Sunday, September 11, 2011

And the war drags on . . .

The Brookings Institute's Kenneth M. Pollack has a Wall St. Journal column in which he wonders about the option of keeping 3,000 US troops in Iraq beyond 2011. He notes real training could easily be done by the Iraqi government hiring contractors and he notes that 3,000 is a number that could leave the US troops in Iraq at risk. Maybe he misses the question that should be asked?

Why did the administration leak that option to the press?

Why did the administration keep that option before the press last week? A variety of figures continued commenting on it well past Tuesday including Gen Ray Odierno.

What was the point of 3,000?

If the leak came from DoD (and it appears to have been leaked by DoD with the White House's approval -- that is what administration insiders are saying) then this option (only one of many) needed to serve a point.

What point could be served?

Leon Panetta dominated the news cycle for much of last week. Remember when he did that last?

From the July 11th. snapshot:

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh Tweeted today:
RawyaRageh Rawya Rageh

Dar Addustour noted US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta arrived in Iraq Sunday on an unannounced visit. David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) adds Panetta made remarks emphasizing his belief that Iranian elements are supplying weapons being used against US soldiers in Iraq: "U.S. officials said 15 U.S. troops were killed in June, the most in any month in two years. More than half of the deaths were caused by rockets, known as improvised rocket-assisted mortars, that U.S. officials say are provided to Shiite Muslim militant groups by Iran." Craig Whitlock and Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) report, "Unlike some senior Obama administration officials, who have made clear that they would like the Iraqi government to invite thousands of U.S. troops to stay in the country, Panetta demurred when asked if he favored the idea but said he would press Iraqi leaders to make up their minds."
jane arraf
janearraf jane arraf
Adam Entous (Wall St. Journal) states the "Dammit" quote was "delivered . . . to the Iraqi government".

Hmm. Panetta felt they were taking too long in July. Since July, all that's happened is that Nouri's announced (August 2nd) that the Iraqi government (he) was entering negotiations with the US government about keeping US troops in Iraq beyond 2011. If Panetta (and the White House) felt that Nouri was still foot dragging, what would he do?

Especially when Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy) interviewed Iraq's Ambassador to the US August 25th and Samir Sumaida'ie declared, "The principle that there will be some military presence to help train Iraqi military and police has been largely agreed upon. You'll see it when you see it. Americans want everything now or yesterday. We don't do it like this. We do it on our own sweet time."

"Damn it, make a decision!" Panetta insisted in July.

What might hurry up a decision?

Nouri has needed US troops to remain in power. Without them, he's not sitting pretty and he knows that. If you wanted to give Nouri a scare, might you float that you were only going to leave 3,000 troops in Iraq? Might you think floating such a number might bring him running to the table insisting he needs more and that the deal needs to be finalized?

The story was leaked and leaked to Fox News to get it out there and allow a White House denial that would be believed due to the White House animosity towards Fox News. However, at some point, probably around the time Norah O'Donnell seized on it at the White House press briefing, the administration realized they didn't need to use the "Fox Is Our Enemy" to keep the story in the press, that it had taken on a life of its own.

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 number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4477. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4478.

1 death toll

Aswat al-Iraq reports a Baghdad bombing left four people injured and that "an American Army patrol has become target for 3 explosive charges blasts in southern Iraq's Thi-Qar Province".

In other news, the KRG has halted exports of oil. Reuters says it's a technical issue and

New content at Third:

Isaiah will do a comic later in the week. Pru notes this from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Inquiry report does not provide justice for Baha Mousa

comment on article | email | print
Share on: Delicious | Digg | reddit | Facebook | StumbleUpon

Iraqi prisoners in detention at the camp. Photo from evidence submitted to Baha Mousa Inquiry.

by Simon Basketter

An “appalling episode of serious, gratuitous violence” by the British army killed Baha Mousa in Iraq.

British soldiers inflicted “violent and cowardly” assaults on Iraqi civilians according to the public inquiry into the killing of Baha Mousa’ published today (Thursday).

It is an indictment of military culture. It shows the vicious treatment received by civilians the army rounded up to interrogate.

Baha died within 36 hours of being taken into British military custody during a raid on a hotel in Basra, Iraq, on 14 September 2003.

He received 93 injuries, including a broken nose and fractured ribs, and died from asphyxia.

Staying tightly within its terms of reference, the report does not say that there was systematic abuse towards Iraqi suspects. It does point out the death of Baha was not a one-off incident.

The retired appeal court judge Sir William Gage puts the blame at individual soldiers and officers as well as on poor internal communications. He condemns “loss of discipline and a lack of moral courage” that meant soldiers did not report the abuse.

Senior commanders were apparently ignorant of a ban imposed in 1972 on the use of five torture techniques, including hooding, stress positions and sleep deprivation.

The hooding was “unjustified and wholly unacceptable”.

“For almost the whole of the period up to Baha Mousa’s death … the detainees were kept handcuffed, hooded and in stress positions in extreme heat and conditions of some squalor,” the report said.

The inquiry heard evidence that prisoners were scalded with boiling water, urinated on, kicked, punched and sleep deprived.

The inquiry was also played a video of one soldier, Corporal Donald Payne, screaming at the prisoners and calling them “f**king apes”.

Payne became the first member of the armed forces to be convicted of a war crime when he pleaded guilty to inhumanely treating civilians at a court martial in 2006.

Gage calls him a “violent bully”.

The soldiers put on a show where they made the prisoners into a choir—by beating them till they screamed. “Towards the end of the second day they were all in so much pain that he only had to poke them to get them to make a noise,” said former soldier Gareth Aspinall in the evidence. “When visitors came across they also found it funny.”

On one occasion, the soldiers held a “free for all” where a number of soldiers attacked all the Iraqis at once.

This is what “interrogation” meant in occupied Iraq.

The report names 19 soldiers as assaulting prisoners. Though the inquiry has not been able to identify a number of others.

Colonel Jorge Mendonca, the unit’s commander, “bears a heavy responsibility for these events”. Though Gage accepted that Mendonca did not know that the abuse was going on, Mendonca, failed by not knowing “precisely what conditioning involved”.

While highly critical of the evidence of a number of soldiers, and of the lies told about the Iraqis’ detention, Gage ruled that there was no cover-up the death.

After Baha’s killing, the government claimed that hooding of prisoners had stopped, which it hadn’t, and that it wasn’t used for interrogations, which it was.

The report says that while the Ministry of Defence (MOD) provided inaccurate information, neither they, the civil service, nor ministers had intended to mislead.

Instead the inquiry condemns the “corporate failure” by the MOD.

The report provides evidence of training in what are essentially torture techniques, but concludes only that there was a lack of clarity in the way in which restraint techniques are trained.

It argues for better training for what the army refers to as “the harsh approach”. And proposes the army drops teaching methods to ‘‘maintain the shock of capture’’ and ‘‘prolong the shock of capture’’.

The inquiry has shone a light on the brutality of the war in Iraq. But it has left the establishment untouched, the command structure and the politicians blameless. That is not justice for Baha Mousa.

The following should be read alongside this article:

Video showing how British soldier treated Iraqi prisoners

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

The e-mail address for this site is