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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Michael O'Hanlon Versus the Troops: Battle of the Op-Eds

Two days ago, I pointed our readers to a New York Times op-ed written by seven active duty American soldiers in Iraq. The soldiers argued the surge isn't working and that "four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise." Their call for withdrawal was a direct rebuke of Michael O'Hanlon and his recently-stated pro-surge views. Witness the opening line of O'Hanlon's pro-war op-ed ("A War We Just Might Win"):
Viewed from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel... the political debate in Washington is surreal.
Oh, and as to why the troops writing in the Times might not be impressed with the surge's so-called "success," maybe it has something to do with the fact that this summer has been the deadliest summer of the war for American troops.
June-July-August 2003: 113 Americans killed
June-July-August 2004: 162 Americans killed
June-July-August 2005: 217 Americans killed
June-July-August 2006: 169 Americans killed
June-July-August 2007: 229 Americans killed so far
Fortune's Peter Eavis writes: "In a clear sign that the credit crunch is still affecting the nation's largest financial institutions, the Federal Reserve agreed this week to bend key banking regulations to help out Citigroup and Bank of America, according to documents posted Friday on the Fed's website."
In Consortium News, Robert Parry writes: "Defense Secretary Robert Gates may be confronting the career decision of a lifetime: Should the former CIA director lash himself to the mast with George W. Bush and risk going down with the foundering Iraq War ship or should he look to a post-Bush period and position himself as a Washington wise man?"
According to The Associated Press, several whistleblowers have suffered harrowing consequences - ranging from ridicule, to loss of employment, to imprisonment and interrogation in a Baghdad compound - for their decision to report corruption and fraud in Iraq.

Lucidly Insane...

An Arab Woman Blues - Reflections in a sealed bottle...
Sometimes, when I hear news about the current "political" scene in Iraq, I don't know whether I should laugh or cry. Sometimes, I do both, simultaneously. Cry and laugh.
Someone remarked on some blog, that Layla Anwar is starting to have a crazy twist to her, crazy notes...
Starting, only starting ? Oh no, am not starting, I'm already crazy.
A lucid insanity. Horrible thing, this lucid insanity.
A few articles have appeared as of late, in both the Western and Middle eastern press, discussing who can be a possible "alternative" to Al- Maliki, since this latter is being described by most Iraqis as a Dictator.
Someone, who is after his own interests, the interests of his sect, and his party. Well, one wing of his party, the Dawah party. Because the other wing of the party belongs to Al Jaafari, and yet another wing belongs to Muqtada al Sadr...Many wings to one party.
May they all fly away soon. Amen.
So we have a Dictator now, Al-Maliki. Am I missing something here?
Four years of genocide and destruction so we can have a Dictator ruling a "Democracy"?
Wait, it gets better...
And now most Iraqis not only prefer a secular government but would like to see a "Strong Man" capable of holding the country together and restore some basic services, like water, electricity, security, infrastructure...the whole bloody thing.
But I thought we did have a strong man keeping the country together did we not?
And he was deposed and murdered by America and Iran.
Wait, wait, it gets even better...
A potential alternative to the weakling dictator, Al- Maliki, is guess whom?
Muqtada al Sadr! The psychopath. The boy who never made it through high school, the guy in jeans who was hooked on billiard, and harassed girls in the street.
This guy is now made to look as the "patriotic", "strong", "Iraqi", "man" who will save Iraq !

AP: Iraq Body Count Running Double 2006 Pace

AP Steven R. Hurst August 25, 2007 05:08 PM
This year's U.S. troop buildup has succeeded in bringing violence in Baghdad down from peak levels, but the death toll from sectarian attacks around the country is running nearly double the pace from a year ago.
Some of the recent bloodshed appears the result of militant fighters drifting into parts of northern Iraq, where they have fled after U.S.-led offensives. Baghdad, however, still accounts for slightly more than half of all war-related killings -- the same percentage as a year ago,...

Why Cheney Really Is That Bad

By Scott Ritter
The vice president is the single greatest threat to American and international security in the world today. Not Osama Bin Laden. Not the ghost of Saddam Hussein. Not Ahmadinejad or Kim Jung Il. Not al-Qaida, the Taliban, or Jose Padilla himself. Not even George W. Bush can lay claim to this title. It is Dick Cheney's alone.

APA Interrogation Task Force Member Dr. Jean Maria Arrigo Exposes Group’s Ties to Military

Dr. Jean Maria Arrigo was one of three civilian members of an APA task force that concluded psychologists were playing a “valuable and ethical role” in assisting the military. It was later revealed that that six of nine voting members were from the military and intelligence agencies with direct connections to interrogations at Guantanamo and elsewhere. At this weekend’s annual convention Dr. Arrigo exposed the inner workings of the group in an extraordinary speech. [includes rush transcript]

Shame and Infamy upon APA.

Whistleblowers on Fraud are Jailed and Tortured

Fri Aug 24, 2007 at 08:42:04 PM PDT
Men and women who step forward to report massive fraud in the reconstruction of Iraq are being villified, demoted, fired and tortured states an article from the Associated Press posted on Forbes.
For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.
There were times, huddled on the floor in solitary confinement with that head-banging music blaring dawn to dusk and interrogators yelling the same questions over and over, that Vance began to wish he had just kept his mouth shut.

EXCLUSIVE: An Inside Look at How U.S. Interrogators Destroyed the Mind of Jose Padilla

Listen to Segment Download Show mp3

In a Democracy Now! national broadcast exclusive, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Angela Hegarty speaks for the first time about her experience interviewing Jose Padilla for 22 hours to determine the state of his mental health. Padilla is the U.S. citizen who was classified by President Bush as an enemy combatant and held in extreme isolation at a naval brig in South Carolina for over three-and-a-half years. His case is now before a Florida jury. "What happened at the brig was essentially the destruction of a human being's mind," said Dr. Hegarty. "[Padilla's] personality was deconstructed and reformed." She said the effects of the extreme isolation on Padilla are consistent with brain damage. "I don't know if he's guilty or not of the charges that they brought against him," said Dr. Hegarty. "But, already - before he was ever found guilty - he's paid a tremendous price for his trip to the Middle East." [includes rush transcript]



US President George W. Bush signaled Saturday his unwillingness to consider early US troop reductions in Iraq,

"We cannot expect the new strategy we are carrying out to bring success overnight," the president concluded. "But by standing with the Iraqi people as they build their democracy, we will deliver a devastating blow to Al-Qaeda, we will help provide new hope for millions of people throughout the Middle East, we will gain a friend and ally in the war on terror, and we will make the American people safer."

How is it done?

How do you screw the taxpayer for millions, get away with it and then ride off into the sunset with one middle finger extended, the other wrapped around a chilled martini? Ask Earnest O. Robbins -- he knows all about being a successful contractor in Iraq.

The Great Iraq Swindle

Posted Aug 23, 2007 8:51 AM
Page 1 2 3 4 5
How is it done? How do you screw the taxpayer for millions, get away with it and then ride off into the sunset with one middle finger extended, the other wrapped around a chilled martini? Ask Earnest O. Robbins -- he knows all about being a successful contractor in Iraq.
You start off as a well-connected bureaucrat: in this case, as an Air Force civil engineer, a post from which Robbins was responsible for overseeing 70,000 servicemen and contractors, with an annual budget of $8 billion. You serve with distinction for thirty-four years, becoming such a military all-star that the Air Force frequently sends you to the Hill to testify before Congress -- until one day in the summer of 2003, when you retire to take a job as an executive for Parsons, a private construction company looking to do work in Iraq.
Now you can finally move out of your dull government housing on Bolling Air Force Base and get your wife that dream home you've been promising her all these years. The place on Park Street in Dunn Loring, Virginia, looks pretty good -- four bedrooms, fireplace, garage, 2,900 square feet, a nice starter home in a high-end neighborhood full of spooks, think-tankers and ex-apparatchiks moved on to the nest-egg phase of their faceless careers. On October 20th, 2003, you close the deal for $775,000 and start living that private-sector good life.
A few months later, in March 2004, your company magically wins a contract from the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq to design and build the Baghdad Police College, a facility that's supposed to house and train at least 4,000 police recruits. But two years and $72 million later, you deliver not a functioning police academy but one of the great engineering clusterfucks of all time, a practically useless pile of rubble so badly constructed that its walls and ceilings are literally caked in shit and piss, a result of subpar plumbing in the upper floors.
You've done such a terrible job, in fact, that when auditors from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction visit the college in the summer of 2006, their report sounds like something out of one of the Saw movies: "We witnessed a light fixture so full of diluted urine and feces that it would not operate," they write, adding that "the urine was so pervasive that it had permanently stained the ceiling tiles" and that "during our visit, a substance dripped from the ceiling onto an assessment team member's shirt." The final report helpfully includes a photo of a sloppy brown splotch on the outstretched arm of the unlucky auditor.
When Congress gets wind of the fias­co, a few members on the House Oversight Committee demand a hearing. To placate them, your company decides to send you to the Hill -- after all, you're a former Air Force major general who used to oversee this kind of contracting operation for the government. So you take your twenty-minute ride in from the suburbs, sit down before the learned gentlemen of the committee and promptly get asked by an irritatingly eager Maryland congressman named Chris Van Hollen how you managed to spend $72 million on a pile of shit.
You blink. Fuck if you know. "I have some conjecture, but that's all it would be" is your deadpan answer.
The room twitters in amazement. It's hard not to applaud the balls of a man who walks into Congress short $72 million in taxpayer money and offers to guess where it all might have gone.

What the Bush administration has created in Iraq is a sort of paradise of perverted capitalism, where revenues are forcibly extracted from the customer by the state, and obscene profits are handed out not by the market but by an unaccountable government bureauc­racy.
Rolling Stone: an article that could end the war
by occams hatchet
Sat Aug 25, 2007 at 01:38:52 PM PDT
I have long believed that the invasion and occupation of Iraq represented, not the signal failure of the BushCheney administration, but rather the successful realization of the right wing corporatocracy's greatest fantasy: The redirection of a huge portion of the United States treasury to the pockets of Big Business, conducted with the active support and full power of the federal government and almost completely unfettered by oversight of any kind whatsoever.
And don't let any rightwinger try to tell you that Iraq is an experiment in "pure laissez-faire capitalism"; it is far from that. Iraq is, purely and simply, the theft of billions and billions of tax dollars, aided and abetted by the criminal conspirators of the BushCheney administration at nearly every level. In contrast to pure laissez-faire capitalism, which eschews the involvement of government, the thievery in Iraq - and its concomitant Croesus-like enrichment of scores of big corporations - would not be possible without the direct and illegal participation of the BushCheney administration.
occams hatchet's diary
In short, Iraq is a huge profit center for Global Corporation, Inc., and George Bush and Dick Cheney are the Senior Vice Presidents of the United States Government Division of that money-making concern.
An article in the current issue of Rolling Stone does the best job I have ever seen anywhere in laying out in nauseating detail the workings of this criminal money-laundering scheme that some people have called "the Iraq War." In it, Matt Taibbi descends into - quite literally - the fecal underbelly of the world of Iraq war profiteering. Giving example after infuriating example, Taibbi relentlessly pushes the needle on his readers' Outrage Meters harder and harder against the peg, until finally one cannot read anymore without leaping up from one's chair and screaming out in sheer, visceral, well, outrage.

Greek leader suggests political extremists set fires

ATHENS, Greece (CNN) -- Fires in southern Greece that have razed dozens of villages and killed at least 44 people may have been deliberately set ahead of next month's national elections, the prime minister suggested Saturday.
Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis declared a nationwide state of emergency Saturday night. He also turned to European Union allies, which have promised help.
Emergency crews pulled charred bodies from homes and local media reported death tolls of up to 50 people.
Iraq Political Crisis Deepens: Secular Cabinet Members To Formally Resign
Washington Post Megan Greenwell August 24, 2007 10:52 PM
The Iraqi National List, an umbrella group of several political parties composed of secular Sunnis and Shiites, had boycotted cabinet meetings since Aug. 7 because of frustrations with what they saw as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's divisive leadership style. The party, headed by former prime minister Ayad Allawi, will now submit the official resignations, National List member Iyad Jamal al-Deen said.
"We have sent several letters to the prime minister asking for a discussion that would keep us in the government,...

The Swell of Boycott

John Pilger
From a limestone hill rising above Qalandia refugee camp you can see Jerusalem. I watched a lone figure standing there in the rain, his son holding the tail of his long tattered coat. He extended his hand and did not let go. 'I am Ahmed Hamzeh, street entertainer,’ he said in measured English. Over there, I played many musical instruments. I sang in Arabic, English and Hebrew, and because I was rather poor, my very small son would chew gum while the monkey did its tricks. When we lost our country, we lost respect. One day a rich Kuwaiti stopped his car in front of us. He shouted at my son, 'Show me how a Palestinian picks up his food rations!’ So I made the monkey appear to scavenge on the ground, in the gutter. And my son scavenged with him. The Kuwaiti threw coins and my son crawled on his knees to pick them up. This was not right; I was an artist, not a beggar … I am not even a peasant now....
continua / continued


Desert Peace
Many times I ask myself what the Jewish people learned while living in Eastern Europe during World War Two. The answer I come up with is so different from what is actually happening today to Palestinians living under the occupation of Israel. An occupation so similar to the nazi occupation of Europe, with one big difference, the victims of yesterday are the oppressors of today....

That "Oriental thang" ...

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues - Reflections in a sealed bottle...
...People of America, I have news for you. This is hell let loose. There is no tight here. All is flowing. Blood is flowing, lives are flowing... Tight bodies are flowing. All is flowing...in one huge flood, in one huge hurricane, that will embrace you, embrace your "tight" hearts and equally "tight" minds... This is no Katrina, no Dean...This is the Iraqi hurricane... The hurricane of the little boy on the boulevard, the hurricane of the 14 years old girl that was "Awww so tight"... the hurricane of the desperate, lost, " hajji"... And this is the Arab woman you can't identify with. She is here. Typing away... And reminding you of the flood that will soon engulf you...

Iraq on the brink

Al-Ahram Weekly
The US seems unable to handpick an Iraqi government capable of implementing its core strategic plans for Iraq, including the privatisation of Iraqi oil. Ever more, the national unity of Iraqis exposes as propaganda the twin discourses of sectarian strife and approaching civil war. The key target audience has left the theatre, but the actors still perform. How long can President George Bush ignore the reality that he faces the resistance of an entire nation? The neo-cons in Washington appear to have set their hopes on handing the Iraq disaster to the Democrats. But a week is a long time in politics, and a year and half is an eternity...
continua / continued


Allen L Roland's Radio Weblog
As Bush blindly tries to ward off the looming failure of his illegal war and occupation of Iraq he turns to an analogy with Vietnam which is quite ironic in that both wars were illegal acts of pre-emptive aggression unsanctioned by international law or world opinion and both were built on a foundation of lies and deception: Allen L Roland. Isn't it ironic that a President who did everything he could to avoid the Vietnam war, even to the extent of going AWOL from his Air Force unit in the last year of his reserve duty, is now attempting to use Vietnam as his self serving crutch in attempting to justify the catastrophic failure of his illegal war and occupation of Iraq ~ ignoring the fact that both wars were illegal acts of pre-emptive aggression unsanctioned by international law or world opinion and both were built on a foundation of lies and deception...

Bipartisan Paradise: Liberals, Bush Unite in Ethnic Cleansing of Iraq

Chris Floyd , Empire Burlesque
...While Bush pursues ethnic cleansing by stealth in Iraq -- or rather, pursues it quite openly, but just doesn't call it ethnic cleansing -- the Democrats and their outriders, the "liberal hawks" (or "humanitarian interventionists" or "Wilsonian idealists" or whatever tag they're wearing these days) are championing the policy in the public sphere. The idea of a three-way split of Iraq between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds has long been mooted in some quarters -- Joe Biden and "liberal" intellectuals like Leslie Gelb and Peter Galbraith were early enthusiasts -- and it is now gaining force within the foreign policy "clerisy" that Glenn Greenwald and Arthur Silber have been dissecting in recent days (...) Visser takes aim at one of the most hideous of these proposals: "The Case for Soft Partition in Iraq," by respected "scholars" Michael O'Hanlon (see A Tiny Revolution for more on this fine mind of our time) and Edward Joseph. When I first read of these gentlemen's work, I thought it must surely be a parody, a take-off on the deadly serious, genocidal fantasies of Philip Atkinson, who, on a website hardwired to the rightwing power grid of Frank Gaffney, James Woolsey and Dick Cheney, called for Bush to nuke Iraq, repopulate it with Americans and declare himself President-for-Life. The O-Hanlon-Joseph piece for the highly respectable Brookings Institution partakes of that same kind of murderous fantasy...

Friday, August 24, 2007

The powerhouse Republican firm retained by Allawi is Barbour, Griffith, & Rogers (BGR),

Allawi Pays $300k for Anti-Maliki US Campaign
Bush's Former Envoy to Iraq is Top US Lobbyist for Key Iraqi Critic of Iraqi PM
Documents obtained by IraqSlogger show Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki's chief Iraqi opponent, Ayad Allawi, is paying Washington lobbyists with close ties to the White House $300,000 to help with Allawi's efforts in the U.S. to promote himself and undermine Maliki.
The powerhouse Republican firm retained by Allawi is Barbour, Griffith, & Rogers (BGR), and its BGR International unit is headed by President's Bush's one-time White House point man on Iraq, Robert Blackwill, who will lead the lobbying efforts on Allawi's behalf.
Allawi signed the BGR lobbying contract with Blackwill, who served as Presidential Envoy to Iraq in 2004 when Allawi was appointed the country's interim prime minister with the U.S. government's blessing.

Shaping the Bush administration's message on the Iraq war has taken on new fervor,

Pentagon Building Rapid Response War Information Room
AP LOLITA C. BALDOR August 24, 2007 04:40 PM
Shaping the Bush administration's message on the Iraq war has taken on new fervor, just as anticipation is building for the September progress report from top military advisers.
For the Pentagon, getting out Iraq information will now include a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week Iraq Communications Desk that will pump out data from Baghdad _ serving as what could be considered a campaign war room.

Living With Terror

"Living With Terror is a three-part series by senior Age writers in Australia and overseas that explores the worldwide terrorist threat, how it shapes our lives today, and what the future might hold. Looking across the globe and into our back yard, these articles chart the response - successes and mistakes - to extremists who fight for a cause many in the west fail to understand."
Posted by: woz at August 24, 2007 10:02 PM

Friday, August 24. 2007
I received a lot of emails from people wanting to help after hearing the story of 5 year old Youssif being brutally set on fire in Iraq.GOOD NEWS - The Children's Burn Foundation is bringing Youssif to the US for treatment.
You can donate to help cover the cost of travel and more than a years worth of surgeries that will help this young boy get his life back.
scroll down from the 'general donation' box to 'Youssif's fund'
Posted by Jeff Farias at 10:23
Friday, August 24. 2007
I received a lot of emails from people wanting to help after hearing the story of 5 year old Youssif being brutally set on fire in Iraq.GOOD NEWS - The Children's Burn Foundation is bringing Youssif to the US for treatment.
You can donate to help cover the cost of travel and more than a years worth of surgeries that will help this young boy get his life back.
scroll down from the 'general donation' box to 'Youssif's fund'
Posted by Jeff Farias at 10:23

Fifty-five percent of young, white evangelicals self-identified as Republican in 2005, while in 2007, only 37 percent consider themselves members of t

"The first time I broke ranks with the right it was about the environment," Rhodes said. "What good was it to the unborn if my Republican votes saved them from the abortion clinics, only to deliver them into a resource-scraped world of want, devoid of wild places?"

Evangelicals Go Green -- Will Conservative Candidates Follow Suit?

Some Christians Lead the Charge in Environmental PolicyEvangelical Christians are getting religion on the environment, and it may shift their allegiance away from Republican candidates. Nearly one-quarter of the nation's voters are evangelical Christians, and since the 1980s most of them have endorsed Republican candidates. They helped elect President George Bush to a second term, constituting more than one-third of his votes in 2004.
But today some evangelicals are saying their votes can't be taken for granted. Looking beyond traditional litmus test issues such as abortion or gay marriage, some young Christians say they are no longer calling themselves Republican.
Authorities find weapons, signs of struggle, apparent double-murder, suicide.

Help find the truth about the death of Pfc. LaVena Johnson

(Scroll down to sign petition.)
Once upon a time lived a young woman from a St. Louis suburb. She was an honor roll student, she played the violin, she donated blood and volunteered for American Heart Association walks. She elected to put off college for a while and joined the Army once out of school. At Fort Campbell, KY, she was assigned as a weapons supply manager to the 129th Corps Support Battalion.
She was LaVena Johnson, private first class, and she died near Balad, Iraq, on July 19, 2005, just eight days shy of her twentieth birthday. She was the first woman soldier from Missouri to die while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The tragedy of her story begins there.
After an investigation, the Army declared LaVena's death a suicide, a finding refuted by the soldier's family. In an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Lavena’s father pointed to indications that his daughter had endured a physical struggle before she died - two loose front teeth, a "busted lip" that had to be reconstructed by the funeral home - suggesting that "someone might have punched her in the mouth."
The military said that the matter was closed.
Little more on LaVena's death was said for many months until a recently televised report on KMOV in St. Louis disclosed troubling details not previously made public:
Indications of physical abuse that went unremarked by the autopsy
The absence of psychological indicators of suicidal thoughts; indeed, testimony that LaVena was happy and healthy prior to her death
Indications, via residue tests, that LaVena may not even have handled the weapon that killed her
A blood trail outside the tent where Lavena's body was found
Indications that someone attenpted to set LaVena's body on fire
And yet, the Army continues to resist calls by LaVena’s family and by local media to reopen its investigation.
We have seen with other military deaths that the Army has engaged in an insulting game of deny and delay when it comes to uncovering embarrassing facts. Only when public and official attention is brought to bear on the matter - as happened, eventually and with great effort, with the case of Army Ranger and former professional football player Cpl. Pat Tillman - do unpleasant truths come to light.
While it is possible to disagree generally over the war in Iraq, we are unified in our respect for the men and women who serve us in dangerous places, and in our concern for the families who give them up in our name. The very least we owe families of the fallen is an honest accounting of how their loved ones died.
The Armed Services Committees of the Senate and the House have funding authority and legislative oversight over the armed forces. The members of these committees can compel the Army to acknowledge the grief of the Johnson family and reopen its investigation of LaVena’s death. All that is needed is the political will. Help those legislators find that will by signing this petition.
The mother of Pat Tillman once put the matter in stark and honest terms:
"This is how they treat a family of a high-profile individual," she said. "How are they treating others?"
In the case of Private First Class Johnson, we know the answer – but together we can make a better answer for LaVena'’s family, and for all the families of those who serve.
Help compel the Army to reopen the investigation of Pfc. LaVena Johnson's death.

24,500 Today: Number Of Detained Iraqis Grows By 50 Percent Under Surge

They Call It Liberation Number of Iraqis Held by U.S. Is Swelling
NY Times THOM SHANKER August 24, 2007 01:26 PM
The number of detainees held by the American-led military coalition in Iraq has swelled by 50 percent under the troop increase ordered by President Bush, with the inmate population growing from 16,000 in February to 24,500 today, according to American military officers in Iraq.
Nearly 85 percent of the detainees in custody are Sunni Arabs, the minority faction in Iraq that ruled the country under the government of Saddam Hussein, with the other detainees being Shiite Muslims, the officers say.

Haditha Investigator Urges Dropping of Marine's Case

This is what really disturbs me, with American so called justice in this war.With Abu Grahib a few lowly soldiers where put on show to the world, indicted and locked up to protect the higher eschalon. It Had to be for Rummies, Cheneys, Georgies protection.
There have been so many heinous crimes committed in Iraq, where the cases have been dropped or the individuals who have committed these crimes are out in a couple of months, sometimes even lessSeems the only crime of so many committed crimes where some charges might stick will be the case of Abeer and Her Family, and that is a maybe to.
Looking in from the outside, Muslims and people around the world must think there is no justice for a people that where supposed to be liberated from Sadam.
This is why I understand Layla's and Rivers rage and anger at the injustice of it all. There seems to be no justice for Iraqi families, under American Justice, So How the Hell can they tell the world that they where Liberating the Iraqi people from Sadam when the same heinous crimes are being committed against them, from the people who where supposed to be liberating them.
The Iraqi citizens who fight to retain there Country their Nation are called Terrorists not resistance fighters, who is left to protect the Iraqi people from their LIBERATORS
The world looks on at the American Justice System

By Josh WhiteWashington Post Staff WriterFriday, August 24, 2007; Page A10
An investigating officer has recommended that a Marine Corps general drop all charges against a Marine accused of murdering civilians in Haditha, Iraq, finding again that the 2005 shootings were "tragedies" but that the Marine did not violate the laws of combat.
Lt. Col. Paul J. Ware wrote in a 29-page report that there is insufficient evidence to show that Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum did anything other than follow Marine Corps rules when he killed women and children in two houses in a residential neighborhood in Iraq on Nov. 19, 2005. Ware found that Tatum followed orders to attack the houses and shot a group of civilians only because another Marine in the unit was already shooting at them.
The case is the second in which Ware has recommended to Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis that charges be dismissed, arguing in both instances that the Marines were operating in a complex combat environment. Mattis agreed with Ware's earlier recommendation and dismissed all charges against Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt, who killed a group of men in a house hours after Marines stormed into two homes and killed civilians inside.
The shootings began after a bomb blast killed one Marine and injured two others as the unit drove a convoy through Haditha. The Marines then killed a group of men who were in a car nearby before heading into two houses in the vicinity. Ware found that Tatum was following his rules of engagement when he fired his rifle in the two houses.
"What occurred in house 1 and house 2 are tragedies," Ware wrote. "The photographs of the victims are heart wrenching, and the desire to explain this tragedy as criminal act and not the result of training and fighting an enemy that hides among innocents is great. However, in the end, my opinion is that there is insufficient evidence for trial. LCpl Tatum shot and killed people in houses 1 and 2, but the reason he did so was because of his training and the circumstances he was placed in, not to exact revenge and commit murder."

Joint Chiefs Chair Expected To Call For Iraq Troop Cut

LA Times Julian E. Barnes, Peter Spiegel August 24, 2007 09:18 AM
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half, potentially creating a rift with top White House officials and other military commanders over the course of the war.
Administration and military officials say Marine Gen. Peter Pace is likely to convey concerns by the Joint Chiefs that keeping well in excess of 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008 will severely strain the military. This...

US Spy Agencies Report: Iraqi Government Paralyzed

New York Times Mark Mazzetti August 23, 2007 11:48 PM
A stark assessment released Thursday by the nation's intelligence agencies depicts a paralyzed Iraqi government unable to take advantage of the security gains achieved by the thousands of extra American troops dispatched to the country this year.
The assessment, known as a National Intelligence Estimate, casts strong doubts on the viability of the Bush administration strategy in Iraq. It gives a dim prognosis on the likelihood that Iraqi politicians can heal deep sectarian rifts before next spring, when American military commanders...

Dateline:::::On the frontline in Iraq



Iraq's death valley - 22nd August
John Martinkus got himself "embedded" with the Americans in what he quite justifiably describes as "Death Valley".

No End In Sight

Send This Letter To Your Congressman

Dear Congressman:
I want to personally invite you to see a new riveting documentary, NO END IN SIGHT, which chronicles the reasons behind Iraq's descent into guerilla war, warlord rule, criminality and anarchy. Based on over 200 hours of footage, the film provides a candid retelling of the events following the fall of Baghdad in 2003 by high ranking officials such as former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Ambassador Barbara Bodine (in charge of Baghdad during the Spring of 2003), Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, and General Jay Garner (in charge of the occupation of Iraq through May 2003), as well as Iraqi civilians, American soldiers and prominent analysts. NO END IN SIGHT examines the manner in which the principal errors of U.S. policy - the use of insufficient troop levels, allowing the looting of Baghdad, the purging of professionals from the Iraqi government and the disbanding of the Iraqi military - largely created the insurgency and chaos that engulf Iraq today.
By examining the mistakes of the Bush administration, you can help guide Congress in choosing the correct course of action.
NO END IN SIGHT is now playing at the E Street Cinema in Washington DC and across the country. Click here for a full theatre list – http://www.noendinsightmovie.com/?theatres
Please see this essential film.

Here is a review:


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Can We Count 2 million Iraqi Dead, before they are fininshed

Welcome to the LIBERATION of Iraq,
Are these Weapons called WMDs
Parliament not told, minister says
A new 'super-weapon' being supplied to British soldiers in Afghanistan employs technology based on the "thermobaric" principle which uses heat and pressure to kill people targeted across a wide air by sucking the air out of lungs and rupturing internal organs.
The so-called "enhanced blast" weapon uses similar technology used in the US "bunker busting" bombs and the devastating bombs dropped by the Russians to destroy the Chechen capital, Grozny.
Such weapons are brutally effective because they first disperse a gas or chemical agent which is lit at a second stage, allowing the blast to fill the spaces of a building or the crevices of a cave. When the US military deployed a version of these weapons in 2005, DefenseTech wrote an article titled, "Marines Quiet About Brutal New Weapon."
According to the US Defense Intelligence Agency, which released a study on thermobaric weapons in 1993, "The [blast] kill mechanism against living targets is unique--and unpleasant.... What kills is the pressure wave, and more importantly, the subsequent rarefaction [vacuum], which ruptures the lungs.… If the fuel deflagrates but does not detonate, victims will be severely burned and will probably also inhale the burning fuel. Since the most common FAE fuels, ethylene oxide and propylene oxide, are highly toxic, undetonated FAE should prove as lethal to personnel caught within the cloud as most chemical agents."
A second DIA study said, "shock and pressure waves cause minimal damage to brain tissue... it is possible that victims of FAEs are not rendered unconscious by the blast, but instead suffer for several seconds or minutes while they suffocate."
"The effect of an FAE explosion within confined spaces is immense," said a CIA study of the weapons. "Those near the ignition point are obliterated. Those at the fringe are likely to suffer many internal, and thus invisible injuries, including burst eardrums and crushed inner ear organs, severe concussions, ruptured lungs and internal organs, and possibly blindness."
British defense officials told the UK Guardian that British bombs were "different."
"They are optimized to create blast [rather than heat]", one said, speaking on the standard condition of anonymity in Britain. The official added that it would be misleading to call them "thermobaric."
Officials told the Guardian the new weapon was classified as a soldier launched "light anti-structure munition" and that the bombs would be more effective because "even when they hit the damage is limited to a confined area."
"The continuing issue of civilian casualties in Afghanistan has enormous importance in the battle for hearts and minds," said Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell in the article. "If these weapons contribute to the deaths of civilians then a primary purpose of the British deployment is going to be made yet more difficult."
According to Campbell, the deployment of the weapons was not announced to Parliament.

Makes you wonder if America remembers 15

Daily Show: 'America to the Rescue' in the Middle East

David Edwards and Muriel KanePublished: Thursday August 23, 2007
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Jon Stewart offered a Daily Show-style history of American arms policy in the Middle East on Wednesday's program. "Obviously, the Iraq War is very complicated," he began. "It's another reason why Barack Obama's foreign policy inexperience is going to be an important issue in this campaign. You can't have a newbie overthrowing the delicate balance that we have engineered and maintained in this complex region."
Stewart then proceeded to give examples of that "delicate balance," starting by pointing out that "a weakened Iraq has meant a strengthened Iran. ... Our Sunni friends in Saudi Arabia are none too happy about that. But that's no problem for our experienced hands."
"America to the Rescue" read the graphic, as Stewart explained, "A few weeks ago, the White House announced plans to sell $20 billion in weapons to the Saudi royal family. Boom! Balance of power restored! Trust me, you don't have to worry about billions of dollars in weapons being sent to a country like that. Because, may I remind you, a full 20% of the 9/11 hijackers were not from there."
"Of course, this move may intimidate our circumcised friends to the west," Stewart continued, adding -- with a recurrence of the "America to the Rescue" graphic -- that there was no need to worry, because "the White House announced that it will increase aid to Israel by 25%, meaning an additional $30 billion over the next decade to them."
"We've been rescuing the Middle East for some time now," Stewart went on. "Think back to 1990, when an oil-rich, very nice little country named Kuwait was invaded by the very not-nice Iraq. ... At that time, we had to weaken Saddam Hussein, who had become very powerful after purchasing a shitload of weapons from -- oh boy. Oops."
"See, at that time we had to give him the weapons, because he was at war with Iran," said Stewart, getting back in stride. "But see, once Saddam got real powerful, we had to worry that he would topple our friends in Saudi Arabia. Which is why we put troops there, which kind of pissed off, uh, that guy, who had also become very powerful, fighting the Russians in Afghanistan after getting weapons from -- son of a bitch! What the fuck!"
"My point is, foreign policy experience is very important," concluded Stewart.
The following video is from Comedy Central's The Daily Show, broadcast on August 22.

Academia has '08 cash clout Education field donating more in presidential race

Boston Globe Marcella Bombardieri August 23, 2007 09:16 PM
Professors and others in the education field have given more to federal candidates running in 2008 than those who work in the oil, pharmaceutical, and computer industries -- a sign of how academia has become a much bigger player in the political cash sweepstakes.
Of the more than $7 million that academics donated in the first half of this year, more than $4.1 million went to presidential campaigns, particularly Barack Obama's, according to a study released this month by the nonpartisan...

But Has She Locked Up The People? That The Question

Hillary Locks Up The DC Democratic Establishment
August 23, 2007 04:43 PM
Washington--From the K Street lobbyist corridor to the major gay and lesbian organizations to the city's kingpin consultants and fundraisers to the big feminist groups, Hillary Clinton has acquired a near-lock on the Democratic establishment in the nation's capital.The level of support here for the junior New York Senator approaches what an incumbent president seeking re-election might expect.The people and organizations run the gamut: Togo West, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs and CEO of...

GOP Senator Warner: Start Iraq Withdrawal By Christmas

CNN August 23, 2007 04:06 PM
One of the Senate's top Republicans has called on President Bush to start bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq by Christmas, telling reporters Thursday that a pullout was needed to spur Iraqi leaders to action.
Sen. John Warner, the influential former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he has recommended that Bush announce the beginning of a U.S. withdrawal in mid-September, after a report from the top U.S. officials in Iraq.
AP Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor August 23, 2007 08:07 PM
The Army's top civilian leader said Thursday he sees "no possibility" of extending soldiers' 15-month Iraq tours, reflecting concern about mounting strains on soldiers and their families as well as an emerging expectation that the troop buildup in Iraq can be reversed next year.
In an Associated Press interview, Army Secretary Pete Geren said that regardless of near-term changes in Iraq, the Army must find new ways to adjust to the pressures of engaging in a global war against extremism, which...
AP Scott Lindlaw August 23, 2007 08:04 PM
Newly uncovered "rules of engagement" show the U.S. military gave elite units broad authority more than three years ago to pursue suspected terrorists into Pakistan, with no mention of telling the Pakistanis in advance.
The documents obtained by The Associated Press offer a detailed glimpse at what Army Rangers and other terrorist-hunting units were authorized to do earlier in the war on terror. And interviews with military officials suggest some of those same guidelines have remained in place, such as the...

White House Office of Administration is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act

Washington Post Dan Eggen August 23, 2007 08:40 AM
The Bush administration argued in court papers this week that the White House Office of Administration is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act as part of its effort to fend off a civil lawsuit seeking the release of internal documents about a large number of e-mails missing from White House servers.
The claim, made in a motion filed Tuesday by the Justice Department, is at odds with a depiction of the office on the White House's own Web site....

GOP Congressman: Bush Employs Thousands Of Undocumented Workers

Washington Times Stephan Dinan August 23, 2007 09:02 AM
If President Bush is serious about getting tough on U.S. employers who hire illegal aliens, he can start with his own administration, which employs thousands of unauthorized workers, says the top Republican on the House immigration subcommittee.
A 2006 audit showed federal, state and local governments are among the biggest employers of the half-million persons in the U.S. illegally using "non-work" Social Security numbers -- numbers issued legally, but with specific instructions that the holders are not authorized to work in...

Congress Blocks Police From Examining Ex-GOP Rep Foley's Computers

Associated Press BRIAN SKOLOFF August 23, 2007 03:28 PM
Florida's top police agency said Wednesday its investigation into former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley's lurid Internet communications with teenage boys has been hindered because neither Foley nor the House will let investigators examine his congressional computers.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says it hopes to conclude its investigation next week. Foley, a Florida Republican, resigned from Congress on Sept. 29 after being confronted with the computer messages he sent to male teenage pages who had worked on Capitol Hill.

Susan Collins: Put Country Over Politics


Pro-war group launches $15 million ad blitz

By: Mike Allen
Aug 22, 2007 07:29 AM EST
A new group, Freedom’s Watch, is launching Wednesday with a $15 million, five-week campaign of TV, radio and Web ads featuring military veterans that is aimed at retaining support in Congress for President Bush’s “surge” policy on Iraq.
"For those who believe in peace through strength, the cavalry is coming," said former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who is a founding board member of the group.
The opening ad, by Jamestown Associates of New Jersey, shows a military veteran saying: “Congress was right to vote to fight terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. I re-enlisted after Sept. 11 because I don’t want my sons to see what I saw. I want them to be free and safe. I know what I lost. I also know that if we pull out now, everything I’ve given and the sacrifices will mean nothing. They attacked us, and they will again. They won’t stop in Iraq. We are winning on the ground and making real progress. It’s no time to quit. It’s no time for politics.”
The board consists of Blakeman; Fleischer; Mel Sembler, a Florida Republican who was Bush’s ambassador to Italy; William P. Weidner, president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp.; and Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
The donors include Sembler; Anthony Gioia, a Buffalo businessman who was Bush’s ambassador to Malta; Kevin Moley, who was Bush’s ambassador to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva; Howard Leach, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman who was Bush’s ambassador to France; Dr. John Templeton of Pennsylvania, chairman and president of the John Templeton Foundation; Ed Snider, chairman of Comcast Spectacor, the huge Philadelphia sports and entertainment firm; Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and ranked by Forbes magazine as the third-wealthiest American; and Richard Fox, who is chairman of the Jewish Policy Center and was Pennsylvania State Chairman of the Reagan/Bush campaign in 1980.

Spy Chief Reveals Classified Details

Confirmed: Private US Companies Helped Bush Spy On Americans
AP Katherine Shrader August 22, 2007 05:58 PM
National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell pulled the curtain back on previously classified details of government surveillance and of a secretive court whose recent rulings created new hurdles for the Bush administration as it tries to prevent terrorism.
McConnell's comments _ made in an interview with the El Paso Times last week and posted as a transcript on the newspaper's web site Wednesday _ raised eyebrows for their frank discussion of previously classified eavesdropping work conducted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,...

Tillman's Wife: Real Leaders Needed

AP Peggy Harris August 22, 2007 09:01 PM
The wife of NFL athlete-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman said Wednesday in her first public comments since her husband's death by friendly fire that the country needs "authentic leadership."
Saying that talking about her best friend was difficult, Marie Tillman told an audience at the University of Arkansas about the many good qualities of the NFL athlete and Army Ranger.

Blackout: Militants Seize Control Of Iraq Power Grid

Militias Seizing Control of Grid, Starving Baghdad of Electricity
The New York Times James Glanz and Stephen Farrell August 22, 2007 10:26 PM
Armed groups increasingly control the antiquated switching stations that channel electricity around Iraq, the electricity minister said Wednesday.
That is dividing the national grid into fiefs that, he said, often refuse to share electricity generated locally with Baghdad and other power-starved areas

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pentagon Will Miss Iraq Armored Vehicle Goal

US Armored Vehicles Slow to Reach Iraq
AP Lolita C. Baldor August 22, 2007 09:26 PM
The Pentagon will fall far short of its goal of sending 3,500 lifesaving armored vehicles to Iraq by the end of the year. Instead, officials expect to send about 1,500.
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Wednesday that while defense officials still believe contractors will build about 3,900 of the mine-resistant, armor-protected vehicles by year's end, it will take longer for the military to fully equip them and ship them to Iraq.


Russia and China teaming up to counter the US

The members of the security alliance ‘Shanghai Cooperation Organization’ (S.C.O.) have recently been hosting their largest joint military exercises in Russia and China. All six permanent members of the organization have participated from August 9-16. The joint military exercises, dubbed "Peace Mission 2007", demonstrate the growing importance of the S.C.O. in Central Asian geopolitical calculations.
Peace Mission 2007
Now, the S.C.O. knows it has to copy the ‘Terrorism’ rhetoric launched by the Bush administration. So, one of the main scenarios of the exercises was the retaking of a town that has been overrun by militants. Combat vehicles and troops from Russia, China and Kyrgyzstan, paratroopers from Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, and officers from Uzbekistan have all participated. Russia and China also participated with aircraft. These are serious exercises.

Embattled Bush Official Resigns Justice Post (Bradley Schlozman)

Source: ABC News
Facing multiple investigations, a senior Justice Department appointee has resigned his post.
Bradley Schlozman stepped down from his position as a counsel in the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, a branch of the Department of Justice, last week, a Justice spokesman confirmed Wednesday.
Schlozman, a key figure in several political controversies, is under investigation by the department's inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility for allegations he was involved in politicizing hiring and firing decisions at the Justice Department. He is also a subject of the congressional probe into the U.S. attorneys firing scandal.
Last year, the 36-year-old Kansas native took a U.S. attorney post in Missouri after its previous holder, Todd Graves, was dismissed. Graves has said he refused to sign off on a lawsuit involving the state's voter rolls. The suit went forward anyway. This year, a court ruled against the Justice Department in the matter. The department is appealing the ruling. Schlozman had backed the case from Washington.

Video: How FOX Beats The Drums For War With Iran

Fox Attacks August 22, 2007 02:17 PM
"My station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at FOX News."
That is CNN's Christiane Amanpour explaining why the major television networks failed to accurately inform the public in the lead-up to the Iraq war, choosing instead to follow FOX's lead.
Now, FOX is beating the drums for war with Iran. Robert Greenwald's short film, "FOX Attacks: Iran", outlines the evidence from the station's own broadcasts, comparing their reporting before the Iraq war...

White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters

Exposed: White House Manual On Keeping Protestors From Bush
Washington Post Peter Baker August 22, 2007 01:26 PM
Not that they're worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn't want any.
A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of "deterring potential protestors" from President Bush's public appearances around the country.

France shifts its stance on the conflict in Iraq

The French move carries the personal mark of Kouchner, who was one of the few French politicians who backed the forcible removal of Saddam Hussein before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and whose longstanding and close relations with Kurdish and Shiite leaders have earned him credibility in the region. During his visit to Iraq, he held talks with religious and political leaders, including Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani, whom he has known for three decades.

Bush Compares Iraq To Vietnam In Speech To Vet Convention

Bush To Compare Iraq To Vietnam In Speech Today »

AP BEN FELLER August 22, 2007 09:28 AM
President Bush wants a nation running short on patience with the Iraq war to take a long view, comparing it to U.S. involvements in Asia that lost popular backing but eventually proved their worth and led to lasting peace.
"The ideals and interests that led America to help the Japanese turn defeat into democracy are the same that lead us to remain engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq," Bush said in advance excerpts of a Wednesday speech to the Veterans of Foreign...
By Ron Fullwood
So, the nation's most prominent draft dodger wants to tell Americans how much of a mistake it was to pull our soldiers out of Vietnam. Bush would reopen those wounds, just to further his political agenda to escape a verdict of defeat for his failed Iraq misadventure.

Documents Show Murray Made Changes To Mine That Created Risk

Documents Show Murray Made Changes To Mining Plan That Created RisDocuments Show Murray Made Changes To Mining Plan That Created Risksks »
Salt Lake Tribune Robert Gehrke August 22, 2007 12:13 PM
Robert Murray insists that his company did not change the mining plan at Crandall Canyon after purchasing a joint interest in the mine last August.
But documents obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune clearly contradict Murray's assertion, and show that Murray's company sought and received approval from federal regulators to make a significant, and, experts say, risky change to the mining strategy.

Iraqi PM: Iraq "Can Find Friends Elsewhere"

Iraqi PM Lashes Out at U.S. Critics
AP QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA August 22, 2007 08:50 AM
Iraq's prime minister lashed out Wednesday at U.S. criticism, saying no one has the right to impose timetables on his elected government and that his country "can find friends elsewhere."
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki blamed the U.S. presidential campaign for the recent tough words about his government, from President Bush and from other U.S. politicians.

Taliban hackers phone UK soldiers' families

TALIBAN extremists are reportedly phoning the families of troops fighting in Afghanistan and telling them their loved ones are dead.
Afghan insurgents have been using mobile phone-hacking technology to extract phone numbers to target the families of British troops, The Sun newspaper reported today.
According to The Sun, a Taliban fanatic called the wife of an Royal Air Force officer and told her: “You’ll never see your husband alive again – we have just killed him.”
After calling the RAF, she was told that her husband was safe and well.
As a result of opposition forces using advanced technology to monitor calls made on mobile phones, British servicemen have been banned from using their phones.

US chopper Iraq crash kills 14

THE US military said 14 American troops have been killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq but there were no indications it was brought down by hostile fire.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Toll in Iraq Bombings Is Raised to More Than 500

Iraqi Red Crescent: More Than 500 Were Killed In Last Tuesday's Bombing »
New York Times DAMIEN CAVE and JAMES GLANZ August 21, 2007 05:35 PM
Statistical certainty can be difficult to obtain after major bomb attacks. But the Red Crescent figures align with earlier estimates by hospital officials and track with the typical ratio of dead to wounded in Iraq's largest bomb attacks.
With these figures, the bombing would be the deadliest coordinated assault since the American-led invasion in 2003 by a factor of nearly three. In July, about 155 people died in a massive explosion in the northern town of Amerli; a similar number were...

White House Fights Disclosure

And they still do nothing
Associated Press PETE YOST August 21, 2007 10:23 PM
The office has prepared estimates that there are at least 5 million missing White House e-mails from March 2003 to October 2005, according to the lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a private advocacy group.
In court papers seeking to end the case, the Justice Department said the White House Office of Administration has no substantial authority independent of President Bush and therefore is not subject to the disclosure requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.

Looks like the citizens of Iraq do not apporve of Georgies LIBERATION, Why does't Georgie address the refugee situation, he caused it didn't he?

One in ten Iraqis has left the country. Baghdad's elite are trying to make ends meet in neighboring Jordan and Syria. Washington wants the United Nations to address the refugee crisis. In the meantime, the country is losing its best minds - the very people needed to rebuild Iraq.Iraq's Elite Fleeing in Droves
Amira El Ahl, Volkhard Windfuhr and Bernhard Zand report for Der Spiegel: "Iraq, a country still shaken by daily violence, is currently the scene of what is likely the biggest refugee disaster since the displacement of Palestinians in the Arab-Israeli War in 1948 ... They are not just the country's poor and desperate. Many are the elites of a nation that already lost many of its best and brightest during decades of tyranny and economic embargoes."
Baghdad Burning
... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend...
Thursday, April 26, 2007
The Great Wall of Segregation...
…Which is the wall the current Iraqi government is building (with the support and guidance of the Americans). It's a wall that is intended to separate and isolate what is now considered the largest 'Sunni' area in Baghdad- let no one say the Americans are not building anything. According to plans the Iraqi puppets and Americans cooked up, it will 'protect' A'adhamiya, a residential/mercantile area that the current Iraqi government and their death squads couldn't empty of Sunnis.
The wall, of course, will protect no one. I sometimes wonder if this is how the concentration camps began in Europe. The Nazi government probably said, "Oh look- we're just going to protect the Jews with this little wall here- it will be difficult for people to get into their special area to hurt them!" And yet, it will also be difficult to get out.
The Wall is the latest effort to further break Iraqi society apart. Promoting and supporting civil war isn't enough, apparently- Iraqis have generally proven to be more tenacious and tolerant than their mullahs, ayatollahs, and Vichy leaders. It's time for America to physically divide and conquer- like Berlin before the wall came down or Palestine today. This way, they can continue chasing Sunnis out of "Shia areas" and Shia out of "Sunni areas".
I always hear the Iraqi pro-war crowd interviewed on television from foreign capitals (they can only appear on television from the safety of foreign capitals because I defy anyone to be publicly pro-war in Iraq). They refuse to believe that their religiously inclined, sectarian political parties fueled this whole Sunni/Shia conflict. They refuse to acknowledge that this situation is a direct result of the war and occupation. They go on and on about Iraq's history and how Sunnis and Shia were always in conflict and I hate that. I hate that a handful of expats who haven't been to the country in decades pretend to know more about it than people actually living there.
I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbors were- we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.
On a personal note, we've finally decided to leave. I guess I've known we would be leaving for a while now. We discussed it as a family dozens of times. At first, someone would suggest it tentatively because, it was just a preposterous idea- leaving ones home and extended family- leaving ones country- and to what? To where?
Since last summer, we had been discussing it more and more. It was only a matter of time before what began as a suggestion- a last case scenario- soon took on solidity and developed into a plan. For the last couple of months, it has only been a matter of logistics. Plane or car? Jordan or Syria? Will we all leave together as a family? Or will it be only my brother and I at first?
After Jordan or Syria- where then? Obviously, either of those countries is going to be a transit to something else. They are both overflowing with Iraqi refugees, and every single Iraqi living in either country is complaining of the fact that work is difficult to come by, and getting a residency is even more difficult. There is also the little problem of being turned back at the border. Thousands of Iraqis aren't being let into Syria or Jordan- and there are no definite criteria for entry, the decision is based on the whim of the border patrol guard checking your passport.
An airplane isn't necessarily safer, as the trip to Baghdad International Airport is in itself risky and travelers are just as likely to be refused permission to enter the country (Syria and Jordan) if they arrive by airplane. And if you're wondering why Syria or Jordan, because they are the only two countries that will let Iraqis in without a visa. Following up visa issues with the few functioning embassies or consulates in Baghdad is next to impossible.
So we've been busy. Busy trying to decide what part of our lives to leave behind. Which memories are dispensable? We, like many Iraqis, are not the classic refugees- the ones with only the clothes on their backs and no choice. We are choosing to leave because the other option is simply a continuation of what has been one long nightmare- stay and wait and try to survive.
On the one hand, I know that leaving the country and starting a new life somewhere else- as yet unknown- is such a huge thing that it should dwarf every trivial concern. The funny thing is that it’s the trivial that seems to occupy our lives. We discuss whether to take photo albums or leave them behind. Can I bring along a stuffed animal I've had since the age of four? Is there room for E.'s guitar? What clothes do we take? Summer clothes? The winter clothes too? What about my books? What about the CDs, the baby pictures?
The problem is that we don't even know if we'll ever see this stuff again. We don't know if whatever we leave, including the house, will be available when and if we come back. There are moments when the injustice of having to leave your country, simply because an imbecile got it into his head to invade it, is overwhelming. It is unfair that in order to survive and live normally, we have to leave our home and what remains of family and friends… And to what?
It's difficult to decide which is more frightening- car bombs and militias, or having to leave everything you know and love, to some unspecified place for a future where nothing is certain.
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