the early hours of the morning. The scene that followed was one of chaos and confusion… screaming, shouting, cursing, pushing and pulling followed. The family were all gathered into the living room and the four sons- one of them only 15- were dragged away with bags over their heads. The mother and daughter were questioned- who was the man in the picture hanging on the wall? He was M.'s father who had died 6 years ago of a stroke. You're lying, they were told- wasn't he a part of some secret underground resistance cell? M.'s mother was hysterical by then- he was her dead husband and why were they taking away her sons? What had they done? They were supporting the resistance, came the answer through the interpreter.... She was made to sit on her knees, in the interrogation room while her mother was kicked and beaten to the ground.
A couple of terrible months later- after witnessing several beatings and the rape of a male prisoner by one of the jailors- in mid-January, M. was suddenly set free....
M. and her uncle later learned that a certain neighbor had made the false accusation against her family. The neighbor's 20-year-old son was still bitter over a fight he had several years ago with one of M.'s brothers. All he had to do was contact a certain translator who worked for the troops and give M.'s address. It was that easy....
By the end of her tale, M. was crying silently and my mother and Umm Hassen were hastily wiping away tears. All I could do was repeat, "I'm so sorry... I'm really sorry..." and a lot of other useless words. She shook her head and waved away my words of sympathy, "It's ok- really- I'm one of the lucky ones... all they did was beat me."

Iraq experiences Shia creativity. As Ghaith Abdul Ahad reports, sex is ok, as long as the man and women get married -- for a few minutes or a few months: Baghdad blog: Shia Iraqis are now free to vote, protest and even have sex - so long as they get married first.

[A]ccording to Shia theology, a man and a woman can get married for an agreed period of time, varying from a few hours to years. If the woman gets pregnant, the child will be "officially" recognised. In some cases, the ayatollahs go as far as allowing sex with a prostitute if she agrees to marry the client for half an hour....
A year a go, none of the couples I spoke with would dare discuss openly their sexual life - or "it" - but with satellite dishes the taboos are falling down one by one. The "it" we are now talking about is not quite the one you may think - most sex even between temporarily married young Iraqis is non-penetrative, as virginity remains a requirement for the more permanent kind of marriage. The young may be buzzing with desire and enjoying their newfound freedoms under the eyes of the ayatollahs, but it will be a while before the real sexual revolution can take place in this country.

A detailed discussion of: Iraq’s Odious Debt: Where Do We Go from Here?.

It can be said without exaggeration that the collapse of the Iraqi economy was unique among developing countries in the 20th century. Having risen to the status of upper middle-income countries the economic decline which started in the 1980s has pushed the Iraqi economy to a level comparable to those of heavily indebted poor ones. This paper will focus on one aspect of the collapse: foreign debt. It will argue that the bulk of this should be declared odious and the people of Iraq should not be required to repay it.

Halliburton may be a distraction from the real scandal: Focus on Halliburton Masks Deeper Problems With Iraq Contracts. Also, more potential for fraud due to lack of standard oversight procedures: Watchdog Agency Faults Lack of Iraqi Oil Metering.

[Focus on Halliburton:] But the obsession with Halliburton might be obscuring a larger problem with the US-led rebuilding effort: lack of government oversight.... The latest indication comes in a report last week from the Pentagon's inspector-general, which found there was "little or no government surveillance" on 13 of 24 rebuilding contracts awarded at the outset of the war and that contacting officers failed to support price estimates on nearly all those assignments.... It noted, for example, that a single Halliburton contract extension worth $587m was renewed in 10 minutes - with just six pages of documentation. [One page per $100 million!]
[Watchdog:] The U.S.-led authority in Baghdad is failing to meter Iraq's oil production, leaving a door open to smuggling, an international watchdog agency said on Tuesday, calling for urgent steps to address the problem....
Under international law, the coalition authority can use the oil money only for the benefit of the Iraqi people and can not make any long-term marketing commitments. Some Security Council members have complained they are not given enough information to judge whether the CPA is complying with those requirements.

Navy Public Affairs Officer Who Worked in Iraq Condemns President Bush & The U.S. Invasion.

Barbara Ehrenreich points out that among thebeneficiaries of Bush's Warfare State are not the soldiers who do the fighting and dying.

Here's one way our President proposes to "support our troops": According to his 2005 budget, the extra pay our soldiers receive for serving in combat zones--about $150 a month--will no longer count against their food stamp eligibility....
Frontline battle troops, most of whom have been in the military for about a year, earn less than $16,000 a year--which puts them at about the level of theater ushers and Wal-Mart clerks. Even second lieutenants, at a starting salary of $26,000 a year, earn less than pest control workers and shoe repairers.

Convicted felon Ahmad Chalabi, the power behind the Iraqi throne, is in line to become Prime Minister: Commentary: Chalabi's road to victory.

Chalabi holds the ultimate weapons -- several dozen tons of documents and individual files seized by his Iraqi National Congress from Saddam Hussein's secret security apparatus. Coupled with his position as head of the de-Baathification commission, Chalabi, barely a year since he returned to his homeland after 45 years of exile, has emerged as the power behind a vacant throne. He also appears to have impressive amounts of cash at his disposal and a say in which companies get the nod for some of the $18.4 billion earmarked for reconstruction. One company executive who asked that both his and the company's name be withheld said, "The commission was steep even by Middle Eastern standards."
Chalabi is still on the Defense Intelligence Agency's budget for a secret stipend of $340,000 a month....
Potentially embarrassing for prominent U.S. citizens, Chalabi's aides hint his treasure trove of Mukhabarat documents includes names of American "agents of influence" on Saddam's payroll, as well as a number of Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV news reporters who were working for Iraqi intelligence....
If Chalabi's fast track to power is not derailed and he becomes prime minister in July, the president won't be able to fire him unless his two deputies agree. The provisional constitution seems tailor-made for Chalabi to call the shots into 2005. As head of the Governing Council's economic and finance committee, Chalabi has already maneuvered loyalists into key Cabinet positions in the provisional authority -- finance, oil, and trade. The Central Bank Governor, the head of the trade bank and the managing director of the largest commercial bank also owe their positions to Chalabi's influence.... All the bases are loaded for a home run by MVP Chalabi.

US finally admits its troops killed two journalists: US admits killing Arab journalists in Iraq.

Five hurt as jobless Iraqis clash with Spanish troops, police

Iraqis circulate petition against interim constitution: Iraqi petition condemns interim law: Flier seen as playing on residents' fears.

The flier criticizes the law for installing an unelected government that will rule until January 2005, for permitting the Iraqi military to be commanded by a US-led multinational force, and for allowing a proposed permanent constitution to be scrapped if two-thirds of the voters in any three provinces reject it -- effectively giving veto power to minority Kurds in the northern provinces.
The petition has rattled members of Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council, who approved the interim constitution March 8 and now worry that the grass-roots campaign will reach people sooner than the carefully orchestrated, high-security series of town meetings they have planned to educate Iraqis about the new law....
A resident of the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dora said a man collecting signatures there was the son of the Ba'ath Party member who kept an eye on the neighborhood under Saddam Hussein. Now the same man says he represents the Hawza, Iraq's network of Shi'ite religious schools. The resident, a Christian who asked not to be named, said he signed the petition out of fear.

British troops clash with Basra crowd.

Reuters Television pictures on Monday showed a squad of British soldiers using riot shields and wielding batons to try to control the crowd of about 80 demonstrators, who threw stones and swung iron bars at the troops and set fire to several tyres....
The clashes took place in front of the office of the God's Revenge Islamic Organisation, a militant Shi'ite Muslim group which is accused by some Iraqis of involvement in attacks against Sunnis and members of the former Ba'ath party regime.

They call this "sovereignty?" The US picks the future President. [Maybe they'll pick Saddam Hussein. He knows how to have elections that elect the right people. Come to think of it, so does George W. Bush.] US now looking to install a PM in Iraq.

The United States wants to transfer power in Iraq to a hand-picked prime minister, abandoning plans for an expansion of the current 25-member governing council, coalition officials in Baghdad say....
The latest plan is to choose a government after a vague process of "extensive deliberation and consultations with cross-sections of the Iraqi people".

Freedom? US teaches democracy, US style: "All the news we deem fit to print!" Protests as U.S. closes Iraqi paper.

Robert Fisk tells of the private security forces being developed in Iraq: Britain's secret army in Iraq: thousands of armed security men who answer to nobody

Riverbend writes movingly of the gradual loss of freedom as the Islamists take over: Sistanistan....

There were some strange-looking people in the street- heads covered in turbans, black and white… women shrouded from top to bottom in black cloth… men with long beards and abbayas. I was getting quite a few critical stares- why wasn't this girl wearing a hijab?...
Before we got into the car to go home, E. asked me if there was anything else I wanted to get- did I want to see the shops? A part of me *did* want to take a more thorough look around, but another part of me was both physically and mentally exhausted with the rare outing. I just wanted to get back to the safety of our home where I didn't have to feel like some sort of strange outcast.
This time of year is the closest we get to spring. April promises to be hot and sticky... I used to constantly yearn to be outside- not just on the roof or in the garden- but on a street or sidewalk with people coming and going around me. That need hits me less and less of late...

Must Read! Independent journalist Nir Rosen portrays the reality of life under occupation in Sunni Iraq: "It's All Bad News": Chaos in liberated Iraq . If his account is even half true, things are even worse than I'd imagined.

"We don't talk about civil war," one Sunni tribal leader told me. "We just prepare for it...."
The deputy minister of the interior has been diverting arms and stockpiling them privately. He is accompanied by two doting American intelligence agents. Perhaps he is their last hope, should all else fail. The minister of higher education has banned all student unions that are not ethnically or religiously based. He is forcing even Christian girls to cover their heads and instituting mandatory Islamic education....
The Jews are blamed for everything, because they're the Jews. The Jews are everywhere in Iraq. They are feared and loathed, the "Jewish hands" working their evil, the "Jewish fingers" reaching every nook and cranny, selling their drugs and pornography, defiling Islam....
The procrustean application of spurious information gathered by intelligence officers who cannot speak Arabic and are not familiar with Iraqi, Arab or Muslim culture is creating enemies instead of eliminating them. Many languish in prisons indefinitely, lost in a system that imposes English-language procedures on Arabic speakers with Arabic names not easily transcribed. I walked past a detainment center once where a dozen prisoners could be seen marching in a circle, surrounded by barbed wire. They were shouting "USA, USA!" over and over.
"They were talkin' when we told 'em not to, so we made 'em say somethin' we liked to hear," grinned one of the soldiers guarding them. Another gestured up with his hands, letting them know they had to raise their voices. A sergeant later quipped that the ones who are not guilty "will be guilty next time", after such treatment. Some prisoners are termed "security detainees" and held for six months pending a review to determine whether they are still a "security risk". Most are innocent. Many were arrested simply because a neighbor did not like them, or because they were male. A lieutenant colonel involved in this told me that there is no judicial process for the thousands of detainees. If the military were to try them, that would entail a court martial, which would imply that the United States is occupying Iraq, and lawyers working for the administration are still debating whether it is an occupation or a liberation.

Three year old boy dies in "accidental" shooting, Many others injured: US troops 'shoot three-year-old boy'. Also, from the other side: Four dead in Iraqi rocket attack.

[Four dead:] A rocket attack on a local government building in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul has killed at least four people and wounded 19, hospital staff say. Those who died in the attack on the provincial governor's office included a 13-year-old girl, said a doctor at the Mosul Medical City Hospital.

Sistani may oppose power transfer: Sistani May Issue Edict Against Iraq Power Transfer.

"If article 61 of the interim constitution is not changed, Imam (Ayatollah Ali) al-Sistani may issue a fatwa declaring illegitimate all those (Iraqis) to whom power is transferred in June," said Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Mohri. Sistani "may also order the Iraqi people to protest or carry out major popular demonstrations and sit-ins in all Iraqi cities," added Mohri.

Once Cheney was in the White House, Halliburton didn't need its lobbyists anymore: Halliburton lobby costs see big drop

Christian Parenti interviews Camilo Mejia, the army deserter who recently turned himself in in Florida: A Deserter Speaks.

"This is an immoral, unjust and illegal war," says Mejia. "The whole thing is based on lies. There are no weapons of mass destruction, and there was no link with terrorism. It's about oil, reconstruction contracts and controlling the Middle East...."
Mejia found his officers to be glory-obsessed and intentionally reckless with the safety of their men. In particular, he says, they wanted the Army's much-coveted Combat Infantry Badge--an award bestowed only on those who have met and engaged the enemy. "To be a twenty-year career infantry officer and not have your CIB is like being a chef and having never cooked or being a fireman and never having put out a fire," Mejia says. "These guys were really hungry, and we were the bait...."
During another assignment, Mejia's company ran a detention camp. "They didn't call it a POW camp because it didn't meet Red Cross standards," he explains. There, intelligence officers ordered Mejia's squad to psychologically torture three suspected resistance fighters. The hooded and bound prisoners were placed in isolation, intimidated with mock executions and forced to stay awake for days at a time. "We had one guy lose his mind. He was locked in a little metal closet that we'd bang with a sledgehammer every five minutes to keep him up. He started crying and begging to lie down." When asked how the prisoners were fed and given water, Mejia stares off into space for a moment, and then says, "I don't remember how we fed them."

Yet another balanced yet horrifying account, this one from Salon of how "detainee" are treated by the occupying power in the new Iraq: "Guantanamo on steroids": Abu Ghraib was an infamous prison under Saddam. Now, for Iraqis seeking relatives detained by the U.S. military, it is still a place where men disappear.. More evidence that abolute power corrupts absolutely.

An account of Shia clerics coordinating the communities approach to important issues: Inside a Baghdad mosque, Shi'ites learn to speak as one.

Riverbend reflects on the year of war and occupation: The War on Terror....

We're watching with disbelief as American troops roam the streets of our towns and cities and break violently into our homes... we're watching with anger as the completely useless Puppet Council sits giving out fat contracts to foreigners and getting richer by the day- the same people who cared so little for their country, that they begged Bush and his cronies to wage a war that cost thousands of lives and is certain to cost thousands more.
But we've learned a lot. We've learned that terrorism isn't actually the act of creating terror. It isn't the act of killing innocent people and frightening others… no, you see, that's called a 'liberation'. It doesn't matter what you burn or who you kill- if you wear khaki, ride a tank or Apache or fighter plane and drop missiles and bombs, then you're not a terrorist- you're a liberator.

New US plan leaves power in hands of US-apointed puppet Governing Council, with an appointed Prime Minister. Surprised? US will tell Iraqi council to pick a PM: As transfer of power looms, Bush sets hopes on Shia technocrat, in third strategy shift in six months .

The Spoils! The new Iraq. "Built in the USA": Pasadena-based Parsons awarded $1.4 billion in Iraq rebuilding contracts.

$87 billion and the army can't provide basic protective equipment for soldiers. I guess they're not as important as Halliburton: U.S. troops buying own armor for Iraq duty.

Eight civilians in Falluja killed by fighting: Eight die as US troops battle rebels in Iraq town.

Phyllis Bennis provides a balanced analysis of the new Iraqi Interim Constitution: The Iraqi Constitution.

US whitewashes killing of Reuters camera man: Soldiers' Testimony Raises Questions Over U.S. Report .

The US makes clear that Iraqi "sovereignty" only means being the one's blamed when things go wrong, not making any actual decisions. They have developed a "legal" basis to keep military control, whether the new Iraqi authorities want them or not! U.S. Officials Fashion Legal Basis to Keep Force in Iraq.

The Americans hope they will not be forced to rely on a legalistic argument. They plan to negotiate with the interim Iraqi government in place after June 30 for the kind of "status of forces" agreement the United States has in dozens of nations where its forces are deployed. But if negotiations snag — many Iraqi political leaders are often hostile to the foreign military presence — the Americans believe that they will be able to fall back on the United Nations resolution....
Another official said Iraqis could hardly claim that Iraq's sovereignty was compromised by having its troops under American command when nations like Britain and Poland had placed military contingents here under an American general. "There's no sovereignty issue for them," the official said.

Brendan O'Neill in the Guardian critiques the recent poll cited as evidence that Iraqis are happier now than a year ago. As a research with survey experience, many of his points seem reasonable, though some seem a bit over drawn: Another dodgy dossier: A poll showing that most Iraqis were happier now was widely and uncritically reported - but was it accurate? .

The Army has released a: Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Army Mental Health Advisory Team Report. See also a Reuters account: Report details low US Army morale, suicide in Iraq. Also check the Army Press Release for the Army spin on the report.

[Reuters:] Army officials disclosed some of the suicide findings on Wednesday, including a suicide rate of 17.3 per 100,000 soldiers among soldiers in Iraq, much higher than the overall Army rate. Crow said this compared to a rate of 15.6 per 100,000 during the Vietnam War and 3.6 during the 1991 Gulf War....
The report also detailed low morale among Army soldiers, with 72 percent of those questioned characterizing morale as either low or very low in their unit and 52 percent saying their personal morale was either low or very low. Combat stress was caused by seeing dead bodies, personally coming under attack or knowing someone who was killed or seriously wounded, the report said. Other factors included soldiers' uncertainty over when they would go home....
About 57 percent of personnel in combat stress-control units and 67 percent in mental health offices attached to Army divisions in Iraq cited insufficient supplies of key medications, including antidepressants and sleep medications. Psychiatrists in the field said the Army made it "unnecessarily complicated" to fill prescriptions, the report said. Half of these psychiatrists also reported being unhappy with the range of antidepressant medications available for them to provide soldiers.

The latest issue of: Voice of Iraqi Workers (pdf) from the Union of Unemployed in Iraq (UUI). It contains their protest of the attempt of the US-appointed Governing Council to make one union federation official and legal, thus interfering with workers rights to choose their unions. Also contains the UUI's draft labor law.

The new Islamic Iraq is being built in Basra: raq's Basra Gives View Of What A Shia State May Be Like.

It was the clearest sign yet that what's developing in southern Iraq is not the open, free and democratic society promised by the U.S.-led coalition occupying Iraq. The police officer at a roadblock ordered a traveler to cover her hair if she expected to continue her journey. "This is an Islamic country and you must respect our feelings," said the officer in the pale blue uniform supplied by the occupying coalition....
Life in Basra today gives little hope for secular Muslims who were looking forward to the open society that U.S. and British officials promised when their forces invaded Iraq last year. Another fear is that the interim constitution signed in early March leaves it open for individual provinces to determine whatever laws they want, raising fears of a separate clerical-dominated Shia federation within Iraq.

The Spoils! A good day for British industry: Amec clinches $1bn Iraq deal.

Naomi Klein questions whose interests are served by the current level of Iraqi "terrorism": Iraq Under the U.S. Thumb: The White House Wants to Make the Iraqis Seem to Be Out of Control, Incapable of Governing Without US Direction.

Now, after a month of terror and steady assertions from "experts" that Iraq is on the verge of civil war, much of that boldness has retreated. Which is precisely why they call it terrorism: It sends people from the streets into their homes, replacing courage with fear, self-reliance with dependency....
Just 20 minutes after the devastating bombing of the Mount Lebanon hotel last Wednesday, the rumors began to fly: It was the Americans, the Pentagon, the CIA, the British. If these conspiracy theories have traction, maybe it's because the occupying forces have so brazenly taken advantage of the attacks to do precisely what they accuse foreign terrorists of doing: interfering with the prospect of genuine democracy in Iraq....
The interim constitution, signed two weeks ago, states that, "The laws, regulations, orders, and directives issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority . . . shall remain in force." The laws include Mr. Bremer's Order 39, which drastically changes Iraq's previous constitution to allow foreign companies to own 100 per cent of Iraqi assets (except in natural resources), and to take 100 per cent of their profits out of the country, paving the way for massive privatizations. Defying Mr. Bremer's orders won't be an option after the "handover." The interim constitution clearly states that the only way these laws can be changed is by a three-fourths vote by the Iraqi transitional government. According to the same constitution, that body won't exist until elections are held in early 2005.
In other words, on June 30, the occupation won't end, it will simply be outsourced to a group of hand-picked Iraqi politicians with no democratic mandate or sovereign power. With its new Iraqi face, the government will be free from the ugly perception that Iraq's national assets are being auctioned off by foreigners, not to mention being unencumbered by input from Iraqi voters who might have ideas of their own.
At the economic forum on Iraq held in Beirut last week, Nassir al-Jadarji, a member of the Governing Council, assured potential investors that the deals made by these mandateless politicians will be passed on to Iraq's future elected leaders. "Our policies toward investments will not change in any form, and we assure the complete honoring of signed contracts," he said.

Finally, some mention in the US press of the planned permanent occupation of Iraq: 14 `enduring bases' set in Iraq.

A British study reports that service in Gulf War I was bad for the soldiers' children's helath: Gulf troops' babies 'are 50% more vulnerable'.

Babies whose fathers served in the first Gulf war are 50 per cent more likely to have physical abnormalities than those born to soldiers not sent to the region, according to a study published today. Increased risks of genital, urinary and renal abnormalities and deformed limbs, bones and muscles were found in the Ministry of Defence-funded survey.
Of 13,191 pregnancies among the partners of male Gulf veterans, 686, or 5.2 per cent, had some form of physical abnormality, compared with 342, or 3.5 per cent, of the 9,758 non-Gulf pregnancies. Miscarriages were also 40 per cent more common in the pregnancies of wives and partners of male veterans deployed in the conflict....
Dr Doyle [the lead researcher conducted the study] said the study was important, but warned against reading too much into the findings. "I believe our findings on renal problems and miscarriages are important and need to be investigated in greater detail," she said. She added that although "associations were found between fathers' service in the Gulf war and increased risk of miscarriage and other malformations", the findings should be interpreted cautiously because of recall bias, the potential uncertainty of results based on people's memories.

A soldier returns home, only to have to fight the employer trying to fire him: He served in Iraq, loses job back home.

Dana Beaudine was wounded in a mortar attack near the town of Basra in Iraq. But after he came home a decorated war veteran, he found himself facing a fight of another kind. For the past six months, Beaudine has been trying to get his job back with Securitas Security Services USA, the nation's largest private security firm, which counts among its clients the federal government.

Robert Fisk is visited in his hotel by the 1st Armoured Division: "Who's in Room 106?" The day the 1st Armoured Division, with guns at the ready, came to check on our man in Baghdad.

A widow whose husband died in the battle where Private Jessica Lynch was captured blasted President Bush at a memorial service in Texas: Iraq Widow Criticizes Bush at Memorial Ceremony.

"The evidence that's starting to come out now feels like he was misleading us," Mrs. Kiehl said. "It seems that he did not tell the whole truth. It's almost as those he had things 'fixed' so it would look like he needed go to war. He can claim he was truthful, but the evidence feels like he was misleading us."

The Israel-Palestine conflict enters Iraq: Iraqis express outrage at Hamas leader's killing.

The Spoils! Another US company hits the jackpot! Stanley Baker Hill awarded $1.2 billion construction management contract for Iraq. And Colorado companies get their share: Colorado companies working on Iraq rebuilding.

[Stanley Baker:] Construction management services required may include quality assurance support and various ancillary functions associated with the management of large construction projects. It is anticipated that construction projects being supported by these services will include major military construction, as well as infrastructure rehabilitation and reconstruction on a variety of projects in the electricity, oil, public works/water, security/justice, transportation/communications and buildings/health sectors.

An Iraqi exile in London has changed his mind and now supports the a=war: Iraqi now supports the war he opposed.

"A year ago I was blinded by passion from seeing thousands of my fellow countrymen dying. "But Iraq would not have been able to survive another 10 years under Saddam. "I think its future will be brighter now and I am looking forward to going back."

Haroon Siddiqui doesn't see civil war.Rather, he sees: Iraqis United in Their Fury Toward US.

The US is reportedly secretly training top Baathist army officers for the "new" Iraqi army. Presumably they know how to keep Iraqis in line: U.S. Said to Train Saddam Officers for New Army.

Sistani warns UN not to support interim constitution: Iraq's Sistani Warns UN Not to Back Constitution.

As even the AP reports, sovereignty will be a sham until elections, at least: U.S. Will Retain Power in Sovereign Iraq.

The fledgling Iraqi government will be capable of tackling little more than drawing up a budget and preparing for elections, top U.S. and Iraqi officials say. "We're still here. We'll be paying a lot of attention and we'll have a lot of influence," a top U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. "We're going to have the world's largest diplomatic mission with a significant amount of political weight."

Compare this LA Times piece with the following New York Times puff piece: Green Zone Colors View of Occupation: For Americans, the center of U.S. military and civilian operations is a secure bubble in a hostile city. To Iraqis, it's a symbol of colonialism.

But for Iraqis, the Green Zone represents a foreign power hunkering down for a long stay — in Saddam Hussein's old digs, no less — while shutting itself off from the country it conquered. Rubbing salt in the wound, speculation has it that the zone, which encompasses some of Baghdad's prime real estate, will eventually become the site of the mammoth U.S. Embassy.
"Americans should behave in a normal, civilized way, like they do elsewhere in the world," said Dauvaod Mohammed, owner of the Kitchen Furniture store in Baghdad. "They hide away behind big walls."

Usual New York Times puff piece on the difficulties of being a dictator: Bremer Pushes Iraq on Difficult Path to Self-Rule.

As the man who replaced Mr. Hussein, Mr. Bremer looms large over this occupied land. He is regarded by many Iraqis as earnest and hard-working, the benevolent despot they never had.

The Spoils! The war sure pays off for some: Rebuilding Iraq a lucrative job: Construction firms from U.S. banking on the long term .

Amid documented claims of routine torture of Iraqi detainees, the US prosecutes 6 soldiers for abuse of 20 prisoners. What a cruel hoax! US charges 6 soldiers in prison assaults.

Fewer than 20 Arab prisoners were abused, the general said, adding that the inquiry continues. [What about the others thousands and thousands?]

On this day on anniversary and protest [see Resistance</i> below], two more GIs die: US Marine Killed In Iraq; Accident Kills Second Soldier.

Fear and chaos are what Robert Fisk sees occurring in Iraq one year after: New Iraq? Hooded Protest And Masked Statistics.

Now even the road south of Kerbala is the haunt of armed gangs. When I drive these highways, I now wear a keffiyeh and thobe on my head. My driver wears western trousers and shirt but I am in Arab clothes to avoid being attacked. Other westerners are doing the same thing. What does that tell us about Iraq a year after its "liberation"?...
How do we explain now the armies of truculent, often ill-disciplined mercenaries now roaming Iraq on behalf of the Anglo-American occupation authorities. Many thousands of them British, some are well trained, many are not. In my own hotel, dozens of them swagger through the lobby with rifles and pistols, all talking "security", all working for private security firms hired by the occupation power or by private companies. They have no rules of engagement and many of them drink too much.

Noam Chomsky: Chomsky backs 'Bush-lite' Kerry. In Counterpunch, Phil Gasper offers a critique: Chomsky's Lesser-Evilism.

Democracy Now! interviews two resisting GIs, as well as journalist Christian Parenti, whose comments on PBS's Newshour on US firms' corruption in Iraq led to an apology by "impartial" Jim Lehrer: Christian Parenti On the "Ongoing Despotism" in Iraq and Why Jim Lehrer Apologized For Parenti's Comments. Also, a report from yesterday's demonstration in Baghdad against the occupation: Thousands March in Baghdad to Protest U.S. Occupation and an interview with a retired engineer, Ghazwan al-Mukhtar, in Baghdad, who says things are worse under occupation One Year Later: An Iraqi Speaks From Baghdad.

Iraqi displaced persons (squatters) march against being displaced yet again by the CPA: Displaced people in Baghdad march on CPA offices

Mass protest in Baghdad against new constitution: Iraqis unite to condemn interim constitution.

Now South Korea resists US pressure to have troops engage in offensive operations: S. Korea rethinks Iraq troop plan.

Riverbend writes of the systematic attacks of professors, scientists, doctors and other educated Iraqis that are leading to a brain drain threatening the country's future: Explosions....

Whatever the reason, the brains are slowly seeping out of Iraq. It's no longer a place for learning or studying or working… it's a place for wealthy contractors looking to get wealthier, extremists, thieves (of all ranks and origins) and troops…

Knight Ridder tells the story of one Iraqi family that doesn't think life is better now: Iraqis rue U.S. presence, tally instability, danger, hopelessness

Four journalists were killed in Iraq yesterday: Deadly Day For Journalists In Iraq: 4 Journalists Killed In Iraqi Violence. Iraqi reporters walked out of Colin Powell's news conference in protest: Iraqi Reporters Rebuff Powell, Leave News Conference.

Amnesty International has issued a report: Iraq: One year on the human rights situation remains dire. See also their: Press Release.

The past year has seen scores of unarmed people killed due to excessive or unnecessary use of lethal force by Coalition forces during public demonstrations, at check points and in house raids. Thousands of people have been detained, often under harsh conditions, and subjected to prolonged and often unacknowledged detention. Many have been tortured or ill-treated and some have died in custody....
Beyond such payments, however, there has been little recourse for the families of the dead and injured. No US soldier has been prosecuted for illegally killing an Iraqi civilian....
Amnesty International has repeatedly called for all killings of civilians by Coalition Forces to be thoroughly, independently and impartially investigated and for perpetrators of unlawful killings to be brought to justice. To date, no independent investigations are known to have been carried out....
Iraqi civilians have also faced danger in the form of attacks, apparently carried out by armed groups, that have been a growing feature of life in Iraq since the occupation began. The attacks have targeted the US military, Iraqi security personnel, Iraqi-controlled police stations, religious leaders and buildings, media workers, non-governmental organizations and UN agencies. They have resulted in the deaths of at least hundreds of civilians. To the extent that these bombings are part of a widespread or systematic attack on the civilian population of Iraq in furtherance of an organization's policy, they would constitute crimes against humanity....
The CPA acknowledges holding around 8,500 detainees. However, one Iraqi human rights organization put the number of detainees at 15,000....
Many detainees have alleged they were tortured and ill-treated by US and UK troops during interrogation. Methods reported often include beatings; prolonged sleep deprivation; prolonged restraint in painful positions, sometimes combined with exposure to loud music; prolonged hooding; and exposure to bright lights. Virtually none of the allegations of torture or ill-treatment has been adequately investigated.

When these guys steal, they do it big time! Pentagon to Withhold Up to $300 Million From Halliburton Because of Possible Overcharging. Of course, don't hold your breath for anyone to go to jail.

Robert Fisk discusses the reaction of the Spanish troops in Iraq1 to recent events: 'If I am told to go, I will go.' Spanish soldiers prepare to return to home front

The more things change... Kerry Asks Spain to Keep Soldiers in Iraq, El Mundo Reports.

Democracy? Jay Garner says he was sacked as Iraqi boss for wanting early elections and opposing forced privatization: General sacked by Bush says he wanted early elections.

The New York Times reports that, after the horrible bombing yesterday, US troops ordered rescue workers to stop and aimed guns at them: On Streets Lighted by Flames, Angry Crowds Clamor to Help. What's going on over there?

American soldiers arrived minutes later. They jumped out of their Humvees in bulletproof vests and tightly laced combat boots. They cordoned off the streets and pushed the crowd back. "Move! Move! Move!" they shouted. When some Iraqis resisted, the soldiers pointed their guns in people's faces. "We're not kidding. Get out of here." Old women shook gray little fists. Young men stuck out their chins and yelled back. "Why are you blocking us from rescuing our people?" asked Faiz Sadeh, a construction worker.

Poland considers an early pullout. there are reports that the Ukraine is also considering this: Polish leaders discuss an early pullout from Iraq. And the Polish President utters the truth: Poland was 'taken for a ride' about Iraq's WMD: President.

Maybe they don't just want to kill all the heathens they can. Of course, we're not supposed to think of them as a people with goals, but only as absolute evil: Al-Qaeda group calls truce in Spain

Robert Fisk continues his brilliant columns looking at the world one year after the war began: Iraq: a year of war -- The invasion of Iraq would, we were told, rid the world of mortal danger. One year on, the only people who feel safer are those who prefer not to think for themselves .

When Iraqis tell me today that "things were better under Saddam", they want to suggest that they had law and order and dictatorship rather than freedom and anarchy (the twin blessings Bush and Blair have brought them). But I also darkly fear that they look back to an age when they had no responsibility, when they could cast aside their cares and their powers of enquiry, when certainties were cast in iron, when love was unquestioning, however corrupt.
Yet this is what I suspect we now share: the Iraqis who lived through Saddam's rule, and we who now go to war so blithely, who now occupy the lands of other people with such sublime certainty. We feel a need - or at least our leaders feel the need - to have a childlike society, where dissent is derided or ignored, where wisdom and integrity and truth are the sole characteristics of those who lead us and those who give their support to those leaders.

Robert Fisk: Al-Qa'ida Attacks Intensify, But Iraqi Police Say: "Let Them Come".

The Spoils! Finland continues its history of making money off Iraqis: Finland's Wärtsilä scores giant Iraqi power order.

Now it's "Iron Promise"! can "Slavery is Freedom" be far behind? U.S., Iraqi forces launch massive hunt.

Claims of progress toward the "post-occupation" occupation government: Post-occupation Iraqi government taking shape.

22 year old boston man who joined the Army to help send his 18 year old sister to college, died in Iraq the other day: Boston soldier dies in Iraq explosion.

The Spoils! Wheat farmers want to maintain their share of spoils: USDA Works To Keep Iraq Buying U.S. Wheat After Transition.

New threat to US troops, the sand fly and the leishmaniasis virus it can carry. According to this report, 500 have already been infected, with thousands more possible over upcoming years, as disease can take up to 20 years to develop: Batten down the mosquito netting.

There have so far been seven suicides of Iraq veterans: Seventh Iraq war veteran kills himself.

Coalition of the Unwilling! Honduras follows Spain, to the Exit: Like Spain, Honduras to pull troops from Iraq.

Bush must be desperate. He acknowledges that Europeans have their own opinions: Bush appeals to Europeans not to pull out of Iraq.

The Spoils! Accounting firm makes out: Ernst & Young wins Iraq contract.

Four US missionaries killed: 4 U.S. Civilians Killed in Iraq Shooting. In addition: Two Germans, Two Iraqis Shot Dead South of Baghdad. It turns out that one "German" was actually Dutch: First Dutch person killed in Iraq since war.

an illuminating account of two Iraqis, one a Shia supporter of the invasion, the other a Sunni opponent. Both now feel hopeless: Pride and Preconceptions: Occupation Blunts Two Iraqis' Differences on Invasion.

Yasmine [the Shia doctor's daughter], always skeptical of U.S. intentions and mindful of how the Americans once supported Hussein, quoted a proverb. "The servant went," she said, "and now comes his master...."
"I felt hopeful," Mohammed said. "Do you remember? Why was I so happy? I felt empowered. America got rid of Saddam. We thought America could do anything. Now we've waited all this time and nothing happened. Why? "You begin to wonder if America had fingers in this problem. Do they do it deliberately? Was it planned? Do they want all this to happen? Why are they standing and watching? Don't tell me America doesn't know! They can, they can do everything." He complained of corruption in the ministries and the 25-member Governing Council. We used to have one Saddam, his wife joked, now we have 25. They complained of the barricades and barriers that littered their once-manicured neighborhood of Mansour. With bitterness, he lamented the lack of draconian justice and a strong hand to administer it.

Must Read! NBC News reports that the US deliberately did not attack Abu Musab Zarqawi in his camp, because doing so might undercut the case for war1 In other words, they protected a known terrorist in order to use him as n excuse: Avoiding attacking suspected terrorist mastermind.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.
And despite the Bush administration’s tough talk about hitting the terrorists before they strike, Zarqawi’s killing streak continues today.

New poll finds Iraqis have some optimism, but no love of US: Poll: Iraqis Are Mixed Over U.S. Invasion.

The people of Iraq have mixed feelings about the U.S.-led invasion of their country, but most say their lives are going well and they have high hopes for the future, said a nationwide poll of Iraqis released Monday....
They have considerable worries about joblessness, security and basic services like electricity, according to the first nationwide poll in Iraq done by news organizations. "The positive attitudes and the high expectations and optimism are quite striking, with majorities telling us their lives are going well," ABC polling director Gary Langer said. "Expectations carry risks, however. If these are unmet, there could be political consequences."
The poll found "there's not a lot of love for the United States and coalition forces, and people have mixed feelings about the invasion," Langer said. On a personal level, seven in 10 Iraqis said things are going well for them and more than half - 56 percent - said their lives are going better than before the war, compared with 19 percent who said things are worse.

Support Our Troops? As soldiers are sent to fight and possibly die, the military can't even manage to pay them correctly and on time: An Insult to Our Soldiers.

Iraq Shia make overtures to Iran and US retaliates by closing border crossings: Iraq woos Iran and US grows insecure.

Three more US civilians killed. The resistance appears to have new targets: 3 U.S. Civilians Shot Dead In Iraq.

New Spanish government will withdraw troops from Iraq! New Spanish PM promises Iraq withdrawal.

Military Families Speak Outleads a protest at Dover Air Force Base: Iraq protest at US base.

Voters reject pro-war party: Spanish government admits defeat. The Spanish UN Ambassador attributes the loss to the war: Spain Envoy: Ruling Party An Iraqi War Casualty.

Iraq, one year on, as seen by Stephen Grey in the New Statesman: Rule of the death squads: Iraq one year on - The shooting isn't just between occupying forces and guerrillas. The Iraqi Governing Council is "killing people one by one".

He had a strong suspicion about who was behind most of these killings, he said. "You can look no further than the Governing Council. There are political parties in this city who are systematically killing people. They are politicians that are backed by the Americans and who arrived to Iraq from exile with a list of their enemies. I've seen these lists. They are killing people one by one."

Robert Fisk sums up: Happy first birthday, war on Iraq.

See how the people love us, we cried - which is much the same as Hussein used to say when he took his fawning acolytes on visits to the people of Baghdad. There would be elections, constitutions, governing councils, money - There was no end to the promises we made to this tribal society called Iraq. Then in came the big American contractors and the conglomerates and the thousands of mercenaries, British, American, South African, Chilean - many of the latter were soldiers under General Augusto Pinochet - Nepalese and Filipino....
The suicide bomber came into his own. The Turkish embassy, the Jordanian embassy, the United Nations, police stations across the land - 600 of our new Iraqi policemen slaughtered in less than four months - and then the great shrines of Najaf and Kerbala.
The Americans and British warned of the dangers of civil war - so did the journalists, of course - although no Iraqi had ever been heard to utter any demand for conflict with their fellow citizens. Who actually wanted this "civil war"? Why would the Sunnis - a minority in the country - allow "al-Qaeda" to bring this about when they could not defeat the occupying power without at least passive Shia support?

Enigmatic but disturbing: Iraq: A conversation with a concerned soldier.

We told the Iraqi guards we wanted to talk with an American official. That is when we met "Tony," an American soldier, about 22 years old, short, and good-looking. He likes to work out in the gym, but most days he is too tired after standing guard in front of the prison for 12 hours every day. "Most days," he said, "I have no energy left after my shift to even think." When we asked him where his home was, he said, "I am homeless...."
Tony said, "If you try to do what is right, you get kicked. I tried to do what is right, and I got knocked down into the cellar." He didn't explain what he meant.

The Spoils! There's money to be made! Why not us? U.S. Rice Growers Want to Sell in Iraq: American Rice Growers Question Why They Do Not Have Favored Status on Food Sales to Iraq.

Iraq today, multiple temporary bubbles of hope: Iraqis snatch at bubbles of hope: Twelve months after invasion, a confused country is still looking for a happy ending.

As US money stimulates reconstruction, inflation may wreak its havoc: Inflation threat adds to fears for Iraq recovery: $18bn reconstruction cash fuels demand for housing and consumer goods .

Shia opposition to the new constitution spreads: Shiite Crowds, Preachers, Denounce Interim Constitution. And Hundreds of Students Strike in Baghdad, Najaf and Mosul.

Ya`qubi's statement was read at Friday prayers, calling on the governing council "not to take fateful decisions such as granting citizenship citizenship to foreigners, privatizing vital sectors, and signing treaties regading security and strategy, since it is merely an interim council lacking any real legitimacy." In Kufa, Muqtada al-Sadr, the other major Sadrist leader, gave a sermon before thousands of worshippers in which he said, "This law resembles the Balfour Declaration, which sold off Palestine. We are on the way to selling Iraq and Islam. It is a bad omen."

The Spoils! Two US companies get billion dollars worth of Iraq contracts: Pentagon. But Democratic Senator Feinstein gets her share of spoils: Iraq deal awarded to Blum venture: Feinstein's spouse owns stake in firm fixing energy grid. You can bet Feinstein won't be calling for US withdrawal!

[Two US companies:] On Wednesday, the Pentagon served up seven contracts worth more than 120 million dollars to US and British companies to manage the reconstruction projects in six sectors -- electricity, public works, security and justice, transportation and communication, health and education, and oil.
[Iraq deal awarded:] Perini Corp., a Massachusetts construction company partially owned by the investment firm of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's husband, landed a $500 million contract Friday to repair southern Iraq's electricity grid....
Feinstein's husband, Richard Blum, controls about 24 percent of Perini shares through his investment firm, Blum Capital Partners. Another of Blum's investments, the San Francisco engineering firm URS Corp., is part of a joint venture that won $27.7 million in Iraq reconstruction work earlier this week.

Why didn't American pilots emulate their Australian colleagues? Do civilian deaths simply not matter to American pilots? Or is it US leaders that couldn't care less how many civilians were killed? Our pilots refused to bomb 40 times.

Squadron Leader Daryl Pudney last week described how he and other Australian F/A-18 pilots were forced to weigh up the risk of civilian casualties in a split second before dropping their bombs. He said pilots broke off many missions after they saw the target and decided there was not a valid military reason to drop their bombs....
But it appears there were fundamental differences between the US dominated headquarters and Australian pilots over what constituted a valid military target....
Squadron Leader Pudney said he did not believe the US Air Force was more trigger happy, but they operated under different laws of engagement....
[Perhaps American pilots went and killed them anyway:] But he would not comment on whether the US subsequently carried out any of the missions that had been aborted by the Australians.

Special skills draft? 'Special skills draft' on drawing board: Computer experts, foreign language specialists lead list of military's needs.

School still not in the cards for many Iraqi children: Poverty And Turmoil Crippling Iraq's Already Battered Schools.

Riverbend makes her usually insightful comments on the new "constitution" or "Transitional Law", the brutality of US troops, their corruption, and other aspects of life under occupation: Spring....

Furthermore, just how sincere are these puppets [the Governing Council] about this new Transitional Law? For example, there's a lovely clause that reads, "No one may be unlawfully arrested or detained, and no one may be detained by reason of political or religious beliefs." Will the American troops discontinue the raids and arbitrary detentions (which are still quite common) come June 30? Or is the Transitional Law binding only to Iraqis?
One example of an arbitrary detention we heard about the other day was of a man who was arrested in Tikrit. They raided his home and gathered the 25-year-old man, two brothers and an elderly uncle. They got the usual treatment: a bag on the head, and hands behind their backs. They were taken to a place outside of Tikrit and thrown into a barn-like area with bags on their heads- still tied up. For 3 days, they were kicked and cursed by the troops. In between the kicking and cursing, a hefty soldier would scream questions at them and an interpreter would translate, "Are you part of Al-Qaeda?! Do you know Osama bin Laden?!" On the third day, one of the young men struck up a deal with who he gathered was their 'head'- the man who gave all the orders. They agreed that one of the soldiers would accompany the man back to the city and wait while he came up with $300/detainee. The rest of the men would be freed a couple of days later. And it worked. Basically, they paid a ransom for their freedom. Just one of the many stories about life in the 'New Iraq'- no wonder Chalabi was so jubilant while signing the Transitional Law document. The country is currently like an unguarded bank- especially for those who bear arms.
The general attitude towards the document is a certain weariness. Iraqis are weary of everything 'transitional' and 'temporary'. I guess, after almost a year of instability and strife, we just crave something more definite and substantial.

al Qaeda has claimed the Madrid bombings: We bombed Madrid, says al-Qaeda tape.

The Interior Minister Angel Acebes said police had recovered a videotape. 'It's a claim made by a man in Arabic with a Moroccan accent,' he said. 'He makes the declaration in the name of someone who says he is the military spokesman of al- Qaeda in Europe.' The man on the tape says: 'We declare our responsibility for what happened in Madrid exactly two-and-a-half years after the attacks on New York and Washington. This is an answer to the crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. If your injustices do not stop there will be more if god wills it.'

Army may be sending mentally ill soldiers to Iraq: Army sent mentally ill troops to Iraq.

The Army appears to have "inappropriately" deployed soldiers to Iraq who already were diagnosed with mental problems, according to documents obtained by United Press International.

Freedom? US mistreats Al Jazeera staff: Al Jazeera Goes to Jail.

Once inside the sprawling prison, Hassan says, he was greeted by US soldiers who sang "Happy Birthday" to him through his tight plastic hood, stripped him naked and addressed him only as "Al Jazeera," "boy" or "bitch." He was forced to stand hooded, bound and naked for eleven hours in the bitter autumn night air; when he fell, soldiers kicked his legs to get him up again. In the morning, Hassan says, he was made to wear a dirty red jumpsuit that was covered with someone else's fresh vomit and interrogated by two Americans in civilian clothes. They made the usual accusations that Hassan and Al Jazeera were in cahoots with "terrorists...."
Elsewhere in Abu Ghraib, Hassan's colleague Suheib Badr Darwish was also in lockup. He had been arrested in Samarra on November 18 and, according to a colleague of his at Al Jazeera, Darwish was badly beaten by US troops....
He was released for lack of evidence. After three more days in Abu Ghraib, this time in one of the prison's open-air camps, Hassan, still in his vomit-stained red jumpsuit, was dumped on a street just outside Baghdad on December 18. Darwish was released more than a month later, on January 25, again for lack of evidence....
So far the American military has bombed the network's offices in both Baghdad and Kabul, killing one employee; arrested and briefly jailed twenty-one of Al Jazeera's reporters; and now has imprisoned and allegedly abused and humiliated Hassan and Darwish in ways that the UN convention on such matters would consider torture.

US military expects to stay in control under "sovereignty": U.S. Aims to Keep Iraq Military Control.

U.S. officials want to make sure American forces are free to continue to kill insurgents, interrogate prisoners and command Iraq's new security forces....
U.S. and British leaders say they expect few practical aspects of the occupation to change right away....
On Saturday, a U.S. official said Iraq's future Defense Ministry will have fewer than 100 employees, led by a civilian staff approved by Iraq's U.S. overseer, L. Paul Bremer. The official, who spoke to a group of reporters on condition of anonymity, said the ministry was designed by officials from several countries in the U.S.-led coalition. He said the ministry plan was "discussed at length with many Iraqis," but did not name them.

The Spoils! Britain finally gets in on the spoils: Amec wins Iraq work for Britain.

Shia extremists protest new constitution: Hardline Shi'ites Denounce Iraq's New Constitution.

Private paramilitary forces claim to attack "terrorists". Is this the secret US assassination squads we've been warned are being created, or another force? How many will they kill? Vigilantes Take on the Resistance.

With Friends Like These! UPI thinks the "phony policemen" who killed two US contractors this week were real policemen: Iraqi police likely killed U.S. civilians. Meanwhile, little reported is that one of those killed was a US women's rights advocate: Women's Rights Advocate Among Dead in Iraq.

Lawyer Fern Holland went to Iraq to help that nation's women: She investigated human-rights violations, set up conferences and assisted in writing the women's rights section of the new constitution. ``I love the work and if I die, know that I'm doing precisely what I want to be doing,'' she wrote in an e-mail to a friend Jan. 21. Holland was one of three civilians killed Tuesday after several gunmen posing as Iraqi police officers stopped her vehicle at a makeshift checkpoint near the town of Hillah, about 35 miles south of Baghdad.

Are Shia militias a threat to others? Iraq: Militias' law rules.

Intellectuals from the southern Iraqi city of Basra have expressed deep concern to Aljazeera.net about armed Shia militias suppressing the city’s non-Shia communities....
These militia - Thaaru Allah (Revenge of God), Hizb Allah (Party of God) and the Badr Brigades - are charged with crossing the Iranian border after the occupation of Iraq last April to conduct a campaign of fear on the local people....
One Iraqi living in self-imposed political exile, who spoke to Aljazeera.net on condition of anonymity, said his 55-year-old sister had been arrested by a Shia militia in Basra and suffered physical and psychological damage because of "sadistic" practices used on her while in detention....
On 4 January 2004, 200 Iraqi intellectuals and politicians met in London and issued a statement in which they appealled to the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) and Iraq's religious authorities to stop terror caused by armed Shia militias in Basra. The statement named Thaaru Allah and Hizb Allah and accused them of intimidating schoolgirls, forcing Muslim and non-Muslims women to wear the hijab, killing Christian alcohol dealers, and attacking restaurants that serve alcohol

Humor time. Would you buy a used war from these folks? Pentagon won't give war costs. And cry: Pentagon finance manager resigns.

[Pentagon won't give...:] Pressed to estimate the cost of future operations in Iraq, the Pentagon has repeatedly said it's just too hard to do.
[Pentagon finance manager resigns:] A study by the Defense Department's inspector general found that the Pentagon couldn't properly account for more than a trillion dollars in monies spent.

Those with experience not allowed to help repair water system: Iraqi Experts Tossed With the Water.

Robert Fisk on the signing of the interim constitution: The better things are the worse they get, as history is made in Iraq.

So I set off to the home of an Iraqi businessman, a Christian, to watch America's dreams come true, praying he would have electricity to power his television set. His generator thumped out just enough juice to run it. The screen dipped and waved and shimmered, but there they were, one by one, stepping up to King Feisel's chair, applauded and beaming, unelected men and women of the Governing Council signing a temporary constitution which, in theory at least, guarantees freedom of speech and assembly: a flurry of brown robes, sparkling pens, blue suits and veils. Most Iraqis are more interested in electricity than constitutions which may be one reason why the details of this particular document have not exactly been discussed in the street. They should have been.

Four police killed in a fight with a private "security group": Iraq Firefight Kills Four Police, Italian Wounded.

Borzou Daragahi finds life better in Kurdistan: Disptach: Kurdish Iraq.

Now, the city shakes with the cacophony of construction noise and traffic jams. Now a thousand new construction sites have blossomed. Now the talk is of the wireless Internet network the local government is about to set up for the high schools. (The college is already wired up.)

The Spoils! Halliburton claims the fraud inquiries are hurting its cash holdings: Halliburton feels strain Iraq inquiries may hurt cash holdings. Holdings up, and they complain!

The investigations may force the company to stop additional billing or make refunds to the government, according to the filing. Halliburton said it had $1.8 billion in cash and cash equivalent on Dec. 31, compared with $1.1 billion a year earlier.

Robert Fisk comments on the new Iraqi security forces: Deja Vu.

At the terminal stands an American officer in his forties, a lieutenant colonel in civvies but with a flak jacket covered with camouflage cloth. And how does he like the airport? "We're leaving here soon. We're leaving the airport. The Iraqis are taking over." In other words, I suggest, the Americans are going to let the Iraqi army or the Iraqi "Civil Defence" or any of the other fancy Iraqi outfits being trained by the Americans, take the nightly fire of the resistance here? "That's pretty much it," he said....
But the Americans are not leaving Iraq and the Iraqis know this. On my way back to Baghdad, I see two of the new recruits in the middle sandswept parade ground. They are taking their military trousers down and pulling on jeans, right there in front of the Americans. Time to go home for the night, the war over for another 12 hours. Until the Americans leave. Why does this remind me of Afghanistan?

The occupation makes farming difficult, if not impossible: Occupation hinders Iraqi agriculture.

A foreign correspondent for Time spent 10 weeks in Iraq and was appalled: Foreign correspondent appalled by Iraq war.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” Phil Zabriskie told the students. “It is easily the most unpleasant place I’ve been. There is anger everywhere.”

Under occupation, who can you trust? American troops in Iraq arrest current, former members of U.S.-trained defense force.

Wrong again! Most Suspects in Iraq Bombing Released.

All but nine of 24 suspects in last week's deadly blasts targeting Shiite Muslim pilgrims have been released, a top U.S. military official said Tuesday. Those still in U.S. custody are Arabic speakers believed to be Iraqis. Within hours of the bombings, U.S. and Iraqi officials had blamed foreign fighters and said several foreign suspects were captured.

Kurds rejoicing, due to misunderstanding the new constitution: Premature rejoicing in Kirkuk. But ethnic tensions have been very high there recently: Ethnic strains imperil Kirkuk: As Kurds stake a claim to their former city, Arabs and Turkmens are ready to fight back. Meanwhile, Turkey is very displeased: Iraq's Constitution displeases Turkey.

[Premature rejoicing:] The Kurdish population of Kirkuk took to the streets yesterday to declare the city had been in effect returned to Kurdistan, after decades of ravages by Saddam Hussein's regime, by the signing of the new interim constitution.... Far from handing Kirkuk back to the Kurds, the interim constitution leaves the issue unresolved, as is the issue of who should be able to return to reclaim property in the city. A western official said: "They are going have a nasty hangover when they wake up in the morning. "They clearly have not read the new law carefully enough."

Continued Shia criticism of the new constitution: Shi'ites Warn New Iraq Law Will Lead to Problems.

Juan Cole examines the Sunni-Shia divide: Conquering the divide.

The day after the explosions, Sunni and Shia clerics jointly led mourning processions to emphasise their unity in grief. In the Sunni strongholds of Adhamiyah in Baghdad and Fallujah in the west, mosque preachers mounted a successful blood drive for the bombing victims.

The Spoils! US company in Iraq says Halliburton owes it $87 million: US Food Co Says Halliburton Owes $87 Million For Iraq Deal.

A U.S. food subcontractor that runs 10% of the dining facilities in Iraq says it hasn't been paid by a Halliburton Co.(NYSE:HAL) (HAL) subsidiary for months and is threatening to stop serving hot meals to U.S. troops stationed there, NBC News reported Monday. The company, Event Source, said it's owed $87 million by Halliburton. Halliburton has a multi-billion dollar contract to feed and house the troops in Iraq.

Democracy? Only after its signing was the populace allowed to read the new constitution. Here's the text LAW OF ADMINISTRATION FOR THE STATE OF IRAQ: FOR THE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD on the occupation authority web site. Who's constitution is it?

Riverbend weighs in on Sistani and the constitution: Sistani and the Green Zone....

Support Our Troops? Greg Palast writes of the forgotten wounded: The Forgotten Soldiers of Operation "Iraqi Freedom". Meanwhile, Nancy Lessin and Gordon Clark say: Stop Hiding the Toll of War.

Robert Fisk sees continuity with the past: 'It's the same old Iraq, just a tiny bit worse than it was last month'.

Each time I return to Iraq, it's the same, like finding a razor blade in a bar of chocolate. The moment you start to believe that "New Iraq" might work - just - you get the proof that it's the same old Iraq, just a little tiny bit worse than it was last month.

Sistani criticizes the new constitution: Iraq's Al-Sistani Criticizes Constitution .

Interim constitution signed: Iraq Council Signs Delayed Interim Constitution.

The Spoils! The Pentagon has won another battle in the war in Washington. It will control the spoils, allowing it to choose which US corporations to make rich. Also, to make sure funds get filtered to its favorite Iraqis, like Chalabi: Pentagon to oversee most U.S. spending in Iraq, after dispute with State Department.

The aid package amounts to nearly two-thirds of Iraq's annual economic output in 2002, estimated by the World Bank at $28 billion. But only an estimated 20 percent of the funds will be spent inside Iraq – just under $2 billion each in 2004 and 2005. The rest will go to foreign contractors and suppliers.

Deal evidently reached to sign Interim Constitution as it stands: Iraq constitution 'deal reached'.

The Iron Fist! As U.S. Detains Iraqis, Families Plead for News.

Sabrea Kudi cannot find her son. He was taken by American soldiers nearly nine months ago, and there has been no trace of him since. "I'm afraid he's dead," Ms. Kudi said.
Lara Waad cannot find her husband. He was arrested in a raid, too. "I had God — and I had him," she said. "Now I am alone."
In Abu Sifa, a sunbaked village north of Baghdad, entire swaths of farmland have been cleared of males — fathers, sons, brothers, cousins. There are no men to do men's work. Women till the fields, guard the houses and hoist sacks of grapefruit on their backs. "Essam, come here," said Malaika Hassan, to her grandson. "Show our friends who is the new man of the house." Essam nuzzled in her skirt. He is 10 years old...
More than 10,000 men and boys are in custody. According to a detainee database maintained by the military, the oldest prisoner is 75, the youngest 11.... But the officials acknowledge that most of the people captured are probably not dangerous. Of a recent batch of cases reviewed by military judges, they recommended that 963 of 1,166 detainees be released.... "Iraq has turned into one big Guantánamo," Mr. Allami said, referring to the United States military prison in Cuba where hundreds of terrorism suspects are being held, mostly without charges.

The White Man's Burden is so great! A classic piece of New York Times propaganda by John Burns: The Road Ahead May Be Even Rougher. To comprehend why Iraqis distrust America, perhaps he should read the above piece [ As U.S. Detains Iraqis, Families Plead for News], from his own paper. But then, Iraqis being the mysterious other, shouldn't care if their family members are carried away in the dead of night by an occupier who refuses to even say where they are or if they are dead or alive. That inscrutable oriental mind!

Hard as it is for Americans to comprehend, many Iraqis, at least at times of stress, resort to a vehement distrust, a hatred even, for the country that rid them of the dictator who sent hundreds of thousands to their graves.

Many deep divisions continue among Iraqi politicians attempting to settle on an interim constitution: Shia boycott of signing widens Iraqi divisions: Ethnic majority objects to Kurdish power of veto

A New Yorker piece by Dan Baum on the aspect of the war they want us to forget: The Casualty: An American soldier comes home from Iraq.

When people talk about the Army being good for a certain kind of young man, it’s boys like Michael Cain they have in mind.

Must Read! Arnaud de Borchgrave of UPI provides a fascinating look at the crook and scoundrel who is rapidly acquiring power and turning Iraq into his personal fiefdom, Ahmad Chalabi: Commentary: Power grab in Iraq. However, not everything is rosy for him: US Army cancels $US327 million contract with Chalabi pal.

[Power grab:] Chalabi is already the dominant power broker. And for himself, he has quietly accumulated an impressive number of powerful positions. In addition to running Iraq's post-war intelligence service, known as the Information Collection Program, he is now head of the Governing Council's economic and finance committee. From this potentially lucrative perch, he controlled and supervised the appointment of no fewer than six key players, including three ministers -- the oil minister, the finance minister, the trade minister, the central bank governor, the head of the trade bank and the managing director of Iraq's largest commercial bank.
With this kind of power base, Chalabi's next steps were predictably familiar. They are déjà vu ad nauseam in other parts of the developing world. He has placed relatives and cronies in key slots in the new bureaucracy. Promissory contracts totaling some $400 million for Iraqi reconstruction projects have been allocated to Middle Eastern and American business friends....
The former governor of Jordan's Central Bank, Mohammed Said Nabulsi, told this reporter, "Chalabi was one of the most notorious crooks in the history of the Middle East."

A good background piece on the real power in Iraq: Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani: The real face of power in Iraq

After a brief respite in Jordan, Jo Wilding is back in Iraq, sometimes with the circus!. Here are her latest dispatches, from the poor and suffering who are seldom of interest to mainstream media: Bubble Riots: More from the camp at Al-Sha'ala and a circus in the home for disabled people; Post Traumatic Stress: The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Programme that Dr Ali and Dr Yousef are trying to run, in spite of all the difficulties. The Ashura bombings and another threat to Happy Family.; & Erbil: Circus to Kurdistan, part one.

Constitution delayed, as Shia flex muscle: New delay for Iraq constitution.

Must Read! A very illuminating and wide-ranging interview with a GI back from the war: A soldier back from Iraq discusses the war and the U.S. soldiers fighting that war, the suicides, and much more.

The lies and distortions continue, but they can't get their story straight: U.S. officials divided on extent of foreign involvement in terror attacks in Iraq.

U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer said it was ''increasingly apparent'' terrorism was coming from outside Iraq, but some American generals were far less certain about the extent of the foreign role....
A police captain in Ramadi, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Thursday that Iraqi security in the western province of Anbar saw few if any foreign Arab fighters. He said he had heard of arrests of a Syrian and a Yemeni, but had no confirmation.

Resistance statement says alleged Al Qaida-linked terrorist "mastermind" al-Zarqawi is long dead and that a recent letter from him is a fake: Iraq militants claim al-Zarqawi is dead: Al Qaida-linked extremist suspected of planning attacks

Karen Kwiatkowski thinks the permanent military control of Iraq is being planned right now: Commander, USFI?.

Chairman of the JCS Dick Meyers says that while the length of time U.S. troops will be deployed in Iraq is unknowable, it will be for some time. Retired Lt General Jay Garner is far more forthright, recently telling the Government Executive magazine that our troops will be in Iraq for the next few decades.
Jay Garner has a lot to say. He honestly reveals one of the primary reasons for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and no, it wasn't WMD, it wasn't because of a grave and growing threat, and sadly, it wasn't to liberate the Iraqi people from an evil dictator. Noting how establishing U.S. naval bases in the Philippines in the early 1900s allowed the United States to maintain a "great presence in the Pacific," Garner said, "To me that's what Iraq is for the next few decades. We ought to have something there ... that gives us great presence in the Middle East. I think that's going to be necessary." So that's what Iraq is for!...
An integrated headquarters, to plan for the defense of Iraq, in order to defeat enemy aggression. No doubt, some of that aggression will be from within. Perhaps some sort of controlled fracturing of Iraq can be managed, dividing an oil producing "friend of the U.S." from a terroristic no man's land that can be defended against. With over 130,000 troops already installed on U.S.-run Iraqi bases, we will now write the status of forces agreement and the charter for US Forces Iraq. Iraqi appointed politicians beholden to the United States for life, limb and cash flow will happily sign wherever we tell them. And as usual, we'll worry about the details later.

Why are they speaking this way, after a year of hyping the progress they are making: Top US general raises spectre of Iraq civil war.

Another day of death. Only three this time: Blast in Western Baghdad Kills at Least Three.

What are they good for? Rumsfeld says cannot stop Iraq attacks.

Allegedly, confusions in recent bombings, but even the US doesn't know about them: Iraqi Police Major: 5 Iraqis Confess To Karbala Bombing.

Riverbend's moving commentary on the mass killings: Ashoura Tragedy....

Fortunately, the reactions have been sane, yet sorrowful. Sunnis and Shi'a are sticking together... more now than ever before. It's like this catastrophe somehow made everyone realize that there are outside forces trying to drive us all apart and cause unrest or 'fitna'. People are refusing to believe that this was done by Iraqis. It's impossible. It's inexcusable and there is nothing that can justify it....
I guess we've all been expecting some sort of attack or riots or something... this tragedy was still unexpected. You sometimes think that you've seen all the violence there is- every single type- and there is nothing that will shock you anymore. This was a shock, and a painful one too....
Before Ashoura, there was a lot of talk about civil war. We talk about it like it concerns a different set of people, in another country. I guess that is because none of us can believe that anyone we know could be capable of senseless violence. After this massacre, and after seeing the reactions of Sunnis and Shi'a alike, my faith in the sense and strength of Iraqis has been reaffirmed. It has been like a large family- with many serious differences- reuniting after a terrible tragedy to comfort eachother and support one another.

US claims Abu Musab al-Zarqawi behind yesterday's attacks: US points finger over Iraq massacre.

Another skeptical account, this one by Pepe Escobar of Asia Times Online, of the recent lurch toward civil war: A constitution drenched in blood.

How did Iraq slide in 24 hours from adopting a draft constitution that could pave the way for democracy into a state where civil war is a definite step closer? Simple. Blame it on al-Qaeda. It's the easy way out. But the attacks against the Shi'ites must be interpreted in light of what happened behind the closed doors of the US-appointed IGC during the weekend....
A united Iraqi nation resisting the massive presence of US and other foreign troops in its territory, even after the transfer of sovereignty on June 30, would be a troublesome prospect. So no wonder articles have already popped up in the New York Times and the French daily Le Figaro calling for a partition of Iraq....
In the Sunni Arab world, nobody believes in the veracity of the now-famous Zarqawi letter found on a computer disk. It couldn't be more convenient in the ways it outlines a full strategy for attacks on the Shi'ites....
Sources confirm to Asia Times Online that there's a pervasive feeling in the Shi'ite street that the multiple carnage was a bloody message by the Americans to Sistani: stop demanding direct elections, or else. On top of it, we have Shi'ites indistinctly blaming the Americans and Wahhabis - a code for al-Qaeda. This means that there is a clear perception in the Shi'ite street that the agenda of both Washington and al-Qaeda is the same: both sides want civil war. The Americans can invoke chaos as a reason to prolong the occupation and fight "terrorism". And Islamist groups profiting from a link with the brand name "al-Qaeda" can keep focusing Islamists everywhere in the anti-American jihad going on in Iraq....
The most important element in the equation is that practically no Shi'ites are directly blaming Sunnis - or vowing revenge. This proves once again that the resistance against the occupation has forged its own unity.
No major controversy has really been solved by this draft constitution. It's an extremely provisional document that the administration of US President George W Bush can brandish like a "victory" on the path toward a new Iraq.

Many blame the Americans for yesterday's carnage: Mourning Iraqis Direct Anger Toward US Troops: Some ask why GIs didn't prevent attacks -- others suspect them.

Despite the recognizable pattern, Tuesday's blasts appeared to catch U.S. officials off guard. As news broke on CNN that explosions had been heard in Baghdad, a small group of reporters was meeting with a senior U.S. military official. Glancing up at the television monitor on the wall, the official initially dismissed the explosions as probably a harmless detonation of unexploded ordnance by U.S. soldiers. He was midway through telling the journalists that attacks against U.S. soldiers fell by half between November and February -- a development that has raised Iraqis' suspicion. In numerous interviews Tuesday, Iraqis said they distrust the motivations of U.S. forces because it is Iraqis, not Americans, who are now being killed in large numbers.
"The Americans protect only themselves, not the Iraqi people," said Najim Abed, 47, near the blood-spattered Baghdad shrine.

Arrests of people possibly involved in yesterday's attacks: 15 detained over Iraq attacks.

Reaction to yesterday's horror: Iraq to mourn Shia massacre dead.

But the top Shia Muslim cleric, Ayatollah al-Sistani, criticised the US for failing to secure the country's borders from foreign attackers. "We put responsibility on the occupation forces for the noticeable procrastination in controlling the borders of Iraq and preventing infiltrators, and not strengthening Iraqi national forces and supplying them with the necessary equipment to do their jobs," he said in a statement.

Support Our Troops? GI punished for speaking out: GI Denied Health Care After Speaking Out.

Must Read! Robert Fisk raises a warning: All This Talk Of Civil War, And Now This Carnage. Coincidence?.

Odd, isn't it? There never has been a civil war in Iraq. I have never heard a single word of animosity between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq.
Al-Qa'ida has never uttered a threat against Shias - even though al-Qa'ida is a Sunni-only organisation. Yet for weeks, the American occupation authorities have been warning us about civil war, have even produced a letter said to have been written by an al-Qa'ida operative, advocating a Sunni-Shia conflict....
Somehow I don't believe it. No, I don't believe the Americans were behind yesterday's carnage despite the screams of accusation by the Iraqi survivors yesterday. But I do worry about the Iraqi exile groups who think that their own actions might produce what the Americans want: a fear of civil war so intense that Iraqis will go along with any plan the United States produces for Mesopotamia....
It's not that I believe al-Qa'ida incapable of such a bloodbath. But I ask myself why the Americans are rubbing this Sunni-Shia thing so hard. Let's turn the glass round the other way. If a violent Sunni movement wished to evict the Americans from Iraq - and there is indeed a resistance movement fighting very cruelly to do just that - why would it want to turn the Shia population of Iraq, 60 per cent of Iraqis, against them? The last thing such a resistance would want is to have the majority of Iraqis against it....
We are entering a dark and sinister period of Iraqi history. But an occupation authority which should regard civil war as the last prospect it ever wants to contemplate, keeps shouting "civil war" in our ears and I worry about that. Especially when the bombs make it real.

Iraqi infant mortality rate still abysmal: High infant mortality rate shows ills of Iraqi health system.

One in 10 children dies before turning a year old in an Iraqi health care system in disarray after years of neglect, last year's war and the looting that followed it. The infant mortality rate is comparable to those of the poorest countries in Africa....
Two decades of war and international sanctions have rendered Iraqi hospitals decrepit and doctors woefully behind the times in terms of training. Looting after the U.S.-led invasion stripped many hospitals and clinics bare.

Witnesses claim Polish troops went haywire: Polish Troops Fire on Pilgrims in Iraq.

Demonstration and strike against Kurd plans for Kirkuk: Thousands of Sadrists Demonstrate in Kirkuk.

Compromise, for now: Iraqis agree draft constitution.

Protest, Resistance, and Civil War

Occupation Resistance Analysis

The four "civilians" killed today worked for a NC security firm: 4 Killed in Iraq Worked for N.C. Firm. Here are pictures of the scene from the New York Times [Warning, they are very gruesome.].

Privately owned Blackwater USA's range of services include providing firearms and small-groups training for Navy SEALs, police department SWAT teams and former special operations personnel.

At least seven, including at least five soldiers die in attacks today: Bodies mutilated in Iraq attack. More details on one of the killings: Iraqis drag bodies through streets. In addition: Three British soldiers wounded in Iraq blast.

[Bodies mutilated:] Witnesses said residents struck the bodies with shovels, cutting off parts of them while shouting "long live Islam". "The people of Falluja hanged some of the bodies on the old bridge like slaughtered sheep," said local resident Abdul Aziz Mohammed....
In a separate incident, five soldiers were killed in a bomb attack at a location west of Baghdad on Wednesday.... At least 12 people were also reported injured in a suspected car bomb attack in the town of Baquba, north of Baghdad, on Wednesday.

There are varied accounts of yesterday's fight in Fallujah, after US troops entered a town which they had recently left alone: Clash between Marines, guerrillas kills 1 American, at least 6 Iraqis.

A doctor at the main Fallujah hospital put the death toll at eight, including three children and an Iraqi television cameraman working for ABC News. Two dozen people were wounded, news agencies quoted doctors as saying.

The US reports that 350 police have been killed: U.S.: 350 Iraq Police Killed in Past Year . Other figures have been as hish as 600.

Three more US deaths, with a number of wounded: Three U.S. soldiers die in ambushes.

More Iraqis die: Six killed in ambush on U.S. military vehicle.

An account by a Republican, Mike Holmes, who spoke at the Crawford, TX anti-war march Saturday: Republican Speaks at Crawford Texas Antiwar Protest .

More police are killed in Kirkuk. Some accounts have more Iraqi police j=killed (>600) than US troops. Of course they're Iraqi, so the US news hardly considers that "news": Gunmen kill two police in northern Iraqi city. A few hours later: Insurgents Kill 11 Police in Day of Unrest in Iraq.

Pictures from Saturday's anti-war demonstrations around the world: Global Antiwar Pics, 20/3/2004.

Fourteen British soldiers injured in Basra: 14 soldiers hurt as hundreds riot in Basra.

Tom Engelhardt brilliantly captures the moment of protest on Saturday: One year later than what?

Stay tuned. CNN is global, but so are we and there's more to come.

More deaths. this time two Finns among the dead: Two Finns Killed in Latest Baghdad Battle.

More rocket deaths today: Rockets Hit Upscale Baghdad Neighborhood, Killing 4.

Rockets attacks kill two Iraqis and two US soldiers, including a death in the Green Zone. Another police station also hit: Insurgents Kill Two U.S. Soldiers, Three Iraqis.

A report on the San Francisco protests, to complement the reports below: Protesters jam S.F. streets: Marchers in the city and around the world oppose U.S.-led war. Demonstrations mostly peaceful.

World-wide anti-war protests: Huge Worldwide Protests Demand Iraq Troop Pullout(Reuters); Worldwide protests mark first anniversary of US-led invasion of Iraq (AFP: good coverage of European protests); and Major Protests Mark Iraq War Anniversary (AP). Also: Anti-war protesters march in London on Iraq war anniversary; About 10,000 demonstrators march in Paris against Iraq war; Hundreds protest in Montpelier on first anniversary of Iraq war and Ohio protesters rally against Iraqi.

two more GIs killed: Two U.S. Marines killed in Iraq.

A new Peace display: Peace group unveils display protesting the war in Iraq.

A peace group unveiled a display protesting the war in Iraq on Thursday that includes hundreds of pairs of boots and thousands of shell casings meant to symbolize the number of American military and Iraqi civilians who have died in the war.
A few feet away from the boots is a plowshare. On the plowshare and behind it are more than 10,000 shiny gold-colored bullet casings. The group said each one represents an Iraqi civilian killed since the war started.
McConnell said it is the only display he knows of in the United States to honor the civilian dead of an opposing country.

Iraq under occupation sets new records, for deaths from suicide bombings: Suicide bombers strike almost at will in Iraq, killing at least 660 in two dozens strikes this past year.

More deadly bombings and attacks: Car bomb explosion kills 5 Iraqi civilians in Basra and Three killed in blast at TV office in Iraq. Two US troops were also killed in separate mortar attacks: Another deadly car bombing shakes Iraq.

Another horrifying bombing kills at least 27, mostly Iraqis: Blast rips through Baghdad hotel.

Wish we had more like these two! Two American soldiers in Iraq apply for conscientious objector status.

Two U.S. Army medics in Iraq have applied for conscientious objector status and want to be honorably discharged from the military because the idea of killing is ``revolting'' to them, their company commander said Tuesday.

19 US soldiers injured in two day sweep near ramadi: US takes casualties in Ramadi.

Soldier joins antiwar fight: Deserter aims to be first veteran to challenge Iraq war's morality.

Four dead in two days and nine in four days. But, of course, as Bremer and other administration figures constantly remind us, the more soldiers killed, the more the opposition is on its last legs. That should comfort the soldiers' families: Bombs Kill 4 U.S. Soldiers in Iraq. A few minutes later I see that two more have died, bringing the two-day toll to six: Bombs kill 6 U.S. soldiers in Iraq this weekend.

[Meanwhile (from Bombs kill 6):] The U.S.-led occupation authority also announced that it will shut most border crossings with Iran. But an Iraqi spokesman said the policy ran counter to Iraq's interest and would be reversed after the country gains sovereignty on June 30. "This is the problem: You have an occupying power that looks after its own interests," said Entifadh Qanbar, a spokesman for Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi. "Sooner or later we will have our sovereignty and we will want to have long and friendly relations with Iran."

A day later, two more US deaths: Bomb kills 2 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. And an Iraqi: One Killed, Several Wounded, in Baghdad Blast.

Two US soldiers killed in attack: Roadside bomb kills two American soldiers in Iraq.

One day, more Iraqi death: 8 people killed in clashes of Iraq police with Shiite armed unit; 2 More Translators Killed In Iraq; and Roadside bomb kills U.S. soldier in Iraq: Gunmen also fatally shoot 2 coalition laundry workers in Basra, as FBI opens probe into slayings of American staffers, translator in attack yesterday.

US civilian occupation employees shot, along with their Iraqi translator: Two U.S. Civilians, Iraqi Killed in Iraq. Is there any count of US civilians or Iraqi translators killed by resistance fighters?

Another day of death: Grenade attack, shootings in Iraq kill 5, wound 12.

At least seven rockets hit green zone. One injury reported: One hurt in attack on American headquarters in Iraq.

Juan Cole is putting together a set of documents on alleged terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi: Documents on Terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Meanwhile, Justin Huggler in the Independent argues that the evidence is far from compelling that Zarqawi is behind recent attacks: Is this man the mastermind of the massacres?

[Is this man...:] Zarqawi may well have been responsible for what happened last week: he is as good a candidate as anyone else. But even in the US there is scepticism, with one well-placed official seeing his alleged letter to al-Qa'ida as more of an empty boast, or a plea for recognition, than a plan of action. Others add that it would be impossible for foreign militants to move into such a closed society as Iraq, where people are deeply suspicious of outsiders, including non-Iraqi Arabs, and carry out a campaign of violence without significant Iraqi participation at every turn....
All the talk from the Americans about civil war has backfired badly among Iraqis. Many Iraqis believe, however misguidedly, that the Americans actually want Sunni-Shia conflict as an excuse to keep their troops in Iraq. In the wake of the Ashoura attacks, it has been the Americans who keep warning of civil war, not Iraqis. A few Iraqis even believe that the Americans may have staged the attacks in Karbala and Baghdad themselves.

Further mass killings, this time aimed at Shia shrines. at least 81 dead, so far: Scores Die in Multiple Blasts at Iraqi Shiite Shrines: Attacks Timed to Coincide With Major Religious Ceremony. A few hours later, the toll stands at 143: Attacks on Iraqi Shi'ites kill 143. Though it isn't clear if there is a connection, but, on the same day: At least 38 Pakistani Shi'ites killed. To appreciate the horror, see the BBC Photos.

Analysis, Commentary, & Domestic Reaction

Occupation Resistance Analysis

Isabel Hilton raises an interesting question: Maybe none of them are terrorists: Even the US military's own lawyers realise Guantánamo is an own goal.

Consider this theoretical possibility: if no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, is it also possible that there are no al-Qaida terrorists in Guantánamo?...
Out of more than 600 people, only six have been designated for trial. Nearly 100 detainees have been released with no more explanation than had been given for their detention. One Afghan detainee was handed $100 by a US military officer as he arrived at Kabul airport, as though he were a taxi driver being tipped for carrying his bags.

Paul Sperry asks: Is Fix in at 9/11 Commission?.

[T]he White House has a friend on the inside. And not just any friend, either. His name is Philip D. Zelikow, the executive director of the commission. Though he has no vote, the former Texas lawyer arguably has more sway than any member, including the chairman. Zelikow picks the areas of investigation, the briefing materials, the topics for hearings, the witnesses, and the lines of questioning for witnesses. He also picks which fights are worth fighting, legally, with the White House, and was involved in the latest round of capitulations – er, negotiations – over Rice's testimony.... There's a raft of evidence to suggest that Zelikow has personal, professional and political reasons not to see the commission hold Rice and other Bush officials accountable for pre-9/11 failings, and may be the de facto swing vote for Republicans on the panel....
Former White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke says he briefed not only Rice and Hadley, but also Zelikow about the growing al-Qaida threat during the transition period. Zelikow sat in on the briefings, he says....
But with the commission still refusing to subpoena the documents and caving to White House ground rules on testimony, the stench of political bias has become too strong, and Zelikow should nonetheless step down, immediately, for the sake of the families, many of whom are demanding his resignation.

The White House backs down: Rice to testify in public, under oath: Bush, Cheney also will go before full 9/11 panel. As a condition, the Commission had to commit, in writing, that they would not seek any other White House testimony? the Commission agreed. since when do investigators promise in advance not to follow leads? See also: The Insider -- The Town Crier: He came, he bore witness and he sent Washington into a frenzy. How Richard Clarke fueled a firestorm over who's to blame for 9/11, why two presidents missed the warning signs—and what we can learn to keep it from happening again and the Transcript of Richrad Clarke's Meet the Press interview (March 28, 2004).

New York Times editor says "We have no shame"! Keller Defends Judith Miller in Statement . Meanwhile, in a local rag, honor reveals itself: Reporter Apologizes for Iraq Coverage.

Administration admits another lie. Do these folks ever tell the truth? President Asked Aide to Explore Iraq Link to 9/11 Attacks. See also "We should have had orange or red-type of alert in June or July of 2001": A former FBI translator told the 9/11 commission that the bureau had detailed information well before Sept. 11, 2001, that terrorists were likely to attack the U.S. with airplanes..

[President Asked:] The White House acknowledged Sunday that on the day after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush pressed his top counterterrorism adviser, Richard A. Clarke, to find out whether Iraq was involved.
[We should have ...":] A former FBI wiretap translator with top-secret security clearance, who has been called "very credible" by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has told Salon she recently testified to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States that the FBI had detailed information prior to Sept. 11, 2001, that a terrorist attack involving airplanes was being plotted.

New poll finds modest declines in support for Bush;s anti-terrorism policies, but not in overall support: Blow For Bush

An extensive collection of Condoleezza Rice's "misstatements". Does she not know truth from wish, or is she just lying? Or, like some of the others in the administration, is it a thrill to see how much lying one can get away with? Condoleezza Rice's Credibility Gap: A point-by-point analysis of how one of America's top national security officials has a severe problem with the truth.

Ira Chernus reminds us of the dangers inherent in the American obsession with security: Bush Critics Want Right Things for the Wrong Reasons.

If we applaud Richard Clarke and his kind now, we cannot urge the voters to do the right thing for the right reason. We cannot argue that militarism and tough "security measures" are the wrong approach to the problem. We cannot explain how Bush's foreign policy, like Clinton's, breeds anti-American violence. We cannot talk about the changes we want to see in U.S. foreign policy, so that the victims of our policy won't feel driven to commit suicide in an effort to deter us....
Any nation that clings to a fantasy of perfect security makes its inhabitants less secure. When that nation has the greatest military power in the history of the world, it endangers not only its own people but all the people of the world. If we play on the fantasy of perfect security to oust Bush, we may be doing the right thing in the short run. But in the long run, we will learn the hard way that T. S. Eliot was right. The greatest treason is to do the right thing for the wrong reason.

Even Bush's jokes are backfiring: Bush's Iraq WMDs joke backfires.

It takes Robert Fisk to spell out the implications of yesterday's assassination of Hamas head Sheikh Yassin: Killing Of Sheikh Yassin: The Chilling Implications Of This State Killing.

But there was something infinitely more dangerous in all this. Yet another Arab - another leader, however vengeful and ruthless - had been assassinated. The Americans want to kill Osama Bin Laden. They want to kill Mullah Omar. They killed Saddam's two sons. The Israelis repeatedly threaten to murder Yasser Arafat. It's getting to be a habit.
No one has begun to work out the implications of all this. For years, there has been an unwritten rule in the cruel war of government-versus- guerrilla. You can kill the men on the street, the bomb makers and gunmen. But the leadership on both sides - government ministers, spiritual leaders - were allowed to survive....
With all their own security, Bush and Blair may be safe, but what about their ambassadors and fellow ministers? Leaders are fair game. We will not say this. If, or when, our own political leaders are gunned down or blown up, we shall vilify the killers and argue a new stage in "terrorism" has been reached. We shall forget that we are now encouraging this all- out assassination spree.

Here is the text of former anti-terrorism official Richard Clarke's 60 Minutes Interview. For a detailed account of his claims about the Bush administration, go to: 9/11 hijackers could have been stopped, says ex-aide: In an interview with the Guardian a former White House insider insists, over administration denials, that Bush took his eye off al-Qaida . See also (from CNN): Clarke: 'White House is papering over facts'. And the Center for American Progress details the lies being told in rebuttal of Clarke's claims: White House Tailspin. See also many related documents on their web site. Also, check out the hatchet job by "never let truth be spoiled by administration lies" Judith Miller in that newspaper of disrepute, the New York Times: Former Terrorism Official Criticizes White House on 9/11.

Joan Vennochi analyzes the difficulty of mainstream critics of the war: It's hard to say war wasn't worth it.

Was war with Iraq worth it? Even politicians like Kennedy, who voted against the war, have a difficult time saying no. They are afraid such a direct response will be interpreted to mean that Americans died and are dying there for no good reason. That is not a message any political leader of either political party cares to send to Americans, especially to American soldiers and their families.

Group of business leaders condemns Bush lies that led to war: US Business Group Slams Bush 'Deception' Over Iraq War.

"It's time for someone in this government to step forward and take personal responsibility for the deadly deceptions used to mislead this great nation into war. "And that someone must be George W. Bush."
The group's 500 members include the present or former CEOs of Bell Industries, Eastman Kodak and Goldman Sachs, as well as CNN founder Ted Turner.

Jimmy Carter criticizes Bush and Blair for starting needless war: Jimmy Carter: Stirring up a hornet's nest, the president turned peacemaker: 'There was no need for that war' -- The Monday Interview: Former President of the United States.

"There was no reason for us to become involved in Iraq last year. That was a war based on lies and misinterpretations from London and Washington, claiming falsely that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, claiming falsely that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. "President Bush and Prime Minister Blair probably knew that many of the allegations were based on uncertain intelligence and a decision was made to go to war [and then people said] 'lets find a reason to do so'."

Attack on Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Mosul kills one: 1 dead, 4 injured in attack on Iraqi Kurdish party offices.

An article I'd missed at the time. Seymour M. Hersh reported in 2002 that the US facilitated the evacuation of over 4,000 surrounded Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Why were they flown out? And who is it that has languished in the Guantanamo concentration camp for years? Are those the fighters now surrounded in Northern Pakistan? The Getaway.

In interviews in New Delhi, Indian national-security and intelligence officials repeatedly declared that the airlift had rescued not only members of the Pakistani military but Pakistani citizens who had volunteered to fight against the Northern Alliance, as well as non-Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda. Brajesh Mishra, India's national-security adviser, said his government had concluded that five thousand Pakistanis and Taliban—he called it "a ballpark figure"—had been rescued.

New testimony from a senior official that many in the administration wanted to bomb Iraq right after 9/11, even though they knew it had nothing to do with the attacks: Ex-adviser: Iraq considered after 9/11.

Stephen Zunes gives his one year commentary: Iraq One Year Later.

Despite these problems, there are surprisingly few prominent American political figures advocating an American withdrawal or even turning over Iraqi administration to the United Nations. Even former presidential contender Howard Dean, whose anti-war positions led him to be criticized by Senator Kerry and other pro-invasion Democrats, argued that now that U.S. forces have invaded Iraq, they should stay.

Could Howard Stern swing the US election? Could Stern's anti-Bush rants shock the vote?.

The Guardian is publishing an extensive set of interviews giving diverse opinions on Iarq One Year On.

Bush gets endorsement: Bombing Group Reportedly Wants Bush Re-Elected: Terrorists Say They Need Bush's 'Idiocy' To Wake Up Islamic World.

Spanish PM Zapatero tells Kerry to buzz off: Zapatero rejects Kerry call on Iraq troops

“Maybe John Kerry does not know – but I am happy to explain it to him – that my commitment to withdraw the troops goes back before the tragic, dramatic terrorist attack,” Zapatero said. “If the United Nations does not take over the situation and there is not a rethinking of this chaotic occupation we are living through, in which there are more dead in the occupation than in the war phase, the Spanish troops are going to return to Spain”, Zapatero said.
[However:] “Terrorists have to know that (in Spain) there is going to be a government that is inflexible with terrorism and that wherever they are, they will be hunted down. This has been my policy since I was leader of the opposition.”

Singer Stephan Smith has a new song: You Ain't A Cowboy available free online.

Senator John McCain Says Kerry Not Weak on Defense. That's what I was afraid of!

The Italian European Affairs Minister, a member of the Christian Democratic Party, joins the chorus of US allies criticizing the Iraq war: Iraq War 'May Have Been a Mistake': Italian Minister.

"What is certain is that it wasn't the best thing to do," he added. "Terrorism cannot be defeated only by the force of arms, and if we give the impression that weapons play the dominant role, we will only stir up nationalist feelings among the Arabs against us," he added.

The Family Steering Committee for The 9/11 Independent Commission has issued a public statement, in response to attacks from right-wing hacks. Included is a detailed list of 23 questions they want President Bush to answer under oath. The questions make clear why Bush is avoiding the Commision like the plague. Obviously, anything less will be a cover-up.

Newsweek reports that the FBI has been frozen out of the investigation of the Madrid bombings: Shut Out?

New Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero actually seems to have a brain: Socialist victor in Spain criticizes Bush and Blair.

‘‘The war has been a disaster, the occupation continues to be a great disaster,’’ Zapatero said on the Spanish radio station Cadena SER. ‘‘It hasn’t generated anything but more violence and hate. What simply cannot be is that — after it became so clear how badly it was handled — there be no consequences. Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair will have to reflect and engage in some self-criticism, so things like that don’t happen again....’’
‘‘You can’t organize a war on the basis of lies,’’ Zapatero said. ‘‘You can’t bomb a people just in case.’’ In his first news conference later in the day, Zapatero also pledged to repair relations with France and Germany, which were badly damaged when it split with them over the war.

Even anti-semite Mel Gibson is questioning the war: Gibson hits out at war in Iraq.

Must Read! An incredible resource! Prepared in response to a request from Rep. Henry Waxman, the congressional Special Investigations Division of the Minority (Democratic) staff of the House Government Reform Committee prepared a detailed report: Iraq on the Record: The Bush Administration's Public Statements on Iraq (pdf) "a comprehensive examination of the statements made by the five Administration officials most responsible for providing public information and shaping public opinion on Iraq: President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice." Also available from them is a searchable database identifying "237 specific misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq made by these five officials in 125 public appearances in the time leading up to and after the commencement of hostilities in Iraq." See also the detailed Methodology. Very important in using the database is that "The database does not include statements that appear mistaken only in hindsight. If a statement was an accurate reflection of U.S. intelligence at the time it was made, the statement is excluded from the database even if it now appears erroneous." Further: "To be conservative, the Special Investigations Division excluded hundreds of statements by the five officials that many observers would consider misleading." To check their assessments, "The Special Investigations Division asked two leading independent experts to peer review this report for fairness and accuracy. These two independent experts are: Joseph Cirincione, senior associate and director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Greg Thielmann, former acting director of the Office of Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs in the Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. These experts judged that this report is a fair and accurate depiction of the Administration’s statements."

Last Sunday, March 14, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld directly lied on national tv (Face the Nation), and was caught doing so. He said no one in the administration had used phrases like "imminent threat" when describing Iraq and its alleged WMD. For the first time, he was confronted with explicit quotes from his prewar talks using those, or synonymous words. See Rumsfeld sputter sputter here.

Republicans in congress pass resolution to aid bush reelection: Divided US House OKs Resolution Praising Troops In Iraq.

New Spanish leader stands firm against US pressure. What a bizarre idea, saying after an election what you said before. I guess Bush never heard of democracy: Spain's Zapatero Rejects Bush Appeal on Iraq.

"My position is the same. I have explained it throughout the election campaign," he said. "The occupying forces have not allowed the United Nations to take control of the situation."
"Fighting terrorism with bombs, with operations of 'shock and awe', with missiles, that does not combat terrorism it only generates more radicalism," the 43-year-old Socialist leader said. "The way to fight terrorism is with the rule of law, with international legislation, with intelligence services," he said. "This is what the international community should be talking about."

What hypocrisy! Its ok for "terrorists" to get a country to launch endless wars, but not for a country to withdraw from endless provocative wars. Not to mention that 90% of the Spanish people opposed the war from the beginning and it was only the pressure from of the US that got Spain involved in the first place: US turns on Spanish 'appeasement'. If "terrorists must not be allowed to think that they influence ... policy", then why does the US go along with the endless retaliatiatory and punitive policy of Israel, and why does the US launch policies of wars in response to "terrorism"?

The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said: "Terrorists must not be allowed to think that they influence elections or that they influence policy. That would be a terrible message to send."

A new international poll finds that those with a favorable view of the US have declined precipitously everywhere: America's Image Further Erodes, Europeans Want Weaker Ties: But Post-War Iraq Will Be Better Off, Most Say. And support for the war in Iraq is at miniscule levels, though many feel that Iraqis may benefit in the long run.

In Poland, positive views of the U.S. have fallen to 50% from nearly 80% six months ago; in Italy, the proportion of respondents holding favorable views of the United States has declined by half over the same period (from 70% to 34%). In Spain, fewer than one-in-five (14%) have a favorable opinion of the United States....
But ironically, most publics surveyed think that in the long run the Iraqi people will be better off and the Middle East will be more stable if Iraq is disarmed and Hussein is removed from power. More than seven-in-ten of the French (73%) and Germans (71% ) see the Iraqi public benefiting. Only in Russia and Turkey is there significant pessimism that war may worsen conditions in the region.
More generally, criticisms of U.S. foreign policy are almost universal.... While critics of America's foreign policies mostly blame the president, rather than America more generally, the poll finds strong support for the idea that Western Europe should take a more independent approach to security and diplomatic affairs. Majorities in four of five Western European countries surveyed hold this opinion, and a 48% plurality in Great Britain agrees.

Ira Chernus asks why Americans don't at least listen to the "terrorists": to hear what they say they want: Terror and Taboo in the Homeland.

When the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades (named for a slain Al Qaeda leader) claimed responsibility, they said: "Stop targeting us, release our prisoners, and leave our land, and we will stop attacking you." Hard to make it any clearer than that. These are merely the latest examples of the same simple message that has been coming from bin Laden and Al Qaeda since long before 9-11. They don't care much what we do in our infidel lands (though they encourage us to clean up our act). They just want us to leave them alone.
Maybe we should. Maybe we shouldn't. What's most terrifying is that hardly anyone here talks about it....
The powers that be, Democrat as well as Republican, are desperate to have us choose option A. That's why they have tried so hard (with all too much success) to impose the Great Taboo on option B, even though it certainly seems the more logical choice. If we choose B, we would have to hear the attackers' grievances: U.S. troops are stationed throughout their lands. The U.S. kills and dominates the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. supports the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Then we would have to discuss a very disturbing question: How many of us are willing to risk our lives, or the lives of our loved ones, for those policies?

Houston Chronicle reporter Harvey Rice describes: A war story I wish I'd written, the story of news suppression by the military commissars during the war.

Gradually, it dawned on me that the military had herded us into the press center so that we could be kept away from information. The press center was sealed off from the rest of the base, and access was controlled by armed guards. A reporter's contact with military personnel of any rank was controlled by a press officer. All military personnel, except the press officers, were restricted to the base, so there was no opportunity, as in past wars, for reporters to meet officers or enlisted men for candid appraisals of the fighting as it unfolded. The entire anti-information campaign was run by a Texan named Jim Wilkinson, a Republican political operative who once worked for former U.S. Rep. Dick Armey.
Wilkinson, now communications deputy for National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, was one of a score of Republican operatives who descended on Florida during the balloting recount in the 2000 presidential campaign. Wilkinson also helped sell the impression that Al Gore claimed to have "invented the Internet." Despite his penchant for desert camouflage uniforms and military jargon, Wilkinson, a civilian, was essentially a political commissar who controlled information about the war as if he were running an election campaign...
Wilkinson once called a{<>} staff meeting to praise the 42 press officers for keeping reporters away from news of any sort, one of the press officers revealed.
And that's where my guilt comes in. In retrospect, I realize now that I should have filed a story the first day of the war saying that no information was coming from Central Command. Although most reporters individually treated the press operation with the disdain it so richly deserved, there were no stories revealing it for what it was. There were no publishers making angry phone calls to the Pentagon or the White House -- no letters, no outrage. In this, we all failed the American public.

Lets hear it for Knight Ridder! They have the guts to admit they were a conduit for Iraqi National Congress lies. Don't hold your breath for the New York Times or Washington Post to follow suit: Iraqi exile group fed false information to news media. Here is a list of 108 articles based on INC "evidence": List of articles cited by the Information Collection Program (ICP).

A June 26, 2002, letter from the Iraqi National Congress to the Senate Appropriations Committee listed 108 articles based on information provided by the INC's Information Collection Program, a U.S.-funded effort to collect intelligence in Iraq....
Feeding the information to the news media, as well as to selected administration officials and members of Congress, helped foster an impression that there were multiple sources of intelligence on Iraq's illicit weapons programs and links to bin Laden....
U.S. officials and others who supported a pre-emptive invasion quoted the allegations in statements and interviews without running afoul of restrictions on classified information or doubts about the defectors' reliability....
According to the letter, publications in which the articles appeared included The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic Monthly, The Times of London, The Sunday Times of London, The Sunday Age of Melbourne, Australia, and two Knight Ridder newspapers, The Kansas City Star and The Philadelphia Daily News. The Associated Press and others also wrote stories based on INC-provided materials....
In at least one case, the INC made a defector available to a journalist before his information had been fully reviewed by U.S. intelligence officials. The defector, an engineer, Adnan Ihsan al Haideri, claimed in a Dec. 20, 2001, New York Times article by Judith Miller that there were biological, nuclear and chemical warfare facilities under private villas, the Saddam Hussein Hospital and fake water wells around Baghdad. Senior U.S. officials said U.S. arms inspectors have found no fake wells or a laboratory under the hospital. Some secret rooms have been located under villas, mosques and palaces, but the officials, who asked not to be identified, said they weren't among locations that al Haideri claimed to know about. Several requests to The New York Times to speak to Miller were not answered....
U.S. intelligence officials have determined that virtually all of the defectors' information was marginal or useless, and that some of the defectors were fabricators or embellished the threat from Saddam. Many of the articles relied on interviews with the same defectors, who appeared to change facts with each telling. For instance, one defector first appeared in several stories as an Iraqi army former captain, but a later story said he was a major....
The Information Collection Program (ICP) was financed out of the more than $18 million that Congress approved for the Iraqi National Congress, led by Chalabi, now a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, between 1999 and 2003. The group remains on the Pentagon's payroll.

A portrait of CIA consultant and critic of empire Chalmers Johnson. author of Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire: The Disquieted American.

Then came 1991 and the demise of the Soviet Union. "I was shocked by our country's reaction," he said. "I expected a much larger peace dividend. I expected a demobilization of our massive Cold War apparatus. I believe we behaved outrageously, in the sense that our government began immediately to search for a replacement enemy: China, instability, drug wars, terrorism, damn near anything they could find." Johnson reassessed where he stood. "It raised the question," he said, "Was the Cold War a cover for a deeper and more fundamental American imperial project?"

Robert Fisk The West was warned. Now it is paying the price of the 'war on terror'.

If America's neo-conservatives believe in the "war of civilisations", then so does al-Qa'ida: what other effect could the Madrid slaughter have in the West than to reinforce the notion - however preposterous historically - that Islam and the West were in conflict? Civilians are now to die in Europe as brutally as they have died in Bali and Tunisia and Istanbul and - let us, for a moment, see the world through another prism - as they have been torn to pieces by our bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq

Support for the war nose dives in Texas: Support for the war in Iraq declines in Texas, poll finds.

Finally, Bob Schieffer points out one of Rumsfeld's bald-faced lies on Face the Nation: Rumsfeld Caught Lying, Yet Again, On "Face the Nation." But This Time, a Journalist Actually Threw It In His Face.

Tony Karon in Time argues that the US is (once again) deluding itself in regard to the Iraqi Shia: The Shiites The U.S. Thinks It Knows: U.S. policy thinking gets a little wishful in the search for Arab allies.

An interesting contrarian analysis of the future of US foreign policy by Gabriel Kolko. He argues that a second Bush administration may, from a foreign policy angle, be the lesser of two evils, as Bush's action constrain US hegemony by alienating traditional allies around the world: The US Must be Isolated and Constrained: The Coming Elections and the Future of American Global Power.

But America will be more prudent and the world will be far safer only if the Bush Administration is constrained by a lack of allies and isolated.

What does one make of this claim? Not impossible, as US elections near: U.S. Unloading WMD in Iraq.

Over the past few days, in the wake of the bombings in Karbala and the ideological disputes that delayed the signing of Iraq’s interim constitution, there have been reports that U.S. forces have unloaded a large cargo of parts for constructing long-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the southern ports of Iraq.
He added that the cargo was unloaded during the night as attention was still focused on the aftermath of the deadly bombings in Karbala and the signing of Iraq’s interim constitution. The source said that in order to avoid suspicion, ordinary cargo ships were used to download the cargo, which consisted of weapons produced in the 1980s and 1990s.

Ritt Goldstein of Asia Times Online comments on Washington's increasing tendency to try and "spin" (a.k.a., "lie") their way out of their Iraq mess: Iraq: Washington spinning out of control.

Juan Cole reports that the Washington Post [Pentagon Shadow Loses Some Mystique: Feith's Shops Did Not Usurp Intelligence Agencies on Iraq, Hill Probers Find] is actively complicity in covering up the Pentagon's role in prewar intelligence: Red Herrings on Discount at Washington Post

The article denies that Feith's office engaged in intelligence gathering. I'm not aware that anyone ever accused them of intelligence gathering. In fact, the problem with them was that they cherry-picked other people's intelligence for reports that the professional analysts had already seen and discounted. By allowing Feith to defend himself from a charge no one is making, the article becomes complicit in a cover-up.

These people are sick! (As if you didn't know that): Rumsfeld Kept 9-11 Souvenir. A top FBI official also got his souvenir!

The Justice Department investigation that criticized FBI agents for taking souvenirs from the World Trade Center site also found that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and a high-ranking FBI official kept items from the Sept. 11 attack scenes.

A commission of enquiry has been set up to investigate to investigate the Project for the New American Century and their role in the Iraq war: Brussells Tribunal: Questioning the New Imperial World Order A Hearing on the Project for the New American Century ( PNAC). Participants include: Saul Landau, Jim Lobe, Immanuel Wallerstein, William Rivers Pitt & Scott Ritter, among many others.

The most detailed account so far by Karen Kwiatkowski of her time in the looking-glass land, the Pentagon: The New Pentagon Papers: A High-Ranking Military Officer Reveals how Defense Department Extremists Suppressed Information and Twisted the Truth to Drive the Country to War.

War is generally crafted and pursued for political reasons, but the reasons given to the Congress and to the American people for this one were inaccurate and so misleading as to be false. Moreover, they were false by design. Certainly, the neoconservatives never bothered to sell the rest of the country on the real reasons for occupation of Iraq -- more bases from which to flex U.S. muscle with Syria and Iran, and better positioning for the inevitable fall of the regional ruling sheikdoms. Maintaining OPEC on a dollar track and not a euro and fulfilling a half-baked imperial vision also played a role. These more accurate reasons for invading and occupying could have been argued on their merits -- an angry and aggressive U.S. population might indeed have supported the war and occupation for those reasons. But Americans didn't get the chance for an honest debate....
Will Americans hold U.S. policymakers accountable? Will we return to our roots as a republic, constrained and deliberate, respectful of others? My experience in the Pentagon leading up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq tells me, as Ben Franklin warned, we may have already failed. But if Americans at home are willing to fight -- tenaciously and courageously -- to preserve our republic, we might be able to keep it.

Media performance on reporting WMD slammed by new report by Susan Moeller of the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM): U.S. Media Performance on Iraq Slammed in Report. To read the report go to: Full Version or Summary.

Major U.S. newspapers failed to challenge government assertions about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, both before and after the 2003 war, according to a study by the University of Maryland released on Tuesday.

Al Franken does a USO tour to Iraq and Afghanistan: Tearaway Burkas & Tinplate Menorahs.

My wife said to me before I left, "You don't see Bill O'Reilly doing a USO Tour." "That's not fair, honey. O'Reilly has no talent."

saying one thing at home and another abroad? Crackdown overrode liberty: security chief.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said yesterday that some of the tough measures imposed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks - including racially-based checks on foreign visitors to the US - had been unfair. "America knows we cannot seek a double standard and America knows we get what we give. And so we must and will always be careful to respect people's privacy, civil liberties and reputations," Mr Ridge said here [Singapore] at the start of a regional tour.

Spreading calls to investigate prewar intelligence, this time by an Iraqi scientist: Father of Iraq's nuclear bomb program says U.N. should investigate what inspectors knew before U.S.-led war.

Afghanistan gets the Iraq treatment: American Troops are Killing and Abusing Afghans, Rights Body Says.

The US supplied WMD-potential weapons-grade Uranium to 43 countries: US gave uranium to 43 nations.

US withdraws support for democratic leaders. Reserves right to help overthrow anyone it doesn't like: US Says Aristide Exit a Lesson for Failed Leaders. Notice, this is the "moderate" State Department speaking, not the Pentagon or White House.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that even if the United States "recognized a leader had been elected," he could not rely on U.S. support against an armed revolt if America considered he had misgoverned. "We can't be called upon, expected or required to intervene every time there is violence against a failed leader," Boucher told reporters

British military chief demanded unequivocal statement the war was legal as a condition for going ahead. Five days later, he got it. Now, the UK government won't release the statement or its reasoning: War chief reveals legal crisis.

Legal approval was needed to protect everyone involved: 'It would have been difficult for our people in the field, for the families of the troops and our commanders if we had not had the reassurance that what they were about to do was legal. Their doubts - if they had doubts - would have been exacerbated by the fact that we were signatories to the ICC [International Criminal Court].'

Missing evidence mysteriously reappears after subpoena! Here is an analysis of what this evidence shows: Transcript shows early effort to discredit ambassador.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy delivered what the New York Times calls "a blistering indictment of President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq": Iraq Threat Deliberately Inflated, Kennedy Says (NYT). Here are his Prepared Remarks.

The last thing our nation needs is a sign on the desk in the Oval Office in the White House that says, "The buck doesn't stop here any more."

Will things go better with Kerry? Stephen Zunes argues: Kerry’s Foreign Policy Record Suggests Few Differences with Bush.

Former hostage Terry Waite says: US Using 'Terrorist' Methods Over Guantanamo Prisoners.

"I know what it's like to have no rights," Waite told a press conference the day before he and other representatives of the Guantanamo Human Rights Commission take their campaign to New York and then Washington. "My family know what it is like to have no information about me, even whether I am alive or dead," Waite said Friday. "There are many families around the world who are in this same position now because of Guantanamo Bay," he said....
Guantanamo "detainees have been hooded, shackled and, I understand, kept in cages which in itself amounts to mental torture," Waite said. "There are reports that they have been subjected to very severe hardship in order to extract information. "I was blindfolded, shackled, kept in solitary confinement and interrogated," he said. This "should not be happening in a civilized nation", Waite said. "I have no truck with terrorism and what happened in the United States on September 11 was a terrible tragedy. "But I firmly believe that if you are going to deal with this problem you should follow due process," he said. "Some of these people may be guilty and some of them may be innocent," he added. "None of us will know unless they follow due process...."
Waite, 64, was held from January 1987 until November 1991 -- much of the time in solitary confinement -- by a shadowy group calling itself Islamic Jihad.

Scoundrel Time! Republican congressman states a vote against Bush is like a vote for Hitler. Hoyer: Comments by Congressman Cole Are Completely Outrageous, Wrong and Should be Repudiated -- Oklahoma Member Says Vote Against Bush is Like Supporting Hitler. Here is the original newspaper article.

"If George Bush loses the election, Osama bin Laden wins the election."

An international poll finds majorities in most countries think the Iraq war increased the terror threat: International Poll: Many Think Iraq War Upped Terror Threat.

The AP polls were conducted by Ipsos, an international polling firm, in Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Spain and the United States. While a majority in each of the countries polled except the United States said the terrorism threat was greater now, fewer than one in 10 in any of the European countries said the terror threat had been decreased by the war....
The polls found that people living in all the countries except the United States have an unfavorable view of the role that President Bush plays in world affairs. Only in the United States did a majority, 57%, have a positive view of the role played by the U.S. president. Just over half in Mexico and Italy had a negative view of Bush's role. In Britain, the closest U.S. ally in the war in Iraq, and in Canada, two-thirds have a negative view.

Republican Sen. John McCain is calling for the newly created commission to investigate intelligence failures to be given subpoena powers, while Democratic Co-Chairman Sen. Chuck Robb does zilch: Seeking subpoenas: McCain and Bush clash on powers, scope of intel probe.

McCain has appeared more active than Robb, the top-ranking Democrat, in seeking wide authority. In a conversation with Bush prior to his appointment, Robb assured the president he would not support examining the administration’s use of intelligence, said a Senate source familiar with the meeting. “Robb bent over backward [to say] he did not support looking at the users,” said the source.
Bush has made it clear to Robb that he must keep his distance from Senate Democrats. Robb learned that he was to be appointed co-chairmen only a few hours before Bush made a public announcement. And Robb was warned that if he consulted with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) before the announcement, he would be stripped of his appointment, Senate sources said.

The brave New York Times has cancelled cartoons by Ted Rall, apparently under pressure by conservatives. See article about it: Rall: NYTimes.com Pulled Comic Because of Conservatives. Then check out a few of his recent cartoons for Feb. 2, 2004 & War Stories of the air National Guard (March 1, 2004).

Another potential bombshell for Bush. former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson is releasing a book in which he names who he believes the leaker of his wife's identity as a CIA agent: Wilson to Reveal Alleged Leaker of Wife's Name to Novak.

Hans Blix, no longer a diplomat, speaks directly, stating what was obvious to all who paid attention to the contorted justifications for the war: Blix: Iraq war was illegal

Mr Blix, speaking to The Independent, said the Attorney General's legal advice to the Government on the eve of war, giving cover for military action by the US and Britain, had no lawful justification. He said it would have required a second United Nations resolution explicitly authorising the use of force for the invasion of Iraq last March to have been legal....
Sir Andrew Turnbull, the Cabinet Secretary, revealed that the Government had assumed, until the eve of war in Iraq, that it needed a specific UN mandate to authorise military action....
Mr Blix said that while it was possible to argue that Iraq had breached the ceasefire by violating UN resolutions adopted since 1991, the "ownership" of the resolutions rested with the entire 15-member Security Council and not with individual states. "It's the Security Council that is party to the ceasefire, not the UK and US individually, and therefore it is the council that has ownership of the ceasefire, in my interpretation."

US still won't cooperate with UN weapons inspectors: UN Iraq Inspectors Say U.S. Has Not Cooperated.

Further lies and distortions revealed. Knight-Ridder reports that claims of a Saddam--al Qaida link were based on even worse intelligence than were the WMD claims. Further, as usual, major information that contradicted administration hype were withheld: Doubts Cast on Efforts to Link Saddam, al-Qaida.

Much of the evidence that's now available indicates that Iraq and al-Qaida had no close ties, despite repeated contacts between the two; that the terrorists who administration officials claimed were links between the two had no direct connection to either Saddam or bin Laden; and that a key meeting between an Iraqi intelligence officer and one of the leaders of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks probably never happened.
A Knight Ridder review of the Bush administration statements on Iraq's ties to terrorism and what's now known about the classified intelligence has found that administration advocates of a pre-emptive invasion frequently hyped sketchy and sometimes false information to help make their case. On two occasions, they neglected to report information that painted a less sinister picture.

David Kay says Bush administration should "come clean"! Will they? Admit WMD mistake, survey chief tells Bush.

"I was more worried that we were still sending teams out to search for things that we were increasingly convinced were not there," Mr Kay said....
"It's about confronting and coming clean with the American people. He should say we were mistaken and I am determined to find out why," he said.

The UN has concluded: Iraq had no WMD after 1994.

Another poll finds support for war declining: Poll: Americans' confidence in war effort at lowest level.

Former Republican Secretary of the Navy James Webb condemns Bush's war: Dave Zweifel: Republican stingingly rebukes Bush. Strong words from a Republican!

"Bush arguably has committed the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory. To put it bluntly, he attacked the wrong target. While he boasts of removing Saddam Hussein from power, he did far more than that. He decapitated the government of a country that was not directly threatening the United States and, in so doing, bogged down a huge percentage of our military in a region that never has known peace.
"Our military is being forced to trade away its maneuverability in the wider war against terrorism while being placed on the defensive in a single country that never will fully accept its presence.
"There is no historical precedent for taking such action when our country was not being directly threatened. The reckless course that Bush and his advisers have set will affect the economic and military energy of our nation for decades...."
"At the same time, those around Bush, many of whom came of age during Vietnam and almost none of whom served, have attempted to assassinate the character and insult the patriotism of anyone who disagrees with them. Some have impugned the culture, history and integrity of entire nations, particularly in Europe, that have been our country's great friends for generations and, in some cases, for centuries."

Seymout Hersh reports that, seeking reelection, Bush admin. cuts deal with Pakistan: Accept the nonsense that the Pakistani government knew nothing about the widespread nuclear proliferation from the country. In exchange, Pakistan allows thousands of US troops to operate in the hunt for Osama bin Laden before the november elections. Thus, Bush puts his reelection above stopping nuclear proliferation: The Deal: Why is Washington going easy on Pakistan’s nuclear black marketers?.

“Much of this has been known for decades to the American intelligence community,” Haqqani added. “Sometimes you know things and don’t want to do anything about it. Americans need to know that your government is not only downplaying this but covering it up. You go to bed with our I.S.I. They know how to suck up to you. You let us get away with everything. Why can’t you be more honest? There’s no harm in telling us the truth—‘Look, you’re an ally but a very disturbing ally.’ You have to nip some of these things in the bud.”
The former senior American intelligence official was equally blunt. He told me, “Khan was willing to sell blueprints, centrifuges, and the latest in weaponry. He was the worst nuclear-arms proliferator in the world and he’s pardoned—with not a squeak from the White House....”
The diplomat told me he believed that the United States was unwilling to publicly state the obvious: that there was no way the Pakistani government didn’t know about the transfers. He said, “Of course it looks awful, but Musharraf will be indebted to you....”
Robert Gallucci, a former United Nations weapons inspector who is now dean of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, calls A. Q. Khan “the Johnny Appleseed” of the nuclear-arms race. Gallucci, who is a consultant to the C.I.A. on proliferation issues, told me, “Bad as it is with Iran, North Korea, and Libya having nuclear-weapons material, the worst part is that they could transfer it to a non-state group. That’s the biggest concern, and the scariest thing about all this—that Pakistan could work with the worst terrorist groups on earth to build nuclear weapons. There’s nothing more important than stopping terrorist groups from getting nuclear weapons. The most dangerous country for the United States now is Pakistan, and second is Iran.” Gallucci went on, “We haven’t been this vulnerable since the British burned Washington in 1814.”

In britain, there seems to be some respect for international law. Many lawsuits are expected to argue the invasion of Iraq was illegal: Doubts on case for conflict may bring flood of claims: Pressure grows to publish advice to Blair in full .

Further evidence emerged yesterday of the deep unease in senior government circles about the legality of the war. The Guardian has learned that on the eve of war senior lawyers in the Foreign Office believed an invasion of Iraq was illegal because of fresh intelligence that Saddam Hussein's banned weapons programme did not pose anything like an imminent threat to Britain.... The fresh intelligence which gave rise to doubts in the Foreign Office, shown to Tony Blair in the weeks before the war, painted a much less dramatic picture than the government's disputed weapons dossier published the previous September.
Occupation Resistance Analysis

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Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis
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http://soldzresearch.com/stephensoldz


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