Sunday, June 07, 2009

And the war drags on . . .

The pages of Baghdad Now, an Arabic-language newspaper, portray a country on the upswing.
Iraqi soldiers and policemen are proud, capable civil servants who take weapons off the streets and doggedly pursue criminals. Iraqis of all sectarian backgrounds work in unison. The Iraqi government delivers.
The paper's editorials hail democracy. Fashion pages chronicle the latest fads in Beirut and Kuwait. There's little news of the more than 130,000 American troops who remain in the country.
That the paper has no publicly known editor, no bylines and no ads is no mistake. It is part of America's huge psychological warfare campaign to influence Iraqis' behavior and attitudes.

The above is from Ernesto Londono's "A High-Priced Media Campaign That Iraqis Aren't Buying" (Washington Post) and Ernesto must by lying, right? Certainly with the Iraq War over and all, there's no reason the US would spend millions on propaganda designed to lap the Iraqi population in wvaes of Operation Happy Talk. Oh, that's right, the illegal war is not over and Ernesto Londono is not lying. US millions spent on propaganda and that's your first sign the illegal war isn't winding down despite all the happy talk otherwise. And Richard Holbrooke wants to take the 'lessons' to Afghanistan and Pakistan but, he fretted to the Senate in May, they have "been woefully under-resourced."

Iraqis do not take Baghdad Now seriously but it's a US military 'news' outlet "produced by an Army psychological operation unite and distributed for free by soldiers. Piles of it are left at entrances to the Green Zone for passerbys to pick up." Since these operations don't appall or get coverage from US media, let's grasp that the military is always testing. They've used every battlefield to test new weapons and to test new techniques. Don't be surprised if at some point Baghdad Now becomes DC Now or if we find out that the military is embedded again at CNN. The miltiary does not go to other fileds to fight for freedom. Troops are sent to battlefields to test new forms of war fare. That's the reality.

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, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4306 and tonight? 4311. Tim King (Salem-News) observes that the rate of US troops deaths in "Afghanistan and Iraq is steadily increasing" and he provides a look at some of the fallen.

In some of the day's violence . . .


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report 2 Baghdad roadside bombings and 2 Baghdad mortar attacks, a Basra grenade attack, a Falluja roadside bombing which injured three police officers and, dropping back to Saturday night, they note a Wasit roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 man and left his wife wounded.


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report 1 corpse discovered in Mosul and the corpses of 2 hospital guards were discovered in Mosul shortly after the men had been kidnapped.

Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports that five US contractors were arrested by Iraqi forces in the death of a US citizen Jim Kitterman murdered in the Green Zone last month and has the name of two of them -- Donald Feeney Jr., Donald Feeney II -- from the son of Feeney Jr., John Feeney, who states his father and brother are innocent and were friends with Kitterman. John Feeney tells CNN, "We're pretty sure they will be questioned there in the next couple of days and released with no charges." BBC adds that "the US embassy in Iraq has not confirmed who they are and says no charges have yet been laid." Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) speaks with an unnamed US embassy spokesperson who states, "Embassy consular officials have visited the five and ensured they are being afforded their rights under Iraqi law. The men appeared well." In other contracting news, AP reports they have an unreleased report from the Wartime Contracting Commission that has found more corruption including problems "with a $30 million dining facility at a U.S. base in Iraq".

Meanwhile Nouri al-Maliki made his pilgrimage to meet up with Sayyed Abdul Aziz al-Hakim -- Dick Cheney's friend, Iraqi exile who returned after the invasion and presumed to be deathly ill -- in Iran. UPI reports Jalal Talabani, Iraq's prsident, went to Iran today to visit al-Hakim. That's Iran, in England Gordon Brown's prime minister post remains shaky and under fire hence his sudden urge to announce an investigation into the Iraq War. The UK Daily Mail reports:

But last night campaigners warned him not to hold it in secret by appointing a group of Privy Councillors to sift through sensitive papers behind closed doors - as ministers suggested.
They said it must examine the legality of the war, the timing of Tony Blair's decision to back an American invasion, the use of flawed intelligence to justify war, and the coalition's poor planning for the aftermath of the invasion.

New content at Third:

Truest statement of the Week
A note to our readers
Editorial: Iraq takes a backseat to state propaganda
TV: Who listens, who hears?
TV: State propaganda
A film classic
The Dallas Peace Clique
Who's duping who?
Iraq's LGBT community
House testimony on veternas

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Ben Harper" went up earlier and Isaiah's latest goes up after this.
Pru notes Richard Seymour's "Obama's tortured logic on prisons" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Within days of Barack Obama’s inauguration it was announced that Guantanamo Bay was to close within a year, along with the secret prisons that George Bush’s administration had set up around the world.
The purpose of these prisons had been to keep captives outside the jurisdiction of US law, so that they could be tortured. Even with that precaution taken, the Bush administration went the extra mile.
John Yoo, of the Department for Justice, supplied legal arguments that redefined torture to exclude what the Bush administration intended to authorise. He said that no known law or treaty could prevent the US from torturing “enemy combatants”.
Most of those detained were not even combatants. The Seton Hall University Law School found that 55 percent of those detained in Guantanamo didn’t encounter US troops on the battlefield. Only 8 percent were estimated to have connections with Al Qaida.
The methods of torture acknowledged in official documentation are gruesome enough. These practises include stress positions and “waterboarding”. But the evidence of what took place is even worse.
So, the announcement that these institutions were to be gradually shut down was rightly applauded.
Last month Obama went further, releasing secret CIA memos that confirmed the Bush administration had authorised a wide-ranging programme of torture against supposed “terror suspects”.
In fact, the release of the documents was the result of an American Civil Liberties Union law suit, but it was advantageous for the government to give in to the pressure.
Yet the force of this was blunted by the insistence of Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel, that no prosecutions would be sought. This is curious. Three federal judges have examined the evidence and found that the Bush administration broke US law.
Repeating Dick Cheney, Obama’s national intelligence director Dennis Blair even claimed that the torture practised in the Bush years had yielded “high value information”.
The administration has since gone to great lengths to conceal the Bush gang’s crimes.
It has suppressed the release of photographs depicting the torture and rape of prisoners. It has sought to quash attempts to prosecute the private company employed in the extraordinary rendition of Binyam Mohammed on the grounds that national security would be harmed.
It even went so far as to threaten that, if British courts attempted any prosecutions that revealed official documents on the CIA’s treatment of him, the US would have to reduce intelligence-sharing with Britain.
Part of the reason for protecting the officials who authorised this internment and torture could be that Obama intends to maintain a “Bush lite” policy on the issue.
It has been reported that executive orders by Obama’s administration preserve the CIA’s authority to abduct suspects and transport them to countries that have tortured on the US’s behalf.
US lawyer and journalist Glen Greenwald has revealed that Obama has attempted to shield Bush’s illegal spying from judicial review and invented a form of “sovereign immunity” more extreme than Bush claimed.
Obama wants to make the government immune from any legal challenge over wiretapping. And inmates of Bagram prison have been barred from using US courts to appeal against their detention. Bagram is a key part of Obama’s strategy, especially as he intends to expand the war in Afghanistan.
The Obama presidency may be smarter and more sophisticated than Bush’s. But it evidently remains an imperial presidency.
Richard Seymour runs the Lenin’s Tomb blog. Go to
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