Archive for the ‘Department of Defense’ Category
Remember: They Are Liars
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Columnist
Tuesday 08 April 2008
No one is such a liar as the indignant man.
– Friedrich Nietzsche
George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleezza Rice, along with a slew of administration underlings and a revolving-door cavalcade of brass hats from the Pentagon, have been making claims regarding Iraq for many years now.
They claimed Iraq was in possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, “enough to kill several million people,” according to a page on the White House web site titled Disarm Saddam Hussein.
They claimed Iraq was in possession of 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin.
They claimed Iraq was in possession of 500 tons, which equals 1,000,000 pounds, of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.
They claimed Iraq was in possession of nearly 30,000 munitions capable of delivering these agents.
They claimed Iraq was in possession of several mobile biological weapons labs.
They claimed Iraq was operating an “advanced” nuclear weapons program.
They claimed Iraq had been seeking “significant quantities” of uranium from Africa for use in this “advanced” nuclear weapons program.
They claimed Iraq attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes “suitable for nuclear weapons.”
They claimed America needed to invade, overthrow and occupy Iraq in order to remove this menace from our world. “It would take just one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country,” went the White House line, “to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.”
“Simply stated,” said Dick Cheney in August of 2002, “there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.”
“Right now,” said George W. Bush in September of 2002, “Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of nuclear weapons.”
“We know for a fact,” said White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer in January of 2003, “that there are weapons there.”
“We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction,” said Colin Powell in February of 2003, “is determined to make more.”
“We know where they are,” said Donald Rumsfeld in March of 2003. “They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad, and east, south, west and north somewhat.”
“The Iraqi people understand what this crisis is about,” said Paul Wolfowitz in March of 2003. “Like the people of France in the 1940s, they view us as their hoped-for liberator.”
“No one ever said that we knew precisely where all of these agents were,” said Condoleezza Rice in June of 2003, “where they were stored.”
“I have absolute confidence that there are weapons of mass destruction inside this country,” said Gen. Tommy Franks in April of 2003. “Whether we will turn out, at the end of the day, to find them in one of the 2,000 or 3,000 sites we already know about or whether contact with one of these officials who we may come in contact with will tell us, ‘Oh, well, there’s actually another site,’ and we’ll find it there, I’m not sure.”
“Before the war,” said Gen. Michael Hagee in May of 2003, “there’s no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical. I expected them to be found. I still expect them to be found.”
“Given time,” said Gen. Richard Myers in May of 2003, “given the number of prisoners now that we’re interrogating, I’m confident that we’re going to find weapons of mass destruction.”
“Do I think we’re going to find something? Yeah, I kind of do,” said Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton in May of 2003, “because I think there’s a lot of information out there.”
Gen. David Petraeus, commander of US forces in Iraq, is about to give testimony before the Senate regarding the current state of affairs in that battle-savaged country. He is a political general, one of many America has seen and heard over the last five years, one who would leap nude from the Capitol dome before telling the real truth about matters in Iraq … or who would speak using words fed to him by liars, and thus be wrong.
Remember: they lie. They all lie, from the top man down to the bottom. If their lips are moving, a lie is unfolding. If they say water is wet, get into the shower to make sure.
End of file.
Please take the time to watch these videos – it’s what’s necessary for all of this to change.
(CBS) Last month, a government report revealed the U.S. military could not account for 190,000 — or 30 percent — of all weapons issued to Iraqi Security Forces between June 2004 and December 2005.
Thursday, Pentagon officials said $88 billion in spending in Iraq and Afghanistan is now under audit by the Department of Defense for fraud.
Now, in his exclusive report CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian has learned some of those missing weapons have ended up in the worst possible hands.
CBS News has learned that the CIA has photographic evidence that Austrian-made Glocks intended for Iraqi security forces and paid for by U.S. taxpayers are now in the hands of Iraqi insurgents — in numbers that the intelligence community believes are in the thousands.
According to an intelligence source, the U.S. contractor in charge of the Glocks somehow lost track of an entire shipment. That mysterious disappeance is now part of a massive military bribery investigation centered around a contracting office run out of a small trailer at a military base in Kuwait. Eighteen federal investigators are digging into the actions of dozens of high-ranking U.S officers and military contractors.
Thursday, at a House Armed Services Committee hearing, lawmakers took aim at what the chairman called “a culture of corruption” surrounding billions in Iraq war contracts, but stopped short of publicly saying where some of the weapons wound up.
“The number of folks who have enormous responsibilty to this country are involved has, I think, made this a real tragedy for our country,” says Duncan Hunter, the committee’s ranking member.
After the hearing, Keteyian confronted Army Lt. General Ross Thompson, who admitted the Inspector General at the Defense of Department is looking at the CIA’s evidence.
“We are going to report tonight that thousands of Glock pistols intended for Iraq security forces instead ended up in the hands of insurgents,” says Keteyian. “What is your reaction to that?”
“I don’t know that for a fact,” Thompson says. “It is something that is being investigated by the DOD IG right now and that’s something that is not within my responsibility or my area of expertise to comment on, but it is being actively investigated.”
As Congress prepares to send another $2 billion to the Iraq security forces, Dept. of Defense officials testified they are working to find better ways to maintain appropriate accountability and control over military material.
It’s small comfort to American soldiers in Iraq who may now be staring down the barrel of guns paid for by the U.S. government.
By BASSEM MROUE
BAGHDAD (AP) – The Iraqi government said Monday that it was revoking the license of an American security firm accused of involvement in the deaths of eight civilians in a firefight that followed a car bomb explosion near a State Department motorcade.
The Interior Ministry said it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force in the Sunday shooting. It was latest accusation against the U.S.-contracted firms that operate with little or no supervision and are widely disliked by Iraqis who resent their speeding motorcades and forceful behavior.
Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight civilians were killed and 13 were wounded when contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad.
“We have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory. We will also refer those involved to Iraqi judicial authorities,” Khalaf said.
The spokesman said witness reports pointed to Blackwater involvement but said the shooting was still under investigation. It was not immediately clear if the measure against Blackwater was intended to be temporary or permanent.
Blackwater, based in Moyock, N.C., provides security for many U.S. civilian operations in the country.
Phone messages left early Monday at the company’s office in North Carolina and with a spokeswoman were not immediately returned.
The U.S. Embassy said a State Department motorcade came under small-arms fire that disabled one of the vehicles, which had to be towed from the scene near Nisoor Square in the Mansour district.
“There was a convoy of State Department personnel and a car bomb went off in proximity to them and there was an exchange of fire as the personnel were returning to the International Zone,” embassy spokesman Johann Schmonsees said, referring to the heavily fortified U.S.-protected area in central Baghdad also known as the Green Zone.
Officials provided no information about Iraqi casualties but said no State Department personnel were wounded or killed.
The embassy also refused to answer any questions on Blackwater’s status or legal issues, saying it was seeking clarification on the issue as part of the investigation, which was being carried out by the State Department’s diplomatic security service and law enforcement officials working with the Iraqi government and the U.S. military.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki late Sunday condemned the shooting by a “foreign security company” and called it a “crime.”
The decision to pull the license was likely to face a challenge, as it would be a major blow to a company that was at the forefront of one of the main turning points in the war.
The 2004 battle of Fallujah – an unsuccessful military assault in which an estimated 27 U.S. Marines were killed, along with an unknown number of civilians – was retaliation for the killing, maiming and burning of four Blackwater guards in that city by a mob of insurgents.
Tens of thousands of foreign private security contractors work in Iraq – some with automatic weapons, body armor, helicopters and bulletproof vehicles – to provide protection for Westerners and dignitaries in Iraq as the country has plummeted toward anarchy and civil war.
Monday’s action against Blackwater was likely to give the unpopular government a boost, given Iraqis’ dislike of the contractors.
Many of the contractors have been accused of indiscriminately firing at American and Iraqi troops, and of shooting to death an unknown number of Iraqi citizens who got too close to their heavily armed convoys, but none has faced charges or prosecution.
“There have been so many innocent people they’ve killed over there, and they just keep doing it,” said Katy Helvenston, the mother of late Blackwater contractor Steve Helvenston, who died in 2004 during the ambush in Fallujah. “They have just a callous disregard for life.”
Helvenston is now part of a lawsuit that accuses Blackwater of cutting corners that ultimately led to the death of her son and three others.
The question of whether they could face prosecution is legally murky. Unlike soldiers, the contrators are not bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Under a special provision secured by American-occupying forces, they are exempt from prosecution by Iraqis for crimes committed there.
Khalaf, however, denied that the exemption applied to private security companies.
Iraqi police said the contractors were in a convoy of six sport utility vehicles and left after the shooting.
“We saw a convoy of SUVs passing in the street nearby. One minute later, we heard the sound of a bomb explosion followed by gunfire that lasted for 20 minutes between gunmen and the convoy people who were foreigners and dressed in civilian clothes. Everybody in the street started to flee immediately,” said Hussein Abdul-Abbas, who owns a mobile phone store in the area.
The wartime numbers of private guards are unprecedented – as are their duties, many of which have traditionally been done by soldiers. They protect U.S. military operations and diplomats and have guarded high-ranking officials including Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Baghdad.
They also protect journalists, visiting foreign officials and thousands of construction projects.
Blackwater has an estimated 1,000 employees in Iraq, and at least $800 million in government contracts. It is one of the most high-profile security firms in Iraq, with its fleet of “Little Bird” helicopters and armed door gunners swarming Baghdad and beyond.
The secretive company, run by a former Navy SEAL, is based at a massive, swampland complex. Until the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, it had few security contracts.
Since then, Blackwater profits have soared. And it has become the focus of numerous controversies in Iraq, including the May 30 shooting death of an Iraqi deemed to be driving too close to a Blackwater security detail.
In violence Monday, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car near a busy market in Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 10 in an attack that apparently targeted a police patrol, said a police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to release the information.
Hamid Ghassan, a 20-year-old juice vendor, who described hearing the blast, said he was dismayed that al-Maliki’s government is “sitting safe, making agreements and lying to people while masses … are being killed.”
From The Guardian
Google “Blackwater” for some interesting information.
By Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret., National Commander, The Patriots
Dear Comrades in Arms,
You are facing challenges in 2007 that we of previous generations never dreamed of. I’m just an old fighter pilot (101 combat missions in Vietnam , F-4 Phantom, Phu Cat, 1969-1970) who’s now a disabled veteran with terminal cancer from Agent Orange. Our mailing list (over 22,000) includes veterans from all branches of the service, all political parties, and all parts of the political spectrum. We are Republicans and Democrats, Greens and Libertarians, Constitutionists and Reformers, and a good many Independents. What unites us is our desire for a government that (1) follows the Constitution, (2) honors the truth, and (3) serves the people.
We see our government going down the wrong path, all too often ignoring military advice, and heading us toward great danger. And we look to you who still serve as the best hope for protecting our nation from disaster.
We see the current Iraq War as having been unnecessary, entered into under false pretenses, and horribly mismanaged by the civilian authorities. Thousands of our brave troops have been needlessly sacrificed in a futile attempt at occupation of a hostile land. Many more thousands have suffered wounds which will change their lives forever. Tens of thousands have severe psychological problems because of what they have seen and what they have done. Potentially hundreds of thousands could be poisoned by depleted uranium, with symptoms appearing years later, just as happened to us exposed to Agent Orange. The military services are depleted and demoralized. The VA system is under-funded and overwhelmed. The National Guard and Reserves have been subjected to tour after tour, disrupting lives for even the lucky ones who return intact. Jobs have been lost, marriages have been destroyed, homes have been foreclosed, and children have been estranged. And for what? We have lost allies, made new enemies, and created thousands of new terrorists, further endangering the American people.
But you know all this. I’m sure you also see the enormous danger in a possible attack on Iran , possibly with nuclear weapons. Such an event, seriously contemplated by the Cheney faction of the Bush administration, would make enemies of Russia and China and turn us into the number one rogue nation on earth. The effect on our long-term national security would be devastating.
Some of us had hoped that the new Democratic Congress would end the occupation of Iraq and take firm steps to prevent an attack on Iran , perhaps by impeaching Bush and Cheney. These hopes have been dashed. The lily-livered Democrats have caved in, turning their backs on those few (like Congressman Jack Murtha) who understand the situation. Many of us have personally walked the halls of Congress, to no avail.
This is where you come in.
We know that many of you share our concern and our determination to protect our republic from an arrogant, out-of-control, imperial presidency and a compliant, namby-pamby Congress (both of which are unduly influenced by the oil companies and other big-money interests). We know that you (like us) wouldn’t have pursued a military career unless you were idealistic and devoted to our nation and its people. (None of us do it for the pay and working conditions!) But we also recognize that you may not see how you can influence these events. We in the military have always had a historic subservience to civilian authority.
Perhaps I can help with whatever wisdom I’ve gathered from age (I retired in 1978, so I am ancient indeed).
Our oath of office is to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Might I suggest that this includes a rogue president and vice-president? Certainly we are bound to carry out the legal orders of our superiors. But the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) which binds all of us enshrines the Nuremberg Principles which this country established after World War II (which you are too young to remember). One of those Nuremberg Principles says that we in the military have not only the right, but also the DUTY to refuse an illegal order. It was on this basis that we executed Nazi officers who were “only carrying out their orders.”
The Constitution which we are sworn to uphold says that treaties entered into by the United States are the “highest law of the land,” equivalent to the Constitution itself. Accordingly, we in the military are sworn to uphold treaty law, including the United Nations charter and the Geneva Convention.
Based on the above, I contend that should some civilian order you to initiate a nuclear attack on Iran (for example), you are duty-bound to refuse that order. I might also suggest that you should consider whether the circumstances demand that you arrest whoever gave the order as a war criminal.
I know for a fact that in recent history (once under Nixon and once under Reagan), the military nuclear chain of command in the White House discussed these things and were prepared to refuse an order to “nuke Russia .” In effect they took the (non-existent) “button” out of the hands of the President.. We were thus never quite as close to World War III as many feared, no matter how irrational any president might have become. They determined that the proper response to any such order was, “Why, sir?” Unless there was (in their words) a “damn good answer,” nothing was going to happen.
I suggest that if you in this generation have not had such a discussion, perhaps it is time you do. In hindsight, it’s too bad such a discussion did not take place prior to the preemptive “shock and awe” attack on Baghdad . Many of us at the time spoke out vehemently that such an attack would be an impeachable offense, a war crime against the people of Iraq , and treason against the United States of America . But our voices were drowned out and never reached the ears of the generals in 2003. I now regret that I never sent a letter such as this at that time, but depended on the corporate media to carry my message. I must not make that mistake again.
Also in hindsight, President Bush could be court-martialed for abuse of power as Commander-in-Chief. Vice President Cheney could probably be court-martialed for his performance as Acting Commander-in-Chief in the White House bunker the morning of September 11, 2001 .
We in the U.S. military would never consider a military coup, removing an elected president and installing one of our own. But following our oath of office, obeying the Nuremberg Principles, and preventing a rogue president from committing a war crime is not a military coup. If it requires the detention of executive branch officials, we will not impose a military dictatorship. We will let the Constitutional succession take place. This is what we are sworn to. This is protecting the Constitution, our highest obligation. In 2007, this is what is meant by “Duty, Honor, Country.”
Thank you all for your service to this nation. May God bless America , and sustain us in this difficult time. And thanks for listening to the musings of an old junior officer.
Robert M. Bowman, PhD, Lt. Col., USAF, ret.
Read this or George W. Bush will be president the rest of your life
September 11, 2007
by William Blum
The world is very weary of all this and wants to laugh again
Okay, Bush ain’t gonna get out of Iraq no matter what anyone says or does short of a)impeachment, b)a lobotomy, or c)one of his daughters setting herself afire in the Oval Office as a war protest. A few days ago, upon arriving in Australia, “in a chipper mood”, he was asked by the Deputy Prime Minister about his stopover in Iraq. “We’re kicking ass,” replied the idiot king. Another epigram for his tombstone.
And the Democrats ain’t gonna end the war. Ninety-nine percent of the American people protesting on the same day ain’t gonna do it either, in this democracy. (No, I’m sorry to say that I don’t think the Vietnam protesters ended the war. There were nine years of protest — 1964 to 1973 — before the US military left Vietnam. It’s a stretch to ascribe a cause and effect to that. The United States, after all, had to leave sometime.)
Only those fighting the war can end it. By laying down their arms and refusing to kill anymore, including themselves. Some American soldiers in Iraq have already refused to go on very dangerous combat missions. Iraq Veterans Against the War, last month at their annual meeting, in St. Louis, voted to launch a campaign encouraging American troops to refuse to fight. “Iraq Veterans Against the War decided to make support of war resisters a major part of what we do,” said Garrett Rappenhagen, a former U.S. Army sniper who served in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005.
The veterans group has begun organizing among active duty soldiers on military bases. Veterans have toured the country in busses holding barbeques outside the base gates. They also plan to step up efforts to undermine military recruiting efforts.
Of course it’s a very long shot to get large numbers of soldiers into an angry, protesting frame of mind. But consider the period following the end of World War Two. Late 1945 and early 1946 saw what is likely the greatest troop revolt that has ever occurred in a victorious army. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American soldiers protested all over the world because they were not being sent home even though the war was over. The GIs didn’t realize it at first, but many soon came to understand that the reason they were being transferred from Europe and elsewhere to various places in the Pacific area, instead of being sent back home, was that the United States was concerned about uprisings against colonialism, which, in the minds of Washington foreign-policy officials, was equated with communism and other nasty un-American things. The uprisings were occurring in British colonies, in Dutch colonies, in French colonies, as well as in the American colony of the Philippines. Yes, hard to believe, but the United States was acting like an imperialist power.
In the Philippines there were repeated mass demonstrations by GIs who were not eager to be used against the left-wing Huk guerrillas. The New York Times reported in January 1946 about one of these demonstrations: “‘The Philippines are capable of handling their own internal problems,’ was the slogan voiced by several speakers. Many extended the same point of view to China.”
American marines were sent to China to support the Nationalist government of Chang Kai-shek against the Communists of Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai. They were sent to the Netherlands Indies (Indonesia) to be of service to the Dutch in their suppression of native nationalists. And American troop ships were used to transport the French military to France’s former colony in Vietnam. These and other actions of Washington led to numerous large GI protests in Japan, Guam, Saipan, Korea, India, Germany, England, France, and Andrews Field, Maryland, all concerned with the major slowdown in demobilization and the uses for which the soldiers were being employed. There were hunger strikes and mass mailings to Congress from the soldiers and their huge body of support in the States. In January 1946, Senator Edwin Johnson of Colorado declared “It is distressing and humiliating to all Americans to read in every newspaper in the land accounts of near mutiny in the Army.”
On January 13, 1946, 500 GIs in Paris adopted a set of demands called “The Enlisted Man’s Magna Charta”, calling for radical reforms of the master-slave relationship between officers and enlisted men; also demanding the removal of Secretary of War Robert Patterson. In the Philippines, soldier sentiment against the reduced demobilization crystallized in a meeting of GIs that voted unanimously to ask Secretary Patterson and certain Senators: “What is the Army’s position in the Philippines, especially in relation to the reestablishment of the Eighty-sixth Infantry Division on a combat basis?”
By the summer of 1946 there had been a huge demobilization of the armed forces, although there’s no way of knowing with any exactness how much of that was due to the GIs’ protests.
If this is how American soldiers could be inspired and organized in the wake of “The Good War”, imagine what can be done today in the midst of “The God-awful War”.
Iraq Veterans Against the War could use your help. Go to: http://www.ivaw.org/
 Sydney Morning Herald, September 6, 2007
 New York Times, January 8, 1946, p.3
 New York Times, January 11, 1946, p.1
 Ibid., p.4
 For more information about the soldiers’ protests, see: Mary-Alice Waters, “G.I.’s and the Fight
Against War” (New York, 1967), a pamphlet published by “Young Socialist” magazine.William Blum is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire
Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org
This makes us unbearably sad:
Two U.S. soldiers whose signatures appeared on an op-ed piece in The New York Times critical of the war in Iraq were among seven Americans killed in a truck accident outside of Baghdad, family members said Wednesday.
Staff Sgt. Yance Gray and Sgt. Omar Mora were members of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Gray, Mora and five other soldiers died Monday when their truck overturned near the Iraqi capital, U.S. officials said.
Gray and Mora were among seven soldiers, mostly sergeants, who wrote the op-ed piece that appeared in the Times on August 19. It called the prospects of U.S. success “far-fetched” and said the progress being reported was being “offset by failures elsewhere.”
“Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence,” they wrote. “When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages.”
Gray, 26, joined the Army out of high school in Ismay, Montana, in 2000, said his father, Richard Gray. Tance Gray is survived by a wife and daughter.
A relative at Mora’s family home in Texas City, Texas, confirmed his death but had no other comment.
In their article, Mora, Gray and their comrades wrote that American troops in Iraq are operating “in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear.”
However, they concluded, “As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.”
Another of the signers of the Times article, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Murphy, was shot in the head a week before the article appeared but survived.
We posted the article from the New York Times here or re-read it below:
The War As We Saw It
By BUDDHIKA JAYAMAHA, WESLEY D. SMITH, JEREMY ROEBUCK, OMAR MORA, EDWARD SANDMEIER, YANCE T. GRAY and JEREMY A. MURPHY
VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)
The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.
A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.
As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.
Similarly, Sunnis, who have been underrepresented in the new Iraqi armed forces, now find themselves forming militias, sometimes with our tacit support. Sunnis recognize that the best guarantee they may have against Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated government is to form their own armed bands. We arm them to aid in our fight against Al Qaeda.
However, while creating proxies is essential in winning a counterinsurgency, it requires that the proxies are loyal to the center that we claim to support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed become effective surrogates, but the enduring question is where their loyalties would lie in our absence. The Iraqi government finds itself working at cross purposes with us on this issue because it is justifiably fearful that Sunni militias will turn on it should the Americans leave.
In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a “time-sensitive target acquisition mission” on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.
Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.
Coupling our military strategy to an insistence that the Iraqis meet political benchmarks for reconciliation is also unhelpful. The morass in the government has fueled impatience and confusion while providing no semblance of security to average Iraqis. Leaders are far from arriving at a lasting political settlement. This should not be surprising, since a lasting political solution will not be possible while the military situation remains in constant flux.
The Iraqi government is run by the main coalition partners of the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, with Kurds as minority members. The Shiite clerical establishment formed the alliance to make sure its people did not succumb to the same mistake as in 1920: rebelling against the occupying Western force (then the British) and losing what they believed was their inherent right to rule Iraq as the majority. The qualified and reluctant welcome we received from the Shiites since the invasion has to be seen in that historical context. They saw in us something useful for the moment.
Now that moment is passing, as the Shiites have achieved what they believe is rightfully theirs. Their next task is to figure out how best to consolidate the gains, because reconciliation without consolidation risks losing it all. Washington’s insistence that the Iraqis correct the three gravest mistakes we made — de-Baathification, the dismantling of the Iraqi Army and the creation of a loose federalist system of government — places us at cross purposes with the government we have committed to support.
Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistence or in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms when the reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the political sphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please every party in the conflict — as we do now — will only ensure we are hated by all in the long run.
At the same time, the most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably. Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricity, telephone services and sanitation. “Lucky” Iraqis live in gated communities barricaded with concrete blast walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal.
In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”
In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.
Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.
We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.
Buddhika Jayamaha is an Army specialist. Wesley D. Smith is a sergeant. Jeremy Roebuck is a sergeant. Omar Mora is a sergeant. Edward Sandmeier is a sergeant. Yance T. Gray is a staff sergeant. Jeremy A. Murphy is a staff sergeant.
We do not think of ourselves as conspiracy theorists – but we do have to admit that, when you add them up, there are WAY too many “coincidences” for us not to increase our questions. Here’s one man’s take on it:
I don’t think I have seen such an amount of strange goings at the same time in a very long time; maybe never. The last time this happened was 9/11 and I didn’t see any of that until afterwards.
There’s this stranger than fiction aspect to the nukes in flight. Here’s an excellent article where you can inform yourself if you aren’t informed yet http://freeworldsurvey.blogspot.com/2007/09/6-nukes-fly-over-us-big-problems-with.html here’s the nukes http://www.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?fsID=3548 does any of this seem strange to you? I’ll tell you what looks strange to me, grounding entire air defense squadrons of fighters on the 14th of the month when it is bombers that were involved. Read the first link above and you’ll be in the picture. The other thing is how did that squadron commander get control of those nukes? There are all of these fail-safes and protocols in place so; who waved them through? Who waved them through? Surely someone would have been named. Surely this is the sort of thing the press would be right on top of… surely. “Don’t call me Shirley.”
And then, like a jack in the box, up comes the animated corpse of the long dead Bin Laden in a video that stops for minutes at a time while the voiceover continues unimpeded. What you are to take away from this is that when Bin Laden pops up it means another terror attack is about to happen. Right on cue, the head of the CIA announces that Al Qaeda is planning another terror attack http://sify.com/news/fullstory.php?id=14523542&vsv=SHGTslot2
Meanwhile the Fed is pumping money into the system like no tomorrow because of an immense financial crisis that isn’t being discussed at the level it really exists at and Israeli fighter jets are violating airspaces all over the Middle East and America and ‘unnamed allies’ are all upset with El Baradei and there’s booga-booga here and booga-booga there. It really feels like the carnival has come to town. The carnival has come to town folks and the freak show is the big attraction.
I could put so many links in here that there wouldn’t be an article when I was done. Maybe you should head over the http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/ and http://www.signs-of-the-times.org/ and inform yourself. Look over what’s been showing up in the last couple of weeks and then see what your reasonable mind makes of all the happenings and signs.
Shortly before all of this the History Channel did a smear job on the 9/11 truth movement and that is because no one with a brain in their head believes the official version any more. You can see who owns what in the media here http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart.php and then you can speculate on why whoever owns the History Channel felt that they needed to do a big disinfo special at this time. Then you might remind yourself that fascism occurs when corporations control the government. Finally you can check out this 3 part rebuttal of the History Channel’s hit piece here http://www.innworldreport.net/video_launcher.php?2007-08-29i and here http://www.innworldreport.net/video_launcher.php?2007-08-30i and here http://innworldreport.net/video_launcher.php?2007-09-04i
Okay, that’s it for the links. Have you checked out some of what is available for you here? Have you looked at the two major sites that I included which give a comprehensive view of all the news the mass media has spun or ignored these last weeks? Then you should be up to speed.
Let’s add to the whole picture the strange legislation that put the country solely into the hands of lil’ Bush should anything go wrong enough- according to him- to implement it. This happened around May 8th. Think about what happened to Posse Comitatus and all the other weird things, from Ashcroft’s sickbed to grabbing your property if the government feels you are supporting terror and… ask… yourself… why all of these things; all of the things I have mentioned so far and what is presented in all of the links has been happening. Remember too that Bush only does what he is told.
Is it all coincidence? Is it the result of the workings of deep and penetrating intellects with big hearts who are trying to protect all of us from an army of people who hate your freedom? Is it the natural out-workings of the collective mathematics of life? More likely it is none of the above.
This blog has been at pains to point out the psychopathic players behind all the smoke and mirrors. I don’t think that needs to be done one more time. This blog has mentioned a number of times, what an ordinary citizen can do; collectively strike in such a way that the money and product stops flowing. I don’t expect the ordinary citizen to do anything about any of this until they are forced to and the good news and the bad news is that I suspect that’s going to happen. I suspect you will find yourself in this position.
Trends are indicators, folks. If you watch trends you can see patterns. Life is composed of trends and the more successful among us are very mindful of them. Various organized groups of the successful often engineer the very trends they profit from. Depending on the industry they are a part of depends on the trends they engineer or manipulate. Observing the passage of trends can have a lot to do with your level of comfort and often whether you survive at all.
Right now, booga-booga and strange unexplained events have become trends. Those who profits off of the blood- sweat and tears of the rank and file know that there are certain primal instincts that you can always appeal to. You can generate a collective response from the public by inflaming desire or instilling fear. It’s a little more complex but mostly it has to do with activating people’s appetites or amplifying their fears.
Are you hungry yet? Are you scared? Most of you aren’t even thinking about any of this. Most of you are going along with the program the way sheep go along with the program until the day they become lamb chops; that’s part of the program too. Is there any truth to the fact that that bomber left with six nukes and arrived with five? I just put that in there because I love how it makes the rah-rah lemmings scream with outrage. People are talking about this though. People are saying there are weird things happening with Fosset’s missing plane and that unheimlich ‘flight of the nukes’.
I don’t know who did what, when. I don’t know the identity of “the man who squats behind the man that works the soft machine.” There are a lot of things that I don’t know and I’m happy to admit that. We don’t do advertising here. We don’t answer to a paycheck or write in hope of one. We just wonder a lot and we hope to make you wonder too. We would like you to be more informed. You might not wind up knowing any more than we do but at least you’d be wondering what the Hell is going on and maybe the more we all wonder, the more the smoke and mirrors will look exactly like smoke and mirrors.
Whatever is going on it is beginning to ratchet up. There’s an increase of tension and excitement. It’s kind of like getting to that part of the film where something is about to happen. If nothing happens you feel let down. Well, hopefully nothing does happen in this film. I would prefer that.
We need to wonder more and we need to ask more questions. We need to be less satisfied with the bullshit we are being fed. We need to stop being a nation of people that are glad to eat shit as long as they serve it to us warm. I don’t expect you to do much now. I hope you will act when the time comes and I hope the time never comes. For the moment it looks like the Boogeyman has shown up well before Halloween. Keep thinking; keep wondering and why not start being better informed?
From Smoking Mirrors
“At best, what you’ve got is the status quo from May or June of 2006.” ***Please note – 1,369 young men and women have been killed to maintain that “status quo.”
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration’s top two officials in Iraq answered questions from Congress for more than six hours on Monday, but their testimony may have been as important for what they didn’t say as for what they did.
A chart displayed by Army Gen. David Petraeus that purported to show the decline in sectarian violence in Baghdad between December and August made no effort to show that the ethnic character of many of the neighborhoods had changed in that same period from majority Sunni Muslim or mixed to majority Shiite Muslim.
Neither Petraeus nor U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker talked about the fact that since the troop surge began the pace by which Iraqis were abandoning their homes in search of safety had increased. They didn’t mention that 86 percent of Iraqis who’ve fled their homes said they’d been targeted because of their sect, according to the International Organization for Migration.
While Petraeus stressed that civilian casualties were down over the last five weeks, he drew no connection between that statement and a chart he displayed that showed that the number of attacks rose during at least one of those weeks.
Petraeus also didn’t highlight the fact that his charts showed that “ethno-sectarian” deaths in August, down from July, were still higher than in June, and he didn’t explain why the greatest drop in such deaths, which peaked in December, occurred between January and February, before the surge began.
And while both officials said that the Iraqi security forces were improving, neither talked about how those forces had been infiltrated by militias, though Petraeus acknowledged that during 2006 some Iraqi security forces had participated in the ethnic violence.
Both officials said they believed that Iraq was on the path to potential success. Petraeus said that “the military objectives of the surge are, in large measure, being met.” Crocker was similarly optimistic: “In my judgment, the cumulative trajectory of political, economic and diplomatic developments in Iraq is upwards, although the slope of that line is not steep.”
They both pleaded for more time, even as Petraeus said that the U.S. should begin pulling troops out, with the goal of being back to the pre-surge level of 130,000 troops by next July. Further reductions would be considered next spring, as conditions allow, he said.
Both men celebrated their plan’s success in encouraging residents in once-restive Anbar province to work with U.S. troops against al Qaida in Iraq.
Petraeus conceded that that success didn’t extend to Ninevah province, where progress “has been much more up and down.” But he didn’t say that many believe that al Qaida numbers increased there only after the surge began. Ninevah is where some of the largest bombings of the year occurred, including the attack on the Yazidis, which killed more than 300.
He also offered a tepid endorsement of the Iraqi security forces, at times saying that they were increasingly capable of defending Iraq, while conceding that they needed to show more progress.
“Iraqi security forces have also continued to grow and shoulder more of the load, albeit slowly and amid continuing concerns about the sectarian tendencies of some elements in their ranks,” Petraeus said. “In general, however, Iraqi elements have been standing and fighting and sustaining tough losses, and they have taken the lead in operations in many areas.”
He said 445,000 people were on the security forces’ payroll, but didn’t discuss that many officials believe that thousands of those don’t actually exist, but are phantoms whose salaries actually go into ministry officials’ pockets.
Both Iraqis and U.S. officials concede that militias have infiltrated the security forces and that political leaders continue to interfere with their operations to serve their sects’ interests.
Petraeus presented a series of maps to show how sectarian violence had dropped in Baghdad from December 2006 to August 2007. But all of the maps showed the same color-coding for Sunni, Shiite and mixed neighborhoods, even though the ethnicity of many neighborhoods have shifted dramatically over the previous year. U.S. military officials say that Baghdad was once 65 percent Sunni and is now 75 percent Shiite.
Questions from the 107 members of Congress who sat in on the hearing rarely produced more detail.
Still, the two men, considered by many to be among the most capable U.S. public servants to have served in Iraq, didn’t attempt to hide their reservations. Both said they couldn’t guarantee success.
Crocker, a fluent Arabic speaker and a lifelong student of the area, questioned the U.S. criteria for measuring success and said that the Iraqi government might never meet most of the 18 benchmarks laid out by Congress in a May law. Petraeus, who wrote the Army’s counterinsurgency manual, acknowledged that violence remained at unacceptable levels.
Independent observers said the numbers that Crocker and Petraeus provided showed the violence has dropped to about where it was in May 2006, a few months after a February 2006 bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in the mostly Sunni city of Samarra, which the military uses to mark the rise in sectarian violence.
“At best, what you’ve got is the status quo from May or June of 2006,” said Kirk Johnson, who served for 13 months as the chief statistician for Crocker and who said he supports the current strategy in Iraq.
Rand Beers, a former White House counterterrorism aide who resigned to protest the invasion of Iraq, noted there was another troop surge, in Baghdad, in summer 2006.
“We’ve had two surges, and in a way, things are back to the level before the first surge,” Beers said in a conference call with reporters.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Robert Gard said that it was understandable that Petraeus emphasized the positive.
“He’s a human being and he’s a military human being that wants to accomplish the mission,” Gard said.
(Youssef reported from Washington, Fadel, from Baghdad. Warren P. Strobel in Washington contributed.)
We will not be posting Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2007. We are participating in the STRIKE FOR PEACE.
If you’ve had enough, you need to say “When.” Say-when.org