Archive for the ‘Gen. Petraeus’ 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.
It’s our observation that as the United States government continues its current foreign policy and its push to bring our form of government to countries that may not want it, the status of the U.S. as the arbiter of world affairs is diminishing. We can no longer announce that we are “the deciders” of world policy and not expect repercussions.
Other governments will take a page from the handbook the U.S. has been using and turn our treatment of them back on us.
We are on a steep and slippery slope here – and, after watching “the debates,” there appears to be no hope that the frontrunners in the 2008 campaign offer anything different. A different approach needs to be put forth – and we’re the ones who need to demand it. No more “lesser of two evils” – it’s time for NO evil!
The Iranian parliament on Saturday voted to designate the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Army as terrorist organizations, IRNA, the country’s state-run news agency, reported.
The CIA and the U.S. Army “trained terrorists and supported terrorism, and they themselves are terrorists,” the parliament said, according to IRNA.
The Iranian parliament said the condemnation was based on “known and accepted” standards of terrorism from international regulations, including the U.N. charter.
The parliament said it condemns the “aggressions by the U.S. Army, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan” and calls on the United Nations to “intervene in the global problem of U.S. prisons in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and secret jails in other countries,” IRNA reported, quoting a statement from Iranian lawmakers.
The Iranian parliament also decried the CIA’s and U.S. Army’s involvement in the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, U.S. involvement in the Balkans, Vietnam and the U.S. support of Israel.
Of the condemnation, Paul Gimigliano, a CIA spokesman, said, “There are some things that don’t even deserve comment. This is one.”
National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said he declined to comment “on non-binding resolutions passed by parliaments in countries with dubious records on human rights, democracy and that are state sponsors of terror.”
There was no immediate response from the U.S. State Department.
Washington and U.S. military leaders have long accused Iran of training and equipping insurgents in Iraq. The United States and Iran have not had formal diplomatic relations since 1980 after Iranian militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held Americans hostage for 444 days.
The Iranian lawmakers’ condemnation was in apparent retaliation for the U.S. Senate’s resolution Wednesday requesting that the United States designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, or Quds Force, as a foreign terrorist organization.
The Senate resolution passed a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the U.N. General Assembly that an agreement reached last month between his country and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over its disputed nuclear program has, in the Iranian view, settled the matter.
Iran says its nuclear program is necessary for civilian energy production. The United States and other Western nations have accused Tehran of trying to build a nuclear weapon.
The Senate voted by a wide margin Thursday to condemn a controversial anti-war advertisement accusing Gen. David Petraeus of betraying the country. Only 24 Democrats, including presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, voted against the symbolic resolution.Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), both of whom also are seeking their party’s presidential nomination, joined Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in declining to take a position for or against the MoveOn ad. Since last Monday, when the “General Petraus or General Betray Us?” ad ran on a full page of the New York Times, Republicans have launched relentless attacks on MoveOn and any Democrats who refused to outright condemn the ad’s message.
“The focus of the United States Senate should be on ending this war, not on criticizing newspaper advertisements,” Obama said. “This amendment was a stunt designed only to score cheap political points while what we should be doing is focusing on the deadly serious challenge we face in Iraq. It’s precisely this kind of political game-playing that makes most Americans cynical about Washington’s ability to solve America’s problems. By not casting a vote, I registered my protest against this empty politics. I registered my views on the ad itself the day it appeared.”
In a statement released Thursday Obama continued, “All of us respect the service of General Petraeus and all of our brave men and women in uniform. The way to honor that service is to give them a mission that is responsible, not to vote on amendments like the Cornyn amendment while we continue to pursue the wrong policy in Iraq.”
President Bush entered the fray himself Thursday, calling the ad “disgusting” and an attack on the military.
Sen. Gordon Smith, a Republican who favors a timetable for removing US troops from Iraq, blamed the MoveOn ad for keeping Republicans aligned with the White House in voting against measures to de-escalate the war.
“It was stupid on their part and disgraceful,” the Oregon Republican told the Associated Press.
Thursday’s Senate resolution was sponsored by conservative Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). who took time away from questioning Petraeus to condemn the ad as “reprehensible slander” during a Senate hearing last Tuesday.
Earlier Thursday Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced a resolution that would’ve condemned all attacks on troops and veterans, including those from MoveOn and conservative groups that disparaged former Sen Max Cleland and John Kerry in 2002 and 2004. That resolution fell nine short of the 60 votes needed to end debate on it. Obama voted in favor of that measure, an hour before the vote on Cornyn’s bill he skipped.
In substantive votes Thursday, Democrats failed to attract enough Republican supporters to end a filibuster on Sen. Jim Webb’s amendment to a defense spending bill that would have given US troops as much time at home as they are stationed in a warzone. Currently some troops are subject to 15-month tours of duty with only a year off in between.
Webb was among the Democrats who supported the measure condemning MoveOn.
From The Raw Story
Read our editorial about this ad here.
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.
This will be short and sweet.
If you have not seen the ad, please click here.
We seem to be the only ones saying this but…NO MORE DEMOCRAT/REPUBLICAN!!!
Say-When supporters are tired of BOTH parties – we want REAL representation and we want it regardless of the party affiliation of the politician.
We want someone to get their heads out of the wallets that seem to surround them once they hit Capitol Hill and start standing up for us.
All of the candidates need to get this and fast – you will NOT win the election in 2008 simply because you are a Democrat and the nation is tired of a Republican administration! We want a candidate that listens to us and puts our interests before his/her own – and at this moment, we’re not terribly inspired by the lot of you.
We don’t care if the ad helped Democrats – did it help We the People?
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.