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Today in Iraq

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Cartoon: "Unknown war criminal pays tribute to unknown soldier", by Steve Bell.



Three groups of gunmen wearing military uniforms but arriving in civilian cars kidnap at least 24 Iraqis working at a money exchange and two electronics stores in Baghdad Tuesdady. The assaults happened separately but within the same half-hour period.

Car bomb explodes as police exchanged fire with two attackers outside a police station south of Baghdad, wounding at least a dozen people.

Five people wounded when roadside bomb explodes near restaurant in north Baghdad.

Member of interior ministry's public order brigade injured by gunfire in the southern Dura district.

Iraqi intelligence agent shot by gunmen in the southern Risala neighborhood.

Iraqi police patrols find 14 dead bodies in execution-style in western Baghdad district. The bodies were blindfolded, bound and shot in the head.

Civilian injured when vehicle filled with explosives detonates in northwestern Baghdad.


Gunmen attack car carrying Iraqi contractors in Tikrit, killing two and wounding one. The men provided construction and other services to U.S. troops.


Roadside bomb targeting police patrol explodes in Kirkuk, wounding four policemen and two children walking to school.

Six policemen wounded by bomb targeting their patrol 20 kilometers west of Kirkuk. Rhree of them are listed in critical condition.


Curfew imposed in city of Beiji to try to combat rise in violence there. It was not clear how long it would last.

Balad Ruz:

Rocket slamms into house north of Baghdad near Balad Ruz and wounds six people, including two children.


Bomb placed in front of house of local correspondent for US-funded Radio Sawa, explodes, killing three pedestrians. The correspondent escaped unscathed.


Two policemen injured when bomb goes off against their patrol near Samarra.


Gunmen abduct Dean of Anbar University in Ramadi.


All 37 members of the Baghdad provincial council suspend cooperation with the United States in reconstruction projects planned for the remainder of the year, as well as political and security coordination, said council chairman Moeen al-Khadimi. He said the local government would try to rely instead on the budget allocated to it by the Finance Ministry and on the money that comes from donor countries.

Rival Shia groups unite against US after mosque raid: Senior ministers from the three main Shia factions united yesterday to denounce an American raid on a Baghdad mosque complex in which at least 20 people died, opening the biggest rift between the US and Iraq's majority Shia community since the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

Exactly what happened on Sunday night is in dispute, but in a political sense it no longer matters. Tension between the Americans and Shia leaders had been rising for weeks, since Washington started pushing for Mr Jabr's replacement as police minister and went on to oppose Mr Jaafari remaining as prime minister.

The Americans insisted yesterday that they had raided the complex after receiving intelligence that it was being used to hold hostages, store weapons and harbour insurgents. "In our observation of the place and the activities that were going on, it's difficult for us to consider this a place of prayer," said Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson, a spokesman. "It was not identified by us as a mosque... I think this is a matter of perception." A brief US communique in the first hours after the incident said "no mosques were entered or damaged".

At the mosque complex yesterday there was a large hole in the door of the prayer hall. A grenade lay on the floor. The wall of the imam's house next door had been blasted open. Rooms were bloodstained and four cars were burnt out.

"Just before prayers at 6.15, we were surprised by US and Iraqi national guards raining fire on us. Anyone who went out was shot dead," Ihssan Kamel Ali, who was in the mosque at the time, said yesterday. "The national guard came in first, then the Americans. They had a man with a Lebanese accent with them. He sneered at us and said what we were reading was not the Qur'an. I heard sounds of explosions. I saw between 17 and 20 bodies. What upset me most was that there was a wounded man. An Iraqi soldier asked an officer what to do with him. The officer said 'Just finish him off'."

Iraqi police identified seven of the dead as members of the Mahdi army, a militia formed by the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Salam al Maliki, the transport minister who heads a group of 30 MPs loyal to Mr Sadr, said Shia leaders suspended discussions yesterday on forming a new government in protest at the assault.

Senior Iraqi politician says Bush had made clear he did not want Jaafari to lead a new government. Bush had written to Shi'ite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim urging him to nominate someone else, Rida Jawad al-Takki, an aide to Hakim, said in a statement telephoned to Reuters. Takki said the letter was transmitted by U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been trying to broker agreement among Shi'ite, Kurdish and Sunni Arab leaders on a unity government.

"George Bush sent a letter via Khalilzad to Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, as head of the Alliance, telling him that George Bush does not wish or want Ibrahim al-Jaafari to be prime minister," Takki, who is from Hakim's SCIRI party, said. A spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy said she was unaware of such a communication and said it was not U.S. policy to interfere in the process of forming a government: "This is an Iraqi decision," she said.

The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) is the biggest party within the United Iraqi Alliance bloc, which includes Jaafari's Dawa party.

Saddam Hussein publishes letter addressed to Arab leaders at summit of in Khartoum: The independent Palestinian-owned daily [the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi] quoted Saddam`s letter as warning against an American plan aimed at dividing Iraq into three states for the Kurds, Shiites and Arab Sunnis. The former Iraqi president, who wrote in the beginning of his letter that he is writing to the Arab leaders despite differences with some of them, cautioned the fragmentation of Iraq was a prelude to dividing the rest of the Arab countries. Saddam insisted that what was happening now in his country was not a result of American mistakes, but an orchestrated attempt to divide the country based on sectarianism.

He compared events in Iraq to those in Palestine, Sudan, Syria and Lebanon, and 'what is being prepared in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Arab Gulf and the Arab Maghreb.' The former leader accused the U.S. occupation authorities of coordinating with Iran to incite sectarian sedition and civil war in Iraq, blaming the occupation for the explosion of a holy Shiite shrine in Samarra last month. He also urged the Arabs to support the Iraqi resistance against the occupation, saying the 'historic solution to save the Arab nation is through providing material, political and media support to the armed Iraqi resistance, and to stop conspiring against it.'


Here's a radical idea: Let's ask a soldier who's there what he thinks: Recently there has been much debate on the talk shows about whether or not the media is slanting the news out of Iraq. The President and others have been blasting the media (except for Fox) for only showing the bad news.

I believe that press coverage in Iraq is definitely too narrow.

But too negative? I don't think so. If you are looking for good news stories in a war zone, you are looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place. It is like looking for virgins at the Playboy mansion - you might find a few, but they're certainly not the majority. If you want good news stories, go to Disneyland. Not Iraq.

NBC's Richard Engel offered his take from Iraq, saying "The situation on the ground is worse than the images we project on television." Conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham had a heated exchange with David Gregory on "The Today Show" about the topic. Later, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann fired back at Ingraham on "Countdown" with this segment.

So who is right?

I thought I'd try something new: I asked a soldier on the ground what he thinks about this debate. The guy I asked is a very trusted old friend of mine - an infantryman serving in Ramadi right now who supported the initial invasion of Iraq 100%. To protect him, I will call him "The Cardinal." I know that many of the critics are going to say I made this guy up-that he is a fictional person. I assure you that he is not. And when he gets back from Iraq, he will be more than willing to reveal himself to all my readers and prove it. Now this is just one soldier's perspective. But it is a perspective that is infinitely more credible and personally invested than Laura Ingraham - or anyone else I have seen attacking the press lately.

So, I asked "The Cardinal" one simple question: "What do you say when people say the media doesn't tell enough good news stories out of Iraq?"

His response [via email, sic all]:
I never hear that because we all here know the good news stories are bullshit and do not really affect the mission in any way. It's like this thing we keep saying here about all the new people we've recruited for the iraqi police. It leaves out the fact that my platoon was in a 40 minute gun fight with the iraqi police. So you recruited more of them ... awesome! I am sure that will make everything better. Also, they don't do ANYTHING. They don't even leave their building, and that is not an exaggeration. They don't. So what good is a billion-man police force that doesn't do anything? Also, they get almost no training. They tried to stand up some kind of mentoring initiative here using the guardsmen that are civilian cops, but it so far has fallen through. They will get set up to be killed, as is already suspected of the THREE SVBIEDs that have hit their station. Inside jobs, all. During our fight with them, we picked up the police chief (who was riding in a car that was shooting at a coalition vehicle-an M1A1. You know how that story ends) and he was with a guy (who it turned out was his nephew) who had this radical islamic terrorist literature on him. It would be a joke if it weren't costing our lives.

"the iraqi army is making progress and we're handing over more and more to them everyday." Complete bullshit. What's the good news in the fact that all their logistics, medical, engineering, staff function, etc. is being done by us? ALL OF IT. And PS, they're not being trained on any of the other shit, either, except a broken medical training program.

You can clearly see by reading the news how much it matters that X number of people have power now. The bottom line is, the overwhelming majority of people live in fear. We can do NOTHING to help them. We don't have anywhere near the manpower, and our actions are too severely restricted. Good thing 2500 people died for this.

What are the good news stories? I would love to hear them. Spare me the heart warming tales of a single family or school or neighborhood that was helped. Operation Iraqi Freedom is, at this point, an abject failure. This is the most dangerous place on earth and it's getting worse, not better.

Also, you have to consider that our definition of good news is not the iraqi definition of good news. These people are not americans. Culturally, they do not respect or appreciate the same things we do. "Our neighborhood has power now! It's about time, infidels. What about the water?" "Hey, thanks for the medicine for our clinic! I'm still totally supporting the insurgency, but at least i can provide them better medical care now." Giving them shit does not win their allegiance. They don't think, "wow, I was wrong about americans." It just gives them shit.

The "we don't hear good news from Iraq" mindset is one that is totally ignorant of Iraqi culture. There is no good news. There's a bunch of people getting handed shit, and it doesn't change a single thing."
U.S. commander in charge of training cedes point on Iraq handover: Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the U.S. commander in charge of training Iraq forces, told Pentagon reporters he "stands by" the March 17 assessment of his colleague, Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the second-ranking U.S. commander in Baghdad. Chiarelli, who is commanding general of Multi-National Corps-Iraq, said March 17 that the coalition's goal is to turn over control of 75 percent of the country's territory to the Iraqi security forces by summer's end.

But Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, believes the hand-over emphasis is "nonsense." With almost the entire western half of Iraq virtually empty desert, "the figures vastly overestimate the actual area of influence and are at least as meaningless as the worst reporting on pacification in Vietnam," Cordesman wrote in a March 22 paper for CSIS. "The Iraqi forces don't control anything like these areas, ignoring what 'control' of empty desert means."

Dempsey said Cordesman "has a valid point."

"I fear that we will meet the same fate as our brothers and sisters in Fallujah": Arbitrary arrests and pre-dawn house-to-house raids have cast a pall over the picturesque Iraqi town of Al-Madaen, southeast of Baghdad, with locals fearing that the aggressive tactics were a prelude for "another Fallujah."

"I fear that we will meet the same fate as our brothers and sisters in Fallujah," a terrified woman told IslamOnline.net Monday, March 27, requesting anonymity. Scores of people have been detained by Iraqi security forces, backed by US troops, during crackdown operations in the city since the February bombing of the Shiite shrine of Imam Ali Al-Hadi in Samarra.

Up to 450 civilians, mostly Sunnis, were killed and 81 Sunni mosques targeted, including eight completely destroyed, in reprisal attacks triggered by the bombing of the celebrated Shiite shrine. The continued crackdowns and arrests have also turned Al-Maden into a ghost city, with shops and markets forced to close down.

Residents furthers said threats by self-styled and sometimes government-sanctioned Shiite militias have added insult to injury. They accused the militias of sending many locals into panicky flight on the heels of the Samarra bombing, which was strongly condemned by Sunni leaders.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said on Saturday, March 25, that militias, many with strong ties to powerful Shiite leaders and well entrenched in security and police forces, are killing more Iraqis than "terrorists," urging Iraqi leaders to rein them in.

An attack on a police station, which left four police officers killed, also fueled tension in the city. Gunmen blasted the police station with grenade and mortar fire on Wednesday, March 22. Following the assault, the Iraqi police randomly detained about 70 people.

Last April, the town of Al-Madaen came under a joint US-Iraqi attack on claims of rescuing Shiites reportedly taken hostage by militants holing up in the town. A 1,500-strong Iraqi force backed by US troops moved into the town without resistance, finding its streets deserted, shops shuttered and most of its 7,000 residents hiding inside their homes. No hostages had been found and the hostage crisis turned out to be a hoax.

US Troops Detained Iraqi Wives to Get Husbands: A declassified military memo shows that US occupation forces in Iraq had detained wives of men believed to be resistance fighters to pressure the suspects into giving themselves up. The document, written on June 10, 2004, by a civilian Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officer, said Task Force 6-26 personnel, cited in other documents in connection with prisoner abuse, detained the wife of "a suspected terrorist" in the Tarmiya district, reported Reuters.

"The 28-year-old woman had three young children at the house, one being as young as six months and still nursing," read the memo, part of documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) under court order through the Freedom of Information Act. "Her husband was the primary target of the raid, with other suspect personnel subject to detainment as well," it added.

"During the pre-operational brief, it was recommended by TF (task force) personnel that if the wife were present, she be detained and held in order to leverage the primary target's surrender." The memo's author documented his objection to the detainment of the young mother to the raid team leader and officially reported the incident within the chain of command.

"During my initial screening of the occupants at the target house, I determined that the wife could provide no actionable intelligence leading to the arrest of her husband," he said. "Despite my protest, the raid team leader detained her anyway," wrote the intelligence officer. "I believed it was a dead issue."

The incident is not unprecedented. US troops kidnapped a mother and three girls in August of 204 in Al-Latifia district, 70 kilometers south of Baghdad.

After the downfall of the Saddam Hussein's regime, US occupation forces held captive the two wives and sister of former Iraqi vice president Izat Al-Douri to pressure him. Five women were among 419 Iraqi detainees released by the US occupation forces on Thursday, January 26.

On May 12, 2004, the Guardian reported that US occupation forces had released most of Iraqi female detainees as the bombshell of abuse scandal was still unfolding. It pointed out then that Iraqi female prisoners were kept in solitary confinement up to 23 hours a day, adding it saw pictures of US soldiers raping Iraqi women or photographing them naked in prison.

A freed detainee told the Arabic-language Al-Wasat, a weekly supplement of the mass-circulation London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, about her ordeal inside a US prison and how she had been gang-raped by US forces.

Iraqi resistance assists in Rumsfeld's expectation:

"Rumsfeld says he still expects a reduction in U.S. troops this year…" --- March 23, 2006
Video 1: Jaish Mujahideen sniper reduces number of American occupation soldiers in Samarra

[The above video shows the last seconds in the life of U.S. Corporal Nyle Yates III, 22, of Lake Odessa, Michigan, "a Task Force Band of Brothers Soldier from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division was shot and killed while manning an observation post in Samarra March 16" (CENTCOM casualty release).]

Video 2: Jaish Mujahideen sniper again reduces the number of American occupation soldiers in Samarra

Video 3: Jaish Islami reduces number of Abrams tanks in Samarra

BBC between gossip and propaganda:

Dear Paul,

What a 'good morning' you have given me today! I have just read "Iraqi documents: Saddam's delusions" (Paul Reynolds, World Affairs Correspondent, BBC News website). After reading the long, detailed and analytical article, at the very bottom of it I read:

However, a note of caution is due here which is also introduced by the US Army unit releasing the documents. It says: "The US government has made no determination regarding the authenticity of the documents."
What a surprise (sic!) and reading it at the very end of the article! Why don't you put the "caution" at the beginning and use "quotation marks" for your article's title? People interested in gossip would be thrilled!

Have a good week-end.

Best wishes,
Gabriele Zamparini


Dear Gabriele

How nice to hear from you again.

May I ask you the following questions?

1. Have you read the Foreign Affairs magazine article?

2. Have you read the full report from USJSCOM?

3. Have you read any of the documents released by Joint Reserve Intelligence Center?

All are linked to from my article, so you should have no trouble in finding them.

When you have read them ( I assume you have not as your message to me said that you had 'just read' the article), we can discuss them further perhaps.

Thank you for your time.

with regards



Dear Paul,

"How nice to hear from you again" indeed.

You can of course ask all the questions you like. It would be nice though if you could answer first the questions I asked you.

Why did you put the "caution" at the end of the article? Being a "caution", it's simply logical to put it at the beginning. Which kind of "caution" comes after?!

Also, in the "caution" at the very end of your article, you write: "The US government has made no determination regarding the authenticity of the documents." The original text of the "caution" (PLEASE, NOTE THAT THE US GOVERNMENT WEBSITE PUTS THE CAUTION AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE), reads:
At the request of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the US Army Foreign Military Studies Office has created this portal to provide the general public with access to unclassified documents and media captured during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The US Government has made no determination regarding the authenticity of the documents, validity or factual accuracy of the information contained therein, or the quality of any translations, when available. Users who come across documents they feel are inappropriately released may contact the responsible officers at docex@center.osis.gov. The ODNI press release and public affairs contact information is available at http://www.odni.gov
They are very simple questions Paul.

1) Why didn't you put the "caution" at the beginning?

2) Why does the "caution" used by the US government is more cautious of the one you used?

3) Why do you always use in your article verbs in certainty tenses and never in doubt tenses. For example "Among the documents is one that demonstrates how the Iraqis supported the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines." Demonstrate? What about the "caution" Paul?

Will you be so kind to answer my questions? And what's that "perhaps" supposed to mean?

Thank you for your time.

Best wishes,

PS Don't worry Paul, you will have the pleasure to "hear from [me] again". After all, the BBC is a public service paid for by public money. And I do all I can to make sure my money are well spent.

The Procrastinator-in-Chief: There were a couple of head-shaking moments this week that forced me to acknowledge the obvious: As bad as things are, they can, and likely will, get worse. The only real connection between these two media events was how much we already knew about what was supposed to be "the news," and the completely unappetizing sheen they draped on the future.

First, the president admitted that he got us into a war which he was not going to get us out of. He acknowledged that when he is back in Crawford enjoying his retirement, clearing brush and shooting quail, American troops will still be in Iraq, fighting and dying for reasons that the majority of Americans have yet to understand, though the president keeps explaining and re-explaining them.

Asked if he foresaw a day when there would be no U.S. troops in Iraq, the president grew visionary, anticipating a time after he has left the White House. "That, of course, is an objective," he said in response to a reporter's question, "and that will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq." After that burst of candor, Bush was pressed on whether such an objective was possible during what was left of his administration. He retreated to platitudes. Since everyone knows exactly how much time he has left in office, he reasoned, to envision a complete withdrawal during that period would be setting a timetable, and, as we know, this president does not negotiate with timetables.

"A complete withdrawal?" he asked. "That's a timetable. I can only tell you that I will make decisions on force levels based upon what the commanders on the ground say."

This should not have been surprising. It has been clear for a long time that Iraq was going to be a long war, but having grown used to the rosy, fact-free storytelling that comes out of the White House, we just don't expect the truth when the news is bad. Frankly, there was something about Bush's admission that made the long-term reality of the war very concrete. To me, the suggestion that the debacle of Iraq was something to be passed on from administration to administration, without resolution, was more than a little maddening.

Australian view: Sliding towards the vortex: In Sydney, these days, it threatens to rain a lot, but never really does. We get scattered showers that are never enough to break the drought. But it wasn't this that sent spasms of foreboding seeping up from my tail - it was an ominous feeling that the neocon madmen were about to plunge the world into chaos with another precipitate move.

I slouched across the lane to the Brushtail Café, where I found Gloomy Janice the journalist hunkered down with the papers and herlaptop.

"What's news, Gloomy?" I asked, after I'd fetched a cider from the bar. She launched straight into it.

"Have you noticed how Bush, Blair, and the right-wing columnists have shifted their rhetoric over the last few weeks? Not so long ago their whole Iraq dialogue was about evil Sunni Baathist terrorists. Now it's all about evil Iranian Shiites and they're saying the Tehran mullahs are supplying the roadside bombs used to target Coalition troops.

"Of course, that's sillier than absurd. In fact, the pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Iraq are currently the Coalition's only allies - apart from the Kurds - and the puppet Iraqi army is recruited mostly from their followers. The people fighting the occupation are Sunnis and Baathists. Every half-bright person in the world knows that."

"Yeah, but about 40 per cent of Americans think The X Files was a documentary and the world was created 6,000 years ago", I replied. "They're the people who vote for Bush. They're so dumb they'll buy anything. I remember before the invasion, Bush was saying Saddam Hussein was cooperating with al-Qaeda, and of course that turned out to be a lie, but at least the alleged al-Qaeda leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi , was a Sunni like Saddam. Now they're trying to tell us that the Shiite Iranians are collaborating with the very Sunni Wahabist fanatics who've supposedly sworn to wipe them out. Which reminds me, whatever happened to Abu Musab? We haven't been hearing much about the Tin-leg Terrorist lately."

"Ah, courtesy of The New York Times, there's a new yarn about the Wicked Wahabist. It seems his legendary 'al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia' group has sidelined him. They say it's joined an alliance of resistance groups and it's sworn off beheadings. Of course there's no proof of any of this. It's written by a jerk called Dexter Filkins who's apparently holed up in the Green Zone."

She scanned a page on her laptop. "His stuff is full journalistic weasel words like 'experts believe', 'while it is impossible to verify', 'signals which offer clues', 'growing indications', and 'evidence has surfaced'. Slippery formulations like that string together a soup of speculation based on hints from shadowy 'officials' and 'independent terrorism experts'. In other words it's the unofficial, official position from the occupation forces.

"But through all this, the al-Qaeda wildmen and the rest of the resistance are sounding, for the first time, vaguely like organised, half-rational, semi-civilized folk the US might be able to do business with."

"Weird. What's behind this change of line?"

"Well, think of it as an insurance policy. The resistance hate the Iranian leadership and every day now, the Bush regime ratchets up the rhetoric against Iran. Bush's people are constantly threatening a military solution to Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Many people assume, or hope, that the US is just posturing, but bluffing is a dangerous game. If your bluff is called, what do you do then? If Tehran calls Bush's bluff and he fails to act, US prestige and authority will decline dramatically and that will embolden the nations and movements resisting the super-power's tyrannical hold over world affairs."

"So what's going to happen in Iraq if the US does in fact fall upon Iran in an orgy of aerial destruction?"

"Well firstly, the existing Iraqi puppet army and police - based as they are on the most fanatical sectarian Shiite elements - are going to melt away and they'll reappear as pro-Iranian guerrillas."

"And that would mean that the occupation had no puppet government and no Iraqi allies. Scary."

"Scary is right. So they gotta try and find new allies from amongst the Sunni and Baathist groups that are now their bitter enemies. Step one, re-humanise the folk your spin-doctors were previously de-humanising."

Joadja, who'd been listening with half an ear from behind the bar, came over to join us.

"My head's spinning", she said. "You mean the Yanks are going to try the weirdest and most blatant side-swapping exercise in the history of politics and warfare?"

"Yeah, if they have to. It all depends on whether their dumb president and his Zionist neocon advisors go completely nuts and order the attack on Iran they've been preparing for months."

"And what if they don't?"

"It'll mean that Bush tried to stare down the Iranians, but he blinked first. Disaster time for US imperialism; disaster time for the Republican Party. Bush's presidency would be finished. That's why, I reckon, he'll play diplomatic games with Tehran for a few weeks, and then he'll attack. Most probably, we're sliding towards the vortex."

"Holy Mother of Marx! What'd happen to the Australian troops there?"

"Things would get very hairy indeed ... and for the Brits, the Italians, the Japanese and the Poles. Add all these little contingents up and you'd be lucky to get 15,000 fighting troops spread over a number of small vulnerable bases. They'd be quickly overrun by the Shiite militias, no doubt with a little help from the Iranian army. Their best bet would be to make a dash for the Kuwait border under cover of US air power."

Bush was set on war. Who knew?: Following well behind other news sources, the New York Times is out with the shocking news that George Bush was intent on war in January, 2003. As if anyone with two eyes and two brain cells to rub together didn't recognize that fact well before that January.

What's interesting about this story isn't what the Times is "revealing." What's interesting to me is that more and more government insiders are trying in some way to jump ship (or perhaps to salve their guilty consciences) and get this information out to the public (e.g., slipping copies of memos to Times reporters), and more and more news outlets (like the Times) are willing to run with such stories. Think about this - the Times says they have now seen the memo of this secret meeting. How exactly did they authenticate this memo? Is there any proof it has any more authenticity than the memos which got Dan Rather in so much trouble? I doubt it. But the Times is willing to run with this memo now. Why? Because they know how strongly the world public opposes this war and occupation, and they have to in some way accomodate that fact. They are, after all, a news business, and need to retain some credibility in order to continue selling their product. Being in denial may work for George Bush, but it wouldn't work for the Times. Not to the same degree, anyway.

Rice's new war rationale: While Bush has insisted that his invasion of Iraq was "preemptive" - defined as an act of self-defense to thwart an impending attack - his argument is not only laughable in the case of Iraq, but has been contradicted by his own advisers, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In a March 26 interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," Rice offered a different rationale for invading Iraq. She agreed that Hussein was not implicated in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks nor did she assert that he was conspiring with al-Qaeda on another assault. Instead, Rice justified invading Iraq and ousting Hussein because he was part of the "old Middle East," which she said had engendered hatreds that led indirectly to 9/11.

"If you really believe that the only thing that happened on 9/11 was people flew airplanes into buildings, I think you have a very narrow view of what we faced on 9/11," Rice said. "We faced the outcome of an ideology of hatred throughout the Middle East that had to be dealt with. Saddam Hussein was a part of that old Middle East. The new Iraq will be a part of the new Middle East, and we will all be safer."

Rice's argument - that Bush has the right to invade any country that he feels is part of a culture that might show hostility toward the United States - represents the most expansive justification to date for launching the Iraq War. It goes well beyond waging "preemptive" or even "predictive" war. Rice is asserting a U.S. right to inflict death and destruction on Muslim countries as part of a social-engineering experiment to eradicate their perceived cultural and political tendencies toward hatred.

Despite the extraordinary implications of Rice's declaration, her comment passed almost unnoticed by the U.S. news media, which gave much more attention to her demurring on the possibility of becoming the next National Football League commissioner. Yet Rice's new war rationale, combined with the British memo on Bush's determination to invade Iraq regardless of the facts, should be more than enough evidence to put Bush, Rice, Blair and other U.S. and British officials before a war crimes tribunal.

But that would only happen if Justice Jackson were right about the universal application of the principle against aggressive wars - and if all nations and leaders actually lived by the same rules.

-- Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.

Bush's Road Leads to Ruin for Himself and His Pirates

On the day that the Iraq invasion began, BC [Black Commentator] was certain that the U.S. Pirate class led by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were on a fool's errand, a delusional mission that would turn the world's people definitively against the United States, and lead to defeat. That defeat is now accepted as a matter of fact by a majority of Americans - although it is by no means clear that most Americans understand the reasons they have been beaten.

Written as the first bombs fell in Baghdad, this article was prescient in its prediction of how the conflict ultimately would unfold. Here it is, as composed on March 19, 2003, and published on March 20 - The Editors.

We are all assembled, the world's people, awaiting the Pirates' lunge at history. The Bush men have made sure we pay rapt attention to their Big Bang, their epochal Event, after which the nature of things will have changed unalterably to their advantage - they think. The Bush men are certain of our collective response, convinced that once we have witnessed The Mother of All War Shows, humanity will react according to plan, and submit.

Bush was already savoring the New American Century just days ago, when he summoned his underlings from Britain and Spain to the Azores to make yet another final pronouncement. "We concluded that tomorrow is a moment of truth for the world," Bush said.

Spoken like a King. Or The Man Who Would Be King.

Rudyard Kipling's tale of an English colonial soldier drunk on his imagined power over the natives is eerily appropriate. The projected fruits of Shock and Awe - the power to pillage the world with impunity - utterly bedazzled and blinded the perpetrators of the staged holocaust, even before the Event itself had unfolded. In the days between the final U.S. ultimatum and the invasion, American political and corporate media players were visibly shaken by the clear and unanimous world revulsion at U.S. imperiousness.

"Are we going back to The White Man's Burden?" Arab League UN Ambassador Yahya Mahmassani shot at CNN's startled Wolf Blitzer. "Is this the 21st Century?"

Yes, it is, and George Bush and his armies cannot wrench away the provenance of Time to lift again the Burden that even Kipling knew the White Man was not fit to bear.

No one can predict the specific ways in which nations and movements will resist Bush's aggression against civilization. What is certain is that the Pirates have succeeded in arraying important sectors of every other nation on the planet in opposition to Washington's hegemony. Bush has made the name that is our patrimony - "America" - a curse on the lips of much of the world.

If Shock and Awe is essentially a horrific psychological warfare exercise - and it is - the assault on humanity's collective sensibilities has already had disastrous, unintended effects.

Although they are incapable of realizing it, the Bush men have revealed themselves to the world - the audience for Shock and Awe - as grotesquely ugly, brutish, irredeemably repugnant human beings whose touch must be avoided under all circumstances. Every plan and project of individuals and nations will be shaped by having witnessed a racist America raining fire on a weaker people - and reveling in the crime.

Bush's plan for world domination was doomed before the burning, blasting, thundering, screaming display. The Pirates have accelerated the processes of their own ruin.

As we wrote in the March 6 issue of BC.

"The impending war against Iraq is an oil currency war, a preemptive strike against the euro's potential to challenge the U.S. dollar as the sole denominator of petroleum purchases. By seizing the Iraqi oil fields and positioning itself to do the same in Saudi Arabia, Iran and throughout the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea and South Asia, the U.S. can stop the euro cold and rule as its own OPEC, awesomely armed and dreadfully dangerous. The dollar will remain supreme, backed by the oil reserves of the globe."

That was the plan. However, as the world watched the U.S. morph into its predatory essence month by month, a collective, global withdrawal from America became apparent. Clyde V. Prestowitz Jr., president of the Economic Strategy Institute and author of the forthcoming book Rogue Nation, describes the phenomenon.

"Over the past year, private foreign investment in the United States has fallen dramatically. It has been partially offset by increased buying of U.S. Treasury notes by Asian governments. But, at the same time, some governments like Russia have also begun to shift some of their reserve currency holdings from dollars to euros. As a result, we have seen the dollar fall in value against the euro by about 25 percent. That kind of a decline occurs when foreigners decide to put their money someplace other than the United States."

War is the great and terrible engine of history. Bush and his Pirates hope to employ that engine to harness Time and cheat the laws of political economy, to leapfrog over the contradictions of their parasitical existence into a new epoch of their own imagining.

Instead, they have lunged into the abyss, from which no one will extricate them, for they will be hated much more than feared.

In attempting to break humanity's will to resist, the Bush pirates have reached too far.
WAR MAKING 101 - A USER'S MANUAL [Excerpts]: I'll lay out what I call a war maker's manual, step by step or rule by rule, from when we were new at this ugly business and still learning to the present. Ready? Here we go.



Rule No. 7 (the last one) - Your manual is almost complete, and you're about to become as expert at this game as the big boys actually playing it. The only step left is to do at home everything you want to do abroad without having to nuke the public to sell it. Scaring hell out of them should do the trick.

We may find out and sooner than we think if it'll work. But this time we may be getting in over our heads and headed for the abyss if the alarm sounded by retired General Tommy Franks proves true. A few months after he retired he gave an interview to Cigar Aficionado magazine (a most unlikely venue - maybe he envisioned the world going up in smoke) and made what to some was an astonishing statement. He said if another terrorist attack occurs in the US "the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government." He went on to say such an attack will result in our losing our "freedom and liberty we've seen for a couple of hundred years......(and that Bush)..... will likely declare martial law......."

Have I ruined your day? Fasten your seat belt, it gets worse. For some time now, a number of US government officials and private "terrorism" experts are on record predicting it's just a matter of when, not if, the US will be struck again. Some say it will be worse than 9/11. And on June 6, 2003, the AP quoted a US government report that "there is a high probability that al-Qaida will attempt an attack with weapons of mass destruction in the next two years." Now I'd never advise anyone believe anything said by any government official. But those of us, including myself, convinced our own government was behind or complicit in the first 9/11 attack, should take this warning very seriously. It means if that conclusion is true (and again, I believe it is) this warning and General Franks' grim assessment may, in fact, be advance word of what's ahead. We should heed that warning and be prepared as best we can. One astute observer I heard comment said in all seriousness that for anyone with enough resources a prudent option today would be to have "a second passport and a little property in Vancouver." He added we should think out our escape route in advance and be ready to take it.


Rule (or reality) No. 8 - The script is written and the plans are ready to go. Here's how it's likely to play out.

I've discussed this scenario before in another essay, but it deserves repeating here with some added embellishment to scare you even more. I began by suggesting we're being set up (as well as being given fair warning if we can read the tea leaves) for a planned major strike against us. I then went on to say.......You know the drill by now. A major attack happens on US soil, the Bush administration and complicit corporate media hype what happened, scare the public and get them mad enough to demand retribution. If they haven't yet attacked Iran, they blame this on them so they now have public and outside support to do it claiming secret intelligence they can't reveal and it's (nuclear) bombs away - and George Bush's approval rating skyrockets just like after 9/11, and the Republicans keep control of both houses of Congress in November. Karl Rove couldn't plan it any better.

And there's one more thing I didn't write before but will add here. Tommy Franks' assessment and vision will become reality, the Constitution will be suspended, martial law will be declared and we'll have crossed the Rubicon and passed from a republic (what's left of it) to tyranny just as it happened in ancient Rome and more recently in Weimar Germany. We're no different or safer than they were. It works the same in every country, and we should understand nothing is more fragile than our sacred freedom and liberty. It can easily be taken from us without our knowledge or with our compliance when we think it guarantees us security. The reputed old Chinese proverb and curse (likely derived from another source) said "May he (or you) live in interesting times." It didn't mean "let the good times roll and all is well in the world." Whether of Chinese origin or not, I'll settle for the curse and say it surely applies to today in this country like never before in our history.


Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan calls for regime change in U.S. on Monday and denounced "wicked" U.S. policies for turning the world against America. "We need a new government, we need regime change in America," he said at the end of a visit to Communist Cuba.

Farrakhan, who led the Million Man March on the Washington Mall in 1995 to promote black self-reliance, said the Bush administration's domestic policies were "sucking the blood of the poor and the weak." The controversial African American leader defended Iran's right to develop a nuclear energy program to reduce dependence on oil and said Washington's opposition was a pretext for a war.

"The Muslim world should unite against America's desire for a preemptive strike against Iran and Syria," he said at a news conference. Farrakhan said a similar pretext was used by Washington to invade Iraq "to rape the treasuries of the United States of hundreds of billions of dollars to be doled out to the friends of President Bush, Halliburton and Bechtel and associates."

Farrakhan visited Cuba for a week to learn about disaster management in the wake of the U.S. government's failure to cope with Hurricane Katrina last year in New Orleans, he said. He thanked President Fidel Castro and blasted the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba as a "wicked blockade." The U.S. government has no moral grounds to criticize Cuba, where education and health care are free, he added.

Defending Amazonia: General Joaquim Maia Brandão commands the 16th Infantry Brigade of the jungle [at Tabatinga, a small Brazilian city in the middle of the tropical forest, "on the triple border between Brazil, Colombia and Peru."]. He has one thousand men and one woman under his orders in the Sanitary Corps. Up until now no foreign firm has been allowed to exploit the resources in the soil of Amazonia. Oil is only extracted by the national company Petrobrás.

"Our military forces try to avoid any possible conflict," says the General. "But when the time comes, who is going to be the enemy? Our neighbors would not be in a position to confront Brazil. Russia has many other more pressing problems and we have forged very strong trade links with the People's Republic of China."

In the training manuals for the High Command, the provable enemy does not come with long coats, fur hats and red stars any more, but carrying the flag with the bars and the stars, and hiding behind the United Nations. Only the US represents today, a real and actual threat.

For many years Thaumaturgo Sotero Vas, the chief of Staff in the Amazonia sector (CAM) warned about the possible annexation of the tropical forest under the pretext of protecting the environment. He made a special mention of the comments made by Gro Harlem Brundtland, ex-Prime Minister of Norway, who suggested the establishment of an International Ecological Authority for Amazonia to police the territory under UN Security Council authority.

The Group of Seven was very pleased to accept this suggestion and asked that the Brazilian jungle and the indigenous communities living there should be declared as Human Heritage and proposed the right to intervene as necessary. Sotero Vas declared a Vietnamisation- "We will defend Amazonia with a guerrilla war," he said.

Even if the Generals try to edit the information that filters out, the Brazilian army's website reported in February 2005 the visit of a high-ranking military delegation to Vietnam---the object of the visit was to establish close contacts between the military in both counties that would produce in the near future, exchanges about a military doctrine to defend tactical and strategic areas. We can read there, that the officers visited Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Cuchi province with its 250-kilometre network of tunnels dug during the war by the Vietcong. After that, it was announced that Brazil would ready itself for operations like those carried out in Vietnam in the past and today in Iraq to be prepared in case Amazonia was invaded.

"Our country will adopt immediately the military strategy of guerrilla war in the case it is attacked by a militarily and economically more powerful country or group of countries."

The Brazilians feel themselves under siege. The Pentagon has built bases very close to the border with Brazil in Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador and mainly in Colombia. There, the civil war is prominent and there are hundreds, maybe thousands of US military personnel who work as advisers to the Colombian army against the guerrillas.

Brazilian Generals are afraid that the Colombians and the US will use the pretext of the war on terrorism to invade Brazil. It is certain that the guerrillas do not reach Leticia because access to the city is so difficult. Three years ago the Colombian army, in the town of Mitu, took control of Brazilian landing strips to supply its "anti-terrorist" units. The Foreign Minister protested in the strongest possible terms, however, it could happen again.

By the end of 2006 the troops in Amazonia will increase to number 26,000 men. The installations in all the sparsely populated areas of the border zone will be reinforced and modernized. Recently, Brazil signed an agreement with Hugo Chavez for joint air patrols of the jungle.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Bush has made the name that is our patrimony - 'America' - a curse on the lips of much of the world." --- The Black Commentator

:: Article nr. 22014 sent on 29-mar-2006 03:05 ECT


Link: dailywarnews.blogspot.com/

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