Iraq war and occupationWithin hours every computer is stolen and almost all disks, videos, and text documents are destroyed or trampled by mobs of looters. Iraqi scientists will return to the building and try to reconstruct the materials left behind, but it is almost hopeless. The INMD is the former government ministry responsible for coordinating all UN weapons inspections visits, and the repository for every Iraqi government document relating to its weapons programs. Why the US military decided to leave such a critical site unguarded has yet to be explained. (New York Times)
Iraq war and occupation(See the April 21 item for an overview.) Herbits has completed a list of the characteristics a new administrator will need: commitment to Bush's vision, responsiveness to Bush and his senior officials and to Rumsfeld, judgment, stature, presence, communications abilities, ability to work with senior military officials, empathy, political negotiation skills, bipartisan respect, interagency skills, availability, and stamina. The organization chart, still in flux, has Jay Garner reporting directly to the new administrator. Under the section concerning key tasks for the transition to an interim Iraqi government, all the economic and political issues are listed under the heading "Not Currently Addressed." This covers everything from debt, credit, and oil policy to the tasks of reform, rule of law, and political process for the new government -- two weeks after the fall of Baghdad.
Iraq war and occupationThe two, longtime Kurdish rivals, both want to form an interim government with themselves as its heads. Garner is alarmed. Iraq is majority Shi'ite, and the Kurds have long wanted to form their own autonomous country, carved from Iraq and possibly from other neighboring countries like Turkey. Any new Iraqi government would have to be at least partially Shi'ite. Talabani denies they are planning to form a government, and instead says he and Barzani want to form an advisory group leading to the formation of a new government. Garner approves, and Talabani says the group will be "all of us that worked with Zal," Zalmay Khalilzad of the National Security Council, who has been working with the Kurds for a year and a half in preparation for the invasion. Talabani lists three people to be involved besides himself and Barzani: Adnan Pachachi, an aged Sunni who had formerly been Iraq's foreign minister and UN ambassador, Ayad Allawi, the Shi'ite leader of a London-based exile group, and Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress. Garner says that the problem is that all but Talabani and Barzani are expatriates who have been in exile for decades. "What about someone from inside the country who's been here who's an Arab?" Talabani recommends Mohammed Bakir Hakim, the spiritual leader of the biggest Shi'ite group in Iraq, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). "We thought we'd bring in [Ibrahim al-Jafiri, a Shi'ite exile] and we'll bring in a Christian." Garner objects that Hakim has close connections to Iran. "Jay," says Talabani, "it's better to have Hakim inside the tent than outside the tent." "That's damn good advice," Garner says, and agrees to Talabani's advisory group. "Look, if this works, I'll make you a provisional government," Garner promises. "You'll still work for me but I'll make you a provisional government." He then asks Talabani to get to work drafting a new constitution for Iraq.
Iraq war and occupationIraq, chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix tells the BBC, "I think it's been one of the disturbing elements that so much of the intelligence on which the capitals built their case seemed to have been so shaky." (Seymour Hersh)
Conservative smear campaignsFor over a month, Bush officials and their mouthpieces in the media have been attacking France in general, but an anonymous White House staffer opens the floodgates of the attack strategy against Kerry by saying that the Democratic presidential candidate cannot be trusted because he looks French. Then the fun really begins.
Iraq war and occupationat the State Department, appears on ABC's Nightline to tell Ted Koppel and the world that the price of the reconstruction of Iraq will be no more than $1.7 billion. The exchange between Natsios and Koppel appears for a time on government websites, but will be removed once it is seen just how critically wrong Natsios's avowed price tag has become. Visit Cost of War to find out just how much we have paid to date for the war, or see the counter on the home page of this site. The nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments estimates in 2005 that the cost of reconstruction could easily top out at over $700 billion. (ABC/Al Franken)
Iraq war and occupationIn the organizational chart of authority and responsibility, the newly created position, which will later be called "administrator," is directly above Garner. Garner realizes that he is essentially being demoted. "Well, if he's already selected somebody then, I'll come home." Rumsfeld wants Garner to stay in Iraq as Bremer's deputy, but Garner rebuffs him: "It doesn't work that way. You can't have the guy who used to be in charge and the guy who's now in charge there, because you divide the loyalties of the people. So the best thing for me is just to step out of here." Rumsfeld asks Garner to stay until he can get to Iraq, and reminds him, "This has always been our plan." Garner walks away from the phone call feeling betrayed. "I was thinking," he recalls, "those sons of b*tches. I busted my *ss. I dropped everything I had. I walked away from everything I was doing. I thought I had done an incredibly good job at that time. In my head I thought I had." Garner says later that he feels cheated. "I was naive enough to think that I could get all this started and there would be such a groundswell among the Iraqis.... I thought, 'I've got everything going.' And all they were going to have to do is wait and see it come to fruition, and it's not going to take long for that to happen. What really got me is they never really announced what they were doing. Suddenly Bremer's coming and it looks like they fired me, which they may have. I think to the outside world I was seen as the envoy to Iraq, whatever you want to call it, the first governor and all that. Inside the administration, inside Defense, I was seen as a mechanic. 'We hired this guy.' I certainly never had the status I had to the outside world."
Iraq war and occupation"We are learning more as we interrogate or have discussions with Iraqi scientists and people within the Iraqi structure, that perhaps he destroyed some [WMDs], perhaps he dispersed some. And so we will find them." (Talking Proud, Democratic Underground)
Iraq war and occupationalong with the ferocity of anti-American rhetoric throughout Iraq, press secretary Ari Fleischer dismisses the reports as "the message of a few" and asserts that most Iraqis are "experiencing the joy of being liberated." (David Corn)
Iraq war and occupation"Shock and awe said to many people that all we've got to do is unleash some might and people will crumble," he says. "And it turns out the fighters were a lot fiercer than we thought. ...The resistance for our troops moving south and north was significant resistance." (Consortium News, Talking Proud)
Iraq war and occupation"The State Department is back at work pursuing policies that will clearly throw away all of the fruits of hard-won victory" in Iraq, he tells an audience at the American Enterprise Institute. Deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage responds, "It's clear that Mr. Gingrich is off his meds and out of therapy." (Bob Woodward)
Prewar intelligence on IraqThey cite the planting of Soviet arms in Guatemala in 1954, the "discovery" of which was used as reason for the CIA overthrow of the sitting government in that country; they also cite evidence proving that Alabama Air National Guard planes, not renegade Cuban Air Force planes, were responsible for air attacks on Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961; the Tonkin Gulf hoax that Lyndon Johnson used to justify escalating the US military presence in Vietnam; the numerous hoaxes and fabrications employed by the Reagan/Bush administrations in Latin America; and the faked testimony in 1991 of Iraqi atrocities in Kuwaiti hospitals, along with faked satellite photos of Iraqi troop buildups, that helped shore up UN and American support for the Persian Gulf War. (Common Dreams)
Conservative smear campaignsOn June 20, the Christian Science Monitor, which along with the Daily Telegraph broke the story, will confirm that the documents are forgeries. The question of who created the forgeries and planted them in the remains of the house to be found by reporters remains to be answered, though psyops expert Colonel Sam Gardiner asks, "Who has anything to gain? Is this part of the pattern of punishment?" (Christian Science Monitor, Christian Science Monitor, Amy Goodman and David Goodman)
Republican corruptionWhite was named to the post through the auspices of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who insisted on having corporate officials and not military generals heading the various armed forces; he also had Grumman's John Roche named to head the Air Force, and General Dynamic's Gordon England as Secretary of the Navy. White, a Vietnam veteran with the Army, took the position of Secretary of the Army in May 2001, after heading the Enron Engineering and Construction Company, which was implicated in the 2000-2001 California energy crisis and the graft of tens of millions of illegal profit for Enron. White used his experience at Enron procuring military contracts to set up similar contracts for friendly corporations as Army Secretary. In late October 2001, after numerous phone calls to Enron's Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, White unloaded a huge amount of Enron stock, pocketing $12 million, just before the Enron stock price collapsed and the company announced its imminent bankruptcy. White had promised that, upon his investiture as Secretary of the Army, he would immediately divest himself of any interest in Enron, but as late as January 2002, he still held 50,000 stock options and received an annuity from the company. Along with his stock investments, he was excoriated for using military jets to fly himself and his wife on personal trips.
US torture allegationsOn the chests of the men had been scrawled an Arabic phrase that translates as "Ali Baba Haram" -- Arabic for "dirty thief, he stole." A military spokesman confirms that the actions took place, but defend them by claiming that the victims were captured looters. The spokesman said that such punishments will continue. A number of human rights organizations have protested the actions, pointing out that such punishments are direct contraventions of the Geneva Convention agreements. A witness to one such proceeding says, "This is a disgusting way to treat people without trying them. How do we know these men were thieves? Even if they were, this is no way to treat them. If this is US democracy, they can keep it. It's just another way of keeping people in their place. I believe it will cause big trouble." Amnesty International said: "It was an appalling way to treat prisoners. Such degrading treatment is a clear violation of US responsibilities." (The Memory Hole)
Antiwar protestsHis daughter is an active member of the antiwar Peace and Justice Coalition in Marin County, California, and Cerre wanted to ensure that her colleagues got the straight story about what was really happening in Iraq. Cerre speaks to his daughter's school about his experiences in Iraq: "I talked to them in the context that these Marines were their age who, right or wrong, had made a commitment to do something, were doing something, and were making great sacrifices, and that if they wanted to oppose the war, fine, but they have to make sacrifices equal to those guys who are involved it in, or else they didn't count as far as I was concerned. I think they were impressed by the selflessness of these Marines -- their maturity and their sense of commitment -- and which is sometimes hard to find in kids this age. They understood that they were living through a part of history, and this was not a time to be sitting on the sidelinesm if they were for or against it, they ought to be involved because it was an important part of history. Whatever else they had going on in their lives, it could not be as important as what these guys were experiencing and what the country was going through. My daughter's still very much opposed to the war and the reason behind it and the decision to do it, but she also has the ultimate respect for the troops, which is something that was different during the Vietnam era." (Bill Katovsky and Timothy Carlson)
April 25: "Now that the war in Iraq is all but over, should the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?" -- Fox News "liberal" Alan Colmes, quoted by Dave Zweifel
Iraq war and occupationThe resolution, which passes after bitter opposition from Germany and France among others, also gives the US and Britain sole control of Iraqi oil revenues. While Tony Blair once advocated a UN-managed "trust fund" for Iraqi oil profits that would ensure Iraqi oil money would be used for the benefit of the Iraqi people, in reality the oil revenues are being spent at the US's and Britain's discretion; much of the money is going for compensation for the 1991 invasion of Kuwait. (Independent, Guardian)
Conservative media slantThe venue is the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, where Franken is a guest of US News and World Report. During a performance by Ray Charles, Franken journeys over to the cluster of Fox tables to chat with Alan Colmes, and during their discussion asks Colmes if he isn't "laying down" by refusing to confront Colmes's co-host Sean Hannity about Hannity's numerous lies and misstatements. Suddenly Fox sports anchor Brian Kilmeade, twenty years younger than Franken, accosts Franken, accusing him of "bothering" Colmes; the potentially ugly confrontation defuses when someone else from the Fox tables asks the two for a photo of them together, and Franken tosses an arm around Kilmeade and tells him to smile. Later on during the dinner, Franken takes a few snipes at fellow guests Karl Rove, Richard Perle, Donald Evans, and Paul Wolfowitz, who replies to Franken's remark that "the Clinton military did a great job in Iraq, didn't it?" by snapping, "F*ck off." Two days later, NewsMax prints an interesting account of the evening based on Kilmeade's take on events, portraying Franken as drunk and belligerent, "uncontrollable" and almost "deranged," and accosting an entire table of Fox personnel. Internet gossipmonger Matt Drudge says that Franken was bleeding from the chin after the encounter, though, according to Kilmeade, no punches were thrown; in reality, Drudge had seen Franken at the beginning of the dinner, while Franken was blotting a shaving cut on his chin. (NewsMax/Tedd Keever, Al Franken)
Iraq war and occupationMarks writes of CENTCOM in his personal diary, "They are completely asleep at the switch. No one anticipated or executed on the req[uirements] to get details of WMD. How idiotic are these guys! Incredible!"
Partisan Bush appointeesAllen is well known for saying, as a member of Senator Jesse Helms's re-election campaign in 1984, that their Democratic opponent was vulnerable because of his links with "the queers." Allen is a hotly partisan anti-abortion activist who has worked to keep rape victims from receiving state assistance in receiving abortions. He also helped craft Virginia's abstinence-only sex education policy, and from his post at HHS, has worked to undermine international efforts to combat AIDS. Allen is a board member of Peacemaker Ministries, which has worked to defend clergy members from sexual abuse charges. After a contentious hearing in October 2003, he will not be confirmed, and Bush so far has failed to renominate him for the bench. (Independent Judiciary, Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
US militaryDays later, on May 1, Bush will strut onto the flight deck of the USS Lincoln to announce "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. "That's astonishing," writes investigative journalist Greg Palast. "Until George W. Bush, the United States of America has never, ever, removed all our military bases from a foreign land no matter how much locals b*tched or moaned. We even keep troops in Okinawa over the island's strong objections, and World War II ended sixty years ago. ...Bush was correct in announcing, 'Mission Accomplished.' However, it was not America's mission that was accomplished. It was Osama's." (Greg Palast)
Islamist terrorismBin Attash is a close friend of Osama bin Laden, lost a leg during the fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and ran the October 2001 attack on the USS Cole. Al-Balushi had sent almost $120,000 to Mohammed Atta, the main pilot in the 9/11 attacks. (Michael Scheuer)
Iraq war and occupationEmbedded authors Bill Katovsky and Timothy Carlson describe Fallujah as a "viper's nest of Saddam loyalists and Syrian, Jordanian, and Saudi terrorists...a symbol of Iraqi resistance and continual flashpoint for guerrilla attacks on American soldiers in postwar Iraq." The London Daily Mirror has two unilateral reporters, Chris Hughes and Julian Andrews, on the scene. Hughes believes the crowd was angry and unruly, but not armed, and posed no threat to the soldiers. He notes that 15 demonstrators had been shot and killed by troops two days before, and the crowds were savagely angry. "Locals were claiming lots of things," Hughes says later. "One of the claims they made was that one of the houses had been entered by US troops and was looted. So I asked the guy, 'Would you swear on the Koran that this is true? And in front of the photographer?' Then there was intense negotiation between the translator, who is a Shi'a, and this guy. He then started backtracking a lot -- as you can imagine."
Halliburton"Since at least the 1980's, federal laws have prohibited U.S. companies from doing business in one or more of these countries. Yet Halliburton appears to have sought to circumvent these restrictions by setting up subsidiaries in foreign countries and territories such as the Cayman Islands. These actions started as early as 1984; they appear to have continued during the period between 1995 and 2000, when Vice President Cheney headed the company; and they are apparently ongoing even today." Waxman's requests for information bear little fruit. (New York Times/Bernie Sanders)
Iraq war and occupationThe directive lists eleven things the Mukhabarat would do "in the event, God forbid, of the fall of our beloved leader." Each local Ba'ath cell, each squad of Fedayeen, and each individual Mukhabarat agent would be responsible for assassinating collaborators, burning the ministry buildings, looting, burning public documents, and other things that would lead to chaos. The document says nothing of sectarian violence or exploiting the divisions between Shi'ites, Kurds, and Sunnis, but leaves it up to the individual agents of the Ba'ath Party to decide how best to spread violence and chaos through the countryside. Hughes is stunned; the document shows that the US and coalition forces are up against far more than they counted on. In his book, Paul Bremer later writes of being shown a similar document from January 2003, offering contingency plans for the events following an overthrow of Hussein. "Burn this office," the memo read, listed strategies of "sabotage and looting," and ordered subordinates to "scatter agents to every town. Destroy electric power stations. Infiltrate the mosques, the Shi'ite holy places." (Bob Woodward)
Media manipulation and marketing by GOP"[Canadian broadcaster and Iraqi media advisor Dan] North said the U.S.-led administration's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) had requested the station's news programs be reviewed by the wife of Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish leader and a major figure in the postwar politics of Iraq. 'Could you imagine a political leader being able to check the content of any Western media?' North said." (Reuters/Common Dreams)
Media manipulation and marketing by GOPGDM is extremely pro-Israel, very conservative and evangelical, and describes itself as "dedicated to transmitting the evidence of God's presence in the world today." According to GDM, it "will be reporting the current secular news, along with aggressive proclamations that will 'change the news' to reflect the Kingdom of God and its purposes." (AlterNet)
Iraq war and occupationthem and their families that the war in Iraq is really about peace." (Rampton & Sheldon/AlterNet)
Attack on civil libertiesThe teacher informs the FBI; the next day, two agents appear at the school, and interview each student for an hour and a half, with the principal present but without notifying the students' parents. "He asked us questions like was I a good shooter...was I a good sniper...am I good dealing with guns, and what are my thoughts on the president," recalls one of the students. "I was very scared. I was crying because of what they said to us." Other such "tips" have resulted in FBI appearances, including their June interrogation of an Atlanta bookstore employee, Marc Schultz, who found himself visited by FBI agents after someone spotted him reading an article titled "Weapons of Mass Stupidity" at a local coffee shop. Schultz says the agents told him: "There's no problem. We'd just like to get to the bottom of this. Now, if we can't, then you may have a problem. And you don't want that." FBI agents have confirmed that they "routinely" monitor the Web sites of newspapers and other news sites; after 9/11, they demanded the visitor logs from one progressive news site in San Francisco. City police in Denver and Chicago, among other cities, are conducting heavy surveillance of anti-war and peace advocacy groups, including making videotapes of rallies, noting license plate numbers, intercepting e-mails, and even infiltrating such groups. One ACLU spokesman says, "What we're seeing again today is a pattern across the country. This isn't a kind of random response. This is clearly part of affirmative policies to engage in these kinds of activities." The Justice Department also advises police officers in some states to gather information on "enemies in our own backyard." In a police training manual titled "A Police Response to Terrorism in the Heartland: Integrating Law Enforcement Intelligence and Community Policing," officers are encouraged to investigate members of the "Green Movement" -- defined as "environmental activism that is aimed at political and social reform with the explicit attempt to develop environmental-friendly policy, law and behavior." It is hard to draw connections between such groups and terrorist organizations. (In These Times, Amy Goodman and David Goodman)