02/11/03 GI Special #125: Bush Opens New Mortuary


From: “Thomas F. Barton” thomasfbarton@earthlink.net

Bush Supports Troops;

Opens New Mortuary Center As Iraq Body Bag Flow Speeds Up

By K.L. Vantran, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2003 – Military officials this week opened a new $30 million mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs, which replaces a 48-year-old facility, is the Defense Department’s only stateside mortuary.

The 70,000-square-foot facility was built in little more than a year, said Falk,

(Just in time, too.  See next story:)

“The new building is state-of-the art,” said Meg Falk, director of the Defense Department’s Office of Family Policy.

Since 1955, the remains of more than 50,000 service members have arrived at Dover for identification and funeral preparations.

The mortuary staff prepares the remains of fallen U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, as well as government officials and their families stationed abroad in Europe and Southwest Asia.

Second Deadliest Day Of The Iraq War:

15 Soldiers Killed;

Iraq Insurgents Shoot Down Another U.S. Chopper

Nov. 2, 2003

FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) – A U.S. Chinook helicopter believed carrying dozens of soldiers to their leaves abroad was struck by a missile and crashed in corn fields west of Baghdad on Sunday, witnesses and U.S. officials said. At least 15 soldiers were killed and 21 injured, a coalition official said.

Meanwhile, other American soldiers were reported killed in ground attacks here and elsewhere in central Iraq.

In Abu Ghraib, on Baghdad’s western edge, U.S. troops clashed with townspeople Sunday for the second time in three days, and witnesses reported casualties among both the Americans and Iraqis.

Witnesses south of Fallujah, 40 miles west of the capital, said they saw two missiles fired at the helicopter, which came down near the village of Hasi, six miles to the south. Fallujah is a center of resistance to the U.S. occupation.

The U.S. military confirmed 16 dead and about 21 injured.

The helicopter was part of a formation of two Chinooks carrying more than 50 passengers to the U.S. base at the former Saddam International Airport, renamed Baghdad International.

``Our initial report is that they were being transported to BIA for rest and recreation leaves abroad, a U.S. command spokeswoman in Baghdad said.  She said at least some were coming from Camp Ridgeway, believed to be an 82nd Airborne Division base in western Iraq.

Witnesses said the second copter hovered over the down craft for some minutes and then set down, apparently to try to help extinguish a fire, but the downed copter was destroyed.

At least a half-dozen Black Hawk helicopters later hovered over the area, and dozens of soldiers swarmed over the site. Injured were still being evacuated at least two hours later.

Local villagers displayed blackened pieces of wreckage to arriving reporters, and in nearby Fallujah townspeople celebrated on the streets.  ``This was a new lesson from the resistance, a lesson to the greedy aggressors,’’ said one Iraqi, who wouldn’t give his name. ``They’ll never be safe until they get out of our country,’’ he said of the Americans.

Townspeople also reported a fresh attack on U.S. soldiers inside Fallujah, saying an explosion struck one vehicle in a convoy at about 9 a.m. Sunday. They claimed four soldiers died, but U.S. military sources said they couldn’t confirm the report.

In a separate incident, military sources said a soldier from the 1st Armored Division was killed just after midnight in an explosion in Baghdad.

In Abu Ghraib, local Iraqis said U.S. troops arrived Sunday morning and ordered people to disperse from the marketplace and remove what the Iraqis said were religious stickers from walls. Someone then tossed a grenade at the Americans, witnesses said, and the soldiers opened fire.  (Later, 500 Iraqis went to the nearest resistance recruiting station and signed up.)

The U.S. command said it had no immediate information, but Iraqi witnesses said they believed three or four Americans were killed and six to seven Iraqis were wounded.

The presence of the portable anti-aircraft missiles has represented a significant threat for military aircraft and raised concerns over the security of the few commercial flights in and out of Baghdad International Airport. The U.S.-led coalition has offered rewards of $500 apiece to Iraqis who turn them in.

The workhorse, 10-ton Chinook, which has a crew of four, is the military’s most versatile heavy-lift helicopter, used primarily for troop movements, transporting artillery and similar functions.

Two American Soldiers Killed In Mosul;

Pipeline Blown Up Again Right On Schedule

MSNBC NEWS SERVICES, BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 1

Saturday’s deadliest blow came in the north, in the city of Mosul, where the U.S. military said a makeshift roadside bomb exploded and killed two U.S. soldiers and wounded two others as they drove by in two civilian vehicles.

The bomb was detonated outside a police station in the northern city of Mosul as two U.S. vehicles drove past on Saturday. The Army’s 101st Airborne Division said two of its soldiers were killed and two wounded.

Some 100 miles north of Baghdad, near Tikrit, an explosion and fire struck an oil pipeline, a favorite target of the resistance saboteurs since oil is key to U.S. plans to rebuild Iraq’s economy and remake its politics.

In another incident Saturday, unconfirmed by the U.S. command, witnesses said insurgents attacked a U.S. convoy near Heet, 75 miles northwest of Baghdad, and one Iraqi was seen waving a piece of wrecked vehicle and shouting a pro-Saddam slogan. There was no word on casualties.

Meantime, a handful of U.N. foreign staff who had stayed in Baghdad left www.msnbc.com/news/986870.asp their bomb-shattered headquarters early in Saturday morning in a bus escorted by American soldiers in Humvees.

(NOTE ON FOLLOWING STORY: Odious Odierno, Commander of the 2nd Brigade, has been bragging about how quiet and pacified his part of Iraq is.  What a liar, as this story shows.  Compare the bullshit from his little stooge Major Pearl with the reality of what follows.  As usual, command is about politics, career and opportunism, not reality.)

(Army Times Headline:)

In Streets of Mosul, Danger Can Lurk Around Any Corner

November 03, 2003, By Gina Cavallaro, Army Time Staff Writer

MOSUL, Iraq — The U.S. soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), in Iraq expect to be attacked every day.

They try to protect themselves, but there is only so much they can do to stop the ambushes carried out with concealed, homemade bombs placed along the sides of roads or dropped from overpasses.

“We control Mosul,” said brigade operations officer Maj. Brian Pearl, 37, of Canton, Mo.  ”We have more helicopters than anybody else.”

At the brigade’s tactical operations center on the banks of the Tigris River, a 6-foot-by-8-foot black and white photo of the densely populated city is updated as reports of incidents come in. Color-coded stickers on the map’s plastic overlay tell the story of attacks against the coalition or any of the city’s 27 Iraqi police stations.

It didn’t take long to determine that the pattern of attacks was based on the travel patterns of U.S. Army vehicles. “There’s constant traffic on the roads between the palace and the airfield, the main supply routes,” said Capt. Daniel Morgan, 36, commander of the brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment.

The 101st has its headquarters in a former palace in the north sector of the city, where a helipad looks as busy as Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Hundreds of vehicles come and go from the division’s rear headquarters at an airfield in the south of the city, a hub for fixed-wing flights bringing in personnel and supplies and home to myriad support elements. Getting across this city of 2 million is one big traffic jam.

“They’re going to hit you where the vehicles get choked up,” Morgan said.

The attackers rarely get caught.  Their preferred weapon is what the Army calls improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, homemade contraptions that are either command-detonated with an electrical current or set off remotely through a cell phone or garage door opener.

The devices can be grenades, fertilizer or artillery rounds.  On Oct. 12, soldiers from 1st Battalion found a fake device, a can wrapped in plastic with an antenna sticking out of it, lying in a gutter.

“They fire from about a 30-degree angle,” Morgan said. “We recently found one buried in a pothole,” he said, explaining that those placed in the middle of the street are designed to blow up right under an Army vehicle instead of from the curb.

Attackers also direct small-arms fire from overpasses, and men pop out from crowded markets to lob grenades and quickly disappear.

“Two weeks ago we were downtown and a grenade was tossed at us.  It rolled across the hood of our Humvee. The spoon hit the gunner in the chest,” said 2nd Lt. Joseph Benevenuto, 23, of Rochester, N.Y., a platoon leader with 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment.

In a four-week period ending Oct. 11, attacks against the American troops averaged one a day. But in the same period, there were more than a dozen attacks on Iraqi police stations, which are considered soft targets. The Iraqi police also are thought to be more easily intimidated.

“We control Mosul,” said brigade operations officer Maj. Brian Pearl, 37, of Canton, Mo.  (Sure you do, when you’re not preoccupied kissing Odiernos’ ass.)

MORE

Pissing In The Wind

MOSUL, Iraq — It is late afternoon, but the sun still is high enough to raid the weapons market.

The soldiers have been briefed, their movements rehearsed and reviewed. The threat level has been assessed as low, and the rules have been laid down.

Battalion leaders acknowledge there is no real hope of forever eradicating the weapons market. In fact, it is believed the dealers simply have moved elsewhere, perhaps into a zone that another brigade of the 101st may be responsible for.

Night Life, Ain’t No Good Life;

For These 4th ID Soldiers, Sunset Brings Out Enemies And Hostile Fire

November 03, 2003, By Gina Caballaro, Army Times staff writer

Balad, Iraq — They’ve been attacked more than 200 times since July, when they arrived in this town 50 miles north of Baghdad — mostly at night.

They know tonight will be no different.

The 18 soldiers move out in a convoy of seven vehicles — two Humvees, two Bradley fighting vehicles, two scout vehicles and a BMW sedan confiscated earlier this night from a suspected weapons dealer. They travel along a well-worn main supply route they call “Linda.”

Lights out, they drive through a stark landscape turned surreal through the optics of night-vision goggles. Everyone knows that hostile forces hide and wait in the shadows.  They know the bad guys will attack them; the soldiers of 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment know that this could be the night they die.

The thing they fear the most is a bomb planted on the road, but rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and small-arms fire are all a clear and present danger.

The 1-8 soldiers just wish they knew where the hell it was going to come from this time.

In an instant, they find out, as they pass a mosque with an outdoor light that silhouettes the convoy, betraying their position.

Kaboom!

An RPG round, fired from a cluster of trees in the distance on the other side of the road, sails between vehicles at the front of the convoy.

Kaboom!

A second RPG round sails over the vehicles and explodes into the side of the mosque, punching a hole in the wall.

The shooting stops.  The rotors of two Apache attack helicopters chop overhead.  Two Bravo Company platoons have arrived in support. the 1-8 soldiers feel confident they have killed the men who wanted to kill them.  But not having illumination flares on hand prevents easy confirmation of the kills or the whereabouts of their attackers.

The soldiers must finish this job:  Confirm the kills or hunt down their escaped attackers. But a wide, 10-foot-deep irrigation canal separates them from the attackers’ position in the field.

Their quick response to the RPGs boosts everyone’s confidence that they got their attackers. They expect to find them dead in the field or hiding in nearby farmhouses.

The soldiers spend 90 minutes scouring the field and searching eight farmhouses, but they find no bodies, no weapons, no trails of blood.

They’re ordered to return.  Back at the vehicles, Sassaman, frustrated at the lack of cooperation from locals, nevertheless concludes that three men who were detained at a house near the attack can be released.

If the attackers had been killed in the counterattack, evidence of that will have to wait until daylight. With headlights off, the string of tactical vehicles rolls again, bound for headquarters about six miles away, escorted by the Apaches from 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment.

Not all the ambushes experienced by the men of 1-8 have been so bloodless. Thirteen in the unit have been wounded; some lost limbs.  But no one has been killed.

The 1-8 troops live in a barricaded former youth center, waiting for mortar attacks that come regularly.  They know it is inevitable that when they leave their front gate, they will be attacked.

TROOP NEWS

Rolling Coffins Deployed

Washington State Stryker Brigade Off To Iraq;

Army Admits Troops Riding In It Will Be Easily Killed By RPGs

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 31, 2003

As friends and families gathered on the Fort Lewis parade ground to send the 4,000-member Stryker infantry brigade to war, 4,000 more Washington-based National Guard troops prepared to do the same.

As the ceremonies took place, Maj. Gen. Timothy Lowenberg, commander of the state’s National Guard based just across the highway at Camp Murray, received orders that his 81st Armored Brigade is to be mobilized to begin training for Iraq on Nov. 15.

Army Times (Sept. 29, 2003, p. 18) reports that the troops riding in the Stryker can expect immediate death in Iraq, since the vehicle is faulty.

Even were it not equipped with giant unprotected tires, easily disabled, the armor fails to stop machine gun bullets.

In an outstanding investigative report by Army Times Staff Writer Matthew Cox, we learn:  ”Contractors are busy attaching steel plates to about 5,800 of the same Strykers’ ceramic armor plates, which failed to stop 14.5mm machine-gun fire during recent tests.”

The Army Times story goes on:

“The wheeled, armored vehicle’s strength lies in its ability to arrive on the battlefield via C-130 aircraft for rapid deployment, but its light-weight armor is capable of stopping nothing heavier than 14.5mm rounds.  (Assuming they fix the plates the greedy defense contractor fucked up.)

Even that capability came into question in August during tests at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., when several faulty ceramic plates were discovered.

In tests that began Aug. 30, at Aberdeen, 27 of 39 types passed and seven failed. Another five were so close in design and production method to the seven that had failed that the Army assumed they would fail as well, Maj. Gary Tallman, a Pentagon spokesman, said.

These 12 configurations make up about 5,800 of the 40,788 ceramic tiles on the 3rd Brigade’s 309 Stryker vehicles.

(That, however, is the good news.)

The Army has been working on an add-on armor that would give the vehicle protection against rocket-propelled grenade fire, but it is still in development. (!!)

Concern heightened when the Army announced the Stryker brigade would deploy to Iraq sometime in October.

“Because of the high RPG threat [in Iraq] we have got to give these guys some protection,” said Col. Charles Betack, Training and Doctrine Command’s system manager for Stryker at Fort Benning, Ga., describing how the slat armor works.  ”It catches the kinetic energy, making the weapon ineffective.”

In other words, the armor is designed to catch and detonate the incoming projectile with horizontal slats, keeping most of the explosion away from the Stryker.

“This is only good 50% of the time,” he said, explaining that an anti-armor RPG can penetrate the slat armor of it hits one of the steel rods directly.  An RPG can then punch through the rest of the Stryker.

“It’s 50% better than nothing.”

(Are you getting this, Styker soldier?  If they hit you with TWO RPGs, ONE of them will get you.  That’s what 50% means.)

About 20 sets of the slat armor have been shipped to Forth Lewis, Washington, and attached to some vehicles, and some 3rd Brigade soldiers are learning how to adjust to driving with the extra weight and width.  

The slat armor adds about 4,200 pounds to the Stryker.  (So much for maneuverability. Elderly Iraqi resistance fighters in wheelchairs can catch and kill it.  If this thing is actually shipped from Washington to Iraq, the officer responsible merits a firing squad.)

(Sorry, that’s way too strong.  There is good news.)

While Strykers still will be at some risk (”some”? Didn’t he say 50%?) Betack pointed out that they have a better chance of surviving an RPG hit than the Bradley fighting vehicles in Iraq, which went into combat without an armor package.

(Only a chair-borne Colonel would consider that “good news.”  Corporate managers wearing funny-looking suits and calling themselves “officers” are unfit to associate with human beings.)

Senior leaders chose not to mount the heavy, reactive armor on the Bradley to maintain speed and mobility.  The special armor, however, was available in Iraq.  (Firing Squad #2 for these “senior leaders.”)

(Sorry again, way too strong again.  Here’s the best news of all!!):

Despite the weaknesses of the slat armor, Betack said he was confident that the tactics the Stryker units employ will help make up the difference.  ”If they go into an area they are unfamiliar with, they put the infantry out first,” he said.”

Thoughtful Comment On This Story

There’s another solution that might help. Lets tie down Betack and lots of other “senior officers” to the sides of each Stryker as soon as they exit the C130’s.  After all, the whole of Iraq is going to be “unfamiliar territory.”   Then it won’t be so necessary to kill so many infantry that get “put outside first,” although, on second thought, outside a Stryker might be the safest place to be.

Anyhow, if we run out of “senior officers” to armor the sides of the Stykers, there’s an absolute abundance of defense contractors, Senators, members of the House of Representatives, and corporate lobbyists of all kinds who certainly will be delighted to help defend the troops riding in these worthless deathtraps, right?)

NEWS FLASH:  Secretary Of Defense Donald Rumsfeld today officially denied that the Stryker vehicle is designed and sold to the Army by “Saddam Hussein remnants.”

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/

Democrats and Republicans Shovel Out Billions To Enrich Capitalists But Refuse To Act On Soldiers Death Benefits

November 03, 2003, By Rick Maze, Army Times staff writer

Military and Foreign Service associations have joined forces with Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, in a campaign aimed at shaming House Republican leaders into passing a military tax-reform bill.

“Sitting on this bill is indefensible,” Edwards said. “I would be offended to even try to defend what’s happening. It is shameful the Congress hasn’t acted.”

The military tax-reform bill has languished for more than a year while Congress passed a broader $350 billion tax-reduction bill and began work on a $60 billion corporate tax-cut package.

The provision getting the most attention is the death gratuity. Under current law, half of the $6,000 payment is subject to income tax, and half is tax-free. The dual status originated when Congress doubled the benefit in 1991 at the end of the Persian Gulf War but did not change the tax code.

Edwards believes that if the Senate proposal came to a vote in the House, it would pass. “I’d like to see the member of Congress who would vote in the light of day for Benedict Arnold over service members,” he said.  

(Benedict Arnold used to be America’s most famous traitor. Until Bush. Exaggeration?  Well, what would you call using the government to kill U.S. soldiers in an unjustified war for private profits?)

IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP

Burying The Hatchet (In Bush’s Head):

Sunni-Shiite Alliance Emerging;

“Imperialist Project” Failing

The Daily Star, 11.1.03, Ed Blanche, a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London

It is difficult to verify these claims, but it is clear that Sunni and Shiite militants are increasingly finding common cause against the US and its principal Middle Eastern ally, Israel. While there are deep differences between the two Muslim sects, which have flared into violence, as in Pakistan today, the perceived threat to Islam from the US since Sept. 11, has eroded those differences.

It is ironic that the US invasion of Iraq may be the instrument that pushes Sunni and Shiite together. An emerging alliance of Shiites and Sunnis in postwar Iraq may be the path to stability and the answer to the Americans’ inept efforts to end the chaos they engendered when they deposed Saddam’s brutal regime.

Despite the escalating guerrilla war against the Americans, so far, at least, there has been no manifestation of the bloodbath between the long-repressed Shiites, who comprise some 60 percent of Iraq’s 24 million population, and the minority Sunnis who dominated Saddam’s regime that many had feared would happen once the war ended.

Indeed, two key leaders of the rival sects, the firebrand Shiite preacher Muqtada al-Sadr and the charismatic Ahmed Kubeisi of the Sunnis, have come together to oppose the US occupation and both command considerable grassroots support from their coreligionists.   Both have preached unity among Sunnis and Shiites and both have run afoul of the Americans, who view the alliance between the two clerics with considerable concern and dismay and have blocked both from sitting on the US-appointed 25-member Governing Council of Iraq.

An indication of the alliance between Sadr and Kobeisi has been slogans that have recently appeared in mosques linked to them that read: “No Sunni. No Shiite. Only Islam.”

“It is this unholy alliance of secular Arab nationalism of Saddam’s Iraq, the Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalism of Saudi Arabia and Western imperialism with its massive media resources that has created the present perception of a vast Shiite-Sunni divide,” according to Islamic analyst Sultan Shahin.

“The fact that the widely predicted Shiite backlash against the decades-long Sunni domination of Iraq has not materialized may mean that the imperialist project of divide and rule has not succeed in that country, at least so far,” he wrote recently.

“Now it is for the Shiites and Sunnis in other parts of world to build on the Iraqi example and seek to bridge the gulf separating the two sects promote harmony and peace undeterred by the bigotry of extremists and the machinations of imperialist powers.”

(For more on the politics of the Iraqi resistance, see www.isreview.org.)

Only 15% Of Iraqis See US As “Liberator”

A recent poll by an Iraq research center showed fewer than 15% of Iraqis see U.S. forces as liberators, down from a tepid 43% six months ago. That’s an ominous sign that popular discontent over a prolonged occupation could cause anti-U.S. attacks to snowball.  The Independent, UK, Oct. 29, 2003, Ivan Eland

FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

Will the Real Foreign Fighters in Iraq Please Stand Up?

By Rami Khouri, Pacific News Service, October 29, 2003

My vote for the Strange Statement of the Week Award goes to Brigadier General Mark Hertling, deputy commander of the First Armored Division of the U.S. Army, stationed in Iraq. The general told reporters that the coordinated bombings in Baghdad on Oct. 27 were the work of “foreign fighters.”

In his Oct. 28 press conference, President Bush, too, blamed “foreign terrorists” for the devastating suicide bombings in Baghdad.

It’s as if both the Brigadier General and President Bush were favorite sons of Tikrit, raised on date palms and memories of the ancient era of ruler Haroon al-Rashid, a golden age. The general, especially, should get the award for the sheer audacity and haughty self-indulgence as a foreign fighter in Iraq blaming other foreign fighters for the violence there.

The Americans in Iraq, like the Israelis in Gaza, want the world to believe that evil people who hate goodness, democracy and freedom are waging a campaign against them, which must be stamped out with force. In this view, evil emanates unilaterally from twisted minds and manifests itself in the form of terror attacks such as we witness in Iraq.

The rest of the world is not buying this line, because it is the sort of lying that our parents taught us to resist,

It notes that occupation, resistance, and assorted degrees of terror (by sovereign states and non-state groups) occur in a linear manner:  Occupation breeds resistance.

Washington arrogantly portrays the choice in Iraq as either the evil of Saddam Hussein or the promise of security of Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator of Iraq.  This, too, the world is not buying.  The reality is not so black and white, regardless of how comfortable the White House is with such simple-mindedness. His paint-and-think-by-numbers approach to the world has unraveled before the realities on the ground.

OCCUPATION REPORT

Bremer Follies Roll On;

Bush Wants No Free Election In Iraq

“Mr. Aabadi (friend of the “Governing” Council) cites an example of how his work as communications minister is complicated by the occupation.  Every day, he sends out armed security teams to repair fiber optic cables that saboteurs have been cutting.  His men, he says, are often disarmed, abused and humiliated by American soldiers who patrol the capital.”

“You cannot blame anyone,” Mr. Aabadi says.  ”The soldiers are doing their job.  The workers are doing their job.  But you can’t run a country with a professional army in the streets.”

“Bremer wants to do everything himself—I mean they call him king over there,” said Mudhar Shawkat, a senior member of Mr. Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress.”

“Some senior American and British officials say privately that they are concerned that if an election was held today, a Shiite Muslim cleric might well dominate the polling on the strength of the 60 percent Shiite share of the population.”  (New York Times 9.27.03)

(So, Bush keeps the army there to prevent a free, democratic election.   How’s that for liberation?)

OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION

BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

Windfalls Of War;

The Greatest Looting In History

By Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity.

More than 70 American companies and individuals have won up to $8 billion in contracts for work in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two years.  Those companies contributed more money to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush—more than $500,000—than to any other politician over the last dozen years.

Kellogg, Brown & Root, the subsidiary of Halliburton—which Vice President Dick Cheney led prior to being chosen as Bush’s running mate in August 2000—was the top recipient of federal contracts for the two countries, with more than $2.3 billion awarded to the company.  Bechtel Group, a major government contractor with similarly high-ranking ties, was second at around $1.03 billion.

Nearly 60 percent of the companies had employees or board members who either served in or had close ties to the executive branch for Republican and Democratic administrations, for members of Congress of both parties, or at the highest levels of the military.

Most of the companies that won contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan are political players. According to the Center’s analysis, the companies, their political action committees and their employees contributed a total of nearly $49 million to national political campaigns and parties since 1990. Donations to Republican Party committees—the Republican National Committee, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee—outpaced those to Democratic committees, 12.7 million to $7.1 million.

Regarding another situation, an Afghanistan contractor in Nebraska bluntly told us that efficiency and quality are secondary to politics in the process of selecting companies and organizations to work in that country, “It depends on who knows who in the Administration, USAID and the State Department.”

Frankly, what surprised us the most was the Keystone Kops, rank amateur nature of the government contracting process. Federal officials sent us documents affixing a contract amount at $600 million and then months later told us, oops, it was actually $600,000. We are only talking about primary contractors here.

Because of the paucity of disclosure requirements for subcontractors, we were unable to examine them in any systematic way, and it was not clear how much of the postwar Iraq and Afghanistan business they actually hold. USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios has said that more than 50 percent of the money that goes to contractors actually ends up with subcontractors.

A few times, when the government stiffed us, we found that the companies actually had bragged about landing the contracts on their Web sites or to investors in the industry trade press. We would then forward this useful information to federal officials, and lo and behold, they suddenly found the contracts.

This is all outrageous. We are talking about the expenditure of billions of dollars in taxpayer money. As Americans, we have a right to know how our hard-earned money is spent. When American soldiers are at risk or worse, are being killed, the stunning incompetence and deliberate stonewalling become even more offensive and unacceptable.

DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK

War Candidate Kucinich For Different Occupation Army &

More Death Until It Happens

The Rolling Stone Interview, Nov. 13, 2003

Kucinich: “My plan is this:  Let the U.S. get out, but with these terms.  First of all, the U.N. handles all the oil revenues.”

Number two: The U.N. handles all the contracts.”

He says Iraq will “keep breaking down until the U.N. gets in fully, with the members providing troops.”

“And the U.N. has to handle the cause of building a new government, which is not a puppet government of the United States.”

COMMENT:

First, the obvious.  Kucinich is for more U.S. occupation, more dead U.S. soldiers, more dead Iraqi resistance fighters, and more dead Iraqi civilians.

If he weren’t for more death in Iraq, he would simply say, “Bring the troops home now, no conditions of any kind.”  Every minute they stay they kill and die.  That is what Kucinich is for.  More war, more death, until his conditions are met.

When his conditions are met, he is for more military occupation of Iraq, more war and more death, under the dictatorship of a U.N. invading army.  

Eliminating the hypocritical spin,  the message is simple: fuck the Iraqis.  They’ll take UN troops and take what the U.N. decides their government will be whether they want them or not.  Why should they have anything to say about it?  Just because UN Sanctions killed a million of them over the past 10 years is no reason for them to whine about their rights to determine their own future.  Vote For Kucinich And Let Others Do The Killing For You.  Wow, a real man of principle.

Removing any doubt that he will be serve corporations (capitalism) well, he says “And that I would expect to have a very cooperative relationship with American business.  Matter of fact, I think my presidency would be good for them, because I would help restore a sense of ethics in the economy.”  

Of course he has no chance whatever to be nominated.  Nomination is done by big money, and big money couldn’t care less about his fantasies.

The tragedy is that he pulls good people into the Democratic Party sewer behind him as he falls into irrelevance, who forget that people in motion make politics on the ground.  

Iraq Business Deals May Be Invalid, Law Experts Warn;

Bush Plan Just Old Fashioned Felony Murder

Thomas Catán, Financial Times/UK, October 30th, 2003

The US-led provisional authority in Iraq may be breaking international law by selling state assets, experts have warned, raising the prospect that contracts signed now by foreign investors could be scrapped by a future Iraqi government.

“Is what they are doing legitimate, is it legal?” asked Juliet Blanch, a partner at the London-based international law firm Norton Rose. “Most [experts] believe that their actions are not legal”, she said. “There would be no requirement for a new government to ratify their [actions].”

International law obliges occupying powers to respect laws already in force in a country “unless absolutely prevented” from doing so.

According to international law experts, that throws doubt on the legality of the CPA’s September 19 order opening the Iraqi economy to foreign investment.

In what amounted to a blueprint for transforming Iraq into a market economy, Order 39 permitted full foreign ownership of a wide range of state-owned Iraqi assets, barring natural resources such as oil.

However, such sweeping economic reform may not be legal, as the UK government was privately warned by its chief law officer in the first days of the war. In his private advice, later leaked to the press, Lord Goldsmith wrote that “the imposition of major structural economic reforms would not be authorized by international law.”

However, international experts say foreign investors could face a wide range of legal problems in Iraq.  Not least is the fact that Order 39 is “strictly contrary to the Iraqi constitution,” according to Stephen Nelson, a partner at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, speaking before the conference on Monday.

Indeed, the Iraqi constitution – which cannot legally be altered without the consent of the Iraqi people – contains a wide range of other provisions that could be highly troublesome for foreign investors.

Iraqi law bans private ownership of “national” resources or “the basic means of production”. It also prohibits foreign ownership of real estate or the establishment of companies in Iraq by non-Arab foreigners.

The CPA has yet to announce what will become of pre-existing contracts, many of which are held by Russian, Chinese and French companies.

However, international law experts have said they could be enforced, raising the possibility that contracts with the ousted regime might be more enforceable than those signed with the CPA.

COMMENT:

(So, The Bush Regime plan is to sell Iraqi stuff they don’t own, pocket the money, and run.  Then the buyer gets fucked as soon as an independent Iraqi government gets power and takes the stuff back.  ”Hey, go sue Bush, he’s got your money.”  

In most legal jurisdictions, this is called a “con game,” punishable by a few years in prison.  When it involves killing people like U.S. soldiers and Iraqis to get the game going, it’s called felony murder.)

House of “Representatives” Votes To Allow War-Profiteering

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 /U.S. Newswire/ — The final version of the $87 billion spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan is missing provisions the Senate had passed to penalize war profiteers who defraud American taxpayers. House negotiators on the package refused to accept the Senate provisions.

It was one of the last major sticking points this week as negotiators worked through the compromise appropriations bill. The conferees narrowly defeated the amendment after lengthy debate, with House negotiators offering no substitute and no willingness to compromise, despite repeated offers from Senate conferees to negotiate the language.

“The least we can do is prevent private companies from taking advantage of the American Government, its people, and the men and women who are risking their lives every day” said Senator Feinstein.

“When the Senate Appropriations Committee considered this supplemental request, Senators Leahy, Feinstein, and I joined together to criminalize war profiteering — price gouging and fraud — with the same law that was passed during World War II. Yet this amendment, was stripped out of the final bill,” said Senator Durbin.

“I fail to understand how anyone can be opposed to prosecuting those who want to defraud and overcharge the United States government and the American taxpayers.”

(Senator Durbin is obviously dumber than a box of rocks. He “fails to understand” that the Bush Buddies raking off billions would go to prison if this passes?)

Alzheimer’s Rumor Denied As Rumsfeld Confuses Afghanistan With Iraq;

Thinks Russian Flag Is Rumanian Flag;

Knows No Mojo

Simon Jeffery and agencies, October 31, 2003, The Guardian

Shortly after the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, confused Afghanistan with Iraq at a news conference, the US embassy in Bucharest had to apologise to the president of Romania, Ion Iliescu, for the Pentagon decorating his table with a Russian flag when he lunched with Mr Rumsfeld earlier this week.

Scheduled to join Nato in May next year and a member of the US-led coalition of the willing in Iraq, Romania is one of Washington’s firmest European allies but in the past it was in Moscow’s orbit.

Romania’s influential Evenimentul Zilei newspaper poked fun at the mistake. Alongside a photograph of the lunch, clearly showing Russian and US flags intertwined in the space between Mr Rumsfeld and Mr Iliescu, ran the headline “Memories are coming back to haunt me”, the Associated Press reported.

Romanian officials moved quickly to play down the incident.  ”I don’t believe that anyone can imagine that Mr Rumsfeld doesn’t know who he is meeting,” Mr Iliescu’s spokeswoman told reporters.  (For sale: Brooklyn Bridge.  Send check to GI Special.)

In yesterday’s gaffe, Mr Rumsfeld answered a question from a journalist on warlords in Afghanistan by talking about Kurdish peshmerga fighters in Iraq until it was pointed out that that was a different country.

“Oh, I’m sorry … I was thinking of Iraq. No wonder I couldn’t understand it,” he explained.

He did however concede with a chuckle that the two countries were “close”.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld demonstrates he can hold up both hands in a coordinated fashion.  Rumsfeld aids scoffed at rumors the he is suffering from early Alzheimer’s disease, blaming them on Secretary of State Colin Powel or possibly Saddam Hussein remnants.. The rumors began to circulate following the Secretary’s’ utterance of a several particularly witless comments.  (Jim Ruymen photo)

Mr Rumsfeld was also forced to admit at the same briefing that he was unsure whether he had lost his mojo, largely because he did not know what it was.

(Los Angeles Times, October 31, 2003)  Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he does not know whether or not he has lost his mojo, as Time magazine suggested, because he doesn’t know what mojo is.  ”I guess the answer is that beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.  I don’t know enough about mojo to know,” Rumsfeld said in response to a question by a reporter.

OCCUPATION PALESTINE

Israeli Army Has New Secret Weapon:

Bullet Wound That Moves

Unarmed Palestinian Shot and Killed in West Bank

Israeli military says it fired warning shots at 23-year-old Mohammed Hamad Saturday and struck him in the leg when he didn’t stop at a security roadblock. The military says it treated him for the wound and then sent him in a taxi to the hospital. But hospital officials say the man was shot in the chest and killed.

Bush Copies Israeli Lies

November 01, 2003, By: Uri Avnery

In the Six-Day War, hundreds of Israeli soldiers were murdered while storming the Sinai desert, the West Bank and the Golan heights .

In the Yom-Kippur War, more than 2000 Israeli soldiers were murdered in the defense of the conquered territories.

In the 18 year long Lebanon War, more than a thousand Israeli soldiers were murdered while conquering and occupying South Lebanon .

They would have been surprised to learn that they were “murdered”.  Perhaps they would have been insulted.  After all, they were not helpless Jews in the ghetto who were killed during a pogrom by drunken Cossacks.  They fell as soldiers in war.

Now we are back in the ghetto.  Again we are poor, fearful Jews.  Even when we are in uniform.  Even when we are armed to the teeth.  Even when we have tanks, airplanes, missiles and the nuclear option.  Alas, we are murdered.

The application of the verb “murder” to combat soldiers who fall in action is a semantic novelty of the present intifada in the Sharon era.  It was very conspicuous last week, in the wake of two military incidents.

In the Palestinian village of Ein Yabroud, three soldiers were ambushed and killed. Their job was to safeguard the road to the nearby settlement Ofra, north of Ramallah.  On the way back, three Palestinian fighters lay in wait for them, killing three and wounding one. The attackers got away.

A classic guerilla engagement.  Not terrorism.  Not an attack on civilians.  The action of guerilla fighters against armed soldiers in an occupied area. If it had involved German soldiers in France or French soldiers in Algeria, nobody would have dreamed of saying that they were “murdered”.  But on our television, military correspondents talked of the three being “murdered” by “terrorists”.

A few days later, an even more shocking event took place.  One single Palestinian fighter cut through the fence of Netzarim settlement in the Gaza Strip, entered a military camp and killed three soldiers – one male, two female.  He was pursued and killed.

In connection with this event, too, the military correspondents said on TV, without blinking, that the three were “murdered” by “terrorists” in a “terrorist” action.

Murder?  Terrorism?  Against soldiers in uniform?  Inside a fortified settlement?

CLASS WAR NEWS

“Recovery” For The Rich

New York Times, By Lynette Clemetson, 9.27.03

If the economy is on its way to recovery, it is not evident to Robert Giboney in Mexico, Mo.

“I don’t see nothing getting any better around here, Mr. Giboney, 59, a former union worker said.  ”It might be getting better for the rich people.  They might be trying to make like they are helping us.  But round here, seems nobody has a chance left.”

To make ends meet, Mr. Giboney and his wife, Joyce, have dipped into the $40,000 in savings that they managed to put away over the years.  The sum has dwindled, they said, to almost nothing.

The couple’s son Rick, 31, the youngest of their three children, lost his factory job in July, when the wire factory where he worked closed.

Rick and Sherry Giboney received $800 from the Bush tax cuts.

“But I wouldn’t have wanted it if I’d known it would have come back to bite me in the butt later,” he said.  ”And I know some people struggling with four children who didn’t even get anything at all, because they didn’t make enough.”

His father jumped in and said: “I don’t mind paying taxes, long as I have a job with decent pay coming in.  What good is getting a few hundred bucks, when you don’t have a paycheck to go with it?”

Received:

From: “Information Clearing House “ Date: 1 Nov 2003 Subject: 10/31/03 ICH News

This is a copy of an email a reader received from a soldier buddy:

“I am in that unit that they talk about at Ft. Stewart. It is worse than they say it is and when the brass came around to see the barracks they were shown the good ones that have air conditioning and other comforts.

They were NOT shown the ones where about 80% of us stay where there is no indoor plumbing, nor air conditioning.  Also, the bed matresses are infested with chiggars, mold, and all are just plain dirty.  They are open bays with about 18 inches between bunks and no lockers to secure your private gear. It is that bad. I lived it.”

I withheld the name to protect the identity.  Thought you might like to know…

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