Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What Jihadis Think of Americans

The Management of Savagery

"The aim which motivates the enemies is a material aim. Thus, the doctrine of conflict which the people of unbelief and apostasy possess is a material, worldly doctrine in most of its structure. They conceal worldly motives with religious or false, so-called cultural motives. The dogmatic [i.e. religious], traditional factor in the motives is considered one of the factors motivating them to battle. Perhaps in the eyes of their ignorant followers, it is considered a strong motive. However, what fuels their action are material interests and the desire to survive. They strive to survive, but it is not just any survival; rather, it is a survival which guarantees for them an unruffled life of comfort and luxury. As for their allies and those who support them, they continue and remain steadfast in their coalition with them as long as their interest is served by that alliance. Therefore, we must understand this very well.

The most important of their political principles is the principle of self-interest. This principle absolutely does not submit to any moral value; rather, all the other principles are subordinate to it--friendship or enmity, peace or war--and are all determined according to self-interest."

From The Management of Savagery by jihadi political strategist Abu Bakr Naji, translated by William McCants, funding provided by the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. Edited slightly for clarity by me.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Carl Ford: US Intelligence Is Crap

Former Bush Assistant Secretary of State says don't 'accept the crap we give you'

Appearing before the The Senate Democratic Policy Committee, former Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research Carl Ford called upon policy makers to accept part of the blame for intelligence failures, telling them to 'not accept the crap we give you.'

The proceedings are chaired by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and are hearing testimony regarding pre-war intelligence in Iraq.

Video below.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

No Credible Statement Regarding Killing of US Soldiers

Media Falls for Apparent Al-Qaida Hoax Message

By Evan Kohlmann
June 20, 2006 05:56 PM

This morning, various media outlets began reporting that Al-Qaida had issued a statement claiming that newly designated Al-Qaida commander in Iraq Abu Hamza al-Muhajir had personally executed two U.S. soldiers kidnapped from a traffic checkpoint in Al-Yousifiya several days ago. That statement gained credibility when the U.S. military found the bodies of the two men, apparently mutilated as described in the online claim. There are two key points that must be made regarding this would-be Al-Qaida document:

1.) It is indeed true that yesterday (June 19) the Al-Qaida umbrella group known as the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC) claimed responsibility for kidnapping the two U.S. soldiers in an authenticated statement released through typical Al-Qaida Internet channels. No other significant insurgent group has issued a similar claim, and the MSC has a fairly consistent track record of only claiming operations it is actually responsible for. Thus, it is almost certain that the two men were taken captive by, or rendered over to the custody of Al-Qaida-linked operatives.

2.) As of 6 p.m. eastern time (U.S.), no credible statement has been issued by either Al-Qaida or the MSC on any authenticated online distribution site regarding the killing of the two U.S. soldiers. The aberrant statement that was posted on the Internet today was *NOT* released by Al-Qaida or its propaganda team, and it must be treated as a hoax until there is some additional corrobative proof.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Life at Guantánamo Bay

Former detainee paints harrowing portrait of life at Guantánamo Bay

By Avery Walker

Ahmed was stripped down, given body and cavity searches and had his head and beard shaved. He was then dressed in goggles, a woolen cap, a jacket and what jailers called a "three piece suit": a chain that wraps around the waist, connecting handcuffs to shackles. He was on his way to Guantánamo.

There, abuse continued as "the rule, not the exception," Ahmed recalls. Interrogations would be as often as twice a day, or as lengthy as twelve hours, he adds.

Such interrogations were done under the pretense that the world was unaware prisoners were being held at the base, he says. But thanks to the guards at Kandahar, Ahmed knew better.

"I believed people knew detainees were in Guantánamo," he explains. "But we were told that nobody cares and nobody is going to be doing anything about it. After being told that a hundred, a thousand times, you start to believe it."

A change in leadership, he says, changed detainee life for the worse.

"The treatment got really, really bad when [Major General] Miller came," Ahmed avers. "That's when it all started. That's when the torture and interrogation with dogs, hot and cold environment -- stuff like that started happening."

In addition to the more widely reported use of dogs and guns in interrogations, Ahmed claims that one of the most painful forms of abuse was simply being in an extreme environment -- prisoners could be placed in cells that were allowed to grow extremely hot during the day and dropped to freezing at night.

When asked what other forms of abuse he personally experienced, Ahmed says quickly and gravely, "sexual abuse." A strange silence follows. When asked for specifics, he says simply, "I don't really want to go into details."

Major General Geoffrey Miller took over at Guantánamo Bay in November of 2002, with the aim of bringing order to the camp. He has since been reassigned to head US operations at Abu Ghraib.

CNN: Fighting in Iraq

CNN has a more information-oriented story on the fighting in Iraq:

50 workers snatched in Iraq bus hijacking

This is what the Mujahedeen Shura Council said about the Russian diplomats:

"The council gave the Russian government a respite of 48 hours to respond to its demands, this government doesn't respond to conditions for liberating its diplomats, but it doesn't attach any importance to its citizens and it was contented only with demanding their liberation, and continued- at the same time- its war against Islam and Muslims, therefore the legitimate court of the Mujahedeen Shura council of Iraq decided to execute them according to Allah's rule applying his law and supporting our brothers anywhere of whom the Russian hands was stained with their blood, and to be a lesson for the others talking themselves about defying the moujahedeen and being audacious to come in the glory's earth in Belad Arrafedayn 'Iraq'."

Dan Rather Is Not Retiring

Rather fires back at CBS

"My departure before the term of my contract represents CBS's final acknowledgement, after a protracted struggle, that they had not lived up to their obligation to allow me to do substantive work there. As for their offers of a future with only an office but no assignments, it just isn't in me to sit around doing nothing. So I will do the work I love elsewhere, and I look forward to sharing details about that soon."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Something Is Fishy Here

Al Qaeda Claims 'Barbaric' GI Killings

(I had to change that link because the original story has disappeared.)

On the 19th the Mujahedeen Shura Council mentioned the two US soldiers kidnapped near Youssifiyah--but contrary to reports in the US press has not said anything about killing them:

"Day by day people are surer of the weakness and the jumble of the American intelligence in Iraq. The last incident is a clear proof on that weakness where Mujahideen Shura Council of Iraq succeeded in kidnapping two American soldiers in a place near to al-Yosofiah area. The American army with its various armored vehicles attacked the areas near to the incident place searching for their two men but the 'strongest army in the world' returned empty-handed and humiliated, all praise and gratitude be to Allah. "

Mujahedeen Shura Council of Iraq-Press Releases 20-06-2006

On June 20 they claimed to have killed/destroyed two Iranians and their translator, a four-wheel drive GMC, a spy for the Americans in Baquba, three (maybe five) members of the Badr militia, a national guard armored vehicle, a Humvee in al-Mekdadeya, and one national guardsman in Baquba. Not a word about the two Americans.

It seems to me that it would be a great advantage to Bush etc. to pretend these two soldiers have been killed (and better yet, "brutally slaughtered and tortured") if they are still alive. First, it relieves them of pressure to negotiate for their release. Second, it further demonizes the resistance. And what use are black ops anyway, if they can't accomplish a simple deception like this?

Most people seem to accept the proposition that the Mujahideen Shura Council has a mysterious other website. If you have a link to it, please send it to me. Until that happens, I will continue to assume that it doesn't really exist.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Soft Point Bullets, Soft Bodies

Free Arab Voice announced the death of eleven civilians, five of whom were women and children. All of them had reportedly been killed by snipers. In the western press no accounts of these victims were found.

Ramadi resident Qasem Al-Dulaimy, who fled the city May 1 but returned about May 10, sent an email which was posted on the internet by Brian Conley, an American journalist reporting from Amman, Jordan. Al-Dulaimy wrote of the danger caused by American snipers, who had already killed many children with shots to the head. Al-Dulaimy personally knew one such child, seven-year-old Haitham Yusif Hubaiter, who had been killed on his way to school by a sniper two months earlier. On May 10, Al-Dulaimy’s home was also targeted, fortunately without injury. He writes:

“At 9:30 in the morning, the US troops tried to install more snipers by occupying more houses close to the core of the city, some fighters attacked them and tough fighting continued for 3 hours... US bullets damaged many houses because of their random shooting, this way hurt many families inside their houses and my family was harmed also when many bullets sparked fire in the kids room.. I heard their screams while 2 of my nephews run away from their burning bedroom. My brother and I ran upstairs to find out what kind of hurt we will find this time... my mind was full with images of a kid killed with sniper bullet in head or burned dead body of one of my nephews. I was scared too much and I lost control of my steps on the stairs. I found my brother broke down the door and crashed the window with his hands to get out the heavy smoke and he carried out his 5 year-old son Mustafa who was startled, to get him out of the burned room. The fire started to burn some blankets, I found my way to bring water and started extinguishing the fire. It was small fire caused by the bullets …this kind of bullets used by US troops is very harmful gun for human beings or the materials-it contains lead that will be like a hot liquid inside the bullet...if the bullet get inside the body will explode and crash the body from inside and melt bones & flesh ….and if the bullet attacked a car or furniture or wood, it will burn and melt it .”

The description of the bullets indicates that these were so-called soft point bullets. Like dumdum bullets they expand on impact, which causes enormous damage to the body. Because expansion of soft point bullets happens less quickly than that of dumdum bullets, they penetrate deeper. Since 1899, there is an international ban on the use of bullets with such effects.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Permanent War?

Tomgram: Robert Dreyfuss, The Iraqi Insurgency and Us

by Robert Dreyfuss

Until now, truly antiwar Democrats have represented a minority force within the party. In opposition, they have largely been eclipsed by moderate Democrats and realist Republicans, both seemingly content to argue that the war in Iraq was merely a "mistake" and an inefficiently prosecuted "failure" without confronting the war itself. In fact, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic minority leader who (half-heartedly) supports Rep. Murtha's get-out-now position, used both of those words over and over during last week's debate. Both words are deadly -- and probably wrong as well.

The war in Iraq was not a "mistake." It was a deliberately calculated exercise of U.S. power with a specific end in mind -- namely, control of Iraq and the Persian Gulf region. It was illegal and remains so. It was a war crime and remains so. Its perpetrators were war criminals and remain so. Its goals were unworthy and remain so.

"Nation Being Exterminated" Means "Iraqi People"

A friend in the UK just told me he'd gotten a message saying that Google Translation renders the Arabic words for 'nation being exterminated' شعب يباد as 'Iraqi people'. I checked, and he's right. Here's a screenshot:
'National Genocide' Translates as 'Iraqi People'

Separating the words, شعب means nation or people. يباد means extermination or genocide. For example, in another phrase Google translates لابد ا يباد as 'Must be a genocide'. The only noun in that phrase is يباد.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Horrors of War

Ghastly photos from Iraq that I hadn't seen are on a website called The Nausea. I feel so helpless.

Dead Iraqi

Another Dead Iraqi


Wounded American Soldier

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Whispered Lie

Records: Press Aide Knew Online Chat Risks

The Associated Press reports that pedophile Homeland Security official Brian Doyle told the fictitious 'girl' he was chatting with that President Bush is a liar and that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Hmmm...what purpose does this story serve? To associate Bush critics with a pedophile. Who would think of a smear so brilliant, so vile?

Who but Karl Rove?

And there's nothing anybody can do about it...wait! Karl Rove, pedophile, Karl Rove, pedophile, Karl Rove, pedophile, Karl Rove, pedophile. No, of course I don't know anything about Karl Rove's sex life. (I know a lot about the Googlebot's preferences, though.)

Gore Won the 2000 Election

Gore disapproval remains high in new NBC/WSJ poll

Raw Story reports that according to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll published late Thursday, Americans view former vice president Al Gore unfavorably by 42%-30%,

A more interesting comparison, judging from the actual poll, which is at NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey June 2006, is Gore's favorability ratings in the recent poll compared with the one taken in October 2000 (likely voters) in the same poll. In October 2000, 49% gave Gore a favorable rating, 11% were neutral, and 40% gave him an unfavorable rating. This compares with 30% favorable, 25% neutral and 43% negative in the recent poll. Those neutral voters have shifted in the past, and certainly could again.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Iran and the Great Game of Chess

Tom Engelhardt talks about Iran and SCO in a new article with Michael T. Klare's The Tripolar Chessboard.

"Since the British imperial moment of the late nineteenth century, the image of much of the world -- especially Central Asia and the Middle East -- as but a set of pawns in a 'Great Game' on a geopolitical 'chessboard' where the great powers of whatever era are at play has been a commonplace. Many have died in one version or another of this 'game,' which, if you don't happen to be in an office in London or Washington or Moscow thinking strategic thoughts, has always had such a distinctly unplayful aspect to it, but the image persists.

Now, with Iraq acting as the geopolitical equivalent of a black hole, sucking all U.S. attention its way, other powers turn out to be capable of playing the game too; and new, still not fully coherent power blocs, are slowly coalescing to thwart Washington's desires."

Putting Iran in Great Power Context

By Michael T. Klare

"Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. position in both the Persian Gulf and Central Asia has noticeably deteriorated. At present, the Bush administration's greatest weakness remains the schism in U.S.-European relations created by the unilateral U.S. invasion itself. Because the Europeans felt betrayed by that action, they have largely refrained from helping out either in the counterinsurgency effort in Iraq or in funding the reconstruction of the country. This has imposed a ghastly and mounting cost on the United States. Fearing a repetition of this fiasco in Iran, the White House has clearly decided to let the diplomatic process play out on the Iranian crisis in a way they refused to do when it came to Saddam's Iraq. So, within limits, they are letting the Europeans set the diplomatic game plan for 'resolving' the nuclear dispute."

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Amnesty for the Iraqi Resistance

Iraq Amnesty Plan May Cover Attacks On U.S. Military

Wow. Amnesty for insurgents who have attacked only Americans. It won't make any difference, but it shows how far the Bushies have fallen.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Mujahideen Shura Council - Read It Yourself

US and Iraqi forces to mount crackdown

Reuters reports from Baghdad that "a Web statement said al Qaeda's new leader in Iraq had vowed to avenge the killing of his predecessor Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a U.S. air strike last week.

'The day of vengeance is near and your strong towers in the Green Zone will not protect you,' said the statement, posted on an Internet site often used by Islamist militants and signed by the new leader Abu Hamza al-Muhajir."

The source is the website of the Mujahideen Shura Council. It's on Blogspot and the text can be easily copied and pasted into Google Translator; their new Beta Arabic-to-English machine translation is pretty good. Here's its version of Al-Muhajir's statement:

"Abu Hamza from immigrant to my dear ... You should not hide the ferocity of the battle is being waged between the right and Soldiers recruited from falsehood and includes Alroafeda defector and on the ground Rafidain. Three years ago, when Azaz Abenaek Mujahadeen passed defeat enemies and degradation. God, the decisive stage Abenaek remained Ladona only Iulina back, God willing, for not commenting. Abenaek in that country Rafidain well, and today are more determined and more stable and more powerful than ever. Whatever partisanship infidels, no matter how it is assembled Mkhzul Medhaur suffers form bleeding nose and blood as recognized leaders. Every day, three years ago claiming that the battle is about to expire E'mlon people, The strikes and the world watched invasions Mujahideen triumphant confirm to them that the Mujahideen are making every day a step and that the camp of infidels declining continuously and the collapse (consecutively. Say was right and what is wrong and what Ibda re) [Saba : 49]

My dear ... I saw how Adok crusader now beg allied forces should withdraw Tzrh and in the field alone, It is Estgith States and the European appeal Battwagit Arab States to remove it, which became known as the "Iraqi quagmire." The blood defector was warm and hypocrites, the incompetence, and sometimes delayed, Once the rule comes doomed once certain transitional government, After this and that there arrived a game of democracy and elections Degel brought him Alroafeda service and the vaunted year who have betrayed their Allah and his messenger. Mstenvza so all options and has not left with the non-recognition of the fact that the impasse taken by the subtle and Arks of the great God. It is the last stage will be assembled to serve, and will enrich their category of God something.

My dear ... Abenaek Mestbshron today that the blessing of God and leftovers as jihad and Khashm Akermahm bringing enemies ...) Katlohm Iethbhm God's hands, and ye Ikhozhm and recovered a people believing in) [repentance : 14] And the father of Herrera that the messenger of Allah blessings and peace be upon him said "that God who laboured in the process does not get it out but Jihad in the process of ratification by his words that she Paradise or Erjan home to 165,000 j left with what it received from the prize or pay "accounts steam.

My dear ... Failed you say to those belonging to the people of the same year and sold Llsalibin hand and the hands Alroafeda Al_hadoqin arguing on flimsy pretexts and extrapolations void : You will see God as a result of what we have prepared you Khiantkm and Rdtkm. Vsiovna enacting the Rkabacm will not differentiate between an apostate and another.) Akvarkm best Olekm Or you innocence in Alzebr) [Moon : 43] God has Fedahekm day Mddtm Leroafeda escape rope, and you know how the Sunni own hatred and the amount of daily crimes against say Sunni women and children as well as elderly and young people, You Pthalathe Alathavi, and the end man on the butcher candidate city Ezz "Fallujah" for the office of the Minister of Defence. The day of retribution will soon singing thanks Brojkm built inside the green area ...) He also says Khiantk have betrayed their God had previously been able to know God is wise) [Anfal : 71]

We say descendants Allqumi son ... Your employer of the Danube worlds, and offer the best Dispatched Tantam, Stmtm Sahaba honored, The giving of yourself in the service includes ... Sennzl you rule Abi Bakr Llmertdin friend in the war and we will continue what it started with leader Abu-Musab mercy of God - and Lenkatlenkm so that the word uniformity is the supreme and the word Tagetkm are lower. As you Salibion ... The days among us telling them stability and Ldankm. The battles will reveal the falsity of the Khor Kotkm your soldiers and expose Ktabacm Alacher. Neither Tajtnkm exhilarating joy of killing leader Abu-Musab mercy of God, he had left Asuda, Rbahm sample, and trained in Arinh. They holders curriculum and doctrine, not only fighting for God and in God and God ...) Say Is not one of us Trbeson Alhosniin We Nterbes Eseibekm you that God is at pains or hands Ftrbeswa I am with you Mtrbeson) [repentance : 52] (Those who believed in fighting for the sake of God and those who are fighting to smite leviathan fighting guardians Satan that Satan But weak) [women : 76]

Nation of Islam and even jihad : Here are the enemies of God are preparing written and urge parents to strike the city of Rabat, the gaps in the city of Ramadi, dignified people and their clans, Where do you longer than our relatives there? Not the best in us to come to them and us beating race, hailed Hla combatting the enemies of God and responded Kidham our brothers and Msajdna and Haraerna.

Amerna man and father Abdullah Osama Bin Laden : The God of us Akermana brotherhood proud Achaus met with the "Mujahideen Shura Council," were very helpful and a champion, contracted to victory wars and the commitment of the curriculum advances satisfied by God, God Fjezahm us and for all the Muslims all the best.

Amerna man and father Abdullah Osama Bin Laden : We are at your disposal and loved God. The Nbshrkm Balmanoyat high Ljundkm Balnvos dignified and proud to come under the Raitkm Battlaea victory recently authorized God.

God is most downtrodden, but most people do not know.

Abu Hamza Al-Muhajir
Amir al-Qaeda in the Land of the Rafidain
The media Mujahideen Shura Council 17 / 5 / 1427 e
approved Tuesday 13 / 6 / 2006 m
The media Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq
Source : (Dawn Information Center)"

After posting this I discovered that it is not necessary to use Google Translation because the MSC has its own version in English: Mujahedeen Shura Council of Iraq-Press Releases.

Dead Iraqis

David Swanson on War Porn and Iraq

Tom Engelhardt has a new story about war trophy photos, with examples. The photos are posted on the afterdowningstreet.org website...and I don't recommend looking at them unless you have a very strong stomach. The article on TomDispatch has links to some of the photos, not the worst ones. I give you one of the war trophy photos.

Hadji Girl

'Marines' Cheer Song About Killing Iraqi Civilians

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the Pentagon and Congress to investigate a music video posted on the Internet that seems to show U.S. Marines cheering a song that glorifies the killing of Iraqi civilians.

CAIR said the four-minute video, called "hadji girl," purports to be a "marine in iraq singing a song about hadji." (A "Hajji" is a person who has made the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, but the term has often been used as a pejorative by U.S. troops in Iraq.) The song, posted online in March, tells of a U.S. Marine's encounter with an Iraqi woman. It has been viewed by almost 50,000 people.

The song's lyrics include: "I grabbed her little sister and put her in front of me. As the bullets began to fly, the blood sprayed from between her eyes, and then I laughed maniacally. . .I blew those little f**kers to eternity . . .They should have known they were f**king with the Marines." Members of the audience, not shown in the video, laughed and cheered wildly for these lyrics.

The songwriter is Joshua Belile of Jax, North Carolina.

Hadji Girl (wmv video)


I was out in the sands of Iraq
And we were under attack
And I, well, I didn't know where to go.
And the first think I could see was
Everybody's favorite Burger King
So I threw open the door and I hit the floor.
Then suddenly to my surprise
I looked up and I saw her eyes
And I knew it was love at first sight.
And she said

Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.
And she said
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I love you anyway.

Then she said that she wanted me to see.
She wanted me to meet her family
But I, well, I couldn't figure out how to say no.
Cause I don't speak Arabic.
So, she took me down an old dirt trail.
And she pulled up to a side shanty
And she threw open the door and I hit the floor.
Cause her brother and her father shouted

Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
They pulled out their AKs so I could see
And they said
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah

So I grabbed her little sister and pulled her in front of me.
As the bullets began to fly
The blood sprayed from between her eyes
And then I laughed maniacally
Then I hid behind the TV
And I locked and loaded my M-16
And I blew those little fuckers to eternity.
And I said

Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
They should have known they were fucking with a Marine.

(My idea of a nice, plump human shield is Karl Rove.)

Rove Not Charged

Would you like to meet these guys in a dark alley?

President Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, right, departs the White House with Bush July 14, 2005. Rove has been told by prosecutors he won't be charged with any crimes in the investigation into the leak of a CIA officer's identity, his lawyer said Tuesday, June 13, 2006.

Shooting Women

Another US Cover-Up Surfaces in Iraq

by Dahr Jamail

With Arkan Hamed

According to an earlier account, Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, a 35-year-old mother of two, was killed in firing along with her 57-year-old cousin Saliha Mohammed Hassan on May 30 when they were being transported to Samarra General Hospital for Nabiha to give birth.

What was not reported, according to an Iraqi human rights investigator who spoke with IPS on condition of anonymity, was that both women were shot in the back of the head by U.S. snipers.

"I investigated this incident myself, and both of these women were shot from behind," said the investigator. "Nabiha's brains were splattered on her brother who was driving the car, since she was in the back seat."

The brother of the pregnant woman, Redam Nisaif Jassim, who was driving the car, told IPS that he neither saw nor heard any warnings by the U.S. military. Two men who witnessed the incident from a nearby home also said they saw no signs of any warning.

"These kinds of killings by the Americans happen daily in Iraq," said Jassim, "They gave no warning to us before killing my cousin and sister. Of course we know they have no respect for the lives of Iraqis."

"The area where they were killed by the Americans was completely unmarked," the human rights investigator told IPS. A warning sign at the place was put up after the two women were killed, he said.

The next day Redam Jassim was summoned to a local police station. "The Americans offered me $5,000, and told me it wasn't compensation but because of tradition," Jassim told IPS. The U.S. military pays usually $2,500 compensation for killing an Iraqi. Jassim says he refused the payment.

A Witness to Zarqawi's Death

How Iraq's ghost of death was cornered

The Sunday Times
June 11, 2006

Ali Abbas, 25, a labourer, had just got home on Wednesday when, shortly after 6pm, the first of two huge blasts shook his house. He was only 300 yards from where the F-16 aircraft dropped two 500lb laser-guided bombs.

“It was so close I thought my uncle’s house next door had been attacked,” he said.

In the calm that followed, Abbas rushed out to help. He found his uncle unharmed, but as they looked across the fence they saw that the neighbouring house on the edge of a date palm grove was a smouldering wreck.

“We ran to it and started to look around for anything, but it had all been reduced to rubble,” he said. “We saw the bodies of two women that had been flung away from the blast. Both were dead. Another body was totally destroyed and in pieces, and then we heard a moan coming from another part of the house.”

They raced to where the sound was coming from. “We found the body of a big man, middle-aged. There was life in him still. It took seven of us to move him from within the rubble and carry him out about 100 metres. He had a black dishdasha [robe]. His hair was longish and his beard soft black. He just moaned over and over again. He had an injury to the back of his head.”

As they dragged the wounded man from the ruins of the house, an ambulance and Iraqi forces turned up, taking the total number of people at the scene to about 14. The men had barely finished placing him in the ambulance when seven US helicopters landed by the house and four Humvees rumbled through the dust.

“They were shouting and screaming and in a very tense and agitated mood,” said Abbas. “They lined us up in a ditch and told us to turn our faces. We thought they were going to execute us. I started reciting koranic verses to myself.” The soldiers then took the wounded man from the back of the ambulance, placing his stretcher on the ground.

“The Americans tore his dishdasha and they kept on asking him through an interpreter, ‘What is your name, what is your name?’,” said Abbas. “They were tearing his dishdasha, not to wrap his head with it as they did later but because they were afraid he might be wearing a suicide belt. They kept shouting, ‘Keep your distance, he may be wearing a suicide belt’.”

He was not. “Under the dishdasha he was wearing only knee-length white undershorts,” said Abbas.

Once the soldiers had established the man was not a threat, they started to kick him in the chest, said Abbas and an Iraqi policeman also there. “They kept kicking him, shouting, ‘What’s your name?’, but the man only moaned and said nothing,” said Abbas.

As the small crowd of Iraqis looked on, the wounded man grew paler and blood oozed from his mouth and nose. It took about a quarter of an hour for him to die from the time when he was removed from the ambulance, Abbas estimated.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Would It Kill You?

Media Guy's WIKYpedia: Would It Kill You to Stop It?

By Simon Dumenco

Would it kill you, New York Times, to admit that your much-hyped "Market Gauges" pages -- the successor to the stock tables --are a failed experiment? Nice try, but a static collection of charts and graphs and stats rendered in gray-scale is useless. Just send everyone to your interactive, real-time, colorful, online market-data array at nytimes.com, and be done with it. You're wasting your time, our time and newsprint.

Would it kill you, Conde Nast, to cut the self-congratulatory blather surrounding your distant-future business magazine? Glad you finally settled on a name -- Portfolio. Yippee. But with the hype dial already cranked up to 11, you're straying dangerously close to Talk magazine overkill territory. And since when is underscoring how excruciatingly slooooowwwww you are a good idea? April 24, 2007? Hollywood blockbusters with casts of thousands get made quicker than Portfolio. Chill out on the drum-beating and focus your energy on making a brilliant magazine, please.

Would it kill you, "Godless" author Ann Coulter, to do us all a favor and kill yourself? (Oh, well, yeah, I guess it would kill you.)

After her recent rabidly hateful, foaming-at-the-mouth, sub-human "Today" show appearance -- in which she reiterated her assertion that 9/11 widows are "enjoying their husband's deaths" -- even her former supporters began to fantasize about how much nicer the world would be if it were Coulterless.

The Stolen 2004 Election

I cancelled my subscription to the print edition of The New York Times because of Judith Miller, and my subscription to The Times Select because of their page-one story about the sex life of the Clintons. With that last cancellation I sent a message promising that I would never again read anything they print. That was a promise I've just broken. Columnist Bob Herbert has read Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Rolling Stone article about the stolen-in-Ohio 2004 presidential election. He has also interviewed some of the people Kennedy talked to, and written about it himself.

NYT Bob Herbert: Kerry 'almost certainly' won Ohio in 2004

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Hunger Strikes at Gitmo

Death in Guantanamo, TIME magazine

The Administration has a keen interest in keeping detainees alive, even against their will. Force feeding has long been standard policy for hunger strikes at Gitmo, which first began in 2002. The facility's top physicians have told Time that prisoners who resist are subjected to what critics call especially forceful methods. According to medical records obtained by Time, a 20-year-old named Yusuf al-Shehri, jailed since he was 16, was regularly strapped into a specially designed feeding chair that immobilizes the body at the legs, arms, shoulders and head. Then a plastic tube, sometimes as much as 50% bigger than the type commonly used for feeding incapacitated patients, was inserted through his nose and down his throat—a procedure that can trigger nausea, bleeding and diarrhea.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

North Korea and U.S. in 1997

More from Blowback by Chalmers Johnson. His articles are also online, website of the Japan Policy Research Institute:

American Intelligence Services Lose Credibility Over East Asian Security Problems

Even though it remains a small, failed Communist regime whose people are starving and have no petroleum, North Korea is a useful whipping boy for any number of interests in Washington. If the military needs a post-Cold War opponent to justify its existence, North Korea is less risky than China. Politicians seek partisan advantage by claiming that others are "soft" on defending the country from "rogue regimes." And the arms lobby had a direct interest in selling its products to each and every nation in East Asia, regardless of its political orientation.

There is considerable evidence that since the signing of the Agreed Framework in 1994, a series of mysterious incidents has been created deliberately to undermine diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions. In September 1997, for instance, the United States, South Korea, China, and North Korea were scheduled to hold negotiations on replacing the forty-five-year-old Korean armistice with a peace treaty. In the same month the United States also said it hoped to obtain North Korea's adherence to an inernational agreement first negotiated in 1987 called the Missile Technology Control Regime. This agreement sought to bring under control the transfer of technologies that could be used to make intercontinental ballistic missiles. The United States had indicated in advance that it would lift some of its economic sanctions against North Korea if it would halt deployment and sales of its missiles.

On August 22, 1997, the eve of the talks, the North Korean ambassador to Egypt, a key player in North Korea's missile sales to the Middle East, "defected" to the United States. R. Jeffrey Smith, a reporter for the Washington Post, quoted a CIA source as saying, "There will be people in the intelligence community who will be salivating to see this guy." (Washington Post, August 27, 1997) In the New York Times Steven Lee Myers noted that the defection threatened the peace talks but quoted another U.S. official as saying, "The alternative of turning down a bona fide plea for asylum from a state like North Korea is pretty unthinkable." (New York Times, August 28, 1997) Jamie Rubin, a State Department spokesman, insisted that the defection "will not affect the four-party peace talks." ("Special State Department Briefing," U.S. Information Agency Transcript, August 26, 1997) Then Newsweek revealed that the former ambassador had in fact long been on the CIA's payroll. (Newsweek, September 8, 1997) Informed observers concluded that he had not so much defected as been called in from the cold at a time of the CIA's choosing and with an eye toward scuttling the upcoming talks. North Korea in retaliation declined to attend either set of scheduled meetings.

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Heck of a Job, Brownie

Email to Brown claims Bush was happy former FEMA head was taking heat for Katrina response

An "embarrassing email" leaked by former FEMA head Michael Brown to CNN quotes President Bush as saying at a Cabinet meeting held shortly after Katrina that he was pleased that Brown was taking most of the heat for the federal government's roundly criticized response to the hurricane.

How Was Zarqawi Killed?

Zarqawi still alive when Iraqi police got to him, US says

It sounds to me like the Iraqi police put Zarqawi on a stretcher, when the Americans arrived he tried to escape, and then the Americans killed him.

America has stopped taking prisoners.

North Korea: Endgame of the Cold War

Blowback : The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (Owl Books, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2000)

by Chalmers Johnson

As a result of the end of the Cold War, North Korea had lost the patronage of the USSR. For the previous forty years, the Soviet Union had competed with the People's Republic of China to curry favor in Pyongyang, and this was the chief international structural condition that allowed the North to prosper and become somewhat independent of both. In 1974, following the first OPEC oil crisis, North Korea's Soviet ally sponsored its entry into the International Atomic Energy Agency so that the Soviets could help North Korea develop a nuclear-power-generating capability. In 1985, North Korea adhered to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, also at the Soviet Union's behest. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, North Korea lost not only Soviet nuclear aid and any continuing reason to participate in Western-dominated atomic control regimes, but also its second most important source of fuel oil. China, previously its leading source, now compounded these difficulties by asking North Korea to pay largely in hard currency for Chinese oil imports (though they also accepted some barter payments).

Under these circumstances, in March 1993, North Korea gave notice of its intention to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Whatever its reasons--including fear of Japan, energy demands, post-Cold War isolation, and thoughts of possible "posthumous retaliation" (Raymond Aron's phrase) against Japan and a triumphant South Korea--North Korea developed the foundations for a small future nuclear-weapons capacity, or at least convinced the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had. It has never actually tested a nuclear device. (It is highly unlikely, in fact, that it yet has one to test.) The initial American reaction was belligerent. The Pentagon talked about "surgical strikes," à la the 1981 Israeli attack on an Iraqi reactor being built at Osisraq. Patriot missile brigades were transferred to Seoul, and the United States seemed poised once again to use force on the Korean peninsula.

American policy on nuclear nonproliferation has long been filled with obvious contradictions, and the officials in charge of the Korean branch, through overreaction and an almost total ignorance of their adversary, played right into the North's hands. Until the five Indian nuclear tests of May 1998, the United States had more or less refused to acknowledge that in addition to Britain, France, China, and the Soviet Union, proliferation had already occurred in Israel, India, Pakistan, and South Africa; that South Korea, Japan, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, Algeria, and Taiwan had technologically proliferated without testing; and that Iraq--perhaps Iran, too--was almost surely pursuing a clandestine nuclear-weapons program. The U.S. doctrine of nonproliferation also ignores the fact that there is something odd about a principle that permits some nations to have nuclear weapons but not others and that the United States has been only minimally willing to reduce its own monstrously large nuclear strike forces.

North Korea has ample reason to build a nuclear-power-generating capacity, given its vulnerability to a cutoff of crude oil. From a national security standpoint, Japan's nuclear power capacity, its fast-breeder reactor program, its plutonium stockpile, and its solid-fuel rockets with ICBM capabilities could all plausibly appear threatening to a country that it once colonized and exploited. Japan has some forty-one nuclear plants generating 20 percent of its electricity, with another ten under construction. It has set a goal of meeting 43 percent of its demand for electricity through nuclear power by the year 2010.

The North Koreans must also have come to the conclusion that, whatever the American threats, a military strike against it was wholly unlikely. For one thing, South Korea is deeply opposed, not least because of memories of the way its capital, Seoul, only thirty-five miles from North Korean troops at the DMZ, was totally detroyed during the Korean War. In March 1999, when the United States was once again stridently issuing warnings about possible North Korean weapons of mass destruction and insisting that Pyongyang was developing ballistic missiles to deliver them, the South Korean defense minister ruled out participation by his country in a U.S. plan to create a regional missile shield, the theater missile defense (TMD). He further stated in the clearest possible terms that Seoul was opposed to any preemptive attack on North Korea even if war tensions were to rise to unbearable heights on the peninsula.

Equally important, a new Korean war would almost certainly end the Japanese-American alliance. Since the Americans would inevitably take some casualties and the Japanese would refuse to participate at all militarily, the American public would want to know why. The Japanese-American Security Treaty was badly strained by a similar pattern during the Gulf War; a repetition in Japan's "backyard" might well snap it. The American military therefore tacitly gave up on a military option and turned to the idea of imposing sanctions against North Korea if it did not rejoin the control regime created by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow the IAEA to resume inspections of its nuclear facilities.

The threat of sanctions also proved meaningless, although it did reveal to the American government how little its strategic thinking fits the actual complexities of the region. The legal basis for imposing sanctions would have to be Articles 41 and 42 of the United Nations Charter, which authorize the Security Council to impose interruptions of economic and diplomatic relations and militarily enforced blockades to give effect to its decisions. China would have vetoed the use of either article. Nor was it clear that there had ever been any legal basis for sanctions, because North Korea had formally and in a legalistic sense quite properly declared its intent to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Such sanctions would have involved some combination of acts that would include interrupting North Korean tele-communications, cutting off desperately needed remittances of money from Koreans in Japan, prohibiting people and vessels from going there via a blockade, and stopping all trade. North Korea promptly announced that it would regard any blockade as an act of war and would retaliate directly against Seoul. This caused the South Koreans to lose their enthusiasm for sanctions. The suggestion that Japan join in the use of sanctions against North Korea proved acutely embarrassing, revealing as it did both the extent to which Japan was already involved in propping up North Korea economically and the extent of the Japanese guilty conscience over its mistreatment of its own sizable resident Korean population, many of whom support North Korea.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Well, if you want to call it art...you're insane.

Bush National Guard bust unveiling said postponed from December of 2002 because of 'pending war' with Iraq

The unveiling of a bronze bust commemorating President George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard was postponed initially from December of 2002 due to the "pending war" with Iraq at the time, according to an assistant to the renowned sculptor commissioned for the project.

"Charles caught me before my hair went gray," the president had joked. Sculptor Charles Parks' assistant told Raw Story that the president didn't model for the bust, so the artist used pictures from the Internet and Time Magazine as a reference.

George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and George H.W. Bush

George Bush Sr. asked retired general to replace Rumsfeld

By Sidney Blumenthal

"Former President George H.W. Bush waged a secret campaign over several months early this year to remove Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The elder Bush went so far as to recruit Rumsfeld's potential replacement, personally asking a retired four-star general if he would accept the position, a reliable source close to the general told me. But the former president's effort failed, apparently rebuffed by the current president. When seven retired generals who had been commanders in Iraq demanded Rumsfeld's resignation in April, the younger Bush leapt to his defense. 'I'm the decider and I decide what's best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain,' he said. His endorsement of Rumsfeld was a rebuke not only to the generals but also to his father."

Bush's "Black Propaganda"

There's a fascinating--and very complicated--story in Vanity Fair about the Niger yellowcake forged documents. Some of the parties involved seem to have been neo-Fascist Italian hit squad Propaganda Due, former New Republic correspondent Michael Ledeen, and information peddler Rocco Martino. If the sleasy underbelly of the spy game interests you, read the whole thing.

The War They Wanted, The Lies They Needed

by Craig Unger

"The Bush administration invaded Iraq claiming Saddam Hussein had tried to buy yellowcake uranium in Niger. As much of Washington knew, and the world soon learned, the charge was false. Worse, it appears to have been the cornerstone of a highly successful 'black propaganda' campaign with links to the White House."

Why They Hate Us in Four Letters: JCET

I'm reading

Blowback : The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2000)

By Chalmers Johnson

"A staple of American thinking about foreign policy is that democracies pose no threat to other democracies. But if the countries of Latin America are now democracies, logically that should mean that they do not need to "modernize their militaries." They might instead follow the example of Costa Rica, which since 1948 has had no military, only a civilian constabulary, and which is one of the most stable, peaceful countries in the area. Its former president, Oscar Arias, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating an end to multiple civil wars in Central America, is a strong opponent of the renewed American arms shipments. In 1999, he observed, "Americans have shown great concern about the reported loss of classified nuclear secrets to the Chinese. But they should be just as outraged that their country gives away many other military secrets voluntarily, in the form of high-tech arms exports. By selling advanced weaponry throughout the world, wealthy military contractors not only weaken national security and squeeze taxpayers at home abut also strengthen dictators and worsen human misery abroad."

When such contradictions are exposed, the Pentagon falls back on the argument that if it does not sell the arms to Latin America, some other country will. By analogy, Colombia might say to the United States that if it does not grow and sell cocaine to Americans, some other country will. When considered together, the extensive JCET training programs in the region and the new arms sales policy are undoubtedly undermining democracy in Latin America and moving several long-standing conflicts toward war. For example, for some time JCET missions have been training the army of Ecuador while the Pentagon has sold Ecuador military Black Hawk helicopters and A-37 combat jets. Only after the training and the sales were completed did the United States discover that Ecuador was planning to use these forces not against drug dealers and "terrorists" but for a war with Peru.

The United States has justified its contacts with the Ecuadorian military as a means to get to know its leaders personally and to develop long-term relationships of trust. But as Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory has observed, many in the Reagan administration and the Pentagon knew practically every crucial figure in the Salvadoran death squads, most of whom were graduates of the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. This did not stop the Salvadorans from killing seventy thousand of their fellow countrymen, not to mention raping and killing four American churchwomen in 1980, acts the American ambassador to El Salvador and the secretary of state then covered up. One Salvadoran colonel whom the U.S. ambassador suspected of ordering the murders of the three nuns and a Catholic lay worker was, in 1998, living comfortably with his wife and children in Florida."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The New York Times Recruits Baghdad Reporters

Times Recruits Team For Baghdad Bureau: Its ‘Volunteer Army’

By Gabriel Sherman

Over Memorial Day weekend, New York Times metro reporter Paul von Zielbauer called his mother to tell her about his new assignment: Next month, he’ll be going to the Baghdad bureau.

“She freaked out and she hung up,” Mr. von Zielbauer said, “and turned on the TV and saw what happened to the CBS News crew.”

The bombing that hit the CBS team—killing cameraman Paul Douglas and soundman James Brolan, and leaving correspondent Kimberly Dozier in critical condition—made Iraq the deadliest modern war for journalists, by the tally of the Committee to Protect Journalists. When The Times posted job openings in Baghdad in March, only five applicants came forward.

Still, Mr. von Zielbauer, 39, is on his way, to be joined in July by Damien Cave, 32, and later this fall by Marc Santora, 31. The three are on six-to-eight week trial tours, to prepare them to be possible replacements for bureau staff.

For reporters in their 20’s and 30’s, it’s the biggest assignment there is.

UK, Poland and Romania Help with Torture

From logistics to turning a blind eye: Europe's role in terror abductions

Guardian Unlimited
Stephen Grey and Ian Cobain
Wednesday June 7, 2006

The full extent of European collusion with the CIA during operations to abduct terrorism suspects and fly them to countries where they may be tortured is laid bare today by the continent's most authoritative human rights body.

Several states have allowed the agency to snatch their own residents, others have offered extensive logistical support, while many have turned a blind eye, according to the Council of Europe.

The UK stands accused of not only allowing the use of British airspace and airports, but of providing information that was used during the torture of one suspect. The report adds that there is strong evidence to suspect two European states, Poland and Romania, of permitting the CIA to operate secret prisons on their soil, despite official denials.

My Lai and Haditha

The Real Meaning of Haditha

Collateral Damage
The "Incident" at Haditha
By Tom Engelhardt

First news stories about the My Lai massacre (picked up from an army publicity release), March 1968: The New York Times labeled the operation a significant success: "American troops caught a North Vietnamese force in a pincer movement on the central coastal plain yesterday, killing 128 enemy soldiers in day-long fighting." United Press International called it an "impressive victory," and added a bit of patriotic color: "The Vietcong broke and ran for their hide-out tunnels. Six-and-a-half hours later, ‘Pink Village' had become ‘Red, White and Blue Village.'"

The New York Times, November 21, 2005:
"The Marine Corps said Sunday that 15 Iraqi civilians and a Marine were killed Saturday when a roadside bomb exploded in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad. The bombing on Saturday in Haditha, on the Euphrates in the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar, was aimed at a convoy of American Marines and Iraqi Army soldiers, said Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool, a Marine spokesman. After the explosion, gunmen opened fire on the convoy. At least eight insurgents were killed in the firefight, the captain said."

Knight Ridder, March 21, 2006:
"Questions about the incident [at Ishaqi] focus on diverging U.S. military and Iraqi police accounts of the raid, which happened around 2:30 a.m. on March 15 on a house about 60 miles north of Baghdad. Both sides and neighbors agree that U.S. troops were involved in a firefight with a suspected member of al-Qaida in Iraq. But the U.S. account gave the death toll as four and said the house collapsed from the heavy fire it took during the fighting. The al-Qaida suspect was found alive in the rubble and arrested, the U.S report on the incident said. Iraqi police, however, contend that U.S. troops gathered 11 people in the house into a single room and executed them, before destroying the house as they left the area."

Charlie Company, which had suffered 28 casualties in its first months in the area without ever seeing the Vietnamese enemy, was bent on revenge when, on March 16, 1968, it entered the sub-hamlet of My Lai 4, known to the soldiers as "Pinkville," on the Battambang Peninsula in Quangnai Province. Looking for the reputed "headquarters" of the 48th Vietcong Battalion, they found only women, children, infants, and old men, none resistant, many finishing breakfast. Almost all were slaughtered, upwards of 500 human beings.

At Haditha, we know that, in the phrase of the soldier who first reported the My Lai massacre, "something rather dark and bloody" –- and, it seems, criminal -- happened. It started with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, a "feral" unit, living in a "Lord of the Flies" encampment (as described by British journalist Oliver Poole who paid it a frightening visit), on its third tour of duty in Iraq. It had already been in some of the darkest, bloodiest, most feral fighting of the counterinsurgency war -- the destruction of much of the city of Fallujah in November 2004. After watching a company member die from a roadside bomb that November day a year later, some of the unit's soldiers evidently massacred 24 Iraqi civilians who happened to be living nearby in the town of 90,000 in the heartland of the Sunni insurgency. A My Lai-style cover-up followed.

Stephen Colbert to the Class of 2006

Stephen Colbert, the sexiest man in the world after V (who may not be a real man), was invited to give the commencement address at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. An excerpt follows.

Stephen Colbert's Address to the Graduates

"And when you enter the work force, you will find competition from those crossing our all-too-poorest borders. Now I know you're all going to say, 'Stephen, Stephen, immigrants built America.' Yes, but here's the thing -- it's built now. I think it was finished in the mid-70s sometime. At this point it's a touch-up and repair job. But thankfully Congress is acting and soon English will be the official language of America. Because if we surrender the national anthem to Spanish, the next thing you know, they'll be translating the Bible. God wrote it in English for a reason! So it could be taught in our public schools.

So we must build walls. A wall obviously across the entire southern border. That's the answer. That may not be enough -- maybe a moat in front of it, or a fire-pit. Maybe a flaming moat, filled with fire-proof crocodiles. And we should probably wall off the northern border as well. Keep those Canadians with their socialized medicine and their skunky beer out. And because immigrants can swim, we'll probably want to wall off the coasts as well. And while we're at it, we need to put up a dome, in case they have catapults. And we'll punch some holes in it so we can breathe. Breathe free. It's time for illegal immigrants to go -- right after they finish building those walls."

Ollanta Humala, Alan Garcia, and Cosmopolis

The Peruvian presidential election 2006

I was disappointed by the defeat of Ollanta Humala in the Peruvian presidential election, but maybe Alan Garcia is not so bad. A writer who dismisses both of them as "populists" and believes that "the presidents Fujimori and Toledo have reversed the economic downturn and pacified the country" laments his election.

Monday, June 05, 2006

It's a Hell of a Lot of Fun to Shoot Them

Probing a Bloodbath

Appearing last year on a panel in San Diego near his former home base at Camp Pendleton, Lt. Gen. James Mattis said, "Actually, it's quite fun to fight them. You know, it's a hell of a hoot ... I like brawling. You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."

Mattis was scolded by the top brass for his remarks, but not too harshly, for he had just been nominated by President George W. Bush to become commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Force and head of Marine Forces Central Command. The impact of Mattis's remarks on an average 19-year-old jarhead can be imagined: killing is fun, like videogames.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Gore 2008

Last night I persuaded John to go see Al Gore's new documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth. He had said he wasn't up to watching the destruction of the planet, but when I suggested that he drop me off at the theater, he gave in. (John doesn't like me to go anywhere alone because he still believes I'm an incredibly beautiful woman and someone might steal me.)

This is a very interesting film. Not because I learned anything I didn't already know about global warming--but because it answers the question, "Is Al Gore running for President?" Yes. And he will win in a landslide. Although the film now seems like preaching to the choir, in 2008, after he's nominated, many more Americans will watch it. The world looks brighter this morning.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Village of Ishaqi

U.S. troops cleared in Ishaqi raid probe

"A military investigation into allegations that U.S. troops intentionally killed Iraqi civilians in a March 15 raid in a village north of Baghdad has cleared the troops of misconduct, two defense officials said Friday."

Would this be because there were no survivors?

The Americans in Ishaqi

Graphic photographs show bodies of civilians killed in Ishaqi, Iraq

Photographs taken by Agence France Presse but not distributed by major US media outlets show the bodies of Iraqi civilians killed in March in a home in Ishaqi, Iraq.

According to Reuters' report on the incident, the 11 bodies of men, women and children, including a 75-year-old grandmother and a child under the age of one, were found bound in their blown-up home. All were shot in the head; the house was riddled with bullets. At the time, "The U.S. military said two women and a child died during the bid to seize an al Qaeda militant from a house."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Americans in Haditha

A Town Awoke to Slaughter

Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2006

After the roadside bombing, the Marines arrived first at the door of Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali, 89, an amputee who used a wheelchair. They shot him, then turned their guns on his three sons and their families, survivors said.

Waleed Abdul Hameed, a 48-year-old worker in Al Anbar's religious affairs office, was among the first of the family members to be gunned down. His 9-year-old daughter, Eman, said she was still wearing her pajamas when the Marines arrived. Her 7-year-old brother, Abdul Rahman, said he hid his face with a blanket when his father was shot.

A few minutes later, the boy saw his mother fall to the ground, dying.

"I saw her while she was crying," he said. "She fell down on the floor bleeding." Speaking days ago in Haditha, months after the attacks, the boy broke into tears, covered his eyes with his hands, and began to mutter to himself.

At his side, his elder sister began to speak again. Eman described how the two had waited for help, the bodies of their family members sprawled on the floor.

"We were scared," she said. "I tried to hide under the bed." With shrapnel injuries to her legs, she lay still for two hours.

When the shooting began, Eman's aunt, Hibba Abdullah snatched her 5-month-old niece off the floor. The baby's mother had dropped her in shock after seeing her husband gunned down. Clutching the child, Abdullah ran out of the house. She and the baby, Aasiya, survived.

The Marines stopped next at the home of customs official Younis Salim Nusaif, 45, his wife, Aida Yassin, and their six children. The 42-year-old Yassin was in bed that morning, recovering from a recent operation. Her sister had come to stay with the family and help with housework while she recuperated.

Everyone was at home when the troops arrived. And all but one 12-year-old girl were slain. Along with the parents and visiting sister, four girls and a boy, their ages ranging from 4 to 15, were shot by the Marines, said neighbors and the surviving child, Safa Younis Salim.

During a meeting with a reporter, Safa, with a round face and big brown eyes, was withdrawn and reluctant to talk about the attack. Only after her relatives coaxed her did she describe how she played dead. The Americans yelled in the faces of her family members before shooting them, she said, then kicked them and hit the bodies with their guns.

The schoolgirl said she lay on the ground, covered with her sister's blood, and pretended to be dead while her family died around her. Her sister's blood spurted fast; it was like a water tap, she said.

"I feel sorry. I was wishing to be alive," said Safa. "Now I wish I had died with them."

"It doesn't mean that much to hear that 20 people were killed by the Americans," said Hassan Bazzaz, a political analyst in Baghdad. "Every single day people are killed and thrown in the streets, in the garbage cans. They're scared to death. They don't even have time to think about what happened in Haditha."

Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

A stunning new story in Rolling Stone by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. about the 2004 presidential election, with 208 footnotes (many of them including URLs), sets a new standard in journalism. Yes, I know, Kennedy's not a journalist--but do real journalists even exist?

Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

"Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House."