"Iraq will be the first act in the play of an America coming ashore in Arabia.... It's not just about weapons of mass destruction or American credibility. It's about reforming the Arabic world." -- neoconservative columnist Charles Krauthammer
Iraq war and occupationAccording to news reports in early March, the U.S. Agency for International Development secretly asked six US companies to submit bids for a $900 million government contract to repair and reconstruct water systems, roads, bridges, schools and hospitals in Iraq. The six companies -- Bechtel Group Inc., Fluor Corp., Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, Louis Berger Group Inc., Parsons Corp. and Washington Group International Inc. -- contributed a combined $3.6 million in individual, PAC and soft money donations between 1999 and 2002. Sixty-six percent of that total went to Republicans. The Army Corps of Engineers later reveals that ongoing negotiations and planning between the Department of Defense and Halliburton were classified until now because "[t]his prevented earlier acknowledgement or announcement of potential requirements to the business community." (OpenSecrets, Online Journal)
HalliburtonBut, increasingly, everywhere there is war or insurrection there is Brown & Root also. From Bosnia and Kosovo, to Chechnya, to Rwanda, to Burma, to Pakistan, to Laos, to Vietnam, to Indonesia, to Iran to Libya to Mexico to Colombia, Brown & Root's traditional operations have expanded from heavy construction to include the provision of logistical support for the US military." (Kevin Phillips)
Iraq war and occupationPowell says that the US will be supported by 15 other nations who are unwilling to have their identities revealed. "Just what you need behind you in time of war," writes journalist Ian Williams, "fifteen shrinking allies who are so convinced of your cause that they want to hide their faces." The list of nations willing to be identified includes Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan. Of the 30, only 4 -- Great Britain, Spain, Australia, and Italy -- are willing to provide serious logistical and military support; none of the four have the backing of a majority of their populations.
Secrecy of Bush administrationbudget in the name of national security. (Stephen Pizzo/Daily Misleader)
Global warming and the environmentArctic National Wildlife Reserve. (David Corn)
Iraq war and occupationOne book frequently cited is The Arab Mind, a study of Arab psychology and culture by Raphael Patai, a cultural anthropologist at Princeton. The book discusses sex as a topic imbued with a tremendous amount of privacy, shame, and repression in traditional Arabic cultures. Patai wrote, "The segregation of the sexes, the veiling of the women...and all the other minute rules that govern and restrict contact between men and women, have the effect of making sex a prime mental preoccupation in the Arab world." Homosexual activity "or any indication of homosexual leanings, as with all other expressions of sexuality, is never given any publicity. These are private affairs and remain in private." According to one academic, Patai's book is "the bible of the neocons on Arab behavior." In their discussions, two themes emerge: that Arabs only understand force, and the biggest weakness of the Arab is shame and humiliation. Widespread speculation will arise as to how untrained and untutored nineteen- and twenty year old soldiers in Abu Ghraib and other Iraqi prisons know so much about how to shame and humiliate Arab prisoners, especially after claims by senior military and Pentagon officials that they had no knowledge of the abuses in Abu Ghraib, nor did they give any direction as to how to humiliate and abuse Iraqi prisoners. One government consultant believes that the soldiers were indeed instructed to sexually humiliate and abuse prisoners, and believes that the instructions may have been, at least at the beginning, designed to try to build a network of informants. It was thought that many prisoners would do anything, including spying on and informing on their associates, to avoid dissemination of the photos of them being sexually abused by US soldiers. "I was told that the purpose of the photographs was to create an army of informants, people you could insert back in the population." The idea was that the photographs would be used to blackmail the former detainees into becoming informants inside the insurgency. It will become clear that instructions to sexually abuse and humiliate Iraqi prisoners did indeed come from the top echelons of the Pentagon and perhaps within the White House itself, though no one at those levels will admit to it. (Seymour Hersh)
Iraq war and occupationThe so-called "master list" of WMD sites is worthless, he complains to anyone who will listen. "This is unsat, unsat, unsat," he growls to General Tommy Franks's senior intelligence officer, General Jeff Kimmons, abbreviating the word "unsatisfactory." "Jeff, you need to move this forward, buddy," he says. "I'm not going to call Rumsfeld's office. I'm not going to call [Stephen] Cambone [now the undersecretary of defense for intelligence.] He doesn't know me from Adam. But this is not working." Marks has discovered to his chagrin that a decade's worth of intelligence on Iraqi WMD sites is useless. While Bush and his officials have been escalating the rhetoric, thundering about imminent "mushroom clouds" and warning that Iraq is preparing to use its chemical weapons to attack neighboring targets, none of the intelligence supports any of these dire warnings. Kimmons is afraid to approach Franks for fear of getting screamed at. And no one in Washington seems interested. Marks writes in his diary on March 3, "Still some confusion. Do we secure as we progress thru zone, or treat like an obstacle and mark, cover, bypass?" He is getting no answers. (Bob Woodward)
Iraq war and occupationLike so many of the specious claims advanced by Bush officials, this one came from a single source, reports of an Iraqi procurement agent who had sought to buy US mapping software for the UAVs in the spring of 2001. But by early March, CIA analysts had concluded that the Iraqi agent's purchase order for the mapping software had been inadvertent; the agent had tried to buy other, more innocuous products from the manufacturer's Web site. The CIA sends a memo to the House Intelligence Committee that says the agency has "no definite indications that Baghdad [was] planning to use WMD-armed UAVs against the US mainland." Later, when American forces are able to examine the UAVs in question, the vehicles turn out to be crudely built constructions of plywood and aluminum that the inspectors doubt can get off the ground, much less carry out attacks against anything or anyone.
Iraq war and occupationKeane, who privately detests Rumsfeld's lack of trust in the senior military leadership, has put aside his personal feelings and has become, in essence, the chief of the Army, since Rumsfeld has battled publicly and bitterly with Keane's boss, General Eric Shinseki. Keane had turned down Rumsfeld's request to replace the retiring Shinseki as head of the Army, and in fact is planning to retire. Keane admires Garner's energy and willingness to grapple with the huge issues of reconstruction in Iraq. He asks Garner, "Who are you working for?" Garner replies, "I'm working for the secretary of defense," and Keane says, "Jay, that's the wrong answer. I mean, God Almighty, you've got to be working for General Franks, and de facto General McKiernan. You can't be working for the secretary. There will be a separate channel. I mean, your staff will immediately become dysfunctional from the military command. I mean, you can see it coming. They're not going to deal with you." Garner says, "We'll make it work somehow," but Keane reminds Garner, a retired Army general, of the principle of unity of command. One person has to be in charge in each theater or operation. Franks should be in charge of reconstruction and held accountable for stability. Early on, everything will be military anyway. "Jay, if we've learned one thing in fifteen years, it's this," Keane says. "Come on. Every time we've screwed up we've had problems with this. We don't have to relearn this lesson." Garner says he will make it work because he has to -- the decisions have already been made. Before long, Keane hears the same concerns about governance from Franks's deputy, General John Abizaid, who presses Rumsfeld on the issue. Rumsfeld replies that the issue is being handled by his deputy for policy, Douglas Feith. Abizaid has little respect for Feith's capabilities. As for Garner, he should be reporting to Franks, but Rumsfeld insists on having Garner report directly to him.
Conservative media slantNeoconservative William Kristol says on Nightline, "We'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction." Kristol goes on to say, with a straight face, "very few wars in American history were prepared better or more thoroughly than this one by this president." Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle, another prominent neocon, tells MSNBC's Chris Matthews (in response to a prescient question about whether Iraq's post-Hussein government would be dominated by militant Shi'ites) that Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress will be a powerful force for pluralistic democracy in Iraq. Perle says that there is little chance of a civil war after Hussein is overthrown, the war will be "quick," and that it will "not take anything like" General Eric Shinseki's publicly ridiculed estimate of several hundred thousand troops "to maintain peace and order." On another talk show, Perle says condescendingly, "Forgive me. No one is talking about occupying Iraq for five to ten years." Neoconservative columnist William Safire urges Bush to just up and do it: "Smoking guns and hiding terrorists will be found." And conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, going one step beyond, said in the weeks before, "There is one thing that I think everybody has overlooked -- we are going to have retroactive evidence."In other words, the invasion of Iraq will produce the proof that justifies the invasion. But he continued, "Iraq will be the first act in the play of an America coming ashore in Arabia.... It's not just about weapons of mass destruction or American credibility. It's about reforming the Arabic world."
Bush's economic policiesIt demonstrates that without Bush's tax cuts and the relating spending plans, the government would run around a $900 billion surplus over the next ten years. "In other words," observes writer David Corn, "deficits were not inevitable [as Bush and his officials are wont to claim]. Bush was choosing -- or creating -- them." Even without Bush's new round of tax cuts and spending proposals, Bush is already responsible for creating nearly $246 billion in deficits for 2003. His economic plan will produce $287 billion in deficits for 2003 and $338 billion in 2004 -- breaking the 1992 Reaganomics record of $290 billion. And none of these projections include a dime of spending on Iraq, nor on the new, expensive prescription drug benefit Bush supports. A Washington Post editorial reminds us that Bush used the CBO's forecast of a $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years to "prove" that his tax cuts are affordable. Amazingly, Bush officials now insist that the projected surplus, which they had used as the basis for their tax cuts, were never figured in to their economic plans. "We didn't squander a surplus," Treasury Secretary John Snow says on Meet the Press. "We never had it. It was a forecast. It wasn't real dollars in hand." Snow is turning the critics' argument that the Bush tax cuts would vaporize the projected surplus on its head. As Corn observes, "[T]he Bush administration -- two years later -- was expropriating their opponents' position in order to absolve itself." Combine this with their refusal to admit that their 2001 tax cuts had anything to do with the deficit -- they blame it on the "sluggish economy" and the terrorist attacks -- and we are being given a funhouse mirror version of economic reality. The Post notes that even the $1.6 trillion deficit projected by the CBO figures in the $2.6 trillion reserved for Social Security, money supposedly not to be touched. Take that money out and you have a projection of a $4.4 trillion deficit. Add in the huge spending on Iraq, the proposed revamping of the alternative minimum tax, and realistic estimate of future government spending, and the projections become frightening. "How did all this square with Bush's state-of-the-union promise to resort only to 'a deficit that will be small and short-term?'" asks Corn. "It didn't." In April, the CBO will release a new, even grimmer report that revises the 2003 deficit estimate to nearly $400 billion, and states that Bush's tax cuts and budget plans will not improve the economy or create new jobs. Bush's response is to ignore the report. (David Corn)
Iraq war and occupationThe US characterizes this as too little, too late. (FactMonster)
9/11 attacksThe al-Qaeda leader is in possession of a raft of documents and memos on his computer, his cell phone, and on paper, all of which is confiscated. Mohammed was also involved in the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, and assisted in planning the abortive "Operation Bojinka" of 1995. (The al-Qaeda turncoat who turned Mohammed in collected the $25 million reward for information leading to his capture, and is now living under a new name in the USA.) The same day, the Pakistanis also arrest Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawai, who helped fund the 9/11 attacks. Two weeks later, the Pakistanis arrest Moroccan national Yasser al-Jazeri, who is identified by US officials as a "trusted subordinate of Osama bin Laden." (Washington Post, Michael Scheuer)
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityThe FBI, who gives his name as Iyman Faris, holds him incommunicado for six weeks without benefit of counsel or contact with family or friends. In mid-April, in a sealed Virginia courtroom, Rauf/Faris, who is still without a lawyer, "is allowed to plead guilty." He is sentenced, but his sentence is sealed and not made public. This violates one Constitutional right after another, but little if anything is made of Rauf's arrest in the media. It will be revealed on June 23 that Rauf/Faris has been used since March as an FBI plant. (Newsday, Daily Telegraph)
Iraq war and occupationIn it, he says that the administration's imminent war with Iraq is not about weapons of mass destruction, nor terrorism (as it would only result in more terrorism), nor about liberating oppressed people. Rather, he states, the true objective of the war is an effort to impose a "Pax Americana"on the region. He concludes that because we have no business building empires, we have no business going to war. Though Wilson is not a political partisan, and indeed has close ties to many senior officials in the adminstration of the first Bush, many current Bush officials and associated neoconservatives begin to view him as a political enemy, and begin to plan retaliation. (FindLaw)
Iraq war and occupationGarner's suggestion to bring other nations into the effort had fallen flat at an NSC meeting in late February. The UN's Louise Frechette tells Garner that the UN would only be involved in humanitarian relief efforts after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and refuses to assign Garner a UN liason officer. So much for help from the UN, Garner thinks. Garner then meets with Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador to the UN. Greenstock, who has been working with the UN on getting a second resolution passed concerning UN weapons inspections in Iraq -- an effort that would fail -- looks exhausted. Greenstock approves of Garner's attempts to internationalize the relief and reconstruction efforts. (Bob Woodward)
Domestic terrorismDavid Hull, Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a small Pennsylvania-based group, is charged with receiving, manufacturing, possessing and transferring a destructive device in violation of the National Firearms Act. Hull, who tried to buy grenades from an FBI informant, told the informant that he was going to "going to blow up abortion clinics," and said he had made his car a "suicide bomb on wheels." The informant saw Hull detonate two pipe bombs on his Amwell Township, Pennsylvania, property during a cross burning event last summer. Around that time Hull allegedly planned to give other Klan members lessons on building pipe bombs and asked the informant to conduct military training at Klan gatherings. In July 2002, Hull attended the "Aryan Nations World Congress," convened by the Pennsylvania faction of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations. He is also a follower of Christian Identity, a racist and anti-Semitic sect whose adherents believe that white people are God's chosen people, descended from the lost tribes of ancient Israel, and that minorities are soulless "mud peoples." David Hull's relative, Mark, described Hull's beliefs as "sick," saying that he "once told me that he believed black people have no souls, and that they're like a dog." (Anti-Defamation League)
Iraq war and occupationThe only firm of the three that will choose to bid, and the winner of the contract, is the Research Triangle Institute (RTI), a nonprofit firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina that specializes in drug research and who has no employees with any familiarity with Iraq. While RTI's work will attract little public attention, the town councils RTI will set up are at the center of the Bush administration's plan to hand over power to appointed regional caucuses, a plan so hated by the Iraqi people that it could bring about civil war. Journalist Naomi Klein writes, "The appetite for democracy among Iraqis keeps racing ahead of the plodding plans for 'capacity building' [RTI] drew up before the invasion. In November the Washington Post reported that when RTI arrived in the province of Taji, armed with flowcharts and ready to set up local councils, it discovered that 'the Iraqi people formed their own representative councils in this region months ago, and many of those were elected, not selected, as the occupation is proposing.' The Post quoted one man telling a RTI contractor, 'We feel we are going backwards.' [RTI vice president Robert] Johnson denies that the previous council was elected and says that, besides, RTI is only 'assisting the Iraqis,' not making decisions for them. Perhaps, but it doesn't help that Johnson compares Iraq's councils to 'a New England town meeting' and quotes another RTI consultant observing that the challenges in Iraq are 'the same thing I dealt with...in Houston.' Is this Iraqi sovereignty -- conceived in Washington, outsourced to North Carolina, modeled on Massachusetts and Houston and imposed on Basra and Baghdad?"
Iraq war and occupationFeith's presentation covers everything from how the US will improve the Iraqis' quality of life to how quickly the US will institute a democratic government and obtain "international participation in the reconstruction." Reporter Bob Woodward characterizes Feith's presentation as "a wish list of high hopes with no how-to." Retired general Jay Garner, the head of the group responsible for implementing the reconstruction efforts, is not invited to the meeting. The next day, Garner meets with national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, and informs her that he had sought, and failed, to gain UN assistance in the reconstruction process [see the March 3 item above]. "They're not seeking additional roles," he says. "They're willing to help but they need to understand our concept. And that's why they kept saying, 'We don't understand your concept. Why are you going it alone?' Rice says nothing. After Garner discusses the need for funding of the basic start-up items -- food, law enforcement, energy -- Rice finally tells her deputy, Stephen Hadley, and the NSC's senior director for defense, Frank Miller, "Let's have it by the time they need it." Garner gets the impression that Rice is just issuing meaningless orders, and there is no real follow-up system in place. He is more right than he realizes. The issue of funding, and the related issue of personnel for security, are bruited about in discussion, but little is specifically set down. Garner knows that Rice and other senior Bush officials are still enamoured of the idea that the postwar period in Iraq will be, in neoconservative Ken Adelman's words, a "cakewalk," requiring little planning or funding. Neither will Rice give him any definitive answers on the overriding issue of governance -- how will the US and the Iraqis set up a government to replace the Hussein regime. On March 7, Garner meets with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Garner complains that he has no idea of what is going on, and doesn't even know when he and his group should fly to Kuwait to begin on-the-ground efforts. No one will tell them even when the invasion will begin. Wolfowitz finally says, "You should already be there."
Iraq war and occupationany UN resolution calling for military action against Iraq, in preparation for a US-backed resolution asking for authorization of such action. (David Corn)
Republican education policies"Where did this idea come from -- that everyone deserves free education? ...It's like free groceries. It comes from Moscow. From Russia. Straight out of the pit of hell." (Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose)
Iraq war and occupation"No matter what the whip count is, we're calling for the vote," Bush asserts. "We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. ...The credibility of the Security Council is at stake." Bush says that there is no more time to wait for UN inspections to complete their task or for any other alternatives, that all-out war is the only option. "The risk of doing nothing, the risk of hoping that Saddam Hussein changes his mind and becomes a gentle soul, the risk that somehow that inaction will make the world safer is a risk I'm not willing to take for the American people." In his diatribe against Hussein, Bush once again makes the specious claim that Hussein and al-Qaeda are allies: "He has trained and financed al-Qaeda-type organizations before, al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations."
Iraq war and occupationBush makes this claim at least eight separate times during a press conference, his last before the invasion of Iraq. The White House later admits that the entire press conference was scripted, with reporters pre-selected by the White House media office and given the questions they were to ask and Bush responding with rehearsed answers. No explanation is given as to why the supposedly independent American media would cooperate with such a farce; ABC's Terry Moran later says the reporters looked "like zombies" during their supine questioning.
Iraq war and occupationHopefully, this can be done peacefully...." Two days later, Bush says, "We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq." Bush has been actively planning to invade Iraq since early 2002, as many items in this site document. (White House/OhMy News)
Bush's economic policies"...the more important lesson in all of this is how utterly out of touch with economic reality those on the ideological Republican right have become. They now regard the most obvious and widely accepted nostrums of fiscal economics as tantamount to treason. Over the last two years they have been engaged in one of those psychological exercises where if you say something patently false enough times you eventually start to believe it. Deficits do not matter. They do not matter because, if you cut taxes, you will raise economic activity by enough to raise the total tax take.... Some day, at great cost to the American taxpayer and the economy, someone will have to deal with the consequences of this lunacy." (Financial Times/Democrats.com)
Iraq war and occupationHe says that Iraq is cooperating with his inspectors, and that he cannot confirm the presence of any WMDs whatsoever. He indicates that a modicum of time is needed, as Iraq is becoming increasingly forthcoming, and progress is being made at an increasing rate. Instead, on March 17, Bush yanks the inspectors out of Iraq and then claims that Hussein "wouldn't let them in." In an address to the nation on March 17, Bush says, in one of the most egregrious claims of the entire prewar lie-fest, "America tried to work with the United Nations to address this threat because we wanted to resolve the issue peacefully. We believe in the mission of the United Nations." (CNN/OhMy News)
Iraq war and occupationThe resolution is not voted on after France and Russia signal they will veto it. But now, a date has been set. (David Corn, Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
Iraq war and occupation"The IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents...are in fact not authentic," says ElBaradei. Another IAEA official tells journalist Seymour Hersh, "These documents are so bad that I cannot imagine that they came from a serious intelligence agency. It depresses me, given the low quality of the documents, that it was not stopped. At the level it reached, I would have expected more checking." Behind closed doors, the US concedes the validity of the IAEA's judgments, but publicly assails the organization. "I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong," Dick Cheney later says on Meet the Press. "I think, if you look at the track record of the International Atomic Energy Agency and this kind of issue, especially where Iraq's concerned, they have consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I don't have any reason to believe they're any more valid this time than they've been in the past." Cheney goes on to say, in the face of all evidence, "We believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." (During the 1990s, the IAEA mounted more than 1,000 inspections in Iraq, mostly without advance warning; sealed, expropriated, or destroyed tons of nuclear material; and destroyed thousands of square feet of nuclear facilities. Its activities formed the baseline for virtually every intelligence assessment regarding Iraq's nuclear weapons program. Cheney's accusations of incompetence by the IAEA are baseless and low.)
Iraq war and occupation...I think our judgment has to be clearly not." He adds, "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." Powell does not inform the Council that the administration decided to invade in July 2002, and that planning for the invasion stretches back into early 2001. (State Department, Democratic Underground, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Iraq war and occupationOn March 26, Pentagon spokesperson Victoria Clarke says, "We knew they were acquiring uniforms that looked like US and UK uniforms. And the reporting was that they planned to use them, give them to the thugs, as I call them, to go out, carry out reprisals against the Iraqi people, and try to blame it on coalition forces." The next day, Rumsfeld tells the press, "They put on American and British uniforms to try to fool regular Iraqi soldiers into surrendering to them, and then execute them as an example to others who might contemplate defection or capitulation." None of these statements are true; the evidence does show that Iraq has purchased uniforms for its troops, but there is no evidence of the rest of the claims. (Amy Goodman and David Goodman)
Iraq war and occupationLabour MP Jeremy Corbyn says that the behavior of the British government was outrageous: "It now appears the British public underwrote the initial cost of Saddam's chemical warfare program." The Falluja 2 plant manufactured large amounts of mustard gas. (Guardian)