"Spending $80 billion and putting half the US Army in Iraq has provided a supercharger to al-Qaeda recruiters."
-- General Wesley Clark, Sept. 11, 2003
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityThe CIA station in Baghdad is being flooded with officers on temporary assignment, drawn from all over the world, but few have any experience with Arab culture, and even fewer speak Arabic. Many are rookie officers on their first tour of duty. By the fall, the station only has four Arabic speakers on staff, making it very difficult for the CIA to conduct clandestine operations in the country. Equally troublesome is the lack of analysts who can help the CIA grasp the nature of the insurgency. CIA analysts in Langley are having trouble grasping the rapidly changing nature of the opposition, but it takes until the end of 2003 for the CIA to send about 30 analysts to Baghdad; it is nine months after the invasion before the CIA can begin to accurately analyze the clues that begin to let them map the structure of the insurgency.
Bush's economic policiesthe number of Americans living in poverty saw its largest increase in more than forty years, median household income has declined, and the number of Americans living without health insurance has soared upward, along with unemployment. (Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Prewar intelligence on Iraqthe experts who worked with the UN and the IAEA inspectors and thusly best suited to give the US information about the realities of Iraq's WMD programs, are still being held in captivity at Baghdad airport and other places, away from their families and the world's reporters. Some have managed to contact friends and relatives by phone, and, though they have committed no crimes and are, in large part, willing to help the US, their plight is desperate: "The people in intelligence and in the WMD business are in jail," says an Iraqi-American emigre who is in contact with the family of one of the scientists. "The Americans are hunting them down one by one. Nobody speaks for them, and there's no American lawyer who will take the case." Once NMD scientist, Dhia Jafar, managed to flee Iraq in April 2003, before Baghdad fell, and went to the United Arab Emirates, where he agreed to speak with US and British intelligence agents on at least twenty occasions. During the first meeting, a CIA agent asks, "Does Iraq have a nuclear device? The military really want to know. They are extremely worried."
Terrorism detainees and "enemy combatants"Miller advocates radical changes in the way the prison is run, recommending that the prison be geared first and foremost towards interrogations and obtaining intelligence from prisoners. "Detention operations must act as an enabler for interrogation...to provide a safe, secure, and humane environment that supports the expeditious collection of intelligence," Miller writes. The supreme commander of US forces in Iraq, General Ricardo Sanchez, agrees, and in November Sanchez will issue orders formally turning control of Abu Ghraib over to the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. In his 2004 report on abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib, General Antonio Taguba will take issue with Sanchez's orders, noting that they "effectively made an MI officer, rather than an MP [military police] officer, responsible for the MP units conducting detainee operations at that facility. This is not doctrinally sound due to the different missions and agenda assigned to each of these respective specialties." As it later emerges in Senate hearings, Miller's plan is to "Gitmoize" the prison system in Iraq, focusing it on interrogation and intelligence gathering. While in Iraq, Miller briefs senior officials in charge of Abu Ghraib and other prisons on the methods he has authorized at Guantanamo. Miller envisions turning Abu Ghraib into a center of intelligence for the Bush administration's global war on terrorism, according to the complete report. Miller writes that he and Sanchez envision a system that could "drive the rapid exploitation of internees to answer...theater and national level counter terrorism requirements" and respond to the "needs of the Global War on Terrorism." Miller apparently believes that the detainees in Abu Ghraib can provide intelligence critical to anti-terror operations around the world. Miller's report claims that if his recommendations are put into place, "a significant improvement of actionable intelligence will be realized within thirty days." On paper, it sounds appealing; in reality, as reflected by the Taguba report, Miller's recommendations bore quite different fruit. Taguba notes soundly enough that the prison population of Abu Ghraib and other Iraqi prisons is radically different from that of Camp Delta in Guantanamo, with the Iraqi prisons primarily populated by common criminals with little or no knowledge of terrorist activities. "These are not believed to be international terrorists or members of al-Qaeda" in Abu Ghraib. Taguba notes that Miller's recommendations directly conflict with other studies and with Army regulations mandating that military police units be in control of prisons. Seymour Hersh writes, "By placing military intelligence operatives in control instead, Miller's recommendations and Sanchez's change in policy undoubtedly played a role in the abuses at Abu Ghraib." In late March 2004, Miller will be placed in charge of the Iraqi prison system; within seven months, he will be relieved of duty. (Seymour Hersh)
Islamist terrorismThe Yemenis are all members of al-Qaeda; the Egyptians, members of the Islamic Group. The rationale is that many of them have completed their sentences and others have repented of their connections to radical Islam. The releases mirror the way some Arab regimes would release Arab jihadists if they would go to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. Victor Hanson Davis later wrote that the regimes might now be using the same device to "export them all to Iraq." (Michael Scheuer)
Prewar intelligence on IraqThe "liberation" of Iraq is a hollow victory. Instead of the rosy picture of flower-waving Iraqis welcoming an American presence, the country has degenerated into three armed camps, each with its own agenda and none particularly welcoming of the US. "[T]he Americans' best hope in years to come may be a regime that is so crippled by factional strife that it cannot become the leader, along with Iran, of a formidable anti-American bloc." The Bush administration also predicted a "new dawn" in the Middle East, with the overthrow of the Hussein regime triggering the collapse of Arab autocracies all over the region. Instead, the reverse has happened: democratic reformers in Egypt and the Persian Gulf states have gone underground, afraid that they will be stamped as US toadies as Arab and Islamic anger towards the US occupying forces increases. The US has also become more reliant on those selfsame autocracies, particularly the regimes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Instead of stopping Iran's nuclear ambitions, the Iraq invasion has fueled them. It has stiffened resistance to peace in both Israel and Palestine. Afghanistan has fallen into anarchy, with a resurgent Taliban holding control in large sectors of the country. Rather than rendering OPEC irrelevant, the consortium has grown in power. The war on terrorism has been weakened, not strengthened, by the Iraq debacle. Most observers predict that the Middle East will continue into ever-growing unrest and dissension for at least the next decade. Judis concludes, "If past practice holds, Bush's abysmal failures will lead to a new political offensive designed to gull the American people into believing that the invasion was really a smashing success." See below for the proof of Judis's predictions. (The American Prospect)
War in AfghanistanIn recent weeks, Taliban forces have stepped up their attacks on US forces, and have expanded their attacks to include Afghan police, officials and civil workers. American military spokespersons downplay the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but Afghan leaders and UN officials are warning that Taliban forces are becoming a serious threat to peace in the region. Afghan citizens complain of lawlessness and say that while they do not support the Taliban, they miss the strict law and order they enforced, which might explain why the Taliban is so effective in regaining control of areas of that country. "They have a sophisticated strategy of going after local people," a senior Western diplomat says. "The mantra they use is that the Americans and the international community will leave someday, and we will come back." (New York Times/Pipeline)
Islamist terrorismhave been arrested for planting the car bomb that killed Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim and 125 others. Five Iraqis and 17 other foreigners have been arrested as part of an investigation into the bombing. (New York Post)
Prewar intelligence on IraqShe says that he was "broken" by his treatment by the government, who attempted to dismiss him as a junior official being publicly reprimanded by his bosses at the Ministry of Defence for leaking information to the media. "Far from the impression originally given by the MoD and Downing Street, he was an extremely senior official whose job description included briefing the press, both officially and unofficially. Initially, after he volunteered himself as the possible source, he said his MoD bosses had been 'not unsupportive.' By the end of the 'nightmare,' he was less certain of the support from his bosses. He was dismayed that, despite assurances, his name had been made public. He became withdrawn, retreated into a world of his own and, on the day he apparently committed suicide, he could not put two sentences together." (BBC)
US militaryRumsfeld and the Army leadership have clashed on issues ranging from the number of troops in Iraq to the size of the overall force needed to defend America. Rumsfeld's critics say the skirmishing is taking a toll on the Army, with casualties that include the loss of a prized weapons system last year, the resignation of Army Secretary Thomas White last spring, and, in recent weeks, the retirement of four top generals, with more expected in the coming months. "You look at Rumsfeld, and beyond all the rationale, spoken and unspoken, he just dislikes the Army. It's just palpable," says former Army intelligence officer Ralph Peters. "You always have to wonder if when Rumsfeld was a Navy lieutenant junior grade whether an Army officer stole his girlfriend." (Boston Globe)
Media manipulation and marketing by GOPAn "oral history" of the media's experiences in Iraq during the days and weeks of the initial invasion (March-April 2003), Bill Katovsky and Timothy Carlson interviewed well over fifty journalists, cameramen, photographers, and civilians involved in producing media coverage of the invasion, and printed excerpts from those interviews. Viewpoints from many sides of the media, from Fox News to al-Jazeera, are provided. Overall, the book is an excellent sampling of the variety of experiences and anecdotes compiled by a healthy sampling of the army of media personnel who went into Iraq either embedded with the US and British forces, or who went in independently (despite the title, many of the media personnel interviewed were not embedded with the invading forces), or, in a couple of cases, were providing coverage for Arabic media outlets -- the other side, as it were. Most of the journalists say that the US and British military was quite cooperative and professional in their dealings with the media, and have a strongly positive impression of the professionalism and dedication of the military personnel with whom they served. The material presented is rich, varied, and illuminating.
Iraq war and occupationIt is doubtful that France and Germany will agree to such a proposal; both countries, along with many others, insist that the UN should lead any rebuilding efforts that they take an active role in implementing. Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage says the US is considering a multinational force that would be under the United Nations flag but, he adds, an "American would be the U.N. commander." This is essentially the model for American forces stationed in South Korea after the end of the Korean War, 50 years ago, and it has been repeated elsewhere in the world. A non-partisan study released today shows that it will become next to impossible for the US to maintain security and control in Iraq over the next two years without either allowing the UN to participate or turning the entire country over to the Iraqis and withdrawing. It is doubtful that the UN will accept such terms, either. A Maryland professor observes, "I suspect that the Germans and the French and Kofi Annan are now thinking about saying [to Bush], 'Are you reconsidering a strategy in which you claim the right to unilaterally decide what is in your interest, or are you just asking us to come in and help clean up your mess?'" Writer Gary Kamiya observes, "In other words, the rest of the world is to send its troops to get killed so that a U.S. president it fears and despises can take the credit for an invasion it bitterly opposed." It is later revealed that Bush and his top advisors, including Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld, gave in to pressure from Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to approach the UN. (New York Times, New York Times, Salon, Washington Post)
Iraq war and occupation"The Iraqi people are now free. And they do not have to worry about the secret police coming after them in the middle of the night, and they don't have to worry about their husbands and brothers being taken off and shot, or their wives being taken to rape rooms. Those days are over." At this point, documented abuses of Iraqi prisoners are already surfacing in the Pentagon. (Defense Department/Slate)
Iraq war and occupationUnder current policies, the CBO says that the Pentagon would be able to sustain an occupation force of 38,000 to 64,000 in Iraq long term, down from the existing 150,000 that a number of lawmakers said is not enough to confront the spiraling violence. Senator Robert Byrd, who requested the CBO study, says it showed that President Bush's policies in Iraq were "straining our forces to the breaking point. ...Every day frittered away by the administration is another day that our troops will bear the staggering burdens of the dangers of occupation alone." Byrd recommends that the Bush administration immediately begin working with the UN to share responsibility for bringing Iraq out of the current post-war chaos. (Reuters)
Oil profiteering and the "oiligarchy"The $4 billion in "punitive" damages sounds like a lot, but not only is it a drop in the bucket of Exxon's profits, it barely equals the cost of the damages the oil spill inflicted on the Alaskan coastline, and to the residents and wildlife of that area. ExxonMobil is the single largest campaign contributor to the Bush-Cheney campaign, and as a result, the administration has worked to pressure judges to favor Exxon in ruling after ruling. Just recently a federal appeals court judge in Texas ordered yet another judicial review of the Exxon punitive damage awards.
9/11 attacks"George W. Bush has officially told the people of New York City that as far as he's concerned, they can drop dead. And thanks to his lies, many of them will. ...Because of Bush's lies, thousands of Americans will suffer cancers, emphysema, heart attack, stroke, birth defects, stillbirths, sterility, eye/ear/nose/throat disease and much more. ...This man has horribly wronged the people of New York, whose terrible tragedies he continues to exploit. He puts us all at risk in exchange for campaign contributions. New Yorkers -- all Americans -- suffer and die as a result. It's a debt that can never be repaid." (Free Press)
Iraq war and occupationThe report calls the war-planning process flawed and rushed. Most importantly, the plans for locating the putative weapons of mass destruction were planned so late in the game that it was impossible for US Central Command to carry out the mission. "Insufficient U.S. government assets existed to accomplish the mission," says the report. The report is titled "Operation Iraqi Freedom Strategic Lessons Learned" and is stamped "secret."
9/11 attacksof Saudis to leave the United States hours after the 9/11 bombings, even though flights in and out of American airspace were all but shut down. Clarke says he agreed to the plan because the FBI assured him that the departing Saudis were not linked to terrorism. The White House feared that the Saudis could face "retribution" for the hijackings if they remained in the United States, according to Clarke. The actual number of Saudis who left the US numbers around 140, and that number includes several members of the bin Laden family, some of whom are believed to have connections to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, including WAMY. FBI spokesperson John Iannarelli says, "There's nothing to indicate that any of these people had any information that could have assisted us, and no one was accorded any additional courtesies that wouldn't have been accorded anyone else." However, Dale Watson, the former head of counterterrorism at the FBI, responds that the departing Saudis "were not subject to serious interviews or interrogations." Senator Charles Schumer says he doubts the thoroughness of a rushed review by the bureau, and in a letter to the White House he writes that the Saudis appeared to have gotten "a free pass" despite their possible knowledge about the attacks. The Bush administration still denies that any such flights took place. (New York Times/CommonDreams, Salon)
Prewar intelligence on Iraqonce again makes the long-disproven assertion of a proven connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda: "And the reason we had to do Iraq, if you hark back and think about that link between the terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, Iraq was the place where we were most fearful that that was most likely to occur, because in Iraq we've had a government -- not only was it one of the worst dictatorships in modern times, but had oftentimes hosted terrorists in the past...but also an established relationship with the al Qaeda organization.... Al-Qaeda had a base of operation there up in northeastern Iraq where they ran a large poisons factory for attacks against Europeans and US forces. ...[I]f we had not paid any attention to the fact that al-Qaeda was being hosted in northeastern Iraq, part of poisons network producing ricin and cyanide that was intended to be used in attacks both in Europe, as well as in North Africa and ignored it, we would have been derelict in our duties and responsibilities." It is true that a terrorist group loosely affiliated with al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Islam, had such a facility in northeastern Iraq, but neither the facility nor the group had any ties to the Hussein regime. During the same luncheon, Cheney says of Iraq's nuclear program, "If we had had that information and ignored it, if we'd been told, as we were, by the intelligence community that he was capable of producing a nuclear weapon within a year if he could acquire fissile material and ignored it...we would have been derelict in our duties and responsibilities," without telling his listeners that US intelligence believes Hussein was at least ten years away from developing a nuclear weapon of any kind, and considering the US and UN sanctions on the Hussein government, probably longer. (Bush on Iraq)
Iraq-Niger scandalSeventeen countries ranging from Latvia to Mongolia are providing troops to the international force for the south-central part of the country. Four other nations are providing logistical support. (Fox News)
Prewar intelligence on IraqBolton says that whether Hussein's regime actually possessed weapons of mass destruction "isn't really the issue. ...I have been confident that under Saddam Hussein, the Iraqis were determined to break the U.N. inspections and sanctions regime. And that that's why the elimination of Saddam Hussein's regime was critical, and the evidence to support that I think is there." (AP/ABC News)
Media manipulation and marketing by GOPRepublican leaders advise Bush to "be bold" in his budget request: "The president was told to ask for as much as he may need for the foreseeable future, whatever it is, ask for it now, and make sure you can justify it." Thomas Oliphant responds to the budget request: "President Bush's most egregious misstatement about the situation in Iraq is that he is asking Congress for $87 billion to stabilize it. That is baloney. He is in fact asking Congress for a second installment (the first in April was $79 billion) on a war that has no geographical, time, or force limitations beyond the capacity of the brains of the ideologues who are making up what some of them like to call World War IV as they go -- in secret, of course. There will be another installment -- probably this winter -- and almost certainly another after that. The only real question is which will come first in 2005 -- a running total in excess of $300 billion or a different president who might start by telling the truth about what he is doing. As befits a secretive and deceptive administration, the whole ($87 billion) is being emphasized at the expense of the parts and their true sum. Looking diligently at the parts would show that the whole has been misstated -- way on the low side. The 'sticker shock' from $87 billion was bad enough, but administration officials were not going to let the figure of $100 billion get into the headlines and on TV."
Iraq war and occupationSpeaking from Baghdad, Rumsfeld praises American efforts and notes that Baghdad, for a city without electricity, glows strongly at night: "For a city that's not supposed to have power, there's lights all over the place. It's like Chicago."
Partisan Bush appointeesEstrada, a Honduran-born conservative and former law partner of Solicitor General Theodore Olson, has fought for over two years for the seat, though he has never served as a judge in any capacity and can hardly be considered to be qualified for such a high judicial post. Estrada's nomination is passionately opposed by liberals and moderates. During his Senate hearings, Estrada refuses to discuss his feelings on such issues as abortion rights, and refuses to turn over memos from his tenure in the Solicitor General's office in the 1990s that would shed light on his views. (Estrada also refuses to turn over material showing that he screened law clerks for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, material that proved he screened applicants on ideological grounds. The Justice Department assists Estrada by refusing to turn over the requested materials, though the department had turned over similar materials during the confirmation hearings of William Rehnquist and Robert Bork.) Bush accuses Senate Democrats of "disgraceful treatment" in their opposition to Estrada, whom they rightly see as another in a long line of unqualified extremists nominated for the judiciary. Like the Clarence Thomas appointment to the Supreme Court in 1991, the Bush adminstration figured -- wrongly, in this case -- that Estrada's race would make him immune to criticism. (White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez accuses Democrats of holding Estrada "to a double standard" because of his race, apparently forgetting that Bush had recently withdrawn the nomination of a highly qualified Hispanic justice, Enrique Moreno, without allowing a hearing on his nomination. Moreno and dozens of other Hispanic nominees left over from the Clinton administration never receive Senate hearings, but simply have their nominations erased. About 7% of Clinton's court nominees were Hispanic, a far higher percentage of Hispanic nominees than any other president; Bush has only nominated two, both far-right ideologues.)
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityAmerica's homeland security after Bush's bold promise that he would do everything he can to shore up the nation's vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks:
9/11 attacksInstead, Vice President Dick Cheney will attend in Bush's place. Bush will attend a memorial church service in Washington, DC instead. The night before, he will host a dinner party and the screening of "Twin Towers," a documentary about the efforts of rescue workers after the attacks. Bush aides declare that Bush felt a more "low-key" memorial was appropriate for this service, and deny that Bush's slumping approval ratings in New York City have anything to do with the decision to stay away. "Quite honestly, he probably would have gotten booed," says Bill Doyle, who lost his son Joey in the attacks. (New York Daily News)
Iraq war and occupationFrench Premier Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder both say that the draft fails to meet their primary concerns: that political authority in Iraq be transferred quickly to Iraqis and that the United Nations, not the United States, take over the key role in the Iraq's postwar rebuilding. Schroeder continues by saying that the American draft resolution shows "there is movement," and adds, "It is not dynamic enough. It doesn't go far enough. ...Now is the time to bring stability to the country, and that can only be achieved if the United Nations takes full charge of the political process." (Washington Post/Charlotte Observer)
Iraq war and occupationafter soldiers long overdue for rotation out of Iraq had served extra duty sprucing up the camp and building a stage for Rumsfeld to speak from. One soldier observes, "I don't give a damn about Rumsfeld. All I give a damn about is going home. ...The only thing his visit meant for us was we had to clean up a lot of mess to make the place look pretty. And he didn't even look at it anyway." Rumsfeld's official reason for canceling the appearance is because of a tight schedule, but some believe it is because he didn't want to face hard questions from a weary, irate soldiery. Another soldier says, "If I got to talk to Rumsfeld I'd tell him to give us a return date. We've been here six months and the rumor is we'll be here until at least March. This is totally, totally uncalled for." Soldiers watching footage of Rumsfeld saying that fresh U.S. troops were unnecessary in Iraq were visibly angry, shouting "No way!" and other comments at the television. "I ain't happy," says a third soldier. "No way am I happy seeing that. This tour is hard, real hard. It's too much. It should be six months." Other soldiers refuse to comment except to say they didn't dare complain about their long deployment for fear of being disciplined. Earlier this year, military leaders warned their troops they should not show disrespect for Rumsfeld after a rash of criticism from soldiers in Iraq appeared in the media. (Reuters/CommonDreams)
Prewar intelligence on IraqHe presents evidence (all of which is contained in this Web site) that the Iraq invasion was not motivated by terrorism, but by a desire to control the Middle East's oil supply as well as being the first step in a progression that is designed to lead to global US domination. He also accuses the Bush administration of being aware of the 9/11 attacks beforehand, and of letting them happen instead of preventing them in order to capitalize on them for their own geopolitical goals. While the article creates a storm of controversy in Europe, and is denied by a Bush spokesperson, it is virtually ignored by the American media. (Guardian, Guardian)
Iraq war and occupationto send 1,200 more troops to Iraq to support the joint American/British force already there. (AP/ABC News)
Iraq war and occupationHe implicitly concedes that the invasion and its aftermath are going to cost substantially more than he indicated in April. He also bows to pressure from Colin Powell and the State Department and says that the UN must play a stronger role in rebuilding Iraq; typically, he demands that the UN shoulder "the responsibility" to help instead of asking for assistance after months of going it alone and raining contempt on the entire idea of international cooperation. (Washington Post, Washington Post, AP/ABC News)
9/11 attacksFormer White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke has already told Vanity Fair that the Bush administration decided to allow a group of Saudis to fly out of the US just after September 11. At least four flights with about 140 Saudis, including roughly two dozen members of the bin Laden family, flew to Saudi Arabia that week without even being interviewed or interrogated by the FBI. Powell defends the decision to let the Saudis leave by claiming that Saudi Arabia has always been a staunch and unwavering US ally against Islamic terror. (MSNBC)
9/11 attacksThey hope that analysis of the tape will provide clues as to why the towers fell so quickly. The tape was shot by a Czech immigrant construction worker from a moving vehicle. (AP/ABC News)
9/11 attacksReviewer Matt Zoller Seitz calls it "a valentine to Bush, who's portrayed as a Gary Cooper type (solitary, decisive, tough yet sensitive) and a gift-wrapped present to the right-wing talk radio listeners who think Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for 9/11 and that the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center wouldn't have happened if Bill Clinton had been more macho. [The movie] portrays the president as sort of a flesh-and-blood superhero. This Bush is a western movie good guy, a deeply honest man who came to Washington to clean up the moral toxins dumped by the Clinton administration -- a white collar warrior who makes tough decisions fast and never wavers; a foreign policy savant who instinctively grasps the nuts and bolts of every issue, no matter how complex, by virtue of the fact that, well, he's Bush." The wife of a 9/11 victim, Kristen Breitweiser, calls it "a mind-numbingly boring, revisionist, two-hour-long wish list of how 9/11 might have gone if we had real leaders in the current administration."