Our media is in a crisis of corporate consolidation. There only thing to do is follow the indymedia credo and become the media. Here I will try to bring to light issues which are being ignored in the mainstream media. I will provided commented links to articles I find important and from time to time I write my own analysis.
< Conscience >
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Patriot Act Nastiness (found via thismodernworld.com)
All of a sudden, there was a terrible commotion and five NYPD in bulletproof vests stormed down the stairs. They had their guns drawn and were pointing them indiscriminately at the restaurant staff and at us.
The police placed their fingers on the triggers of their guns and kicked open the kitchen doors. Shouts emanated from the kitchen and a few seconds later five Hispanic men were made to crawl out on their hands and knees, guns pointed at them.
I explained that we were just eating dinner and asked why we were being held. We were told by the INS agent that we would be released once they had confirmation that we had no outstanding warrants and our immigration status was OK'd.
In pre-9/11 America, the legality of this would have been questionable. After all, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution states: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized."
"You have no right to hold us," Asher insisted.
"Yes, we have every right," responded one of the agents. "You are being held under the Patriot Act following suspicion under an internal Homeland Security investigation."
The war is over (except for Iraq)
As Bush prepares to announce an end to hostilities today, more Iraqis are killed by American troops
The Independent (U.K.)
For the people of Fallujah – where two men in their twenties, Sa'aleh al-Jumaili, and Ghanam al-Jumaili, were killed yesterday – the war with the American and British occupiers seems to be just beginning. Hatred is taking hold here, and throughout Iraq. It was sown this week by US troops who fired into a demonstration, shooting dead 13 people, and sealed by soldiers who blasted into a crowd again yesterday, killing two more. This on the day that General Tommy Franks declared the main combat phase of the operation was over.
Hatred was present in the taunts of the youths goading the American troops face-to-face, calling them "babies" and waving a banner that said "Sooner or later, US killers, we'll kick you out". And it was there in the burning eyes of the man outside Fallujah General Hospital, who began bellowing about the "lies of the Western press" and the wickedness of the American occupation after we arrived to see the bloodied victims of the latest US shooting.
In a country that has lost some 2,500 civilians in the conflict, with at least 10,000 of its soldiers, resentment runs high. Still today, 40,000 of Baghdad's five million citizens rely on the Red Cross for water.
Amnesty International: Death of Civilian Demonstrators Must Be Investigated
The town of Falluja, west of Baghdad, has today witnessed another incident which resulted in the death of 3 civilians and the wounding of a further 8. This latest shooting occurred whilst townspeople were demonstrating about the shooting of Iraqi civilians by US troops on Monday night. Between 13 and 17 civilians were shot dead and more than 70 were wounded on Monday, when soldiers occupying a local school fired on demonstrators protesting against the US presence in Iraq.
"There must be an urgent enquiry into these reports. There are very real concerns that the US forces may have used excessive force," Amnesty International said.
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
BUSHIES ADMIT TO LYING TO GET US TO GO TO WAR
Oh, sorry, it's not lying, it's "emphasis". As in, Yet undiscovered small amounts of bio or chem weapons were 'emphasized' into mushroom clouds. As in, it wasn't about WMD at all, we just chose to "ephasize" that to you. Just like we "emphasized" a group of Islamic Fundamentalists in Kurdish controlled Northern Iraq into a Hussein al-Qaeda connection. And the forged documents that were "emphasized" that Iraq was only months away from having nuclear weapons.
Krugman's take on this.
We were not lying," a Bush administration official told ABC News. "But it was just a matter of emphasis." The official was referring to the way the administration hyped the threat that Saddam Hussein posed to the United States. According to the ABC report, the real reason for the war was that the administration "wanted to make a statement." And why Iraq? "Officials acknowledge that Saddam had all the requirements to make him, from their standpoint, the perfect target."
UPDATE: Same frustration happening in the U.K.
A British newspaper, The Independent, reports that "intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic were furious that briefings they gave political leaders were distorted in the rush to war." One "high-level source" told the paper that "they ignored intelligence assessments which said Iraq was not a threat."
Sure enough, we have yet to find any weapons of mass destruction. It's hard to believe that we won't eventually find some poison gas or crude biological weapons. But those aren't true W.M.D.'s, the sort of weapons that can make a small, poor country a threat to the greatest power the world has ever known. Remember that President Bush made his case for war by warning of a "mushroom cloud." Clearly, Iraq didn't have anything like that — and Mr. Bush must have known that it didn't.
Does it matter that we were misled into war? Some people say that it doesn't: we won, and the Iraqi people have been freed. But we ought to ask some hard questions — not just about Iraq, but about ourselves.
THERE may be NO weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw admitted yesterday. He told the Commons that war was declared because the regime had ONCE been in possession of them. And he insisted they did not have to be found to justify the invasion. His astonishing U-turn stunned MPs on all sides of the Commons - and came hours after Tony Blair again insisted that weapons were there and would be found.
MPs said they were staggered by the U-turn. Senior Labour backbencher Ian Gibson said: "The justification for war was that Iraq had weapons and could use them. Apparently that wasn't the case after all."
Labour MP Tam Dalyell, the Father of the House, accused the Government of hoodwinking the nation. He said: "We were told again and again the reason for going to war was that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that they could be used within 45 minutes. Now it's clear that the Iraqis have had no weapons for some time and that Parliament was given a completely false impression."
The Europe-U.S. divide -- Power and Interest News Report
The recent tensions between the United States and Western Europe show no sign of abating and further highlight the growing differences between these former allies.
The International Federation of Journalists says:
"Impossible to Ignore Evidence of Israeli Targeting of Journalists"
More from electronicintifada.
UPDATE: Fisk asks Did the U.S. Murder Journalists? at Counterpunch (search "Robert Fisk murder")
EPA criminal investigators pulled from job to chauffer and hold tables for the boss
Environmental Protection Agency criminal agents are being diverted from their normal investigative work to provide security and drivers for agency chief Christie Whitman — and getting long lists of do's and don'ts to keep her happy.
EPA agents assigned to investigate environmental crimes have at times been ordered to perform more personal tasks, such as returning a rental car for Whitman's husband after a trip or sitting at a table until the administrator arrived for a restaurant reservation, according to interviews with several EPA senior managers.
The lists of do's and don'ts instruct agents who chauffeur the EPA administrator to ensure they rent only a Lincoln Town Car, tune the radio to smooth jazz or classical music and set the volume low, and keep an eye out for a Starbucks coffee shop or Barnes & Noble book store.
With agents already designated for homeland security tasks, the regional offices sometimes are left without investigators for days at a time when Whitman is in town. (from atrios)
The al-Qaeda - Baghdad visit 1998 -- NOT big news
The Toronto Star reported about a document showing a visit from al-Qaeda agent to Baghdad in 1998. Here is a follow-up article in that paper, "U.K. officials knew of visit by Al Qaeda; But `no evidence of any follow-up'".
What does this mean? It's not at all inconsistent with the best intelligence we had before the war. A British intelligence document was leaked to the BBC in the first months of 2003 which said that while the BBC and Hussein's government had been in contact before, any potential alliance between them had failed because of ideological differences. From that BBC article of Feb. 5, 2003, titled Leaked report rejects Iraqi al-Qaeda link:
There are no current links between the Iraqi regime and the al-Qaeda network, according to an official British intelligence report seen by BBC News.
The classified document, written by defence intelligence staff three weeks ago, says there has been contact between the two in the past.
But it assessed that any fledgling relationship foundered due to mistrust and incompatible ideologies.
Monday, April 28, 2003
Darker Side: Fascism in America
Lighter Side: Playing Card Deck Shows Way to U.S. Regime Change
Check out the farley files, a "reference library for the left" where you can find articles by clicking on keywords. Right now it's the Spoils of War edition. Here is the search function.
In case you missed it: last month the Justice Department declared that information going into its criminal database no longer has to be vetted for accuracy. --Ted Bridis, AP news. EXERPTS:
The Justice Department lifted a requirement Monday that the FBI ensure the accuracy and timeliness of information about criminals and crime victims before adding it to the country's most comprehensive law enforcement database.
Just in case you missed it, pt. II:
Records are queried increasingly by the nation's law enforcement agencies to help decide whether to monitor, detain or arrest someone.
Officials said the change, which immediately drew criticism from civil-liberties advocates, is necessary to ensure investigators have access to information that can't be confirmed but could take on new significance later, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said.
The change to the 1974 U.S. Privacy Act was disclosed with an announcement published in the Federal Register.
The Privacy Act previously required the FBI to ensure information was "accurate, relevant, timely and complete" before it could be added to the system.
"It's a pretty big job to be accurate and complete," said Stewart Baker, a Washington lawyer who specializes in technology and surveillance issues. "On the other hand, these are potentially very significant records for people, and if it's not accurate and complete, it can mean trouble."
Critics urged Congress to review the change, arguing that information in the computer files was especially important because it can affect many aspects of a person's life.
"This is information that has always been stigmatizing, the type of data that can prevent someone from getting a job," said Marc Rotenberg of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center. "When you remove the accuracy obligations, you open the door to the use of unreliable information."
Sodomy laws, said [Senator] Santorum, were there ''for a purpose'': ''If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. . . . Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does.''
And then we have a stalwart commentator here
There's only one reason Santorum is getting flack for his remarks – they were dead-on target and undermine the entire homosexual political agenda. Santorum articulated far better and more courageously than any elected official how striking down laws against sodomy will lead inevitably to striking down laws against incest, bigamy and polygamy.
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Electricity flows again in Baghdad, sort of
Baghdad celebrated the beginning of the end Tuesday of a devastating 3-week-old power outage. Still, more than 80 percent of the city remained in darkness and doctors reported the first suspected cases of cholera and typhoid, with no clean running water yet.
Another version of the same AP story here at the Arab Times
has this additional information:
Fifty- to 60 per cent of the children brought in for treatment at the city's Al-Iskan children's hospital were suffering from dehydration and diarrhea caused by bad sanitation and water, said Dr Ahmed Abdul Fattah, the hospital’s assistant director. Doctors suspected hundreds of the children had cholera and typhoid, but with no labs fully working, and most UN health workers having fled, hard-pressed physicians said they could only treat the cases, not confirm them.
At al-Iskan children’s hospital, doctors were praying for their overworked cluster of generators to hold on. ‘Without them, these babies, 100 per cent, would face death,’ Fattah said over the wizened, red faces of premature infants in incubators. Other wards held listless children with sunken eyes. Some suffered from stomach infections caused by unclean water, draining fluids from their bodies. ‘An epidemic,’ Fattah said. ‘We suspect it’s cholera, but can’t test, because we have no lab facilities left,’ said acting director Dr Gassim Rahi Esa. Doctors also were treating increasing cases of typhoid, the children’s hospital said.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Hans Blix vs the US: 'I was undermined' --The U.K. Independent
By David Usborne in New York
23 April 2003
For the first time since the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, confronted the Americans openly yesterday, accusing the Bush administration of lacking credibility in its efforts to hunt down Iraq's banned weapons.
Mr Blix, 74, derided by Washington for his failure to find the "smoking gun" that would have convinced the UN to give legal backing to the war, also accused Washington and Britain of deliberately undermining his efforts before the war.
He warned the Security Council that only UN inspectors, and not the teams being assembled by America, would be able to provide an objective assessment of any materials that might be found in Iraq.
Mr Blix spoke out as the diplomatic blood-letting seen in the run-up to the conflict risked resurfacing with the first full discussion by the Council on the next steps in Iraq.
The Council's members sparred openly over the role of the UN in identifying weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And Mr Blix, who could now be the biggest obstacle to the removal of sanctions, which George Bush is seeking, rubbed salt in the wounds. London and Washington had built the case for invading Iraq on "very, very shaky" evidence, he said. He referred to documents alleging that Iraq had imported uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger that he later revealed to have been faked.
"I think it's been one of the disturbing elements that so much of the intelligence on which the capitals built their case seemed to have been shaky," he said, hinting that Britain the US might have allowed the information to surface to undermine inspections. [More]
UPDATE: Washington sidelines Blix in search for weapons
-- The Scotsman
Friday, April 18, 2003
Orin Hatch Leading Charge to '1984,' Critics Warn -- Salt Lake City Tribune
At the same time coalition forces are bringing liberty to Iraqis, organizations on both the left and right of the U.S. political spectrum say members of Congress led by Sen. Orrin Hatch are trying to strip precious rights from Americans.
Interesting article on the Ramjaz reports from iraqwar.ru --Progressive Review
The "were they aiding the Iraqis?" stuff seems overdone.
Ramzaj beat Reuters by two days about an Iraqi ambush on British forces outside Basra; it beat Abu-Dhabi TV by well more than a day about a plane getting shot down; and, said Gazeta.ru, it beat Reuters by more than a day and CNN by more than two days on the deployment of some 100,000 additional U.S. troops to the region.
American Airlines' Hypocrisy could Lead to Bankrupcy
Airline asked employees to sacrifice, but is protecting its elites. In fact, it was going to give 7 executives a bonus of 2X their salary just to get them to stay until 2005. Unions may reneg on agreement to accept cutbacks avoid bankrupcy.
"I am deeply angered and disappointed about the company's handling of this matter," James Little, director of AA's air transport union wrote yesterday in a letter to AA chairman and CEO Don Carty. "Our members have been asked to make extraordinary sacrifices. Now many members are questioning whether these sacrifices are for the purpose of rebuilding the company or subsidizing the benefits of a select few."
Update:Executive bonuses dropped, pension protections for execs stay in place
. Why don't they go further and take pay cuts like they've asked of the rest of their employees?
Reuters: Mideast Nations Debate Future of Iraq
Foreign ministers of Iraq's neighbors Turkey, Iran, Syria, Kuwait and Jordan as well as Egypt and Bahrain attended. [Hosted by Saudi Arabia.]
An opening statement read at the talks criticized what it said were U.S. threats against Syria and called for the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq to be as brief as possible.
``We absolutely refuse the recent threat against Syria which can only increase the likelihood of a new circle of war and hatred, especially in light of the continuing deterioration of the Palestinian situation,'' said the statement, read out by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
The Humanitarian Situation Still Dicey--Will Food Get Through In Time?
See: ZNET: The War is Not Over, by M.Rai
American Troops Massacre Protesters in Mosul?
News24.com: 10 die as US troops open fire
15/04/2003 13:56 - (SA) Mosul - United States troops opened fire on a crowd hostile to the new pro-US governor in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Tuesday, killing at least 10 people and injuring as many as 100, said witnesses and doctors.
: Four die in new Mosul shootings
At least four people were killed and several others wounded Wednesday by gunshots near the governorate buildings in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the second such incident here in two days, a hospital official and witnesses said.
Hospital sources for their part put the death toll at 15 with 28 wounded, from an earlier figure of 12 killed and 60 wounded.
: US forces accused of killing 17 civilians in Mosul
: American troops massacre Iraqi protesters in Mosul
Radio Free Europe
: Iraq: U.S. Military Confirms Killing Iraqis In Mosul During Protest
Voice of America
(U.S. gov't media): U.S. soldiers say they were fired upon, some of the wounded say that soldiers weren't fired upon.
Reports from Mosul quoting some of those wounded in the incident said the troops were not fired on. They said the Marines opened fire after the crowd began stoning a controversial Iraqi opposition figure, Mishaan al Jabouri, who had been speaking to the crowd and hailing the arrival of American forces in Mosul.
: Is Mosul the Future?
If further evidence were needed that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is not going to be a picnic, consider what's been happening in the northern city of Mosul.
On April 15, a crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 Iraqis was protesting against the American occupation and, in particular, against an Iraqi opposition leader Mishaan al-Jabouri who claims to be the new governor of this city of 700,000 people.
When al-Jabouri spoke to the crowd and praised the Americans, many in the crowd responded by throwing rocks at him, according to several news accounts. As the crowd got rowdier, the Marines opened fire, killing at least 10 Iraqis and wounding dozens of others. One of the wounded was an 11-year-old girl who had been watching the protest from the roof of a nearby building. She ended up with a chunk of shrapnel embedded in her lung, according to The New York Times.
The next day, U.S. soldiers killed three more people in Mosul, according to The Washington Post.
I suppose it was just a matter of time before the U.S. military acted like British colonial forces, but to do so within a week is startling.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Guilty Until Proven Innocent
Mike Hawash has been held in solitary confinement for more than three weeks without being charged with a crime. The FBI has said that Hawash is being held as a material witness for a grand jury, but will not say when this jury will convene.
What's unusual is that nobody with any real knowledge of the situation can talk about it. The U.S. Attorney's office has steadfastly refused to discuss the case, and Hawash's attorneys are subject to a gag order. His wife, Lisa, has been served with a subpoena to testify before a grand jury and has been advised by her lawyer not to talk to the press.
"It's remarkable--none of us has ever seen anything like this," says Dave Fidanque, director of the Oregon chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "This is unprecedented. We have no idea what kind of evidence they might have...Our Constitution was designed to prevent secret court procedures. Our Constitution was intended to guarantee every individual the right to due process. Since Sept. 11, Attorney General Ashcroft and the Justice Department have taken the position that they're entitled only to the rights that John Ashcroft thinks they're entitled to."
or search "hawash" at news.google.com
There have been similar arrests of at least 44 people, according to this Washington Post Article
from Nov. 24:
Authorities have arrested and jailed at least 44 people as potential grand jury witnesses in the 14 months of the nationwide terrorism investigation, but nearly half have never been called to testify before a grand jury, according to defense lawyers and others involved in the cases.
Although they had not been charged with any crimes, these "material witnesses" were often held under maximum security conditions, in detentions ranging from a few days to several months or longer. At least seven of the witnesses were U.S. citizens.
The accounts offer the clearest indication to date of how the government has used an obscure federal statute, the material witness law, to detain and investigate a wide range of terrorism suspects without having to charge them with a crime.
Monday, April 14, 2003
FAIR: Is Killing Part of Pentagon Press Policy?
It's not just an incident or two, it's a pattern.
In one incident, a U.S. tank fired an explosive shell at the Palestine Hotel, where most non-embedded international reporters in Baghdad are based. Two journalists, Taras Protsyuk of the British news agency Reuters and Jose Cousa of the Spanish network Telecino, were killed; three other journalists were injured. The tank, which was parked nearby, appeared to carefully select its target, according to journalists in the hotel, raising and aiming its gun turret some two minutes before firing a single shell.
Journalists who witnessed the attack unequivocally rejected Pentagon claims that the tank had been fired on from the hotel. "I never heard a single shot coming from any of the area around here, certainly not from the hotel," David Chater of British Sky TV told Reuters (4/8/03). Footage shot by French TV recorded quiet in the area immediately before the attack (London Independent, 4/9/03).
Earlier in the day, the U.S. launched separate but near-simultaneous attacks on the Baghdad offices of Al Jazeera and Abu Dhabi TV, two Arabic-language news networks that have been broadcasting graphic footage of the human cost of the war. Both outlets had informed the Pentagon of their exact locations, according to a statement from the Committee to Protect Journalists. As with the hotel attack, Pentagon officials claimed that U.S. forces had come under fire from the press offices, charges that were rejected by the targeted reporters.
The airstrike against Al Jazeera killed one of the channel's main correspondents in Iraq, Tareq Ayoub, and injured another journalist, prompting Al Jazeera to try to pull its remaining reporters out of Baghdad for fear of their safety (BBC, 4/9/03). Personnel at Abu Dhabi TV escaped injury from an attack with small-arms fire.
Al Jazeera, which the Bush administration has criticized for airing footage of American POWs, has been attacked several times by U.S. and British forces during the war in Iraq. Its offices in Basra were shelled on April 2, and its camera crew in that city fired on by British tanks on March 29. A car clearly marked as belonging to Al Jazeera was shot at by U.S. soldiers on April 7 (Reporters Without Borders, 4/8/03).
And then there's this
from the terminated site www.iraqwar.ru, which had some of the best intelligence.
"Our actions meet increasing opposition from the official quarts and in fact are turning into confrontation the outcome of which is not difficult to forecast."
Another article: Footage shows tank deliberately hit hotel
- Agence France-Presse
UPDATE: An article by Norman Solomon
, who says "Decoding the Pentagon's message to journalists isn't too difficult: If you don't play by our rules, you're much more likely to find yourself on a stretcher -- or dead."
Media Manipulation when Statue pulled down?
Photos at the above link. Discussion is here: Journalists Reveal Their True Colors
On April 9, a US tank recovery vehicle tightened a metal rope and a statue of Saddam Hussein came crashing down in central Baghdad. The event was celebrated by "dozens" of Iraqi people at the scene, according to BBC online, but by hundreds of mainstream journalists in Britain and America. A rare, long shot photograph of the event shows a small crowd of people around the statue surrounded by empty space, then tanks, and then more empty space.
The BBC's News At Six described this propaganda coup outside the journalists' hotel as a "momentous event", with the media "a witness to history", with US forces watching "amazed" on a "day of extraordinary drama and historic images", with Bush declaring "a historic moment" in reference to what were "extraordinary events" (April 9). This was all in the first 90 seconds of the programme.
Compare and contrast the above with the BBC's response to the march, not of dozens, but of 2 million British people in London on February 15:
"The people have spoken, or have they? What about the millions who didn't march? Was going to the DIY store or watching the football on Saturday a demonstration of support for the government?" (David Grossman, Newsnight, February 17, 2003)
As the "momentous events" of April 9 were described, the war raged on. US soldiers and many Iraqi civilians were killed in fighting that same night. [...] The Red Cross suspended its operations in the capital after a Canadian employee was killed: "It's not possible to distribute medical and surgical supplies or drinking water to the hospitals as we had wanted to. The situation is chaotic and very insecure", said one Red Cross spokeswoman (The Guardian, April 11).
But the media had already decided that the war had come to a happy conclusion. The BBC's Nicholas Witchell declared of the US drive into central Baghdad: "It is absolutely, without a doubt, a vindication of the strategy." (BBC News at Six, April 9) [more]
The scene at Doha
What happens when a reporter asks: "I mean no disrespect, but what is the value proposition of these briefings. Why are we here? Why should we stay? What's the value of what we're learning at this million dollar press centre?"
The Taliban Return
THE TALIBAN have re-emerged in force in Afghanistan, with attacks on American bases and the first direct hit on the headquarters of the international peace-keeping forces in Kabul.
Afghans in Kabul remain sceptical about the promises President Bush is making to Iraqis, the same promises he made to them of democracy, human rights and reconstruction. The international community gave $1 billion in the past year to help rebuild this shattered country. In contrast, the US gives Israel $3bn every year.
Afghans find it difficult to understand where the aid money has gone, except perhaps in Kabul where they can see large numbers of white Land Cruisers, hikes in property prices and new restaurants.
Robert Fisk: US guards only oil and intelligence as looters ransack government buildings
Anxious to "liberate" Iraq, it allows its people to destroy the infrastructure of government as well as the private property of Saddam's henchmen.
Americans insist that the oil ministry is a vital part of Iraq's inheritance, that the oil fields are to be held in trust "for the Iraqi people". But is the Ministry of Trade - re-lit on Sunday by an enterprising arsonist - not vital to the future of the Iraqi people? Is the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Irrigation - still burning fiercely yesterday -- not of critical importance to the next Iraqi government? The Americans, as we now know, could spare 2,000 soldiers to protect the Kirkuk oil fields, containing probably the largest reserves in the world, but couldn't even invest 200 soldiers to protect the Mosul museum from attack.
There was much talk of a "new posture" from the Americans yesterday.
Armoured and infantry patrols suddenly appeared on the middle-class streets of the capital, ordering young men hauling fridges, furniture and television sets to deposit their loot on the pavement if they could not prove ownership.
It was pitiful.
After billions of dollars of government buildings, computers and archives have been destroyed, the Americans are stopping teenagers driving mule-driven carts loaded with worthless second-hand chairs.
There was a special anger yesterday to the crowd which now gathers every afternoon opposite the Americans lines outside the Palestine Hotel.
On Saturday, they chanted "Peace-peace-peace - we want a new Iraqi government to give us security." Yesterday, some of them shouted "Bush-Saddam, they are the same."
Earlier Fisk Article: Apr 12: "Who is to Blame for the Collapse in Morality That Followed the 'Liberation'?"
Saturday, April 12, 2003
Wartime Media Manipulation: More outright fiction
The story is that a human shield in Iraq had a "reality check" and decided the war was totally justified. It was "broken" by United Press International and the Washington Times, and has been propagated in the Seattle Times, the National Review, and elsewhere. But the guy never was an antiwar activist in the first place. Carol Lipton and Adam Sacks set the record straight in Counterpunch.
Warning: UPI and the Washing Times are now owned by the Moonies. Take that into account when reading those sources. From the Counterpunch article:
The Washington Times, which published the first stories on Joseph, is owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who acquired UPI in 2000.
Reverend Moon is head of a notorious religious right-wing Christian cult, the Unification Church, whose fanatical followers, called "moonies", are subjected to mind-control techniques, as written about by former cult members. Rev. Moon, whose organization has been the subject of hundreds of newspaper artiles, stories, and books, was convicted for tax evasion on July 20, 1984, and was in federal prison, has developed close ties with the Reagan and both Bush administrations. 
The founding editor of the Washington Times, James Whelan, has spoken out against the Moon organization since resigning his position due to manipulation from Moon officials. Rev. Moon's political and business operations were the subject of a 1992 Frontline special on PBS.
Thursday, April 10, 2003
Another Suicide Attack Injures 4 Americans
These two older article (5 hours vs. 45 minutes) reports [same?] suicide attack in which some Americans were killed. Maybe newer information is that they didn't.
Hey Donald Rumsfeld: Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Terrorist Party?
From the National Security Archive at George Washington University: Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984. See Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein when he visited as an envoy in 1984, even as we were getting intelligence about Saddam's chemical weapons use. In fact, check out the documents on Iraq's alleged "almost daily use" of chemical weapons in the War against Iran. Then look at the Counterpunch article "Yes, It Is About Oil" (Apr 9, by David Lindorff) which tracks Rumsfeld's visit. Newly available memos show Rummy was visiting more about an oil pipeline than the Iran-Iraq war. The press release and full report are available here, from The Institute for Policy Studies.
Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Washington Post: U.S. Military Spurns Postwar Police Role
As civic order breaks down in Baghdad and large sectors elsewhere in Iraq, U.S. forces have neither the troops nor the inclination to police neighborhoods or deter looters in the next few days, according to Bush administration officials.
The need to defeat Saddam Hussein's remaining supporters will command the attention of U.S. troops throughout the country, they said, postponing the large-scale effort to fill the vacuum left by Iraq's vanishing Baath Party leadership.
Worried relief workers have warned that this power void could trigger a humanitarian calamity. Cautioning that long-repressed ethnic and political rivalries could erupt into score-settling and violence, U.S. and international agencies appealed to the Bush administration to restore stability as quickly as possible.
It does seem that plenty of Iraqis are happy about the arrival of the Americans. But it's not the whole story. The New York Times and USA today trumpet the happy greetings our troops receive. Other sources, like iraqpeaceteam.org
, have stories about the bereved, such as the Iraqi father in the hospital who cried, "In the name of democracy you kill our children!" Sometimes, pictures tell it best. The BBC has really telling photos--the most compelling I've seen this side of Al-Jazeera. Check out the set called "Euporia in Baghdad"
. It all looks good until you get to pictures 7 and 8. Especially 8. Wow. Some guy getting beat with a stick by other Iraqis, with the quote, "And some chose to take revenge on their former oppressors." In "Fighting in Baghdad"
, see pictures 5 and 6.
The pictures that have made an indelible impression in my mind, however, are here.
(Warning: The images in this series are horrific and depict the reality of injury and death in this US-led War against Iraq.) They are from Al-Jazeera, cached by New Zealand's Scoop. If you supported this war, you owe it to yourself to see its horrors. Two other pages (American POW's and casualties, Iraqi casualties and a family in distress) are accessible here
Finally: the best thing I've read about what is really happening in Baghdad, by Robert Fisk, Apr. 10. "A day that began with shellfire ended with a once-oppressed people walking like giants"
"You'll see the celebrations and we will be happy Saddam has gone," one of them said to me. "But we will then want to rid ourselves of the Americans and we will want to keep our oil and there will be resistance and then they will call us "terrorists". Nor did the Americans look happy "liberators". They pointed their rifles at the pavements and screamed at motorists to stop – one who did not, an old man in an old car, was shot in the head in front of two French journalists.
Of course, the Americans knew they would get a good press by "liberating" the foreign journalists at the Palestine Hotel. They lay in the long grass of the nearest square and pretended to aim their rifles at the rooftops as cameras hissed at them, and they flew a huge American flag from one of their tanks and grinned at the journalists, not one of whom reminded them that just 24 hours earlier, their army had killed two Western journalists with tank fire in that same hotel and then lied about it.
But it was the looters who marked the day as something sinister rather than joyful. In Saddam City, they had welcomed the Americans with "V" signs and cries of "Up America" and the usual trumpetings, but then they had set off downtown for a more important appointment. At the Ministry of Economy, they stole the entire records of Iraq's exports and imports on computer discs, with desk-top computers, with armchairs and fridges and paintings. When I tried to enter the building, the looters swore at me. A French reporter had his money and camera seized by the mob.
Tuesday, April 08, 2003
Proof that U.S. missile killed at least 62 Iraqis in market
Raytheon, which also produces the Patriot anti-missile system and the Tomahawk cruise missile, lists its Harms and its latest Paveway III laser-guided bombs, marketed with the slogan "One bomb, one target", as among its most accurate weaponry.
The company's sales description for its anti-radar missile says: "Harm was designed with performance and quality in mind. In actual field usage, Harm now demonstrates reliability four times better than specification. No modern weapons arsenal is complete without Harm in its inventory."
Faced with apparent proof that one of its missiles had been less accurate than specification, Raytheon was more coy on the capabilities of its products. A spokeswoman at the company's headquarters in Tucson, Arizona, said: "All questions relating to the use of our products in the field are to be handled by the appropriate military authority."
Another American killed in Gaza Strip Go to April 5, 2003.
The A.P. article is here.
International Solidarity Movement report: Today at about 6.30 pm Brian Avery, 24, of New Mexico was shot in the face by a burst of machine gun fire from an Israeli Armoured Personnel Carrier. The circumstances surrounding his injury are as follows:
Today the Israeli army of occupation operating in the Jenin area imposed its second day of curfew on the people of the city. Groups of young men and boys continued their resistance to the curfew by venturing out onto the streets to throw stones at tanks and other military vehicles. At about 6.30 pm Brian and another ISM activist were at the ISM's Jenin headquarters when they heard the sound of gunfire coming from the centre of the city, about two blocks away.
They left the apartment to investigate and had traveled about a hundred metres when they arrived at a major crossroad and saw two armoured personnel carriers advancing towards them at low speed. There were no Palestinians on the streets in the area, armed or otherwise. At the sight of the armoured vehicles both activists stood still and raised their hands above their heads. When the first armoured personnel carrier was 50 metres from them it fired a burst of machine gun fire (an estimated 15 rounds) at the ground in front of them so that they were sprayed by a shower of broken bullets and stones.
Tobias, Brian's companion, leapt aside. He had fled about three steps when he looked back to see Brian lying face down on the road in a pool of blood.
Tobias and Brian were then joined by four other ISM activists who had arrived at the scene of the shooting by a different route. All six of them rushed to help him as the two armoured vehicles rolled past without stopping. He was conscious but when he raised himself from the ground they saw that his left cheek has been almost totally shot off. The activists then performed first aid on him and phoned for an ambulance which took him to the Martyr Doctor Khalil Suleiman Hospital in Jenin where he was treated for shrapnel wounds to his face including bone fractures below the eyes, lacerations of the tongue and lacerations of his left cheek. A specialist was called in to examine his injuries and recommended that he be transferred immediately to a hospital in Afula in Israel but his departure was delayed because the Israeli military refused to grant his ambulance safe passage for more than an hour.
From Afula Brian was transported to a hospital in Haifa by helicopter. Under the Israeli Army's own rules of engagement soldiers are not permitted to fire warning shots with mounted weapons. They may fire warning shots with light hand held weapons and must aim away from the people they are warning
When he was shot Brian was wearing a fluorescent red vest with a reflective white cross on its back and front.
This has happened to Palestinians regularly:
Sometimes, the soldiers fire without warning. Fifteen Palestinians, twelve of them children under age 16, have been killed by soldiers enforcing the curfew. Dozens of others have been wounded. None of those killed endangered the lives of soldiers. Violation of curfew alone is not a justifiable pretext for opening fire, and firing in such circumstances constitutes excessive use of force
Saturday, April 05, 2003
Caught in the Crossfire --Sean Maguire, The Sunday Herald, filing from Central Iraq
A US Marines doctor cradles a young Iraqi girl just minutes after her mother was shot dead and her father and sister were wounded when they were caught in confused crossfire in Iraq yesterday.
The family was caught up in a battle between Iraqi soldiers and US Marines. It left a four-year-old girl, blood streaming from an eye wound, screaming for her dead mother while her father, shot in the leg, begged to be freed from the plastic wristcuffs slapped on him by marines so he could hug the girl.
Remembering how we won the last war: a public health crisis
"The electrical attacks proved extremely effective. By 0310L (H+10) CNN (Cable News Network) reported that Baghdad had completely lost commercial power. Few, if any, electrons flowed through Iraq for the remainder of the six-week war. The loss of electricity shut down the capital’s water treatment plants and led to a public health crisis from raw sewage dumped in the Tigris River. It further disrupted the commercially dependent Kari sys-tem, forcing its defenders to resort to backup generators. Fluctuating output, the air planners knew, would play hob [cause mischief] with sensitive elec-tronic equipment and computers. The loss of electricity further hampered daily government functions and literally put Iraq’s leaders “in the dark.” In the following week, Tomahawk land attack missiles and coalition aircraft re-duced every major city in Iraq to the same unhappy situation."
From "Strategic Attack: Air Force Doctrine Document 2-1.2", a 62-page PDF available at here.
The document, which describes U.S. military doctrine, talks about "Strategic Attacks", attacks that knock out key parts of an industrial base--like Germany's synthetic fuels production. But it also directly uses the example of dropping nuclear bombs on Japan as a key example of a "strategic attack". The doctrine obfuscates the difference between attacks on military infrastructure and attacks upon infrastructure supporting the civilian population. Here
, Professor Tom Nagy points out the nature of the war crimes:
"The DOD documents cited indicate that the U.S. obliterated the electrical system of Iraq as a matter of doctrine and further acknowledge that the result was the rendering useless (to use the language of Protocol l) of the water system which in turn led to epidemics and c. 100,000 deaths in the short term together with a doubling of the infant mortality rate.
No, DOD does not admit (at least in the declassified documents available) that it bombed the water treatment system directly. Rather the U.S. government *merely* rendered the water systems useless, an action specifically prohibited in Protocol Additional 1, Article 54, par. 2 of the Geneva Convention."
(Emphasis mine.) Prof. Nagy's website is here
. Note the discussion of this declassified document
showing that the U.S. military knew exactly how the Iraqi Water Treatment facilities would fall apart. This is the main cause of the 12-year health-crisis which our government perpetuated by refusing to allow replacement parts and needed chemicals into the country to repair water treatment facilities.
I think that it is clear that the second "superpower" of global public opinion has already saved lives: the American attack hasn't engaged so aggressively in this type of warfare this time around.
Maps of Iraq
The region and the country, scans from Iraqwar.ru, which has more maps here (those 2 in English, some are in Russian).
State of fighting March 26, from this guy here who might do an update. Has most towns.
From the U.S. Airforce with airfields, cities, main rivers and roads.
Lonely Planet's basic Iraq map.
One Baghdad map, and an aerial view.
Good information but annoying interface on this Guardian map.
Another funky scroller of Baghdad from Newsday.
Friday, April 04, 2003
Scott Ritter Interview
"We find ourselves... facing a nation of 23 million, with armed elements numbering around 7 million --who are concentrated at urban areas. We will not win this fight. America will loose this war," said Mr. Ritter.
Saudi Arabia now a potential target for invasion --Slate
It's official: World War IV has begun --CNN quotes ex CIA Director
I've already been calling this overall conflict World War IV (the Cold War being WWIII). Now Former CIA Director James Woolsey says the same thing. He defines the "sides" a differently from what I would, though.
Finally, mainstream press recognizes fraud-potential of Computer Voting --Wash.Post Article
Wednesday, April 02, 2003
Portuguese Journalists Beaten, Starved by Americans --Arab News Exclusive
KUWAIT CITY, 3 April 2003 — Two Western journalists have arrived safely back in Kuwait City after being arrested, beaten up and deprived of food and water in Iraq — by members of the US Army’s military police.
Arab News has learned that Luis Castro and Victor Silva, both reporters working for RTP Portuguese television, were held for four days, had their equipment, vehicle and video tapes confiscated, and were then escorted out of Iraq by the 101st Airborne Division.
Despite possessing the proper "Unilateral Journalist" accreditation issued by the Coalition Forces Central Command, both journalists were detained.
"We were put in our own car. The soldiers used our satellite phones to call their families at home. I begged them to allow me to use my own phone to call my family, but they refused. When I protested, they pushed me to the ground and kicked me in the ribs and legs."
"I believe the reason we were detained was because we are not embedded with the US forces," he continued. "Embedded journalists are always escorted by military minders. What they write is controlled and, through them, the military feeds its own version of the facts to the world. When independent journalists such as us come around, we pose a threat because they cannot control what we write."
Castro told Arab News: "A lieutenant in charge of the military police told me, 'My men are like dogs, they are trained only to attack, please try to understand'."
One soldier, who Castro asked not be identified, wrote out a note, which was shown to Arab News. The note said: "I am so sorry that you had to endure such bad conditions, but remember that I care and pray you can forgive."
"The Americans in Iraq are totally crazy and are afraid of everything that moves. I would have expected this to happen to us at the hands of the Iraqis, but not at the hands of the Americans. This is typical of the American attitude, as related to us by British forces. The attitude is 'shoot first and ask questions later'", Castro added.
Castro, a veteran journalist, has had all his tapes and equipment returned to him, but not his jeep. [FULL STORY]
America: Empire in Denial --Niall Fergusun, Chron. of Higher Education
Once there was an empire that governed roughly a quarter of the world's population, covered about the same proportion of the Earth's land surface, and dominated nearly all its oceans. The British empire was the biggest empire ever, bar none. How an archipelago of rainy islands off the northwest coast of Europe came to rule the world is one of the fundamental questions not just of British but of world history.
Why should Americans care about the history of the British empire? There are two reasons. The first is that the United States was a product of that empire -- and not just in the negative sense that it was founded in the first successful revolt against British imperial rule. America today still bears the indelible stamp of the colonial era, when, for the better part of two centuries, the majority of white settlers on the Eastern Seaboard were from the British Isles. Second, and perhaps more important, the British empire is the most commonly cited precedent for the global power currently wielded by the United States. America is the heir to the empire in both senses: offspring in the colonial era, successor today. Perhaps the most burning contemporary question of American politics is, Should the United States seek to shed or to shoulder the imperial load it has inherited? I do not believe that question can be answered without an understanding of how the British empire rose and fell; and of what it did, not just for Britain but for the world as a whole.
Beneath the Surface --Terry Neal in the Washington Post
As the mainstream media obsess over the operational details of the war in Iraq, something ominous is brewing in lands beyond that does not portend well for the United States.
There is a growing sense of outrage in the Arab and Muslim worlds about the Iraq war. Those feelings seem to belie the Bush administration's contention going into the war that all but the most radical elements in the Middle East would embrace America's effort to dislodge Saddam Hussein, and that U.S. soldiers would be viewed as liberators.
In fact, there is scary and disconcerting evidence that Hussein, despised by many Arabs for years, has morphed into a hero for the Arab resistance movement. Such developments have potentially serious ramifications. For once the fighting in Iraq has ended, the United States could be less safe than it was when the war began.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, considered a friend and ally of the United States, issued a stark warning on Monday that the war was leading to an increase in Islamic militancy: "If there is one (Osama) bin Laden now, there will be 100 bin Ladens afterward.''
Tuesday, April 01, 2003