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Prompt medical care is at last on offer in Iraq, for those who can find the dollars for it.
"Why would I want to go to government-run hospitals where there is no care, no functioning instruments, long lines, and in the end the same doctor who treats you there can treat you at a private hospital," says Mohammed Abbas, 35, an employee at Iraq's Ministry of Oil.
Abbas, speaking at the private Saint Raphael Hospital in the Karrada area of Baghdad, wanted treatment on time, and was prepared to pay for it. Like him, many are coughing up money for private treatment. When they have money, that is, in an economy with more than 50 percent unemployment.
Leaked analysis condemns US for lack of co-operation • Senior officers' criticisms also cover Iraq campaign
By Peter Beaumont, The Guardian/UK
A highly critical analysis of the US-led coalition's counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan has raised serious questions about combat operations in both countries - and the intelligence underpinning them.
Based on scores of interviews with British, US, Canadian and Dutch military, intelligence and diplomatic officials - and marked for "official use only" - the book-length report is damning of a US military often unwilling to share intelligence among its military allies. It depicts commanders in the field being overwhelmed by information on hundreds of contradictory databases, and sometimes resistant to intelligence generated by its own agents in the CIA.
By Dal Lamagna
The United States may be leaving Iraq, but we should not be abandoning the Iraqi people. Particularly those who have put their lives on the line to rebuild their country in peace. Particularly someone like Mohammed al-Daini, a member of the Iraqi Parliament and critic of the Maliki government who disappeared recently under suspicious circumstances after being accused of terrorism by that government. I worked with al-Daini in 2006 and 2007; our goal was to reduce and stop the violence in Iraq. This is what I know:
Nearly 400 members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, were killed or injured by Turkish operations, Turkish military officials said Friday.
Military spokesman Gen. Metin Gurak said Turkish airstrikes and artillery fire against PKK targets in northern Iraq have caused "close to 375 casualties" since October.
The Turkish Parliament in 2008 approved a measure that extended permission for cross-border raids against PKK rebels. The U.S. and Iraqi militaries are cooperating with their Turkish counterparts to combat the group, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and several other nations, including Turkey.
Meanwhile, Ankara and Baghdad are in preparations to sign a deal for Turkish military support for the reconstruction of Iraqi forces, Turkey's Hurriyet reports.
UN General Assembly President, Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann on Wednesday urged the Human Rights Council to investigate "massive human rights violations" in Iraq.
The Nicaraguan diplomat describes Iraq as "a contemporary and on-going example of how the illegal use of force leads inexorably to human suffering and disregard for human rights."
He says "it sets a number of precedents that we cannot allow to stand."
If you are in agreement with this statement, please make a copy of it, sign it, and send it to the White House and your representatives in Congress. This is a critical time to weigh in. Putting this in the regular mail, as opposed to email, can give it more political weight. It is more effort, but it is worth it.
On February 27, 2009, President Barack Obama outlined “a new strategy to end the war in Iraq through a transition to full Iraqi responsibility.”
The Political Committee
The Republic of Iraq
Statement in Response to President Obama’s Remarks made on the 27th or February 2009 regarding the proclaimed ending to the occupation of The Republic of Iraq.
By Jane Burgermeister, RenewableEnergyWorld.com
Off-grid solar panels could soon be installed in Iraq in a push to supply electricity to people across the country, many of whom have no access to the national grid.
"They'll be able to go back to Baghdad and teach other colleagues how to build solar-powered street lamps and other systems. That way crucial know-how can spread quickly." -- Matthias Kaiser, Phaesun
Six thousand solar-powered street lamps already light up the streets of Baghdad, where electricity from conventional sources is available on average for only two hours a day as the country struggles to recover from years of war.
Thousands more solar street lamps have been ordered this year from the German off-grid specialist company Phaesun by the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity.
By Dave Lindorff
The dithering and ducking going on in the Obama White House and the Holder Justice Department over the crimes of the Bush administration are taking on a comic aspect.
On the one hand, we have President Obama assuring us that under his administration, there will be respect for the rule of law, and on the other hand we have this one-time constitutional law professor and his attorney general declaiming that there is no need for the appointment of a prosecutor to bring charges against the people in the last administration, in the CIA, in the National Security Agency and in the Defense Department and the military who clearly have broken the law in serious and felonious ways.
What gets silly is that America is either a nation of laws…or it isn’t. It is either a place where “nobody is above the law”…or it isn’t.
There is really no middle ground here.
This major November, 2008 RAND Corporation study on intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, conducted 300 interviews at all levels with US, UK and Dutch intelligence officers and diplomats.
The 318 page document could be described as part of the "Pentagon Papers" for Iraq and Afghanistan. It was confidentially prepared for the Pentagon's Joint Forces Command and focuses on intelligence and counterinsurgency operations.
The study's distribution was restricted to a select group of Coalition war partners and Israel.
It is a notable news and policy source, not for its arguments or conclusions, but rather for its wealth of candid and revealing interview quotes which are spread throughout the document, but especially in the 200 page appendix.
REVEALED: 'There was no Cabinet debate in run-up to war,' says Short as Government refuses to release minutes
"...the main reason for the ‘scandalous’ decision not to publish the minutes was not to protect confidential discussions about the war, but to cover up the fact there was no such discussion. At the last Cabinet meeting, no debate on the legality of the war was allowed and Tony Blair, then Prime Minister, said brusquely: ‘That’s it.’"
The Government is refusing to release minutes of Cabinet meetings before the Iraq War because they would reveal there was no discussion on the issue.
Details surrounding two crucial meetings on the eve of the conflict were laid bare for the first time yesterday when former Cabinet Minister Clare Short, who was present at both, gave a full account of what happened.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — Civilian deaths in Iraq shot back up again in February, figures compiled by an Interior Ministry official show.
January had set a record for the lowest number of Iraqi civilians killed since the U.S.-led invasion nearly six years ago.
At least 211 civilians were killed in February — about 7.5 per day, numbers from the Interior Ministry, Health Ministry and Defense Ministry show.
In January, 138 civilians were killed — just under 4.5 per day.
The deadliest single incident in February was a suicide bombing carried out by a woman on February 13 among a crowd of mostly women and children on the way to a religious festival. She killed at least 38 people and wounded at least 50.
Iraqi casualty figures have been steadily dropping since the fall of 2007.
Obama seeks $130 billion for wars next year
By ANNE GEARAN
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama proposed war spending Thursday that nears $11 billion a month for the next year and a half despite the planned drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq.
The Obama administration wants to spend about $75 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through next fall, costs that were largely set by the Bush administration. On top of that, the new budget proposal asks Congress for $130 billion for next year.
It's not clear whether Obama's promise to bring combat troops home from Iraq will carry a cost savings in the near term. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the budget for next year figures in new costs for Afghanistan, and he warned that the process of pulling out tens of thousands of forces from Iraq will be expensive.
Iraqi President Meets With Iranian Officials in Tehran
By Edward Yeranian | Voice of America
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is visiting Tehran, Friday to meet with top Iranian leaders.
President Talabani was greeted at the airport in Tehran by top Iranian officials, as he arrived in the early morning Friday for his second visit to the Iranian capital in just over two years. Mr. Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party has traditionally been close to Iran.
Mr. Talabani, arrived for a three-day visit on the return-leg of a trip to South Korea, with a high-level delegation of Iraqi officials from the ministries of trade, electricity and foreign affairs.
Al-Iraqia TV reports that Iran is offering $1 billion in aid and trade credits to Iraq, in addition to helping with its electricity grid and other infrastructure projects.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali Debbagh says Iraq is an ideal trading partner for Iran. He says that the Iraqi market is open and any country or company or business can export to us, since we rely on a free-market system, based on competition. And I think that Iran has many products that it can export to us, provided that they do not flood our markets, either, since we have our own national industries to think about.
In January, Dianne Feinstein replaced Jay Rockefeller as chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. And her first act as chair will be to coverup the Bush System of Torture. Joby Warrick of the Pentagon Post is the CIA's embedded spokesliar:
The officials described the planned inquiry as a "study" and stressed that it would not yield recommendations for possible legal proceedings.
Why not? Because the new CIA Director, Leon Panetta, wants to protect the torturers:
"I would not support, obviously, an investigation or a prosecution of those individuals" involved in the interrogation program, he said. "They did their job, they did it pursuant to the guidance that was provided them, whether you agreed or disagreed with it.
We can debate whether lower-level CIA torturers who "just followed orders" should be prosecuted. The United States emphatically rejected that defense for Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg. The fact that Dick Cheney's neo-Nazi lawyer, David Addington, instructed John Yoo to write flagrantly lawless (and hence criminal) memos "legalizing" torture does not change the moral and legal responsibility of CIA officials to refuse to follow orders to torture.
Santa Barbara Welcomes Author of "The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle Against America's Veterans" This Sunday
Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life at UCSB present:
Aaron Glantz, author of "How America Lost Iraq" discusses his new book:
“The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle against America's Veterans”
Sunday, 1 March / 3:00 p.m. / Free
Victoria Hall, 33 West Victoria Street, Santa Barbara
"The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle against America's Veterans" is the first book to systematically document the U.S. government's neglect of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Aaron Glantz, who reported extensively from Iraq during the first three years of this war and has been reporting on the plight of veterans ever since, offers a devastating indictment of the Bush administration for its blatant neglect of soldiers and its disingenuous reneging on their benefits.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who led the effort in the House of Representatives against the war in Iraq as far back as 2002, today made the following statement after President Obama announced that the combat mission in Iraq will end by August 31, 2010. The President also indicated that between 35-50,000 troops will remain in Iraq to advise and train Iraqi security forces and protect American civilian and military personal.
“I support President Obama for taking a step in the right direction in Iraq, but I do not think that his plan goes far enough. You cannot leave combat troops in a foreign country to conduct combat operations and call it the end of the war. You can’t be in and out at the same time.
The military assumes the Iraq "SOFA" will be renegotiated to go for 15-20 years. And why not?
These treaties truly are worthless, because they are created by a single individual without the consent of Congress or the American people.
We let Bush get away with that, while peace groups were afraid to say a word and Rep Lee could only find 6 cosponsors to challenge it because everybody supposed that anything the Senate approved would be worse. But worse than worthless does not exist.
What is to stop Obama or the presidents who come after him from instituting more worthless treaties in Afghanistan and other places without the consent of Congress?
And then extending them with new ones?
Maybe the peace movement should talk to native Americans about treaties sometime.
Obama seeks $205 billion for Iraq, Afghan wars
By Tabassum Zakaria and Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama requested about $205 billion in war funding through the end of fiscal 2010 on Thursday, as he sought to withdraw tens of thousands of troops from Iraq and boost forces fighting a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.
Obama's first budget proposal asked for $75.5 billion through September, which would bring total war spending to $141.4 billion for the current fiscal year. Obama also requested a slightly smaller $130 billion to fund the wars for fiscal year 2010, which starts on October 1.
Obama asked Congress to increase the Pentagon's regular budget to $533.7 billion next year -- up 4 percent, or $20.4 billion, from its spending plan for the current year, drawn up under the Bush administration.
A key fact about the recent history of Iraq is absolutely critical to the nascent debate about Afghanistan: there was more to the Iraq "surge" than sending additional troops, so if folks are going to justify sending more troops to Afghanistan on the grounds that sending more troops "worked" in Iraq, we should be talking about the other elements of US policy in Iraq that changed after November 2006, not just about more troops.
Senate Democratic Leaders Concerned About Obama’s Iraq Plan
By Kate Phillips | NY Times
Even before they are briefed at the White House late this afternoon, Senate Democratic leaders expressed concerns over reports that President Obama’s proposal to withdraw troops from Iraq over a 19-month timeline would leave a residual force there of as many as 50,000 troops.
At a news briefing a few minutes ago, Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader from Nevada, indicated that he would be conveying his concerns to the president about the reported troop levels that would remain once the withdrawal deadline is met in August 2010. Mr. Reid said:
President Obama is about to order the beginning of the end of the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq. Or is he?
President Barack Obama said directly that he would be announcing “a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.” As far as it goes, that sounds good. This is an indication that President Obama is largely keeping to his campaign promises, and that's a hopeful sign, reflecting the power of the anti-war consensus in this country.
If this plan were actually a first step towards the unequivocal goal of a complete end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, it would be better than good, it would be fabulous. But that would mean this withdrawal would be the first step towards a complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops, pulling out of all the 150,000+ U.S.-paid foreign mercenaries and contractors, closing all the U.S. military bases, and ending all U.S. efforts to control Iraqi oil.
So far that is not on Obama's agenda.
Officials: Pentagon OKs media photos of war dead
PAULINE JELINEK/AP News
Defense and congressional officials say news organizations will be allowed to photograph the homecomings of America's war dead under a new Pentagon policy.
The officials say Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided to allow photos of flag-draped caskets at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, if the families of casualties agree.
Gates planned to announce his decision later Thursday. The current ban was put in place by President George H.W. Bush.
Some critics have contended the government was trying to hide the human cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The government said Tuesday it would veto publication of minutes from ministerial discussions about the legality of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, immediately drawing accusations of a cover-up.
Anti-war campaigners believe the minutes may conceal damaging information about how then prime minister Tony Blair's government reached the decision to support the US-led invasion.
However, current Prime Minister Gordon Brown's administration fears publishing the minutes may hinder ministers' ability to speak freely at confidential weekly Cabinet meetings.
"Confidentiality serves to promote thorough decision-making," Justice Secretary Jack Straw told parliament's lower House of Commons.
"Disclosure of the Cabinet minutes in this case jeopardises that space for thought and debate at precisely the point where it has its greatest utility.
By Dave Lindorff
Barack Obama’s first address to Congress provided Americans with yet another example of competent speechmaking, and I suppose, given that we’ve just endured eight painful years of oratorical farce, being able to listen to your president without wincing is something.
The problem is that the way forward proposed by the president as laid out in this address was almost always half-hearted, wrong-headed or doomed.
Obama declared at the outset of his address that the economic crisis was the major issue confronting the country, and while one could argue that this crisis is merely a symptom of much bigger issues, like the nearly completed deindustrialization of the nation, the death grip of militarism, and the growing political power of corporations, one could also concede that there is an urgent need to deal with the deepening recession.
Release of Iraq war minutes vetoed
By Michael Savage, The Independent
Details of cabinet discussions held in the run-up to the Iraq war are to be kept secret after the Government decided to take the unprecedented step of vetoing their publication.
Campaigners had demanded to see the minutes of two meetings, on 13 and 17 March 2003, amid allegations that the Cabinet failed to discuss properly or challenge the decision to invade Iraq. The legality of the war was also discussed at the meetings.
The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, had ordered the release of the minutes, arguing that their publication was in the public interest. His decision was supported by an independent tribunal last month.
REFUGEES INTERNATIONAL LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN URGING OBAMA TO HELP IRAQI REFUGEE
Washington D.C. - As President Obama works to stabilize Iraq, he must be sure to comprehensively address the Iraqi refugee crisis. Five million Iraqis have been uprooted by conflict, forced to leave everything behind. They have sought refuge within Iraq, Syria, Jordan and other neighboring countries. They are running out of resources with little opportunity for employment; access to food, heath care, education and other essential services is extremely limited. The conditions for Iraqis to return home safely do not exist, and millions of Iraqi refugees are unlikely and unwilling to return to Iraq in the foreseeable future. The U.S. administration must lead international efforts to meet the long-term needs of displaced Iraqis. Failure to assist Iraqis will have dramatic impacts on security inside Iraq.