Thursday, January 27, 2005

Democracy Now!: Dahr Jamail on Iraq, William Arkin on the CIA; Katrina vanden Heuvel on The Power of Nightmares; Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching") focuses strongly on Iraq today. And that includes the recipient of "embedded in our hearts" in the year-in-review: Dahr Jamail.

Headlines for January 27, 2005

- U.S. Suffers Deadliest Day So Far in Iraq
- Report: U.S. & Iraq No Longer Control Parts of Baghdad
- UPI: U.S. Air Force Launches Flights Over Iran
- New Ed. Secretary Denounces PBS For Cartoon w/ Lesbians
- Pentagon's Douglas Feith To Retire
- Ex-Guantanamo Detainees Report 'Systematic Torture'
- Report: Global Warming Much Worse Than Thought

Chaos, Frustration and Extreme Violence as Iraq Readies for Elections

Violent attacks continue across Iraq just days before the scheduled Jan. 30 elections. We go to Baghdad to speak with independent journalist Dahr Jamail who says, "Most Iraqis feels that this violence and chaos that has become the norm in Iraq will only continue to increase after the lections occur."

Code Names: A Look Behind Secret U.S. Military Plans in the Middle East, Africa and at Home

We speak with military analyst, William Arkin, author of the new book Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs, and Operations in the 9/11 World. It identifies 3,000 once-secret code names and details the plans and missions they stand for. Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News describes the book as "perhaps the most concentrated act of defiance of official secrecy policies since Howard Morland wrote about the H Bomb Secret in the Progressive in 1979."

Katrina vanden Heuvel (editor, The Nation) highlights an important documentary series on her blog Editor's Cut (

Last week, the BBC re-broadcast a provocative documentary series which challenges the idea that Al Qaeda is the center of a uniquely powerful, unified and well-organized international terrorist conspiracy.

"The attacks on September 11th," according to the film's director Adam Curtis--one of Britain's leading documentary filmmakers--"were not the expression of a confident and growing movement. They were acts of desperation by a small group frustrated by their failure which they blamed on the power of America. It is also important," Curtis adds, "to realize that many within the Islamist movement were against this strategy." (This view accords with those held by terrorism experts--like Peter Bergen--who argue that Al Qaeda is largely a spent force that has changed from a tight-knit organization capable of carrying out 9/11 to more of an ideological threat with loose networks in many nations.)

The film also challenges other accepted articles of faith in the so-called war on terror, and documents that much of what we have been told about a centralized, international terrorist threat "is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicans. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services and the international media."

It's very well done and will make you think. If you haven't seen it, please visit Information Clearing House ( which has provided it since at least October. Scroll down to "video links" and look for "The Power of Nightmares."

And I know most of you already check Iraq Dispatches on your own with no heads up, let me point out that Dahr Jamail has a new post up today ( on the mood as the election looms:

With the "elections" just three days away, people are terrified. Families are fleeing Baghdad much as they did prior to the invasion of the country. Seeking refuge from what everyone fears to be a massive onslaught of violence in the capital city, huge lines of cars are stacked up at checkpoints on the outer edges of the city.

Policemen and Iraqi soldiers are trying to convince people to stay in the city and vote.

Nobody is listening to them.

Whereas Baghdad is filled with Fallujah refugees, now villages and smaller cities on the outskirts of Baghdad are filling up with election refugees.

Yet these places aren't safe either. In Baquba attacks on polling stations are a near daily occurrence. Mortar attacks are common on polling stations even as far south as Basra. A truck bomb struck a Kurdish political party headquarters in a small town near Mosul, killing 15 people, wounding twice that many. A string of car bombs detonated at polling stations in Kirkuk, which was already under an 8pm-5am curfew, killing 10 Iraqis.

Here in Baghdad, although the High Commission for Elections in Iraq has yet to announce their locations, schools which are being converted into polling stations are already being attacked.

Iraqis who live near these schools are terrorized at the prospect.

"They can block the whole city and people cannot move," says a man speaking to me on condition of anonymity, "The city is dead, the people are dead. For what? For these forced elections!"

He is angry and frustrated because his street is now blocked as he lives near a small yellow middle school that is going to be used as a polling station.

[Note this post has been edited to correct font errors when copying and pasting.]