|09/11/03||GI Special #129: Resistance Opens New Front|
From: “Thomas F. Barton” email@example.com
GI SPECIAL #129
REALLY BAD PLACE TO BE:
Resistance Opens New Front In North Iraq;
Two Soldiers Killed;
“What Do You Want The People To Do, Kiss Them?” Iraqi Asks
By SLOBODAN LEKIC, Associated Press Writer, 11.8.03
Two paratroopers died in a roadside ambush and the international Red Cross said it was closing two main offices due to deteriorating security.
Two soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division died when a homemade bomb exploded beside their vehicle in Fallujah, a center of resistance 40 miles west of Baghdad, the military said.
Their deaths brought to 34 the number of American soldiers who have died in Iraq this month. (!)
In Geneva, the international Red Cross said Saturday it was temporarily closing its offices in Baghdad and Basra because of the security situation. The Red Cross had planned to cut back on foreign staff of 30 people after the Oct. 27 truck-bombing at its Baghdad office but wanted to keep the offices open with reduced staff.
In Mosul, 250 miles north of Baghdad, witnesses said a vehicle carrying American soldiers was attacked with automatic weapons as it drove down a city street. The vehicle stalled and several wounded soldiers got out and fled on foot. Local people then set the vehicle ablaze.
“They (Americans) are occupying the world,” said Shazad Ahmed, a resident who saw the attack. “What do you want the people to do? Kiss them?”
The city, which was once considered to be relatively free of guerrilla activity, has seen dozens of attacks on U.S. forces in recent weeks, indicating that the rebellion has now spread out of its original stronghold in the so-called Sunni Triangle north and west of Baghdad.
IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP
(How Bush Lost The War In Iraq, Part 2:)
Arresting Muslim Preachers For Preaching Independence;
Sunnis March On Baghdad Occupation Headquarters
By Bassem Mroue, November 07, 2003, Associated Press
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Some 500 people rallied Friday in front of the Baghdad headquarters of coalition forces demanding the release of 36 Sunni clerics detained for preaching against the U.S.-led occupation.
The demonstrators held afternoon prayers in front of the complex – one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces – and later sent a delegation inside to press their demand for the release of the clerics.
Sheik Awad al-Haradan, one of the delegates, said the detained clerics were from Baghdad and the towns of Fallujah and Ramadi. Fallujah and Ramadi have witnessed attacks that have left dozens of U.S. soldiers dead since April.
An Army major asked the delegates to work to stop the attacks, said delegate Sheik Abdel-Sattar al-Janabi.
“They wanted us to give them guarantees that what they call violence ends,” al-Janabi said. “We told them that this will only end when the last American soldier leaves the country.”
The demonstration began in front of the central Buniye Mosque in downtown Baghdad and the protesters then marched toward the coalition headquarters to press for the release of the clerics.
“This is a demonstration against Americans, against occupation and against the imprisonment of Muslims,” said Tahsin Taha, 50, a former Iraqi soldier who was severely wounded in the left leg during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war. He marched with the help of a metal crutch.
“We demand the release of the sheiks,” he said, waving his crutch.
Another demonstrator, Samir Toufic, warned that future protests might not be peaceful.
“The minimum we ask the Americans to do is to leave the land of the Muslims,” said the former civil servant. “This demonstration is peaceful but if we have to fight jihad, we will.”
OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!
U.S. Commander Says Iraqi Resistance Can’t Be “Eliminated”
Gary Younge, Guardian (United Kingdom), 11/3/2003
Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, the US commander in Iraq, was quoted in the Washington Post yesterday describing the Iraqi resistance as a “determined enemy”.
“Are we going to be able to eliminate it all?” he asked. “Probably not.”
(So what’s the point of keeping the death march going?)
What do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Send to the E-mail address up top. Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
US Escalates War
(GI Special reported yesterday on the new troop call-ups for Iraq. Now it’s learned in addition to those forces, 7,000 more regular army are coming from Hawaii, and also that the stories that said the call up is only for a year were more Bush deceit.
Where soldiers are concerned, Bush thinks one year is 18 months long. But why be surprised? By now, nothing but lies and death for corporate greed can be expected from this government.)
Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, New York Times, 11/6/2003
Of the 43,000 whose units are being alerted, more than 37,000 are Army Reserve and National Guard troops. The remainder are Marine reservists. In addition, the Pentagon is telling about 2,000 Air Force personnel and about 1,000 Navy personnel they could be going to Iraq or Kuwait.
To fulfill the requirement of serving a full year on the ground, those troops actually mobilized may serve up to 18 months, including training and leave.
The Reserve alert order, a multipage manifest that went through many changes even in the last few days, puts 397 units on notice in most of the 50 states.
Also going to Iraq: one brigade, or about 7,000 soldiers, from the Army’s 25th Infantry Division, based in Hawaii.
54% Disapprove Bush War Policy;
We Have The Majority For The First Time
November 07, 2003 By Susan Page, USA Today
For the first time, most Americans say they disapprove of the way Bush is handling the situation there, according to the USA Today survey. The poll found 45 percent said they approved; 54 percent disapproved.
At the moment, Americans are divided over what to do next. In the survey, 17 percent backed sending more troops. Almost the same number supported withdrawing all of them. About one-third backed current troop levels. Almost that many wanted to withdraw some troops.
Some 54% said the war was worth fighting and 44% said it was not. In March the figures were 70% and 27% respectively.
There was a consensus on one question, though. More than six in 10 said things have been going badly for the United States in Iraq since the major fighting ended last spring.
Do you have a friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly. Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and in Iraq, and information about other social protest movements here in the USA. Send requests to address up top. For copies on web site see:www.notinourname.net/gi-special/
Seven Iraq Neighbor Nations Won’t Condemn Resistance Attacks On U.S. Military Targets
Gary Younge, Guardian (United Kingdom), 11/3/2003
Iraq’s six neighbours yesterday condemned terrorist attacks against civilians and said they would secure their borders, amid US charges that foreign militants were behind the wave of violence.
But the foreign ministers of Syria, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan, as well as Egypt which is not a neighbour, made no mention of the increasing attacks on military targets.
“[The ministers] condemn the terrorist bombings that target civilians, humanitarian and religious institutions, embassies and international organisations working in Iraq,” their closing statement said after a two-day security meeting in Damascus.
While Bush Contractors Get Billions,
Service Members Must Go Begging In Public For Relief Help
November 07, 2003, By Karen Jowers, Army Times staff writer
Beginning Veterans Day, look and listen for public service announcements on your local television and radio stations calling for donations to help meet the financial needs of service members and their families.
A 30-second spot, created and donated by Sawyer Miller Advertising and sponsored by the National Association of Broadcasters, is being sent to 13,000 radio stations and 1,600 television stations around the country.
“As the war on terrorism continues, many broadcasters are seeing firsthand the personal and financial hardships facing our troops and their families,” Eddie Fritts, president of the National Association of Broadcasters, said in a statement.
Donations will go to a central fund, the Armed Forces Relief Trust www.afrtrust.org/ , and will be distributed among the five military relief societies. The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society will get 38 percent; the Air Force Aid Society, 25 percent; Army Emergency Relief, 34 percent; and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, 3 percent. The formula was agreed upon by the relief societies, based on the percentage of their service in the total force. The relief societies also will administer the fund.
Dear Mom… Emails From The War
Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian (United Kingdom) October 26, 2003
In researching this story, we received more than 70 emails and phone calls from relatives of US forces overseas. All but two were negative – about the treatment of soldiers, the reasons for the Iraq war, the pain of family separation and the insensitivity of the military bureaucracy.
The criticisms – a breach of military culture – is viewed with concern at the Pentagon. Many on the home front remain furious.
From a female member of the National Guard serving in northern Iraq
“I don’t see anything wrong with doing whatever it takes to stay alive. There is nothing sacred about kids with guns. There is nothing sacred about anybody trying to kill anybody else, it don’t matter how old they are. I hate this shit … I don’t mind Iraq, I don’t mind war, but I absolutely hate the situation I’m in, and I’m beginning to hate most of the people I’m surrounded by.”
From a reservist serving as a mechanic near Baquba
“I was offered to go on a convoy today but I did not go. They came back late tonight, and it turns out that the Iraqi people opened fire on them from a rooftop in a small town. We returned, but did not kill any of them, no one was hurt. This happens all the time. No one really aimed at the enemy. You just get scared and pull the trigger and open up in the direction you think they are firing from.”
From an artilleryman’s wife
“The morning they shipped out they handed them their papers and things were missing that were supposed to be in there. Now I talk to him via the computer because the phones are never working. I’m on anti-depressants and sleeping pills. I try to make it through the day without crying but lately that’s impossible. I never thought that this would be so hard. I wake wondering if my husband is still alive and I turn on the news to see more soldiers dead in Iraq.”
From a reservist from Indiana
“Everyone hears that morale is high and it is a bold-faced lie. The only people they ever talk to are these commanders. The reserve soldiers never get to speak their mind. We are the pawns of this war. We watch the active duty retire, and move to new assignments. We watch their tours end as we are still trapped because of poor post-war planning.”
GET SOME TRUTH: CHECK OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER
Telling the truth – about the occupation, the cuts to veterans benefits, or the dangers of depleted uranium – is the first reason Traveling Soldier is necessary. But we want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance – whether it’s in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or inside the armed forces. Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help you organize resistance within the armed forces. If you like what you’ve read, we hope that you’ll join with us in building a network of active duty organizers. www.traveling-soldier.org/
Bush Gives Congress The Iraq Treatment;
Piss On Democracy
Nov. 6, 2003, SOURCE: Joe Conason’s Journal
Yesterday evening on the House floor, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., offered some angry perspective on the Bush administration’s “support for our troops.”
560,000 Disabled Veterans are subject to the Disabled Veterans Tax, something we have tried to rectify.
“We have 373 cosponsors [to repeal that tax in the House]. There are only 435 people here. If 373 people want something, we should be able to do it, should we not? That is a super, super, super majority. But guess what? The Republican leadership, under urging from the president and Secretary Rumsfeld and threats of veto from the president, are refusing to bring up a repeal of the Disabled Veterans Tax.
We can have tax breaks for people who do not work for a living, the investor class.
But we cannot have tax relief for Disabled Veterans. Is that not extraordinary? President Bush refused to spend $275 million in emergency money for Veterans’ health care provided by Congress in the fiscal year 2002 supplemental appropriations bill. But of course he wants to do everything he can to recognize the service of our Veterans and our young men and women.
“[On] January 8 of this year, the Bush administration cut off [Veterans Administration] health care for 164,000 Veterans. They put them in a new category called Category 8. They are wealthy Veterans just like the wealthy people they are giving tax breaks to. Well, not quite. The wealthy people the Bush administration is raining tax breaks on earn over $311,000 a year. But these Vets are ‘wealthy.’ They do not deserve that Veterans health care, according to the Bush administration.
They earn $25,000 a year. They should pay for their own health care…
By SLOBODAN LEKIC, Associated Press Writer, 11.8.03
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in remarks published Saturday in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat that the attacks on American troops in central Iraq represented a serious problem but not necessarily a “nightmare.”
(Definitions, definitions. Powell’s’ definition of “Serious problem”: soldiers are getting killed. Powell’s’ definition of “nightmare”: Powell gets killed.)
(Powell also speaks at CCNY New York Monday, Nov. 10. The demonstration starts at 4:30 P.M. For an inside look at Powell’s sorry record of deceit and betrayal, see the “Received” letter from J at the end of this issue.
The ghost of George Washington visits the White House and Bush asks him for some advice. Washington tells him not to lie. The next day the ghost of Lincoln appears and Bush also asks him for advice. Lincoln tells him to go to the theater.
Why Did The Bush Regime Lose The War In-Iraq?
Because It Was Unwinnable!
Ray McGovern, Retired Central Intelligence Agency agent, TomPaine.com, 11/3/2003
The killing of 18 U.S. troops and the wounding of 21 others in Iraq on November 2 brings to mind the successful attack by Viet Cong guerrillas on U.S. forces in Pleiku, Vietnam on February 7, 1965.
The Johnson administration immediately seized on that attack, in which nine U.S. troops were killed and 128 wounded, to start bombing North Vietnam and to send 3,500 Marines to South Vietnam. Unlike the U.S. advisory forces already in country, the Marines had orders to engage in combat, marking the beginning of the Americanization of the war. By 1968 U.S. forces had grown to over 536,000.
From the outset, my colleagues in CIA were highly skeptical that even with a half-million troops the United States could prevail in Vietnam. They were quick to remind anyone who would listen of the candid observation made by General Philippe LeClerc, dispatched to Vietnam shortly after World War II. The French general reported that, mainly because of the strong commitment of the Vietnamese nationalists/communists and their proven proficiency in guerrilla war, a renewed French campaign would require 500,000 men and that, even then, France could not win.
In 1965, similar warnings were blissfully ignored by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and the civilian whiz kids with whom he had surrounded himself. Then as now, the advice of our professional military was dismissed.
Most of those with a modicum of experience in guerrilla warfare and the Middle East are persuaded that the war is not winnable and that the only thing in doubt is the timing of the U.S. departure.
Recent sloganeering is eerily reminiscent of a comparable stage in our involvement in Vietnam. We would have to “stay the course.” We could not “cut and run”-though that is precisely what we ended up doing in 1975 after 58,000 US troops and 3 million Vietnamese had been killed.
After many weeks of refusing to admit the word “guerrilla” into evidence, Rumsfeld seems to have made his peace with it.
At least we were spared the usual claims that we are “moving forward” and will prevail “at the end of the day.” Apparently even Rumsfeld could see how incongruous such banalities would have sounded after such a disastrous week.
It is a no-brainer that U.S. troop reductions are unlikely anytime soon, but apparently we shall have to wait for Rumsfeld to acquire better “situational awareness” before he and his whiz kids are willing to admit this.
Instead of drawdowns, pressure will inexorably grow from those neo-conservatives already pushing for a larger troop commitment. Having learned nothing from history, from the U.S. intelligence community, or from the professional military, Rumsfeld’s whiz kids may persuade President Bush that the best course is to send more troops to “get the job done”-(and thereby seal his fate!)
One small problem, of course, is the unwelcome fact that all too few troops are available for reinforcement. (The Democratic Party leadership, of course, is leading he call for more troops to Iraq. The most senior Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, Joseph Biden, said 11.2 that the US should send more troops.)
A Bush administration decision to escalate (to exhume that familiar word from Vietnam) in that way would only provoke more widespread guerrilla attacks in Iraq and terrorist acts against U.S. personnel and facilities elsewhere as well. The U.S. troop presence in Iraq is the problem, not the solution.
And someone needs to dispel Rumsfeld’s confusion regarding who is the enemy. It is every Iraqi with weapon or explosive who means to make the occupier suffer. The tools are readily available, and the guerrillas, whether homebred or from neighboring states, will not be quelled-even if 500,000 troops are sent.
Imperial Rome was able to work its will on lesser states, but for the most part Rome had a corner on the weapons. None of the subjugated peoples had rockets, mortars, or missiles-and long lines were rare at guerrilla recruiting stations.
It is a Greek tragedy; with the major character flaw of hubris planting the seeds of the ruler’s own destruction. Rumsfeld eventually will write his memoir-his own version of McNamara’s “We were wrong; terribly wrong”-but this will bring no consolation to what may be the next one-term president back in Texas.
It is also tragic that the president does not read very much, for he would have found the following in his father’s memoir:
“Trying to eliminate Saddam… would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible… we would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq… there was no viable ‘exit strategy’ we could see, violating another of our principles… Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations’ mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.”
As long as the occupation continues, so will the killing of U.S. troops and others. The way to stop the violence is to end the occupation; the only way to protect our troops is to bring them home.
But, many protest, we can’t just withdraw! Sure we can, and better now than ten years from now, as in the case of Vietnam. If it is true that we are not in Iraq to control the oil or to establish military bases with which to dominate that strategic area, we can certainly withdraw. As in Vietnam, the war is unwinnable… hear that? Unwinnable!
How Many Casualties Will The Country “Tolerate”
November 07, 2003 By Dave Moniz, USA Today
America’s part-time troops will shoulder a much larger share of the front-line burden in Iraq next year than they do now, according to a troop-rotation plan announced Thursday by the Pentagon. The military is planning to increase the number of troops from the National Guard and Army and Marine Corps reserves from 28,700 now in Iraq to 39,000 by May.
Next year, Army Guard combat units and Army and Marine reservists will be thrust into the middle of a bloody guerrilla conflict that has challenged the skills of the nation’s full-time military.
Defense experts believe the stepped-up deployments of Guard and reserve troops will mark the largest combat mission for America’s part-time soldiers since the all-volunteer military was created 30 years ago. Michael O’Hanlon, a defense analyst at Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., said Thursday that the Guard and reserve would face a stern test.
“I think how well they are going to do is a big question mark,” O’Hanlon said. “In addition, there are questions about how many Guard and reserve casualties the country can tolerate.”
Bush Hides War Dead;
Body Bags Now Called ‘Transfer Tubes’
Bush team doesn’t want people to see human cost of war
Tim Harper, Toronto Star (Canada) November 2, 2003
Washington – Charles H. Buehring came home last week.
He arrived at the air force base in Dover, Del., in the middle of the night, in an aluminum shipping case draped in an American flag.
When the military truck drove his remains across the tarmac, workers paused and removed their hats.
He was met by a six-member honour guard acting as pallbearers, to allow a “dignified transfer” to the Charles C. Carson mortuary.
“It reminds us we are at war,” says Lt.-Col. Jon Anderson, who describes business at the Dover mortuary as “steady.”
But America never saw Lt.-Col. Buehring’s arrival, days after a rocket from a homemade launcher ended his life at age 40 in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Rasheed Hotel last Monday.
Americans have never seen any of the other 359 bodies returning from Iraq. Nor do they see the wounded cramming the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington or soldiers who say they are being treated inhumanely awaiting medical treatment at Fort Stewart, Ga.
In order to continue to sell an increasingly unpopular Iraqi invasion to the American people, President George W. Bush’s administration sweeps the messy parts of war – the grieving families, the flag-draped coffins, the soldiers who have lost limbs – into a far corner of the nation’s attic.
No television cameras are allowed at Dover. Bush does not attend the funerals of soldiers.
Buehring of Winter Springs, Fla., described as “a great American” by his commanding officer, had two sons, 12 and 9, was active in the Boy Scouts and his church and had served his country for 18 years.
No government official has said a word publicly about him.
If stories of wounded soldiers are told, they are told by hometown papers, but there is no national attention given to the recuperating veterans here in the nation’s capital.
More than 1,700 Americans have been wounded in Iraq since the March invasion.
“You can call it news control or information control or flat-out propaganda,” says Christopher Simpson, a communications professor at Washington’s American University.
“Whatever you call it, this is the most extensive effort at spinning a war that the department of defence has ever undertaken in this country.”
Simpson notes that photos of the dead returning to American soil have historically been part of the ceremony, part of the picture of conflict and part of the public closure for families – until now.
Lynn Cutler, a Democratic strategist and former official in Bill Clinton’s White House, says this is the first time in history that bodies have been brought home under cover of secrecy.
“It feels like Vietnam when Lyndon Johnson was accused of hiding the body bags ….
But today’s military doesn’t even use the words “body bags” – a term in common usage during the Vietnam War, when 58,000 Americans died.
During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the Pentagon began calling them “human remains pouches” and it now refers to them as “transfer tubes.”
One term that has crept into the U.S. military lexicon, however, is the “Dover test,” shorthand for the American public’s tolerance for wartime fatalities.
Last March, a directive came down reaffirming the banning of cameras, likely in anticipation of the sheer volume of casualties being repatriated.
“The administration has clearly made an attempt to limit the attention that would build up if they were showing Dover every day,” says Joseph Dawson, a military historian at Texas A & M University.
The Bush strategy is really rooted in the perception in some quarters that the media cost the U.S. the Vietnam War.
There are parallels between Vietnam and Iraq in the words used by the president and in media coverage.
Whereas Lyndon Johnson and his top general, William Westmoreland, spoke of “steady and encouraging success” in Vietnam when they knew differently. Bush last week said the car bombing of the Red Cross showed the “progress” of the American campaign because insurgents were becoming more desperate.
Johnson called U.S. bombing missions “limited in scale” or “commensurate with need” and groused about news coverage. Bush also says the national media are not telling the truth and keeps implying the war in Iraq is needed to prevent another attack on U.S. soil.
Also like the Vietnam era, more attention is being given to U.S. victims the longer the conflict drags on.
The Associated Press last week ran the names and hometowns of all victims since the Iraq invasion began.
In 1969, Life magazine published a famous, black-covered edition consisting entirely of portraits of 250 young Americans who died in Vietnam in one routine week.
Television images of American soldiers in combat interrupted Americans’ dinners nightly during the Vietnam War.
Clinton took his troops out of Somalia after a photo by the Toronto Star’s Paul Watson, showing crowds cheering as a dead American soldier was dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, was beamed around the world on news wires.
Increasing casualties in Iraq have had no such dramatic effect on Bush, but that could change if more attention is paid to the wounded coming home and the way they are being treated.
“Rarely have we seen so many young patients at one time,” a spokesperson said.
The situation at Walter Reed and the administration’s perceived indifference were highlighted last week by Cher, who visited troops there, then called an open-line show on C-SPAN, the U.S. network that broadcasts congressional debates and other political events.
She did not initially identify herself.
“Why are Cheney, Wolfowitz, Bremer, the president – why aren’t they taking pictures with these guys?” she demanded, referring to Vice-President Dick Cheney, Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and the civilian administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer.
“I don’t understand why these guys are so hidden, why there are no pictures of them.”
DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK
Bush Regime Turned Down Peace Deal;
Ignored Iraq Offer To Give Bush Everything He Wanted Including The Oil;
But Bloodthirsty Assholes Wanted War
James Risen, New York Times, 11/6/2003
Washington, DC – As American soldiers massed on the Iraqi border in March and diplomats argued about war, an influential adviser to the Pentagon received a secret message from a Lebanese-American businessman: Saddam Hussein wanted to make a deal.
Iraqi officials, including the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, had told the businessman that they wanted Washington to know that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction, and they offered to allow American troops and experts to conduct a search. The businessman said in an interview that the Iraqis also offered to hand over a man accused of being involved in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 who was being held in Baghdad. At one point, he said, the Iraqis pledged to hold elections.
The overtures were ultimately rebuffed.
But the messages raised enough interest that in early March, Richard N. Perle, an influential adviser to top Pentagon officials, met in London with the Lebanese-American businessman, Imad Hage.
Mr. Perle said he sought authorization from C.I.A. officials to meet with the Iraqis, but the officials told him they did not want to pursue this channel, and they indicated they had already engaged in separate contacts with Baghdad. Mr. Perle said, “The message was, `Tell them that we will see them in Baghdad.’“
There were a variety of efforts, both public and discreet, to avert a war in Iraq, but Mr. Hage’s back channel appears to have been a final attempt by Mr. Hussein’s government to reach American officials.
In interviews in Beirut, Mr. Hage said the Iraqis appeared intimidated by the American military threat. “The Iraqis were finally taking it seriously,” he said,
Mr. Perle said he found it “puzzling” that the Iraqis would have used such complicated contacts to communicate “a quite astonishing proposal” to the administration.
But former American intelligence officers with extensive experience in the Middle East say many Arab leaders have traditionally placed a high value on secret communications, though such informal arrangements are sometimes considered suspect in Washington.
Hassan al-Obeidi, chief of foreign operations of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, explained that the Iraqis wanted to cooperate with the Americans and could not understand why the Americans were focused on Iraq rather than on countries, like Iran, that have long supported terrorists, Mr. Hage said. The Iraqi seemed desperate, Mr. Hage said, “like someone who feared for his own safety, although he tried to hide it.”
Mr. Obeidi told Mr. Hage that Iraq would make deals to avoid war, including helping in the Mideast peace process. “He said, if this is about oil, we will talk about U.S. oil concessions,” Mr. Hage recalled. “If it is about the peace process, then we can talk. If this is about weapons of mass destruction, let the Americans send over their people. There are no weapons of mass destruction.”
Mr. Obeidi said the “Americans could send 2,000 F.B.I. agents to look wherever they wanted,” Mr. Hage recalled.
He said that when he told Mr. Obeidi that the United States seemed adamant that Saddam Hussein give up power, Mr. Obeidi bristled, saying that would be capitulation. But later, Mr. Hage recounted, Mr. Obeidi said Iraq could agree to hold elections within the next two years.
He said that to demonstrate the Iraqis’ willingness to help fight terrorism, Mr. Habbush offered to hand over Abdul Rahman Yasin, who has been indicted in United States in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Mr. Yasin fled to Iraq after the bombing, and the United States put up a $25 million reward for his capture.
THE TRAITOR-IN-CHIEF SAYS FUCK PEACE, I WANT DEAD TROOPS!
Mr. Hage said Mr. Habbush also insisted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and added, “Let your friends send in people and we will open everything to them.”
No meetings took place, and the invasion began on March 20.
Mr. Hage wonders what might have happened if the Americans had pursued the back channel to Baghdad.
“At least they could have talked to them,” he said.
The Day GI’s Die In Chinook, Bush Shows A Happy Face
Maureen Dowd, New York Times, 11/6/2003
Who can blame poor President Bush? Look at his terrible dilemma.
There are those who say the chief executive should have come out of his Texas ranch house and articulated and assuaged the sorrow and outrage and anxiety the nation was feeling on Sunday after the deadliest day in Iraq in seven months. An attack on a Chinook helicopter had killed 15 American soldiers, 13 men and 2 women, and wounded 21.
But let’s look at it from the president’s point of view: if he grieves more publicly or concretely, if he addresses every instance of bad news, he will simply remind people of what’s going on in Iraq.
The White House is cleverly trying to distance Mr. Bush from the messy problem of flesh-and-blood soldiers with real names dying nearly every day, while linking him to the heroic task of fighting global terror.
It’s better to keep it vague, to talk about the “important cause” and the “brave defenders” of liberty.
As the White House points out, Mr. Bush cannot fairly pick and choose which memorial services to go to, or which deaths to speak of.
“If a helicopter were hit an hour later, after he came out and spoke, should he come out again?” Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, told The Times’s Elisabeth Bumiller, explaining Mr. Bush’s silence after the Chinook crash. The public, he added, “wants the commander in chief to have proper perspective, and keep his eye on the big picture and the ball.”
The ball for fall is fund-raising. President Bush has been going full throttle since summer, spending several days a week flying around the country, hitting up rich Republicans for $2,000 checks. He has raised $90 million so far out of the $175 million he plans to spend on a primary campaign in which he has no opponent.
At fund-raisers, Mr. Bush prefers to talk about the uptick in the economy, not the downtick in Iraq.
On Monday, arriving for a fund-raiser in Birmingham, he was upbeat, not somber.
Raising $1.8 million at lunch, he stuck to the line that “we are aggressively striking the terrorists in Iraq, defeating them there so we will not have to face them in our own country.” He didn’t want to depress the donors by mentioning the big news story, the loss of 15 American soldiers,
Perhaps the solution to Mr. Bush’s quandary is to coordinate his schedule so he can go to cities where he can attend both fund-raisers and funerals.
The law of averages suggests it shouldn’t be hard.
THIS IS WHERE BUSH BRINGS THE TROOPS HOME
Leading Democrat Attacks Bush For Troop Withdrawal Plans
November 07, 2003, By Rick Maze, Army Times staff writer
A key House Democrat is worried the Bush administration is suddenly moving too quickly to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq.
Rep Ike Skelton of Missouri, senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said beginning the withdrawal of American forces by next spring – which Pentagon officials now plan – would be “very politically popular” but may be unwise.
“I don’t want to run before we have done the job,” Skelton said, “The sacrifices of all of our brave men and women who have died or been wounded must not be in vain.”
(”I” don’t want to run? The news story must have it wrong, it claims Skelton is in Washington D.C. running off his mouth on Capital Hill. Obviously he’s in Iraq, bravely risking his life and refusing to run before “we” have the “job done.”
As for his deep concern that the dead and wounded not have sacrificed in vain, he need not worry. They are being sacrificed on the high alter of Empire and Corporate Greed, and for political hacks like Skelton. On of the more urgent reasons to bring all the troops home now is to deal with trash like Skelton that infest Washington and need a good cleaning out.
On the other hand, his statement is appreciated, in that it shows the Democratic Party leadership is even more bloodthirsty than the Bush crowd, which should wake up anybody still deluded into thinking the answer to war for Empire is voting for the Democratic Party.)
(For more see the article “The Democrats Duck Another Fight at www.socialistworker.org.)
GEORGE BUSH: POLITICAL GENIUS
The Commander-in-Chief Speaks
Bush told the applauding denizens of Alabama last week that America is the wealthiest and most powerful nation the world has ever known. “We’ve got more dollars than anybody,” he said.
While Troops Have To Pay For Leave Tickets Home,
Pentagon Officials Illegally Flew First-Class;
Corruption Cost $124 MILLION!
By Larry Margasak, November 07, 2003, Associated Press
Military and civilian defense officials improperly used government credit cards to buy 68,000 first-class or business-class airline seats when they were supposed to fly coach, congressional investigators concluded Thursday.
Several high-ranking political appointees were among the 44,000 people who bought premium tickets that cost $124 million over two years. The investigators’ report did not estimate how much extra money that meant. Coach tickets can cost anywhere from a few dollars to thousands of dollars less.
“Our goal today is to ground the high fliers who abuse the system and to ensure DoD (Department of Defense) is committed to implementing long-term solutions to this costly problem,” said Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., one of three lawmakers who requested the investigation. (Coleman is one of those assholes who think people should get prison terms for weed. But prison for these upper class thieves? Heavens no, “grounding” will be enough. After all, they go to the same dinner parties.)
While the report didn’t name the travelers, investigators identified several presidential and political appointees in a separate letter – responding to requests by Coleman, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Janice Schakowsky, D-Ill.
In all of the examples, the GAO said the justifications were not in compliance with travel regulations.
The GAO said John Stenbit, as assistant secretary of defense for command, control, communications and intelligence, used 17 first-and-business class tickets costing nearly $68,000 – citing on official forms an unspecified medical condition.
“About a month after we requested additional documentation for these airline tickets, DOD provided us with a letter from a physician dated Sept. 11, 2001, requesting that the traveler be authorized to fly first class so that the traveler could stretch his legs,” the GAO report said. Stenbit now has a different title but remains in the Pentagon.
Jack Dyer Crouch, as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, took 15 premium class trips costing $70,000. The justification was the need for Crouch – who has left the department – to be ready for meetings upon arrival, the investigators found.
“Traveler’s assistant said that the traveler flies premium class to minimize his time away from the office,” the GAO said. The assistant, however, “could not demonstrate a cost savings caused by lost productivity,” the report said.
Bernd McConnell, deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs in the Clinton administration, had 10 premium flights at a cost of $48,000 but his justifications didn’t always fit the itinerary.
During 12 days in late August 2001, McConnell flew business class from Washington to six European cities and South Africa for more than $8,800. He then traveled business class from South Africa to Atlanta, and first class from Atlanta to the nation’s capital.
“The documentation supporting the trip was an order signed by the military assistant to the undersecretary, that authorized the traveler to fly first class from Washington to Tampa, Fla.,” the GAO said.
One unidentified civilian Pentagon employee and three family members flew a combination of first-and-business class when they moved from London to Honolulu. Traveling without authorization to fly premium class, the tickets cost nearly $21,000 compared to an estimated $2,500 for coach class, the report said.
Rep. Schakowsky said she would introduce legislation that would prevent the Defense Department from receiving budget increases until its books are in order.
She said that unless Congress takes decisive action against Pentagon waste, “we will spend years offering piecemeal solutions and reading countless GAO reports with similar conclusions while … taxpayers will continue to pay the price.”
Grassley commented, “Apparently, some high-ranking bureaucrats feel they are entitled to luxury air travel. We’ve got people who are supposed to be public servants stretching their legs with a hot towel and a cocktail, even if it costs the taxpayer thousands of dollars more.”
1. Thanks to J, who sent $100 donation for the work. It really helps.
2. (Sent To GI Special by Vet in response to notice of Monday 11.10 demonstration against Colin Powell at City College of New York.) T.
Be sure to point out his role, with General Bechton of the Big Red One unit in Vietnam in covering up the Mai Lai massacre for nearly a year until the veterans exposed it, saying it would hurt relationships between the US and South Vietnamese forces and the Vietnamese. Imagine that! With the recent Tiger Force revelations, we know that such incidents were in fact policy not “isolated incidents”. There were many more of them reported and not during the war.
Don’t forget his unindicted role under John Poindexter in shipping the Tow missiles to Israel as part of the Iran-Contra operation. He was “just following orders”, and it got him quite a promotion.
Also point out his role in expanding JROTC in the high schools, doubling the number of units to close to 3,000 as a response to the LA riots. High schools pay half the cost of the JROTC programs, mostly instructor salaries, and in DC that comes to half of $2.4 million for 13 schools, in a city so cash strapped that it can’t fix the buildings or keep teachers. The only office with fresh paint, working copier, clocks and computers is the JROTC “armory” in most of these schools.
If it costs that much for 13 schools imagine the overall budget for 3,000 nationally, with 50% taken out of sparse educational dollars. The drop out rate is phenomenal, with well over 95% gone by senior year in DC, forcing three schools here to make enrollment mandatory in the freshman year to boost their figures enough to qualify for the federal half of the costs.
This is Powell’s legacy to African-American and Hispanic children, who were specifically targeted in his plan. A program that mis-educates students on history and civics, defines blind obedience as “discipline” and makes anecdotal claims of improving “at risk” students performance and retention without a single study that shows such results.
But the real advantage to the Pentagon is that students who spend even one year in JROTC are much more likely to enlist.
Oh, and don’t forget Powell’s “Total Force Doctrine”, in place since the invasion of Grenada, that makes a priority of using recently trained and mobile Reserve and National Guard units before calling in Active Duty in wartime.
This reversal forced thousands of inactivated reservists into duty in the first Gulf War and led to high levels of AWOL, claims of conscience that were ignored, and GI resistance that was answered with beatings, shackling and makeshift prisons on the ground in Saudi Arabia for 3,600 African-Americans who would not fight.
That doctrine is what is pulling Reserve and National Guard forces into this war as well. It means that you are up for grabs for war for the full eight years of enlistment, and more
Powell, like Condaleeza Rice, are rank opportunists more than willing to trade the lives of people of color for their privilege, power and position.
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