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Krauthammer is right: The US Empire is in Decline

By Dave Lindorff


I was shocked to find myself in almost perfect agreement today with a recent column by the neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer. 


Usually Krauthammer has me groaning, but yesterday his column nailed it.


This Memorial Day, we honor all soldiers who:


  • Fought to protect corporate America’s $50,000,000.00 investment in Cuba during the Spanish-American War;

  • Died on foreign shores during World War I in what President Woodrow Wilson, who involved the U.S. in that war, later said  “…in its inception, was a commercial and industrial war;”

  • Sacrificed so much in World War II while U.S. companies, with U.S. government approval,  continually supplied the Axis powers with goods that U.S. citizens had to ration, including materials used to help kill Allied soldiers;

  • Suffered and died in Korea, to safeguard and ensure the expansion of U.S. trade throughout the region;

  • Endured the hell of  the Vietnam War to satisfy the egos of three presidents, and help ensure their elections and re-elections;

  • Fought in the heat of the Iraqi and Kuwaiti deserts to protect Western oil sources;

Hillary Clinton: Not the Democratic Savior.

           


            The media is awash with information about a potential presidential run by Hillary Clinton. She has the overwhelming support of Democrats, unparalleled name-recognition, and the assurance of more money for her campaign than either candidate had in the historically-expensive Obama-Romney match-up of 2012. Her credentials – mastermind of her husband’s comeback campaign for Governor of Arkansas, former first lady, former senator from a heavily populated state, presidential candidate, former Secretary of State – look very impressive, if one doesn’t look too closely. However, it is high time one did so.

TCBH! Review of Losing Tim: A Mother Unravels Her Military Son’s Suicide

By John Grant


I met Janet Burroway when I was a Vietnam veteran on the GI Bill at Florida State University and I signed up for a creative writing workshop she was just hired to teach. She was a worldly, published novelist seven years older than me. She had just left an oppressive husband, a Belgian, who was an important theater director in London where she’d been to parties with the likes of Samuel Beckett. I graduate in 1973, and in a turn of events that still amazes me, I asked her out and ended up living with her for a couple years. She had two beautiful boys, Tim, 9, and Toby, 6, who I grew to love.

Rep. Hurt Confuses Iraq and Afghanistan

Congressman Hurt just wrote below:

"I have unconditional support for our brave men and women serving America overseas, as well as for their families.  As our military commanders have said, we must remain steadfast in a clear strategy to defeat the insurgency and prevent Iraq from again becoming a safe-haven for international terrorists. I think that the withdrawal of our troops should be based on the conditions on the ground, not political agendas."

When WAS Iraq a safe-haven for international terrorists? 

What American men and women (as opposed to weapons) are now "serving" in Iraq?

Does the Congressman have Iraq and Afghanistan confused?

And should a government that can't keep all of its wars straight still be fighting them?

And should it hide its decision to engage in these murderous expeditions behind pretended concern for the young people sent to do the killing?

 
 

April 25, 2014

 

 

 

 

Dear Mr. Swanson:

 

Thank you for your recent communication concerning the United States' current involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I appreciate your taking the time to express your thoughts on this important matter.  I am grateful for the privilege of representing you and serving as a voice for the citizens of Virginia's Fifth District.  

 

I have unconditional support for our brave men and women serving America overseas, as well as for their families.  As our military commanders have said, we must remain steadfast in a clear strategy to defeat the insurgency and prevent Iraq from again becoming a safe-haven for international terrorists.  I think that the withdrawal of our troops should be based on the conditions on the ground, not political agendas. We must not embolden the terrorists who believe that free societies will cave under the pressure of their violent acts.  My highest priority is to safeguard our homeland.  Please be assured that I will continue to monitor the conditions on the ground and will keep your thoughts in mind as events in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to unfold.  

 

I hope you will stay connected to our office with updates on the latest news, legislation, and other useful information, by signing up for our e-newsletter on our website, hurt.house.gov.  Thank you again for your communication and please do not hesitate to contact our office with any future questions or comments.

 

 

 


Sincerely,

 

Robert Hurt
Member of Congress

 

 

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Syrian and Iraqi Kurds protest separation ditch

By Kathy Moorhead Thiessen, CPTnet

Streamers of blue, green, yellow and brown election pennants crisscrossed over the street and almost blocked out the sun. The symbols of the major parties in Iraqi Kurdistan for the 30 April election dominated the landscape.  However, on Tuesday, 15 April, new flags waved from hand-held flagpoles. Many Syrian Kurds who have fled their country because of the turmoil marched through the streets of Sulaimani.  They were crying out because the government of the region in which they have taken refuge has decided to create a dividing ditch.  The KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party) that governs the area of Iraqi Kurdistan bordering Syria has sent workers, bulldozers, and security guards to facilitate the digging. It claims that the seventeen-kilometers-long, three-meters-deep, and two-meters-wide ditch will prevent terrorists and smugglers from entering the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq.

However, the people of Rojava/Western/Syrian Kurdistan and their Iraqi Kurd supporters see the ditch differently.  One man CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan team spoke to said, “After WWI Britain drew lines that artificially separated the Kurds into four countries.  Now Kurds are dividing Kurds from Kurds with ditches.”

Opinions about what is happening on the border—who is responsible and why they are doing it fly fast and furious.  Kamal Chomani, an independent journalist in Iraqi Kurdistan told the team, “The root of this is that KDP wants to have power in Rojava and PYD (Democratic Union Party), the party in power there, won’t let them.  KDP have some small “puppet parties” in Rojava but they don't have much support. PYD don't accept the demands of KDP. So closing the border is a way to punish them and put pressure on them.”

The political parties deny these allegations against them.  But whatever the reason for the ditch, the ordinary people who have already experienced the trauma of war suffer the most. In the last week, there have also been several demonstrations on the Syrian side of the border, joined by men and women, old and young who are upset by the closing of the border.  Some people showed their desperation by trying to fill in the ditches.  They want to be able to go to Iraqi Kurdistan to work, have access to hospitals or to buy goods that are unavailable in Syria.  Now they are denied these opportunities by other Kurds.

Taking the low road to war: Washington and the Corporate Media are in Full Propaganda Mode on Ukraine

By Dave Lindorff


The lies, propaganda and rank hypocrisy emanating from Washington, and echoed by the US corporate media regarding events in Ukraine are stunning and would be laughable, but for the fact that they appear to be aimed at conditioning the US public for increasing confrontation with Russia – confrontation which could easily tip over the edge into direct military conflict, with consequences that are too dreadful to contemplate.


Admiral Dennis Blair: "We Sent Troops to Middle East...Because of Oil-Based Importance of Region"

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

At the just-completed U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing titled, "The Geopolitical Potential of the U.S. Energy Boom," Admiral Dennis Blair — former Director of National Intelligence, President and CEO of Institute for Defense Analyses and Commander in Chief of U.S. Pacific Command — admitted what's still considered conspiratorial to some.

Put tersely: the U.S. and allied forces launched the ongoing occupation in Iraq and occupy large swaths of the Middle East to secure the flow of oil to the U.S. and its global allies, explained Blair. 

Historic Hearing of Saleh v. Bush

In Saleh v. Bush, lead plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh alleges the Iraq War was a premeditated war against the Iraqi people, with the planning beginning in 1998. Click here to read more!

This case is a lawsuit against key members of the Bush Administration: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Powell and Rice.

“US War Crimes: The Continuing Deterioration of Women’s Rights in Iraq”:

From January 29, 2014, Haifa Zangana’s presentation to the European Parliament in Brussels, “US War Crimes: The Continuing Deterioration of Women’s Rights in Iraq”: “The regression in women’s situation is devastating.
 
I will focus on violence in the public sphere and how it became so prominent that women have been forced to give up hard earned rights, such as employment, freedom of movement, abolition of polygamy, and

Not funny, but it’s still hard not to laugh: How Can the US Accuse Russia of Violating International Law?

By Dave Lindorff


If you want to make moral or legal pronouncements, or to condemn bad behavior, you have to be a moral, law-abiding person yourself. It is laughable when we see someone like Rush Limbaugh criticizing drug addicts or a corrupt politician like former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) voting for more prisons, more cops, and tougher rules against appeals of sentences.


The same thing goes for nations.

A man of many convictions: The Shape-Shifting Secretary of State John Kerry

By Dave Lindorff

 

US Secretary of State John Kerry is a man of many convictions--many of them in open conflict with one another. 

Recall that back in 2004, while trying to unseat President George W. Bush, he famously told students at Marshall University who wanted to know his stand on the US invasion of Iraq, that he “actually did vote for” a bill funding the war “before I voted against it.”

Remembering the Amariyah Shelter Massacre in Iraq

Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the U.S. bombing of the Amariyah Shelter in Iraq. There is no indication that the U.S. government and military will ever repent for this unspeakable war crime. And it is likely few, if any religious leaders, will ever decry this mortal sin! But on this day the people of Amariyah and Iraq remember and continue to mourn and grieve, and still ask why? Jesus reminds his followers–then and now–of the command: "Thou shall not kill!" "Love one another." God forgive the U.S. for defying these divine commands. Let us pray that our nation will truly repent for this crime and for the crime of 20 years of U.S. warmaking in Iraq, which resulted in over several million Iraqi deaths from bombings and sanctions, social upheval and political instability for an entire society and a seemingly endless cycle of violence with no end in sight, and make reparations to all the victims.

The following was written by Art Laffin during his visit to the Amariyah Shelter in Iraq on Feb. 13, 1998, the 7th anniversary of the bombing. 


Amariyah

by Art Laffin

February 13, 1991, 4:00 a.m.
Over 1,000 Iraqis, mostly women and children still sleeping, take refuge from the terror of U.S. bombs at a shelter in Amariyah, just outside Baghdad.
For several days a surveillance plane had flown over the shelter. U.S. officials say they think Saddam Hussein is there. The U.S. military knows different. A decision is made in secret by President George Bush, Defense (War) Secretary Dick Cheney and General Colin Powell — bomb the shelter, massacre the innocents!
First one “smart” bomb is dropped to make an opening in the roof, killing scores of people. Then, through the opening, another bomb falls, reaching deep into the shelter basement, killing everyone in its path. In total, nearly a thousand Iraqis are murdered, women and children burned alive. No more than 17 survive. I see flesh still seared on a wall under the basement stairway. People, reduced to mere shadows, form a human silhouette on the stone wall.
A replay of Auschwitz, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Vietnam, El Salvador, Panama.
The crime, premeditated and barbarous.
The sin, mortal.
The perpetrators unrepentant!
Seven years later, eight peacemakers from the U.S. and the U.K. come to pay homage to the victims at this shelter,
turned inferno,
turned shrine.
Photos and drawings of the dead adorn the walls of the shelter.
We repent, we mourn, we witness
the ongoing nightmare of the survivors.
We eight do what we can –
to console the mourners,
offering love and solidarity to the Iraqi people, already crucified to a cross of economic sanctions.
We stand with the victims, the children, seeking to stay the death-dealing hand of the U.S. empire.

Slaughter of Civilians in Fallujah During Past Year Now Documented

I'd like to insert a joke about "freedom is on the march!" here but am too disgusted to do it. I just received a lengthy report from Dr. Muhamad Al-Darraji, President of CCER (Conservation Center of Environmental & Reserves), Fallujah City, Iraq (PDF, Doc). It documents the attacks of the past year on the people of Fallujah by the government of Iraq. The U.S. government has rushed weapons to the Iraqi government for this assault. A petition opposing further U.S. arms sales to the government that decades of U.S. violence left behind in Iraq is here.

The Plan for Iraq

By John Mesler   

As I've watched the events unfold in the mid-east over the past 24 years it has become alarmingly clear to me that we didn't invade Iraq in 2003 because we thought they had weapons of mass destruction. We lied. We knew they did NOT have them. Well, at least 6 or 7 "decision and policy makers" knew they didn't. I will explain this the best I can but we now know that mostly every other nation in the world (including the United Nations weapons investigative team which included Scott Ritter) knew it back then. But Still we invaded. The US, the UK, Saudi Arabia and Israel were in on the plan. The plan I'm speaking of is called the Plan for the New American Century (PNAC) and to understand exactly what it is I would suggest that you google General Wesley Clark's 9 minute speech in which he mentions 2 meetings he had in 2002 with a liaison from then Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld office. Generally speaking that plan (which was laid out in about 1997) called for the US to control 7 countries including Libya, Syria ,Iraq and Iran.

I believe that the architects of the plan (Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and others)  were so sure that the anti-Muslim, anti-Mid-east feelings among Americans brought on by media lies over the past 25 years would allow them to get away with almost anything.  If they created a big enough lie they could get the American people to "go along" with their plan.They had to act fast and they did. 9/11 served as the perfect "incentive" to begin their plan.I also believe that they had the perfect president to "sell" this plan to the people. I may be wrong but I believe President George W. Bush believed the lie. He simply doesn't have the intellect or talent to lie so convincingly to the American public. He was the perfect president at the perfect time for the real "evil doers", Cheney and company. In1953 when we were involved with over-throwing the democratically elected leader  of Iran, Mossadegh, it was easier to get away with the covert actions that our CIA carried out.The only surprise there was that it took 26 years for the Iranians to over-throw our puppet, the Shah of Iran and begin their own Islamic revolution.Today we have become much craftier .We use the corporate owned (and controlled) media to garner popular support. You may come to the same conclusion as to what's  really been going on in Iraq from 2003  to this day.I believe we attacked Iraq hoping that it would bring about exactly what is occurring there now.

Chaos.Rumsfeld had to know we wouldn't be "showered with flowers" from thankful Iraqi's, as he stated in 2003.Our plan, in my opinion, was to create more turmoil in the mid-east so we could "install" yet another puppet regime.We had to know that Maliki would do what-ever we asked and that he would need our help in doing so.I wont get into the complicated issues now of ideological analysis and the imperialist-capitalist nature of the use and its rulers neoconservatives, neo-liberals, and Zionists who plan these wars and stand behind them , all driven by greed. Or will I get into what is the comprador nature of Arab reaction such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia who place themselves willingly in the service of imperialism against the interest of their own people and of the Arab nation. 
The help I speak of  comes in the form of selling more weapons to Maliki's sectarian government and in return we get protection for the "green zone" (the largest area of it's kind in the world which is home to the US Embassy,private military contractors and major US consulting companies.It's size is 3.9 sq. miles) ,a guarantee of keeping the oil flowing to us from the worlds second largest oil reserve and Israel benefits by keeping these countries weak and in constant turmoil,thereby "distracted".In a way, what we've created in the mid-east is like a 5 ring circus. As all your attention is on one act you have little or no idea what's going on in the other 4 rings.

              

ABOLISHING WAR, RESURRECTING FALLUJAH

By Robert C. Koehler

Iraq vet Ross Caputi’s film opens with a fleeting synopsis of the American heartbreak — and the bandage we tape across it.

His documentary, Fear Not the Path of Truth, is about the U.S. devastation of Fallujah, in which he participated as part of Operation Phantom Fury in November 2004, but the first couple minutes give us an overview of his hometown, the “former industrial city” of Fitchburg, Mass.:

“But the factory jobs are long gone, so there’s really only two types of people that live here. They’re the people with good-paying jobs in Boston or Wooster who come out here to build big houses at relatively cheap prices. Everyone else gets by doing work on those houses, doing their lawns, putting additions on them, painting them.

“If there was a point of unity among all the racial and economic divisions in this little city, it had to be the troops. Everyone respected the troops.”

I was struck especially hard by this small moment because it encapsulates the lie of militarism where it is most invulnerable: at the humanity of the men and women who protect us, putting their lives on the line. When all else goes wrong, the troops remain sacred. In a broken economy, the troops are sacred. Militarism is the god we can manipulate.

And yet the moment to expel this lie from human society has never been riper. The trans-national cost of militarism is some $2 trillion a year, according to an ambitious new website called World Beyond War. The insanity of war not only squanders our resources, ravages the environment and slaughters the innocent, it perpetuates a global culture of violence, which is the very thing we honor our troops for protecting us from.

“Unless we want to risk catastrophic loss or even extinction, we must abolish war,” according to the site’s introductory statement. This puts it in the biggest context possible. We cannot settle for less.

“Every war brings with it both massive destruction and the risk of uncontrolled escalation. We are facing a world of greater weapons proliferation, resource shortages, environmental pressures, and the largest human population the earth has seen. In such a turbulent world, we must abolish sustained and coordinated militarized combat between groups (primarily governments) known as war, because its continuation puts all life on the planet at risk.”

And yet . . . the next war we enjoin will be fully funded and garner the support of most of the public. The current military budget keeps growing even as the country reels from the consequences of its most recent military rampages. The government continues to develop new generations of weapons to perfect and perpetuate its ability to eliminate all life on Earth in a context of almost complete acquiescence. The interests of continued war permeate the highest levels of political and economic power and control the mainstream media. How do war’s abolitionists stand a chance?

Ross Caputi, who came home a hero, begins to answer this question, or at least brings hope to those who ask it.

“It didn’t feel right to me, but I couldn’t put it into words,” he said. This was post-Phantom Fury, when he was back home, being applauded by his friends and by the media.

He’d been part of the most devastating carnage of the Iraq war. The city of Fallujah — “center of resistance” to the American occupation — was taught a big, bad lesson. Thousands were killed. The city was destroyed and, for good measure, saturated with depleted uranium dust, the equivalent of nuclear fallout. Yet the “we’re number one!” mentality was everywhere. A video game about the siege of Fallujah was in the works.

“Afterward it was rubble. The whole country said we were heroes, but it was a confusing experience. I decided I was not going to let Fallujah be a skeleton in my closet for the rest of my life.”

He told me: “I started to do a lot of reading. I was also drinking and doing drugs. Eventually the books won out.” These included Howard Zinn’s A Peoples History of the United States. “That was a game changer,” he said.

Caputi’s “confusion” over the devastation of Fallujah eventually turned into informed political activism. He joined with others to create a website called Justice for Fallujah and began spreading the word that the siege of the city was a war crime. A donation allowed him to makeFear Not the Path of Truth, his journey beyond the military mindset. One of the documentary’s appealing features is its honest inquiry into the psychology of war, beginning with his own manipulation.

“I struggle to even explain how something like Fallujah, so obviously wrong, seemed acceptable at the time,” he says to Kathleen Malley-Morrison, a psychology professor. “Even obvious things like kicking women and children out of their homes, forcing them to flee into the desert, then destroying their homes. I managed to believe what our command was telling us, that we were doing this for their own good. How is that possible?”

The question is an open wound, so utterly basic to war and its abolition. Malley-Morrison discusses the cognitive tricks that allow good people to behave inhumanely: dehumanizing the enemy, ignoring or minimizing the consequences of one’s actions.

Later Caputi asks another professor, Sohail Hashmi, about the differences between “insurgent,” “terrorist” and “jihadist” — terms the U.S. military used as casually interchangeable epithets for the enemy — and absorbs Hashmi’s discussion of the meaning of “jihad”: a Muslim’s struggle to be true to his faith and do the right thing.

The interviewees also include Noam Chomsky, who makes the point that the GIs, caught in the middle of the vortex of war, are far less to blame for their confusion over the wrong that was occurring than the politicians and editors at a comfortable remove from the hellish action, who also saw nothing wrong with the devastation of Fallujah.

At one point, Chomsky expresses wonderment that, on day one of Phantom Fury, the New York Times gleefully reported on the U.S. seizure of Fallujah General Hospital, deemed a “propaganda center” for the insurgents because it was reporting casualty figures. The paper even ran a photo on the front page of doctors and patients lying shackled on the floor of the hospital. How could they manage not to notice, Chomsky wanted to know, that this was a war crime in progress?

In February, Caputi’s documentary screens in Fitchburg. And the abolition movement takes another step forward.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

© 2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.

Petition for a hearing on the human rights impacts of U.S. wars

Iraqis and U.S. military veterans are coming together to hold the U.S. government accountable for the lasting effects of war and to demand the right to heal.

Read and sign petition.

Addicted to the fruit of a poisoned tree: Thanks to George Bush, Talks with Iran Make Sense

By John Grant


US military history from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan is too often a combination of destructive stumbling around followed by an effort to sustain and project forward the notion of US power and exceptionalism. To forge another narrative is very difficult.

John Pilger: 'We Have Been Misled'

Audio and transcript BBC Radio 4 Today, Jan. 2, 2014

January 05, 2014 "Information Clearing House - When I travelled in Iraq in the 1990s, the two principal Moslem groups, the Shia and Sunni, had their differences but they lived side by side, even intermarried and regarded themselves with pride as Iraqis. There was no Al Qaida, there were no jihadists. We blew all that to bits in 2003 with 'shock and awe'. And today Sunni and Shia are fighting each other right across the Middle East.

A majority said that fewer than 10,000 had been killed. Scientific studies report that up to a million Iraqi men, women and children died in an inferno lit by the British government and its ally in Washington. That's the equivalent of the genocide in Rwanda. And the carnage goes on. Relentlessly.

What this reveals is how we in Britain have been misled by those whose job is to keep the record straight. The American writer and academic Edward Herman calls this 'normalising the unthinkable'. He describes two types of victims in the world of news: 'worthy victims' and 'unworthy victims'. 'Worthy victims' are those who suffer at the hands of our enemies: the likes of Assad, Qadaffi, Saddam Hussein. 'Worthy victims' qualify for what we call 'humanitarian intervention'.

'Unworthy victims' are those who get in the way of our punitive might and that of the 'good dictators' we employ. Saddam Hussein was once a 'good dictator' but he got uppity and disobedient and was relegated to 'bad dictator'.

In Indonesia, General Suharto was a 'good dictator', regardless of his slaughter of perhaps a million people, aided by the governments of Britain and America. He also wiped out a third of the population of East Timor with the help of British fighter aircraft and British machine guns. Suharto was even welcomed to London by the Queen and when he died peacefully in his bed, he was lauded as enlightened, a moderniser, one of us. Unlike Saddam Hussein, he never got uppity.

When I travelled in Iraq in the 1990s, the two principal Moslem groups, the Shia and Sunni, had their differences but they lived side by side, even intermarried and regarded themselves with pride as Iraqis. There was no Al Qaida, there were no jihadists. We blew all that to bits in 2003 with 'shock and awe'. And today Sunni and Shia are fighting each other right across the Middle East.

This mass murder is being funded by the regime in Saudi Arabia which beheads people and discriminates against women. Most of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. In 2010, Wikileaks released a cable sent to US embassies by the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. She wrote this: "Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support for Al Qaeda, the Taliban, al Nusra and other terrorist groups... worldwide". And yet the Saudis are our valued allies. They're good dictators. The British royals visit them often. We sell them all the weapons they want.

I use the first person 'we' and 'our' in line with newsreaders and commentators who often say 'we', preferring not to distinguish between the criminal power of our governments and us, the public. We are all assumed to be part of a consensus: Tory and Labour, Obama's White House too. When Nelson Mandela died, the BBC went straight to David Cameron, then to Obama. Cameron who went to South Africa during Mandela's 25th year of imprisonment on a trip that was tantamount to support for the apartheid regime, and Obama who recently shed a tear in Mandela's cell on Robben Island - he who presides over the cages of Guantanamo.

What were they really mourning about Mandela? Clearly not his extraordinary will to resist an oppressive system whose depravity the US and British governments backed year after year. Rather they were grateful for the crucial role Mandela had played in quelling an uprising in black South Africa against the injustice of white political and economic power. This was surely the only reason he was released. Today the same ruthless economic power is apartheid in another form, making South Africa the most unequal society on earth. Some call this "reconciliation".

We all live in an information age - or so we tell each other as we caress our smart phones like rosary beads, heads down, checking, monitoring, tweeting. We're wired; we're on message; and the dominant theme of the message is ourselves. Identity is the zeitgeist. A lifetime ago in 'Brave New World', Aldous Huxley predicted this as the ultimate means of social control because it was voluntary, addictive and shrouded in illusions of personal freedom. Perhaps the truth is that we live not in an information age but a media age. Like the memory of Mandela, the media's wondrous technology has been hijacked. From the BBC to CNN, the echo chamber is vast.

In his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, Harold Pinter spoke about a "manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis." But, said Pinter, "it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."

Pinter was referring to the systematic crimes of the United States and to an undeclared censorship by omission - that is, leaving out crucial information that might help us make sense of the world.

Today liberal democracy is being replaced by a system in which people are accountable to a corporate state - not the other way round as it should be. In Britain, the parliamentary parties are devoted to the same doctrine of care for the rich and struggle for the poor. This denial of real democracy is an historic shift. It's why the courage of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange is such a threat to the powerful and unaccountable. And it's an object lesson for those of us who are meant to keep the record straight. The great reporter Claud Cockburn put it well: "Never believe anything until it's officially denied".

Imagine if the lies of governments had been properly challenged and exposed as they secretly prepared to invade Iraq - perhaps a million people would be alive today.

This is a transcript of John Pilger's contribution to a special edition of  BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme, on 2 January 2014, guest-edited by the artist and musician Polly Harvey.

2013: Another year of slaughter in Iraq claims the lives of at least 21 media professionals

By Dirk Adriaensens

In Iraq, at least 404 media professionals have been killed since the US invasion in 2003, among them 374 Iraqis, according to The BRussells Tribunal statistics. The impunity in Iraq is far worse than anywhere else in the world.



Dr. Yasser Salihee (here with his wife Dr. Raghad Wazzan) gave up his job at Yarmouk Hospital to become a journalist.

 

In memory of Dr Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for the news agency Knight Ridder, killed on 24 June 2005 by a single bullet of an American sniper as he approached a checkpoint that had been thrown up near his home in western Baghdad by US and Iraqi troops. Since May 2005, Dr. Salihee had been reporting on the similarities between the death squads used in El Salvador to obliterate their “insurgency” and the US military’s creation of the “Wolf Brigade” that had been unleashed to eliminate the Iraqi Resistance. Salihee had been gathering evidence that US-backed Iraqi Ministry of Interior forces had been carrying out extra-judicial killings. We believe that he was assassinated because he came too close to the truth. There is serious doubt that the shooting was “an accident”. Nevertheless, the Committee for The ‘Protection’ of Journalists (CPJ) has thrown Dr Yasser Salihee in the dungeons of history. He doesn’t figure in any of their death lists.

Impunity for killers of media professionals in Iraq

In Iraq, at least 404 media professionals have been killed since the US invasion in 2003, among them 374 Iraqis, according to The BRussells Tribunal statistics. The impunity in Iraq is far worse than anywhere else in the world. None of the journalist murders recorded in Iraq in the past decade has been solved. Not a single case of journalists' killings has been investigated to identify and punish the killers.

Hassan Shaaban, head of the Center for the Legal Protection of Journalists, told Human Rights Watch (HRW) that, "Terrorists are systematically targeting journalists," but that "the government is not protecting people."

The New York Times reported on 24 December 2013 that: “Security forces have found lists of journalists targeted for assassination during raids on militant hide-outs in Mosul, and many journalists have stopped reporting in the streets or attending news conferences.”

Maliki’s security forces are not interested in protecting the journalists on this dead list.

Maliki’s harassment of journalists

Human Rights Watch stated: “Journalists in Iraq face a double threat, from armed gangs gunning them down and prosecutors charging them, all because of what they write. The recent spate of assassinations of journalists has had a chilling effect on journalists, who risk being prosecuted by the very authorities that are supposed to protect them.”

HRW: “At the same time, Iraqi prosecutors have stepped up criminal prosecutions of journalists for defamation and have increased other harassment of journalists. Three journalists told Human Rights Watch in November that security forces arrested them and confiscated their equipment after they covered politically sensitive topics, such as poor security, corruption, and the government's inadequate response to the needs of people affected by flooding. Another journalist told Human Rights Watch that police arrested him on charges of defamation, a crime in Iraq's penal code, for an article accusing officials of corruption.”

“Since the start of protests in Iraq in February 2011 over widespread corruption and lack of services, journalists have faced escalating attacks and threats, including from members of the government's security forces.”

Iran, Israel and the United States

 

            It is a given that no elected Republican government official can agree with anything President Obama says or does. Whether or not this is due to genuine philosophical differences with the president, or, more simply, because he’s of African-American descent and therefore has no business being president, is a topic for another essay. Suffice it to say, not much is getting done in the nation’s capital these days.

            On the international stage, it appears that Mr. Obama has had considerably more success in negotiating with Iran than he has with the U.S. House of Representatives. He and several other nations involved in the negotiations have brokered a deal with Iran, wherein Iran will scale back its nuclear ambitions, and the west will scale back some of its sanctions.

Federal Court to Examine Illegality of War on Iraq

A federal court will hear argument next April from an Iraqi woman who claims the Iraq War was illegal under international law.

Plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, filed a complaint in March 2013 in San Francisco federal court alleging that the planning and waging of the Iraq War was a "crime of aggression" against Iraqi civilians, a legal theory used at the Nuremberg Trials to convict Nazi leaders for planning and waging wars in Europe during World War II.

Saleh served the complaint in June 2013 against six Bush-era officials, including George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. Her complaint seeks damages for herself as well as for other Iraqi civilian victims of the war.

Saleh alleges that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz openly planned the Iraq War beginning in 1998 through a neoconservative think-tank called "The Project for the New American Century." She further alleges that once in power, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz convinced other Bush officials to invade Iraq and to use 9/11 as an excuse to scare and mislead the American public into supporting a war.

President Obama's Department of Justice (DOJ) is representing the defendants and has filed court papers seeking to immunize them from civil proceedings, arguing that these former officials were acting within the scope of their employment in planning and waging the Iraq War. The Obama DOJ has also argued that Saleh's lawsuit is a political question and should be dismissed.

"This is the first time that a court will examine arguments that the Iraq War was illegal under international law," chief counsel Inder Comar of Comar Law said. "We will ask the court to recognize the Nuremberg judgment as binding precedent against these six defendants, and to reject the Obama DOJ argument that Bush-era officials were acting within the scope of their employment when they publicly planned the Iraq War prior to entering office."

In 1946, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg ruled that planning and waging a war of aggression is the "supreme international crime" and convicted Nazi leaders of engaging in premeditated wars that violated international law. Several Nazi leaders were sentenced to death for committing the crime of aggression and other war crimes.

The case is Saleh v. Bush (N.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2013, No. C 13 1124 JST). Oral argument is set for hearing on April 3, 2014, 2:00 p.m., in the Northern District of California, San Francisco division.  Updates, including court documents, can be found at http://witnessiraq.com.

Contact:
Press at Comar Law
press@comarlaw.com

COMAR LAW

901 Mission Street, Suite 105
San Francisco, California 94103

Twittered Out: Washington Does Not Like Snarky

By John Grant


To: Jofi Joseph, Washington DC

Dear Mr Joseph:

I read of your firing as a national security adviser in the White House thanks to your “snarky” tweeting about various White House officials above you in the pecking order.

NY Times Still Claiming Nobody Knew Iraq Had No Weapons

From Peter Hart at FAIR:

Bolton's twice-repeated allusion to conspiracy theories is really interesting. The way I read it,  he would seem to be saying that only a nut would have claimed that Iraq had destroyed its chemical weapons stockpiles before the US-led war.  It's a key talking point for the Iraq War's architects and supporters: We only said what every other sensible person was saying. The Times lets it pass, which is unfortunate, because if that's indeed what Bolton was referring to, it's false.

If you look at FAIR's Iraq and the Media timeline, for instance, and you'll see that former weapons inspector Scott Ritter had written a column for the Baltimore Sun (9/1/02) where he argued:

From 1991 to 1998, UN weapons inspectors, among whom I played an integral part, were able to verifiably ascertain a 90 percent to 95 percent level of disarmament inside Iraq. This included all of the production facilities involved with WMD, together with their associated production equipment and the great majority of what was produced by these facilities.

 A few days later, Jonathan Landay of Knight-Ridder (9/6/02) reported that

there is no new intelligence that indicates the Iraqis have made significant advances in their nuclear, biological or chemical weapons programs, said a US intelligence official who argues that Cheney's and Rumsfeld's focus on Iraq is hurting the hunt for Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

And one of the most explosive revelations was Newsweek's scoop (2/24/03) that the star witness in the case against Saddam Hussein actually told the inspectors that the weapons had been destroyed. Hussein Kamel, a son-in-law of Hussein's, had been debriefed in 1995, and claimed that "all weapons–biological, chemical, missile, nuclear, were destroyed."

Guilty

By Ethan McCord

It's not me that pulled the trigger it's you,
I may have been the actions, but you're as guilty too,
I didn't go to Iraq on my own, I was sent by the American mass,
Shook my hand told to me to kill, and patted me on the ass,
Now I'll carry the pain, it's my weight to bear,
As you laugh with your family, and act with no care,
When our paths do cross you thank me and ask me stupid things,
Like "how many kills! Was it hot?! and if I have bad dreams"
I only smile at your ignorance , as you ask my name and was killing cool,
I reply, "I'm your fucking complacency, I'm what you created, now who the fuck are you?"



Hearts and minds
By Ethan McCord

We're here providing democracy, can't you tell by my gun
We'll kill , I mean free everything breathing, every , daughter and son
We'll show them who's in control, we'll use all of our might
Well pull the men from their children, and stomp their faces at night
They'll wish they had Saddam and his fedayeen thugs
while we piss on their bodies, and shit on their prayer rugs
This is your freedom, what you wanted all this time
Here's your children's future ...2 in the heart... 1 in the mind

New Study Estimates a Half Million Dead from Iraq's "Liberation"

Mortality in Iraq Associated with the 2003–2011 War and Occupation: Findings from a National Cluster Sample Survey by the University Collaborative Iraq Mortality Study

Abstract

Background

Previous estimates of mortality in Iraq attributable to the 2003 invasion have been heterogeneous and controversial, and none were produced after 2006. The purpose of this research was to estimate direct and indirect deaths attributable to the war in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.

Methods and Findings

We conducted a survey of 2,000 randomly selected households throughout Iraq, using a two-stage cluster sampling method to ensure the sample of households was nationally representative. We asked every household head about births and deaths since 2001, and all household adults about mortality among their siblings. We used secondary data sources to correct for out-migration. From March 1, 2003, to June 30, 2011, the crude death rate in Iraq was 4.55 per 1,000 person-years (95% uncertainty interval 3.74–5.27), more than 0.5 times higher than the death rate during the 26-mo period preceding the war, resulting in approximately 405,000 (95% uncertainty interval 48,000–751,000) excess deaths attributable to the conflict. Among adults, the risk of death rose 0.7 times higher for women and 2.9 times higher for men between the pre-war period (January 1, 2001, to February 28, 2003) and the peak of the war (2005–2006). We estimate that more than 60% of excess deaths were directly attributable to violence, with the rest associated with the collapse of infrastructure and other indirect, but war-related, causes. We used secondary sources to estimate rates of death among emigrants. Those estimates suggest we missed at least 55,000 deaths that would have been reported by households had the households remained behind in Iraq, but which instead had migrated away. Only 24 households refused to participate in the study. An additional five households were not interviewed because of hostile or threatening behavior, for a 98.55% response rate. The reliance on outdated census data and the long recall period required of participants are limitations of our study.

Conclusions

Beyond expected rates, most mortality increases in Iraq can be attributed to direct violence, but about a third are attributable to indirect causes (such as from failures of health, sanitation, transportation, communication, and other systems). Approximately a half million deaths in Iraq could be attributable to the war.

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001533

Israel, Palestine and Iran It's Time To Feed the Hungry Peace Wolves

By John Grant

 


All we are saying is give peace a chance
        - John Lennon
 

Whether war or cooperation is the more dominant trait of humanity is one of the oldest questions in human discourse. There are no satisfying answers for either side exclusively, which seems to suggest the answer is in the eternal nature of the debate itself.

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