THE American military is planning a "second liberation of Baghdad" to be carried out with the Iraqi army when a new government is installed.
Pacifying the lawless capital is regarded as essential to establishing the authority of the incoming government and preparing for a significant withdrawal of American troops.
Strategic and tactical plans are being laid by US commanders in Iraq and at the US army base in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, under Lieutenant-- General David Petraeus. He is regarded as an innovative officer and was formerly responsible for training Iraqi troops.
The battle for Baghdad is expected to entail a "carrot-and-stick" approach, offering the beleaguered population protection from sectarian violence in exchange for rooting out insurgent groups and Al-Qaeda.
The above is from Sarah Baxter's "US plots 'new liberation of Baghdad'" (Times of London) and Polly noted it. (And a wonderful Polly's Brew Sunday morning -- in case anyone didn't check their inboxes.) There are so many aspects to the above highlight. How about what is seen (by the occupiers) as the benefits that come to the illegal occupation from the violence? Let's note Marci's highlight -- Brian Conley's "United States Illegally Funding Shi’a Militias?" (Alive in Baghdad):
I've suggested recently that the Shi'a militias, read: Deathsquads, have been directly supported by the Bush Administration and the United States military, despite professed intentions to secure Iraq and establish a tolerant democracy.
Although I believe this is self-evident to anyone who has been to Iraq and talked to people on the streets and followed the evidence, there have been some questions from readership regarding direct evidence.
Well, today it came out with a vengeance. The Chicago Tribune reports that:
U.S. officials are doling out millions of dollars of arms and ammunition to Iraqi police units without safeguards required to ensure they are complying with American laws that ban taxpayer-financed assistance for foreign security forces engaged in human-rights violations, according to an internal State Department review.
This is statistical, hard evidence for exactly the actions I and Iraqis I speak with regularly, have been claiming for months.
So that's one aspect of the story. Another aspect is the pretty word "pacification" which is never as pretty as it sounds. Karen notes Chris Floyd's "Dead Cities" (Moscow Times):
Of all the war crimes that have flowed from the originating crime of President George W. Bush's unprovoked invasion of Iraq, perhaps the most flagrant was the destruction of Fallujah in November 2004. Now, as ignominious defeat looms for Bush's Babylonian folly, some of the key players in fomenting the war are urging that the "Fallujah Option" be applied to an even bigger target: Baghdad.What these influential warmongers openly call for is the "pacification" of Baghdad: a brutal firestorm by U.S. forces, ravaging both Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias in a "horrific" operation that will inevitably lead to "skyrocketing body counts," as warhawk Reuel Marc Gerecht cheerfully wrote last week in the ever-bloodthirsty editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal. Gerecht's war whoop quickly ricocheted around the right-wing media echo chamber and gave public voice to the private counsels emanating from a group whose members now comprise the leadership of the U.S. government: The Project for the New American Century.
[. . .]
You think that's a joke, but it's not. One of Gerecht's main reasons for "pacifying" Baghdad in a hydra-headed war on every ethnic faction is because "the U.S. media will never write many optimistic stories about Iraq if journalists fear going outside" the city's fortified Green Zone. There you have the Bushist vision in a nutshell. The war is not actually happening in the real world, where real people are dying by the tens of thousands; no, it's really being fought on the monitors of Fox News, CNN and NBC, in the flimsy pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post, and on the overheated airwaves of talk radio. Baghdad must be pacified -- like Grozny, like Guernica -- so that Americans can see a few more peppy stories on the tube on their way to the ballgame or the mall.The fate of Fallujah provides a template of the grim fate awaiting Baghdad if Gerecht and the government P-Nackers have their way. Fallujah was encircled in a ring of iron; water, electricity and food supplies were cut off, a flagrant war crime. The city was bombed for eight weeks, then hit by an all-out ground attack with both conventional and chemical weapons -- white phosphorous and napalm -- that killed thousands of civilians and left more than 200,000 homeless. Among the first targets were Fallujah's hospitals and clinics, another flagrant war crime. Some were destroyed, killing doctors and patients alike, others seized and closed, all in order to prevent any stories about civilian casualties from reaching the Western media, the Pentagon's "information warfare" specialists told The New York Times. Once again, manufactured image trumped bloodstained reality.
It is Falluja. But for a different reason. Falluja was a show of force to impress reporters (among other things). That's why some of the embeds were present. The November elections had happened (prior to them Falluja had to be placed on hold) and it was time for feel-good moments which were provided by 'rah-rah' reporting by the 'trusted' sources that the military knew or suspected would cheerlead the war. We'll get back to that later. But what's going on now is to keep the press in their little area (the equivalent of the 'protest pens' in Boston) and make sure they don't get too talkative. Can't have the first hand stories about "I had to leave Baghdad! The US has lost its tiny foothold! It is over!" While other areas of the country refused 'pacification' the embeds could always tell you about life in happy Baghdad, behind the Bremer walls, in the Green Zone, with military patrols and/or security guards. "Curfew shall not ring to-night!" should be the title of the 'plan.' How bad are things? Charles Levinson reports (Christian Science Monitor) that the occupied forces are now rounding up and secluding Iraqi interpreters (that have been working with the military Levinson uses the term "isolating") as the 'trust' factor takes another hit.
"Pacification"? Olive notes "Civilians targeted in latest Iraq violence" (AFP via Australia's ABC):
A pre-dawn raid by the US military on a suspected Al Qaeda hideout south-west of Baghdad also left five alleged insurgents and a woman dead.
Second month of the fourth year of the "cakewalk."
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, the American military fatality count in Iraq was 2350. Right now? 2376. Marcus asked that we note that twice: 2376. (46 for the month of April.)
Iraqi deaths? From Dahr Jamail and and Arkan Hamed's "Baghdad Morgue Overflowing Daily" (IPS via Iraq Dispatches):
Several surveys have pointed to large numbers of civilian deaths as a result of the U.S.-led occupation.
Iraqiyun, a humanitarian group affiliated with the political party of interim president Ghazi al-Yawir reported Jul. 12 last year that there had been 128,000 violent deaths since the invasion. The group said it had only counted deaths confirmed by relatives, and that it had omitted the large numbers of people who simply disappeared without trace..
Another group, the People's Kifah, involved hundreds of academics and volunteers in a survey conducted in coordination with "grave-diggers across Iraq." The group said it also "obtained information from hospitals and spoke to thousands of witnesses who saw incidents in which Iraqi civilians were killed by U.S. fire."
The project was abandoned after one of the researchers was captured by Kurdish militiamen and handed over to U.S. forces. He was never seen again. But in less than two months' work, the group documented about 37,000 violent civilian deaths up to October 2003.
The Baghdad central morgue alone accounts for roughly 30,000 bodies annually. That is besides the large number of bodies taken to morgues in cities such as Basra, Mosul, Ramadi, Kirkuk, Irbil, Najaf and Karbala.
And the body count continues, Lynda notes "Attacks across Iraq leave many dead" (Al Jazeera):
At least 24 people have died in two car bomb attacks and two shootings in Iraq.
In the deadliest incident at least eight people were killed after a car bomb exploded near a market in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, police sources said.
Earlier, at least four people died and several were wounded after a car bomb went off next to a minibus in Baghdad's Kamaliyah neighbourhood.
In Baquba, north of Baghdad, gunmen fired on a minibus, killing five passengers and injuring four, police said.
Seven labourers in the northern city of Mosul were killed by unidentified gunmen, possibly because they worked for the police department, local police said.
As the body count rises for all (including England -- which saw the death of another soldier last week), Bully Boy ansty to start another war. Gareth notes Brian Whitaker's "Leaders call for calm over Iran's nuclear ambitions" (Guardian of London):
World leaders, as well as Americans close to the Bush administration, called for calm over Iran's nuclear programme yesterday amid persistent reports that the US is considering a military attack.
In his Easter message from the Vatican, Pope Benedict spoke of "international crises linked to nuclear power" and urged: "May an honourable solution be found for all parties, through serious and honest negotiations." UN secretary general Kofi Annan also cautioned against a rush towards confrontation, saying that military action against Iran would only worsen an already tense situation.
"I think the issue is being handled properly by the International Atomic Energy Agency," Mr Annan said in an interview with Spanish newspaper ABC. "I still believe that the best solution is a negotiated one, and I don't see what a military operation would resolve. I hope that a negotiating spirit prevails and that the military option is just fruit of speculation."
Perhaps more significantly for the Bush administration, there were also warnings from several prominent figures in the US.
Republican senator Richard Lugar urged less haste in taking action against Iran and suggested direct talks between Washington and Tehran "would be useful". Mr Lugar, who is chairman of the influential senate foreign relations committee, told ABC TV there was a need "to make more headway diplomatically".
Gareth asks that everyone read the above carefully and then compare it to war pornographer Michael Gordon's "news analysis" that we addressed this morning. When the loins grow itchy with blood lust, the war pornographers don't report reality, they attempt to shape it (gotta' get that quick fix!).
Staying on the topic of Iraq and Iran for the next few highlights. First up (and we're including an announcement of an event as the bottom of the excerpt), Brent notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "The Generals Revolt" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):
Batiste. Eaton. Newbold. Riggs. Zinni….Is there a retired general left in the States who hasn't called on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to fall on his sword? While The Nation suggested he resign in April, 2003, an unanticipated and unprecedented cast of characters has joined the growing chorus.
Maj. Gen. John Batiste (US Army, Ret.) is the latest in a line of top military brass to ask the embattled Rumsfeld to step down. As the Washington Post reported Thursday, Batiste said, "It speaks volumes that guys like me are speaking out from retirement about the leadership climate in the Department of Defense."
[. . .]
As the spirited site Buzzflash.com put it this morning, "It's not that Rumsfeld's resignation would alone begin to turn this nation back from being run by the crew of the Titanic, but it would restore hope that there is some accountability for the disastrous failure in performance by our one-party Republican government."
I would simply add--there must also be accountability for misleading a nation into an unprovoked, unnecessary and unlawful war that has become a political, moral and military catastrophe.
Nation Event Note
The Nation is visiting Yale University on Wednesday, April 26, 2006. Click here for details on a free public event, sponsored by the Roosevelt Institute, featuring Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel.
And Dallas (as well as three others, Dallas was first) have noted a new BuzzFlash editorial "What We Have Going on Amidst the Generals -- Present and Former -- is a Mutiny. It's Not An Armed One, Not Yet:"
What we have going on amidst the generals, present and former, is a mutiny. It's not an armed one, not yet.
When most Americans think of a mutiny, they think of armed crew members seizing the captain and taking over command of a ship, as in the famed "Mutiny on the Bounty."
But, what we are seeing in the United States is a public rebuke of the commander-in-chief, his vice president and his secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, without an active military revolt as of yet -- although that can't be ruled out.
Rounding out the topic is something we've had e-mails on. Members want to read it but have had the worst time reading it. (In full.) Brenda thinks she's found it online at full (it ran in The Guardian but no one's had luck finding it there -- a portion appears at the main page of Greg Palast's web site but the 'continue reading' link takes you to a nonactive page). So, thanks to Brenda, here's an excerpt from Greg Palast's "DESERT RATS LEAVE THE SINKING SHIP: WHY RUMSFELD SHOULD NOT RESIGN" (and the link takes you to what we're hoping is the full piece):
Well, here they come: the wannabe Rommels, the gaggle of generals, safely retired, to lay siege to Donald Rumsfeld.
This week, six of them have called for the Secretary of Defense's resignation. Well, according to my watch, they're about four years too late -- and they still don't get it.
I know that most of my readers will be tickled pink that the bemedalled boys in crew cuts are finally ready to kick Rummy In the rump, in public. But to me, it just shows me that these boys still can't shoot straight.
It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who stood up in front of the UN and identified two mobile latrines as biological weapons labs, was it, General Powell? It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who told us our next warning from Saddam could be a mushroom cloud, was it Condoleeza? It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who declared that Al Qaeda and Saddam were going steady, was it, Mr. Cheney?
Yes, Rumfeld is a swaggering bag of mendacious arrogance, a duplicitous chicken-hawk, yellow-bellied bully-boy and Tinker-Toy Napoleon -- but he didn't appoint himself Secretary of Defense.
Let me tell you a story about the Secretary of Defense you didn't read in the New York Times, related to me by General Jay Garner, the man our president placed in Baghdad as the US' first post-invasion viceroy. Garner arrived in Kuwait City in March 2003 working under the mistaken notion that when George Bush called for democracy in Iraq, the President meant the Iraqis could choose their own government.
Misunderstanding the President's true mission, General Garner called for Iraqis to hold elections within 90 days and for the U.S. to quickly pull troops out of the cities to a desert base. "It's their country," the General told me of the Iraqis. "And," he added, most ominously, "their oil."
Let's not forget: it's all about the oil. I showed Garner a 101-page plan for Iraq's economy drafted secretly by neo-cons at the State Department, Treasury and the Pentagon, calling for "privatization" (i.e. the sale) of "all state assets ... especially in the oil and oil-supporting industries." See it here. The General knew of the plans and he intended to shove it where the Iraqi sun don't shine.
[Read more about the untold story of General Garner and the secret war plans in ARMED MADHOUSE, by Greg Palast, to be released June 6. View Palast's interview with Garner for BBC Television at www.GregPalast.com]
Didn't read about it in the New York Times? It's become a well earned slogan for other news outlets.
Before the link, if you can't listen to Richard Pryor at the office . . . You know the drill. (You've been warned.) Ron takes a look, click here, at Dexter Filkins (not a first for Ron, he's examined Filkins "reporting" many times before) at Why Are We Back In Iraq? And remember Judith Miller's claim of being proved ___ right? Ron's got an example of where, indeed, she was right:
The date of that article was June 7, 2003...yep...that's right...more than two weeks before Judy's first noted conversation with Scooter Libby.
Not to take anything away from Warrick's work (the news that the experts' report was shelved certainly qualifies as a scoop-and-a-half) but check out this graphic from the Washington Post which accompanies the big article: From 'Biological Laboratories' to Harmless Trailers.
On the timeline June 27 is marked as the day "Powell says the U.S. intelligence community is increasingly confident that the trailers were used to make bioweapons" followed by "Summer: News reports raise doubts about the intended use of the trailers."
But The New York Times got there much quicker than that.
Ron Brynaert? The online Richard Pryor? (That's meant to make him laugh. Not as an insult.)
Last highlight goes to Pru, Simon Basketter's "Bullying sergeant went from Deepcut barracks to Iraq" (Great Britain's The Socialist Worker):
Sergeant Michael Dauscha was dismissed from the army after being caught stealing from a supermarket. He stands accused of being involved in systematic cruelty at the Deepcut barracks. He ended up working for a private army in Iraq.
In March's official report into four deaths at the Deepcut army base he was identified only as Sergeant BB and slammed for his "foul abuse" of recruits. The ex-staff sergeant was at Deepcut for 13 months between 1998 and 1999.
Last month’s report by QC Nicholas Blake accused Sergeant BB of hitting male and female recruits, making crude sexual taunts at women and humiliating others at Deepcut in Surrey. He once rode a bike over three squaddies.
Dauscha was not at Deepcut when four teenage recruits died between 1995 and 2002 and the report did not implicate him. But the military police recommended he face 11 abuse charges from his time there.
Dauscha ended up working in Iraq for security firm Aegis. Aegis has a $293 million Pentagon contract to coordinate the dozens of private security forces operating in Iraq as well as providing its own teams of bodyguards to the Pentagon.
There are 50 private security companies in Iraq, with an estimated 20,000 hired guns working for them. Aegis is supposed to coordinate them all.
Aegis Defence Services had profits of £62 million last year. Rt Hon Field Marshal Lord Inge, the former head of the British army, is a non excutive director of Aegis.
Inge sat as part of the team that cleared the government over its claims of weapons of mass destruction in the Butler report. Right wing novelist Frederick Forsyth is also a major shareholder.
Despite now being sacked from his £80,000 a year Baghdad post with Aegis, Dauscha said, "They've been very supportive. I'll probably be going back to Iraq shortly."
Aegis is run by Tim Spicer, a former army lieutenant colonel. Two soldiers in a British military unit under Spicer's command shot and killed a Catholic teenager, Peter McBride, in Northern Ireland in 1992. The soldiers were subsequently convicted of murder, yet Spicer has steadfastly defended them.
Peter McBride's mother Jean McBride told Socialist Worker, "The last thing the poor people of Iraq need is a man who tries to justify the murder of unarmed civilians, which he has done in Peter's case. This is one foreign fighter that the Iraqis should definitely expel.
"It is noticeable that the violent instructor was dismissed following his conviction for theft while Guardsmen James Fisher and Mark Wright, who murdered Peter McBride, remain serving soldiers." Both soldiers have served in Iraq in the last year.
Videos implicate Aegis
Rod Stoner, a former British army officer and Aegis employee, who worked for the company between 2004 and 2005, posted videos on the internet implicating Aegis in shooting civilians in Iraq.
According to a statement from Stoner, "We don't know whether it was an innocent civilian or whether that was an insurgent--we don't know, because we never stop." The series of "trophy" videos appear to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians.
All of the shooting incidents apparently took place on "Route Irish", a road that links the airport to Baghdad.
In one of the videos, a car is fired on at a distance of several hundred yards before it crashes into a taxi. In another, a white civilian car is raked with machine gun fire as it approaches an unidentified security company vehicle.
Bullets can be seen hitting the car before it comes to a slow stop.
Despite denying that the videos had anything to do with Aegis employees, the security company got a high court injunction last Friday against Stoner.
This closed down the website and prohibited him from speaking to the press.
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and the war drags on
why are we back in iraq
katrina vanden heuvel