Archive for August, 2006

Iraq Update: Leader Of Haditha Massacre Recommended For Medal Of… Honor???

August 31, 2006 Leave a comment

Yesterday I wrote briefly about the absurd comments of Lt. Col. Chessani, who said this about the Haditha massacre:

I thought it was very sad, very unfortunate, but at the time, I did not suspect any wrongdoing from my Marines.


I say that because on May 30, 2006 NPR reported:

The U.S. Marines paid at least $38,000 to the families of Iraqi civilians killed in a November clash in Haditha. The payments were made in December… It is standard procedure for the military to make payments when it is at fault. The payments, which included $2,500 for each person killed, were authorized by the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Chessani, and his superiors… In another development in the case, investigators have been told that a sergeant coaxed other Marines to come up with a cover story about the incident.

And, of course it doesn’t stop there. CNN reported this a day later:

Sources told CNN on Monday that the investigation is substantially complete, and that charges — including murder charges — could be filed sometime in June. And, sources said, investigators have concluded there was a cover-up.

The U.S. military had previously refused to believe villagers who accused the Marines of murdering unarmed civilians, even when presented with credible evidence assembled by Time magazine for an article in March.

“They were incredibly hostile,” said Time’s Aparisim Ghosh. “They accused us of buying into enemy propaganda, and they stuck to their original story, which is that these people were all killed by the IED [improvised explosive device].”

But that story has fallen apart in the wake of an investigation that sources said is likely to result in murder charges against some Marines and dereliction of duty counts against others.

So, of all these inconvenient facts about this incident that “killed innocent civilians in cold blood” and which was supposed to result in criminal charges in June, the story has an odd twist. Washington Post reported yesterday:

The platoon commander for the squad of Marines who killed as many as two dozen Iraqi civilians during an attack in Haditha last year recommended later that the sergeant who led the attack receive a medal for his heroism that day, according to military documents.

I thought it was very sad, very unfortunate, but at the time, I did not suspect any wrongdoing from my Marines.

Why then, did Lt. Col. Chessani authorize payments of $38,000 to the families of the victims – which directly indicates we were guilty of “wrongdoing” – in December (months before the incident was made public or an investigation launched)?

Why did the Washington Post not bring up these important things?

Again, if this were not so serious I would laugh…

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Iraq Update: Killing Innocent Women and Children Is Not "Unusal"

August 30, 2006 Leave a comment

Just when our intentional ignorance could not get any worse…

The Marine officer who commanded the battalion involved in the Haditha killings last November did not consider the deaths of 24 Iraqis, many of them women and children, unusual…

Actually he said the whole thing was a “complex attack” by the “enemy” who he refers to in an individualistic manner: “he.”

“He,” the Marine said, “has picked the place, he had picked the time, and the location for a reason. . . . [H]e wanted to make us look bad.”

You see, “he” knew that if “he” attacked us – being illegal occupiers of their land – that we would go into a house, gather up two-dozen unarmed civilians (mostly women and children) and shoot them at close range; “he” tricked us in to committing a heinous crime just “to make us look bad.”

If this were not about such a serious matter I would laugh.

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Iraq Update: Maj. Gen Caldwell Feeds Us Lies and Ward Churchill Burdens Us With Ethics

August 28, 2006 Leave a comment

We are actually seeing progress out there.” Maj. Gen. William Caldwell

“A suicide car bombing and clashes between Shiite militia and Iraqi security forces left at least 50 people dead Monday in a brutal contradiction of the prime minister’s claim that bloodshed was decreasing.”

Notice how the “Shiite militia” is a “militia” when they – al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army – oppose the occupation but the other Shiite militias who are tied to the political parties that have a more pivotal role in the new government are dubbed “Iraqi Security forces.” Apparently badges and official recognition (not to mention the lack of U.S. raids against “security forces”) are all that is needed to differentiate.

You might also notice that they point out the “contradiction” of the PM and – if you read further down in the article – not that contradiction of the military spokesmen, Maj. Gen. Caldwell.

We are actually seeing progress out there.

You might also be perplexed at why “some 10,000 Iraqis have been killed in the last four months in unrelenting attacks” is considered “progress.”

It is only perplexing if you adopt the propaganda spin that we are actually trying to contain the violence.

Well, the “10,000 Iraqis” – as previously mentioned – have been “contained” as much as possible, but not even their deaths, whom the vast majority are young Sunni men most likely being killed by Salvadoran-style Shiite death squads enlisted to the occupation forces (e.g. U.S.), will “contain” the violence that is tearing the country further apart.

I guess you could say that wiping out the “enemy” is a form of containment, but from a realistic view it is only spreading the seeds of hatred and escalating the violence, not reducing it.

When the Sunni population – who are portrayed as the opposition to our delivery of freedom and democracy – makes up 20% of the country but 90% want us to leave, this should be a cause for skeptical questions regarding our benevolent pronouncements justifying our continued presence in a country we unlawfully attacked and occupied.

The “city’s general hospital” in Baghdad could further define “Progress”:

Dr. Mohammed Abdul-Muhsen of the city’s general hospital said 34 bodies were brought in — 25 Iraqi soldiers, seven civilians and two militiamen. He said at least 70 people were injured… The U.S. military said eight U.S. soldiers were killed Saturday and Sunday in and around Baghdad, seven of them by roadside bombs and one by gunfire.

There were forty-two dead for the “good” side and two dead for the “bad” side and this was just a glimpse of one of the most violent periods yet.

We are actually seeing progress out there.

Denial can be ugly.

Consider the amount of destruction, death, suffering, use of resources, the lies and hypocrisy that this mess was built on.

A nation destroyed and littered with toxic dust.

We are actually seeing progress out there.

Tens of thousands of people dead, wounded, suffering, etc. Think of the fact that child malnutrition has doubled since the war began.

We are actually seeing progress out there.

How many billions of dollars is this costing and going to cost? What effect does that have on our poor, elderly and sick?

These facts are out there if you want to find them.

But, be cautious. Ward Churchill has already spelled out the dilemma from an ethical perspective:

In effect, the U.S. citizenry as a whole was endowed with exactly the degree of ignorance it embraced. To put it another way, being ignorant is not synonymous with being uninformed. It is instead to be informed and then ignore the information. There is a vast difference between not knowing and not caring, and, if Good Americans have difficulty appreciating the distinction, it must be borne in mind that there are others in the world who are quite unburdened by such intellectual impairments. They, beginning with those most directly targeted at any given moment for subjugation or eradication at the hands of American “peacekeepers,” know above all else that professions of ignorance inherently preclude claims of innocence in such circumstances.

We are actually seeing progress out there.

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Iraq Update: Salvadoran-Style Death Squads; Violence; Baghdad Morge; and US Complicity

August 23, 2006 Leave a comment

The other day I wrote about the war and occupation in Iraq. I argued that the US is pushing for civil war in Iraq because we are doing nothing to “contain sectarian violence” and that we are using sectarian militias under the disguise of “Iraqi security forces” to hunt down the Sunni resistance and those who retaliate against Shiite revenge attacks that have escalated since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

I posed some questions. Like, how can we pretend to be trying to contain sectarian violence when we use sectarian militias to attack and raid other sectarian groups? Why are we doing nothing about the Shiite attacks?

Well it looks like the US is starting to send “advisers” along with the “Iraqi troops” to “crackdown on death squads that American officials say are fuelling sectarian violence ravaging Baghdad,” as was reported by Reuters (via Yahoo!). The militia these men belong to was not mentioned directly, but al-Sadr’s name was mentioned in the below link.

In late July 2006 MSNBC reported an important sentence:

An overwhelming majority of the delivered dead are young Sunni men, according to morgue employees.

Of course, the other militias involved (outside of the Mahdi Army, who are fiercely anti-occupation and which might explain their being singled out) – like the ones tied to the Iraqi government – are not being mentioned.

But let’s try and put some things back in context and that may help explain why those militias are not mentioned.

In January of 2005 Newsweek reported:

NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported “nationalist” forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras.)

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers…

Take note of the date of the article. The BBC recently reported about the Iraqi violence (though left out any violence from the occupiers and so-called “Iraqi forces”) in reference to “sectarian attacks”:

Since early 2005, gruesome finds of groups of corpses, often showing signs of execution or torture, have been becoming increasingly common.

Before I continue I want to make another comment about the BBC article. It is obvious that most of the Iraqi violence is targeted against the occupations, but the article also noted:

Although about 80% of insurgent attacks are targeted against coalition forces, the Iraqi population suffers about 80% of all casualties, according to US officials in late 2005.

We should keep in mind that that is “according to US officials” and that not all violence that civilians are effected by is from the “insurgents.” There are the Salvadoran-style death squads who are filling up the Baghdad morgue with young Sunni men.

The Reuters article also stated: “Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose national reconciliation plan has so far failed to contain sectarian tensions between Shi’ites and minority Sunnis.”

His plan has not failed because of him. His plan has failed because the most important points to make it work were removed by Shiite politicians.

By not putting a timetable for the occupation troops to leave, which 90% of the country supports, the resistance has no choice but to keep resisting.

By not making the distinction between resistance and terrorism, the resistance fighters will have no choice but to stay underground. This will only prolong the violence.

By not giving the resistance fighters amnesty in exchange for an end to their attacks – coupled with the incentive to agree.

Of course, so long as we ignore our violence, the death squads we support and our refusal to have a serious debate then not even al-Malikis plan (unchanged) will make much of a difference. Just look at the Baghdad morgue…

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Bush Displays His Typical Hypocrisy By Thumbing His Nose At Reality And History; Would You Expect Anything Else?

August 21, 2006 Leave a comment

“There must be consequences if people thumb their nose at the United Nations security council. We will work with people on the security council to achieve that objective.” President George W Bush

Wow. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.

The President was talking about Iran. He feels Iran should have sanctions on them for wanting nuclear energy, which they are legally entitled to. We feel that “nuclear energy” is a cover for nuclear weapons. He could be right. But that is beside the point.

Before I move on to addressing the hypocrisy of the quote above I want to bring up a few related articles about Iran in an effort to shine light on this issue, which as usual, receives a typical propaganda spin here in the U.S.

First, Professor Noam Chomsky has already provided some important information to consider:

The urgency of halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and moving toward their elimination, could hardly be greater. Failure to do so is almost certain to lead to grim consequences, even the end of biology’s only experiment with higher intelligence. As threatening as the crisis is, the means exist to defuse it.

A near-meltdown seems to be imminent over Iran and its nuclear programmes. Before 1979, when the Shah was in power, Washington strongly supported these programmes. Today the standard claim is that Iran has no need for nuclear power, and therefore must be pursuing a secret weapons programme. “For a major oil producer such as Iran, nuclear energy is a wasteful use of resources,” Henry Kissinger wrote in the Washington Post last year.

Thirty years ago, however, when Kissinger was secretary of state for President Gerald Ford, he held that “introduction of nuclear power will both provide for the growing needs of Iran’s economy and free remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to petrochemicals.”

Last year Dafna Linzer of the Washington Post asked Kissinger about his reversal of opinion. Kissinger responded with his usual engaging frankness: “They were an allied country.”

No doubt we should not only disarm ALL nuclear weapons but for health and environmental reasons we should probably disband nuclear energy as well (perhaps it should be limited to space exploration). We have the Sun, wind and a variety of forms of creating energy.

But in the prevailing order of the day Iran is doing nothing wrong, even if they are seeking nuclear weapons. It makes sense and even Paul Pillar, the CIA analyst who handled all the NIE’s (National Intelligence Estimates) on Iran from 2000 to 2005 has said it quite frankly. As reported:

The George W. Bush administration’s adoption of a policy of threatening to use military force against Iran disregarded a series of official intelligence estimates going back many years that consistently judged Iran’s fear of a U.S. attack to be a major motivating factor in its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Two former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials who were directly involved in producing CIA estimates on Iran revealed in separate interviews with IPS that the National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) on Iran have consistently portrayed its concerns about the military threat posed by the United States as a central consideration in Tehran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.

Paul Pillar, who managed the writing of all NIEs on Iran from 2000 to 2005 as the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, told IPS that all of the NIEs on Iran during that period addressed the Iranian fears of U.S. attack explicitly and related their desire for nuclear weapons to those fears.

“Iranian perceptions of threat, especially from the United States and Israel, were not the only factor,” Pillar said, “but were in our judgment part of what drove whatever effort they were making to build nuclear weapons.”

Pillar said the dominant view of the intelligence community in the past three years has been that Iran would seek a nuclear weapons capability, but analysts have also considered that a willingness on the part of Washington to reassure Iran on its security fears would have a significant effect on Iranian policy.

Pillar said one of the things analysts have taken into account is Iran’s May 2003 proposal to the Bush administration to negotiate on its nuclear option and its relationship with Hezbollah and other anti-Israel groups as well as its own security concerns.

“It was seen as an indicator of Iran’s willingness to engage,” he said.

This potential conflict with Iran is entirely unnecessary and will do nothing to resolve the nuclear issue or make any of us safer.

If we want to keep Iran from having nuclear weapons then the first step is to stop threatening them. The second is to make peace, especially since they made a lucrative offer. Instead, we chose to censure the Ambassador who delivered the offer.

But, let’s get back to the Bush quote. He feels “there must be consequences if people thumb their nose at the United Nations security council. (UNSC)”

When the UNSC was convening on Iraq the US illegally spied on the council to see how they would vote. When it became apparent that our vote authorizing war would not pass, we withdrew the resolution and we attacked Iraq illegally. Simply put, we thumbed our nose not only at the council but at the UN Charter as well.

But it doesn’t stop there. Once could easily look at our veto record. When resolutions are presented that we don’t like, we thumb our nose at the council and veto it and thus, killing justice and making the council impotent.

What Bush is really expressing is his desire to see the council act in accordance to his wishes and if he doesn’t get his way then he will issue the consequences himself: we will – again – thumb our nose at the council and charter and attack Iran.

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U.S. Major: "If we leave, all the attacks would stop, because we’d be gone." GREAT! Let’s Get Out NOW!!!

August 21, 2006 Leave a comment

“If we leave, all the attacks would stop, because we’d be gone… If we do leave, the city will be a lot better and they’ll [the residents] build it a lot better.” – Maj. Brent E. Lilly in Hit, Iraq

In previous posts I have touched on many things about this fucking war in Iraq. Yes, I used that adjective to put emphasis on my emotions about this senseless, needless and destructive war.

Sorry, but I am not proud to know that I am financing murder and oppression. Perhaps others can blissfully ignore it or find weak arguments to justify it, but not me.

We are pouring billions of dollars into this needless war while so-called “conservatives” bitch about taxes for social programs. We need tax cuts! Incentives for big business! Let’s increase the price of gas further and give straight welfare to Shell or Exxon/Mobil! We hear them talk about it being their money, yet they don’t seem to give a damn about spending much, much more on killing people needlessly. [Notice that I am more concerned about the victims of our aggression and not when we are victims of our own aggression (like the soldiers killed regularly in Afghanistan and Iraq).]

Arms expenditures have more than doubled for weapons that will most likely not be used at all, but the fictitious “war on terrorism” is trumpeted along with other forms of fear-mongering and electioneering (generally designed around “9/11” themes). Someone please answer me: How in the Hell can you wage a war on a tactic (one that we too employ); an abstract noun?

Anyone familiar with our history or Iraq’s history or US-Iraqi relations know how apparently unnecessary this war and occupation is.

Others and myself have repeatedly refuted the WMD claims. The WMD Iraq had (under Saddam Hussein) was destroyed or abandoned after the end of the first Gulf War and as UNMOVIC’s name indicates, the inspection process was about “verifying” the destruction of the weapons Saddam said were destroyed (which was also confirmed by a defector in the mid-1990’s, Hussein Kamal) and “monitoring” the sites that could be used for prohibited purposes. Which brings up an interesting point. Saddam was disarmed but Iraq did have materials that were safely guarded by the UN. After the war these materials were abandoned and were looted while US troops chose to protect oil fields.

Well before the war it was obvious that Saddam was not a threat to us even IF he did have the weapons. He was our stooge. It is no coincidence that his crimes he now faces derive from a distinct period: when we supported and armed him.

We also know that Saddam had no functioning relationship with al Qaeda. In fact, it was our war that brought the group to the country. Though the US government liked to assert that Zarqawi was in Northern Iraq, it was commonly ignored that Saddam had virtually no control of the north. That was US territory via the illegal “No-Fly Zones.”

Then our excuse for being there switched to “liberation” and the bringing of democracy. Never mind that the majority of the Iraqis do not want us there (it is now at 90%). When al-Maliki proposed his reconciliation plan we were opposed to setting a timetable for us to leave. God damn it, we are building permanent (or so-called “enduring”) bases. We are not planning on leaving any time soon.

So now we have come to this ruse: we are trying to contain the sectarian violence and prevent a civil war. Again, this is something that is already highly questionable.

How can we pretend to be trying to contain sectarian violence or prevent a civil war when we use sectarian militias (though we call them Iraqi forces) to raid and/or attack other sectarian groups?

Sure, we can find barbarity in the “enemy.” But it takes an utter hypocrite not to see it in us too! We started this shit. Don’t ever forget that. And don’t use 9/11 as an excuse either.

First and most importantly we should be honest with ourselves: that September day was a product of our own making. Call it Karma. Call it Isaac Newton’s third law of Physics. Say it was the Chickens coming home to roost. Simply put, our policies and actions around the world (primarily since the end of the World War Two) have created a global sentiment of hatred and resentment. When you play with fire you will get burned. When you go to the barber you will get your haircut. Use a cliché if it helps. I don’t care. Just understand, deal with, come to terms with, or whatever, that we are a super power in geo-politics that most of the world resents and when we use our half-of-the-worlds-expenditures-for-military-purposes to harm, humiliate and oppress people that the favor will be returned. If they don’t have tanks and planes then they will find ways to level the playing field. This paragraph was not about condoning or justifying “their” violence. It is about understanding and taking responsibility for our actions. The very best place to start is at home. You want to make us safer? You want to weaken the “enemy”? Then here is where you should start: Let’s pull that massive fucking plank from our eye. How about NOT giving people a reason to want to harm us? Novel idea, huh?

This war is illegal, immoral, unjustified, pointless, harming all the players and their citizens and if we are concerned about our “safety” then it is doing the exact opposite. The “twenty-one former generals and high ranking national security officials” had it right when they said “Bush’s ‘hard line’ policies have undermined national security and made America less safe.”

Okay, that being said. What are we going to do about it?

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Federal Judge Throws Out False Claims Act Jury Verdict Against Custer Battles

August 18, 2006 Leave a comment

20 Corporate Crime Reporter 33(1), August 18, 2006

A federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia has thrown out a False Claims Act jury verdict against Iraq defense contractor Custer Battles and its two principals – Scott Custer and Mike Battles.

In March 2006, the jury hit the Rhode Island based defense contractor with a $10 million verdict for ripping off the federal government on Iraq contracts.

The case was filed under the False Claims Act by Robert J. Isakson and William D. “Pete” Baldwin – two whistleblowers who used to work for Custer Battles.

Isakson and Baldwin were represented by Alan Grayson.

But in an opinion dated March 16, 2006 and released today, federal judge T.S. Ellis threw out the verdict.

In a 23-page opinion, Judge Ellis ruled that Custer Battles did not violate the False Claims Act.

The judge found that the Coalition Provisional Authority is not part of the U.S. government – and therefore the False Claims Act doesn’t apply.

“Although the CPA was principally controlled and funded by the U.S., this degree of control did not rise to the level of exclusive control required to qualify as an instrumentality of the U.S. government,” Judge Ellis wrote.

Judge Ellis did uphold the jury’s finding that Custer Battles engaged in a retaliatory discharge against one of the whistleblowers – Pete Baldwin. The jury awarded Baldwin $165,000 for that discharge.

Custer Battles attorney David Douglass, a partner at Porter Wright in Washington, D.C., said that his clients will probably not appeal Judge Ellis’ decision.


That is right, Bush creates a occupational government that violates our own laws and the criminals get off because a judge says the occupational government was not a part of the U.S.

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