The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
Low-morale letters from Iraq
Mark Strassmann, CBS News, July 17, 2003

For 10,000 troops in Iraq, there is no homecoming in sight. They'll serve in Iraq indefinitely.

From Iraq, you see and hear growing signs of frustration -- even despair.

"I feel sick. Really sick on the inside. I no longer feel free," Sgt. Steward wrote.

Spreanna Pomroy doesn't expect to see her husband until spring.

"Do you feel jerked around?" Strassmann asked.

"Every day. Every single day," she replied.

For these families, the road to Baghdad has led only to frustration. [ complete article ]

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Questions mount about Iraqi resistance
Paul Haven, Associated Press, July 18, 2003

As American casualties mount in Iraq, so do questions about who is behind the guerrilla campaign. The list of suspects, which already includes Saddam Hussein loyalists, freelance Arab fighters and Iraqis angered by the U.S. occupation, is growing each day. [ complete article ]

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Britain tried first. Iraq was no picnic then
John Kifner, New York Times, July 20, 2003

The public, the distinguished military analyst wrote from Baghdad, had been led "into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor."

"They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information," he said. "The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows."

He added: "We are today not far from a disaster."

Sound familiar?

That was T. E. Lawrence -- Lawrence of Arabia -- writing in The Sunday Times of London on Aug. 22, 1920, about the British occupation of what was then called Mesopotamia. And he knew. For it was Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence and the intrepid British adventuress Gertrude Bell who, more than anyone else, were responsible for the creation of what was to become Iraq. A fine mess they made of it, too. [ complete article ]

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Media underplays U.S. death toll in Iraq
Greg Mitchell, Editor and Publisher, July 17, 2003

Any way you look at it, the news is bad enough. According to Thursday's press and television reports, 33 U.S. soldiers have now died in combat since President Bush declared an end to the major fighting in the war on May 2. This, of course, is a tragedy for the men killed and their families, and a problem for the White House.

But actually the numbers are much worse -- and rarely reported by the media.

According to official military records, the number of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq since May 2 is actually 85. This includes a staggering number of non-combat deaths. Even if killed in a non-hostile action, these soldiers are no less dead, their families no less aggrieved. And it's safe to say that nearly all of these people would still be alive if they were still back in the States. [ complete article ]

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A chronicle of confusion in the hunt for Hussein's chemical and germ weapons
Judith Miller, New York Times, July 20, 2003

On paper, the Pentagon's plan for finding Iraq's unconventional weapons was bold and original.

Four mobile exploitation teams, or MET's, each composed of about 25 soldiers, scientists and weapons experts from several Pentagon agencies, would fan out to chase tips from survey units and combat forces in the field. They would search 578 "suspect sites" in Iraq for the chemical, biological and nuclear components that the Bush administration had cited time and again to justify the war. The Pentagon said the weapons hunters would have whatever they needed helicopters, Humvees in case weather grounded the choppers and secure telecommunications.

But the "ground truth," as soldiers say, was this: chaos, disorganization, interagency feuds, disputes within and among various military units, and shortages of everything from gasoline to soap plagued the postwar search for evidence of Iraq's supposed unconventional weapons. [ complete article ]

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Mistakes of arrogance are hard to accept
Jay Bookman, Times Union, July 18, 2003

Some people are born humble. Others have humility thrust upon them.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, for example, was asked in a recent interview whether he still had faith in prewar intelligence claiming a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

"I think that the, the, information we had over a period of time that I cited that the intelligence community gave to me and I read as opposed to ad-libbing was correct. It, it, it was carefully stated ..."

Talk about carefully stated.

It's telling to see the bantam rooster of the Bush administration turn so halting and defensive, insisting that, hey, he had only been reading what somebody else handed him. Then again, there's a lot of that going around these days.

In fact, if Vietnam was the place where America lost her innocence, Iraq may be the place where we lose our arrogance. [ complete article ]

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Richard Perle: "Saddam Hussein's reign of terror is about to end. He will go quickly, but not alone: in a parting irony, he will take the UN down with him." Thank God for the death of the U.N., The Guardian, March 21, 2003

U.S. may be forced to go back to U.N. for Iraq mandate
Christopher Marquis, New York Times, July 19, 2003

The Bush administration, which spurned the United Nations in its drive to depose Saddam Hussein in Iraq, is finding itself forced back into the arms of the international body because other nations are refusing to contribute peacekeeping troops or reconstruction money without United Nations approval.

With the costs of stabilizing Iraq hovering at $4 billion a month and with American troops being killed at a steady rate, administration officials acknowledge that they are rethinking their strategy and may seek a United Nations resolution for help that would placate other nations, like India, France and Germany.

Administration officials contend that they are being practical, but within their ranks are policy makers sharply critical of the United Nations and those who would consider it humiliating to seek its mantle after risking American lives in the invasion that ousted Mr. Hussein.

The administration's quandary deepened today, when Russia announced that it would consider sending peacekeeping troops but only with a United Nations mandate that set out a specific mission and timetable. [ complete article ]

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Preparing for war, stumbling to peace
Mark Fineman, Robin Wright and Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times, July 18, 2003

Secretly, they gathered in an auditorium in the nation's snowbound capital -- uniformed generals, assistant Cabinet secretaries, war college professors with top security clearance, and senior planners from the Pentagon, the U.S. Central Command and dozens of other federal agencies.

The date was Feb. 21. More than 100,000 U.S. and British troops were already poised at Iraq's doorstep. Their battle plan was rehearsed and ready. In fewer than 30 days, the first American tanks would cross the sand berm into Iraq from Kuwait, launching the tip of the spear of what would be a swift and brilliant battlefield victory.

Yet this two-day gathering at the Pentagon's National Defense University was the first time all of these planners had gathered under one roof to address an equally vital matter: how to win the peace in Iraq once the war was over.

"The messiah could not have organized a sufficient relief and reconstruction or humanitarian effort in that short a time," recalled Judith Yaphe, a former CIA analyst who attended the session. [ complete article ]

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Postwar window closing in Iraq, study says
Vernon Loeb, Washington Post, July 18, 2003

A team of outside experts dispatched by the Pentagon to assess security and reconstruction operations in Iraq reported yesterday that the window of opportunity for achieving postwar success is closing and requires immediate and dramatic action by U.S. military and civilian personnel.

The team concluded that the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in charge of reconstruction efforts is isolated and underfunded, and it recommended that U.S. officials move immediately to internationalize the daunting task of rebuilding Iraq, particularly in light of "rising anti-Americanism in parts of the country."

Amid escalating guerrilla attacks against U.S. forces and mounting criticism of the Bush administration by Democrats for poor postwar planning in Iraq, the report represents a comprehensive, independent assessment of conditions there, both in terms of security and reconstruction. [ complete article ]

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Pentagon retaliates against GIs who spoke out on TV
Robert Collier, San Francisco Chronicle, July 18, 2003

On Wednesday morning, when the ABC news show reported from Fallujah, where the [Third Infantry] division is based, the troops gave the reporters an earful. One soldier said he felt like he'd been "kicked in the guts, slapped in the face." Another demanded that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld quit.

The retaliation from Washington was swift.

"It was the end of the world," said one officer Thursday. "It went all the way up to President Bush and back down again on top of us. At least six of us here will lose our careers."

First lesson for the troops, it seemed: Don't ever talk to the media "on the record" -- that is, with your name attached -- unless you're giving the sort of chin-forward, everything's-great message the Pentagon loves to hear.
[ complete article ]

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Broken promise
Isam al-Khafaji, Globe and Mail, July 18, 2003

On July 9, with deep sorrow, I respectfully submitted my resignation as a member of the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council to U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

I did this with great sadness but, in doing so, I was able to leave Iraq with a clear conscience. If I stayed any longer, I might not be able to say that. I feared my role with the reconstruction council was sliding from what I had originally envisioned -- working with allies in a democratic fashion -- to collaborating with occupying forces. [ complete article ]

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Iraq casualties keep Landstuhl full
Marni McEntee, Stars and Stripes, July 18, 2003

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is receiving more than twice the number of patients from Operation Iraqi Freedom that it did during the major combat phase of the war.

An average of 48 patients a day were being treated last week, compared with 22 patients a day in March, said Col. David Rubenstein, who relinquished command of the hospital last week for a new post. [ complete article ]

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U.S. confused by Iraq's quiet war
Jonathan Steele and Michael Howard, The Guardian, July 18, 2003

As armed attacks on US troops in Iraq increase and the Pentagon announces that the crack troops of its most experienced infantry division will stay in the country "indefinitely", the one certainty about the groups carrying out the assaults is the effect they are having: confusion

"We're facing a combination of Ba'athists, fedayeen and ex-intelligence services operating without central control on a loose basis," the US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, told reporters this week.

"None of the people detained by coalition forces for carrying out attacks on US soldiers said they were motivated by religion or money," the former counter-terrorism expert added. "The attacks are conducted by professionals. I have confidence that we shall impose our will on these renegades."

John Abizaid, the new head of US central command, called it "a classical guerrilla-type campaign" and said: "I believe there's mid-level Ba'athist, Iraqi intelligence service people, Special Security Organisation people, Special Republican Guard people that have organised at the regional level in cellular structure. It's low-intensity conflict in our doctrinal terms, but it's war, however you describe it."

These assertive analyses bear surprisingly little resemblance to the views of other sources, including US army commanders in the field, leading some to speculate that there is more spin than substance to them. [ complete article ]

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The U.S. needs allies - but is too proud to pay the price
Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, July 18, 2003

The US is in danger of moving from a unilateralism it freely chose to an isolation it neither desired nor expected. As the costs and difficulties of reconstructing Iraq come home to Washington, it looks as if America is going to be left to bear the burden without the major aid from its friends and allies, other than Britain, that it now desperately wants.

An over-confident administration had at first assumed it would not need much help from others in Iraq. They then concluded they did need it but that it would not be too difficult to drum up. Now they are realising they are unlikely, at least in the near future, to get soldiers and financial help from other countries in anything like the quantities they had hoped. [ complete article ]

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Body 'matches' Iraq expert
BBC News, July 18, 2003

Police searching for the weapons expert suggested as the possible source for a BBC story on Iraq say the body they have found matches Dr David Kelly's appearance.

The body was found at 0920 BST by a member of the police team searching for Dr Kelly in a wooded area at Harrowdown Hill, near Faringdon, Oxfordshire.

The government has announced that if the body is formally identified as Dr Kelly, an independent judicial inquiry will be held into the circumstances surrounding his death. [ complete article ]

See also MPs stunned over latest twist

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Intelligence: The achilles heel of the Bush Doctrine
Gregory F. Treverton, Arms Control Today, July/August, 2003

There is not yet a clearly articulated "Bush doctrine" of national security. Yet the pointers so far, especially the victory in Iraq, suggest the shape of one that is stunning in its ambition. Focused on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the emerging Bush doctrine is anticipatory, pre-emptive, and, if need be, unilateral. Yet the emerging doctrine is bedeviled at its core by legitimacy and capacity, including, critically, the capability of U.S. intelligence. Although the United States has the military power to take out whatever miscreant state it chooses, it still lacks the ability to precisely locate and pre-emptively target WMD, despite all the technical wizardry of its intelligence. Indeed, even determining whether a potential adversary, such as Iraq, is developing and deploying nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons will continue to prove difficult. Taking out a foe's real or suspected WMD is likely to continue to require taking out the foe. [ complete article ]

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New details emerge on uranium claim
James Risen, David E. Sanger, New York Times, July 18, 2003

More details came to light today about how disputed language about Iraq's possible designs on African uranium appeared in President Bush's State of the Union address. The words in the January address were the subject of testimony before a Senate Committee on Wednesday.

In his speech, the president said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Senior intelligence officials said today that in the closed-door hearing on Wednesday, Alan Foley, a C.I.A. expert on weapons of mass destruction, said he was asked by Bob Joseph, the director for nonproliferation at the National Security Council, whether the president's address could include a reference to Iraq's seeking uranium from Niger.

The officials said that Mr. Foley's testimony indicated that he told Mr. Joseph that the C.I.A. was not certain about the credibility of the evidence concerning Niger and recommended that it be taken out of the speech. [ complete article ]

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CIA: Assessment of Syria's weapons of mass destruction exaggerated
Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay, Knight Ridder, July 15, 2003

In a new dispute over interpreting intelligence data, the CIA and other agencies objected vigorously to a Bush administration assessment of the threat of Syria's weapons of mass destruction that was to be presented Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

After the objections, the planned testimony by Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, a leading administration hawk, was delayed until September.

U.S. officials told Knight Ridder that Bolton was prepared to tell members of a House of Representatives International Relations subcommittee that Syria's development of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons had progressed to such a point that they posed a threat to stability in the region.

The CIA and other intelligence agencies said that assessment was exaggerated. [ complete article ]

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Bush launches magazine to teach young Arabs to love America
Andrew Buncombe, The Independent, July 18, 2003

So what if George Bush is threatening to invade your country? At least the kids in America have nice, white teeth and listen to the same music as you. Isn't that enough for you to love the good 'ol US of A?

That, at least, appears to be the message of a glossy new magazine published by the Bush administration and going on sale across the Middle East this week, targeting young people with a mix of features, celebrity profiles and music. The Arabic-language Hi magazine is US propaganda 2003-style. "We're fighting a war of ideas as much as a war on terror," said Tucker Eskew, director of the White House's Office of Global Communications.

Hi, a monthly, will be available for the equivalent of around $2 (1.25) in Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, Algeria, Egypt, Cyprus and several Gulf states. Saudi Arabia - home to 15 of the 19 hijackers on 11 September and where drug dealers are publicly beheaded - has not yet been deemed ready to get Hi. [ complete article ]

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Understanding Syria
Anders Strindberg, Baltimore Sun, July 16, 2003

Since 1974, Syria has persisted in the same conditions for a peace agreement with Israel: The return of all Arab land occupied in 1967 and an equitable solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.

Despite the region's new strategic environment, this position is not about to change, and Syria remains on the sidelines in the U.S.-led efforts to promote the "road map" to peace.

Those in Washington who wish to use the new regional situation to reshape the Middle East see Syria as a primary obstacle. Discussions among U.S. policy-makers and commentators about how to deal with Syria - ranging from dialogue to sanctions and military action - have recently gathered momentum. Several observers have suggested that reformist legislation passed in Damascus in the last few weeks is a response to U.S. demands, drawing the conclusion that the best way to get Syria to change is more toughness.

Against this background, it is important to understand what Syrian reform is, and what it is not. [ complete article ]

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Funeral points to Islamist resistance in Iraq
Michael Georgy, Reuters, July 17, 2003

The U.S. Central Command chief General John Abizaid said on Wednesday U.S. troops were facing a classic guerrilla war in Iraq, spearheaded by Saddam Hussein loyalists divided into cells of six to eight resistance fighters.

The general also said there was "a lot of information that indicated that there were significant terrorist groups and activities."

He said they could include Ansar al-Islam, an Islamist group linked to al Qaeda which was based in the Kurdish area of Iraq before the U.S.-led war, and perhaps elements of al Qaeda itself. Abizaid said there were also small numbers of foreign fighters.

Iraqis do not think it is that complex. They believe the attacks are the work of local people furious at the U.S. occupation. [ complete article ]

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Tour of duty or deplorable deployment?
Jeff Danziger, Los Angeles Times, July 16, 2003

The Pentagon can't extend the 3rd Infantry forever. In truth, it can't even extend it for more than a few months without serious reaction from families, some of whom have already begun bringing this unsolvable problem to the attention of their members of Congress. Congress members do not like this question.

In the later years of the Vietnam War, the weekly casualty rate was slightly under 100 U.S. troops killed a week. Gen. William Westmoreland had thought, out loud unfortunately, that if he could get that number under the weekly highway death toll back in the States, the American people would tolerate it. In this thinking, he betrayed a military proclivity for thinking of statistics as merely numbers, not actual people. If you are surrounded by enough generals you can start thinking this way too. But normal people do not think this way. And normal people these days find even the daily toll of one or two American soldiers killed horrible.

The Pentagon has a habit of solving its problems on the backs of those least able to refuse. But the generals have their own subtle ways of making a political point. Our troops in Iraq are acutely aware that the longer they are there, the greater the chances that they will be hit by something: a bullet, a rocket grenade or a suicide bomber. Naturally, morale falls apart. The entire syndrome that wrecked the Army in Vietnam could begin again. [ complete article ]

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Forging the case for war
Steven Rosenfeld interviewing Raymond McGovern,, July 16, 2003

On Monday, July 14, "Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity," a group of retired senior CIA, FBI, State Department and Pentagon officials, released an open memorandum to President Bush detailing what they saw as the administration's effort last fall to fabricate a rationale for a pre-emptive war against Iraq. The group urged President Bush to seek Vice President Dick Cheney's resignation, to launch an independent investigation and to seek the return of U.N. weapons inspectors.'s Steven Rosenfeld interviewed Raymond McGovern, one of three signatories to the memo, about the group, its analysis of the vice president's role in fabricating a case for war, and what prompted McGovern -- a career CIA officer who conducted the daily briefings of the top cabinet officers in the Reagan administration including then-Vice-President George Herbert Walker Bush -- to speak out against the case for war in Iraq. [ complete article ]

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Why U.S. soldiers aren't leaving Iraq yet
Tony Karon, Time, July 17, 2003

International replacements are proving to be something of a problem: Thus far, the U.S. has managed to sign up two contingents, one comprising some 9,200 soldiers led by Poland and composed of smallish detachments from Ukraine, Bulgaria, Hungary, Spain, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania, Mongolia, Fiji, the Dominican Republic and others. Britain will lead a second detachment composed of Western European NATO members such as Italy and the Netherlands. The operative word is small: While Spain is offering 1,300 troops and Italy up to 3,000, Lithuania will send 43, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia about 30, Kazakhstan 25, and so on. The Pentagon had hoped India would would supply 17,000 of its own troops to lead a third division, but India has declined, joining France and Germany in insisting that their forces could serve only under UN command and mandate. And given the fact that U.S. relations with Turkey are at a 50-year low in the wake of the war -- particularly following the arrest by U.S. forces of ten Turkish commandos in northern Iraq ten days ago -- the Pentagon is having to face the reality that many of the armies most competent to help in Iraq are simply unavailable. The addition of small numbers of troops from the old Warsaw Pact countries may ease some of the burden on U.S. forces in Iraq, but it's unlikely to allow the U.S. to draw down its own troop commitment there -- to put it bluntly, it will take the combat power of the Americans, rather than the Latvians and Fijians, to wage the counterinsurgency war. [ complete article ]

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The spies who pushed for war
Julian Borger, The Guardian, July 17, 2003

As the CIA director, George Tenet, arrived at the Senate yesterday to give secret testimony on the Niger uranium affair, it was becoming increasingly clear in Washington that the scandal was only a small, well-documented symptom of a complete breakdown in US intelligence that helped steer America into war.

It represents the Bush administration's second catastrophic intelligence failure. But the CIA and FBI's inability to prevent the September 11 attacks was largely due to internal institutional weaknesses.

This time the implications are far more damaging for the White House, which stands accused of politicising and contaminating its own source of intelligence.

According to former Bush officials, all defence and intelligence sources, senior administration figures created a shadow agency of Pentagon analysts staffed mainly by ideological amateurs to compete with the CIA and its military counterpart, the Defence Intelligence Agency.

The agency, called the Office of Special Plans (OSP), was set up by the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to second-guess CIA information and operated under the patronage of hardline conservatives in the top rungs of the administration, the Pentagon and at the White House, including Vice-President Dick Cheney.

The ideologically driven network functioned like a shadow government, much of it off the official payroll and beyond congressional oversight. But it proved powerful enough to prevail in a struggle with the State Department and the CIA by establishing a justification for war. [ complete article ]

Revisit Seymour Hersh's Selective intelligence

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The peace allergy
Why the U.S. military had no plans for post-war Iraq

Michael Bhatia, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July/August, 2003

... if U.S. political leaders were inclined to think simplistically about reestablishing civil administration in a country and a culture far different from their own, the lack of realistic preparation for post-war governance in Iraq was symptomatic of the wrenching dichotomy between the military's priorities, culture, and preparations. The military is highly focused on preparing for conventional warfare, emphasizing the use of high-tech weapons and massive firepower, with decreasing emphasis on the human dimension. As a result, it spends very little effort preparing for the kinds of engagements in which it overwhelmingly finds itself: As the Congressional Research Service pointed out in 1996, of the 234 occasions in which American force had been used abroad from 1798 to 1993, only five involved a formal declaration of war; more than 220 could best be described as small-scale contingencies.

Peace operations and "Operations Other Than War" (OOTW) are merely the contemporary manifestation of these most common U.S. engagements, so much so that Ralph Peters, an army intelligence officer and noted military analyst, argues that "those who assail our present peacekeeping commitments attack America's military tradition." [ complete article ]

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Inconvenient facts . . .
Harold Meyerson, Washington Post, July 17, 2003

There are no stubborn facts in the Bush White House, just stubborn men. This is an administration that will not be cowed by the truth. [ complete article ]

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It's official: U.S. faces Iraq 'guerrilla war'
Nick Childs, BBC News, July 16, 2003

The US chief of military operations in Iraq has admitted that attacks against American troops in the country bear the hallmarks of a "classic guerrilla-type campaign".

His comments -- on a day that saw one soldier killed and a missile fired at a US cargo plane - represent a remarkable acknowledgement, the BBC's Nick Childs at the Pentagon says.

Pentagon officials have been reluctant until now to admit to a guerrilla campaign, describing the attacks as uncoordinated violence by remnants of the Baathist regime.

"I think describing it as guerrilla tactics is a proper way to describe it in strictly military terms," US Central Command head General John Abizaid said at the first briefing in his new job.

"It's low intensity but it's war however you describe it." [ complete article ]

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Bush faced dwindling data on Iraq nuclear bid
Walter Pincus, Washington Post, July 16, 2003

In recent days, as the Bush administration has defended its assertion in the president's State of the Union address that Iraq had tried to buy African uranium, officials have said it was only one bit of intelligence that indicated former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was reconstituting his nuclear weapons program.

But a review of speeches and reports, plus interviews with present and former administration officials and intelligence analysts, suggests that between Oct. 7, when President Bush made a speech laying out the case for military action against Hussein, and Jan. 28, when he gave his State of the Union address, almost all the other evidence had either been undercut or disproved by U.N. inspectors in Iraq.

By Jan. 28, in fact, the intelligence report concerning Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa -- although now almost entirely disproved -- was the only publicly unchallenged element of the administration's case that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program. That may explain why the administration strived to keep the information in the speech and attribute it to the British, even though the CIA had challenged it earlier. [ complete article ]

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Bloody history puts Iraq war in a new light
Peter Bales, Newsday, July 16, 2003

One afternoon in the not too distant past, I was strolling with a gaggle of friendly strangers up a hill known as Little Round Top listening to a venerable tour guide pontificate on the Battle of Gettysburg. He asked if anyone had any questions and one earnest young woman raised her hand. "How come they always had the battles in the national parks?" she asked.

I covered my laughter with a cough when I realized she was serious and the rest of the group was actually waiting for an answer. Our tour guide - a 32-year veteran of the National Parks Service who seemed to know everything there was to know about the Civil War and then some - gasped, stared wide-eyed and opened his mouth. But he could not bring himself to speak. I stepped forward to diffuse the awkward moment.

"It was an incredible coincidence," I announced. "All those battles in the national parks were just a coincidence and very convenient." Everyone seemed satisfied at that. I turned, placed my arm around our tour guide and nudged him forward. In a few seconds all was back to normal.

As a history teacher, I am the first to admit that many of America's young people are horribly confused about the past. Many adults aren't much better, otherwise they would not be so befuddled by the events unfolding in Iraq. The chaos, the anger the Iraqis feel toward their American "liberators" and, most of all, the deadly guerrilla-style resistance. Anyone who knows our nation's history could have predicted it. It has all happened before. [ complete article ]

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It happened in Baghdad
James Ridgeway, Village Voice, July 15, 2003

So maybe the Iraqis didn't buy uranium in Niger. But we can still blame them for everything else -- from 9-11 and the Oklahoma City bombing to Eric Rudolph's alleged attacks on abortion clinics. Consider the testimony of the American Enterprise Institute's Laurie Mylroie, who was considered credible enough to be an expert witness before the 9-11 Commission last week. [ complete article ]

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The peace from hell
Molly Ivins, WorkingForChange, July 15, 2003

I opposed the war in Iraq because I thought it would lead to the peace from hell, but I'd rather not see my prediction come true and I don't think we have much time left to avert it. That the occupation is not going well is apparent to everyone but Donald Rumsfeld. If this thing turns into Vietnam simply because that man is too vain and arrogant to admit that Gen. Eric Shinseki was right when he said we would need "several hundred thousand soldiers" over there, I hope Rumsfeld rots in a hell worse than the one he's making. [ complete article ]

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'Hinesville is the armpit of the world. Right now, I'll take the armpit'
Jonathan Steele, The Guardian, July 16, 2003

"We are the only division which fought this entire war and is still in Iraq," [Staff Sergeant Anthony Joseph] says. "We never knew there would be a war when we left home in September last year. We fought all the way up from Kuwait through southern Iraq. 'The quickest way home is through Baghdad,' they told us. So we took the city, and here we are still."

No unit took more casualties than the 3rd Infantry during the war: 36 in all. Yet one of the division's early sources of bitterness was the fact that the marines took credit for capturing the Iraqi capital.

"The 3rd Division's 1st Brigade took Baghdad airport and our 2nd Brigade was in Baghdad on April 5," says Sgt Joseph. "We did a 'thunder run' with tanks that day and on April 7 we went into Baghdad with 2,000 troops and took it.

"But it was only when the marines came in on the east side of the river on April 9 and took up positions outside the Palestine hotel where all the media were that people thought Baghdad had fallen. We were already in there. The marines even fired on us, thinking our tanks must be Iraqi. We had to radio them to stop it."

The brigade's second blow came when it was told to move to Falluja instead of going home. [ complete article ]

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A promise to fight on
A leader in Iraqi militia group tells of plans for extended guerrilla war

Mohamad Bazzi, Newsday, July 10, 2003

He is a leader in Saddam's Fedayeen, the militia group that put up some of the strongest resistance to U.S. forces as they swept through Iraq, and he says he has organized recent attacks on American troops occupying Iraq.

The militia fighter is now living on the run and working toward the day when an Iraqi insurgency would drive American soldiers out of his country and return Saddam Hussein to power.

"We have many more people and we're a lot better organized than the Americans realize," said Khaled, 29, who gave an hour-long interview yesterday on the condition that only his first name be published. "We have been preparing for this kind of guerrilla war for a long time, and we're much more patient than the Americans. We have nowhere else to go." [ complete article ]

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A big letdown
Soldiers learn they'll be in Baghdad longer than expected

Jeffrey Kofman, ABC News, July 16, 2003

The sergeant at the 2nd Battle Combat Team Headquarters pulled me aside in the corridor. "I've got my own 'Most Wanted' list," he told me.

He was referring to the deck of cards the U.S. government published, featuring Saddam Hussein, his sons and other wanted members of the former Iraqi regime.

"The aces in my deck are Paul Bremer, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz," he said.

He was referring to the four men who are running U.S. policy here in Iraq -- the four men who are ultimately responsible for the fate of U.S. troops here. [ complete article ]

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Fearful symmetry: Washington and Pyongyang
John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus, July 11, 2003

The streets of the capital are broad and the buildings monumental. Inside the grand state offices, a power struggle rages among the political elite, and the side that seems to have the upper hand is insulated, single-minded, and shamelessly belligerent. This clique supports a military-first policy that doesn't shrink from the first use of nuclear weapons, a stance that strikes fear into allies and adversaries alike. Nor are these fears soothed by the actions or rhetoric of the leader, a former playboy who owes his position to an irregular political process and the legacy of a more statesmanlike father.

Choose your capital: Pyongyang or Washington?

In the fun house of mirrors in which contemporary global politics is enacted, a strange resemblance has developed between George W. Bush and Kim Jong Il and between their respective war parties. That North Korea is one of the poorest and most desperate countries in the world and the U.S. is the undisputed economic and military leader makes this folie deux all the more poignant and ridiculous. The weaker side has exited the Non-Proliferation Treaty and is rushing to develop a nuclear deterrent; the stronger side is after nothing less than regime change. This summer Washington is confronting Pyongyang with a policy of naval interdiction and a tightening chokehold of economic isolation. North Korea is perilously close to treating these encroachments on its sovereignty as tantamount to war. Neither side trusts the other; both refuse to blink. [ complete article ]

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U.S., N. Korea drifting toward war, Perry warns
Thomas E. Ricks and Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, July 15, 2003

Former defense secretary William Perry warned that the United States and North Korea are drifting toward war, perhaps as early as this year, in an increasingly dangerous standoff that also could result in terrorists being able to purchase a North Korean nuclear device and plant it in a U.S. city.

"I think we are losing control" of the situation, said Perry, who believes North Korea soon will have enough nuclear warheads to begin exploding them in tests and exporting them to terrorists and other U.S. adversaries. "The nuclear program now underway in North Korea poses an imminent danger of nuclear weapons being detonated in American cities," he said in an interview.

Perry added that he reached his conclusions after extensive conversations with senior Bush administration officials, South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun and senior officials in China. [ complete article ]

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Faulty connection
Jim Lobe,, July 15, 2003

As calls mount for a full-scale investigation into the Bush administration's manipulation of intelligence on Iraq's nonexistent nuclear and chemical weapons program, let's hope that the other casus belli on which the administration based its war -- the alleged link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein -- also gets the scrutiny it deserves.

While the link was hyped less by administration officials than by right-wing idealogues and the conservative press, an organized campaign was nonetheless launched to persuade the American public that such a connection was real -- and represented a mortal threat. [ complete article ]

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Peaceful warrior
Chris Strohm and Ingrid Drake,, July 14, 2003

As the U.S. occupation of Iraq extends with no end in sight, and the death toll for both U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians continues to mount, more voices of dissent from military personnel and families are surfacing every day.

One of the most poignant so far comes from a young Marine who gave an interview with Pacifica Radio's Peacewatch program the night before he was deployed to Iraq. He discussed his strong commitment to peace, and said the Bush administration was violating constitutional principles and misleading the country into an unjust war.

He was killed in late June, fighting a war he didn't believe in. [ complete article ]

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Exiles rule 'stillborn council stacked by U.S.'
James Hider and Stephen Farrell, The Times, July 15, 2003

Iraqis celebrated Revolution Day and the overthrow of the monarchy yesterday against a background of anti-American violence and denunciations of the new Governing Council as unrepresentative.

On the anniversary of the bloody coup which ended the monarchy 45 years ago, when nationalists killed King Faisal II, an American soldier was killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack and followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, the fiery Shia spiritual leader, said the new administration was stacked with out-of-touch exiles and was "stillborn". [ complete article ]

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Karbala, city of peace, moving toward chaos
Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press, July 15, 2003

Abdel-Aziz al-Nasrawi was nervous. He sat on the edge of his chair and spoke in whispers. Occasionally, he stole a look at the American officers and their translators seated across the room to see if they were eavesdropping.

A 53-year-old lawyer who became deputy governor of this holy Shiite Muslim city last month, al-Nasrawi has a lot on his mind these days.

"The problems are immense," the silver-haired al-Nasrawi said with a hint of desperation.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Karbala has been viewed as an island of peace and stability in a country wracked by violence and social turmoil. But there are signs the peace in this city of 500,000 could soon unravel. [ complete article ]

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U.S. chicken giveaway doesn't fly in Fallouja
David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2003

Sgt. Jason McGinn's Humvee convoy pulled up in front of the Saud ibn abi Wakas mosque with a load of frozen chickens Monday.

The chickens, rapidly defrosting in the midday sun, were meant for the needy families of Fallouja. McGinn's psychological operations unit was making the delivery as part of its efforts to win over clerics and civilians alike in this city west of Baghdad that has been a center of Sunni Muslim resistance to the U.S. military occupation.

The imam, a slender, bearded young man, stared hard at McGinn and shook his head indignantly.

"We would rather eat rocks than eat chickens from Americans," he spat out. "Even the poorest person in Fallouja doesn't want chickens from you."

McGinn's unit was brusquely turned away at three of the four mosques it visited. The brushoff was yet another reminder for U.S. soldiers that hostility to the occupation runs deep in many quarters, and that it will take a lot more than frozen chickens to pacify Iraq. [ complete article ]

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The ideal candidate
Jack Beatty, Atlantic Monthly, July 9, 2003

Imagine a candidate who would stand up for the UN! One who would remind Americans that it was our creation, that it can serve our interests in the Third World, which wants no part of U.S. "imperialism." Peace, justice, human rights -- a reformed UN, supported by an American President sensitive to the dignity of other nations and committed to helping the poor countries, can lead the way to a better world. [ complete article ]

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The Iraq war, or America betrayed
James P. Pinkerton, Newsday, July 15, 2003

One day, this Iraq War will be thought of as the Intellectuals' War. That is, it was a war conceived of by people who possessed more books than common sense, let alone actual military experience.

Disregarding prudence, precedent and honesty, they went off - or, more precisely, sent others off - tilting at windmills in Iraq, chasing after illusions of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and false hope about Iraqi enthusiasm for Americanism, and hoping that reality would somehow catch up with their theory. The problem, of course, is that wars are more about bloodletting than book learning. [ complete article ]

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America stretched thin
Steve Chapman, Baltimore Sun, July 15, 2003

Just three months ago, America was Master of the Universe, the unassailable superpower feared by all. Today, it resembles a substitute teacher on the last day before Christmas break -- harried, confused and facing more troublemakers than it can hope to control.

The violence and chaos in Iraq have done more than short-circuit the administration's plan to bring peace and democracy to the Middle East. They've also called into question the president's vision of our international role. We thought we had the means and the will to force hostile regimes the world over to change or else be changed, at the point of an M-16. But the job now looks bigger than we bargained for.

Invading Iraq has been the obsession of U.S. policy ever since the war in Afghanistan. President Bush made it clear he would do whatever was necessary to eliminate the alleged threat posed by Saddam Hussein. But not only did the administration deceive the public about the danger, it deceived itself about what it would take to accomplish the mission. [ complete article ]

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16 words, and counting
Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, July 15, 2003

After I wrote a month ago about the Niger uranium hoax in the State of the Union address, a senior White House official chided me gently and explained that there was more to the story that I didn't know.

Yup. And now it's coming out.

Based on conversations with people in the intelligence community, this picture is emerging: the White House, eager to spice up the State of the Union address, recklessly resurrected the discredited Niger tidbit. The Central Intelligence Agency objected, and then it and the National Security Council negotiated a new wording, attributing it all to the Brits. It felt less dishonest pinning the falsehood on the cousins.

What troubles me is not that single episode, but the broader pattern of dishonesty and delusion that helped get us into the Iraq mess -- and that created the false expectations undermining our occupation today. Some in the administration are trying to make George Tenet the scapegoat for the affair. But Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of retired spooks, issued an open letter to President Bush yesterday reflecting the view of many in the intel community that the central culprit is Vice President Dick Cheney. The open letter called for Mr. Cheney's resignation. [ complete article ]

See also Intelligence unglued, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

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'Get my son home'
Suzanne Sataline, St. Petersburg Times, July 13, 2003

Even if they blocked out Fox News, stopped devouring the newspapers, and shut off the Internet, the mothers of this war would still know the toll of the desert. They would hear it in their children's voices.

Kathy Carter's son Brian, of Bluefield, W.Va., left for Kuwait in March. From the start the machine gunner brayed: "America's gonna kick butt and take names!"

He thought he'd be back for summer. But after the statues tumbled and the desert switched to broil, once the water bottles grew scarce and the body bags mounted, her 21-year-old son called a few weeks ago from Kuwait to say he didn't know when he'd be heading back. His voice was worn and flat and it scared his mother to tears.

Carter served in the Army and considers herself a loyal, patriotic Republican. But at that moment she transformed into an angry, defensive mom who realized that postwar Iraq is as terrifying and chaotic and endless for her boy as it seems from the states. [ complete article ]

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Power of presidency resides in language as well as law
Renana Brooks, clinical psychologist, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 13, 2003

George W. Bush is generally regarded as a mangler of the English language.

What is overlooked is his mastery of emotional language -- especially negatively charged emotional language -- as a political tool. Take a closer look at his speeches and public utterances and his political success turns out to be no surprise. It is the predictable result of the intentional use of language to dominate others.

Bush, like many dominant personality types, uses dependency-creating language. He employs language of contempt and intimidation to shame others into submission and desperate admiration. [ complete article ]

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Pattern of corruption
Paul Krugman, New York Times, July 15, 2003

More than half of the U.S. Army's combat strength is now bogged down in Iraq, which didn't have significant weapons of mass destruction and wasn't supporting Al Qaeda. We have lost all credibility with allies who might have provided meaningful support; Tony Blair is still with us, but has lost the trust of his public. All this puts us in a very weak position for dealing with real threats. Did I mention that North Korea has been extracting fissionable material from its fuel rods?

How did we get into this mess? The case of the bogus uranium purchases wasn't an isolated instance. It was part of a broad pattern of politicized, corrupted intelligence.

Literally before the dust had settled, Bush administration officials began trying to use 9/11 to justify an attack on Iraq. Gen. Wesley Clark says that he received calls on Sept. 11 from "people around the White House" urging him to link that assault to Saddam Hussein. His account seems to back up a report last September, headlined "Plans for Iraq Attack Began on 9/11," which quoted notes taken by aides to Donald Rumsfeld on the day of the attack: "Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not." [ complete article ]

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Baghdad Blogger
Salam Pax, The Guardian, July 15, 2003

I am happy, we all are. The general sentiment is: "Yes, of course we know it is not a real government, but it is a start." The mix is right; they just have to work more on the choice of characters, and they need a massive PR campaign. People just don't know who they are, especially the women.

I went down practically on my knees yesterday to find someone who would take me along. It wasn't good for the vibe in that press conference to have all those cynical journalists acting blase about the forming of the government: "Seen that, been there and watched them fall apart as well." I was truly excited. To get in, all you needed was a foreign ID. But true to the ways of the new Iraq, Iraqis were second-rank; I had to be with a foreigner to see my new government's first press conference. Very tough security procedures all the way through; my ass was grabbed three times, and when a soldier was told I was a translator, he said "so you speak French". Had to remind him he was in Iraq. [ complete article ]

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Some 9/11 families reject federal fund and sue
Martin Kasindorf, USA TODAY, July 13, 2003

The U.S. government made two promises to the families of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks: A special Justice Department fund would compensate their financial losses and official investigations would uncover the security failures that enabled al-Qaeda to kill 3,027 people.

Uncle Sam asked only one thing of the families in return: Don't drag the battered airlines and their affiliates into court. Many members of Congress wanted to avoid the sad spectacle of victims' families suing another hard-hit group.

Nearly two years later, many families of 9/11 victims are rejecting that guidance. [ complete article ]

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Conflict on Iraq-Syria border feeds rage against the U.S.
Dexter Filkins, New York Times, July 14, 2003

On this desolate stretch of desert along the Iraqi frontier, tensions with the American soldiers just across the border are running so high, Syrian soldiers say, that four villagers have been shot by American soldiers in the past month.

Soldiers on the Syrian side of the border said American soldiers shot dead two cousins, one Iraqi and one Syrian, as they crossed into Iraqi territory about three weeks ago. Since then, they said, two other Syrian civilians have been wounded in separate incidents this month. The Syrians said that American helicopters and planes routinely violate Syrian airspace while patrolling.

The events described at this Syrian border post are the latest in a series of incidents along the frontier. They include the American attack, on June 18, on a convoy suspected of ferrying loyalists of Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi leader.

That incident, along a smugglers' route about 30 miles from here, and the others have apparently fueled intense anti-American rage in the villages on the border. Among the signs of that anger is a series of video discs circulating through the villages exhorting viewers to attack the Americans in Iraq.

Indeed, the locals here say the anger is high enough to prompt young Syrians to go across the border to stage attacks against Americans soldiers. It is unclear whether the four villagers shot in the recent incidents had crossed into Iraq with that intention.

Local Syrian officials say they are growing increasingly frustrated and fearful that events could spin out of control. [ complete article ]

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U.S. agency turf battles at home have slowed progress in Afghanistan
Peter Thomsen, Los Angeles Times, July 13, 2003

It's a concept everyone in foreign relations understands: If you want to really know what's happening on the ground in a country -- in Afghanistan, say -- you have to have people there who speak the language, people who can talk and listen without interpreters. The State Department certainly knows this, which is why it runs months-long language and culture intensive programs for younger diplomats to bring them to full, functional fluency as quickly as possible. So, guess how many employees of the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have completed -- or even started -- the 10-month program to master Afghan languages since our military victory there. None.

That troubling fact is one small indication of why we have lost momentum in Afghanistan. [ complete article ]

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The cult of Rajavi
Elizabeth Rubin, New York Times, July 13, 2003

For more than 30 years, the Mujahedeen Khalq, or People's Mujahedeen, has survived and operated on the margins of history and the slivers of land that Saddam Hussein and French governments have proffered it. During the 1970's, while it was still an underground Iranian political movement, you could encounter some of its members on the streets of New York, waving pictures of torture victims of the shah's regime. In the 80's and 90's, after its leaders fled Iran, you could see them raising money and petitioning on university campuses around the United States, pumping photographs in the air of women mangled and tortured by the Islamic regime in Tehran. By then, they were also showing off other photographs, photographs that were in some ways more attention-grabbing: Iranian women in military uniforms who brandished guns, drove tanks and were ready to overthrow the Iranian government. Led by a charismatic husband-and-wife duo, Maryam and Massoud Rajavi, the Mujahedeen had transformed itself into the only army in the world with a commander corps composed mostly of women. [ complete article ]

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Different wars, different postwars
David Rohde, New York Times, July 13, 2003

On the streets of this city, the 8,500 American soldiers stationed in Afghanistan are nearly invisible. The best way to spot one usually is to roam Chicken Street, a cluster of shops that sell the detritus of the last two failed military occupations here muskets from the British colonial era and Soviet-made bayonets. Souvenir-seeking American G.I.'s seem drawn to them like moths.

Some 1,400 miles away on the streets of Baghdad, the opposite is true. American soldiers are virtually omnipresent. Armed to the teeth and enveloped in body armor, 145,000 American soldiers carry out patrols across the country, man checkpoints, arrest criminals and guard gas and power stations. Iraqis often stand beside them as trainees or translators.

The scenes reflect the widely divergent approaches the United States has taken to governing postwar Iraq and postwar Afghanistan -- occupation heavy or lite, if you will. While they reflect the combat strategies that helped win swift military victories in both countries, they have helped to create troubled peaces.

Recently, signs have emerged in both countries that American officials are deciding neither extreme is right. [ complete article ]

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Before the war, experts on counterterrorism warned that the confusion and anti-American sentiment in a post-war Iraq would provide perfect conditions in which terrorist organizations could operate. There are already indications that this prediction has come true.

Anti-U.S. group in Iraq claims Al Qaeda link
Reuters, July 14, 2003

A group claiming links to the al Qaeda network has released a tape saying it, not Saddam Hussein loyalists, was behind attacks on U.S. forces, but offered no evidence to back up the claims.

"I swear by God no one from his (Saddam Hussein's) followers carried out any jihad (holy struggle) operations like he claims...they are a result of our brothers in jihad," said an unidentified voice on a video tape aired by Dubai-based Al Arabiya television Sunday night. [ complete article ]

Interview with Daniel Benjamin
ABC (Australia), April 1, 2003

Daniel Benjamin is a senior fellow in the Center for Strategic & International Studies' International Security Program in Washington and served on the National Security Staff from 1994 to 1999 in the area of counterterrorism.

You've talked about the war being a gift to a particular group, can you expand on that, who's it a gift for?

The radical Islamists like bin Laden and his followers and affiliated groups around the world make the argument that the United States is leading a war to destroy Islam. By invading Iraq, the United States has inadvertently offered the Jihadists the most graphic demonstration of their case that we could and even though our ends may be not only benign but generous in fact we want to liberate the Iraqis from a dictator who truly is evil, the images of civilian casualties and the very fact of Americans being stationed in Iraq in large numbers will be interpreted by many around the Islamic world as proof of that argument and it may yet win over more converts to the radical's camp.

So it's a gift to the Jihad, somewhat helped them with recruitment do you think?

I believe it will help them with recruitment, with fundraising and with motivating their operatives to carry out attacks that may involve suicide.

Some people say that the United States hasn't been attacked yet so why would it happen after the war is over? What would you say to that argument?

There are a number of points to be made. First of all it's a mistake to think that catastrophic terror plotting has necessarily stopped. We don't have any evidence to that effect. And in fact Al Qaeda when it decides to carry out one of these attacks takes a very long time to put an operation together and the group is remarkable for the amount of patience that it has shown over the years. That's one thing, the other thing is that Al Qaeda is unique in the history of terrorism for being innovative and flexible in its tactics. Now it is true that it has shown a great preference for the catastrophic attack but I see nothing that will deter them from altering their tactics and opting for a lot of simpler attacks involving shall we say car or truck bombs, suicide attacks, snipers and the like and I don't think that it's necessarily the case that the only attacks will come in the US at home and in fact I think that the theatre of activity is likely to shift to Iraq itself. I don't think there'll ever be a clear distinction and everything will happen in one place or another but I do think that we will see in fact I think we're already seeing radicals gravitating to Iraq in the hope of attacking American military personnel there. [ complete article ]

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Ex-officials dispute Iraq tie to al-Qaida
Matt Kelley, Associated Press, July 12, 2003

As President Bush works to quiet a controversy over his discredited claim of Iraqi uranium shopping in Africa, another of his prewar assertions is coming under fire: the alleged link between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaida.

Before the war, Bush and members of his cabinet said Saddam was harboring top al-Qaida operatives and suggested Iraq could slip the terrorist network chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons. Now, two former Bush administration intelligence officials say the evidence linking Saddam to the group responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was never more than sketchy at best. [ complete article ]

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Intelligence unglued
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Counterpunch, July 14, 2003


FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: Intelligence Unglued

The glue that holds the Intelligence Community together is melting under the hot lights of an awakened press. If you do not act quickly, your intelligence capability will fall apart--with grave consequences for the nation. [ complete article ]

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A question of trust
Michael Duffy and James Carney, Time, July 13, 2003

... the controversy over those 16 words ["The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" delivered by George Bush in his State of the Union address] would not have erupted with such force were they not emblematic of larger concerns about Bush's reasoning for going to war in the first place. Making the case against Saddam last year, Bush claimed that Iraq's links to al-Qaeda and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) made the country an imminent threat to the region and, eventually, the U.S. He wrapped the evidence in the even more controversial doctrine of pre-emption, saying America could no longer wait for proof of its enemies' intentions before defending itself overseas -- it must sometimes strike first, even without all the evidence in hand. Much of the world was appalled by this logic, but Congress and the American public went along. Four months after the war started, at least one piece of key evidence has turned out to be false, the U.S. has yet to find weapons of mass destruction, and American soldiers keep dying in a country that has not greeted its liberators the way the Administration predicted it would. Now the false assertion and the rising casualties are combining to take a toll on Bush's standing with the public.
[ complete article ]

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'I don't know what I'm doing here in this city'
Lee Gordon, The Independent, July 13, 2003

"We didn't win this war, not at all," said reserve infantryman Eric Holt, on guard outside the Republican Palace in Baghdad. "I don't know what I'm doing here and I don't like what's happening in this city," continued the 28-year-old from New York State. "It ain't right for the folks here. You know, there are a whole lot of our girls getting pregnant just so they can go home quick." [...]

Violence is commonplace in Baghdad. On Monday a soldier was killed and three others injured when a home-made bomb was tossed on to a military convoy as it emerged from an underpass. The explosion ripped into a Humvee military car, tossing it across the road.

A crowd gathered to watch as the three injured soldiers were loaded into another Humvee. Sergeant Patrick Compton, who bore the brunt of the explosion, lay across the front seat of the damaged vehicle holding his torn and badly burnt arm, screaming for help. He was helped into the rescue vehicle but later died of his injuries. Asked about the incident, a sergeant in the military police smiled and lifted his helmet to wipe the sweat that was running down his face. "We're going to help clean up this mess and move out of here. Quickly. There is no damn chance of us catching anyone." Pointing to his men, who were trying to hold back a crowd of around 100 pushing towards the debris, he said: "There is nothing more we can do." [ complete article ]

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Iraq cost could mount to $100 Billion
Impact on other programs feared

Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post, July 13, 2003

The cost of the war and occupation of Iraq could reach $100 billion through next year, substantially higher than anticipated at the war's outset, according to defense and congressional aides. This is raising worries that other military needs will go unmet while the government is swamped in red ink.

The cost of the war so far, about $50 billion, already represents a 14 percent increase to military spending planned for this year. Even before the United States invaded Iraq in March, President Bush had proposed defense budgets through 2008 that would rise to $460 billion a year, up 74 percent from the $265 billion spent on defense in 1996, when the current buildup began.

At the same time, the federal budget deficit is exploding. This week, officials expect to announce that it will exceed $400 billion for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, the largest in U.S. history by a wide margin. Former White House budget director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. said last month the deficit should be smaller next year, but economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. -- factoring rising war costs -- said Friday the deficit may climb even higher than their previous $475 billion estimate. [ complete article ]

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'My life has changed for ever ... I don't think Mr Blair should get away with it'
Severin Carrell, The Independent, July 13, 2003

Operator Mechanic (Communications) Second Class Ian Seymour, 27. Royal Navy Commando.

One of eight British troops and four American air-crew killed when their US Sea Knight helicopter crashed in the Kuwaiti desert on 21 March, the first night of the war.

Lianne Seymour's patience is now exhausted. After her husband, Ian, a Commando radio operator, was killed, she endured the indignity of being asked to return his wages, was threatened with eviction from their married quarters and then told that his body parts were missing.

Now, as evidence mounts that the war was unjustified, she thinks Tony Blair should resign. "I'm an accountant, and I have a personal code of conduct in my job," she explained. "When things go seriously wrong I have to take the personal consequences, which would mean leaving my job, not getting my pension and losing my professional status. Yet Mr Blair doesn't lose anything.

"I just think this is a fundamental breach of confidence really, and I don't think he should be allowed to get away with it." [ complete article ]

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Niger and Iraq: the war's biggest lie?
Neil Mackay, Sunday Herald, July 13, 2003

In February 1999, Wissam Al Zahawie, the Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See in Rome, set off on a series of diplomatic visits to several African countries, including Niger. This trip triggered the allegations that Iraq was trying to buy tons of uranium from Niger -- a claim which could yet prove the most damning evidence that the British government exaggerated intelligence to bolster its case for war on Iraq.

Some time after the Iraqi ambassador's trip to Niger, the Italian intelligence service came into possession of forged documents claiming Saddam was after Niger uranium. We now know these documents were passed to MI6 and then handed by the British to the office of US Vice-President Dick Cheney . The forgeries were then used by Bush and Blair to scare the British and Americans and to box both Congress and Parliament into supporting war. There are an increasing number of claims suggesting Bush and Blair knew these documents were forged when they used them as evidence that Saddam Hussein was putting together a nuclear arsenal.

The truth behind claims that Blair's government 'sexed up' intelligence reports that Saddam could mobilise weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes may never be known, but the Niger forgeries lie like a smoking gun covered in Britain's fingerprints. At some point Tony Blair is going to have to answer questions about what the British government and MI6 were up to. [ complete article ]

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A soldier's life
Nancy Gibbs and Mark Thompson, Time, July 13, 2003

First Sergeant Coffin was the first American soldier to die in Iraq this month, and before the week was out, six more would be killed. On July 2, Marine Corporal Travis Bradach-Nall died clearing mines near Karbala. He was eligible to return to Camp Pendleton, Calif., soon after the war officially ended, but he volunteered to sign on for an extra three months because he wanted to earn more money for college, and because he felt there was still work to do. The next day Private Corey Small died from a gunshot wound "in a noncombat incident," and Private First Class Jim Herrgott was killed by a sniper as he guarded the Iraqi National Museum. Three days later, Sergeant David Parson was shot in Baghdad while raiding a house, and Specialist Jeffrey Wershow was shot in the back of the head while guarding a U.S. delegation at Baghdad University. The next day gunner Chad Keith died when a bomb blew up his convoy on a Baghdad street.

Seven deaths in seven days, each one different, each in its own way a warning. This is a twilight war, the kind America is loath to fight, is reluctant even to train for, as though we can make our enemies agree to our terms of combat, meet us at noon on the field of battle and be crushed by our overwhelming force into absolute surrender. [ complete article ]

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When frontier justice becomes foreign policy
Thomas Powers, New York Times, July 13, 2003

Since President Bush announced the end of major military operations on May 1, it has become increasingly clear that the Iraq war is not over, that there is a concerted campaign of resistance and that Mr. Hussein remains a formidable foe. Over the last 10 days the chief American official in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, has frequently stressed the importance of capturing or killing Mr. Hussein.

The campaign to kill him, frankly admitted and discussed by high officials in the White House, Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency, has committed the United States for the first time to public, personalized, open-ended warfare in the classic mode of Middle Eastern violence an eye for an eye, a life for a life.

American officials in the White House and Iraq have argued that Mr. Hussein's survival encourages resistance, and killing him is therefore a legitimate act of war. But the United States has never before openly marked foreign leaders for killing. Treating it as routine could level the moral playing field and invite retaliation in kind, and makes every American official both here and in the Middle East a target of opportunity.

Realists may scoff that war is war and that things have always been this way, but in fact personalized killing has a way of deepening the bitterness of war without bringing conflict closer to resolution. In April 1986 President Reagan authorized an air raid on the home of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya that spared him but killed his daughter. The Reagan administration never acknowledged that Colonel Qaddafi, personally, was the target, nor did it publicly speculate two years later that Libya's bombing of an American jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, was Colonel Qaddafi's revenge for the death of his daughter. But the administration got the message: after Lockerbie, Washington relied on legal action to settle the score. [ complete article ]

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Court affirms Bush's power to detain citizen as enemy
Neil A. Lewis, New York Times, July 10, 2003

A sharply divided federal appeals court today upheld President Bush's authority to detain indefinitely as an enemy combatant a United States citizen captured on the battlefield and to deny him access to a lawyer.

The full roster of active judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., voted 8 to 4 to affirm a ruling in January that first found such a right, the administration's most important legal victory to date concerning expansion of its authority since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The judges today did not issue a majority opinion, just an order upholding the January decision. Four of them, however, on either side of the issue, wrote separate, sometimes harshly worded opinions, demonstrating the deep divisions in a case that essentially presents a stark and fundamental clash between the nation's security interests and its citizens' civil liberties.

The January ruling and today's affirmation provide what lawyers on both sides describe as a significant expansion of the president's unilateral powers. [ complete article ]

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