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The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities, that makes it seem inconceivable that other ways are viable, that removes the sense that there is an outside.
Allan Bloom The Closing of the American Mind

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." - Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural

It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong. --Voltaire--

Faith of consciousness is freedom
Faith of feeling is weakness
Faith of body is stupidity.
Love of consciousness evokes the same in response
Love of feeling evokes the opposite
Love of the body depends only on type and polarity.
Hope of consciousness is strength
Hope of feeling is slavery
Hope of body is disease. [Gurdjieff]

Life is religion. Life experiences reflect how one interacts with God. Those who are asleep are those of little faith in terms of their interaction with the creation. Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out. For those individuals, the worlds will cease. They will become exactly what they give to life. They will become merely a dream in the "past." People who pay strict attention to objective reality right and left, become the reality of the "Future." [Cassiopaea 09-28-02]

March 28, 2003 Today's edition of Brought to You by The Bush Junta, Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions....The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen." If you can't stand the heat of Objective Reality, get out of the kitchen!

'Many dead' in Baghdad attack The blast hit a residential area, reports say At least 50 civilians are believed to have been killed during an air raid on a Baghdad market, Iraqi authorities say. Graphic television pictures showed people scrabbling through rubble to reach the dead and injured amid the wreckage in the Shula residential area of the city. Reports of the attack came as coalition forces renewed night-time bombing across the Iraqi capital. On the ground, US-led forces were fighting for control of invasion routes in northern, central and southern Iraq. Separately, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused Syria of allowing the trafficking of military equipment across its border to Iraq and said it would be held accountable for what the US viewed as a hostile act. He also warned Iran - which organised anti-war rallies on Friday - against putting any personnel into Iraq, saying they would be considered combatants.

Correspondents in Baghdad say there is no clear information yet on what may have caused the destruction of the market. Dr Osama Sakhari at Baghdad's al-Noor Hospital told Reuters news agency he had counted 55 people killed and more than 47 wounded from Friday's attack. Arabic broadcasters in Qatar and Abu Dhabi each said more than 50 people were dead. Abu Dhabi television said the devastation may have been caused by a US cruise missile. But US officials at the Central Command headquarters in Qatar told the BBC they had no details yet and suggested it may have been a misfired Iraqi missile. Comment: These "US officials" are the lowest of the low. They massacre innocent civilians going about their daily chores, and then immediately blame the Iraqis themselves. As for Rumsfeld's comment about Syria and Iran, well, what can I say, they are pathetically predictable.

The Myth of Omnipotence I have long held the belief that the American people are not stupid, though they are decidedly ignorant. By that, I mean that the fact that Americans' collective view of the world is not grounded in any sort of objective reality is due not to the fact that Americans have no capacity for critical thought, but rather to the fact that we are deliberately deprived of the information that we need to form a coherent world view.

I must say, however, that it is getting increasingly hard to cling to that belief. After immersing myself for several days in the world of cable 'news' - an activity that I usually avoid at all costs - I have come to the conclusion that anyone who can watch this parade of fools and not know that they are being lied to has to be a few Freedom Fries short of a Happy Meal. A pattern to the coverage of the Iraq war is ridiculously easy to discern: first, a recklessly transparent lie is told; then, it is repeated endlessly by a stable of resident 'experts,' apparently in an attempt to bolster its credibility; this continues until the initial claim is irrefutably revealed as a lie; at which time another layer of spin and lies is added, with no acknowledgment that the initial claim was entirely fraudulent; with the new lies in place, the process begins again.

The certainty with which these breathtakingly brazen lies are told is truly something to behold, particularly on Fox News, where it is gleefully reported that Saddam is dead even as he continues to make regular appearances on Iraqi television. Fox has assured us in the last few days that there is no resistance in Iraq; that victory is just days, if not hours, away; that the entire country would be under U.S. control by Sunday, March 23; that Tariq Aziz has defected; that Tariq Aziz is dead; that Iraqi command and control has completely broken down; that entire divisions of the Iraqi military have already surrendered; that negotiations are underway for the surrender of the Republican Guard; that 20% of Republican Guard forces have already surrendered; that Umm Qasr is under U.S. control; that the Faw Peninsula is under coalition control; that Basra is under U.S. control; that al Nasiriyah is under U.S. control; that virtually all of southern Iraq is under U.S. control; that the biggest problem U.S. troops are facing is how to deal logistically with mass surrenders and thousands of POWs; that there have been no POWs taken by the Iraqis, that no aircraft have been shot down or captured; that no American tanks have been destroyed; and that no casualties have been inflicted by Iraqi forces.

And those are just some of the more outrageous claims that have been revealed as lies. Virtually every thing that is said is a lie. And they're not even good lies. They're not even credible lies. They are absolutely shameless lies. Tall tales are told of the pinpoint precision and flawless performance of Tomahawk cruise missiles even while a brief blurb on the constantly running news ticker reveals that quite a few of them don't even hit the right country. The U.S. military is discussed with awestruck reverence, its technological superiority said to render it omnipotent, just after an Iraqi videotape reveals that an Apache Longbow helicopter, one of the most heavily armed and technologically advanced weapons in the U.S. arsenal, has been taken out by a group of villagers and farmers armed with rifles.

The Iraqi regime is loudly denounced for violating the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war after doing nothing more diabolical than airing brief video clips of the questioning of American POWs (which was done to expose the lies put out by Washington and the U.S. media), and that denunciation comes from a regime that has openly advocated using torture on 'terrorist' suspects, that has reportedly beaten Afghan prisoners to death at a special 'interrogation' center and that has used a 'terrorist' suspect's young children as leverage to extract information.

George Bush stands on the White House lawn and sternly cautions the Iraqis to treat American POWs fairly and humanely, in the same way that the U.S. has treated the prisoners that it holds humanely. Is this advice intended to be taken literally? Should we expect to soon be seeing videotape of American POWs being stripped, bound, blindfolded, tossed into 'tiger cages' and left exposed to the elements? Is that what Bush has in mind?

It has taken less than a week of warfare for the administration's justifications for waging it to be exposed as lies. No alleged 'weapons of mass destruction,' and no 'banned' weapons have been deployed by Iraqi forces. Not so much as a Scud missile, it is now being admitted. And no caches of banned weapons have been found, despite advance billing. After flogging a blatantly fraudulent story of the discovery of a huge chemical weapons plant for a couple of days, the cable networks have fallen silent on the issue of quickly seizing bio/chem weapon stashes. As for the claims of seeking to liberate the Iraqi people, it is abundantly clear that the Iraqi people are violently opposed to American-style 'liberation,' though that doesn't stop the Fox folks from continuing to prominently display an "Operation Iraqi Freedom" graphic.

'News' coverage of this war is heavily reliant on Pentagon-provided euphemisms. Most of them are fairly transparent. "Pockets of resistance," for instance, as in "coalition forces have met pockets of resistance," refers to U.S. troops meeting with fierce, organized resistance and taking casualties. "Mechanical failure," as in "a coalition aircraft made a forced landing due to mechanical failure," means that a U.S. aircraft has been shot down by Iraqi forces. "Hard landing" means much the same thing. "Coalition," by the way, refers to an invading army composed of approximately 85% Americans, 15% Brits, and a couple of guys from Australia.

The phrase, "Iraqi troops dressed in civilian clothes," refers to either (1) civilians paraded before the cameras and claimed to be captured Iraqi POWs, or (2) civilians that have willingly taken up arms to assist the Iraqi military in repelling the U.S. invasion. And "Iraqi troops feigning surrender and attacking U.S. troops" refers to Iraqi troops outmaneuvering U.S. troops and inflicting casualties. Finding anything resembling the truth through the dense fog of lies is not an easy task. But one thing seems pretty clear: the Beast has been wounded. And that is a rather scary thing, because one of the Beast's worst fears is of being perceived as being weak. If threatened with exposure of the fact that it is not omnipotent, it will act out in increasingly violent and unpredictable ways.

As near as can be determined, the Beast's Great War Plan lies in ruins. That is evident in the increasingly panicked tone of the 'news' coverage, and in the constant flow of statements from officials and analysts reassuring the American people that everything is proceeding smoothly, when that is clearly not the case. When a command and control center gets fragged almost before the first shots are fired, that's a pretty good sign that there might be some problems. The U.S. appears to be pretty much winging it at this point. As one ABC military analyst (who apparently didn't understand his role, much to the dismay of Peter Jennings) surmised early on, the Iraqis appear to have taken the strategic initiative from the start of the war. The result of this is that the U.S. has been forced into a reactive mode.

The military component of this operation has been scrapped primarily because, U.S. arrogance being what it is, no one bothered to factor in such elements as an actual opposing army. Meanwhile, the psychological warfare component, being conducted largely by the allegedly 'free' American press, is laughably inept and completely ineffective in obtaining Washington's objectives.The current situation is that, having quickly come to the realization that none of their targets in the south can be taken without sustained and bloody battles, the U.S. war machine is apparently staking it all now on a battle for Baghdad, in a reckless bid to save face and in the desperate hope that the fall of Baghdad will result in the surrender of the rest of the country.

As all the analysts explained initially, it is absolutely essential that an advancing army 'secure the rear.' It is a basic rule of warfare that you don't leave yourself vulnerable to attack from the rear by leaving hostile forces in your wake. You don't take the chance that you will find yourself cut off from supply and support, surrounded by enemy forces. That is why the analysts all assured everyone that all the cities in the south would be quickly secured before the march on Baghdad. But now, having revealed that the fall of Baghdad has purportedly always been our top priority, all of that becomes insignificant and the analysts all now marvel at the "amazing flexibility" and "boldness" of U.S. military planners. In truth, what those masters of war are doing is sending tens of thousands of young, unsuspecting American kids into a situation where they could very well find themselves cut off, surrounded, and pummeled by Iraqi forces.

Even without the problems presented by an unsecured rear, U.S. forces have virtually no chance of taking Baghdad by conventional means.

The border town of Umm Qasr has been hammered for five days, bearing the full weight of the U.S. war machine. It has been subjected to unrelenting aerial bombardment, massive artillery shelling, heavy tank fire, and everything else 'coalition' forces can think to throw at it. And yet resistance remains. Umm Qasr, it should be noted, is a town of just 4,000 residents. It lies within sight of U.S. military encampments in Kuwait. It is in the Shiite south, which was supposed to offer little or no resistance to U.S. occupation. And it is being defended, according to a March 23 report in Financial Times, by a force of just "120 Iraqi soldiers still fighting against overwhelming odds."

Baghdad, on the other hand, is a sprawling city of some 5,000,000 residents. It lies several hundred miles from U.S. base camps, in central Iraq, where the Hussein regime enjoys its highest levels of support. And it is defended by tens of thousands of elite troops, supplemented with tens of thousands of regular army forces, and probably as many as a million armed citizens. And that number is growing day by day; instead of a massive flow of refugees out of the country, there has been, and continues to be, a steady flow of Iraqis and others entering the country to assist in the defense of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. For a preview of the battle for Baghdad, take the siege of Umm Qasr and multiply by a factor of at least a thousand. But surely, you say, our vastly superior forces can easily defeat the Iraqis. Our troops are better trained, better equipped, and have much higher morale. Everyone knows that.

But I beg to differ. It is very unlikely that our troops are better trained. I doubt very much that some reservist snatched off the streets of Southern California knows any more about waging tank warfare in a desert sandstorm than I do. It seems very unlikely that our troops are better trained than troops that were born, raised and trained in the environment that they are now fighting in. And what do U.S. military planners, despite all their bluster and arrogance, know about waging mechanized warfare? When was the last time that the U.S. war machine was engaged in a war that was primarily reliant on mechanized ground forces? The last time I checked, it was during WWII, six decades ago. This war then is something of a test for U.S. military strategists. Iraqi generals, on the other hand, are intimately familiar with the concept of mechanized desert warfare.

The notion that U.S. troops have higher morale and are more motivated to fight seems rather unlikely as well. The American men and women deployed over there have no personal stake in the outcome of this invasion. They have been motivated by lies, and as those lies unravel, and as 'coalition' casualties mount (and there is no question that losses are already significantly higher than has been acknowledged), troop morale will drop precipitously, if it hasn't begun to do so already. Iraqi troops, on the other hand, are fighting in defense of their homeland. Each and every one of them has a personal stake in repelling the U.S. occupation. They are on their home turf, fighting in defense of family. U.S. troops are ill prepared for the ferocity of the fighting that will be required to seize Baghdad.

As for U.S. troops being better equipped, there is no question that that is true. The 'coalition' has an enormous technological advantage, and unquestioned air superiority. But high-tech weapons can be seriously hampered by low-tech means, and Mother Nature can sometimes provide a most inhospitable environment for sensitive electronics. Desert sandstorms and burning trenches, despite official denials, can wreak havoc with guidance systems. Sandstorms, in fact, and sand in general, wreak havoc with pretty much everything. This is true, of course, on the Iraqi side as well, though one would think that the native peoples have a little more experience dealing with the special problems posed by desert warfare.

We as Americans live with the myth that everything that we do is, by definition, the best, and that myth certainly extends to our military prowess. But all that we are really the 'best' at is throwing exorbitant sums of money at our military services, which means that we are heavily armed and in possession of a vast array of technological wonders. But all that can be concluded from that with any certainty is that, along with an unfathomable number of dead bodies, we will leave behind in Iraq hundreds of billions of dollars worth of destroyed military equipment and exploded munitions. Iraq is in a unique position in this war: it is the only nation that has had an opportunity to learn first-hand how to defend against the uniquely American style of modern warfare. These lessons were learned at a tremendous cost, but they appear to have been translated into successful military strategies.

It is very unlikely that the relatively light use of U.S. air power has anything to do with humanitarian concerns. It is more likely due to the fact that the Iraqis aren't presenting the 'coalition' with very many targets that can be hit from the air. Smoke, sand, well- camouflaged Iraqi equipment deployed in small detachments rather than easily targeted columns, and the placement of multiple decoys, have all likely contributed to frustrating U.S. pilots and military planners. So too has the fact that the Iraqis have held back thus far on deploying any of their aircraft. They have also made scant use of rockets and missiles, and have made only partial use of air defense systems. This is apparently due to a conscious decision to preserve these weapons for the defense of Baghdad. Despite boasts that Iraq's failure to wield these weapons represents some kind of victory for the 'coalition,' it appears as though the Baghdad regime opted to minimize its up-front losses by keeping key defensive assets hidden and riding out the initial U.S. assaults.

While much of this is speculation at this point, what isn't speculation is that the Beast is wounded. It is weakened and it will attempt to reassert its supremacy by taking Baghdad at all costs. And how will it do that? One has to look no further than the strategy that is being employed at Umm Qasr: "Coalition commanders insist they are trying to avoid civilian casualties and preserve as much of Iraq's civil infrastructure as possible, but officers would rather flush out snipers with tanks and aircraft than risk their troops on the ground. 'It makes sense for us to do this,' said one US commander quoted by Reuters in Umm Qasr yesterday after Harriers dropped two 500 lb bombs on a building used by Iraqi resisters. 'Rather than send men in there, we're just going to destroy it.'"

Baghdad will prove to be very resistant to being destroyed. Millions of Iraqi people have a lot riding on the defense of the city. But Team Bush has a lot riding on the fall of Baghdad. Expect a massive infusion of U.S. troops. Expect a concerted campaign to lower expectations as a war that was billed in advance as a war that would be over in days becomes a campaign that could take weeks ...and then months ...and then ...? Failure is not an option for the Beast. It will employ any means it deems necessary to achieve its ends. It will carpet-bomb residential areas. It will fire-bomb cities. It will employ every weapon in its arsenal, including the chemical ones and including the nuclear ones. Indeed, it will deploy chemical weapons, claim it was the Iraqis who did so, and then use that as a pretext to step up to nuclear weapons. It will sacrifice tens of thousands of its native sons and daughters. It will sacrifice an unlimited number of Iraqis. It will brutally suppress efforts to hamper its war drive.

The Beast is wounded and is beginning to panic. These are interesting times we are living in. PS: I wasn't going to mention it, but prognostications on the Iraq war were remarkably consistent across the board. Pundits and theorists in all avenues of the media - print, broadcast, and the lowly internet - forecast a very short war. War proponents foresaw a quick and painless war with a happy ending. Foes of the war foresaw a quick and - for our side - painless war with devastating consequences for the Iraqi people. This newsletter, however, stood apart from the crowd and repeatedly warned that the Iraqis would resist with a fury, and that this war would be a long and bloody affair in which countless U.S. casualties would pile up.

This newsletter also cautioned, in November of last year, that the U.S. had established legal justification for its war even without an additional UN Security Council resolution. It was postulated that the legal argument would go something like this: "In 1991, resolution 687 provided a blueprint for actions that Iraq would have to take in order to end hostilities in the area and restore peace and security. Resolution 687 also explicitly made fulfillment of those obligations by Iraq a prerequisite for a ceasefire to go into effect. Iraq has, however, never fulfilled those obligations. The ceasefire, therefore, never actually went into effect, and we are still duty-bound to achieve our 'stated objective of restoring international peace and security in the area' by 'all necessary means.'"

On March 20, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte presented to the UN Security Council the United States' legal argument justifying its decision to invade Iraq. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Negroponte "noted that Resolution 687, which was adopted in April 1991, imposed disarmament obligations on Iraq that were conditions of the cease-fire signed at the end of the Gulf War ... 'It has long been recognized and understood that a material breach of these obligations removes the basis of the cease-fire and revives the authority to use force under Resolution 678,' Negroponte wrote. 'In view of Iraq's material breaches, the basis for the cease-fire has been removed, and the use of force is authorized ... to restore international peace and security in the area.'"

Sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it?

SADDAMGRAD Saddam Hussein's secret plan to defeat the Bush oil crusade at the gates of Baghdad. Operation Barbarossa 1941- German Captain von Rosenbach-Lepinski is said to have told his motorcycle reconnaissance battalion : "The war with Russia will last only four weeks."

Saddam, has long been a big admirer of Joseph Stalin and he has modeled his dictatorship, nation, internal police terror force, even his looks on the former communist dictator. He keeps telling his people and us that our troops will suffer total defeat at the gates of Baghdad. Since Saddam has an entire library on Stalin and World War II, it would behoove the overconfident Bush, his oil buddies promoting the war and our military leaders who have already so badly underestimated the will of the soldiers and people of Iraq to resist our invasion, to look closer at Stalin's greatest military victory and Hitler's greatest defeat. The 1942 -1943 Battle of Stalingrad and battle of wills and armies between two tyrants also bent on conquest for oil and resources..

In the summer of 1942, Hitler ordered Generalfeldmarschall Friedrich Paulus, commanding Army Group South to attack toward Stalingrad and the Soviet oil producing areas. The progress was rapid much like the current "Operation Iraqi Freedom" as the open area was perfect for the coordinated efforts of the armored spearheads and Nazi air power. The German's knew the campaign must end before the onslaught of the frigid Soviet winter, just like we must totally defeat Saddam before the hot desert summer in Iraq.

Overconfidence and failure to defend their long flanks doomed the Nazi invaders as they fought their way into Stalingrad but the soldiers only came out again through death or as prisoners of war. This was because the German army, quickly made it to the gates of the city but then were drawn into house to house fighting which negated the German advantages of air and armor. Over time, the battle for the city stalemated and then one frigid, snowy day, Soviet T-34 tanks and infantry streamed out across the supply lines outside the city, cut off and fatally trapped the entire German army inside Stalingrad.

I believe Saddam is planning just such a final defense of Baghdad. Note, the resistance throughout the built up fertile crescent on our right flank along the Euphrates River. Saddam, probably has several hundred thousand troops in and around Baghdad and remember this force is not facing 250,000 plus American and British troops. Probably less than 60,000 combat troops will attempt to conquer Baghdad because much of our troop strength is actually logistical support and garrison soldiers and far less than 1 in 5 soldiers are of front-line fighting caliber. Witness, the recent attack and capture by Iraqi soldiers of a group of our mechanics.

I urge our leaders to read their history, and simply substitute the Soviet defense of Southern Russia and Stalingrad with a possible Saddam defense against our ill-advised Iraq invasion force. I hope Saddam does not pull this off but there is the potential for this to take place. Just substitute, the hot Iraq desert summer temperatures for the frigid, Soviet winter, the Soviet T-34 armored attack with Iraq's close range artillery and missiles armed with chemical and biological agents against an American force faced with temperatures too hot to maintain their protection suits. Finally substitute the cover of a Russian blizzard with an Iraqi sandstorm and you will see Saddam's plan for the defense of Baghdad and his victory over the over extended American forces.

Robert Fisk: Raw, devastating realities that expose the truth about Basra Two British soldiers lie dead on a Basra roadway, a small Iraqi girl – victim of an Anglo American air strike – is brought to hospital with her intestines spilling out of her stomach, a terribly wounded woman screams in agony as doctors try to take off her black dress. An Iraqi general, surrounded by hundreds of his armed troops, stands in central Basra and announces that Iraq's second city remains firmly in Iraqi hands. The unedited al-Jazeera videotape – filmed over the past 36 hours and newly arrived in Baghdad – is raw, painful, devastating.

It is also proof that Basra – reportedly "captured'' and "secured'' by British troops last week – is indeed under the control of Saddam Hussein's forces. Despite claims by British officers that some form of uprising has broken out in Basra, cars and buses continue to move through the streets while Iraqis queue patiently for gas bottles as they are unloaded from a government truck. A remarkable part of the tape shows fireballs blooming over western Basra and the explosion of incoming – and presumably British – shells. The short sequence of the dead British soldiers – over which Tony Blair voiced such horror yesterday – is little different from dozens of similar clips of dead Iraqi soldiers shown on British television over the past 12 years, pictures which never drew any condemnation from the Prime Minister.

The two Britons, still in uniform, are lying on a roadway, arms and legs apart, one of them apparently hit in the head, the other shot in the chest and abdomen. Another sequence from the same tape shows crowds of Basra civilians and armed men in civilian clothes, kicking the soldiers' British Army Jeep and dancing on top of the vehicle. Other men can be seen kicking the overturned Ministry of Defence trailer, which the Jeep was towing when it was presumably ambushed. Also to be observed on the unedited tape – which was driven up to Baghdad on the open road from Basra – is a British pilotless drone photo-reconnaissance aircraft, its red and blue roundels visible on one wing, shot down and lying overturned on a roadway. Marked "ARMY'' in capital letters, it carries the code sign ZJ300 on its tail and is attached to a large cylindrical pod which probably contains the plane's camera.

Far more terrible than the pictures of dead British soldiers, however, is the tape from Basra's largest hospital that shows victims of the Anglo-American bombardment being brought to the operating rooms shrieking in pain. A middle-aged man is carried into the hospital in pyjamas, soaked head to foot in blood. A little girl of perhaps four is brought into the operating room on a trolley, staring at a heap of her own intestines protruding from the left side of her stomach. A blue-uniformed doctor pours water over the little girl's guts and then gently applies a bandage before beginning surgery. A woman in black with what appears to be a stomach wound cries out as doctors try to strip her for surgery. In another sequence, a trail of blood leads from the impact of an incoming – presumably British – shell. Next to the crater is a pair of plastic slippers.

The al-Jazeera tapes, most of which have never been seen, are the first vivid proof that Basra remains totally outside British control. Not only is one of the city's main roads to Baghdad still open – this is how the three main tapes reached the Iraqi capital – but General Khaled Hatem is interviewed in a Basra street, surrounded by hundreds of his uniformed and armed troops, and telling al-Jazeera's reporter that his men will "never'' surrender to Iraq's enemies. Armed Baath Party militiamen can also be seen in the streets, where traffic cops are directing lorries and buses near the city's Sheraton Hotel. Mohamed al-Abdullah, al-Jazeera's correspondent in Basra, must be the bravest journalist in Iraq right now. In the sequence of three tapes, he can be seen conducting interviews with families under fire and calmly reporting the incoming British artillery bombardment. One tape shows that the Sheraton Hotel on the banks of Shatt al-Arab river has sustained shell damage.

On the edge of the river – beside one of the huge statues of Iraq's 1980-88 war martyrs, each pointing an accusing finger across the waterway towards Iran – Basra residents can be seen filling jerry cans from the sewage-polluted river. Five days ago the Iraqi government said 30 civilians had been killed in Basra and another 63 wounded. Yesterday, it claimed that more than 4,000 civilians had been wounded in Iraq since the war began and more than 350 killed. But Mr Abdullah's tape shows at least seven more bodies brought to the Basra hospital mortuary over the past 36 hours. One, his head still pouring blood on to the mortuary floor, was identified as an Arab correspondent for a Western news agency.

Other harrowing scenes show the partially decapitated body of a little girl, her red scarf still wound round her neck. Another small girl was lying on a stretcher with her brain and left ear missing. Another dead child had its feet blown away. There was no indication whether American or British ordnance had killed these children. The tapes give no indication of Iraqi military casualties. But at a time when the Iraqi authorities will not allow Western reporters to visit Basra, this is the nearest to independent evidence we have of continued resistance in the city and the failure of the British to capture it. For days the Iraqi have been denying optimistic reports from "embedded'' reporters – especially on the BBC – who gave the impression that Basra was "secured'' or otherwise in effect under British control. This the tape conclusively proves to be untrue.

There is also a sequence showing two men, both black, who are claimed by Iraqi troops to be US prisoners of war. No questions are asked of the men, who are dressed in identical black shirts and jackets. Both appear nervous and gaze at the camera crew and Iraqi troops crowded behind them. Of course, it is still possible that some small-scale opposition to the Iraqi regime broke out in the city over the past few days, as British officers have claimed. But, seeing the tapes, it is hard to imagine that it amounted, if it existed at all, to anything more than a brief gun battle. The unedited reports therefore provide damaging proof that Anglo-American spokesmen have not been telling the truth about the battle for Basra. And in the end this is far more devastating to the invading armies than the sight of two dead British soldiers or – since Iraqi lives are as sacred as British lives – than the pictures of dead Iraqi children.

Al-Jazeera Calls on U.S. to Ensure Free Press LONDON (Reuters - 26 March) - Banned on Wall Street and wiped off the Internet, Arab news channel al-Jazeera defended its controversial coverage of the Iraq war on Wednesday and demanded the United States come to its aid in the name of a free press.

Al-Jazeera, which angered the United States by showing footage of dead and captured American soldiers, said it was deeply concerned after two of its reporters were banned from the New York Stock Exchange and its Web sites were hacked. "There has to be a national effort to protect the freedom of the press even more," said al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout. "We appeal to authorities to pay attention to this."

Al-Jazeera has taken the Arab world by storm since its launch in 1996, with its controversial reporting and brash, Western style drawing an audience of more than 35 million. After making its name in the Afghan war with exclusive footage of Osama bin laden, the Qatar-based satellite channel has also had success in Europe, with viewers doubling since the start of the Iraq war. But the CNN of the Arab world has faced an uphill battle in the world's largest media market, the United States.

Al-Jazeera raised the ire of Americans on Sunday when it aired shaken U.S. prisoners of war and dead U.S. soldiers with gaping bullet wounds, prompting the Pentagon to issue a rare appeal to U.S. networks not to use the footage. On Wednesday, it also showed pictures of what it said were two dead British soldiers and two British prisoners of war.

EUROPEAN VIEWERS DOUBLE In Europe, al-Jazeera said it had signed up more than four million subscribers in the past week, adding to the four million it already has. But in the United States, it has been slow to catch on with little more than 100,000 subscribers. "In Europe, we're naturally most popular in countries with big Muslim populations like France. In Britain, we've also seen a pick up in non-Arabic-speaking Muslims," Ballout said. Viewers, who subscribe through local satellite operators, are glued to the pictures even if they cannot understand the words. There are no English-language subtitles.

As the storm over the American soldier footage raged this week, the New York Stock Exchange withdrew credentials for two al-Jazeera journalists. It said it had to cut back on the number of reporters on the exchange floor. Media pundits were stunned by the exchange's decision, saying it smacked of a dangerous opening salvo in a game of media quid pro quo which could see Western media's access cut off. Iraq last week ordered CNN journalists to leave Baghdad.

"The New York Stock Exchange has many useful functions, especially in turbulent times. Making foreign policy is not one of them," the New York Times wrote in a Wednesday editorial. Al-Jazeera's new English-language Web site, which went live on Monday, and its Arabic-language site were downed by a hacker attack on Tuesday and Wednesday. "This is yet another example of people trying to interfere with freedom of expression and the press," Ballout said. Comment: Asking the US to ensure freedom of the press is like asking Ari Fleischer to tell the truth. It aint gonna happen.

More U.S. troops, armor head to Iraq As President Bush declared the war in Iraq would last "however long it takes to win," the Pentagon said Thursday that 130,000 more troops were being deployed to the Persian Gulf region. The first wave of about 30,000 soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division and other unidentified units based at Fort Hood, Texas, were expected to deploy in the next few days, Pentagon officials told CNN. Another 100,000 ground troops will be deployed to the region next month, most of them in armored divisions and mechanized units. Officials said the deployments represent a continuation of the Pentagon's plan and not a change in strategy. Comment: Yeah right, just keep talking and I'll keep shovellin. That makes about 450,000 in total, this is obviously an invasion force, not just into Iraq but into the whole of the middle east.

Bombers return to Baghdad with a vengeance Allied forces took advantage of a break in the weather overnight to give Baghdad its heaviest aerial bombardment in days in an attempt to crush Iraqi command and communication centres. Iraqi officials said at least seven people had died. Hours after defiant remarks by defence minister Sultan Hashem Ahmed, that the city would have to be taken street by street, a US B-2 stealth bomber dropped two 4,700-pound, satellite-guided "bunker busting" bombs on a major communications tower on the east bank of the Tigris River.

Another bomb was later reported to have destroyed the Baath party headquarters in Baghdad. Iraqi TV showed bodies being carried from the rubble. US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld suggested US forces lay siege to Baghdad rather than invade, in hopes its citizens would rebel against the government. Air assaults zeroed in on one of Saddam's presidential compounds in the heart of the capital, and Republican Guard positions around the city. Powerful explosions continued through the night, with a string of strong blasts before and after dawn.

The attack gutted a seven-story telephone exchange building in an area called Al-Alwya, leaving the street strewn with slabs of concrete, irons rods and corrugated metal.Husein Moeini, telecommunications director of Baghdad, said he believed people were buried beneath the rubble, but journalists who arrived at the scene less than three hours after it was hit did not see a rescue operation under way. Comment: The suggestion of this last comment is that the report of deaths is not confirmed and may be suspect. Let me ask this: If you drop a 5,000lb bomb on a densly populated city of 5 million people, how the hell are you gonna NOT kill people?? Take a look at these stats of the a "mere" 2000lb JDAM bomb and ask yourself how could anyone but the most callous and inhuman drop such a weapon on a civilian area. Rumsfeld suggests that the US lay siege to Baghdad, in the hope that the civilians will rebel - what a swell guy - Kind of spells out the predicament the Anglo-American invaders are in; they are resorting starving 5 million people to force them to overthrow the government because they cant do it themselves. Or maybe its that Rumsfeld just likes to see innocent people suffer and die.

50 Civilians killed in Mosul raid A HEAVY air raid by US and British coalition forces has killed or wounded more than 50 civilians in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, al-Jazeera television has reported from the scene The station's correspondent said seven houses were destroyed in an unidentified district and that many inhabitants were fleeing. They were enraged because no military targets were in the vicinity, it was claimed. One resident told the Arab station that "at least 50 children" were hit, along with an "incalculable" number of women. Footage from the area showed destroyed houses and trucks filled with bags and baggage leaving the scene. Mosul, a city of some 300,000 in a majority Kurdish region, has been bombarded several times by the coalition fighting to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, according to al-Jazeera. However, the report said the bombing raid yesterday afternoon (AEDT) had caused the first heavy casualties. Comment: Seems the Anglo-American forces have changed tactics in regard to civilians, in light of the fact that the general population is not disposed to waving flags and welcoming the invaders, (surprise surprise), they now seem to be attempting to bomb them into accepting the "inevitable" control and domination by a foreign power.

A 'Turkey Shoot,' but With Marines as the Targets CAMP VIPER, Southern Iraq, March 27 -- Marine Cpl. Bret Woolhether heard the first round and tried to take cover, but it was too late. "I just turned my head, saw the flash of white, saw the warm red running down my hand," the 20-year-old from Fond du Lac, Wis., recalled at a hospital today. "I thought it was the end. I saw that round hit. I thought I was done." They call it the turkey shoot, and they are the targets. Every day, Marines trying to keep critical supply lines open to forward units heading toward Baghdad run a gantlet through the strategic crossroads city of Nasiriyah -- over one bridge, up a few miles and then over another bridge. If they make it without getting shot at, they are lucky.

The passage, about 100 miles north of the Kuwaiti border, has become perhaps the most treacherous few miles in Iraq. A contingent of about 120 Marines trying to make it to the first bridge Wednesday came under fire from assault weapons and rocket-propelled grenades; about 15 of their Humvees and seven-ton trucks were destroyed and more than 60 of the Marines were wounded. "Nasiriyah was supposed to be a six-hour fight," said Gunnery Sgt. Tracy Hale, 32, of Philadelphia, who was injured in the battle and brought to the field hospital here. "It's already been five days. Five days of nonstop, 24-hour fighting."

From the perspective of commanders directing the war, Nasiriyah has proved to be a strategic success. The Marines captured two vital bridges and have moved hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, fuel trucks, Humvees and other military vehicles across them in the last few days to build up forces heading toward Baghdad. From the perspective of Marines fighting the war, however, Nasiriyah has proved to be a nightmare. The Marines leapfrog forward across the bridges, a new unit coming to relieve the one that heads across, constantly moving to maintain momentum. With so many civilians nearby, it is never clear who is friend and who is foe.

"Each unit takes its turn being sacrificed," said Sgt. Chris Merkle, 31, from Irvine, Calif., who made the run the other day. "Everybody gets torn apart the same way." Nasiriyah became a critical juncture early on in U.S. war planning because of the crossings over the Euphrates River. It became a killing field over the weekend with a pair of grisly disasters for U.S. troops. An Army convoy that made a wrong turn drove into an Iraqi ambush that left 12 soldiers dead or captured. In a separate incident, at least nine Marines died in the fighting. A military source said today that preliminary indications suggested they might have been killed by fire from an A-10 Thunderbolt II ground attack plane trying to help them.

Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, the top Marine commander in the region, visited Nasiriyah the next day to inspect the battlefield and came close to two or three gun battles himself, according to his chief of staff, Col. John Coleman. "It's the Wild West there," Coleman said. "We control what we want to control, but it's not a very safe place." Iraqis mounting the attacks appear to be a mix of Saddam's Fedayeen, a paramilitary group loyal to President Saddam Hussein, and regular army soldiers. Marine officers said they have found bodies of regular Iraqi army soldiers with gunshots to the head, an indication, they believe, that the Fedayeen or Republican Guard commanders have been forcing soldiers to fight and killing those who do not.

While Republican Guard commanders apparently have come to Nasiriyah to help organize the attacks on the Marines, they do not stay once the fighting begins, according to U.S. military intelligence. The fighters themselves generally dress in civilian clothing, making it harder to distinguish them from noncombatants. For the Marines driving through the area every day, it has been hard to know how or where to concentrate their firepower. With many of the attackers out of uniform and hiding behind civilians, Marines said they have had to refrain from returning fire, according to several interviewed today at an 80-bed field hospital that opened here in southern Iraq on Wednesday.

"It's a turkey shoot," said Merkle, a reservist who normally works as a FedEx delivery man. "It's not an actual engagement. You're just receiving fire and trying to get through as fast as you can." At one point, Merkle recalled, some Iraqi fighters pretended to surrender. "As they're surrendering, the Marines told them, 'Put down your weapons, put down your weapons,' " he said. "They ran back into the building and pushed the kids out the windows and doors. The kids started running because they were scared and then the men ran out shooting."

On Tuesday, the Marines found Iraqi paramilitary forces using a hospital in Nasiriyah as a base to stage hit-and-run missions. "We went to a hospital and a doctor started to shoot at us," said Khalid Anzi, 34, a Kuwaiti working as an interpreter for the Marines. "The Marines don't shoot back, they talk and they call the other people to come out." Hours after surrounding the building, Marines took 170 Iraqis captive and found 200 weapons, loads of ammunition, 3,000 chemical protection suits and a tank in the hospital compound, officers have said. The situation left Anzi fighting tears as he sat in a recovery tent today with his friend and fellow translator, Duaij Mohammed, 32, who was sliced by shrapnel. "Bad, bad, bad situation there," Anzi said softly. "Believe me, if you see with your own eyes, you would cry."Comment: The criminal tactics of the Iraqi soldiers of dressing as civilians and using them for cover needs to be weighed against the overall criminal act of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. The invasion is being presented as just and right, when in reality nothing could be further from the truth. The Iraqis are defending against the attempted agressive take over of their country by a nation with infinitely superior forces and fire power in any way they can. What are they expected to do?

US refuses to rule out its ultimate weapon The White House has again refused to rule out using nuclear weapons against Iraq if Saddam Hussein launches a chemical or biological attack. Asked about the latest claims in the Los Angeles Times that the US was considering using a "nuclear bunker-buster" bomb in Iraq or "mini-nukes", White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said: "It's well known that the United States' long-standing policy about the use of nuclear weapons is that we don't rule anything in and we don't rule anything out." Comment:

March 27, 2003 Today's edition of Brought to You by The Bush Junta, Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions....The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen." If you can't stand the heat of Objective Reality, get out of the kitchen!

The Future History Of Planet Earth Since at least the time of the biblical prophets and the Oracle of Delphi, the attempt to foretell the future has captivated the imagination of our species. Hal Lindsey's "Late Great Planet Earth" and his many other books represent a modern attempt at fortune-telling, in a Christian Zionist mold. More reputable commentators hesitate to make many predictions, because they know how notoriously fickle and inscrutable The Future truly is, and how much is dependent on the random chaos of events, the unpredictability of human free will, the creative fountain of technological innovation, and the importance of Great Men. Today, sooth-saying has something of a bad reputation, and only the very brave, the foolhardy and the deluded seem to have the courage to make predictions.

As proprietors of our little-known website (, otherwise employed in relatively mundane tasks in the low-rent districts of the American empire, the authors (Jerry Russell and Richard Stanley) have nonetheless decided to grasp for the brass ring of success in the art of divining the future. Perhaps the (posthumous) fame of Nostradamus shall await us if we succeed. Although we certainly would prefer that like the humiliated Cassandra and the proverbial Chicken Little, our dire prophecies will not come to pass.

In the words of the great old warrior and Ku Klux Klan member, Senator Robert Byrd -- "We are truly sleepwalking through history." To be more precise, we are sleepwalking into the beginning of a vast world war whose purpose is to achieve a larger hidden global agenda. Or rather, there is nothing new about this World War -- it is a continuation of the Thousand Year War which has been known as the Crusades. Beyond any doubt, George W. Bush used that language with full knowledge and intent as he commenced the battle for Afghanistan last year. It was designed to inflame the anger of the entire Islamic world.

The goal of the current phase of the war is the conquest and subjugation of the Arab oil nations of the Middle East, to bring them entirely under the neocolonial control of an Anglo-Aryan dominated West and their American and Zionist proxies. Powerful elites believe that this is necessary because the Western nations need to have control of the profits, the "economic rent", that comes from ownership of oil. Up until now, the West has abetted the seemingly contradictory, but purposeful, antics of Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti royalty, and the profitably schismatic Shiite Islamic populism of Iran, but the diversion of revenue -- and the potential that Islam will develop real, independent political and military power -- can no longer be tolerated.

In this great manipulated war against the Arabs, both Americans and Europeans have their role. Americans will do the on-the-ground fighting and dying. To accomplish this, America must be truly and deeply motivated to fight. This is being accomplished, and will be accomplished, through a cynical manipulation of the history of World War II, and the religion of Christian Zionism. We can see some of this in the President Bush's invocation of the "Saddam = Hitler" paradigm, which is illustrated most clearly with the "he gassed his own people" motif. As almost everyone knows, the horrific gas chambers of Auschwitz were the most essential embodiment, the primal horror, of Hitlerism. With the prayer of "never again", Americans are now bravely going forward, once again, to rid the world of this new "Hitlerian" scourge, the man who would gas his own people.

As the Americans play the role of the "bad cop", threatening the Arab world with nuclear destruction, the Europeans, Russia and the United Nations are playing the role of the "good cop". Exquisitely diplomatic, they beg the Arabs not to use their stocks of chemical and biological weapons, and to avoid even thinking about the nuclear option. By means of such diplomacy, Iraq has been presented to the US like a lamb for slaughter. In order to prevent the game from becoming too obvious, and to prolong the Iraqi agony, Russia and others are now (in all probability) supplying Iraq with a clandestine flow of weapons. But we expect this will not be anywhere near enough to turn the tide, and America will eventually emerge victorious.

Beyond Iraq, we do not pretend to know how quickly this war will progress, nor by what fits and starts. Already there are signs that George Bush may have botched the opening moves of the game, and the establishment is bringing forth contingency plans for a quick change of leadership. Also, it is quite likely at some point that the American economy might go into a hyperinflationary shock, especially if oil shortages cause fuel prices to skyrocket upwards. Such an inflationary episode would be highly damaging to the world economy (which relies on the health of the Dollar as a reserve currency) but it would be even more damaging to the US, which would be cut-off from its supplies of all sorts of internationally manufactured goods. No matter, the US economy will be re-built by international banking interests as a sort of Satanic mill, like Stalin's industrial base in the Ural Mountains and Siberia during World War II.

Regardless of any setbacks or delays, there is no sign that the elites have changed their agenda, and no sign that the populace of the US will rise up to demand a change in the war policy. Thus, over the years (or months) to come, we can expect that the war will proceed from Iraq into Iran or Syria. Once that happens, the Arabs may fully live up to their reputation as new Hitlers. Unlike Saddam's Iraq, Iran and Syria may actually have vast stores of chemical and biological weapons, and (in spite of all "good-cop" diplomatic efforts by the Europeans at the UN) they probably will not hesitate to use them against invading American troops, as they see the die being cast. Iran most likely has nuclear weapons (if not now, they soon will) and whatever of these can be mustered, will most likely be used as well. Also, we believe that ultimately, the Arabs will lash out not only at the newly hated Americans, but also against their ancient dialectic enemies the Israelis.

One possible scenario is that the ancient Holy Land of Jesus and Abraham will be left as a wasteland, a poisoned, radioactive cinder, with no one left alive. The Christian Zionists who are cheering this scenario forward, will be disappointed in the outcome. The Temple of Jerusalem will never be rebuilt, and Jesus Christ will not return in glory to complete the Rapture script (which will be utterly unmasked as false prophecy). However, in view of the horror that actually unfolds, and depending upon circumstances and alternative contingency plans, the peoples of Europe and Russia may unite behind the Americans in the goal of the ultimate conquest of the lands of Islam -- unless (against all odds) they manifest their growing revulsion at the incongruent and hypocritical behavior of America, by joining the Arabs.

In any case, because the corporate media and government duped Americans will be the most outraged and the most hurt, they will continue to bear the brunt of the fighting.
While the Muslims are being cast (to the American audience) in the global role of Hitler, the American President Bush (and his successors and global agenda associates) are the ones who are truly reincarnating his every move, like a script from a bad spaghetti western (for mostly global consumption). The highly productive activist Carol Brouillet remarked that Bush should be sued for plagiarism, as he is following the Hitler script so carefully.

To the extent that Hitler's evil has been mythologized and rendered bigger-than-life, Bush is following the script rather than the reality. For example, the true story of the Reichstag Fire might be that a drunk Dutch communist, Marinus van der Lubbe, really was responsible for burning the German legislature. (Or not -- the controversy rages on.) At any rate, Hitler took the blame in the eyes of history. But the destruction of the World Trade Center was a true instance of fake terror, so cold-blooded that almost NO ONE can bring themselves to conceive of it.

Whatever the Hitler reality was, if Bush continues to follow the Hitler archetype, we can expect to confront the gas chamber script as well. Perhaps not exactly Death Chambers (which would tip off even the most oblivious American as to the reality of the situation) but some other high-tech means will be implemented to destroy American Muslims, Blacks who might be construed as Muslims, anti-war protestors, non-conformists, and other convenient political and economic target victims by the millions, while making headlines around the world.

Finally, after the Arab world is conquered, then Europe and Asia will unite to defeat the Americans as well, with yet another massive ground invasion. Few Americans will have the heart to fight, after the atrocities of the US government are fully understood. American casualties in the final battles will be light (although starvation and cold will kill many), and the American industrial base will be preserved.

Perhaps famine and disease will sweep the Third World, and Indo-Europeans of Aryan heritage will finally inherit the whole world as their homeland. If the powerful and wealthy elites have their way, they will rule over this great unified kingdom as feudal Lords, like Gods incarnate, such as the ancient Pharaohs of Egypt. But we do not believe that their plan of Great World Empire will ever come to pass; it never has and never will. When this current World War is over, conflict will be brewing once again, perhaps between the Asiatic powers of Russia and China.

How dare we predict such a future? Unlike the ancient oracle at Delphi, we have no secrets to hide. And unlike Hal Lindsey and his ilk, we have no use for hocus-pocus. Read on, and all will be revealed....


Former Pentagon official Richard Perle resigns as key Rumsfeld adviser Former Pentagon official Richard Perle resigned Thursday as chairman of a group that advises Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on policy issues, saying he did not want a controversy over his business dealings to district from Rumsfeld's management of the war in Iraq. In a brief statement, Rumsfeld thanked Perle for his service and said he was grateful that the former Reagan administration official had agreed to remain a board member. Rumsfeld made no reference to a reason for Perle giving up the chairmanship.

Perle said he was stepping aside voluntarily. ''I have seen controversies like that before and I know that this one will inevitably distract from the urgent challenge in which you are now engaged,'' Perle wrote in a resignation letter. Comment: Sure, nothing to do with the fact that you are a crook and a liar, jointly responsible for the current phony war in Iraq and profiting from the deaths of US soldiers and innocent Iraqi civilians.

Invasion architect in hot water over conflicts of another kind A senior US Democrat has called for an investigation of Richard Perle, an architect of the war on Iraq, for possible conflicts of interest in his roles as corporate adviser and Pentagon consultant. Comment: Immoral war criminal.

What You Aren't Being Told About Iraq Remember all those "intelligence sources" who promised that Iraqis would be cheering as the U.S. and U.K. armies rolled into Basra or Nasiriyah or any major town in southern Iraq? Apparently, in day 7 of the invasion of Iraq, these intelligence sources and their data are proving to be fallible. Unfortunately, the North American public is not told who the intelligence sources are. No, they aren't CIA, NSA, or the FBI. They aren't MI-5 or the SAS. They aren't even spies working in Iraq. They are members of the Iraqi National Congress(INC), an Iraqi opposition group made up of millionaires and businessmen, former Ba'athist henchmen, and generals who aided Saddam in his formative years but felt threatened by him and defected. Most of the INC's ruling hierarchy is comprised of people who have not set foot in Iraq in more than 30 years. Some have never set foot in Iraq. And yet they claim to be experts.

Many members of the INC have personal vendettas against Saddam himself; former aides or accomplices who would believe they should be in his place. The INC has long believed that they can never wrestle control from Saddam (because no one in Iraq much cares for them and considers them charlatans) and must rely on outside help - the U.S. Consequently, the INC launched a massive public relations gambit to convince the U.S. that it should intervene in Iraq. (Earlier in March, the CIA admitted that an invaluable document linking Niger with Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium had been forged - a claim initially made by IAEA head Mohammed Al Baradei. The CIA said that the document had been forged by a third party. Guess who? No, not Israel. The INC.)

They met with members of the neo-conservative lobby (Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, etc) and gave them exactly the type of information everyone was waiting to hear. "Enter Iraq with a formidable army, and the people will greet you with open arms and cheers." No one stopped to question whether the INC was really telling the truth or whether 13 years of sanctions, which have crippled Iraqi society, may have played a role in slightly altering this view. So, with a valiant cheer letting loose the bastard dogs of war, the U.S. administration took the INC advice, sold the U.S. public on the idea and ignored the advice of most of the senior military brass warning that an invasion would not be a cake-walk. Iraq scoffed at the notion of Iraqis embracing the invading armies and promised hell instead.

That may yet prove true.

In the first few hours of the war, Iraqis in Baghdad hinted to this writer that some would welcome U.S. forces. However, the night of "shock and awe" changed all that. Iraqi sources inside Iraq are now saying the bombing campaigns shocked the Iraqis to the spectre of annihilation as poorly equipped hospitals began to quickly fill up with civilian casualties and fatalities. Iraqi doctors were awed by the lack of medicine and proper facilities to treat the wounded as U.N. sanctions have crippled the Iraqi health care system. U.S. media, largely CNN, dedicated nearly 0.5 percent of their airtime to the civilian toll in Iraq. Instead, they showed us interviews with "Iraqis" living in the U.S. who were cheering the war. I recently asked a prominent Iraqi exile what he thought of the statements made by these Iraqis. He advised me to look at how long they have been outside Iraq and reminded me that bombs weren't falling on them.

Furthermore, what do you expect an Iraqi in the U.S. to say after hearing that the FBI was inviting some 11,000 U.S. based Iraqis to 'voluntary' interviews (MSNBC reports that the FBI has already interviewed 5,000 Iraqis in the U.S.) and that some Iraqis have been held for visa violations? As an Iraqi living in the U.S., a country about to invade your former country and sustain casualties, would you dare to say you oppose the war? Would you dare to say what you really felt in the post-9/11 frame of mind towards Muslims and Arabs? No. You will tell them exactly what you know they want to hear, just like the INC, because you would fear for your future status in the U.S.

Another bit of misinformation that circulated is that once coalition forces 'liberate' southern Iraq, they would find the local populace taking up arms and fighting Saddam's loyalist forces. This couldn't be further from the truth. After their defeat in Kuwait in 1991, Saddam's forces launched a bloody campaign against what they termed "Iraqi traitors and insurgents" in the south of Iraq. Any Iraqi rebel forces that survived that onslaught either fled to Saudi Arabia and ultimately for other destinations, or to Iran. In Iran, most were given sanctuary and some joined armed Iraqi forces there. One such force is the Badr Brigade, which is currently in the north of Iraq and vowing to fight Saddam loyalists in their own private war.

Other survivors of the 1991 backlash flooded the U.K. and the U.S. where they have been ever since. So who remains to 'rise up'?

The people of Basra, say the INC.

Let me get this straight: the same people of Basra that were denied clean water facilities because the U.S. barred Iraq from importing vital water filtration systems for the past 13 years? The same Basra where the effects of depleted uranium used by coalition forces in the last Gulf war have been documented by dozens of investigative medical organizations as causing cancer, disease, and other deformities? The same Basra where typhoid and cholera have become rampant because of the U.S.-supported U.N. sanctions? The same Basra where U.S. and U.K. fighter jets have struck in the past 12 years of the no-fly zone and inflicted heavy civilian casualties? Or is it the Basra where civilian casualties number in the hundreds in this current war? The same Basra where an Iraqi father carried the limp body of his daughter, her right foot, barely identifiable, shattered and barely attached by a piece of dangling flesh (picture published in Globe and Mail - March 24, 2003)? That Basra?

Or is it the Basra where the local Iraqis have been without water and electricity for the past three days and are facing a humanitarian crisis? Iraqis want a regime change? Yes, possibly, but the better question is, do they want it imposed from the outside with set rules and regulations dictated terms? Then the picture gets a bit hazy. Tell the Iraqis that it is the U.S., the country they have been led to believe is the cause of all their travesty and suffering, that is coming to liberate them, and the picture becomes even more blurry. The millionaires of the INC didn't care to provide the coalition with the real picture of events and conditions in Iraq. They wanted a war at all costs. Today, the U.K. military forces near Basra have reported that the city is witnessing a civil uprising. Within hours, an Al Jazeera reporter reporting from the heart of Basra refuted these claims. So did Iraqi TV. At press time, Iraqi TV and all telecommunications facilities in Baghdad were targeted and claimed to have been knocked off the air. Ninety minutes later, Iraqi TV was back on the air and showed footage of a downed Predator drone in Basra

Blair’s press conference: lies and self-delusion Prime Minister Tony Blair’s monthly press conference, held Tuesday, March 25, was a distasteful spectacle. For months a sycophantic British media has attempted to excuse the government’s support for a US-led war against Iraq, in defiance of popular opposition, with reference to the prime minister’s sincerely held beliefs. Whereas President George W. Bush may be an arrogant bully and an idiot, motivated by naked American self-interest, most media pundits have insisted that Blair is animated by the highest moral and ethical standards—which even his opponents are supposed to take on good faith

Tuesday’s display again confirmed that the British prime minister is just as much at ease with lies, distortions and self-delusion as his US counterpart. If he is sincere in anything it is in his determination to aggressively assert the interests of British imperialism against those of the poor and oppressed masses of the world. Blair addressed his first press conference of this war as the political representative of a ruling class with a long and brutal history of colonial oppression against Iraq—until it was finally chased out in 1958—and as the premier ally of the Bush administration. If he sought to shroud the revival of British colonialism in the guise of its “civilising mission”, he was simply continuing another well-worn tradition—one no less venal and fraudulent for the passage of time.

“Iraq used to be one of the most sophisticated countries in the whole of the Middle East ... now Baghdad and other cities have actually become like Third World countries,” he said. Under Saddam Hussein’s rule, much of the population has been reduced to conditions of virtual starvation, with some 60 percent of the Iraqi people currently dependent on the government for food aid. The “mortality rates for under fives in Baghdad is higher than in Mozambique” and “around nearly one million children died because of malnutrition and because of leukaemia,” he continued.

Consequently, “The most important humanitarian priority is to restore the operations of the Oil for Food Program,” Blair pronounced. Blair could present this tissue of lies and half-truths without fear of contradiction from the massed ranks of the British press, who are well aware that the conditions he outlined are the direct result of the military and economic actions undertaken by the US, the UK and the United Nations. The UN’s own studies have shown that Iraq’s descent from being one of the wealthiest countries in the Middle East, with a relatively developed system of welfare and high standards of literacy and skills, to one of the more impoverished is the direct result of sanctions.

From the first Gulf war in 1991, through 12 years of UN sanctions, to the present-day offensive involving tons of bombs and missiles and hundreds of thousands of occupying troops, the US, with British backing, has sought to destroy a civilisation and bring the Iraqi people to their knees so as to seize the country’s resources and establish America’s domination over the Middle East. Moreover, as journalist John Pilger has pointed out, as of July 2002 the US, again with British backing, has blocked $5.4 billion worth of humanitarian supplies to Iraq—despite it being approved by the UN and paid for by Iraq. Denis Halliday, former coordinator of the “oil for food” program who resigned in protest at the embargo, described its effects as “nothing less than genocide”.

Blair’s references to the growing incidence of cancer in Iraq are equally cynical, as this is directly attributable to the tons of depleted uranium-tipped shells and missiles unleashed on Iraq’s towns and cities during the last Gulf war. Given that the US/UK coalition is continuing to pound Iraq with the same type of munitions, only in even greater quantities, it can be expected that the rates of such terrible and often fatal diseases will skyrocket.

Blair’s claim that restoring humanitarian aid is a “priority” of the US/UK forces is no less of a gross falsification. Not only is the US/UK military offensive wholly responsible for stopping food and medical supplies reaching much of the population, it has made a dire situation even worse. Once it became clear that the US intended to press ahead with its war plans regardless of international opinion, humanitarian aid agencies were forced to withdraw from the country. Not only have food and medical supplies been halted, but in the city of Basra, for example, most of the 600,000 population have been without water and electricity for almost one week due to the bombing.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has warned of an impending humanitarian disaster, and has called on the US/UK forces to urgently begin dispatching food supplies. But the US and the UK insist that these can only be resumed once they have obtained their military objectives. It should be noted that in the $76 billion (£50 billion) war budget presented by Bush to US Congress, just $1.7 billion is targeted for reconstruction and $500 million for humanitarian aid. It is hardly surprising that the US/UK invasion has not been greeted by masses of cheering people in the streets, as Blair and others had claimed would be the case, but with determined resistance and popular hostility. Even the highly censored dispatches coming from Iraq have been forced to mention widespread resistance to the “coalition of the willing”, including reports that thousands of Iraqi exiles—outraged at seeing their country overrun once again by imperialist forces—are returning home to fight the American and British aggressors.

One journalist was moved to ask Blair whether there was the “real danger that ... many Iraqis regard western forces as invaders and occupiers.” Blair dismissed the very idea. People were simply too afraid of the regime to do anything at the moment, he said. Until the “Iraqi people know for sure that the regime that they despise is on the way out, they will hold back,” he maintained. Blair’s contention is that the main reason why the invasion has not provoked a popular uprising against Saddam is that many Iraqis feel let down by refusal of the western powers to support their attempted uprising against Hussein in 1991 following the last Gulf war. Even if this were the case, such reticence would be hardly surprising, and Blair makes no attempt to account for why this stand was taken at the time and why anyone should trust the US and Britain now. But most importantly, he cannot even conceive of legitimate issues of national sovereignty and self-determination motivating popular resistance to imperialist invasion. Yet even as he spoke, crowds of thousands filled Baghdad’s central market square, waving their fists and denouncing the American and British forces.

Tellingly, Blair pointed to Umm Qasr, “where British troops are now patrolling the streets”, as a sign of Britain “making it clear to people that we are there to help them, and we are there genuinely to liberate their country.” In the topsy-turvy world of official war propaganda, the sight of armed soldiers patrolling the streets at the behest of an aggressive foreign power is meant to reassure the Iraqi people of Britain’s good intent. Blair’s specious logic will ultimately be used to provide the justification for horrific atrocities. For if, as he asserts, opposition to Hussein equals de facto support for the US and Britain then, conversely, anyone who opposes the invasion supports Hussein. This absurd bit of logical reductionism is everywhere applied to international opponents of the US/UK war policy, whether it is the French or German governments or the millions of protestors around the world.

In the case of Iraq, then, any resistance must by definition come from agents of Saddam Hussein. And consequently any action taken to eliminate them is a legitimate and justified war measure. Such claims will be used to sanction the wanton bombing of civilian areas, as well as the murderous actions of special operations forces and others on the ground. The designation of Basra’s capture as a “military objective” and the open targeting of civilian infrastructure such as television broadcasting stations show that this is already under way.

Iraq war: suspected war criminal at the side of Bush? The poison gas attack carried out in the northern Iraqi city of Halabja which killed several thousand Kurdish civilians in March 1988 has been continually used by US president Bush and other leading representatives of the American government to justify a change of government in Iraq. There is now extensive evidence that the person responsible for this atrocity is actively participating in the current war against Iraq—and he is fighting on the side of the US.

Nizar Al-Khazraji, was the head of the Iraqi army between 1987 and 1990. On Sunday March 16, he disappeared from Denmark where he had been living in exile for the past four years. According to reports in the Danish newspaper BT, he was picked up close to his home by CIA agents, transported to the German city of Hamburg, and then flown in a military plane to Saudi Arabia. All of this is alleged to have taken place with his agreement.

Last weekend the Washington Post reported Iraqi exile sources as saying that Al-Khazraji was now in Qatar, the operational headquarters of US Central Command, along with another former Iraqi general, Najib Sahli. Sahli is also the subject of a war crime investigation in Denmark over the use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war. They are both thought to be imparting their knowledge of the Iraqi army to the US military.

Al-Khazraji was being held under house arrest in Denmark and investigated for his role in war crimes. He has been accused of ordering the poison gas attack on Halabja and also being responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Kurds. Al-Khazraji denies the charges but there is no doubt that he was the commanding officer of Iraqi forces during a period of intense Iraqi military action against the Kurds.

He fell into disfavour in Iraq and left the country in 1995 . Four years later he moved to Denmark which refused to agree on terms of political exile but at the same time tolerated his presence in the country under circumstances where it was evident he could not be sent back to Iraq. The Danish parliamentary opposition demanded an inquiry and accused the government of doing a favour to the CIA by deliberately allowing Al-Khazraji to enter the country. The right-wing Danish ruling coalition led by Anders Fogh Rasmussen is one of the few European governments to fully back the war path of president Bush.

Al-Khazraji has publicly stated in several interviews that he would like to join the combat front line. But the police, who had been ordered to watch over his apartment, were withdrawn shortly before the start of the war, conveniently allowing him to slip away. Those familiar with US-Iraqi relations will be hardly surprised to learn that one of the men responsible for the massacre of Kurds in 1988 is now working with the CIA. It is very probable that Al-Khazraji’s links to the CIA date back to before his departure from Iraq. In 1988 Washington actively backed the Iraqi army in its war against Iran.

The US and other western countries delivered the know-how, the laboratories and the substances necessary to produce the poison gas that was also used against Iranian soldiers. This is why there is so little said in the west about the events which took place in Halabja. Those in charge of the White House in 1988 were president George Bush senior, the current American vice president Richard Cheney and current defence minister Donald Rumsfeld—the latter pair are key figures today in the war against Iraq. The fact that Bush junior is prepared to enlist the services of a man accused of war crimes underlines the brazen cynicism employed by the American government to justify its illegal war against an impoverished country. Comment: I bet he feels right at home beside all the other war criminals leading this war

George's little antics If you stayed up late enough to watch the announcement of the start of the war in Iraq, you might have caught a glimpse of something very unsettling. In an apparent error, the BBC aired coverage of pre-speech preparations, live from the satellite feed coming from the Oval Office.
The fact that the BBC has "profusely and repeatedly apologised" to the White House and that the administration has removed control of feeds from the networks and put it in their own hands as a result of the blunder, should indicate the seriousness of what you were not supposed to see. Ditto the absolute absence of any media coverage of the incident.

The footage was the most disturbing thing on television in some time. There was US President George W Bush, being prepped for his televised declaration of war. It was not the combing of his hair, the only aspect of the coverage reported by any American media outlet (the Washington Post in this case), which was cause for embarrassment; everyone expects that. Rather, it was the demeanour — I would say antics — of the president himself. Bush, the so-called leader of the free world, was sitting behind his desk going over his speech, as we would expect. But then it got weird. I felt like I was looking behind the curtain, and it was uglier than I ever imagined.

Like some class clown trying to get attention from the back of the room, he started mugging for his handlers. His eyes darted back and forth impishly as he cracked faces at others around him. He pumped a fist and self-consciously muttered, "feel good," which was interestingly sanitised into the more mature and assertive, "I'm feeling good" by the same Washington Post.

He was goofing around, and there's only one way to interpret that kind of behaviour just seconds before announcing war on Iraq: the man is an idiot. Most Europeans and many others around the world have assumed this for some time. To have it actually confirmed — beyond a reasonable doubt — on live television, is perhaps a little too harsh to reconcile with our wish to believe we live in a fair, democratic world of which benevolent forces are mostly in charge. I felt sick.

What Americans don't understand is that Europeans have known this about Bush since he was Governor of Texas. They've always known it, because it is so absolutely obvious, that the man who dodged military service, who laughs at death penalty pleas for mercy, who didn't know where Iraq was two years ago, is less than a fit leader. And they cannot understand how Americans have been led to the brink of disaster by this talentless scion, this lackadaisical lily-dipper. This idiot.

How can you have respect for a nation that follows such a man? How can you sit by while he and his cronies decimate the constitution, rape the economy, declare real war on an enemy of dubious threat and declare diplomatic war on your best friends? How do you let his administration systematically disparage and even arrest any dissenters, thereby ensuring they are forever marked for special treatment by the machinations of “homeland security?”

Yes, it's complicated. You're at war, we know, even though this "war on terror" might have been better handled as a special operation rather than a public display of hysteria. Bush has supposedly intelligent people around him to help make the tough decisions, even if they're always attributed to him as if he were some sort of deity.

We are constantly told: "The President will decide that at the appropriate time" or "The President is very concerned about that". Yes, I'm sure he is. But there was no escaping the fact that on Wednesday night, it was a Yosemite Sam impersonator who declared war on a sovereign country and who now calls the shots for all of us. Slate called him the closest we've ever been to a world dictator in a long time, probably since Caesar. Sometimes, maybe it really is better to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Wave of fury sweeps Middle East Fuelled by graphic television pictures of wounded Iraqi civilians and text messages on mobile phones, a tidal wave of fury against Britain and America is sweeping the Arab world. In Jordan, traditionally the most moderate and tolerant of Arab countries, people are leaving work early and paying obsessive attention to al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite channel. Its coverage of civilian casualties inflicted by the air raids on Baghdad has struck a particular chord. Pictures shown on Tuesday night of a wounded child have made an indelible impact.

"The whole British and American aggression against Iraq is evil, but the thing I can't get out of my head is the picture of the little boy who died in Baghdad," said Khalid Ramadan, 48, an engineer in the Jordanian capital, Amman. "The picture of that child resembles the bloody hands of Bush and Blair." Newspapers are echoing these sentiments across the Arab world. The Algerian daily, el-Kha, said young men were rushing to volunteer to defend Iraq. Beside a front-page picture of Saddam Hussein, el-Kha carried the headline: "The American and British forces become bogged down in Iraq."

Technology has fuelled the passage of emotive messages about Iraq's plight. In Jordan, text messages are being constantly transmitted. In the space of yesterday morning alone, one Jordanian journalist received three messages. One sent under the name "Baghdad" read: "I don't ask you for bread or guns. I only ask for your grief, because I am burning." Another text message that began on the mobile phones of Amman and is spreading throughout the Arab world says: "They have hit us with missiles from Apaches. Where are you, Arab masses? Will you help us?"

Countless expressions of sympathy and anger are particularly significant in countries such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia, whose governments are quietly supporting the Anglo-American offensive. Nonetheless, several Saudi newspapers gave front-page prominence yesterday to a photograph of Iraqis jubilantly swarming over a downed Apache helicopter. Okaz, a Saudi daily newspaper, said an attack on an Arab state by outside powers was bound to engender Arab sympathy. "The firm position of Saudi Arabia is to oppose the military aggression," the paper claimed.

Al-Riyadh, which often reflects Saudi government thinking, maintains that America's overriding aim is to seize Iraq's oil. The paper carried a cartoon of President George W Bush pouring blood and human limbs into a barrel - with oil coming out of a tap. All these images have led Arabs with no sympathy for Saddam to rally behind his regime. "I acknowledge that Saddam is a dictator," said Hisham Bustani, a 27-year-old dentist in Amman. "But at the moment, I am with Saddam against the imperialist aggression.

"You will not find a single person here who feels differently. We are against the aggression not out of any particular sympathy with the Iraqi regime but because it violates the territory of the Arab nation and Islam." One country is dramatically out of step with these sentiments. Kuwait is the only Arab state to support the war publicly. Its commentators plaintively accuse al-Jazeera and other satellite channels of stirring up support for Saddam. In the pan-Arab Ashsharq al-Awsat, Ahmad al-Rubai, a Kuwaiti MP, said Arab television stations were unquestioningly repeating Iraqi propaganda. Western journalists with the coalition forces were reporting the facts as they saw them "without any tone of heroics or even support for the allied armies". Amid a sea of anger, Kuwait is a lonely voice.

Film exposing Pentagon war crimes premieres in US A powerful film exposing the US role in the massacre of thousands of unarmed prisoners of war in Afghanistan was shown for the first time in the United States February 6. The US premiere of Afghan Massacre—Convoy of Death was held at American University before a largely student audience. Made by Irish documentary filmmaker Jamie Doran, who was present for the premiere, Afghan Massacre has already been broadcast on national television in Britain, Germany, Australia and Italy, and rights to broadcast it have been sold to networks in a total of 24 countries.

Afghan Massacre is now available on video and can be purchased at the web site of Doran’s film company, Atlantic Celtic Film CorporationBrief video excerpts from the film are posted on Oneworld TV .After a rough cut of the film was screened before the European Parliament last year, it became the subject of articles and commentaries in virtually every major newspaper in Europe, prompting demands by human rights organizations and lawyers for an official investigation. In the US, however, the film has been subjected to a near-total blackout by the media and unremitting hostility from the Bush administration, which unsuccessfully pressured the German government to stop its broadcast in that country.

Official Washington’s hostility is well founded. Doran’s film provides irrefutable evidence that US forces in Afghanistan carried out a massive war crime. Working as a reporter for Japanese television, Doran covered the US-led siege of the Qala-i-Janghi fortress, where hundreds of captured Taliban prisoners were killed. Footage from the fortress included in the film presents the images sanitized out of US coverage of the event: the broken corpses of young Afghans killed by US air strikes and automatic weapons fire littering the grounds of the fortress—many of them with their arms still tied behind their backs.

The film reveals what took place after this assault. As Doran notes, while the US and most of the world media was focused on the death of a CIA agent and the capture of the so-called “American Taliban,” John Walker Lindh, who barely survived the Qala-i-Janghi massacre, little attention was paid to the fate of the other prisoners. Some 8,000 Taliban fighters had given themselves up to General Abdul Rashid Dostum’s Northern Alliance, which functioned as a proxy army for the US during the Afghan invasion.

Some 3,000 of them were crammed into private container trucks commandeered by Doshtum’s forces. During a 20-hour drive to the Sheberghan prison, most of these prisoners died from suffocation in the airless containers. Witnesses interviewed in the film described how soldiers fired into the containers when the prisoners screamed for air and water. Others reported seeing blood dripping from the trucks.

Several witnesses recounted that US soldiers were present as the prisoners were loaded into the trucks and also when the container doors were opened at Sheberghan and hundreds of dead bodies spilled out. One soldier said that US troops in charge of the operation told their Afghan allies to “get rid of them [the bodies] before satellite pictures could be taken.”

The final stage of this grisly operation was the transport of the dead and wounded prisoners to a barren stretch of desert 10 minutes up the road, called Dasht-i-Leili, where the bodies were unloaded and several hundred prisoners who were still alive were shot to death. Again, witnesses said US Special Forces troops were present during these executions and when bulldozers pushed the corpses into a mass grave.

The film begins and ends with the hideous scenes of this burial site, as well as a second one nearby, where the ground is littered with human bones, bits of clothing and shell casings. Doran has repeatedly demanded a speedy investigation into the massacre and action by the United Nations to protect the gravesites against an attempt to destroy the evidence.

Human rights experts have given great weight to the diversity of the witnesses interviewed in the film, including soldiers, truck drivers and other civilians representing a wide range of Afghanistan’s disparate ethnic communities. Dostum’s forces, however, have already murdered two of these witnesses, while others have been imprisoned and tortured.

The Word Socialist Web Site interviewed the film’s director, who came to the premiere in Washington direct from Afghanistan, where he had attempted to gain critical new material for a sequel to Afghan Massacre that he is preparing.

Doran was to meet a courier across Afghanistan’s northeast border to purchase a videotape that includes footage of US troops at the scene of the mass killings. Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi, who collaborated with Doran on Afghan Massacre, was abducted and nearly beaten to death in an earlier attempt to obtain the tape. The filmmaker speculates that General Dostum is intent on keeping the tape as an “insurance policy,” threatening to use it to expose the US role in the killings if Washington and the regime it backs in Kabul should attempt to deprive him of his power.

Doran said that the courier was detained by Uzbek militiamen who had told people in the area that they were searching for a man with a videotape. He has reportedly been tortured.

“How many more people will have to die before the government in this country admits what happened?” asked Doran. He stressed that it is a priority to protect the mass grave sites and establish a witness protection program for those who have testified as eyewitnesses to the war crimes. “If this country can propose to fly 500 Iraqi scientists and their families to Cyprus, then presumably they could bring 25 truck drivers out of Afghanistan,” he said.

“As high as Rumsfeld’s office”
Doran said that the evidence he has gathered, and which he will use in his upcoming sequel to Afghan Massacre, indicates that the responsibility for the war crimes in Afghanistan goes “as high as [US Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld’s office.”

Within the US media, government efforts to suppress Afghan Massacre have thus far produced the desired results. Doran described the role of the American media as “pretty tragic.” He added that one American journalist who was following up the story recounted a conversation with a senior State Department spokesman. Asked why the story had yet to run in any major national daily, the spokesman replied, “You have to understand, we are in touch with the nationals on a daily basis. It just won’t run, even if it’s true.” Comment: And Rumsfeld has the gall to talk about the geneva convention...the man is sick

Back at Home, Grieving -- and Some Questions Neither Spc. Jamaal Addison nor Pfc. Howard Johnson II was a gung-ho fighter, itching for battle in Iraq. Each had joined the Army for job training and a better foothold for the future. Instead, the two members of the 507th Maintenance Co. became early casualties of war after their supply convoy was ambushed Sunday in the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.

Addison, 22, was the son of a Georgia postal worker, and Johnson, 21, the son of an Alabama minister. Their families officially learned of their deaths on Tuesday, but their grief was compounded by guesswork and even anger. They wanted to know so badly how their sons had died. "They owe us some facts," said Kevin Addison, Jamaal Addison's father. "We will never know the truth of why a maintenance crew could wander so far out in the battlefield." At the brick home where Addison grew up in this Atlanta suburb, neighbors and family quietly visited this afternoon. There were no yellow ribbons or U.S. flags. Just the sound of birds in the trees. Kevin Addison stood alone near a rosebush. Glazed with grief and exhaustion, he had driven nine hours to Florida and back to break the news to his mother that her grandson -- the one she had knit booties for as a baby and called "my heart" -- was dead. He grew angrier with every mile. The feeling was echoed by Jamaal Addison's mother, Patricia Roberts, who spent the afternoon making burial arrangements. "Bush is sending other people's children to war," she said. "He is telling people how honorably they might die. I would rather my son be a coward and in my arms than Bush's hero." Comment: Welcome to Bush's America.

Bush Says War to Last However Long It Takes Faced with new fears the Iraq war could go on for months, President Bush said on Thursday the conflict will last "however long it takes to win" with the removal of Saddam Hussein as leader. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair concluded two days of talks at the president's Camp David retreat with an appeal to the United Nations to immediately resume the oil-for-food program in Iraq to address urgent humanitarian needs triggered by the week-old war. "This is urgent," said Blair at a joint news conference with Bush.

The two staunch war allies went into their meeting with their forces facing unexpectedly strong resistance from the Iraqis, blinding sandstorms and the need to protect a long and vulnerable supply line. Some military officers are now talking about the conflict lasting months. Bush shrugged off those issues, and made clear to the Iraqi people that the United States is resolved to fight on no matter what. "It's a matter of victory and the Iraqi people have got to know that, you see. They have got to know that they will be liberated and Saddam Hussein will be removed no matter how long it takes," Bush said.

Iraqi rebels who rose up against Saddam after the 1991 Gulf War complained the United States left them too soon, only to be massacred by the Iraqi leader's forces. Divided U.N. Security Council members have been haggling over restarting the U.N. oil-for-food program for Iraq, with the politics of war stalling agreement on a resolution. "This urgent humanitarian issue must not be politicized. The Security Council should give Secretary-General Kofi Annan the authority to start getting food supplies to those most in need of assistance," Bush said. The program uses Iraqi oil revenues to pay for food, medicine and other civilian goods to ease the impact of sanctions imposed in August 1990 following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

In a joint news conference, the two leaders also promised a U.N. role in post-war Iraq's reconstruction but were vague on the details. And they repeated that Bush would unveil details of a Middle East peace plan aimed at creating a Palestinian state once the Palestinians' new prime minister forms a government. Blair charged some captured British soldiers were executed by the Iraqis. He said photographs had been released of those executed. "If anyone needed any further evidence of the depravity of Saddam's regime, this atrocity provides it," Blair said. Comment: What kind of drugs, I wonder, is Blair on. What a ridiculous comment to make, he and Bush invade a soverign country, drop thousands of tons of bombs and missiles on that country, killing thousands of the soldiers defending the country and, so far, hundreds of innocent civilians, and then he complains that two British soldiers get executed. Were the 26 men women and children shopping in a Baghdad market yesterday not executed? At least the British soldiers were dispatched with a bullet, what of the woman and her three children burned alive in their car as others looked on in horror, unable to help them, were they not executed in a much more horrible henious and callous way? If anyone needed any further evidence of the depravity of Blair and Bush then these pictures provide it.

US ambassador walks out of UN Iraq debate US ambassador John Negroponte walked out of a UN Security Council debate today after his Iraqi counterpart accused Washington of trying to exterminate Iraqi people. “I did sit through quite a long part of what he had to say but I’d heard enough,” he said. Iraq’s envoy Mohammed Al-Douri accused the United States of arranging contracts to rebuild Iraq in 1997, six years before the war began last week. Negroponte got up and walked out as Al-Douri continued to speak, accusing the United States of a military campaign to wipe out the Iraqi people.

Al-Douri said the United States had even planned the carving up of Iraq before Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Almost spluttering, he said that the United States was now using the humanitarian issue to hide its “criminal aggression.” The Iraqi envoy urged the Security Council to halt the war in Iraq, saying ending the conflict was even more important than getting humanitarian assistance into the region. Al-Douri was the last of more than 80 speakers at the first open Security Council debate on Iraq since the war began last week. About a dozen countries that are not on the council supported the US position, but the vast majority opposed the war and expressed regret that Iraq’s disarmament could not be achieved peacefully.

“Britain and the United States are about to start a real war of extermination that will kill everything and destroy everything,” Al-Douri warned. “And then their regret will be of no use.” “If the humanitarian issue is very important, it is more important” to halt the war, he said. “The warning I would like to make to the members of the august council is that the United States and the British were hoodwinked when they were told that the Iraqi people would receive them with flowers and hugs and ululations, and the children and the mothers will rejoice at the coming of the US forces,” he said. It was at that point that Negroponte got up from his seat around the horseshoe-shaped table in the Security Council chamber and walked out. Al-Douri went on to say that “the Iraqi army up until now has not confronted the United States forces – just “the Iraqi people, the women, the children, the peasants.” Comment: Negroponte simply could not take the heat from having to listen to the truth.

Meteor Chunks Damage Homes, Light Up Night Sky PARK FOREST, Ill. -- A freelance photographer shooting a fire in south suburban Park Forest captured a bright flash of light that "turned midnight to noon" for several seconds, and police said it appeared it was the breaking up of a meteorite. Huge chunks of rock-like objects (pictured, left ) from the suspected meteorite damaged the roofs of two homes, but nobody was injured. Park Forest Police Captain Francis DioGuardi said a large chunk also landed on a residential street and broke apart, slightly damaging the siding of another home. People in several states throughout the Midwest reported seeing a bright flash of light in the sky last night. The lights were seen in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio. The National Weather Service agreed that the flash of light was caused by either a meteorite or piece of space debris.

Who are the real, useful idiots? So the Lenins of the world think the anti-war protestors are nothing more than unpatriotic, ill-informed stooges of brutal dictators everywhere. Useful idiot is the term commonly used by right wing ideologues to describe the naïve peaceniks that are supposedly giving aid and comfort to Saddam Hussein by opposing the impending invasion of Iraq. Instead of characterizing the marchers as ordinary, loyal Americans who decided to get off their duffs for once and speak out against what they see as an unprovoked invasion of a weak country, the marchers are made out to be blame-America-first communists under the organizational leadership of Iraqi spies.

Well, I have a different take on the subject.

I would say that people who hold up the First Amendment as an example of America's greatness but then disparage those who exercise that right to peaceably assemble are the real, useful idiots. Those cynics cherish freedom and democracy as abstract principles but
loathe those same ideals when they are put into practice in support of a cause with which they disagree. They see the mass demonstrations of democracy as a threat to the country, not as a show of its strength.

They are the useful idiots of John Ashcroft. The right to an attorney, habeas corpus (probable cause) and the presumption of innocence-- all cornerstones of our American democracy-- are under attack by an Attorney General who believes constitutionally guaranteed rights can be denied, depending on the crime. Now, the mouthpieces of the far right are concocting hypothetical "ticking bomb" scenarios to scare Americans into believing that we need to take another look at torture as an interrogation method.

Ben Franklin's words of wisdom should be required reading for these fascists in red, white and blue clothing. He got it right when he said that, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." The neo-conservatives in charge of our government talk about sparking a democratic revolution in the Middle East, but by their arm-twisting and pay-offs to foreign governments they are circumventing the will
of the people in those countries-- who are overwhelmingly against the war.

Democracy abroad is a grand concept to this group of useful idiots, except when it expresses itself in the form of a Turkish parliamentary vote prohibiting US troops from deploying there. They are even more infuriated when democratic principles manifest in the form of the German electorate voting an anti-war Chancellor into office or the French Prime Minister actually listening to his people.

These useful idiots wouldn't recognize true democracy if it marched past their front door on the way to the voting booth, but, oh, how they love the symbols of democracy. They even want to put you in jail for disrespecting the flag. What they don't understand is that by abridging your freedom of speech-- even the unpatriotic and offensive act of burning the flag in protest-- they are setting fire to the Bill of Rights. They apparently forgot that the flag is just a piece of cloth if it has no democratic ideals to represent.

If it sounds like I take these attacks personally, that's because I do. I went to my first anti-war protest last month (actually it was my first time at any kind of protest). When I was walking through the streets of downtown Dallas with thousands (and there were thousands) of fellow Dallasites, Texans, Americans, it was one of the proudest moments of my life. And no amount of brow-beating and comparisons to Lenin's unwitting dupes will change that.

No, the protesters aren't unpatriotic, un-American or useful idiots, but people who criticize them for practicing democracy in its purest fform have a few things to learn about citizenship in a democratic republic. It is not merely your right to dissent when you disagree with your government's policies, IT IS YOUR CIVIC OBLIGATION. Before the Bush hawks start exporting democracy to the Middle East through the use of military force, maybe we should make sure we've got it right in America.

Go home and leave us alone! It is now five days since the British and US governments launched an unprecedented military invasion of my country of birth, its people, land, towns and cities. This attack was launched without UN authority, public support or the will of the international community. To win support for this unjust and illegal campaign, it has been claimed that this is not a colonial war of occupation but a war of liberation; a compassionate war. Britain and the US will save the Iraqis by bombing so they can thrive in a democratic Iraq and live at ease with their neighbours. Those who believed the hype expected the Iraqis to welcome the invading armies. After British troops were forced to retreat from Basra yesterday, a military spokesman said: "We were expecting a lot of hands up, but it hasn't quite worked out that way."

It is now clear to everyone that ordinary Iraqis are resisting this military aggression with their lives and souls. Commentators and politicians in Britain and America seem taken aback: how come the Iraqis are putting up such a fight? Why do they so passionately resist this attempt to liberate them from the brutal dictator, Saddam? But Iraqis aren't surprised at all.

When Iraq was first colonised by Britain in 1917, Iraqis were fed the same British propaganda about liberation through occupation. We fought the best part of last century to get rid of colonial Britain and, since then, have helped a great number of independence movements worldwide. Iraqis may wish for the current regime to change, but anyone who understands our culture will know that in this war Iraqis will fight and die, not to save President Saddam Hussein, but to protect their home, land, dignity and self-respect from a new world order alien to their way of life. We are an enormously proud people.

And so history repeats itself. Just as in the past century, the military superiority of the Anglo-American invaders may eventually overwhelm the Iraqi army, which is weak and ill-equipped because of sanctions, containment and isolation. But there is also no doubt that in the end this military crusade against Iraq will fail just like the previous British occupation of Iraq, led by General Maude, where the military odds were just as much in favour of the British army. Iraqis - in particular the Arab-Iraqi Shi'ites - fought bitter and hard and suffered thousands of casualties in order to liberate Iraq from the British occupation. They will do so again.

It is true that, this time, the British and US forces may assume control of sea, air and deserts of Iraq, but they will never win the war for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. Not only do the people of Iraq face devastation by the US and UK aggression on a scale not previously known to mankind, but they also face death and destruction by another war - the civil war that would inevitably follow. We know what this means, because we have been there before. As a young lad in the town of Mosul I lived through the horror of the civil war in Iraq in 1959-60, when the communist and Kurdish coalition fought the nationalists for control of the country. With my brothers and parents, we used to hide huddled together, in a small concealed basement for days on end, absolutely terrified of being slaughtered because we were considered to be on the Nationalist side.

I saw Iraqis split in half, while alive, by two cars. Girls were hanged from telegraph posts, with fish hooks through their breasts. Men were hanged outside my school gates. We were forced to watch mass hangings in public squares. Dead bodies with their throats slit lay in the streets. Forty years on, in the comfort and safety of London, those images remain vivid. A scar of fear for life, and one shared by a great many of my people. This is the fate that awaits "liberated" Iraq. Only today, the Kurds - backed by the US - have even more violent scores to settle. There are many, many people in Iraq today who fear the sectarian violence that may result from the breakdown of the secular regime; and Iraqi history shows that they are right to fear it. I do not wish this future to await anybody in the world, friend or foe.

Neither the British nor the American forces will be able to react quickly enough in order to prevent the slaughter of innocent civilians in the ensuing civil war. In the aftermath there will not be an Iraq to re-build, but simply chaos. So the message from Iraq is clear: go home and leave us alone. You will never be welcome in Iraq as colonisers. Stop destroying Iraq. Do not bury our nation. Stop the war and give peace and the UN inspectors a chance in the name of humanity.

LOOK INWARD, AMERICA It has become painfully obvious that America faces a threat from within. The threat comes not just from terrorists who have managed to penetrate America's porous borders - the 9/11 terrorists, for example - though that danger is real enough. It also comes from disgruntled Americans - converts to militarized Islam or to radical anti-Americanism. In a sense, these folks are more dangerous, because they often enjoy full rights as U.S. citizens: Not only do our laws protect them, but so does our culture. Comment: There's that term "disgruntled americans" again. How many of you would say you are "disgruntled" in some way with the government? Well don't say it too loud, you might find yourself literally bound and gagged. Welcome to the true face of America, "the land of free", just so long as you sit down and shut up!


Bush and Rumsfeld Had Better Watch Their Back George Monbiot, The Guardian LONDON, 27 March 2003 — Suddenly, the government of the United States has discovered the virtues of international law. It may be waging an illegal war against a sovereign state; it may be seeking to destroy every treaty which impedes its attempts to run the world, but when five of its captured soldiers were paraded in front of the Iraqi television cameras on Sunday, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defense secretary, immediately complained that “it is against the Geneva Convention to show photographs of prisoners of war in a manner that is humiliating for them”.

He is, of course, quite right. Article 13 of the third convention, concerning the treatment of prisoners, insists that they “must at all times be protected ... against insults and public curiosity”. This may number among the less heinous of the possible infringements of the laws of war, but the conventions, ratified by Iraq in 1956, are non-negotiable. If you break them, you should expect to be prosecuted for war crimes. This being so, Rumsfeld had better watch his back. For this enthusiastic convert to the cause of legal warfare is, as head of the Defense Department, responsible for a series of crimes sufficient, were he ever to be tried, to put him away for the rest of his natural life.

His prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba, where 641 men (nine of whom are British citizens) are held, breaches no fewer than 15 articles of the third convention. The US government broke the first of these (Article 13) as soon as the prisoners arrived, by displaying them, just as the Iraqis have done, on television. In this case, however, they were not encouraged to address the cameras. They were kneeling on the ground, hands tied behind their backs, wearing blacked-out goggles and earphones. In breach of Article 18, they had been stripped of their own clothes and deprived of their possessions. They were then interned in a penitentiary (against Article 22), where they were denied proper mess facilities (26), canteens (28), religious premises (34), opportunities for physical exercise (38), access to the text of the convention (41), freedom to write to their families (70 and 71) and parcels of food and books (72).

They were not “released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities” (118), because, the US authorities say, their interrogation might, one day, reveal interesting information about Al-Qaeda. Article 17 rules that captives are obliged to give only their name, rank, number and date of birth. No “coercion may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever”. In the hope of breaking them, however, the authorities have confined them to solitary cells and subjected them to what is now known as “torture lite”: Sleep deprivation and constant exposure to bright light. Unsurprisingly, several of the prisoners have sought to kill themselves, by smashing their heads against the walls or trying to slash their wrists with plastic cutlery.

The US government claims that these men are not subject to the Geneva conventions, as they are not “prisoners of war”, but “unlawful combatants”. The same claim could be made, with rather more justice, by the Iraqis holding the US soldiers who illegally invaded their country. But this redefinition is itself a breach of Article 4 of the third convention, under which people detained as suspected members of a militia (the Taleban) or a volunteer corps (Al-Qaeda) must be regarded as prisoners of war.

Even if there is doubt about how such people should be classified, Article 5 insists that they “shall enjoy the protection of the present convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal. But when, earlier this month, lawyers representing 16 of them demanded a court hearing, the US court of appeals ruled that as Guantanamo Bay is not sovereign US territory, the men have no constitutional rights. Many of these prisoners appear to have been working in Afghanistan as teachers, engineers or aid workers. If the US government either tried or released them, its embarrassing lack of evidence would be brought to light.

You would hesitate to describe these prisoners as lucky, unless you knew what had happened to some of the other men captured by the Americans and their allies in Afghanistan. On Nov. 21, 2001, around 8,000 Taleban soldiers and Pashtun civilians surrendered at Konduz to the Northern Alliance commander, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum. Many of them have never been seen again.

As Jamie Doran’s film Afghan Massacre: Convoy of Death records, some hundreds, possibly thousands, of them were loaded into container lorries at Qala-i-Zeini, near the town of Mazar-i-Sharif, on Nov. 26 and 27. The doors were sealed and the lorries were left to stand in the sun for several days. At length, they departed for Sheberghan prison, 80 miles away. The prisoners, many of whom were dying of thirst and asphyxiation, started banging on the sides of the trucks. Dostum’s men stopped the convoy and machine-gunned the containers. When they arrived at Sheberghan, most of the captives were dead.

The US special forces running the prison watched the bodies being unloaded. They instructed Dostum’s men to “get rid of them before satellite pictures can be taken”. Doran interviewed a Northern Alliance soldier guarding the prison. “I was a witness when an American soldier broke one prisoner’s neck. The Americans did whatever they wanted. We had no power to stop them.” Another soldier alleged: “They took the prisoners outside and beat them up, and then returned them to the prison. But sometimes they were never returned, and they disappeared.”

Many of the survivors were loaded back in the containers with the corpses, then driven to a place in the desert called Dasht-i-Leili. In the presence of up to 40 US special forces, the living and the dead were dumped into ditches. Anyone who moved was shot. The German newspaper Die Zeit investigated the claims and concluded that: “No one doubted that the Americans had taken part. Even at higher levels there are no doubts on this issue.” The US group Physicians for Human Rights visited the places identified by Doran’s witnesses and found they “all ... contained human remains consistent with their designation as possible grave sites”.

It should not be necessary to point out that hospitality of this kind also contravenes the third Geneva Convention, which prohibits “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture”, as well as extra-judicial execution. Donald Rumsfeld’s department, assisted by a pliant media, has done all it can to suppress Jamie Doran’s film, while Gen. Dostum has begun to assassinate his witnesses.

It is not hard, therefore, to see why the US government fought first to prevent the establishment of the international criminal court, and then to ensure that its own citizens are not subject to its jurisdiction. The five soldiers dragged in front of the cameras on Monday should thank their lucky stars that they are prisoners not of the American forces fighting for civilization, but of the “barbaric and inhuman” Iraqis.

Belgium amends law to avoid prosecuting President Bush The Belgian parliament on Tuesday amended a controversial law to prevent US President George Bush being prosecuted for war crimes over the conflict in Iraq.

Robert Fisk: 'It was an outrage, an obscenity' It was an outrage, an obscenity. The severed hand on the metal door, the swamp of blood and mud across the road, the human brains inside a garage, the incinerated, skeletal remains of an Iraqi mother and her three small children in their still-smouldering car.

Two missiles from an American jet killed them all – by my estimate, more than 20 Iraqi civilians, torn to pieces before they could be 'liberated' by the nation that destroyed their lives. Who dares, I ask myself, to call this 'collateral damage'? Abu Taleb Street was packed with pedestrians and motorists when the American pilot approached through the dense sandstorm that covered northern Baghdad in a cloak of red and yellow dust and rain yesterday morning.

It's a dirt-poor neighbourhood, of mostly Shia Muslims, the same people whom Messrs Bush and Blair still fondly hope will rise up against President Saddam Hussein, a place of oil-sodden car-repair shops, overcrowded apartments and cheap cafés. Everyone I spoke to heard the plane. One man, so shocked by the headless corpses he had just seen, could say only two words. "Roar, flash," he kept saying and then closed his eyes so tight that the muscles rippled between them.

How should one record so terrible an event? Perhaps a medical report would be more appropriate. But the final death toll is expected to be near to 30 and Iraqis are now witnessing these awful things each day; so there is no reason why the truth, all the truth, of what they see should not be told.

For another question occurred to me as I walked through this place of massacre yesterday. If this is what we are seeing in Baghdad, what is happening in Basra and Nasiriyah and Kerbala? How many civilians are dying there too, anonymously, indeed unrecorded, because there are no reporters to be witness to their suffering?

Abu Hassan and Malek Hammoud were preparing lunch for customers at the Nasser restaurant on the north side of Abu Taleb Street. The missile that killed them landed next to the westbound carriageway, its blast tearing away the front of the café and cutting the two men – the first 48, the second only 18 – to pieces. A fellow worker led me through the rubble. "This is all that is left of them now," he said, holding out before me an oven pan dripping with blood.

At least 15 cars burst into flames, burning many of their occupants to death. Several men tore desperately at the doors of another flame-shrouded car in the centre of the street that had been flipped upside down by the same missile. They were forced to watch helplessly as the woman and her three children inside were cremated alive in front of them. The second missile hit neatly on the eastbound carriageway, sending shards of metal into three men standing outside a concrete apartment block with the words, "This is God's possession" written in marble on the outside wall.

The building's manager, Hishem Danoon, ran to the doorway as soon as he heard the massive explosion. "I found Ta'ar in pieces over there," he told me. His head was blown off. "That's his hand." A group of young men and a woman took me into the street and there, a scene from any horror film, was Ta'ar's hand, cut off at the wrist, his four fingers and thumb grasping a piece of iron roofing. His young colleague, Sermed, died the same instant. His brains lay piled a few feet away, a pale red and grey mess behind a burnt car. Both men worked for Danoon. So did a doorman who was also killed.

As each survivor talked, the dead regained their identities. There was the electrical shop-owner killed behind his counter by the same missile that cut down Ta'ar and Sermed and the doorman, and the young girl standing on the central reservation, trying to cross the road, and the truck driver who was only feet from the point of impact and the beggar who regularly called to see Mr Danoon for bread and who was just leaving when the missiles came screaming through the sandstorm to destroy him.

In Qatar, the Anglo-American forces – let's forget this nonsense about "coalition" – announced an inquiry. The Iraqi government, who are the only ones to benefit from the propaganda value of such a bloodbath, naturally denounced the slaughter, which they initially put at 14 dead. So what was the real target? Some Iraqis said there was a military encampment less than a mile from the street, though I couldn't find it. Others talked about a local fire brigade headquarters, but the fire brigade can hardly be described as a military target.

Certainly, there had been an attack less than an hour earlier on a military camp further north. I was driving past the base when two rockets exploded and I saw Iraqi soldiers running for their lives out of the gates and along the side of the highway. Then I heard two more explosions; these were the missiles that hit Abu Taleb Street.

Of course, the pilot who killed the innocent yesterday could not see his victims. Pilots fire through computer-aligned co-ordinates, and the sandstorm would have hidden the street from his vision. But when one of Malek Hammoud's friends asked me how the Americans could so blithely kill those they claimed to want to liberate, he didn't want to learn about the science of avionics or weapons delivery systems.

And why should he? For this is happening almost every day in Baghdad. Three days ago, an entire family of nine was wiped out in their home near the centre of the city. A busload of civilian passengers were reportedly killed on a road south of Baghdad two days ago. Only yesterday were Iraqis learning the identity of five civilian passengers slaughtered on a Syrian bus that was attacked by American aircraft close to the Iraqi border at the weekend. The truth is that nowhere is safe in Baghdad, and as the Americans and British close their siege in the next few days or hours, that simple message will become ever more real and ever more bloody.

We may put on the hairshirt of morality in explaining why these people should die. They died because of 11 September, we may say, because of President Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction", because of human rights abuses, because of our desperate desire to "liberate" them all. Let us not confuse the issue with oil. Either way, I'll bet we are told President Saddam is ultimately responsible for their deaths. We shan't mention the pilot, of course.

Jubilation turns to hate as aid arrives The young man wearing the brown shawl summed it up succinctly: "We want you to go back home. We do not want your American and British aid," he said, his eyes flashing with anger. If the British humanitarian taskforce had any doubts as to the legitimacy of his claims, the sudden burst of gunfire from a nearby building left no one in any doubt.

The first attempt to deliver aid to the Iraqi people was, in all respects, a practical and logistical disaster. A convoy of vehicles, including two water tankers and as many Warrior armoured vehicles, had set off from the abandoned Shaiba airfield earlier. The intent was to deliver food and water to win over the hearts and minds of the beleaguered Iraqis.

As the convoy pulled up inside the town, however, a crowd of predominantly young men ran towards it. Fights and skirmishes broke out for bottles of water. Iraqis asked for food and cigarettes. And while a cordon was quickly created, hundreds rushed towards the trucks, overpowering the soldiers. "We have had no water and no food," said Ali Abdullah, 50. He stood away from the crowd, stroking his beard and surveyed the scene intently as crowds of young men fought over the water. "For five days now, we have been without electricity. Have you brought some electricity?"

The exercise had been beset with a number of difficulties from the outset. On leaving the nearby Shaiba airfield - a series of abandoned hangars, runways and outbuildings on the road to Basra - there had been innumerable delays as reports of violence filtered back from Zubayr. Earlier, there had been a delay in confirming security in the town. Inside Zubayr, however, the distribution initially began with good nature. Young men joked with each other, smiled and passed around bottles of water. Within 10 minutes, however, an undercurrent of resentment flowed to the surface. The war, the bombing, sanctions and their cumulative toll all boiled over.

Jalil Ali, 25, the young Iraqi in the brown shawl, asked if any of the humanitarian aid was being provided by Americans. "Take it back," he yelled, pretending to push it away. "We want the Americans to go back home. We do not need them here. Go back home. I do not need this." Around him, his friends giggled. Not far away, people rushed out of earthen buildings and raced down a dual carriageway. Ali, however, seemed to realise the irony only too well. "They bomb. And now they want to give water and food. How can they do both? How?" It was then that the gunfire erupted. Earlier, the soldiers had been optimistic but pensive. After enduring a rainy and windy night in the disused hangar at the Shaiba airfield, the convoy had been well intentioned. It was a curious sight: a line of trucks bearing much-needed humani tarian aid - aid that betrayed all the hallmarks of an occupying force, but aid none the less. The Iraqis, while initially jubilant, were quickly sceptical.

"I need electricity," said Moyed Abdullah, 33. "I need to power my house. See the electricity lines? They are not working; they have not been working for days. Do you bring any electricity?" Around him, British and US soldiers struggled to control the crowds. Time and again, the Iraqis were pushed back - always, they seemed to slip in under the makeshift rope-line. After a while, it seemed, it was better simply to stand back and wait for the inevitable to happen. The burst of gunfire from across the road finally stopped all attempts to supply the aid. As soldiers leapt into the jeeps, a Warrior turned round and took out the position the gunfire had come from. And with daylight fast fading, the humanitarian taskforce decided to speed back to its base at Shaibah airfield. Tomorrow, they will undoubtedly try again to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi civilians. And presumably tomorrow, they will encounter yet more resentment.



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