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Signs of the Times for Fri, 03 Feb 2006

By Michael Georgy and Paul Tait
Mon Dec 5, 3:12 PM ET
BAGHDAD - Men and women were tortured for days and babies left to die in an interrogation facility which featured a meat grinder for human flesh, the first prosecution witness to face Saddam Hussein told the court on Monday.

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Comment: Ah yes - the old "people shredder" story rears its ugly head once again to get the masses all fired up. Regular readers may remember the following story, which indicates that Saddam's "people shredder" was very likely propaganda:

Last Updated Mon, 05 Dec 2005 21:24:13 EST
CBC News
The United States Secretary of State is refusing to say outright that the U.S. does not operate secret prisons in Europe for the purpose of questioning suspected terrorists. But Condoleezza Rice does deny charges that Washington transports prisoners to, or through, other countries for the express purpose of interrogation involving torture.

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Comment: Bono's former favourite politician, Paul Martin, continues to show his true colours. So much wiggle-room...

As for Condi:

Signs Sick Bag

Brendan O'Neill
The Guardian
Wednesday February 25, 2004
The horror of one of Saddam's execution methods made a powerful pro-war rallying cry - but the evidence suggests it never existed

Forget the no-show of Saddam Hussein's WMD. Ask instead what happened to Saddam's "people shredder", into which his son Qusay reportedly fed opponents of the Ba'athist regime.

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Sun Dec 4, 2005
By Paul Tait
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Attacks on lawyers and flaws in the Iraqi justice system mean the trial of Saddam Hussein on charges of crimes against humanity will never satisfy international standards, a UN rights official said on Sunday.

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Comment: Not so much the "trila of the century" but the farce of the century, with "Saddam" hamming it up for all he is worth.

Saddam at trial

Stephen Farrell in Baghdad
UK Times
21 Dec 2005
SUNNI politicians in Iraq launched a fierce attack yesterday on the credibility of last week’s watershed general election, in what could be the first step towards their rejection of the eventual outcome.

As a religious Shia coalition swept the board the newly engaged Sunni leaders issued barely concealed warnings of trouble ahead, prompting fears that insurgents will take it as a signal to renew violence.

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by: Jenell Walton, Liz Foreman
Local religious, political and law enforcement leaders held a press conference Wednesday morning concerning Tuesday night's pipe bombing at a Clifton mosque.

The FBI says the incident has not been classified as a hate crime, but it will be looked at as such.

"No group has claimed responsibility for this act," said Stanley Borgia of the FBI, adding that law enforcement will not stop until the suspect or suspects are identified and brought to justice.

Karen Dabdoub from the Council on American Islamic Relations says the crime had one clear goal.

"This kind of hate crime is intended to divide our community along lines of religion," Dabdoub said.

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22 December 2005
Saddam Hussein has accused the White House of lying about his alleged stockpiles of chemical weapons as well as the claim that he was tortured in US custody.

Speaking on Thursday at the start of the seventh session of his trial on charges of crimes against humanity, the former Iraqi president rekindled his battle of words with Washington.

"Zionists and Americans, I mean officials, hate Saddam Hussein," Saddam said. "The man in the White House is a liar. He said there are chemical weapons in Iraq.

"He later said that, 'We did not find anything in Iraq'."

Referring to a White House statement that his claims that he had been tortured were preposterous, Saddam said: "They lied again when they said that what Saddam said was wrong."

On Wednesday, Saddam accused the Americans of beating him in custody and said he had the bruises to prove it.

Saddam said: "I had my injuries documented by three American [medical] teams." He did not say where or when he was allegedly beaten.

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Comment: What a CIRCUS! Of course, we are curious as to how Dubya would behave in similar circumstances...

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times
23 Dec 2005
Bush has opened a Pandora's box with his shock and awe tactics. The ultimate quagmire will keep mutating and unleashing its deadly new powers for years on end. And there is nothing anyone - not even the "indispensable nation" - can do about it. We have all been, and will remain, shocked and awed.

Iraq is a giant, messy albatross hanging from President George W Bush's neck. The faith-based American president believes "we are winning the war in Iraq". The reality-based global public opinion - not to mention 59% of Americans, and counting - know this is not true.

Bush felt that "God put me here" so he could conduct a "war on terror". Somebody up there must have a tremendous sense of humor - once again manifested in the way He allotted winners and losers in Iraq's December 15 parliamentary elections.

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By Knight Ridder Newspapers and Chicago Tribune
21 Dec 2005
Seattle Times
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Sunni Muslim political leaders claimed Tuesday that Iraq's preliminary election results were rigged, raising fears that they'll reject the new government as illegitimate.

If that happens, many fear that Sunnis will depend on the insurgency and not the parliament to achieve their political aims. That could push the nation toward civil war and threaten U.S. plans to withdraw some troops.

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Robert Scheer
21 Dec 2005
For the Bush White House, the good news from Iraq just never stops. But the joy that President Bush has expressed over the country's latest election, though more restrained than his infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech, will similarly come back to haunt him.

Soon after Bush spoke of the Iraqi election as "a landmark day in the history of liberty," early returns representing 90 percent of the ballots cast in the Iraq election established that the clear winners were Shiite and Sunni religious parties not the least bit interested in Western-style democracy or individual freedom -- including such extremists as Muqtada al-Sadr, whose fanatical followers have fought pitched battles with U.S. troops.

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20 Dec 2005
WASHINGTON -- An Iranian dissident group that the U.S. State Department considers a "foreign terrorist organization" continues to enjoy support in Congress while being protected by the American military in Iraq.

The Mujahedin-e-Khalq organization, sometimes called the People's Mujahedin of Iran, or PMOI, has been on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist groups since 1997 -- even as it enjoys widespread support on Capitol Hill. In addition, the U.S. military has allowed the MeK to maintain an operational training facility in Iraq, said Gregg Sullivan, a State Department spokesman.

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Irish News
21 Dec 2005
The Irish Government's support for the war in Iraq is putting Dublin at risk of a terrorist attack, an Oireachtas Committee heard today.

Peace activists protesting at the use of Shannon Airport by US military planes said the capital could be a retaliation target by victims of the conflict.

The Mid West Alliance against the War today called on the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee to carry out a full investigation into the stop-over of CIA planes carrying terror suspects en route to alleged torture camps.

Spokesman Edward Horgan said: "The decision by the Irish Government to support the war being waged by the US puts the Irish people as a whole, and the people of Dublin city in particular, at risk of retaliation by those who perceive themselves to be the victims of the US-led war.

"The transit of very dangerous military cargoes and munitions through Shannon is also putting members of the public and Shannon airport employees at grave risk."

Mr Horgan said that by assisting the US-led war in Iraq, Ireland was currently in breach of the UN Charter, the Hague Convention on Neutrality and the Geneva Conventions on War.

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21 December 2005
Pensito Review
Absolutely astounding. Dumbfounding. Just too much for words.

The recent comments by Secretary of Defense Donald Dimwit Rumsfeld about Osama bin Forgotten defy credulity.
“I think it is interesting that we haven’t heard from him for close to a year,” Rumsfeld told reporters en route to Islamabad.

“I don’t know what it means, but I suspect in any event if he is alive and functioning that he is spending a major fraction of his time trying to avoid being caught,” Rumsfeld said.

So Donnie just finds it “interesting” that bin Laden hasn’t bombed us lately. And he doesn’t know if bin Laden is dead or alive. Doesn’t sound like he cares too much, either. Is it me, or is this guy just begging for something really bad to happen?

Wait, it gets worse.

Rumsfeld’s comments echoed earlier assessments by the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Ryan Crocker, but contradicted the assertion of al Qaeda’s deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri in a video interview earlier this month that bin Laden’s battle against the West was only just beginning.

Said Rumsfeld, “We just don’t know.”

That’s a big “Duh!” there, good buddy. We don’t know squat and you’re making it sound like you have as much control over that as the weather; like you’re not the frickin’ defense secretary and the war we’re in has so little to do with this guy that we can’t even be roused to find out if the so-called target has passed away from natural causes while waiting on us to get it together enough to find him.

Noah Schachtman
It's been talked about for years. But the Pentagon's microwave-like pain ray may finally be headed to Iraq, Inside the Army reports.

Developed by the Air Force, the so-called "Active Denial System" (ADS) fires out milimeter waves -- a sort of cousin of microwaves, in the 95 GHz range. The invisible beams penetrate just a 64th of inch beneath the skin. But that's deep enough to heat up the water inside a person. Which is enough to cause excruciating pain.

Seconds later, people have to run away. And that causes mobs to break up in a hurry. It's no wonder, then, why less-lethal weapon guru Charles "Sid" Heal calls the ray the "Holy Grail of crowd control."

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Last Updated Sun, 25 Dec 2005 18:00:56 EST
CBC News
The U.S. military says it won't relinquish control over the prisons it runs in Iraq until officials there raise their level of care.

Iraqi authorities still haven't demonstrated they can meet American standards, U.S. military officials say.

Their comments came weeks after scores of abused and neglected prisoners were revealed to be in two detention centres run by the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

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Comment: In stumbling upon this headline this morning, we weren't certain whether it was Boxing Day or April First. According to he good Maj. Gen. Gardner, the U.S. prisons in Iraq have "come a long way" since the scandal at Abu Ghraib.

Now that the Americans have learned to do it right, it is the Iraqi's turn. But behind every Iraqi minister is a coterie of American advisors. To think that the Iraqis in some way are working outside the scope of the occupying power would be naive.

Then think for a minute on the curious statement that:
"The Iraqis are committed to doing this right and will not rush to failure. The transition will be based on meeting standards, not on a timeline."

We aren't talking here about learning to ride a bike or play golf or drive a car. What does it mean that the Iraqi's will not "rush to failure" when it is a question of rooting out abuses of prisoners? "OK, now that wasn't nice. You go over there and make him talk without applying so much force. You're gonna stay here all day until we get this right!"

"That was better. You see, he didn't scream quite so much, but the point is that he not scream at all. So do it again."

"Now that was excellent. You see, he didn't scream at all. Unfortunately, that's because he was dead. Now we're going to have to start all over again with the next prisoner."

4 December 2005
Eliot Weinberger
London Review of Books
In 2005 I heard that Coalition forces were camped in the ruins of Babylon. I heard that bulldozers had dug trenches through the site and cleared areas for helicopter landing pads and parking lots, that thousands of sandbags had been filled with dirt and archaeological fragments, that a 2600-year-old brick pavement had been crushed by tanks, and that the moulded bricks of dragons had been gouged out from the Ishtar Gate by soldiers collecting souvenirs. I heard that the ruins of the Sumerian cities of Umma, Umm al-Akareb, Larsa and Tello were completely destroyed and were now landscapes of craters.

I heard that the US was planning an embassy in Baghdad that would cost $1.5 billion, as expensive as the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero, the proposed tallest building in the world.

I saw a headline in the Los Angeles Times that read: ‘After Levelling City, US Tries to Build Trust.’

I heard that military personnel were now carrying ‘talking point’ cards with phrases such as: ‘We are a values-based, people-focused team that strives to uphold the dignity and respect of all.’

I heard that 47 per cent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein helped plan 9/11 and 44 per cent believed that the hijackers were Iraqi; 61 per cent thought that Saddam had been a serious threat to the US and 76 per cent said the Iraqis were now better off.

I heard that Iraq was now ranked with Haiti and Senegal as one of the poorest nations on earth. I heard the United Nations Human Rights Commission report that acute malnutrition among Iraqi children had doubled since the war began. I heard that only 5 per cent of the money Congress had allocated for reconstruction had actually been spent. I heard that in Fallujah people were living in tents pitched on the ruins of their houses.

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By Melinda Liu
Dec. 22, 2005
Saddam Hussein’s top aides just released from prison may have stories to tell. But when it comes to Iraq, who should we trust?

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By Pepe Escobar
Dec 23, 2005
Asia Times
Iraq is a giant, messy albatross hanging from President George W Bush's neck. The faith-based American president believes "we are winning the war in Iraq". The reality-based global public opinion - not to mention 59% of Americans, and counting - know this is not true.

Bush felt that "God put me here" so he could conduct a "war on terror". Somebody up there must have a tremendous sense of humor - once again manifested in the way He allotted winners and losers in Iraq's December 15 parliamentary elections.

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B11608 / Thu, 22 Dec 2005 13:14:27
This is from Saddam’s trial:

[Three witnesses testified on Thursday but, like others, said nothing directly implicating either Saddam or the other defendants in the Dujail killings.

One recalled the abuse he saw in Abu Ghraib prison.

“The beating was continuous,” he said. “They would take a group into the hallway, the guards would hit them with cables and ask the group to crawl. The women would watch this and scream because their kids were being hit.”]

So abuse at Abu Ghraib is used as evidence to convict Saddam; yet the abuse at Abu Ghraib under our watch is just the work of a few peon soldiers….. hmmm…

Monday Dec 26 10:38 AEDT
(Photo: AAP)
The top US military commander admitted Sunday that Iraqis wanted US and other foreign troops to leave the country "as soon as possible," and said US troop levels in Iraq were now being re-assessed on a monthly basis.

The admission by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine General Peter Pace followed a decision by the Pentagon to reduce the current level of 160,000 soldiers in Iraq by two army brigades, which amounts to about 7,000 soldiers.

"Understandably, Iraqis themselves would prefer to have coalition forces leave their country as soon as possible," Pace said in a Christmas Day interview on Fox News Sunday. "They don't want us to leave tomorrow, but they do want us to leave as soon as possible."

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Jamie Wilson in Washington
Saturday December 24, 2005
The Guardian
“In Iraq they have had to make do with Christian hip-hop bands and sometime pop singer and reality TV star Jessica Simpson.”

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Comment: Wayne "Danke Schöen" Newton sez: "many celebrities have been wary of going because they think it might be seen that they are endorsing the war. And I say it's not. I tell them these men and women are over there because our country sent them, and we have the absolute necessity to try to bring them as much happiness as we can."

With all due respect to our troops illegally stationed in Iraq, I think the idea is that if the troops realize that they do not have the support of the Will of the American People, they just might find the backbone to refuse to take illegal orders en masse and bring this nightmare in Iraq to an end. "Just following orders" was no defense at Nuremberg.

Mon Jan 2, 8:22 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Support for President George W. Bush's Iraq policy has fallen among the US armed forces to just 54 percent from 63 percent a year ago, according to a poll by the magazine group Military Times.

In its annual survey of the views of military personnel, the group reported on its website that support for Bush's overall policies dropped over the past year to 60 percent from 71 percent.

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By Andrew Gumbel
03 January 2006
The US government is not planning to continue funding reconstruction projects in Iraq, in what appears to be a major climbdown from the White House's one-time pledge to build the best infrastructure in the region.

According to officials cited in yesterday's Washington Post, the Bush administration will not be adding construction funds to the $18.4bn (£10.7bn) it has allocated since the 2003 invasion.

In future it will be up to other foreign donors and the Iraqi government to do what it can to complete even basic tasks such as supplying reliable electricity and water to the country's 26 million people.

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By Ko Colijn
Translated By Meta Martens
December 28, 2005
Recently declassified documents from the U.S. National Security Agency reveal that just as in Iraq, the escalation of the Vietnam War was based on mistaken intelligence. According to this op-ed article from Vrij Nederland of The Netherlands, lies that originated somewhere down the bureaucratic chain take on a life of their own when intelligence officials cover up their own errors, and political leaders seize on bad information to launch the nation into war.

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January 2, 2005
WASHINGTON - A new book on the government's secret anti-terrorism operations describes how the CIA recruited an Iraqi-American anesthesiologist in 2002 to obtain information from her brother, who was a figure in Saddam Hussein's nuclear program.

Dr. Sawsan Alhaddad of Cleveland made the dangerous trip to Iraq on the CIA's behalf. The book said her brother was stunned by her questions about the nuclear program because — he said — it had been dead for a decade.

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By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
03 January 2006
A company headed by a young British businessman at the centre of a controversy over the Pentagon's information war in Iraq has been making payments to Islamic clerics in exchange for advice on how to target Sunnis with pro-American propaganda.

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by Mark A. Goldman
2 Jan 2006
If I have my facts straight, Hitler killed only one person in his lifetime: himself. All the other atrocities that are attributed to him were carried out by people who were only following orders.

If it is true that the war in Iraq is illegal, as I and others believe it is—including the Secretary General of the United Nations—then all the deaths and atrocities that have occurred to date, inflicted by our coalition forces, are the acts of individuals who, knowingly or unknowingly, with good intentions or not, have been willing to break the law in order to follow the orders of superiors.

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Comment: "Under the influence of politicians, masses of people tend to ascribe the responsibility for wars to those who wield power at any given time. In World War I it was the munitions industrialists; in World War II it was the psychopathic generals who were said to be guilty. This is passing the buck.

The responsibility for wars falls solely upon the shoulders of these same masses of people, for they have all the necessary means to avert war in their own hands.

In part by their apathy, in part by their passivity, and in part actively, these same masses of people make possible the catastrophes under which they themselves suffer more than anyone else.

To stress this guilt on the part of the masses of people, to hold them solely responsible, means to take them seriously.

On the other hand, to commiserate masses of people as victims, means to treat them as small, helpless children. The former is the attitude held by genuine freedom fighters; the latter that attitude held by power-thirsty politicians." Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Sarah Baxter, Washington, Ali Rifat, Baghdad and Peter Almond
The Sunday Times
January 01, 2006
AMERICAN forces are dramatically stepping up air attacks on insurgents in Iraq as they prepare to start the withdrawal of ground troops in the spring.

The number of airstrikes in 2005, running at a monthly average of 25 until August, surged to 120 in November and an expected 150 in December, according to official military figures.

The tempo looks set to increase this year as the Americans pull back from urban combat, leaving street fighting increasingly to Iraqi forces supported by US air power.

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Comment: Bush is taking the heat at home, so the obvious solution is to pull out the troops and start bombing the heck out of Iraq again. He is probably hoping that most Americans will be much happier when US casualties drop, and that they won't care about the increased Iraqi deaths.

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, January 2, 2006; Page A01
Documents Show Much of the Funding Diverted to Security, Justice System and Hussein Inquiry

BAGHDAD -- The Bush administration does not intend to seek any new funds for Iraq reconstruction in the budget request going before Congress in February, officials say. The decision signals the winding down of an $18.4 billion U.S. rebuilding effort in which roughly half of the money was eaten away by the insurgency, a buildup of Iraq's criminal justice system and the investigation and trial of Saddam Hussein.

Just under 20 percent of the reconstruction package remains unallocated. When the last of the $18.4 billion is spent, U.S. officials in Baghdad have made clear, other foreign donors and the fledgling Iraqi government will have to take up what authorities say is tens of billions of dollars of work yet to be done merely to bring reliable electricity, water and other services to Iraq's 26 million people.

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Comment: "Reconstruction costs" causing you trouble back home? No problem! Just fire up the Iraqi "security services", pull out your troops, cut off the flow of money, and watch Iraq descend into civil war and a new brutal dictatorship as you and your Neocon pals pull the strings from behind the scenes.

Mon Jan 2, 9:09 AM ET
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq's oil minister said Monday he resigned after the government last week gave him a forced vacation and replaced him with Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi following criticism about fuel price increases.

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The Huffington Post
January 12, 2006
The Huffington Post has learned the Bush administration recently asked high ranking military leaders to denounce Congressman John Murtha. Congressman Murtha has called for the Bush Administration to withdraw US troops from Iraq.

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Comment: Yup, that's COINTELPRO for ya. The old "Third Party Smear Campaign Protocol." It has recently come rather close to home. Read Laura's Blog for the details.

By Mohamed Elmasry
Information Clearing House
11 Jan 2006
President George W. Bush continues to staunchly defend his war against Iraq, in which more than 2,000 Americans and more than 30,000 Iraqis have been killed -- with fatality numbers on both sides still going nowhere but up.

Iraq has become nothing less than a very expensive made-in-America killing field, in which every death -- whether Iraqi, American, or Coalition -- has cost U.S. taxpayers more than 2 million dollars. That's 2 million, per person, totaling 200 billion dollars so far.

Moreover, during 34 months of occupation, the U.S. has not built even one more university, school, hospital, bridge, factory, or road. Nor have any massive scholarship programs been established at American universities to help educate deserving Iraqi students in engineering, medicine, business, and other vital infrastructural professions. In the meantime, there is no public accounting to explain where billions of Iraqi oil dollars have been spent, and on whom.

Wars, death, destruction, human misery and loss of personal security are all misfortunes that people of good faith try to avoid or lesson among their fellow humans -- but when these misfortunes become pure evil, it is more often than not in the context of planned aggression, such as the American campaign against Iraq.

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By Robert Dreyfuss and Jason Vest
Mother Jones
15 Jan 2004
It's a crisp fall day in western Virginia, a hundred miles from Washington, D.C., and a breeze is rustling the red and gold leaves of the Shenandoah hills. On the weather-beaten wood porch of a ramshackle 90-year-old farmhouse, at the end of a winding dirt-and-gravel road, Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski is perched on a plastic chair, wearing shorts, a purple sweatshirt, and muddy sneakers. Two scrawny dogs and a lone cat are on the prowl, and the air is filled with swarms of ladybugs.

So far, she says, no investigators have come knocking. Not from the Central Intelligence Agency, which conducted an internal inquiry into intelligence on Iraq, not from the congressional intelligence committees, not from the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. All of those bodies are ostensibly looking into the Bush administration's prewar Iraq intelligence, amid charges that the White House and the Pentagon exaggerated, distorted, or just plain lied about Iraq's links to Al Qaeda terrorists and its possession of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. In her hands, Kwiatkowski holds several pieces of the puzzle. Yet she, along with a score of other career officers recently retired or shuffled off to other jobs, has not been approached by anyone.

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By Farhad Manjoo
10 Jan 2006
In his disturbing new book, Times reporter James Risen reveals how George Tenet's gutless surrender to war-obsessed Donald Rumsfeld led to the total breakdown of U.S. intelligence.

"Rumsfeld is a renegade who steps over just about everyone in the administration, including Tenet, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and even Bush himself, to get his way. Aided by Vice President Dick Cheney and influenced by Defense Department neoconservatives, Rumsfeld manages to wrest control of every aspect of American international affairs. "To others in the administration, mystified by the process -- or lack of a process -- it eventually became clear that Cheney and Rumsfeld had a backchannel where the real decision making was taking place," Risen writes." [...]

"Risen writes that after 9/11, "the president made clear to agency officials in many ways that it was time for the gloves to come off." Once, inquiring about Abu Zubaydah, the al-Qaida lieutenant who was wounded during his capture in Pakistan, Bush asked Tenet, "Who authorized putting him on pain medication?"

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13 Jan 2006
NEW YORK -- The American Civil Liberties Union today released new documents obtained from the Defense Department detailing abuse at U.S. facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. Included in the release is the first publicly available government document confirming the existence of a secret “Special Access Program” involving a special ops unit, Task Force 6-26, which has been implicated in numerous detainee abuse incidents in Iraq, and whose operatives used fake names to thwart an Army investigation.

“These documents confirm that the torture of detainees and its subsequent cover-up was part of a larger clandestine operation, in all likelihood, authorized by senior government officials,” said ACLU attorney Amrit Singh. “Despite mounting evidence of systemic abuse authorized or endorsed from above, however, not a single high level official has thus far been brought to justice.”

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By James Hider and Stephen Farrell
London Times
12 Jan 2006
“WHY can’t we live together in peace?”, read the graffiti written on a wall in Fallujah by a weary American soldier. Next to it a colleague had scrawled: “Die ragheads die!”

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13/01/2006 - 16:41:27
A US army reconnaissance helicopter went down in northern Mosul, Iraq, today and its two pilots were killed, the US military said, while a senior officer said it may have been shot down.

Lt Gen John Vines, chief of the Multi-National Corps Iraq, told Pentagon reporters that there were indications the OH-58 Kiowa crash was due to hostile fire.

Both of its crew were killed in the crash said Lt Col. Barry Johnson, a US military spokesman in Baghdad.

The helicopter was on a combat air patrol with another Kiowa when it went down.

The two crew were not identified pending identification of next of kin.

The Swamps of Eugnosia
13 Jan 2006
An article by UPI reporter Claude Salhani asserts "Iranian firepower, either in the form of direct rocket and artillery attack, or by Iraqi militia proxy, of which there is no shortage in Iraq, it would be suicidal for the United States to attempt a direct attack on Iran."

Oh, the disingenuous naiveté of it all.

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Rep. John Murtha
12 Jan 2006
According to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition, the definition of a civil war is a "war between political factions or regions within the same country." That is exactly what is going on in Iraq, not a global war on terrorism, as the President continues to portray it.

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William Blum
Jan 10 2006
The sign has been put out front: "Iraq is open for business."We read about things done and said by the Iraqi president, or the Ministry of this or the Ministry of that, and it's easy to get the impression that Iraq is in the process of becoming a sovereign state, albeit not particularly secular and employing torture, but still, a functioning, independent state. Then we read about the IMF and the rest of the international financial mafia -- with the US playing its usual sine qua non role -- making large loans to the country and forgiving debts, with the customary strings attached, in the current instance ending government subsidies for fuel and other petroleum products. And so the government starts to reduce the subsidies for these products which affect almost every important aspect of life, and the prices quickly quintuple, sparking wide discontent and protests.[1]

Who in this sovereign nation wanted to add more suffering to the already beaten-down Iraqi people? But the international financial mafia are concerned only with making countries meet certain criteria sworn to be holy in Economics 101, like a balanced budget, privatization, and deregulation and thus making themselves more appealing to international investors.

In case the presence of 130,000 American soldiers, a growing number of sprawling US military bases, and all the designed-in-Washington restrictive Coalition Provisional Authority laws still in force aren't enough to keep the Iraqi government in line, this will do it. Iraq will have to agree to allow their economy to be run by the IMF for the next decade. The same IMF that Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize-winning economist and dissident former chief economist at the World Bank, describes as having "brought disaster to Russia and Argentina and leaves a trail of devastated developing economies in its wake".[2]

On top of this comes the disclosure of the American occupation's massive giveaway of the sovereign nation's most valuable commodity, oil. One should read the new report, "Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq's Oil Wealth" by the British NO, Platform. Among its findings:

This report reveals how an oil policy with origins in the US State Department is on course to be adopted in Iraq, soon after the December elections, with no public debate and at enormous potential cost. The policy allocates the majority of Iraq’s oilfields -- accounting for at least 64% of the country’s oil reserves -- for development by multinational oil companies.

The estimated cost to Iraq over the life of the new oil contracts is $74 to $194 billion, compared with leaving oil development in public hands.

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New York Times
12 Jan 2006
Iraq's most powerful Shiite politician has just dealt a huge blow to American-backed efforts to avoid civil war through the creation of a new, nationally inclusive constitutional order.

That leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, has turned his back on the crucial pledge, made before last October's constitutional referendum, that the new charter would be open to substantial amendment by the newly elected Parliament. I

nstead, Mr. Hakim, who runs the dominant, Iranian-supported fundamentalist party, now says no broad changes should be made. In particular, he defends the current provisions allowing substantial autonomy for the oil-rich Shiite southeast.

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Comment: Failure after failure for George W. Bush... and still he declares that he is "Commander in Chief," the "War President," and the saviour of the American People. With saviours like him, who needs Satan?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 : 0200 Hrs
Washington, Jan. 24 (UNI): American private contractors are preparing to leave Iraq as US money runs out and government ministries take charge of the reconstruction effort, according to The Washington Times.

Fluor Corp, Engineering and Construction giant, and one of the biggest private-sector employers in Iraq, at one time had 250 to 300 people from the United States in Iraq, and employed roughly 20,000 Iraqis. But now, as the US-funded part of the reconstruction effort comes to a close, Fluor has, perhaps, 100 Americans left in the country and is phasing out the Iraqi jobs.

The Times said most US-funded projects are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, and it is unlikely that any significant new US funds will be forthcoming.

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Comment: So, Iraqis have irregular access to electricity and water, but the US is winding up its "reconstruction" efforts now that the money has dried up.

Tuesday Jan 24 2006
By James Glanz
Financial Times
The first official history of the $25 billion American reconstruction effort in Iraq depicts a program hobbled from the outset by gross understaffing, a lack of technical expertise, bureaucratic infighting, secrecy and constantly increasing security costs, according to a preliminary draft.

The document, which begins with the secret prewar planning for reconstruction and touches on nearly every phase of the program through 2005, was assembled by the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and debated last month in a closed forum by roughly two dozen experts from outside the office.

Click to Expand Article
Comment: The comment in the above article that: "it almost looks like a spoils system between various agencies" would have sufficed to explain the state of the "rebuilding" of Iraq. Strangely, it brings to mind the image of a group of vultures fighting over the carcass of an animal.

Not your average bestowal of "freedom and Democracy".

Baghdad | January 23, 2006 12:01:13 AM IST
With the growing insurgency in Iraq, an increasing number of professionals are fleeing the country, making the reconstruction task even more difficult.

The problem is that shadowy political groups have targeted doctors, lawyers, professors and businessmen for kidnapping, ransom and even death, reports The Washington Post.

I think it's part of the plan for the country's destruction, Dr. Omar Kubasi, Iraq's most noted cardiologist, told The Post by telephone from Jordan, where he has fled. The situation in the last six months has gotten so bad, we couldn't continue.

Click to Expand Article

Wednesday, January 18, 2006Baghdad Burning
Two years and approximately 8 billion Iraqi dinars later, nearly 90% of the damage had been repaired. It took an estimated 6,000 engineers (all Iraqi), 42,000 technicians, and 12,000 administrators, but bridges were soon up again, telephones were more or less functioning in most areas, refineries were working, water was running and electricity wasn’t back 100%, but it was certainly better than it is today. Within the first two years over 100 small and large bridges had been reconstructed, 16 refineries, over 50 factories and industrial compounds, etc.

It wasn’t perfect- it wasn’t Halliburton… It wasn’t KBR…but it was Iraqi. There was that sense of satisfaction and pride looking upon a building or bridge that was damaged during the war and seeing it up and running and looking better than it did before.

Click to Expand Article

Sun, January 22, 2006
By Eric Margolis
Toronto Sun
Saddam's Soviet-style show trial is a travesty of justice designed to justify Iraq invasion

Saddam Hussein's trial in Baghdad has become a circus. The presiding judge refuses to return to court, and defence lawyers have been murdered.

What to make of this spectacle? Emotionally, it's good to see the tyrant who terrorized so many on trial for his life. But morally and legally, Saddam's trial is a travesty of justice. This is an old-fashioned Soviet-style show trial set up by U.S. occupation authorities.

Its goal is not to determine Saddam's guilt or innocence, but to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- which, by the way, was a blatant violation of international law.

The court lacks any legal basis, being created by the puppet regime installed by the U.S. after the invasion.

Saddam has no proper legal defence. Witnesses remain secret and beyond cross-examination. Defence witnesses risk murder by Shia hit squads.

Click to Expand Article

By CHRIS FLOYDJanuary 23, 2006
Let's see now: President dropping in the polls; impeachment talk over illegal wiretaps gaining traction; majority of Americans now supporting withdrawal from Iraq; Abramoff scandal reaching into the White House; big push starting for war with Iran; the Bush gang reduced to defending their crime, deception and despotism with their last, threadbare card, the "terrorist threat".....

Why, yes, I think it's about time for a guest shot from Osama!

And so the deadly symbiosis between that dynamic, death-peddling duo, Bush and bin Laden, goes on. And as usual, the timing -- even the wording -- of the terrorist's bloviation falls, with eerie perfection, into lock-step with Bush's political needs. As noted above, the only way Bush can justify his now-open establishment of a de facto dictatorship -- arbitrary rule by "the unitary executive" -- is by the constant, hysterical invocation of a terrorist threat. To meet this threat, to preserve "our way of life," says Bush, we must shred all of our inherent liberties, our inalienable rights, our constitutional freedoms, our centuries-old system of checks and balances; we must give all power to the Leader, who will protect the only thing that matters: our skin. This is of course a cynical and absurd argument; no terrorist attack, no matter how massive, could destroy the American republic. This can only be done from the inside -- and only by the deliberate choice of those in power. At every turn, the Bush gang has sought to instil a blind, quaking, automatic fear in the American people, so that when they hear the word "terror," they jump to the Boss's tune, they run for cover and burn the Constitution to keep them warm in their hidey-hole. It's been a remarkable exercise, really: the attempt to create a polity of cowards.

And if there is another terrorist attack in the United States -- as there certainly will be, given the fact that the Bushists deliberately allowed bin Laden to escape capture at Tora Bora in 2001 (more on this topic here next week), and have swelled the terrorist ranks with their murderous war in Iraq -- the last vestiges, the last pretenses of American civil rights and individual liberty will be stripped away. The people have long been inculcated with this idea, from top Bushists such as General Tommy Franks: if there is another terrorist attack in the "Homeland," then "the Constitution might be suspended." This is now the "conventional wisdom," a widely accepted notion -- despite there being no reason for such an action whatsoever. Yet the militarist-corporatist faction now represented by the Bushists -- which has long dreamed of suspending the civic order and ruling by decree and martial law, and has in fact been planning for this eventuality for decades -- will doubtless seize the day when the next attack comes. As Bush himself said just days after the September 11 attacks, when the bodies of the dead were still compacted with the smoking ruins of the Twin Towers: "Through my tears, I see opportunity."

So here we are. The dictatorship is now in the open, as the Justice Department's tortured "defense" of Bush's high crime of arbitrary spying this week proves once again. Like the "signing statement" that eviscerated the much ballyhooed "anti-torture bill," the latest load of cringing mendacity from that most servile minister, Attorney General Al Gonzales, again confirms the Bushist principle that the president is simply above the law: there is nothing he cannot do, no crime he cannot order in the exercise of his "plenary powers." But despite this naked display of apish chest-thumping -- "Me top monkey! You do me homage! You pick my fleas, bring me best fruit!" -- there are disturbed rumblings amongst the rabble. Recent polls show a majority of Americans support impeachment if it is proved that Bush ordered wiretaps without a court order. (The proof is copious, of course; and indeed, the criminal act is openly admitted by Bush.) A majority of Americans believe the Iraq war is a mistake and want the troops withdrawn. The new Medicare fiasco -- which has seen multitudes of the sick and old suffering needlessly -- will further embitter large swathes of the people against their cruel and rapacious masters.

What then can save the Leader? What can preserve, enhance and extend the power of his faction to carry on God's work (which naturally overrides any puny restrictions of human law)? What can keep the machine grinding forward, and keep the money rolling in? Only fear. Only cowardice. Only terror -- terror from without to justify the terror from within.

So terror is what we are going to get. I've written of this symbiosis many times, and a conclusion once drawn years ago is even more true today: Dazed by the lure of loot and glory, hamstrung by their own wilful ignorance of the complexities of history and human nature, the third-rate thugs of the Bush Regime have entered into a collaboration with the equally dazed, equally ignorant bin Laden mafia. Each gang draws meaning and justification from the other, each cloaks its own criminality and murder in the guise of a crusade against the other's evil. And both draw their power and profit from the same unrenewable natural resource:

The blood of innocent people.

Click to Expand Article

By Kim Sengupta
24 January 200
The trial of Saddam Hussein descended further into chaos as the chief judge in the case was replaced for the second time in a week.

Just days after assurances by US and Iraqi officials that the case would proceed without further alterations, Sayeed al-Hamashi, the latest presiding judge who replaced Rizgar Amin, was forced to step down yesterday. The court trying the ousted Iraqi president has now appointed Raouf Abdel Rahman, a Kurd, to the post.

The announcement was immediately followed by a declaration by Saddam Hussein's legal team that the trial had lost all credibility and should be moved to another country.

Click to Expand Article

By Ian Herbert, North of England Correspondent
24 January 2006
The sanitised images of war broadcast on television are a "lethal weapon" masking atrocities which demonstrate that conflict can "never be justified," an Independent debate was told last night.

"War is not about victory or defeat. It is about the total failure of human spirit," Robert Fisk, The Independent's Middle East correspondent, told the debate. "When you see the things I see, you would never support war ever again."...

Fisk was asked how he preserved his sanity over 30 years covering the Middle East. "You have to tell yourself that you don't come here to die, you come here to report," he said. "It is becoming increasingly difficult to justify risking one's life [while sometimes feeling you are not] having an effect. I sometimes wonder if I should have chosen something safer and different and maybe happier, and I wonder if my 30 years in the Middle East wasn't a curse. Well, if so, my book is the story of that curse."

Click to Expand Article

25 Jan 06
A US military interrogator convicted of killing an Iraqi general by stuffing his head into a sleeping bag was sentenced to a reprimand and fine but escaped jail time.

Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer, the highest-ranking officer charged in connection with prisoner abuse the US led war in Iraq, had faced up to three years in military prison following his conviction Saturday for negligent manslaughter.

But instead, a six-member court-martial jury at Fort Carson, in the western state of Colorado, ordered that he get a reprimand, give up 6,000 dollars in pay and be confined to his base and place of worship for 60 days.

Click to Expand Article
Comment: And we wonder why they hate us...

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