You are hereIraq
While George W. Bush is apparently proud of everything he's ever done, Tony Blair came dangerously close to facing reality this weekend when he admitted there were "elements of truth" in the view that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the principal cause of the rise of ISIS (among other catastrophic results of that invasion).
At the same time, Blair lied that the war was an honest mistake based on bad "intelligence," and claimed there was no clearly superior alternative anyway:
"We have tried intervention and putting down troops in Iraq; we've tried intervention without putting in troops in Libya; and we've tried no intervention at all but demanding regime change in Syria," he said. "It's not clear to me that, even if our policy did not work, subsequent policies have worked better."
Now, your average unindoctrinated 10-year-old might conclude that overthrowing foreign governments has been a disaster any which way it's done, and therefore ought not to be done at all. Not our friend Tony. In the end he's offered a non-apology on the grounds that anything else he might conceivably have done -- including refraining from overthrowing the Iraqi government at all -- would have been just as bad:
"I find it hard to apologize for removing Saddam. I think, even from today in 2015, it is better that he's not there than that he is there," Blair said. You have to hand it to Blair, for a global spreader of democracy through death, he boldly ignores any question of whether the people of Iraq agree with him. They do not. Back in 2004, the BBC bragged that it could get 49% of Iraqis ("almost half"!) to say that the invasion had been "right." In 2007, an Iraqi poll found that 90% of Iraqis believed they'd been better off before the invasion. In 2011, a U.S. poll found that many more Iraqis thought they were worse off, than thought they were better off, because of the invasion.
Perhaps those ignorant Iraqis just can't see how much better off they are. That would explain why they had to be invaded and occupied in the first place. But a careful examination of the death, injury, trauma, environmental damage, infrastructure loss, and societal devastation brought to Iraq by Bush, Blair, and company establishes the war on Iraq from 2003 forward as one of the world's worst events.
Clearly the hell created in Libya in 2011 does not rival the damage done to Iraq. The hell being created in Syria does begin to rival Iraq, but it has been steadily worsened by Western efforts to overthrow the government, not by Western restraint. For that matter, it has been seriously worsened by the previous invasions of Iraq and Libya, as well as by the steady arming of the region with U.S. weapons over the past several years.
Tunisia just brought home a Nobel Peace Prize in large part due to having a couple of lucky breaks, possibly related to each other. First, Tunisia sits on less oil and gas and in the way of fewer oil and gas pipelines. Second, it has received far less "help" from U.S. and European militaries. For the most part, the Pentagon and U.K. have done to Tunisia what Tony Blair literally cannot conceive of doing in Iraq, Libya, or Syria, namely, left it the heck alone, as it found its own way to better government.
But, one might ask, how can the West just stand by as brutal governments abuse their people?
Well, the West never does just stand by. Occasionally it overthrows those governments, making everyone even worse off. Far more often it arms, funds, and supports those governments -- as in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, the new Iraq, etc. -- keeping everyone in their current state of suffering.
In Blair's 2010 memoir, he wrote that former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney had "wanted forcible 'regime change' in all Middle Eastern countries that he considered hostile to U.S. interests. . . . He would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran." But, of course, that's not a list of the nations doing the most damage to the world or their own people. That's a list of the nations refusing to pledge their obedience to Washington, nations "hostile to U.S. interests."
And there we see why Tony Blair doesn't consider the views of Iraqi people before declaring that "it is better that he's not there than that he is there." From the point of view of Western weapons companies, Western oil companies, Western friends and associates of Tony Blair, he's perfectly right. It is better that all those people were killed and the region thrown into chaos for many years to come.
One must adopt a radically different perspective to hear the meaning when I say, It is better that Jeremy Corbyn leads the Labour Party, and that even CNN now tries to ask Tony Blair to answer for his crimes.
Editor Note: In modern times, the Catholic Church has made excuses for unjustifiable wars even as it has made abortion a cardinal sin, a hypocrisy that will be tested as Pope Francis visits the United States, a country immersed in all the immorality that comes from warfare, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
By Ray McGovern
Pope Francis could use his visit to the U.S. this week to make unmistakably clear that the Catholic Church’s teaching on the “sanctity of life” applies to more than just the first nine months of gestation.
Editor Note: Torture defenders are back on the offensive publishing a book by ex-CIA leaders rebutting a Senate report that denounced the brutal tactics as illegal, inhumane and ineffective. Now, in a memo to President Obama, other U.S. intelligence veterans are siding with the Senate findings and repudiating the torture apologists.
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Veteran Intelligence Professionals Challenge CIA’s “Rebuttal” on Torture
By Dave Lindorff
President Barack Obama is on track to go down in history as one of the, or perhaps as the worst and most criminal presidents in US history.
By John Grant
"Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning."
It's not terrorism if it's retaliation: Chattanooga Shooting, If Linked to ISIS, is a Legitimate Act of War
By Dave Lindorff
I'm not a fan of war or of killing of any kind, but the labeling of the deadly attack by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez on two US military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee as an act of terror is absurd.
Talking with Iran has made the war profiteers and their servants sad and the rest of the world happy. Perhaps the novel idea of negotiating rather than killing will be carried over to several other parts of the world. Mainstream corporate voices are even raising the idea of talking with ISIS, or at least talking with the nations of the region ISIS is in about ISIS, or at least ceasing to make the ISIS Crisis worse by ignorantly doing everything wrong -- which just might include making friends with Iran in order to fight ISIS together.
"But what about ISIS?" That has been the endless zombie question encountered by all peace activists ever since the propaganda coup of the videos of two U.S. journalist beheadings. And part of the answer has always been: learn where it came from. Phyllis Bennis's new book can help with that job wonderfully. The book is called Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer. Whether you think you understand ISIS or not, I urge you to pick up a copy, or better a box of copies. This is a small book that should be passed out like a vaccine to residents of the enormous camp of refugees from sanity and historicity that we call the United States of America.
Bennis's book is excellent on what to do, although that topic is found in a handful of pages near the end. The focus, however, is on understanding origins and context. If anything, this is overdone, though it's hard to see what the harm could be in people learning a little too much. The book covers Syria, the Arab Spring, Libya, Iran, the United Nations, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and many other tangentially related topics (I wish she's added a section on the phony reports of ISIS actions in the United States). The book is excellent on the 2013 Syria Missile Crisis and the role that popular resistance played in preventing a massive U.S. bombing campaign in Syria. That, even more so than the successful negotiation with Iran this week, should be our model for future activism.
Bennis relates an excellent history of the Mountain Rescue Excuse and places it in the context of the Imminent-Genocide-in-Benghazi Scam and other past justifications to launch wars that have predictably and immediately veered off into unrelated murderous operations.
But I think the most interesting point in this wide-ranging book may be one that Bennis makes about the Sunni Awakening. You might recall that when the United States began the 2003-2011 destruction of Iraq it quickly dissolved the Iraqi military, dismantled the civil service, and got rid of the Baath Party. Angry, trained, and armed fighters joined the popular resistance to the U.S. occupation. Among the new fighting groups that formed was Al Qaeda in Iraq. In 2006, the Bush administration gave up on the hopeless mission-never-to-be-accomplished of trying to fight these groups, and started buying them off. This was a key part of the success of the "surge" that was itself no success at all. But some of the groups, including AQI refused to be bought off or to cease fighting.
In 2008, the United States turned over to the Iraqi government the job of buying off Sunni groups. The Iraqi government ceased making the payments. And the growth of ISIS, the renamed AQI, was underway. And it was exacerbated by an Iraqi government that shut out Sunnis and attacked Sunnis, while being funded and armed by the U.S. government. People think ISIS came out of nowhere, but many of us were, in the years before ISIS hit the news, struggling to oppose the U.S. provision of weapons to the Iraqi government for use in attacking Iraqis. This is where ISIS and broad support for ISIS among Sunnis came from.
Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia had told Sir Richard Dearlove of MI6, "The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally 'God help the Shi'a.' More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them." ISIS funding flows from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, and Qatar, as well as from oil sales and artifact sales and kidnappings and thefts.
When 1,300 ISIS fighters overwhelmed 350,000 Iraqi soldiers and helped themselves to loads of U.S. weaponry, ISIS had the support of Sunni leaders angered by the Iraqi government, and of former Iraqi military leaders thrown out of work by Paul Bremmer -- not to mention benefitting from the chaos and flood of weaponry into Syria, and critically from the lack of enthusiasm for their cause among members of the Iraqi military.
So why do I say the Sunni Awakening is the most interesting point? Because something was working. Making small payments of cash to Sunnis -- sums far smaller than those spent on the weapons and the training (at $4 million per trainee now) to fight them -- was working. What if, instead of ending those payments, they had been continued, or been transformed into a program of nonviolent aid to everyone in the region, accompanied perhaps by a note of apology for having destroyed the place?
Bennis' first recommendation for what to do is an arms embargo. I think if Americans realized that their country was arming the region that their country constantly laments the violence in, the idea of an arms embargo would have overwhelming appeal. Beyond that, Bennis recommends: an inclusive Iraqi government, an end to airstrikes, a withdrawal of U.S. troops, and the use of diplomacy, including possibly talks with ISIS.
Bennis also suggests reversing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project which can make teaching non-violent activism to groups abroad into the crime of "material support for terrorism." And she proposes a massive increase in U.S. aid through U.N. agencies.
Of course, aid has a tendency to make things better and a proven record of working in Iraq. So I assume every other possible approach will be tried first.
NOTE TO THOSE IN WASHINGTON DC AREA:
Come to the book launch party for this book, with its author, on July 27 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Busboys & Poets 5th and K, 1025 5th St NW, Washington, DC.
Map from: http://www.freeworldmaps.net/m
By David Swanson, teleSUR
The National Security Archive has posted several newly available documents, one of them an account by Charles Duelfer of the search he led in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, with a staff of 1,700 and the resources of the U.S. military.
Duelfer was appointed by CIA Director George Tenet to lead a massive search after an earlier massive search led by David Kay had determined that there were no WMD stockpiles in Iraq. Duelfer went to work in January 2004, to find nothing for a second time, on behalf of people who had launched a war knowing full well that their own statements about WMDs were not true.
The fact that Duelfer states quite clearly that he found none of the alleged WMD stockpiles cannot be repeated enough, with 42% of Americans (and 51 percent of Republicans) still believing the opposite.
A New York Times story last October about the remnants of a long-abandoned chemical weapons program has been misused and abused to advance misunderstanding. A search of Iraq today would find U.S. cluster bombs that were dropped a decade back, without of course finding evidence of a current operation.
Duelfer is also clear that Saddam Hussein's government had accurately denied having WMD, contrary to a popular U.S. myth that Hussein had pretended to have what he did not.
The fact that President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their team knowingly lied cannot be overemphasized. This group took the testimony of Hussein Kamel regarding weapons he'd said had been destroyed years ago, and used it as if he'd said they currently existed. This team used forged documents to allege a uranium purchase. They used claims about aluminum tubes that had been rejected by all of their own usual experts. They "summarized" a National Intelligence Estimate that said Iraq was unlikely to attack unless attacked to say nearly the opposite in a "white paper" released to the public. Colin Powell took claims to the U.N. that had been rejected by his own staff, and touched them up with fabricated dialogue.
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller concluded that, "In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even nonexistent."
On January 31, 2003, Bush suggested to Blair that they could paint an airplane with U.N. colors, fly it low to get it shot at, and thereby start the war. Then the two of them walked out to a press conference at which they said they would avoid war if at all possible. Troop deployments and bombing missions were already underway.
When Diane Sawyer asked Bush on television why he had made the claims he had about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction, he replied: "What's the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons, if he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger."
Duelfer's newly released internal report on his hunt, and that of Kay before him, for the figments of propagandists' imagination refers to "Saddam Hussein's WMD program," which Duelfer treats as an on-again, off-again institution, as if the 2003 invasion had just caught it in one of its naturally cyclical low tides of non-existence. Duelfer also describes the nonexistent program as "an international security problem that vexed the world for three decades," -- except perhaps for the part of the world engaged in the largest public demonstrations in history, which rejected the U.S. case for war.
Duelfer openly states that his goal was to rebuild "confidence in intelligence projections of threat." Of course, having found no WMDs, he can't alter the inaccuracy of the "projections of threat." Or can he? What Duelfer did publicly at the time and does again here is to claim, without providing any evidence for it, that "Saddam was directing resources to sustain the capacity to recommence producing WMD once U.N. sanctions and international scrutiny collapsed."
Duelfer claims that former Saddam yes men, rigorously conditioned to say whatever would most please their questioner, had assured him that Saddam harbored these secret intentions to start rebuilding WMD someday. But, Duelfer admits, "there is no documentation of this objective. And analysts should not expect to find any."
So, in Duelfer's rehabilitation of the "intelligence community" that may soon be trying to sell you another "projection of threat" (a phrase that perfectly fits what a Freudian would say they were doing), the U.S. government invaded Iraq, devastated a society, killed upwards of a million people by best estimates, wounded, traumatized, and made homeless millions more, generated hatred for the United States, drained the U.S. economy, stripped away civil liberties back home, and laid the groundwork for the creation of ISIS, as a matter not of "preempting" an "imminent threat" but of preempting a secret plan to possibly begin constructing a future threat should circumstances totally change.
This conception of "preemptive defense" is identical to two other concepts. It's identical to the justifications we've been offered recently for drone strikes. And it's identical to aggression. Once "defense" has been stretched to include defense against theoretical future threats, it ceases to credibly distinguish itself from aggression. And yet Duelfer seems to believe he succeeded in his assignment.
Iraqis were attempting the nonviolent overthrow of their dictator prior to his violent overthrow by the United States in 2003. When U.S. troops began to ease up on their liberating and democracy-spreading in 2008, and during the Arab Spring of 2011 and the years that followed, nonviolent Iraqi protest movements grew again, working for change, including the overthrow of their new Green Zone dictator. He would eventually step down, but not before imprisoning, torturing, and murdering activists -- with U.S. weapons, of course.
There have been and are Iraqi movements for women's rights, labor rights, to stop dam construction on the Tigris in Turkey, to throw the last U.S. troop out of the country, to free the government from Iranian influence, and to protect Iraqi oil from foreign corporate control. Central to much of the activism, however, has been a movement against the sectarianism that the U.S. occupation brought. Over here in the United States we don't hear much about that. How would it fit with the lie we're told over and over that Shi'a-Sunni fighting has been going on for centuries?
Ali Issa's new book, Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle in Iraq, collects interviews he's done of key Iraqi activists, and public statements made by Iraqi activist movements, including a letter to the U.S. Occupy Movement and similar messages of global solidarity. The voices are hard to hear because we haven't been hearing them all these years, and because they don't fit with lies we've been told or even with overly simplistic truths we've been told.
By Jack Balkwill
How many days has it been
Since I was born?
How many days
'Til I die?
Do I know any ways
I can make you laugh?
Or do I only know how
To make you cry?
― Leon Russell, Stranger in a Strange Land
By John Grant
We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.
- George Orwell
“If we want to deter future presidents from taking this nation to another war under false pretenses, some president in the future that gets a funny thought, I think that deterrence would increase immeasurably if he knew what America did to George Bush, put him on trial for murder, and if he was convicted, of course, the punishment would either be life imprisonment or the imposition of the death penalty.”
Tariq Aziz, former Prime Minister of Iraq has passed away. Twelve years of suffering in Iraqi jails have ended and he can finally rest in peace. Unwell, deprived of adequate medical help and abandoned by the outside world, he was held hostage by Iraqi governments following the illegal invasion of Iraq by the US and the UK governments in 2003. Tariq Aziz was needed by a struggling authority as a symbol of victory after having inherited a destroyed nation following years of sanctions and a failed occupation.
It does not matter to us that our words of sadness and respect for Tariq Aziz – a leader during many dark days of his country – will be used by some to discredit us for alleged support of a dictatorial regime.
Tariq Aziz impressed us again and again by his commitment with which he cooperated with the United Nations when we served at different times as UN humanitarian coordinators in Baghdad. His relentless efforts to prevent the 2003 war will not be forgotten. He was a hard but highly principled task master without whom the inadequate UN Security Council response to human suffering in Iraq would have had an even worse impact.
We have a good idea how the scales of justice would react were it possible to quantify the weight of wrong-doing against the people of Iraq contributed from within Iraq and from the outside.
During the past years, we had hoped that influential leaders would see it as their moral responsibility to see that Tariq Aziz, a sick and elderly statesman, would be allowed to live his last days in the comfort of his family. We were wrong. We had appealed to former US Secretary of State, James Baker, who co-chaired with Tariq Aziz the 1991 Geneva negotiations on Iraq, to support calls for humane treatment of his former counterpart. Baker refused to act as a statesman. We also had hoped to hear the Pope’s voice for fellow Christian Tariq Aziz following our contact with the Holy See’s foreign minister. The Vatican remained mute. Other leaders in Europe and elsewhere preferred silence to compassion.
Not even our own organization, the United Nations, could muster the courage to demand fair treatment for the man whom the organization had known over decades as a convincing and credible defender of Iraq’s rights.
As time passes, we are certain that Tariq Aziz will increasingly be remembered as a strong leader who tried his best to protect the integrity of Iraq against all odds within his country and against outside interference by self-serving political forces.
Hans-C. von Sponeck and Denis J. Halliday,
UN Assistant Secretaries-General & UN Humanitarian Coordinators for Iraq (ret.) (1997-2000) Müllheim (Germany) and Dublin (Ireland)
Resurgence of the 'Surge' Myth
Editor Note: Official Washington loves the story – the Iraq War was failing until President George W. Bush bravely ordered a “surge” in 2007 that won the war, but President Obama squandered the victory, requiring a new “surge” now. Except the narrative is dangerous make-believe.
By Ray McGovern
As American politicians and editorial writers resume their tough talk about sending more U.S. troops into Iraq, they are resurrecting the “successful surge” myth, the claim that President George W. Bush’s dispatch of 30,000 more soldiers in 2007 somehow “won” the war – a storyline that is beloved by the neocons because it somewhat lets them off the hook for starting the disaster in the first place.
Think of this as a little imperial folly update -- and here's the backstory. In the years after invading Iraq and disbanding Saddam Hussein’s military, the U.S.
By Norman Solomon, ExposeFacts
A dozen years before his recent sentencing to a 42-month prison term based on a jury’s conclusion that he gave classified information to a New York Times journalist, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was in the midst of a protracted and fruitless effort to find someone in Congress willing to look into his accusations about racial discrimination at the agency.
ExposeFacts.org has obtained letters from Sterling to prominent members of Congress, beseeching them in 2003 and 2006 to hear him out about racial bias at the CIA. Sterling, who is expected to enter prison soon, provided the letters last week. They indicate that he believed the CIA was retaliating against him for daring to become the first-ever black case officer to sue the agency for racial discrimination.
As early as 2000, Sterling was reaching out toward Capitol Hill about his concerns. He received a positive response from House member Julian Dixon (D-Calif.), a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, who expressed interest in pursuing the matter of racial discrimination at the CIA and contacted the agency about his case, Sterling says. But the 20-year member of Congress died from a heart attack on Dec. 8, 2000.
Sterling recalls getting special firing treatment in early 2002 from John Brennan, then a high-ranking CIA executive, now the agency’s director and a close adviser to President Obama: “He personally came down to the administrative office to tell me that I was fired. Someone told me that, ‘Well, you pulled on Superman’s cape.’”
By John Grant
In September 2001, the Bush administration launched its “global war on terror,” to which its supporters later tried to attach names like “the long war” or “World War IV.” Their emphasis: that we were now engaged in nothing less than a multi-generational struggle without end. (World War III had theoretically been the Cold War.) In fact, only the “war on terror” would stick and, in 2009, even that would be tossed over
Some Americans have heard of New York Times reporter and book author James Risen and his refusal to expose a source. But, because most reports on that matter scrupulously avoided the subject of what it was Risen had reported, relatively few people can tell you. In fact, Risen reported (in a book, as the New York Times obeyed a government request to keep it quiet) that back in the year 2000 the CIA gave nuclear weapons plans to Iran. Flaws had been introduced into the plans, with the stated intention of slowing down an Iranian nuclear weapons program if one existed. Risen's reporting that the flaws were glaringly obvious, including to the former-Russian asset assigned to deliver the plans to Iran, made the scheme look even worse than it at first sounds.
Jeffery Sterling, a CIA handler of the former-Russian asset, was convicted earlier this year of being Risen's source. He was convicted on the basis of the sort of circumstantial evidence known as "meta-data" that the NSA maintains we're not supposed to worry about, but which an appeals court on Thursday ruled the bulk collection of unconstitutional. Sterling is expected to be sentenced Monday to a lengthy prison term.
During the course of Sterling's trial, the CIA itself made public a bigger story than the one it pinned on Sterling. The CIA revealed, unintentionally no doubt, that just after the nuclear weapons plans had been dropped off for the Iranians, the CIA had proposed to the same asset that he next approach the Iraqi government for the same purpose. The CIA revealed this by entering into evidence this cable:
Mr. S., also known as Bob S., was and is a CIA officer. M is short for Merlin which is code for the former Russian and also the name of the operation (Operation Merlin). The cable refers to a more adventurous extension of the operation to somewhere other than Iran. The name for this other location begins with a vowel, because it follows the indefinite article "AN."
Look closely at the text of the cable. The letters line up in vertical columns as well as the usual horizontal rows. It's a grid. The missing word on the seventh line begins with a vowel and has five letters. It can be IRAQI or OMANI.
Keep reading. The missing word on the tenth line has four letters. It is either IRAQ or OMAN.
There follows a discussion of a meeting place, which is likely not in Iraq (or Oman).
Read to the last line. There the missing word has six letters. It can be IRAQIS or OMANIS.
The circumstantial evidence for choosing Iraq over Oman as the second target for Operation Merlin is far more weighty than what was used to convict Jeffrey Sterling of informing the public of the first target. Oman has never been alleged publicly by anyone of having or pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Oman has never been known to be a target of U.S. military action. Iraq in 2000 had been the target of multiple CIA-backed coup attempts. Iraq's weaponry was a top focus of the CIA. Within two years, claims about Iraqi weaponry would be used by the CIA to support the U.S. attack on Iraq that would come in March 2003.
The 2002-2003 claims by then-President George W. Bush and then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice that a smoking gun could come from Iraq in the form of a mushroom cloud take on a different light when we learn that some short time earlier the CIA had proposed to give Iraq nuclear weapons plans as part of a program that Condoleezza Rice personally persuaded the New York Times not to reveal.
In 1995, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law Hussein Kamel had informed U.S. and British intelligence officers that "all weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed." Yet, on October 2, 2002, President Bush said, "The regime has the scientists and facilities to build nuclear weapons, and is seeking the materials needed to do so." This was a claim he would also put in a letter to Congress and in his 2003 State of the Union Address.
Vice President Dick Cheney went so far as to claim, on March 16, 2003, on Meet The Press, "And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."
There was no evidence for this, of course, and pretended evidence was carefully manufactured, including forged documents purporting to show that Iraq was trying to buy uranium, and an incorrect analysis of aluminum tubes that had to be carefully sought out after all the usual experts refused to provide the desired answer.
"We do know that there have been shipments going . . . into Iraq . . . of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to -- high-quality aluminum tools [sic] that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs," said Condoleezza Rice on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on September 8, 2002.
When the experts at the Departments of Energy, State, and Defense refused to say that aluminum tubes in Iraq were for nuclear facilities, because they knew they could not possibly be and were almost certainly for rockets, a couple of guys at the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center near Charlottesville, Va., were happy to oblige. Their names were George Norris and Robert Campus, and they received "performance awards" (cash) for the service. Then Secretary of State Colin Powell used Norris' and Campus' claims in his U.N. speech despite the warning of his own staff that they weren't true.
The U.S. government has never engaged in any such efforts to falsely portray Oman as pursuing nuclear weapons.
Did the CIA follow through with Merlin and actually give anything to the Iraqi government? Did it provide nuclear weapons plans as with Iran? Did it provide nuclear weapons parts, as originally conceived for Iran but not followed through on?
We don't know. But we know that the CIA continued paying "Merlin" and his wife for some service. As Marcy Wheeler pointed out, "altogether, the CIA paid the Merlins roughly $413,223.67 over the 7 years after James Risen supposedly ruined Merlin's usefulness as an asset." For all we know, we taxpayers are still funding the Merlin household.
Body Counts, Drones, and “Collateral Damage” (aka “Bug Splat”)
Judith Miller’s Blame-Shifting Memoir
April 7, 2015
U.S. intelligence veterans and associates recall the real story of how New York Times reporter Judith Miller disgraced herself and her profession by helping to mislead Americans into the disastrous war in Iraq. They challenge the slick, self-aggrandizing rewrite of history in her new memoir.
MEMORANDUM FOR: Americans Malnourished on the Truth About Iraq
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: A New “Miller’s Tale” (with apologies to Geoffrey Chaucer)
I think we must be due some kind of prize. This is the 50,000th war in a row to have violated the "laws of war."
The documentation comes from Human Rights Watch which reports that last August 31st U.S. and Iraqi air strikes "drove ISIS forces away from the town" of Amerli. No doubt, many people died and were maimed and traumatized (also known as terrorized) by those "air strikes," but that's just part of war, which it wouldn't be ethical for Human Rights Watch to question.
What concerns Human Rights Watch is what began on September 1st. About 6,000 fighters for the Iraqi government and various militias moved in, with their U.S. weaponry. They destroyed villages. They demolished homes, businesses, mosques, and public buildings. They looted. They burned. They abducted. In fact they behaved exactly as troops taught to hate and murder certain groups of people had behaved in the 49,999 previous recorded wars. "The actions violated the laws of war," Human Rights Watch says.
Human Rights Watch recommends that Iraq disband the militias and care for the refugees who have fled their wrath, while holding "accountable" those responsible for the documented violations of the "laws of war." Human Rights Watch wants the United States to establish "reform benchmarks." The possibility of ending participation in the war, creating an arms embargo, negotiating a ceasefire, and redirecting ALL energy into aid and restitution doesn't arise.
The "laws of war" are not laws of physics. If they were, the first law of war would be:
People instructed to murder will engage in lesser crimes as well.
Laws of war, unlike laws of physics, are just not this sort of observation of something that always happens. On the contrary, they are laws that are always violated. Human Rights Watch explains:
"International humanitarian law, the laws of war, governs fighting in non-international armed conflicts such as that between Iraqi government forces, government-backed militias, and opposition armed groups. The laws of war governing the methods and means of warfare in non-international armed conflicts are primarily found in the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the First Additional Protocol of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions (Protocol I). . . . Central to the laws of war is the principle of distinction, which requires parties to a conflict to distinguish at all times between combatants and civilians. . . . While Iraqi government forces may have destroyed property for military reasons in some cases, Human Rights Watch found that the large-scale destruction of property by pro-government militias in the cases detailed in this report appear to violate international law. . . . In the instances detailed above, it appeared militias destroyed property after fighting had finished in the area and when combatants from ISIS had fled from the area. Therefore it suggests their justification for the attacks may have been for punitive reasons; or in order to prevent Sunni residents from returning to the areas from which they fled."
So, the next time you're murdering large numbers of Sunnis, and the ones designated as combatants have left, please begin behaving decently to all the others. Do not torture anyone you wounded while trying to murder them. Do not destroy people's homes with thoughts of punishment or demographic change in your head, but rather ponder military objectives while burning houses, and as quickly as possible get back to the acceptable and legal efforts to kill combatants, especially whenever possible with bombs from airplanes whose pilots have been carefully instructed to only intend to kill combatants and whose commander in chief defines "combatant" as military-aged male.
Here's Time Magazine's David von Drehle: "The greatest threat that ISIS poses -- even to the poor souls living under ISIS rule -- is the unintended damage that might follow from the effort to eradicate the group. . . . As dangerous as it is to have a terrorist kingdom in the middle of the world's geopolitical tinderbox, ousting ISIS will be every bit as dangerous."
Drehle goes from there immediately into the debate over whether U.S. troops or local troops should do the job. His article is followed by Max Boot arguing for U.S. ground troops and Karl Vick arguing for U.S. bombing with local ground troops. All three writers seem to be aware that ISIS wanted U.S. bombing and wants U.S. ground troops even more, that ISIS recruitment climbs in response to U.S. military action. All three can't help but be aware that terrorist kingdoms like Saudi Arabia already exist in the region with the blessing of the U.S. government (and of magazine writers who seek to please the U.S. government). All three are fairly condescending toward local troops, eager to (somehow) get Sunnis to attack Sunnis, and wary of allowing Iranian "death squads" to get involved in the, you know, mass killing they are proposing.
None of the three have one word to say about the great many innocents already killed in the latest U.S. bombings, but all three seem to grasp that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was necessary for the creation of ISIS, all three seem to understand that fighting ISIS is counterproductive, and yet all three strive to place the need to attack ISIS beyond the range of any debate. The question is not whether to make the disaster worse, but exactly how to do it.
What, after all, makes the region a global tinderbox? Israel's nukes? Certainly not, those are not supposed to be mentioned or even thought about. Well then, all the other weapons? But over 80% of those are supplied by the United States, so that can't be it. Perhaps the violent overthrows and devastation of so many governments and countries? But it was the U.S. and friends who destroyed Iraq and made Libya what it is and who have done what they're still doing to Afghanistan. It is the U.S. that has ruined Yemen. It is the U.S. that arms and supports Israel's wars. It is the U.S. that props up the terrorist states in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and Egypt. Surely what makes the region a tinderbox (rather than a region rich in oil about which greedy earth-destroying interests might be concerned) is something unthinkable or nonsensical or inscrutable, something ethnic or religious or unworthy of consideration.
Because otherwise we might have to consider cease fires and arms embargoes and diplomacy and humanitarian aid as possible alternatives to the usual choices of (1) do nothing, or (2) make it all worse with more of what caused much of the problem in the first place. We might have to consider that it isn't ISIS that's posing the greatest threat in the form of "the effort to eradicate the group."
American Sniper portrays Navy Seal Chris Kyle as a hero for killing a huge number of people, one by one, in Iraq. Right now, as the U.S. government is bombing Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and again — Iraq, and preparing to send additional troops to Iraq, this film is distorting many people’s memory of recent history and damaging heir understanding of basic morality.
By John Grant
We have to address the political grievances terrorists exploit.
-- Barack Obama