January 31st, 2004 - by admin
by IraqiNews.com –
A number of questions are raised by the incredibly bedraggled, tired and crushed condition of this once savage, dapper and pampered ruler who was discovered in a hole in the ground on Saturday, December 13:
1. The length and state of his hair indicated he had not seen a barber or even had a shampoo for several weeks.
2. The wild state of his beard indicated he had not shaved for the same period
3. The hole dug in the floor of a cellar in a farm compound near Tikrit was primitive indeed – 6ft across and 8ft across with minimal sanitary arrangements – a far cry from his opulent palaces.
4. Saddam looked beaten and hungry.
5. Detained with him were two unidentified men, two AK-47 assault guns and a pistol, none of which were used.
6. The hole had only one opening. It was not only camouflaged with mud and bricks – it was blocked. He could not have climbed out without someone on the outside removing the covering.
7. And most important, $750,000 in 100-dollar notes were found with him – but no communications equipment of any kind, whether cell phone or even a carrier pigeon for contacting the outside world.
According to analysts, these seven anomalies point to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein was not in hiding; he was a prisoner.
After his last audiotaped message was delivered and aired over al Arabiya TV on Sunday November 16, on the occasion of Ramadan, Saddam was seized, possibly with the connivance of his own men, and held in that hole in Adwar for three weeks or more, which would have accounted for his appearance and condition.
Meanwhile, his captors bargained for the $25 million prize the Americans promised for information leading to his capture alive or dead. The negotiations were mediated by Jalal Talabani’s Kurdish PUK militia.
These circumstances would explain the ex-ruler’s docility – described by Lt.Gen. Ricardo Sanchez as “resignation” – in the face of his capture by US forces. He must have regarded them as his rescuers and would have greeted them with relief.
From Gen. Sanchez’s evasive answers to questions on the $25 million bounty, it may be inferred that the Americans and Kurds took advantage of the negotiations with Saddam’s abductors to move in close and capture him on their own account, for three reasons:
A. His capture had become a matter of national pride for the Americans. No kudos would have been attached to his handover by a local gang of bounty-seekers or criminals. The country would have been swept anew with rumors that the big hero Saddam was again betrayed by the people he trusted, just as in the war.
B. It was vital to catch his kidnappers unawares so as to make sure Saddam was taken alive. They might well have killed him and demanded the prize for his body. But they made sure he had no means of taking his own life and may have kept him sedated.
C. During the weeks he is presumed to have been in captivity, guerrilla activity declined markedly – especially in the Sunni Triangle towns of Falluja, Ramadi and Balad – while surging outside this flashpoint region – in Mosul in the north and Najef, Nasseriya and Hilla in the south. It was important for the coalition to lay hands on him before the epicenter of the violence turned back towards Baghdad and the center of the Sunni Triangle.
The next thing to watch now is not just where and when Saddam is brought to justice for countless crimes against his people and humanity – Sanchez said his interrogation will take “as long as it takes – but what happens to the insurgency. Will it escalate or gradually die down?
An answer to this, according to counter-terror sources, was received in Washington nine days before Saddam reached US custody.
It came in the form of a disturbing piece of intelligence that the notorious Lebanese terrorist and hostage-taker Imad Mughniyeh, who figures on the most wanted list of 22 men published by the FBI after 9/11, had arrived in southern Iraq and was organizing a new anti-US terror campaign to be launched in March-April 2004, marking the first year of the American invasion.
For the past 21 years, Mughniyeh has waged a war of terror against Americans, whether on behalf of the Hizballah, the Iranian Shiite fundamentalists, al Qaeda or for himself. The Lebanese arch-terrorist represents for the anti-American forces in Iraq an ultimate weapon.
Saddam’s capture will not turn this offensive aside; it may even bring it forward.
January 31st, 2004 - by admin
by Peter Beaumont, Gaby Hinsliff and Paul Harris – The Observer
Senior American officials concluded at the beginning of last May that there were no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, The Observer has learnt.
Intelligence sources, policy makers and weapons inspectors familiar with the details of the hunt for WMD told The Observer it was widely known that Iraq had no WMD within three weeks of Baghdad falling, despite the assertions of senior Bush administration figures and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
The new revelation came as White House sources indicated that President George Bush was considering establishing an investigation into the intelligence, despite rejecting an inquiry the previous day.
The disclosure that US military survey teams sent to visit suspected sites of WMD, and intelligence interviews with Iraqi scientists and officials, had concluded so quickly that no major weapons or facilities would be found is certain to produce serious new embarrassment on both sides of the Atlantic.
According to the time-line provided by the US sources, it would mean that Number 10 would have been aware of the US doubts that weapons would be found before the outbreak of the feud between Number 10 and Andrew Gilligan, and before the exposure of Dr David Kelly as Gilligan’s source for his claims that the September dossier had been ‘sexed up’ to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.
Officials Knew Intelligence Was ‘Probably Wrong’
It would suggest too that some officials who defended the 24 September dossier in evidence before the Hutton inquiry did so in the knowledge that the pre-war intelligence was probably wrong. Indeed, comments from a senior Washington official first casting serious doubt on the existence of WMD were put to Downing Street by The Observer – and rejected – as early as 3 May.
Among those interviewed by The Observer was a very senior US intelligence official serving during the war against Iraq with an intimate knowledge of the search for Iraq’s WMD.
‘We had enough evidence at the beginning of May to start asking, “where did we go wrong?”,’ he said last week. ‘We had already made the judgment that something very wrong had happened [in May] and our confidence was shaken to its foundations.’
US Intelligence Officer Says Criticism Was ‘Suppressed’
The source, a career intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity, was also scathing about the massive scale of the failure of intelligence over Iraq both in the US and among its foreign allies — alleging that the intelligence community had effectively suppressed dissenting views and intelligence.
The claim is confirmed by other sources, as well as figures like David Albright, a former UN nuclear inspector with close contacts in both the world of weapons inspection and intelligence.
‘It was known in May,’ Albright said last week, ‘that no one was going to find large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. The only people who did not know that fact was the public.’
The new disclosure follows the claims last week by Dr David Kay, the former head of the Iraq Survey Group, a hawk who believed Iraq retained prohibited weapons, that he now believed that the alleged stockpiles ‘had never existed’.
It also comes as the House and Senate intelligence committees, which have been hearing evidence on why no weapons have been found, prepare to publish their reports this month.
Although it is expected that they will conclude that there was no political interference in the intelligence process, as some critics have alleged, the reports are expected to be damning about the quality of the intelligence that led to war.
The revelation is likely to lead to increased pressure both in Britain and the United States for an inquiry into the intelligence marshalled in favour of war.
Bush & Cheney Accused of ‘Manipulating Pre-war Intelligence’
In recent weeks Bush has come under concerted pressure over the issue, with Democratic presidential candidates accusing both him and Vice-President Dick Cheney of manipulating pre-war intelligence to make the case for invasion.
White House sources said that President Bush is considering the formation of an independent panel to investigate pre-war intelligence on Iraq that he used to justify going to war.
Aides are discussing it with congressional officials, sources familiar with the discussions said last night.
Bush had rejected an independent investigation amid White House fears of a political witch-hunt by Democrats hoping to unseat him in elections this year, but began in recent days to reconsider the position.
‘I want the American people to know that I, too, want to know the facts,’ Bush told reporters on Friday.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a range of options for such a panel was being explored and that an agreement was hoped for soon.
The White House would not comment.
Arizona Republican Senator John McCain broke party ranks to join Democratic demands for an independent probe into how US intelligence got it wrong, given the failure by searchers to find weapons of mass destruction.
January 30th, 2004 - by admin
by Ed Mainland –
FOR MARK SANDALOW, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, SF CHRONICLE
January 28, 2004
Because the San Francisco Chronicle remains enigmatically silent at White House press conferences, here are a baker’s dozen scripted questions to help your employees break the ice and get up their nerve:
1. Mr. President, you say there still may be weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but your chief weapons inspector says there aren’t now and never were. Why don’t you support an independent inquiry to clear up this disagreement? Why not call in the UN inspectors to clarify matters?
2. Mr. President, you say the intelligence was sound on which you based your decision to make war on Iraq. You praise the intelligence community that produced it. But your chief weapons inspector says that
intelligence was badly flawed and has called for an independent investigation to find out why and prevent future errors. Why do you not support this investigation?
3. Mr. President, you say that Iraq was “a dangerous place”. How was this a justification to make war on another sovereign state, as Richard Perle has confirmed, “illegally”? Aren’t there lots of “dangerous places” in the world? Oakland, for example? Or the Tenderloin?
4. Mr. President, you said that “We know that Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today” (Oct. 7, 2002). You said that “we have found Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction” (March 28, 2003, in Poland). Would you describe these statements as lies, fabrications, misrepresentations, untruths, distortions, unwitting exaggerations or fibs? Or did you “misspeak”? Or were you “misled”. If misled, by whom?
5. Mr. President, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said that “We do know that the Iraqi regime currently has chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction”. None have been found and your chief weapons inspector says there never were any. Do you believe that Mr. Rumsfeld
lied or was he misled, and if the latter, who misled him? Do you still believe Mr. Rumsfeld to be a reliable, competent public servant of sound judgment in view of this profound error?
6. Mr. President, you maintain that Saddam was a “grave and gathering threat to America and the world”. What exactly was the threat, in view of the fact that Saddam had no serious weaponry, his army and economy was decaying and were weaker than any time since 1971, sanctions and
inspections had effectively contained and deterred him for more than a decade, UN weapons inspectors were crawling all over his country, the no-fly zones truncated his area of control, he couldn’t even threaten
the Kurds in the North, the Shiia in the South were organizing against him, the Israeli military said Iran, not Iraq, was the main threat to Israel, the UN and Israel agreed that Iraq had no nuclear weapons program, Turkey, Iraq’s neighbor, was unconcerned and denied Iraq was a threat to the region, and according to senior Iraqis now in captivity, Saddam was losing his grip on his own military apparatus and even his
7. Mr. President, your press spokesman said Tuesday that you never said Iraq was an “imminent” threat, just that the threat was “grave and gathering”. Please explain the difference between “imminent” and “grave
and gathering”. And if you did not mean to imply that the threat was “imminent” in your many insinuations and indirect assertions that this was so, what was the rush to invade? If the threat was not imminent,
why would it not have been better to wait to see what the UN inspectors found or at least delay the invasion for 30 days as the French proposed so better evidence could be discovered and the weapons assertions sustained or falsified?
8. Mr. President, if there were no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and you are now blocking a fair, direct, open “one-man/one vote” election in Iraq in favor of a incomprehensible system of rigged,
undemocratic caucuses that are designed to bar from power candidates whom you don’t like, what have more than 500 American soldiers died for in Iraq?
9. Mr. President, your critics claim that both of your stated reasons for waging pre-emptive war — “grave threat” to U.S. national security and “democratic liberation” don’t seem to hold up. And in regard to
Saddam’s eligibility for preventive “liberation” and the two waves of large-scale repression of Saddam’s internal enemies which account for most of the mass graves you frequently allude to — the gassing of the
Kurds and the massacre of the Shiite uprising — didn’t they occur because of the acquiescence, negligence, quiescence and specific policy mistakes of the then administration of Bush 41?
10. Mr. President, when the American army invaded and occupied Iraq, it showed little interest in the weapons sites you and your colleagues had previously alleged to contain dangerous arsenals. Did you and they know
all along that there were no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and instead used such allegations as a pretext to get American forces deployed permanently in the Middle East to dominate the region, secure
its oil supplies, protect Israel and signal would-be challengers about the muscularity of American global power, as the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and neoconservatives in your administration had
11. Mr. President, why did you meet with grieving British families of soldiers killed in the Iraq insurgency but you never meet with American families who have lost loved ones to the insurgency and might benefit
from your solace? Why do you, alone of American presidents, prevent the televising of the ceremonial return of the coffins lost American soldiers at Andrews AFB and other points of entry? Don’t you think you
owe our lost soldiers at least this one honor in the sight of the nation?
12. Mr. President, since you say you support democracy in the region and the world, what are your plans to invade, overthrow and replace the dictator of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, who boils his political opponents
in vats of water and watches them die, and who holds more than 10,000 Uzbek political prisoners in harsh gulags, and who grants the U.S. important base rights for projecting power into northern Afghanistan and the whole of Central Asia? When will Uzbekistan be added to your “axis of evil” to be invaded in order to that this important allied state enjoy the blessings of freedom, liberty and the American way of life?
And when will the dictator of Azerbaidjan, newly confirmed by a widely ridiculed fake election, and who happens to be a key U.S. ally in control of the oil riches of Baku and the Caspian Sea, be attacked and captured by U.S. forces to liberate the Azeri people from the yoke of tyranny? Where are the neoconservatives and their calls for “remaking the face of the region” when Central Asians are groaning under the lash
of dictators even more evil than Saddam?
13. Mr. President, the victims of 9/11 have called on you to cooperate more fully with the independent official investigation of the tragedy. Your critics say you are stalling, trying to run out the clock, then terminate the investigation without extending the deadline as the appointed panel has asked. Sir, what is it that you are trying to hide?
— Ed Mainland, General Secretary, Whited Sepulchre Foundation, Marin County, CA
January 30th, 2004 - by admin
by DefenseTech –
Security guards at the country’s leading nuclear storehouse have been cheating during antiterrorism drills — perhaps for as long as 20 years, according to a report released Monday by the Energy Department’s inspector general.
And now, watchdogs in Congress and beyond are questioning whether the tons of enriched uranium at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, are really safe at all.
“First off, heads should roll,” said Rep. Christopher Shays (R- CT), who chairs the House Committee on Government Reform’s National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations Subcommittee. “I can assure you, my committee will be following up in a very direct way.”
Y-12 is America’s main facility for processing enriched uranium. It stores nearly all of the country’s reserve of about 5,000 “secondaries,” the thermonuclear hearts of hydrogen bombs.
When a team of Y-12 rent-a-cops racked up a perfect score during an antiterror drill June 26, officials there were shocked.
How could the guards have performed so well, they wondered, when a computer model had predicted that the defenders would lose at least half of their confrontations?
The answer was simple: The guards cheated. They had seen the computer models of the strikes the day before they were launched, rendering the test “tainted and unreliable,” according to the report. And this wasn’t the first time it had happened…
January 30th, 2004 - by admin
by La Voz de Atlan –
LOS ANGELES (January 27, 2004) — The Mexican Navy announced yesterday that it has bought from Israel two fully operational Aliya class speed boats capable of launching 5 Gabriel missiles each. Naval Captain Arturo Flores Gil told the Mexico City “La Jornada” newspaper that Mexico had paid Israel 60 million dollars for the two naval missile launchers and 10 missiles. Each missile is capable of being outfitted with nuclear warheads.
Why would Mexico spend such large sums of money for weapons at a time when countless of Mexicans have no tortillas nor frijoles to eat and are being forced to migrate to the USA? Captain Arturo Flores Gil said that the highly sophisticated weapons are needed to protect the 360 PEMEX oil rigs in the waters off Campeche. The Campeche oil fields are the richest in Mexico that produces 83% of the nation’s oil.
When La Jornada asked Captain Arturo Flores Gil whether the weapons purchase meant that Mexico is collaborating with the Israeli Defense Forces, he answered, “It was a purchase based strictly on commercial considerations.” President Vicente Fox Quesada of the Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) has been increasingly criticized for the disproportionate number of Jews in his administration and for taking large sums of money from Jewish groups in the USA during his campaign.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
La Voz de Aztlan
January 29th, 2004 - by admin
by The Stop the War Coalition / United Kingdom –
LONDON (January 28, 2004) — The Stop the War Coalition today completely rejects the conclusions of Lord Hutton’s Inquiry. Far from providing an impartial analysis of the reason we were taken into war, we have a report of over 700 pages which can only be called a whitewash. We believe that millions of people in Britain will be astonished and dismayed that this report criticises everyone except the government.
Hutton’s remit was always narrow, but he has made a clear decision to believe the politicians rather than anyone else.
The major questions about the war remain unanswered. Why were we lied to about the imminent threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Where are the weapons? Did Tony Blair and George Bush agree secretly to go to war as far back as spring 2002?
We accept Tony Blair’s challenge to debate fully the reasons behind the decisions to go to war, including the discredited claim of weapons of mass destruction, and call on him to set up a full an independent inquiry into reasons why the UK entered a war that broke international law.
For all the aforementioned reasons the Stop the War Coalition has called a protest outside 10 Downing Street this Saturday 31st January, from 12 noon to 2pm.
70% of Britons Agree with SWC
Today’s opinion poll by NOP reveals that yet again The Stop the War Coalition is the leading voice of public opinion when it comes to the ongoing conflict in Iraq.
When asked the question, Do you think there should now be a full independent into the reasons given by the Government for the war in Iraq?, an unequivocal 70% answered YES.
The Stop the War Coalition today again calls on Tony Blair and his Government to launch a full and independent inquiry into the reasons he took us into this illegal war.
The so-called evidence that Tony Blair used to take this country into war has unravelled since George Bush proclaimed the end of hostilities. Yesterday, at the first of a number of Senate hearings, David Kay, the recent head of the Iraq Survey group said that there should be an investigation into why we went to war on intelligence that was so flawed.
Last month, George Bush’s first Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, let the cat out of the bag when he revealed that the president of the USA was trying to construct a reason for invading Iraq weeks into his term of office.
Whatever the truth about Dr. David Kelly and what he did or didn’t say to a BBC correspondent, the fact remains that the 45 minute claim that Saddam could launch biological and chemical weapons was false, based on one source, who has now retracted what he said.
Months after the conflict was said to be over WMD’s still have not been found. Months after the conflict was said to be over thousands of Iraqi’s have died, hundreds of troops have perished illegally occupying a foreign land. And months after the conflict was said to be over democracy and freedom of choice for the Iraqi people still is as far away as it was when the war began.
The time has come for Tony Blair to put before the British people, through a full independent inquiry, the evidence that he claims was overwhelming. Until he does, the British people will continue to treat anything he says with the contempt it deserves.
January 29th, 2004 - by admin
by Commentary by Mark Morford /San Francisco Gate Columnist –
(January 23, 2004) — So then about a month ago the vice president of these beautiful and deeply confused United States, he of the struggling defibrillator and the shockingly nefarious wife and the gnarled calluses from working Dubya’s puppet strings, he of the thin-lipped sneer that makes babies cry and women wince and foreign policies crumble like feta cheese in the freezer, well, Dick goes himself a-huntin’.
Not just any ol’ regular, camouflage-wearing, man-versus-nature hunt out in the wild, mind. Dick is far too fragile and unskilled and spoiled and scared of the open woods and icky furry monsters for that. Assumedly.
Nossir, our man Dick, he has himself flown over, in Air Force 2, on the taxpayer’s tab, accompanied by his most favoritest shotgun, to the exclusive Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier, Westmoreland County, in rural Pennsylvania, to have himself a nice, cushy “canned” pheasant hunt.
This is what it was: Dick and about nine other overfed white guys sitting in a comfy luxury blind with their manly shotguns, waiting for the Westmoreland guy stationed behind them on a hill to release clusters of stunned, fat, tame game birds from a net. Then they shoot them.
Lots and lots of them. And then they slap each other on the back. And they grunt and say nice shot as the birds drop like flies as dogs race back and forth hauling dead or dying birds into huge piles. Whee what fun.
It’s Easier than Shooting Sitting Ducks
More than 400 birds were killed in one lackadaisical afternoon. Dick himself blasted the living crap out of 70 birds, all by himself. That’s right, 70. Plus an unknown number of mallard ducks. Then they had them all plucked and vacuum packed and sent back home to show off to the staff. Dick was driven back to the airport in a Humvee.
Are we not all impressed? Are we not all sitting here saying, wow, that Dick Cheney guy, he of the massive alleged Halliburton corruption scandals, he is one studly dude, slaughtering a small mountain of docile, stupefied birds that had no chance of escape. What a guy.
And what a display of prowess and skill, using his day off to kill almost as many pheasant and duck in an afternoon as all those notions of progress that have been slaughtered by his inbred cronyist pro-industry energy policy since the beginning of this sentence. Gosh.
Even real hunters cringe at canned hunts. It is not a sport. It is not man versus nature. There is no nobility, no honor, no sportsmanship, no instinct, no luck, no tramping through fields and crouching in blinds and waiting for hours as you coddle the barrel of your shotgun and dream of J.Lo and tell jokes about homos and Hillary Clinton, just so you can shoot a few wild birds.
It Was a Slaughter, Not a Sport
In other words, Cheney’s canned hunt had none of the ostensibly sporting characteristics of true hunting. Cheney’s was essentially a slaughter, a bloody target practice for aging over-pampered white males who never have sex and have desperately zero outlet for all their pent-up misanthropic energies. In short.
Yes, there are far more pressing issues for us to care about than a bunch of dead birds. And, yes, there are roughly a billion chickens slaughtered every damn day in this county by giant pollutive industrial farms in far more inhumane and brutal and disgusting and inbred and feces-thick and imminently liquefied and reconstituted and resold-as-McNuggets ways than Uncle Dick’s little afternoon birdie bloodbath.
And, yes, indeed, canned hunts happen far more often than anyone probably imagines. There are private ranches all over the country, most offering manly trophy hunters a “guaranteed” kill of some overbred, tame, exotic animal, such as antelopes, deer, cattle, swine, bears, zebras and sometimes even big cats.
Texas — A Canned Hunt Paradise
These ranches, most operating in — you guessed it — Texas, service lazy fee-paying trophy hunters who want a giant stuffed antelope head for the den but don’t want to deal with any of that nasty nature or travel to Africa. God bless America.
So Dick’s little hunt was not all that rare. Which of course makes it no less stupid, no less of a brutal blood rush. It was a taxpayer-supported trip taken solely for the sake of … what? Not sport. Not gamesmanship. Not food. Just the little thrill that comes from killing something that never had a prayer? Is that it, Dick? Kick up the defibrillator a notch? Must be.
Hell, we taxpayers could’ve saved a fortune in Secret Service time and Air Force 2 gas money had Dick simply have one of his lackeys — Colin Powell, say — tie long strings to the feet of 70 ducks and tether them to the White House lawn. Then Dick could just sit in a nice leather recliner and shoot them at will.
Simpler still, aides simply could’ve nailed the birds’ feet to the floor with a staple gun and Dick could’ve put on a pair of army boots like the kind he avoided wearing during the Vietnam War, and as the birds squawked Dick could’ve jumped around like a human pogo stick and stomped on each bird, popping it like a balloon. Yay Dick!
And, finally, there is the patented Dubya hunting method, wherein you make a little gun shape with your thumb and index finger and sit back and “aim” at each bird and shout “Bang!” and someone smashes the bird in the head with a baseball bat. Same difference, really.
You know what? It’s not a big deal. It’s just a bunch of dead birds, right? Over 400 of them spread among 10 guys who simply could not shoot fast enough to kill them all. Again, it happens all the time.
Except here, here in the land of obvious and tragicomic analogy, where you simply cannot help but transfer Dick’s little aggro mind-set — this numbly violent attitude of “just line ’em up and shoot ’em and pretend you’re actually a manly hunter when all you are is rather heartless and inhumane and small” — over to the government itself.
The Bush/Cheney Approach to Hunting, Politics and War
Which is to say, this is the worldview we are up against. This is yet another perfect example of the American agenda as set forth by the CheneyRumsfeldRove Triumvirate o’ Pain, very much the way this administration attacks the world. No competition. No sportsmanship. No fairness. Zero respect. No reverence. And no actual talent required. Just kill at will.
Because it is, in the final analysis, all about how you approach and engage the world, nature, yourself. It is all about with what degree of sacredness and veneration you walk the planet, treading lightly or stomping heavily, in awe of the interconnectedness or working to crush the beautiful and the weak for profit and hollow thrill. It is, after all, your choice.
Do you, as Dick Cheney obviously does, see the world as your personal blood-sport playground, where you can take anything you want, kill whatever you like, respect nothing nature has to offer, suffer no ramifications, and do it all on someone else’s tab? Well then. You have made your choice. The GOP wants you.
Mark Morford’s Notes & Errata column appears every Wednesday and Friday on SF Gate, unless it appears on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which it never does. He also writes the Morning Fix, a deeply skewed thrice-weekly e-mail column and newsletter. Subscribe at sfgate.com/newsletters.
January 29th, 2004 - by admin
by Ray McGovern / TomPaine.com –
(Jan 27, 2004) — The CIA’s chief weapons inspector, David Kay, has driven the final nail into the coffin where rests the Bush administration’s policy of preemptive war. It turns out that there was nothing to preempt.
Which calls into question the real reason why more than 500 US troops have been killed and at least 6,000 severely wounded — and why untold thousands of Iraqi army conscripts and civilians have also been killed. (Precise figures are impossible to come by since US casualties are flown back to the United States in the dead of night, and proconsul Paul Bremer has instructed Iraqi authorities to stop counting civilian casualties.)
Without Evidence of WMDs, Invasion becomes an International War Crime
Nothing to preempt also means that the US/UK attack on Iraq last March falls into the category of “preventive war” explicitly condemned by international law. Which also means that the British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s political career is probably finished, as is the political future of other gullible leaders of the “coalition of the willing” — in Australia, for example, and in even in Denmark.
You will not have heard this on FOX news, but the Australian Senate has already formally censured Prime Minister John Howard for misleading the country on Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD) and for suppressing a key report from Australian intelligence warning that still more widespread terrorism could be expected to follow any attack on Iraq.
The fact that Kay came up empty-handed also means that the transparently disingenuous remarks of President George W. Bush and his senior aides in attempting to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq will fall far short of what the White House needs in order to defend the most misguided and destructive U.S. foreign policy decision since Vietnam.
Announcing last week that he was leaving his job as searcher-in-chief for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, Kay dared not say “Mission Accomplished.” Rather, he said he believed that “probably 85 percent of the significant things” have now been found — but no WMD. He dutifully urged that the other 15 percent be pursued under his successor, Charles Duelfer, but Duelfer is openly skeptical that he will have any better luck.
Deulfer told the press on Jan. 9: “the prospect of finding chemical weapons, biological weapons is close to nil at this point.” He noted that the inspectors have debriefed many knowledgeable Iraqi scientists, who “have every incentive to show them where the WMD are, and they have come up with nothing.”
White House In Denial
Nevertheless, senior administration officials are still putting up a hopeful front. One told the press on Saturday that until “all” the Iraqis involved in WMD programs are interviewed, the “jury is still out” on the accuracy of U.S. intelligence. Another said yesterday that it would be premature to make any definitive judgment until “millions and millions of pages” of documents have been translated from the Arabic.
To his credit, Kay is having none of that. “Why could we all be so wrong?” he asks; and his lament is all too reminiscent of Robert McNamara’s “We were wrong, terribly wrong” on Vietnam. Kay initially had been a strong supporter of the attack on Iraq and, when appointed chief inspector, he exuded confidence that he would find the weapons.
Most of the answer is to be found in a novel, faith-based approach to intelligence analysis — an approach that applies the theorem propounded by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Secretary of State Colin Powell rang a change on that theme last week when he provided this explanation: “What we demanded of Iraq was that they prove the negative of our hypothesis.”
Cheney Says WMDs Might Still Be Found… Someday
Vice President Dick Cheney and the true believers working in the sizable intelligence apparat in his office have kept faith with the Rumsfeld theorem — Kay’s and Duelfer’s apostate comments notwithstanding. In an interview with National Public Radio last week, Cheney insisted that inspectors in Iraq may still find WMD.
This expression of faith was accompanied by a litany of other assertions discredited by Kay and others; for example, that trailers found in Iraq posed “conclusive evidence” that Saddam Hussein “did in fact have programs for WMD.”
Kay made short shrift of that lingering canard when he alluded to a new intelligence community consensus that the trailers were actually designed to produce hydrogen for weather balloons, or perhaps rocket fuel.
For good measure, Cheney threw in the old saw about a link between one of the 9/11 hijackers and Iraq, and cited the compendium of unconfirmed reports on such links that was prepared by Rumsfeld disciple Douglas Feith, sent to the Senate, and then leaked immediately to the right-wing Weekly Standard.
A “Sinister Nexus” in Washington?
Powell, however, recently admitted there is no concrete evidence of such ties, despite his conjuring up a “sinister nexus” in his UN speech on Feb. 5, 2003. And, in a highly unusual move, the Defense Department disavowed Feith’s litany when it hit the open press.
On WMD Cheney insisted, “It’s going to take some additional considerable period of time in order to look in all the cubbyholes (sic) and ammo dumps… where you’d expect to find something like that.” This is not the first hint that Cheney has dropped that he would like to string out the quest for WMD until after the November election, while asking the American people in the interim to keep faith.
Other senior officials appear to be hedging their faith in the gullibility of American voters. They are urging the president to say, “The CIA made me do it.”
Quizzed on WMD by reporters last week, Powell explained that his UN speech was based on “what our intelligence community believed was credible.” (This is a far cry from the “solid sources” he said were the underpinning of that speech.) Powell complained to the reporters, “If they (the Iraqis) didn’t have any (WMD), then why wasn’t that known beforehand?” Why indeed?
Whom to Blame?
Were not a campaign for the presidency in full swing, FOX and other US media serving as ventriloquist for the administration might succeed in cutting off the legs of this major story. But, clearly, that will not be possible. It appears likely that Karl Rove and the president’s other political advisers are now telling Bush that Cheney’s tough-it-out attitude has run its course.
Do we have a volunteer to take the fall? Yes — CIA Director Tenet, who for months has been telling intimates that he intends to leave his post soon anyway. President Bush’s gratuitous accolades for the CIA yesterday, however, suggest that he has not yet been persuaded to jettison him. So it appears possible that the CIA director (widely referred to in Washington as “Teflon Tenet”) may survive to serve another day.
Why? Because he is useful. He has done what he has been told to do — even when this meant scandalizing his analysts by acquiescing in Secretary Powell’s request that Tenet sit directly behind him at the UN in an obvious attempt to give CIA’s imprimatur to “intelligence” his analysts knew to be highly dubious. Besides, Tenet knows far too much about what Bush had been told before 9/11.
Tenet might even agree to stay on and cooperate in a campaign to blame the administration’s misguided decisions on Iraq on the intelligence community. This even though he knows better than anyone that those decisions predated by at least several months the National Intelligence Estimate conjured up quickly in the fall of 2002. The draft of that estimate was used to persuade Congress to cede to the president its constitutional power to declare war.
That the malleable Tenet will comply with just about anything was clear by his acquiescence in Rumsfeld’s cynical request early last year to keep track of how good the intelligence would prove to be regarding WMD—chutzpah of the highest order, since it was the “mini-CIA” Rumsfeld created in the Pentagon that fed Bush the lion’s share of adulterated “intelligence” on those putative weapons.
So most signs point to Tenet being a willing scapegoat, if that is what the White House decides. Kay has already said that fundamental errors in pre-war intelligence assessments were so serious that the intelligence community should overhaul its collection and analysis efforts.
In response, an intelligence official said lamely, “it is premature to say that the intelligence community’s judgments were completely wrong or largely wrong — there are still a lot of answers we need.”
Ray McGovern, a 27-year career analyst with the CIA, is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity and co-director of the Servant Leadership School, an outreach ministry in the inner city of Washington, DC.
January 29th, 2004 - by admin
by Greg Palast — Special to EAW –
He did not say, “hello,” or even his name, just left a one-word message: “Whitewash.” It came from an embattled journalist whispering from inside the bowels of a television and radio station under siege, on a small island off the coast of Ireland — from BBC London.
And another call, from a colleague at the Guardian: “The future of British journalism is very bleak.”
However, the future for fake and farcical war propaganda is quite bright indeed. Today, Lord Hutton issued his report that followed an inquiry revealing the Blair government’s manipulation of intelligence to claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass murder threatening immanent attack on London.
Based on the Blair government’s claim, headlines pumped the war hysteria: SADDAM COULD HAVE NUCLEAR BOMB IN YEAR, screeched the London Times. BRITS 45 MINS FROM DOOM, shrieked the Sun newspaper.
Given these facts, only a sissy pacifist, a lunatic or a Saddam fellow traveler would fail to see that Prime Minister “Winston” Blair had no choice but to re-conquer [Britain’s] former Mesopotamian colony.
But these headline were, in fact, false, and deadly so. Unlike America’s press puppies, BBC reporters thought it their duty to check out these life or death claims.
David Kelly ‘Outed’ as Punishment
Reporters Andrew Gilligan and Susan Watts contacted a crucial source, Britain’s and the United Nation’s top weapons inspector. He told reporter Watts that the Weapons of Mass Destruction claims by Blair and our own President Bush were “all spin.” Gilligan went further, reporting that this spin, this “sexed up” version of intelligence, was the result of interventions by Blair’s PR henchman, Alistair Campbell.
Whatever reading of the source’s statements, it was clear that intelligence experts had deep misgivings about the strength of the evidence for war.
The source? Dr. David Kelly. To save itself after the reports by Gilligan and Watts, the government, including the Prime Minister himself, went on an internal crusade to out the name of its own intelligence operative so it could then discredit the news items.
Publishing the name of an intelligence advisor is serious stuff. In the USA, a special criminal prosecutor is now scouring the White House to find the person who publicly named a CIA agent. If found, the Bushite leaker faces jail time.
Blair’s government was not so crude as to give out Dr. Kelly’s name. Rather, they hit on a subterfuge of dropping clues then allowing reporters to play ’20 questions’ — if Kelly’s name were guessed, they’d confirm it. Only the thickest reporters (I name none here) failed after more than a couple tries.
Dr. Kelly (who had been proposed for knighthood) was named, harangued and his career destroyed by the outing. He then took his own life.
But today is not a day of mourning at 10 Downing Street, rather a day of self-congratulations. There were no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear warhead just short of completion, no “45 minutes to doom” bombs auguring a new London blitz. The exile group which supplied this raw claim now calls the 45 minute story, “a crock of shit.”
Yet Blair’s minions are proclaiming their vindication.
This is not just a story about what is happening “over there” in the United Kingdom. This we must remember: David Kelly was not only advisor to the British but to the UN and, by extension, the expert for George W. Bush. Our commander-in-chief leaped to adopt the Boogey Man WMD stories from the Blair government when our own CIA was reticent.
Killing the Messenger
So M’Lord Hutton has killed the messenger — the BBC. Should the reporter Gilligan have used more cautious terms? Some criticism is fair. But the extraordinary import of his and Watts’ story is forgotten: Our two governments bent the information then hunted down the questioners.
And now the second invasion of the Iraq war proceeds: the conquest of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Until now, this quasi-governmental outlet has refused to play Izvestia to any prime minister, Labour or Tory.
As of today, the independence of the most independent major network on this planet is under attack. Blair’s government is “cleared” and now arrogantly sport their kill, the head of Gavyn Davies, BBC’s chief, who resigned today.
“The bleak future for British journalism” portends darkness for journalists everywhere — the threat to the last great open platform for hard investigative reporting. And frankly, it’s a worrisome day for me. I’m not a disinterested by-stander. My most important investigations — all but banned from US airwaves — were developed and broadcast by BBC Newsnight, reporter Watts’ program.
Will an iron curtain descend on the news? Before dawn today, I was reading Churchill’s words to the French command in the hours before as the Panzers breached the defenses of Paris. Churchill told those preparing to surrender, “Whatever you may do, we shall fight on forever and ever and ever.” This may yet be British journalism’s Finest Hour.
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democ//racy Money Can Buy. His reports for BBC Newsnight and The Guardian papers and other writings may be viewed at www.GregPalast.com.
January 28th, 2004 - by admin
by Jo Wilding /Electronic Iraq –
BAGDAD (December 25th, 2003) — Dr Jinan at the clinic in Abu Ghraib says there are patients coming in with illnesses that she and her colleagues can’t diagnose. Patients are referred to the main hospital complex at Baghdad Medical City but they return with still no diagnosis and having had no treatment. In particular, there have been patients presenting with bubbles on the skin. They “become hot, like burning coals, get hard and spread.” She said they don’t understand it.
There’s been an enormous increase in allergenic respiratory and skin problems with no apparent trigger. In particular there has been a rise in three conditions — alopeicia (hair loss), psoriasis and viteligo (skin problems). These are not infections spreading through the community but auto-immune, caused by the body attacking itself, to put it simply. They are related to nerves, so fear and stress could be a factor in the increase, but environmental factors are also believed to be important.
In the row of houses closest to the airport fence every single household reported some kind of skin or breathing problem. Probably the most common was white patches on the skin, which started, for most people, between April and July. Or spots on the skin, which turn black and then the skin peels off. Or the blisters or bubbles on the skin that Dr Jinan mentioned, with or without fluid.
Blistered Skin, Women Going Bald
Women brought us inside, away from the men, took off their hijabs and showed us bald patches on their heads. The water is contaminated and, to combat that, it’s filled with chemicals. It means you can drink it without spending the rest of the week in the toilet but it wrecks your skin.
One of the women brought us to her small son whose scalp was like a toadstool of red skin and white pustules under the hair, insanely itchy but too painful to touch.
Immediately after the bombing of the airport, people said, thousands of trucks started removing the soil from the complex. No one can tell us where it was dumped. Other trucks brought fresh soil from elsewhere to replace it and tarmac trucks came in to cover it over. About a month after the bombing, the trucks started leaving their loads closer to the fence, tipping rubble, metal, broken crockery and general debris in the 1st June sector. Kids play and men forage in the heaps between the houses.
One said “There are no jobs. Sometimes useful things are dumped and we come and find them and sell them.” Some of the kids told us about sweets, food and mineral water being thrown out. They go and eat the sweets and bring home the water and military ration MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). “No you don’t,” scolded one of the mothers. “I do,” the child said with a gleeful grin. She went red and said “Well, sometimes.”
‘3,000 Civilians Were Incinerated’ in US Air Attack
The November 2003 study by the Uranium Medical Research Committee (UMRC) said: “Witnesses living next to the airport report 3,000 civilians were incinerated by one morning’s attack from aerial bursts of thermobaric and fuel air bombs. Since the cessation of the main phase of battle, several of the Baghdad area battlefields [were] landscaped by the US forces and Iraqi contractors, thus preventing a thorough examination.”
One family living near the fence told us that all their chickens died on the day of the bombing. “There was no harm to their bodies, they were still complete, but they were dead.”
The grandmother’s eye ruptured during the bombing. A thermobaric weapon — stop eating before you read this — is essentially a fireball which sucks out all the oxygen in the area. Among other things it sucks out eyeballs and suffocates victims.
Thermobaric Bombs Pull the Eyes from their Sockets
“On the day of the bombing the smoke went in his eye and it ran for a week and then stopped and the doctor said he can’t operate because the nerves are already destroyed.”
The five-year-old boy watched us with his other eye and his 22-year-old sister stood in silence as their mother told us she was already deaf and mute from birth. She had her first fit during the bombing at the airport and has had them regularly, every week or ten days, since then. The mother is one of the women who have had several miscarriages in recent years.
The Dairy buildings on the other side of the airport are a little further from the fence, the Dairy provided a buffer. Less illness was reported there: the same conditions but less concentrated. In the 1st June sector as well, the frequency of problems seemed to decrease in the second and third rows of houses as you move back from the fence.
Health statistics are few and basic. We could get the rate per year of cancers, all types and all ages, for in patients at the hospital (one or none each year from 1991 to 1996, 7 in 1997, 3 in 1998 and then 11, 16, 15, 19 and 20 respectively for each of the last five years). We could get the monthly incidence of skin and breathing problems for in patients at the hospital.
We could get nothing about outpatients treated in the clinic, nothing to compare the monthly data for this year with previous years, nothing about the geographical distribution of sufferers, let alone any details of the majority who never go for diagnosis or treatment because they can’t afford it, which is why we were chatting about health with the women of the community in the first place.
Because of the threats made, we weren’t able to test water, soil and air to map the environmental contaminants which might be responsible and to work out a clean up scheme, but I didn’t come here to whine about the nigh-impossibility of doing any research so I’ll give it a rest there. What we did achieve was a general picture of health conditions and some of the environmental clean up work that might be needed.
The People Have Many Needs that Are Going Unmet
Zakia asked us, “Why don’t you tell them to tarmac the road?” That would be an improvement over the mud slide in front of her home, but they need decent drainage as well to get rid of the pools of manky water. They need the piles of rubble taken away so the kids can play somewhere safe and clean.
And they need and they need and they need. A tiny child called Melaak (Angel) was carried by her mum and her brothers and sisters, too weak to walk, suffering from a failure to thrive. She needs vitamins. Her mum’s pregnant again with the ninth child, the oldest being 17, out of school and working in a shop so now they’ve got a heater, after 8 years without even that.
Christmas day has been quiet after a night of low flying planes, rather than the usual helicopters, and frequent explosions. At the shop last night Ali said the Sheraton Hotel had been hit. This morning our neighbours told us it was hit again about 6am. In the Dora area there was bombing from the air and fire from an anti aircraft gun.
Baghdad’s Christians are mostly having a quiet Christmas. Clusters of people by the churches on a Thursday and longer-than-usual queues in the international telephone centres are the only real clue.
Firas celebrated last night with basturma. It’s meat, mixed with garlic, stuffed in socks to make it the right shape. He says they use women’s socks. Somehow this is supposed to make it sound better. The full sock is hung on a line to dry out and then the mixture is sliced and fried with eggs. He says it’s the best thing. The sock thing is putting me off. Maybe I’m just too squeamish.
We celebrated Reema’s 18th birthday instead. Parties happen in the daytime because it’s too difficult and dangerous to go out at night, so we went to a restaurant and ate cake. It was great. It was normal.
Jo Wilding is based in Baghdad and wrote for Electronic Iraq during the war.
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