14/12/03 GI Special 154: One Down, One To Go

thomasfbarton@earthlink.net


ONE BLOODY CORRUPT THUG DOWN
(Larry Downing/Reuters)

ANOTHER STILL ON THE LOOSE

 Incredible Bremer Still Talks Like Resistance Movement Fighting For Hussein
By EDWARD WONG and KIRK SEMPLE, December 14, 2003 New York Times

Bremer appealed to insurgents loyal to Mr. Hussein to give up the fight today.

"With the arrest of Saddam Hussein, there is a new opportunity for the members of the former regime, whether military or civilian, to end their bitter opposition," he said in the news conference, which was televised. "Let them now come forward in a spirit of reconciliation and hope, lay down their arms, and join you, their fellow citizens, in the task of building the new Iraq."

(For weeks, interviews with resistance fighters have quoted them expressing contempt and loathing for Hussein, and saying they are fighting for Iraqi independence from a foreign invasion.  They will continue to do so, with more strength than ever before, now the murderous asshole is off the board.  They are right to do so.)

MORE:

By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer 12.14.03

Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, which captured Saddam, said the ousted leader did not appear to be directly organizing resistance – noting no communication devices were found in his hiding place.  (So much for the silly bullshit about Hussein leading the resistance.)

IRAQ WAR REPORTS:

TASK FORCE "ALL-AMERICAN" SOLDIER DIES FROM IED BLAST

HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND
December 14, 2003 Release Number: 03-12-14C

AL HASWAH, Iraq — A soldier was wounded and subsequently died while attempting to disarm an improvised explosive device (IED) during the morning of Dec. 14.  The device, discovered by a patrol unit, was hung on a telephone pole near the road.  The soldier, a trained explosive ordnance disposal specialist, approached the IED to disarm it when the device exploded.  

A Death In Peru, Indiana
Dec. 13, 2003 Associated Press

PERU, Ind. - A soldier from northern Indiana whose wife is expecting a baby in the spring was killed in Iraq by a bomb explosion, his mother said.

Army Sgt. Jarrod Black, 26, was in a convoy west of Baghdad on Friday when military officials said insurgents detonated a bomb alongside the road, killing Black and wounding two others.

The bomb attack happened in Ramadi, about 60 miles west of the Iraqi capital, the U.S. Central Command said. Black was evacuated to a combat hospital and died of his wounds.

"I'm in denial and total shock right now," Jane Black told The Peru Tribune for a story Saturday. "Jarrod was a brat that everyone loved to be around."

Black, who attended Peru High School, had last talked with his parents on Wednesday.

"He didn't get to call home very often," his mother said. "He said he loved me and he was being safe. Then he called his dad at work and got to speak with him for a little while. God wanted me to have one more conversation with my son."

Black and his wife Shawna found out recently they were to be the parents of their first child together, a girl, in April. He also was the father of two sons, ages 2 and 3, from a previous relationship.

"(Jarrod) wanted to know what I thought of him having a little girl," his mother recalled of Wednesday's conversation.

Black, who served on a tanker with his unit, had been in the Army since 1999, and was deployed to the Middle East in September. His brother, Brandon, has served in Iraq as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division since February.

Bill Shuey, a longtime English teacher at Peru High School, said he believed much of the community some 50 miles southwest of Fort Wayne would mourn Black's death.

"Jarrod was a huge (Peru) Tiger fan," said Shuey, who announces for Peru athletic events. "He was always in the front row cheering on Peru, supporting the Tigers. He was an energetic, young man who was full of life. This is a huge loss for the town of Peru."

Black was the 17th person from Indiana to have died while serving in the Mideast during

the war with Iraq.  Eleven of those deaths have happened since President Bush declared May 1 that major combat operations in the country had ended.

RESISTANCE ATTACKS SPREAD TO KUWAIT;

U.S. Troops Hurt

ANOTHER BAD PLACE TO BE;  US Army soldiers move about in northern Kuwait.  Four US soldiers received 'minor injuries from broken glass' in two attacks with small arms fire against their convoys in Kuwait, a US army spokesman said.(AFP/File/Jim Watson) BRING THEM ALL HOME NOW!

Car Bomb Hits Police Station
Dec. 14, 2003 KHALDIYAH, Iraq (AP)

A bomb in a car outside a police station Sunday morning west of Baghdad killed at least 17 people, wounding 33 more, the U.S.  military said.

A police lieutenant says 16 police officers are dead,

The car bombing in Khaldiyah, 50 miles west of Baghdad, killed  police officers, city workers and civilian bystanders, U.S. Army  Lt. Col. Jeff Swisher.

An emergency room administrator at a hospital in the nearby city  of Ramadi put the toll even higher, at 21 people killed and more  than 20 injured.  Many victims were Iraqi police officers and  workers who were sweeping the street outside the district police

office, said hospital administrator Haitham Bahar Taha.

U.S. troops arriving on the scene blocked off the area and two  helicopters hovered overhead.  U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police later  surveyed the site of the blast, which left a huge crater in the  road and collapsed a large section of the building's front wall.  Several destroyed cars were scattered in the street nearby. Muthana Hameed, a local resident, said he saw a lot of bodies of  police and municipal workers.

A Khaldiyah policeman, Mohammed Abed, said an ``unfamiliar'' car  was parked outside the station moments before the blast

GET SOME TRUTH:  CHECK OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER

Telling the truth - about the occupation, the cuts to veterans benefits, or the dangers of depleted uranium - is the first reason Traveling Soldier is necessary.  But we want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance - whether it's in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or inside the armed forces.  Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help you organize resistance within the armed forces. If you like what you've read, we hope that you'll join with us in building a network of active duty organizers.  http://www.traveling-soldier.org/

Large Explosions Rock Central Baghdad


IMPOSSIBLE PLACE TO BE  A U.S. soldier rushes to scene after a pick up truck exploded in central Baghdad  Dec. 14, 2003. Large explosions were heard in central Baghdad Sunday evening and flames and thick smoke were seen rising, just hours after U.S. officials announced the capture of Saddam Hussein (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)

BRING THEM ALL HOME NOW
The Associated Press December 14, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Large explosions rocked central Baghdad Sunday evening and flames and thick smoke rose from the area, just hours after U.S. officials announced the capture of Saddam Hussein. A policeman said there were no casualties.

Shortly afterward, bursts of gunfire rang out from the area. The explosions occurred at 8:20 p.m. local time in the central Baghdad area of Karadah.

A policeman said a white four-wheel drive vehicle had exploded on Saadoun Street, a busy thoroughfare, after two men jumped from the vehicle and fled the scene.

Two fire trucks arrived a few minutes later and started putting out the blaze.

TROOP NEWS

Pentagon Caught Lying About Numbers Of Wounded In Iraq

(From Dave Collins to Vietnam Veterans Against The War NET: This seems really dumb. And more than a bit desperate.  Dave)

By Patrick Peterson, KNIGHT RIDDER TRIBUNE. Dec. 06, 2003

GULFPORT, Miss. - An influential Mississippi congressman has raised the possibility that the Pentagon has undercounted combat casualties in Iraq after he learned that five members of the Mississippi National Guard who were injured Sept. 12 by a booby trap in Iraq were denied Purple Heart medals.

The guardsmen were wounded by an artillery shell that detonated as their convoy passed the tree in which it was hidden, but their injuries were classified as "noncombat," according to Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss. Taylor, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, learned of the classification when he visited the most seriously injured of the guardsmen, Spc. Carl Sampson, 35, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

Taylor said the incident raised concerns that Iraq combat casualties had been understated.

Taylor said Friday. "I just don't want to see anyone else who's been injured get cheated about their Purple Heart."

Members of the Mississippi National Guard were mystified.  "Sampson should have already been awarded a Purple Heart," said Lt. Col. Tim Powell, a spokesman for the Guard.  "An improvised explosive device built and placed with the intent to harm American soldiers is hostile."

Sampson, who sustained shrapnel wounds to his face and arms, is now hospitalized in Tampa.

Bush Buddies Get Billions To Serve Troops Rotting Meat From Filthy Kitchens
WASHINGTON (AFP) Dec 13, 2003

The Pentagon repeatedly warned contractor Halliburton-KBR that the food it served to US troops in Iraq was "dirty," as were as the kitchens it was served in, NBC News reported Friday.

Halliburton-Kellogg Brown and Root's promises to improve "have not been followed through," according to a Pentagon report that warned "serious repercussions may result" if the contractor did not clean up, the television network reported.

The Pentagon reported finding "blood all over the floor," "dirty pans," "dirty grills," "dirty salad bars" and "rotting meats ... and vegetables" in four of the military messes the company operates in Iraq, NBC said, citing Pentagon documents.

The company feeds 110,000 US and coalition troops daily at a cost of 28 dollars per troop per day, NBC said.  (Get that again, $28 per soldier per day for rotting meat, etc.  Guess where they money goes, right into the pockets of this disgusting war profiteering Bush campaign contributor.  The Halliburton suits in Iraq better stop this shit very fast.  Hungry soldiers wanting decent food and armed with frag grenades are not to be fucked with without major payback.  Ask any Vietnam vet.)

The Pentagon found unclean conditions at four locations in Iraq, including one in Baghdad and two in Tikrit. Even the mess hall where Bush served troops their Thanksgiving dinner was dirty in August, September and October, according to NBC.

This adds up to "a company that arrogantly is overcharging when they can get away with it and not providing the quality of service that they agreed to do," Representative Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, told NBC.

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: http://www.notinourname.net/gi-special/

Hopeless
By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer 12.13.03

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, speaking at a news conference, said "There is no question in my mind that the coalition and the Iraqi people are winning," he said.

(Sanchez still just doesn’t get it.  The Iraqi people are indeed winning, because the coalition is losing.)

Army Facing Medical Crisis;

Troops' Rotation Straining System
By Robert Schlesinger, Boston Globe Staff, 12/13/2003

WASHINGTON -- The planned rotation of roughly a quarter-million soldiers into and out of Iraq and Afghanistan next year is threatening to overwhelm the Army's medical system, according to military and political leaders.

Top Pentagon brass and congressional leaders fear that between the needs of Reserve soldiers unable to deploy because of previous medical problems, the health issues of returning soldiers, and a record number of troops in transit, the problems experienced this fall at Fort Stewart could resurface nationally.  The Georgia military base, suddenly faced with handling the medical needs of thousands of troops returning from Iraq, came under sharp criticism for long delays in care that especially affected reservists, and for shunting ailing reservists into substandard housing to make way for the returning soldiers.

"Our concern and the concern on [Capitol Hill] big time is that the situation at Fort Stewart is going to be replicated over and over and over and over," said Derek Stewart, director of defense capabilities for the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, which is examining the issue. "But I'll tell you -- we're not getting a good feeling that they're preparing."

A major problem facing the military medical system is the ill health of thousands of reservists even before they ship out to battle zones. Overall, according to an Oct. 25 study by the Army surgeon general's office, 1,800 to 3,600 reservists -- members of the Army Reserve or Army National Guard -- were activated but were unable to deploy for Operation Iraqi Freedom because of health problems. Under Army regulations, once soldiers are called up to duty, the Army is responsible for their treatment until they return home.

"Just like you've read the reports about the large numbers of Americans who don't have any medical insurance -- a percentage of those are reservists," said John O'Shea of the Reserve Officers Association. "When families have reduced incomes, one of the things they normally consider a luxury, believe it or not, is medical care or dental care."

Dominican Republic Unwilling,

But U.S. Demands Troops Stay

SANTO DOMINGO, Dec. 11 (Reuters) – The United States expects troops from the Dominican Republic sent to Iraq to serve the full year promised and not to leave ahead of schedule, a U.S. official told the Dominican government on Thursday.

President Hipolito Mejia and Armed Forces Minister Lt. Gen. Jose Miguel Soto Jimenez indicated last week the Caribbean country's 300-strong contingent could be pulled out before February after their base in the southern city of Diwaniya came under mortar attack.

The Dominican soldiers were deployed to Iraq in late July to work alongside some 1,300 Spanish troops patrolling an area south of Baghdad.

''We expect the Dominican soldiers to remain in Iraq for a year. That was the commitment we reached with President Mejia,'' U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega said on a visit to Santo Domingo.

The Dominican Republic's participation in the U.S. military operation in Iraq has divided the country, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, and could hurt Mejia's hopes of seeking re-election next year.

Once a booming economy with surging tourism, the country of around 8 million people has sunk into a deep economic slump following the collapse of a major bank.

A dozen people have died since September in angry street protests over rising prices, a plunging local currency, a proposal for International Monetary Fund-mandated austerity measures and constant power cuts.

IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP

Only 21% Trust Occupation Forces
By Helena Cobban, Christian Science Monitor, December 11, 2003

A recent poll organized by a British company found that only 21 percent of Iraqis said they had "quite a lot" of trust in the US and British forces there. The rest all described their trust level as "not very much," or "none at all."

FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

An U.S. Army In Revolt Stopped A Hopeless Imperial War Before;

It Needs To Happen Again
By Kim Phillips-Fein | 12.11.03, inthesetimes

Near the end of the Vietnam War, as the antiwar movement roiled domestic politics and the Viet Cong showed no signs of giving in, a group of black soldiers formed an underground society named the Mau-Maus, in reference to a 19th-century uprising against the British in Kenya.  Other soldiers, at about the same time, put up posters at Army bases reading, "Don't Do What They Tell You, Tell What They Do," and went on "search-and-avoid" missions-told where the enemy was, they'd march in the opposite direction.  In 1971, for the Fourth of July, soldiers at one base held a peace rally, calling for "immediate and total American troop withdrawal."

These were only a few signs of an army in revolt and a foreign policy in collapse.

Many American soldiers found themselves incapable of tolerating the war's inhumanity, and the army was collapsing by the war's end.

One journalist who lived in Vietnam in the early '70s says, "When I hear people say we could have won the war, I always think: Where were you going to get the soldiers?"

Yet while the American soldiers served one-year tours of duty the North Vietnamese soldiers endured vast deprivation, living in the jungle for years on end, with scant food, sickness, exhaustion and a death rate nearly 20 times that of the Americans. Why were they able to tolerate such conditions?

Appy suggests that the basic difference was that North Vietnamese soldiers understood themselves as fighting a political war against an occupying power.

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.

Telling It Like It Is

In closing, I think we should reflect on the words of General David Shoup, former US Marine Commandant and Medal of Honor recipient who in 1966 said

"I believe that if we would keep our dirty, bloody, dollar-soaked fingers out of the business of these nations so full of depressed, exploited people, they will arrive at a solution on their own.  And if unfortunately their revolution must be of the violent type because the 'haves' refuse to share with the 'have-nots' by any peaceful method, at least what they get will be their own and not the American style, which they don't want and above all don't want crammed down their throats by Americans."

David Cline, President

Veterans For Peace http://www.veteransforpeace.org/

Veterans For Peace Newsletter Fall 2003

Retreat Into Hardened Bases;

Strategy For Disaster

(From an interview with Stan Goff, SSG (Ret’d) by Dave Lindorff, in Veterans For Peace Newsletter, Fall 2003) http://www.veteransforpeace.org/

In some ways it's similar, and in some ways it's very different.  The terrain is different, and you don't have the Cold War underlying it, though the Bush Administration seems to be trying hard to create a new global enemy like that.

What is happening that is similar is that, in order to limit the casualties, which are raising the level of concern at home, the Pentagon has essentially shut down all operations.  The troops have been pulled back behind the wire into hardened bases.  The problem with that is that when you pull back, you hand the countryside over to the enemy, and then the static positions set you up as targets, which are under surveillance by the guerrillas.

It's a classic no-win situation for the United States now, with the Iraqis executing a classic guerrilla strategy of going after the softer targets like the United Nations and the pipelines, and I frankly don't see how we get out of it.

(That sounds pretty pessimistic.)

I'm an optimist really, though. Maybe a short-term pessimist but a long-term optimist. You know, the government can spin, spin, spin, like with U.S. occupation coordinator L. Paul Bremer saying over and over that we're "turning the comer."  But eventually reality reasserts itself.

I think that the Bush Administration will collapse from its own hubris. You know, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is not the smart guy people in the media say he is. He is a fool who thinks he's smarter than his generals.

He has an outrageous faith in technology's ability to solve military problems, and he seems to have Bush firmly in tow. But they're in a box. They're in the process of self-destruction.

OCCUPATION REPORT

Useless, Pointless Sham
By ALEX BERENSON, NY Times 12. 14, 2003

Lt. Col. Eric Nantz commands the First Battalion of the 325th Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, whose tanks and paratroopers patrol six neighborhoods, including Ghazalia.   But the 82nd has only 800 soldiers to patrol a population of a half million.

The Ship Of Fools;

Ignorant Incompetents Try To Rule A Nation

The Washington Monthly's Who's Who
December 2003, Special Baghdad edition, By Joshua Micah Marshall, Laura Rozen, and Colin Soloway’

(Joshua Micah Marshall is a Washington Monthly contributing writer and author of Talkingpointsmemo.com. Laura Rozen is a national security writer in Washington, D.C. Colin Soloway is a contributing editor of Newsweek.)

Simone Ledeen is serving her country.  She is the daughter of Michael Ledeen, the Iran-Contra luminary, AEI scholar, and all-around capo in the neocon mafia.  She's 29, a freshly-minted M.B.A., with little to no experience in war-torn countries.  But as an advisor for northern Iraq at the Ministry of Finance in Baghdad, she is, in essence, helping shape one quarter of that nation's economy.

When the history of the occupation of Iraq is written, there will be many factors to point to when explaining the post-conquest descent into chaos and disorder, from the melting away of Saddam's army to the Pentagon's failure to make adequate plans for the occupation. But historians will also consider the lack of experience and abundant political connections of the hundreds of American bureaucrats sent to Baghdad to run Iraq through the Coalition Provisional Authority.

It's not that Americans lack such experience. In the last decade particularly, many American officials acquired a great deal of expertise in post-conflict reconstruction in places like Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor and in post-Communist countries in Eastern Europe and around the globe--expertise that could have been put to good use at the CPA.

In their place, the architects of the war chose card-carrying Republicans--operatives, flacks, policy-wonks and lobbyists--for almost every key assignment in the country.  Some marquee examples include U.S. civil administrator Paul Bremer's senior advisor and liaison to Capitol Hill, Tom Korologos, one of the most powerful GOP lobbyists on Capitol Hill.  Then there's the man in charge of privatizing Iraq's 200-odd state owned companies, Tom Foley, a venture capitalist and high-flying GOP fundraiser. Foley was one of the Bob Dole's top-ten career donors, Connecticut finance chair for Bush 2000 and a classmate of the president's from Harvard Business School.

The chief advisor to the Agriculture Ministry is Dan Amstutz, a Reagan administration veteran who until recently served as the president of the North American Export Grain Association.  Oxfam's Director of Policy Kevin Watkins recently quipped that with his record of opening up developing economies to cheap American agricultural exports, "putting Dan Amstutz in charge of agricultural reconstruction in Iraq is like putting Saddam Hussein in the chair of a human rights commission." The presence of so many GOP lobbyists and fat-cats on the CPA roster has led many to suspect that the staffing was driven by the desire to award prized contracts to friendly companies and campaign donors. There is more than a little truth in those impressions. But a closer look paints a more complex picture.

By making partisan loyalty their primary criteria, the administration ruled out most of the people with experience in the field and restricted themselves to politically trustworthy Republicans, many of whom, though often well-meaning and admirably willing to serve their country in a very dangerous place, had little to no experience to prepare them for the challenges they'd encounter in Iraq.

A typical example is Dan Senor.  Before attending Harvard Business School from 1999 to 2001, Senor was a staffer for then-Sen. Spencer Abraham of Michigan. After receiving his MBA, he went to the Carlyle Group, where he was a venture capitalist from 2001 to 2003. Senor left Carlyle in 2003 for a brief stint as White House Press Secretary Scott McLellan's deputy before shipping off to Iraq.

Though he showed up in Iraq as a junior press handler, Senor is now Bremer's senior advisor and for most of last summer he was in charge of organizing Iraq's post-Saddam media, an effort which most have rated as little short of a disaster.

More examples can be found at the Ministry of Education, often cited by the White House as one of the CPA's signal successes.  Who runs the Ministry of Education? The chief American advisor to the Minister of Education is Williamson Evers, a school voucher advocate and Libertarian activist from the Hoover Institution who was an education policy advisor on the Bush 2000 campaign.  The first of Evers's two deputies is Leslye Arsht, a Republican education policy wonk who served as deputy press secretary under Ronald Reagan and then in the Department of Education under George H.W. Bush. Evers's second deputy was Jim Nelson, President George W. Bush's education commissioner from when he was governor of Texas. (Nelson recently returned stateside.)

Each of the three has education policy credentials.  But one searches their résumés in vain for any evidence of the sort of expertise that would suit them to rebuild an educational system in an Arab country in the aftermath of war, a decade of sanctions, and two generations of totalitarian rule.

But critics say that even the much-hyped successes getting schools refurbished and reopened may not stand up to scrutiny.  The White House routinely trumpets the fact that 1,595 of Iraq's 10,000 schools have already been rehabilitated. But when Newsweek reporters visited five of those schools in October, they found each one trash-strewn, poorly supplied, and mostly a wreck.

More such "help" may be on the way in the person of Rich Galen, veteran GOP-spin meister, former spokesman for Vice President Dan Quayle and onetime head of Newt Gingrich's GOPAC.  In late October, Galen received the call to serve his country in Iraq as yet another of Bremer's Senior Advisors. His gig?  Adding more artillery to the Iraq War spin operation. "My job," Galen told The New York Post before shipping off, "will be to help reporters on the ground find interesting stories that they can use. If there's a civil-affairs unit out of Manhattan that rebuilt a school, it might be of interest to Channel 5 but not to a network."

CPA officials say that the older GOP functionaries do a reasonable job keeping their partisanship publicly under wraps.  But the younger Republicans in Iraq spend much of their time plotting against the Democrats. "Everything is seen in the context of the election, and how they will screw the Democrats," said one CPA official. "It was really pretty shocking to hear them talk."

"They are all on the campaign trail," said another official. "They see this as a stepping stone to a better job in the next Bush administration."  "I don't always know if they are Republicans," said yet another senior CPAer. "But what is clear is that they know nothing about development, and nothing about transitional economies."  They're trying to do the right thing, this official adds, "but they do what they do without any knowledge of how the post-war world works in reality. They come up with hare-brained schemes that cause so many problems they take more time to fix than to create."

It's also driven journalists on the ground, watching these operatives move in and out of Saddam's marble Republican Palace, which CPA commandeered as its headquarters, to joke: "They don't call it the Republican Palace for nothing."

Bremers’ Follies Roll On;

The Most Deranged Occupation In History?
The Economist (London) December 13-19, 2003 DATELINE: Baghdad

"THERE is no information available at this time," reads the message on the website of the Iraqi Media Network, the intended precursor of a hoped-for revamped state broadcasting service and the Americans' main purveyor of news in Arabic that, after 30 years of state lies, is meant to be true. "Please check back."

Iraqis have been checking for eight months, baffled by how a nation with the world's most vibrant media can leave them still yearning for something they actually want to watch. So dull is the present service that some Iraqis may even hanker for the days when Saddam Hussein's delinquent son Uday ran the television. As a result, far more Iraqis watch two Arab satellite channels, al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya, both of which seem to revel in America's local tribulations.

Part of the problem is that the Pentagon assigned Iraq's broadcasting to a defence contractor, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). So far, the firm has shown as much aptitude for delivering news as the BBC would if it had to deliver missiles.

It charged the Pentagon $100m in operating and infrastructure costs but paid its broadcasters $30 a week. It hired the same performers who sang praises to Mr Hussein as "the servant of God" to sing odes to Iraq's new-found freedom. State TV is required to relay the statements of the ruling American-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and its appointed Iraqi Governing Council, earning it a reputation as the Pentagon's Pravda. Freed from Saddam's ban on satellite dishes, a third of Iraqis have switched to other stations.

The failure to provide useful or interesting information is not just SAIC's; it is symptomatic of a more general speech impediment.  Not only does the CPA not speak Iraq's language; it rarely deigns to speak at all.  Gary Thatcher, Mr Bremer's communications adviser, does not communicate himself, and often bars CPA officials, bunkered behind their concrete bollards, from answering press inquiries directly. Mr Bremer rarely invites Arab journalists to his press conferences.

Shells Pose Cancer Risk In Iraq;

Depleted Uranium Causing High Radioactivity Levels
Antony Barnett, public affairs editor, December 14, 2003, The Observer

Depleted uranium shells used by British forces in southern Iraqi battlefields are putting civilians at risk from 'alarmingly high' levels of radioactivity.  

Experts are calling for the water and milk being used by locals in Basra to be monitored after analysis of biological and soil samples from battle zones found 'the highest number, highest levels and highest concentrations of radioactive source points' in the Basra suburb of Abu Khasib - the centre of the fiercest battles between UK forces and Saddam loyalists.

Readings taken from destroyed Iraqi tanks in Basra reveal radiation levels 2,500 times higher than normal. In the surrounding area researchers recorded radioactivity levels 20 times higher than normal.

Tedd Weymann, deputy director of UMRC, said: 'At one point the readings were so high that an alarm on one of my instruments went off telling me to get back. Yet despite these alarmingly high levels of radiation children play on the tanks or close by.'

Witnesses told the UMRC that a British Army survey team inspected Abu Khasib. 'The UK team arrived dressed in white full-body radiation suits with protective facemasks and gloves. They were accompanied by translators who were ordered to warn residents and local salvage crews that the tanks in the battlefield are radioactive and must be avoided,' the report states, adding: 'The British forces have taken no steps to post warnings, seal tanks and personnel carriers or remove the highly radioactive assets.'

Dr Chris Busby, who is a member of a government committee examining radiation risks, expressed concern. 'There is no question that inhaling this radioactive dust can increase the risk of lymphomas,' he said.

OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION

BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

Israel Supplying Occupation Equipment
Reuters, December 12, 2003

WASHINGTON: A key US ally behind-the-scenes in the war in Iraq, Israel has been contributing intelligence, tactics and technology mostly in secret to avert an Arab backlash, congressional aides and analysts said on Thursday.

The commander of the Israel Defense Force's Golani Brigade briefed US Marines in mid-June on the lessons the IDF has learned from its conflict with the Palestinians. The Israelis have supplied the American military with aerial surveillance equipment, decoy drones and D-9 armored bulldozers, sources close to the Israeli government said.


Iraqi Mothers Demand To Visit Their Imprisoned Children

13 December 2003 english.aljazeera.net

Relatives of Iraqis detained by US forces in the prison at Abu Ghuraib, infamous in Saddam Hussein's times as a centre of torture and death, are demanding visiting rights.

Families of Iraqis detained by the US authorities demonstrate demanding rights for prisoners in front of Abu Gharib prison, 20 kms north of Baghdad. The placard in Arabic reads, 'US army where did you bring our men?'(AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

A few dozen demonstrators gathered on Saturday outside the main entrance to the jail just west of Baghdad claiming their loved ones were innocent.

Each one had a story to tell of betrayal, revenge or misfortune.  Worse still none of the prisoners have been charged or allowed regular visits in the country's biggest penitentiary.

Hind Hussein al-Shumari, 35, said she had seen her brother only once, on 8 October, some three weeks after his arrest.

"He had trouble walking and hardly recognised me," said Shumari, from the Sunni quarter of Adhamiah.  She has moved in with her mother, two sisters, a sister-in-law and two nieces aged five and six.

Soldiers kicked down the door to her marital home and turned the place upside down before finding a revolver, she said.

"They beat him. They shouted at us in English and we answered in Arabic. No one could understand because there was neither a translator nor an Iraqi policeman."

For Um Muhammad, whose three sons were detained on 11 November in Baghdad's Adhamiyah district, the guilty party is her niece's husband.

"I opposed their marriage and he has taken his revenge," she said bemoaning the lack of news from her sons. Sabah Fahim brought her two sons and three-year-old daughter to the demonstration.

In June, the Americans arrested the father and brother of 32-year-old Omar Ahmad Radif in Baghdad. "I visited them six times when they were in Um Qasr prison," in the far south of Iraq.

But in November they were transferred to Abu Ghoraib and Radif said he has now been given a date of 23 April next year for a first visit.


Children of Iraqis detained by the US authorities demonstrate in front of Abu Gharib prison, 20 kms north of Baghdad. The placard in Arabic reads, 'God is great. Where is Freedom? Where is my father?'(AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

"George Bush Has Turned Iraq Into The Biggest Prison On Earth, And Called It Freedom."
By Scott Taylor in Iraq 07 December 2003, Al Jazeera

Every day hundreds of used and often stolen cars, bearing national license plates from all over Europe, cross the border into Kurdistan on their way to Baghdad.

Vast quantities of internationally donated food are also quick to find their way into the black market.

It is common to see vendors on Baghdad streets selling wheat and rice from packages emblazoned with the United Nations logo.

The fuel demands of the 140,000-strong US occupation force that are constantly patrolling in heavy armoured vehicles have overtaxed the locally produced gasoline stocks.


"THE BIGGEST PRISON ON EARTH:"  Families of Iraqis detained by the US authorities demonstrate in front of Abu Gharib prison, 20 kms north of Baghdad. Abu Gharib prison holds some 10,000 Iraqi inmates(AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

In the streets of Fallujah city, which is known for its resistance to occupation, Arabic graffiti proclaims, "It is not okay to take American money, it is okay to kill the occupiers."

"They call this operation Iraqi Freedom," said Ibrahim Amin, a 47-year-old real estate broker, "but our world has become nothing but curfews, barbed wire, searchlights, and soldiers.

"George Bush has turned Iraq into the biggest prison on earth, and called it Freedom."

Stooge Officers Whine

As Almost Half Of New Iraqi Army Men Leave Ranks
By Harry de Quetteville in Baghdad, Daily Telegraph, December 12, 2003

Almost half the first recruits to the New Iraqi Army have abandoned their posts two months after they marched to the tune of an American military band and saluted before Paul Bremer, the coalition administrator.

Mahmoud Hussein still fingers the colonel's two stars on his epaulettes with emotion. "The last time I had these on was on April 8," he said, referring to the day before Baghdad fell.

"These new soldiers have no devotion to the service. All they have is a desire for money, and now they think they don't get enough in the new army, so they leave."  (Hey, come on, lighten up Colonel, serving as a traitor to protect a foreign occupation definitely does not come cheap.)

CIA Puppet And Pentagon Puppet Battle For Occupation $
By Nicolas Pelham in Baghdad, December 11 2003  Financial Times

Tensions have emerged between two influential formerly exiled political parties in Baghdad over control of Iraq's rapidly proliferating security organisations.

Ayad Allawi's Iraqi National Accord has accused the Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmad Chalabi, of undermining central authority by backing the creation of a private military company to secure the oil sector.

The sparring between Mr Chalabi and Mr Allawi dates from the 1990s, when both men led separate attempts to overthrow Saddam Hussein.  While Mr Chalabi is close to the Pentagon and advocates redrawing the Middle East political map,  Mr Allawi is regarded as closer to the CIA and fears further upsetting the status quo would inflame the region.

The latest dispute between the two men, both members of the Iraqi Governing Council's rotating presidency, erupted after close associates of Mr Chalabi teamed up with Erinys International, a Johannesburg-based security risk consultancy, to train and deploy a 6,500-strong Iraqi force at oil installations. The joint venture, Erinys Iraq, won an $80m two-year contract to protect oil sites across Iraq from sabotage.

"If such security companies are not under central government control there will be anarchy," said Mr Allawi. He said the interior ministry should regulate the oil security force.

Mr Chalabi has responded by accusing Mr Allawi of encouraging foreign interference in Iraq's security.   "The Governing Council did not to agree to spend $1.2bn on eight-week long courses for Iraqi police in Jordan.  It would be far more efficient to train them in Iraq," said Mr Chalabi.   Ibrahim al-Jannabi, Mr Allawi's deputy on the security committee, counters that the deal is worth $180m and is financed by the US, not Iraq.

Orders to disband Iraqi militias have been only loosely enforced.

DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK

Trouble At The Pentagon
Wall St. Journal 12.8.03

Washington–New reports by the Army and Marine Corps offering harsh assessments of the military’s intelligence capabilities during the war with Iraq are driving demand inside the military to add more intelligence specialists and more unmanned surveillance planes to the force.

A report of the Army’s Third Infantry Division said thee was a "mistaken perception" that Iraqi regular Army divisions would surrender en masse to U.S. forces. "A catch phrase was even coined, which reflected this optimistic view: ‘movement to parade,’" the report states. Instead, some Iraqis stood and fought, while the vast majority of them melted away into the population and are believed in some cases to be feeding the guerilla insurgency.

A senior defense official warned that the readiness of units returning from Iraq was likely to slip as soldiers take much-needed time off.

Army officials, however, are reluctant to ask for more troops, an expensive move that would likely cut into the service’s modernization and maintenance budget.

(Translation: more troops means less money for war profiteering defense contractors, and fewer job opportunities for the desk warriors who go on to work for the defense contractors after retirement from Pentagon procurement.)

AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS

Losing The War In Afghanistan
independent.co.uk 14 December 2003

After a relatively quick and casualty-free campaign - for the American military, if not Afghan civilians - Washington declared victory and moved on to begin preparations for tackling Saddam Hussein.  But just as the announcement of the official end to hostilities in Iraq has been followed by mayhem, the conflict has restarted in Afghanistan. The military bill for the Pentagon, so far, is a staggering $50bn - nearly £30bn.

Attacks in Afghanistan have begun to emulate those in Iraq: suicide bombings, which are not a traditional Afghan approach; similar types of explosive devices set off by remote control; missile attacks from longer range; and the targeting of foreign aid organisations and the UN.  Just as Iraqi guerrillas rocketed the Rashid Hotel in Baghdad when the US Deputy Defence Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, was staying there, so Afghan guerrillas fired rockets into the American embassy in Kabul during the visit of Mr Wolfowitz's boss, Donald Rumsfeld, less than week ago.

Eighteen months after the fall of their Islamist regime, the Taliban and their al-Qa'ida allies are resurgent, while the forces of the Kabul government are in retreat in large swaths of the south and east. The deputy governor of Zabul admits most of his province is now in Taliban hands, officials report that the situation is much the same in neighbouring Oruzgan, while about half the territory in Kandahar has slipped out of government control. In the dusty town of Spin Boldak close to the border with Pakistan in the east, where the Taliban was born, black and green flags celebrate its rebirth.

American forces in Afghanistan and the multinational International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) have come under fire more times in the past three months than the previous 15.

This year, 25 American and Isaf soldiers have been killed and 28 injured. The number of Afghans, allied and enemy, killed, according to the US military, is "several thousand". More than 400 Taliban fighters were said to have been killed in September.

CLASS WAR NEWS

Make This Man A Lt. Col.

"Although initial unemployment claims are at their highest level in six months, the labor market is not weakening."  Gary Bigg, an economist at Banc of America Securities LLC.

(Wall St. Journal 12.12.03

Bush Plans Fresh Attacks On Working Class Americans;

Import Prices Rise As Unfunded Costs Of Imperial War Tank Value Of Dollar
Wall St. Journal 12.12.03

"Overall import prices grew 0.4% in November, the fastest pace in 4 months, the Labor Department said.  The acceleration reflected a surge in prices of nonpetrolium goods, such as consumer items and capital equipment, which rose 0.3%.  Petroleum prices rose 1.1%, showing from 1.4% in October."

To deal with the huge budget deficits generated by the war and the Bush tax cuts for the rich, "Budget officials are considering a limit of a 4% increase for all discretionary accounts, which include everything from the Forest Service to the Pentagon for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2005.  

"Under that scenario, say individuals familiar with the White House deliberations, domestic programs would be squeezed sharply, as priority is given to homeland security and military needs."

(For more, check out the article "Happy Holidays For The Few" by Sharon Smith at www.socialistworker.org.)

"Too Much Steel" As Billions Live In Poverty
Wall St. Journal 12.8.03

"According to the OECD, world steel-making capacity exceeds global demand by at least 200 million metric tons.  This represents about 20% of the world’s roughly one billion metric tons of capacity, based on 2001 data.  Some steel making capacity has been shuttered in recent years, mainly because of the world-wide economic slowdown."

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