01/10/03 GI Special #104: Armed Marches Against U.S.
Date: Wed, 1 Oct 2003 01:23:12 -0400
“Thomas B” <thomasfbarton@earthlink.net>
Subject: GI Special 104: Armed Marches Against U.S.

GI SPECIAL #104


“Pardon me, Sir, but there’s 20,000 armed soldiers outside who’d like to have a word with you.  Something about your face being on a deck of cards.”

Armed Resistance Demonstrators March In Baghdad, Fallujah, Khaldiya;

U.S. Soldiers Refuses To Confront Them

By Rémy Ourdan, Le Monde, 30 September 2003

Now the American army must face armed demonstrations supporting Saddam Hussein. On Monday five hundred people holding up portraits of the former dictator marched in the north of the country. A ten year old child was killed by American soldiers.

Another similar demonstration was held several days ago in Baghdad’s big neighborhood, Al-Adhamiya, a former Baathist ghetto. The public’s hostility to Americans was flaunted along with appeals for Saddam Hussein’s return.

The American patrol that passed that way was disarmed by it.  On April 9, 2003, the evening of the “liberation”, even if many Iraqis didn’t watch the American army’s installation with light hearts, who would have believed that such an event would take place six months later? Five days ago in Baghdad’s Al-Adhamiya neighborhood, hundreds of men insolently marched, weapons in hand, demanding Saddam Hussein’s return!

The scene took place Thursday September 25 without notice to the Iraqi or international press.

The demonstrators were several hundred and a few thousand curious onlookers stood in the doorways. Some threw flowers. Children in the street remember it as a sort of holiday.

An American military patrol came and just asked the armed men to fire into the air.  Which they did.  Then the patrol left.

Al-Adhamiya has a long history. This Sunni working class neighborhood was a ghetto during Saddam Hussein’s reign. Kurds and Shiites did not venture there. A Sunni opponent could be excluded long after having finished his prison term.

Imam Al-Adhami, a descendant of an historic family that bears the neighborhood’s name, is well-placed to know. After having tasted Baathist jails at age 20 because of his Islamist convictions, he was banished from Al-Adhamiya for a decade.  Families here have suffered from the regime’s ferocity, as everywhere in Iraq, but the majority of the population was composed of soldiers and bureaucrats.

Al-Adhamiya, in both the Iraqi capital’s imagination and reality, is the high place of anti-Americanism.  The neighborhood’s residents, not incidentally, kept pious vigil at the obsequies of the foreign mujahadijn who died April 10 and buried them in the mosque’s garden, renamed the “Martyr’s Cemetery”.

Later, of course, at Abou Hanifa mosque, the principal of 30 places of worship in the neighborhood, the Baathist imam who welcomed the fedayin gave up his position to Imam Al-Adhami.  Certainly the Friday sermons are known for never crossing the red line that separates an anti-American from a pro-Saddam speech. But signs do not deceive. Right in the middle of a crowd these people are not afraid to assert that “the president should raise an army and come back to power as soon as possible!”  Satisfied smiles appear whenever an attack against Americans is mentioned.

Graffiti blossoms on the walls. “Long live the mujahid President Saddam!”  ”Allah is great and Saddam is brave!”  ”By our blood, by our soul, we shall sacrifice ourselves for you, oh Saddam!”  ”The jihad is our way!” “Patience, Baghdad, patience, we shall force the occupier to leave!”

For Mouyad Al-Adhami, “there are spies who want to disfigure the image of Al-Adhamiya”, those who pay the armed demonstrators, those who write the slogans on the walls.  Then the American army attacks houses.  Since this army has no respect for the people, anti-American feeling grows.”

An agent of Iraq’s official “secret services “, a Shiite military man now working for American intelligence, who knows Al-Adhamiya, where he has sources holds a similar theory. “This neighborhood is the center of Baghdad’s resistance. Here is where men, money, and weapons arrive from Ramadi, Falluja, Tikrit and Mosul –the conservative Sunni bastions to Baghdad’s west and north-”, he thinks. “Infiltrated Moukhabarat- Saddam Hussein’s former secret police- agents designate artificial targets, or, more intelligently, real, but minor targets. The American army raids, and arrests, but is remote-controlled by its enemies. Meanwhile, the real resistance live in tranquility.”

Al-Adhamiya’s pro-Saddam demonstration is not the first of its kind in Iraq.  There had already been two the week before in Falluja and Khaldiya, to the west of the capital, with parades of hooded men carrying Kalashnikovs and rocket-launchers. Monday, September 29, in Hawija in the north, a rather typical demonstration demanding the departure of American soldiers turned into a pro-Saddam riot, which is hardly the norm. Five hundred protesters held up portraits of the fallen leader and threw stones at the GIs.

The American soldiers, as is often the case in Iraq, responded to the streams of stones by firing on the crowd.  Balance sheet: a ten-year-old child, Hussein Dakhil Ahmad, dead.  So “The Battle for Hearts and Minds”, intended to win the Iraqi people’s trust, continues.

Iraqi Dreams

The Independent. UK 9.21.03

In the yard of the City Morgue, a group of very angry young men have gathered. They are Shia and, I suspect, members of the Badr Brigade.  They are waiting for the coffin of Taleb Homtoush who was killed by three bullets fired into his head as he stood at the door of his Baghdad home on Wednesday.  Taleb had lost his legs in the Iran-Iraq war.  Two of his brothers were killed in the same conflict.  Another cousin who will not give his name, a tall man, is spitting in anger as he speaks.

“You must know something,” he shouts at me.  ”We are a Muslim country and the Americans want to create divisions among us, between Sunni and Shia.  But no civil war will occur here in Iraq.  These people are dying because the Americans let this happen.”

“You know that the Americans made many promises before they came here.  They promised freedom and security and democracy. We were dreaming of these promises. Now we are just dreaming of blowing ourselves up among the Americans.”

IRAQ WAR REPORTS:

IT’S ALL TURNING TO SHIT;

RESISTANCE HITS WITH COORDINATED ATTACKS;

BATTLE LASTS FOR HOURS

Patrick E. Tyler, New York Times, 30 September 2003,

American forces were compelled to call in helicopters, tanks and warplanes to fight off an ambush by Iraqi insurgents today in the rebellious city of Khaldiya, military officials and witnesses said.  Several soldiers were wounded in the firefight, which lasted at least six hours.

In a virtually simultaneous ambush just six miles away in Habbaniya, a soldier was killed when the convoy he was traveling with was attacked with an explosive device and rocket-propelled grenades, according to The Associated Press.

Both Iraqi towns lie along the Euphrates River in the so-called Sunni triangle, an area of intense resistance to American occupation forces.

A military official said the almost daylong battle in Khaldiya, 40 miles west of Baghdad, began just after 9 a.m. when an explosive device detonated as a military convoy of the 82nd Airborne Division was passing. Guerrillas then opened fire on the disabled convoy with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, Lt. Col. George Krivo said.

Military officials said reinforced units of the light infantry division had regrouped and given chase to the Iraqis, who took refuge in a number of houses in the town.

Soldiers in Bradley fighting vehicles supported by attack helicopters sought to flush out and destroy the Iraqi fighters in a battle that lasted into midafternoon, the officials said. There were reports of a number of civilian casualties.

Local witnesses described a fierce battle, with helicopters, fighter jets and tanks attacking suspected guerrilla positions, according to The Associated Press. The witnesses’ account, though, said it had taken several hours for reinforcements to arrive, during which time the Iraqi attackers had run away.

Military officials could provide no estimate of the size of the attacking force, nor any estimate of the number of Iraqi deaths. Reuters reported that local residents had said that at least five Iraqis had been wounded during the battle.

In Baghdad today, unknown assailants blew up a video store that specialized in selling cassettes of violence and torture meted out by members of Mr. Hussein’s secret services. No one was hurt in the blast.

Also in the capital, confusion continued to surround a street shootout that involved a convoy carrying Jalal Uldin al-Saghir, a Shiite cleric who is on the committee that is to report its recommendations on writing Iraq’s new constitution this week.

Mr. Saghir was not hurt in the gun battle, which jangled nerves after the assassination of Akila al-Hashimi, a member of Iraq’s Governing Council. She was shot by nine gunmen on Sept. 20 and died five days later.

Resistance Strikes at Heart of American “Green Zone”

By Charles J. Hanley, Associated Press, 27 September 2003

Baghdad, Iraq – Guerrillas struck a glancing but bold blow at the heart of the U.S. occupation on Saturday, firing three rockets or grenades at a Baghdad hotel filled with American soldiers and civilians.

The attack on the al-Rashid Hotel, now home to U.S. military officers and civilian occupation officials, came at about 6:30 a.m. when someone fired three or four projectiles, apparently from a nearby residential area, U.S. military spokesmen said.

Rounds struck the 14th floor and caused superficial damage, said Charles Heatley, spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority. Another round struck a one-story private home near the hotel, leaving a sizable hole. No injuries were reported.

“It did wake us up with a bang,” Heatley said. But “we are not unduly concerned about this,” he said.   (Pissing his pants is more like it.)

It was, nonetheless, the most daring known attack by resistance fighters on the so-called “green zone,” a heavily guarded area of closed-off streets in central Baghdad where U.S. occupation authorities live and work.

The modern, 200-foot-tall hotel stands hundreds of yards from high, earth-filled barriers ringing that section of the zone, which is also home of the coalition press office at the Baghdad Convention Center and of the headquarters of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.

A spokesman, Lt. Col. George Krivo, said the U.S. military had not immediately determined what the projectiles were. Residents of the Salhiya neighborhood west of the complex said a rocket launcher was fired from the middle of the street and was left behind as the attackers fled. Heatley said he was not aware of any arrests.

At the eastern edge of Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division manning a position on the eastbound side of the main highway to the capital opened fire on a motorbike and then a following pickup truck headed west into the city, survivors said.

Haidar Jamil, 17, wounded in the left leg and back, told The Associated Press from his hospital bed that his father, mother and grandmother were in the pickup and were killed.

An initial report from the U.S. military in Baghdad said soldiers fired on a vehicle that ran a checkpoint. Krivo later amended that to say, “There was a van involved. There were shots fired from the van on the traffic control point, and the coalition soldiers returned fire.” He said there would be an investigation.

Iraqi witnesses said no Iraqis fired on the Americans and there was no checkpoint.

“We were in the pickup truck and close to Fallujah. The Americans were on the other side of the road and as we approached and almost passed them, they fired on us,” said Taha Yassin, 29, who was wounded in the arm.

TROOP NEWS

Roll Call

Jimmy Breslin, Newsday (New York), 9/23/2003

September 23, 2003, Summary: This column prints what few dare to admit — US soldiers are getting killed in Iraq on a daily basis…

George Bush won’t mention the names below in today’s speech, nor will your gullible news and television people – the Pekinese of the Press.

Therefore we print promptly and thus prominently the names of American soldiers killed in Iraq and reported from Sept. 9 to Sept. 19:

Spc. Ryan G. Carlock, 25, 416th Transportation Co., 260 Quartermaster Battalion (Petroleum Support), Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. Died in attack on truck Sept. 10. Home: Macomb, Ill.

Staff Sgt. Joe Robsky, 31, 759 Ordnance Co., Fort Irwin, Calif. Home is a mobile home park trailer in Elizaville, N.Y. Died in Baghdad while trying to defuse a homemade bomb on Sept. 10. He volunteered for this duty because he didn’t want children killed by land mines.

Sgt. Henry Ybarra III, 32, D Troop, 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry. Home: Austin, Texas. Died when truck tire exploded, Sept. 11.

Marine Sgt. Kevin N. Morehead, 33, 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group. Home: Little Rock, Ark. Died of wounds received when raiding enemy forces.

Sgt. 1st Class William M. Bennett, 35, 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, of Seymour, Tenn. Died of wounds in same raid on Sept. 12 in Ramadi.

Sgt. Trevor A. Blumberg, 22, lst Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne, Fort Bragg, N.C. Home: Canton, Mich. Died in attack on his vehicle in Baghdad on Sept. 14.

Staff Sgt. Kevin C. Kimmerly, 31, 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, North Creek, N.Y. Killed when his vehicle was hit by rocket-propelled grenade while on patrol in Baghdad Sept. 15.

Spc. Alyssa R. Peterson, 27, 311 Military Intelligence Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky. Home: Flagstaff, Ariz. Died of wounds on Sept. 15 at Tel Afar.

Spc. James C. Wright, 27, Fourth Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Home: Delhi Township, Ohio. Died when vehicle hit by rocket-propelled grenade during ambush near Tikrit on Sept. 18.

George Bush told lies and they died.

New Jersey Reservist On 13 Day Leave Organizing Demonstration To Bring Troops Home;

Tired Of Being Sniper Bait

September 28, 2003, BY JASON JETT, Newark Star-Ledger Staff

Frank Mendez of Hillside has no regrets about enlisting in the Army Reserve and eventually being deployed to Iraq.

But he does have reservations about a series of deployments that began shortly after high school and are nearing the end of a second year with no termination date.

Mendez also is unhappy that he and fellow enlistees are being made to wait for meaningful assignments while their personal lives are on hold.

“I had no problem going into this,” said Mendez, 22, who is home from Iraq on a 13-day leave. “I knew the mission going in: We were going to find weapons of mass destruction. Only there weren’t any, and the mission then became bringing democracy to Iraq.

“But now we’re just in the country sitting on our butts wasting taxpayers’ money and wasting our own time,” he said, adding there is even less to do as coalition forces assume roles in Iraq. “If they have a mission for us, let us know. Don’t keep us in the dark.”

Mendez, assisted by his mother Francisca Marta-Mendez, is organizing a rally Friday outside the 1 Gateway Plaza Newark offices of Democratic Sens. Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg.   The rally will ask the senators to press the Bush administration to bring home reservists.

Mendez said he realizes the risk of reprisal or being disciplined for speaking out, but he said he is taking a stand for a majority of reservists and especially the 40 who enlisted with him.

About 250 reserve and National Guard troops from New Jersey are serving in Iraq.

Reservist Fed Up, Goes Public

Mother Jones, 29 September 2003

Reservist Mark Kimmey wrote last week in the New York Times:

“…the message to reservists is unmistakable: the Army no longer takes into account sacrifices made to maintain two careers and lives. Many reservists will watch the regular soldiers with whom they came to Iraq go home before they do. The Army may not care about the disparity between the way the forces are treated, but those of us in the Reserve do.

Soldiers’ Wife Nails Rumsfeld Lies

I find it appalling that in his interview with Time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said we have adequate military forces.  That is not true.

My husband was injured while blowing up enemy munitions.  The doctors recommended that he come home to heal, but the company commander said he couldn’t afford to lose him,

I don’t know where Rumsfeld gets his information but mine comes from the trenches.  

Lisa Cordell, Ft. Campbell, Ky.

Time 9.22.03

Do you have a friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly. Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and in Iraq, and information about other social protest movements here in the USA.  Send requests to address up top.  For copies on web site see:www.notinourname.net/gi-special/

The Troops Know Iraq “Is Falling To Bits;”

“The Generals Don’t Want To Admit It”

Thursday, September 18th, 2003, democracynow.org

Robert Fisk

AMY GOODMAN: You said that when Thomas Friedman was in Iraq, he asked a U.S. soldier, he was looking for something, for directions and they said to him, ‘that’s on the enemy side of the bridge’.

ROBERT FISK: You have to be reality wise, Amy.  Here in Baghdad, American troops are attacked I’m told up to 60 times a day, just in Baghdad, and they’re losing an average of a man a day.  

If you’re an American soldier, you’re 20 years old, you didn’t think it was going to work out like this, you were conned into believing the war was a great thing for democracy and liberation, and you’re being shot every day, you regard an Iraqi as a potential enemy. So of course the guy said ‘enemy side of the bridge’.  That’s a very telltale remark, because it shows how terribly wrong everything has gone for military, for the U.S. administration, our own prime minister Tony Blair.

But individually you find American soldiers here who can be very sympathetic and who realize it’s gone wrong.

You also find soldiers who behaving very badly with lack of fire discipline, lack of discipline of every kind.  I was town in Fallujah a few weeks ago where American soldiers saw a man sitting in a chair in the street said, ‘you get up and I’ll break your fucking neck’.  Well, that is not the kind of language that is going to win hearts and minds.  When I complained to his sergeant about the way he had spoken, he made excuses and said ‘well the guy got up at 3:00 this morning, he’s been shot at every day, he’s been here since March or whatever’.

And this is the big problem over and over again, I’m finding soldiers who say, ‘yes, we believe we can help the Iraqi people’. Then you find many, many who say, ‘I want to go home’. And this is an Army that is tired, low morale, low fire discipline, low discipline all around. The number of shootings of civilians is skyrocketing.

There’s a great difference, for example, between units that were here during the war and haven’t left and actually fought in the war, lost quite a few people for them anyway, and are still here and feel that they have been lied to because they were supposed to have gone home after the victorious, wonderful war in which they were liberating people.

Now within six months they killed scores of American soldiers here in Iraq. And what has happened is that there is a real guerilla army working increasingly sophisticated. I was very interested to note, when I met the U.S. general who was in charge of prisoners of war at the former prison outside Baghdad three days ago, she actually referred to a resistance force. She didn’t talk about terrorists. not once did it cross her lips.

What you find is that the real soldiers, I’m talking about non-reservists, full time U.S. soldiers, they know they’re involved in a guerilla war. They know it’s not working. They know the place is falling to bits. What they tell me is when it gets up to the generals on your side of the lake, they don’t want to admit it.

I have colleague of mine on the State Department Press Corps, which arrived with Colin Powell, I was present at Powell’s very strange press conference here. And my colleague told me they still don’t realize in Washington how bad it is. That’s the impression I get on the ground here.

I’m just watching two Apache helicopters as I speak to you now just flying over the buildings in front of me, on ‘antiterrorist patrol’, as it’s called.  There is a real guerilla war underway here, and when you are on the ground you realize it’s moving out of control.  Washington is still trying to present this as a success story and it’s not, anymore than Afghanistan.

Israeli Pilots Who Defied Orders To Butcher Any More Palestinians;

“The Magnificent 27"

by Uri Avnery 27.09.03

A year and a half ago, a small group of Israelis decided to break a deeply entrenched taboo and bring up the subject of war crimes.  Until then, it was self-evident that the IDF is “the most moral and humane army in the world”, as the official mantra goes, and is therefore quite incapable of such things.

The Gush Shalom movement (to which I belong) called a public meeting in Tel-Aviv and invited a group of professors and public figures to discuss whether our army is committing such crimes. The star of the evening was Col. Yig’al Shohat, a war hero shot down over Egypt in the Yom Kippur war. His damaged leg had to be amputated by an Egyptian surgeon. Upon his return, he studied medicine and became a doctor himself.

In a voice trembling with emotion, he read out a personal appeal to his comrades, the Air Force pilots, calling on them to refuse orders over which “the black flag of illegality is waving” (a phrase coined by the military judge at the Kafr Kassem massacre trial in 1957). For example, orders to drop bombs on Palestinian residential neighborhoods for “targeted liquidations”.

It seemed as if Shohat’s call had evaporated into thin air – but not any more. The seed has matured slowly. This process accelerated after a pilot released a one-ton bomb over a residential neighborhood in Gaza in order to kill a Hamas leader, abruptly ending the lives of 17 bystanders, men, women, and children. Many pilots were deeply troubled by this. Now the conscience of 27 of them has spoken out.

In Israeli mythology, combat pilots are the elite of the elite. Many of them are Kibbutz-boys, who were once considered the aristocracy of Israel. Ezer Weizmann, a former Air Force commander as well as former president of Israel, once coined the phrase “The Best Boys for Flying” (and immediately added, in the typical macho style of the Force, “and the Best Girls for the Flyers”.)

The pilots are bought up from an early age to believe that we are always right, and that our opponents are vile murderers. That the army commanders never make a mistake. That an order is an order, and theirs is not to reason why. That professionalism is the highest virtue. That problems have to be solved inside the Force. That one does not question the authority of the political leadership.

The Air Force does not, of course, take in non-conformists. Candidates for flight training are scrutinized carefully. The force chooses solid, disciplined youngsters who can be relied on, both as to their character and their views; Zionists and the sons of Zionists. Moreover, the Air Force is a clan, a sect whose members are ferociously
loyal to the Force and to each other. There have never been public quarrels or signs of mutiny in the Air Force. All this explains why the pilots struggled with themselves for so long, before they found in themselves the inner strength required for such an extraordinary, morally courageous act as publishing this appeal.

The 27 Air Force pilots informed their commander that from now on they would refuse to fulfill “immoral and illegal orders” that would cause the death of civilians. At the end of their statement, they criticized the occupation that is corrupting Israel and undermining its security. The most senior officer among the signatories is Major General Yiftah Spector, who is also a living legend.  Yiftah Spector was the instructor of many of the present commanders of the Air Force. Altogether, the statement was signed by one general, 2 colonels, 9 lieutenant colonels, 8 majors and 7 captains.

Such a thing is unprecedented in Israel. Because of the special standing of the Air Force, the refusal evoked a much louder echo than the refusal movement of the ground troops that seems to have leveled out, for the moment, at about 550 refuseniks.

The army establishment, the real government of Israel, sensed the danger and reacted as it had never reacted before. It started a wild campaign of defamation, incitement and character assassination. The heroes of yesterday were turned overnight into enemies of the people.  All parts of the government – from ex-president Ezer Weizmann to the Attorney General (who already has his eye on a seat in the Supreme Court), from the Foreign Office to the politicians of the Labor and Meretz parties – were mobilized in order to crush the mutiny of the pilots.

The counter-attack was headed by the media.  Never before did they expose their real face as on this occasion.  All TV channels, all radio networks and all newspapers – without exception! – revealed themselves as servants and mouthpieces of the army command. The liberal Haaretz, too, devoted its front page to a ferocious attack on the pilots, without giving space to the other point of view.

It was impossible to switch on a TV set without encountering the Air Force commander, and after him a long line of establishment figures who, one after another, condemned the pilots.  Army camps were opened to the cameras, loyal officers damned their comrades as “traitors” who had “stuck a knife in our backs”. Except for one single interview on Channel 2, the “refusers” were not given any opportunity at all to explain their point of view or answer their detractors.

No doubt: the establishment is worried. Perhaps it may succeed in containing the protest this time and deterring other potential mutineers by spreading defamation, fear and punishment. But the message of the 27 has been written and nothing can change that.

With this sortie the flyers have served the State of Israel more than on any of the hundreds of others in the course of their army service

“Mentally and Spiritually We Are Dying:”

A Soldier Speaks Out

By Sgt. Leanne Duffy, September 23, 2003

I am a National Guardsman of the 105th Personnel Services Detachment out of Lincoln, Neb. My unit and I are stationed in Kuwait at Camp Wolf. We were deployed Feb. 2. We arrived in Jordan in April and half of us were moved a week later to Kuwait to throw mail.

When our unit came back together in June we had an order to go home but it was revoked and we ended up replacing an active Army unit. When replacing the active unit we were told our date to go home was Dec. 1.

We now hear that we will be here for a full year. We are under 3rd Personnel Command. They say that when they decide who stays and who goes, it’s not by how long soldiers have been deployed, just by unit necessity.

My unit processes incoming soldiers and helps soldiers redeploy for theater. We
are doing a great job and are working hard to treat each soldier with care and consideration as they come past our desks. They have spread our 44 soldiers out to replace an active unit that had over 50 and to replace a National Guard unit that had over 60 soldiers.

Not only are we running 24-hour operations seven days a week for these two units, but we have four of our soldiers on the redeployment side working validation for another unit!  We are spread so thin and are working so hard that these knocks on our morale are devastating.

Yes, we are physically able to finish our mission, but mentally and spiritually we are dying.

If retention for the Army National Guard is of any importance, current members need to have faith in our government and our leaders. Right now, where we are, we can’t see anyone taking a stand for the soldiers (as it isn’t just us being treated this way but many, many soldiers).

This isn’t a simple board game of Axis and Allies, this is a game people are playing with real people – people with families, not robots. You have college students out here (like me) missing over a year of college to sit and get yanked around without explanation. It has been told to the officers I have spoken to that 3rd PERSCOM refers to moving soldiers as “drug deals.” You do this for me and I’ll make sure your soldiers go home, etc.

What I’m wondering is if there are any checks and balances for those who are making decisions here?  Everyone keeps saying it is up in the air, including the personnel responsible for deciding who is going where. It feels as if every decision is off the cuff. In this situation there should be plans in place and decisions made before the rubber hits the road.

We are slowly becoming frantic.  I hear people saying they are going to begin hurting themselves or others if they can’t go home.  The helplessness our soldiers are feeling is indescribable, it is past the point of “suck it up and drive on.” We just want somewhere to drive on to.

Thank you for allowing me to bend your ear.

Sgt. Leanne Duffy is from Superior, Neb.

FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

Iraq: So, What Went Wrong?;

(Don’t Blame The Soldiers!)

By Michael Elliott, TIME Magazine | Special Report, 28 September 2003

Joe Fillmore, a contract translator with the 4th Infantry Division in Tikrit, agrees that resentment is deepening. Things may look better on the surface, he says, but there is a growing frustration with the occupation. “The town is divided into two parts,” he says. “Those who hate us and those who don’t mind us but want us to go.”

“There is a real nationalistic feeling here,” says a European diplomat who has worked in Baghdad for two years.  ”It is a real country, and it has a real national feeling that it is being occupied. And even if they don’t know who will lead them tomorrow, they don’t want to be occupied.”

Kasim al-Sahlani, a senior member of the Dawa Party, a moderate Islamic party that opposed Saddam from within, complains that Bremer said Iraqis were not yet ready to lead the country. “The Iraqis are civilized people,” he says, “but Paul Bremer’s words make us sound like children.”

Part of the difficulty is simply cultural. “If an Iraqi policeman stops someone on the street and asks them politely to do something,” says al-Janabi of the I.N.A, “that person will be ready to be a ring on the policeman’s finger. But if you shout at him like the Americans do and hurt his dignity—he will hate you.”

In Baghdad a U.S. special-forces officer sadly agrees. “We should have been culturally sensitive,” he says. In places like Fallujah, he argues, “we should never have gone into people’s houses. Saddam’s soldiers never went into houses—they would negotiate and settle things with money. We don’t understand how things work around here.”

That is an honest assessment, not an indictment.  There is not the slightest reason in the world why 19-year-old boys from Kansas and Kentucky should know how to deal with Iraqi sensitivities—to get Iraq right—and it is unfair to condemn them for failing to do so.  But it is not unfair to judge those who got Iraq wrong and thought five months ago that the mission of those young men, now hunkering down for a longer tour of duty than they ever expected, was over. It is not.

OCCUPATION REPORT

Chalabi Wants Iraqi Aid Money Control

By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer, 9.30.03

WASHINGTON – Iraq civilian leader Ahmed Chalabi wants more control over the $20.3 billion in U.S. reconstruction money that the Bush administration is seeking from Congress, the interim head of Iraq’s governing council said Tuesday.

The push by Chalabi and other governing council members for greater political and financial control has raised concerns among Bush administration officials reluctant to turn over billions of dollars to an unelected group.


HEY TROOPS, MEET THE SLEAZY PIG YOU’RE DYING FOR; Convicted bank embezzler, Rumsfeld buddy, and the interim President of Iraqs governing council, Ahmed Chalabi, demands Congress let him get his hands on some of the $20 billion “reconstruction money.” Sept. 30, 2003. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

“We would like to enhance the consultation process,” Chalabi said. The Iraqi Governing Council “would like to have more of a say on how the $20 billion is spent.”

Senior Bush administration officials have said repeatedly in recent days that they will not cede control of the money to a group of unelected officials. The governing council members were picked by Bremer’s coalition authority.

(Comment:   l.  They don’t even trust their own hand picked stooges.   2.  The Bush people object to “a group of unelected officials” getting their hands on serious money? Considering nobody elected Bush to anything, that’s really a supreme irony!)

Bremer Proposes To Rip Off “Allies” Kuwait and Saudi Arabia For Billions Owed By Iraq

Smh.com.au, September 28, 2003

Iraq should be able to net $US5 billion a year from oil revenue and tax receipts starting in 2005, the target date for restoring Iraqi oil production to its maximum prewar level, Paul Bremer told reporters at the Pentagon yesterday.

That money should be put towards the cost of rebuilding the country instead of international debt payments or Gulf War reparations,

Iraq already owes more than $US100 billion dollars in debt and war reparations.

Asked “who’s going to pay for that?” Bremer promptly replied: “Not the American taxpayer.”

“We are on record as saying that there needs to be a very substantial reduction in that debt,” he said.

And he hinted that war reparation payments to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for losses inflicted during the 1991 Gulf War should be dropped or reduced.

“I have to say that it is curious to me … that a country that poor should be required to pay reparations to countries whose per capita GDP is a factor of 10 times that, for a war which all of the Iraqis who are now in government opposed,” Bremer said.

“So I think there needs to be a very serious look at this whole reparations issue.”

ONLY 90 DAYS AGO

Death on the Road to Basra;

“I’m Tired Of This. All I Want To Do Is Go Back To My Family,” Soldier Says

Tristana Moore, BBC News, June 28, 2003

The women are crying, wailing for their lost child. The men hold them back. A child beats his head on the ground until it starts bleeding. The unmistakable smell of death lingers in the air.

“Look, this is going to get tense,” I overhear an American soldier telling one of his colleagues. “We have to get the body out of here.”

The US soldiers look nervous. They are wearing full body armour and carry rifles ready for action.

“We can’t take any chances,” one soldier tells me, sweating profusely.

I engage him in conversation. He tells me he is from New York, his name is Al and he is married with three children.

“I’ve been in the Gulf for five months and I’m tired of all of this” he says. “We have become a target now.  All I want to do is to go back to my family.”

As he is talking he scans the crowd that has surrounded us. He is a worried man.

‘Why?’

With grief comes anger and, soon, the young boy’s relatives are hurling abuse at the Americans.

They are Shia Muslims, persecuted by Saddam Hussein. After the war, many of them welcomed the coalition forces but now they blame the Americans.

“I thought they came here to protect us and give us security,” the dead boy’s mother says.

“Instead there’s death and more suffering.” She looks at the body of her son, which has been covered by a blanket. Tears run down her face. Another woman kneels down, she is frustrated.

“I can’t understand – why has this happened?” she asks.

A few minutes later, the boy’s father lifts the body into the boot of a car. The father is crying as he drives off to the hospital morgue.

My translator, Wissam, is furious.

“Why didn’t the Americans stop when they saw they’d run over the child?” he asks me.

Wissam takes off his baseball cap and angrily waves his arms at the American soldiers – some of them can only be around 18. They seem too young to be here.

As we finally drive on, my mind flashes back to the image of the little boy lying in the road and his relatives weeping inconsolably with a haunting expression in their eyes.

In losing their child, they have lost their faith in the foreign faces which occupy their land.

OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION

BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK

Vet Slams Democratic (More War) Party

From a piece written by Richard Hendrick, AJ Muste Chapt. Veterans For Peace, NH.. delivered before an audience at the Rolling Thunder Review last week in Manchester, NH…

YET NOT ONE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE HAS STOOD UP AND SAID IT IS A LIE THAT WE ARE AT WAR, THAT BUSH HAD NO JUSTIFICATION AND CERTAINLY NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO DECLARE IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.  THE BEST THEY CAN DO IS QUIBBLE WITH HOW THE SO-CALLED WAR IS BEING RUN. THIS IS A LOSING TACTIC.  WE WILL NOT SAVE OUR SOCIAL PROGRAMS AS LONG AS WE CONCEDE WAR; WE WILL NOT SAVE OUR CONSTITUTIONAL CIVIL LIBERTIES AS LONG AS WE ARE AT WAR.

What do you think?  Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome.  Send to the E-mail address up top.  Name, I.D., withheld on request.  Replies confidential.

Very Close Bush Buddies Trying To Rake Off Loot From $87 Billion Iraq Money

Douglas Jehl, New York Times, 30 September 2003  

A group of businessmen linked by their close ties to President Bush, his family and his administration have set up a consulting firm to advise companies that want to do business in Iraq, including those seeking pieces of taxpayer-financed reconstruction projects.

The firm, New Bridge Strategies, is headed by Joe M. Allbaugh, Mr. Bush’s campaign manager in 2000 and the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency until March. Other directors include Edward M. Rogers Jr., vice chairman, and Lanny Griffith, lobbyists who were assistants to the first President George Bush and now have close ties to the White House.

At a time when the administration seeks Congressional approval for $20.3 billion to rebuild Iraq, part of an $87 billion package for military and other spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, the company’s Web site calls attention to the links between the company’s directors and the two Bush administrations by noting, for example, that Mr. Allbaugh, the chairman, was “chief of staff to then-Gov. Bush of Texas and was the national campaign manager for the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign.”

White House press officers denied Tuesday that President Bush’s’ head has shrunk until it is smaller than his hand. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)  

AFGHANISTAN: THE FORGOTTEN WAR

U.S. Soldier Killed, 2 Injured In Clash With Resistance In Afghanistan

Canadian Press, September 30, 2003

A U.S. soldier was killed and two others wounded in a clash with suspected Taliban rebels in southeastern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Tuesday.

The clash took place Monday near a coalition base at Shkin, in Paktika province, near the border with Pakistan, spokesman Col. Rodney Davis said in a statement from Bagram Air Base, the U.S. military headquarters in Afghanistan.  Two enemy fighters were also killed, he said. “One coalition service member died of wounds received in combat and two others were wounded as a result of fighting on Monday near Shkin,” Davis said in a statement. “Coalition forces killed two enemy fighters with direct small arms fire.”

No other details of the fighting were immediately available.  Davis said the soldiers were not engaged in Mountain Viper, an ongoing operation in the south and east of the country to root out Taliban fighters.

Taliban fighters have dramatically stepped up operations in recent months.

The ability of the Taliban to organize such stiff resistance has raised concern over the ability of the government of U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai to bring order to his war-ravaged country. (DUH!)

Shkin and another coalition base to the north in Khost, both along the porous border with Pakistan, have come under near daily rocket attack, and skirmishes are also commonplace.

OCCUPATION PALESTINE

Israelis’ Despair Revealed In Annual Survey

By David Blair in Jerusalem, 30/09/2003,

Asked whether their children would enjoy a better future, 73 per cent replied “no”. Asked to describe their feelings about the country’s situation, 43 per cent said they were in “despair”.

There is little confidence in the ability of Mr Sharon to lift Israel out of crisis. Asked whether Mr Sharon is trustworthy, 49 per cent say “yes” and 50 per cent “no”.

CLASS WAR NEWS

Congress, President Have Worlds Best Health Care;

Workers Who Pay For It Don’t Have Shit

The Federal government says 43.6 million Americans lacked health insurance last year. That’s more than the population of the nation’s 24 smallest states plus the District of Columbia, an increase of 2.4 million people from 2001.

The size of the increase in the uninsured surprised many analysts, “Even in the mid-90's when the number if uninsured went up, it wasn’t going up this much,” says John Holahan, director of the health policy research center at the Urban Institute.

Health analysts attribute the increase to decisions by young, healthy workers to opt out of employer-sponsored health plans as employee contributions rise.  In addition, they say some younger workers couldn’t find jobs because of economic conditions.

Wall St. Journal 9.30.03

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