Monday, March 31
Bombs and Biscuits
Every Iraqi Child is Now an Unwitting Participant in This Obscene War. And Every One of Us is Morally Implicated
Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, March 31, 2003
After the bombings, the ambushes and assaults, the newsreaders' voices lighten as they reach the humanitarian aid slot in the story running order.
The images of bloodied limbs and bombed buildings are replaced by jostling crowds being roughly corralled by British troops distributing bottles of water. This is the battle for hearts and minds, we are repeatedly told.
The crude attempt at manipulation beggars belief: whose heart and mind are won by such images of angry desperation? Certainly not the Iraqis, bewildered by the invader who has deprived them of the water in the first place, who kills their children and then throws them the paltry solace of one bottle - enough to last one person a couple of hours.
The issue of aid and how it's being played on our television screens reminds us what this war is all about.
Not oil, not weapons of mass destruction, but a demonstration of US power,
necessary after 9/11 to impress appropriate fear and respect in the hearts and minds across the globe - in Europe as much as in the Middle East.
The assumption was that Iraq offered a suitable stage for this performance - not too dangerous or too strong and with some oil booty thrown in.
The media would convey the two crucial lessons which the American administration believed the world needed to be taught:
of the terrifying technological prowess of American weaponry
and the benign nature of the Pax Americana. [...]
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle NEWS
1. Predators patrol skies
Keith Rogers, ReviewJournal.com, March 22, 2003
While the world watched television footage of the bombing on Baghdad Friday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged the important role of the Air Force's unmanned Predator spy planes, the ones that 100 men and women from the Nellis base are operating in the war.
"We're using the Predator and it's helpful," Rumsfeld said, standing beside Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a room packed with reporters at a Pentagon briefing.
Predators, developed and manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., of San Diego, have come a long way since they were used in 1998 to spy on tanks and compounds in Bosnia.
In August, the company announced that the 27-foot-long Predator for the first time had launched what is essentially a baby Predator, or miniature unmanned aerial vehicle, while in flight.
Known as the FINDER, which stands for Flight Inserted Detector Expendable for Reconnaissance, or sometimes referred to as the "sniffer," these tiny Predators could prove to be invaluable for detecting or "sniffing" chemical, biological or radiological compounds in the air.
These mini-drones could be landed or retrieved to analyze samples.
Some could be used to transmit detection data as they fly on pre-determined routes. [...]
2. Soldier Toys Today, Civilian Toys Tomorrow
Jonathan Krim, Washington Post Staff Writer, March 28, 2003
In the 1991 Gulf War, widespread use of Global Positioning System devices put that satellite technology on the map and helped make GPS a household name. Devices using GPS to get a fix on location became commonplace in cars and in handheld units used by hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
Recent conflicts have likewise elevated the military's high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle -- the HMMWV, or "Humvee" -- to a consumer status symbol under the Hummer brand name, for those who can afford the $50,000 price tag.
Technology experts and military historians watching the unfolding war in Iraq note that with the digital age well underway, ..... Technology experts and military historians watching the unfolding war in Iraq note that with the digital age well underway,
Unmanned Predator drones are used as attack vehicles, carrying missiles that were used to kill suspected al Qaeda officials in Yemen late last year.
But for surveillance, camera-carrying UAVs can come in packages as small as six inches across and weigh about two ounces.
One such vehicle, called the Dragon Eye, is built to be taken to the battlefield in a backpack. A bungee cord serves as a kind of slingshot to launch the vehicle before its electric motor takes over. The operator directs it with a laptop computer.
A spokesman for AeroVironment Inc., a Monrovia, Calif., maker of UAVs for military and law enforcement use, said the vehicles his company makes are not available for civilian use. [...]
3. Eye in the sky
Scott Kirsner, Digitalmass.Boston.com, Tech & Innovation
Parked nose down on a chair in Colonel Howard Borst's office, the newest addition to the Air Force's fleet looks like a designer's first-draft concept for an airplane, an aerodynamic idea rendered in Styrofoam.
Actually, Borst explains, this is a flight-worthy Desert Hawk, an unmanned aerial vehicle that's a smaller, lighter, and much cheaper cousin to the Global Hawk and Predator drones that flew in Afghanistan and are now deployed around Iraq. The Desert Hawk has flown more than 120 missions since September. It is launched into the air by two people using a bungee cord as a slingshot. Once aloft, it flies at speeds of 25 to 50 miles per hour, following a flight path that has been plotted out beforehand on a laptop using GPS coordinates.
The plane can be directed to circle over an area of interest, or the operator can alter its flight path while the plane is in the air, using the same kind of point-and-click interface most people use to send e-mail. No prior piloting experience is necessary. The small payload area of the Desert Hawk can hold one of two interchangeable camera systems, an infrared thermal imaging system for night use, or a set of three color cameras for daylight.
The vehicle itself looks as though it has been sculpted from a beer cooler. Borst says the material is "rubberized polypropylene," a flexible, damage-resistant type of foam. The only sound it makes in flight is a steady whine from the electric motor. From the ground, it can easily be mistaken for a bird. In fact, Borst says that during testing in California last year, a curious bird of prey flew in formation with the Desert Hawk.[...]
Mullah Omar issues order to wage 'jihad'
NDTV.com, March 31, 2003
Associated Press, (Islamabad): The Taliban's elusive leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has issued a fresh order for jihad or holy war against US troops and Afghans who work with them, drawing parallels between Afghanistan and Iraq.
His latest decree carries the signatures of 600 Islamic clerics reminding the faithful of their duty to wage jihad and comes amid stepped up attacks against international forces in Afghanistan.
"Whenever the non-Muslims attack a Muslim land it is the duty of everyone to rise against the aggressor," reads posters that are reportedly authored by Omar and openly displayed in towns and villages in eastern Afghanistan and in the tribal regions of Pakistan.
"We were blamed for Osama bin Laden because they said he was a terrorist and he was taking shelter with us. But what is the fault of Iraq? Iraq has no Osama bin Laden in its country," the black and white poster says. [...]
Sunday, March 30
Back Off, Syria and Iran!By Maureen Dowd, New York Times, March 30, 2003
WASHINGTON —We're shocked that the enemy forces don't observe the rules of war. We're shocked that it's hard to tell civilians from combatants, and friends from foes. Adversaries use guerrilla tactics; they are irregulars; they take advantage of the hostile local weather and terrain; they refuse to stay in uniform. Golly, as our secretary of war likes to say, it's unfair.
Some of their soldiers are mere children. We know we have overwhelming, superior power, yet we can't use it all. We're stunned to discover that the local population treats our well-armed high-tech troops like invaders.
Why is all this a surprise again? I know our hawks avoided serving in Vietnam, but didn't they, like, read about it? [...]
Bloodied but still unbowed, Baghdad prepares to fight
Patrick Graham in Baghdad, The Observer, March 30, 2003
When the bombs drop at night in Baghdad, Muthana Mohammed Saleh wakes up and sings into a microphone. His call of 'Allah Akbar' from the minaret of the mosque mingles with low booms around the city.
With the symbolic targets destroyed early on and the liberation of the city not going as planned, the allied planners are working their way down the list. On Friday they knocked out three telecoms exchanges using bunker-busting missiles that made the ground shake in the surrounding area. That night, they hit the Ministry of Information, long expected to be a target but perhaps delayed as the allies waited to see if the city would fall in the first week.
Baghdad is now preparing for a siege. The city is almost unrecognisable from a week ago. The transformation is so complete that it is clear the government has been preparing its own strategy for a lot longer than the Pentagon. [...]
In an interview with The Observer almost a month ago, an adviser to Saddam Hussein laid out a battle plan that seems to be unfolding with surprising accuracy ..... The adviser described the war as '10 Vietnams' that would be waged long after the invading forces arrived. He also believed that images of the war, especially dead American soldiers and Iraqi casualties, would sway US domestic opinion and an international outcry would force the US to stop fighting. While President George W. Bush says the outcome is inevitable, earlier predictions about Iraq's capabilities have proved inaccurate.
The regime planned to make Baghdad and the Sunni heartland around it the final battle ground that would tie up foreign troops for months, perhaps years. The adviser dismissed the possibility that the Iraqi leadership could be hunted down.
As usual, it will be the civilians who are unable to hide. It appears now that the allies will either lay siege to the city, evoking connotations of the Serbs surrounding Sarajevo, or try to enter by force. The latter will require the kind of fight through neighbourhoods unsuited to the allies' technical superiority and sensitivity to images of civilian casualties.
The Iraqi army and security services have been preparing for weeks, vacating obvious targets and moving troops into apartment blocks, schools, and even social clubs. Most street corners have their sandbagged emplacements and plainclothed security keep close watch on everybody. [...]
The bombing itself has become so common that few pay attention unless they are in the immediate vicinity. But those who are nearby find it hard to forget the experience. For the first hour of last Friday's bombing we were stranded near some of the targets. [...]
It is astonishing how calm and well ordered Baghdad remains even as the bombs fall. Life is not in any way normal but it does continue. There was heavy traffic heading south out of the city yesterday and shops selling fruit, vegetables and meat were busy.
A few days ago we stopped in a tea shop and chatted to some young men. The bombing made the windows shake but no one paid much attention. They were more interested in the television showing fighting around Nasiriyah.
When Saddam came on, it quieted down. The president exhorted his people to fight long and hard. 'Americans are going into the desert near your city and you must fight them,' he said. So far, they appear to be paying more attention to their president than Mr Bush.
Sergeant's suicidal act of war has struck fear into Allied hearts
Robert Fisk, The Independent, 31 March 2003
Sergeant Ali Jaffar Moussa Hamadi al-Nomani was the first Iraqi combatant known to stage a suicide attack. Not even during the uprising against British rule did an Iraqi kill himself to destroy his enemies.
Nomani was also a Shia Muslim – a member of the same sect the Americans faithfully believed to be their secret ally in their invasion of Iraq. Even the Iraqi government initially wondered how to deal with his extraordinary action, caught between its desire to dissociate themselves from an event that might remind the world of Osama bin Laden and its determination to threaten the Americans with more such attacks.
The details of the 50-year-old sergeant's life are few but intriguing. [...]
There was some talk by Vice-President Ramadan of "the martyr's moment of sublimity", an expression hitherto unheard of in the Baathist lexicon. General Hazim al-Rawi of the Ministry of Defence recalled that the dead man bore the same name as "the Imam Ali" and announced that the new "martyr Ali has opened the door to jihad".
He said that more than 4,000 volunteers from Arab countries were now in the country and that "martyrdom operations will continue not only by Iraqis but by thousands of Arabs who came to Baghdad".
Suddenly, it seems, Islam has intruded into this very nationalistic war of liberation – for that is what it is called here – against the Americans.
Suicide bombers 'arrive in Iraq'
BBC News, March 30, 2003
A militant Palestinian group has declared that its first wave of volunteer suicide bombers has arrived in Iraq.
Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad said in a statement that it "brings to our people and nation the good news of the arrival of its first martyrdom (attackers) to the heart of Baghdad."
The group's mission is "to fulfil the holy duty of defending Arab and Muslim land," by attacking coalition troops, the statement said.
Iraq has declared that more than 4,000 foreign Arab volunteers have come forward to fight and were ready to die if necessary.
"We want to help Iraqis, not Saddam," said Amr, a student volunteer from Cairo.
"I know I might die. I don't want to kill people but I will if I have to, to protect people like those children with their heads missing."
Television footage of civilian casualties from Iraq's second city of Basra showed a child whose head had been blown off. [...]
THE WAR WITH IRAQ
By Steve Boggan in Amman, Evening Standard 25 March 2003
On the streets of Jordan hundreds of anti-war demonstrators march every day.
In Saudi Arabia, senior Muslim clerics call upon their followers to wage jihad, holy war, against America.
Burning American flags, thousands of angry people on the streets and exiled Iraqis returning home to fight.
It is a far cry from the scenes of people throwing flowers on liberating troops that
George Bush and Tony Blair might have imagined.
Across the Middle East, antiwestern sentiments are hardening with every bomb
seen crashing into Baghdad on Al Jazeera TV.
In Yemen, where three died last Friday in a march on the United States Embassy, western diplomats and oil company executives are given personal bodyguards.
In Oman, people march and chant "Bush and Blair are God's enemies.
And inEgypt police have been fighting running battles with demonstrators. [...]
For ordinary Arabs, however, that is not enough. "I used to dislike Saddam,
but now I think he is a great leader," said Nada Emad, a 23-year-old assistant pharmacist
in Amman, Jordan. "This aggression is uniting Arabs, even people who didn't see
eye to eye before." With Arab television stations showing images of civilian casualties,
including one of a young boy with half his head blown away in Basra,
public anger is increasing every day.
Fayez Kazem, who fled Saddam's regime four years ago, is preparing to go
back from Jordan to fight the coalition.
"I can't stay watching the television, seeing Baghdad burning," he said.
"The Iraqi is born from the womb of his mother carrying a weapon."
Thousands of Iraqi exiles have been returning over the past week from Jordan, with
many insisting they want to defend their country against US and British
Coalition losses a lot more: Web site
Shyam Bhatia in Kuwait, Rediff.com, March 30, 2003
A Russian Web site about the war in Iraq, which offers an alternative to the daily diet of propaganda by coalition officers, is fast becoming compulsive reading throughout West Asia.
Criticised for getting information from Russian spies, http://www.aeronautics.ru has claimed that the US and Britain have had heavier losses, fewer Iraqi surrenders and more complications than their leaders suggest.
Author "Venik" says he is translating reports on the war by "journalists and military experts" who use a Russian-language site called http://www.iraqwar.ru to pass on information from the GRU -- "the all-seeing eye of the Russian military".
For its part, the GRU gets information from wiretaps, radio monitoring, satellites and thousands of agents.
[On Saturday, the Web site reported .... "Radio communications intercepted during the last five days suggest that the coalition is using Israeli airfield" to conducts air raids on Iraq, it said.
"Combat aircraft taking off regularly from Hatzerim and Navatim [Israeli airbases] do not return to the same bases, but fly toward the border with Jordan while maintaining complete radio silence. Possibly, these are just Israeli Air Force exercises, However, [Russian] radio intercept and radar units observe increased intensity of radio communications coming from the Jordanian Air Force and air defence communication centres during such overflights, as well as changes in the operating modes of the US Army "Patriot" tracking radars deployed in Jordan]
Last week it described how coalition forces were preparing for a big push on several fronts, which might include the capture of the Saddam Hussein Airport, near Baghdad.
A Russian aviation expert known for his military contacts is vouching for these reports.
When the official news was upbeat more than a week ago, his sources reported that the Iraqis had been gravely underestimated and that US Central Command chief General Tommy Franks was in danger of being replaced as commander of the coalition forces.
Last Tuesday they predicted the massive American reinforcements, which have since been announced.
They also reported that American defence chiefs were horrified at the number of "smart missiles" they had spent for thin results, and were preparing to switch to conventional bombing.[...]
[Last Thursday's despatch included this report of mistaken firing by American A-10 planes, on its own coalition forces:
"Intercepted radio communications show that at around 0615hrs this morning the lead of a flight of two A-10 ground attack planes detected a convoy of armored vehicles. Unable to see any markings identifying these vehicles as friendly and not being able to contact the convoy by radio the pilot directed artillery fire to the coordinates of the convoy.
Later it was discovered that this was a coalition convoy. Thick layers of dust covered up the identification markings - colored strips of cloth in the rear of the vehicles. Electronic jamming made radio contact impossible. First reports indicated that the US unit lost 50 troops killed and wounded. At least five armored vehicles have been destroyed, one of which was an Abrams tank."]
'I never want to hear that sound again': Five British soldiers have died under 'friendly fire'.
Audrey Gillan with the Household Cavalry in Iraq, The Guardian, March 31, 2003
Yesterday as General Richard Myers apologised for the three deaths caused by the US, saying it would be his 'quest' to ensure it did not happen again, the first full account emerged of the tragic incident in which a A-10 tankbuster fired on two British armoured vehicles
They will never forget the sound of the guns. A cross between a moan and a roar, a fierce rattling of heavy rounds of 30mm canon fire from two A10 Thunderbolts flying low overhead. Aircraft that shouldn't have been in the British-controlled area, "cowboying" at just 500ft and looking for something to have a crack at.
Last Friday morning, two American pilots turned their guns on a convoy of five British vehicles from the Household Cavalry, killing one man just three days shy of his 26th birthday, injuring four others and wiping out two armoured reconnaissance vehicles from the squadron's Two Troop. Two Iraqi civilians, waving a large white flag, were also killed.
...Then the full horror dawned. One of the vehicles had been hit, no two, and by "friendly call signs".
They stood still, stopping what they were doing. At first they thought it was one lad, then another. Whoever it was, it didn't ease the twist of knots that started knitting themselves in their stomachs. Later, they learned it was Matty Hull, who aside from being a gunner was also a military instructor who was being considered for a posting to Sandhurst to train officers.
Amidst the grief, their anger could not be contained. All of D Squadron's vehicles are clearly marked, with fluorescent panels on the roofs, flags and other markings. It was something that the soldiers kept saying, over and over. "We spend all this money marking out our vehicles so this doesn't happen," one said. "If it was the heat of battle, shit happens. But it was clear daylight."
Another said: "As far as I am concerned, those two pilots should be done for manslaughter. There's no way on the planet that they couldn't see two vehicles, that they couldn't see the dayglo panel on the top." [...]
Saturday, March 29
"My Empire for a Map!"
Circumventing the Globe
Ben Tripp, Counterpunch, March 29, 2003
It has come to my attention that some Americans are concerned Iraq might bodily invade the United States unless all of Iraq’s women and children are killed. ... Americans don’t know their geography. I am not an expert on the subject, although able to locate most of the continents as long they’re clearly marked, but I may be able to help allay some of the fears which grip this nation as its armed forces hack their way through distant lands. [...]
The Middle East is where the present troubles are centered, if we don’t consider the imminent nuclear attack by North Korea trouble, which apparently we don’t. The Middle East is below Russia, to the left of China, and above Africa. Got that? Maybe you should do a little sketch.
Iraq is a Middle Eastern country. It is located pretty much in the middle of the Middle East, which is easy to remember; ... The country between Iraq and Afghanistan is Iran, and boy are they sweating it right about now. Saudi Arabia, which is where the terrorists actually came from, is directly south of Iraq.
This part of the world, just to put it in perspective, is about halfway around the sphere or globe from America, latitudinally speaking (ask your mother) although if you want to be completely safe you will move to the island of Rapa in the South Pacific, which is on the opposite side of the world from Iraq.
The chances of Iraq invading our shores is extremely slim, partially because there are a dozen nations, an ocean, and 6,000 miles between Baghdad and Hackensack, NY; and partially because all the Iraqis will soon be either dead or too hungry to travel more than a few hundred feet before they swoon.
...Unfortunately for Americans, most people in Africa are black, have AIDS, or both. On top of that there are elephants and things wandering around there, and deserts, and a country called ‘Niger’, which sounds kind of rude. So we’ll forget all about Africa for the time being- just like the American government. This is geography for white people. Most black people already know where Africa is.
... Right after China is a peninsula of land in what I am very embarrassed to report is called the Yellow Sea, although it is in fact a similar shade to the Red Sea. This peninsula contains North and South Korea. North Korea is to the North, and it has missiles with which it can ostensibly reach North America via a secret route called the North Pole, or in other words while we’re facing East they sneak up on us from the Northwest, probably disguised as Santa Claus.
After Korea you’re in Japan, and then there’s bugger all for 5,500 miles except water. This water is called the Pacific Ocean because it is in the Pacific.
So there we are, all the way around the globe with our finger a little battered by the trip but otherwise intact, having made three fascinating discoveries:
1. We are very, very far away from all the naughty countries we fear,
2. The Kurds are once again screwed, and
3. We still don’t know where Australia is.
Genre: Men Vs. Women Jokes
1) Pull up to machine
2) Wind window down
3) Insert ATM card, enter PIN
4) Retrieve cash
5) Drive away
1) Pull up to machine
2) Open door (too far away from machine)
3) Search through all of the 112 compartments in handbag for ATM card
4) Do make up, apply lipstick, fix hair
5) Insert Card
6) Remove card
7) Insert card the correct way up
8) Search for piece of paper with PIN on it
9) Enter PIN
10) Enter correct PIN
11) Retrieve cash, put in bag
12) Drive off
13) Reverse back to machine
14) Retrieve card
15) Drive three miles away
16) Release hand-brake
Madonna video ends with image of President Bush with grenade in his lap
Drudge Report, March 29, 2003
A final shock scene in the video of AOLTIMEWARNER recording artist Madonna's upcoming release -- is that of the singer throwing a grenade in the lap of President Bush
"It is not me being anti-Bush, it's me being ironic and tongue in cheek," Madonna explains to NBC's Access Hollywood this weekend.
"My kind of wish for peace and my desire to sort of turn a weapon of destruction, which is a grenade, into something that is completely innocuous."
Madonna uses a Bush look-alike in the final scene of AMERICAN LIFE. The "president" picks up the lit grenade that Madonna throws -- and lights his cigar with it!
The image is "my wish to find an alternative to violence to war and destruction," the singer says.
The shock film for AMERICAN LIFE comes as Madonna returns to the musical spotlight with a CD of original songs, set for an April release.
"AMERICAN LIFE is about freedom of speech," claims an insider. "It examines not only war, greed and ego, but it's self-reflective also. Madonna rejects her 'Material Girl' image once and for all, and warns of life in a material world."
Horror Chamber: Inside the Al-Amiriya Shelter
Ramzy Baroud, Counterpunch, March 29, 2003
Living most of my life in a refugee camp in Gaza, where the murder of innocent people at the hands of Israeli troops is routine, I was little hesitant to walk into al-Amiriya. I was not braced for what I would witness. I already knew that hundreds of people had wasted there, during the Gulf War, in 1991, when an American 'smart' bomb shattered the giant compound. But that's all I knew. [...]
When the American bomb fell, the shelter's doors shut down, automatically. The doors were designed to do so, since the attack was never expected to target the shelter itself, but nearby areas.
Those who didn't immediately die as a result of the massive explosion pounded at the door and screamed for help.
American officials at the time assured us that that the place was used for military purposes; as they always do, when innocent people are "mistakenly" killed.
The powerful explosion penetrated to the bottom floor where giant water tanks were stored. On that floor, families cooked and washed. Some of these tanks boiled with water. Seconds later, the tanks exploded and the boiling water rose to over three feet.
You could still see the mark of where the water rose, as well as the impression of the human flesh that melted to the wall due to the intense heat of the water.
"These are the marks of a woman's skin still holding her child," an Iraqi woman, who lost her entire family in al-Amiriya said. [...]
Over a week ago, the United States and its British allies began yet another war against Iraq, killing and maiming hundreds thus far, with the aim of "liberating Iraq", and "freeing the Iraqi people."
It's appalling how such twisted logic can hold for such a long time.
An MSNBC commentator explained the reason why the first day of bombings in Iraq, was so concentrated and not widespread. "We have to keep in mind that in a few days, we will own this country," he said.
We need not examine such statements however, nor the provocative comments made by top US army officials, nor the desecration of an Iraqi flag and the offensive replacement of an American one, after the Umm al-Qasr battle. If this eagerness to invade Iraq was for the sake of the Iraqi people, why have we tortured and starved an entire generation of them for so long?
We can disagree on the reasons behind the war; whether it was for strategic control, the oil or Israel. But rational people should have no illusions, that saving the Iraqi people is not one of the reasons we are investing over $100 billion to finance this indefensible war. If you wish to have further proof, pay a visit to al-Amiriya shelter. Despite everything, it is still standing.
"Not Going According to Plan"
US Insiders Gloomy: War "Not Going According to Plan;" Allah 1, Jahweh, 0; Rumseld Visits Geneva: Is He an Iraqi Asset?; British Revert to Barbarism (As Usual); Will Bush Open National Hot Air Reserve?; US Navy Dolphin AWOL
Alexander Cockburn, Counterpunch Diary, March 29-30, CounterPunch War Diary
The situation of the US/UK invading force can be assessed as difficult. The US 3rd Infantry Division, the Marines, Division, the 101st Airborne continue to be plagued by stretched supply lines which yesterday saw one Marine unit entirely immobilized by lack of diesel fuel and the food down to one “meal” a day, with the MREs being decried by the soldiers as not fit for human consumption. Disorganization is rife. The 3rd Infantry Division marches up one side of the Euphrates, while their baggage and supplies proceed up the other, which renders bridges more “strategic” than ever. The helicopter assaults on the Iraqi Medina division left, on one account, seven still serviceable. Two helicopters were lost in the attack and twenty-six were damaged.[...]
Another Rumsfeld propaganda coup: The retired general named as civilian governor of occupied Iraq has visited Israel on a trip paid for by a right-wing group that strongly backs an American military presence in the Middle East. ... Lieutenant-General Jay Garner, the co-coordinator for civilian administration in Iraq, put his name in October 2000 to a statement blaming Palestinians for the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence and saying that a strong Israel was an important security asset to the United States. This piece of information circulated the Middle East with as much rapidity as the resignation of Richard Perle from his chairmanship of the Defense Board and the supposed trip of Vice-President Cheney’s daughter to become a human shield.
Chickens in a Darkening Sky
So the sky is dark with chickens coming home to roost, and bedtime reading is Thucydides' account of the disastrous Athenian siege of Syracuse. Start with the amazed discovery of the White House, the Defense Department and the permanently embedded US press corps that nations don't care to be invaded, even if they have been misgoverned by a tyrant for decades. [...]
Tracking Saddam Hussein
Steve Kroft, CBS News, March 24, 2003
New York: No matter how the war with Iraq unfolds in the days to come, it will be difficult for the United States to declare a complete victory until Saddam Hussein is either captured or killed. Given recent experience in Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, that is not a foregone conclusion. 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft reports.
Last Wednesday, the U.S. command thought it had Saddam Hussein in its crosshairs and tried to kill him with a massive air strike in the opening salvo of the war.
But by Saturday, Commanding General Tommy Franks had to acknowledge that -dead or alive - the United States had lost track of him again.
In response to a reporter’s question, General Franks replied bluntly, "Actually, I have no idea where he is right now."
Saddam has managed to elude the United States for the better part of a dozen years, and has survived attempted coups and assassination plots, and several wars. He has a network of tunnels and underground bunkers, a massive security apparatus, a cadre of look-alikes and a capital of five million people to hide in. [...]
Why is it so difficult?
"You have to have agents who are supporting you, working for you, in order to gain access to information in terms of where individuals are going to be," Cohen says. "It's very hard to take out an individual with a cruise missile."
With U.S. intelligence on Iraq coming from electronic eavesdropping and satellite photography, Saddam decided to go underground, building elaborate bunker and tunnel complexes. A German firm designed and later built a 20,000-square-foot bunker under one of Saddam’s palaces, at a cost of $90 million. It has luxurious bedrooms for Saddam, his family, and dozens of bodyguards and staff. It’s stocked with enough food and water to last a year. Giant shock absorbers and redundant air filtration systems are designed to withstand multiple bomb blasts and missile strikes.
Michael Vickers, a consultant to the Pentagon who spent 10 years in the Army’s special forces and later became a C.I.A. operative, says there are "some very, very hardened, deep underground facilities that have 20 or more feet, maybe 100 feet in some cases, of dirt, and then 6 to 20 feet of reinforced concrete, and then prefabricated steel."
In some cases, Vickers says, the bunkers are 300 feet or so deep, and "almost impervious to anything but nuclear attack."
Worse, some of these bunkers may be connected by tunnels, allowing Saddam to move from underground facility to underground facility.
"One of the things that makes these underground structures difficult-is the labyrinth network of them," Vickers says. They have blast doors in between, too, so "even if you penetrate down into one compartment, say, and destroy that, then the steel doors may contain the effects of a blast. If you're on the other side you're a quarter mile away, you're perfectly safe." [...]
... Eventually, we’ll see the endgame. Woolsey suggests that Saddam probably would like “to disappear, or go out in some way in which people didn't know what happened to him, and he could try to believe that a myth would be kept alive. He has a very heroic self-image.”
But Marashi notes that Saddam “is obsessed with his legacy. He wants to go down in the history books as, you know, this great Babylonian leader.” That points to a preference, he says, for “going down fighting” rather than accepting the humiliation of surrender.
How to take out Saddam's Bunker
argee.net/defense watch, December 29, 2002
During the 1991 Gulf War, I saw a report describing Saddam Hussein's personal bunker. The report was replete with diagrams and listed the German firm that designed and built the structure. An exhaustive search of the Internet and World Wide Web has produced no confirmation of this information.
Nevertheless, the information is clear in my memory, especially since I grew up in Germany and was particularly interested that a German firm designed and built the bunker.
The design is similar to how a modern submarine is constructed. The bunker consists of an outer and inner structure, where the inner structure is completely isolated from the outer one. In the case of submarines, of course, the isolation is for sound, to eliminate the transmission of sound from inside the sub to the surrounding water. Saddam's bunker is designed to prevent external shock - like from a nuclear blast - from reaching the inner sanctum.
The outer structure of the bunker is a vertically oriented egg-shaped shell of 20 to 30 yards of reinforced concrete - this is yards, not feet. This shell is buried deep underground. The inner structure is suspended inside the concrete shell by massive springs, not unlike giant trampoline springs.
Physical communication with the outside is through several tunnels suspended between the structures. These tunnels are designed to sever in response to severe external shock, rather than transmit the shock to the inner structure.[...]
The internal structure is about five stories high, and it is provisioned to support approximately 100 people for a very long time. It contains a water holding tank and water recycling equipment so that there is no need to replenish water from the outside. The water system is said to be self-sustaining for more than ten years with no addition of water. My own calculations indicate that this probably can only be accomplished with severe water rationing, since evaporation and subsequent loss to the outside cannot be prevented. Food provisioning is freeze-dried of American manufacture. There is sufficient for at least a year for the full compliment of 100.
The structure is stocked with a large library of CDs, DVDs, and other compact entertainment materials. Hardwire electronic links are redundant many times over. It is possible that the personnel inside the bunker can remain in contact with their outside supporters indefinitely. [...]
Friday, March 28
Friday, 28 March : Reporters' Log: War in Iraq
The Pentagon :: Nick Childs :: 1921GMT
We heard a public warning, if you like, from Donald Rumsfeld to two of Iraq's neighbours - Syria and Iran.
He said there had been information of shipments of equipment, including night-vision goggles, crossing the Syrian border into Iraq.
In terms of Iran, he said there were reports that evidence of several hundred Iraqi dissidents with loyalty to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard having a presence in Iraq.
In the latter case they considered that an unhelpful act. And in the case of the shipments was a hostile act.
Biara, northern Iraq :: Jim Muir :: 1701GMT
Thousands of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters supported by US special forces have overrun the main strongholds in the mountains of north-east Iraq of the Ansar al-Islam.
Ansar al-Islam is an extremist Muslim group accused by both the Americans and the Kurds of having links with terrorism and al-Qaeda.
After an operation which began at dawn, Peshmerga forces said they had captured all the main centres held by the Ansar, who had controlled a string of around forty villages and small towns in the mountain area.
Amman, Jordan :: Lyse Doucet :: 1159GMT
Today in Jordan they're expecting demonstrations in every single town and city, even in towns that have never seen protest before. It's not surprising given the newspapers people wake up to here.
The newspapers across the Arab world tend to display the views of the Iraqis, rather than the promises coalition forces.
One front page summarises Arab opinion. On one side it shows a picture of Palestinians suffering because of an Israeli action - a bulldozer - on their homes, and on the other side, another picture of an Iraqi suffering because of attack by American plane on his home.
Sir Galahad :: Owen Bennett Jones :: 1109GMT
The port of Umm Qasr is being de-mined by dolphins attached to cameras. Apparently they go down and see something suspicious, then come back and tell their handler there's something suspicious. He then gives them an explosive charge, they take it down, put it next to the suspicious object, come back, it blows up, and then they go down and look at it again!
It sounds implausible, but the Australians are using them, and everyone around here - including a very senior American commander - says it works. I hope to see it for myself when the Sir Galahad gets to
All in the Neocon Family
Jim Lobe, AlterNet, March 26, 2003
What do William Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Elliot Abrams, and Robert Kagan have in common? Yes, they are all die-hard hawks who have gained control of U.S. foreign policy since the 9/11 attacks. But they are also part of one big neoconservative family -- an extended clan of spouses, children, and friends who have known each other for generations. [...]
This list of intricate, overlapping connections is hardly exhaustive or perhaps even surprising. But it helps reveal an important fact. Contrary to appearances, the neocons do not constitute a powerful mass political movement. They are instead a small, tighly-knit clan whose incestuous familial and personal connections, both within and outside the Bush administration, have allowed them grab control of the future of American foreign policy.
Robert Novak, CNN, March 26, 2003
"There were some who were supportive of going to war with Iraq who described it as a cakewalk," Tim Russert told Donald Rumsfeld on NBC's "Meet the Press" last Sunday.
The secretary of Defense seemed surprised. "I never did," he replied. "No one I know in the Pentagon ever did." While Rumsfeld spoke the literal truth, his response was still disingenuous.
Rumsfeld had been asked about the cakewalk description several times, rejecting it but still defending the premises for such a judgment.
While its source was not technically a Pentagon official, it was a longtime Rumsfeld friend and lieutenant: Kenneth Adelman, appointed by the secretary to the Defense Policy Board (an outside advisory panel). In demanding military action against Saddam Hussein, Adelman has promised repeatedly there would be no military difficulty.[...]
THE PROPHETS OF WAR
Remembering what we were told to expect
The War in Context, March 2003
Vice President Dick Cheney:
"I think it will go relatively quickly...Weeks rather than months."
"Face the Nation," CBS, March 16, 2003
THE PROPHETS OF WAR
Remembering what we were told to expect
The War In Context, March 26, 2003
Ken Adelman, Pentagon Defense Policy Board member, former assistant to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from 1975 to 1977 and deputy U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and arms-control director under President Reagan:
"I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps."
Washington Post, February 13, 2002
"[When the United States 'liberates' Iraq] we will have plenty of allies. Foremost will be the Iraqi people cheering from their rooftops just as they did at the onset of the Gulf War in 1991. And there will be dancing in Baghdad streets just as the liberated Afghans did in Kabul a few months ago."
USA Today, September 4, 2002
Good morrrrrning, Iraq....
Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch, March 27, 2003
In fact, it's taken less than a week for American reporters to begin to doubt Pentagon briefers (foreign reporters began in that mode) – a passage that took years in Vietnam – and for the briefers to begin to look like participants in the long ago Saigon press briefings that included the infamous "body counts," mockingly nicknamed by reporters "the Five O'clock Follies." In other words, a week into the war the first cracks in what may become a media "credibility gap" are already showing.
As it turns out, Pentagon policies for controlling the media were quite brilliant, but also dependent on the delivery of the promised war – a brief "cakewalk" of liberation. [...]
Both CBS and ABC last night showed the first lingering shots I've seen of wounded Iraqi children from that Baghdad market, already commonplace shots on global TV sets but not here. Another mainstream first, one week in: shots of "the other side" as fighters, of a Fedayeen jeep with a machine gun mounted on it and of Fedayeen in a trench, guns aimed as if in preparation for an ambush, all taken from Iraqi TV.
Perhaps even more fascinating, one week into the war, most of the late arguments and charges of the Vietnam era have reemerged and the official recriminations are already beginning. [...]
Thousands flee Basra in search of food and water
David Fox and Paul Harris, The Independent, March 28, 2003
Thousands of tired and thirsty civilians trudged out of the besieged southern Iraqi city of Basra yesterday in a desperate search for food and water.
Families drove ramshackle vehicles or walked in single file down a rail track past British Army checkpoints on the western side of the city.
"It's been 'pow, pow, pow' all the time," said Maklim Mohammed as he crossed a main bridge leading south from the city, which stands at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates. "I can't stand it. I'm nervous and I'm thirsty."
Basra's 1.5 million inhabitants have endured days without water. Red Cross engineers have managed amid the battles around the city partly to restore a water treatment centre that had been down since last Friday when cables carrying electricity to the plant were cut by Allied bombardment. But most homes still have no access to potable water. People have resorted to collecting water from rivers around the city, which are polluted with sewage, prompting warnings from the UN of a potential cholera epidemic. Children are at risk from diarrhoea, which is already a big killer of Iraqi children under five.
Most of those leaving yesterday were on foot without their belongings, apparently seeking shelter with friends or relatives at Zubayr, 12 miles to the south. Most were men who said they would try to return to Basra if they could find supplies.
"We are very thirsty. Our families are very thirsty," one of those leaving said. "Where can we find water? The British told us to go down the road [south]."
In Zubayr the position was only marginally better. British and American troops handed out bottled water to an agitated crowd who begged them for more. Many said they had not had water for almost 10 days.[...]
Hussein hopes to draw U.S. into urban combat
Sebastian Rotella, Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2003
Saddam Hussein hopes to turn the battle for Baghdad into a Mesopotamian version of Stalingrad.
The Iraqi president is an admirer of Josef Stalin. He has modeled his ruthless rule and cult of personality on the Soviet leader. As the U.S.-led invasion force stretches its supply lines to reach Baghdad, military analysts and Iraq experts say Hussein's most loyal, best-equipped troops are digging in to try to inflict the kind of carnage that stopped Adolf Hitler at the Volga River in 1943.
A first and crucial test is likely to come near the cities of Karbala and Al Kut along a so-called "red line" that forms a ring south of Baghdad, where U.S. troops are massing now. If Hussein can avoid a military collapse there that would drag down his entire regime, analysts expect him to regroup his forces for street-to-street combat in the capital.
And then, he appears to be counting on the modern weapons of media and world politics for his survival.
The Iraqi regime has spent years preparing for this showdown. Its strategists have researched U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia. Experts say videotapes of the movie "Black Hawk Down," which recounts the frenzied combat in Mogadishu in 1993, circulated among military men in Baghdad in recent months.
"People say to me you are not the Vietnamese, you have no jungles and swamps to hide in," said Tarik Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime minister, in an interview published recently by the International Institute for Strategic Studies here. "I reply, 'Let our cities be our swamps and our buildings be our jungles.' "
In tactics, technology and firepower, the force closing in on Baghdad is far superior to the U.S. military that fought in Vietnam, or the German army that slowly froze, starved and ran out of ammunition in the snow and rubble of Stalingrad. But Hussein's strategy relies as much on psychology as it does on armament. [...]
'We will turn Bush into a dog'
The Americans badly miscalculated by believing that the Iraqis would welcome them as liberators
Christopher Dickey, Newsweek, March 27, 2003
Dogs do not live happy lives in Iraq. Considered "unclean" by Muslims and rarely kept as pets, most of those that you see are feral curs slinking through the streets late at night.
It's normal practice for Iraqi soldiers to cull the packs with machine guns. But the commandos of Saddam's fedayeen, terrorist-shock troops organized in the mid-1990s, sometimes tear a dog limb from limb and sink their teeth in its flesh. Repulsive brutality, after all, is a badge of honor for these troops; this particular rite of passage was even captured on a government video.
"The fedayeen are animals!" says a young Iraqi woman who fled her country for Jordan a few months ago. "They are trained to be like animals! Everybody is frightened of them."
And even though there are only an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 of these militia, inside Iraq it feels as if the fedayeen -- meaning "those who sacrifice" -- are everywhere.
These days, Iraqis say, they are forcing others to put their lives on the line in the face of the American invasion. "Saddam has succeeded in establishing a strong structure that is loyal to him," says Issam Chalabi, a former Iraqi oil minister now in exile. "These fedayeen are not only fighting the Americans, they are mainly against those who want to surrender or refuse to fight."
And yet, neither the frightened young woman, nor Chalabi (who is no relation to a would-be exile leader with the same last name), nor any of the other Iraqis or Arabs I've talked to since the fighting began last week, believes that the Iraqis' resistance to the United States is solely a matter of intimidation and fear. That plays a part; the role of the fedayeen is important. But the resistance to the United States "is a matter of Iraqi patriotism," says Chalabi. "No one will accept the Americans' presence there. And if you say anything about me, say this: I am against the war. I am against the occupation."
American administration officials and sympathetic pundits fundamentally miscalculated by believing that, as some exiles told them, because the Iraqi people hate Saddam, they would love their American "liberators." "That's where you went wrong," a Lebanese friend tells me, summing up sentiments I've heard all over the Arab world, "The Iraqis do hate Saddam -- but they do not love you." [...]
Whoever Wins the War, The US has Lost the Peace
by Adrian Hamilton, The Independent, March 28, 2003
...In the Allies' Central Command HQ in Doha, they produce images to show the precision of Western bombing and the rapidity of the US push on Iraq. Walk down the road and the studios of al-Jazeera are pumping out images of a Third World country trying vainly to fight back against a hyperpower of infinite technological superiority. There is no doubt which version most of the world believes. Even in India, where anti-Muslim feelings lie close to the surface, you don't meet a single person who thinks this is anything other than an American enterprise fought for selfish reasons. "Why," they ask you in genuinely concerned terms, "is Blair going along with it?"
It's difficult to know what would shift this view. An early victory would only confirm the image of humiliating Western technological superiority. Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons might raise a counter-reaction, although even here many in the Third World would regard this as understandable given the technical disparity. But an outpouring of Iraqi delight at being freed from Saddam won't change opinion, as it would be taken as a byproduct of American actions, not its main intention.
Donald Rumsfeld's suggestion that victory will bring a thousand friends misses the point. [...]This war is being fought by the Americans and British, with a few thousand Australians and a couple of special forces companies from Poland – an entirely Western enterprise.
Other countries have acceded to American requests for facilities, but if they have wanted to keep their help discreet, it is for good reason. Public opinion is clear and unambiguous and the war is only making the streets angrier at their governments' sell-out. It is not for nothing that the ruler of Qatar acts as host to the Allied headquarters and al-Jazeera at the same time, or that Turkey finally failed to give the US more than rights of overflight. Democracy in the Middle East should not be understood to presuppose pro-Americanism. Just the opposite.
If that is what Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney believe then they are fooling themselves, never mind anyone else. [...]
Raw, Devastating Realities That Expose the Truth About Basra
by Robert Fisk, The Independent, March 28, 2003
Two British soldiers lie dead on a Basra roadway, a small Iraqi girl – victim of an Anglo American air strike – is brought to hospital with her intestines spilling out of her stomach, a terribly wounded woman screams in agony as doctors try to take off her black dress.
An Iraqi general, surrounded by hundreds of his armed troops, stands in central Basra and announces that Iraq's second city remains firmly in Iraqi hands. The unedited al-Jazeera videotape – filmed over the past 36 hours and newly arrived in Baghdad – is raw, painful, devastating.
It is also proof that Basra – reportedly "captured'' and "secured'' by British troops last week – is indeed under the control of Saddam Hussein's forces. Despite claims by British officers that some form of uprising has broken out in Basra, cars and buses continue to move through the streets while Iraqis queue patiently for gas bottles as they are unloaded from a government truck.
A remarkable part of the tape shows fireballs blooming over western Basra and the explosion of incoming – and presumably British – shells. The short sequence of the dead British soldiers – over which Tony Blair voiced such horror yesterday – is little different from dozens of similar clips of dead Iraqi soldiers shown on British television over the past 12 years, pictures which never drew any condemnation from the Prime Minister.
The two Britons, still in uniform, are lying on a roadway, arms and legs apart, one of them apparently hit in the head, the other shot in the chest and abdomen.
Another sequence from the same tape shows crowds of Basra civilians and armed men in civilian clothes, kicking the soldiers' British Army Jeep and dancing on top of the vehicle. Other men can be seen kicking the overturned Ministry of Defense trailer, which the Jeep was towing when it was presumably ambushed.
Anger as at Least 55 Killed in Baghdad Market
by Hassan Hafidh, Reuters, March 28, 2003
BAGHDAD - Distraught Iraqis crowded into a hospital in a northern suburb of Baghdad on Friday, comforting or searching for scores of loved ones they say were killed or injured in an air raid on a busy market.
Dr Osama Sakhari, speaking at Baghdad's Al Noor Hospital after a day of heavy raids across the capital, said he had counted 55 people killed and more than 47 wounded from the market in the city's Shula neighborhood.
This Reuters correspondent personally counted five bodies in one of the hospital's morgue units, after an incident which could further undermine U.S. efforts to win Iraqi hearts and minds.
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf said at least 58 people had been killed.
"The number of the casualties...is 58 martyrs and I believe there will be more and the number of people injured is very big," he told the al-Hayat-LBC Arabic television channel, denouncing the U.S.-led invasion force.
"My explanation for their increasing crimes against civilians is that they are feeling the weight of the series of defeats which we inflicted on them on the outskirts of the cities and in the desert."
Arabic language television stations al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya said rescuers were looking for more victims, and showed pictures of people carrying coffins out of the hospital.
Al-Jazeera's correspondent said: "An Iraqi official told us that the search is still going on for those trapped under the rubble." The television showed pictures of bodies, including those of two children.
Television pictures of bodies and damage in Iraq have fueled Arab anger against the U.S.-led invasion which Washington says is not aimed at ordinary Iraqis. [...]
Hack Attack Hits Al-Jazeera Site for Showing U.S. Dead
Bob Mims, The Salt Lake Tribune, March 28, 2003
The Iraqi war raged into cyberspace Thursday, and a Salt Lake City-based Internet service provider became the battleground as hackers pro- and anti-American launched digital salvos.
Because it showed the graphic, bloody images of American prisoners of war executed by Iraqi forces earlier this week, the English-language Web site of Arab satellite television network Al-Jazeera (english.aljazeera.net) has been intermittently taken down by hackers.
On Thursday morning, though, a shadowy hacker group calling itself the "Patriot Freedom Cyber Force Militia" claimed responsibility for actually hijacking the Al-Jazeera site and redirecting it to a patriotically themed Web page depicting a red, white and blue United States map with the message, "God Bless Our Troops."
That unauthorized page was nested into computers run by the Networld Connections Inc. from 8 a.m. Thursday until 10:30 a.m. when it was removed.
But merely taking the bogus Al-Jazeera creation offline did not prevent the 75,000-customer Utah ISP from bearing the wrath of anti-war hackers enraged by Al-Jazeera's cyber-abduction. [...]
Jihad Ali Ballout, a spokesman for Al-Jazeera, was apparently not impressed with the creativity involved. Instead, he blasted Thursday's diversions of the site as "a frontal, vicious attack on freedom of the press."
And how did hackers slip their detoured Al-Jazeera site onto Utah's Networld, even if only for 2 1/2 hours? Bowman said they took advantage of the ISP's free online Web site design template -- a service offered to member families.
Bowman admitted to mixed feelings over the intrusion. As the operator of the ISP, he was upset with his network's security being breached; as an American, he understands the rage over the gruesome pictures Al-Jazeera aired. [...]
Thursday, March 27
Drowning the war
The Guardian, March 26, 2003
One of the most popular sites on the web this week is a list of rules for an imaginary drinking game. Here is a selection
Have a drink when:
· Bush is called a crusader
x2 if it's by Saddam
· Saddam is called evil
x2 if it's by Bush
· Iraqi troops surrender to the media
x2 if to a unmanned vehicle or inanimate object
· Iraq uses weapons it claims not to have
· The United States uses weapons it won't allow Iraq to have
· Saddam uses a scud he doesn't have
· France goes pro US invasion
· Germany takes the side of the US in a global war
· Dominique de Villepin reminds you of that annoying rich kid in high school.
· Anybody "warns" anybody
· The word "escalation" is used
· Iraq and the US are shown seated next to each other in the United Nations
· The media compares the war to Blackhawk Down
· You change your opinion on the war
· The Saudis do something the US accuses Iraq of doing
· North Korea does something the United States accused Iraq of doing
· Al-Jazeera is referred to as the "Arab CNN"
Finish your drink if CNN is referred to as the "American al-Jazeera"
· The conflict is compared to the Vietnam war
x2 if the word "quagmire" is used
· Saddam goes missing
Finish your drink if he is confirmed killed
· The Pope is said to "pray for peace"
· Bush mispronounces the word "nuclear"
· If you can't find Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, or the United Arab Emirates on a map
x2 if you even own a map of the region
Finish your drink if you can pronounce them all correctly
· An American reminds the French of the second or first world wars
x2 if a Frenchman reminds the Americans of the Revolutionary war
· Someone reports from "the Arab street"
· Anyone in the Bush administration says "make no mistake"
· Tariq Aziz's glasses get larger
· Somebody says Saddam "tortures his own people"
· God picks a side
Finish your drink if its not yours
· A protest sign attacks Bush directly
x2 if it attacks Saddam directly
· Saddam is compared to Hitler
x2 if Bush is compared to Hitler
· Someone compares the size of Iraq to California or France
· The media refers to itself as "embedded"
· Someone says "shock and awe"
· The words "weapon(s) of mass destruction" are used
x2 if its shortened to "WMD"
· A US official uses the word "liberate"
· Bush says "innocent civilians"
· Bush quotes scripture
x2 if Saddam quotes the Koran
· Saddam shoots a gun into the air
· Bush directly addresses Iraqis
x2 if Saddam directly addresses Americans
· a Saddam body double is seen
· Someone refers to "coalition of the willing"
x2 if it is because a member is actually providing combat troops
· Media cameras on the Baghdad skyline focus on something that looks like an erect penis
· The media refuses to report something because of operational security
x2 if its immediately followed by a commentator telling what will happen next
· The military learns of something for the first time from the media
· Ari Fleischer [Whitehouse spokesman] lies
· Any coalition representative mentions securing oil fields
x2 if immediatly followed by "for the benefit of the Iraqi people"
· This game is mentioned in the news
x2 if the Bush twins are playing it
· This is an edited version printed with permission from www.gulfwardrinkinggame.com.
Stunning victories in Bush's War on the World
"And finally (for now), remember that Freeper boycott of French and German goods?The US has been trumped
Consumer fury seems to be on the rise. Demonstrators in Paris smashed the windows of a McDonald's restaurant last week, forcing police in riot gear to move in to protect staff and customers of the American fast-food outlet. The attackers sprayed obscenities and "boycott" on the windows.
In Indonesia, Iraq war opponents have pasted signs on McDonald's and other American food outlets, trying to force them shut by "sealing them" and urging Indonesians to avoid them.
In the Swiss city of Basel, 50 students recently staged a sit-down strike in front of a McDonald's to block customers' entry, waved peace signs and urged people to eat pretzels instead of hamburgers.
Anti-American sentiment has even reached provinces in Russia, where some rural eateries put up signs telling Americans they were unwelcome, according to an Izvestianewspaper report.
A German bicycle manufacturer, Riese und Mueller GmbH, canceled all business deals with its American suppliers.
"Americans only pay attention when money is on the line," director Heiko Mueller told Reuters, whose firm buys $300,000 worth of supplies from half a dozen American firms each year.
Bush's War on the World, much as his War on the Economy, is going stunningly well. Not even a partisan like me can deny that."
---found this posted on March 26, 2003, on DailyKos.com
Black Americans sceptical about war
Kevin Anderson, BBC News Online, March 27, 2003
Atlanta: ... There is a divide between black and white Americans on the war in Iraq.
A New York Times poll found that 82% of whites said the US should take military action to force Saddam Hussein from power, but only 44% of blacks approved of the use of force.
And young black Americans are particularly sceptical.
"People are dying unnecessarily. We don't know what we are going to war for," said Iyante Miller as she waited to get into the club.
"First it's Bin Laden, then to Saddam Hussein. It's crazy," she said. She doubts the link between al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime.
"We're just going on what Bush is saying," she said, and that is not enough to convince her of the need for war.
She, like many black Americans, mistrusts President Bush. They still believe that he stole the election. [..]
Karbala and Najaf: Shia holy cities
BBC News Online, March 26, 2003
The holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, located deep in the Shia heartland of southern Iraq, have traditionally opposed the secularist Baathist rulers in Baghdad.
They are home to some of the most magnificent and sacred shrines of the Shia branch of Islam and are leading centres for scholars of Islamic theology.
The fabled shrines and colleges have long been under the rule of the Baath Party. Saddam Hussein, who claims descent from the Prophet, has put his own pictures on the shrines.
And many Shia clerics from the holy cities have been murdered by the ruling regime. [...]
Where do Iraqis get their news?
By Kathryn Westcott, BBC News Online, March 27, 2003
Iraqi state television and radio has been struggling to broadcast over the past few days, following US bombing raids on Baghdad. And in Basra, the country's second city, British forces have taken state media off the air completely after destroying transmitters in the early hours of Thursday.
So, how does this leave Iraqis in terms of their access to coverage of the war? [...]
Arab media go to war
Paul Harper, BBC News, March 27, 2003
Alongside the military campaign in Iraq, a battle is being waged in the Arab media to be the first to bring the most dramatic pictures to people's television screens.
It is the first time war in the Middle East has been fought live on Arab television, and the impact could be far-reaching.
Satellite television came of age in the last Gulf War, pioneered by the American news channel, CNN.
That was the station people worldwide tuned to, to see the very latest pictures, or even to watch events live.
Since then, Arab governments and companies have invested heavily in technology that allows them to broadcast news as it happens to anyone with a satellite dish.
The best known of these new Arab TV stations is al-Jazeera, which has transformed its host country, Qatar, from a tiny Gulf state largely unknown outside the region, into a major force in Arab and international politics. [al-Jazeera is the only non-Iraqi broadcaster in Basra ]
War produces an almost insatiable demand for the latest images and information.
And it was 11 September 2001 and the ensuing war in Afghanistan that made al-Jazeera essential viewing in the Middle East, just as CNN had been in the Gulf War a decade earlier.
Just as CNN had been the only source of live pictures of bombs falling on Baghdad in 1991, al-Jazeera became the only source of live pictures of the American assault on Kabul and the latest videotaped messages from Osama bin Laden.
CNN was quickly challenged by other international broadcasters, including the BBC, and al-Jazeera is now fighting for viewers with other Arab TV stations that are only too aware of the importance of this new instantaneous medium-- in the battle for hearts and minds.
Some of the most dramatic pictures in the current conflict, such as the aerial bombardment of Baghdad, have been relayed by government-run Abu Dhabi Television, based in the United Arab Emirates.
A few weeks ago, a new contender joined the fray in the shape of al-Arabiyya, a slick-looking satellite news service backed by Saudi money and based in Dubai. Arab news junkies - who in these days of crisis in the Middle East include just about anyone with access to a satellite dish - are likely to be channel-hopping between al-Jazeera, Abu Dhabi and al-Arabiyya.
One other button on the remote control in danger of being worn down is al-Manar - the impressively well-produced news station of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement. [...]Arab viewers are grateful they are no longer dependent on the Americans to watch events as they're unfolding.
But the governments are probably apprehensive that graphic, instantaneous images of the fighting are becoming a big factor in fuelling popular anger about a war that is almost universally opposed in the Arab world.
Al-Qaeda fighting with Iraqis, British claim
smh.com.au, March 28 2003
Near Basra, Iraq: British military interrogators claim captured Iraqi soldiers have told them that al-Qaeda terrorists are fighting on the side of Saddam Hussein's forces against allied troops near Basra.
At least a dozen members of Osama bin Laden's network are in the town of Az Zubayr where they are coordinating grenade and gun attacks on coalition positions, according to the Iraqi prisoners of war. [...]
Charity calls off event with Sarandon
The United Way says her anti-war views made her speaking engagement ''divisive'' and brought complaints.
Leonora LaPeter, St. Petersburg Times, March 27, 2003
The United Way of Tampa Bay canceled an upcoming event featuring Susan Sarandon after getting three dozen complaints from donors and others about the actor's opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Sarandon, the 56-year-old Academy Award winner, was to be the keynote speaker at the April 11 daylong event sponsored by the United Way's women's leadership group and designed to inspire volunteerism in the community. Her brother, Terry Tomalin, outdoors writer at the St. Petersburg Times, asked her to participate in the event six months ago. [...]
Top Rumsfeld adviser resigns over ethics
By Pamela Hess, UPI Pentagon Correspondent, March 27, 2003
WASHINGTON, March 27 (UPI) -- A top adviser to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and one of the intellectual architects of the war with Iraq resigned his post Thursday amid an ethics controversy.
Richard Perle resigned his chairmanship of the Defense Policy Board but is remaining a member of the board, according to the Pentagon.
"With our nation at war and American troops risking their lives to protect our freedom and liberate Iraq, I am dismayed that your valuable time, and that of others in the Department of Defense and the administration might be burdened by the controversy surrounding my chairmanship of the Defense Policy Board," Perle wrote in a letter Wednesday to Rumsfeld.
Perle, one of George W. Bush's foreign policy advisers during the 2000 presidential campaign, was hired last week by the bankrupt Global Crossing telecommunications company to help it restructure a deal to sell a majority holding in the company to Hutchison Telecommunications and government-run Singapore Technologies Telemedia. The United States government -- particularly the Defense Department and the FBI -- has national security concerns about the deal, according to The New York Times. It would put Global Crossing's fiber optics network -- which the military uses -- under Chinese ownership.
The newspaper wrote about the deal Friday, an article Perle disputed in a 10-point statement issued Thursday.
"I deeply resent the accusation that I am using a public position (the DPB) for private gain. Whatever help I was to Global had to do with 30 years of experience in these matters, and nothing to do with the DPB."
The Defense Policy Board provides top Pentagon leaders with "independent, informed advice and opinion concerning major matters of defense policy," according to its charter.
Perle said he was not paid for his influence and access to top Pentagon leaders but rather for his grasp of national security issues.
"It was clearly understood that I would not present their case to the government or lobby for them in any way and I have not done so. My role was limited to helping them understand the government's concerns and how to satisfy them. (This is complicated and much more difficult than one would imagine)," Perle wrote.Perle said in his resignation letter he would not accept any compensation for the consulting work he did for Global Crossing and that "any fee for past service would be donated to the families of American forces killed or injured in Iraq."
The New York Times reported that Perle is to be paid $725,000 by Global Crossing, including $600,000 if the government approves the sale of the company to the Hutchison joint venture. [...]
Rumsfeld accepted the resignation Thursday.
"I am grateful for his willingness to continue to serve on the board. I should add that I have known Richard Perle for many years and know him to be a man of integrity and honor," Rumsfeld said in a prepared statement.
As a member of the unpaid board, Perle would not be subject to the same ethics rules as the chairman. [...]
Bush Says War to Last However Long It Takes
By Randall Mikkelsen, Washington Post, March 27, 2003
CAMP DAVID, Md. (Reuters) - Faced with new fears the Iraq war could go on for months, President Bush said on Thursday the conflict will last "however long it takes to win" with the removal of Saddam Hussein as leader.
Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair concluded two days of talks at the president's Camp David retreat with an appeal to the United Nations to immediately resume the oil-for-food program in Iraq to address urgent humanitarian needs triggered by the week-old war.[...]
Reporters on the Job: SMUCKER OUT OF IRAQ
Christian Science Monitor, March 28, 2003 (edition)
Philip Smucker, a contract reporter for the Monitor and The Daily Telegraph of London, was escorted by the US Marines from the front lines of the war in Iraq Thursday. He is being taken to Kuwait, the Pentagon says, because of information Smucker reported in a broadcast appearance with CNN early Wednesday.
"My understanding of the facts at this point from the commander on the ground is that this reporter was reporting, in real time, positions, locations, and activities of units engaged in combat," says Bryan Whitman, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. "The commander felt it was necessary and appropriate to remove [Smucker] from his immediate battle space in order not to compromise his mission or endanger personnel of his unit."
Smucker's work in the Monitor is not at issue, but we have read the transcript of the CNN interview and it does not appear to us that he disclosed anything that wasn't already widely available in maps and in US and British radio, newspaper, and television reports in that same news cycle. Of course, the Pentagon has the final say in the field about any threat the information reported might pose.
We are disappointed Smucker has been removed. He is an experienced war correspondent who understands the gravity of such situations and not one who would knowingly put US troops - and himself - in jeopardy. Even during his short time in Iraq, he gave Monitor readers valuable insights into the campaign. Smucker has also covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, and Cambodia for a variety of publications, including The Daily Telegraph, US News and World Report, and The Washington Times.
Smucker was one of several hundred journalists in Iraq who are not officially "embedded" with US troops. But he and Monitor photographer Andy Nelson had crossed into Iraq from Kuwait as part of a US Marines convoy. [...]
Paul Van Slambrouck
Villepin refuses to say which side he supports
By Anton La Guardia, Diplomatic Editor, Telegraph.co.uk, March 28, 2003
France's attempt to repair relations with America and Britain over Iraq backfired yesterday when Dominique de Villepin, their foreign minister, refused to say which side he supported.
During a speech in London, M de Villepin said he hoped for "a swift conclusion with the minimum possible number of casualties".
But asked by The Telegraph whether he hoped American and British forces would win the military campaign to remove Saddam Hussein, he replied angrily: "I'm not going to answer. You have not been listening carefully to what I said before. You already have the answer."
M de Villepin had come to London to mend fences after the bitter disputes ... [...] ...But his apparent reluctance to choose sides will have done serious damage to his charm offensive. Senior British officials said they were "stunned".
Embarrassed French officials tried to salvage the situation by pointing out that, on French television on Monday, M de Villepin said: "Clearly, we hope the US will win this war quickly
US soldiers 'are using Jordan to enter Iraq'
By Justin Huggler in Maan, Jordan, The Independent. 28 March, 2003
This dusty, impoverished corner of Jordan is making the country's authorities nervous. For one thing, there is the protest against the war in Iraq that the people of Maan plan to hold today – a protest they call the "march of the coffins".
Then there is the military base at Jafr, 50 miles away in the desert, where locals say they have seen hundreds of US soldiers arrive in the last few months, plus trucks carrying tanks and armoured vehicles.
It encapsulates Jordan's dilemma – how to juggle the pressure from its ally, the United States, to help with the war in Iraq, with the fury of a population that is opposed to it.
Salfa abu Tayi – the grand-daughter of Auda abu Tayi, the Bedouin fighter of Lawrence of Arabia fame – says she has seen US soldiers at the base, and tanks covered with canvas. It is an open secret that small teams of US, and possibly British, special forces are operating in western Iraq out of Jordan.
Out at the Jafr military base, Blackhawk helicopters could be seen flying in – confirming one part of her story. It was not possible to confirm any more before Jordanian security arrived to say the road was closed.
The Jordanian government has admitted there are 6,000 US troops here, but says they are only here to protect Jordan from Iraqi missile attack and train Jordanian troops.[...]
Practice to Deceive
Chaos in the Middle East is not the Bush hawks' nightmare scenario--it's their plan.
By Joshua Micah Marshall, Washington Monthly, April 2003
Exploring the possibilities following an invasion of Iraq.
Uggabugga: "There has been an unexpectedly large number of visitors - especially to see the Invade-Iraq-possibilities diagram. " [September 2002]
The Perle Plan
Uggabugga Central, September 2002
Richard Perle was in a Starbucks yesterday and left in haste, accidentally leaving behind a computer disk. It contained PowerPoint slides used in a presentation for George Bush and other senior advisors. Most of the material is not new, but readers will be interested in seeing the long-term objective of the Bush administration, known by insiders as the Perle Plan.
Profile: Washington hawk Donald Rumsfeld
BBC News, March 3, 2003
... Mr Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, once described his boss as "a constant, active source of energy... he generates a mini-storm wherever he goes".
Henry Kissinger once said that Mr Rumsfeld was the most ruthless man he knew.
He added that he was a "skilled full-time politician-bureaucrat in whom ambition, ability and substance fuse seamlessly".
Like Dick Cheney, Mr Rumsfeld is in a top job for the second time round - he served as the country's youngest ever defence secretary from 1975-77 under President Gerald Ford.
He spent three years in the US navy before starting out his political career as an assistant to a congressman.
Twenty years and several jobs later, he was appointed defence secretary for the first time - nearly 25 years before he took the post under George W Bush.
Much of the time between was spent in big business, including stints as chief executive officer of pharmaceutical company GD Searle & Co, CEO of General Instrument Corporation and Chairman of Gilead Sciences.
But he also continued to advise Republican administrations and exercise his influence over issues of defence throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Ambition and ability
Correspondents say the 70-year-old former Princeton University wrestler is a tough and determined character.
Mr Rumsfeld wrote a pamphlet known as Rumsfeld's Rules - famous in US political circles - which collects nearly 30 years' worth of quotations and reflections by himself and others.
In a chapter titled "Keeping Your Bearings in the White House", one entry reads: "If you are not criticised, you are not doing your job".
Another, in a chapter headed "Serving in Government", states: "If in doubt, don't. If still in doubt, do what's right".
Wednesday, March 26
Antiwar Protester Draws Inspiration From Thoreau's Call for Civil Disobedience
Roy MacGregor, Globe & Mail/Canada, March 26, 2003
WALDEN POND, MASSACHUSETTS -- She still loves him.[...]
Here, in a tiny cabin that cost him $28.12 to build in 1845, Thoreau wrote his famous nature epic, Walden, and also an essay, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, that is, once again, ringing across America.
Alice Daly comes here often to walk, to read and to think about Thoreau and his inspiration for the antiwar movement. ...
I'm trying for civil disobedience," she laughs.
Thoreau's essay, originally delivered as a lecture in the nearby town of Concord, came out of his decision to go to jail rather than pay a tax to support the Mexican War. His argument in favor of passive resistance became inspiration for Gandhi as well as for Martin Luther King, Jr. For civil-rights activists and Vietnam War protesters, it was the one irrefutable argument against any price being put on personal conscience.
Now, in this early spring of the war in Iraq, it is once again in the air.
"He's truly a wonderful thinker," says Daly. "Especially for today.
"He'd be against the war; of course he would. He was against the Mexican War. He would think like I do."
For the record, Daly, a massage therapist in nearby Concord, thinks a great deal about what is happening in her country these days. She cannot, for example, bear the twisted logic that says, "We have to save the children; we have to go to war."
"How," she also asks, "can you bomb people into democracy?"[...]
What Democracy Looks Like: The Streets of CairoGary Leupp, Counterpunch, March 25, 2003
“Show me what democracy looks like!” begins a chant often heard at recent U.S. antiwar demonstrations. “This is what democracy looks like!” comes the reply. People in the streets, marching, fired up with righteous rage, determination to stop the imperialist juggernaut and faith in the possibility of a better world. This is what we are now seeing, too, in the Arab world.[...]
The corporate media has provided some minimal reportage on these demonstrations, which have occurred throughout the Arab world, from Rabat and Casablanca to Beirut and Amman. Rarely in citing the numbers do they note that in most parts of the Arab world such demonstrations are illegal and that those who participate are often putting their lives on the line; [...]
The biggest demonstrations (aside from those in Baghdad) have taken place in Sana’a, Damascus, Cairo, Khartoum, Casablanca, Rabat, Manama and Beirut. They’ve occurred in countries aligned with the U.S., such as Egypt and Morocco, and those dubbed “terror-sponsoring” by the U.S. (Syria, Sudan).
But the most significant, arguably, have taken place in Cairo. This metropolis of 17 million is the cultural capital of the Arab world, and the capital of Egypt, which dependent on $ 2 billion in U.S. aid every year, is a classic case-study of a client state.
What happens in Cairo may determine whether the Arab antiwar movement will deal serious blows to imperialism and its loyal (if often nervous) satraps ...[...]
Bearing Witness to a Monstrous Wrong
Why Protest? Why Write?
Bruce Jackson, Counterpunch, March 26, 2003
Most email I get is from readers suggesting links they think might be of interest or people submitting articles or ideas for articles. A few are from morons saying things like "If you don't like this country go back where you came from!" If I didn't think it might encourage them to correspond further, I would ask what, exactly, would be accomplished by my moving from Buffalo back to Brooklyn?
.... But then there was this March 22 email from a Buffalo resident who asked what I thought were two very good questions.
1. Everyone in this beautiful country has a voice and a choice. I don't agree with you most of the time but I respect your point of view. What are you attempting to accomplish with all of these anti-war protests? What is your goal?
2. Since you dislike so many of the "gutless" Common Council members, why don't you run for a seat?
Thank you very much.
Dear Mr. _________:
Two good questions.
The first I can only begin to answer; the second I can answer completely.
I can't speak for everyone else, but I hope to accomplish two things when I take part in an anti-war protest.
One is to indicate to people who might not have given the matter any or much thought that there are many of us who disagree with the policy and path our government has taken and seems likely to continue to take. With the Vietnam war, we who opposed it were at first a minority and in time we became the majority and Nixon left the war—with almost exactly the terms he'd been offered his first day in the White House. As a result of the great public opposition that developed to the Vietnam war, our government has been far more cautious about involving itself in long-term land wars between two parties in distant countries. So the protest had an educational effect.
Equally important is bearing witness, the simple fact of standing with others and saying, "We think this is wrong." Even if no one listens, it is important to name a wrong when you see it.
As for running for Common Council, I have no temperament for elective politics and I would be bad at it. When someone does something really stupid or immoral or unethical I have a difficult time standing by in silence, and a lot of politics seems to be doing exactly that.
I wouldn't attempt to repair the dents in my car either, but I see nothing wrong in saying that the shop that did it performed well or badly and I feel I'm qualified to say to other people "They do good work" or "They do shoddy work."
We all do what we can do. I'm a schoolteacher and a writer. So that's what I do.[...]
Desert Storms: A Battlefield from Hell
Bruce Jackson, Counterpunch, March 26, 2003
Winds in the Iraqi desert sandstorm have been blowing fifty miles and hour, bending date palms so their branches scrape the ground, reducing visibility to a few meters, rendering many weapons inoperable until the sand can be unpacked from barrels, chambers and sighting mechanisms
"It was biblical," a U.S. army colonel from Texas told a reporter. Were it not for digital cameras we'd have hardly any images at all because sand like this destroys film cameras. Rain fell yesterday, but it was mud falling from the sky, making everything worse rather than better. The temperature in the desert approached 100 degrees. If there is a battlefield from hell that is it.
And an ancient one. The invasion force in the Coalition of the Killing is driving its tanks across the motherland of Western culture.
This is the Tigris-Euphrates Valley you learned about in high school: the Cradle of Civilization.
It is the location of Sumer, home of the hero Gilgamesh who in the 23rd century before Christ (or so) went to the cedar forest with his companion Enkidu and killed the giant Humbaba, [...]
It is also the site of ancient Babylon, seat of the empire of the 18th century ruler Hammurabi, whose great code foreshadowed the code of Moses the Lawgiver half a millennium later. [..]
There is another text that was central to Hammurabi's world, less known but no less important. It is usually referred to as the "Enuma elish," which is simply the first two words: "When on high."
The Enuma Elish, it seems, was recited every year at the Babylonian New Year's festival. It is one of the world's great creation myths. It is also a story of how the gods gave power to mankind. [...]
...Time and the driven sand turned their palaces and empires to dust.
Sandstorms, windstorms—these are nothing new to the deserts of Iraq, and neither are death and destruction and raging empire and the rage for power.
Empires come and go,
conquerors come and are in turn themselves conquered,
they bring death and they in turn die or are killed.
The myth lives longer than they and the sand lives longer than either.
Report: Elite Iraqi Column Heads for U.S. Force
Reuters, March 26, 2003; 3:34 PM
KUWAIT (Reuters) - A huge column of elite Republican Guard units streamed out of Baghdad Wednesday evening heading toward U.S. forces massed near the southern Iraqi city of Najaf, CNN television reported.
"A major column including about 1,000 Iraqi mobile units that might include tanks, might include armored personnel carriers, trucks and other things are on their way down from Baghdad toward Najaf," CNN said, quoting one of its reporters who is traveling with the U.S. 7th Cavalry.[...]