Sunday, April 02, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

Photographs of victims of a secret torture programme operated by British authorities during the early days of the cold war are published for the first time today after being concealed for almost 60 years.
The pictures show men who had suffered months of starvation, sleep deprivation, beatings and extreme cold at one of a number of interrogation centres run by the War Office in postwar Germany.
A few were starved or beaten to death, while British soldiers are alleged to have tortured some victims with thumb screws and shin screws recovered from a gestapo prison. The men in the photographs are not Nazis, however, but suspected communists, arrested in 1946 because they were thought to support the Soviet Union, an ally 18 months earlier.

Gareth noted the above from Ian Cobain's "Revealed: victims of UK's cold war torture camp" (Guardian of London). This is the entry where we focus on Iraq but this is an important news story and we'll start off with the issue of torture and then move to Iraq (institutionalized torture?). Gareth's ties the UK's use of torture in the past to Guantanamo Bay and steer us to
Declan Walsh's "Return my work, says Guantánamo poet:"

The Americans can't return the three years that Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost lost, locked in a cell in Guantánamo Bay. But they could at least give back his poetry.
"Please help," said Dost, who says he penned 25,000 lines of verse during his long imprisonment. "Those words are very precious to me. My interrogators promised I would get them back. Still I have nothing."
The lost poems are the final indignity for Dost, a softly spoken Afghan whom the US military flew home last year, finally believing his pleas of innocence.
Accused of being an al-Qaida terrorist, Dost had been whisked from his home in Peshawar, northern Pakistan, in November 2001. Five months later he was shackled, blindfolded and flown to Cuba. Wearing an orange jumpsuit and trapped inside a mesh cage, the Pashtun poet crafted his escape through verse. "I would fly on the wings of my imagination," he recalled. "Through my poems I would travel the world, visiting different places. Although I was in a cage I was really free."

Now we'll move to Iraq, the focus of this entry. What are things like for Iraqis? You'll never know by reading John F. Burns (among others). Christina notes Riverbend's "Uncertainty..." (Baghdad Burning):

WE all looked back at the morgue. Most of the cars had simple, narrow wooden coffins on top of them, in anticipation of the son or daughter or brother. One frenzied woman in a black abaya was struggling to make her way inside, two relatives holding her back. A third man was reaching up to untie the coffin tied to the top of their car.
"See that woman -- they found her son. I saw them identifying him. A bullet to the head."
The woman continued to struggle, her legs suddenly buckling under her, her wails filling the afternoon, and although it was surprisingly warm that day, I pulled at my sleeves, trying to cover my suddenly cold fingers.
We continued to watch the various scenes of grief, anger, frustration and every once in a while, an almost tangible relief as someone left the morgue having not found what they dreaded most to find- eyes watery from the smell, the step slightly lighter than when they went in, having been given a temporary reprieve from the worry of claiming a loved one from the morgue...

Riverbend's latest also notes that Iraqis are being told they can refuse house searches (and that they should), so read the entire thing. Life on the ground in Iraq. Vic notes what's going on in the air, "Two U.S. pilots die in helicopter crash in Iraq" (CBC):

Two American pilots died when their Apache helicopter crashed near Baghdad, probably as a result of enemy fire, U.S. military authorities said Sunday.
The helicopter went down about 5:30 p.m. Saturday during combat operations about 15 kilometres southwest of Baghdad, they said.

AFP (via Australia's ABC) reports that the American military has stated it believes that it was "hostile fire" that brought down the helicopter. More details of on the ground realities from "'Hostile fire' downs US helicopter in Iraq" (noted by Olive):

Twelve Iraqis were killed in violence on Sunday, while insurgents blew up a Shiite mosque north-east of Baghdad as sectarian tensions festered in the country, still without a government nearly four months after a key national election.
An American soldier died near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, northern Iraq, and the other was killed in combat in the restive western province of Al-Anbar.
North of the capital, rebels killed three Shiites from a family heading to Balad Ruz in search of their son who had been kidnapped the day before, police say. Near Baquba, also to the north, insurgents filled a small Shiite mosque with explosives and blew it to pieces at 3:00am local time on Saturday, police say.

More on this weekend comes from Lynda's highlight -- "US helicopter 'shot down' in Iraq" (Al Jazeera):

The US command said two soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb late on Saturday in central Baghdad and another died from non-hostile related injuries suffered near Kirkuk in northern Iraq on the same day.

That's the violence on the ground, the violence bred by the illegal occupation. So is the occupation ending? Not if those in charge have any say. James in Brighton notes
Andrew Buncombe's "US and UK forces establish 'enduring bases' in Iraq" (Independent of London):

The Pentagon has revealed that coalition forces are spending millions of dollars establishing at least six "enduring" bases in Iraq - raising the prospect that US and UK forces could be involved in a long-term deployment in the country. It said it assumed British troops would operate one of the bases.
Almost ever since President Bush claimed an end to "major combat operations" in Iraq on 1 May 2003, debate has focused on how quickly troops could be withdrawn. The US and British governments say troops will remain in Iraq "until the job is done". Yet while the withdrawal of a substantial number of troops remains an aim, it has become increasingly clear that the Pentagon and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are preparing to retain some forces in Iraq for the longer term. The US currently has around 130,000 troops in Iraq; Britain has 8,000.

Permanent bases? And the war drags on.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, when we noted the American military fatality count, it stood at 2322. This Sunday? 2332. The war drags on and on. For how long? That's up to us. It's not up to the politicians or Bully Boy (though if they have their way, it will be as permanent as the bases). They think it is. They think they because they sold the public on an illegal war, they can sneer "cut and run" or other nonsense and the people will go along with this nonsense (illegal nonsense). That's not the way it works. They think they've put one over on us and that we're all now post post-Vietnam syndrome. The "syndrome" that worried them. That made them think America no longer had the "will" to fight.

Americans have plenty of "will" and we've seen at demonstration after demonstration. Americans, British, French, Germans, Irish, Australians, people all over the world are demonstrating that they have the strength to say "no." The numbers need to continue to mulitply (and they will).

If you're in the midst of a bank robbery, is it cutting and running to stop? Because this war is an illegal war. It's a crime and stopping it is the only answer. The criminals running the war, the ones who lied us into the war, want to continue their crime spree. Stopping a crime is not "cutting and running." It's doing the right thing.

Silence, suffering from "War Got Your Tongue?" or otherwise going along with an illegal war, is
taking part in the crime, being an accomplice. Specific crimes are noted in Mia's highlight,
David Lindorff's "A Strategy of Massacres" (CounterPunch):

Because the Bush administration has no intention of leaving Iraq, particularly in the hands of its elected Shi'ia-led leadership.
Note also that the Iraqi "government," supposedly sovereign (remember all that talk of handing over sovereignty two years ago?), is asking the US to turn over control of security in the country to it, not telling it to. Note also that Bush and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq have told the country's Shi'ia leaders that they don't want the elected prime minister-designate, Ibrahim al-Jafari, to be prime minister.
Some sovereignty!
The truth is that the U.S. is running Iraq from the giant U.S. Embassy compound in the Green Zone, and the Iraqi "government" remains a puppet regime. The truth is also that the U.S. has been spending billions of dollars not on Iraq reconstruction, which in any case is not being phased out if it ever was being attempted, but on building several large, permanent military bases inside Iraq, from which the U.S. has no intention of budging in the foreseeable future. (Want to guess where some of that "missing" $9 billion in U.S. reconstruction money has really gone?).

What about the crime of making bucks, big bucks, off of the tragedy? While Iraqis, Americans, British and others pay for this war with their blood, what about the crime of raking in the cash off the suffering? Tracey (Ruth's granddaughter) notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Reconstruction Corruption Watch Part III" (The Notion, The Nation):

Last week, an Iraqi-American translator was arrested and charged with offering over $60,000 in bribes to win a $1 million contract for providing flak jackets and other equipment to Iraqi police officers.
According to the
New York Times, it is believed that Faheem Mousa Salam of Livonia, Michigan, was acting on behalf of others and that more arrests will be made. Mr. Salam was employed by the Titan Corporation, a division of the L-3 Government Services Group.
The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., was quoted as saying that this kind of fraud is limited to "... just a few individuals who took advantage of a chaotic situation early on."
This statement further highlights the need for a bipartisan Independent War Profiteering Commission.

Crimes all around in this illegal war. What's the answer? It's obvious and Doug notes Ron Jacobs' "Leaving Iraq Now is the Only Sensible Solution" (CounterPunch):

Coherent. That's the one word review of Anthony Arnove's latest book, Iraq:The Logic of Withdrawal. Incoherent. That's what Washington's policy in Iraq seems to be. What makes Arnove's book so important is that he dissects that policy and proves that the war in Iraq is not an incoherent bumble that's gone awry. In fact, as Arnove makes abundantly clear, it's US foreign policy as it's always been. This remains the case even in the light of Condoleeza Rice's admission of thousands of tactical errors. After all, Ms. Rice didn't admit that the war itself was an error, only the manne in which it is fought.
As the war drags interminably on and people continue to die, the antiwar movement in the US is still fumbling around questions of timetables and demands. One element of the movement has hitched itself to the progressive wing of the Democratic party--a connection that has stifled that element's ability to make the only reasonable demand an antiwar movement can make: Get out of Iraq now and bring the occupying troops home. The rest of us in the movement continue to make this demand, but seem to go unheard. Part of the reason for this lies in the fact that our allies do have those connections in the public mind to the Democrats, but the greater reason is our inability to mobilize the broader mass of the US public--a public that opinion polls tell us is overwhelmingly opposed to the continuation of the war.

It is the only solution. While the war mongers feed their own blood lust, we can resist, we can oppose and we can say no. Noting Zach's highlight from Thursday again (this time to cover Brandon Hughey), from NBC11's "U.S. Soldiers Head North To Seek Asylum: Canada Gave Asylum To Vietnam War Defectors:"

In July 2003, when Brandon Hughey was 17 years old, he was looking for a way to pay for college when he started basic training.
He also liked boot camp, but felt cut off from the world and from information about the war that he would soon be sent to fight in.
"When I got out of basic training, they had occupied the country for several months," Hughey said. "They had found no links to al-Qaida. (Sadaam's) military was weak and his weapons were all but nonexistent. We were basically the aggressor attacking a country that practically couldn't protect itself."
At Fort Hood, Hughey told his superiors he was having serious moral concerns about going to war. He asked for a discharge.
"They said there was no way they would be willing to cooperate with me, so I began to think that leaving the country was the only option," he said.
It didn't take long for Hughey to get a weekend leave. As soon as he did, he headed north.
And in March of last year, he crossed the border at Niagra Falls and traveled to Toronto, where he sought out immigration Attorney Jeffrey House.

Brandon Hughey said no. Last week, Josh Key was in the news for saying no as well.
Polly asked if we could note a different section from "US deserter 'shocked by abuses'" (BBC):

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Key said he was in Iraq when he realised the war was unjustified.
"The only people that were getting hurt was the innocent; that was innocent Iraqi people, as well as innocent soldiers."
On his return to the US, he told the army that he did not want to return, but was advised that he would face prison if he refused. It was then that he decided to desert.
"Before I went to Iraq, I was trained on how to escape terrorists. You learn to only go where crime is already at. You only go somewhere where who cares about a deserter if somebody is getting murdered every night. I went to Philadelphia," he said.
He spent 14 months in the city, before deciding to flee to Canada.
During the Vietnam war, more than 100,000 Americans went to the neighbour country to avoid the draft.

The third anniversary of the invasion wasn't the only to make your voice heard. It wasn't the only time to gather and speak out. Here's an upcoming event, Silence of the Dead, Voices of the Living's "Silence of the Dead, Voices of the Living: A Witness to End the War in Iraq" (Common Dreams):

Three Years After President Declares "End of Major Combat," Military Families and Veterans Unite to Remember Lives Lost in Ongoing Iraq War
Hundreds Gather on Washington's National Mall over Mother's Day Weekend to Honor and Mourn Thousands of Iraq War Casualties
Three years after President Bush first declared the “end of major combat operations in Iraq” thousands continue to die.
To urge Congress to halt the mounting death toll, organizations representing military families, veterans, Iraq war survivors and peace activists unite for Silence of the Dead, Voices of the Living, a march and procession on Saturday, May 13, at 11:30 a.m., on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
It’s designed to send a message to Congress: “Bring our troops home now.”
Iraq war veterans, survivors of previous wars, Iraqis and military families who lost loved ones will form a silent procession -- solemnly marching to mourn the lives lost. After the march, they will share personal stories and reflections on the tragic human cost of the Iraq war.
Silence of the Dead, Voices of the Living takes place under the backdrop of the American Friends Service Committee’s widely acclaimed traveling exhibition: Eyes Wide Open: The Human Cost of War, which will be on display at the National Mall, May 11 -- 14. Eyes Wide Open features a pair of combat boots for each U.S. military casualty in the Iraq war. The exhibit provides an engaging environment where visitors may pay respect to all lives lost in Iraq, reflect on their feelings about our involvement there, and take measure of the meaning of sacrifice. Everyone is invited.
A special tribute designed to commemorate the estimated 100,000 Iraqi civilians who have died reminds us of the story not often told -- the effects of war on the men, women and children of Iraq. The names of Iraqi civilians and U.S. service personnel killed in the war will be read daily.
While the Pentagon keeps no official tally of civilian deaths, war’s impact on the Iraqi people is tragic and real. A thought-provoking addition to the exhibition, based on the average number of U.S. military and Iraqi civilians killed per week in Iraq, will offer a stark, visual reminder of the lives that will be lost if the war continues.
WHAT: Silence of the Dead, Voices of the Living, a silent march and procession, featuring military families, veterans, Iraqi civilians and others who have borne the tragic human cost of the Iraq war
WHEN: May 13 at 11:30 a.m.
WHERE: National Mall, Washington, D.C.
WHY: Three years of war have taken a tremendous toll. More than 2,300 U.S. military personnel and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died. Silence of the Dead, Voices of the Living highlights a call for Congress to stop the war and end the U.S. military presence in Iraq.
Part of the American Friends Service Committee’s Eyes Wide Open: The Human Cost of War, on display May 11-14 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Sponsored by:
The American Friends Service Committee ( )
Gold Star Families for Peace ( )
Gold Star Families Speak Out ( )
Iraq Veterans Against the War ( )
Military Families Speak Out ( )
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows ( )
Veterans For Peace ( )
Vietnam Veterans Against the War ( )
For more information on Silence of the Dead, Voices of the Living, visit

Kayla noted that event. She wanted it noted that "Speaking out is the only answer unless you're 'fine' with an illegal war and all the costs being paid now and that will be paid in the future." On the topic of costs and the toll, Brady notes Bill Katovsky's "I've been in combat too long" ( which is an excerpt of Max Cleland's (which Salon is offering several excerpts of):

I find myself today, going on sixty-four, a washed-up, dried-up prune of a military veteran who has been thrown on the scrap heap of time and looking back wistfully and saying, "I wished I'd done more to prevent the current disaster in Iraq that's exactly mocking the first disaster in Vietnam that I was personally a part of."
I go to Walter Reed Hospital now for trauma counseling. For my own self. Because it never ends. I've got post-traumatic stress disorder. Didn't know I had it. Anxiety and fear and all that crap. And it never goes away. But you can submerge it into a higher cause like politics.
So here I am, back at Walter Reed, thirty-seven years later, dealing with the trauma of Vietnam. I never got the counseling back then. But I look down the hall, and it's still 1968. Seeing all these young Iraq War veterans blown up, missing arms and legs and eyes, I just can't stand it. It triggers all of my stuff from Vietnam. And these young men had the same grit and courage that we had going off to war. You go up to 'em, and say, "How ya doing, son?" "Fine, sir!" they answer. But years later, it will take its toll. They just don't know yet.
I'm seeing the full circle of the Vietnam experience. What's happening today is that a certain number of young Marines and Army guys are doomed to get killed and blown up and have missing arms and legs and eyes, and maybe they'll be on the phone twenty to thirty years later talking to some guy writing a book about them. I have seen this movie before. I'm terrified that I'm seeing Vietnam all over again in my lifetime.

On Thursday, Rebecca noted a broadcast of Flashpoints featuring speeches by Jeremy Schahill and Dahr Jamail. If you haven't already listened or if you have but are someone who prefers video, you can click here and watch it via Iraq Dispatches' link. Those who prefer to listen can go to Flashpoints or to KPFA's and go into the archives -- although Rebecca wrote of it Thursday, it's actually Wednesday's broadcast. If you go to any of the three (or all), please note there's no charge/fee to listen or to watch.

A number of e-mails note that Condi Rice went to Iraq. Of course she did. Easy press. She wasn't getting it in England. The coverage of her appearances were a political nightmare for an administration that wants to sell the lie that the illegal war is a popular one. Another big topic in the e-mails is the likely war on Iran. David notes "MoD denies Iran military meeting" (BBC):

Reports that military officers will meet government officials on Monday to discuss possible US-led military action against Iran have been denied.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said there was no truth whatsoever in the claims, made in the Sunday Telegraph.
BBC Defence Correspondent Paul Wood said US plans for a possible strike are thought to be at an advanced stage.
But US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the US was "committed" to dealing with Iran diplomatically.

From the mouth of Condi, so it must be true, right? And if we end up in a war will she next off an explanation with her infamous preface, "No one could have guessed . . ."? But Condi went to Iraq. Or fled to it. She cut and run from England. Why? It wasn't the feel-good trip she'd hoped for. Not a lot of press about how 'fashionable' her clothes were. A lot of press about how she wasn't all that popular with the British. Which brings us to our last highlight, Pru notes
"Protests to greet Condoleezza Rice" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

"The most unwelcome visit to Liverpool since Oswald Mosley came here in the 1930s," is how the Liverpool Echo newspaper described US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s visit to the city and Blackburn, planned for this week.
Oswald Mosley was the leader of the British Union of Fascists. Condoleezza Rice is one of the architects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is directly implicated in the horrific levels of death and destruction inflicted on those countries.
Anti-war activists in Liverpool and in Blackburn are outraged by her visit‚ organised by foreign secretary Jack Straw. They planned demonstrations for Friday and Saturday this week.
The campaign against Rice's visit to Liverpool has had instant success.
She was due to be entertained on Friday by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Following protests by the local anti-war movement, the well-known Liverpool poet Roger McGough, who was due to compere the performance, withdrew.
Mark Henzel says, "The Merseyside Stop the War Coalition is mobilising on all fronts to oppose this war criminal being wined, dined and entertained here.
"Rice is apparently a big fan of The Beatles so we produced T-shirts with 'Fab Four, Not War'. We donned orange jump suits for anti?Rice leafleting in town. Then it was up to the Philharmonic Hall, kneeling in front with hoods on for an embarrassing photo shoot for the chief exec!
"We have lobbied and addressed the council and organised a letter writing campaign. We campaigned to get the musicians, catering staff, waiters, and choir to follow Roger McGough and pull out."

For details of the protest go to
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