Saturday, July 7, 2007

Massive bomb blast in Iraq kills at least 117

A boy is taken to a hospital in Kirkuk, Iraq,
after a suicide bomber attacked a village market.

A massive suicide truck bomb, loaded with two tons of explosives, detonated today in an outdoor market in Amerli, a village predominantly populated by Shiite Turkmen and Kurds, about 100 miles north of Baghdad in Salaheddin province, near Tuz Khurmatu . At least 117 are dead, and at least 265 were wounded. Witnesses said the truck looked like it could have been an Iraqi military vehicle.

Two Iraqis who survived the blast spoke with the AP “Some are still under the rubble with no one to help them. There are no ambulances to evacuate the victims.” Said one witness. “I saw destruction everywhere, dozens of cars destroyed, about 15 shops and many houses, even some more than 700 meters (yards) away," another witness told the reporter. (CNN has video of the aftermath)

Salaheddin province has been relatively restive in the past, experiencing sporadic violence, not approaching the levels seen elsewhere, and certainly nothing like todays attack.

My heart goes out to all the victims of the violence unleashed on Iraq, and to the families of the fallen, and to the wounded and to all of the victims of George Bush's splendid vanity war.

It is time to listen to the Generals who are not beholden, the ones who have been there, who understand the context, and who have determined to speak out and demand an end to it. Who do you trust? John Batiste, Antonio Taguba, and William Odom; or George "Mission Accomplished" Bush, Lindsey "I bought five rugs for five dollars" Graham and Joe "Dukakis Moment" Lieberman?

For the sake of the gene pool, I hope you didn't have to think about the answer to that question.

[Cross-posted from Blue Girl, Red State and Watching Those We Chose]

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Some free advice to Lindsey Graham, et al - saying it doesn't make it so

Three Blind Lice

There seems to be a tremendous disconnect between the die-hard war supporters and reality.

On the one hand, you have Lindsey Graham drinking deep from the Raspberry Red and stepping up to the mike to declare that things in Iraq are definitely looking up. “The military part of the surge is working beyond my expectations,” Graham said. “We literally have the enemy on the run. The Sunni part of Iraq has really rejected al-Qaida all over the country. We’re getting more information about al-Qaida operations than we’ve ever received.”

It’s hard to tell, the way objectives shift and goalposts get moved, but I seem to recall that the purpose of the escalation was to secure Baghdad, and on that point the numbers do not lie. Violence in Baghdad is not appreciably down. In fact, 2% is a mere blip, and certainly not statistically significant. Between 20 June and 5 July, 472 civilians died in attacks in Baghdad. This represents a whopping 2 percent drop in civilian casualties from the previous 16-day period, according to a tally collected by the Associated Press from daily reports by Iraqi security and hospital officials.”

Just a brief perusal of the major news outlets would indicate that Graham is either delusional at best, or flat-out lying at worst. I’m going with the lying until proof is submitted to the contrary.

From Reuters:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Car bombs and mortar attacks killed 50 people in Iraq, police and local officials said on Saturday, while the U.S. military said six of its soldiers had been killed in the past two days.

One British soldier was also killed in the south.

The fresh violence follows a lull in Iraq, where tens of thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops are on the offensive against insurgents in a bid to halt a slide into sectarian civil war.

And the Washington Post:

BAGHDAD, July 7 -- Suicide bombings across Iraq killed nearly 150 and injured scores, including a massive truck assault in a northern Shiite village that ripped through a crowded market, officials said Saturday.

The violence came as the U.S. military on Saturday reported the deaths of eight American soldiers over the past two days, all killed in combat or by roadside bombs in Baghdad and the western province of Anbar. A British soldier was reported killed in fighting in southern Iraq.

The worst carnage unfolded in the Shiite Turkoman village of Amarly, 50 miles south of Kirkuk, when a suicide bomber rammed a truck laden with explosives into the central market, which is near a police station, officials said. The attack killed at least 115 people and wounded at least 210, according to district and hospital officials, adding that they expected the death toll to rise.

And finally, from the New York Times:

BAGHDAD, July 7 — Suicide bombers killed at least 122 people in two attacks north of Baghdad, officials said Saturday, and the strikes raised questions about whether insurgents who had fled intense military operations in Baghdad and Diyala are turning to more vulnerable targets nearby.

In the worst blast, a truck loaded with explosives demolished dozens of fragile clay-built houses and shops on Saturday in Amerli, a village of poor Shiite Turkmen about 15 miles south of Tuz Khurmato. The Iraqi police said the blast killed 1o5 people and wounded 210 more.

The American military also reported Saturday the deaths of nine soldiers and marines on Thursday and Friday, eight of them during combat or from roadside bomb attacks.

Witnesses in Amerli described a horrific scene of people running while on fire, and others shrieking for rescuers to pull them free from beneath scores of buildings that were turned into rubble by the blast.

Perhaps Lindsey will do us all a favor and next time he visits Iraq and conduct one of his patented pep-rallies outside the Green Zone, in the middle of Baghdad – without two Apache gunships, three Blackhawks, an entire company of U.S. soldiers surrounding him – and enough body armor to pass himself off as a body double for RoboCop.

If he did that, I might, for a couple of minutes, stop bitching about the stupidity of these dog-and-pony-shows when potentates visit the “troops in the field” to “get the real story” – oh please! You can take my first-hand account on this – any “troop in the field” who might be inclined to say something the potentates don’t want to hear, doesn’t get anywhere near the potentates. These trips are a waste of taxpayer money, and for what just one of these junkets costs, at least ten teachers could be trained for placement in inner city schools, and a couple of doctors for inner-city hospitals, too.

And I can tell you something else first-hand…when the word comes down from on high that a dignitary is coming, the cursing is voluble and eye-rolling is blatant...even from the commanders making the announcement, in a lot of cases. I can only imagine the reaction of troops in a war zone.

[Cross-posted from Blue Girl, Red State and Watching Those We Chose]

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Peace will not be silenced by Fear

On June 24, 1826, a terminally ill Thomas Jefferson wrote the following about the 50th anniversary Independence Day celebration that was coming up:

May it be to the world, what I believe it will be ... the signal of arousing men to burst the chains ... and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form, which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. ... For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.

We now must breathe life back into the words of Thomas Jefferson above. We must use these words as a battle cry that we will not accept the tyranny of George Bush any longer. We will fight for self-government as it was meant to be by our founding fathers and we will fight to end the War in Iraq. We will not be silent; to do so shows tacit approval of the current administration’s actions and the inactions of our Congress on the issue of Peace vs. the “War for Oil” known as the Iraq War. We must stand firm and scream it loud and clear; We will not be silent, we will not accept this unjust war, we will secure the rights of our brothers and sisters here in America to have Peace, not Bush’s War for Oil.

George Bush was not duly elected. The Supreme Court put him in the Oval Office my dear reader. Rogue’s who were not elected by the people are running the Executive Branch of our government. They lied us into the War in Iraq, and they strive to silence all opposition. We Will Not Be Silent! We want Peace and we want it NOW! Over 70% of the population of the United States agrees with us and mutha fuckas..We Will Not Be Silent!

We don’t really think about the reason for the day, it’s just a big BBQ/party day in modern America. But the folks that took the stand against England back in 1776 and put everything on the line have much in common with those of us who are tired of being screwed by George Bush and his corrupt, warmongering minions. We are tired of the Little Dictator; we will no longer stand by and let this man have his way with the entire world. We must stand united in a common goal of ending Bush’s Wars and bringing him to justice for all the evil he was wrought upon the world. We are tired of our rights being usurped in the name of FEAR. We want Peace and we want it NOW!

So we must heed Mr. Jefferson’s words and those of the founding fathers that stood their ground and fought for what they knew was right and just. We must make our voices loud and clear..united in the common goal; We Want Peace and We Want It NOW!

It’s time for a New American Revolution.

Are you with us or against us? Its your right to be on either side..but if your part of the warmongering crowd, stand aside and give us plenty of room because we will not go away. We will not be SILENCED.

Cross-posted at LeftwingNutJob

Tags: Impeach Bush, Peace is Patriotic, End The War in Iraq Now

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Friday, July 6, 2007

Bush Compares Iraq To American Revolution, Bush is an Idiot

Preaching to the choir yesterday in Martinsburg, W Va, Bush recited the same sermon he and his handlers reserve for these carefully controlled and completely choreographed appearances before the faithful.
"We give thanks for all the brave citizen-soldiers of our Continental Army who dropped pitchforks and took up muskets to fight for our freedom and liberty and independence," Bush said. He added: "You're the successors of those brave men. . . . Like those early patriots, you're fighting a new and unprecedented war."

I wonder if anyone else noticed that our Revolution against the tyrannical rule of that earlier George, the occupation of our cities and provinces by British troops, his interference in what we regarded as our affairs, and the general mistreatment of our citizenry was, in fact, the polar opposite of our invasion and occupation of Iraq and the mistreatment, maiming and murder of their citizenry.

We have been at war in Iraq for over four years, in Afghanistan for nearly six, at the same time we have conducted and continue to conduct covert operations in other countries throughout the Middle East including Iran and Pakistan, as well as in several African countries.

The result of what we have wrought has been the death, destruction or displacement of hundreds of thousands of innocents, along with the sacrifice of our military forces and our economic future. There has been no net gain for the people of this country or any other.

Along the way great benefits have devolved upon many of our well connected corporations, both public and private, continuing the transfer of public wealth to private hands, (select private hands, that is) which is the core of neo conservative economics and was the central purpose of going to war in Iraq.

We might have more easily invaded Mexico, a country which was equally complicit in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the number of Mexican terrorists aboard the ill fated suicide planes having been exactly equal to the number of Iraqi terrorists.

A war against terror in Mexico, so much closer than Iraq, would have greatly eased the logistical problems we have in the Middle East, avoided stirring up the international radical Muslim community and may have gone a long way to solving our much ballyhooed "immigration problems."

Here at home, a young man was killed about two weeks ago, Marine Cpl. Derek C. Dixon was killed while serving at a checkpoint in al Anbar province on Tuesday, June 26. Cpl Dixon was from Riverside, Ohio which is about a traffic light from where I sit typing as I watch the rabbits at early morning play outside my office window.

He will be buried today north of Dayton with full military honors, he was twenty years old and looked younger. Cpl Dixon attended high school at the same school I attended over four decades ago. He probably joked and laughed in the same classrooms, walked the same halls and ate in the same cafeteria as I did those long years ago.

Forty one years ago I walked those halls, laughing and joking with Ronnie Fields, one of my childhood friends and a lovable clown of a kid. Incorrigible and disruptive to good order and discipline was the the verdict of the adults who patrolled the halls in those days.

Ronnie was killed in Vietnam early in 1968 long before our young Corporal was born, his name is etched in a marble slab in the sidewalk of the Vietnam Memorial Park, located near the banks of the Great Miami River, within sight of our sadly aspiring little "downtown." Ronnie's name is there in a great circle of sidewalk joining the names of other local boys who paid the ultimate price of our folly in Vietnam.

I go there sometimes and walk by the river. I stand under the trees near Ronnie's name etched there in the marble and listen to the breeze as it crosses the river and blows through the trees, pushing the blazing city air off to the east and I see his face at 15 and 16, the mischief in his eyes above a grin that made you forget every thing else in the vicinity except whatever he might be up to now.

I stand in that silence and think of him and all the others lost and gone, some I knew, most I did not, except in spirit.

I spent several years on a Veteran's honor guard and have served at more than three hundred funerals and memorial services. In every one I heard the same phrases, the same words, honor and duty and sacrifice, died for his country, service to America, and then, then they play Taps, fire three volleys and go to their homes or to the VFW for sandwiches and beer.

Nothing left at graveside, just another name etched in marble, or concrete, etched in bronze, another memory of a fresh faced young kid laughing with his friends in some high school hallway, just a memory and the wind.

They buried Ronnie almost half a lifetime ago and since that day, so many more, so many more.

They will bury Cpl Dixon today, a squad of Marines in attendance, a Chaplain probably, an Officer in Charge and a rifle squad. The bugle will sound taps, and the riflemen will fire three volleys.

The dreadful finality of the crack of the rifles will startle the senses, bring tears to the eyes, and sobs to the throats of most of those in attendance.
The grief will seem unbearable but it will be borne, once again.

And when final notes of the bugle fade, they will leave
and leave behind another soon faded flag, another memory in the wind.

Bob Higgins
Worldwide Sawdust

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Doolittle joins Domenici in call for pullout

Just hours after Senator Pete Domenici appeared to abandon his support for aWol and his failed Iraq strategy, Representative John Doolittle, a conservative Republican congressman from California announced he is withdrawing his support for the mess in Mesopotamia.

Speaking to members of the editorial board of the Sacramento Bee, he said Americans must disengage “as soon as possible” and turn the security of the country over to the Iraqis.

A longtime supporter of the war, Doolittle called the situation in Iraq a "quagmire" on Thursday. "We've got to get off the front lines as soon as possible," Doolittle said at Rocklin City Hall, the Bee reported. "And in my mind that means something like the end of the year. We just can't continue to tolerate these kinds of losses.

"I don't want to keep having our people dying on the front lines. I am increasingly convinced that we never are going to succeed in actually ending people dying (in Iraq). I think it's going to be a constant conflict ... and if that is going to happen ... it needs to be the Iraqis dying and not the Americans."

Later he told the Bee's editorial board: "My belief is that the majority of my colleagues on the Republican side have become skeptical of all of this. And that's a big change."

Doolittle said colleagues in Congress -- including an increasing number of Republicans -- believe the war "is something different than we believed it to be. And we're gravely at risk by constantly having our troops exposed."

Doolittle has been a key supporter of the administrations Iraq (cough) “policy” thus far, as has Domenici. Losing their support almost simultaneously is significant.

Now mind you, neither one of them have cast a vote or done anything besides pay a bit of lip service. But think about it for a second: this just isn’t a political climate where equivocating is going to be tolerated by the American public. We are pissed off. We are as collectively pissed off as we have ever been. A politician who says what his constituents want to hear and then continues on his merry feckless way is a politician soon to be unemployed. Domenici, in Class II, will have to face the voters in his state in 2008 if he wants to retain his seat, and he is already in the doghouse over the firing of David Iglesias. He knows he’s in trouble there, because he hired Lee Blalack, consigliere to the powerful and connected when they think they might end up in the slammer.

Sure, it’s purely political, and somewhat craven, to abandon a position they held “on principle” right up to the moment it was no longer politically expedient to do so, but whatever route they took to arrive, they got there. It will be up to their constituents to hold them to account next November. In the meantime, it’s up to us to keep the pressure on the powerful and make certain they cast votes accordingly. Next November is coming, and accounts will certainly be settled. But in the interim, I will take all the Republican defections I can get if will get my brothers and sisters the fuck out of the sandbox.

[Cross-posted from Blue Girl, Red State and Watching Those We Chose]

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Once again Gen. William Odom gets it right on Iraq

He says Congressional Democrats need to grow a spine:

If the Democrats truly want to succeed in forcing President Bush to begin withdrawing from Iraq, the first step is to redefine "supporting the troops" as withdrawing them, citing the mass of accumulating evidence of the psychological as well as the physical damage that the president is forcing them to endure because he did not raise adequate forces. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress could confirm this evidence and lay the blame for "not supporting the troops" where it really belongs – on the president. And they could rightly claim to the public that they are supporting the troops by cutting off the funds that he uses to keep U.S. forces in Iraq. …

The president is strongly motivated to string out the war until he leaves office, in order to avoid taking responsibility for the defeat he has caused and persisted in making greater each year for more than three years.

To force him to begin a withdrawal before then, the first step should be to rally the public by providing an honest and candid definition of what “supporting the troops” really means and pointing out who is and who is not supporting our troops at war. The next step should be a flat refusal to appropriate money for to be used in Iraq for anything but withdrawal operations with a clear deadline for completion.

The final step should be to put that president on notice that if ignores this legislative action and tries to extort Congress into providing funds by keeping U.S. forces in peril, impeachment proceeding will proceed in the House of Representatives. Such presidential behavior surely would constitute the “high crime” of squandering the lives of soldiers and Marines for his own personal interest.

September, with the Petraeus report, etc., is the last date Congressional Democrats can halfway reasonably be expected to act before 2009. After September, if they won’t stand up to GOP pressures then, the cycle of the election calendar will see them paralyzed until after the November 2008 general election.

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Watching Those We Choose.

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Thursday, July 5, 2007


GOP support for Bush's Iraq war is crumbling, Associated Press.

Last week, GOP Senators Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said the U.S. should reduce its military presence in Iraq. Sen. John Warner, R-Va., had already said the same prior to that. Now Sen. Pete Domenici has withdrawn his support of President Bush's Iraq war policy and embraced a proposal to bring home most troops by March. They don't want to get caught in the pressure that the White House will mount this September.

I wouldn't be surprised if the GOP support for Bush and Cheney's jobs starts to crumble next, particularly after Olbermann's recent broad-side. It's time to hammer at the cracks developing in Bush and Cheney's armor.

There's more: "Crumble" >>


(Also see: George W. Bush's Iraq and Mid-East Debacle)

By Michael Schwartz, via AfterDowningStreet

A state-of-the-art research study published in October 12, 2006 issue of The Lancet (the most prestigious British medical journal) concluded that—as of a year ago—600,000 Iraqis had died violently due to the war in Iraq. That is, the Iraqi death rate for the first 39 months of the war was just about 15,000 per month.

That wasn’t the worst of it, because the death rate was increasing precipitously, and during the first half of 2006 the monthly rate was approximately 30,000 per month, a rate that no doubt has increased further during the ferocious fighting associated with the current American surge.

The U.S. and British governments quickly dismissed these results as “methodologically flawed,” even though the researchers used standard procedures for measuring mortality in war and disaster zones. (They visited a random set of homes and asked the residents if anyone in their household had died in the last few years, recording the details, and inspecting death certificates in the vast majority of cases.) The two belligerent governments offered no concrete reasons for rejecting the study’s findings, and they ignored the fact that they had sponsored identical studies (conducted by some of the same researchers) in other disaster areas, including Darfur and Kosovo. The reasons for this rejection were, however, clear enough: the results were simply too devastating for the culpable governments to acknowledge. (Secretly the British government later admitted that it was “a tried and tested way to measuring mortality in conflict zones”; but it has never publicly admitted its validity).

Reputable researchers have accepted the Lancet study’s results as valid with virtually no dissent. Juan Cole, the most visible American Middle East scholar, summarized it in a particularly vivid comment: “the US misadventure in Iraq is responsible [in a little over three years] for setting off the killing of twice as many civilians as Saddam managed to polish off in 25 years.”

Despite the scholarly consensus, the governments’ denials have been quite effective from a public education point of view, and the few news items that mention the Lancet stody bracket it with official rebuttals. One BBC report, for example, mentioned the figure in an article headlined “Huge Rise in Iraqi Death Tolls,” and quoted at length from President Bush’s public rebuttal, in which he said that the methodology was "pretty well discredited,” adding that “six-hundred thousand or whatever they guessed at is just... it's not credible.” As a consequence of this sort of coverage, most Americans probably believe that Bush’s December 2005 figure of 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths (less than 10% of the actual total) is the best estimate of Iraqi deaths up to that time.

These shocking statistics are made all the more horrific when we realize that among the 600,000 or so victims of Iraqi war violence, the largest portion have been killed by the American military, not by carbombings or death squads, or violent criminals — or even all these groups combined.

The Lancet interviewers asked their Iraqi respondents how their loved ones died and who was responsible. The families were very good at the cause of death, telling the reporters that over half (56%) were due to gunshots, with an eighth due each to car bombs(13%), air strikes (13%) and other ordinance (14%). Only 4% were due to unknown causes.

The families were not as good at identifying who was responsible. Although they knew, for example, that air strike victims were killed by the occupation, and that carbomb victims were killed by insurgents, the gunshot and ordinance fatalities often occurred in firefights or in circumstances with no witnesses. Many times, therefore, they could not tell for sure who was responsible. Only were certain, and the interviewers did not record the responsible party if “households had any uncertainly” as to who fired the death shot.

The results are nevertheless staggering for those of us who read the American press: for the deaths that the victims families knew for sure who the perpetrator was, U.S. forces (or their “Coalition of the Willing” allies) were responsible for 56%. That is, we can be very confident that the Coalition had killed at least 180,000 Iraqis by the middle of 2006. Moreover, we have every reason to believe that the U.S. is responsible for its pro rata share (or more) of the unattributed deaths. That means that the U.S. and its allies may well have killed upwards of 330,000 Iraqis by the middle of 2006.

The remainder can be attributed to the insurgents, criminals, and to Iraqi forces. And let’s be very clear here: car bombs, the one source that was most easy for victims’ families to identify, was responsible for 13% of the deaths, about 80,000 people, or about 2000 per month. This is horrendous, but it is far less than half of the confirmed American total, and less than a quarter of the probable American total.

Even if we work with the lower, confirmed, figured of 180,000 Iraqi deaths caused by the occupation firepower, which yields an average of just over 5,000 Iraqis killed every month by U.S. forces and our allies since the beginning of the war. And we have to remember that the rate of fatalities was twice as high in 2006 as the overall average, meaning that the American average in 2006 was well over 10,000 per month, or something over 300 Iraqis every day, including Sundays. With the surge that began in 2007, the current figure is likely even higher.

These figures sound impossible to most Americans. Certainly 300 Iraqis killed by Americans each day would be headline news, over and over again. And yet, the electronic and print media simply do not tell us that the U.S. is killing all these people. We hear plenty about car bombers and death squads, but little about Americans killing Iraqis, except the occasional terrorist, and the even more occasional atrocity story.

How, then, is the US accomplishing this carnage, and why is it not newsworthy? The answer lies in another amazing statistic: this one released by the U.S. military and reported by the highly respectable Brookings Institution: for the past four years, the American military sends out something over 1000 patrols each day into hostile neighborhoods, looking to capture or kill insurgents and terrorists. (Since February, the number has increased to nearly 5,000 patrols a day, if we include the Iraqi troops participating in the American surge.)

These thousands of patrols regularly turn into thousands of Iraqi deaths because these patrols are not the “walk in the sun” that they appear to be in our mind’s eye. Actually, as independent journalist Nir Rosen described vividly and agonizingly in his indispensable book, In the Belly of the Green Bird, they involve a kind of energetic brutality that is only occasionally reported by an embedded American mainstream journalist.

This brutality is all very logical, once we understand the purpose and process of these patrols. American soldiers and marines are sent into hostile communities where virtually the entire population is supports the insurgency. They often have a list of suspects’ addresses; and their job is to interrorgate or arrest or kill the suspect; and search the house for incriminating evidence, particularly arms and ammunition, but also literature, video equipment, and other items that the insurgency depends upon for its political and military activities. When they don’t have lists of suspects, they conduct “house-to-house” searches, looking for suspicious behavior, individuals or evidence.

In this context, any fighting age man is not just a suspect, but a potentially lethal adversary. Our soldiers are told not to take any chances: in many instances, for example, knocking on doors could invite gunshots through the doors. Their instructions are therefore to use the element of surprise whenever the situation appears to be dangerous—to break down doors, shoot at anything suspicious, and throw grenades into rooms or homes where there is any chance of resistance. If they encounter tangible resistance, they can call in artillery and/or air power rather than try to invade a building.

Here is how two Iraqi civilians described these patrols to Asia Times reporter Pepe Escobar:

“Hussein and Hasan confirm that the Americans usually ‘come at night, sometimes by day, always protected by helicopters.’ They "sometimes bomb houses, sometimes arrest people, sometimes throw missiles’”

If they encounter no resistance, these patrols can track down 30 or so suspects, or inspect several dozen homes, in a days work. That is, our 1000 or so patrols can invade 30,000 homes in a single day. But if an IED explodes under their Humvee or a sniper shoots at them from nearby, then their job is transformed into finding, capturing, or killing the perpetrator of the attack. Iraqi insurgents often set off IEDs and invite these firefights, in order to stall the patrols prevent the soldiers from forcibly entering 30 or so homes, violently accosting their residents, and perhaps beating, arresting, or simply humiliating the residents.

The battles triggered by IEDs and sniper attacks almost always involve the buildings surrounding the incident, since that is where the insurgents take cover to avoid the American counter-attack. Americans, therefore, regular shoot into these buildings where the perpetrators are suspected of hiding, with all the attendant dangers of killing other people. The rules of engagement for American soldiers include efforts to avoid killing civilians, and there are many accounts of restraint because civilians are visibly in the line of fire. But if they are in hot pursuit of a perpetrator, their rules of engagement make it clear that capturing or killing the insurgent takes precedent over civilian safety.

This sounds pretty tame, and not capable of generating the statistics that the Lancet study documented. But the sheer quantity of American patrols—1000 each day—and the sheer quantity of the confrontations inside people’s homes, the responses to sniper and IED attacks, and the ensuring firefights add up to mass slaughter.

The cumulative brutality of these thousands of patrols can be culled from the recent inquest into the suspected war crimes committed in the city of Haditha back in November 19, 2005. The investigation seeks to ascertain whether American marines deliberately murdered 24 civilians including executing with point blank head shots nineteen unarmed women, children and older men in a single room, apparently in retribution for the death of one of their comrades earlier in the day. These horrific charges have made the incident newsworthy and propelled the investigation.

But it is the defense’s version of the story that makes the Haditha useful in understanding the translation of American patrols into hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths. First Lt. William T. Kallop, the highest ranking officer in Haditha that day, told the military hearing that he had ordered a patrol “to ‘clear’ an Iraqi home in Haditha after a roadside bomb had killed a Marine” earlier in the day. Later, after the firefight that this action generated, he went to inspect the home and was shocked to discover that only civilians had been killed:

“He inspected one of the homes with a Marine corporal, Hector Salinas, and found women, children and older men who had been killed when marines threw a grenade into the room.
“‘What the hell happened, why aren’t there any insurgents here?’ Lieutenant Kallop testified that he asked aloud. ‘I looked at Corporal Salinas, and he looked just as shocked as I did.’

It is important to keep in mind that Lt. Kallop would not have been shocked if there had been one or more insurgents among the dead. What made the situation problematic was that all the fatalities were clearly civilians, and it led to the possibility that they had not been in hot pursuit of an enemy combatant.

Later, however, Lt. Kallop decided that even this situation involved no misbehavior on the part of his troops, after questioning Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, who had led the patrol and commanded the military action:

“Sergeant Wuterich had told him that they had killed people [in that house] after approaching a door to it and hearing the distinct metallic sound of an AK-47 being prepared to fire.
“‘I thought that was within the rules of engagement because the squad leader thought that he was about to kick in the door and walk into a machine gun,’ Lieutenant Kallop said.”
According to Kallop, the soldiers were thus following the rules of engagement because if the squad leader “thought” that he was going to be attacked (based on recognizing a noise through a closed door), he was authorized and justified to use the full lethal force of the patrol (in this case a hand grenade), enough to kill all the people huddled within the apartment.

The critical distinction has to do with intentionality. First Lieutenant Max D. Frank, sent to investigate the incident somewhat later, explained this logic: “It was unfortunate what happened, sir,” Lieutenant Frank told the Marine prosecutor, Lt. Col. Sean Sullivan, “but I didn’t have any reason to believe that what they had done was on purpose.”

Translated, this means that as long as the soldiers sincerely believed that their attack might capture or kill an armed insurgent who could attack them, the rules of engagement justified their action and they were therefore not culpable of any crime.

Note here that other alternatives were not considered. The soldiers could have decided that there was a good chance of hurting civilians in this situation, and therefore retreated without pursuing the suspected insurgent. This would have allowed him to get away, but it would have protected the residents of the house. This option was not considered, even though many of us might feel that letting one or two or three insurgents escape (in a town filled with insurgents) might be acceptable instead of risking (and ultimately ending) the lives of 19 civilians.

Later in the hearing, Major General Richard Huck, the commanding officer in charge of the Marines in Haditha, underscored these rules of engagement in more general terms, —and also ignored the unthinkable option of letting the insurgents get away—when he explained why he had not ordered an investigation of the deaths:

“They had occurred during a combat operation and it was not uncommon for civilians to die in such circumstances. ‘In my mind's eye, I saw insurgent fire, I saw Kilo Company fire,’ Huck testified, via video link from the Pentagon, where he is assistant deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations. ‘I could see how 15 neutrals in those circumstances could be killed.’”

For General Huck, and for other commanders in Iraq, once “insurgent fire”—or even the threat of insurgent fire—entered the picture (and it certainly had earlier, when the American soldier was killed), then the actions reported by the Marines in that Haditha home were not just legitimate(if they reported them honestly), but exemplary. They were responding appropriately in a battlefield situation, and the death of “15 neutrals” is “not uncommon” in those circumstances.

Let’s keep in mind, then, that the United States undertakes something over 1000 patrols each day, and lately this number has surged to over 5000 (if we also count patrols by the Iraqi military). According to U.S. military statistics, again reported by the Brookings Institute, these patrols patrols currently result in just under 3000 firefights every month, or just under an average of 100 per day (not counting the additional 25 or so involving our Iraqi allies). Most of them do not produce 24 Iraqi deaths, but the rules of engagement our soldiers are given—throwing hand grenades into buildings holding suspected insurgents, using maximum firepower against snipers, and calling in artillery and air power against stubborn resistance—guarantee a regular drumbeat of mortality.

It is worth recording how these events are reported in the American press, when they are noted at all. Here, for example, is an Associated Press account of American/British patrols in Maysan province, a stronghold of the Mahdi army:

Well to the south, Iraqi officials reported as many as 36 people were killed in fierce overnight fighting that began as British and Iraqi forces conducted house-to-house searches in Amarah, a stronghold of the Shiite Mahdi Army militia.

This brief description was part of a five paragraph account of fighting all over Iraq, part of a review under the headline “U.S. and Iraqi forces Move on Insurgents.” It contained brief accounts of several different operations, none of them presented as major events. There were 100 or so engagements that day, and many of them produced deaths. How many? Based on the Lancet article, we could guess that on that day—and most days—the incident in Amarah represented perhaps one-tenth of all the Iraqis killed by Americans that day. Over the course of June, the accumulated total probably came to something over 10,000.

During the hearing about Haditha one of the investigators addressed the larger question that emerges from the sacrifice of so many civilians to the cause of chasing and catching insurgents in Iraq. Lieutenant Max D. Frank, the first officer to investigate the deaths, characterized is an “unfortunate and unintended result of local residents’ allowing insurgent fighters to use family homes to shoot at passing American patrols.” Using a similar logic, First Lt. Adam P. Mathes, the executive office of the company involved, argued against issuing an apology to local residents for the incident. Mathes advocated that instead they should issue a warning to Haditha residents, that the incident was “an unfortunate thing that happens when you let terrorists use your house to attack our troops.”

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines terror as “violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population….” The incident at Haditha was just such a violent act, and was one of about 100 that day that Lt. Mathes hoped would intimidate the population of Haditha and other towns in Iraq from continuing to support insurgents.

[1] Lancet 061012 – Burnham et al – Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq
The Lancet Early Online Publication, 12 October 2006
The Lancet DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)69491-9
Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey
Prof Gilbert BurnhamMD a , Prof Riyadh LaftaMD b, Shannon DoocyPhD a and Les RobertsPhD a

[2] CBS 051212 – 30,000 Iraqis Killed in War

Bush: 30,000 Iraqis Killed In War
PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 12, 2005 (CBS/AP)

[3] DemocracyNow 061012 – Roberts – Co-author o f Medical Study estimating 650,000 deaths defends research
Co-Author of Medical Study Estimating 650,000 Iraqi Deaths Defends Research in the Face of White House Dismissal
Thursday, October 12th, 2006

[4] TomDispatch 070515 – Johnson – ending the empire
Johnson, Chalmers, “Tom Graham: Chalmers Johsnon, Ending the Empire, Tom Dispatch May 15, 2007

[5] Cole, Juan 061011 – Cole – Hopkins Study
Informed Comment - Oct 11, 2006
by Juan Cole
655,000 Dead in Iraq since Bush Invasion

[6] BBC 061011 – Huge rise in Iraqi death tolls.
Wednesday, 11 October 2006
'Huge rise' in Iraqi death tolls

[7] CBS 051212 – 30,000 Iraqis Killed in War

Bush: 30,000 Iraqis Killed In War
PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 12, 2005


[8], p. 9

[9] Page 1 of 2 ROVING IN THE RED ZONE Inside Sadr City By Pepe Escobar
May 11, 2007. Asia Times

[10] Schwartz on Haditha

[11] NYT 070509 – Zielbauer – Officer says civilian toll in Haditha was a shock
New York Times
May 9, 2007
Officer Says Civilian Toll in Haditha Was a Shock

[12] NYT 070530 – Zielbauer – Two Marines deny suspecting Haditha war crime

New York Times, May 31, 2007
Defend Our Marines main page
2 Marines deny suspecting Haditha war crime

[13] NYT 070511 – Zielbauer – US general says his staff misled him on Haditha killings
U.S. general says his staff misled him on Haditha killings
By Paul von Zielbauer
New York Times
Friday, May 11, 2007

[14] p 7

[15] AssociatedPress 070618 – Hurst – US and Iraqi forces move on insurgent
June 18, 2007, 5:56PM U.S. and Iraqi forces move on insurgents
By STEVEN R. HURST Associated Press Writer © 2007 The Associated Press

[16] NYT 070530 – Zielbauer – Two Marines deny suspecting Haditha war crime

New York Times, May 31, 2007
Defend Our Marines main page
2 Marines deny suspecting Haditha war crime


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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Mercenaries outnumber US troops in Iraq

Crazy, no? But true. The details:

The number of U.S.-paid private contractors in Iraq now exceeds that of American combat troops, newly released figures show, raising fresh questions about the privatization of the war effort and the government's capacity to carry out military and rebuilding campaigns.

More than 180,000 civilians — including Americans, foreigners and Iraqis -- are working in Iraq under U.S. contracts, according to State and Defense department figures obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Yes, 2/3 are Iraqis:
The numbers include at least 21,000 Americans, 43,000 foreign contractors and about 118,000 Iraqis — all employed in Iraq by U.S. tax dollars, according to the most recent government data.

There are also signs that even those mounting numbers may not capture the full picture. Private security contractors, who are hired to protect government officials and buildings, were not fully counted in the survey, according to industry and government officials.

Continuing uncertainty over the numbers of armed contractors drew special criticism from military experts.

“We don't have control of all the coalition guns in Iraq. That’s dangerous for our country,” said William Nash, a retired Army general and reconstruction expert. The Pentagon “is hiring guns. You can rationalize it all you want, but that’s obscene.”

And, just how much do we know of the loyalties and intentions of those 118,000 Iraqis? Probably not a lot. They may be even less trustworthy than those that help our soldiers and marines.

Cross posted at SocraticGadfly.

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Joe Wilson On Libby Commutation: Bush Administration "Corrupt to the Core"

Keith Olbermann interviews Joe Wilson.

Joe Wilson: Springing Libby Shows Administration Is "Corrupt to the Core"
Editor & Publisher via truthout, Tuesday 03 July 2007

Appearing in an audio interview on MSNBC's "Countdown," Wilson called the move the latest evidence that the administration is "corrupt to the core." He added that it meant that the president was now participating in the "obstruction of justice."

Wilson called on both the president and Libby's former boss, Vice President Cheney, to "come clean" on their roles in the leaking of his wife's name, now that Libby has been spared prison. He called the leaking of the name "treasonous."

Asked by host Keith Olbermann if there was a "quid pro quo" - Libby would remain silent about crucial details of Cheney's role in the case in exchange for a pardon or commutation - Wilson answered, "absolutely."

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Keith Olbermann To Bush: J'Accuse - You Ceased To Be The President

The News Hole - Special Comment: It's Time to Resign:

I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war.

I accuse you of fabricating in the minds of your own people, a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.

I accuse you of firing the generals who told you that the plans for Iraq were disastrously insufficient.

I accuse you of causing in Iraq the needless deaths of 3,586 of our brothers and sons, and sisters and daughters, and friends and neighbors.

I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely-motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but to stifle dissent.

I accuse you of fomenting fear among your own people, of creating the very terror you claim to have fought.

I accuse you of exploiting that unreasoning fear, the natural fear of your own people who just want to live their lives in peace, as a political tool to slander your critics and libel your opponents.

I accuse you of handing part of this Republic over to a Vice President who is without conscience, and letting him run roughshod over it.

And I accuse you now, Mr. Bush, of giving, through that Vice President, carte blanche to Mr. Libby, to help defame Ambassador Joseph Wilson by any means necessary, to lie to Grand Juries and Special Counsel and before a court, in order to protect the mechanisms and particulars of that defamation, with your guarantee that Libby would never see prison, and, in so doing, as Ambassador Wilson himself phrased it here last night, of becoming an accessory… to the obstruction of justice.
When President Nixon ordered the firing of the Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the infamous "Saturday Night Massacre" on October 20th, 1973, Cox initially responded tersely, and ominously:
"Whether ours shall be a government of laws and not of men, is now for Congress, and ultimately, the American people."
President Nixon did not understand how he had crystallized the issue of Watergate for the American people.

It had been about the obscure meaning behind an attempt to break in to a rival party's headquarters; and the labyrinthine effort to cover-up that break-in and the related crimes.

And in one night, Nixon transformed it.

Watergate -- instantaneously -- became a simpler issue: a President overruling the inexorable march of the law… of insisting -- in a way that resonated viscerally with millions who had not previously understood - that he was the law.

Not the Constitution.
Not the Congress.
Not the Courts.
Just him.

Just - Mr. Bush - as you did, yesterday.

The twists and turns of Plame-Gate, of your precise and intricate lies that sent us into this bottomless pit of Iraq; your lies upon the lies to discredit Joe Wilson; your lies upon the lies upon the lies to throw the sand at the "referee" of Prosecutor Fitzgerald's analogy… these are complex and often painful to follow, and too much, perhaps, for the average citizen.

But when other citizens render a verdict against your man, Mr. Bush -- and then you spit in the faces of those jurors and that judge and the judges who were yet to hear the appeal -- the average citizen understands that, Sir.

It's the fixed ballgame and the rigged casino and the pre-arranged lottery all rolled into one -- and it stinks.

And they know it.

Nixon's mistake, the last and most fatal of them, the firing of Archibald Cox, was enough to cost him the presidency.

And in the end, even Richard Nixon could say he could not put this nation through an impeachment.

It was far too late for it to matter then, but as the decades unfold, that single final gesture of non-partisanship, of acknowledged responsibility not to self, not to party, not to "base," but to country, echoes loudly into history.

Even Richard Nixon knew it was time to resign

Would that you could say that, Mr. Bush.

And that you could say it for Mr. Cheney.

You both crossed the Rubicon yesterday.

There's more: "Keith Olbermann To Bush: J'Accuse - You Ceased To Be The President" >>

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Win, lose AND draw proposed for Gitmo inmates

National Security Adviser Steve Hadley and Defense Secretary Bob Gates are proposing a new tripartite classification of Guantanamo inmates as part of shutting it down. But, the devil’s in the details of this arrangement, which would simply deny due process to a smaller portion of the Gitmo population:

Essentially, the administration would propose legislation that would result in dividing the estimated 375 Guantánamo detainees into three legal categories. The one that would call for legislative action would include detainees like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 2001 attacks, and others whose trials would risk exposing intelligence operations. This group, estimated at two dozen to 50, would be placed indefinitely in military brigs on American soil.

A second group would also be moved to the United States, most likely to face trial in military courts, but perhaps with more legal guarantees than in the current military tribunal system.

The third, and largest, group would consist of detainees to be released to their home countries.

I, like Spencer Ackerman, can’t see the status of the first group passing serious legal scrutiny. Assuming, as he says, this is just a sop to Cheney, why would Cheney go along with it, unless he doesn’t believe that actually is the case?

As far as getting Democratic support to rewrite the Military Commissions Act, I can’t see smart Democrats taking any action before the Supreme Court rules this fall on its constitutionality, unless they get something that comes close to ex parte advance contact on a probable ruling.

So, in my opinion, I don’t think it’s likely we’ll have major legislative movement on this issue before the SCOTUS ruling.

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Watching Those We Choose.

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Gates wants to swap surge for ‘South Korea’ in Iraq

The Wall Street Journal reports that’s the strategy Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is looking at proposing to Congressional Democrats:

What Mr. Gates and some other high-ranking administration officials have in mind is a modern-day version of President Harry Truman’s “Cold War consensus,” a bipartisan agreement on the need to contain the Soviet Union. They hope lawmakers from both parties will ultimately agree to make a scaled-back U.S. mission in Iraq a central component of U.S. foreign policy even after Mr. Bush leaves office.

No thanks, I’ll say, for several reasons.

First, Democrats would be giving credence to the BushCo theory of “if we don’t fight them there, we’ll be fighting them here.”

Second, this assumes that Iraqis will be as accepting of a long-term U.S. military presence as South Koreans were.

Third, it presumes that such a long-term presence would magically make an Iraqi government more functional and Iraqi police and military units “step up.”

Fourth, what sort of numbers is Gates talking about remaining? What are the troops expected to do?

Fifth, the comparison and analogy of a religiously and ethnically multipartate Iraq to a nearly monolithic South Korea simply falters.

That said, I’m concerned many Democrats will take the bait, figuring they can make further changes after the 2008 elections.

Well, instead, they should consider a page, and a word, adapted, from Nixon. Start talking about the “Iraqification” of the conflict.

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Watching Those We Choose.

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Monday, July 2, 2007

IRAQ: The Death Of Reason


Iraq: The Death of Reason has now been released to the public by Voice in the Wilderness productions. This stunning new film attacks the Evangelical Church’s error in supporting the war in Iraq. Produced and directed by Raymond Schwab and Elliott Nesch of Beit Shalom Ministries, Iraq: The Death of Reason addresses just war theory, Abu Ghraib torture, depleted uranium, the deceptions sold to the American public by the Bush administration, false flag operations, war profiteers and calls the Christian church to reconsider their position, since prior to invasion 79% of evangelicals supported military action.

[cross posted at Edgeing and at Daily Kos]

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Iraq: The Death Of Reason


Iraq: The Death of Reason has now been released to the public by Voice in the Wilderness productions. This stunning new film attacks the Evangelical Church’s error in supporting the war in Iraq. Produced and directed by Raymond Schwab and Elliott Nesch of Beit Shalom Ministries, Iraq: The Death of Reason addresses just war theory, Abu Ghraib torture, depleted uranium, the deceptions sold to the American public by the Bush administration, false flag operations, war profiteers and calls the Christian church to reconsider their position, since prior to invasion 79% of evangelicals supported military action.

There's more: "Iraq: The Death Of Reason" >>

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Abandon Your Armored Vehicles!

In an article entitled, "Iraq ambush caps bloodiest months for US" Associated Press writer ROBERT H. REID reports:

A huge bomb explosion followed by a hail of gunfire and grenades killed five U.S. soldiers, the military said Friday. The attack climaxed the deadliest three-month period for the Americans since the war began.

He quantifies this, saying,
The toll for the past three months — 329 — made it the deadliest quarter for U.S. troops in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. That surpasses the 316 soldiers killed during November 2004 to January 2005.

The November 2004 to January 2005 date range includes the second battle of Fallujah.

Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr., who heads U.S. forces in the Iraqi capital, reported that the ambush involved a very large, deeply buried bomb that is difficult or impossible to detect. As a result, AP writer Ried reports,

Such "deep buried bombs" have been especially effective against U.S. vehicles, including Humvees, Bradley fighting vehicles and Strykers, prompting commanders in some areas to shift to foot patrols to avoid losing so many soldiers in a single blast.

Imagine that, the rag tag Iraqi insurgents have succeeded in forcing US troops to abandon the "security" of their armored vehicles and take to foot.

Think of it. US tax payers invest huge sums into these vehicles and their use is rendered a security risk by some irregular rebels. "Don't drive those vehicles around, you might get a bunch of guys killed." Sheeeit. That's pathetic. Reminds me of the American Revolution, except this time the Americans are the Red Coats.

Costs per Vehicle:

Humvee: The cost of an armored Humvee, built from scratch, is $150,000.[1]

Stryker: The Average acquisition cost per Stryker vehicle:
November 2000 (original estimate): $3.34 million
December 2003: $4.13 million. [2]

Bradley Fighting Vehicle: Average cost each about $3.2 million [3]

When the military has to abandon it vehicles, it seems like another sign of US impotence. I'm reminded of a profound observation by James K. Galbraith in Mother Jones Magazine. He says,
Bush and Cheney have done more than bungle a war and damage the Army. They have destroyed the foundation of the post-Cold War world security system, which was the accepted authority of American military power. That reputation is now gone. [4]


1. "Frantically, the Army tries to armor Humvees", MSNBC, Michael Moran, April 15, 2004. Surely the cost is higher now, and ... it's better not to use them, lest you get nailed by a "deeply buried bomb."

2. US General Accounting Office, August, 2004.
GAO report number GAO-04-925 entitled 'Military Transformation: Fielding of Army's Stryker Vehicles Is Well Under Way, but Expectations for Their Transportability by C-130 Aircraft Need to Be Clarified' which was released on August 12, 2004.

3. Federation of American Scientists, Bradley Fighing Vehicle.

4. Mother Jones Magazine, "Quitting Iraq won't undo the the war’s damage to U.S. security.", James K. Galbraith. March/April 2006.

Originally Posed at: GDAEman blog

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IRAQ: The Surge Is Working?

Tom Friedman of Friedman Unit fame (the next six months are crucial) in an NYT editorial, seems to have finally concluded that George W. Bush's "surge", otherwise known as Operation Last Chance, is failing:

It’s too early to pronounce the U.S. military’s surge in Iraq a failure. It’s not too early to say, though, that there’s no sign that it’s succeeding — that it’s making Iraqi politics or security better in any appreciable, self-sustaining way. At best, the surge is keeping Iraq from descending into full-scale civil war. At best we are dog paddling in the Tigris. Which means at least we should start to think about what happens if we have to get out of the water.

The first choice for many Shiites is a pro-Iranian, Shiite-dominated religious Iraq, where Sunnis have little say and little power. . . . In short, our first-choice soldiers are dying for Iraqis’ second choice. That is wrong, terribly wrong. It has to stop.
Friedman is probably right from the point of view of most reasonable people, but (and it's a big but) the "surge" may actually be a roaring success, and only failing depending on who you ask.

I'll explain why on the flip. Be warned though, it's not good news.

On April 08, 2007:
[Iraqi cleric] Muqtada al-Sadr urged the Iraqi army and police to stop cooperating with the United States and told his guerrilla fighters to concentrate on pushing American forces out of the country, according to a statement issued Sunday. The statement, stamped with al-Sadr's official seal, was distributed in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Sunday -- a day before a large demonstration there, called for by al-Sadr, to mark the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. "You, the Iraqi army and police forces, don't walk alongside the occupiers, because they are your archenemy," the statement said.
Up till April this year al-Sadr had been telling his people to restrain from open battle with US Troops.

On Sunday June 03 the NYT reported that:
Three months after the start of the Baghdad security plan that has added thousands of American and Iraqi troops to the capital, they control fewer than one-third of the city's neighborhoods, far short of the initial goal for the operation, according to some commanders and an internal military assessment.
On Monday June 04 The Herald reported that:
The toll from the booby-trap devices rose from 35% of all American fatalities in January to 80% last month, despite an outlay of more than £2.5bn on countermeasures since 2003.
A total of 127 died in May, the third worst total for US forces since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The previous most lethal months were April and November, 2004, when 135 and 137 soldiers died in large-scale offensives in Falluja.
On Friday June 29 AP reported that:
Baghdad - A huge bomb explosion followed by a hail of gunfire and grenades killed five U.S. soldiers, the military said Friday. The attack climaxed the deadliest three-month period for the Americans since the war began.The toll for the past three months - 329 - made it the deadliest quarter for U.S. troops in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. That surpasses the 316 soldiers killed during November 2004 to January 2005.
Iraqis will never quit. Iraqis want exactly what most Americans want... they want their own country - without a foreign occupying army. They don't want 'help' from US Troops - they want them gone, or dead.

They also want the Iraq puppet government gone, or dead:
"More than half the MPs, ministers and senior officials are on vacation, sick leave or on official assignment abroad (at any given time)," a government official told IPS on condition of anonymity. "It is common practice now that they spend more time abroad than in their offices. The main reason is their fear of being targeted inside the country "... Over the past year, an increasing number of Iraqis have begun to see the Iraqi government as no more than pawns of the United States...
It's all over but the denial.

In the bizarro logic used to continue the debacle in Iraq arming the people you've been killing for years and invaded the place to oust from power makes perfect sense.

It gives them the weaponry needed to kill American soldiers in Iraq, thus proving beyond all doubt that the place is riddled with terrorists and justifying sending more American troops in...

In other countries it's called treason, and war crimes.

There's more: "IRAQ: The Surge Is Working?" >>

Take Action to Stop War Profiteering

I've owned Robert Greenwald's "Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers"[1] for half a year. I finally watched it last night having resisted so long because I knew it would be a bummer. Actually, it was energizing in the sense that anger induces motivation.

The movie Sicko, by Michael Moore, thoroughly discredits the US health care system. It also exposes deep and wide corruption that is enriching an elite minority. That same establishment has cornered the US defense and security industries. US government officials are implicated and enriching themselves upon retirement from high office. The Democratic and Republican parties are corrupted by the wealth and power that has been consolidated via government largess.

Our hope lies in common people of all political persuasions who are harmed, even killed, by this corruption. There are more of us than the elite minority, and we live in a democracy where majority rules... at least the majority is supposed to rule.

The US political system that has enabled this corruption has lost nearly all legitimacy. You can be sure that the establishment knows this. In response, the power elite is establishing new laws that anticipate the need to clamp down on domestic dissent in the future. That impending need is summed up in the last segment of the film Iraq for Sale in which a relative of a former Blackwater employee says:

You know, I love my Country.I stand behind it. I'm concerned now in a way that I've probably never been concerned before, because I don't like what I'm seeing. America has become a powder keg I think, and it's just waiting for a match.

Michael Moore explains that the French people actually exercise democracy because they are well organized. He observes a difference in our countries; in the US, the people are afraid of their government. In France, the government is afraid of the people. [2]

The people who have the money, the people making the profit, have a lot of power and a lot of money, and a lot of influence. And, so I think it will really take something big, a big movement here in the United States

The myth of the US democracy is being exposed as a fraud.

How many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free
How many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

- Joan Baez

People now "see" and are grappling with what to do about the fact that American Revolution replaced the British aristocracy with an American aristocracy. The answer lies in one word, "organize."

Click Here for an "Action Guide" associated with Greenwald's film and links to organizations working for positive change. An "action" example of many is provided immediately below:

Take Action (Just one Example):

Army investigations implicated employees from Titan and CACI in the abuses of Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. To date, only one civilian contractor has faced charges. Write to the U.S. Department of Justice to act immediately to investigate and prosecute all cases of human rights abuses by civilian and corporate actors operating with seeming impunity in the “war on terror”. You can also write to the companies, like Titan, to express your concern over their human rights policies and practices. For both actions, go to Amnesty USA Action.


1. Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, by Robert Greenwald.

2. PBS "NOW" with David Brancaccio, Michael Moore, on French vs Americans, June 29, 2007.

Originally posted at: GDAEman blog

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