News and opinions on situation in Iraq
22/06/04 Dahr Jamail's Weblog
  Dahr Jamail has answered the first 8 questions I forwarded him for the Ask Dahr feature. I'm going to wait a day to post those, however, because we have a simply tremendous amount of exclusive content to highlight.

Below you will find each of Dahr's weblog entries from June 22.

First a quick update re the Sadiq Zoman situation. Since we published our editorial 24 hours ago, many of you have called the Army. In most cases, it seems there have been no answers. Someone reported luck reaching a JAG officer (a military prosecutor) who suggested he might look into the case. If he doesn't pursue the case, we'll release his name and phone number, too. Otherwise, we're hoping some of our reader/investigators might come up with other leads we can pursue. It sounds like lots of congressional representatives and a few members of the UK parliament have been getting ears-full from concerned constituents, as well. Keep up the pressure!

In case you missed it, our editorial is up at:

We have a lot of great new content in the Iraq Section, and a lot more on the way this week, including:

Iraq‚s Œsovereign‚ government to have little control over oil money by Chris Shumway The Coalition Provisional Authority, which oversees Iraq's oil revenues, has launched a last minute spending spree that appears likely to limit the ability of Iraq's new government to control the country's oil assets when it gains partial sovereignty on June 30. This investigation penetrates the veneer of “autonomy” and reveals who is really in control of Iraqi oil.

+ Fallujah Residents Protest Deadly Weekend Attack by U.S. Military by Jon Elmer The U.S. military says it killed key Zarqawi operatives in an airstrike against a Fallujah neighborhood last weekend, but evidence from neighbors suggests the victims were Iraqi civilians.

Recent Iraq News Briefs: + U.S. strikes Fallujah again; kills three more Iraqis + Israeli operatives reportedly conducting covert ops in Kurdistan + U.S. kills 22 in Fallujah airstrike + Abu Ghraib officer says White House, Pentagon pressured interrogators

We also have lots of fresh content in our other sections, too:


+ Suits: Uninsured Patients Charged More than Insurance Companies by Madeleine Baran A new lawsuit alleges that hospitals, which are required by law to care for every patient, are charging uninsured patients two to three times more than they charge insurance companies.

+ U.S. Chemical Companies Involved In Price-Fixing Scheme + Judge: Wal-Mart Discrimination Case Can Apply To All Female Employees + Supreme Court: Patients cannot sue HMOs for deadly payment decisions + Report: Two million fewer jobs than White House predictions + Possible nationwide union restructuring ahead + Lockheed Martin sees 16% profit increase largely at taxpayers expense


+ House Bill Would Enforce Patriot Act Secrecy Clause by Jessica Azulay Civil libertarians are concerned that House lawmakers may slip measures enhancing government spying and prosecuting powers into a little debated annual bill

+ Extreme Sentences Given to Men Connected to Paintball Training Club by Lisa Ashkenaz Croke Three Muslim men convicted of training for armed struggle against India and Russia were sentenced last week. Two of the sentences were harsh enough to provoke an outcry from the Muslim community — and from the presiding judge.

Finally, here are Dahr's latest weblog entries:

Exporting Violence weblog entry by Dahr Jamail

June 22 — The evening of the 21st found me at a CPA-approved demonstration of Shia men in support of the recent US airstrike of Fallujah. Remember, demonstrations in Iraq now must obtain permission from the CPA, otherwise risk being broken up by the military which has so often led to casualties of unarmed demonstrators during the occupation.

These CPA-sponsored demonstrations also tend to have US helicopters providing air support for them, which tends to be a giveaway as well.

The demonstration wasn't in support of killing the people of Fallujah, only those responsible for the killing of 7 Shi'ite truck drivers there a short time ago. Several of the men were quick to point out that they believed most of the people in Fallujah were honest and good. One of the fathers of several of the slain men showed us gruesome photos of their mangled bodies while three large mortar blasts rocked the nearby so-called “Green Zone.” The concussion of the blasts reverberated in my bones, but the conversation continued uninterrupted.

This is Baghdad today. This is normal.

Hakkim had spoken there, and several of his Badr “organization” were present — complete with full military fatigues and combat boots, submachine guns, sniper rifles, and AK-47s. (The quotation marks above are because the Badr Brigade was renamed when it “disbanded,” to the “Badr organization.”) This despite the statement that Al-Hakkim's militia had disbanded, and his guards were only supposed to be carrying “light weapons.” Iraqi Police drove slowly by while nervously watching the members of the heavily armed Badr “organization” from their trucks.

Meanwhile, Iraqi anger seethed about the second air strike in Fallujah in 4 days, which Iraqi Police and residents of Fallujah are claiming killed nobody but civilians. Yesterday, the bodies of 4 US soldiers were found in Ramadi, which isn't a surprise. During each of my recent visits to Ramadi, I've found the people there in total solidarity with Fallujah. Most of the tribes there occupy both cities, and many people in Ramadi even refer to Fallujah as part of Ramadi.

Ramadi and Baqubah both remain tense with recent fighting; the potential of them turning into the next Fallujah remains quite present.

During a recent visit to pick up my airplane ticket out of Baghdad, I learned that the airport road and all civilian flights out of the capital will be closed on June 30th. The service I'm using was instructed to rebook all of its June 30 flights to the 29th or July 1st. It will be interesting to see if the airport is reopened on July 1st. The nickname for the airport road is “RPG Alley.”

This just underscores the tenuousness of the grip the US occupation forces have on the situation here. It certainly wouldn't take much to tip this delicately balanced scale into complete chaos and bloodshed. The feeling amongst many Iraqis is that any semblance of control the “coalition” appears to have is merely an illusion.

I saw a clip on BBC of US troops handing out Frisbees to residents of a village near Fallujah. The clip began with a Marine saying, “What happened on 9/11 really affected me, so our duty now is to export violence to the 4 corners of the globe so that that doesn't happen again.” And Iraq has which connection to 9/11, exactly?

Maybe the US could export aid to the hospitals of Iraq rather than Frisbees and violence?

Just a thought.

Struggling to Survive weblog entry by Dahr Jamail

June 22 — I revisited Chuwader General Hospital in Sadr City yesterday. Unlike at Yarmouk Hospital, the manager at Chuwader was very open about the desperate plight facing his hospital, where 78 doctors work with desperate medicine and equipment shortages to serve an average of 3,000 daily visitors.

I was taken on a tour where I saw the kitchen facilities in complete disrepair, toilets which overflowed across the floor in the intensive care wing, X-Ray equipment dated from the 1970s and beds lined up with patients in one of the dirty lobbies.

It was clear that not only does this hospital need immediate rehabilitation and re-supplying, but an entirely new hospital is required in the impoverished Sadr City to even begin to meet the needs of the 1.2 million desperate residents of this sprawling area, which experiences fighting between the Mehdi Army and the occupation forces on a near daily basis.

This is a hospital that can spend only $200 per day to feed its 308 in-patients. This is a hospital that is regularly invaded by US troops who, according to several of the doctors, walk straight into wards looking for fighters without consulting the doctors first.

Also here, an Iraqi subcontractor visited (and billed) to “repair” a malfunctioning X-Ray machine 6 times in a 30 day period last July/August. The machine remains in disrepair today.

As the tour continued, I had a gut level reaction of just needing to leave. I told Abu Talat: “This is enough. I have seen enough. We can go now.”

He put his hand on my shoulder and gently said: “We're almost finished. I know you are tired, but let's finish this.”

We were taken to see premature babies, kept two per incubator in a small maternity ward where fatigued nurses constantly monitored their fragile condition. My friend Tarek and I were allowed inside the room to see the babies — their tiny bodies breathing rapidly while they struggled to survive.

Shortly after this we shook hands with Dr. Khaim Jabbar for and thanked him for showing us around, and walked out into the blazing heat and filth of Sadr City. After stepping over streams of raw sewage running under the stalls of the food vendors outside we got into the car and slowly made our way out of the slum that so many Baghdad residents call home.

I looked out the window at the grimy children playing in the garbage on which goats were feeding and considered that if those premature babies did, by chance, survive — this would most likely be their life.

Tears welled up as I felt a deep despair. “My God what can be done about this? What is the point of all this work when nothing seems to be changing here?” I asked, more to the people I gazed upon, rather than to Tarek or Abu Talat. They were both quick to reassure me that we can't stop this work we do, that it is worthy and needed while I wiped my tears.

Abu Talat softly said, “I think it is because you know you are leaving soon also.” He knows me better than I know myself sometimes. And he was right.

Later that evening, with yet another instance of perfect timing, my editor forwarded me a long list of comments from various readers who expressed support for the reporting I've been doing here for 11 weeks now. I want to thank you very much for taking the time to write these. Those comments have never failed to arrive at the perfect time when I've needed the support most.

It is easy to get tunnel vision here — focusing day after day on the dire situation this occupation has created in Iraq. Easy to forget that people are actually reading about the stories, and are working hard in several countries for change. Change that Iraqis need so desperately.


Dahr Jamail is Baghdad correspondent for The NewStandard. He is an Alaskan devoted to covering the untold stories from occupied Iraq. You can help Dahr continue his crucial work in Iraq by making donations. For more information or to donate to Dahr, visit .


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