Saturday, November 26, 2005
'Trophy' video exposes private security contractors shooting up Iraqi drivers
A "trophy" video appearing to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the internet, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.
The video has sparked concern that private security companies, which are not subject to any form of regulation either in Britain or in Iraq, could be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Iraqis.
The video, which first appeared on a website that has been linked unofficially to Aegis Defence Services, contained four separate clips, in which security guards open fire with automatic rifles at civilian cars. All of the shooting incidents apparently took place on "route Irish", a road that links the airport to Baghdad.
The road has acquired the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous in the world because of the number of suicide attacks and ambushes carried out by insurgents against coalition troops. In one four-month period earlier this year it was the scene of 150 attacks.
In one of the videoed attacks, a Mercedes is fired on at a distance of several hundred yards before it crashes in to a civilian taxi. In the last clip, a white civilian car is raked with machine gun fire as it approaches an unidentified security company vehicle. Bullets can be seen hitting the vehicle before it comes to a slow stop.
Iranian president calls for war crimes charges on US :
Jazeera seeks Blair meeting:
They're burned, or blinded, or sparring with death
The story of the U.S. military hospital in Germany where 16,000 troops wounded in Iraq have passed through.
September 27, 2004
Landstuhl, Germany - The medical team that accompanied the soldier on the Thursday morning flight from Iraq had worked the whole way to keep him alive, his body burned and lacerated by the fire and metal of a roadside bomb.
They were low on oxygen by the time the green military ambulance reached the front door of the hospital.
"Get me more O2," shouted out a visibly upset nurse, Maj. Pat Bradshaw. She had been up and working for 28 hours, ferrying the wounded out of Iraq.
"She's stressed," said Capt. George Sakakini, a physician in charge of the team that greets the wounded. He watched from the curbside through the early-morning drizzle, keeping an eye on his highly trained squad of doctors, nurses and chaplains. "Someone's trying to die on her."
Full green oxygen tank in place, its contents filtering into the unconscious man's lungs, the team lowered the soldier on his stretcher to the ground. His scorched face was a painter's palette of the colors of pain: yellow, mauve, bright red.
In the intensive care unit, nurses quickly worked to make sure his wounds were as clean as possible. An infection could kill him. A couple of rooms over, more nurses worked on another young soldier, also unconscious, burned and sparring with death. Another roadside bomb victim. Dabbing gently, they spread thick white antimicrobial cream on the raw flesh of his forearms. Twenty percent of his body was burned.
It was an average morning at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, which has become the American military's museum of pain and maiming, doubt and anger. The planes from Iraq land every day, sometimes two or three of them.
Like his staff, who brim with frustration at what they see as the irresponsible disinclination of the American people to understand the costs of the war to thousands of American soldiers, the hospital's chief surgeon feels that most Americans have their minds on other things.
"It is my impression that they're not thinking about it a whole lot at all," said Lt. Col. Ronald Place. As he spoke, the man who has probably seen more of America's war wounded than anyone since the Vietnam War sobbed as he sat at a table in his office.
First stop for injured
Nowhere is it less possible to escape the horrors of the war in Iraq for American soldiers than Landstuhl. Nestled among the tall trees of a forest on the outskirts of this small town in southwestern Germany, the largest American military hospital outside the United States is the first stop for nearly all injured American personnel when they are flown out of Iraq or Afghanistan. Dedicated and compassionate doctors, nurses and support staff push aside curtains of fatigue and what the hospital's psychologists call "vicarious trauma" to patch up and tend to soldiers before they fly to the United States for longer-term care.
This month, politicians focused on the unwelcome tally of the 1,000th American soldier to die in Iraq. Landstuhl has its own set of figures, numbers that flesh out the suffering occurring on the battlefields of Iraq and in homes across the United States.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 18,000 military personnel have passed through the hospital from what staff refer to as "down range": Iraq and Afghanistan. Of those, nearly 16,000 have come from Iraq.
Last month, 23 percent of those were casualties from combat, slightly higher than most months; the rest had either accidental or disease-related complaints.
Thirteen have died at the hospital.
Each day, an average of 30 to 35 patients arrive on flights from Iraq. The most on a single day was 168.
More than 200 personnel have come in with either lost eyes or eye injuries that could result in sight loss or blindness.
About 160 soldiers have had limbs amputated, most of them passing through the hospital on their way home to more surgery.
And it's not just their bodies that come in needing fixing. More than 1,400 physically fit personnel have been admitted with mental health problems.
Then there are the Pentagon's figures that touch on all casualties from the war in Iraq: 1,042 dead; 7,413 injured in action, including 4,026 whose injuries have prevented them from returning to duty. In Afghanistan, there have been 366 injuries and 138 deaths.
One other number tells a slightly different tale, a story of selflessness in the face of suffering: one third. That's about how much money surgeons at Landstuhl make compared to what they could make if they chose to work in the civilian world.
"There is nothing more rewarding than to take care of these guys," said Place, the skin around his eyes reddening with the tears that he failed to hold inside. "Not money, not anything."
Every day starts in the same way at Landstuhl. The staff get up early to greet the buses and ambulances that come from nearby Ramstein air base, where the planes from Iraq touch down as early as 6 a.m. Most soldiers can walk off the buses, with broken bones or noncombat illnesses. But those who come in ambulances, like the two blast-injured soldiers, go straight to the ICU.
On Thursday morning, the 20-bed ICU was a busy, but not rushed, place. As so often these days, the staff there were dealing with the effects of roadside bombs rather than bullets. That means taking care of scorched, lacerated bodies that may have less obvious internal injuries.
Col. Earl Hecker sat outside the room where nurses were applying the white antimicrobial cream to one of the burned soldiers. Twenty-seven-years-old, Hecker remarked, looking at the patient's notes. (Hospital officials were not able to get these patients' consent to be named or photographed because of their medical conditions.)
Hecker, at 70, is a few generations older than his patient. A surgeon who had retired from the Reserves but recently rejoined, he has forsaken his private practice in Detroit for now to help at Landstuhl, working past his assigned 90-day tour to stay nearly 150 days.
This experience "has changed my whole life," he said, his jovial demeanor fading to introspection. "I'm never going to be the same."
The day before, Hecker had been taking care of an 18-year-old soldier who, thanks to an Iraqi bullet, will forever be quadriplegic.
Hecker sat gazing through the window at the burned soldier and thought of the kid he had sent off to the States the day before. "Terrible, terrible, terrible," he said, staring into the distance. "When you talk to him he cries."
A month ago, Hecker took four days off to fly home to see his family. He needed a break. They went out for dinner at a nice restaurant. Hecker realized during dinner that he was suddenly seeing the world differently. He looked around at the chattering people, eating their fine food, drinking good wine and he thought to himself: "They have no idea what's going on here. Absolutely none."
He doesn't think people want to see it. He thinks the nation is still scarred by Vietnam and would prefer not to see the thousands of injured young men coming home from Iraq.
"I just want people to understand - war is bad, life is difficult," he said.
Maybe it was the stress, maybe it's because Hecker has no military career to mess up by speaking out of line, but it just came out: "George Bush is an idiot," he said, quickly saying he regretted the comment. But then he continued, criticizing Bush as a rich kid who hasn't seen enough of the world. "He's very rich, you'd think he'd get some education," Hecker said.
"He's my president. I'll follow him in what he wants to do," he continued, "but I'm here for him." Hecker leaned forward and pointed through the glass at the unconscious soldier fighting for his life 2 yards away.
'It's just not right'
Not all of the staff can get away with criticizing their commander-in-chief or his decisions, but many use more opaque ways of communicating their unease.
"It's not right," said Maj. Cathy Martin, 40, head nurse of the ICU, when asked how she felt seeing so many soldiers pass through her unit. She paused. "It's just not right."
She declined to elaborate on what exactly she meant. Comments such as Hecker's about the president can lead to severe consequences for those with careers ahead of them. But Martin did add: "People need to vote for the right people to be in office and they need to be empowered to influence change."
What she did feel comfortable saying, echoing the head surgeon, Hecker and others, was that people back home just don't get it.
"Everyone's looking but no one's seeing," added Staff Sgt. Royce Pittman, 32, who works with her. "I had no idea this was going on. ... What we see every day is not normal. There's nothing normal about this."
In private, some hospital workers said they wished they could openly air their feelings about the war. And if reporters could somehow quote people's facial expressions, a number of those staff members would probably be facing disciplinary hearings. Only one staff member interviewed expressed solid support for the war.
"I do believe, I truly do believe that those that are fighting and defending for liberty and freedom ... that that is a truly worthy cause," said Maj. Kendra Whyatt, head nurse of inpatient orthopedics.
Is it all worth it? the head surgeon was asked. "That's not for me to say, but I'll be here for them," Place said.
The staff do talk among themselves, said Maj. Stephen Franco, chief of the clinical health psychology service at the hospital. He recalled one doctor's comments after attending a memorial service for a young soldier who had died. "I wish some of the lawmakers could attend some of these more often so they can think a little more about their decisions," Franco recalled the doctor telling him.
But like all the staff in the hospital, politics comes second to healing with Franco. He has a lot of it to do.
"It's probably the biggest challenge to mental health since Vietnam," said his boss, Col. Gary Southwell, chief of psychology services.
Soldiers come in carrying guilt about leaving their unit behind, haunting visions of seeing friends dying, nightmares, frayed nerves and deep anxieties about their future, Franco said. Place noted that for a single man facial disfigurement, for example, can be particularly traumatizing. Who's going to want someone with a face like this? the young men wonder.
Care taken not to sugarcoat
Franco and his colleagues - the number of psychologists and psychiatrists has doubled since the Iraq war began, reflecting large staff increases throughout the hospital - make a point of visiting all new patients to see how they're doing.
"We provide assurance, look to the future," he said. "We're careful not to sugarcoat anything."
Franco doesn't attempt quick miracle fixes for traumatized soldiers, most of whom are flown to the United States after a few days. "When your world is rocked like that it's not a smooth process necessarily to get that to make sense," he said.
On Sept. 18, Army Sgt. 1st Class Larry Daniels' world was rocked. So was his wife's.
With other men from his platoon, Daniels was standing on a bridge over a highway near Baghdad International Airport while an Iraqi contractor fixed a fence by the side of the road. Daniels, 37, was waving Iraqi vehicles past the three American Humvees while the contractor worked as quickly as possible to fix the wire fence.
An orange and white Chevy Caprice, a type of car usually driven as a taxi in Baghdad, veered toward the soldiers. It exploded; a suicide car bomb.
"I felt my body went up in the air," said Daniels, in his Texas drawl. "I was upside down looking back at where the car had been and landed on the ground. Three seconds later it hit me what happened."
Lying on the pavement, Big Daddy Daniels, as his men call him, had the presence of mind to keep ordering his soldiers around, even though he couldn't move. Another unit arrived soon and ferried the survivors to safety. Two were dead.
Two days later, Daniels was flown to Landstuhl. Both of his arms have multiple fractures. Steel pins and thick casts keep his bones in place. Part of his hand is missing. And as he puts it, he's got "holes from my ankle to my ear." The doctors have taken some of the shrapnel out. Some fragments are still there.
Wife's opinion has changed
Daniels is an experienced, professional soldier. He's been in the Army for 17 years. His dad was a draftee in the Vietnam War. He can trace his family's military history back to the Civil War. So perhaps it's not surprising that he says he wishes he were still in Iraq with his men.
His wife, Cheryl, has had enough. While the staff at Landstuhl move the injured on, usually after five days, the families of the wounded have to face up to the long-term consequences of the violence in Iraq. Many are embittered.
From a military family herself, the mother of two had been changing her mind about a lot of things even before her husband became so badly injured that he can't do even the most basic of tasks for himself.
She supported the war and voted for Bush. Now, she says, she wants to pull the troops out of Iraq. "I will vote for Kerry. Not because I prefer Kerry over Bush but because I don't want Bush back in office."
Her 12-year-old son has been saying he wants to go to West Point. Her 8-year-old daughter wants to be a military veterinarian. She's stopped encouraging those ambitions.
Speaking alone, without her husband, she said she knew that the Army wasn't going to like what she had to say. Like Hecker, she hasn't got much to lose by speaking her mind, which she did, calmly and thoughtfully.
"I don't feel we have any business being there," she said Friday. "I think this is an area of the world that has been fighting for thousands of years, and I don't think our presence will change anything. If anything, we've given them a common target to focus on. Rather than fight each other, they're fighting us. I don't see why my husband has to lose two soldiers or question why he's here or see his other guys that are hurt. The minute we pull out, things will go back to the culture that is established."
Cheryl Daniels is looking at a tough future. She has to parent her kids, hold down a job at Fort Hood Army base in Texas, where the family lives, and finish the management degree she is studying for at night. Soon her disabled husband will be home, and she finds it hard to believe, as the doctors have told her, that "in a year or two he's going to be back to normal. I can't see that right now because he's got nerve damage in his arms."
She doesn't feel that her country, her military, is giving her enough support. She had to pay her own way to Germany and her own way back. The Army was doing almost nothing for her, she said.
"I feel like we've paid our dues," she said. "And I'm done."
Lost Legs, Burned Faces and White House Lies: What Are They Dying For?:
What Are They Dying For?
By BRIAN CLOUGHLEY
"We don't know the course of our own struggle will take [sic], or the sacrifices that might lie ahead."
GW Bush, November 11, 2005.
"Akers said his son is burned on more than 75 percent of his body. . . . 'We've been talking to the doctors in Germany. It's just a case of if he can get through the infection,' Don Akers said. 'The biggest part of the burn is his face. The odds are not in his favor'. "
Cadillac News, November 24, 2005.
On November 24 the number of US dead in Iraq for the month reached 75. In October, 96 Americans were killed. The corpse total is over 2100. More than 7,000 of the 15,804 wounded (as at November 24) have lost limbs or minds or will bear hideous disfigurement to their graves.
What for? Why have they died or been maimed? What righteous cause has made it imperative for thousands of young Americans to have their lives cut short or be horribly mutilated?
Among the worst of those wounded were Sergeant Spencer Akers, who was burned on over 75 per cent of his body, and 26 year-old Latseen Benson of the 101st Airborne. Specialist Benson was blown up on November 13 and "lost his legs and possibly part of an arm and was in a coma Tuesday night [November 15] in a hospital in Germany."
Latseen Benson is aged 26, unconscious and legless. His mother said he was forced to extend his service under Rumsfeld's Stop-Loss Program. In all decency he shouldn't have been sent back to Iraq, but now "My son is now fighting for his life with half a body left".
What for? Why has Latseen Benson been reduced to less than half a man? Democracy has not benefited one tiny bit from the physical destruction of a soldier who had his service extended by orders of the unfeeling reptile Rumsfeld and the Pentagon he has filled with forelock-tugging dummies.
Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney and the other armchair warriors are experts at public posturing about the horrors of their war, but they weep only crocodile tears for such as Latseen Benson.
Cheney is now smearing and insulting those who mistakenly accepted the word of the President of the United States when he lied about his reasons for making war on Iraq. Cheney calls opponents of his war "opportunists" who are telling "cynical and pernicious falsehoods" and sneered at the gallant warrior, Congressman John P Murtha.
Cheney's theme is that Democrats are trying to obtain political mileage by saying what is so widely known : that he and Bush and Rice and Rumsfeld and other warped psychopaths told deliberate lies about the reasons for their brutal crusade.
Certainly some Democrats are trying to gain political advantage by pointing out they were lied to. (And the gutless ones are sitting on the fence.) But politicians are made that way, and most of them around the world are unprincipled, pompous, money-grubbing assholes, so if the boot was on the other foot then the posturing self-righteous Republicans who cry 'Foul Play!' about the Bush lies being recognized would be using that boot to kick the hell out of their opponents.
So don't let's have any more of that sort of nonsense, from either side, especially when young men are having their boots and feet blown off in a foreign country that posed not the slightest threat to any American and had nothing whatever to do with 9/11, as eventually admitted by Bush.
Does anyone remember the British reporter who on January 31, 2003 asked Bush and his puppy dog Blair "One question for you both. Do you believe that there is a link between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on September the 11th?" Bush replied "I can't make that claim."
He couldn't just say 'No', of course. The man is incapable of admitting the whole truth, even to himself, when it doesn't fit his fixed ideas. This, after all, is the knave who told the monstrous lie that "we've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and gases."
Unfortunately Bush and the zealots in Washington made so many statements about supposed Al Qaeda links with the Twin Towers atrocity -- and are still making them -- that genuine patriots like Latseen Benson really believed they were committed to war by their president "for 9/11". That is what Latseen Benson said, as reported in his local newspaper. He was maimed for a lie, and his body was destroyed while his mind still believed his commander-in-chief had told him the truth.
Latseen Benson comes from Anchorage, Alaska. And it so happens that the draft-dodger Bush visited Anchorage November 15 and while he was there announced that "As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them into war continue to stand behind them". But as Specialist Benson's mother said : "I would have appreciated a little house call while he was here to tell me why a very fine boy has to be fighting for his life."
But house calls are not the Bush style. He would not dare to visit with Mrs Benson. He would not know what to say to the mother who knows her son lost both his legs because Bush and his cohorts told lies. A meeting with the mother of a maimed soldier could not be scripted. It could not be stage-managed, like his obscene performance on an aircraft carrier when he delivered his arrogant smirking inanities in front of a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished". A meeting with Mrs Benson would have to be unrehearsed and devoid of the public relations bells and whistles that are vital for performances by this soggy apology for a leader. Without meticulous preparation for every Bush appearance in public he would be reduced to demonstrating his true capabilities, which at their height would be those of a third rate clerk for an itinerant pox-doctor. Which brings us to the vice-president.
It is of course entirely coincidental that Cheney indulged in his tirade about "cynical and pernicious falsehoods" at the very time when news was breaking about him that just might be embarrassing. At a Senate hearing on November 14 about excessive oil profits, five executives were asked "Did your company or any representatives in your companies participate in Vice President Cheney's energy [task] force in 2001?". Every one of them said "No".
In addition to the Washington Post publicizing emails contradicting their replies, the Government Accountability Office discovered that Chevron and others "gave detailed energy policy recommendations" to Cheney's people.
It was not in any way illegal to take part in Cheney's secret deliberations that he refuses to reveal to the American public. So why did these people lie about it? What were their recommendations and why are they being concealed?
None of the oil company representatives who lied to the Senate Committee was on oath, because the joint chair, Republican Senator Stevens of Alaska, insisted they should not be. Why? Did he know they were going to tell lies, and therefore wanted to protect them? Because, however bizarre it seems to people of normal mind and morality, no charge of perjury can be brought against them because they did not take a specific oath to tell the truth. The lying officials from Exxon Mobil, Conoco, Shell Oil and BP America are going to walk away from this. They have been asked "to clarify" matters. Yawn.
But it still looks pretty nasty for Cheney, who drove the whole sordid oil exercise, and is summed up well by Democrat Senator Frank Lautenberg : "Whatever was discussed at that White House energy task force meeting, it seems to turn out very well for the big oil companies, but it's been disastrous, daily disastrous for the American public." That, unlike the statements of the oil companies, is the truth ; and the truth is something that Cheney does not want revealed. Because Iraq was discussed by his task force, all these weeks before 9/11. It is impossible, unthinkable, that a globally-focused oil cabal analyzed the entire gamut of energy production without talking at length about such a large producer of oil as Iraq. And Cheney insists that what was said must remain secret.
Small wonder Cheney is terrified his discussions might be made public. And there is no better way to deflect attention from the institutional dishonesty that permeates the Bush administration than to indulge in shrill malignity about those who unveil the truth.
Cheney was deeply involved in plotting the war on Iraq. His finger-puppet, Bush, whose character defects are such that he is incapable of admitting a lie, is just an incoherent simpleton. But Cheney is a master of calculating duplicity. He has no moral sense, and lying comes naturally to him : not through ignorant conviction, like the pathetic and foolish Bush, but through vicious determination to smash his opponents. This torture-supporting, lily-livered poltroon, who weaseled his way out of the Vietnam War because "I had other priorities", is anxious to show that he is macho man. Like the fetid milksop in the White House, he stands behind the troops -- but it is a very long way behind.
It is for the vanity of Cheney and Bush that soldiers continue to be killed. Soldiers have died or been maimed, not for "freedom" or "democracy" or any of the slick slogans dredged up by cynics to justify their slaughter, but for the benefit of oil companies and to help Cheney and Bush get out of the quagmire of deceit that they created. American troops will be forced to stay in Iraq to be shot at and bombed because these men will not admit they were wrong. On Veteran's Day Bush tried to justify his war, and anounced that "We don't know . . . the sacrifices that might lie ahead."
Of course we don't. But there is one thing that is absolutely certain : George Bush and Dick Cheney are not making any sacrifices, and will never do so.
President Eisenhower declared that "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can ; only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity" ; but this type of wise warning from a real leader passes well over the heads of the arrogant, conceited oafs who have driven America to calamity. Eisenhower knew the real costs of conflict.
If photographs of Specialist Benson were to appear in public they would make even Cheney's staunchest supporters reconsider their dedication to war. And of course this is why pictures of maimed soldiers are discouraged. It is they and their relatives who are making the sacrifices, just as has been made by those who were killed and by their grieving families. The difference is that those who lost limbs and minds will live for years as a reminder of an administration that was determined to show it was tough, just for the sake of looking tough.
Nothing has appeared in the mainstream media about Specialist Benson of the 101st Airborne who has lost his legs, or about Sergeant Akers of the Michigan National Guard who is horribly burned. They are not on the front pages. But Bush and Cheney are all over the front pages, and the mother of Latseen Benson has asked them why they sent her son to war to be maimed. She deserves a truthful answer. So do we all.
Brian Cloughley writes on military and political affairs. He can be reached through his website www.briancloughley.com
Salon.com March 8, 2005
The invisible wounded
Injured soldiers evacuated to the U.S. never arrive in the light of day -- and the Pentagon has yet to offer a satisfactory explanation why.
By Mark Benjamin
Iraq War Casualty Pictures.
Very Disturbing Pictures
The US Plans a Long, Long Stay in Iraq
While President George Bush hints at eventual troop withdrawals, the Pentagon is busy building four major, permanent air bases in Iraq that will require heavy infantry protection.
By John S. Hatch
11/26/05 "ICH" -- -- President Bush was recently criticized for not being forceful enough in denouncing Chinese human rights abuses during a trip there. Excuse me? This is the torture president. How on earth can the United States preach to anyone in the world about human rights or the rule of law, or morality? In even raising the question, has Mr. Bush abandoned any claim to sanity? If it is wrong for China to abuse human rights (and it’s true that their record is horrible) how is it acceptable for the US in Iraq to sexually torture imprisoned children as a means to coerce their (probably completely innocent) parents to disclose information they most likely don’t have?
There is within the mythology America finds so indispensable something so sick and downright evil, but so pervasive that even after all the revelations of torture and rape and murder sanctioned at the highest levels of government, even now the numbness persists, and writers still insist on thinking that America is somehow a shining example of decency to a world which needs its sanctimonious preaching. Who in their right mind would want to emulate America in this century? Who on earth would want to be an American in this darkest of times? America is like a born-again Christian fundamentalist—mean, ignorant, full of hate and rage and superstition, but utterly convinced of his own righteousness. In short, insane. Dangerously insane.
In Iraq American sanctioned and trained elements of the Iraqi military are back to using electric drills on ‘insurgents’, an old Saddam phenomenon. Drill for oil, drill for blood. They’ll drill your knee, or your arm, or your head. You are innocent. Doesn’t matter. Think George cares? White phosphorous. Depleted uranium. Shock and awe. Cluster bombs. Etcetera. Where are those photographs and videos of children undergoing torture at Abu Grahaib that a judge ordered released months ago? Whatever happened to the rule of law? Where did accountability go? Where the hell is the outrage? Why are Bush and Rumsfeld and Rice and a bunch of others not in jail cells? Where is the outrage?
For those who think that change is coming in ’06 or ’08, think again—these people cannot relinquish power, whatever further lies and outrages they must commit to retain it. There are simply too many crimes against humanity and war crimes for which to avoid accountability at all costs. Lives depend on it. Many more crimes are yet to be reported. Do not for a moment consider that this bunch would not, if they saw it in their interests, engineer another deadly 911 incident (blamed on Muslims, of course) to once again terrorize the populace into meek submission. It may be pathologically manipulative and barbaric, but that’s Straussian politics. To them it’s not only acceptable, it’s business as usual. It’s probably going to happen, as Bush’s numbers continue to decline.
America has seen bad times—slavery, the civil war, McCarthyism and communist hysteria, never-ending racism, Nixon and Kissinger, the unheralded horror of Reagan, but Bush has brought disaster on a completely different level. Bush is a dupe, if an evil one, but there are truly ugly, nasty people pulling his strings. Nothing short of a second American revolution is going to rescue your nation. Even now Bush is making plans to violently stop such a thing from happening. We’re going to see once and for all if Americans stand for the vaunted values to which they give such eloquent and loud lip service. If so, then I fear they will have to pay in blood. It’s come to that. I’m sorry.
John S. Hatch is a Vancouver writer and film-maker. He can be reached at email@example.com www.jhatchfilms.citymax.com
Revealed: IRA bombs killed eight British soldiers in Iraq
Terror devices used by the IRA in a vicious murder campaign in Ulster blew up British servicemen as the world blamed Iran
By Greg Harkin, Francis Elliott and Raymond Whitaker
Published: 16 October 2005
Eight British soldiers killed during ambushes in Iraq were the victims of a highly sophisticated bomb first used by the IRA, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.
The soldiers, who were targeted by insurgents as they travelled through the country, died after being attacked with bombs triggered by infra-red beams. The bombs were developed by the IRA using technology passed on by the security services in a botched "sting" operation more than a decade ago.
Article Length: 665 words (approx.)
75 in a 55 Zone
> Jack took a long look at his speedometer before
> slowing down: 73 in a 55 zone. Fourth time in as
> many months. How could a guy get caught so often?
> When his car had slowed to 10 miles an hour, Jack
> pulled over, but only partially. Let the cop worry
> about the potential traffic hazard. Maybe some
> other car will tweak his backside with a mirror.
> The cop was stepping out of his car, the big pad in hand.
> Bob? Bob from Church? Jack sunk farther into his
> trench coat. This was worse than the coming ticket.
> A cop catching a guy from his own church. A guy who
> happened to be a little eager to get home after a
> long day at the office. A guy he was about to play
> golf with tomorrow.
> Jumping out of the car, he approached a man he saw
> every Sunday, a man he'd never seen in uniform.
> "Hi, Bob. Fancy meeting you like this."
> "Hello, Jack." No smile.
> "Guess you caught me red-handed in a rush to see my
> wife and kids."
> "Yeah, I guess." Bob seemed uncertain. Good.
> "I've seen some long days at the office lately. I'm
> afraid I bent the rules a bit -just this once."
> Jack toed at a pebble on the pavement. "Diane said
> something about roast! beef and potatoes tonight.
> Know what I mean?"
> "I know what you mean. I also know that you have a
> reputation in our precinct."
> This was not going in the right direction. Time to change
> "What'd you clock me at?"
> "Seventy. Would you sit back in your car please?"
> "Now wait a minute here, Bob. I checked as soon as I
> saw you. I was barely nudging 65." The lie seemed to
> come easier with every ticket.
> "Please, Jack, in the car."
> Flustered, Jack hunched himself through the
> still-open door. Slamming it shut, he stared at the
> dashboard. He was in no rush to open the window.
> The minutes ticked by. Bob scribbled away on the
> Why hadn't he asked for a driver's license?
> Whatever the reason, it would be a month of Sundays
> before Jack ever sat near this cop again. A tap on
> the door jerked his head to the left. There was Bob,
> a folded paper in hand Jack rolled down the window
> a mere two inches, just enough room for Bob to pass
> him the slip.
> "Thanks." Jack could not quite keep the sneer out of
> his voice.
> Bob returned to his police car without a word. Jack
> watched his retreat in the mirror Jack unfolded the
> sheet of paper. How much was this one going to cost?
> Wait a mi! minute. What was this? Some kind of joke?
> Certainly not a ticket. Jack began to read:
> "Dear Jack,
> Once upon a time I had a daughter. She was six when
> killed by a car. You guessed it-a speeding
> driver. A fine and three months in jail, and the man
> was free. Free to hug his daughters All three of
> them. I only had one, and I'm going to have to wait
> until Heaven before I can ever hug her again. A
> thousand times I've tried to forgive that man. A
> thousand times I thought I had. Maybe I did, but I
> need to do it again. Even now. Pray for me. And be
> careful, Jack, my son is all I have left."
> Jack turned around in time to see Bob's car pull
> away and head down the road.. Jack watched until it
> disappeared. A full 15 minutes later, he too, pulled
> away and drove slowly home, praying for forgiveness
> and hugging a surprised wife and kids when he
> Life is precious. Handle with care. This is an
> important message; please pass it along to your
> friends. Drive safely and carefully. Remember, cars
> are not the only things recalled by their maker.
> Funny how you can send a thousand jokes' through
> e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you
> start sending messages regarding the sanctity of
> life, people think twice about sharing.
> Funny how when you go to forward this message, you
> will not send it to many on your address list
> because you're not sure what they believe, or what
> they will think of you for sending it to them. Pass
> this on, you may save a life. Maybe not, but we'll
> never know if we don't try.
The Press: The Enemy Within
By Michael Massing The New York Review of Books
15 December 2005 Edition
The past few months have witnessed a striking change in the fortunes of two well-known journalists: Anderson Cooper and Judith Miller. CNN's Cooper, the one-time host of the entertainment show The Mole, who was known mostly for his pin-up good looks, hip outfits, and showy sentimentality, suddenly emerged during Hurricane Katrina as a tribune for the dispossessed and a scourge of do-nothing officials. He sought out poor blacks who were stranded in New Orleans, expressed anger over bodies rotting in the street, and rudely interrupted Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu when she began thanking federal officials for their efforts. When people "listen to politicians thanking one another and complimenting each other," he told her, "you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated." After receiving much praise, Cooper in early November was named to replace Aaron Brown as the host of CNN's NewsNight.
By then, Judith Miller was trying to salvage her reputation. After eighty-five days in jail for refusing to testify to the grand jury in the Valerie Plame leak case, she was greeted not with widespread appreciation for her sacrifice in protecting her source but with angry questions about her relations with Lewis Libby and her dealings with her editors, one of whom, Bill Keller, said he regretted he "had not sat her down for a thorough debriefing" after she was subpoenaed as a witness. The controversy revived the simmering resentment among her fellow reporters, and many Times readers, over her reporting on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. In the Times's account, published on October 16, Miller acknowledged for the first time that "WMD - I got it totally wrong." Bill Keller said that after becoming the paper's executive editor in 2003, he had told Miller that she could no longer cover Iraq and weapons issues, but that "she kept drifting on her own back into the national security realm." For her part, Miller insisted that she had "cooperated with editorial decisions" and expressed regret that she was not allowed to do follow-up reporting on why the intelligence on WMD had been so wrong; on November 8, she agreed to leave the Times after twenty-eight years at the paper. 
These contrasting tales suggest something about the changing state of American journalism. For many reporters, the bold coverage of the effects of the hurricane, and of the administration's glaring failure to respond effectively, has helped to begin making up for their timid reporting on the existence of WMD. Among some journalists I've spoken with, shame has given way to pride, and there is much talk about the need to get back to the basic responsibility of reporters, to expose wrongdoing and the failures of the political system. In recent weeks, journalists have been asking more pointed questions at press conferences, attempting to investigate cronyism and corruption in the White House and Congress, and doing more to document the plight of people without jobs or a place to live.
Will such changes prove lasting? In a previous article, I described many of the external pressures besetting journalists today, including a hostile White House, aggressive conservative critics, and greedy corporate owners.  Here, I will concentrate on the press's internal problems - not on its many ethical and professional lapses, which have been extensively discussed elsewhere, but rather on the structural problems that keep the press from fulfilling its responsibilities to serve as a witness to injustice and a watchdog over the powerful. To some extent, these problems consist of professional practices and proclivities that inhibit reporting - a reliance on "access," an excessive striving for "balance," an uncritical fascination with celebrities. Equally important is the increasing isolation of much of the profession from disadvantaged Americans and the difficulties they face. Finally, and most significantly, there's the political climate in which journalists work. Today's political pressures too often breed in journalists a tendency toward self-censorship, toward shying away from the pursuit of truths that might prove unpopular, whether with official authorities or the public. >>>cont
Four of the U.S. deaths were soldiers who died Wednesday and two died Thursday
Four of the U.S. deaths were soldiers who died Wednesday and two died Thursday - bringing to 81 the number of Americans killed in Iraq so far this month. With deaths averaging three a day, November may become one of the deadliest months this year.
Holiday turns grim in Iraq: Bombs kill 36:
No American dignitaries made surprise trips to dine with American soldiers, as they have on previous holidays.
I Wonder Why?
Bush Wanted al Jazeera Gone
One Small Thanksgiving Story
By Stuart Heady t r u t h o u t Report
Friday 25 November 2005
Alan Pogue, a photographer who has pursued the use of his camera as an extension of the mercy work he did on the battlefields of Vietnam as a US Army medic, went to Amman just after the hotel bombings to usher Alaa' and her parents through the process and accompany them to the hospital. Alan and Cole Miller, who lives in Los Angeles, comprise most of No More Victims, an effort to save one child at a time from the fate of living with untreated war wounds. Why only one child at a time? Because that is one better than none.
Alaa' Khalid Hamdan and her mother Zaynab (or Zainab) Mohammed Assi, 25, were injured in their home at a party for a group of children under 10 years old. A US tank crew was randomly shelling the area in Anbar Province near the Jordanian border on May 3, 2005.
Presumably, they were after insurgents, although random shelling of civilian neighborhoods would seem to be a remarkably inexact strategy. According to locals, a sniper set up on the tallest building in the village (Al Qaim, also known as Husayba) shot at everything that moved: men, women, children, even elderly people. Khalid Abd, the father, 27, was at work when the tank round struck the family's home.
Alaa' suffered shrapnel wounds on most of her body when the shell landed in the party. She had rushed abdominal surgery on severed intestines that left her with a protuberant belly from poorly sutured muscle and connective tissue.
Her eyes have tiny metal slivers in them, which if not removed very soon, will cause her to go blind permanently. Her mother had one eye completely destroyed in the attack and the other also has embedded metal slivers. She lost two sons, age 4 and 5 as well. Khalid's brother's three young sons were killed. Some weeks later, Zaynab, who at that point was about one month pregnant, was hit in the abdomen by a US Army sniper. A couple of months after that, she was riding in a car with her father when another tank shell landed near them. She was again hit in the abdomen, this time with shrapnel lodged in her bladder.
It was this case that connected with No More Victims, basically run by one man, Cole Miller, who works as a freelance writer in Los Angeles. The problem is to save one war-injured Iraqi child at a time, since the funding at this point is very limited.
This got started when Miller contacted Alan Pogue in August of 2002 to see if he had a photograph that could be used in a poster expressing opposition to the imminent war against Iraq ... Pogue had gone to Iraq in 2000 and taken a photograph of a girl of 13, Asraa, whose right arm had been amputated just above the elbow after a missile struck her remote village of Abu Flos.
As war protests around the world increased in size and intensity, this photograph was downloaded over 10,000 times and used as a large poster at demonstrations on every continent.
Miller wondered who she was, contacted Alan, and the two of them discussed where she might be. When Alan took the photograph, he had almost gotten off a bus when he turned around, noticed her and took the photo before the bus started to roll.
Rehabilitation doctors, a hospital in Houston, and a donor willing to finance a prosthetic arm were located in anticipation of a successful search. As the war raged on, the problem of finding her near Mosul seemed uncertain at best. But they made the trip and found her. In early 2004 they brought Asraa Mizyad and her father to Houston and she spent about two months in rehabilitation. Thrilled with a pretty good looking new arm on which to wear her first wristwatch, she is now back in school in her village.
Encouraged by success, but disappointed that so many needed help, Miller searched for cases that might be doable with limited resources.
Finally, an Iraqi doctor who knew a hotel manager who knew somebody who knew a Stanford law student from Florida whom Cole Miller had met at an event on campus, caused a connection to click between Alaa' and her mother and an Orlando, Florida, medical facility that will do Alaa's eye surgery and other treatment pro bono. Senators Boxer, Kennedy, and Congressmen Kucinich and McDermott sent letters to the US embassy in Amman to support the effort.
Alaa' was a prime candidate because she is so young, and her natural growth will help a lot if corrective work is done soon. Otherwise, she faces a rather bleak future, if she has to grow up blind in a landscape full of wounded and maimed young women and men.
Zaynab, the mother, didn't make it through the US embassy process. During an interview between a staff person and her husband, Khalid, it came out that she was 3 months pregnant. Even though the projected hospital stay was no longer than two months, her medical visa was denied.
Some work by Alan Pogue in Amman and Cole Miller in the US, exercising contacts with Doctors Without Borders, produced a nearly immediate gynecologist consult. At least her baby girl is miraculously unscathed and healthy. They think they can arrange some prenatal care, an obstetrician, and an opthalmic surgical specialist for her eyes in Amman.
Alaa' and her dad are flying to the US for Thanksgiving.
Stuart Heady is a freelance writer who designed and maintains Alan Pogue's website and lives in Tsaile, Arizona.
An Innocent Man in the Hell of Guantánamo
Go to Original
By Sara Daniel
Le Nouvel Observateur
Week of Thursday 24 November 2005 Edition
He's forgotten nothing of the pain, the humiliation, the solitude. American investigators took a year to clear him. And another year to free him. Beyond the revolting injustice to which he was victim, former journalist Bader Zaman denounces the arbitrariness of American detention centers.
He suffers from hypermnesia. It's twelve months since Bader Zaman was released from Guantánamo prison, but he remembers every detail of his detention. Not only the pain, the humiliation, the solitude, but also little things: dogs' breath, the scrape of the razor against his eyebrows, the accent of the creep who cried out over the megaphone to the other soldiers: "Don't show any sympathy for the terrorists!" He can't forget anything. Today he is free. The Americans have cleared him of all accusations against him. Yet, in Peshawar, this former journalist's liberty still remains under tight surveillance. A few weeks ago, ISI (Pakistani Secret Service) agents came back to see him again. He received them calmly: "What do I have to fear from you now? Have you found a worse hell on the earth than the one you've already thrown me into?"
To meet Bader Zaman, one must dive into the alleys of Old Peshawar. The 35-year-old journalist, who looks ten years older, has transformed himself into a trader in precious stones since his liberation. In a dark little room in the middle of the rubber tire souk, he holds his stock of lapis-lazuli from Afghanistan. Meeting a foreign woman is just not done in this city controlled by Islamists, but Bader Zaman insists on bearing witness. He doesn't really resent the Americans. According to him, the party responsible for his Calvary is the Pakistani Secret Service, which he intends to sue. "I spent two months and twenty-two days in Peshawar prison, fourteen days at Bagram, two months and eight days in Kandahar and two years and four months in Guantánamo, solely because I denounced their practices."
When he was a very young man, Bader and his brother belonged to an Afghan religious organization close to Bin Laden and al-Qaeda that fought the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. He resigned from it in 1987 to protest that organization's links with the Pakistani Secret Services. Later, he who had never touched a weapon denounced the Taliban's obscurantism in his newspaper and described them as puppets of the Pakistani Secret Services. "So they sold me to the Americans. A current practice right after the American offensive in Afghanistan," he explains. "For them, it was just a question of keeping the Americans busy with false suspects. They never stopped playing the international community."
The journalist knows the stories of all the detainees who occupied neighboring cells in Guantánamo. He mentions the taxi driver sold for $5000: "The Pakistanis had just made a raid to find Arabs close to al-Qaeda and hadn't found anybody, so they arrested him. The officer who sold him to the Americans told him: 'Look here, it's worth it to sell people like you to keep the Americans from coming to make war on Pakistan...'" He says the taxi driver is still at Guantánamo.
According to Bader, less than 20% of the detainees presently in the American prison in Cuba are real "bad guys" or Taliban officials like Mullah Fazel. But it was the Kandahar and Bagram detention centers in Afghanistan that left him with the worst memories. For twenty-four days, he was shut up in a container. Then he was forbidden to wash for three months. With a light on at all times, too tight ligatures that cut into his arms and legs, tortures. At Bagram, he saw prisoners being kicked across the ground, others hung by their hands. He also saw offenses to the Koran, which he says was the normal practice in the Kandahar detention center. It was there, by the way, that he saw the guards throw the sacred book into a bucket that was used to empty toilets.
When he arrived at Guantánamo in May 2002, Bader was placed in solitary for over a year. In the prison in Cuba, there were no physical tortures. "The prisoners frequently attacked the guards. I saw them bite Americans!" But they tried to crack the detainees morally. Like when one of the female guards touched one of them on the face, her hand smudged with what she claimed was menstrual blood - testimony corroborated by one of the Guantánamo investigators, Sergeant Erik Saar, who included that episode in a book.
For Bader, after long months of despair in which he kept repeating the same story about the Pakistani Secret Services to people who didn't want to hear any of it, the climax came. "At the end of the interrogations, Federal agents finished by telling me they didn't have anything on me. That I was cleared. But after that, I had to wait another year before leaving Guantánamo. Such a long year!
After that, the conditions of Bader's detention loosened up. He was transferred to Camp 4, a camp for prisoners who "collaborate." He traded his orange overall for a white tunic, and picnics were even organized so the prisoners could see the sea. "We were transported in a closed ambulance, chained to one another. Then we were placed between rows of barbed wire near the water. I remember seeing a ship on the sea."
Bader Zaman has only one good memory from Guantánamo: that's the arrival of his mortal enemy, the one who acted as intermediary for the Pakistani Secret Services to sell him to the Americans - who was himself, in fact, close to al-Qaeda - in the neighboring cell. All the prisoners who knew the truth booed the man. He lowered his head. "That day, I knew that I had been believed, that I could hope to leave that hell. The one who handed me over, he's still there, in the Guantánamo jail...
Who Are the Guantánamo Detainees?
The Guantánamo detention center numbers 500 detainees who, for the most part, were captured in Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001. Among the prisoners, one may find, for example, Mullah Fazel, former Taliban Defense minister, but also people who had the misfortune of finding themselves in the wrong place, like Wazir Mohamed, a taxi driver whose case Amnesty International is defending. The seven French citizens detained in the American prison have all been freed and five of them are now in prison in France. Washington continues to liberate dozens of detainees to - as Pierre Prosper, the diplomat in charge of negotiating these transfers, puts it - "share the burden" with their home countries.
The "gulag of our era," according to the shock formula used by Amnesty in its report on Guantánamo, continues to be the object of much indignation and controversy embarrassing to the American government. Washington is engaged in an arm-wrestling contest with the UN, representatives of which want to meet with all the detainees to investigate accusations of torture. The Pentagon has been forced to adjourn the trial of "Australian Taliban" David Hicks to conform to a judge's decision that the Supreme Court pronounce beforehand on the legality of exceptional military tribunals.
The CIA's Secret Prisons
Has the CIA established a network of clandestine detention centers spread across more than ten countries so they may interrogate supposed terrorists without legal or moral constraints? The "Washington Post" revealed the existence of several secret prisons in Eastern Europe. Since then, the list of countries that supposedly collaborate with the American authorities has continued to grow: Thailand, Morocco, Norway, Sweden, Italy, and Spain have been accused of harboring these centers or tolerating prisoners' transit through their territory. But up until now, only the Czech Republic has admitted rejecting an American request to implant a prison for detainees coming out of the Guantánamo base.
This network of detention centers would have been created in the months following September 11, when the idea of "prison ships" was abandoned by the CIA for "security and logistical" reasons. Then a "black site" with the code name "Salt Mine" was put in place in Afghanistan. And the CIA supposedly also closed a secret dungeon at Guantánamo.
According to the "Washington Post," there are a hundred ghost prisoners. The organization Human Rights Watch - which called them the "desaparecidos" (the disappeared), in reference to the victims of Latin American dictatorships - mentions 40 people detained in secret in its October 2004 report. For several months, voices have been raised within the CIA itself to contest the legality, and above all, the effectiveness of such prisons.
Translation: t r u t h o u t French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher.
The Betrayed Mothers of America
Thursday, 24 November 2005
We were remiss in not putting up this testimony, gathered by Robert Fisk in New York City during the recent Veteran's Day remembrances. Remember these good people whenever you see the hideous smirking rictus of Cheney or Bush defending the monstrous crime they have wrought.
From the Independent (via Information Clearing House). Excerpts:
...Sue's voice rises in indignation above the noise of the New York diner, angry and brave and drowning out the joshing of two vets at the other end of the table. "I remember very clearly my son's last words before he went back after his two weeks' vacation. 'I don't know who my enemy is,' he said. 'It's a worthless, senseless war, a war of religion. We'll never win it.' He wasn't killed. He was murdered. He was murdered by the US administration. He was out looking for IEDs. He found one, stopped his convoy and was blown up. I regard it as a suicide mission."
...Celeste's son Sherwood was killed on 26 April last year, his end as tragic as it was unnecessary. He was protecting a group of military inspectors hunting for President Bush's mythical weapons of mass destruction when a perfume factory they were searching in Baghdad suddenly exploded.
"He was getting out of the cab of his truck to help the wounded when some debris came crashing out of the sky and hit him," Celeste says..."I will always remember that my son died just a month after George W Bush made that videotape in front of the press - the one where he made a joke about looking for weapons of mass destruction and pretended to search under his desk for the weapons. He was making fun of the fact he hadn't found them - but my son died looking for them and they didn't exist."
...At the other end of our table, Alex Ryabov, who served in R Battery, 5th Battalion, 10th Marines, in the original 2003 invasion force, says he was against the war from the start, refusing to believe there were any weapons of mass destruction.
"When I got into Iraq, I saw what our artillery rounds did to people. I had to go up front to see where the rounds were falling and I saw whole Iraqi cities engulfed in flames. There were Iraqi dead on the sides of the roads - I couldn't tell if they were men or women."
...I say goodbye to this little group of brave American men and women - the ex-soldiers have no jobs, no future save their enthusiasm for their own campaign against the Iraq war - and leave their table with its sad, gold-fringed American flag and head off into the fumes and noise of Times Square. Up on a giant television screen, Vice-President Cheney - he who went on lying about the non-existent links between Saddam and 9/11 long after the invasion - is solemnly bowing his head in the Arlington cemetery. Ah yes, he is honouring the fallen. And I wonder if he will ever understand his betrayal of the men and women back on 44th Street.
U.S. lobbyist tied to Bush I and II administrations
America's new foot soldiers in Iraq: South African "genocidaires" from Namibia war.
November 26, 2005 -- Four mass graves discovered in Namibia -- genocide tied to former South African security forces who are now serving as occupation mercenaries in Iraq. Click here for Intelligence Whispers.
America's new foot soldiers in Iraq: South African "genocidaires" from Namibia war.
"Swift boating" Iraq Whistleblowers.
November 26, 2005 -- "Swift boating" Iraq Whistleblowers. The same gaggle of GOP right-wing fake, phony, and fraudulent "veterans" who savaged John Kerry, John McCain, Special Forces Lt. Col. Dan Marvin, 60 Minutes and others are now taking on Iraqi War veterans who have blown the whistle on U.S. torture of prisoners in Iraq. The latest victim of these self-appointed vigilantes is Sgt. Frank G. Ford, the 32-year veteran of military counter-intelligence and presidential security detail operations who was unceremoniously removed from Iraq strapped to a gurney after he cited several cases of prisoner abuse in Iraq. His contention is supported by fellow 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion veteran Dave DeBatto.
Enter a group called VeriSeal , a murky McLean, Virginia-based organization tied to an equally murky contractor advertising counter-terrorism/protection, intelligence, investigations, and security services.
VeriSeal claims that Ford was not entitled to wear a SEAL insignia even though Ford said he was a Navy corpsman assigned to a discontinued SEAL training program in the 1980s. Navy corpsmen are similarly assigned to Marine Corps combat units. Nevertheless, VeriSeal's accusations were quickly picked up, a la the 60 Minutes Texas Air National Guard "scanned" original documents story and the Swift Boat vets claims, by right wing web sites like FreeRepublic.com, which proceeded to trash Ford in the same manner they attacked Dan Rather and John Kerry.
VeriSeal's web site has a list of individuals it claims have wrongfully cited or have had referenced their US Navy SEAL veterans' status. Cleverly, the site mixes actual frauds with those whose whistleblower activities earn them the wrath of the organization, which apparently claims to have some sort of official access to Department of Defense military records (Naval Special Warfare Command and Naval Special Warfare Archives), access that enables it to question information contained in official discharge papers (DD-214s). The Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, California, however, does not endorse the activities of operations like VeriSeal.
The site also attacks Navy reserve Captain O.C. Smith, someone who never claimed to be a Navy SEAL but was a reserve Navy pathologist whose civilian job as Shelby County Medical Examiner put him front and center in two very suspicious deaths: the so-called "suicide" of top Harvard virologist Dr. Don C. Wiley and the murder of Tennessee driver's license examiner Katherine Smith. Dr. Smith has been the victim of a coordinated discrediting campaign because of his intimate knowledge about both suspicious deaths -- murders likely connected to criminal conspiracies involving the anthrax attacks and 911, respectively. VeriSeal also attacks former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's fellow Iraq War skeptic. The web site claims that Armitage "lied" about his own SEAL background, a contention that Armitage denies. A Wall Street Journal article features retired Navy Commander Paul Galanti runs a site similar to VeriSeal. Galanti was a leader of the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans" who questioned John Kerry's Vietnam service and the chair of John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign in Virginia.
A perusal of the principals of the VeriSeal web site and its associated firm points to a group made up of war book authors and TV and movie script writers who are selling their various "services" to the Federal government. VeriSeal is said to be a "service" of Security Enterprise Consultants as a "no cost public service." VeriSeal's principals are listed as Charles Pfarrer, author of "Warrior Soul; The Memoir of a Navy SEAL" and Hollywood screenwriter identified with "The Jackal," (Bruce Willis, Richard Gere) "Navy SEAL," (Charlie Sheen, Bill Paxton) and "Darkman;" Marvel comic book hero movie starring Liam Neeson) and Steve Waterman, author of "Just a Sailor: A Navy Diver's Story of Photography, Salvage, and Combat." VeriSeal is run by retired Senior Chief Kent Dillingham who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
VeriSeal's corporate "sponsor," Security Enterprise Consultants, claims it is a "'post-service only' organization comprised exclusively of veteran government and military personnel with ten or more years of operational experience." It lists a partner called Special Ops Associates, Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, FL that provides special security services in Afghanistan. The Fort Lauderdale firm also runs http://www.maritimesecurity.org/. Although its VeriSeal crew is heavily laden with book authors and TV and movie script writers, the company maintains a "No Media" policy applying to "printed press, television, and motion picture projects." Its web site also has a "special access" required page. One of its advertised offerings is "repatriation services."
... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend...
We woke up yesterday morning to this news: Sunni tribal leader and his sons shot dead.
“Gunmen in Iraqi army uniforms shot dead an aging Sunni tribal leader and three of his sons in their beds on Wednesday, relatives said…”
Except when you read it on the internet, it’s nothing like seeing scenes of it on television. They showed the corpses and the family members- an elderly woman wailing and clawing at her face and hair and screaming that soldiers from the Ministry of Interior had killed her sons. They shot them in front of their mother, wives and children… Even when they slaughter sheep, they take them away from the fold so that the other sheep aren’t terrorized by the scene.
In war, you think the unthinkable. You imagine the unimaginable. When you can’t get to sleep at night, your mind wanders to cover various possibilities. Trying to guess and determine the future of a war-torn nation is nearly impossible, so your mind focuses on the more tangible- friends… Near and distant relations. I think that during these last two and a half years, every single Iraqi inside of Iraq has considered the possibility of losing one or more people in the family. I try to imagine losing the people I love most in the world- whether it’s the possibility of having them buried under the rubble… or the possibility of having them brutally murdered by extremists… or blown to bits by a car bomb… or abducted for ransom… or brutally shot at a checkpoint. All disturbing possibilities.
I try to imagine what would happen to me, personally, should this occur. How long would it take for the need for revenge to settle in? How long would it take to be recruited by someone who looks for people who have nothing to lose? People who lost it all to one blow. What I think the world doesn’t understand is that people don’t become suicide bombers because- like the world is told- they get seventy or however many virgins in paradise. People become suicide bombers because it is a vengeful end to a life no longer worth living- a life probably violently stripped of its humanity by a local terrorist- or a foreign soldier.
I hate suicide bombers. I hate the way my heart beats chaotically every time I pass by a suspicious-looking car- and every car looks suspicious these days. I hate the way Sunni mosques and Shia mosques are being targeted right and left. I hate seeing the bodies pile up in hospitals, teeth clenched in pain, wailing men and women…
But I completely understand how people get there.
One victim was holding his daughter. "The gunmen told the girl to move then shot the father," said a relative.
Would anyone be surprised if the abovementioned daughter grew up with a hate so vicious and a need for revenge so large, it dominated everything else in her life?
Or three days ago when American and Iraqi troops fired at a family traveling from one city to another, killing five members of the family.
"They are all children. They are not terrorists," shouted one relative. "Look at the children," he said as a morgue official carried a small dead child into a refrigeration room.
Who needs Al-Qaeda to recruit 'terrorists' when you have Da’awa, SCIRI and an American occupation?
The Iraqi Ministry of Interior is denying it all, of course. Just like they’ve been denying the whole Jadriya torture house incident and all of their other assassinations and killing sprees. They've gone so far as to claim that the Americans are lying about the Jadriya torture house.
In the last three weeks, at least six different prominent doctors/professors have been assassinated. Some of them were Shia and some of them were Sunni- some were former Ba’athists and others weren’t. The only thing they have in common is the fact that each of them played a prominent role in Iraqi universities prior to the war: Dr. Haykal Al-Musawi, Dr. Ra'ad Al-Mawla (biologist), Dr. Sa'ad Al-Ansari, Dr. Mustafa Al-Heeti (pediatrician), Dr. Amir Al-Khazraji, and Dr.Mohammed Al-Jaza'eri (surgeon).
I don’t know the details of all the slayings. I knew Dr. Ra’ad Al-Mawla- he was a former professor and department head in the science college of Baghdad University- Shia. He was a quiet man- a gentleman one could always approach with a problem. He was gunned down in his office, off campus. What a terrible loss.
Another professor killed earlier this month was the head of the pharmacy college. He had problems with Da’awa students earlier in the year. After Ja’afari et al. won in the elections, their followers in the college wanted to have a celebration in the college. Sensing it would lead to trouble, he wouldn’t allow any festivities besides the usual banners. He told them it was a college for studying and learning and to leave politics out of it. Some students threatened him- there were minor clashes in the college. He was killed around a week ago- maybe more.
Whoever is behind the assassinations, Iraq is quickly losing its educated people. More and more doctors and professors are moving to leave the country.
The problem with this situation is not just major brain drain- it's the fact that this diminishing educated class is also Iraq's secular class…
Families seek court inquiry into Iraq war
They say they want to determine whether Prime Minister Tony Blair took the country to war "based on a series of lies," the London Independent said.
The families, expected to number about 20, say they believe the decision to go to war because Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction was "based on a series of lies" and was "an illegal act."
Rabinder Singh, representing the bereaved families, asked Justice Collins to grant permission for a ground-breaking legal challenge against a government refusal in May to hold an "effective, independent public inquiry."
The judge said he would rule later.
The British combat toll stands at 98.
Taliban's letter with the body: 'India, stop work, we fighting America':
15,000 hepatitis cases reported in Baghdad neighborhood:
The investigation shows dramatic increases not only in hepatitis, a serious disease of the liver, but also in cases of major communicable diseases
Doubts Now Surround Account of Snipers Amid New Orleans Chaos
By James Rainey
A teenager critically wounded that day, speaking about the incident for the first time, said in an interview that police shot him for no reason, delivering a final bullet at point-blank range with what he thought was an assault rifle. Members of another family said one of those killed was mentally disabled, a childlike innocent who made a rare foray from home in a desperate effort to find relief from the flood.
Mainstream journalism is the voice of rampant power
By John Pilger
11/25/05 "ICH" -- -- The Indian writer Vandana Shiva has called for an "insurrection of subjugated knowledge." The insurrection is well under way. In trying to make sense of a dangerous world, millions of people are turning away from the traditional sources of news and information and to the World Wide Web, convinced that mainstream journalism is the voice of rampant power. The great scandal of Iraq has accelerated this. In the United States, several senior broadcasters have confessed that had they challenged and exposed the lies told about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, instead of amplifying and justifying them, the invasion might not have happened.
Such honesty has yet to cross the Atlantic. Since it was founded in 1922, the BBC has served to protect every British establishment during war and civil unrest. "We" never traduce and never commit great crimes. So the omission of shocking events in Iraq – the destruction of cities, the slaughter of innocent people, and the farce of a puppet government – is routinely applied. A study by the Cardiff School of Journalism found that 90 per cent of the BBC's references to Saddam Hussein's WMD suggested he possessed them and that "spin from the British and U.S. governments was successful in framing the coverage." The same "spin" has ensured, until now, that the use of banned weapons by the Americans and British in Iraq has been suppressed as news.
An admission by the U.S. State Department on Nov. 10 that its forces had used white phosphorus in Fallujah followed "rumors on the Internet," according to the BBC's Newsnight. There were no rumors. There was first-class investigative work that ought to shame well-paid journalists. Mark Kraft of .http://www.insomnia.livejournal.com/comfound the evidence in the March-April 2005 issue of Field Artillery magazine and other sources. He was supported by the work of filmmaker Gabriele Zamparini, founder of the excellent site http://www.thecatsdream.com/.
Last May, David Edwards and David Cromwell of MediaLens.org posted a revealing correspondence with Helen Boaden, the BBC's director of news. They had asked her why the BBC had remained silent on known atrocities committed by the Americans in Fallujah. She replied, "Our correspondent in Fallujah at the time [of the U.S. attack], Paul Wood, did not report any of these things because he did not see any of these things." It is a statement to savor. Wood was "embedded" with the Americans. He interviewed none of the victims of American atrocities nor unembedded journalists. He not only missed the Americans' use of white phosphorus, which they now admit, he reported nothing of the use of another banned weapon, napalm. Thus, BBC viewers were unaware of the fine words of Col. James Alles, commander of the U.S. Marine Air Group II. "We napalmed both those bridge approaches," he said. "Unfortunately, there were people there … you could see them in the cockpit video. … It's no great way to die. The generals love napalm. It has a big psychological effect."
Once the unacknowledged work of Mark Kraft and Gabriele Zamparini had appeared in the Guardian and Independent and forced the Americans to come clean about white phosphorous, Wood was on Newsnight describing their admission as "a public relations disaster for the U.S." This echoed Menzies Campbell of the Liberal Democrats, perhaps the most quoted politician since Gladstone, who said, "The use of this weapon may technically have been legal, but its effects are such that it will hand a propaganda victory to the insurgency."
The BBC and most of the British political and media establishment invariably cast such a horror as a public relations problem while minimizing the crushing of a city the size of Leeds, the killing and maiming of countless men, women, and children, the expulsion of thousands and the denial of medical supplies, food, and water – a major war crime.
The evidence is voluminous, provided by refugees, doctors, human rights groups, and a few courageous foreigners whose work appears only on the Internet. In April last year, Jo Wilding, a young British law student, filed a series of extraordinary eyewitness reports from inside the city. So fine are they I have included one of her pieces in an anthology of the best investigative journalism. Her film, A Letter to the Prime Minister, made inside Fallujah with Julia Guest, has not been shown on British television. In addition, Dahr Jamail, an independent Lebanese-American journalist who has produced some of the best front-line reporting I have read, described all the "things" the BBC failed to "see." His interviews with doctors, local officials, and families are on the Internet, together with the work of those who have exposed the widespread use of uranium-tipped shells, another banned weapon, and cluster bombs, which Campbell would say are "technically legal." Try these Web sites: http://www.dahrjamailiraq.com/, http://www.zmag.org/, http://www.antiwar.com/, http://www.truthout.org/, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/, http://www.counterpunch.org/ http://www.voicesuk.org/.There are many more.
"Each word," wrote Jean-Paul Sartre, "has an echo. So does each silence."
"Tell Me No Lies: investigative journalism and its triumphs", edited by John Pilger, is published by Vintage.
This article was first published in the New Statesman - www.newstatesman.co.uk
Indictment Portrays Padilla as Minor Figure in a Plot
Among the overt acts that the government says demonstrate his participation in the conspiracy is his 1996 application for a passport.
The Power of Nightmares -
America’s “Shake and Bake” in Iraq
The U.S. claimed in the run up to Iraq war that the main reason for the invasion is protecting America and the world against the imminent threat of the Weapons of Mass Destruction owned by the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, if they U.S. is that aware of the grieve danger of those weapons, why is it using them in Iraq then?
Saddam’s alleged WMD were never found, but the very same murderous weapons have been used by the occupation forces that came to protect the Iraqi nation.
It’s been revealed last week, on this website as well as on other reputable news agencies that the U.S. occupying Army used white phosphorus against in the Iraqi city of Fallujah during its large scale offensive in 2004.
Also the U.S. Department of Defence admitted using incendiary white-phosphorus munitions in a 2004 offensive on Fallujah.
Army Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, denied the reports claiming that the U.S. military had not used the highly flammable weapons against civilians.
But Bryan Whitman, another Pentagon spokesman said that "it's part of our conventional-weapons inventory and we use it like we use any other conventional weapon".
According to Reuters, white phosphorus is defined as "a colorless or yellowish translucent wax-like substance that smells a bit like garlic [and which] ignites easily in air at temperatures of about 86 degrees F. Its fire can be difficult to extinguish."
“Let me give it to you straight: This was the stuff that the Allies dropped on Dresden, Hamburg and Tokyo during World War II, intending to kill civilians. And it worked – hundreds of thousands innocent civilians died in hellacious firestorms created by bombings that have permanently besmirched the otherwise noble Allied efforts during that war. In fact, when white phosphorus comes in contact with human flesh, it is virtually impossible to extinguish until the flesh is consumed in unimaginable agony to the victim…” Ellen Ranter says in an editorial published on WordNetDaily.
The 1983 Convention on the Prohibition of Use of Certain Conventional Weapons bans using White Phosphorus "against military targets within concentrations of civilians." The only time that white phosphorus is permitted is when "military targets within concentrations of civilians are clearly separated from civilians and 'all feasible precautions' are taken to avoid civilian casualties."
Although the United States is a signatory to the 1983 Convention, it has not ratified Protocol III which involves restrictions against these kind of incendiary weapons.
Asked whether the U.S. military used the weapons in a manner consistent with the conventional weapons convention, Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, said that "White phosphorous weapons should not be used just like any other conventional weapon".
The Iraqi city of Fallujah was inhabited by about approximately 350,000 people before the U.S. invading troops set foot in the country- After the occupation, and November offensive last year, the population had decreased to some 200,000.
The technique involved was nicknamed "Shake and Bake," with explosive rounds containing white phosphorus being fired at what the U.S. claimed at that time are rebels positions, Ellen Ranter says in her article, adding that “it’s important to note that in Fallujah those positions are actually houses and mosques, both containing large numbers of innocent civilians.
Once the smoke and fire generated by the white phosphorus forced out the inhabitants, high explosive artillery rounds were fired into the position, killing anyone who happened to be nearby. That is, anyone whose flesh wasn't already on fire from the white phosphorus. In that case, dying instantly from an artillery round would be something like a mercy killing”.
The Fallujah massacre resembles the atrocities committed by the Nazis against the occupied people of Europe, stated the World Socialist Web Site. The Administration’s plot was killing as many people as possible and destroying the city to intimidate the rest of the Iraqi nation into accepting the reduction of Iraq to a client-state of U.S. imperialism.
And indeed, the U.S. media has played a brutal criminal role in serving this agenda. Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and New York Times all called for and endorsed the assault on Fallujah, according to WSW.
The mayhem taking place in Iraq needs more than immediate political action, it embodies the incompatibility between the interests of the vast mass of the world’s population and imperialism, in which some of the world superpowers dominate the globe’s economic and political life.
US ran prison camp in Kosovo: report
26 November 2005 THE US military ran a Guantanamo Bay-type detention centre in Kosovo as an investigation by the organisation into alleged CIA-run secret prisons gathered pace.
Heres the real laughing stock of Katrina
Laughing stock of Katrina (Brownie) makes disaster his business (Guardian)
(Michael Brown: "Laughing stock", "man-made calamity", "a national joke," God, I love The Guardian!)
Laughing stock of Katrina makes disaster his business
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Saturday November 26, 2005
Michael Brown, the bureaucrat who headed America's response to Hurricane Katrina and himself became a symbol of man-made calamity, is going into the disaster management business. He is setting up as a consultant, marketing his expertise on coping with catastrophe - natural and self-made.
"Look, Hurricane Katrina showed how bad disasters can be, and there's an incredible need for individuals and businesses to understand how important preparedness is," Mr Brown told the Rocky Mountain News. "So if I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses - because that goes straight to the bottom line - then I hope I can help the country in some way."
He plans to base his business in the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado, which is unlikely to suffer a hurricane in the near future, and claims to have already signed up clients for his new venture. As director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he became a national joke soon after Katrina made landfall. As stories emerged of hellish conditions at evacuee shelters, and images of poor, mostly black citizens of New Orleans begging for food hit television screens, Mr Brown seemed eerily detached.
In television interviews the Fema director said he was unaware that hundreds of people were marooned at the New Orleans convention centre. "Don't you guys watch television?" the exasperated anchor asked