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On The Handover to the “Sovereign” Iraqi Government

June 30th, 2004 - by admin

Felicity Arbuthnot / Global Research – 2004-06-30 12:10:01

http://globalresearch.ca/articles/ARB406A.html

(June 30, 2004) — That went well then. An illegal invasion and occupation, destruction of an entire civil society, murder, mayhem, chaos, torture, numerous ‘disappeared’ and an Administration — backed by an army wielding the most shocking and awesome weapons on earth – cowering in their ‘Dream Zone’ as the Iraqis have renamed it — too terrified to even walk the streets for fifteen months.

Given all, it was inevitable that the much-vaunted hand-over to the ‘sovereign’ Iraqi government was a furtive, hole-in-the-corner affair, brought forward by two days, in case the ‘insurgents’ had planned to mark the day with a political human sacrifice or two.

Then, like a thief in the night, America’s top ‘Terrorist Tsar’, Kissinger Associates Viceroy Bremer — whose directives from his isolated squat in Saddam’s foremost palace poured fuel on the fire of resistance at every ill-conceived move – showed the heels of his ridiculous desert boots and fled for Baghdad Airport, protected by a phalanx of goons in shades and heavy metal jackets.

Bremer’s Boots and Bush’s ‘Crusade’
Bremer’s boots trod neither Iraq’s extraordinary desert, nor Mesopotamia’s haunting pre-history archeological sites: Babylon, Qurna — site of the Garden of Eden — the Roman city of Hatra, or even Ur, believed Abraham’s birthplace, genesis of Islam, Judaism and the Christianity the US Administration so espouses and in the name of which Bush launched his ill-fated ‘Crusade’.

So another chapter in the history of one of the most ancient lands on earth, closed without pageant, buntings or even a State dinner, just a shoddy little ceremony from which the world and the Iraqi people were excluded which handed over minimal power to an Executive of which about two-thirds long ago relinquished their Iraqi citizenship and hold largely British and American passports and whose Prime Minister is a three-decade CIA and MI6 ‘asset’ and according to Robert Fisk, ‘asset’ to a further twelve governments.

A man for all seasons indeed. Ironically, having conceded to a hundred edicts laid down by Bremer which effectively neutralize any nascent power and pleaded with the US army to stay, the place he does not look like being much of an ‘asset’ to is Iraq.

Surreally, Bremer we are told, is off to take cookery lessons. They would have been enhanced had he visited one of Baghdad’s spice markets, the most famous and fragrant on earth, but he probably was unaware of their existence. As for Prime Minister Allawi, now clutching the poisoned chalice, the best he can do is keep checking that his life insurance is fully paid up.

The Furtive Handover Ignored the Iraqi People
The furtive nature of the handover, excluding the Iraqis, announcing it in Ankara before Baghdad is likely to haunt the ‘government’. The Ottomans (Turkey) ruled Iraq for four hundred bloody, repressive, unforgotten years, until less than a hundred years ago. After 13 years of UN sanctions, often almost daily bombings, a war and an invasion, pageantry, occasion, an inclusion in the handover might have generated if not enthusiasm, a pragmatism, a ‘let’s wait and see’. Iraqi pride, courage and nationalism, sense of history, is second to nothing. Gertrude Bell expresses it vibrantly in an undated essay from the 1930’s:

“…No less insistent on the imagination, and no less brilliantly coloured are the later chapters of the history of Iraq The echoing name of Alexander haunts them, the jewelled splendour of the Sassanian King of Kings … And last (to English ears not least) The enterprise, the rigours, the courage ….”

Iraqis for the most, have endured worse deprivation then even under the embargo, unaccountable slaughters, houses searched and trashed along with thefts by US troops; kidnappings, the horrors of Abu Ghraib, the siege of Fallujah, Najav, home demolitions — as Israeli methods in Palestine — throughout the country, mass graves courtesy of the USA, more torture at the hands of the British.

Iraqis Were ‘Excluded from their Own History’
What might have been a small chink of uncertain light was extinguished. Iraqis were excluded from their own history by what will certainly now be seen as a cowardly, Quisling government. It will also not be lost on Iraqis that Iyad Allawi has said remarkably little in condemnation of the torture of prisoners, or about charges, trials or potential releases.

“Iraq is no longer the home I would like to live in and I feel it no longer belongs to me nor do I relate to it. It is like someone who tried to have plastic surgery and the operation failed so the result was distortion and ugliness! Sometimes I snap and think it is only science fiction and it will all go away. In spite of all that was said and alleged, I will always cherish the memory of the great Iraq that was once upon a time ago”, wrote a Baghdadi friend who withstood the wars, the embargo, but has fled the ‘liberation’.

Enter the ‘Ambassador of Death’
Iraqis have one more immediate shock in store in the person of the new US Ambassador, John Dimitri Negroponte, who like Bremer has worked closely with Kissinger.

As Ambassador to Honduras (1981-1985) he supervised the creation of the El Aguacate Airbase which also became a CIA- and Argentinean-run detention centre where those held were allegedly routinely tortured. As late as 2000 remains of a believed 195 corpses were found there. Devices used in interrogation included: ‘shock and suffocation devices.’

Negroponte was renowned for not letting human rights considerations get in the way of a preferred outcome. Of his time in Honduras he is quoted as remarking:

“Given the turnmoil, it was not possible to support human rights.’ Ironically, as in Iraq, it was the US who engendered the turmoil. Prior to his last post as Ambassador to the UN, Negroponte was US Ambassador to Mexico, where he resided in: ‘the block-long, fortified US Embassy.'”

Human rights organisations in the US and Central and South America are attempting to have his position in Iraq nullified. In the meantime, it is hard to know whether he will be more at home in the ‘Dream Zone’ or Abu Ghraib.

Is there hope for Iraq as the parallels with Viet Nam and American colonial aspirations become starker? John Pilger thinks so:

“Bremer’s departure is in keeping with most colonial scuttles. The Americans believed they and their stooge regime would triumph in Vietnam, right to the bitter end and they were wrong. The Bremer/Bush project is no different. A chasm of bloodshed and failure awaits them. Perhaps only when American soldiers begin to mutiny openly, as they did in Vietnam, will the game be finally up. Unfortunately, that will not happen tomorrow, but it will happen.”

© Copyright belongs to the author, 2004. Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) at www.globalresearch.ca For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement.

 

US Chief Ordered British to Attack Iran

June 30th, 2004 - by admin

Michael Smith / The Telegraph – 2004-06-30 12:09:03

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/06/30/wiran30.xml&sSheet=/portal/2004/06/30/ixportal.html

LONDON June 30, 2004) — America’s military commander in Iraq ordered British troops to prepare a full-scale ground offensive against Iranian forces that had crossed the border and grabbed disputed territory, a senior officer has disclosed.

An attack would almost certainly have provoked open conflict with Iran. But the British chose instead to resolve the matter through diplomatic channels. “If we had attacked the Iranian positions, all hell would have broken loose,” a defence source said yesterday. “We would have had the Iranians to our front and the Iraqi insurgents picking us off at the rear.”

The incident was disclosed by a senior British officer at a conference in London last week and is reported in today’s edition of Defence Analysis. The identity of the officer is not given.

“Some Iranian border and observation posts were re-positioned over the border, broadly a kilometre into Iraq,” a Ministry of Defence spokesman said.

The incident began last July when Revolutionary Guards pushed about a kilometre into Iraq to the north and east of Basra in an apparent attempt to reoccupy territory which they claimed belonged to Iran.

Gen. Sanchez Nearly Started a Second War
Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez then ordered the British to prepare to send in several thousand troops to attack the Revolutionary Guard positions.

The Revolutionary Guard Corps has 125,000 soldiers, making it 25 percent larger than the entire British Army, and is equipped with 500 tanks, 600 armoured personnel carriers and 360 artillery weapons.

The incident is reminiscent of the exchange during the Kosovo conflict between the American general, Wesley Clark, the supreme allied commander Europe, and Gen Sir Mike Jackson, the British commander.

When Gen Clark told Gen Jackson to send British troops into Pristina airport to prevent Russian troops from taking control Gen Jackson refused. He was reported to have said: “I am not going to start World War Three for you.”

The Iran-Iraq incident lasted around a week and was resolved by a telephone conversation between Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and Kamal Kharrazi, his Iranian counterpart, British officials said.

“It did look rather nasty at the time,” one official said. “But we were always confident it was a mistake and could be resolved by diplomatic means. We got in touch with Baghdad and said, ‘Don’t do anything silly; we are talking to the Iranians.’ ”

While Mr Straw was trying to resolve the issue peacefully, British military commanders on the ground were calming their Iranian counterparts, the ministry said.

The Revolutionary Guard was believed to be behind the seizure of eight Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel last week after they strayed across the disputed border between Iraq and Iran.

The eight men, who were delivering patrol boats to the Iraqi riverine patrol service, were released — but not before they were paraded blindfolded on Iranian television.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

 

English Grandmother Wages Peace Against US Military

June 30th, 2004 - by admin

Louise Knowles / Reuters – 2004-06-30 11:40:56

http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=LJ4IQAILEWCRYCRBAELCFFA?type=ourWorldNews&storyID=5541120

MENWITH HILL (June 29, 2004) — From a red camper van parked on a roadside, a British grandmother and veteran peace campaigner has launched her latest attack on America’s military presence in Britain. Helen John, 66, who set up camp beside a road near a huge US-run listening post at the end of May, admits she plans to cause damage and says she won’t be deterred.

From her vantage point near the base in northern England, John is surrounded by stunning rural landscape. Rising on the horizon are rolling hills, dry stone walls, flocks of sheep and what appear to be 20 giant white golf balls, part of the high-tech US surveillance system. “They want to brand me a terrorist because they don’t like how I behave. I set out to damage property, never people, but I intend to cause damage,” she said.

RAF Menwith Hill is the site of the world’s largest surveillance base. From here, the United States’ National Security Agency operates a listening system capable of tracking communications as far away as the Middle East.

Armed with wire cutters and banners, John and a group of fellow local campaigners have been trying to damage the base for more than 10 years, arguing that it represents American imperialism and is furthering US efforts to take nuclear weapons into space. “There is not a single person in the United States that would allow a foreign base on its soil, acting against the interests of the people of that country,” said John. “These Americans are not monsters, but they are involved in something monstrous.” John’s move will re-establish a women’s peace camp at Menwith Hill. An eviction notice in the late 1990s forced local women’s campers from the site.

Greenham Legacy
Camp life will be nothing new for John, who was one of a group of women who marched from the Welsh city of Cardiff to Greenham Common in Berkshire, southern England, in 1981 to protest against plans to house nuclear missiles at the base.

When they arrived at Greenham, John and three other women started a movement that grew into a full-time camp where tens of thousands of women protested against nuclear arms. “The US base commander said we could stay as long as we liked … and we took him at his word,” she said.

John lived at Greenham Common for a year while her husband looked after their five children, a decision that earned her vilification in the tabloid press as an unfit mother who had abandoned her family. Alerted to the station at Menwith Hill, John moved to Yorkshire in 1993 to focus her energies on the base. When she arrived, around 100 women were already camped near the site in protest against its activities.

After the camp was evicted, John launched numerous attacks on the base, setting out to cause as much damage as she could. She appears unfazed by the armed police guarding the perimeter.

Prison Terms
Police have arrested her many times, and John refuses to pay fines or do community service. “The only option they have is to lock me up,” she said. She has served several three-month stretches in prison.

John is resigned to the fact that Menwith Hill may never attract the levels of support that Greenham did. “Women could identify with weapons at Greenham. War is exciting, weapons are exciting, command and control is not. It just kills you.”

She does not expect much support from people in the local area. “Having the Americans here pumps a lot of money into the local economy,” she said. But her resolve and devotion to the cause are unwavering. “I came here to do a job. As long as the Americans have bases on the soil of this country, I’ll be around showing opposition and actively trying to harm it in a non-violent manner.”

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

 

Aerial Drones Assigned to Arizona Border Patrol

June 29th, 2004 - by admin

Reuters – 2004-06-29 09:10:58

http://news.myway.com/top/article/id/411558|top|06-25-2004::22:46|reuters.html

LOS ANGELES (June 25, 2004) — Two aerial drones were assigned to Arizona border patrol on Friday in an unprecedented drive to secure a 350-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexican border that has become the most popular and deadliest corridor for illegal immigrants.

The two unmanned and unarmed aerial vehicles, piloted remotely, can fly up to 90 mph, detect movement 15 miles away and can transmit live pictures day and night of vast stretches of desert and grasslands traversed by more than 1,000 undocumented immigrants a day.

Border patrol officials at an Arizona news conference said the two drones were the first to be deployed on the U.S. border.

The Israeli-made drones are part of a Department of Homeland Security initiative to arrest and sometimes rescue mostly Mexican immigrants, many of whom die in their bid to seek a higher standard of living in the United States.

Temperatures out in the Sonoran desert soar to above 40 degrees (104F) for much of the summer. Border officials said 61 people had died since October in the Tucson sector of the border, 17 of them because of the heat. Others die in traffic accidents often caused by immigrant smugglers trying to outrun police and border agents.

The drones are the most sophisticated hardware in an array of sky-watch towers, ground sensors, cameras, and mobile scope trucks already used by some 2,000 Arizona border agents.

But hours are wasted by guards driving miles through scrubland sometimes to find that a sensor has been triggered by cattle or that the immigrants have moved on.

Border officials say arrests of undocumented immigrants in Arizona have increased substantially in the past year. Some 71,000 were arrested in March.

Some appear to have been encouraged by a White House proposal in January to grant three-year renewable work permits to millions of foreign workers and enable illegal immigrants currently in the United States to gain temporary legal status.

The union representing Border Patrol agents in February reported an estimated 10 percent to 11 percent increase in illegal crossings since President Bush announced the plan. Many illegals apparently believed they would eventually be granted an amnesty.

The Arizona drone plan got a mixed reception from the Mexican government migrant welfare group Grupo Beta in Agua Prieta, just south of the Arizona border.

“We think it’s positive from the point of view of protecting migrants who get into trouble in the desert, as it won’t take the border patrol so long to locate them and carry out a rescue,” Berta Alicia de La Rosa told Reuters.

“Nevertheless, any measure to boost vigilance along the border carries risk with it as migrants will look for ever more remote places to cross in order to avoid detection, such as the deserts of New Mexico where the distances between populated areas are even greater,” she added.

The Hermes 450 drones are made by Israeli company Elbit Systems. Unlike the Predator combat drones used in recent years by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Yemen to target suspected al-Qaeda operatives, those used by the Arizona border patrol will not carry any weaponry.

 

Paying the Price: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War

June 29th, 2004 - by admin

Phyllis Bennis and the IPS Iraq Task Force / Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy in Focus – 2004-06-29 09:05:56

http://www.ips-dc.org/iraq/costsofwar/costsofwar.pdf

(June 24, 2004) — This new report by the Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy in Focus offers evidence that we have paid a very high price for the war and have become less secure at home and in the world. The destabilization of Iraq since the U.S. invasion has created a terrorist haven that did not previously exist in Iraq, while anti-American sentiment world-wide has sharply increased.

To download the report, click here. Below are the report’s key findings:

I. Costs to the United States

A. Human Costs
U.S. Military Deaths: Between the start of war on March 19, 2003 and June 16, 2004, 952 coalition forces were killed, including 836 U.S. military. Of the total, 693 were killed after President Bush declared the end of combat operations on May 1, 2003. Over 5,134 U.S. troops have been wounded since the war began, including 4,593 since May 1, 2003.

Contractor Deaths: Estimates range from 50 to 90 civilian contractors, missionaries, and civilian worker deaths. Of these, 36 were identified as Americans.

Journalist Deaths: Thirty international media workers have been killed in Iraq, including 21 since President Bush declared the end of combat operations. Eight of the dead worked for U.S. companies.

B. Security Costs

Terrorist Recruitment and Action: According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, al Qaeda’s membership is now at 18,000, with 1,000 active in Iraq. A former CIA analyst and State Department official has documented 390 deaths and 1,892 injuries due to terrorist attacks in 2003. In addition, there were 98 suicide attacks around the world in 2003, more than any year in contemporary history.

Low U.S. Credibility: Polls reveal that the war has damaged the U.S. government’s standing and credibility in the world. Surveys in eight European and Arab countries demonstrated broad public agreement that the war has hurt, rather than helped, the war on terrorism. At home, 54 percent of Americans polled by the Annenberg Election Survey felt that the “the situation in Iraq was not worth going to war over.”

Military Mistakes: A number of former military officials have criticized the war, including retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, former commander of the U.S. Central Command, who has charged that by manufacturing a false rationale for war, abandoning traditional allies, propping up and trusting Iraqi exiles, and failing to plan for post-war Iraq, the Bush Administration made the United States less secure.

Low Troop Morale and Lack of Equipment: A March 2004 army survey found 52 percent of soldiers reporting low morale, and three-fourths reporting they were poorly led by their officers. Lack of equipment has been an ongoing problem. The Army did not fully equip soldiers with bullet-proof vests until June 2004, forcing many families to purchase them out of their own pockets.

Loss of First Responders: National Guard troops make up almost one-third of the U.S. Army troops now in Iraq. Their deployment puts a particularly heavy burden on their home communities because many are “first responders,” including police, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel. For example, 44 percent of the country’s police forces have lost officers to Iraq. In some states, the absence of so many Guard troops has raised concerns about the ability to handle natural disasters.

Use of Private Contractors: An estimated 20,000 private contractors are carrying out work in Iraq traditionally done by the military, despite the fact that they often lack sufficient training and are not accountable to the same guidelines and reviews as military personnel.

C. Economic Costs

The Bill So Far: Congress has already approved of $126.1 billion for Iraq and an additional $25 billion is heading towards Congressional approval, for a total of $151.1 billion through this year. Congressional leaders have promised an additional supplemental appropriation after the election.

Long-term Impact on U.S. Economy: Economist Doug Henwood has estimated that the war bill will add up to an average of at least $3,415 for every U.S. household. Another economist, James Galbraith of the University of Texas, predicts that while war spending may boost the economy initially, over the long term it is likely to bring a decade of economic troubles, including an expanded trade deficit and high inflation.

Oil Prices: Gas prices topped $2 a gallon in May 2004, a development that most analysts attribute at least in part to the deteriorating situation in Iraq. According to a mid-May CBS survey, 85 percent of Americans said they had been affected measurably by higher gas prices. According to one estimate, if crude oil prices stay around $40 a barrel for a year, U.S. gross domestic product will decline by more than $50 billion.

Economic Impact on Military Families: Since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 364,000 reserve troops and National Guard soldiers have been called for military service, serving tours of duty that often last 20 months. Studies show that between 30 and 40 percent of reservists and National Guard members earn a lower salary when they leave civilian employment for military deployment. Army Emergency Relief has reported that requests from military families for food stamps and subsidized meals increased “several hundred percent” between 2002 and 2003.

D. Social Costs

U.S. Budget and Social Programs: The Bush administration’s combination of massive spending on the war and tax cuts for the wealthy means less money for social spending. The $151.1 billion expenditure for the war through this year could have paid for: close to 23 million housing vouchers; health care for over 27 million uninsured Americans; salaries for nearly 3 million elementary school teachers; 678,200 new fire engines; over 20 million Head Start slots for children; or health care coverage for 82 million children. Instead, the administration’s FY 2005 budget request proposes deep cuts in critical domestic programs and virtually freezes funding for domestic discretionary programs other than homeland security. Federal spending cuts will deepen the budget crises for local and state governments, which are expected to suffer a $6 billion shortfall in 2005.

Social Costs to the Military: Thus far, the Army has extended the tours of duty of 20,000 soldiers. These extensions have been particularly difficult for reservists, many of whom never expected to face such long separations from their jobs and families. According to military policy, reservists are not supposed to be on assignment for more than 12 months every 5-6 years. To date, the average tour of duty for all soldiers in Iraq has been 320 days. A recent Army survey revealed that more than half of soldiers said they would not re-enlist.

Costs to Veteran Health Care: About 64 percent of the more than 5,000 U.S. soldiers injured in Iraq received wounds that prevented them from returning to duty. One trend has been an increase in amputees, the result of improved body armor that protects vital organs but not extremities. As in previous wars, many soldiers are likely to have received ailments that will not be detected for years to come. The Veterans Administration healthcare system is not prepared for the swelling number of claims. In May, the House of Representatives approved funding for FY 2005 that is $2.6 billion less than needed, according to veterans’ groups.

Mental Health Costs: A December 2003 Army report was sharply critical of the military’s handling of mental health issues. It found that more than 15 percent of soldiers in Iraq screened positive for traumatic stress, 7.3 percent for anxiety, and 6.9 percent for depression. The suicide rate among soldiers increased from an eight-year average of 11.9 per 100,000 to 15.6 per 100,000 in 2003. Almost half of soldiers surveyed reported not knowing how to obtain mental health services.

II. Costs to Iraq

A. Human Costs

Iraqi Deaths and Injuries: As of June 16, 2004, between 9,436 and 11,317 Iraqi civilians have been killed as a result of the U.S. invasion and ensuing occupation, while an estimated 40,000 Iraqis have been injured. During “major combat” operations, between 4,895 and 6,370 Iraqi soldiers and insurgents were killed.

Effects of Depleted Uranium: The health impacts of the use of depleted uranium weaponry in Iraq are yet to be known. The Pentagon estimates that U.S. and British forces used 1,100 to 2,200 tons of weaponry made from the toxic and radioactive metal during the March 2003 bombing campaign. Many scientists blame the far smaller amount of DU weapons used in the Persian Gulf War for illnesses among U.S. soldiers, as well as a sevenfold increase in child birth defects in Basra in Southern Iraq.

B. Security Costs

Rise in Crime: Murder, rape, and kidnapping have skyrocketed since March 2003, forcing Iraqi children to stay home from school and women to stay off the streets at night. Violent deaths rose from an average of 14 per month in 2002 to 357 per month in 2003.

Psychological Impact: Living under occupation without the most basic security has devastated the Iraqi population. A poll by the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority in May 2004 found that 80 percent of Iraqis say they have “no confidence” in either the U.S. civilian authorities or in the coalition forces, and 55 percent would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign troops left the country immediately.

C. The Economic Costs

Unemployment: Iraqi joblessness doubled from 30 percent before the war to 60 percent in the summer of 2003. While the Bush administration now claims that unemployment has dropped, only 1 percent of Iraq’s workforce of 7 million is involved in reconstruction projects.

Corporate War Profiteering: Most of Iraq’s reconstruction has been contracted out to U.S. companies, rather than experienced Iraqi firms. Top contractor Halliburton is being investigated for charging $160 million for meals that were never served to troops and $61 million in cost overruns on fuel deliveries. Halliburton employees also took $6 million in kickbacks from subcontractors, while other employees have reported extensive waste, including the abandonment of $85,000 trucks because they had flat tires.

Iraq’s Oil Economy: Anti-occupation violence has prevented Iraq from capitalizing on its oil assets. There have been an estimated 130 attacks on Iraq’s oil infrastructure. In 2003, Iraq’s oil production dropped to 1.33 million barrels per day, down from 2.04 million in 2002.

Health Infrastructure: After more than a decade of crippling sanctions, Iraq’s health facilities were further damaged during the war and post-invasion looting. Iraq’s hospitals continue to suffer from lack of supplies and an overwhelming number of patients.

Education: UNICEF estimates that more than 200 schools were destroyed in the conflict and thousands more were looted in the chaos following the fall of Saddam Hussein. Largely because of security concerns, school attendance in April 2004 was well below pre-war levels.

Environment: The U.S-led attack damaged water and sewage systems and the country’s fragile desert ecosystem. It also resulted in oil well fires that spewed smoke across the country and left unexposed ordnance that continues to endanger the Iraqi people and environment. Mines and unexploded ordnance cause an estimated 20 casualties per month.

Human Rights Costs: Even with Saddam Hussein overthrown, Iraqis continue to face human rights violations from occupying forces. In addition to the widely publicized humiliation and abuse of prisoners, the U.S. military is investigating the deaths of 34 detainees as a result of interrogation techniques.

Sovereignty Costs: Despite the proclaimed “transfer of sovereignty” to Iraq, the country will continue to be occupied by U.S. and coalition troops and have severely limited political and economic independence. The interim government will not have the authority to reverse the nearly 100 orders by CPA head Paul Bremer that, among other things, allow for the privatization of Iraq’s state-owned enterprises and prohibit preferences for domestic firms in reconstruction.

III. Costs to the World

Human Costs: While Americans make up the vast majority of military and contractor personnel in Iraq, other U.S.-allied “coalition” troops have suffered 116 war casualties in Iraq. In addition, the focus on Iraq has diverted international resources and attention away from humanitarian crises such as in Sudan.

International Law: The unilateral U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq violated the United Nations Charter, setting a dangerous precedent for other countries to seize any opportunity to respond militarily to claimed threats, whether real or contrived, that must be “pre-empted.” The U.S. military has also violated the Geneva Convention, making it more likely that in the future, other nations will ignore these protections in their treatment of civilian populations and detainees.

The United Nations: At every turn, the Bush administration has attacked the legitimacy and credibility of the UN, undermining the institution’s capacity to act in the future as the centerpiece of global disarmament and conflict resolution. The recent efforts of the Bush administration to gain UN acceptance of an Iraqi government that was not elected but rather installed by occupying forces undermines the entire notion of national sovereignty as the basis for the UN Charter.

Coalitions: Faced with opposition in the UN Security Council, the U.S. government attempted to create the illusion of multilateral support for the war by pressuring other governments to join a so-called “Coalition of the Willing.” This not only circumvented UN authority, but also undermined democracy in many coalition countries, where public opposition to the war was as high as 90 percent.

Global Economy: The $151.1 billion spent by the U.S. government on the war could have cut world hunger in half and covered HIV/AIDS medicine, childhood immunization and clean water and sanitation needs of the developing world for more than two years. As a factor in the oil price hike, the war has created concerns of a return to the “stagflation” of the 1970s. Already, the world’s major airlines are expecting an increase in costs of $1 billion or more per month.

Global Security: The U.S.-led war and occupation have galvanized international terrorist organizations, placing people not only in Iraq but around the world at greater risk of attack. The State Department’s annual report on international terrorism reported that in 2003 there was the highest level of terror-related incidents deemed “significant” than at any time since the U.S. began issuing these figures.

Global Environment: U.S.-fired depleted uranium weapons have contributed to pollution of Iraq’s land and water, with inevitable spillover effects in other countries. The heavily polluted Tigris River, for example, flows through Iraq, Iran and Kuwait.

Human Rights: The Justice Department memo assuring the White House that torture was legal stands in stark violation of the International Convention Against Torture (of which the United States is a signatory). This, combined with the widely publicized mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. intelligence officials, gave new license for torture and mistreatment by governments around the world.

 

Responding to the Darfur Genocide

June 29th, 2004 - by admin

Nicolas Kristof / New York Times – 2004-06-29 08:59:21

http://forums.nytimes.com/top/opinion/readersopinions/forums/editorialsoped/opedcolumnists/kristofresponds/index.html?offset=479&fid=.f3beae7/479

Nicolas Kristof Responds:

(June 22, 2004) — Readers keep asking me what they can do about the genocide unfolding in Darfur, Sudan, or who they can write to. I’m in the reporting business, not the lobbying business.

But for those readers desperate for some ideas, here are some that have been passed on to me:

For readers who want to contribute financially, one of the main aid organizations active in Darfur itself is Doctors Without Borders. Its website is http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org . Another key group is the International Rescue Committee, which was building wells in one of the areas that I visited; its website is
http://www.theirc.org .

Readers who want to engage their member of Congress or pursue the matter politically can find more information at this link from the International Crisis Group:
http://www.crisisweb.org/home/index.cfm?id=2700& […]

In addition, Africa Action is sponsoring an on-line petition calling for
tougher action against the killings in Darfur:
http://www.africaaction.org/newsroom/release.php?op=read&documentid=572&

Human Rights Watch has produced superb reports on the crisis here:
http://hrw.org/reports/2004/sudan0504/

Finally, for those who want to stay informed about the crisis in Darfur,
there are several websites that have regular updates of news there. One is http://www.gurtong.com , another is http://www.reliefweb.it and another is http://www.allafrica.com/sudan/

This is just a small sampling of what’s out there. Most big aid groups,
including all the major faith-based ones, are helping, from Catholic Relief Services
http://www.catholicrelief.org )
to Friends of the World Food Programme
http://www.friendsofwfp.org/
to World Vision
( http://www.worldvision.org
to American Jewish World Service
( http://www.ajws.org Indeed, one of the big gaps has been Islamic
charities, which have tended — inexcusably — to show sympathy for Sudan’s Arab government. So the sad and ironic outcome is that the people of Darfur, who are virtually all Muslims, are getting significant help from Christians and Jews but almost nothing from fellow Muslims. I hope some Muslim aid groups will quickly remedy that.

More on Recent Islamic Aid in Darfur
Note: Since Kristof wrote his response about light Islamic aid in the Darfur region, at least one relief group–Islamic Relief- has moved into action. Kristof also corrects the record on this in a further response pasted below.
Let’s hope much relief comes in from all quarters–irregardless of the dominant religious beliefs of the nations in question–to help the 750,000 displaced persons.

Beyond the relief efforts, it is time to yell at the politicians in Washington and elsewhere to do something.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3793577.stm

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/fromthefield/10845556514.htm
(hr>

Islamic Relief – UK
Website: http://www.islamic-relief.com
Islamic Relief Responds to Darfur Crisis: The plight of displaced civilians in Darfur has alarmed the international community and the UN. The crisis, described as the worst in recent years, has displaced 750,000 people internally, while another 130,000 refugees have fled to Chad, according to UN estimates.

Limited Access
To date, the Sudanese government has given aid agencies limited access to displaced people in the Darfur region. However, a ceasefire agreement signed on April 8th provides an opportunity for the international community to bring aid to the affected population.
Islamic Relief Response: Islamic Relief (IR) has clearance to work in West Darfur, and has pledged an initial ?116,000 for emergency intervention in the area. IR staff on the ground in El-Geneina have completed the first phase of emergency assistance. Food was distributed to around 18,000 displaced people and blankets to 1,400 people in Kerindang and Ardamata camps in El-Geneina. Additionally, 300 families who were sheltering in schools in El-Geneina were provided with basic construction materials.

Urgent Need
The need for humanitarian assistance is enormous. Most of the displaced
people either have no shelter at all, or shelter under trees or under very
rudimentary straw structures (Rakubas). With the rapidly approaching rainy season in May to June, if the displaced population is not provided with shelter, thousands of people may lose their lives. Women, children and the elderly remain the most vulnerable.


http://forums.nytimes.com/top/opinion/readersopinions/forums/editorialsoped/opedcolumnists/kristofresponds/index.html?offset=479&fid=.f3beae7/479

Religion Hijacked for Politics
Nicholas Kristof

(June 23, 2004) — After scolding Muslims for not doing more to help the people of Darfur, I got this email from Zeeshan in California:

I am a Muslim and ashamed to see yet another instance of Muslims committing genocide on other Muslims. I am originally from Bangladesh, and we are familiar with religion being hijacked for political agendas — we were subject to a genocide in 1971 by the erstwhile ruling West Pakistanis.

Darfur is being covered by a Muslim charity that I donate to. Here’s the link: http://www.irw.org/ or http://www.irw.org/sudan . I would appreciate posting this link as a proof that not all Muslims are turning a blind eye towards such a heart-breaking tragedy.

That link is for Islamic Relief, a major charity. I didn’t come across its people on my visits to the Chad/Sudan border, but its website shows it to be commendably active on the issue. There are lots of other Muslim charities – the Islamic obligation to give zakat, or alms to the needy, has nurtured many aid groups – and they do fine work in poor countries. I hope more become active in Darfur.

They could play a particularly useful role because they would be more trusted by Sudan and might get better access, and they might also have more Arabic speakers on staff (most of the victims in Darfur speak a tribal language as their mother tongue, and then Arabic as a second language, making communication a big problem).

 

A Tree with No Roots: One Iraqi Woman’s Story

June 28th, 2004 - by admin

Nagem Salam / Islam Online – 2004-06-28 12:03:37

http://www.islamonline.net/english/In_Depth/Iraq_Aftermath/2004/06/article_04.shtml

(June 14, 2004) — “I’m afraid to give my real name,” she said to begin the interview. After being detained in her hometown of Ba’qubah on September 14, 2003 and held in three detention facilities for four months, she preferred to be called Umm Taha.
“The American’s picked me up for nothing, so what’s stopping them from doing it again?”

A highly educated woman with four children, she had worked for the Iraqi government as a legal investigator. While sitting in her home on September 14 of last year, she received a phone call from an interpreter for the coalition forces who asked her to meet some US soldiers at the governorate building.

“He told me they just needed to verify something and that it would only take five minutes,” she said with disbelief, “but when I arrived there the Americans tied my hands and held guns to my head.”

Like most Iraqis who have been detained by the US-led coalition forces, Umm Taha was not charged with any crime, nor given a reason for her capture. When she asked why she was being detained, a soldier told her, “We’re taking you to Ibel Fanas Airport and we’ll tell you there,” she said. She was then roughly loaded into a military vehicle and driven to the holding facility.

A Dirty Bathroom and a Blanket
Once there, she was frisked by a female soldier in front of several men, which is grossly disrespectful of her culture and Islamic religious beliefs. “After this, they yelled at me, pushed me around, put me in an old bathroom, threw me a blanket and closed the door.”

The bathroom had four clogged toilets and it was infested with insects, and extremely hot and dirty. “They kept me in there for 22 days and the only time I was allowed outside was to use the toilet since none of them in my cell worked.” When she was taken out to relieve herself, she was forced to do so in front of male detainees. “It was a disgrace,” she said while looking at the ground.

Aside from humiliating “bathroom” breaks, and getting fluid infusions in the clinic and being forced to clean the mainstream detainee toilets in front of the men, she spent 22 days in solitary confinement in a small room with four grungy, clogged toilets.

“I slept on the ground,” she exclaimed. “It was very dirty, very hot and had a horrible stench. I was nauseated and vomiting most of the time.”

Her mistreatment didn’t end there. While she was given food and water, the food was military MREs, the water was taken from a barrel outside and thus was extremely hot. Due to her deteriorating physical condition, she had to be given several bags of fluids with a dirty IV.

“My 12-year-old and 14-year-old Were Alone”
Due to physical nausea coupled with a deep anxiety for her two small children left unattended at home, Umm Taha wasn’t able to eat, and grew weaker by the day. “My 12-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter were alone,” she cried while explaining her desperate situation, “and I had no idea what would become of them.”

Around 3-4 days after here initial detainment, she was interrogated by an MP who referred to himself as “The Scorpion,” along with a Lebanese translator named Ija.

“They asked me so many questions,” she explained: “Am I Sunni or Shiite? Am I a Ba’thist? What is my name?” Finally, “The Scorpion” accused her of assisting high-ranking Ba’thists by allowing some of them to hold meetings in her home.

“I’m not even a Ba’thist,” she said while holding her arms in the air, “I told them I had papers in my purse that proved that I am not in the party and that Saddam killed one of my relatives, but they didn’t care.”

Umm Taha claimed that the documents the US soldiers refused to look at proved that she had spent 3 months and 10 days in jail because of Saddam Hussein.

Illegal, Immoral, Inhumane
Whether Umm Taha was guilty of her charges or not, this does not detract from the fact that the treatment both she and other detainees received at the hands of US soldiers throughout her detention was illegal, immoral and inhumane.

On the fifth day of her detention, several of the US soldiers who transported her to the holding facility were killed in an attack. She was interrogated harshly, verbally, and she was psychologically abused by three men and accused of planning the attack.

Her 11th day of detention at the airport brought another interrogation. “They asked me if I knew General Mahmoud and I told them that is the name of half of the generals in Iraq,” she stated firmly. She continued to answer their questions until one of the soldiers threatened her family and threatened to send her to Guantanamo.

To this, she grew very angry and frustrated, and yelled at them, “This is your democracy?”

On the 23rd day, Umm Taha was transferred to a detention facility in Tikrit. “They roughly loaded several of us into a truck with a canopy,” she explained. “Then when we arrived, they made us sit there for three hours in the extreme heat before unloading us. Inside, they made me kneel on the ground against a wall with my hands on my head for nearly an hour while yelling ‘Don’t Move!’ over and over in my ear.”

Shackled for 11 Days
She grew angry and told of male detainees who had their faces scraped across the floor by American soldiers. When she was finally allowed to move away from the wall, her hands and feet were shackled, which is how they would remain for her 11 days there.

Umm Taha was kept in a tent surrounded by razor wire with another woman and 10 children between the ages of 10 and 14 years.

Her humiliating treatment at the hands of the American soldiers continued in Tikrit. She was forced to use a sieve to separate feces from urine in a latrine waste bucket. “A soldier made me carry the heavy bucket of feces 100 meters, then he poured benzene on it, lit it on fire, and made me stir it for half an hour,” she exclaimed in disbelief.

“I pleaded with them because I was still sick,” she said quietly while crying, “I told them I couldn’t do this, but they made me do it anyway.” Afterwards she was given 5 bags of IV fluids until she somewhat recovered, but her paramedic was not allowed by the soldiers to have her shackles removed during her treatment.

The soldier who had refused the removal of her irons told her, “If your little finger touches a soldier, I will consider it an attack on the coalition forces.”

Beatings and Daily Humiliations
Umm Taha tells of what she saw during her stay in Tikrit: soldiers putting their boots on detainees’ heads, Iraqis being loaded into civilian cars with Kuwaiti license plates and driven from the prison, and daily humiliating treatment of the general population of the detainees at the hands of the occupying soldiers.

On October 15th, she was transferred to the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, without being told why, and held for three months. She was locked in a cell on the second floor of a building and not allowed to leave it aside from 8 days in the clinic for more treatment due to her deteriorating health.

Her stay at Abu Ghraib would find her witnessing the most horrendous events she’d ever seen, but not before she suffered more humiliating treatment from US soldiers.

More Brutality in Abu Ghraib
“There was a black American soldier named Joyner who refused to take me to the clinic when I was so sick,” she said, her anger palpable, “but some Iraqi social workers finally took me there.”

According to Umm Taha, Joyner came every morning to beat on the cell bars with a metal rod at 4 a.m., and forced all of the prisoners to yell, “Good morning sir!”

“We were never allowed to sleep through a night,” she exclaimed sadly. “He would come at 2, 3 and 4 a.m., and beat on the bars every time. I was always so exhausted.”

She told of a woman who was brought in named Afaf Said, who had a black eye and bloody lips. “She was married to a relative of Saddam, and was brought in with her teenage son,” explained Umm Taha, “She told me she was put in a wooden cage and beaten.”

Across from Umm Taha’s cell was a room that the soldiers called, “The Shower.” Periodically detainees were brought in, placed on the ground, and had bags of ice dumped on them. “The next morning they were either dragged or carried out by soldiers to be taken to the clinic,” she explained.

From the time of her initial detention until she was released, she was never allowed a shower or a change of clothes.

During November, Umm Taha says, many of the detainees in Abu Ghraib rioted against their mistreatment. As a result, 14 Iraqi men were stripped naked and sacks were placed over their heads by US soldiers, and brought into the corridor beneath Umm Taha’s cell. Thus, she had a clear view of the atrocities that ensued.

“The soldiers made them all stand on one leg, then they kicked them to make them fall to the ground,” says Umm Taha.

She watched Lynndie England, the female American soldier made infamous in the widespread incriminating photos, dance around laughing while using a rubber glove to snap the detainees on their genitals. “The soldiers also made all the men lay on the ground, face down, spread their legs, then men and women soldiers alike kicked the detainees between their legs,” she said quietly.

After pausing, she added, “I can still remember their screaming.”

She said that, in addition to this, the detainees were ordered to crawl around the corridor on all fours and make cow and sheep noises as the American soldiers laughed at them.

Umm Taha told of other humiliating and degrading events she witnessed. Detainees would hold their Qur’an out of their cell bars in order to have some light to read with, “And when they did this,” she said, “soldiers would hit them on their arms.”

Beaten for Reading Koran; Forced to Read Bible
She claims that the soldiers distributed bibles written in Arabic to the teenagers being held in Abu Ghraib, of which there were at least 20 in her building.

“Everyday, morning and evening, I saw people tortured and humiliated in the corridor in front of my cell,” she cries.
While she was transferred out of Abu Ghraib on November 11th, she ended up spending two months at the Tesfirat transfer station near the Olympic stadium in Baghdad.

Upon here release on January 10, 2004, she was left with nothing as she walked onto the streets of Baghdad with no money and wearing the same clothing she was initially detained in. She was lucky enough to find a taxi, which drove her to Ba’qubah, where some friends paid him for the ride.

“I found out that while my two children who were living with me had been cared for by relatives in a nearby village, the news of my two older children crushed me,” she said sadly.

Her 20-year-old son had joined a gang and sold her home after it had been completely looted, while her 21-year-old daughter had married a thief.

“My life is shattered,” Umm Taha said while crying once again, “and I can do nothing. There is no compensation.”

“I spent 20 years building my life, and now I’m 50 years old,” she added, “I can’t start over again.”

She was simultaneously saddened and angered by both her experience and what is happening in her country today. “We have no present. We have no future,” she said, “The occupiers have destroyed our life, and what have we done?”

“We want to leave here—leave our country to the people who ‘liberated’ it,” she added.

After pondering for a moment, before standing to leave the room, she said, “I am like a tree which has been uprooted. I have no roots anymore.”

Nagem Salam is an American journalist of Lebanese descent who has worked in Iraq for a total of four months since the Anglo-American invasion of spring 2003. His articles focus on Iraqis and how the occupation of their country affects their daily life

 

The Multibillion Robbery the US Calls Reconstruction

June 28th, 2004 - by admin

Naomi Klein / The Guardian – 2004-06-28 11:52:10

http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/062704E.shtml

(26 June 2004) — Good news out of Baghdad: the Program Management Office, which oversees the $18.4billion in US reconstruction funds, has finally set a goal it can meet. Sure, electricity is below pre-war levels, the streets are rivers of sewage and more Iraqis have been fired than hired. But now the PMO has contracted the British mercenary firm Aegis to protect its employees from “assassination, kidnapping, injury and” — get this — “embarrassment”.

I don’t know if Aegis will succeed in protecting PMO employees from violent attack, but embarrassment? I’d say mission already accomplished. The people in charge of rebuilding Iraq can’t be embarrassed, because, clearly, they have no shame.

In the run-up to the June 30 underhand (sorry, I can’t bring myself to call it a “handover”), US occupation powers have been unabashed in their efforts to steal money that is supposed to aid a war-ravaged people.

The state department has taken $184 million earmarked for drinking water projects and moved it to the budget for the lavish new US embassy in Saddam Hussein’s former palace. Short of $1 billion for the embassy, Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, said he might have to “rob from Peter in my fiefdom to pay Paul”. In fact, he is robbing Iraq’s people, who, according to a recent study by the consumer group Public Citizen, are facing “massive outbreaks of cholera, diarrhoea, nausea and kidney stones” from drinking contaminated water.

Money for ‘Rebuilding’ Iraq Going to Outfit Lavish US Embassy
If the occupation chief Paul Bremer and his staff were capable of embarrassment, they might be a little sheepish about having spent only $3.2 billion of the $18.4 billion Congress allotted — the reason the reconstruction is so disastrously behind schedule.

At first, Bremer said the money would be spent by the time Iraq was sovereign, but apparently someone had a better idea: parcel it out over five years so Ambassador John Negroponte can use it as leverage. With $15 billion outstanding, how likely are Iraq’s politicians to refuse US demands for military bases and economic “reforms”?

Double-dipping with Iraq’s Oil Wealth
Unwilling to let go of their own money, the shameless ones have had no qualms about dipping into funds belonging to Iraqis. After losing the fight to keep control of Iraq’s oil money after the underhand, occupation authorities grabbed $2.5 billion of those revenues and are now spending the money on projects that are supposedly already covered by American tax dollars.

But then, if financial scandals made you blush, the entire reconstruction of Iraq would be pretty mortifying. From the start, its architects rejected the idea that it should be a New Deal-style public works project for Iraqis to reclaim their country. Instead, it was treated as an ideological experiment in privatisation. The dream was for multinational firms, mostly from the US, to swoop in and dazzle the Iraqis with their speed and efficiency.

Iraqis saw something else: desperately needed jobs going to Americans, Europeans and south Asians; roads crowded with trucks shipping in supplies produced in foreign plants, while Iraqi factories were not even supplied with emergency generators. As a result, the reconstruction was seen not as a recovery from war but as an extension of the occupation, a foreign invasion of a different sort. And so, as the resistance grew, the reconstruction itself became a prime target.

Reconstruction = Occupation under a New Name
The contractors have responded by behaving even more like an invading army, building elaborate fortresses in the green zone — the walled-in city within a city that houses the occupation authority in Baghdad — and surrounding themselves with mercenaries. And being hated is expensive. According to the latest estimates, security costs are eating up 25% of reconstruction contracts — money not being spent on hospitals, water-treatment plants or telephone exchanges.

Millions Spent on Sudden-Death Insurance for Foreign Contractors
Meanwhile, insurance brokers selling sudden-death policies to contractors in Iraq have doubled their premiums, with insurance costs reaching 30% of payroll. That means many companies are spending half their budgets arming and insuring themselves against the people they are supposedly in Iraq to help. And, according to Charles Adwan of Transparency International, quoted on US National Public Radio’s Marketplace programme, “at least 20% of US spending in Iraq is lost to corruption”. How much is actually left over for reconstruction? Don’t do the maths.

Rather than models of speed and efficiency, the contractors look more like overcharging, underperforming, lumbering beasts, barely able to move for fear of the hatred they have helped generate.

The problem goes well beyond the latest reports of Halliburton drivers abandoning $85,000 trucks on the road because they don’t carry spare tyres. Private contractors are also accused of playing leadership roles in the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. A landmark class-action lawsuit filed by the Centre for Constitutional Rights alleges that Titan Corporation and CACI International conspired to “humiliate, torture and abuse persons” in order to increase demand for their “interrogation services”.

Aegis Head a Former Gun-runner and Coup Leader
And then there’s Aegis, the company being paid $293 million to save the PMO from embarrassment. It turns out that Aegis’s CEO, Tim Spicer, has a bit of an embarrassing past himself. In the 90s, he helped to put down rebels and stage a military coup in Papua New Guinea, as well as hatching a plan to break an arms embargo in Sierra Leone.

If Iraq’s occupiers were capable of feeling shame, they might have responded by imposing tough new regulations. Instead, Senate Republicans have just defeated an attempt to bar private contractors from interrogating prisoners and also voted down a proposal to impose stiffer penalties on contractors who overcharge. Meanwhile, the White House is also trying to get immunity from prosecution for US contractors in Iraq and has requested the exemption from the new prime minister, Iyad Allawi.

It seems likely that Allawi will agree, since he is, after all, a kind of US contractor himself. A former CIA spy, he is already threatening to declare martial law, while his defence minister says of resistance fighters: “We will cut off their hands, and we will behead them.”

In a final feat of outsourcing, Iraqi governance has been subcontracted to even more brutal surrogates. Is this embarrassing, after an invasion to overthrow a dictatorship? Not at all; this is what the occupiers call “sovereignty”. The Aegis guys can relax – embarrassment is not going to be an issue.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

 

BP’s Pipeline: an Environmental Time Bomb

June 28th, 2004 - by admin

Philip Thornton / Independent U.K. – 2004-06-28 11:38:52

http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/story.jsp?story=535345

(26 June 2004) — The safety of a controversial oil pipeline being built by one of Britain’s largest companies has been jeopardised by cost-cutting, incompetence and shoddy workmanship by contractors, whistleblowers have reported.

Former senior workers have revealed a catalogue of failures they say could lead to a major oil leak that would devastate one of the world’s most environmentally sensitive areas. A dossier including their evidence, seen by The Independent, indicates BP’s contractors and sub-contractors are cutting corners to get the job completed on time.

The whistleblowers, qualified professionals, say BP made a major mistake in handing control of the section of the 1,000-mile pipeline through Turkey to a government-owned company, Botas, on a fixed-price contract. The full line runs from the Caspian Sea to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

The project ran into opposition from civil rights and environmental groups when BTC, the 11-member consortium led by BP, sought funding from public bodies such as the World Bank and the UK’s Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD). Opponents said the pipeline, which would be driven through some of the world’s most earthquake-prone and conflict-ridden areas, would wreak environmental, social and economic havoc. A spokesman for the ECGD said the department believed it had made a full assessment of the project before it decided to support it.

Whistleblowers Sound Alarm
The whistleblowers’ statements, which will be given to the MPs next month, say that:

• builders cut off villages’ water supplies, flooded farmland and allowed oil leaks;
• there were insufficient checks for the risk of the pipe buckling in earthquake zones;
• crucial welding work often failed inspections;
• those who complained were sacked or made to leave;
• workers handled toxic coating materials without proper health and safety equipment.

Dennis Adams, a senior engineer who quit after six weeks after not being paid, said the contractors’ work was disorganised and mismanaged. Pipes were left exposed for longer than specifications allowed and trenches were filled with materials that might allow uncontrolled movement of the pipes. “Safety violations were occurring at all times, including workers in deep unprotected and unstable areas,” he said.

“I don’t have much hope for the future integrity or proper maintenance and operation of a pipeline of this size and importance being primarily sponsored by one of the largest petroleum companies in the world. It is quite obvious that [BP] are not in control of the Turkish section of this pipeline.”

‘This Project Is A Complete Mess-up’
Another manager, who asked not to be named, said he was removed from his job after he raised concerns over the way the project was being managed. “I have over 20 years’ pipeline experience and this project is unique. It’s a complete mess-up. No one wants this on their CV. It’s an embarrassment.”

Documents were not properly kept and problems with inspections and the quality of the work being done were covered up. “Everything is done badly,” he said. “I believe at this stage that quality issues – health, safety, environment – will be substantially affected.”

Colynn Burrell, an American with 35 years’ experience, said he was dismissed after 10 weeks working at the Ceyhan terminal for highlighting major design problems. He complained about a problem with the drainage system that meant toxins flowed straight into the ground.

“I insisted on getting the subcontractor to seal the perforations at the bottom of the pipe to create a channel. The manager said it was expensive.” Mr Burrell said he was told at one point that all pipe welding was being failed by inspectors; the normal failure rate was 6 percent.

Mike Morley, a Briton who was sacked as a weld-coatings inspector, said “numerous” welds had to be redone; many others had been laid before inspection. Even when inspections did take place, the results were not filed.

The House of Commons Trade and Industry Committee has started an inquiry into the decision by the department to use taxpayers’ money to underwrite loans of $150m (£83m). Martin O’Neill, Committee chairman, said he would look at all allegations “without prejudice”. The ECGD has commissioned a new report into the pipeline, which is expected next month.

A spokesman for BP said last night: “We, along with Botas, will continue look at any serious allegations and if they are valid make sure they are put right.” He said Botas had pledged to maintain the highest health, safety, environment, labour and human rights standards and good international practices.

“Botas has an obligation and BTC [the consortium] expects that Botas’s construction techniques and testing regimes will ensure the pipeline will be laid safely and that it will operate safely in accordance with those standards,” he said. “Inevitably with construction projects of this size there are challenges, but BTC will continue to work with our partner to resolve them.”

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

 

Bush Administration Lied about Secret Saudi Flights

June 26th, 2004 - by admin

The Daily Mislead – 2004-06-26 11:25:48

http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208427&l=42270

The Bush administration and its right-wing allies are launching an all-out assault on Michael Moore and his new movie, attempting to discredit the film before it is even public.

Last month, White House communications director Dan Bartlett said the movie is “so outrageously false, it’s not even worth comment” [1] — a comment made despite the fact that the movie was not yet public and Bartlett had not seen the film.

Now the smear campaign is focused on creating the public illusion that Moore lied about a secret Saudi flight that was permitted after 9/11 when most US airspace was closed. But, according to one new report, the Tampa International Airport “confirmed that the flight did take place” — despite three years of Bush administration denials.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, “two days after the Sept. 11 attacks, with most of the nation’s air traffic still grounded, a small jet landed at Tampa International Airport, picked up three young Saudi men (including one thought to be a member of the Saudi royal family) and flew to Lexington, Kentucky.

From Kentucky “the Saudis then took another flight out of the country.” As the newspaper reported, “for nearly three years, White House, aviation and law enforcement officials have insisted the flight never took place and have denied published reports” about the flight.

But now, at the request of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks (9/11 Commission), the Tampa International Airport acknowledged the flights happened. For its part, the Bush administration “is still not talking about the flights.” [2]

According to the St. Petersburg Times, the Commission has now sent a formal letter to the Tampa International Airport asking for more information about “a chartered flight with six people, including a Saudi prince, that flew from Tampa, Florida on or about Sept. 13, 2001.” The commission “appears concerned with the handling of the Tampa flight.”

Meanwhile, former FBI agent Manuel Perez, who accompanied the formerly-secret flight, said the order to allow the flights “must have come from the highest levels of government.” [3]

In all, the New York Times notes it is “safe to say that central assertions of fact in ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ are supported by the public record.” [4]

For more on Bush administration distortion, visit: • http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208427&l=42270

SOURCES:

1. “Michael Moore’s Candid Camera,” New York Times, 5/23/04. (Republished online in Common Dreams), http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208427&l=42271.
2. “TIA now verifies flight of Saudis,” St. Petersburg Times, 6/9/04, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208427&l=42272.
3. Ibid.
4. Moore’s assertions supported by record; But ‘9/11’ director may have to defend rapid-fire statistics,” San Francisco Chronicle, 6/24/04, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208427&l=42273

 

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