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By Dahr Jamail, www.truthout.org
If there is to be any degree of honesty in our communication, we must begin to acknowledge that the lexicon of words that describes the human condition is no longer universally applicable.
I am in Iraq after four years away.
Most Iraqis I talked with on the eve of the first provincial elections being held after 2005 told me “security is better.”
I myself was lulled into a false sense of security upon my arrival a week ago. Indeed, security is “better,” compared to my last trip here, when the number of attacks per month against the occupation forces and Iraqi collaborators used to be around 6,000. Today, we barely have one American soldier being killed every other day and only a score injured weekly. Casualties among Iraqi security forces are just ten times that number.
But yes, one could say security is better if one is clear that it is better in comparison not to downtown Houston but to Fallujah 2004.
By Dave Lindorff
If an article by Gareth Porter in run by InterPress is correct that CentCom Commander Gen. David Petraeus and Iraq Commander Gen. Ray Odierno, backed by a group of lower-ranking generals, are planning to mount a public campaign to try and undermine President Obama’s plan for a withdrawal from Iraq in 16 months, Obama needs to act fast and nip this dangerous act of insubordination in the bud.
When you stop to think about it, people measure how well their lives are going not by their absolute state of being but by their situation relative to their expectations. For example, a poor person in a developing country may be ecstatic about getting a pair of shoes for the first time; in contrast, a billionaire may commit suicide after he loses $100 million in a down market.
The same is true for nations. The American elite has enjoyed the United States’ dominant status in the world since World War II and became thoroughly drunk with U.S. superiority in the last two decades after the demise of the Soviet Union left the country as the only superpower. This elite is resistant to accepting the reality that a multipolar world will soon be at hand.
By Fadhel al-Badrani, Reuters
RAMADI, Iraq, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Tribal sheikhs who helped drive al Qaeda militants out of Western Iraq threatened on Monday to take up arms against the provincial government because of what they said was fraud in Saturday's provincial polls.
The election was the most peaceful in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein, but there has been tension in the west of the country between Sunni Arab groups, many of whom boycotted the last provincial ballot in 2005.
Anbar province, Iraq's vast western third, was once the heartland of the Sunni Arab insurgency against U.S. troops but is now largely quiet, thanks to tribal guard units known as Awakening councils that helped drive out al Qaeda militants.
In one of the toughest-fought contests of the election, the tribes have challenged the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), a Sunni religious party which has run the province since 2005.
By Norman Solomon
The United States began its war in Afghanistan 88 months ago. “The war on terror” has no sunset clause. As a perpetual emotion machine, it offers to avenge what can never heal and to fix grief that is irreparable.
For the crimes against humanity committed on Sept. 11, 2001, countless others are to follow, with huge conceits about technological “sophistication” and moral superiority. But if we scrape away the concrete of media truisms, we may reach substrata where some poets have dug.
W.H. Auden: “Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return.”
Stanley Kunitz: “In a murderous time / the heart breaks and breaks / and lives by breaking.”
Maliki Allies Ahead in Iraqi Election; Voters See Election of Maliki's Party as "Most Expedient Way to End the Occupation"
In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his allies look poised for a sweeping victory in provincial polls held Saturday. We speak to two independent journalists just back from Iraq, Rick Rowley and David Enders. Rowley said, "Many Iraqis saw this, the votes they were casting in this election, as a way to end the American occupation."
By Gareth Porter, IPS
WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (IPS) - CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus, supported by Defence Secretary Robert Gates, tried to convince President Barack Obama that he had to back down from his campaign pledge to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months at an Oval Office meeting Jan. 21.
But Obama informed Gates, Petraeus and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen that he wasn't convinced and that he wanted Gates and the military leaders to come back quickly with a detailed 16-month plan, according to two sources who have talked with participants in the meeting.
CO-SPONSOR H.RES. 72, EXPRESS DISAPPROVAL OF THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ
Current Co-sponsors: Filner, Grijalva, Jackson-Lee, Lewis (GA), Stark, Woolsey
I invite you to join me as a co-sponsor of H. Res. 72, a resolution I recently introduced disapproving of the U.S.-Iraq agreement regarding troop withdrawal reached in Baghdad on November 17, 2008. The purpose of the resolution is to provide a vehicle through which House members can register their support or opposition to an agreement that was never formally submitted to them for their consideration by the Bush Administration.
From Mark Crispin Miller
"The biggest complaint among potential voters was that their names were missing from therosters at polling stations." And yet, as usual, such bad news doesn't register: "In Washington, President Obama praised the election." So will he also praise our next election, regardless of how many thousands find their names missing from the voter rolls?
Calm Iraqi election marred as thousands were denied vote
By Leila Fadel | McClatchy Newspapers
BAGHDAD - Iraqis cast ballots in 14 of the country's 18 provinces Saturday, selecting among 14,500 candidates for 440 seats on new provincial councils.
The day was free of election-related violence, but thousands of Iraqis were unable to vote because their names were inexplicably missing from voter lists. Some confused Iraqis even wandered neighborhoods looking for a polling place that would accept their vote.
By Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service
BAGHDAD — After strong polling for the provincial elections Saturday, Iraqis are looking out for new signposts of political recovery from the U.S.-led invasion and occupation.
Polling picked up after a slow start Saturday in the 14 provinces of Iraq that are voting after the 2005 poll.
The four provinces that did not vote are in the Kurdish controlled north. Polls were not ordered here mostly due to the controversy over control of the oil- rich Kirkuk region. Kirkuk, along with Dahuk, Arbil and Sulaymaniyah will hold elections later.
The provincial elections were earlier scheduled for Oct. 1 last year, but were delayed due to disagreements over electoral procedures for Kirkuk, which is hotly contested between Sunni Arabs, Kurds, and Turkomens.
By Noah Shachtman, Wired
Iraq's government says it won't give Blackwater a license to operate in the country. So does that mean the firm's cadre of tattooed gunslingers will be gone from Iraq, forever? Not exactly.
Sure, Blackwater as a corporate entity probably won't be roaming the streets of Baghdad or Mosul for much longer. But the individual mercenaries who've been working for years in Iraq, serving as a Praetorian Guard for the State Department's diplomats — those guys likely will be able to stay.
Now why would the Pentagon hire someone who'd lied about Iraq-911 ties years after the lies were exposed?
The Shocking Human Cost of Iraq: About 1 million dead, 4.5 Million Displaced, 1-2 Million Widows, 5 Million Orphans
By John Tirman, www.TheNation.com
We are now able to estimate the number of Iraqis who have died in the war instigated by the Bush administration. Looking at the empirical evidence of Bush's war legacy will put his claims of victory in perspective. Of course, even by his standards -- "stability" -- the jury is out. Most independent analysts would say it's too soon to judge the political outcome. Nearly six years after the invasion, the country remains riven by sectarian politics and major unresolved issues, like the status of Kirkuk.
By Ray McGovern, www.consortiumnews.com
Editor’s Note: On Jan. 26, 2009, in Copenhagen, Denmark, former Danish military intelligence officer Frank Grevil was given the Sam Adams award for integrity in intelligence. The following is an extended version of the introductory remarks by former CIA intelligence analyst Ray McGovern:
Thank you, one and all, for coming this evening at such short notice and in such encouraging numbers. Our first order of business this evening is the presenting of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award to former Danish intelligence officer, Maj. Frank Grevil.
You each have a handout explaining who former CIA analyst Sam Adams was, and why we, his former colleagues, created this movement in his memory.
State Department To Blackwater: You're Fired, Leave Iraq by May
$1.2 Billion Contract Won't Be Renewed Following Iraqi Refusal to License U.S. Firm
By Brian Ross and Kirit Radia | ABCNews.com
Blackwater has been fired by the State Department from its job protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.
Executives of the controversial U.S. security company were notified today by the State Department that its five-year, $1.2 billion contract for services in Iraq will not be renewed in May, U.S. officials tell ABC News. The contract provides yearly options for cancellations.
In a statement, company spokesperson Anne Tyrrell said, "The company has always said that the security services we provide in Iraq would be temporary."
By Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service
FALLUJAH — The threat of violence hangs over Fallujah again as leaders of the Awakening Council fight for political power through the elections Jan. 31.
The Awakening Councils were set up and backed by the U.S. military to curb spiralling violence. According to the U.S. military, most of the members recruited were former resistance fighters. Over recent years, they grew to a strength of about 100,000 men, each paid 300 dollars a month.
U.S. aid to the Councils was cut off in October on the understanding that the members would be absorbed into Iraqi government forces. To date, less than a third have been given government jobs.
By DAVE GOLDINER, Daily News
A statue dedicated to the man who threw his shoes at President Bush has been erected in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown.
Many Iraqis considered it poetic justice when a journalist tossed his shoes at President George W. Bush last month.
Now the bizarre attack has spawned a real life work of art.
A sofa-sized statue of the shoe was unveiled Thursday in Tikrit, the hometown of the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Baghdad-based artist Laith al-Amari described the fiberglass-and-copper work as a tribute to the pride of the Iraqi people.
The statue is inscribed with a poem honoring Muntadhar al-Zeidi, the Iraqi journalist who stunned the world when he whipped off his loafers and hurled them at Bush during a press conference on Dec. 14.
U.S. Embassy's Preferred Contractor Accused of Killings
By Ernesto Londoño and Qais Mizher, Washington Post
MOSUL, Iraq, Jan. 28 -- The Iraqi government has informed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that it will not issue a new operating license to Blackwater Worldwide, the embassy's primary security company, which has come under scrutiny for allegedly using excessive force while protecting American diplomats, Iraqi and U.S. officials said Wednesday.
Iraq's Interior Ministry conveyed its decision to U.S. officials in Baghdad on Friday, in one of the boldest moves the government has made since the Jan. 1 implementation of a security agreement with the United States that sharply curbed American power in Iraq.
By Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service
BAGHDAD — Uncertainty and tension are running high in Baghdad ahead of the provincial election due Jan. 31. But this time fears are also touched by a new hope.
“Iraq is transitioning into something more stable,” former Iraqi interim prime minister Ayad Allawi told IPS. “The U.S. is pulling out soon because of the new administration, so Iraqis need to take matters into their own hands,” said Allawi, speaking at the headquarters of the Iraqi National Accord party in Baghdad.
Allawi, who was said to have provided “intelligence” about alleged weapons of mass destruction to the British MI6, is a former exile, and a controversial figure disliked by many in Iraq. Nevertheless, he speaks for many of the leading political figures running in the upcoming elections.
In the first reporting period on Obama's watch, US military occupation forces in Iraq suffered 20 combat casualties in the five days ending Jan. 27, 2009 as the official total rose to at least 70,710. The total includes 34,410 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 36,300 dead and medically evacuated (as of Jan 3, 2009) from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 100,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 30,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly traumatic brain injury (TBI) from explosions diagnosed only after they had left Iraq.**
I am beginning to wonder if the American public thinks former President Bush went ahead and brought home all 140,000 troops from Iraq as an inaugural gift for President Obama (you know, so Obama wouldn't have to trouble himself with it) or if they simply forgot we were still there. Then again, considering the precipitous drop in media coverage of the war in Iraq (the war in Afghanistan was always under-covered in my opinion), who knows what most Americans think is going on in Iraq now.
Iraq minutes 'must be released'
Ministers have been ordered to release minutes of the cabinet meetings which discussed the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The Information Tribunal upheld a decision that details of the March 13 and 17 sessions should be disclosed.
The sessions covered whether invasion was allowed under international law. Ministers failed to block the Freedom of Information bid to release minutes.
Downing Street said it was considering its response. The Lib Dems and Tories repeated calls for an Iraq war inquiry.
The Cabinet Office now has 28 days to decide whether to appeal to the High Court against the ruling.
Alternatively, the government could decide to veto the request under Section 53 of the Freedom of Information Act within 20 working days of the tribunal's ruling.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama has dispatched George Mitchell on his first trip as Middle East envoy. Mitchell is set to begin in Egypt today, followed by Israel, the occupied West Bank, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Speaking at the White House, Obama said Mitchell will be charged with bringing about “genuine progress.”
By Dave Lindorff
American foreign policy is moving from the absurd to the ludicrous.
Back in 2002, President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney managed to snooker the people of the United States, or at least a large number of us, into believing that Iraq, a pathetic Third World country ruled by a corrupt tin-pot dictator, was a grave danger to America, akin to Hitler and Nazi Germany in 1940. We learned how absurd that claim was when two hundred thousand American troops backed by the mightiest air force the world has ever seen, slammed into the country in March, 2003, and the Iraqi military simply folded up, and the Saddam regime along with it.
by Linda Milazzo
President Barack Obama of the Capitol of Washington, it is my most sincere honor to introduce you to Citizen Bob Alexander of the State of Washington, who by the standards you have set to 'give our all' has valiantly answered your call. In fact, Citizen Bob answered that call long before you were President. He seized his responsibilities gladly, not grudgingly, just as you asked at your inauguration. And now President Obama, Citizen Bob and millions more, would like you to hear THEIR call.
Before I tell you more about Citizen Bob, allow me to remind you of a few of the inspirational words you delivered at your inauguration. Here they are in a 31 second clip:
By Dave Lindorff
As someone who has spent nearly three frustrating years actively advocating the impeachment of President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for their many crimes and abuses of power, I have to admit that not only did it not happen, but that the likelihood of their being indicted and brought to trial now that they have left office is exceedingly slim.
Washington, DC – On the morning of the historic inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States , members of Military Families Speak Out are expressing hope that a new President might finally take the actions needed to bring the war in Iraq to an end. But families also have deep concerns about the incoming administration's stated intention of continuing that occupation by leaving tens of thousands of troops in Iraq indefinitely.
Larry and Judy Syverson, members of Military Families Speak Out from Richmond, VA will be attending the inauguration. Judy Syverson said: