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Occupation Watch News Bulletin


Occupation Watch News Bulletin June 27, 2005

The World Tribunal on Iraq concluded its final session, held in Istanbul, Turkey, today. A self-appointed citizen activist effort, it was designed, not to provide a full hearing on the question of possible U.S. and U.K. war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to Iraq, but rather, like a grand jury, to present the case for the prosecution and to call for a real investigation and trial.

Testimony was heard from a wide variety of former U.N. officials, journalists, academics, lawyers, and Iraqi eyewitnesses, and the final press conference was attended by roughly 200 media sources from around the world. A LEXIS-NEXIS search showed not a single major U.S. newspaper that has picked up the story, although the Associated Press, AFP, and Reuters filed reports. More coverage is available from truthout.org.

The New New Pearl HarborMichael Smith, the Times of London reporter who unearthed the original "Downing Street memo," reports on a July 2003 briefing by Air Force Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley. Moseley told assorted military officers that, operating "under cover of patrols of the southern no-fly zone," in fact, "in 2002 and early 2003 allied aircraft flew 21,736 sorties, dropping more than 600 bombs on 391 'carefully selected targets' before the war officially started."

At the time of the briefing, the story was reported by the New York Times on the front page and by the Washington Post, with its customary savoir-faire, on page A26. No other paper reported it and it got no play; Jon Carroll did write a piece for his "Daily Datebook" column in the San Francisco Chronicle that cited it and added this fact from the briefing: "Air war commanders were required to get permission from Donald Rumsfeld personally if any attack might result in the death of more than 30 civilians. Fifty such requests were made; none was turned down."

Richard Norton-Taylor had a story about the ongoing air war that made the same points in the Guardian in December 2002, before the invasion, but, again, the story got no play in the U.S. media.

Attacking while pretending to negotiate was Japan's crime at Pearl Harbor.

Therapy vs. NegotiationHala Jaber reports for the Times of London on negotiations, supposedly secret, between U.S. military forces and armed Iraqi groups including Ansar al-Sunna, the Islamic Army in Iraq, the Iraqi Liberation Army Jaish Mohammed (Army of Mohaemmed), and various other factions.

Shortly after beginning, "The Americans ... launched into a lengthy session of questioning about the structure of the insurgency." According to Jaber's Iraqi source, "the American team began to irritate the Iraqis with what some saw as a crude attempt to gather intelligence. They asked questions about the hierarchy and logistics of the groups, how they functioned, how orders were dispatched, how they divide their work and so on."

Negotiations broke down quicly when an American suggested that the groups disarm in return for release of all Iraqi prisoners. Said Jaber's source, "They [the Americans] were talking with a tone of more superiority, arrogance and provocation."

Appearing on three different talking-head TV shows on Sunday, Donald Rumsfeld confirmed reports of negotiations.

Finally, Some Reconstruction

The week before last, the Bush administration responded to a growing chorus calling for the detention facility at Guantanamo to be shut down by announcing the granting of a new $30 million contract for Halliburton to build an additional two-story prison there.

Now, Ashraf Khalil and Patrick McDonnell report for the Los Angeles Times on plans to build new detention facilities at Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca, and to build a third major prison, in northern Iraq, near Sulaymaniyah. In June, the average number of detainees in Iraq was reported to be 10,783; the new additions will increase capacity to 16,000.

On the other hand, reports Oliver Poole in the Telegraph, after an attack cut the water for over two million people in Baghdad last week, the response has been slow and ineffectual -- with the temperatures above 122 F. Electricity availability in Baghdad, he reports, averages 854 megawatts, as opposed to 2500 before the regime change.

Snatch and GrabRelations between the United States and Italy, already strained because of the checkpoint shooting of Nicola Calipari, are again tense, as Sofia Celeste and Farah Stockman report for the Boston Globe, over a case in which CIA operatives are alleged to have covertly abducted Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, a preacher allegedly connected to Ansar al-Islam, from Italy without the consent of Italian agents.

Yet More FreedomLouise Roug reports for the LA Times on the harsh rule of Islamic Law in Basra, enforced by the Badr Brigades of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), one of the main components of the new ruling alliance in the national government. The article concludes with a quote from a Basra resident longing for the days of "freedom" before the regime change.

Fool Me Once, ...As Linda Feldmann reports for the Christian Science Monitor, faced with growing political opposition, President Bush, on the defensive, will once again take his case to the American people in a nationally televised speech on Tuesday

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