Saturday, March 29, 2008


Vietnam and Iraq Songs - Country Joe and the Fish

country joe and the fish - Vietnam Song

Country Joe and the Fish - Iraq Song


Iraq War Song - with Country Joe and the Fish
Iraq War Song - with Country Joe and the Fish
our Troops in Iraq and may the politicians that sent them there GO TO HELL!!...Iraq Anti War Song Country Joe and the Fish Woodstock This video is NOT intended to be anti-American. I have 2 Grandfathers and an Uncle buried at Arlington National Cemetery and I love my country. Loving your country has absolutely NOTHING to with loving your government. May God Bless our Troops in Iraq and may the politicians that sent them there GO TO HELL!! (more)


Monday, March 24, 2008


4,000 US Sons Dead

Overall US death toll in Iraq hits 4,000

By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 36 minutes ago

BAGHDAD - The overall U.S. death toll in Iraq rose to 4,000 after four soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing in Baghdad, a grim milestone that is likely to fuel calls for the withdrawal of American forces as the war enters its sixth year.

The American deaths occurred Sunday, the same day rockets and mortars pounded the U.S.-protected Green Zone in Baghdad and a wave of attacks left at least 61 Iraqis dead nationwide.

An Iraqi military spokesman said Monday that troops had found rocket launching pads in different areas in predominantly Shiite eastern Baghdad that had been used by extremists to fire on the Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy and the Iraqi government headquarters.

"We hope to deal with this issue professionally to avoid civilian casualties," said spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi.

The four soldiers with Multi-National Division — Baghdad were on a patrol when their vehicle was struck at about 10 p.m. Sunday in southern Baghdad, the U.S. military said. Another soldier was wounded in the attack — less than a week after the fifth anniversary of the conflict.

Navy Lt. Patrick Evans, a military spokesman, expressed condolences to all the families of soldiers killed in Iraq, saying each death is "equally tragic."

"There have been some significant gains. However, this enemy is resilient and will not give up, nor will we," he said. "There's still a lot of work to be done."

Last year, U.S. military deaths spiked as U.S. troops sought to regain control of Baghdad and surrounding areas. The death toll has seesawed since, with 2007 ending as the deadliest year for American troops at 901 deaths. That was 51 more deaths than 2004, the second deadliest year for U.S. soldiers.

The Associated Press count of 4,000 deaths is based on U.S. military reports and includes eight civilians who worked for the Department of Defense.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians also have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion on March 20, 2003, although estimates of a specific figure vary widely due to the difficulty in collecting accurate information.

One widely respected tally by Iraq Body Count, which collects figures based mostly on media reports, estimates that 82,349 to 89,867 Iraqi civilians have lost their lives in the conflict.

Overall attacks also have decreased against Iraqi civilians but recent weeks have seen several high-profile bombings, underscoring the fragile security situation and the resilience of both Sunni and Shiite extremist groups.

Mosul, Iraq's third largest city about 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, has been described as the last major urban area where the Sunni extremist al-Qaida group maintains a significant presence.

The persistent violence has led to strong public opposition to the war in the United States, with both Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton promising a quick pullout if they are elected.

President Bush has insisted the decline in violence shows his strategy is working and needs more time, a position taken by Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.

Iraq's National Security Adviser Mouwaffak al-Rubaie said he sympathized with the American losses but warned against pulling out U.S. troops before Iraqi forces are ready to take over their own security and the situation is sufficiently stable.

"Honestly, this war is well worth fighting. This war, we are talking about war against global terror," he said Sunday in an interview with CNN.

No group claimed responsibility for the Green Zone attacks, but suspicion fell on Shiite extremists based on the eastern areas from which the weapons appeared to have been fired.

At least 10 civilians were killed and 20 more were wounded in rocket or mortar blasts in scattered areas of eastern Baghdad, some probably due to rounds aimed at the Green Zone that fell short.

The U.S. Embassy said at least five people were injured but no Americans were reported killed in the Green Zone attacks, which sent dark plumes of smoke rising over the district in the heart of the capital.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to release the information, said those injured included an American and four third-country nationals, meaning they were not American, British or Iraqi.

The heavily fortified area has frequently come under fire by Shiite and Sunni extremists, but the attacks have tapered off as violence declined over the past year.

The attacks followed a series of clashes last week between U.S. and Iraqi forces and factions of the Mahdi Army, the biggest Shiite militia loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr has declared a cease-fire through mid-August to purge the militia of criminal and dissident elements but it has come under severe strains in recent weeks.

Al-Sadr's followers have accused the Shiite-dominated government of exploiting the cease-fire to target the cleric's supporters in advance of provincial elections expected this fall and demanded the release of supporters rounded up in recent weeks.


A US soldier stands guard in the area where a suicide car bomber detonated his load in Shula, Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, March 23, 2008. At least seven died and 14 were wounded in the blast.  (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
AP Photo: A US soldier stands guard in the area where a suicide car bomber detonated his...


Sunday, March 23, 2008


We Never Learn

Robert Fisk: The only lesson we ever learn is that we never learn

Reuters/Jeff Mitchell

President George Bush addresses US Army soldiers and their families at Fort Hood, Texas, 3 January 2003. Bush addressed the possiblity of military action against Iraq

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    Iraq- Legacy = Militias

    Our legacy is a dark and forbidding place of militias

    By Kim Sengupta in Basra
    Wednesday, 19 March 2008

    The siren for an impending attack went off three times in three hours yesterday, with anti-missile guns roaring in response while soldiers dived for cover. This was no over-reaction – the base at Basra airport had been hit by rockets a day earlier. British troops have withdrawn from their one remaining base in Basra City and are highly unlikely to take part in direct fighting again. Five years after the start of the war, the beginning of the end comes with little fanfare.

    The legacy Britain leaves behind however, will long remain a matter of dispute. British officials claim their tenure has seen nothing like the bloodshed seen under US control. But for many Iraqis, Basra is now a dark and forbidding place of militias. More than 100 women have been murdered in a year by religious fundamentalists.

    Oil meant to drive the reconstruction is being looted by criminal gangs in barges escorted by gunboats with more firepower than the embryonic Iraqi navy.

    Two senior Iraqi officers sent to restore order – Maj-Gen Mohan al-Furayji and Maj-Gen Jalil Khalaf– have pursued negotiations as well as military action against the militias, and say their grip will be loosened in the future.

    But some in Basra are too full of grief to have any hope for the future. Hala um Hassan, whose full name is not being published to protect her, went to the police after her 20-year-old daughter Roula failed to return home from university. Her body was found, with gunshot wounds to the head, nine days later. "She had been warned for dressing and behaving in a provocative way by some religious people, said Mrs Hassan. "My daughter always covered her head when she went outside the house. We had heard about other girls going missing. But one morning she went out and did not come back."

    Who do the family blame? "The first responsibility lies with the men who did this, they would kill women like they would kill a bird," said Roula's cousin Hania. "But the British have a big army at the airport. What is the point of staying here if they do not deal with these terrible things?"

    On the outskirts of Basra, Flt-Lt Jules Weekes was leading a patrol. "When we came we were welcomed with open arms as liberators by the Shia down here," he said. "But there is now a large section of the population who wants us to go."

    Additional reporting by Hakim Ali Ibrahim

    Voices from the streets of Baghdad

    Bashar Salam, 50 Christian, hotel receptionist

    Nowadays everything is difficult: Bombs, mortars, kidnapping and you cannot get a job. No one takes care of the people because those in the government are busy making money for themselves and planning their own future, so we expect a dark future for ourselves.

    Hamad al-Jumaili Sunni, lecturer at Baghdad University

    The majority of the Iraqi people have found the past five years very hard and this is quite natural because we have been under occupation. It is the occupation that is responsible for everything. The future depends on whether or not the next Iraqi election produces a national government that unites people.

    Marcia Hannah Paulus, 35 Christian, office worker

    The Christians have become a target for Islamic groups and most of us are forced to leave Iraq. We had peace in Saddam's time and no one attacked us. I believe we are not going to have a good future because the Americans have not been able to solve our problems.

    Abu Yusuf, 47 Shia, restaurant owner, educated in Italy

    Iraqis are used to being under occupation. It was the British in the 1940s, then we had Abdul Karim Qassem, followed by the Baathist occupation and now the Americans. There is no difference between any of them.

    Kaiser Mehdi Khadim, 26 Shia, worker

    Baghdad is destroyed now even more than it was before the war [in 2003]. Sectarianism is everywhere.



    Iraq-Totality of Failure


    Leading article: Five years after the invasion, the totality of our failure is clear

    Wednesday, 19 March 2008

    Five years on, let us take the high road. When the invasion of Iraq was conceived, it was as an experiment in the transforming force of a confident superpower; an evangelistic Tony Blair trotted on behind. Removing a dictator was only to be the start; the objective was a benign and democratic Middle East – an environment in which Israel and the Palestinians could make peace, and energy exports were plentiful and secure.

    Even now, the removal of that dictator remains the single attainment of an enterprise that was always as flawed in its genesis as in execution. Iraq is a war-torn and wasted land. Estimates of its civilian dead range from almost 100,000 to more than 10 times as many. More than two million of its people have fled. The indiscriminate killings may have slowed, but ethnic cleansing continues apace.

    Any semblance of democracy is confined to the Kurdish region – as it was before the war. The government and parliament are corralled in the Green Zone, walled off from the citizens they are supposed to serve. Neither the central government, nor the 150,000 US troops, have been able to match even the inadequate supplies of power and clean water that Saddam Hussein made flow in his day. Iraqi police and armed forces are still nowhere near up to standard or strength.

    Over five years, the US has lost almost 4,000 troops, with 30,000 wounded – a toll of grief and suffering that is already influencing the course of US politics. At 175, the number of British dead might seem modest; as the price of involvement in a war that was unjustified and unnecessary, any figure would be too high.

    Nor is the south that we British have handed back to the Iraqis the model of peace and tolerance that we had hoped to bequeath. Plagued by warlordism and riven by sectarianism, it is now left pretty much to its own devices. Yet they are still seen as holding a necessary line, now that the rest of the foreign coalition, such as it was, has departed. The Poles and Australians were the last to leave – both essentially voted back by disgruntled domestic electorates.


    The US, for its part, is trapped. The controversial troop surge briefly subdued the violence – but at tremendous cost in men and material. With the effect wearing off, however, Washington can ill-afford to reduce their numbers, lest the violence return to previous levels. And their necessary visibility places them at greater risk. On the plus side, then, the demise of Saddam Hussein. On the minus side: thousands of deaths, the proliferation of suicide bombings, no great groundswell of democracy, still less energy security, and a resurgent Iran – youthful and militant – sweeping into the power vacuum left by Saddam. On the world stage, both the US and Britain are smaller countries.

    Five years on, the totality of our failure is clear. But worse even than that failure, perhaps, is the obstinate refusal of our political leaders to learn the obvious lessons. Of course, any lingering shreds of idealism are long gone. On becoming Prime Minister, Gordon Brown changed the Government's tone to one of sombre realism, rather than messianism. And for a brief spell, he drew a distinction between the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, rather than dishonestly conflating the two. That did not last. And the promise of a parliamentary vote on any future war, while good for a headline, is of limited value. There was a parliamentary vote on Iraq: the problem was not the lack of a vote, but the lack of an opposition.

    On both sides of the Atlantic, however, political leaders still insist that the war was the right thing to do. If there were errors – and they admit there were – they were all in the implementation, not the enterprise itself. Nor, in official parlance at least, does the appetite for using armed force seem diminished. Mr Bush persists in threatening Iran with armed force, despite overwhelming evidence that his military is overstretched, while the British foreign secretary gives gung-ho speeches on the misunderstood merits of armed intervention.

    In his Budget, Alistair Darling announced the higher military budget as though he was talking about new social spending, rather than the – very high – price of Mr Blair's Mesopotamian adventure. In terms of manpower and money, we have acquired a long-term obligation in Iraq. The true cost has still not been honestly acknowledged.


    Meanwhile we await the comprehensive inquiry into how we got into Iraq – into the decision-making involved, the intelligence debacle, and the rest. Mr Brown's recent promise of an inquiry when the troops are home is a small step in the right direction – at least he recognises that such an investigation is desirable – but it disgracefully, and perhaps indefinitely, postpones the day of reckoning.

    There are those, of course – an increasing number of self-justifying memoir-writers among them – who maintain that five years is but the blink of an eye in the greater perspective of history. The worst, they suggest, is over, and a new, modern Iraq will then arise from the blood and ashes. We hope against hope that it will.

    The evolution of a new Iraq, however, will be proof not that might was right but of the indomitability of the human spirit. We would also remind those tempted to regard these five years of suffering as somehow vindicated that the timescale Mr Bush envisaged for operations was rather closer to five months.



    Iraq- Intelligence Failures

    « EGYPT: Broken marriage and globalization | Main | ISRAEL: The non-negotiation negotiations »

    IRAQ: Intelligence failures past, and present?


    Photo: After falling into disrepair and being bombed, the K-3 refinery is getting attention and investment in the hope that it will contribute to Iraq’s future productivity. Credit: Tony Perry / Los Angeles Times

    Three articles in Monday's L.A. Times show the disparate challenges facing the U.S. in Iraq.

    Times intelligence beat reporter Greg Miller writes about the release of a report on a touchy subject some Americans believe is counterproductive and others of utmost importance: whether the Bush administration mishandled or lied about intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq War to veer the country into a conflict that has cost nearly 4,000 American and more than 100,000 Iraqi lives.

    Underlying the subject is whether the U.S. should be in Iraq in the first place, and a crisis of confidence in America's security and foreign policy establishments.

    Here's an excerpt from Greg's story:

    The long-delayed document catalogs dozens of prewar assertions by President Bush and other administration officials that proved to be wildly inaccurate about Iraq's alleged stockpiles of banned weapons and pursuit of nuclear arms. But officials say the report reaches a mixed verdict on the key question of whether the White House misused intelligence to make the case for war.The document criticizes White House officials for making assertions that failed to reflect disagreements or uncertainties in the underlying intelligence on Iraq, officials said.

    Meanwhile, from Baghdad, I write about new details regarding allegations that Iran is interfering in Iraq. Rear Adm. Gregory Smith didn't present hard evidence, but fleshed out a narrative that detainees have related to their interrogator. Many Americans refuse to believe the Bush administration's allegations regarding Iran, in large part because of the intelligence failures of the Iraq war.

    Here's an excerpt from Monday's story:

    "Groups and elements" including Iranians and militants attached to Lebanon's Hezbollah militia are training Iraqis in Iran to act as recruiters and trainers in Iraq, Smith said. "They're being trained as trainers to set up the teams inside Iraq," he said.... The U.S. gleaned the information from Iraqi detainees who had undergone such training late last year.... "All told the same story," Smith said.... "Handlers trained by Hezbollah inside Iran came back here purposefully to support anti-coalition and anti-security elements."

    Finally, from Anbar province, Times San Diego bureau chief Tony Perry files a dispatch from a dilapidated oil refinery.The facility is 70 years old and in a terrible state, but still pumps out oil.

    Writes Tony:

    The ragged oil refinery in a barren corner of Anbar province looks more like something out of a post-apocalyptic Mel Gibson movie than the centerpiece of an ambitious energy project.

    U.S., British and Iraqi officials are having a terribly difficult time patching up the refinery. But, as one Marine points out to Tony, there are worse things they could be doing:

    "These people need our help," said Marine Lt. Col. David Bellon, commander of the 3-23. "And this beats the hell out of fighting them."

    Borzou Daragahi in Baghdad

    Listed below are links to weblogs that reference IRAQ: Intelligence failures past, and present?:


    God Bless America, and our troops.

    But God have mercy on the GOP.

    I am a 20 year naval enlistee. I voted for President Bush.
    this latest read above has further fueled my frustration of this Iraq war. When Mr. Bush first said the war was over that was a terrible miscue. This war is tantamount to vietnam and in day of the American Revolution fighting England. You can not infuse Democracy in Iraq like England's tyannical policies to American Colonies. Yes our military wants to press the fight to the terrorist but this is not the way to do it by being occupiers, doing walking and vehicle convoy patrols exposing our troops to unnecessary exposure to IEDs and Suicide Bombers. This is one Black male person who heed the writing on the wall. Pull our forces out or back and let the Iraq government stand or fall on its own.

    Eugene in Hawaii

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    The key to peace is education, diplomacy, increasing trade, and building friendships.

    I am sure the US military is trying to build lasting frienships with the local residents and leaders beyond a handful of people. Key to their success is having not only great terror-fighting skills but also great public relations and interpersonal skills.

    Working against the US military are those who ignored the Bojinka alarm bells going off both before 9/11/01 and before 8/11/06. Thankfully the second plot was stopped in time.

    Ron Paul is the only candidate to adress this neglect with grit, honesty and courage. He exposed a cabal of Neo-cons who took control of foreign policy and matters of civil liberty - who in effect hid from the public the real catastrophic dangers we faced.

    Thanks to Ron Paul's efforts to educate us about the risk of Neocon policy, Americans began days before 8/11 to demand better security as the crisis in Lebanon worsened. Pleas to "Stop the Bojinka Plotters Today" began appearing on the internet as well as reminders that 9/11 was only half the original plot. Three days later, British authorities rused to pull the plug on the Trans-atlantic Bojiinka plotters.

    Atleast one investigator was confused however.thinking it was pre-mature as they were told only a test run was coming that weekend. And if hadn't been just a test run, what then?

    Is there any doubt anymore that this occupation was for oil: an industry that funds Bush his gangs. I don't know why should american people suffer for Bush. Because of this war, per head debt has skyroketed. Out economy is going down, hate america campaign has increased many folds, we are now isolated in the world etc.

    How to get out of it? Bush should be replaced by a Democrat. He is a liar and any one who supports him should not be allowed to continue his policies.

    Come on people... We pull out of Iraq, Al Qaeda establishes, a firm base. US troops and 'local allies' are the only ones fighting them on the ground right now. And those local Iraqi sheiks would not have a leg to stand on and would have to abide to threat of mass murder in Anbar, and up north. US made this mess. This war let Al Qaeda establish a foothold in Iraq. Now it's up to US to address that threat and to make Iraqis capable of standing up to it, before leaving.
    Meanwhile, the situation on the primary battleground of Afghanistan, deteriorates each day with Taliban and Al Qaeda slowly gaining the upper hand in some regions, by threat of massacres and mass murder, while there isn't nearly enough coalition combat troops on the ground to both address this threat and prevent Taliban financing through opium and hash trade. Who(Taliban) do this, while taking over border kishlaks, and ambushing allied troops in the mountains as well as attacking certain bases en masse. Something has to be done. But with Iraq, as it is, nothing can be done, by US and is unlikely to be done by allies, many of which are mostly good weather friends. I do not see how, the incoming administration, be it Democratic or Republican can address this issue. Pull out of Iraq will result in AQ bases and conflict escalation between Shia and Sunnis. And Saudis will go in on behalf of SUnnis and Iran on behalf of Shia.. And if they fight, oil fields get bombed, tankers get sunk. Gas prices at the pump over $60 a gallon. You think the next administration will not go back in?

    We should be in afghanisstan. We were attacked from there. With that said, I hasten to add that we cannot win a war against the Pashtuns. They are trained to be fighters at an early age. Also, they make their own weapons. Therefore, we must find a way to get them on our side. One way to do this is to enter into protracted negotiations with them until we figure out what is workable and what is not.

    With respect to "nearly three-decade Cold War" between US and Iran, one needs to mention the brief naval battles in the 80s during which Iran lost 2/3 of its naval fleet in the Persian Gulf. That certainly cannot be characterized as Cold War. Indeed, professor Boyle of University of
    Illinois has stated a number of times that the Reagan administration unofficially declared war on Iran (based on common International law) and indeed prosecuted it for a short time.

    Another interesting point in US allegations against IRI that I find interesting is the insistence that Shia militia are trained by Hezbollah in Iran. This can certainly be done but why Iran would not take the lead in training on its soil? Afterall, Hezbollah itself is trained by
    Iran (So it is claimed). IRAN may be guilty of some mischief but the Pentagon's framing of the situation is just too convenient and borders propaganda.

    The reason many people do not trust the allegations against Iran is that this administration has no problem with lying to the American people. Many of the "intelligence failures" discussed in the media were outright lies told to the public. That anyone would believe any of the claims made by this administration astounds me.

    What I find striking is the fact that so many war supporters continue to BELIEVE that Saddam still posed a threat to the world--this time insinuating that he supposedly killed *millions* of his own people--an assertion not born out by fact, but more on simple ignorance of the truth and historical accounts.

    But they still believe that this is worth the cost of 4000 of our troops, upwards to $3T dollars of our own tax-paying monies, and anywhere between 600,000 to 1 million dead Iraqis--with triple that number displaced by war.

    It's not just our intelligence failures which is the root cause of this mismanaged and bungled conflict, but old Cold War fears that we still have a duty to rid the world of those so-called *evil* regimes.

    And replace them not with democracy in mind, but extended US capitalism and control of the region--so that powerful corporations like Halliburton can continue to screw the American taxpayer of tens of millions of dollars in ill-gotten profit.

    This is what the war in Iraq is all about: CORPORATE GREED.

    Combined with outdated and fixed intelligence, we can pretty much start any war we wish--and Corporate America is going to profit from it. And future GOP Presidents are going to continue to assert that a country the size of California or Texas poses a real-time danger to our nation's shores and security interests--just to get the greed machine running.

    And supporters for Bush and McCain, and people following them--will continue to eat it up with a spoon; while blind to the facts and reality around them.

    And who pays for these follies? Not just our American military, but everyone whom has to pay for this debacle.

    Except for the rich, the wealthy, and the powerful movers and shakers.


    Saturday, March 22, 2008



    Patrick Cockburn: This is the war that started with lies, and continues with lie after lie after lie

    RAMZI HAIDAR/AFP/Getty Images

    A US Marine drapes a flag over the face of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad on 9 April 2003

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      Bush Ignores Intelligence; Iterates the Same Old Lies

      Iran a Nuclear Threat, Bush Insists

      By Robin Wright

      President Bush said Thursday that Iran has declared that it wants to be a nuclear power with a weapon to "destroy people," including others in the Middle East, contradicting the judgments of a recent U.S. intelligence estimate.

      To view the entire article, go to

      Iran a Nuclear Threat, Bush Insists

      Experts Say President Is Wrong and Is Escalating Tensions

      In an interview intended to reach out to the Iranian public Thursday, President Bush said Iran has declared it wants to be a nuclear power with a weapon to "destroy people."

      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Friday, March 21, 2008; Page A14

      President Bush said Thursday that Iran has declared that it wants to be a nuclear power with a weapon to "destroy people," including others in the Middle East, contradicting the judgments of a recent U.S. intelligence estimate.

      The president spoke in an interview intended to reach out to the Iranian public on the Persian new year and to express "moral support" for struggling freedom movements, particularly among youth and women. It was designed to stress U.S. support for Iran's quest for nuclear energy and the prospects that Washington and Tehran can "reconcile their differences" if Iran cooperates with the international community to ensure that the effort is not converted into a weapons program.

      But most striking was Bush's accusation that Iran has openly declared its nuclear weapons intentions, even though a National Intelligence Estimate concluded in December that Iran had stopped its weapons program in 2003, a major reversal in the long-standing U.S. assessment.

      "They've declared they want to have a nuclear weapon to destroy people -- some in the Middle East. And that's unacceptable to the United States, and it's unacceptable to the world," Bush told U.S.-funded Radio Farda, which broadcasts into Iran in Farsi.

      Experts on Iran and nuclear proliferation said the president's statement was wrong. "That's as uninformed as [Sen. John] McCain's statement that Iran is training al-Qaeda. Iran has never said it wanted a nuclear weapon for any reason. It's just not true. It's a little troubling that the president and the leading Republican candidate are both so wrong about Iran," said Joseph Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation.

      Others said it is unclear whether the president believes what he said or was deliberately distorting Iran's position.

      "The Iranian government is on the record across the board as saying it does not want a nuclear weapon. There's plenty of room for skepticism about these assertions. But it's troubling for the administration to indicate that Iran is explicitly embracing the program as a means of destroying another country," said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran specialist at the State Department until last year and now at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center.

      National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Bush was referring to previous Iranian statements about wiping Israel off the map. "The president shorthanded his answer with regard to Iran's previously secret nuclear weapons program and their current enrichment and ballistic missile testing," Johndroe said.

      In two interviews beamed into Iran, Bush expressed deep respect for Iranian history and culture. In a second interview with the Voice of America's Persian News Network, Bush said: "Please don't be discouraged by the slogans that say America doesn't like you, because we do, and we respect you."

      But analysts warned that Bush's statement on Iran's nuclear intentions could escalate tensions when U.S. strategy for the first time in three decades is to persuade Iran to join international talks in exchange for suspending its uranium enrichment, a process used for peaceful nuclear energy that can be converted for use in a weapons program. "The bellicose rhetoric from one side only produces the same from the other," Maloney said.

      Signaling further pressure on Tehran, the administration also issued a warning on Thursday to U.S. financial institutions about the dangers of doing business with Iranian banks because of inadequate checks on money laundering and the growing risks to the international financial system posed by Iran's financial sector. "The government of Iran disguises its involvement in proliferation and terrorism activities through an array of deceptive practices," the Treasury Department said.

      The advisory lists 59 major banks or their branches in cities such as Athens, Hong Kong, London and Moscow. It includes Iran's Central Bank and covers many banks not facing sanctions from the United Nations or the United States.

      The Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said that Iran's Central Bank and commercial banks started asking that their names be removed from global transactions to make it more difficult for intermediary financial institutions to determine their true identity or origin.

      The United States recently imposed new restrictions on dealings with Bahrain-based Future Bank, which is controlled by Iran's Bank Melli.

      "Over the past eight days, the U.S. government has undertaken a number of steps to put Tehran on notice that the international community will not allow the Iranian government to misuse the international financial system or global transportation network to further its aspirations to obtain nuclear weapons capability, improve its missile systems, or support international terrorism," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a statement.

      Staff writers Michael Abramowitz and William Branigin contributed to this report.

      © 2002 - 2006 The Washington Post Company


      Article: Mission still not accomplished


      Mission still not accomplished
      The New York Times
      Thursday, March 20, 2008

      It has been five years since the United States invaded Iraq and the world watched in horror as what seemed like a swift victory by modern soldiers and 21st-century weapons became a nightmare of spiraling violence, sectarian warfare, insurgency, roadside bombings and ghastly executions.

      Iraq's economy was destroyed, and America's reputation was shredded in the torture rooms of Abu Ghraib, Guant�namo Bay and the CIA's secret prisons.

      These were hard and very costly lessons for a country that had emerged from the Cold War as the world's sole remaining superpower. President George W. Bush seems to have learned none of them.

      In a speech on Tuesday, the start of the war's sixth year, Bush was stuck in the Never-Never Land of his "Mission Accomplished" speech. In his mind's eye, the invasion was a "remarkable display of military effectiveness" that will be studied for generations. The war has placed the nation on the brink of a great "strategic victory" in Iraq and against terrorists the world over.

      [the "War President" has delusions about his great legacy and the glorious history of his achievements. He lives in this fantasy and excludes reality.]

      Even now, Bush talks of Iraqi troops who "took off their uniforms and faded into the countryside to fight the emergence of a free Iraq" - when everyone knows that the American pro-consul, L. Paul Bremer, overrode Bush's national security team and, with the president's blessing, made the catastrophically bad decision to disband the Iraqi army and police force.

      Bush wants Americans to believe that Iraq was on the verge of "full-blown sectarian warfare" when he boldly ordered an escalation of forces around Baghdad last year. In fact, sectarian warfare was raging for months while Bush refused to listen to the generals, who wanted a new military approach, or to the vast majority of Americans, who just wanted him to end the war.

      All evidence to the contrary, Bush is still trying to make it seem as if Al Qaeda in Iraq was connected to the Al Qaeda that attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001. He tried to justify an unjustifiable war by ticking off benefits of deposing Saddam Hussein, but he somehow managed to forget the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

      Vice President Dick Cheney was equally deep in denial on Monday when he declared at news conference in Baghdad that it has all been "well worth the effort."

      [WA: Cheney wasn't in denial. He cares nothing for American deaths and wounded, and less than nothing for the plight of the Iraqis. It has been "well worth the effort" because of the profits Halliburton has made and the profits made by the Industrial Complex and other war profiteering companies.]

      Tell that to the families of nearly 4,000 Americans who have been killed - far too many of them because Bush and his arrogantly incompetent secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, failed to plan for an insurgency that many others saw coming. Thousands more Americans have been wounded and deprived of adequate post-conflict care, while Iraqis have died by the tens of thousands. More than 5 million have been driven from their homes.

      Add in a cost to the United States that some say could exceed $3 trillion, the new political opening created for Iran, the incalculable damage to America's reputation and the havoc wreaked on Iraqi society.

      Few lament Saddam Hussein's passing, but the war has left Iraq a broken country, made the United States more vulnerable, not safer and stretched the American military to a point that compromises its ability to fight elsewhere.

      The increase in American forces last year initially produced a steep decline in insurgent attacks. But the conflict has drifted into a stalemate with the levels of violence remaining constant, and unacceptably high, from November 2007 through early 2008, according to a Government Accountability Office report. As Cheney visited Iraq, a female suicide bomber killed 42 people.

      One of the cruelest ironies is that Iraqis have not taken advantage of the American troop surge, which was intended to create space for them to resolve their political differences. After much foot-dragging, they passed a 2008 budget and a law granting amnesty to thousands of Sunnis and others in Iraqi jails.

      But a law on sharing oil wealth is stalled and one aimed at allowing former Baathist Party members back into government may actually drive many out. Another bill, mandating provincial elections by October, was passed by parliament, then vetoed by the Presidency Council of Iraq's top leaders. Only after pressure from Cheney was it suddenly revived.

      The plight of Iraqis uprooted by violence is further proof of how broken the country is. Some 2.7 million Iraqis are displaced internally and another 2.4 million have fled as refugees, mostly to Syria and Jordan. That's nearly 20 percent of Iraq's prewar population - the kind of inconvenient truth the Bush administration would rather ignore.

      Although thousands of refugees returned to Iraq last year, most ended up leaving again because they did not feel secure. American, Iraqi and international aid to Iraqi refugees is insufficient, and many refugees, their savings depleted and barred from most jobs, are despairing, aid workers say. No one knows when - or if - they can ever return. Syria and Jordan generously allowed Iraqis in, but the huge numbers could destabilize both countries and fuel anti-America resentment.

      The United States agreed to admit a paltry 12,000 Iraqi refugees in fiscal year 2008; so far, only 2,000 have been processed.

      Brighter spots - Iraq's economy is projected to grow 7 percent this year - are offset by problems: Millions of Iraqis still don't have clean water and medical care, thousands are jobless and the Iraqi army, while improving, cannot defend the country on its own.

      [WA: The country is in shambles, orphaned children live on the streets or in abusive orphanages (except the ones in MILITIA SPONSORED ORPHANAGES which are clean, well funded and the children well cared for and educated in ISLAM) , life is hopeless and of grinding poverty and fear.]

      Bush and Cheney refuse to let these facts interfere with their benighted notion of keeping troops in Iraq indefinitely and insisting that Iraq - not Afghanistan or Pakistan where Al Qaeda and the Taliban have gained ground - must remain America's top priority.

      [WA:Bush and Cheney first said the "war on terror" would be about 75 years - remember? Indefinitely means forever - so the US and cohorts can retain control of the oil resources. We have remained in Korea for 50 years for whatever reason, so why not Iraq for longer for the oil?]

      It was clear long ago that Bush had no plan for victory, only a plan for handing this mess to his successor. Americans need to choose a president with the vision to end this war as cleanly as possible.

      [WA: It won't be Bomb-Bomb-Bomb-Iran McCain. Nor Bush- Clone Hilary nor Wall Street- Obama.]



      How the US Government Led America to War

      Click on url to access complete website. Watch video. Check out soundbites on right sidebar.


      Friday, March 21, 2008

      Families of Iraq Captives Cling to a Grisly Find
      Severed fingers delivered to the United States authorities in Iraq had been shown by DNA analysis to be those belonging to some of the missing.

      Families of Iraq Captives Cling to a Grisly Find

      Published: March 22, 2008

      For the families of five American contractors kidnapped in Iraq more than a year ago, the months of waiting with no news of their fate have made for a battle of hope against dread.

      This month has come news, of a sort: that severed fingers delivered to the United States authorities in Iraq had been shown by DNA analysis to be those of four of the missing Americans, and of an Austrian colleague of three of them.

      That finally broke the silence and, though grisly, offered some hope — “proof of life,” as the father of one of these four put it.

      Three of the four were employees of the same company, the Crescent Security Group, based in Kuwait, who were taken captive together, along with the Austrian and yet another American, in an ambush on Nov. 16, 2006. Crescent Security was under contract to Italy, and the men had been escorting an Italian convoy withdrawing from the country when they were seized near the southern city of Safwan by insurgents reportedly wearing Iraqi police uniforms.

      The fourth contractor linked to one of the fingers was a computer specialist for an information technology company, who was abducted in early 2007 near Basra.

      Some relatives of the security contractors saw a videotape of them that was issued by their captors in late 2006. And then nothing, only the yawning gulf of the wait, until now.

      “You seem to normalize your life, and then, all of a sudden, they come up with proof of life, and bang — you can’t sleep,” said Francis L. Cote, a Marine Corps veteran who lives in Getzville, N.Y., a Buffalo suburb.

      Mr. Cote’s son, Jonathon, 25 — a military man like the father, discharged in 2004 after four years in the Army — had arrived in Iraq to work for Crescent only a month before his disappearance.

      Patrick Reuben, a police officer in Minneapolis, said he had only recently resigned himself to the idea that his twin brother, Paul, 41, another of the Crescent contractors, was dead. Now, Mr. Reuben said, the DNA report has given him hope too, though in an interview he could not help slipping back and forth between the present and past tenses — his brother is, his brother was.

      In rural Roaring Springs, Tex., near Lubbock, Barbara Alexander said she had been thinking a lot about the days raising her son, Ronald J. Withrow, who was working in Iraq for the information technology company, JPI Worldwide, when he disappeared in January 2007.

      Living on only her modest salary as a beautician, Ms. Alexander said, she and her son had sometimes had nothing more than fried tortillas and hot sauce for dinner, seeing who could eat the most sauce before burning out. Then, as adults, their relationship became strained — a stupid fight, she said, between stubborn people — and now she has been writing letters to Mr. Withrow, 40, with pages piling up and nowhere to send them.

      For Mark Munns, a fishing pole and a tackle box seems to capture the sense of a life suspended. Mr. Munns and his son, Josh, 25, to whom DNA links the remaining finger, often fished together along a winding stretch of the Sacramento River in Anderson, Calif., near their home. The river teems with steelhead and other trout, but the fishing gear is stored away.

      “There are too many memories there right now,” said Mr. Munns, a retired UPS worker.

      But memory is just about all the families have to embrace for now.

      Mr. Munns recalled one of the last conversations with Josh, a former marine who had said he was going back to Iraq to earn some quick cash for a down payment on a house. He had his life planned out. He would become a police officer and be married.

      “ ‘Dad, I’m good at what I do,’ ” Mr. Munns recalled his son saying. “And I took him at his word.”

      That the fingers had been delivered to the American authorities and then linked by DNA samples to these four captives and their Austrian colleague, identified as Bert Nussbaumer, was first reported by The Washington Post, on March 13. An American official in Iraq subsequently confirmed as much.

      Mr. Cote, the father clinging to the development as proof of life, said he had watched the captors’ video of his son over and over.

      “I’m being treated well,” Jonathon Cote said on the tape. “I can’t be released until the prisoners from the American jails and the British jails are released.”

      Paul Reuben’s cousin, Carolyn Reuben, also sees the recovery of a severed finger as a hopeful sign. But it also means some terribly haunting questions.

      “Did this happen recently?” Ms. Reuben said. “Was he conscious when they did it? Did they make him watch? Did they give him a choice: ‘Do you want a finger or a toe?’ ”

      Ms. Alexander talked a lot about the fight with her son. It seems petty now, she said: a squabble over a car and a blown engine. But it led to a separation and silence lasting three years — time lost and now compounded by the months since Mr. Withrow’s disappearance.

      “I know that we can’t change what has been done, but we can always pick up whenever we see each other again, and not look back,” she said. “I want him to go ahead and come home. I want him to come home and stay with us. He’s welcome here any time of the day, no matter the hardship.”

      Reporting was contributed by Christina Capecchi in Minneapolis; Scott Jason in Anderson, Calif.; Gretel C. Kovach in Dallas; David Staba in Getzville, N.Y.; and Erica Goode in Iraq.



      US Troops Buy Own Safety Gear For Battle

      U.S. troops buy own gear for safety, style - Yahoo! News

      * news site expired

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