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Oct 04, 2011 - Iraqi law should not govern a lawsuit brought by the mother of a Pittsburgh-area soldier electrocuted in a barracks shower at an Army base in Iraq, a federal judge has ruled.
Lawyers for Houston-based military contractor KBR Inc. had asked U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer to apply Iraqi law to the ongoing lawsuit in the January 2008 death of Pittsburgh-area Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth. But Fischer agreed with lawyers for the soldier's parents who argued that United States law should hold sway because the base was under American control - and could provide for punitive damages and other advantages to the plaintiffs not recognized by Iraqi law.
This week marks the beginning of what is supposed to be the final 100 days of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. But if U.S. troops are to leave Iraq at the end of this year as promised – repeatedly – it will take grassroots pressure to counter the growing “occupy-Iraq-forever” chorus in Washington.
Despite the fact that there is a Bush-era agreement with the Iraqi government to leave, despite the fact that the majority of Iraqis and Americans don’t support a continued U.S. presence, and despite the fact that Congress is supposedly in an all-out austerity mode, strong forces – including generals, war profiteers and hawks in both parties – are pushing President Obama to violate the agreement negotiated by his predecessor and keep a significant number of troops in Iraq past the December 31, 2011 deadline.
It’s true there has already been a major withdrawal of U.S. troops, from a high of 170,000 in 2007 to about 45,000 troops today (with most of the troops being sent over to occupy Afghanistan instead). That number, however, doesn’t tell the whole picture. As the New York Times notes, “Even as the military reduces its troop strength in Iraq, the C.I.A. will continue to have a major presence in the country, as will security contractors working for the State Department,” the latter to defend a U.S. embassy that's bigger than the Vatican.
Back in 2007, candidate Obama pledged that the first thing he’d do as president would be to withdraw our troops from Iraq. “I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank,” the future president declared. So far, the only thing many Americans can take to the bank, however, is evidence their home was fraudulently foreclosed upon.
Green light on extension of US presence in Iraq is near, despite Iraqi Parliament and previous agreements
To comply with current law, the US has three months to completely withdraw from Iraq. But on Tuesday Iraq’s foreign minister said he believes there will soon be a final agreement on keeping thousands of US “trainers” in Iraq past the December deadline outlined in the Status of Forces Agreement.
“We’re looking for October for these talks to move forward,” Iraq’s foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari told Associated Press. The expected green light for a remaining American presence would be the culmination of months of heavy pressure on the Iraqi leadership from an insistent Obama administration.
“I think we will get an agreement on training,” Zebari said. ”How many trainers will remain in Iraq is not that important,” he said. “It’s the commitment that is very important.”
The Obama administration is considering 3,000 to 5,000 troops for an Iraqi training mission, but would it be implemented alongside an expanded diplomatic mission in Iraq, as well as a significant amount of military contractors.
At a minimum, the diplomatic and contractor presence would number over 17,000 and according to the most recent Quarterly Report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq, the Department of State “will assume primary responsibility for a planned $6.8 billion operation” carried out “from 11 locations around Iraq, including three consulates and the world’s largest embassy.”
The final decision is likely to be made by US and Iraqi officials, without the approval or consultation of the Iraqi Parliament, with some calling the Maliki government dictatorial. Shiite leaders in Iraq have vehemently rejected a US presence past December and the cleric Moqtadr al Sadr has promised to treat remaining troops as “invaders.”
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to urge you to honor our nation’s commitments and bring all of our troops home from Iraq by December 31, 2011.
In 2008 the U.S. and Iraqi governments entered into a Status of Forces Agreement requiring the complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of this year. As President you reaffirmed your commitment to this agreement in your speech at Camp Lejeune on February 27, 2009 declaring: “I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. We will complete this transition to Iraqi responsibility, and we will bring our troops home with the honor that they have earned.” Americans and Iraqis overwhelmingly support this plan.
We are deeply troubled by recent reports that indicate your Administration is making plans to leave thousands of U.S. troops deployed in Iraq indefinitely. We are also troubled by the extraordinary buildup of private military contractors and untold numbers of intelligence operatives in Iraq. This level of continued U.S. operations in Iraq is unsustainable and unwise particularly in light of the challenges facing our nation. Mr. President the future of Iraq depends upon the Iraqi people, not the U.S. military.
Mr. President, we have lost too many American lives and wasted too many American resources in Iraq. Now is the time to bring all of our brave men and women in uniform home, as promised.
American Friends Service Committee
Center for International Policy
Council for a Livable World
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Just Foreign Policy
Military Families Speak Out
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Peace Action West
The Shalom Center
United for Peace and Justice
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
U.S. Labor Against the War
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions
"How many PRT [Provincial Reconstruction Team] staff members does it take to screw in a light bulb? One to hire a contractor who fails to complete the job and two to write the press release in the dark."
A FOB is a Forward Operating Base, and the Fobbits who live in them have their own brand of sad SNAFU humor, enough to fill many volumes and constituting, in my opinion, the silver lining of our wars. The above bit is taken from Peter Van Buren's new book "We Meant Well." The author has been in the U.S. Foreign Service for 23 years, working in Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the U.K., Hong Kong, and -- from 2009 to 2010 -- in Iraq. The book is about Iraq.
Of the 70 who've signed this letter to the Super Congress there might be two or three I'd trust to fight for it as far as I could throw them, but it is an accomplishment these days to speak any bit of humane truth aloud. So read this letter and go forth and speak likewise.
Published: September 20
In arguing for a large force of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq after December [ “3,000 Isn’t Enough,” Sunday Opinions, Sept. 18], Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) claim, “Whether the United States has 3,000 troops or a larger force in Iraq will make no meaningful difference to our budgetary situation .” They also state that “no fewer than 10,000 and as many as 25,000 troops will be required .”
According to the Congressional Research Service, it currently costs an average of $802,000 to keep one U.S. soldier in Iraq for one year. At that rate, to keep 10,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq from 2012 to 2021 would cost $80 billion; to keep 25,000 soldiers there would cost $200 billion. This $200 billion represents one-sixth of the $1.2 trillion target of the debt reduction “supercommittee.” It is also more than the government would save over 10 years if it were to cut the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security and raise the Medicare retirement age to 67, as earlier discussed by President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner.
Robert Naiman, Washington
The writer is policy director for Just Foreign Policy.
By Michael Munk
By Charles M. Young
September 16, 2011 - The 9/11 industry harvested its biggest riches on September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the yet-to-be fully documented coordinated attacks on the United States of America which produced the era of awe and shock, bull-dozed all international norms, and initiated two great wars of the twenty-first century.
From Letters to the Editor in todays Wash Post: We should all thank former Bush administration adviser Meghan O’Sullivan for the honesty in her September 11 Outlook commentary, “We shouldn’t pull out of Iraq, for their sake and ours,” in which she argued that the “most compelling” reason for maintaining the U.S. occupation of Iraq is to secure that nation’s oil. (Read full article: http://tinyurl.com/3f9mypg) I am among millions of Americans who have argued for years that oil was at the heart of our war with Iraq, even though many of us were labeled conspiracy theorists for doing so — even within this very newspaper. While we Americans may love our oil, the public has never supported the idea that our soldiers should kill and die for it, that we should be invaders and occupiers to secure it and that we should spend hundreds of billions of tax dollars to go after it. Had this argument been so clearly made at the start of the war, few Americans would have supported the invasion of Iraq. We should now view Ms. O’Sullivan’s honest articulation that this is a war for oil as one of the best reasons yet offered to bring it to an immediate end. Antonia Juhasz, San Francisco The writer is a member of the National Advisory Committee of Iraq Veterans Against the War. www.washingtonpost.com/todays_paper?dt=2011-09-15&bk=A&pg=16
Bush White House Resistant to Rebuilding Afghanistan
Rumsfeld's War Aim: "Significantly Change the World's Political Map"
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 358
Posted - September 11, 2011
We are given figures in the multi multi billions spent on the wars of choice and the so called 'homeland security', but there are huge amounts, in the multi billions, not known or labeled top secret and blacked out in government reports on the rapid growth of intelligence within government and the added private contractors and the costs of that growth. As pointed out in the 'PBS Frontline' report, below, what has it accomplish over all these years, especially as to the main mission after 9/11 and finally getting bin Laden, found through intelligence of a small group and carried out by a small group of 'special forces'.
By Dave Lindorff
When you are the New York Times, or in this case, one of the only real liberal columnists working for the Times anymore, there are apparently some things you just cannot mention.
How else to explain how a seemingly intelligent economist like Paul Krugman can scorch the Republicans in Congress and President Obama for failing to deal with the crisis of joblessness and deepening economic collapse in the U.S., but never once mention the endless and pointless wars into which the country is pouring hundreds of billions of dollars a year?
By Matthew Schofield | McClatchy Newspapers
A U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.
The unclassified cable, which was posted on WikiLeaks' website last week, contained questions from a United Nations investigator about the incident, which had angered local Iraqi officials, who demanded some kind of action from their government. U.S. officials denied at the time that anything inappropriate had occurred.
By the DailyMirror
US forces had committed a heinous war crime during a house raid in Iraq in 2006, wherein one man, four women, four children, and one infant were summarily executed, a State Department diplomatic cable released last week by WikiLeaks revealed.
The cable excerpts a letter written by Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, addressed to then Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
American troops had approached the home of Faiz Harrat Al-Majma’ee, a farmer living in central Iraq, to conduct a house raid in search of insurgents in March 2006.
Except for "trainers" and except for mercenaries hired through the US State Department? Story here.
A day-long symposium in which historians, activists, current and former military personnel,
anthropologists, journalists, and filmmakers gather to examine the past, present, and future of the
doctrine that has officially guided the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2007.
John Allison Clinton Ancker Joaquin Chavez
Conrad Crane Lloyd Gardner Gian Gentile
Roberto Gonzalez Hannah Gurman Karl Hack
Ansley Hamid Bill Hartung M. Jamil Hanifi
Jeremy Kuzmarov Vina Lanzona Jean MacKenzie
Vince Rafael Rick Rowley Nick Turse
Dahlia Wasfi Marilyn Young
Organized by Gallatin Professor Hannah Gurman
The Jerry H. Labowitz Theatre for the Performing Arts
1 Washington Place
For more information go to www.nyu.edu/gallatin
Standard would reduce dangerous US oil dependence, save Americans billions at the pump
Depleted Uranium rounds are seen aboard the USS Missouri. (Image: Public Domain)
War and the Tragedy of the Commons, Part 5
By 2003, reports were surfacing of cancer clusters and birth disorders in conflict areas of the Balkans and Iraq, raising fears about human exposure to depleted uranium (DU) and its fate and transport in war environments. Gulf War Syndrome, a catchall for mysterious and disabling symptoms and conditions suffered by nearly 40 percent of 540,000 veterans of the three-week ground war (which killed fewer than 200 US soldiers), remained an unyielding conundrum. A colleague and I prepared a fact sheet on depleted uranium, given its first use in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and growing use by the United States and Britain in subsequent wars. We labored in a meager research environment and detected an unsettling complacency around the question of environmental health impacts of DU munitions.
Reason they were talking Saddam, before and Condi on the day of 9/11, in the weeks directly after and reason we left the mission in Afghanistan high and dry to fester and grow with recruitment from the devastation in Iraq an innocent country!!!
Troops lined up in formation, preparing to get on a plane bound for Iraq. (Photo: j. botter)
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: 'Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear -
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'
- Percy Bysshe Shelley
A pair of vitally important news reports were lost recently amid a blizzard of stories about the gyrating stock market and a rogue East Coast earthquake. The first came from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who announced that a deal had been struck to keep US forces in Iraq beyond the oft-publicized December 31st withdrawal deadline and into 2012, contrary to Mr. Obama's promises. Not long after, a spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki came forward to say hold on, wait a minute, nothing along these lines has been agreed upon as yet, and negotiations are still ongoing.
Got that? Negotiations are still ongoing, which in all likelihood means that, sometime before December 31st, a deal will be struck between Al-Maliki and the US to keep American forces right where they've been for the last three thousand days. In fact, Panetta let it be known that the Pentagon is already laying plans to do exactly that. Panetta made sure to draw a line between "combat forces," which he claims will be withdrawn, and "training forces," which appear poised to remain into the foreseeable future. This will come as a great comfort to the troops who will not be coming home, as insurgent leaders have made it clear that any American on Iraqi soil after the withdrawal deadline will live life with a bullseye taped to their back...but who won't live long, if the insurgents have anything to say about it.
by Debra Sweet, National Director of World Can't Wait Help get "Incident in New Baghdad" in the running for an Oscar.
By Democracy Now!
It was one year ago today that the Obama administration officially announced it was pulling the last full U.S. combat brigade from Iraq. Today, roughly 46,000 U.S. troops remain in the country, along with more than 64,000 private contractors. This week, as Iraq suffers its deadliest violence of the year, there is increasing speculation that the Obama administration will extend its occupation of the war-ravaged nation. We speak with Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi-American blogger and political analyst based in Washington, D.C., who was in Iraq two weeks ago. Watch/Listen/Read
If his or her name is not here, then you've got work to do over summer recess:
September 2011 - One morning in June 2001, three months before the 9/11 attacks on the United States, I happened to be interviewing a senior official from the British Secret Intelligence Service, M.I.6. His current focus was the war on drugs, not international terrorism, but he shared a piece of information that united the two subjects.
A short time earlier, the official told me, the U.S. National Security Agency had intercepted a call between two satellite-telephone users in Afghanistan—the al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. They had been discussing the Taliban’s ban on growing opium poppies, imposed the previous summer—a remarkably effective edict that had shrunk production in areas they controlled almost to zero.
Chevron among 41 OKd to bid in Iraq
Iraq's oil ministry has qualified Chevron Corp. and 40 other companies to participate in the next round of bidding for oil exploration blocks in the country.
A notice posted Monday on the ministry's website named the companies that had met all the qualification criteria to hunt for oil or natural gas in 12 areas, many of them in western provinces that have seen little oil-field development. Occidental Petroleum, based in Los Angeles, also made the cut.
The ministry is expected to award exploration contracts in January.