Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Civilian Slaughter Update

May 31, 2006

On Tuesday, May 30 Truthout <> published my
article "Countless My Lai Massacres in Iraq."

Here are a couple of recent pieces of information to augment that story.

Today the AP has just released this story:

2 Iraqi women killed by coalition troops

"BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two Iraqi women were shot to death north of Baghdad
after coalition forces fired on a vehicle that failed to stop at an
observation post, the U.S. military said Wednesday. Iraqi police and
relatives said one of the women was about to give birth."

And on May 29, Al-Shaqiyah TV reported
<> from Iraq:

"US forces killed five civilians and wounded two others in the city
[Ramadi] today. A source at Al-Ramadi State Hospital said that among the
dead were a child and a woman. An Iraqi officer in Al-Ramadi said that
the US forces were beefing up their presence on the periphery of
Al-Ramadi, noting that the city will soon come under siege 'ahead of an
all-out attack such as the one that targeted Al-Fallujah' in 2004."

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Countless My Lai Massacres in Iraq

By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 30 May 2006

The media feeding frenzy around what has been referred to as "Iraq's My
Lai" has become frenetic. Focus on US Marines slaughtering at least 20
civilians in Haditha last November is reminiscent of the media spasm
around the "scandal" of Abu Ghraib during April and May 2004.

Yet just like Abu Ghraib, while the media spotlight shines squarely on
the Haditha massacre, countless atrocities continue daily, conveniently
out of the awareness of the general public. Torture did not stop simply
because the media finally decided, albeit in horribly belated fashion,
to cover the story, and the daily slaughter of Iraqi civilians by US
forces and US-backed Iraqi "security" forces has not stopped either.

Earlier this month, I received a news release from Iraq, which read, "On
Saturday, May 13th, 2006, at 10:00 p.m., US Forces accompanied by the
Iraqi National Guard attacked the houses of Iraqi people in the
Al-Latifya district south of Baghdad by an intensive helicopter
shelling. This led the families to flee to the Al-Mazar and water canals
to protect themselves from the fierce shelling. Then seven helicopters
landed to pursue the families who fled … and killed them. The number of
victims amounted to more than 25 martyrs. US forces detained another six
persons including two women named Israa Ahmed Hasan and Widad Ahmed
Hasan, and a child named Huda Hitham Mohammed Hasan, whose father was
killed during the shelling."

The report from the Iraqi NGO called The Monitoring Net of Human Rights
in Iraq (MHRI) continued, "The forces didn't stop at this limit. They
held an attack on May 15th, 2006, supported also by the Iraqi National
Guards. They also attacked the families' houses, and arrested a number
of them while others fled. US snipers then used the homes to target more
Iraqis. The reason for this crime was due to the downing of a helicopter
in an area close to where the forces held their attack."

The US military preferred to report the incident as an offensive where
they killed 41 "insurgents," a line effectively parroted by much of the

On that same day, MHRI also reported that in the Yarmouk district of
Baghdad, US forces raided the home of Essam Fitian al-Rawi. Al-Rawi was
killed along with his son Ahmed; then the soldiers reportedly removed
the two bodies along with Al-Rawi's nephew, who was detained.

Similarly, in the city of Samara on May 5, MHRI reported, "American
soldiers entered the house of Mr. Zidan Khalif Al-Heed after an attack
upon American soldiers was launched nearby the house. American soldiers
entered this home and killed the family, including the father, mother
and daughter who is in the 6th grade, along with their son, who was
suffering from mental and physical disabilities."

This same group, MHRI, also estimated that between 4,000 and 6,000 Iraqi
civilians were killed during the November 2004 US assault on Fallujah.
Numbers which make those from the Haditha massacre pale in comparison.

Instead of reporting incidents such as these, mainstream outlets are
referring to the Haditha slaughter as one of a few cases that "present
the most serious challenge to US handling of the Iraq war since the Abu
Ghraib prison scandal."

Marc Garlasco, of Human Rights Watch, told reporters recently, "What
happened at Haditha appears to be outright murder. The Haditha massacre
will go down as Iraq's My Lai."

Then there is the daily reality of sectarian and ethnic cleansing in
Iraq, which is being carried out by US-backed Iraqi "security" forces. A
recent example of this was provided by a representative of the Voice of
Freedom Association for Human Rights, another Iraqi NGO which logs
ongoing atrocities resulting from the US occupation.

"The representative … visited Fursan Village (Bani Zaid) with the Iraqi
Red Crescent Al-Madayin Branch. The village of 60 houses, inhabited by
Sunni families, was attacked on February 27, 2006, by groups of men
wearing black clothes and driving cars from the Ministry of Interior.
Most of the villagers escaped, but eight were caught and immediately
executed. One of them was the Imam of the village mosque, Abu Aisha, and
another was a 10-year-old boy, Adnan Madab. They were executed inside
the room where they were hiding. Many animals (sheep, cows and dogs)
were shot by the armed men also. The village mosque and most of the
houses were destroyed and burnt."

The representative had obtained the information when four men who had
fled the scene of the massacre returned to provide the details. The
other survivors had all left to seek refuge in Baghdad. "The survivors
who returned to give the details guided the representative and the Red
Crescent personnel to where the bodies had been buried. They [the
bodies] were of men, women and one of the village babies."

The director of MHRI, Muhamad T. Al-Deraji, said of this incident, "This
situation is a simple part of a larger problem that is orchestrated by
the government … the delay in protecting more villagers from this will
only increase the number of tragedies."

Arun Gupta, an investigative journalist and editor with the New York
Indypendent newspaper of the New York Independent Media Center, has
written extensively about US-backed militias and death squads in Iraq.
He is also the former editor at the Guardian weekly in New York and
writes frequently for Z Magazine and Left Turn.

"The fact is, while I think the militias have, to a degree, spiraled out
of US control, it's the US who trains, arms, funds, and supplies all the
police and military forces, and gives them critical logistical support,"
he told me this week. "For instance, there were reports at the beginning
of the year that a US army unit caught a "death squad" operating inside
the Iraqi Highway Patrol. There were the usual claims that the US has
nothing to do with them. It's all a big lie. The American reporters are
lazy. If they did just a little digging, there is loads of material out
there showing how the US set up the highway patrol, established a
special training academy just for them, equipped them, armed them, built
all their bases, etc. It's all in government documents, so it's
irrefutable. But then they tell the media we have nothing to do with
them and they don't even fact check it. In any case, I think the story
is significant only insofar as it shows how the US tries to cover up its

Once again, like Abu Ghraib, a few US soldiers are being investigated
about what occurred in Haditha. The "few bad apples" scenario is being
repeated in order to obscure the fact that Iraqis are being slaughtered
every single day. The "shoot first ask questions later" policy, which
has been in effect from nearly the beginning in Iraq, creates
trigger-happy American soldiers and US-backed Iraqi death squads who
have no respect for the lives of the Iraqi people. Yet, rather than
high-ranking members of the Bush administration who give the orders,
including Bush himself, being tried for the war crimes they are most
certainly guilty of, we have the ceremonial "public hanging" of a few
lowly soldiers for their crimes committed on the ground.

In an interview with CNN on May 29th concerning the Haditha massacre,
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace commented,
"It's going to be a couple more weeks before those investigations are
complete, and we should not prejudge the outcome. But we should, in
fact, as leaders take on the responsibility to get out and talk to our
troops and make sure that they understand that what 99.9 percent of them
are doing, which is fighting with honor and courage, is exactly what we
expect of them."

This is the same Peter Pace who when asked how things were going in Iraq
by Tim Russert on Meet the Press this past March 5th said, "I'd say
they're going well. I wouldn't put a great big smiley face on it, but I
would say they're going very, very well from everything you look at …"

Things are not "going very, very well" in Iraq. There have been
countless My Lai massacres, and we cannot blame 0.1% of the soldiers on
the ground in Iraq for killing as many as a quarter of a million Iraqis,
when it is the policies of the Bush administration that generated the
failed occupation to begin with.


A must read article on this topic which addresses US and International
Law concerning this atrocity is "The Haditha Massacre" by Marjorie Cohn
posted here <>.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law,
President-elect of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative
to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. She
writes a weekly column for t r u t h o u t.

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Galloway stands by Blair comments

Galloway stands by Blair comments: "Respect MP George Galloway says he stands by his comments that it could be 'morally justified' to assassinate Tony Blair. He told Radio Four's PM the Iraqi people had a right to resist their occupation by targeting those giving the orders." (Audio Link)

Bush Bites

Bush Bites
Originally uploaded by ClintJCL.
Click on image to see full size. It is self-explanitory.
The hardest word

What was going through the minds of those who advised George W Bush and Tony Blair to 'come clean' about their shortcomings regarding the war in Iraq?

By Scott Ritter
05/26/06 "The Guardian' -- -- One has to wonder as to what must have been going through the minds of those who were advising George W Bush and Tony Blair to "come clean", so to speak, about their respective shortcomings regarding the conduct of the war in Iraq. With over 2,460 American and 106 UK soldiers killed in Iraq (not to mention untold thousands of dead Iraqis), the two people in the world most responsible for the ongoing debacle in Iraq displayed the combination of indifference and ignorance that got them neck deep in a quagmire of their own making to begin with.

President Bush kicked himself for "talking too tough", while the British prime minister ruminated on the decision to disband the Ba'athist infrastructure that held Iraq together in the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein. Neither expressed any regret over the decision to invade Iraq in the first place.

Bush made no reference to the exaggerated and falsified claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction he and his loyal ally bandied about so freely in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Blair, recently returned from a visit to Baghdad where he met with the newly appointed prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, did not reflect on the reality that the Iraq of Saddam Hussein was a more peaceful and prosperous land before British and American troops overthrew the Iraqi president and condemned Iraq to the horrific reality of insurgent-fed civil strife.

"Despite setbacks and missteps, I strongly believe we did and are doing the right thing," Bush remarked, although he was quick to add, "Not everything has turned out the way we hoped". That, of course, could qualify for the understatement of the year. For his part, Blair spoke of faulty judgements, perhaps the greatest of which was to underestimate the scope and intensity of the insurgency, which he in typical fashion characterized as fighting against the democratic process, as opposed to struggling against an illegal, illegitimate and unjust occupation.

Blair shared his reflective insights at moment when the people of the United Kingdom were wrestling with new revelations concerning how he misled their attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, into putting forward a legal finding that enabled Britain to go to war with Iraq void of a second United Nations security council resolution. Blair had apparently told Lord Goldsmith that Iraq was in "material breach" of its obligations, despite the fact that no new intelligence on WMD had been unearthed, and UN weapons inspectors were on the ground in Iraq receiving total cooperation from the Iraqi government. Not a peep from the prime minister on this matter, though.

For his part Bush waxed eloquently about the cost of war to America. "No question that the Iraq war has, you know, created a sense of consternation here in America," the president said. "I mean, when you turn on your TV screen and see innocent people die day in and day out, it affects the mentality of our country." He added: "I can understand why the American people are troubled by the war in Iraq. I understand that. But I also believe the sacrifice is worth it and it's necessary."

Of course, the president remained mute as to the current visit to Iraq by the commandant of the Marine Corps, General Michael Hagee, who in the light of recent accusations of excessive force on the part of Marines fighting a life and death struggle in the Anbar province of Iraq, were cautioned to kill "only when justified". Some 717 Marines have lost their lives in the fighting in Iraq, most in the violence-prone Anbar province, where the Iraqi insurgency is particularly deeply entrenched. Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment are accused of slaughtering scores of innocent Iraqis in the aftermath of a fire-fight that followed a deadly attack on the Marines by a road-side bomb. In the middle of a conflict not of their making, fighting an enemy as deadly and resolute as they themselves are, the Marines are now lectured by general's to destroy only that which needs destroyed, kill only those who need killed, as if war was ever that easy.

Instead of focusing on the horrific reality of the unmitigated disaster that these two politicians are solely responsible for inflicting on their own respective armed forces and the people of Iraq, Bush deflected any talk about bringing American troops home. "I have said to the American people, 'As the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down,'" he said. "But I've also said that our commanders on the ground will make that decision." Blair dutifully chimed in that, in the aftermath of his Baghdad visit, he "came away thinking that the challenge is still immense, but I also came away more certain than ever that we should rise to it."

Both politicians were playing to their respective electorates, Blair in an effort to forestall his inevitable departure from government, Bush trying against hope to prevent a democratic landslide in the mid-term elections upcoming in November. But they both forgot that, to paraphrase an old military saying, "the enemy has a vote, too." And the Iraqi insurgency votes on a daily basis, its ballots counted in the bodies of those killed because of the violence brought on Iraq thanks to the decision by Bush and Blair to invade.

That decision, based upon lies and deceit, and done in pursuit of pure power (either in the form of global hegemony, per Bush, or a pathetic effort to ride Bush's coattails in the name of maintaining a "special relationship", for Blair), underscores the reality that when it comes to Iraq, both are resting on a policy that is as corrupt as one can possibly imagine.

Void of any genuine reflection as to what actually went wrong, and lacking in any reality-based process which seeks to formulate a sound way out of Iraq, these two politicians are simply continuing the self-delusional process of blundering down a path in Iraq that can only lead to more death and destruction.

Perhaps the advisors of Bush and Blair thought they were going to put a human face on two leaders who had been so vilified over the Iraq debacle. If so they failed. The joint press conference was little more than a pathetic show where two failed politicians voiced their continued support of failed policies, which had gotten their respective nations embroiled in a failed war. To quote Blair: "What more can I say? Probably not wise to say anything more at all."

There were pictures--otherwise there would be only denials and lies from Bush

US Marines to stand trial for massacre of Iraqi civilians in Haditha: "US Marines involved in a massacre of Iraqi civilians in Haditha last November will stand trial for murder and dereliction of duty. Twelve soldiers have been returned to Camp Pendleton to await charges in a military trial, and are forbidden to speak to the press.

As yet, no soldiers have been officially named or charged, but comments to the press by senior US military officials indicate that murder charges will soon be brought against three Marines, and dereliction of duty charges, for covering up the crime, will be brought against the others. Critical evidence against the Marines includes photographs taken by military intelligence officials immediately following the murders.

More than four months after the incident, and after numerous official statements lying about what occurred, the Pentagon has officially acknowledged that the massacre took place. Officials briefed selected members of Congress last week. John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, following a briefing, told reporters, “There are established facts that incidents of a very serious nature did take place.”"

Blair joins Bush to defend Iraq occupation and back preemptive action vs. Iran

Blair joins Bush to defend Iraq occupation and back preemptive action vs. Iran: <--Link
"President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair utilised their latest summit meeting to insist that the occupation of Iraq be maintained and the campaign of provocations against neighbouring Iran be stepped up.

The meeting demonstrated their contempt for the antiwar sentiment of the people of both the United States and Britain.

Bush’s poll ratings have fallen to around 30 percent, while Blair is facing demands that he stand down as prime minister sooner than the two-year deadline he set for himself. Popular opposition to both leaders, centred on their decision to wage war against Iraq based on a tissue of lies, has deepened along with the military and political disaster facing the US and Britain in the occupied country."

The Enron verdicts: corruption and American capitalism

The Enron verdicts: corruption and American capitalism: <--Link
"The guilty verdicts handed down by a Houston jury last week against former Enron chiefs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling provide an opportunity to evaluate the significance of the company’s rise and fall within the context of American capitalism.

Accounts by jurors given after the verdicts were announced indicate they all agreed that the evidence against the two executives was overwhelming. It consisted mainly of testimony from over a dozen former executives, who implicated Lay and Skilling for their roles in defrauding investors and employees through various forms of accounting manipulation. The jurors quickly rejected the absurd position of the defense that Enron was basically a healthy company that collapsed into bankruptcy in December 2001 largely as the result of Wall Street machinations and negative press coverage."

Saturday, May 27, 2006


by Ted Rall

NEW YORK--"I'd like to see [Mexican president] Vicente Fox tell his people to respect the law and come here legally," says a founder of the Minuteman border vigilante group. Like many soundbytes, it sounds reasonable unless you think about it.

And yet, as an American citizen, born to this land just a few miles from Bunker Hill and raised in our great suburban heartland of the Midwest, I cannot shy away from the obvious question: why should anyone, American or Mexican or even Lithuanian, respect our idiotic laws?

Our legal system has become so unworkable, inconsistent and obsessed with persecuting those deemed guilty of trivial infractions while letting real criminals go free, that it defies logic and common sense. Case in point: revenue-enhancement speed traps have gotten so out of control that there's a website devoted to them. The police chief of Eolia, Missouri -- one of the many notorious listings at -- denies that his $67.50 fines for driving one mph over the posted limit is excessive. "Safety--it's a big thing with me," says Jerry Sutton. "I would hate to see one child or pedestrian get hurt in any way."

The Blessed Children of Rural Missouri appear to be in good hands. Due east from Eolia is the 55 mph-to-35 mph mass ticketing hell of Curryville, where cash raised from traffic violations accounted for over half the town budget in 2004. "Traffic used to be heavy on weekends," a convenience store owner told the Associated Press, "but now drivers bypass the town."

Like most Americans, I could write a book about cops gone wild. A car tailed me for miles down a dark country road at three in the morning on Long Island. Fearing a "Silkwood" scenario, I tried to shake him by speeding up. Flashers came on; it was a police officer out to spook people into speeding. Then there was the Nevada state trooper who wrote me up for doing 100 in a 70 mph zone. I was going 80. I was so angry about the $400 fine that I flew back to central Nevada to contest the ticket. (I won.) My favorite was the Manhattan traffic cop who stood in the middle of the right lane on Madison Avenue and motioned me to turn right. You guessed it: he wrote me a ticket for making an illegal right-hand turn.

If I become president, my second act will be to issue national standards for parking laws and signs. (The first will be to nationalize the oil companies.) If a sign next to a parking meter says "1-Hour Parking," its meaning should be obvious--but currently it isn't. In New York, it indicates that you have to keep refilling the meter every hour. In Washington, however, you have to move after an hour no matter how many quarters you have. Brookline, Massachusetts has plenty of free parking spots on the street overnight, but don't be tempted to use one--tiny signs at entry points to this Boston suburb are the only warning that street parking is permitted only diurnally.

Motorists aren't the only victims of capricious law enforcement. Until recently the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission dispatched its agents to randomly test people for public drunkenness in, of all places, bars. TABC agents enforcing "Operation Last Call" arrested 1,740 people they judged to be "drunk to the point they are stumbling, clumsy or slurring words" because they might have tried to drive home drunk. Corporate CEOs are looting their companies' pension plans, plunging millions of elderly Americans into impoverished retirement. The government does nothing. Actual drunk drivers maim and kill pedestrians, bicyclists and other motorists and drive away from the courthouse, their licenses unrevoked. Our politicians listen to our phone calls, authorize torture and lie to con us into war. No one holds them accountable. Kato off your neighbor's wi-fi, however, and you're in big trouble. (I define the verb "to kato," named after O.J. Simpson's famous roommate Kato Kaelin, as meaning "to take advantage of, particularly in a lackadaisical style that evokes slackerdom.")

In January, David M. Kauchak, 32, was sitting in his parked car using a laptop computer. A Winnebago County, Illinois police officer arrested Kauchak for "piggybacking" off someone's unsecured wireless connection to access the Internet. "We just want to get the word out that it is a crime," Assistant State's Attorney Tom Wartowski told the Rockford Register-Star. "We are prosecuting it, and people need to take precautions." Computer users everywhere rest easier with the knowledge that the nefarious Kauchak has been apprehended, fined $250 and sentenced to a year's court supervision for his misdeed.

It's one thing to request, as have the Minuteman project and our Republican Congress, that the millions of Mexicans who cross our southern border each year learn to speak English. Demanding that they respect our ridiculous laws, enforced by insipid enforcement agents of greedy municipalities, is asking too much.

(Ted Rall is the editor of "Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists," a new anthology of webcartoons.)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Democrats ensure confirmation of NSA spy chief to head CIA

Democrats ensure confirmation of NSA spy chief to head CIA:
By Joe Kay
25 May 2006

Use this version to print | Send this link by email | Email the author

The US Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday gave its support to General Michael Hayden, the principle architect of recently exposed domestic spying programs, to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

Leading Democrats joined Republicans in approving Hayden, the former head of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the current principal deputy director of national intelligence. Hayden is expected to easily win confirmation by the full Senate before the end of the week.

Four Democrats and all eight Republicans on the committee voted to recommend Hayden’s confirmation by the full Senate, while three Democrats voted against. The four Democrats who voted for Hayden are among the most senior Democrats in the Senate: the ranking Democrat and vice chairman of the committee, Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia); Carl Levin of Michigan, the second-ranking Democrat on the committee; Dianne Feinstein of California; and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.

By ensuring a wide margin on the Senate committee to confirm Hayden, the Democrats have once again given their imprimatur to the Bush administration’s unprecedented attacks on democratic rights.

The vote came less than two weeks after a USA Today report that the NSA, under a program initiated by Hayden, has been secretly tracking the telephone calls of over 200 million Americans since shortly after 9/11. Without the benefit of court warrants, and in flagrant violation of federal statutes as well as constitutional safeguards against such government invasions of privacy, the agency has been amassing a vast database of telephone records turned over to it by the largest US telecommunications companies.

That revelation, in turn, was preceded by a December, 2005 New York Times exposé concerning another NSA program, also initiated under Hayden, to secretly eavesdrop on phone calls of US citizens without a warrant. Both programs, which remained hidden from the American people for years, constitute an unprecedented step in the direction of an American police state.

The information banks on millions of Americans are aimed not at fighting terrorism, but at laying the groundwork for political repression on a mass scale. These measures are being implemented by a ruling elite that sees the greatest threat to its wealth and power coming not from bands of Islamic terrorists, but from among the American people. Under conditions of deepening social and economic crisis, with the gap between the financial elite and the broad mass of people continually widening, the intelligence and police apparatus wants to know what individuals are thinking, and with whom they are associating.

Hayden’s central role in this anti-democratic conspiracy proved no obstacle to his approval by the Senate to head the CIA. Nor did the fact that both he and President Bush, in public statements made after last December’s exposure of the NSA’s warrentless eavesdropping on communications between the US and other countries, gave false assurances that the NSA’s domestic spying was carefully targeted and strictly limited to suspected terrorists.

Last week’s Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing on the general’s nomination was a stage-managed exercise in cowardice and duplicity. The entire process lasted a day, with an open session of few hours followed by a closed-door meeting of Hayden with the committee members.

In the open session, Hayden refused to reveal any concrete information about the domestic spying operations over which he presided, on the grounds that the programs were classified and any public discussion of them would jeopardize national security and the so-called “war against terrorism.” The committee chair, Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, used his opening remarks to deliver a McCarthyite attack on journalists and newspapers that informed the public about the existence of the secret programs, and on politicians who raised objections or called for investigations into the illegal operations.

None of the Democrats on the committee challenged Roberts’ demagogic attack, which was echoed by Hayden in his own opening statement. They either praised the general outright or couched half-hearted criticisms of his methods within affirmations of support for the “war on terrorism” and the need to strengthen the government’s spy agencies.

Hayden refused as well to answer questions on the CIA’s use of torture, renditions and secret detention facilities.

The results of the hearing were a foregone conclusion. Several of the principle Democrats had been present at briefings on the domestic spying programs given to selected members of the Senate and the House of Representatives by the Bush administration, and were therefore complicit in their implementation. Among the lawmakers who attended at least one of these briefings were Rockefeller, Feinstein and Levin, all of whom voted to confirm Hayden.

Following the vote, Levin declared absurdly that Hayden would “stand up to the president or anybody else who’s trying to get him to reach a certain conclusion on intelligence, and speak truth to power.” He added that Hayden had “some backbone and willingness to say no to power.”

During the hearing, in an exchange that could very well have been pre-arranged, Levin asked the general whether he had had some disagreements with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld over the balance of power between the different intelligence agencies. Hayden confirmed that he had, and this was seized on by Levin and other senators as a sign of Hayden’s “independence.”

Dianne Feinstein showered praise on Hayden, describing him as “the leader and honest broker the CIA needs to regain its footing as the world’s premier spy service.”

The vote on Hayden is yet another sign that the Democratic Party will seek to prevent opposition to the attacks on democratic rights from becoming an issue in the 2006 and 2008 elections, just as it is seeking suppress popular opposition to the war in Iraq.

Even those Democrats who voted against the nomination issued statements emphasizing their support for “fighting the terrorists aggressively,” bolstering the central pretext used by the Bush administration to justify both the war and the assault on democratic rights.

The easy confirmation of Hayden is a signal from Congress that no serious investigation will be carried out into what is the most massive violation of privacy rights in the history of the United States. The Bush administration has refused to provide details of the programs, and investigations announced by the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission have been quickly called off on the grounds that the NSA program is classified.

The breakdown of American democracy is a product of the profound crisis of American capitalism, the vast growth of social inequality, and the determination of the American ruling elite to maintain its position through war abroad and ever greater attacks on the working population at home.

The confirmation of Hayden with crucial support from the Democrats underscores a fundamental lesson of more than a decade of anti-democratic conspiracies—from the impeachment of Clinton, to the theft of the 2000 election, to the launching of a war based on lies: Neither of the two parties and no section of the ruling elite has a serious commitment to the defense of democratic rights.

These rights can be defended only by the working class, and only through the building of its own mass, independent, socialist party.

See Also:
Senate hearing on CIA nominee: Democrats rubberstamp Bush police-state spying
[19 May 2006]

US military massacres 80 villagers in Afghanistan

Constitutional crisis over FBI raid on US congressman

Constitutional crisis over FBI raid on US congressman: "Constitutional crisis over FBI raid on US congressman"

The conflict between the US Congress and the Bush administration over the FBI raid on US Representative William Jefferson’s congressional office has rapidly escalated into a constitutional crisis. The episode highlights the contempt with which the Bush administration views such fundamental issues as the separation of powers and the autonomy of the legislative branch. It also reveals the atmosphere of crisis and tension which pervades the American political system.

The May 20 raid was carried out by more than 15 FBI agents, who barred the House of Representatives general counsel and the sergeant at arms from the rooms they were searching. It was the first federal search of a sitting congressman’s office in US history.

Denunciations of the Justice Department by Republican as well as Democratic legislators reached such a pitch by Thursday that President Bush felt obliged to directly intervene. The previous day, the Republican speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, and the Democratic minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, issued a joint statement denouncing the raid as unconstitutional and demanding that the Justice Department return all of the documents and records removed by the FBI.

Bush sought to mollify congressional critics while insisting that the raid was legal and that the Justice Department had every right to use documents and records seized in the 18-hour search to pursue an investigation of Jefferson on allegations of bribe-taking.

In a remarkable acknowledgment of the sharpness of the confrontation between the executive and legislative branches, Bush said, “Our government has not faced such a dilemma in more than two centuries.” He noted that the “bipartisan leadership of the House of Representatives believes this search violated the constitutional principle of separation of powers and the speech and debate clause of the Constitution.”

He announced that the documents seized would be sealed for 45 days, during which time investigators would be prevented from examining them, and called for negotiations between congressional leaders and the Justice Department to work out a protocol for obtaining such documents in connection with federal criminal investigations. He insisted, however, that any resolution to the dispute had to ensure “that materials relevant to the ongoing criminal investigation are made available to prosecutors...”

He then declared, “Those who violate the law—including a member of Congress—should be held to account”—an utterance of stunning hypocrisy from a president who has demonstrated contempt for both US and international law during his entire tenure. This bit of cynicism was designed to uphold the pretext for the administration’s assertion of virtually limitless executive power and its denigration of Congress: That the raid was carried out in order to root out corruption and uphold the law.

Corruption—bribe-taking, influence peddling, fraud—is indeed rampant in Washington, where corporate lobbyists routinely reward their congressional minions with money and other favors in return for voting the “right” way, and seats in the House and the Senate are purchased for vast sums, collected as campaign donations from corporate sponsors. Both parties are involved, and there is no reason to believe that New Orleans Congressman Jefferson, a Democrat, is any less corrupt than his colleagues.

But corruption has long been a feature of American politics, and no previous administration has raided the office of a sitting congressman in the name of conducting a criminal probe. The reasons for the raid on Jefferson’s office have nothing to do with fighting corruption, and everything to do with the drive by the clique around Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to intimidate and silence critics, forestall any investigation into the administration’s own illegal actions, and move toward the establishment of a form of presidential dictatorship.

Hastert and Pelosi welcomed Bush’s announcement on Thursday and said the House counsel was ready to begin negotiations with the Justice Department over the dispute. However, other Republican congressmen predicted the matter would end up before the US Supreme Court, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, a Republican, announced he would hold hearings next Tuesday under the heading: “Reckless Justice—Did the Saturday Night Raid of Congress Trample the Constitution?”

Jefferson, for his part, filed a motion in US District Court demanding the return of the material—two boxes of documents and a computer hard drive—confiscated during the search.

The rapidity with which the dispute has escalated reflects the intensity of the political crisis that underlies it.

Jefferson has been under investigation for months and was videotaped in a sting operation apparently accepting bribes from an FBI informant. The Justice Department raided two of his residences last August and issued subpoenas for documents, but Jefferson has challenged the subpoenas.

The provocative nature of the decision to raid his office is underscored by the fact that the House counsel was handling his legal dispute with the Justice Department over the contested documents. Thus the legal wrangle between Jefferson and the Bush administration had already become an institutional standoff between the executive and legislative branches when the administration decided to dramatically assert its supremacy by raiding the congressman’s office.

Only hours after Wednesday’s joint statement by Hastert and Pelosi, ABC World News Tonight, citing unnamed US law enforcement officials, reported that Hastert was under investigation by the FBI in connection with the influence peddling and bribery scandal surrounding convicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Hastert immediately issued a statement branding the ABC News report as false and demanding that the network retract it. The Justice Department soon after issued its own statement declaring the ABC News report to be false and saying Hastert was not under investigation.

The following morning, however, Hastert gave an interview to WGN radio in Chicago in which he charged that the ABC News report had been deliberately leaked by someone in the Bush administration to intimidate him and retaliate for his denunciation of the FBI raid on Jefferson.

“This is one of the leaks that come out to try to, you know, intimidate people,” he said. He essentially reiterated the allegation later in the day Thursday. When asked if he thought the Justice Department was retaliating against him by leaking the report, Hastert replied, “All I’m saying is, here are the dots. People can connect any dots they want to.” He added, “I thought it was an interesting sequence of events.”

ABC News has refused to retract its Wednesday night report, and Hastert has threatened to sue the network for defamation. For its part, ABC reported on its web site that the Justice Department statement was intended to deny that Hastert was a formal target or subject of the investigation, but federal officials had confirmed to the network that various members of Congress “including Hastert, are under investigation.”

Hastert’s remarks are indicative of the bitter in-fighting and the atmosphere of fear, intrigue and crisis that pervade official Washington.

The tensions between Hastert and the White House reflect divisions, in particular, within the Republican Party. With Bush’s poll numbers continuing to fall as popular opposition to the Iraq war and the economic situation mounts, Republican leaders in Congress are increasingly concerned that their party may lose control of one or both houses in this November’s midterm election, and forfeit the White House in 2008.

This is certainly one reason why the same Republicans, such as Hastert, who have supported all of Bush’s anti-democratic measures—from the Patriot Act, to the Homeland Security Department, to massive domestic spying programs—have reacted so sharply to a precedent they fear could be used against them should the Democrats gain control.

Long-time columnist and Republican insider Robert Novak published a column May 18 on Hastert’s relations with the White House that gives some sense of the poisoned state of relations within the Republican Party and the political establishment as a whole. Novak reported that Hastert “engaged in a high decibel rant” in a meeting with Vice President Cheney after he learned that his former House colleague and friend Porter Goss was being forced out as CIA director.

Cheney was so alarmed he immediately scheduled a meeting between Hastert, himself and Bush in the president’s living quarters.

“But Hastert’s discontent goes beyond the CIA,” Novak noted. “The GOP mood on Capitol Hill, particularly the House, is poisonous. With pessimism rising over a contemplated loss of their majority in the 2006 elections, Republican lawmakers blame their parlous condition on Bush’s performance.” Novak went on to say that there was “basically non-communication between Bush and his fellow Republicans in Congress.”

Hastert’s assumption that the ABC News report was an act of intimidation and retaliation by the Bush administration—even were it to prove unfounded—says a great deal about the state of American politics. The titular head of the House of Representatives takes as a given that the top figures in the executive branch, and the leaders of his own party, would not hesitate to employ blackmail, character assassination and the threat of criminal prosecution to silence him and anyone else who stood in their way.

It is an open secret in Washington, discussed in private but concealed from the American people, that the US is heading in the direction of a police state, and that those who wield both corporate and political power have no democratic scruples.

See Also:
FBI stages unprecedented raid on congressman's office
[24 May 2006]

Please Mr. President (AL GORE), respond to the call!

Arianna Huffington

Al Gore Takes Cannes by Storm -- Will the Oval Office Be Next?

May 22 -- Over the weekend, I flew from Washington to Cannes. In Washington, the talk was all about 2006. In Cannes, the talk is all about 2008.

That's because even with Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Penelope Cruz, Jamie Foxx, and Halle Berry here for the film festival, the hottest star in town is Al Gore.

In Cannes for the European premiere of his powerful global warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Gore has been surrounded by adoring crowds and deluged with interview requests. He told me that he gave 23 back-to-back-to-back interviews on Sunday, Hollywood junket-style (all on only one hour's sleep), and had another 23 scheduled for Monday. "This is my second visit to Cannes," he said. "The first was when I was fifteen years old and came here for the summer to study the existentialists -- Sartre, Camus... We were not allowed to speak anything but French!" Which may explain his pitch-perfect French accent.

It's clear that the film, and the engaging "New Gore" on display both in the film and his public appearances promoting it, have connected with people in a big way.

The film is an environmental punch in the gut. Gore 2.0 is a revelation, and a critical smash. When asked at his press conference how he should be addressed, he replied "Your Adequacy." "Hanks himself could not have delivered the line more smoothly," gushed The Guardian. The Washington Post's Sebastian Mallaby labeled him "a hero." Time's Anne Marie Cox called him "a rock star." New York magazine touted his "amazing comeback." And even Fox News' Roger Friedman described him as "funny and relaxed." Talk about killer reviews.

Of course, as potent as the film is (Friedman says the minds of skeptics "will be changed in a nanosecond" and Franklin Foer says "it will certainly change elite opinion"), the other reason is the "Will he or Won't he?" speculation about 2008.

He's saying no -- but you can hear the "Run, Al, Run" chant growing louder.

"Democrats are looking everywhere to find their presidential candidate," Graydon Carter told me. "But the solution may be right under their noses."

And I think that the pressure on Gore to run will only increase as we move toward 2008.

Sure, that's a lifetime away in politics. And the shelf-life of movie buzz isn't very long -- I doubt people will be debating the relative merits of X-Men 3 and The Break-Up two months from now, let alone a year and a half.

But the debate over global warming is only going to heat up -- and Gore has a whole campaign planned to ensure that it does.

"We are planning to train a thousand people to be able to deliver the presentation all over the country," he told me, "so we can more quickly reach the tipping point."

With An Inconvenient Truth likely to move the discussion about global warming toward critical mass -- and the White House and the oil companies and the likes of Sen. James 'Global Warming is a Hoax' Inhofe making a mockery of the crisis -- the issue, with Gore as its leading spokesman, will remain in the spotlight.

So at no moment between now and the Democratic convention in the summer of 2008 will those eyeing the Democratic nomination be able to fully relax about not having Gore as a potential rival.

Because of his unique position in the political landscape -- i.e. the 2000 White House winner who wasn't allowed to move in -- and because of the platform his environmental moral crusade provides, Gore won't have to abide by the standard running-for-president timetable. He won't have to hit the usual marks of when to form an exploratory committee, when to officially announce, when to show up in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Instead, he can lay back, bide his time, continue doing what he's doing -- and is so clearly passionate about -- and perhaps be able to chart a path to the Oval Office while avoiding the things about politics that he says "feel toxic" to him.

So today's repeated denials don't really mean very much. Not because he doesn't mean it, but because so much can happen between now and the convention.

Especially if it appears that Hillary is close to securing the nomination. Then the pressure for him to enter the race -- to act as the anti-Hillary -- will increase significantly.

But it's not just that so many Democrats fear a Hillary-led ticket.

The pressure on Gore to run will continue to grow because watching him speak out so eloquently, so passionately, and so personally on this issue -- in other words, displaying real leadership -- is like suddenly being served a steak after a steady diet of fast-food burgers. It's a stark reminder of just how far we've lowered the bar on what we expect from those we elect.

It's as if we've been so pummeled by ersatz candidates espousing focus-group approved piffle that we've come to accept as normal the idea that if you are going to be in politics you are going to have to sell out -- shaped and molded by campaign consultants and pollsters, your ideals and principles wrung out by the very process of becoming a candidate. Each disappointment (et tu, John McCain?) is like a wound, and the scar tissue that remains has desensitized us.

When people are exposed to the new Gore -- authentic, funny, self-deprecating -- you can almost feel their relief and surprise as they suddenly come to face to face with what a real leader could be.

Even major skeptics like myself (and I've never been shy about attacking Gore, as you can see here, here, here, and here) can't help but be affected. It's why he suddenly finds himself surrounded by people all but begging him to run.

And here's an interesting grace note from Cannes: One of the films generating the biggest buzz at the festival is Climate, by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Despite its title, the film has absolutely nothing to do with global warming or climate change. Rather it's the story of a man's inner change. Festival audiences have been mesmerized by the powerful rendering of his transformation.

Is this a cinematic omen of things to come in 2008?

Gore...beyond GoPPig nonsense

Enemy of the People - Al Gore or George Bush?
Review of An Inconvenient Truth

by Bob Burnett

It’s unlikely that the producers of the documentary An Inconvenient Truth thought that they were producing a sequel to Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. But it’s impossible to see this 96-minute film about Al Gore’s single-handed fight to educate America about the dangers of global climate change and not wonder how different things would be if he had won in 2000. It’s hard to forget how close that presidential contest was, the fact that millions of Americans decided that they trusted George Bush more than “wonk man;” that the dark forces of Karl Rove managed to label Al “an enemy of the people.”

Of course, in the alternate universe where Gore won the 2000 election, 9/11 probably would have happened. But we probably wouldn’t have diluted the war on terror by attacking Iraq or crippled our economy by taking on a mountain of debt. And Gore certainly would have recognized the danger posed by Hurricane Katrina. One thing for sure, George Bush wouldn’t have gone on the road, night after night, to show Americans his elaborate multi-media pitch about the evils of global warming.

Most of us remember the 2000 presidential election ending with a disputed Florida vote count, where the Supreme Court ultimately determined the results. But the fact is that George Bush was close to Gore in the popular vote, because millions of Americans liked and trusted Dubya. Under the direction of the Machiavellian Karl Rove, the Bush campaign did a number on Al Gore. A lot of voters were put off by his personality. Americans bought the Bush campaign’s claim that Gore was a liar; that he had boasted of inventing the Internet. On November 7, 2000, many Americans voted for George Bush believing that he was a “good Christian man,” who would usher in “an era responsibility.”

Sensing that it wasn’t “hanging chads” that had defeated him, Gore left the political stage. But he didn’t give up. After taking some time off, he returned to his original, heart-felt message, “Our ability to live on planet earth is at stake.”

Gore’s story parallels that of the protagonist in one of Henrik Ibsen’s most famous plays, An Enemy of the People. Dr. Thomas Stockman discovers that environmental pollution threatens the municipal baths at his small Norwegian community, a health resort. He thinks that if he tells the townspeople the truth, they will believe him and take remedial action. Instead, his fellow citizens brand Stockman “an enemy of the people,” because they are afraid of the economic consequences of his news. They harass him and his family, but Stockman doesn’t leave town. At the end of the play, he declares, “The strongest man in the world is he who stands alone.”

After the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore never left town either. He embarked on a one-man crusade to wake up America to the perils of global climate change, a subject he’d been interested in since his college days. He put together a multi-media presentation and schlepped it back and forth across the US. Gradually the presentation got better and attracted more attention. Eventually it became the subject of the movie that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

While well worth seeing, the documentary has problems. It’s too long. How many times do we need to see Gore walking through airports or sitting in hotel rooms staring soulfully at his laptop computer? And it doesn’t give viewers enough to do. Al refers them to , but he could have shown them what’s being accomplished in green cities such as Curitiba, Brazil. And Gore misses an opportunity to lobby for collective action, the formation of a public-private partnership to address global warming.

Moreover, An Inconvenient Truth can’t decide what it is. Is it an information-oriented documentary about the dangers of global climate change, where Gore does the voice over? Is it a semi-biographical film about Al reinventing himself? Or is it a soft political film implying that the US made a big mistake ditching the wonk man for that cheeky Dubya?

Ultimately this is a film about the redemption of Al Gore. How he found moral clarity by standing alone. How Al became a modern Paul Revere traipsing through the US shouting, “Disaster is coming.”

In the process public perception changed and America grew fond of Gore’s wonkishness. He’s no longer labeled “an enemy of the people.” In fact, in some quarters he’s become a kind of folk hero. There are whispers that if Hillary Clinton falters, wonk man might be drafted as the Democrats’ presidential candidate in 2008.

There’s been a reversal of fortune. Americans are waking up to discover that they made a bad mistake electing George Bush. That he can’t be trusted and isn’t even that likeable. That Dubya not only doesn’t have a plan to solve America’s problems, he doesn’t even recognize most of them. Rather than usher in an era of responsibility, he’s championed an era of unbridled self-interest and shortsighted public policies. After five and a half years, it’s Bush who’s become the enemy of the people.

On June 2nd An Inconvenient Truth opens nationwide.

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and Quaker actvist. He is particularly interested in progressive morality and writes frequently on the ethical aspects of political and social issues.

Link to

Great show by Amy Goodman today on Democracy Now!

Naked and Covered with shit While idiot sadist soldier laughs...

Click on image to see larger size, and be taken to a "set" with 43 more of these horrendous photos.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cherishing children is the mark of a civilized society.

By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Monday 22 May 2006

/- Joan Ganz Cooney/

If, as I would like to believe, the above quote suggests all children
and not merely those born in Western democracies, I am no longer certain
that we live in a civilized society.

That women and children suffer the most during times of war is not a new
phenomenon. It is a reality as old as war itself. What Rumsfeld, Rice
and other war criminals of the Cheney administration prefer to call
"collateral damage" translates in English as the inexcusable murder of
and other irreparable harm done to women, children and the elderly
during any military offensive.

US foreign policy in the Middle East manifests itself most starkly in
its impact on the children of Iraq. It is they who continue to pay with
their lives and futures for the brutal follies of our administration.
Starvation under sanctions, and death and suffering during war and
occupation are their lot. Since the beginning of the occupation, Iraqi
children have been affected worst by the violence generated by the
occupying forces and the freedom fighters.

While I had witnessed several instances of this from the time of my
first trip to Iraq in November 2003, I was shaken by a close encounter
with it, a year later, in November 2004.

In a major Baghdad hospital, 12-year-old Fatima Harouz lay in her bed
dazed, amidst a crowded hospital room. She limply waved her bruised arm
at the flies that buzzed over the bed. Her shins, shattered by bullets
when American soldiers fired through the front door of her house, were
both covered in casts. Small plastic drainage bags filled with red fluid
sat upon her abdomen, where she had taken shrapnel from another bullet.

She was from Latifiya, a city just south of Baghdad. Three days before I
saw her, soldiers had attacked her home. Her mother, standing with us in
the hospital, said, "They attacked our home and there weren't even any
resistance fighters in our area." Her brother had been shot and killed,
his wife wounded, and their home ransacked by soldiers. "Before they
left, they killed all of our chickens," added Fatima's mother, her eyes
a mixture of fear, shock and rage. A doctor who was with us as Fatima's
mother narrated the story looked at me and sternly asked, "This is the
freedom … in their Disney Land are there kids just like this?"

The doctors' anger was mild if we consider the magnitude of suffering
that has been inflicted upon the children of Iraq as a direct result of
first the US-backed sanctions and then the failed US occupation.

In a report released by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on
May 2nd of this year, one out of three Iraqi children is malnourished
and underweight.

The report states
that 25% of Iraqi children between the ages of six months and five years
old suffer from either acute or chronic malnutrition. In addition, the
Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) press release on the
matter added, "A 2004 Living Conditions Survey indicated a decrease in
mortality rates among children under five years old since 1999. However,
the results of a September 2005 Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis
- commissioned by Iraq's Central Organization for Statistics and
Information Technology, the World Food Program and UNICEF - showed
worsening conditions since the April 2003 US-led invasion of the country."

Also this month, on May 15th , a news story
<> about the same
UN-backed government survey highlighted that "people are struggling to
cope three years after US-forces overthrew Saddam Hussein." The report
added that "Children are ... major victims of food insecurity," and
described the situation as "alarming." The story continued, "A total of
four million Iraqis, roughly 15 percent of the population, were in dire
need of humanitarian aid including food, up from 11 percent in a 2003
report, the survey of more than 20,000 Iraqi households found.… Decades
of conflict and economic sanctions have had serious effects on Iraqis.
Their consequences have been rising unemployment, illiteracy and, for
some families, the loss of wage earners."

/*But the hearts of small children are delicate organs. A cruel
beginning in this world can twist them into curious shapes.*/
/ - Carson McCullers/

Iraq's ministries of Health and Planning carried out the survey with
support from the UN World Food Program and UNICEF. A spokesman for
UNICEF's Iraq Support Center in Amman, Jordan, David Singh, told Reuters
that the number of acutely malnourished children in Iraq had more than
doubled, from 4% during the last year of Saddam's rule to at least 9% in
2005. He also said, "Until there is a period of relative stability in
Iraq we are going to continue to face these kinds of problems." UNICEF's
special representative for Iraq, Roger Wright, commenting on the dire
effects of the situation, said, "This can irreversibly hamper the young
child's optimal mental/cognitive development, not just their physical

This past March, an article titled "Garbage Dump Second Home for Iraqi
Children <>"
addressed the appalling situation in the northern, Kurdish-controlled
Iraqi city of Sulaimaniyah where young children assist their families in
searching the city garbage dumps. It said that children as young as
seven often accompany their parents to the dumps before school, in order
to look for reusable items such as shoes, clothing and electrical
equipment which is then resold in order to augment the family income.

This disturbing news is not really news in Baghdad. Back in December
2004 I saw children living with their families
in the main dump of the capital city.

Poverty in Iraq has plummeted acutely during the invasion and
occupation. Those who were already surviving on the margins due to years
of deprivation have sunk further, and the children of such families have
recourse to no nutrition, no health care, no education, no present and
no future. Those from less unfortunate backgrounds are now suffering
because the family wage earner has been killed, detained, or lost
employment. Or the source of the family's income, a shop, factory or
farm have been destroyed, or simply because it is impossible to feed a
family under the existing economic conditions of high costs and low to
nil income in Iraq.

As execrable as the current situation is for Iraqi children, most of the
world media, appallingly, does not see it as a story to be covered. Even
back in November 2004, surveys conducted by the UN, aid agencies and the
interim Iraqi government showed that acute malnutrition among young
children had nearly doubled since the US-led invasion took place in the
spring of 2004.

A Washington Post story
"Children Pay Cost of Iraq's Chaos," read, "After the rate of acute
malnutrition among children younger than 5 steadily declined to 4
percent two years ago, it shot up to 7.7 percent this year, according to
a study conducted by Iraq's Health Ministry in cooperation with Norway's
Institute for Applied International Studies and the U.N. Development
Program. The new figure translates to roughly 400,000 Iraqi children
suffering from "wasting," a condition characterized by chronic diarrhea
and dangerous deficiencies of protein."

Not only is the US occupation starving Iraq's children, but occupation
forces regularly detain them as well. It is common knowledge in Iraq
that there have been child prisoners in the most odious prisons, such as
Abu Ghraib, since early on in the occupation. While most, if not all,
corporate media outlets in the US have been loath to visit the subject,
the Sunday Herald in Scotland reported
<> back in August 2004 that "coalition
forces are holding more than 100 children in jails such as Abu Ghraib.
Witnesses claim that the detainees - some as young as 10 - are also
being subjected to rape and torture."

The story read, "It was early last October that Kasim Mehaddi Hilas says
he witnessed the rape of a boy prisoner aged about 15 in the notorious
Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. 'The kid was hurting very bad and they
covered all the doors with sheets,' he said in a statement given to
investigators probing prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib. 'Then, when I heard
the screaming I climbed the door … and I saw [the soldier's name is
deleted] who was wearing a military uniform." Hilas, who was himself
threatened with being sexually assaulted in Abu Ghraib, then described
in horrific detail how the soldier raped 'the little kid.'"

The newspaper's investigation at that time concluded that there were as
many as 107 children being held by occupation forces, although their
names were not known, nor their location or the length of their detention.

In June 2004 an internal UNICEF report, which was not made public, noted
widespread arrest and detention of Iraqi children by US and UK forces. A
section of the report titled "Children in Conflict with the Law or with
Coalition Forces," stated, "In July and August 2003, several meetings
were conducted with CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) … and Ministry
of Justice to address issues related to juvenile justice and the
situation of children detained by the coalition forces … UNICEF is
working through a variety of channels to try and learn more about
conditions for children who are imprisoned or detained, and to ensure
that their rights are respected."

Another section of the report added, "Information on the number, age,
gender and conditions of incarceration is limited. In Basra and Karbala
children arrested for alleged activities targeting the occupying forces
are reported to be routinely transferred to an internee facility in Um
Qasr. The categorization of these children as 'internees' is worrying
since it implies indefinite holding without contact with family,
expectation of trial or due process." The report went on to add, "A
detention centre for children was established in Baghdad, where
according to ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) a
significant number of children were detained. UNICEF was informed that
the coalition forces were planning to transfer all children in adult
facilities to this 'specialized' child detention centre. In July 2003,
UNICEF requested a visit to the centre but access was denied. Poor
security in the area of the detention centre has prevented visits by
independent observers like the ICRC since last December [2003]."

A section of the report which I found very pertinent, as I'd already
witnessed this occurring in Iraq, stated, "The perceived unjust
detention of Iraqi males, including youths, for suspected activities
against the occupying forces has become one of the leading causes for
the mounting frustration among Iraqi youth and the potential for
radicalization of this population group."

On December 17, 2003, at the al-Shahid Adnan Kherala secondary school in
Baghdad, I witnessed US forces detain 16 children who had held a mock,
non-violent, pro-Saddam Hussein the previous day. While forces from the
First Armored Division sealed the school with two large tanks,
helicopters, several Bradley fighting vehicles and at least 10 Humvees,
soldiers loaded the children into a covered truck and drove them to
their base. Meanwhile, the rest of the students remained locked inside
the school until the US military began to exit the area.

Shortly thereafter the doors were unlocked, releasing the frightened
students who flocked out the doors. The youngest were 12 years old, and
none of the students were older than 18. They ran out, many in tears,
while others were enraged as they kicked and shook the front gate. My
interpreter and I were surrounded by frenzied students who yelled, "This
is the democracy? This is the freedom? You see what the Americans are
doing to us here?"

Another student cried out to us, "They took several of my friends! Why
are they taking them to prison? For throwing rocks?" A few blocks away
we spoke with a smaller group of students who had run from the school
(in panic). One student who was crying yelled to me, "Why are they doing
this to us? We are only kids!"

The tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles that were guarding the perimeter
of the school began to rumble down the street beside us, on their
passage out. Several young boys with tears streaming down their faces
picked up stones and hurled them at the tanks as they drove by. Imagine
my horror when I saw the US soldiers on top of the Bradleys begin firing
their M-16's above our heads as we ducked inside a taxi. A soldier on
another Bradley, behind the first, passed and fired randomly above our
heads as well. Kids and pedestrians ran for cover into the shops and
wherever possible.

I remember a little boy, not more than 13 years old, holding a stone and
standing at the edge of the street glaring at the Bradleys as they
rumbled past. Another soldier riding atop another passing Bradley pulled
out his pistol and aimed it at the boy's head and kept him in his sights
until the vehicle rolled out of sight.

One of the students hiding behind our taxi screamed to me, "Who are the
terrorists here now? You have seen this yourself! We are school kids!"

The very next month, in January 2004, I was in an area on the outskirts
of Baghdad that had been pulverized by "Operation Iron Grip." I spoke
with a man at his small farm house. His three year old boy, Halaf Ziad
Halaf, walked up to me and with a worried look
on his face said, "I have seen the Americans here with their tanks. They
want to attack us."

His uncle, who had joined us for tea, leaned over to me and said, "The
Americans are creating the terrorists here by hurting people and causing
their relatives to fight against them. Even this little boy will grow up
hating the Americans because of their policy here."

The slaughter, starvation, detention, torture and sexual assault of
Iraq's children at the hands of US soldiers or by proxy via US foreign
policy, is not a recent phenomenon. It is true that the present US
administration has been brazen and blatant in its crimes in Iraq, but
those willing to bear witness must not forget that Bill Clinton and his
minions played an equally, if not even more devastating role in the
assault on the children of Iraq.

On May 12, 1996, Clinton's Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was
asked by Lesley Stahl on "60 Minutes" about the effects of US sanctions
against Iraq, "We have heard that a half million children have died. I
mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the
price worth it?"

In a response which has now become notorious, Albright replied, "I think
this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."

/*We are guilty of many errors and many faults but our worst crime is
abandoning the children, neglecting the fountain of life. Many of the
things we need can wait. The child cannot. Right now is the time his
bones are being formed, his blood is being made, and his senses are
being developed. To him we cannot answer "Tomorrow." His name is "Today."*/
/- Gabriela Mistral/

To all Americans who, despite voluminous evidence to the contrary,
continue to believe that they are supporting a war for democracy in
Iraq, I would like to say, the way Iraq is headed it will have little
use for democracy and freedom. We must find ways to stop the immoral,
soulless, repugnant occupation if we want the children of Iraq to see
any future at all.

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.