Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Art For Boys. Posted by Hello

For You Rossi. Posted by Hello

Art For Girls. Posted by Hello

Dispatch From Down Under

----Due to technichal difficulties Christy is re-posting Rossis news finds.---

The Rendering

U.S. knowingly sending prisoners to be tortured in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan

'By Chris Floyd

In the heady months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the chickenhawks of the Bush Regime were eager to flash their tough-guy cojones to the world. Led by the former prep-school cheerleader in the Oval Office, swaggering Bushists openly bragged of "kicking ass" with macho tactics like torture and "extraordinary rendition."


Global sheriff is slowly gaining on the US and its cavalier way with the law

Simon Tisdall

In the opinion of many legal experts, the US government broke international law when it waged war on Iraq without explicit UN backing. Unrepentant, it has reserved the right to take similar action again, unilaterally if need be. But another key pillar of global jurisprudence - laws concerning individual liberty, dignity and human rights - is proving harder for Washington to ignore: like a sheriff with a posse of deputies, international law is slowly catching up with the Bush administration.


Further Evidence of Brutal U.S. Army Abuses :

The latest chapter in the torture and abuse of detainees held in U.S. custody includes a report of a formal agreement between the Army and the CIA to hide "ghost detainees" and an atmosphere of "releaseaphobia" that prevented innocent detainees from being freed.


Pentagon gets out the whitewash: Pentagon not to blame for abuseThe report resisted faulting senior military and civilian commanders for the abuse, although it acknowledges they failed to take swift action when torture allegations first came to light.



Iraq allies accused of failing to investigate civilian deaths :

Experts in public health from six countries, including the UK, today castigate the British and American governments for failing to investigate the deaths of civilians caught up in the conflict in Iraq.


U.S. soldiers abused Afghan prisoners till death

3/12/2005 6:45:00 PM

A report in the New York Times Saturday details how two Afghan prisoners held in U.S. custody died after being chained up, kicked and beaten by American soldiers.



Iraqs clerics call for calm after Mosul attack

3/11/2005 10:30:00 PM

Iraq's Sunni and Shi'ia clerics have called for calm Friday, one day after an attack killed 50 people in the city of Mosul.



UK went to Iraq war on one page of legal advice

3/11/2005 3:00:00 PM

The UK went to war in Iraq on the basis of a brief, nine-paragraph summary of advice on the legality of the invasion, Britain’s top civil servant said. http://www.aljazeera.com/cgi-bin/news_service/middle_east_full_story.asp?service_id=7441


Bush Picks Adviser to Repair Tarnished U.S. Image Abroad

By ELISABETH BUMILLER Published: March 12, 2005

WASHINGTON, March 11 - President Bush will nominate one of his closest confidantes, Karen P. Hughes, to lead an effort at the State Department to repair the image of the United States overseas, particularly in the Arab world, administration officials said Friday.



Jacko's freak week 13 March 2005 WHAT a week at Michael Jackson's trial.


What a Travesty the cable and media are when this is world news no 1 story in America


Rape trial bloodbath

13 March 2005

A MAN on trial for rape grabbed a deputy's gun and opened fire inside a US courthouse, killing a judge and two other people before escaping and triggering a manhunt across several states.



We Beat Prisoners to Death, Says U.S. Army


Forged News Reports



Bush confidante gets high-level State postFormer TV reporter and Bush spokeswoman will be named to State

Dept. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/mld/sanluisobispo/news/politics/11114594.html
Go to Original

A Case Study in Postwar Chaos
By T. Christian Miller
The Los Angeles Times

Saturday 12 March 2005

The dealings of coalition officials in Iraq and a contractor now accused of fraud illustrate what went wrong in early rebuilding efforts.
Washington - Mike Battles needed money fast. It was June 2003 and his cash-starved company had just won a contract to guard the Baghdad airport.

Battles turned to a lender that had lots of cash and few questions about how it would be spent: the U.S.-led coalition in charge of Iraq.

As Battles later told criminal investigators, he descended into a vault in the basement of one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces, where a U.S. government employee handed him $2 million in $100 bills and a handwritten receipt.

Battles "was informed that the contracting process would catch up" later to account for the money, according to a statement he gave investigators.

By the time it did, the adventures of his fledgling security company, Custer Battles, had become a case study in what had gone wrong in the early days of the U.S. effort to rebuild Iraq, not least the haphazard and often ineffective U.S. oversight of the projects.

Today, Battles and his partner, Scott Custer, are facing a criminal investigation, lawsuits by former employees and a federal order suspending them from new government business because of allegations of fraud.

Neither Custer nor Battles responded to requests for interviews made through their attorney. However, in court records and interviews with criminal investigators, the two men have denied any wrongdoing.

They have blamed the accusations on disgruntled employees who were fired; on former employees who now compete with Custer Battles for security work in Iraq; and on government officials who harbor grudges against the company.

Court records, internal company memos, interviews with current and former employees and government investigators, and confidential documents from a Pentagon criminal investigation reviewed by The Times depict a company that ran into trouble almost from the moment it hit the ground in Iraq.

Company employees allegedly forged invoices, clashed with government officials and tried to dodge taxes. The company is accused of missing deadlines, providing shoddy equipment, failing to deliver services and botching routine security inspections, the records and interviews show.

Along the way, two of its guards allegedly moved to attack some Iraqi teenagers. And U.S. officials were startled to discover that Custer Battles was also operating a dog kennel and a catering service on airport grounds, according to interviews.

Just as worrisome as the allegations, perhaps, has been the U.S. government's response.

Beginning shortly after Custer Battles won its Baghdad airport contract, at least five senior U.S. government officials or consultants came to suspect wrongdoing by the firm or its employees, records show. Yet over the next 14 months, the company continued to win new government business, and even today holds a key contract in the U.S. program to equip and arm Iraq's new security forces.

Not until September 2004, when the U.S. Air Force acted to prevent the company from receiving any new federal contracts, did Custer Battles' explosive growth slow.

In most cases, high turnover and enormous workloads among government officials prevented them from taking action against a company that repeatedly deflected attempts to examine its operations, the records and interviews show. It was a messy situation easily exploited.

"They were the only constant in a sea of change," said Frank Willis, who oversaw civil aviation during a six-month stint working for the now-defunct Coalition Provisional Authority, which administered Iraq. "That's called playing the chaos, and they were masters at it."

Army Col. Richard Ballard, then inspector general for the U.S.-led forces that invaded Iraq, said he lacked the staff to focus on Custer Battles in the face of other problems such as the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

"In an environment where an organization is undermanned, overworked and struggling just to let contracts … there are few checks and balances," said Ballard, who is now retired. "That environment characterized the contracting process in Iraq during the second half of 2003, and probably still does today."

A series of government audits of the Iraq reconstruction process has confirmed lax oversight and identified billions of unaccounted-for dollars.

In an interview, the firm's attorney said the company may have made mistakes in paperwork but denied that Custer and Battles had defrauded the government. The attorney, John Boese, said the two men had fulfilled all contract terms in the midst of a war zone.

"The rules were nightmarish. They didn't really exist. Radar O'Reilly from 'MASH' would clearly go to jail under these rules," said Boese, referring to the television character who was famous for maneuvering through military bureaucracy.

At first glance, Custer Battles seemed an unlikely candidate to win work on critical missions.

Before Iraq, Custer Battles had never landed a government contract. The 2-year-old firm booked less than $200,000 in revenue before the war, providing private security services in Afghanistan, its lawyers said.

The company's two founders were brash, energetic and inexperienced. Custer was a former Army Ranger. Battles was an ex-CIA agent who had made an unsuccessful run for Congress in 2002 as a Rhode Island Republican.

But within six months of landing the airport deal, Custer Battles had taken in $32 million in revenue from its contracts, records show. The two men built a headquarters, complete with swimming pool, at the airport.

The company won the $16.8-million contract to protect the airport despite never having guarded a site. It beat two more-experienced firms, according to interviews and records, by promising to start work sooner than anybody else, a key criterion in Iraq's post-invasion mayhem.

Coalition officials initially expected Custer Battles to perform routine security. Instead, the airport quickly became an insurgent target and the firm was suddenly guarding a fortified facility and surrounding grounds.

Such rapidly changing missions became a common difficulty in Iraq. Coalition officials frequently altered contract terms, ordering up million-dollar changes with a handwritten scrawl or spoken order.

Some contractors resisted such haphazard changes, delaying the reconstruction process. Others, like Custer Battles, rolled with the new demands, tallying charges with little paper trail to account for them.

First to raise concern was Ballard, who found that Custer Battles employees lacked training and equipment. In 20 on-site inspections, Ballard said, he watched guards wave trucks through without inspecting them. He said he never saw Custer Battles use dog teams, as the firm had promised, to screen incoming vehicles.

Ballard said he also witnessed two company security guards in black fatigues conducting what he termed an unauthorized mission, firing an automatic weapon into the air, in an attempt to stop young Iraqis suspected of firing rounds near an airport checkpoint. He halted the incipient attack.

Ballard said his attempt to investigate the firm was blocked by Custer, who disputed his authority despite a written order from U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top military official in Iraq. Ballard recommended that the coalition terminate the contract. But he became distracted by the scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison, he said, and took no formal action before leaving Iraq.

"I concluded that they were intentionally attempting to defraud the government," he said.

Willis, a retired senior official at the U.S. Department of Transportation who oversaw the civilian side of the Baghdad airport, clashed with Custer Battles repeatedly.

Without seeking permission, the company opened a dog kennel at the airport, offering bomb-sniffing dogs to other clients, Willis said. It also began mysteriously bringing in Filipino workers, apparently to work on catering contracts. On one visit to Custer Battles headquarters, Willis found 40 Filipinos living in cramped quarters.

Willis demanded that Custer justify use of the airport to expand his business. He said Custer rebuffed him. Willis left Iraq after six months of service, and again no formal action was taken.

Custer Battles continued to guard the airport until June 2004. Although the government did not extend the contract, the firm won high praise from Douglas Gould, the fourth coalition official in a year to oversee the airport.

A U.S. official said Gould, who took over last spring, was aware of "rumors" about problems with Custer Battles. But nobody passed on word that the Pentagon had opened a criminal investigation of a money-exchange contract in October 2003.

"Nothing was raised as a red flag," the U.S. official said.


Soon after Custer Battles won the airport deal, it landed a second job: a $9.8-million contract to build housing for workers in a project to exchange Iraq's old currency for newly minted dinars. That contract would grow to be worth as much as $21.4 million.

The coalition team heading the project soon grew frustrated with Custer Battles. The company had missed deadlines to set up the camps. Its trucks frequently broke down. Subcontractors complained to coalition officials of not being paid, according to a memo from a government consultant obtained by The Times.

Then the consultant found a spreadsheet that appeared to show that the firm was artificially boosting profit, according to a memo from the consultant. The spreadsheet indicated that the company had invoiced the government $2.1 million for $913,000 worth of work.

Despite the Pentagon investigation, coalition officials approved an additional $5.6 million in contract changes, saying they would recoup any money paid out on fraudulent invoices later, records show.

"Termination of work by Custer Battles … would have a disastrous impact on the success of the currency exchange program," Al Runnels, then the chief financial officer for the Coalition Provisional Authority, wrote in a memo in November 2003.

As the criminal investigation progressed, two Custer Battles insiders came forward and described a complex scheme to defraud the government.

The insiders told investigators that the company had set up shell companies in the Cayman Islands to create fake invoices. They said Custer Battles submitted the invoices to the government to be reimbursed for work done by the offshore companies without disclosing that it owned them.

The subsidiaries' invoices were padded with a markup that led to profits of as much as 130%, versus the 25% limit the contract imposed, the whistle-blowers told investigators.

The two whistle-blowers, William "Pete" Baldwin and Robert Isakson, confirmed their account in interviews with The Times. Both men worked for Custer Battles and left under acrimonious circumstances. They have filed a civil lawsuit under the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the government. If successful, the men are entitled to a portion of the money returned to the government.

(A firm run by Isakson has since been sued by the U.S. Agency for International Development alleging fraud. The suit claims that the firm, DRC Inc., illicitly profited from a contract for construction work in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch in 1999. Isakson has denied wrongdoing.)

Pentagon auditors tried to take a look at the company's books on the money-exchange contract in February 2004. But Custer Battles was able to block inquiries from the Defense Contract Audit Agency because there was no provision in the contract for an audit, according to the Pentagon.

The investigative trail was further obscured by ambiguity in the contract. In denying illegal behavior, lawyers for Custer Battles argued that the company was to be paid a fixed price, which meant there would be no incentive to inflate its costs. But some contract documents reviewed by The Times contradict this interpretation.

The attorneys for Custer Battles said the fraud allegations were ludicrous because the company had lost money on the contract. Company records submitted by the firm say that the company received about $9 million from the government and spent more than $14 million. The attorneys also said the Cayman Island firms were legitimate businesses.

"This is not about not delivering," Boese said. "These are questions about accounting and contract interpretation."

Finally, in September, the Air Force issued what's known in the business as a "death sentence," forbidding any U.S. agency to issue contracts to Custer Battles or a long list of affiliated companies and people. It can, however, fulfill its existing contracts.

The Justice Department continues a criminal investigation of the company, and the whistle-blower case is proceeding slowly through the courts.

The case raises questions about the U.S. government's performance in an area as important as the reconstruction of Iraq.

"We went to Iraq to show them how a nation of laws works," said Patrick Burns, a spokesman for Taxpayers Against Fraud, which monitors fraud and has closely followed the Custer Battles case.

"Instead, we're teaching them how to get away with fraud."



Iran,s Nuclear Programme Posted by Hello
Nuking the spin: Former UN weapons inspector talks to Raw Story on Iran, Iraq
Filed under: General— site admin @ 3:39 pm

Exclusive: Raw Story chats with Scott Ritter


Iraqi police in the southern town of Hilla, where a huge bomb killed 125 people last week.
 Posted by Hello
Iraq's thin (and blurred) blue line

What an increasingly angry and combative Iraqi police force is up against.

By David Enders
Photo: AFP

March 9, 2005

The bombing in Hilla last week that killed more people than any other insurgent attack in Iraq so far underscores what the police and army are up against. The bomber somehow managed to slip the security guards and get inside government-owned compound where new police and army recruits were waiting to take physicals, which led the police to suspect their own. "The real problem is those officers who let the bomber get inside," said Col. Adnan Al-Jabouri, a ministry of interior spokesman.

Jabouri's office is full of Photoshopped posters promoting the police as a force for good in the "new Iraq." My personal favorite is the burly officer carrying two children, one under each arm, away from a carbombing, the flames rising in the background. But I've come to Jabouri's office to ask about something the police would prefer to sweep under the rug: that the same torture methods they employed before the fall of Saddam Hussein continue unchecked.

"We can't let you write about that," Jabouri replies.

I first met Jabouri more than a year ago, and since then have learned how to deal with him. Hiba (the translator I work with) has become used to these moments, and more often than not we manage to work it out by playing the flattery card.

"Every police force in the world has these problems. I want to write about how the Iraqi police force is doing good by getting rid of the officers in its ranks that are dishonest and use torture."

Grudgingly, Col. Adnan refers me upstairs to the Internal Affairs department. IA is on the 10th floor, and Shakar Odai, the head of the department, has a sweeping view of north Baghdad — the football stadium, the refugee camp on the ministry grounds, the symphony hall that looks, strangely enough, rather like a skateboard ramp; and, best of all, the Martyr's Monument, a big split dome that is one of the most impressive pieces of public architecture I've ever seen. It's the Iraqi equivalent of the Vietnam Memorial -- so it's good that the US stopped using it as a military base, although it was quite a site a while back when there were humvees parked in front of the wall containing the names of the dead. I remark on the view, trying to locate the house I used to live in. From here Baghdad looks like a model railroad city, almost peaceful. "It's nice," he says. "Except when the bombs go off."

"More than 98" percent of the police officers (a force known alike for its use of torture and its widespread corruption) returned to work after the war, he said, and added that the police force has been greatly expanded as well. Some of the officers definitely sympathize with the resistance, he says. As he speaks, a bomb goes off outside, rattling the windows. Odai doesn't even turn around to look. "That happens sometimes fifteen times a day," he sighs before continuing. "Before the war, we had six months to do background checks on any police officer we hired," he said. "After the war, the Americans just began appointing officers."

Before he refers me to the seventh floor, where the MOI's human rights department is located, he offers me a piece of wardrobe advice, specifically in regard to the power-blue Oxford I'm wearing, the same color the police wear. "You should change your shirt. Someone might try to assassinate you."

Down on the seventh floor, we find a group of men in the human rights office having tea. There is no computer in the office and the lawyers and investigators complain the ministry has not provided them with cars. Human rights complaints, they say, ranging from wrongful arrest to police involvement with crime to torture, have resulted in 10 dismissals so far. "Police are not coming to us with information," the head of the office says, declining to use his name. He adds that they also rely on civilians to bring them information. "We are here, but no one comes to see us," he says.

Hiba and I laugh about that one as we make our way out of the ministry, which is housed in a nearly impregnable compound. Outside the fence, dozens of Iraqis vie for an audience with various officials. Most are turned away.

We make our way across town to the Ministry of Human rights, hoping to find out more. "There is torture going on, even in prisons run by the Ministry of Interior," says Saad Sultan, one of the top lawyers at the ministry. "We are not allowed to monitor the interrogations. It's the way it was before the war.

"The training courses [for police] are brief. They only train them for a few days because of the security situation," Sultan said. "They replaced human rights training with self-defense."

The US military, as well as Defense Department contractors, are responsible for much of the training. Nonetheless, Sultan shoots for a silver lining. "But at least now we have laws forbidding torture," he says. "I think it is an individual problem, and not the orders of the government."

To be fair, consider for a moment what the police are up against. The conflict has become a personal one for them — they lost at least 1300 officers to insurgent attacks in 2004 and will likely lose more this year. Rarely do I have an audience with any officer who doesn't urge me to write about "the way the terrorists are cutting the heads off police officers."

A visit to any police station finds an increasingly angry and combative force. At the Amariyah station, which deals with the most serious crimes in Baghdad, police complain that the US military takes some of their top suspects out of their custody and occasionally releases them. A MOI source told me some US military units do indeed to this in hopes release will lead them to bigger figures within the resistance. But it is an extremely disappointing practice for police.

"We have no authority," one of the officers at the Amariyah station says before hanging up, unwilling to speak any longer. The US military has just picked up Sabah Al-Baldawi from Iraqi custody, a man the police have been following for a long time. "This happens all the time."

What do you think?

David Enders is a 24-year-old freelance journalist who has spent more than a year reporting from Iraq since the end of the invasion. His first book, Baghdad Bulletin: Dispatches on the American Occupation, will be released by the University of Michigan Press in April.


This country has been liberated, I dont think so, America and the coalition does what it wants, America controls Iraq. Shame Shame Shame

Yup I knew it! Posted by Hello

HAWHAWHAWHAW Posted by Hello

Friday, March 11, 2005

Democracy Now!

Publisher Says Bush Told Him in May 2000 He Planned to "Take Out" Iraq

Osama Siblani, publisher of "The Arab American" newspaper, says George W Bush told him in May 2000 - before he was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate - that he is going to "take out" Iraq and Saddam Hussein.


Excerpt of rush transcript:

OSAMA SIBLANI: I met with the President, and he wanted to go to Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction, and he considered the regime an imminent and gathering threat against the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: You met with the President of the United States?

OSAMA SIBLANI: Yes, when he was running for election in May of 2000 when he was a governor. He told me just straight to my face, among 12 or maybe 13 republicans at that time here in Michigan at the hotel. I think it was on May 17, 2000, even before he became the nominee for the Republicans. He told me that he was going to take him out, when we talked about Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

And I said, ‘Well, you know, I totally disagree with you. You just can’t go around taking leaders out of their countries, you know. Let the Iraqi people do it. They can't do it on empty stomachs. Lift sanctions. Keep the pressure on Saddam Hussein, but lift the sanctions on the Iraqi people. People can't make moves on an empty stomach. Once they start establishing, you know, a connection with the United States and helping democracy inside, they will overthrow him.’

And then he said, ‘We have to talk about it later.’ But at that time he was not privy to any intelligence, and the democrats had occupied the White House for the previous eight years. So, he was not privy to any intelligence whatsoever. He was not the official nominee of the Republican Party, so he didn't know what kind of situation the weapons of mass destruction was at that time.

This is something we never knew, Big surprise I dont think so, he always planned it

Art For Boys. Posted by Hello

Art For Girls...Relinked by Request. Posted by Hello

Damn ! Did I take that blue dress to the cleaners...?! Posted by Hello

Bill; when not having phone sex.

Okay, it’s over. We’re done.

Bill O’Reilly:

"So look, I’m declarin’ war on the ACLU. I think they’re a terrorist group."

This comes from a rant that he was giving about how “every single thing the United States government tries to do to protect us against terrorism, these people [the ACLU] oppose and they’ll sue.” He then jumps to the conclusion above. I don’t think that O’Reilly actually believes that, I think he just wanted to send some sparks flying.

But just the same, this asshole has now put the idea out into the mainstream that civil liberties are terrorism.

Well, okay, Media Matters tells us that this isn’t exaclty the first time O’Reilly has said such things.

“I have to pick on the ACLU because they’re the most dangerous organization in the United States of America right now. There’s by far. There’s nobody even close to that. They’re, like, second next to Al Qaeda.”
Hitler would be a card-carrying ACLU member. So would Stalin.”

After reading those, I’m going to be picking up chunks of my brain off the floor for weeks. The most dangerous organization? So many other candidates come to mind, the LAPD, Wal-Mart, the IMF, Phillip-Morris, Monsanto, DuPont, the Aryan Nations, Congress… And why two totalitarians would want to join a pro-civil liberties group is beyond me. Maybe they have that “fear of success” I’m always hearing about.

In conclusion, Bill O’Reilly is high on goofballs, and is a fucking dick. Thank you and goodnight.


---Bill is a terrorist...And should be regarded as the enemy... HAHAHAHA...Damn this country has gotten wierd.!!---
Chavez seeks Iran economic ties

The presidents of two leading oil producing nations, Venezuela and Iran, are due to meet to discuss closer economic co-operation.
Hugo Chavez and Mohammad Khatami are expected to sign a number of energy deals during President Khatami's three-day visit to Caracas.

Both countries have strained relations with Washington.

Iran denies US charges of seeking nuclear weapons, while the US has called Mr Chavez a "negative force".

Last month, Mr Chavez, a close ally of Cuban President Fidel Castro, accused the US of trying to kill him - a charge dismissed by the state department in Washington as "ridiculous and untrue".

Mr Khatami's visit will be his third to Venezuela. Mr Chavez visited his Iranian counterpart in Tehran in November last year.

Venezuela is one of the leading suppliers of petroleum to the US, but recently it has been seeking alternative energy partners such as Russia, China and India.


Chávez: "Washington has done all it can to topple my government"

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Wednesday said during his visit to France that the US administration has done everything it can to overthrow his government.

In a press conference in Paris, Chávez reminded the audience "how the Bush administration plotted and staged a coup against Venezuela and my government".

The Venezuelan President said he was sure the US had plans to kill him. "If we claim the US administration is plotting against me is because we are sure of what we are saying. We are accusing the US, and this is an alert to the world."

Taiwan issue could lead to war, says China
By John Kerin

CHINA is demanding that the Howard Government review its 50-year-old military pact with the US, warning that the ANZUS alliance could threaten regional stability if Australia were drawn into Sino-US conflict over Taiwan.

Under the ANZUS alliance, Australia is obliged to support the US should China resort to force to resolve its long-running dispute with Taiwan.

But a top Chinese official - Beijing's director-general of North American and Oceanian Affairs, He Yafei - told The Australian that Australia and the US needed to be careful not to invoke the ANZUS alliance against China.

"We all know Taiwan is part of China, and we do not want to see in any way the Taiwan issue become one of the elements that will be taken up by bilateral military alliances, be it Australia-US or Japan-US," he said.

"If there were any move by Australia and the US in terms of that alliance (ANZUS) that is detrimental to peace and stability in Asia, then it (Australia) has to be very careful."

Asked if he were referring to Taiwan, Mr He said "especially so". "It (Taiwan) is our internal affair."

But a spokesman for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said last night that Australia had no plans to alter any of its commitments. "Neither Australia nor the US have any plans to amend the ANZUS alliance," he said.

But Mr Downer hinted at a policy shift on Taiwan in Beijing last year, when he suggested Australia might not have to go to Taiwan's aid under the terms of ANZUS because a flare-up might not constitute a direct attack on US interests.

He was quickly corrected by Prime Minister John Howard, but the Downer comments raised expectations in Beijing that Australia now considers its more than $20 billion-a-year trade relationship with China as too important to sacrifice over Taiwan.

Australian National University Strategic and Defence Studies Centre board chairman Paul Dibb said the warning from Beijing was simply another sign of China's "growing economic strength and predominance in the Asia-Pacific".

"China is gaining confidence and this suggests it wants to throw its weight around a bit," he said yesterday.

But China's objection could not change Australia's policy, which was to make a decision at the time if it came to a conflict in the Taiwan Strait.

"There's little doubt the US would expect Australian support in the event of naked aggression against Taiwan by China," Professor Dibb said.

"If the Taiwanese provoke an attack, then that might be different."

Lowy Institute security analyst Alan Dupont said he could not recall a Chinese official referring directly to the ANZUS alliance.

"It's a reminder that our relationship with China is rather fragile, and that intervention in Taiwan could have negative consequences for our political and economic relationship," he said.

Dr Dupont said there was also concern in Beijing about how trilateral security talks between Australia, the US and Japan might develop in relation to Taiwan.

A Taiwan government spokesman told The Australian that China had no right to attempt to influence the policies of other nations towards Taipei.

"Those countries have taken a position on Taiwan they believe is in the best interests of stability and security in the region," he said.

The comments come after Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told Tokyo and Washington on Sunday to drop Taiwan from their joint security pact.

He was commenting after Tokyo and Washington named Taiwan as an issue of "strategic" concern during defence talks in Washington.


American troops are being taught to recognise that the Union Jack means British troops in an attempt to stop them firing on allied vehicles following thirty two 'blue on blue' attacks in the past year (GILES PENFOUND / CROWN COPYRIGHT / GETTY IMAGES)

US troops get training to avoid friendly-fire attacks on British
By Laura Peek and Michael Evans, Defence Editor

AMERICAN soldiers in Iraq are being given “anti-fratricide” training to reduce the number of friendly fire attacks against British and other coalition troops, The Times has learnt.
Thirty-two “blue-on-blue” attacks on British and other coalition vehicles have been logged in the past twelve months in southern Iraq, Britain’s area of responsibility.

The training was revealed as Washington and Rome announced a joint inquiry into the killing last week of an Italian secret agent when US troops opened fire on the car in which he was accompanying a freed hostage to Baghdad airport.

The inquiry was announced by General George Casey, commander of multinational forces in Iraq, after Gianfranco Fini, the Italian Foreign Minister, had highlighted differences between the American and Italian versions of the incident.

Nicola Calipari, an experienced hostage negotiator, was killed as he protected Giuliana Sgrena, a journalist, who had been held for a month.

On the same day, a 30-year-old Bulgarian machinegunner was shot and killed in a second friendly fire incident, for which US forces were also blamed.

The vast majority of the 32 reported incidents involved American troops opening fire at night-time against suspected insurgents who turned out to be friendly forces, on or near the main route through southern Iraq used by US convoys.

Military officials in Basra, where the British-controlled Multinational Division (Southeast) is based, said that the “vehicle blue-on-blue incidents” in the period from February last year had resulted in ten minor injuries. “There have been no fatalities,” one said.

The officials declined to spell out the injuries received or whether they were all British soldiers, but they confirmed that most of the “firing nationalities” were American. A small number of incidents involved Romanian and Bulgarian troops opening fire.

US commanders were so worried that their men were shooting at the British because they failed to recognise the Union Jack or other distinguishing military markings that, in an unprecedented move, they asked the British Army to supply vehicles, men and flags to teach their soldiers what their allies looked like.

It is understood that the British supplied several “snatch” armoured Land Rovers, the most common vehicle used by British troops on patrol and senior non-commissioned officers, with Union Jacks, to instruct the Americans.

This was in addition to a detailed presentation already provided by the British for all incoming US troops, which outlines what a British soldier looks like, what type of vehicle he drives and what other coalition troops in southern Iraq drive around in.

When asked by The Times about the special anti-fratricide training, which was requested in January, a spokesman for US Army Forces Command at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia, said: “It is understandable we are doing this. We all want to reduce the number of friendly fire incidents. Checkpoints are very dangerous places. It has come into the headlines with the Italian and Bulgarian, but there are more incidents that do not get publicity and probably do not end so badly.”

British troops have been given warning against approaching American convoys because of the risk of being shot at. They are ordered to slow down to a snail’s pace as they pull alongside a convoy. They are told to display the Union Jack and shout that they are British. “The problem is that most of these incidents happen in the dark,” a military source said.

A British officer in Basra said: “The Americans can be pretty pumped-up. Sometimes they fire in broad daylight when we are travelling at two miles per hour, shouting that we are British out of the window and waving the Union Jack. If they shoot, our drill is to slam on the brakes and race in the opposite direction.”



This Is BULLSHIT..See Following Story... Posted by Hello

Holy God Forgive Us.

Prisoners at Abu Ghraib Said Included Kids


WASHINGTON (AP) - A boy no older than 11 was among the children held by the Army at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, the former U.S. commander of the facility told a general investigating abuses at the prison. Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski did not say what happened to the boy or why he was imprisoned, according to a transcript of her interview with Maj. Gen. George Fay that was released by the American Civil Liberties Union. The transcript of the May 2004 interview was among hundreds of pages of documents about Iraq prisoner abuses the group made public Thursday after getting them under the Freedom of Information Act. Karpinski, who was in charge of Abu Ghraib from July to November 2003, said she often visited the prison's youngest inmates. One boy ``looked like he was 8-years-old,'' Karpinski said.

``He told me he was almost 12,'' Karpinski said. ``He told me his brother was there with him, but he really wanted to see his mother, could he please call his mother. He was crying.''

Military officials have acknowledged that some juvenile prisoners had been held at Abu Ghraib, a massive prison built by Saddam Hussein's government outside Baghdad. But the transcript is the first documented evidence of a child no older than 11 being held prisoner.

Military officials have said that no juvenile prisoners were subject to the abuses captured in photographs from Abu Ghraib. But some of the men shown being stripped naked and humiliated had been accused of raping a 14-year-old prisoner.

The new documents offer rare details about the children whom the U.S. military has held in Iraq. Karpinski said the Army began holding women and children in a high-security cellblock at Abu Ghraib in the summer of 2003 because the facility was better than lockups in Baghdad where the youths had been held.

The documents include statements from six witnesses who said three interrogators and a civilian interpreter at Abu Ghraib got drunk one night and took a 17-year-old female prisoner from her cell. The four men forced the girl to expose her breasts and kissed her, the reports said. The witnesses - whose names were blacked out of the documents given to the ACLU - said those responsible were not punished.

Another soldier said in January 2004 that troops poured water and smeared mud on the detained 17-year-old son of an Iraqi general and ``broke'' the general by letting him watch his son shiver in the cold.

On another subject, Karpinski said she had seen written orders to hold a prisoner that the CIA had captured without keeping records. The documents released by the ACLU quote an unnamed Army officer at Abu Ghraib as saying military intelligence officers and the CIA worked out a written agreement on how to handle unreported detainees. An Army report issued last September said investigators could not find any copies of any such written agreement.

The Pentagon has acknowledged holding up to 100 ``ghost detainees,'' keeping the prisoners off the books and away from humanitarian investigators of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he authorized it because the prisoners were ``enemy combatants'' not entitled to prisoner of war protections.

The ACLU has sued Rumsfeld on behalf of four Iraqis and four Afghans who say they were tortured at U.S. military facilities. Rumsfeld and his spokesmen have repeatedly said that the defense secretary and his aides never authorized or condoned any abuses.

Six enlisted soldiers have pleaded guilty to military charges for their roles in abuses at Abu Ghraib, and Pvt. Charles Graner Jr. was convicted at a court-martial this year and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Karpinski, one of the few generals to be criticized in Army detainee reports for poor leadership, quoted several senior generals in Iraq as making callous statements about prisoners.

Karpinski said Maj. Gen. Walter Wodjakowski, then the No. 2 Army general in Iraq, told her in the summer of 2003 not to release more prisoners, even if they were innocent.

``I don't care if we're holding 15,000 innocent civilians. We're winning the war,'' Karpinski said Wodjakowski told her.

She said she replied: ``Not inside the wire, you're not, sir.''

On the Net:
American Civil Liberties Union: http://www.aclu.org


---My God what have we become?---

A man grieves at the blast site after a suicide bomber blew himself up during a funeral in the courtyard of a mosque.
 Posted by Hello
Suicide bomber kills 46 at funeral

Forty-six people were killed in today's suicide attack on a Shi'ite funeral in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, Iraqi health officials said.

Officials from two main hospitals where casualties had been taken in the city said the toll had reached 46.

Earlier, police said 30 people had been killed and about 100 wounded in the bombing.

Witnesses said the casualties were from various sections of Iraqi society, who had been at the funeral to express their condolences.

Mainly Sunni Arab insurgents have staged increasingly audacious attacks on Shi'ite and official targets in their relentless campaign to topple a US-backed government and stall efforts by the Shi'ite majority to form a new cabinet.

In Baghdad, insurgents posing as policemen killed a police chief, stopping his truck at a fake checkpoint, asking his name then shooting him in an attack claimed by al-Qaeda followers.

Later police found the bodies of four Iraqi soldiers shot dead and dumped by insurgents in western Iraq, adding to two grim discoveries of 41 bodies -- some shot and others beheaded -- in the country's Sunni heartland earlier this week

Forty-six people were killed in today's suicide attack on a Shi'ite funeral in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, Iraqi health officials said.

Officials from two main hospitals where casualties had been taken in the city said the toll had reached 46.

Earlier, police said 30 people had been killed and about 100 wounded in the bombing.

Witnesses said the casualties were from various sections of Iraqi society, who had been at the funeral to express their condolences.

Mainly Sunni Arab insurgents have staged increasingly audacious attacks on Shi'ite and official targets in their relentless campaign to topple a US-backed government and stall efforts by the Shi'ite majority to form a new cabinet.

In Baghdad, insurgents posing as policemen killed a police chief, stopping his truck at a fake checkpoint, asking his name then shooting him in an attack claimed by al-Qaeda followers.

Later police found the bodies of four Iraqi soldiers shot dead and dumped by insurgents in western Iraq, adding to two grim discoveries of 41 bodies -- some shot and others beheaded -- in the country's Sunni heartland earlier this week


How the hell do we win this war, when will it ever be over

For us or the Iraqi people

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Children in the war zone, our soldiers are also in that war zone for how many more years to come Posted by Hello
After the War Comes Cancer

Information collected for a German project investigating the use of uranium-charged ammunition in Iraq shows that when Iraqi women fear for their children's health, it is with good reason.

After two wars where oil wells were torched, chemical factories bombed and radioactive ammunition fired, the first thing Iraqi women ask when giving birth is not if it is a boy or a girl, but if it is normal or deformed. The number of cancer cases and children born with deformities has skyrocketed after the two Gulf Wars.

"Since 1991 the number of children born with birth deformities has quadrupled," said Dr. Janan Hassan, who runs a children's clinic at a hospital in Basra in southern Iraq. "The same is the case for the number of children under 15 who are diagnosed with cancer. Mostly, it is leukemia. Almost 80 percent of the children die because we neither have medicine nor the possibility to give them chemotherapy."

Doctors have also recorded an extreme rise in cancer cases among adults. "In 2004 we diagnosed 25 percent more cancer cases than the year before and the mortality rate increased eight-fold between 1988 and 1991," said Dr. Jawad al-Ali of the Sadr Hospital in Basra.

Doctors against nuclear war

Hassan and al-Ali are two of 15 Iraqi specialists who have joined forces with German scientists in a project to research diseases provoked by acts of war, financed by the German Academic Exchange Service

In Iraq, burning oil wells, bombed chemical factories, demolished production sites for chemical weapons and even the use of radioactive ammunition are just a few of the things which may have triggered diseases there.

"As epidemiologists, we are quite sure that other diseases than cancer and birth deformities also have to be considered," said project leader Wolfgang Hoffmann from the University of Greifswald.

The scientists involved in the project met through the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). All have a special interest in the consequences of using depleted-uranium (DU) ammunition, the German project's main focus.

British and American uranium bombs

In the two US-led wars on Iraq, missile warheads containing the depleted uranium-238 were used. While it is only lightly radioactive, it is an extremely tough waste-product to contain because the uranium pulverizes and contaminates the whole surrounding area with radioactivity at the moment of the explosion.

"Naturally, the nations leading the war refuse to acknowldege that this type of uranium can be harmful. But as an epidemiologist, I have to say that every bit of radiation can give rise to cancer. It's just a question if what was fired in this case led to an increase in the number of cancer cases," said Professor Eberhard Greiser from the University of Bremen.

As with many of the questions arising from the project so far, there is no definite answer. But al-Ali tried to give a partial answer.

"In Basra in 1991, the Americans and the British dropped at least 300 tons of this kind of ammunition in one battle. That was the battle where they destroyed all the tanks of the then Republican Army. After the war, the population was urged to gather all weapons and sell them to the government. Also if people had guns or bazookas or whatever they found in the desert, they were told to bring it with them," he said

According to al-Ali's calculations, approximately 750,000 people in Basra and the surrounding areas were exposed to radiation as a result.

Finding the evidence

The doctors say the connection between the contamination of hundred of thousands of people on one side and the rising number of cancer cases on the other is beyond doubt, but proving it is not easy.

"To prove it, we would have to demonstrate that there was uranium 238 on the patients' clothes or in their body fluid. And besides, cancer is a multi-causal disease. How would we be able to give 100 percent proof?" al-Ali asked.

Despite the resigned attitudes among many of her colleagues, Hassan firmly believes that the radioactive missiles used by the Americans and the British are responsible for the increased incidence of cancer in Iraq since the early 1990s. She hopes a future independent Iraqi government will seek compensation from Washington and London. "We have to demand it. That is the price of the war," she said.


This is what we have been made complicit to by the Leader of the Free World and his Administration, Pictures they dont allow us to see



This is what the Leader of the free World has made us complicit to.10/4/2004 A man lays an unborn baby wrapped in white cloth on the body of its dead mother in a coffin placed next to her dead husband Thamer, early 04 October following a raid by the US military on Fallujah, a Sunni Muslim stronghold 50 kms west of Baghdad. Nine people, including women and children, were killed in two pre-dawn raids by US planes on suspected rebel targets according to a local hospital. A military statement said US forces "conducted a precision strike against a building where approximately 25 anti-Iraqi forces network members were moving weapons on the outskirts of Fallujah." (Fares Dlimi/AFP/Getty Images)
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Returning US marines prepare for the battle to retain sanity
By Oliver Poole at Camp Fallujah
(Filed: 08/03/2005)

It is time to go home for the US marines who stormed Fallujah last year, killing more than 2,000 insurgents in house-to-house fighting that reduced stretches of the city to rubble.

Kit bags are being packed and boxes freighted back to America as the troops count down the days to the 20-hour flight that will take them back to their loved ones.

Brains are being reprogrammed, from kill-without-hesitation mode to one more attuned to hugging wives, paying bills and drinking beers at parties in the back yard.

Thousands of servicemen at Camp Fallujah are being ordered to relive memories many would rather forget. Holding group therapy in confessional sessions is the Marine Corps's new remedy for the mental scars of battle.

"Dogs eating corpses," recalled a sergeant in one of the intimate gatherings.

"That's right," said a captain. "I saw a dog coming from the chest cavity of a man, its face dripping in blood. That was pretty bad. I've got dogs and I don't think I'm quite going to look at them the same way again."

Then another marine said: "The smell of it. I am not looking forward to the next barbecue."

A hand went up. "The suffering of the women and children." Then another: "The loss of good comrades."

Across Iraq US troops are being rotated and thousands of battle-hardened veterans are flooding back home. Haunting them all is the spectre of the dysfunctional Vietnam veteran in the 1970s and 80s, abandoned, alienated and alone.

"We did not do a very good job on our soldiers then and we learnt from that," said Capt Steve Pike, Camp Fallujah's regimental chaplain. "What these marines have seen has changed them and we need to help them deal with it."

The emotional toll is real. Sixteen per cent of army personnel who served in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 report combat related mental illness. There has been a marked rise in the number of broken marriages, car accidents, fights and alcohol and drug abuse.

To try to avoid more of the same, the "Warrior Transition'' therapy sessions, with departing marines gathered in 40-strong groups to share their experiences, are now compulsory.

The troops are mostly receptive, even the outwardly extremely tough ones such as the man with "Devil Dog'' tattooed on his arm. He had a nagging fear that his wife may have been unfaithful while he was away.

They have all seen Rambo, the film in which a traumatised Vietnam soldier runs amok in a sleepy American town, and are aware of the effects warfare can have on the psyche.

"When I lay my head down and go to sleep I can see the images of the city," says Cpl Ivan Getierrez, 21. "There was nothing but rockets and machineguns going everywhere. I lost two good friends. I think about why it was them and not me. I am not who I was before this."

The marines are taught that their wives or girlfriends are unlikely to have been transformed into the "sexual Houdinis" they may have fantasised about while they were apart.

Go slow with reconnecting with your children, comes the advice. Don't be surprised by the nightmares. Tolerate bad traffic.

"What would you do if you're in a bar and someone started making disparaging remarks about the war in Iraq?" Capt Pike asked one group.

"Smash him over the head with a beer bottle," came back the answer.

During the coming months America will discover how many can follow the official advice and simply walk away.

Butt Prints In The Sand

Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When we must rise and take a stand,
Or leave our butt prints in the sand.
~~author unknown

By Sheila Samples

03/09/05 "Information Clearing House" - - It's time. Before this obscene, gaping hole gets any deeper, it's time we convinced the media to stop digging. As someone once said...and said...and said -- time is not on our side. Storm clouds are gathering on the dashboard of our democracy. We must act, sooner rather than later -- before we are faced with sudden horror like we've never known before. I couldn't agree more, because when you consider the media horror show of the last four years, it could get hairy out there unless we wake up, stand up, and do something about it...

It's time we told the media it's either them -- or us. We need to pass them by, boycott their advertisers, protest them -- shake them until their teeth rattle. It's time we realized there is no entity more to blame for the mess we're in nor for the needless loss of life than our shameless and treasonous media. The media is even more obscene than Bush and the glowering, power-mad warmongers who surround him in both his administration and in his Congress.

Face it. Bush gets away with murder for just one reason -- because the media allows it, encourages it, and spends big bucks producing it. Bush's war-on-evildoers-turned-war-on-terror-turned-regime-change-turned-crusade-for-freedom-and-democracy is a media-orchestrated production, complete with banners, flag backdrops, bells and whistles. In case you haven't noticed what the rest of the world knew at the outset -- the illusion of Bush as a strong, principled leader is also a media creation. Totally.

It is folly to think we can continue to sit on our butts and there will be no day of reckoning for the total breakdown of fundamental journalistic principles. I hate to keep dragging poor Walter Williams, the first University of Missouri Journalism dean, across these pages like some old worn-out "Weekend at Bernie's" skit, but the Journalist's Creed Williams wrote a century ago still applies today, and is a clear statement of journalistic ethics. Williams fervently believed that journalists were totally -- and only -- trustees for the public, and that anything less than accuracy and fairness in reporting the news was betrayal. He believed that suppressing or ignoring news that might embarrass the powerbrokers is indefensible.

Betrayal. Indefensible betrayal.

If Williams had an idealistic vision of what journalism should be, John Swinton, former Chief of Staff at the New York Times, was more realistic about what the business of journalism really is. In a confession before the New York Press Club, Swinton said --

"The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell the country for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press. We are the tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

Corporate giants such as Time-Warner, Disney, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, Viacom, General Electric, and Vivendi own all media in this country; therefore, they own everything we see, hear, feel, smell or touch. They are our sensory masters. If it were not so, we would rise up against the racuous, political-agendae-driven, circle-jerk speculation by paid political activists that passes for today's news.

It's time we woke up and realized that not everyone who "journals" is a journalist, especially in the electronic media, and most notably on cable TV. Can you imagine the consternation of folks like Fox's Greta Van Susteren and CNN's Jeffery Toobin, attorneys who abandoned their law careers for the bright lights, if each were handed a pair of scissors and a jug of glue and told to "cut and paste" their transcripts, uh, after they pounded them out on manual typewriters?

How long would CNN's resident brain surgeon, Dr. Sonjay Gupta, last as a full-time "journalist" if Americans stopped dieting, refused a breakfast of Total cereal, and boycotted Walgreen's? Thanks to CNN, Dr. Gupta will save us a trip to the hospital -- he will come right into our homes and perform the lobotomies.

"Mainstream media" is the mother of all oxymorons. To really appreciate "fair and balanced" in action, see Robert Greenwald's "Outfoxed." Aside from daily humdrum chores of cleaning up George Bush's tortured rhetoric and rewriting quoted material to reflect what Bush meant to say rather than what he actually said -- aside from covering up or completely ignoring critical matters such as a revengeful White House leak blowing the cover of a covert CIA agent and endangering the lives of contacts throughout the world, a stolen election, a teetering economy, the unconstitutional silencing of an FBI translator, billions of taxpayers' dollars missing in Iraq, rampant abuse and torture of prisoners, the cruel abandonment of veterans -- the media continue to whoop it up in one huge journalistic Karaoke gig. There seems to be no end to their capacity to embarrass themselves by singing along to the propaganda track furnished them by the White House.

The entire mainstream media apparatus appears to be in "stand down" mode, much like NORAD was on the morning of September 11, 2001. With malice aforethought they ignore the destructive blips on their news screens, knowing full well the majority of Americans will not venture beyond what they are told to believe. Most Americans have no idea of what is actually going on in the world, either at home or abroad. Most accept without question Bush's recent pronouncement during his news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin --

"I live in a transparent country. I live in a country where decisions made by government are wide open and people are able to call people to me (sic) to account, which many out here do on a regular basis. Our laws and the reasons we have laws on the books are perfectly explained to people," he said. "Every decision we make is within the Constitution of the United States. We have a constitution that we uphold."

Think about that. Think about it while you're waiting for the media to report that policemen across this country are "tasering" our children in classrooms to shock them into submission -- zapping the elderly in nursing homes to keep them docile and obedient, handcuffing students and dragging them off to jail for wearing "anti-American" peace symbols on their T-shirts. Think about it while you're reading the repressive Patriot Acts I and II that literally strip the Bill of Rights from the US Constitution that Bush says he is so proud to uphold.

You'll have time to think, and to read, if you're waiting for the media to report that many veterans are being stripped of their pay and benefits, are being charged for food while lying wounded in hospitals, and are being charged a fee (tax) for their health coverage. You'll have plenty of time to think before the media breaks the news that, just last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was hit with a lawsuit in an Illinois federal court charging him with being directly responsible for the torture and abuse of detainees in US military custody. The lawsuit, far from being frivolous, was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First on behalf of eight men who were subject to such treatment and, if there is a God, Rumsfeld will be convicted of violating that most "quaint" of documents, the US Constitution, as well as federal statutes and international law.

Those who don't read foreign media will never know that the International Criminal Tribunal for Iraq (ICTI) this week found both Bush and Tony Blair guilty of a series of charges, and found they deserve life sentences for war crimes and genocide in Iraq.

Kohki Abe, a professor of law at Tokyo's Kanagawa University, said Bush and Blair should face the "maximum penalty available." He added that they should have been tried in the International Criminal Court, but admitted that, for "political reasons," they would not be prosecuted. Abe explained the ICTI had been set up so that acts such as those Bush and Blair are guilty of "do not go past without the criminals behind them being tried."

Like all thuggish bullies, George Bush, who is ever more deluded by both his senses and his judgment, is getting so full of himself he's itching for a new fight. Like he told a cheering crowd at the National Defense University this week, "We will fight the enemy, we will lift the shadows of fear and lead free nations to victory. No matter how long it takes." So, Bush is back on the hunt, and he says ironically that he will topple "tyrants who don't respect the rules of warfare..."

The darkness is closing around us. If ever there was a time in our history for the media to just do the right thing -- that time is NOW. It's time the media faced the fact that, sooner or later, Bush will pick a fight with someone who's capable of fighting back, and then ratings and profits won't matter. When that mushroom cloud hits the fan, it will affect us all, and it will be too late to do anything about it.

And nothing will remain but our butt prints in the sand.

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at rsamples@sirinet.net

© 2005 Sheila Samples . All rights reserved. You may republish under the following conditions: An active link to the original publication must be provided. You must not alter, edit or remove any text within the article, including this copyright notice.

Iraqi authorities arrive at the scene of the explosion in central Baghdad March 9, 2005

 Posted by Hello


"Going to War With the Army You Have"

By Michael Schwartz Why the U.S. can't correct its military blunders in Iraq



Iraq - A Quarterly Report:

Are you one of the millions of delusional Americans who believe things are "getting better" in Iraq? You can hardly be blamed.


"Foreign Forces Must Leave Iraq as Soon as Possible," Declares the Head of the Shiite Alliance:

No one in Iraq desires the establishment of permanent foreign bases on our land. The United Nations Security Council resolutions are clear: it will be up to the elected Iraqi government, when the time comes, to give those forces a specific departure date. As soon as possible."



Hackers may have won Bush office: Kerry's wife

The US presidential election could have been computer hacked, the wife of Democrat candidate John Kerry has claimed.



U.S. panel faults intelligence on Iran’s nuclear weapons

U.S. commission investigating prewar intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction has found that U.S. intelligence on Iran’s nuclear arms is "inadequate



Huge blast rocks Baghdad, Police find 35 corpses

A truck exploded in central Baghdad, killing 3 people and wounding 20 others. Meanwhile, the bodies of 35 dead people were found in two seperate Iraqi towns.



Bush asked to testify at German 9/11 trial

The defense team for a Moroccan man being tried in Germany for complicity in the September 11 attacks demanded on Tuesday that the U.S. President George W. Bush be summoned as a witness.



Iraq police find 41 bodies
By Elizabeth Piper in Baghdad
March 10, 2005

POLICE found 41 headless or bullet-scarred bodies in the heartland of the country's insurgency and gunmen attacked the planning minister's convoy in Baghdad today in a failed assassination bid.



French detainee goes free
ONE of the three French citizens handed over to France this week by the US after being held at its Guantanamo naval base in Cuba was freed today by French authorities, his lawyer said.



Suicide bomb chaos in Baghdad

A SUICIDE bomber driving a garbage truck blew himself up today near a Baghdad hotel used by Iraqi police and their foreign instructors, killing at least one and wounding more than 20 others, officials said



The changing face of US news

One of America's best-known news presenters is retiring on Wednesday after 24 years at the helm of the CBS evening news.

Dan Rather, who is 73, is leaving a year earlier than planned following a bruising fight with the Bush administration during the election.



U.S. military says it may abandon Abu Ghraib for safer location


BAGHDAD (AP) - Incessant attacks against Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison may force the U.S. military to return the facility to Iraq's government and take high-security inmates to a safer place, a U.S. military official said.



Thursday March 10, 2005 3:46 AM
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Defense Department hasn't developed a plan to reimburse soldiers for equipment they've bought to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan despite requirements in a law passed last year, a senator says.




Fresno California is a world away from the Middle East but the shopping mall recruiting centres are doing brisk business.

Defending American soil on the plains of Iraq still motivates here as it does across the country, Sky News correspondent Andrew Wilson writes.


The Blood of Children Stains our Flag
A Readers Commentary 04/04/03

by M. A. Luttrell Sr.
The NetArchitect

How will they write the History of the Destruction of the Children of a foreign land?

When the children of the Original American Colonies took up arms, to avoid being "Liberated" by the British, and sold into slavery for the King of England we looked upon them as Warriors, Americans, Soldiers in the making. When the Children of Scotland defended their farms from the English Invaders, they were looked upon by their people as True Scots, and the Children of True Patriots. When the children of Iceland rose up and began using the cover of night to slaughter the foreign warmongers come to take their homes, their parents, their lands, their lives, they were looked upon as Valiant, and Children of Heathen gods, until the Althing of the year 1000 when their own Council sold them out to the "invaders". When the Children of Palestine defend their dead parent's homes from destruction by an American bulldozer driven by an Israeli Soldier, with their dying breath, they are martyrs, children of an Arab god. When the Russian Children defended their homes from Invasion by the "Invaders from a foreign shore", it was written as patriotic. What do these children have in common? None of them wanted to live under the rule of a foreign land, and like Patrick Henry, perferred Liberty or Death, but not bondage to a race of Invaders.

I have seen the images of Innocents slain. Images which the mainstream media refuse to publish for fear of an uprising so great in America, that the current American regime would fall in a day. Slain by faceless bombs with things written on them that even WE dare not repeat, right here in the Land of the Free, for fear of being thought a traitor, a madman, or politically incorrect. Children slaughtered by grown men and women in the name of "liberation"? Will our children be so brave I wonder? Will they defend Our Homes if we are invaded? And will they defend our homes from an invasion from within our own country, by flak-jacketed, jackbooted thugs?

I have not heard from my Son, a 101st Airborne Ranger since the day the conflict in Iraq arose, and I wonder if he is there... if he is dead, lying in some foreign morgue, or worse, while the government plays hide and seek with the bodies and the numbers, rounds up more to send to battle, to "liberate" more starving Arab souls from sanctions, starvation, sin, disease and death. I wonder if he will come home with his head held high, medals on his chest, free of any missing body parts, or will he just come home in parts, will he come home at all, is he even gone. I would know if there were any "press" in this land with the balls to report the truth, but for now I wait.

How will history look upon us, we, who did not have the power to Oust our own leader, in this land where our own children are beaten, arrested, and gunned down by those with grandiose dreams of false authority and little conscience. How will they record the words and works and deeds of those who have had Stolen from our homes by Socialist "workers" Our Own Flesh and Blood because our homes were dirty, or our children played outside on a summer's day. Children stolen because of the color of their hair and eyes, and sold over the internet to the highest bidder, (and then more of our monies, extorted through purchase, they are paid, as well as pay the state a Bouns/Bounty of up to $8,000.00. per child "liberated from bad parents")

Never again in my lifetime, to my grandchildren's grandchildren, will we of the United States of America, be free to roam the earth upon which we were born as Sovereign People, without fear of death. How will history speak of us? Will it write us down as a generation "at risk"? How will we be seen in the light of the next generation, by our children's children, when they are forced to live under laws we did nothing to abolish, under a regime of facism we did nothing to destroy, as slaves to an American Aristocracy, we did nothing to diminish?

History, as they say, is written by the Victor, taught by the posterity of the victorious, to the children of the "liberated." What will they teach our Children's Grandchildren about Our Generation? Will they teach this as the darkest days of U.S. History, when even our own children were "liberated" because they were "at risk" of being harmed? What account shall we give to the Historians, as to the reasons we did not protect them, from a System designed to indoctrinate them into Communism, Facism, and Socialism?

How will you be remembered?

For when all is said and done, and the last curtain falls upon the stages of our lives, only the ones who remember us, will be there to tell the Truth.

I grieve for our nation, and the untold suffering that will be wrought. As history has shown, you can possess the greatest armaments in the world, but if your cause and motives are not right, only catastrophe will result.

"Jack Walters, March 8, 2003"


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Friendly fire in Iraq takes toll on U.S.-led coalition - and Iraqis


BAGHDAD (AP) - The tragic stories are told across Iraq every day, usually ending in a hail of gunfire, shattered windshields and car seats covered in blood.

Friendly fire - often at U.S. military checkpoints - is taking a toll on the United States and its allies, and with the shooting deaths of an Italian intelligence agent and a Bulgarian soldier, highlighting the fearful reality of everyday life on Iraqi roads.

"They're just cowboys," an infuriated Abdullah Mohammed, said Monday of U.S. troops who shot and killed his brother Feb. 28 as he drove down a street in insurgent-wracked Ramadi. Mohammed said his brother had edged too close to an American patrol. "They killed him without any reason, they suddenly shot at his car."

Weary of suicide car bombers, U.S. military vehicles in Iraq carry signs in Arabic warning civilians to keep a distance or risk the use of "deadly force." Similar warnings are affixed to fortified, tank-manned U.S. checkpoints around the city.

In a country where insurgents launch strikes daily, there's no doubt some of the force is justified. But civilians are getting tangled up in the violence as well, at an alarming rate.

Yarmouk hospital - just one of several large medical facilities in the capital - receives several casualties a day from such shootings, said Dr. Mohamed Salaheddin.

On Saturday, American soldiers opened fire on a civilian vehicle in Baghdad, injuring a man and killing his wife, said Iqbal Sabban, a police officer.

But both sides are often to blame, she said.

"Soldiers carry signs asking people to stay away, but people are sometimes careless," Sabban said. "The Americans are sometimes jittery and open fire at civilians just like that."

Shooting deaths of civilians are so common, they're rarely reported in the media.

When such killings impact foreigners, they can grab headlines, and increase pressure on America's allies to pull out.

On Friday, U.S. troops mistakenly raked a car with gunfire that was carrying Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena to Baghdad's international airport at night, wounding her and killing an Italian intelligence officer who'd just negotiated her release from insurgents.

The same day, a Bulgarian soldier was machine-gunned to death. Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolai said Monday the soldier was likely shot by accident by coalition forces.

Bulgaria is to decide by the month's end whether to keep its troops in Iraq after their current mission finishes in July. Nikolai, however, said the decision would not be influenced by the latest death.

Bulgarian Georgi Parvanov summoned the American ambassador in Sofia, James Pardew, and complained about the lack of co-ordination between coalition troops in Iraq, his press office said. Svinarov insisted "the coalition partners undertake emergency measures to improve co-ordination at all levels."

In both Bulgaria and Italy, the deaths have sparked heated debate over the presence of the two country's troops in Iraq. Bulgaria has a 460-strong infantry battalion in Iraq; Italy has deployed about 3,000 soldiers.

Coalition authorities are investigating both incidents.

For Iraqis, some shootings - involving trigger-happy foreign security contractors - will never be probed.

Late last month in Baghdad, unidentified foreigners in a convoy of three white sport utility vehicles blasted a small car that had apparently got too close to it with automatic weapons-fire. The woman driving was killed, her body left slumped in the front seat, splattered with blood and shards of glass. Another man, walking by at the time, was hit in the spine with a bullet and paralysed.

Whoever was responsible is unlikely ever to be brought to book.

A U.S. spokesman, marine Sgt. Salju Thomas, said "every incident where there is a loss of life or injury would be investigated" at least those involving U.S. troops and civilians.

"If there was an actual law of war or rule of engagement violation, the service member involved would be prosecuted, it depends of course if it was negligence or premeditated. It all depends on the circumstances," he said.

Asked if rules of engagement changed after the Italian agent was killed Friday, Thomas said "I can't discuss rules of engagement for operational security. But we're constantly evaluating our procedures."

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior Interior Ministry official, said police have published ads in newspapers, warning drivers to keep away from convoys and above all, do not try to pass them "in order to prevent any bloodshed."

Police have advised citizens to turn on hazard lights when approaching checkpoints at night and pull over to let convoys pass.

The debate over the shootings are reminiscent of similar mishaps in the West Bank and Gaza, where Israeli troops have repeatedly shot at approaching cars, causing injuries and death and leading to conflicting versions about whether the driver had behaved suspiciously.

There, as in the in case of the U.S. soldiers in Iraq, the circumstances underscored the dangers facing both civilians approaching checkpoints and soldiers facing insurgents, and bolstered claims that the military was not in full control.

In Iraq, most drivers have learned to keep far away.

On the main airport road, a frequent target of insurgents, lines of U.S. Humvees inch slowly along, snarling traffic. A hundred metres behind them, a three-vehicle-wide front-line of civilian traffic moves uneasily behind.

"It's a real crime when U.S. forces open their fire toward innocent people," Salaheddin said. "They leave families in deep sorrow, they leave them helpless."


National Guard Sgt. Jeff Elliott, injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq, says he gets a lot of comfort from his cats. In the background is his wife, Penny.
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They're back from Iraq, but are they OK?
Ephrata guard unit loses no lives, but life is different


EPHRATA -- A guardsman walks into a local Wal-Mart, freaks, does a 180, and walks back out again. Even after seven months, he can't stand the crowds. Another jerks awake in the middle of the night, holding an imagined gun at his wife's temple.

"Uh ... honey?" she asks.

The soldiers tear down highways, swerve to avoid trash in the road. The bag that held a Big Mac could now hide a bomb. One still jumps if you touch his neck. Others refuse to sleep in beds. Those who do may awake in a sweat.

They're members of the Ephrata-based 1161st Transportation Company, the close-knit National Guard unit that returned from Iraq seven months ago to a happy little town dolled up in yellow ribbons and townsfolk who breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Everyone in the town knew someone in uniform. The 130 citizen soldiers -- from age 18 to 60 -- were the region's postmen, tractor mechanics, lab technicians, firefighters and weekend warriors called to war

"There was this sense of something missing when they were gone," says Wes Crago, city administrator of Ephrata, population 6,980. "Now, watching the news, hearing about roadside bombings, there's not the weight, not the burden.

"Our people are back home."

All of them. The unit had no casualties, only three wounded. Driving was extreme-danger duty in Iraq, but the 1161st managed to complete more than 14,000 missions, covering more than 1 million miles

Some call it "The Miracle Company." But if no one paid the ultimate price, the deployment still came at a considerable cost.

Although some citizen soldiers have slowly eased back into routines, others still feel like strangers in their own lives seven months after troops touched down.

They landed. And crashed

"You talk to someone and they say, 'You're fine now, you're home, so everything's good.' You want to say, 'No. It's not good. I'm feeling lost,' " says Spc. Keith Bond, a 31-year-old explosives specialist and father of two.

Some nights he goes to bed not even thinking about Iraq. "Others I lay down and 'Bam!' " The face of a young Iraqi boy who aimed a gun at his truck haunts him. Bond drew a bead on him, almost took the kid out before he realized the gun was a toy. He says it felt like 45 minutes. It was probably 10 seconds. It's still messing with his head.

"What if I had shot that boy?"

How, ask soldiers, do you explain that to civilians? How do you explain anything -- the claustrophobia of being close, the anger that lashes out of nowhere, the desire to hole up?

"For a while I just wanted to sit home and do nothing," says Spc. Steve Hurt, whose son, Tanner, was four days home from the hospital when he left. "I was tired of talking about the war, tired of hearing people ask, 'Did you shoot anybody?' I didn't want anything to do with anybody -- and here I was with a wife who wanted attention, and a 2-year-old son who was walking."

Seven months after his return, Hurt and wife, Michelle, both 26, are still quarreling. "We fight over stupid things, like disciplining Tanner and paying bills," he says. "I wasn't used to having to deal with all this stuff."

The small 1161st unit -- closely tracked by larger National Guard battalions with new waves of soldiers coming home -- could still sniff the gunfire when it arrived in Iraq in May 2003.

The company was one of the first on the ground, one of the most poorly equipped and pulled one of the longest deployments, with two tough extensions. The soldiers -- some call themselves "guinea pigs" -- found out about the last extension from newspapers, a problem higher-ups vowed not to repeat.

"The military has said they hoped to learn by mistakes made with our unit," says Sheila Kelly, wife of Spc. Edward Kelly.

With training and extensions, the unit was gone from families for more than 18 months, finally arriving at Fort Lewis at the end of July. The military had prepped soldiers and spouses on possible reintegration problems. But nothing, some say, could fully prepare them for what was to come.

After the tractor parades, the award ceremonies, the celebrations and chili feeds died down, it was all quiet on the eastern front. In some households, eerily quiet.

Sheila Kelly says her husband locked himself in the bathroom to dress when he first got home. He'd become a smoker. He cursed. He was reclusive. He didn't want to be kissed, hugged -- it felt "suffocating." When she threw a big dinner party, he bolted.

"They say it's like a roller coaster, and sooner or later the ride comes to an end. But it doesn't. There's always another ride that begins," says Sheila Kelly, 41, tears spilling onto her cheeks.

Even after seven months, Spc. Kelly, 42, still craves privacy. "For me the hard part is getting back to the day-to-day, re-establishing my feelings and emotions," says the soldier, a lab technician in civilian life. "It's like you have this little buffer zone around you -- and you don't want to let anyone in."

Kelly doubts he'll ever be "old normal" again.

But who defines "new normal?"

"I keep trying to bring back the old me," says Bond. "I bring him back one day, and the next I have to try to find that person all over again."

One 1161st mother says her son left a boy and came back a man.

Sgt. Jeff Elliott, 35, left a kid at heart, and came back feeling "like a 60-year-old man."

The father of five is one of three Guardsmen in the unit decorated with a Purple Heart. He was wounded in June 2003, when a bomb in a black plastic bag hit the truck he was driving. He was in medical hold at Fort Lewis until last November, undergoing treatment for an injured back and anxiety, with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

He came home with an electronic box on his hip to interrupt pain signals to his back. It flashes like the light on a pursuing cop car. "We've been in hell. After you've been in hell, nothing's ever really the same again," he says.

He can't tolerate crowds and avoids restaurants -- unless his buddy Bond is there to cover his back. Like other soldiers accustomed to strict discipline, he's often impatient with the kids. "It's Daddy wants it done now, and he wants it done right now. If it's not, it pushes his button," says Penny, his wife of 15 years.

Elliott's family wonders what happened to the outgoing baby-faced dad who laughed and joked with the kids, chasing them through the house, rolling around on the floor with them.

This other dad hurts, and he's angry. "There's a mentality in the military that, if you complain you're hurt, you're faking it, you're slacking," says the sergeant. "So 99.1 percent of the time you suck it up, don't complain."

There was plenty to complain about in Iraq in 2003. The unit arrived to no running water, no sanitation, no air conditioning and a sheep camp with blood and feces on the wall for a base. The "guinea pigs" often felt like sitting ducks with no armor for their trucks, and inadequate flak gear for their bodies. Sweltering in 120-degree heat, they steamed when officers in air-conditioned SUVs rolled down their electric windows to bark orders.

For some, serving in Iraq was a matter of pride; for others, a waste of time. "I lost almost two years in my children's lives for something I see as a total waste of time and money and effort," says Spc. Kelly.

For Kory and Melissa Brown, it has been an exercise in togetherness. The husband and wife shipped out together, returned together. Although they couldn't touch or show affection in camp -- they stole a kiss or two -- they shared the same experiences. It's made readjustment simpler.

"She knows where I'm coming from ..." says Kory, 29.

"And he knows where I'm coming from," says Melissa, 28, completing the sentence.

She's a dental hygienist in town, and, like others in the 1161st, found re-entry into the civilian work force challenging. Away almost two years, she was rusty, and it took her several months to get her skill level back. There are still procedures she has to learn again. "I thought I would come back and just jump right into things," she says.

At least she came home to a job. Some soldiers didn't, including Spc. Hurt. He had to quit his old job when his wife moved to Ephrata. He came home from an 18-month deployment to a long, seven-month hunt for work. He applied everywhere and had only two phone calls, he says. "I felt like, after serving the country for 18 months, I come home, and I couldn't even get a job. That got to me.

"I started thinking, 'Maybe they're not hiring me because they know I could be redeployed.' "

Redeployment is a touchy topic in this little town, where remaining yellow ribbons are now faded by sun, frayed by wind.

With guard enlistments falling 30 percent short of recruitment goals, and members of the reserve and guard providing at least 40 percent of personnel in Iraq, the pressure's on. "When soldiers call to ask me what are the chances we'll go back, I tell them 50-50," says Sgt. 1st Class Merle McLain, the 36-year-old readiness manager for the 1161st and father of 3-year-old twins Alex and Sara.

They were 20 months old when the tall sergeant with the booming voice left for Iraq. He missed the "terrible 2s," potty training, his son's bout with pneumonia and emergency surgery. He tried to get home and was denied -- a low point.

Wife, Marcee, 32, who heads family support for the unit, says the kids are still working to reconnect with Dad. They bawled the first time he raised his voice and still run to Mommy for comfort. "The kids have to regain the trust that the parent is going to stay."

Is he?

Mom doesn't like to think about the troops going back.

But, like everyone else in the "Miracle Company" family, she can't help it.

"It's always in the back of my mind," she says softly.

Web extra: In their own words...

"It's like part of you has been taken away. You have to find out how to love again, how to touch again, how to care again." -- Spc. Keith Bond

"At first Kevin would just snap. Then he'd be sad. He'd tell me: "Mom, I don't know what's wrong with me." I couldn't do anything. You want to hold them like they're five years old again -- but you can't." -- Barb Kapalo, mother of Spc. Kevin Witte

"It's overwhelming when you come home. You want to be there, but you don't. It's like a suffocating feeling." -- Spc. Edward Kelly

"There should be a book, and I could write a section on what NOT to say to your husband when he gets back from Iraq, and what NOT to expect. Don't expect anything." -- Michelle Hurt, wife of Spc. Steve Hurt

"Our 13-year-old son said, 'I want my OLD dad back, the one who teases me, pickes on me, wrestles with me. The one who's not so serious." -- Penny Elliott, wife of Sgt. Jeff Elliott

"They're not the same guys. Not at all." -- Angelicque (cq) Bond, wife of Spc. Keith Bond.

"I try not to watch the news. It makes me feel bad because soldiers are over there dying and our whole company is back home safe. I just wish everything would end." -- Spc. Steve Hurt.


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