Wednesday, October 19, 2005

NYT: "Iraqis Begin Audit of Heavy 'Yes' Vote; May Take 3 Days" (Edward Wong)

Some Sunni Arab politicians are accusing the main Shiite and Kurdish parties of ballot-box stuffing, but representatives of those parties vehemently deny that. Mr. Lami said the commission was also scrutinizing complaints about voter rolls.
The vote count occurs in two stages. A preliminary count was done by local electoral officials after the polls closed Saturday evening. They marked up tally sheets that are now being sent to Baghdad. Then a review of the sheets will take place inside the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad, which houses the main offices of the electoral commission as well as the American Embassy and the headquarters of the Iraqi government.
Transport of the ballots to Baghdad was delayed Monday by a sandstorm that dropped a curtain of dust and grit over much of central Iraq. Helicopters and planes were grounded, and the Baghdad airport shut down.
Reports of violence across central and western Iraq emerged early Tuesday. The American military said two marines and four insurgents had been killed Monday in a firefight near the town of Rutba in Anbar Province, the heartland of the insurgency. A soldier was killed early Tuesday in Mosul by small-arms fire. In all, nearly 2,000 Americans have been killed in the war.

The above is from Edward Wong's "Iraqis Begin Audit of Heavy 'Yes' Vote; May Take 3 Days" in this morning's New York Times. (With "Khalid al-Ansary contributed reporting from Baghdad for this article, Sabrina Tavernise from Ramadi and Kirk Semple from Baquba.") Oh for the days when John F. Burns could write so straightforward. (And note, unlike Dexter Filkins, Wong's article isn't an op-ed attempting to pass for hard news.) For a Times' piece is actually quite strong.

In other news of Iraq, Brandon e-mails to note that Greg Palast had an article that's won a Project Censored Award -- "THE LOBBYIST OCCUPATION OF IRAQ 2006 PROJECT CENSORED AWARD WINNER" (

In his article "Adventure Capitalism," Greg Palast exposes the contents of a secret plan for "imposing a new regime of low taxes on big business, and quick sales of Iraq's banks and bridges--in fact, 'ALL state enterprises' -- to foreign operators." This economy makeover plan, he claims, "goes boldly where no invasion plan has gone before."
This highly detailed program, which began years before the tanks rolled, outlines the small print of doing business under occupation. One of the goals is to impose intellectual property laws favorable to multinationals. Palast calls this "history's first military assault plan appended to a program for toughening the target nation’s copyright laws."
It also turns out that those of us who may have thought it was all about the oil were mostly right. "The plan makes it clear that--even if we didn't go in for the oil--we certainly won't leave without it."
In an interview with Palast, Grover Norquist, the "capo di capi of the lobbyist army of the right," makes the plans even more clear when he responds, "The right to trade, property rights, these things are not to be determined by some democratic election." No, these things were to be determined by the Coalition Provisional Authority, the interim government lead by the U.S.
Before he left his position, CPA administrator Paul Bremer, "the leader of the Coalition Provisional Authority issued exactly 100 orders that remade Iraq in the image of the Economy Plan." These orders effectively changed Iraqi law.

The link will also provide you with an update on the above story.

Also on Iraq, we'll note Human Rights Watch's "Torture in Iraq" (The New York Review of Books):

Residents of Fallujah called them "the Murderous Maniacs" because of how they treated Iraqis in detention. They were soldiers of the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, stationed at Forward Operating Base Mercury (FOB Mercury) in Iraq. The soldiers considered this name a badge of honor.[2]
One officer and two noncommissioned officers (NCOs) of the 82nd Airborne who witnessed abuse, speaking on condition of anonymity, described in multiple interviews with Human Rights Watch how their battalion in 2003–2004 routinely used physical and mental torture as a means of intelligence gathering and for stress relief. One soldier raised his concerns within the Army chain of command for seventeen months before the Army agreed to undertake an investigation, but only after he had contacted members of Congress and considered going public with the story.
According to their accounts, the torture and other mistreatment of Iraqis in detention was systematic and was known at varying levels of command. Military Intelligence personnel, they said, directed and encouraged Army personnel to subject prisoners to forced, repetitive exercise, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness, sleep deprivation for days on end, and exposure to extremes of heat and cold as part of the interrogation process. At least one interrogator beat detainees in front of other soldiers. Soldiers also incorporated daily beatings of detainees in preparation for interrogations. Civilians believed to be from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) conducted interrogations out of sight, but not earshot, of soldiers, who heard what they believed were abusive interrogations.
All three soldiers expressed confusion on the proper application of the Geneva Conventions on the laws of armed conflict in the treatment of prisoners. All had served in Afghanistan prior to Iraq and said that contradictory statements by US officials regarding the applicability of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan and Iraq (see Conclusion) contributed to their confusion, and ultimately to how they treated prisoners. Although none were still in Iraq when we interviewed them, the NCOs said they believed the practices continue.
The soldiers came forward because of what they described as deep frustration with the military chain of command's failure to view the abuses as symptomatic of broader failures of leadership and respond accordingly. All three are active-duty soldiers who wish to continue their military careers. A fax letter, e-mail, and repeated phone calls to the 82nd Airborne Division regarding the major allegations in the report received no response.

Rod notes a scheduled topic for today's Democracy Now!:

Wednesday, October 19: Author Mike Davis joins us to discuss his new book,"The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu."

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