A high-level intelligence assessment by the Bush administration concluded in early 2002 that the sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq was "unlikely" because of a host of economic, diplomatic and logistical obstacles, according to a secret memo that was recently declassified by the State Department.
Among other problems that made such a sale improbable, the assessment by the State Department's intelligence analysts concluded, was that it would have required Niger to send "25 hard-to-conceal 10-ton tractor-trailers" filled with uranium across 1,000 miles and at least one international border.
The analysts' doubts were registered nearly a year before President Bush, in what became known as the infamous "16 words" in his 2003 State of the Union address, said that Saddam Hussein had sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
The above is from Eric Lichtblau's "2002 Memo Doubted Uranium Sale Claim" in this morning's New York Times. In the article, Lichtblau informs you that in addition to Joseph Wilson's visit to Niger, Carlton W. Fulford Jr. was sent to Niger to determine whether the claim was true or not and his findings reflected Wilson's.
This was part of the 'product roll out' that whipped a nation into a war hysteria. The State of the Union address is a Constitutionally mandated address, one in which the president of the United States is under all obligations of the oath he or she swears to uphold. Add in that Tony Blair had been informed in the fall of 2002, by George Tenet, that the claim was dubious and it's probably a good thing that a certain Wilson attacker has moved on to the "education beat."
The war was based on lies. The lies were well known by the administration. As Paul Wolfowitz suggested to Vanity Fair, they went with the best spin they could. Bringing "democracy" to Iraq didn't fly because Americans weren't keen on seeing people killed for the Bully Boy's notion of (or The New Republic's for that matter) concept of "democracy." So instead, we were whipped into a hysteria of "mushroom clouds" and "nuclear threats" (possibly the same sort of hysteria they'll attempt with regards to Iran).
Blood on their hands. Blood of Iraqis (for which there is no official released count though it's obvious the Defense Department has long been keeping track in some manner of a body count), blood of Americans (2221 military fatalities is the offical count as I type this), blood of democracy, blood of the Constitution.
That's the reality and all the spin won't change the facts. Gareth notes Julian Borger's "Official US agency paints dire picture of 'out-of-control' Iraq" (The Guardian of London):
An official assessment drawn up by the US foreign aid agency depicts the security situation in Iraq as dire, amounting to a "social breakdown" in which criminals have "almost free rein".
The "conflict assessment" is an attachment to an invitation to contractors to bid on a project rehabilitating Iraqi cities published earlier this month by the US Agency for International Development (USAid).
The picture it paints is not only darker than the optimistic accounts from the White House and the Pentagon, it also gives a more complex profile of the insurgency than the straightforward "rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists" described by George Bush.
The USAid analysis talks of an "internecine conflict" involving religious, ethnic, criminal and tribal groups. "It is increasingly common for tribesmen to 'turn in' to the authorities enemies as insurgents - this as a form of tribal revenge," the paper says, casting doubt on the efficacy of counter-insurgent sweeps by coalition and Iraqi forces.
Meanwhile, foreign jihadist groups are growing in strength, the report said.
Gareth also notes Colin Blackstock's "Kidnappers threaten to kill US hostage" (also The Guardian):
Kidnappers threatened to kill the abducted US journalist Jill Carroll unless the Bush administration ordered the release of Iraqi women prisoners within 72 hours, according to a report on al-Jazeera television yesterday.
The station broadcast a brief, silent video in which the 28-year-old freelance reporter for the Christian Science Monitor appeared to be speaking directly to camera. An accompanying message gave the ultimatum on prisoners, a producer for the network said.
Wait, we're not done with Blackstone's article. Though the American mainstream media was never very concerned with the attack on the team attempting to get Giuliana Sgrena back to Italy, it's not over. From Blackstone's article:
It also emerged yesterday that Italian prosecutors plan to charge a US soldier with murder and attempted murder after an investigation into the shooting last year of an Italian secret service agent at a checkpoint in Iraq.
The thankfully cancelled 60 Minutes II did a whitewash on the Sgrena story, the Times wasn't too interested in it (and embarrased themselves) with their own coverage. Maybe they thought the story would just go away? 60 Minutes II is gone, the issues surrounding the attack on the caravan transporting Sgrena remain. (Nicola Calipari, for those who've forgotten, died in that attack.)
Will the Times tell you of the story? Not today. Possibly John F. Burns will write another embarrassing piece on it in a few more days. All the easy p.r. passing for soft porn don't change the fact that Burns reputation has become a muddle and he has only himself to blame for that. Go-Go Boys Gone Wild in the Green Zone do not, apparently, journalists make.
As Dahr Jamail noted last week in "Freedom in action" (Iraq Dispatches):
Despite rampant kidnappings, unemployment soaring to well over 50%, little electricity, no potable water and violence continuing unabated, Bush said, "The vast majority of Iraqis prefer freedom with intermittent power to life in the permanent darkness of tyranny and terror."
The security is so bad in Baghdad now that many people now don’t leave their homes unless it is absolutely necessary. Rampant abductions of Iraqis are symptomatic of the escalating lawlessness in Iraq which is of course aggravated by the political turmoil that has engulfed the country since the December 15 polls.
Iraqi officials say as many as 30 Iraqis a day are reported kidnapped in Baghdad. The abductions are part of the rising lawlessness accompanying the country's political turmoil/"freedom in action."
Nothing has changed with the kidnapping since my last trip to Baghdad. Many of the hostages are freed when the ransom demanded is paid by their families. Other times when the ransom is paid, as happened to a friend of my interpreter, the family received a call telling them they could pick up the body of their 16 year-old son at the morgue.
As noted on Sunday Salon with Larry Bensky Sunday, there's hostility from some in the mainstream press towards Dahr Jamail and "[i]t's because, in some cases, he makes people look stupid." (The quote's from David Enders.) That would be the embeds who parrot military press releases and have apparently staked so much of their reputations (such as they currently are) on a created narrative that they're unable to break from it now. They appear to be too young to remember that war truths come out. Being old enough to remember Ronald Reagan's semi-successfully stage-managed wars, they're of the mind that truth is something that can come out years from now and, as then, there will be a shrug and that's all. That's not the case here. Call it self-interest if you want, but this war's not one of Reagan's illegal adventures that can be seen as happening to "them." It's happening to "them" and "us." And the American people will remember the enablers.
Trina notes David Usborne's "Cronkite's Vietnam Moment: 'US Must Leave Iraq'" (The Indpendent via Common Dreams):
Walter Cronkite, the former network news anchor they called "the most trusted man in America", has added his voice to those calling for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, echoing an appeal he made in 1968 to President Lyndon Johnson to cut his losses in Vietnam.
It has been 25 years since Mr Cronkite, now 89, hard of hearing and slow of gait, has presided over the nightly news bulletins for CBS, but he is still employed by the network and his status as an affable and avuncular national sage is intact. So his comments, made at a gathering of television critics in California, will reverberate.
They came as the Democrat congressman John Murtha, who shocked the White House in November by advocating a withdrawal from Iraq, reiterated his stance and predicted that all US troops would be out by year's end.
Mr Cronkite was recording a documentary for CBS in 1968 about the Tet offensive in Vietnam when he took on board advice from his bosses in New York that he should conclude it with an unusual personal note. That was when he suggested that the US was in a stalemate in Vietnam and should get out. It was a moment that many older Americans still remember and has been shown to have been a turning point in ending the struggle. President Johnson reportedly turned to an aide at the time and said: "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America".
Engaged in a question and answer session at the critics' meeting, Mr Cronkite said he considered what he said on Vietnam as his proudest achievement. When a reporter asked him whether, given the chance, he would offer similar advice on Iraq, he did not even wait until the end of the question. "Yes," he said flatly. "It's my belief that we should get out now."
Lyle notes Haider Rizvi's "Women's Anti-War Petition Circles the Globe" (IPS):
Eminent female writers, artists, lawmakers and social activists in the United States are reaching out to women leaders across the world in an attempt to forge a global alliance against the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
A U.S.-based women's group has launched a global campaign to gather 100,000 signatures by Mar. 8, International Women's Day, when they will be delivered to the White House and U.S. embassies around the world.
"We are unleashing a global chorus of women's voices shouting, 'Enough!" said Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace, a California-based rights advocacy group that has spearheaded the global women's campaign, called "Women Say No to War".
"The administration is trying to get away with it (the war), but we won't let that happen," Jodie Evans of CODEPINK told IPS. "This campaign is amazing. This is bringing thousands of women together from across the borders -- this is creating something that we can't even see." Describing the initial response to the group's call for signatures as "overwhelming", Benjamin says that more than 200 high-profile women from various walks of life endorsed the campaign even before it was formally launched earlier this month. The signatories include popular film stars like Susan Sarandon, the playwright Eve Ensler and comedian Margaret Cho, and award-winning authors such as Alice Walkers, Anne Lamott, Maxine Hong Kingston and Barbara Ehrenreich.
"We, the women of the United States, Iraq, and women worldwide, have had enough of the senseless war in Iraq and cruel attack on civilians worldwide," reads the call. "We have buried too many of our loved ones. We have seen too many lives crippled forever...." "This is not the world we want for ourselves or for our children," it says. "With fire in our bellies and love in our hearts, we women are rising up -- across borders -- to unite and demand an end to the bloodshed and destruction."
Women Say NO to War!
We at CODEPINK, together with 200 prominent women from around the globe, have written our own Urgent Peace Plan to end the war in Iraq. From now until March 8, International Women’s Day, we will be gathering signatures to deliver to U.S. embassies worldwide. So join Alice Walker, Susan Sarandon, Margaret Cho, Dolores Huerta, Eve Ensler, Congresswomen Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, and Cynthia McKinney, Iraqi women from the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq and Women Living Under Muslim Laws, and many more (see initial endorsers) by signing the call today at www.womensaynotowar.org and passing it on to your friends..
What's it like if you're not in bed with the military? Ali Omar Abrahem al-Mashhadani, a journalist, was held for five months by Americna forces in Iraq. He's finally been released. From "Iraqi Journalist Tells His Story In American Prison" (MediaChannel.org), noted by Bonnie:
Until now I don’t know the reason behind my arrest they found photos in my camera, pictures of every day’s gun battle between the Americans and gunmen from Ramadi.
They took me and my brother a collage student who have nothing to do with the whole matter. They took me Abu-Ghraib and then they transferred me to Boka prison near Basra.
In their integration they asked questions about names and groups I have no connection with, they asked me if I have any connection with Hizb-Allah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Tawheed wal-Jihad in Iraq, Islamic army or "the Green Army" which I never heard about.
The integrators didn’t hide their irritation on journalists in Iraq, especially Iraqi journalists behavior who always reports about gun fights but not on the Americans achievements in Iraq.
They didn’t hesitate to tell me "if there are two men, one of them holding a camera and another holding a R.P.G, their instructions will be to shoot the man with the camera first.
There's a moment in the film Black Widow that the Go Go Boys Gone Wild in the Green Zone might want to pay attention to. Cocky and confident, assured that she's yet again gotten away with deceit, Theresa Russell bemoans the "fact" that it's over. "The truth is," Debra Winger informs her, "it's not over." Go Go Boys might want to study that moment (with or without their army of bodyguards). It'll help them prepare for what's coming.
Rod passes on today's scheduled topics for Democracy Now!:
* Eugene McCarthy and his significance
* Haiti and the role of the US-funded National Endowment for Democracy
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