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"The power of accurate observation is called cynicism
by those who have not got it." - G. B. Shaw


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"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." --- H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

Published on Friday, September 6, 2002 in the Times/UK

Gates of Hell Will Open If US Attacks Iraq, Say Arab States

THE United States was told last night that a war to oust President Saddam Hussein would "open the gates of Hell" in the Middle East.




Max Blumenthal: Feeling the Hate In Jerusalem on Eve of Obama's Cairo Address Max Blumenthal writes: On the eve of President Barack Obamas address to the Muslim world from Cairo, Egypt, I stepped out onto the streets of Jerusalem with my friend Joseph Dana to interview young Israelis and American Jews about their reaction to the speech. We encountered rowdy groups of beer sodden twenty-somethings, many from the United States, and all eager to vent their visceral, even violent hatred of Barack Obama and his policies towards Israel. Usually I offer a brief commentary on my video reports, but this one requires no comment at all. Quite simply, it contains some of the most shocking footage I have ever filmed. Watch it and see if you agree.

(Warning: this video contains profanity and material offensive to just about anyone.)

Joseph Dana, one of the co-creators of the video above, has written the following to explain why he and Max Blumenthal made the video, and what he thinks it shows:

As a resident of Jerusalem, I can say that the people represented in this video are not members of a fringe group or simply drunk college kids. These people reflect the sentiments shared by many people in this country and this city. These people and their families are the core of the opposition to meaningful peace between Israel and her neighbors. This is what Obama is up against.


PHOTO: Iraqi Shiites protest in central Baghdad. Thousands of Shiite followers of the firebrand anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gathered in Baghdad to protest a security accord that would allow US troops to remain in Iraq until 2011. (AFP/Ali al-Saadi)

Thousands of Iraqis protest Iraq-US military pact

by Sammy Ketz
Nov.21, 2008

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Thousands of Shiite followers of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gathered in Baghdad Friday to protest a security accord that would allow US troops to remain in Iraq until 2011.

The crowds swarmed into central Baghdad's Firdoos Square, where a large statue of executed dictator Saddam Hussein was torn down by US troops a few weeks after the March 2003 invasion that toppled him.

The protestors hung an effigy of US President George W. Bush carrying a suitcase labelled "security agreement" from the abstract statue that now stands in the center of the square.

A sign pinned to the effigy reflected the mood of the protestors, "The security agreement is shameful and humiliating."

"If they don't leave the country I am going to be with you to make them leave in a way that suits you, as long as it doesn't go against the religion. And if they leave I will be with you to protect the Iraqi people," Sadr said in the statement.

The Sadrists had called on both Sunnis and Shiites to attend the demonstration and Sunni imam Quteiba al-Nadawi led the crowd in chants of "Yes, yes to unity... Yes, yes to Iraq... No to submission, No to this agreement!"


Video of U.S. Marine throwing a puppy off a cliff



Listen to the death threat:

PHOTO: U.S. soldiers detain a protester as local residents rally against the U.S. military presence in Kamaliyah neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, May 2, 2007. Hundreds attended the rally, some throwing stones on an passing American convoy. (AP Photo/Adil al-Khazali)

Sameer Hussein, a 22-year-old Sunni college student in Baghdad, said he wanted the U.S. forces to withdraw but didn't think they ever would.

"Even if they will withdraw they will leave permanent military bases in Iraq and that is something Iraqi people will reject," he said.

VideoVets: Bring Our Troops Home contains some of the most compelling stories about this war that you've ever heard. These brave men and women want to put us on a course to start bringing our troops home.

VideoVets: John Bruhns

VideoVets: Kevin Denton

VideoVets: Garret Reppenhagen

VideoVets: Brendan Duffy



Huge turnout for anti-US rally

BBC News reported that up to 1 million Shias were expected to take to the streets in Najaf.

Monday April 9, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Hundreds of thousands of supporters of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took to the streets of two Shia holy cities in Iraq today and protested against "US occupiers".

The rally was called by Mr Sadr, who said in a statement yesterday that his militia followers should redouble efforts to drive US forces out of Iraq, describing them as "your arch-enemy".

Today, clad in Iraqi flags, demonstrators marched from the city of Kufa to neighbouring Najaf, which is 100 miles south of Baghdad, shouting "we obey your call" and other slogans against the US "occupiers".

Mr Sadr commands an enormous following among Iraq's majority Shia population and has close allies in the Shia-dominated government.

As he marched, politician Nassar al-Rubaie, head of Mr Sadr's bloc in parliament, said: "The enemy that is occupying our country is now targeting the dignity of the Iraqi people ... After four years of occupation, we have hundreds of thousands of people dead and wounded."

Mr Sadr's statement yesterday called for Iraq's army and police to join him in defeating the US.

Today some Iraqi soldiers in uniform joined the crowd, which was led by at least a dozen turbaned clerics - including one Sunni.

PHOTO: Demonstrators hold Iraqi flags as they march during an anti-U.S. protest called by fiery cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Najaf, marking the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad April 9, 2007. Baghdad was under curfew on Monday on the fourth anniversary of the fall of the capital to U.S. forces. (Ali Abu Shish/Reuters)

Iraqis call for U.S. forces to leave


By Khaled Farhan

NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of people waving Iraqi flags staged a peaceful rally in the southern city of Najaf on Monday to demand the withdrawal of U.S. forces, four years to the day since Baghdad fell to invading American troops.

The protesters in Najaf were responding to a call by powerful anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who blames the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 for the country's woes and wants a timetable set for a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Waving dozens of red, white and back Iraqi flags, marchers choked the seven km-long road between Najaf and neighboring Kufa and clogged the streets leading to Sadrayn Square, the main rallying point in Najaf.

Many had come by bus and car from Baghdad and Shi'ite towns and cities in the south.

Speaking against the backdrop of an Iraqi flag, a leading member of Sadr's movement, Abdelhadi al-Mohammadawi, called on U.S. forces to leave. His speech was interrupted by the periodic chorus of "Leave, leave occupier!" and "No, no, to the occupation."

"We demand the exit of the occupier and withdrawal of the last American soldier and we also reject the existence of any kind of military bases," he said.

PHOTO: Iraqi supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr burn a US flag during an anti-US rally in the holy city of Najaf on 09 April 2007. Thousands of Iraqi Shiites burned and trampled on US flags on the fourth anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein.(AFP/Qassem Zein)

Iraqi Shiites burn US flags, chant "May America fall" and "Bush is a dog" in huge anti-US protest
by Hassan Abdul Zahra, April 9, 2007

NAJAF, Iraq (AFP) - Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Shiites burned and trampled on US flags in the holy city of Najaf on Monday at an anti-American rally called by firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on the fourth anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Large crowds of men, women and children holding Iraqi flags and anti-US banners massed in Najaf and the nearby city of Kufa to protest against what they said was an American occupation of Iraq.

At many places Iraqi and US flags were painted on the ground and being trampled by the Shiite crowd, the reporter said, adding that some Sunni religious groups were also seen participating in the rally.

The rally is seen as a show of strength for the cleric who has not been seen for more than two months, since the launch of a security crackdown in Baghdad aimed largely at reining in his militiamen accused of killing Sunni Arabs.

"No, no, to the occupation, no, no to America," hundreds of thousands of marching Iraqis, mainly men and young boys waving Iraqi flags, chanted as they marched through the southern Shi'ite holy city.

Protesters in Najaf burnt the American flag and spray painted the slogans "May America fall" and "Bush is a dog" on the ground. Thousands were marching from nearby Kufa, while others clogged roads as they came by car and bus from Baghdad and Shi'ite cities in the south.

PHOTO: Supporters of anti-US cleric Muqtada al-Sadr arrive to the holy city of Kufa, Iraq, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Sunday, April 8, 2007. al-Sadr called on his supporters to come to the holy cities of Kufa and Najaf to mark the fourth year of the US-led invasion on Monday. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Iraqis flock to Najaf for anti-U.S. protest
By Khaled Farhan

NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - Thousands of Iraqis flocked to the holy city of Najaf on Sunday for a big demonstration called by radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr against the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Sadr has urged Iraqis to protest in Najaf on Monday, the fourth anniversary of the day on which U.S. forces swept into central Baghdad in 2003. It is remembered around the world as the day a large statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in the Iraqi capital.

The Baghdad-Najaf road was packed on Sunday with hundreds of vehicles crammed with passengers waving Iraqi flags and chanting religious and anti-U.S. slogans.

"No, no, no to America ... Moqtada, yes, yes, yes," they chanted as they converged towards Najaf.

Protesters in the southern town of Samawa clashed with Iraqi police on Sunday after they were stopped from getting to Najaf. One protester stabbed a policeman and police retaliated by firing shots in the air to disperse the crowd, witnesses said.

Monday's protest is expected to attract tens of thousands of Iraqis angry at the violence that grips their country, four years after U.S. forces ousted Saddam. Demonstrations will begin at a mosque in nearby Kufa, then move to Najaf.

"Our feeling is like the feeling of any Iraqi who calls for sovereignty and freedom," said 27-year-old Baghdad resident Abbas Kadhem, an electricity store owner who arrived in Najaf.

"We are answering the call of Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr to spread freedom and to demand that the occupation forces leave."

al Sadr calls for attacks on U.S. troops
By SAAD ABDUL KADIR, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD - The Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged Iraqi forces to stop cooperating with the United States and told his guerrilla fighters to concentrate their attacks on American troops rather than Iraqis, according to a statement issued Sunday.

The statement, stamped with al-Sadr's official seal, was distributed in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Sunday � a day before a large demonstration there, called for by al-Sadr, to mark the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.

"You, the Iraqi army and police forces, don't walk alongside the occupiers, because they are your archenemy," the statement said. Its authenticity could not be verified.

In the statement, al-Sadr � who commands an enormous following among Iraq's majority Shiites and has close allies in the Shiite-dominated government � also encouraged his followers to attack only American forces, not fellow Iraqis.

"God has ordered you to be patient in front of your enemy, and unify your efforts against them � not against the sons of Iraq," the statement said, in an apparent reference to clashes between al-Sadr's Mahdi Army fighters and Iraqi troops in Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad. "You have to protect and build Iraq."

The U.S. military on Sunday announced the deaths of four American soldiers, killed a day earlier in an explosion near their vehicle in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad. The province has seen a spike in attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces since the start of a plan two months ago to pacify the capital. Officials believe militants have streamed out of Baghdad to invigorate the insurgency in areas just outside the city.

PHOTO: Iraqis hold a British soldier's helmet and pieces of a British military Warrior fighting vehicle as they cheer after a road side bomb on British patrol in Basra, Iraq, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Thursday, April 5, 2007.


Ten British, US troops killed in Iraq
by Jennie Matthew

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Six American and four British soldiers were killed in separate attacks in Iraq, coalition forces announced on Thursday, as Britain prepared to transfer security of another province to local troops.

Amid one of the bloodiest recent 24-hour periods for foreign troops in Iraq, the US military was also investigating reports that a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down south of Baghdad in a notorious Sunni insurgent stronghold.

The four British soldiers, together with a civilian translator travelling in the same vehicle, were killed outside the southern city of Basra in a complex roadside bomb, small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenade attack.


U.S. soldier complaining that he can't shoot Iraqi children.


U.S. Tank crushes Iraqi civilian's car



Israeli girls write messages on shells ready to be fired towards Lebanon. Photo: Agence France-Presse



Top US general says Rumsfeld is inspired by God
Thursday Oct 19, 2006

MIAMI (AFP) - The top US general defended the leadership of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying it is inspired by God.

"He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country," said Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Iraqi Shiites chant 'Death to Israel', "Death to America"
By MURTADA FARAJ, Associated Press Writer
August 4, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Hundreds of thousands of Shiites chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" marched through the streets of Baghdad's biggest Shiite district Friday in a massive show of support for Hezbollah in its battle against Israel.

The demonstration was the biggest in the Middle East in support of Hezbollah since Israel launched its attacks against the guerrillas in Lebanon on July 12. The protest was organized by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose political movement built around the Mahdi Army militia has been modeled after Hezbollah.

Al-Sadr summoned followers from throughout the Shiite heartland of southern Iraq to converge on Baghdad for the rally but he himself did not attend.

Demonstrators, wearing white shrouds symbolizing willingness to die for Hezbollah, waved the guerrillas' yellow banner and chanted slogans in support of their leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, which has attained a cult status in the Arab world for its defiance of Israeli military power.

"Allah, Allah, give victory to Hassan Nasrallah," the crowd chanted.

"Mahdi Army and Hezbollah are one, let them confront us if they dare," the predominantly male crowd shouted, waving the flags of Hezbollah, Lebanon and Iraq. Many walked with umbrellas in the searing afternoon sun. Volunteers sprayed them with water.

"I am wearing the shroud and I am ready to meet martyrdom," said Mohammed Khalaf, 35, owner of a clothes shop in the southern city of Amarah.

Al-Sadr followers painted U.S. and Israeli flags on the main road leading to the rally site, and demonstrators stepped on them - a gesture of contempt in Iraq. Alongside the painted flags was written: "These are the terrorists."

Protesters set fire to American and Israeli flags, as well as effigies of President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, showing the men with Dracula teeth. "Saddam and Bush, Two Faces of One Coin" was scrawled on Bush's effigy.

Crowds stand around and watch as others throw stones and Molotov cocktails on a british tank as it arrived on the scene where a British military helicopter crashed in Basra, Iraq Saturday May 6, 2006 in this image from TV. (AP Photo/TEL)

British Copter Shot Down in Basra; 4 Killed
May 6, 2006
By BUSHRA JUHI, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A British military helicopter crashed in Basra on Saturday, and Iraqis hurled stones at British troops and set fire to at least one armored vehicle that rushed to the scene. Clashes broke out between British troops and Shiite militias, police and witnesses said.

Police Capt. Mushtaq Khazim said the helicopter was apparently shot down in a residential district the city. He said the four-member crew was killed, but British officials would say only that there were "casualties."

British forces backed by armored vehicles rushed to the area but were met by a hail of stones from the crowd of at least 250 people, who jumped for joy and raised their fists as a plume of thick smoke rose into the air from the crash site.

The crowd also set at least one British armored vehicle on fire, apparently with a rocket-propelled grenade. Shooting broke out between the British and armed militiamen, and at least two people, including a child, were killed, Khazim said.

Crowds chanted "we are all soldiers of al-Sayed," a reference to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an ardent foe of the presence of foreign troops in Iraq.

The chaotic scene was widely shown on Iraqi state television and on the Al-Jazeera satellite station.

Three British military vehicles set on fire by angry Iraqis
May 6, 2006

BASRA, Iraq (AFP) - Two British military tanks and a Land Rover have been set on fire by angry Iraqis as troops came to recover the crew of a British helicopter that crashed in the southern city of Basra, an AFP correspondent reported.

Gunfire broke out between armed Iraqi civilians and British troops and a mob fired rockets at the military vehicles, he said Saturday.

Three vehicles were hit, one soldier was wounded by a shrapnel and an AFP photographer at the site was also hit in the leg by a rubber-coated bullet, he said.

A British military spokesman confirmed the clashes.


The Arab League warning has come true.

US "News" media propagandists have been proven wrong:

"Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints."
(Fox News Channel's Tony Snow, 4/27/03) - UPDATE: Tony Snow is now White House press secretary, do you think he can be trusted to tell the truth??

"The only people who think this wasn't a victory are Upper Westside liberals, and a few people here in Washington."
(Charles Krauthammer, Inside Washington, WUSA-TV, 4/19/03)

"We're all neo-cons now." (MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)

"I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week. Are you willing to take that wager?"
(Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 1/29/03)

"The majority of the American media who were in a position to comment upon the progress of the war in the early going, and even after that, got it wrong," Hume complained in the April 2003 speech (Richmond Times Dispatch, 4/25/04). "They didn't get it just a little wrong. They got it completely wrong."

"The war was the hard part. The hard part was putting together a coalition, getting 300,000 troops over there and all their equipment and winning. And it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but it is not as hard as winning a war."
(Fox News Channel's Fred Barnes, 4/10/03)

"He looked like an alternatively commander in chief, rock star, movie star, and one of the guys."
(CNN's Lou Dobbs, on Bush's 'Mission Accomplished' speech, 5/1/03)

"What's he going to talk about a year from now, the fact that the war went too well and it's over? I mean, don't these things sort of lose their--Isn't there a fresh date on some of these debate points?"
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, speaking about Howard Dean--4/9/03)

"It is amazing how thorough the victory in Iraq really was in the broadest context..... And the silence, I think, is that it's clear that nobody can do anything about it. There isn't anybody who can stop him. The Democrats can't oppose--cannot oppose him politically."
(Washington Post reporter Jeff Birnbaum-- Fox News Channel, 5/2/03)

"Now that the war in Iraq is all but over, should the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?"
(Fox News Channel's Alan Colmes, 4/25/03)

"I doubt that the journalists at the New York Times and NPR or at ABC or at CNN are going to ever admit just how wrong their negative pronouncements were over the past four weeks."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 4/9/03)

"I'm waiting to hear the words 'I was wrong' from some of the world's most elite journalists, politicians and Hollywood types.... I just wonder, who's going to be the first elitist to show the character to say: 'Hey, America, guess what? I was wrong'? Maybe the White House will get an apology, first, from the New York Times' Maureen Dowd. Now, Ms. Dowd mocked the morality of this war.... "Do you all remember Scott Ritter, you know, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector who played chief stooge for Saddam Hussein? Well, Mr. Ritter actually told a French radio network that -- quote, "The United States is going to leave Baghdad with its tail between its legs, defeated." Sorry, Scott. I think you've been chasing the wrong tail, again "Maybe disgraced commentators and politicians alike, like Daschle, Jimmy Carter, Dennis Kucinich, and all those others, will step forward tonight and show the content of their character by simply admitting what we know already: that their wartime predictions were arrogant, they were misguided and they were dead wrong. Maybe, just maybe, these self-anointed critics will learn from their mistakes. But I doubt it. After all, we don't call them 'elitists' for nothing."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 4/10/03)

"Over the next couple of weeks when we find the chemical weapons this guy was amassing, the fact that this war was attacked by the left and so the right was so vindicated, I think, really means that the left is going to have to hang its head for three or four more years."
(Fox News Channel's Dick Morris, 4/9/03)

"This has been a tough war for commentators on the American left. To hope for defeat meant cheering for Saddam Hussein. To hope for victory meant cheering for President Bush. The toppling of Mr. Hussein, or at least a statue of him, has made their arguments even harder to defend. Liberal writers for ideologically driven magazines like The Nation and for less overtly political ones like The New Yorker did not predict a defeat, but the terrible consequences many warned of have not happened. Now liberal commentators must address the victory at hand and confront an ascendant conservative juggernaut that asserts United States might can set the world right."
(New York Times reporter David Carr, 4/16/03)

"Well, the hot story of the week is victory.... The Tommy Franks-Don Rumsfeld battle plan, war plan, worked brilliantly, a three-week war with mercifully few American deaths or Iraqi civilian deaths.... There is a lot of work yet to do, but all the naysayers have been humiliated so far.... The final word on this is, hooray."
(Fox News Channel's Morton Kondracke, 4/12/03)

"Shouldn't the [Canadian] prime minister and all of us who thought the war was hasty and dangerous and wrongheaded admit that we were wrong? I mean, with the pictures of those Iraqis dancing in the streets, hauling down statues of Saddam Hussein and gushing their thanks to the Americans, isn't it clear that President Bush and Britain's Tony Blair were right all along? If we believe it's a good thing that Hussein's regime has been dismantled, aren't we hypocritical not to acknowledge Bush's superior judgment?... Why can't those of us who thought the war was a bad idea (or, at any rate, a premature one) let it go now and just join in celebrating the victory wrought by our magnificent military forces?"
(Washington Post's William Raspberry, 4/14/03)

"Some journalists, in my judgment, just can't stand success, especially a few liberal columnists and newspapers and a few Arab reporters."
(CNN's Lou Dobbs, 4/14/03)

"Sean Penn is at it again. The Hollywood star takes out a full-page ad out in the New York Times bashing George Bush. Apparently he still hasn't figured out we won the war."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 5/30/03)

"This will be no war -- there will be a fairly brief and ruthless military intervention.... The president will give an order. [The attack] will be rapid, accurate and dazzling.... It will be greeted by the majority of the Iraqi people as an emancipation. And I say, bring it on."
(Christopher Hitchens, in a 1/28/03 debate-- cited in the Observer, 3/30/03)

"I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week. Are you willing to take that wager?"
(Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 1/29/03)

"There's no way. There's absolutely no way. They may bomb for a matter of weeks, try to soften them up as they did in Afghanistan. But once the United States and Britain unleash, it's maybe hours. They're going to fold like that."
(Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 2/10/03)

"He [Saddam Hussein] actually thought that he could stop us and win the debate worldwide. But he didn't--he didn't bargain on a two- or three week war. I actually thought it would be less than two weeks." (NBC reporter Fred Francis, Chris Matthews Show, 4/13/03)

"Speaking to the U.N. Security Council last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell made so strong a case that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is in material breach of U.N. resolutions that only the duped, the dumb and the desperate could ignore it."
(Cal Thomas, syndicated column, 2/12/03)

"Chris, more than anything else, real vindication for the administration. One, credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Two, you know what? There were a lot of terrorists here, really bad guys. I saw them."
(MSNBC reporter Bob Arnot, 4/9/03)

"Even in the flush of triumph, doubts will be raised. Where are the supplies of germs and poison gas and plans for nukes to justify pre-emption? (Freed scientists will lead us to caches no inspectors could find.) What about remaining danger from Baathist torturers and war criminals forming pockets of resistance and plotting vengeance? (Their death wish is our command.)"
(New York Times' William Safire, 4/10/03)


Coming home ? disillusioned

By Christopher H. Sheppard
Special to The Seattle Times


April 12, 2006

Three years ago, I was a Marine Corps captain on the Iraqi/Kuwaiti border, participating in the invasion of Iraq. Awestruck, I heard our howitzers thunder and watched artillery rockets rise into the night sky and streak toward Iraq ? their light bathing the desert moonscape like giant arc welders.

As I watched the Iraq war begin, I completely trusted the Bush administration. I thought we were going to prove all of the left-wing antiwar protesters and dissenters wrong. I thought we were going to make America safer. Regrettably, I acknowledge that it was I who was wrong.

I believed the Bush administration when it said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. I believed its assertion that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Africa and refine it into weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear bomb. I believed its claim Iraq had vast quantities of biological and chemical agents. After years of thorough inspections, all of these claims have been disproved.

I believed the administration when it claimed there was overwhelming evidence Iraq was in cahoots with al-Qaida. In January 2004, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted that there was no concrete evidence linking Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.

I believed the administration when it grandly proclaimed we were going to bring a stable, Western-style liberal democracy to Iraq, complete with religious tolerance and the rule of law. We never had enough troops in Iraq to restore civil order and the rule of law. The Iraqi elections have produced a ruling majority of Shiite fundamentalists and marginalized the seething Sunni minority. Iraq dangerously teeters on the brink of civil war. We have emboldened Iran and destabilized the entire Middle East.

I believed the administration when it claimed the war could be done quickly and cheaply. It said the war would cost only between $50 billion and $60 billion. It said that Iraqi oil revenue would fund the country's reconstruction. I believed President Bush when he landed on the USS Lincoln and said "major combat operations have ended."

The war has cost the American taxpayers $250 billion and counting. The vast majority ? 94 percent ? of the more than 2,300 United States service members killed in Iraq have occurred since Bush's "Top Gun" proclamation. The cost in men and materiel has been far beyond what we were led to believe.

I volunteered to go back to Iraq for the fall and winter of 2004-2005. I went back out of frustration and guilt; frustration from watching Iraq unravel on the news and guilt that I wasn't there trying to stop it. Many fine Marines from my reserve battalion felt the same and volunteered to go back. I buried my mounting suspicions and mustered enough trust and faith in my civilian leadership to go back.

I returned disillusioned by what I saw. I participated in the second battle of Fallujah in November 2004. We crushed the insurgents in the city, but we only ended up scattering them throughout the province. The dumb ones stayed and died. The smart ones left town before the battle, to garner more recruits and fight another day. We were simply the little Dutch boy with our finger in the dike. In retrospect, we never had enough troops to firmly control the region; we had just enough to maintain a tenuous equilibrium.

I now know I wrongfully placed my faith and trust in a presidential administration hopelessly mired in incompetence, hubris and a lack of accountability. It planned a war based on false intelligence and unrealistic assumptions. It has strategically surrendered the condition of victory in Iraq to people who do not share our vision, values or interests. The Bush administration has proven successful at only one thing in Iraq ? painting us into a corner with no feasible exit.

I will never trust any of them again.

Christopher H. Sheppard is a former Marine captain who served two tours of duty in Iraq as a combat engineer. He currently is finishing his master's degree in mass communication and lives in Marysville.

Iraqi men hold up a helmet of the type worn by worn by coalition forces after a roadside explosion targetting a US Patrol Sunday April 2, 2006 in Ramadi, Iraq, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad. Roadside bombs targeted U.S. convoys Sunday in Ramadi west of Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul as as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw made a surprise visit to press Iraqi politicians to speed up the formation of the government.(AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Chopper lost in Iraq, pilots feared dead
April 2, 2006

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A U.S. military helicopter lost south of Baghdad on Saturday is believed to have been shot down and its two pilots are feared dead, the U.S. military said on Sunday.

In an Internet posting, a group calling itself the Rashedeen Army said it had shot down a U.S. helicopter near the town of Yusufiya, an area that sees considerable Sunni insurgent activity just southwest of the capital.

Delta Force founder: Bush may have started World War III

RAW STORY Friday March 24, 2006

A founding member of the elite counter-terrorist unit, Delta Force, suggested that President Bush's invasion of Iraq may have started World War III, according to an interview set for Saturday's Los Angeles Daily News, RAW STORY has learned.

Retired Command Sergeant Major Eric Haney's book "Inside Delta Force" became the basis for the CBS drama "The Unit," where he now assumes technical adviser and executive producer duties.

Excerpts from the forthcoming article written by David Kronke:

Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?

A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.

We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.

Q: What do you make of the torture debate? Cheney ...

A: (Interrupting) That's Cheney's pursuit. The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it. It's about vengeance, it's about revenge, or it's about cover-up. You don't gain intelligence that way. Everyone in the world knows that.

British soldier quits army, accuses US troops of illegal tactics in Iraq

Sun Mar 12,2006

LONDON (AFP) - An elite British soldier reveals that he quit the army after refusing to fight in Iraq anymore on moral grounds because of the "illegal" tactics used by US troops on the ground.

Ben Griffin, a member of the Special Air Service (SAS) described in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph the experiences that led him to end his impressive army career after just three months in Baghdad.

"I saw a lot of things in Baghdad that were illegal or just wrong," Griffin told the weekly newspaper in his first interview since leaving the SAS.

"I knew, so others must have known, that this was not the way to conduct operations if you wanted to win the hearts and minds of the local population.

"And if you can't win the hearts and minds of the people, you can't win the war."

"We would radio back to our headquarters that we were not going to detain certain people because, as far as we were concerned, they were not a threat because they were old men or obviously farmers, but the Americans would say: 'No, bring them back'," Griffin said.

"The Americans had this catch-all approach to lifting suspects. The tactics were draconian and completely ineffective." The SAS soldier spoke of another operation which netted a group of innocent civilians who were clearly nothing to do with the insurgency.

"I couldn't understand why we had done this, so I said to my troop commander: 'Would we have behaved in the same way in the Balkans or Northern Ireland?' He shrugged his shoulders and said: 'This is Iraq', and I thought: 'And that makes it all right?'"

Griffin said he believed US soldiers had no respect for Iraqis, whom they regarded as "sub-human".

Dave Zweifel: Another Iraq story gets debunked

By Dave Zweifel

In November 2001, just two months after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, two high-profile U.S. journalists Chris Hedges of the New York Times and Christopher Buchanan of PBS' "Frontline" were ushered to a meeting in a Beirut hotel with a man identified as Jamal al-Ghurairy, an Iraqi lieutenant general who had fled Saddam Hussein.

The high-ranking Iraqi military officer claimed he had witnessed terrorist training camps in Iraq where Islamic militants learned how to hijack airplanes. About 40 foreign nationals were based there at any given time, he said.

"We were training these people to attack installations important to the United States," he told the journalists at the meeting arranged by the Iraqi National Congress.

Reporter Hedges and producer Buchanan found Ghurairy to be very convincing, worried for his life and very insistent that his face couldn't be shown on camera. He was accompanied by a well-organized entourage.

A story appeared a couple of days later on the front page of the Times and then "Frontline" followed with a report on public television. The stories generated numerous editorials and op-ed pieces and, of course, became the topic of the week on cable talk shows.

Now, the liberal investigative magazine Mother Jones has exposed the "general" as a fake.

"The story of Saddam training foreign fighters to hijack airplanes was instrumental in building the case to invade Iraq," a detailed report in the March-April issue says. "But it turns out that the Iraqi general who told the story to the New York Times and 'Frontline' was a complete fake a low-ranking former soldier whom Ahmed Chalabi's aides had coached to deceive the media."

The Mother Jones investigator, Jack Fairweather, was even able to track down a Lt. Gen. Ghurairy in Iraq. He interviewed him in Fallujah and this Ghurairy said he had never left Iraq, nor had he ever spoken to the U.S. journalists.

According to the magazine, the Ghurairy tale was one of 108 stories the Iraqi National Congress and Chalabi, who was exiled from Iraq, planted in the American and British media between October 2001 and May 2002. Chalabi is the figure on whom the Bush administration relied for much of the Iraqi intelligence about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's supposed connection with the 9/11 terrorists.

After the war started, the Bush neocons had a falling out with Chalabi, discovering that much of the information he had provided was fabricated. They also accused him of spying on the U.S. for neighboring Iran. He has had a resurgence in Iraq, though, and is now the deputy prime minister in the new U.S.-sponsored government and apparently back in favor with the Bush people.

He obviously had a major role in helping sell the war to the American people. Thanks to the deceptions, which a compliant American press didn't uncover, some 69 percent of the American public believed that Saddam had a role in the 9/11 attacks.

Just how hookwinked Americans were is underscored by this Mother Jones expose.

Dave Zweifel is editor of The Capital Times.

Iraq pushes Bush support to all time low

Julian Borger in Washington and Michael Howard in Irbil
Wednesday March 1, 2006
The Guardian

Profound pessimism about the Iraq war has pushed George Bush's popularity to an all-time low of 34%, as polls yesterday showed American civilians and soldiers at odds with the White House over US objectives and strategy.

Public opinion is sceptical that this is the right policy. A poll published by CBS News yesterday, found only 36% of Americans said the war is going well, and 30% thought Mr Bush was doing a good job of handling the conflict. Even fewer believed the results of the war were worth the cost. Those concerns have dragged Mr Bush's overall approval ratings down to levels comparable with Richard Nixon's at a similar point in his second term. Now, only 34% of the country approves of the way Mr Bush is handling his job and only 29% has a favourable view of him as a person.

It is clear that if it were up to the troops, the US would be out of Iraq by the end of the year. In a poll of troops in Iraqi bases, conducted by Zogby International, 72% said the US should withdraw in 2006; more than a third of those said the troops should leave immediately. Just over one in five agreed with the president that they should stay in Iraq "as long as needed". Another striking element of the poll was the opinion of US soldiers over why they were there.

Only a quarter thought their role was establishing a democracy "that can be a model for the Arab world".

Nearly 86% said it was "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9/11 attacks", a role proved to have been non-existent.

Study: Flood of Iraq Vets Seeks Mental-Health Care
by Joseph Shapiro

All Things Considered, February 28, 2006 ? A new study shows that 35 percent of troops returning from Iraq are seeking help for mental-health issues. Most of the problems are easily treatable, but more than one in 10 soldiers are diagnosed with a serious mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or depression.

The Soldiers Speak. Will President Bush Listen?
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, New York Times, Feb. 27, 2006

When President Bush held a public meeting with troops by satellite last fall, they were miraculously upbeat. And all along, unrepentant hawks (most of whom have never been to Iraq) have insisted that journalists are misreporting Iraq and that most soldiers are gung-ho about their mission.

Hogwash! A new poll to be released today shows that U.S. Soldiers overwhelmingly want out of Iraq ? and soon.

The poll is the first of U.S. Troops currently serving in Iraq, according to John Zogby, the pollster. Conducted by Zogby International and LeMoyne College, it asked 944 service members, "How long should U.S. Troops stay in Iraq?"

Only 23 percent backed Mr. Bush's position that they should stay as long as necessary. In contrast, 72 percent said that U.S. Troops should be pulled out within one year. Of those, 29 percent said they should withdraw "immediately."

That's one more bit of evidence that our grim stay-the-course policy in Iraq has failed. Even the American troops on the ground don't buy into it ? and having administration officials pontificate from the safety of Washington about the need for ordinary soldiers to stay the course further erodes military morale.

While the White House emphasizes the threat from non-Iraqi terrorists, only 26 percent of the U.S. Troops say that the insurgency would end if those foreign fighters could be kept out. A plurality believes that the insurgency is made up overwhelmingly of discontented Iraqi Sunnis.

So what would it take to win in Iraq? Maybe that was the single most depressing finding in this poll.

By a two-to-one ratio, the troops said that "to control the insurgency we need to double the level of ground troops and bombing missions." And since there is zero chance of that happening, a majority of troops seemed to be saying that they believe this war to be unwinnable.

It Didn?t Work


William F. Buckley, National Review

"I can tell you the main reason behind all our woes ? it is America." The New York Times reporter is quoting the complaint of a clothing merchant in a Sunni stronghold in Iraq. "Everything that is going on between Sunni and Shiites, the troublemaker in the middle is America."

One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. The same edition of the paper quotes a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Reuel Marc Gerecht backed the American intervention. He now speaks of the bombing of the especially sacred Shiite mosque in Samara and what that has precipitated in the way of revenge. He concludes that ?The bombing has completely demolished? what was being attempted ? to bring Sunnis into the defense and interior ministries.

Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.

The Iraqis we hear about are first indignant, and then infuriated, that Americans aren't on the scene to protect them and to punish the aggressors. And so they join the clothing merchant who says that everything is the fault of the Americans.

The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, elucidates on the complaint against Americans. It is not only that the invaders are American, it is that they are "Zionists." It would not be surprising to learn from an anonymously cited American soldier that he can understand why Saddam Hussein was needed to keep the Sunnis and the Shiites from each others' throats.

A problem for American policymakers ? for President Bush, ultimately ? is to cope with the postulates and decide how to proceed.

One of these postulates, from the beginning, was that the Iraqi people, whatever their tribal differences, would suspend internal divisions in order to get on with life in a political structure that guaranteed them religious freedom.

The accompanying postulate was that the invading American army would succeed in training Iraqi soldiers and policymkers to cope with insurgents bent on violence.

This last did not happen. And the administration has, now, to cope with failure. It can defend itself historically, standing by the inherent reasonableness of the postulates. After all, they govern our policies in Latin America, in Africa, and in much of Asia. The failure in Iraq does not force us to generalize that violence and antidemocratic movements always prevail. It does call on us to adjust to the question, What do we do when we see that the postulates do not prevail ? in the absence of interventionist measures (we used these against Hirohito and Hitler) which we simply are not prepared to take? It is healthier for the disillusioned American to concede that in one theater in the Mideast, the postulates didn't work. The alternative would be to abandon the postulates. To do that would be to register a kind of philosophical despair. The killer insurgents are not entitled to blow up the shrine of American idealism.

Mr. Bush has a very difficult internal problem here because to make the kind of concession that is strategically appropriate requires a mitigation of policies he has several times affirmed in high-flown pronouncements. His challenge is to persuade himself that he can submit to a historical reality without forswearing basic commitments in foreign policy.

He will certainly face the current development as military leaders are expected to do: They are called upon to acknowledge a tactical setback, but to insist on the survival of strategic policies.

Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat.

(c) 2006 Universal Press Syndicate

Iraqi Province Cuts Off U.S. Forces
Feb. 20, 2006

KARBALA, Iraq - The governing council of Karbala province said Monday it was suspending contact with U.S. forces over the behavior of soldiers during a visit to the governor's office two days ago.

The decision followed similar moves by leaders of Maysan and Basra provinces, which have frozen ties with British forces in southern Iraq.

Karbala provincial spokesman Abdel Amir Hanoun complained that U.S. soldiers brought dogs inside the building when their commander visited provincial Gov. Aqeel al-Khazraji, considered an insult by the council.

They also blocked roads leading to the governor's office, preventing council members and the governor from parking cars outside the building, Hanoun said. The governor instructed the council to suspend contacts until U.S. forces apologize, he said.

The Karbala council is controlled by the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country's largest Shiite party, and Dawa, the party of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

On Sunday, Maysan province decided to suspend ties with British authorities pending an investigation into a recently released videotape of British soldiers beating Iraqi youths during a January 2004 riot there. .

The Maysan council also called for the release of all the province's detainees held by coalition authorities.

The governing council for Basra province, headquarters of Britain's more than 8,000-member military contingent in Iraq, also cut ties with the British military and civilian operations over the video.

Mon, Jan. 30, 2006

Nearly half of Iraqis support attacks on U.S. troops, poll finds

BY DREW BROWN
Knight Ridder Newspapers

A new poll found that nearly half of Iraqis approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces, and most favor setting a timetable for American troops to leave.

The poll also found that 80 percent of Iraqis think the United States plans to maintain permanent bases in the country even if the newly elected Iraqi government asks American forces to leave. Researchers found a link between support for attacks and the belief among Iraqis that the United States intends to keep a permanent military presence in the country.

At the same time, the poll found that many Iraqis think that some outside military forces are required to keep Iraq stable until the new government can field adequate security forces on its own. Only 39 percent of Iraqis surveyed thought that Iraqi police and army forces were strong enough to deal with the security challenges on their own, while 59 percent thought Iraq still needed the help of military forces from other countries.

Seventy percent of Iraqis favor setting a timetable for U.S. forces to withdraw, with half of those favoring a withdrawal within six months and the other half favoring a withdrawal over two years.

"Iraqis are demanding a timetable for U.S. withdrawal, and most believe that the U.S. has no plans to leave even if the new government asks them to," said Steven Kull, the director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, which conducted the poll. "This appears to be leading some to even support attacks on U.S.-led troops, even though many feel they also continue to need the presence of U.S. troops awhile longer."

"If you put it all together, it's clear there is a center of gravity, not towards immediate withdrawal, but for the U.S. to be there in a way that affirms their intent to withdraw eventually," he said. "There is real consensus on that point."

The poll was to be published Tuesday by WorldPublicOpinion.org, a Web site that reports on public opinion from around the globe. The survey was conducted Jan. 2-5, with a nationwide sample of 1,150 Iraqis from country's main religious and ethnic sects.

According to the poll's findings, 47 percent of Iraqis approve of attacks on American forces, but there were large differences among ethnic and religious groups. Among Sunni Muslims, 88 percent said they approved of the attacks. That approval was found among 41 percent of Shiite Muslims and 16 percent of Kurds.

Ninety-three percent of Iraqis oppose violence against Iraqi security forces, and 99 percent oppose attacks on Iraqi civilians.

"They're pretty much the same results that have been going on since 2003, so it's consistent with a lot of the attitudes that exist," said Anthony H. Cordesman, a former Pentagon official and a longtime Iraq watcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a center for national-security studies in Washington. "We're not seen as liberators by the Sunnis, but what else is new?"

Previous samples from Shiites who supported attacks on coalition troops have been much lower in the past, Cordesman said, but support for U.S.-led forces even among Shiites - who were oppressed under Saddam Hussein, a Sunni - has been mixed from the beginning.

"It was clear after the invasion that about a third or more of Shiites did not see us as liberators, and did not see the war as justified, and somewhere around 15 percent supported attacks on coalition forces then," he said. "We're also seen as creating all kinds of internal problems without creating any kind of internal solutions."

U.S. officials have acknowledged in the past that the mere presence of American troops in Iraq has helped fuel the insurgency, which is dominated by Iraq's Sunni minority. U.S. officials have sent mixed signals about long-term American intentions.

During a visit with U.S. troops in Fallujah on Christmas Day, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said "at the moment there are no plans for permanent bases" in Iraq. "It is a subject that has not even been discussed with the Iraqi government," he said.

According to the poll, 80 percent of Iraqis overall assume that the United States intends to keep bases in Iraq. The breakdown of people who have that belief is 92 percent of Sunnis, 79 percent of Shiites and 67 percent of Kurds.

More than 80 percent of Sunnis favor a six-month withdrawal period; 49 percent of Shiites favor a longer withdrawal. Just 29 percent of all Iraqis surveyed say U.S. forces should be reduced only as the security situation improves, though more than half of the Kurds surveyed favor that option.

The survey will be available at www.worldpublicopinion.org

Iraq's Sadr says US spreading strife among Arabs
Feb. 6, 2006

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim leader Moqtada al-Sadr met Syrian leaders on Monday and said the United States and Israel were trying to spread strife among Arab countries.

Sadr, who led two anti-U.S. uprisings in Iraq, expressed support for Syria, which is facing western pressure over its alleged support for rebels in Iraq and the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

"Both Iraq and Syria are under U.S. pressure. We have good relations but our common enemies, Israel, the United States and Britain, are trying to spread strife among us. The people will not fall for this," he told reporters.

"I will help Syria in every way. We are witnessing Islamic solidarity," said Sadr, who met President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara.

Al-Sadr vows to defend Iran
Jan. 26, 2006

Muqtada al-Sadr, the Iraqi cleric, has said his al-Mahdi Army will help to defend Iran if it is attacked.

Speaking on Sunday on the sidelines of a meeting with Ali Larijani, the senior Iranian nuclear negotiator, he said his militia was formed to defend Islam.

"The forces of Mahdi Army defend the interests of Iraq and Islamic countries," al-Sadr said. "If neighbouring Islamic countries, including Iran, become the target of attacks, we will support them.

"The Mahdi Army is beyond the Iraqi army. It was established to defend Islam."

Al-Sadr's comments could be seen as a message that Tehran has allies who could make things difficult for US forces in the region if Iran's nuclear facilities are attacked.

Al-Sadr's backing of Iran, a Shia-majority nation, comes after a hint from Israel's defence minister that the Jewish state was preparing for military action to stop Iran's nuclear programme.

US used white phosphorus on Iraqi civilians - report
By Phil Stewart
November 8, 2005

ROME (Reuters) - U.S. forces in Iraq have used incendiary white phosphorus against civilians and a firebomb similar to napalm against military targets, Italian state-run broadcaster RAI reported on Tuesday.

A RAI documentary showed images of bodies recovered after a November 2004 offensive by U.S. troops on the town of Falluja, which it said proved the use of white phosphorus against men, women and children who were burned to the bone.

"I do know that white phosphorus was used," said Jeff Englehart in the RAI documentary, which identified him as a former soldier in the U.S. 1st Infantry Division in Iraq.

An incendiary device, white phosphorus is used by the military to conceal troop movements with smoke, mark targets or light up combat areas. The use of incendiary weapons against civilians has been banned by the Geneva Convention since 1980.

The United States did not sign the relevant protocol to the convention, a U.N. official in New York said.

Some Western newspapers reported at the time that white phosporus had been used during the offensive.

In the documentary called "Falluja: The Hidden Massacre," RAI also said U.S. forces used the Mark 77 firebomb, a weapon similar to napalm, on military targets in Iraq in 2003. It cited a letter it said came from British Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram, claiming 30 MK 77 weapons were used on military targets in Iraq between March 31 and April 2, 2003.

RAI posted a copy of the document.

RAI posted the full report, including television images.

UK Ministry of Defence poll: Iraqis support attacks on British troops
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 23/10/2005)

Millions of Iraqis believe that suicide attacks against British troops are justified, a secret military poll commissioned by senior officers has revealed.

The poll, undertaken for the Ministry of Defence and seen by The Sunday Telegraph, shows that up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks and fewer than one per cent think Allied military involvement is helping to improve security in their country.

It demonstrates for the first time the true strength of anti-Western feeling in Iraq after more than two and a half years of bloody occupation.

The nationwide survey also suggests that the coalition has lost the battle to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, which Tony Blair and George W Bush believed was fundamental to creating a safe and secure country.

These are the major findings from the secret MoD poll as published in The Daily Telegraph:

? Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province;

? 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops;

? less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;

? 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;

? 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;

? 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.



Iraqis shout anti-British and anti-American slogans while holding pictures of Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr after Friday prayers in Basra, Iraq, Friday Sept. 23 2005. Rioting broke out in Basra on Monday after British armored vehicles and troops encircled a jail where two British soldiers were taken after their arrest by Iraqi police. Basra authorities accused the British of violating Iraqi sovereignty, and the provincial governor ordered all Iraqis to stop cooperating with the British. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

Judge Renews Warrant for British Soldiers
By ABBAS FAYADH, Associated Press Writer
Spet. 24, 2005

BASRA, Iraq - An Iraqi judge said on Saturday he had renewed arrest warrants for two British soldiers who were rescued from jail early this week by troops using armor to crash through the prison walls.

The violence infuriated local Iraqi police and government officials, and tensions remained high in Basra on Saturday. Rockets were fired at two buildings housing British officials, police said.

Judge Raghib al-Mudhafar, chief of the Basra Anti-Terrorism Court, said Saturday that he reissued homicide arrest warrants for the two soldiers on Thursday.

But the British government said its troops are not legally bound by the warrants.

In Basra early Saturday morning, several rockets were fired at the British and American consulates in the city, but both fell in a nearby field, hurting no one, said police Capt. Mushtaq Khazim. Also, three rockets were fired at the Shat al-Arab hotel, the headquarters of the British army in Basra, he said. One rocket hit the building, without causing casualties.

Time Magazine Web Exclusive 

 
Friday 23 Sept. 2005
By ADAM ZAGORIN Web Exclusive 

Pattern of Abuse

EXCLUSIVE : A decorated Army officer reveals new allegations of detainee mistreatment in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
Did the military ignore his charges ?
 
The US Army has launched a criminal investigation into new allegations of serious prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan made by a decorated former Captain in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, an Army spokesman has confirmed to TIME.
 
The claims of the Captain, who has not been named, are in part corroborated by statements of two sergeants who served with him in the 82nd Airborne; the allegations form the basis of a report from Human Rights Watch obtained by TIME and due to be released in the next few days (Since this story first went online, the organization has decided to put out its report; it can be found here :
http://hrw.org/reports/2005/us0905 )
 
Senate sources tell TIME that the Captain has also reported his charges to three senior Republican senators: Majority Leader Bill Frist, Armed Services Committee chairman John Warner and John McCain, a former torture victim in Vietnam. A Senate Republican staffer familiar with both the Captain and his allegations told TIME he appeared "extremely credible."

The new allegations center around systematic abuse of Iraqi detainees by men of the 82nd Airborne at Camp Mercury, a forward operating base located near Fallujah, the scene of a major uprising against the US occupation in April 2004, according to sources familiar with the report and accounts given by the Captain, who is in his mid-20s, to Senate staff. Much of the abuse allegedly occurred in 2003 and 2004, before and during the period the Army was conducting an internal investigation into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, but prior to when the abuses at Abu Ghraib became public. Other alleged abuses described in the Human Rights report occurred at Camp Tiger, near Iraq's border with Syria, and previously in Afghanistan. In addition, the report details what the Captain says was his unsuccessful effort over 17 months to get the attention of military superiors. Ultimately he approached the Republican senators.

The Human Rights Watch report?as well as accounts given to Senate staff?describe officers as aware of the abuse but routinely ignoring or covering it up, amid chronic confusion over US military detention policies and whether or not the Geneva Convention applied. The Captain is quoted in the report describing how military intelligence personnel at Camp Mercury directed enlisted men to conduct daily beatings of prisoners prior to questioning; to subject detainees to strenuous forced exercises to the point of unconsciousness; and to expose them to extremes of heat and cold?all methods designed to produce greater cooperation with interrogators. Non-uniformed personnel?apparently working for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to the soldiers?also interrogated prisoners. The interrogators were out of view but not out of earshot of the soldiers, who overheard what they came to believe was abuse.

Specific instances of abuse described in the Human Rights Watch report include severe beatings, including one incident when a soldier allegedly broke a detainee's leg with a metal bat. Others include prisoners being stacked in human pyramids (unlike the human pyramids at Abu Ghraib, the prisoners at Camp Mercury were clothed); soldiers administering blows to the face, chest and extremities of prisoners; and detainees having their faces and eyes exposed to burning chemicals, being forced into stress positions for long periods leading to unconsciousness and having their water and food withheld.

Prisoners were designated as PUCs (pronounced "pucks")?or "persons under control." A regular pastime at Camp Mercury, the report says, involved off-duty soldiers gathering at PUC tents, where prisoners were held, and working off their frustrations in activities known as "F____a PUC" (beating the prisoner) and "Smoke a PUC" (forced physical exertion, sometimes to the point of collapse). Broken limbs and similar painful injuries would be treated with analgesics, the soldiers claim, as medical staff would fill out paperwork stating the injuries occurred during capture. Support for some of the allegations of abuse come from a sergeant of the 82nd Airborne who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Human Rights Watch quotes him as saying that, "To 'F____ a PUC' means to beat him up. We would give them blows to the head, chest, legs, and stomach, pull them down, kick dirt on them. This happened every day. To 'smoke' someone is to put them in stress positions until they get muscle fatigue and pass out. That happened every day. Some days we would just get bored so we would have everyone sit in a corner and then make them get in a pyramid. This was before Abu Ghraib but just like it. We did that for amusement."

"On their day off people would show up all the time," the sergeant continues in the HRW report. "Everyone in camp knew if you wanted to work out your frustration you show up at the PUC tent. In a way it was sport. The cooks were all US soldiers. One day a sergeant shows up and tells a PUC to grab a pole. He told him to bend over and broke the guy's leg with a mini Louisville Slugger that was a metal bat. He was the cook."

AP - Fri May 20, 2005 Iraqis walk over U.S. and Israeli flags, in the Sadr City area of Baghdad Friday, May 20, 2005. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on people to paint Israeli and American flags on the ground in front of mosques so people step on them in protest of raids against holy places and an allegation, that has since been retracted, of the desecration of a Quran in Guantanamo Bay. Writing in English on left reads ' No No No USA'. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Clashes Break Out Over U.S. Occupation
By ABDUL HUSSEIN AL-OBEIDI, Associated Press Writer

NAJAF, Iraq - Thousands of Shiites, many waving Islam's holy book over their heads, protested the U.S.-led occupation in Iraq on Friday, setting off clashes in at least one southern city as they answered a call by a radical cleric to paint Israeli and American flags on the ground and stomp on them.

Sunni Muslim clerics also delivered fiery sermons in Baghdad and in cities like Ramadi, capital of the volatile Sunni Triangle in western Iraq, where more than 3,000 people protested.

In a separate action, Sunni Muslims began shutting down their mosques to complain about their alleged mistreatment at the hands of the country's majority Shiites ? who they have blamed for kidnapping and killing several of their clerics.

The U.S. military also launched what it said would be an aggressive investigation to discover how pictures of an underwear clad Saddam Hussein wound up on the front page of a British tabloid.

The pictures, the military said, violated military guidelines and possibly the Geneva convention on the humane treatment of prisoners. They are expected to further fuel anti-American sentiment among Iraqi supporters of the former dictator.

PHOTO: Shiite demonstrators burn U.S. flags as they heed a call by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to protest raids against holy places and the previously alleged desecration of a Quran in Guantanamo Bay, in Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq Friday, May 20, 2005. (AP Photo/Mohammed Hato)

The protests in Najaf, Nasiriyah and Kufa, came as Iraq's Shiite prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, announced that he will visit Syria, which has been blamed for harboring insurgents bent on starting a civil war in Iraq.

In Baghdad, clashes also broke out in two northern neighborhoods across the Tigris River. In Kazimiyah, a suicide bombing targeting the house of Iraqi national security adviser, Mouwafak al-Rubaie, killed two civilians and wounded three, police said.

After the explosion, unknown gunmen in Azamiyah opened fire at a U.S. base in Kazimiyah on the western side of the river, witnesses said. The gunmen later fled, they added. Witnesses reported seeing U.S. Apache attack helicopters firing rockets into the neighborhood.

A U.S. soldier was killed early Friday by a roadside bomb attack near Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad, the military said. The soldier's identity was withheld pending notification of next of kin.

A roadside bomb also destroyed a U.S. military truck and wounded an unspecified number of American soldiers on a highway in southeastern Baghdad, said a military spokeswoman and police Lt. Mazin Saeed.

Bush's Baghdad: It's just pure hell. (Newsweek) "The Pentagon secretly keeps track of many grim statistics in Iraq. The numbers are not encouraging... An accidentally declassified Pentagon report about a killing on the road to Baghdad airport at the beginning of March shows quite clearly how much worse the overall situation is than the Bush administration would like us, or even its allies in the Coalition forces, to believe... 'From July 2004 to late March 2005,' says the document, 'there were 15,527 attacks against Coalition Forces throughout Iraq.' Then comes one of several paragraphs marked S//NF (secret, not for distribution to foreign nationals): 'From 1 November 2004 to 12 March 2005 there were 3306 attacks in the Baghdad area. Of these, 2400 were directed against Coalition Forces.' In a span of four and a half months, which included the election turning point, that?s not only a hell of a lot of hits in the capital city, it's just pure hell."

Anti-U.S. Protests Spread in Afghanistan and Pakistan --Anti-American violence spread across Afghanistan and into Pakistan today in the third day of demonstrations and clashes with the police. A provincial office of CARE International was ransacked and four protesters were killed in a continuation of the most widespread protests against the American presence since the fall of the Taliban regime more than three years ago.

Iraqis burn an American flag during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq Saturday, April 9, 2005. Tens of thousands called Saturday for American forces to withdraw from Iraq. The demonstration overflowed Firdos Square, where U.S Marines pulled down a towering statue of Saddam Hussein two years ago to the day.(AP Photo/Karim Kadim)















Men paraded with cardboard cut outs of Saddam, US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair with bloodied fangs and the writing 'international terrorist'.

"In our unity, you have cut off the tongues of all the people who are saying if the occupation left there would be civil war," Sadr said in his speech, delivered to the crowd by his representative Sheikh Nasir al-Saaidi.

"There will be no peace and no security until the occupation leaves."

Sunni clerics from the Committee of Muslim Scholars, which organized a boycott of historic January elections, also urged followers to join the protest.

"All of Iraq is united against the occupation," said Adnan Hamoud, 45, from the restive Sunni city of Samarra north of Baghdad.

Some Christians paraded around the square with banners reading: "We support Sayed Moqtada's call for national unity."

Iraqis urge US exit

April 9, 2005

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Tens of thousands of protestors poured into Baghdad's Firdos square to demand US troops leave the country, as 15 Iraqi soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing.

Chanting "No, no, USA," protesters converged Saturday on the square, a symbol of the ouster of former president Saddam Hussein, two years to the day since Baghdad fell to US forces.

The rally is believed to be the largest demonstration since US troops entered the country.

"Oh God, cut off their necks, the way they are cutting off our necks and terrorising us," said Sadr representative Sheikh Nasir al-Saaidi, reading a speech from his boss. "There will be no peace, no security, until the occupation leaves."

Iraqi flags fluttered in the sea of demonstrators, many of whom were dressed in black, the uniform of Sadr's Mehdi Army militia. Many wore green and black Islamic headbands.

Some waved the notorious picture of a hooded naked Iraqi detainee, with wires attached to his body. It was released during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal last year that blemished the US record in Iraq.

Demonstrators also carried signs saying "No to the occupation," "No to the devil" as they descended on the square from north, east and west.

"The war has been finished for two years. What did we get? Nothing. Our country has become the centre of terrorism," said Ali Hussein, 30, from Sadr City, who was dressed all in black. "There is no electricity, no services, no nothing."

A shopkeeper from Sadr City, Baqr Mussa, vented frustration at the continuing US presence and the failure by the Americans to execute Saddam. He was dressed in white religious robes, symbolic of martyrdom.

"We are very angry. We don't believe we've just lived two years since the war. All the buildings are still burnt and destroyed," Mussa said.

Most violent incidents in Iraq go unreported
By Patrick Cockburn in Mosul
18 April 2005

Belfast Telegraph - Ironically, one reason why Washington can persuade the outside world that its venture in Iraq is finally coming right is that it is too dangerous for reporters to travel outside Baghdad or stray far from their hotels in the capital. The threat to all foreigners was underlined last week when an American contractor was snatched by kidnappers.

When I was travelling in the northern city of Mosul this week, my guards ? Kurdish members of the Iraqi National Guard ? said it was too dangerous for them to travel with me in uniform in official vehicles. They donned Arab gowns, hid their weapons and drove through the city in a civilian car.

Most violent incidents in Iraq go unreported. We saw one suicide bomb explosion, clouds of smoke and dust erupting into the air, and heard another in the space of an hour. Neither was mentioned in official reports. Last year US soldiers told the IoS that they do not tell their superiors about attacks on them unless they suffer casualties. This avoids bureaucratic hassle and "our generals want to hear about the number of attacks going down not up". This makes the official Pentagon claim that the number of insurgent attacks is down from 140 a day in January to 40 a day this month dubious.

US casualties have fallen to about one dead a day in March compared with four a day in January and five a day in November. But this is the result of a switch in American strategy rather than a sign of a collapse in the insurgency. US military spokesmen make plain that America's military priority has changed from offensive operations to training Iraqi troops and police. More than 2,000 US military advisers are working with Iraqi forces.

With US networks largely confined to their hotels in Baghdad by fear of kidnapping, it is possible to sell the American public the idea that no news is good news. General George Casey, the top US commander in Iraq, said recently that if all goes well "we shall make fairly substantial reductions in the size of our forces". Other senior US officers say this will be of the order of four brigades, from 17 to 13, or a fall in the number of US troops in Iraq from 142,000 to 105,000 by next year.

The real change leading to the US troop reduction is probably more in the US than in Iraq. The White House finds its military commitment in Iraq politically damaging at home. The easiest way to bring the troops home is, as in Vietnam, to declare a victory and full confidence in US-trained Iraqi forces to win the war. These soldiers and police supposedly number 152,000, but it is not clear who is being counted.

The figure may include the 14,000 blue-uniformed Iraqi police in Nineveh province, the capital of which is Mosul, with a population of 2.7 million. But Khasro Goran, the deputy governor and Kurdistan Democratic Party leader in Mosul, told the IoS that the police had helped insurgents assassinate the previous governor.

Mr Goran said that when guerrillas captured almost all of Mosul on 11 November last year, the police had collaborated, abandoning 30 police stations without a fight. "They didn't fire on terrorists because they were terrorists themselves," he said. Some $40m-worth of arms and equipment was captured by the insurgents. It is a measure of how far the reality of the war in Iraq now differs from the rosy picture presented by the media that the fall of Mosul to the insurgents went almost unreported abroad because most journalists were covering the assault by the US marines on Fallujah.

Despite the elections on 30 January, the US problem in Iraq remains unchanged. It has not been defeated by the Sunni Arab guerrillas but it has not defeated them either. The US army and Iraqi armed forces control islands of territory while much of Iraq is a dangerous no-man's land.

Don't be fooled by the spin on Iraq

The US is failing - and hatred of the occupation greater than ever

Jonathan Steele
Wednesday April 13, 2005
The Guardian


Saddam Hussein's effigy was pulled down again in Baghdad's Firdos Square at the weekend. But unlike the made-for-TV event when US troops first entered the Iraqi capital, the toppling of Saddam on the occupation's second anniversary was different.

Instead of being done by US marines with a few dozen Iraqi bystanders, 300,000 Iraqis were on hand. They threw down effigies of Bush and Blair as well as the old dictator, at a rally that did not celebrate liberation but called for the immediate departure of foreign troops.

For most Iraqis, with the exception of the Kurds, Washington's "liberation" never was. Wounded national pride was greater than relief at Saddam's departure. Iraqis were soon angered by the failure to get power and water supplies repaired, the brutality of US army tactics, and the disappearance of their country's precious oil revenues into inadequately supervised accounts, or handed to foreigners under contracts that produced no benefits for Iraqis.

From last autumn's disastrous attack on Falluja to the huge increase in detention without trial, the casualties go on rising. After an amnesty last summer, the numbers of "security detainees" have gone up again and reached a record 17,000.

The weekend's vast protest shows that opposition is still growing, in spite of US and British government claims to have Iraqis' best interests at heart. It was the biggest demonstration since foreign troops invaded.

Equally significantly, the marchers were mainly Shias, who poured in from the impoverished eastern suburb known as Sadr City. The Bush-Blair spin likes to suggest that protest is confined to Sunnis, with the nod and wink that these people are disgruntled former Saddam supporters or fundamentalists linked to al-Qaida, who therefore need not be treated as legitimate. The fact that the march was largely Shia and against Saddam as much as Bush and Blair gives the lie to that.

Some Sunnis attended the march, urged to go there by the Association of Muslim Scholars, which has contacts with the armed resistance. This too was an important sign. Occupation officials consistently talk up the danger of civil war, usually as an argument for keeping troops in Iraq. It is a risk that radicals in both communities take seriously.

Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shia cleric who organised the latest march, recently joined forces with the National Foundation Congress, a group of Sunni and Shia nationalists, to affirm "the legitimate right of the Iraqi resistance to defend their country and its destiny" while "rejecting terrorism aimed at innocent Iraqis, institutions, public buildings and places of worship".

The key issue, now as it has been since 2003, is for the occupation to end quickly. Only this will reduce the resistance and give Iraqis a chance to live normally. In a new line of spin - which some commentators have taken to mean that the US is preparing for a pullout - US commanders claim the rate of insurgent attacks is down.

The figures are not independently monitored. Even if true, they may be temporary. Thirdly, they fly in the face of evidence that suggests the US is failing. Most of western Iraq is out of US control. The city of Mosul could explode at any moment. Ramadi is practically a no-go area.

In any case, the US is only talking of a possible reduction of a third of its troops next year. This will still leave 100,000. The US argues that a complete withdrawal has to be "conditions-related, not calendar-related" or, as Blair puts it, there can be no "artificial timetable". By that, they mean Iraq's security forces have to be strong enough to replace the Americans and British, a totally elastic marker.

That is surely the message that Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, is giving this week on his ninth trip to Baghdad since April 2003. Whenever there is an alleged transfer of power to Iraqis, this time to a "government" elected in a flawed poll, Rumsfeld comes with instructions.

His public warning is for Iraq's leaders not to make any changes in the army and interior ministries, or postpone the writing of a constitution. Behind the scenes, he is probably telling them not to ask for a withdrawal timetable, and sounding them out on the opposite. The US has indicated that it wants permanent bases in Iraq, just as it does in Afghanistan - which is why the joint Sadr-National Foundation Congress statement says the government "will have no right to ratify any agreement or treaty that might affect Iraq's sovereignty, the unity of its territory and the preservation of its resources".

Poland has just announced it is pulling out of Iraq at the end of the year, just as Spain did last year. Italy is wavering on the verge of a similar decision. If Blair wants to regain the trust he lost before the Iraq war, his best approach would be to announce the same by May 5. He would help Iraqis as well as himself.



How The U.S. Murdered a City 

Fallujah: The Truth at Last 

Doctor Salam Ismael took aid to Fallujah last month. This is a report of his visit.

02/17/05
- - IT WAS the smell that first hit me, a smell that is difficult to describe, and one that will never leave me. It was the smell of death. Hundreds of corpses were decomposing in the houses, gardens and streets of Fallujah. Bodies were rotting where they had fallen-bodies of men, women and children, many half-eaten by wild dogs. 

A wave of hate had wiped out two-thirds of the town, destroying houses and mosques, schools and clinics. This was the terrible and frightening power of the US military assault. 

The accounts I heard over the next few days will live with me forever. You may think you know what happened in Fallujah. But the truth is worse than you could possibly have imagined. 

In Saqlawiya, one of the makeshift refugee camps that surround Fallujah, we found a 17 year old woman. "I am Hudda Fawzi Salam Issawi from the Jolan district of Fallujah," she told me. "Five of us, including a 55 year old neighbour, were trapped together in our house in Fallujah when the siege began. 

"On 9 November American marines came to our house. My father and the neighbour went to the door to meet them. We were not fighters. We thought we had nothing to fear. I ran into the kitchen to put on my veil, since men were going to enter our house and it would be wrong for them to see me with my hair uncovered. "This saved my life. As my father and neighbour approached the door, the Americans opened fire on them. They died instantly. 

"Me and my 13 year old brother hid in the kitchen behind the fridge. The soldiers came into the house and caught my older sister. They beat her. Then they shot her. But they did not see me. Soon they left, but not before they had destroyed our furniture and stolen the money from my father's pocket." 

Hudda told me how she comforted her dying sister by reading verses from the Koran. After four hours her sister died. For three days Hudda and her brother stayed with their murdered relatives. But they were thirsty and had only a few dates to eat. They feared the troops would return and decided to try to flee the city. But they were spotted by a US sniper. 

Hudda was shot in the leg, her brother ran but was shot in the back and died instantly. "I prepared myself to die," she told me. "But I was found by an American woman soldier, and she took me to hospital." She was eventually reunited with the surviving members of her family. 

I also found survivors of another family from the Jolan district. They told me that at the end of the second week of the siege the US troops swept through the Jolan. The Iraqi National Guard used loudspeakers to call on people to get out of the houses carrying white flags, bringing all their belongings with them. They were ordered to gather outside near the Jamah al-Furkan mosque in the centre of town. 

On 12 November Eyad Naji Latif and eight members of his family-one of them a six month old child-gathered their belongings and walked in single file, as instructed, to the mosque. 

When they reached the main road outside the mosque they heard a shout, but they could not understand what was being shouted. Eyad told me it could have been "now" in English. Then the firing began. US soldiers appeared on the roofs of surrounding houses and opened fire. Eyad's father was shot in the heart and his mother in the chest. 

They died instantly. Two of Eyad's brothers were also hit, one in the chest and one in the neck. Two of the women were hit, one in the hand and one in the leg. Then the snipers killed the wife of one of Eyad's brothers. When she fell her five year old son ran to her and stood over her body. They shot him dead too. Survivors made desperate appeals to the troops to stop firing. 

But Eyad told me that whenever one of them tried to raise a white flag they were shot. After several hours he tried to raise his arm with the flag. But they shot him in the arm. Finally he tried to raise his hand. So they shot him in the hand. 

The five survivors, including the six month old child, lay in the street for seven hours. Then four of them crawled to the nearest home to find shelter. The next morning the brother who was shot in the neck also managed to crawl to safety. They all stayed in the house for eight days, surviving on roots and one cup of water, which they saved for the baby. On the eighth day they were discovered by some members of the Iraqi National Guard and taken to hospital in Fallujah. They heard the Americans were arresting any young men, so the family fled the hospital and finally obtained treatment in a nearby town. 

They do not know in detail what happened to the other families who had gone to the mosque as instructed. But they told me the street was awash with blood. I had come to Fallujah in January as part of a humanitarian aid convoy funded by donations from Britain. 

Our small convoy of trucks and vans brought 15 tons of flour, eight tons of rice, medical aid and 900 pieces of clothing for the orphans. We knew that thousands of refugees were camped in terrible conditions in four camps on the outskirts of town. 

There we heard the accounts of families killed in their houses, of wounded people dragged into the streets and run over by tanks, of a container with the bodies of 481 civilians inside, of premeditated murder, looting and acts of savagery and cruelty that beggar belief. 

Through the ruins That is why we decided to go into Fallujah and investigate. When we entered the town I almost did not recognise the place where I had worked as a doctor in April 2004, during the first siege. 

We found people wandering like ghosts through the ruins. Some were looking for the bodies of relatives. Others were trying to recover some of their possessions from destroyed homes. 

Here and there, small knots of people were queuing for fuel or food. In one queue some of the survivors were fighting over a blanket. 

I remember being approached by an elderly woman, her eyes raw with tears. She grabbed my arm and told me how her house had been hit by a US bomb during an air raid. The ceiling collapsed on her 19 year old son, cutting off both his legs. 

She could not get help. She could not go into the streets because the Americans had posted snipers on the roofs and were killing anyone who ventured out, even at night. 

She tried her best to stop the bleeding, but it was to no avail. She stayed with him, her only son, until he died. He took four hours to die. 

Fallujah's main hospital was seized by the US troops in the first days of the siege. The only other clinic, the Hey Nazzal, was hit twice by US missiles. Its medicines and medical equipment were all destroyed. There were no ambulances-the two ambulances that came to help the wounded were shot up and destroyed by US troops. 

We visited houses in the Jolan district, a poor working class area in the north western part of the city that had been the centre of resistance during the April siege. 

This quarter seemed to have been singled out for punishment during the second siege. We moved from house to house, discovering families dead in their beds, or cut down in living rooms or in the kitchen. House after house had furniture smashed and possessions scattered. 

In some places we found bodies of fighters, dressed in black and with ammunition belts. 

But in most of the houses, the bodies were of civilians. Many were dressed in housecoats, many of the women were not veiled-meaning there were no men other than family members in the house. There were no weapons, no spent cartridges. 

It became clear to us that we were witnessing the aftermath of a massacre, the cold-blooded butchery of helpless and defenceless civilians. 

Nobody knows how many died. The occupation forces are now bulldozing the neighbourhoods to cover up their crime. What happened in Fallujah was an act of barbarity. The whole world must be told the truth.

Dr Salam Ismael, now 28 years old, was head of junior doctors in Baghdad before the invasion of Iraq. He was in Fallujah in April 2004 where he treated casualties of the assault on the city.

At the end of 2004 he came to Britain to collect funds for an aid convoy to Fallujah. Now the British government does not want Dr Salam Ismael?s testimony to be heard. 

He was due to come here last week to speak at trade union and anti-war meetings. But he was refused entry. The reason given was that he received expenses, covering the basic costs of his trip, when he came to Britain last year and this constitutes "illegal working".

Dr Salam Ismael merely wishes to speak the truth. Yet it seems the freedom that Bush and Blair claim to champion in Iraq does not extend to allowing its citizens to travel freely. 

Legal challenges, supported by the Stop the War Coalition, were launched this week in an effort to allow Dr Salam Ismael to come to Britain.

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

News about Iraq goes through filters

By DAHR JAMAIL
GUEST COLUMNIST

How is it that more than 40 percent of Americans still believe Iraq has weapons of mass destruction even though President Bush personally has admitted there are none?

How is it possible that millions of Americans believe the recent election in Iraq showed that Iraqis are in favor of the ongoing occupation of their country? In reality, the determination displayed by the roughly 59 percent of registered voters who participated in the election did so because they felt it would bring about an end to the U.S. occupation.

How do so many Americans wonder why more Iraqis each day are supporting both violent and non-violent movements of resistance to the occupation when after the U.S. government promised to help rebuild Iraq, a mere 2 percent of reconstruction contracts were awarded to Iraqi concerns and the infrastructure lies in shambles?

It's because overall, mainstream media reportage in the United States about the occupation in Iraq is being censured, distorted, threatened by the military and controlled by corporations that own the outlets.

Recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Eason Jordan, a CNN executive, told a panel that the U.S. military deliberately targeted journalists in Iraq. He said he "knew of about 12 journalists who had not only been killed by American troops, but had been targeted as a matter of policy," said Rep. Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts who was on the panel with Jordan.

When we hear this statement with the knowledge that 63 journalists have been killed in Iraq, in addition to the fact that in a 14-month-period, more journalists were killed in Iraq than during the entire Vietnam War, one begins to get the feeling that the military clampdown on the media is more than a myth or a conspiracy theory.

(Editor's note: Jordan has since resigned from CNN, telling fellow CNN staffers: "I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise.")

I've personally witnessed photographers in Baghdad who have had their cameras either confiscated or smashed by soldiers, who were, of course, acting on orders from their superiors. And no, the journalists weren't trying to photograph something that would jeopardize the security of the soldiers.

Even Christiane Amanpour, CNN's top war correspondent, announced on national television that her own network was censuring her journalism.

Most Americans don't know that on any given day, an average of three U.S. soldiers die in Iraq as a result of 75 attacks every single day on U.S. forces or that Iraqi civilian deaths average 10 times that amount.

Most Americans also don't know there are four permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq, with the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root diligently constructing 10 others.

Most Americans don't know overall troop morale in Iraq resembles that of the Vietnam War, with tours being extended and stop-loss orders imposed.

Nor do most folks know where billions of their tax dollars have been spent that were supposed to be used in the reconstruction of Iraq.

But who can blame Americans when the military and mainstream media continue, day in and day out, to distort, deny and destroy the truth before it reaches the audience back home? An international peoples' initiative called the World Tribunal on Iraq met in Rome to focus on media complicity in the crimes committed against the people of Iraq as well as U.S. citizens who are paying with their blood and tax dollars to maintain the occupation. The tribunal found Western mainstream media outlets guilty of incitement to violence and the deliberate misleading of people into the war and ongoing occupation of Iraq.

Makes you wonder what else Americans aren't being told about Iraq. After spending eight of the past 14 months reporting from Iraq, I can tell you the points made here are just the tip of the iceberg.

Dahr Jamail, an independent reporter covering the Iraq war, has several current speaking engagements in Western Washington. For more info, go to www.dahrjamailiraq.com.

U.S. 'in for a shock'
Shiite cleric's alliance trouncing Washington's favorite

Borzou Daragahi, Chronicle Foreign Service

Friday, February 4, 2005

Baghdad -- Partial results from Sunday's election suggest that U.S.-backed Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's coalition is being roundly defeated by a list with the backing of Iraq's senior Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al- Sistani, diminishing Allawi's chances of retaining his post in the next government.

Sharif Ali bin Hussein, head of the Constitutional Monarchy Party, likened the vote outcome to a "Sistani tsunami" that would shake the nation.

"Americans are in for a shock," he said, adding that one day they would realize, "We've got 150,000 troops here protecting a country that's extremely friendly to Iran, and training their troops."

The partial totals so far show the Iraqi List headed by Allawi, a secular Shiite and onetime CIA protege, trailed far behind with only 18 percent of the votes, despite an aggressive television ad campaign waged with U.S. aid. A lopsided majority of votes, 72 percent, went to the United Iraqi Alliance list, topped by a Shiite cleric who lived in Iran for many years and whose Sciri party has close ties to Iran's clerical regime. More than a third of the alliance's vote came from Baghdad, the cosmopolitan capital where Allawi had been expected to fare well.

The election commission also released final vote tallies from overseas voters in eight countries, the United States, Britain, France, Iran, Syria, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Australia. The alliance won of 44 percent of the 170,000 votes cast in those countries, the Kurds 18 percent and Allawi's list 12 percent. In U.S. voting, Allawi garnered just 5 percent of the vote, less than the Communist Party total.

It's like Vietnam all over again:

U.S. ENCOURAGED BY VIETNAM VOTE;
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

By PETER GROSE Special to The New York Times - Sep 4, 1967, pg. 2

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.

Marine General Says Shooting Some People Is 'Fun'
Friday February 4, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) - A decorated Marine Corps general said, ``It's fun to shoot some people'' and poked fun at the manhood of Afghans as he described the wars U.S. troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. James Mattis, a career infantry officer who is now in charge of developing better ways to train and equip Marines, made the comments Tuesday while speaking to a forum in San Diego.

According to an audio recording, he said, ``Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. ... It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up front with you, I like brawling.''

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

His comments were met with laughter and applause from the audience. Mattis was speaking during a panel discussion hosted by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, a spokeswoman for the general said.

BBC News: In pictures: Shooting in Tal Afar

US soldiers in Iraq approach a car after opening fire when it failed to stop as requested.

Inside the car were an Iraqi family of seven. The mother and father were killed but their five children in the backseat survived, one with a non-life threatening wound.

Chris Hondros a photographer with Getty News was on hand to record these pictures.

As the children get out of the car one of them screams, her hands covered in blood... More photos

Military Personnel Wounded in Iraq & Afghanistan:
A Photo Gallery

warning: 2 of the photos are graphic
updated 20 Dec 2004

IRAQ: Some Just Voted for Food

Dahr Jamail


BAGHDAD, Jan 31 (IPS) - Voting in Baghdad was linked with receipt of food rations, several voters said after the Sunday poll.

Many Iraqis said Monday that their names were marked on a list provided by the government agency that provides monthly food rations before they were allowed to vote.

?I went to the voting centre and gave my name and district where I lived to a man,? said Wassif Hamsa, a 32-year-old journalist who lives in the predominantly Shia area Janila in Baghdad. ?This man then sent me to the person who distributed my monthly food ration.?

Mohammed Ra'ad, an engineering student who lives in the Baya'a district of the capital city reported a similar experience.

Ra'ad, 23, said he saw the man who distributed monthly food rations in his district at his polling station. ?The food dealer, who I know personally of course, took my name and those of my family who were voting,? he said. ?Only then did I get my ballot and was allowed to vote.?

?Two of the food dealers I know told me personally that our food rations would be withheld if we did not vote,? said Saeed Jodhet, a 21-year-old engineering student who voted in the Hay al-Jihad district of Baghdad.

There has been no official indication that Iraqis who did not vote would not receive their monthly food rations.

Many Iraqis had expressed fears before the election that their monthly food rations would be cut if they did not vote. They said they had to sign voter registration forms in order to pick up their food supplies.

Their experiences on the day of polling have underscored many of their concerns about questionable methods used by the U.S.-backed Iraqi interim government to increase voter turnout.

Just days before the election, 52 year-old Amin Hajar who owns an auto garage in central Baghdad had said: ?I'll vote because I can't afford to have my food ration cut...if that happened, me and my family would starve to death.?

Hajar told IPS that when he picked up his monthly food ration recently, he was forced to sign a form stating that he had picked up his voter registration. He had feared that the government would use this information to track those who did not vote.

Calls to the Independent Electoral Commission for Iraq (IECI) and to the Ministry of Trade, which is responsible for the distribution of the monthly food ration, were not returned.

Other questions have arisen over methods to persuade people to vote. U.S. troops tried to coax voters in Ramadi, capital city of the al-Anbar province west of Baghdad to come out to vote, AP reported.

IECI officials have meanwhile 'downgraded' their earlier estimate of voter turnout.

IECI spokesman Farid Ayar had declared a 72 percent turnout earlier, a figure given also by the Bush Administration.

But at a press conference Ayar backtracked on his earlier figure, saying the turnout would be nearer 60 percent of registered voters.

The earlier figure of 72 percent, he said, was ?only guessing? and ?just an estimate? that had been based on ?very rough, word of mouth estimates gathered informally from the field.? He added that it will be some time before the IECI can issue accurate figures on the turnout.

?Percentages and numbers come only after counting and will be announced when it's over,? he said. ?It is too soon to say that those were the official numbers.?

Where there was a large turnout, the motivation behind the voting and the processes both appeared questionable. The Kurds up north were voting for autonomy, if not independence. In the south and elsewhere Shias were competing with Kurds for a bigger say in the 275-member national assembly.

In some places like Mosul the turnout was heavier than expected. But many of the voters came from outside, and identity checks on voters appeared lax. Others spoke of vote-buying bids.

The Bush Administration has lauded the success of the Iraq election, but doubtful voting practices and claims about voter turnout are both mired in controversy.

Election violence too was being seen differently across the political spectrum.

More than 30 Iraqis, a U.S. soldier, and at least 10 British troops died Sunday. Hundreds of Iraqis were also wounded in attacks across Baghdad, in Baquba 50km northeast of the capital as well as in the northern cities Mosul and Kirkuk.

The British troops were on board a C-130 transport plane that crashed near Balad city just northwest of Baghdad. The British military has yet to reveal the cause of the crash.

Despite unprecedented security measures in which 300,000 U.S. and Iraqi security forces were brought in to curb the violence, nine suicide bombers and frequent mortar attacks took a heavy toll in the capital city, while strings of attacks were reported around the rest of the country.

As U..S. President George W. Bush saw it, ?some Iraqis were killed while exercising their rights as citizens.?

Report: U.S. can't win Iraq war

Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- An analysis of a U.S. newspaper group concludes the United States is headed toward defeat in the Iraqi war.

The Knight Ridder Newspapers analysis of U.S. government statistics shows the Sunni Muslim insurgency in Iraq steadily gaining on the U.S. military, the Detroit Free Press, owned by Knight Ridder, reported Saturday.

Among factors cited:

-- U.S. military fatalities from hostile acts rose from an average of about 17 per month in May 2003 to a current average of 82 per month;

-- The average number of U.S. soldiers wounded by hostile acts per month has spiraled from 142 to 808 during the same period;

-- Attacks on the U.S.-led coalition since November 2003 rose from 735 a month to 2,400 in October;

-- The average number of mass-casualty bombings has grown from zero in the first few months of the U.S.-led occupation to an average of 13 per month; and

-- Electricity production has been below prewar levels since October.

"All the trend lines we can identify are all in the wrong direction," said Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, a Washington policy research organization.

BBC News, Jan. 5, 2005 While the world's attention has been on the disaster in Asia, the situation in Iraq has deteriorated so much that the insurgency has developed into near-open warfare.

The level of attacks is now so intense and sophisticated that it is not surprising that the former British representative to the former Coalition Authority, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, said recently that the insurgency was "irremediable" and "ineradicable" by US and other foreign troops alone.

"We have lost the primary control," he said.

More than 200,000 insurgents: intelligence chief

AFP: 1/3/2005

Asked if the insurgents were winning, Shahwani answered: "I would say they aren't losing."

BAGHDAD, Jan 3 (AFP) - Iraq's insurgency counts more than 200,000 active fighters and sympathisers, the country's national intelligence chief told AFP, in the bleakest assessment to date of the armed revolt waged by Sunni Muslims.

"I think the resistance is bigger than the US military in Iraq. I think the resistance is more than 200,000 people," Iraqi intelligence service director General Mohamed Abdullah Shahwani said in an interview ahead of the January 30 elections.

Shahwani said the number includes at least 40,000 hardcore fighters but rises to more than 200,000 members counting part-time fighters and volunteers who provide rebels everything from intelligence and logistics to shelter.

The numbers far exceed any figure presented by the US military in Iraq, which has struggled to get a handle on the size of the resistance since toppling Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003.

A senior US military officer declined to endorse or dismiss the spy chief's numbers.

"As for the size of the insurgency, we don't have good resolution on the size," the officer said on condition of anonymity.

Past US military assessments on the insurgency's size have been revised upwards from 5,000 to 20,000 full and part-time members, in the last half year, most recently in October.

Defense experts said it was impossible to divine the insurgency's total number, but called Shahwani's estimate a valid guess, with as much credence, if not more, than any US numbers.

"I believe General Shahwani's estimation, given that he is referring predominantly to active sympathizers and supporters and to part-time as well as full-time active insurgents, may not be completely out of the ballpark," said defense analyst Bruce Hoffman who served as an advisor to the US occupation in Iraq and now works for US-based think-tank RAND Corporation.

Compared to the coalition's figure, he said: "General Shahwani's -- however possibly high it may be, might well give a more accurate picture of the situation."

Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, put Shahwani's estimates on an equal footing with the American's.

"The Iraqi figures do... recognize the reality that the insurgency in Iraq has broad support in Sunni areas while the US figures down play this to the point of denial."

Shahwani said the resistance enjoys wide backing in the provinces of Baghdad, Babel, Salahuddin, Diyala, Nineveh and Tamim, homes to Sunni Arabs who fear they will lose influence after the elections.

Insurgents have gained strength through Iraq's tight-knit tribal bonds and links to the old 400,000-strong Iraqi army, dissolved by the US occupation in May 2003 two months after the US-led invasion, he said.

"People are fed up after two years, without improvement. People are fed up with no security, no electricity, people feel they have to do something. The army was hundreds of thousands. You'd expect some veterans would join with their relatives, each one has sons and brothers."

The rebels have turned city neighborhoods and small towns around central Iraq into virtual no-go zones despite successful US military efforts to reclaim former enclaves like Samarra and Fallujah, he said.

"What are you going to call the situation here (in Baghdad) when 20 to 30 men can move around with weapons and no one can get them in Adhamiyah, Dura and Ghazaliya," he said, naming neighborhoods in the capital.

The spy chief also questioned the success of the November campaign to retake Fallujah, which US forces have hailed as a major victory against the resistance.

"What we have now is an empty city almost destroyed... and most of the insurgents are free. They have gone either to Mosul or to Baghdad or other areas."

Shahwani pointed to a resurgent Baath party as the key to the insurgency's might. The Baath has split into three factions, with the deadliest being the branch still paying allegiance to jailed dictator Saddam Hussein, he said.

Shahwani said the core Baath fighting strength was more than 20,000.

Operating out of Syria, Saddam's half-brother Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan and former aide Mohamed Yunis al-Ahmed are providing funding and tapping their connections to old army divisions, particularily in Mosul, Samarra, Baquba, Kirkuk and Tikrit.

Saddam's henchman, Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, still on the lam in Iraq, is also involved, he said.

Another two factions, which have broken from Saddam, are also around, but have yet to mount any attacks. The Baath are complemented by Islamist factions ranging from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda affiliate to Ansar al-Sunna and Ansar al-Islam.

Asked if the insurgents were winning, Shahwani answered: "I would say they aren't losing."

01/03/2005 13:03 GMT - AFP

Photos of Fallujah's dead

Photos of Fallujah's dead show civilians shot in bed, surrendering
By Dahr Jamail

Two weeks ago an Iraqi man was allowed into Fallujah by the U.S. military to help bury bodies. He was allowed to take photographs of 75 bodies, in order to show pictures to relatives so that they might be identified before they were buried.

These pictures are from a book of photos. They are being circulated publicly around small villages near Fallujah where many refugees are staying.

The man who took them was only allowed to take photos and bury bodies in one small area of Fallujah. He was not allowed to visit anywhere else. Keep in mind there are at least 1,925 other bodies that were not allowed to be seen.

Information with some of the photos is from those identified by family members already.

One of the family members who was looking for dead relatives, shared these photos which were taken from that book.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he told of what he saw in his village during the last few weeks.

"The Americans shot every boat on the river because people were trying to escape Fallujah by the river. They shot all the sheep, any animal people owned was shot. Helicopters shot all the animals and anything that moved in all the villages surrounding Fallujah during the fighting."

He said that none of the roads into Fallujah, or around Fallujah were passable because anyone on them was shot. "I know one family that were all killed. There are no signs on these roads that tell people not to use them-so people don't know they aren't supposed to use them. No signs in English or Arabic!"

The photos can be viewed here [WARNING THEY ARE EXTREMELY GRAPHIC]

Doctor fears war's horror kept hidden
Diane Carman, Denver Post, Article Published: Sunday, December 05, 2004

Dr. Gene Bolles is often accused of being a pacifist. It's not something he considers an insult.

At 67, the Longmont neurosurgeon could have done what most of us have during this war, avoiding even so much as the risk of a tax increase to pay for the carnage. Instead, he interrupted his retirement to spend two years as chief of neurosurgery at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, treating hundreds of soldiers injured in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

He said it was a sense of duty after 9/11 that motivated him to go to Landstuhl, so don't assume that the current rationale for war escapes him. It hasn't.

He suggests, however, that the official version of events and the media coverage of the fighting in Iraq are incomplete.

He offers his view as "food for thought" for all of us who know only the bloodless, sanitized, glorified versions of war, for all of us who still might think that in war there can ever be a winner.

Bolles spoke of "young kids having their extremities blown off, their eyesight lost, their brains badly injured." He treated "a whole bunch of kids who will have chronic pain from secondary spinal problems for the rest of their lives."

In this war, he said, with all its powerful artillery, he saw much more serious head injuries with more damaging concussive effects than in previous wars.

And, as with Vietnam and other wars, the numbers of soldiers who will suffer post-traumatic stress disorder will be staggering, he said. "Traumatic stress is not appreciated as a serious problem yet," he said. "It will be."

The daily tally of casualties, which includes only the numbers of American dead, doesn't begin to reflect the human cost, he said.

"It was not unusual to see a kid with an arm and two legs gone. It just tears at you, or at least it does me," he said. "And it's not just our kids; it's theirs too."

The war has changed Bolles, a man who saw a lot of trauma in 32 years as a neurosurgeon in private practice.

"I feel that I did a good job," he said softly. "It was an honor for me to have that experience." Then, he folded his hands and retreated into the refuge of the third person.

"There is an entity that was first written about in 1994 known as compassion fatigue," he said. "It's a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder associated with medical providers. You don't sleep well. You start to see situations over and over again. You feel powerless to help them sometimes." His voice trailed off.

He knows the pain of war.

It's why he's not ashamed to be called a pacifist. Only a fool would be.

Battlefield Earth

By Bill Moyers, AlterNet. Posted December 8, 2004.


The environment is in trouble and the religious right doesn't care. It's time to act as if the future depends on us ? because it does.

Recently the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School presented its fourth annual Global Environment Citizen Award to Bill Moyers. In presenting the award, Meryl Streep, a member of the Center board, said, "Through resourceful, intrepid reportage and perceptive voices from the forward edge of the debate, Moyers has examined an environment under siege with the aim of engaging citizens." Following is the text of Bill Moyers' response to Ms. Streep's presentation of the award.

I accept this award on behalf of all the people behind the camera whom you never see. And for all those scientists, advocates, activists, and just plain citizens whose stories we have covered in reporting on how environmental change affects our daily lives. We journalists are simply beachcombers on the shores of other people's knowledge, other people's experience, and other people's wisdom. We tell their stories.

The journalist who truly deserves this award is my friend, Bill McKibben. He enjoys the most conspicuous place in my own pantheon of journalistic heroes for his pioneer work in writing about the environment. His best seller "The End of Nature" carried on where Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" left off.

Writing in Mother Jones recently, Bill described how the problems we journalists routinely cover ? conventional, manageable programs like budget shortfalls and pollution ? may be about to convert to chaotic, unpredictable, unmanageable situations. The most unmanageable of all, he writes, could be the accelerating deterioration of the environment, creating perils with huge momentum like the greenhouse effect that is causing the melting of the Arctic to release so much freshwater into the North Atlantic that even the Pentagon is growing alarmed that a weakening gulf stream could yield abrupt and overwhelming changes, the kind of changes that could radically alter civilizations.

That's one challenge we journalists face ? how to tell such a story without coming across as Cassandras, without turning off the people we most want to understand what's happening, who must act on what they read and hear.

As difficult as it is, however, for journalists to fashion a readable narrative for complex issues without depressing our readers and viewers, there is an even harder challenge ? to pierce the ideology that governs official policy today. One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.

Remember James Watt, President Reagan's first secretary of the Interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever-engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."

Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious. So were his compatriots out across the country. They are the people who believe the bible is literally true ? one-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup poll is accurate. In this past election several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in the rapture index. That's right ? the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the best-selling books in America today are the 12 volumes of the left-behind series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious right warrior, Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.

Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre (the British writer George Monbiot recently did a brilliant dissection of it and I am indebted to him for adding to my own understanding): once Israel has occupied the rest of its "biblical lands," legions of the anti-Christ will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the Messiah will return for the rapture. True believers will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts, and frogs during the several years of tribulation that follow.

I'm not making this up. Like Monbiot, I've read the literature. I've reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are sincere, serious and polite as they tell you they feel called to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. That's why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers. It's why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelations where four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of man." A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed ? an essential conflagration on the road to redemption. The last time I Googled it, the rapture index stood at 144 ? just one point below the critical threshold when the whole thing will blow, the son of god will return, the righteous will enter heaven and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire.

So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? Go to Grist to read a remarkable work of reporting by the journalist, Glenn Scherer ? "The Road to Environmental Apocalypse." Read it and you will see how millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed ? even hastened ? as a sign of the coming apocalypse.

As Grist makes clear, we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election ? 231 legislators in total ? more since the election ? are backed by the religious right. Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian coalition was Senator Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from the biblical book of Amos on the senate floor: "the days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land." he seemed to be relishing the thought.

And why not? There's a constituency for it. A 2002 TIME/CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks. Drive across the country with your radio tuned to the more than 1,600 Christian radio stations or in the motel turn some of the 250 Christian TV stations and you can hear some of this end-time gospel. And you will come to understand why people under the spell of such potent prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts it, "to worry about the environment. Why care about the earth when the droughts, floods, famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the rapture? And why care about converting from oil to solar when the same god who performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a word?"

Because these people believe that until Christ does return, the lord will provide. One of their texts is a high school history book, America's providential history. You'll find there these words: "the secular or socialist has a limited resource mentality and views the world as a pie ... that needs to be cut up so everyone can get a piece." However, "[t]he Christian knows that the potential in god is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in god's earth ... while many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that god has made the earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to accommodate all of the people." No wonder Karl Rove goes around the White House whistling that militant hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers." He turned out millions of the foot soldiers on Nov. 2, including many who have made the apocalypse a powerful driving force in modern American politics.

I can see in the look on your faces just how hard it is for the journalist to report a story like this with any credibility. So let me put it on a personal level. I myself don't know how to be in this world without expecting a confident future and getting up every morning to do what I can to bring it about. So I have always been an optimist. Now, however, I think of my friend on Wall Street whom I once asked: "What do you think of the market?" "I'm optimistic," he answered. "Then why do you look so worried?" And he answered: "Because I am not sure my optimism is justified."

I'm not, either. Once upon a time I agreed with Eric Chivian and the Center for Health and the Global Environment that people will protect the natural environment when they realize its importance to their health and to the health and lives of their children. Now I am not so sure. It's not that I don't want to believe that ? it's just that I read the news and connect the dots:

I read that the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has declared the election a mandate for President Bush on the environment. This for an administration that wants to rewrite the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act protecting rare plant and animal species and their habitats, as well as the National Environmental Policy Act that requires the government to judge beforehand if actions might damage natural resources.

That wants to relax pollution limits for ozone; eliminate vehicle tailpipe inspections; and ease pollution standards for cars, sports utility vehicles and diesel-powered big trucks and heavy equipment.

That wants a new international audit law to allow corporations to keep certain information about environmental problems secret from the public.

That wants to drop all its new-source review suits against polluting coal-fired power plans and weaken consent decrees reached earlier with coal companies.

That wants to open the Arctic [National] Wildlife Refuge to drilling and increase drilling in Padre Island National Seashore, the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world and the last great coastal wild land in America.

I read the news just this week and learned how the Environmental Protection Agency had planned to spend nine million dollars ? two million of it from the administration's friends at the American Chemistry Council ? to pay poor families to continue to use pesticides in their homes. These pesticides have been linked to neurological damage in children, but instead of ordering an end to their use, the government and the industry were going to offer the families $970 each, as well as a camcorder and children's clothing, to serve as guinea pigs for the study.

I read all this in the news.

I read the news just last night and learned that the administration's friends at the international policy network, which is supported by ExxonMobil and others of like mind, have issued a new report that climate change is "a myth, sea levels are not rising," [and] scientists who believe catastrophe is possible are "an embarrassment."

I not only read the news but the fine print of the recent appropriations bill passed by Congress, with the obscure (and obscene) riders attached to it: a clause removing all endangered species protections from pesticides; language prohibiting judicial review for a forest in Oregon; a waiver of environmental review for grazing permits on public lands; a rider pressed by developers to weaken protection for crucial habitats in California.

I read all this and look up at the pictures on my desk, next to the computer ? pictures of my grandchildren: Henry, age 12; of Thomas, age 10; of Nancy, 7; Jassie, 3; Sara Jane, 9 months. I see the future looking back at me from those photographs and I say, "Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do." And then I am stopped short by the thought: "That's not right. We do know what we are doing. We are stealing their future. Betraying their trust. Despoiling their world."

And I ask myself: Why? Is it because we don't care? Because we are greedy? Because we have lost our capacity for outrage, our ability to sustain indignation at injustice?

What has happened to our moral imagination?

On the heath Lear asks Gloucester: "How do you see the world?" And Gloucester, who is blind, answers: "I see it feelingly.'"

I see it feelingly.

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

Believe me, it does.

Bill Moyers is the host of the weekly public affairs series NOW with Bill Moyers, which airs Friday nights on PBS.


More Photos of US Navy Seals Abusing Iraqis

Returning Fallujans Will Face Police State Measures --The US military is drawing up plans to keep resistance fighters from regaining control of this [their] battle-scarred city, but returning residents may find that the measures make Fallujah look more like a police state than the democracy they have been promised. Under the plans, troops would funnel Fallujans to so-called citizen processing centers on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would receive badges displaying their home addresses that they must wear at all times. Buses would ferry them into the city, where cars, the deadliest tool of suicide bombers, would be banned.

Malnutrition doubled since US invasion: UNICEF --The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, warned today that the number of young Iraqi children suffering from acute malnutrition has nearly doubled since the March 2003 invasion, as health and living conditions have deteriorated.

US admits the war for 'hearts and minds' in Iraq is now lost -- Pentagon report reveals catalogue of failure --by Neil Mackay "The Pentagon has admitted that the war on terror and the invasion and occupation of Iraq have increased support for al-Qaeda, made ordinary Muslims hate the US and caused a global backlash against America because of the 'self-serving hypocrisy' of George W Bush?s administration over the Middle East. The mea culpa is contained in a shockingly frank 'strategic communications' report, written this autumn by the Defence Science Board for Pentagon supremo Donald Rumsfeld."

Eyewitness Interview: "Iraq Is An Absolute Disaster": 

Journalist Michael Ware is the Baghdad Bureau Chief for Time Magazine. He was embedded in Fallujah during the recent US offensive earlier this month, and has covered the war in Iraq since February 2003. He joins us today with his perspective on the situation in Iraq.

MICHAEL WARE INTERVIEW ON WNYC HOST LEONARD LOPATE

NOVEMBER 24 2004

 

[RUSH TRANSCRIPT]

 

LOPATE:   I?m Leonard Lopate, this is WNYC 93.9 We?re on line at WNYC.org.  In the news today are reports that American Forces are continuing military operations to overcome isolated pockets of resistance in Fallujah and it?s surrounding areas. Are things going as well as that suggests? Well, joining me now with an eye-witness account is embedded journalist Michael Ware, Baghdad bureau chief for TIME magazine, he recently returned from Fallujah where he was tracking Alpha Company?s third platoon. Very pleased to welcome you to the show. Hi.

 

WARE: Thank you.

 

LOPATE:     When did you get back from Fallujah?

 

WARE: I left Iraq on Saturday afternoon and arrived in New York on Sunday evening.

 

LOPATE:     How long had you been there?

 

WARE: Well, I?ve been based in Iraq for almost two years now. So this is a rare respite.

 

LOPATE:     Did you feel that it was okay to leave Fallujah because things have been brought under control?

 

WARE: No, I mean, I don?t think we?re ever going to be able to confidently say that Fallujah is under control. I guess it depends on what your measure of control really is. There will always be insurgents in Fallujah. Fallujah is the dark heart of the insurgency. We may be able to dominate the city now that it?s been retaken, but whether you effectively control it; whether you stamp out that rising tide of resistance, I don?t think so.

 

LOPATE:     Is this like Groznyy in Chechnya , where the Russian forces have pretty much levelled the city and still face constant resistance?

 

WARE: Yeah, I mean, there?s things of Groznyy, but certainly it?s not a direct comparison by any measure. There has been widespread destruction in Fallujah in the course of this terrible, terrible battle?

 

LOPATE:     Mosques and homes?

 

WARE: Oh, absolutely, I mean? For example, the military unit I was with, I mean, the operation in Fallujah involved largely Marines, but also some army elements. I was with one of those elements. The way they proceeded through the city, given that there was booby-traps, improvised explosive devices, riddling the streets everywhere. Entire houses were rigged to blow. The way they proceeded was what they call ?Reconnaissance by Fire.? If you?re going to go down a street first you scour it for any potential danger. How do you do that? You do it with a 25mm cannon on an armoured Bradley fighting vehicle. Or you do it with one 20mm tank round. Just blow up everything that looks vaguely suspicious. Then if someone shoots at you from a building, or there?s an explosion near a vehicle, don?t mess with it. Don?t go into the building looking for the guy? just level the building. And then go through the rubble afterwards.

 

LOPATE:     Well, that can?t be pleasing people who are not in support of the insurgents, but who consider Fallujah their home?

 

WARE: Well, Fallujah, is actually called the City of Mosques . And whether you?re a Sunni, like most of the people in Western Iraq are, or whether you?re just an ordinary Iraqi, it still has some resonance. And to see a city destroyed liked that obviously won?t go without some repercussion.

 

LOPATE:     Especially since one of our reasons for being in Iraq is to liberate these people, isn?t it? Or?. do you think the people of Fallujah felt liberated?

 

WARE: Well, I?m often troubled by just exactly why it is that the West went into Iraq . Because, it seems to me that the best justification that was made was somehow it related to the war on terror, yet I?m afraid to say, as in Fallujah, with all of Iraq , if this is to prevent terrorism, then it?s failing. We?re promoting, or spawning, or giving birth to terrorism, by our presence there.

 

LOPATE:      Well, in a way you represent a couple of countries, because you?re from Australia , which supports the war effort?

 

WARE: Yep.

 

LOPATE:     And you work for TIME magazine, which is an international publication, but is really an American publication. So, ah, do you feel that, that you?re an outsider from both of the? both of the cultures you have grown up in and worked within?

 

WARE: No, clearly you can?t shed your, your, cultural grounding, like you take off a coat. I mean, I can?t divorce myself entirely from that, but what?s my role in Iraq ? What was my role in Afghanistan for the year before I went to Iraq ? It?s to observe and to report? I need to maintain some sort of sense of ?of? neutrality, if not objectivity?

 

LOPATE:     Well, both Afghanistan ?. Well, Afghanistan to a lesser degree? but Iraq was very much a ? the big story up to the election, it seems? both of them seem to be on the back burner, but we do hear ominous things, such as Afghanistan is now a? one of the major producers of? of opiates in the world? maybe, right now, the most dangerous one? Ah, this is after it was liberated?  In Iraq we now? we?ve heard 51, maybe more, Americans killed just as a result of  the fighting in Fallujah. 868 I think wounded as ? according to today?s New York Times? This doesn?t sound like a very good thing?.

 

WARE: Well? It?s?.

 

LOPATE:     I mean, how much success can we claim?

WARE: Okay, in Fallujah, it was a sweeping military victory. The objective was to retake territory. To deny the insurgents sanctuary. By and large that?s been accomplished. Congratulations. Has that broken the back of the insurgency? No. Not at all? Maybe you?ve dented them temporarily?

 

LOPATE:     The numbers I?ve heard is 250 insurgents rounded up, which doesn?t seem like very much considering the cost in American lives, and Iraqi lives? the Iraqis who have fought along side the Americans. Haven?t most of the insurgents just slipped out and regrouped elsewhere?

 

WARE: Yeah, when they say ?250 insurgents rounded up?, that?s just men of fighting age. Some will be insurgents, most certainly. Others may not be. Some we?ll never determine. And, I don?t know, just every step take we?re alienating the Iraqi people more and more and more? And we?re producing more terrorists and insurgents.

 

LOPATE: Do we have any idea of how many insurgents were in Fallujah and the surrounding areas when this whole thing began?

 

WARE: There?s various estimates. Military intelligence was telling me prior to the operation that their best guess, based on signal intelligence and human intelligence was anything from 1500 to three thousand. Others put it upward of 5000 insurgents. However, I can tell you for a fact, most of them had already left the city well before the operation began.

 

LOPATE:     Were they part of some kind of a unified military force?

 

WARE: This is a very complex issue. But in a nutshell, there?s essentially a two track war in Iraq . There always has been. There?s been the high profile terrorist war led by foreign Jihadis, come to fight the Holy War inspired by Osama bin Laden, now led by Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Then there?s the home grown insurgency; former military officers who are fighting a war of liberation. We?ve seen those two wars merge. That happened at the beginning of the year. Now, during the course of this year there was some friction between those two interests. However, as they were saying to me shortly before the operation when I asked, ?Is it possible for you to band together again?? They said, ?There is one thing that will unify us once more. And that?s an attack on Fallujah.?

 

LOPATE:     Hmm. Well, what separates them is very different visions as to what an Iraq after all this ends would look like?

 

WARE: Yeah, that?s one of the things? I mean it was issues of tactics. I mean, former professional military officers don?t like suicide bombings, don?t accept the collateral damage that the foreign Jihadis accept. Then there?s also the broader issue as you touch upon, the Jihadis want to establish an Islamic state. Not just in Iraq , but throughout the entire Muslim world. The insurgents, the home grown former military officers, they?re fighting to free their country. The most interesting thing though is, that the Jihadis, the al Qaida backed sponsored, inspired, Holy Warriors, have hijacked the entire insurgency. And now the military officers too are seeking an Islamic state.

 

LOPATE:     How would you suggest the military deal with the issue of bombing mosques? We?ve been criticised for shooting at them, but the insurgents often use them as, as havens, don?t they?

 

WARE: Yeah, it?s a very thorny issue. I mean, the entire crux of this war is? it?s a matter of propaganda and perception. This is a war, as the insurgents were telling me even last year, it?s not going to be won and lost on the battlefield, but on television. This is what the military calls an ?IO Campaign.? An Information Operation. So, the insurgents are extraordinarily adept at it, much better than the US military. So, by using a mosque as a fighting position, that has immediate tactical advantage, but they know that forces the US military to reduce that mosque to rubble, and that has an enormous play?.

 

LOPATE:     Did they have a lot of sophisticated weapons themselves?

 

WARE:      The insurgents? The insurgents have untapped resources to weaponry and explosives. Both within the country and stuff that just pours in over the open borders that we have left largely unattended. They don?t have great use of heavy weaponry, like Dushka heavy machine guns, yet they still have mortar systems, they are very adept, in fact the military intelligence officers I mix with describe them as ingenious at improvised explosive devices, booby traps, and the way they lay their snares for us, are just extraordinary.

 

LOPATE:     Would securing the borders have been a better tactic? Perhaps we could have avoided some of these problems?

WARE: IT certainly would have assisted. You can never guarantee that you would prevent? but, it would have assisted the Islamization of this fight. I mean, a lot of the? the religious fervour that is now fuelling this war? has come across the borders. Yes, there was fertile ground inside Iraq for this, but it took that inspiration from abroad to really set it aflame?

 

LOPATE:     You talked about the information war, why has there been such disagreement over the dead and wounded on both sides? Is it because? the US government agencies have been downplaying them, and the? the Iraqi insurgents have been inflating them? Or is this also a way that the different media control reporting on this war?..?

WARE: It?s a very complicated issue, but let me boil it down to one broad principle: In this war, like every other war I?ve been in, there?s one absolute, and that is that everyone lies. On all sides. Civil, military, the West, the Insurgents, the Jihadis, everyone is spinning the story. For their own purposes. I mean, don?t forget?.

 

LOPATE:     Well, what does that mean for you? You were covering the story.  You had to go to the sources you could go to? How much could you trust them?

 

WARE: Oh, I don?t trust anyone? ever. Ever. I just can never turn my back, and I can never trust anything that?s told to me. So, you need to check, recheck, and check again. For example, in terms of the insurgents, that?s how I began this long road and painful path that I?ve eventually taken of actually being able to penetrate the insurgents, and even the al Qaida Jihadis. I?d be told many things by them in meetings with them. As would all reporters. But a man masking his face in a scarf sitting in a car can tell you anything he likes. So, I kept saying, ?Well, how do I know it?s true?? And it was from that that they eventually took me in deeper and deeper and deeper, to just show me, to prove to me their bona fides, and then the extent of what they were doing. It?s only with your own eyes that you can ever know anything.

 

LOPATE:     Is that why you allowed yourself to be embedded with Alpha Company?s 3rd platoon? Because, people have been concerned that embedded reporters only see what they?re allowed to see?

 

WARE: Well, that?s very true. That?s the nature of embedding. And that happens on both sides. When the insurgents take me, to essentially in inverted commas, ?embed me? with their side, They only want to show me what they want me to see. It?s the same with the US military. So, it?s up to us to be there to see it. So, and? and the army, particularly, as opposed to the Marines, were much better on this? on press freedom, in this particular operation in Fallujah. I mean, I was with the 3rd Platoon of Alpha Company from the 2nd Battalion 2nd Infantry Regiment. They said to me, ?Where do you want to be?? and I said, ?I want to be right where your boys are.? So, I was with 3rd Platoon which was the very first troops to set foot inside Fallujah on Monday night November 8. And they led the battle all the way through that week. And I was there side by side with them. Anything other than that prohibits me from really knowing the truth.

 

LOPATE:     My guest is Michael Ware, who is Baghdad bureau chief at TIME magazine. Recently he returned from Fallujah, where he was tracking Alpha Company?s 3rd Platoon in their battles in Fallujah. We will continue our conversation after we take a little break here on WNYC. Stay with us.

 

(MUSIC BREAK)

 

LOPATE:     We?re back with Michael Ware who is Baghdad bureau chief for TIME magazine. Recently he returned from observing the fighting in Fallujah. This is WNYC 93.9 AM820. We?re on line at WNYC.org. What pressures are there on people reporting from Iraq ? Recently the Wall Street Journal?s reporter got into trouble for sending private email messages to friends that revealed things that she wasn?t even putting in her articles, but people still? supporters of the war effort.. still wanted the Wall Street Journal to fire her for doing that.

 

WARE:      Oh, I mean that was absolutely ludicrous. I know Farnaz very well. There?s not a single one amongst us in Baghdad who could quibble with a skerrick or a phrase of that email. And quite frankly, I was stunned by it, because, most of us have put that into print anyway. And certainly, when we avail ourselves of broader media opportunities on television and radio, we are all saying the exact same thing: Iraq is an absolute disaster. And it?s ?it?s? it?s not improving. It?s deteriorating with a rapid pulse. It?s a failing mission. I mean, for me, I?ve been asked, ?Are we winning?? And I say, ?Well, that?s not really the proper question. The question is how can we prevent from losing??

 

LOPATE:     But, aren?t a lot of people putting their hopes? pinning their hopes on the elections that are coming up?

 

WARE: Well they can pin as much as they like on those elections. I don?t know what good it?s going to do them. I mean, I?ll tell you right now, you can set any Disneyland date you like, let?s call it January 30th. You can hold an election. It will certainly look like an election. And it will sound like an election. But, anything other than sham, you can?t hope to produce. I mean, the? the West will do it?s best to support this process, but under no circumstances can I see any election in Iraq now or anywhere near in the future that will produce anything akin to a real mandate for anyone.

 

LOPATE:     Why was Fallujah deemed so important to win? Couldn?t it have just been cordoned off and kept under control?

 

WARE: That? That?s? That was one option, although that?s not as a simple a thing to do as one might think. I mean, until you?re out on a battlefield, you don?t really understand the nature of the confusion of it all. And to seal a city, I mean, can you appreciate just how many tens of thousands of troops you would have to dedicate to that task? I mean, you?d almost have to introduce the draft here in America just to seal off Fallujah, to add to the troop numbers that are already there. The other thing is that there was a political imperative. I mean, obviously, Fallujah was a festering sore. It was a gross act of brazen defiance against the Iraqi government and against the US forces?

 

LOPATE:     Worse that Mosul ? Worse that Baquba?

 

WARE: Oh, absolutely. Now, I?ve spent a lot of time in all those places: in Baquba, in Ramadi, in Tikrit, in Behji, in Mosul , in Kirkuk ? Oh, I?ve spent much time in all those places on both sides of the fence. Fallujah was particularly symbolic, I mean, operationally it was very key. It was actually a city that the insurgents and the Jihadis controlled. And on their secret websites and on their secret message boards, that I?ve been able to monitor, through the assistance of the insurgents.. I get to see the way they talk? and they referred to Fallujah as? as ? Iraq and The Independent Islamic State of Fallujah?.

 

LOPATE:     So, it had a symbolic significance?

 

WARE: Absolutely. But, I mean, militarily? At best this is a tactical victory. We have reclaimed territory. Strategically, it?s done nothing to stop the terror. And much like the entire invasion of Iraq of itself, but you know?. In many ways there was certain reasons for doing it, but, but this is? this is?(stend ?) nothing.. nothing at all. I mean, it was important? I mean, cos, at the heart of an insurgency, or an insurgent war, classic counter-insurgency tactics is that essentially you must deny population from the insurgents. It?s not about taking territory and holding ground. That?s got nothing to do with the nature of the fight in Iraq . So, we?re supposed to drive a wedge between the ordinary people who support and shelter, or at the very least, acquiesce to the presence of the insurgents. By that measure, how are we fairing? Well, their support is growing. It?s not reducing.

 

LOPATE:     Well, one of the first things we heard was that we had to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. So is that the battle we?re really losing right now?

 

WARE: I mean it would be glib to say that the hearts of minds of the people that we haven?t yet killed? but? there is an element of?. Truth to that. I mean, honestly, I see day by day as we add to the ranks of the insurgency? Now, be it, I?ve been there? I?ve watched civilians atomized before my eyes by withering US fire. And?.

 

LOPATE:     These are civilians? These are innocent bystanders?

 

WARE: Absolutely. I mean, this is the confusion of war. By no means, is that meant to be a direct criticism of the military itself or the individual soldiers involved. I mean, I can talk to you for many horrid and nightmarish hours about the nature of that, but let?s not go there. I mean, innocents die.

 

LOPATE:     And it?s hard to tell who is an innocent and who?s an insurgent, isn?t it?

 

WARE: Absolutely, and when you have a confused Iraqi father, driving his terrified family.. trying to escape a battleground somewhere and he tentatively and fearfully approaches a US checkpoint, which is manned by baby-faced teenagers who have seen their friends and colleagues horrendously torn apart and who are coming under almost constant fire from every direction from an enemy who hides as a civilian, and leaps out when it?s least expected?. As that family approaches that checkpoint a nervous trigger finger is a nanosecond away from? from wiping them all out?. And I?ve? I?ve just experienced far too much of that?.

 

LOPATE:     Well, we just heard about a soldier actually killing wounded prisoners?. Because of that kind of anger? The anger that arises from having seen your friends die?

 

WARE: I mean, I wasn?t in the room when that happened. But I was in that battlefield, and I?ve certainly seen?. Put it this way, that? wouldn?t have been the first such occasion. If I had been there?. And even in Fallujah itself, I saw stuff that was very akin to that. And that?s the nature of war. And it?s not so much?. I wouldn?t credit to the anger of an individual soldier who pulled that trigger. It doesn?t have to be anger.. You don?t sleep for  a week. You?re in constant battle. You?re on a perpetual adrenaline rush. It?s all that keeps you going. You?re nerves are absolutely fried. It?s just instinct half the time.

 

LOPATE:     You sound like you?re battling post-traumatic stress syndrome. Do you feel that way?

 

WARE: I don?t know. I?m rarely sober enough to think about that. No, I?m just joking. I mean, no, I wouldn?t say that. .. I mean, let?s just say that?? war is not an easy business. And it always exacts a toll in one form or another. On everyone who is touched by it.

 

LOPATE:     Is there a humanitarian crisis in Fallujah? Has the Red Cross gone in there yet?

 

WARE: When I left Fallujah itself, no. The Red Crescent or other aid agencies weren?t being allowed into the city. I mean, that distress me to a great degree because to whom are they to go in to deliver aid? In six days of non-stop combat I didn?t see a single civilian. Now, there were civilians in pockets of that city. But nothing like the 40,000 that was originally estimated by military planners. So, the fact that aid agencies aren?t in there right now, isn?t to me a terribly disturbing thing? I mean, obviously that?s a major issue in the Arabic press. Again, this is the Information War.. it?s being played up enormously about the innocent death in Fallujah. Now, I know that civilians were killed, but was it on the scale that?s being? that?s being drawn for us in the Arab media. No, not at all.

 

LOPATE:     My guest is Michael Ware, who is Baghdad Bureau chief for TIME magazine. He was an eye witness to the fighting in Fallujah from November 8th until just last Saturday when he returned to the United States . This is WNYC 93.9 AM820. We?re on line at WNYC.org. So, are we receiving the? You talked earlier about ?spin?? Are we receiving as distorted a view of what?s going on in Iraq as the local population is? from its news sources?

 

WARE: I mean? To some degree, you must understand it?s difficult to measure just what message you?re receiving here in your homes, and in your offices?.

 

LOPATE:     You didn?t see the same CNN that we saw?

 

WARE: No, generally, I watch for example CNN International? If I get access to news at all. But, from what I do know, and from you know, what I read, and what I?m able to absorb, you?re subject to as much an?.a carefully structured campaign of information and spin as any constituency that is supporting and giving the mandate for military operations. And that?s from the Arab side, and from the US side. I mean, it would be na?ve to think that in some fashion we?re not all being manipulated. And often, it?s subconscious or it?s not even malign? it?s just so insidious? and almost imperceptible  and sometimes it can turn on just the hint of nuance? It amounts to a distortion, at any way you look at it, it amounts to a distortion? I mean?.

 

LOPATE:     It doesn?t matter where we go?? I mean, I could read your reports in TIME magazine, or watch the BBC. Or I could watch the French press?. In the end, I?m going to always get a distorted view, through the filter of whoever?s doing the reporting?

 

WARE: I mean, we all do our best. And obviously, some try harder than others, some succeed better than others, some are less agenda ridden than others. But, at the end of the day, I mean, just speaking for my own personal experience, I mean clearly, I bring whatever personal filters I have inherent within me, but I try to, I try to keep them out of my reporting. But, I mean, all I can ever do for you is I can just bring you shards?. From the broken glass of? of a war. I mean, I can only give you the slivers that I am able to explore? And that?s the best that we can do.

 

LOPATE:     Well, actually, this war is closest to World War Two, because so much of it involves urban warfare, isn?t it? We had Vietnam where it was dangerous to go out of the cities, but relatively safe within the cities. And then the First Gulf War was a long distance war, and we were kind of told that that?s the way future wars would be conducted. But, here you were going from house to house. From street to street. Weren?t you? With these soldiers?

 

WARE: Actually, we weren?t just going from house to house. WE were, without a hint of exaggeration, fighting room to room. I mean, I?m sitting in your studio here, I?m looking at a large pane of glass that leads onto the corridor? in one of the fights that the unit I was with was in? we were on this side of the pane of glass, and the insurgents were on the other. We.. They were firing at each other from anything from four to eight feet away.

 

LOPATE:     How prepared are the soldiers? the American soldiers for this kind of fighting? In one of your articles they seemed to be in awe of the insurgents?.

 

WARE: I mean, I don?t know if the soldiers themselves are in awe. They certainly have grown to respect their foe. And any? to do anything else would be extraordinarily unhealthy for them. I mean, they still deride them with? with terms and names? but I mean, that?s the nature of a soldier. But, every individual grunt has a certain respect for the enemy with whom he is engaging. They can?t not. I mean, the resilience, the tenaciousness, and the ingenuity of the insurgents?. It goes without question. And I mean, there?s another thing? combat, of any kind, but particularly something so close as point blank range in urban warfare, is an extraordinarily personal affair. There is nowhere to hide from yourself in combat. There?s? You can?t pretend to be anything other than you really are. There?s no room for bravado. There?s no room for pretences of any kind. You are stripped bare. And you are who you are. And that?s on all sides of the conflict.

 

LOPATE:     I get the feeling that you?re also telling me that Fallujah may be won for the moment, and maybe won for the rest of this war, but there?ll be many more Fallujahs?

 

WARE: Oh, absolutely. There?s not going to be the great?. You know? weeping sore that Fallujah was? I mean, it was a stellar act of defiance. I mean, to be able to actually secure and control a city, and to beat off the US military, and to play such a savvy political game that it tied the military hands? But, we?re going to see it popping up here, there, everywhere? In front, in behind, beside us, up and down, everywhere. I mean?? this doesn?t feel like victory to me?.

 

LOPATE:     Before the war there predictions that even if it was easily won that once we left, sectarian civil war would break out. Now that these soldiers are, the insurgents? have developed so many battle skills, do you think that?s even more likely?

 

WARE: Well, I mean, I know some of the home grown Iraqi Nationalist insurgents that I deal with itch for us just to simply get out of the way and let them get on with it.

 

LOPATE:     What would they bring back, another Saddam Hussein? Or do they want?..

 

WARE: Actually, many people joke, perhaps a little too seriously, that if we release Saddam and allowed him to run in this election, he would go very close to winning right now. Simply because so desperately crave the security which he was able to deliver. But this is not the real legacy that I fear of the folly of Iraq . It?s not a civil war that tears Iraq apart, as dreadful as that would be? We are giving birth to the next generation of Jihad. September 11 was in many ways the end note of al Qaida as we know it. Osama knew that he would be severely impaired after September 11, really it was an act of inspiration. He was lifting the lid off the Pandora?s Box of Jihad. After that, they were looking for a platform upon which to wage that Jihad, and we gave it to them. Invading Iraq on the sketchiest of grounds? to prevent a link to terrorism that was? not? there. Saddam was a threat? Without a doubt. He was a menace, he was a dictator to his people. He was a human rights nightmare. But, was he exporting terror? No! Now, we are doing that. We?ve created the new Afghanistan . Where the new generation of Al Qaida is blooding themselves and returning out to the rest of the world to spread?.

 

LOPATE:     So, we?re seeing a repeat of history? The last time it was when the Soviet Union went into Afghanistan and inspired a Jihad? And now the United States and Britain , and a number of other allies? Poland , for example, as the President reminds us, have done the same thing?

 

WARE: Absolutely, I mean it?s not just turning Iraqis to a religious fanaticism and a lust for Jihad against us within Iraq . It?s also, I mean?. Some of these guys I would speak to would say, ?Look, we just want the Americans out of our country, and we want to be left to our own devices. Iraqi solutions to Iraqi problems.? Now these guys say to me, ?I?m fighting for Islam.? And I say, ?Well, what will you do when the Americans leave?? They said, ?Well, we?ll follow them.? And the other thing is , young Muslim men are pouring in over the borders. Bathing themselves in the blood of Jihad in Iraq . And then, going home again. This is Afghanistan . This was what the Al Qaida generation, or class of veterans from Afghanistan did. We?re creating the next generation. We?ve already created their next leader: Abu Muzab al Zarqawi. A marginal figure before this invasion. Now, he has a price on his head that is matched only by Osama himself. And, his place in the Jihad milieu in fact threatens Osamas.

 

LOPATE:     We?ve run out of time, but I do have to ask you whether you think anyone in Washington is listening to you?

 

WARE: ?.. They may listen, but do they hear? I don?t know. I mean, I?m ?.. what am I? I?m just one insignificant little voice that rails against the horror and the lunacy that I see. I mean, I don?t have any expectation whatsoever that I can actually change things. The best I can do is just document and record and speak with the voice of the people who are there.

 

LOPATE:     Well, you are the Baghdad bureau chief of TIME magazine. And I want to thank you so much for being with us today. Michael Ware, who was recently tracking Alpha Company?s 3rd Platoon in its attacks on Fallujah. It?s ultimate recapturing of Fallujah. It?s been ?. It?s been wonderful having you here?.thank you so much?

 

WARE: Thank you, it?s my pleasure.

Transcript provided by Paul J.

Copyright: WNYC

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Common Sense Almanac has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Common Sense Almanac endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)



PHOTO: A happy face smiles back from the scope of a U.S. Army sniper's rifle, during a mission searching for Iraqi resistance fighters in Mosul, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 22, 2004.

Fallujans pay the price of liberation
By Dr Muhamad Ayash al-Kubaisi
Thursday 18 November 2004

When a nation's identity, existence and dignity is put at risk, the sacrifice required is far more than the lives of a group of fighters, and that is why Falluja has chosen to carry the flag of resistance in Iraq, in the clear knowledge it may be wiped out.

Fallujans and Iraqis have witnessed the boots of US marines stepping on the heads of Iraqi prisoners, not to frighten them but to tell Iraqis and the rest of the world that they owe the superpower obedience and gratitude.

The fighters in Falluja are fully conscious of the balance of power, they know only too well that one bomb from their enemy's arsenal is enough to render their beautiful city a ruin.

But the inhabitants of this great city wanted to send a message to decision makers in the US that coexisting with the occupiers is not possible.

They wanted to tell US officials that it is easier for Fallujans to sacrifice their lives than to shake hands with occupiers; it is easier for them to see their houses razed to the ground than see an occupying soldier enjoy them.

This clear message has been delivered by the people and fighters of Falluja. The occupiers must understand it or the ghost of Falluja will chase them everywhere in Iraq, and they will end up with two options:

Stubbornly remain in Iraq, losing their credibility and wasting more resources which could result in a worldwide alliance against them to bring such a prodigal power - the US - to heel, or leave Iraq.

If they leave, Falluja would have paid the price of liberating the nation and saving the world from a potential danger.

Crucially, the US should not get the impression that it has performed a successful pre-emptive strike.

The Iraqi resistance is fully cognizant of the nature of the fight, and appears to be acting according to a carefully crafted plan.

The indications coming from Falluja point to the fact the resistance is continuing, which will prevent the US from enjoying the taste of success in Falluja.

The Iraqi resistance realises that it is very dangerous if the US administration thinks its excessive use of power is achieving its goals.

This can be seen throughout the mounting resistance operations across the country from Talafar in the north to al-Qaem in the west and Buhruz in the east.

Last week, Iraq's third largest city, Mosul, the capital of al-Anbar governorate (Iraq's largest governorate), Ramadi, and vital positions in Baghdad fell to the Iraqi resistance. What does that tell us?

It shows that resistance in Iraq is Iraqi, and not dominated by "foreign fighters" or the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi group as the US had claimed before the strike on Falluja.

A group of non-Iraqi fighters crossing the borders to fight the US in Iraq for whatever reason cannot achieve that, and the US is fully aware of that from a military point of view.

The widespread resistance operations in Iraq prove the issue can no longer be consigned to a "restive city" or "rebellious region" - it is obviously a popular uprising by people refusing military occupation of their homeland.

This gives us confidence that the blood of our brothers in Falluja has not been shed in vain. Rather, it is the price paid for a noble aim: The liberation of Iraq.

Dr al-Kubaisi represents Iraq's Association of Muslim Scholars outside the country. He is a university professor in Islamic Sharia. He was born and lived in Falluja until before the invasion of Iraq.

THE ROVING EYE
Counterinsurgency run amok
By Pepe Escobar

"The people who are doing the beheadings are extremists ... the people slaughtering Iraqis - torturing in prisons and shooting wounded prisoners - are 'American heroes'. Congratulations, you must be so proud of yourselves today."
- Iraqi girl blogger Riverbend

Whom are you going to trust: Fallujah civilians who risked their lives to escape, witnesses such as Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein, hospital doctors, Amnesty International, top United Nations human-rights official Louise Arbour, the International Committee of the Red Cross; or the Pentagon and US-installed Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi?

On the humanitarian front, Fallujah is a tragedy. The city has virtually been reduced to rubble. Remaining residents, the Red Cross confirms, are eating roots and burying the dead in their gardens. There's no medicine in the hospitals to help anybody. The wounded are left to die in the streets - their remains to be consumed by packs of stray dogs. As Iraqresistance.net, a Europe-wide collective, puts it, "World governments, international organizations, nobody raises a finger to stop the killing." The global reaction is apathy.

Civilians? What civilians?
Asia Times Online sources in Baghdad confirm the anger across the Sunni heartland - even among moderates - against the occupation and Allawi has reached incendiary proportions. His credibility - already low before the Fallujah massacre - is now completely gone.

Allawi insists on the record that not a single civilian has died in Fallujah. Obviously nobody in his cabinet told him what Baghdad is talking about - the hundreds of rotting corpses in the streets, the thousands of civilians still trapped inside their homes, starving, many of them wounded, with no water and no medical aid. And nobody has told him of dozens of children now in Baghdad's Naaman hospital who lost their limbs, victims of US air strikes and artillery shells.

A top Red Cross official in Baghdad now estimates that at least 800 civilians have been killed so far - and this is a "low" figure, based on accounts by Red Crescent aid workers barred by the Americans from entering the city, residents still inside Fallujah, and refugees now huddling in camps in the desert near Fallujah. The refugees tell horror stories - including confirmation, already reported by Asia Times Online, of the Americans using cluster bombs and spraying white phosphorus, a banned chemical weapon.

The talk in the streets of Baghdad, always referring to accounts by families and friends in and around Fallujah, confirms that there have been hundreds of civilian deaths. Moreover, according to the Red Cross official, since September Allawi's Ministry of Health has not provided any medical supplies to hospitals and clinics in Fallujah: "The hospitals do not even have aspirin," he said, confirming many accounts in these past few days from despairing Fallujah doctors. The official spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of US military reprisal.

Even submitted to media blackout - an al-Arabiya reporter, for instance, was arrested by the Americans because he was trying to enter Fallujah - the Arab press is slowly waking up to the full extent of the tragedy, not only on networks such as al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya, but also in newspapers like the pro-American Saudi daily Asharq a-Awsat. Our sources say that most of Baghdad and the whole Sunni triangle is already convinced that the Americans "captured" Fallujah general hospital, bombed at least two clinics and are preventing the Red Crescent from delivering urgent help because as many bodies as possible must be removed before any independent observers have a chance to evaluate the real extent of the carnage.

Al-Jazeera continues to apologize for not offering more in-depth coverage, always reminding its viewers that its Baghdad bureau was shut down indefinitely by Allawi in August. But many in the Arab world saw its interview with Dr Asma Khamis al-Muhannadi of Fallujah's general hospital, invaded and "captured" by the marines. She confirmed that "we were tied up and beaten despite being unarmed and having only our medical instruments"; and that the hospital was targeted by bombs and rockets during the initial siege of Fallujah. When the marines came she "was with a woman in labor. The umbilical cord had not yet been cut. At that time, a US soldier shouted at one of the [Iraqi] National Guards to arrest me and tie my hands while I was helping the mother to deliver. I will never forget this incident in my life."

Crucially, Dr al-Muhannadi also confirmed that American snipers killed more than 17 Iraqi doctors who had mobilized to answer an appeal from Fallujah's doctors broadcast on al-Jazeera: information on the massacre has been circulating in Baghdad for days. Amnesty International, based on the account of a doctor at the scene, says that 20 Fallujah medical staff and dozens of civilians were killed when an American missile destroyed a clinic on November 9.

The failure of 'Iraqification'
On the military front, roughly 3,000 urban guerrillas with mortars, Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades have resisted more than 12,000 marines supported by F-16s, AC-130 gunships, Cobra and Apache helicopters, an array of missiles, 500-pound and 2,000-pound bombs, tanks and Bradleys. Sources in Baghdad close to the resistance tell Asia Times Online that at least 200 marines are dead, and more than 800 wounded. The Pentagon - exercising total media blackout - will only admit to about 50 dead and 350 wounded. Allawi and his cabinet are spinning more than 1,600 "insurgents" dead; the resistance so far only admits to a little more than 100.

The resistance says that dozens of marine snipers have taken six or seven positions along Tharthar Street, the main street leading to Ramadi, and a few buildings overlooking the Euphrates in western Fallujah. But residents seem to be free to move in the narrow alleyways: the Americans only control the main roads. According to resistance reports, the mujahideen are constantly changing their positions, moving apparently undetected inside the areas they still control and reinforcing different neighborhoods with more cells of five to 20 fighters each.

"Iraqification" - the Mesopotamian counterpart of Vietnamization - is floundering. After 19 months of occupation, the Pentagon still has not been able to put an Iraqi army in place. Baghdad sources confirm the backup plan has been to give US troops a counterinsurgency field manual. (The exhaustive 182-page document will be discussed in a separate article.)

During the Vietnam War, counterinsurgency was conducted by Special Forces. In Vietnam, the US simply did not understand that the force of the resistance was its complex clandestine infrastructure. By killing indiscriminately in covert operations like Operation Phoenix, the Americans totally alienated the average Vietnamese.

In Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (Penguin Press, New York, 2004), Tony Negri and Michael Hardt, discussing counterinsurgencies, point out how "guerrilla forces cannot survive without the support of the population and a superior knowledge of the social and physical terrain". They could be describing the guerrillas in the Sunni triangle. "Guerrillas force the dominant military power to live in a state of perpetual paranoia." In asymmetrical wars like Vietnam and Iraq, US counterinsurgency tactics must not only lead to a military victory but to control of the enemy with "social, political, ideological and psychological weapons". There's ample evidence these tactics are failing in Iraq.

Like a fish out of water
Negri and Hardt argue that in counterinsurgency "success does not require attacking the enemy directly but destroying the environment, physical and social, that supports it. Take away the water and the fish will die. This strategy of destroying the support environment led, for example, to indiscriminate bombings in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, to widespread killing, torture and harassment of peasants in Central and South America." This - "take away the water and the fish will die" - is exactly what's happening in Fallujah. And it won't work, because "the many noncombatants who suffer cannot be called collateral damage because they are in fact the direct targets, even if their destruction is really a means to attack the primary enemy". Fallujah's population has been the direct target this time - the "water" that was essential to the resistance "fish".

But the "fish" are always able to turn the tables "as the rebellious groups develop more complex, distributed network structures. As the enemy becomes increasingly dispersed, unlocalizable, and unknowable, the support environment becomes increasingly large and indiscriminate." This is exactly the post-Fallujah scenario - see The real fury of Fallujah, November 10.

The political infrastructure in Iraq controlled by the Ba'ath Party for many decades has integrated most of the Islamic resistance groups under its command with great efficiency. It has also managed to infiltrate and smash the Iraqi counterinsurgency force that the Americans were trying to assemble. The new counterinsurgency field manual means that unlike Vietnam, counterinsurgency is now being conducted by marines and GIs. Intuitively, the totally alienated population of the Sunni triangle (the "water") has already identified the threat.

Iraqification mimics Vietnamization in at least one aspect: the logic of collective punishment (once again "take away the water and the fish will die"). The Fallujah assault proved that for the Pentagon every Sunni Iraqi is the enemy.

The Pentagon maintains there are no civilians in Fallujah. The horror faced by these "invisible" civilians has not even begun to emerge, even though precision-strike democracy is being denounced by those who risked their lives to escape. The "water" is represented by the "invisible" civilian population in Fallujah.

In yet another echo of Vietnam, for the Pentagon any dead Iraqi in Fallujah is a dead guerrilla fighter - and just like in Vietnam this figure includes "noncombatants", women and children. In Fallujah, the Pentagon declared, after fully encircling the city, that women, children and the elderly might leave, but not men and boys from ages 15 to 55. This implies that most of the 50,000 to 100,000 civilians trapped in the city may be these men and boys - many with no taste for war - along with the unlucky elderly, women and children who were too poor to leave. But under Pentagon logic the problem is solved: everyone inside the city is a fighter. Thus no need for relief from the Iraqi Red Crescent or anyone else.

Counterinsurgency meets 'invisible' civilians
In a press conference in Baghdad, Allawi's Interior Minister Faleh Hassan al-Naqib finally was forced to admit what Asia Times Online and an array of independent media have been reporting since the spring of 2003: that the resistance spans the whole Sunni heartland, not only Fallujah and the Sunni triangle (a lot of "water" for a few thousand "fish"); that the resistance is unified under some form of central command and control, and is not a bunch of uncoordinated groups; that the majority, at least 95%, are Iraqis, and not "foreign fighters" (thus ridiculing the Pentagon's designation of the resistance as "anti-Iraqi forces"); that former Ba'ath Party officials and former Iraqi army officers are essential protagonists; and that they have prepared for urban guerrilla warfare long before the US invasion.

With Fallujah, the guerrilla strategy has changed. No more occupying a territory that could be organized as a safe haven (the city of Fallujah, for instance). The guerrillas are now network-centered. Negri and Hardt: "The network tends to transform every boundary into a threshold. Networks are in this sense essentially elusive, ephemeral, perpetually in flight ... And, even more frighteningly, the network can appear anywhere at any time." Think of the new Iraqi resistance as small, mobile armies striking in Baqubah, Samarra and Mosul, running away and melting into the local population, which fully supports them. This is pure Vietminh tactics - Saddam Hussein's officers were all keen students of the Vietnam War.

The Americans in Iraq are now confronting a network enemy. Negri and Hardt say that "confronting a network enemy can certainly throw an old form of power into a state of universal paranoia". Thus the fiction of "invisible" civilians in Fallujah. Thus the "capture" of Fallujah general hospital. Thus destroying Fallujah in order to "save it". Thus the marine executing a wounded man, on camera, inside a mosque. Thus the Vietnam nightmare all over again.

(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd.)

"I believe we are absolutely on the brink of failure. We are looking into the abyss," General Joseph Hoar, a former commander in chief of US central command, to the U.S. Senate foreign relations committee, 5/19/2004

"We are certainly not going to come out of this, with our reputation as a beacon for democracy intact. In fact, it's seriously damaged already."

Gen. Joseph P. Hoar (USMC-ret.), a four-star general, was Commander in Chief, U.S. Central Command (1991-94), commanding the U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf after the 1991 war. He was interviewed by Jeffrey Steinberg on May 6, 2004. Read the interview - "The Neo-Cons Have Had Their Day - Now It's Time for a Clean Sweep"


Take them out, dude: pilots toast hit on Iraqi civilians
Oct. 7, 2004

By Andrew Buncombe in The Independant

The Pentagon said yesterday it was investigating cockpit video footage that shows American pilots attacking and killing a group of apparently unarmed Iraqi civilians.

The 30-second clip shows the pilot targeting the group of people in a street in the city of Fallujah and asking his mission controllers whether he should "take them out". He is told to do so and, shortly afterwards, the footage shows a huge explosion where the people were. A second voice can be heard on the clip saying: "Oh, dude."

The existence of the video, taken last April inside the cockpit of a US F-16 fighter has been known for some time, though last night's broadcast by Channel 4 News is believed to be the first time a mainstream broadcaster has shown the footage.

At no point during the exchange between the pilot and controllers does anyone ask whether the Iraqis are armed or posing a threat. Critics say it proves war crimes are being committed.

Download the video The US pilot laughs and says "Oh dude" after killing a crowd of people, as if it were just another violent video game.

A Wall Street Journal Reporter's E-Mail to Friends
Oct. 2, 2004
by Farnaz Fassihi

10/02/04 "ICH" -- Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under virtual house arrest. Forget about the reasons that lured me to this job: a chance to see the world, explore the exotic, meet new people in far away lands, discover their ways and tell stories that could make a difference.

Little by little, day-by-day, being based in Iraq has defied all those reasons. I am house bound. I leave when I have a very good reason to and a scheduled interview. I avoid going to people's homes and never walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking news stories, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can't and can't. There has been one too many close calls, including a car bomb so near our house that it blew out all the windows. So now my most pressing concern every day is not to write a kick-ass story but to stay alive and make sure our Iraqi employees stay alive. In Baghdad I am a security personnel first, a reporter second.

It's hard to pinpoint when the 'turning point' exactly began. Was it April when the Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when Moqtada and Jish Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when Sadr City, home to ten percent of Iraq's population, became a nightly battlefield for the Americans? Or was it when the insurgency began spreading from isolated pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most of Iraq? Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.

Iraqis like to call this mess 'the situation.' When asked 'how are thing?' they reply: 'the situation is very bad."

What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn't control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country's roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health -- which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers -- has now stopped disclosing them.

Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.

A friend drove thru the Shiite slum of Sadr City yesterday. He said young men were openly placing improvised explosive devices into the ground. They melt a shallow hole into the asphalt, dig the explosive, cover it with dirt and put an old tire or plastic can over it to signal to the locals this is booby-trapped. He said on the main roads of Sadr City, there were a dozen landmines per every ten yards. His car snaked and swirled to avoid driving over them. Behind the walls sits an angry Iraqi ready to detonate them as soon as an American convoy gets near. This is in Shiite land, the population that was supposed to love America for liberating Iraq.

For journalists the significant turning point came with the wave of abduction and kidnappings. Only two weeks ago we felt safe around Baghdad because foreigners were being abducted on the roads and highways between towns. Then came a frantic phone call from a journalist female friend at 11 p.m. telling me two Italian women had been abducted from their homes in broad daylight. Then the two Americans, who got beheaded this week and the Brit, were abducted from their homes in a residential neighborhood. They were supplying the entire block with round the clock electricity from their generator to win friends. The abductors grabbed one of them at 6 a.m. when he came out to switch on the generator; his beheaded body was thrown back near the neighborhoods.

The insurgency, we are told, is rampant with no signs of calming down. If any thing, it is growing stronger, organized and more sophisticated every day. The various elements within it-baathists, criminals, nationalists and Al Qaeda-are cooperating and coordinating.

I went to an emergency meeting for foreign correspondents with the military and embassy to discuss the kidnappings. We were somberly told our fate would largely depend on where we were in the kidnapping chain once it was determined we were missing. Here is how it goes: criminal gangs grab you and sell you up to Baathists in Fallujah, who will in turn sell you to Al Qaeda. In turn, cash and weapons flow the other way from Al Qaeda to the Baathisst to the criminals. My friend Georges, the French journalist snatched on the road to Najaf, has been missing for a month with no word on release or whether he is still alive.

America's last hope for a quick exit? The Iraqi police and National Guard units we are spending billions of dollars to train. The cops are being murdered by the dozens every day-over 700 to date -- and the insurgents are infiltrating their ranks. The problem is so serious that the U.S. military has allocated $6 million dollars to buy out 30,000 cops they just trained to get rid of them quietly.

As for reconstruction: firstly it's so unsafe for foreigners to operate that almost all projects have come to a halt. After two years, of the $18 billion Congress appropriated for Iraq reconstruction only about $1 billion or so has been spent and a chuck has now been reallocated for improving security, a sign of just how bad things are going here.

Oil dreams? Insurgents disrupt oil flow routinely as a result of sabotage and oil prices have hit record high of $49 a barrel. Who did this war exactly benefit? Was it worth it? Are we safer because Saddam is holed up and Al Qaeda is running around in Iraq?

Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for insecurity. Guess what? They say they'd take security over freedom any day, even if it means having a dictator ruler.

I heard an educated Iraqi say today that if Saddam Hussein were allowed to run for elections he would get the majority of the vote. This is truly sad.

Then I went to see an Iraqi scholar this week to talk to him about elections here. He has been trying to educate the public on the importance of voting. He said, "President Bush wanted to turn Iraq into a democracy that would be an example for the Middle East. Forget about democracy, forget about being a model for the region, we have to salvage Iraq before all is lost."

One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of us on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it from its violent downward spiral. The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it can't be put back into a bottle.

The Iraqi government is talking about having elections in three months while half of the country remains a 'no go zone'-out of the hands of the government and the Americans and out of reach of journalists. In the other half, the disenchanted population is too terrified to show up at polling stations. The Sunnis have already said they'd boycott elections, leaving the stage open for polarized government of Kurds and Shiites that will not be deemed as legitimate and will most certainly lead to civil war.

I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family would participate in the Iraqi elections since it was the first time Iraqis could to some degree elect a leadership. His response summed it all: "Go and vote and risk being blown into pieces or followed by the insurgents and murdered for cooperating with the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you joking?"

Farnaz Fassihi, a Wall Street Journal reporter sent this report as an e-mail to friends.

It's Worse Than You Think - NEWSWEEK, Sept. 20 issue

"We're dealing with a population that hovers between bare tolerance and outright hostility," says a senior U.S. diplomat in Baghdad. "This idea of a functioning democracy here is crazy. We thought that there would be a reprieve after sovereignty, but all hell is breaking loose."

As Americans debate Vietnam, the U.S. death toll tops 1,000 in Iraq.
And the insurgents are still getting stronger

It's not only that U.S. casualty figures keep climbing. American counterinsurgency experts are noticing some disturbing trends in those statistics. The Defense Department counted 87 attacks per day on U.S. forces in August - the worst monthly average since Bush's flight-suited visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003. Preliminary analysis of the July and August numbers also suggests that U.S. troops are being attacked across a wider area of Iraq than ever before. And the number of gunshot casualties apparently took a huge jump in August. Until then, explosive devices and shrapnel were the primary cause of combat injuries, typical of a "phase two" insurgency, where sudden ambushes are the rule. (Phase one is the recruitment phase, with most actions confined to sabotage. That's how things started in Iraq.) Bullet wounds would mean the insurgents are standing and fighting - a step up to phase three.

Another ominous sign is the growing number of towns that U.S. troops simply avoid. A senior Defense official objects to calling them "no-go areas." "We could go into them any time we wanted," he argues. The preferred term is "insurgent enclaves." They're spreading. Counterinsurgency experts call it the "inkblot strategy": take control of several towns or villages and expand outward until the areas merge. The first city lost to the insurgents was Fallujah, in April. Now the list includes the Sunni Triangle cities of Ar Ramadi, Baqubah and Samarra, where power shifted back and forth between the insurgents and American-backed leaders last week. "There is no security force there [in Fallujah], no local government," says a senior U.S. military official in Baghdad. "We would get attacked constantly. Forget about it."

U.S. military planners only wish they could. "What we see is a classic progression," says Andrew Krepinevich, author of the highly respected study "The Army and Vietnam." "What we also see is that the U.S. military is not trained or organized to fight insurgencies. That was the deliberate choice after Vietnam. Now we look to be paying the price."

Report: U.S. Intelligence Pessimistic on Iraq Future
Sept. 16, 2004

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. intelligence officials prepared a report for President Bush in late July presenting a gloomy outlook for Iraq, saying that at worst the country might descend into civil war, The New York Times said on Thursday.

Citing government officials, the newspaper said the classified National Intelligence Estimate outlines three possible outcomes for Iraq through the end of 2005. The worst would be developments that could lead to civil war, and the best would be an Iraq with tenuous stability in political, economic and security terms.

The intelligence estimate, the first on Iraq since October 2002, was prepared by the National Intelligence Council and approved by a board under John McLaughlin, acting director of central intelligence. This estimate was initiated by the council under former CIA chief George Tenet, who stepped down in July. The conclusions were reached before the recent worsening of Iraq's security situation.

"There's a significant amount of pessimism," one government official who read the document, which runs about 50 pages, told the Times.

Far graver than Vietnam

Most senior US military officers now believe the war on Iraq has turned into a disaster on an unprecedented scale

Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday September 16, 2004

The Guardian

'Bring them on!" President Bush challenged the early Iraqi insurgency in July of last year. Since then, 812 American soldiers have been killed and 6,290 wounded, according to the Pentagon. Almost every day, in campaign speeches, Bush speaks with bravado about how he is "winning" in Iraq. "Our strategy is succeeding," he boasted to the National Guard convention on Tuesday.

But, according to the US military's leading strategists and prominent retired generals, Bush's war is already lost. Retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, told me: "Bush hasn't found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it's worse, he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost." He adds: "Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends."

Retired general Joseph Hoare, the former marine commandant and head of US Central Command, told me: "The idea that this is going to go the way these guys planned is ludicrous. There are no good options. We're conducting a campaign as though it were being conducted in Iowa, no sense of the realities on the ground. It's so unrealistic for anyone who knows that part of the world. The priorities are just all wrong."

Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the Air War College, said: "I see no ray of light on the horizon at all. The worst case has become true. There's no analogy whatsoever between the situation in Iraq and the advantages we had after the second world war in Germany and Japan."

W Andrew Terrill, professor at the Army War College's strategic studies institute - and the top expert on Iraq there - said: "I don't think that you can kill the insurgency". According to Terrill, the anti-US insurgency, centred in the Sunni triangle, and holding several cities and towns - including Fallujah - is expanding and becoming more capable as a consequence of US policy.

"We have a growing, maturing insurgency group," he told me. "We see larger and more coordinated military attacks. They are getting better and they can self-regenerate. The idea there are x number of insurgents, and that when they're all dead we can get out is wrong. The insurgency has shown an ability to regenerate itself because there are people willing to fill the ranks of those who are killed. The political culture is more hostile to the US presence. The longer we stay, the more they are confirmed in that view."

After the killing of four US contractors in Fallujah, the marines besieged the city for three weeks in April - the watershed event for the insurgency. "I think the president ordered the attack on Fallujah," said General Hoare. "I asked a three-star marine general who gave the order to go to Fallujah and he wouldn't tell me. I came to the conclusion that the order came directly from the White House." Then, just as suddenly, the order was rescinded, and Islamist radicals gained control, using the city as a base.

"If you are a Muslim and the community is under occupation by a non-Islamic power it becomes a religious requirement to resist that occupation," Terrill explained. "Most Iraqis consider us occupiers, not liberators." He describes the religious imagery common now in Fallujah and the Sunni triangle: "There's talk of angels and the Prophet Mohammed coming down from heaven to lead the fighting, talk of martyrs whose bodies are glowing and emanating wonderful scents."

"I see no exit," said Record. "We've been down that road before. It's called Vietnamisation. The idea that we're going to have an Iraqi force trained to defeat an enemy we can't defeat stretches the imagination. They will be tainted by their very association with the foreign occupier. In fact, we had more time and money in state building in Vietnam than in Iraq."

General Odom said: "This is far graver than Vietnam. There wasn't as much at stake strategically, though in both cases we mindlessly went ahead with the war that was not constructive for US aims. But now we're in a region far more volatile, and we're in much worse shape with our allies."

Terrill believes that any sustained US military offensive against the no-go areas "could become so controversial that members of the Iraqi government would feel compelled to resign". Thus, an attempted military solution would destroy the slightest remaining political legitimacy. "If we leave and there's no civil war, that's a victory."

General Hoare believes from the information he has received that "a decision has been made" to attack Fallujah "after the first Tuesday in November. That's the cynical part of it - after the election. The signs are all there."

He compares any such planned attack to the late Syrian dictator Hafez al-Asad's razing of the rebel city of Hama. "You could flatten it," said Hoare. "US military forces would prevail, casualties would be high, there would be inconclusive results with respect to the bad guys, their leadership would escape, and civilians would be caught in the middle. I hate that phrase collateral damage. And they talked about dancing in the street, a beacon for democracy."

General Odom remarked that the tension between the Bush administration and the senior military officers over Iraqi was worse than any he has ever seen with any previous government, including Vietnam. "I've never seen it so bad between the office of the secretary of defence and the military. There's a significant majority believing this is a disaster. The two parties whose interests have been advanced have been the Iranians and al-Qaida. Bin Laden could argue with some cogency that our going into Iraq was the equivalent of the Germans in Stalingrad. They defeated themselves by pouring more in there. Tragic."

? Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, is Washington bureau chief of salon.com

Guardian Unlimited ? Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

Atrocities in Iraq: 'I killed innocent people for our government'

By Paul Rockwell -- Special to The Bee
Published Sunday, May 16, 2004

For nearly 12 years, Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey was a hard-core, some say gung-ho, Marine. For three years he trained fellow Marines in one of the most grueling indoctrination rituals in military life - Marine boot camp.

The Iraq war changed Massey. The brutality, the sheer carnage of the U.S. invasion, touched his conscience and transformed him forever. He was honorably discharged with full severance last Dec. 31 and is now back in his hometown, Waynsville, N.C.

When I talked with Massey last week, he expressed his remorse at the civilian loss of life in incidents in which he himself was involved.

Q: You spent 12 years in the Marines. When were you sent to Iraq?

A: I went to Kuwait around Jan. 17. I was in Iraq from the get-go. And I was involved in the initial invasion.

Q: What does the public need to know about your experiences as a Marine?

A: The cause of the Iraqi revolt against the American occupation. What they need to know is we killed a lot of innocent people. I think at first the Iraqis had the understanding that casualties are a part of war. But over the course of time, the occupation hurt the Iraqis. And I didn't see any humanitarian support.

Q: What experiences turned you against the war and made you leave the Marines?

A: I was in charge of a platoon that consists of machine gunners and missile men. Our job was to go into certain areas of the towns and secure the roadways. There was this one particular incident - and there's many more - the one that really pushed me over the edge. It involved a car with Iraqi civilians. From all the intelligence reports we were getting, the cars were loaded down with suicide bombs or material. That's the rhetoric we received from intelligence. They came upon our checkpoint. We fired some warning shots. They didn't slow down. So we lit them up.

Q: Lit up? You mean you fired machine guns?

A: Right. Every car that we lit up we were expecting ammunition to go off. But we never heard any. Well, this particular vehicle we didn't destroy completely, and one gentleman looked up at me and said: "Why did you kill my brother? We didn't do anything wrong." That hit me like a ton of bricks.

Q: He spoke English?

A: Oh, yeah.

Q: Baghdad was being bombed. The civilians were trying to get out, right?

A: Yes. They received pamphlets, propaganda we dropped on them. It said, "Just throw up your hands, lay down weapons." That's what they were doing, but we were still lighting them up. They weren't in uniform. We never found any weapons.

Q: You got to see the bodies and casualties?

A: Yeah, firsthand. I helped throw them in a ditch.

Q: Over what period did all this take place?

A: During the invasion of Baghdad.

'We lit him up pretty good'

Q: How many times were you involved in checkpoint "light-ups"?

A: Five times. There was [the city of] Rekha. The gentleman was driving a stolen work utility van. He didn't stop. With us being trigger happy, we didn't really give this guy much of a chance. We lit him up pretty good. Then we inspected the back of the van. We found nothing. No explosives.

Q: The reports said the cars were loaded with explosives. In all the incidents did you find that to be the case?

A: Never. Not once. There were no secondary explosions. As a matter of fact, we lit up a rally after we heard a stray gunshot.

Q: A demonstration? Where?

A: On the outskirts of Baghdad. Near a military compound. There were demonstrators at the end of the street. They were young and they had no weapons. And when we rolled onto the scene, there was already a tank that was parked on the side of the road. If the Iraqis wanted to do something, they could have blown up the tank. But they didn't. They were only holding a demonstration. Down at the end of the road, we saw some RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) lined up against the wall. That put us at ease because we thought: "Wow, if they were going to blow us up, they would have done it."

Q: Were the protest signs in English or Arabic?

A: Both.

Q: Who gave the order to wipe the demonstrators out?

A: Higher command. We were told to be on the lookout for the civilians because a lot of the Fedayeen and the Republican Guards had tossed away uniforms and put on civilian clothes and were mounting terrorist attacks on American soldiers. The intelligence reports that were given to us were basically known by every member of the chain of command. The rank structure that was implemented in Iraq by the chain of command was evident to every Marine in Iraq. The order to shoot the demonstrators, I believe, came from senior government officials, including intelligence communities within the military and the U.S. government.

Q: What kind of firepower was employed?

A: M-16s, 50-cal. machine guns.

Q: You fired into six or ten kids? Were they all taken out?

A: Oh, yeah. Well, I had a "mercy" on one guy. When we rolled up, he was hiding behind a concrete pillar. I saw him and raised my weapon up, and he put up his hands. He ran off. I told everybody, "Don't shoot." Half of his foot was trailing behind him. So he was running with half of his foot cut off.

Q: After you lit up the demonstration, how long before the next incident?

A: Probably about one or two hours. This is another thing, too. I am so glad I am talking with you, because I suppressed all of this.

Q: Well, I appreciate you giving me the information, as hard as it must be to recall the painful details.

A: That's all right. It's kind of therapy for me. Because it's something that I had repressed for a long time.

Q: And the incident?

A: There was an incident with one of the cars. We shot an individual with his hands up. He got out of the car. He was badly shot. We lit him up. I don't know who started shooting first. One of the Marines came running over to where we were and said: "You all just shot a guy with his hands up." Man, I forgot about this.

Depleted uranium and cluster bombs

Q: You mention machine guns. What can you tell me about cluster bombs, or depleted uranium?

A: Depleted uranium. I know what it does. It's basically like leaving plutonium rods around. I'm 32 years old. I have 80 percent of my lung capacity. I ache all the time. I don't feel like a healthy 32-year-old.

Q: Were you in the vicinity of of depleted uranium?

A: Oh, yeah. It's everywhere. DU is everywhere on the battlefield. If you hit a tank, there's dust.

Q: Did you breath any dust?

A: Yeah.

Q: And if DU is affecting you or our troops, it's impacting Iraqi civilians.

A: Oh, yeah. They got a big wasteland problem.

Q: Do Marines have any precautions about dealing with DU?

A: Not that I know of. Well, if a tank gets hit, crews are detained for a little while to make sure there are no signs or symptoms. American tanks have depleted uranium on the sides, and the projectiles have DU in them. If an enemy vehicle gets hit, the area gets contaminated. Dead rounds are in the ground. The civilian populace is just now starting to learn about it. Hell, I didn't even know about DU until two years ago. You know how I found out about it? I read an article in Rolling Stone magazine. I just started inquiring about it, and I said "Holy s---!"

Q: Cluster bombs are also controversial. U.N. commissions have called for a ban. Were you acquainted with cluster bombs?

A: I had one of my Marines in my battalion who lost his leg from an ICBM.

Q: What's an ICBM?

A: A multi-purpose cluster bomb.

Q: What happened?

A: He stepped on it. We didn't get to training about clusters until about a month before I left.

Q: What kind of training?

A: They told us what they looked like, and not to step on them.

Q: Were you in any areas where they were dropped?

A: Oh, yeah. They were everywhere.

Q: Dropped from the air?

A: From the air as well as artillery.

Q: Are they dropped far away from cities, or inside the cities?

A: They are used everywhere. Now if you talked to a Marine artillery officer, he would give you the runaround, the politically correct answer. But for an average grunt, they're everywhere.

Q: Including inside the towns and cities?

A: Yes, if you were going into a city, you knew there were going to be ICBMs.

Q: Cluster bombs are anti-personnel weapons. They are not precise. They don't injure buildings, or hurt tanks. Only people and living things. There are a lot of undetonated duds and they go off after the battles are over.

A: Once the round leaves the tube, the cluster bomb has a mind of its own. There's always human error. I'm going to tell you: The armed forces are in a tight spot over there. It's starting to leak out about the civilian casualties that are taking place. The Iraqis know. I keep hearing reports from my Marine buddies inside that there were 200-something civilians killed in Fallujah. The military is scrambling right now to keep the raps on that. My understanding is Fallujah is just littered with civilian bodies.

Embedded reporters

Q: How are the embedded reporters responding?

A: I had embedded reporters in my unit, not my platoon. One we had was a South African reporter. He was scared s---less. We had an incident where one of them wanted to go home.

Q: Why?

A: It was when we started going into Baghdad. When he started seeing the civilian casualties, he started wigging out a little bit. It didn't start until we got on the outskirts of Baghdad and started taking civilian casualties.

Q: I would like to go back to the first incident, when the survivor asked why did you kill his brother. Was that the incident that pushed you over the edge, as you put it?

A: Oh, yeah. Later on I found out that was a typical day. I talked with my commanding officer after the incident. He came up to me and says: "Are you OK?" I said: "No, today is not a good day. We killed a bunch of civilians." He goes: "No, today was a good day." And when he said that, I said "Oh, my goodness, what the hell am I into?"

Q: Your feelings changed during the invasion. What was your state of mind before the invasion?

A: I was like every other troop. My president told me they got weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam threatened the free world, that he had all this might and could reach us anywhere. I just bought into the whole thing.

Q: What changed you?

A: The civilian casualties taking place. That was what made the difference. That was when I changed.

Q: Did the revelations that the government fabricated the evidence for war affect the troops?

A: Yes. I killed innocent people for our government. For what? What did I do? Where is the good coming out of it? I feel like I've had a hand in some sort of evil lie at the hands of our government. I just feel embarrassed, ashamed about it.

Showdown with superiors

Q: I understand that all the incidents - killing civilians at checkpoints, itchy fingers at the rally - weigh on you. What happened with your commanding officers? How did you deal with them?

A: There was an incident. It was right after the fall of Baghdad, when we went back down south. On the outskirts of Karbala, we had a morning meeting on the battle plan. I was not in a good mindset. All these things were going through my head - about what we were doing over there. About some of the things my troops were asking. I was holding it all inside. My lieutenant and I got into a conversation. The conversation was striking me wrong. And I lashed out. I looked at him and told him: "You know, I honestly feel that what we're doing is wrong over here. We're committing genocide."

He asked me something and I said that with the killing of civilians and the depleted uranium we're leaving over here, we're not going to have to worry about terrorists. He didn't like that. He got up and stormed off. And I knew right then and there that my career was over. I was talking to my commanding officer.

Q: What happened then?

A: After I talked to the top commander, I was kind of scurried away. I was basically put on house arrest. I didn't talk to other troops. I didn't want to hurt them. I didn't want to jeopardize them.

I want to help people. I felt strongly about it. I had to say something. When I was sent back to stateside, I went in front of the sergeant major. He's in charge of 3,500-plus Marines. "Sir," I told him, "I don't want your money. I don't want your benefits. What you did was wrong."

It was just a personal conviction with me. I've had an impeccable career. I chose to get out. And you know who I blame? I blame the president of the U.S. It's not the grunt. I blame the president because he said they had weapons of mass destruction. It was a lie.

Testing of New York guardsmen: first confirmed cases of Iraq war depleted uranium exposure --by Joanne Laurier "A group of American soldiers suffering from unexplained illnesses due to service in the Iraqi war have been diagnosed with radiation contamination likely caused by dust from depleted uranium shells fired by US troops... The testing organized by the Daily News on a handful of members of one company yielded results that point to the fact that thousands of US troops and a vast percentage of the Iraqi population are likely to have suffered exposure to depleted uranium, absorbing it either by inhaling contaminated dust or ingesting it from contaminated water, food and soil."

80% in Iraq Distrust Occupation Authority

Results of Poll, Taken Before Prison Scandal Came to Light, Worry U.S. Officials

By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 13, 2004; Page A10

Four out of five Iraqis report holding a negative view of the U.S. occupation authority and of coalition forces, according to a new poll conducted for the occupation authority.

In the poll, 80 percent of the Iraqis questioned reported a lack of confidence in the Coalition Provisional Authority, and 82 percent said they disapprove of the U.S. and allied militaries in Iraq.

The new polling data, which have not been publicly released, are provoking concern among occupation authority officials and in Washington because they provide additional evidence that the U.S. effort in Iraq is not winning over Iraqi public opinion. The Bush administration and the U.S. military have said that the keys to the United States achieving its goals in Iraq are winning at least mild support from most Iraqis and creating Iraqi forces to provide security.

The new data reflect the fact that "the occupation, and the occupation forces, are getting increasingly unpopular," said Jeffrey White, a former Middle Eastern affairs analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency. In recent months, he said, "A lot of people, including me, have been getting very pessimistic."

Overall, 63 percent of those polled said security was the most urgent issue facing Iraq. In addition to Baghdad, the poll was conducted in the northern city of Mosul and the southern cities of Basra, Nasiriyah and Karbala. Some questions also were asked in the troubled western town of Ramadi.

In the poll, which was taken just before the April uprising of the militia led by radical Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr, a large proportion of Iraqis from the central and southern parts of the country said they backed him, with 45 percent of those in Baghdad saying they support him, and 67 percent in Basra.

Those numbers are striking because the U.S. military and the occupation authority have declared Sadr a public enemy whom they want to kill or capture. The Army has been maneuvering in central Iraq for weeks, occasionally fighting parts of his militia but avoiding a head-on clash in the holy city of Najaf. Yesterday, U.S. tanks and helicopters fought his militia in Karbala.

There were a few bright spots in the poll. The Iraqi police received a 79 percent positive rating, the best of the seven institutions about which questions were asked. The reformed Iraqi army was not far behind, with a 61 percent positive rating.

Those polled were broadly divided on who should appoint the interim government that is supposed to take over limited power from the occupation authority at the end of June. The largest group, 27 percent, said the Iraqi people should appoint the new leaders, while 23 percent said judges should. Only one-tenth of 1 percent said that the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council should name the government, which is supposed to run Iraq until elections are held next year. None said the occupation authority should.

Indicating a general skepticism of foreign involvement in their political future, 83 percent of those polled said that only Iraqis should be involved in supervising the 2005 elections.

The poll's findings appeared consistent with one taken about the same time in Iraq by USA Today, CNN and Gallup, which found that 57 percent of Iraqis wanted foreign troops to leave immediately.

Iraq children's plight worse than under Saddam
May 12, 2004

LONDON (AFP) - Iraqi children are living in conditions worse than those endured under Saddam Hussein's regime and US sanctions, a children's rights organization said, warning that they were experiencing a "humanitarian catastrophe".

"Every child has some level of psychological trauma," said Jo Baker, director of the London-based Child Victims of War.

"I have been to Iraq under Saddam and sanctions -- most people know how bad things were -- but what has happened this year has plunged Iraq into a plight which is actually far, far worse."

"If it is worse than sanctions and Saddam, then we are really talking about a humanitarian catastrophe," Baker said.

The organization voiced worry over children detained by the US-led coalition in Iraq, in light of revelations of torture in the US and British prisons there.

It also warned that the US-led coalition's use of weapons containing depleted uranium was producing horrible birth defects and high cancer rates in Iraq.

Leukemia and other cancers have gone up in Iraq since the war, as have births of children with deformities, especially shrunken limbs and missing eyes, and still births, it said.

"We have discovered not one single batch of medicines has arrived in any hospital since occupation except those getting through carried by NGOs (non-governmental organizations)," Baker added.


Click here if you want to know more about what's really going on in Iraq

THE VIETNAM INVASION

Herbert Hoover, later to become President of the United States did a study that showed that one of the world's largest oil fields ran along the coast of the South China Sea right off French Indo-China, now known as Vietnam.
- Denny, Ludwell, We Fight of Oil, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1928.




A US Air Force C-123 plane drops Agent Orange, code name for a herbicide developed for the military, on jungle during Vietnam war, 3 March 1967.(AFP/UPI-HO/File)

US analyst Ludwell Denny in his book "We Fight for Oil" noted the domestic oil shortage and says international diplomacy had failed to secure any reliable foreign sources of oil for the United States. Fear of oil shortages would become the most important factor in international relations, Denny said.

"That empire in Southeast Asia is the last major resource area outside the control of any one of the major powers of the globe....I believe that the condition of the Vietnamese people, and the direction in which their future may be going, are at this stage secondary, not primary." (Senator McGee, D-Wyo., in the U.S. Senate, Feb. 17, 1965)

In a 1965 speech in Asia, Richard Nixon argued in favor of bombing North Vietnam to protect the "immense mineral potential" of Indonesia, which he later referred to as "by far the greatest prize in the southeast Asian area."

To protect its prizes, the US eventually killed over four million people in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos between 1965 and 1975. In South Vietnam alone, the war resulted in a million widows and 879,000 orphans. It destroyed 9000 out of 15,000 hamlets, almost 40,000 square miles of farmland and 18,750 square miles of forest. - Learn the real reason for the U.S. invasion of Vietnam...OIL


Bush Energy Policy Fuels Terrorists - former CIA Director

WASHINGTON, DC, September 11, 2002 (ENS) - The Bush Administration must rethink its energy policy if it is to succeed in the war on terrorism, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director James Woolsey said today.

Speaking on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon at the independent energy and environmental research center, Resources for the Future, Woolsey said, "I have not been pleased with the president's energy policy, to put it mildly," Woolsey said. "I admire President Bush's effort in the fight against terror, but his energy policy goes against what he is trying to accomplish in that war."

Woolsey said people in the Middle East have some justification in thinking the U.S. has but one interest in the region - oil.

"They think we want to use it as a gas station, that we have no interest in the people," Woolsey explained. "They perceive that America is in bed with their own oppressive regimes, and believe our lack of willingness to stand up for human rights in their countries is based on our thirst and appetite for oil."


America's dependence on oil to fuel it's wasteful consumerist society is like a cocaine addict who has squandered his inheritance feeding his addictions, and is now cashing in his children's trust fund, which he hopes to recoup on a gambling trip to Las Vegas. He gets his cocaine in the ghetto. He has safe passage there, the drug gangs protect him because he is such a good customer. He buys the gang a pit bull that has been trained to kill, to help protect his "interests" in the ghetto. The pit bull escaped, and bit the hell out of the guy. That's the cause of terrorism, it's not because "they hate freedoms", as our dimwitted presidunce claims, and his credulous, brainwashed followers believe.

Transcript of an intercepted conversation, somewhere in the Middle East:

EVILDOER 1: Abdul, you know that place America? They have freedoms there.

EVILDOER 2: Freedoms? I HATE THAT! We must raise millions of dollars, set up an international terrorist organizization and attack them with weapons of mass destruction immediately!

As absurd as that scenario is, most Americans believe it, because they need to believe it. Their whole world is based on lies. One tiny bit of truth makes it all start to fall apart like a house of cards.

Listen to Bush lie about Iraq/WMD | Read the many Bush WMD lies


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is a multi-partisan activist group established to expose the Bush coup d'etat,
and to oppose the Bush occupation in all of its manifestations.


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