Iraq war and occupationThe resolution establishes the "Development Fund for Iraq" (DFI) into which all oil and gas proceeds will be deposited, ostensibly for the redevelopment of the Iraqi infrastructure. (A billion dollars from the Oil-for-Food program is also dumped into the fund, as is a billion dollars from frozen Iraqi assets.) As of June 26, 2004, $20 billion will be put into the fund in all. The UN will establish an auditing board, the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, which will attempt with little success to audit and track expenditures from the funds. The IAMB auditors will be repeatedly blocked by US officials, including being denied passes into the "Green Zone" in Baghdad where the CPA, and DFI, offices are located. Auditors are routinely denied the most basic documentation, and refused access to records from the CPA and from Halliburton, who will receive hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of DFI contracts. Untold billions of the DFI monies will simply disappear and never be traced. (FactMonster, ZMag)
Oil profiteering and the "oiligarchy"giving virtually complete legal protection to those same companies for any crimes or illegalities they may commit while dealing with that oil. It negates the Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789, which allows citizens of other countries to sue American citizens for human rights violations that take place overseas, and allows oil companies and their agents operating in Iraq to operate with impunity. The justification is Bush's declaration of a "national emergency" as the basis for protecting the Development Fund for Iraq, an entity intended to fund reconstruction efforts with oil proceeds that is overseen by an international board including World Bank officials, as well as all Iraqi petroleum, petroleum products, "interests," proceeds, and contracts related to Iraqi petroleum. Government Accountability Project director Tom Levine says that in terms of legal liability, 13303 "cancels the concept of corporate accountability and abandons the rule of law. ...[It] is a blank cheque for corporate anarchy. Its sweeping, unqualified language places the industry above domestic and international law for anything related to commerce in Iraqi oil." Under this order, there is no way to prosecute oil companies for any actions they may take. The first sentence of the order declares "any judicial process" is "null and void." A later section protects the value "of any nature whatsoever" if it is "related to" the "sale or marketing of...all Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products" or "interests." In essence, says Devine, "That means all corporate activities with roots or any connection to Iraqi oil. It covers everything from extraction through transportation, advertising, manufacture, customer service, corporate records and payment of taxes. It covers compliance with contractual obligations involving Iraq that industry enters into with the US Government in postwar Iraq. The scope can be further expanded to virtually all oil-related commerce, by blending Iraqi oil with domestic supplies for any commercial transaction." The executive order applies to US "persons" (including corporations or other organisations) who "come into possession or control" of anything relevant to Iraqi oil or oil products. Says Devine, "Translated from the legalese, this is a license for corporations to loot Iraq and its citizens."
War in AfghanistanIn one instance, Nangarhar province was apparently a target zone for the deployment of a new generation of deep-penetrating "cave-busting" and seismic shock warheads. The UMRC says its team identified several hundred people suffering from illnesses and conditions similar to those of Gulf veterans, probably because they had inhaled uranium dust. An independent British laboratory reports, "The results were astounding: the donors presented concentrations of toxic and radioactive uranium isotopes between 100 and 400 times greater than in the Gulf veterans tested in 1999. ...If UMRC's Nangarhar findings are corroborated in other communities across Afghanistan, the country faces a severe public health disaster.... Every subsequent generation is at risk." The URMC scientist who conducted the initial studies says, "In Afghanistan there were no oil fires, no pesticides, nobody had been vaccinated -- all explanations suggested for the Gulf veterans' condition. But people had exactly the same symptoms. I'm certainly not saying Afghanistan was a vast experiment with new uranium weapons. But use your common sense." (BBC/WJBPR)
Iraq war and occupationBecause it's not been told to them yet." Wolfowitz replies, "It's possible that things will go faster." Former Secretary of the Army Thomas White, fired by Rumsfeld shortly after the initial invasion, says that Pentagon officials "are unwilling to come to grips" with the scale of the post-war occupation, and refusing to consider the reality that "mission creep" from a relatively peaceful occupation to a violent pacification, is taking place. "This is not what they were selling before the war," he says. Towards the end of June, two senators, Biden and Republican Richard Lugar, visit Iraq and determine that the US will be required to maintain a heavy military presence in Iraq for at least three to five years. Lugar says, "There now needs to be real truth-telling from the president." Lugar, a staunch Republican considered by many to be one of the country's leading foreign-policy experts, is targeted by Bush officials as "disloyal" for his comments. (David Corn)
Bush's economic policiesStock dividend and capital gains taxes are slashed dramatically, income tax rate reductions are accelerated, the child credit is expanded to $400, businesses are allowed to write off more expenses, and the so-called marriage penalty is eliminated. By using a spate of accounting tricks and phony "sunset" provisions, the GOP-sponsored bill manages to cloak its real cost of nearly $1 trillion. Wealthy taxpayers once again receive a bonanza: households with over a million dollars in income will receive $93,500 in "tax relief," while half of America's households will receive less than $100. The Senate also approves raising the US's debt ceiling of $6.4 trillion by almost a trillion dollars. London's Financial Times, one of the most informed and conservative financial media outlets in the world, is aghast: "The long-run costs of financing huge US fiscal deficits, which stretch far into the future, will weigh heavily on future generations. With little of the tax cut having an immediate effect, the necessary short-run economic stimulus will be negligible. ...The lunatics are now in charge of the asylum. Including 'sunseting' provisions to cut the ten-year cost of the tax measures is an insult to the intelligence of the US people. ...In response to this onslaught, there is not much the rational majority can do: reason cuts no ice; economic theory is dismissed; and contrary evidence is ignored."
Attack on civil liberties"The US is like a baby with a bomb," he says. "The reaction to France that the administration allowed to happen is so immature. These people have their own opinion -- they're French! They're not f*ckin' Americans, they're French! Vive la difference, hello? And this big deal about Bush landing on an aircraft carrier? Talk about a six-year-old kid with a Tonka toy - we got it here." More soberly, he says, "I think the world today, at least the US and to some extent Britain now, is experiencing this kind of Big Brother thing. It's not what we thought we were gonna be doing, a lot of the people's civil rights have been compromised, and we don't know what's going on. If I keep speaking my mind, will I be deported? [Young is from Canada.] I'm not very happy with the state of things. Music is being banned, and we have people in control of the radio stations who are the same people in control of the concert halls. They're also tied into the [US] administration and are sponsoring pro-war rallies. It's not good." Referring to the backlash against the Dixie Chicks, whose lead singer Natalie Maines has made several remarks disparaging George W. Bush, he says, "The real point was, somebody asked the president what he thought and he said, 'It's America, it's a free country, they can have their opinion, but there's nothing we can do about it if nobody goes to their shows or plays their songs.' But he's so out of touch that his advisers haven't told him that their record sales spiked upwards when that happened, and while the airplay went down the sales went up and their concerts all sold out." He continues, "Bush has polarized the country and is creating this breeding ground for an opposition. In the next couple of months, they'll probably make it unpatriotic to be Democrat. It's pretty crazy." (Guardian)
Iraq war and occupationHe believes that those photos show that the US has been pumping oil from Iraq since late May -- an interesting observation considering the US maintains that the Iraqi oilfields won't be ready to produce oil until the middle of July at the earliest. "I think we're in bed with Kuwait," he says. "I think we're pumping oil out of Iraq to pay for this war." Brandli is one of the Air Force's most respected meteorologists, author of a standard textbook on the subject, a veteran of secret intelligence work, and an expert in interpreting satellite photography. (Florida Today)
Iraq war and occupationRumsfeld says, "Some of the biggest losses we have taken are due to Iraqis committing violations of the law of armed conflict...by luring us into surrender situations then opening fire on our troops. So this is the plan that is very well thought out, and that will play out, I think, as we expect." The charges are false; the Marines died as a result of a friendly fire incident. Naturally, Bush continues making the charges even after they are exposed as lies: on April 5, he says, "They have executed prisoners of war, waged attacks under the white flag of truce...." (Amy Goodman and David Goodman)
Iraq war and occupationin two trailers captured by US and Kurdish troops inside Baghdad. Three weeks later, the field report and a 122-page final report are classified as "secret" and shelved. A day later, the CIA and DIA publish a report asserting that the two trucks and trailers were indeed part of Iraq's so-called biological weapons program. (Frank Rich [PDF file])
Iraq war and occupationabout the so-called Iraqi WMDs: "They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer." (Washington Post, Democratic Underground)
Iraq war and occupationGarner glosses over his tremendous problems with implementing his plans, as well as the refusal of the arrogant, recalcitrant Paul Bremer to work with him. He writes that Bremer is "a fine choice to take the team to the next level and help create the conditions for true political and economic reform in Iraq." His memo lists the main tasks that remain, from providing food to security, putting a rosy, positive spin on even the most difficult tasks. Garner does not mention Bremer's three huge mistakes -- de-Ba'athification, disbanding of the military, and his rejection of the Iraqi governing council Garner had set up. Instead, the memo strokes Bush's ego, commending him for his "inspired wartime leadership." (Bob Woodward)
Iraq war and occupationThe excuse was "politically convenient," says a Pentagon source. Wolfowitz further said that the ability of the US to remove its troops from Saudi Arabia once the Hussein regime was overthrown was reason enough for invading Iraq. "For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on," Wolfowitz tells the magazine: the allegations of a connection to al-Qaeda caused internal dissension, and humanitarian concerns did not justify risking American lives. Only fear over Iraqi possession of WMDs unified the administration, won the support of allies (particularly Britain) and served as the centerpiece of the administration's case. The real reason the US invaded Iraq, says Wolfowitz, is that "Iraq is swimming on a sea of oil." Wolfowitz, along with other administration hawks, pushed Bush to invade Iraq instead of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. Wolfowitz tells the Vanity Fair interviewer, "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the US government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason.... [T]here have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there's a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two.... The third one by itself, as I think I said earlier, is a reason to help the Iraqis but it's not a reason to put American kids' lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did it." (Independent/Truthout, News San Francisco, Consortium News, Defense Department, Christian Science Monitor, Democratic Underground, Vanity Fair/Michael Moore)
Iraq war and occupationThe trailers are alleged to have been mobile labs used in the creation of biological weapons. A joint study released by the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency calls the trailers "the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program." Two days later, in Poland, Bush declares the trailers "weapons of mass destruction," and announces: "You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons...and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them." According to top Iraqi scientists interviewed by the CIA and DIA, these labs have been identified as being used to produce hydrogen for artillery weather balloons. The CIA-DIA report agreed that the explanation was a plausible one, and that testing failed to reveal any biological warfare agents or growth media, or any trace whatsoever of biological agents. But, in an attempt to create a rationale for the labs to have been used for nefarious purposes, the report went on to assert that the labs would be "inefficient" for producing hydrogen, and since better systems are commercially available, the labs must have been used for something more sinister. "Having made the inefficiency argument, the CIA-DIA analysis concluded that hydrogen production must be a 'cover story' and that 'BW agent production is the only consistent, logical purpose for these vehicles.'"
"But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them." -- George W. Bush, May 28
Iraq war and occupationWe found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." (See the item above for more information.) As Bush is aware, US intelligence is dubious at best of the nature of the facilities discovered in Iraq. Within days, analysis will show that the facilities, two mobile trailers, were used to produce hydrogen for artillery weather balloons. In fact, two days before Bush's statement, a secret Pentagon-sponsored fact-finding mission, composed of nine US and British biological-weapons experts, had reported back to Washington that "there was no connection to anything biological in the trailers," which they derided as "the biggest sand toilets in the world."
Prewar intelligence on Iraq"It was included in the dossier against our wishes because it wasn't reliable," the official says. "Most things in the dossier were double source but that was single source and we believe the source was wrong." Another official says, "We are talking about information relating to the first Gulf war and afterwards. We told the government when this information was handed over that it was old and they ignored that fact. ...The government elected to use this to say Saddam Hussein could deploy chemical weapons in 45 minutes. But it's total rubbish. Saddam's capabilities were destroyed. Iraq simply wouldn't have had this ability when we invaded. There was only the very remotest possibility that he had Scuds or chemical weapons left. It can't be denied that Saddam did once have this capability, but when intelligence handed this information to the government, the 45 minute claim was extracted in isolation and misrepresented. You can't use 10-year-old intelligence as the basis for anything." The "45-minutes" claim is based on a single source, said to be a serving Iraqi military officer who has not surfaced since the war; in any case Tony Blair contradicted the claim in April 2003 by saying Iraq had begun to conceal its weapons in May 2002, which meant that they could not have been used within 45 minutes. (BBC News/Consortium News, Sunday Herald, Independent)
Iraq war and occupationan ugly word, not one Americans feel comfortable with. President Bush has always said that we will be here as long as it takes to do the job, and not a day longer. At the same time, we should make sure we don't leave a day earlier." (Bob Woodward)
Iraq war and occupationtold us, 'Liberation now,' and then they made it occupation. Bush said he was a liberator, not an occupier, and we supported the United States on this basis." (Wikipedia)
Iraq-Niger scandalreporter Walter Pincus, asking about the recent New York Times article revealing that an unnamed former ambassador had gone to Niger to find out the truth about the allegations concerning Iraq's putative attempt to buy uranium from that country, prompts Cheney to have his communications director, Catherine Martin, pass Pincus's request to his chief of staff, Lewis Libby. Libby brings undersecretary of state Marc Grossman to his office and asks Grossman to tell Libby everything he can about Wilson's trip to Niger. Years later, both Grossman and Martin will testify about Libby and Cheney's activities to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in Fitzgerald's prosecution of Libby. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
Partisan Bush appointeesMankiw is known for ridiculing Reagan-era supply-side economic policy as "fad economics" conceived by "charlatans and cranks. It threatens the very foundation of our culture." Mankiw immediately reverses his earlier stance and joins Bush's supply-side advocates upon entering the White House. (White House)
Iraq war and occupation"It was a surprise to me then —- it remains a surprise to me now -— that we have not uncovered weapons, as you say, in some of the forward dispersal sites. Believe me, it's not for lack of trying. We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there." Bush states, "But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." Bush is referring to the two mobile trailers discovered outside of Baghdad which have now been discredited as having anything to do with weapons production. It is later proven that the trailers were used for, as Iraqi weapons scientists testified, production of helium for weather balloons. Instead of finding WMDs, US military forces, according to the Washington Post, "dug a playground, raided a distillery, seized a research paper from a failing graduate student, and laid bare a swimming pool where an underground chemical weapons stash was supposed to be." (Consortium News, Democratic Underground, David Corn, Washington Post/Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Iraq war and occupationState Department veteran Greg Thielmann adds, "The al-Qaeda connection and nuclear weapons issue were the only two ways that you could link Iraq to an imminent security threat to the US. And the administration was grossly distorting the intelligence on both things." The State Department's most recent annual report finds that there are no ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda, or even to any of the "al-Qaeda-type organizations" operating in the Middle East and Africa. The terrorist groups Iraq does support are all secular, and either Marxist or socialist, and are primarily concerned with "dissident Iraqi activity overseas." (New York Times/CommonDreams)
Islamist terrorismand arrest his deputy Abdullah ibn Ibrahim Abdul, in a fierce shootout near the town of Ha'il. Al-Ayiri ran the al-Qaeda Web site Al-Neda, and is a close friend of Osama bin Laden. (Michael Scheuer)
Iraq war and occupationHarman, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, sends a letter cosigned by Republican committee chairman Porter Goss asking CIA director George Tenet to explain his contentions that Iraq possessed WMDs, and to explain his assertions that Saddam Hussein had connections to al-Qaeda. "US credibility is at stake," says Harman, who says she believes that some weapons still may be found. "Especially if there is an interest in another military adventure, we need the facts." Meanwhile, Senator Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, blasts the CIA's estimate on Iraq's WMDs as "wholly unimpressive" and calls for an inquiry. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld retorts, "We know they had chemical programs from the past. And we knew they were talking about those programs in one way or another." Rumsfeld does not repeat his prewar assertions that Iraq has large and dangerous caches of WMDs ready to be used, and does not repeat his prewar statements that the US knows precisely where they are. Instead, he now says that all such weapons might have been destroyed, a statement unproven by any findings by investigative teams. ( San Francisco Chronicle, David Corn)
Iraq war and occupationKerik has a reputation as a tough, no-nonsense cop who helped New York City mayor Rudolph Giulani bring down the city's crime rate, but his time in the Interior Ministry is less than impressive. According to a new book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Kerik does little except strut around Baghdad's Green Zone seeking adulation for his role as a "hero" of 9/11, sign autographs, and give press conferences bragging about his achievements in New York. His later boast that he "reestablished" the Baghdad police force is proven false, as Kerik adds only 100 badly trained members to the force (he claims, falsely, that between 7,000 and 9,000 former policemen will return to the job under his tenure). His job with the Coalition Provisional Authority is to take over the occupation's Interior Ministry and train hundreds of cops to stabilize the country. Former colleague Gerald Burke later says Kerik does little or nothing as Interior Minister, but does enjoy taking part in nighttime raids in a small paramilitary unit nicknamed "Baghdad's Finest," who succeeded in locating a few car thieves and kidnappers in the city teeming with looters, criminals, and insurgents. Kerik's nocturnal activities mean that he does little during the day except sleep, holding only two staff meetings during his tenure, according to Burke. Before Kerik goes to bed after dawn, he likes to interrupt US administrator Paul Bremer's early-morning meetings to crack jokes and brag about the raids. According to Burke, a former Massachusetts State Police commander sent to Iraq by the US Justice Department to oversee training, Kerik never risked his own safety or contributed anything to the raids. "Kerik never left the car. He stayed inside the armored car," says Burke. "some questioned his courage."
Iraq war and occupation"After nearly two years, Doug's leadership has not improved," Herbits writes. "His style and approach to his job continue to accumulate. Six months of post-Iraq planning is now widely regarded as a serious failure, both in substance, personnel selection, cooperation within Department of Defense and in interagency relations." The NSC's interagency process team has nicknamed Feith and his policy team "The lunatic Feith and his evil spawn," Herbits writes. Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke says that Feith lacks "respect [and] trust," Herbits writes. Herbits has little respect for Feith, who is an ideologue lacking in judgment and experience, but Herbits knows that Feith is one of the few officials in DOD that Rumsfeld trusts. He also knows that Feith is one of the few people who can get Rumsfeld to make a decision and make it stick. Finally, Feith is absolutely loyal to Rumsfeld. Herbits writes that when Feith gets in trouble publicly, it's always because he is carrying out Rumsfeld's policies. Herbits believes Rumsfeld refuses to defend Feith and leaves him hanging out to dry on his own. The problem is not Feith, Herbits believes, it is Rumsfeld. But Herbits doesn't include that in his memo. Iraq's administrator, Paul Bremer, refuses to take calls from Feith or personally answer any of his memos. Bremer asserts that he reports directly to the president, and therefore cuts Feith, and by extension Rumsfeld, off entirely. (Bob Woodward)
Iraq war and occupationThe bloom is coming off the rose. Democratic senator Joseph Biden demands of Paul Wolfowitz, "When is the president going to tell the American people that we're likely to be in the country of Iraq for three, four, five, six, eight, ten years, with thousands of forces and spending billions of dollars? Because it's not been told to them yet." Republican senator Chuck Hagel is more measured: "We may have underestimated or mischaracterized the challenges of establishing security and rebuilding Iraq." Democrats in both houses of Congress begin calling for investigations into prewar intelligence, calls that are mocked and derailed by the Republican leadership. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
"Bush has polarized the country and is creating this breeding ground for an opposition. In the next couple of months, they'll probably make it unpatriotic to be a Democrat." -- Neil Young, May 22, 2003, quoted in Buzzflash