"We won. Rebuilding is for losers. Time to party! Then it's off to Syria for the next invasion." -- satirist Stephen Colbert, on The Daily Show, quoted by Frank Rich, p.87
War with IranIn reality, Ali is Fereidoun Mahdavi, a secretary to Iranian arms merchant Manucher Ghorbanifar. Ghorbanifar and Mahdavi, himself a former minister under the regime of the Shah of Iran, are peddling a spurious tale of stolen uranium traveling between Iran and Iraq, a tale already disproven by numerous intelligence agencies. Weldon is apparently unaware of the agenda behind the meetings, which he believes are opportunities for him to secure important military information. Ghorbanifar and Mahdavi are apparently attempting, again, to manipulate American policy in the Persian Gulf in a way that profits Iran at the expense of the US, Iraq, and other Middle Eastern countries. As documented in other areas of this site, Ghorbanifar has had some success in this area before, having helped the US set up its arms-for-hostage deal under the Reagan administration that would eventually become known as the Iran-Contra scandal. Ghorbanifar has long been viewed as an unreliable "fabricator" by the CIA.
Conservative media slantThrough exhaustive researching of the editorial publishings of four different leading American newspapers -- the "liberal" New York Times and Washington Post, and the "conservative" Wall Street Journal and Washington Times, and concludes that while both sets of newspapers are more or less equally partisan in supporting or criticizing a given president's (Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) particular policy initiatives, the conservative papers are far more virulent in their criticism of their opposition. Additionally, the conservative papers are far less willing to criticize Republican administrations; the liberal papers, by contrast, are quite willing to criticize Democratic administrations. The conservative papers are far more willing to indulge in attacks of a personal, vituperative nature than the liberal papers (the conservative papers routinely use terms like "Clintonite pod people," "Kremlinologists," and "Democratic sheep," with no equivalent examples from the liberal papers, which attempted to maintain a tone of respect towards Bush even when disagreeing with his policies). Tomasky notes that one of the reasons why the Whitewater scandal gained so much ground among the mainstream media is because the "liberal" New York Times joined conservative outlets in criticizing the Clinton administration, so much so that conservative columnists and reporters routinely included phrases such as "But even the New York Times agrees that...." (The Times was later forced to admit that much of its criticism of Whitewater and the Clintons was based on misinformation and lies from shady, unreliable sources, many of them associated with the "get-Clinton" Arkansas Project. More about the Arkansas Project can be read in the appropriate pages of this site. It is notable that most other news outlets, particularly those with a conservative slant, never acknowledged the falsity of much of their Whitewater-based reporting.) Tomasky notes that, while it is reckless to speculate that the Times' anti-Clinton slant drove the impeachment proceedings, it is quite likely that, had the Times focused more of its criticism on the illegalities of the Kenneth Starr investigation and less on Clinton, the Democrats who went along with the impeachment proceedings might have fought harder against the impeachment of their president.
Conservative media slantDaly and Valentine assemble a star-studded cast to record the award-winning book, which tells the story of the first atomic bombing through the eyes of six Hiroshima survivors. NPR, supposedly a "liberal" news outlet, turns Daly and Valentine down, saying that the broadcast "clearly represent[s] a reaction to looming events [the Iraqi war] and from a news perspective it [is] premature." The show eventually airs on the much smaller Pacifica Radio Network in August, and prompts powerful reactions from its listeners, including real-life Hiroshima survivor Shigeko Sasamori, who says, "Everybody, not just presidents and congressmen, need to be educated about how war is a horrible thing. But time passes, and they forget.... I have a mission to tell people how terrible it was so that people can recognize that war is nothing good.... I have to help people understand -- not just understand, take action so that there is no more war. No more Hiroshima." (Amy Goodman and David Goodman)
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityCurrently between 1% and 2% of the material shipped into the US through its ports are being inspected; the rest comes in unscathed. Weeks later, Democratic senator Jon Corzine introduces the Chemical Security Act, a strong bill that would mandate companies owning nuclear and/or chemical facilities work up anti-terrorist measures that would protect these plants from terrorist attacks; Corzine's bill is opposed by the industries involved, and so that bill is scrapped in favor of Republican James Inhofe's Chemical Facilities Security Act, introduced in mid-May, which renders such anti-terrorist measures voluntary and not under government scrutiny, and even prohibits the EPA from investigating any "improvements" the industries may make. "Unfortunately, the bill does very little to secure Americans who work and live around these facilities," says Corzine. "The bill may provide an illusion of security, but it's little more than a fig leaf that would leave chemical plants highly vulnerable to terrorism." A similar Inhofe bill, the Nuclear Infrastructure Security Act, supplants the far tougher Nuclear Security Act submitted by Senate Democrats. (GoxExec, Mark Crispin Miller)
Iraq war and occupationWhile it is possible that al-Zarqawi was injured during the attack, reports of his death will later prove to be in error. This will not be the first time that al-Zarqawi's death is announced, including a number of claims by the US to have killed al-Zarqawi in this or that attack. Sheikh Jawad Al-Kalesi, who will later claim, also erroneously, that al-Zarqawi will be killed in the Kurdish northern region of Iraq at the beginning of the US-led war on the country, later says, "Zarqawi has been used as a ploy by the United States, as an excuse to continue the occupation. saying that it was a pretext so they don't leave Iraq." Reports of his capture in 2004 by Iraqi forces, who subsequently release him because of a failure to realize his identity, have been called "plausible" by US officials, but these reports remain unverified. (Wikipedia)
Middle East unrestJowitt says in part, "It is true that a more democratically included Iranian middle class exists. The problem? Most of it lives in Los Angeles. As for the part remaining in Iran, unlike the Polish middle class at the time of Solidarity's revolution against the Communist Party, the Iranian middle classes have no experience organizing against or fighting the regime. Even Iranian students who have a much more favorable base for organizing have been singularly ineffective in their demands for a more moderate mode of rule.
Iraq war and occupationThough his patrons at the White House and the Pentagon support him, the US generals in the Middle East have no use for the corrupt Chalabi or his small army of exiles and mercenaries. Finally, General John Abizaid, the second-in-command of US forces in the region, says to reconstruction head Jay Garner, "Okay, let's put the son of a b*tch in there and see if he can do what all of them think he can do. And I'll tell you he can't." The US flies Chalabi and his band of irregulars, dubbed the "Free Iraqi Freedom Fighters," into the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah aboard a C-130 transport plane. General James Marks, head of the US task force to find and neutralize Iraqi WMDs, sees Chalabi as the exile is disembarking, and thinks that Chalabi is trying to emulate the famous look of General Douglas MacArthur -- leading a group of his people while wearing a black hat and bush hat. Looking over Chalabi's group, Marks thinks, "Check your wallets. Boy, that's a nasty crowd." Within days, reports start coming in of FIFF "troops" stealing, looting, and carrying out reprisals against personal enemies. Driving along a road in their Humvee, Marks and another intelligence officer, Colonel Jon Jones, spots a group of several bearded Iraqis gathered around a fire at the side of the road. They are roasting some animal -- sheep or dog -- on a spit and dancing around. Marks thinks it looks like a scene from the novel Lord of the Flies. James and Marks look at one another with the same thought: "Free Iraqi Freedom Fighters," they both say before driving on. (Bob Woodward)
Iraq war and occupationThe official story claims that Lynch fought her captors even after suffering multiple gunshot and stab wounds: "She did not want to be taken alive," says one military spokesman, who then regales reporters with lurid descriptions of her multiple gunshot and knife wounds. The real story is Lynch, along with several of her fellow soldiers, was injured when her vehicle overturned, and was captured and taken to a hospital by Iraqi soldiers; no gunshot or stab wounds are found on Lynch. The "daring rescue" was actually performed for the cameras; Iraqi forces had left the hospital the day before, and the film of US soldiers crashing into the hospital and firing at unseen (and nonexistent) adversaries was staged for the cameras, which were set up ahead of time. An Iraqi civilian had actually tried to return Lynch to her unit, but when their ambulance was fired upon by American forces, he fled back to the hospital. The Army now claims Lynch has suffered a permanent loss of memory and will never be able to recall the events of that particular time period, and the Lynch family has been forbidden to discuss the rescue with the media. (See the May 15, 2003 item regarding the hoked-up rescue of Lynch by the Marines for more information.) A year later, Lynch, whose memory is perfectly fine, will tell ABC's Diane Sawyer that it bothered her "that they used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. I mean, yeah, it's wrong."
Iraq war and occupationShortly thereafter, the Times sanitizes its Web version of the report, deleting key paragraphs and rewriting the headline to read, "U.S. Fire Angers British." The Web site The Memory Hole finds the original version of the article and compares the two. It notes that the deleted paragraphs included key information, such as: the US pilot strafed the British light tanks on its second pass, presumably not noticing the large Union Jack emblems on the machines; the soldiers waved at the pilot, trying to get him to notice that they were British soldiers, not Iraqis; five or six US planes were involved in the attack, though only one strafed the British tanks; and a British survivor said the pilot had gone "on a jolly." It is difficult to fathom the Times's decision to sanitize the article, except in the interest of sacrificing truth for the objective of downplaying the seriousness of the lethal error and not holding the US military accountable for the attack on the British. (Los Angeles Times/The Memory Hole)
Iraq war and occupationRepublican Guard puts up fierce resistance. Kurdish militia forces working in concert with US and coalition forces occupy the northern city of Mosul. (Wikipedia)
Iraq war and occupation(commanding US forces in Iraq), and other key officials in the Pentagon directing them to support Jay Garner's reconstruction efforts "as required," and saying that Garner's mission is "to help create the conditions for transition to Iraqi self-rule and the withdrawal of coalition forces upon completion of their military objectives. One of Garner's staff members, Colonel Tom Baltazar, gets a copy, and is sourly amused. The memo was impelled by Garner's complaints that his group is getting no cooperation from the military commands. It is amazing, Baltazar observes, that even though the presidential directive of January 20 directs the military to support Garner's efforts, it takes a memo from Rumsfeld to actually get anything done. (Bob Woodward)
Iraq war and occupationUS troops pushing into Baghdad kill between 2,000 and 3,000 Iraqi soldiers in a single day, a huge bloodletting. In line with Pentagon policy, American news outlets refuse to air coverage of any dead or wounded Iraqis, even though embedded reporters were capturing hours of grisly footage of combat and slaughter. Instead, what is shown is video-game-like footage of "smart bombs" targeting buildings, and the loss of human life, both Iraqi and American, is termed "collateral damage" with no video footage accompaniment. (Wikipedia, Amy Goodman and David Goodman)
Military-industrial complex"A tragic indicator of the values of our civilization is that there's no business like war business," says Douglas Mattern of the War and Peace Foundation. "I believe arms sales will increase even beyond the staggering amount we have today, due to a continuing destabilization of the area and the lobbying for sales by the armament industry," Mattern continues. One writer describes a "charmed circle of American capitalism, where Tomahawk and cruise missiles will destroy Iraq, Bechtel Corporation (which once employed US Vice President Dick Cheney) will rebuild the country. And stolen Iraqi oil will pay for it." Natalie Goldring, executive director of the Program on Global Security and Disarmament at the University of Maryland, says that "US weapons contractors are likely to gain significant profits because of this war. ...They'll be paid to replace the weapons that are used or destroyed in the war. The companies will also trumpet their successes at next summer's Paris Air Show, searching for foreign buyers." She continues, "We have armed unstable regimes with our most sophisticated weapons, and have then used the widespread proliferation of the weapons as the argument for producing the next generation of more expensive weapons. The vicious cycle continues." (Inter Press Service/CommonDreams)
Neoconservatives"As we move toward a new Middle East, over the years and, I think, over the decades to come...we will make a lot of people very nervous." He calls it World War IV (World War III being the Cold War according to neoconservatives like himself), and says it will be fought against the religious rulers of Iran, the "fascists" of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic extremists like al-Qaeda. He singles out the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, saying, "We want you nervous." This echoes the rhetoric of the Project for the New American Century, of which Woolsey is a supporter, and the singling out of Egypt and Saudi Arabia echoes the rhetoric of the Defense Policy Board, of which he is a member. In July 2002, a presentation to that board concluded, "Grand strategy for the Middle East: Iraq is the tactical pivot. Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot. Egypt the prize." (CNN)
Conservative smear campaignsKerry says that, after talking to foreign diplomats and world leaders recently, he has concluded that "it will take a new president" to repair the damage Bush has done because other leaders are not "going to trust this president, no matter what. What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States." Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert replies, "Senator Kerry's remark, equating regime change in Iraq with regime change in the United States, is not what we need at this time. What we need is for this nation to pull together, to support our troops and to support our commander in chief." House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is even more harsh in his criticism of Kerry, prompting Democrats to remind him that during the Kosovo air campaign, DeLay did not spare then-president Bill Clinton: "We have a president I don't trust," DeLay said then, "who has proven my reason for not trusting him: He had no plan. We have a civil war that was falsely described as a huge humanitarian problem, when in comparison to other places, it was nothing." (Washington Post)
Iraq war and occupationalthough significant amounts of atropine, a nerve agent antidote, and documents detailing chemical warfare procedures are found, no forbidden materials are discovered. Most of the liquids found are pesticides; other materials identified as possible chemical agents are later determined to be ordinary explosives. (Wikipedia, TomPaine)
Iraq war and occupation"We did not have the power grid as a target," says a Pentagon spokesperson. "That was not our target." In reality, US air strikes targeted portions of Baghdad's power grid on April 1 and 2, and ground forces attacked the power grid south of Baghdad on Highway 6. (Amy Goodman and David Goodman)
Iraq war and occupationrequests that the funds be allocated directly to the White House, where it can be spent without Congressional oversight or public notice. A memo from senior Republicans says that the arragement would erect "a wall of executive privilege [that] would deny Congress and the [House Appropriations] Committee access to management of the fund." (Stephen Pizzo/Daily Misleader)
Iraq war and occupationAl-Majid is not there (he is captured four months later). However, ten members of the middle-class Hamoodi family, who are not Ba'athists and have no connection to Hussein nor to terrorist groups, are killed, including a 12-year old daughter, a 13-year old son, an 18-year old son studying to be a doctor, a 19-year old daughter, a 10-year old grandson who had begged to stay the night at his grandfather's house, a two-year old grandson, and an infant granddaughter. The matriarch of the family, along with a 40-year old aunt who was to be married in a few weeks, and a 34-year old daughter who had come to her father's house because she was afraid of the fighting near her home, are also killed. In all, 10 of the 14 members of the Hamoodi family are killed, along with 13 other innocent Iraqis. Abed Hamoodi, the family patriarch who survived the bombing, says of the slaughter, "I consider what was done to be a crime of war. How would President Bush feel if he had to dig his daughters from out of the rubble?" Peter Singer asks, "Was [al-Majid's] death so important that it was worth killing twenty-three innocent people that was by no means sure of success? The death of a number of civilians -- it might be only one or two, it might be fifty -- is always predictable when a civilian neighborhood is bombed. The principle of proportionality seems to have been forgotten here. So, too, has the idea of fostering and encouraging respect for life throughout the world." Two days later, an unsuccessful attempt to kill the sons of Saddam Hussein kills 14 innocent civilians at or near a restaurant in Baghdad. Two months later, incorrect intelligence leads US warplanes to strike at a automobile convoy purporting to be carrying Hussein's sons; the convoy is made up of a group of Iraqi smugglers seeking to evade Iraqi taxes. Eighty people, including a number of innocent bystanders, are killed. Hussein's sons were not in the convoy. Journalist Seymour Hersh writes of the bombing that the military unit assigned to the operation is obviously "not interested in prisoners" and "obviously shoots to kill." (Peter Singer)
Iraq war and occupationNo evidence that foreign terrorists were ever housed or trained at the camp is unearthed, nor is any evidence that Salman Pak was a biological warfare center found. The evidence does show that Salman Pak was a counter-terrorist training facility, used to train Hussein's forces in taking back jetliners hijacked by, among others, Islamic terrorists. It is likely that in the 1980s the camp was partially funded, and training provided, by CIA agents. (Seymour Hersh)
Iraq war and occupationunnamed choices of his own from the Department of Defense, Ryan Henry, Douglas Feith's chief deputy, calls Garner with the list of new people Rumsfeld wants emplaced. "When are they going to get here?" asks Garner, who has been resisting Rumsfeld's attempts to replace his people. (See earlier items.) "Well, we don't know," says Henry. "We haven't even notified some of them yet." "Ryan, let's be realistic on this," Garner replies. "You'll never get them here on time." Major combat operations were winding down, and US troops were poised to enter Baghdad. "No," Henry says, "we're going to work this hard." Garner knows the entire idea is ridiculous. He has another suggestion. "Here's what you have to do to be successful. "You bring John Abizaid in the country and you promote him." As Tommy Franks's deputy, Abizaid was too far away from the action. "Make him a sub-unified commander, because you need a four-star [general]. And put me in charge of all the reconstruction, civil administration. Put [General David] McKiernan in charge of all the security and military operations." Rumsfeld refuses, without saying why; Garner continues to press, believing it would unify command in the theater, with both Garner and McKiernan reporting directly to Abizaid. Finally, Rumsfeld tells Garner, "I'm not talking about this anymore." Garner is unaware that Bush and Condoleezza Rice are opposed to naming a military man to lead Iraq's interim government. Imagine, Rice thinks. "President John Abizaid." Rice, a student of Soviet history, is sure that once Hussein is gone, with a little prompting the Iraqi government will right itself after a period of turmoil and inaction, just like the USSR did after Stalin's death. (Bob Woodward)
Iraq war and occupationChalabi, who claims to have no interest in a political position, begins dispensing jobs, monies, and favors from his new offices in the Baghdad Hunting Club, a private enclave formerly favored by Saddam's son Uday. Pressure from the Bush administration to "force"Chalabi to take the position of president increases; one official says without irony, "George Washington turned it down many times. I wouldn't be surprised if the Iraqi people prevail on him." On May 5, US General Jay Garner will name Chalabi as one of five Iraqis likely to be appointed as the nucleus of a new interim government. Interestingly, the State Department, who has routinely been cut out of the planning behind the Iraq invasion, has no idea or advance warning of Chalabi's entry. (In These Times, Greg Palast)
Antiwar protests(One article, which states that it is "unclear whether protesters was injured," is accompanied by photographs documenting several injuries, including a young woman who was apparently shot in the face from close range and severely wounded.) 31 people, including 9 longshoremen uninvolved in the protests, are injured. The protesters were not violent, but were blocking access to the American Presidents Line pier, who they accuse of profiteering from the war in Iraq. City council aide Joel Tena, an observer of the protest, says he saw no provocation by the picketers. "I was there from 5 AM on, and the only violence I saw was from the police. ...It was scary. They were shooting indiscriminately," he says. "I have been to many protests over the years, and I have never seen police resort to shooting people because they didn't like where they were standing," says one protester, an attorney who was shot in the back as he was moving in the direction ordered by police. "They had loaded guns and started charging."
Attack on civil libertiesMany are arrested even after they inform the police that they are willing to leave the area. They are held overnight without access to lawyers, and are grilled about their political beliefs. After many detainees file a lawsuit, all charges are either dropped or the charged defendants are acquitted. (Mark Crispin Miller)