"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Reply to the unconvinced/inconvincible

On fallujah:

The much-heralded ground assault on Fallujah finally began on 8 Nov, after more than two months of aerial attacks killing scores of civilians. Based on reports from aid workers, Fallujah residents and refugees, a high-ranking Red Cross official estimated that “at least 800 civilians” were killed in the first 9 days of the attack (IPS, 16 Nov).
US-appointed Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi, on the other hand, ‘said he d[idn’t] believe any civilians were killed in the offensive’ (Reuters, 15 Nov).

Once again the US appears to be guilty of serious war crimes: the city was placed ‘under a strict night-time shoot-to-kill curfew’ with ‘anyone spotted in the soldiers’ night vision sights…shot’ (Times, 12 Nov); male refugees were prevented from leaving the combat zone (AP, 13 Nov); and US forces were filmed killing an unarmed, wounded Iraqi (Guardian, 16 Nov). Refugees from the city claimed that ‘a large number of people, including children, were killed by American snipers’ (Independent, 24 Nov) and that the US had used cluster bombs and phosphorus weapons that caused severe burns (IPS, 16 Nov).

Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the rules of war protecting civilians and combatants have been violated in the current fighting in Falluja. Dozens of civilians have reportedly been killed during the fighting between US and Iraqi forces and insurgents. Amnesty International fears that civilians have been killed, in contravention of international humanitarian law, as a result of failure by parties to the fighting to take necessary precautions to protect non-combatants. The humanitarian situation in the city is said to be precarious.


[The US certainly used napalm in Iraq in March of the invasion; this has been admitted. It was apparently first reported by eyewitness Lindsay Murdoch of the Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/03/21/1047749944836.html

Also Lebanese journalist Burhan Fasa�a, who sneaked into Falluja after the assault began, reported "I saw cluster bombs everywhere, and so many bodies that were burned, dead with no bullets in them. So they definitely used fire weapons, especially in Julan District. I watched American snipers shoot civilians so many times"
] ([...]compiled by medialens reader annaf)

"It was really distressing picking up dead bodies from destroyed homes, especially children. It is the most depressing situation I have ever been in since the war started," Dr Rafa'ah al-Iyssaue, director of the main hospital in Fallujah city, some 60 km west of Baghdad, told IRIN.

According to al-Iyssaue, the hospital emergency team has recovered more than 700 bodies from rubble where houses and shops once stood, adding that more than 550 were women and children. He said a very small number of men were found in these places and most were elderly."


"Fuad Kubaysi, one of those staying at the Red Crescent compound, said, "What has happened to Falluja is a horror beyond anything imaginable. We don't want it anymore. Let them have it. Let whomever wants it have it. We cannot ever call this city home again." "

On election "problems":

"Elections in Iraq are taking place under military occupation and ‘any Iraqi prime minister will have to be palatable to Washington' (anonymous US official as paraphrased by Reuters, 17 Dec) – i.e. ‘palatable’ to the foreign occupying power. N.B. Ordinary Iraqis only elect an assembly, which in turn is supposed to select a 'presidency council', which in turn selects the new Iraqi PM - see the Transitional Administrative Law for details: http://www.cpa-iraq.org/government/TAL.html) - so there's quite a bit of scope for arm-twisting and back-room deals.

For the elections in Iraq the US is overtly using cash in an attempt to influence the outcome, having given at least $30 mn to the National Endowment for Democracy 'to provide technical assistance and training for moderate [sic] and democractic [sic] political parties in Iraq' (US State Department, 21 Oct 2004)

It is also worth noting that, whether or not Iraqis vote on 30 January - and whoever they vote for if they do - the US/UK military occupation is set to continue, with all that that entails (for more background info. on the election see link"

"How are the planned Iraqi elections different from other elections held under occupation?

The United Nations has claimed that the precedent for "legitimate" elections held under military occupation is the 1999 UN-run election in East Timor. But there are significant differences. Most importantly, UN resolutions had, since 1976, officially deemed the Indonesian occupation illegal and called on Indonesia to withdraw. The 1999 vote was not to select a puppet "government" to administer East Timor under continuing Indonesian occupation but was a direct referendum on whether or not to end the occupation - a choice never offered to Iraqis. Additionally, the Indonesian military was pressured sufficiently so there was little military violence during the referendum itself. (The Indonesian military's razing of much of Dili came after the election, not before or during.) And the balloting was run directly by the United Nations, with thousands of UN election workers and a wide array of international monitors."


"Al Mukhtar the names of those standing for election are not widely publicized, many names are indeed unknown and little or no manifestos have been published. However, what is publicized are the names and addresses of all who register to vote, they are displayed - in Iraq and all voting centers abroad - at all polling centers. This is simply and purely 'intimidation' says Al Mukhtar, it will 'encourage some and discourage others - disclosing names and addresses is highly dangerous, no one will be safe within or without polling stations, now or later', he contends. Intimidation needs no encouragement. Nadia Selim, from Notholt, Middlesex recounts in the Independent how her family in Hay Al Jamia in west Baghdad a mixed Sunni and Shi'ite neighborhood were planning to vote in spite of the dangers - until they were visited by their local shopkeeper. He requested they hand over their ration books for 'safe keeping'. The ration books are the means of identity for voters. Gunmen had visited him and ordered him to collect all ration books in the neighborhood. The family refused his request. Later he returned sobbing and begged them not to condemn his children to death, reluctantly they gave in. One can only speculate how widely similarly intimidating actions are being replicated throughout Iraq.

Further says Al Mukhtar no one knows who has drawn up the electoral lists and on what they are based. 'I am an Iraqi and entitled to vote, but no one has contacted me.'"


"Baghdad - Election centers have been bombed, candidates and electoral officials threatened and even killed. With only a week to go, intimidation is turning Iraq's landmark polls into a new kind of secret ballot.
Some Iraqis don't know who to vote for as most candidates keep their identities hidden, fearing for their lives. Those who've made up their minds don't know where to cast their ballots, since the location of polling stations is being hushed up until the last minute to thwart election day attacks. "We don't know these candidates, not their names, not their programs, not where they've come from. I will not vote for people I don't know," said Hussein Ali, a handyman in Baghdad. "Until now, we don't know how to vote. I know there is an election center nearby, but I'm not sure exactly where it is." Iraq's first national election since Saddam Hussein's fall will select a 275-seat National Assembly and 18 provincial assemblies. But even Iraqis willing to brave bombs and bullets to vote may have little clue who they are electing until after the event, prompting veteran Iraqi politician Naseer Chaderji to label the Jan. 30 polls the first "secret elections" in history. Voters will not be choosing individual politicians, but a list of candidates representing a party or coalition. However threats mean most of the 7,500 candidates shy away from rallies. Only leading politicians dare appear on television. In Iraq's third city of Mosul, the entire election staff resigned amid intimidation. Election officials in other cities have stepped down too. Seven have been killed, some dragged from their car in Baghdad in broad daylight and shot. Salama al-Khafaji, openly running on the United Iraqi Alliance list, has survived three attempts on her life, the latest last week."
(Reuters - http://www.truthout.org/docs_05/012505Z.shtml) [Well worth reading in full]

On Saddam's "links" to Al Qaeda:

"Jeff Birnbaum of The Washington Post wrote: "The staff report (of the 9/11 Commission) indicates that there was considerable interaction between Bin Laden and Iraq ... it was clear that they're fellow travelers." Commission co-chair Thomas Kean said, "What we have found is, were there contacts between Al Qaeda and Iraq? Yes, some of them were shadowy - but they were there.""

Wow, conclusive, damning evidence there.

the ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda (another dead link)

"Al-Qaeda was in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Pakistan, Chechnya, Singapore, Malaysia, Iran, Spain. Al-Qaeda was everywhere, including South Florida, but never in Iraq. This is what we are to believe?"

Belief is neither fact nor evidence.


"Indeed, most new reports concerning Al Qaeda and Iraq have

been of another nature. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu
Zubaydah, the two highest-ranking Qaeda operatives in custody,
have told investigatorsthat Mr. bin Laden shunned cooperation
with Saddam Hussein. A UnitedNations team investigating global
ties of the bin Laden group reported last month that they found
no evidence of a Qaeda-Iraq connection.

In addition, one Central Intelligence Agency official told The
Washington Post that a review panel of retired intelligence
operatives put together by the agency found that although there
were some ties among individuals in the two camps, ' it was not
at all clear there was any coordination or joint activities.' And
Rand Beers, the senior director for counterterrorism on the
National Security Council who resigned earlier this year, has
said that on the basis of the intelligence he saw, he did not
believe there was a significant relationship between Saddam
Hussein and Al Qaeda." (New York Times, July 20, 2003)

Putting aside Bush's rhetoric, how has he really approached the humanitarian angle:

‘Acute malnutrition among young children in Iraq has almost doubled since the US-led invasion in March 2003,’ according to a study carried out for UNICEF by the Oslo-based Fafo institute (FT, 24 Nov).

According to the survey of 22,000 homes, conducted in April and May of this year, acute malnutrition among children aged between six months and five years has risen from 4% before the invasion to 7.7%.

‘The new figure translates to roughly 400,000 Iraqi children suffering from “wasting,” a condition characterized by chronic diarrhea and dangerous deficiencies of protein’ (Washington Post, 21 Nov). "Iraq’s child malnutrition rate now roughly equals that of Burundi, a central African nation torn by more than a decade of war. It is far higher than rates in Uganda and Haiti."

A high-powered research team who conducted a cluster sample survey inside Iraq this September has concluded that, ‘[m]aking conservative assumptions…about 100,000 excess [Iraqi] deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths’ (Lancet, published on-line 29 Oct). Furthermore, ‘most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children.’

"Instead, the US public is fed bogus polls telling them half of Iraqis feel they are better off now with a year of occupation under their belts. That is an amazing figure, since nearly every one of the hundreds of Iraqis I interviewed throughout Iraq was understandably enraged at the 70% unemployment, less than 8 hours of electricity per day in Baghdad, water so terrible there are cholera outbreaks in southern Iraq, and a security situation that spirals further out of control on a daily basis." (ZNet)

On oil:

Now, Iraq’s unelected, US-appointed government ‘has issued an open invitation to the world’s largest oil companies to exploit its vast reserves’ (Independent on Sunday Oct). In an interview in a Shell newsletter Iraq’s Oil Minister said that ‘Iraq would open its doors to the oil giants early next year. “We would like to open a dialogue with the international oil companies [IOCs] … we think there is room for IOCs in Iraq – in particular in the upstream,” he explained.

"ChevronTexaco stands to gain from the new Iraqi government. The U.S. tax-payer funded Iraqi National Congress, the London-based Iraqi opposition party, is very likely to have a key role in the new government of Iraq. Multi-millionaire, Ahmed Chalabi, who leads the INC, has made very clear their intentions to provide a leading role for US multi-national oil corporations, specifically ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil, in the future of Iraqi oil. "American companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil," according to Chalabi, frontrunner to be installed as the new leader of a U.S. led Iraq. (Washinton Post, 9/15/02: In Iraq War Scenario, Oil is Key Issue)

The UK Guardian reported that the Iraqi National Congress met with executives of three US oil multinational, including ChevronTexaco, to negotiate the carve-up of Iraq's massive oil reserves. (11/3/2002)

Even CBS's 60 Minutes reported meetings between the INC and ChevronTexaco, reporting in March, 2002, that Chalabi is working, "with the president's and vice president's friends in the oil industry, promising executives of both ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil preferential treatment in a post Sadam Iraq."

Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor and super-hawk of the Bush Administration is a former director of ChevronTexaco and continues to maintain strong ties to the company. Chevron and Texaco executives, prior to the company merger, advised Vice President Dick Cheney on energy policy, both directly through the Energy Task Force and through the companies close ties to the Council on Foreign Relations."


On intelligence regarding WMD capabilities prior to war:

What follows is the meat and potatoes of my interview with Ritter three years before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and one year after Ritter published a more detailed analysis in his book "Endgame."

SG: Can you tell me about the threat that Saddam Hussein poses to the Middle East region, in particular, and the world, in general?

Ritter: "Let's talk about the weapons. In 1991, did Iraq have a viable (WMD) capability? You're darn right they did. They had a massive chemical weapons program. They had a giant biological weapons program. They had long-range ballistic missiles and they had a nuclear weapons program that was about six months away from having a viable weapon.

"Now after seven years of work by UNSCOM inspectors, there was no more (WMD) program. It had been eliminated....When I say eliminated I'm talking about facilities destroyed...

"The weapons stock had been, by and large, accounted for - removed, destroyed or rendered harmless. Means of production had been eliminated, in terms of the factories that can produce this....There were some areas that we didn't have full accounting for...(U.N. Resolution) 687 required that Iraq be disarmed 100 percent. It's what they call 'quantitative disarmament.' Iraq will not be found in compliance until it has been disarmed to a 100 percent level. That's the standard set forth by the Security Council and as implementors of the Security Council resolution, the weapons inspectors had no latitude to seek to do anything less than that - 80 percent was not acceptable; 90 percent was not acceptable; only 100 percent was acceptable.

"And this was the Achilles tendon, so to speak, of UNSCOM. Because by the time 1997 came around, Iraq had been qualitatively disarmed. On any meaningful benchmark - in terms of defining Iraq's WMD capability; in terms of assessing whether or not Iraq posed a threat, not only to its immediate neighbors, but the region and the world as a whole - Iraq had been eliminated as such a threat....

"What was Iraq hiding? Documentation primarily - documents that would enable them to reconstitute, at a future date, WMD capability....But all of this is useless...unless Iraq has access to the tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars required to rebuild the industrial infrastructure (necessary) to build these weapons. They didn't have it in 1998. They don't have it today. This paranoia about what Iraq is doing now that there aren't weapons inspectors reflects a lack of understanding of the reality in Iraq.

"The economic sanctions have devastated this nation. The economic sanctions, combined with the effects of the (first) Gulf War, have assured that Iraq operate as a Third World nation in terms of industrial output and capacity..."

(Scott is a former Marine, Republican, Weapons Inspector)


"Despite public statements made before the war by Bush, Blair and officials and pundits on both sides of the Atlantic to the contrary, the ISG report concludes that all of Iraq's WMD stockpiles had been destroyed in 1991, and WMD programmes and facilities dismantled by 1996."


“A substantial amount of Iraq's chemical warfare agents, precursors, munitions, and production equipment were destroyed between 1991 and 1998 as a result of Operation Desert Storm and UNSCOM (United Nations Special Commission) actions.”-- From a Defense Intelligence Agency report released in June 2003

“The IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] had found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq”-- IAEA head, Mohamed ElBaradei, report to the Security Council, 3/7/03

”The CIA does not agree that Iraq possesses a crude nuclear weapon. ’We don't believe they have the fissile material required for a nuclear weapon,’ said one senior U.S. official. ... ‘Nor do we believe they currently have the infrastructure to build a nuclear weapon.’”-- The Washington Post, 11/5/00

[“[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.”-- Sec. of State Colin Powell, 2/4/01 (Just two years later, the same Colin Powell put the last shred of his credibility into a tiny vial and presented it to the UN along with BushCo’s imaginary reasons for war against Iraq.) *This Feb 2001 Powell "No significant WMD" TV footage is still being as relentlessy suppressed/ignored by the media as it was in the run-up to the war - that includes the BBC, The Independent, Channel4 News etc - right the way down to Fox News. Watch the original still-taboo Powell 20-second TV footage - the footage that could have completely undermined Bush's case for war - online at: [url]http://www.evuk.co.uk/hotwires/rawstuff/art56.html [/url]

“… let's remember that [Saddam’s] country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.”-- National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, on CNN Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer, 7/29/01 (Two years later, she was talking about “mushroom clouds”.)]
([...] comment by medialens reader m)

“The problem is not in the intelligence; it was in the use and abuse of that intelligence by others, whoever they were.”-- S. Eugene Poteat, President of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/17/04

On Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi:


To summarize:

If the Iraq people don't get some sort of democratic process as a result of this invasion, the only things we will have accomplished are, over 100,000 civilians dead (see: Lancet report), 1,000+ coalition soldiers dead, over 10,000 soldiers injured, a country left in ruins, a land contaminated with depleted uranium (http://www.rimbaud.freeserve.co.uk/dhap99f.html http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/abom/uran/index_e.html) and a new training ground for extremists. We all deserve a pat on the back.

To see images of what we have done:
Under "Victims of the Anglo-American Aggression"
[caution, disturbing pictures]

"There are dangerous and fanatical individuals and groups around the world who have been inspired by extreme Islamist ideas and who will use the techniques of mass terror — the attacks on America and Madrid make this only too clear. But the nightmare vision of a uniquely powerful hidden organization waiting to strike our societies is an illusion. Wherever one looks for this Al Qaeda organization, from the mountains of Afghanistan to the 'sleeper cells' in America, the British and Americans are chasing a phantom enemy."

The Power of Nightmares - Adam Curtis