www.albasrah.net

 

GI Special:

thomasfbarton@earthlink.net

4.13.05

Print it out (color best).  Pass it on.

 

GI SPECIAL 3A97:

 

 

 

 

IRAQ WAR REPORTS

 

 

Connellsville-Based Guardsmen Injured In Car Bombing

 

April 12, 2005 The Tribune-Review Publishing Co

 

Several Army National Guard soldiers serving in Iraq with a unit based in Connellsville were seriously injured, including a Fayette County man who had a leg amputated, when their armored vehicle was struck by a car bomb.

 

Military officials could not be reached for comment last night, but according to a memo sent to families and obtained by the Tribune-Review, at least three soldiers with Company B, 1st Battalion, 103rd Armor, were evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, for treatment immediately after the April 7 attack.

 

The Connellsville unit is one of five Pennsylvania Army National Guard units mobilized last summer for deployment to Iraq.  Approximately 63 of the soldiers are based in Connellsville.

 

According to the Army memo, the injured soldiers were part of a convoy of five armored Humvees that was returning to base after a nighttime patrol near Ash Sharqat, Iraq, when they were attacked.  As the convoy moved toward the base gate, one of the Humvees was hit by a car bomb.

 

Four soldiers trapped inside the burning Humvee were pulled to safety by others in the unit, according to the memo, saving their lives.  All four were evacuated to an Army Combat Support Hospital in Mosul for treatment, with three later transferred to Germany.

 

One of the injured soldiers was identified last night by a family friend as Tim Boots. Boots is the son of Wes Boots, of Uniontown, and Sheila Boots, of Connellsville.

 

Melissa Farrell, a teacher in the Southmoreland School District, learned of Tim Boots' injuries from the soldier's mother, who also teaches at Southmoreland.

 

According to Farrell, Sheila Boots indicated her son had his right leg amputated just below the knee.  He also suffered a fractured left leg, broken ribs and punctured liver, and his spleen was removed.

 

Family members of other soldiers in the Connellsville unit confirmed an incident had occurred, but they said the Army had ordered them not to discuss it.

 

Josephine Halfhill, of Lemont Furnace, has a son, Shaun, serving in the unit.  She said she learned through an e-mail that her son was not among those injured.

 

Spc. Dale Smith, of Fairchance, said family members were notified of the attack during a Family Readiness Group meeting held shortly after the incident.

 

 

Four U.S. Troops Wounded In Samarra

 

4.11.05 Chicago Tribune

 

A Samarra bombing targeted a U.S. military convoy as it patrolled a crowded market. At least three people were killed and more than 20 were wounded, including four U.S. soldiers, officials told The Associated Press.

 

 

Soldier From Lancaster County Wounded

 

April 11, 2005 WGAL, WEST HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP, Pa

 

Staff Sgt. Jason Leisey, of West Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, was in critical condition Monday night after an explosion outside his base in Iraq.

 

Leisey was almost back at his base Thursday when a suicide bomber aimed his at the soldier's convoy, officials said.

 

Leisey suffered third-degree burns on his left arm and the left side of his face and hand.

 

Anyone wishing to can mail donations to Staff Sgt. Jason Leisey, in care of the Hempfield Area School District, 200 Church Street, Landisville, PA, 17538.

 

 

U.S. “Contractor” Captured

 

Apr. 12, 2005 By Ellen Knickmeyer, Washington Post

 

An American contractor believed to be working on an aid project was reported kidnapped in the Baghdad area, the U.S. Embassy said.  Authorities released no other information, but soldiers stepped up searches of vehicles entering Baghdad's heavily fortified ``green zone.''

 

 

 

TROOP NEWS

 

 

Bush Too Fucking Dumb To Know What This Means

 

Apr 12, 2005 By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer

 

FORT HOOD, Texas President Bush visited soldiers at the largest U.S. military base Tuesday, marking the two-year anniversary of the end of Saddam Hussein's regime by saying it will be remembered along with the fall of the Berlin Wall as one of history's greatest moments.

 

Bush thanked the soldiers at Fort Hood who have recently returned from Iraq or are heading there this fall, but said it isn't time to start bringing U.S. forces home.

 

The crowd remained somber and silent for much of the speech as Bush talked about the plight of Iraqis and soldiers who have aided them.  They let out occasional whoops as Bush mentioned various base contingents who have contributed.

 

NEED SOME TRUTH?  CHECK OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER

Telling the truth - about the occupation or the criminals running the government in Washington - is the first reason for Traveling Soldier.  But we want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance - whether it's in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or inside the armed forces.  Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help you organize resistance within the armed forces.  If you like what you've read, we hope that you'll join with us in building a network of active duty organizers.  http://www.traveling-soldier.org/  And join with Iraq War vets in the call to end the occupation and bring our troops home now! (www.ivaw.net)

 

 

Poland To Withdraw Troops From Iraq By End Of 2005

 

04/12/05 focus

 

Warsaw:. Poland will pull back its troops from Iraq by the end of 2005, Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski announced, as cited by world agencies.

 

“When the UN mandate in Iraq expires, the Polish stability mission in the country should also be terminated”, Szmajdzinski said after a conference of the government in Poland.

 

 

ANOTHER BIG SURPRISE!

Pentagon Faulted For Shortage Of Critical War Supplies

 

[GovExec.com, April 11, 2005]

The Government Accountability Office blames DoD’s poor planning, lagging funding and an ineffective distribution system for causing delays in getting supplies to troops in Iraq.

 

 

THIS IS HOW BUSH BRINGS THE TROOPS HOME:

BRING THEM ALL HOME NOW

William and Beatrice Sherrill with the flag that covered the casket of their son, Kentucky National Guard Sgt. James A. Sherrill, at his burial site April 12, 2005, near Ekron, Ky. Sherrill, 27, was killed April 3, 2005, in Iraq.

 

 

Senate Votes Down Money For Hurt Iraq Vets

 

April 12, 2005 By Rick Maze, Army Times staff writer

 

By two 54-46 votes, the Senate blocked efforts Tuesday to add money for veterans’ health care to the 2005 supplemental appropriations bill.

 

Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, both members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, sought to add $1.9 billion to the $80.6 billion wartime emergency supplemental appropriations bill to cover costs of treating returning combat veterans for war-related injuries and to cover shortfalls in funding for VA programs.

 

Their amendment would have provided $1.975 billion to the VA, with $525 million earmarked for mental health programs, $610 million provided specifically for the treatment of veterans wounded in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and $840 million evenly divided between VA regions.

 

The amendment was blocked by a parliamentary motion from Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, who said the funding is not really an emergency need.

 

“The administration has not asked for these funds,” Cochran said in explaining the rejection of the amendment.

 

 

Maryland Shitstorm:

Military Bases Polluting Bay But Pentagon Refusing To Help Pay For Cleanup

 

April 11, 2005 Associated Press

 

BALTIMORE — Records show three Maryland military bases have spilled about 20 million gallons of sewage into Chesapeake Bay tributaries in 10 years, raising questions about the military’s refusal to pay the state’s “flush tax,” which was designed to clean up the bay.

 

“Whenever you have sewage spills totaling in the many millions of gallons, that is significant, and this shows (the bases) are definitely a significant source of pollution to the bay and a threat to public health,” said Kim Coble, Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  “This clearly speaks to the point that the military has a role to play in bay cleanup and protection.”

 

Last year, the General Assembly enacted legislation proposed by Gov. Robert Ehrlich that imposes a surcharge on public water bills to raise money to pay for improvements to sewage-treatment plants. The fee was expected to raise $65 million a year to fix up plants, which are a major source of bay pollution.

 

The Department of Defense has been saying since January that its agencies won’t pay.

 

If the military paid into the fund, it could use some of the money to improve its sewage treatment plants and help clean up the bay, Nancy W. Young, assistant state attorney general, wrote to the Navy in a Feb. 28 letter.

 

“It is appropriate that the Navy pay the fee,” Young wrote.  “Because all streams draining to the Chesapeake Bay discharge pollutants to it, all wastewater treatment plants discharging ... to such streams are responsible for the cost.”

 

 

HAVING A BAD DAY?

From: NL  To: GI Special; April 12

 

 

 

IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP

 

 

Iraqis Increasingly Call On U.S. Forces To Leave:

“We Consider The Americans Our Enemy, Not Our Savior From The Hussein Regime."

 

HA HA

An Iraqi Police officer points his rifle at another during a demonstration against the U.S. military presence and the detainment of Iraqis in Samarra, April 12, 2005. (AP Photo/Hameed Rasheed)

 

Apr 12, 2005 By TRACI CARL, Associated Press Writer, BAGHDAD, Iraq

 

Iraqis are increasingly calling on U.S. forces to leave their troubled nation, emboldened by a newly elected parliament and the growing presence of their blue-uniformed police forces — even though the new Iraqi leaders say it's too early to talk about a U.S. pullout.

 

The calls gained momentum when Shiite and Sunni religious clerics called for protests to mark the two-year anniversary of Baghdad's fall, prompting four days of demonstrations across the country.

 

Tens of thousands of mostly Shiite protesters, largely followers of militant cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, filled central Baghdad's streets Saturday, holding the largest anti-American protest since the invasion.

 

Demonstrations have continued, all echoing the same demand: It's time for U.S. troops to leave.

 

On Sunday, protesters shouted anti-American slogans in Duluiyah, 45 miles north of the capital. A day later, a similar demonstration was held in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

 

On Tuesday, in the troubled city of Samarra, tribal, city and religious leaders gathered along with students in the shadow of a spiral minaret, throwing rocks at U.S. tanks and shouting for the Americans to leave.

 

"The Iraqis will fight until they force (the Americans) to leave and let us live in peace and security," Hassan Neama, 33, said Tuesday in Baghdad.  "They are the source of all of Iraq's problems.  We consider the Americans our enemy, not our savior from the Hussein regime."

 

"The American troops should leave our country because there is an elected government in Iraq now.  If they stay longer, things won't get any better," said Abdul Rahman Hatam, a 21-year-old cook in Baghdad.  "We, as Arabs, don't accept any foreigner controlling our country."

 

 

Anti-Occupation Demonstrations In Baquaba Continuing

 

4.12.05 AFP, BAQUBA, Iraq:

 

About 400 university students burnt the US flag in a demonstration against the US military presence in Iraq yesterday two days after a massive anti-US protest in Baghdad.

 

The students from Diyala University marched from their campus to the provincial government building in the centre of the restive city of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, chanting "No occupation, Yes independence!"

 

Others shouted: "No, no occupier, Iraqis will never be dishonoured" and "Baghdad will be victorious," as they set fire to the US flag.

 

Demonstrators handed local officials a list of demands that included the release of all students detained by Iraqi and US forces, compensation for those subjected to US raids, withdrawal of US forces from inside Iraqi cities.

 

OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION

BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

 

 

Assorted Resistance Action

 

12 April 2005 Aljazeera & DـNYA & (KUNA)

 

Late on Monday, armed men opened fire on a police patrol in the northeastern Iraq city of Kirkuk, injuring two members of the security service, police Brigadier Sarhat Kadier said.

 

Iraqi security officials announced yesterday that another Turkish driver, Cevat Bahtiyar, had lost his life in a blast in northern Baghdad.

 

Interior Undersecretary Major General Tareq Al-Badawi on Tuesday escaped a bid on his life in the western sector of the Iraqi capital, police said.

 

Al-Badawi's motorcade was sprayed with a hail of gunfire from gunmen in two speeding cars in Al-Adl district, killing a policeman and wounding four others, the police added.

 

 

"We Have Emerged From The Jails Of Saddam, Only To Enter The Jails Of The Americans"

Iraqi Shi'ites l re-enact a torture scene from the Abu Ghraib prison during a protest rally in Baghdad April 9, 2005. The rally was called on the second anniversary of the fall of Baghdad with protesters demanding an end to the U.S. military presence in Iraq. REUTERS/Kimo Atal

 

"We have emerged from the jails of Saddam, only to enter the jails of the Americans," said Muayad al-Khazraji, a cleric, as protesters wearing US-style camouflage and orange jumpsuits acted out skits depicting the abuse of prisoners in US- supervised detention facilities.  4.10.05 By Steve Negus, London Financial Times

 

 

FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

 

 

US Appears To Have Fought War For Oil And Lost It

 

April 11 2005 From Dr Ian Rutledge, Financial Times

 

Sir, Your recent report that oil prices have reached an all-time nominal high and that Goldman Sachs has suggested the possibility of a "super spike" in prices to as high as $105 per barrel ("Crude at all-time high despite Opec's efforts", April 5) should be of no surprise to anyone who has studied the informed opinions of US energy experts in the period leading up to the invasion of Iraq.  Nor, for that matter, to anyone who has seen my own observations on future world oil prices in my recent book Addicted to Oil.

 

In a crucial report to President George W. Bush by the US Council on Foreign Relations in April 2001, the president was warned that: "As the 21st century opens, the energy sector is in a critical condition.  A crisis could erupt at any time . . . The world is currently close to utilising all of its available global oil production capacity, raising the chances of an oil supply crisis with more substantial consequences than seen in three decades."

 

With US oil consumption in 2001 at an all-time high (19.7m b/d), import penetration at 53 per cent, and dependence on Arabian Gulf oil also at an all-time record (14.1 per cent of total US domestic and foreign supplies), the council stated that it was absolutely imperative that "political factors do not block the development of new oil fields in the Gulf" and that "the Department of State, together with the National Security Council" should "develop a strategic plan to encourage reopening to foreign investment in the important states of the Middle East".

 

But while the council argued that "there is no question that this investment is vitally important to US interests" it also acknowledged that "there is strong opposition to any such opening among key segments of the Saudi and Kuwaiti populations".

 

However, there was an alternative. In the words of ESA Inc (Boston), the US's leading energy security analysts: "One of the best things for our supply security would be liberate Iraq"; words echoed by William Kristol, the Republican party ideologist, in testimony to the House Subcommittee on the Middle East on May 22 2002 that as far as oil was concerned, "Iraq is more important than Saudi Arabia".

 

So when, according to the former head of ExxonMobil's Gulf operations, "Iraqi exiles approached us saying, you can have our oil if we can get back in there", the Bush administration decided to use its overwhelming military might to create a pliant - and dependable - oil protectorate in the Middle East and achieve that essential "opening" of the Gulf oilfields.

 

But in the words of another US oil company executive, "it all turned out a lot more complicated than anyone had expected".

 

Instead of the anticipated post-invasion rapid expansion of Iraqi production (an expectation of an additional 2m b/d entering the world market by now), the continuing violence of the insurgency has prevented Iraqi exports from even recovering to pre-invasion levels.

 

In short, the US appears to have fought a war for oil in the Middle East, and lost it.  The consequences of that defeat are now plain for all to see.

 

Ian Rutledge,

Chesterfield S40 4TR

 

 

 

 

American Forces In Trouble Throughout Iraq

 

In reality, large parts of Iraq are outside American or Iraqi government control.  This includes the vital frontier zone with Syria, west of the northern capital of Mosul.  Here, the insurgents have largely taken over since US troops departed some months ago.

 

12 April 2005 Patrick Cockburn, Independent

 

Seven hundred Iraqi and US troops swept through central Baghdad yesterday, arresting 65 suspected militants.

 

But despite this show of force, American forces are on the retreat throughout Iraq.

 

Slowly, the great American adventure in the country, which started with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, is coming to an end.

 

In reality, large parts of Iraq are outside American or Iraqi government control.  This includes the vital frontier zone with Syria, west of the northern capital of Mosul.  Here, the insurgents have largely taken over since US troops departed some months ago.

 

"Ten days ago our forces tried to set up a new post on the border and were fired on, losing two men killed," a well-informed Iraqi official told The Independent.  "When they pursued their attackers, the insurgents fled to a police station and we had to fight the police."  He added that Mosul, with a population of 1.5 million, was "a time bomb which might explode at any moment".

 

The US military has not been defeated by the insurgents, but it has been unable to suppress them.  In April 2003, US tanks captured Baghdad airport and roared triumphantly in to the capital.  But two years later, US forces have still been unable to secure the airport road.

 

The US long denounced the insurgents as remnants of the old regime of Saddam or foreign fighters.  Military commanders now try to quantify them as numbering 15,000 to 20,000. 

 

But, in fact, most of the Sunni Muslim regions of Iraq, with a population of four or five million, are in more or less open revolt.

 

The position of the US militarily in Iraq remains very unstable.

 

It can contain but not defeat the Sunni insurgency.

 

But if the Shias, 60 per cent of the population, also turned against the US, then the military occupation would end immediately.

 

What do you think?  Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome.  Send to contact@militaryproject.org.  Name, I.D., withheld on request.  Replies confidential.

 

 

OCCUPATION REPORT

 

 

“Great Idea...Karruthers, Where Do You Get Them?”

 

[The boldface comments on the article are from Ahmed Al-Habbabi, The Anti-Allawi Group, 4.5.05]

 

U.S. Forces In Iraq Are “Too Heavy-Handed” – UK Panel

 

[Well... the English have been known for their understatements!]

 

U.S. forces in Iraq are provoking civilians and hindering reconstruction efforts by using extensive force, a British parliamentary committee said in a report Tuesday.

 

"Excessive use by the U.S. forces of overwhelming firepower has also been counterproductive, provoking antagonism toward the coalition among ordinary Iraqis," the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said in its report, reiterating the concerns of several British officials.

 

[Antagonism!  So that's what it's called...]

 

Many British officials have privately complained that U.S. troops are too heavy-handed in Iraq, compared with UK troops, whom they say often patrol on foot and in berets instead of helmets in an attempt to win the trust of Iraqi civilians.

 

[Not much different when it comes to torture...]

 

The committee, representing three parties, also said that the heavy-handed policy has led to the slow pace of reconstruction which had strengthened the Iraqi resistance. It also suggested that Iraq had replaced Afghanistan as a training ground for international fighters who play a leading and deadly role in the war-torn country.

 

However, it said that most fighters are local Iraqis who “have been dispossessed by policies adopted by the coalition since the war, such as de-Baathification and the disbanding of the Iraqi security forces,''

 

It added that the occupation forces had clearly failed to curb the violence and said that the new Iraqi government should try to negotiate with the fighters.

 

"We conclude that to date the counter-insurgency strategy has not succeeded.

 

[You don't say, Karruthers!]

 

This may reflect an overriding focus on a military approach to the detriment of political engagement ...

 

"While negotiations with al-Qaeda and foreign fighters are out of the question, it might be possible to address some of the Iraqi insurgents' grievances through political negotiations," the report said.

 

[And we all know why they're out of the question...]

 

[And what about the non-insurgent grievances?  Each of a few million have some...]

 

The findings are similar to those of other parliamentary reports that have criticized the poor post-war planning in Iraq.

 

[Yeh similar... yeh, I know what you mean... and similar where it ends up too.]

 

The committee, which investigates Britain’s foreign policy, also criticized the British government. It said that ministers had clearly failed to say whether or not Britain had used intelligence obtained under torture from suspects detained in other countries.

 

"We find it surprising and unsettling that the government has twice failed to answer our specific question on whether or not the United Kingdom receives or acts upon information extracted under torture by a third country," said the report.

 

The panel also said that the ministers should do something about the illegal detentions in Guantanamo Bay and other U.S. facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, where there was a "lack of due process and oppressive conditions."

 

[Great idea...Karruthers, where do you get them?]

 

Article: 4/5/2005 Al Jazeera Publishing Limited

 

 

Welcome To Hell:

A Tour Of “Liberated” Baghdad

 

"I am getting out of here, getting out soon," one network correspondent told me.  When I asked why - for American foreign correspondents Iraq is, after all, the most important story going - he shrugged: "It's no longer honest work."

 

08 April 2005 By Mark Danner, TomDispatch.com

 

Just past dawn on January 30, Iraq's Election Day - the fourth of the US occupation's "turning points," after the fall of Baghdad, the capture of Saddam Hussein, and the "handover of sovereignty" - I stood at the muddy gates of Muthana Air Base outside Baghdad watching the sun rise, pink and full, into a white-streaked sky; then, feeling a sudden tremor beneath my feet, I started abruptly: the explosion was loud and, judging by the vibrations, not far off.

 

I turned to the US Army captain who had been waiting with me next to Muthana's inner watchtower, and saw his lazy smile. He had been watching me.

 

"Mortar?"

 

"No, sir," Captain Vic Schairstein said.  "That would be an IED" - an improvised explosive device.  "That's the low pitch.  We've taken so many mortar rounds by now you can tell by the pitch whether they're 60s, 82s, whatever. It's like an outfielder judging a pop fly by the sound of the bat."

 

My face, puffy from a sleepless night spent on a makeshift canvas cot tracking incessant small-arms fire and intermittent explosions, must have betrayed concern, for here the captain's smile broadened.  "Don't worry, sir, it's early," he said. "They haven't had time to go to the mosque to get all jihaded up yet."

 

Then, as my ride appeared - two armored BMWs rumbling slowly up the muddy track toward blast walls and barbed wire - and the captain helped me gather up my flak jacket and my helmet, he offered a final word for the day ahead. "Those VBIEDs" - vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, military-speak for car bombs - "have you ever noticed how they all tend to be white?  I guess that's for purity.  Anyway, you might keep that in mind."

 

The sun was turning orange now, the sky pale gray, and the gathering light on Baghdad's streets revealed no cars, pure white or otherwise.  Driving slowly through the monumental avenues and great squares we saw... nothing: no cars, no people, no dogs. Nothing moved.  It was as if every living thing had been felled by a sudden and lethal plague.

 

Until we noticed, wrapped about a distant bridge, a glittering necklace of barbed wire; within it a clutter of tan American armor and, among the humvees and blast barriers and tank traps, a sudden burst of movement. What was happening?

 

We slowed and squinted, and in a moment realized with a start that we were happening: the soldiers had seen us -four or five assault rifles were leveled at us and the big gun of one of the humvees was swinging to.  Arms flailed in the air; mouths opened and closed; they were shouting, though we could hear no words.  A soldier sprinting forward, rifle pointed at us in his right hand, held up a clear signal with his left: we were not to move.

 

Three or four minutes passed; we were scrutinized through binoculars, telescopic sights. We kept our eyes forward and our hands visible and waited.  Up ahead now, at the bridge checkpoint, I saw the soldier motion with his rifle: come forward - but slowly, slowly.  We crept forward and then about two hundred yards from the checkpoint we were halted once more and with his rifle the soldier motioned the driver from the car.

 

Our Iraqi driver, who worked for The New York Times, glanced back at me.  He was to have collected me at Muthana the night before but, in the gathering darkness and the imminent curfew, American soldiers had stopped him.  "When I started to get out of the car they fired over my head," he told me.  "The soldier ordered me to kneel on the ground and then to walk to him on my knees with my hands on my head.  Then he rested his gun barrel here"-he touched his temple-"and said, 'They're going to search the car. If anything happens, the first thing I do is shoot you.'"

 

Slowly, carefully, our driver opened the door and stepped out; hands on head, he advanced slowly toward the bridge, a sleepwalker in the suddenly bright morning. Several guns were trained on him but most remained fixed on us.

 

No one spoke.

 

When he reached the soldiers he was roughly seized, his shirt pulled up, torso searched, credentials checked; then a full body search.  Finally, guns raised, they motioned us out. Arms up, we inched forward; at last we in turn were seized, frisked, credentials checked; led finally into a small barbed-wire enclosure: wait here.  The driver was sent back to the car, ordered to bring the vehicle forward-but slowly, slowly.  We stood watching as the soldiers encircled the car, opened the hood, trunk, passed a mirror under the chassis, began dismantling the panels in the trunk...

 

Onto the dusty tan city that was Baghdad, dotted with Saddam's grandiloquent Babylonian modernism - the minatory office towers, the ceremonial gates and looming monuments - had been superimposed, in the two years of occupation, an entirely new architecture, a harsh gray city of a distinctive high-brutalist style.

 

Oceans of concrete had flowed into Baghdad, miles of barbed wire had been unwound around and through it, mountains of sand had been poured over it, and everywhere these most basic of elements had been gathered and shaped into the distinctive forms I saw before me.  Lining the bridge, Berliners: twelve- or fifteen-foot-high blast barriers of rough concrete named for the Berlin Wall that now marched by the hundreds and thousands along Baghdad's main streets and avenues, masking vast parts of the city from public view.

 

Blocking the bridge and surrounding the American armor were Jersey barriers: concrete half-walls that, arranged in the form of "chicanes," or tight S-curve-shaped obstacles, force vehicles to slow and stop.

 

Tank traps: massive iron bars welded together in crisscross forms so that they resemble the jacks a giant child might play with, typically draped, as here, in flamboyant swirls of barbed wire. Hesco barriers: huge square canvas bags reinforced with steel and filled with dirt or cinderblocks, the giant's version of a sandbag, stacked in their scores and hundreds.

 

Sandbagged bunkers.  Steel watchtowers.  Iron blast doors. X-ray machines. Magnetometers.  Sniffer dogs.  And the ubiquitous squads of men, some uniformed but more often not, armed with 9 mms and AK-47s and the clear willingness to fire first and ask questions afterward.

 

A year before the concrete elements of this new architecture had encircled the ministries, the public buildings, the military bases, and of course the hotels.

 

Now, under the pressure of hundreds of suicide bombings and kidnappings, they had metastasized, acquiring extra layers and additional cordons, and moved in force into residential neighborhoods, surrounding the homes of government workers and politicians and businessmen and finally doctors and lawyers and anyone of any means or power, anyone who might conceivably, for reasons political or financial, be targeted for assassination or kidnapping.

 

So pervasively had this new rough concrete and steel world imposed itself that one evening in the well-to-do district of Mansour, my driver, bewildered by the proliferating roadblocks and checkpoints and chicanes, found himself unable to find a way out of a neighborhood he had known well for decades but that had now become something alien and unfamiliar, a kind of gray mirror-maze of security.

 

As suicide bombers and kidnappers created the new concrete city, they have driven reporters off the streets, away from the restaurants and shops, away from "ordinary Iraqis," forcing them to sheath themselves in flak jackets and helmets, move in armored cars, and finally take refuge behind blast walls and barbed wire and armed guards in fortress-like hotels.  Television reporters, politically the most important journalists on the ground- for they supply information, and above all images, to by far the largest number of people - are in practical terms the most vulnerable; their large "footprint" - the cameras and other equipment they carry, the crews they bring to carry it - makes them most conspicuous, and thus most restricted.

 

The correspondent you watch signing off his nightly report from the war zone with his name, network, and dateline "Baghdad" is usually speaking from the grounds or the roof of a fully guarded, barricaded hotel - a virtual high-rise bunker - and may not have ventured out of that hotel all day, having spent his time telephoning, reading the wires, and scrutinizing footage from Iraqi "stringers" who have been out on the street.

 

When he does leave the hotel it will be in an armored car, surrounded by armed security guards, and very likely the destination will be a news conference or briefing or arranged interview in the vast American-ruled bunker known as "the Green Zone."

 

Sorties beyond Baghdad, or even to "hot" neighborhoods within the capital, can usually be undertaken only by "embedding" with American troops.

 

It is a bizarre, dispiriting way to work, this practice of "hotel journalism," producing not only a highly constrained picture of the country and its politics but, on the part of the journalist, constant fear, anxiety, and ultimately intense frustration.

 

"I am getting out of here, getting out soon," one network correspondent told me.  When I asked why - for American foreign correspondents Iraq is, after all, the most important story going - he shrugged: "It's no longer honest work."

 

 

 

DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK

 

 

NY City Cops Caught Faking Evidence And Telling Stupid Lies:

Most Anti-War Protesters Not Guilty Of Anything

 

April 12, 2005 By JIM DWYER, New York Times

 

Dennis Kyne put up such a fight at a political protest last summer, the arresting officer recalled, it took four police officers to haul him down the steps of the New York Public Library and across Fifth Avenue.

 

"We picked him up and we carried him while he squirmed and screamed," the officer, Matthew Wohl, testified in December. "I had one of his legs because he was kicking and refusing to walk on his own."

 

Accused of inciting a riot and resisting arrest, Mr. Kyne was the first of the 1,806 people arrested in New York last summer during the Republican National Convention to take his case to a jury.

 

But one day after Officer Wohl testified, and before the defense called a single witness, the prosecutor abruptly dropped all charges.

 

During a recess, the defense had brought new information to the prosecutor.  A videotape shot by a documentary filmmaker showed Mr. Kyne agitated but plainly walking under his own power down the library steps, contradicting the vivid account of Officer Wohl, who was nowhere to be seen in the pictures.  Nor was the officer seen taking part in the arrests of four other people at the library against whom he signed complaints.

 

The Manhattan district attorney's office is reviewing the testimony of Officer Wohl at the request of Lewis B. Oliver Jr., the lawyer who represented Mr. Kyne in his arrest at the library. 

 

For Mr. Kyne and 400 others arrested that week, video recordings provided evidence that they had not committed a crime or that the charges against them could not be proved, according to defense lawyers and prosecutors.

 

Among them was Alexander Dunlop, who said he was arrested while going to pick up sushi.

 

Last week, he discovered that there were two versions of the same police tape: the one that was to be used as evidence in his trial had been edited at two spots, removing images that showed Mr. Dunlop behaving peacefully.  When a volunteer film archivist found a more complete version of the tape and gave it to Mr. Dunlop's lawyer, prosecutors immediately dropped the charges and said that a technician had cut the material by mistake.

 

Seven months after the convention at Madison Square Garden, criminal charges have fallen against all but a handful of people arrested that week.

 

Of the 1,670 cases that have run their full course, 91 percent ended with the charges dismissed or with a verdict of not guilty after trial.

 

Many were dropped without any finding of wrongdoing, but also without any serious inquiry into the circumstances of the arrests, with the Manhattan district attorney's office agreeing that the cases should be "adjourned in contemplation of dismissal."

 

So far, 162 defendants have either pleaded guilty or were convicted after trial, and videotapes that bolstered the prosecution's case played a role in at least some of those cases, although prosecutors could not provide details.

 

Besides offering little support or actually undercutting the prosecution of most of the people arrested, the videotapes also highlight another substantial piece of the historical record: the Police Department's tactics in controlling the demonstrations, parades and rallies of hundreds of thousands of people were largely free of explicit violence.

 

Throughout the convention week and afterward, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that the police issued clear warnings about blocking streets or sidewalks, and that officers moved to arrest only those who defied them.

 

In the view of many activists - and of many people who maintain that they were passers-by and were swept into dragnets indiscriminately thrown over large groups - the police strategy appeared to be designed to sweep them off the streets on technical grounds as a show of force.

 

Mr. Dunlop learned that his tape had been altered only after Ms. Clancy found another version of the same tape.  Mr. Dunlop had been accused of pushing his bicycle into a line of police officers on the Lower East Side and of resisting arrest, but the deleted parts of the tape show him calmly approaching the police line, and later submitting to arrest without apparent incident.

 

In what appeared to be the most violent incident at the convention protests, video shot by news reporters captured the beating of a man on a motorcycle - a police officer in plainclothes - and led to the arrest of one of those involved, Jamal Holiday.  After eight months in jail, he pleaded guilty last month to attempted assault, a low-level felony that will be further reduced if he completes probation.  His lawyer, Elsie Chandler of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, said that videos had led to his arrest, but also provided support for his claim that he did not realize the man on the motorcycle was a police officer, reducing the severity of the offense.

 

In the bulk of the 400 cases that were dismissed based on videotapes, most involved arrests at three places - 16th Street near Union Square, 17th Street near Union Square and on Fulton Street - where police officers and civilians taped the gatherings, said Martin R. Stolar, the president of the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.  Those tapes showed that the demonstrators had followed the instructions of senior officers to walk down those streets, only to have another official order their arrests.

 

Do you have a friend or relative in the service?  Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly.  Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and inside the armed services.  Send requests to address up top.

 

 

RUMSFELD ENCOURAGED BY IRAQIS CHANTING 'YOU GO, AMERICA!'

 

April 11, 2005 The Borowitz Report

 

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said today that he was encouraged by massive demonstrations in Baghdad over the weekend marking the second anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein, telling reporters that he was particularly heartened by the Iraqis' chant of "You go, America!"

 

"I have not seen so much excitement since the Army-Navy game," a beaming Rumsfeld told reporters at a Pentagon press briefing.  "You could tell that they were awfully worked up about something."

 

While conceding that he did not know "a lick of Arabic," Mr. Rumsfeld said, "You don't need to know the language to see how excited those folks were - they were hooting and hollering up a storm."

 

The Defense Secretary took particular pride in pointing out that the Iraqis had "gone to the trouble" of building a life-like effigy of President George W. Bush.

 

"They were jumping up and down, passing that darned thing back and forth," he said. "You could feel the love!"

 

But Tariq Rasouli, professor of Arabic language studies at the University of Minnesota, cautioned against what he called Mr. Rumsfeld's "overly optimistic" appraisal of the demonstrations: "He's right that they were chanting 'You go, America!' but he left out the part where they chanted 'immediately!'"

 

For his part, the Defense Secretary refused to announce a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq: "How can I talk about leaving them when they remembered our anniversary?"

 

 

 

AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS

 

 

Two U.S. Troops Wounded In Gardez 6 Hour Battle

 

April 12, 2005 By Amir Shah, Associated Press

 

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 12 suspected Taliban rebels were killed and two American soldiers wounded in a battle that began with a botched rebel attack on an Afghan army commander, officials said Tuesday.

 

Militants fired two rockets at Gen. Khial Baz’s car as he traveled over a mountain pass toward Gardez, about 60 miles south of Kabul, early Monday, said police chief Gul Suleyman Khel.  Both rockets missed and the general was unhurt.

 

In response, U.S. helicopters ferried dozens of Afghan soldiers and police to the area and they engaged a group of suspected militants with small arms, Khel said.  Other American helicopters and A-10 aircraft attacked from the sky.  The battle lasted six hours.  Khel put the number of rebel casualties at 12.

 

U.S. military spokeswoman Lt. Cindy Moore said U.S. ground forces were also involved in the fighting and that two American soldiers were injured.  The pair, who weren’t identified, were in stable condition, she said.

 

 

 

Received:

 

REPORTER ASKING ABOUT BLUE ON BLUE RE: DOWNED HERCULES

 

From: Turton, Sue

To: GI Special

Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2005 6:11 AM

 

I'm a journalist working for Channel 4 News in the UK and wondered if you or anybody you're in contact with might be able to find out any information on an investigation I'm conducting. You might remember on January 30th an RAF Hercules crashed between Baghdad and Balad killing all on board.

 

The investigation into just why the helicopter crashed is not yet complete but the enquiry has ruled out just about everything but a missile hit but is suggesting it was an insurgent missile.

 

I have been told by people at RAF Lyneham, the airbase the Hercules was based at, that many believe the crash was a result of blue on blue, a direct hit from a patriot missile fired from Balad airbase.  I've also been told that there were US personnel, possibly special forces, on board the stricken Hercules.

 

If this is the case both the US and the British Defence Departments are covering up the fact it was friendly fire.  We are in the run up to a general election in the UK and I suspect the government won't want this to come out before polling day.

 

Any information on the following would be very helpful:

 

Does the airbase in Balad have patriot missile batteries?

 

Does anybody have contact with servicemen and women who have served or are still serving in Balad?

 

Has anybody heard anything about the Hercules crash?

 

Many thanks

 

Sue Turton

Channel 4 News

44 7785 228257

44 207 430 4114

 

 

Received:

 

ANTI-WAR, ANTI-IMPERIALIST, SOLDIER RIGHTS!

 

To: GI Special

From the Debs Tendency - Socialist Party USA

Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2005 12:38 AM

 

A Statement on War, Militarism And Imperialism on The Second Anniversary of the Beginning Of The Iraq War

 

We are facing the second anniversary of the beginning of the criminal Iraq war, March 19th, 2003.  A war that has killed over 1500 American soldiers, tens of thousands of Iraqis, and horribly wounded hundreds of thousands more --- life and soul destroying wounds.

 

The war was justified by the United States government on the basis of the Iraqi government supposedly possessing "weapons of mass destruction" and "probably" having something to do with the attacks of September 11th, 2001.   All this has been proven to be a pack of lies, pure and simple.

 

The truth is that 9/11 became a convenient excuse for the US rulers to do exactly what they wanted to do anyway - -- intimidate and dominate the world, politically, militarily and economically if possible.   9/11 made George Bush's day, and there have been many questions raised, even in bourgeois circles, about just how easily the "terrorists" of 9/11 got through US security and intelligence networks.

 

The corporate ruling class tells us that "we" are under threat from a massive worldwide "terrorist" network, and they claim that we must destroy it or be destroyed in order to make us "safe".   They insist that the United States must act in a pre-emptive, first strike way to defeat, control and shape other nations and peoples who are "different" from "us".   In reality, we are not safe from THEM. When we believe what the corporate ruling class tells us, we are not safe from ourselves.

 

The so-called "international terrorist threat" is the bogeyman of today, just as the "international communist conspiracy" was up until 14 years ago or so.   Imperialism desperately needs monsters, quasi real or totally imagined, to justify its aggressive actions and make them seem "heroic".

 

The fact is that many of the "terrorists" and "rogue regimes" of today (Bin Laden, the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, etc.) were the US allies, servants and henchmen of yesterday.   They were trained and given strength and sometimes put into political power by the US military and the CIA. Saddam was their boy until he got too big for his britches and developed his own agenda, just like Dr. Frankenstein's creature.   He and the rest of them were, ironically, armed to the teeth with weapons given to them initially by the United States, including chemical weapons for Hussein.   Everything that some of them did on September 11th, or at least the ability to arrive at such violent plans, they learned from the CIA and the special forces of the US military.

 

These terrorists/former servants are a problem for the US rulers today because they eventually came to hate the US and now, we are told, threaten to butcher Americans instead of peasants and workers in other lands for US corporate power.   Still others around the world are falsely called "terrorists" simply because they dare to take up arms to overthrow oppressive regimes, regimes that are the current allies and proxies of the US ruling class.  The same is true for the current puppet regime in Iraq.    It is a creation of US imperial interests, pure and simple.   The Iraqi people have a right to resist this occupation regime, staged election or no staged election, and no amount of calling resistance fighters "terrorists" will change the truth.

 

It is all about money, of course.  The countries now being attacked and threatened by US imperialism either directly possess or can provide access to vast resources, mostly oil; or they just refuse to roll over and play dead and allow multi-national corporations to exploit and oppress their people (Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, etc.).   This is a terrible sin to the imperial corporate elite!

 

The US is currently the central imperialist power in the world, and the only super-power.    With a combination of economic bullying and many military interventions and threats of same, the United States has become the major player and decision maker of 21st century capitalist imperialism. Its military dwarfs all other national militaries combined, and its direct pressure covers the globe.  Under the guise of defending and extending "democracy" and "freedom" the United States uses its military might to expand its aggressive hold on humanity and to force open all doors that lead to more power and wealth for the US imperial ruling class.  "Freedom" to them means the freedom of capital investment to rape and rob the resources and labor power of other nations.

 

Vast quantities of wealth and resources are funneled into the US military (over 400 billion dollars a year, with tens of billions more for ongoing wars!) while social programs and cities suffer.   A system of high unemployment, low minimum wage, high college tuition and expensive health care cause too many American youths to join the military.    Yet some say that it is "un-American" to criticize this system and to talk to American youth about not going in, or to suggest that the United States is an empire Hell bent on conquest.

 

The Unites States ruling class does not have the right to impose its greed centered, power hungry will on the rest of the human race !   It does not have the right to use the American people to carry out its plunder!   The Earth and the Earth's resources are not for the US elite to exploit and control!

 

We pledge to continue to build the international anti-war movement and to fight to make it and keep it independent of capitalist political domination or influence!   We will push within the movement for a continuing orientation toward mass organizing and mobilization and against any attempt to intimidate it or influence it toward capitalist parties or watered down demands like "Negotiations" or "US out, UN in".   We call upon and urge all other principled anti- war and working class, revolutionary, radical, genuinely progressive forces to do the same.   Bring All The Troops Home Now must be the central and overarching demand!

 

In addition, the Debs Tendency of the Socialist Party USA also demands:

 

A binding vote of the people on all questions of war or military intervention.

 

The complete, immediate, and unconditional withdrawal of all US troops from all foreign lands, and the closing of all US military bases overseas.

 

Bring the troops home now !

 

The dismantling of all US intelligence gathering agencies.

 

The end of the "School of the Americas."

 

The end of the ROTC program.

 

A ban on all military recruitment activities at all US schools, colleges and universities, or anywhere else.

 

No draft, no way!

 

A ban on US companies selling weapons to foreign countries, and 100% confiscation of the profits of weapons manufacturers and dealers.

 

The dismantling of the US nuclear, chemical and biological weapons stockpile.

 

A ban on the use of landmines and a comprehensive program to find all landmines planted.

 

A comprehensive program, created and implemented by co-operating and unified working class organizations from all countries (working with their brothers and sisters in Russia), to locate all nuclear weapons decommissioned by the former Soviet Union.   No faith in "the powers that be" to carry out such a program.

 

A full independent investigation into the effects of Depleted Uranium and the immediate end to the creation and use of DU weapons.

 

Complete and quality lifelong health care for all US military veterans.  A decent living wage, guaranteed employment, and full benefits for all veterans.

 

End all extensions of duty and stop loss orders.

 

Full democratic rights and union rights for all soldiers, including the right to form representative councils, to elect and recall all commissioned and non-commissioned officers, and to refuse murderous, torturous, and suicidal orders.   For the right of soldiers to arrest officers or civilian defense officials who issue such orders, directly or indirectly.

 

An immediate 50% cut in military spending with more cuts over time until military spending is reduced to 10% of current levels, or less.

 

Use the money from military spending cuts to pay a living wage to soldiers, provide full benefits and good housing for soldiers, compensate and allow a smooth transition for towns and cities which have become economically dependent on military personnel and bases, and to provide housing, employment, education, rebuilt cities, health care, and other social benefits and programs for soldiers and all the people.

 

Any military, intelligence and security forces that are needed by a truly democratic socialist society and a workers' republic must be organized on a fully democratic, rank and file/community/society controlled basis and be used to defend democratic and civil rights, fight reactionary violence, and to end exploitation and oppression of the working class and super-oppressed sectors of the people.

 

Always fight for organize for and educate for a revolutionary socialist transformation of the US and the world!

 

Only the implementation of these kinds of measures will end the specter of US military dominance and oppression in the world!

 

Debs Tendency, Socialist party USA

www.debstendency.org

 

 

GI Special distributes and posts to our website copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner.  We are making such material available in an effort to advance understanding of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.  We believe this constitutes a “fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law since it is being distributed without charge or profit for purely educational purposes to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for educational purposes, in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  Go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml for more information.  If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

 

If printed out, this newsletter is your personal property and cannot legally be confiscated from you.  “Possession of unauthorized material may not be prohibited.”  DoD Directive 1325.6 Section 3.5.1.2.