30/11/03 GI SPECIAL #146: NY 18 Refuse Iraq Duty


From: "Thomas F. Barton" thomasfbarton@earthlink.net

BRING THEM BACK HOME TOO


The sun sets as a Spanish soldier sits at his machinegun gun guarding a helicopter landing zone in central Iraq.(AFP/File/Thomas Coex)

Army Reservist Accused Of Insubordination Only One Of Eighteen Refusing Iraq Deployment
By BEN DOBBIN, Associated Press Writer, Nov 28

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- Capt. Steve McAlpin, a 25-year Army reservist, spent most of last year deployed in Afghanistan and just returned home in January.  Now his unit is about to ship out again, and he's facing insubordination charges for criticizing the quick turnaround.

McAlpin questioned the legality of a waiver that his battalion was asked to sign that would put his unit back in a combat zone after just 11 months at home. Under federal law, he pointed out, troops are allowed a 12-month "stabilization period."

About a dozen other officers refused to sign the waiver, as well as four enlisted soldiers called to redeploy, McAlpin said.

On Wednesday, members of his 401st Civil Affairs Battalion are being deployed for duty overseas, but McAlpin likely won't be among them. A memorandum this week notified him that he was being removed from the 401st's battle roster, and he said he could also face other punishment, including a court martial and losing rank.

The memorandum sent Wednesday commands McAlpin to clear up his affairs at the unit by Monday, when it bans him from battalion grounds. It also transfers him to the Individual Ready Reserves, whose soldiers can be called up in the event of a national emergency.

Instead of signing the reprimand document, McAlpin attached a note of protest, stating his performance evaluations have been excellent and that his record shows "no pattern of incompetence." He also plans to meet with a military attorney.

"We signed up to fight our nation's enemies and we are fully prepared to do that. But if they're going to usurp the laws of this country at the expense of our most precious asset, our soldiers, then I will not stand for that, not for a minute."

McAlpin served in Bosnia in 1996. Last year, while stationed at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, he was a liaison to local warlords, coordinated humanitarian relief supplies and organized an English-language teaching program.

"I'm looking at something I love more than just about anything – my service to the Army and my fellow soldiers - and they're trying to stab me in the back," McAlpin said.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, "we need every soldier we can muster," but he said the military should also "honor soldiers that have gone already" by giving them "a break from the hazards of combat."

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IRAQ WAR REPORTS:

Seven Spanish Intelligence Agents Killed

By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA & NIKO PRICE The Associated Press November 29

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Assailants ambushed a team of Spanish intelligence officers Saturday, firing rocket-propelled grenades and rifles at their SUVs and killing seven agents in a bloody new attack on U.S. allies in Iraq.

One Spanish agent escaped the assault in Mahmudiyah, 18 miles south of Baghdad, Spanish Defense Minister Federico Trillo said in Madrid.

Television footage of the aftermath of the ambush showed several bodies along a highway as cars, their headlights on, drove by at dusk.  People milled around, and a youth - apparently aware he was being filmed - kicked his foot in the air over a body.  An older youth rested his foot on a corpse, an arm raised in triumph.

The two civilian four-wheel-drive vehicles were traveling south from Baghdad to the city of Hillah, according to Capt. Ivan Morgan, a spokesman for a multinational division in southern Iraq.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a reporter for The Washington Post who saw the aftermath of the attack at around 5 p.m., spoke with several witnesses in the crowd. Based on what they said, he described it as a "sophisticated, coordinated attack."

One or two cars with Saddam loyalists were following the Spanish team, the witnesses told him. Near the site, they opened fire on the SUVs, forcing the lead vehicle off the road. "A second band of attackers laying in wait opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikovs," he said.

The first car caught on fire, and a 20-minute gun battle ensued, he said, based on the witness accounts.

The man who escaped slipped out of the second vehicle, made it some distance away and hitched a ride in a passing car, they said.

Chandrasekaran said he saw five bodies - three on northbound lane, two on the median - and was told there were two more in one of the cars, which was burning.  He said a crowd of about 100 people gathered, and added he saw people kicking the bodies.

"It was hostility mixed with jubilation," he said. "There was a real display of anger and emotion that exceeded what I've seen in other attacks on coalition forces."

A cameraman for Sky News, Adam Murch, said the crowd appeared hostile and the journalists were forced to leave.

The Defense Ministry said three helicopters of Spain's Plus Ultra Brigade went to the area to evacuate survivors.

MORE:
By Luke Baker BAGHDAD (Reuters) November 30

A Reuters television crew at the attack scene about 28 miles from Baghdad filmed a burned-out vehicle surrounded with spent shell casings and scattered bits of flesh.

A cameraman from Britain's Sky News television said in Baghdad after he and Sky reporter David Bowden had stumbled across the ambush on the Spaniards near Hilla:

"The lead vehicle was very burned and the second vehicle was burned.

"People said they were CIA. Maybe they did not know they were Spanish..Two Iraqi policemen on motorcycles drove by and did not stop at all at the scene."

"There was a lot of traffic. There was one Iraqi youth standing with his foot on one of the bodies. Some of the men were wearing chequered Arab scarves across their faces.”


Iraqi's celebrate over the bodies of killed members of a Spanish military intelligence team on a street, south of Baghdad Nov 29, 2003. (AP Photo/Sky News)

Two Japanese Officials Killed;

Occupation Has Lost Control Of Tikrit At Night
By Masayuki Kitano, November 30, sg.news.yahoo.co

TOKYO (Reuters) - Two Japanese who may have been diplomats have been killed in an apparent ambush near Tikrit, north of Baghdad, a Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman says, citing information received from Japan's Iraq embassy.

A non-Japanese driver was also injured in the attack the spokesman, Hatsuhisa Takashima, told Reuters.  "There is a good possibility they are Japanese diplomats," he said.

The news is likely to complicate efforts by Japan, one of the closest United States allies in Asia, to decide when to send non-combat troops to help rebuild Iraq, with voters already growing increasingly nervous about the dangers involved.

Takashima said that the car in which the two Japanese were traveling had been identified as a black, four-wheel-drive armoured car, Lebanon registered.

"That identification resembles (a vehicle) of the Japanese embassy in Baghdad," he said, adding that the embassy was collecting further information and that the bodies of the two Japanese were now in a hospital in Tikrit.

"Unfortunately, it is night right now and because the area of Tikrit is not safe, they cannot move at the moment.

“As soon as the sun rises this morning, the Japanese embassy will dispatch someone to Tikrit," he added.

TROOP NEWS

To General Sanchez, Most Dead U.S. Soldiers Since Invasion Mean

It’s Been A “Great Two Weeks”
By Phil Reeves in Baghdad, 30 November 2003, independent.co.uk

Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez insisted that the last fortnight, in which US forces have been conducting a military offensive against Iraqi guerrillas has been a "great two weeks" for the US-led coalition forces and for Iraq.

The general's upbeat views will surprise critics of the occupation, not least because he delivered them at the end of the deadliest month for the 130,000 American troops in Iraq since the US-led invasion in March.

Figures from U.S. military officials show at least 75 U.S. soldiers died in action in November, according to a count by Reuters bringing the overall number of deaths among the troops to 440 since the start of the war.

At least four others have died in non-hostile circumstances, making November the deadliest month for U.S. forces since the war to overthrow Saddam was launched.

The "great two weeks" also included the single bloodiest US military post-invasion loss - the collision of two Black Hawk helicopters in Mosul.

Guerrillas launched more than 150 attacks on Iraqi police and civilians during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month which ended last week.  These included twin attacks by suicide car bombers attacked two bases used by the police - seen by the resistance as collaborators with the US - which killed 17 Iraqis, also in the same "great two weeks."

FACES OF THE REAL ENEMY


Praising the Iraqi resistance movement, U.S. commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said it’s a been a “great two weeks” in Iraq, as the resistance in November killed a record numbers of U.S. troops.  With him, left, L. Paul Bremer, U.S. Occupation Dictator, demonstrating to reporters that critics who say he can’t find his head with his hands are mistaken.  (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

In the same "great two weeks", a tape surfaced carrying Saddam's voice, in which he appealed to Iraqis to resist the occupation.  This development was taken so seriously by the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council that it banned the Arabic satellite TV station

which aired the tape - Dubai-based al-Arabiya - from broadcasting from Iraq on the grounds that it was inciting violence.

The ban has reinforced cynicism about the occupation among. Iraqis point out that censoring the media hardly squares with the Bush administration's promises to bring freedom and democracy.

"This only makes opposition to the US stronger," said Wahad Yacoub, of al-Arabiya's Baghdad bureau.

More Good News From The General:

Sanchez Admits US Trained Iraqi Police Coordinating Resistance Attacks

By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA &  JIM KRANE, The Associated Press November 29

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Some U.S.-trained Iraqi police appear to have coordinated some of the long string of attacks on U.S. or Iraqi targets, the top U.S. military official in Iraq said Saturday.

U.S. military officials are also concerned that some attacks on Americans have been coordinated by a few of the numerous Iraqi civilians hired by the U.S. military, who may glean intelligence on troop movements and travels of high-ranking officers, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez told reporters at the Baghdad Convention Center.

"Clearly those are concerns we have. We try to do the vetting (of Iraqi employees) as close as we can," he said.  "There have been instances when police were coordinating attacks against the coalition and against the people."

U.S. TRAINS IRAQIS TO FIGHT U.S.


An Iraqi soldier shoots as a U.S. Army 101st Airborne division soldier protects his ears during a training course near Mosul, 250 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq, Sept. 18, 2003. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

U.S.-led efforts to establish a reliable Iraqi security network are vital to Washington's plans to transfer political power to a new Iraqi leadership.

(THANKS TO B WHO E-MAILED THIS IN:  B WRITES: Even the collaborators are attacking the US. Either that, or the resistance is skillfully infiltrating the pro-US police.)

3rd Army Commanders Knew Ammunition Ws Short Before Invasion;

Supply System In “Utter Chaos”

November 28, 2003, By John J. Lumpkin and Dafna Linzer, Associated Press

Soldiers with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division charged into Iraq in April short of the ammunition their commanders had said was necessary to invade, according to the division’s postwar evaluation of the fighting.

It was one of a number of supply problems encountered by the 3rd Infantry before and during its 21-day dash to Baghdad from Kuwait, according to the internal review, a 293-page after-action report created by the division’s senior officers and troops.

“Every attempt to gain the ammunition assets resulted in some agency or another denying requests, short-loading trucks or turning away soldiers,” the report said. “The entire situation became utter chaos. … The division crossed (into Iraq) short the ammunition it had declared necessary to commit to combat.”

The report, whose authors were not identified by name, catalogued serious problems with supply, security and the handling of prisoners of war.  It blamed many problems on higher headquarters or other parts of the military, the division had serious problems receiving supplies while on the move, including vehicle parts, ammunition, fuel and medical supplies. Had the division been required to move beyond Baghdad, or had it required more time to reach the city, its advance would have stalled, the report suggested.

“Most units literally spent 21 days in continuous combat operations without receiving a single repair part,” the report said.  “Shortages of predictably high-demand repair parts and vehicular fluids had the most lasting effect on fleet readiness.”

In a section describing the problems combat engineers faced in receiving needed construction equipment, the report said, “The Army’s current supply system failed before and during the operation.”

Despite well-publicized fears that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would use chemical or biological weapons on advancing U.S. troops, not all soldiers had complete protective gear, the report said.

A battalion of air defense troops was among those. “More than half of the battalion deployed with some type of nuclear, biological and chemical equipment shortage,” the report said.

Units ran into shortages of gloves, suits and mask filters. Some protective suits weren’t fitted properly, and decontamination kits had expired. Some troops simply left their equipment at home.

Some units that operated away from the front lines had inadequate weapons to defend themselves as they faced guerrilla attacks, the report said. “Security was lacking for critical command and control nodes … as well as for critical staff personnel.”

Communications were another persistent problem. The division, along with other advancing units, stretched out across southern Iraq, with support units reaching back to Kuwait.  But some transmitters didn’t have the range to reach more distant units.  Iridium satellite phones only functioned about half of the time, the report said.

The division also had difficulty delivering mail to the troops, the report said. Mail, in particular, is considered a critical morale booster for fighting soldiers.

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Troop Families Go To Iraq On Peace Mission
Associated Press, November 29

Fernando Suarez del Solar sits in his Escondido, Calif., home Thursday, Nov. 27, 2003, while holding a photo of his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jesus Suarezdel Solar Navarro, who was killed in battle in Iraq in March. FernandoSuarez del Solar leaves Friday for a journey to Iraq to visit the spot where his son died.

Relatives of U.S. service members said they were nervous but hopeful Saturday as they embarked on a private peace mission to Iraq, where they will bring their message of friendship and doubts about the war.

The leader of the 10-member group, Fernando Suarez del Solar, said it is important for Iraqis to realize that not all Americans support the U.S. military presence in Iraq. His son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jesus Suarez del Solar, 20, was killed in Iraq eight months ago when he stepped on an unexploded American cluster bomb.

The group included two wives of soldiers based at Fort Bragg, N.C., and four veterans of the Vietnam and Gulf wars, two of whom have children on duty in Iraq.

“Foreigners Came To Our Country And Forced Us To Take Up Arms:”

A Vietnam Veteran Remembers

Chris Appy, June 2, 2003, motherjones.com

(Whether talking with former grunts in small Appalachian towns, veterans of the North Vietnamese Army in dilapidated convalescent homes near Hanoi, or journalists in fancy hotel lobbies, what struck me was how visceral the memories still were, how close to the surface the emotions of war remain. It was often hard to believe that the accounts I was listening to were drawn from a many -decades-old war.)

A broad-shouldered man with silver hair wearing a white pullover jersey, Ta Quang Thinh sits with three companions in the courtyard of a convalescent home for war invalids about twenty kilometers outside Hanoi. The veterans have parked in a cluster to chat. Their wheelchairs, which look like straight-backed lounge chairs atop three wheels, allow the men to rest their paralyzed legs straight out in front of them. Thinh went south with the North Vietnamese Army in 1965 as a nurse, a four-month journey by foot along the mountainous Ho Chi Minh Trial. In the NVA's jungle hospitals northwest of Saigon, he received the additional training necessary to become a doctor's aide and perform minor surgery. "Most of the wounds I treated were caused by artillery shells. Bombing also caused many shrapnel wounds and concussions." He was himself wounded in Tay Ninh Province in 1967. "I spent a lot of time in that violent place."

I was asleep in the jungle hospital when a male nurse woke me to tell me that Hue's blood pressure had gone down.  Hue was one of our patients recovering from serious wounds in a post-operative care unit, a makeshift underground room with an A-frame roof made of logs and covered with a tarpaulin.  So I got out of my hammock to go see him.  I remember putting the stethoscope in my ears to listen to his pulse. I glanced at my watch and it was almost eleven o'clock.  That's all I can remember.

Later my friends told me that we were hit by a bomb from a B-52. There were six of us in that room--myself, two male nurses, and three patients. I was crouched over Hue when the roof collapsed. It broke my spine and paralyzed me from the middle of my back down. They dug me out of the rubble the following morning. I was the only survivor. Somehow there was enough air to breathe and I was closer to the surface than the others, easier to dig out.

I stayed in the South another four years, treated that whole time in a jungle hospital, just wishing the war would end quickly. I couldn't communicate with my family for six years. Even if they had carried letters South, how would they have found us? We moved all the time.

In 1971, they were finally able to take me home. I was flat on my back in a hammock, two people at a time carrying me. They carried me the whole way back to the North. A third porter went along to relieve the other two. There were many stations along the way and I was relayed from one group of porters to another. It took us seven months. Of course it was very painful to be carried like that. I took painkillers but they didn't help much.

When I got home, I think everybody, including myself, was sick of the war.

We abhorred it. It was not only cruel, it was absurd. Foreigners came to our country from out of the blue and forced us to take up arms. Don't you think that's absurd?

We just wanted to be prosperous and live like other people. Of course we had to fight to protect our country but we were really sick of the war. Deep down we didn't like it. Casualties were enormous.  And not just that--our savings, our houses, our plants and animals, everything was wasted by that war.  I have many memories but I don't want to remember them.  It sounds like a paradox to say that, but it's because I don't like war.  I don't think anyone liked the war.

IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP

The Empire Strikes Out:

General Admits Guerrilla War Spreading
By Bryan Bender, Globe Correspondent, 11/29/2003

WASHINGTON -- The guerrilla war in Iraq has moved steadily beyond the so-called Sunni Triangle and into areas of the country once considered peaceful, a potentially ominous development for security forces trying to restore order in the country.

Since the end of major combat operations on May 1, nearly 40 percent of attacks on US and coalition targets have been outside the Sunni Triangle, according to internal Defense Department reports obtained by the Globe.

The monthly breakdown is classified, but Defense Department officials confirmed that the number of attacks occurring in the far north, south, and far western Iraq -- areas outside the Sunni Triangle, which is immediately north and west of the capital of Baghdad -- has increased in recent months.

"We have seen an increase," General Richard B. Myers, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said on Tuesday, referring to the attacks outside the triangle.

British Police Chief Attacked Near Basra;

Power System Crippled By Sabotage

By Kim Sengupta in Basra, 30 November 2003, independent.co.uk/

Last week a convoy carrying Stephen White, a British police chief sent to train the Iraqi police, was the target of a roadside bomb. Although Mr White, Deputy Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, was unhurt, an Iraqi bodyguard suffered leg injuries.

Incidents have continued at a rate of four to five bombs a month.

When electricity supply lines were first cut, it was assumed that the 40ft pylons were being brought down to steal the copper power cables.  However, the destruction continued when they were replaced by relatively valueless aluminium wiring, and officials are convinced the sabotage was aimed at stopping power generated from oil in the Shia south reaching the Sunni north.

And Thaer Ibrahim, director general of the Basra oil refinery, dismissed suggestions that the power lines were brought down by looters. "It is a systematic effort, not random," he said. " In many of the cases, the cables were not stolen."

Private Steve Oldham, from the Royal Welsh Regiment, is 18. And how did he feel about the war? "I have got my own views. But we have done the job, we have done it well, and what we must not do is get sucked into something which could turn out bad," he said.

Farid Haider Mohammed, a Shia activist who was imprisoned and tortured by Saddam Hussein's regime during the uprisings in 1991 that followed the 1990-91 Gulf war, said “The British are alright for now, but they should not outstay their welcome."

Staff Sergeant Anita Smith, of 30 Signals Regiment, has been co-coordinating a number of school building projects in the Basra region.

Staff Sgt Smith had recently come from Baghdad. "The place we stayed in there came under regular attack," she said. "We used to get mortar fire almost every night.

Shi’i Leader Nails Bush Visit
Al-Jazeera TV: BBC Monitoring Middle East. London: Nov 28, 2003.

Shi'i leader Muqtada al-Sadr has criticized the surprise visit by US President George Bush to Iraq. Al-Sadr said to a group of worshippers during Friday [28 November] prayers that were held in Al- Kufah Mosque, to the north of Baghdad, that this visit was rejected in all cases.

[Al-Sadr - recording] The one who claims that Iraq is independent cannot arrive in Iraq secretly.  The one who recognizes the sovereignty of Iraq and its people must seek their viewpoint before entering their country. Such visits and in such a manner are rejected logically and legally.

FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

No Oil For Blood

Robert Fisk, THE INDEPENDENT 2 Oct 03

Around Kirkuk, authorities are keeping the sabotage figures secret - because they can't stop their pipelines to Turkey from blowing up.

In Baghdad, where the men who produce Iraq's oil production figures are beginning to look like the occupants of Plato's cave - drawing conclusions from shadows on their wall--the statistics are being cooked.

Take Kirkuk.  Only when the television cameras capture a blown pipe, flames billowing from its wounds, do the occupation powers report sabotage. This they did, for example, on Aug 18.  But the same Turkish pipeline has been hit before and since.  It was blown up again on Sep 17 –I've met an oil executive who witnessed the explosion - and four times again the following day.

US patrols and helicopters now move along the pipeline but, in the huge ravines and tribal areas through which it passes, long sections are indefensible. Early in their occupation, the Americans took the quiet - and unwise - decision to re-hire many Baathist oil technocrats; which means that a large proportion of ministry officials are still ambivalent toward the Americans. Thus the only oil revenues the Americans can get are from the south.

In the middle of August, Bremer gave the impression that production stood at around 1.5 million barrels a day. But the real figure at that time was 780,000 barrels.  

When the Americans attacked Iraq in March, the country was producing 2.7 million barrels a day.  It now also transpires that in the very first hours after they entered-Baghdad on April 9, American troops allowed looters into the Oil Ministry.

By the time senior officers arrived to order them out, they had destroyed billions of dollars of irreplaceable seismic and drilling data. And while the major oil companies in the United States stand to cream off billions of dollars if oil production resumes in earnest, many of their ' executives were demanding to know from the Bush Administration - long before the war - how it intended to prevent sabotage.

The Pentagon got it the wrong way round, racing its troops to protect the fields but ignoring the vulnerable pipelines.  

Anarchy is now so widespread in postwar Iraq that it is almost impossible for international investors to work there. There is no insurance for them - which is why Bremer's occupation administrators have secretly decided that well over half the $20 billion earmarked for Iraq will go toward security for its production infrastructure.

Bringing production up to six million barrels a day would cost a further $30 billion, some say up $100 billion. In other words - assuming only $8 billion of the $20 billion can be used on industry - the Bush overall budget of $87 billion which now horrifies Congress is likely to rise toward a figure of $200 billion.

Since the 1920s, only around 2,300 wells have been drilled in Iraq and those are in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates.  Its deserts are almost totally unexplored.  

Officially, Iraq contains 12% of the world's oil reserves -two thirds of the world's reserves are in just four other countries, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait and the Emirates - but it could contain 20%, even 25%.

The real irony lies in the nature of America's new power in Iraq.  US oil deposits are increasingly depleted and by 2025, America's oil imports will account for perhaps 70% of total domestic demand.  It needs to control the world's reserves - and it now has control of perhaps 25% of the world's reserves. But it can't make the oil flow.

The cost of making it flow could produce an economic crisis in the US.  And it is this - rather than the daily killing of young American soldiers - which lies behind the Bush Administration's growing sense of panic.

Washington has got its hands on the biggest treasure chest in the world--but it can't open the lid. No wonder they are cooking the books in Baghdad.  

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.

OCCUPATION REPORT

Watch Out For Bremer’s “Order Number 14”

By Mike Head, 28 November 2003 Wsws.org

In another indication of the “freedom” and “democracy” that Washington is bringing to the people of Iraq, the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) shut down the Baghdad bureau of the country’s most watched television news channel on November 24.  Without warning, more than 20 police and Interior Ministry officials arrived at the Al Arabiya facility, ordered its closure and seized its broadcasting equipment “until further notice”.

The Coalition Provisional Authority’s Order Number 14 was imposed in June as attacks on coalition forces began to spread.   

In true Orwellian language, the order spoke of providing “accurate information” to the Iraqi people, cherishing “freedom of speech” and welcoming the emergence of a “free and independent” media in Iraq. It then gave the US Administrator Paul Bremer absolute authority to shut down media outlets that published any material that “incites violence” against the occupying forces, “incites civil disorder” or “advocates the return to power of the Iraqi Baath Party”.

Over the past seven months since the capture of Baghdad, US troops have already shut down the Sawt Bagdad (Voice of Baghdad) radio station, impounded copies of the newspaper Sadda-al-Auma, destroyed the offices of Al Adala newspaper, and ransacked the Baghdad premises of Al Mustaqila newspaper.

Questioned by reporters about the ban, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the IGC was trying to work with the news media to “avoid a situation where these media are used as a channel for incitement, for inflammatory statements, and for statements and actions that harm the security of people who live and work in Baghdad, including the Iraqi citizens themselves”.

The media campaign is also aimed at the American public.  Last week, the military unveiled a new spokesman for US forces in the country, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, a higher-ranking officer with more media experience than those who have until now been the public face of the occupation.

That followed a redesigning of the podium from which news conferences are held, with two large flat-screen monitors installed to carry PowerPoint presentations the military is using to show off operations and tout successes. A large, deep-blue seal representing the Coalition Provisional Authority hangs prominently behind the podium, with the words “Justice, Freedom, Liberty, Security” written around its border.

OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION

BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

Anti-war Lawyer Arrested After Visit To Iraq

By Kim Sengupta, 27 November 2003, The Independent (UK)

A human rights lawyer investigating reports of war crimes by US forces in Iraq has been arrested in London and accused of helping break sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime in the 1990s.

Dr Abdul Haq al-Ani, who is acting for the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, is the victim of a political prosecution.

Dr Ani, 59, a British citizen, was an active opponent of Saddam's regime who left Iraq in 1986 and qualified as a barrister in the UK.  As a member of the campaign group Lawyers Against the War (LAW) he recently returned from Iraq where he had been gathering testimonies about alleged abuse of civil rights by the US military.

LAW and Dr Ani are considering legal action against the Prime Minister and the Attorney General, Peter Goldsmith QC, on the basis that the Iraq war was illegal.  They also want to take up the case of the detainees being held by British and American forces in Iraq with the European Court of Human Rights.

Dr Ani was arrested by Customs and Excise on Tuesday.  He had made himself available for questioning after hearing that officers had raided the homes of two of his friends and removed computers and documentation.

The friends, who are of Iraqi descent, were absent at the time of the searches and found notes from customs officers stating that they were seeking information about Dr Ani. On the day of his arrest, Dr Ani had received a letter from the Attorney General in relation to the legal actions being contemplated by LAW.

Dr Ani said: "We have been collecting evidence in Iraq, as well as campaigning against the war in this country. The Americans were not very happy when I attempted to see Tariq Aziz in Baghdad. I suppose me and my colleagues are irritations for Tony Blair's government.

"I find it very odd that my friends' homes are raided the day before I get the letter from the Attorney General. We will co-operate with any investigation, we have nothing to hide. But neither are we going to be intimidated out of our activities over Iraq."

7 Months Ago:

US OFFICER THREATENS TO MACHINE GUN UNARMED IRAQI PROTESTORS IN TIKRIT

Monday April 28, 2003 TIKRIT, Iraq (AP)

In Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, supporters and fellow al-Tikriti clansmen said his memory would endure longer than the presence of American forces in Iraq.

``Happy Birthday'' graffiti was scrawled in several places, and some members of Saddam's clan sat quietly in the house where he was born.

``Saddam Hussein is one of the great Arabic leaders,'' said Abdullah Ialeh Hussein, who identified himself as Saddam's cousin. ``The Americans have occupied us, but we will continue to support him.''

Not far away, Staff Sgt. Bob Garr said troops occupying Tikrit were proceeding with caution.

``Today being Saddam's birthday, we are aware and trying to keep more alert,'' Garr said. ``But other than that this is just a regular operation.''

About 200 people marched through Tikrit, chanting, ``With our blood and souls we shall redeem you, Oh Saddam,'' a chant which was a fixture at state-sponsored events for years. Some carried pictures of him. ``Down, down Bush!'' they said in English.

American Humvees, escorted by two Bradley fighting vehicles, came to the area with mountain machine guns and boomed through loudspeakers in Arabic. ``Return to your homes. What you are doing is forbidden,'' the messages said. ``Otherwise we will use force.

In the northern city of Mosul, soldiers from the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division took down a freshly painted banner from the side of a building that read, in English: ``Saddam Hussain is the glory.''

(For more see the article “Noam Chomsky On U.S. Imperialism” at http://www.isreview.org/)


THIS IS WHAT ALL THE BULLSHIT BOILS DOWN TO:  An Iraqi girl covers her face as U.S. army soldier searches for insurgents in the center of Baghdad Nov 29 (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK

New Bush Tape Raises Fears of Attacks;

"I Thought He Was Out Clearing Brush"

DISASSOCIATED PRESS, 11/29/03: (Counterpunch http://www.counterpunch.org/jensen11282003.html)

A tape today surfaced in U.S. media outlets of someone purporting to be George W. Bush at a U.S. military base in Baghdad.

Intelligence analysts around the world are studying the videotapes. "It certainly looked and sounded like him, but we get so few glimpses at Bush in real-life situations that it is hard to tell," said one operative from a Western intelligence agency.

People who know Bush said it appeared to him. "That's him, all right," said one longtime associate.

The tape shows the man claiming to be Bush praising U.S. attacks in Iraq. "We will stay until the job is done," he threatened.

The videotape was delivered to the Baghdad bureau of FOX News by an intermediary courier who has brought material before from the U.S. military, according to the U.S. network.

There were calls for FOX to be banned from some Arabic countries for broadcasting American militaristic propaganda.

While the quality of the tape was not poor, the alleged Bush did appear tired in portions of it, prompting speculation that he is on the run.

The man claiming to be Bush said: "We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq, pay a bitter cost in casualties, defeat a brutal dictator and liberate 25 million people only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins."

Analysts pointed out that given the ongoing nature of the Iraqi resistance since "the end of major combat operations," that comment could have been recorded anytime in the past six months.

"When the man identified as Bush tells U.S. troops, 'You are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq so we don't have to face them in our own country,' well, it's a little hard to believe that even the Bush White House would try to spin that," said the operative from a Western intelligence agency.

"How could anyone believe, after all that has been disclosed about the lies and distortions used to manipulate the public into accepting this war, that U.S. troops are defending the American people in Iraq? No major world leader would be so obtuse or so low as to try to sell that to people at this stage."

Members of the Iraqi Governing Council who met with the man identified as Bush said they had met with a man identified as Bush and were delaying comment until Paul Bremer was available to tell them what their comments would be.

Omar Ali, an Iraqi in a poor area of Baghdad said: "I don't understand why he didn't stay.  Just because the U.S. nearly starved us with the sanctions for 12 years, killed my cousin during the invasion, busted down my door last week and is trying to find a way to steal our oil -- does he think that Iraqis would want to hurt him, our great liberator?"

Private Charles Sanders, who has been stationed in Iraq since the invasion said: "I was supposed to be back home by now.  It was really getting depressing, but this is great.  Sure, I don't get to look into the eyes of my little girl, or hold my wife tenderly in my arms, but the president served me turkey!"

Susan Jones in Pittsburgh, who this morning was driven to tears while watching "Dances with Wolves" on cable TV, said: "I was planning on talking over the Thanksgiving Day table with my family about how we slaughtered the Indians and enslaved the blacks, bullied Latin America and bombed Vietnam, and now were occupying Iraq. I don't know, is it just me, or do we just have this brutal aggressive side to us? But now I guess, well, just talk about Bush's visit instead."

When asked whether she was certain the president had gone to Iraq, Laura Bush said she hadn't noticed her husband had left the Crawford ranch.  "I assumed he was out clearing brush," the First Lady said.

Correspondents Robert Jensen and Sam Husseini contributed to this report.

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of the forthcoming "Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity http://citylights.com/CLpub4th.html#citizens" (City Lights Books). He can be reached at rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu.

Sam Husseini is communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy http://www.accuracy.org/. He also recently launched the web page Compass Roses. He can be reached at: sam@accuracy.org

Bush Blowback
November 29 sg.news.yahoo.com

At Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, national security adviser Condoleeza Rice denied that the president's blitz trip was a political stunt that inadvertently highlighted the chaos still blighting Iraq.

Charges that the secrecy and security blanketing his two-and-a-half stop at Baghdad airport showed that Iraq has made little progress towards stability since the US-led March invasion are "just not true," she said.

Some critics, including the presidential campaign of retired general Wesley Clark, said the brevity and secrecy of the visit actually showed how little Washington has accomplished in Iraq since taking control in April.

Received:

(D writes about a soldier he met this week, back home on leave.  The contradictions in what this Marine says are a reflection of the turmoil going on in the heads of many troops in Iraq.)

A is home for Thanksgiving from Iraq and Camp Lejeune.I saw him walking a dog on the street where we live.

I was driving by, stopped the car, called to him.  He stopped and we shook hands and talked.  I told him how great he looked: taller, stronger.

I asked him if he had it to do over again, would he and at first he looked surprised and unsure but then said yes, but he knows the people in Washington are crazy.  I asked him if he was going back to Iraq, that I had read that 3,000 marines would be sent.  He assumed a "wise" look and  knowledgeable attitude and he said that there would be a lot "more".

I asked him what he meant and he said a "regiment".  I asked him how many that would be and he did not know but he said "a lot" with certainty. I asked if he knew how many casualties there had been in Iraq and he said "100" (he assumed that "casualties" meant deaths).

When I said 9,000 injured including deaths, he treated injured in slighting fashion, letting me know that when the "enemy" over there saw marines they got scared and paid respect.  When I said a marine would be killed by a land mine the same as any GI, he did not respond.  

He said they would like to come home.  He agreed with Bring The Troops Home and save the VA Hospitals although the Marines had "their own" hospitals in Germany.

I asked him if he would like to  receive Traveling Soldier to get factual info over there and said no.  He said that since "they must be there" they've decided to "kill them all."  

When I pointed out that he was talking about 20 million people, including women and children, he balked about killing women and children.  I asked him how dropping bombs on entire villages would distinguish among people and he did not answer but seemed uncomfortable.  

When I said to him that the U.S. does not belong there and that it violates international law and Bush is a war criminal who could end up placing blame on the soldiers like him, he said "no way."   

When I appealed to his humanity and told him he had not been brought up to murder people and that vets from the Vietnam War told me they only found peace within themselves when they put down their guns and embraced their manufactured enemies, he got very uncomfortable and said he had a lot to do and walked the dog up the street away from the direction to his home.

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