textonly.com :: Iraq

May 20, 2008

The Most Curious Thing

Fascinating article in the NY Times by Errol Morris, The Most Curious Thing :

"In picture 2728 she is showing a social smile or a smile for the camera. The signs of an actual enjoyment smile are just not there. There’s no sign of any negative emotion. She’s doing what people always do when they pose for a camera. They put on a big, broad smile, but they’re not actually genuinely enjoying themselves. We would see movement in the eye cover fold. That’s the area of the skin below the eyebrow before the eyelid. And it moves slightly down only with genuine enjoyment. … In one of her pictures I get a chance to see her with no emotion on her face. That’s picture 4034. So I can see what the eye cover fold looks like when she’s not smiling. And it’s just the same as with the smile. That’s the crucial difference between what I call a Duchenne smile, the true smile of enjoyment, named after the French neurologist who first made this discovery in 1862, and the forced smile, the social smile."

Posted on: May 20, 2008 05:21 AM | Link: The Most Curious Thing | Comments: (0)

April 04, 2008

Defeat

This sounds like an excellent new book about the mess of the Iraq war:

On November 19 2002, four months before the invasion of Iraq, Tony Blair made a rare attempt to seek out expert views beyond the circle of his official advisers. Six distinguished academics were invited to Downing Street: three specialists on Iraq, and three on international security. George Joffe, an Arabist from Cambridge University, and Charles Tripp and Toby Dodge, who had both written books on Iraq's history, made opening statements of about five minutes each. They decided not to alienate the prime minister by discussing whether an invasion was sensible or necessary, but only what its consequences might be.

"We all pretty much said the same thing," Joffe recalls. "Iraq is a very complicated country, there are tremendous intercommunal resentments, and don't imagine you'll be welcomed." He remembers how Blair reacted. "He looked at me and said, 'But the man's uniquely evil, isn't he?' I was a bit nonplussed. It didn't seem to be very relevant." Recovering, Joffe went on to argue that Saddam was constrained by various factors, to which Blair merely repeated his first point: "He can make choices, can't he?" As Joffe puts it, "He meant he can choose to be good or evil, I suppose."

Joffe got the impression of "someone with a very shallow mind, who's not interested in issues other than the personalities of the top people, no interest in social forces, political trends, etc".

Dodge also struggled to convince Blair of the obstacles that would face anyone who occupied Iraq. "Much of the rhetoric from Washington appeared to depict Saddam's regime as something separate from Iraqi society," he remembers. "All you had to do was remove him and the 60 bad men around him. What we wanted to get across was that over 35 years the regime had embedded itself into Iraqi society, broken it down and totally transformed it. We would be going into a vacuum, where there were no allies to be found, except possibly for the Kurds."

The experts didn't seem to make much of an impression. Blair "wasn't focused", Tripp recalls. "I felt he wanted us to reinforce his gut instinct that Saddam was a monster. It was a weird mixture of total cynicism and moral fervour."

The brief meeting was unique. "I can't remember participating in any meaningful seminar on Iraq with the Foreign Office," Tripp says. "We were not asked to brief officials in the Middle East department."

More here from The Guardian.

Posted on: April 4, 2008 05:22 PM | Link: Defeat | Comments: (0)

September 15, 2007

American War Culture in a nutshell

These hawks who never fought for anything are particularly sickening. Greenwald has some observations:

"Fred Kagan, along with his writing partner Bill Kristol, specializes in planning and advocating more wars, always from afar. His family has a tradition of doing the same. His dad, whose career he has copied, is Donald Kagan, whom The Washington Post described as "a beloved father figure of the ascendant neoconservative movement." Several years ago, Fred co-wrote a book with his dad arguing that America is too afraid to fight wars and "that it will be in the world's ultimate interest for the United States to remain militarily strong and unafraid of a fight." Neither has ever fought anything."

Posted on: September 15, 2007 01:18 PM | Link: American War Culture in a nutshell | Comments: (0)

May 23, 2007

Something has changed

23search-5-600.jpg

23search-450.jpgI can't remember ever seeing a picture or pictures of wounded American soldiers like this on the NY Times website. This marks a change - and the beginning of the end I think. Slowly, maybe, the powers that be are going to let America in on this mess in the ways they can - like these photos.


Posted on: May 23, 2007 10:33 AM | Link: Something has changed | Comments: (0)

April 27, 2007

Cheney

Mr. Tenet described with sarcasm watching an episode of “Meet the Press” last September in which Mr. Cheney twice referred to Mr. Tenet’s “slam dunk” remark as the basis for the decision to go to war.

“I remember watching and thinking, ‘As if you needed me to say ‘slam dunk’ to convince you to go to war with Iraq,’ ” Mr. Tenet writes.

More here.

Posted on: April 27, 2007 03:06 AM | Link: Cheney | Comments: (0)

March 02, 2007

Compare And Contrast

Weekly Standard Editor, Fox News pundit, and TIME Magazine columnist Bill Kristol just after the Iraq War started:

"There's a certain amount of pop psychology in America that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular."

With this story from the NY Times today:

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2 Iraqi Soccer Players Killed in Front of Crowd

BAGHDAD, Mar. 2 — Two soccer players were murdered in front of their teammates in Ramadi, witnesses said, and a group of Interior Ministry employees were abducted in Diyala province as brutal sectarian violence continued to rage across much of Iraq.

Witnesses said that the masked gunmen who shot the two soccer players execution-style accused the two men of collaborating with a Sunni group with ties to the American occupation authorities.

As the sun set on Thursday, three cars carrying 10 men drove up to a community playground a few hundred feet from Ramadi’s main government building, where a friendly soccer match was underway between two neighborhood teams. The men poured out of the cars and seized the two players — Muhammad Hammed Nawaf and Muhammad Meshaan, both in their 20s.

The assailants tied the players’ hands and tried to drag them toward the cars, but the players resisted and struggled.

“Muhammad tried to run away, but he stumbled on a rock, fell on the ground, and the armed men shot him dead at once,” said Khalid Al-Ghargholi, the manager of the Ramadi team, speaking of Mr. Meshaan. “They started yelling, ‘This is the destiny of anyone who works with secret police.’ ”

Mr. Ghargholi said that the gunmen were referring to the Salvation Council of Anbar, a group led by a Sunni sheik, Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi, who has opposed armed groups in the area and has ties with the Iraqi government and the Americans.

After his teammate was killed, Mr. Nawaf challenged the men to free him. “He said, ‘If you have anything against me, shoot me, but if not, leave me alone,’ ” Mr. Ghargholi related.

Spectators at the soccer match froze, fearing for their own lives, as the gunmen grabbed the two players, according to Mr. Nawaf’s father, Hameed Nawaf Al-Zuali. “They killed them before the audience,” he said through tears, “and nobody moved to help them.”

Maj. Tareq Yussef of the Ramadi police corroborated the witnesses’ reports and said, “The killers are from Ramadi for certain.” It was not clear whether there would be any effort made to apprehend them.

Revenge was the stated motive in the kidnapping of 18 employees of the Iraqi Ministry of Interior in Diyala Province.

A Sunni Arab militant group called the Islamic State of Iraq posted a statement on a militant web site today claiming responsibility for the kidnappings, and said they were in retaliation for the rape of a Sunni Arab woman by members of the Shiite-dominated police force. The group demanded that the government immediately turn over the men responsible for the rape and free all Sunni women prisoners.

The web posting included a photo that showed the 18 men, blindfolded and with their hands apparently tied behind their backs. Seven wore Iraqi army uniforms.

Late in the day, the group announced that it would kill the men because the Iraqi government had failed to meet its demands.

The Interior Ministry said that the bodies were found today of 14 police officers who disappeared late Thursday as they traveled from Baqouba to Khalis. It was unclear whether the 14 were among the group of 18 abductees claimed by the militant group, or represented a separate incident.

Diyala has become a center of the sectarian conflict in Iraq, especially in the days since Iraqi and American forces began a stepped-up effort to secure Baghdad. Some 42 Americans have been killed in Diyala in the last six months, in contrast with just two over the six-month period before that, according to icasualties.org, which tracks military deaths by province.

The mass kidnapping is the latest incident in a long-running and bloody battle between Sunni Arab insurgents and gangs, who effectively control much of Diyala, and the Shiite militias and Shiite-dominated Iraqi security forces, which the insurgents regard as one and the same.

Diyala’s population of about 1.4 million is half Sunni Arab, but the levers of power are controlled by Shiites who, according to American military officials, have made plain their intention to hold sway over the strategic province permanently.

Fighting near the largely Sunni city of Falluja continued today, and a car bomb detonated near a used-car market in the Shiite-dominated eastern side of Baghdad killed 4 and injured 20.

Two soldiers and their Iraqi interpreter who were attached to Multinational Division Baghdad died today when a roadside bomb exploded as they searched for improvised explosives on a heavily traveled route to the northwestern part of the capital.

These events, as well as signals of likely resistance to the new Baghdad security plan in the largely Shiite, densely populated Sadr City neighborhood, emphasized again the difficulties that Iraqis and Americans face in trying to bring even a semblance of stability to the populous central swath of the country.

Bill Kristol - leading conservative thinker, son of a famous conservative, card carrying Neoconservative, chairman (!) of PNAC (We Kill You First INC.), war promoter, popular television talking head, influential Washington insider, etc. etc. Bill Kristol doesn't have a FUCKING CLUE about Iraq and never did - if he was ever to witness a scene like a double homicide at a friendly soccer match he WOULD SHIT HIS PANTS AND FAINT.

Dear Bill Kristol,
The blood of more than 3,000 Americans and countless Iraqis is on your hands. I hope you sleep well at night Bill, you asshole.

Posted on: March 2, 2007 07:18 PM | Link: Compare And Contrast | Comments: (0)

February 22, 2007

Yeah, sounds like any big city...

When are the citizens of the United States going to come to grips with what has been done in our names in Iraq? Here is just part of an account from a college professor who visited in December 2006:

What’s in Baghdad

At first sight, the city looked more damaged and brutally wounded, and more devastated than when I left it last year. Not a single hour passes without one hearing an explosion, a car bomb, or devastated women and children screaming for help. I saw people running from a suicide bomber and others trying to pull bodies from a fire. Sirens from ambulances and police cars and helicopters flying day and night all over the city all join in to create a constant roar of horrible noises.

My beloved Baghdad has a 9 p.m. curfew. The government-run power plants provide residential electricity one hour a day, but not every day. Private sources of electricity are available at very high rates so they are only for people who can afford the high rates. One source is a man located at the end of the block from where I’m staying. He runs a huge generator, and his deal is $100/month for four hours of electricity a day. If we remember that the average salary of an Iraqi college graduate is only $300/month, then we have to agree that the price is a little steep. Most of the people are jobless due to lack of security, the fear of kidnapping, and all the other atrocities being committed on a daily basis. Others buy their own generator run on either gasoline or benzene, which cost about $5/gallon. This is also sold by a private enterprise and the supplies are not always available. Therefore, people look for a few liters of fuel in the black market and pay double if not triple the cost.

Drivers line their cars up at gas stations where they often have to stay all night and sometimes for two days in a row, all while taking the risk of getting shot at by terrorists who thrive on finding crowds in open areas. These kinds of attacks are always on the news.

There is also a rationing of water in Baghdad. Some use water pumps to get additional water, which worsens water shortages and causes friction between neighbors, especially with those who can’t afford powering a water pump.

The continuous shortage of fuel is hard to imagine in Iraq, as it is one of the top producers of petroleum oil in the world. Thousands of barrels of this precious commodity are either smuggled out of Iraq or sold by shrewd businessmen to Iran and other neighboring countries. This transportation occurs right under the noses of the Iraqi and the coalition forces.

The shortages of electricity, fuel and water are tolerable among the Iraqis when compared to the concerns for security and safety. People in Baghdad and other cities who leave their houses face any of the following disasters:

1. Being kidnapped for a hefty ransom. This is a huge business and a very good source of income for insurgents. The minimum ransom demand is $20,000 and often goes up to a million dollars. Talk on the street is that if the ransom is not paid within 24 hours, those kidnapped are simply killed. One FBI agent also said that 90 percent of the kidnapped people don’t return alive to their families. A daily task by some police units is to retrieve bodies from the Tigris River. An office at the American Embassy in Baghdad was established to help with ransom demands, in extreme cases.

2. Being hurt or killed by a car bomb. Car bombs go off in every corner of the city a few times a day.

3. Being injured or killed by suicide bombers: … The goal was to kill those who escaped the first blasts and also those who rush to rescue the victims will be killed the second time around. The suicide bombers are religious extremists who belong to a certain branch in Islam, and they believe strongly that killing even innocent people is a short cut for them to get to heaven, where they get awarded with villas and virgins galore. So the more they kill, the better their rewards.

4. Being attacked by snipers, who are in motorcycles or in private cars. Some even wear police uniforms with heads and faces hidden. They shoot randomly at crowds in streets and open markets.

Besides all that, in some extremely dangerous cities, families are forced by gunmen to leave their houses and everything behind. A very common scene in some neighborhoods is seeing a whole family with children knocking at doors begging for food and a place to stay.

You may ask why don’t they go to the police or call the government. Yes, Iraqi police can be found; however, most of the Iraqis don’t trust them. Some work directly with the insurgents; others are very corrupt and will do anything for money or just a little power. I also learned that the government at one time was so desperate for police that they hired criminals who escaped from prisons without checking their backgrounds. As a result, some criminals are not only getting a good salary but also guns, cars and power. I have to be fair here and say, there are decent and honorable policemen who want to fight terrorists and corruption but they have no power and/or no saying in any matter and their hands are tied.

Posted on: February 22, 2007 08:29 PM | Link: Yeah, sounds like any big city... | Comments: (0)

January 30, 2007

Your tax dollars at work...

Update: YouTube took this video down, so you don't get to throw up watching these U.S. servicemen whoop it up while they watch some Iraqi troops beat the life out of people.

This is just awful:

Shia Iraqi soldier beat Sunnis as US trainers watch

These are the kinds of things that Bush never could even grasp that could happen. To see these young troops of ours acting like this - but - even more - put into these situations, is appalling. I support the troops, and I support their immediate withdrawal. These people are not trained to police a country and nation build. It is time to get out of this thing - nothing we are going to try is going to work. Insane people like Dick Cheney only want to stay for the oil. Idiots like Bush are even harder to figure out. Those two are a lethal combination for our future.

Posted on: January 30, 2007 04:43 PM | Link: Your tax dollars at work... | Comments: (2)

It Has Unraveled So Quickly

From the NY Times:

January 28, 2007 It Has Unraveled So Quickly

By SABRINA TAVERNISE
BAGHDAD

A PAINFUL measure of just how much Iraq has changed in the four years since I started coming here is contained in my cellphone. Many numbers in the address book are for Iraqis who have either fled the country or been killed. One of the first Sunni politicians: gunned down. A Shiite baker: missing. A Sunni family: moved to Syria.

I first came to Iraq in April 2003, at the end of the looting several weeks after the American invasion. In all, I have spent 22 months here, time enough for the place, its people and their ever-evolving tragedy to fix itself firmly in my heart.

Now, as I am leaving Iraq, a new American plan is unfolding in the capital. It feels as if we have come back to the beginning. Boots are on the ground again. Boxy Humvees move in the streets. Baghdad fell in 2003 and we are still trying to pick it back up. But Iraq is a different country now.

The moderates are mostly gone. My phone includes at least a dozen entries for middle-class families who have given up and moved away. They were supposed to build democracy here. Instead they work odd jobs in Syria and Jordan. Even the moderate political leaders have left. I have three numbers for Adnan Pachachi, the distinguished Iraqi statesman; none have Iraqi country codes.

Neighborhoods I used to visit a year ago with my armed guards and my black abaya are off limits. Most were Sunni and had been merely dangerous. Now they are dead. A neighborhood that used to be Baghdad’s Upper East Side has the dilapidated, broken feel of a city just hit by a hurricane.

The Iraqi government and the political process, which seemed to have great promise a year ago, have soured. Deeply damaged from years of abuse under Saddam Hussein, the Shiites who run the government have themselves turned into abusers.

Never having covered a civil war before, I learned about it together with my Iraqi friends. It is a bit like watching a slow-motion train wreck. Broken bodies fly past. Faces freeze in one’s memory in the moments before impact. Passengers grab handles and doorframes that simply tear off or uselessly collapse.

I learned how much violence changes people, and how trust is chipped away, leaving society a thin layer of moth-eaten fabric that tears easily. It has unraveled so quickly. A year ago, my interviews were peppered with phrases like “Iraqis are all brothers.” The subjects would get angry when you asked their sect. Now some of them introduce themselves that way.

I met Raad Jassim, a 38-year-old Shiite refugee, in a largely empty house, recently owned by Sunnis, where he now lives in western Baghdad. He moved there in the fall, after Sunni militants killed his brother and his nephew and confiscated his large chicken farm north of Baghdad. He had lived with Sunnis his whole life, but after what happened, a hatred spread through him like a disease.

“The word Sunni, it hurts me,” he said, sitting on the floor in a bare room, his 7-year-old boy on his lap. “All that I have lost came from this word. I try to avoid mixing with them.”

“A volcano of revenge” has built up inside him, he said. “I want to rip them up with my teeth.”

In another measure of just how much things have changed, Mr. Jassim’s Shiite neighborhood is relatively safe. The area is now largely free of Sunnis, after Shiite militias swept it last year, and it runs smoothly on a complex network of relationships among the local militias, the police and a powerful local council. His street is dotted with fruit stands. Boys in uniforms roughhouse. Men sit in teahouses sipping from tiny glass cups.

Just to the south, the Sunni neighborhood of Dawoodi is ghostly at almost any time of day. Wide boulevards trimmed with palm trees used to connect luxury homes. Now giant piles of trash go uncollected in the median.

A serious problem is dead bodies. They began to appear several times a week last summer on the railroad tracks that run through the neighborhood. But when residents call the police to pick up the bodies, they do not come. The police are Shiite and afraid of the area.

“Entering a Sunni area for them is a risk,” said Yasir, a 40-year-old Sunni whose house is close to the dumping ground.

A few weeks ago, a woman’s body appeared. It was raining. Yasir said he covered her with blankets and called the police. A day later the police arrived. They peeked under the waterlogged blanket and drove away. It was another day before they collected the body. They took it at night, turning off their headlights and inching toward the area like thieves.

For those eager to write off Iraq as lost, one fact bears remembering. A great many Shiites and Kurds, who together make up 80 percent of the population, will tell you that in spite of all the mistakes the Americans have made here, the single act of removing Saddam Hussein was worth it. And the new American plan, despite all the obstacles, may have a chance to work. With an Iraqi colleague, I have been studying a neighborhood in northern Baghdad that has become a dumping ground for bodies. There, after American troops conducted sweeps, the number of corpses dropped by a third in September. The new plan is built around that kind of tactic. But the odds are stacked against the corps of bright young officers charged with making the plan work, particularly because their Iraqi partner — the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki — seems to be on an entirely different page. When American officials were debating whether to send more troops in December, I went to see an Iraqi government official. The prospect of more troops infuriated him. More Americans would simply prolong the war, he said.

“If you don’t allow the minority to lose, you will carry on forever,” he said.

The remarks struck me as a powerful insight into the Shiites’ thinking. Abused under Mr. Hussein, they still act like an oppressed class. That means Iraqis are looking into a future of war, at least in the near term. As one young Shiite in Sadr City said to me: “This just has to burn itself out.”

Hazim al-Aaraji, a disciple of the renegade Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, understands this. A cleric himself, he is looking for foot soldiers for the war. On a warm October afternoon, as he bustled around his mosque in western Baghdad, he said the ideal disciples would have “an empty mind,” and a weapon. Surprised by the word choice, an Iraqi friend I was with stopped him, to clarify his intent. Once again, he used the word “empty.”

The frank remark spoke of a new power balance, in which radicals rule and moderates have no voice. For many families I have become attached to here, the country is no longer recognizable.

I met Haifa and her husband, Hassan, both teachers, in a driveway in western Baghdad. They had just found the body of their 12-year-old son, who had been kidnapped and brutally killed, and were frantic with grief. They finally decided to leave Iraq, but its violence tormented them to the end. They paid a man to drive them to Jordan, but he was working with Sunni militants in western Iraq, and pointed out Hassan, a Shiite, to a Sunni gang that stopped the car. Over the next several hours, Haifa waved a tiny Koran at men in masks, pleading for her husband’s release, her two remaining children in tow.

Hassan, meanwhile, knelt in a small room, his hands behind his back. His captors shot a man next to him in the neck. Haifa, a Sunni, eventually prevailed on them to let him go. The family returned to Baghdad, then borrowed money to fly to Jordan.

Now they live there, in a tiny basement apartment without windows in a white stone housing project on the side of a hill. Like many Iraqis there, they live in hiding. Residency permits cost $100,000, far beyond their means. Hassan cannot work, nor even risk leaving the house during the day for fear the Jordanian police will deport him.

He tries not to talk to people, afraid someone will recognize his Iraqi accent. He doesn’t bargain in the vegetable market. He accepts mean remarks by Jordanian cabdrivers wordlessly.

Most of all, he wants to go home. “But death is waiting for us there,” he tells me. “We are homeless. Please help us.”

Posted on: January 30, 2007 04:41 PM | Link: It Has Unraveled So Quickly | Comments: (0)

June 26, 2006

War's Iraqi Death Toll Tops 50,000

The LA Times has an article out today:

Higher than the U.S. estimate, the tally likely is undercounted. Proportionately, it is as if 570,000 Americans were slain in three years.

The whole thing is here. About 450,000 Americans were killed in World War II.

Posted on: June 26, 2006 09:32 AM | Link: War's Iraqi Death Toll Tops 50,000 | Comments: (0)

April 08, 2006

Iraq end game

There really are only a few ways that things can play out in Iraq, and they are all bad. One, we leave at some point - it really doesn't make a big difference when (next month, next year, whenever), but if we really leave, the whole region will get sucked into the civil war, with probably Turkey, the Kurds, Iran and others fighting for chunks of the country. It could end up being a decades long conflict, or WWIII. Two, we stay in the new huge bases the we are supposedly not building and continue to lose a couple of hundred troops a year, but use massive aerial assaults to try and shape the raging civil war outside the base walls. Our presence there probably prevents more chaos than option one, but has no positive outcome. Three, we eventually start a draft, and when no one shows up to enlist and we run out of people to send to Iraq, some whack jobs in the government decide enough is enough and go with tactical nukes. This may or may not be the end of the world, but it would sure seem like the beginning of the end and probably plunge the whole globe into recession. After Abu Ghraib and stories like these we have zero credibility not only in the middle east but the world. There really are no options the U.S. could initiate in my mind that would be credible. I like Murtha's plan. Pull back, pull out. Let the locals go at it. It may take years, but hopefully at some point someone will win control of some large part of something we could call the New Iraq. At some point they will ask the UN and perhaps other regional/international organizations for help. When they do, we should be ready as a country to do whatever we are asked. Again, this may take decades. This is what the next several generations of Americans have to look forward to. All because of a rigged election in Florida. America. What happened to you?

Posted on: April 8, 2006 06:15 PM | Link: Iraq end game | Comments: (0)

March 15, 2006

Who got it wrong?

"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.

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 4/10/03

FAIR has more nuggets of wisdom from the wankosphere.

Posted on: March 15, 2006 05:48 PM | Link: Who got it wrong? | Comments: (0)

November 30, 2005

Lieberman is completely insane

Just listened to Imus talking to Joementum (via Crooks & Liars) - he is literally insane. He had the Saddam jones like all the other neocons and can't give one legitimate reason for this whole mess - he just goes on and on with false statements and out right lies - and Imus calls him on most of it and he just keep blabbering... when he isn't busy patting himself on the back. Shameless.

Posted on: November 30, 2005 06:59 PM | Link: Lieberman is completely insane | Comments: (0)

October 25, 2005

U.S. military death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000

Great news! We finally made it. The slow drip of death. And how many Iraqis are dead? Will we ever know? From CNN:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The war in Iraq saw two milestones Tuesday that reflect the country's path toward democracy and its human toll as officials said the referendum on a draft constitution passed and the number of U.S. military deaths reached 2,000.

CNN's count of U.S. fatalities reflects reports from military sources and includes deaths in Iraq, Kuwait and other units assigned to the Iraq campaign.

The U.S. military does not publish an up-to-date running tally of deaths.

Among the latest casualties, an American soldier was killed Saturday by a roadside bomb, and a roadside blast killed two Marines in combat Friday near Amariya in the western Anbar province, according to the U.S. military.

President Bush, speaking to military spouses at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, said the best way to honor the dead would be to complete the mission in Iraq.

Ah, finish the mission. You don't even know what the fucking mission is! Revenge for your dad's attempted murder, democracy through chaos, oil! The all time cluster fuck continues...

Posted on: October 25, 2005 04:07 PM | Link: U.S. military death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000 | Comments: (0)

October 15, 2005

Crazy People Who Work At The New York Times

Judith Miller as quoted in Salon, May 27, 2004:

"You know what," she offered angrily. "I was proved fucking right. That's what happened. People who disagreed with me were saying, 'There she goes again.' But I was proved fucking right."

Judith Miller, as quoted in the NY Times, October 16, 2005:

"W.M.D. - I got it totally wrong," she said. "The analysts, the experts and the journalists who covered them - we were all wrong. If your sources are wrong, you are wrong. I did the best job that I could."

Oh my, poor her. Her sources were wrong! Gosh, you woud think that as a reporter, that it would have been possible to find some other sources, no? Well, thanks for clearing this all up for us anyway, now that so many people are dead and all.

Posted on: October 15, 2005 06:22 PM | Link: Crazy People Who Work At The New York Times | Comments: (0)

September 20, 2005

Basra

You know Basra, in the south of Iraq, a peaceful town controlled by British forces...

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When does this thing end? Story here.

Posted on: September 20, 2005 07:39 AM | Link: Basra |

July 25, 2005

Abu Ghraib photos

My mother-in-law had not heard about this story - here is a recap from AmericaBlog. Here is some more info from Seymour Hersh via Daily Kos. This story is more than a year old - can you imagine how many people have not heard about it? Can you fathom that Rush Limbaugh equated the Abu Ghraib abuse to blowing some steam off??

"Hey honey, I had a tough day - I'm going to go rape some 12 year old boys and murder a couple of guys over at the prison, I'll be back before midnight."

Our tax dollars at work. Our reputation destroyed. Perpetual war. Thanks President Bush.

Posted on: July 25, 2005 02:02 AM | Link: Abu Ghraib photos | Comments: (0)

July 13, 2005

Unacceptable

Iraq suspects suffocate in heat

Nine building workers have died in Iraq after being arrested on suspicion of insurgent activity and then left in a closed metal container. Three men survived the ordeal, police sources said, despite being left for 14 hours in the burning Iraqi summer heat.

They had apparently been caught up in a firefight between US troops and Iraqi gunmen, and were detained after taking an injured colleague to hospital.

This is ridiculous. It is like a comedy of death. If you want to be brainwashed and pretend it has nothing to do with us, fine. But facts are facts - we invaded this country, we occupy this country, and we are responsible for what happens in this country. Would we sit around ho-hum if this happened to 9 people in police custody somewhere in the U.S.? Was this even front page news? Part of the huge problem with people who can let this kind of stuff go on, and yes, when I say people I am talking about the President - it was his decision to invade Iraq - is that at their core they don't really care about Iraq, or Iraqis. They care about themselves, and other people (white people mostly) like them. Arabs, Turks, Kurds, so what? It is like a discount of life - maybe something like 10 Iraqi lives for one U.S. life. That to me is the most grotesque, most racist, and most inhuman thought. But the President and his minions have proven it is okay to them, over and over again.

Posted on: July 13, 2005 10:41 AM | Link: Unacceptable | Comments: (0)

June 30, 2005

These are the guys in charge -

"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time," Cheney said. "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."
Rumsfeld said: "We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency. That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years."
BLITZER: The commander of the U.S. Military Central Command, Gen. John Abizaid has been testifying on Capitol Hill.

CHENEY: Right.

BLITZER: He says that the insurgency now is at a strength undiminished as it was six months ago, and he says there are actually more foreign fighters in Iraq now than there were six months ago. That doesn't sound like the last throes.

CHENEY: No, I would disagree. If you look at what the dictionary says about throes, it can still be a violent period -- the throes of a revolution. The point would be that the conflict will be intense, but it's intense because the terrorists understand if we're successful at accomplishing our objective, standing up a democracy in Iraq, that that's a huge defeat for them. They'll do everything they can to stop it.

Posted on: June 30, 2005 10:40 AM | Link: These are the guys in charge - | Comments: (0)

June 15, 2005

Kurds run amok

From the Washington Post, by Steve Fainaru and Anthony Shadid (via Professor Cole):

A confidential State Department cable, obtained by The Washington Post and addressed to the White House, Pentagon and U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said the "extra-judicial detentions" were part of a "concerted and widespread initiative" by Kurdish political parties "to exercise authority in Kirkuk in an increasingly provocative manner."

Gee - I wonder what George Bush was thinking about the ethnic powder keg of Kirkuk before the invasion? Oh wait - I know - not a fucking thing, because his drug addled brain couldn't possible comprehend a Turkmen from a Kurd from an Arab. Every day, as it gets worse, as people die and are abused, just think - George Bush choose this war.

Posted on: June 15, 2005 05:10 PM | Link: Kurds run amok | Comments: (0)

June 13, 2005

Downing Street Memo

So the Downing Street Memo is starting to make a little more headway into coporate news (the whole memo is at the bottom of this post). Is it the "smoking gun"? ABSOLUTELY (I can't understand how Michael Kinsley has gone to sleep on this).

There is also some kind of bullshit out there that everyone knew all this already. That is patently untrue. I was alive and paying attention and what the world was hearing was "mushroom clouds" and "aluminum tubes" and other such nonsense. I am on record as saying this war was total crap right on this blog (not that it makes a difference to anyone but me).

Anyway - this story is not new and I am not going to be able to add much more that hasn't already been said very well by Digby or professor Cole or Ray McGovern, among others.

But just be clear about this - Bush was planning to invade Iraq very early in 2002 - and as many have said (Clarke, O'Neil, myself) and reported he was probably planning it even earlier. He was planning WAR - an idealogical war - he was NOT planning diplomacy. War was not a contingent, it was the plan. He didn't go to the UN because he wanted to - he went because he HAD to, to make it legal for Blair. Doesn't anyone remember that the UN inspectors were still trying to do their job? Didn't Iraq turn over the volumes on all their weapons?

Just read the memo - doesn't option (b) sound sort of familiar?

The two broad US options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).

(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.

(b) is pretty much what we did, especially since Turkey decided not to play (a fact that Rumsfeld would use years later to blame the strength of the insurgency on! You can not make this stuff up) - we were already bombing and making threats in the "no-fly" zone, and then we had CIA and special forces passing out what some have reported to be nearly a billion dollars to buy Iraqis off. And of course we all know about the troop levels and what the Administration did to General Shinsheki (did anything Paul Wolfowitz say about Iraq work out the way he saw it?). It's pathetic the American public can't connect the dots on this one.

"Downing Street Memo" »

Posted on: June 13, 2005 03:20 PM | Link: Downing Street Memo | Comments: (0)

War: Realities and Myths

I found this article "War: Realities and Myths" by Chris Hedges, via James Wolcott - it is a must read.

Posted on: June 13, 2005 03:14 PM | Link: War: Realities and Myths | Comments: (0)

June 10, 2005

What you can get for 200 Billion Dollars...

Some broken guns:

""We fire 10 bullets and it falls apart," he said. Zwayid patted a heavy machine gun mounted in the bed of the Humvee. "This jams," he said. "Are these the weapons worthy of a soldier?" He and others said it was a sign of the Americans' lack of confidence in them."

Anthony Shadid had done a lot of excellent reporting from Iraq, but I think this article is the bleakest, most sobering thing I have read to date about this whole fiasco. You must read the whole thing. I have been shaking my head so much I think it might fall off - how did we get to this point? When will it end?

Posted on: June 10, 2005 02:11 PM | Link: What you can get for 200 Billion Dollars... | Comments: (0)

June 03, 2005

War is hell, when will it end?

War is hell, when will it end?
When will people start gettin' together again?
Are things really gettin' better, like the newspaper said?

Marvin Gaye, "What's Happening Brother"

The insurgency in Iraq is "in the last throes," Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday, and he predicted the fighting would end before the Bush administration leaves office.

In a wide-ranging interview on CNN's "Larry King Live," Cheney cited the recent push by Iraqi forces to crack down on insurgent activity in Baghdad and reports that the most-wanted terrorist leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been wounded.

The vice president said he expected the war would end during President Bush's second term, which ends in 2009.

"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time," Cheney said. "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

Vice President Dick Cheney on Larry King Live, May 30, 2005

Once an effective Iraqi government and security forces are in place, "then we are out of there," Cheney said. "We have no desire to stay a day longer than necessary."

Cheney on Fox News Sunday, February 6, 2005 as reported by the USDOD

They will do everything they can to disrupt the process up to those elections in January because they know that once you've got a democratically elected government in place that has legitimacy in the eyes of the people of Iraq, they're out of business. That will be the end of the insurgency.

Vice President and Mrs. Cheney's Remarks in Sioux City, Iowa October 28, 2004

The target date for the elections is January. At the same time, there is a major effort underway to deal with the insurgency that is still there. That tends to be focused in the Sunni -- what we refer to as the Sunni Triangle, Baghdad and west of Baghdad, and that general area. The Kurdish area in the north and the Shia area in the south are relatively safe and secure.
Vice President and Mrs. Cheney's Remarks in Wilmington, Ohio October 25, 2004
On CBS's "Face the Nation" on March 16 (2003), Cheney said the fight would be "weeks rather than months. There's always the possibility of complications that you can't anticipate, but I have great confidence in our troops." Cheney also predicted the fight would "go relatively quickly, but we can't count on that." That same day on NBC's "Meet the Press," Cheney said, "I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." It was then he predicted that the regular Iraqi soldiers would not "put up such a struggle," and that even "significant elements of the Republican Guard . . . are likely to step aside." Asked if Americans are prepared for a "long, costly and bloody battle," Cheney replied: "Well, I don't think it's likely to unfold that way. . . . The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein, and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that." Cheney has spoken that way for months.

As quoted by the Washington Post

Posted on: June 3, 2005 02:35 PM | Link: War is hell, when will it end? | Comments: (0)

May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

Definition: Memorial Day honors U.S. soldiers who died fighting for their country. Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May.

Posted on: May 30, 2005 09:52 AM | Link: Memorial Day | Comments: (0)

May 20, 2005

Cowardice in Journalism Award for Newsweek

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 by Greg Palast

"It's appalling that this story got out there," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on her way back from Iraq.

What's not appalling to Condi is that the US is holding prisoners at Guantanamo under conditions termed "torture" by the Red Cross. What's not appalling to Condi is that prisoners of the Afghan war are held in violation of international law after that conflict has supposedly ended. What is not appalling to Condi is that prisoner witnesses have reported several instances of the Koran's desecration.

What is appalling to her is that these things were reported. So to Condi goes to the Joseph Goebbels Ministry of Propaganda Iron Cross.

But I don't want to leave out our President. His aides report that George Bush is "angry" about the report -- not the desecration of the Koran, but the reporting of it.

And so long as George is angry and Condi appalled, Newsweek knows what to do: swiftly grab its corporate ankles and ask the White House for mercy.

Click here for the whole thing.

Posted on: May 20, 2005 03:35 PM | Link: Cowardice in Journalism Award for Newsweek | Comments: (0)

Death in Afghanistan

abuse.184.1.450

A sketch by Thomas V. Curtis, a former Reserve M.P. sergeant, showing how Dilawar was chained to the ceiling of his cell.

From the NY Times today we hear the story of a couple of murders in Afghanistan (In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths).

Here is my question - I was watching the opening of the house session on C-Span this week, and representative after representative went on and on about the Newsweek story of how a flushed Koran caused people to die in Afghanistan. The above happened at Bagram AF Base in Afghanistan. I am sure all Afghanis have heard the horrible stories coming out of the prison there. Did a congressman or woman ever get up and speak so strongly against this? The Koran story is a right wing canard and Newsweek got thrown under the bus to take the heat off of stories like this. Why doesn't the right get that? Why don't most citizens get that?

Posted on: May 20, 2005 10:32 AM | Link: Death in Afghanistan | Comments: (0)

May 15, 2005

We won, right?

When you have to sneak into a country two years after your "mission" has been accomplished, something is wrong. Someting is very wrong...

Rice trip to Iraq -- even her pilot did not know

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Secrecy for U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Iraq on Sunday was so tight even her pilot did not know his passenger's name until she got on board.

U.S. officials took extreme precautions to protect Rice from the Iraqi insurgency, putting her in a bulletproof vest and combat helmet at times, keeping many of her own colleagues in the dark and only telling Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari she was coming 48 hours before her arrival.

Posted on: May 15, 2005 10:55 AM | Link: We won, right? | Comments: (0)

May 04, 2005

This Sunday

I seem to remember that Dexter Filkins of the Times wrote some good stories from Iraq - this kind of babble makes me doubt that:

MR. RUSSERT: Dexter Filkins, you spent the better part of two years in Iraq. What's your sense of how things are going?

MR. DEXTER FILKINS: I think it's better. It feels better. I mean, you know, in the last four or five months, you've had two pretty significant events. One was the recapture of Fallujah, which had become a safe haven for the insurgents, and the other was the election, which I think gave a lot of Iraqis a sense that they were going to get their country back and they were going to be able to control its destiny. And I--just being on the streets there you can feel some of the anger having been drained away. And it's clearly not as violent as it was, you know, six months ago, five months ago when there were--I remember the month of August, there were 45 car bombs. Now, the level of violence, the number of attacks against American soldiers and Iraqi soldiers is down. The number of Iraqi recruits into the security services is way up. So at the moment, things are feeling a little better.

So things are a little better. That is followed by this:

MR. RUSSERT: Dexter Filkins, your dispatches are so rich with detail and understanding of what you're seeing and observing. Tell us about your life in Iraq. What do you do? Where do you live? How do you get up? How do you function as a reporter?

MR. FILKINS: Well, The New York Times has a huge operation there. It's very expensive. But it's...

MR. RUSSERT: Heavily guard?

MR. FILKINS: Very heavily guarded. We've got a couple of houses, we've got 20-foot-high concrete blast walls topped with barbed wire. There's armed guards, there's armored cars, searchlights, the whole thing.

MR. RUSSERT: How do you move around the city?

MR. FILKINS: You just try to do the best you can, you know. The--you go...

MR. RUSSERT: With guards?

MR. FILKINS: Usually with guards. I mean, you know, none of that's desirable. You want to be--as a reporter, you want to be as unintrusive as possible. You want to put people at ease. And--but that's not really possible anymore. So you can--things have gotten a little better. I mean, Baghdad is not as tense and as angry as it was even six months ago. But doing something like getting out of your car and walking around a neighborhood and just talking to people on the street, you can't really go that anymore. I mean you can do it for 20 minutes, you know, 25 minutes, and then get in your car and get out, because if you linger too long, you're putting yourself in danger.

MR. RUSSERT: Have you had any close calls?

MR. FILKINS: More than I can count, yeah.

So things are better - but - going out without armed guards or being in the same spot for 20 minutes can't be done anymore... so - when could those things be done? If things are better now - what - you could do those things when things were... worse? I mean WTF is Filkins talking about? The whole country is a disaster. We have no control. We are not patrolling. We are reacting to the shit storm as it happens and Iraq's are being killed by the scores. But hey, things are better. Like driving to the airport:

MR. RUSSERT: There is a road, a highway from the airport to downtown Baghdad that's called the Road of Death by many. I understand there's a taxi service on that road to take someone from downtown to the airport.

MR. FILKINS: Yeah. There's actually a company in Baghdad that does nothing except offer rides to the airport and back. They've got an armored cars and some guards. And they charge $35,000 for...

MR. RUSSERT: Thirty-five thousand dollars?

MR. FILKINS: ...for a ride to the airport. And I think you know, if you miss your plane and you have to come back, it's another $35,000. But...

MR. RUSSERT: How long--is it six miles?

MR. FILKINS: I think it's about six miles, yeah. It's not a happy six miles. So, you know, they earn their money.

MR. RUSSERT: Why have we been unable--or the Iraqis unable to protect that road, that stretch?

MR. FILKINS: That's a real mystery.

Tell Donald Rumsfeld to get Agatha Christie on the phone...

Posted on: May 4, 2005 12:13 PM | Link: This Sunday |

April 19, 2005

Your Tax Dollars At Work: Torture

From the Washington Post:

Soldiers' 'Wish Lists' Of Detainee Tactics Cited

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 19, 2005; Page A16

Army intelligence officials in Iraq developed and circulated "wish lists" of harsh interrogation techniques they hoped to use on detainees in August 2003, including tactics such as low-voltage electrocution, blows with phone books and using dogs and snakes -- suggestions that some soldiers believed spawned abuse and illegal interrogations.

The discussions, which took place in e-mail messages between interrogators and Army officials in Baghdad, were used in part to develop the interrogation rules of engagement approved by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, then commander of U.S. troops in Iraq. Two specific cases of abuse in Iraq occurred soon after.

Army investigative documents released yesterday, as well as court records and files, suggest that the tactics were used on two detainees: One died during an interrogation in November 2003 while stuffed into a sleeping bag, and another was badly beaten by inexperienced interrogators using a police baton in September 2003. The documents indicate confusion over what tactics were legal in Iraq, a belief that most detainees were not covered by Geneva Conventions protections and alleged abuse by interrogators who had tacit approval to "turn it up a notch."

In both incidents, a previously disclosed Aug. 14, 2003, e-mail from the joint task force headquarters in Baghdad to top U.S. human-intelligence gatherers in Iraq is cited as a potential catalyst.

Capt. William Ponce wrote that "the gloves are coming off" because casualties were mounting and officers needed better intelligence to fight the insurgency. Ponce solicited "wish lists" from interrogators and gave them three days to respond. That message was forwarded throughout the theater, including to officials at Abu Ghraib, where notorious abuse followed.

At the 4th Infantry Division's detention facility in Tikrit, the e-mail caused top intelligence officials to develop a list including open-hand strikes, closed-fist strikes, using claustrophobic techniques and a number of "coercive" techniques such as striking with phone books, low-voltage electrocution and inducing muscle fatigue. The list was sent back to Baghdad on Aug. 17.

Interrogators used the perception of newfound latitude to interview an unidentified detainee on Sept. 23, 2003. According to the detainee's statement, he was made to lie across folding chairs while an interrogator beat the soles of his feet with a police baton. He said he was later hit in the back and the buttocks with the baton while in a painful stress position.

A military intelligence staff sergeant who supervised the interrogators said a "fear up" approach had been approved for the interrogation. The unnamed sergeant wrote in a rebuttal to a reprimand that senior leaders were blurring the lines between official enemy prisoners of war and terrorists not afforded international protection.

"This situation is made worse with messages from higher echelons soliciting lists of alternative interrogation techniques and the usage of phrases such as 'the gloves are coming off,' " he wrote.

At the same time, in Qaim, interrogators with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) received the e-mail from Baghdad. One veteran interrogator responded that restrictions on interrogation tactics hurt efforts in Afghanistan and that "today's enemy" only understands force. He went on to "firmly agree that the gloves need to come off."

"Other techniques would include close confinement quarters, sleep deprivation, white noise, and a [litany] of harsher fear-up approaches," he wrote on Aug. 14, 2003, adding that "fear of dogs and snakes appear to work nicely."

According to court records and testimony in cases against three 3rd ACR soldiers and a military intelligence warrant officer in the death of Iraqi Gen. Abid Mowhoush, interrogators there regularly stuffed detainees into a sleeping bag and wound them with an electrical cord as part of a "claustrophobic technique" that high-ranking officials believed was approved. Mowhoush, who had been beaten, died while being interrogated in a sleeping bag in November 2003.

Another interrogator, with the 501st Military Intelligence Battalion, wrote a response to the headquarters e-mail with cautions that "we need to take a deep breath and remember who we are." "It comes down to standards of right and wrong -- something we cannot just put aside when we find it inconvenient," the soldier wrote. "We are American soldiers, heirs of a long tradition of staying on the high ground. We need to stay there."

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Posted on: April 19, 2005 10:18 PM | Link: Your Tax Dollars At Work: Torture | Comments: (0)

February 11, 2005

January was an up month!!!

Woo hoo! I almost missed it, what, with all those liars being confirmed to the President's cabinet and such, and that great State of the Union address where all those rich white guys in suits somehow all seemed to get their thumbs dirty (something to do with dirty Iraq I guess), who woulda thunk that another 127 coalition troops were KILLED in January, making it the fourth most deadly month of the war to date (see - things are getting better!). So, sorry to all 127 of you proud, brave, men and women. Sorry the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General are all big, fat, fucking liars who don't give a rat's ass about you, your stinking dead bodies, or the hell your families are now living through.

Posted on: February 11, 2005 07:25 PM | Link: January was an up month!!! |

January 21, 2005

Earth to Dick

Dick Cheney talks to Imus yesterday. Surreal:

"We don't want a war in the Middle East, if we can avoid it,"

Uh... we already have one?

Posted on: January 21, 2005 07:10 AM | Link: Earth to Dick |

Iraq's newest orphans

3.jpg

U.S. soldiers shot into a car today, killing the parents of five children who were in the back seat. We are nearly two years into this, and this kind of shit is still happening? Why is it we are there - to spread freedom and democracy?
In related news the asshole who is responsible for this shit storm was sworn in as President of the United States today...

Posted on: January 21, 2005 01:01 AM | Link: Iraq's newest orphans |

November 04, 2004

Al Qaqaa

Just in case you thought this story was over, here is an update from the LA Times. And make a note to yourself - this wasn't the only weapons dump in Iraq. There were dozens, and this happened all over the country, and anyone with their head not completely up their ass knew it 18 months ago and knows it today. Did the Al Qaqaa story break for political reasons so close to the election? Maybe - but that doesn't change the facts:

Soldiers Describe Looting of Explosives

Iraqis piled high-grade material from a key site into trucks in the weeks after Baghdad fell, four U.S. reservists and guardsmen say.

By Mark Mazzetti, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — In the weeks after the fall of Baghdad, Iraqi looters loaded powerful explosives into pickup trucks and drove the material away from the Al Qaqaa ammunition site, according to a group of U.S. Army reservists and National Guardsmen who said they witnessed the looting.

The soldiers said about a dozen U.S. troops guarding the sprawling facility could not prevent the theft because they were outnumbered by looters. Soldiers with one unit — the 317th Support Center based in Wiesbaden, Germany — said they sent a message to commanders in Baghdad requesting help to secure the site but received no reply.

The witnesses' accounts of the looting, the first provided by U.S. soldiers, support claims that the American military failed to safeguard the munitions. Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency — the U.N. nuclear watchdog — and the interim Iraqi government reported that about 380 tons of high-grade explosives had been taken from the Al Qaqaa facility after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003. The explosives are powerful enough to detonate a nuclear weapon.

During the last week, when revelations of the missing explosives became an issue in the presidential campaign, the Bush administration suggested that the munitions could have been carted off by Saddam Hussein's forces before the war began. Pentagon officials later said that U.S. troops systematically destroyed hundreds of tons of explosives at Al Qaqaa after Baghdad fell.

Asked about the soldiers' accounts, Pentagon spokeswoman Rose-Ann Lynch said Wednesday, "We take the report of missing munitions very seriously. And we are looking into the facts and circumstances of this incident."

The soldiers, who belong to two different units, described how Iraqis plundered explosives from unsecured bunkers before driving off in Toyota trucks.

The U.S. troops said there was little they could do to prevent looting of the ammunition site, 30 miles south of Baghdad.

"We were running from one side of the compound to the other side, trying to kick people out," said one senior noncommissioned officer who was at the site in late April 2003.

"On our last day there, there were at least 100 vehicles waiting at the site for us to leave" so looters could come in and take munitions.

"It was complete chaos. It was looting like L.A. during the Rodney King riots," another officer said.

He and other soldiers who spoke to The Times asked not to be named, saying they feared retaliation from the Pentagon.

A Minnesota television station last week broadcast a video of U.S. troops with the 101st Airborne Division using tools to cut through wire seals left by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, at Al Qaqaa, evidence that the high-grade explosives remained inside at least one bunker weeks after the war began.

The video was taped April 18, 2003, while soldiers from the 101st Airborne searched Al Qaqaa for chemical and biological weapons. The IAEA had placed seals on nine of the bunkers at the complex, where inspectors had found high-grade explosives. Other bunkers contained more conventional munitions.

After opening bunkers, including one containing the high-grade explosives, U.S. troops left the bunkers unsecured, the Minnesota station reported.

According to the four soldiers — members of the 317th Support Center and the 258th Rear Area Operations Center, an Arizona-based Army National Guard unit — the looting of Al Qaqaa occurred over several weeks in late April and early May.

The two units were stationed near Al Qaqaa at a base known as Logistics Support Area (LSA) Dogwood. Soldiers with the units said they went to the ammunition facility soon after the departure of combat troops from the 101st Airborne Division.

The soldiers interviewed by The Times could not confirm that powerful explosives known as HMX and RDX were among the munitions looted.

One soldier said U.S. forces watched the looters' trucks loaded with bags marked "hexamine" — a key ingredient for HMX — being driven away from the facility. Unsure what hexamine was, the troops later did an Internet search and learned of its explosive power.

"We found out this was stuff you don't smoke around," the soldier said.

According to a list of "talking points" circulated by the Pentagon last week, when U.S. military weapons hunters visited Al Qaqaa on May 8, 2003, they found that the facility "had been looted and stripped and vandalized." No IAEA-monitored material was found, the "talking points" stated.

A senior U.S. military intelligence official corroborated some aspects of the four soldiers' accounts. The official who tracked facilities believed to store chemical and biological weapons — none was ever found in Iraq — said that Al Qaqaa was "one of the top 200" suspect sites at the outset of the war.

Despite the stockpiles at the site, no U.S. forces were specifically assigned to guard Al Qaqaa — known to U.S. forces in Iraq as Objective Elm — after the 101st Airborne left the facility.

Members of the 258th Rear Area Operations Center, responsible for base security at nearby LSA Dogwood, came across the looting at Al Qaqaa during patrols through the area. The unit, which comprised 27 soldiers, enlisted the help of troops of the 317th Support in securing the site, the soldiers said.

The senior intelligence official said there was no order for any unit to secure Al Qaqaa. "No way," the officer said, adding that doing so would have diverted combat resources from the push toward Baghdad.

"It's all about combat power," the officer said, "and we were short combat power.

"If we had 150,000 soldiers, I'm not sure we could have secured" such sites, the officer said. "Securing connotes 24-hour presence," and only a few sites in Baghdad were thought to warrant such security.

Troops of the two units went to Al Qaqaa over a week in late April but received no orders to maintain a presence at the facility, the soldiers said. They also said they received no response to a request for help in guarding the facility.

"We couldn't have been given the assignment to defend a facility unless we were given the troops to do it, and we weren't," said one National Guard officer. "[Objective] Elm being protected or not protected was not really part of the equation. It wasn't an area of immediate concern."

Some confusion came in late April 2003 when U.S. commanders in Baghdad reassigned military responsibility for the area surrounding Al Qaqaa from Army units to the 1st Marine Division, which had participated in the assault on Baghdad and eventually took control over much of southern Iraq.

According to Marine sources, when the 1st Marine Division took over, the combat unit didn't have enough troops to secure ammunition depots scattered across central and southern Iraq. The Al Qaqaa facility, they said, was of particular concern.

"That site was just abandoned by the 101st Airborne, and there was never a physical handoff by the 101st to the Marines. They just left," said a senior officer who worked in the top Marine command post in Iraq at the time. "We knew these sites were being looted, but there was nothing we could do about it."

During the same period, Marines came across another massive ammunition depot near the southern Iraqi town of Diwaniya, the senior officer said. They sent a message to the U.S. headquarters in Baghdad seeking guidance on how to keep the site from being plundered.

Commanders in Baghdad responded that the Marines should attempt to blow up the depot. The Marine officers responded that the site was too large to demolish.

Commanders in Baghdad "didn't have a good response to that," the officer said. "There was no plan to prevent these weapons from being used against us a year later."

Posted on: November 4, 2004 08:34 AM | Link: Al Qaqaa |

October 08, 2004

"Bush opened the floodgates to terrorism in Iraq."

I could not agree more. Professor Cole has done it again, slashing through the coporate media jungle to hit the nail on the head in his observations of the Bush administration - this time in his analysis of the Bush war on terror. Click here to read why he is voting for regime change in America.

Posted on: October 8, 2004 06:07 PM | Link: "Bush opened the floodgates to terrorism in Iraq." |

October 05, 2004

Paul Bremer ♥ General Shinseki

We have now heard from Paul Bremer:

"We never had enough troops on the ground,''

Bremer said.

Wow - coupled with Rumsfeld's no "strong, hard evidence" linking Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda you really have to wonder what the hell is going on in Washington. The wheels are off the tracks with four weeks to go. I really can't wait for all the tell-all behind the scenes books we are going to see when Bush loses.

Posted on: October 5, 2004 01:21 PM | Link: Paul Bremer ♥ General Shinseki |

October 02, 2004

I can - but you can't

Check out these two headlines and the conflicting message:

From the Washington Post -

"Troops Battle to Control Samarra

With Americans Leading Way, Iraqi Forces Secure Key Religious Sites

By Karl Vick
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, October 2, 2004; Page A01

BAGHDAD, Oct. 1 -- A heavily armored force of 3,000 U.S. troops, followed by 2,000 Iraqi soldiers, police officers, commandos and National Guardsmen, swept into Samarra on Friday to confront insurgents in what a senior Iraqi official said had become an "outlaw city."

The offensive in the city about 65 miles north of Baghdad largely overwhelmed the rebel force during a night and day of occasionally intense fighting. One U.S. soldier was killed, according to military officials, who estimated insurgent fatalities at more than 100. Hospital officials said they had received the bodies of dozens of Iraqis, including women and children, the Reuters news agency reported."

From the BBC -

"US urges Israel to show restraint

Palestinian sources say 100 tanks have moved into northern Gaza

The US has called on Israel to exercise restraint in its latest offensive against Palestinian militants in northern Gaza.

The State Department said Israel should use only "proportional force" and urged it to avoid civilian casualties.

More than 40 Palestinians and three Israelis have died since the army's operation began on Wednesday."

Posted on: October 2, 2004 12:16 AM | Link: I can - but you can't |

September 22, 2004

If you only read one thing all year...

make it this post by professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan. I have not seen a more poignant, spot on comment on what a complete fool George Bush is or of the walking coma most of the United States citizens are in:

"If America were Iraq, What would it be Like?

President Bush said Tuesday that the Iraqis are refuting the pessimists and implied that things are improving in that country.

What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.

Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.

And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?

What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?

What if all the reporters for all the major television and print media were trapped in five-star hotels in Washington, DC and New York, unable to move more than a few blocks safely, and dependent on stringers to know what was happening in Oklahoma City and St. Louis? What if the only time they ventured into the Midwest was if they could be embedded in Army or National Guard units?

There are estimated to be some 25,000 guerrillas in Iraq engaged in concerted acts of violence. What if there were private armies totalling 275,000 men, armed with machine guns, assault rifles (legal again!), rocket-propelled grenades, and mortar launchers, hiding out in dangerous urban areas of cities all over the country? What if they completely controlled Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver and Omaha, such that local police and Federal troops could not go into those cities?

What if, during the past year, the Secretary of State (Aqilah Hashemi), the President (Izzedine Salim), and the Attorney General (Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim) had all been assassinated?

What if all the cities in the US were wracked by a crime wave, with thousands of murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and carjackings in every major city every year?

What if the Air Force routinely (I mean daily or weekly) bombed Billings, Montana, Flint, Michigan, Watts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Anacostia in Washington, DC, and other urban areas, attempting to target "safe houses" of "criminal gangs", but inevitably killing a lot of children and little old ladies?

What if, from time to time, the US Army besieged Virginia Beach, killing hundreds of armed members of the Christian Soldiers? What if entire platoons of the Christian Soldiers militia holed up in Arlington National Cemetery, and were bombarded by US Air Force warplanes daily, destroying thousands of graves and even pulverizing the Vietnam Memorial over on the Mall? What if the National Council of Churches had to call for a popular march of thousands of believers to converge on the National Cathedral to stop the US Army from demolishing it to get at a rogue band of the Timothy McVeigh Memorial Brigades?

What if there were virtually no commercial air traffic in the country? What if many roads were highly dangerous, especially Interstate 95 from Richmond to Washington, DC, and I-95 and I-91 up to Boston? If you got on I-95 anywhere along that over 500-mile stretch, you would risk being carjacked, kidnapped, or having your car sprayed with machine gun fire.

What if no one had electricity for much more than 10 hours a day, and often less? What if it went off at unpredictable times, causing factories to grind to a halt and air conditioning to fail in the middle of the summer in Houston and Miami? What if the Alaska pipeline were bombed and disabled at least monthly? What if unemployment hovered around 40%?

What if veterans of militia actions at Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City bombing were brought in to run the government on the theory that you need a tough guy in these times of crisis?

What if municipal elections were cancelled and cliques close to the new "president" quietly installed in the statehouses as "governors?" What if several of these governors (especially of Montana and Wyoming) were assassinated soon after taking office or resigned when their children were taken hostage by guerrillas?

What if the leader of the European Union maintained that the citizens of the United States are, under these conditions, refuting pessimism and that freedom and democracy are just around the corner?"

Posted on: September 22, 2004 09:46 PM | Link: If you only read one thing all year... |

August 10, 2004

We have word from Aziz...

Tariq Aziz tells son he faces death
10/08/2004 - 14:56:13

Imprisoned former Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz has told his son that he faces the death sentence after being accused of responsibility for mass killings in 1979 and 1991.

It was the first time details of the charges against Aziz had been made public. His son, Ziad Tariq Aziz, called the accusations “baseless”.

The 1979 charges appear linked to the killings of 22 Baath Party members allegedly involved in an anti-government plot shortly after Saddam Hussein took power. In 1991, Saddam’s regime brutally repressed uprisings by Kurdish and Shiite Iraqis.

“Of course, according to the Iraqi penal code, the punishment for those two counts is death,” Tariq Aziz wrote from his prison in a letter to his son.

The elder Aziz, a close aide to Saddam for decades, was best known as Iraq’s urbane, English-speaking foreign minister from 1983 to 1991. He was deputy prime minister at the time of Saddam’s overthrow last year.

Ziad Aziz, who is living in Amman, the Jordanian capital, said that in a letter dated July 1 and relayed by the Red Cross last week, his father also asked him to appoint lawyers to defend him, unaware that already had been done.

In his letter Tariq Aziz had requested, among others, that Ramsey Clark, who was US Attorney General during the Lyndon B Johnson presidency, represents him.

Clark has said he would be willing to provide legal counsel to Saddam if requested. He is a staunch anti-war advocate who has met Saddam on several occasions in the past decade

Posted on: August 10, 2004 11:39 PM | Link: We have word from Aziz... |

Where is Paul (Jerry) Bremer...

Not that I care... I was just reading "Get Your War" tonight though and they mentioned him.

Posted on: August 10, 2004 12:32 AM | Link: Where is Paul (Jerry) Bremer... |

June 17, 2004

Sacrifice In the In-Box

This is an opinion piece from the Washington Post:

Sacrifice In the In-Box

By Thomas E. Ricks
Friday, June 11, 2004; Page A25

The death notices from Iraq come across my computer screen by e-mail and always follow the same format. Each states the name of the dead soldier and his or her rank, age and hometown, as in: "Pfc. Melissa J. Hobart, 22, of Ladson, S.C." It also identifies the unit, and so tells you whether this was an active-duty soldier or a part-time reservist or a National Guard member.

As a military reporter for The Post, I get copies of all of them. On good days there are none, or one. On some bad days, such as this past Monday, there are several.

If the soldier was in the Army, there also is usually a sentence giving a bare-bones account of the means of death -- mortar attack, roadside bomb, small-arms fire or vehicle accident account for most. June 2: "Capt. Robert C. Scheetz Jr., 31, of Dothan, Ala., died May 30 in Musayyib, Iraq, when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device" -- the U.S. military term for a roadside bomb, frequently made with an old artillery shell and a remote detonator. The Marine Corps notices are shorter, because they don't disclose the cause of death, on the grounds that -- as those news releases sometimes state -- such information could aid the foe in Iraq.

In other conflicts I've covered -- Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti -- the death notices were fewer or came in bursts and stopped after a few weeks or months. Now the notices have gone on for more than a year, providing a continual but uneven drumbeat.

There have been lots lately. I read them all. Even on the busiest of days, when I am on deadline writing an article, I pause when an e-mail pops up on my screen with the subject line "DoD Identifies Army Casualty."

I do this partly for my job, tracking the casualties to maintain a sense of where the fighting is hot. I also look to see if the person was from Virginia, Maryland or the District, so I can let The Post's Metro section know if it needs to do a story.

But I read them as much for personal reasons. In 15 years of covering the military, I've interviewed thousands of soldiers. So, with that feeling of being suspended at the top of a roller coaster just before it plummets, I look to see if I knew the soldier or his unit, especially from my time knocking around Iraq with the 1st Armored Division, the 1st Infantry Division and other outfits. I keep my fingers crossed: So far, no one I've interviewed during several "embedded" reporting trips has appeared in the KIA notices. But there frequently are losses from brigades and battalions I've spent time with in Baghdad, Baqubah and Baiji and outside Najaf.

I also do it because I feel I owe it to each soldier to pause and read this short notice of his or her passing. It isn't much to ask.

So often the notices are about young men from small American towns I've never heard of dying in small Iraqi towns I've never heard of. May 26: "Pfc. Owen D. Witt, 20, of Sand Springs, Mont., died May 24 in Ad Dawr, Iraq, when his armored high-mobility-multipurpose-wheeled vehicle rolled over." Where is Sand Springs, Mont., I wondered. I couldn't find it in a road atlas.

Sometimes the names just strike me. "Lance Cpl. Elias Torrez III, 21, of Veribest, Texas." I think of a father and grandfather bearing the same name, and the grim news they've just received.

"Spc. Beau R. Beaulieu, 20, of Lisbon, Maine, died May 24 in Taji, Iraq, during a mortar attack on Camp Cooke." I would have liked to have met him, I thought.

Together, the notices amount to a mosaic of sacrifice, showing what parts of America have sons and daughters dying in Iraq. May 21: "Sergeant First Class Troy L. Miranda, 44, of DeQueen, Ark." They remind me that what goes on in Iraq isn't just a matter of President Bush's political future, or the billion dollars being spent there every week by the U.S. military, or the role of the United States in the world. It also is about the nearly unbearable price paid almost every day by some American family.

They aren't all from small towns, of course. There are Hispanics from big cities -- "Lance Cpl. Benjamin R. Gonzalez, 23, of Los Angeles, Calif., died May 29 due to hostile action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq." There have been more of these since the Marines went back into Iraq this spring -- the Corps seems to attract a lot of Hispanics from the coasts and from the Southwest, such as "Staff Sgt. Jorge A. Molina-Bautista, 37, of Rialto, Calif." and "1st Lt. Oscar Jimenez, 34, of San Diego, Calif."

Also, with more front-line units from the National Guard serving in Iraq, there lately have been more aging sergeants, fathers and grandfathers, such as "Command Sgt. Maj. Edward C. Barnhill, 50, of Shreveport, La."; "Sgt. Frank T. Carvill, 51, of Carlstadt, N.J."; and "Staff Sgt. William D. Chaney, 59, of Schaumburg, Ill."

The Guard units, based as they are in communities, also bring painful clusters of casualties. This was the notice that appeared on my screen at 6:12 p.m. Monday:

"Assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, headquartered in Cottage Grove, Ore.:

1st Lt. Erik S. McCrae, 25, of Portland, Ore.

Sgt. Justin L. Eyerly, 23, of Salem, Ore.

Spc. Justin W. Linden, 22, of Portland, Ore."

They are all losses, but the youngest ones haunt me most -- those Justins, Dustins, Brandons, Shawns, Kyles, Corys and Codys barely out of their teens, or sometimes still in them.

"Pfc. Cody S. Calavan, 19, of Lake Stevens, Wash., died May 29 due to hostile action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq." He was younger than my own son, I think -- born when Ronald Reagan was president, and probably still in kindergarten during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. And now he is dead somewhere in western Iraq.

I hope history finds their sacrifices worth it.

The writer covers the military for The Post.

Posted on: June 17, 2004 11:29 PM | Link: Sacrifice In the In-Box | Comments: (1)

"It is just different, that's all,"

It sounds like an argument a 14 year old might make:

Rumsfeld Says U.S. Hid Iraqi Prisoner from Red Cross
Thu Jun 17, 2004 04:57 PM ET

By Charles Aldinger

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged on Thursday that he ordered the secret detention of an Iraqi terrorism suspect held for more than seven months near Baghdad without notifying the Red Cross.

Rumsfeld told reporters CIA Director George Tenet asked him last November "to take custody of an Iraqi national who was believed to be a high-ranking member of Ansar al-Islam," which the United States has called a terrorist group.

"And we did so. We were asked to not immediately register the individual (with the International Committee of the Red Cross). And we did that," Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon briefing hours after President Bush again voiced support for the beleaguered Pentagon chief.

The Iraqi man remains in custody, and Rumsfeld said he has been treated humanely.

Rumsfeld did not explain the reasons for his actions, but added that "we are in the processing of registering" the man, whom he did not identify, with the Geneva-based ICRC.

Assigning a prisoner number and notifying the Red Cross are required under the Geneva Conventions and other international humanitarian laws.

Rumsfeld's comments came as the United States is conducting a major investigation into abuse, including sexual humiliation, of prisoners by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We should have registered him (the prisoner) much sooner than we did," Pentagon Deputy General Counsel Daniel Dellorto told the briefing.

"That's something that we'll just have to examine, as to whether there was a breakdown in the quickness with which we registered him," he said.

'GHOST' PRISONERS

Rumsfeld said the man's case was unique, but he was vague when reporters asked whether the United States was holding other "ghost" prisoners without Red Cross knowledge in Iraq.

"He has been treated humanely. There's no implication of any problem. He was not at Abu Ghraib. He is not there now. He has never been there to my knowledge," Rumsfeld added, referring to the prison on the outskirts of Baghdad where U.S. soldiers abused Iraqi prisoners.

In March, Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who investigated abuses at Abu Ghraib, criticized the holding of "ghost" detainees as "deceptive, contrary to Army doctrine, and in violation of international law."

Rumsfeld was asked how this case differed from the practice Taguba criticized. "It is just different, that's all," he said.

Washington has linked Ansar al-Islam to al Qaeda and blames it for some attacks in Iraq. Defense officials said the man was believed to be a senior official in the group and actively organizing attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

The prisoner has been held at Camp Cropper, a high-security facility near Baghdad International Airport, and has apparently been lost in the system in recent months, according to other U.S. officials, who asked not to be identified.

A report on Thursday by the rights group Human Rights First said the United States is holding terrorism suspects in more than two dozen detention centers worldwide, and about half operate in total secrecy.

At the White House meeting, Bush voiced support for Rumsfeld when reporters asked whether he was disappointed in the decision to hide the suspect from the Red Cross.

"I'm never disappointed in my secretary of defense. He's doing a fabulous job and America's lucky to have him in the position he's in," Bush said.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry told reporters in Detroit that Rumsfeld's order was a sign mishandling of prisoners reached high into the Bush administration.

Just think, this is the guy behind the plans of this whole mess... how does he still have his job?

Posted on: June 17, 2004 11:26 PM | Link: "It is just different, that's all," |

May 31, 2004

Addicted To Oil And Violence

This is just too good too pass up:

By Kurt Vonnegut

13 May , 2004 by
In These Times

Many years ago, I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and reasonable America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace.

But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America’s becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.

-------------------------

When you get to my age, if you get to my age, which is 81, and if you have reproduced, you will find yourself asking your own children, who are themselves middle-aged, what life is all about. I have seven kids, four of them adopted.

Many of you reading this are probably the same age as my grandchildren. They, like you, are being royally shafted and lied to by our Baby Boomer corporations and government.

I put my big question about life to my biological son Mark. Mark is a pediatrician, and author of a memoir, The Eden Express. It is about his crackup, straightjacket and padded cell stuff, from which he recovered sufficiently to graduate from Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Vonnegut said this to his doddering old dad: “Father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.” So I pass that on to you. Write it down, and put it in your computer, so you can forget it.

I have to say that’s a pretty good sound bite, almost as good as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” A lot of people think Jesus said that, because it is so much the sort of thing Jesus liked to say. But it was actually said by Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, 500 years before there was that greatest and most humane of human beings, named Jesus Christ.

The Chinese also gave us, via Marco Polo, pasta and the formula for gunpowder. The Chinese were so dumb they only used gunpowder for fireworks. And everybody was so dumb back then that nobody in either hemisphere even knew that there was another one.

But back to people, like Confucius and Jesus and my son the doctor, Mark, who’ve said how we could behave more humanely, and maybe make the world a less painful place. One of my favorites is Eugene Debs, from Terre Haute in my native state of Indiana. Get a load of this:

Eugene Debs, who died back in 1926, when I was only 4, ran 5 times as the Socialist Party candidate for president, winning 900,000 votes, 6 percent of the popular vote, in 1912, if you can imagine such a ballot. He had this to say while campaigning:

As long as there is a lower class, I am in it.
As long as there is a criminal element, I’m of it.
As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
Doesn’t anything socialistic make you want to throw up? Like great public schools or health insurance for all?

How about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. …

And so on.

Not exactly planks in a Republican platform. Not exactly Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney stuff.

For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

“Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon? Give me a break!

-------------------------

There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don’t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.

But, when you stop to think about it, only a nut case would want to be a human being, if he or she had a choice. Such treacherous, untrustworthy, lying and greedy animals we are!

I was born a human being in 1922 A.D. What does “A.D.” signify? That commemorates an inmate of this lunatic asylum we call Earth who was nailed to a wooden cross by a bunch of other inmates. With him still conscious, they hammered spikes through his wrists and insteps, and into the wood. Then they set the cross upright, so he dangled up there where even the shortest person in the crowd could see him writhing this way and that.

Can you imagine people doing such a thing to a person?

No problem. That’s entertainment. Ask the devout Roman Catholic Mel Gibson, who, as an act of piety, has just made a fortune with a movie about how Jesus was tortured. Never mind what Jesus said.

During the reign of King Henry the Eighth, founder of the Church of England, he had a counterfeiter boiled alive in public. Show biz again.

Mel Gibson’s next movie should be The Counterfeiter. Box office records will again be broken.

One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.

-------------------------

And what did the great British historian Edward Gibbon, 1737-1794 A.D., have to say about the human record so far? He said, “History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind.”

The same can be said about this morning’s edition of the New York Times.

The French-Algerian writer Albert Camus, who won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, wrote, “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.”

So there’s another barrel of laughs from literature. Camus died in an automobile accident. His dates? 1913-1960 A.D.

Listen. All great literature is about what a bummer it is to be a human being: Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, The Red Badge of Courage, the Iliad and the Odyssey, Crime and Punishment, the Bible and The Charge of the Light Brigade.

But I have to say this in defense of humankind: No matter in what era in history, including the Garden of Eden, everybody just got there. And, except for the Garden of Eden, there were already all these crazy games going on, which could make you act crazy, even if you weren’t crazy to begin with. Some of the games that were already going on when you got here were love and hate, liberalism and conservatism, automobiles and credit cards, golf and girls’ basketball.

Even crazier than golf, though, is modern American politics, where, thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.

Actually, this same sort of thing happened to the people of England generations ago, and Sir William Gilbert, of the radical team of Gilbert and Sullivan, wrote these words for a song about it back then:

I often think it’s comical
How nature always does contrive
That every boy and every gal
That’s born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative.
Which one are you in this country? It’s practically a law of life that you have to be one or the other? If you aren’t one or the other, you might as well be a doughnut.

If some of you still haven’t decided, I’ll make it easy for you.

If you want to take my guns away from me, and you’re all for murdering fetuses, and love it when homosexuals marry each other, and want to give them kitchen appliances at their showers, and you’re for the poor, you’re a liberal.

If you are against those perversions and for the rich, you’re a conservative.

What could be simpler?

-------------------------

My government’s got a war on drugs. But get this: The two most widely abused and addictive and destructive of all substances are both perfectly legal.

One, of course, is ethyl alcohol. And President George W. Bush, no less, and by his own admission, was smashed or tiddley-poo or four sheets to the wind a good deal of the time from when he was 16 until he was 41. When he was 41, he says, Jesus appeared to him and made him knock off the sauce, stop gargling nose paint.

Other drunks have seen pink elephants.

And do you know why I think he is so pissed off at Arabs? They invented algebra. Arabs also invented the numbers we use, including a symbol for nothing, which nobody else had ever had before. You think Arabs are dumb? Try doing long division with Roman numerals.

We’re spreading democracy, are we? Same way European explorers brought Christianity to the Indians, what we now call “Native Americans.”

How ungrateful they were! How ungrateful are the people of Baghdad today.

So let’s give another big tax cut to the super-rich. That’ll teach bin Laden a lesson he won’t soon forget. Hail to the Chief.

That chief and his cohorts have as little to do with Democracy as the Europeans had to do with Christianity. We the people have absolutely no say in whatever they choose to do next. In case you haven’t noticed, they’ve already cleaned out the treasury, passing it out to pals in the war and national security rackets, leaving your generation and the next one with a perfectly enormous debt that you’ll be asked to repay.

Nobody let out a peep when they did that to you, because they have disconnected every burglar alarm in the Constitution: The House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, the FBI, the free press (which, having been embedded, has forsaken the First Amendment) and We the People.

About my own history of foreign substance abuse. I’ve been a coward about heroin and cocaine and LSD and so on, afraid they might put me over the edge. I did smoke a joint of marijuana one time with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, just to be sociable. It didn’t seem to do anything to me, one way or the other, so I never did it again. And by the grace of God, or whatever, I am not an alcoholic, largely a matter of genes. I take a couple of drinks now and then, and will do it again tonight. But two is my limit. No problem.

I am of course notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other.

But I’ll tell you one thing: I once had a high that not even crack cocaine could match. That was when I got my first driver’s license! Look out, world, here comes Kurt Vonnegut.

And my car back then, a Studebaker, as I recall, was powered, as are almost all means of transportation and other machinery today, and electric power plants and furnaces, by the most abused and addictive and destructive drugs of all: fossil fuels.

When you got here, even when I got here, the industrialized world was already hopelessly hooked on fossil fuels, and very soon now there won’t be any more of those. Cold turkey.

Can I tell you the truth? I mean this isn’t like TV news, is it?

Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.

And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on.

Kurt Vonnegurt is a leading American novelist

© 2004 In These Times

Posted on: May 31, 2004 09:16 PM | Link: Addicted To Oil And Violence |

May 28, 2004

HOW DANGEROUS IT IS TO BELIEVE EXILES

This Machiavelli graf is lifted from Steve Gilliard's site, too good to pass up:

"And it does not appear to me to be foreign to this subject to discuss among other matters how dangerous a thing it is to believe those who have been driven out of their country, these being matters that are acted upon each day by those who govern States; and I am especially able to demonstrate this by a memorable example given by T. Livius in his history, even though it may be outside his subject.

When Alexander the Great crossed with his army into Asia, Alexander of Epirus, his brother-in-law and uncle, came with his forces into Italy, having been called there by the exiled Lucanians, who had given him the hope that he could through their means occupy all that province.

Whence he, upon their faith and hope, having come into Italy, was killed by them, because they had been promised a return to their Country by the Citizens if they would kill him. It ought to be considered, therefore, how vain are the faith and promises of those who find themselves deprived of their country

For, as to their faith, it has to be borne in mind that anytime they can return to their country by other means than yours, they will leave you and look to the other, notwithstanding whatever promises they had made you. As to their vain hopes and promises, such is the extreme desire in them to return home, that they naturally believe many things that are false and add many others by art, so that between those they believe and those they say they believe, they fill you with hope, so that relying on them you will incur expenses in vain, or you undertake an enterprise in which you ruin yourself.

The previously mentioned example of Alexander is enough for me, but in addition, that of Themistocles, the Athenian, who, having been declared a rebel, fled to Darius in Asia, where he promised him so much if he should want to assault Greece, that Darius turned to that enterprise. Themistocles, not being able to observe these promises, he poisoned himself, either from shame or from fear of punishment. And if this error was made by Themistocles, a most excellent man, it ought to be considered how much more those men err who, because of less virtu, allow themselves to be drawn by their desires and passions.

A Prince, therefore, ought to go slowly in undertaking an enterprise upon the representations of an exile, for most of the times he will be left either with shame or very grave injury. And as the taking of towns rarely succeeds by deceit or by intelligence others within may have, it does not appear outside the subject to discuss it in the following chapter, adding some account of how many ways the Romans acquired them."

Posted on: May 28, 2004 11:37 PM | Link: HOW DANGEROUS IT IS TO BELIEVE EXILES |

May 17, 2004

"deliberately misleading"

So it seems that and aide to Colin Powell tried to cut off his interview with Tim Russert on this Sunday's meet the press. It is being mentioned all over the web this morning. I am a little more interested in Powell's answer to Russert's last question though:

"But I'm also comfortable that at the time that I made the presentation it reflected the collective judgment, the sound judgment, of the intelligence community, but it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading.  And for that I'm disappointed, and I regret it."

Powell is about to go off the reservation here - if he knew he was "deliberately" misled, then he must also know who "deliberately" misled him. The plot thickens. I am not suggesting that the aide was trying to stifle his answer - she may just have been doing her job in keeping the interview to the allotted time (allegedly 10 minutes) but Powell's comment can not be taken lightly and the coincidence is interesting to say the least.

Posted on: May 17, 2004 11:30 AM | Link: "deliberately misleading" |

May 07, 2004

Abu Ghraib

It is just disgusting. That Rush Limbaugh can liken these acts to frat boy behavior is off the charts of reality. What a sick bastard this guy is.

Posted on: May 7, 2004 12:12 AM | Link: Abu Ghraib |

April 18, 2004

Desperation?

There is a certain mood of desperation in the air now, no? Unless you are an idiot, a right wing maniac or a Christian zealot you have to realize that the war on Iraq was a colossal mistake, and that the country is sliding further into chaos daily. There will certainly be more than 100 US troops killed this month (we might be at that figure already, CENTCOM has not updated there database as yet), many towns are under siege, major highways are closed, bridges have been blown up, and it seems that most of the civilian force is squirreled away inside the ever more dangerous "green zone".

Fence sitters and war supporters of all stripes have been throwing in the towel on it. Listening to our minor league president babble incoherently at press conferences to simple, pointed questions (finally!) isn't helping anything. Giving Ariel Sharon everything he wanted in the West Bank in trade for the Gaza strip only cements in the minds of Muslims everywhere that we are on the side of, in not an agent of, the state of Israel. The continued assassinations against the spiritual leaders of Hamas (Yassin, Rantisi) only cements that thought in many Arab and Muslin minds.

At the Bush/Blair news conference on Friday the President squarely put the turnover of Iraq on the shoulders of the United Nations. Pretty funny huh? Scott McClelland sputters intensely about how the President always said the UN should be involved in the "political" solution - just stay out of the way while we are doing the killing. The world is shaking their heads and laughing at us right now - those that aren't crying over the daily tragedy in Iraq.

And has anyone noticed that anyone and everyone who leaves/quits/gets forced out by this administration has nothing good to say (Clarke, Dilulio, O'Neil)? Does the American public think this is just a coincidence? They are rotten on the inside. The President is in way over his head and the country, the world, is suffering for it. I have a hope that maybe after Woodward's new book Colin Powell will come clean, step down from his post, and blast this Administration for what it is, a seething mess of partisan hacks and incompetent fools who are really only worried about one thing - power.

Posted on: April 18, 2004 10:55 AM | Link: Desperation? | Comments: (1)

April 13, 2004

they're all gonna die

A marine outside Fallujah:

Christiansen said he was unfazed by concerns that the gunmen may be using the cease-fire to regroup.

"I really don't care; they're all gonna die," he said.

That's great - they're all gonna die. Let's not forget, the "war" is over - this is an occupation. Why don't the marines just pull back to Baghdad and try to at least secure the green zone? Why risk killing countless civilians? You are now fighting amongst the citizens of the very country you were supposed to be liberating. Sure, there are some bad and dangerous people in Fallujah, but why not just leave it to them? Flattening that city just adds several more years of imbalance and chaos to the world. I am so tired and disgusted of the idiotic policies of this administration - I don't think I can take much more.

Posted on: April 13, 2004 06:17 PM | Link: they're all gonna die |

April 09, 2004

Fallujah=Jenin?

Fallujah is quickly becoming our Jenin. No military age males allowed to leave? Why - so we can kill them all? Are we going to pound a city of hundreds of thousands to dust to avenge the death of four mercenaries? On Easter weekend, while the Failure in Chief goes fishing on his ranch? Here is one giant "I told you so" for all the IDIOTS who ever thought we were right to attack Iraq. What a disaster, what a waste, what a tragedy.

Posted on: April 9, 2004 08:45 PM | Link: Fallujah=Jenin? |

December 10, 2003

Some Nuggets

Today there is an article in the New York Times about the price of gas in Iraq and the fact that Brown & Root seems to be charging twice as much to bring it into the country than other people. Old news really. Much more interesting are a couple of nuggets buried inside the story:

"The price of fuel sold in Iraq, set by the government, is 5 cents to 15 cents a gallon. The price is a political issue, and has not been raised to avoid another hardship for Iraqis."

The price is set by "the government"? Oh really? What government would we be talking about here? There is no "government" in Iraq - there was, but we took care of that. I wonder if this line was fed to the author? Of course we can't raise the price of fuel for Iraqi citizens, but we also can't use it as an excuse for the fact that Halliburton is making money in this situation.

But this is the more interesting quote to me:

"Although Iraq sits on the third-largest oil reserves in the world, production has been hampered by pipeline sabotage, power failures and an antiquated infrastructure that was hurt by 11 years of United Nations sanctions."

I have read as much news about Iraq as I can cram into my head, and as far as I can tell (without fact checking) this has to be one of the first admissions in a major news source that the country was in the crapper from the get-go (which should have been obvious to any arm chair observer). I was appalled at Condoleezza Rice's faux shock about the state of the infrastructure after we marched to Baghdad and had taken over.

Some things just don't fly - and the fact that the US totally ingnored any semblance of facts, of common sense, in the post conflict planning, is just astounding and to me borders on criminal. We shoud have had plans (at least) for all of this. We should have reached out to the Oil Ministry and others, and to neighboring nations, way before the first bombs dropped. Maybe if the Iraqi's were more involved from the begining there wouldn't have been so much sabotage to the refineries and pipe lines. Maybe if you could have showed them the profits things would be a lot better.

There has to be a point where people get tired of this kind of stuff. Why anyone is making money off of this situation is dead wrong. Why isn't the Army Corp Of Engineers just doing it at cost? If Halliburton is complaining about the dangers, then why the fuck are they there? To MAKE MONEY. The right wants to privatize everything but your privacy - war, education, energy, health care. Everything can be farmed out, off the government books (yet we are still broke!). But you just better not be sleeping with a dog (or anyone or anything else that isn't your opposite sex and your same color) or Senator Santorum will be on the watch. Something is rotten in the State of America. Things have to change.

Posted on: December 10, 2003 08:19 AM | Link: Some Nuggets |

November 29, 2003

War After The War

There is a devastatingly candid article called "War After The War" by George Packer about Iraq in The New Yorker that I just became aware of. The article should be read in its entirety.

If you have not been following the evolving "what mistakes we made" currents in the news then this is a great start. You may have not yet heard of the name Tom Warrick but you should have by now - I personally hope the man writes a book about his plans and what happened to them and him. It seems that Warrick was the leader of a State Department plan on how to deal with post-war Iraq (and had predicted - accurately - the looting and chaos that followed the fall of Baghdad) . Unfortunately the DOD and the powers that are in Washington wanted nothing to do with the plan - he was actually on Jay Garner's team for awhile, but was let go on an order from Donald Rumsfeld:

During the rock drill, Gordon W. Rudd, a professor from the Marine Corps’s Command and Staff College, who had been assigned to Garner’s team as a historian, noticed that a man sitting four rows in front of him kept interjecting comments during other people’s presentations. “At first, he annoyed me,” Rudd said. “Then I realized he was better informed than we were. He had worked the topics, while the guy onstage was a rookie.”

It was Tom Warrick, the coördinator of the State Department’s Future of Iraq Project, and his frustrations had just begun. Two weeks after the rock drill, after a meeting at the Pentagon, Rumsfeld asked Garner, “Do you have a guy named Warrick on your team?” Rumsfeld ordered Garner to remove Warrick from ORHA , adding, “This came from such a high level I can’t say no.” Warrick, who had done as much thinking about postwar Iraq as any other American official, never went to Baghdad.

This is a very illuminating fact in the bungling of the occupation/liberation, and proof that the DOD had no idea what it was going to do after the "combat" phase was over. As someone else has said, hope is not a policy. However, already having done quite a bit of reading on the Warrick story, the most informative part of the article for me was the story of Captain John Prior and his day to day dealings with the Iraqis after the end of "major combat". To say the least, Nation Building is now this soldiers job, and looks like it will be for awhile more.

The article manages to mention the fallen Administration members. Not one of which so far seems to be towing the company line:

Thomas E. White, former Secretary of The Army:

You got the impression in this exercise that we didn’t harness the best and brightest minds in a concerted effort

Jay Garner, former head of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA):

In the view of many critics, Bremer’s decision to abolish the Iraqi Army and purge high-level Baathists from the civil administration only added to the tumult in Iraq. As Jay Garner put it, the immediate result of the May 16th order was the creation of “four hundred thousand new enemies.

In the case of General Shinseki, the news and the quote are old, but the reaction from Wolfowitz bears repeating:

The second rift was over troop deployment. In February, General Eric Shinseki, the Army’s chief of staff, testified before the Senate that the occupation of Iraq would require several hundred thousand troops. This prediction prompted Wolfowitz to get on the phone with Thomas White, the Army Secretary. “He was agitated that we in the Army didn’t get it,” White recalled. “He didn’t give arguments or reasons. Their view was that it was going to go the way they said it was going to go.” Two days later, Wolfowitz appeared before the House Budget Committee and said that so high an estimate was “wildly off the mark.” He explained, “It’s hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam’s security forces and his Army. Hard to imagine.”

Go read the article, it touches on a lot of other points and really brings home the story of what a mess Iraq is today.

Posted on: November 29, 2003 09:11 PM | Link: War After The War |

September 29, 2003

Ridiculous

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 - The White House said today that it was "ridiculous" for anyone to suggest that President Bush's top political adviser had leaked secret information in an effort to discredit an outspoken critic of Mr. Bush's policy on Iraq.

I'll tell you what is "ridiculous" - when the National Security Adviser of the United States can't remember to take faulty claims out of a State of The Union Address:

Condoleeza Rice on NBC's Meet The Press -

"It’s not a matter of getting back in. It’s a matter, Tim, that three-plus months later, people didn’t remember that George Tenet had asked that it be taken out of the Cincinnati speech and then it was cleared by the agency. I didn’t remember. Steve Hadley didn’t remember. "

You are the person who said "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud". And then you can't remember the alleged facts that would ever support such a statement? You send a former US Ambassador to get to the bottom of the story, and when he comes back with the wrong answer, you out his wife as a CIA agent, and then you say YOU FORGOT!!! You are talking about a country attacking us with NUCLEAR WEAPONS - the only real WMD - and you say you forgot...

Who is buying this garbage? Tim Russert went too easy on Rice on Sunday - he should have asked how she could sit there and lie to his face on national television. Where is the accountability in this Administration?

Posted on: September 29, 2003 04:08 PM | Link: Ridiculous |

April 17, 2003

One Thousand More Inspectors?

"Inspectors do not need more time or personnel" President George Bush, March 07, 2003

About seven weeks ago, UN inspectors were deemed to have enough people to do their job by the President. It was only, "the full co-operation of the Iraqi people" that we were waiting for, and then all the illegal Iraqi weapons would be found!

Here is today's headline from CNN.com:

"WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States is sending a 1,000-man team to Iraq to hunt for weapons of mass destruction, Pentagon officials said Thursday."

So where about 100 inspectors and 100 support staff were deemed sufficient to get the job done when we were still assembling in the Kuwaiti parking lot, now - when we control the whole country, have had the several hundred thousand ground troops on the look out, and already have a stealth weapons team of about 50 civilian experts on the ground WHO CAN'T FIND ANYTHING - now, we need to send an additional team on ONE THOUSAND to find the weapons!

This is dangerous PR being played by the administration. With this many people dedicated to finding weapons, the public humiliation of failure to find some will be enormous. And already there has been noise that anything found at this stage won't be without conspiracy theories attached.

Will these inspectors find anything? Who knows - that is not the point. The point is that this is just one more act of blatant hypocrisy by the President and his administration.

Posted on: April 17, 2003 10:53 PM | Link: One Thousand More Inspectors? | Comments: (2)

April 01, 2003

Your Tax Dollars At Work

I really don't know what to say about this photo, other than that a plan of attack that leads to this has to be flawed somewhere. This is from Reuters from March 29. The caption was as follows:

"A wounded Iraqi girl is treated by U.S. marines in central Iraq March 29, 2003. Confused front line crossfire ripped apart an Iraqi family on Saturday after local soldiers appeared to force civilians towards U.S. marines positions. The four-year old girl, blood streaming from an eye wound, was screaming for her dead mother, while her father, shot in a leg, begged to be freed from the plastic wrist cuffs slapped on him by U.S. marines, so he could hug his other terrified daughter."

"Your Tax Dollars At Work" »

Posted on: April 1, 2003 10:15 PM | Link: Your Tax Dollars At Work | Comments: (2)

March 26, 2003

BBC Reporters Web Log

The BBC Web site has an interesting page set up for their reporters assigned to the war. They can post to this quick impressions in a timely way. Here is recent entry:

"Safwan, Iraq :: Valerie Jones :: 1359GMT

I have just crossed into Southern Iraq with the Kuwaiti Red Crescent and the first load of humanitarian aid. There are really chaotic scenes here, people are scrambling for food and climbing into the trucks.

There are three trucks, carrying food stuffs and water. This is a gesture the Kuwaiti Red Crescent wanted to make from the Kuwaiti people, but this is not the reaction they expected.

We got to the border town of Safwan, as the doors of the trucks were opened people scambled inside and grabbed the boxes and bags of food. They started throwing them out into the crowd.

One man told me they really needed these supplies as there was no water in Safwan. Soldiers are here with us but are uncertain about the mood of the crowd, some are chanting Saddam good, Bush bad.

The military are now circling the trucks and are hoping the scene will calm down."

Posted on: March 26, 2003 01:52 PM | Link: BBC Reporters Web Log | Comments: (2)

March 21, 2003

The "War" Is In Full Effect

The afternoon of March 21, 2003 and the "War" against Iraq is in full effect - maybe. It is becoming increasingly clear that almost none of what is heard on the radio, or seen on the major networks, or anything written anywhere is to be trusted as factual (for example see this article which briefly mentions the Tariq Aziz defection story). There is a major psychological warfare game going on and even what appears to be credible news can be a complete fabrication.

"The "War" Is In Full Effect" »

Posted on: March 21, 2003 04:57 PM | Link: The "War" Is In Full Effect |